Cincinnati–hard to spell, easy to love

I have a new definition of sad. It used to be my 7th grade yearbook photo. But I’ve decided that falls more into the “frightening and pathetic” category. (Two words: puka shells. Two more: feathered hair.) No, sad is when you are on a book tour, and starving, and you get back to your hotel room with a yummy sandwich from Panera Bread that you are literally drooling over as you unwrap it…and you drop one half of it on the hotel carpet. Did you hear me wailing, “Nooooooo!” wherever you are? Did you? Because that is the sound I made, like a kid losing his ice cream cone or a Spanish soccer announcing wanting to call “Goal!” and having to change it at the last minute.

I weep.

Instead of having that other half of the sandwich, I ate an entire chocolate bar. Now I am vibrating and slightly nauseated. I could say I’ll never do that again, but I know I will.

Before I forget, the fabulous Shannon Hale and I are in Ohio today, and here’s where we will be tonight:

Thursday, January 31
7 pm
Books & Co
The Greene
453 Walnut St.
Dayton, OH

So you crazy Ohioans (Buckeyes?) come on down!

I am so behind on my blogging that I will have to catch up this weekend when I am home in NYC. My crew is actually in Hollywood today for the big Spiderwick premiere! Whoo-hoo! So freaking excited! If you get two seconds, please bop over to Holly Black’s LJ and wish her well. This is a big deal. I own the breakfast cereal with Spiderwick books in it and one of the Lunchables and soon I will have a McDonald’s toy. Holly has her own McDonald’s toys, y’all! That is what I’m talking about!

But back to the tour…and my sandwich on the floor…and the shower with no hot water (It was a tough shower, but every part of me is very, very alert now. Very alert.)

Yesterday, I spent time at Kings High School. I had to go solo, without Shannon who was flying in from Utah, but the teens at Kings welcomed me and brought the fun. They told me they could bring it and they did not lie. I found a book on rock stars on the Kings High School library shelf, which I had to bring in for a visual aid, because I think when the rock stars on the cover are Boy George and Tiffany, you need the revised edition. I’m just saying. However, I was sort of stunned to see that my haircut is not so far off from Flock of Seagulls. It made me very nostalgic for my 1980’s self–the one who wore leggings and lacy ankle socks with metal-studded ankle boots, a Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill! t-shirt held together with safety pins, a Jody Whatley crinoline skirt that could have hidden a family of four, fingerless lace gloves, and hair the size of Jersey. Good times, good times…

But getting back to Kings, the teens rocked on their writing exercise–it’s hard not to love a character named “Bus Buddy” or a character who lives in a box or one who fears pancakes. Loved the kid who just kept yelling out the word, “Plagiarism!” at random moments. That’s the stuff that keeps you on your toes as a presenter–like little word firecrackers going off. But my favorite was the boy who fell asleep while I was talking. Yes, I am a dynamic speaker. I move mountains with my speech. I motivate and inspire. And sometimes cause people to lapse into coma. I crawled over and got very, very close to him, my face next to his, and wasn’t he surprised to wake up and see me RIGHT IN HIS FACE with that microphone! Oh, I tell ya–I never get tired of that one: the startle reflex. You should try it with your family and friends. Just wait till they fall asleep, then creep right up on ’em and talk in their ears. Big fun. The kid recovered, and as I understand, they have a PTSD unit at the high school so he should be fine in a few months. Although he may want to skip the next assembly.

Our funny and delightful driver, Kathy, drove us out to the airport to pick up Shannon. Then we were whisked off to a radio interview with Mark White. Mark didn’t quite know what he was getting with the two of us: “Funny, I thought the confirmation said you were both SANE…” But he rolled with the punches, ’cause he’s a very funny guy who also looks great in breeches. (Um, you had to be there. Just think Colin Firth.) Mark looked a little too happy to let us go, although maybe they call security for everyone and that’s just standard, and then we were off to Joseph Beth Booksellers.

Did you know they have a huge pink pig at the front of the J-B store? That they give you t-shirts? That they welcome you a warm fire and even warmer smiles? What’s not to love? We posed with the pig and some delightful girls, and then Shannon and I made our big entrance. And nothing says, “We’re up for ANYTHING, possibly even LOBOTOMIES!” like rolling in on the sliding ladder. Perhaps I should say that Shannon was a vision of grace above my head, like a homecoming queen waving to the adoring crowd. I was just below her, my legs entwined in the slats, holding on for dear life when I realized that I wasn’t really, um, stable on that thing, and today the entire insides of my thighs are bruised from grabbing that ladder with all my might. So pretty. That’s what they say about me–that Libba, she makes a pretty, pretty entrance.

After that, there was nowhere to go but downhill rapidly.People allowed us to continue saying stupid things (because they are very polite in Ohio) and ask each other questions about sock puppet musicals and fermented yak’s milk (delicious with a cookie), and we closed with our big musical number, which just gets weirder by the day. People had come from far away–Charlotte, NC; Indianapolis; Columbus; West Virginia. Shannon and I were totally overwhelmed.

I think that’s the thing that’s hard to explain–how unbelievably astounding and amazing it is to meet everyone. How effing cool you all are. Last night, there were three girls who came–Danielle, Manda, and Christy. They came decked out in t-shirts they had made that said, “Hope, Beauty, Strength” from Rebel Angels. Manda was Pippa, and she had painted a streak of goat’s blood from her mouth to her chin. (Perhaps other people are not charmed by a girl in fake goat’s blood, but that is a sure way to my heart.) They were in costume! And they brought me an antique hat box full of goodies. I was overcome with happiness and admiration. But when I got home and read the cards they wrote to me, I am not ashamed to admit that I was wiping away tears. They sat in a Ford Taurus and wrote me those notes, and I thought, I have the best job in the world. I meet the coolest people. To everyone who has ever come out to a signing or posted in my LJ or taken the time to have a conversation with me or been part of a writing exercise or even fallen asleep while I talked, thank you. You rock so completely.

I’m going to eat some more of the chocolate that Cheyenne brought me. (Thanks, Cheyenne!) Kendra, we signed the poster, no worries.

I’ll post about the rest of San Francisco (Not Your Mother’s Book Club–OMG to the tenth power), Seattle, and Portland when I get home. If you want to read a hilarious account of our time there, you can go to Shannon’s blog: http://oinks.squeetus.com/2008/01/in-conclusion-l.html

In the meantime, hope we see you at Books & Co. tonight.

And as Christy said in her note to me: Realms Rule #12: Don’t Pet the Gorgon.
Solid advice.

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