Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A little update

Hi! I haven't been around much, I know.
2018 has been busy and stressful and ugly and beautiful and all the things that life can be. I started a new job in November. In January, I started writing the sequel to SEE YOU ON A STARRY NIGHT and struggled with finding the time to write because my husband herniated a disc in December. Lots of doctor appts, PT appts, taking him to the pool to float to relieve the pain for a while, and more. 
Somehow, I finished the draft and am revising it now. Somehow, we made it through those difficult five months and my husband had surgery last Friday. Somehow, through it all, we grew closer.
As hard as the last five months have been, they have taught me a lot. I'm reminded that good health is worth fighting for, because without it, life becomes difficult and small. I've learned that living in the moment and being present right now is probably the best way to live. And I've learned that I'm stronger than I knew. There were times when I fell into bed at night and wondered if I'd have the strength to get up the next day to do all the things that needed to be done. But the house is still standing. My job is going well. I finished my book. And my husband is finally on the other side of so much pain. When I went to Pink's concert last week, I sang the words, "I am here" along with her, tears streaming down my face. Summer is coming. There are so many things I want to do. I am here. And I am so grateful.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A repeat post - the power of the pre-order

My next middle grade novel, SEE YOU ON A STARRY NIGHT, is up for pre-order at Barnes and Noble. After reading recent announcements about problems the chain is having, I'm worried we're going to lose them like we lost Borders. I love independent bookstores but having a national chain is really important for authors, too. And of course, if you have an independent bookstore in your area, support them. Many independent bookstores have pre-orders available online, as well.

Features a message in a bottle, Vincent van Gogh, a bookmobile, and the pain of divorce. 

Here is a post I wrote and shared in April of 2014. It still applies today.

Dear readers, I am going to tell you something you may not know.

Apparently, Ewoks speak Tibetan


What a surprise, right?

Okay, so maybe I'm going to tell you two things you may not know. Are you ready for the second thing?

Pre-ordering a book is one of the very best things you can do for an author whose work you enjoy.

What does pre-ordering mean, exactly? It means ordering the book before its official release date. I'm pretty sure the most common way people pre-order a book is to buy it through an on-line retailer, but did you know you can also pre-order a book from your favorite independent bookstore? What's great about this is that it lets a local brick-and-mortar store know there is interest in this particular book. If they weren't going to carry it before, or were undecided, a pre-order (or two or three) may help them see the error of their ways.

Some independent bookstores have an on-line ordering system, and as soon as the book is up on their site, you can pre-order it. But you can also call the bookstore and pre-order it that way. I'm pretty certain that whatever works for you will work for them! They want to sell you the books you are excited about, trust me.

So why is the pre-order important? Because it makes the publisher happy to see pre-orders. And if the publisher is happy, good things might happen for the author. For example:

Pre-orders are crucial in helping a bookstore decide whether or not to carry a book. Yes, even the chain stores, because believe it or not, some books are NEVER picked up by the chains. Trust me, this is one of the worst things that can happen to an author. With solid pre-order numbers, the sales rep has a much easier time convincing stores to carry the book.

If another book the author has written is being considered by that publisher, pre-orders might help the publisher say yes to the next project.

If this book has a strong start, the author might get more publisher support/marketing dollars for the next book.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the NYT bestseller list. If a book is getting a lot of buzz and great reviews and there's a chance it could hit the list, pre-orders are vital in this situation, because pre-orders all count toward the first week's sales.

In short, pre-ordering a book is pretty much better than ordering a dozen cupcakes from Sprinkles Bakery and having them delivered to the author's home.


Better than cupcakes, people!! You know I don't say that lightly.

Okay, okay, so you really don't want to pre-order, for whatever reason. Maybe you don't have a credit card and are saving up your hard-earned babysitting money so you can buy the book when it comes out. (Anyone who buys books with their babysitting money is TOTALLY AWESOME, by the way). The next best thing you can do is buy the book in the first week or two that it's out. And then read it, and if you like it, tell all your friends about the book, too. I say this all the time - the best thing you can do for a book you love is to tell people about it. Tweet about it, talk about it, instagram it, whatever.

It's true that any time you buy a book, you are supporting the author, bookstores, the publishing industry, etc. and that is a *VERY* good thing.

But pre-orders? Better than cupcakes.

So there you go. A little Ewok trivia AND some things you may not have known about why pre-orders matter so much.

Monday, January 8, 2018

My first novel is 10 years old today!

10 years.
10. years.
10 YEARS.
10 YEARS!!!!

I remember it all. The rejections from agents that said, among other things:

"It's too short to be a novel."
"It's too sad."
"Poetry isn't my thing."
"I wouldn't know a good verse novel from a bad verse novel."

And then, an email from the wonderful woman who is now my agent of almost twelve years.

"I enjoyed it immensely."
“The verse works here – never getting in the way...”
“I would be the most enthusiastic of advocates.”

After many, many rejections, we found the perfect editor, who really got the book. He, along with many other fabulous people at Simon Pulse, helped turn my manuscript into this book.




More than any other book I've written, this one has brought me many, many heartfelt letters from readers. 

Letters from reluctant readers who said, "I usually hate to read but I love this book."
Letters from kids who never finished an entire novel until this one.
Letters from parents of children with dyslexia who were so happy their kids found a book they could read and enjoy.
Letters from people who had lost someone and found comfort in the pages.

It went into a second printing only a month after it had been released.
It's now in its 11th printing with over 100,000 copies in print. 
I call it "The little book that could."

If you have a few minutes to spare, you can watch the video I made to celebrate the book's release. I originally put it up on my blog at the time at livejournal, and then took it down at some point, maybe because I was embarrassed by it?? Well, I'm older now and have less you-know-whats to give. Anyway, while my book hasn't aged much at all, I can't say the same about myself. Ha!

Happy birthday, little book. I'm so happy you are here and that so many people have found hope and comfort and love in your pages. 




Sunday, December 31, 2017

Things I learned in 2017

It's been a tough few weeks. I had the flu and my husband is dealing with sciatica. When I'm not working, I'm trying to rest up and get my energy back or running him to doctor and PT appointments. Here's hoping for a healthy new year!

It's pretty easy to focus on the negative stuff, so I decided to make a list of the things I learned in 2017.  I still hope to do a more detailed post of the highlights from 2017, because I love looking back at those. But for now, here's my list.

1) Paris in the spring is more lovely than I ever imagined.
2) Auvers-sur-Oise is my new favorite place in the world.
3) Calling elected officials is important and not nearly as difficult as my brain might have wanted me to believe.
4) Sometimes parenting means doing hard things, but amazing and wonderful things often come from those hard things.
5) Time and energy spent on a child is always time and energy well spent.
6) My body appreciates it when I take good care of it.
7) Riding the bus is actually a pretty relaxing way to get to work and I don't mind it much (except for the germs).
8) My new job has shown me I am capable of focusing and being productive for hours at a time and I love that feeling. (Note to self: remove social media apps from writing computer for the new year).
9) I mustn't take health and mobility for granted. It's too important and must be a top priority, always.
10) Rereading CHARLOTTE'S WEB via audio with E.B. White reading it to me was an excellent decision.
11) Waiting for "the next shoe to drop" and checking for news on and off all day is a terrible way to live.
12) I'm happiest when I see friends regularly.
13) Maybe I can't make a huge difference and change the world, but I can do small things every day that make a difference in my small part of the world.
14) Music and stories via books, movies, TV, plays, etc. still give me life and money spent on those things is always money well spent.
15) My dog is still the best snuggle muffin in town, even with only one eye.
16) I love fashion from the fifties (thanks to The Crown for this new revelation).


HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Pamela Zagarenski

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Excerpt from SEALED WITH A SECRET

Don't forget, SEALED WITH A SECRET is out in paperback this Tuesday!

Chapter 9

"I love England in the spring, with its pink camellias and yellow daffodils. And as I looked around while we strolled back toward the Tube station, I remembered one spring a number of years back when our family went to Green Park for a picnic on a pretty, sunny day. Green Park is one of the most famous parks for daffodils, and we managed to go on a day when everything was in full bloom. It was gorgeous. Alice had said, 'Let's pretend we're fairies and we live here surrounded by daffodils.'
     'What do fairies eat?' I asked.
     'I think they must eat anything that's sweet,' Alice replied. 'Maybe they make little tiny cakes made out of dandelions and daisies.'
     'Oooh, I want a dandelion cake!' I exclaimed. 'With lemon frosting.'
     And so, after we ate the lunch Mum had packed in a picnic basket, we made pretend dandelion cakes and played silly fairy games. Except at the time, they weren't silly at all, they were wonderful.
     Sometimes I wonder if Alice ever remembers those times when we played and laughed and enjoyed each other's company. Maybe I should leave one of the family photo albums on her pillow, so she might flip through and be reminded that she didn't always find me as wonderful as a nest of wasps."



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday if you're celebrating tomorrow.

A few things I'm thankful for:
my health
my family and friends
books
book stores
libraries
story tellers
artists
people who love art
people who love books
a ten-year career that has allowed me to publish over twenty books
pie



Enjoy your day!
Lisa