Belatedly, some pics from my [almost-] last tour stop (as I have one more hometown event this week) in Kansas City. I had been through the airport once on my way to Topeka for a library event, but had never seen KC itself, and it is a lovely city. Here, through the screen of my hotel window (the Raphael, highly recommended): Country Club Plaza, this outdoor shopping district built in the '20s in the Spanish style. It's all tile and towers and fountains, truly lovely, and I was there just a few days before the thousands of Christmas lights were going to be turned on. I bet it's a sight.
First order of business in Kansas City was ...
BBQ. With Gennifer Albin, author of CREWEL (which I have begun to read and is a fascinating dystopian involving girls who weave the tapestry of the world), and her husband Josh, at Oklahoma Joe's, which is in a gas station ...
... and was named, according to Gennifer, one of twelve places to eat before you die by Anthony Bourdain. Josh ordered us a tableful of meats, and of my goodness, it was very delicious.
Hi Gennifer and Josh!
From there it was to Rainy Day Books for a lovely event, and dang it, I don't have any pictures of the event itself! But here I am with Gennifer ...
And below with the owner Vivien Jennings and her partner Roger, really warm people and true bookfolk -- this store is very much the kind of place I was talking about in that blog post a couple of weeks ago. It's not a big space in square footage, but in terms of what Rainy Day provides for Kansas City, it is huge. Their roster of author events is massive, and includes many off-site events for large (and very large) crowds. And the selection of books on display gave me that tingly candy shop feeling that happens in a gorgeous bookstore. You know what I mean :-)
The next morning I did my first ever TV spot, a couple of minutes on Fox 4 Kansas City. I don't have the clip, but I think it went well!
And then I went to a few high schools: Platte County and North Kansas City. I *believe* that in both cases this was the first author event they had had. Thanks to Sherry at B&N Zona Rosa for setting those up!
About school visits. You may not know how this works. It was new to me last year and I'm still no expert. When Little Brown (and, I assume, other publishers) tour a YA author, they like to get us into schools during the day to maximize our exposure on the road, to get in front of our target readers and hopefully begin to build a word-of-mouth fan base. These visits are offered for free to schools, whereas if schools try to book an author on their own, they would likely pay a several thousand dollar honorarium plus travel expenses, so it's a good deal. Nevertheless, publishers still have a hard time finding schools to participate, because their schedules are so full, it's hard for them to fit it in, and in some cases, they lack the will I suppose. The school visits I've done that were successful, invariably the common factor was: a strong librarian who cares. This is critical, and I've met a bunch of amazing high school librarians. YAY LIBRARIANS!
The other piece that seems to be critical is: a local bookseller willing to work as intermediary between the publisher and the schools to set these up. Some of the schools I've been to have expressed astonishment that the publishers have a hard time finding schools for their authors to go to, and to those schools who would love to be "on the list" for visiting authors, I don't know exactly what to counsel: possibly to be in contact with local bookstores to find out who in their area (if anyone) provides this service?
There was never an author event when I was in high school. I would have loved it!
Anyway, a peek out the airplane window over Oregon. I was cursing not having my "real" camera because the phone snap in no way convey the absurd fantasia of the sky these several westward minutes of sunset. It was a surreal landscape of layers and layers of shadow-casting clouds, grey and velvet and rose and, on the horizon, shocking orange. It was like being suspended in water as pigment is stirred from watercolor brushes into it, making big diffuse pools of color. Ah. Well. It was purdy. And now I'm home. Yay!
Thank you Little Brown for a great tour!