Wednesday, April 08, 2009

More Project Book Babe, More Phoenix

I got an education in signing on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, as I tried to keep up with the signature skills of the other panelists, all of whom have much more practice than me at this! Friday night, straight from the airport, Daanon and Michelle (co-organizers of the event along with author Jon Lewis and others of Faith's wonderful friends) took me to Jon's house for dinner and signing and a wee bit of abbreviated *dance practice.* Shannon Hale (one of my very favorite writers!!) met me at the door with Jon's baby girl Lauren on her hip, and gave her to me, and I didn't want to let her go later. (In three days I met three *propaganda babies* of which Lauren was the second. You know what I'm talking about: babies so perfectly adorable and happy and gurgly and smiling that they make the whole baby thing look like a piece of cake? Babies like this are Nature's way of saying, "Go home and make yourself one of these. See how easy is is? Go on, make more people." ha ha!) Also in attendance: Janette Rallison, with whom I share an editor whom she refers to as "the bow-tied one," and Stephenie Meyer, along with her cool assistant Meghan. And of course Jon and his family (including two more beautiful propaganda daughters) and some other event volunteers.
We signed posters. Lots of posters. Like, the posters never stopped coming around the table. I was left sitting there trying to catch up after the other ladies were all done. Now, I'd like to play it cool and pretend like this sort of thing happens to me every day, that I find myself signing posters with Shannon Hale, Janette Rallison, and Stephenie Meyer, but come on, it totally does not, and it was surreal and awesome, and there was a part of me that was constantly reminding myself, "Hey, you're sitting at a table with Shannon Hale, Janette Rallison, and Stephenie Meyer, signing posters. That's so cool." It WAS so cool. I was very happy and leetle beet starstruck :-)
After the posters were finally signed (or so we thought) we practiced our Aretha Franklin back-up dance a few times. Shannon, huge ham that she is, had planned and choreographed this, originally planned as a lip-sync until James Owen (author of Here, There Be Dragons), under the influence (he claims) of cold medication, decided that the best way to get out of dancing would be to sing. That's right, like it would somehow be less embarrassing to belt out an Aretha Franklin song to 800 people than to be part of a line of back-up dancers!

Anyway, that was the night. Much fun. The next day was the BIG EVENT. Stephanie (Perkins) picked me up at my hotel and came with me to experience the backstage madness --
-- squee!

Seriously, this was a Big Event, with burly security guys, walkie-talkie guys, bands setting up equipment, tons of volunteers scurrying around, a "green room" full of food and drinks, and all the mild chaos you can imagine. From the first second, it was fun. Oh, except for one thing. Someone found more posters that had to be signed! Actually, they kept on finding more and more. It was like a gag of some sort, with assorted volunteers continually producing thick stacks of posters in need of signatures. Funny but kind of not. Whew, at last, we finished! Me, signing more posters:

Well, at last the audience was seated and the event got underway, but there were no speakers backstage, so we couldn't hear what was being said on stage. Could barely hear our own cues, let alone Shannon's limerick or any of the jokes. Just thunderous bursts of laughter! I'm still hoping a video will surface that shows the whole night. So far there are only little sniglets on youtube of this or that.

The dance portion of the evening came along, and James Owen belted out Aretha like a champ.

That's Shannon, me, Brandon Mull (author of the very popular Fablehaven series), Janette, and Jon. You can see where Brandon got the timing wrong due to a lack of rehearsing, and broke into freestyle midway through, which was awesome. I'm clearly keeping a close eye on Shannon the whole time, trying to keep up, and still missing crucial steps. Ah, not my forte, the dancing!

Later, there was to be an auction of some high-ticket Stephenie Meyer items, and Shannon coerced Dean Lorey into modeling the Eclipse Prom dress, which he did splendidly, here on the arm of PJ Haarsma:
The Eclipse prom, by the way, was the brainchild of Faith Hochhalter, aka "the book babe." With the release of the book there was a massive prom in Phoenix, and I hear that women and girls (and probably guys too) voyaged from afar -- even other countries -- to attend. This was the dress Stephenie wore to it. Dean Lorey writes the Nightmare Academy books (m.g. fantasy) (as well as Arrested Development!), and PJ Haarsma is the author of the m.g. sci-fi series Softwire, which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed. Both Nightmare Academy and Softwire = great boy books. And Fablehaven too!

Okay, this is getting long. Quickly, now. The author panel was moderated by Jim Blasingame of Arizona State University. He teaches in the English Dept, and his specialty, I gather, is teaching the teaching of writing, which is too cool, and he's very involved in the YA lit world. I believe he edits the ALAN Review, which is the publication of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents, a part of the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), so he's an all-around ally in the cause of spreading the reading of YA literature. There are abundant youtube snippets of the panel, if you go HERE and click around.

Oh, this is fun. To close the event we did an "all-author story" where we each made up a line of a story as we went along:

And that was that. The raffle raised over $10,000, and the auction was tremendous, with (I think) over $24,000 raised in a quick flurry of bidding presided over by Jon, who did a fantastic job. For example: $6500 twice for lunch with Stephenie!!! I think this is a good time for this photo:
Faith has done a lot for Stephenie and her career, and now Stephenie has done an amazing thing for Faith, headlining this event which will remove any financial worries from Faith's recuperation over the coming months, so she can concern herself exclusively with getting well. Isn't this an adorable picture? Book people are pretty freaking awesome.

Here's me and Faith:
And assorted other pictures:

And, me in a sombrero, showing off my new less than sleek belly profile, at almost 6 months pregnant:
(I love my belly. I love being pregnant, especially now that the little one is moving around a lot and I have that constant reassurance of life to offset some of the anxieties. We had another ultrasound yesterday, a lonnng one, a fetal echocardiogram, actually, which made us quite anxious that they thought we needed to have one, but it was purely routine, since the baby had been twice uncooperative in position and they'd not been able to get the views of the heart they needed, they sent us to the perinatal center, where she finally cooperated and we got to see every little bit of her heart, every chamber and valve, including color to show which way the blood was flowing, and we heard every valve separately, etc. Weird and cool, and thankfully, all normal! And that, sadly, will be the last time we see our little girl until around about August, when we'll really see her. WOW!)

* * *

So, that was Project Book Babe. I want to point out here that we're all from the West -- Arizona, Utah, California, and Oregon -- and that there are ideas afoot for an annual West Coast-based charity event, to benefit a different cause each year, with different headliners and in different locations. Really, if this does turn out to be an annual event, it'll be a tough act to follow. It was SO GREAT, and last I heard, had raised over $85,000!!! And that's not including the online auction, which is ongoing and not to be missed. (Silksinger ARC up for bids now; Lips Touch soon!) Hopefully next year I'll have news about another event, benefitting another great cause. And maybe you'll be able to make it!

* * *

Just to get these pictures in and make this post even LONGER, here are Sunday and Monday, when I was hanging out with the fabulous blue-haired Stephanie (Perkins) in Phoenix. How does this sound for a perfect day: big breakfast involving french toast; excellent independent bookstore (Changing Hands); exquisite gelato (Arlecchino, you Phoenix-ites get yourselves there); and the ZOO! Monkeys and lions and sunshine, oh my! Oh, and BBQ for dinner, and to finish things off: Little Dorrit on PBS. Most excellent day.

And Monday we made it to the Desert Botanical Garden where there is currently a spectacular Dale Chihuly exhibit -- he's a famous Washington art glass designer who does fabulous huge glass installations, and this was truly an amazing setting for them: hard to say what was weirder, the man-made sculptures or the nature-made ones. I mean, cacti are STRANGE! In combination, it was a sci-fi landscape:

And zat ees ze end of zees very long post!


Amber Lough said...

Your head must be reeling!

The glass exhibit looks really, really sci-fi. I hope you took in as much as you could and are saving it for scenery in a future novel.

Yay for long ultrasounds. Aren't they awesome?? Just a few more months now until you meet HER. :-)

Jay Asher said...

Thank you for sharing the experience with us. Sounds exhausting...but exhilarating!!!

coppervale said...

Your use of "belted out" might be the most diplomatic phrase in the history of language with regards to what I did to that song.

But the backup dancers were AWESOME.

Stephanie Perkins said...

Whee!! I'm still reeling from all of the weekend goodness. It was so wonderful to SEE you!

But I am confused. Why did you not wear the sombrero to the zoo?? We could have used the shade.

YAAAAY for Project Book Babe! Go bid on Silksinger everyone! It's EVEN BETTER than Blackbringer. (If you can believe it!)

daanon said...

I know Jon hopes to take the show on the road at some point, but future events will be in Phoenix for at least the next few years. I'm shooting for October 2009 or February 2010 for the next one. Faith would like to see Project Book Babe to help other women with breast cancer in situations similar to hers. It was great having you there.

Nerd Goddess said...

That looks like so much fun!

I hope you get out to Utah (how cool would a West Coast Charity Event be?) sometime, because I desperately need to meet you. :)

Q said...

You all are fabulous.

Lexi said...

That looks like the very best of fun times. :)

Southern Princess said...

I so hope that there are more events. It would be a wonderful thing for many people. Not only would I a huge fan get to experience yet again how great you all are, but at the same time support someone in need. It is amazing what you all did. I will be forever touched from this event & I was just a lucky audience member! :)

Tree Rat Girl said...

Now I'm very sad I missed this!! And I live in Phoenix too :( If this is an annual thing, I'm coming next year. It's great you did this for Faith :)

Em said...

What an amazing event! Thanks for posting all the pictures. And you are so cute with your belly. :)

(oh, and yes, I have read the other books in the Study series by Maria V. Snyder...I'm posting reviews of those the next two days)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the Chihuly glass stuff. I live in Canberra in Australia, and we have this big annual flower show, and a few years ago they had all these Chihuly glass pieces incorporated into it - big blue wriggly things coming out of the lake, silver icicles hanging out of trees (in the middle of spring), and those cool enormous bauble things in garden beds and floating in water... Very cool stuff. Looks even weirder next to cacti though...

Glad you had a good time in Phoenix!

Xo, Lauren

tone almhjell said...

Ooh, I love the dance. Haha. Reminds me a lot of CISV camps, in fact, goofy entertainment after an afternoon of rehearsal.

You look amazing with your belly, my dear!

My Pan commented: 'Wow, she really does have pink hair. I thought it was a photoshop trick. How come you don't have pink hair?'

johanna said...

Wowwweeee! You are a superstar! What a crazy and cool fun time. That sombrero picture is my fave, you look gorgeous!

Erin said...

I absolutely love this post! Thanks for sharing all the joy/photos/videos. :)

Amy said...

How fun to read about this event through your POV, Laini. I was there in the audience, and am still in awe of it all. What a great afternoon that was! After seeing how many posters you all signed, I won't look at mine the same away again. :)

An annual event would be awesome!

Kunegond said...

very nice post. thanks for sharing

Jone said...

So glad you made it to the Chihuly exhibit! I saw it last month. This looks like the event went well. Love your baby bump.

Melissa said...

Oh, thanks for the videos! I hadn't seen any of those yet, and I LOVED them.(Laughed and laughed...) Now what you need is to move the whole project east... (either that, or I need to save my pennies so I can go next time!)

Kel said...

Sounds like you had an awesome weekend! I loved seeing the Chihuly sculptures, my family and I just visited the Indianapolis Children's Museum where they have an enormous Chihuly sculpture. Truly something unique to experience.

persnickety_jen said...

What a fabulous event. Faith is truly blessed. And I do hope you guys make this a yearly event for different charities;so many more people could benefit from your generosity and Faith's example. Everybody wins. And I'm sure many fans, like myself, are watching the auctions and hoping to help out in some small way.

Sidenote: The Dale Chihuly exhibit looks amazing! I think I need to take a road trip out west soon!

Dano Brett Sam said...

Thank you for being involved in Project Book Babe so I can now be a fan of Laini Taylor. I tried to read at least one book from every author before I attended the event. However I'm sorry to say I got caught up in all the works of Janette Rallins that I was only half way through Faires of Dreambark when Project Book Babe was under way. I wanted you to know that after meeting you as the reception afterwards, I came home and finised Blackbringer and pictured "Pie" with adorable pink hair. Thanks for being apart of such a fantastic event.
Danylle (UT)