Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tuesday, MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE had it's real-live book birthday and I couldn't just sit on my butt at home. No siree, I had to have visual proof that the book was actually IN bookstores. Besides, I was too excited to actually stay home and write and so I drove downtown and hit the trio of book sellers there.
First up, Indigo books - a huge chain of stores in Canada. I went to their "flagship" downtown Montreal location. This was my very first stop and I was filled with excitement...anticipation... and ultimately, DISAPPOINTMENT!
Like Old Mother Hubbard, I went to my bookshelf, careful to follow the alpabetical path to the "S" names. To my horror - "Silberberg" did not exist. I quickly accessed one of their nifty search kiosks and what I found was...."zero available in this store". Oh, fortuna how low you have spun me!
Lucky for me - another chain store was just up the street. And so, hat in hands, I trudged off to visit the equally huge Chapters bookstore (owned by the same company as Indigo I might add).
I walked into the basement level kids' section with trepidation. But what did I see? The familiar BLUE COVER and white lettering! Eureka - MILO EXISTED!
Now I'm usually a shy guy - but there I was gleaming at the bookshelf, camera in hand, and it wasn't long before a helpful bookseller asked if I needed anything. I told her I needed to wish my book a Happy BookDay and she eagerly obliged!
Not only did I find wonderful sales help - but while I was there (okay, because I was there and opened my big mouth) I was witness to the very first sale of my book. Technically, it was the first sale that happened in front of my own eyes, but let's not quibble over details. SOMEONE wanted to buy my book!!!
Soline was looking for books for her daughter and 12 year old son and I offered her a quick review of MILO. As it turned out she was also a therapist and immediately thought the book sounded like something she might be able to use with families dealing with grief and so, eager to give it to her son first - she bought a copy!
I love Paragraphe because it's a cramped space packed full with books and weaving my way to the kids' section was kind of like navigating a wild maze of books. And to my delight - I saw stacks of MILO. Yay! Again I needed some help and so got the fabulous book buyer to blow the streamer for Milo!
I pulled up a chair (gotta love those little kids' tables) and signed a few copies. Nothing cements that "I'm an author" feeling like inscribing books!
My search began with a big fat "zero" at the first bookstore but ended happily with one real-live book sold, a bunch of signed books, and then a hundred or so TWITTER BOOK PARTY tweeted messages.
Hey authors - are you a member of Twitter Book Parties? If not - why not? This brain child by author Mitali Perkins is genuis because it makes the usual lonely part of having your book come out turn into a joyful day of tweet "greetings" from all the members of the book party universe. Not only does it make you feel kinda sorta special - every tweet is also telling that person's followers about your new book. Social marketing and fuzzy feelings all in one click!
Later this week, I hit some of the smaller book stores in my area. Hey, I like to know MILO is in good hands!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Milo and I arrived outside the Simon & Schuster offices and he was immediately awed by the building.
We went inside and rode the elevator to the 4th floor. Stepping off the elevator the first thing I saw was this wall of MILO books. We both felt a surge of caffeine-adrenaline and posed for a picture taken with exquisite care by the multi-talented Liesa Abrams.
Not only is Liesa an incredibly talented editor and a great photographer - but she is the coolest person in the world because she loves all things BATMAN. This is a shot of a shelf in her office.
Now you have to realize that Liesa had tried to prepare me for what was to come by hoping that I'd be ready to "share the love" around the office. But I had no idea that Milo (the book) had so many fans already! I walked into the conference room and was met by dozens of people who had read and LOVED the book and it was probably the most overwhelmed I'd been in a long while. I had a chance to speak to the group and explain how personal Milo's story is to me.
Then I had Milo pose with everyone.
This was the first moment that my book felt like it was really out in the world and I made sure to bask in the feeling that it was a story that was touching people. Writing a book about parental loss and grief was an emotional journey for me and seeing that the emotion carries to other people touched me very much. Because the final book isn't ready yet I signed printed copies of several of the book's cartoons for people, which again just hit home how real the experience of publishing Milo felt.
The morning was made even more special because my wonderful agent, Jill Grinberg was there too. Thanks Jill!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Saturday, July 03, 2010
MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE (the full title) tells a very personal story for me and being able to share the book with my family was especially meaningful because the book tells the story of my mom's death when we were all kids. I was so proud to be able to have my sister read the book while we were in Maine (yes, she loved it - though tissues were used).
Here's a shot of my sister Debbie and me posing with the newly arrived book.
Most delicious memory of the week: Pizza night!!!!
As happens every year - the week speeds by in a blur and we all frantically pack our cars on Saturday morning and go our separate ways - but the memories are so strong and tangible that I'm already counting the days until I get to return!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I may not win the award for most frequent blog posts - but I do hope to snag a blue ribbon when it comes to having great guests drop by for a little one-on-one chat. Jill Murray is not only a friend and fellow Montreal author she is also the voice and code behind the wonderful kid-lit writer site Y-Eh!
For Rhythm and Blues, I had some past experience working with indie music, and I’ve played a bunch of instruments throughout my life, but voice wasn’t one of them. So I took singing lessons with pop-jazzy Montreal chanteuse Amanda Mabro, because I wanted to be able to get across what it feels like to learn to sing.
Finally, you may also note that my protagonists, Nadine and Alya, are black and hispanic, but if you check out my headshot, I, the author, am clearly descended from the blog-dwelling peoples of northern someplace-English. This was a case of wanting to represent the people in my neighborhoods and my life, and give some airtime to interesting voices.
ME: Good advice! Here's a question about your own writing process.
Because MILO borrows moments from my life, I relied on balancing the fiction of the story with things I remembered. The awful smell of hospital visits. The kindness of neighbors who wanted to help me. Waking up and then remembering how different everything then was. The memories became an important part of my palette. What role does memory play in your own writing experience?
JILL: I know I just told you that I make a lot of stuff up, and that I study new things to give life to my writing, but also, I think it’s worth pointing out that memories tell you what’s important enough to bother writing about. If a memory is still with you, chances are there’s something about it that needs further exploration or that if you share it, other people might relate to it too. Bottom line, it’s going to get its job done much better on the page than in your head.
JILL: Friends are important at any age. Like right now, I have friends who share my love of onion rings, olives, summer drinks on balconies, indian food, coffee, vegan ice cream sandwiches, avocados and oatmeal. But maybe this is more about how much I love to eat. When I was Milo’s age, my best friend had moved away, and it took me a really, really, REALLY, long time to find another one. There was an incident in high school where a friend and I spent an hour daring each other to go ask the elderly couple at the next table if we could borrow a french fry “just for a minute.” But we were too polite to actually follow through.
ME: Selfishly I always like to hear how other writers deal with the dreaded “writer’s block”. I have days that seem impenetrable when it comes to being creative. When I’m stuck I like to doodle or read a book…or do laundry. What do you do when the muse just won’t show up?
JILL: That slackerly muse! It’s so hard to find good help these days.
Actually, I don’t have a muse. It’s all “writer’s block” to me. Uphill, everyday, dragging the heavy burden of unwritten manuscripts.
I took a creative writing workshop with writer Kent Nussey once in the early ‘00s (I like typing it that way because it makes me sound like I’m 130 years old.) and he’d spent a lot of time worrying about writers block, and ultimately decided that it’s really just “failure of the ego.” By that, I think he meant that it’s not that you can’t write, it’s just that you think you ought to be having better ideas than you actually are, and that embarrasses and disappoints you, and so you don’t write.
That’s how I decided to take it. And I simply can’t have anyone thinking my ego is defective, so I just imagine I’m some kind of donkey or workhorse, and I put on my yoke and drag the till endlessly across the field, feeling sorry for myself as I write embarrassing, disappointing things. Eventually, in revisions, everything starts looking up again, and I remember that no, actually, I am awesome.
ME: In revisions, thankfully - we're all awesome! Thanks for taking time out from your crazy schedule. One last question: So we can all be jealous - what flavor ice cream did you recently make?
JILL: Mint chocolate cookie dough.
ME: Yum!! You truly are awesome!