In Uncategorized on June 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm
I first met Maggie Stiefvater at a reading she did in El Cerrito, CA when she was touring in support of LINGER. Maggie and I frequented a few of the same online venues and were on friendly terms, virtually speaking, but you know how it’s so often a different thing to meet someone in corporeal space? I was a bit insecure about introducing myself for that reason. I was also a bit insecure because I’m just insecure in general, as you probably know by now.
Still, we’d had more than one agreeable online exchange, so I felt emboldened to ask a question during the Q&A. She answered it, then surprised the bejesus out of me by saying “Are you MIKE?” I skillfully disguised my flabbergasted state and said “yes,” at which point she said “I thought that was you! I recognized the top half of your face.” Which isn’t as bizarre a statement as it sounds, since at the time I was in the habit of using avatar photos which only showed the top half of my face because I’m all bashful and stuff.
So yeah, it was nice to be treated like a regular person worth meeting, and not like a lowly worm wriggling in the unpublished muck by the side of the road. It’s easy for us neurotic writers to feel diminished by or envious of a planet-devouring career trajectory like the one Maggie’s on, but I don’t, mostly because I think well of her. She’s a good egg.
In Uncategorized on May 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm
The Scholastic family dinner at ALA Annual 2012 was a pretty memorable event for me. Among the many quality people I met that night was Raina Telgemeier, who I had the good fortune to be seated next to. I’m still largely clueless about the current world of comic book creators, but a year ago I was thoroughly, irredeemably clueless, and although I’d seen SMILE on bookstore shelves I had no idea who Raina actually was. There was probably an upside to that – thinking “OMG, NYT bestseller & Eisner Award winner Raina Telgemeier” might have made me act like more of a numbskull than I did – and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her during the meal.
A few months later Raina appeared at one of my local indie stores for the Scholastic Graphix Tour, and I dropped by. Despite the fact that I’d spent a couple of hours chatting with Raina at that Scholastic dinner, I was neurotically prepared for the possibility that she wouldn’t remember me, but she did. Shockingly, she even appeared visibly happy to see me. The signing line was catastrophically long, as expected, and when my turn at the front arrived Raina gave me a big smile and a hug. We chatted for a bit, and I went home in a very chipper mood. Meeting someone and discovering that they’re not only spectacularly talented and successful but also genuinely sweet is, well, it’s a good thing. It dishes up a nice thick slab of hope or optimism or something, don’t you think?
In Uncategorized on May 20, 2013 at 8:19 am
Last summer I attended the ALA Annual Conference for the first time. One of the individual events I went to was a dinner for all of the Scholastic people in attendance, where I met a bunch of people for the first time, including Trent Reedy. Now, it’s more or less common knowledge by now that I’m plagued by a gargantuan case of social anxiety, so I was grappling with that in the usual manner when we arrived at the restaurant. Trent (who wasn’t seated in the same part of the vaguely obscene, sparkly red Hummer/limo that Scholastic sent for us) gave me a big hug, expressed great enthusiasm about the fact that we share an agent (the fabulous Ammi-Joan Paquette, of course), and bought me a drink. I was and continue to be deeply appreciative of the fact that at my very first conference as a published author and my very first Scholastic family dinner, Trent made the effort to greet me in a manner that actually made me feel like family. I’ll never forget it.
In Uncategorized on May 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm
Being one of those socially inept introverts who give a bad name to introverts in general is often hard – the psychological ricochet after social events is discombobulating, the fear of social judgment is tiresome to do battle with, and the suspicion that the rest of the world is speaking a language you lack fluency in is discouraging. And yet, I seem to be developing positive relationships with people in the children’s publishing industry anyway. I still feel out of place and out of sorts on a regular basis, and I’m certain I’ll have to contend with those feelings for the rest of my life, but the feeling of belonging that I have in this community is the strongest such feeling I’ve ever had in any community. It’s not entirely substantial – the overwhelming majority of my interactions with people are virtual, and those interactions are limited by nature – but there’s more substance to this multiplicity of new relationships than I originally would have dared hope for. And the number of people who I feel a genuine, real-world, non-internet bond with is shockingly large, at least by my standards. It’s a somewhat theatrical question to ask, but have I found my place in the world? I wonder if I have. It’s a startling thought.
In Uncategorized on April 17, 2013 at 10:28 pm
A recently unearthed memory from 1985 or thereabouts (I think, anyway): some of the details still elude me, like what school event this took place after – it might have been the spring musical? Or a band concert? I suppose it might even have been the end of a plain old school day, during that short lull period between the final class and the beginning of band practice. Read the rest of this entry »
In Uncategorized on April 16, 2013 at 12:03 pm
Yesterday I posted about an old friend of mine from high school who I haven’t seen in decades, Julie Forte Solleder, who unexpectedly passed away. Julie was a gem, and she’ll be terribly missed. The people who commented on my post included other folks from high school, some of who were in the marching band with Julie and me. It was good to hear from them all, and helped me understand with greater clarity that as much as I struggled during those years, I wasn’t the only one. It occurred to me that there were actually quite a lot of people whose mere presence helped me, if only because they were visibly kind and decent people, and of course I forgot to mention more than one genuine friend. Read the rest of this entry »
In Uncategorized on April 15, 2013 at 5:36 am
It’s no secret that high school was a very difficult time for me – I wrote about it in my essay for the Dear Teen Me anthology, for example – and my unhappiness during those years colored my perceptions of people in general for a long, long time. In high school I suspected that the vast majority of people around me were potential monsters who were just waiting for an opportunity to attack. Not everybody, though, particularly the friends I had in the band. Not Deanna Dean, for example, or Erik Schweitzer, or Jim McCaughey, and not Julie Forte Solleder. Julie was kind, and thoughtful, and gentle. I trusted her to treat me with respect and friendship, and she never failed to do so. I lost touch with Julie, as I did with almost everyone I knew in high school, but in recent years we reconnected here on Facebook, and I’m grateful for that, because it helped me to remember that even during my darkest emotional times, there were good people in my life, even if I was often unable to fully appreciate and engage with them. I just learned that Julie passed away yesterday after a brief, cruel illness. I’m sorry that I didn’t see her at least one last time before she was taken from us, but her friendship enriched my life, even across a gap of so many years. I love you Julie, and I’ll miss you. Goodbye.
In Uncategorized on April 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm
Yes, I AM posting something here about LA13SCBWI because my blog URL is posted on the conference website, which means people might actually come here and sniff around, pee on the shrubbery, that sort of thing. Wait, that’s a bad metaphor – why would anyone pee on the shrubbery here? Can you tell that I’m flummoxed and off-balance and wildly excited about being on the faculty for the SCBWI Summer Conference this year? Because I am, y’know. My publishing career has been a succession of dreams come true, big and small, and this is closer to the big end of the scale – I’ve wanted to work this conference ever since I first attended it in 2008, and now all my blackmail–err, I mean hard work is paying off! Huzzah, I hope to see you there!
In Uncategorized on March 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm
“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection Read the rest of this entry »
In Uncategorized on March 7, 2013 at 9:53 pm
It hasn’t been hard to find things to feel grateful for these past couple of years. My book was published, obviously, but there’s a whole host of lovely and enjoyable things that have come along with that, most of them centered around the people I’ve had the good fortune to meet. The work I’ve been able to do alongside of those people is something I’m immensely proud of, but equally important is the way I feel about being a part of the children’s literature tribe. That word, “tribe,” is bandied about with great frequency by us kidlit types, but I still put great stock in it, you know? I love that it implies a kind of responsibility – a commitment to promoting the general welfare, if you will. Read the rest of this entry »