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|The Jewish Museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind, in Berlin|
First, I need to say thank you to everyone who made my birthday such a bright yesterday. My birthday-birthday, and my book birthday. The weather was surreal-ly sweet. The daffodils bloomed. I got the client project done in the nick of time. My students were their perfect student selves. My husband brought roses. A friend drove a long way to leave me with a glamorous basket of pansies. My brother played the birthday song, my brother-in-law was all sweetness, my mother-in-law sang. There were hummingbirds and William Kotzwinkle and Kelly Simmons just about did me in with words I swear I'm gonna frame.
I had crab cake.
I had dessert.
My son called—his voice the color of the day, his stories the kind that kept me smiling, late, in the dark of the night.
I know what, and for whom, to be grateful. And I am.
Today, I am, again, grateful for Tamra Tuller and Chronicle Books and the release of Going Over,
and for all of you who sent notes or Twittered or Facebooked or just plain kept me company during the release. Thank you for letting me know about the starred review in Shelf Awareness
. Thank you for sending along the extremely kind BookPage review.
Last evening, Chronicle Books kicked off the blog tour (following Serena Agusto-Cox's earlier blog kindness
) with some words I wrote about music, writing, and Berlin, in a post that begins like this, below, and carries forward here
At the age of nine, on a Boston pond, I launched my (oh so very minor) ice-skating career. Twirls. Edges. Leaps. Falls.
Shortly thereafter (the precise day and hour escape me now), I began to write. Lyric flourishes. Running lines. Suspended disbelief. Revisions.
Music and story. They’re the same thing, right? Sentences are melodies. Plots are choreography. The silence in between the lines is wish and wisk.
Today My Friend Amy, who has, for almost forever, truly been My Friend Amy, is continuing that blog tour. A book warrior with wings, I'll call her, who has accompanied me through so much of my writing journey, who has always mattered deeply, who spent some time reading Going Over
, writes the sweetest words
, and is offering a copy of the book to one of her readers, all of which is happening here
By: Beth Kephart
Blog: Beth Kephart Books
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, publishers weekly
, my friend amy
, Rita Williams-Garcia
, Ruta Sepetys
, Small Damages
, Two Heads Together
, Book Loving Mommy
, Add a tag
... featuring the words of authors I love, the kindness of bloggers, my photographs of southern Spain, and my husband's deliberately rough Spanish guitar, for that is the kind of guitar my gypsy characters play.
It would mean so much to me if you shared this trailer with others.
There will, inevitably, be mistakes in this post. That is because I am literally shaking. My hands are numb. My throat is tight. Don't call me, because I'll start crying.
I am the girl in that picture, here. Wearing funky pants and silly hairy, my whole self just a little bit blurry.
I haven't changed much. I still have my self-doubts, my disappointments, my too-big dreams. I can still get cranky from time to time, I can never get my hair right, and I can still write sentences that (upon waking to them the next day) shame me. We writers out here — we are just writers. And sometimes things go well and sometimes they don't, and if we had to do it all alone—if I
had to do it all alone—well, I am pretty darned sure that my career would have stopped long ago. I wouldn't have stopped writing. But I might not have books in lovely covers to share.
I owe everything—everything
—to the good hearts out here who have looked up from their own projects, their own days, their own children, their own blogs and said, You have a place with us here.
Today my world broke open that much wider. Today—yesterday—the day before—the days before that—readers—friends!
— reached in and turned on a light. I have so many to thank. It's just so inadequate, that phrase, thank you.
In a day or two, there will be a treasure hunt, a series of blog posts, distributed across the net, that I wrote to help tell the story of the story behind You Are My Only.
I will announce the details of that in time.
But all this time that I have been working with the dear hearts on this treasure hunt, those dear hearts took the party so much wider—very sneakily preparing what has become one gigantic early party for this book. These party planners know that I never google my own name, and so perhaps that set them free. Still, I have no idea how they did this much without me even guessing that anything more was afoot.
To attend this party, you must first visit the master schemer, the beautiful heart, the lovely lady behind There's a Book
, the one and only 1st Daughter
. You must at the exact same time visit the one and only, ever invincible, always dear and wise and stunning, always surprising My Friend Amy
. Soon, when I stop shaking, I will share those links that have been sent my way. Every single one of which means the world to me.
Please don't think that I am kidding about my shaking over here. And what I just wrote in a comment box to the 1st Daughter is true: The first thing that happened when I saw all of this is just now is that I said to myself, Beth, You have to call Mom.
But Mom's in heaven, and she's looking down. She sends her love to all of you.
By: Beth Kephart
Blog: Beth Kephart Books
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Hippies Beauty and Books. Books
, Chick Loves Lit
, The Reading Zone
, my friend amy
, There's a Book
, YOU ARE MY ONLY
, Thoughts and A Few Adventures
, This Too
, Add a tag
I woke up yesterday thinking the day would be like most others—a scramble of corporate work, some exercise, laundry folded on the fly, an hour or two spent with a novel-in-progress, some texting with my son, Wednesday night salsa at MIXX. It started out that way, that's for sure, but the pattern got broken mid-way through. Things started to show up on my Facebook wall. You-better-take-a-look-at....
-emails were coming through. What's going on?
people were asking. I don't know,
I said. Because for a long time I didn't.
I'm still mystified, to be honest, by all the kindness
that came my way during the course of yesterday—all the kindness that exists in this world. I'm mystified, and I'm eternally grateful. I am also feeling desperately inadequate because I have failed to capture it all. I had planned, yesterday, to thank some very special people who have been supporting me and my work for years. In the shuffle and shift and bewilderment of my day, I did not do that.
Today is the day that I stop and thank the readers and writers who have quietly written to me of their support. Today is the day I thank those who read this book early and posted their thoughts. I never want this blog to be all about me. It is my privilege, here, to write about others, their books, their dreams; to write about my city; to write about people doing good. In cross posting these early blogger reviews of You Are My Only,
I am celebrating those who took the time—those who care. I am telling them what I hope they already feel and know: That I am hugely grateful. If I have not captured your voice here, it is only because I don't know. Because years ago I stopped googling my own name—the only solution for one as naturally obsessive and easily worried as me.
And so then please find below the excerpts from some recent blog posts that I hope you will read in their entirety. Posts from bloggers whom you should visit daily. Caribousmom is here—that exquistely smart reviewer with whom I first connected over The Elegance of the Hedgehog
and whom I later met in person in New York; I've loved her ever since. Becca of Bookstack, an indelible presence and so-smart reviewer and long time blog world friend is here. There's a Book and My Friend Amy are here—their support so entirely unspeakable. Hippies Beauty and Books. Oh my, is here, as is The Reading Zone. These join the rocking surprise gonzo You Are My Only
promotion featured here, on Chick Loves Lit
and on Bookalicious,
the equally stealthy and gonzo Melissa Sarno of This Too giveaway, Florinda
, Kay's Bookshelf,
and Books, Thoughts, and a Few Adventures.
Thank you. All. I'm about to start reading a new book called Child Wonder.
I hope to write of that soon here—to return to the universe some of the what has been sent my way.
2 Comments on You Are My Only—the kindness of bloggers continues, last added: 9/8/2011
Because you may in fact have grown weary of listening to me go on about the You Are My Only
Treasure Hunt, I introduce this final clues installment with pictures of puppies. Everyone still loves puppies, right? And especially ones with hats.
In any case, here we go. The fifth and final guest post telling the story behind the story of You Are My Only
has now gone live out there in the blogosphere. This one appears on a blogger site that I find visually fascinating and deeply textured, like the best designed Project Runway dress (I'm thinking Mondo crossed with Anya). This blogger (who is herself a fine writer) describes herself as a pain in the you know what (but I rather love her), has a close relationship to Hicklebee's (she's the resident blogger), wears tiaras, and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. I do not know if she dances.Post 5
begins like this:
If you’ve been following these blog posts, then you understand already that I don’t write my books in some preordained sequential fashion. I don’t outline a plot; I don’t consult the trends; I don’t go with the fashions. I write about what will not let me sleep, and over time, and through countless drafts, the separate aspects of my obsessions knit themselves into a story.
One of the things that was keeping me awake at night while I was working on this book was the stories I kept reading about urban explorers—those fascinating souls who explore abandoned buildings, often illegally, and create entire underworlds within them. For many years, a northeast Philadelphia asylum known to many as Byberry was a favorite haunting ground for these folks. This gigantic structure had been left to rot after being shut down in the 1990s, and the urban explorers (or “cavers” as they are sometimes known) had taken over—held rave parties there, ridden their motorcycles through connective tunnels, dug through the patient records and film reels and all the wild and disturbing “stuff” that had been so haphazardly left behind.
Your job is to find this post and to also find the four other posts that very kind bloggers have lodged on their blogs. If you do that—find all five posts, put the links on your own blog, and send me proof of your cross linking in any comment box by October 24
—you will be entered into a drawing. The two randomly chosen winners will each win a signed copy of You Are My Only
as well as an opportunity to have 2,000 words from a work in progress be critiqued by yours truly. For the full details go here
. Winners will be announced October 25, the day that You Are My Only
Here, again, are the clues.Post 4
is housed at the psychodelically-hued (we know that isn't a real term) home of a certain chick who loves lit. I met this wonderful person at the BEA this past summer. She was part of the awesome gang of many who surprised me with a YAMO blast a month or so again. The post you are looking for begins like this:
Those who know me know that I’m only intermittently good at devising titles.
Undercover was called Come Back to Me, for example, until Laura Geringer asked me to please think again on that one. Still Love in Strange Places was named by my son moments b
I was not at home, not with my normal machines, not even with my book of email addresses.
I was just here. Being.
And then a message came through on my phone from Serena Agusto-Cox. She wondered if I had seen My Friend Amy's blog today. She thought that if I hadn't, I should pay a visit.
I waited until my husband was done with the ancient laptop we had brought along for this short journey. It crunched and crunched (it takes its time) before the screen filled with Amy's words
. My eyes blurred. My throat caught. It took some time for me to read them.
Because Amy is kinder and dearer to me than I can say. And her review is more than a review. Review isn't even the word. Her review is a gift.
Yes. This week is magic.
Thank you, Amy. For always being there. For being the first. For making me lucky.
This is just to say that I am getting very excited about a certain Book Blogger Convention that will be taking place in New York City on May 28th. You won't be surprised to learn that the fine readers/writers behind My Friend Amy, Galleysmith, Maw Books, Linus's Blanket, MotherReader, The Book Lady's Blog, and Hey Lady! Watcha Readin' are masterminding this event, nor that some truly terrific book bloggers, agents, and authors are already registered. I'll be there, too, on a panel now being crafted. I'll be the one who is happiest, above all else, to finally be able to thank some angel-winged people in person.
Last night, following a dizzying 11,000-word client project day interrupted only by an hour more of shoveling and my perfect virtual walk with Katrina Kenison, I sat staring, comatose, at the 10 PM newscast on TV. The guy was using terms like "possibly 20 inches of more snow" and "thundersnow." I decided, being a writer of fiction and all, to pretend it just isn't happening.
Here, though, is what is happening instead, thanks to some very wonderful people out in the blogosphere:
Drea and Sara over at Traveling Arc Tours are hosting a tour of The Heart is Not a Size. Any of you who might wish to read an early copy can check the terms and rules out here.
Meanwhile, My Friend Amy has written to share the exciting news that I'll be sharing a panel with her and a few other fabulous book bloggers at the May convention. Go here for details on that.
Finally, those of you who have glanced to the left of this post lately know that Heart is part of the HarperTeen 28 Days of Winter Escapes book-a-day giveaway. Heart will be featured on February 25th with, among other things, an interview focused in part on my idea of romance. Romance. That's right. I was asked about romance. More information can be found here.
I wrote the first draft of The Heart is Not a Size several years ago, and then it sat, waiting for my imagination, which was teased into fuller life by both Laura Geringer and Jill Santopolo. Between now and then, I've waited for this story to be released to the world—tremulously, as I tend to do, but also with hope that I might shed some light on a part of the world, Juarez, that I came to love.
One writes a story. Others carry it forward for you. Today I wish to thank the ever-generous My Friend Amy for her glorious review, as well as Bookworming in the 21st Century and Read What You Know.
which was so well run, so informative, and so rippled through with companionable energy:
The Javitz Convention Center. Yours truly flanked by Natasha (Maw Books Blog
) and Nicole (Linus's Blanket
). The faithful attendees, of the very last BEA week day, after the very last session, as seen from the very last seat of the Author/Blogger Relationship panel discussion. Yours truly with the one and only Lenore
. Yours truly with the always-kind Melissa of The Betty and Boo Chronicles
. And never last and never least: The fabulous Amy of My Friend Amy
(in person!) as well as the very dear and intelligent Wendy of Caribousmom
By: Beth Kephart
Blog: Beth Kephart Books
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, my friend amy
, Elizabeth Mosier
, Dangerous Neighbors
, Unabashedly Bookish
, and Chinese Food
, Melissa Walker
, Holly Cupala
, Egmont USA
, Add a tag
Today I am in debt to the many who have embraced Dangerous Neighbors
and made today, its launch day, alive and so beautiful, in so many ways.
Thank you, Amy at My Friend Amy, for doing so much, so quietly, so dearly — for finding the energy, for working (with Nicole Bonia) toward the ideas and the ideals, for coining the phrase The Beth Effect, for believing in the power of hope
, and finding it.
Thank you, Melissa Walker, for asking me to tell the cover story
of Dangerous Neighbors
for your Barnes and Noble blog at Unabashedly Bookish.
Thank you, Holly Cupala, for inviting me to share some of the secrets
behind Dangerous Neighbors
(and to conduct a book giveaway) for your own wonderful blog.
Thank you, Deborah at Books, Movies, and Chinese Food, for your gorgeous review
and for so kindly posting your thoughts on Amazon. What a kindness.
Thank you, Anna Lefler, beloved comedienne and faithful Twitterer.
Thank you, Mandy, for more than I can ever tell or say.
Thank you, Karen Mahoney, for this incredible blog nod
(and a fantastic list of other blogs you cannot live without).
Thank you, Elizabeth Mosier, for your party-hat wearing (even if it did unsmooth your enviably smooth hair).
Thank you, Jay Kirk, Sy Montgomery, Katrina Kenison, J.C. Castner, Kate Moses, Hipwritermama, Erin McIntosh, Lorie Ann Grover, Melissa Middleman Firman, Jill Santopolo, Rody Gratton, Paul DiLorenzo, Andra Bell, Ivy Goodman, Nate, Nate, Laura, Kelly, Tirsa, Richard, Liz, Jan, Barbara, Jerry, Rosellen Brown, and Alyson Hagy.
Thank you, all of Egmont USA, and thank you, Amy Rennert, for calling, and thank those of you who encourage champagne and a little private reflection on a day that so much corporate work calls, and thank you any that I have inadvertently missed. I don't mean to miss goodness. Ever.
For so many reasons, this book feels like my first, ever.
I have all of you to thank for that.
I have been anticipating the release of YOU ARE MY ONLY for what seems like a very long time (only because I was writing and rewriting the book for what felt like a long but deeply wonderful time). But I did not anticipate having two of my favorite bloggers take such early notice of it. Has anyone figured out how to send hugs long distance, yet?
For being there for me, and for my books, I am today thanking 1st Daughter at There's a Book
and Amy, at My Friend Amy
. I would love to have you both to a party of cherished readers someday.
Oh, and may I just add a note of appreciation here for my dear cousin (we are going to call ourselves cousin, even if some second something is involved) Kelsey Coons for letting me know about There's a Book? If you saw or met Kelsey, you'd want to claim first-blood relation status, too.
and why they matter in works of art. I was thinking, as I read, that the New York Times Book Review
should hire Amy as a weekly essayist. She is just that good. I was thinking, too, about how lucky I am to count Amy as a faithful reader and so entirely generous friend.
Thank you, Amy, for these words
. Thank you, indeed, for everything.
I want to talk for a moment about connections—about the way one thing leads to the next.
The story starts with this blog, begun in a vacuum in 2007, begun with absolutely no idea of what a blog might reap, or what a blog should be. (As you can probably tell, I am still figuring that out.)
Somewhere along the way, somehow, the magnificent My Friend Amy
found her way here. And because My Friend Amy had, scores of others did, too. My Friend Amy is that kind of gal.
Among the My Friend Amy coterie was one Melissa Sarno, now a dear, amazing, smart, funny, treasured friend. Melissa is a writer and producer for a toy company by day, as she will tell you on her exceedingly intelligent blog
. She is a fiction writer by (extremely late) night. In between she keeps me laughing with her tales and her adventures, her threats to visit upon me the world's best pairing of cookies and wine, say, or a perilously stacked cone of ice cream. Twice Melissa has stood before me live and in person at the BEA. Always I learn from her.
Last week, Melissa was away. Yesterday she was at certain tennis match. This morning, I turned on this computer to find Melissa right here, with me, undertaking a Stealth (which is to say surprise) In Anticipation of You Are My Only giveaway.
It's pretty big. It's so Melissa. It threw me for a Coney-Island-Roller-Coaster-quality loop. Please take a moment to visit her blog and see what she has in store for you.
Melissa, you rock. The next triple scoop is on me. Plus the world's best malbec.
Confession: I have a really hard time reading reviews of my own books. Indeed, I have a hard time reading the books themselves once they're locked for good between hard covers. Like Michael Ondaatje and Tennessee Williams, I have the urge to nip and tuck right up to the very end. At readings I'll often find myself stopping mid-sentence, and reconsidering: What if I moved this semi-colon here? And: Do I need that adjective?
So I go along in this world, trying to write the best books that I can and hoping that those books will find their right readers. Good reviews are far from guaranteed. I write a certain kind of book. There are risks, always.
Tonight, I was moving through the blogs I love to read when I saw an image of the UNDERCOVER cover on My Friend Amy's blog. My heart skipped a beat, like my heart does. My Friend Amy, I thought. And then I held my breath, and read.
Amy does so much more—so beautifully—than talk about UNDERCOVER in this post. She talks about YA novels in general, and about her own high school career, and about a teacher she remembers. It's a charming, touching, and, to me, deeply moving, post, and I thank her so much for it.
(I'm breathing again.)
A footnote: UNDERCOVER is due out in May as a paperback "with extras." I describe just what those are in this earlier post.
I don't have words for today.
That's it, I don't.
My Friend Amy (her blog name, her world self) wrote to me a week or so ago and suggested that we have a Nothing but Ghosts party. I said, "Thank you. Of course. That would be lovely." I said, "Yes, of course, I'll be in a chat (thank you for the invitation)", and "Yes, of course, I'll do a reading (let me fix my hair)", but in truth, I had no idea—zero—what she was planning.
This is what she and Lenore have been planning. My Friend Amy plus Presenting Lenore.
The force is, most definitely, with me.
You think I love dance so much because, well, I love to dance. And that is true. But perhaps I love dance more for the friendships it has yielded, for the conversations, for the simple but abiding truths that emerge—during lessons, during practice.
There is, for example, the bit about radiant joy. About how, once it is found (once it emerges, is discovered) happiness is a contagion. Perhaps it begins (often it begins) with the song itself. The power roar of rhythm. The lyric lush or tease. But after that, there is the one who asks the other, Dance with me?, and where happiness has asked the question, happiness answers back. There's just no not smiling when you are dancing with one who is. There's no holding back.
This week, all throughout the blog-o-sphere, readers, writers, bloggers, and all-round good souls have engendered, in me, an uncontainable happiness. They have reached out, thrown me a party, given me cause and room to dance. I am not a celebrity writer, not a powerhousing commercial writer, not a writer headed out on tour. But this week I was an embraced writer. I could never ask for more.
This morning I wish to thank the always-dear Miss Em, for her gorgeous review of Nothing but Ghosts. I wish to thank My Friend Amy for her amazing words about this book she chose to believe in, to rally behind, before she even turned its pages. I wish to thank all of you—Lenore, Becca, Florinda, Ed, Anna, Sherry, Holly, Vivian, Bookworming, Erin, The Book Resort, Serendipity Teacher, BooksLoveJessicaMarie, Ellen, Colleen, so many more—who have done what you have done.
Happiness. Happiness going viral.
Nothing But Ghosts is written in Beth's trademark lyrical style. It's a rich look at the heart and at life and loss. It unravels slowly, like a lazy summer day giving us glimpses into what makes a person disappear, what grief looks like, how life can go on after we lose someone we love. I liked that there was a bit of mystery, a hint of romance, a lot of reflection. But what I loved most about this book is the simple truth that we are all a bunch of people who have loved and carry around aching loss in our hearts, and yet there is hope to be found somewhere, often in each other.
— My Friend Amy
It does what all books should do, provide hope for the character's future while not telling us every single thing that will happen in that future. Katie is a living character in my mind, someone that I might meet on the street or in a library one day. And there are so many other details, so many wonderful layers to this book—the glass bottles, the bird at the window, the paintings—I couldn't possibly write all of them down in this review. Just trust me and get your hands on a copy as soon as you can.
— Em's Bookshelf
I am definitely living another's life right now.
I am not me. I am merry-go-round whirling. I am dizzy.
First My Friend Amy and Presenting Lenore cook up this not-to-be-believed virtual (surprise) launch party for Nothing but Ghosts—replete with prizes, with urgings, with viral enthusiasms. Their friends friend the initiative. Momentum builds. Conversations unfold: Can bloggers shape the book industry? Is there power in blogger suggestion? A party becomes a dialogue. A dialogue becomes a story. I watch, stunned—the woman who still thinks of herself as the loner in high school.
Then, today, I wake to discover that my friend, humorist and novelist (yes, she's a novelist; I'm reading her it-will-be-published-soon novel right now) Anna Lefler, has kicked off an extravaganza all her own. I mean: An. Ex.Tra.Va.Gan.Za. Featuring a Beth Kephart tour bus (how does she do those things?), an ocarina, and a bootleg interview conducted (in Anna's trademark so-smart-it-can't-be-slapstick style) with yours truly (when I received her questions I started to laugh; as I answered I kept laughing). Featuring prizes that you have to see to believe ($150 Amazon gift card anyone?).
I know that life isn't always like this. In fact, it rarely is. Nothing but Ghosts is my tenth book. What happens here, what happens now, is not, for an instant, taken for granted. It is a surprise. It is a miracle. It is this moment in time that I will return to, years from now. Remember when?, I'll say.
Those of you who read this blog know that I was given the enormous gift, in the publishing of Nothing but Ghosts, of the extended, active friendship of bloggers who joined together to lift this book and me from one realm into another. Kindness such as this is revelatory. It is touchstone kindness. The memory one returns to in darker times.
This morning I discovered two bloggers who, inspired by My Friend Amy, bought and read Nothing but Ghosts and had deeply touching things to say about it. I am constantly afraid, with this blog, of seeming to be self-promotional. But I am equally afraid of not honoring the kindness of others.
And so: Today I honor Beth Fish and BookingMama for their extraordinary words—words that taught me something new about a book I'd written.
I also wish to extend a virtual hug to Em of Emsbookshelf today. We became blogging friends early in this journey, and she's now like a sister to me. She was among the first to read House of Dance in galley form, one of the first to read Nothing but Ghosts, and, this week, she became the second reader that I know of (outside my editor and copyeditor) to read The Heart is Not a Size, the Juarez novel due out next March. I hold my breath until I hear from Em. She says that I can exhale now.
Thank you all, and now, finally, a postscript. I wrote earlier today about the boy and the girl at the dance studio—how she anticipated an argument, acquiesced to a decision, and danced happy. I should have noted—it's essential—that their relationship seems to be of that wonderful reciprocated type. For later on, during the photo session, the young girl taught the young man some new steps. He watched and listened carefully. He respected what she had to say. He was grateful for it. And then he stepped from the sidelines, and together they danced. Thank you, Beth F., for urging a fuller telling of that story.
As part of the Literary Road Trip sponsored by the GalleySmith, I was asked to talk about home by My Friend Amy, who in turn shared our conversation with Beth Fish Reads, who so graciously reviewed Ghosts yesterday.
That's a long way around saying that if you would like to know how being a Pennsylvanian has influenced my books (and it most fervently has), I encourage you to visit Beth Fish Reads and find out. I enourage you to visit Beth Fish Reads anyway. I know that I've added her to my own daily habit.
There's a spark in the children's lit air and her name is Elizabeth Law (her title, by the way, is VP and Publisher, Egmont USA). She's being talked about and interviewed in many places and, from what I'm hearing from friends like Sherrie, Elizabeth's keynote address at SCBWI-LA was exquisite—empowering and enlightening. This is the same Elizabeth Law who stopped by, unexpectedly, to a book chat sponsored by My Friend Amy, on behalf of Nothing but Ghosts. Amy is a book blogger Elizabeth follows on Twitter. Nothing but Ghosts is a Harper title. I was typing away, trying to keep up with the chatter, when it occured to me that the Elizabeth Law whose name kept burbling up among the chat-room many was THE Elizabeth Law, of Egmont.
Every single time I hear an Elizabeth Law story, I stop and remind myself how entirely lucky I am that my historical novel, Dangerous Neighbors, will be released by Egmont next fall. I don't just get to work with a phenomonal, brilliant editor—Laura Geringer—on this book. I get to work with a publisher who is out there on Twitter and Facebook and Blogs and Chatrooms, talking about books she loves, trends she sees, things she hopes for. Elizabeth Law is a galvanizer. It is peace-yielding to look ahead to this collaboration. I wish that I could have been in LA, at her keynote talk. More than that, though, I hope and believe that the daring and caring that Elizabeth brings to books will become a surge wave that works its way across an industry that desperately needs her kind of energy and faith.
Those of you who have been following Book Blogger Appreciation Week know just how much effort its creator and myriad (tireless) support persons have put into announcing, promoting, supporting, and delivering the 2009 BBAW Awards Shortlists, which have been announced today (because these good souls never rest, not even on Labor Day). More than 1,000 blogs have been sorted through, screened, and considered. Now that the shortlists are up, it's up to the rest of us to go visit those blogs that may be new to us, and to vote for the winners.
I've been quite lucky this year and have been shortlisted—along with Neil Gaiman's Journal, Maureen Johnson Blog, Meg's Diary, and Scobberlotch—in the Best Published Author Blog category. Whomever thought to include me, whomever judged my work, I embrace you with a very large thank you. I don't believe my name has ever before been in the same sentence with these fine writers, and it's a privilege.
All week long, My Friend Amy and her most-amazing team have been gathering at their hearth the book bloggers of the world who have, in my humble opinion, rescued books from oblivion. I was a judge for one panel, I was a nominee in a different category, and I was also invited to write an essay about book bloggers, and why they matter. That essay was originally posted here, alongside a whole lot of good stuff from great bloggers. But just in case you haven't yet mosied over, I reprint it below.
The question, the theme, is why I appreciate book bloggers. The thoughts in my head are urgent and many. I appreciate book bloggers because they redeem, energize, and fortify an industry that would, I firmly believe, be in an untenable position without them. Few can rally readers to books the way that book bloggers do. Few can herald, in true blogger style, titles yet to come or books that too few of us notice. Few care as much as book bloggers care about covers, issues, themes. Book bloggers are readers, they are teachers, they are bookshop employees, they are librarians, they are parents, they are neighbors, and they love books. They summon and articulate their passions on a regular basis—not for pay, not for honors, but on behalf of stories, authors, and the written word.
I think of the time (and money) that book bloggers pour into their craft—all that reading, posting, commenting, all that mailing and sorting, all those events—and I ask myself: How did this come to be? And, Where would I be without book bloggers?
For truly: Where would I be? I am a writer of literary books—no commercial giant, no Personality, not the glam gal on the limo tour. I care—enormously—about the books that I write. I want them to find their right readerly homes. I know that, without readers, I do not have a writing future. But I have little control over the fate of my books. They are released into the world, and I wait.
It’s the angels with wings who move in after that—angels, by which I mean book bloggers. Those souls whom I have never met, who live in places I have never seen, who take an interest. On the release date of Nothing but Ghosts, this past June, I woke to a virtual book launch party that had been engineered by no other than My Friend Amy and Presenting Lenore. I had not seen it coming. I could not believe my eyes. I told everyone—for weeks afterward—that something extraordinary had happened. “They threw me a party,” I kept telling friends. “They believed in this book, and in me.” They had thrown open the doors to their own community, and invited me in, to stay. I have met extraordinary bloggers in the aftermath of that party. I have found, within myself, a deeper faith in the kinds of books that I try to write—literary books that cross genre borders, that will live or die solely on the recommendations of readers, readers who also happen to be book bloggers.
I am getting teary-eyed writing this. I am thinking about all those book bloggers who have come into my life since I myself started blogging two years ago—the stories they’ve told me about themselves, the books they’ve insisted that I read, the love that they have given, so freely, to me. I would be not be who I am without these souls. That’s a fact, firm and unyielding.