Upcoming: DC, NoVa, Chicago

My Haverford event was cancelled, sadly, due to snow, which made me very sad. After a couple days lull, however, I am back on the pony cart again. Here’s what’s next:

Tonight, March 9th, come see me at Politics and Prose Bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC. I’ll be doing a panel from 7-8 with Scott Reintgen, author of the YA SF thriller, Nyxia. Signing to follow.

Tomorrow, March 10th, I’ll be participating in a variety of panels and amusing author games at the NoVa Teen Book Fest at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. Click on that link for more details on how to attend.

Sunday, March 11th, come see me at The Book Stall, 811 Elm St, Winnetka, IL, from 2-3:15pm. I’ll be in conversation with teen librarian and SLJ blogger Betsy Bird, followed by Q&A and a signing.

Monday, March 12th: Anderson’s Bookshop Downer’s Grove, 5112 Main St, Downer’s Grove, IL, 7-9pm. Come for a reading, Q&A, and signing.

After that, I’m off to Denver. I’ll update the blog again closer to those events.

Next: Utah!

Hey there, Utah friends! I’m in Salt Lake City now, resting up before a busy day of school visits tomorrow. I’ll also be doing some public events, of course, and I hope you’ll have time to come out and see me.

Tomorow, March 5th, 7-9pm, I’m doing a reading at The King’s English, 1511 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, March 6th, 7-9pm, come see me at Barnes & Noble, University Crossing Plaza, 330 East 1300 South, Orem.

Not in Utah? I’ll be in PA Wednesday night, and then I’m off to DC and VA over the weekend.

In other news, here’s a really nice review from Amal El-Mohtar at NPR Books.

Hello Seattle!

Good morning, darlings!

The last couple days have been a whirlwind of awesome. We had a super fun cake-tastic book launch at Kidsbooks in Vancouver on Tuesday, and then last night I came down to Seattle and did an event with Tamora Pierce and Lish McBride, which was packed to the rafters with rowdy, enthusiastic readers. The signing line was two miles long. As one of the more mildly-famous authors, I was able to get away after signing a mere hundred-thousand books; Tammy may still be signing, for all I know. Has anyone seen her? I haven’t.

Tonight (3/1) I will be in Bellingham, WA, at Village Books for their Lit Live! event at 7pm. Tomorrow (3/2) I’m on a panel called “Total Rebellion” at Emerald City Comic Con at 4pm, followed by a signing at Writers Block Table 3 at 5:15pm. Then my last Seattle-area event will be on Saturday (3/3) at Barnes & Noble Northgate, 6pm – reading, Q&A, and signing.

I just got a really nice review from The Book Smugglers. It’s a little spoilery, but I’m beginning to think that might be a good thing. Tess of the Road is an atypical fantasy novel, and readers’ expectations can sometimes be an obstacle to enjoyment. I know that’s happened to me before, where I go into a book eagerly anticipating one thing and then the book isn’t what I wanted it to be.

I also have a Big Idea post up at John Scalzi’s Whatever, which will give you another angle on the book, where it comes from and what it’s for. Many thanks to John for this opportunity.

All right, well. I promised myself I’d hit the gym before the long haul up to Bellingham, so I’d better get to it. My husband is back home becoming a better fencer while I’m on the road, and I can’t let him get too far ahead of me!

Tomorrow: TESS!

Just a little reminder to all and sundry that our Vancouver launch party is tomorrow evening, 7pm, at Kidsbooks in Kitsilano. I will read, answer questions, and sign books, and there will be cake. Other snacks, too, I mean, but cake is the fa-la-la of foods. It’s how you know you’re having a good time.

And then Wednesday evening – the very next evening! – at 7pm, I will be appearing with the legendary Tamora Pierce and Lish McBride (author of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and other hilarious books) at University Book Store in Seattle.

I just leap from one amazing thing to the next. It’s going to give me whiplash. NICE whiplash, I mean, if there is such a thing.

A big thank-you to everyone who’s made all this possible: my agent, Dan Lazar; my at-large editor, Jim Thomas; my in-house editorial and advocacy squad, Mallory Loehr, Jenna Lettice, and Michelle Nagler; my hard-working publicist, Josh Redlich; the Canadian team, including Lynne Missen, Evan Munday, and Trish Kells; transcendent cover artist, Simon Prades; Phyllis Simon and all her amazing staff at Kidsbooks; my intrepid beta-readers, who helped me out of a hole; and of course my lovely, patient family.


Here’s a family member now, the loveliest, although possibly the least patient. Una says, “Leap after that book! Chase it down, and when you catch it, SHAKE IT SHAKE IT SHAKE IT!”          Photo credit: B. Oser

Nice review roundup

Just a few that have come to my attention:

At The Geekiary: “‘Tess of the Road’ Isn’t Your Usual YA Fare, & That’s Awesome”

A review from Sarah Foil

Another from The Literary Phoenix

And one more at The Fandom

And finally, if you’d love to see my smiling face, an interview with Christopher Paolini

Coming soon: spring, and the TESS tour

I don’t care that it’s below freezing, I’m going to keep on pretending it’s spring. Here, have some crocuses:


Moments later, my dog stepped on them.

Some of you have seen it already, but let me just call your attention to my Appearances page, where the Tess of the Road tour dates are up! Yay! A few dates and times toward the end are still hazy, but it’s mostly all there.

I was hoping I might make it to the Celsius Festival in Spain in July, but it turned out they want me to come in July of 2019. Guess I can’t complain about that! I used to have pretty good Spanish, so this gives me abundant time to refresh my memory.  The Duolingo Owl is really relishing the opportunity to peck at me again.


Young and sporty

So I’ve been having some occasional knee pain. I visited Dr. Google this morning — yes, even Canadians with our lovely healthcare still sometimes put off going to the real doctor. They (I refuse to gender Dr. Google) suggested it was possibly Chondromalacia Patella. That matched up with my symptoms pretty well, and in addition, Dr. Google suggested this was a common injury in “young, sporty women.”

That clinched it. Young and sporty describes me to a T. (I ignored the next sentence about it also occurring in old, arthritic people)

All right, fine, I’m not young. I’m forty-five. But I have been sportier in the last year than in all the other years of my life put together, and I’m engaged in a rather knee-intensive sport, so I’m pretty sure that’s it.

What sport are you sporting, Rachel? you might ask.

Friends, I have taken up fencing, and it is the greatest thing ever. My husband and I took it up together, in fact, because he’d read an article that said the happiest couples are the ones who try new things together. I think we can both attest: stabbing your spouse with an épée is fun and good for you.

This sport requires far more athleticism than I am actually capable of. I’m sort of terrible at it, but as Carla Speed McNeil used to say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” I think that goes double for fencing.

Last night my husband recorded one of my matches. Alas it was one of my losses (the odds were about 50/50) but even so, I present it here for your amusement. No, I’m not embarrassed. I’ve belly-danced in restaurants; I left my shame under a rock somewhere.

I know, it looks nothing like Olympic fencing. Our teacher is almost 80, and he was trained by (possibly) Aramis, Athos, and Porthos. We’re learning the old classical style — no fly-flicking or bounding around like caffeinated squirrels. Which is fine, because I am literally using every athletic bone in my body to produce these magnificently stodgy results.

Oh is it fun, though. Oh does it force your brain and body to work together in ways they don’t usually have to. I know it doesn’t look like it, because you can’t see us thinking (and we’re not doing much feinting in this match), but it’s like full-body action chess. In fact, unexpectedly, I’ve been playing chess with my son recently and I find I’m looking at THAT differently, faking him out over here so I can jab him over there.

There is no sword-fighting in TESS OF THE ROAD, alas — I’d finished writing that book before I took up fencing — but in book 4, the one I’m working on now? Oh hell yes.