*warning: this blog post is long, mostly because of tour photos.
I'm a terrible diarist. When I was little, I kept a diary, but never managed more than a handful of entries before giving up. Then trying again. Then stopping again. My problem was that I wrote too much, determined to remember everything that happened after each day, no matter how mundane. And that meant that my entries looked more like little novels than, well, a reasonable diary.
Thankfully, I've become slightly less obsessed with rehashing.
It's been two days since I returned from the Summer of Swoon tour, and I'm feeling more human than I had been on Wednesday when I dragged my suitcase into the house and collapsed on the couch. My fellow Swoon Author, Sandy Hall, once said that after a few days on tour, the stops start to blend together and you forget details. I can understand that now. So I'll do my best to share the highlights of the tour with you, but please refer to my Instagram account for anything else #SummerofSwoon - I'll try not to repeat too many photos that I already posted there.
For those of you who missed it, the Summer of Swoon Tour featured me and three other Swoon Authors Sandy Hall, Katie Van Ark, and Temple West, visiting seven cities (Cincinnati, Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Saratoga Springs, NY, and New Brunswick, NJ) between May 12 and 19.
Tuesday, May 12
Cincinnati: 7 p.m. at Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Wednesday, May 13
Dallas: 2:30 p.m. at the RT Booklovers Convention
Thursday, May 14
San Francisco: 7 p.m. at Books Inc. in Opera Plaza
Friday, May 15
Seattle: 6 p.m. at University Bookstore
Sunday, May 17
Chicago: 2 p.m. at The Book Stall at Chestnut Court
Monday, May 18
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: 6 p.m. at Northshire Bookstore
Tuesday, May 19
East Brunswick N.J.: 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble
DAY 1: CINCINNATI
On May 12th, I woke up as a bundle of nerves, packed the last of my belongings, and went to the airport to catch my flight to Cincinnati. Most authors probably spent their book birthdays at home, getting ready for their book launch parties or just checking the internet for the first book spottings in stores. Me? I was going on a book tour.
This was literally the first time I've ever flown by myself. I've never needed to - whenever I flew, it was always a family trip (unless we're talking about my study abroad trip to England, in which case I flew with my classmates).
My internal compass has been broken since... forever. I was worried about navigating the airports with only my brain for help, haha.
Turns out, my brain is perfectly capable of following the big signs posted everywhere in the airport. YUSSSS.
The plane left on time, especially pleasant because no one was sitting next to me. Katie, Sandy, Temple and I were texting each other the night before, so we let each other know when we arrived at the Cincinnati airport. Katie's flight landed early, but in an extreme twist of luck, Temple, Sandy, and I's planes ALL landed within minutes of each other. So we met at baggage claim, hopped in a cab, and chortled with relief at having found each other after a long day of flying.
I should probably say that we've never met each other in person until now. Did I recognize Temple and Sandy right away, despite that? YES. It was like we'd always been friends. That sounds cliche, but it's completely true. More on my fellow Swoon authors later!
The hotel was strange and gorgeous, with chocolate coins and pillows with George Clooney's face on them. I had to include a picture of the bathroom, because it had a giant print on the wall of hands and lace. VERY strange.
After getting settled in, we met at the hotel restaurant for dinner. I got to meet Katie Van Ark for the first time, as well as my publicist (and our publicist for the trip), Nicole Banholzer. And our editor, Holly West. I ate sea bass drenched in pistachio butter (PISTACHIO BUTTER WHAT) and then we headed over to Joseph-Beth Booksellers for our first event!
Delicious pink cupcakes. Beautiful bookstore with fireplace display for our Swoon Reads books. Cute "autographed copy" stickers to go on our stock signings. To top it all off, I met a fellow Figgie (Figment.com) and got to talk about our stories and the site. So fun!
DAY 2: DALLAS
My photos for Dallas are a little more all over the place. Which makes sense because we weren't just going to Dallas. We were attending the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention! Even though I've been to conventions before, this was my first time at RT. It was awe-inspiring to be surrounded by so many authors and blown-up cover photos of steamy male abs. Abs, abs everywhere. My hotel room was like an oasis, and probably one of my top favorites of the tour:
The chairs were fantastic. I spent my downtime in the chair by the window - with a great view of the noisy trains below. On both Day 1 and Day 2, I was working through nausea. The motion sickness kind. The weird thing is that I normally don't get motion sick. I ride the spinning teacups at Disney like a pro and laugh all the way through the big bad roller coasters in my favorite theme parks. So why now? Probably because my body wasn't used to getting on a plane every day. And I wasn't eating enough of the right foods to combat the nausea. I drank a lot of water and ate carbs like crazy. In the meantime, I plastered a smile on my face and tried not to cover my mouth whenever I saw food (like the buttermilk fried chicken my fellow authors ate for dinner that night, while I suffered through (delicious) mac and cheese).
The nausea meant that I didn't spent much time going to panels during my free time. I went with Temple and Katie to a marketing panel, which was pretty fun, but then retreated to my room until dinner after that. Gah. Here are the beautiful water displays the hotel had, as well as the three books I chose in the magical Pegasus room (A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl, Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan, and Static by L.A. Witt):
More tidbits about the Dallas experience (from left to right, top to bottom):
1. Sandy, Katie, Temple, and I in a super fancy van from the Dallas airport to our hotel. We all look way better than we're feeling after waking up really early that morning, and still going.
2. The lunch I ate in an attempt to quiet my rolling stomach: diet coke, a cup of fruit, and a turkey burger with fig jam. There were no apples or saltines to be found, but this meal was tasty.
3. My little signing table at our Swoon Reads 10 Word Love Story event at RT. Look at that poster of my book cover!
4. Gifts from fellow Swoon Author Jenn P. Nguyen - the cover concepts for her upcoming book, The Way to Game the Walk of Shame, were being voted on during the event, and she came by to say hello and join in on the fun. AND SWEETS. Thank you, Jenn!
The 10 Word Love Story event was packed with activities and people. Both authors and Swoon staff wore matching Swoon Reads t-shirts underneath the light of a giant chandelier. There was a YA triviaa game, voting on 10 Word Love Stories and Jenn's cover concepts, and the signing of our books. I met so many great readers here. One girl came to my table wearing a Riddler dress and Batman scarf; when I found out that she was also watching Gotham, I got so excited that I ended up smudging my hand with my Sharpie as I waved it around, professing my love for the TV series. Two delightful girls (one of them wearing a flower crown) said they'd read my chapbook, Pocket Forest, which was way beyond cool. We talked about how much we love mori girls and even my rolling stomach was forgotten, haha.
One of the hard parts about touring is photos during events. I can't take my own photo... so I must rely on other people taking photos, haha! It's so fun to see them popping up!
DAY 3: SAN FRANCISCO
I have never been to California before, but I seem to have made some great friends from there over the years. But like Florida, California is HUGE, so that meant that meeting my L.A. buddies and readers will have to wait for some other time - became our next destination was San Francisco.
Our hotel had an interesting lobby with white marble, abstract lights, and bubbling green water displays. I could also see the hotel pool from my window!
I had spent the 4 hour plane ride reading and finishing Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (I LOVED IT AHHH), so I was pretty distracted and the ride went quickly. Feeling better but not completely well, I ate spaghetti and meatballs before the event. The family joke about this is that my family's part Italian, so spaghetti and meatballs is an every day occurrence for us - so it should not be ordered at a restaurant under any circumstances.
Obviously, I sent my dad the photo of my dinner with an evil grin. It was exactly what my stomach needed. No more nausea. I felt glorious.
Books Inc. was an adorable bookstore with a drool-worthy display of young adult books. When I was asked about my favorite authors during the event, I mentioned Mervyn Peake - he's not YA, but he's an author who's a huge influence on me and my writing (Peake geek, that's me). I expected no one to know his name, but our media escort Kevin vigorously nodded his head. YAY.
After the Q&A, I ended up talking to a woman who, like me, used to live in NY and moved to Florida for a while - we both shared the same eye-rolling attitude towards the hot Florida weather, though she's certainly escaped it by moving to San Francisco. I also geeked out with one of the Book Inc. employees who's a big Laini Taylor fan too - I strongly urged her to seek out "Gentlemen Send Phantoms" because EPIC short story.
Books Inc. gave us an amazing gift at the end of the night: one YA book of our choosing.
I'm sure you know how hard this decision was.
I ended up picking Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I mean, I knew I'd love the book, but I was holding out for a paperback version since my shelf space at home is so limited. And then the special edition hardback came out. Who needs space, right? Temple pointed out that the Fangirl's colors matched my shoes, purse, shirt... yeah, we matched on so many levels. Is that fate?
Unwilling to ship Fangirl home, I desperately made room for it in my carry on and looked forward to starting it later on the tour.
DAY 4: SEATTLE
Seattle. Now this was the stop I was dying to see. I've watched enough travel shows to believe that Seattle is magical. Also, I'm a huge Owl City fan, and one of the first of his songs I fell in love with was "Hello Seattle." Yeah, I'm linking it:
So of course, when we got there, I listened to "Hello Seattle" probably a hundred times while I unpacked in my hotel room.
Technically speaking, our event was at the University Bookstore in Bellevue. We had some rare free time before the event, so Katie and I went exploring at the Bellevue Arts Museum. So many great exhibits - from robots to water gardens to Madeleine Albright's impressive pin collection. Katie and I also got to leave a Swoon Reads message in sand!
The event was crowded - and we got to answer some great questions from our moderator, YA author Carly Anne West.
In addition to meeting some great book bloggers, the universe demanded that I read Fangirl ASAP. A girl came up to me after the Q&A, insisting that I'm just like Cath. I did not know who Cath was at the time, but now that I HAVE read Fangirl, I have to say that I AM. The anxiety. The fanfic writing. OH MAN. Now where's my Levi?
DAY 5 & 6: CHICAGO
Saturday was basically a travel day for us. The time change from Seattle to Chicago ate up all of our time (it was a wibbly-wobbly experience), so even though we took off in the morning, we arrived in Chicago by dinnertime. We stayed at the hotel airport, dragging our suitcases through O'Hare's endless tunnels onto carpeted hotel territory was strange - and welcome relief from a long flight.
I could see the parking lot from my window - and the planes taking off beyond it. The view was comforting in a way, if only because for two nights, I knew I wouldn't have to wait for pickup downstairs with the other travelers and their suitcases.
Also had a dinner the first night of curried pasta with lentils and spinach. And a lentil burger the next day for lunch. The food was amazing.
For dinner the second night, we ate at the Gaslight Club, a strange restaurant.... yes. Just take a look:
The event at the Book Stall was so much fun - I love that the event took place just a few steps down from the bookstore, in an old, pink dance studio.
By Chicago, Nicole had returned to New York and we were joined by publicity assistant, Brittany Pearlman, who brought a lot of pep and energy to our tired, swoony selves, haha.
I also got to see family for the first time on the tour! My cousin John. I think I got my impeccable taste of glasses frames from him.
DAY 7: SARATOGA SPRINGS
I was born and raised on Long Island before moving to Florida in junior high, so I missed seeing a lot of New York. Saratoga Springs was completely new to me. And it was adorable. Our hotel rooms there were huge and beautiful - and caused Sandy to exclaim, very loudly, when she first opened her door in our hallway.
A sleep machine? Woah. I tried using it, but I couldn't sleep with the noise it made, haha. Irony.
Like Seattle, we had a chunk of free time in which Katie and I went exploring. I took the most photos here. So many things to see (and I wanted that rabbit umbrella sooooo bad):
The Northshire Bookstore was like a wonderland of toys and books. I mean, everywhere I looked, there was a display that hooked me. Including a miniature train display. I love those, as you probably already know from my photos of Epcot's little German village.
We had another great Q&A and signing. Afterwards, my fellow Swoon Sisters and I took some semi-serious photos with the stuffed animals around the bookstore. And then this photo happened:
The fact that Publishers Weekly used this epic photo when mentioning our Summer of Swoon tour is just plain awesome.
DAY 8: NEW BRUNSWICK
The last day of the tour!!! Seriously, if you've made it this far in my blog post, you deserve an award. I know it's a long post... but imagine actually living this tour. It was long. And fun. And surreal. And so many things. Great things.
Just when I was really missing Misty, two therapy dogs showed up on our way to the gate for our New Jersey flight. Couldn't have been better timing! They were adorable:
I hate to say it, but the hotel room was not anything to write home about - it was fine, but my photos picked up the lumpy mattress. By the time you reached this part of my blog post, I don't think you want to see a lumpy mattress.
The turnout at Barnes & Noble was the biggest we'd had - and it was such an exciting end to the Summer of Swoon tour. We got to see Holly West and Lauren Scobell again. And Karole Cozzo!!!! And I got to see family and friends. For the first time on tour, we got asked questions that I could finally answer by saying, "Disney World." Hurrah!
To finish out the night, Holly and Karole joined us in posing Bridesmaids style in front of the cooking section.
The Summer oF SWOON TOUR ENDS
The next morning, I woke early and went to the Newark airport for my flight home.
It was hard to say goodbye to my fellow Swoon Authors: Sandy Hall and her amazing wit that had me laughing way too much; Katie Van Ark and her secret love of house renovation, which made watching HGTV together 100% more fun; and Temple West, with her wicked cool hair and banter - there's no one else I'd have rather shared a book birthday with :)
I'm happy to be back home, and I have a few local events coming up that I'm looking forward to. See you out there!