WFMAD Day 22 – indie love & flap copy


Thank you to everyone who chimed into yesterday’s discussion about the most effective ways to deal with censorship. I really appreciate the obvious time and thought that went into your comments.

I’ll post more on this tomorrow, including a link to a lesson plan from a teacher who has put together a unit on censorship for grades 3 – 5. If you have classroom ideas or if you talked about these ideas on your blog, leave me a note in the comments section. I’ll try to include links to everything you tell me about this.

Now on a different topic….

Our president and his daughters supported an independent bookstore this week. Yay for them!! I did, too, and started my Christmas shopping. The independents in my area seem to be doing great, I am very happy to report

When was the last time you shopped in your local independent bookstore? Do you know where it is?

Ready…. “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  Toni Morrison

Set…. if it’s not raining where you live, go for a walk before you write. If it is raining, go for a walk anyway. I dare you to do this without an umbrella. I dare you to let the rain fall on your head.

Today’s prompt: Create the flap copy for your book. Doesn’t matter if you are writing fiction, non-fiction, or memoir. Write the two or three sentences that convey the essence of your story in a way that will convince someone to read the entire book.

This can be incredibly hard. In fact, I can’t do it in the earliest draft of my book. This is usually because I haven’t yet fully figured the internal journey of my main character. Take a half dozen of your favorite books off the shelf and read the flap copy to learn how the book was distilled into a few lines. Does that flap copy do a good job of it? Would you have written it differently?

(If you are totally stuck and can’t figure out how to write the flap copy for your story, rewrite the copy for a book that you love.)

Then go back and try to do it for your own work.

If you are still stuck, ask yourself this: What does your character want? What is the most basic driving desire that compels your character through your story? What stands in the way of that desire?

Scribble… Scribble…. Scribble!!!

Snow does not the true gardener defeat & Orlando, FL – wth?

Yes, we’ve had snow every day for weeks and weeks. Yes, there are still several feet of it on the ground. But the farmers down the road have shoveled out their sugar shack which means it’s almost time to make maple syrup because the sap is rising. And the last frost date (third week of May up here) is only 11 weeks away!! That means…..

::looks out window at snow-covered tundra::
::raises notion of shoveling off the garden plots to allow the soil to thaw faster::
::Beloved Husband puts head in hands::

Right. That means winter is not going anywhere soon, but it is time to start planning the garden. Last year’s garden did OKish, but because of booktours and the deaths of my mom and father-in-law, it was not as well-cared for as I’d hoped.

This year will be different! (Yes, that is the cry of gardeners everywhere this month.)

The focus this year will be on growing and harvesting foods that we can easily preserve to eat in the winter. Part of our "living gently on the earth" philosophy is to become as self-sustaining as possible. That means not depending on potatoes grown in Idaho and shipped across the country when we can easily grow them ourselves. I hope to harvest loads of potatoes, onions, dried beans (for soup and chili), parsnips, carrots and squash that will all keep well. I’m also growing the things that make summer so awesome: tomatoes, lettuce, basil, beans, peas, etc.

I have ordered from three different companies this year: High Mowing, Seed Savers, and Seeds of Change.

Another project this spring (well, when the snow melts, and God knows when that will be) is to propagate my mint, lemon balm, and geranium plants, as well as divide my hostas and daffodils. (Yes, I am lookin at you, Renee Warren, when I say that – I will need your hosta advice!!)

I can blather on at length about gardening, but it causes most of my family to roll their eyes and I don’t want to bore you. How interested are you in hearing about my garden?


The coolest all-around book awards- The Indies Choice – have been nominated. Why are these so cool? They can only be voted on by independent booksellers. I am rather proud to draw your attention to the "Most Engaging Author" category as well as the "Young Adult Fiction" category.


A pre-published YA author named Sarah got herself into a kerfuffle with the main branch of the Orlando Public Library recently. The teen section of the library, called Club Central, is roped off and restricted to patrons aged 13 – 18. Sarah blogged about being challenged and asked to leave the section and then she posted the library’s response to her complaint. What do you think about this??

Mrs. Avery is Haunting Me & Awesome Idea at End of Post

Let’s start with the ridiculous today, shall we? For the last three days I have been suffering from a virulent earworm. (I get a lot of these, but rarely do they linger so long.)

The song?

Sylvia’s Mother by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. Please suffer with me:

And who wrote that song? Shel Silverstein. (Isn’t it time for long hair on guys to make a serious come-back?)

I’ve been thinking a lot about Haiti and what I can do to help. The first thought, of course, is to sell everything I own and buy a boat to sail down there so I can just do something, anything, like dig in concrete or pour water or adopt a thousand kids. None of that is realistic, sadly. I am, instead, thinking along the lines of auctioning off a character in my next book and sending the proceeds to a Haiti relief organization. More on that as it develops.

I am very proud to say that The NOLA Tree, an organization that coordinates teens who want to make the world a better place with projects that need their help, is stepping up to the plate. Up until now the focus has been helping to rebuild houses in New Orleans. Phil Bildner just blogged about the possibilities that The NOLA Tree can be of use in Haiti. Please read his post, send suggestions, and donate. (Truth in advertising: I am on The NOLA Tree’s board of advisors – totally volunteer. So is Ellen Hopkins.)

Bookavore, my daughter who runs a bookstore in Brooklyn, gave a presentation last week aimed at booksellers, but applicable to all of us. Her argument was that if we all spend ten percent of our time doing something that we care about that is fun, it more than enhances and enriches the remaining ninety percent. She uses her experience running a basketball league for book nerds as the model.

If you’re having trouble watching Bookavore’s video, you can read what she said on her blog.

I did a couple a super Skype** visits last week, one with a middle school class in Mississippi, and one with a public library in Colorado. I was asked a terrific question:

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

I’m not sure I would be a good collaberator with another writer. I am something of a control freak (my dog and husband are rolling on the ground laughing – they claim it is a bit more extreme than that) and so I would probably turn into Ms. Bossy Pants and my co-collaborator would flee the country to escape me. That would defeat the purpose.

I think it would be fun to work with someone in a different artistic field; a musician (looking at you, Tori Amos, please, please, please), the way that Shooter Jennings and Stephen King just worked together. If Tori is too busy, I’d jump at the chance to work with Dave Matthews, Jill Scott, Gretchen Wilson, or Sting. (Sade would be cool, too, but I know she’s real busy because SHE HAS A NEW ALBUM COMING OUT!!!) If you know any of them, feel free to let them know.

I answered another question that was posted on a friend’s blog this week (paraphrasing):

I blog, I read blogs, I have a FaceBook and a Twitter feed, and I read those of many other authors. But the online stuff is beginning to take over my writing time. How much is enough?

I started off my answer to her by waving a magic wand.

I hereby give you (all of you!) permission to turn off the Internet. Reading blogs will not turn you into a published author. Writing blogs won’t either. Writing books will. You have precious little time after your other responsibilities and if the goal is to write a book, well, then… write it.

I have an idea!!!

We had NaNoWriMo in November. December and January have been filled with revisions for many of us, and by many of us, I mean ME. And many of us want to finish up the current project so we can get hopping on the next one. So………..

Let’s make February a blog-free month.

(I heard that gasp. Breathe slowly. Into a paper bag. With your head between your knees.)

Do not panic. February is short! We could call it the new BFF: Blog-Free February.

If you do this, you’ll be at the cutting edge of the next digital trend: the Slow Media Movement. Give everyone a heads-up that you’re stepping away from blogging for a couple of weeks. If you are truly bold (or desperate) make February an Internet-free month, not just blog-free. On March 1st, write a blog (or a letter) evaluating any differences in your productivity during February.

What do you think? Pros? Cons? Shall we turn this into a Thing or let the matter drop because we need our blog reading and writing like we need oxygen?

**If you want to set up a Skype visit with me, email queenlouiseATwriterladyDOTcom.

Bookstore Events and Book Awards, Oh My!!!

Since Laurie is running around like a Mad Woman, and being true to her inner Mad Woman in the Forest, I thought I would share, once again, her bookstore schedule for this weekend! Yes, it is time for her to travel to Philly for NCTE (no, she is NOT packed yet!). Besides the wonderful conference, she is scheduled to appear tomorrow (Friday) night at a Public Event at Doylestown Bookshop from 7PM until 9PM!! Can you be there? If you are in the area, please stop in and say hello! She would LOVE to see all her friends!

On Saturday, Laurie will be doing conference book signings and an Author Blog Panel: Please see her post here.

On Sunday, Laurie will be at an author breakfast with Sarah Dessen held at Chester County Book & Music Company beginning at 9AM until 12PM. If you plan on attending, please RSVP to their Children’s Department. Come on, admit it, you always wanted to know what Laurie has for breakfast, check it out!!!

Also on Sunday, Laurie will be one author out of NINE at a super event at Children’s Book World from 1PM until 3PM. The event is called “A Novel Idea”, a Teen Event/Benefit for Philadelphia Free Library’s Summer Reading Program. Philadelphia Free Library is faced with the possibility of NOT having it’s book budget restored next year, so Children’s Book World has teamed up with them to raise money for books! Go here, and scroll down to read more on the event. Seeing your favorite author and helping a local library, two great reasons to stop in to Children’s Book World.

We received some awesome book award news in the Forest recently: WINTERGIRLS and CHAINS were both named to the 2010 Tayshas High School Reading List in Texas!! We send a TEXAS sized Thank You to the Tayshas Committee and the teachers and librarians of Texas!! ::Whoop, Whoop::

Believe me, Laurie would absolutely L O V E to see You at her events. Just tell her the Queen sent you! Ta Ta….

Warming Up

I am going to try and write the Mother-Of-All-ALA reports tomorrow. Yes, with pictures. I have a particularly fine one of Neil Gaiman taken from approximately 400 miles away.

First up: thank you for all the kind wishes about the death of my father-in-law. BH and I appreciate each and every one. With the deaths of his father and my mother coming so close together, we’re both a little off-kilter right now, kind of like the earth has become sea and the deck of our ship tilts in unpredictable ways. But between the two of us, and with the love of our kids and friends, we lean on each other and stay upright most of the time.

The Horn Book has many great articles online this month. I strongly encourage you to read and discuss Nikki Grimes important essay, "Speaking Out" about the inexcusable fact that no African-American illustrator has yet won the Caldecott. (Leo Dillon won as a team with his wife… Grimes focuses on singular winners.)

(For the record, I agree with her.)

Love books? Love basketball? Then read this article about the literary basketball league my daughter Stef started across from Word, the bookstore she manages in Brooklyn. She has also started a literary matchmaking service. Yep, you better believe I’m proud. Yay Bookavore!!!

And from the Change Topics Completely File, I wanted to share the cover art for the British paperback version of CHAINS:

What do you think?