Friday, November 14, 2014

50 States Against Bullying: INDIANA

School visit number eighteen of the 50 States Against Bullying campaign took place in Indiana. It was a beautiful drive from my last stop, ending at the beautiful Brookville Inn. I’m usually weary about staying at bed & breakfasts because it can feel a loy like being a guest in someone’s house. Someone you’ve never met! As well, after speaking to hundreds of students at a school, I usually just want to be by myself, and sometimes B&B owners want to chat. And I hate “chat”. Chit-chat, small talk, shootin’ the breeze. That’s not me! But it had been arranged for me to stay here, so I drove up and went inside.


Thankfully, these people were great! I found myself asking them questions. And after perusing their selection of books, they were probably people I would love to chat with!

(But I didn’t.)

The next morning, I woke up and it was nineteen-degrees outside. If my son had seen my car windshield, he probably would have asked if Elsa had formed these frozen fractals all around.

(Just kidding. This is a close-up of Elsa's dress!)

At Franklin County High School, notecards were hung in the hallway with care…


and #ReasonsWhyYouMatter were proclaimed far and near. 


(Yes, now you know why the main poem in Thirteen Reasons Why was written by my wife.)

Before I took the stage, thirteen students summed up Hannah Baker’s reasons from the book. And then they did a recitation of Soul Alone (the poem that a lot of people claim is their favorite part of the book...which is the only part I didn't write, so…yeah…).


Whenever I take a photo from the stage, it's hilarious to see people quickly primp for the camera. Even people in the very back!


But it’s one of the most humbling feelings when, after my talk is done and I thank them for listening, this happens.


After speaking, I signed books in the library. Then I hung out in the library to chat as I waited to have lunch with thirteen essay-winning students. Any guesses as to how I got this photo of me sitting at a table?


I swiped it from Twitter, where one of these students shared it!


As I have mentioned before, I wrote the foreword to a recent memoir by Paige Rawl called Positive. She’s an Indiana native and spoke at this same school very recently. So while we haven’t met in person, and I have already signed a few of her books while at a previous stop, this was my first time signing books that she had recently signed herself.


Hopefully soon our paths will cross and we’ll sign books together!

Finally, here are two signs posted outside a factory in Brookville that I thought were beautiful sentiments for a company to send their employees home with.


#ReasonsWhyYouMatter, indeed.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

50 States Against Bullying: OHIO

Stop number seventeen on the 50 States Against Bullying campaign brought me to Ohio. The night before my school visit, I spoke at Cover to Cover, a children's book store. I found the absolute perfect spot to autograph their wall, which already overflowed with drawings and signatures. Since my son loves garbage trucks, I signed above the truck from one of his favorite books, I Stink!


It was freezing when I arrived at Hilliard Bradley High School. Being from the central coast of California where the weather hovers somewhere between nice and pretty nice, I thought the chill was fun! Sometimes I even took off my jacket for no reason other than just because, and people would look at me weird. But all I had to do was tell them I was from California and they seemed to understand.

The school's library windows were decorated with #ReasonsWhyYouMatter cards, and inside they displayed other books that dealt with bullying.


The hallways from the library to the front entrance were covered in posters either inspired by the issues in my book or the book itself. Here are color-coded names from the cassette tapes, each color representing characteristics explained in a separate paper.


Here's a description of the effects of bullying.


And here's an explanation of different types of bullying.


Thirteen Reasons Why is used in classrooms at this school, and one teacher showed me the book she uses for their discussions. One day I would love to sit in on a class as they dissected my book. It'd be so weird! And cool! And scary!


And here are the beautiful people I got to spend my day with.



As I drove to my next state, it began to snow. But not a lot. It looked more like the trucker in front of me had a horrendous case of dandruff and drove with his window down while he headbanged to the radio.

Well, like that...but less gross.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

50 States Against Bullying: KENTUCKY

The sixteenth stop on my 50 States Against Bullying campaign brought me to Oldham County High School in Kentucky!

But since I arrived early, I first took a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. If you haven't been (and I can't believe how many locals haven't!), you should. They take you on a thirty minute walk through the factory where you watch spinning cylinders of wood shaped into bats. It really is fascinating! And the place smells good, too.

Unfortunately, they don't let you take photos inside the factory. But they will let you take a pic of the bat outside!


When I entered the high school, I immediately knew where to find the library. It was the room that had its windows covered with #ReasonsWhyYouMatter cards.


Inside the library, I was welcomed by...um...I can't remember this lady's name. So I'll just call her Annabelle! Annabelle changes her wardrobe throughout the year. Today, she wore a Thirteen Reasons Why t-shirt.


On the back, the t-shirt says...

(This isn't Annabelle. This is a very nice student.)

Before the students entered the auditorium, Colin Mayfield from WLKY interviewed me for the news. I hope they were only shooting me from the chest up, because from the chest down it looks like I'm trying out for Riverdance (the international Irish dancing phenomenon).


As the students arrived, the screen displayed several of the #ReasonsWhyYouMatter cards filled out by students.


And here they are!


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(photo lovingly borrowed from school's Twitter feed)

Here I am with only some of the library aides who helped make sure this event ran without a hitch.



And yes, on the way to my next stop I grabbed a quick bite at KFC!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

TeenReaderCon

I flew out of my little hometown airport...


...took a short layover in Chicago...


...on my way to the first annual TeenReaderCon in Clifton Park, NY.

I've attended a few YA conferences, where a community brings in several authors to discuss their books and writing, and these events are always the peak of fun as an author. Not only does it give me a chance to hang out with and meet my peers, but the audience is made up of rabid readers!

On the way to the auditorium, the halls were lined with floor-to-ceiling paintings reproducing classics by Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, and many others. Plus, there was a beautiful piece made out of paper where the white letters turned into colorful butterflies that flew off onto the wall.


The first presentation was by Coach Rich Johns, giving his "Act with Respect Always" talk, which I've heard about for years and is beautifully inspiring. As part of his presentation, he discusses Thirteen Reasons Why and recites my character's poem, Soul Alone.


Here I am with the awesome dude!



Then all of the authors took the stage for our introductions and to answer some Q & A.


I had never been on a panel with any of these authors before, but would do it again in a second. Such a fun, smart group of people! (I'm so thankful they let me join them.)




Here's the happy bunch with photographer Marisa Geraghty. She'd been taking pics throughout the conference, so they finally made her get into one of them!


Of course, when I called home to describe the event, my son was most impressed by the excavator I passed while talking to him.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

50 States Against Bullying: NEW HAMPSHIRE

Stop number fifteen on the 50 States Against Bullying campaign brought me to New Hampshire. It's my last stop before I head back to California for about a week, so I spent extra time taking detours to enjoy the surroundings.

Here's a river I passed on my way to ConVal High School. It's places like this that allow ConVal to have a bass fishing team. Bass fishing! I don't fish, but even I think that's cool.


This cemetery looks creepily beautiful surrounded by these trees. About a dozen times, people told me, "You should've been here last week when the trees were Peak Color." Yes, Peak Color is a thing! If I was buried in this setting, I'd have to dig my way out of my grave each fall to see the trees. I bet New England zombies even have a saying about that: When it's fall, you just have to get back up again.


Approaching the school entrance, I saw the Thirteen Reasons Why display through the windows. Surrounding the doors were many #ReasonsWhyYouMatter cards already filled out.


Here are all the people I spoke to in the gym, although in this picture I'm first being photographed by two students.


After I spoke, the principal led them in a chorus of "Thank you, Jay Asher!" So, of course, I had to record that.

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Then I spoke to a group of leadership students in the theater, where I answered many questions. This was followed by lunch! When I was in high school, I think I ate cafeteria food once. Not because it was bad, I just either brought mine from home or went to the window where they sold Subway sandwiches ("Spicy Italian, please."). So whenever schools ask if I'd like to eat food from the cafeteria, I always say yes because...it's fun!

I chose to eat at the table where students were filling out #ReasonsWhyYouMatter cards. After writing their message, they got a Halloween candy and a tour wristband. For example, take it away, Anthony...

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It was then time to speak to two different sessions of English students who've all read the book. But the soup I ate at lunch included tiny floating green things (not onions, which I'm sure of because they weren't gross), so I checked my teeth for green things before I spoke.


Walking to the room where I'd meet the students, I spotted this wall design. Since it reminded me of Charlie Brown, I had to take its picture, of course.


When you get to spend hours speaking to students who've all read your book, you get asked some very insightful questions. We discussed Hannah's reactions to situations, metaphors that I may or may not have intentionally put in the story (it could be that I just don't remember, but I don't think they were), and so much more.


On second thought, I take that back. It sounds much smarter to say all of those metaphors were intentional. And they were. They totally were!

Monday, October 27, 2014

50 States Against Bullying: MASSACHUSETTS

The fourteenth stop on my 50 States Against Bullying campaign brought me to Massachusetts. Whenever I travel to a big city, it takes me a while to gain enough courage to step onto buses and the subway. But once I get the courage, it's kind of fun!


I took a bus, and then the subway, to Ottoson Middle School. Like most of the schools I've visited in New England, it was surrounded by beautiful trees. But I really loved the way these pipes covered this school sign with steam, so that's my pic to represent this Ottoson! (Sorry.)


Sometimes I worry about maintaining the attention of hundreds of people sitting on a hard gym floor, but these students were awesome. And there were so many great questions at the end, I could've stayed and chatted with them for the rest of the day.


But I had to do an interview for the student news, and they also had some great questions.


And I obviously gave some really ridiculous answers!