Writing quote

Sure, it's simple writing for kids...Just as simple as raising them.
— Ursula K. LeGuin

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Attendees congregating around the
Goosebottom Books booth
Busy, busy morning. We had a lot of traffic by our booth, got to meet many wonderful librarians and educators. Anne and I handed out numerous postcards and introduced  the Goosebottom books and the upcoming Dastardly Dames series which got much attention. Needless to say, we were exhausted by the end of the day! But all in all, Id' say it was a very productive morning. The afternoon slowed down a bit, but I did get to have a book signed by Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kids author, and listened to a panel discussion with Rick Riordan, his illustrator, producer of the Percy Jackson audiobooks, and the actor who voiced Percy Jackson in the audiobooks.
The Small Press section of ALA
Rick Riordan (in purple shirt) panel discussing what it
was like turning Percy Jackson into audio books

Charlesbridge Publishing editor Alyssa Pusey (left) and I at the Charlesbridge booth

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Beignets at Cafe Du Monde
Breakfast was at the well-known and ever-popular Cafe Du Monde this morning. Three scrumptious beignets, cafĂ© au lait, and 1,000 calories later, we were heading to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to set up our booth with all our books, flyers, posters, and booth paraphenalia. 

Lunch at the Court of Two Sisters
The convention didn't officially start till 5:30 pm., so after arranging our booth, we had time for a leisurely lunch at the Court of Two Sisters. It's one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans, not because of the food, but because of the setting. The tables on the enclosed patio courtyard are draped with white tablecloths and nicely shaded by green umbrellas. A jazz band plays in the background. The buffet encompasses your standard breakfast fare like eggs, bacon, hash, and grits to freshly roasted sliced turkey and beef to the cajun favorites of shrimp creole, gumbo, and jambalaya. And if you're brave enough to try crawdads (also known as craw or crayfish) for the first time, it comes with personal instruction by your waiter on how to eat them. We listened with rapt attention as the waiter at the next table explained the hows of effective crawdad consumption. Mostly, it involves ripping the little guys head off with your teeth, then sucking the juice from its innards. One woman at that table exclaimed, "You mean I have to put my mouth on his head?" 
    "Yes, Ma'am," the waiter replied politely. 

This may not be the best food in town, but it's rare to find a place with better biscuits. They just melt in your mouth!

Setting up the Goosebottom Books booth
The convention hall is huge. Goosebottom Books was all the way at one end in the small press section. On our right was the Maggie McNair booth, a series of three children's picture books self-published by its author Sheila Booth-Alberstadt, a mother of six. 
On our left was another self-published author who wrote a book about a werewolf on a college campus. Yet another self-published author—actually a father and daughter team, Ryan and Anna McKinley—offered their book, The Pirate Bride. They couldn't be at the convention, so the table was manned by a family friend.

The opening of the ALA saw a stream of excited librarians and attendees eager to check out available literary titles at this year's convention. We received much interest and many compliments about the look and design of our books. The Dastardly Dame series drew some "oohs" and "aahs" and a few chuckles, and "I love its". All in all, a good start!

Friday, June 24, 2011


In New Orleans for the American Library Association (ALA) conference! I love this city: the great food, fabulous jazz, exquisite balconies and distinctive character of the French Quarter.

I'm here with Goosebottom Books publisher, Shirin Yim Bridges and editorial assistant, Ann Edwards. We'll be setting up a booth for Goosebottom Books tomorrow. Should be a packed, but fun-filled weekend. 

The flight was uneventful, and after catching a little well-needed snooze, I did manage some research for my Sacagawea book. We made a brief refueling stop in Los Angeles where I met and chatted with Jay Asher, the author of the controversial Thirteen Reasons Why at Starbucks (where else?) He's presenting at ALA.

Editorial Assistant Ann Edwards (L) and
Publisher Shirin Yim Bridges perusing the menu
at Cafe Amelie

Once on the ground, we dropped off our bags at our hotel in the French Quarter, then strolled around and found an outdoor cafe for dinner. Hmm...crab cakes and chicken gumbo in a pretty courtyard—can't beat that for a first night in New Orleans!

We found a bar with some great jazz playing—Jamil Sharif and his band. They were awesome! I bought his CD to bring home. Nothing like a little New Orleans jazz to spice up the evening.

The Jamil Sharif jazz band playing at
Maison Bourbon on Bourbon St., the bar
with the self-proclaimed "Best Jazz in town"

Shirin and Ann on our stroll around the
French Quarter

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Sometimes, when people find out I'm a writer, they ask, "So, where do you get your ideas from?" Call me weird, but I like to browse the sheriff or police log in my local paper. The advantage of living in a small town is:
  1. Rush hour traffic is rare
  2. You run into people you know all the time at the post office, grocery store, library, coffee shop.
  3. Crime is minimal
And the criminals are stupid. Seriously. Truth is stranger than fiction. You can't make this stuff up. 

Like the guy who recently stole a bunch of stuff from a store , and when chased by the police, ran into Starbucks and locked himself in the bathroom. Now, anyone who's a frequent customer of Starbucks, like I am, knows that their bathrooms don't have windows. There's one way out of there—through the door. Talk about painting yourself into a corner! It must have been one of the easiest nabs for our guys in blue.

Then, there's the guy who shoplifted from the grocery store, and tried to make his getaway in a...wait for it...motorized shopping cart. Yep, you know what I'm talking about. The sit-down cart with the basket in the front that goes putt putt down the grocery aisle at two miles per hour. And when the cop walked up to him, and told him to get off the cart, he leapt off and attacked the officer! Now, he's charged with shoplifting and assault. Go figure.

If this doesn't end up in a play or story somewhere, it was at least good for a few hearty chuckles.