Texas Rocks!!!

Mike, me and the babe just got back from San Antonio, where we had attended the annual TLA (Texas Library Association) conference. It was my first conference/convention EVER and we were all so excited. At least, I was. Mike was being a good sport about playing daddy nanny to the baby for the day that I had to do appearances at the conference, and baby was just happy to be with her parents as usual.

I am STILL working on THE ASHLEYS and it’s getting down to the wire where every night I look at the pages I wrote and rewrote that day and I think, GOD THIS SUCKSS!!! And then a couple of hours later I look at it again, and I think, OKAY, THIS ROCKS!!!! It’s been that kind of book. Which is kind of every book really. I am really looking forward to turning this in so I can relax again for a couple of days.

The TLA conference was my first time trying to do both mothering and my public work, as in I actually had to be somewhere at certain times, while making sure baby was fed and happy. She’s five months now but still exclusively breastfed, which has been very difficult but I am getting through it because she simply REFUSES to take the bottle and hey, we can’t let her starve.

So of course, we were a bit late to my signing at the Hyperion booth, because loading baby, carseat, stroller, diaperbag into the cab and making sure we knew where the convention center was took all morning. Phew! But I did finally get there, in my Marc Jacobs black satin dress and Sigerson Morrisson pointy black flats. I’d bought the dress last year for the Blue Bloods party but ended up being too pregnant to wear it, so I was happy to debut it in San Antonio. It’s very goth-glam so appropriate for a vampire book author I think. I REALLY wanted to wear heels but knowing I was going to carry the baby sometimes made me think twice. I didn’t want to pull a Britney and almost drop the kid just for the sake of wearing platforms! I also had my hair blown out at the lovely salon in our hotel since it has been, oh, THREE months since I had a haircut! And one should look nice for one’s readers, I think. And not show up with dreds in one’s hair. (Yes, it’s gotten tangled again.)

There was actually a long line of people waiting for me to sign their books! Librarians rock!! Texan librarians rock hardest!! Everyone was so nice and friendly and had the best accents. And everyone from Hyperion at the booth was so cool, including my lovely editor Jen, the school/library coordinator Angus (who has a fab accent of his own) and the other fab marketing guys there – RaShan and Scottie. And my fabulous publicist Jenn, who worked on my books at S&S but is now at Hyperion. It was so great to be around New Yorkers again too. I love New Yorkers, I miss them so. They had a bigass poster of Masquerade in the booth and I felt so proud!

Then we headed over to the also fabulous S&S booth and hung out with the sweet girls over there–Jodie and Lisa and all their crew. They had a humunguous poster of ANGELS ON SUNSET BOULEVARD which was awesome. And lots of promo materials for the Au Pairs and the Ashleys book…which made me feel mega guilty since the Ashleys is not done yet and they are already selling it! So I need to go back to work as soon as I finish blogging…

Then after the signings I was making an appearance at a panel for “Ghosts and Vampires: What’s the YA attraction?” with super awesome authors Stephenie Meyer, Amanda Jenkins and Laura Whitcomb. A lot of my readers ask me if I’d read Twilight and I haven’t yet because I didn’t want to read any other vampire books while I was writing Blue Bloods. But Little Brown sent it over and I thought it would be polite to read it if I was going to be on a panel with her so I started reading it–and yes, I love Edward too!! Stephenie is really great, very cool and very girlie too, so it was fun to chat with her. I haven’t read Amanda’s or Laura’s books (both are about ghosts) but they are now on my list.

I feel like I’m in a really good spot now with the Blue Bloods series–the mythology and story are firmly established and I’m not worried about being unduly or unconsciously influenced by other vampire books so I am going to let myself enjoy other vampire books now. Scott Westerfeld’s Peeps is next!

Anyway, there were like, THOUSANDS of people in the auditorium. I was so shocked and pleased, it was so awesome. There were so many people it was an SRO – Standing Room Only event! And I was running late again because we had to feed/change the baby/grab something to eat in the forty minutes after my S&S signing and the panel, and we were running around the convention hall LOOKING for a bathroom with a changing table and could not find any until the very last second! Oof!

But I made it finally, and it was really fun. I have done a couple of panels already, so I kind of know how to do them now–just relax, be yourself, and enjoy yourself. Everytime I get nervous, I clam up and no one has a good time–least of all, me! The Texans were all so fab–they laughed at all my jokes and there was just a good feeling of warmth and love for books all around.

Then I went to the wonderful dinner hosted by YA librarians at a cool Mexican restaurant. I met all these great teen librarians from Austin and there were tons of fab YA authors there, including Cecil Castellucci, who is so full of life and awesome, and whose new book is the Plain Janes, about four girls named Jane, so we are going to do something with my Ashleys since it is about three girls named Ashley. I didn’t get to meet too many of the other authors, although I did see Scott Westerfeld in the next table and was a bit author-struck, and also E. Lockhart came by our table but I didn’t get introduced and I was too shy to say hi. See, when I get shy nothing happens…

And then halfway through the meal my husband called and I could hear the baby SCREAMING in the background. She was hungry, and I had to feed her… sigh. So I had to leave before getting a chance to meet more people. I also spied Rachel Vail, and I love her books too and wanted to say hello. Oh and I met Patricia McCormick who wrote the awesome book SOLD but when I met her I didn’t know she was THAT Patricia McCormick so all we talked about was the rain massage I had gotten back at our hotel. Duh! And I also met Jamie Adoff, who wrote Jimi and Me and now I have to go get his book too.

For the dinner I wore my brandnew J Brand for Ron Herman skinny jeans and my Lotta Stenson silk top with the turquoise beading and a Proenza tanktop underneath and Joseph sleeveless cape-sweater and Giussepe Zanotti jeweled flats.

Then the next day we headed back to LA and traffic on the 405 was TWO HOURS. ALMOST AS LONG AS THE FLIGHT FROM SAN ANTONIO! Ugh! The baby was going ballistic in the backseat and we had to exit the freeway to calm her down. Babies DO NOT like traffic.

The whole experience was pretty difficult–it’s really really hard to be a working mom. Sometimes I just…it’s hard. I feel like quitting. But I’ve worked SO HARD for years to have this career that I love, and doing public readings and panels and signings is the FUN part of being an author, otherwise you’re just at home, writing (which is fun too, but in a totally different way. And sometimes, it really isn’t fun at all. Like when you think your book sucks. Even though it doesn’t.) And at home no one cares if you are wearing Marc Jacobs.

I just need to find the right balance. We’re just kind of muddling through. But it was worth it to be with the baby (there is no question of leaving her) and I am so lucky my husband has his own business and can work on a laptop. And does not mind taking care of the baby for a couple of hours while I work. We were going to bring our nanny, but it didn’t seem necessary for just three days. When we’re in New York for two weeks, we will bring her otherwise neither of us will get any work done.

Anyway, I’m rambling. I should get back to THE ASHLEYS.

And by the way, San Antonio is a really beautiful city. The weather was great, and the RiverWalk is so charming. I HEART San Antonio!