Stars for Labyrinth and TLA

It's been a good two weeks for Battle of the Labyrinth, especially considering the book isn't out yet. Last week it received a starred pre-review in Kirkus. This week it received another starred review in Publishers Weekly. This is so reassuring to me, because no matter how many books I write, I always get the jitters before pub date. Is it any good? Will anyone like it? Two reviews like this help calm me down a little bit -- maybe the book is okay after all. In twenty more days, you'll be able to decide for yourself!

I'm writing from the Texas Library Association meeting in Dallas. Yesterday I had the honor of moderating a stellar panel featuring John Flanagan (Ranger's Apprentice), Suzanne Collins (Gregor the Overlander), Cinda Williams Chima (The Warrior Heir), Jacqueline Kolosov (The Red Queen's Daughter), and Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty). The room was packed with librarians, as you might imagine. My favorite comments: Libba Bray described her series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer goes Victorian. Suzanne Collins told us how she grew up on war movies (Patton) and trips to battlefields (Waterloo for her fourteenth birthday) which inspired the war story of Gregor. John, who has been in the States two weeks now and on a grueling tour, poor guy, said he felt like a broccoli among the roses because he was so tired and everyone was being witty, but he certainly held his own. He told us that his ranger Halt was based on his sixth grade teacher -- now there's an example of how one teacher can change a life! The audience was very receptive, and the gift bags at the end were nice, too, though I always smile at the 'welcome to Texas' souvenirs that they contain. I guess most authors aren't from here, but being a native Texan, I look inside and think, 'wow, chips and salsa. Never seen that before!' But hey, I'm not complaining. They also gave chocolate, so it's all good. Last night, I attended a party (thanks Sylvia and Rose) and then the Hyperion Books for Children folks all went out for dinner. At long last I got to meet Gordon Korman, whose books I admire. Gordon has written the second book in the 39 Clues series, and I'm anxious to read it! It's always great to catch up with the Hyperion staff and see what's going on in the offices.

Today I'll be doing a signing at the conference and then heading home for the evening, then right back on a plane for Portland Thursday morning. And this is 'down time' compared to May! I'll send more reports from the road. Happy reading!