Thursday, September 30, 2010

The PAYA Chronicles: Chocolate for the Greater Good

I had survived the Listen and Critique Workshop. I felt like I could run to the end of a certain doomed oceanliner and scream, "I'm the King of the World!" Like I could do a tapdance routine atop the nearest book-covered table. Now, if you remember from several weeks back, the very lovely authors who had critiqued my opening pages had pointed out a whole slew of weaknesses. Also, I had launched a unilateral air strike on a fellow writer with my pen. Accidentally!

So why was I so happy? Because there's nothing worse than knowing there's a problem with your manuscript but not knowing how to fix it. All right, killer clowns that peer into your window late at night, those are probably worse. Natural disasters are also bad. But not being able to fix your manuscript? It's maddening.

Giddy and excited, I made my way back into the main hallway with my friend Aine. There were books that needed buying, you see, but before I could do that, there was an important matter that I had to attend to. More to the point, there was chocolate, in brownie, cookie, and muffin form, that urgently needed my attention.

PAYA was having a bake sale to benefit Pennsylvania libraries. OK, besides my desperate need at that point to eat, how brilliant an idea is that? You mean, by eating this here chocolate muffin, sitting on the table all sad and lonely, I get to help spread the joy of books to Pennsylvania teens? I can promote books by eating chocolate? Sign me up! And while you're at it, toss another muffin into my mouth, thanks.

After I had blown a decent amount of cash on baked goods helping Pennsylvania libraries, I went to get some books for myself. Children's Book World had brought a number of authors' books to sell at PAYA, and I ended up getting Shannon Delany's 13 to Life, Jon Skovron's Struts and Frets, and Amy Brecount White's Forget-Her-Nots. Which seriously, I should have bought a long time ago. There were plenty of other ones I wanted, but my cash resources were becoming fast depleted at this point.

With books in hand, I went to get them signed. I also wanted to talk to the authors, and by 'talk to the authors', I mean I hovered around them nervously, listening to them talk to other people, while I worked up the courage to tell them how awesome they were. Though I don't think I said more than four words to Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead, I had fun listening to her discuss with Aine the thought process behind the book's amazing cover (no, really, check it out).

I also had a real, live, wonderful discussion with Ellen Jensen Abbott, author of Watersmeet, who was incredibly encouraging. Finally, I also met Josh Berk's Dad. He admits to being slightly biased, but he thinks his son is brilliant and that everyone should go read his book. So go read it! Josh Berk's Dad said so!

Before Aine and I prepared to head for home, we waited for the results of the raffle PAYA was holding. There were all sorts of prize packs that included t-shirts, signed ARCs, and yes, swag, glorious swag, with all the money going to benefit Pennsylvania libraries. I really wanted the swag prize pack and I won it! I now have a 13 to Life mouse pad, tons of buttons, a journal (and I love me some journals), signed bookmarks, and more. Yay for swag! Especially when I'll be giving some of it away, along with signed books, in my very first contest. Which will be happening sometime soon-ish.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quoth the Mockingjay, "Nevermore"

Once upon a Monday dreary, while I worked on revisions, eyes so bleary,
Over many a quaint and curious chapter I had gone over many times before,
While I nodded to SJ Tucker, feet a'tapping, suddenly there came a rapping,
As of some one gently tapping, tapping at my bedroom door.
"Goddamn cats," I muttered, "tapping at my bedroom door —
Wanting food, and nothing more."

Then into my bedroom bursting, my temper within me burning,
Soon I heard again a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Knock it off cats!," said I, before noticing something at my window sill;
"What the hell?", said I, "I've never seen anything like this before" —
Let me get these hungry cats away from it before this creature becomes nevermore
Before this creature becomes nevermore

Lifted I the window sill, when, with many a flash and flitter,
In my bedroom stepped a Mockingjay; with feathers black and white with which to soar
"You can't be real," I said to he; "You don't exist, you can't be"
"It's a poem, just go with it" said the Mockingjay; "Now listen to what I have to say, or you'll be spoiled to the ending of Mockingjay forevermore"
"Or you'll be spoiled to the ending of Mockingjay forevermore"

Much I stared in horror at this imaginary fowl to hear news so scary,
For I had managed to stay unspoilered, unspoilered since August Twenty-Four;
"But the National Book Festival is coming," the Mockingjay reminded me
"With Suzanne Collins signing and reading, Surely there you will run into spoilers, spoilers galore"
"So no excuses, no more blogs or Twitter, you must read Mockingjay by September Twenty-Fifth or be spoiled forever, forevermore"

But before the Mockingjay could say another word,
My fat orange cat sprang through the air and tackled it to the floor
Madly thrashing, with feathers flashing, the Mockingjay bolted for the window
And with a shout of "Team Katniss" it spread its wings to fly, disappearing into the night as I told myself, "Wait a minute, it's Jabberjays that are supposed to speak"
But the Mockingjay told me not to over-analyze as it faded from sight and I reached for the book I had gotten at the store, so that I could start reading, my hungry cats still ignored


My apologies for the long absence, after the awesomeness that was PAYA, I got overwhelmed with work and revisions. OK, the revisions were pretty fun. Work? Not so much. I'll have the final installment of my report from PAYA in the next couple of days, but for now, I've got to get started on Mockingjay, or else!

Update: Thanks to work, and my bothersome need to eat and have a roof over my head, I was only able to get half way through the book before I heard Suzanne Collins speak. Luckily for me, Suzanne very kindly but very firmly announced a 'no spoilers' policy at the beginning of the Q&A session, and when one girl wanted to ask a question about the end of Mockingjay, Suzanne told the girl to talk to her after the session was over. So, spoilers averted, and I finished the book early this morning.