A Whole Weekend of Books

I am finally sitting down to review the Bay Area Book Festival! Sometimes life just rolls in like a bulldozer…

This event was the first of its kind in the East Bay, with an estimated 50-60,000 people in attendance. Two days of nonstop immersion in books and readers. So. Much. Fun.

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Photo credit: Jim Hillmann

For starters, I learned that my little 5-seater car can tote 250 books, 3 carts, a box of art prints, and all sorts of other necessary festival paraphernalia. And still leave room to see out the back.

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On June 6-7, whole city blocks of Berkeley were closed to traffic and lined with tables and booths. My illustrator, Amalia Hillmann, and I had a table in the Children’s Area. We had copies of The Illuminator’s Gift and The Illuminator’s Test, a coloring book, art prints of the illustrations (now online here), stickers, bookmarks, and all sorts of fun. There was a little of everything in the space around us: independent author displays, publishing houses, educational foundations, a guy twisting balloon dolphins and swords, and some amazing food trucks.

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Photo credit: Jim Hillmann

I didn’t get away from the table much, but I did check out the art installation at the center of the festival. Lacuna was an interactive sculpture designed to feel like an outdoor library. It was stocked with 50,000 donated books that were free for people to take home. And did they ever! By the end of the weekend, the shelves were almost bare.

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Book jackets fluttered overhead, like the winged ideas enclosed within books.

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Our blue-draped Illuminator table saw a lot of action over the weekend. The Children’s Area was busy almost constantly. It was fun to chat with readers both young and young at heart (I was surprised at how many young readers preferred paperbacks to e-books). I even met a girl named Ellie. She was excited to find a book with a heroine who shared her name. 

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Photo credit: Jim Hillmann

On Saturday we had my amazing mom in residence, painting Vestigian designs on kids’ hands in shimmery metallic colors.

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We also had coloring pages and a box of crayons available. I liked this neon-pink version of Aletheia. The young artist explained that he was helping the islands with their advertising.

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Authors and illustrators gave presentations on a nearby stage throughout the weekend. After her presentation, I got to meet LeUyen Pham, who illustrated Shannon Hale’s latest book, The Princess in Black. She is just as nice as she is talented. She even bought a copy of The Illuminator’s Gift. My only regret is that I didn’t take a picture with her.

By the end of the weekend, I was exhausted, but satisfied. Though I’m not really a big-crowds person, I enjoyed meeting such a diverse assortment of people who all shared my favorite interest: reading. The organizers say they’re already planning next year’s festival for the first weekend in June.

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Photo credit: Amalia Hillmann

I asked one young boy what he liked to read. He answered, “Books!”

That pretty much sums it up.

Literary Candyland

Phew! It’s been a busy month! So far I’ve visited four school groups, with one more to come later this week: one public, one private, and two homeschool co-ops. We’ve done fun activities like making up fantasy names, exploring our 5 senses, and drawing fantasy maps. These students, ranging in age from 8 to 15, consistently amaze me with their insight, creativity, and perseverance. One group was made up of mostly students with dyslexia who use software like Dragon, Siri, or Kindle text-to-speech to overcome their difficulties with print media. Some of them are writing books (or even sequels to books) of their own. It’s always an honor and a joy to meet these fearless young writers. (For details on how to schedule a visit for the 2015-2016 school year, check out my Speaking page.)

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With the school year winding down, it’s now time to mark your calendar for the first bookish event of this summer. I’m SO excited for this one. On June 6-7, downtown Berkeley will be closed to cars and open to readers! The Bay Area Book Festival is the first free, public literary event of its kind in the East Bay. The event is family-friendly and even has a whole area dedicated to children and another for teens. It will be like literary Candyland for two whole days! Here are some reasons to get excited:

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-Appearances by big-time authors like Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) and Judy Blume

A sculpture built of 50,000 books that readers can take home with them!

-Fun activities like book-themed sidewalk chalk painting, a dance performance by the Ballet Folklorico Mexicano, a giant gecko, a farmer’s market, a chance to play with typewriters, and a petting zoo with a baby kangaroo

-An art installation of flying, talking books

-A visit with illustrator Amalia Hillmann and me! We’ll be at a table in the Children’s Area by City Hall, along with lots of other authors, bookstores, and book-related activity booths, including a stage where performances will be going on all weekend. At our table we’ll have coloring pages and face painting from The Voyages of the Legend, lots of different art prints and some cool new art products, and of course, copies of both The Illuminator’s Gift and The Illuminator’s Test. We’ll even be unveiling a reprinted edition of The Illuminator’s Gift at the event, complete with a map and some new illustrations!

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I can’t wait for the Bay Area Book Festival! All the details are on the event website. It will be a weekend of nonstop book fun! I hope to see you there!

Get ready! Get set!

Today is Friday, November 21, 2014.

That means there are just 9 DAYS ‘til the release of Book 2, The Illuminator’s Test, on 12/1/2014!

And I have something special to show you…

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The book cover!!! It’s here, thanks to my talented illustrator Amalia Hillmann, who also did the amazing interior illustrations for this book. Here’s a teaser of the inside…!!

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Haven’t read Book 1 yet? You’re just in time! The e-book version of the award-winning first novel The Illuminator’s Gift will be on sale on Amazon.com over Thanksgiving weekend! It’ll be 99 cents on Black Friday, $1.99 on Small Business Saturday, and $2.99 on…whatever that Sunday is called. Then Book 2, The Illuminator’s Test, releases on Cyber Monday, 12/1!

To celebrate the book release, here are some fun events coming up! Watch for more news here, on my Facebook page, and on Twitter. Or sign up to get updates ahead of time by subscribing to my e-mail newsletter!

11/24-12/12: The Illuminator’s Test tours the Internet! Watch for advance reader reviews, go behind the scenes of the writing process, and even listen to a radio interview! First stop will be an advance review on The Book Sage book review blog on Monday, 11/24. The rest of the stops are posted on my News & Events page and on my social media pages.

12/7: Sidewalk chat at Recycle Books, Campbell! I’ll be hanging out at the sidewalk table outside of Recycle Books with book reviewer Lloyd Russell between 10:15 and 12:15. Stop by and pick up a copy of The Illuminator’s Test or just chat about books (which is my favorite thing ever).

12/13: Book launch party at Village House of Books! Want to get your paperback copy of The Illuminator’s Test in time for Christmas, have it signed, and hang out with illustrator Amalia Hillmann and me, all at the same time? Then come to the book launch party being held at Village House of Books in Los Gatos! On Saturday, December 13, the new store on 21 W Main Street will stay open for us after hours and we can party! Treats, face painting, and art activities from 6:30-7:30, then a read-along, Q&A session, and book signing from 7:30-8. Stop by for a few minutes or stay all evening! Hope you can make it!

Even more fun events are spinning together for 2015! I’m already making plans to speak for some fantastic schools, homeschool groups, and book clubs to help kids and teens get excited about reading and writing. I’d love to come visit your organization too! To book me as a speaker for 2015, send me an e-mail

So very many exciting things happening! Buckle your seatbelts; here we go! 

All Day at Panera

I present a short post because I was here all day:

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At a very accommodating local Panera with a certain corner in which three tables can be pushed together.

Want to know what I was doing at this very accommodating local Panera for six hours?

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This.

Sitting with my incredibly talented illustrator Mollie, planning… *drumroll please*

…illustrations for the sequel to The Illluminator’s Gift!

Be excited, because we are VERY excited. Stay tuned for updates!

Squee!

California Bookstore Day

Last Saturday was California Bookstore Day–a statewide day of celebrating books and the independent shops that create warm, welcoming community spaces for them.

Better than Christmas, right?

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Photo credit: Rebecca Hillmann/The Eclectic Illustrator

My friend and cover illustrator, Amalia Hillmann, and I spent the day glorying in the adorable children’s nook at Village House of Books. My book’s original cover art was displayed by a window, where the warm light made the gold paint shimmer and sparkle. One of the other visiting authors said it was like “a window into another world.”

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Photo credit: Rebecca Hillmann/The Eclectic Illustrator

We signed copies for some brilliant young readers and got to chat about the process of writing, illustrating, and publishing a book.

Not going to lie: seeing The Illuminator’s Gift on display beside a wall of books including The Giving Tree and If You Give A Mouse A Cookie was a lifelong dream come true.

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Photo credit: Rebecca Hillmann/The Eclectic Illustrator

One of the highlights of the day for me was getting to meet some amazing local authors. A.R. Silverberry, author of the young adult fantasy Wyndano’s Cloak, and I became book friends as we signed copies for each other.

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Photo credit: Rebecca Hillmann/The Eclectic Illustrator

Laughter about fan comments, incriminating book research, and mundane day jobs was interspersed with tips about contracts, cover art, and professional organizations. Though I was the youngest author there, everyone (including shop owners Steve and Cheryl Hare and author liaison Lloyd Russell) made me feel like part of a literary tribe. We’re all just trying to follow the passion that’s been placed within us (and not end up living in cardboard boxes).

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L-R: New friends A.R. Silverberry, Amalia Hillmann, me, Hannah Jayne, and Erica Goss with our books! Photo credit: Rebecca Hillmann/The Eclectic Illustrator

By the end of the day, I was exhausted, but honored to be welcomed into such a smart, quirky, fun book family. I look forward to introducing you to some of these wonderful people via blog interviews this summer!

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My book haul at the end of the day

And of course, a day spent in a bookstore meant I couldn’t come home without books! My dollars ran out before my book cravings did, but I still managed to secure copies of Hannah Jayne’s Under the Gun, Vibrant Words by Erica Goss, Wyndano’s Cloak by A.R. Silverberry, and Mom*Me by Jennifer Castro. All signed, of course. Plus a cheery yellow book bag from Village House of Books.

Now I just need to find more time to read.

 

I’m THRILLED to announce that I’ll be back at Village House of Books for a TIG-specific book party this summer! More details to come, but mark your calendars for the evening of Thursday, July 10th! 

 

Independent Bookstores: Village House of Books

Today we continue our Independent Bookstores blog series at Village House of Books in Los Gatos, CA. I had the pleasure of interviewing owners Steve and Cheryl Hare, the warmest and most down-to-earth bookworms you could imagine.

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This new bookstore just opened its doors on August 17, 2013, but it already has a romantic history–Steve and Cheryl signed the building lease just 8 days before their wedding and ordered books on their honeymoon. Together these book lovers have created an inviting space in artsy, community-oriented Los Gatos.

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Located in a building that’s previously been a hair salon, a yarn store, a guitar hospital, and a yoga wear shop, Village House of Books has a cozy, relaxing feel. Yellow walls, vintage furniture, and thoughtful accents like curtains and chandeliers make it feel like home. And that’s not even mentioning the books.

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Steve and Cheryl say they’ve chosen a lot of the books for their colorful covers as well as their content. They take customer suggestions for which books to stock and special-order books if they don’t have the title in the store. Many of the books are creatively displayed face-out, so it’s easy to meet new books without looking very hard. The staff works closely with local authors in every genre, hosting readings, book clubs, and signings nearly every week.

I even recognized one of the local author books! Lit Knits by my talented friend Audry Nicklin looked quite at home in the nonfiction section.

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Cheryl says her favorite section is the children’s nook, and I have to agree. A wall painting of the Cat in the Hat, a vintage bed window seat, and a fuzzy array of stuffed animals made me want to move in.

So…I did.

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To my delight, The Illuminator’s Gift is now at home in this very section! You can drop by for a copy anytime. But for some extra fun, stop in on Saturday, May 3rd…it’s California Bookstore Day!

On May 3rd, independent bookstores across the state will be flinging their doors open for book lovers to unite! To celebrate, Village House of Books will be hosting about a dozen local authors of all genres…

…and yours truly will be representing the kids’ section!

Come between 10 and 12 in the morning to visit cover illustrator Amalia Hillmann and me! There will be a book signing, a chance to check out TIG’s original cover artwork, and balloons and storytime for the kids. It will be a great day to meet a variety of local authors and book lovers as well as support a beautiful independent bookstore.

I hope to see you at Village House of Books on May 3rd!