Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ALA and Lots of Summer Stuff

It's about time I updated this blog.

This has been a good, but exceptionally busy summer. That's mostly a really good thing!

I went to ALA in San Francisco, my first visit to the area since I was three years old. It's a beautiful city with almost perfect weather -- Californian friends warned me how cold SF can get, and as a humidity hater I found the nighttime breeze wonderful. It didn't hurt that we had negative twenty temps in Chicago this past winter to properly define what cold means, either.

I met my editor, Anne Hoppe, in person, and enjoyed a great lunch with her and my wife. Unless you live in New York, publishing relationships are often phone call/email/Twitter based, but I've found that shedding a few extra dollars to meet face-to-face with important people who believe in your book is more than worth it. I also got to meet Clarion's publisher, Dinah Stevenson, who oversees an amazing list of authors.

I was also able to track down several former Egmont USA employees who have landed elsewhere, including my former editor and publicist. It's great to see everyone doing so well.

As inconvenient and bananas as my publishing journey has been at times, I'm lucky to have crossed paths with so many talented people.

Some ARCS I nabbed:

I'm currently reading HOODOO by Ronald L. Smith. The setting and atmosphere is amazing, and the story is an excellent slow burn. Certain parts remind me of THE LAST APPRENTICE with a depression-era Alabama backdrop.

I also nabbed Shannon Grogan's FROM WHERE I WATCH YOU, Marieke Nijkamp's THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS, and Sarah J. Schmitt's IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH. I can't wait to read these.

I met many of my fellow debuters as well. Sarah McGuire (author of VALIANT and fellow Egmont USA brethren) was just as charming in person as she is on social media, and the same can be said of Bryce Leung and Kristy Shen, whose LITTLE MISS EVIL I am dying to share with my fourth graders.

It has been admittedly hard to adjust to being a member of the Sweet Sixteens debut group -- I was very comfortable as a Fearless Fifteener, and there's an odd identity crisis that happens when your release date (or in my case, publisher) changes and you get bumped back a year. But it was made all the more easier after our fun meet-up. Once again, it's worth it to meet people in person. Victoria J. Coe and Dana Elmendorf are particularly excellent people, and I wish I could have chatted longer with others who were there.

I know I've missed a few people I met at ALA, so please don't be offended if I failed to mention you. I assure you I was charmed by your personality and demeanor, and will add you to this post as soon as I dig the memory out of my unreliable brain.

I've also hosted three out of four writing workshops at Magic Tree Bookstore in my hometown of Oak Park. They've been a ton of fun, and attendance is steadily climbing! Next week is the last session, and I'm going to have to decide whether or not it's feasible to continue these once a month during the school year. That's a huge commitment during the insanity of the teaching year, so I'm still mulling this over.

I'm saving further thoughts on San Francisco itself for another post. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Small Request of Social Media in Light of California's New Vaccination Law

This is going to be a short post.

Any time the news talks about vaccines, it talks about autism. The level of misinformation varies, but it almost always comes up.

Social media is the same way -- bring up vaccines in a status update, and someone will chime in, guns blazing, about the "autism epidemic."

It gets really tiring.

For that reason, I have a simple request of anyone on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or whatever platform you prefer. I'm not asking you to stop your attempts to link vaccines and autism in children despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I know with many of you that's a lost cause, and you've likely already branded me, inaccurately, a sheep brainwashed by the government.

I will, however, respectfully ask you to stop talking about autism like it's an epidemic to be feared and destroyed. People with autism (and the families that love them) deserve better than to have their personalities equated to a zombie outbreak.

I'm sorry autism scares and confuses you, but that really is something you need to work on at the end of the day.

That is all. Like I said, it's a short post.