Sunday, February 15, 2009

Book Sightings

One of the most exciting things about being an author is not only seeing my own books in print, but seeing other books by authors I know in the bookstores. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see all of these books face out at one of the local Barnes and Noble here in Austin:

Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) by Cynthia Leitich Smith. The summary: At last, Miranda is the life of the party: all she had to do was die. Elevated and adopted by none other than the reigning King of the Mantle of Dracul, Miranda goes from high-school theater wannabe to glamorous royal fiend overnight.

Meanwhile, her reckless and adoring guardian angel, Zachary, demoted to human guise as the princess’s personal assistant, has his work cut out for him trying to save his girl’s soul and plan the Master’s fast-approaching Death Day gala.

In alternating points of view, Miranda and Zachary navigate a cut-throat eternal aristocracy as they play out a dangerous and darkly hilarious love story for the ages.

With diabolical wit, the author of Tantalize revisits a deliciously dark world where vampires vie with angels — and girls just want to have fangs.

Golden Girl: A Bradford novel (Simon Pulse, 2009) by Micol Ostow. The Summary: Spencer Grace Kelly has it all, and then some...especially with two new arrivals at prestigious Bradford Prep: Spence’s ex-boyfriend and first love, Jeremy, and Regan Stanford, a frenemy with a mysterious past.

Micol, a recent graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program for Writing for Children and Young Adults, is also the author of Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa (Razorbill, 2006) and So Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) (Flux, 2009).

Shadowed Summer (Delacorte, 2009) by Saundra Mitchell. The Summary: Nothing ever happened in Ondine, Louisiana, not even the summer Elijah Landry disappeared.

His mother knew he ascended to heaven, the police believed he ran away, and his girlfriend thought he was murdered.

Decades later, certain she saw his ghost in the town cemetery, fourteen-year-old Iris Rhame is determined to find out the truth behind "The Incident With the Landry Boy."

Enlisting the help of her best friend Collette, and forced to endure the company of Collette's latest crush, Ben, Iris spends a summer digging into the past and stirring old ghosts, in search of a boy she never knew.

What she doesn't realize is that in a town as small as Ondine, every secret is a family secret.

So, go out and buy books. Support the chains and the independents (like Bookpeople and The Flying Pig).

And be sure to check out 28 Days Later at The Brown Bookshelf. We'll be profiling established and up-and-coming African-American authors all during the month of February!

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Monday, September 29, 2008

28 Days Later - 2009

A little over a year ago, I, along with four of my colleagues in the kid-lit industry, joined together to form The Brown Bookshelf – an online community charged with highlighting both established and up-and-coming African-American children’s and YA authors and illustrators. Our 2008 - 28 Days Later Campaign was a huge success, and I’m happy to announce that we’re now accepting submissions and nominations for 28 Days Later – 2009.

As our new campaign began to ramp up, I found myself thinking a lot about the role of The Brown Bookshelf. Were we making enough of an impact? What additional programs should we be pushing? Had we outgrown our usefulness?

As I contemplated these and many other questions, I was directed to a Publishers Weekly essay by Denene Millner, co-author of the “Hotlanta” series. In the essay, Millner notes the dearth of books for African-American teens, stating, “Very few prolific authors have enjoyed consistent, successful careers writing about black teen life, and only a handful of publishing houses have dedicated their resources to publishing black teen books. And once those books are released, good luck finding them in bookstores or reviewed in the media.” Specifically, Millner points out the gluttony of “street fiction” on bookshelves, and implores publishing houses to publish “more books about and for African-American teens, and not tomes about slavery, the ghetto and growing up in impossible conditions. I'm talking books with modern, hip stylings and everyday stories that address teen issues in a way that speaks to the audience in their own language.”

I’ve stated before my surprise, and disappointment, when teens shout out that their favorite authors are Zane and Eric Jerome Dickey. Truthfully, Zane and Eric Jerome Dickey may be okay for some students. However, I’d love to go into a school one day and hear a teen say that his or her favorite author is Coe Booth or Rita Williams-Garcia or L. Divine.

And, I think this can happen, because teens that read novels by these authors love their books. The key is—how do we get these books into the hands of the readers? Libraries are our primary lifeline to these students, but is there another way to reach these readers? Can we—authors, publishers, booksellers, and parents—do more?

But as Millner’s essay reminded me, sometimes it’s not just the end reader that we need to support. Milliner states:

“…I'm not as confident about what can be done to improve the morale of authors like me, who are weary from the mess that has become black fiction. I can't tell you how painful it is to have my books—particularly a teen book—dismissed as street fiction because the cover features black girls.”

African-American authors are a dying breed, a breed which I fear may become extinct if we don’t do a better job of supporting both established and emerging talent. That’s why 28 Days Later is so important. We need books not just for African-American children and teens, but we need books—well-written, diverse books— written and illustrated by African Americans.

So please, drop by the site today and nominate an author or illustrator. And remember: well-written, entertaining books aren’t just a benefit for certain ethnic groups. They’re a benefit to the entire industry. And most importantly, good, well-written, diverse books provide the greatest benefits to our end users—children and teens all across the world.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Brown Bookshelf: Chat with the Indies

Be sure to check out the chat tonight (Wednesday, July 23) from 9 p.m. - 10 p.m. eastern on the Brown Bookshelf forum about how indie bookstores can work with authors and their local community to ensure their survival. Both Jenn Laughren from Books Inc. and Jaz Vincent, owner of RealEyes Bookstore, will be checking in.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Yes, I can do the math...

...and I know it's been a long time since I've posted. I've pretty much come to the realization that, until I finish up a Vermont College, my blogging volume is going to drastically decrease. But the semester is finally over (almost). I still have to get together a bunch of paperwork to turn in to the admin office, and the way I'm going, I'll have to Fed-ex it to get it there on time.

So, I've been spending a lot of time with VC stuff, but there's still a lot of other things going on. Like, My Life as a Rhombus, which was supposed to be available on January 1, is available NOW. Well, at least it's available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It should trickle into the actual brick-and-mortar stores later this month or sometime at the beginning of next month. (Thanks for the nudge, Lisa).

Rhombus was also featured in a recent Booklist article about math in fiction. Check out their entire Core Collection of Math in Fiction.

We're also still going strong at The Brown Bookshelf. Again, be sure to check out the blog posts, as we're always adding content.

Okay, that's it for now. Maybe I'll have a chance to post another blog this week.

But then again, don't hold your breath.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Catching up and Rhombus news

I know I've been gone for a while, but with school / the Brown Bookshelf / work / Thanksgiving / life in general, I just haven't had the time to blog.

I've got a few things to announce, but first, some Public Service Announcements:

1) Thanks for all of your support for both The Brown Bookshelf and the 28 Days Later initiative. The last day to suggest a book is this Saturday, so be sure to head over to the site and nominate a book.

2) There's a great discussion going on at Finding Wonderland concerning just what it means to be a "brown" author. There are good points on both sides of the issue there--I highly suggest reading through the comments (up to 30 as of this evening), and perhaps even posting one of your own.

And concerning Rhombus:

It's hard to believe, but in five short weeks, My Life as a Rhombus should be on the shelves (I say should because release dates are notoriously wrong). I've updated the website to list upcoming author appearances, a new blurb from Booklist, and...the first full chapter of the novel!

Take a look, and let me know what you think.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Brown Bookshelf and 28 Days Later

Attention all librarians, book sellers, editors, authors, readers and bloggers: We need your help.

After months of hard work, Co-Chair Paula Chase-Hyman and I are pleased to formally introduce The Brown Bookshelf. We're a group of authors and illustrators brought together to push and promote African-American authors in the Children's Lit community.

Along with the African-American Read-In Chain, the Black Caucus of NCTE, and AACBWI, we're proud to launch our first initiative, 28 Days Later, where we'll be profiling a different author on our website for the first 28 days of Black History Month. We'll have some great giveaways sprinkled throughout the month, and on February 29th, we'll give out our grand prize--a gift basket featuring every book profiled during the month, donated to the library of your choice!

Excited? So are we. But to pull this off, we need your help. We're looking for the best new and unnoticed works by African-American authors. From picture books to novels, books fresh off the presses to treasured classics--whatever books you like, we want to know. We're specifically looking for new books and books that have "flown under the radar," but you can nominate any book, as long as it's a children's or YA book written by an African-American author.

We'll be taking nominations from November 1st to December 1st. Just post a comment at the 28 Days Later page, or email us at You can nominate as many books as you like. And be sure to leave your email address, as each nominator automatically has the chance to win one of our great giveaways.

Also, be sure to check the website often, as we'll have regular updates and blog posts by the members of the Brown Bookshelf, and maybe even a post or two by some special guests.
So what are you waiting for? Nominate an author! And spread the word!
Edit: I neglected to mention that all of our logos are available for download on the site. They were all design by author, illustrator, team member (and my friend) Don Tate.

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