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Showing posts from October, 2009

BOOKS WITH FLAIR: Personalized Kid/YA Gifts

Note: BOOKS WITH FLAIR is up and running since I first posted this. Check it out!

Kid/YA Authors and illustrators! If your local independent bookseller carries your traditionally published books, ask if they'll gift-wrap and ship personalized copies as presents.

Here's my idea: if they agree, we'll list our books by suggested age and genre. Customers will call in (and pay for) an order to the bookstore along with the request for a signed and/or personalized copy. Bookstores will either send signed stock or, if we're open to personalizing, will let us know about orders so we can scoot over there and inscribe to particular young readers by name before they gift wrap and ship the books.

Find out more here. I'm open to ideas!

Straight Talk on Tough Times For Writers

A trio of agents were tweeting yesterday about how tough it's been to find a market for a good story. I chimed in (of course) to ask Colleen Lindsay, Elana Roth, and Lauren Macleod a few questions.

I thought it might be helpful to share their answers here, along with some input from Nancy Mercado, executive editor of Roaring Brook Press, and few other authors as well (my tweets are in red, and I edited the conversation slightly to make it more blog-friendly).

It all started with Colleen sharing a link to a blog post from another agent ...

Colleen: Agent Kristin Nelson with a harsh reality of today's market. Books that would have sold in about two weeks last year are being lovingly rejected right and left. It is un-fun.

Elana: I'm getting those same responses on things that would have easily sold a year ago. Ain't it grand?

We want to hear about the exceptions, too. Tell us about new books that are encouraging risky business.

Elana: I don't know. I've passed some of…

Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

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Unlike some ethnic book awards, the Rivera Award doesn't depend on the race of the author. It's given annually "to the author/illustrator of the most distinguished book for children and young adults that authentically reflects the lives and experiences of Mexican Americans in the United States."

This year, two books tied for the top honor (descriptions quoted verbatim from the official Rivera Award site):

The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans
by Carmen Tafolla

In this wonderfully creative collection of sixteen short stories, Tafolla brings to life the bilingual/bicultural world of the Texas-Mexico border. As in her previous works, Tafolla celebrates the resilient human spirit of her characters amidst the prejudice and hypocrisy, the faith and magic, and the family, and community that are part of this world. The stories are poignant, even tragic, and they are funny, filled with humor. Tafolla’s energy is felt throughout. As Carmen herself says, “ It’s about those things t…

Mitali of Orchard House

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What is it about dead authors' desks that I love? A highlight of my trip to France a few years ago was seeing firsthand where Victor Hugo stood to write, overlooking an archetypal Parisian square.

And some of you might remember my trek to Green Gables last summer, where I delved into all things L.M. Montgomery, relishing the view from the room where she wrote. (THE BLYTHES ARE QUOTED, her last book about Anne, releases today, by the way.)

Today I took my beloved visiting mother-in-law to Orchard House, where we joined a group of high school English students on a tour of Louisa May Alcott's domain.

After moving twenty-two times in nearly thirty years, the Alcotts settled from 1858-1877 in Orchard House, which dates to circa 1690-1720.

The prolific Ms. Alcott wrote for fourteen hours at a stretch, switching to her left hand when her right one grew tired, and completed the first half of LITTLE WOMEN in two months during 1868. Alcott, unlike the other L.M., was prescient enough to sec…

College Days

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I'm flying to California for a "big" college reunion, so I won't be back on the Fire Escape until next Wednesday. I'll probably be tweeting a bit, but for now it's time to meander down memory lane.

I'm picturing the 17-year-old version of me standing in the dorm parking lot on the first day watching my parents' taillights disappear. I remember thinking: Now how am I supposed to kiss them good night?

What I didn't know is that over the next four years I'd find a faith that changed me, meet the man I'd marry, and start to see a bridge between two growing interests: stories and justice.

See you next week!

Thank You Love Notes

... from 8th graders who have participated in a writing workshop are a good way to commemorate The National Day of Writing today (kindly remember that these are all "sic"):
"You've shown me what it is to be an author, and, who knows, I might possibly be your competition one day."

"After meeting you last week I have been totally craving Sweet Tarts."

"I loved how you gave your impression of your parents. It cranked me up."

"Never had I heard an author speak of dating trouble and video games. You helped me realize that not all authors are these stiff hard working people."

"When I wrote my paragraph, I read it over. I was so excited that it was better than my normal writing. I wanted you to read it out loud to my group members. People would overlook me in the option list of 'who wrote this' because it was 'too good' for my writing."

"Why is reading a book so special? You brought the answer out to me: Reading e…

All Things Kidlitospheric

I don't get lonely on the Fire Escape. How could I, when I'm surrounded by a host of supportive bloggers who love books for kids and teens? If you haven't been introduced to the Kidlitosphere yet, this is a good time to start. What does this virtual community offer?
Comprehensive list of bloggers who love Kid/YA books, including group blogs.

A list of authors and illustrators who blog with up-to-date links.

Monthly carnivals of children's literature with links to great blog posts.

Poetry Fridays, a weekly assortment of poetry-themed musings and original content.

Nonfiction Mondays, giving bloggers a chance to share nonfiction books for children and teens.

An annual in real life conference for "movers and shakers in the kidlit community." If you're not in the D.C. area this Saturday, October 17, you may track the conference via twitter by searching for #kidlitcon. (That's what I'll be doing, since I don't have Hermione's time turner.)

A series of …

Don't You Love My Job?

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After a leaf-peeping morning drive to Willard School in Concord, Massachusetts, an author presentation, and a writing workshop, I was done by noon today. That gave me plenty of time to ramble around a famous pond in the vicinity (can you name it?):





Five Facebook Foibles

Interested in using this social media tool professionally as well as personally? Here are five errors to avoid when using Facebook:

mistake #1: sending blank friend requests to professional contacts

Don't put the onus on the friendee to investigate whether or not you're a stalker. Send a line of introduction with your request explaining how and why the two of you should be connected.

mistake #2: underutilizing the bio and information boxes

Use these to introduce yourself as a writer, librarian, bookseller, editor, teacher, or general book aficionado, especially if you set your default profile privacy for basic information to "everyone." Meticulously avoid spelling and grammar mistakes in these two boxes and try to make them interesting and easy to read. By all means link to your professional website, Facebook fan page (more on this in a minute), twitter feed, and/or blog.

mistake #3: lumping all your friends into the same list

When Facebook upgraded their list function a f…

Diary Entry on Skin Color: May 17, 1977

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Would somebody please interpret this journal rumination from the fourteen-year-old version of me, remembering that I was in an almost all-white high school?


It's clear that I was procrastinating my algebra by writing in my diary about an unrequited crush, but what exactly did I mean by "I wish I could hide behind my skin color more often, instead of cowering nakedly in front of it"?