American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute #WI12 ROCKS!

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We’re all familiar with that “online bookseller who shall be nameless,” who’s been huffing and puffing and trying to gobble up the independent-bookstore market. Well, let me tell you a little secret. It’s not working. Indie bookstores are here to stay. And best of all, they are thriving!

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Lesley Stahl and Ann Patchett

I had the privilege of attending my second American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute. In a nutshell, it was AWESOME!

I attended some terrific sessions about:

  • Starting a children’s book festival (I have this fantasy that the North Fork of Long Island will some day have a children’s book festival of its own); and
  • Working with small and university presses.

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Left to right: Wendy Morton Hudson, Nantucket Book Partners (Nantucket, MA); Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop (Houston, TX); Todd Dickinson, Aaron’s Books (Lititz, PA); Tom Roberts, Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe (Warwick, NY).

I also sat in on two wonderful lunches. The first was an education lunch for authors conducting events at independent bookstores. Some takeaways from the lunch were:

  • It’s never too early to contact a bookstore. Contact the store 5-6 months before a book releases.
  • Be sure to be honest with the bookstore regarding the number of people you believe will be in attendance.
  • People expect to be entertained at a bookstore event.
  • Do not read the entire book at an event (unless it’s a picture book). If you read the entire book, there’s no incentive to purchase the book.
  • Some bookstores like PowerPoint presentations. Others, not so much.
  • Presentations for kids generally follow this formula: 15 minutes to read a story; 15 minutes of Q & A; and 20 minutes to sign.
  • Be sure to engage kids and their parents during a presentation.
  • Multiple author events need cohesion. E.g., An evening of alligator stories, etc.
  • And always be sure to work social media. Make sure you put links to the bookstore on your website.

The second was the small and university presses lunch. The highlight for me was listening to Marissa Moss, publisher and editor extraordinaire of Creston Books, present the spring titles.

Below are a few photographic highlights:

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Marissa Moss, Editor and Publisher of Creston Books, discussing the spring releases. 

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Kate Warne, Pinkerton Detective by Marissa Moss and illustrated by April Chu (Creston Books 2017). 

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Rumors by Denys Cazet (Creston Books 2017).

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The Case of the Poached Egg, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery by Robin Newman and illustrated by Deborah Zemke (Creston Books 2017).

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Marissa Moss with her first adult novel, Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love (Conari Press 2017). 

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The Galley Room 

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Emma Donoghue signing, The Lotterys Plus One (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic 2017).

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William Joyce signing, Ollie’s Odyssey (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 2017).

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Josh Funk with his latest book, The Case of the Stinky Stench (Sterling 2017), and me (naturally holding a carton of eggs to celebrate the upcoming release of The Case of the Poached Egg).

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Ann Patchett signing, Commonwealth (Harper 2016). 

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Detectives Wilcox and Griswold are in the house! 

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Thrilled to be signing the latest Wilcox & Griswold Mystery, The Case of the Poached Egg (Creston Books 2017). 

Please support your local independent bookstores. Not to preach (because I would never, ever do that) BUT . . . independent bookstores are anchors in our communities. They bring us together. They keep our kids off electronic devices and get them excited about the written word. Independent bookstores give us opportunities to know and understand worlds beyond our own. They support us in so many ways. Please be sure to support them.

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For comprehensive coverage of #WI12, be sure to check out these wonderful articles from Publishers Weekly.

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post by Laurie Wallmark: Writing About Strong Women

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I am thrilled to have Laurie Wallmark as my guest blogger today. Laurie and I met many moons ago at one of the NJ SCBWI conferences. In the interest of full disclosure, we are both represented by same incredible agent, Liza Fleissig, and we also have the wonderful connection of being fellow Creston Book authors.

Laurie’s debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, illustrated by April Chu (Creston Books), releases on October 13, 2015, in conjunction with the celebration of Ada Lovelace Day. She was the world’s first computer programmer.

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Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine is one of the most beautiful and inspiring books that I have read in a very long time. The illustrations will take your breath away. This is a book that will be cherished for generations to come.

Now, without further ado, here’s Laurie:

People often ask me why I choose to write biographies of strong women like Ada Byron Lovelace. Here are three events from my life that contributed to my interest in doing so.

  • In grade school, I played the snare drum in the school orchestra. When it was time to graduate to junior high, I wasn’t allowed to continue with this instrument in school. I was told it wasn’t ladylike to play drums. Instead, I had to switch to playing bass fiddle, because, as we all know, that’s a much more feminine instrument—not! Of course, when the orchestra needed an additional percussionist, they didn’t seem to mind I was a girl.
  • In seventh grade, boys and girls had no choice in the classes they took for electives. Boys took wood shop, auto mechanics, metal working, and mechanical drawing. Girls took sewing, cooking, and art. In eighth grade, since I was interested in architecture, I signed up for intermediate mechanical drawing. The administration wouldn’t let me, since I hadn’t taken mechanical drawing in seventh grade. Luckily for me, I had parents who fought for their children, even their daughters. Because of them, I was able to take mechanical and then, in ninth grade, architectural drawing. Of course, I was the only girl in either of these classes.
  • When I was about to enter high school, my mother asked the principal about the availability of higher-level math classes. He wanted to know if she had a son or daughter. When my mother answered a daughter, he told her the courses didn’t matter because a girl would never advance that far. By the way, he was wrong

Even though I went to school years ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, many girls still experiences these types of prejudices in their schooling. This is one of the reasons that fewer than 15% of computer scientists are women. I want girls (and boys!) to read my books and realize they can follow their dreams, no matter where they lead.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books, October 2015) is a picture-book biography of the world’s first computer programmer. Ada was born two hundred years ago, long before the invention of the modern electronic computer. At a time when girls and women had few options outside the home, Ada followed her dreams and studied mathematics. This book, by Laurie Wallmark and April Chu, tells the story of a remarkable woman and her work. Kirkus Reviews describes the book as a “splendidly inspiring introduction to an unjustly overlooked woman.” [starred review]

Join Laurie as she travels from blog to blog to introduce her debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. All stops are listed at: http://lauriewallmark.com/blogtour.php.

ALA San Francisco Annual Conference & Exhibition #alaac15

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What an incredible week to be in San Francisco! ALA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition was a jubilant celebration of authors, illustrators, publishers, librarians, and of course, books! Where else in the world are there this many people excited about books? Nowhere. And in a nutshell, it was AWESOME!  ala4

At this year’s conference, I had the opportunity to do a cooking demo, making Mollie Katzen’s super yummy carrot cake recipe from The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake. I have to say when I first heard of this I wasn’t sure if it was a joke because (just between you and me) I don’t bake. In fact, over the years, I’ve had a very good relationship with my friends Betty Crocker, Nestlé® Toll House®, and the Pillsbury® Doughboy® and I go way back. The thought of baking,[1] even pretend baking, in front of an audience was terrifying. Fortunately for me, Mollie Katzen’s recipe is so easy that even a bumbling baking novice like myself could do it. And I had a blast! With the headpiece microphone, I felt like a cross between Julia Child and Madonna. So Food Network, if you’re looking for an author who writes about food, but who can’t actually make the food, I’m your gal. Call me. We’ll talk! 🙂 (I also happen to know two charismatic Missing Food Investigators who would love to host a kids cooking show.)

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ala3Detective Wilcox and Captain Griswold enjoying the spotlight on the What’s Cooking @ALA Stage 

Here are more photographic highlights:

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Mug Shot: Me, and librarian extraordinaire, Beth Decker

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Members of the Creston crew: Muon Van, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Julie Downing, April Chu, me

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Darlene Beck-Jacobson and Georgia Lyon

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Simon Stahl and me

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Dan Santat

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me and Lane Smith

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Marcia Goldman, Lola, and Marissa Moss 

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me and Debbie Ridpath Ohi

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Jon Scieszka and me

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Muon Van and April Chu

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me and Cece Bell 

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Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Jacqueline Woodson, and me 

It was a wonderful conference. And to all the superhero librarians who inspire fledgling readers and turn reluctant readers into avid readers from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!!! 

Wilcox, Griswold and I have already packed our bags for the next ALA conference. We can’t wait!

p.s. Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Marcia Goldman, Lola, and I also enjoyed a great visit to a wonderful bookstore, Book Passage.

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**Please remember to support your independent bookstores. Thank you!

[1] While practicing the recipe, I learned one thing: grating carrots on a hand grater is a serious workout. You can avoid expensive gym fees by simply buying a bag of carrots and a hand grater.