Sunday, October 28, 2007

Texas Book Festival

Okay okay okay, pretend I'm not here . . .

I just popped back to let people know that this coming weekend (Nov 3 - 4) I'll be at the Texas Book Festival. It looks to be a lot of fun, and if anyone is in the vicinity, well I would just love to meet you!

Anyway here are the details (and now I vanish once more into the ether . . . .oooooooooooooo):

Not for Required Reading

Date: Saturday, November 3, 2007
Time: 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Location: Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar (1120 S. Lamar)

Featuring: Sherman Alexie, Jacques Couvillon, Adrienne Kress (that's me!!!!), April Lurie, Perry Moore, Neal Shusterman, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Brian Yansky

This goes beyond your average reading assignment. The Festival and the Alamo Drafthouse present an exclusive literary event where you can meet some of today's hottest young adult authors, who will be asked random questions by the emcees - no long panel discussions at this event. B&N gift cards will be given away, as well as Drafthouse passes. $10 tickets (which can then be exchanged for $10 of food and drink at the event) are available.

and . . .

Tough Girls

Date: Sunday, November 4, 2007
Time: 1:30 - 2:30
Location: Capitol Extension Room E2.012

Featuring: Cynthia Leitich Smith, April Lurie and Adrienne Kress (me again!!) - moderated by Julie Lake

Girl power is here to stay, which is good because life as a teenager is difficult: These authors' new books all have confident but vulnerable adolescent protagonists who have to do battle with mafia thugs, vicious pirates, and even more vicious vampires.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I must leave you all for a time!

And I am sorry as ever to do it, especially now that I have met so many of you in the comments section of the post below (thank you so much for indulging me everyone, it was really cool).

But I am drawing near, very near, to my deadline for book 2 and I really need to focus all writing energy on that. So it will probably be two weeks, or so before we meet again, but trust me I will be thinking of you all often!

Big sloppy kisses!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

As the Caterpillar said . . .

I saw this on another blog a couple months back and after a few people introduced themselves in the comments section in the last post, I thought it could be a cool idea.

By using my lovely Statcounter, I know there are more of you out there than usually comment. Now I know it isn't international de-lurking month (or was it week, day?) but I have always been a very curious person, as well as someone who really likes meeting new people, so I thought, if you all didn't mind, that maybe you could come out of the shadows, just for this post. You are not obligated to comment all the time or even ever again (as I can imagine that pressure could be there once you have commented once), but just this once . . . could be neat.

So who are you (as the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland would ask)? Do you write and if so what? Anything else that we would find amusing, interesting, or scratch our chins in contemplation over?
Come on my lovely readers . . . step into the light . . .

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Really Special Day

So yesterday was that book launch/reading/signing thingy for Alex at Indigo at Yorkdale that I was telling you all about and it was pretty darn amazing.

My mom and dad basically organised the whole thing, aside from a few mentions here, a mass email and an invite on Facebook, I did basically nothing. They had made postcards, and invited all their friends and extended family. You know, you invite 50 people in the hopes 10 will actually come, that sort of thing?

But what happens when almost everyone you invite shows up?

But back to the start of the tale.

My mom picked me up from my place and we drove up to Yorkdale Mall for around 1pm. For those not in the know, Yorkdale Mall is one of the biggest in the city, and slightly outside of downtown so there is a massive parking lot surrounding it. And on the weekends, the place is packed. Like unbelievably so. It's sort of hard to describe just how packed. Anyway, this matters to the tale later on.

We went up to the children's book section of the Indigo to meet with Wendy who is in charge of the section as well as doing these book launch things. She's done quite a few in the past (in fact almost exactly a year ago we'd been to the book launch of a friend Rona Arato's book Ice Cream Town, and Wendy had helped organised that one as well), and is extremely enthusiastic. I had actually met her at the Scholastic dinner and had a lovely chat.

So with the help of many other fine Indigo staff, along with my aunt Betty who showed up soon after with veggies and dip, and Denise from Scholastic (who even brought me a pen to sign books with), we set up the food and coffee tables and chairs, and the sound system. People were slowly arriving (my good friend Lisa's mother Sabrina arrived early and helped us set out the cupcakes in a very artistic manner). And they just sort of kept coming. And coming. And suddenly I went from, "Eh this is all old hat by now, I've done many readings already" to complete terror as the numbers grew. Fortunately it was a very loving crowd, consisting mostly entirely of family and friends. But it was still pretty overwhelming.

Just before things got started two of my friends showed up dressed as pirates. Let me tell you, I live a strange life that I can have friends who happen to be in the neighbourhood dressed as pirates call me and ask if they should stop by. Of course I said yes (one of them, Scott, had been with me at Word on the Street, the other, Adrianna, added a nice feminine quality. Well as feminine as a pirate can be really . . .)!

Eventually it got to a point where we just had to get things started or people would start to get restless so I signalled Wendy and she gave me just a lovely introduction. Then my pirates carried me over to the table where I began my reading. Silly thing, started talking at the mic, thanking everyone for coming and got completely overwhelmed and started to cry. I was so not expecting that, but when you are staring out at a crowd of people who are all there because they want to show their support, friends, family (all my grandparents and their siblings and their children and cousins and and . . . ), along with several Scholastic folks, well it's a little hard not to feel a bit overcome.

Nonetheless I recovered I think rather admirably, and did my reading.

Afterwards I signed books for I think an hour, the line was long and I had to chat a bit with everyone, as I knew almost all of them. It was a bit too bad that I couldn't talk and hang with them for longer, but I still think the whole thing worked out really well.

As things were clearing out, one of my friends mentioned that two of my friends had been driving around the parking lot for half an hour (told you it was packed) which was why they were late and so I stuck around to wait for them. They showed up as we were cleaning up and I was so grateful that despite it all they still came. So they gave me a high five, we chatted for a few minutes, and then they left. What a way for them to spend a Sunday afternoon!

And then it was over, an hour and a half after it had begun. That's what people call a whirlwind!

Special thanks to everyone at Indigo, you guys were amazing and so helpful! The Scholastic folks, Denise who helped set up, and all the others who showed up just to show their support! All my friends and family, and of course my mom and dad, but (daddy I'm sorry) especially my mom, who really did organise everything - coordinating everything with Scholastic and meeting with Wendy, not to mention getting all the food and decorations, it really was her party! Thank you so much!

Also, I wanted to add that I got to meet Heidi the hick and her hicklettes and it was AWESOME! I love the blogosphere. And can I tell you that it is very odd she likes to hide her face like that because it is a very pretty face and should be shared with the world. Anyway, Heidi, it was great to meet you!

And last but not least, to the Ironic Gentleman, thank you very much for the flowers and survival kit. It was a complete surprise when Wendy presented me with them! (though I really am dying to know who you actually are, so PLEASE tell me!)

It was a pretty darn good day.

And now. . . pictures!!

My friend Ashley showing you all the food table.

My lovely focus group, Heather, Wendy and Harry.

A section of the crowd all paying rapt attention to my amazing reading.

Me rapt-ing my amazing audience.

Me signing and feeling rather overwhelmed.

Me and Wendy (from Indigo) and my two fab pirates!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Political Rant

Yes politics and religion, best not to talk about in polite company, and an odd thing to find discussed on a blog devoted to acting and writing. But I have been feeling very strongly about a recent vote we had here in Ontario and just had to share my opinion with y'all.

I hope you don't mind the digression.

On Wednesday we had a provincial election (we elect Premiers here in Canada). But that isn't really what has got me a bit peeved. What has got me a bit peeved, is that at the same time as we were electing a party to run the province, we were having a referendum. And this is what gets to me, because this referendum was incredibly mismanaged.

First off, very few people knew there was a referendum happening in the first place. I've heard people say things like, "And then there was this extra piece of paper . . . "

And Second, people really did not understand the issue. Which is understandable because watch me try to explain it to you now. The referendum was a vote for whether or not we should change the current way we elect members of parliament. The new version was called MMP: Mixed Member Proportional.

Let's have Wikipedia explain what that is:

"In this system, a voter casts two votes - one for a candidate (or 'local member') and one for a political party. The local member is elected in a first-past-the-post style election and represents the electoral district, while the political party vote determines, in conjunction with the number of elected local members belonging to each party, how many list members a party receives. A list member is a candidate on an ordered list that a party issues before the election; if the MMP formula determines that a party can have more seats than it won locally, it receives a "top up" number of list seats. Under this new system, the Legislature would have 129 seats: 90 local members (70% of the Legislature) and 39 list members (30% of the Legislature)."

Basically there are two ways you can vote (okay I am sure there are more, but for my purposes . . . ) One is you vote for the person you vote for, and whoever gets the most votes wins. Makes sense. This is called "First Past the Post".

BUT, what is John Smith gets 51 votes, and Annie Doe gets 49? Well yes John Smith technically won the election but almost half the population wanted Annie. And then what if in other ridings the same thing happens, and occasionally Annie's party wins some seats, but not as many as John, so that it is still possible that in the end, Annie could have actually had MORE votes than John despite his win.

The "Popular vote" decides the election by actual number of votes cast per party and in such a case, Annie would have won.

The MMP new way of voting would have combined the two ways of voting.

Okay, so there are pros and cons and I have seen sites devoted to why you shouldn't vote for MMP and why you should. I'm not saying MMP is the answer or even what people had to vote for.

My point: Very few people knew there was a referendum, and those that did, didn't understand what the heck the question was about. I know of people who went into the booth, looked at the question and went, "Well I don't know what all this is about, I guess let's just keep it as is" and that was why they voted the way they did.

This was the first referendum Ontario had had in 83 years!! And no one understood, or cared, or even knew about it!

And I put the blame on the media (sure they are an easy target but hear me out). I know every detail of Britney's custody battle, but darn it if even I can explain the MMP thing clearly (and I understand it!)! They tried, there were some television ads that told people to go to a website to read about it (yeah . . . right . . . people are going to do that . . . ), but the MMP thing should have been there all the time, being shoved down our throats so we were getting sick of the topic. Instead . . . well instead it was barely a blip on the radar.

So we get a really pathetic referendum. Yes on the surface: the people voted no. But that isn't what happened. The people voted "I don't know" or "what are you talking about?"

And that's just sad.

Political rant over.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And yet more links . . .

Okay so I'm just showing off now, but in case any of you are interested:

I was interviewed by Allie Boniface over at her blog: Allie's Musings

Also I mentioned how in St. Louis I did a radio interview with the head of the Big Read by phone, well I found the link here. It is around twenty minutes long so be warned . . . .

And now I am getting ready to do a reading at Rosedale Heights again. I really enjoyed my first time back in February, the kids were really supportive. Fingers crossed it's just as great thing time!

Monday, October 08, 2007

And the Adventure continues . . .

Okay. So the whirlwind which was this extra long week has finally come to a close. Not that there still isn't quite a bit coming up in the near future, but man, I have to say, I'm pooped.

Also it isn't exactly like this extra long week was particularly painful. It was, dare I say it, down right pleasant, and as always there is much to share. So, let's get sharing!

The week continued with Wednesday, many weeks do tend continue this way, nonetheless . . . Wednesday evening was the Scholastic Canada dinner at the Gardiner Museum (a ridiculously convenient location for me to get to). It was really lovely, and I got to meet many another author and bookseller. But the highlight for me would have to be getting to chat with Gordon Korman. I loved his books growing up, and when I was little could not get over the fact he was first published by Scholastic at 12. We spoke a bit, can't really remember about what as my internal dialogue was, "I'm talking to Gordon Korman, I'm talking to Gordon Korman, OMG I am talking to Gordon Korman!" And then he signed a copy of his latest book, Schooled, for me, and then . . . tee hee . . . I signed a copy of mine for his kids!

Then I flew out the next day to St Louis Missouri to attend the Big Read Festival.

Toronto being consumed by a thick fog off Lake Ontario. Cool huh?

St Louis was hot. And I was told, unseasonably so (though as I write this Toronto is having its hottest Thanksgiving on record, so I guess it is happening everywhere). I spent the first night hanging out in my room, and then going to bed early as I was visiting schools the next day.

The next day proved to be even hotter, and I was very proud of myself that I had packed so well for the trip - that is summer dresses etc. So I met this lovely woman, Lisa from Left Bank Books who was going to be driving me to my first location, down in the lobby and she informed me that we had to wait for Peter Brown. Now for those of you who have read a lot of this blog, you will remember that Pete is my artist pen pal from New York who is the author and illustrator of the Chowder book series (his latest, The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder just came out). I knew he was going to be at the festival, but I didn't know when I'd see him so it was so cool that we were being driven around together.

We drove to Pete's school first, dropped him off, and then continued to Central Elementary where I got to speak to a gym full of kids. I spoke. I read. We did a Q and A, and it was really fun. The kids were very enthusiastic, as were the teachers (one of them had been reading my book to his class, which was so cool!).

I was supposed to do a radio interview next, but the person who was supposed to pick me up got lost and then ran out of time so had to go to the interview without me. But fear not, the amazing Lisa managed to still get me on the air via telephone. Now it is rather difficult to do a radio interview by telephone. You have no idea if they can hear you, if they want you to stop talking . . . really odd. But I think it went well, and it was pretty fun!

Then I was picked up by a Big Read volunteer Lauren, and we went for lunch, and then she drove me over to Maplewood-Richmond Heights Elementary, where I had to do three presentations in a row. I was concerned how overwhelming the experience might be, but the kids were so enthusiastic, and really sweet, and they all wanted my autograph (yes some rock stars sign certain body parts, I sign backpacks). I wound up having a wonderful time.

Then I was driven back to the hotel by one of the teachers and I just lay on my bed in utter exhaustion. Pete, his girlfriend Vinnetta, and I had considered going site seeing in the afternoon, but it turned out that he too had had a heck of a day so instead we agreed we'd just go for dinner. We went to this really great tapas restaurant called Bar-celona, get it get it? We showed up around 6:30pm and got a seat on the patio. We must have come just at the right time because maybe half an hour later the place was packed and there was a long line waiting to get in. It was such a nice night, the sort of night you totally forget about the weather because it is the perfect temperature.

Pete and Vinnetta at the tapas bar.

We parted ways a couple of hours later, Pete was doing his thing at the Big Read at 9am so he needed to crash, and I watched some tv in my room and went to bed.

I had to check out of the hotel at noon, so I stored my bag in the lobby and went for a brief meander around the Big Read, saw Dorothy Hamill talk in one of the tents, and then met up with the other two authors - Sharon Shinn and Vicki Grove - who were on the Girl Power Hour panel at 2pm with me. I was nervous because I had no idea what I was going to talk about but fortunately neither did Sharon or Vicki. We chatted a bit, figured out a game plan, and then were introduced. We each talked and read for 15 minutes, and then answered questions.

Then it was off to the airport for a long trip home by way of Charlotte and a slightly uncomfortable taxi ride back to my apartment where the driver informed me that this was his first day back after three years. You see he had gotten into a head on collision and spent 3 months in a wheel chair and still got anxiety attacks. Yes it is impressive how well he recovered, and really horrible what happened to him . . . but I don't really think I need to know those particular details of the driver who is navigating his way along the newly slicked roads from the storm that just passed.

But I made it home safely, and have lived to blog about the tale here today.

Just a reminder that this coming Sunday (October 14th) at 2pm, I am doing a book launch/signing/reading thing at Indigo at Yorkdale Mall here in Toronto.

Also I apologise for the lack of me on Etalk. I keep getting bumped so I can't really tell you when I'll be on. However that interview I did for Space, while it hasn't aired on TV yet, you can listen to some of it on the Space Podcast here - just scroll forward just past the halfway mark (though you can listen to the whole thing, the Space podcasts are pretty cool).

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I've been a busy girl!

And rather remiss at posting! But I am sure you will all forgive me once I share with you the details of the week I am having right now.

The week actually started on Friday for me when I was flown out to Providence Rhode Island for the NEBA Trade Show. The plane I was in - 18 seats. Yes. One row of nine seats, an aisle, and another row of nine seats. And no flight attendants so that the co-pilot announced: "If it's too cold or too warm or anything, just knock on the door and let us know!"

Oh and also propellers attached to the wings that were so loud you really couldn't talk to anyone.

The whole plane. I was sitting in row one. This is it folks.

And the view from my seat. The cockpit. Yup, I was practically flying the plane myself.

Anyway, I get into Rhode Island, and a driver is waiting for me holding a sign with my name. He was a really nice guy, used to be a prison guard, and we had a lovely chat. Then I arrived at the hotel, had some room service and then went to the trade show to sign books.

I'd been slotted in for 2:30pm and while I didn't have a huge line like the other authors next to me, I signed consistently for the full half hour. It was fun, and the people I met were really nice.

Then I went back to my hotel and continued to watch the America's Next Top Model marathon I had been watching over lunch (and by marathon I mean a marathon of episodes from a few seasons back, not a marathon with models running or anything, though I think that could be quite amusing, especially if they were doing it in high fashion. And heels.). Then I got ready for dinner with some bookbuyers etc.

Artsy picture of me in my hotel room.

I met Katie and Camille (from Weinstein Books) along with Vincent (Vincent Lam, a fellow author who I talked about back at the BEA thing, he won the Giller, the big book award here in Canada, and is now being published by Weinstein in the states), and we all walked over to the restaurant. We sort of stood around waiting for people to show, and then when they did we had a really lovely time. Amazing food, and everyone was chatty (though I have to say when I started on about Shakespeare, I kind of took over the conversation for a while. Gave a bit of a lecture really - ah well).

Then the next morning Vincent and I flew home (he's from Toronto too) together, in the SAME PLANE (same pilot and everything). And my parents drove us both home from the airport (my parents really like giving rides to people).


The next day was Word on the Street, a book festival that happens in Toronto once a year that takes over an area of downtown by the university.

My name on the list of authors reading!

I was doing a reading at 5:30pm, which is right at the end of the day and I was worried I wouldn't have an audience. So I had asked some of my friends if they would mind dressing as pirates and wrangling an audience together. My friends really like being pirates. They have their own costumes, and weapons and did their job brilliantly well!

But before the reading I met up with my publicist girl person Jessica at the Scholastic booth and she showed me to the VIP section for authors (yes. I know. VIP. Me.). Which is when she had to go back to work so I was all alone feeling silly, and finally just had to jump in the midst of a group of guys who were standing chatting right next to me. They were all very nice, two of them are artists (of the graphic novel variety) and gave me a copy of each of their books - Infinite Kung Fu by Kagan McLeod, and Monster Cops by Chip Zdarsky. I have to say after a quick perusal of the books, the gents are pretty darn talented.

Then I met up with Sherri Vanderveen, author of Belle Falls (and someone I had met on AW) and her friend who is also an author. We chatted about writing, and the crazy world that is our industry, and had a really lovely time. Then I had to go meet my pirates (who had been roaming about the event promoting my reading - darling boys) and go to the Children's Reading Tent.

My pirates totally pulled through for me. When I sat down there weren't that many people there, but my pirates had gone off to do a sword fight and then bring the kids over to me, and they totally did! So I was thrilled that I actually had kids to read to and not just my family (who also turned up and of course it was great that they did, but I mean . . . you want the kids, that's after all for whom the book was written!).

I did the reading, I think it went very well, and then signed a few books. And then that was it. And I was pooped.


THEN . . . . yesterday I had two TV interviews. And I was terrified. Yes I am an actress, but playing yourself is really different and scary. Also I had never done a TV interview before, so I was worried I'd just go on, or talk to fast or . . . Anyway, in the end they both went well (I mean, I had a good time, I have no idea what the finished product looks like or anything) and if any of you guys are in the vicinity check out ETalk on CTV at 7pm tomorrow (Wednesday), and SPACE sometime next week (the podcast should be up sooner - I'll link to it when the time comes).

I'm not sure if I am brave enough to watch them myself though.


MY BOOK OFFICIALLY CAME OUT IN CANADA YESTERDAY!!!! And yes there is something anti-climactic about it seeing as I've seen it in the bookstores for a week now, and have signed many of the copies, but it's still pretty darn cool. So there were some celebratory drinks last night as well.

So that's what I've been up to so far!

Tomorrow I am going to a dinner at the Gardiner Museum hosted by Scholastic, and then on Thursday I fly out to St Louis Missouri for the Big Read Festival. So you see, I truly am a busy girl! And I hope you can forgive my poor blogging habits of late!