Monday, October 26, 2015

The Learning Curve of Publishing

It's no secret that I've been on this ride of wanting to be published for a long time. And the longer you are in something, the more you learn about it. Bit by bit you gather information and before long you are no longer a newbie.

By the time I found my agent, I was quite expert at drafting query letters. I knew the best places to track the query letters I sent to agents ( in case anyone was wondering). I knew what writing conferences I liked best. I knew what to expect timing wise, and I was the one answering questions for those newbies who had just joined the fray.

Now that I'm on the next step of the publishing journey, I am horrified to discover that I have to start over as a newbie. Only this time, the learning curve is much, MUCH steeper since there is an actual deadline for things (oh the forgotten joy of not having a deadline!).

My head is spinning as I try to figure out marketing, and how to get my name out there and get on panels and accepted as a presenter at conferences. And let's not forget school visits, and swag, and websites. Writing tag lines. Writing author bios. Writing discussion questions. Figuring out author pictures and poses. And of course navigating the world of communicating with my publisher and editor and all the people involved there (who are fortunately very lovely people!).
The things is, I'd read so many blog posts from debut authors as they navigated the publishing world, and I'd learned so much about school visits and marketing, etc. And I had notes from conference presentations on such topics. I felt so prepared. I was SO ready for the next step! I just knew I would make it through with ease.

So I'm left scratching my head about what went wrong.
And the only thing I can come up with is that having a book published is a bit like becoming a parent for the first time. You can read all kinds of books to prepare yourself. People will tell you all kinds of truths and horror stories about "what it's really like." But it doesn't matter. The only thing that really helps you understand what it's like to be a parent is to actually BE A PARENT. And then suddenly you get it!
Not that it's suddenly easy or that you suddenly know everything. But you get it. You get how hard and complicated and unpredictable it all is. And all you can do is your best. You keep trying every day, and you learn new things. Sometimes it feels like you'll never be as good as those other parents you see at PTA meetings and stuff, and sometimes it feels like you're failing miserably.
But you aren't.
Because HEY! You're doing it! And none of that other stuff matters. What matters is that you're trying.
Because despite what Yoda says, there really is such a thing.
(And yes, this is absolutely what I tell myself when I'm feeling overwhelmed by it all . . . which is at least once a month . . . okay, weekly . . . fine! I meant daily. DAILY. Okay?? Satisfied?!) ;)

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Cover Reveal Day!!!

Today is the day!!!

The happy-dancing, random-screaming, exclamation-filled day that is otherwise known as my COVER REVEAL day!!


So one interesting tid-bit before you head over to Pop! Goes The Reader to see what it looks like (finally!!!) . . .

A secret I've been holding for a while is that Amazon has a picture of my book on its site. BUT it IS NOT THE FINAL COVER. No. You have to got to Pop! Goes The Reader for that. I don't know when it will be fixed to the final cover, but if you want to see what the ARC (Advance Reader Copy) cover looks like, you can check out Amazon, too. (And eeep! If you happen to want to pre-order it, it's now available for pre-order!)

Okay, okay, I will detain you no longer! Go forth! Check out my beautiful book cover that I'm totally in love with at Pop! Goes The Reader.

And while you're there, don't forget to enter for a chance to win an ARC of THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY by moi, Janet Sumner Johnson.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Things I Don't Know (aka Weird Research)

Writing books has been the most humbling experience of my life for so many reasons. SO. MANY. But today, I'll just talk about one: The things I don't know!

Oh, the things are vast, and many.

Silly things.
Important things.
Interesting things.
Things I SHOULD know.
Things I know I learned once upon a time.

Some of these things can be easily researched online. Some require experts (Hellooo Dr. Husband, you have been a life saver!). Sometimes I find a book on the subject. Some things require good hard study and mathematical equations (and then I'm back to seeking expert help . . . hellooo Father and Sister Mathematicians!! You're the best!).

So before I bore you to death, here are some of the things I have had to research in the name of writing, though I won't tell you why (bwahaha!):
  • The shortest number of moves with which you can win at chess
  • The history of cameras (Brownie's, etc.)
  • The history of Peanut Butter
  • Pirate clothing
  • Names and types of knives/swords
  • Regional names (first and last, for various regions)
  • How 911 dispatchers answer the phone (and no, I DID NOT call 911 to find out)
  • What EMT's do when they arrive on the scene
  • What substances on the periodic table are most unstable
  • Weird science experiments
  • Science experiments/substance combinations that might cause explosions (And everytime I did a search, I worried the NSA would be after me! Book research, I swear!)
  • How to qualify for a Nobel Prize (including nomination process and timeframe)
  • The Randall Sundrum model of string theory (it's actually pretty fascinating!)
  • Horse grooming techniques
  • Names of horse parts and wagon/carriage parts
  • Time it would take to travel to the moon/mars
  • Calculating rocket paths for meeting an object in space
  • How tasers work
  • Substances that are bad for dogs
  • Methods for extracting the essence of something
  • Snowboarding terms/skills
  • Famous snowboarders
  • How to qualify for the Olympics as a snowboarder
  • Official rules of croquet
Anyway, I could go on for a good long while. So many things I don't know! And fascinating to discover that writing isn't only about English and Grammar. Wasn't I wishing I'd taken a few more math classes?

So how about you? Are you an expert in any of the above (And if so, please inform me so I can pick your brain!)? Do you want to learn about any of these things? What is the weirdest research you've ever done?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Books from my Childhood

I've been reading the Harry Potter series to my kids, and it's been awesome. And not just because I can get them to do their chores with the promise of reading another chapter. They've loved it!

But doing so has really brought back memories of my childhood. Curled up on the floor or in my bed, listening to my mom read stories to us. I even remember staying home sick from high school (HIGH SCHOOL !!!), and laying on the couch listening to her read to me. She has been a long-time lover of children's literature, and I directly attribute my obsession with it to her.

-----> This is me way back then, so you can better imagine me sitting on my mom's lap, listening to stories.---->

There weren't nearly as many choices back then, but what there was, she found them. I wanted to mention a few, because not only have all of these amazing books have influenced who I am, but these authors were the pioneers that made what I'm doing even possible.

As a little kid, my mom read picture books to us. A few stand out in my memory as ones we made her and my dad read over and over and over. THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK by Jon Stone was the BEST.

Fear of the unknown was a real thing for me back then. (Okay, it still is.) I remember hating to go downstairs on my own, because WHO KNEW what might come out of that big pot-belled wood-burning stove down there??? And it was dark. And it smelled funny. And the carpet had this crazy brown and orange pattern that could start spinning and might HYPNOTIZE me, and what would I do then???

Point being, I got Grover. I understood! I sympathized with his fears. But I still laughed every time we turned that page, and the story got messier and messier, and the pages got rattier and rattier (both figuratively and literally because we read that book so much). I LOVED being part of the story. It was all so real. Even though of course I knew it wasn't.

And I don't want to ruin the ending for any of you who might not have read it (and if so, watch out for the Goodreads link above . . . they aren't so careful), but this book made me braver. It helped me step up my courage, and you know what? I dared go downstairs on my own (okay, maybe not at night, but baby steps, people). I dared press forward into the unknown. Because lets face it. Life is full of A LOT of unknown. This book was a real part of my childhood. One that influenced me big time. So thank you, Jon Stone for writing it! Thank you, Sesame Street Creators for making such a great character!

And I realize this is all going to take more space than one blog post can handle, so I'll just have to blog about this again. In the mean time, tell me about a book that influenced your childhood. I'd love to hear!