Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bubbly for a Day

Never once in my entire life have I ever been called  "bubbly."  

There was a time that I would have gladly given a kidney and a couple of incisors to have been called that, especially in eighth grade. How I pined to be considered bubbly, and have a name like Trixie or Stacy.  Instead I was called "nice" or " even worse,  "sweet." And, well, there was the whole Mary thing.

But the time for wanting to be anyone but who I am has passed.   Like denim jeans at just the right stage of aging, my seat is perfectly broken in, and I am content in the weathered, and faded familiarity of me.  Okay, most of the time?  This is nearly all true.

On occasion, though, some particular course of action will give me a nudge, or sharp poke in the plexus and I'll think-- "Ah, if only I could be bubbly and brave for even just a day."   So, in the interest of diversity and personal growth, I've decided to come up with a list of all the things that I would like to do-- if only, and just in case, I wake on one morning with a raging case of  Reese Weatherspoon Syndrome (ala Legally Blonde).


8:00 a.m.  Call my agent and ask her what she is having for breakfast.  
8:30 a.m. Call editor.  Tell her I want to bounce around some title ideas for my novel that is due to her in 48 hours.  Ask her what she had for breakfast
9:00 a.m.  Drop in on neighbor of sixteen years for coffee.  Take AED (Automated External Defibrillator) in case she has a heart attack.
10:30 a.m.  Attend a daylight yoga class.  Put mat in actual row vs. corner.

NOON    Invite three or four extremely talkative friends to have lunch with me.  At the same time. At the same restaurant.  Tell the waiter it's my birthday.

1:00 p.m.  Go to Nordstrom's make-up counter  and ask to try on new foundation. Take-off all my make-up first?  You betcha.  Ask all hands on deck for input on color choices. Request that the guy in the Shoe Department be brought over to weigh in on it.
2:00 p.m.  Stop at a local bookstore that I don't normally frequent.  Introduce myself as a local author. Make bubblelicious small talk.  Drop off complimentary copy of my book if they don't have it. Offer to do a future event. Leave business card(s).
3:00 p.m.  Got to Library.  Repeat 2:00 p.m. activity in a slightlier shush-ier voice. 
4:00 p.m. Call three people that I'm dying to interview for Shrinking Violets.  Email only if number not available (Does anyone have Anne Lamott or Nathan Bransford's phone number? :^)
5:00 p.m.  Call Robin.  Ask her what she had for breakfast.
6:00 p.m.  Take myself out to dinner alone at fave natural food restaurant.  Sit at cool counter and chat up the VitaMix operator.  Ask for samples of three or four desserts before making a choice.
7:30 p.m.  Go bowling with friend Kate who has her own ball. And everything. 
9:00 p.m.  Take bubble bath. Call several friends from tub to discuss book promotion ideas.
10:00 p.m. Charge AED for personal use. Just in case.

How about you?  What would  do as a extravert for a day? We would love to hear! And, if you want to share what you've had for breakfast, apparently, I'm all ears.  

Happy week, everyone!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Butterfly Effect—Book Event Style

Well I had a great time in Texas, and fortunately I experienced no technical difficulties of the nature Mary described. (Hallelujah!)

While doing my Speedy Quick Texas Book Tour, I was reminded of a lesson I keep learning again and again, and that is that we can’t even begin to understand which connections have value and will bear fruit, so we have to treat each opportunity as if it is golden.

In fact, there is a saying that goes something like: When the student is ready, the teacher will come. Which I have bastardized in my own mind so that it goes more like this: Whatever reader will most benefit from meeting me at a booksigning, will be there.

With that phrase clutched tightly to my bosom, I can face any and all booksignings with a certain comfort level. Even if only one person shows up, I allow myself to believe that they were the one person it was most important for me to meet that day, even if I never know or understand exactly why.

During my recent trip to Texas, the truth of these words was brought home to me. At one book signing, held at 11:00 on a Saturday when most kids were still at their soccer games, there were only a handful of people. There was, however, one girl who came (dressed up as Theodosia, no less!) and we were able to talk one on one for a good 20 minutes. When she had left, her mother and I had a chance to talk and I learned about some of the hard issues this kid had been dealing with, and I was immeasurably grateful that I had had a chance to meet and talk with her. It made the entire event completely worthwhile.

The thing is, every writer I know has a story like this. Every single one. Usually however, we don’t ever understand how they fit into the greater scheme of things—what karmic marketing opportunity they might present. This time however, when discussing the booksigning with my publicist, she zeroed right in on the fact that this girl was homeschooled (as is the character in my book) and realized that was a marketing approach we should tap into. Voila!

At another signing, most of the people in attendance were already fans, so I didn’t sell many new books. However, I was able to spend a lot of time with the bookstore employees, who were all wildly enthusiastic about the books and suggested I come back when Book III is released so that they could take me into the local schools for school visits. As any writer would agree, that invitation is golden! And most likely not something that would have happened if I hadn’t had a chance to meet them face to face.

So that’s the thing about book signings. You simply can’t take them at face value. You never know which person you meet will be the butterfly wing that flutters open a marvelous new door for you.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Milestone Monday and More!

Photo by Kevin Baird

Dear Violets and Vinnies,

Mary and Robin are back in the building!  And, very glad to be here with our favorite "peops!" Hope you all had a marvelous week.  

I had an exceptional time frolicking in Fresno, California with some amazing School Librarians and their staff.  Which I followed with a truly Don Knotts moment when after cramming ninety junior students into a smallish cafeteria, my Power Point presentation would not come up. No way, no how-- despite praying a number of Hail Marys  directly into the USB port. I would have to face the assembled mass totally unplugged for a full hour with no fun slides, visuals, soundtrack, or Youtube-- just uh, ME... middle-aged dame and all.  

This was actually the second time I had a techno-malfunction  in the span of about six weeks. The first time was with a group of kindly adults who did not have Must Have Media written all over them.  I punted and things went fine.  I think they would have been good if I'd burst into a hour long rendition of Kumbaya-- those kind of great students.

With my hoard of 90 pre-pubescents, however, there was the chance that things could get ugly. Their School Librarian was looking as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a rocking chair factory. God love her, she kept apologizing as if it were her fault.  I briefly considered whippping off my boots, and  fashioning a couple of quick sock puppets.  Which might have worked if the students were three, and not twelve-going-on-seventeen. So I took a big bracing breath, pretended it was whiskey, unhooked the mike from the podium, and moved closer.  I took all the concepts from the non-existent slides, and instead embed them deeply in story.  Within moments I had the tribal fire crackling, and the universal power of story saved the day.  

As a P.S. to this, I also had not received my shipment of author postcards in time for my trip, so I made a quick trip to Costco and bought ninety Hershey bars, which I signed with a silver Sharpie. Which the kids loved a lot, and before long, I was signing hands, forearms, and the rubber soles of their shoes.  (Nervous School Librarian now sweating profusely). I had a few requests for other body parts, which I politely declined. :-]  All in all, a seriously great day was had at Raisin City Elementary.  Smart, funny kids.  If you ever get invited, g-o.

Here's an even quicker tool for assessing introversion and extraversion that I heard recently:
If you are interrupted while reading and you are irritated, you're an introvert.
If you are interrupted while reading and you are
grateful, you're an extravert.

I am looking for someone to read and review the book entitled The Shy Writer by C. Hope Long for our blog. Interested? I'll send you a copy of the book to keep--along with your very own autographed Hershey bar! Email me at Pick me, Mary!

We are just about five weeks away from the start of our Third Annual
National Independent Bookseller Month here at SVP, a month long festival in which we pay homage to the extraordinary work of our indie bookstores.  Each year we have selected a an indie staff member as our Bookseller of the Year, and treated them to dinner at their favorite swanky restaurant and presented them with a very also swanky certificate. These come coupled with our undying loyalty,  and servitude for the year.  (Robin, have we remembered to tell them about the servitude part?)  In 2007, we selected and celebrated Vroman's Bookstore's Kris Vreeland and in 2008, Alex Uhl of A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe in Irvine, Calfornia took the honors.

Start thinking about 2009 nominees now!  Our last two winners have both been from California. We'd love to see some nominees from other states.  Everyone that submits a nominee will be entered in our drawing to win a
Indie Bound gift certificate.  If your nominee is selected, we're talking big loot.  

Lastly, but never leastly, time for another
Milestone Monday-- a random Monday dedicated to giving each of you an opportunity to practice a bit of self-promotion. The road to publication can be long, years long, and we want to celebrate your triumphs along the way with a cyber hoot and holler.  So, pony up to the line with your tribespeople, and let us know your good news.

Let's hear it for your path--

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Still On The Road!

Mary and I are still on the road. (And btw, any of you violets out there in the Dallas or Austin areas, feel free to come on by and say hello if you have the time!)

Since we're both off giving presentations, this seemed especially appropriate!

The most successful, comfortable marketing slogan ever (well, for me at least):

It’s Not About You

In fact, it comes with a 95% guarantee that if you repeat this to yourself often, you’re marketing efforts will go much more smoothly. And it applies to just about every aspect of marketing and promotion, from writing a short bio to giving a presentation to school visits. It’s not about you. It’s about THEM—your audience, and what you are doing FOR THEM.

Which is most often to entertain or enlighten. It’s not about talking about yourself, or ego gratification or sounding like an expert or even selling more books. It’s about connecting with them on some level and either entertaining them for a half hour or enlightening. Answering questions they might not even realized they had.

I think this is one reason giving writing workshops is (relatively) comfortable for me. Workshops are SO not about me. They’re about giving other writers useful information I’ve happened to stumble across in my own writing journey. They’re about imparting very specific information where the focus is on craft, not me as an author or person.

Author panels, too, work better for me because it’s not about me talking, it’s about a conversation on children’s writing or literature. On a panel, the conversation takes center stage, not the individuals speaking.

I hate writing author bios. I live a boring life, there’s not much to say that sounds very impressive, but they are a necessity. So if I put myself in the position of the reader of author bios, it becomes somewhat easier. What could I tell them about myself that would seem funny or amusing or make them laugh or help them sell a book?

Sometimes it can be hard to try and wrap one’s mind around what the recipient of the bio, workshop, presentation, bookmark, might want. The easiest thing to do in this case is use your mad characterization skills and put yourself in their shoes, just like you would a character you were writing about. Think back to before you were writing, or think of YOUR favorite authors—what is it you’re dying to see, hear, know about them? That’s usually a good place to start. (Unless your interest leans toward stalkerish, and then we don’t want to know!)

So a group of young school kids might need inspiration or affirmation of the revision process by a real writer instead of a teacher. Or maybe permission to write, or assurance that all voices are important. Or maybe simply to be entertained (which is not so very simple to do) or an excuse to get out of math for the afternoon.

Whereas teachers are looking for a broader, more exciting context for writing that will help motivate their students. Booksellers might need something interesting to tell their customers about why this book will work for the young reader they’re buying it for, or how the writer came to write this book or what school curriculum it touches on.

Oftentimes, the person in question might just want to feel like they’ve connected with you in someway outside the book so they can see the connection between loving your book and the person you are.

But even when it is about you, it’s not really ABOUT you. It’s about serving your readership and your audience. It’s about giving back to those people who trusted you with a few hours of their life to read your book or trusted you enough to put your book in the hands of a young reader or recommended you to a parent.

Or at least, that’s the lens through which I view the whole process the least painfully. You’re welcome to borrow those lenses and see if they work for you

First run March 21, 2007

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Shrinking Violets are on the Road this Week

Dear Friends,

Robin and I are both headed out in different directions this week for some speaking engagements and book promotion. We are going to wish you all all a Happy St. Patrick's Day a wee bit early and then hit the road and the skies! We are each picking one of our earlier posts to share while we are out.  Since I've been doing some range of motion work on my N-O joint lately, thought I'd share this one from last year.

Hope your week is full of love, luck and unexpected abundance!
Mary Hershey



The trouble with saying no is that it most usually invites a lot more conversation, cajoling, sometimes whining, often conflict. And as introverts, we'll take collaboration, harmony, being off-stage any day of the week. It's so much easier to say yes, and be done it. Or, the alternative, which is to tell a big fat fib. And, then you have to make sure you remember it, in case there is,uh, follow-up about that alleged sherpa gig you pulled all summer. Which is why you couldn't join the rowing team.

Dawg, I hate the big fat fib stuff! Even though I have a great imagination, and could think of a gatrillion reasons that I can't do something. (Call me if you need some fresh material) But I just can't stomach the guilt that comes with it. Nor should I have to! I feel quite certain that I've spent the equivalent of an entire decade at events I don't want to be at, faking a lively interest. In my head, I'm picturing myself home alone with a book, a cat, and bucket of diet coke.

This next year for my birthday, I'm going to make this really cool party invitation where I ask everyone to stay home alone, without any talking, no electronics, and be quiet for three hours. (Gifts could be mailed to me.) 'Cos that's my idea of a fun time. And, it's so way past my turn--

Before writing and publication, I could get away with blowing my wad on things I didn't want to do, and the mandatory recovery period afterwards. So what if my spirit felt sucked dry-- I'd just sleep an extra two or three hours. Now, if I've got that kind of extra time, I need to be

It has turned into a simple math problem. I don't have enough minutes left in life to do things that don't serve my life purpose-- which is to be a good partner to my sidekick, write for kids, be a decent coach, and have lunch with Anne Lamott. That's all I can focus on. (Okay, there are seven other things, but you get my drift.)

Thing is, I'm actually an expert at saying no. Pretty much have a black belt in it. So do you! Every single time we say yes to something we don't want to do, we are saying an unequivocal NO to ourselves. NO to what we might have preferred to do. NO to what works better for us. NO to what we know we need to move our project or situation forward. NO to who we are as introverts.

This very succinct little word sets a good model for explanation. Be brief. "No thanks." "Sorry, I can't." "No, I've got other plans." You really don't need to explain yourself more than that. Any more than the extravert would be expected to explain why the heck they need a lot of people coming over to their house on Friday night after being with people all day at work. A brief regret, wish them a good time, and change the subject.

Be very, very pleased with yourself. Swallow the scary aftertaste of the NO you just delivered, and focus on the big, juicy YES you just gave yourself. Strong work!

First published 4/10/08

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Calling On The Violet Collective

Long time blog reader Celise Downs posted an interesting question in response to my post on marketing co-ops last week. She asked:

Book One of my YA series comes out in Oct and I'd like to plan both an offline and an online book release. How far in advance should I plan these? Should I give something away every day during release week? What about at the physical party? Any ideas/suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Mary and I thought it would be fun if the Violet Collective stepped in and did some brainstorming with Celise to help her design a terrific book release and launch party.

So first things first, here’s a description of Celise’s upcoming book from her website:

Draven Atreides, Teenage FBI Series


Hey. My name is Draven Atreides, I’m 16-yrs-old. And I’m a spy. Yeah, okay, not really. I’m more of a snitch. I mean, I dont travel to exotic places, I don’t wear disguises, I don’t handle or carry weapons (unless you count my Canon AE1), and I don’t work for a top secret agency. Well, three out of four isn’t bad. Let me explain.
You see, I was abandoned by my biological parents as a baby and I’ve spent all my life in the foster care system. I graduated from high school at the age of 13 (Yay for homeschooling). At 15, I ended up with the Foster Couple From Hell. I discovered their dirty little secret–the bastards–so I called them out to the local authorities. Lucky me, when I decided to play tattletale, an agency with three letters had been investigating the FCFH for years. So, being the good citizen that I am, I decided to help them out. The agency with the three letters, that is. I cashed in my Get Out of Hell Free card. Three months later, I got a new name, a new life…and a paying gig as an informant for that agency with the three letters. Book One is called A Royale Pain and it's her first assignment: stop a mad french chemist from peddling is deadly product line to upscale spas. His target is a spa in Paradise Valley, AZ called The Royale Treatment Day Spa.

She also adds: One of my ideas was having a spa-themed party with spa-themed goodie bags, door prizes, chair massages and mani stations. But then I thought, what about the guys? I'm looking for online release giveaway ideas, too. The official release date is Oct 23rd, which happens to be during Teen Read Week. Should I stick with giving books away, spa-themed goodies or both? Looking forward to the feedback. Thanks so much.

First of all, Celise, you should definitely start planning the marketing and publicity for your October release right about now. At least the planning and brainstorming part. (Also, if you are the one responsible for getting ARCs out to reviewers, then you should start that NOW. Many of the mainstream review publications have quite a lead time involved, so you don’t want to fall behind on that.)

Secondly you have already sown the seeds for a terrific web presence and done a lot of online preparation for this upcoming release. It’s mentioned on your website, Celise already has an ongoing author blog, and she even has a blog for her main character! Great work, Celise!

Now, about that release event, both online and in real life . . .

I think the idea of having a launch week event on your blog or website it a great one. I also think giving away copies of the book is a terrific tool. As Susan Wiggs said a few weeks ago, “I think the most direct way to win over a reader is to give her a book. If she loves it, she'll look for more, tell her friends, pass the book around to friends, family and co-workers.” But I think it might add another layer of fun to toss in some other prizes.

Your idea about a spa related theme is a fun one, but it does make me pause, if only because your book is about a girl who is a SPY rather than runs a spa. I get that a spa figures in the first book, but I wonder if it might be better to try to tie the launch into the more central premise of the book? That’s the hook of the series—her being a spy—and it won’t change from book to book, so maybe it’s more effective to start that branding now.

Definitely real life invitations could be marked TOP SECRET. Does Draven have a badge? An identity card that she uses when she needs to make contact? Are there any spy elements that you could use for invitations, tattoos, swag? Violets, what do you think? Do you have any fun spy ideas?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Swagology 101

Dear Friends,

Hope everyone is having a marvelous Monday!  Robin and I are both fully submerged on very tight novel deadlines, and we both have BIG presentations looming next week.  Wish we were doing them together-- that would be insanely cool!  Robin is jetting off to Dallas to do a presentation at the Museum of Art-- does she have the best publicist or what?  I am headed off to the Raisin Capitol of the World, Fresno, California.  Tres glamour! Seriously, I am very excited to be a keynote for a group of librarians at their annual retreat. Librarians, in my book-- RULE the world, or they should, for god's sake. 

I am mainlining green smoothies to stay well throught it all, and feeling very grateful to Robin for keeping me supplied with the best homegrown spinach ever.  We are both seeing green these days, thanks to her spouse's bumper crop.  All very fitting, given that St. Patrick's Day is nearly upon us.  I am praying for the luck of the Irish that we both meet our deadlines easily, get the very fun presentations behind us, and are soon sitting together behind enormous salmon salads, happily recharging.

So, our topic de jour-- Swagology, or as my hair stylist calls is Schwa-a-agology.  Either way, swag generally refers to the free promtional booty one can find at conventions, or conferences-- and for the sake of our conversation, on your author signing table.  It is a hot topic among authors and illustrators, and there is usually a bit bemoaning about how little the publishing houses are able to help with the financing of swag.  In the writerly circles in which I run, which include a goodly group of esteemed writers, we might see an occasional poster, perhaps some reimbursement for postcards-- but generally, all the costs come from us.

And, the purpose of swag?  That depends on who you ask.  For me, it serves as both a welcome and an icebreaker in connecting with kids or adults who are looking at the book table.  (Or in the case of lurking introverts, trying to look like they are NOT looking at your table.)  And, as a former kid that had no disposable income, I love being able to give a child something totally free, no strings attached.  I give out postcards, candy, stick-on gem earrings, small notebooks, fun erasers, and pencils.  Only the postcards have my promotional information on them.  I keep meaning to order personalized pencils, and then I just never get it done.  I'd rather just give out cool pencils.  (But I'm absolutely not advising this--  I'm just confessing here, folks.)   

Robin has beautiful items, and I get SSE next to her (Serious Swag Envy)  She has gorgeous pencils, scary/cool tattoos, Egyptian symbols, black cats, bookmarks, postcards.  She's good at this. And, she usually raffles off a really nice gift set of a few of these things packaged together.  (RL, am I forgetting anything?)

For those of you pre-published and those up and coming, I think swag works best when there is a specific and personal point to it.  Since  this will likely be your money you're spending, make sure that you know why you're doing this. I don't think I've ever heard of good swag being the thing that launched a book from obscurity to the Bestseller List.  I'd recommend that you start out small and conservatively, and see what items seem to be popular.  I think buying in bulk is good, but if  your order requires a forklift to get it into your garage, you might want to slow down a bit.

Consumables items are the best-- things people can actually use, not just some  medium for putting your name on it. That's why pencils, pens, pads, bookmarks, book thongs, snacks, stickers, and tattoos are great.  Postcards are good, too, but I'd encourage you to actually leave space on the back for a child (or adult) to use the postcard.  As a kid, I always hated when I got something cool like that, but there was no room for me to write on it.  I will sometime even put stamps on them, and make sure there is plenty of room for a child to write a message to their remote BFF.   Or, put your editor's name and address on the back, and ask the child to tell your editor if they liked the book and why. 

There are a number of sites we've talked about previously that are great for perusing and ordering inexpensive items.  I don't think you can beat Vista Print for ordering postcards, business cards, pens, pencils, sticky pads, tons of great items.  I've always enjoyed fabulous customer service which them, which goes a long way with me.  The Oriental Trading Company has just about anything that you could possibly think of, particularly in terms of looking for book tie-ins.  Two other sites that I like are Zazzle and epromo.

We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about Swagology, and any fave sites that you use.

* * * * 
Big congratulations out to Beth Cato who is the winner of last Monday's contest-- Please Help Luther!  :-)  We recieved a number of terrific posts and suggestions.  Thanks so much, everyone!  It was tough to choose.  I had to empanel a very special judge to help.  If  you haven't read the comments from that post, and public speaking can be a challenge for you, do go back and check them out. Beth's suggestions were practice-practice-practice, try to have some fun-- even at your own expense, use sturdy note cards, visit the empty stage or podium in advance if you can, have a cough drop or mint on hand for desert-throat, and make sure you don't wear anything that could choke you, trip you or otherwise present a clothing malfunction.  

And, we want to thank Kimberly Lynn for sending us the fun 'nervous speaker' case study.  Beth and Kimberly have won a copy of the soon-to-be-released (March 19!) new novel by the amazing Laurie Halse Anderson entitled Wintergirls.  If you both will email me off-line with your mailing address, I will put the orders in for you. 

Have a great week!
Mary Hershey

Thursday, March 5, 2009

You Don’t Have To Go It Alone--Marketing Co-ops

We’ve talked a lot here on SVP about the joys of using the buddy system for marketing and promotion, but it’s also worth a look at taking that one step further and creating a marketing co-op.

And while it’s true that co-op marketing can be as simple as a group of writing buddies linking to one anothers' sites or blogging together, you can also take the concept and really expand it into a full scale marketing co-op.

Nowadays there are so many marketing and promotional tasks that an author is expected to do, but really, just how many skill sets can one person have? That’s where the beauty of a marketing co-op comes in. If you get a group of authors together, the chances are they will each have skills that can be pooled. Perhaps one author is fairly web-savvy and can help the others with their websites. Maybe someone else has some marketing experience or media contacts and can be a huge resource for press releases and publicity packets. Then of course there’s a good chance that one or two of them are highly involved in their children's schools or parents’ group, and could be a great contact for school visits. Yet another person might be quite adept at graphic layout programs and can be the go-to person for help with designing bookmarks, postcards, and other promotional materials. There might be query letter geniuses, Facebook experts, MySpace whizzes, you get the idea.

With a marketing co-op, you don’t personally have to become an expert at a wide variety of skills, nor do you have to shell out a lot of money. By forming a co-op, each of you gets to tap into the area of expertise of another group member.

Of course, you have to work out a system that allocates fair value for all the different tasks involved. Is creating a press release the equivalent of designing a bookmark? And how many press releases equal setting up a website? Only you and your group can make those determinations, but you should definitely make them in advance, and be sure everyone agrees. It’s also a good idea to stay flexible and plan on making adjustments as you all roll up your sleeves and get to work.

So the next time you meet with your critique group or a gathering of local writers, put your heads together and see what you come up with. I'm guessing you'll be happily surprised at all the talent you'll find. . .

Monday, March 2, 2009

Public Speaking 101: A Case Study

Dear Friends,

Our reader, Kimberly Lynn, sent us this very funny clip from a 1966 film called The Ghost and Mr. Chicken , starring the late actor, Don Knotts.  God rest his howlingly funny soul. I remember watching this as a kid, and man, do I recall this scene. Talk about empathy pains!  In this clip, his character Luther, is giving a speech at a community event. As I watched this cringing and laughing, I thought what a great coaching piece this could be for all of us.  I was feeling his pain in particular, having just done a writing workshop two weekends ago where at last minute I was forced to change classrooms. I lost the ability to use the computer and projector.  You mean, I'd have to just talk?  Without my electronic props?  Say it isn't so! Take a look at the clip, and then come on back--

There are so many things that go wrong here that contributed to his melt-down.  Right out the gate, he has technical problems with a screeching microphone.  His hands are shaking.  His voice follows suit.  He loses his  notes.  He has people sitting close and behind him on stage, which can be unsettling to our kind.  A woman he has a big crush on is sitting in the audience. His opening joke goes over like a fart in church.  And, he is getting heckled.  What else? Well, his bowtie looks way too tight. That can't be good.  Finally, he is giving what seems to be a brain-numbing speech at a festive outdoor event, when people are probably stuffed with hot dogs and pie.  Anything I missed?  

So, imagine that you have been given the opportunity to freeze frame this public speaking debacle, jump in and give poor old Luther some in vivo coaching.  What would you say to him? How could you help him survive his public address? 

Keeping with the ghost theme here, I've got a copy of the latest Newberry winner, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, to the person that comes up with some of the very best coaching tips for him.  

I also want to point out that Robin has just posted the covers for three YA novels written by our accomplished readers in the sidebar on your right.  This is part of our newish showcase of our tribe.  Congrats to Tanita Davis, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Susan Schmid. May your books live long, and reach far and wide!

Best of luck to you and... peeps, help save Luther!  
Mary Hershey