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First - here are a few updates/winners of a few contests I am behind on:
1) Mundie Moms Pinterest contest for Untraceable/Uncontrollable is still going on until 10/16. Huge Nature of Grace package is at stack.
2) The winner of my Nature of Grace contest for helping spread the word is Daisy at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will email you!
3) The winner of the 20 ebook giveaway last month - is Susan Sowers Light at email@example.com. I will email you!
Free ebook experiment
So 2 weeks before I put Uncontrollable out, I decided to put Untraceable free for 2 weeks. This takes some effort and adjusting since Amazon doesn't allow free pricing. My thinking? Maybe if I open up the readership more, it will drive up interest for Uncontrollable.
Many thought I was crazy for giving Untraceable away for free. Some thought it was a mistake, afraid it would cheapen my book. And I must admit, the thought of my book being free was horrible. My book is worth more than free. I've seen some of the books on free and I felt my value justified a higher price. But I kept telling myself it was an experiment. It was only 2 weeks. (a long 2 weeks).
This is what I tell people about marketing - sometimes you have to experiment and see what works for you. I have a couple other experiments going on so I'll update on those when I can.
So here is how it went:
That's over 100,000 people that have my book in a queue. If I get a 10% conversion rate (which is high) that could be 10,000 in potential sales for Uncontrollable.
- Over 65,000 downloads on Amazon! (my goal was 25,000 so you can imagine my surprise) I was #2 in all Amazon ebooks on the free list
- Over 40,000 downloads on Apple. I was #2 in all ibooks on free list just under the Ipad user guide
- Under 1,000 on Kobo/Smashwords/Other combined
Aftermath (week after untraceable went free and uncontrollable was launched)
- Over 500 reviews on Apple (I had about 20 to begin with)
- about 100 emails in last week asking about the series
- 400 downloads for Unspeakable (free short story in the series)
- increase in sales of my other books
- 1600 sales for Uncontrollable (actual monetary sales in a week)
- 1200 for Untraceable (actual monetary sales in a week) - securing my 10,000 in sales in one year goal.
- This was my biggest week in sales and money yet since I published 9 months ago.
Lessons learnedNow, tons of people put their books for free and don't get this many downloads. Here are some tips.
- 100,000 downloads I didn't make money on :( I wish!
- My first 1 star review on Amazon (and it is a doosey ;) - I consider this a battle scar to be proud of.
- Question of "does going free diminish the value of my book?"
- Pissing off people who paid.
- It doesn't work for everyone or every book. Some of it is pure luck of the draw.
- It takes time to contact all the sites and they don't always pick it up.
- There are thousands of books that are free so it's hard to stand out.
- Have a good cover!! Get people who don't know you to look at it. It's amazing how many self pubbed authors really think their covers are good but they are not. If your book is not selling, chances are it's your cover.
- Let ebook sites know. There are many sites that post about free ebooks to their readers. I had 20,000 downloads just in the first day I submitted/contracted to about 30 ebook sites sales.
- Keep it short term. Going free is a good SHORT term marketing technique where you set an end in mind. Unless you have a longer series out (over 3 books) and then maybe the first book for free would bleed into your others.
- Upload directly. Make sure you upload to Apple and Kobo yourself. This gives you the freedom to control your pricing. Amazon price matches so if anyone has it free. If you are only on Smashwords, you cannot control when the price gets distributed to the sites.
Here are some other articles that discuss advantages and disadvantages of going free.
First, the GOODREADS GIVEAWAY for a signed copy of the TOO PICKLEY! Board Book
starts today. While TOO PICKLEY! came out in 2010, the board book is a brand new release and it's adorable. So, stop on over and enter. It's as simple as a click.
Then, at 4:00 PM today (10/1), I'll be visiting Castlewood Library for CROWNS, CORNERS AND CREATIVITY.
Stop by for some interactive storytelling and crafts to take home. Then help me color a Crazy Corner that will be on display at the library all month long. While I won't be selling books at this event, I'm happy to sign prepurchased copies. My books are available at Amazon and all your favorite booksellers - like The Tattered Cover
On Wednesday (10/3) at 7:00 PM, I'll be visiting Koelbel Library and repeating CROWNS, CORNERS AND CREATIVITY.
Stop by for some interactive storytelling and crafts to take home. Then help me color a Crazy Corner that will be on display at the library all month long. While I won't be selling books at this event, I'm happy to sign prepurchased copies. My books are available at Amazon and all your favorite booksellers - like The Tattered Cover.
On Saturday 10/6 I'll be presenting WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? A PICTURE BOOK'S LINK TO LITERACY at the Colorado Association of Educators of Young Children Conference.
And I'll be giving away LOTS of door prizes. While I won't be selling books at this event, I'm happy to sign prepurchased copies. My books are available at Amazon all your favorite booksellers - like The Tattered Cover
TIME OUT FOR TEACHERS!
is in full swing. I'd love to virtually visit your classroom. Check out ALL the details here
for loads of FREE RESOURCES for teachers.
And speaking of free resources, Disney Hyperion has created this gorgeous, FREE DOWNLOADABLE LIGHT UP THE NIGHT POSTER
with activities on the back - a perfect addition to a library, classroom or kid's room!
And finally, are you looking for a GREAT READ? How about 52 of them? Check out 52 Great Reads Prepared by the Center for the Book
in conjunction with the Library of Congress and the National Book Festival! I think you'll recognize a few titles on the list!
That's it for now! Have a great week!
By: Rebecca (Becky) Fjelland Davis,
Blog: Becky's Blog
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I wonder if how people are jerked by the heartstrings while driving along during fall harvest. I drove from home to Forest City, Iowa and back on Saturday for Waldorf Homecoming. On the way down, I passed too many combines to count. The first field I passed where there were trucks and wagons lined up along the end rows almost stopped my heart. I love the smell and sounds and sight of a golden field ripe and being picked. And I miss getting to drive a tractor or a truck to help--or to do the chores at home so my dad and brother could stay in the field. I loved fall on the farm.
I was in somewhat of a hurry (imagine that!) so I didn't stop to take pictures. I just snapped these two on the go. I also had about a six-mile detour on gravel. Since I live on a gravel road, it didn't faze me until I heard a familiar rattle and roar that I haven't heard close up for a couple decades. Tears started running down my face. It was simply the roar of corn being augered into a grain bin, but the sound is so much ingrained in my being that hearing it made me miss my dad and being on the farm to the point of tears.
As I drove on, instead of being sad, I felt grateful that I had loved my growing up years on the farm so much that such a thing as the sound of corn augering could make me cry. And I loved every minute of driving through the midwestern fields, lush and golden, in spite of the drought we've had this year.
Here's the Scarville Lutheran Cemetery sign. I had to snap a picture of that, too. The pastor at Fjeldberg Lutheran Church in the late seventies, Rev. Norris, came from Scarville to Huxley. His daughter Barb ended up in my dorm at Waldorf and was a friend of mine. It felt serendipitous to drive past this cemetery on the way to the reunion.
I didn't take enough pictures....but I had a blast with friends I hadn't seen for over thirty years. I sold some books at an alumni craft sale in Salveson Hall in the afternoon...but the best part was getting to see Jeneen (here), Bev, Pam, Carol, Sue, Liz, Diane, Nancy, Kathy, Kris, Mark, Ron, Mike, Bruce, Gary, and many more. I'm waiting for more pictures from more friends, and maybe I'll post a few more.
Nominations for this year's Cybils started today. When you consider I don't have a dog in this fight/race/game (whatever analogy you like best) I am feeling quite excited about Cybil Season. Perhaps it's because I don't have a dog doing anything.
I'll be placing an Interlibrary Loan order soon from the Cybil nominee list.
Some exciting new books for kids are premiering tomorrow, October 2nd.
Madeline L'Engle's 1962 Newbery Award winning, A WRINKLE IN TIME, is being revisited as a graphic novel.
SON by Lois Lowry is the fourth book in her futuristic world that began with THE GIVER, another Newbery winner, and continued with GATHERING BLUE and MESSENGER.
Both these new stories are fantasies. I told you last week about just having finished ADVENT by James Treadwell. That fantasy reminded me of a classic fantasy series by Susan Cooper, THE DARK IS RISING. You should check it out.
All of the above reads have been for YA readers, but another fun fantasy series is THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN by Lloyd Alexander. It's not new, but middle grade readers should enjoy it. Lots of adventure, plus some laughs.
Today is the perfect day to start exploring a new world. Why not open a book and begin your adventure--if you dare!
By: Lindsay Eland,
Blog: Lindsay Eland
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The cool air of fall whispers gently through the aspens.
Winter takes in its breath, fluttering the leaves, preparing itself for its months of work.
Summer packs her bags and dusts the window sills.
Her boxes are packed and, like a proud and lonely widow, she prepares her yard for a last good-bye feast. Fall crunches up the pathway and joins her in the kitchen, bundled in blankets, sipping on hot chocolate with mittened fingers. During the day he takes out his paintbrush and sweeps it across the trees, preparing for the good-bye, and flushing Summer’s cheeks with crisp morning air.
Then slowly, as guests enjoy her last rays of warm sunshine and bare shoulders, Summer slips out the back door while no one is watching.
She starts her car and dries her eyes. She rumbles softly down the road on a whisp of wind. And even in the midst of her memories that mix inside her with a swirl of sadness and laughter, her heart begins burning with the heat of expectation for the next year.
I blow her a kiss goodbye.
And Goodbye’s are a promise of another hello.
No related posts.
Thank you to everyone who entered to win and who helped me celebrate the reveal of the cover for SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013)!
****The WINNER OF PRIZE PACK #1 is Jessie (@thejessiebelle)!
An ARC of MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH
by Bethany Griffin (Greenwillow, April 24, 2012)
An ARC of CODE NAME VERITY
by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion, May 15, 2012)
An ARC of THUMPED
by Megan McCafferty (Balzer & Bray, April 24, 2012)
An ARC of ILLUMINATE
by Aimee Agresti (Harcourt, March 6, 2012)
An ARC of FALL FROM GRACE
by Charles Benoit (Harper, May 8, 2012)The WINNER OF PRIZE PACK #2 is Lisa (alterlisa)!
An ARC of GLIMMER
by Phoebe Kitanidis (Balzer & Bray, April 17, 2012)
An ARC of THE INFECTS
by Sean Beaudoin (Candlewick, September 25, 2012)
An ARC of ECHO
by Alyson Noel (St. Martins Press, November 13, 2012)
A Paperback of THE WOOD QUEEN
by Karen Mahoney (Flux, February 8, 2012)
An ARC of IMMORTAL CITY
by Scott Speer (Razorbill, April 3, 2012)The WINNER OF PRIZE #3 is Haunted Orchid!
$20 GIFT CARD to the online bookstore of your choice
Thank you all!
Yesterday I was delighted to be one of four authors invited to attend the Associates of the Boston Public Library's 2012 Literary Lights For Children tea party. Each author (Kevin Hawkes, Christopher Paolini, Gary Schmidt, and myself) was introduced by a Boston middle schooler, and asked to speak about how we became readers and writers. My host was a dapper, delightful 8th-grader from Chelsea:
The Bates Reading Room in the Boston Public Library was packed (photo courtesy of Newton South High School's Denebola
Host and emcee Gregory Maguire (WICKED) and his daughter were there to cheer us on:
I spoke second, and here's my introduction and talk, again courtesy of the Newton South High School Denebola newspaper staff (my bit starts about halfway through):
What a marvelous event, encouraging and uplifting, and in such a beautiful venue—a must-see if you visit Boston. Thanks to the Associates, to Charlesbridge (my publisher) for donating books, and to all who attended.
I didn't stop walking. I couldn't. I was running after light, or toward it. Running away from storms and into cloisters and through cyclists. A rainbow burst. A boy played a trumpet for a girl. An egret spoke at length with a magpie. Then this happened.
Everywhere I go I find gifts I would have bought for my mother. Stories I might have told her.
Every time there’s a discussion of what to do about men harassing women someone jumps up to proclaim: “Women never call it harassment if a good-looking man cracks on to them. You’re only a creeper if the woman doesn’t find you attractive.” I have addressed the second half of this argument at length here.
However, I did not address what I think of as the Brad Pitt defence. I.e. “If I was Brad Pitt you wouldn’t call this harassment!”
This argument drives me nuts. Here’s why.
Newsflash: Not everyone thinks Brad Pitt is hot.
I don’t. The idea that there’s a universally agreed standard of good looking is crap. Sure, many women seem to think George Clooney is gorgeous. But I have friends who think he looks like a smarmy creep. And shocking yet true: there are women who do not think Idris Elba is divine. I know, right?
Second newsflash: Thinking someone looks hot in the abstract does not mean you’ll find them attractive in real life.
A friend of mine had a huge crush for many years on a prominent cricketer. She was a journalist and one day she got to interview him IN REAL LIFE! Dream come true, right? Not so much. Within seconds he was hitting on her in a really creepy way. He made her skin crawl. He was awful!
There is often little connection between who you find attractive in real life and who you think looks great in a photo or on the silver screen. For me sense of humour is key. If I met Mr. Elba and he had no sense of humour? That would be the end of that little crush.
Then there’s the hard-to-describe physicality: the way the person moves, the way they smile, their scent. All of which has not much to do with what they look like in a photograph.
In real life some of the most repulsive men I’ve had the misfortune to interact with have been conventionally good looking. These were men who assumed all they have to do to get any woman into their bed is to snap their fingers. Often guys like that are not used to hearing the word “no” and react very badly to hearing it.
So, yes, there are good-looking men who can and do harass. There are good-looking men who can and do rape.
Of course, what I find most ironic about the Brad Pitt defence is that study after study after study shows that it is men—straight and gay—who are far more concerned about good looks, not women. It’s men who are far more likely to date a woman (or man) purely because they’re hot, not women.
One of the most common writing myths out there is the idea that you have to write every single day in order to be a writer.
Some people totally do this, and more power to them. They set word count goals, they wake up early or stay up late, they bend schedules to make sure they're getting some words down every single day.
Not me. Barring catastrophic deadlines I only write my novels on the weekend, and the vast majority of my blog posts too. And I know I'm not alone. Not all the writers out there are beholden to a routine or a schedule.
I worry that this myth intimidates people who would otherwise excel at writing from pursuing their writing dreams. Every single day is a major, major commitment, and not everyone could or even should do it. Sometimes your brain needs a break to unlock a problem or maybe you just have a different rhythm.
So don't fret if you are a somewhat sporadic writer. As long as your productivity remains high whatever your schedule you'll be just fine.Art: Les raboteurs de parquet by Gustave Caillebotte
By: Mark Miller,
Blog: From the land of Empyrean
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, Great Minds Think Aloud
, teen angst
, fantasy poetry
, burn survivor
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My guest today, Dawn Colclasure, shares her thoughts on writing poetry and how the author can escape into his/her own special world.
When it comes to writing poetry, one rule of fiction applies: There are several types of genres to choose from. You can write romantic poetry, horror poetry or fantasy poetry. Writing futuristic poetry is another option – even poets like to envision what kind of world we may one day live in.
And sometimes, it’s not even our world that we write about when we write poetry. It could be any kind of world at all, one of our own making that can exist in fantasy poetry. This is where the poet has the chance to “escape” to a world where we can only dream about certain things actually happening. A cure for a disease? It’s there. A magical potion to take the burn scars away? Find it in the mysterious cellar. Something to use against nightmare monsters compromising our ability to sleep? It’s just a wish away.
Writing fantasy poetry offers the poet another benefit: We have the chance to step into a world where we can be ourselves without criticism. If we always dreamed of traveling the world as a dancing magician, it can happen with fantasy poetry. Another benefit is that writing fantasy poetry allows the poet to be seen by others for who we are on the inside – someone who is big, brave and magical – and not how we are on the outside – scarred, broken or slow.
That’s one thing writing fantasy poetry does for me. With fantasy poetry, I can be beautiful and not scarred or I can hear instead of being deaf. And I can do anything with two good strong hands when I only have one hand that has all five fingers on it (the other hand has three). My poetry chapbook, Follow That Dream
, may have poems about what it’s like to be in a hospital so much and teen angst, but it also has fantasy poetry where I got to be a maiden or a sea captain. Poetry brought those worlds to life. Fantasy poetry allows me to create the kind of world where the scarred and disabled are not so limited and completely accepted just as they are.
When the poet sits down to write, no matter what kind of poetry that will be written, it is a chance to create a world where anything is possible, even a cure. Even acceptance. It’s a world where magic happens, and that’s the greatest kind of world to escape to of all.
About the author:
Dawn Colclasure is a writer who lives in Oregon. Her articles, essays, poems and short stories have appeared in several newspapers, anthologies, magazines and E-zines. She is the author of seven books, among them BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We Survive as Writing Parents; 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity; Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion
and the children’s book The Yellow Rose
. She is co-author of the book Totally Scared: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses
. Her Web site is at http://dmcwriter.tripod.com/
About the book: Follow that dream. Take a few moments to read poems meant to seek refuge from the harsh realities of life, from pain, confusion and loneliness. Allow these poems to take you on a journey of wherever your imagination may lead you. The poems in this book share coming-of-age struggles and the fantasies created in order to offer a temporary escape from the real world.
Follow That Dream
ONLY $5.99 in paperback
ONLY $2.99 for Kindle
By: Mark Miller,
Blog: From the land of Empyrean
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, ticking clock
, Kate Tenbeth
, wicked step-mother
, cover art
, Elizabeth Eisen
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My friend, and author, Kate Tenbeth has an exciting new release! Here is the official story from her publisher:
Hello everyone! GMTA Publishing has a new YA novel set to come out on October 1st by Kate Tenbeth! Here's your first look at the amazing cover by UK artist Elizabeth Eisen!
About the book:
There are always high stakes to play for in the world of gambling, but it’s a world 15 year-old Holly Maddon knows nothing about until her step-mother tries to kill her. The race is on as she tries to discover what her step-mother is up to and whether her father was murdered. She comes up against gangsters, multi-million pound land deals, treachery and deceit, she’s kidnapped, shot at and loses just about everything she loves – it’s a rollercoaster of a ride and Holly's intent on turning the tables. About the author:
I live in Essex with my son, who is studying at University, and my two cats, Puzzle and Bud. I’ve always loved writing and in January 2011 I got together with some friends and set up a writers’ group at our local library. One of our first guest speakers was a young lady called Penelope Fletcher who talked to us about self-publishing – I was so inspired I went back home, found some stories I’d written for my son when he was young and started the process of learning how to self-publish. I published 3 books in the Burly & Grum series
and then in July 2012 was lucky enough to be signed up by GMTA. I’ve enjoyed every single second of my journey so far, learnt an incredible amount and I’m looking forward to the future! About the artist:
Elizabeth Eisen is a 23 year old freelance illustrator from North London. She graduated from the University of Westminster with a BA Hons in Illustration in 2011 and has since worked on commissions ranging from album artwork to editorial. Further examples of her work can be found at www.elizabetheisenillustration.co.uk
Get Unlucky Dip by Kate Tenbeth today!
ONLY $3.99 on Amazon Kindle
(FREE to Prime users)
reports on a monkey previously unknown to science. It's the second African monkey to be "discovered" in 28 years.
Conservation biologist John Hart heard that a schoolmaster's daughter at the edge of a forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had an unusual pet monkey known locally as a "lesula." Hart tracked its growth for 19 months, and then observed individuals in the wild. The lesula spends most of its time on the ground foraging in small groups. The Guardian
describes the face as sensitive and intelligent, "like it is sitting for its portrait by Rembrandt. It reveals a staggeringly insightful, wise, and melancholy face. Like Rembrandt's son Titus in the portrait of him by his father that hangs in London's Wallace Collection
, the lesula looks right back at its beholder, calm and pensive, examining you as you examine it. Its eyes have the depth and frankness of those seen in moving portraits on Roman-era mummies from the Fayoum
, or in Antonello da Messina's haunting portrait
of a man gazing back out of a glassy oil panel."
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for CynsationsGwenda Bond
is the first-time author of Blackwood
(Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry, 2012)(excerpt
). From the promotional copy:On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island's most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can't dodge is each other.
Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America's oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.Looking back, are you surprised to debut in 2012, or did that seem inevitable? How long was your journey, what were the significant events, and how did you keep the faith?
Honestly, I think I’d just gotten to the place where I’d accepted that it wasn’t inevitable I would publish a novel when we got the offer on the book. I had more or less made peace—after a couple of books didn’t sell—that things might not go according to plan. I would keep writing, choosing whatever stories felt right, hoping, still and always hoping, and working as hard as I could, but knowing that it might not happen and definitely not on any predictable timetable.
I had a visual prompt for this, actually, but a digression first.
In college, I had an excellent writing teacher who happened to teach a class in screenwriting. I’ve always loved movies and always wanted to tell big stories. I was seduced by that form, so I spent several years post-college writing scripts, many of them surrounded by amazingly talented writers from whom I learned too much to say in a private online workshop called The Left Door run by Max Adams
. Eventually, I realized books were my first love, and that YA books were what my natural voice was most inclined toward. YA was what I should be writing.
So, I wrote a now-trunked novel that my dear friend Kelly Link
and a newish (but now super-successful) agent both kindly gave me extensive notes on which I used to revise it, before I finally put it away.
After that, I started the novel that would become Blackwood, but stalled out. I started another novel, and decided to go to grad school, because I felt like I needed that kind of hothouse environment to really learn how to write a novel (which is, in fact, way different than writing a script).
I’m lucky to have many genius writer friends, but they were mostly a bit further along in their careers than me, and I really wanted to try to find a community where I felt more comfortable being at the level I was. Vermont’s Writing for Children and YAs program
was the only one I was interested in. And it was extraordinary for meeting that need, and for providing peers and mentors in general.
While I was doing the Vermont program, the city where we live—Lexington, Kentucky—was preparing to host the 2010 World Equestrian Games
. This is where the visual comes in.
They hung a digital countdown clock up downtown that would count down 1,000 days until the games. At the time, it seemed like a huge expanse of time. Surely, I’d manage to sell and/or publish a novel by the time the clock ran out. I vowed that I would. And I’d see this visual reminder of that vow every day.
I still remember driving past it on the last day before the games, when the clock read OOOO, and, of course, I hadn’t sold a book.
But the thing was, I actually didn’t feel like a failure. Mostly I felt bemused, because I’d been working toward that goal the whole time, and I did feel closer to it. But I also felt like I’d learned that working against some artificial clock wasn’t smart or productive or logical.
There is no clock. There is only you, your own development as a writer, and the support of the people you’re lucky enough to have in your corner. I am very lucky to have a family and a husband who always believed, and also luckier than I could ever express that my agent, the fabulous Jennifer Laughran
, never lost faith (or she hid it extremely well, because I never picked up on it).
And I think the fact I kept working was part of that, too. If it wasn’t this novel, maybe it’d be the next one. So as far as keeping the faith, it was more about staying in the game. Learning, putting everything I had into making each book the best I could, whether that ended up being good enough or not. I don’t regret any manuscript or draft or story mistake I’ve made. I’m glad things have worked out the way they have. This was my journey. I wouldn’t want to pretend it never happened.
For those of you out there feeling like you’ll never sell, hang in there. Keep working.
Don’t get married to one story, but also know that it’s okay to have a night every now and then when you rail and cry and feel sorry for yourself…so long as you keep working (if this is really what you want; giving up actually is a perfectly viable option—except for those of us who can’t).
As long as you’re working, you haven’t failed at the important part. You’re a writer. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Also, it’s worth noting that the imprint I ended up selling to didn’t even exist when I started the book, but has been a fabulous home for this novel. Luck and timing are huge factors, and mostly out of our control. Focusing on what we can control is always the best strategy—and that’s the writing, and maybe a very few other things. But, mainly, the writing.As a fantasy writer, going in, did you have a sense of how events/themes in your novel might parallel or speak to events/issues in our real world? Or did this evolve over the course of many drafts?
|Gwenda's desk (pre-revision)|
I have a particular love of bringing the old and smashing it up against the new to see what kind of story happens.
Blackwood is a Lost Colony of Roanoke story, and it’s set on modern day Roanoke Island, so these were issues I was dealing with from the very beginning.
I thought long and hard about how much to fictionalize, what it was okay to take a leap from, and what I wanted the story to be based on the facts I had to work with.
There’s a long tradition of riffing on the story of the Lost Colony, so I ended up feeling on safe ground to create and change what I needed to. Most of the leaps I made did come directly from my historical research—even the influence of alchemy on the early excursions to the New World isn’t a complete stretch, it turns out.
I also drew on my own experience coming from a small town in the south in creating my Roanoke Island—which incorporates many actual local landmarks and, while fictionalized, is definitely based on and inspired by the real island. Where I grew up, my parents were both principals, and I was a girl with some authority issues as a result. Everyone knew everyone else. There were things I loved about growing up there, and things that felt extremely limiting at the time.
I feel those things went into the book on a subconscious level, at least in early drafts, but got teased out more clearly as the book progressed. One of the main themes in the book is how much we’re defined by our family histories and how much we make our own destiny, and I think that’s a question all teens face at some point.
I was always nervous about how people who live on the island would feel about the book. But I had the most amazing experience there recently.
The co-owner of the local bookstore in Manteo on Roanoke Island—Duck’s Cottage Downtown Books
, visit them if you’re ever in the Outer Banks—kindly read an early copy, started circulating advance copies around town, and invited me to come for a pre-release signing.
In the novel, Miranda Blackwood is an intern at the theater where The Lost Colony show is produced. The theater is a major setting for many of the story’s key events.
In reality, this past year was the theater’s 75th anniversary season. It’s a local institution. The bookstore co-owner contacted the show and they actually sent the actors who play Eleanor Dare (mother of Virginia, the first English child born in the Americas, and a character in Blackwood) and John Borden (a fictionalized character based on a real colonist) in full, gorgeous costume to the event.
Several other people from the theater and the town came by, too, all extremely gracious and wonderful. So, that was a particularly surreal experience, a fictional dream come true.
I hope some readers will want to delve deeper into the fascinating history of the Lost Colony.Cynsational Notes
Check out the Pinterest board
for Blackwood and Gwenda's pics
of Roanoke Island.Cynsational Giveaway
Enter to win a signed copy of Blackwood
by Gwenda Bond
(Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry, 2012), an ultra-limited edition Blackwood T-shirt, a handmade duct tape rose pen and bonus bookmarks. Author sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. only.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Apartment dwellers often wish
They had a bit more space, Yet there exist some studios Few humans could embrace. I read about these dwellings, The occupants were smiling, Proud of their New York address. They didn’t have much clutter; Every object had its place. Most used them just for sleeping – Not quite home, but more home base. “The city is my living room, Fits neatly in my tiny space,” One took time to express. To each his own, I always say, But there’d be not a trace Of normalcy inside of me – If I were forced to live there Or just visit once too often; I’ll settle for such real estate
You may think you know some weirdos, possibly a few in your own family, but chances are, these eccentrics are colorless bores next to some of the bizarre types found in the nonhuman animal kingdom. It's hard to say which is numero uno, the panda with its five fingers and so-called pseudothumb, the changeable chameleon, whose lightning-fast tongue is almost twice as long as its body, or the tuatara, which has third eyelid in the top of its head and is the only survivor of a group of reptiles that lived during the time of the dinosaurs.
Weirdness, of course, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder--or, in the case of the tuatara, in the third eye of the beholdee. It all depends on who, or what, you are. Just as there are varying degrees of beauty, so are there different levels of weirdness. Some animals and humans merely look weird; others act weird; and some look at weird as they act or vice versa. These and other animal weirdos are the topic of my EXPLORING NATURE podcast for October 1, 2012. Air time: 2-2:30 PM, ET, or listen to archived show anytime.
1) Thanks so much to everyone who turned out for the launch party on Saturday! I had massive amounts of fun. The Yellow Book Road was a perfect venue—what a gem of a store. San Diego-area folks, if you haven’t been down to Liberty Station to visit it, you really should make the trip. Lovely location and the kind of children’s bookshop you can fall into and never fall out.
2) It’s CYBILs time again! The Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards public nomination period opens today. Visit the site for all the details and nominate your favorite kids’ and YA books and apps of the past year in a variety of categories. I’m serving as a Round 2 judge in the Book Apps category this year—looking forward to it! Would love to hear about your favorite book apps of the year, too. (One of the many wonderful things about the CYBILs is that all the judging panels are self-contained, so that you may serve on one panel even if you have books eligible in another, as long as you have no conflict of interest with the specific panel you’re on. Whew!) Nominations are open through Oct. 15. Check out the CYBILs sidebar to see what titles have already been nominated.
3) New Thicklebit today!
Click on event name for more information
Banned Books Week: Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Freedom to Read~ ongoing until Oct 6, USA
Bath Festival of Children’s Literature~ongoing until Oct 7, Bath, United Kingdom
Wigtown Book Festival~ ongoing until Oct 7, Wigtown, United Kingdom
Hispanic Heritage Month~ ongoing until Oct 15, USA
National Year of Reading~ Australia
The Children’s Bookshow: Stories From Around The World~ ongoing until Nov 8, United Kingdom
Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award 2013~ submissions accepted until Dec 31, 2012, United Kingdom
2012 South Asia Book Award~ submissions accepted until Dec 31, 2012
SingTel Asian Picture Book Award 2013~ submissions accepted until Dec 31, 1012, Singapore
Exhibits of Winning Entries from the 2011 Growing Up Asian in America Contest~ ongoing until Feb 2013, USA
Skipping Stones Youth Honor Awards Celebrating Multicultural Awareness, International Understanding and Nature Appreciation~ submissions accepted until June 25, 2013, USA
Canadian Library Month
International School Library Month
Children’s Book Week: Heroes and Heroines~ Oct 1 – 7, United Kingdom
TaleBlazers Literary Arts Festival~ Oct 1 – 26, Province of Alberta, Canada
Children’s Book Festival~ Oct 1 – 31, Ireland
Ubud Writers and Readers Festival~ Oct 3 – 7, Ubud, Indonesia
National Poetry Day and Announcement of The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Winners ~ Oct 4, London, United Kingdom
The Craft of Reading, an Exhibition of Books Featuring Folk Art and Craft, Curated By Young India Book~ Oct 4 -10, Chennai, India
The 3rd Annual Art Auction – a Benefit for the Annual Children’s Poetry Festival in El Salvador~ Oct 5, San Francisco, CA, USA
Litquake, San Franciso’s Literary Festival (including Kidquake and Teenquake)~ Oct 5 – 13, San Francisco, CA, USA
12th Annual Conference Teaching for Social Justice: Acts of Courage and Resistance~ Oct 6, San Francisco, CA, USA
The Carthage Center for Children’s Literature’s Caldecott Celebration~ Oct 6, Kenosha, WI, USA
Frankfurt Book Fair~ Oct 10 – 14, Frankfurt, Germany
2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award Nominees Announced~ Oct 11, Frankfurt, Germany
Discussion Forum on The Hans Christian Andersen Awards~ Oct 12, Frankfurt, Germany
Children’s Book Week~ Oct 5 – 15, Netherlands
The 41st Annual Conference on South Asia~ Oct 11 – 14, Madison, WI, USA
Leonard Marcus Presents – Let the Wild Rumpus Start: Maurice Sendak as Storyteller and Psychologist~ Oct 12, Vancouver, BC, Canada
AASL Fall Forum: Transliteracy and the School Library Program~ Oct 12 – 13, Greenville, SC, USA
Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival: Memory~ Oct 12 – 14, Sheboygan, WI, USA
Esquimalt Children’s StoryFest~ Oct 13, Esquimalt, BC, Canada
Monterrey International Book Fair~ Oct 13 – 20, Monterrey, Mexico
YALSA’s Teen Read Week: It Came from the Library! ~ Oct 14 – 20, USA
Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival~ Oct 16 – 21, Vancouver, BC, Canada
The Digital Shift: Libraries, Ebooks and Beyond. A Library Journal/School Library Journal Online Event~ Oct 17
Chapter & Verse, a Book Club for Adults Discussing Children’s Lit (Frozen by Mary Casanova; A Strange Place to Call Home by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Ed Young)~ Oct 18, USA
Dark Alchemy: Literary Brews Conjured Across the Curriculum With Kenneth Oppel, Keynote Speaker and Featuring CWILL BC presenters~ Oct 19, Vancouver, BC, Canada
8th Annual World Matters Festival: Missing Peace~ Oct 20 – 21, Eltham, Australia
CHARACTER COUNTS! Week~ Oct 21 – 27
The Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award Celebration~ Oct 25, San Marcos, TX, USA
Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre Exhibits and Programs~ Fremantle, Australia
Dromkeen National Centre for Picture Book Art Exhibits~ Riddells Creek, Australia
Books Illustrated Events and Exhibitions~ Middle Park, Australia
International Youth Library Exhibits~ Munich, Germany
Tulika Book Events~ India
International Library of Children’s Literature Events~ Tokyo, Japan
Newcastle University Programme of Talks on Children’s Books for 2011-2012~ Newcastle, United Kingdom
Seven Stories (the National Home of Children’s Books in Britain) Events~ Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Discover Children’s Story Centre~ London, United Kingdom
Arne Nixon Center’s Children’s Literature Book Clubs for Adults Events~ USA
Events Sponsored by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress~ USA
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art~ Amherst, MA, USA
The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature Exhibits~ Abilene, TX, USA
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Events
"Whenever books are burned men also in the end are burned."
Heinrich Heine, poet, journalist, and essayist (1797-1856)
The secrets to a great pitch lies in answering these questions.
"Arguments over grammar and style are often as fierce as those over Windows versus Mac, and as fruitless as Coke versus Pepsi and boxers versus briefs."
Jack Lynch, English professor, author (b. 1967)
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I’m visiting Texas for the first time this week and just finished up the first of five days of elementary school visits in San Antonio. Tuscan Heights Elementary has a simply wonderful staff, student, and family community, and it was so much fun spending time with their 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders this morning.
Third grade reading superstars!
Fabulous Fourth Graders!
First-Rate Fifth Graders!
I talked with the kids about how reading made me a writer, shared some of my favorite research stories, from kissing frogs to exploring a tropical rain forest, and then the students had great questions. My favorite inquiry of the day? “When you kissed that frog (research for a frog-kissing scene in Marty McGuire) did you like it?”
As soon as I could stop laughing, I did answer. “Not so much.” While frog-kissing is most definitely not on my list of things to try again, I did appreciate the insight it gave me as to Marty’s predicament.
I got to meet so many great readers and writers, including Tessa, who recently wrote a proposal to get a Writing Club started at her school.
And of course, I got to spend time with Tuscany Heights Elementary’s dynamic lead-reader, school librarian Sue Keuntz.
Thanks to everyone at Tuscany Heights Elementary for such a warm, wonderful welcome. Tomorrow, I’m off to Harmony Hills Elementary – looking forward to another great day with Texas readers!