How I feel about book bloggers. Honestly.

February 4, 2011
I realize that my entire readership isn’t familiar with the book blogger world, so let me try to quickly explain. Just like there are many writers who blog about writing, there are readers who blog about what they read. Some of them are young (Melina from Reading Vacation is awesome, smart, and eleven!) Some are twenty-something’s still loving the YA genre, and some are moms like me (a favorite of mine is Maw Book Blogs) These bloggers are part of a very large, sometimes insular, constantly growing, encouraging community. Some are aspiring writers or hope to be in publishing someday (which is awesome), but many blog about books simply because they love books and want to share the love.
Publishers often send these bloggers free advanced reader copies in the hopes that bloggers will review the books and create buzz. Publishers also schedule blog tours with writers who are interviewed, write guest posts, or offer fun tidbits and spoilers. Bloggers also write writers asking for books to review (usually free, sometimes internationally, which is not cheap) OR to do interviews. And there can be a little bit of a hierarchy with these bloggers based on how often they blog, what kinds of posts they do, how many followers they have, how long the blog has been around, how legit the reviews are and who they know.
Some authors feel that sending books or ARCs to book bloggers is a waste because of the tightness of the community. Yes, they have 700 people reading their blog, but those 700 readers are other bloggers getting free books. Money dump to people not spending money, and that buzz is contained to one internet beehive. They think bloggers are rude and entitled. They think marketing efforts should be extended to "real teens", ones who are buying books.
And there ARE some bloggers like this. Certainly. Some bloggers write with a crazy request and send snippy emails the next day when you don’t get back ASAP. One of the most horrific publishing experiences I’ve witnessed happened last year at ALA with a blogger. I was talking to an author who is very well respected, has won numerous awards, and is a dignified and kind person. A blogger pushed, PUSHED, in front of other people in line, many librarians and teachers, explaining, "I need to get by. I’m a blogger" like that word was synonymous with VIP. Bad Blogger proceeded to ask Respected Author if she could tell the author everything wrong with her book. Respected Author made a joke, but really said, Um, no? But Bad Blogger did not listen. I stood there in this sort of dumbfounded fascination as Bad Blogger proceeded to insult this poor author on everything from her writing skills to all the other authors who were better. Respected Author nodded her head and shot me some "Is this really happening?" looks. And this blogger had fangs. I feel I should note that. She then turned to me and said, "What do you write?" I unveiled a sparkly pink bookmark. "Here. I’m sure you would LOVE my princess book. Seems like your kind of book!" Now at least the insults were directed at me. If I could go back in time, I probably would have told this girl to learn some manners but again, I was in shock. Can you imagine someone just walking up to you and belittling your livelihood like that? She ended the convo by saying, "But oh, I love authors. So can you both sign my shirt?"
Now, if that was my only experience with book bloggers, I would probably… not be a fan. I would probably delete every interview request & tell my publisher to please, PLEASE, do not give ARCs out to bloggers! So if an author is speaking negatively about bloggers, you have to understand they may be jaded for a reason. It’s always sad when the minority ruins the reputation of the majority, but there it is.
But Bad Blogger is not the norm. In fact, I would say this is my only truly negative experience with book bloggers (oh, except for the one who wrote a bad review about my book and than emailed letting me know. Y’all, if you don’t like our books, that is cool. But please don’t write and tell us that. I turn off my Google alerts when I’m writing for a reason, and it’s not helpful to my creative process when you email saying "Thanks for the free book! It sucks!) 
Most book bloggers are wonderful. They are giving and respectful and enthusiastic and gracious. They are the very best readers a writer can have. They not only read our books, they write thoughtful reviews on blogs AND goodreads AND amazon AND Barnes and noble, all of which helps generate sales. They share books they love with friends both in and outside the blogsphere. A high school friend of mine, Jen, recently wrote me asking which YA blog she should follow now that one of her favorite bloggers was closing shop. Jen trusted this blogger to give her good recommendations on a genre she didn’t always read. In short, Jen read the blog and then went out and BOUGHT BOOKS.  Could we sell books without bloggers? Yes. Do we sell more because of bloggers? Yes.
And bloggers are readers. Voracious readers, often reading a couple of books a week. Not all of those books are free. For every book they get free, they probably buy one more, and turn and tell ten friends about that book too. Also, I’ve had signings were bloggers drove miles to come and BUY a book. At that very same conference, I had a blogger named James (bookchicclub) bring a worn ARC for me to sign. This was after Fang Girl, and it was so refreshing to see him. It’s humbling and amazing that these readers admire writers so much, especially in an age when other teens limit their reading to OMG! or US WEEKLY. And they are essentially writing book reports FOR FUN. By all means, give these kids (and adults!) books. I’m sure if book blogs were around when I was younger, I would have been all over that. Most of my friends were not readers, so it’s a great way to connect with others who share that passion. I am Pro Blogger. Someone make me a badge. 
Let me end with another experience. We had a blogger lunch with some other 2010 debut authors in LA before we’d debuted. We were sitting outside the restaurant, waiting for our table, when basketball great Magic Johnson walked by. I couldn’t speak, I was just kind of pointing and making gurgling sounds. But these teens did not notice, because at that same moment, author Jay Asher walked up. These girls were squealing and gushing and completely oblivious of Magic Johnson. They even asked, "Magic who?" Writers are their rock stars. This excitement should be celebrated. One of these bloggers, Khy from Frenetic Reader, brought her mom. Her mom said they really encouraged Khy’s blog because, hello, she is reading books and writing about themes and literary trends FOR FUN. And Khy also brought me a little gift for my upcoming book. Not because she wanted free stuff from me. Not because she was looking for an "in". Because she is a reader. While other girls are obsessing over Paris Hilton’s shoe choice, girls like Khy are following literature. Please, please nurture this. Please let these younger readers grow up and become intelligent, informed adults because of those habits they started, potentially via a blog. Please let these adult bloggers continue to recognize YA literature as quality reading. If it means I have to send out a few bookmarks or a signed book or two to encourage this and be a larger part of that community, then yeah. I’m going to. 
Unless fang girl asks. I have something else I’d love to send that girl.

**edited to add: See what I mean? Amy over at Reading TeensReading Tweens (which I had never read, and it’s for tweens, and I can do a whole other post of my love for TWEEN bloggers) just wrote with these badges. Use them! Badges! Badges! We need stinkin’ badges (from Troop Beverly Hills. Please, kids, watch it)


GloMo #2 School Visits

January 10, 2011

 The third princess book is due next month. I thought I knew what was happening, and then some unexpected things (and characters. And settings) happened, and now I am whispering curses at my computer. And it’s not really computer’s fault, it’s my brain’s. Stupid prefrontal cortex.
So! It’s time for some optimism! If you recall, I previously shared a publishing GLOMO (TM) (meaning Glorious Moment) and figure it’s time for another cup of sunshine. Which brings us to one of my most favorite parts of the published author experience so far.
School Visits.
NOT to be confused with book signings. Book signings can be great, and I’ve had a few that are def. on the GloMo list. But I’ve also had empty seats and apologetic book sellers, and those feel more like naked-in-front-of-school nightmares. You walk into a book signing, and never know if someone is going to show up. School visits, well, the students HAVE to show up. It’s the law–ha ha!
So school visits are fabulous, even when there are technical glitches or scheduling mistakes or rowdy students or… ugh, the time I get lost driving there and have to rush into an auditorium filled with expectant kids. Bring it. Because the pros… oh the pros! I get to be in the classroom again, teaching. I interact with readers. And the teachers and librarians are fantastic.
 If I were to think back to all the schools I’ve visited since release, I could probably share a special memory from each. But I have Book 3 to get back to. So you’re going to get a couple of pictures instead…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it forever–writing a princess book is golden because the teachers and librarians go a little crazy with The Pink. And you’d think that would alienate about half to students, but I give one boy a tiara and they are puddy–PUDDY!–in my hands. It’s been an unexpected bonus, because I didn’t know if a commercial girly book like mine would have any interest. But, really, kids want to know how a book is made, where an author gets ideas, how stories develop, and a million other universal questions I’m happy to answer again and again.

A Cupcake Bar. I don’t think there’s more to say than that.

Yep. Those are PRINCESS FOR HIRE cards. Yep. I sleep with them under my pillow.

These girls had to write essays about real princesses in order to come to a special lunch with me involving tiaras and balloons and yummy treats. Plus, this librarian was so enthusiastic. They all are. I heart librarians.
You can see why I named my next book THE ROYAL TREATMENT

SKYPE: Connecting with kids all over

(Yes, that’s me on the screen. And look. That girl is smiling)
Because I have little kids and because I have another book to write and because I still have a garage full of boxes to unpack, I’m limited in how many visits I can do outside of my area. And of course I want to do more, I want to talk with kids everywhere, I’m very excited about the opportunities skype offers me. I’m still new at it, as I’ve just started promoting SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD, but so far these visits have been really fun. Takes very little time out of my schedule and I still can get into the classroom. These one is with Kate Messner–writer and educator and marvel. The students had their questions prepared on note cards, and then once the conversation started going we had some great back and forth.
(And huge PS–I still have about 10 Sean Griswold’s Head ARCS available. If you are a teacher or librarian (grades 6+), email me and you can have one. Along with a free skype visit. And bookmarks. And all you have to do is pay me in smiles).


(This one had Princess for Hire bingo with m&ms. Three things of beauty combined)
Fifth grade was my favorite years of elementary school. There are tons of reasons why–the kids in my class, the GATE activities, the honor choir–but really it was Miss Dean. She was a wonderful teacher who exposed us to fantastic literature in an exciting way. In Miss Dean’s class, I got to design my own Bridge to Teribithia (the first book that made me sob), role play the part of Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, listen in breathless suspense as she read aloud from Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, and agonize over each book report. Not because it was agony, but because I couldn’t decide on one project.
Fifth grade was also the year I started to write. Journals, stories, poems. We had a publishing center at our school where we could make our stories into a real book! And there were writing contests and book fairs and exposure to the arts. I became a writer because of my start at MJ Christensen Elementary.
Now Miss Dean is a librarian. A wonderful, fun, informed librarian. And it was a total treat for me to go and speak with students at her new school. Big bonus? My old principa, Ms. Grey,l came for the lunch as well, and we later met up so I could sign books for her adorable granddaughters. Remember how special you felt if the principal even remembered your name? I mean, for good reasons?

Sharing a GloMo

November 8, 2010

I’ve been a published author for over six months now. Still a baby at this, but I have learned a few things since selling my book, even more since it’s release.
One big one? This is a tough business. You may go from the ultimate high to a low, low, low, sometimes over the course of a week or a day. Some scenerios I’ve witnessed, experienced, heard rumored, or simply made up, all starring YOU.

+Your book that sold for six figures only sells a handful of copies, and your little-book-that-could takes the world by storm.
+You sell a book, work on it with an editor for months, and then have that contract canceled when your editor gets fired/moves/decides the manuscript doesn’t work
+You have strange math dreams at night, all centered around The Amazon Ranking Equation.
+You get five offers from agents to represent your hot story, and then never sell the book
+You receive emails from anonymous authors, asking you for advice/tips/an "in", and often assume that YOU are their salvation, that YOU can get them published if you were just nice enough to read their entire manuscript and edit it. For free. While you’re on deadline.
+Bad reviews, good reviews, no reviews. People will write and say your book is meaningless dribble. You’ll think they’re crazy. Others will write and say it’s brilliant. They are crazy too.
+Your cover (which you had no control over)  looks like your editor’s third grader designed it with crayons and clip art. Amazon reviews say "Great book! Too bad the cover sucked". Or, the cover Gods created The Ultimate Cover, and reviews read "Great cover! Too bad the book sucked."
+Hollywood WANTS your story. Agents, producers, directors, actors are all stumbling to attach to your book. On Monday. On Tuesday, you are old news.
+You worry that you are tweeting and blogging and facebooking into a dark void, that all your social networking and marketing efforts are for naught, that librarians are using your precious advanced reader copies as spare toilet paper.
+The editorial process for your first book is so rigourous, you start to wonder if you can ever write another one, and spend months, maybe even years, paralyzed at the thought of writing something else. 
+Your publisher doesn’t buy your next book. Neither does another publisher.
+You’re about to go on submission, when you check recent sales, only to discover that book JUST LIKE YOURS sold. Yesterday.
+Your writing friends will be more successful, more charming, more clever, more renowned. Or worse, that smug, Look! At! How! Wonderful! I! Am! bestseller will continue to write more bestsellers, until her smug threatens to take over the world.

The Angst list, my friends, goes on forever. I have seen authors, once full of optimism and sparkle, grow bitter and jaded. And often, it’s understandable that they do. I’ve cried and squeeled with many author friends during this process. Nothing can prepare you for what it’s like to be an author, because every single journey is wholly unique.

So where am I? Still dancing on a publishing rainbow? Yes. And no. But mostly… yes.

That’s not to say I haven’t had disappointments. If you’d asked me when I first sold where I thought I would be, I don’t know if HERE would be my guess. But I still count myself lucky, because for all the dark days, the perks are still exceedingly perkalicious. The perks that I call GloMo’s (short for Glorious Moments). GloMo’s are often unexpected, and can leave you shining for days. They’re the bright spots that aspiring writers dream about as they are rejected again and again. They are gifts, lovingly folded in our writer’s hope chests, and I cherish every one.
And this week, I want to share a couple of my personal GloMo’s with you…

On Friday, I was out running errand and impulsively took my girls to our local Barnes and Noble. I’ve finally figured out bookstore trips with my girls–I let them get one activity book/journal/Dora Crapalog IF I can help them pick out a picture book/early chapter book I know they’ll enjoy. I also like to wave to my book, which is heavily stocked at a couple of stores around me. This in and of itself is a GloMo, especially since my book is no longer a New Release in most stores. I’d just happily purchased my girls’ books when I noticed a display at the front of the store–Christmas books for children in need. Any book could be donated, but they had a couple on display for specific kids. And sandwiched between Rick Riodarn and a paranormal YA was the very pink PRINCESS FOR HIRE.
Honestly? Seeing it on display like that made my stomach flip. A little girl wanted my book. LIke, of any book in that store, she wanted mine. Or maybe a seller had decided she wanted mine. I don’t know. Either way, PRINCESS FOR HIRE would her Christmas present. One of few, I’m sure.
So I bought my own book. I asked the employee if I could personally sign it to the girl (Taylor, which is also my maiden name. Somehow, made the Glo Mo even cooler!). The employee was suprised, didn’t know what the rules were, but said, "Well, I’m sure it’ll make her day. Go for it." I scrawled an inscription with my pink sharpie and walked out of the store swinging my bags.

Logically, I realize many girls have read my book, and might even get it for a Christmas gift (and don’t you think Princess for Hire MAKES A GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFT?). But that unexpected experience warmed me up as I attacked Princess For Hire THREE this weekend. It lingered in my mind as I figured out my marketing plan for SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD.
Because take away all the angst, all the sparkles, all the business and there is this…
I wrote that book, and someone, somewhere, will read it.
6 months out, and that’s still a marvel to me.

The Big 29: Take 2

September 16, 2010

 I’m a month late in blogging this. My computer has been in the shop THREE times over the past 3 weeks, and finally I believe it is healed and well. It’s pretty much a new computer now, all free. Thank you Apple. 
For my birthday last month, my hubby took me here:

Yes! Venice. Or the Venetian in Las Vegas. One or the other. If you’ve read PRINCESS FOR HIRE, you know that this place holds a special place in my heart. We had a magical time watching all the tourists watch each other. Also, I ordered three desserts in honor of my thirties. Holy cannoli, good stuff.
I’ll admit, I was dreading the birthday. Why? I don’t know. I honestly think it has something to do with this movie:

I was 24 when it came out, and I remember being so confused. 30 seemed so… old. You’re so settled and adjusted and on track. What is fabulous about that?
Well, here I am. And it IS fabulous! I turned in my third book the night before my birthday, and I’ve finally moved to my hometown for good, and I’m ready for this next phase of my life to start. 
Although lingerie dress? Not happening.

The Contemps

August 31, 2010

 Last spring, I spoke to my friend Lisa Schroeder about the Market, a scary word referencing what’s selling, what isn’t, who bought what and what trend is hot. Basically, all the stuff writers try to push away as we Create that later comes back to give us The Angst. We concluded that there should be a group for contemporary writers. Contemporary–you know, real things happening to real kids in real life. We both write in other genres (and I love me some princess power), but it seemed to us that contemporary fiction wasn’t getting the love it deserved. So we brainstormed some authors and Lisa took off. Lisa is an astounding organizer and a wonderful leader, and it is through her efforts that The Contemps ( was formed.

Celebrate realistic YA with The Contemps!

The group includes 21 YA authors with books coming out from Sept 2010-August 2011. Our mission is simple–to spotlight contemporary fiction for young adults through blog posts, author events, and (over)sharing from our teen years. We have fun things planned all year long, including a contest going on NOW through November 15, 2010.
Read 18 of our 21 books and enter to win ALL 21 BOOKS. Visit the Get Involved page for more information. And please take time to read through the wonderful blog posts and the comments. There are some great discussions happening.

I’ll be focusing on my YA novel, SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD (Bloomsbury, March 1, 2011) in this group. I realized as I started to blog that I never shared the still tentative cover for SEAN. I personally love it, as I think it captures the quirkiness found in my tale of first love, first loss, and… spandex. Because no story is complete without synthetic fabric.
Drumroll please…