Last weekend I attended the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Fall Trade Show. It was an extravaganza of ideas, authors, and book lovers.
The highlight of the show for me was introducing authors at Sunday morning’s Books and Authors Breakfast. What a line up! I had Jon Klassen, the author and illustrator of clever and funny I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, Eowyn Ivey, the author of the gorgeous novel The Snow Child, Karen Cushman, the author of a Newbery Award winner and honor book for kids and the upcoming Elizabethan adventure Will Sparrow’s Road, and Sherman Alexie, author, poet, National Book Award Winner, and all-around amazing guy who has a new collection of classic and new short stories, Blasphemy.
Here are photos of me with Jon Klassen and Sherman Alexie after the breakfast:
Introducing such amazing people in front of a room of 200 was my brave way to start the day. In his presentation, Sherman referenced the public speaking strategy of ”be prepared, not scared;” I managed to be both. But I am so glad I volunteered to emcee the breakfast!
What brave thing are you proud of?
Posted by Tegan on Oct 9, 2012 in book world
, brave things
At the end of September, I went to an incredible book signing.
Hundreds of people lined up on a Tuesday night to get a chance to meet the debut author, Stephanie Trimberger, and get an autographed copy of her book. Stephanie is 15. The book signing was her wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She wrote the manuscript for a fantasy novel, The Ruby Heart, while she underwent treatment for brain cancer, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, together with Scholastic and all those fans helped make her dream come true.
What an incredible wish! Stephanie didn’t want to just show up and be treated like an author; she wanted to be a published author. She knew that in order to do that, she had to write a book. A whole book! While she was undergoing treatment for cancer! I am so impressed that she had the dedication and discipline (and imagination) to write an entire manuscript at age 15, even if she hadn’t been going through all the medical hardship she faced.
Once Stephanie completed her manuscript, more people got to be creatively involved in this spectacular wish. Arthur A. Levine and Cheryl Klein, editors from Scholastic (THE HARRY POTTER PEOPLE!), edited the book, got it designed, and sent it to press.
The Make-A-Wish volunteers worked with Barnes & Noble in downtown Seattle to secure a place for the signing. They spread the word through facebook and emails, inviting people to come celebrate Stephanie and her accomplishment. Word got to me through a mom I know who knows someone who volunteers. When I got there an hour into the event (I zoomed down after work), the line was still long, and Stephanie was signing like a champ: with a smile and autograph for everyone.
I spotted the sales rep for Scholastic for the region, Chris, in line. Chris carried a backpack full of fun things to give to Stephanie. We stood in line together, and got this picture taken by the Make-A-Wish volunteers when Stephanie signed our books.
Now I’ve been getting phone calls at the bookstore and emails on a story I wrote about Stephanie, asking how to get a copy of The Ruby Heart. Because it was a special production of Scholastic, it was published without intention to sell– no ISBN, no price, no bar code. But news has gotten out about Stephanie and her incredible stories– the one she wrote, and the one she’s living– and now people want to read her book. She is inspiring people around the country.
If you want to help support the Make-A-Wish Foundation, you can donate online. You can thank Scholastic by leaving a comment on their blog. (Buying a Scholastic book is always a nice way to show your support, too. Might I recommend Stealing Air and Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy, an author who came to Stephanie’s signing, or Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough, who helped spread the word?)
Posted by Tegan on Aug 17, 2012 in book world
, brave things
, Tegan's posts
Yesterday I had the delight of hosting Michael Natkin, author of the spectacular Herbivoracious cookbook and chef behind the food blog herbivorcious.com at Queen Anne Books.
When I host cookbook authors, I usually make something from their cookbooks to give out as a free sample to customers to prove that a home cook without special chef tools, a person who shops at the same grocery stores in the neighborhood that they do, can make the food. I’ve cooked several of the Herbivoracious vegetarian recipes before and they’ve turned out great, but when I cook at home, I tend to improvise a lot. Since I was cooking for the master himself, I wanted to follow the recipe closely.
Here’s how the sauteed grapes with chevre, oregano, and chives turned out:
As you can see, I am not a professional food photographer, either. But it was tasty! Customers loved it! Even more rewarding for my brave thing, Michael Natkin deemed the food “perfect.” Hooray!
Throwing a party for a chef cooking his recipes was my big brave thing of the week. (Cooking at all in yesterday’s heat felt pretty brave.)
What’s your favorite brave thing lately?
This week, I was asked to provide a picture of myself for the website for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association since my membership on the board is now official.
I had to think, “Who am I? Who do I want people to see when they look at the faces of the indie booksellers of our region?”
I thought maybe I could go with coy and enthusiastic– a photo my husband took of me in the teen’s section of the store during the holiday season.
Or maybe I should be outside, in the sun, looking vaguely literary-tourist?
In the end, I couldn’t choose. I chickened out and sent both, together with one other– my personal favorite, actually. The third photo shows me being silly but looking strong. It has a bookish inside joke (a fake tattoo that may look familiar to more people now than when I wore it for weeks in the summer of 2010), and it shows the fighting, playful spirit that keeps me inspired as a bookseller. I thought maybe it was too much– to sassy, too goofy. Turns out that was PNBA’s favorite, too. Now you and the rest of the internet can see it at the PNBA Board page!
Sassy, nerdy, goofy, playful, strong– I guess that’s who I am.
I have a cousin who was a real, compete-with-uniforms, root-for-teams, pom-pom wielding cheerleader. I’ve never had the chance to be that kind of cheerleader, but I’ve always loved cheering on the sidelines, from the bench, along the parade route, from the audience. As a bookseller, I love cheering for authors and books I read and love. This month has been great for a book I read before it went on sale this Tuesday: Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Wild is Cheryl’s memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail when she was 26. Cheryl’s mother died four years earlier after a short, intense fight with lung cancer. After lots of grieving that didn’t heal (extramarital affairs, drug abuse), Cheryl made the choice to hike the Pacific Coast Trail to move through her grief, be alone, and prove to herself that she could live up to her potential– and her mother’s love. The book is gorgeously written, with passages that distill Cheryl’s experiences into vivid specifics but also somehow feel universal. I was riveted and inspired by her journey.
This is the kind of book I love to discover– a book that will stay with its readers. Because of the emotionally intense subject matter, it’s also the kind of book that people might not just pick up when they are in a bookstore, despite its striking cover. So I particularly love spreading my recommendations so people will choose this and be moved by it. It has humor! It has beauty! It has meaning! I still think about it months after I read it. I have given it to friends. This is a book worth the hardcover price.
I’ve been thrilled to see that even though I was an early enthusiastic reader, I’m certainly not the only one. Random House, the publisher, posted on its blog about Wild as “A Book We’re Loving” (and used my blurb!). Oprah.com (Oprah!!!) featured it as one of the 17 Books to Watch for in April 2012. Reese Witherspoon bought the film rights to the story.
Seattle-area readers, if you’re free, Cheryl Strayed is in town (from Portland) to do a reading and signing tonight (Thursday) at Elliott Bay Books at 7 and she’ll be at Third Place Books at Lake Forest Park tomorrow (Friday) at 6:30. I was delighted to hear from her publisher that she’ll also be swinging by my bookstore, Queen Anne Books, to sign stock, while she’s in town. She has also been signing books at the local distributor, Partners West, so if you’d like a signed copy, chances are good in the Pacific Northwest.
If you go to any of Cheryl Strayed’s events, please be sure to cheer loudly!
Posted by Tegan on Mar 7, 2012 in book world
, Tegan's posts
I’m on a roll, reading-wise. I just finished another great one.
Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt is his account of the year following the sudden death of his daughter, Amy. Amy was 38, healthy, a pediatrician, beloved wife, and the mom of three young children. She died of a rare heart defect on the treadmill at home and was discovered by her eldest children. Roger and his wife Ginny immediately moved in with Harris, Amy’s widower, to help with the kids: Jessie (6), Sammy (4), and James, aka “Bubbies” (1).
This is a deeply personal book, full of specifics. At times, reading it felt like attending the wake of someone I didn’t know (but wished I had). Rosenblatt recounts stories from Amy’s life, perhaps partly as a memory book for Amy’s children, perhaps partly as therapy– a way to bring Amy back to life, at least on the page.
Rosenblatt’s adventures as Boppo the Great (his grandpa title– for which he has even created a silly anthem) are sweet and loving. He savors the joys of parenting young children but also owns up to the absurdity of it. However charming the stories about life with the kiddos is, the grief and pain of his daughter’s loss is always present. His book shows how he, Ginny, Harris, the kids, and countless friends and family who knew and loved Amy will never get over her loss but will get through it.
The fresh rawness of the grief from Amy’s sudden death does seem to heighten Rosenblatt’s appreciation. His wife Ginny’s strength, organization, and tenderness floor him and make him fall in love all over again. His son-in-law’s love and resilience draws them as close as two not-very-verbal men can be. The children’s nanny is a rock of support, a living example of practical love in action. His contractor, who loses a son suddenly, becomes a closer friend as they navigate parental grief together. The grocery store clerk, the dean of the medical school, and the TV personality who express their genuine condolences touch his heart and become even more important to Rosenblatt because they acknowledge his pain.
Boppo is Great, and he shines a light on the community that supports him and his family as they soldier on with each other, and the memories of Amy, to sustain them.
Have you read this book? Or maybe the excerpt that was in The New Yorker? Are you interested in the follow-up, Kayak Morning?
I finished The Boy in the Moon
by Ian Brown. It’s a wallop of a read– painful, smart, and powerful.
“On the bad [days] he stayed with me, hanging on to my arm or lying near me, moaning or wailing or crying. When it snowed too much for him to go outside in his stroller he pitched fits, lying on the floor and slamming his head against it. I know the precise shape of that noise from memory.” – pp. 51-2
The sleepless nights and awful self-beatings that Brown’s son Walker endures were excruciating to read about. Somehow Brown’s intimate, honest accounts of his son’s pain (and the rest of the family’s) made me realize that no matter how hard it was to read about, it must be so much harder to live it. Then he was able to convince me that they should not be pitied. He writes of the fleeting beauty of their life.
“So when Walker does anything to suggest there’s a point to his life besides pain and isolation, it seems particularly brave… If I pay attention long enough and sit still long enough to think about it, if I am daring enough not to scurry along to a more ‘productive’ or distracting activity, the idea of hanging a trinket on a tree, a memory on a branch, an ancient pagan ritual, rises into fresh view again… Walker makes me see the ornament for what it is– better still, for what it could be, what it might be.” — pp. 242-3
The author, a journalist, vacillates between intensely personal reflections/ confessions and intellectual investigations into topics like genetics and group homes in his search to understand his son– and his life as the father to his son. I was more drawn to the intimate writing than the interviews, but I admire the way he tried to find answers to unanswerable questions.
I found Brown’s specificity extremely compelling. He gives such concrete details of his life that I could start to understand what it might be like. His honesty can be almost off-putting at times, but I think his ability to write the unthinkable is what made me trust him.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in stepping outside their own world through well-written nonfiction. Brown’s story is moving, compassionate, and honest.
Have you read this? Anything else you would recommend that might be compared to our book
Posted by Linda on Feb 3, 2012 in book world
, Linda's posts
Our culture makes a big deal about Birthdays! To take a minute to find the person and tell them that we are so very glad they were born! I like to tell people I’m so glad they were born, and I like to remember them on their birthday, but often times the day slips by.
Not today!!! Today I will tell Tegan and you: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TEGAN! Everyone who has met Tegan I’m sure is so glad she was born. She is one of those kind people who has no enemies. She is terrific at what she does, which is an event coordinator, book seller, story reader, tutor, writer, partner, friend, sister, daughter, the list goes on… She has fun interests and can read faster than anyone I know. I really would like to know how many books she read last year. She is the definition of a BOOK LOVER!
I wonder how many books Tegan has read in her lifetime. How many she has re-read and why? I love to get her talking about books, and the people she has met in her world. It is a rich heritage filled with deep thought and interesting characters.
Tegan loves to have a good time and DANCE! She a dances in her kitchen making dinner and is known to be the last one on the dance floor at weddings. Another thing I love about her is she loves costumes. So, in a magical world of books and fairy dust I would love all of you who are reading this to go by her work dressed in a costume today, as part of her birthday celebration! O.K. so that might be hard to pull off, but you might want to.
What costume would you want to wear in and surprise Tegan today? ( leave your idea in the comment box)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TEGAN!!!!
Happy New Year!
Because we both think it’s important to formulate goals and write them down to make them concrete, we’re going public with goals for 2012 for One Brave Thing a Day.
- Grow our platform. Platform is a big publishing buzzword… but essentially what we want to do is make sure that people who weren’t already our friends and family and supporters from the beginning of the project know about One Brave Thing a Day, the website and the manuscript of Linda’s memoir.
That first goal is REALLY big, so we’ll break it down to make it easier to understand and accomplish!
- Publish at least one story from One Brave Thing a Day in a national magazine. Tegan already compiled a list of publications and ideas of anecdotes that will make great articles– now it’s time to get them written and submitted.
- Get more readers online. You can help us with this by forwarding stories from our blog to your friends, sharing things from us on facebook, and dropping www.onebravethingaday.com in casual conversation at workouts, coffee breaks, car pooling, dinner parties… We cover a lot of ground, surely you have lots of places to bring us up?
- Speak out. Linda is asking around for organizations and clubs that might want a guest speaker. Is your group interested in hearing more about One Brave Thing a Day? Training for triathlons? Home funeral planning? Parenting a medically fragile child? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All that excitement will hopefully lead to our biggest goal for 2012:
- GET A DEAL WITH A PUBLISHER! We know the right editor is out there somewhere. We hope we’ll find each other this year.
In the meantime, we’ll keep blogging and tweeting
, keep breathing and moving, keep crying and laughing, and keep writing and editing.
Thank you for your support as we strive to reach our goals in 2012.
What are some of your goals for 2012?
What a year 2011 was! Linda wrote a fantastic wrap-up of her races, so we thought we should do a year-end recap of what happened in our manuscript’s marathon (ultra-marathon) toward publication in 2011.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Title change. Before 2011, we had a different working title. After holiday reflection in late 2010, we both thought it was time for a title that summed up the positive, you-can-do-it message of Linda’s memoir. At a brainstorming session in January 2011, we hit on One Brave Thing a Day. The domain name was available, 1bravething was up for grabs at twitter, and we felt inspired every time we said it. We love our new title, and readers seem to, too.
- Book Doctors call. David Henry Sterry of the Book Doctors followed up with us after November 2010′s Seattle Pitchapalooza. He and wife/co-author Arielle Eckstut provided great enthusiasm and ideas for how to find an agent and get our manuscript published. David also gave us the first professional feedback on our new title, “One Brave Thing a Day– it’s like Oprah, in the best way!”
- Website launch. With help from our brilliant designer Courtney and our tech-savvy husbands, in March we went live with this website, www.onebravethingaday.com. It’s been a real learning process, but as the year went by, we both got more comfortable using photos, making links, and figuring out what to share with the internet several times a week. We love the feedback from readers, and the archives sure make it easier to reflect on the calendar year.
- Our agent. Our first round of queries in 2011 yielded results! Stephanie DeVita of Dystel & Goderich started representing us. This was a huge step: now we had someone in publishing in New York who believed in us. We polished our proposal, and Stephanie made submissions to our first round of editors.
- Our first passes. We heard back from some editors, and while they had positive things to say about our proposal, they didn’t give us an offer.
- Our new agent. Stephanie left Dystel & Goderich to pursue another opportunity in the publishing world, so our proposal was placed in the capable hands of VP Stacey Glick. With her help, we’re getting the word out about One Brave Thing a Day.
- Over 2/3 of our manuscript DONE! There are always revisions to make and I’m hoping our editor (come on, universe!) has some great ideas for us when we finally find one another, but based on our outline, we have over two thirds of what we want to write for this book written. Some trusted folks have even read most of it. It’s shaping up!
- Support and enthusiasm is building. Linda and I have been working hard on brave things related to the book, like submitting to This I Believe, pitching to magazines, handing out our cards, and telling our story. You’ve been helping by talking up our site and giving us such great feedback. THANK YOU!
Do you find that official year-end reflection helps you with big goals?