Showing posts from April, 2014

Launching a Book in a Digital Age: A Call for Tips and Tricks

In the age of shrinking in-house publicity budgets, how might a writer or illustrator use social media to launch a book? I'll be presenting a session called "Launching a Book in a Digital Age" at the forthcoming New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators 2014 Conference, and I need your input.

What are some creative ideas and strategies that have worked for you or for others in launching a new book? Do you have practical tips on how to use tools like blogs, twitter, Facebook, etc. to draw attention to a title and make it stand out from the crowd? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below or tweet them with the hashtag #booklaunchtips.

This OPEN MIC Book Trailer Rocks My World

I usually try and create trailers for my books but what with our big move to California, I didn't get one together for OPEN MIC: RIFFS ON LIFE BETWEEN CULTURES IN TEN VOICES (Candlewick). That's why I was delighted when K.T. Horning of the University of Madison-Wisconsin's Cooperative Children's Book Center told me about this trailer created by Ali Khan, a brilliant, funny teen writer in the Madison Public Library's "Bubbler." I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did:

Ali, I love you! I will be the little old lady who hobbles up for an autograph some day, so don't forget me. Here's another video he made about rejecting stereotypes:

About the book trailer project:

Thanks to a recent Madison Civics Club Youth Grant, Madison Public Library and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) were able to pilot an 8-week workshop series with teen writers at Simpson Street Free Press. The project highlighted titles from Read On Wisconsin, CCBC's l…

A Midwestern Girl at Heart

I thoroughly enjoyed my week of events in the Midwest. I presented the 8th annual lecture on Multicultural Children's Literature at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, hosted by the Murphy Library. Next I headed for Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing to sit on a couple of panels as well as offer a solo talk entitled "It's Just Fiction: Ten Tips on Reading and Writing about Race, Culture, and Power."

In both communities, everyone was so ... nice. I know that can be a bland adjective, but believe me, after living in or near big cities my whole life, I delighted in the courtesies extended to me in these smaller college towns. If it wasn't for the W-word, I'd consider making my home in one of North America's so-called "flyover states." But I dumped my shovels in Boston before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, and I never want to see them again. Besides, I can always visit, right?

Three Great Days in Wisco…

Shattering the Multicultural Myth of the Market. Let's go.

"A young adult book featuring a protagonist who isn't of European descent will never become a bestseller."

"The majority of readers won't read a young adult novel featuring a protagonist who isn't of European descent."

We imagine these kinds of comments, spoken or unspoken, governing the publishing industry. In our guts, we know they're not true. We gripe about this issue. We try to disprove such claims through social media and conferences, panels and articles, speeches and radio shows. Unfortunately, nothing so far has resulted in such a young adult novel breaking through into widespread success.

The truth is that, for all of our good intentions, publishing is a for-profit industry.

Money changes minds.

"Adults don't read books for young readers." Harry Potter shattered that one, didn't it?

"Boys don't read girl books." Along came Suzanne Collins with Katniss, and middle-aged men were tearing through The Hunger Game…

It’s Just Fiction: Reading and Writing about Race, Culture, and Power

At the recent Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, MI, I had to tweak a presentation I've given over the past several years. A previous version focused on empowering writers with questions related to race, culture, and power to ask of ourselves and our stories. The Festival brings together writers and readers, so I presented "Ten Tips To See
 'Below the Waterline' of Stories," hoping that they might be useful while reading another person's story as well as in the revision of one's own work.

My goal is for us to SEE themes related to race, culture, and power with our conscious minds. Fiction is powerful, as propagandists know, and a "single story" of a group of people (as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie eloquently argued) transmitted "below the waterline" can be dangerous.


1. Look for an older magical negro or noble savage.

2. Notice a smart/good peer from a marginalized group who serves as a foil…

Device-Free Day. You In?

I returned from the inspiring Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College yesterday to this tweet from Elizabeth Law, reader and editor extraordinaire:
@MitaliPerkins, do you still practice one internet free day a week? Or is it even more rigorous, are you entirely device free? I'm intrigued.
— Elizabeth Law (@ElawReads) April 13, 2014 If I could blush, I would have.

In an age of digital hullabaloo, one of my life goals is to avoid screens and plugs from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday. Apparently, I've discoursed about that publicly. The problem was that I was reading the tweet first thing Sunday morning.

At the Festival, I was reminded again that maintaining a 24/7 digital connection can suck the storytelling right out of you. Creative work flourishes with the age-old practice of a weekly day of rest, during which we enjoy a five-senses attentive delight in the present.

That's why I am going to renew my device-free habit from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday.


Hey, Grand Rapids! Is Spring There Yet?

Next week (April 10-14, 2014), I'm delighted to be participating in the Festival of Faith and Writing, "the biennial writing festival at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, celebrating matters of faith."

I'll be presenting a solo talk called "It's Just Fiction: Reading and Writing about Race, Culture, and Power," and am participating in a panel discussion on YA fiction with Swathi Avasti and Pam Muñoz Ryan. I'm also sitting on a panel focusing on writing and social justice with Uwem Akpan, a writer of fiction and Jesuit priest serving in Nigeria, and playwright Ashley Lucas. The framing question will be something like this: "To what extent can—or should—art serve to shine a light on injustice?"

Other Kid/YA book folks will be presenting at the Festival, including Gene Luen Yang (keynoting), Ron Koertge, Michele Wood, Marilyn Nelson, Richard Cowdrey, and Deborah Heiligman. Literary luminaries who write for adults, including Anne Lamo…