Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Growing Pains

Ahh...Home sweet....home? More like, home sweet begeezus, get me the heck out of here!

Last week I ended my two month stint of out-of-the-home work that I do every winter. And by work, I mean part-time fun, because I absolutely love my job and working four hours a day is quite luxurious in my opinion. I am quite fortunate.

But MAN! I take off my hat to all mothers who work outside the home. Having two little humans ages four and under to care for, a house to maintain, bills to pay, birthdays to celebrate, doctors to visit, groceries to buy...these things don't stop when you work. They are just there waiting for you when you get home!

My house has a layer of grime that would probably qualify if for the Guinness Book of World Records most disgustingest habitat. (I even needed to make my own word for you to fully understand just how bad my home's condition has become.)

This last weekend, we had to bring in reinforcements.

While working, not much brain space was left for me to be creative, imaginative, productive...

Writing took a backseat each evening to watching Friday Night Lights (Why did we wait so LONG to begin watching this show? Please tell me, PLEASE? I love you Riggins!) and conducting "research" on writing. Thank goodness for this opportunity for research. I am so grateful to have found these resources, but holy moly... I am so ashamed!

I just finished reading Noah Lukeman's, How to Write a Great Query Letter. In the time it took me to finish the book, I think I  managed to create a permanent red mark on my too-big, forehead from all of the Homer Simpson "D'OH!", head slaps I felt compelled to make. Just how many mistakes have I made in submitting query letters? Well, how many query letters have I sent out? About a gazillion.


In the book, there is a checklist at the end entitled, "30 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Query Letter".

I could seriously post it here and retitle that sucker to say, "The 30 Mistakes I Made in EVERY Query Letter I Have EVER Sent".

Now I get it.

So you're not supposed to...

-mention how your kids loved the story and that you are qualified to write because you have spent countless hours as a mother reading books in that genre? (cringe)

-make self deprecating jokes? (double cringe)

-email the agent back making casual conversation after they send you a friendly letter of rejection? (double cringe squared)

Oh man. Growing really does hurt.

I now need to deeply apologize to all the unagented children's literature authors and illustrators in the world....I have a confession to make...

I, Elizabeth Stevens Omlor, am personally responsible (well, most probably) for the closing of submissions for several popular literary agencies, due to my numerous, amateur-status queries submitted on a regular basis over the last seven months! Eeek!

Cue guttural sobs.

Deep breath. Exhalation. Sigh. Relief.

I feel much better after getting that off my chest!


So sorry.

I have nothing else for you other than the promise to do it the right way the next time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Banana Peelin' with Ann Haywood Leal

I don't know about where you are, but where I live, the weather has been absolutely amazing. Yesterday, as I was riding my bike home from work, with the warm sun shining on my back, the cool air hitting my face, my half-filled insulated mug of coffee spilling onto the most inconvenient of places, I thought, what better a time to host a banana peelin' author who writes so beautifully, than this? 

Welcome Ann Haywood Leal!

We all have ways to clear out the sticky literary cobwebs, and one of the ways that I “up” the sanity meter in my writing life, is by running.
I’m not trying to give anyone the impression that I’m some fabulous fitness goddess or anything.  In fact, I am so slow, passersby have told me to have a good “walk”.  But I’m sprinting, I want to tell them. 
I ran the New York Marathon one year in a torrential downpour.  It took over five hours, and I’m sure the elite runners had already showered, packed, and flown home to a faraway country by the time I finished.  Race volunteers passed out orange wedges and bananas along the route, and I was so slow, the wet ground was completely saturated with orange and banana peels (great segue, huh?!) from the runners before me.  I was slipping and sliding all over the place.
So I’m using this sad little metaphor to illustrate the fact that there really is no right way, and part of the fun of the process is in the slipping and the muddling.  At least it gives you something to laugh and cringe about later on with your friends, right?
I went to my first SCBWI conference way back when my youngest was still in a stroller.  It was at P.S. Number-Something-or-Other on the Upper West Side, and I schlepped the entire family along.  They went in search of hot chocolate and to play in the park, and I unwittingly went inside to make a fool of myself.
I’m pretty sure that the SCBWI office has a poster in their back room with my face on it.  It’s of the What Not to Do variety. 
I had my manuscript in tow, which I fully planned to hand deliver to some poor, unsuspecting editor or agent.  I actually approached an agent with my rambling, unintelligible story pitch.  She was gracious as she searched out an opening in the crowd and got away from me as quickly as possible.  The only thing that makes me feel a little better now, is that I remember her as being elderly, meaning she may no longer be with us, or she’s deep in the throes of dementia and has no recollection of me.  Or she’s in the old folks home, still doing imitations of me for her friends.
But the embarrassment didn’t end there.  Ahead of time, I had submitted a query letter for a panel.  I was thrilled when mine was chosen!  …Until I realized they were using it as an example of What Not to Do.  I had even included a bit about how my kids had liked my manuscript, so I knew that other kids would like it, too.  The crowd was roaring by the time they finished reading it. 
So here’s the good that came out of all of it.  First and fortunately, I hadn’t put my name on that sample query letter!  Second, I didn’t let all of the banana peels give me a concussion.  I joined SCBWI and learned how to write a good query letter. I kept going to conferences and became an SCBWI sponge.  I’m still slipping on the peels, but I’ve learned to look for the dry pavement in between!
--Ann Haywood Leal     
Ann Haywood Leal comes from a long line of musicians, artists, and teachers.  Since she’s never been able to carry a tune, she was always given plenty of writing supplies and allowed to use the sharp scissors.  Eventually, she put those writing supplies to good use and wrote her middle-grade novels, ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER and A FINDERS-KEEPERS PLACE. 
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Ann now lives, writes and teaches elementary school in southeastern Connecticut.

ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER was chosen by the Chicago Public Library for their Best of the Best List of 2009-2010 and was an ABC Good Morning America Summer Reading Choice for 2009.  It is currently on the Arkansas Charlie May Simon Master List, the Iowa Children’s Choice Award Master List, and the South Carolina Book Award Master List.  

Thank you SO much Annie for sharing your banana peel experiences. I am so glad to hear you have not suffered a concussion as a result of those slips.  Thank you for the SCBWI sponge analogy and for the tip to not mark anything submitted for What Not To Do workshops with our names! =) I am so incredibly grateful for your contribution to this series! Thanks again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Move Over Martha!

Well. It's Tuesday and I've got nothin'. No thoughts on writing. All I want to do is shut down this laptop and go read!

 I just finished Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine about how a young girl with Asperger's deals with the aftermath of the her brother's death. (Highly recommend it, although I am quite possibly the last person in the universe to have read it.)And now I am hooked on Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Santos. Next up, The Year the Swallows Came Early, by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. I am on a middle grade binge, gearing up for March Madness,  also known as Rebecca Fyfe's, Chapter Book Challenge. 

Can I finish writing a whole MG chapter book by the end of March? Ha! Can I eat a whole pint of Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream in one sitting? Hey, it might be challenging, it might make me nauseous, but I think I can manage to get through it. I've done it before and I can certainly do it again! Oh wait. I think I got sidetracked. I've never written a middle grade chapter book, but I do look forward to the experience.

In fact, I've become all organized-ish for the occasion. Move over Martha! (Stewart, not Washington!)


Eh hem...Blogosphere and Kitchen Table, make way for the new...Writers' Station! (Previously, Cluttered, So You Think You Wanna Sew, Station.)

How will my life be different with Writers' Station all set up and ready to go? Well, I will have you know, I now have all the bells and whistles, including, but not limited to:

A desk calendar (for all my "important" deadlines)

A couple of incredibly imperfect, impossible picture book manuscripts, held in place by the world's most versatile paper weight.

A stack of books, or what I like to call a pile of middle grade goodness (for inspiration).

A rustic, old laptop (missing the E key, which is a constant reminder of how I need to make money somehow, someway, someday).

A trusty journal. Actually, journals: one, two, and two and a half (two and a half is falling apart and might not make it much longer).

A collage (mixture of all things inspirational, grounding, etc.), including one of my favorite, most beautiful,  Trader Joe's $0.99, impulse buys...

So now you know. Each time you see I've written some more absolute nonsense, this is where I will most likely have been seated while writing it and will be seated, for that matter, for as long as my little buns will allow...unless I feel the need to hide from writing insecurities, depressing world news, moldy shower curtains, the fact that our fridge sounds like a machine gun and will soon need to be replaced, etc..

In these particular cases, I will more than likely be able to be found right about here...


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Banana Peelin' with Iza Trapani

So, I just can't believe my luck. I have no idea how, but these gracious authors open my emails, read them, write me back, and then send me such lovely banana peely moments.

I love my "job" of being "Bananabeth".  This week's guest author is the talented author/illustrator Iza Trapani! I hope you enjoy her story as much as I have.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of my first published book!  

How well I remember the day my agent called to tell me she had found a publisher. I jumped and whooped and ran around in circles like a crazed puppy and called everyone I knew, and then I raced into my  studio and stayed there for  the next five months, maniacally writing and rewriting, sketching and re-sketching, painting and repainting, pouring my love and sweat into the book. I wanted it to be perfect.

Dedicating it "to my friends and family," figuring that would cover everyone in case it was the only book I'd ever do, I sent the  finished art to my publisher. And then I waited, and waited some more. A year or so later, a printed hardcover copy arrived in my mailbox and I was overjoyed!

That whole year I had lived in a state of tingly anticipation, wondering how my book would turn out and how people would perceive it. While knowing I should be realistic, I couldn't help but entertain blissful thoughts of  rave reviews and major awards, of movie rights being sold... Hey, you never know.

Reality's icy hand pulled me out of my dreams. I was lucky to get two or three reviews from the major reviewers. None of them bashed my book, but they didn't glorify it either. And I did not win the Caldecott, nor any award for that matter.

Nonetheless, my first book had a nice long run of fourteen years in print with my main publisher, and is still available through the Scholastic Book Club. And, in all those years I've had the joy of reading my book to children at  countless school visits and story times, and getting letters from fans, both young and old telling me how much they enjoyed it. And I've had the joy of meeting my fans at numerous festivals and conferences and inscribing the book to little readers all over the country.

Good reviews and awards are a nice tap on the back. It feels wonderful to get them They are great to use for promotion. But we have to remember that a review is basically one person's opinion. More important is how the book is perceived by our readers at large:  children, parents, early educators.

I was lucky twenty years ago in finding a niche in the market with my nursery rhyme extensions. They have been very popular in schools and I've had wonderful, positive feedback both from my readership and  from most reviewers.

I say most, because there was one major review group that used to give me some pretty rotten write ups. It felt like a kick in the gut. Luckily, after a few books they stopped reviewing me altogether because I was so useless and such a waste of their time ( I know, I know, you're smelling sour grapes. I can't help it. It's my babies we're talking about.)

Here's some things they said about my books:"rhymes are uneven at best," "not worth a second look," "saccharine," "predictable," "preachy didacticism."


Worst of all their reviews were posted on Amazon for everyone to see: THIS AUTHOR SUCKS!

They didn't say that, of course. They were much more eloquent in their denigration , choosing words that would sting and bite and crush. Words I would never forget. Saccharine. Why couldn't they see that my books were created with love?

But their reviews proved to be a good thing. They prompted one anonymous reader to write this:

"Who are the grumps at (The Mean Reviewer) who never like any of Iza Trapani's work??? How could you not like this incredibly imaginative story and the lovely illustrations that go with it??? My daughter and I adore the three Trapani books we have (this one, Itsy Bitsy Spider and I'm a Little Teapot) and I am online now to order everything I can find by this masterful storyteller and artist. Maybe if the people at (The Mean Reviewer) spent  a little more time reading Trapani books, they wouldn't be so grumpy!"

Wow, was I vindicated!

Now here's a sneak preview of my new book coming out on April 1, 2012 , and that's no April Fool's joke!

A short book trailer.

You might also enjoy this "banana peel" post about my terrifying first school visit and a sweet little boy who saved the day:  The Mayor

Thank you, Elizabeth, for featuring me on your wonderful site! It's such a great idea!

If anyone has a question or comment, I'd love to talk to you!

Thank you so much Iza for contributing to the Banana Peel Thursday series.

You are so lovely and so are your books. I really would like to meet that nasty group of reviewers in a dark alley, or just watch them slip on a few banana peels! Hmph!

Best of luck to you with your April book release. Can't wait to read it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Attention Writers...Obsess Much?

A couple days ago, Hubby and I had a big talk. Apparently, I am obsessed with writing.

Yes, it's true folks. I admit it. Of course after being told this, I did what any normal person would do... I Googled, "obsessed with writing."

In my "research", I found that obsession seems to be a popular trait shared by writers. They can't seem to stop writing or thinking about writing, talking about writing, reading about writing or... blogging about writing.

My husband's comment made me reflect and ask myself, "Self, how many people who are good at what they do or WANT to be good at what they do, are not slightly obsessed with their craft?"

And to this I have one word for you. Madonna.

She is good. She has drive and focus and really muscular arms as well as ... a string of failed relationships!..Oh no! Am I doomed? Eek!

I am not saying I am to be compared with Madonna... that I am good at writing because I am obsessed. Actually, I would like to admit to the opposite. My writing is slightly above the level of doggie doo-doo. But I think this is where the obsession thing comes into play.

Unlike my husband, things do not come easy to me. With the exception to Scrabble (yeah, that's right, mama rules around these parts!), my husband is good at everything he does. It is amazing. You name it, he can try it and then be a certified professional five minutes later. Lil' me on the other hand...I have to work, and obsess, and suffer, and then maybe I'll be okay at whatever I am trying to achieve. And to that, I give a mean pirate's ARGH!

For example, gardening. I love learning to garden. I love the creativity that you have to pour into a garden's design. I have been "practicing" for a few years now. I analyze other gardens I see, I research color variations, temperature zones as well as which plants are least likely to die under my watch (very important piece). Each spring and summer I  become obsessed with my backyard. Pruning, watering, planting, replacing dysfunctional plants that for some reason die on me despite my research efforts.  I also transform into Senora Gardening-Killjoy to my children...

Where'd you get that flower? Ah. Thanks. I know you love me. Don't pick the flowers.
Where'd you get that flower? Ah. Thanks. I know you love me. Don't pick the flowers.
(Repeated daily for about six months.)

But I feel this focus has gotten me far, at least in my own backyard universe.


Note: End of summer....no flowers...amused look on daughter's face. Son not so amused, probably just got "the Senora Gardening-Killjoy talk."

The point is, I don't know how  NOT to do things 100%. That is my problem. Whether it's gardening, sewing, mothering, studying, teaching, eating...I become obsessed, and writing is no exception.

My question for you blogosphere is...how do you manage your writing? Do you obsess? Do you suffer? Do you drive your family CRAZY? The most important question I have for you is...is it so wrong?

P.S. Isn't the banner art (done by the amazing Seth Ahonen) purdy? I am so, eternally grateful to Seth for allowing me to display his art right here, on this very blog. He is a talented northern California, Bay Area artist who does beautiful portraits, colorful murals, Day of the Dead themed art, as well as much more! Check him out!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Banana Peelin' with Natasha Yim

Icing on this writer's cake is Thursday's Banana Peelin' author, the wonderful, Natasha Yim!
After reading this, I have to wonder, is there anything this woman can't do? Persistence must be her middle name.



By Natasha Yim

We’ve all heard those success stories, right? The ones where debut authors wrote their 300 page novels in 6 weeks, sent their manuscripts to the first agent they found in the Writer’s Market, got a response in two days, and an offer for acquisition a week later. The stories that make you want to gag, cry, rip your hair out in frustration as you continue to labor over Chapter Three in a novel that’s taken 5 years out of your life. And if that success story belonged to a friend, you battle the demons of ambivalence as you graciously congratulate your friend and wish her the best of luck, while behind closed doors, you scream, “Why couldn’t it have been me???” at the writing Gods for all the literary injustice that you—and only you—have suffered.

Well, I’m here to tell you I’ve been there. And back. I’ve tumbled into the black hole of despair when it seemed like my writing was on the train to nowhere, and obsessively checked my email 20 times a day in the hopes that today was the day I got a positive response from an editor or agent (waiting for the mailman is soooo last decade). But perseverance is the name of the game in this business, and all good things can come to those who wait.

Take my picture book, Goldy Luck and the Three Chans, for instance. It’s a multi-cultural twist on the Goldilock tale. I first began writing the story in 2005, and revised and re-revised it for over a year until I felt confident enough to send it out to 5 different publishers. A couple rejected me rather quickly, two others made me wait 3 months, and the 5th, Tricycle Press, I never heard back from. Finally, after 7 months, I wrote a letter of inquiry to the editor, and received a fairly quick response from another editor that Editor 1 had left the company, but had passed on my manuscript before she left. Editor 2 really liked it and wanted to take it to acquisitions. I was on Cloud 9. Somebody liked my work! She had some great editorial suggestions, and we made several rounds of revisions. We revised, we emailed back and forth, then...nothing. My emails went unanswered. No more communication. I panicked. Did my last revision suck? Did she hate it so much she couldn’t bear to tell me, and decided that if she just ignored me, I’d go away?

Then one day, while considering whether I should attend the Book Passage Children’s Writer’s Conference in Corte Madera, California, I noticed that Editor 2 was on the faculty list. That was it. I was going to the conference. I was going to find out what happened to my manuscript. I was going to hulk around in dark shadows and stalk this editor. As it turned out, I didn’t have to be the creepy writer trapping the hapless editor inside a bathroom stall while she made empty promises to get me a contract so she could escape back into the Land of the Living. Coincidentally, she sat at my table for lunch and we got to chatting about Goldy Luck. She was really nice...and warm...and generous. She spent an hour with me giving me line by line feedback, and invited me to re-submit to her when I was done with revisions. See, it pays to go to writers’ conferences. I was back on Cloud 9. Three months later, I sent her my revisions. Then...nothing. I emailed to ask if she had received my manuscript, and got a quick response from the publisher’s assistant. Editor 2 had also left the company. Crap. And Double Crap. All that work! All that time!

However, not to be deterred, I asked for the name of another editor. I emailed Editor 3. Had she heard about Goldy Luck? Tricycle Press was, after all, a small publishing house. Editor 3 wrote back. Yes, she had. She was at the acquisitions meeting when it was presented. And Editor 3 was interested. But nobody could find the manuscript, so could I send another copy?

To make a long story—well, not quite as long—Editor 3 and I worked on the manuscript for another year and a half, then in August 2010, I finally got the phone call every writer dreams about. I got to hear those beautiful words, “We want to publish your book!” By this time, Tricycle Press and it’s parent company, Ten Speed Press, had been purchased by Random House, so it was now an imprint of RH. Not only was I getting a contract, I was thrilled to say I was going to be published by Random House, one of the Big 6 publishers! How exciting was that!

Not exciting enough, the literary Gods decided. We’ll just throw a few more bumps her way so she’ll really appreciate what it takes to get published. A week after I signed my contract, RH decided to close down Tricycle Press. My path to publication suddenly stalled Big Time. Contract cancelled. End of story. Well, I could have let it end there. But I didn’t. Did I wallow in drink? Hemingway would have. Tennessee Williams would have. But I’m a teetotaler. So, I did what any sober writer in her right mind would do. I sent the manuscript back out. This time to my former editor at Charlesbridge Publishing who had published my first book, Otto’s Rainy Day. Editor 4. Charlesbridge doesn’t publish many folk or fairy tales, but the editor was intrigued by the multi-cultural angle.

Two months later, in March 2011, Editor 5 (Editor 4 had now become head honcho since I’ve worked with her so passed the story on to Editor 5), contacted me. She loved the story. More revisions. Another acquisitions meeting. Another stall. Now, it’s the Marketing Department. Folk and fairy tales aren’t usually Charlesbridge’s thing. Do they want to take Charlesbridge into a different realm? Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that discussion. In the end, they decided to table any decisions till the fall. Another 3 months of waiting!

Finally, in October 2011 (Oct. 5, at 8:05 am. to be specific—you tend to remember these things), my agent Karen Grencik (Red Fox Literary Agency) called and told me Charlesbridge wanted to publish the book! As of this writing, she is still negotiating the contract which we hope to finalize and have signed by the end of the month.

The moral of the story: Believe in yourself as a writer, believe in your story, and never give up. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Richard Bach, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Enjoy the journey!

Natasha Yim is the author of Otto's Rainy Day (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000), Cixi, The Dragon Empress (Goosebottom Books, 2011), and the upcoming Sacajawea of the Shoshone (Goosebottom Books, Oct. 2012) and Goldy Luck and the Three Chans (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2014). She has also been published in the children's magazines, "Highlights for Children", "Appleseeds", and "Faces", as well as in adult local and regional magazines and newspapers. Her ten-minute plays have been performed in venues around Northern California, Los Angeles, and at the Short+Sweet Ten Minute Theatre Festival in Sydney, Australia.

I am so thrilled to have had you on the series Natasha! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences.  Becoming a published writer appears not to be for the faint of ! (I think I need to start working out!)  Good luck to you and congrats on your new book deal! You Deserve it, and that's with a capital "D".

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Very Own Brain Burp...

Yeesh I'm tired. How about you?

Got a headache. My computer is just about to crash again and I just got to relive my brain burp. Yes. That's right. My brain burped very appropriately on the Katie Davis podcast show, Brain Burps About Books, and I have listened to my own personal disaster two whole times now because my husband wanted to listen... and then listen again. 

Now, am I eternally grateful to have been featured on Katie Davis's show with amazing authors and other figures in the children's literature world? Heck yes!

Would I take the opportunity to do a do-over in 1/8th of a second...you betcha!

What have I learned from this experience other than our fellow human beings are extremely giving and patient (aka Saint Katie Davis)?

Well, that I need to constantly have an idea of what I am trying to sell to the world...my books. In case you missed it, which you quite possibly could have if you coughed or took a potty break, it went something like this:

Saint Katie Davis: So what kind of books do you write?

Little Me: Uhhhh...ummm..I have like tons of manuscripts. Picture books, fiction and a couple non-fiction.  Uhhh...I also have a middle grade idea. Oh and I have business cards, etc, etc.


Next time, if I am ever asked about my writing again I shall whip up something like this....

FANTASY INTERVIEWER: So what kind of books do you write?

LITTLE FANTASY ME: Well, Mr. Duchovny (I did say this was a fantasy, right?), I would say that my manuscripts, which are mostly intended for picture books, could be described as bridge-theme books. In my writing, I seek to build bridges, between people divided, those who sit on one edge of a perspective, hoping to connect them with those who sit on the opposing end. Most tend to be centered around social justice issues, homelessness, poverty, gender and racial equality. Although, I have been known to dabble in writing terrifically witty, lyrical books about the struggles of young homo-sapiens, attempting to understand the complexities of  the planet they inhabit, otherwise known as Earth.


If you did miss it, you really should listen to the entire podcast because it is just filled with valuable information on how to promote your book. (You can listen to the episode by clicking here.) I learned SO much. In case you are wondering what NOT to do in an interview, you can listen to the podcast's grand finale guest, moi! (I am on right after Dan Santat!!! OMG!)

I don't know about you, but this week was extremely EXHAUSTING.

Besides doing things like calling poison control because my toddler decided to eat wall spackle for dessert, I have been involved in quite a few projects that make me feel writery.

1. Brain burpy podcast interview and participating in Katie Davis's blog tour, promoting her new book, How to Promote Your Children's Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Creating a Bestseller

2. Finalizing two critique groups' details (including being assigned my new nickname, Bananabeth by Angela Dahle...love it!)

3. Contacting authors to beg them to share their banana peel slips...Anyone, Mr. Santat, Ms. Crum? (Cue pin drop sound effect)

4. Communicating with an amazing artist friend, Seth Ahonen (et al.) for the design of my very own blog banner...eeek!) Isn't his art beautiful?

(Check out his AugustEve store here!)

5. Contacting my dream non-fiction subject for possible interview (aka...running into amazing rock star in club's bathroom and asking her for an interview for children's PB biography...she agreed! Double eeek!)

6. Drawing a name from my smelly hat for the book giveaway...Come on down Penny Parker Klosterman! Woo hoo! (Thank all of you so much for promoting Banana Peel Thursdays.)

7. Submitted three stories to Rate  Your Story. This free site allows your work to be submitted and rated by published authors who volunteer for the good of the cause. Love this site. I can't believe it's free. Such a smart idea.

8. Preparing for this week's Banana Peel Thursday with Natasha Yim! You HAVE to read her encounters with banana peels. I learned SO much. Wow. She is a trooper and an inspiration. I can't wait to share her story.

After such a week, I am feeling slightly sentimental and just want to say thanks.

Thanks for reading this. Thanks for returning especially if you have listened to my squeaky-voiced, uninformative interview.

I have met an amazing community of writers over the past couple of months and am so grateful for your support and inspiration. =)

Make sure to stop back by tomorrow for Natasha Yim's amazing Banana Peel Thursday story!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Banana Peelin' with Katie Davis

So talk about luck...Somehow the universe worked it's magic and had me email the author Katie Davis at the time she was scheduling her blog tour. (I also might be included in one of her podcasts!) Before we hear this children's literature expert describe a couple of her own banana peely moments, I would like to expand upon what I mentioned in yesterday's post...the book giveaway!

So...I have a proposition for you. I know what you're thinking, and no. Not a government proposition like making chocolate it's own food group, to be recommended by high-up officials for daily consumption. Actually, this proposition is more of a contest. (Although just as sweet!)

If you, YOUR NAME HERE, promote Banana Peel Thursdays in any of the two ways listed below, you will be entered to win a free, downloadable version of Katie Davis's new book, How to Promote Your Children's Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller!

This could be yours...

Here are the two ways you can promote my Banana Peel Thursday series:

1. Add the glorious Banana Peel Thursday badge (created by the talented Heather Newman), to your  blog sidebar, with it linked back to my page.

2. Promote Banana Peel Thursdays to your writer friends via your blog or a Facebook shout out, describing in your own words what the heck Banana Peel Thursdays are all about!=) (Please mention we are currently accepting banana peel slips from authors of all shapes and sizes and DO NOT discriminate on the basis of  preference for popcorn over chocolate, although I might have to give you a funny look.)

If you should choose to do one of the above options, your name will be entered once in to my magic hat, (which thankfully you are not here to smell). You will have one chance to win our author's new book. As an added bonus, you'll officially go down as being great in my book.

If you are a super star and decide to do BOTH options because you are just wonderful like that, then your name will be entered TWO times into the magic smelly hat. (And I might mention your name in the dedication of my fist book to be released sometime in the 22nd century... hopefully.)

To enter, please just leave a comment after this post letting me know what you have done by this Sunday. =) Thanks so much and con suerte (good luck)!

The smelly hat, the smelly hat, it reeks like this, it reeks like that.
It sits atop my head and stinks, so much so, I dare not breathe!
(Sad tribute to Mem Fox. I love you Mem.=))

So without further ado, I would like to present to you the banana peel slips of Katie Davis!


I have been known to use banana peels as stepping stones. So take this from a banana peel expert, before you can avoid mistakes, you have to know how to make them. Here is your tutorial.

How to Make At Least Two Huge Mistakes

1.   Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Case Study: When Little Chicken's Big Day debuted, I built a big marketing campaign, details of which are in How to Promote Your Children's Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller. One part of it was a sweepstakes. I spent an inordinate amount of time on this thing, creating art for every week, designing different fun challenges for entrants, and thinking up truly awesome and unique prizes. The first week was great! I even made a funny video pulling the names out of a hat to announce the winner.

Result: The work to advantage ratio was not good. By week two my audience was not interested in investing the time on my oh-so-clever challenges and frankly, I was exhausted with the whole thing by that point.

Next move: Sure I'd be humiliated or chastised for abandoning it, I fretted. I finally decided to just end the thing. No announcement. Just stopped. And you know what? No one even noticed.

Lesson: Have giveaways but let your blog hosts benefit: they get comments from participants and all they have to do is pull a name out of a hat!

2.    Have a Launch Party That Costs You A Lot of Money, Time and Effort to Plan

Case Study: For Little Chicken's Big Day I spent lots of time organizing a pre-Easter launch party at a great indy book store. I bought a pile of craft supplies for kids to make chicken related art, made chick related food centerpieces (Peeps, anyone?), and gathered donated door prizes from local merchants, giving them promotion on the invitation cards I had printed and set out all around town.

Result: I had a blast celebrating the debut of this book with the family and friends who came out on that unseasonably cold and horribly rainy day. I think one person who was not related to me showed up. I had expected selling tons, stacks and bookshelves full of books as I had in years past at launch parties.

Next move: To celebrate the next children's book launch, (and you should always celebrate that), I'll gather those I love and raise a glass. I'll also arrange traditional signings at the book stores, avoiding the extra work - for the employees and myself - that a party requires.

Lesson: Plan a much sleeker, less costly, and definitely easier launch effort - as long as you have a crack team of blog tour hosts like mine! So thanks, Elizabeth, for having me here and making this launch an un-banana peel moment!

Watch This Silly Katie Davis Video!

Learn from Katie and support her by following the author on her blog tour! Here is a list of where and when she will be featured:

Blog Tour Schedule:

Feb 8 - Shutta Crum
Feb 9 - McBookWords
Feb 10 - Kerem Erkan
Feb 17 - Fiction Notes
March 1 - 12x12 in 2012


I really just don't know what to say except for thank you SO much Katie for taking the time to participate in Banana Peel Thursday and for offering a book for the giveaway!  Good luck in the rest of your blog tour!  

(P.S. Thank you universe!)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Liebster Blog Award and Katie Davis Book Giveaway


I am so honored to be a recipient of the Liebster Blogging Award, which was so thoughtfully bestowed upon me by the sensational Bethany Telles, Perched in a Tree blog founder and finalist in the MeeGenius Author Challenge, whose story you should vote for by clicking on this link. =)

The Liebster  Blog award is given to bloggers from other bloggers whose follower base does not exceed 200 people. The hope is to attract traffic to those sites. Thanks so much Bethany for thinking of me. Now I get to add something cool to my sidebar!

In addition to naming five other bloggers who I think should receive the award, I am supposed to give you five random facts about me. So here they are!

Random Factoids:

1. I live in what I consider to be place from a storybook, where I can cruise to our downtown on my bike and jump in a swimming hole to cool off.

2. Two of the best compliments I have ever received?  That someone actually thought I was funny and another said they respected me when I thought I was on their list of people they would like to see get thrown under a bus. Total shockers.

3. Sometimes I like to pretend I live in the south of France, surrounded by lavender, cafe music, and quiet picnics outdoors on a blanket.  Then I get hit in the head by a rubber ball thrown by my toddler who I have started to call Bam Bam.

4. I speak Spanish.

5. I think I was a Mexican revolutionary in a past life. I am hoping it was one of them.

Now it is my turn to give the Liebster Blogging award to other bloggers who I think are just great. Please add them to your list of people you follow. Each does something very magical and unique at their site!

1. Renee LaTulippe
2. Joanna Marple
3. Heather Newman
4. Jennifer Rumberger
5. Mira Reisberg


Do you like books? Me too.
Do you like books on writing and marketing your own books? Me too!

We have a lot in common.

Now I know you will want to come back tomorrow for Banana Peel Thursday, featuring children's author Katie Davis, who has a new book out on how to create a best seller! Here it is...

 You can enter to win this book by following the guidelines to be announced in tomorrow's post!

Until then!