3 S.R. Johannes: 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Grinch Who Stole EVERYTHING from a little boy.

On Sunday, my parents brought down an electric train to go around our Christmas tree. They found it at a store and knew my kids would love it.

You see, my 3.5 year old son LOVES trains. I think he even wants to be a conductor when he grows up. He was thrilled when they walked in with the box. His eyes lit up and he jumped around. I think he even squealed.


We told him that it was for him AND his sister so they both had to "the s word" --- SHARE.

Then, the devil took over my beautiful angel boy who is usually the first to say "Thank you", "Please" and "excuse me."

Now, Devil turns to my parents and asks them to take back the train.

I was mortified.

I asked him to thank his grandparents for the train --and he REFUSED. So, I told him he was not allowed to play with the train until he showed some manners. He proceeded to have a hissy fit asking my parents to take back the train! So I calmly walked him to his room and told him to stay there until he wanted to come out to apologize to --and thank --my parents

2 HOURS LATER - my son still REFUSED to be polite and was actually very rude. This was not your average kid just not saying thank you b/c he was shy or tired or didnt know better. He was mean.

My parents ended up leaving, my son ate dinner in his room and went to bed quietly, while I stayed up and steamed.

What kind of child have I raised that he would be that blatantly disrespectful?
Why was he doing this?
How do I teach him to be grateful?

The next morning, my son woke up and... what do you think he wanted to do first?
.....you git it....play with the train.

Grinch - "I'm sorry but you will not play with the train until you call and thank mimi and papa. do you understand?"

Son - "Yes."

Grinch - "Do you want to call them so you can play with it?"

Son - "Not yet."

This went on for a couple hours.

Now, I am not the strictest of parents. I tend to talk my kids to death and listen - probably too much. But the way my son was behaving was unacceptable to me. I tried to explain that no matter what people give us, we need to be grateful b/c they are thoughts wrapped up in gifts.

So I say: "If you cant be grateful for gifts, then you are going to lose other privileges. Every half hour until you do."

Son (while shrugging) - "Okay."

Grinch: Do you want to call mimi and papa so you dont' lose anything?

Son: "No"

This unsuspecting threat started the beginning of the end of this loooonnnggg day. Let me say upfront that I had NO IDEA the will power of this child, especially a 3 year old. I really did not think he would make it for 3 minutes after I took his trains or cars out of his room. I was sure he would cave.

So - in hind site - I've learned - be careful what you threaten b/c we all know from Dr Phil and Oprah that if you SAY you are going to do something, you HAVE to follow through with it.

So - my son was sent to his room because his sister earned a movie that he was now not allowed to watch. He started playing in his room - happily.

Meanwhile 30 min after that, I began to remove things from his room. All the while steaming mad, grumbling to myself....begging him to make the call...praying to God that I was not going to have to empty the room because then I would have to clean it all up!

(for those tallying - we are now at about 3-4 hours now, not including the 2 hours the night before and it is about 11 am. Oh yeah, and for the record - I am already exhausted due to daughter having strep throat all weekend and me fighting a tummy virus. In a nutshell - I am NOT HAPPY!)

About an hour later -- --my son comes out and hands me a couple of toys.

Son - "Mommy, you can take this one."

At this very moment I lost it. Mommy left my body and the Grinch took over.

"That's it. Forget every 30 minutes. You lose everything until you can apologize for your behavior and thank mimi and papa!"

I began taking EVERYTHING out of his room. Toys, 200 books, Christmas decorations, broken crayons, stuffed animals, even dust bunnies were tumbling for cover. Side note: Not to mention I realized how dirty his room really was - even though a cleaner comes in every other week. Its amazing what you will find when you clear a room.

I dont even think I left a light bulb. I was the Grinch who stole EVERYTHING. I literally was chunking stuff over my shoulder into the hall repeatedly saying"I cant believe you're making me do this." Tears fell and yelling commenced. It had been 4 hours at this point and I wanted this to end so I could put my sick kid and the Devil in front of the TV so I could rest my tummy.

The hall way was now impassable. So I fall over everything to get into kitchen and try to calm down.

Grinch (face red instead of green) : "Don't come out until you are ready to be polite and grateful for your things! I will slip your food under the door. I will break you!!!!"

Now maybe this sounds harsh to you. And for the record - I have never claimed to be mother of the year. But besides the fact that I forced a kid to stay in his room with nothing - just because he didn't thank someone or was rude isn't the real problem. Because believe me - at this point I am wishing I could take it all back and sing Kum Bah Yah with my kids holding my hands.

The real problem? I said this is what I was going to do so now I am backed into a corner. I either follow through or lose control of kid forever and he becomes total psycho and doesn't respect authority when he gets older. probably in jail. Yes that might be extreme but that is where my head was in the moment. Definitely in a state of insanity.

It was not about "Thank you's" anymore. It was now a "battle of the wills". This was setting a precedent for other issues to come.

Hubby says while sitting in lush office at work 30 miles away. "I don't care what happens, don't cave. His entire life is riding all on your shoulders. Stay strong. I gotta go take some clients out to fancy lunch. Have a nice day.

Grinch - "Eat some lobster for me."

Daughter said: "What is wrong with Gray? I've never seen him do this. He's crazy. I'd never take it this far. Especially with my toys."

So - where were we. Oh yes. 3.5 year old sitting in a room with four walls, a flat pillow, a bean bag, and a few scared dust bunnies.

How long do you think he lasted with NOTHING?

Do you know he sat in that room for...4 more hours...

yes a 3.5 year old held out against his mom with NOTHING (not even a bathroom or bread and water) for a total of 7.5 hours!

I've never seen my son take anything even close to this far. For 4 more hours this kid came out 1,000 times, tried to sneak toys back in his room, threw a car at me. It was insane. It was exhausting. I was baffled.

I was like a lion trapped in a cage, pacing back and forth in front of hall door, staring at my clock mumbling (and probably drooling with insanity), "I cant believe this. What am I going to do" over and over and over. For 4 more hours.

At 3 pm (this started at 6:30 am) , I slumped into a chair and sent in reinforcements - yes - my 7 year old daughter. She wanted it to stop as much as me.

Daughter - mom can i go talk to him?

Grinch - "Sure honey. See if you can stop this insanity."

Daughter goes to see incarcerated son - "Gray, mommy is sad. Mimi and papa ae sad. Yo need to stop this craziness. It's gone too far. Please please, say you are sorry and think you so you can come out and play with me."

15 min later - he comes out and yells with a big smile on his face (as if he's ready for a baseball game or a trip to get ice cream.) "Mommy, I'm ready." This is after me sitting and talking, begging, yelling, taking things away. His sister begs him to stop so she can play with him and he does just that.

He called both my parents - apologized and thanked them for the gift. And his day went on as if nothing had ever happened. me? Nervous breakdown and emotional eating.

So what did I learn from this?

1) My will power sucks - After watching a 3.5 year old hold out 7.5 hours - I realize that I can't even go a day without chocolate. Not to mention, I was just about to crack when he did.

2) Once again - my mothering capabilities. Do you know i scoured all my child raising books during this 7.5 hours and could find nothing of help? Who do you turn to?

3) I am convinced my son was a monk or a hobo in a past live - someone who fasted without food for days and could stare at blank walls for 7.5 hours without going insane.

4) my son looooooves his sister.

5) my son has made all Tauruses proud.

6) I am in trouble when he is a teen. let's hope my daughter's will power is much weaker.

7) Never EVER EVER say you are going to do something unless you think through the consequences. Unless you can truly back it up WITHOUT going insane. You never know how far your kids are prepared to go.

It might just be further than you think.

Tell me - have your kids held out for a long time like this to stand their ground? Have you taken everything to prove a point? Please tell me I am not the only one.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Josh Adams Pitch Contest Winners!

Congrads to all the winners listed below!

All winner(s) and honorary mentions can contact me for specific instructions at sjohannes@bilaninc.com.

Here is a note from Josh himself announcing the winners: (isn't he sweet! :)


Hi Shelli,

I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the agent pitch contest. It was a great opportunity to see a range of stories, and it was surprisingly difficult to choose favorites from among all the promising pitches.

In some cases among those I did not select, I loved the titles, but wasn't grabbed by the pitches; in other cases, it was the other way around. Other times, writers had me until one key word threw me off; or, I'd be intrigued, but a bit confused by the need to cram too much detail into too few words. But in every case among those I selected, a simple but effective message emerged—and I'm excited by the possibilities.

In the spirit of the season, I've selected multiple winners, along with honorable mentions.

Winners: (full manuscript submission to Josh personally)
Honorable Mentions: ( full synopsis or query letter to Josh personally)
Happy Holidays,
Josh Adams



Thanks for being loyal followers and happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Agent Pitch Contest starts today! Extended Deadline!


It's time for our December agent twitter pitch contest!

Today, the pitch is being judged by Josh Adams from Adams Literary.

Here are some other interviews to help you get to know their taste and style:
Josh Adams Interview
Agent Spotlight on Josh Adams
Tracey Adams Interview

Gets to submit the manuscript pitched for consideration! (Thanks Josh! :)

When: Begins today, (Thurs Dec 9th) at 10AM EST and ends tomorrow (Fri, Dec 10) at midnight EST (I will close comments when it officially ends so if you get a comment in, you are counted.)

Why Twitter pitch? Because if you can't get your book in a Twitter pitch, you need to work on narrowing down the story and hook. You can check your character count either on Word (file, Tools/Word Count/Characters with spaces), on Twitter, or here.

  • Your pitch MUST only be 140 characters to be counted so please check it twice! This includes spaces and punctuation so you might have to be creative. If your pitch is over 140 characters when I test it, it will not be eligible.
  • Your pitch must be for children. No adult books. They do not represent them.
  • This is for unagented/unpublished book writers only. (if you've published articles or essays - you may enter!)
  • You can only enter ONCE so choose wisely!
  • You must be a follower of my blog (and I'd love to see you on Twitter too). It's only fair to those who are .
What To include: In the comments you MUST leave the following information to be considered:
  • title of book
  • genre
  • your Twitter (140 characters) pitch
  • your email
Title - Untraceable
Genre - YA Survival Suspense
Email - sjohannes@bilaninc.com

Pitch - When her forest-ranger father disappears,Grace uses her survival skills to search the NC mtns & finds a secret group plotting against nature

References: Here are a few articles on writing short, one sentence pitches:

Nathan Bransford (agent)
Rachel Gardner (agent)
Query Tracker
Scribe Chat
140 character pitch

Winner(s) will be announced next week!

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Josh Adams from Adams Literary Stops by to Chat!

Josh Adams from Adams Literary stops by before our Agent Pitch Contest tomorrow.

Hey Josh, tell us about yourself/your agency.

Together with my wife Tracey, I run Adams Literary, a full-service, boutique literary agency exclusively representing children's and young adult authors and artists. Given the focus of your blog, your readers may be interested to know that in addition to my editorial background, I received my MBA from Columbia Business School, where I won the marketing award—and, prior to co-founding Adams Literary with Tracey, worked for several years in marketing and brand strategy. These are all things that have served me well, and perhaps uniquely, as a literary agent for the children's and YA markets.

How do you, as an agent, encourage your authors to market themselves?

The first thing I'd encourage our—or any authors—to do is to write truly unforgettable books. Their work is their strongest marketing tool. But beyond that, I'd encourage them to build a network of contacts and friends in the industry, to attend conferences as participants and/or faculty, to line up school and library visits so they can connect with their readers, to think creatively about publicity, and, especially for young adult authors, to use social media to their advantage.

How have things changed with agencies promoting their author books? What things do agents/literary agencies do to help promote their author's books?

At Adams Literary, we've always tried to be forward-looking in promoting and marketing our authors' work. While it may seem rather quaint now in hindsight, when we started the agency in 2004, we were among the first literary agencies to have a web site and the first that we know of to publicly provide their client list (some surprisingly still do not). While the site is certainly helpful for people to learn about us as an agency (and most agencies use their sites that way), we view it, and indeed everything we do, as a way for people in the industry—and readers in general—to learn more about our authors and their work. Being tireless advocates of our clients' work—and publicizing them at every opportunity, including at regional and national writers' conferences—is one of our main roles as literary agents.

For people in the industry, we produce professionally designed, full-color printed and e-catalogs for major international fairs (Bologna and Frankfurt), highlighting our authors' work and available rights. For years, we've produced a newsletter that has gone to more than 1,000 people, including editors and publishers here and abroad, although more recently, it has been largely replaced by Twitter updates about our authors' new books and achievements. We also work closely with our authors, their editors and their publishers' publicity/marketing teams to ensure opportunities are being created for successful promotion and marketing.

As an agent, when evaluating whether to take on an author or book, I'm assuming you Google them. What do you look for? What would turn you off?

Well, first I'd probably visit their web site or blog, if they've provided it. If they haven't, then yes, I'd Google them. We look for the same thing we'd look for in a manuscript we're considering: a thoughtful, interesting and professional approach. We like to get a sense of the author's personality, if possible, and whether we think we'd like to work with them and would be "on the same page" about the direction of their career. We don't want to see anything inappropriate—either personally, or for the market—or that seems contradictory to the work or goals they've presented to us.

But if an author doesn't have a web site or blog, that's fine, too. (We do expect artists to have a web site that showcases their work.) It all comes back to the work itself. There is nothing more disappointing or frustrating than an author who has clearly spent more time on their web site than their manuscript.

What advice do you have for authors trying to promote their books to agents?

My first advice is to wait until you—and your work—are ready. We want unpublished authors to focus on the work, not on the marketing. As literary agents, we look for potential, not perfection—but we also want to see highly polished work. Also, do your homework to find the agent(s) that you think would be the best match for you, to target your submissions carefully, and to present your work—and yourself—as professionally as possible, without taking it all too seriously. One of our first questions is always, "Why us?" There needs to be a good answer to that. Make connections at conferences or industry-related functions; many of our new clients are referrals from clients and people in the industry. And finally, a sense of humor—and humility—can be helpful.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow at 9AM to enter the Agent Pitch Contest!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Agent Pitch Contest - Josh Adams @ Adams Literary

Yes - so I've missed you guys.

I've been working tons and with the holidays can't post as often.

But don't fret - I'll be back on the ball in January!!! with marketing contests and more.

To tie you over, I have a special holiday surprise for all my followers - just for being so loyal and hanging in with me during my blog hiatus.

An Agent Pitch Contest!

Josh Adams from Adams Literary will be reading your pitches and choosing the winners who will get to submit to him personally.

I have met Josh several times and trust me - you WANT to enter this contest. Not only is he smart and has a good eye for books. But he is hilarious and fun! What more could you want.

So polish up your Twitter Pitches and get them ready for Thursday!

Some deets:
  • The pitch contest will start this Thursday 9am EST and last until midnight EST Friday night.
  • Your pitch must fit into my twitter count test of 140 characters. This includes punctuation and spaces. So try to be creative!
  • Must be a MG or YA.
  • You must follow the directions and include your entry in the comments.
  • You must be a follower to enter.

Tomorrow, Josh will stop by to answer a few questions and give you an idea of what he likes.

So come back tomorrow.

More deets to come!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Interview with Senior Editor at Dial: Liz Waniewski

The winner of the Oracle books is:

Jaime (who is a guy BTW :)
email your address to me at sjohannes@bilaninc.com.


Today, Liz Waniewski (Senior Editor, Dial) stopped by to answer some questions. I met her when we were on faculty together at SCBWI Carolinas and adored her.

Hi Liz, thanks for stopping by. Can you tell us about yourself as an editor?

I’m a Senior Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers, and have been working here for nine years. I edit everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels. The books I edit are character driven with distinct voices and points of view. Some of the books I’ve worked on recently are LADYBUG GIRL AT THE BEACH by David Soman and Jacky Davis, SAPPHIQUE by Catherine Fisher, FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB by Antony John, and FANTASY BASEBALL by Alan Gratz.

How does Dial support their authors in their marketing efforts? What do you feel is most important in promoting books?

Dial is part of Penguin Young Readers Group, so our authors have the support of Penguin Young Readers marketing behind them when promoting their books.

We offer many different kinds of support, depending on the author and the book project, from sending out review copies and press releases to the major book reviewers, magazines, and newspapers, to linking your author website to the Penguin website, to Penguin’s tweets and Facebook updates about new and upcoming books or author events, to our info packet about how to do effective online marketing, to much more.

One of the most important things in promoting books is an author who is willing to be a self-promoter. There is nothing as effective as an author who has contact with his/her fans, whether in person or online.

During the publishing process, what is the most exciting part of acquiring a book? What is the hardest part about wanting a book?

The most exciting part about acquiring a book for me is beginning an editorial relationship with an author. I sign up a book because I believe it has a ton of potential to make a difference to the kids who will read it, and I hope that the author has written it with a similar thought. It is exciting to be able to help an author get their work out into the world for kids to read and enjoy.

The hardest part about wanting a book is knowing that if other editors want it too, I might not get it. When I’m trying to sign up a book, it is because I love it. It is hard to let something you love go to another editor!

What is Dial looking for?

Dial is looking for books that walk that fine line of being literary and commercial, though if I had to choose one, I’d say we fall on the literary side of that line. We’re looking for excellent writing, fresh voices, interesting points of view, and stories that take us to places we’ve never been before with characters who jump off the page and drive that story forward.

Any questions for Liz?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bookanistas - The Oracle of Dating Dynamic Duo Giveaway

COMMENT on the interview today and win a copy of both books!

(If I get more than 100 comments, I'll throw a second surprise giveaway for commenters. Don't forget - only followers are eligible. See, I don't ask 4 much :)

Today, I interviewed Allison van Diepen, author of The Oracle of Dating and the sequel The Oracle of Rebounds. (Harlequin Teen) as well as several other books.

Oracle of Dating is a fun, engaging, and witty book for teens(like all Harlequin books coming out!). A great easy read for the beach or rainy day that you pass along to your friends and giggle about later. It has friendship, boys, and nuggets of teen relationship advice that I wish I had back in high school. It's also up to date with references to Facebook, blogging and Paypal, among other things.

For five bucks, the Oracle of Dating will tell you:
* How to flirt
* If that cute guy you're crushing on likes you, too
* Whether your new romance will last through lunch period
* And much more

No one at Kayla's school knows she's the famous Oracle of Dating—the anonymous queen of dating advice. She doesn't even have a boyfriend. Two relationship disasters were enough to make Kayla focus on everyone else's love life. But then her advice backfires on her own best friend. And Kayla starts to seriously obsess about Jared Stewart—the very cute, very mysterious new guy in school. Suddenly, the teen queen of advice needs her own oracle of dating—and she knows just where to find one….

The sequel, Oracle of Rebounds picks up where the first one left off.

As the "oracle of dating," Kayla is supposed to have all the answers about love and relationships. She's supposed to have the perfect relationship. But now that Jared is "taking a step back," Kayla feels like a total fraud.So the expert on dating starts taking her own rebound advice—and some from her friends—and stops moping around.

But when controversy erupts about the Oracle's advice, Kayla is sent reeling once again. Will anything work out for her this year? Yet when her friends start seriously needing the Oracle, Kayla begins to focus on what really matters.

Here's the interview with Allison:

Hi Allison, thanks for coming by with gifts :) First, tell us about yourself.

I’m a YA author from Ottawa, Canada, and I currently have five teen novels in bookstores. I’m also a high school teacher, and my first two books, Street Pharm and Snitch, were inspired by my experiences teaching at an inner-city school in Brooklyn. My next book, Raven, was a paranormal, and my two most recent books, The Oracle of Dating and The Oracle Rebounds, are light, fun teen romances which came out this year from Harlequin Teen. I love writing YA, and as you can see, my books are very different from one another. I follow my inspiration wherever it takes me.

How did you come up with the idea for The Oracle?

It was one of my sister’s friends who first called me The Oracle of Dating. I was about twelve, and my sister and her friends were fifteen. I became their dating guru. Over the years, as I’ve dated and observed others dating, I’ve seen distinct patterns, and have always wanted to write about them. A lot of the outrageous stories in the books are real experiences that have happened to me or people I’ve known.

It's amazing how much teen books come from our real lives. Can you talk a little about your journey to publication?I started writing when I was a teen. Once I became a high school teacher and wrote my first YA book, I bought a copy of The Writer’s Market Guide to Literary Agents, submitted query letters to five agents, and two requested to see the manuscript. A few months later, I signed on with an agent; he said it was my “unique voice” that attracted him to my writing, and he gave me some useful feedback on my manuscript. About a year later, he sold my first book,

I love that you did it the old fashion way from slush pile to publication! Can you tell us a little about your writing process?
In Jo Beverley’s words, I like to “fly into the mist”. I start with something that intrigues me – it may be an exciting scene that’s playing in my head, or a mysterious, sexy character. If the writing is flowing well, I know that I’m onto something. If it keeps feeling right, I keep going. Along the way, I stop and do some planning – for instance, I’ll make a few notes on what the next sequence of scenes should be, or on a few important plot points. I don’t like to plan a book in too much detail before I start writing it. For me, too much planning ahead spoils some of the fun.

What ways do you market your book as an author? What has worked well? What have you learned along the way?

I have a decent Internet presence, I think; I’m on Facebook and have a website. I have a blog, devoted to the Oracle series. I’ve bought ads on various sites which have directed people to my website. I’ve done guest-blogging and interviews on local TV, visited schools and spoken at conferences. What has worked well? I have no idea. It’s an endless topic of conversation among my writer friends. You can invest thousands of dollars in advertising, or exhaust yourself visiting bookstores, going to conferences etc. and see little change in your sales.

The best marketing is word of mouth, and that’s not something you can predict. If your book resonates with readers, over time it will catch on, and your books will stay in print. An author doesn’t always know right away if that will happen. I certainly didn’t know that my first two books, Street Pharm (2006) and Snitch (2007), would still be in print today. I have the teens to thank for that, and their teachers and librarians. What I’ve learned is that the more time I spend writing instead of trying to spread the word about my books, the happier I am. This business is so unpredictable. I always remind myself to focus on the parts of it that bring me joy – writing, and corresponding with my readers.

What are you most afraid of? and why?
Any author fears their work not being sought after anymore. Most writers with long-term careers have had times when their books sold well and when they didn’t. Since I plan to keep writing for years to come, I hope I will always find interested publishers and readers. It’s important for a writer who wants longevity not to be afraid to switch things up a little – to write in different genres, for different age groups, or even under a different name. I don’t know what I’ll be writing ten or twenty years from now…and I’m happy with that.

Thanks Allison!

Don't forget to comment for the duet of Oracle books!

Check out these other Bookanista posts today!

Lisa and Laura Roecker and Myra McEntire spreads some love for SELLING HOPE
Elana Johnson is nuts about NIGHTSHADE
Christine Fonseca swoons over SIREN
Shannon Messenger marvels over MUSEUM OF THIEVES (plus she's having another epic giveaway).
Carolina Valdez Miller is struck by SHIP BREAKER.
Megan Miranda is in love with I AM THE MESSENGER

If you have a book, you would like the Bookanistas to consider, feel free to email me offline.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blog hiatus

Hey guys -

I have to go on a serious blog hiatus through holidays and end of year.

I am doing some freelance work to bring in some extra money and have A LOT of work to do on a book for my agent and need to shut off the Internet to dive in.

I will still be doing the Bookanista posts on most Thursdays and probably pop in to do a few random interviews I already have scheduled. So don't delete me from your Google reader or blog roll. :)

But as far as daily posts, I will have to limit them as well as Twitter and other blog visits.

Thanks for understanding.

I'll miss you and hope to see you back at the beginning of the year.

Don't forget to help Braedyn get some books. She has 2 year of chemo so you can help at anytime!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

RIP Bud - The Best Dog-Gone Friend

A Dog's Prayer

To Those Who Love Me

When I am gone, release me, let me go-
I have so many things to see and do.
You must not tie yourself to me with tears,
Be happy that we had so many years.
I gave you my love, you can only guess
How much you gave me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you have each shown.
But now it is time I traveled alone.
So grieve awhile for me if grieve you must,
Then let your grief be comforted by trust,
It is only for a while that we must part,
So bless the memories within your heart,
I will not be far away, for life goes on,
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can not see or touch me, I will be near.
And if you listen with your heart, you will hear
All my love around you soft and clear.
And then, when you must come this way alone,
I will greet you with a smile and "Welcome Home".
-author unknown

Dear Bud -

Thanks for the memories. For all the times you dried my tears. For the times you made me laugh. For the times you made sure I was not alone. Thank you for 16 years of happiness and loyal friendship. I will miss you sleeping by my feet, comforting me on rainy days.

When I had no one, I had you.

It's time for me to release you so you can go be free. Free without pain. Free to live a young life. Free to be with your best friend, Connor, again.

I love you and will never forget you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bookanistas - Middle Grade Marvels

We always seem to talk about the Young adult books coming out and forgetting Middle Grade.

Why is that?

I've seen and know of some great books targeting younger kids that have either just come out or are coming out:

McKenzie Blue - Friends Forever by Tina Wells (Harper Collins, Jun 2010)
This is a cute series with a spunky character that is told through diary entries, texts, instant messages and various lists.

Mackenzie, aka Zee, is the charismatic, fashionable, pop-culture savvy, down-to-earth star of this fresh new tween fiction series that chronicles the adventures of a diverse crew of friends who try to survive middle school at the prestigious Brookdale Academy in southern California. Fun and eco-conscious, Mackenzie Blue is an upbeat break from mean-girl culture.

School of Fear series by Gitty Daneshvari (Little Brown, Sept 2010)
The second in the series School of Dismissal just came out. I missed the first one. This is a cute series about kids who go to school to curb their fears.

For the first time--maybe ever--Madeleine, Theo, Lulu, and Garrison are not
looking forward to the start of summer, and three little words are to blame: School of Fear. In what they're sure will be the longest and most terrifying six weeks of their lives, the foursome must face their phobias head-on as students of the exclusive and elusive school. There's no homework or exams. But if they don't conquer their fears by the end of the summer, they'll find out just how frightening failing can be.

The Search for Wonderla by Tony DiTerlizzi (S&S, Sept 2010)
This is a modern day Alice and Wonderland. So magical and wonderful. The art throughout the book is amazing. I am really enjoying this one.

Eva Nine is being raised by Muthr, a pale blue robot who is loving and maternal (she speaks in the sweet, unflappable tones of a 1950s sit-com mom), in an underground home on the planet Orbona. When a marauder destroys her home, she leaves Sanctuary in a quest to find other humans like herself. Aboveground she finds a fantastic and frightening world populated by malevolent wandering trees, a giant beast who is pursuing her, nasty sand-snipers, and more. With the aid of Rovender, a lanky blue creature with backward-bending knees, and Otto, a giant water bear with whom she can communicate telepathically, Eva faces many dangers, including capture by a taxidermist who wants to skin her in order to create a living fossil for display. This first book in the series concludes with her arrival at her destination in the ancient city of ruins.

Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner (Holiday House, Oct 2010)
You can't go wrong with Rick Riordan endorses it! Its Ratatouille meets Watership Downs.

Presumed dead by his enemies, Juniper is an elder in a community of rats who, since being forced from their catacomb homes, have started to build a new democratic world, Nightshade City, and are preparing to overthrow the oppressive ruling rodent regime, headed by dictator Killdeer.

Selling Hope by Kristin Tubb (Feiwel and Friends, Nov 2010)
This book is wonderful and that's all I can say. The voice is so real.

It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe. Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life—or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?

Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce (Harper, Nov 2010)
This book is hilarious and silly. Kind of King Dork meets Whimpy Kid. And this is also the second in the series. The illustrations and doodles combined with the comic approach is so fun. The web site is so awesome and I heard it had millions of hits within the first year.

Nate is a sixth grader who has a problem with organization. Everything is going wrong, and he's piling up detention after detention. Finally, big Nate will surpass all others! But it wont be easy. He's stuck with Gina, his all time enemy, who just might ruin everything! Will Nate win or lose? Pass or fail? Or end up in detention . . . again?

The Jaguar Stones series - Book 2 by JP Voelkel (Egmont, Dec 2010)
Again another series I had not heard of until I got the ARC of book 2. But you still have time to catch up.

With the end of the Mayan calendar fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Max Murphy and his new friend Lola, the modern Maya girl who saved his life in the perilous jungle, are racing against time to outwit the twelve Lords of Death. Following the trail of the conquistadors, their quest takes them back to the wild heart of Spain - a forgotten land steeped in legend, superstition and ever more bizarre tourist festivals. With a pack of hellhounds on their heels and the cape-twirling Count Antonio de Landa in hot pursuit, the teens must face madness and betrayal, bluff and double-bluff, to uncover the terrible secrets of the long-lost Yellow Jaguar. But no matter where they run, all roads lead to Xibalba. There, in the cold and watery Maya underworld, we finally discover why only Max Murphy can save the world from the villainous Lords of Death.

Fantasy Baseball by Alan Gratz (Dial, March 2011)
I have not yet read this book. I dont even know if ARCs are out yet. But I heard about it at a conference from the editor and it sounds fun.

A flying monkey in the outfield. A toad at short. Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz on the mound. Alex Metcalf thinks he’s dreaming, but the Oz Cyclones exist here in Ever After, where storybook characters live on as long as kids in the real world believe in them.

But Alex isn't a storybook. To get home, he and the Cyclones will have to win the Ever After Baseball Tournament and earn wishes from the Wizard of Oz. Trouble is, the Big Bad Wolf wants a wish too. To win the tournament, Alex and the Cyclones will have to defeat the wolf, play the best baseball of their lives, and find the courage to believe in themselves. But what good is believing in yourself if the real world stops believing in you?
The Emily Strange Series - Dark Times by Rob Reger (Harper, Jan 2011)
This is also a great series - a couple books have already been released. I have loved Emily the Strange for a while, since before she was developed into novels. She is sarcastic and nerdy which you don't see much of in Middle grade. I believe this started out more as an artist's comic character and then once it got very popular on the Internet, Emily blossomed into books and other merchandise.

Meet Emily, the peculiar soul with long black hair, a wit of fire, and a posse of slightly sinister black cats. When Emily gets back to school, she goes way back, all the way to the 18th century.

Check out the other Bookanistas:

Elana Johnson Tells Us About TORMENT


Christine Fonseca Moons Over MATCHED

Shannon Messenger Fangirls THE FAMILIARS

Kirsten Hubbard Woos Us with WITHER

Myra McEntire Beholds the British Special Edition of the TWILIGHT SAGA


Carolina Valdez Miller Is Moved By MARBURY LENS

Megan Miranda Swoons Over STOLEN

What other Middle grade books have you heard of lately?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Books For Braedyn


My friend, Stephanie Blake, needs our help.

Over the weekend, her 7-year old niece, Braedyn, was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). It's been a terrible shock to her family.

She lives in Wichita, KS. The treatment protocol starts this Wednesday with vigorous schedule of chemotherapy. Little Braedyn will probably lose her hair almost immediately. She loves books and crafts of all kinds. Her favorite color is green. She's being very brave, but is scared of what is to come.

Im planning on donating everything that is Fancy Nancy :) Anything will brighten this little girl's day - maybe coloring, crafts, books. They can be old or new.

Brenda Reeves Sturgis, is organizing A Book For Braedyn. Brenda would like to get an author a week to donate a single book (new or used) to Braedyn, to help keep her mind off of chemo and all the yucky cancer stuff she's going through.

Brenda is starting off by sending the picture book, All the World. If you could participate, it would be most appreciated. To sign up to send something, please contact Brenda via BSturgis@metrocast.net or feel free to contact me at sjohannes@bilaninc.com. I'm happy to help gather your stuff for Brenda as well.

Thank you so much, in advance, for brightening the days for little Braedyn.

And please keep her in your prayers and thoughts.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Winners of the Agent Pitch Contest

The winner is of Susan Hawk's Agent Pitch Contest is...

Slippers of Pearl by Danyelle
(MG fantasy)

After his uncle—who has a bad habit of dying—is fatally poisoned, Faryn’s family packs him off to the King’s Seat to learn magic and find his place as his uncle’s heir. What he discovers instead is a knack for making magical shoes, that turning a girl into a goose is a bad way to make friends—and dying her bright blue only aggravates matters, sinister apples that enchant all the maidens at court, and a royal edict to undo the apples’ magic if he wants to keep his head.

Danyelle - congrads! Please email meat sjohannes@bilaninc.com for instructions on your critique with Susan.

Honorable mentions are:
  • The Tweed Coat Mystery by theartgirl
  • Wistful by Jenn
  • Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedgwick
  • Lock 19 by Bree
  • Futureless by Sandy Shin
Congrads to the mentions and thanks to all who entered. Hope this was a good exercise for you.

Don't forget, Josh Adams from Adams Literary will be here next month so keep working on your pitches :)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bookanistas: Cover Love of The Near Witch

My friend, Victoria Schwab, just got her cover for The Near Witch.

How exciting to get it! I'd thought I'd give her a congrads shout-out. And it's up for preorder! So go order it now!

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. There are no strangers in the town of Near. These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him. As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

And here's her talking about all the deets around the cover. Check it out!

Don't forget to check out all the other Bookanista Specials:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Things to do while waiting.....and waiting....and waiting

It seems in this business we are constantly waiting for something to happen. No matter what phase you are in - there is probably some sort of waiting going on:

waiting to finish
waiting for beta reader
waiting for feedback
waiting for agent
waiting for editors
waiting for emails
waiting for computer to be fixed
waiting for conferences

Sometimes the "waiting" gets to me. To where I just want to scream.

Here are all the things I do while waiting....

organize closets
go through kids old clothes and pack up small ones
surf (the internet though I guess surfing on the coast of CA would be nice too)
Talk on the phone
Make new "friends" on Facebook
organize closets...again
work on next book
catch up on TV
play with kids
check email
check other email
decide to cook a homemade meal
burn homemade meal
order meal
make picture albums (or at least 1/2 of one)
curse industry for being so dang slow
write another book
line edit past books
read old rejection letters
burn old rejection letters
Come up with 10 reasons why I still need to wait
organize closets
"research new book" - which really means surf Internet (hey - it adds 1 more thing to my list.)
mail out prizes that were won a month ago
catch up on Bookanistas posts
organize kitchen drawers
catch up on laundry
obsess over Publishers Marketplace
obsess over statcounter

and then.....

wait some more.

What do you do while you are waiting for something to happen?

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Gift from Your Marketing Muse

I thought today I would summarize some of my top posts on marketing.

If you have any questions on marketing, feel free to leave any questions in the comments and I will answer them this week.

Plan it in small chunks!
Each Monday morning (or Sunday evening, or whenever you do your weekly planning) write down 5 marketing activities you will accomplish during the coming week. Break each down into quick-to-do tasks and larger tasks. Then schedule them into your week — and do them.

Your Heart is where your Brand is
Here is a great class (Know Your Brand) Jenn Stark teaches if/when you want to learn how to brand yourself. Jenn Stark will be one of our Marketing interviewees coming soon. To find out more about your personal brand - this article talks about on how to begin your personal brand.

Who are you?
Define your Author Brand vs your Book Brand. Remember they are different things even though they link together. If you are pre-published start thinking about your author brand now!

Me and my Shadow
A Shadow brand is a brand every one of us gives off without knowing. What is your shadow brand. Is it fear? it is over confidence? Is it professional? Is it approachable? Find out what "vibe"you are giving off as an author. Make surethat is the brand you want to give off.

From the Marketers Mouth
Molli Nickell (who spoke at a Southern Breeze conference not the editor!). has an an editing service for writers. Great prices and I know she has great advice and insight. Check out her web site http://www.getpublishednow.biz/, then to the "Writers' Services" tab. For a limited time, she is offering a “Spring ahead” special: 1.5 hours of her assistance (editing, revising, rewriting, advising, or whatever you need) for the 1 hour fee of $75. This gives you an extra half hour at no additional cost—a 50% bonus. (Offer expires May 15, 2009).

Just because
Visit book reviewers and librarians sites. Comment on their blogs. get the name recognition. Ask yourself what can you do FOR THEM. When your books come out - they may remember you :)

Stressed Out?
Don't get stressed out about marketing. It's not worth it. It should just be something fun you do to get ready for the day that your book is picked up and put on the shelf. Have fun with it!

More Book Trailers
Here is a great interview with Sheila Clover English of COS Productions giving you some information on how Book Trailers Offer Excellent Branding Opportunity. Thanks to a blogger for suggesting this as a hot topic. More to come on this topic this week.

Speak up!
The other day, Sarah Davies from Greenhouse mentioned it was critical for every author to be sure they learn to speak well. The way you speak and present yourself in public is part of your brand. Are you funny? Engaging? How do you look? It is all a part of the brand image you are building. For example: for me when I speak, I try to be organized in though but flexible, informative but engaging, funny, yet relaxed. I usually wear jeans when I speak - not trashy ones but I don't wear a suit or business attire. I want to be approachable. That is all a part of my brand. Here are a few resources to begin learning speaking skills. Everyone can get a head start.
  • Toastmasters- International organization to help people overcome public speaking fears and speak more effectively.

  • SpeechSkills - help you achieve the impact you want to have on your audience.

  • SpeechMasteryTips to to speaking well: Be passionate; Be enthusiastic; Be natural; Let your body language and/or voice reflect your personality; Be there to genuinely teach the audience something; Dress your best
Don't Trail behind?
Authors can now create a video representation of their book, to show their market exactly what they are buying, before they buy. Book trailers are still few and far between, but their popularity is growing. In short order, everyone who writes a book will be creating a book trailer. Here are a couple of introductory articles: how to make your own Book trailer and the elements of a successful Book trailers

That's some Cool & Crazy Marketing
People do some really creative things to market their books. Check out what this author did to turn some heads while he was on a book tour. Hopefully it sold some books.

Study up on social media
Check out this study. Social Media Marketing: Time Trap or Opportunity Magnet? New Study Reveals the Answers To read about the study: http://tinyurl.com/c4ggux To download the free PDF report: http://tinyurl.com/dcz4ep

All Hands on Deck
Have you heard of "Tweet Deck"? It is an application that makesit easy to follow people on twitter. I love it. It organizes your tweets and if you want - you can put a tone so you know when a tweet comes in. INstead of going to twitter - you just view your Tweet Deck and can see everything from tweets, replies, to direct messages. Try it!

On the Road Again (Book Tour Tips)

  • While you ultimately want to increase your book sales, the purpose of a blog tour is to generate buzz about your book.
  • Don’t just announce your tour on your personal blog, announce it in your newsletters, in press releases, and through traditional media outlets like radio interviews.
  • While it can be rather costly to send out review copies of your books to every blogger in the blogosphere, especially if you’re not sure how popular a blog is, you can offer to hold a book drawing for every blogger who participates in your blog tour and then give away one to five books to whosoever name you pull out of a hat—at the end of the blog tour.
  • Ask if the blog host will post a link to the sales page of your book whether it’s on Amazon.com or another affiliated program.
  • Be sure to target blogs with target audiences that match your book’s target audience.
Eco-Friendly Marketing
These are the best ways to market with the earth in mind: Blog/Blog Tours, Website, Twitter
Social networking (Facebook, Myspace)

Podcasts are cool
Here is a podcast on how to best sell your book to libraries/schools by Dana Lynn Smith (author of "Selling your book to Libraries" and the Savvy Book Marketers Guide.)

Market Your Fiction
Check out these tips on how to market fiction!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Bookanistas: Paranormal Preview!

The Bookanistas have received a lot of wonderful ARCS lately and wanted to talk about them.

We haven't had a chance to read all of the ARCs yet because - to be frank - the Bookanistas are happily drowning in them. We plan to read all of them; it will just take some time. We are not complaining! We are so thankful! We just want everyone who is sending books to keep sending them but to give us some time to get through them all.

So I thought I'd give you a preview of some of the books we've received that will be coming out in 2011 (most seem to be coming in from Harper right now) that looks soooo good. That way, you can mark your book calendars.

AngelFire (debut author Courtney Allison Moulton), HarperTeen, Feb 2011
When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers, she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul. A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember. First of a planned series.

A Touch Mortal (debut author Leah Clifford), GreenWillow, Feb 2011
Eden didn’t expect Az. Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings. Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven. She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else’s game. Her heart is her own. And that’s only the beginning of the end. First of a planned trilogy.

Fallen Angel (Heather Terrell), HarperTeen, Jan 2011
The first book in a dark, edgy new angel series about a girl who finds herself forced to choose sides in the battle between fallen angels, even if that means going against the boy she loves.
When Ellie Faneuil first sees Michael Chase she feels an instantaneous connection. But she does not realize how much they have in common, including the ability fly and to see what others are thinking - not to mention a taste for blood. Reveling in their new powers and their growing feelings for each other, Ellie and Michael are determined to uncover what they are, and how they got this way ... together. But the truth has repercussions neither could have imagined. Soon they find themselves center stage in an ancient conflict between fallen angels that threatens to destroy everything they love. And it is no longer clear whether Ellie and Michael will choose the same side.

Once in a Full Moon (Ellen Schreiber), Jan 2011, Harperteen
Celeste Parker is used to hearing scary stories about werewolves—Legend’s Run is famous for them. But when, after an unnerving visit with a psychic, she encounters a pack of wolves and gorgeous, enigmatic Brandon, she must discover whether his transformation is more than legend or just a trick of the shadows in the moonlight. Brandon may be Celeste’s hero, or he may be the most dangerous creature she could encounter in the woods of Legend’s Run.

Steel (Carrie Vaughn) Mar 2011, HarperTeen
When Jill, a competitive high school fencer, goes with her family on vacation to the Bahamas, she is magically transported to an early eighteenth century pirate ship in the middle of the ocean.

Teeth (Neil Gaiman, Melissa Marr, Cassandra Clare and Holly black), Mar 2011, HarperTeen
A collection of bite-sized tales exploring the intersections among the living, dead, and undead. The vampires in these stories range from romantic to chilling to gleeful—and touch on nearly every emotion in between. The one thing they have in common? Their desire for blood..

Tempestuous Book #3 (Lesley Livingston), Jan 2011 Harper Teen

Evidently this is #3 in a series. (Book 1 - Wonderous Strange, Book 2 - Darklight/Nov 2010
This is an urban fantasy that weaves elements of A Midsummer Night's Dream together with teen romance and chilling adventure that erupts when dangerous faeries invade the human world through a gate in Central Park.

Through Her Eyes (Jennifer Archer), April 2011 HarperTeen
Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry's dangerous reality-- before she loses touch with her own life forever. When Tansy is forced to move, she moved into an old town and is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But its the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar--a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal--that have the most chilling impact on her.

UnEarthly (Cynthia Hand), Jan 2011 HarperTeen
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian and everything seems to fall into place. But there's also another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side. As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make--between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Vampire Crush (A.M. Robinson), HarperTeen, Jan 2011
First, six mysteriously pale new students show up at Sophie McGee’s high school. Then, Sophie’s childhood nemesis James reappears, still displaying a knack for making Sophie’s blood boil. When Sophie finds out that James has a connection to the new students, she decides to investigate...never expecting her life will quickly begin to resemble a campy horror movie, complete with budding crushes and bloodthirsty villains.

Some other paranormal titles to look for in 2011:
  • A Need So Beautiful by Susanne Young
  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  • Possession by Elana Johnson
  • Banished by Gretchen McNeil
  • Across the Universe (not paranormal but had to mention it! :)
  • Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder #2) by Kimberly Derting
  • Hex Hall 2 (Demonglass) by Rachel Hawkins
  • Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
  • L.A. Weatherly's ANGEL
  • Kathleen Peacock's debut HEMLOCK
  • Tara Hudson's HEREAFTER
Don't forget to visit the other Bookanistas for some great book love:

Michelle Hodkin gives props to LIKE MANDARIN
Kirsten Hubbard gives props to Between Shades of Gray
Shannon Messenger brings us Cover Love and a Teaser for Desires of the Dead
Elana Johnson is a fan of HER AND ME AND YOU
Lisa and Laura Roecker love XVI
Christine Fonseca is enthralled by GIRL, STOLEN
Myra McEntire shares some Trailer Love
Carolina Valdez Miller adores NIGHTSHADE CITY
Jamie Harrington is awed by ACROSS THE UNIVERSE