Friday, October 31, 2008
In 2008, my greatest accomplishments were:
1. Writing 2 new books
2. Releasing my debut novel, The Emerald Tablet
3. Signing with agent Laura Rennert
4. Quitting my day job to write full time
5. Spending more time with the people I care about!
2018 I hope to have:
1. Published 10 more books
2. Met Zahi Hawas
3. A full time housekeeper
4. Someone else to cook my meals (since I rarely do)
5. Regular writing retreats with my awesome critique group
In 2008, my goals were:
1. To revise my wierd mummy book
2. Start our kitchen remodel
3. Blog a little
4. Learn to make really good Chili Rellenos so we don't have to go out for Mexican once a week
5. Not obsessively check my Amazon ranking
By 2018, I hope to:
1. Finish that kitchen remodel
2. Have a new book out every year
3. Have my kids in school so I can maybe teach part time again (we'll need the cash for that remodel)
4. Not hate gardening
5. Have completed a big bike tour with our kids with us on tandems! Europe? New Zealand? We'll see!
Greatest writing accomplishments:
1. Had an actual published book in my hands with MY name on the cover, after 10 years of work and more than 70 rejections!
2. Being a part of the Class of 2k8
3. Pulled off nearly 50 book promotion events (so far!) from signings and discussions at bookstores, libraries and schools, to radio & TV interviews to online interviews and guest blogs--including the Class of 2k8 Southern New England Mini-Tour and slumber party extravaganza all without killing myself (so far, that is)
4. Got good reviews in Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal, and was featured in Kirkus First Fiction Special Issue
5. Learned how to make a web site.
In 2018, I hope to:
1. Be making a full-time living as a writer, with a new book written every year.
2. Take at least one super-fantastic vacation to another country every year
3. Finish renovating my house and yard!!!
4. Read more books, watch more movies, listen to more concerts
5. Learn to relax and enjoy life and not run around like a crazy person all the time
We'll be seeing you Now and Later. Happy Halloween!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
In 2008, my greatest accomplishments were:
1. Seeing Bewitching Season on shelves and not fainting or doing something else embarrassing.
2. Selling a third book to Henry Holt (erm, well, my agent did but you get the idea)
3. Beginning to learn how to speak in public without too much angst and stumbling over my words. It's a work in progress, though.
4. Learning to navigate in NYC and not be intimidated by its sheer size.
5. This isn't an accomplishment...it's more a source of gratitude...but being co-president of the Class of 2k8!
By 2018 I hope to have:
1. Ten more books out (hey, isn't one a year reasonable?)
2. Learned how to write MG as well as YA because MG readers are soooo cool and just learning how to be truly passionate about books
3. Gotten this public speaking thing down well
4. Three kids successfully through college
5. A smaller dress size
In 2008, my greatest accomplishments were:
1. Publishing The Opposite of Invisible!
2. Realizing that I'm not afraid of public speaking.
3. Balancing a day job and the writing life.
4. Starting my training in kung fu (yes, I spar!).
5. Watching friends publish awesome books!
By 2018 I hope to have:
1. Co-authored a YA novel.
2. Published a few more solo YA books.
3. Stopped needing a day job!
4. Become a blue belt or higher in kung fu!
5. Watched friends publish BUNDLES more books!
In 2008, my greatest accomplishments were:
1. Publishing SLEEPLESS and BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
2. Booking author events and speaking engagements.
3. Making a strong online presence for myself.
4. Strengthening the teen programming and attendance I do at my day job.
5. Keeping my kids from killing each other.
By 2018 I hope to:
1. have built a strong, enduring, successful career as an author
2. be more financially stable.
3. stop needing a day job!
4. see my kids happy, healthy and well-adjusted in their lives (they’ll be out of the house then!)
5. have been to Hawaii and taken other great trips with my husband.
Have you met your New Year's Resolutions yet?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In 2008, my greatest writing-related accomplishments were:
1. Made my dream research trip to England
2. Saw my first YA novel La Petite Four published
3. Submitted proposals on request to an adult romance line and a new YA line
4. Met many of my 2k8 sisters in person
5. Actually learned how to blog, do MySpace, and generally have an online presence
By 2018, across my life goals, I hope to have:
1. Landed long-term contracts with two publishers, both of whom love and respect my work and my writing voice
2. Seen both my sons graduate from high school and go on to education and work in fields they love
3. Published many books in both adult and YA, earning a devoted readership that clamors for my unique characters, exciting plots, and dash of humor
4. Not let writing take over my life, so that I enjoyed time with my husband, family, and friends
5. Continued to grow closer to Jesus my Savior.
1. Published Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains
2. Published Inside the Slidy Diner
3. Actually made more money from my writing than I spent in babysitting!
4. Potty trained successfully! (my son, not me. I've been potty trained for at least a year or two))
5. Wrote my next novel, Any Which Wall!
Hopeful 2018 accomplishments:
1. Manged to avoid a desk job (and/or dress clothes) for a full decade
2. Took an actual vacation to someplace where I don't have family.
3. Healthy! Healthy! Everyone healthy!
4. Actually working out and eating well for the first time ever!5. Spent a month at a writing colony.
1. First middle grade novel launches
2. Finished my first ya novel
4. Remembered to eat...occasionally
5. Hung with the Classof2k8!!!!!!!!!
Hopeful 2018 accomplishments:
1. I'm still alive
2. I've been to Asia
3. I've written a few more and better books
4. My husband and I survive our children's teenage years
5. My children - who will then be in college - think I'm not half bad
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
1. Writing and finishing a mid-grade novel that is fun and marketable. I've always wanted to sell a MG - my agent thinks we're getting close!
2. Selling my second YA novel, FAR FROM YOU, to Simon Pulse. It comes out in just a couple of months.
3. Presenting at the Oregon conference in May, and at three different conferences this fall with members of the class of 2k8/2k9! So much fun!!
4. Watching I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME go into its fifth printing in eight months time.
5. Being a part of the amazing and successful class of 2k8!
1. more time to write as well as do fun things like travel
2. more money to do fun things like travel
3. more books on the shelf with my name on it
4. sold lots of those books with my name on it
5. a 10-year reunion somewhere fun with the class of 2k8
2. at least one picture book under contract
3. several chapters of a memoir completed4. gone to the high school or college graduation of each one of my kids, and I hope I'm thoroughly enjoying being an empty-nester
5. enough long term memory loss to forget how long (and hard) it was to get where I am today; enough long term memory to remember how fun it was
By 2018 I hope to have:
Monday, October 27, 2008
It's nearly November and we're quickly realizing just how soon our debut year will be done. No doubt it's been an exciting time for us. We'd like to take this opportunity to review our greatest accomplishments for 2008 and outline our goals for 2018, when we hope to have one heckuva ten year reunion!
In 2008, my goals were (some of these are from my list of New Year's Resolutions):
1. floss daily
2. finish Book #2
3. exercise 3x a week
4. watch more TV
5. buy cute clothes
6. survive the launch of I So Don't Do Mysteries
What I accomplished from this list:
1. I've been incredibly good about daily flossing, especially now that I've found a brand of floss that I actually like. Visit to the dentist planned for November where I will no doubt be awarded stickers for a cavity-free appointment. Which I so deserve.
2. Book #2, currently titled I So Don't Do Spooky, is done and revised and revised and copyedited. Amazingly, I still like it.
3. I'm pretty good with the exercising, although I did take off a month this summer to go to Toronto and eat some of my favorite foods like ketchup potato chips, butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, Swiss Chalet chicken.
4. I'm watching a little more TV now that I've figured out how to download (is it upload?) shows to my ipod. I watch the shows while treadmilling it at the gym. Currently, I watch The Office and sometimes Grey's Anatomy. Please feel free to give suggestions!!
5. I have failed miserably at this. Except when my friend, L, came with me to buy an outfit for my author's photo.
6. Ask me Dec. 21 (the day after my launch)
By 2018 I hope to:
1. still have my own teeth
2. have written 10 or 20 books
3. still be exercising. I'd like to try a personal trainer (if I find a really nice one who doesn't push too hard).
4. watch a reasonable amount of TV so I know what everyone's talking about
5. enjoy book signings
6. have a fashion sense or have convinced L to shop with me on a regular basis
In 2008, my greatest accomplishments were:
1. Having fun launch parties in CT and MO
2. Speaking at schools, libraries, and bookstores
3. Being able to maintain balance in my life
4. Completing the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk
5. Having fun working on my second novel
By 2018 I hope to have:
1. Lived in Europe
2. Finished a triathlon
3. Continued to have written books I'm proud of
4. Continued to have balance in my life
5. Climbed another big mountain
What's your now and later?
Sunday, October 26, 2008
SLEEPLESS author, Terri Clark, is giving away an authentic Navajo dream catcher on her blog. For your chance at sweet dreams and for a sneak peek of her paranormal thriller, click here.
Also, Terri is pleased to announce that her essay in FLIRTING WITH THE MONSTER, an anthology about Ellen Hopkins and her work, will be published by BenBella books in May of '09.
PJ Hoover celebrated the launch of her middle grade science-fiction novel THE EMERALD TABLET! THE EMERALD TABLET received a great review from Brianna over at Balanced Steps. Brianna compares THE EMERALD TABLET to Harry Potter and says this: "Anyone who enjoyed discovering the world of magic with Harry Potter will enjoy diving into a different magical world with Benjamin Holt and his friends...for you Potter fans, the experience is TOTALLY different from Harry's." Thanks, Brianna!
Tasha at And Another Book Read gave THE EMERALD TABLET a fantastic review! She had this to say: "I loved every minute that I was reading it, and I feel like I want to reread the book over and over again. ... While reading the book I kept thinking that in a way it was almost like a myth that was being told and how cool it would be if it was actually true... Fans of Rick Riordanʼs PERCY JACKSON series will particularly enjoy this book."
And Book Chic also gave THE EMERALD TABLET an awesome review including this tasty morsel: "This is a wonderful beginning to a fantasy middle-grade trilogy. Hoover's writing is extremely compelling and makes the book hard to put down." Thanks, Book Chic!
And speaking of Book Chic, this has been one busy reviewer. He's also written a great review for THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE by Liz Gallagher and plans to feature Courtney Sheinmel as November's Fresh New Voice in YA and Barrie Summy as December's Fresh New Voice in YA!
Cynthea Liu posted a fun interview with Nancy Viau, author of SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD.
Publisher's Weekly gave Courtney Sheinmel's MY SO-CALLED FAMILY a starred review and called it "smart, original and full of vitality."
Friday, October 24, 2008
On October 21, 2007 – exactly a year before My So-Called Family was set to be published, my mother invited me and a couple friends of my over for dinner. After we finished our burgers, my mom brought out a cake that said “Happy Book” across the top in bright red letters. As my fellow Class of 2k8 member, Sarah Prineas, observed, the book was -1 years old. It seemed like an important milestone to me; and really, who am I to turn down an excuse for chocolate cake?
My second book, Positively, comes out on September 8, 2009, and on September 8th of this year (the -1st birthday of Positively), I was in Lancaster, PA visiting family. Not to be outdone by my mother, my stepsister bought a cake that said “Positively Successful” in bright orange icing. She even stuck candles in it, and took pictures as her kids and I leaned forward to blow them out. The cake was delicious, and the kids were extremely generous, letting me eat most of the flowers made out of orange icing.
My book party for the official release of My So-Called Family is coming up fast – actually, by the time this blog is posted, it will already have happened. I have been planning this for so long, celebrating negative book birthdays, and not quite believing that this thing I wrote is going to be a real-live book. Almost all of the people closest to me are coming to my party – my family, my friends, my favorite teacher from college, the kids I used to babysit (and their parents too), my dentist, and even a couple members of the Class of 2k8 who live in the New York area. It’s going to be at the art gallery of a family friend; there won’t be cake, because I’m afraid of getting icing on the paintings. But there will be wine and cheese and tons of pictures.
We wish we could all be there! Thank you for spending the week with us, Courtney. Best of luck to you and MY SO-CALLED FAMILY. We look forward to reading your upcoming titles, POSITIVELY and SINCERELY, SOPHIE/SINCERELY! And now, we'd like to unveil the trailer for MY SO-CALLED FAMILY.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The acknowledgments section at the front of my book is pretty long – two pages packed full of people who supported me all through the years, and not just when I was writing. But there are four people in particular who mattered a lot during the writing of My So-Called Family: my friends Lindsay, Amy, Jackie and Llen.
Lindsay, Amy and I met during law school; Jackie and I met when we were studying for the bar; and I have known Llen for so long that I barely remember life without her. (Actually, Llen and I overcame incredible odds to become friends; I didn’t invite her to my Halloween party in the fourth grade, but she showed up anyway. The rest is history.)
I had been tossing the idea for My So-Called Family around in my head – I didn’t really know anything about it, other than who the narrator would be. I decided her name would be Leah, and I sat down and wrote a first chapter. Then, not really knowing what to do with it, I forwarded it to four of my friends. I told them they didn’t really have to read it, but in case they were bored and looking for something to do, there it was.
Within a couple of hours, I had heard back from all of them – Lindsay, Amy, Jackie and Llen said they loved it and wanted to see more. To this day, I’m not sure I would have really continued with the story if I didn’t have them rooting me on. They read the whole book, chapter by chapter, as I wrote it. If I took too long between chapters, I would get emails asking for more, pushing me forward.
My So-Called Family is dedicated to my parents – and I think they deserve the honor. But I gratefully acknowledge my wonderful friends for their love, support, and incredible cheer.
Tomorrow is our last day with Courtney, but before she goes buh-bye she shares some celebratory milestones and screens her book trailer.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
My palms have been sweating all day today, literally. I listened to Carly Simon music on my commute to work this morning, hoping that she would send luck my way and somewhere some cosmic force would make the connection between my adoration of Carly Simon and my hopefulness about publication by Simon & Schuster -- her father's company.
I'm so impatient. It is one o'clock now. I'm impressed for making it to the other side of morning. How many more hours could it be? What if I don't find out today at all? What if it is bad news? What if I never get published?
It seems so silly to reread it now. I mean, I still love Carly Simon – but I can’t believe I actually thought listening to her music would determine whether I was published . . . or maybe it did. A few hours after I sent myself that email, I received THE CALL from my agent – the second big call. I was sitting in my office right off of Wall Street in New York City, where I should have been reading legal briefs, or something like that. But instead I was listening to my agent, saying Simon & Schuster was in fact offering representation.
The next month, November of 2005, my sister and I went to Carly Simon’s concert at Lincoln Center. It was absolutely incredible – the perfect way to celebrate everything that had happened.
Now that's a story! And we know you're going to listen to Carly now. ;) Tomorrow Courtney talks about her dedication of MY SO-CALLED FAMILY.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
CS: Usually I sit on my bed with my laptop computer on my lap. Sometimes I bring my computer over to my best friend’s apartment (she lives in the same apartment building, just down the hall) and write over there. I also keep a little pad of paper in my purse so if I have an idea for a book while I’m out of the house, I can write it down before I forget.
2k8: Purse check, everyone! Now that we're prepared for emergency inspiration, tell us how the book came about? What got your started?
CS: The idea came to me in pieces – I have a friend who used a donor to have a baby, and my best friend told me about a movie that featured a number of donor kids. Then one day I was watching The Today Show, and there were a bunch of women being interviewed whose kids all had the same donor. I thought about what it would be like to have siblings you might not even know about, and the character Leah was born.
2k8: It's so awesome when puzzle pieces come together like that. How did you end up finding a publisher?
CS: I have been very, very lucky so far. When I finished my first manuscript, I called one of my professors from law school, who is also a writer. He gave me the name of his agent – I ended up signing with another agent at the same agency a few months later. After a few tweaks to the manuscript, my agent made a list of publishing houses he thought would be a good fit for me and my book, and the offer from Simon & Schuster came pretty quickly after that. The hardest part has been waiting for actual publication – I signed with Simon & Schuster almost three years ago. But it has all been well worth it.
2k8: Whoa! That is lucky. Did anything surprise you or catch you off guard while you were writing MY SO-CALLED FAMILY?
CS: I am pretty good at writing the first couple chapters of a book – it is what comes in the middle that is most difficult for me, and then I am caught off guard when I realize that I’m actually close to finishing – that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Monday, October 20, 2008
You've heard about Courtney on tour, now here's your chance to better know this debut MG author.
Courtney Sheinmel grew up in California and New York and has always loved to write. She graduated with honors from Barnard College, part of Columbia University, and attended Fordham University School of Law. After practicing law for several years, Courtney left to concentrate on her writing full-time. Her second book, POSITIVELY, will be published by Simon & Schuster on September 8, 2009, and SINCERELY, SOPHIE/SINCERELY, KATIE comes out in 2010.
Leah Hoffman-Ross just moved to New York and she wants her new friends to think she’s a typical thirteen-year-old. But Leah has a secret: she doesn’t have a father, she has a donor. Before Leah was born, her mother went to Lyon’s Reproductive Services and picked Donor 730. Now Leah has a stepfather and a little brother, and her mom thinks that they should be all the family Leah needs.
Despite her attempts to fit in and be normal, Leah can’t help but feel like something is missing. When she finds the link to the Lyon’s Sibling Registry, Leah knows she has to see if she has any half-siblings. And when she discovers that one of the other kids from Donor 730 is a girl her age, Leah will do anything to meet her—even if she has to hide it from everybody else.
"First-time novelist Sheinmel, a PW reviewer, motivates Leah insightfully and sympathetically—readers will understand her conflicts, both petty and major, as she gets to know another daughter of Donor 730 and keeps it a secret from her disapproving mother (“She's not your sister,” her mother insists when she finds out). As narrator, Leah's voice is right on key, whether describing the give-and-take of family life or revelations about what constitutes family. Smart, original and full of vitality." --PW (Starred)
“A thought-provoking and compelling debut, challenging readers to consider: ‘What makes a family?’” – Cynthia Lord, author of Newbery Honor Book Rules
“This story rocks – it’s warm, insightful, and utterly un-put-down-able” – Lauren Myracle, author of ttyl
“[O]ne of the truest self-discovery stories I have ever read” – 5 Stars, Gold Star of Excellence, courtesy of Teens Read Too
ALAN pick, September 2008
Wow! Talk about impressive reviews. Come back tomorrow for our 1-on-1 with Courtney where she'll share what part the Today Show played in inspiring MY SO-CALLED FAMILY.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Five class of 2k8ers have been mini-touring around southern New England this week. M.P. Barker, Ellen Booraem, Marissa Doyle, N.A. Nelson, and Courtney Sheinmel, have been touting the advantages of networking for writers and readers at Barnes & Noble stores in Enfield, CT, and Holyoke & Worcester, MA. Read all about them in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and the Hartford Courant.
They also squeezed a networking lunch into their schedules with kidlit writers D.Dina Friedman, Jeannine Atkins, Nancy Castaldo, Mellissa Stewart, and M.W. Penn, and assorted readers and friends, sharing the joys and woes of the writer's life. Read about it on Jeannine's blog, and see Jeannine's photos of those bright shining 2k8 faces and their bright shining books.
Come back on Monday to better get to know debut MG author, Courtney Sheinmel. It's her launch week and we can't wait to learn all about My So-Called Family.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Cades Cove is the most-visited section of the most-visited national park in America, hosting over 2 million visitors each year. If you haven’t yet visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, book your next vacation today! It is, as Autumn would say, right next to heaven!
What gorgeous pics! Thanks for everything, Kristin. We can't wait to read Autumn.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
When I was a sixth-grader at City Park Elementary School in Athens, TN, the school librarian – Shelia Rollins – held a school-wide reading contest. I won. The prize was that I got to do a telephone interview with (drum-roll, please)… Madeleine L’Engle! I remember two things from this interview: first, that it was conducted via speakerphone. It was the first time I’d seen this “new” technology, and it was the coolest thing ever. (I’m quite old.) Second, when I told Ms. L’Engle that I wanted to be a writer, she said, “Good for you! Keep reading and you can do it!”
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The scene: Early February, 2007. My editor, Wendy Loggia, calls my cell phone. I am nine months pregnant. I am AT THE OB/GYN.
Wendy: "Hello, Kristin? It's Wendy Loggia from Random House."
Me: "Oh my gosh! It's so good to hear from you! I'm at my gynocologist's office right now."
Me: "Oh, um - I should say, I'm not in the office right now - I mean, I am, but I'm checking out. I'm done." Shut up Kristin. "I mean - I'm scheduling my induction for my new baby. I was newly pregnant when we met, remember?" Shut UP, Kristin. "Everything's great! Healthy baby! I'm scheduling his arrival right now. That's why I'm at...my...OB's office..."
Wendy: laughing "I think this is a first for me."
Me: unbelievably mortified "Uh, me too?"
Wendy: "So I wanted to talk to you more about this wonderful story you sent me..."
And that was that! There, in my OB/GYN's office, I was offered my first book deal. Two weeks later, my son was born. It was one heckuva month.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
2k8: We love inside stories like that. How did it find a publisher?
KOT: I met my editor, Wendy Loggia, at an SCBWI conference in Nashville in September 2006. After critiquing Autumn, she asked to see the full manuscript, which I promptly forwarded. She requested a round of revisions prior to making her offer, so whenever I hear writers ask, “Should I really put more effort into this without a contract?,” I am the first to jump forward, yelling, “Yes! Yes! Absolutely yes!”
2k8: Doesn't that make all the difference in the world?!? Okay, now imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be. What would you write and why?
2k8: You may just start a new fad of playing telephone! Tell us what question most people won't know to ask you? And what's your answer?
Too bad she doesn't have a picture of that! Come back on Wednesday when Kristin will play a little more telephone and give us the real scoop on her "call."
Monday, October 13, 2008
I grew up in East Tennessee, near Cades Cove, where Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different is set. Autumn’s story came to me when I was on a guided tour of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There we were, standing in what was once someone’s home, and I thought: what if my home became a national park? How does something like that even happen? When I did a little research, I discovered the fascinating history of the people of Cades Cove.
No one does things like Autumn Winifred Oliver. Autumn Winifred Oliver prides herself on doing things her way. But she meets her match when she, her mama, and her pin-curled older sis, Katie, move in with her cantankerous Gramps. The Oliver gals were supposed to join Pop in Knoxville for some big-city living (they’d even sold their house!), but Gramps’s recent sick spell convinced Mama to stay put in Cades Cove, a place of swishy meadows and shady hollers that lies on the crest of the Great Smoky Mountains.
And it’s not like there’s nothing going on in the Cove. Folks are all aflutter about turning their land into a national park, and Autumn’s not sure what to think. Loggers like Pop need jobs, but if things keep going at the current rate, the forests will soon be chopped to bits. And Gramps seems to think there’s some serious tourist money to be made. Looks like something different is definitely in order…
“Tubb skillfully weaves Autumn’s internal coming of age struggles with the very real struggles faced by the people living in the hollows and hills of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, before the park existed….What makes Tubb’s story so unique and rich is her knowledge of the people, the geography, the history, and their culture. Tubb masterfully brings these folks to life….Under the exquisite language and personalities lies a true story—one that should spark classroom debate. I hope teachers everywhere add Tubb’s book to their reading lists.” BookPleasures.com
“Peppered…with Appalachian superstitions and homey, colorful phrases.” Kirkus Reviews
Kristin, we're so happy to celebrate your debut this week! And we can't wait until tomorrow when you share your "call" story with us.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Courtney Sheinmel's My So-Called Family was a September 2008 ALAN pick and it was featured as one of the four Most Promising October Releases for Teens!
The September/October issue of Instructor, Scholastic's venerable magazine for teachers, recommends "three must-read fantasies": The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and The Unnameables by our own Ellen Booraem. Nice company you keep, Ellen!
Kristin O'Donnell Tubb will be featured as the October Debut Author of the Month in the CWIM newsletter and on Alice Pope’s CWIM blog.
This week brought two great reviews for The Emerald Tablet by P. J. Hoover! Says Mrs. V at Mrs. V's Reviews, "Last night I stayed up later than I should because I just could not put down P.J. Hoover's The Emerald Tablet until I finished it!" Read the whole review here. Says Lenore at Presenting Lenore, "Eleanor did a guest review of this book for me back in July and she loved it. Now that I’ve read it I can see why." Read the whole review here. With The Emerald Tablet coming out in just a couple weeks, this is one book you don't want to miss!
Brooke Taylor's Undone and Jen Bradbury's Shift have been nominated for ALA Best Books for Young Adults. Double congratulations!
Brooke Taylor's Monster Month of Giveaways continues with Ghost Week--stop by a share your own ghost story to enter and win!
M.P. Barker's A Difficult Boy and Courtney Sheinmel's My So-Called Family were two of ALAN Online's September picks.
HarperTeen is giving a special sneak peek of Terri Clark's YA thriller, Sleepless. To read the first four chapters click here!
Five members of the Class of 2k8 will be touring Massachusetts and Connecticut in mid-October, presenting a panel discussion called "Networking for Writers and Readers, or How Many People Does It Take to Get a Book Written and Sold?"
The saying goes that "It takes a village to raise a child" -- in the literary world one might say, "It takes a village to publish a book." A common misconception is that writing is a solitary pursuit. Our panel will dispel that myth by describing the support networks that helped us on our journey from first word to finished product. Writers will pick up tips on creating networks of their own, and non-writers will gain insight into how many others (and who) it really takes to create that book that they hold in their hands. The panel will be at the Barnes & Noble store in Enfield, CT, on Thursday, October 16, at 4 p.m. (information: 860-745-7756); in Holyoke, MA, Friday, October 17, at 4 p.m (information: 413-532-1786); and in Worcester, MA, Saturday, October 18, at 2 p.m. (information: 508-853-2236). All events are free and open to the public. The panelists will be M.P. Barker (A Difficult Boy, Holiday House), Ellen Booraem (The Unnameables, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Marissa Doyle (Bewitching Season, Henry Holt), N.A. Nelson (Bringing the Boy Home, HarperCollins), and Courtney Sheinmel (My So-Called Family, Simon & Schuster). For more information and an online media kit, go to: http://mpbarker.net/work3.htm
Come back on Monday to meet MG author Kristin O'Donnell Tubb!
Friday, October 10, 2008
The Unnameables characters in a painting by Rob Shillady, painted after the first draft. That’s Medford at lower left, with Prudy and her brother Earnest standing behind him, the Goatman and dog at right. In the background is a character who no longer exists, plus the unpleasant Deemer Learned; his daughter, Essence, and the Constable brothers.We’re on Island, in the auditorium on the second floor of Town Hall. It’s set up for Book Learning: a dozen or so student desks in rows before the Council table and the map of Island and Surrounding Waters taking up half the front wall. Ellen is sitting at the Council table with Medford and his friend Prudy. The Goatman is sitting on the floor beside a pile of scrap paper left over from Book Learning.
On a lectern nearby is the Book , whose real name is A Frugall Compendium of Home Arts and Farme Chores by Capability C. Craft (1680), as Amended and Annotated by the Island Council of Names (1718–1809).
ELLEN: So, Medford, did you know you’re in a book yourself now?
PRUDY: How can someone be “in” a book?
ELLEN: Excuse me, Prudy. I was talking to Medford.
MEDFORD: I was going to ask the same thing anyway.
ELLEN: I’ve written a book called The Unnameables. It describes what happened to you last year, after the Goatman arrived.
PRUDY: How is that of any Use?
MEDFORD: I was going to ask that, too.
THE GOATMAN (stuffing a wad of paper into his mouth and chewing): It’s a ta-a-a-ale.
ELLEN: Exactly. It tells people what happened, so they know about it. (Whispers to Medford) And maybe they’ll enjoy reading it.
PRUDY: I heard that. Just as I thought…Useless. Maybe Unnameable.
ELLEN: Well, people could draw their own conclusions from what happened to you all. That’s probably Useful.
PRUDY: Why would they care? They don’t even live here.
MEDFORD: Does this book have me telling people how to do things? Because I don’t know how to do very much.
PRUDY: False modesty be as bad as bragging, the Book says. Thou knowst how to carve. And thou didst help Pa to build thy cabin.
MEDFORD: You’re talking Book Talk again.
PRUDY (stiffly): The occasion demanded it.
THE GOATMAN: Is it a good book?
ELLEN (stiffly): What do you mean?
THE GOATMAN (swallowing a wad of paper): I hope it tastes better than thi-i-is stuff.
PRUDY: I still don’t understand how one can be “in” a book.
MEDFORD: I think she just means she wrote about me in her journal. I don’t understand why, though.
GOATMAN: This book must be bi-i-ig. Do you cut a hole to get in, or is there a door?
ELLEN: Never mind. Forget I said anything.
Thank you for celebrating your debut with us this week, Ellen! Best of luck to you and The Unnameables.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The acknowledgements page in The Unnameables lists at least 25 people, mostly because I distributed the first draft far and wide to get critiques before I even thought about approaching an agent.
But the list also includes an entire town, which is another 900 people or so. Maybe this is a record for Most Populated Acknowledgments. I’ll have to check.
The town is Brooklin, Maine, where I’ve lived for 24 years as of October 11. Rob and I moved there from Providence, Rhode Island, looking for a place where we could afford to work part-time while he painted and I wrote. He’s the one who actually ended up doing what we intended. I got fascinated by the local weekly newspapers and ended up working more than full time as a reporter and editor—until the day came when I dropped everything to write this novel.
It’s gorgeous in coastal Maine, but that’s not the reason we’re still in Brooklin. In part, it’s the sense of being looked-out-for. No smoke coming from your chimney on a frigid day will win you a knock on the door to make sure you’re OK. (And, when you say you’re fine, the person goes away and leaves you to get on with it, unless you invite him in for coffee.)
When a bunch of teenagers committed vandalism a decade or so ago, the result was not the threat of joovie but a new town-sponsored summer program called The Brooklin Youth Corps. Voters fund it every year without a peep, even though the town already pays through the nose for its tiny elementary school. And for each of the 60 kids in that school, there’s at least one townsperson volunteering there.
We have our disagreements and moments of grumpiness, of course. The fight we had about town governance two or three years ago got regional, if not national, press coverage. But then it all settles down.
When I told people I’d quit a perfectly good job to write a children’s novel, with no evidence that any publisher would ever want it, nobody said, “Are you nuts?” Instead, they said, “Huh. Great idea. Can’t wait to read it.”
Who could leave a town like this?
Who, indeed! Come back tomorrow for Ellen's interview with her characters.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Goatman is an important character in The Unnameables. He provides most of the comic relief, and also kicks off the crisis that puts Medford at risk but eventually improves his life.
The Goatman has horns and hooves. He wears a purple robe, and walks with a staff. He eats the table linens. He can call down the wind, but he can’t control it.
Where did the ideas behind the Goatman come from? Three answers are below. Two are true and one is a lie. A signed copy of The Unnameables to the first poster to guess the lie.
1. My partner Rob Shillady invented Medford Runyuin as a cartoon character when he was just graduated from art school, and added the Goatman as a sidekick. The Goatman idea supposedly came from the Elizabethan narrative poem The Faerie Queene, even though I refuse to believe Rob read any part of it. In the poem, a group of goatmen (satyrs) rescue the heroine, and their leader helps her reach paradise. In Rob’s version, the Goatman and his people live in a fantasy world with a bunch of naked nymphs. I conducted a nymph-ectomy before stealing the character for my book.
2. My partner Rob Shillady spent part of his childhood in Washington, D.C., where there has been a persistent urban myth about the Maryland Goatman. This goatman supposedly lives in the woods of Prince George’s County and stalks lovers’ lanes. (At least one of his stories borrows from the urban legend about “The Hook”). Some tales identify him as just a crazy old man, but others insist he is part-human, part goat, the result of government genetic experiments. These tales resonated with Rob, and he cleaned them up to create an entertaining sidekick for Medford.
3. In college, I read Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, which says that Greek tragedy is the perfect art form because of the way it combines the Apollonian and the Dionysian. (Meaning, roughly, order and chaos, the Greek god Apollo being an orderly character compared to the fun-loving, wine-soaked Dionysius.) Many years later, my faulty recollection of Nietzsche pitted Medford and his society (the Apollonian) against the Goatman (the Dionysian).
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
We're back today to better get to know Ellen. Please pull up a chair and join us for a little chat.
2k8: Welcome, Ellen. Please tell us where you do most of your writing?
Ellen: I have a room of my own! It’s tiny, and when we first built our house it doubled as a guest room. But that was OK because my main office was at whatever newspaper employed me at the time. Then we built an addition for my elderly mother, and after she was gone the addition became the guest room. So when I quit my job and started writing The Unnameables I took over the whole office for myself, along with hundreds of books.
Unlike most of the house, this room isn’t actually finished—it has no window trim or molding, and the floor is painted plywood. It’s always a mess, partly because I try to cram so much stuff into so little space. But it has a door that closes, and that’s the important thing.
2k8: That is important. Can you please tell us how the book came about? What got you started writing it?
Ellen: In 1984, I sat down to write a picture book for my partner, Rob, to illustrate. The two main characters were Rob’s alter-ego, Medford Runyuin, and his sidekick, the Goatman, both of whom Rob had been putting in recreational paintings since art school.
The story got away from me, and before I knew it I was writing a novel for older kids. I wrote a terrible first draft, then stuck it in a drawer and plunged into community journalism in the coastal Maine county to which we’d just moved. I thought I’d forgotten all about it, but some part of my brain kept working on it.
Fifteen years later, I started writing it again from scratch. Medford, who had been an adult, turned into a young teenager. The Goatman acquired hooves (he’d worn sandals in the first version) and the power to summon the wind, although not to control it. The setting changed from an isolated town to an isolated island.
There isn’t an illustration to be found, other than a couple of maps done by a stranger. Secretly, Rob is very relieved.
2k8: Wow! What an evolution. How did it find a publisher? Give us the scoop.
Ellen: The area where I live is rife with creative types, especially in the summer. Our town’s literary heritage includes Charlotte’s Web by longtime resident E.B.White. (Charlotte’s settings are based on our county fair and White’s own farm.)
The summer after I finished the new version of my book, I showed it to Bill Henderson, the founding editor and publisher of the Pushcart Prize and Pushcart Press. He lives in a neighboring town during the summer, and runs what he claims is the world’s smallest bookstore.
Bill and his wife, writer Genie Chipps Henderson, liked the book and sent it to Kate Schafer, then a colleague of Bill’s agent at Janklow & Nesbit. She took it on and submitted it to six publishers, all of whom rejected it. They gave me really good critiques, though, so I revised the manuscript before Kate showed it to Kathy Dawson at Harcourt Children’s Books (now part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Kathy bought it about a year after Kate and I had started working together.
Kate now has moved to Colorado and started her own agency, k.t. literary. I stayed with her, of course, because she’s amazing. Matching the book up with Kathy Dawson was a stroke of genius— Kathy immediately understood the characters and the point of the book, but also diagnosed its problems in a way no one else had done before. And now we’re working together on my next book, temporarily called The Filioli.
2k8: That's an incredible story. So, did anything surprise you or catch you off guard when you were writing The Unnameables?
I had tried twice before to quit my job and write fiction, and both times I lost interest after two or three months and sought gainful employment. Part of the problem was that I stopped having fun and didn’t have the wherewithal to force my way through the shady bits and back into the light on the other side.
This time, I was determined to stick with it. But when I hit my first “writer’s block” about a month in, I thought, “Uh-oh. Here we go.” I considered various folk charms and shamanistic rites. But then, to my great joy, I discovered that I could write my way out of the problem by choosing a character and brainstorming a journal entry or two in that character’s voice. Sometimes what I wrote never made it into the book, but the process always got the juices flowing again.
So far, the method is foolproof. (Knock on wood.)
2k8: That's a great technique. Thanks for sharing it. Now imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be (though of course it might not be). What story would you want to write and why?
Ellen: This is that book, and Harcourt is that publisher. On its surface, The Unnameables is not a supremely marketable book. It doesn’t really fit a genre, and there isn’t a swash or a buckle to be found anywhere, nor a magic wand. I still can’t believe anyone was willing to take it on. And it’s ten times the book it was when Kathy Dawson got her hands on it.
2k8: Incredible! Won't you please tell us what question most people won't know to ask you? And what's your answer?
Ellen: Probably no one would ever think to ask me if I am fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
The answer is no, I’m not.
Monday, October 6, 2008
This month we're thrilled to have three debut authors. Our first celebration is for Ellen Booraem and her MG fantasy, The Unnameables.
“The Unnameables” is a whimsical fantasy set on an island where everyone is named for what he or she does. The hero is a 13-year-old foundling boy named Medford Runyuin, whose meaningless name underscores his status as an outsider in a rigid, orderly society. Medford has a dangerous secret that just keeps getting worse as he gets older. A smelly, chaotic goatman shows up to expose the secret, kicking off a chain of events that changes Medford’s life—and his island—forever.
Ellen quit a job she loved—arts and special sections editor for the county newspaper—to take her third stab at writing a novel. This time, it worked! Before taking the plunge, she had been writing and editing for rural weeklies for nearly twenty years. Before that, she wrote and edited employee newsletters for corporations and college publications.
Ellen and her partner, artist Rob Shillady, moved to coastal Maine from southern New England in 1984. In the early 90s, they bought land in their tiny town (population: 800) and built a house with their own hands (mostly Rob’s, since one of his day jobs had been carpentry). They live there now with a dog named Calamity Jane and a cat named McGonagall, after the Harry Potter professor who can turn herself into a cat.
Ellen is a founding director of the Brooklin Youth Corps, a summertime work and self-esteem program for teens. She is a mentor and writing coach at the local school, and freelances for the newspaper where she used to work.
Here’s what Kirkus Reviews had to say about The Unnameables:
(Starred Review) On Island, “thou art thy name.” At age 14, residents receive their names and their vocations from the Council. A cook becomes Cook, a tanner becomes Tanner and everyone follows the rules set forth in Capability C. Craft’s Frugall Compendium of Home Arts and Farme Chores (1680). Thirteen-year-old foundling Medford Runyuin hopes to be designated Carver, like his foster father. He also hopes no one will discover the Unnameable objects he’s created and hidden under his bed: They could cause his exile to Mainland forever. The Council puts off naming him, however, and he must continue to work hard for acceptance. When someone nameless and possibly Unnameable enters his life, all his plans—and the islanders’ way of life—could be in for drastic changes…but after 300 years, is that necessarily a bad thing? Booraem’s debut is an ever-surprising, genre-defying page-turner. Realistic characters deal with philosophical problems in vivid, flowing prose that is evocative and often funny. A sort of combination of witch-trial-era Salem and The Giver, this book offers a treat with nearly every page turn.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Fortunately several 2k8ers got to hang out at the Eastern PA SCBWI event where Laurel Snyder, Liz Gallagher, Nancy Viau and Daphne Grab presented a panel on the differences between MG and YA. They also chatted about their paths to publication, inspiration, what keeps them going, what writers can do to keep from quitting when the going gets tough, and general marketing stuff.
Laurel, Liz, Nancy & DaphneEvery children's author -- especially every new children's author -- loves to get mail from parents, telling them how much they and their children enjoyed the book. When they mention it in public, and when that public mention appears in an article citing many classic titles and prolific authors ... that thrill moves toward the top of the Jolt Meter. Wanna know what we're talking about? Click here to see what one homeschool parent calls the best kept secret for teaching your kids and look for her mention of Jody Feldman's The Gollywhopper Games.
Zu Vincent's The Lucky Place is on the Top Shelf Fiction list for 2008 at "Friends of Palms Middle School," one of only four schools chosen to select the 30 best middle school fiction books published between October 2007 and September 2008 for Voya (Voice of Youth Young Advocates).
And Linda Fischer at SSBRC (South Sound Book Review Council) gives The Lucky Place a recommended review saying, "I believe this book may become one of my best read "Girl Books"...Girls will love it."
Last Saturday 2k8ers Lisa Shroeder and Zu Vincent teamed up with 2k9 author Roseanne Parry to give a panel on group blogging at Portland's Kidlit Bloggers Conference. The conference was filled with amazing authors, book lovers, and bloggers. And the general buzz said group blogs like ours are the wave of the future!
Stop by the kidlit blogspot to hear more including Kim Kasch's sound bites of Zu and Lisa.
And don't forget to nominate your favorite books for the Cybils, the children's and young adult bloggers' literary award. We hope you'll consider our 2k8 titles.
Lastly, look for THREE, count them, 1-2-3, author launches this month! On Monday we're pleased to introduce you to Ellen Booraem, MG author of The Unnameables.