The past week has been pretty amazing, courtesy of my first-ever book tour. What started as wanting to do a single book event in my hometown turned into school visits, signings, a bookstore appearance, and more! I spent the first half of last week in Nashville, and then headed east for events in Knoxville and Maryville (where I grew up). And let me tell you, Tennessee rolled out the welcome wagon. :)
Here's just a little bit of what I was up to last week:
Monday 4/13: Flew to Nashville. Spent the day with family (sister, brother, sister-in-law, nephews, and even my uncle and aunt who live in town).
Tuesday 4/14: Visited Nashville Public Library branch to talk to a librarian contact there. Also stopped by Parnassus Books to check it out and introduce myself. (What a beautiful store! Hope I get to do an event there in the future!)
Wednesday 4/15: My first-ever school visit! I spent the morning talking to 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade English classes at Brentwood Academy, a private school in Brentwood, TN. We talked about how a book gets written and published, how to deal with writer's block, what authors inspire me, whether my book will ever be made into a movie…and John Green. Everyone wanted to talk about John Green. :) But in all seriousness, I had so much fun and the kids asked such good questions. Plus, the school librarians put up a nice display in honor of my visit and had me sign their library copies. School visit success!
After I was done at BA, I headed into Downtown Nashville for coffee with two cool local YA writers that I know from Twitter, Ashley Herring Blake and Jeff Zentner. These two both have debut novels coming out in 2016, and I can't wait to get my hands on copies.
Thursday 4/16: My brother, sister-in-law, and the nephews drove me to east Tennessee, where my parents still live. After a quick rest at home, my dad and I headed into Knoxville, where I had a bookstore event at Union Ave Books with Lauren Morrill (Meant to Be & Being Sloane Jacobs). Lauren and I went to high school together, and she has been such an amazing champion of my debut. I was so excited to get to share a night with her and chat about our books, our writing process, and our high school memories! Plus, Lauren brought her adorable 6-month-old along—after admiring him online all this time, it was so fun to see him in person. :)
Friday 4/17: One of the main purposes of my visit: I spent the whole day speaking at my high school, Maryville High School in Maryville, TN! I did four presentations over the course of the day for 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-grade English classes (plus a few students from other classes who were interested in hearing from me). I was pretty nervous about talking for more than 50 minutes at a time (the school is on block scheduling, so class periods are an hour and 20 minutes total!), but when I got into the groove, it went really well. Again, the students asked amazing questions and covered some things I hadn't even thought to include in my formal presentation—so I have tweaks to make for next time. I also had the pleasure of meeting some teens who had already read my book, which was super cool. Several pointed out lines that had resonated with them, or wanted to ask about Hallie et al's life after the book ends. One girl even called herself my first super-fan. So yeah—I now have super-fans. Yay!
Look at all the high schoolers I got to talk to! A little bit intimidating, and a lot amazing. The top left pair was 1st period, the pair below that was 2nd period, the top right pair was 3rd period, and the bottom right was 4th period. The school was selling my book at a discount, so I got to sign a lot of copies. And a few students even stayed after for a reception in the library to chat with me further! By 4pm, I was exhausted—but thrilled with how everything went.
Saturday 4/18: I'd wanted to sleep in on Saturday morning, but with two nephews under three in the house, that didn't happen. So, after some morning playtime and Curious George watching, it was time to head to my local book signing at Vienna Coffee House in Maryville. I was thrilled to see so many of my parents' friends—many of whom have known me since I was really little—show up to get their copies signed! I also sold copies to people who'd read it and wanted to buy more as gifts, or wanted to wait and buy it directly from my hands. So much hometown support for a debut author! I left this event feeling so grateful and happy.
Sunday 4/19: Speaking of grateful, one of the last-minute things that came together for this trip was the Pie Party my parents' church decided to throw in my honor. Look at all that pie! I signed more books, talked about this book and my next one, and got a lot of hugs from people who—you guessed it—have known me since I was only *this* big and always knew I was going to grow up to do great things. I also ate too much pie, and completely spoiled my dinner. :) All in all, it was a lovely end to a lovely, exciting, exhilarating week.
So there you have it! My first book tour is in the bag. And I talked to several teachers and librarians who want me to come visit them in the fall, so hopefully this will be the first of many southern book tours to come!
Now that I'm back in NYC, it's back to the usual routine—which includes major revisions for my next book. More on that later… :)