Autograph Ninja: Book Edition

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It’s no secret that I love a good autograph (see The Autograph Ninja and The Autograph Ninja Strikes Again). I’ve collected signatures from actors, musicians, and authors over the years and apparently my friends have noticed. Most of the recent autographs I’ve acquired have been gifts and that makes them all the more special to me.

Last Christmas, a co-worker was my Secret Santa. She got me hooked on Outlander by giving me the first book in the series a few months before. I loved it and couldn’t wait to read the next book. I almost died when I opened my Christmas gift – it was a signed copy of Dragonfly in Amber. The funny thing is, I was her Secret Santa, too. I got her an Outlander coloring book!

 

One of the most sentimental autographs I’ve ever received came from a dear friend that passed away a few years ago. We shared a love of the Maisie Dobbs series and often read the newest release together. The last Christmas gift he gave me was signed copy of a title I was missing in my collection of the series, Pardonable Lies, (I borrowed it from him originally). It remains one of my most precious memories of him.

The same friend also gave me a signed copy of Hide Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver. He was a huge fan of Kingsolver and was pretty determined to convince me to read everything she’s ever written (I’m working on it!). He gave it to me shortly before he passed away. I like to think he knew I’d take care of it for him. He was right. I will.

Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to come across autographs on my own. I love how Barnes & Noble started offering signed editions of books around the holidays. I treated myself to a signed copy of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I love her series, The Lunar Chronicles, so it was so exciting to snag a signed copy of her most recent novel.

The last and most recent autographs were gained the old fashioned way – I went to Phoenix Comicon and waited in line! The book is Q-Squared by Peter David. I bought it 23 years ago (with my first ever paycheck!) and always hoped I’d get Peter David to sign it as he is one of my favorite sci-fi writers. It turns out he was scheduled to be at Phoenix Comicon, along with the actor who plays Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I decided to have my book signed by both.

I struck gold with John de Lancie (Q). He turned out to be a pretty cool guy with a serious love of history. Once he found out I was a history teacher, we had a nice chat about books to read and the general scope of historical events.

Unfortunately, Peter David had to leave Comicon early due to a family emergency, but he did leave behind index cards with his autograph for fans to pick up. It’s too bad the autograph isn’t directly on my book, but I’ll take it nonetheless – it’s still his autograph!

While it’s always more fun to get autographs by meeting an author, it’s incredibly special to receive them as gifts as well. In many ways, a gifted autograph takes on all the more meaning as it came from someone who cared enough to give it to me.

 

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c.b.w. 2017

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The Autograph Ninja Strikes Again!

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As an Autograph Ninja, it’s important to have a pen and something to sign on my person at all times, (see The Autograph Ninja).  So, when I went to see two of my favorite singer/songwriters in concert last week, I took extra care to pack a good marker and a special item to sign.

Marcus Foster has an incredibly soulful voice that soars with his blues infused brand of folk. When I went to London last summer I was hoping to catch him live, but instead had to settle for an EP album that isn’t available in the States.  Imagine my excitement when I found out he was going on a U.S. tour that included a stop in Arizona!

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Foster’s opening act turned out to be an artist I’ve had on my iPod for the last year, (and just love!).  Sam Bradley croons with a crystal clear voice, giving his lyrics incredible emotional depth. I only have a few of his songs, but I’m looking forward to many more.

Both Bradley and Foster put an a great show!  Sometimes the best concerts are those where its just a guy and his guitar.  The voice takes center stage and reaches right into the soul.

Sam Bradley (c.b.w. 2012)

Marcus Foster, (c.b.w. 2012)

One of the best things about a small venue is that the artists are often milling about before and after a show.  The Autograph Ninja takes full advantage of these situations by keeping watch on the bar.  I spotted Marcus Foster before his set and managed to get a little one on one time with him.  Before heading backstage, he was kind enough to sign the CD I bought in London.

After the concert, both Marcus and Sam manned the merchandise table.   In between selling CDs and t-shirts, they signed autographs, posed for pictures, and gave hugs. I was one of the first in line to buy new music and get my CDs signed by both.  Marcus took my ninja marker, but I figured he needed it more than I did!  I got my picture with both and received a couple hugs as well.   These guys are so friendly, genuine, and gracious to their fans.  Before I walked away, both were adamant about saying, “thank you.”  I wish them so much luck for future success.

Top Left: Marcus Foster, Right: Sam Bradley, Poster: Marcus Foster

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If you’d like to hear why I love these guys so much click on each name above for direct links to their official sites. In addition, you can visit these links to listen to samples of their music on amazon.com.

Marcus Foster

Sam Bradely

For the record, Foster’s “The Room” and “Movement” are among my favorite of his songs.

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c.b. 2012

The Autograph Ninja

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In A Nice Surprise, I stated that I have a knack for getting autographs and it got me thinking about all the signatures I’ve collected over the years.  A friend recently called me a “ninja” and I think she might be right, especially after receiving the latest addition to my collection.

My collection includes a variety of autographs, but not all come from household names. Like everything else I collect (books, rocks, etc), every signature means something to me on one level or another. Gathering autographs is all about connecting to people who have inspired me or have had a positive influence in my life.  They are all attached to memories, beautiful moments, and sometimes life-altering experiences.

It wasn’t easy to find all my autographs, but I did manage to locate the vast majority.  Many autographs are personalized to me, so in order to safeguard my identity I’ve blotted out my real name.  Sorry about the fuzzy areas, but it had to be done!   To save space, a number of photos have been made into thumbnails, but one click will enlarge them to full size.

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This week, I hit what I consider to be the mother lode of autographs because I never thought I could get Stephanie Meyer to sign my books.  She is rather reclusive and her fame is a bit out of my league.  However, through a brilliant stroke of luck I found myself in contact with a link in a chain that lead directly to her.  I sent my Twilight series and The Host down the chain and hoped for the best.  In just a few days, my books came back to me signed!

  

 

Along with the books, I sent a letter to thank her for the pivotal, even if inadvertent, role she played in the completion of my novel.  After failing three times to get a first draft off the ground, I was ready to give up.  I needed a kick in the butt and my mother gave it to me through an aptly timed phone call.  After reading an article on Meyer in the local newspaper, she told me, “If Stephanie Meyer can do it, so can you.”  In a strange twist of fate, that phone call came just as I was about to leave to catch the Twilight movie on opening night.   The next day I started writing my novel (again) and didn’t stop until I finished it.  While I have a village of people to thank for supporting me during the writing process, my mother and Stephanie Meyer both helped to wake up my muse.  Needless to say, these autographs mean the world to me.

Keeping with Twilight, I’ve also stumbled upon a couple more signatures related to the series. Peter Facinelli (left) came to me through a set of collector’s cards for the first Twilight movie.  The autograph was included in a collector edition binder I got through amazon.com (before the craze went haywire).  As for Justin Chon (right), I met him at a Twilight event a week before Eclipse opened in theaters. Both were dumb luck!

 

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During a trip to China, I had the honor of meeting Yu Hua, an author who writes novels that deal with the Cultural Revolution and Chinese culture, (most notably To Live and Chronicles of a Blood Merchant).  His stories are intense journeys in to the human experience and explore complex emotions within families and friendships. In Beijing, I got the rare opportunity to hear him speak in a small group setting.  For two hours, he discussed his writing process, the challenges of writing in a country that censors everything with great scrutiny, and the power of words and creativity.  When I see his autograph, it reminds me how lucky I am to be a writer who has the freedom to write without penalty or restriction.  Despite the obstacles he often faces, he is a true example of how writing can set the soul free.

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Back in 2007, I attended The Office Convention in Scranton, PA.  The stars seemed to align during the whole weekend as I found myself almost constantly in the company of cast members, writers, and producers.  While a fan’s ultimate dream, the convention and the people I encountered had life-altering effects that still impact me today.  Throughout Seasons 3 and 4, I wrote a series of posts on The Office message boards that analyzed each episode and a friend of mine brought them to the attention of one of the producers.  He liked what I wrote so much, he personally presented me with a cast-signed Season 3 DVD set.   Furthermore, he invited me for a one-on-one encounter with the writers of the show.  For close to an hour, I got to rub elbows with some of the most creative and amazing writers in the industry.  During this event, the same producer introduced me as a writer.  It was the first time anyone had ever given me that distinction and it changed my life.  Every time I sit down to write, I try to live up to the title of “Writer.”

The Office is a big reason why I started writing after a very long dry spell, so these autographs serve as a monument not only to fandom, but also as a constant reminder that I must keep writing.  One day I hope to send a published copy of my novel to the producer who gave me such a wonderful gift.

1.Steve Carell 2.Leslie David Baker* 3.Mindy Kaling* 4.Rainn Wilson 5.Oscar Nunez* 6.Paul Lieberstein 7.Brian Baumgartner 8.John Krasinski 9.Angela Kinsey* 10.Jenna Fischer 11.Kate Flannery* 12.B.J. Novak* 13.Ed Helms* 14. Phyllis Smith* 15.Creed Bratton*

*I got a second personalized autograph from these cast members when I met them at the convention.

In addition, many of the writers, other producers, supporting actors, and even the creators of the show were kind enough to sign my autograph scrapbook.

   

Left to right: Gene Stupnitsky, Justin Spitzer and Mindy Kaling / Bobby Ray Shafer / Kent Zbornak / Andy Buckley

  

Left to Right: Craig Robinson / Michael Schur / Greg Daniels, Lester Lewis

When I got home from the convention, I had another little surprise waiting for me in the mailbox.  Jenna Fischer answered my letter and returned an item I asked her to autograph.

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There’s even more after the jump . . .

Continue reading

A Nice Surprise

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When I launched my blog, I never expected to receive such a warm embrace from fellow bloggers and readers.  I am so thankful to have connected to so many amazing writers and kind individuals. As if that wasn’t enough, I woke up yesterday morning to find I’ve been given a couple blog awards. How cool is that?

     

Thanks so much to Kristen Fairgrieve  for considering my blog for such lovely awards.  I’ve never been shy about how much I love her encouraging and heartfelt blog.  If you haven’t already visited her site, please give her a click. She’s sure to make you smile with her Wish Jar and Fun Bunny Fridays.

As per award stipulations, here are seven random facts about me:

1) I’ve been completely lost in several major international cities: London, Edinburgh, Paris, Rome, and Beijing.  A good old-fashioned compass helped me find my way out of the maze every time.  I still take it with me on every trip. Hmmmm . . . this gives me an idea for a future blog post.

2) I swam with sharks in French Polynesia and I still think its the most incredible thing I’ve ever done.

3) I am terrified of snakes.

4) I can’t cook to save my life, but I love to bake (cookies, cakes, brownies, etc).

5) My favorite fields of historical study are Ancient Egypt (the Amarna Period in particular) and China’s Cultural Revolution.

6) I am a film and TV nut.  I watch one or the other every day.

7) I have a knack for getting autographs.  Whether it be musicians, actors, writers, etc. I always seem to find a way to get their signatures if I really try.  My prize is a Season 3 DVD set signed by the entire cast of  The Office (U.S. version).  Hmmm . . . yet another idea for a future post.  It’s a good story!

Now for five bloggers who also deserve the recognition of these blog awards:

1) I’ve given praise to this blog before and I have no problem doing it again.  Random Acts of Writing [+ art] is a truly inspiring blog that combines art with literary quotes and an inspiring outlook on life.

2) The Crowing Crone is a fantastic site that offers beautiful poetry and insightful posts about life and the little things that matter most.

3) I always learn something from reading a post on TBN Ranch.  Whether it be Western/folk poetry, posts about raising chickens, essays on every day life, or lessons on how to care for horses, this blog offers a unique perspective on just about everything.

4) Bonnie James ~ Unbound is one of the most uplifting sites and among the first I visited after launching on wordpress.  She is a true inspiration for creativity, writing, and always sees the beauty in life.

5) Wendy L. Young delivers all the details of what is like to be a writer from the stage of piecing together a rough draft to the accomplishment of publishing a novel.  She is honest, funny, and a very talented writer.  I highly recommend her book, Come the Shadows if you are a mystery fan.

Maybe I’m cheating a little here, but I can’t narrow it down to just five so here is an honorable mention:

Doodlemum is an amazing artist that shares drawings from her sketchbook.  I find her work to be whimsical, soulful, and joyous as she captures the beauty of daily life like no other.

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In order to pick up the awards, you must do the following:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominates you.
  • Share seven random facts about yourself.
  • Pass the award to five more blogger friends.
  • Contact and congratulate the blogs nominated.

Thanks to all these wonderful bloggers for continuing to inspire not only me, but those lucky enough to find you.

c.b. 2011