Kentucky Fried Lyga

Last week, I was honored to attend the Kentucky Library Association/Kentucky Association of School Librarians annual conference in Louisville, where I was presented with the Kentucky Bluegrass Award for I Hunt Killers. The award was great, the ceremony was great, the librarians were great, but even before all of that, I spent a few days in Northern Kentucky (so far north, the natives call it “Southern Ohio”), where I visited a bookstore, two schools, and a library.

Blue Marble BooksFirst up was Blue Marble Books, pretty much as soon as I got off the plane! A quick stop at the hotel and then I was at Blue Marble, where I talked about I Hunt Killers and After the Red Rain and answered questions and signed books and admired some appropriately bloody cookies.Deadly cookies

Goodnight Moon roomBlue Marble has a very cool room modeled after the classic Goodnight, Moon. Apparently every single item in the room comes from the book. That’s attention to detail!

Library display at Campbell County HighThe next day, I spent the day at Campbell County High School. I spoke to the entire senior class, then the entire junior class, then spent some time with a small group of about a dozen kids who were aspiring writers. In every case, I had a blast. The big groups were incredibly enthusiastic, and the kids in the small, focused group had some terrific questions. It was a lot of fun.

Newport Branch newsletterThat night, I spoke at the Newport branch of the Campbell County Public Library, where a twelve-year-old girl asked the most incredible, mechanical question about paragraph transition. I almost never get technical questions at these things — people always want to know big picture stuff. I was amazed and impressed that this kid was so deep into writing already, and I blurted out, “You’re kick-ass!” Her father was sitting right next to her. Fortunately, he laughed.

The next day, I awoke at the ungodly hour of 5:45am (seriously, even the sun was asleep) to make the trip to Boone County High School. Again, I spoke to two large groups (this time mixes of all four grade levels), then hung out with a smaller group in the library. This group had had to produce pieces of art inspired by I Hunt Killers, so I got toMe w/kids from Boone County High see some cool artwork and listen to some very, very gruesome poetry! They were a great bunch and we had a lot of fun.

That afternoon, I traveled to Louisville, where I had dinner with a group of librarians. The following day, I attended the KASL award luncheon, where I was formally given the Kentucky Bluegrass Award. I gave a talk on why I write what I write and why I take the risks I take, a talk made more amusing than it deserved to be when we discovered the projector was showing my presentation upside down!

As the luncheon wended towards its end, I was called to the podium again, much to my surprise. This time, I was presented with a certificate from the Governor of Kentucky, naming me a Kentucky Colonel.1 Now I’m in the same club as George Clooney, Muhammed Ali, Betty White, and Elvis Presley. How cool is that?

Needless to say, I was quite surprised — I didn’t expect two honors in the same day!

It was humbling to receive both awards, but I have to admit I have a special place in my heart for the commission from the Governor, mainly because now I insist all my friends call me “Colonel.”

Kentucky Colonel certificate

Thanks, Kentucky!

  1. Yes, just like Colonel Sanders. Read the link.

Visiting Chicago

A couple of weeks ago, I visited suburban Chicago (Burr Ridge, to be precise), to visit a couple of schools and also participate in the closing of the 9th Annual Write-On Literary Festival.

I began the morning at Hinsdale South High School, where the main topic of conversation was — surprise! — I Hunt Killers, along with my list of Disturbing Serial Killer Facts that I like to trot out at such events. (I always get a kick out of picturing dinnertime conversation that night at the kids’ houses.) It was a good time, especially when the school librarian introduced me to the kid who approached in a crowded hall and shouted, “Hey, do you have Boy Toy?” (Remind yourself that italics don’t come across in conversation and you’ll understand why the librarian hurriedly said — very loudly — “Why, yes, the library does have a copy of the novel titled Boy Toy.”)

Then I headed to Burr Ridge Middle School, which was a treat. I don’t go to a lot of middle schools because most of my books aren’t really aimed at that age range (something that will change soon, he said mysteriously…). The kids there did an absolutely wonderful job decorating the library for me. Check this out:

Isn’t that some gorgeous artwork? I had so much fun there, talking about Archvillain and The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl. This also happened:

Some of the kids made their own superhero masks, too, and then let me stand amid them like a Kirby character, arms outstretched.

Me with my minions.

That night, I headed off to Indian Prairie Public Library to speak at the Cool Compositions ceremony for the Write-On event. After my little spiel, I was honored to get the chance to hand out nine awards (three awards in categories for short stories, poetry, and comic books), generously donated by the Gift of Carl (who also sponsored my trip in the first place).

All in all, it was a terrific trip, with lots of variety and some great, cool kids. Thanks to everyone at IPPL, Burr Ridge Middle, Hinsdale South High, and Gift of Carl for making it possible!

Cavalcade of Authors!

Back in March, I attended the Cavalcade of Authors in Richland, WA. Lots of fun! Here are some pictures.

School Visit: Maine South

I recently hied me to the Windy City and spoke to the students at Maine South high school. It was a lot of fun (even if a severely delayed flight the night before had me sleep-deprived!) and the kids were great. Check out the photos below. (Thanks to Linda Ryan and the rest of the staff at Maine South for being such great hosts!)

Jonesboro and Me

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be in Jonesboro, Ark. I say “fortunate” for a number of reasons.

I was in Jonesboro at the invitation of the local public library system, embodied in this instance by Nina Darley, teen librarian and transplanted Brit.1 Nina asked me down to Jonesboro nearly a year ago, and the day had finally come. [Read more…]

  1. Yes, it’s hilarious to hear her British accent among the Southern ones.