Conestoga and some really nice news…
Yesterday was one of those good days. I got a flurry of e-mails from various folks at HarperCollins, letting me know that NIGHTMARE ACADEMY was just named one of five finalists for “Children’s Novel of the Year” from the SCIBA (Southern California Independent Booksellers Association). Last year’s winner was the amazing book THE ADVENTURES OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick, so I’m pretty astounded to be included this year. The awards ceremony is October 18th. I went last year (even though I wasn’t nominated or anything) and had a great time. I just really love this organization. The Southern California Independent Booksellers have been incredibly kind to NIGHTMARE ACADEMY and I’m planning on doing a lot of SoCal events for the release of Book 2.
Anyway, moving on before I bore you to death with my glee…
This was actually the first convention I’ve gone to since my book came out and it was terrific fun. Writing is pretty solitary, so it’s great to get out of the cave and meet readers as well as other authors. I already knew Melissa Marr (she was one of the planners of the convention through “Fangs, Fur & Fey”) but it was fun to have a chance to hang out a little. I only have a handful of author-friends and she’s a really close one, so any chance to get together is welcome. She had all kind of miseries rain down on her — cancelled flight, hotel reservation lost — but she kept her cool and was one of the driving forces behind the convention, along with Elspeth Bloodgood (very nice) and Jeaniene Frost (who always seemed very busy and very friendly — wish I had chatted with her more!)
My good friend Steve Hickman was the Artist Guest of Honor at the convention, and it was really nice to get to hang out with him a bit. We ate a couple steaks together and he presented me with a really lovely early sketch of the painting that ultimately became this:
I’ll see him again next month at DragonCon, which should be fun. By the way, if you can’t tell because of the size of the image, those are the Hags flying Charlie and friends through the Nether.
It was also great to finally meet Tiffany Trent (HALLOWMERE) in person. The first night we were there, she patiently explained the unusual mating habits of a variety of animals. I will never look at an octopus the same way again — or the word “packets”. Very sweet person, very cool, looking forward to seeing her again.
There were so many other great people there that I hesitate to list them because I don’t want to leave someone out…
Patrice Michelle was really nice. We were on a fun panel together where a stunt troupe called “The Twisted Blades” staged fight sequences from our novels. It was moderated by Marie Brennan, who was ALSO very cool (and sort of brilliant — or at least she talked very fast and knew big words). Thank God she was also incredibly sweet or she would have been too intimidating.
On Saturday night, a group of us hung out in Melissa’s room and I got to spend some time with Mark Del Franco, who was awesome. Just a warm guy and funny, with a really nice energy about him — not to get too new-agey. Also, Illona Andrews was there, who turned out to be one of the funniest storytellers I have EVER met — and I’ve seen some pretty good ones. She has a thick Russian accent and her tales of pigs and corpses and life in Russia was just… breathtakingly hilarious.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes was very nice and is sort of a genius in that way that makes you want to kill yourself because she’s only, like, 23 or something and has already published numerous books and is doing some shockingly complicated and cool university research on monkey learning, which brings her to “monkey island” on occasion — and why she’s not currently writing a book called MONKEY ISLAND, I have no idea. Also in the “young and brilliant” category was Sarah Rees Brennan, who was visiting the states from Ireland and whose first book comes out next year.
Man… who am I missing? Dakota Cassidy was a hilarious character who hissed “you’re dead to me” every time I passed her because I failed to hang out with she and her group on Friday night. In fact, I caught grief from all of them — Mark Henry (VERY funny) as well as Jaye Wells and Leah Hodge (who were both equally as funny — in fact, they were all on a panel ABOUT being funny — at 9 am in the morning — which is not a funny time to talk about being funny). Mark and I hung out on Sunday at the airport while we waited for our planes, which was a nice way to pass the time.
Let’s see, Rachel Vincent was also really nice and I got to see Maria again, who runs Melissa Marr’s WICKED LOVELY fansite. Her dad took her to the convention (how cool is that) and it was great to meet him as well.
So… geez. Fun time.
I’ve been doing a lot of travel lately and it’s not about to stop. My wife and kids and I leave for Whistler, British Columbia on Friday. It’s our family trip this year and we’ll be staying a week. Never been, but I hear it’s great. I’m really looking forward to it.
After that, DragonCon in Atlanta will be coming up. So… busy times ahead…