And the frenzy begins – Kidlitcon

Tomorrow morning I leave on an early (oh way too early) flight for Minneapolis for KidLitCon

I’m going a bit early so I can have time with my friend  and the folks over at The Children’s Literature Network where I work as a web editor. I’ve been so jealous when all my co-workers there get together each month and this month I get to join them.

I love going to conferences where I’m not speaking because there’s no pressure and I don’t feel like I’m “on” the whole time I’m there. But the down side is that I tend to pull into my introverted self and sometimes spend too much time alone which is dumb when you make the effort (and spend all that money) to travel so far. On my trip to Austin last year I did a pretty good job of connecting and made some wonderful new friends. I hope I’ll do as well this time too. It’s a small gathering of what looks like about 100 people or so. I hope to see some of you there.

So today it’s all about the craziness that is me packing and unpacking and repacking because I tend to first pack way too much and then have to edit it all down to the bare essentials, kinda like my writing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010|Categories: Events|Tags: |2 Comments

Poetry Power on BlogTalkRadio

Huge thank you to Katie Davis for having me on her BlogTalk Radio show to talk about the poems I wrote (about the father I’ve never known) for National Poetry Month.

For those of you who missed the live event, you can listen to the archive version here on BlogTalkRadio or in iTunes .


Tuesday, June 15, 2010|Categories: Events, Listen to Me Read, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , , |1 Comment

Tuesday drive-by post

I am thinking about blogging but as we all know, thinking about blogging and actually blogging are not the same thing. So here is a drive-by post of what’s going on.

I’m tackling the still-massive to-do list, trying to whittle it down to size before I head to Austin in a few weeks. Actually less than that. I fly out on the 1st! Woohoo! Looking forward to meeting some online folks face-to-face like Liz Scanlon and Don Tate and others and hopefully getting to spend some time with my friend Peni. But before I go I have a bunch of work-for-hire stuff to get done because I intend to come home from Austin all fired up.

I think I officially have a cold. I have been fighting it off and I was hoping that it was just the results of talking so much at the presentation on Saturday but no, stuffy head wanna sleep gunk in the back of the throat tells me otherwise. So this stinks because I also don’t want to be sick when I travel and I have a hard time kicking colds.

Speaking of the presentation on Saturday, I just love this picture of me and Lynn (wait, did I just say I loved a picture of me? I did and I do) because it shows how much fun we had there. It was a great group, the Tri Valley branch of California Writers Club, and such good energy.

We have a new bubbling rock in the backyard for the birds and I can see it from my writing desk. This was important because the other bubbling rock and bird bath are hidden from me when I’m at the computer desk. To see them I have to go to my research desk or the reading chair. Anyway, the birds are having a blast there and it seems to be a favorite of the finches. The sparrows and pine siskins like to do the group bathing thing, 7 or 8 birds at a time in the bird bath and it is too much for the finches. They seem to be enjoying the new bubbler away from everything else.

I am also trying to plan the updates that are needed for the garden since cooler weather is coming and that’s the time to get the native plants in the ground. But it’s hard because when I start thinking about plants I start thinking about plant kid and want to work on his story, and I can’t let myself do that right now. The focus has to stay on Flyboy.

Back to the WFH project. There is one I think, I hope, I can finish today.

What are you up to this week?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009|Categories: Events|Tags: |12 Comments

Survey – Social Media & the publishing world

I’m working on a presentation for authors about Social Media & the publishing world. I’d love to get some feedback on any of the following questions:

#1 What is your connection to the publishing world? 

Other. Please explain.

#2 Which of the following to do you participate in?

Other? Please explain.

#3 List your favorites from above and explain why and/or how you use them.

#4 Has Twitter/Facebook/Linkedin helped you in any way with your job? Research? Finding a job? Making an important connection? Please give any examples.

#5 What is the best and the worst about Twitter/Facebook/Linkedin?

#6 How to do you manage to participate in social media and still have time to write/edit/do your job?

#7 Have you ever made a mistake in the social media network and wish you could take it back? Can you share?

#8 How important do you think it is for authors to utilize Twitter/Facebook/Linkedin and why?

Thanks in advance! And please, if you can, help spread the word so I can get as much feedback as possible.

If you would rather not respond online and want to email me, you can send your responses to: susantaylorbrown (AT) gmail (DOT) com
   Follow me on Twitter @susanwrites

Sunday, March 15, 2009|Categories: Events|Tags: |44 Comments

A perfectly lovely Saturday

Today I drove to Plesanton, about 40 minutes, to speak to the Tri-Valley branch of California Writers Club. Giving a speech is always sure to bring a few surprises but the big surprise for me had nothing to do with my speech.

I got out of my car, turned around in the parking lot and meet non-other than my online friend.  I have been hoping to connect with Becky for months and figured it would happen eventually at one of our own local branch meetings. I was so happy to see her there and look forward to many more connections in the future.

It was such a fun day. The energy in the room was all positive and the club is very encouraging to one another. There were a few glitches on my part as there was no podium for my notes so I left out some things I wanted to share but added some other things that I hadn’t written down. People laughed when I wanted them to laugh (always a good sign) and think it was a good event overall. I came home with some notes to myself about things to work on with my speaking. I really enjoyed myself and hope everyone else did too!





Saturday, December 15, 2007|Categories: Events|Tags: |3 Comments

Last speaking event of the year for me

If you’re anywhere around Pleasanton in Northern CA I will be speaking to the Tri-Valley branch of California Writer’s Club this coming Saturday. 

The title of the talk is: 

Writing at Red Lights: How to Keep Going When the World Tells You to Stop.

When: Saturday, December 15, 2007, 11:30 a.m.
Where: Oasis Grille, 780 Main Street, Pleasanton (925) 417-8438. Across from The Rose Hotel.
Cost: $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers.

For more information about the event of about the California Writers Club, visit their website:


Sunday, December 9, 2007|Categories: Events|Tags: |4 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

CSLA – Sacramento 11/18 & 11/19

Is anyone around here going to CSLA in Sacramento on 11/18 & 11/19? I’m driving down on the 18th, in the afternoon, and will be around for checking out the exhibits that afternoon and dinner. I speak early Sunday and will be there for the brunch.

Anyone else?

Tuesday, November 7, 2006|Categories: Events|Tags: , |6 Comments

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

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

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

What do otters have to do with children's books?

You know what? I don’t know. I can never remember why the annual Children’s Booksellers event is called the Otter Dinner or why the award they give is called the Otter award. But that’s where I was on Saturday, in San Francisco, rubbing elbows with northern California authors, illustrators, booksellers, librarians and an editor or two. Normally I have a hard time at these things. I’m a major introvert who has learned how to fake it but faking it doesn’t always work. I did my typical white knuckle drive into the city and actually found the hotel without too much trouble. I wanted to be there at 5 when the mingling officially started but alas, that didn’t happen and by the time I got there it was already wall-to-wall people. Hard to mingle when you can’t move. I headed over to the check-in table to get my name tag, turned around and glanced once at the woman next to me putting on her name tag. I did a double-take. She did a double-take and then hugged me. It was Nicole Geiger, the publisher of Tricycle Press, and my editor for Hugging the Rock. Suddenly I didn’t feel alone anymore. Laura Mancuso, the marketing/publicity manager at Tricycle was there too so we were able to have a mini pow wow over some business stuff. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to work with people who so obviously love and support my book. I also got the chance to finally meet Summer Laurie and Abigail Sarnoun (Tricycle editors).

There were so many writers in attendance but I really didn’t get the chance to visit with many more people than the few at my table. I did get a quick hug from lsparkreader who was stuck in the corner behind a potted plant. And I got to witness the euphoria of literaticat when she won her favorite piece of art in the raffle (without cheating even). Read her blog entry for the details.

The speeches were wonderful and there was something in each of them to make me cry. Partway through Nikki Grimes’ talk I had a flash of a MG novel that I had set aside and wondered how it would work as a verse novel. I carried that thought with me all the way home again though I am still committed to revising VZ first. I spent Sunday thinking about another verse novel as well but it could be that I am not really obsessed, just procrastinating about getting to work on VZ. We’ll see.

Monday, March 13, 2006|Categories: Events|Tags: |4 Comments

After the conference

I am home again after a wonderful weekend at our regional SCBWI conference at Asilomar. I started off by picking up Samantha McFerrin, >Harcourt Children’s Books, and Lin Oliver, co-founder of SCBWI, at the SJ airport. It was a beautiful day for driving. We stopped in Moss Landing and had a yummy lunch at The Whole Enchilada. (Note to self – must go back and try the margaritas. They looked delicious!) The weekend was jam-packed with talks by editors and talented writers and visits with friends, old and new. I had some time to chat, albeit briefly with and I can’t believe the weekend went by with only a chance hello to (why didn’t we get to know one another when you lived here in SJ?)

Cheryl Klein, Arthur A. Levine Books, used Millicent Min as a great example of voice. She won my heart when she said that plot could taught. Thank goodness! Rachel Orr, HarperCollins, struck a chord with us all with her stories of fighting for the right titles and covers for her books. Allyn Johnston, Editor-in-chief at Harcourt, had us (and herself) in hysterics when she talked about her tendency to get perhaps a bit too close to the writers she worked with. If you ever meet her, ask about her early performance reviews.

As always, the conference food left a lot to be desired but the location and the people made up for it all.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006|Categories: Events|Tags: , |14 Comments