Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Tip of the Day: if you want an interesting look inside e-books. Arthur Slade has some great numbers and info regarding an ebook experience he is doing.

I'm celebrating over here on Author2Author today!

After months of procrastination and a break from writing, I have finally gotten some new words written on my current work in progress.

Yay!! Just doing a happy dance, since I've been in a serious writing slump. And I'm glad to find some motivation and a new idea to tie up some loose ends that have been bugging me for months.


That's all I really have to say.

Okay...now back to work.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Thank you for those who serve, those who have served, and the families of those in service. Happy Memorial Day.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fun Friday: Don't forget the obvious

Tip of the Day: get your laugh on with fun comics by Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

That Fine Line

Tip of the Day: Facing a long summer with the kids? Start out by making a list of everything you want to do and post it on the fridge. Then when the "we're bored!!" stuff starts you'll have a place to look for ideas. Our list includes things like library reading club, walk to park, draw outside with chalk, swim at grandmas and so on.

I think there's a fine line between sharing exciting news and bragging and it's really hard to see where that is sometimes. With Facebook and Twitter everyone is sharing everything these days. Celebrities, authors, neighbors. Everyone's business is out there. And sometimes it almost seems like a competition. Like a, look what I'm doing! Top that! My husband calls it shouting from the mountain top. He says everyone wants to be heard and know they matter. But when is it too much?

I heard Oprah say, well somewhere I can't recall, that people cheered for her on the way up. That while she was gaining popularity everyone was rooting for her. But then you hit a point and people want to take you down or see you fall. I think this happens with authors too. I know when I see newer authors talking about their exciting milestones online I'm excited for them. The sale, first cover, first review, first list they make. But then as the authors are around longer and talk more and more it seems there's a point where they should, I don't know. Slow it down a bit? I'm not even sure the right way to phrase it but when it's like yay, I just sold my tenth movie and my book is in 100 different languages and look at that, my book's in it's 95th printing, it starts to sound braggy and becomes a turn off. And then I don't want to really follow that author's news anymore because it just seems like all bragging. I guess that's why Facebook makes the HIDE button. :-)

I do get that people are excited. Totally. It's kind of like when you have kids. I try hard not to talk about mine too much online because while I think they're amazing and their every thought is brilliant, haha, I don't think everyone else will. There's stuff you just save and tell your spouse or mom because they too see the genius in your kids. :-) With sharing online there's definitely a fine line where it just gets too much. And it's not just authors I'm talking about. Seriously, a neighbor or old high school friend can get equally annoying in their facebook or twitter updates. A FB friend was posting about all the complicated organic only recipes she was feeding her kids. Climbing to the top of a huge cliff to reach a rare berry grown in only one spot in the world to dice into the kid's salad type of stuff. At first it's like wow, cool! Ten times later it's like okay, we get it, you're the best mom ever and we all suck a thousand times over and could never reach your motherly greatness. HIDE! :-)

What do you guys think? Where's the line between sharing news and bragging?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Emotional Truth (or Can You Handle the Truth?)

Tip of the Day: Take advantage of Wegmans $6 meals when you can.

Last week I talked about the Rochester Teen Book Fest and said I'd discuss my take aways from the event as a writer.

The overarching theme from the presenters I saw was to write to your emotions. Torrey Maldonado really brought this home with his invigorating speech. To all those sixth graders who have him for a teacher: you are so lucky!

Shari Maurer and Selene Castrovilla, who I spent most of my day with, kept reminding me and their audience to write "the emotional truth." If the story calls to be written in a certain way, write it. The plot of the novel doesn't need to mimic a real life experience the writer has had, but the EMOTIONS evoked from the manuscript should reflect a real emotion that has been experienced.

Some books are hard to write, but hard books need to be written. They will touch at least one reader. And that reader is important. That reader is who you are writing for. Selene's second book deals with cancer, and she had teens from the cancer center at one of her talks. Shari's book deals with heart transplants, and she had a 16-year-old who'd had 2 heart transplants at her talk. It gave me chills to hear these teens tell the authors what their books meant to them; that it made them realize they weren't alone. Chills.

TBF was not the first time I'd heard the expression about writing the emotional truth BUT it was the first time it really hit me about what that meant. In 2010 I rewrote the first novel I'd ever written and heavily revised my YA that is currently on sub. Both of those books were important for me to write because of the significant parts that pieces of them have played in my life. Not exact replicas of the situations or plots -- I made sure to NOT regurgitate my life in a novel -- but I realized in revising both works that in trying to avoid writing memoirs, I had skimmed over the emotional truths! Watered them down!

It took me a long time to figure out what emotion I intended to write, and that I needed to get there in whatever way felt natural, not by forcing the books to go in different directions to avoid autobiographical elements. And not by adding in autobiographical elements either.

Thank you, TBF authors, for giving me this reminder. I plan to use it in every writing session from now on.

*Another gem completely unrelated? When I asked Selene and Shari if they thought contemp realistic fiction like theirs would have a resurgence of popularity, they said they believe books like theirs will always have readers and followers -- it's just that the paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy readers are a lot more demonstrative (as was evidenced by manga author/illustrator Svetlana Chmakova's fans in their costumes at the Fest).

I think she's totally right. Trends will be trends, but those books that offer fun costumes and creatures will always have another avenue of marketing and drawing attention to the work.

Thoughts on any/all of this?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Staying creative...

Tip of the Day: happy almost summer everyone!

When I first started writing it seemed like the ideas were always flowing. Just like with anything at the beginning it's always new and exciting. But after a few years it feels harder to keep pushing yourself. Keep trying to get creative. Keep coming up with new ideas.

Every author seems to have the joke that they get their ideas from the Idea Store. Because it is sort of funny, no one knows where ideas come from. They are just everywhere.

At the same time, I think you can help yourself spark creativity in so many ways. Some of my favorite:

Reading a good book.

It's hard not to find inspiration when reading other people's work. Usually I get so excited about writing my own that I often have to put down the book I'm reading to work on my own. And usually the inspiration has nothing to do with the book I'm reading. Just reading is inspiration enough.

Trying something new.

I love trying new things. One of my biggest fears is that one day I'm going to run out of new things to try. This weekend to inspire creativity, I worked on some polymer clay jewelry. Similar to these beauties found on polymerclay.craftgossip.com.

What are some of your favorite ways to spark creativity?


Monday, May 23, 2011

Do You Limit Your Internet Time?

Tip of the Day: Print and post this internet time suck cartoon by Debbie Ridpath Ohi near your writing desk as a reminder.

So, what do you do you when you're goofing off on the internet?

Facebook for me, definitely. I love knowing how my friends and family are doing, and Facebook is so much more satisfying than a phone call because it has photos. Oh, and the news. I don't watch news on TV anymore. Those 24-hour news channels have nothing in depth to say. And while I'm checking the news, of course I read the comic strips. And what kind of writer friend would I be if I didn't read my friends' blogs? Speaking of which, I should keep up with publishing industry news ... what's going on at the public library ... read some book reviews ... update my Goodreads library ... check Verla Kay's Blueboards ...

I can't tell if I spend less time on the computer that isn't writing or work related or more time than I did, say, a year ago. Because I've never kept track. But as I get ready to take the summer off from full time office work, I think I need a way to regulate web surfing. At the office, it's easy to relegate "internet goof off time" to lunch break, and writing time to home. But when I'm home all the time? Seriously, it's not like I'm giving up web surfing. This isn't a monastery.

So I think my first step will be to keep track of what time I spend on the computer on which activities. Oh, boy, this should be whatever the opposite of enlightening is.

Do you track how much time you surf the internet? Hey, want to try it with me? What's your favorite internet use strategy tip?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fun Friday: Guest Post on Selling Out from YA Author ADAM SELZER

The book that made me want to write YA was SPACE STATION SEVENTH GRADE, a Jerry Spinelli novel from the early 1980s. It remains the most realistic depiction of a seventh grader I have ever read, or ever expect to read. The narrator, Jason Herkeimer, talks about sex, life, death, religion, race, and gender in ways that are charmingly naive. For instance, he and his friend speculate that Joe McGuinness must be Italian, or from close to the equator, because he already has pubic hair, and people from South Italy and hot climates grow hair faster than other people (wheras Koreans never grow any). The character who says this heard it from his Mom.

For a 13 year old, especially at the end of the 1970s, to believe such stereotypes is totally realistic. One gets the sense that Jason will grow up and find out that the stereotypes he believes about others aren't true, but this isn't a lesson he learns in the course of the book. He's rude, crude, a bit of a racist (even though he hangs out with a wildly diverse bunch), a bit sexist, and occasionally a total douchebag.

The book wouldn't have a chance today. For one thing, it's a boy book, so it'd be a tough sell regardless of content. For another, the character is a seventh grader, so if anyone DID publish it, it would have to be marketed as an ages 10+ thing. "Older YA" readers don't typically read about characters younger than they are.

What's acceptable in a kids/YA book has changed over the years. Poop and fart jokes are a lot more acceptable than they used to be, but realism is out. Using the word "shit" was okay once (I've got Betty Miles books that use it, and the kids in The Goonies, which was rated PG, used it a lot. Being realistic is not only no longer a good enough excuse, it's also not very marketable right now. Realistic YA and middle grade fiction sort of needs to win an award before stores want it these days.

Would Spielberg have been selling out to tone down the language? Would Spinelli have been compromising himself as a writer if he made Jason more PC?

Let's talk about selling out.

If you want to make a living as a writer, you'll probably have to do it sooner or later. The sad fact of the world is that the ideas that inspire you most are probably not your most marketable ideas, and the even the "best" version of your books is going to be less marketable than it could be with a few revisions designed to make it more attractive to retailers. If I were Bob Dylan, the fact that I was being uncompromising might be part of the selling point, but for those who of us still working our way up the mid-list, the easiest way to impress retailers tends to be sticking to a tried and true formula (or looking like you are, anyway).

This isn't new - in the early 1990s, the big formula around here was horror novels - the books that defined the market were basically mini Dean Koontz books, with a lot less sex and swearing (though Christopher Pike had more than RL Stine - Pike was considered far more sophisticated than RL at my school). I wouldn't have wanted to be a YA writer trying to do anything else at the time.

But there was a period a few years back when YA was waking up from its long reputation as a genre for kids who aren't quite ready for adult books. There was a lot of experimenting going on, a lot of boundary pushing, a lot of creativity. Now, however, we're back into a period where YA is expected to follow a formula of "girl who is just like me loves her first boyfriend forever, despite a terrible secret." You can deviate from this formula, but you're going to get some nasty reader reviews for it, and the chain stores will be reluctant to carry your book unless there's a lot of marketing or some awards behind it. And even the awards might not do it.

But the fact that you have to play within the rules of the market doesn't mean you have to suck.

At any given time, I have half a dozen projects in the works - probably more. And when deciding which one to write for publication, rather than simply for my own entertainment, I do have to take the state of the market into account. The real challenge for me is to write something that I know is marketable, but which I still like and feel is my own. This can be a fun challenge. Believe me, no one knew better than I that finding out that your significant other is a zombie is a pretty dumb concept in and of itself. Trying to take it and make a smart book out of it was a lot of fun.

Now, I'm not here to criticize other writers for selling out - I'm here to tell about how I "sold out" myself in several projects. Most of my books have been compromised at least a little at some point in the process. I'm not ashamed of this - George Carlin once said that if you put on a shirt before you go outside, you're already selling out. And writing is a business. Here are a few of my books and how I changed them:

This was my first book, back in 2007. It was about an 8th grade boy who gets suspended for directing an avant garde sex ed movie called La Dolce Pubert. The original draft was a bit more explicit - the F word appeared once or twice. Random House offered to go to bat for me if I felt strongly about those words, but also said it would hurt sales a lot, because books about eighth graders are usually going to be read by younger kids, and are more likely to be bought by the parents. I left a few good swears in (they even but one in the tagline on the back of the dust jacket: " you don't have to be smart to be a smartass, but it helps."), but took out the F word. Since store availability was still low, I sort of regret it now. The times it got challenged in libraries were the best publicity I ever got.

This was my first middle grade book - all about a school spelling bee, but based on Watergate. Towards the end, there's a scene in which the students frighten a couple of threatening old ladies by pretending they're about to moon them. The original draft had the old ladies objecting to the use of the word "ass." I discussed this with RH, and they agreed with my fears that this was too risque for a middle grade book in 2008 (in 1988 I would have probably gotten away with it, but not anymore). I don't regret this one; having them object to "butt" is funnier, anyway, and the book was meant to exist a few steps beyond reality. Gritty realism was not the point here.

This is still listed as "Smartass Guide" on my hard drive, but I knew I'd never get away with that. One publisher (a very big one) that was bidding on it threw some pretty shocking numbers at me as to what their first print run would be, but told me I couldn't call people stupid, swear even a little, discuss sex, or anything that anyone, anywhere, ever, could be offended by. I don't think you can do satire without offending somebody, no matter how good your intentions are. I decided not to go with that publisher.

That's not to say that I didn't make any compromises. The rough draft used the S word a few times and told the story of Washington using the a-word while crossing the Delaware, giving his soldiers a good laugh and proving that a well-timed swear can change the destiny of nations. There was also a bit about how, among their other accomplishments, world war 2 soldiers are credited for greatly expanding the use of the F word by popularizing many variations on it that we still use today (they truly were the greatest generation).

But we knew that this book wasn't going to be a big one for store sales - there's simply not a shelf for YA nonfiction that isn't about "your changing body" or how to prepare for college and/or the rapture. School sales were to be the order of the day, and, as such, we had to keep it fairly clean, because even "Damn" and "hell" were out of the question for a big chunk of that market.

Sometimes I think I should have gone with that other publisher. The book may not have been as good, or the way I wanted it to be, but it's true that if it was a straight up, inoffensive middle grade book, it probably could have sold better. In this case, I stuck (more or less) to my vision, and I'm proud of the results, even if my student loan officer and I do have to live with the consequences.

The rough draft of this one contained the F word once or twice, I think, and the S word several times. Alley was much more casual about sex, and it was a bit more explicit about the fact that the lack of a beating heart and flowing blood meant that Doug the Zombie was never going to be able to get it up. It wasn't THAT explicit about the "list of things they could do instead," but one certainly got the message that it wasn't all holding hands.

Random House suggested that I sort of tone this down and bury it between the lines, because they wanted to market it as a book for ages 10 and up. See, the way it works is that according to one of the chain stores, the market for ya is ages 10-18. There are two kinds of YA books: those that are for ages 10 and up, and those that are for 14+. Playing strictly by the numbers, they assume that a 14+ book has half the audience of a 10+, and puts in orders accordingly.

I didn't have a problem with making those changes, but I think that marketing this one as a 10+ sort of backfired. The satire went over the heads of many of the younger readers, some of whom were pretty upset that it didn't follow the "girl who is just like me loves her first bf forever" formula that they thought it would follow. Meanwhile, though boys and older girls tended to like it best, getting them to read in the first place it was like pulling teeth, and their reviews tended to have a "don't make fun of me because I like this" tone. So the right readers didn't end up reading it in any great numbers, and the kids who were most interested based on the cover, title and marketing were the wrong readers. Meanwhile, the store we were trying to impress didn't like the cover and, as a result, didn't carry it at all. Keeping it 14+ didn't seem wise at the time, but if it was marketed as a book for older readers and boys, there's a chance if could have done better. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts....

There are two other books that I have coming out, both compromised in little ways:

EXTRAORDINARY is a follow-up (or sorts) to ZOMBIE. When I first started drafting it, it was a bit more obscene than it currently is. The humor is really more of a "teen" thing, but by the time I was halfway through, I knew that most of the readers were going to be younger. The title on my hard drive is "Fairy Godmotherf---er," which, obviously, I knew I'd never get away with. My editor loved the idea of calling it Fairy Godmofo, but we decided fairly quickly that we'd never get away with that, either. I'm finding myself totally unable to predict how this one will do, or what people will think of it. The kids who didn't like Zombie will probably like this one a lot better, but I'm worried that the kids who loved Zombie most might not like it quite as much.

SPARKS: The Epic, Completely True, Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie - I started this one in 2007 in a huff and a hiss when SUSPENDED came out and wasn't in any stores near me (a hardcover boy book was a hard sell that year - it would be even harder now). "Well, fine," I grumbled. "I"ll write a girl book. And I'll call it Debbie Does Detention!" I joked about this with my agent for a few weeks, then sat down and wrote it. By the time I was three chapters in, I had a book full of f-bombs from the pov of a lesbian atheist who is in love with her Christian best friend and joins a made-up religion to keep her from sleeping with a creep named Norman. There wasn't much compromise in the draft of this one; when you write a book about a lesbian, your publisher pretty well knows that there's know way they can make it a 10+ book. ANd if you're going to do a 14+, well, you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

Still, "Debbie Does Detention" wouldn't fly as a title (I'm not sure if sales and marketing thought that was too risque or if they just didn't like it). But even though there were no content changes, I changed my name to SJ Adams for this one, partly because I thought a gender neutral name would sell better; there were a LOT of blog and goodreads reviews of Zombie that opened with some variation on "I didn't think I'd like this because it was by a guy." In any case, having "SJ" make fun of me on twitter and the SJ Adams blog has been a lot of fun. Making SJ's identity an open secret sort of defeats the purpose, but the sort of people who will be offended that such a book is by a guy probably aren't going to do much research on it.

So, there you have it. I'm a sell out. But the basic message of the books has never changed, and the themes of geek empowerment, critical thinking, progressive ideals, and making fun of things I think could use a bit of ribbing have never been compromised.

Now, in the midst of writing all these things, I've also written plenty of things that are "just for myself." A good example is one of which I just finished a draft: "Are You There, Satan? It's Me, Leon," a young adult novel for kids who worship the devil. It's very much a 14+ book, and definitely aimed at boys. I love it to bits, but I knew full well going into it that there's not really a market for it.

Not right now, anyway.

But who knows what next year will bring?

Find out more about Adam and his books at www.adamselzer.com.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Oprah's Surprise Spectacular Recap

Tip of the Day: Check out Agent/YA Author Mandy Hubbard's awesome post on current trends in publishing.

Oprah's Surprise Spectacular was high on spectacular and low on surprise. Oh, that doesn't sound right does it? Don't get me wrong, it was way FUN! And it really was a SPECTACULAR thing for us to see. Wow. So cool. I'm so glad I went! I've never seen that many celebrities in one place at one time. Here's a quick list of who I remember (aside from Oprah of course):
Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Jackie Evancho, Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Madonna, Dakota Fanning, Beyonce, John Legend (via satellite), Diane Sawyer, Halle Berry, Katie Homes, Queen Latifah, Rascal Flatts, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Michael Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Seinfeld, Rosie O’Donnell, Nate Berkus, Dr Phil, Dr Oz, Simon Cowell, Gayle King, Maria Shriver, Tyler Perry, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Angelou, Alicia Keys, Stedman Graham, Aretha Franklin, and Usher. (omg, can you imagine the party they had afterward?). So yeah, it was really cool!

I guess I just expected there would be some big **SURPRISE** though. Like something that would knock Oprah's socks off. I mean, it's awesome to see so many celebs but Oprah spent her whole career seeing these people. She'd interviewed all of these guys like a dozen times a pop. So where's the surprise? I guess the surprise is that they are just all there at the same time? But they're all there each time there is an academy award or whatnot too. I guess the difference was that this was like a "this is year life Oprah! event". See all the kids you sent to school? All the books you made bestsellers? All the houses you gave away? The careers you launched (btw, Dr. Oz was so cute dancing). We were basically at Oprah's retirement party. Not that I'm complaining! I would go to any party of hers any time! It really was "spectacular" to see. I just wanted them to give her a really big surprise. But is Oprah just to big of a name that there is nothing left that would really surprise her?

My only real actual complaint? The whole night was really long. I mean reeeeeeally long. (we had to leave at 3:30 to get there by 5pm, they stalled with warm up people chatting and dancing and being goofy until 7:30, first show didn't end until 9:30pm and the second show started right away, then that didn't end until 11:30pm and we got back home by 12:30am). And they didn't even give us a bottle of water. For real. I tried to bring one in my pocket and they took it at the door. They said I could get in the line of a million people and buy a replacement bottle for $5 if I really wanted to. But then not to bring it to my seat. And they didn't want us eating. At all. Nothing during this time because it might be seen on camera. Which I'd understand except from where we were sitting we could see the people in the box seats that were having waiters bring them out food and drink and were chowing the entire time on camera anyway. And they didn't want us going to the bathroom. Which again, I get, empty seats and all that don't look good. But I have to say around 9:30 we took a chance and ran past the ushers to a bathroom anyway. I mean, I love Oprah and all but six hours with no drinks, food, and bathroom breaks is a little much.

BUT, it was mostly a really cool, once-in-a-lifetime experience and I'm glad I went! I think it airs next Monday and Tuesday so you can check it out if you're interested.

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Author as Librarian (or Teen Book Fest Take Aways)

Tip of the Day: See Kate's post from Monday for more great pics from Saturday's event!

Holy cow, what a great day Rochester area readers had on Saturday at the Teen Book Festival @ Nazareth College!

Here is Fairport Public Library's YA Librarian Stephanie Squicciarini, the founder of TBF and all around amazing person. Yes, author Terry Trueman crowned her TBF Queen.

The opening author panel allowed the audience to get a feel for all the authors at the Fest even though there isn't time to visit everyone's individual sessions.

I had a lovely time chatting with "my" authors, Selene Castrovilla and Shari Maurer. Here they are with my intern Kelley, me, and our two teen author volunteers.

Author Inara Scott was not an "official" part of the Fest, but we connected online and I learned she would be in town to help promote Writers and Books summer writing programs for kids and teens.

The day completed with the author signing session that lasted for over 1.5 hours. Holy moley! Rochester loves their authors!

As a librarian, my take away was that people love books. They love to read. And we need libraries to provide free access to the books they love. OK, that was all obvious and stuff.

As a writer, well, I'll talk about those take aways next week.

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

5 Pretty Things

Tip of the Day: is you have a Papa Murphy's near you, you have to try the Smores Pizza. Yum!

Five things that I'm crushing right now...

These adorable E-reader covers which you can have made at http://hobop.etsy.com. Almost makes me want to splurge on an e-reader!

All the cute umbrellas at Bella Umbrella. Given all the rain I'm surprised everything isn't out of stock.

I've been wanting these curtains from World Market ever since seeing them on Better With You.

These paper flowers. So cute. There's also lots of ideas about what to make with old books at Alisa Burke's blog.

And last, but not least, I couldn't help but point these out. One of my new favorite stores Francesca's Collections has lots of fun retro accessories and knick knacks. Including these...


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Photos of the Young Adult Author Stars

Tip of the Day: If you ever get a chance to hear Terry Trueman speak, GO!

On Saturday, my daughter and I attended the Rochester Teen Book Festival, so today I have some visuals of a rocking good time!

This is James Barry, artist for The Warriors manga series, signing and sketching for my artist daughter. What a nice guy!

The world-famous mob of teens waiting to meet Ellen Hopkins. The line will extend outside the auditorium door for hours.

Here's me and the inspirational Elizabeth Scott. I loved hearing her and Melissa de la Cruz speak about their writing processes. Elizabeth had hugs for everyone!

I also saw Julie Halpern, Carl Deuker, Melissa Cantor, and Terry Trueman, who may be the funniest speaker alive. We do this every year in Rochester, so make plans to come see us next May!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fun Friday: Teen Book Festival Organizers Dye Their Hair!

The teens did it! They raised over $6,666.00 for the sixth annual Rochester Teen Book Festival so the organizers of the event did what they promised: they dyed their hair crazy colors. Check out this fabulous news footage at the hair salon Tuesday morning and stay tuned for pics after the event for the gorgeous and bright results!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guess Where I'm Going Next Week??

Tip of the Day: If you're in the Rochester area go see Deena and a TON of super cool authors this weekend at the Teen Book Fest! See Deena's post for deets.

I already posted this on my personal blog this week but I didn't tell you guys. Guess where I'm going Tuesday night?

I'm going to see Oprah! Specifically, I'm going to her big Farewell Surprise Spectacular at the United Center! Whoo hoo!!

Ok, what the heck is that exactly? I don't know. All we know is that taping is from 5-10:30pm and that it will air as two shows, her second and third to last shows.

But what is going to go on for that 5 and a half hours?! Your guess is as good as mine! We know that it is a "Surprise Spectacular". Whatever that means. I like my titles to give more info. Like with MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS you get the idea of what the book might be about. But "SURPRISE SPECTACULAR"? Are we getting a surprise? Are we surprising Oprah? And what on earth would surprise Oprah at this point? I don't think there's anything anyone can give her material wise so it has to be the guests they're bringing in. But she already knows everyone. Unless Jesus Christ himself appears. Do you think they booked Jesus? It is Oprah after all. Well, whatever happens, I'll tell you guys about it next week. Even if I'm blogging while riding atop the back of one of the pet elephants Oprah gave away to everyone in the audience.

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Sixth Annual Rochester Teen Book Fest! (or Why I Love My Job Reason # 134)

In case you missed it last Friday, check out my interview with the hilarious YA author Allen Zadoff!

I am unable to focus on anything but The Rochester Teen Book Fest this Saturday (9AM to 5PM @ Naz College. FREE!). It's my Christmas!

I also get to have a fab author IN MY CAR as I drive her to the hotel from the airport and I plan to ask her to rub some of her talent and publishing luck into the fibers of my passenger seat.

OK, OK, I won't, I promise! I'll play the YA Librarian Fangirl instead of the Writer Asking for the Magic Pill to Publishingdom.

Will any of our blog readers be there on Saturday?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Summer Reading

Tip of the Week: looking to get away from writing with a fun trip this summer or fall? Check out www.gate1travel.com--my favorite travel company for cheaper trips around the world.

Working at a library, I can't help but have Summer Reading Program information on the brain right now. Which got me to wondering how many people usually participate in Adult Summer Reading Programs.

I have to admit that I only have when they are super easier and I can track my books read online. I rarely participate at the library I work at because I feel bad taking prizes, so this applies only to my "home" library.

So I thought I'd ask a quick informally survey. If you want to participate (just for curiosity and to help with future planning) feel free to answer in the comments.

1.) Have you participated in an adult summer reading program at your library in the last 5 years?
2.) Why have you participated or why haven't you?
3.) Regardless of if you've participated or not, do you normally keep track of the books you read throughout the year regardless?


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers' Day Blues in the Bookshelves

Tip of the Day: If Mothers' Day is hard for you, you are not alone. For all the bad you hear about Facebook, it's been a blessing to me to hear from people who remember my family way back when.

I wanted to get my Mom some books for Mother's Day this year, and she reads mysteries. She has 3 criteria:

1. She wants the main character to be about her age.
2. She doesn't like gore.
3. She's an intelligent, well read person, so she'd like something written well.

So there I am out of my league in B&N, far far away from the YA section, wandering through the genre mystery shelves of paperbacks wondering: Why are dogs and cats solving all the mysteries when my dog can't solve the mystery of "how did the food get in my bowl"?

Apparently I have been training him wrong. Because if the B&N shelves are any indication, I should own a shop in a beachfront community and solve mysteries with him. I have now learned that if you want to find out who murdered your ex-boyfriend or your niece's ex-husband, you need to find a bake shop, book shop, sewing shop, and/or herbalist and appeal directly to the owner's cat or dog.

My mother's not a big animal person, at least not to the point of trusting them with hidden family secrets, so I needed to expand my scope. I read the blurbs for the books with younger protagonists (in their 20s, say) but they were the same blurbs, really. Oh, the poodles were switched with demons or angels or werewolves, and the shops sold fashion accessories, but they were the same.

So I read the blurbs for the novels with male main characters. Now I can't sleep because I'm convinced that the President is being hunted by a serial killer who weaves lawn chairs out of people's intestines.

I know there are wonderful, well-written mysteries being written every day. I'm just not sure Barnes and Noble, our new overlords, are stocking them. But I reminded myself that everyone feels adrift when they wander into the shelves of an unfamiliar genre. There are probably people who shake their head in the Sci Fi/Fantasy shelves, muttering "Dragons! How can there be this many books about dragons?!"

And I would say, no, they're not all about dragons, it just looks that way. I can help you find some really great books. You just have to know your way around.

Hey, has anyone written a novel about a dragon who solves mysteries? I might be on to something here.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fun Friday: Interview with YA author Allen Zadoff!

I am thrilled that YA author Allen Zadoff (although his memoir for adults, HUNGRY, is awesome, too) has graced us with his presence for this Fun Friday!
His first novel, FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE (Egmont), had me laughing out loud (you must read the soccer scene!), and I obviously wasn't the only one; it was the winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award in 2010. And it is now available in paperback -- a total deal!

Allen's second novel, MY LIFE, THE THEATER, AND OTHER TRAGEDIES is out on May 10 -- oh my gosh, that's Tuesday! Woo hoo! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! Here's what Publisher's Weekly says about it: "Zadoff captures the confusion, torn loyalties, and overwrought drama of teenage life—not to mention student theater. All the world's a stage, indeed, and these players earn their applause."

After reading in the acknowledgements in FOOD and learning that Allen spent some of his teen years in my hometown of Rochester, NY, I practically mauled him at the YALSA Symposium this past November. Fortunately for me, he accepted the upstate NY craziness and allowed me to ask him even more questions here. So enough about me! On to Allen!

(Oh wait, that picture's still about me...let's try this again. ;-))

1. When did you start writing novels with the hopes of having one published?
Not too long ago! I wrote my first novel in 2006 while I was waiting for my memoir HUNGRY to be published. I’d written a lot of things before this time. Plays, poetry, sitcom specs, screenplays...but I never thought I’d be able to write a novel. I thought novelists were geniuses. Then I wrote FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE. Believe me, I’m no genius. I’m a storyteller, and novels are just stories told in a particular form. I know that now.

2. What was your first paid writing gig?
I wrote for a puppeteer named Mark Weiner, creator and star of Weinerville on Nickelodeon in the 90s. I loved the gig. Someone was actually paying me to write. I felt like a pro for the first time, even if I was writing for a piece of felt on Marc’s hand.

3. Did you have an agent when you sold your novel?
I did indeed. My wonderful agent (you don’t hear that phrase very often) had sold Hungry, and connected me with Elizabeth Law, who was the publisher of the brand new Egmont-USA.

3a. Can you tell us a little about how the sale went down?
Elizabeth Law says that when she read my memoir Hungry she heard the voice of a YA author waiting to emerge. When she became publisher at Egmont, she asked me to bring her something. I showed up with fifty pages of the book that was to become FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE. She must have liked what she saw because she signed me to a two-book deal at Egmont. That’s a lot of faith in a new author! The second book of that deal is coming out on May 10. It’s called MY LIFE, THE THEATER, AND OTHER TRAGEDIES.

4. How has your writing/writing process changed since selling your first novel?
My motivation has had to change. When you write for as many years as I did without outward success, it twists you up a bit. You’re trying to get someone to pay attention, to take you seriously.

Now I’ve got three books out with deals for several more on the way.

The world is saying, “We’re looking. We’re listening. Now what do you have to say to us?” This is how it has changed. The focus is off of getting publishing and onto sharing my point of view with the world. When I work with writers as a writing coach, that’s what I try to share with them. Let’s stop worrying about how to get published and think about the stories we have to share with the world.

5. How do you work to keep your books on the shelves?
I do a lot of blog interviews. LOL! The secret job of being an author is that you must promote your work, talk about it to friends and strangers, blog, post, update, tweet. Ask for help from friends around the country (“Would you go to B&N and turn my book cover face out so more people will buy it? Do you mind writing a little Amazon review for me?”) You have to stay active, and I struggle a bit with that. I mean, I wasn’t sitting in the library at Brighton High School twenty years ago dreaming of doing Facebook updates, I was dreaming of writing books. So you have to accept that there is a business aspect to being an author, and do the whole job, not just the writing part.

My latest book, MY LIFE, THE THEATER, AND OTHER TRAGEDIES, was inspired by two things. The first is that I loved theater when I was in high school. I was a shy, pudgy kid, but when I got on stage, I totally transformed. I did maybe 40 shows in the 5 years of middle school and high school. Then I went on to become head of the undergraduate theater company at Cornell and I went to grad school as a director at Harvard. Theater was an enormous part of my life, and I wanted to share some of the magic I felt during that time. The funny thing about LIFE/THEATER is that the whole story is told from the perspective of the techies, the backstage crew. They’re at war with the actors in my story.

The second inspiration was a sadder one, the death of my mother last year. This was a huge event in my life, and the theme of tragedy and how you move on afterwards is a major component of the new book.

Life is always funnier in hindsight. It wasn’t so funny to be a fat, unhappy kid, and I had a lot of angst throughout my high school career and afterwards. Actually, I have a lot of angst now. What’s wrong with me? Okay, back to the point. Life looks a lot funnier today because I have some perspective. This is good to remember if you’re having a hard time now. It gets better. And who knows? Today’s hard times may end up being the inspiration for the book, song, movie, or painting you’re going to create years from now.
Wow, thanks Allen, for that great interview. I'm so excited that you have more books up your sleeve, and I know I always need to hear stories -- truth or fiction -- about how to overcome whatever tragedies trip us up in our days.

Thank you so much for your time here today! And readers, if you need a pick-me-up through the glut of dark YAs, Allen Zadoff is the author for you! I promise you will laugh out loud. :-D

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Live in the Middle of Nowhere, How Can I Promote My Book?

Tip of the Day: Trying to decide between ePublishing and Traditional Publishing? Download the free excel worksheet on this site (click on "simple spreadsheet" in the 2nd paragraph), enter your info, and see how much money you could make from each route.

I ask myself this question all of the time. I'm not a big name author so I'm not travelling around the country on a book tour each time a new book releases. I don't get heavy promotion like ads in magazines or online ad space on busy web sites. I don't live near NYC or LA so I can't attend a lot of the big author events so many other authors are always talking about. And it's hard to get a book faced out at the book store for more than a couple of months. So what can I do?

1) I can do everything I can locally. That is go to schools to visit classes, attend school reading nights (I'll be at the Barnes&Nobles in Oakbrook, IL this Thursday @ 6:30pm for the Westmont Junior High Reading Night), attend author fairs, local conferences, and group book signings (it's always more fun in a group!).

2) I can offer free skype visits to schools that I can't travel to.

3) I can offer signed bookmarks and swag to bookclubs that read my books and skype with them during their club meeting.

4) I can be as present as possible online, that is blog/facebook/twitter.

5) I can make a book trailer and put it on youtube. Here's mine for The Espressologist.

6) I can participate in blog tours and answer interview questions for various web sites.

7) I can send stacks of bookmarks to teen librarians to put in their teen section at their library.

8) I can send signed bookmarks to YA book bloggers to put in their giveaways.

9) I can send out postcards announcing new books to independent books stores and libraries. Need to find addresses? Here's a great link to independent bookstores and their mailing addresses. And if you want to find library addresses check out worldcat.org. Click on Find a library and enter a place (like Illinois) and you'll get a list of all the libraries.

So there is stuff I can do out here in the middle of nowhere! Can you think of anything else I might have missed?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Now That's a Stretch (or Two Heads are Better Than One)

Tip of the Day: Want to see how my library staff celebrated the royal wedding last Friday? It's all about the hats!

My latest WIP is a stretch for me: it's written in two alternating first person povs. All my previous novels have been in one clear pov. It's taken some courage to plot it out.

On top of that, this is my first time writing from a boy's pov (the main characters are a 16yo girl and a 17yo boy). Can I realistically tap into the teenaged guy's mind???

I resisted writing this book for a long time because I knew there would be a learning curve. But you know what? Now that I'm on chapter 9, I'm really enjoying switching stories and perspectives every 5 pages or so. I find it's keeping my writing fresh. And it's fun getting to know two main characters in one book!

What have you done lately to stretch your writing muscles?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Favorite Place to Write

Tip of the Day: my husband, myself, and our house were featured in a local news story this past Sunday in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. For the story click here.

When we recently bought our house we inherited the opportunity to participate in an upcoming home and garden tour. There's been a bit of publicity going on lately, and since several people have been asking me to post pictures, I'll go ahead and use some of the ones from the newspaper. For the complete article click above.

I'm debating turning this desk into a writing area. Somehow the thoughts of working in a round room seem very promising. Keep the ideas circulating around. Sounds very Feng shui to me (though I don't know anything about Feng shui or if it's principals are supposed to help with writing productivity at all :) ).


Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Travelling: Festivals, Conferences, Get Going

Tip of the Day: Celebrate Carmella Van Vleet's book release for Seven Wonders of the World and win a copy at MigWriters!

The Rochester Teen Book Fest is May 14! Check it out at www.teenbookfestival.org. I've been reading up for it. I just finished Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, which I highly recommend.

I know people getting ready for the SCBWI conference in California. That seems so far away, California. I'm in awe of people who can travel across the country for a couple of days, although when I was in my 20s, I used to do it all the time.

I don't have any conference plans this Spring. I'm going to hold a pretend conference, I think. You can come. Just schedule yourself blocks of time for 1) writing or drawing; 2) reading about writing online; and 3) eating a take out sandwich.

Do you have any writing-related travel plans for the Spring? Tell us about your trips when you blog about them!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages