Saturday, May 21, 2011

O Canada, The Home and Native Land of...Really Nice People

I am back from Canada, and I am exhausted. I am also super lame, and did not take pictures, so I decided to do a post that is less summary of three jam-packed days of Canadian wonder, and more concise.

Without further adieu, 10 things I learned from my Canadian adventure:

1. Writers don't work the same way, and that's okay. The lovely Lauren Oliver, for example, crams writing into all the nooks and crannies of her day, whether that means a fifteen minute car ride or the ten minutes we waited for middle schoolers to show up at the Toronto Public Library. She also has a daily word goal (1500) and works on two projects at once. I decided to give this "write wherever you are" thing a try. It did not work for me. My "writing mode" switch is much harder to flip on than hers is--and that's all right. I may give the two projects at once thing a shot, though. You have to find the things that work for you-- and while that means you should try new things to see if they work, you don't have to work in a particular way. Whatever gets the words on the page, right?

2. Canadians really are nicer. That doesn't mean ALL Canadians, it just means that proportionally, it seems to be A Thing. For example: in Chicago, when you approach a help desk/concierge desk/business counter of any kind, while people may be polite to you, they expect you to state your business right away. Don't waste time, right? But in Canada, when I marched up to the guy at the hotel desk and said, "Hi, I'm here to check in," he gave me a strange look and said, "Hello ma'am. How are you?" At which point I felt like a jerk. I was much nicer the rest of the trip.

3. Canadians will teach you how to put on their accent if you ask them. Two women at one of the Chapters events (which were amazing!) told me that "out" should rhyme with "boat." A few people also insisted that I didn't have an accent when it is clear that I talk like a Midwesterner. I guess you have to listen closely. Or that's just how flipping nice they are.

4. HarperCollins Canada throws a good tour. We were always well fed. Everyone was punctual. There was a bag of Werther's in the car when we drove places. The hotel was fantastic. I am now spoiled.

5. Cory Beatty (of HC Canada) will, in fact, give you books if you give him donuts. No lie.

6. Chapters (the big bookstore chain in Canada), in addition to being lovely and well-organized with very enthusiastic employees, sells a wide variety of gifts, ranging from chalkboards you stick to your walls to those things you put sugar-water in to trap bees. Who knew that a bookstore could be so versatile?

7. There's a chocolate boutique in Toronto called Moroco that has the best salted caramel macaroons I've ever tasted. Actually, they're the only ones I've ever tasted, but their deliciousness was truly unparalleled. They also had Lauren and me put chocolate handprints on little pieces of canvas so they can hang them up on the wall. I never thought I would be in a position in life in which someone actually wants my chocolate handprint. Lovely.

8. Most Canadian women would choose Dauntless. This is according to my highly unscientific data collection system, also known as...my faulty memory. But really! Every other Canadian woman I talked to said she would choose Dauntless! A country full of badasses? I think yes.

9. Maple syrup counts as a liquid. If you're going to bring it through security at the airport, put it in your "these are my liquids!" baggie, or you will get dirty looks from the woman checking your bags, and she will not believe you when you say, rather stupidly, "I forgot it counted as a liquid." Also, don't accidentally take your tiny scissors to Canada.

10. Sometimes you will be asked to make a paper hat onstage in Canada. Make sure that you remember how to do so. (Okay, that might not apply to everyone, but I should really polish up on my origami skills. Or learn how to sing harmony to "On My Own" so I can contribute to Lauren Oliver's rendition of it. Everyone needs a special talent.)

Anyway. Canadian readers, booksellers, and publishing types--especially Melissa Zilberberg, who took great care of us and was just a lovely person all around, Cory Beatty and Charidy Johnston of HarperCollins Canada, and Melissa, Jeremy, and Lisa of Chapters/Indigo who arranged all the events, Moroco who enveloped us in tasty treats, and Lauren Oliver, who had great advice and conversation and...you know, went on tour with me!--thank you for a wonderful tour!

That said, in the two weeks before I leave for the Dark Days tour, I am going radio silent, which means I will be avoiding the Internet at all costs in order to revise, revise, revise. I will miss you. Tris says hi, though.

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