shameless self-promotion

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

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

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

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

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