Friday, February 29, 2008

I’m Available in Softcover

Hooray! The paperback version of Airball: My Life in Briefs will be released Tuesday, March 4—four days from now. It’s published by Square Fish, my publisher’s paperback imprint, and I love the new cover:

P.S. Happy Leap Day. I keep thinking I need to commemorate this day, which only rolls around every four years, by leaping into something new and exciting and slightly scary, something I’ve been wanting to do but have been too busy or too afraid. . . but I can’t think what that something would be. So maybe I’ll just leap into some drawings for my middle-grade WIP (comic book panels that my superhero-wannabe main character is creating as his own story goes along) and do so without fear or self-doubt.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I’m Updated!

Well, not me personally (ask my son—he’ll be happy to tell you how quickly I’m sinking into old fogeydom), but my website is updated, at least partially. I’ve added some upcoming events to the calendar page:

Panel Discussion and Booksigning
Topeka Barnes & Noble
Saturday, March 1, 2008
(see below)

Kansas SCBWI Workshop
KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park
Saturday, March 15, 2008

Young Writers Conference
Emporia High School
Saturday, April 19, 2008

Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave
Manhattan, Kansas
October 31–November 2, 2008

I’ll be adding some school visits and other events in the very near future.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Panel Discussion and Signing

I love Esther Luttrell. She was a script advisor, script consultant, and screenwriter in Hollywood for many, many years, and she is a wonderful and generous screenwriting teacher. I took a class from her a few years back at UMKC (University of Missouri–Kansas City—I keep forgetting that not everybody knows all the local acronyms). Now she lives in Topeka, and she’s writing mysteries. Her novel Murder at the Movies, which draws on her Hollywood background, has just been released.

Esther has arranged a panel discussion and booksigning at the Topeka Barnes & Noble, and she has invited me and Mark Bouton to join her on the panel. Mark is a terrific mystery writer and retired FBI agent whom I’ve met at several GMMCs (Great Manhattan Mystery Conclaves). He was one of the agents who investigated the Oklahoma City bombing and tracked down and arrested Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

I am so looking forward to the panel. The Topeka Barnes & Noble has been very good to me and to Airball. Here are the particulars:

Demystifying the Mystery of Writing Mysteries
Panel Discussion and Booksigning with Esther Luttrell, Mark Bouton, and Lisa Harkrader
2 to 4 p.m.
March 1, 2008
Barnes & Noble
6130 SW 17th Street
(17th and Wanamaker)
Topeka, KS 66615

I’m so impressed with everything Esther has done to arrange this event, and tickled to death that she invited me to join her.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What I’ve Been Up To. . .

. . . besides writing, writing, writing (and actually—no kidding—getting a lot written that doesn’t completely stink):

Yesterday I did a school visit at Jeff West (Jefferson County West Unified School District, for those of you who don’t live in northeast Kansas :-) ), and I had a great time. I talked to the 4th and 5th graders at the Intermediate School in Ozawkie and the 6th and 7th graders at the Middle School in Meriden, and they were all just terrific. Their teachers and librarians prepared them well, reading Airball out loud in class, talking up the visit, making Airball bulletin boards, and all those wonderful things teachers and librarians do every day that get taken for granted.

I’ve actually done several school visits lately. Last month I was in Linwood, talking to the 7th and 8th grades at Basehor-Linwood Middle School. Before Christmas I talked to kids in Overbrook and Stanton. And I always have a great time.

Which, knowing my personality the way I do and for as many years as I have, surprises me. People laugh when I tell them this, but I’m a very shy person. And the first few times I did school visits, I was so panic-stricken (I agreed to do WHAT? In front of HOW MANY KIDS? Did I have a head injury? What was I THINKING?) before the visits that I honestly and truly thought I would pass out in the car on the way. And then I sort of hoped I would because running my car into the ditch seemed infinitely preferable to speaking to an auditorium full of middle graders.

But, to my surprise, I find that I enjoy speaking to auditoriums (auditoria?) full of middle graders. And, even more surprising, they seem to enjoy it, too.

I’m still a shy person. But I find that as a writer, I need to have two personalities: Lisa the Hermit and Lisa Who is Allowed Out in Public. It’s sometimes hard to shift between the two. The Hermit likes being hunkered down at the computer with fictional characters, not having to fix her hair or talk to anyone real. But once I let my Public personality out, she ends up on such an adrenaline high after school visits that she really hates to be put back into the cave.

Other stuff my Public personality has been doing includes a really fun day before Christmas, when I spent the morning at the Barnes and Noble in Topeka at the Auburn-Washburn Book Fair talking to kids and teachers and parents, listening to the elementary school early morning choirs, and signing books with Beverley Olson Buller, author of From Emporia: The Story of William Allen White, a terrific biography that includes incredible photos, many from the morgue of the Kansas City Star and not widely published before now.

I wished I could have stayed there all day, but I left just after noon to motor over to The Book Barn (which, as I’ve said before, is a wonderful, wonderful independent bookstore in historic downtown Leavenworth). Owners Bob and Barb Spear were hosting their annual holiday open house, and they invited me to be their guest, along with Ally Carter, author of the wildly popular Gallagher Girls books, a YA series about a spy boarding school for girls. I had a great time there, too, talking to readers, answering questions, signing books.

I’m very lucky my Public personality gets invited to so many events. And I’m lucky that the Hermit allows her to go.