The first Barnes & Noble B-Fest Teen Book Festival is happening nationwide June 10-12, 2016. Check your local stores for author events!I will be participating at three locations along with a group of fabulous YA authors:On Friday, June 10 I'll be at Barnes & Noble in Warwick, RI from 6-7pm for an Author Chat & Book signing along with Padma Venkatraman.See event Facebook page for more info.On Saturday, June 11 I'll be at Barnes & Noble in North Dartmouth, MA from 1-2pm for a five YA Author Panel & Book Signing along with Emily Ross, Melissa Schorr, K.R. Conway and Huntley Fitzpatrick (updated).See BN event page for more details on each author.On Sunday, June 12 I'll be at Barnes & Noble in Hyannis, MA from 1-2pm for a five YA Author Character Discussion & Book Signing along with Kate Conway, Laura Woolett, Lauren Roy, and Hillary Monahan.See BN event page for more details on each author. Come out and support local authors!
This is a tremendous and much appreciated THANK YOU!
My debut book launch party for Consider on April 23, 2016 at Barnes & Noble in Dartmouth, Massachusetts was a phenomenal success thanks to the huge local outpouring of support. We sold out of 130 books. Yes, you heard that right. Then people placed more orders. Rumor has it the store has ordered 45 more copies. The line snaked around the store for 90 minutes. I have no idea how many books I actually signed because some people pre-ordered and brought those copies with them. Family, friends, colleagues, students, locals, strangers. People I haven't seen since elementary school. Old high school friends. Readers. Non-readers.I am completely overwhelmed and still in shock.
The whole experience is surreal. When I look at photos, it all seems like a fabulous, unbelievable dream. Well, it was! Not to mention all the local media attention--Fun 107 & WBSM radio, and newspapers, including this amazing Standard Times review by Lauren Daly. I am feeling the local love. Many wonderful people--family, friends, colleagues, librarians, book sellers, and students who I taught over the past fifteen years, pitched in and donated items, time, and talent to help pull off the event.Thank you to all who came out to show your support. Thank you to all those who couldn't come and messaged me with more support. You have no idea what it means to have the community behind me and my debut book as I start on an unpredictable publishing journey and a new phase in my creative life.I am so grateful to have good people in my life.
I'd like to share with you my most touching moment of the day. In order to fully appreciate the scope of this moment, first read my blog post about my "big sister" from the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization when I was a child. Okay. *deep breath* So a family approached the table and handed me a book to sign. As I signed my name, the father put his hands on his son's shoulders said, "This is Sid's grandson." Then he broke down crying. My brain didn't comprehend at first. Then I looked at the father's face. It was my Big Sister's adult son, maybe around 15 years older than I am. The last time I remember seeing him was when I was twelve. He added, "He never got to meet his grandmother. She died before he was born."
I experienced a complete, full circle moment. Here was the grandson of my childhood mentor, a phenomenal woman who fostered my love of books and brought me to the library for years. And here I was, handing her grandson a signed copy of my first young adult book. I felt the loss of her and the love of her and the love of her family all in one moment. Oh, the tears.
There's more. Her son explained that they didn't know about the book signing until that day. A newspaper that they don't subscribe to mysteriously appeared in their mailbox and fell open to my book launch article. You don't need explanations for serendipitous moments like that. As I slid my book over to her grandson, I knew that someday when he reads it, she'll be reading along with him.
It was a truly remarkable life moment to top off a wonderful dream. I feel blessed and truly honored. Thank you for sharing this day with me.
The #ConsiderYourEnd Fan Art Contest inspired artists to create incredible work using scenes from my book, Consider. Thank you to all the artists who participated in the contest; the talent was overwhelming.The winners were announced on social media on April 4. As one of the first place prizes, the winner receives a special feature on my website. So here it is!
First Place SHOWCASE: Meet the artist
Amazing, right? Out of all the submissions, RIOT truly captures Alex's (the main character) emotions and anxiety amid the chaos surrounding her. I can't get enough.
Catherine "Cat" Scully is an illustrator, writer, motion design student, and freelance editor. As illustrator, she has worked on concept art for film, world maps and chapter headings for books, and storyboards for broadcast. She is best known for her world maps in Winterspell by Claire Legrand, her forthcoming maps in 2016 include Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova, and the Seven Forges series by James A. Moore. She is currently a motion design student at the ANVEL in Atlanta, GA, where she is lucky enough to learn motion graphics with a fabulous crew of people. UPDATE: Her debut YA illustrated horror novel, JENNIFER STRANGE, comes out in July 2020! Cat loves drumming, Evil Dead, campy B-movies, classic movie monsters, Sailor Moon, yoga, cooking, and firmly believes she would be sorted into both the Ravenclaw and Slytherin houses. Cat is represented by Lane Heymont of the Seymour Agency and is a member of AIGA and the Horror Writers Association, where she acts as the YA Editor. Check out her website, and follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
I spoke to Cat about her process in creating this winner masterpiece. She said she "dropped the sketch in Corel painter and speed painted it in about three hours" and the sketch "took maybe 20 minutes." Even better, she saved images of her work in stages and was willing to share them with me. I LOVE THIS.
Now even though only first place was supposed to be showcased on my author website, I can't help but at least list all the other winners with their works below.I mean, check these out...
Which one is your favorite?
When I was seven, my mother told me I was getting a "Big Sister" from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Since my brothers were too young for the program, only I would be getting one. I was getting a fake, older sister because I was special. Yeah, I was skeptical, too.
When Mrs. Ferguson arrived that first Wednesday, she limped into our apartment with a metal cane. I received the rejected Big Sister. The Big Grandmother.
She did her research on me, though, and found out that we had something in common. We both loved to read. Our first stop was at the Southworth Public Library in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. I had never been to a library before. She showed me how to navigate the children’s section and gave me space to explore. She headed to the biography section. Back at the counter, Mrs. Ferguson handed over her library card and asked the librarian if I could have an application.
I didn't know they gave kids library cards. No one else in my family had one. I held that application like it was a golden ticket.
After the library, Mrs. Ferguson drove us into the woods. I worried that I was in a real life Hansel and Gretel situation. Bad things happen to children in forests. It turned out her house was an old cabin with weather-beaten shingles camouflaged among the trees. She showed me her wild garden, explaining flowers and plants with names I quickly forgot. I liked how she let them grow free.
Her home brimmed with tangible treasures. Ships in bottles. Intricate silver tins. Yellowed maps. Benches stacked with books. Landscape paintings by her husband. Haunting art photographs taken by her daughter using only a pinhole of light.
Two enormous antique mirrors hung on opposing walls. White Christmas lights sparkled around them even though it was late spring. I remember examining myself full-length in one mirror and seeing my back in the other one across the room. From a certain angle, I could see myself standing behind me as well, and another me, and another, front, back, front, back, like parallel versions of me waiting in different frames for different futures. I lost and found myself in those twinkling mirrors.
Then it was time for baking. This was it—I was a goner, a confection in her oven. She opened a cabinet and pulled out a box of cake mix, saving me from a heart attack. While the cake rose alone in the oven, she taught me to play dominoes, backgammon, and gin rummy. Two hours later, it was time to leave fairy tale land where I got to play the fake princess instead of the broken child.
As time when on, you would think I would've respected my time with her. Nope. As I grew older, it was embarrassing to tell my friends I couldn't go bike riding because I was going with my Big Sister. I lied to them and made up excuses. I didn't want them to think I was abnormal.
I started to test her. Several weeks I pretended to be sick to sabotage the program. I didn't want to be someone’s project. Any normal person would've given up. She kept coming. Every freakin' Wednesday. She was more stubborn and persistent than I was. I gave in and learned how to trust someone.
For seven years Mrs. Ferguson picked me up every Wednesday and brought me to the library and her home. I read Amelia Bedelia, The Phantom Tollbooth, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, The Babysitters Club. I began hiding romance novels from her at the library counter. Moved on to King. Koontz. Alcott. Angelou.
At thirteen, the program ended. She said she would keep in touch. I thought that’s just what people said to make goodbyes easier. But she wrote me cards, and we'd still get together every few months to catch up. Every birthday she would send me a book in the mail. She even met my oldest daughter, and we spent several afternoons together collecting sea glass and blowing bubbles.
Barbara (Sid) Ferguson was a stranger who volunteered to care about me faithfully for twenty years. She taught me about growing up gracefully with passion, connection, and creativity in my life. She had high standards yet broke rules if it would bring joy. Her funeral was an outdoor tea party where guests wore crazy hats and told jokes. Even in death, she had style.
We never talked about my childhood. We didn't talk about anything important or life-altering. And ironically, that time spent not talking about heavy stuff helped me develop my inner peace. Art, nature, creativity, books--these are the spiritual tools of survival that are most often neglected. These helped form my identity so I didn't get stuck in patterns of dysfunction.
She would've been thrilled to hear that I've become a published author. I thank her for giving me the quiet gifts of time and commitment. In 2001 I must’ve written her a letter thanking her. While I don't have my letter to her, I saved her written response. I think it's only fitting to end this blog post by sharing her words to me.