Monday, July 20, 2015

End of an Era...and Start of a New One

Oh boy...this past spring and this summer have been so eventful, it might be easier to fill you in on everything through pictures.

First up, back in May, I went to visit the Advent School in Boston for their annual book fair. I'd been invited by a friend of mine from college, Niki DuFauchard, who I hadn't seen since I graduated more than a decade ago. So not only did I get to attend their awesome book fair, but I got to catch up with an old friend. Win win.

The fair offered book-themed cupcakes! My favorite.
I had the one with the Lord of the Flies book cover on it. YUM. 

Naturally, the Penguin book truck was parked outside.
I scored copies of Brown Girl Dreaming and Madeline
(the latter of which I gave to my mom, Madelin, as a graduation present).
A few days later, I was off to see the students of P.S. 33Q in Queens. It was my second time visiting and I was honored to be asked back a second time. The best part? When the wonderful teacher who had invited me, Tracy Tanzer, handed me a stack of thank-you cards the kids had made for me after my first visit.

Sweetest cards ever!

So that was fun. And speaking of Penguin...

After that, I had to focus on the biggest thing to happen to me in years: I left my job at Penguin Random House. I know! I can hardly believe it either. I'd been a production editor there for 15 years. When I started, I was only 25 years old, barely out of college and still living with my parents. Facebook had not come around yet, there was no such thing as Smartphones, and the Twin Towers were still standing. I basically grew up at Random House, so it was incredibly hard to leave. But when you get an offer to be an editor at Working Partners Ltd., a wonderful book packager based in London that specializes in middle grade and young adult books, you say yes! Especially when it means you'll get to work from home most of the time and will get to visit London once in a while. So I spent the rest of May cleaning out my cube and saying goodbye to all the friends I'd made there. May 23 was my last day, and the night before they treated me to a celebratory night out.

Some of my awesome Random House coworkers and friends. (Dave, Kelly, Richard, and Camille)

More of my coworkers and friends. (Jen, Ted, Shona, and Lisa)
They all look happy, but they were sad to see me go.

But I barely had time to process the end of my Random House career because the next week, my mom graduated from college. She now has a B.A. in early childhood education and I couldn't be more proud of her.

My mom, the graduate, and my dad on May 27, 2015. 

Why yes, I did buy her those glasses. They matched her nails!

That same week, both of my parents also quit smoking! My mom smoked for a good 50 years, so the fact that they finally quit is a HUGE deal. Really, this whole post could have been about how happy I am that my parents are kicking the habit (after many, many years of me begging them to). But I have lots more to tell you, so we'll just move along.

So that was May. Then just a week or so later, on June 8, I started my new job! I spent my first day with a few of my fellow editors in a cafe in Brooklyn, brainstorming ideas and setting up my email and stuff. We were done by noon and I spent the rest of that day reading manuscripts and book outlines. It was by far, the most laid back, stress-free first day of a job I've ever had. (I'm happy to say that I've pretty much loved every day since then too.)

Anyway, the day after my first day at my new job, my first hardcover, HUNTERS OF CHAOS, hit the stands!

Not only that, but the cover for book 2 in the series was released:

I love these covers so much, I can't even tell you. And I'm so excited to be back on the shelves! I even got a pretty great review from, which you can read here:

But the reviews I loved most were from my friends' kids. How could I not love a picture like this of my college roommate's daughter holding her copy of my book?

Then, almost as if they had timed it to happen around the same time as the book release, along came the BooksNJ book festival in Paramus, New Jersey, on June 14, organized by librarian extraordinaire Arlene Sahraie. It was my third time participating in this festival, and as always, it was a great way to spend the day. There were so many authors there and thousands of readers showed up. I was lucky enough to be on a panel with Tracey Baptiste (author of THE JUMBIES), Margie Gelbwasser (author of PIECES OF US), and Selene Castrovilla (author of MELT).

Me, Tracey, Selene, and Margie.

We talked about writing for different age groups, and writing our own books versus books we've been hired to write. It turned out to be a truly enlightening panel for me. It was so good to hear other authors' experiences--both good and bad. If you get a chance, definitely pick their books. They are hilarious, smart, interesting women and if their books are half as cool as they are, you're in for a treat. 

And this is not book-related, but a few days after the book festival, I took my mom to a taping of the Wendy Williams Show right here in New York City. Somehow we scored a seat in the front row and I actually got to meet Wendy! 

How you doin', Wendy?

That brings us to July. Three big things happened this month. One of them I can't talk about just yet (sorry), but it is good. The second is that I've been invited to participate in a panel for the New York Public Library about writers for Latino youth. Here's the reaaaally cool part: Sonia Monzano will also be on the panel!!! You might know her better as Maria from Sesame Street, the woman who, if you don't speak it already, probably taught you your first words in Spanish. Words like "hola.

The panel will take place on October 31 at 2 P.M., so mark your calendars! 

Finally, I was interviewed by new blogger Dallas Rico, who is also a teacher and writer of middle grade fiction. We met in Brooklyn and had a conversation about getting started in writing, the need for diversity in children's literature, and the fact that there are so many great cafe's in Brooklyn in which to hang out and write. (I'm still trying to find a good place to do that in Flushing.) 

As you can see, the past few months have been kind of a whirlwind. I'm sure I'm leaving out a lot. But it is now 1:26 in the morning and I should get some sleep. Even though I no longer have to wrestle with the 7 train, I still have to work tomorrow. But one thing before I go: Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy of Hunters of Chaos or any of my books. Your support means the world to me! 

**13 minutes later***

WAIT! I forgot to mention that the weekend before last, I visited my old college campus with my last college roommate and two of our good friends. None of us had been back to the campus in years and it was amazing to see how much it has changed. It looked so beautiful, it kind of made me wish I could go back to school. I majored in creative writing at Penn State and had some good times on both campuses I attended. I owe the professors there so much.  WE ARE . . . PENN STATE!

The "WE ARE" sign, class of 2013's class gift. 

I spent lots of time in this library. 

The most important part of any visit to University Park: the creamery!

Me in the front of the main mall, where the art festival was going on.
I am holding a much-needed Nittany lion paw fan.