Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Author Breakfast

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I had such a great time at the Reading Reptile Author Breakfast. First of all, Reading Reptile is a wonderful store, packed with children’s books, with enormous papier mâché children’s book characters—Lyle Crocodile, Kevin Henkes’s Lily (of Plastic Purse fame), Firehouse Dog, and dozens more—hanging from the ceiling, children’s book posters papering the ceiling, toys and reading nooks everywhere (including a little cupboard you can crawl into with a book—or at least, a child could crawl into with a book; an adult would find it a tight fit, which is probably the point), and an orange cat who likes to be scratched. Plus Debbie and Pete’s adorable kids, who have been pretty much raised in the bookstore. It’s Book Heaven. It’s where I would have like to have been raised.

And the breakfast was such fun. Deb and Pete, the owners, managed, somehow, to squeeze in enough tables to seat 60+ people, and after a yummy meal, the authors took turns telling about “My Pet,” which was truly a delight. Each author’s presentation was funny and entertaining, from Jenny Whitehead’s movie about Aubrey the demon cat (yes! a real movie) to Eric Brace’s and Shane Evans’s slide shows, to Lisa Campbell Ernst’s hilarious reenactment of reading books to her hamster.

Deb and Pete plan to make this an annual event, so if you live anywhere close to Kansas City, give yourself a treat and attend next year’s breakfast.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Reading Reptile

Kansas City is very lucky to have the Reading Reptile, a fabulous children’s bookstore in the charming Brookside area, and I’m very lucky to have been invited to the Reading Reptile’s Summer Author Breakfast this Saturday, July 14. It’s an opportunity for authors and other children’s booklovers to hang out together while eating great food (breakfast is my favorite meal), and I’ll be there with authors and illustrators Jenny Whitehead, Pete Whitehead, Laura Huliska-Beith, Lisa Campbell Ernst, Eric Brace, Cheryl Harness, Shane W. Evans, and Christine Taylor-Butler, so I know I’ll have a great time.

Here is a link to last Sunday’s Kansas City Star article about the breakfast. The event is already sold out, but the owners of Reading Reptile are already making plans for next year’s breakfast, which will take place in a larger venue so that more people can attend.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Little Space

I finally dragged my Neanderthal self into the twenty-first century and put up a MySpace page. Here’s the URL if anyone wants to take a peek:


For writers (or anyone else) who are thinking of putting up a MySpace page but feel overwhelmed by the whole thing, hey, I was right there with you a couple days ago. I would get onto MySpace, then quickly scurry off again because I found it all too confusing. But if you poke around, things start to make sense, and already—two days later—I’m convinced the time I invested (and it does take a bit of time to set up and start inviting friends) was worth it.

To my friends list I’ve added other writers—some I already knew and others who are new to me—plus libraries, teen library advisors, ALA, YALSA, Sisters in Crime, and Astrokitty, a comic book shop in Lawrence I didn’t even know existed until I found their MySpace page. I’ve since visited the shop in person, and it’s a great place. Lots of comics and comics collectibles, staffed by friendly comic book geeks who really know their stuff and don’t mind having a children’s writer pick their brains. This is handy since it turns out the main character of my next novel is also a comic book geek who really knows his stuff.

At first I was shy about inviting anyone I didn’t already know to be a MySpace friend, but now I’m becoming brazen. I’ve even invited Paul McCartney. Not that I think Sir Paul is actually maintaining—or even looking at—his own MySpace page. But my rule of thumb is, if you get the opportunity to be friends—any kind of friends—with Paul McCartney, take it. He hasn’t responded yet, but I’m optimistic.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

If You Love Nancy Like I Love Nancy. . .

. . . treat yourself to the new Nancy Drew movie. It’s a delight. The casting is wonderful. Emma Roberts is perfect as the intrepid, unflappable Nancy, and Tate Donovan and Max Thieriot are equally perfect as her father, Carson Drew, and her boyfriend, the long-suffering Ned. The mystery is compelling, with Nancy trying to solve the twenty-five-year-old murder of the glamorous movie star who used to live in the house she and her father rent while he’s on temporary assignment in L.A., and while Nancy fans may be disappointed that Bess, George, and Hannah only rate a small appearance at the beginning of the movie, her new friend Corky (played by Josh Flitter) is the perfect wise-cracking foil to Nancy’s single-minded, rule-following approach to crime solving.

The story, too, strikes the perfect balance between honoring the Nancy Drew tradition and having fun with—without making fun of—it. Nancy still sports her traditional look—knee socks, penny loafers, sweater sets, and lots and lots of plaid—but she looks great in it, and even fashionable in a totally Nancy way. She finds secret passageways, is always prepared with a flashlight and compass, and remains completely oblivious to any romantic notions Ned may have in mind. And no matter what she attempts, Nancy, as always, is better at it than anybody else. In math class she knows the answer to every question. In gym class, she outruns every other girl on the track, while remaining well-groomed and cheerful. In woodshop, while the other students construct roughly-hewn key holders, she builds a replica of Notre Dame Cathedral, appologizing to her teacher because she “only had time for twelve flying buttresses. In actuality, there are twenty-six.”

The movie is hilarious at times, with Nancy saying things like (when her father forbids her to do any more sleuthing): “I understand his concern. There was that whole hostage situation.” And (when the bad guys attempt to run her down with a car): “Usually when people try to kill me, it means I’m on to something.” And (when she finds a suspicious ticking mechanism in the back seat of her blue roadster): “Excuse me. I need to go defuse this bomb.”

I enjoyed every minute of this movie and hope there’s a sequel. Or even, dare I wish, a. . . series. I’ve loved Nancy Drew since my mom (who read Nancy when she was a girl) gave me The Hidden Staircase and The Bungalow Mystery for Christmas. No, wait. I didn’t just love Nancy; I wanted to be Nancy. I grew up in the 70s, at a time when girls were still being told they couldn’t do everything boys could do, and here was Nancy, proving them all wrong. Devouring Nancy Drew books was one of the things that first made me want to be—and think I could be—a writer.

And I’m seriously thinking about buying some knee socks, penny loafers, and a plaid headband.