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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: alvina, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 71
1. Looking back, looking forward


As I mentioned in an earlier post, while packing, moving, and unpacking, I've unearthed some forgotten things. Another thing I found was my cover letter when I applied for the editorial assistant position at Little, Brown, and also the thank you letter I sent after my interview. Here's a draft of my thank-you letter:

As the CBC Diversity Committee has been such a significant part of my life the past few years, I especially appreciated my comment about Megan's commitment to publishing diverse books. That still holds true. By the way, the two spaces between sentences drives me crazy now.

Also, note the "Time Warner Trade Publishing"--back then, Little, Brown was part of Time Warner, and the children's division was still based in Boston. Soon thereafter, it became part of "AOL Time Warner"--I also found this:
Now, of course, we are Hachette Book Group, and the children's division is based in New York. The company has been through at least four name changes in the 14+ years I've been here.

And finally, I found this fun note. Grace (Pacy) Lin and I were roommates back then, and she left me this fun little note before leaving for vacation:

Ah, memories.


I did a quick wrap-up of my vacation on my personal blog. I'm really looking forward to putting 2013 behind me, and am looking forward to and hoping for a better, less tumultuous 2014.

As always, I love making new year's resolutions. Here are a few of mine for 2014:

- No internet shopping unless it's a gift, a necessity, or for work. (I successfully kept this resolution from last year, and will try to keep it for at least one more year)

-write in my journal and/or blog at least twice a month

-go on a vacation to Europe with Greg

-achieve a maximum of work inbox 100 at the end of each week

Happy 2014, all!

3 Comments on Looking back, looking forward, last added: 1/12/2014
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2. CBC Diversity

For the past year or so, I've been meeting about once a month with a group of children's book editors from other houses. Founded by Nancy Mercado of Roaring Brook, we called ourselves DIBS (Diversity in Books), and we were hoping to help increase the diversity within the publishing industry, and also in the authors, illustrators, and books published. We started getting a website together and grand plans of doing school visits, job fairs, conferences, and more. But, of course, we were all so busy with our jobs and lives that it was hard to get things going. Well, a conversation at a Children's Book Council cocktail party brought these two groups together, and the CBC Diversity Committee was formed. We had a small kick-off party last week for agents, media, and publishing folks, and we talked about our mission, the importance of it, and what everyone there could do to become a CBC Diversity Partner. Here's a picture of me speaking:

I talked about not being able to fully see myself in the books I was reading as a child.

Diversity is a mission I am absolutely passionate about--it's important not only for children to be able to see themselves represented in the books they read, but also important for children to be exposed to other experiences and viewpoints. It increases empathy and tolerance. And as I said at our kick-off, I hope to live in a world where we can have an Asian Harry Potter or a black Bella without anyone even blinking an eye. We'll get there, I know it!

Please, won't you all join us? I linked above to our mission and how we can all help, and we'll be keeping the CBC Diversity blog active with at least two posts each week. I'm posting this week, so stay tuned!

3 Comments on CBC Diversity, last added: 2/8/2012
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3. It's the end of the world as we know it (soon)

I was looking for an article I read recently about how the mass market format is dying, and instead I came across this rather depressing article, "Are books dead, and can authors survive?"

The author claims, due to the digital revolution, that the paper book will most definitely disappear in 25 years time, and he also claims that this will mean that "writing, as a profession, will cease to exist."


As rather damning evidence, he outlines the demise of many other industries, including porn, music, home videos, photography, newspapers, and more, mainly due to technological changes, free content, and piracy.

He also talked about the "long tail", a term I hadn't heard before, although the description is familiar. (The article links to this lecture for an explanation of what long tail means.):

In simple terms, the long tail derives its name from graphs of sales against number of products. Whereas throughout the 20th century publishers concentrated on selling only a few heavily promoted "hits" or "bestsellers" in bulk, digital shopping has meant that what was originally a tail-off in sales, has now become increasingly profitable. Rather than selling, say, 13m copies of one Harry Potter book, a long tail provider can make the same profits by selling 13m different "obscure", "failed'" and "niche" books.

The long tail is Amazon and iTunes, Netflix, LoveFilm and eBay. It is, arguably, between 40% to 60% of the market, which was hidden and/or simply unavailable before the advent of online shopping.

As more consumers come online and chose to select content for themselves, the long tail gets longer. It also starts to demolish the old mainstream system of pre-selection, mass marketing and limited shelf space for "bestsellers". Amazon is a successful long-tail industry: it has forced publishers into selling their books at 60% discount and driven bookshops out of business. As the long tail grows, the mainstream mass market shrinks and becomes more conservative. The long tail has created this effect in all of the other industries that have gone digital.
What this means is that even if the book publishing market is increasing, the money that each individual author makes is probably decreasing. Although, with books having the ability to stay in print indefinitely via Print on Demand and eBooks, maybe this means that authors (and publishers) with deep backlists will continue to be successful. The article does end on a more hopeful note, saying:

There is no simple solution. All that is clear is that for authors and publishers to abandon each other only accelerates the race towards free content.

Authors must respect and demand the work of good editors and support the publishing industry, precisely by resisting the temptation to "go it alone" in the long tail. In return, publishing houses must take the risk on the long term; supporting writers over years and books, it is only then that books of the standard we have seen in the last half-century can continue to come into being.

In a way, this gives me hope for children's publishing in general, because I do feel that we tend to commit to authors in the long term more than our adult counterparts, and children's publishing also relies on backlist sales more than adult publishing.

At any rate, sorry to be such a downer on a Monday.

By the way, here's also that mass market article I mentioned at the beginning: 2 Comments on It's the end of the world as we know it (soon), last added: 9/6/2011
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4. Remembering 9/11/01

I was trying to avoid reading or watching too much yesterday, because I knew it would be upsetting to relive 9/11/01, but of course it was hard to avoid, and some of the things I encountered were so lovely and touching I wanted to share them here.I was living in Boston ten years ago. I did not lose anyone close to me that day, but of course it was an event of such mind-boggling horror and evil and tragedy; ten years later I still can't think about it without getting emotional.

StoryCorps is doing a series of 9/11Animated Short Stories that had me sobbing--the stories are so touching and personal. Here are three:

Author and editor David Levithan talked about his 9/11 book Love is the Higher Law and the importance of remembering and telling stories here.

Author Meg Cabot shares both hope-filled and heartbreaking stories here.

Author Maureen Johnson writes about her experience ten years ago here. Her impetus for writing  and the comments from teens who were too young to understand what happened that day are eye-opening.

Patrick McDonnell's MUTTS comic for yesterday was simple and lovely.

1 Comments on Remembering 9/11/01, last added: 9/12/2011
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5. What I'm working on now, and book trailers!

I'm in the throes of editing hell...actually, I'll rephrase that--I'm in editing HEAVEN! Just a whole lot of it at once, is all. But the books are SO GOOD, and this is the meaty part of my job that I love the most. Speaking of, I've been meaning to update my "How I Edit" post from almost exactly five years ago, as technology has changed my process somewhat. Perhaps that will be for next week.

What I was working on this past weekend specifically was finishing up an editorial letter for the first book in Libba Bray's new four-book series, The Diviners. It's a YA historical paranormal with hints of horror (okay, more than just hints) set in New York City in the 1920s. Flappers, Ziegfeld's Follies, speakeasies, political protests, secret government experiments, cults, ghosts, supernatural powers, and oh yes, a serial killer. It's magnificent, and coming out next Fall.

This past weekend I've also been working on Chris Colfer's middle grade novel The Land of Stories, coming out next August. It's a fantastical adventure to a fairytale land, and it's a page-turner, with unexpected twists and turns, a lot of heart, and best of all it's funny. I was reading it on the subway and found myself chuckling out loud at the dialogue. I'm excited for the world to see that this kid can write as well as he can sing. And boy, do I love his voice (I can listen to his version of Blackbird all day).

So, while I keep editing, I wanted to share with you two trailers that were released recently. The first is for Peter Brown's hilarious new picture book You Will Be My Friend!, starring Lucille Beatrice Bear, who some of you might remember from his last book, Children Make Terrible Pets. You Will Be My Friend launched earlier this month, and on Saturday I attended his book launch party at Powerhouse Studio in DUMBO. And as Lucy would say, OH! MY! GOSH! This is the cutest trailer EVER!

This second trailer is for Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone which officially pubs tomorrow! Happy early book birthday! There's been an incredible amount of excitement and buzz for this book, and the love, especially from bloggers, has been tremendous (and well-deserved, although I may be biased...).

Isn't that cool?

Okay, back to work!

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6. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, before and after

As Grace mentioned, we're in Fresno together for the IBBY regional conference. They asked us to speak together about Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. To prepare, we dug up all of the old drafts of the novel, and also my editorial letters/edits (to my horror, I discovered that although I had saved the different drafts with my edits in Track Changes, I had neglected to save any of my editorial letters, as they had been in emails and not saved as separate documents. Luckily, Grace was able to find them in an old email account. Whew!)

Some of the fascinating (at least to us!) things we found:
The 1st draft was 22,859 words; the final draft was 42,840 words, almost twice as long!
The 1st draft had 26 chapters, and the final book had 48 chapters.
The green tiger was not in the original draft.
In the original draft, the parents didn't try to follow/find Minli.
In the original proposal, Minli was named "Cai" (and then "Kai").
The first working title was God of the West. The next title was Never-Ending Mountain.

I also read a portion of my first editorial letter for the book. As I mentioned at the panel, my letters with Grace tend to be a little more casual than to some other authors who I don't know as well. With Grace, I cut to the chase quickly--but I always start with praise! Here's a sampling:


So, I thought I'd get down in writing some of the things we discussed over the phone. But just to reiterate, I loved it. I think overall, it's extremely well crafted with a wonderful story arc. The novel is moving, magical, and engaging. I think this is in really great shape! I have a few main comments, most of which we've discussed:

1) The novel feels a little slight right now, and things overall feel a little too easy for Minli. I'd like to add at least one more big challenge for her, and also make a few of the existing challenges a little more difficult/drawn out. For example, she seems to find the King in The City of Bright Moonlight too quickly--she should struggle with this more. I like the idea you mentioned, of having her spend one night with the boy and the buffalo.

Overall, don't be afraid to put your characters in peril! I don't think I worried once about whether Minli would succeed in her quest, or feared for her safety or her life. This made for a comforting, pleasant read, but I think more conflict overall would go a long way toward making this more rewarding.


3) It's not believable that her parents would just wait around for her at home for her to come back--have one or both of them go after her? Or have them send someone else after her? If they do stay behind, you need a convincing reason why, and also her reunion with them at the end needs to be more dramatic. Wouldn't they cry? And what did they do while she was gone? Did they set up a shrine to her? Pray for her every day? Maybe they sent the old man selling the fish after her, or maybe a man from the village, or a kind traveler passing through?

It was interesting looking back at the publication history of this very special book--and we had fun telling the story, too. We should be on more panels together, don't you think?


If you're in the Los Angeles area tonight (Monday, October 24), head out to the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore at 7:30 for Laini Taylor's signing of
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7. Leg #2: Auckland, Part 2

Continued from Leg #1 (Melbourne) and Leg #2 Part 1 (Auckland).

Friday in Auckland began with a Publisher's Forum. About 50 people from the New Zealand publishing industry were on hand for the discussion. The session opened with a panel on rights selling in the international market. I think the main takeaway of the session is how important the face-to-face meeting is, how important relationships are. As Stephen Maat (Bruna Netherlands) said, he could meet with a publisher every year for ten years and never buy anything, but there will be that day that they call him up, or send him that email and say, "This is the perfect book for you" and it will be.

Then, I was on a panel along with Tom Mayer (Norton) and Fergus Barrowman (Victoria University Press). Hal Wake (Vancouver Writers' Festival) moderated. A lot of what we talked about was how eBooks were changing the publishing industry--in NZ and Australia, eBooks have yet to hit the level that they have in the States, because they don't have the Kindle, Nook, or iBookstore. Tom talked about the opportunities and potential changes that eBooks and the market of Kindle Singles could have on the industry, particularly with nonfiction--eBooks may make it more acceptable to publish a 25 or 50 page book, as opposed to having to expand a nonfiction subject into longer, book-length work. Other advantages include being able to update nonfiction more frequently. We talked about the shift of making paper books more gifty, more objects to keep, vs the type of books that may eventually become e-only.

After a networking lunch we had one-on-one meetings with New Zealand publishers and agents--some just wanted to talk business/pick my brain about publishing in the US, some pitched books.

I finished up with meetings early enough to go for a run before dinner--unlike the rainy Wednesday, the weather was perfect for a run in the Auckland Domain.

I had a delicious sushi dinner with Cassandra Clare and her husband Josh--I had run into them in the lobby earlier--and then I was off to a cocktail party hosted by the Fesivals' board of trustees. Then back to the hotel where once again Karen Healey, Garth Nix, Sean Williams, Margo Lanagan, and others were convened in the hotel lobby for wine and sea breezes.

In the morning I met up with Alexis Warsham (Crown) in the lobby and we walked over to the Aotea Center where our Publishing Panel (this one open to the public) was housed. We found our way through back passages to the Green Room where Tom, Nikki Christer (Random House Australia) and our moderator publishing consultant Geoff Walker were already convened. We covered much of the same ground as our Industry Publishing Panel--talked a lot about eBooks, Amanda Hocking, Barry Eisler, etc etc. But of course when the Q&A portion began, we got a bunch of the expected "how do I get published" questions, and even one woman who was bold enough to actually pitch her book--luckily, it wasn't a children's or YA book, so I didn't have to turn her down in public, OR invite her to send it. One audience member asked us what we thought of the recent news that an agent was becoming an eBook publisher--to be honest, because I hadn't been able to check email and read the news as regularly while in NZ, I hadn't yet read about the news. Some of the others had heard the recent news of agent Ed Victor exploring eBook publish

3 Comments on Leg #2: Auckland, Part 2, last added: 6/15/2011
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8. A photo journey of ALA Annual 2011


Happy Fourth of July, all! It's been a hectic time for me, so I thought I'd just share my ALA experience in photos:
oyster po' boy at Mother's
boxes galore!
almost finished with set-up

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9. Editorial Director

As Grace reported a few weeks ago, I was promoted to the position of Fiction Editorial Director. I've been asked by different people what this means in terms of my day-to-day job, so I thought I'd briefly outline it here.

-I am now overseeing our Middle Grade and Young Adult lists. The "Fiction" in my title is a bit misleading, as technically I would also oversee MG and YA nonfiction, but as we publish very little nonfiction at Little, Brown in general, we thought it was cleaner to just say "Fiction". This means running the novel portion of editorial meeting, approving which projects go to our acquisitions meetings, and then giving my recommendation at that meeting. Overall, I'm tasked to help shape our fiction list in terms of balance of titles (literary vs commercial, MG vs YA, making sure the books we sign up don't compete directly with each other in terms of subject matter, etc.).

-I will still be editing picture books (I couldn't give that up!), but my focus will be on MG and YA.

-Instead of just one person (my assistant) reporting to me, I have three other editors as direct reports. This means approving more paperwork (expense reports, contract requests, etc.), reviewing copy and P&Ls, etc., more annual performance reviews, responding to MG/YA-related requests/questions/emails, and so on.

-In general, I have more meetings, including attending jacket meeting in its entirety (rather than just for my individual titles), list planning meetings, and weekly updates with each editor.

-Because of my increased administrative duties, I may eventually have to tighten my own title list, and potentially acquire fewer books. I haven't passed any of my books on to other editors yet (I love all my books, so it's hard to give any up!), but I may in the near future. I do want to say that when deciding which projects to pass on, I'm mainly looking at which books are a good fit taste-wise with another editor, and which projects I feel another editor could manage as well or better than myself, especially considering my own increased workload.

I'm excited about the challenges of the new position, but I will say that I never really had this job as a career goal (and those of you who know me know how much I love goal setting!). There are some editors who want to be publisher some day. I've never been one of them. To be perfectly honest, I would have been happy being at the Executive Editor level for a long time--maybe for the rest of my publishing career, because the editing part of my job has always been my favorite. But at the same time, when this opportunity presented itself, I weighed my options, and it felt like a good move for me, a job where I could still do the editing I love, but also learn the business side a little more, to mentor more, and to help shape a list.

We'll see what this new position will bring!

5 Comments on Editorial Director, last added: 7/12/2011
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10. What to expect your first few years in editorial

It's summer intern season at work. Hachette Book Group has a great summer internship program (and yes, it's paid. If you're interested for next year, I would suggest checking the job listing website next February) for current college students and recent grads. As part of our interns' education, each week a different department gives a presentation about what they're all about. The presentation is open to the whole company, but we do focus on the type of things we think interns in particular will be interested in knowing. A few weeks ago, I gave the presentation for the Young Readers division, along with our Senior Art Director, Marketing Manager, and Publicist. One of the things we each talked about is what to expect in the first couple of years working in our respective departments.

I basically compared being an editorial assistant with the movie The Devil Wears Prada. Okay, it's not really like that. At least, I hope not.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, publishing, and editorial specifically is an apprenticeship. 99% of editors started as an editorial assistant, learned from their managers, and worked their way up.

The first couple of years are heavily administrative. You'll be answering phones, scheduling meetings, filling out forms, doing paperwork, photocopying, filing (although the latter two happen less and less as the job becomes more digital), mailing packages, doing expense reports, taking meeting minutes, ordering books, and basically doing any task your manager asks you to do. This can range from researching the perfect gift in the theme of an author's book, to tracking down a contract, to hand-delivering art to an agent's office, and more. Personally, I don't ask my assistant to do things like get me coffee or pick up lunch, etc, but other managers do.

In addition to all the administrative work, there's also a lot of editorial work to be done. You'll be writing jacket copy, catalog copy, researching competitive titles, and reading a ton of submissions and giving your recommendation as to whether your manager should acquire or decline something. You'll be drafting letters and other correspondences. You'll be attending our editorial meeting and reading books that other editors want to acquire and giving your thoughts. And yes, you'll be editing--first alongside your manager, and then (perhaps after a year or so of mastering all the admin stuff) more independently. After a year, you may be handling projects on your own--perhaps a paperback edition to start, or a buy in from the UK or Australia. Or maybe you'll take over editing a series once the first book has been edited. How much editorial work you take on, and how quickly, will depend mostly on how quickly you're able to master the other duties. There will be some editorial work right away, but much of it will wait until you've become more efficient with the other aspects of the job.

I think it's pretty safe to say that it will take you about six months before you feel comfortable in the job, and a year before you really master everything, mainly because it takes a minimum of year to follow the path of one book from start to finish.

Some administrative duties will get tiresome quickly, others you may never tire of. In general, though, the hope is that because you're working in an industry that you're passionate about, and working on books and project you love, you'll appreciate the value in the work you do, whether it's photocopying or editing. I know that I loved many of the administrative duties I had. For example, I loved answering the phone for my boss, get

7 Comments on What to expect your first few years in editorial, last added: 7/28/2011
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11. Beyond the Book: FALLING FOR HAMLET by Michelle Ray

Beyond the Book: FALLING FOR HAMLET by Michelle Ray

Happy August, everyone! It's been a while since I've done one of these, and I have a few books that have come out this past Spring and Summer, so I'd better get crackin' if I want to catch up before the Fall releases.

Falling for Hamlet is a contemporary retelling of William Shakespeare's Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view...and in this version, Ophelia doesn't die.

The description:
Meet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Her life is dominated not only by her boyfriend's fame and his overbearing family, but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, the King, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller coaster life, and lives to tell about it. In live television interviews, of course.

Passion, romance, drama, humor, and tragedy intertwine in this compulsively readable debut novel, told by a strong-willed, modern-day Ophelia.

This novel is the first (and only, so far) book I've acquired that has been published on the Poppy imprint. Poppy is home to our young women's commercial fiction. Originally the imprint only published paperback series, like Gossip Girl, The Clique, the A-List, etc, but in the past year or so the imprint has evolved a bit and also published hardcovers, and stand-alone novels. Another editor had recently acquired a modern retelling of Jane Eyre for the Poppy imprint (Jane by April Lindner) when this novel (then titled Ophelia Live!) was sent to me from agent Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, and when I read the description I immediately though Poppy would be its perfect publishing home. Now, when this is the case I will sometimes pass the project on to another editor, but the concept appealed to me so much, I wanted to read it myself. At Little, Brown, any editor can acquire for any of our "imprints", because we're a relatively small group, and we all attend the same editorial and acquisitions meetings. Although I don't usually tend to acquire the type of books that Poppy publishes, I've always loved reading their books, and had always wanted to acquire a Poppy book.

I read this book in one sitting, and absolutely fell in love with it. I guess you could say that I was falling in love with Falling for Hamlet. I loved how clever it was in modernizing the story. I loved the narrator Ophelia, who I felt was the perfect "every-teen" of sorts--she was relatable in that she didn't always make the smartest decisions, and she was still figuring out who she was and who she wanted to be. I loved that the book was about growing up in the public eye, and for anyone obsessed with the royal family, Prince William and his then-girlfriend Kate Middleton, etc, this book gives a great peek inside what life close to the royal family might be like, from the paparazzi, the scrutiny, the privilege,  etc. I loved how it was sexy, smart, and full of juic

1 Comments on Beyond the Book: FALLING FOR HAMLET by Michelle Ray, last added: 8/2/2011
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12. giraffes and bookshelves

I've been editing all weekend, and of course would get distracted by the wonders of the internet. Somehow (I think maybe via Facebook) I stumbled on this website, HappyPlace, and may have wasted an hour or so laughing. I take that back: laughing is never a waste of time. This is a little off topic, so I'll share one of the best posts, having to do with children.

"Unintentionally offensive test answers from young children."

Warning: much of the content is off-color. But this is my favorite one:


These two posts about signs are hilarious as well.

Not that any of us need more time wasters, but hey, laughing is healthy.

In other news, I was admiring Laini Taylor's blog post about color-coded bookshelves, and it reminded me of an editor who in interviews always asks how the interviewee arranges his/her books. I suppose it comes from working at a bookstore, but I arrange mine by age range: picture books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult. And my adult books are further separated by nonfiction and fiction. Boring, huh?

How do you all organize your book collections?

4 Comments on giraffes and bookshelves, last added: 8/8/2011
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13. Fandom

Last night I saw Glee the 3D Concert Movie, and really enjoyed it--it was the perfect pick-me-up on a dreary rainy day. Now, I don't know if I'd go so far as to call myself a "Gleek," but I'm most definitely a fan of Glee. I've seen every episode, own most of the music, dressed up as one of the characters for Halloween last year:

here I am as Tina from GLEE
and yes, I've even acquired two books by one of the stars of GLEE. On second thought, maybe I am a Gleek. In fact, I'm listening to the soundtrack as I write this. But I'm not the type of fan that would scream my head off and convulse with joy just for being in the same building as the stars. I'm not the type of fan who feels that this television show has changed or affected my life in any significant way, as many of the fans interviewed in the movie believe.

On the way to the subway after the movie, my friend asked me if I've ever been a fan like that for anything, and after thinking about it briefly, I said no. I think the closest I've ever gotten to being that kind of fan was for the TV show FAME (which was the GLEE of the 80s, I suppose). I remember truly feeling like I couldn't wait for the next episode, I remember fantasizing about meeting the actors/characters, and wanting to be a student at the School of the Arts. And far after the show was cancelled, I would tape reruns to watch over and over (I still have those tapes), and now I even have the first two seasons on DVD.

And I suppose I came close in my love for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. I watched or listened to almost every single game that season, and after they won the World Series, I had a shrine of articles cut out of the newspaper and taped to the wall of my bedroom.

But I've never been truly geeky long-term about my passion for any one thing. I remember while editing the short story collection GEEKTASTIC, I called myself an "all-around geek" because I liked and was familiar with many of the subjects of geek affection. But I don't believe I've truly experienced true fandom. I am a fan of literature as a whole, of course, but no one book or property ever consumed my soul.

In the past ten or so years, I feel that the Harry Potter and Twilight series have created the kind of Beatlemania-esque fandom that I'm talking about. People are truly obsessed. They're naming their children after characters. They have tattoos. They know every little piece of trivia about the series. Part of me wishes that I could experience this type of consuming fandom.

So tell me--what have you been a geeky fan about? What would make you scream your head off in public? How far have you gone for a band/tv show/movie/celebrity/book/team/etc.?


In other news, tomorrow is my twelve-year anniversary of being at Little, Brown. And today is my two-year anniversary of joining Twitter. Happy Anniversary to me! Also, July 30th quietly passed, but it was the five-year anniversary of the Blue Rose Girls blog. It's hard to believe we've been posting together for over five years! Thank you everyone for reading.
14. Teaching Readers?

This past weekend I had the luxury of uninterrupted reading time, so I took advantage and devoured the book Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. I soooo enjoyed it, and it moved me so much that I found myself basically crying throughout the whole novel--and you know I'm a sucker for books that make me cry. It was such a pleasure to immerse myself in the story and with the characters. I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately, as I've been trying to slog through another novel that just isn't keeping my interest

Reading Okay for Now reminded me of two articles I've read over the last two weeks. The first was the recent essay by Robert Lipsyte, "Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?" He says:

If we’re to counter this tendency and encourage reading among boys who may collectively resist it, boys need to be approached individually with books about their fears, choices, possibilities and relationships — the kind of reading that will prick their dormant empathy, involve them with fictional characters and lead them into deeper engagement with their own lives. This is what turns boys into readers.

Okay for Now is definitely the type of book I think boy readers would enjoy. It features a great male narrator, sports, brother-brother and father-son relationship issues, and the drama of a tough home life. But there's also horseshoes, Broadway, Audubon, art, and romance. Something for everyone.

The second was an article linked to from Shelf Awareness with the provocative title "We Can't Teach Students to Love Reading."

Personally, I think just reading this long, rather dry article would turn someone off reading. (In fact, it infuriated my friend who has been in education for over a decade and is also a student of history.) One of the article's main points:
The extreme reader, to coin a phrase, is a rare bird indeed. ("I have done what people do, my life makes a reasonable showing," Lynne Sharon Schwartz writes. "Can I go back to my books now?") Such people are born, not made, I think; or mostly born and only a little made.

I think extreme readers are made every day--how many of us have heard people (children, mainly) say that they never liked reading until they read XX book, or that after they had this teacher or read that book, they forever acquired a love of reading?

But this part gave me pause:
I don't know whether an adult who has never practiced deep attention—who has never seriously read for information or for understanding, or even for delight—can learn how.

I wonder. How many people have made it to adulthood without the love of reading, only to acquire it later? Do any of you have any real-life examples?

5 Comments on Teaching Readers?, last added: 8/25/2011
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15. Photo Shoot

As I mentioned last Monday, last Wednesday was the photo shoot for the yet-to-be-named cover. On Monday, we reviewed the photos of our top choices from the model call. It was interesting to see that the one model I had thought was gorgeous did not photograph as such. One of the photographer's and designer's faves from the model call also did not photograph well. But our other top choice had absolutely lovely photos--she clearly knew how to model, and her poses were expressive and natural. There were a few other strong options as well. However, the problem was that we only had a "second hold" on our top choice, meaning that someone else had also really liked her and was considering her for a Wednesday job. We decided to challenge the first hold, and as of Tuesday morning, we thought we had her booked.

In the meantime, we were also searching for a male model. We had two top choices from Monday, but were told right away that one had been booked. We wanted to see more options, and so the model agencies told us they were sending two male models to the office.

Only one ended up showing up--it was a little surreal to have this tall, good-looking male model with us in a publishing company's conference room. When I saw him, I thought he looked a little familiar, and as I was flipping through his portfolio, I recognized a shot of his (that happened to be a shirtless photo--hee hee) from Friday.

"We've met you before, haven't we?" I asked him. He looked at me a little confused. "Were you at the model call on Friday?" He didn't remember. The models go to so many different calls that I guess I couldn't expect him to remember us.

At any rate, it was good thing we saw him again, because we realized that we liked his look over the other model we had chosen from Friday. We booked him.

It was all set. We were sent the schedule. And then, around 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon, the day before the shoot, we were told there had been a mix-up with the female model and that she had been booked elsewhere. After a flurry of phone calls, we decided to book our second choice, who luckily we still had a first hold on. Whew.

The day of the photo shoot was a busy one at work, and I knew I couldn't be there for the whole day. The designer, Alison, would be there the whole time to art direct, so I knew everything would go smoothly, but I did want to a least stop by to see how it all worked.

Bethany and I stopped by the studio at 10:30. The male model's call time was 9 am, so his make-up was done by the time we arrived. The female model's call time was 10 am, so she was in a robe about the sit down in the make-up artist's chair.

Alison and the stylist showed up the rack of clothing the stylist had picked out for the girl, ranging from leather jackets, to tank tops, textured dresses, slouchy sweaters, skinny jeans, leggings, etc. There was also a table of accessories. Awesome. "Everything's for sale, by the way," the stylist told us, "selling it would mean there's less for me to return later." Tempting, but I managed to resist.

The photographer started shooting the male model while the female model was getting her hair and makeup done. Different poses, different lighting, two different shirts, sitting standing, etc. Various assistants milled around helping with the lighting. Alison and the photographer discussed the different angles and what effect they wanted to achieve. It was fascinating. I love watching other creative professionals at work--it'

3 Comments on Photo Shoot, last added: 2/16/2011
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16. teeth and work and balance

Last Thursday I had a tooth pulled. I've been having some other teeth issues related to teeth grinding and a misaligned bite that require me to wear a mouth guard during the day for 4-6 months. I've already had a mouth guard to wear at night since college for the aforementioned teeth grinding and TMJ. (I have bad teeth in general--lots of cavities. I think it's genetic.)

Anyway, long story short, the oral surgeon said to me before the surgery, "I guess it goes without saying that you have a stressful job!"

I paused. Because the truth is, my job IS stressful. Or, at least, I get stressed by my job. Everyone in my company gets stressed out. My first assistant would grind through mouth guard after mouth guard. But I laughed and said, "Well, yeah, but it doesn't sound like it would be stressful. I'm a children's book editor."

I realized how ridiculous that sounded.

I remembered this post from about five years ago--"It's not brain surgery." Anyway, I think I take myself too seriously sometimes. I need to remind myself to keep things in perspective.

Getting a random comment such as the one from Anonymous (of course) on my post last week didn't help any. Because the comment was so ridiculous, I have to assume that it was a joke, or at least something written, for whatever reason, to make me angry. It DID make me laugh, and it DID make me a little angry. But anyway. Being a children's book editor is my job. Not my life. I value the work I do, and I dedicate way more than normal working hours to it, but I'm not a robot. I have to remember that balance in my life is important. It's important in everyone's life. Whether we ARE brain surgeons, or authors, or illustrators, or editors, designers, engineers, or teachers. We should all strive for excellence, but we need to also strive for balance. Yes, there's always something more we can do, but without balance, we'd be unstable, without balance, we burn out. With balance, we can do better jobs, and live better lives.

So, in honor of balance, let me share these quotations, all from the reliable source called the internet:

"What I dream of is an art of balance." ~ Henri Matisse

"Happiness is equilibrium. Shift your weight. Equilibrium is pragmatic. You have to get everything into proportion. You compensate, rebalance yourself so that you maintain your angle to your world. When the world shifts, you shift." ~ Tom Stoppard

"People with great gifts are easy to find, but symmetrical and balanced ones never." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Living in balance and purity is the highest good for you and the earth." ~
5 Comments on teeth and work and balance, last added: 3/3/2011
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17. YA Mafia, reviewing books, and relationships/friendships in business

Last week (well, I think it was last week) the hashtag "YAmafia" started appearing on Twitter. (see some of the #YAmafia tweets here) I was having a particularly busy week and wasn't online that much, and so didn't have time to figure out what it was referring to, but when someone tweeted this wrap-up of the whole "controversy," I was able to get a handle on what was being discussed.

I just wanted to touch on the fact that it's the nature of social media that furthers things like this. In an age where "one in five U.S. divorces are fueled by Facebook" and Facebook and social media is making it harder to get over your ex, when people's interactions are more public than ever before, it's perhaps unfortunate but somewhat natural that suspicions and jealousy and paranoia increases as well. When I first got on Twitter, I remember feeling a little weird and jealous eavesdropping on authors and editors and agents banter and reply to each other. Are they really such good friends? I wondered. Of course, as I got more in the swing of how Twitter worked, and I "bantered" with other Tweeps myself, I realized that in some cases, yes, and other cases, no--in many cases, people only know each other via Twitter.

Anyway, to my knowledge, there is no YA Mafia (and yes, I know personally and have worked with many of the authors who have been mentioned as possible "members"). There are, however, authors who are friends, and these friendships can seem cliquey on occasion, especially from the outside. Just as friendships in the workplace can seem cliquey. And yes, authors (and editors and agents and, well, people) can be thin-skinned and sensitive, and sometimes hold grudges. But that's just part of the business. Any business.

As it is with pretty much every other industry, networking is important, and relationships matter. However, just as in every industry, it's not the end all, be all.

I don't want honest, negative reviews to go away. I read bad reviews of the books I edit all the time. I have Google alerts for my books, after all. Bad reviews don't really bother me all that much any more, although of course any kind of bad review can sting, and a mean-spirited review, whether it's from Kirkus or on a blog, stings even more. But negative reviews can be helpful in terms of editing--if I'm seeing the same criticism over and over, I know what to watch out for in future books. When I'm trying to acquire a book, if a colleague on our acquisitions meeting isn't in support, I do have to hear them criticize the book--but of course the criticism is said in such a way because they're telling it to my face. And at that stage, it's constructive criticism, because if I do end up acquiring the book, I can work towards addressing the concerns. Anyway, if for whatever reason it's your mission to review books, for better or for worse, then by all means, be honest. You don't have to be especially nice about it, but you don't have to be mean about it either.But keep in mind that more likely than not, the author, editor, and agent of the book will read your review.

The problem with social media is that it's public, but people don't seem to remember that. If I discuss a book in my book group and criticize it, that's where it

7 Comments on YA Mafia, reviewing books, and relationships/friendships in business, last added: 3/9/2011
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18. SCBWI Nevada retreat

As Anna mentioned yesterday, I was able to stop by San Francisco for a quick visit before heading up to Nevada for an SCBWI conference. I was so happy to get to meet little Tilda, who is SO ADORABLE AND SWEET!! Here she is wearing her little blue rose headband:

Alas, it was just a quick trip, and after one night I was on a plane again headed up to Reno, and then a drive to Virginia City for the Nevada SCBWI mentor program retreat. It was held at the St. Mary's Art Center, which was formerly a hospital (and rumored to be haunted by a nun):

It was a lovely, intimate location. I had my own room, but we all shared bathrooms. Nothing says "editors are people, too!" than having one brush her teeth next to you!

I arrived on Thursday evening, because early Friday I was given the opportunity to go on a wild horse tour. Our able tour guide was wild horse photographer Mark Terrell. Check out some of his gorgeous photographs here. And check out my not-so-gorgeous photography below. We saw several bands of horses (herds are made up of many bands), and most had foals. So cute!
I managed to take two fairly interesting videos. This one features a little foal standing up:

And this one features a stallion trying to see if a mare was in heat. She made it very clear that she was not interested:

We even stopped by the Bunny Ranch (yes, that Bunny Ranch) to check out the band of horses that usually hangs out in front.
5 Comments on SCBWI Nevada retreat, last added: 4/7/2011
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19. Sneak Peek at Fall/Winter 2011

A few weeks ago we had our biannual Library Preview. We introduced our Fall/Winter 2011 list to local librarians, reviewers, and educators. As usual, our School and Library Marketing Director/Guru wore amazing shoes for the occasion:

Our super secret guest star was author/illustrator Sujean Rim, creator of Birdie's Big Girl Shoes and the upcoming Birdie's Big Girl Dress. She talked about working in fashion, yet always harboring a love of children's books:

So, since we were talking about Fall/Winter 2011, I thought I'd give you all a sneak peek at the books I've edited on that list. Except as I started writing this, I realized that I had given an earlier sneak peek back in October here. Although, back then we didn't have all of the titles or covers finalized yet. Well, many of the covers are still in progress now (particularly for the YA titles, for some reason), but I thought I'd go ahead and post the covers we do have below. And since I described the books in more detail then, I'll be brief here.

Picture books:

YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND! by Peter Brown (Sept. 2011)
This is a companion book to Children Make Terrible Pets. In this adventure, Lucy the Bear decides that she's going to make a new friend. Of course, this doesn't turn out to be as easy as she thinks it's going to be.

The House Baba Built: An artist's childhood in China by Ed Young, as told to Libby Koponon (Oct. 2011)
This book has been a labor of love for everyone involved--we've been working on it for over two years, and in a sense, Ed has been writing it for his whole life, although in earnest since he became

6 Comments on Sneak Peek at Fall/Winter 2011, last added: 4/21/2011
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20. Informational Interviews

When I was trying to break into the publishing industry, I did a few informational interviews to find out more about publishing and to get advice about next steps. I found the experience to be invaluable, and now that I've "made it", I'm happy to give back and grant informational interviews when requested. I've been doing quite a few lately, and it inspired me to write a post about tips for how to make the most of your time.

-Confirm your meeting/phone call the day before. And be understanding if the meeting needs to be postponed or rescheduled.

-Come prepared with questions to ask, and don't be afraid to take notes. This shows me that you're prepared and serious about my time. Don't expect the person you're meeting with to ask all the questions. They're not interviewing you; this is an opportunity for you to ask questions that may help you in your quest to break into the industry and learn more.

-Research ahead of time. Google both the person you're interviewing and the industry you're trying to learn about. These days, you can find so much information about publishing online. Don't waste your time or the time of the person you're talking to. For example, if you Google me, my blogs come up, as well as the interview I did for the Career Cookbook. There, I talk all about how I got into publishing and the nature of the industry in general. I don't mind talking about these things again, but I'm always impressed when someone tells me (whether in an informational interview or actual interview) that they've read about me, and then ask a question that expands on what I've already said.

-Be professional and put you best foot forward. Even if you're not interviewing for a position, if you impress the person, they'll be sure to remember you and refer you to other jobs or keep you in mind when future openings arise.

-Show up on time, and take the person's lead as to when the meeting is over. It might be a good idea to ask the person how much time they have at the beginning of the interview.

-Send a thank you email or card afterward

Some potential questions to ask (again, don't ask these questions if you can already find the answers online/elsewhere):
-Do you like your job? Would you recommend this field?
-How did you break into this industry? How do people generally break into this field?
-When you're hiring people for XX position, what qualities do you look for most? or What qualities do you feel are most important for this field?
-What is your favorite aspect of your job? Your least favorite?
-What do you wish you could have known back when you were starting out?

-What is a typical workday like? What are you typical hours per week?

At the last informational interview I gave, the person brought me a little box of mini cupcakes as a way of thanking me for my time. Gifts are never expected (and I would strongly suggest NOT bringing a gift to an actual interview!), but I was actually quite touched/appreciative. Plus, they were delicious. However, in the past I've been sent a person's self-published book as a thank-you for my time, which gave me a bad taste in my mouth, because it made me feel that the person was a little disingenuous about asking for publishing career advice, when perhaps he really wanted an opportunity to share his writing with me.

How man

6 Comments on Informational Interviews, last added: 4/25/2011
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21. Q&A with Designers

Greetings from Melbourne! Well, Geelong, to be exact. I've been here since Friday morning, and am slowly getting over jetlag. I'm staying with old friends who used to live in NY and am having a great time--getting a taste of what normal life is like, combined with a bit of sightseeing, too. Today I'm off to Melbourne to have lunch with author Karen Healey and her Australian editors at Allyn & Unwin.

Before I left NYC, I arranged a Q&A with two of our fantastic Associate Art Directors at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Thank you so much to Tracy Shaw and Alison Impey for answering some questions! Note: they both answered these questions independently, but I loved arranging this so it seemed more like a conversation--I thought it especially telling that they answered question five in the exact same way.

1) Please list five books you've designed in the last two years.
The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky; Huntress by Malinda Lo; You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin; Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes; Reckless by Cornelia Funke.

Bunheads by Sophie Flack, Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, The Daughters series by Joanna Philbin, Jane by April Lindner, The Duff by Kody Keplinger

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22. Leg #1: Melbourne


I'm now in Sydney for the third and final leg of my trip to the other side of the world. I haven't had much free time (that I haven't filled with seeing the sights, that is), so I'll just cover my first leg in Melbourne in this post.

I left on Wednesday evening, May 4 in NY, and arrived in Melbourne after an over 24-hour travel time on Friday morning, May 6. Overall, it wasn't a bad time--had the seat next to me empty for both my flight to LA and then to Melbourne. I managed to sleep quite a bit, and also read and watched a few movies.

I was picked up at the airport by my friend and former colleague Antonella (an Australian who married an American, Chris. Antonella worked at Little, Brown in the production department) and her two young kids Ali and Thomas. We stopped at a cafe in the airport for coffee and a bite to eat.

Ali (with a straw mustache)
my veggie roll
my first cup of coffee in Melbourne. I needed it after my 24-hour journey!
 We headed into Melbourne to walk around and see the sights:
3 Comments on Leg #1: Melbourne, last added: 5/17/2011
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23. Karen Healey tells a true story


Hi all! I'm finally back from my travels to the Southern Hemisphere--returned to New York last night. Don't have time for a real post, so I thought I'd leave you with this video of Karen Healey kicking off the New Zealand Listeners Gala Night of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival. Eight authors, including Meg Rosoff, Fatima Bhutto, and A.A. Gill were tasked to tell true stories inspired by the alphabet. Here's Karen's story:

This week is Book Expo America here in NYC, so I'm diving right back into the swing of things...more next week!

2 Comments on Karen Healey tells a true story, last added: 5/24/2011
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24. Leg #2: Auckland, Part 1

After Melbourne, I was off to Auckland, New Zealand. It struck me as I exited the plane that this was the first time in a while I'd set foot on a country I'd never visited before. The last time was Japan two years ago, but even then that wasn't quite accurate, as I'd set foot on the Tokyo airport as a child.

The weather when I arrived was amazing. As I walked towards the airport exit I couldn't resist taking a picture of the scene outside of the window--the sky was amazingly large:

 And here's the sky from the airport parking lot:
I was eager to ask my driver for some tips on what to do on my one day off. However, it turned out that the driver, Gun, had just move to Auckland from Brooklyn! In fact, he had lived in Fort Greene, a neighborhood in Brooklyn adjacent to my own. He did give me a few thoughts on New Zealand, though, but mainly recommended that I try to get out of the city. Alas, I didn't have time for that.

That night I walked around the city, had dinner at a Thai place in a little food court in front of an Asian grocery store, and later spied the Sky Tower from afar:
Before my trip, my friend Rose had said, "The Biggest Loser went to Auckland, and they jumped off the Sky Tower! It looked like something you would do!" Indeed. I signed up for a combo Sky Walk and Sky Jump for the next day.

Unfortunately, the next day, Wednesday, was stormy: wind and pouring rain does not make a happy Sky Tower walk and jump--I rescheduled for that Saturday, and decided to trek over to the Auckland Domain to go to the Auckland Museum instead. First, I stopped in a little French cafe for a breakfast crepe and a flat white (coffee with milk):

3 Comments on Leg #2: Auckland, Part 1, last added: 5/30/2011
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25. from the BRG archives: another beginning

Libby's posts on beginnings, and then Anna's post about BLOW OUT THE MOON (which was a beginning for me, too), and then Meghan's post about how it feels to begin painting a new book made me think about another beginning--my start at the company I work now.

This week another editor and I took our shared assistant out to lunch, and she was recounting how she felt after she interviewed with me, how badly she realized she wanted the job, so much so that she could barely talk about it after the interview to her boyfriend. This was so different from her reaction to other interviews she had been on that her boyfriend commented, "You really want this job, don't you."

It reminded me about my own beginning. I talk about my "path" in my interview here, but not the specifics, really. Not those moments, those specific moments that I'll remember forever:

-I remember how I spent the night before my interview frantically trying to figure out what to wear. I didn't own a suit then (I still don't, actually), and was trying on skirt after skirt, shirt after shirt. I finally settled on a black business skirt separate, and a nice, deep purple, short-sleeved T-shirt. And I borrowed a long black suit jacket from Grace (do you remember, Grace?!) that didn't quite fit right, but I thought made my outfit look more professional. I found out afterwards that Megan found my outfit "refreshing" compared to all of the boring interview suits. Whew.

-I remember how it was so incredibly hot and humid and sticky the day I interviewed--it was the middle of July. After my interview I was so distracted and excited and worried, because I wanted the job so much, more than I wanted anything else in the world. I was so distracted that after the interview I went to get on the T (subway) and completely forgot about using a token and ended up walking into the turnstyle without paying. Ouch.

Other moments:
-A few weeks later, I was standing at the information desk in the children's section of B&N where I worked, waiting for the phone call. I had interviewed for two jobs at the time, the EA job and also a position at the Horn Book, a job that my coworker at B&N also interviewed for. The Horn Book told us that they would wait to see who Megan hired for her editorial assistant before making their decision, because they assumed that was the more desireable job, but that process had of course dragged on longer than expected, so we were waiting for that call, too. I would have loved either job. So I was standing at the information station talking to my coworker when the intercom buzzed saying that she had a call. My heart started beating faster when she took the phone and I could tell that she was getting good news, and I felt a mixture of dispair and hope. When she got off the phone she was trying not to be too happy because she knew I was worried about my own situation. But I was happy for her. And even though I despaired that I wouldn't end up with e

2 Comments on from the BRG archives: another beginning, last added: 6/13/2011
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