Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Launching to Kate Messner!

Congratulations to Kate Messner launching her new middle grade title tomorrow!  

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z
Walker Books, September 1, 2009

Gianna Zales is a star runner with one more hurdle to jump before she goes to cross-country sectionals ­ a monster leaf collection project. To get it done, she'll have to survive a rival who desperately wants to take her place at sectionals, a grandmother who leaves her false teeth in the refrigerator, and a best friend whose feelings about her are changing like the leaves.Gianna Z needs a stroke of brilliance to make it work!

"Gianna Z. is total best friend material ­ full of energy, humor, and heart."  ~Linda Urban, author of A Crooked Kind of Perfect

"Laced with humor and heart, this is an insightful and affecting read,offering a compassionate portrayal of a family member's illness and the discovery of beauty and inspiration in nature and poetry."  ~Booklist Review

Kate's bookstore launch will be held at The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelbourne, Vermont this Saturday, September 5th. In addition to reading and signing, they will be serving Nonna's famous funeral cookies from the book, and the kids will be taking the Great Tree Identification Challenge.  And, the Flying Pig will be hosting a virtual book signing for Kate through Friday. If you'd like your own personalized book, you can call the store at (802) 985-3999 and place you order.  The book will be mailed to you. This is a fabulous way to let remote your FFF (family, friends, friends) participate in the festivities.

Check out Kate's Book Trailer

Kate is generously donating a signed copy of her new book to one of our reader's local library. We'll hold a drawing at the end of the week.  All SVP followers will be automatically entered, or you can leave a comment to get entered as well. Best of luck to you each!


As we mentioned a couple of posts back, as a *new* feature to Shrinking Violets, we want to celebrate our readers' launch days this year. Whether it is your first book or your fifty-first, a launch day ought to be celebrated.  If you'd like your title to be featured this year, please email me!  We can post a simple shout-out, introvert-style with no actual shouting, but we'd also love to post your book cover, a photo of you, your blog and/or website info, and any special plans you have to celebrate your launch.  If you don't have any plans, and would like some ideas, let us know that as well. :-] Finally, we invite you to share a signed copy of your book to be raffled off one our readers/followers for donation to their local public library in their name.  

And, on the day of your launch, we'll also sent out a ShrinkngViolets tweet in your honor!

As follow-up to last week's post New York v. Introverts, I want to let you all know that I will phone my editor this very morning at 11:00 a.m.  And I swear I won't hang up on her like I've been known to do a few (read forty) times in my life when the mere answering hello sent me into a lather.  I did email her Friday and asked if I could talk to her on Monday. So this isn't exactly a breezy Gosh, I need to run something by my editor-- I think I'll give her a ring-a-ding. It's completely pre-meditated and I've had all weekend to perseverate about it.  But the Bellagio was not built in one day!  Casual and breezy bound to be next on my list.

In the random but interesting category,  I recently read an interview with actor Ryan Reynolds, who co-starred in the film The Proposal with Sandra Bullock.  He was describing the challenges he faces being in the limelight.

"I feel like a flesh-covered antennae processing way too much information, reading into everything. As I get older, I've learned to control that better."

Ryan is the winner of today's Shrinking Violet "Oh Yeah, Probably an Introvert" Award. We'll be sending Ryan a gas card to drive up from Los Angeles to take Robin and I out to lunch. Afterwards, we'll head and over to our local indie where Ryan will be given the opportunity to hand-sell our books in front of the store.  Congrats, Ryan!  If you'd like Ryan to hand-sell any of your books, just let us know.

Lastly, for those of you looking for some tips for handling Big Talkers at parties and social events, here are some great ready-to-deploy tips from Ellen DeGeneres

Here's to a great September to us all--

Mary Hershey

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New York v. Introverts

Photo "Random House" by ChangeinCareer

It’s three weeks post-SCBWI Nationals, I’m still feeling buzzed by the Morning-Afters. I haven’t quite yet moved all the way back into my life.  It is rare an hour goes by that I don’t have some flashback to a speaker or workshop, or even one of Lin Oliver’s fastbreaking witticims.

One of the sessions that has packed a punch for me was Elizabeth Law’s PROtrack session entitled “How to Broaden Your Audience, Navigate Different Houses and Other Thorny Questions.”  Elizabeth Law is the VP and Publisher of Egmont Books USA launching its first USA list this Fall.  Egmont, based in Copenhagen, celebrated its 130th birthday recently and it a non-profit publishing company with supports children’s charities.  (Anyone else out there want to drop everything and go get a job at Egmont?? I'll drive.) 

I took very few notes from this session because Elizabeth was blowing my mind with her answers to said “thorny questions”.  I can’t recall if we ever got around to the “broadening” or “navigating” part of her presentation. We were derailed on an issue that many of us appeared to have trouble with—fear of bothering our editors, otherwise known as Editusphobitus. The assumption behind this phobia is that all editors are busier than God Herself, and we shouldn’t interrupt them in their Very Important Work.  Unlike our own work, which is leisurely and less important-- merely creating the books that they are very busy with. 

We were all shocked by the number of us that were caught up in this mind game. It isn't just me? Elizabeth heartily encouraged us to get over it, and recognize that our editors (and agents!) are our business partners. 

Business partners? Wow. That really hit me.  Not demigods? She said she welcomed hearing from her authors, as it gave her a needed break from the left-brained side of her work. She reminded us that editors do have modern technology at their disposal, and can easily let their calls go to voice mail and ignore their email/TM/Twitter, if they don’t want to be disturbed.  Oh! Right. 

I’ve been chewing over my own reticence and reluctance in this matter. It has a eerily familiar feel to it.  In the five or so years that I’ve worked with my editor, I can’t think of a time when I have ever spontaneously called her, unless we had a phone date set up. I’d be just as likely to pick up the phone and call Michele Obama or Oprah, or Stephanie Meyer.

Would I have liked to talk with her?  Yeah.  There have been a number of times when I’ve been perplexed by an editorial direction, and I bulldogged my way through it. Even though she has continued to extend herself to me in the most gracious way possible over the years. Or, I've contacted her on email because calling just seemed so hard.  Though, I would have loved to do some of the kind of brainstorming that doesn't translate well on email.

The eerily familiar piece?  While I know that there are some funny, perceived inequities in the author/editor relationship supported by the historic language of the process, e.g. submit, reject, solicit, acquire, rights for sale, work as slush, payment in royalties-- I don’t think that is the whole story. This isn’t the first time I’ve been actively practicing avoidance with someone. In fact, it is the once dance that I have completely mastered.  Heck, I’m ready for Dancing with the Stars! Any other agile and accomplished avoiders out there want to be my partner?

I know I've shared here that in my lifetime I've been afraid of Santa Claus and my own grandmother, but I've also avoided a host of others that were important to me... teachers, bosses, people I've had crushes on, and my college advisor (that was such a bad idea). Needless to say, this has caused problems, and more than a few misunderstandings.  Now I'm doing the same thing with my editor.  Why? I know better. It's because I'm shy, which seems like such a funny thing to still be saying at this decade in my life. It's as true now as it was when I was three and hiding in the closet.  Not all introverts are shy-- I just happen to be both. But because I have to live and work in the world, when I need to, I can behave as if I'm not.  Some days, though, it is like walking over hot coals in a pair of Crocs.  Safer to stay in the shadows and corners.

Marketing and promotion begin even before we sell a book. It begins when we choose this profession, and type Chapter One on a blank page, or pick up a paintbrush.  It continues when we attend a conference, a book-signing, a critique group.  Yes, New York is overwhelming, and its inhabitants seem so very sophisticated and glamorous.  And busy. I suspect some of them might be just like us-- introverts that worry about interrupting writers and artists in their Very Important Work.  It always comes back to the advice that we give here time and time again. How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  New York is huge. My editor is not.  Nor is yours.  She or he is just one person in a giant building making books for kids.  They're a lot like us.  

If you're not talking to your editor or agent and bookseller and you need to, or you're not following up on a query that's nearly geriatric, let's borrow from the collective strength of the tribe here. We owe it to our work to make sure we get the input and attention we need for success. As introverts, one of our most important self-care skills is knowing where and when to invest the finite energy we have for engagement.  New York and the members of our current or future publishing team is THE place.  Elizabeth, thanks for the wake-up call!

Dare me to call my editor this week? Double dare me, and I just might.  (Just so you'll know, I'm going to need a lot of dares to do this.)


Mary Hershey


Thanks to all of you that have signed on as followers here at Shrinking Violets.  One of the benefits of being a "follower" is that you can finally be eligible to win our frequent prizes without having to make comments.  We appreciate that some of you just won't ever want to do that, and that is perfectly okay with us.  But we hate for you to  miss out on the prizes!   

And, yes, we are back on Twitter and hope you'll come by and say hi!    @ShrinkngViolets

Lastly, a number of you sent me your book launch information, and I'll be posting that in the sidebar each month.  I think we have a couple of you with September books ready to be heralded so stay tuned.  Appreciate all the info.  Keep it coming!


Monday, August 17, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed, Tweet Tweet Again

So one of the hot topics of conversation and workshops at the recent SCBWI conference was all the social media opportunities available to writers. It was all Facebook this and Twitter that. Well, let me tell you, Mary and I felt a bit Tweaked because we had tried Twitter and we weren’t wowed by it. Clearly we were missing something. Not only that, we were in danger of being passed over by a major trend. SO not acceptable!

So we put our thinking caps on and, with a great Aha! moment, came up with a new idea. This whole process has been a great reminder to us that one should constantly revisit this stuff when it feels like the universe keeps shoving it in your path, and snickering when you trip over it. ☺

In addition to hearing all-Twitter, all the time at the conference, we’d received a few emails from readers who miss our twice a week posting. So….we are going to begin twittering again, but as the Shrinking Violets, not Mary and Robin! (Anyone else hearing a resounding d’uh! in the background?)

Yeah. Pretty obvious, huh? Not sure why we didn’t think of it before, but for the both of us it was like, of course! We need to turn to our strengths when we have to stretch our comfort zone. Peppering people with twits felt a lot like saying look at me, which is way outside our comfort zones. But giving away something—whether advice or encouragement or reminders on how to promote your books—well, we’re all over that.

So we have formed a new twitter account: @shrinkngviolets. (Notice that missing i in there. Someone else got to our name first—le sigh!) We will begin tweeting today, so pop on over and follow us. We promise not to flood your tweet deck. Instead, we will send you once daily tips, reminders, affirmations, and suggestions for caring for your introverted self as you navigate the extroverted world of book publicity.

Be one of our first fifty followers and you will be entered in our First Official Twitter Drawing, in which the lucky winner will receive a personal pedicure by Mary Hershey, who will travel to your home and paint your toenails a special Shrinking Violet color, blended especially for us.

No? O-kay. Be that way. How about a box of Sees Candy instead?

Speaking of followers, we’ve been noticing on other blogs those cool squares of blog followers and thought we’d try that out here. It’s fun to see everyone’s lovely avatars. AND, just to make the whole following thing a lot more fun, in the future, whenever we have drawings for prizes, we’ll pick the winners from the followers rather than the comments. That way the super-introverted of you won’t even have to speak up to enter. Unless there’s a quiz involved, and then you will have to enter in the regular, old fashioned way.

And one last thing. The conference also reminded us what a great, big thrilling event it is to have a book published, even if it’s not your very first one. In honor of that, we here at SVP want to start celebrating book launches. So if you’re a Shrinking Violet and have a book launching in the next year or so, let us know, would you? We’d like to celebrate those moments and shout your accomplishments far and wide. Email Mary with the deets, and we’ll coordinate a list. Also, if you have a book out and you haven’t seen it up on the sidebar, be sure and email me the info so I can get it up on one of our book cover rotations.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Portmortem: SCBWI 38th Annual Conference

Perhaps you have to be a bonafide introvert to look at this photo of a morgue locker and think it looks-- well, cozy.  Blissfully quiet. And, if you had just the right quilt, a cup of tea and a notebook, it wouldn't be a bad place to hang out for a while. Least that's what occurs to me as I begin our Official SCBWI Portmortem Post!  

Robin and I are just back in from the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators 38th Annual Conference in LA.  Our mental hard drives are sparkin' and spittin', and our muses are dreamily intoxicated. Mine keeps calling for a cigarette.  After moving en masse with nine hundred and eleven other writers and illustrators for four days, I am relishing deep long breaths-- regathering all my parts and pieces-- settling in.  Good mojo to be had.

I've posted a few photos from our Shrinking Violet table at the Golden Kite Luncheon which was a marvelous event.  The food was lovely, the company delicious, and inspiration came served by the bucket.  Our own Shrinking Violet Donna Gephart was on hand to deliver her acceptance speech for the Sid Fleischman Humor Award, one richly deserved.  We were all so very happy for her!
Pictured  left to right: Thalia Chaltas, RL LaFevers, Katherine Applegate (Yeah, I know--it was all I could do not to shriek!), Sheri Rosen

We were slayed by the speech delivered by Hyewon Yum who won in the best illustration category for her picture book entitled Last Night.  Hyewon spoke of being the child in class who never raised her hand, and spoke little.  She grew up and wrote an completely wordless picture book. (I'm planning on starting a wordless novel this week--a super long one.) What irony, then, that Hyewon won this award and ended up in front of 1000 people, and on a jumbotron, speaking her thanks.  It was very, very moving.  Nary a dry eye at the Shrinking Violet table! We are thinking of electing her our patron saint. 

Richard Peck's keynote at the luncheon was staggering.  I'm hoping they will post a link to his speech.  I have heard him present a few times, and I'm always left with the feeling that I have been in the presence of a real Master.  What a extraordinary privilege.  He is brilliant, profound and the man defines the art of deadpan humor.

This was my first introduction to National Book Award winner Sherman Alexie, and I fell hard for him.  Did you hear the giant thud?  Yeah, t'was my heart falling landing on its arse. He is an extraordinary soul.  I plan on reading everything the man has ever written-- his novels, short stories, poetry. He described being Catholic and Native American as "guilt squared." Love that! He drew an intriguing comparison of both "poor kids and rich kids" as having choices made for them. Later in a session with his editor, Jennifer Hunt,  he had me howling with his wicked humor when he shared an anecdote of an earnest middle grade boy asking him at an event how many times a day he actually did--uh, marinate. :-]

Pictured left to right: Mary Hershey, Sherrie Petersen, Jennie Bielicki

Robin and I extended our stay by a day so we could decompress, and avoid getting the bends by surfacing too quickly.  It was just what we needed. It also gave us some time to do some SVP planning together.  There are some exciting new things that will be rolled out shortly!  Stay tuned for Robin's post about all of that next week.  

If there was a common thread for the two of us in our experience at conference this year, it was that we both felt we'd been given permission.  Permission to be more active business partners with our editors and agents, permission to use social media or NOT, permission to go as dark and edgy or as loose and outrageous as our story dictated.  Permission to choose and tell the story that only we can tell. Permission to honor our voice and our vision no matter what. Permission to grow the things that are important to us, and to let the other things go.  

Even if you didn't attend this conference, we hope that you each will find some quiet time to listen to your own urgings, and the truths that may be calling you. I really encourage you to visit the Team Blog link on the SCBWI site. Many of the sessions and events were covered. There is a wealth of priceless industry and craft information available. Take advantage of it!

A few gems  from my notebook: 
"I wrote because I could not dance."  -- Karen Cushman

"Write something only you can write."  -- Dinah Stevensen

"'Friend' is not a verb."  -- Richard Peck

"We write by the light of every book we ever read."  -- Richard Peck

Pictured left to right: Deborah Gobel, Catherine Stier, Amy Spitzley (winner of the 2009 Fairy Godsister conference grant)


Contest! Contest!  I love contests!  Robin let me do the drawing for those of you that correctly submitted the name of Maggie Stiefvater's car.  Its name is Loki!  If your name is Pam Bachorz and you have a soon to be published book entitled Candor with Egmont USA that an awful lot of people were talking about at Nationals, you are the winner of an ARC (advanced reader's copy) of Maggie's new book, Shiver Lucky you, Pam! If you'll email me off-line by clicking here, Robin will get that right off to you. 

Hope you all have a stellar week!  It was a such a rich pleasure to meet some of you this past week in LA.   I hope you'll share some of what you experienced here with us!

Mary Hershey

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Shrinking Violets will be with you on Tuesday

Just a quick pop-in to say hellooooo from SCBWI Nationals which have just ended after four extraordinary days!

We are both nearly comatose (in the coolest way possible), and are treating ourselves to an extra day at the Century Plaza Hotel to regroup.

Can't wait to catch up with you and tell you all about it---

Mary & Robin

Monday, August 3, 2009

Shrinking Violet Profile: Maggie Stiefvater

Buzz. Every author wants it, and now one of Shrinking Violet’s own, Maggie Stiefvater, has it in spades for her newest book, SHIVER. Since she’s a raging introvert, I’ve invited her to speak to us all about how she managed to generate all this buzz, what it feels like, how she deals with it as an introvert. Not only does it give us all a vicarious peek into a Major Authorial Fantasy, but she was hugely generous with her time and gave us some wonderful tips.

SVP: We talk a lot here on Shrinking Violet Promotions about how writing a kick @ss book is one of the best marketing strategies out there. Do you feel that strategy applies to SHIVER? Do you feel it stands out significantly from LAMENT in some way in terms of your writing skill? Did you know it was a “breakout” book when you wrote it? Or was it more a convergence of subject matter/trends/luck that sometimes gets publishers excited?

Maggie: As far as breakout book stuff, yes. While I was writing SHIVER, it was just for me, but the further along I got, the more I thought . . . something is happening here. By the time I got to the end, I was . . . well, I was pretty much crawling out of my skin with excitement, thinking it was a huge jump forward for me in character-building in particular. And my agent definitely agreed. It was definitely helped out by the end of the TWILIGHT series and people looking for another paranormal teen romance, but I don’t think it would have been sucked in to fill that role if it hadn't been a big jump forward from LAMENT.

I will say that when I thought it might be big, I had no idea just how big that big would end up being. I mean, my first novel was with a very small imprint and had sold for a low four figure advance.

SVP: You mention writing SHIVER “just for you.” Can you talk a little more about that? I’m beginning to think there is an important lesson in that angle for writers as my most successful book so far is one I wrote “just for me” as well.

Maggie: I think it’s a bad idea to write purely for the market. I don’t think it’s impossible, certainly, and I think you can turn out a quite tidy book written with a close eye on what editors and agents would like. But I don’t think you’ll ever write a “big” book that way. I think you have to have that passion that only comes from writing something for you. When I was writing LINGER, the sequel to SHIVER, I was crippled for the first few weeks by the idea of what my imaginary SHIVER readers would want from the sequel. I just kept starting and stopping. Writing scenes and deleting them. Finally, I put on my most melodramatic music, really idealistic stuff that I loved and was guilty about sharing, turned off the inner critic, and just wrote LINGER as if the only person who would ever read it was me.

SVP: Were you ready for this big publicity push? Was it part of the deal when you signed with your publisher or did it evolve later?

Maggie: I saw a marketing plan when my book when to auction, but marketing plans are notorious for being hopeful promises rather than set in stone. And it was pretty amorphous, though it looked fab. There wasn’t really any definite plans for author appearances. I’d read that it was a good idea to meet your editors and marketing team, however, so I flew to NYC on my own nickel (after asking my editors when the best time would be), and they set up a meet and greet in the company. Something that I didn’t realize, coming from a smaller house, was that at the big houses, is that it’s pretty rare for an author to have been read by the majority of the house. But it makes a ripple effect. Strong editor support leads to stronger house push which leads to a stronger bookseller push which leads to better placement . . . etc. So the more people you have excited at the ground level, the better you are.

I knew that I was going to be speaking in NYC, and I knew that this was my chance to show them I was ready to get out there and talk up by book. So I wrote a very conversation 15 minute speech and I practiced the hell out of it for two weeks beforehand. I gave it in the shower, in the car, driving the kids to school -- I wanted it to be memorized but natural, so that I could just sound like I was chatting instead of reciting. (I used the loci method of speech memorization, if anyone’s interested.)

It was a big deal. It showed them that I could talk in front of an audience. Also, I’ve been working my butt off on my blog presence. And the great thing about marketing yourself is that if you keep your publisher in the loop, they will do their best to match your efforts.

SVP: Wow, so how did an introvert like yourself get comfortable with speaking in front of a group of NY publishing professionals?? What’s your secret? :-)

Maggie: Heh. I guess I sort of answered that. I had to do some public speaking in college as a history major, but I was never great at it. I mean, I got good grades but I was definitely not comfortable. I could fake being comfortable. I’m an introvert, after all. Being the center of attention? Gah. But I did learn some good speaking tips in college. And I’ve learned more along the way. Here’s some good ones:

~When writing your speech, tell your audience what you’re going to tell them, then tell it to them, then tell them what you’ve told them, and tell them you’re done. It sounds silly and over-the-top, but an audience that knows what to expect is a happier audience. No squirming. Because you’ve said, “I’m going to talk about A, B, and finally C. Now, A. Also, B. In conclusion, C. This was AB and C, wasn’t that hot!? Whoo!”

~Be yourself. If you aren’t formal, don’t try to be. If you aren’t funny, don’t try to be.

~Prepare. The more prepared you are, the more powerful you’ll be. Bring index cards if you need to, but I find I feel better if I’m prepared enough that I don’t need them. I don’t have to panic that I’ll miss one or leave them in the hotel room then.

~Try visual aids if you’re nervous. It gives you a chance to turn away from those staring eyeballs to point at the funny poster you’ve brought, or whatever.

~Establish a rapport with audience before you pour info into their heads. I think of it like a date. Before you try to reach into their blouses, sweet talk them. I always leave two minutes of my speech unplanned and come up with something the day of the event. That way I can tell a funny anecdote about my travel on the way there or gush about the city that I’ve never seen before.

~Remember that for most publicity events, your goal is to entertain, not to inform.

~Better to tell constant anecdotes with info slipped in amongst it.

~Speak slowly and stop between sentences if you feel an um coming on. No one will notice a pause, promise.

~Orange juice. This one is from my agent. She recommended drinking orange juice before an event to calm you down and give you a little burst of sugar. I prefer apple juice, and it has another benefit: I sometimes get an upset stomach when I travel, especially if I’m sleep deprived. Especially if I’m going to have to speak to a bunch of bigwigs. Drinking a juice and nothing else for breakfast gives my introverted, tired stomach an easy intro the day.

~Arrive early. Shake hands. Joke around. The better you know your audience, the less terrifying it will be to get up in front of them later and speak.

~Remember, events always look scarier on your itinerary. I promise.

SVP: I’ve also noticed your doing a ton of extra promotional stuff, like your SHIVER book trailer. Is this something your publisher expected of you? How much do you think it helps the overall marketing efforts?

Well, this is a tough question to answer. Scholastic never sat down and said “we’d like you to do x number of contests, x number of giveaways, a book trailer, and a blog tour.” But one of the big reasons they offered such a big advance (as well as the other publishers in the auction) is because of my blog presence. I already had my well-read conversational blog as a sort of “platform,” as much as a fiction author can have a platform. So it wasn’t so much that they had definite ideas of what I would do for promo, but I know they expected me to do something with the blog, if that makes sense. And what I said before about matching marketing efforts? I would do a giveaway, it would do amazingly well, and I would find a box of ten more advanced review copies on my doorstep a week later. I just got a box of audiobooks from Scholastic Audio to do giveaways with.

The book trailer, however, was insanity. It was something I wanted to do for myself, just to see if I could do it. I mentioned it to Scholastic, who was already doing a book trailer, and they said “great!” I also mentioned that I’d written a tune for SHIVER and they talked to Borders, who asked if I’d write an exclusive track for them. I did and now Borders is doing a huge push. I don’t think it’s purely because of that track, but it doesn’t hurt.

SVP: How did you go about building such a huge blog presence?

Well, I now have two blogs with the same content, one on Livejournal, and now, because I wanted to see if some people preferred to read/ follow/ comment on blogger, I mirror that content on Blogger.

Anyway, on the livejournal blog, I've gotten between 24,000-35,000 overall hits a month and 14,000-20,000 unique hits for the last six months. I only started mirroring the blogger blog three months ago, and it's up to 700 unique hits a month. Not insane numbers, but it's very new, and that's 700 who I wouldn't have had just on LJ.

First of all, it takes time. I've been blogging for a long time now -- years on livejournal, and before that, I blogged for two years while I was a full-time artist. You need to post regularly, comment on other people's blogs, and generally work on being a legitimate part of the blogosphere instead of just a ME ME ME person. Shrinking Violets is a great example of that!

You don't have to post about writing -- I often don't -- but you should be interesting. By interesting I mean Seinfeld level of interesting. You don't have to talk about anything in particular, just be entertaining about nothing.

There are a bunch of things that will quickly submarine your blog though. Blogging bad behavior includes posts that:

1) say "wow, I guess no one is reading me, because no one commented." or "I feel I'm shouting into the void." You might get a handful of people commenting and saying "oh no, we really do love you," but it will get you nowhere, audience-wise.
2) include only word count meters. We're all very glad you're writing and making progress and that you wrote 70000000 words on a project we know nothing about!woo! But we don't care. I'm sorry. We don't. No one's going to follow a blog that's got a ton of those posts.
3) go on forever about what you did over the weekend. Again, we're happy you have a life. But unless you're hilarious, our attention span only lasts for about 500 words. With punctuation. And, like, paragraphs.
4) smear other author's books. Just wait until you're sitting next to them on a con panel and they look at you funny because yes, we all have google alerts. If you're an author, you can have opinions on books that suck so badly that universes disappear into them. But you can also keep them to yourself thankyouverymuch.
5) say "sorry I haven't posted in two months, I'll make up for it I swear." First of all, you won't. Second of all, all of your readers you worked so hard to build up have already left you. promise.

Basically, the rules for being a good blogger are the same as being a good writer. To be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. To be a good blogger, read the big blogs out there to learn how to do it and to not reinvent the wheel.

SVP: A few weeks ago on your blog you were talking about confidence, and how you just simply need to decide to be confident, or to act confident at the very least. Sort of like John Cage’s Smile Therapy from the old Ally McBeal show. This echoes something Cecil Castelucci said in an interview here on the blog about choosing to step into the life that you want. Could you elaborate a little on that for us? It sounds like a huge but critical step. Any suggestions on how to take that leap?

Maggie: It really is a huge step. I should reiterate here, for the shrinking violets who are doubting me: I am an introvert. A huge introvert. In college, I was such an introvert that when my now husband took me to places like Dave & Busters, I would get so overwhelmed by the sheer number of people that I would go into the bathroom after about a half hour and just try to get myself back together.

But I was also a bagpiper. I was a professional musician. And I used to get the whole sweaty palms shaky limbs nerves thing going on when I was sixteen, seventeen. But I found out something really quickly: you get in front of an audience with your instrument and you fake the smile and the confidence, they can’t tell the difference. And one day, I went out there, and I realized my palms were dry. I just threw my pipes on my shoulder and busted out my tunes and I could do it all day in front of the Pope and throngs of millions. It took a bit of time before I didn’t need an instrument in my hand to be brave, but by then, I knew the secret. It’s pretending to be the person you want to be. And I promise you, if you do it long enough, you will be that person.

But it’s a double-edged sword. If you tell yourself that you’re nervous, that you’ll be sick, that you’re insecure, that you can’t do it, that no one will like you -- you’ll be those. The human mind is hugely powerful, especially the subconscious.

The difference between weird and quirky is what you tell people you are. Project quirky. Trust me.

SVP: How do you stay sane with all these demands and manage to write the next book? What are your recharging strategies?

I’ve figured out really fast that Maggies and all-nighters do not work. Maggies and less than eight hours of sleep don’t work. That goes for both travel and meeting deadlines at home. I heard somewhere that the first part of your subconscious to shut down when you’re sleep deprived is the creative part, and that seems to be true. Because I cannot rough draft when I’m exhausted. I just can’t.

I also give myself every Sunday off. It doesn’t have to be Sunday, but it is for me. I won’t let myself work on writing or promotion. I read a book, play with my kids, go someplace with my husband. Watch Harry Potter 6.

Also, I don’t know if this is true for all introverts, but I’ve discovered that music has a profound ability to change my mood. I figured this out when I got back from my first long publicity trip. I got into my car at the airport parking lot and one of my favorite CDs was on. I let out this huge sigh of relief as it played and that was when I realized how much stress I was used to letting off through listening to music. Now I make sure I have my music with me always.

SVP: What three pieces of advice do you have for fellow introverts wanting to reach for that publishing brass ring?

1. You can do it. You can find the time to write; you can find the strength to get in front of people; you can juggle promo and writing. It’s not a question of if you have it in you. It’s just a question of if you’re willing to say “Yes, I can do it” and really believe it.

2. Find yourself some excellent critique partners who are willing to rip off your skin and put it back on again. People who read the same thing as you read, who are the same writing level as you, who are enthusiastic about your writing and not just critical. I still rely so heavily on my two crit partners, even with my agent and editors giving me lots of attention.

3. Be patient. Sometimes “no” really means “not yet.” And sometimes a closed door is the best thing for the moment. LAMENT came so close to publication a year before it really got published, and the best thing in the world is that no one took a chance on it then. Because I wasn’t good enough then. I was almost good enough -- but not quite. I would not be where I was today if I had gotten my yes then.


Maggie: Oh yes. OH YES. As other introverts can probably attest, sleep is our fuel. I get eight hours every night, no matter what, because I can't function otherwise. And more after a social event.

However, I rarely watch television.

And never go shoe shopping.


Thank you, Maggie, for all that amazingly helpful information! I feel like I've just had a master class in public speaking and building a better blog!

In celebration of Maggie's newest book, we're going to have a drawing for an ARC of SHIVER. Everyone who commented last week on our inspirational authors post is already entered and their name is already in the hat. But for the rest of you, all you have to do is answer this one trivia question, and you're name will be in the hat too! (Hint: You might be able to find the answer somewhere on Maggie's website...)

And the question is: What is the name of Maggie's car?

(If you're too shy to post the answer in the comments, you know the drill. Email me with your entry.)