NYC Teen Author Festival Wrap-Up

Hi. I am typing this from my couch. I cannot move from my couch. Hungry for bagel? Too bad. Can’t move from the couch. Need to drink some water? Get used to dehydration. Butt on couch. There is laundry staging a coup in my basement—I’m pretty sure I hear my dirty socks singing a rousing number from “Les Miserables” as they prepare to storm the Bastille of my hamper. Come for my head, dirty socks. You will find me on the couch.

Why so much couch love, you ask? I’m whupped. Been rode hard and put up wet, as we used to say in Texas.

Last week was the NYC Teen Author Festival, and it was a seriously good, seriously busy time. Thanks to the fantastic David Levithan for putting it all together and to the Lady Gaga fabulous librarians from the NYPL for pulling it off with aplomb. Which is very different from pulling something off with a plum. One is chic; the other, post-modern. And pulpy.

You see why I’m sitting on the couch, don’t you? Because this is the state of my brain. I’m giggling at my fruit jokes. This is not a promising sign. This is like being drunk without drinking.

Anyhoo, I’m going to try to wrangle a few brain cells into cooperating so I can do a wrap-up of last week’s events. Work with me, brain cells. Then I will let you watch one episode of “House Hunters.”

Wednesday night, the NYPL hosted John Green, E. Lockhart, David Levithan, and me for a night of Readers’ Theatre, or The Treasure Map to Going Bovine with Will Grayson, Will Grayson. (If I weren’t so whupped, I would do all the necessary thingies to make the links to these authors all linky. But just Google them. Then drop by and say hi. They are lovely people with lovely websites.) Each of us prepared a ten-minute script from our books, assigning parts and reading aloud. First of all, we were led by the EXTREMELY fashionable Chris Shoemaker and Jack Martin, librarians extraordinaire, down into the bowels of the NYPL to a secret room I didn’t even know existed! Some kind of Lucite stairs that led down and down, and I felt very James Bond about it all. I kind of hoped that Book Banning Ninjas™ would pop out of nowhere and be all, “We have come to take away all your copies of Catcher in the Rye and any books with the word ‘scrotum’ in them.” And Jack and I would strike an Intellectual Freedom Fighter pose (and our hair would be so fierce) and say, “Bring it on, Censor Wimps!” And then, from unseen speakers, the Chemical Brothers’ “Block Rockin’ Beats” would blast at eleven while Jack and I took care of business, Library Fabulous Styles™. Chris would drop down from the ceiling with a warrior scream, brandishing the Nunchucks of Literacy™, making intellectual mincemeat of our enemies. We would win, of course, because we read. Then, like Steed and Peel 2.0, we’d stride into the auditorium, knowing that censorship had been defeated for the day. Jack would be wearing his orange pants. I would be in black leather. Chris would have disappeared in a greenish mist.

I’m pretty sure it’s scenarios like this that keep me alone in my basement. But I digress.

Anyhoo, the room was straight-up fancy. It was great to see John, who lives in Indiana and is now the proud father of a GORGEOUS baby boy, and we all oohed and ahhed over the cell phone pics. John is a tired man. Very, very tired. But happy. Also, if you want to know what to get him for his next birthday, I recommend hand sanitizer. Man likes his disinfectant. (Hey, he’s a new dad and all.) I resisted the urge to touch his hands with my grime. What is it about John Green that brings out my most annoying sister urges? I’m sorry, John. You’re so lovely. And smart. And talented. And clean. Very, very clean.

And funny. Because the three of them had me in stitches most of the night. WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON, David & John’s book together, is outrageously funny, like “Glee” on steroids. And hearing David read the character of Tiny Cooper reduced me to tears. I actually snorted. John threatened to take away my part if I couldn’t get it together. Emily’s Ruby Oliver, a wonderful character if ever there was one, gave me the opportunity to talk about boobs. I like to kid Emily that after Frankie and Treasure Map, she is required by YA law to write boobs into everything. Nobody does boob literature better. She is the best of the breast. What I loved with all of their pieces/books is that they manage to move so seamlessly between the hilarity and the truly moving. I felt a bit choked up in places. THE TREASURE MAP OF BOYS by E. Lockhart. WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green & David Levithan. Read them now.

We also read from our works-in-progress. Emily read from a truly charming middle grade book. David read from his forthcoming adult novel, THE DICTIONARY OF LOVE. Brilliant, as all David’s work is. And John read a completely compelling section from a zombie apocalypse novel. I read from BEAUTY QUEENS, you know, that novel I should have finished three times over already. Yeah. I’m on it.

I also had the pleasure that night of meeting Max and Zak, two teens in from Phoenix. They were funny and smart and quirky and completely delightful. Max and Zak—NYC misses you already. Happy trails.

Thursday was the day of the big Sourcebooks Fire Imprint Launch Party at Books of Wonder and Tiger Beat was playing. Cue nerves. Dan and I managed to load up the equipment in Brooklyn and transport everything to BOW. Natalie waited patiently at BOW for the rental equipment. (“At least there’s plenty to read,” she said, in her oh-so-cool Nat way.) Barney showed up right on time for our sound check. And then…the problems started. Major tech issues. We proceeded to spend the next two hours trying to get it worked out. Or Barney the Music Mensch did. I mostly stood by and asked if I could get him a Pepsi. We all agreed that it wouldn’t be a Tiger Beat gig if something didn’t go wrong, so this was a sign that all was right. We actually ran our first song, “Sweet Jane,” as our sound check, and everything went fine. Tiger Beat rocked out as scheduled, and as we saw quite a bit of dancing, I guess it all went okay.

One of the songs we played is an original, which is all about YA literature. It is called, appropriately enough, “YA Song.” I am providing the link to this because someone kindly provided it to me, and it is right here:

A lot of people have asked for the lyrics to “YA Song,” and I promise you will have them soon. * temples fingers like Mr. Burns * Surprise coming up in a few weeks. Watch this space.

The party was loads of fun. They had cheese. How can you not love a party that features cheese? I had a delightful chat with the lovely Adele Griffin, author of PICTURE THE DEAD with Lisa Brown (who was also neato mesquito). Here’s a list of the Sourcebooks Fire authors:
I got to meet some awesome people like Loretta Jo and Sera, who had come in for the week. Newbery Award-winner Rebecca Stead was there (Yay, Rebecca!)
There were so many authors, it was hard to keep count. (Also, I am trying to type this as I prepare to launch myself from the couch and onto a train to Boston. The Boy is asking me questions about which games/videos to bring. I am answering everything with, “Sounds great.” So I hope he didn’t just ask me if he could bring a live snake.)

We all went out for food afterward (cheese can only hold you for so long.) and by the time The Boy and I managed to snag a cab and get home, it was after 11:00 and my pumpkin status was about to assert itself. Whew. What a day.

Dan and I transported the equipment from BOW back to Brooklyn. I had some serious writing to catch up on. And The Boy started spring break. Friday night, I hit the hay so hard I had the imprint of the pillow on my cheek in the morning.

NYPL’s Stuff for the Teen Age at the main branch of the NYPL (the one with the lions. It is impossible for me to go in there without saying to myself, “Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!”) I was the keynote speaker. Nerves again. On the subway ride in with my friend, Brenda, I had a sudden panic attack that I had gotten the time wrong, that the gig started at noon instead of one, and I needed to breathe into a paper bag. It didn’t matter that I had checked and double-checked and triple-checked the time. I was sure THAT I WAS WRONG. Brenda pet my arm and told me in loving terms that I was a freak and the event was at one. I dashed up the steps and into the Bartos Room to discover…that I was about forty-five minutes early. At least I had time to go over my speech and get my blood pressure out of the hummingbird zone.

The speech seemed to go okay—no one threw any produce (though it would have been the only healthy stuff my body had seen in days if they had). I had the chance to chat briefly with the wonderful Chery Karp Ward, the Chair of the Printz committee. I have considered having a little statue of Cheryl on my desk and when I feel like the writing’s not going well, I could turn to my Cheryl statue and say, “Talk to me, Cheryl. Tell me what to do.” I said that out loud, didn’t I? Hmmm. Anyway, I was thrilled to get to see her and am looking forward to hanging out with all the Printz committee members in June at ALA. I met lots of fab librarians at the event. (Fab librarians is redundant, isn’t it?) I also had the pleasure of meeting teens Anna, Violet, and (Oh, shoot!) super-cool chick with the glasses she painted with silver glitter nail polish. I am sorry, super-cool chick. Your name escapes me right now because my brain is mush. But you are still super-cool. And the awesome Tracy Lerner from Random House was there because she rocks.

Afteward, I hung for a bit with the NYPL librarians and fellow authors, and Barry Lyga and I took the train back to Brooklyn together and had a conversation about serial killers. I guess that’s why we had that whole bench to ourselves now that I think about it. Nothing closes out a day quite like a heartfelt conversation about ritual killing. I’m not sure what to say about Barry and me.

My own Barry (the hubby) left for Bologna, Italy, for the Children’s Book Fair for a week. Yeah, nice work if you can get it. There better be some serious chocolate and cheese in my future.

Author palooza! Something like 80 YA authors converged on Books of Wonder for the biggest author signing ever! It was madness. We worked in shifts and it took me back to my relay-running days when we would pass the baton. I half expected Peter Glassman of BOW to shout out, “Stick!” as we shifted. I was part of the first shift (Bray—early alphabet). It was quite the scene. I got to hang with the awesome Nick Burd, author of THE VAST FIELDS OF ORDINARY, a book I loved. Got to meet Maggie Stievater and John Skovion and Gayle Forman among others. It was fun but quick, and then I had to take The Boy to Old Navy to buy pants as he grew out of everything overnight. Sunday night involved Chinese food and watching “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” I was drooling before the end.

This week has involved a lot of trying to put out fires, writing-wise, while being a single parent to an 11-year-old on spring break whose WOW account got hacked. (That was a fun-filled four hours of my life I’d like back, please.) Still haven’t resolved all the World of Warcraft issues, but now, we are heading up to Boston for four days with the BFF and her family.

Her couch is really nice.

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