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1. Comics Take Center Stage For This Year’s Banned Books Week Celebration

banned-comicsThe American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression will celebrate Banned Books Week from September 21st to September 27th.

The organization plans to shine a spotlight on graphic novels and comics. Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee, had this statement in a press release: “This year we spotlight graphic novels because, despite their serious literary merit and popularity as a genre, they are often subject to censorship.”

The American Library Association recently revealed the top ten list of most frequently challenged books for this year. Jeff Smith’s comic series, Bone, occupies the #10 spot. Earlier this year, Smith designed the cover for Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Banned Books Week Handbook. Follow this link to access a free digital copy. Check out the entire list after the jump.


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2. Best Selling Young Adult Books | September 2014

If you're looking for a novel that will linger with you for days, The Children's Book Review's number one best selling young adult book is Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira. Our hand selected titles from the nationwide best selling young adult books, as listed by The New York Times, features titles by super-talents John Green, Ransom Riggs, and Markus Zusak.

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3. Best Selling Young Adult Books | August 2014

The latest book from non-fiction queen Candace Fleming is The Children's Book Review's number one best selling young adult book.

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4. Editors Share Secrets for Aspiring Authors

Hundreds of writers gathered at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Summer Conference in Los Angeles last weekend.

The annual “Editor’s Panel” featured a star-studded collection of editors, including Dutton Children’s Books publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel–she’s worked with Ally Condie, John Green and John Grisham, among many others. Strauss-Gabel snapped that photograph of her view from stage during the panel. GalleyCat was there, gathering advice for aspiring writers…

1. You need to send the manuscript to the right editor. Strauss-Gabel explained: “I’m very attentive to fit both the imprint and if it is a good manuscript for me. We mean it when we say ‘this is not the right manuscript for me.’ I know another editor could bring something to that manuscript that I couldn’t.” She advised writers to read an editor’s body of work and understand what kind of books they love.


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5. David Levithan Inks Deal For Musical YA Novel

David Levithan, a New York Times bestselling author and Scholastic editorial director, has landed a deal with Dutton Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Levithan plans to pen a musical novel entitled Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story. Fans will recall that this musical was featured in the collaborative novel written by Levithan and The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. For this project, he plans to share the full script.

Publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel negotiated the deal with William Morris Endeavor literary agent Bill Clegg. She will edit the manuscript herself. A release date has been set for March 2015 to honor the fifth anniversary of the publication of Will Grayson, Will Grayson.


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6. We're Back! And Talking about What We've Been Reading

Hello Readers,
I hope you're all enjoying summer (well, at least those of you in the Northern Hemisphere!). These are definitely not "lazy, hazy days" for me. I spent much of our blogging break working on lesson plans for upcoming classes, including a children's writing camp that begins today. (If you'd like to see my summer class offerings, check out my website.)

Today I'm kicking off a series of posts in which we TeachingAuthors talk about a book we recently read or are currently reading. Thanks to the lovely Linda Baie over at TeacherDance, I know about a meme in the blogging community called "It's Monday, What Are You Reading?" hosted at Teach Mentor Texts. I'm happy to have a blog post that qualifies for the roundup!

The book I'd like to discuss is John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton). Even though this bestseller has been out since 2012 and has been made into a "major motion picture," I didn't get around to reading it till this month. I might not have read it all if it hadn't been selected as one of our Anderson's Bookshop's Not for Kids Only Book Club titles for August.

I'm happy to say that even though I don't typically read or write contemporary young adult novels, I enjoyed this one. I was especially struck by two things right at the beginning:

A. The Author's Note:
In case you haven't read it (or somehow missed the page) the book includes an unusual Author's Note before Chapter One: 
Author’s Note
      This is not so much an author’s note as an author’s reminder of what was printed in small type a few pages ago: This book is a work of fiction. I made it up.
      Neither novels nor their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species.
      I appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
This note struck me for two reasons: 
  1. It reminded me of a question I'm often asked. Since my novel, Rosa, Sola, is based on events from my own childhood, readers often want to know how much of the novel "really happened." I think many who ask it are disappointed by my answer: None of it "really happened" because my life events happened to me, not to Rosa Bernardi. I don't think I could have written the story if I hadn't been able to separate myself from my character. 
  2. Green's note made me think more deeply about the nature of fiction and our purposes in reading/writing it. The note also reminded me of something I read years ago--that fiction is about Universal Truths, or "truth with a capital T." As a writer, I sometimes get so caught up in plot and craft, etc., that I can lose sight of the Truth.
If you'd like to read more about what Green meant by his Author's Note, see this page on his website.

B. That a story about cancer and death can be humorous:
From page one of The Fault in Our Stars, I was intrigued by the narrator's wit and voice. It begins:
Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
I have to admit--after first reading this sentence I wasn't completely sure Hazel was being sarcastic. After all, this was a book about a girl with cancer. But it soon became apparent that cancer hadn't killed her sense of humor. That surprised me, as did other things about the book. I'm not going to risk spoiling it for those of you who haven't read the novel yet by telling you what those other things were. I'll just say that I enjoyed the book more than I expected. And, reading as a writer, I learned from it.

I wonder how many of you, our readers, have read Green's book. I'd love to know what you thought of it. And if you have any "summer reading" recommendations, do share them with us. 

Happy writing (and reading)!

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7. When YA and A are valued equally, with thanks to Main Line Today and Main Point Books

Anybody who knows me knows how I feel about labels. Applied to people. Applied to literature.

Still, those of us who write young adult fiction must, at times, face those who suggest that it is a lesser form, not nearly as important as the work written expressly for adults—a problem I discussed in a story for Publishing Perspectives titled, "Removing the YA Label: A Proposal, A Fantasy."

(Those of us who write quote-unquote literary contemporary YA fiction must also endure the suggestion that John Green has singlehandedly ushered in this genre's golden era, but that's a topic for another conversation, and we must be careful not to blame John Green for what is written about him.)

The problem with the YA-is-lesser assessment is that the YA writers I respect aren't writing down, aren't writing in haste, aren't writing with any less literary ambition than those who write novels for adults. We're just writing stories that happen to have younger protagonists at their heart; often we're writing "whole family" tales. Always, if we're serious about this stuff, if we're writing not toward known trends but toward felt story, we're writing as best as we can.

And so I will admit to feeling equal measures of joy and peace at finding Going Over on the Main Line Today list of 10 great beach reads by local authors. Not 10 YA books. Just ten books by authors ranging from Robin Black and Jennifer Weiner to Kelly Corrigan and Ken Kalfus. Ten books curated by Cathy Feibach of Main Point Books, who has made it her business, in this, the first year of her store's existence, to get to know who is writing what and to evaluate each book on its own terms.

I am honored. And I am looking forward to next Saturday, when I will drive down Lancaster Avenue and stop in Bryn Mawr and spend an hour signing both Going Over and Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir in Cathy's store. My signing caps a full day of signings, the details for which are here. And when I'm not signing, you can be sure that I'll be buying the books I want, seeing straight past their labels.

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8. Video Sunday: Pregnant iguanas galore

This may sound a little crazy, but even though I’m on maternity leave for three months or so, this video made me nostalgic for my system. It’s the rather remarkable Why Libraries Matter short documentary from The Atlantic. Beautifully shot and LOOK! There’s Rita Meade again! Somebody give that gal her own show.

While we’re loving our libraries, let’s keep on keeping on.  Here’s Brooklyn Public Librarian Alla Roylance on her own journey and time in the library.  And yes, there are pregnant iguanas involved.

Oh, what the heck. One more.  Here’s a piece on how popular our storytimes are.  Shout outs to Danielle Kalan and Rachael Payne, who both appear in this piece.

Storytime 500x279 Video Sunday: Pregnant iguanas galore

I know he’ll soon be living in Brooklyn for a year, but I’d never had a chance to see the man behind Press Here actually speak.  Et voila!  Herve Tullet discusses his latest book.

Thanks to 100 Scope Notes for the link!

Actually, 100 Scope Notes had most of the good videos this week.  Like John Green’s 47 Charming Facts About Children’s Books.  Tell me this isn’t awesome.

Of course Fact #18 may be untrue.  I did some research for my upcoming book Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature (how’s that for a plug, eh?) and though it didn’t make the final cut I have evidence that suggests that it was Potter’s MOTHER and not Potter herself who insulted young Roald.  I do not, however, have any evidence to suggest that it wasn’t Ms. Potter who yelled at Diana Wynne Jones’s sisters for swinging on her fence.  That story appears to be legit.

And for our off-topic video, a very amusing video for Les Miserables fans.  It’s what happens when you run the lyrics to One Day More through a Google translator and back again.

Thanks to Marci for the link.





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9. Where I have been

I met Philip Gulley at Book Expo.  He is so warm and F(f)riendly. AND I got his new book.  It seems that Sam got "released" from his Friends Meeting in Harmony for standing in for the Unitarian minister for awhile.  I can't wait to read that one.

 I think I will avoid BookCon in the future.  It WAS awesome.  John Green spoke and the crowd waiting for him acted like they were waiting to see the Beatles - except most of them only have a vague notion of who the Beatles were.

Another thing about Book Con that was wonderful was the HUGE number - HUGE! - of younger readers on the floor.  What a great marketing idea!  Give your best now-and-potential customers access to their favorite authors?  Feed the future, publisher-folk.

So, maybe?  I might change my mind about BookCon.  The energy was amazing.   However, the Saturday crowd is always bigger.  The lines to meet authors were extremely long.  And I left my schedule of events on the BUS!!!  I will write my must-see events on my skin next time.

Well, I just remembered that I have MUCH to do today and time is fugit-ing.

Be well.  Read.

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10. Best Selling Young Adult Books | June 2014

If I stay by Gayle Forman has been added to our best selling young adult books for this month. The rest of the titles have remained the same, proving just how these titles truly are popular books for teens (and many adults, too).

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11. John Green Speaks Out Against Amazon

Many members of the literary community have voiced their opinion about the Amazon vs. Hachette dispute. According to The Associated Press, John Green spoke out against the online retail giant during a promotional event for The Fault in Our Stars movie. He feels that "what's ultimately at stake is whether Amazon is going to be able to freely and permanently bully publishers into eventual nonexistence." continued...

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12. All the pieces

Writer’s should read and perhaps the most compelling reason is that reading good writing reminds us of what we aspire to. 

There are a few authors whom I want to write like. On is Matt Kirby after reading Icefall.  Gary Schmidt’s Doug character pulled me into Okay For Now. MG author Tom Angleberger impressed me the way he saved the final resolution of The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda until the last page. And John Green is John Green. Who wouldn’t want to write like him? 

Add to that list Carol Lynch Williams.

Carol is an amazing writer. I just finished The Chosen One for the second time and once again was blown away. Ann Cannon has assigned reading The Chosen One as part of our WIFYR workshop. I checked it out online through Overdrive and received both the audio version and an epub format.

There are number of elements key to a good book. These include compelling characters, dramatic events, believable settings, and a strong writers’s voice. Carol not only applies them, but squeezes the most from each. 

She draws you in immediately with her first line, “If I was going to kill the prophet,” I say, not even keeping my voice low, “I’d do it in Africa.” Thus begins the story of a 13-year old polygamous girl chosen to marry her 60-year old uncle. 

Most of us Utahans may have encountered polygamists on the street and peered curiously at them. Carol takes us inside an isolated polygamous community where we accept as normal the three wives of Kyra’s father. Carol enriches her setting with scorching heat, red desert dust, and Russian olive trees.

The Chosen One is character driven and Kyra is a compelling MC. She unquestioningly accepts the lifestyle yet does not fit the mold they have cast for her. Books have been banned as the devil’s words, yet she has a yearning to read. Kyra has an interest in a boy and wants to choose him to marry rather that have the prophet dictate who her husband is to be. 

Besides her incredible voice, a technique Carol employees masterfully, is the way she raises the stakes for Kyra. This poor girl not only must deal with her sins against the rules of the community and the approaching marriage to the uncle she despises, but faces other traumas. Carol perpetually ratchets the tension until resolving the story nicely.

Carol’s an amazing writer. She also puts on a great writing conference, coming up later this month. (Classes still open, more info here.)

(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

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13. Neil Gaiman Speaks Out on the Dispute Between Amazon & Hachette

Many members of the literary community have been greatly concerned about the Amazon vs. Hachette dispute. Renowned writer Neil Gaiman sat for an interview with Salon and voiced his opinion on this hotly-debated subject. Gaiman revealed that he has many reasons to feel anger towards Amazon, but he is also trying to keep in mind "that what you’re seeing right now, is huge, giant-level dealings between huge corporations both under non-disclosure, and every time I try to actually read enough stuff to figure out what’s going on here, what I run into is lots of 'We can’t say anything, but he says,' and 'We can’t say anything, but she says.'" Like The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, Gaiman loves bookstores and wishes "to see is more and more healthy, independent bookshops." Where do you stand on this? What do you think the future holds for the relationship between publishers and Amazon?

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14. Stephen Colbert Challenges Fans to Make ‘California’ a ‘New York Times’ Bestseller

Due to the ongoing dispute between Amazon and Hachette, consumers cannot pre-order Edan Lepucki's debut novel, California, on Amazon. When comedian Stephen Colbert first launched his war against Amazon, he asked his followers to buy a copy from Powell's Books online shop. We've embedded a clip from The Colbert Report TV show where Colbert announced that 6,400 purchases have been made and Lepucki's book currently occupies the #1 spot on the Powell's bestseller list. Now, he has issued a new challenge for his fans; purchase California from your local bookstore and help it become a New York Times bestseller. In addition to Colbert, several members of the literary community have publicly shared their opinions about Amazon vs. Hachette feud including The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian author Sherman Alexie, The Fault in Our Stars author John Green and The Ocean at the End of the Lane author Neil Gaiman. Where do you stand on this matter? (via Latin Post)

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15. Fan Creates a ‘Books of Orange is the New Black’

Finished watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black? Already devoured Piper Kerman’s prison memoir?

Lucky for you, the “Books of Orange is the New Black” blog has plenty of literary recommendations. The fan behind this Tumblr page collected the titles of books mentioned on the popular Netflix original series.

The characters on this show have been spotted reading Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Follow these links to check out the books featured on the first season and the second season.

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16. Stephen Colbert Shares His Definition of ‘Young Adult Book’ With John Green

Last night, John Green appeared on The Colbert Report TV show. During the interview, Stephen Colbert shared his definition for “young adult novel” which is: “a regular novel that people actually read.”

How would you rank Colbert’s interpretation for accuracy? The video embedded above contains the entire conversation where the two also discussed all the tears and “feels” that The Fault in Our Stars induces, the popular movie adaptation, and the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel that John oversees with his brother Hank.

Recently, both Colbert and Green have spoken up for the traditional publishing industry as Hachette continues to negotiate with Amazon in the ongoing dispute. Neither party mentioned this issue during their chat. Where do you stand on this matter? (via Shelf Awareness)

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17. Best Selling Young Adult Books | July 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart has been added to our best selling young adult books for this month. The rest of the titles have remained the same, proving just how these titles truly are popular books for teens (and many adults, too).

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18. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Appears to Be the Top Purchased Book in 48 States

As of January 2014, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars may have become the most frequently purchased book in 48 states within the nation. The Mashable team arrived at this conclusion after combing through the data for both print book and Kindle eBook sales on Amazon.

The only 2 states with different results appear to be Washington D.C. and Hawaii; D.C. readers are enjoying The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Hawaiian bibliophiles prefer Soul Healing Miracles by Dr. Zhi Gang Sha. What was the last book you purchased?

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19. Best Selling Young Adult Books | May 2014

Everything has remained the same with our best selling young adult books for this month—proving just how these titles truly are popular books for teens (and many adults, too). With the March movie release of Divergent, it's no wonder that our best selling young adult book list features the popular book for teens, Divergent, by Veronica Roth.

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20. John Green Felt That ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Movie Cast And Crew Really Honored His Book

speaker_johngreenJohn Green joined The Fault in Our Stars film cast and director for a press conference yesterday. Throughout the event, the group answered questions from tumblr users and media professionals.

Green revealed that his favorite scenes from the movie included the Hazel and Augustus’ conversation at the gas station and a “raw” conversation that takes place between Hazel and her parents. All of the panelists agreed that Green cried the most on set. Green explained that it was wonderful seeing the cast and crew work because he felt they “really honored my book.”

Towards the end of the event, Green announced the dates for the “Demand Our Stars” tour which will feature live appearances from himself and some of the actors. Check out the full list of tour stop details below. Follow this link to watch a re-play of the entire press conference.


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21. TODAY Show Book Club to Read ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green

tfioscoverThe TODAY Show has unveiled its next Book Club pick: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

According to the press release, “members will have the opportunity to participate in a Google+ Hangout live from the red carpet of a movie premiere. John Green and the stars of the film will join Willie Geist one hour before The Fault in Our Stars premieres in New York City.”

This book has an enormous fan base; all four of Green’s young adult novels are currently featured on The New York Times bestseller list. During a recent press conference, Green shared that he feels the team behind The Fault in Our Stars movie “really honored my book.” Follow this link to learn more details about the book club. Click here to watch a clip with the announcement.

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22. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Leads the iBooks Bestsellers List

JohnGreen304The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has moved up to the top position of Apple’s Top Paid iBooks in the U.S. this week.

Apple has released its top selling books list for paid books from iBooks in the U.S. for week ending 5/5. The Target by David BaldacciAlpha by Jasinda WilderInsurgent by Veronica Roth and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt also made the list.

We’ve included Apple’s entire list after the jump. continued…

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23. An Enforced Rest by Keren David

Back in January I decided to go to my local children’s bookshop to see if they had my new book in stock. Maybe I could sign their copies? Luckily I managed to park just a few yards from their door.
But as soon as I got out of the car I was in agony. My knee was a mass of shrieking nerves. I could hardly walk the few steps to the shop door. I had to hold onto the windows of the neighbouring shops and hop (so determined was I to see my book on the shelves that I didn’t consider giving up). 

Once in the shop I was in so much pain that the kind staff had to get me a chair, and, once I’d signed their stock and bought a copy for my uncle, the owner insisted on accompanying me back to my car, which I could drive, fortunately, because it was my left knee and it is an automatic car.
Just under four months later, I am recovering from an operation on a badly torn cartilage. I am suffering less pain every day, doing my physiotherapy exercises, and looking forward to being able to walk for more than 15 minutes at a time. 
I wouldn’t say it’s been an entirely negative experience though. The enforced rest which comes after surgery or illness is an unusual experience in today’s busy world. It gave me a chance to reflect on my lifestyle, and how little time I spend away from computer or car.  As I read, watched Masterchef and Game of Thrones, listened to music, or just snoozed, I found ideas for my current book blossomed in a way that doesn’t happen when I’m actively trying to focus.
Convalescence and illness are at the heart of some of my favourite  children’s books. The long road to recovery for Katy after she fell off a swing in What Katy Did. The scary rocks with eyes in Catherine Storr’s Marianne Dreams. Harriet’s wobbly legs which need building up through ice-skating in Noel Streatfeild’s White Boots, Colin's mysterious illness in The Secret Garden.  As a writer I get impatient when I have to nurse a character through an illness or injury, because it slows the book down – I can completely understand why Sally Green plumped for self-healing as a magical gift in her debut Half Bad. But as a reader, as a child, I loved these stories of rest and recovery.   
Nowadays some of our most successful children's books are about illness, disability, mental illness and accidents requiring intensive care. Books such as John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and R J Palacio's Wonder have won prizes and become best sellers. 
Am I right to think that today's medical dramas are more dramatic than the tales of slow healing from the past? They are more likely to be about death and prejudice, than fresh air and gentle exercise.  Are there modern books about overcoming the tedium of not being able to do very much for a while? 
My dodgy knee has made me rethink my plans for a study in my house. I have decided to do without a desk and laptop in the room earmarked for me. I have other places where I can go to write - cafes, tables, other people’s houses. The internet is constantly entertaining and informative, and endlessly distracting. What I need is a room with no screens. A place for  reading and listening to music. A space to shut out the busy-ness of work and family, to let ideas and characters develop. Somewhere for  dreaming, resting, creative  thinking. A place to slow down and think. 
At the moment this room is full of boxes, and needs redecorating thanks to a leaking roof. But when it’s complete, I promise to report back and tell you if it works for me as I hope.

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24. John Green On Why Adult Readers Enjoy YA Fiction

Young adult author John Green has written an essay for Cosmopolitan magazine pondering the question, "Can You Get Too Old For YA Novels?" Green has written multiple teen fiction books throughout his career including his 2012 mega hit, The Fault in Our Stars. That particular novel has attracted a fan base comprised of both teen and adult readers. From his interactions with these people and his own experiences, Green believes that many adults enjoy the young adult genre because it features "unironic emotional honesty." Follow this link to read his full essay. Why do you like reading YA? (Photo CreditTon Koene)

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25. Social media update

Okay. I’ve been on Facebook for a week now and can’t say much has happened. 

It could be my fault. I haven’t added much since setting it up. Posting writerly things would be a start.

I did have contact from several long lost friends. I clicked on some of them to see what they’re doing with their lives. I’ve learned FB can be a big time-suck.

Scott Rhoades commented and said social media is trending toward generating more discussion than blogs. He says that people wanting to know more about you as an author are more likely to seek you out on Facebook.

One author that effectively uses social media is John Green. I recently heard about this guy on the WIFYR blog. Becca Birkin was talking about an author who knows how to “speak teenager.” I have consumed several of his books hoping to develop an ear for that jargon.

John Green is an outstanding author which probably pushes his “likes” up to 1.3 million. (Beats my 31). His The Fault In Our Stars is coming out as a movie this summer. Besides his talent, what also is impressive about him is his use of social media. For TFIOS as well as Looking for Alaska, he uses this technology to answer readers’ questions about things in the books. He has a FB page, Tumblr and Twitter accounts, his own website, and a YouTube video channel he created with his brother.

So, what is a poor unpublished writer to do? I guess go out and write a book that people would want to inquire about. Write like John Green. And quit frittering away valuable writing time on Facebook.

And… WIFYR is still accepting writers wanting to lift their craft. Go to WIFYR.com.

(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

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