Friday, February 14, 2014

City Lights YA Panel Book Signing Sylva, NC Jessica Khoury, Stephanie Perkins and Megan Shepherd or Second Helpings Tour


So last Saturday, before Mother Nature unleashed her icy fingers on the South, I went to a book signing with myself. Yeah, couldn't find anyone to go with me. So I drove three hours to a very cute little town which I neglected to take pictures of (shame). I was a little shaky. I was in college the last time I drove that far by myself and I was driving in the flat land of Florida, not the incredibly twisty turny mountains of NC. I did get to see why they are called The Great Smoky Mountains. They were definitely smoky looking. But it was one of those gray days where the clouds hang out on the mountains anyway and the tops of the mountains peek through. But I did make it by myself. Thank you Siri for your directions.

City Lights bookstore is at the top of a hill and is the kind of bookstore you want to spend a lot of time wandering around in. They have a cat! No,  I did not take a picture of him/her either. It was a great looking cat, too. Black and white, very sleek, it seemed to know it was in a great bookstore and that it was allowing us to be in his store. I got there just in time to get a front row seat, up close and personal with Jessica Khoury, Stephanie Perkins and Megan Shepherd.

So, in case you don't know, Megan Shepherd is at the top, Jessica Khoury is to the left and Stephanie Perkins is on the right. Oh and the cat is on the sofa behind Jessica and Stephanie. Click on the picture to make it bigger and you can see him/her better.

Anyway, this was a panel and there were so many great questions and nerdy me was in the front writing fast and furiously. Here is what I found interesting-

From Jessica Khoury- Her novels Origin and Vitro, both set in jungle type settings, were inspired by the show Lost.  Origin is set in an Amazonian jungle type setting. And no, Jessica has never visited the Amazon. Instead, she researched everything about the setting on line, in books, even listened to sounds of the rain forest as she wrote. She wrote it in one month! (I know...) She always wrote it to be a standalone. But she still wanted to explore the same world. That evil corporation. So she set Vitro on an island in the South Pacific. She wanted it to have a claustrophobic feel to it- island, your stuck on it, no escape.( Made me start rethinking my happy place in my mind. I had to put a fast motor boat and a helicopter in there after the signing!) For Vitro she did visit and island, just in the Caribbean instead of the South Pacific. She highly recommends traveling to your setting if at all possible.

I confess, I started Origin when it first came out and I am completely fascinated with it. But I have never gotten back to it. Still I remember what I read and I am itching to get back to it. I say this to say, I don't know who this character is, but the question was asked about secondary characters, who was their favorite?
Jessica said she had to do a complete rewrite because of a character called Nicholas. He just wouldn't stay out of the scenes. She said it was the first time she'd had that happen to her.

How is being an author versus her expectations of what it would be like?
She set the bar very low she said so it's exceeded it a lot. But she says there are a lot of highs and lows. Long periods of boredom and then chaos, travel and speaking.

Her favorite part of writing- First draft where you can make mistakes. She likes just writing and putting ideas down. She calls the writing part the honeymoon phase because you can dream and write anything and not worry if it works.

What is she reading right now? Of Triton by Anna Banks. She is loving it.
What's next for it? She couldn't say. I think next week or next month she could reveal it. You know when you're waiting, it all seems like a year.



Jessica Khoury was really interested in everyone and was surprised I came from so far to see her. But it was the only place close by she was going to be and I really wanted my books signed by her. Is anyone else that anal about getting their books signed in person? I barely said anything to her but of the three, she was the only one I talked to. Yes, I hang my head in shame. I totally clammed up. What a dork!

Next was Stephanie Perkins-
I don't know if you've heard her or met her before but she is so "nice". I put that word in quote marks because I know that word doesn't really describe anything. She is quiet, but in a way that makes you want to listen to her. She says things you want to hear, she talks carefully, like each word is chosen precisely. She is a bit like her writing. She leaves you feeling good and happy, a little smile on your face. And because this tour was about second books, she talked a lot more about Lola and the Boy Next Door which I am currently reading.

Lola and The Boy Next Door took 10 years to write. She lived in San Francisco at the time that she started it and put it aside because she got talked out of writing for "children." But after Anna and the French Kiss which was written during NaNoWriMo (not much of it was kept, but still) the publishers wanted something like it. So Lola and The Boy Next Door was dusted off and finished. As I've just gotten a few chapters in I don't know too much, but I realized as she said this, "I wanted to write Lola with two Dads and have it not be a big deal. Just be a part of the story and accepted. Not an issue in the book. I think I nailed that. I'm proud of that." So far it seems to me she did nail it. And who knows, ten years prior, it may have never been received as not being an issue. And this is what I mean about Stephanie, she seemed almost shy about saying she was proud of herself for that. I understand it's hard to toot your own horn, but I don't think there are many of us in YAdom that don't know Stephanie Perkins series. I think she can be proud.
She seems to have forgotten she's a Rockstar!

So as far as setting/place goes she lived in the setting of Lola so she knew it intimately. It was where she and her husband were finally together on the same side of the country and were in love and young and carefree, you know that first kind of really real love. So San Francisco holds a very special place in her heart and memory. But Anna and the French Kiss totally researched the places in Paris. On line, books, listened to French music.  Watched French movies not for the movie, but for the setting, the way they moved, the background. Even took a semester of the language. Ate French food. (no not french fries, go away!) Now, she's been to Paris and said it felt like she'd created it her self because it matched up to what she'd imagined.
Says when they go on vacation she takes pictures of the sidewalk, the walls, a streetlight. Her husband sounds like the best kind of guy- a friend, a guy, and supportive of anything she asks. I've even seen him perform the retelling of the dream she had about Etienne St. Clair and Anna and it's really funny. He got up in front of an audience and did it at Malaprops in Asheville in the summer.

So, was being an author what she expected? Yes and No. She's learned about networking, education, making mistakes, persistence, the end game isn't a published book but to accept what happens and go on.
Isla and The Happily Ever After comes out in August. And then guess what she's writing....A SLASHER NOVEL! I can't imagine it, but she's been reading up on Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. I am sure it will be exceptional.

As far as writing goes...she HATES, HATES, HATES, (she was very forceful about this) first drafts. She loves to edit it, "make it sing" she said. She probably would edit it forever if she could.

I already had all my books signed by her, but I wished I had gotten paperback copies of the new covers to match the Isla book coming out. I'm sure I will see her at a signing at Malaprops some time. By the way, if you're having trouble with pronouncing Isla it is like aisle like a grocery store aisle and a as in a dog. Sorry I've forgotten all of my grammar lessons. But there was great debate about this at another signing so once I learned how to pronounce it I have kept that in my mind. Aisle- a  or Isle- a or I'll - a. More than you ever wanted to know, right?


Okay the two bottom pictures are from a signing at Malaprops in Asheville. The guy with the bowtie is Stephanie's husband reciting how Stephanie dreamily explains the idea for a new book. It always starts with a guy and a girl in some romantic setting. That signing was in June of last year.

What is she reading right now? Books about serial killers. She wouldn't share. Said she didn't want us to have nightmares, but she did recommend Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I recommend that. I reviewed it earlier in the year. It is outstanding! Lots of people agree with me.

Okay so now Megan Shepherd. Her books are The Madman's Daughter and Her Dark Curiosity.
Megan's books explore Dark Science Themes. (just felt like that needed to be capitalized). Believe it or not she was also inspired by the T.V. show Lost. She also read books by H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein. None of them had a girl in them and she wondered what if there was a girl....and the trilogy was born.

Place/setting- For  The Madman's Daughter she just imagined an island. It's a tropical island so she imagined it. But she did have trails she used to go running on when she was younger and there was an abandoned creepy cabin and a creek and she drew on those and the feelings to use in her setting. She was able to visit London for the second book and like Stephanie Perkins she would take pictures of unusual things and they tried to visit the parts of London that hadn't been changed in a 100 years to lend authenticity to the novel. For the 3rd novel, she studied in the Scottish Highlands where the novel is set.

As far as being an author, she had a job and never thought about being an author. Then she had the idea and she worked on it in spare time with the goal to be published. Didn't think about it after that. She says it's hard to find your way -there is no real manual to tell you what the next step is and there are a lot of emotional highs and lows. A message from her agent could be great or depressing. You have to learn to live with uncertainty.

Her favorite part of writing is the brainstorming and research. Not the editing so much.

What is she reading right now? Salvage by Alexandra Duncan.
What is her next project? A human zoo set in space - sci-fi with aliens again, inspired by Lost!


So, for some strange reason, I was shy. I couldn't say much more than my name to these authors and I got my books signed and left. But I'll tell you this, you all know, if you read my blog much, that I have Bipolar Disorder. Yep, well medicated, stable, usually everything is fine. But it's a social/emotional disorder. I mean yes it's a chemical imbalance, but it affects the social and emotional parts of our brains. For me, I have been a bit homebound for a long time. This was a big test for me. And I passed. I went alone. School won't be that much scarier. Not after I go to a couple more of these. And, if the snow melts in time, I have another one here in town to go to this weekend! Beth Revis, Jodi Meadows those are the two names that keep ringing in my head. I'm just not sure if it's going to happen. And another one next one in Greenville, SC.
Lots of Rockstars to meet. Hopefully I'll open my mouth Saturday. I'm not sure other than this one, if I have been to a book signing that Beth Revis hasn't been to, and yet she doesn't remember me. Because I don't say anything!!! Give me some hints guys. What do I say? How do you break the ice? Especially for an introvert?

So you made it to the end. Well thank you for reading this. I am going to give away one copy of any of the books by the authors I go to see in the next few weeks and if you put your name in the rafflecopter form, I might just pick your name. Open internationally, of course! I'm sorry it won't be signed, but I'm picking it after I get my books signed. Again I am giving away your choice of one book from any of the authors I see at these events. And thanks for reading all the way through.







a Rafflecopter giveaway


37 comments:

  1. Heather,

    First of all, I'm really impressed that you went to the event alone. I drive long distances alone all the time, but oddly, going to an event like that is SO hard for me. Even when I'm with someone!

    Second, trust me when I say the authors are usually as nervous as you. Hoping people will show up. In an event like that when there are multiple authors, they might worry that they will be the only author stuck without a line. I recently met Stephanie at Wordstock (she's so adorable!). It was like pulling my fingernails out to admit I was an author too. Talk about dork! And my mouth stayed sealed shut when I WON a book from Tamora Pierce at one of her signings. Anyway, I hope it helps you to know that authors are people too and struggle with shyness and uncertainty. But most of all we LOVE bloggers and if you say you have a book review blog and you've reviewed a book...you'll be golden ;) Hope your events aren't canceled. Have a GREAT time!

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    1. Oh Kai thank you!!! I have been neglectful in getting bookmarks made so I have nothing to hand out to say "Hi I'm Heather from Buried in Books." I figure they'll say Who from where? But I'm always afraid they don't care. I'm glad to know you think they will. And I'm glad to know even authors are scared. I can understand being a little awestruck with Tamora Pierce. But you should definitely speak up with Stephanie Perkins, she is so willing to share her knowledge with writers, authors and those of us that fall in between. Thank you Kai!

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  2. I'm so shy at events, too, Heather! Jenny does ALL the talking at BEA haha But seriously, that's amazing that you had the guts to go alone, and it sounds like a great time! Happy Valentine's Day to you! xo

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    1. Oh Melissa Happy Valentine's Day to you, too! First one as a married couple!! I swear at the book store tomorrow, if they have Not a Drop to Drink I will purchase it just because of you! I can see Jenny being able to find the right words, but you should be comfortable with her there. Though what do I know?
      I wonder what they're thinking?? It's probably really funny.

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  3. You did an amazing job catching all the interesting tidbits, Heather! It's so cool that 2 authors were inspired by Lost and took that inspiration in two totally different directions! Glad you enjoyed yourself and you should be proud of making it to the signing. That would be very hard for me to do it alone. :)

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    1. I'm going to another one solo tomorrow. I would usually bring my youngest with me b/c he loves Beth Revis (she is very funny) but he has a broken leg so he has difficulty getting around. Funnily enough the first book signing I went to was with Beth Revis and he had a broken foot. She signed his cast. But he has a brace now, not a cast. I am glad to know I am not the only one that doesn't like going solo.

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  4. What an awesome event Heather! And yay for you making the trip all by yourself! I always drag Cathy with me because I'm not a big fan of driving unknown places alone (I'm directionally challenged) so huge kudos to you! These are three authors I would have LOVED to meet, they all seem so sweet and down to earth.

    I had no idea Lola and the Boy Next Door took 10 years to write. It's so much fun to learn little tidbits like that.

    And don't worry about being shy in the least Heather, I'm the exact same way! I'm lucky if I can even force my name out when I meet authors. I typically just freeze up and give them what I'm sure is a fairly creepy smile:) Win.

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    1. I bet you are completely eloquent and charming, Jenny! The thing is, at these signings I go to there are only about 15 or so people there so I have a great opportunity to get to know these authors. And I let them slip by.

      Yes, Lola took 10 yrs, but not constant writing. She let her professors make her think writing for children was something to look down on. But she said she kept writing flashbacks of Lola when she was 16 and finally realized that was the story she wanted to write, snobby professors be damned. Sometimes education can backfire.

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  5. Wow! cool! looks like the drive was well worth it. Yeah I can relate, I haven't driven anywhere by myself in years either. Glad you had fun. I love that they have a cat in the bookstore. I am itching to get a hold of Isla. I have been wanting that book for two years. 10 yrs to write Lola! It is amazing that she never went to Paris to write Anna. Hmm. I don't know what to say, I just try to think of something and not be weird.

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    1. I just feel like the biggest fool. I am weird and look like a lurker. I watch other people and wonder at their ability to hold conversations with them. I am usually the kind of person that has never met a stranger, except when it comes to authors. I cannot talk to them.

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  6. Well, next time pick me up! I'm sure it is just a short drive to my house... LOL ;)

    As far as not talking and being shy... hey, you aren't alone. I never know what to say until I say it. That may not be the best way to go, but I figure I won't be the only one sticking my foot in my mouth. LOL Besides listening is such a forgotten strength!

    Oh such great tidbits you picked up about the books. Love seeing these events through other's eyes!!

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    1. I probably should have already started driving if I'm gonna pick you up and make it back by 2pm for the signing. Maybe next weekend? It doesn't start until 4 and it's two hours closer to you!
      God I do wish you were here!!

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    2. LOL!

      I wish I could have gone as well. It would be such fun!

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  7. I'd like to know what it's like hearing your characters voices in your head at weird times like when you're driving or trying to go to sleep. Is it ever annoying?

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    1. Oh good question! I'll ask tomorrow!

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    2. Carl, I didn't go to that book signing but I am going today so I will ask today. I've got it written down.

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  8. I would definitely ask them about one of their characters
    like, hey, who inspired that character? Does it have a piece of you?
    Something like that
    GREAT REVIEW
    Your reader,
    Soma

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    1. I'm writing that down! That is a great idea and I can ask each of the authors that!! Thanks!

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  9. Ooh, Heather it's so exciting that you were able to meet these authors! I've never been for an author event (yet!) but I really want to and it seems like so much fun. Stephanie Perkins is one of my absolutely favorite authors and I can't wait for Isla to release soon! :D

    I have no advice to give you, sadly, but I'm sure you'll think of something brilliant! ;) Thanks for the giveaway, Heather!

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    1. Oh I wish you could go to one Keertana! There is nothing like seeing your favorite authors in person! I love Stephanie Perkins too and she is so amazingly kind and generous with her time. I usually see her at a very small bookstore in Asheville called Malaprops and the last time I saw her there we talked about character development and plotting and how she always builds her characters first. And all about how to pronounce Isla. That's why I thought I'd share that. I was pronouncing it all wrong. I can't wait for it to release either!!!

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  10. I'm always a little nervous when meeting authors because they are our rockstars! One thing that helps - Go to book signings with friends!!! I loved going to Malaprop's with you. One of my go-to questions is "what is your favorite book from childhood that opened up your world to reading?"

    Thanks for this awesome giveaway!

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    1. That's another great question! I'll write that one down too. You know how nerdy I am about bringing a notebook and sitting on the first row! I LOVED going to Malaprops with you, too! There is nothing in the world better than getting your nerd on with a friend at a book signing! I know Greenville is a bit far for you. But I so wish you were coming!!

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  11. You are so incredibly lucky! Recently I've seen quite a few bloggers and booktubers make posts about meeting authors. Where I live, the nearest book store in 40 minutes away. And there are never any author events here in NC. So I "experience" meeting authors through bloggers like you!

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway btw!

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    1. Do you mean NC as in North Carolina? Because that's where I am and they are all over the state, though maybe not on the coast. This one is in Greenville, South Carolina about two hours from me, maybe an hour and a half from Charlotte. But a lot of the signings are in Asheville, NC. There's one in Huntersville, coming up. You need to check the Southern Book Bloggers Website- they keep a very up to date listing of Southern tours and signings. Now if you mean Norther Canada, can't help you there.

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  12. I'm sure I'd be tongue tied. You can't go wrong with any positive remark about their work.

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    1. Oh I constantly say remarkable things like, "I really liked your book." You'd think with a degree in English Lit I could find some other words to use. I blame it on mommy brain. It's gone to pot with no one to talk to but children until I started blogging! Now I have no excuse!

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  13. Wow what a fab time! I was so nervous at BEA for every author signing it's like we all get star struck and imo that's so normal these people are like our gods!! I wish more authors would come where I live though but I'm in the middle of NOWHERE and the closest anyone comes is 5 hours away so I gues I could go but with a kid it's proven to be pretty impossible lol.

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    1. They are our Rockstars and that's why it's so hard. I fell in love with their characters and had a crush on the boys in their books, I lived in their world-they stole a little piece of my heart and I am speechless. How do I say hello to someone with that kind of power???

      Five hours with a child would be tricky, even if he/she enjoyed traveling but then to sit still for the event. Mine are older now, but when they were young, I had one I could have done that with and one I couldn't. Oddly enough the one I couldn't have taken when he was young is the one that wants to go to them now. But they will grow soon enough. And maybe you can have a mini vacation. And BEA! I think everyone must be nervous there though I've never gone. OMG what would I do there?????

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  14. I've told you this before, but I guess what works best for me is just to introduce myself and tell them I'm a book blogger. It seems like they 'usually' have plenty to say to me after that. And they have a tendency to be more likely to remember you. And if you tweet and whatnot after the event they often reply. I do have events where I freeze up but it tends to usually be when I'm alone. So I guess for me having a friend with makes a HUGE difference.
    It looks like you had fun anyway, thanks for sharing with us! And for the giveaway!

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    1. I got the bag from somewhere else that you suggested. Thanks for that. I have to get bookmarks made. And I'm just going to put my big girl panties on and introduce myself. I mean Megan Shepherd saw me at this one and two weeks later she's seeing me again. She'll have to think she's seen me before, I hope. There were only about 15 people at the last signing and I sat in the front row. I hope I look familiar. I'm going to say I'm Blah Blah Blah from Blah Blah Blah. They might think who? but at least I will have something to say. Thank you for all of your help.

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  15. since those events are nearly inexistent in my country i don't really have experience to share and i'm sure i would be even more timid that i'm usually.
    i think you could perhaps start a book ( with black page) and you could at each event you go mark a apge with teh event, stick some bookmark from the author present etc and ask them to sign it it could be interesting to start a conversation when they will look at past event and see if they were there or not

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    1. That too is a great idea, b/c several of the authors I see are local in one area so I see them often. Excellent idea! I'm so sorry you don't have signing over there Miki!

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  16. I've always had trouble talking to authors. I used to work at a bookstore where I was the events manager and had to host a lot of signings. A lot of them I hadn't read before so I would just be honest and tell them that. But then I'd ask them about their books and stuff and just go from there.

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    1. I used to work at a bookstore too and met some authors that went on to be famous, but they weren't when I met them. So it was easier then. Also I wasn't as shy then. I ran on adrenaline back then I was so busy so I was hyper. Maybe I should start working in a bookstore again??

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    2. Yea I know what you mean. Your too busy getting stuff done. I've worked for 2 but they both ended up closing. :(

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  17. I live in Croatia so it is unlikely I will ever meet one of my favorite authors. I am not good with people so I would probably just stare and kept saying OMG :D

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    1. Yeah, I just kind of get a dumb grin on my face and pretend like I have no questions. You can't really ask about their book too much because you don't want to give away spoilers so it's more about motivation, inspiration, that kind of thing. Sorry they don't do World Tours! Then they would truly be the Rockstars we think they are!!

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