Saturday, September 16, 2017

Popcorn, Please!

"It started with a nail in a tire."

That was the explanation a dad and his teen daughters had for why they were just arriving at the Irvine, CA Barnes & Noble tour stop for Wild Bird as I was packing up to leave.

I had someplace to be, but clearly, they knew how to tell a story. And then I noticed the dad was wearing a Wild Bird pin he'd made himself. 

I put my stuff down, and listened.

Turns out they were all three big Sammy Keyes fans. Turns out they'd driven about 60 miles - a considerable distance, especially given the region's notorious traffic congestion. And, it turns out, there are three Barnes and Noble stores in Irvine. It wasn't just the distance or the traffic that made them so late. They'd gone to the wrong two stores first.

(Hey, when you're stressed and running behind, and you've started your trip with a nail in the tire, you punch in Barnes and Noble, Irvine. You don't think there'll be more than one, let alone three of them.)

Me and my cousin's girls - my "cousin-ettes" - about 10 years ago
Me and my cousin-ettes now, during the Wild Bird tour..
Lucky for me, my presentation had run late. (As Mark would - and did - say, "Shoulda brought popcorn.") Lucky for me, I got to meet this awesome dad and his delightful girls. And after they bought copies of Wild Bird and we talked about the importance of edgy-yet-clean literature for "the kids stuck in between," talk turned to Sammy. 

Want to revive me? Start talking about Sammy like she's real. And this family knew how to do just that. 

Being on book tour sounds glamorous, but it can be exhausting. Especially when you tell your publicist you'd be happy to drive yourself to and around Los Angeles because, come on, you're familiar with the region and that's the only sensible way to approach it. Plus, everything seems doable from the comfort of your office chair. 

I tried to talk Mark out of it, but he took one look at my final itinerary and insisted on coming with me. 7 days, 702 miles, 6 bookstore events, 8 school assemblies, 1 public library, and 14 cities later I'm so glad he did. 

I enjoy in-store events because you get a chance to one-on-one with people who love your work. I love school assemblies because there's nothing better than making middle schoolers laugh when they weren't expecting to. Give me 500 middle schoolers in a hot, sweaty gym and I'm in my wheelhouse. 

But the very best encounters on tour are with people who share their personal stories with you; the quiet stories that tell you that what you do matters. Seeing what impact something I wrote from my heart had on another person's heart is a profound experience. I never, ever let the intensity of a schedule or the weight of fatigue interfere with appreciating the significance of the quiet stories people tell me. Popcorn, please! 

So as the Wild Bird tour continues, I'll look forward to sweating in gymnasiums, meeting dear friends and new ones, too, and hearing any quiet stories readers are willing to share. 

If you're interested in knowing the upcoming public events schedule, check this link.  And if you can't make a tour stop, I'll meet you back here next week. Until then, lean in and don't let go!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Help Me Start A Fire

It's Opening Week(end) for Wild Bird

If you have thought you might want to buy this book - for yourself, for your teen, for your friend, for a Christmas gift, for what/whomever - please consider buying it this week. (Unless you're coming out to see me on tour, and then buy it at that bookstore!)


Because books, like movies, get (or lose) their momentum from that crucial first week of sales/box office. 

I remember reading an interview with Oprah about her movie Beloved which put the reality of opening weekend into harsh perspective. Here's an excerpt:

Q: And then, after 10 years of struggling to get the film made, Beloved opened and Bride of Chucky beat it at the box office.

WINFREY:  I didn’t know what the hell Bride of Chucky was.  And I didn’t know anything about how the movie business worked because I was doing my daily show.  I was all excited.  I didn’t know that you only had one weekend, and then it’s over.  So,  it came out on a Friday, and that Saturday morning I got a call and they said, “That’s it.”  I got the call at like 8:30 in the morning, and by 10:30, I had my face in a bowl of macaroni and cheese.  

Sammy Keyes fans worldwide would have suggested salsa to go with that mac'n'cheese, but wow, how harsh is that? And this is Oprah - an incredibly powerful force in the entertainment world. 

Creative works need a chance to breathe. To seep into hearts and minds and move people. Unfortunately, their success - or how widespread they are viewed or read - is often linked to early lists. If your work doesn't "make box office" opening weekend, people quit breathing oxygen into it; they turn to a new spark happening over there. Years of intense work and passion and hope slowly extinguish.

So, if you like my work, if this book seems like it would be of value to you or someone you know, if you think it's important for teens to have relevant books that are "real" yet clean - and, of course, if it's within your means - please "vote at the box office" this week. (And if you love the book and want to help stoke the fire, tell your friends, and review it online.)

Thank you for your support - some of you have been fanning the flames of my work all along. I can't tell you how much that means to me.  

Order Wild Bird wherever books are sold.
IndieBound  / Amazon / Barnes &  Noble