Monday, 2:35 pm:
I just got back from the biggest confidence boost I've had yet for MAZE. Ya know, it's been incredible to hear for months about how much Random House liked my book and how excited they were to promote it and all that. More than incredible. But deep inside me I had this worried itch because everyone reading it was an adult. What about my core target audience? Ya know, teenagers?
Well, I've heard from the first batch of suspects, and it was most excellent!
Let me back up. I actually had the morning off, which was sweet. I slept in, piddled around, got some work done, went on a walk, all very nice. My only hiccup was I walked about two blocks to this really awesome looking breakfast place, ordered, did the whole bit, then realized I'd left my wallet in the hotel. Doh! I hiked back, got it, returned, and started all over. The guy there was very nice for not hating me or calling me an idiot, two things I'm sure he was thinking in his mind.
At 12:30, Dandy Conway, the Random House sales rep for this area, picked me up. For at least thirty minutes before she arrived, I sat in my room worrying about everything from spontaneous combustion to looking like a dork in front of the kids to world hunger to looking like a dork in front of the kids. It was such a relief when the time finally came.
Dandy, you're awesome! You made me feel right at home and I really enjoyed getting to know you. She even let me be the navigator as we drove to the school. And I didn't get us lost, which was a big bonus.
Jen Laughran from Books Inc. (she's also an agent for the Andrea Brown Literary Agency) met us at Brandeis Hillel Day School. I already feel like Jen and Dandy and I are old friends and could hang for hours talkin' about nothin'. Anyway, soon we met with about twelve 7th graders, all of whom had read advance copies of MAZE beforehand.
I couldn't wait any longer. I'd barely said hi when I point blank asked the group if they liked the book. The resounding calls of "YES!" and "I LOVED it!" were too genuine to fake, and my worries finally washed away.
It was a really fun hour, a definite highlight of my author career so far. They asked me a million questions, the first time I've had the opportunity to really dig in and discuss plot points and specifics with readers on this book. I loved every minute of it. I can't describe the immense relief of seeing actual target readers tell me, and more importantly show me, how much they enjoyed my story. It was amazing. Just amazing.
We ran out of time before I could get everyone's name, but I do remember Phoebe, Abigail, Sam, Arbel (sp?), Izzy, and Dannika the teacher. Sorry guys! You were all awesome, and will always be the first group of MAZE readers, so you're what I call special. Thanks.
Whew. Now I have 2 or 3 hours to work on SCORCH, then Dandy's coming to pick me up for our dinner tonight at the One Market Restaurant. About twenty booksellers and librarians are coming, so I'm excited and nervous to see what that's like.
I'll update this same post when I get back tonight and give you a report.
Monday, 9:56 pm:
That was amazing. I'm an author and should come up with a better word, some kind of nifty run of never-before-seen superlatives, but I can't. Tonight was... freaking awesome. Better?
I just spent three hours with some of the greatest literary professionals in the country, and my little brain could barely handle it. It was a whirlwind of conversation and laughs and industry discussions and getting to know each other. And, to my great honor, a lot of MAZE praising. If these people like it, I'm feelin' pretty good about my chances!
The evening went very simply. Dandy picked me up and we drove to the restaurant about 15 minutes early. There was a private room that was already set up with these cool menus sitting on the plates:
Dandy put out nameplates, and each table had a seat marked "Reserved" for yours truly. The first half hour she and I greeted people as they arrived so I could meet them individually. Then drinks were served and we all mingled for awhile. Once we took our seats, Dandy got things started and had me speak for a few minutes. I honestly have no idea what I said. Seriously. Can't remember. But they laughed a few times, hopefully for the right reasons. (Um, please tell me my fly was up.)
The rest of the evening I took turns at each table, spending roughly a half-hour with each group. I really enjoyed this - far more than I'd dared hoped for. Everyone was down to earth and genuine in their hopes that my book finds success. They all seemed to really like it and many promises were made as to them pushing it in their stores and libraries. All of which made me want to shout with glee and do the Elbow Dance on the tables. (Something my nephew invented. Don't ask.)
Dandy was in charge of moving me around, and it always seemed way too early when she dragged me from one to the other. I had a great, wonderful, fabulous time. Truly.
So, a big shout out and thanks to Dandy and all the fine folks from Books Inc, Book Passage, Clayton Books, Hicklebee's, Kepler's, Rakestraw Books, The Storyteller, Towne Center Books, Alameda Juv. Hall Library, Brook Haven, SF Public Library, and The Girl's Middle School (Walter - thanks for those parting words!). You put me at ease and made me feel like a real bonafide author. Thank you very much.
So, guess I better get to bed. Early flight tomorrow to Seattle. I think I'll try to get brave and ask my driver if I can sit in the front seat.....
Monday, May 11, 2009
Monday, 2:35 pm:
Posted by James Dashner at 3:32 PM