Week two: the big apple bites back

I’m not going to sugar coat it. This week was tough. My pet sitting gig was on pause while the family regrouped between trips which meant I slept in four different beds this week—an Airbnb, a cousin’s home, a friend’s home, and then back to the pet sitting gig. Along the way, I lugged my ancient laptop (read: heavy) from Manhattan to Long Island to Roosevelt Island to Brooklyn and ended up bruising or pulling the muscle in my shoulder and neck area. It started as just a pain in the neck but on Thursday morning the pain was debilitating. There’s nothing like pain and a trip to urgent care to pull the plug on the tears one’s been trying to hold in.

Thank you, Dr. Cassie, for being so kind to the sobbing mess on your exam table.

I found out that none of the three apartments I’d been hoping for came through from last week. I don’t meet the 40x-the-rent income requirement. I’ve applied to another apartment on my own this week and if this application doesn’t work, I either have to 1) accept my parent’s offer to co-sign or 2) find a room with others.

The former I’d hoped to avoid because, well, I’m a grown up and it would be nice to do this by myself. However, I had a lovely dinner with a VCFA friend this week and she let me know that rarely can anyone meet the requirement even when they have a job. The later I’d hoped to avoid because I’m a mom of college-aged children, and I’d like them to have a place to come home to where they feel welcome. I can’t imagine a bunch of roommates welcoming two men-children into their space.

I’ve applied for three more jobs this week, and I continue to network in the children’s book community here. I attended Children’s Day at the Brooklyn Book Festival and ran into book authors and agents that I know and met new folks too. I’m thankful to the kindness of the folks at MetroNY SCBWI,  Chronicle and Enchanted Lion Books. The highlight of the picture book tent was witnessing Ame Dyckman’s incredible energy and Jessica Love’s aura of gentleness and love.

Next steps: In the upcoming week, I’m excited to work on a curriculum guide for Lee and Low. If the apartment doesn’t come through, I’ll start interviewing with roommates. Cross your fingers for me.

Here’s my second week by the numbers:

Miles walked: 14

Subway extremes:

  • Long Island Railroad: Syosset
  • F train: Jamaica

Cabs/Ubers/Lyfts: 1

Apartments viewed: 3

Apartment applications: 1

Apartment declines: 3

Job applications: 3

Job declines: 1

Networking phone calls: 1

Creative writing on any of my works in progress: 0

Dog walks: 7

#MarketingMonday: Ginger Johnson, “The Splintered Light”

Welcome to a new occasional feature I’m calling #MarketingMonday. This is a place for authors to learn about book marketing from each other and those in the industry. The feature will include helpful website links, interviews, and brainstorms.

Ginger Johnson

Today, an interview with debut middle-grade author Ginger Johnson whose book The Splintered Light (Bloomsbury) just launched last week! If you missed the summary, check my last post here!

Ginger, welcome and thank you for visiting Creative Chaos! What surprised you about the publishing and book launch process?

I suppose what surprised me most (even though EVERYONE told me this) is how much time I spent on things other than writing. I learned so many new technologies and applications to support my marketing efforts. At times, I felt very much like an old dog trying to learn new tricks, but I have a slew of new skills that I hadn’t anticipated.

9781681196244You’ve been Instagram-ing like crazy! Have your engagement and follow numbers changed?

I haven’t kept track of specific numbers, although I do know I’ve gained probably 100-150 new followers. I used to follow more than be followed, and that has reversed now.

That’s exciting! What was the best marketing advice you got from a fellow author?

One of my fellow 2018 debuts (I can’t remember who or I’d attribute) shared a spreadsheet she had made to keep track of what marketing she was doing and when she needed to do it. I made a similar spreadsheet about six months out to form a concrete plan and to keep track of what I needed to do. If I hadn’t done that, I probably wouldn’t have done much marketing at all, or else I would have turned into the Stress Queen while trying to do everything.  

Another good piece of advice came from Julie Berry who told me that I only have one debut and that I should do as many events as possible.

I love the advice to keep track of all your marketing activities. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and duplicate efforts or drop something—especially with a debut. What was the best advice or help you got from the marketing team at Bloomsbury?

My publicist at Bloomsbury (Lizzy Mason) is incredibly wonderful. She’s always been a source of cheer and encouragement, and she’s arranged some great opportunities for me to meet with booksellers and schools across the country.

Did you give yourself a budget and if so, what did you spend it on? 

I did all of my design work myself (website, book trailer, bookmarks, banner, etc) saving my budget for printing some high-quality swag—really nice bookmarks and large round stickers. I also had a banner printed for bookstore events.

The majority of my budget is being spent on travel. Even though Bloomsbury is generously sending me on a book tour and to NCTE this year, I booked some additional trips to reach audiences in other parts of the country.

I saw that you have a LONG list of venues you’ll visit on your tour. That banner will make it easier for book buyers to identify you as the author and not a store employee. (“Where’s the…adult nonfiction, bathroom. etc…”) How exciting for your new readers.

The Splintered Light Events (1)

What aspect of your marketing plan are you most excited about?

I’m excited about my school visits planned during my book tour. I don’t think there’s anything quite like seeing your book in the hands of your intended audience.

Absolutely! Is there anything else you learned or that you discovered that I didn’t ask about?

Marketing is a beast that can consume all your creative energy. It’s ok to not do everything. Some people blog, some people have newsletters, some people tweet incessantly. Once I stopped looking at the marketing everyone else was doing and gave myself permission to do what felt comfortable for me, the marketing became manageable rather than overwhelming.

Thank you, Ginger! Enjoy your tour and readers, you can get Ginger’s book from your local Independent Book Seller

at Barnes & Noble

or on Amazon.

First week in NYC by the numbers

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Image from illustrator Terumi Tashima and can be found under the “Typography” tab at https://www.terumitashima.com.

Last week, after 24 years living in the same small, college town in Maine, I leaped and moved to New York City. It wasn’t as all-of-a-sudden as it sounds. I had been considering, planning, and wanting to leap for a while to leverage my 15-years of experience in the children’s book world at a job at a larger publishing house.

So when both son 1 and son 2 packed for college this year, I packed too. We loaded UHauls, dropped the sons off at their institutions of higher learning and stored my things in New Jersey. I found a pet-sitting gig until September 21 and have been exploring this city.

It’s been a high anxiety week masquerading as an adventure. The reality of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs—that one must meet physiological and safety needs first (food, water, warmth, rest, safety and security) before self actualization—is shockingly apparent.

Here’s my first week by the numbers:

Miles walked: 23

Subway extremes:

  • A: Inwood/207 & Utica
  • Q: Ave J
  • N/W: Astoria Blvd.
  • 6: 125th St.

Cabs/Ubers/Lyfts: 4

Apartments viewed: 11

Apartment applications: 4

Apartment declines: 1 (still waiting on 3)

Job applications: 4

Networking phone calls: 2

Freelance job offer: 1

Creative writing on any of my works in progress: 0

Dog walks: 11

Synagogue services: 1…at which the Rabbi said, “Think back a year. You are not the same person you were then. You face the new year as a new you.” For me, that couldn’t be truer.

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Happy Book Birthday: The Splintered Light by Ginger Johnson

Happy Book Birthday to Ginger Johnson and The Splintered Light from Bloomsbury! I’m jumping for joy to recommend this new middle-grade book. I was honored to hear an excerpt of the book in its earliest stages and I fell in love immediately.

9781681196244

Reminiscent of The Giver, this literary debut middle-grade fantasy is beautifully written and stunningly creative.

A deep dive into a world-within-a-world, a heart-within-a-heart.” –Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist

“The joys of the senses and the glories of creation shine in this radiant debut.” –Julie Berry, Printz Honor author of The Passion of Dolssa

“Ginger Johnson’s debut is as vibrant as the colors her characters wield in this novel about creativity, collaboration, and creation.” –Megan Frazer Blakemore, author of The Water Castle and The Firefly Code

You can get a copy signed by the author here!

From the Bloomsbury website:

Ever since his brother Luc’s disappearance and his father’s tragic death, Ishmael has lived a monotonous existence helping his mother on their meager farm where everything is colorless. Until one morning a ray of light fragments Ishmael’s gray world into something extraordinary: a spectrum of color he never knew existed. Emboldened, Ishmael sets out to find answers hoping his long lost brother might hold the key.

He finds Luc in the Hall of Hue, one of the seven creative workshops at The Commons, the seat of all new creation. Luc is completing the final days of his training as a Color Keeper, adding the finishing touches of color to a brand new world designed and built by a team of young artisans. Although his heart calls him to a future as a Color Keeper, Ishmael feels too guilty to leave the duties of his old life behind. But when a catastrophe destroys nearly all of the color and light at the Hall of Hue, Ishmael and Luc are suddenly at severe odds. Torn between his family and his destiny, Ishmael must learn when to let go of the past, when to trust the path ahead, and when to believe in himself.

Or, purchase a copy

from your local Independent Book Seller

at Barnes & Noble

on Amazon

book2bbirthday

Leaving Maine: the good the bad and the ugly.

Good: After three weeks of intensive culling and packing, the UHaul was loaded and we left Brunswick, Maine.

Bad: I realized that I’d been so focused in my own moving bubble that I didn’t really take time to honor, celebrate, and leave the community and place that held me for 24 years.

Ugly: The stress, weird eating patterns over the last week, and exhaustion finally took its toll and did a number on my GI tract. After numerous stops, traffic, and a dose of Pepto, we arrived in NJ too late for the intended storage near New York City. (Plus we were too exhausted to unload anything at that point.) Now my stuff will end up in a Princeton storage unit. Not what I’d hoped but I’m rolling with it.

Rejected: moving forward

Included in the Anna archives that I’ve uncovered while packing–my rejection file. The bulk of these are between 2000 and 2007. After that I got an agent who buffered my rejections through emails. Then I got another agent. More emails. More rejections. I’m working with a third agent now.

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In between agents, I studied and wrote for my MFA. I just read through my packet letters from the pull-no-punches Margaret Bechard. She does not mince words and had some tough love for me about how I needed to stop holding onto old drafts in my revisions, slow down, inhabit characters more deeply, take risks, and not write so sparse when it came to setting and emotion. In reaction, I wrote WOW and 😞 in the margins a lot. That was 2010.

Now it’s 2018. Life has gotten in the way a lot. Or from a different lens, I’ve gotten a lot of new material along the way. Some of the diversions I relished; raising two beautiful young men tops that list. Some of the diversions I needed for economic and intellectual reasons. Others, I think I created because of my fear of my own art. It’s hard to be vulnerable to the deepest parts of ourselves that appear between the lines of the stories we write.

Now I face a new diversion that probably checks all of those boxes (family, growth, money, fear). A move to NYC, a job in publishing (I hope), and new stories. Moving forward.

De-crap-ifying

Step 1: identify that something no longer brings me joy

Step 2: think that I can get money from selling it

Step 3: post it online, bring it to a reseller, put it on my lawn with a price

Step 4: frustrated, realize that it isn’t worth anything

Step 5: bring it Goodwill

Step 6: relief and freedom that I have less

Repeat.

Remembering Paul Burgett

The thing about the ones we love is that we tend to think that there’s more time. That there will be a tomorrow. That we can make that call another time.

Just now, I found out that University of Rochester Vice President Paul Burgett, (Dean of Students when I attended) passed away. And while Dean Burgett was not a family member by blood, he held that place in my heart.

Like most U of R students, my first interaction with Dean Burgett was when he taught my freshmen class the alma mater at our orientation. He had attended the music college at U of R, Eastman School. His rich baritone anchored us to the fields beside the Genessee River and connected us with the history of the place. A place where Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony were both celebrated. Even though he was an administrator, he taught an African-American music history class. He told us then that he’d intentionally set up his office in the student center so that he’d be available to us any time.

I took advantage of his invitation often. (Probably more than he wanted to see me.) I met his assistant Bev, another amazing person, who stood by him throughout his career. Our meetings were just times to chat about music and art and travel. When I made occasional trips to campus, I visited him. When he became Vice President, he changed offices but still made time for students.

He helped me with career choice, wrote recommendations for me, and believed that I would succeed.

Dean Burgett was University of Rochester for me.

Last fall, my son was looking at University of Rochester too. I contacted Dean Burgett again, and, despite his busy schedule, he made time to give Ethan one of his trademark bear-like hugs. U of R wasn’t Ethan’s first choice but he said that if he went, V.P. Burgett would be the main reason.

I never properly thanked Paul for all the time, music, and positive energy he gave to me, gave to others, and gave to an institution he loved. He was a voice for all the students but was especially supportive of the Black Student Union and others. I assumed I might see him at my 25th reunion this fall. Now, I can’t believe I’ll never get one of those hugs again.

Rest in peace, Paul. You left too soon. I had so much to tell you.Dean Burgett.jpg

The University of Rochester has set up a tribute page here.

 

Call for PAL published, mid-list, #kidlit authors

#Kidlit writer/illustrator friends! I took the summer off from blogging for my own WIP and the many transitions happening in my personal world, but great books came out all summer long.

Come September, I’ll be Back-to-School Blogging and would love to focus on your mid-list PB, MG, or YA read that didn’t get enough attention because it was a late spring/summer release. I’d like to post interviews, anatomy-of-an-illustration posts with process drawings, what’s-the-seed-of-your-story posts, and more. Ideally, I’d have enough to post M, W, F throughout September starting 9/5/18. I’ll be prepping these in the next two weeks.

If you are interested in taking part, pitch me your book/post idea with a Facebook message or email. annaeleanorjordan at gmail dot com

VCFA alumni get first dibs so mention that in your note.
If I have space for fall releases I’ll add those in.
SCBWI PAL published books only.

Melanie Crowder’s online class @The Writing Barn: Novel Foundations: The Young Adult Novel

In July of 2011 I graduated with my M.F.A. in Writing with a concentration in writing for children and young adults. I was sure that I was on my way. Publication would be right around the corner. When I received the 2013 PEN New England Children’s Book Discovery award and got an agent shortly after—I was sure that I was on my way. Publication would be right around the corner. A revise and resubmit within the year convinced me that I was on my way. Publication would be right…well you get it.

Persistence is the golden ticket in this business but isn’t easy. I’ve found that a supportive community of other writers and regular professional development keeps me going (along with my “morning pages,” thank you Julia Cameron.)

That’s why I’ve signed up for Melanie Crowder’s upcoming online class, Novel Foundations: The Young Adult Novel, through the Austin-based The Writing Barn.

bw-300x260If you haven’t picked up an award-winning volume by Melanie Crowder where have you been you have a lot to choose from. Young adult historical novels such as the beautiful novel in verse about Clara Lemlich’s campaign for worker’s rights, Audacity, or the heart-breaking An Uninterrupted View of the Sky about Bolivian prisons and the children and families who live there. Middle grade novels that range from the fantastic, A Nearer Moon, to the ecological near future, Parched, to the contemporary, Three Pennies. All of them are lyrical and tightly written stories about characters with realistic, emotional journeys.

Melanie has been kind enough to drop by Creative Chaos.

Welcome, Melanie! This is not the first class you’ve taught online, but this is the first class I’ll be taking online. As a seasoned face-to-face educator, how do you use technology to affect successful learning?

Well, if we could beam every single attendee to the beautiful Writing Barn and back again each night to resume our busy, busy lives I would love to teach this course face-to-face!

But since we haven’t we caught up to Star Trek tech yet, the online platform the Writing Barn uses is pretty seamless. Attendees can all see and hear one another, we can screen-share documents, and have a real-time conversation. I taught a course on Emotion in Fiction using this system and it went very well—we had a great group that generated some really fascinating conversations.

It seems that work-shopping one’s work with other students is an important part of the class. Are comments delivered in print or is there an actual discussion via video?

Yes! We learn so much by putting on different hats—writer, teacher, editor, student. Many times we can see elements that aren’t working in others’ work that we are blind to in our own—it can be so illuminating—especially when the topic we are covering in class becomes clear on the pages we’re discussing.

Your curriculum is chock full of basics including plot, structure, character, conflict and more advanced topics such as voice, dialogue and theme. Are there auxiliary readings or is all the content delivered during the Wednesday night lessons? How will we fit it all in?

Like most of my classes, this one will have a combo of lecture (including excerpts from mentor texts), discussion, and writing exercises. My teaching style is fluid—responsive to the needs of the individuals present—so the ratio of those different elements may shift on any given day. I will also often point attendees to additional resources that I find helpful beyond the scope of what we can cover in class.

No doubt, there will be writers with a wide range of experience. How do you tailor a class to meet everyone’s needs?

I think of learning the craft of writing as a spiral. Sometimes when we circle back to something at a more basic level of understanding, it unlocks deeper connections or reminds us of simple truths we’ve forgotten. And that applies to all of us, at every stage of our writing journey. The minute we close ourselves off to new learning is the moment when our writing begins to stagnate.

My hope is that this class will speak to writers at various stages: writers who are working on a first draft for the very first time, writers who have mastered picture books or middle grade, but are wanting to translate their skills to writing for the teen audience, as well as those who have a few YA manuscripts under their belt, but who are wanting to take their work to the next level.

What are you most looking forward to in teaching this class?

I love connecting with other writers, and the synergy that comes from our collective focus. I love seeing that light go on when new possibilities open up in a writer’s mind. Honestly—it’s thrilling!

Thank you, Melanie! I too am looking forward to meeting a new cohort of lovely writers, spiraling back to forgotten truths, and keeping my current “work in progress”—progressing. Join me!