Monday, March 29, 2010

Split goes to Hollywood!

After the lush R&R at Bonnie Doerr and Island Sting's place, Split has journeyed again on its tour.  This time, it went all the way across the country for a hopping good time with Split's buddy, The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams.

In truth, Split confided to me a few hesitations before visiting a witch, what with her fuzzy little familiar and her sudden cases of floating attacks.  But, as some of you might know,  Abbie is one fun witch.  Even Booklist says so (in longer words).

And Abbie's writer, Rhonda Hayter, is no different.  Though maybe she's a little more grown up and a little more responsible.  I say this because Rhonda took such good care of Split.

See how she holds him up and letting him see the sites?  She was even kind enough to send along copies of the pix.  Here's her email to comfort Split's worried writer.

Split enjoyed his visit to Hollywood very much.  He had his photo taken at the Hollywood Highland mall where he posed in front of the Hollywood sign. (above).

He dropped by the Kodak theatre where they do the Oscars and American Idol and ...

he visited Mary Pickford

and the Star Trek crew in front of Graumann's Chinese theatre.

He'd have written you a postcard, but he's unfortunately short on hands. 

Hmpf!  There are enough hand or hand prints around him, but you know how it goes.  They hit the big time and then they never write, they never call...  But I'm so glad to see he's having a good time and fitting in with all the celebs.  Personally, I think he and Patrick Stewart would get along great!  (More on this later).

It was particularly kind of Abbie and Rhonda to host Split, considering that Abbie is about to make her big debut! I know I'm eagerly awaiting April 1st, when I'll look for her to fly on over and make an appearance at my house.  Keep an eye out; she might breeze her way over your place, too.

In case you want to now a little more about her, here's Abbie's trailer to check out, too.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Awesome pix

Previously, I mentioned my college roommate, Jenny, who had come out for Split's launch.  Intelligent girl that she is, she married a massage therapist, John Magruder.  Turns out John is multi-talented.  Quite the photographer.  He is currently doing a year of self-portraits.  When he read Split, he contributed this one:

Split - - 84/365 by QuantumJedi

Love this composition.

John has some amazing shots of the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.  This guy has an excellent sense of place and movement.  Look at those Chicago shots, while you're at it.

Those of you who have read Split know that Jace is photographer.  If he could take shots of Albuquerque and Chicago, they might look something like John's.

Considering that this is John's "second talent," I might need to head down to Chicago for a massage.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bon Voyage, Split!

I was happy to celebrate Split's launch on Saturday and to wish it a fond farewell as it begins its multi-city tour.  Since a book doesn't have to pay for accommodations, food, or even travel, it can afford to go where I can't.  So, the lucky thing will get to visit many spots without me.

On the other hand, I seem to be getting pictures and anticipate it might send me a postcard now and again.

Its first stop on its whirlwind tour was Winston-Salem, NC.

It kicked off its tour by visiting its buddy: the middle grade eco-friendly adventure novel, Island Sting.  Bonnie Doerr, author of Island Sting, generously welcomed Split into her home and even took its picture for me.  

Here it is, sitting on the porch of her lovely home:

Awww, it looks so little as it ventures out into the world!

And then pondering the view from the well.

I hope it is careful and doesn't fall in.

But I'm sure Bonnie is taking good care of it, keeping out a protective eye.  I do hope it is behaving well and that Split and Island Sting are getting along well. 

I'll keep you posted as it tours, visiting its fellow books from the Class of 2k10 and other cities.  We'll see what kind of adventures Split can have as it tours cross-country.

Bon Voyage, Split, and good luck!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Launch Party for Split

The day finally arrived.  I got up late, trying to get my rest and so was still in my p.j.s when the first of my surprises arrived:  an enormous bouquet of balloon from the loving husband (TLH).  I'm not sure that words will do the size of this justice.  So:

They had to be delivered because they couldn't fit in my SUV.

I spent the rest of the day picking out passages to read and rehearsing them while TLH got errands done, took the kids to a birthday party, and made a lamb stew for when we got home.  Mmmm, the house smelled fantastic while I worried about whether I should read this scene or that, calling a writer friend and asking her advice.

Finally, I had my post-it notes stuck to my book, passages picked out, hair curled, and the sitter had come for the kids.  TLH and I got out of the door around 15 minutes late, but I wasn't really worried, comfortable that the wonderful caterer, The Coffee Gallery, and the stellar Loft staff had everything ready.

And did they ever.

So sophisticated...

I arrived and ran into Francine Tolf, an all around comforting person and elegant writer.  We had spent a year in the same writing program, and Francine recognized in me, a fellow reading-phobic.  She said I looked calm.

I wasn't.  But I wasn't nervous either.  I was so excited that I could not stop smiling.

I went up stairs and was greeted by Brian Malloy, a writer whose work I've admired for some time and who was gracious enough to introduce me.  I signed a book for him and thought about the first time we met when I asked him to sign his book for me.

Then people started coming.  I had asked the Loft to arrange for 30 people, figuring we could add seats.  Brian said that they had set up for 50 and I thought, well, they know this better than I do, newbie that I am.  Turns out, they had to add seats.  It was packed!

Usually, that would make me even more nervous.  Instead, I could feel the energy in the lobby feeding me.

And, then, I got the best surprise of the night.  My college roommate, Jenny, who lives in Chicago, appeared!  She had flown up just for the occasion, which was glorious enough.  But it was also deeply meaningful for me.  Jenny went into social work, interviewing sexual assault victims at the same time that I started working at the domestic violence clinic.  For three years, we walked in step, learning about professional distancing and coping with the stories we were told.  If I had a hard day and needed someone to ground me, she was the person I would call.  It was a powerful moment to have her with me as I stepped into this new career, too.

I got ready.  Brian introduced me and I went up to the podium.

If you follow this blog, you'll know that I had to learn to trick myself into public speaking and then struggled even harder with reading my own material.  So, I decided yesterday that this reading wasn't for me; it was for my readers.

And that became vibrantly evident as I stood at the podium.  So many of the audience members were not only friends, but had been a part of the journey as I wrote Split, providing me with emotional support or manuscript critiques, or acting as a sounding board, or feeding me little lines and moments for my book.  And now, they had come to celebrate with me and it gave me a chance to finally say thank you.

From the first time I read, four years ago, until now, my goal for readings had been simple:  I wanted to enjoy myself.  I reasoned that if the reader ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

And for the first time, I got it.  The reading was easy and fun.  I got some laughs, talked about all the things I wanted to say, forgetting to thank only a few people (and the Loft, of all places).  The Q & A was fantastic, with two of my friends, (Jenny and Kit, who had also worked with Domestic Violence victims) feeding me the best questions.

Post-reading, I signed books -- I have no idea what I wrote to people.  I just hope what I wrote makes sense.  (I have a book that is signed from a debut novel on her launch night that says, Swati, I can't wait to read your swati when it comes out.)

And then the reading was done, but the high was so great, that I could barely sleep, got up a few hours later, still smiling and still too excited to sleep.

Now I know I promised more about the "Split Tour" today.  Forgive me.  It will be up on Tuesday.  This post is long enough on it's own.

But I'll leave you with this:  one of my teachers, Alexs Pate, told me that getting published is like getting married.  Somehow, once those vows are said, you are different and you can never go back and you never even want to.

After last night, I see what he means.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tonight, tonight!

There's an event that you've all heard of right?  I've been publicizing it non-stop.  I've invited more people to it than I did to my wedding.  You're invited, too!

In case all my shouting from the rooftops didn't make it to the rock you are hiding under, pop by the Loft (Open Book Building, 1011 Washington Ave S., MPLS) tonight at 7 PM for the Launch of Split!  It should be a blast -- a party!  There will even be some Mexican munchies after the reading.  Free.

  And then tune in tomorrow to learn all about "Split's Tour!"  It will be a multi-city engagement!

Friday, March 19, 2010

On Giving Readings

Shortly after I graduated from college and landed my first job, my boss asked me to introduce her at a talk.  I had no idea what to say, so I pretty much said nothing.  Just a "Mary asked me to introduce her and here she is."  Seriously, I think that's all I said.  Maybe less.

Since, one of my job requirements to train up to 200 people at a time, I had to learn how to say more than a few words in front of a crowd.  So, I did what any logical, honest person would:  I tricked myself.  I reasoned: no one comes for me.  They want information is a reliable and quick way.  My trick served me well.  As a presenter.  As a teacher.  

But definitely not as a reader of my own work.  I can't hide behind the material because the material is something I've created.  I've invariably gotten ill before readings. Given this little phobia, I was concerned about reading on the radio.  Not only an audience, but it was being recorded.  I prepared diligently, taking a few hours, marking up my copy, and timing out the segments.  

I walked into the booth.  Five microphones were perched around a table with a center console where someone was doing a show.  The microphones were ridiculously huge.  (Why do microphones needed steroids? I wondered.)  I put on the headphones, listened to the opening, and started reading.  

And I loved it.  Not having a visible audience seemed to free me.  The interview was a blast; I received great questions from Charlotte Sullivan.  When I was done, I had no idea what a said.  Good thing it is downloadable from KFAI.

I have a big reading coming up, the launch of Split on March 20th at the Loft at 7 PM.  I've invited everyone.  You're invited, too.  Come on by.  See if my new trick works.  This reading, I've learned, isn't for me; it isn't even about me.  It's about my readers.  And knowing that, I'm ready.  I hope.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Winner Announced for 3 Rivers Rising Giveaway

Congrats to Caroline Starr Rose!  You'll have an ARC of Jame's lovely book your hands very soon.

Thanks to all who entered! If this was any indication of Jame's forthcoming success, I'm sure she is grinning from ear to ear.

I suppose the downside of the doing a drawing is that there is only one winner.  Sorry to all who didn't get it. The only consolation I can give you is that in one month you can buy it!  I know I am pre-ordering my copy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Reminder -- One Day Left

To win Jame Richard's fantastic Three Rivers Rising, enter here for a signed ARC!  Kirkus gave it a starred review.

I suspect this book will be big once awards roll around.  In fact, it has already won a Pen New England and the Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.

Some details:

Three Rivers Rising by Jame RichardsSixteen-year-old Celestia spends every summer with her family at the elite resort at Lake Conemaugh, a shimmering Allegheny Mountain reservoir held in place by an earthen dam. Tired of the society crowd, Celestia prefers to swim and fish with Peter, the hotel’s hired boy. It’s a friendship she must keep secret, and when companionship turns to romance, it’s a love that could get Celestia disowned. These affairs of the heart become all the more wrenching on a single, tragic day in May, 1889. After days of heavy rain, the dam fails, unleashing 20 million tons of water onto Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the valley below. The town where Peter lives with his father. The town where Celestia has just arrived to join him. This searing novel in poems explores a cross-class romance—and a tragic event in U.S. history.
"I loved this powerful story that is wrought with such skill and told in soaring language. Readers will long remember these memorable characters as they struggle against disaster. A splendid work!"
 -- Patricial Reilly Giff
 I'l be sad to part with it, but you'll be happy to receive it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Release Day

I had some misgivings about release day.  My theater background means that opening night is a big deal:  you get your first audience, get your first feedback, and of course, you get to see the performance how it was meant to be seen.

But releasing a book is different.  And I was worried it would be a little anticlimactic.

My day started out with the highlight.  My 8-year old daughter invited me to join her in her classroom to celebrate the release.  I was a little worried about talking to second graders about domestic violence.  I told them that Split was inspired by a time when I used to help people handle bullies.  I think that's pretty fair.

I asked them to tell me about a time they had helped someone.  Oh did those hands go up!  Everyone had helped someone:  a baby sister whose diaper needed a change; a friend who needed a band aid, a boy who played with someone who was feeling left out.  We talked about the cover and it didn't take long before someone said he could see the faces, not just the keys.  Oooh.  Ahhh.  Really cute.

I went from there to breakfast with my husband and a couple of friends of mine, Patrick Hueller and Charlotte Sullivan -- both of whom will have books out someday, both of whom helped me along on Split's journey.

Then I had this totally wonderful experience inside Barnes and Noble.

 OMG! Top Shelf. Centered.

Ooo... signing stock!

See the green sticker on the cover.  It says autographed copy!

So amazing.  I hit a bunch of stores before picking up my kids from school.

To finish out this practically perfect day, I headed out to dinner with more friends.  We ate Indian food and celebrated.  They brought me beautiful flowers and a Starbucks gift card "for the next book" they said, knowing that my favorite way to work is at Starbucks with my earbuds in.  They also had bought books and I signed those.

But the best compliment of the night was that I could not sign books for two of my friends.  Why?  Because the wonderful, independent bookstore, The Wild Rumpus SOLD OUT! (More copies due in on Friday.)

Not anticlimactic at all.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Up next on Second Story Reading Series: Lynne Jonell and Stephanie Watson

Little refresher:  Heather Bouwman and I co-curate the Loft's Second Story Reading Series.  We feature MG and YA authors and pair them up so that readers can come for their favorite and discover another author.  We've been having a blast at these.  

This time we are doing book giveaways!  You'll have a chance to win Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls, and The Secret of Zoom.  But that's not all.  You could also win Elvis and Olive or an ARC of Stephanie Watson's second in the Elvis and Olive Series, which is coming out in July. Honestly, these book are so great that I want to enter. But, I'll buy them at the reading instead, so I won't go home empty-handed.

We'll also have tasty treats and door prizes.

And, because the Loft is awesome, all readings are free.

Second Story Readings:  A Reading Series for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Come to listen to one author.  Stay to discover another.

The Loft Literary Center
Open Book, second story
1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
Saturday, March 6th, at 10 a.m.

Lynne captures and keeps her readers from word one.  She's one of those authors who knows how to keep the pages turning while giving us such much more than a page-turner.  She gets to a deeper level that makes her stories valuable without ever sacrificing a sense of play and suspense.  I can see why she won a Minnesota Book Award for her fabulous Emmy books.  Great writing! Open one of these book and you'll sink right in.

Lynne Jonell is the author of three middle-grade novels (Emmy & the Incredible Shrinking Rat, winner of the 2008 Minnesota Book Award; Emmy & the Home for Troubled Girls, and The Secret of Zoom) and seven picture books.  Her work has received starred reviews in Horn Book, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Sesame Street Parents.  She lives in Plymouth, Minnesota with her husband and has two grown sons.  

The Secret Zoom 
By Lynne Jonel
Christina lives in a stone mansion on the edge of a forest surrounded by barbed wire, an electrified fence, and signs that read “TRESPASSERS WILL BE BOILED.” High above looms the Starkian Mountain Ridge, and deep within the forest is the laboratory where her mother was blown to bits when Christina was just a baby.
 Christina’s father, the head scientist at Loompski Labs, knows how dangerous the world can be.  So he keeps his daughter safe at home, and forbids her to talk to the very interesting orphans down the road.
 But when an orphan named Taft talks to her, whispering of a secret tunnel, Christina forgets about safety to help him escape.  All too soon she and Taft discover that there is far more to the orphanage, Loompski Labs, and the mystery of her mother’s supposed death than she ever suspected...

Stephanie's Elvis and Olive is one of the best book I've read for capturing that period in girlhood when you're just learning that your parents aren't always right, that friendships are strange and wonderous things, and that boys are next on the horizon.  Her characters are drawn in a crystal-clear fashion and I recognize them and want to spend time with them.  So, I'm excited that Elvis and Olive is a series.  

Stephanie Watson’s debut novel, Elvis & Olive, was a 2008 Junior Library Book selection and a Washington Post Book of the Week. The sequel, Elvis & Olive: Super Detectives will be on store shelves in July of 2010. Last year, Stephanie created Life is Life, an online story in words and pictures. A groundbreaking storytelling experiment, Life is Life has drawn online readers from over 50 countries.
In addition to creating fiction, she teaches writing at the Loft Literary Center, gives classes in improvisation at Dreamland Arts in St. Paul, and runs a web copywriting agency called PlumLines. 

Elvis and Olive
By Stephanie Watson
Ten-year-old Natalie Wallis is a shy bookish perfectionist. Annie Beckett (age nine) is a wild tomboy liar. Why do these two very different girls become friends? Because they’ve got some serious spying to do.
“Even the most dull-looking people do all kinds of weird, interesting things when they think no one’s watching,” Annie says. With this in mind, the girls form a secret spying club and start snooping on their neighbors under the code names Elvis & Olive.

By the end of their summer together, Elvis & Olive have uncovered a number of strange secrets about their neighbors. Eaten far too many freeze pops. And formed a friendship like no other.