Saturday, April 11, 2015

A new book coming 2016

There is a book I haven't talked about much. A fantasy middle grade novel. It sold back in 2011. I remember the day very clearly, because just a couple of hours before getting the call from my agent, I had gotten a call from Neil, the husband of my dear friend, Lisa. He had called to let me know she had passed away peacefully that morning, at the hospice center where she'd been for a couple of weeks. Lisa had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December.

So when the call came letting me know the book had officially sold, that the deal was finalized, I apologized to my agent for not being more excited. Of course she understood. It was a sad day, to say the least. Prior to December, I would have shared the good news with Lisa. She would have cheered. She would have wanted to celebrate. She loved good news, especially that of the bookish sort. But my friend was gone, and I was devastated.

Fast forward a few months, to late June, when I traveled to New York City because my YA novel CHASING BROOKLYN was a RITA Award finalist. While there, I made time to meet with the editor who had bought the MG fantasy for breakfast in Grand Central Station. We chatted about life and books and she told me some of the changes she wanted me to make to the manuscript. When I got home, I went to work, and had the first round of revisions done in a couple of months.

Her schedule was busy and it took a while, but eventually I got an official editorial letter along with the manuscript, and another big round of revisions was necessary. Sometimes this is how it goes. Some books need more work than others.

When I wrote the book back in 2010, the idea came about from a page in my idea journal.

Some things stayed, some things didn't, but it all began because of that page. I feel like my editor helped shape the novel into something pretty magical. I am so happy with how it turned out. I am proud of this book in a big way. It took years and a lot of hard work to get it right. But I think we did get it right, and that is such an amazing feeling.

In a few weeks, I get to share the cover of this book, titled THE GIRL IN THE TOWER, coming March 29, 2016.

Today, I want to tell you who has designed the cover, as well as the black and white illustrations that will appear throughout the entire novel. The illustrations are stunning, and I cannot wait to see the final book!

Her name is Nicoletta Ceccoli. Her web site seems to be down at the moment, but take a look at one of her prints that is available for purchase. I absolutely LOVE it. All of her work is just so amazing. If you want to see more, just google her name, and you'll see lots of beautiful images.

While the book may have had a bit of a sad beginning, it will have a happy ending. It will be out next year and I'm over-the-moon excited about it. I hope you are too!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I love school visits!!

I've just returned from two days of school visits in Southern Oregon. I don't like the four hour drive much, but the students and teachers and the awesome librarians made up for that!

My first visits were at South Middle School, where I did four presentations on Monday and two presentations on Tuesday, and had lunch both days with a select group of students. The kids were amazing - so many of them came up to tell me super nice things about my books and writing. A lot of the kids bought books and had me sign them. One girl told me she saved her dog-walking money so she could buy four of my books. FOUR! It must be her favorite number, because when I asked her how many dogs she walks, the answer to that question was four as well.

One of the language arts teachers reads CHASING BROOKLYN to her 7th graders every year. When someone told me that, I was like, oh my gosh, doesn't she get sick of it? He replied, "She just really loves it. You can tell." As a result, I had lots of fans of that book there, both boys and girls, which is always awesome to see. Another language arts teacher was reading IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES to his 6th grade students. Really appreciate that teacher support, let me tell you.

We got one of the lunch groups to pose for a picture. Here we are, getting our jazz hands on.

Tuesday afternoon I hopped over to North Middle School (that totally makes me sound like the Easter bunny, doesn't it?) where I met with another great group of students. They were in the middle of this awesome contest the librarian puts on every year involving peeps and dioramas. SO cool! Check out this Harry Potter one:

I've always said I write my YA novels with middle school kids in mind. They are my core audience, and I love spending time with them!

So, I'm back home and back to work on the current work-in-progress. But not this morning. Author Cynthia Lord is in town, and presenting very near my house, so I'm going to go and listen to her presentation this morning!

These are the days I really love my job.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring break!

One week of no alarm clocks.

One week of writing in the mornings while the rest of the family sleeps

One week of naps and netflix.

One week of Mother Nature unable to make up her mind (pouring today, with some hail mixed in. By Thursday, supposed to be sunny and 75 - YAY!)

One week of reading here and there, in between everything else.

On Sunday I'm off to southern Oregon for some school visits. But until then, it is nice not having much of a schedule. I love spring break because it is a pause just before the last big push to get to summer. April and May are going to be busy. In June, my youngest son graduates from high school, which is just beyond impossible to believe.

Where has the time gone?

For everything, there is a season...

Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

When you want to read a book but can't find it

I get quite a few notes that say something along the lines of:

I love your books SO much and I really want to read _______________ (insert book title there), but I can't find it at my library or bookstore. I would be so happy if you could send one to me please. Please, it would really mean a lot to me.

Okay, first of all, THANK YOU for reading and enjoying my books. I am really glad they've brought you joy. I truly am.

me being happy and saying thank you


You knew there was going to be a but, right?

This is a little bit like if you live in Idaho and you see a dog you LOVE and you ask where the owner got it and she says she got it from a breeder in Maine. And so you go home and email the breeder and ask if she can send a puppy to you in Idaho, please, because you love their dogs SO much and there's no way you can find one in Idaho, but you really, really want one!

I suppose I can see why maybe people might think I can send books to people, since there are a couple of myths floating around out there that go something like this:

a) all authors are rich, and
b) authors get loads and loads of their books for free, because, after all, they wrote them

So let me debunk these myths right here and right now.

First - all authors are not rich, unfortunately. A few of the very well-known ones who've sold millions of books and have movies out and all of that are indeed rich. But most authors have a day job because they don't make enough money writing and selling books to live on. Also, many authors struggle to pay their bills every month because the way we get paid is SUPER crazy.

Traditionally published authors get checks for royalties (a percentage of book sales) twice a year. Think about that for a minute. The majority of people in America get paid every two weeks for their work, or once a month at the least. But not authors. Authors only get paychecks twice a YEAR. But what's even crazier than that is we have absolutely no idea how much those paychecks will be. They might be $10.00, they might be $10,000. We do not know, because the publisher is in charge of keeping track of sales.

What determines how much those checks will be? How many books we sell, through library and school sales, through bookstore sales, through e-book sales, and through on-line retailer sales.

You can imagine how exciting (but also terrifying) it is to get that paycheck every six months. But if I give a bunch of books away? Guess what!? I am missing out on sales that could be in that paycheck that helps feed my family and keeps a roof over our heads.

Second - authors get loads and load of our own books for free.

Nope. We don't. Each contract states how many we get. Standard number, I'm pretty sure, is twenty-five copies. Once I've given those copies away, I have to buy the books like everyone else.

Okay, then, so what do you do if you want a book and you can't find it in the store or at the library?

ASK. Please don't ask the author, ask the book store or library to order a copy for you. They are in the book business. Authors are not in the book business - authors are in the WRITING business.

This is me, writing. Or agonizing. Probably both.
If you don't have a book store or library near you, there are lots of online retailers, besides the big one everyone knows about, who can mail you a book right to your house!

Powell's books ships throughout the United States.
The Book Depository ships world wide.

The other reason it's so important for you to ASK if you can't find a book, rather than give up or email the author for a free copy, is because the publisher needs to make money on the book too. If the publisher loses money, guess what, that author may have trouble publishing books in the future. I am not joking when I say that for some authors (like me, ahem ahem) EVERY sale counts.

Let me be clear:
I love writing.
I love books.
I love it when people, especially kids and teens, love books and want to read more of my books.
I wish I could give every one of my readers free books.
But I also wish I could give homeless people homes and all of the hungry pets food and every child in the world an education.
I am one person who does what she can every day to make the world a better place, but like every other person, I can't do everything I'd like, you know?

My job is to show up on writing days and write the best book Lisa Schroeder can write. I can wish and hope and love things to the moon and back, but the writing is my job and I will continue to do my best as long as my books sell and make some money for me and my publisher.

But the second part of that equation isn't really up to me, is it? :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Happy World Read Aloud Day!

Today I Skyped with kids all across America for World Read Aloud Day. It's a fun day where we celebrate books and reading. I only had one cancellation due to a snow day, so not too bad! I was worried there might be more than that.

Here's a couple rows of one of the groups I talked with:

Wow, what a cool looking library, huh?

I will get to talk to kids in person the end of this month when I travel down to southern Oregon for some school visits.

Talking with kids about reading and writing is one of my favorite parts of the job.

But for now, it's time to get to the other part of my job - working on the next book! While eating chocolate, of course.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Write what you want to know

Probably most of you have heard the old adage, "Write what you know."

Over the years, authors have argued it's actually not the best strategy. What might be better is to say something like, "Write what you want to know." In other words, go where your imagination and curiosity take you.

I can't lie, I'm pretty envious of the authors who (seem to me anyway) have huge imaginations. Authors like Laini Taylor, Holly Black, Kate DiCamillo, Maggie Stiefvater, Rick Riordan, etc. etc. They think big. Imagine big. Write cool stories about cool things.

If I've learned one thing over the course of my career these past eight years, it is this: do not underestimate the power of cool things.

What do I mean by cool? I don't even know if I can pin it down. It's something that makes people sit up and take notice. It's something that large groups of people love. It's unique, in a good way, to stories, and yet as a whole, it's not too unique.

I recently read the Printz honor book The Carnival at Bray, a young adult novel (ages 13+), and goodness gracious, that book is just SO COOL. I don't want to give anything away, but something happens part way through the book that made me shout out loud because I loved where the book was going so much. That's amazing, when you think about it.

I've recently realized that I have done a much better job at thinking about the "cool factor" when writing my middle grade books than writing my young adult books. I don't know why. And I don't know why I only noticed this recently, but now that I have, it's something I'm taking into consideration a lot more before I start in a new story. This writing thing, there is always SO MUCH to learn, it's kind of crazy.

So this is the week MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS comes out.

It's a story for people ages eight and up, and has received really nice reviews from all of the trade publishers. When I began writing it, I went into it knowing there were a lot of kids, girls specifically, who would go crazy for a story set in Paris. Like cupcakes, Paris is one of those things that is just fun. I know girls who have their bedrooms decorated with all-things Paris. Paris, in a lot of kids minds, is cool. And when I wrote the book, I knew there were hardly any books for the middle-grade crowd set there. But that wasn't even the best part -- I knew I would have fun writing a book set in Paris, because it's been a dream of mine for a long, long time to visit that incredible city.

MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS is definitely a book where I wrote what I wanted to know. Where I wrote about something I love to think about. Dream about. And I'm so incredibly excited for people across the country to discover this book and to go on an adventure with Nora around the City of Light.

I only wish I could provide everyone with french pastries to eat as they read!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

From My Mail

It's time, once again, to stop for a moment and say THANKS to all of you who have read my books and dropped me a note via email or regular mail. I try to respond to each and every one, though sometimes it does take me a while.

Here's what some readers have been saying recently:

"I just recently finished your book My Secret Guide to Paris. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! I found your book at the Scholastic book fair just recently. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who likes to read and write about Paris (my whole room is themed about Paris!) Your book was so great I'm planning to read more of your books." ~ Mackenzie

"I am reading your book My Secret Guide to Paris. I love it so much. I'm not done with it, but so far it is my favorite book ever. My mom said to make a movie from a book, I would have to buy the rights. So I'm writing to ask you if the rights for this book are for sale?" ~ Mary, age 10

"I just wanted to tell you that I love your It's Raining Cupcakes books. I own them all and continue to read them over and over. They're pretty much the only books I read. I just wanted to tell you to keep up the awesome work and to let you know you are my favorite author." ~ Brighton

"I liked to read about the cupcake shop. I am 7 years old. My favorite book is It's Raining Cupcakes. My favorite part of the book is making cupcakes." ~ Kyler, age 7

"I adore your books, but I'm especially fond of the Charmed Life series. I am reading the 2nd book currently and the first few pages got my face stuck to the book and I'm curious about the next part. Keep up with the work and don't get stressed." ~Vanessa

"For a while now, I've been reading your books. My favorite is I Heart You, You Haunt Me. I have no idea how many times I've read that book since 7th grade. Every time I was upset I'd read your books and they would give me happiness." ~ Kathy, HS sophomore

"I wrote you a few years back in 2011 about your books. Back then I was 14 and now I'm 17 and I still love your books. Every time I finish one I can't wait until you release a new one." ~ Leah, 17

You guys make me smile. Like this:

Keep being awesome - and don't just tell me how much you love them, please tell your friends too!!