Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tweens Read 2012!

Howdee, Houston! 

After bidding a fond farewell to my brother and his family (and stealing all their grapes) we left Dallas and hit the road for Houston.
Best photo I could get from the speeding Huh Huh Ruh of a gigantor roadside sculpture of Sam Houston.

This was my first time at the Tweens Read Festival, and something I learned very quickly was that the amazing people at Tweens Read and the Blue Willow Bookshop like authors to sign stuff and then they like to give us stuff.

 Poster I signed. Looks like sumbuddy has access to a laminating machine. LUCKY.

 Delicious cupcake with a tiny edible copy of The Rocky Road Trip on top of it.

 Greg and Raina with their Chronicles of Egg and Drama cupcakes.

 A bottle cozy knitted by a local librarian (CRAZY AWESOME FIBER ARTS REPRESENT!)

And a tee shirt! There may be a sizing issue.
Plus popcorn and tissues and chocolates and a bunch of other goodies. We were some spoiled authors.

I love going to festivals and conferences because it's great to meet readers, but it's a huge bonus to meet other authors. Heather Brewer gave the keynote address.

 Heather, addressing us, keynotedly.

I'd never met Heather or read any of her books, so I didn't know what to expect. I'll be honest--when I see a grown woman wearing a backpack in the shape of a plush bat, my inner pragmatist rolls her eyes because seriously, how much can you actually fit in that thing? I was also a little skeptical because she writes about vampires (bluh) and kept referring to all of us as "her minions" (I am not now nor have I ever been anyone's minion, thank you very much).

But Heather was AMAZING. She talked about how she'd grown up in a teeny tiny town with no money and no prospects, and how everyone in the town hated and bullied her. She took refuge in the school library, but even her beloved school librarian had no hope for her future. She talked about how she used all the pain and the rejection that she'd felt to write books for kids who were going through something similar, and she told all those kids that she believed in them and if she'd just had one person tell her that, she'd have become an author much sooner. By the end of her talk I felt like she could strap a hundred goofy plush stuffed animals on her back and that would be just fine with me (weird and probably a little uncomfortable, but Heather Brewer is fantastic and can do whatever she wants to do). She also badmouthed the Twilight series, so I'm more than willing to give her vampires a shot.

 Everyone listening to Heather going all keynotey.

After Heather's address we all went off to our panels. I was on a panel with Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, and Rachel Renee Russell called Going Graphic.

 R.R.R. and me. ME SO PRETTY!

I love being on panels because it's always interesting to hear how other authors answer the same question:

Kid: If you weren't a cartoonist, what would you be?

Dave: Dead.

Raina: What Dave said.

Rachel: An attorney.

Me: A superhero crimefighter.

And it's also interesting to hear what sorts of questions our readers come up with:

What were you like in high school?

Do you have any pets?

What was the first thing that you ever wrote?

What are your influences?

What is your favorite color?

After we finished our panels we signed tons and tons and tons of books. It was a great festival and a great time.

And now we're packing up and heading back home to chilly Philly! Here's hoping the cat doesn't hate us too much for abandoning her.

Nom nom nom hotel breakfast nom.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


 Mark and I are excited to be in Dallas! Anya has doubts.

I am writing this from my brother's house in a suburb of Dallas. That's Dallas, Texas, mind you, not Dallas, Pennsylvania, which apparently is a place that exists.

 Look, they have an official tee shirt and everything.

Yesterday we got up at the absurd hour of You Really Don't Want To Know O' Clock and made our way to the Philadelphia International Airport to catch an 8:30 flight to Dallas. Everything went surprisingly well, seeing how it was Anya's first time on an airplane.

 Philadelphia, as seen from a moving car at Stupid O' Clock in the morning. Still pretty.

 Anya does a little light reading on the plane.

You kind of expect for Baby's First Plane Trip to be kind of a nightmare, but we discovered quickly that snacks are the cure for the onset of fussiness. It also helped that the guy who was supposed to be sharing a row with us took one look at Anya, grimaced, and asked if it was possible to be moved to another empty seat so that we had the whole row to ourselves. Thanks, cranky guy!

This actually wasn't the cranky guy, this was my friend Jason who happened to be on the same flight as us and willing to make a goofy face for the camera. Thanks, Jason!

But we arrived in Dallas safe and sound and after wrangling the rental carseat into the rental car (this bright red...thing that we have named Huh Huh Ruh) we headed to my brother's house, where wackiness ensued.

 We Ignatows are known for our majestic beauty. We try not to let it go to our heads.

My brother and niece show off their inexhaustible athletic prowess.

My brother's inexhaustible athletic prowess is undone by a sleepy, cuddly baby.

This morning I went to Coppell Middle School West to give a talk and sign some books. The librarian, Rose, was fantastic and we did so much chatting that I never got to take a picture of her. Instead I took a picture of a completely different person using a laminating machine.

 I want my own laminating machine SO BAD. If I had a laminating machine, I'd laminate pretty much everything and all of my friends would get placemats for every occasion. I begged Rose to laminate my Morris Arboretum membership card and she totally did. I told you she was fantastic. Now I want to take it outside and shoot it with a water pistol because I can.

How cool were the folks at Coppell Middle School West? So cool that they had a cake made with the image of The Popularity Papers 4: The Rocky Road Trip of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang on it. Amazing hospitality and fabulous readers.

 "Hold up the cake at an angle so we can see it!" Rose asked before taking this picture, and I was pretty sure that I was going to accidentally dump the whole thing on the girl in front's head. I think that she was a little worried about it as well.

But the cake survived!! And look how pretty it was!

After my visit to Coppell Mark, my brother, Anya, and I went out for real Texas BBQ at a place called Dat's Good BBQ. It was ridiculously delicious.

Anya ate her fill. The kid likes real Texas BBQ.

Tomorrow we head down to Houston for the Tweens Read Festival. I'm really excited to see some of my author friends (Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, Geoff Rodkey, and more) but it's been really wonderful to spend time with my family.

Anya swings with her cousin Sara. They're so cute together that they make my face hurt from all the smiling.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What Makes You Beautiful

These guys have a really impressive amount of hair.

Okay guys, I'm about to go on a RANT. This happens every now and then, and tonight as I was ranting my husband suggested that I put it on the blog because it's a rant that my readers might be interested in.

Earlier today an extremely popular song came on the radio. I'd heard it a few times before, but this was the first time I really listened to it. 

You're insecure
Don't know what for
You're turning heads when you walk through the door
Don't need makeup
To cover up
Being the way that you are is enough

Okay, I thought. That sucks for her that she's all insecure. But sometimes girls are. It's nice that these guys think she looks good without makeup (although if she wants to wear some because she likes that sort of thing, they'll just have to get over it). 

Everyone else in the room can see it
Everyone else but you

I'd feel self-conscious if everyone in a room was all staring at me. Maybe she thinks she has some food on her face or something. 

Baby you light up my world like nobody else
The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed
But when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell
You don't know
Oh Oh
You don't know you're beautiful

So...she thinks she's ugly? 

If only you saw what I can see
You'll understand why I want you so desperately
Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe
You don't know
Oh oh
You don't know you're beautiful
Oh oh
That what makes you beautiful

Wait...what? She's beautiful because she thinks she's a big bag of ugly? WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?

Look, I get it. It's attractive when a girl (or a guy) who doesn't act that they're God's Gift to your eyeballs. But the lads from One Direction (or their songwriter) seem to think that this girl is awesome because she has no confidence and doesn't seem to like herself very much.


But you know what? It happens all the time. Guys will go after girls who don't like themselves very much because it makes them feel great. When a girl is all, "Oh Strong Smart Guy, if it weren't for you I'd still be a pile of hideous, but because you saw something in me I feel great! And I owe it all to you!" Then the guy is a hero, hooray!

To get a little darker, some guys like insecure girls because insecure girls are easier to control.

I'm not particularly insecure. If my partner said, "Hey, Ig, do this thing you don't want to do because I say so," I'd say, "No thank you." But if I were insecure, I might think, What if I don't do it? Maybe he won't like me anymore if I don't do it. Maybe he'll dump me. I'd better do it. And some guys look for girls like that so that they'll always get their way, regardless of how the girl feels or what she wants.


I'm not saying that Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry, and Louis are creepers who seek out girls that hate themselves so that they can control them (yeah, I had to look up their names on Wikipedia because I'm a billion years old). They're probably fine young men who don't give too much thought to what they're actually singing because they're making buckets of money singing it.

But who is listening to this song? The same awesome readers who like my books, and I want them to know that acting dumb, or insecure, or as if you don't like yourself isn't the way into anyone's heart. If you want to be with someone worthwhile, you have to be worthwhile. If you want to be with someone worthless... 

Nana Nana Nana Nana 
Nana Nana Nana Nana
Nana Nana Nana Nana

That part of the song is all right. RANT OVER. It's okay to be beautiful.

I can't even making fun of this, they look awesomely comfortable. If I had one of these outfits I would probably be able to nap standing up, which has always been a goal of mine.