The long story is down below (warning - it's very long - but there are some pictures!), but first I need to anounce the winners of the Australian Give Away! Thanks for all who posted reviews for INSIDE OUT and OUTSIDE IN all over the Internet - it is most appreciated! I picked four winners by using a random number generator, and from those four, the person with the highest score won his/her choice of Study books or Glass books. Second highest received the other set and the next two won Australian editions of INSIDE OUT (I hope - I haven't heard from my AU editor yet!).
The winners are:
1st place - Nicole - who picked the Glass books!
2nd place - Ashley - gets the Study books!
3rd place - Sophia - the AU edition of INSIDE OUT!
4th place - Jennifer - the same as Sophia!
Congratulations to them all!
So...my Texas trip was super fun despite feeling like 200 tissues had been stuffed inside my head. I flew to El Paso on the 11th and my friend, Danielle picked me up. I spent a lovely afternoon on her back porch talking books with her son, Cory (why is this notable? My son's roughly the same age but I talked more with Cory in one afternoon than a whole month with Luke! Danielle wouldn't let me swap sons ;). El Paso is a beautiful city and the lights at night are amazing. I forgot to take my camera (still kicking myself) and when Danielle sends me pics, I'll post them. There are a few on my Facebook page.
Tuesday I spent the entire day at El Paso Community College - talking to Danielle's English classes (she requires all her students to read POISON STUDY as part of the class - so fun to say my book is required reading - and even better is when the response is so positive (take THAT Charles Dickens!) Flying to El Paso was an easy decision :). I also taught workshops for aspiring writers and I did a reading and Q&A session at night. Her students were so enthusiastic - they all brought in food, drinks, cakes, cookies, punch, etc... for the reception part of the reading - so sweet! It was a well attended event (best way to get college students to attend is to offer free food ;) and I met some loyal readers. I'm glad my voice held out that long as I started the day already sounding hoarse because of the cold (so bad timing!).
On Wednesday I flew to Austin - another lovely city yet so different from El Paso. Thursday morning I visited Harmony Science Academy to talk with the students. I've been to their school before - the PTA had a spaghetti dinner to raise money for my travel expenses back in 2009. This time, they didn't need to raise money as the Texas Library Association invited me down for their annual conference - but I couldn't go to Austin without stopping at Harmony! They are super sweet and as you can see from the picture to the left - they gave me a beautiful glass statue in appreciation (the words under my name say, In recognition of the inspiration you give to the students of Harmony Science Academy North Austin). I also received a stuff sheep - which I call Texas Sheepy - seems Sheepy is a very popular character in Austin :)
I'm glad the statue made it home in one piece and TSA didn't freak out when I took it through security - which was interesting now that they have those X-ray machines - I half expected the agents to tell me I had spots on my lungs or something medical - but the lady only patted me down - guess I shouldn't have tried to smuggle Texas Sheepy under my shirt ;>
Lunch was at the Salt Lick (love this name) for some BBQ - I also loved their claim that they have the best smelling pits in town. For those unfamiliar with Texas BBQ - go google it - it's a culture onto itself and very delicious.
Thursday night I did a book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Round Rock, Texas. Yee haw! Lots of readers stopped by from all over Texas. You would think I would be very blase about readers driving four, five, six hours - ho hum and all that. But you'd be wrong - I'm still amazed and thrilled and honored that they would drive so far (of course in Texas, far is anything over 10 hours - under 10 is just around the corner ;) to see me. And I hope I will always feel this way - I never want to take it for granted or become jaded. One reader even sent me a tub full of whoopie pies (google it - although ignore any reference that they were created in Maine - they're from Lancaster County, PA. Yes, I live in Lancaster Co - what about it?) The pies were an early birthday present - thanks so much Amy!
Did I say birthday? Yes - Friday April 15 was my birthday. I spent the morning at the Texas Librarian's Conference - a huge con that was amazing - they had wonderful speakers and authors and the workshops... I wished I spent more time there. I was on a Science Fiction panel with an incredible line up of authors (who I shared my whoopie pies with). I was with Patrick Rothfuss, Elizabeth Moon, John Scalzi, Jonathan Maberry, and Ryan Brown. the discussion was top notch and I would have happily stayed all day and talked genre and books with them, but we only had 2 hours.
I left for the airport that afternoon and.....sat and sat and sat. A bad thunderstorm/rainstorm had closed the Chicago airport for a few hours so our flight was delayed. Normally, I wouldn't mind - I expect delays when traveling and figure the day is shot and try not to stress over it. However, I worried I would miss my flight to Harrisburg - I was scheduled to teach a workshop and be the keynote speaker (my first) for a writer's con in PA and I HAD to get home that night!
Delays followed more delays, but we made it to Chicago and the flight to Harrisburg hadn't left either - except we didn't have a gate! So we sat on the tarmac for another hour. The very nice man who sat next to me kept checking my Harrisburg flight status on his iPhone, and it kept getting delayed, too. The funny thing - I got a call from United that my flight to Chicago was delayed - this call came in as we were sitting on the tarmac in Chicago six hours after the original flight time! I shared the story with my seatmates - we all had a laugh.
I landed in Harrisburg at 3:00 a.m. Thank goodness the shuttle to the parking lot was still running - I schlepped my bags to my car, exhausted and I found a surprise. My dear husband had stopped by my car earlier and put a bouquet of flowers and a balloon inside for my birthday - isn't he sweet ;> A nice ending to the story - isn't it? Here's pictures - and I took some up-close shots of flowers, I added those below just for fun.
After 3 hours of sleep, I was on the road, and I taught my workshop, did the Keynote, drove home and slept for 14 hours!