Sorry to lump a bunch of things together in one post but I am playing catch-up. Yes, I know that’s the same old game I always play but hey, when it’s a core competency, you work it.
Many thanks to
Also Lerner’s website shows several reviews up for Robert Smalls Sails to Freedom.
“Newly competent readers are likely to thrill to this well told story of the Civil War hero, Robert Smalls…. a valuable addition to a reading tutor’s collection as well as an excellent selection for a classroom…” –Children’s Literature Network
“Brown makes this an exciting, well-told story that may spark readers to search for more information.” –The Horn Book Guide
“Offers full-page color illustrations and provides believable text that captures the story of the slave boy who grew up to be a free man.” –MultiCultural Review
And last but not least, a while back Mother Reader tagged me for the 5 interesting things about me meme. Interesting is such a relative term (in my case it is probably just plain weird) but I hope these will do the trick.
#1 I roller skated competitively back when roller skates had four wheels. By that I mean the fancy dances similar to what you see people doing on ice skates in the Olympics only for some reason we never could get roller skating to be an Olympic event. We used to have an “anything you can do I can do better” challenge that went back and forth with the local ice rink. People would think it was easier on roller skates but in a lot of ways it was more difficult because the skates were heavier and when dancing, it was common to lock wheels with a partner (or useful) and crash. Usually in a very unflattering manner. I went to the rink just about every day after school and was pretty dedicated until I discovered boys. Then it was hormones fighting with skating lessons and the hormones usually won.
#2 My first boyfriend was the one who told me it was time for me to start shaving my legs. We were at the rink and a bunch of girls were all crowded around him and he was looking at everyone’s legs and he made a face. Later (after the makeout session behind the Foster Freeze) he told me it was time to shave my legs and to be sure to above the knees because the skating outfits were really short.
#3 My favorite comfort food is creamy Jif peanut on fresh white bread with thick slices of sweet pickles. I invented it when I was about 10 and have been eating it ever since, especially when I am feeling down.
#4 I once crashed my motorcycle on the lawn in front of the police department. Okay, crash might be a bit extreme. I was at a stop sign and when I hit the gas, the bike did a rooster tail sort of hop out of my hands and landed on the lawn. I had had the bike less than a day. I don’t remember driving it much on the street after that.
#5 I have a weird thing about shoes with laces. First, when I buy new shoes I have to take all the laces out and relace them so they start with the even part under the holes so the laces come UP and not go DOWN. I have no idea why but I can’t stand to wear shoes until I have fixed them. And if I retie one shoe I have to retie the other one at the same time so they both have the same amount of tightness.
Yep, I was right. More weird than interesting. Sigh.
Thank you to everyone who offered support and advice for holding it all together the other night. I hesitated between posting or not posting because I knew I could go on and on and whine and where’s the fun in that? I guess that’s one of those things I need to accept. I am not the type of writer/person/blogger who will be posting blogs that are full of fun stuff. I wish I had that kind of personality but I just don’t. I am an angsty person with angsty thoughts who writes angsty stuff. At least I have friends that post things that make me laugh. (If you haven’t read the latest from lisayee you simply must, but don’t be drinking anything at the same time.)
What I will endeavor to do is get this blog back on track about writing. Saying that, there is, at last, a review up for Robert Smalls Sails to Freedom. And a nice one at that which contains the lovely phrase, “Brown’s telling is vivid . . .”
In other writing news, last night I did something that was very difficult for me; I turned down several work-for-hire projects and crossed a couple of articles off my to-do list. In the past I have always snapped up every writing opportunity that came my way, never knowing where it might lead. I need to accept that I don’t have to say yes to everything. It’s hard because part of the saying yes is the ego gratification that comes with someone wanting your work enough to pay for it. Heady stuff. But as my brilliant husband pointed out to me, at this moment in my career I am in need of words more than money. Not that money isn’t good, great even, but I don’t need to chase every few hundred dollar opportunity that comes my way. I need to make words. Lots and lots of words.
We were talking about my new book project, MTLB. The opening scene has the main character in a new home, a home that is much different that the home she grew up in, a home on the wrong side of town where lots of kids have a parent or sibling in jail, where there are bars on the windows, where roaches and rats roam all too freely.
I asked him why was it so hard to let go of the work-for-hire project and the articles and all the other things on my to do list? Why can’t I just focus on my novels? Why am I so afraid to write this book?
He said, ”Because you remember the rats and the roaches.”
But I am not in that place any longer.
I need to remember that.
As important as promotion is to getting the word out about an author’s books, it’s often the most difficult (and time consuming) thing to do until you’re so famous that it seems like you don’t need worry about it anymore. I rely on the kindness of friends and strangers to help spread the word. That being said, it seems like blogs are becoming one of the top ways that booklovers share their love (and dislike) of various books. Not long ago,
Now’s the part where I ask for a little help of my own. My latest book, Robert Smalls Sails to Freedom, is out now. It’s an easy reader, On My Own History title from Millbrook/Carolrhodda. Robert Smalls was a slave in South Carolina during the Civil War. He worked (handing over his money to his master) on a sidewheel steamer and knew every inch of the Carolina waterways. When he got his chance, he stole the ship he was working on and sailed himself, his family, and a few friends, right out of the harbor under the eyes of the Confederate troops. He handed the ship over to the Union Navy. For the rest of the war Smalls assisted the Union Navy. After the war Smalls went on to become a South Carolina congressman. He is considered one of the first African American heroes of the Civil War.
I haven’t had nearly the time I needed or wanted to promote this book in time for Black History Month next month. If you are a teacher or a librarian or know someone who is a teacher or a librarian or a homeschool parent or anyone who is looking to read about an interesting slice of history, please consider taking a look at this book. And I hope you will help me spread the word. If anyone can, bloggers can and will.
I have more time to get the word out on this next book, but as many of you know, it takes time to build a buzz, and that’s what my publisher and I hope to do with my middle grade verse novel, Hugging the Rock. It will be published in the fall of 2006 by Tricycle Press. This weekend at ALA Midwinter Tricycle is handing out excerpts from the book with information on how librarians and reviewers can request a galley. If you weren’t able to make it to ALA and pick up a copy of your own, never fear. Download an excerpt of Hugging the Rock in PDF form right here on my website.
Fall books have a higher chance of being lost in all the holiday stuff so please help me spread the word about the availability of the excerpt to any librarians and reviewers you might know. And if you like what you read, please let me and/or Tricycle know.
How far can a blog reach? Let’s find out, and thank you, in advance.
I’m back, mostly. Exhausted? Very. Writing much? Not a word. I know, I bet some of you thought I was off writing the really really bad thing I mentioned a couple of weeks ago but you know life sometimes gets in the way of what we want to do. Actually I realized I had a major problem with the pivotal scene because there would have to be some legal ramifications dealt with in the book and it wasn’t where I wanted the focus to go. Plus I realized it would probably remove the mom from the story which wasn’t what I wanted to do. But then, in that way that plots do, it all turned on me and it might work after all but I need to talk to a cop and a lawyer to find out what would happen in that particular situation. Is all that about as clear as mud?
I’ve been so busy that there’s not been a lot of time to think about writing. The end of the fiscal year at work meant tons of long days and lots of working with numbers (and you know how much I don’t love numbers.) My husband who never travels for work is now bouncing all over the globe for a week gone, a few days home, then gone again. He just got back from Sydney and left this morning for France. I think it’s Singapore after that. Because he doesn’t usually travel things have gone all topsy turvy around the house.
Then there’s still the publicity stuff which is really a full time job that I can’t work on full time because I already have a full time job. All the brochures and flyers are printed. I’ve almost finished sanitizing the mailing list. My focus was to hit California hard because I figure I need to make a name for myself in my own backyard. I’ve figured out who gets what in their envelopes. Schools that are within an easy driving distance from me get the full packet including my brochure. Bookstores get the Oliver announcement postcard. Ditto the libraries. Schools not within driving distance will probably get the promo stuff plus the traveling Oliver flyer. But wait, there’s more. I got my copies of my new book from Millbrook, Robert Smalls Sails to Freedom which meant that I had to quickly design a new postcard, order it, then go back and refigure who needs to get both postcards. Then I had to factor in new places to send to since the book takes place in South Carolina and Robert Smalls who started life as a slave went on to become a congressman for South Carolina. So back to the mailing list to build up the south and Civil War angles and oh, Black History month. The result is that I am about to start stuffing close to 2,000 envelopes and will send out about 1,000 postcards on their own. It’s exciting having two books come out so close together but it’s a lot of work too. Robert Smalls is out officially in January though it looks like Amazon says they are shipping now. I know the first batch of books have gone out for review and now we’re at the waiting process again. Felicia Marshall, whom I believe lives in Texas, did all the illustrations and I just love them. Here’s the cover:
Cynthia Leitich Smith posted an interview with me and the illustrator for Oliver’s Must-Do List. I have to say that being interviewed is much harder than it might look. I love the way interview questions really make you think about the process.
Haemi Balgassi sent me a big batch of love when she blogged about reading Oliver with her daughter Lousia and then the divine Miss Princess Hello Kitty blogged about Oliver herself which gave me a wonderful warm fuzzy when I needed it most.
I’m off to start printing mailing labels but in-between I’ll try to catch up on everyone’s life for the last couple of weeks.