Friday, October 23, 2015

The Pursuit of Middle-Age Happyness (<--misspelling intended)

A few weeks ago I turned 40. So naturally I've spent the past few months hanging out in children's libraries, talking to friends from high school, and reading comic books.

Of course, most of that I did as part of my grown-up role as a writer. For starters, I was invited to the Corona Library in Queens back in August. I did my usual--told the kids a bit about myself and how I became a writer, read a few pages from Hunters of Chaos, then opened it up for questions.

There weren't many questions at first. No one wanted to speak first. Thankfully, a librarian was there to ask a few and break the ice. But the kids were still pretty quiet, and once the librarian brought in boxes of pizza I thought the kids would promptly forget I existed. But to my surprise, instead of flying toward the pizza, they all flew toward me! Turns out they had tons of questions. They'd just been too shy to ask.

But once they got more comfortable, they had plenty to say. For a minute, I was less like a visiting author and more like a guidance counselor. One girl asked if anyone had ever told me I couldn't do something, that I wasn't good enough. I could tell just by the way she asked that someone had been saying those things to her, which made me want to throttle that person. I told her that yes, I've been told that plenty of times, but that their negativity only made me want to work harder. Success is the best revenge. She shouldn't let anyone tell her what she could or couldn't do. It's like that scene in The Pursuit of Happyness:

Precisely, sir.

She seemed relieved, which made me feel pretty good. Another girl told me her cat had just passed away, and she was sad about it. I told her that I knew how she felt because when my dog, Bandit, died, I was devastated. "How did you get over it?" she wanted to know. I told her I cried about it for weeks but then decided to volunteer to help other animals find good homes. She smiled and said there was an animal shelter in her neighborhood that was looking for volunteers.

After that I held a raffle. I'd only intended to raffle off one advance reader's edition of Hunters of Chaos: Circle of Lies. But the others looked so disappointed when they didn't win that I ended up raffling off a copy of each of the Your Life books . . . and a copy of Hunters of Chaos . . .  and a Maya & Miguel book . . . and most of the stickers I'd brought. (The Frozen stickers got the most love.) Thankfully, my friend Karen from high school showed up and helped out. So did America, a 6-year-old who adorably offered to help me fold the pieces of paper for the raffle. Afterward, I autographed books, then business cards, then any scrap of paper the kids could find. I left feeling so loved. I'm always nervous before I do these appearances, but when they go like this one did, it makes all the nerves worth it.

Also this month I got to attend my very first Comic Con! My friend Matt, also from high school, got me a pass. How have I lived this long in New York without going to one of these? It's so much fun! I know the panels with famous people get all the love, but the rest of the event is just as cool. Everywhere you look is amazing artwork and books, and some of the actual artists and authors who created them.

While most people there were all over the anime and Avengers stuff, I didn't really geek out until I entered Artist's Alley and got to meet Troy Little, one of the illustrators and writers for The Powerpuff Girls. (Squeee!) Not only was he incredibly nice, but he signed a print for me and one of the books he worked on. He even drew me a tiny picture of Bubbles at the bottom of the print.

Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup are my kind of superheroes.
And Mojo Jojo is my all-time favorite super villain.

I had just secured these awesome gets, feeling like I could leave Comic Con right then and there, perfectly satisfied, when I spotted Scott Campbell! He's the writer and illustrator of Hug Machine, one of the best picture books ever. And he was just standing there! I couldn't believe my luck. I got to tell him how much I loved his book and that I'd given it as a present to a few of my friends' kids. He seemed genuinely touched and promptly signed this copy of his fantastic book for me, even adding a little illustration.

I also scored a few freebies: pins, comic books, and this copy of Zenescope's Return to Wonderland. In this creepy graphic novel, Alice is an adult, and her daughter visits a way more disturbing version of Wonderland.

So yeah, Comic Con was awesome, and I will definitely try to go again next year. Only next time I'll wear sneakers. (I wore high-heeled boots. Rookie mistake. The Jacob Javits Center is HUGE.)

As for the writing, I'm in the middle of two projects, so I've been anchored to my laptop. But I'm hoping to finish soon so I can enjoy being outside before winter comes. I mean, now that I'm 40, I've really got to spend more time doing grown-up stuff--like riding my bike and running around a park. ;-)