Friday, February 29, 2008

More fun in the sun

Today's Totally Important Post is about class member Daphne Grab. Teen reviewer Gela gushes about Daphne's book, Alive and Well in Prague, New York. Check it out.

Now, back to this week's topic: Group Marketing...

Debbie Reed Fischer is the other person who was part of the dynamic duo that took SCBWI Florida by storm in January. Let's find out what she has to say about doing a workshop with another author.


Chatting online every day for months creates a very unique bond with someone, and that is especially true in 2k8. Like the rest of the class, Jody and I had already spent hundreds of hours discussing book promotion, as well as sharing opinions, triumphs, disappointments and jokes. So when I arrived at the conference and we found each other, it wasn't the polite, tentative greeting that usually takes place when meeting someone for the first time. From the moment we hugged in the main conference room, I felt as though we'd been friends forever. When we did sit down to discuss our presentation, there was a comfort level of two people who had been working together for a long time. It made planning and executing our presentation as easy as two friends talking about a common interest. That was a direct result of being in the Class of 2k8.

The really great thing about 2k8 is that members have professional backgrounds in areas other than publishing. How is that a plus, you ask? Well, when Jody and I were speaking about book promotion, I was grateful she had worked in the related field of advertising for many years. It was reassuring to have her expertise handy.

One attendee told me, "You usually see workshops on the same thing at all these conferences. This was something truly different." That 'something different' is another thing 2k8 brings to the table, and Jody and I were eager to talk about it. We have mutual enthusiasm for the group and its purpose, which really showed in our presentation. Our Class of 2k8 brochures were received with interest and curiosity, and a lot of people wanted to know more. Another attendee complained that our workshop wasn't long enough, after we spoke for an hour and a half! Not to mention it was the very last workshop of a three-day conference!

M.P. Barker also knows how important group marketing is...

Being part of 2k8 has helped me because I'm a terrible procrastinator, very disorganized, and know absolutely nothing about marketing. I'm very bad at meeting personal deadlines if I'm not responsible to anyone but myself, but fear of shame and humiliation makes me very good at meeting deadlines when they're imposed by somebody else. Having a group to be answerable to forces me to get my act together and get things accomplished. It's also great to have a support group of people whom I can learn from and who are going through all the same things I am.

Liz Gallagher simply puts it this way:

It makes the fish a little bigger in that big pond.

So, if you're thinking of joining a group to help you get the word out about your books,




that the publishing world won't soon forget!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Two heads are better than one

In January, two class members presented a fantastic workshop on group marketing and blogging at the SCBWI Florida Conference in sunny Miami: Debbie Reed Fischer and Jody Feldman.

Today, we find out what Jody, co-pres of 2k8 and author of The Gollywhopper Games, has to say about the workshop opportunity. (We'll hear from Deb tomorrow.)

I wouldn't have even been at the SCBWI Florida Conference if I hadn't been a part of the Class of 2k8! Well, it happens that when I know it's coming time for me to speak in public, just the thought will send up a small surge of adrenaline. I don't know what it was about this speaking opportunity. Maybe it was that we'd prepared such a quantity of subject matter. Maybe it was that I had a partner who would pick up any pieces I dropped. Maybe someone slipped something into every sip of water I drank for the two months previous. Never once did that adrenaline surge. Which didn't make sense. Debbie Reed Fischer and I hadn't met in person before that weekend. We had only a basic idea of how we would split it up our presentation. But we talked for about an hour beforehand, and somewhere in the middle of it, I realized we were working it as if we'd been teamed at birth.

Looking back, however, I owe much of the smoothness and the ease to fact that in the Class, we're working on this every day. Every day, some question or situation arises and must be addressed. Every day we need to make decisions or work on a facet of our promotion. So maybe it was the repetition. Or maybe just being in this Class with so many talented people has given me a big boost of confidence that surged in place of the adrenaline. Even as we faced mulit-multi-multi-published authors who should know the "ins and outs" of promotion better than the newbies standing in front of the room, I must have felt, deep down, we had something valuable to offer.

So, Jody, our tag line above should be 27 heads are better than one, right?

Yes! Are there many other businesses where you can team up with 27 of your rivals, and where each of you can come out stronger than if you had acted alone? Children's writers, in general, are an amazingly supportive group of professionals. We share ideas. We root for one another. And the Class of 2k8, specifically, has allowed me to work closely with some incredible minds and has pushed me to promote more than I might have done alone.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wednesday is Wa hoo-Zu Day!

YAY, Zu Vincent!

A few months ago Zu stepped through the wardrobe with sixteen other YA authors whose imaginations traveled through Narnia from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to The Last Battle. They came back with an anthology that will be in Borders in a few weeks. Look at that stunning cover! WOW!
Through the Wardrobe
Your Favorite Authors on C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia
Edited by Herbie Brennan

And now...TO MARKET, TO MARKET--our thoughts on group marketing.
Here's what Terri Clark, author of the upper YA novel Sleepless, would like everyone to know:

In recent years I’ve seen a lot of authors band together for promotion—the Buzz Girls, Reader Girlz, The Brown Bookshelf, and Fangs, Fur & Fey (a great group I belong to) are just a few successful examples. The big thing I noticed about these groups was that they received more attention as a whole then the authors did individually. If you think about it, it makes sense. One author might be interesting, but 2, or 5 or 10—especially with a common thread among them—are even more compelling. Therefore, I wanted to find a band of merry authors I could join. Enter: the Class of 2k7. I discovered this group last year when Publisher’s Weekly did a write up. “A Novel Approach to Debut Authors” the group touted. Thirty-eight first-time children’s and YA authors with books coming out in 2007 who were working collectively to promote their books. Eureka! Just the thing I was looking for. Lucky for me, three of 2K7’s members had their release dates bumped and the class of 2K8 was born. I immediately asked to join and now I’m a proud member of this fantastic group. So far, we've collaborated on a killer website, blog, MySpace page, book trailer, reader’s guides, brochures, press materials, contests, information for BLTs (booksellers, librarians and teachers), combined speaking engagements and MORE! And let me tell you I wouldn’t have had the fiscal means to accomplish this all on my own, let alone the talent and creativity that we as whole have demonstrated.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Group Scoop

"Give a wave" to Kristin O'Donnell Tubb. Read RaeAnn Parker’s fun interview to see what we mean!

Now, back to group marketing. Today, we hear from Elizabeth C. Bunce, author of A Curse Dark As Gold. Elizabeth, being a part of The Class hasn't been a curse, has it?

Of course not! For me, the real value—far beyond publicity or fame or the big bucks (ha, ha)—is in having somebody to share the journey with you, someone you can compare notes with. The publishing industry is so intricate, and authors are often the last people to know what's going on with their books… having people in exactly the same boat as you, to say, "Oh, yes, that happened to me, too," has been invaluably reassuring on this crazy journey!

Regina Scott, author of La Petite Four, adds this:

Everyone in the class has a talent, many that I don't personally have. I'm a total MySpace baby, but Laurel is showing us the way. I never even read blogs until I met Marissa; now we collaborate on one. So, I'm learning personally, and I'm seeing my words go out in ways I could never accomplish alone.

More tomorrow...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hey, we may not be Oscar-worthy, but we still have some great news for you.

T.I.Ps (Totally Important Posts) for this week include:
The Spring 2008 Book Sense Children’s Pick list is out and members' books are on it! Click on the link and scroll down to read about The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher and The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman.

And if you'd like some super-secret info about Liz (like why she's cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs), check out PowellsBooks.Kids.

We'd like to say THANKS to Jan Fields, editor of the Institute of Children's Literature ezine, for saying such nice things about our blog. Email Jan if you're interested in receiving this informative weekly ezine:

So, what's in store for this last week in February?
We're talking business, bucks, and brotherly love. (Maybe that should be sisterly love, since all class members are women?) Two words:


First up, a bit of background:
Sure, we’re all debut middle-grade and young adult novelists, but are we marketing gurus? NOT REALLY! Within our group, we have members who have various strengths. Some have honed marketing skills as authors, radio commentators, and professional speakers. Others are computer whizzes, graphic designers, and supreme, out-of-the box thinkers and organizers. Many have a knack for writing content, creating contests, or developing public relations, advertising campaigns, and networking possibilities. A majority of the class is still learning about marketing “on the fly.” And sometimes, it’s these members that are most appreciated for they glue the group together with a volunteer spirit, kind words, and humor.

So, what's the point? In the tightly budgeted publishing world where less and less time and money is spent on individuals, especially new authors, we hope that our cross-publisher, cooperative effort helps us to get the word out. Group marketing works—we’ve learned that much from The Class of 2k7—and even though we’re only in Month Two of 2k8, we’d like to share with you what we’ve learned so far.

Tune in tomorrow…

Friday, February 22, 2008

Last chance to guess

Our fun week is coming to an end, but you'll get to see all our bookcovers (even the ones not available yet)--in their original and beautiful condition--throughout 2008. And the real test? Will YOU be able to spot them in bookstores? We hope so!

And now for Thursday's answers:

Liz Gallagher, Author of The Opposite of Invisible

Jenny Meyerhoff, Author of Third Grade Baby

N. A. Nelson, Author of Bringing the Boy Home

The final three clues/covers are:

The author of this fiery middle-grade novel loves to travel the globe.
a. Ellen Booraem b. Jody Feldman c. Stacy A. Nyikos

Keep this author on your good side; she's a lawyer!
a. Zu Vincent b. Lisa Schroeder c. Courtney Sheinmel

In this novel, the main character springs into action when she falls upon a plan to destroy her family's land.
a. Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains b. Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different c. Shift

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Name that author and book

Check out yesterday's authors and titles below. How did you do?

P.J. Hoover, the Author of The Emerald Tablet

Brooke Taylor, Author of Undone

Daphne Grab, Author of Alive and Well in Prague, New York

Now try these: (Don't forget--our site is a great resource for this game!)

#1. This book's main character shares the same first name as a character created by Lewis Carroll.
a. A Curse Dark as Gold, My So-Called Family, The Opposite of Invisible

#2. This former teacher will "floor" you with her yoga moves.
a. Jenny Meyerhoff b. Sarah Prineas c. Nancy Viau

#3. Two young boys. One shared destiny.a. The Gollywhopper Games, A Difficult Boy, Bringing the Boy Home

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Welcome to Day 3 of our game!

Tuesday's answers are:

We're on a roll, now! Try these:
Here's a link to our site, if you need help.

#1. This book's title may make you "green" with envy.
a. The Unnameables b. The Emerald Tablet c. Third Grade Baby

#2. This author enjoys scuba diving...with sharks!
a. Brooke Taylor b. M.P. Barker c. Stacy A. Nyikos

#3. If you're sick, or even dead, perhaps this title will comfort you.
a. The Lucky Place b. A Curse Dark as Gold c. Alive and Well in Prague NY

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The next batch

If you've just discovered our game, see Monday's blog for details. And remember, this is for fun. The only prize you get is the satisfaction that you're a darn good detective! And the opportunity to get a sneak peek at some gorgeous covers, of course!

Aren't these covers AWESOME?!
Ready for 3 more?

#1 A ghostly character in this novel would not be "clue"-less in our game.
a. I Heart You, You Haunt Me b. I So Don't Do Mysteries c. La Petite Four

#2 This author's success is McDonald's loss.
a. Terri Clark b. Teri Brown c. Courtney Sheinmel

#3 In this novel, readers get twice the fun when it comes to main characters.
a. A Horse of Her Own b. Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains c. Bewitching Season

Monday, February 18, 2008

Get your game face on!

Somebody has spray-painted our books! The titles are hidden! Our names are missing! But we bet you can still figure out a few things. C'mon, play along!

Here's how this works: Above each cover is a clue and three possible answers. If you're still not sure of the right answer, and want to guess some more, just wait a little bit, and check the comments section below. Class members may add more clues as the day goes on. But if it's instant gratification you're after, hop over to our site to find all the info you need.

When you do come up with the answers, shhhhhh. Don't spoil the fun by posting them. We'll show you the right ones, and the cleaned-up covers, the next day.


#1 This Florida author had less than model behavior during her high school math classes.
a. Marissa Doyle b. Nancy Viau c. Debbie Reed Fischer

#2 This is not a middle-grade novel.
a. Sleepless b. The Possibilities of Sainthood c. Undone

#3 This author has been on a nationally televised game show.
a. Jennifer Bradbury b. Jenny Meyerhoff c. Zu Vincent

Sunday, February 17, 2008

And last, but not least...

Web sites…

may increase sales.
are great places to showcase excerpts.
provide information about worthwhile organizations.
explain a service available (such as proofreading or critiquing).
keep readers informed of future books, upcoming events, etc.
help authors be part of today’s technological world.

Like it or not, they are here to stay!

Jody Feldman puts it this way:
Why do authors need Web sites?
Outside of the fact that readers, today, expect us to have one, and rely on the reality that we will? And we don’t want to disappoint them? And this may be the only place where each of us can control our information? Make sure it’s accurate? And reflects our own voice? Outside of the fact that it’s fun to create your own personal version of the world most interactive business card? There are other reasons, but for now, that enough for me!
~Jody Feldman, Author of The Gollywhopper Games,

And finally, the class would like to leave you with this tongue-in-cheek comment from Nina Nelson that is sure to make you smile:

Web sites keep people guessing!
A friend I hadn’t seen in awhile immediately called me after my website went up to say, “Okay, be honest, what work have you had done?”

To which I replied in a bemused tone, “What are you talking about?”

“Plastic surgery! I’m obsessed with your Web site photo! What have you had done?”

I replied, laughing (but totally honestly), “Nothing.”

“Nuh-uh!" friend says. "Your nose looks awesome in that picture. My mom and I both think you got your nose done. I’ve been telling everyone you did. Really, you didn’t? It looks great.”

So, if you ask me what’s the best part about having a Web site, I’ll say: my nose, because my nose looks good (and I’ve never been happy with my nose)! And because my nose looks good, friends are gossiping wickedly about me behind my back.
N.A. Nelson, Author of Bringing the Boy Home,

Be sure to check out all our noses on The Class of 2k8's Web site!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Headin' toward the finish line...

Whew, our list is almost complete! Have we convinced you how important a Web site is? Have you had fun browsing our sites? We hope so!

The list continues...
(Yeah, yeah, we know it's the weekend, and a holiday weekend at that, but we just can't help ourselves.)

A site leads to opportunities.
Well, believe it or not, both my book of poems and my anthology were directly related to having a blog. The book of poems was solicited by a small press that was run by a blogger who read my daily rants, and the anthology came from the same blog: http://jewishyirishy/. (It's an anthology of essays about growing up a child of Jewish intermarriage).
~Laurel Snyder, Author of Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains,

Web sites get readers in contact with authors.
I think websites are a fantastic way for readers to be able to contact authors. That’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to—getting mail and email from children and teens who’ve read my books.
~Jenny Meyerhoff, Author of Third Grade Baby,

Readers look for insider-info on a Web site.
When I go to schools, I’m always happy when the class has checked me out on the Internet first. Based on a few pictures of me as a child that I have on my site, the students ask questions like: “Was that your first bike? Why was your hair cut so short? How long were a Girl Scout?” My site is my introduction, my ice-breaker; kids feel like they know a little about me even before I’ve stepped into the room, and I love that!
~Nancy Viau, Author of Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head,

Web sites answer readers' questions.
I love visiting author Web sites! After reading a story that knocks my socks off, I want to know more: Where is the author from? Why did she/he write the book? What other books has she/he written? Web sites allow readers to hear the “why” and “how” a story came to life. Quite often, the stories behind the story are just as fascinating!
~Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, Author of Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different,

A Web site can whisk you away to a creative place.
When you write books and even short stories, you can still have ideas that don’t find a home anywhere. Glimpses of half scenes or a bit of homeless setting. Maybe some wayward thoughts on the craft, or a lonely paragraph.

Usually they stick to your journal page, but once in a while they lift free and take wing. That’s when I find my Web site fun. Because like random thoughts that link to other thoughts that build into words and sentences and then a page, that Web site links—not to my blog—but to a blog I’m lucky enough to be part of, one where I’m invited to se my brainstorms down.

“Through the Tollbooth” came about thanks to Tami Lewis Brown (Soar, Elinor, Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Melanie Kroupa Books, 2010) who gathered nine willing authors with MFAs in Writing from Vermont College to talk about craft.

We wanted a collaborative conversation with real muscle. As a result, I learn from reading these posts. I also learn by writing my own. Now only about why we write and what it takes, but about the joys of mopping up some of those creative spills and putting them to use.

I know, a minute ago, we were on the wing and now we’re in a puddle! But isn’t that what makes writing fun? Skipping through metaphors, playing around a bit. Seeing what comes out and if you can make a go of it. Finding yourself with a Web site and following a link…
~Zu Vincent, Author of The Lucky Place,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Web sites! The List You Can't Miss

Class of 2k8 members love Web sites!

Here's few more thoughts on the subject:

Web sites provide author bios.
My favorite part of any author’s site is the Bio page. What can I say? I love checking out the wizard behind the curtain! After checking out the author, I always click over to the frequently asked questions. Not only are they usually very interesting and informative, but because I’m a debut author I need to prepare myself for what kind of questions I may one day be frequently asked.

And since no one has ever frequently asked me anything—except maybe if they could have my book for free—I decided to *steal* some FAQ’s from some of my favorite authors and answer them as best I could on my own site.

~Brooke Taylor, Author of Undone,

A Web site is a fantastic marketing tool.
People will tell you it's an essential marketing tool these days, but I think its most important role is giving readers a more personal glimpse of the writer, a sense of the personality behind the book… and that can deepen and enrich your understanding of her work, as well as forge a feeling of connectedness between author and reader—and connecting with readers is what writing is all about.
~ Elizabeth C. Bunce, Author of A Curse Dark As Gold,

A Web site adds professionalism.
I have a Web site because I love the idea of having a Web site. But more than that, it makes me feel the part of being a writer. For the past fifteen years, I've designed chips (the kind that go in computers, not in your mouth), so when I started writing, there was a certain part of me which felt like a poser. Like I was pretending to be something I wasn't. And even now, with my first book coming out later this year, it's still kind of hard to identify myself as a writer.

So what does my site do for me? It makes me feel professional. It gives me the opportunity to present myself in a positive way. And it makes others view me as a positive and professional author. Writing is fun; I love it and want to do it forever. It is more than a hobby, and I want anyone who visits my site to see that and understand.
P.J. Hoover, Author of The Forgotten Worlds Book 1: The Emerald Tablet,

A Web site can be jam-packed with activities.
A Web site is a really good way for me to showcase my books, introduce readers to me, and to pass information on to school librarians about what happens when I come to a school to visit. I also use the site to put up teacher packs, i.e. information, games, coloring pages, mazes, extra websites, writing assignments, that teachers can use with my books either before or after I come, helping to build upon the information I present when I am there.
~Stacy Nyikos, Author of Dragon Wishes,

Web sites satisfy curiosity.
I think a Web site gives readers a place to get to know you, learn more about your books and your plans, and maybe try something new.
~Regina Scott, Author of La Petite Four,

A Web site is the place to be.
To a writer, a Web site is very important. The Internet is where we all go now...and having a pleasant, interesting presence there can help a writer attract and keep readers.
~Marissa Doyle, Author of Bewitching Season,

More insight on sites!

A Web site offers fun features.
There is one part on my Web site that I had a lot of fun doing: thinking of my all-time favorite girl and guy characters in YA lit for my Favorites page. I wanted to write YA because I read it all the time. Because much as I enjoy adult novels, I love YA more. Which means I've read, and loved, an awful lot of YA books with some pretty awesome characters. There are some amazing girl characters out there, and some pretty fabulous guys who spring to life off the written page. So who did I choose to feature on my site? Click on the link below to find out!
~Daphne Grab, Author of Alive and Well in Prague, NY,

A Web site is proof.
My publisher tells me that kid readers are especially interested in the authors of the books they read. It's as if they can't believe an actual person wrote the book. A website proves an actual person did write the book, and a well-designed site gives extra interesting details about that person, like how many cats she has. It’s a great way for readers to continue to interact with the book.
~Sarah Prineas, Author of The Magic Thief,

Teens spend time online.
I think it's important to have a personal web site because the world is so Internet-ty! Especially because I write for teenagers, who seem to spend lots of time online and be very savvy, it's the most efficient way to reach out to them, let them know about me and my book, events, news, and whatever else is going on in my book-world. I happen to be a writer who's interested in communicating with young readers, so it's a step to accomplishing that. I think teenagers almost expect the experience of a book they love to go beyond the page. Everything else seems to go online somehow! Look at popular TV shows, like Lost, who are doing webisodes to accompany the television broadcasts. Not to mention message boards!
~Liz Gallagher, Author of The Opposite of Invisible,

A strong Web presence can do amazing things for your career.
It cultivates your readership, creates word-of-mouth interest, gains press, excites your publisher, and more. With that in mind I started researching Web site designers by visiting author sites. I noted what layouts and features I liked, what I didn’t and which designers I could afford. I wanted a website that was user friendly, had teen appeal and that I could build on as my career grew. I thought of it like a starter home. I couldn’t spend $5000 on a site (or even $2000), but I could build an affordable base site and add on to it. And later on, if I wanted to, I could always remodel. My site designer, Barb of
Jaleroro Web Designs, did a fantastic job of taking my ideas and making them a reality. I’ve already received positive feedback on my site and it has generated interest in my upcoming books.
~Terri Clark, Author of Sleepless,

Anybody who’s anybody has a Web site.
I think it's important to have a personal web site because everyone keeps telling me that it is, even though I'm not entirely sure what I should put on it. Frankly, I'm a pretty boring person. If I were all that interesting, I wouldn't be spending my time making upstories, now, would I?
~M.P. Barker, Author of A Difficult Boy,

Web sites keep in business.
Personal websites make me want to read more books. Sometimes the websites give the back-story of a particular book, and I feel compelled to go straight to Amazon and order the book right away. I’ve discovered some of my favorite books this way, and I suspect I’m not the only one.
~Courtney Sheinmel, Author of My So-Called Family

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We're talkin' Web sites!

Web sites…
Most authors have them, need them, or want them. But are they truly necessary? For the rest of this week, members of The Class of 2k8 will give you their innermost thoughts on being part of the World Wide Web. Stay tuned for some great insight, and be sure and check out each member's site.

(Drum roll, please.) Let’s get to that list: 28+ Reasons Why You Need A Web site.

A Web site is where people go to find out information.
The first thing I do when I finish a book that I love is visit the author’s Web site. Here, I learn more about the author, what other books he published, where she was born. A good Web site makes me feel closer to the writers I enjoy, and much more likely to buy their next book. I hope readers who come to my site feel like they’ve gotten to know me a bit, and have found some way in which we connect.

~Jenny Meyerhoff, Author of Third Grade Baby

A presence on the Web means being a part of a community.
For me a Web presence isn't just a matter of advertising, it's a matter of community and process. So many essays have begun as blog posts, and soooo many of my friendships and professional relationships have started the same way. I've also had old friends find me through my online life, and I've been approached by publications like, as well. So, really... I have to say that I think I'd still be waiting tables if it weren't for the Web!
~Laurel Snyder, Author of Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains,

A Web site brings people to your site.
It's really fun to see what kind of search brings people to your site. Let's see, some of the phrases that have brought viewers to my site include:

"didactic stories read"
So, you want to read a didactic story, and if so, may I ask why?
"sleeping babies"

Ah yes, with a picture book titled, Baby Can’t Sleep, I get lots of parents wanting the secret to getting your baby to sleep. Guess what? There is no secret. Babies simply don't sleep as much as people have led us to believe. So, buy my book and have a laugh over it at the very least.
"slush pile garbage"

Yeah, I think editors would agree, there's a lot of garbage in the slush pile. Are you trying to figure out what defines garbage? I think it's pretty much anything that's not so fabulous an editor wants to snatch it up the second he/she reads it.

See? What a fun game! Get a Web site, and find out what fun phrases bring people to your site.
Lisa Schroeder, Author of I Heart You, You Haunt Me,

Our Totally Important Post for today is about Lisa, as well.
Kids are loving I Heart You, You Haunt Me! Check out what this blogger’s daughter has to say.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Uh, oh!

T.I.P. #1

Looks like a few members cut class this past weekend! Some flew in to New York for the SCBWI conference; others just took this opportunity to meet in person for the first time.

Whatever the reason, it was time well spent. And we're sure they've collaborated on some creative excuse notes!

From left to right:
Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different)
Donna Freitas (The Possibilities of Sainthood)
Courtney Sheinmel (My S0-Called Family)
Marissa Doyle (Bewitching Season)
Nina Nelson (Bringing the Boy Home)

T.I.P. #2
Bookshelves of doom has been blabbering (in a good way, of course) about Elizabeth Bunce’s A Curse Dark As Gold.

And click HERE to find out why they suggest reading Liz Gallagher’s The Opposite of Invisible TWICE!

Thanks for your support and your entertaining posts, Bookshelves!

Tomorrow, we'll get back to the task at hand--that list you've been waiting for, that "list you can't miss"--
28+ Reasons Why You Need A Website.

Monday, February 11, 2008

To Our Community

The children's writing community is known for its supportiveness and friendliness. Recently, misunderstandings about the "Class of 2K" label have caused rifts in part of our community.

We, the Class of 2k8, are troubled by these misunderstandings. What threatens one writer threatens us all, and we should have voiced our concerns about these issues earlier. We regret that we did not. As first-time children's novelists, we are learning as we go. However, we wish to be clear now: We fully support Jackson Pearce, the 2009 Debutantes, and all other authors with books debuting in 2008, 2009, and beyond.

We are not only members of the Class of 2k8; we are also part of the larger children's writing community, and we value and respect that community and its members. We look forward, especially, to sharing the thrill of becoming first-time children’s novelists with other debut authors.

The Class of 2k8
Marissa Doyle, Jody Feldman, Lisa Schroeder, Jenny Meyerhoff, Nina Nelson, Sarah Prineas, Barrie Summy, Laurel Snyder, Debbie Reed Fischer, Nancy Viau, Kristin Tubb, PJ Hoover, Elizabeth Bunce, Jen Bradbury, Courtney Sheinmel, Regina Scott, Daphne Grab, Ellen Booraem, Donna Freitas, Terri Clark, Liz Gallagher, Teri Brown, Michele Barker, Brooke Taylor, Stacy Nyikos

Friday, February 8, 2008

Unforgettable heroes

Quick T.I.P.:
Little Willow/Slayground has interviewed Daphne Grab!
Read it now, then cruise on back for more about heroes.

To sum up this week's hero theme, we take a more serious turn and talk with Nancy Viau. Nancy is the author of Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head, a middle-grade novel that explores the heart and soul of a ten-year-old who loves rocks, and hates the fact she can’t keep her temper under control.

Who’s your hero, Nancy?

Well, when I first think of heroes, I think of the men and women who give up their comfortable lives to fight overseas. They do this unselfishly, and I am so grateful. It’s because of them that I (quite selfishly) get to do what I do—write. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

On a personal note, my dad is my hero. And it’s not just because he served in the U.S. Army for 26 years. (I’m an Army brat, can you tell?) There was never a day that my dad did not believe in me. In fourth grade, when I told him I wanted to be an astronaut, he said, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” In high school, when I longed to be a Broadway dancer, he said, “That’s great!” And in college, when I told him I was planning to be an elementary school teacher, he looked at me kind of relieved, and replied, “Perfect.” Years later, as I worked toward getting published, his encouragement kept me going. He dealt with the death of a wife, son, and most of his good friends, and lived in extreme pain, yet this “Energizer Bunny” met each day with a positive attitude, a twinkle in his eye, and a sense of humor. I hope to honor him by doing the same.

Nancy has written a special tribute to her dad that can be found in the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology: Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating People Who Make a Difference. Pick up this book in a store near you, and read her heartfelt essay: “Save the Best for Last.”

Think you’d like to try your hand at writing a personal essay? Click HERE for the “Recipe For A Winning Chicken Soup for the Soul Story.”

Stay tuned next week for a list you can’t miss:
28+ Reasons Why You Need a Web Site.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

BIG T.I.P. (Totally Important Post)

Our family is growing!

Information about the Class of 2k9 (yes, that's right folks, we're talkin' NEXT year) can be found HERE. More info coming soon!

Today, February 7th, is Charles Dickens Day! Did you know that?
Don’t look so forlorn, dear Charles. You are a very special kind of hero to us.

And speaking of heroes, Barrie Summy, author of the fabulous I So Don’t Do Mysteries, has this to say about her hero: Charles Gordon Maynard.


Around 1909, Charles invented wine gum in his father’s candy store in Libya. There is some debate as to whether or not wine gums have ever contained real wine. Personally, I have never eaten a wine gum made with alcohol. About those first candies, who’s to say? Charles’ father was a staunch tee-totaling Methodist, and Charles may have been a bit of a bad boy.

Wine gums come in rolls of round candies or in bags of various geometric shapes and crowns. There are six colors: red, yellow, orange, green, white and black. Wine gums are a hardier chew than their cousin, the gummy bear, and fruitier in taste than their sibling, the jujube.

Wine gums are the perfect pick-me-up when your characters (or your children, for that matter) aren’t behaving themselves. Likewise, they are a delicious reward for each chapter (or page or sentence or, even, word!) written.

I have never seen a photo of Charles, but I suspect he’s a cross between Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon and Orlando Bloom. He may or may not be a descendent of William the Conqueror.

According to Wikipedia, Roald Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many other great books) loved wine gums and ate one every night before going to bed.

So, thank you, Charles Gordon Maynard, for sweetening up my life. (OK, I do have real everyday heroes, but it’s been a giddy week...)

Barrie, we happen to know that your book is every bit as sweet as wine gum and twice as fun.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sail into reading with Courtney Sheinmel

Today we hear from Courtney! Courtney’s contemporary young adult novel, My So-Called Family, involves donors instead of fathers, and same-age sisters who are NOT twins. You can’t get any more intriguing than that! Let’s dig into the mind of this author, and find out who her hero is.

I am incredibly afraid of boats (among many other things), and right now – at this very moment – four of my closest friends are on a sailboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They are traveling (by themselves – no other captain or crew) from California to the South Pacific. And two of them are not even old enough to vote. In fact, they are not even teenagers yet. Those girls are my heroes.

Last spring, I spent a week on the sailboat with the girls and their parents, and I felt incredibly brave just for negotiating the steps between the dock and the boat. I sat in the corner and clutched the handrail, reminding myself that I was wearing a life jacket. The girls, who were nine and eleven years old at the time, helped steer and jibe, and lifted bumpers that weighed more than they did. They jumped off the boat to the dock, and never looked down, and never cried out for fear of falling in the water. They called to me and said, “You can do it, Courtney!” And they held my hands while I climbed down oh so carefully.

I am in awe of how brave and capable they are. But it is more than that. They are just two of the greatest people I’ve ever known. They are beautiful and polite and kind. When I’m around them, I find myself saying “please” and “thank you” more, because I want to be as good as they are. They are hysterically funny, and they inspire me to write better. I’ve even used things they’ve said in my books. Their delight for the world is infectious, so when I am hanging onto the handrail for dear life, and one of them shouts, “Hey look, there’s a dolphin!” I can loosen my grip for just a second and start grinning and waving with them.

Before they left for the South Pacific, I asked the older one if she was scared about the trip, and she said she was, a little. “But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she reminded me. Her voice didn’t waver. She and her sister make me want to be brave. They make me want to be better. They are everything I want to be when I grow up.

Ahoy, there, Court! You may not be a sailor, but your book will certainly sail off the shelves come October. And readers won't even need these:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


No, not the TV show! This week The Class of 2k8 is talking about those everyday heroes that are an inspiration to us, make us appreciate life, and remind us how much we love reading, writing, and 'rithmatic (hmmm...math? Maybe not so much).

Anyway, today we're hearing from Terri Clark, author of Sleepless, a paranormal novel that will knock your socks off and get you checking to see if diabolical doctors are hiding under your bed. Terri is the perfect person to feature during Library Lovers Month because, not only is she the teen patron specialist at her library, her heroes are librarians! How cool is that?


Two of my everyday heroes are co-workers. Julie and Kris are exceptional teen librarians who have been incredible mentors and friends to me. They've taught me so much and continue to inspire me daily. They're passionate advocates for teens. Whether it's developing programs, knowing YA literature, defending teen rights or allowing young adults their own unique personal expression these two ladies are truly everyday heroes. The teens at our library may not recognize their super hero status, but I do. After all, Catwoman was a librarian and she's got nothing on Julie and Kris.

And where would librarians be without readers? Sarah Prineas has a very clear idea of who her hero is.

The anonymous reader is my hero. Somebody who is in love with books, engages fully with the story and the characters, and tells his or her friends about them.

Look for Sarah’s novel, The Magic Thief, this summer. It promises to keep middle-grade kids hooked on reading for years. Her cover alone is enough to make readers salivate, don’t you think?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Fabulous February

Don’t fret because the groundhog saw his shadow, and we’re in for 6 more weeks of winter.

Don’t stress over the fact that Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and you’re clueless about what to get a loved one.

And … don’t be sad that not a single Class of 2k8 member launches her book this month. (OK, you can be a little sad.)

There will still be a ton of bloggin’ fun going on right here!

First up, the Class of 2k8 has a few T.I.Ps. for you. What’s a T.I.P., you ask? A T.I.P. is a Totally Important Post.

Jody Feldman and Marissa Doyle have been interviewed by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Read this fantastic interview on her Cynsations blog.
You can find Liz Gallagher on Authorlink.
And our class has been mentioned on Joshilyn Jackson’s blog.

Word is getting out!

Next up for this first week in February, we have some random facts:

February is National Library Lovers Month. If you haven’t gotten a peek at Liz Gallagher’s book, The Opposite of Invisible, and Lisa Schroeder’s book, I Heart You, You Haunt Me, head on over to the library and check it out.

And February is the month that students and teachers everywhere dig out the party hats to celebrate the 100th day of school. Join the excitement!

There’s more …

This first week in February is Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week. And that’s where we fit in. The Class of 2k8 will be chatting about heroes and those people, young and old, who have been an inspiration.
Let’s jump right in:
Kristin Tubb, author of Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different, has a couple of heroes right in her own home. We can’t help but wonder if they have moustaches…

My everyday heroes are my two young kids. There are many reasons why, but one of the reasons is they remind me why I adore kid lit. My daughter (age 3) loves to play with “mommy’s books” (the activity books I’ve written). She sometimes asks me if I wrote those books just for her. “Yes,” I always say. “I did.” It’s a wonderful reminder of where those books eventually wind up – in the hands of kids who are thrilled to crack open a new story.

More about 2k8’s heroes tomorrow.
Meanwhile, who's your hero?