Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Recap of the 2014 YALSA Morris Award Celebrations!

Me, signing books with Carrie Mesrobian.
I'm back from the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, where I received the chance to celebrate being a 2014 YALSA Morris Award finalist, along with Carrie Mesrobian, Evan Roskos, Elizabeth Ross and 2014 Morris Award winner Stephanie Kuehn. Although my job is all about putting words and sentences together, I'm at a loss for how to sufficiently sum up the intensity of this experience.

On Sunday night I had dinner with all the Morris Award finalists, as well as the 2014 Morris Award committee (which included Booklist senior editor and YA horror author Daniel Kraus). We all chatted about books, favorite TV series, Frozen, spirit ectoplasm, and various other entertaining topics, but I still felt like I was in a surreal, can't-quite-completely-process-what's-happening state of mind.

Early Monday morning, my editor, Maggie Lehrman, my publicist, Laura Mihalick, and I headed over to the ALA Youth Media Awards at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where the anticipation was palpable. I've watched webcasts of past Youth Media Awards and knew the announcements entailed loud whoops and gasps of joy from the audience, but actually sitting in the middle of the event blew my mind.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds on the screen.
Eventually, we came to the Morris Award part of the ceremony, and all of the finalists' covers were flashing up on a screen in the front of the room. Titles, author names, and publishers were announced in alphabetical order, according to the authors' last names. My cover came up last, and I remember holding up my phone to take a picture of it, but I don't remember the actual announcement of my title and name, even though I know it happened. It felt sort of like passing out without actually passing out. Stephanie Kuehn's Charm & Strange was announced as the winner, which I loved, because I had just finished reading her book on the long ride across the country. It's a powerful shocker of a novel.

After all of the awards, including the Newbery and Caldecotts, were announced, Maggie whisked me off to the Abrams booth, where I signed copies of In the Shadow of Blackbirds for an hour and hungrily collected advance reading copies of my fellow Amulet Books authors' novels. One book I grabbed was Sarah Skilton's upcoming YA noir, High and Dry, which I read and loved during the plane ride home. 

Maggie and I then headed to YALSA's Morris & Nonfiction Award Program & Presentation, where every winner and finalist gave a short speech. I believe transcripts of all of our speeches will eventually be available at http://www.ala.org/yalsa. Here are some photos from the presentation:

Me, being introduced before my speech.

At the podium! Fellow finalist Evan Roskos is on the far right.

The next and last stop was signing books for the attendees of the presentation. I walked over to my table, and I saw a sight that finally made everything seem right-there-in-the-moment real: the Morris Award finalist seal was attached to every copy of my book.

My eyes welled with tears. I didn't actually lose my composure and ugly cry in front of everyone, but I was most certainly moved. Seeing the jpeg of my cover with the sticker back in December was astounding enough, but to have the actual three-dimensional book in front of me and be able to run my hands over the words on the seal, that's a moment I'll never forget.

YALSA also presented me with a gorgeous plaque:

Thank you YALSA for creating this award, thank you 2014 Morris Award committee for selecting In the Shadow of Blackbirds as a finalist, and thank you Abrams for sending me to Philadelphia so I could partake in this incredible experience. As you can tell from the smile on my face in the photo above, I'm ecstatic!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Where I'll be at ALA Midwinter (Online Viewing Option Included)

The American Library Association graciously invited all of us YALSA Morris Award finalists to the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. I'll be flying in during the evening of Sunday, January 26, and then dining with my fellow nominees, Stephanie Kuehn, Carrie Mesrobian, Evan Roskos, and Elizabeth Ross, as well as the 2014 William C. Morris Award Committee.

If you're also heading to ALA Midwinter, here's where you'll be able to find me on Monday, January 27:

8:00-9:00 am: ALA Youth Media Awards, Convention Center Grand Ballroom A.

9:15-10:15 am: I'll be signing copies of In the Shadow of Blackbirds at Abrams Booth #713.

10:30 am-12:00 pm: YALSA's Morris & Nonfiction Award Program & Presentation, Convention Center, 103B Lecture Hall. (All of the finalists, including myself, will be speaking at this ticketed event.)

For those of you not traveling to Philadelphia for the Midwinter Meeting, a live webcast of the Youth Media Awards will be offered that Monday morning. I don't think you'll actually see me on the webcast; past video footage of the awards ceremonies shows the book covers displayed on a screen while someone announces the finalists and winners. If you do want to catch the ceremony live, please go to http://live.webcastinc.com/ala/2014/live/.

I will most definitely share photos after I'm back and settled!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Two More Interviews

You can catch two more interviews with me today:

Elizabeth Bunce, the inaugural YALSA Morris Award winner, chatted with me about my Morris nomination and my books over at Mirth & Matter.

Debut novelist Lindsay Currie, co-author of Creed (Fall 2014), asked me about my love of ghost tales and other In the Shadow of Blackbirds-related subjects at Scream Queens.

During both interviews, I revealed a few more details about The Cure for Dreaming...as I'm apt to do while I'm eagerly waiting to share that book with the world this year.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Morris Award Celebrations and Interviews

Three weeks from tomorrow I'm boarding a plane and flying to Philadelphia, PA, so I can attend the January 27 Youth Media Awards and speak at YALSA’s Morris & Nonfiction Award Program & Presentation. I'll also be signing copies of In the Shadow of Blackbirds. I'll post the exact times for everything once the author autographing schedule has gone live on the ALA Midwinter Meeting website.

Prior to that trip, some pre-awards celebrations are occurring online. Librarians at YALSA's The Hub are interviewing all five of us 2014 Morris Award finalists, and my interview was published two days ago. I discussed everything from Mary Shelley Black's name to the In the Shadow of Blackbirds scenes involving the broken young war veterans, plus I offered more details about my 2014 release, The Cure for Dreaming (hint: you can now find out how the horrors of Victorian dentistry play a role in the novel). Read the full interview here.

Elizabeth Bunce, the first-ever Morris Award winner, along with other past winners and finalists, is also graciously interviewing the five 2014 finalists. My interview is scheduled to go live Monday, January 13, at Elizabeth's blog, Mirth & Matter.

Finally, YALSA is hosting a 2014 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge. I'm not officially participating, but I'm striving to read all four books by my fellow Morris Award nominees before the awards ceremony. So far, I've completed Elizabeth Ross's Belle Epoque and Carrie Mesrobian's Sex & Violence, both of which are phenomenal.