The American Library Association held their midwinter 2011 meeting in San Diego this year. San Diego just happens to be the city in which I currently reside, so it would have been pretty STUPID of me if I hadn’t gone. So, I went!

The awesome editor of my kid’s books, Margaret Miller, scored me a floor badge, which meant I got to stalk the exhibition hall without paying a red cent. Ha! Who’s stupid now?! Even though we’ve done two books together, I hadn’t yet met Margaret in person. As you can see from the photo below, she’s a very serious person and our meeting could be best described in terms of very seriousness. That’s the Bloomsbury gang sign we’re making. It’s a doggy.

Mere moments after I started touring the exhibitions (populated by publishers offering ARCs — advanced reader copies — of their upcoming books, vendors selling everything from library book return bins to elaborate book-scanning robots utilizing vacuum technology to turn pages, and librarian foot-relief products) I ran into super agent Barry Goldblatt. Barry’s not my super agent, but his agency represents several of my friends, and his love of books and writers is always infectious. I asked him which of his clients’ ARCs I should seek, but since they were in such high demand at the conference I managed to collect none of them. NONE! Who’s stupid now? (Me. I should have showed up on Saturday instead of Sunday.)

After I’d seen the entire floor, Editor Margaret and I repaired to an Irish pub for a pleasant chat. I like working with smart, personable, dedicated professionals. Have I mentioned I like working with Margaret? Then, that evening, she very kindly took me and my girlfriend out to a delicious dinner at a place with tiki torches out in front. Greg likes flames. Also present were Bloomsbury’s head of library marketing, Beth Eller, Walker editor Emily Easton, and picture book author Candace Ryan. Really great conversation about books and publishing and writers and writing and suchlike. A lot of fun.

So, that was my first ALA. I hope to go to more of them, even if they’re not conveniently located a mere fifteen minutes from my front door.

Boy at the End of the World ARCs

Got Boy at the End of the World page proofs in the mail yesterday. Frankly, I hate reading my proofs. I am not so infatuated with my own writing that I consider it fun to go over a novel that I’ve already read umpteen times.

However, the package also contained three ARCs (that’s advanced reader copy, for those not in the biz). I love getting ARCs. It’s the first time I get to hold the book in my hands as a book-like form.

New fiction project

This is a fun one. Tim Pratt, Jenn Reese, Heather Shaw, and I have written 26 short-short stories that’ll be published starting next month in Daily Science Fiction. And then a while later they’ll be at PodCastle as a special audio download with the addition of some extra stories.

Tim’s got the skinny on how this project came to be here, and PodCastle’s Dave Thompson talks about his connection to the project here.

This was a really fun thing to work on, and I hope people enjoy reading and hearing these stories.


This is the Bloomsbury & Walker Spring 2011 Books for Young Readers catalog, which gets sent to booksellers and librarians and the people who buy the books that you buy or borrow before you buy or borrow them. I point you to the page featuring The Boy at the End of the World, because I’m a celebrate-every-step-of-the-journey guy when it comes to books.

Well, not every step. I don’t celebrate returns. But if it’s celebratable? Then I’m all over it.

Another soup

In the new book I’m writing, one of the ways wizards work magic is by making soup. To research Norse Code, I battled giants and trolls. For Kid vs. Squid, I got myself swallowed by a fish and ate cheese spray from a can. And to do Boy at the End of the World right, I spent some time as the last human being on Earth and was chased by giant killer death parrots.

For the new one, I made soup. Ham and navy bean soup, to be specific. I don’t know if it’s coming across in the pic, but I want to bathe in this soup and then drink the soup I’m bathing in. Okay, that’s gross. All I’m saying is that this is the best pot of soup I’ve ever made.

Writing and knitting

I like to wear fun socks. And I would like to be able to make my own fun socks. So I’m trying to learn how to knit. I’ve looked at a number of knitting websites and watched a number of how-to videos, and I’ve manged to learn how to make a slipknot and cast-on, but beyond that all I’ve basically been able to manage is masses of hopeless tangles. So this morning I sought out the services of a knitting professional grandmother.

I warned her that I’m kind of an imbecile with poor spatial intelligence, but I don’t think she quite understood the degree to which I was stating the simple truth.

Lisa came along more or less as a lark and not surprisingly got the hang of it more quickly than I did. The knitting professional grandmother remained patient and encouraging with me, but after a while she let slip a few “Well, knitting’s not for everyone” comments.

At the end of the lesson, I yanked the yarn off my needles, thinking when I got home I’d practice some more, starting back at the very first step with the slip knot, but the knitting professional grandmother’s eyes bugged out a bit, and she went a little drill sergeant on me. “Are you QUITTING? Is that how you write your novels?? By QUITTING? Do you get a word wrong and erase your hard drive? Is that what you do, MAGGOT, you QUIT??!!??

Despite the fact that I’m completely making up what she actually said, she had a point.

No, I don’t erase my hard drive. I just work at it and work at it and work at it until I have a scarf or fun socks or a novel. And then once I have my scarf or fun socks or novel, I wave it in the face of naysayers, even if the naysayer is myself.

I also told the knitting shop proprietor that I’m going to knit a SCUBA suit, but that was just me being silly.

Best Job in the World

Today I got to visit with the fourth and fifth graders of Christa McAuliffe Elementary in Oceanside, CA and talk to them about how I wrote Kid vs. Squid and how books get published and what a writer’s life is like. I read them the chapter of the book that considers pee as a remedy for stingray stings, and then I answered a whole bunch of smart and funny questions.

Afterward I headed over to the nearby Barnes and Noble and met more readers and signed books and chatted with fellow author Gretchen Ward (Becka and the Big Bubble) and felt relief as the big stack of Kid vs. Squid copies gradually shrunk to just a handful.

I helped a man pick out a book for his grandson who doesn’t like to read (he ended up with Captain Underpants), talked to a pair of brothers about why drawing in pencil is way better than drawing in crayon, and talked to a budding writer about what a nice guy Eoin Colfer is and about our favorite Harry Potter characters (she went with Luna Lovegood, I went with Snape).

Kid readers are the awesomest, and today I had the best job in the world.

Appearance – Barnes and Noble, Oceanside, Nov. 19

This Friday I get to go down to Christa McAuliffe Elementary school and jabber-jabber at the students. And then I’ll be heading over to the Barnes and Noble in Oceanside for more jabber-jabber and book signing. What’s really cool is that a portion of the proceeds of all sales during the signing go to support McAuliffe’s library. Details below:

Author Event, Children’s Event, Bookfair

Come meet Greg Van Eekhout (Kid vs. Squid) and Gretchen Wendel (Becka and the Big Bubble). There will be fun for all ages and it’s all to support McAuliffe Elementary School Library.
Friday November 19, 2010 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Barnes and Noble
El Camino North Shopping Center, 2615 Vista Way, Oceanside, CA 92054, 760-529-0106