My kind of town

Greetings from balmy Chicago!

Yes, you read that right–balmy. As in warm. It is currently 60 degrees. In Chicago. In January. Insanity.

So yesterday was Day #1 of the TSFT World Domination Tour (TSFT ftw!). Okay, it’s not really called that. That’s my affectionate nickname for it. But how cool would it be if I walked into schools with bitchin’ black boots, a cape, gloves, a monocle, and a cigarette holder while petting a white cat in a diamond-encrusted collar? I could bust out my faux-Bond villain accent: “You vill read zis book und zen I vill control…your very SOULS! MWAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh, Mr. Bubbles Kitty, who is my lovee? You are, yes, you are…”

Sadly, Random House doesn’t have an Author Evil Overload Book Tour Wardrobe Department. However, they do have a nice cafeteria.

And speaking of cafeterias…I did two school visits yesterday. I spent the morning with the fabulous students at Glenbard South High School in Glen Elen, IL. People, they made sandwiches and two different kinds of cupcakes. Two! Perhaps I am not wrong about world domination. I shall begin with sugar. What can I say except that it was twelve kinds of awesome. We talked about first drafts versus revision (My argument being that first drafts are similar to your efforts to impress a girl/guy and puff yourself up and revision is like your best friend in the corner, rolling his/her eyes and going, “Yeah, you totally fart and blame it on the dog. Get real.”) We talked about writing what you love and trying to write honestly. And then we had a Q&A session that rocked my world. This is honestly one of my favorite things–when we get to sit and talk about whatever we like, no b.s. All I can say is the students at Glen Bard South are smart, funny, straight up honest, and I walked away with my head spinning with new thoughts, new feelings, new ideas. And that, my friends, is the best you can ever hope for. Thank you, Glen Bard South.

Next, we traveled on to Lake Park High School East in Roselle, IL. Okay, I have to admit that when I first walked into their AUDITORIUM (!!!)–(in case you missed that, the password is HolycrapthismotherisfreakinghugeI’mgoingtodieauditorium)–which was the size of my COLLEGE auditorium, and saw about 300 students, I about vomited in my own mouth. (Which I hear is more socially appropriate than vomiting in somebody else’s mouth.) In a word: sheer terror. Oh wait, that’s two words. Oh, what do I care? I am on a tour of world domination, people! I will have two kinds of cupcakes and use two words where one will do and Mr. Bubbles Kitty will glare menacingly at anyone who dares oppose me!

What was it like, you ask? Well, anyone ever watched the scene in “Broadcast News” where Albert Brooks goes on air for the first time and promptly goes into a nervous flop sweat so severe that viewers are calling in to the station to make sure he isn’t having a heart attack? Okay, you’ve got the picture–and the feeling. As I think I have mentioned before, public speaking before large crowds=panic for me. And it was a bumpy start. I was like a psychotic hummingbird, heart racing, talking too fast, saying stupid things, ready to eat my entrails and twirl lighted batons if necessary: “Hey, kids, who wants to see me put my leg over my head while eating a ham sandwich? Huh? HUH? How about juggling small dogs?” But then I realized–hey, these guys are way more fun and hilarious and interesting than I am. So we did a writing exercise on stage and THEY KILLED! They were GENIUS! I’m telling you, they came up with characters and book ideas that I wanted them to go away and write THAT MINUTE! It must have been good because I am writing IN ALL CAPS!!! Seriously, they were great. And it just goes to show you, if you get out of your own way and let teens do their thing, they will knock your socks off every time.

Then, the lovely and delightful Elizabeth Mackey (RH publicist extraordinaire) and Bill Young (our amazing author escort here in Chicago who is so interesting he should write his own book) and I grabbed a bite to eat. Our waiter was very nice but he was sporting a serious shiner. All through dinner, Elizabeth, Bill and I debated whether or not to ask about it. Finally, my curiosity got the better of me. (But not Mr. Bubbles Kitty who is, thankfully, still alive. But even if he weren’t it wouldn’t matter as I have 100 clones of him which I made in my secret lab in the side of a mountain. Mwahahahaha!!!!) Turns out the guy was into martial arts and got clocked in a match. I was sort of hoping for something along the lines of, “Some jerk insulted YA literature and I said, ‘Not on my watch, buddy! You better ask, ‘Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret because you are going DOWN, pal!'” But my fantasy life is mine alone, it would seem.

Last but not least, there was a signing at the One and Only Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL. Naperville looks, as Bill said, like the set of “The Truman Show.” Lighted trees and quaint shops. Lovely. And Anderson’s rocks so hard. Jan and Erin, who preside over its majesty with grace and warmth, put on a great event. I heart them very much. To those of you who drove 60 (and 59) miles to come to the signing, I put my hand to my heart and say thanks. It was wonderful to meet and talk with so many of you. It made my night. Jack, thanks for the lovely note–sorry I missed you. And to Dominique who gave me those amazing drawings and Mary Dowd’s diary done in calligraphy…wow! You are mega talented. I can’t remember who gave me the chocolate bars (sorry!) but omg, thanks. I ate one in the car on the way to the hotel and it was like heaven.

These are the sorts of things no one can tell you about but you feel lucky to be a part of them. Right, Mr. Bubbles Kitty?


(That means right.)

I’m off on Day #2 in a few minutes. Here’s the info for tonight’s signing if you’re in the area:

****Borders Books and Music******
****7:00 pm******
1 N. LaGrange Road
LaGrange, IL 60525

I hope to see you there. “Und now, I must put on ze cape and monocle and practice giving my monologue on ze carefully crafted plan of evil literary mind control I haf come up wis in between inventing a very painful home electrolysis kit und eating borscht made wis ze blood of my enemies…Come, Mr. Bubbles Kitty….”

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