Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

Looking Backward

March 1, 2014    Tags: , , , , ,   

Where to begin?

One month ago today, I was finishing a fantastic visit at Pinewood Elementary School in Eagan and rushing off to the airport.  So much happened between then and now that it all feels chronologically impossible, as though when we finally flew back to Minnesota, we should have been flying back in time as well.

So, working backward, from most recent to least…

On February 25th, I got to do something exceedingly cool: A live online chat with the readers of New Moon Girls.  The magazine reviewed The Books of Elsewhere in their January/February 2014 issue, and the series is up for the Girls’ Choice Book Awards, which is also exceedingly cool.  The girls were bright, funny, and enthusiastic, and the chat went by in a flash.  You can read the full transcript here (and please excuse any fast-typing typos).

On February 21st, I visited St. Mark’s Cathedral School in Shreveport, Louisiana.  The people and the weather were warm and wonderful, and I got to observe a bit of change ringing practice on the cathedral’s massive tower bells.

We spent the weekend of the 26th-27th in New Orleans, where we pastried and coffeed our way around the neighborhoods, and I even got a bit of writing done (as seen here, at my favorite breakfast place on earth).  DSC00069

And, because Mardi Gras is fast approaching, we caught the parade of the Mystic Krewe of Barkus, which, in spite of the rain, made the list of cutest things I’ve ever seen, right between a baby bat wrapped in a washcloth and a porcupine eating a pumpkin.  (Several more photos at my Tumblr, here. For added incentive: This year’s theme was “Dogzilla.”  You know you want to see some more wet dogs in dinosaur suits.)DSC00139

The three weeks before that were spent in Oregon with Ryan’s family.

I don’t generally post the most personal stuff here–or anywhere, really–but this is a big one.

Ryan’s mother, fearless adventurer Sherri West, died on February 12th, four and a half years after her diagnosis with metastatic breast cancer.  She was able to spend most of that time–between bouts of chemo, drug tests, research, and radiation –traveling, exploring, gardening, reuniting with far-flung friends and family; all the things that she loved most.

The entire immediate family was able gather for her last two weeks here.  We spent the days (and some of the nights) telling stories, singing, sharing bourbon and brownies, and at the very end, Sherri was in her own home, encircled by all of us.  It was good to be there.  It is also good to be home.

To the organizers and attendees of events I had to bow out of — in particular, to Vicki Palmquist and everyone at Children’s Literature Network/Books for Breakfast 2014, who were so incredibly kind — and to the librarians and teachers coordinating other events that were nearly rearranged at the last minute, and to the writers in the Twin Cities kids’ lit community who have reached out with notes and help: Thank you for your understanding.  As for the family and friends who’ve supported us, shoveling our driveway, sending messages, making donations in Sherri’s memory… What would we do without you guys? I really don’t want to know.


Recent events, not-so-recent reviews, and one truly awesome map

November 18, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

The last four weeks have been a little crazy: seven school visits, three bookstore events, one book festival, one cross-country road trip, and Halloween in New Orleans.  At Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, I met with lots of wonderful readers (including one with earrings that looked like miniature copies of The Strangers) and got to pet a chicken on its belly.
photo(3)photo 5

At schools in Wisconsin and Louisiana, I answered questions, signed books, led writing workshops, and received hugs and pralines.

In New Orleans, we visited yet another cemetery — Greenwood — and found the Ducoing family tomb, where John Kennedy Toole (A Confederacy of Dunces) is interred.  We also wandered in the Garden District and the Quarter and Audubon park, and bought lots of books and ate lots of pastry and caught beads at a Halloween parade.

IMG_20131102_192712IMG_20131102_171237IMG_20131031_130609Then I returned home to another school visit (here’s a newspaper write-up of this one), rehearsals for The Little Prince, and a middle grade panel at Addendum Books in St. Paul that included me, Brian Farrey (The Vengekeep Prophecies), Lisa Bullard (Turn Left at the Cow), Kurtis Scaletta (The Winter of the Robots), and Anne Ursu (The Real Boy).  I felt lucky just to share a row of stools with these people.

photo 3As long as I’m in the middle of overdue recaps, here are some reviews of The Books of Elsewhere that I missed when they originally appeared:

A recent and very kind writeup on the blog Remembering Wonderland

Great reviews of each book in the series from Common Sense Media

“My Top Ten EPIC Heroes. Or Heroines!” – a list from the Nerdy Book Club blog that puts Olive alongside Harry Potter and Frodo, which is some awfully good company

And now for the Truly Awesome Map.

On Saturday, November 30 — also known as Small Business Saturday — authors all around the country will be joining in Sherman Alexie’s brilliant “Indies First” project (and if you aren’t already familiar, follow the link) by hanging out at local independent bookstores.  As for me, I’ll be back at Addendum Books from 12:00 – 1:00 to chat with customers, recommend books, dust shelves — whatever Katherine and Marcus want me to do.  To help book-shoppers find out what authors will be where–and there are some HUGE names taking part in this!–IndieBound has created this incredible map of participating bookstores all around the country.  I hope that you’ll check out your local bookstores, maybe drop by one or two or more for signed copies and conversation, and show your brick-and-mortar shops some love.


Between travels

April 5, 2013    Tags: , , , ,   

I leave on Sunday morning for the big Endangered Authors II tour, and I’ve just had time to unpack my New Orleans luggage, send the latest revision of Volume Five off to my editor, and get my carefully cleaned coat re-covered with Brom hair.  New Orleans at Easter was lively and lovely and full of amazing hats.  We caught beads at Easter parades, walked the Quarter, took a streetcar to the Garden District, and ate a shameful amount of pastry.

Here, in panoramic West-vision:

J Writing at Croissant D'OrVol. 5 Croissant D'Or               Ryan’s view                                                            My view


Ryan Pere Antoine Alleyphoto(3)Lafayette Cemetery Easter     Pere Antoine Alley            Jackson Square                  Lafayette Cemetery

This year’s Endangered Authors Tour includes the Story Pirates, Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm), Geoff Rodkey (The Chronicles of Egg), and Curtis Jobling (Wereworld)… and me.  I’m excited to be hitting the road with them, seeing new parts of the country (hello, Connecticut!), and meeting young readers.  It looks like all of our events this time will be school visits—in other words, not open to the general public—but we will be signing stock at local bookstores in each location, so if you’re looking for signed copies, check with your indie booksellers!  I’ll post a list of stores where we’ve signed once the tour is complete.  Also, a few last-minute schedule changes/additions are possible — I pre-apologize for any mistakes.

Here we go:

April 8: Alexandria, KY (Campbell County School)

April 9: Atlanta/Decatur, GA (Davis Academy, St. Thomas More School)

April 10: Fairhope, AL (Fairhope Intermediate School, J. Larry Newton School)

April 11: Coral Gables, FL (Carver Middle School)

April 12: Palmetto Bay/Weston, FL (Palmer Trinity School, Gator Run Elementary)

April 14: Stock signing in Houston, TX

April 15: Houston, TX (West University Elementary, Bunker Hill Elementary)

April 16: Austin, TX (Mills Elementary, Kiker Elementary)

April 17: Oak Park, IL (Lincoln Middle School, Cossitt Middle School)

April 18: Oak Park, IL (Heritage Middle School, Hester Junior High School)

April 19: Evanston/Highwood, IL (Lincolnwood School, Oak Terrace School)

April 21: Stock signing in Alexandria, VA/Washington DC

April 22: Alexandria, VA (Hollin Meadows Elementary, Mt. Vernon Community School)

April 23: Milford/Clinton, CT (Meadowside School, Abraham Pierson School)

April 24: Montclair/Glen Ridge, NJ (Charles H. Bullock Elementary, Ridgewood Avenue School)

And THEN I head alone to Palm Beach, Florida for April is for Authors.  On April 26, I’ll be visiting with the kids at Morikami Park Elementary, and on Saturday, April 27, I’ll be speaking, reading, and signing books at Palm Beach Gardens High School for the April is for Authors festival.  This is a free public event, so come down and say hello!  A schedule of author events will be posted on the festival website any day now.

April 28: Come home.  Get covered in dog slobber.  Sleep.











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