Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The class is dead...

Long live the class!!!

We've had a big year here at the CLASS OF 2K8. And now, as the year comes to a close, we're sad to say goodbye to our astounding debut experience, but also thrilled to leap into all the new books and adventures in store.

Who can tell what will happen to all of us in this next stretch?

Awards? Movie options? Will Oprah gather one of us to her bosom? Will one of us become involved in a SCANDAL?

I'd ask that anyone who cares to offer a 2009 prediction for our authors, or the book world in general, do so in the comments below...

And with that, we leave you now with a giant THANK YOU! Thank you for following along on our odd journey with us, and thank you for reading.

And we hope that you'll do the same for the CLASS OF 2k9!!!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Our School Librarian Contest

After the crazy busy holidays, we're catching up with business. Good thing, too, because 2008 is drawing to a close.

So, today on the blog, we're wrapping up our School Librarian Contest. You didn't really think we'd forgotten, did you? Never. Never. Never. We love our librarians too too much for that!

Without further ado, let's choose the SIX winners...

First, we drag down our Official 2k8 Blog Bowl, dust it off and toss in the names of our many contestants.

Then, we break out the Official 2k8 Spoon and stir up all those bits of papers. Because we are all about fair here in our classroom.

Here's Barrie Summy's (I So Don't Do Mysteries) Child #4 who has loads of experience with random blog drawings. She has donned her beautiful and professional choosing shoes for this special occasion. She stirs the bowl and begins pulling names.

Amidst fanfare and drum rolls, here are our THREE third place winners. Congratulations ERIN FITZPATRICK-BJORN, MARCIA KOCHEL AND KAREN LEE! You'll each receive three books from the Class of 2k8 for your school library.

Let's hear it for COLETTE EASON and ANGELA SANDERS, our TWO second place winners! You'll each get a $50 gift certificate from Indie Bound (formerly BookSense) plus three books from the Class of 2k8 to add to your school library.

And here she is, folks, our grand prize winner, STEPHANIE ROUS! STEPHANIE wins her choice of a full set of the 27 Class of 2k8 books OR a free author visit from a Class of 2k8 author in your region (if available)!

A huge bloggy thank-you to all our marvelous contestants. The anecdotes and quotations (many of which were featured on the blog during November) were amazing and heartwarming. Thank you, thank you, thank you for playing. And, even more than that, thank you for the fantastic job you do, passing the love of books onto students.

Stephanie, Colette, Angela, Erin, Marcia and Karen--our people will be in touch with your people. :) Congrats again!

Check in tomorrow for our second last post of the year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Last chat with Liz...

Today, we asked Liz Gallagher to tell us some things about her first year as a published author.

Liz, what was the most amazing thing that happened to you this year?

I was at one of the big conferences, super-excited to be with my Vermont College friends. My book wasn't out yet, but some of theirs were (Hi, Sarah Aronson, Class of 2k7!). A friend who shall remain nameless and I waited in the long signing line to get Markus Zusak to sign The Book Theif. We totally fan-girled out about how much we love the book (and, privately, how he's the hottie of YA lit!). That night, we went to a cocktail party. And guess who else was there? Yes, Markus Zusak. So, after being adoring fans, we realized -- wow! -- that we're authors too, now, and we get to go to the author parties!

And how about the thing that has been most frustrating (be honest)?

The most frustrating thing this year was learning how many books get passed up completely by the chain bookstores. Yay, IndieBound! I'm so thankful for their efforts to make readers aware of a range of choices -- both in places and ways to shop, and in books themselves.

Last question-- tell us about the thing that wouldn't have happened without 2k8?

Because of 2k8, I feel like I experienced twenty-seven first-time novel releases this year, not just my own. I got to commisserate with and learn from all of the other class members. I love that the class decided to propose conference panel discussions together -- without 2k8, I wouldn't have done as much public speaking as I did this year. I might've done one or two events, but I can guarantee I would've been way more stressed out and a lot less interesting without other 2k8 class members speaking along with me.

Most amazing? Most frustrating?

Today, we asked Sarah Prineas to recap, and tell us about her debut year...

Sarah? What was the most amazing thing that happened to you in 2008?

A lot of weird and amazing stuff has happened in the six months since The Magic Thief came out, but probably the coolest was the UK tour. The book's UK publisher, Quercus, brought me over for a week in September. I did school visits and signings in the London area and Bristol, and--the most amazing thing--participated in a panel at the Bath Festival of Children's Literature.

Now, my book was blurbed by one of the authors I'd put on the list of "dream blurbers" that my editor asked me for, and that was Diana Wynne Jones. Just getting an invitation to the Bath Festival was a big freaking deal, but then I found out that I was slated to present on a panel with DWJ herself, and also with YA fantasy author Mary Hoffman.

The day itself was kind of crazy. I had a school visit that morning in Bristol, and after six days of busy-ness was starting to get a little tired out. Plus, DWJ's travel curse meant that part of a building had to explode in downtown Bath, causing all the traffic in the city to come to a standstill. Despite a late start, the show went on. The panel itself was a thrill. We each read a little snippet from our books (DWJ read from The House of Many Ways and Mary from her latest Stravaganza book), and then we settled down for a moderated chat. It was a delight! I wasn't nervous at all. Then we signed. There I was, signing books next to DWJ!!! I seriously had to pinch myself. DWJ's fans absolutely adore her; it was very fun to see. After that, along with my publicist and the Festival organizer, John McLay (who had a lot to do with my book's international sales), a couple of other people, and Mary Hoffman (who was a really entertaining conversationalist), I went out for drinks and then a fancy dinner at a French restaurant. Then a walk back to the hotel through the cobbled streets of Bath. Pretty amazing.

And how about the most frustrating thing?

I am going to tell you a secret thing about writers:


Yes, it's true. It's a theory, anyway. We write partly because we enjoy creating worlds and creating characters and then controlling everything about them.

*pause for maniacal laughter*

Yet while it might satisfy our detail-oriented, micromanaging selves, the control aspect of writing can also lead to enormous frustration, especially after the book is published. Because once it is finished and out in the world, the control-freak author can no longer control the book, or anyone's reaction to it, or whether anybody buys it or not, and that is...

...well, "frustrating" is one word for it.

My book came out in June. I spent most of July absolutely obsessing over the tiniest details having to do with the book. I called that stupid Ingram's warehouse number at least once a day; I stopped in to my local bookstore to see how many copies they had left. I even (oh, the shame) checked the book's ranking on amazon.com.

Of course all of these numbers are just about meaningless, but checking them meant I had *control*--somehow--over how the book was doing.

It was a terrible month.

Finally the "frustration" got to be too much and I quit the obsession cold turkey. I started a word file and kept it on my computer desktop. It says this:




So that has been the most frustrating thing, a very difficult, hair-tearing, teeth-grinding thing. Just...letting go.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The last three questions: Lisa Schroeder...

Today we're checking in with Lisa Schroeder, as she looks back on her year. Lisa, what was the most amazing thing that happened in 2008?

I wish I could say the most amazing thing that happened to me this year was that I traveled to Switzerland or had my book made into a movie or sang on stage with the Goo Goo Dolls. But alas, none of those things happened. In fact, I didn't even travel outside my home state of Oregon! So really and truly, the most amazing thing was having my debut novel released and getting a great response from readers. It was a fun year!

And the most frustrating thing?

The thing that has been most frustrating is not having enough hours in the day to do everything I need and want to do. I basically have three jobs – first a mother, then a Compensation Analyst, and finally, a writer. I want to do it all wonderfully and of course, some days I'm lucky if I get anything done at all. On the other hand, I'm very thankful for my rich and full life and I count my blessings every day.

And is there anything you don't think would have happened if you hadn't joined the Class of 2k8?

Well, I spoke at two conferences in Portland that I probably wouldn't even have known about if it weren't for the class – the PNW Booksellers Association and the OASL/WLMA (school librarian) Joint Conference. It was great meeting some of my classmates and getting some presentation experience under my belt.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The end of 2k8...

This week, as we say goodbye to our debut year, we consider our highlights, our frustrations, and the things we wouldn't have had without this, our class!

Today we visit with Ellen Booraem. Ellen, what was the most amazing thing that happened to you this year?

Because I’m a mundane sort of person, the amazing things that happened to me this year were right in character. A little girl in Eastport, Maine, noticed a place where I was trying to be funny that nobody else had ever caught. The first kid who asked me to sign a book, back in September, got all excited when she found out she was the first. I talked to readers who found things in The Unnameables that I didn’t know I’d put there. No celebrities, no champagne toasts … just the kind of quiet glow that means everything to me.

Anything you found difficult about it, despite how fabulous it was?

The biggest frustration, I’d say, was my own ineptitude on the marketing side of things. I dropped my galleys at the independent bookstore in a nearby city over the summer, and this fall kept hearing that they hadn’t stocked it, even though it was doing well in other local stores and in stores across the country. OK, I thought, they didn’t think much of the book. At the end of November, I got my courage in my hands and went back with another galley. Of course, the problem turned out to be an oversight, which they hastily corrected. Now, why didn’t I do that earlier? Just another ill-timed attack of self-doubt, I’m afraid.

And is there anything you think would have been different if you hadn't joined the Class of 2k8?

I don’t like to think what would have happened to me without the expertise and support of my 2k8 pals. I would have no Web presence at all, and no sense of what’s “normal” about this process. Without the daily emails about fellow 2k8ers’ problems and questions, without their wisdom and reassurance, I’d be a gibbering wreck right now.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seasonal books for you...

Today, the last of our holiday book suggestions, from Michelle Barker:

I never EVER get sick of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (with original illustrations) – although the only holiday part is that the boy receives the rabbit for Christmas – but still, a good Christmas read, I think. I always thought of my stuffed animals as “real” when I was little, and this book confirmed it for me (which, unfortunately, makes it REALLY difficult for me to get rid of anything today!)

I wonder what you, our readers, think? Are there any books you love to read at the holidays, besides the usual suspects?