Saturday, October 23, 2010

West Coast Tour

As promised, I'm going to write about my mini tour in sunny California.  It was pouring rain in Pennsylvania when we flew out - we, as in me, my daughter Jenna and my niece Amy.  Jenna was going to miss four days of school, so she had a ton of school work to take along.  She's in 7th grade.  We flew into Los Angeles and Daniel directed us to our hotel in Glendale.  Daniel is my GPS - it's a Garmin and you can choose which "voice" you want and I picked the British Daniel.  Something about the British accent sounds

Our first full day we had breakfast with Alethea and her husband.  Can anyone tell me which of my books, Alethea is mentioned??  The real lady works at the Borders in Glendale and she has been a dynamo in hand selling my books and I'm not talking a few copies, but hundreds.  Maybe even over a thousand - it's been about two years.  The picture below is from the last time I was in Glendale for a STORM GLASS release party - April 2009:

After breakfast, we went to Hollywood, baby!  Saw all the sights, Hollywood sign, stars on the sidewalk, the Chinese Theater, and went in the Hollywood Museum.  I really liked the Hollywood museum, they had a ton of props from movies and stars.  The prison block from the movie Silence of the Lambs was in the basement...creepy!! I also learned about Max Factor - he's a real guy and basically invented make up - I never knew that.  I also had to take a picture of Russell Crow's star for my mother.  She is obsessed with him and thinks he should play Valek if there's ever a movie made of my books (no news about that - there has been zero interest from Hollywood).  Here are pictures:

Friday night I had a signing at Glendale Borders. Alethea couldn't make this signing, but there were plenty of people from all over CA. I talked about my books and signed copies.  Here's a picture from the signing:

Jane, one of the Study Buddies moderators on is next to me on the right.  Jane's also been wonderful about recommending my books.

Saturday - I left Amy and Jenna at Laguna Beach. Poor girls all by themselves had to lie on the beach, go swimming, make sand sculptures, and go shopping - they were bored without me :)  Mean while I was having fun at the Mysterious Galaxy Book Store in San Diego.  One of the best independent book stores in the US - they specialize in SF and Fantasy books.  The traffic from LA to SD was horrible, and an hour-long trip took me almost 2.  Locals told me that while in other places people might talk about the weather, people in CA talk about traffic!  I see why - it's a whole other entity - I think it's self-aware.

When I arrived at Mysterious Galaxy, about 5 minutes late, there were about 30 people waiting for me!  All sitting in front of a podium! I talked about my books and cracked some jokes.  I had many dedicated readers there - I mentioned one of my other POISON STUDY covers and about 10 people pulled out the old covers and the new covers so we could compare.

Even though there were a bunch of loyal readers like Chocoholic from Goodreads (she brought me chocolate - of course!  It didn't make it...home), I met my most dedicated reader of all.  I know a bunch of you are saying, "Now, wait a minute Maria, I'm your most...."  Sorry, but Sami drove all the way from Salt Lake City, Utah to San Diego, CA to see me.  12 hours one way - by herself!!  24 total hours in the car in one weekend.  That's dedication!  Second place for the title would be the two ladies who drove 8 hours one-way from Vermont to Pennsylvania to attend my writing workshop last month.  Third is a group of college students from Muncie, Indiana who drove to Pittsburgh to see me (about 5 hours),  Fourth goes to a lady who flew from Texas to attend a conference I was at, and Fifth place goes to Jessica who flew from St. Louis, MO to Pittsburgh with her mom to see me.  It's not really a contest - I'm just amazed by their willingness to come long distances to see me.  And y'all know you are all equally loved :)  Here's a picture of me (with my hair up) and Sami:

Sunday of my tour I attended the Orange County Children's Book Festival and did a reading on the Teen Stage, followed by a signing (Mysterious Galaxy maned the booth).  It was a lovely day and a lovely festival.  The Teen stage was popular and a few of the authors had long signing lines.  I met Becca Fitzpatrick, who wrote Hush, Hush and Crescendo, Nancy Holder, who wrote The Wicked series with her writing partner Debbie Vigiue.  Nancy also wrote over 30 Buffy the Vampire Slayer books and I love Buffy!  I also met Emma Michaels, author of The Thirteenth Chime, and Lisa Desrochers who wrote Personal Demons! They were all super nice - and we hung out and chatted books and writing, exchanging info and ideas :)  From everything I've heard, the festival was a big success!  Here's a picture:

Becca Fitzpatrick is the lady with the sunglasses and Nancy Holder is wearing the black hat! rained :(  That was the day for me and Amy and Jenna to go to the San Diego Zoo.  It's legendary - and when we arrived, it poured.  We debated outside the gate and one of the workers said that the rain might be bad for us, but the animals loved this weather and would be out and active.  So we went in.  I also helped that for the month of October kids 12 and under were free :)  Despite the rain, we had a great time.  It is a fantastic zoo and I would recommend it to anyone who is visiting San Diego - it's huge and the areas for the animals were big and clean. 

The only thing I didn't like was the tour buses driving around.  You can take the bus and just sit and visit all the areas without having to walk. And when the bus gets to an area, it sits there, idling while the tour guide talks.  Now, I know not everyone is mobile and the place is huge, but the buses were a distraction and the noise and exhaust seemed out of place.  

My favorite animal to see were the Koala bears - they were so cute and small!  I always thought they were bigger.  Of course by this time the battery on my camera had died.  And Jenna's did, too.  Amy had juice, and below you'll see the Koala pictures from Amy and some others:

Alethea gave us this umbrella on Friday and it was sunny and beautiful and I was thinking we wouldn't need it - I was wrong! Bright orange was a great color, I could spot Jenna anywhere in the zoo :)

My daughter loves, loves, loves Pandas! She took this picture.


 Koalas!!  So CUTE!!

The Zebras were having fun - fighting and running around in the rain. 

That's about it.  We flew home on Tuesday.  My son who had stayed home with my husband, until dh had to leave for Canada, was actually home alone for two nights.  At 15, he's old enough, but I worried.  We I got home, the house was intact, but the basement had flooded (from all that rain on the Thursday before we left - not his fault, but still bad timing), the litter box was full and stinky, the trash hadn't been taken out, and the cat was very hungry.  Might be awhile before he's left home alone again :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Scrambling to Keep Up!

Since I've returned from California, I've been scrambling to keep up with...everything!  I  can really relate to the 3 Doors Down song, Running Out of Days, from their Away From the Sun album.  Especially these lines: "All these little things in life and they all create this haze. Too many things to get done and I'm running out of days."  Yep, I hear you!

Last week I did get my email newsletter out on Wednesday the 13th. ICE STUDY Part 7 was included :)  If you're a subscriber and didn't get the issue - check your spam folder.  And if it's not there, then you need to add this email addy to your approved list:  

I've also been scrambling to reply to my emails.  So if you've sent me an email, I'm about a month behind, but I will answer.  I don't like to be so far behind, but I feel better about it after I saw Kelley Armstrong's post on Facebook that she had 666 unanswered emails in her inbox! 

I also picked - or rather picked a winner for a signed copy of  PERSONAL DEMONS.  Congrats to Crystal!!!  (Crystal you need to send me your mailing addy - please send it to my email

A few more housekeeping things :)  I did an interview over at YA Book Nerd that was fun.  And tomorrow she's going to have a contest to win a signed copy of SPY GLASS.  Here's the link:

And a friend of mine has posted a review of SPY GLASS that has generated an interesting discussion.  I sent her a few comments about it and I think she's going to post those as well.  Here's the link: 

Stay tuned - I'm planning to do a post about my LA/San Diego trip and one about POISON STUDY's fifth birthday that will have give aways!

And here's a question - what do you think of this color?  I thought the white is too hard to read, but it could be my aging eyes!