Hugging the Rock

Ripples from a book

Yesterday the ALA Youth Media awards were announced. It’s a big, big day in the world of children’s literature. Lives are changed by the experience of winning a major award. Careers take a flying leap forward. It seems like everyone in the industry knows the name of the winners, the names of the winning books.

Five years ago, after another ALA Youth Media awards day, I was pumped up with some excitement of my own. No, I didn’t win any big award but I did learn that my middle grade novel, Hugging the Rock, was named an ALA Notable. And it got a lovely, shiny  sticker on the cover.

Let me tell you, that pretty much rocked my world.That was when the book was in hardback. Then it came out in paperback. Then it sold to the UK. Then, well, then Tricycle was sold, the new publisher decided not to reprint the hardback version, and then, well, we got the news that Tricycle was going to be shut down for good. It was hard to remember that happy, shining moment five years ago when my book was new and people were giving it a lot of love. Hey, that’s the way it is in this crazy, wonderful business.But this past week has been filled with some other happy, shining moments with this book. I’m getting those requests from students for book report information (which is all on my website, if you just go to the “about me” page.) And some of those requests were prefaced with the student feedback that showedme they had actually read the book. One student told me that she wasn’t Rachel, the main character, but that she was Sara, and her best friend’s mom was just like Rachel’s mom in the book. She said reading Hugging the Rock helped her understand her friend a little better. Right to my heart with that one.

Then, this week, I received an email from a gentlemen who is going to facilitate a library discussion on Hugging the Rock with a group of students. He wrote to share his story with me and asked me some questions about the book. He was doing some heavy duty research on the story before he talked to the students because he knows, this is a tough topic and not one a lot of people want to deal with. So he spent some time reading my website and then my blog and it led him to this entry where I shared a college paper written by a young woman who identified very strongly with Hugging the Rock.

And then I got it. Some books make a huge splash all at once and get a lot of attention. And that is great and wonderful. (I’m all for anything that gets kids excited about books.)

But some books make ripples instead of splashes. If you’re someone who had a book come out this year and you’re wishing you had a great big splash, I say, don’t worry. There are still ripples to be made. Some books take time to find their audiences. Some books, like Hugging the Rock, need time for the adults to read them and then, to put them into the hands of the children who need to hear the stories.

Sure, who wouldn’t want to make a big splash now and then. But hey, a ripple can go on and on and on every time someone shares a book they love with someone they know needs to hear the story.

So if you can’t make a splash, make a ripple.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , , |18 Comments

Winner of the Hugging the Rock Book Trailer Contest!

Congratulations to FreshBrain user caitlin1591 who is the winner of the $1,000 “FreshBrain Video Book Trailer Scholarship” based on my book, Hugging the Rock. There were so many really talented teens who entered the contest and I want to thank all of them for the time and effort they put into their trailers. Many of them really went for the heartstrings, just like my book.

Thank you, Cailin!

Monday, January 18, 2010|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , , |6 Comments

Grocery Shopping With Mom

I had hoped to have a new poem up today but I didn’t quite finish it. So I went looking through my archive for something to share and came across some poems that were cut from my book Hugging the Rock. If you’ve read the book you may remember a pivotal time for Rachel, the main character, when she goes grocery shopping with her dad. In an early version of the book I had this poem of Rachel shopping with her mom to show the differences. But in the end it was too much of a flashback and didn’t add anything new to the story.


At the grocery store
mom stops to talk to everyone.

She scoops up new babies
sings them lullabies
nuzzles their peach fuzz heads.

In the produce aisle she spouts advice
races off to give her coupons to the old man in the wheelchair
then slips a quarter into the rocket ship
for a skinny kid in a baseball cap.

She tosses boxes of cereal
into the cart
then dances away
chasing a guy blowing a harmonica.

I put four boxes back on the shelf
and trail after her.

In the pet food aisle
mom talks fast
her hands pointing everywhere
and nowhere
until the guy smiles
cups the harmonica
close to his mouth
and plays a sweet tune.

The guy tucks a bag of dog food
under one arm
and they both walk off
still talking.

My mom marches beside him
right through the checkout stand
and out the door
and never once looks back at me.

I wait over an hour
watching the ice cream melt
and drip onto the loaf of bread
and a jar of pickles
wondering what is
in me
that makes me
so invisible
to her.

— Susan Taylor Brown
All Rights Reserved

The round-up is at Becky’s Book Reviews today.

Friday, November 27, 2009|Categories: Poetry Friday, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |18 Comments

Poetry Friday Roundup

The Poetry Friday round-up is here so leave your links in the comments and I’ll round them up through-out the day. (Note, I’m on West Coast so expect some delay.)

I had so much fun doing this audio of the first poem in my book Hugging the Rock that I thought I would repost it for Poetry Friday. It’s called, NO ROOM. I hope you like it.
Read about the evolution of the poem NO ROOM from its inception here or read about the $1000 schloarship contest for teens who create a book trailer for Hugging the Rock here.

CREDIT LINE: Posted with permission from Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown.  Copyright © 2006 by Susan Taylor Brown, Tricycle Press, Berkeley, CA.

NOTE: I have removed the played due to some issues with LJ Embed. You can listen to it by going here instead.

The round-up – a little later than I planned but life had other ideas for me today.

Nandini Bajpai has an original about an Itchy Dog at Notes from New England.

Jama Rattigan is celebrating Johnny Appleseed’s birthday with a poem by Marge Piercy and 4 apple cake recipes:

It’s a feast for the eyes and the ears over at Educating Alice where Monica Edinger shares about the forthcoming book Sweethearts of Rhythm.

Julie Larios offers us a poem by Margaret Gibson titled “Autumn Grasses” – it’s based on an Edo painting by Shibata Zeshin.

A Year of Reading has a poem about fall by Georgia Heard, along with information about her upcoming blog tour!

Today at My World/Mi Mundo the celebration continues for Hispanic Heritage Month with a poem by celebrating Gabriela Mistral, the first Nobel Prize Latina Woman winner in 1945.

Laura Salas shares an original poem called “Without” (not the same as last week’s Without Rancor):
And this week’s 15 Words or Less poems are here.

Heidi Mordhorst is pointing everyone toward the important not-exactly poetry book If You Find a Rock  by Peggy Christian.

Gisele LeBlanc gives us an original poem for children, titled, “Magic Cure“.

Kurious Kitty shares “Invictus” and Random Noodling celebrates the International Day of Peace.

A Sleepy Elf is in with a poem about sleeping (and other things), called “Things” by William J. Smith

Linda is in with four original tanka.

Sara Lewis Holmes blogged about Sherman Alexie yesterday and today she is featuring his new collection of poetry, FACE, and one of the poems in it, “How to Create An Agnostic.”

Laura @ Author Amok says, “Donald Hall is reading here in central Maryland next weekend. I’m sharing his seasonal poem, “Ox Cart Man,” to welcome fall.”

You can find a little bit of Eugene O’Connell posted here.

Tabatha A. Yeatts offers some ancient Greek poetry by Sappho today.

An original cinquain for dog lovers by Kelly Polark.

Poetry Friday on The Stenhouse Blog shares “The Light of September”  by W. S. Merwin.

At Wild Rose Reader, Elaine Magliaro has a poem for Banned Books Week. It’s a revised version of Book Talk 2007, a poem about censorship that she wrote because of the kerfuffle caused by a certain word that Susan patron included in her book THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY. At Political Verses, Elaine has another original–“Dirty Dancing with the Stars: A Poem about Tom DeLay.” And at Blue Rose Girls, Elaine shares a poem by Elaine Equi titled “Ciao Bella Chocolate Sorbet.”

Semicolon is highlighting Felicia Hemans’ poem: “The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck and its imitators.”

Karen Edmisten brings us Taylor Mali’s “Undivided Attention” this week.

Today at Teaching Authors April Halprin Wayland shares a lesson in writing about uncomfortable feelings and an original poem about jealousy.

Lectitans is in with “Against Cinderella” by Julia Alvarez.

Susan at Chicken Spaghetti chimes In with a post that links to poetry by Colin West, including two tongue twisters.

In Honor of Fall the Write Sisters share a favorite from Robert Louis Stevenson at

After reading The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker, an enjoyable book about a poet with writer’s block who has to write an intro to an anthology of rhyming poetry, Emily Cook looked up Sara Teasdale and found a poem perfect for her day.

Jules from 7-Imp says, “I’m in today with a poem from a friend, Shannon Collins“(And some picture book art, too.)

Father Goose shares his original poem “Ars Longa, Vita Brevis“.

Jiill Corcoran put together Poetry for the Classrom: 6 fun poetry lessons for teachers and visiting authors.

Tracy Marchini has an original about a prom date related break-up.(not autobiographical! 🙂 )

Lorie Ann Grover has the I’m missing-my-daughter-blues and shares an original poem titled “Off to College” and at readertotz they have “There was a Little Guinea-Pig”.

Bildungsroman posted lyrics from the song More than Fine by Switchfoot.

Jone at Check It Out has some fun haiku riddles inspired by Tricia (The Miss Rumphius Effect)

Carol of Carol’s Corner is in with a review of Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough’s new book, A PLACE FOR WONDER

Friday, September 25, 2009|Categories: Poetry Friday|Tags: , , , , |53 Comments

Hugging the Rock on TV

How exciting is it to see a copy of your book on TV?

Very. Very very exciting.

A huge thank you to author Katie Davis for showcasing my book, Hugging the Rock, on TV(in Connecticut) for Father’s Day round-up.

Sunday, June 21, 2009|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , |9 Comments

Listen to Me Read – Doctor Dan From Hugging the Rock

In addition to my native garden inspired Haiku for every day in April I am also happy to be able to share permission to do a few audio recordings of some poems from Hugging the Rock to help celebrate National Poetry Month.

CREDIT LINE: Posted with permission from Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown. Copyright © 2006 by Susan Taylor Brown, Tricycle Press, Berkeley, CA.

The Poetry Friday roundup today is at Becky’s Book Reviews.

Today’s poem is Doctor Dan.

Listen to Me Read – No Room From Hugging the Rock

When I was thinking about Poetry Month for this year I knew I really wanted to find something different for me to do in order to feel more involved. So in addition to my native garden inspired Haiku per day I asked my publisher if I could have permission to do a few audio recordings of some poems from Hugging the Rock.

And they said YES!

I have permission for do one audio recording for each Poetry Friday in April. I knew which poem I wanted to do first but I’m still trying to pick out the other three. If you have a favorite, let me know.So here, for the very first time, is an audio of the first poem in the book. It’s called, NO ROOM. I hope you like it.

CREDIT LINE: Posted with permission from Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown. Copyright © 2006 by Susan Taylor Brown, Tricycle Press, Berkeley, CA.

Who's Hugging the Rock?

It’s always hard for me (and perhaps for many authors) to talk about myself and my books. Sometimes I fear people will think I am putting more credence in my words (or self) than I should. Other times I perhaps don’t value myself or my words enough. Sometimes it’s just hard to toot your own horn. Which means it is especially nice when someone comes along who understands where a story might have sprung from or who looks at a story I have written in a completely different way and makes me wonder if that was what I meant all along.

I’ll tell you right now that this is a long post but one I think is worth the time it will take you to read it.

Over the period of writing Hugging the Rock I was asked (and asked myself) what this story was really all about. I started off thinking it was about my daughter and her father. I ended thinking it was about me and never knowing my father. But now, several years after the book has been out, Erica Harrington makes me wonder more about the mother in the story.

I have never met Erica but she won my heart by the kindness that she shows to my son Ryan. They both volunteer at the Loma Vista Life Skills class for adults with disabilities. When Erica told Ryan she was working on a children’s book project for school he put her in touch with me so I could offer whatever helpful tips I might have to share. It was fun to see her excitement as her own book took shape. Toward the end of the school year Erica sent me a paper she had written. A paper she had written on MY BOOK.

This was a first for me and I confess, I was a little bit nervous about opening it the first time. What would I say if it I didn’t like it? Luckily, that was not a problem. Instead I was blown away by her thoughts on the book. I also wanted to give her a hug of my own.

Today is Erica’s birthday, so it seemed like the perfect time to share this. Happy birthday, Erica! May you continue to touch the lives of many with your kind heart.

With Erica’s permission, her is her entire paper on my middle grade verse novel, Hugging the Rock.

                                               Who’s Hugging the Rock

                                                       by Erica HarringtonIn Hugging the Rock, Susan Taylor Brown tells the poignant story of a young girl abandoned by her bipolar mother, her painful attempts to adapt to life without her, and her eventual bonding with her father as they create a new life for themselves. Written in achingly touching free verse in the daughter’s voice, the story will undoubtedly lead most readers to identify with the abandoned daughter, Rachel, and to feel sympathetic toward her clueless but well-meaning father as he tries to make it up to her. Having survived an abusive childhood, I very often identify with the child victim because of the many injustices she must endure at the hands of an unstable parent.  However, Susan Taylor Brown so brilliantly sheds light on the frightening truths of being bipolar, un-medicated, and in the throes of uncontrolled episodes of manic depression that I cannot help but see the unfairness and cruelty of this gripping story through the eyes of the absent mother. While no one would deny the innocent young girl’s suffering in this horrendous situation not of her own making, I would argue that the first victim here is Rachel’s mother.

Rachel’s anguish is evident throughout the story. From the first it is obvious that Rachel is confused and distraught that her mother is packing to leave “with all the things that matter most” (2)—not Rachel: “…By the time she’s done / there’s no room left for anything else. / No room left for Dad. / And no room left for me” (3). It’s clear that Rachel knows her mother’s leaving makes no sense, but that doesn’t lessen the pain, and neither does her father’s explanation: “The hurt / settles in my heart / like one of those giant rocks you tie to something / when you want it to sink / and I feel like I am drowning / in the truth / of his words” (132). Her father’s pain, guilt, and bumbling attempts to bond with her are also apparent. In telling her the whole truth about her mom, Rachel’s father admits, “I felt like a failure” (131), and goes on to say, “…when I couldn’t give you the mom you deserved / I just stopped trying” (131). Their relationship begins to mend and rebuild when she lets him squeeze her hand and tell her lovingly, “…I wanted you then / and I want you now” (132). Both Rachel and her father are sympathetic victims in this situation. But what about the mother?

It’s easy to blame any mother who would abandon her child—she must be selfish or irresponsible or weak—because there is a far greater level of expectation than for fathers, a demand to be perfectly and instinctively maternal. The prototypical fairytale mother is either all-knowing and kind, or completely unfeeling and villainous. But what if your instincts are all wrong, not suited to this responsibility? What if you cannot do what society expects? It is Rachel’s mother who is truly a victim: of her disease, of society’s expectations of women, of society’s ignorance about mental illness, and of her husband’s selfish desire for a child, thinking that he could fix her by tying her down to what for her is a monstrous, impossible responsibility.

Rachel’s father admits his wife did not want a baby. She knew herself well enough to know she couldn’t handle it, but he pressured her anyway, knowing her history of serious instability. Rachel’s dad tells her “…how Mom said she wasn’t cut out to be a mother / and how he said she could learn / and how they fought about it until Mom gave in” (130). Some victory.

There is ample proof Rachel’s mother was unable to handle the responsibility of raising a child because of her unmedicated and uncontrolled manic episodes, both before and after Rachel’s birth.  The risks she took while Rachel was in her care are frightening: “My mom liked to drive fast / especially around corners / where she could jerk the steering wheel so hard / …and she’d take one hand off the steering wheel / …laughing so loud that I had to laugh too” (86). When in a manic state, there is a feeling of invincibility that a person experiences, and this euphoria can be dangerous because of the risks a manic person is willing to take without regard for those around them. Surely Rachel’s father knew this.Who is the real villain here, if there is one? If Rachel’s father knew his wife was “all mixed up inside” (129), to put it mildly, how could he knowingly pressure her into becoming a mother when she was so dependent on him to be her rock? He took advantage of this for his own selfish needs, admitting to Rachel, “…I needed to be needed” (129), and yet he didn’t support her the way she needed him to. He prevailed on her to have a baby, making a promise he had no right to make—”he tells me / how he promised her / that she could leave whenever she wanted…” (130)—putting her in an untenable situation and using guilt and Rachel as a pawn in his attempt to keep her from leaving. How is this fair to Rachel, to know that her mother could not be what she was expected to be, and that her father had brought her into this unstable life to fill his own personal void? Did he even consider the impact it would have on Rachel’s mother, let alone the impact it would have on Rachel herself?

Hugging the Rock
brings out my deepest, most personal fears of becoming a mother and living my life the way Rachel’s mother does—a frightening, never-ending, manic swing of instability, inconsistency and absentminded, uncaring parenting. I feel as though bringing a child into the world when one cannot manage herself is the most irresponsible a person can be when diagnosed with a mental illness. Rachel’s mother did not want to take on that responsibility, she was pressured into it. I would argue, therefore, that it was the healthiest thing for Rachel’s mother to do to leave her daughter with her father because it shows, on some level, that she realizes she cannot fulfill the role of wife and mother forced on her by her husband, on whom she was dependent. The way Rachel’s mother behaves and the way her absence affects Rachel is my greatest fear as a woman with Bipolar Disorder—I do not want to have children for fear of allowing my life and personal relationships to fall in shambles. Susan Taylor Brown’s story of an abandoned girl is an anthem to the power of a father-daughter relationship, yet speaks just as loudly, if not more so, to the tragedy of an abandoned woman, forced to battle her mental illness on her own.

Thank you, Erica.

Thank you for reading my book with such an open heart and mind. Thank you for responding to my story with a full heart. And thank you for letting me share your paper with the rest of the world.

Monday, June 16, 2008|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , |26 Comments

Dublin & San Mateo appearances

Short notice, I know.  Reading and signing for Hugging the Rock.

Barnes & Noble
Dublin, CA 
Saturday, November 10th

Barnes & Noble 
San Mateo, CA, 
Saturday, November 17th
1pm .

If you’re in the area, I’d love to meet you.

Friday, November 9, 2007|Categories: Events|Tags: , , , , |3 Comments

Sticker shock!

Oooh – isn’t it pretty? That’s an ALA notable sticker on my book.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007|Categories: Random, Susan's Books|Tags: , , , |52 Comments

VOYA – this is fun!

This month’s VOYA magazine is out and HUGGING THE ROCK is on their list of Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers for 2006. Between this and making the ALA notables list, I’m thinking I like 2007 a lot.

Sunday, February 4, 2007|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , |24 Comments

2007 Notable Children's Books

I’m tooting my own horn here as I am very thrilled to have found out that Hugging the Rock was named an ALA Notable Children’s Book.   Here’s the complete list.  Congrats to all the wonderful books who made the list.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , , , |100 Comments

some very nice news!

I had a lovely email from my publicist at Tricycle who shared this very nice news with me:

Hugging the Rock has won a place on VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) Magazine¹s Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers. It will be announced and published in their February issue.

I am doing a big WOOHOO here at work and scaring all the engineers.

Thursday, December 14, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , |52 Comments

thank you to Don Tate and Camille at Book Moot

Thanks to Don Tate for his recent comments about Hugging the Rock on his blog. I haven’t heard from a lot of fathers of daughters yet so I had been waiting anxiously for his feedback. Also a big thanks to Camille at Book Moot for her review of Hugging the Rock with a prod and links for librarians to place orders for their own copy. Camille also posted her review on Amazon which I greatly appreciate.

Monday, October 16, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , |1 Comment

Book launch party – the details

Yes, I am remiss in getting these detail of the book launch party posted in a timely manner. But there’s a good reason for that. A very good reason. The launch, pre and post, have been a cause for much self-reflection on my part. Which means that this is a very very long post. I didn’t have time to make it shorter.

Here’s the thing. The party was all about me. That’s a hard thing for an INFP, for an EXTREME INFP, and one that generally has issues with low self-esteem. In the weeks building up to it all, Hayley, my wonderfully energetic publicist, kept saying, “Are you getting excited about it? It’s going to be so much fun.” and I would say “sure” and hang up the phone and begin to worry that maybe I wouldn’t get excited and maybe it wouldn’t be fun and maybe the whole thing would be a flop and the only people who would come would be my devoted husband and in-laws and then my publisher would see that spending all this money on me and the book and the ARCs and everything was this big mistake because obviously I was not going to be able to pull off this competent writer thing. I think I did have one melt-down on the phone with Hayley when we were trying to decide what type of a launch to have and I was all for hanging it on some other community fund-raising event because people might come out to support a non-profit but I simply couldn’t imagine them coming to see me.

Reasons for me thinking that?

#1- I live in San Jose. Population, a million people give or take. Local news is not interested in a writer like me because I have no name (yet?) so coverage in the local paper (except for the online calendar which I don’t think anyone reads) is nada.#2 – I live in San Jose but I grew up in Concord which is about an hour away. But the thing is, I’m not in touch with anyone I grew up with so it was really a moot point. I don’t have a large circle of friends to draw from. My critique group is online and spread out coast-to-coast. I work with a bunch of mostly male engineers who indulge me my writing for children but, you know… So mostly thinking about the guest list was depressing. I felt like a social failure.

#3 – I may work in San Jose but I’m not active in anything. When I my kids were young and I lived out in Oakley we had baseball and soccer and gymnastics and 4H and horse shows and karate and PTO and so many events with so many people that the guest list would have been HUGE. I have only done 2 school visits since moving back to California so I didn’t even have those contacts to draw upon. (I hadn’t been doing visits because until fall of 2005 – the PB in print was spiritual and not appropriate for most schools.) The fact that I wasn’t active in my town was brought home to me when working on a recent grant application and community contributions counting for a large percentage of the “grade.” After reading that, I doubt I’ll finish the application.

So if you are an extreme INFP like me, perhaps you can understand my difficulty with the idea of the event. I wanted to do it. I wanted to be excited about it. But it really seemed like an uphill battle. Then I got a case of the gotta wannas. The gotta wannas are what you get when you want something badly enough to work your rear off to make it work even when the odds seem stacked against you. Publishing is a gotta wanna. This event turned out to be another. Thing is, I started off wanting it to be a hit for everyone else who wanted it to be a hit for me. I didn’t want to let down Nicole, my editor and publisher and a real rock to me or the energetic marketing team of Laura and Hayley who continually work like crazy to make me feel like a superstar or my husband EG who puts up with so much so I can write or my in-laws who are the best support system I could ever hope to have or Karen, my former agent who drove all the way up San Luis Obispo to be there or my current agent Jodi who finds time for me in the midst of the 1001 other things she has to do for people who are way more well known than I can ever imagine being and so on and so on and so on.

Leading up to the party I had a lot of time to think about two very important things. What to wear and what to read. The week before the event (I am good at leaving things to the last minute) I raced into Nordstroms and informed the salesgirl that I wasn’t leaving until I had one great outfit. It took close to 3 hours but we managed to find one. Another hour in the shoe department (alas, no red boots in sight ala thatgirlygirl but I did find some fabulous red shoes with the requisite pointy toe.) Deciding what to read took longer and right up until the moment I opened the book and started to read I was still changing my mind about that. It was helpful to have gone to Patty McCormick’s reading a few weeks before and see how she skipped through the book but still gave a nice representation of the story. I had many Post-it notes on pages of one book and then worried about losing the book before the reading. Things I also worried about: wondering where I would keep my purse while I was speaking, whether to pull all my hair away from my face (my mother’s voice in my head) or let it just hang down in front like usual, when to refreshen my lipstick so it would last the longest, when to go to the bathroom for the last time before things started, if I would mispronounce the word marmoset in the last poem I planned to read and what the chances were that I would either tip over on my 1″ heel or spill water down the front of my new and expensive clothes. Actually the chances were high on both of those things but luckily, neither happened.

The day of the event I went to work like any other day. My publicist called mid-day to go over a few things and said, “You’re at work?” My former agent called me from the road and said, “You’re at work?” I had lunch in the cafeteria with my friend MM and he said, “Aren’t you excited? I’m excited. Come on, get excited.” About then I started to worry that I WOULDN’T get excited and that I would mess the whole thing up. But about 2pm the adrenalin kicked in and I was like “OMIGOSH” it’s almost time for the party!

I went home early to be sure that I had plenty of time to get ready but of course I had several mini panic moments that almost made me late, the last of which was punching holes in the straps of my new shoes so they didn’t slip off my feet while I was walking. I could trip just fine without any help, thank you very much. I got to the store in plenty of time and lo and behold there was a parking place right in front of the store. This was a good thing except for the fact that it required parallel parking. Here’s hoping that none of the guests were in those cars I blocked while making a 10 point turn parallel parking exhibition.

The gracious Sandy (store events coordinator) was there to greet me with the words, “Oh you’re so early” which immediately made me feel like I had done something wrong until I remembered that I had told my former agent I’d be there early so we could chat. I went to the bathroom and pulled my hair back with combs, took them out then put them back in again. Put on more lip gloss and went out to wait for the food to arrive while they set up the tables and chairs.

Right about HERE is where the picture of the poster advertising my party and the book in the glass case outside of Books Inc would go had I remembered to take a picture. Use your imagination. Got it? It was better than that. And HERE is where the picture of the huge display of Hugging the Rock would go had I remembered to take a picture of it. They also had a few copies of Oliver’s Must-do List and Can I Pray With My Eyes Open? on display as well. Sigh. Next time perhaps I will remember.

Karen, (former agent) was the first to arrive with her dog Zoe.  Zoe had a stroke a few weeks ago but pulled out of it and the store let her come in and stay for the event. (Books Inc, at least in Mountain View, is a very dog friendly store) In case it seems weird for my former agent to be there you should know that Karen was the person who first showed Hugging the Rock to Nicole at Tricycle. There’s another whole long story about what happened after that and how Karen stopped agenting and I got the wonderful Jodi as my new agent but I won’t go into all that here.

All at once it seemed like people showing up right and left.

Food arrived and had to be arranged. Husband arrived and my first question to him was did I need more lip gloss. He said no. I asked if my lips were sparkly shiny and he said yes. But even so I went back to the bathroom and put on more lip gloss. (I know what you’re thinking. Stop laughing please.) He took the camera and promised to shoot lots of pictures. I don’t think we had time to chat again until we were both home.

I lost track of who came in when but each time the door opened and I saw a familiar face it was like being at a wedding and realizing that everyone was there to see you (or me, as the case might be.) People from my work showed up. Hugs ensued. People my husband worked with walked in. More hugs. People I used to work with but who had been laid off arrived and everyone was catching up with everyone else. Some old friends from SCBWI were there and some new faces for me, new writers just starting out joined in the fun. Walter the Giant and Jack from my acting class and I am sure I am forgetting people and I apologize. My in-laws arrived bringing friends with them. Nicole, my publisher and her husband and her father and step mom were there. Summer, another Tricycle editor and Laura and Hayley in marketing and publicity arrived and even Dr. Melody, the surgeon who set my broken finger, managed to stay for most of the event before being called to the ER. Around 60 people were there all told. People I work with made a lot of comments about how fabulous I looked which leads me to believe I should consider dressing a bit better for my day job.

People were nibbling on food and mingling and I was trying to make sure that some people met one another but it was tough. Then suddenly it seemed like everyone was seated and it was time to get started.

Sandy did a wonderful job of introducing me.  She went to my website and learned all about me and shared quite a bit during the intro. She read the book (yes, sometimes people introduce you that haven’t read your book.) She managed to get several plugs for people to go check out my website. And then she handed me the microphone.

I was ready. I had the book. I had the pages marked.  But wait, I still had my glasses on.

This meant I could see the people in the audience great but I wasn’t sure if I could read. If I had had more experience with microphones (this was my first time with one) I might have had the presence of mind to stop and put it on the stand and adjust it low but instead, I just took it from Sandy and started to talk, thanking people for coming and then going right into the first poem. Luckily I guess I had read that one enough that I could manage it slightly blurry but as soon as I came to the end I took off my glasses. This of course meant that I could read just fine but the people in the audience were a bit blurry. This might have been a good thing after all. I could see the outline of the Tricycle Press people standing in the back of the room. (Did I mention that there were so many people there that it was standing room only?)

Laura (marketing manager) kept gesturing to me to practically eat the microphone. The only hiccup in everything was that the mic had a short and it kept cutting in and out. Since I had no idea what to do I just kept moving the microphone around but didn’t pause in my speaking. Later I had many people tell me that I handle the mic problems like a pro but really I think I was on auto pilot and wanted to finish the speaking part. I’m grateful for whatever instincts carried me through.  I did not cry during the reading but I was afraid I might at either THE ROCK or MADISON. The last poem I read was THE TRUTH ABOUT FATHERS and I did not mispronounce marmoset. Whew! When I was done there was much clapping from the audience and much relief from me that I survived. Tricycle gave away a couple of copies of the book in a drawing and I sat down to sign them. When I looked up there was this tremendous line of people with more books for me to sign. I was, to say the least, a bit blown away.

The bookstore sold a lot of books and was very happy. My publisher and the rest of the Tricycle family kept telling me how proud they were of me. People came to give me more hugs, a few gifts, some flowers, and say goodbye. Then it was time for the part of the night I had been looking forward to most of all. Giving gifts to a few special people. I knew I could do flowers or chocolate but I really wanted something that would have staying power. The Tricycle Press crew is a new family for me and they have set the bar for my ideal publisher/editor/writer relationship.

So I had something special made for them. Rocks. Carved rocks. . There’s some writing on the back of each one too. It was great fun to hand them out and see their reaction. Michael at Let’s Rock did a fabulous job on them. They are even more spectacular in person.

I kept all my emotions under control until late in the evening when I was trying to tell the Tricycle team how much they meant to me and Laura said to me, “You get back what you give.” and I about lost it. In the several days post launch as I have been reliving it I find I am growing more, not less, emotional about it all. I think I finally have to let go of the image of the person I thought I was, the person I didn’t like so I couldn’t imagine anyone else liking either. I have to let go of the guilt of not being some imagined “perfect person” and realize that people like and accept me as I am right now. And if they all think I am a person of value then maybe I better start to believe in it too.

So that was my night of feeling like a super star. I wish you all could have been there to celebrate with me.

Saturday, September 30, 2006|Categories: Events, Susan's Books|Tags: , , , , , |85 Comments

bookplates for Hugging the Rock

If you want a bookplate for Hugging the Rock (or one of my other books) just send me an email with your mailing address (tell me what book and who to sign it to) and I will gladly put one in the mail.

If you bought Hugging the Rock, could you please tell me where? (Name of bookstore, city and state/online) I’m plotting a map of Hugging the Rock sightings. Yes, I know I’m a bit weird but thanks for indulging me.

Saturday, September 30, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: |9 Comments

Book Launch is tonight & thank yous

A final reminder to everyone that the book launch party for Hugging the Rock is tonight, 7pm, at Books Inc in Mountain View. (301 Castro Street) I wish all my LJ journal friends could be there.

Maybe life will return to my semblance of order after tonight. I hope. I really hope.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006|Categories: Events, Susan's Books|Tags: |20 Comments

Teacher's guide for Hugging the Rock

I can’t remember if I posted this yet or not but I did, some of you could probably do with a reminder, right? 🙂

Thanks to traciezimmer I have a fabulous teaching guide for Hugging the Rock. Go ahead and download the PDF. (You know you want to.) If you are a teacher or librarian and you use Hugging the Rock with your class, I would love to know what you did and how it went. 

Sunday, September 17, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , , |3 Comments

The Rock

Some time ago I posted here about the evolution of the first poem in my new book, Hugging the Rock. Since the book is officially out now, I thought I would share another poem from the book. This one is called, THE ROCK, and appears at the beginning of the book on the very day that the main character’s mom runs away from home. People ask me who the “rock” is based on and like many characters in books, he is a mix of several people with healthy dashes of my imagination. I never knew my dad (but I do know that he was NOT a rock) but for the first ten years of my life I had a grandfather that I followed everywhere. He was a quiet man who never said the words “I love you” even though he showed it in many ways.


Madison waits for an invitation
to jump into her usual spot
on the front seat of Mom’s car.
Mom pushes her away
but Madison doesn’t understand
and starts to bark.

Mom tells me again
my place is with Dad.
She tells me
someday I’ll understand.

I look at Dad
who is trying hard not to look at Mom
as she gets ready to drive away.
He hugs his arms close to his chest
sucks his bottom lip in over his teeth.
He wears what Mom calls his disappearing face
because when he wears it
all his feelings just disappear
and no one can tell what he’s thinking.

I go stand next to him.
I want to hold his hand and have him hold mine
but that’s not the way things work
with me and Dad.

I lean on him just a little
too much
and he steps away.
I wobble
back and forth
before I catch my balance.

Mom says he’s a rock,
the good kind you can always count on
to do the right thing.

It’s hard for me to think of a rock
as something good.
Some rocks are heavy
and make you sink.
Some rocks are too big to move.
And some rocks are sharp
and cut you
if you try to hold them in your hand.

Susan Taylor Brown
from the book Hugging the Rock
Tricycle Press, September 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006|Categories: Poetry Friday, Susan's Books, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |13 Comments

Hugging the Rock reviews

Thank yous are in order, some long overdue:

Thanks to  Kelly over at Big A little a and Jen Robinson at Jen Robinson’s Book Page  for putting Hugging the Rock on their lists of top books for 2006. I’m honored to be listed with so many other wonderful books.

I don’t know if I posted a recent interview over at I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Little Willow over at Slayground and more recently, this interview with Vision Magazine

Some recent reviews for Hugging the Rock by loopiesnood and booksbynight . Oh and Bookshelves of Doom reviewed it here:

Thanks to kidlit_kim for posting this review to YA Books Central  and in the September issue, this review from School Library Journal:

Gr 5-8-Presented in brief, free-verse poems, this is a poignant character study of a dysfunctional family. In the opening sequence, Rachel watches her mother get ready to “run away from home,” packing up the car with everything that is important to her, except her daughter. When Mom is gone, neither Rachel nor her father can cope. Rachel shuts down and ignores schoolwork and friends, questioning why her mother left and blaming herself. Dad does not initially provide much comfort, closing himself off, too. As in Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie (Candlewick, 2000), father and daughter gradually grow closer together out of necessity and begin to pull together as a family. Rachel must accept the painful truth that her mother, who suffers from bipolar disorder, never really wanted to settle down or have children. Her father, who in the past had left most of the parenting to her mother, begins to play an active role in Rachel’s life and reveals his softer side, ultimately becoming more involved and affectionate. Written in straightforward language, the text clearly reveals Rachel’s emotions, describing moments both painful and reassuring. This novel will be therapeutic to children dealing with the loss of a parent or a mental illness.-Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Thank you to everyone who is supporting Hugging the Rock. It’s a real warm, fuzzy feeling when people read your book and then like it enough to tell someone else about. Blog posts, reviews, bookslists – they all add up. So if you have read Hugging the Rock and liked it enough to reccomend it to even just one person, you have made a difference and I’m grateful.

Thursday, September 14, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , |6 Comments

It's a real book and remember that blurb I mentioned???

Today is my book’s secret birthday! That special day when authors receive their very first copy of their new book. I knew what it was as soon as I saw the envelope. I could feel the hard cover inside the padding as soon as I picked it up. I carried it around the house and debated where to sit when I opened it and, for a moment, whether to wait until my husband got home late tonight from his week long business trip. No. There would be no waiting. It had been a rough week. (I haven’t even told y’all the story of my broken glass all over the kitchen.) So I plopped down on the couch and pulled the tab on the back of the envelope. I pulled hard. Too hard. Gobs of gray glitter came flying out. Wait. No, it wasn’t glitter. It was just the packing material from the envelope. Sigh.

It was shrinkwrapped. Whew! No gray gunk to stick to the cover. I’ve never had a book come to me shrinkwrapped before. I stroked the plastic front and back before using my fingernail along the top edge to slice through the plastic and slip it out the book. I held it up to my nose and sniffed. Chelsie (my dog) thought I had food so she demanded to sniff it too. I flipped the pages. Sniffed some more. Showed the insides to Chelsie then pulled it away before she started to drool on it.

It’s a book. A real book. It’s not my first book but it feels so different. It’s a NOVEL, not a picture book, not an easy reader, not an educational anything. It’s a verse novel. It’s poetry. Omigosh…it POETRY. (That still sort of freaks me out.)

It’s beautiful. I have seen all the elements that went into the book, the design, the font, the cover, the flap copy and the author info but this, seeing it in its altogether, well it is just the sweetest thing. (Cue up some U2, will you please?)

And when I turned it over there was that blurb, that wonderfully almost unbelievable blurb from a poet whom I admire tremendously. (Someone remind me later to post about how my editor actually first told me about the blurb.)

Yes, Lee Bennett Hopkins blurbed my book!!! Now you know my blurb-secret I’ve been keeping.

In case the image doesn’t come through, here’s the text of the blurb that my editor said I could now share.

“Brown creates a poignant work dealing with a topic rare in children’s literature. In spare, poetic prose, the pain and angst of a young girl whose bipolar mother leaves, never to return, is detailed. The heart of the story is the growing relationship between Rachel and her father – a rock with soft spots – and how they must learn to live, love, cope – go on with their lives – together. Readers will hug this book. I did.”

Let me tell you, Lee writing a blurb really rocked (pun intended) my world!

Official pub date is September 1st!  You have called your local independent bookstore and asked them to order you a copy, haven’t you? No? Well go ahead and do that right now. I can wait. I’ll just be flipping through the pages, rereading my book, while you’re gone.

PS to someone, I can’t remember whose blog it was (sorry) who asked for a jacket photo of poet who was smiling. This is me raising my hand. I’m smiling in the pic on the jacket flap for Hugging the Rock.

Friday, June 30, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , |58 Comments

Evolution of a poem from Hugging the Rock

For this week’s Poetry Friday I thought it might be interesting to go back to the first poem in HUGGING THE ROCK and see if I could trace it from idea to finished poem. So here you have it from raw idea to what you can read on the first page when the book comes out. I didn’t journal much as I wrote this book so there aren’t a ton of notes.  Some, but not a lot.

Summer of 2002
What’s the point of this book? Mom leaves. Okay. So what. Big frigging deal if Mom is such a creep to start with. She can’t be a total creep. Who wants read a book about a kid who misses a rotten Mom? I need to go back to basics. Start with the day that is different.

(This first bit – below – was originally written in the margins of an agenda for a meeting I was attending. The words wrapped around the border of the typed part of the agenda. I would have turned it over to write on the blank back but then it would have been too obvious that I wasn’t paying full attention. The writing is big and loopy, the kind I used back in high school, which means I was definitely “in the zone.” I was still thinking prose novel at this point, not verse.)

Don’t go. When my mom decided to run away from home she packed up her car with all the little things that mattered most and when she was done there was no room left for Travis her dog or my dad or me.

November 2002
From an email to a friend.
Prepare to be whined at. I have no idea what I am doing with this book and why I am crazy enough to want to write about divorce because mine still hurts too damn much. Don’t worry, I AM happy NOW but when I think about writing this story it means dealing with all that old crap all over again and I don’t know if I can handle that and all the other junk that is going on in my life too. My body hurts too much. I am physical pain and then I come up with the frigging brilliant (insert sarcasm here) idea to go back to the worst emotional pain in my life? I must be  crazy. I need drugs. That’s it. Medicate me and then maybe I can handle it.

From email to a different friend.
I just wanted to say thank you. A few months ago you recommended that I try working in poems for the short bursts of time I have for my own creativity. I wanted to tell you that it is working pretty well. I wish I had more time but I can see progress and that’s what counts. I have tried to write this MG novel 5/6 times before without much luck. So I’m trying it in free verse. I can rough one out (or at least the idea of it) during downtime at work. In bed, just before going to sleep, I’ll work on it a little more by hand in my notebook and then the next time I have computer time, I type it in and revise a bit more. The story is slowly unfolding, I’m getting something new down on paper, and it all feels good. So many thanks for the nudge at a time I needed it.



When Mama decided to run away from home
she packed up her car
with all the things that mattered most to her.

Her guitar (of course)
and cookbooks (good riddance)
all her CDs
her clothes
her shoes
and Grandma’s music box..

Just before she left
she threw in some dishes
and a plant from the front porch.
She put a bunch of plastic grocery bags
with who knows what in it
on the floor in the front seat.

When she finally started the car
there was no room left for anything else
and dad and I were leftovers in the driveway.

Okay, it’s got a hint of a voice and idea but nothing really reaches out and grabs me except for the feeling of being leftover. The title doesn’t work. Not yet. There might be too much information and I’m not sure at this point what I am going to do with it.




When Mama decided to run away from home
she packed up her car
with all the things that mattered most to her.

By the time she was done
there was no room left for anything else.
No room left for dad.
And no room left for me.

I was hoping for impact with this shorter version. No such luck. Alas, there isn’t enough specific detail to make you care enough to read anything else. And where the heck is the voice? And crud, does this character even have a name and if she does, do I need it here, at the beginning of the book? How long will a reader read without a name? 

Email to a friend in February 2004.
This book still scares the hell out of me.

Reply from friend.
Good. Keep writing. The more you hurt the stronger the connection with the reading. Let yourself cry. You’re safe now.



When Mama decides to run away from home
she packs up her car
with all the things that matter most
to her.

Her guitar
and some books
all her CDs
her clothes
her shoes
the quilt from the bed she shares with Dad
and Grandma’s music box
that sits on the fireplace mantle.

At the last minute
she throws in some dishes
and a potted red geranium that keeps guard on the front porch.
She jams plastic grocery bags filled with odds and ends
into the small spaces left in-between things
and ties a couple of suitcases onto the roof.

By the time she is done
there is no room left for anything else.
No room left for Dad.
And no room left for me.

Better. It is more specific and the ending leaves a specific image in the reader’s mind which is what I wanted. 

For the next year and a half, as I went through the various revisions for myself, my critique group, my old agent, my new agent and editor, this poem didn’t change very much. A word here, a line break there. What follows here is the final version (I think – there might have been an odd change that I can’t find in my emails) that will appear in the book (September 2006, Tricycle Press).


November 18 2005

No Room

When my mom decides to run away from home
she packs up her car
with all the things that matter most
to her.

Her guitar
and some books
all her CDs
her clothes
her shoes
Grandma’s music box from the fireplace mantle
and the quilt from the bed she shares with Dad.

She jams plastic grocery bags filled with soap and shampoo
into the small spaces left in between things
and ties a couple of suitcases to the roof.
At the last minute
she throws in a few dishes
some towels
and a potted red geranium that guards the front porch.

Dad tells her not to pack stuff too high
so she can still see out the back window
but she ignores him
and shoves her pillow
between her guitar case and the portable TV.

By the time she’s done
there’s no room left for anything else.
No room left for Dad.

And no room left for me.



Thursday, June 8, 2006|Categories: Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , , |24 Comments

Tricycle Press booth at BEA

My thanks to my lovely and talented friend Dian Curtis Regan for sending me this picture
of the Tricycle Press booth from BEA. Notice the beautiful light box!

Friday, June 2, 2006|Categories: Events|Tags: |50 Comments

A writing update

I’m doing lots of thinking and not much posting so here’s a quick update on my writing life. I think I have new names for the two major characters. I’ve been living with them for a few days and they feel pretty good. I have no doubt anymore that the MC is male and not female. I spent a lot of time (that I should have been writing) looking for pictures that might represent my MC and his world with the intent to make a collage. I still might do that but then I realized (after a frustrating number of hours going nowhere) that I am more auditory than visual so I don’t know that it would help.

I am struggling with too much thinking on this project.  I am thinking in terms of story arc more than I did at this stage with HTR. When I started HTR it was a novel, then it was verse but this is verse yet I can’t not think about plot. Sigh. No two projects are birthed the same, that is a simple fact. I am most struggling with the idea that I have not yet hit upon the proper unique factor. In HTR the father/daughter relationship was unique. In MTLB, so far everything sounds ordinary. Kids grow up in bad familes, families have money issues, violence issues, addiction issues. Sigh. Perhaps later, working in the yard, I will be able to find that angle.

In the very happy news department I got the book jacket for HTR yesterday and it is lovely, simply perfect. I love the flap copy. I love my bio. I even don’t hate my photo. And on the back of the jacket, set off alone in the middle of the page, is a single blurb. A beautiful blurb. A blurb that made me cry. I can’t post it for public knowledge yet but the “wow” factor is major!

Friday, May 26, 2006|Categories: Writing Life|Tags: , |37 Comments

Research is another word for procrastination

I usually start researching a new book while I am in the midst of a current project. The idea behind that being I want to shorten the down time between finishing a book and diving into something new. It doesn’t work because no matter how much pre-research I have done I seem to always need a few months of down time (woe-is-me I’ll never write again time) between books. It’s my process and I try to honor it even if I don’t like or understand it.

Even though I ground my books by tying them in some time or way to an aspect of myself and my life there is always some sort of research to be done. Research for me usually starts with reading a bunch of fiction that has been pubbed in an area that might be similar to mine. (Books that would show up on a list of  “If you liked this book then you might like this one.”) So for HUGGING THE ROCk I read every verse novel I could get my hands on. Then I read a lot of novels about divorce and mental illness and family relationships. After I feel full up on fiction it’s time to dig in deep for the details and move to the non-fiction. For Hugging the Rock that meant a lot of psychology stuff, case histories, divorce stories – you get the idea. When I couldn’t stand to read another word it was time to get down to the actual writing. Well, the trying to write. As I explained in a recent interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith the words didn’t exactly race from my fingertips to the page.

Anyway. HUGGING THE ROCK is done. I’ve gone through the galley for the final corrections and after a last chat with my editor tomorrow it heads off to the printers next week. It’s time to write. I made a commitment to start a new verse novel that I will refer to by the acronym MTLB until it is sold. I know sort of what it is about. (It’s inspired by the year long writing program I did at an alternative school a few years ago.) I know sort of who it is about. (M and his dad and N and his dad and Mrs. W.) I did a lot of research the last six months on juvenile justice and poverty and teaching and a bunch of other stuff that may or may not make it into the book. I wrote a few poems. I wrote a couple more. Then I got stuck and found myself using the excuse that I needed to do more research. Read just one more case history. Google a few more phrases. Watch one more movie. (Hey, movies are GREAT for research.) But after a few days of this I realized the truth. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t researching. I was just procrastinating. Sometimes I wonder if procrastination is just a stew bubbling on a backburner, waiting for us to throw everything into the pot, stirring and adding interesting ingredients until the smell overpowers us and we simply have to dig in.

So yes, research is important. But knowing when to stop researching is important too. The research will still be there after I finish a draft, if I feel I really need it but you can’t factcheck a book you haven’t written yet.

And in the “thank you for all the kind words about me” department, I’ve had a few more shout-outs. It always feels a bit awkward tooting my own horn but here goes:

My picture book Oliver’s Must-do List received a nice review from Jen Robinson’s Book page.

Jen also reviewed Hugging the Rock. My favorite lines in review? “Rachel’s voice is pitch perfect.” and the fact that she calls the Mother’s Day poem “brilliant” and that she said, “I give it my highest recommendation.” Wow! Thank you, Jenn.

More lovely words about Hugging the Rock over here at Mindy’s Book Journal. and here at  Bec’s Book Blog.

Thank you so much for your support of my book.

Thank you, Fuse #8 Production

Thank you to Fuse #8 Production for the lovely (and first!) review of Hugging the Rock.

My favorite lines?

“Hugging” is a particularly enjoyable read. Dealing with issues as difficult as those found in any Karen Hesse or Sharon Creech book, Brown gives us the story of those who run away and those that stay.

Hell, it’s downright gutsy to go and create a mother character that seriously does not love her daughter.

It’s really gratifying to hear that someone “gets” the book the way you had hoped they would.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , |7 Comments

The artist

Argh – how could I forget to mention that the artist is the amazingly talented Michael Morgenstern who did the striking cover of SPEAK.

How lucky am I?


Monday, March 20, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: |0 Comments


Those were the words from my Marketing & Publicity Manager when she got her first look at the galleys for Hugging the Rock today. And the publisher said the galleys rock and were absolutely gorgeous. Oh it’s going to be hard to wait until they get to me. (You HAVE entered the contest, haven’t you? Deadline is midnight.) And they are going to hand out galleys at the following conferences: PLA, TLA, IRA, BEA, ALA.

Translations for those acronyms are:
* Public Library Association
* Texas Library Association
* International Reading Association
* Book Expo
* American Library Association

Oh me. Oh my. I just wish I could figure out how to get my local paper to review me but it seems to be nigh on impossible. Time for me to go over my list of other reviewers and work on some good pr campaigns.


Friday, March 17, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , |30 Comments

Galleys and blurbs and many things

So when Cynthia Lord knew her galleys were coming for book Rules she got the bright idea to hold a little contest to see when they would arrive and offered to send a copy of the galleys to the winner. I’ve been racking my brain  trying to think of a unique contest of my own for the galleys but no such luck. I decided that if you’re going to copy, why not copy from the best? With credit to cynthialord I hereby launch the official Hugging the Rock “When Will They Get Here” galleys contest. My publicist said they have been ordered and will be at the publisher on Friday. This Friday. Then mine will be shipped to me. Note: Both my publisher and I are on the same coast.

By my reckoning I should have them by the end of March so here are the ten arrival date options:
3/19, 3/20, 3/21, 3/22, 3/23, 3/27, 3/28, 3/29, 3/30, 3/31  Pick one and win!

And another plug for you to sign up for my newsletter (just in case you forget to read my blog.) The first issue will go out shortly and, if you’re a subscriber, there will be another contest in the newsletter to win a copy of the published book.

Getting early attention for your book is really important but I think it’s also hard for many writers to do because so many of us, (like ME) are introverts. I have a hard time jumping up and down and asking people to look at my book, read my book, review my book. But I truly believe that Hugging the Rock is the best thing I have written yet and if it takes me going out on the limb to the uncomfy zone to talk about it, I will. So that brings me to the topic of blurbs. My publisher mentioned it was time to start thinking about blurbs. Blurbs are endorsements, bits of praise, the appear on the cover (back or sometimes front). Actually they’re used in all sorts of promotional efforts.

Usually they’re by someone famous but my publisher said they use blurbs from regular readers, reviewers, librarians, etc for all sorts of things. But asking people to read for the purpose of blurbing is hard. First off, just because you like a person doesn’t mean you will (or have to) like their book. But some people don’t understand that. Some people think that if you hate their book you hate them. And some people are afraid to be asked to blurb for one person because then they’ll feel like they are fair game for everyone else to ask. So it’s a decidely awkward place to be. I’ll just say this, if you read a copy of the book, in galley or final form, and you want to comment on it, good, bad, or whatever, you can send to me, but you can also send to any comments to Laura at the email above.

Hugging the Rock is a journey of the heart that does make many people cry, but it is a hopeful journey that portrays a relationship not often seen in children’s books, a positive relationship between a girl and her father. In writing this book I gave myself the father I’ve never known.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books|Tags: , , , , , , |18 Comments

Pa-pa-pa Pages – I have pages

I’ve spent the last few days going over the pages for Hugging the Rock. What a difference it is to see it in actual design form. I LOVE the interior font they chose for the titles. It’s perfect. It’s a little scary being at this stage of the game, going over each line knowing you can’t really rewrite something unless there is a very VERY good reason for it but still needed to make sure the book is as strong as you possibly can make it. I still love the book, though, and that’s important. A few of the poems still made me teary eyed which I consider a good thing when you think of how many times I’ve gone over the book in the last oh, 3 years.

And the cover. I can’t show it to you yet but can I just say that the cover is amazing. It “speaks” volumes and that’s a bit of a clue for you mystery buffs.

Okay, back to work. Pages need to be back to my editor by Thursday and then I have a book proposal on another project due by the end of this month before I take off for our SCBWI Asilomar conference.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006|Categories: Susan's Books, Writing Process|Tags: , , , |5 Comments