Monday, November 28, 2011

AUTHOR TOURS: Part I - The Cost-Benefit Analysis

This is the first in my multi-part series on group author tours. Over the past months, I founded and coordinated a tour called STAGES ON PAGES ( comprised of authors who write about the performing arts and who were/are musicians, actors, and dancers. 

Stages on Pages Fall 2011 was a blast and we are SO continuing on into 2012, adding new writers, and expanding in all sorts of ways.  However, it's not all rainbows and unicorns. I'm going to be brutally honest here about what worked, what didn't and what I still really wish I knew.  So, let's begin at the beginning...

What is a group author tour?

Well, duh, it's a book tour involving multiple authors. But, seriously, a GOOD group tour is a collective that makes sense in some of these ways:

1. Authors are writing in the same genre or age/grade range (e.g., YA/upper middle grade; picture books; mysteries; etc.)
2. The authors themselves have reasons to be together (e.g., backgrounds, writing interests, geography)
3. Everyone is excited about coming together and is willing to help organize, promote and otherwise support the tour.

First leg of Stages on Pages
LA - October 2011 with
Gretchen McNeil,
Elise Allen, me,
& Allen Zadoff
So, say you like this definition and the idea of putting together a group author tour is starting to excite you.  Before you get started, you might want to consider these drawbacks.

1. Group author tours have become rather trendy. Smart Chicks Kick It and Ash2Nash are author-originated tours, while Dark Days of Supernatural is tour organized by Harper Teen. Author collectives such as the Elevensies and Seattle7Writers, and writers who just happen to be coming together in a give city also arrange group events. So...there are LOTS of them. Sometimes more than one in the same city on the same day!
2. Group tours are a LOT of work.

BUT I DON'T MEAN TO DISCOURAGE YOU because, goup tours also have terrific benefits.

1. You don't have to speak for ages or sign books alone.
2. If you're a debut author with one title, in hardcover, and no backlist, it's nice to be signing with others so there are a variety of books to offer to readers in attendance.
3. Publicity and other tasks related to the tour can be shared.
4. Hitting the road to promote your book enables you to visit bookstores where you'll meet many terrific booksellers and connect with bloggers, librarians and teachers who often come to author events.
5. You make lots of nice writer friends. (Don't joke--this is really fantastic!)

So, do the cost-benefit analysis.  Does the idea of organizing a book tour excite you? Are you willing to take the risk that you'll be competing with lots of other tours, and do the work required? Do you enjoy meeting booksellers, readers and people in general and want some brick-and-mortar bookstore events to be part of the way you send your novel out into the world? If the answer is yes, my next BOOK TOUR post will be all about how to find your tour peeps. Come back soon!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Very Young Dancer, A Very Young Paparazzo, and some thoughts on fame

Recently, a friend directed me to an article about the adulthood of the real-life star of Jill Krementz's iconic 1976 ballet book, A Very Young DancerHere is the link to the poignant and rather sobering tale.

I was not yet in double digits when this book was published, but I had already been dancing for years. I thought the photographs were beautiful and I loved the book but, honestly, I was not deceived by the rather glamorous picture it painted.  I already had a sense of the bittersweet life that is ballet (or gymnastics or elite soccer or any activitiy a child decides to pursue at an intense, professional level).  Still, something I had never considered was the impact of the fame which befell (word choice intentional) the book's star, Stephanie.  Oddly, in a fit of procrastionation this week, I also saw parts of Adrian Grenier's film Teenage Paparazzo, another exploration of a child experiencing fame in the wake of another famous person's creation.  Neither young ballerina Stephanie nor teen celebrity photographer Austin could have truly understood the creative power and reach of the people who made a book and a film about them.

Should these "subjects" be considered victims of the fame machine? Certainly, the world viewed them with great envy (at least for awhile).  Was it all worth it for Stephanie or Austin?  For Grenier or Krementz?  What is the artist's responsibility to his muse?  This is a question I wanted to explore in my novel, AUDITION, which at this very moment I am happy is a work of my own imagination and NOT a documentary.

It would be hard to deny that writing books is, at one level, a grasp at immortality and as such, a grasp at some type of fame.  I won't deny that, while I'm getting lots of nice feedback on Audition, had it leapt out of the gate as a prize-winning novel of the year, I would not have turned away whatever celebrity came with that. And, yeah, I do have occasional nightmares about being remaindered (book lingo for no-more-print-runs!).

So, in the context of my novel, the question I see is: Is Remington a villain or just another desperate artist fearing obscurity? What were Stephanie and Austin? Grenier and Krementz?  What am I?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Here it comes--a dance thriller!

Is internet fame as a dancer Ali's dream-come-true or a step toward real danger?

Check out Carol Tanzman's new book here!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I've been home a little more than 24 hours, cooked two dinners (much appreciated by hubs and kids), wiped a lot of sticky surfaces, and posted a bunch of tour pictures over at Stages on Pages.

Here are just a few highlights of my own:

Stopping in to a B&N in Holyoke, Massachusetts where there just happened to be a group of teen mothers from the amazing Care Center gathering to read their own poetry. I was thrilled to be able to give them a copy of my Audition and to spend a bit of time enjoying their reading.

Getting to know the incredible, awesome, amazing, generous and smart authors of Stages on Pages.  I have learned so much from each and every one of them--and from the many other authors, bloggers and writers whose paths I crossed along the tour.

Being surprised by the dear Suzanne Morgan Williams in the audience at Books of Wonder.

I really should disappear for awhile now to fulfill some writing obligations.  But the truth is that I'm kind of addicted to blogging.  Also, I really want to share some of the things I've learned about organizing a grassroots book tour, bookstore appearances, school visits, and more.  So, before I forget, I'll be doing some posts on those topics.  Oh yeah, and I'll be mailing a lot of stuff I owe people.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Home at last!

Honestly, I'm just writing this post to see if Blogger & IE9 have gotten to be friends.  So, the pictures and fun stuff will come later.  But I am definitely very happy to be home with my family and SO excited to get back to a normal writing schedule.  Happy Friday!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In beautiful New Hampshire

I am so looking forward to finishing up my swing back east with stops in my home state.  I'll be giving a writing workshop at the lovely Hopkinton Town Library on Monday 11/14 at 6:30 pm (all are welcome), then visiting Hopkinton High School on Tuesday afternoon before joining the ever-wonderful Stages on Pages author Rosanne Parry, plus NH Arts Commissioner Van McLeod and a some wonderful arts educators and teen performers at GIBSONS'S BOOKSTORE in Concord, NH, at 7 pm.

Here's a very nice review from The Concord Monitor.  I feel a bit braggy posting it here but I really do love what she says about verse, plus there are a few nice excerpts in case you're curious.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Anyone else love Books of Wonder?

The first time I ever went to Books of Wonder in New York City, I met the amazing Peter Sis, whose books I adore, especially, THE WALL and THE STARRY MESSENGER.  At the time, I was just overwhelmed by the everything awesome of that store.  And TODAY, I'll be signing there myself with the Stages on Pages gang!  Nervous much? Umm, yeah!

Oh, and from there, the Stages on Pages crew is on to three more awesomely amazing indies: VORACIOUS READER (Larchmont, NY 11/11); DOLPHIN BOOKSHOP (Port Washington, NY 11/12); and OBLONG BOOKS (Rhinebeck, NY 11/13).  Swing by Stages on Pages for details.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Catching my breath

I can hardly believe that it's been about a month since Audition landed on shelves: The longest and shortest four weeks of my life. I have learned a ton that I want to share as soon as I wrap up the final 2011 leg of the Stages on Pages book tour.

By this evening, I'll have lots of pictures up at so you can take a look at how the west coast portions of the trip went.  Then, when I get home, I'll be sharing my thoughts on some of these things:
  • Live Book Tours - pros and cons
  • Virtual Promotion - how much is too much
  • The Awesome that is the Book Blogger Community
  • Thoughts on THE POST-DEBUT NOVEL (choosing what to write)
I am SO EXCITED to get back to the on-the-side part of my blog--to share insights of value to other writers who are on the journey, be they published, agented, awaiting their debuts, or in an earlier stage and wanting to educate themselves.  I am also looking forward to having a bit more time to write my own stuff and to read more books by my friends and colleagues.

Right now, though, it's back to preparing for school and library programs, coordinating with tour authors, and connecting with the many friends I hope to see in New York and New Hampshire in the coming days.  Okay, I guess I've only got a minute to catch my breath right now. Well, it's been nice!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Final PacNW Stop for Stages on Pages - A CHILDREN'S PLACE, Portland on Sunday 11/6 at 2 PM

Join me, Jessica Martinez, Tara Kelly, Conrad Wesselhoeft and special guest blogger-writer Sara Gundell as we wrap up the west coast leg of STAGES ON PAGES at A CHILDREN'S PLACE, Portland, OR, on Sunday, November 6 at 2 PM. What a wild and wonderful week in the PacNW!

Friday, November 4, 2011

SHAWN OR SHANE & a WHALE of a good time at ORCA BOOKS, Olympia - Saturday 11/5 at 4 PM

Trying to put some finishing touches on a new manuscript BUT I'm having trouble with the name of the love interest character. For ages he was Seth but I've recently read TWO novels containing Seths, each so interesting and quirky that I cannot get them out of my head. However, for a variety of word-crafty reasons, I want to keep a one-syllable name beginning with S. (Truth: I have over time developed weird formulaic restrictions about character names--how many can be mono-syllabic versus multi-syllabic, end in IE or Y, start with a hard consonant... Yup, just another freak-fact about me!) So, what do we think:

Leave a comment below or, if you live near Olympia, WA, come tell me in person this Saturday at
509 E. 4th Ave.
Olympia, WA 98502

Meet the authors of the books shown below.
Win signed books, posters, literary swag & more!
Plus a surprise performance event!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

BOOKANISTA THURSDAY & Signing at Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA 11/4 at 4 PM

No review this Thursday since I'm on the road with Stages on Pages but there's plenty of Bookanista goodness to be found...

Elana Johnson is crazy about Crossed and Shatter Me
LiLa Roecker swoons for Sirenz
Christine Fonseca interviews Kids Inventing! author Susan Casey
Shelli Johannes-Wells dishes on Become (Desolation Book #1)
Beth Revis celebrates books for which she’s grateful – with gigantic signed book giveaway
Jessi Kirby applauds Virtuosity
Megan Miranda marvels at How to Save a Life
Rosemary Clement Moore  is wild for The Iron Witch
Veronica Rossi is amazed by Shatter Me

And, if you're in the Seattle area, swing by Third Place Books on Friday 11/4 at 4 PM. Besides the awesomeness of spending some time with fellow authors


there's the YUM of Honey Bear Bakery jam thumbprint cookies and this window!

Bring your family for book talk then dinner (or, in my case, straight to the bakery treats!).  Fun for readers of all ages and a perfect Friday night!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'll be dancing & signing at SECRET GARDEN BOOKS, Seattle 11/3 at 7 PM

Come join me and friends Jessica Martinez (Virtuosity), Rosanne Parry (Second Fiddle), Louise Spiegler (The Jewel & the Key), Conrad Wesslehoeft (Adios, Nirvana) and student actors from Seattle Childrens Theater as we bring our novels to life and admit the many reasons we are both writer and theater geeks!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Audition Blog Tour Winners & Something Special!

Wow, thanks to everyone who entered the AUDITION BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY.  We had 181 individual entries, so I've added two more signed poster prizes to the winner list below (I'll email you all, too):

Ballerina Swag Packs (3):
Sonia; Rose C; Michelle Santiago

Signed Audition Posters (5):
Vivien; RivkaBelle; Kristi-The Book Faery: Jennifer-YA Booknerd; Myra C

Signed copy of AUDITION:
Lisa McGeen

These are some old
ones of mine--prize
shoes will be new
(and clean!)

BUT THERE'S MORE!  I'm so grateful for your awesome support that I want to do something extra special.  So, I owe you guys one more prize and it's gonna be a doozy.  Everyone who entered this giveaway (even if you've already won something) will have their names dropped back in the hat for A PAIR OF POINTE SHOES SIGNED BY MANY OF YOUR FAVORITE YA AUTHORS (including me) through the month of November.  Plus you can enter again up to once a day through November 30 (contest closes that day at 9 PM Pacific time).  AND, I'll be tweeting and facebooking every time I get a new signature on the shoes!