Getting cupcakes with Jennifer Weiner

Y’all might remember that little ol’ Pioneer Woman signing we attended in May — the one where we stood in line for four hours (four. hours.) to meet Ree Drummond. That was fun, sure, but the whole waiting in line forever thing sort of made me nervous for last night.

Because I asked Spencer to go with me to another signing. And, like last time, it was filled with ladies and hardly a gentleman in sight — all there for Jennifer Weiner! Good sport that he is, Spence agreed to accompany me — and we didn’t have nearly the issues (or the wait) for this one.

I’ve been a huge fan of Weiner’s since the days of Good In Bed, her debut novel — which isn’t exactly what it sounds like, but also sort of is. (You know, what it sounds like.) She’s an incredibly funny, talented writer — and, as it turns out, an incredibly funny and sweet woman. I would expect nothing less from an author I’ve adored for so long! (Her novel Little Earthquakes is also a favorite, and the first book I reviewed here on write meg!)

Spencer and I arrived in Bailey’s Crossroads, Va., and grabbed dinner at a lovely French cafe, La Madeleine. We waltzed into Borders at 7 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. event only to find most of the seats already taken! We secured one chair and grabbed cupcakes, most of which were also gone. That crowd of 150 people, if I had to guess, was hungry! And excited. The room was buzzing with chatter.

Jennifer took to the podium at 7:30 p.m. to the grand applause of the room, and she spoke for almost an hour. If this whole writing-books thing doesn’t work, I’m pretty sure Weiner could have a career as a stand-up comedian. She came across as confident, comfortable, down-to-earth and hilarious, sharing anecdotes about her mother meeting Rosie O’Donnell — and all the antics that ensued. Despite the fact that Jennifer can easily pepper a conversation with statements like, “When I was on ‘The Rachael Ray Show’ . . .,” she seems the opposite of snobby or rude. I loved listening to her share thoughts on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” (love those shows like crack), just as she does on Twitter, and take questions from the audience.

After the Q&A portion, Spencer and I sat down to relax and wait for our turn to meet Jennifer. After a little bit, I was spotted by sharp-eyed Melissa of Chick Lit Central and loved chatting with her! So fun to meet other bloggers, especially when it’s random. Melissa introduced me to author Sarah Pekkanen, too, and I can’t wait to read her book — it’s been on my bookshelves for a while.

Meeting Jennifer was incredibly fun, though I became uncharacteristically nervous as we drew closer in line. Normally chattering like a monkey isn’t an issue for me, but I did get a bit starstruck — until Jennifer smiled and opened up the conversation. I remember her asking me about what I was reading this summer and I froze. I only read about a hundred billion books a year, but wouldn’t you know I couldn’t think of a single book I was reading right now? Besides, you know, hers. (I eventually mentioned Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay, because who isn’t psyched for that?! It’s on my calendar.) She signed my books — I’d brought Good In Bed, my favorite, and my ARC of Fly Away Home — and Spencer snapped some photos for us. (More are available on my Flickr page.)

All in all, another wonderful author experience! As I once heard someone say, authors are the “rock stars” of the literary world — and meeting them is definitely a celebrity experience. I’m so glad Jennifer comes across as fun and warm in person as she does in her novels — all of which I’ll continue to read for a long, long time.

Jennifer Weiner is on her Cupcakes Across America Book Tour now through August. See if she’s coming to a city near you!

That night I met The Pioneer Woman

An hour and a half drive + one hour vacation time from work + 4.5 hours waiting in line = one very, very excited Meg — when she got to meet none other than Ree Drummond, the Internet (and world’s) very own Pioneer Woman!

Yes, friends, I typed 4.5 hours . . . because from approximately 6:15 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., I waited in line with Spencer, World’s Most Patient Boyfriend, in order to get my copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks signed by none other than PW herself.

I knew there’d be a massive crowd at the Borders in Fairfax, Va., just as there have been massive crowds along every stop of PW’s book tour. But did I anticipate hundreds of women and nary a man squished into the bookstore, all of us lined up like cattle (on a ranch!) to meet Ree? And did I think it would take all night to do so?

Nope. But that’s perfectly okay — because we managed to find a parking space just a few blocks away, I got my book signed and was entertained for hours by Lacey and Jennifer, our Line BFFs. We might not have known each other before we got our little tickets for places in line to meet PW, but we definitely knew a bit more about one another’s hopes and dreams after roughly four hours!

Ree was just as smiley, pleasant and sweet as you’d expect — even after meeting and snapping photos with approximately ten billion people last night. By the time we approached her table, she had a collection of little gifts folks had brought and was probably sick to death of having to flash that blindingly (truly, blindingly) white smile at all of us.

As she signed my book and I dumbly tried to think of something scintillating to share, Spencer snapped a few photos of the two of us. Looking up (and probably surprised) to actually see a guy standing there, Ree asked, “And who is this?”

I explained that Spencer, World’s Most Patient Boyfriend, had agreed to accompany me — and that in exchange for making him stand in line with me all night, I’d agreed to make him everything in her cookbook.

“Sounds like a fair trade for a night of waiting!” she said.

I agreed. And I just might start with those famous cinnamon rolls . . . if I can manage not to burn my hands off in the kitchen.

Hard to say.

Knitting Club Book Club ’09

friday_night_knittingApril 23 marks a pretty momentous day for me as a reader — and a social butterfly! I’m going to be hosting the first Borders Book Club at my local bookstore — a place I’ve worked, off and on, for more than two years. This month’s selection is Kate Jacobs’s The Friday Night Knitting Club, a book I just finished reading last week.

As you may have seen, I had some pret-ty strong reactions to it! Well, I’ll be honest: I freaked out after finishing it. If you haven’t yet read it, far be it from me to spoil anything for you . . . because I really did enjoy the book. I was just so flat-out flabbergasted by the ending, it tainted much of the story for me. I’m going to leave out any spoilers here, but I’ll just say, again, that I was a little heartbroken and angry.

So yes! Excellent first book club pick! Definitely a book that incited some emotion and fist-punching from me. But I’ve never led a book club in my life . . . in fact, I’ve never even attended a book club. I’ve read plenty of books about them (see: The Jane Austen Book Club; The Reading Group) but have yet to sit with a group of ladies (or gentlemen) with coffee and plenty of novels piled between us. And, to be honest, I’m worried that no one is going to show up! Our Knitting Club Book Club, as I’ve begun to refer to it, is sponsored by Borders — and folks across the country are all meeting at their individual stores to discuss it. I’m in Southern Maryland and our store is usually pretty busy, but I’m going to be so disappointed if we don’t have any attendees! Especially since I have some conversation topics ready to go.

Well, I think I have some conversation topics ready to go. I’m working on it. The back of my novel has a reader’s guide and several pages of additional information, as does the Borders website. And I love that sort of stuff! I’ve never had an occasion to actually bring any of these points up with anyone else, but I love reading the author interviews and checking out the discussion topics. Usually I get a better understanding of what I supposed to “get” from the book . . . and I use them as catalysts for beginning my book reviews.

bookmarks_i_made So I’m excited! Meeting other book-minded people! Expanding my circle of acquaintances! Getting paid to talk about a good book for a few hours! Seeing my friends from the store! Drinking a latte — something I’ve just been depriving myself of while detoxing from caffeine!

In fact, I’m so overzealous about the Knitting Club Book Club that I’ve actually crafted . . . bookmarks for my fellow clubbers. Yes. In all sorts of colors! I’m a pink girl, but I figured not everyone wants a pink paper bookmark shoved in their novel. And you can’t go to a party and not take home a little favor, right? I dig the bookmarks. I was optimistic and made 18 of them, my lucky number! I’m planning on putting this blog address on the back of them, hoping they’ll come visit write meg!

But now that I’ve successfully rambled my way through this post and shared some bookmark eye candy, I ask of you all: Is there anything that I, a total book club newbie, should know about running a successful book discussion? And if you’ve read The Friday Night Knitting Club, is there any awesome question or talking point you could share with me? I’m totally open to suggestions / thoughts /ranting, and I appreciate any feedback! I really want it to be a successful, fun night.

Musing Mondays: Favorite bookstores

musing_mondays Here’s this week’s question:

How many bookstores do you frequent? Do you have a favourite? If so, which one and what makes it so?

In my hometown, only one bookstore rules: Borders. And considering my past (and contingent) employment there and general love of that store, I’ll tell you that I’m very loyal to our Borders! We do have a smaller Borders Express in a nearby mall and a used bookstore off the highway — and I occasionally go there, sure — but by and large, I’m just at Borders.

I can’t really answer the question without sounding totally biased . . . I mean, the staff is friendly, the store is large and well-stocked, we have great events! I love browsing around, getting a chai tea, catching up with friends and wandering through the fiction and YA sections! I usually swing by the bargain area, too.

Other bookstores I like but rarely make it over to include the Barnes & Noble in Georgetown and Books-A-Million at Arundel Mills in Hanover, Md. Both have really different items, and Books-A-Million has a great clearance section! And hey, I’m all about the good book deals!

Borders deal and holiday book-buying

Christmas is just six days away! If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for a loved one, friend or co-worker, don’t forget to think about buying books for the holidays.

And if you’re a Borders Rewards member, the chain has an awesome promotion running right now — 40% off the list price of any book, valid through Dec. 21. I’ve already grabbed more than a few titles for friends and family, but this is a great deal — especially for anyone in need of a hardcover. They have sales on movies and CDs, too, if you’re in that market. Head out and stock up before Sunday!

I keep wanting to list all of the awesome titles I got as Christmas gifts, but I realize that someone may inadvertantly stumble across my list and ruin the big day for me. I’ll do a post-holiday wrap-up of the awesome new books floating around my house next week.

Happy Friday!

the wait is almost over!

So tonight is the release of Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book in Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling Twilight series. I, like many young (and not-so-young) people all around the world, am eagerly awaiting the moment when that shiny black cover will be placed firmly in hands at just after midnight. But the only catch is, being the bookselling extraordinaire that I am, I’ll actually be selling them tonight.

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn

Much like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which made its debut last July, I’ll be working at my neighborhood store offering trivia, buttons and stickers to the masses. And we’ll be selling those babies at 12:01 a.m. tonight. Our “Night with Bite” is going to be out of control!

These are the moments I live for at my part-time job — and I know precisely why. It’s the only bit of theatrical craziness I still get to experience, blocking out my typical-to-mind-numbing 9 to 5 job. This is my “fun” job. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of my jobs, but working at the bookstore on “event nights” allows me to relive a bit of the drama (the stage kind) that I once lived for. I was certainly the Thespian in high school.

So I’m sure I’ll have plenty of pics to come… after I manage to get some sleep tonight. We get off work around 2 a.m., and then I’ll be up late reading. Of course!