Monday, April 2, 2012

Penguin 101

So last week I got to fly to the Big Apple and meet my editor, agent, and publisher for the first. time. ever.  The whole experience was just beyond anything I'd ever dreamed I'd find myself doing. I mean--PENGUIN. What. The. Junk? ME? At PENGUIN? I hardly felt like a bonafide author while there. I felt more like a gawky kid in Disney World gaping at everything and practically jumping up and down with pure, heady euphoria, but everyone was very nice and pretended not to notice. =)

My day started here, at the building which houses the Penguin Young Readers Group (and thusly Razorbill) offices:


Yeah. I was like O_O whooooooa sweet mother. Understand, I live in a town in which a building with an elevator is high falutin' shiz. So I was rather impressed. We also headed to a nearby building which houses the main, adultish Penguin biz, to shoot some author vid. That was pretty cool. Everyone was super gracious and let me start over when I got tongue tied.

Here's the lobby. With the receptionist lunging to the side so as not to be caught in Cheesy Visiting Author's photo. But honestly, everyone at Penguin was so, so nice. I was like a little kid discovering Candy Land is actually a real place and you can go there and you want to ask for the autograph of every single person you meet, even the lunging receptionist and the guy in the hallway scraping gum out of a trashcan. Because in my mind, anyone associated with Penguin is a rock star. Or a book god. Or a superhero.

The place is JAMMED. WITH. BOOKS. And not just any books. Familiar books. Beloved books. The books I grew up reading over and over until the spines had more cracks than a day at the chiropractor's. The books I hid under my pillow until my parents were asleep and then I'd pull them out and read them under the covers with a flashlight. The books that made me laugh and cry and inspired me to write my own books. Books by Brian Jacques and Lloyd Alexander and Eric Carle and Astrid Lindgren and Roald Dahl and Jean Craighead George. And the whole time I'm thinking My book is going to be on these shelves. My name is going be on these lists. It was surreal and overwhelming. A Cinderella-meets-the-prince or a Little-Mermaid-gets-legs kind of moment.

Here's me and my amazing editor, Laura. She's totally gorgeous and sweet and I couldn't imagine anyone else looking after Pia. She gave me a little tour and introduced me to all kinds of amazing people who have had a hand in Origin. And everyone I met was so enthusiastic and energetic and engaging. You know--kind of how you always imagine everyone at Google or Facebook or Pixar to be. You can just tell these people love books and love making books and are good at it too. We had a delicious lunch and talked about books and TV shows and Origin and which Hogwarts house we'd be in and all kinds of extremely important, businesslike, solemn things like that.

One of the best parts? Leaving with a sack full of books and ARCs. Because, hey. The way to any author's heart is through her bookshelf. My husband figured that out pretty quick, which is why he's built me so many bookshelves. Anyway, I've already raced through Falling Kingdoms, which was A.Ma.Zing. and I'm agonizing over what to pick up next. Possibly might be doing some ARC giveaways in the near future (if I can bring myself to part with any) so keep an eye out for that!

Oh, and some touristy stuff (it was my first time in NYC; previously I'd only seen it from Staten Island). Here's Ben and me chillin' at Times Square and looking cheesy.

 And seeing Evita--which is only my FAVORITE MUSICAL EVER and it was fabulous. Also, Ricky Martin was in it and he rocked, as did Elena Roger (awesomeness--an actual Argentinian playing the Argentinian Evita).

So much more I could say, but as I write this it's getting pretty late and I have to clean my entire house tomorrow as well as babysit my kid sisters, so I'm going to wrap it up. But before I go I have questions for you!

  1)  Have you ever been to New York? What was your favorite memory there?
  2)  If you could meet any author in the world--alive or dead--who would you want to meet?
                (Me, it'd be Lloyd Alexander.)

   Leave your answer in the comments! I look forward to reading! =)



  1. Ohhh Jess. I'm not sure if I'm more jealous of your trip or your bookshelves *stares at poor homeless books* My husband can bake bread but no bookshelf building.

    As far as NYC, yes. I did my house/agency visit in September, and it was spectacular. I'm so excited to go back in June.

    And I won't lie, J.K.Rowling. Although perhaps Shakespeare too, so I could put the whole authorship conspiracy to rest.

    1. Oh Shakespeare! Good idea. That whole thing really needs to be settled.

  2. That's so very cool! That sounds like such an awesome experience.

    I love so much about NYC. It's hard to limit it to just one thing. I spent a week there for an editing conference (video editing, that is) with friends from college a few years ago. A few of us got up at some ridiculously early hour to be the first ones on line for standby Conan tickets, and then we waited for hours for them to start handing them out. We still didn't get seats, but it was fun as anything just hanging out there.

    If I could meet any author... let's see... JK Rowling is definitely up there, along with Suzanne Collins. And Louisa May Alcott. And probably a whole lot more. :)

  3. Love this recap, Jessica.

    I grew up in New Jersey so NYC has been no big deal for me. Really. Until I went to summer camps in Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania respectively and went to college (er...still *am* in college!) in Massachusetts, I had NO idea that it wasn't normal to go every weekend to a Broadway show or go to Books of Wonder or ride the subway or walk around Brooklyn, etc. I had no idea that there were people who had NEVER been to NYC, but as I went to summer camp and college, etc. it was so interesting to learn their opinions. I found out the following:
    - The areas filled with tourists get an eye-roll from me. Everyone else who's never been to NYC? "OMG AMAZING!!!Times Sq OMG!!"
    - Broadway for me = jeans and a sweatshirt. For everyone who has never been to NYC? Fancy shoes and dress attire.
    - Going out and walking on the streets and passing celebrities in NYC for me = eh, whatever. For everyone else? OMGTHATWASALANRICKMANOMG.

    I am very jealous that you got FALLING KINGDOMS. I just read a great upper middle grade/young young adult book (high fantasy) called The False Prince. If you're into clever twists, a narrator with no love interest (finally!!!!) and tricking the kingdom into believing you are the heir/prince, then this book is for you. It is also narrated by a boy, which was great and much needed from my slew of girly narrated books. :-)

    As for an author I'd love to meet - KA Applegate who wrote 54+ violent books for middle grade about how damaging (psychologically and physically) war was, and who is a woman. She inspired me to write at age 8 and i've never looked back since :-)

    So glad to hear you had a great time and I look forward to your next bloggy post

    1. Ha! So guilty of dressing up for Broadway! But I'd probably do it again, so. =P Isn't KA Applegate married to Michael Grant? Or am I thinking of another Applegate?

    2. Yup. Michael Grant is married to KA - they actually wrote Animorphs together. :) And don't worry - dressing up for Broadway is fiiine. How was EVITA?

    3. Fabulous. If you haven't yet, you should totally throw your jeans on and go see it!

  4. Wow! Congrats! I imagine seeing all that for your book (squee!!) is beyond words, especially with Penguin. I love NYC. I love the Metropolitan Museum, which has different artifacts every time I go there. I love Central Park (during the day) in spring when all the blossoms are out. I love all the touristy stuff like Time Square and Broadway. I was even there during New Year's Eve to break in 2000.
    And, if I could meet any author, probably Jane Austen. Sounds generic, but in her time for a woman to become such an extraordinary story-teller was something else.

  5. Wow. That sounds so amazing. I've never been to New York before and wish I could get ARCs for free. XD So cool!

    If I could meet any author it would probably be Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling. I write the way I do now because of them.

  6. Very awesome post, Jessica. I am terribly jealous, but very happy for you at the same time. :)
    We're from the California Central Valley. Last year we followed our oldest son and his high school Wind Ensemble to NYC. They got to play Carnegie Hall and it was the most amazing trip ever. As to what author I'd like to meet, I am unsure. I'd be worried that I wouldn't like him or her.


  7. Yay! I love seeing the pictures authors put up after they've visited their publishing house! Very fun to see and dream about one day. :) Is that a normal thing though? If you're published by one of the big 6 to be flown to meet with them? Some authors talk about it and some don't so I was wondering.

    And I'd meet Stephanie Meyer and Francine Rivers. They write completely different types of books for different markets and genres, but both are inspiring.

    1. Great author picks, Rachel! I don't know how often authors get to meet their publishers; I know I was pretty lucky to get the chance, though. And so thrilled it happened! Especially since there's no much negativity toward big publishers these days. It's nice to have a reminder that little nobodies from the boonies (that's me!) actually can become "real" authors. Then again, most authors are pretty busy; I just had the extra time to make the trip, so that really helped.

  8. That is so awesome! Beyond awesome! I've been to New York a few times. A carriage ride through Central Park was my favorite memory. Also the author . . . geez that's so hard. James Baldwin probably.

  9. Jessica, I'm so proud of you! You are living the dream, baby. And I agree, your editor is lovely! So ... when do we get to see the gum scraper's autograph? Hee. So glad you got to take in a show and do the tourist thing, too! I would be just as start struck as you, coming from my poe dunk Texas town. LOL

  10. Ooh. *hands twitching at the sight of all those books* Do have an ARC giveaway once you've read them all, K?
    Sounds like you had a blast! We visited NYC last summer - spent a week in Manhattan, touring the museums, going to Phantom, etc., etc. I loved showing my Alaska kids what life in the Big City was like.
    And I'm like Genn - Shakespeare (the real one) all the way.

  11. I'm so happy for you!! This sounds like such a lovely experience. :)

    I've been to NYC several times on family vacations. I have yet to see a show on Broadway (Wicked, please), but I adore the atmosphere there. If I were to ever get to go there on an authorly visit...that would be perfection.

    And I'd want to meet Tolkien.

  12. What an amazing experience! I loved the pictures and I felt like I was there too. So happy for you. If I were to meet an author it would have to be the group- the Inklings- specifically Tolkien and CS Lewis. They used to meet at the Eagle and Child so I would want to just hang out and listen to them speak.

    1. OH PLEASE OH PLEASE let me come with you. That's kind of a dream of mine! =) Yay Eagle and Child!! (You were in Dr. Williams's class at TFC, weren't you?)

  13. So proud of your accomplishments, so far. I know there will be many more to come. I'm looking forward to reading your book! Will you be having a signing locally (Toccoa)?
    I've been to NYC a couple of times. My best memories include the touristy stuff, Staten Island Ferry, the Today Show sidewalk wave, Rockette's Christmas Show, Times Square....but, the most memorable was Ground Zero. Very moving. The author I'd most like to meet would be Louisa May Alcott.

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