Wednesday, April 30, 2014

More Really Awesome Book Trailers by Tracy Holczer

Because my brain is somewhere between sizzling and fried due to launch day preparations (The Secret Hum of a Daisy comes out TOMORROW), I am going to pass along a few of my favorite trailers and call it a day. Without further ado:

ICE DOGS

I love this trailer because, how can you not love this trailer? It's got everything - music that builds tension, live action, dogs, and just enough about the story so you must go to the nearest bookstore/library and pick it up. It also hits the sweet spot of a minute or so.

HARBINGER


I'm sneaking this YA in here just because it's one of the best trailers I've ever seen. It's a little longer than a minute, but I think she gets away with it because it has All the Things. Actual actors, beautiful cinematography, and a great hook. I believe Sara had this done by friends who are industry professionals. So they shot scenes and edited and the whole thing was done like a film. Awesome!

THE WIG IN THE WINDOW (weirdly, I can't link the video. Click here to see it on YouTube).

I love this trailer. Great voices, eye-catching graphics and again, a hook that grabs in just under a minute. However, if you don't have the funds for a trailer, or the time or inclination, I have always loved what Kristen Kittscher did here (which could be used in lieu of a trailer. Creativity people!):


 
 
And last, but not least, here is a multi-book trailer of sorts that will have you thinking of Elmer Fudd, or maybe that's just me. This was put together by the Class of 2k14.
 

So there's my take on book trailers.
 
Did I mention I have a book coming out TOMORROW? A Blog Tour shall commence on May 6th, starting with Mindy McGinnis at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire and will carry on through May 14th ending here at Smack Dab. I'm giving away lots of goodies including a hardcover of The Secret Hum of a Daisy, a couple of other new debuts, and a $25 Amazon gift card. Come on by and enter to win!
 
I leave you with this:
 
 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Monthly Theme: Cranky No More (About Book Trailers, At Least) by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Since I was initially cranky about the idea of book trailers, I was lucky to be able to work on mine with my best friend whose infinite gifts include an incredible ability to put up with my crankiness, and match it with his own.



I didn't do anything narrative about the book, more of a "this is kind of what I was thinking about and what I drew from to write this story" sort of thing. And I'm glad I did, because just recently I found this awesome reader-created trailer, which is the best!



I love the way that new digital tools can be used to do another thoughtful sort of "book report" or type of interpretive work that engages creativity and critical thinking skills. And how can I be cranky about something like this wonderful trailer created for OPEN MIC, an anthology edited by the wonderful Mitali Perkins that included my memoir, "Confessions of a Black Geek."  Go check it out NOW. Seriously. You can come back after. Just bring cake.

And while you're at it, check out all of the reader-created book trailers created by participants in a program co-sponsored by the Madison Public Library. This is goodness.

I'm not cranky about trailers anymore!

Friday, April 25, 2014

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier



The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!

***
AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier

The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!

***


Day Four - Giveaways!
Today is our last entry on things to do BEFORE your book comes out. I thought I’d talk about giveaways and contests. Keep in mind, that these thoughts are based on my personal experience with Peter Nimble and might not apply to all situations ...

ARCS: Hopefully, your publisher will have printed a whole bunch of “advance reader copies” (ARCs) to help build buzz around your impending release. In the month leading up to the release of Peter Nimble, I had regular signed ARC giveaways in which entrants had to follow me on Twitter and then tweet a link about the contest—this was a great way to build a Twitter following (plus it gave me something to actually Tweet about!). If you’re interested in running a Goodreads ARC giveaway, you might want to check out author Emlyn Chand’s excellent tips. All told, this is the easiest, most cost-effective way to build awareness about your book.






T-SHIRTS: As I got closer to the big release, I decided to print Peter Nimble T-Shirts. T-Shirts are a great way to give prizes to people who have already read your book (and likely won’t want/need another copy). I used the T-shirts to encourage those who had already read the book to post reviews—good or bad—on Amazon and Goodreads. This was effective, and it assured that I had a solid base of reviews when the book officially launched. However, it was also a hassle to create and ship shirts. I chose to use high-quality shirts designed and printed by a local guy—the result was cool, but also quite expensive. Were I to do this again, I might consider a less artisanal approach.






CREATIVE ALTERNATIVES: Take advantage of your other skills. I sometimes hold little pop-contests and give the winner a portrait. Sometimes authors are even willing to put someone inside one of their books or auction themselves for charity. The best example of creative giveaways might be AFTER THE BOOK DEAL host Shannon Messenger, who paints pictures on the covers of her books









A BIG CONTEST:  In the final week leading up to release, I decided to follow in the shoes of the brilliant Nathan Bransford and hold a big contest. Twitter followers who confessed to the awesomest thing they’d ever stolen (with the hashtag #GreatestThiefWhoEverLived) were entered into a contest to win a free Kindle loaded with a copy of Peter Nimble. All told, I added about 100 new followers through the contest, which works out to about $1 per follower ... which is crazy expensive. I am not against doing a big giveaway again, but next time, I might do a few things differently: 

1)  Set up an automated archive for all Tweets containing my #greatestthiefwhoeverlived hash tag.  As it was, I had to do a lot of tricky and time-consuming searching to compile a list of entries after the contest was over (and even one tragic mix-up.) A little work ahead of time would have saved big headache later. 

2)  Tweet the heck out of my contest. Every time I tweeted the contest announcement, I got at least 5 new entries. I should have been tweeting it 3-4 times a day EVERY DAY leading up to the deadline. (Really, the smart thing to do would be to set up a whole bunch of announcements ahead of time on Hootsuite or FutureTweets.)

3) I should have also made a practice of re-tweeting or replying to EVERY hash tag entry ... not only does that make entrants feel special, but it's a way of constantly re-tweeting the hash tag without becoming the guy who just RTs his own announcement over and over again. 

4) Um ... maybe a shorter hashtag? (What can I say? It was 2011, hashtags were still exciting and new!)  

AND FOR NIGHT GARDENER? Well, this blog tour is actually a sort of giveaway. At the end of the month, to celebrate the release of The Night Gardener (May 20!), I’ll be bundling all these posts into an e-book ... available to anyone who posts a review of The Night Gardener (details to come).

That’s it for Week one of AFTER THE BOOK DEAL! Come back on Monday, where I’ll be talking about the five things you should do before your first book signing. See you then! Please-oh-please spread the word
***
JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores this May. You can visit him online at www.TheScop.com where he blogs about children's books old and new.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Monthly Theme: My Favorite Book Trailers!

by

Stephanie J. Blake

I have four favorite book trailers (and books) to share with you.

1. ON THE ROAD TO MR. MINEO'S by Barbara O'Connor. (The dog's joy--and tongue just kills me!)




2. SAVING BABY DOE by Danette Vigilante (Looks like a movie, already!)



3.  THE LIONS OF LITTLE ROCK by Kristin Levine (Love the historical photos.)



4. IDA B. by Katherine Hannigan (The artwork is amazing!)



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Smack-Dab-in-the-Classroom: Encircled by Books, by Dia Calhoun

As children and adults we are often asked this question, if you were on a desert island (I can dream, can’t I?) and could only have one book, what would it be?

Let's pose a fresher version of this question. If you needed protection, guidance, and comfort—whether for heart, soul, or body—what handful of secular books, would you place around you? 

The books could be fiction or non-fiction. At this stage in my life, the books in my circle would be:

New and Selected Poems, by Mary Oliver
Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Reader, by Joseph Campbell
The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DeCamillo
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

All of these books are currently “face-out” on my bookshelf.  And I own the most beautiful editions I could find.

Wouldn’t this be a fun and thought-provoking question to ask kids? Depending on their ages, after choosing their books, they could sit on the floor with the books in a circle around them. That's one way of knowing if their choices feel right. Older kids could spend a week with these books prominently featured in their rooms.

We draw different strengths from different books. Some of the books in our circle may change over time, some may not. Why not have kids do this twice—at the beginning of the school year and the end, to see how they have changed?

Smack-Dab-in-the-Classroom is posted by Dia Calhoun on the 23rd of each month.

Monday, April 21, 2014

“Middleview” Interview with Debut Author Lisa Ann Scott

Posted by Tamera Wissinger

Today, Lisa Ann Scott is joining Smack Dab In The Middle Blog for a guest “middleview” interview. Lisa’s debut middle grade novel SCHOOL OF CHARM, Katherine Tegen Books, released on 02/18/2014! Congratulations, Lisa!

Here is a bit about Lisa:


Lisa Scott is a former TV news anchor who now enjoys making up stories instead of sticking to the facts. She lives in upstate NY with her hubby and kids, dog, cats, and koi fish. When not writing, she works as a voice actor.  





Here’s a description of SCHOOL OF CHARM:

At the School of Charm, everyone has a wish to whisper. With an enchanting small-town setting, lively storytelling, and a hint of magic, this debut novel is perfect for fans of Ingrid Law, Clare Vanderpool, and Rebecca Stead.

Eleven-year-old Chip has always been her daddy's girl, so when he dies she pins her hopes on winning a beauty pageant to show her family of southern belles that she still belongs. But she'd rather be covered in mud than makeup! Can a rough-and-tumble girl ever become a beauty queen? A universal story about finding your place in the world, School of Charm explores themes of loss, family, and friendship.

Here are the links to Lisa online: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Now it’s time to hear from our guest:

Smack Dab Middleview with SCHOOL OF CHARM author Lisa Ann Scott

1. In a nutshell, what does your main character, Chip, want?
 
Brenda Anderson (Chip) wants to find her place in her family after her father’s gone. She was Daddy’s girl and now that he’s dead, she doesn’t know whose girl she is. Her mama and sisters are all involved in the pageant world. She’s a tomboy who prefers mud to makeup. When they move south to live with the mean pageant queen grandma they’ve never met, Chip asks Daddy for a sign everything’s going to be okay.

2. What is in her way? 

Her two sisters, mama, and grandma are in the way.  None of them believe she’s “pageant material.” So she joins an unusual charm schools that she discovers and secretly trains for the Miss Dogwood pageant to show them she does fit in. But the lessons she learns aren’t what she expects.

3. Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you wrote? How did the story evolve? 

I discovered the story as I wrote. I woke from a dream one morning with the image of an older woman in a forest clearing holding some sort of class for a small group of girls. She had a knowing look on her face, like she was a keeper of secrets.  I walked around with that image in my head for a while until I figured out who she was, what her school was all about, and who the girls were.

4. Was School of Charm always for middle grade readers or not? If so, why did you choose middle grade? If not, what had to change for it to be considered a middle grade novel? 

Yes, this was always intended for middle grade.  I chose MG because I knew the characters were that age, and the theme was appropriate for younger kids.  I love writing for that age group.  It’s such a huge time of transformation for children, and I think books and stories can help guide them through it.

5. What is the best part of writing for middle grade readers? 

Kids this age devour books. I know I did. I love thinking my book might help some child work through a problem or see the world in a different way. I think books read at this age can be so much more than just an entertaining story.

6. Is there any downside?

I think overall, middle grade fiction doesn’t get the spotlight like YA can. So, that helps make it even harder to market your work.  And it’s difficult to reach these young readers. You have to reach out to the gatekeepers (parents, teachers, librarians and booksellers.)

7. Is there one question you wish you could answer about writing, your book, or the author's life, but have never been asked? Here's your chance to Q &A yourself.

Ooh, good question.  No one has said much about the fact that I dedicated the book to my father who died when I was four, and also to my stepfather who my mother married two years later.  As I was writing the book, at one point I asked myself if I was really writing my own story, since my father died too. But I realized losing a parent at age eleven is a lot different from losing one when you’re four, the age I was when my father died from a brain tumor. Chip’s father was her whole life at the time, and she’ll never forget him. I barely remember my father.  So at eleven, you’re losing a huge part of your life. At four, that person will never get to be a big part of your life, so you don’t even know what you’ve lost.  So that loss certainly effects her differently than it did me. But, I did grow up in the seventies and spent a lot of time in the woods, catching turtles, and getting dirty.  No beauty pageant experience for me!

Thank you for joining us on Smack Dab in the Middle Blog, Lisa. Again, congratulations on the release of SCHOOL OF CHARM!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

“Middleview” Interview with Debut Author Jen Swann Downey

Posted by Tamera Wissinger

Today, Jen Swann Downey is joining Smack Dab In The Middle Blog for a guest “middleview” interview. Jen’s debut middle grade novel, THE NINJA LIBRARIANS, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky , released on 04/15/2014! Congratulations, Jen!

THE NINJA LIBRARIANS
author Jen Swann Downey
Here is a bit about Jen:

Jen Swann Downey’s non-fiction pieces have appeared in New York Magazine, the Washington Post, Women’s Day, and other publications. Her debut novel, The Ninja Librarians, will leap onto bookstore shelves in Spring 2014. Jen has never visited a library in which she didn’t want to spend the night. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her husband and three children and feels very lucky they have not yet fired her.


Here’s a description of THE NINJA LIBRARIANS:

Just a little story about your average sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-fighting ninja librarians.

Dorrie Barnes had no idea an overdue library book would change her life. When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase her pet mongoose into the janitor's closet of their local library, they accidentally fall through a passage into Petrarch's Library -the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians who have an important mission: protect those whose words have gotten them into trouble. Anywhere in the world and at any time in history.

Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society. But when a traitor surfaces, she and her friends are the prime suspects. Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?

Here are the links to Jen online: Website, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook

Now it’s time to hear from our guest:

Smack Dab Middleview with THE NINJA LIBRARIANS author Jen Swann Downey
1. In a nutshell, what does your main character, Dorrie want, and what is in her way?

*clears throat ostentatiously* If I may quote from THE NINJA LIBRARIANS, my own and only published work (Don’t worry, I checked and the quote does fit into a nutshell if you dunk it in a vat of Woolite’s evil twin and then toss it in a high heat dryer for a day or two. The quote not the evil twin. Also it helps to use a shell formerly occupied by a coconut) *Sips water. Adjusts microphone so that it squawks in a mildly ear-splitting way*

Dorrie wants to find a way to oppose the villains of the world with her beloved if fake sword. “…though [Dorrie] wanted to wield a sword against evil, modern evil had no intention of making itself available for spearing. Not in the cooperative way it used to once upon a time, at least according to the books she liked to read. Not in the form of a scar-faced villain in a black cloak with a nicely obvious fiendish laugh that she could corner with a piece of dazzling sword-work.

No, modern evil was…complicated, and its spectacularly vile, wicked villains—the ones who really knew how to brew up trouble, the ones who invisibly lurked in the radio’s news stories about war and hunger and poisoned rivers—were masters of disguise.” --

2. Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you wrote? How did the story evolve?

The VERY first inspirational seed for the story came out of a scribbled entry in my journal about an imagined moment between several imaginary characters at the imagined creation of the first ever written alphabet – all of which I realize sounds irritatingly mysterious and oblique – but I have to be cagey because that moment became the imagined pivotal last scene of the last book in the five-book series I hope I’ll have the privilege of completing – the first book of course being, THE NINJA LIBRARIANS.

Soon after that, I knew I wanted the story to physically center on a library with wings that stretched out into various times in history. More slowly into focus came Dorrie, her sword, and her predicament; and finally, the secret book and writer protecting society of warrior lybrarians called the Lybrariad.

3. Was THE NINJA LIBRARIANS always for middle grade readers or not? If so, why did you choose middle grade? If not, what had to change for it to be considered a middle grade novel?

Always and forever and completely and utterly for the any-age enjoyer of middle grade books! Middle grade books have always been my favorites. Well, not every one. Perhaps its more accurate to say: A great many, even most, of my perpetually favorite books are ones with protagonists in the 10-14 year old range, written by authors in such a particular way that you don’t have to be 10-(1)4 to enjoy them. Some of my favorites are Understood Betsy, Mistress Masham’s Repose, A Wrinkle in Time, Which Witch, Maurice and his Educated Rodents, The Penderwicks.

4. What is the best part of writing for middle grade readers?

Hard to say what’s best or worse because I’ve never written any stories for adults. (Or for boulders, or robots for that matter!) I did write one short play for adults. About what happens when an on-the-lam criminal attempts to take the attendees of a PA (Procrastinators Anonymous) meeting hostage. It doesn’t go well for the would-be hostage taker. You wouldn’t believe how long it can take a committed procrastinator to get around to responding to a hostage-taker’s orders. And it’s a miracle the play didn’t go on…and on…and….

But whether its best or worst or just the heart of the matter for me in terms of writing for middle graders. A true middle grade novel must – and I have to thank my father for the metaphor - represent a forward pass. A young person is not standing still. Such a person is in big motion barreling with every blooming disappearing day towards new understandings and experiences, and ultimately towards the adult he or she will become. You have to lead such a receiver, tossing the ball further than the spot the runner has already reached, but in the direction they are most certainly running.

5. Is there one question you wish you could answer about writing, your book, or the author's life, but have never been asked? Here's your chance to Q &A yourself.

Do you ever wish you could thank that one English teacher who taught in the tiny Anchorage Public School, in Anchorage, Kentucky, for maybe one year in 1979 whose idea of teaching writing consisted of one day sitting a gourd on a tabletop and inviting us to describe it, another day dropping the record player arm down on a pop-scratchy Dan MacLean singing “Vincent (Starry Starry Night)”, and inviting us to write whatever came into our heads, and never saying a critical word no matter what you did or didn’t put down, and dealing out a whole bunch of days like that with nary a word said about topic sentences, and three supporting statements?

Why, yes I do.

Thank you for joining us on Smack Dab in the Middle Blog, Jen. Again, congratulations on the release of THE NINJA LIBRARIANS!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Screenplay vs. Novel (by Kristin Levine)

I've never done a book trailer for my novels, however, my first book, The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, actually started life as a screenplay.  Here's an excerpt:



There is something about telling a story in different formats that seems to capture children's imaginations.  When I do school visits, I often have students read this one page aloud, acting out the different parts.  It's always fun and silly and gets us thinking about how stories change when we tell them different ways.

Another question I often get is, are you going to turn your books into a movie?  My answer is always, Yes, I'd love to!  Do you know anyone in Hollywood?  And then we start talking about how when The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had  was a screenplay, I kept hearing the same criticisms over and over again.  It's a great story, but we don't want to do a movie with kids as the main characters.  Kid actors are too hard to work with.  Or You've got great characters, but it's a period piece.  Unless you're Steven Spielberg or Oprah, period pieces don't make money.

Looking back, the producers that told me these things were on to something.  I think The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had really was better suited to be a book than a movie, and it was when I finally changed that story into a novel that my writing career finally got started.  So I'm grateful to those criticisms for making me consider something I hadn't before.

But the truth is, I'd still love to see one of my books as a movie!  One of these days.  I've got my fingers crossed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Luddite’s (Last-Ever?) Lament by Claudia Mills (April theme)


          Our Smack Dab theme this month is book trailers. I have never made a book trailer for any of my books. I almost wept the other day when I heard that one librarian told an author friend of mine that the kids at her school no longer want to listen to book talks before they read a book; for them, it’s a book trailer or nothing. “No, no, no, no, no,” I wailed.

            I still write my books the old-fashioned way: long-hand, with paper and pen, leaning on my extremely worn clipboard that lost its clip some decades ago. I still do my school visits the old-fashioned way: no PowerPoint, no slides, not even a microphone unless the gym is very big. What do I do instead? I stand there and talk to the kids; I tell them stories; I do my famous Ape Dance. I sent exactly one tweet on my now-defunct Twitter account. I don’t know how to text on my (non-smart) phone; I asked my college students once to help me switch the phone from ring to vibrate.

            Sometimes I feel like Edward Arlington Robinson’s “Minniver Cheevy,” born too late. In the poem, Robinson is scathing about poor Minniver and his dreams of medieval romance, Minniver whose failure to engage in the actual world of his own life and times leads him to spend his days in endless thinking and thinking and thinking, and endless drinking, as well.

So I’m vowing here and now: I’m not going to let myself be Claudia Cheevy. 

Once upon a time I vowed I’d never give up typing my manuscripts onto my IBM Selectrix typewriter: “I like having to retype the entire manuscript for every round of revisions; it’s good to be forced to rethink every single word, really it is!” That is one tune I haven’t sung for several decades. I am an email addict, scornful beyond all reckoning of a writer colleague who served on an awards committee with me and refused to conduct committee business by email. I adore Facebook. Heck, I found out that my own son had gotten married by going on Facebook (a story for another day). When social-media-phobic friends complain that they’ve missed out on big news from me, news that I plastered all over Facebook, I think, Get with the 21st century, buster!

So this to say that I’m grateful to my fellow Smack-Dabbers for helping me think that it might be possible for me to make a book trailer sometime. (Not quite yet, but sometime. Soon. Or soon-ish.) Just this week I did my first-ever Skype school visit, thoroughly modern Millsie that I am becoming. I wish it had been an in-person visit; it was so much less satisfying than talking with the kids face-to-face. But it was also so much more satisfying than no visit at all.

I’m still a Luddite at heart. But I’m no longer going to be a loudly complaining Luddite, an annoying geezerette who brandishes her cane as she rails against these darned newfangled gadgets and gizmos. The horseless carriage is here to stay, and so is Skype, Twitter, and book trailers – at least until they’re replaced by the next new thing that I’m not going to be complaining about. 

Maybe I’ll go reactivate my Twitter account and tweet about that right now.