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?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Non-holiday books for the holidays...

Daphne Grab isn't Jewish, and The All of a Kind Family isn't technically a Chanukah book, and yet...

Daphne has this to say:

My favorite book for all holidays is All of a Kind Family, both the original and all the sequels. They capture the magic of each Jewish holiday with such a simple and truthful touch. I'm not Jewish but when I was a kid I wanted to be after my mom read me these books. They are about a working class family living in Manhattan around World War I (some books are before, some during, some after) and are a marvelous slice of history; the kind of novels that take you back in time with totally universal stories that resonate with readers of all ages, living in the present day. You get a feel for life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, with the tenement houses, the polio outbreak, renting summer houses on Coney Island, etc. And you also get a feel for holidays.

Chanukah is beautiful, with the descriptions of foods, the lighting of the candles and the story behind the day. In the hands of a less capable writer it might come off as a primer for the Jewish holidays but instead you as a reader want to know the background as much as the kids in the story do. Papa is generally the one to give everyone the lowdown and the kids all have questions about their history. There's such a beauty in the love he has for each day and the pride he feels in sharing that with his kids. Which to me is what the holidays are all about!

Beyond the Grinch...

In talking about Christmas books you may not know, Jen Bradbury offers this:

Since my daughter's birth I've become increasingly convinced that picture book writers are the smartest, most talented people on earth. It takes a special gift to craft a tale that's as entertaining for a two year old as it is for a parent. And even more rare is that story that both parent and child don't mind reading over and over again. And holiday titles are even trickier. But we were lucky enough to stumble upon a winner.

Mem Fox's Wombat Divine quickly earned a spot in our rotation last year after we discovered this gem at our local library. From the first reading we all fell in love with Wombat. He hopes to participate in the nativity, but is too clumsy to be a wise man, too sleepy to play Joseph. By the end of the book, Wombat finds the perfect role to play, and readers (at least the ones in my home) are as satisfied and amused by his casting as he is. It's one of those holiday books that has humor and warmth and a lovely nod to spirit of the season, all without being saccharine. Plus, the book features a cast of Australian animals, demanding read alouds be performed with your best Aussie accent. And what's not to love about that?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Books You Must Acquire...

From Stacy Nyikos, a family favorite:

The Red Ranger Came Calling by Berkeley Breathed

A total Christmas classic at our house, this picture book is the story that Breathed's father told many years on Christmas eve about the Christmas he spent during the Depression on a Northwest island with his aunt.

His faith in Santa had sorely been tested, its being the Depression and presents being scarce. The particular year was shaping up to be no different. He'd wished for a Red Ranger bicycle but got an old pair of pajamas that his aunt has painstakingly turned into a Red Ranger outfit.

At the same time, he meets an old geezer who truly believes himself to be none other than the jolly Claus himself. And the boy finds himself trusting and believing, despite all of life's experiences that tell him otherwise.

The ending has a neat twist and a surefire conclusion that will have even the most resolute doubters questioning their steadfast views. A must read. We dive into it every year under the tree on Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Books That Don't Suck...

We've spent an entire year talking about our own books on this blog, but now, as we head into the holiday season, the Class of 2k8 wants to give you some suggestions for holiday books you aren't sick to death of.

Today, Laurel Snyder's pick:

Our holiday book of the day is a classic, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins which was kindly sent to my kids by my friend Tamar, after I vented that I detest most of the holiday picture books on the market. She assured me Hershel would delight.

And he does!

The fabulous and Grinchy goblins that seek to ruin Hanukkah are outwitted by the clever Hershel. And readers barely notice that the book is actually a retelling (of sorts) of the Hanukkah/oil story . A testament to how a clever Jew, with a little faith and passion, and a sense of humor, (plus, perhaps a little help from beyond)can undo powerful enemies.

As a rule, I'm known to despise holiday books. They can be message-y and obvious. But this one is great!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shameless Saturday...

The year may be winding down, but the Class is still on fire!

Brigham Young University Education Librarian Rachel Wadham has selected Michele Barker's book, A Difficult Boy as one of the 12 best YA books for 2007/08

Also, her work-in-progress, which is a sequel to A Difficult Boy, received a letter of merit from SCBWI's Work-in-Progress Grant competition (okay, she'd'd rather have the grant, but it's nice to be acknowledged!)

In a related story, both Michele and Jody Feldman, author of The Gollywhopper Games, were shortlisted by the Eva Perry Mock Newbery Book Club!

And the biggest news of the week is that our own Elizabeth Bunce has been nominated for the ALA's William C. Morris Award!!! For her novel, a Curse Dark as Gold.


Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Been Fun, Barrie Summy!

It's already Friday and our last day of launch week for Barrie Summy, debut author of the humorous tween mystery I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES.

But before we give her the big Class of 2k8 send-off into the exciting world of book signings and contracts and new books (well, yes, and kids and homework and colds and sports and piano lessons), we have a few more questions we'd like her to answer.

Question #1: So, Barrie, where do you work?

Well, this is where my family wishes I worked. It's a nice compact desk with doors. I bought the whole kit and kaboodle expressly for writing purposes.

Instead, I work here. Right in the thick of things.

When it gets too chaotic even for me, I escape to this coffee shop with a quiet back room and free wireless.

And when a deadline looms, I've been known to check into a skanky hotel.

And this is where I plotted I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES. Seriously. I swam laps three to four times a week. And there's lots of time of time for thinking when you're swimming back and forth...and back and forth...and back and forth.

Wow. A swimming writer. Very cool. Okay, Barrie, it's the end of the week. And you know that everything you share on this blog, stays on this blog. So, how's about it? What's a question no one would know to ask you?

Well, you already know how much I love licorice, right? So, each year in my Christmas stocking, my husband puts a large package of licorice. He lets me nosh on a small amount, then hides the packages and doles out minuscule portions to me each day.


I know where he hides it.

That is so perfect. Thanks for sharing your launch week with us,Barrie Summy. Now, everyone out there in the blogosphere, don't you want to pick up a copy of I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES and...

Meet reluctant sleuth Sherry Holmes Baldwin!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

a defunct laptop + Rachel Vater

There will only be an uber mini post here today because...

Child #4 spilled an entire cup of water over the keyboard of my laptop.

Can you say fried?


Oh? You wonder how I'm managing to post this?

Magic. Pure and simple. (Did no one tell you we hold our classes at Hogwarts?)

But would we, at the Class of 2k8, leave you postless on this glorious Thursday in December. Uh, no!

Go directly to Rachel Vater's blog. Rachel's my agent. She's a huge sweetheart, a tough negotiator and basically the type of person that makes you want to move to New York (even though they have nasty winters) so you can hang out together.

GO TO RACHEL VATER'S BLOG HERE. And, blush blush, she's blogging about me.

~Today's uber mini-post was brought to you by Barrie Summy, debut author of the humorous tween mystery I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES. (Like you didn't know it was me!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The entire Class of 2k8 huddles around the fancy schmancy espresso coffee machine at the back of our classroom. And, yeah, it's squishy.

Class: So, Barrie, how was your launch day?

Barrie Summy: It was so wonderful that I cried.

The class nods knowingly.

Barrie: And I just want to say thank you to the nth degree to Warwick's and especially to Susan, Event Coordinator Extraordinaire, for making my very first book signing ever so much FUN! And for making me feel welcome and comfortable. Susan was calm and organized and all over the place at the same time.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of Susan. Because I wasn't overly calm or organized or thinking about the blog.

Thank you to DH and Child #4 for coming down. Their presence was invaluable. I loved how Child #4 kept filling up my book display when it started to run low.

(left to right) Liz, Eileen, Barrie, Cindy

And yay yay for my great friends who came to offer support! They drove all the way to La Jolla, bought books and hung out with me at the bookstore. Some took me to dinner before the signing. Some took me for drinks and Mexican afterwards until late. Even though it was a school night.

Barrie and fellow blogger San Diego Momma who is incredibly cool!

Thank you to all the shoppers who stopped to chat and buy books. They were beyond friendly.

And thank you to Fellow Classmate, Nancy Viau, author of Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head. Nancy sent a mystery visitor to buy her a copy of I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES.

Barrie and Rick, Nancy Viau's wonderful son

Here he is. He's Nancy's adorable, interesting, amiable, fun son Rick. Thank you, Rick.

Guess what, guys? I'm exhausted. I didn't get any homework done. My house is a mess. My dog wants a walk.


See ya!

I'm playing hooky for the rest of the day!

I'll get notes from somebody tomorrow.


Class of 2k8: Join us tomorrow when Barrie shows us where she writes. And can we just say "non-traditional"?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shhh...Cyber Surprise Party for Barrie Summy

Class of 2k8: Shhh....Everybody, come on in. Quickly. Keep the lights dimmed. We're throwing a cyber surprise party for Barrie Summy.


BECAUSE IT'S THE ACTUAL RELEASE DATE OF HER HUMOROUS TEEN MYSTERY I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES AND SHE HAS HER VERY FIRST SIGNING THIS EVENING!** (Classmate slaps hands to mouth and starts whispering) The actual date. And we have gifts to help her through the day. (points to pile of wrapped presents in classroom corner) Now, find somewhere to hide.

(Twenty-six creative classmates scurry to crouch under desks and behind chairs. The door opens.)

Barrie: Hello! (turns on lights)

Class of 2k8: SURPRISE!!

Barrie: (hanging onto desk for support) Wow, you guys. Just wow. (She looks super shocked.)

And here are the gifts...

a variety of utensils to sign your book

a really cute rhino stamp for next to your signature

adorable teal and purple ink pads

licorice because we know how much you love it

And...your very own book trailer for I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES!

Barrie: You guys are THE best! A million thank-yous!

**p.s. Barrie really is signing tonight. So, if you're anywhere near San Diego, go see her at Warwick's, 7812 Girard Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037, 6:00-8:00PM, Dec. 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Our Last Book Launch: Barrie Summy!

Yes, peeps, it's true. We're launching our very last classmate this week.

Please lift your glasses in an enthusiastic clink for Barrie Summy and her humorous tween mystery I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES.

                          Ya gotta admit this cover's a beaut!

And here's the hot-off-the-press scoop!

A girl. A guy. A ghost. A heist. Yikes!

Sherry (short for Sherlock) Holmes Baldwin wants more mall time, less homework and a certain cute guy. Instead she's recruited by her mother's ghost to prevent a rhino heist at San Diego's Wild Animal Park.

Meet reluctant sleuth Sherry Holmes Baldwin!

And, believe us, you'll totally fall for this hilarious, sassy, resistant, cell-phone-toting heroine as she juggles a tricky mystery, a ghost-mother, a doubting BFF and, of course, Josh Morton, the coolest, cutest guy in the Southwest .

I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES (the first in the series) goes on sale tomorrow, Tuesday, December 9. Head down to your local Barnes & Nobles or your neighborhood indie or order online here.

Ya know what's really got Barrie excited? She's finally caught up with the rest of the class. And the next time we do a group signing, she'll have her very own book to sign too.

Congratulations, Barrie, you're a Real Published Author now!

Enjoy your launch week on our blog!

Come on, people, show her some love.

See you all tomorrow when we unveil the fantastic book trailer for I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shameless Saturday...

This week, once again, the Class of 2k8 is SHAMELESS!

In class news:

Laurel Snyder’s fairy tale novel, “Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains” is declared a “must-read” by Atlanta Parent Magazine. Laurel was also delighted to be interviewed by Miss Erin as part of the Winter Blog Blast Tour. Check it out!

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Nancy Viao is hanging out with out very favorite siren of all, The Story Siren!

Zu Vincent's "The Lucky Place" gets some major review-love from Suzanne Morgan Williams:

...Gently written in the trusting voice of a child...Drunkenness, divorce, anger, and childish wishes seem all the more chilling seen through Cassie's young eyes... The prose is lovely and the story held my attention from page one to the end...

And Ellen Booraem's "The Unnameables" has attracted the attention of several on-line reviewers:

I’ve got that warm squishy feeling I get when I’ve just finished something I really, really enjoyed... I love it when an author introduces interesting ideas and leaves the reader free to come to her own conclusions.


refreshingly philosophical approach to a coming-of-age tale that stands well above the pack.

Not to mention...

Booraem presents some of the universal themes of children's literature in a new way, and readers cannot help but cheer Medford on as he discovers the meaning of family and friendship, independence, and the importance of art and expression.

Go Ellen!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday thank you!!!

Closing out our week of year-end THANK YOU NOTES, we have Barrie Summy, author of I So Don't Do Mysteries (who'll you'll be getting to know much better next week)!

Barrie, of all the people who've made your debut year great, I wonder who you have in mind today?

Well, I'd like to send a big bloggy thank-you to kidlit blogger Shelf-Elf.

Here's the backstory:

This summer, I wandered into The Flying Dragon Bookshop while I was in Toronto on vacation.

I chatted with the owner, Cathy Francis, gave her an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of I So Don't Do Mysteries and one of our Class of 2k8 brochures.

Turns out Cathy already knew all about the Class of 2k8!


A kidlit blogger named Shelf Elf works part-time at The Flying Dragon!

I quick raced back to my car and grabbed another ARC to leave as a surprise for Shelf Elf. Who read it and posted a wonderful review.

Thank you, Shelf Elf, for spreading the kidlit word through the blogosphere! And thank you for my very first online review!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Jody thanks...

Jody Feldman, author of the Gollywhopper Games, (as well as one of the fearless leaders of the 2k8 ship) has a LOT to be thankful for...

Right, Jody?

Absolutely. But let me tell you about one person in particular...

"When people come into the store and tell you they have a book coming out," Vicki Erwin of Main Street Books in St. Charles, Missouri, says (and I'm paraphrasing), "you get a little concerned that you might not connect with it. I was so relieved after I read your book."
For me, Vicki was more than relieved. She was more than a passive fan of the book. She started talking about The Gollywhopper Games, and not just to readers. She talked it up to members of the Midwest Booksellers Association.

Although Vicki claims that it wasn't just her, that a lot more members had to really like my book to give it the honors the MBA did, I know it all started with her. And it was a big honor that when we were at the MBA Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, this past fall, that she introduced me twice with something wonderful and different to say each time. My debut year would not have been the same without her.

Thanks, Vicki!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thank you from Laurel...

Another thank you today, this one from Laurel Snyder, author of Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains...


Gosh, there have been so many amazing people I've met in the last year, people wish I could thank in a meaningful way. All the usual suspects--my agent Tina Wexler and my editor Mallory Loehr, as well as every librarian and bookseller I've come into contact with. Greg Call who did the illustrations, and Nicole de la Heras who designed the book, my publicist Elizabeth Daniel. Not to mention the wonderful editor who pulled me from slush, Lisa Findlay.

But the person I really want to thank today is Sherri Smith, at Park Road Books. (shown here, goofing off with Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson)

Sherri is one of those people who wears about 37 hats in the book world, and when she agreed to have me come and sign copies at her store, I had no idea how many of those hats I'd get to see her wear. But the thing that mattered the most to me is that without my asking, she set up my very first school visits, something I was petrified about. I had no idea where to begin!

Not only that, but then Sherri coached me through the experience. We spent the entire day together, and I felt no stress as I met hundreds of kids, interacted with teachers for the first time, and (YAY!) sold a ridiculous number of copies. All because Sherri is one of those people who goes beyond the call of duty, in the name of literacy and literature.

Not to mention that she didn't say a word about the fact that I was dragging around 2 rugrats and my mother.

So, THANK YOU, Sherri! You've totally set the bar for me, showed me how the right person can turn a job into a mission!

Wow! Sherri does sound amazing. Maybe the rest of us will get a chance to meet her too (hint hint).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanks and thanks and more thanks!!!

To continue with our theme, we asked Sarah Prineas, author of The Magic Thief, who she wanted to thank today.


Hmmm. It's hard to pick just one person to thank after months of meeting booksellers, teachers, and librarians from all over the country, and after seeing how hard everybody at my publisher works.

I considered Becky Anderson, owner of
Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, who hosted the prepublication dinner where I met the first kid readers of my book; I considered thanking the book's editor, Melanie Donovan, for acquiring the books and being such a joy to work with; I considered my publicist at HarperCollins, Cindy Tamasi, who cheerfully made all the fall tour events run so smoothly.

But one thing I've realized in the six months sinc
e The Magic Thief came out is that the independent booksellers are hugely important. Most of the indy booksellers I've met have been passionate advocates for the books they love. I thank them all for that, but the one I thank the most is Diane Capriola at The Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia.

When The Magic Thief was a Summer 2008 Booksense Children's Pick , Diane was the one who wrote the blurb. She invited me to attend the Decatur Book Festival, where I had an absolutely fabulous time and enjoyed meeting Diane and her staff in person. She also told me she nominated the book for the E.B. White award .

How can I thank booksellers like Diane enough? I don't think I can. But still, I'll try: Diane, thank you!!

And let us all join Sarah in thanking Diane too!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We're thankful for...

This week, as we recover from Thanksgiving and head into the final month of our debut year, we find that we have a lot of people to thank.

So many people are involved in the making and the selling and the reading of books, and a LOT of those people don't ever get recognized for all they do. But if it weren't for booksellers and festival organizers, bloggers and teachers, librarians and publicists--it would be a LOT harder for authors to find readers, and kids to find books.

This week, because our mamas raised us right, we want to send out thank you notes to some of those special people...

When we asked M.P Barker (author of the genius historical novel, A Difficult Boy) who she wanted to thank this week, she had this to say:

Hmmmm….where to begin?? So many friends who’ve helped plug my book, but I’d say the biggest thank you goes to Lynne Blake, CRM at the Barnes & Noble in Worcester, Mass. She’s the lady who got the ball rolling on what Marissa calls the Class of 2k8 World Domination tour, when Nina, Courtney, Ellen, Marissa and I zipped through three Barnes & Nobles, the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA, and had a great writers’ lunch with fellow authors D. Dina Friedman, Jeannine Atkinson, M.W. Penn, Nancy Castaldo, Melissa Stewart, and Cicily Corbett, plus friends and fans.

Lynne had asked me to do a signing back in May, was a great host, and invited me back with fellow 2k8ers in October, then helped me arrange back-to-back events with B&Ns in Holyoke, MA and Enfield, CT. Lynne was fun, friendly, and fantastic! Thanks, Lynne!

So there you have it. Lynne, you go far above and beyond, and we want the world to know. Please accept HUGE thanks from the Class of 2k8. We owe you big!

Surprise! We're posting on a Sunday!

Surprise! We're back! Just when you thought it was safe to turn off your computer, put up your feet and start channel surfing. Uh, no. We have one more post for you this week. We're that generous.

Quite frankly, Zu Vincent, debut young adult author of THE LUCKY PLACE, submitted such an interesting post about her childhood library that we just couldn't resist sharing.

So, heeeeere it is...

There was a mysterious little library in the beach town where my grandmother lived. A lone, tiny building from the 1800s, rickety and spent, it stood on sand like the house made of sticks in The Three Little Pigs.

The library’s presence seemed impossible hovering beyond the general store and gas pumps, its back against the bay. Sad fronted, dire even, the big bad wolf in the form of sea winds had already taken its huffs and puffs. The place was about to splinter down.

It took some courage to mount the steps.

Inside was dim. Floor to ceiling shelves. Beyond the puny walls the waves on the bay lip-lipped. The little library had become a cave, a den, a lair, where smallness disappeared. I’d opened a book.

Here's a pic of the library in Inverness, CA Zu was writing about. However, that's not Zu at the door.

And don't you just love this old English proverb?

A good book is the best of friends.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shameless Saturday

(left to right) Jennifer Bradbury (SHIFT), Jody Feldman (THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES), P.J. Hoover (THE EMERALD TABLET), Nancy Viau (SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD), Brooke Taylor (UNDONE), Stacy Nyikos (DRAGON WISHES)

These awesome 2k8 classmates rocked at the National Council of Teachers of English conference with their panel: New Voices for a New Generation. They shared the scoop on how to grab reader interest in a technological world. San Antonio, Texas may never be the same again!

More accolades this week for Ellen Booraem's middle-grade THE UNNAMEABLES!

School Library Journal says THE UNNAMEABLES has "a style and charm all its own," and the American Library Association's Booklist says "Patient readers who like a little quirk in their fantasy will enjoy this stick-it-to-the-status-quo romp."

Go, Ellen!

And...you can catch up with Ellen on a couple of blogs! Here she is on the ever-popular Cynsations, talking about her writing life. And then there's a really fun interview on Laura Bowers' Shop Talk

And...Happy Birthday, Jonathan Swift! (November 30, 1667)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fave Librarians!

Some people have a favorite     Others have a favorite pair of slippers.

Here, at the Class of 2k8, we have our...

favorite librarians!

Okay, guys, it's your chance to share.

M.P. Barker is waving her hand madly. Yes, we see you. Yes, you can go first M.P.

Thanks! I grew up in Chicopee, Massachusetts, and I remember going to the Aldenville Branch Library once a week (at least!)—one person could check out only four books at a time, so we went back often. There was always a summer reading contest with a free movie at the Rivoli Theater for readers who reached their quota, and I remember what a sense of accomplishment it was to see my marker go around the map or chart or whatever record-keeping scheme they had that year (and how disappointed I was the year they decided to stop doing the movie and just gave out prizes instead).

It was a teeny tiny storefront library, and the librarians were just great. The kids’ section was at the front, and the adults’ section was at the back, and always seemed sort of like a forbidden city. OOOHHH, to some day be grown-up enough to check books out from that section!!

But of all the librarians I’ve known, I didn’t meet my absolute favorite one until I was all grown up. That’s my boss, Maggie Humberston, who’s the head of the Genealogy and Local History Library and Archives at the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum in springfield, MA. And I’m not saying that just because she brings me chocolate, either. She’s unfailingly patient cheerful, goes wa-a-a-ay beyond the extra mile to help our researchers, and has a magic gift for dealing with the…um…eccentrics. You know how most people would like to kill their bosses? Well, Maggie is the kind of boss that I would kill FOR. Some day I hope I can be as good a person as she is…but it’s not likely!

Librarian Maggie Humberston & M.P. Barker, debut author of the historical young-adult A DIFFICULT BOY

And, at the back of the class,Elizabeth C. Bunce, debut author of the young-adult fantasy A CURSE DARK AS GOLD, is holding up a photo of the library where her favorite librarian used to work.

Okay, Elizabeth. We've thrown up the photo. Now tell us about your favorite librarian.

When I was growing up, our local children's librarian was my best friend's mom. She used to let me read the new books before they went on the shelf! I still remember the horror my brother and I felt when we got toothpaste on a brand-new copy of Tamora Pierce's ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE (that book is still in the library, toothpaste stain and all!). I was lucky enough to have my launch for A CURSE DARK AS GOLD back at my hometown library, and it was so neat to have Mrs. Elbert there to celebrate with us. She's retired now, of course, but I'll always think of her as my personal librarian.

And we leave you with this delightful quotation sent to us by Brenda Eley, Librarian, Beckman High School, Irvine, California:

"Books may well be the only true magic."~~Alice Hoffman