What’s Up Wednesday

WUWAutumnWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s blog.

What I’m Reading

I still have 100 pages on Allegiant. I know, I know, I’ve been reading it for a week now. But last week I used it as a writing incentive and it worked so well, that I have stretched it out much longer than anticipated. I am feeling many things about this book. I am not sure I am really ready to write about any of it yet.

What I’m Writing

Oh, yeah, so I’ve been writing a lot. Using Allegiant as incentive, plus getting to scenes I was eager to write, plus gearing up for NaNoWriMo resulted in me adding 5,635 words to my WiP.

cheering

I’ve chosen this gif which best illustrates my feelings on that subject.

What Inspires Me

NaNoing. I am thrilled to be participating in NaNo this year. I am psyched. For those of you who don’t know me well, it is important to understand a very core principle about me in order fully grasp the depths at which this event can motivate me:

I am a pathologically competitive person.

iwin

Don’t take that to mean I have to win everything. I do not. I have to win things I should win. Losing something I should win creates a black hole inside me that only cookies can fill. For example: Harry Potter Trivia game; lose that and I die inside. Fantasy Football; if you can get me to sit still and watch a football game any bet hedged will be based solely on costume color. (Right, I said costume.)

Ultimately, my favorite competitor is myself. I am the one I most want to challenge, to trash talk, to provoke. NaNo is a fabulous competition because it isn’t a competition at all —not with other writers anyway — but a competition against your own procrastination and laziness.

Which leads to the truly inspiring aspect of NaNo: the community of writers participating, or spurring NaNo’ers on. I wrote this blog post on Monday that touches more deeply on my feelings. Just know, if we are NaNo buddies, I will be there beside you and will not allow you to wuss out. See above reference to my pathological competitive spirit. In the game of NaNo, we are on a team. And I want to win, and that means I want you to win too.

What Else I’m Up To

This weekend was hectic and filming filled. We shot our biggest sequence of scenes, at our most challenging location, with our most extras (all of the canine variety) and it was overwhelmingly smooth. The final shot of the day saw most of the crew in tears. When you have had something in your head for a long time, it is very easy to build it up to impossible to reach standards, so that when you finally see it played out, the result is anticlimactic. The cast and crew somehow made it even better than it was in my head.

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This weekend is my birthday and our final day of shooting, and I am filled with nervous excitement.

November, where is your sting?

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The internet — or the section populated by aspiring and established writers — is abuzz with preparations for NaNoWriMo. For those who are not writers, let me explain. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, and it is about just that: Writing a novel, however bare bones it may be, in one month. 30 days. 50,000 words.

Last November I was gearing up for another edit on my as-yet to be published novel, Redhunt. November of last year was also the beginning of the end of my family’s time living in NYC. We were grappling with some tough decisions, decisions not really made any easier by my own internal struggle with a novel that had become a major thing in me and my life. Add in our souring relationship with a city that still held our attention, but not our best-interests, along with a  heaping amount of homesickness and the realization that home was decidedly different, and, well…you catch my drift.

Plus, my birthday is November 3rd. I am a person who lives in conflict with the day of their birth. I want the fact of my existence to be celebrated, but I don’t want to be confronted with the things left undone at the end of another year. I wasn’t always this way. In my teens and early 20s, I was actually quite the ambitious birthday haver. There was my 17th birthday, when I had an Academy Award themed costume party. Or my 24th when I threw a joint Murder Mystery Dinner Party with my birthday buddy Sam. But as my 20s have gone on, a switch has been flipped that makes my insides writhe in panic as my birthday approaches.

So, consequently, I usually approach November fighting anxiety armed with liquor and snark. I hide out or argue. I grumble. And all of this tends to last until I start getting excited about Thanksgiving, and pie, and family interactions out of a movie that have no actual bearing on reality or the family I really have. That leads right into more grumbling and usually extended Gilmore Girls viewing sessions and coffee spiked with Baileys.

All that, and it’s not even Christmas yet.

But not this year. In the throws of romancing a new novel, and in the thick of filming a short film, my usual moody, broody ugliness has become something different.

It has been a long time since I have been able to face November with more than a scowl and some empty threats. But as I, and the rest of the writing community gear up for NaNo, and November reminds me how I hate it and love it, threatening another Thanksgiving where I want to hide in the kids playroom with a bottle of whiskey and a puzzle, reminding me there is still no word on my novel, there is still no certainty that this year I will be braver, or smarter, or skinnier; I don’t flinch.

I make fake blood. I sew a coffin cover. I write 5,000 words in a week. I let anxiety settle around me, driving me forward not holding me back.

I realize I’m not alone. Not in wanting to be further along in my writing journey than I am. Not in dreading the last birthday in my 20s. Not in any of it.

Right now, writers all around the world are sitting at their computers, or are working at their day jobs, or are chasing their toddlers, and they are all feeling as wondrously uncertain and filled with anticipation as I. What NaNo reminds me of is that at the core of everything we do we nurture a simple, visceral need to connect. To know that this game is played by others. That we move along the road, not alone in our misery, not separate in our celebration, but as a part of the larger, the greater, the wider. That what we want is also what someone else wants. That what we see and feel, is felt by others.

Knowing we aren’t really alone in the struggle against sagging boobs and underachievement allows us to stop fighting the losing battle, and get to the one we can win. And so this year, November taunts, but I can’t hear her jeers over the sound of my writing playlist and encouragement from fellow writers huddled in the trenches beside me.

What’s Up Wednesday

WUWRocketWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s blog.

What I’m Reading

My Maggie Stiefvater induced book hangover lasted longer than I would have liked. To be honest, thoughts about The Dream Thieves still distract me from my normal routine. However, if anything could tempt me to move on from my revelry, it would be the hotly anticipated and massively popular (for good reason) Allegiant.

Reading Allegiant

Reading Allegiant

I don’t think I have to tell you guys who wrote it, or what I’m most looking forward to about reading it (Four/Tobias POV chapters), or why I am nervous about accidental spoiler reveals and not wanting it to be ruined for myself. I am not too far into the text, but it is already oddly bittersweet to know this book ends a trilogy that, in some very specific ways, was what made me certain I should be writing YA. I am nervous. Someone hold me.

What I’m Writing

When I finally reclaimed my week from Ravens, I was able to write, and I actually wrote quite steadily and with urgency, racking up a little over 3105 words. I am now anbit antsy to get to the coming scenes, which I have been looking forward to writing since I started. The tricky thing is deciding how exactly to layer the scenes in order to get the best possible result from what I have planned. As my CPs know, I enjoy inflicting pain, bewilderment, and swoons on my reader; the best scenes include all three.

(Insert Maniacal Laugh)

I have also been thinking about the sequel to my novel (hopefully someone else will see it’s a novel and be willing to rep it) Redhunt. That has brought up some emotional conflicts within myself that I am mulling. I have to take it slowly. I have to stop arguing with my MC, which goes something like this:

Me: You’re being withholding.

Her: You would be too.

Me: Not to my own brain.

Her: Agree to disagree.

Me: Don’t be cheeky, it’s not a good color on you.

Her: It’s better than the other option, which involves a screwdriver to your eye.

Me: That’s it, you are no longer allowed to speak. I’ll do the talking for you.

(I start typing. She fidgets, gets a snack, and begins chewing loudly in my ear.)

Me: This is hopeless.

Her: Finally, you see things my way. Lets burn the mother down.

(I begin to wonder if that thought came from me or her.)

What Inspires Me

Mumford & Sons created the soundtrack to Redhunt, they just aren’t aware. As I mull things and bicker with my MC, this song plays over and over in my head.

Take from that what you will.

Pics from my brother’s wedding because they remind me of Hawaii, and thanks to Hawaii I was inspired to write a new story. And finding this picture of me and my husband dancing was a happy surprise. Sometimes, when reading and writing other peoples love stories you can forget that you are telling a pretty fabulous one with your own life.

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Talking to friends on Twitter. Jaime, host of this blog hop, and I had a particularly awesome chat about The Dream Thieves which confirmed our utter genius (or Maggie Stiefvater’s), and it helped me cope with my own lingering fears and concerns about that series. My CPs, who are all brilliant and funny, make me a better writer, and chatting with them gives me a happy Monday night. That God for Twitter, guys.

What Else I’m Up To

This weekend I had the immense honor and pleasure of being a bridesmaid in my author and close friend, Lindsay Cummings wedding. She is a joy. The wedding location was a rustic fairytale, nestled in the woods close to the barn where she boards her horse.

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Here’s to another fabulous, busy, busy bee of a week!

What’s Up Wednesday

WUWKiteWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s blog.

What I’m Reading

Well. Let me paint you a little picture. Since last Wednesday I have finished A Game of Thrones (Triumph!), reread The Raven Boys (in about day and a half), and read The Dream Thieves (in less than a day). It was a stormy Monday and Tuesday in North Texas. I could, and maybe should, have written words of my own, but upon concluding A Game of Thrones (Hurrah! I loved it like a…everything coming to mind is offensive.) those roguish Raven boys started calling my name; their honeyed, moneyed Virginia twang tugging at my heartstrings like they were harp strings instead. While my son was in school, and storms crackled in the cloudy Texas sky, I just read. I read with abandon, my friends. I could hardly put the books down, and this after having previously read The Raven Boys earlier this year.

To say I enjoyed The Dream Thieves would be like saying I like whiskey. I savor whiskey. I tingle with whiskey. Whiskey and I are dear and long loyal friends. There is almost nothing I can do when reading any Maggie Stiefvater novel except feel completely and utterly other in my own life. Her book world is the real one, the laundry and dirty dishes that don’t do themselves, are the figment. I will at some point elaborate more eloquently about this book, for now I will say these statements:

1) This is Ronan’s book, and it is hard sometimes because of that, but as he is unflinching, so is the book, and in that something special happens.

2) It is hard to choose a Raven boy because they are a unit, though less of a unit in this book than the first.

3) If I had to choose, it would be Gansey. He is also the character I most identify with. Psychoanalysis unwelcome.

4) I want to read it again, but I want it to also be for the first time.

What I’m Writing

Wrote about 2,000 words on my WiP. I was sort of busy this weekend, and then, yeah, see above how two of my writing days were eaten by Ravens, so…but it’s OK. Today words will happen, and lots.

What Inspires Me

Maggie Stiefvater. Her brain is a complicated, magical, and probably very loud place— not unlike 300 Fox Way I think — and reading her books makes me jumpy with wanting. I am convinced she is the only person who can write the books she writes. I am also convinced she should teach me about cars. I also interacted with her on Twitter Tuesday, which was maybe the happiest I’ve ever been on Twitter and quite possibly the most deeply nerdy.

An interaction:

Words from an agent who passed on a partial. An agent who reps some pretty big deal authors. It was not a form rejection, which was made overwhelmingly evident, and so the compliment to both my writing talent and my storytelling ability were incredibly humbling. Passing on my MS was not yippee, but then, neither would be representation without certainty.

What Else I’m Up To

The usual:

Taking care of and spending quality time with my son.

My niece had her first birthday on Saturday, which was pumpkin themed and accompanied by delectable treats. There was this pumpkin mousse dip, and I just wanted to bathe in it.

The Cassie’s Cause crew filmed for eight hours (with lots of breaks and some major hiccups) on Sunday. But we got all the scenes, and these scenes are really some of the most crucial in the whole film. We are at our halfway mark. I may yet survive this.

My husband is in New York on business, my son goes to school, and I have decided I don’t think I should be left home alone. I get nothing accomplished.

To a productive, but not rigid, Wednesday!

The Garden Story

Can I have a bit of earth? To plant seeds in. To make things grow.

~Mary, The Secret Garden

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My mother is a gardener; not just for her own property, no, she manages a 2 acre garden she designed around the seven species of Israel, as well as runs a community garden, a newly planted vineyard, and consults in her increasingly sparse spare time.

But I remember her first as a storyteller.

She was the one who taught me that life is hard, often to a point of breaking you, but if you can tell a story with the pieces somehow you can again become whole. Her family was disassembled by alcoholism and ambition, and she won’t mind me telling you this, eventually suicide and incarceration. My father’s family had a similar tale, but set in the underbelly of East Texas, where gambling and White Lightening, loose women and horse races, lived side-by-side with Sunday school and church picnics.

For both of them, the journey to living their fullest life has been helped along by the telling of stories. The red in their ledger may always stand out, but by turning these marks into stories, they discovered that marks don’t have power at all.

I am not always one to look back, to be willing to say This is where I have been, and let me paint you the picture so you really understand. Sometimes this means I am also not always the best at staying in the moment. Some days, that merely is not acceptable.

I came to my mother’s Israel Prayer garden Thursday, today, or yesterday depending on when you read this — for lunch. I decided to sit in the same seat, with my fingers not typing at keys, and look around for a bit. I decided to listen closely to my mother, something I don’t always get to do now, because now is so full of planning for tomorrow.

I have this memory, and it is not from girlhood, but from young adulthood, which is why this memory is so sweet. When I was fourteen we lived in Colorado. On one side of our house soared Pikes Peak, on the other an evergreen forest that spread out for miles, the trees like little black spikes in the white earth and snow. Our house stood in the middle of nothing, and at night the winds would whip the wooden frame as if punishing it for doing something naughty.

Sometimes the winds were vicious when it wasn’t nighttime. This particular day was like that. I was supposed to be doing a book report, but the book I had chosen (adult literary fiction I picked for the pretty cover) was boring me to tears. I eased up from the couch to watch the trees sway with the onslaught of angry wind, and saw my mother, also reading, in a chair by the fireplace. I began to stare at her. She proceeded to ignore me. I eventually got up, crawled across the floor to her, and sat beside her feet.

“Tell me a story,” I said.

“Aren’t you reading?” she asked, not looking up from her book, which must have been much more interesting than mine.

“I’m done,” I lied. Her eyebrow shot up in disbelief. “For now. Tell me about your high school.”

My mother had many stories about her high school; a drafty old stone building in New England, built sometime after Jesus was born but before The Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan show. I knew the stories well. They involved a secret passage and her best friend Dickie — who I realize now, I totally shipped her with at the time — and troublemaking, because my mom was ever the redheaded troublemaker, and I loved them all.

She closed her book, leaving her finger pressed inside so I knew she was still halfway living in her book, and only partly entertaining my whimsy.

“Ok…”

And she did.

Not all of her stories were as happy as the high school ones. In fact, some were desperately dark. But I didn’t realize that when I was young. I didn’t see the sadness in her eyes when she told me how her older sister had to bake her birthday cake one year — creating a disaster that could only be remedied by chocolate and Coca-Cola— because her mom was too drunk to get out of bed. My mother and her sister eventually went to live with their aunt and uncle in New Hampshire after their father’s death, and their mother was deemed unfit.

My mother’s life changed forever that day, as life tends to do when you lose the one person you were supposed to have forever.

It took me years of listening to her stories to see the message hidden amongst the antics; the lessons she was teaching me about loyalty or honor, friendship or character. The lessons that I would later try to teach my own son by recounting my darkly colorful tales. Without much effort, my mother — or my father, or my uncle, who tells stories that will make you want to find Jesus— managed to form me into one who, not only seeks the stories herself, but places value on the intangible power words can have on molding ones character.

As I sat in the garden, inhaling the scent of fresh blossoming roses, lavender and rosemary mingling together in the cool autumn breeze, I watched my mother work, and I couldn’t help but observe the story she wove there with her shovel and wheelbarrow full of dirt. She pulled out dead plants, or the unruly grass. She turned the soil, pacing around it, rake in hand, plotting the most perfect way to fill the space. She planned, but she also attacked, knowing this task is as much about the known, as the unpredictable.

She doesn’t write like she used to, and now the telling of her stories are for the grandkids nestled on her lap, and not the daughter grown and writing her own. But the knowledge that the vulnerable is also the powerful, that the story appears almost anywhere and everywhere all at once, and with it comes a glimmer of mischief to attack it like a plot of untilled earth; that never goes away. It has evolved into earth filled days and nights laying awake pondering the perfect placement of a group of bushes and some ornamental grass.

It still teaches me, molding me somehow just by the act of her doing it. She’s still telling me her story, and it still helps me find mine.

What’s up Wednesday

WUW7What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s blog.

What I’m Reading

I am tantalizingly close to the end of A Game of Thrones. I’m nearing all the craziness that made season one of the show mind-bendingly fabulous, and in book form, it’s even more gut-wrenching. Experiencing the events that surround and propel the shocking ending, again and this time up close and trapped in my brain, is amazing. I haven’t had much time to read this week, but when I have I am happy to say I’m zooming through pages. The first season of the show followed the book almost to the letter, which is really a triumph. I will be finished before the end of the week.

Next up, rereading The Raven Boys and then jumping into The Dream Thieves. So, I have a lot to look forward to over the next couple of weeks.

What I’m Writing

My WiP has made a play for my heart, and it is winning. Last week, even with exhaustion looming and laundry replicating as if supernaturally fueled, I wrote. A lot. 4,150 words. I was proud and pleased with this progress. The best part was, these scenes are stepping stones to the next big moment in the story, which I’m happy to say I stand in front of now. Making good progress on scenes that aren’t overwhelmingly exciting to write (read: no kissing, no fights, no deaths) gives me warm fuzzies. I think this book is going to be a winner.

What Inspires Me

This article about five Hawaiian words and their deep meanings. Hawaiian language is fascinating. With no root in Latin, like most language, the foundation for the language is much more about the emotion behind the word, how it is said, and how it is interpreted. Language is linked inextricably to the Hawaiian people, and is both firmly rooted, as well as fluid and moving. There is a lyrical, magical quality to the way they speak. 

Working with my CP’s on their books. I won’t say that I am fabulous at giving writing advice because mostly I give advice like I write: from the gut. Not traditional, but sometimes a different method of attack is just what you need. Plus, the more I get to know other writers, the better writer I become.

The cast and crew of Cassie’s Cause. We filmed Saturday for most of the day. At one point, the Editor, the PA’s and I verbally wrote a Middle Grade book we’ve tentatively titled Hawkland. I ran stop signs and proved why I’m not a role model, which seemed to only make me more exciting to the fourteen and sixteen year old actors in my car. I helped the Director uncover his true nature with the mysterious power of his star sign, and the footage from our first two weekends of shooting is fabulous. 

As with my CP’s, being surrounded by talented and creative people ready for anything, forces me to constantly up my game and never rest on my laurels.

What Else I’m Up To

Juicing. I stole my mom’s underused juicer a couple weeks ago, and Monday I finally got around to using it. My son is particularly fond of it as well, and enjoys coming up with “formulas” for mixing.

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Bachelorette Party. My gorgeous, author friend Lindsay Cummings is getting married in a couple of weeks. I have grown to love and respect her over the last six months of getting to know her, and I was excited to celebrate her impending doom.

(Most photographic evidence of this evening is not approved for general audiences.)

An approved photo.

An approved photo.

Happy Wednesday to all!

Conversations with my Husband

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Me trying to justify my ridiculous crush on Jon Snow to my husband:

ME: So, I told them that my crush on Jon Snow was made exponentially more intense because he reminds me of you. (smiles unconvincingly) I mean, if there was ever a character that was like you, it would for real be Jon Snow.

HUSBAND: (eyeing me suspiciously) If I’m Jon Snow, are you Ygritte?

ME:(being thoughtful) Erm…not likely. I don’t fancy myself North of the Wall. I’m Dany.

(He laughs outright.)

ME: (scoffing in offense) Hear me out. She’s got a strong sense of justice, but not necessarily right and wrong. Totally me. She’ll do whatever is necessary to get where she needs to go. (Points to self) And…

HUSBAND: She’s got a dragon.

ME: (eyes widen) She’s got a dragon. (Pauses, thinks about Dragon babies) Plus, she’s hot.

(Husband questions, not for the first time in our marriage, why he puts up with me.)

What’s Up Wednesday

WUWAutumnWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s blog. And in honor of What’s Up Wednesday for the fall, Jaime made some beautiful new buttons. I’ll feature them all over the next few weeks.

(I particularly love this WUW button because fall. Come to here to me, fall.)

What I’m Reading

Nothing new here I’m afraid. Still reading A Game of Thrones, still love it to pieces, though feeling a bit more pressured after Austin Teen Book Fest, where I bought all the books and now they eye me sideways from my bedside table. (More on that in a bit.) I think I’m holding my ground though. I’ve sorted the books into two unmanageable piles that could topple over at any minute, and in no way does that bother me.

What I’m Writing

I had a slow writing week. I eeked out maybe 1000 words before the weekend, then nothing at all over the weekend, (again, more later) then was incoherent much of Monday due to a coffee shortage in my household and my inability to function without caffein as well as my brain frying weekend. However, things picked up Tuesday evening, and I wrote another 800 words on my WiP. Yay words! I love you.

However, being around all those productive, published and pretty writers was just the kick in the pants needed to assure me, yes, in fact, I do want to do this thing and will. So…my coming week will be infused with great inspiration.

What Inspires Me

The Book Fest was inspiring, but possibly more inspiring was the time spent with my sisters-in-law. As someone who grew up in a house full of boys — my five brothers and their filthy friends — I am not always the best at girlfriend stuff. Don’t get me wrong, most of my closest friends are females. I’m not one of those girls who just hung out with guys. No, no, the opposite, I got enough of that nonsense at home. But sisters are different. And these two beautiful women (as well as my other sisters-in-law, who also kick ass) are talent-filled, fun-loving, smart, genuine joys to share my time with. They inspire me to be more ambitious, more understanding, more empathetic; lessons it’s hard to place value on.

The picture of elegance.

The picture of elegance.

The toast at dinner,”To sisters, nerdiness, books–Doctor Who and Jon Snow! Jon Snow!” Kindreds.

What Else I’m Up To

I went on a trip this weekend. Maybe I’ve mentioned it. Down in Austin there was a little book festival where all the awesome authors and all the fantastic books overloaded my senses. I wrote a blog post about it yesterday, which you can check out here if you’re curious. It was a wonderful day. I am so thankful for this and other amazing festivals like it that bring booksellers, authors, and readers together as one.

We had our first day of filming for Cassie’s Cause Sunday afternoon. I was fried from Saturday, but pulled it together long enough to film, and it was worth it. The shoot went fabulously. For an inside look, and pics, check out the Cassie’s Cause blog.

I missed my kiddo this weekend, so I intend to spend some quality time with him, library-ing and ninja turtle-ing, and hugging him as often as he’ll let me.

Happy Wednesday! What’s up with you?

Austin Teen Book Fest 2013, or where all my money now lives.

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Oh, Austin Teen Book Fest, how I adore you. Your incredible panels. Your many fangirl opportunities. How you get me and all the other YA booknerds to the paper and ink core. Where all the books are so intriguing that my credit card was smoking by the time I left for home.

It was a good weekend, starting with the drive down where my sisters-in-law and I covered a wide range of topics including, but not exclusive to, Jon Snow, Doctor Who, ambition, husbands and children, book crushes (more Jon Snow, Four, Gansey, and all the others talk here) etc., and so on. We stopped in West, Texas for some delicious goodness. Some of you may remember West from the news a few months back, but we who’ve made the drive to Austin before, know West as the magical place where the Czech Stop and all the kolaches exist to help us on the road.

We look happy because kolaches in our hands, book festival in our future.

We look happy because kolaches in our hands, book festival in our future.

The sky was weird and wonderful as we drove into a storm, and then promptly out of it again. So, when the clouds broke somewhere near Temple, Texas and a rainbow lit up the gray, we felt as if it was for us and our fellow book loving travelers.

Rainbow, pretty.

Rainbow, pretty.

We arrived in Austin, our spirits and anticipation high, and wandered 6th Street for food and drink, before hitting the sack in preparation of our early rise the next morning.

We walked to the Austin Convention center the next morning, coffee in hand and some more kolaches in our stomachs, and quickly found our seats. My sister-in-law, Celestine agreed to save seats while my other sister-in-law, Stephanie and I checked out the Book People set up across the Exhibit Hall.

You must realize, when I say “checked out”, I mean “gathered under arms until there was no more room and we had to come back later for a second round.” After some panels, because the start of the festival chased us from the Book People to our seats.

I’m going to take a moment here to make sure it’s completely clear how very hard I fangirl Maggie Stiefvater. At some point I will expand on this, maybe with a sonnet and some Maggie Stiefvater book + Me reading it = My Happy Place art, but for now, just know, I think she’s the bees knees.

Maggie Stiefvater rocks!

Maggie Stiefvater rocks!

And she is as fabulous in person as I hoped. Her speech was about being fearless, and how she isn’t, but really is, but not actually, and we all can be too. I actually saw her in the hallway going from one panel to another and had to force myself not stop her. They didn’t want us to, and I would have been hopelessly awkward had I tried, because I get tongue-tied pretty completely by authors I adore. Case in point: I’ve seen Rae Carson three times in person, met her twice, and still have to use my “I will not kiss her” mantra whenever I see her milling around after panels.

I don’t know why.

Back to the Festival. The day was then in full swing, and my group and I, which we added to after Maggie’s Key Note, when we ran into Dallas booknerds Cherie “Little Libba” Stewart and Britnee DeJong. They are what Austin Teen Book Fest is truly about, youngish readers who can’t seem to stop buying, reading, and discussing books.

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The Into the Heart of Darkness panel featured authors Holly Black, Jon Skovron, Mari Mancusi, Robin Wasserman, and April G. Tucholk and was moderated by Dallas-Fort Worth author and Evil Genius, Victoria Scott. The theme was all things devilish and dark, and the authors really got into it. There was a Devil Horn headband, which was passed around between the authors whenever they said something particularly gruesome or black-hearted.

Next we trucked our books and selves back to the Exhibit hall for Fierce Reads vs. Dark Days, which was a game-show style panel pitting the authors from the Fierce Reads Tour and the Dark Days tour against one another. I am a Dark Days girl myself, our house is Slytherin, our chant, a Hiss. I may be biased, but I think the Dark Days ladies killed it.

Grainy pic of the Dark Days authors!

Grainy pic of the Dark Days authors!

Lunchtime! I watched the panel featuring — not eating because I tend to starve myself when excited and nervous — Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars and YA author, and Sarah Dessen, moderated by lovely and eloquent author Lauren Myracle. As a writer of both screenplays and novels, I especially enjoyed listening to Rob Thomas talk about Kickstarter, writing for TV, and maintaining your sane in the crazy of Publishing and Film.

The day was broken up and distracted by getting to meet some cool people I’d connected with online, including Austin based writer and musician Courtney Howell, and the author of the forthcoming novel The Truth About AliceJen Mathieu, whose book you should all put on your TBR pronto, as well as chatting with an agent I respect whose clients I adore.

Us, keepin' it classy with the help of one of the fabulous bookmarks for her book.

Us, keepin’ it classy with the help of one of the fabulous bookmarks for her book.

My afternoon was filled with talent and awesome, on the Powers Strange and Perilous panel with Maggie Stiefvater, Robin LeFevers, Lisa McMann, Cinda Williams Chima, Melissa De La Cruz & Michael Johnston, and moderated by Texas author Rosemary Clement-Moore. The panel spent a lot of time discussing power, real or imagined, and how it can be used in fiction. As a fantasy writer I was enthralled, and intent to soak up all the knowledge they were handing out for free.

Somewhere in there I ate, and then went to buy all the books I’d been noting during panels that I couldn’t live without, plus some literary themed jewelry and another Diet Coke.

The last panel we enjoyed was moderated by local superstar and author of the forthcoming Side Effects May Vary, Julie Murphy, and appropriately titled I Made You a Mixtape. Contemporary YA is not my main subgenre of interest, but this panel featured some just stunningly talented and well-spoken Contemporary writers. Sarah Dessen, Trish Doller, Lauren Myracle, Sara Farizan, and Leila Howland engaged the audience by opening up to questions immediately, and giving funny, but frank, answers when the questions naturally turned to sex, love, and boys in YA.

Holly Black closed the festival with a fabulous, funny, mandated inspiring and tear-jerking by Maggie Stiefvater, speech with accompanying Vampire related slides. At one point she shared some of her vampire research, saying, “If you are running from a vampire, drop loose poppy seeds behind you. Vampires have to stop and count them. Makes me wonder if that’s where this guy comes from.”

Maybe?

Maybe?

Signings ended the day. We divided to conquer. And conquer we did.

A suitcase full of books.

A suitcase full of books.

I particularly love the Austin Teen Book Fest for bringing together so many wonderful and diverse writers, and giving readers a chance to discover lesser known books or authors they might have overlooked in bookstores, while also fostering an atmosphere of camaraderie. Even the authors attending, there to promote their work and themselves, are first and foremost fans. We are all lovers of books, humans who recognize the power words possess, and young at heart no matter our age.

My reading future is...daunting...I mean, thrilling.

My reading future is…daunting…I mean, thrilling.