Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Day at R.A. Long

When I got to my hotel in Longview, Washington, the high school library club had a giftbag waiting for me. Can you say sugar high?

The next morning started with a radio interview. I even got to do one of those "Caller number seven wins an autographed copy of Thirteen Reasons Why" things. Congratulations, Heather!

Then it was off to beautiful R.A. Long High School.

Before my two presentations in the auditorium (made up of students who'd read the book), I was presented with a proclamation declaring Monday as Jay Asher Day. It was even signed by the mayor!

After each presentation, I did some autographing of books...among other things.

In case you ever doubt that teen literature can save lives, doubt no further. If you'll look above the word PRESS, you'll see a hole. That's a several-dozen-pages deep hole cause by a BB (which probably made the last few chapters harder to understand). Thankfully, this guy was carrying a book in his backpack!

Now, whenever anyone complains about 13RW not being available in paperback yet, I'll just show them this picture.

Then I made several 20-minutes stops in English classes around campus, which I was really nervous about. It was supposed to be off-the-cuff, which meant I had to hope something semi-intelligent would come out of my mouth when I opened it (which isn't always the case). But it turned out to be a lot of fun!

The book signing in the library after school also rocked.

Then I did a TV interview, interviewed by a student at the high school. Her name? Hannah! Everyone who watched the interview was amazed at how easily it flowed and how natural we both seemed. That was all because of Hannah. She definitely has a career in this if she wants it.

The last item on my schedule was a presentation open to the public, which gave me a chance to speak to even more students, as well as adults in the community.

So thank you, Ms. Enders, for putting together a wonderful school visit. I know you worked extremely hard to organize this. Longview is very lucky to have you!

P.S. Thank you, Stacie, for the wonderful introductions before each presentation. And thank you, Trevor, for being a wonderful guide around the campus.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Monday is What Day???

Googling yourself is a nasty habit. Researchers have yet to determine whether or not it causes blindness, but plenty of fellow-writers tell me it’s addictive, so I don’t do it. I’m serious. I don’t!

Anyway, I don’t need to Google myself because that’s what friends are for. Sometimes they’ll forward me links about Thirteen Reasons Why (or its author) which appear in their Google Alerts. And I must say, that does freak me out a bit. Why? Because it means they’ve signed up to receive e-mails whenever anything is said about me online.

Am I wrong, or isn’t that one step away from stalking?

Okay, maybe not. But it still freaks me out!

Next Monday, I’ll be spending a full-day at R.A. Long High School in Longview, Washington. I’ve been excited about this visit for almost a year, working with their super-creative librarian (Hi, Joan!) to make it a great event. But this week I got around a dozen e-mails from my “alerted” friends telling me about an article I just needed to read concerning my upcoming visit. You can check it out for yourself by clicking here.

Monday is going to be a lot of fun, yes. But I must admit to feeling a tad nervous (and totally unworthy) after reading that article. Fortunately, my friends/stalkers tell me that I often say silly/stupid things when I’m nervous…which they also tell me makes me a lot more entertaining.

So Monday should be really entertaining, Longview!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Living (and Reliving) Vicariously

This past weekend, on my annual trek to Writer's Day in San Gabriel, I had many exciting moments. Most of them were due to being excited for other writers, and I'd like to share a couple of them with you.

I went down a day early to meet and have coffee with an author whose first book comes out next year. Lauren Oliver used to be an editorial assistant at Razorbill, the awesome Penguin imprint which publishes my books. In fact, she's the editor who acquired Suzanne Young's forthcoming series, The Naughty List. (Sidenote: I can't wait till Suzanne shows you the cover for Book 1. It's one of the most gotta-pick-it-up covers I've seen!) I had the opportunity to read an early copy of Lauren's teen novel, Before I Fall, and I absolutely loved it. They even let me give it a blurb!

Since Lauren had already helped other authors realize their dreams of getting published, I assumed it wouldn't be as special for her. Boy, was I wrong! She was so excited about eventually seeing her book on bookshelves, I couldn't help but re-experience that same ecstatic anticipation.

I'll tell you more about her book when it gets closer to publication, but here's a photo of my first meeting with Lauren:

As well, I want to re-congratulate Rita Crayon Huang on winning first place in the middle grade fiction category at Writer's Day. I've been hanging out with Rita at these conferences for several years but have never known her to enter one of the contests. Finally, she did...and she won! When they announced her name, the look of complete joy on her face put a very similar look on my face. After they gave out the rest of the awards, I went to dinner (then dessert!) with Rita, Lee Wind, Greg Pincus, and Anastasia Suen. The entire time, no matter what we were talking about, I swear Rita was glowing. It was so very cool!

Yes, I have been having a ton of fun with my own book. But there is something so pure and magical about enjoying the successes of other writers!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Swift Leppard

I've never been a country music fan. I appreciate it, and there are a few songs I can get into, but it never fully connected with me. Because of that, I've never watched CMT (betcha can guess what that stands for!). Sure, some of the shows sound rather interesting. Redneck Dreams. Trick My Truck. My Big Redneck Wedding. And in case you think I'm stereotyping, I'm not. Those are actual shows!

But then I heard a rumor. They have this show called Crossroads where country artists take the stage with musicians from other genres. And apparently my favorite band of all frickin' time made an appearance. So I did some research, and to my astonishment, it was true!

Here's how CMT described it:

Great music knows no boundaries as Great Britain's premiere arena rock band and a country superstar take the stage together in Nashville. You won't want to miss it as Def Leppard and Taylor Swift collaborate on each others' hits in front of an invitation-only audience.
To my total astonishment, the pairing worked. In fact, it rocked! And yet I have no idea how it worked or why it rocked so hard. And since I just discovered it a few hours ago, I have to share it with you.

During college, I once camped out a few days for a chance to get front row seats at a DL show. But then the newspaper ran a photo of us campers and my boss learned I wasn't actually at home suffering with the flu. Another time, in 1999, I called a national morning radio show and did something insanely embarrassing on-air (don't ask!) to get tickets to a live show which was only open to 200 fans. Here's a photo taken with one of the guitarists after that show. (Phil! Remember me?)

And here's a photo I just now found online. (I thought, I wonder if anyone posted a photo from this small show which happened 10 years ago. Turns out the answer is...yep!) You can actually see me standing right next to the stage in the lower-right. Just look for the sideburn and burgundy shirt. Yes, that was one of the happiest moments of my life!

And yes, I know you're jealous. At least, you should be!

Notice: A reader just informed me that the above version of Photograph is up for two CMT Music Awards. As well, Ms. Swift is up for a few more solo awards and DL is up for a song they did featuring Tim McGraw. So...go vote!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Japanese Edition!


Cover with sash:

What does it say? What does it say???

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!!!

Every so often, a reader gives me their impression of my book in a way which deepens my own understanding of what I wrote. A reader in Florida once told me how a decision made by one of my characters helped her illustrate a sentiment she'd been trying to get across to her friends.

Here's what she told me:

In the past, I've had to help friends realize that life goes on even after you've made a poor decision. Not because you move on or get over it, but because you grow as a result of it. You build something new, something with a higher purpose, using what you've learned as one of your bricks.

When I read that, my heart leapt! I knew immediately that I would be using her words in future speeches.

So what does this have to do with having a happy Easter? One of the most beautiful ideas surrounding the holiday is that we're all given the opportunity to make corrections if we find ourselves traveling down a road we really don't want to be on. In fact, we have that opportunity to change every day. Every second! (But sometimes we need a calendar to remind us.) Refresh. Repair. Rebirth. Whatever you need to call it...

Renewal is a wonderful blessing!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Something’s wrong with the kids!!!

I did an interview recently where the interviewer expressed concern about the types of books that were popular with children and teens today. Why are they so obsessed with dark topics? Why don't they read light and funny books? What is wrong with our kids???

So I took a look at the recent New York Times bestsellers list for children’s chapter books. Very interesting! Here are some excerpts from the one-sentence descriptions given to each book:
  • To avoid a killer...
  • Vampire love…
  • Before committing suicide… (This particular book is amazing!!!)
  • …fights for survival…
  • …anorexia.
  • …a dismal swamp…
  • Nightmares…
In order to be fair to children and teen readers, I also took a look at the adult list. And guess what I found!
  • …a young woman’s death.
  • …a dangerous birth defect…
  • …a missing secretary of state whose plane has been shot down.
  • …stop a killer.
  • …a suspicious car crash that killed the first lady.
  • …Nazis.
  • …a floating brothel.
  • …a colleague’s murder.
  • …a voyeur who forces women to strip at gunpoint.
  • …a kidnapped boy.
Yikes! Something is wrong with the adults!!!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Mama Mia, Mama Mia, Mama Mia Let Me Go...

Have you ever been a fan of a band, and when they got really famous you felt special because you liked them way before almost anyone else? (Of course, anyone who claimed to be a fan after you was just a poseur trying to act cool.)

Well, I was a huge fan of Robin Benway's Audrey, Wait! from the day it hit the shelves. I was telling everyone to read the book. And since the book just came out in paperback, I'll take the opportunity to remind you again...read this book. It's hilarious!

If the cost of the hardback was the problem, then the problem was just cut in half. And if you already own the hardback, buy the paperback, too. It's got a brand new cover! After all, that's what a real fan would do. (Ms. Benway talks about the new cover on her blog, which you can jump to by clicking here.)

I'm especially excited and honored because the paperback includes a blurb from me on the back. Check it out...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I'm So Excited & I Just Can't Hide It

If you’ve been snooping around since the Old Blog days, you may remember that my wife has been going in and out of a studio for over a year now, recording a bunch of her songs. The project isn’t done yet…but it’s getting really really close! In fact, the instruments are all recorded. Now it’s just a matter of mixing things until the levels are perfect.

This part of the process has been fascinating to observe because it’s a lot like editing a book. The entire thing is recorded and anyone listening would be able to tell what kind of sound she was going for. Sometimes she would bring home a recording from that day’s session and I would think it sounded complete. Perfect! But then she’d go in a few days later, make one guitar a tiny bit louder, add four notes from a piano, and double one of the vocals. Huge difference!

The other night she brought home a brand new mix with all twelve songs in their final order. We put it in my car stereo and drove from Shell Beach to Santa Margarita and back again in order to listen to the entire thing. And I am so insanely proud of her! JoanMarie is taking such good care of her songs, making sure we hear them exactly as she imagines them.

Now, I know I’m biased, but I feel so lucky to have listened to the recording process of what is turning out to be my favorite album of all time. Totally serious! And not just because I play guitar on several of the songs…

Even though this won’t mean anything to you until the c.d.’s done (and I’ll definitely let you know when that day arrives), here’s the track list:

  • A Stranger
  • What About Me
  • Sunshine
  • Uh Oh, Beautiful
  • In This World
  • It’s Hard
  • Better Than That
  • Above or Below
  • Soul Alone
  • Girl
  • Name
  • Movement Magic
Someone else I’m proud of? Rachel Baruck, an eight grader in Northbrook, Illinois. She entered the Letters About Literature writing contest. To enter, each student wrote a letter to an author, explaining how one of their books changed them. Rachel wrote her letter to me…and she won! Out of 4,800 entries in her state!!! Now her letter moves on to the national level.

Congratulations, Rachel. Good luck. And thank you!