Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Holidays!!

Well, I'm off to visit family for the holidays, so it's going to be quiet around here. The lights are going off and I'm turning down the heat. I'll leave a reading light on in case anyone cares to browse, though.

I still have lots of great stuff to share from the last Prairie Writer's Day, like Tamra Tuller's way of dealing with writer's block, and some fabulous nuggets from Jennifer Matteson and Edward Necarsulmer IV on agenting in today's market. I'll post those when I get back, so be sure to stop by.

Oh, and don't forget about the awesome books I'm giving away. If you want 'em, ya gotta enter!  I'll have more books to give away in January, too, of course. :)

Until then, have a great holiday, everyone, and see you next year!!

Winner of The Princess of Las Pulgas!

The fabulous C.Lee McKenzie so humbly shared her experiences of navigating her road to publication, and then took it another step further and offered us an ARC of her newest book, The Princess of Las Pulgas.

Well, the winner of that ARC is...

Izzy G.!!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!  I've sent your info along to Lee, who will get that book out to you as soon as she can. I hope you'll stop by after you've read it and share your thoughts!

Huge thanks goes out to Lee, again, for sharing so much with us. You give us all hope.  :)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Food, Girls, & Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff

Life used to be so simple for Andrew Zansky–hang with the Model UN guys, avoid gym class, and eat and eat and eat. He’s used to not fitting in: into his family, his sports-crazed school, or his size 48 pants.
But not anymore. Andrew just met April, the new girl at school and the instant love of his life! He wants to find a way to win her over, but how? When O. Douglas, the heartthrob quarterback and high-school legend, saves him from getting beaten up by the school bully, Andrew sees his chance to get in with the football squad.
Is it possible to reinvent yourself in the middle of high school? Andrew is willing to try. But he’s going to have to make some changes. Fast.
Can a funny fat kid be friends with a football superstar? Can he win over the Girl of his Dreams? Can he find a way to get his mom and dad back together?
How far should you go to be the person you really want to be?
Andrew is about to find out.

It’s not easy to make me laugh. I’m not sure why, really. It’s not that I don’t find things funny. I do. But something has to be truly hysterical for me to laugh out loud—and even that doesn’t last longer than a few seconds. *shrug* I have no clue why.

Anyway, this book made me laugh out loud. Many times. And there were a few scenes that had me positively howling with laughter, clutching the ache in my side and tears streaming down my face. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard for so long!! I’ve certainly NEVER laughed like that for a book before. So, if you like funny, this book is definitely for you.

But it doesn’t stop there. Huh, that just made me feel like an infomercial—“But wait! There’s more!” Except there really is more with this book. It’s got a solid plot, quick pacing, and fabulous characters. Andrew is awesome, and the way he reinvents himself is both believable and unpredictable, which is the best kind of combination.

Plus, Zadoff does an amazing job illustrating the mental anguish that teens have with being overweight, but he does it through humor. This allows him to show more of what it's really like to be an overweight teen than he could probably get away with in a more dramatic story. Genius. There is so much in this story, and Zadoff pulls it off well.

I’m buying a copy of this book to add to my ‘favorites’ shelf. Go get yourself one. You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Promoting Your Books

Last week, Marilyn Brigham from Marshall Cavendish showed us how to craft powerful sentences. Today, I want to share what Michelle Bayuk from Albert Whitman & Co had to say about authors and promoting their books.

The very first thing she did was define the author’s role in marketing:
-Authors are the book’s creator.
-You are a member of the marketing team.
-You are NOT a member of the sales team.
-You are the leading experts on your books.
-You are the leading experts on yourselves.
-You can be experts on the kinds of books you write.

What does that mean? It means that authors are not expected to sell books. You can go into a bookstore and alert the store manager about the book they have coming out, possibly leave a postcard or something similar behind, but you are NOT the one who convinces the store to buy X number of copies. Also, once a store has copies of their books in stock, you are welcome to drop by and sign stock (just alert someone before whipping out that pen). You can also contact your publicist to find out what you can do to promote your book, and you can call as much as six months before your books comes out. Just don’t overstay your welcome.

Other things authors can do is reach out to the readers in various ways. Play around with social networking, but stick to the mediums that you’re comfortable with. Once you find something that works for you, focus on sharing aspects of you. Who are you in your day job? Your community? Your personality? Readers want to know these things. Know your audience (which also means you need to know who your book targets), and that will make it easier to connect with them.

Things that authors can do on their own are wide and varied. You can schedule school visits, and Michelle suggested that you insist the kids have read the book ahead of time. You can also go to conferences to make connections there, and have an elevator pitch ready so you can talk about your book. You can also get the word out to your own circle of family and friends. Get to know your local librarian and booksellers and offer to do things for them instead of just asking them to promote your work.

For the introverts (like me)! If you’re uncomfortable talking to people you don’t know, don’t stand off to the side. Stand in the middle of the room, and eventually someone will talk to you. Then, when conversation comes around to you, you can tell that person about your book and you have one more potential reader.

You can spend your own money on promotional items, but have them professionally done. And, assess whether the money spent will be worth it. Business cards, bookmarks, and postcards have lots of uses and are usually worth the investment. Librarians are beginning to use book trailers, but don’t do that one yourself unless you can create one of professional quality. You can also do giveaways at schools.

Launch parties have changed over the years, and are often lonely affairs if you go it alone. However, if you partner with several debut authors, then you can all bring in your family and friends and get a much bigger turnout, as well as possible new readers.

The one thing that authors are expected to do is this: finish your next book! However, unless you want to start over as a debut author again, don’t change your name. So, be sure you like the name you’re publishing under for that first book.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

December Book Giveaway!

And here's some more books to give away!!  This month, I've got two ARCs:

Sapphique by Catherine Fischer
Finn has escaped from the terrible living Prison of Incarceron, but its memory torments him, because his brother Keiro is still inside. Outside, Claudia insists he must be king, but Finn doubts even his own identity. Is he the lost prince Giles? Or are his memories no more than another construct of his imprisonment? And can you be free if your friends are still captive? Can you be free if your world is frozen in time? Can you be free if you don't even know who you are? Inside Incarceron, has the crazy sorcerer Rix really found the Glove of Sapphique, the only man the Prison ever loved. Sapphique, whose image fires Incarceron with the desire to escape its own nature. If Keiro steals the glove, will he bring destruction to the world? Inside. Outside. All seeking freedom. Like Sapphique.

Matched by Ally Condie
In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

To enter, fill out the form below.  Normally, I would announce the winners on the last day of December, but, this year, that day falls on Christmas.  Sooo, I'll be announcing the winners the following Saturday, Jan 1st.  I'll also announce what books I'm giving away in January, too.  So be sure to stop by!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

100 Books in 2010!!

This week, I reached my goal of reading 100 books this year!  There were some amazing books in my pile, and some that weren't my cup of tea.  But I can honestly say that I learned something from each and every one of them.

Here are some of my favorites so far:
Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Epitaph Road by David Patneaude
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Immortal Beloved #1: Everlasting Life by Cate Tiernan
Candor by Pam Bachorz
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
In the Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Blue Plate Special by Michelle Kwasney
If I Stay by Gayle Forman

What about you? How is your reading going? What are your favorite books this year so far?