Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On books and reading

My 12 YO got in my car yesterday with THE LIGHTENING THIEF clutched tightly to his chest. He went on to explain that he only had 30 more pages and he just couldn't wait to read them and see what happened. He came home and read those last pages before doing anything else. I ♥ Rick Riordan, because I don't think my reluctant reader has EVER been that excited to read a book.

Monday is his night to help me make dinner, so as we worked in the kitchen, he said, "I want to tell you about it Mom, but I don't want to spoil it for you." (I haven't read it yet, and we've talked about seeing the movie).

I said, "That's okay, you can tell me." Because I KNOW what it's like to read a book and love it so much, you just HAVE to talk to someone about it.

So he told me about the ending that totally surprised him and why it was a surprise and I asked questions as best I could, not really knowing what any of it was. :)

One thing I really like about the middle school he goes to is that they have literacy workshop every other day. Literacy workshop is a 45 minute time period where most days, the kids get to choose a book and just read silently. This is their opportunity to read for pleasure.

And I let my kids choose whatever books they want to read.

My kids know I am an avid reader, and they can talk about what they read with me anytime. They can ask questions, they can express concern, or they can just tell me about it, like G did last night.

I'm not afraid of books when it comes to my kids. But the fact that we have a week called Banned Books Week tells me there are a lot of parents out there who are afraid of books.

So to those who have tried to ban a book from a classroom, a school, or a library, I'd like to say this:

Don't take away an opportunity for my kids to safely explore a subject they may be curious about.

Don't take away an opportunity for my kids to discuss with me something they read about, which is a very safe way to talk about a subject.

And don't take away an opportunity for them to become better educated about a subject you may be afraid of, because I believe through books, we walk in shoes we might not otherwise walk in. Through books, we learn to understand. And through understanding, we become better people.

Don't take away an opportunity for my kids to become better people.

And the first stop...

of the CHASING BROOKLYN Advance Review Copy, on the Chase Across the USA will be:

The Compulsive Reader's blog!

I will drop you a note and get your address, but in the meantime, I must guess what state you live in. If I guess correctly, the $10.00 bookstore gift card that EVERY winner gets is then doubled to $20.00.

Now some of you may be wondering, since I send bookmarks and postcards out to folks all of the time, what happens if I know where the blogger lives? If I know and remember, I will guess CORRECTLY. But if I can't remember (and unfortunately, I have a horrible memory) I'm not going to go looking for the information, I will just guess.

So, today I'm going to guess the ARC of CHASING BROOKLYN will be going to:


Am I right?

Let me know in the comments with a yes or no!

Thanks to all who played this time around, and be sure to check back as I will be pointing people to the stops as the ARC travels coast to coast. I won't be having any more drawings to be a part of the tour here on my blog, but OTHERS WILL BE, and once they post, you can post on the appropriate blog to have another chance at winning then! There will be plenty of chances to try again, and I hope you will!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Chase Around the USA Contest

NOTE: FIRST LEG OF THE CHASE HAS ENDED - a winner has been drawn! But check back for more stops where you'll have other chances to enter.


Rules to be posted throughout the chase:

CHASING BROOKLYN by Lisa Schroeder will be released January 5, 2010. Due to publishers cutting back, ARCs are not as plentiful these days. BUT, Lisa has one ARC that she's sending out on a multi-state tour, and she will be trying to chase it down as it goes from reader to reader.

If you would like to read CHASING BROOKLYN, add your name to the comments below. One name will be randomly drawn 24 hours from the date and time of this blog post, and the winner will be contacted via e-mail (please leave your e-mail address in your comment). Not only will the winner get to read CHASING BROOKLYN before it hits the shelves, but each winner will receive a $10.00 gift card from the bookstore of his/her choice from Lisa. If Lisa guesses what state the winner lives in before the state is revealed to her, that amount doubles to $20.00!

Participants in the Chase Around the USA have 5 responsibilities. If you don’t think you can meet these responsibilities, please, PLEASE do NOT volunteer to be a part of the chase.

1) READ - CHASING BROOKLYN within 7 days of receiving it. If you can read it sooner, even better!

2) Take a photo of ONE word - about the book, to describe the book, something in the book that’s important, etc. How do you show us your word? Be creative! Write on paper, on a t-shirt, in the sand, on the wall, in cereal – the possibilities are endless! Please TRY TO INCLUDE THE ARC IN THE PHOTO SOMEHOW. The only requirement is that it cannot be something negative. Of course some people may not like the book. But Lisa plans to use these pictures in a special way when the chase is over, so positive is best. If you don’t like the book, simply pick a word that shares the tone of the book, describes a character, etc. (By participating in this contest, you agree to e-mail the photo to Lisa for her to use as she chooses.)

3) Post the ONE WORD photo on your blog - along with a picture of the CHASING BROOKLYN cover and these rules, and hold another contest just like this one, drawing a name within 24 hours of the blog post. Do what you can (tweet, facebook, etc) to point people to your blog about the contest.

4) Post a comment on Lisa Schroeder's blog - that you've held the contest and drawn the next blogger's name (without revealing the name) to receive the ARC. Lisa will then try to CHASE the ARC down by posting a guess on her blog of what state the ARC will go to next. Once Lisa's blog post goes up with the guess, the current holder of the ARC will post the new winner's name and the state he/she lives in on his/her blog. If Lisa guesses the correct state, the next recipient of the ARC receives a $20.00 gift card to the bookstore of his/her choice!!

5) Mail the ARC - to the winner IMMEDIATELY after receiving the winner's address, so the book can get into as many hands as possible. Lisa is hoping for at least 7-8 stops on the chase, but that will only happen if people get the book read and sent off quickly. Use the flat shipping rate envelopes at the post office for a low price and speedy delivery! Whoever has the book on the release date of 1/5 will mail the book back to Lisa. Please feel free to write notes in the ARC for Lisa to read when the book is returned to her.

At the end of chase across the USA, Lisa will draw three names from the bloggers who participated in the chase to receive FREE signed copies of one of her books - I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, FAR FROM YOU or CHASING BROOKLYN.

Finally, the blogger who has the most creative one word photo (judged by three teens in Lisa's neighborhood) gets a signed copy of FLASH BURNOUT by L.K. Madigan, a signed copy of LIPS TOUCH by Laini Taylor, and a copy of CRASH INTO ME by Albert Borris.

Ready? Set? Go! Let the chase begin!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Five things on a Friday

1. I didn't intend to watch Grey's Anatomy last night. It was on for 2 hours and 11:00 is just too late for this working girl. But before I had a chance to turn the TV off, I caught the first minute, and that's all it took. I was hooked. I watched the first hour and I cried through the whole thing. It actually felt good, after the week I've had. I'll watch the second hour sometime this weekend along with Project Runway and Vampire Diaries. I'm so thankful for digital recorders!

2. One of my co-workers has a good friend who was totally wooed by someone on match.com. Things moved quckly, and in just a month, she thought this was THE one (even though they hadn't met, just talked on the phone and IM'd each other). He was so smooth, so good at making her think his feelings were real. Just as she was ready to send him a laptop and a phone to Gauna to replace the ones he "lost" while traveling, friends do some internet searches and discover there are romance scammers, and his story is one other women have been sucked into again and again. ACK! Did you know there was such a thing as romance scammers?

I read one of his e-mails - "Some think love is unbelievable. Some think love is a dream. I think love is YOU."

The poor girl. She is totally heartbroken and incredibly embarrassed. Now the hard part is going to be getting rid of him. He won't stop calling her!

3. My publicist scheduled a book signing to celebrate the release of CHASING BROOKLYN. It's getting closer - eeee! I've realized that the time has come to start a calendar with my author events. I've never been busy enough to need one, but I have enough things coming up, I'm starting to worry I'll forget. I'll probably use the calendar in gmail - looks like it will meet my needs.

4. Speaking of events, Dale Bayse, author of HECK! WHERE THE BAD KIDS GO is coming to my son's middle school. The interesting thing? He's donating his time. Do you think in these times, more authors are doing the visit for free, as long as the school sells the book? I'm going to try and go - I want to see his presentation.

5. Today on the Author2Author blog, I tackle the question I get asked a lot -
how do you find the time?

Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Novel 1 and Novel 2 - Things Learned

Back in January 2008, when I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME was released, I was excited. Sure, scared too, but mostly excited. And so many people here in this wonderful writing community were excited for me.

YA was on the verge of exploding - in that coming year and the year after, many of YOU would have your first YA sale! The class of 2k7 was the first group to band together and see what the power of numbers could do. The class of 2k8 followed, and YA author Liz Gallagher and I were the first releases of that second class.

Excitement is a good thing when a book is released. Excitement is contagious. And excitement, not just mine, but yours, carried me far. In just short three months, over xxx copies of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME were sold. (I had a number here, then wondered if that's tacky? I'm clueless sometimes as to what is okay to say and what isn't. Please forgive me!)

Fast forward a year, to December, 2008. Out in the world, a lot is happening. The stock market has plummeted. People have lost jobs. The world's financial market is on the verge of collapse. It feels as if at any moment, the rug is going to be pulled out from under us and it's going to be one big free-fall.

And there I was, with a second novel, FAR FROM YOU, to be released amongst all of that.

I was afraid.

Afraid of what was happening out there.
Afraid my second book wouldn't be liked as much as my first.
Afraid to promote because who wants to ask people to buy a book when the world is falling apart?

It will come as no surprise that I now can say quite confidently one cannot effectively sell a book (and yes, that IS our job once the book is released) from a place of fear. Especially when there is another author around every corner who is happy, excited, supported by others, and is anything BUT afraid.

I have learned a lot over the past two years. Some of it because of what I have experienced personally and some of it from watching all of you. I believe the keys to successful promotion are as follows:

1) Write the best book you can write. It really is THE most important thing.
2) Be excited. Be proud. And don't be afraid to let that excitement and pride come through.
3) Make a plan to promote your book and work that plan hard
4) Figure out what you are best at as far as promotion and DO THAT. And do NOT kick yourself because you can't do this or that as well as Miss Marketing Guru over there. It's okay.
5) Find ways - ideas, services, articles, presentations, etc. - that reach out and help other people. Author Kate Messner and Shelli Johannes-Wells have really taught me about this one. Round-about exposure is often the best kind.
6) Band together with other authors as much as possible. There really IS power in the numbers.
7) Think outside the box. Look for new, creative ways to bring exposure to your book(s).
8) Support other authors as much as possible. Be an advocate for YA literature whenever you can.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Linky Dink Tuesday

Do you love the challenge of taking a good picture? Do you have a teen who is interested in photography? Are you a teacher or librarian who can reach a lot of kids? Then I must let you know about this AMAZING photo contest L.K. Madigan is doing to celebrate the release of her fantastic debut novel FLASH BURNOUT. Focus. Shoot. Enter!


Simon and Schuster's Blogfest 2009 is up and going. I love the layout this year and how easy it is to find your favorite author! It's going on through October 4th. On Friday I'll be answering the question - Have you ever just wanted to give up?


I love The Intern's blog. Check out this blog post about scientific blog proof that publishing a book won't make you happier. Just goes to show, there is no better time than NOW to be happy.


Agent Kristin Nelson talks about earning out. All authors want to, and yet, many won't.


Finally, check out this great post by author Jennifer Brown (debut novel is THE HATE LIST, which I'm dying to read) in which she begs - Don't let the light go out! I'm going to go reread it right now, in fact. Life is hard sometimes, and a bit hard at the moment, but I really don't want my light to go out.

Wishing you all a happy, light-filled day!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Searching for the color

I really

want to make this book I'm working on good. Great. Fabulous.

I think it's important to tell a good story. And this book is definitely more plot driven than any of my other books. There is mystery, action, intrigue, romance, etc.

But it's not enough to just tell a good story. Especially in today's competitive market. The books that people talk about, the books that people pass around to their friends, are the books that touch a person's soul, somehow, someway. It doesn't have to be a big thing. It can be a pretty little thing, actually. But there's something there that makes the heart, the soul, the reader, take in a breath and FEEL the story in a special way.

We don't find that special something in the first draft. Not even the second draft. We find it by going deep into the story, trying to make it better, looking for the places we can expand and bring out the colors, so to speak.

Yes, that's what it's like - It's like a canvas covered in dirt, and we just have to keep brushing away until we find the beautiful painting that lies underneath.

It's hard.
But in the end, so worth it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

S&S Blogfest 2009

From the publisher - A two-week event where 40 of Simon and Schuster's top teen authors and their fan bases come together to share ideas on one single blog.

You will find the blogfest here - http://SimonandSchuster.com/blogfest

So, who are these 40 authors, you ask?

Authors like Holly Black, Ellen Hopkins, Lisa McMann, Elizabeth Scott, Scott Westerfeld, Jenny Han, and, and, and...

you're not going to believe it!



Little old me!

So get ready. I'll be answering some questions you've been dying to know, I'm sure.

Every once in awhile, it feels good to be reminded that I am an author. And I'm really honored to be included in the company of such great ones.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A little revision tip

Recently I wrote about how going through first pass pages causes me to catch things I hadn't previously caught because there is something about reading the manuscript more like a book that makes my brain sit up and take notice.

Author Melissa Wyatt commented that she always prints out her manuscript in a style similar to first pass pages for this very reason. What a great idea!! Why didn't I think of this before??

So, I thought I'd try this. In case you'd like to as well, here is what I did:

In Word, go to Format, then Columns, and select TWO.

Then go to File, then Page Setup, and select LANDSCAPE.

I also chose to single space it, to save on paper (It went from 171 pages to like 97 or something). And then I have hard page breaks after every chapter ends.

Here's how it looks, in case you're interested:

So this is my task this week - to go through the manuscript and read it like a book, and see what things pop out at me. Fun, fun!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Friday Five

1. A beautiful day here today. After school and work, we'll have dinner and then go to the high school football game. I love high school football! The senior across the street made a touchdown last week. It's so fun to have someone to cheer for!!

2. Looking through my 10th graders syllabuses (syllabi?) I am a little overwhelmed just looking at it all. Quarter 1 in Lit and Comp, for example, will be elements of Political Protest Literature. They'll also be learning Greek roots. I think school has changed a lot in the past 25 years.

3. I woke up at 4 am and instantly my mind went to my kids and my worries for them and my struggles to be the kind of parent I know I should be but fall short most of the time. I have to remind myself constantly - one day at a time, one day at a time. Do the best you can, one day at a time. That's all anyone can do, right?

4. I am struggling with a scene in my WIP. I want it to really say something and be a scene that people remember. The hard part, I think, is sometimes it's the little things that make people remember a scene. It's the the underlying emotion or the little details that come like magic from somewhere unexpected. I think I may be trying too hard. I may need to step back and try again, see if the magic will come in some other way. Writing is definitely an art, not a science, yes?

5. Want to smile? Want to see a real, live miracle? Go here. (L, hope you don't mind. :) )

On a day like today, I think it's important to look around and remember, there is so much good. If we focus on the bad, let the bad take over our lives, the bad guys win. So today, look for the good. Do something good for someone else if you can.

Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An author's thoughts on the value of Twitter

I know there are still a lot of people who don't get it. And many who don't want to go there because it seems like it could be a giant time suck.

I've been tweeting for a few months now, and thought I'd share my thoughts, as well as a very smart editor's thoughts, about how this social network is good for an author.

First of all, I should say that because I work a day job, I can't be on twitter and probably am not on twitter as much as most authors.

But the the great thing about twitter is you can pop on for a few minutes, reply to a few tweets, post something, and pop off. Later, I can go back and check if I had any replies to my tweet, and respond if I want to.

So why twitter?

I really think this is social networking at its best, if you use it correctly.

You can reach a whole bunch of people in a matter of seconds - to share good news, to point people to a blog post, to ask a question... The list is endless. And, if people see that you have something great going on, they will retweet your tweet (with a RT at the beginning, followed by what you tweeted), which means you have reached even MORE people.

Do some people use it like a giant chat room? Yes. Do you have to use it that way? No, not if you don't want to. Sometimes I get into a conversation with someone, and that's fun though. And there are scheduled chats that go on, like the weekly #kidlitchat that happens every Tuesday evening, I believe.

Author and Twitter Guru Mitali Perkins does this great thing called #bookbday. It's a tweet on a book's release that gives the title, the genre, the publisher, the author, and a link to somewhere that gives you info about the book and shows the cover.

People retweet these book birthday party posts like crazy, and you just never know who might click on the link and hear about your book for the first time.

I want to sum up this post with some words from the very wise editor Molly O'Neill, who answered some marketing questions over at Shelli's fabulous blog - Market My Words. If you haven't read the interview yet, it's AWESOME, and you should read it in its entirety.

I'm going to paraphrase here, because you should go and read the interview, but basically she said, by participating in social networking sites, WE ARE REMINDING PEOPLE WE EXIST. We are reinforcing the connection we established at some point, and this is how we build relationships.

Yes, writing a good book is the most important thing for an author. But it is so competitive out there, and I think whatever we can do to build relationships with librarians, booksellers, readers, other authors, etc. is very important. Twitter gives us an opportunity to connect with people, even if only for a few minutes a day.

I'm sure I've missed some other valuable reasons. Anything you'd add, twitter users???

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My kids make me laugh

First day of school today!

Last night, the youngest boy's status update on Facebook was:

"sigh... i just took my last shower of the summer... i made it as relaxing as possible..."


Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

This morning, I stood at the stove, flipping pancakes for the youngest boy, trying not to notice all the dirt on my kitchen floor, when my mind drifted back to some of the blog posts I had just read.

Posts about Kate Messner's launch party and book signing for THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z, and the people who traveled there to see her, plus the amazing bookstores, The Flying Pig and Bookstore Plus, who hosted Kate.

Posts about Kristy Dempey's book signing for ME WITH YOU and the people who traveled there to see her, plus the incredible bookstore, Hooray For Books, who hosted Kristy.

Posts about the Decatur Book Festival, the many authors who participated, and the people who traveled there to see them, plus the awesome bookstore, The Little Shop of Stories, that provided the books.

As I thought about these posts, the people in them, and the amazing books the reason for them, I got teary! And then I realized I had burnt the pancakes. It's okay. I always make extra batter.

I love our community. It's the people who have such passion for what we do that make this job of ours so much fun.

This Labor Day, when we are supposed to take pause and rest from our work, I am grateful for the day off from my day job so I can labor at the one I really love.

Thanks for being such a big part of this amazing, frustrating, heart-warming and at times, heart-breaking, writerly job!

Friday, September 4, 2009

I am confident, hear me roar (or perhaps meow)

I am not a very confident writer. I know doubt much better than I know confidence.

I don't want to be like this, I promise you. And some of you are probably going to think - this should not be happening to you, Lisa, and you have the power to change it. But I don't know - is the ability to believe in yourself a switch you can turn on and off, just like that? I don't think it is, but maybe some of you think differently. If so, please share, and tell me how do it!

Quite a few authors I admire seem to be fairly confident in their abilities, so I know it's possible to be a writer AND to be confident.

But here's what I've been really thinking about as it relates to this confidence issue:

If I'm not confident in my abilities as a writer, are readers going to want to read my books?

Let's say I have a serious health condition, and I need to have surgery to try and correct said serious health condition. If I go to a surgeon and he doesn't appear confident in his abilities to do that surgery, guess what? I'm going to another doctor!!!

The doubt probably makes me work extra hard, and I'm hoping with time, I can replace the doubt with confidence. The old saying – practice makes perfect comes to mind.

And in thinking about those doubts, often times, it's me comparing my writing to other books out there. I've talked about this before, and of course I know I shouldn't be doing this. In fact, Cheryl Renee Herbsman had a great post about this yesterday, and I love her phrase to remind herself to be happy with who she is - Don't be the clown.

When people pick up a Lisa Schroeder book, they aren't expecting a book by anyone else. My name is on the front, right? So I need to stop stressing that it's not as good as this book or that book or whatever.

Anyway, in thinking about all of this, I've realized it's probably best to keep the doubts to myself. I mean, I can't imagine that doctors don't have doubts. Or teachers. Or airplane pilots. They all must have doubts some days. But they've learned it doesn't do any good to share those doubts with the world. And in fact, it can even hurt their career to do so. And perhaps those authors I admire so much DO have doubts, they have just learned their readers really don't want to hear about them.

Therefore, let me go on record as saying:

You are really going to want to read my YA novel, CHASING BROOKLYN, coming out in four short months. It’s a ghost story told from two points of view, Nico and Brooklyn. A book told in multiple points of view is not easy to write. But guess what? I think I did a damn good job.

(how'd I do?)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm feeling thankful for:

1) a really nice summer. Even though I feel like I worked through most of it, I still managed to do a lot - Disney World, a 4th of July stay at the beach, Chicago and LA. Plus the little things I love about summer, like fresh peaches and strawberries, blackberry pie, walking the dog many a warm night as the sun sets, etc.

2) a rainy forecast for the 3-day weekend, which will allow me to work on the WIP, and hopefully find that new ending I'm still looking for.

3) some good news my Aladdin editor sent me last week about IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES.

4) the people who buy my books and tell their friends about them.

5) the anticipation of new book babies going out into the world next year.

6) an amazing TBR pile that makes me thankful to be a part of the awesome kidlit world.

7) You. Yes YOU!

Happy Thursday!