Saturday, April 02, 2011

2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature

2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature recognize the following winners and honor authors:

Picture Book Winner

Ann Malaspina for Yasmin’s Hammer, illustrated by Doug Chayka (Lee and Low, 2010). See also Exploring Bangladesh with Ann Malaspina and Doug Chayka from Lee & Low.

Picture Book Honor

Roseanne Thong for Fly Free! illustrated by Eujin Kim Neilan (Boyds Mills, 2010).

Children’s Literature Winner

Margi Preus for Heart of a Samurai (Abrams, 2010).

Children’s Literature Honor

Mitali Perkins for Bamboo People (Charlesbridge, 2010). See the official book site and discussion guide.

Young Adult Literature Winner

N. H. Senzai for Shooting Kabul (Simon & Schuster, 2010). Read a Cynsations interview with N.H. Peek: "In 1970s Saudi Arabia, there wasn’t much for a kid to do, especially in 100 degree plus heat. There was very little television to watch, or other entertainment options. So the library at our school, Jubail Academy, became our refuge."

Young Adult Literature Honor

Barbara Bazaldua for A Boy of Heart Mountain, illustrated by Willie Ito (Yabitoon, 2010).

Friday, April 01, 2011

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Attention Writers! Send a photo of yourself with a dinosaur (a museum skeleton, recreation, gas-station logo, made from Legos, whatever) to Greg Leitich Smith for inclusion in his upcoming blog series, Writers and Dinosaurs. You don't have to be published to participate! See link for details. See also Greg on The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.

Making the Most of Writer's Conference Critiques by Jennifer Ziegler from Chasing Tales. Includes insights from agent Erin Murphy, editor Stephanie Elliott (formerly with Random House/Delacorte Press, now with Sparknotes), former Austin SCBWI regional advisor Meredith Davis, author Dorothy Love, and Writers' League of Texas executive director Cyndi Hughes. Peek from Erin: "It’s perfectly fine to talk it out with the critiquer to solidify your ideas, or to ask if you can have a moment to make a clear note to yourself so you don’t lose the train of thought and can go on to make use of all the time in your session."

Cynsational Blogger Tip: Respect authors' copyright. Keep quotes to under 5o words or ask permission to post a longer excerpt.

A comprehensive list of U.S. college- and university-sponsored or -hosted children’s and young adult literature conferences, festivals, and symposia compiled by Chris Barton from Bartography.

Adam Gudeon Author/Illustrator: official site of the debut author/illustrator of Me and Meow (HarperCollins, 2011). Peek: "Born in Manhattan, raised on Long Island, and art schooled in Brooklyn, Adam now resides in the beautiful Berkshires of western Massachusetts." Check out his portfolio and shop Adam Gudeon on Etsy.

Creative Confidence by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: "You are the only person on this planet who is going to care the most about your creative output and your career. Sure, you will get people in your corner, like your agent, your editor, your mentors, your friends and family, you cat, and your fans, who will care about your books or whatever else you do, but nobody will care about it half as much as you."

Interview with Translator Laura Watkinson by Sarah Blake Johnson from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "...if a foreign-language publisher is trying to sell something like a YA novel, it makes little financial sense for them to have the whole book translated and time is also an issue, so they’ll usually have just an excerpt translated to take along to the book fair. An excerpt is typically around twenty pages...may be packaged with extra information about the author, such as a bibliography and perhaps an interview."

Your Platform Equals Opportunity by Greg Pincus from The Happy Accident. Peek: "Every time you create content, every time someone visits your blog while you’re asleep, every time you have an interaction…opportunity is created. You form a relationship, sometimes very brief and sometimes one that builds and builds."

Check out the new cover for Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories, edited by Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall (HarperTeen, Aug. 23, 2011). Note: contributions include "Isolation" by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Why Love Matters by Danyelle Leafty from QueryTracker. Peek: "...do you want just any old agent? Someone who might enjoy your story without ever having loved it?"

Publishing Industry News compiled by Kathy Temean from Writing and Illustrating. Peek: "Abrams will launch its third imprint Appleseed Books, a new imprint geared towards babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, in Spring 2012." Round-up includes recent job appointments/promotions, a new interactive online book club for tweens from Simon & Schuster, and more.

Congratulations to Frances Lee Hall for signing with Marietta Zacker of Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, and congratulations to Marietta for signing Frances!

New South Asian Book Award by Uma Krishnaswami from Writing with a Broken Tusk. Peek: "The award will be given in recognition of a recently published work of fiction, nonfiction, poetry or folklore, from early childhood to secondary reading levels, published in the United States, Canada or United Kingdom, in English (translations into English will also be accepted) which accurately and skillfully portrays South Asia or South Asians in the diasporas, that is the experience of individuals living in South Asia, or of South Asians living in other parts of the world. The culture, people, or heritage of South Asia should be the primary focus of the story."

Reminder: Teen writers/English teachers! Teen writers are encouraged to enter the Hunger Mountain Young Writers Contest. Three first place winners will receive $250 and publication! Three runners-up will receive $100 each. Note: I'm honored to be this year's judge. See link for more information. Hunger Mountain is the Vermont College of Fine Arts journal of the arts.

Cynsational Giveaways

Last Call: Enter to win a signed copy of Throat by R.A. Nelson (Knopf, 2011). To enter the giveaway, comment here or email me (scroll and click envelope) and type "Throat" in the subject line.

Deadline: midnight CST April 1. Note: Author sponsored; U.S. entries only.

25 Days of Giveaways: Day 20: Tantalize Series by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Bookaholics Book Club. Giveaway includes:

-plush bat toy;

-chubby bat stickers;

-author-autographed postcard for Tantalize: Kieren's Story (featuring not-yet-public cover art for the graphic novel, illustrated by Ming Doyle);

-Sanguini's button;

-Sanguini's magnetic menu wipe board.

Eligibility: U.S. only. Deadline: 7:17 p.m. Friday, April 1. See link for entry form and more information. Note: Sanguini's is the fictional vampire-themed restaurant that appears in Tantalize, Blessed, and Tantalize: Kieren's Story.

Cynsational Screening Room

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Knopf. Source: Liz Garton Scanlon.



Consider donating to Poetry: Spread the Word: a Kickstarter project by Greg Pincus. Peek: "If Poetry: Spread the Word is funded, over the course of the next year (roughly May, 2011 through April, 2012), I will put 100 original poems up on my blog and out into the world for free and do 40 school visits (via Skype or, if it works out, in person) at no cost to the schools. I'll also create a collection, described in more detail below, that will celebrate and document the visits and the poetry." See more information. Note: Greg is really excited about the possibility that other children's authors/illustrators could replicate this campaign to finance their speaking in tough budget times.



"Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure," an app for the iPad, will be available, developed by OCG Studios in the Netherlands this month. Peek: "It's not just an animated enhanced e-book with voice-over, but a truly interactive maze, including counting and finding elements." Learn more about the creation of the app.



Check out this author video interview with Jennifer Lynn Barnes from RT Book Reviews. I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer and hearing her speak at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival. Learn more about her novel, Raised by Wolves (Egmont USA, 2010).



At the SCBWI-Wisconsin novel retreat in Madison last weekend (details below), I had the pleasure of connecting with one of my favorite YA authors, Deborah Lynn Jacobs. Check out her trailer for Choices (Roaring Brook, 2007).



More Personally

I've had a few questions of late about traveling to writing/books events with only a backpack for trips under four days.

Here's the scoop: Traveling by air, I've had to deal with missing luggage for up to five days.

If I'm on the road, that leaves me with only the outfit I've got on. (Even if shopping sounds appealing, author-speaker schedules are such that I may not have an opportunity to do so.)

Plus, most airlines are charging fees for checked bags. I'd rather not deduct that from my earnings, and I'm reluctant to pass that cost onto my hosts.

So, I pack my toiletries in a Ziploc bag (making sure to squeeze the air out), roll up mostly travel-knit garments, and plan to wear no more than two pairs of shoes on the trip. I also tend to take outfits that can be hand-washed and hanger-dried overnight.

From there, I slip in whatever is necessary--printed speeches, schedules, giveaways, manuscript, etc. The pack still fits beneath the seat in front of me, which is key with regional jets. Beyond that, I recommend using both shoulder straps. The pack will be heavy, and you're less likely to pull a muscle.

What else? After a fair number of such long-distance treks, I'm returning to writing (and more events) here in Central Texas for the next few months. Check out the schedule below.

But first, I'd like to offer a huge thanks to everyone at Lee County Library System in Fort Myers, Florida for your hospitality at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival! Thanks also to those folks who turned out for my presentation and/or signing!

Personal highlights included meeting Alice Hoffman, Eric Litwin, and Jennifer Lynn Barnes (see video above) as well as reconnecting with Phil Bildner. I also had the opportunity to catch Sara Shepard and Rosemary Well's talks.

I had such a terrific time at An Evening with the Authors at the Royal Palm Yacht Club, an affiliated event, and staying the Hotel Indigo--lovely with excellent service. Beyond that, Fort Myers is one of the friendliest towns I've ever visited!

Another mega thank you goes out to the coordinators and participants at last weekend's SCBWI-Wisconsin novel retreat at the Bishop O'Connor Center in Madison!

Special thanks to RA Pam Beres, ARA Judy Bryan and Ann Angel for bringing me in to teach the workshop. I'm still wowed by the writers I met, consider myself their forever cheerleader, and came home with warm memories.

Mundie Moms gives Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002) five stars and says: "This is such a delightfully charming story. Through the little mishaps both Ray and Grampa Halfmoon have, I loved seeing how their love and support for each other kept getting stronger and stronger.... Indian Shoes is a fabulous book to have and I highly recommend picking it up. It's a great edition for any classroom and personal home library." Read the whole review.

School Library Journal says of Blessed (Candlewick, 2010): "Off-handed humor, clever wordplay, and a host of supernatural beings will delight fans of Smith’s Tantalize (2007) and Eternal (2009, both Candlewick), the two novels that precede this one, though Blessed can certainly be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel."



Links of the Week: Fight Multiple Sclerosis with author Lindsey Leavitt, Don't You Need a Gown Made of Golden Books?

Cynsational Events

Erin Murphy Literary Agency Wine Social will be at 3 p.m. April 16 at BookPeople in Austin. Peek: "Come meet Erin Murphy as well as some of the authors she represents."

The annual Texas Library Association Annual Conference will be April 12 to April 15 at the convention center in Austin. Check out the list of Austin author signings. Notes: (a) Take a Chance on Art and enter a raffle to win the illustration "Space Age" by Melanie Hope Greenberg to benefit the TLA Disaster Relief Fund; see more information; (b) Cynthia Leitich Smith will be signing Blessed and other titles at 11 a.m. April 13 in the Author Signing Area.

YA A to Z Conference, sponsored by the Writers' League of Texas, will be April 15 and April 16 at the Hyatt Regency Austin (208 Barton Springs Road). Cost: $279 WLT Members, $349 Nonmembers (through March 15). See more information. Note: conference faculty includes Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith. Cynthia will serve as the interviewer at "Meet the Author: Gail Giles" and as a panelist on "Going Graphic: Writing Graphic Novels" with Hope Larson, moderated by K.A. Holt. Spaces are still available! Register today!

Jo Whittemore will be signing Odd Girl In (Aladdin, 2011) at 2 p.m. April 10 at BookPeople in Austin. Note: Odd Girl In is now available! Congratulations, Jo! See In the Writer's Studio: Jo Whittemore on Odd Girl In from Bethany Hegedus at Writer Friendly, Bookshelf Approved.

Liz Garton Scanlon will be signing Noodle & Lou, illustrated by Arthur Howard (Beach Lane, 2011) at noon April 23 at BookPeople in Austin. See curriculum guide.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Guest Post: Elizabeth Eulberg on Author Marketing

By Elizabeth Eulberg

One of the first things I did when I got the offer from Scholastic to publish my debut novel The Lonely Hearts Club (Point, 2010, 2011) was to buy an URL.

As a publicist in the publishing business for over ten years, I knew how important it was for an author to have an online presence. But the amount of involvement authors need to have on social networking sites has increased even in the past two years. While it can take a lot of time (I sometimes joke that I have 2.5 jobs: publicist, author and the .5 is social networking), it is an extremely crucial step in promoting your books.

When I was growing up, I never dreamed of being able to talk to one of my favorite authors. Now, many authors are reachable via their website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Having this contact is especially important for authors of teen books. Teens and readers in their 20s live in a very digital age – they’re used having instant access to so much.

Having an outlet where they connect with an author might give them an extra incentive to continue to read that author's work.

I launched my website about three months before my debut novel was released. I also coincided that with the launching of my Twitter and Facebook pages. I wanted to be sure that I had a website up for when bloggers received the ARC, so anybody reading their blogs could find me, read an excerpt from the novel, and learn more about me.

What I like about Twitter and Facebook is that it’s really easy to let your readers know about a new book or an interview you've done. I try to balance it so it isn't always about promoting my books, but for them to get to know me a little bit better (like what concerts I'm going to, TV shows I'm enjoying). I’ve only been doing it for a little over a year, but I do find Twitter to be especially useful.

When we released the cover of my new book, Prom and Prejudice, the Twitter post not only got the most comments, but over 20 people re-Tweeted post, so the cover got even more exposure.

Besides social networking, the biggest change I’ve seen in the publicizing of books is the importance of book blogs and blog tours. Most of the time, these tours are the main component to marketing campaigns (especially with the decline of book sections in newspapers and magazines).

And while blog tours can be time consuming, being on someone else's blog introduces you to book lovers who may have never come across your work. Most of the time the blog will link to your website or Twitter, which gets you additional traffic…and hopefully additional readers.

However, as I always say to teens when I speak at school, and this goes for authors as well, it's extremely important to be very careful what you put online.

Once it is out there - it's there for forever. I always take a second before I post anything to make sure this is something I'm comfortable having “out there.”

I also think it’s important for authors to protect their privacy and not give away too much personal information (for example, the location where they are having dinner that evening or where their kids go to school).

Also, social networking can take a lot of time so it's important to set-up boundaries for yourself so you don’t get stretched too thin trying to keep up. I usually only respond to Facebook and author e-mails once a week.

My last piece of advice is about over-Tweeting or posting. If you’re always constantly saying something, people will start to ignore you, and then when you have something really important to say (like you have an upcoming event or new book out) it will blend in with all the other noise you’ve been creating.

So it’s best to stay balanced. I try to say something on Twitter once a day, but I’m not going to Tweet for the sake of Tweeting.

And with that, I’m going to take my own advice and know when to stop.

Happy self-promoting!

Author Interview: Carrie Harris on the Class of 2k11

Carrie Harris is the monster-obsessed, geek-of-all-trades, Excel-spreadsheet-addicted president of the Class of 2k11. Brains are her specialty; she used to work in a lab where they were delivered daily via FedEx. After that, it seemed only natural to write a zombie book: Bad Taste in Boys, which will be published by Delacorte in July.

She lives in Michigan with her ninja-doctor husband and three zombie-obsessed children. And she really likes hyphens.

What is the Class of 2k11?

The 2k concept is pretty simple—we’re a small group of debut middle grade and YA authors who have banded together for marketing and promotion (and also slumber parties, but I’m not sure those are really for public consumption).

There’s been a 2k class every year since 2007, and previous members include Jay Asher, Cassandra Clare, Melissa Marr, Sarah Prineas, Rebecca Stead

I’d better stop before I make myself hyperventilate.

What are its goals and pursuits?

Being a debut author can get overwhelming because there are so many marketing type things to do. It’s much more manageable when you work together to spread the word. But we wanted this group to be more than “Eeeee! Look at us! We sold books!"

Who wants to hear that all the time? We wanted to pay some of our amazing luck forward, so we decided to give a little love to librarians, booksellers, and bloggers.

They told us they’re always looking for ways to draw in readers, so we focused on creating easy, cheap, and fun activities to take the pressure off on those days when you’ve got a book club/class/blog entry/whatever and forgot to plan something! And hopefully you’ll get introduced to some great new voices in kid lit in the process.

How is it organized?

We’ve got some crazy awesome officers that deserve kudos, medals, and showers of sparkles, and we’ve got committees that do the bulk of the actual work.

But really, we’re pretty casual. We all have lives and deadlines and crises. Some days, all you can do is eke out 50 words on the latest book, and you’re lucky to get that!

So we do as much as we can, when we can. I think the reality is that with groups like this, you get what you put into it.

Who are the classmates?

I’m so proud to belong to this group with K. Ryer Breese, Carole Etsby Dagg, Amy Dominy, Trinity Faegen, Alissa Grosso, Kiki Hamilton, Geoff Herbach, Tess Hilmo, Amy Holder, Tara Hudson, Julia Karr, Christina Mandelski, Sheila O’Connor, Gae Polisner, Bettina Restrepo, and Angie Smibert.

What is the interpersonal vibe?

We’re family, plain and simple. We’ve become so much more than marketing buddies; we’ve celebrated and cried together and offered to kiss each other…actually I think the last one is just me.

But seriously, I think the support is just as important if not more so than the snazzy marketing stuff. It’s scary to put that first book out into the big bad world, and it’s so much easier when you know people who don’t look at you funny when you say things like that.

Why did a cooperative promotional group appeal to you?

Years ago, I remember reading about the Class of 2k7 in my Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market and thinking, “Someday, I’m going to join one of those!”

People think of writing as such an isolated profession, but there are so many great support systems out there if you just get the guts to reach out.

And I think the fact is that we’re all good at something. Some marketing stuff makes me all giddy, and some of it makes me want to pretend that I no longer speak English. Promotional groups allow you to exercise your strengths and let other people take over when you get into No hablo Ingles territory.

What are the challenges?

There are so many things to do marketing-wise, and there are no right answers about what you must do if you want to succeed. Imagine putting together 15-20 strangers who write in a variety of genres, and then try to figure out what will work for all those books.

Starting out was hard. It’s hard to know where to put your efforts. I may or may not have used my Magic 8 Ball during this process.

Oh, who am I kidding? I totally used it.

What do you love about it?

How long do you have? Of course I love the people. I couldn’t imagine doing this without them. They’re a great source of info on things you didn’t even realize you needed to be thinking about.

And they’re funny. A lot of us have also noticed a real spike in attention toward our books once the class debuted. It’s so exciting seeing our plans take off and people interested in what we’re doing. So if I had to make the choice again, I would absolutely join, no matter what the cost. Funny and useful?!? Sign me up!

Tell us a little about your upcoming debut.

It’s about a science geek who learns that her high school football team has been dosed with steroids…or maybe not. Whatever’s in those vials is turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless, flesh-eating zombies. Which is bad. But if she doesn’t find a way to cure them, it’ll be even worse.

Dum dum dum.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

I remember when I was looking around at groups to join or thinking about creating one of my own, it was all so overwhelming. Author group blogs seemed to be multiplying like hyperactive rabbits for a while there, and How on Earth Are You Supposed to Choose?

(Ahem. Sorry. Got a little carried away.)

If you’re going to join a group, think about what you really need help with and what you can do on your own, and find a group that’ll fit those needs, whether it’s marketing or networking or talking in public without stuttering.

And if what you need is a group for debut authors in 2012, I hear that Class of 2k12 is taking applications…

In Memory: Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones, Children’s Author, Dies at 76 by Bruce Weber from The New York Times. Peek: "Diana Wynne Jones, whose critically admired stories and novels for children and teenage readers imagined fantastical worlds inhabited by wizards, witches, magicians and ordinary boys and girls, died on Saturday in Bristol, England. She was 76."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Author-Illustrator Interview: Melanie Hope Greenberg & Take a Chance on Art at the TLA 2011 Raffle

The 2011 Texas Library Association raffle masterpiece is "Space Age," an original gouache illustration (image area is approximately 8.5 x 11.5) donated by author-illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg.

The panel was created for the picture book Supermarket by Kathleen Krull (Holiday House, 2001).

Greenberg chose this painting to correspond with the 2011 conference theme of "Libraries Crossing Boundaries; Bilbliotecas cruzando fronteras."

The annual art raffle benefits the Texas Library Disaster Relief Fund, created to assist libraries in our state as they recover from natural disasters.

The raffle will be April 14 during the second general session of the TLA Annual Conference in Austin. A ticket form is available for those who will not be at conference (mail by April 4); and tickets will be sold in the 4th Street Lobby of the convention center and and at various events at the conference: $5 each or five for $20.

Let's get to know this talented author-illustrator! Melanie, could you tell us about your illustration career?

My professional illustration career began in 1981, designing greeting cards for UNICEF. My illustrations have been published on over 200 greeting cards with various clients. They've also been published as games, wrapping paper, coffee mugs, posters and in magazines.

"Everyone Belongs," a poster designed for the Children's Defense Fund, and chosen by its president, Marian Wright-Edelman, was in print for over a decade.

My illustrations have also been published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, AFL-CIO and the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children).

The first trade picture book I wrote and illustrated was released in 1989. I've since illustrated 16 picture books and wrote six of them. They have won many awards and honors. The one titled, Mermaids On Parade (Putnam, 2008), is now representing Coney Island on the Brooklyn Public Library website's A Literary Map of Brooklyn.

I've served on the SCBWI NY Metro steering committee for over 15 years.

What inspired you to donate a piece of your art to TLA?

Jeanette Larson, who originated the raffle, emailed me in November of 2009, asking for a donation. I had no idea that a TLA Disaster Relief Fund existed. Jeanette walked me through the initial steps and has been an enormous help throughout.

I really like the idea of a raffle. Most people can afford to get a ticket and (hopefully) win original art while helping libraries at the same time. It's win/win/win.

I felt inspired by the theme of the conference, "Libraries Crossing Boundaries; Bilbliotecas cruzando fronteras."

That is how I choose the original picture book illustration to donate. "Space Age" depicts a supermarket in the year 3000. I like the idea that a building from the current era is juxtaposed into a future era.

Could you share the history of the piece?

The art is quirky, bright, colorful and fun. I paint with gouache, which is thick opaque paint with a glow. The ancient-modern buildings in the illustration's background are straight out of Antonio Gaudi's park in Barcelona. I had visited there once, it was memorable.

What ties in perfectly with choosing art to fit the conference theme is that "Supermarket" turns ten-years-old in print this year. I want to celebrate that and have a chance to breathe new life into an existing book on the back-list.

I will be signing copies of "Supermarket" at the Holiday House booth on April 14, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Texas Library Association Conference in Austin.

What can your fans look forward to next?

Online, I have a wonderful interactive visual resume of my career.

Also, a new blog to sell my original art, over 1600 illustrations created, which are collectibles.

I've created a list for easy-to-find links to all my online activity.

Offline, I am a speaker, panelist, workshop presenter for picture book writing, illustration and marketing. I'm open always to visit elementary schools, libraries, museums, and conferences.

There are some bookstore signings coming up in Brooklyn. I've been submitting new picture book projects for publication and working on more new projects in various early stages.

I also hope to march in the Mermaid Parade again for the Summer Solstice. Maybe I will see you there.

Cynsational Notes

Book Melanie for school visits outside the NYC area.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Voice: Cindy Callaghan on Just Add Magic

Cindy Callaghan is the first-time author of Just Add Magic (Aladdin, 2010)(discussion guide). From the promotional copy:

When Kelly Quinn and her two BFFs discover a dusty old cookbook while cleaning out her attic, the girls decide to try a few of the mysterious recipes inside.

But the ancient book bears an eerie warning, and it doesn't take long for the girls to realize that their dishes are linked to strange occurrences.

The Keep 'Em Quiet Cobbler actually silences Kelly's pesky little brother and the Hexberry Tarta brings an annoying curse to mean girl Charlotte Barney. And there's the Love Bug Juice, which seems to have quite the effect on those cute Rusamano boys...

Could these recipes really be magical? Who wrote them, and where did they come from? And most importantly, what kind of trouble are the girls stirring up for themselves? Things are about to get just a little too hot in Kelly Quinn's kitchen.

What is it like, to be a debut author? What do you love about it? What are the challenges? What came as the biggest surprise? In each case, why?

The debut of my work meant a transition from Writer to Promoter. I put writing on hold temporarily because time constraints wouldn’t allow me to do both. I really missed writing which, for me, is quiet and solitary.

Promotion is just the opposite, and as a modest person, I found it challenging talking about myself and my work. One of the things that surprised me was how amazingly excited people were for me. And they were so supportive. Especially the schools I visited, they were so kind to me, and the kids thought I was a celebrity, seriously. I always wanted to be a celebrity.

One time I was picking up my kids from after-school care and a very quiet, shy little girl that I didn’t know came up to me. I imagined it was hard for her to approach me like that.

She said, quite assertively, “Hey, Mrs. Callaghan.”

“Yes?” I asked.

And she pointed at me with both hands and said, surprisingly assertively, “Loved the book!” And she dashed off.

I laughed all afternoon.

You know another thing that surprises me? The emails I get from kids.

I got one the other day that really wanted an autographed picture of me. I thought, “I’ve arrived.” Of course I don’t have any autographed pictures of myself, but how could I let down this fan? What was I going to do? What any girl would do…called Dad. Presto, I’ve got a photograph that only needed to be signed and mailed.

I was in Manhattan recently, and we had a really long wait at this popular restaurant. I confidently approached the maĆ®tre d’ to explain that I was famous and we should get a good seat….yadda yadda…okay, it didn’t work.

As someone with a full-time day job, how do you manage to also carve out time to write and build a publishing career? What advice do you have for other writers trying to do the same?

I like to write in the morning. I wake up between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. most days. When I am involved in a project, I will write before work for about an hour.

But I really prefer to write in big time chunks. That way I don’t have to stop when I am on a roll.

As you can imagine with a family and job, large blocks of time are difficult to find. If my creative juices are really flowing, like with a first draft, I can get up really early and write for hours. It feels like minutes.

On a weekend morning I'll leave the house at 5:30 a.m. I can get four hours of writing in before most people are awake!

If I can, I block a whole day, sometimes two. I go away if I can. It is very hard for me to find a quiet place at home, so getting away to our mountain house alone or with a few writing friends works very well.

Other times I can catch a half hour in the car, or in the waiting room at the doctor. A plan to maximize these little bits of time helps. I take about 10 minutes each Sunday to look at my calendar to make my plan. Something like:

Monday: 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. – Draft Chili Cook-off Scene

Tuesday: Doctor Appointment – Review Chili Cook-off Scene

Wednesday night: 30 minutes – Draft Blog entry

Thursday: get to gymnastics pick-up early and review blog entry in the car

Friday: too busy

Saturday: 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. – Draft Chapter 11

Sunday: Read Chris’ pages for critique group next week

I think a schedule would help anyone stay on track. But don’t be too hard on yourself. You can always reschedule the Chili Cook-off Scene for next week, and that’s okay.

Lastly, I would advise anyone who wants to be published to join a critique group. My critique group is invaluable. We’ve been meeting for six years. They’ve become very close friends and are a critical piece of my writing process. We really keep each other going.

Cynsational Notes

See a Sneak Peek at Recipes in Just Add Magic from Cindy Callaghan.
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