Saturday, December 14, 2013

Holiday Shopping - Judging A Book By Its Cover

On a recent trip to New York City, I ducked into the Scholastic Store. I was looking for a Christmas gift for my niece who's in first grade. Ella Brett loves shoes and this book caught my eye:

Of course I had to buy it. I fell in love with the cover!

I also went shopping at Inkwood Books in Tampa for my friend Cynthia Chapman Willis. Cindy is a middle grade author who adores animals. This is the gorgeous cover that caught my eye: 

Of course I had to buy it. I fell in love with the cover art. 

And finally, I bought myself a book at Barnes and Noble. I bought COUNTING BY 7s because it comes highly recommended and is getting great buzz in the children's book community. But I would never have picked up COUNTING BY 7s if I hadn't already heard about it. The cover wouldn't have caught my eye:

Do you judge a book by its cover? What have been your book buying experiences this holiday season?

Monday, December 2, 2013

My ALAN Conference Experience #alan13

Several months ago, Professor Joan Kaywell from the University of South Florida posed a question to me: "What are you going to do to promote your book?" I rambled on about blog posts and library signings, but Joan didn't think that was good enough. She dreamed up a panel for the ALAN Conference called Past and Present: Southern Voices of YA Literature, and away I went to Boston.

The view outside my hotel room window.

Joan moderated a panel that included Alan Gratz, The League of Seven, Tor/Starscape, Myra McEntire, Hourglass (series), Egmont, Beth Revis, Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel, Penguin Young Readers Group, and me, with my book, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, namelos.

Each panel member was asked, "What makes your book Southern?" Of course the obvious answer is setting, but our answers were as diverse as our books. Alan Gratz's book is set in an alternate 1870's America that is predominantly Native American. Alan explained how that allowed him to include diverse characters without having to deal with the shame of slavery. Myra McEntire set a contemporary scifi story in a small Southern town. The setting was important to Myra because she spent years being ashamed of being from Appalachia, but she's learned to be proud of where she's from. Beth Revis used the sense of isolation she observed in her students in Cleveland County, NC, to write her scifi story that takes place on a spaceship. And for me, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl represents everything I love about the South: the food, traditions, dialect, and a sense of being an integral part of an extended family. Our presentation highlights just how all-encompassing Southern literature has become. 

My first ALAN Conference was a wonderful experience. All of the educators I spoke with are passionate about Young Adult literature. I even had a rockstar moment, when English teacher Beth Scanlon told me The Ballad of Jessie Pearl made her cry. Nothing could be more gratifying for an author than that.