Dec 16, 2011

Tamora Pierce has never let me down

Honestly. Not once, in 28 books, have I been disappointed or thought a plot was mediocre or disliked a character. Not once! I don't think I can say that about any other author (well, maybe my old faves Eleanor Estes and Elizabeth Enright.)

So perhaps you can tell that I've just finished Mastiff, the final book in the Beka Cooper trilogy - WOW! SO gratifying, right up until the very, very end. Of course I was smiling and crying for the last 50 pages. I just never get tired of Tortall and its people.

I've met Tamora Pierce a few times and even got to sit next to her at a publishing dinner once because none of the "big shots" at the dinner had read any of her books. I count that dinner as one of the many blessings that working in this business has given me - to actually meet and talk with someone you admire, to ask questions, to gush, is amazing.

If you're already a fan and you haven't read Mastiff, take the weekend and DO IT. If you're not a fan yet, then pick up a book and get started!

Dec 7, 2011

Making the Web Work for You

Maybe we've mentioned how much we love the folks at the Highlights Foundation? We really do, and we think the Founders Workshops they give in Honesdale, PA are a great place for learning and/or networking.

We'll be sharing insights at a Founders Workshop March 4-8, 2012, called Making the Web Work for You, along with additional faculty Lindsey Leavitt and Katie Davis and special guests Jules Danielson and Paul Crichton. This workshop promises to give you the tools you need to put your name and your stories in front of thousands of eager readers.

Highlights asked us to answer a few questions to give potential attendees an advance look...

Highlights Foundation: Why does an author who has yet published a book need to worry about self-promotion?

Bobbie Combs: Why indeed? I think the answer would depend on what your goals are as an author. If you just want to write a book for yourself and/or your family, that's fine. Then maybe you wouldn't care about promoting yourself or your book. That said, I don't think I've ever met one author who felt this way: "Oh, I'll just write this one book and then go on with my life, try something else." The authors I've met want to publish that first book, and then another, and then an award-winning one, and then a best-selling one . . . that's the way this particular dream usually goes. And if that is your dream—to be a published author, not just of one book but of a body of work—then I think you need to treat yourself and your talent as a small business. You are an entrepreneur, creating a unique idea/product to share with the world. And as with all entrepreneurs, all small businesses, your customers will usually not just stumble across your product/idea/invention as they go through their day. You need to do something to bring it to the attention of the world. Why should they choose your book over your competitor's book? Why should they want to read the story you have to tell? Is there something interesting about you that would resound with them and make them want to read your book? What do they have in common with you that would make them curious about what you have to say?

A lot of successful entrepreneurs and celebrities give interviews that reference all the years of work before they "made it." But during those years of ascension, everything they did was about branding themselves: their "look," their sound, their business strategy, so that when their big break came, they were ready. That's what I think you as an author can do while you continue to write and submit to publishers: lay the groundwork. Attend conferences and get your name out there. Blog, and comment on other blogs, to build name recognition. Build a website (or use your blog as a blog site) and share some of your writing with the world. Learn all you can about contracts, rights, agents—the equivalent of crafting your own business strategy. Do all this, and when your big break comes, everyone will see you for the professional you are.

Highlights Foundation: If you had to choose one social media outlet, which would it be and why?

Laurina Cashin: My quick answer to this question would be to choose the outlet that appeals to you most because that's the one you'll use. All factors being equal, though, I'd choose Twitter because it's versatile, and the character limit makes it quick. With links and re-tweets you get brevity AND substance; with tags you can reach more people and hopefully increase your followers. Also, you can easily turn tweets into Facebook comments, and you can tweet blog posts. See what I mean about versatile?

Dec 2, 2011

We finally watched an episode of the Simpsons

...and we laughed our heads off. It's really not our kind of show, but PW Children's Bookshelf tipped us off to this episode called The Book Job, where they (brilliantly) spoof the teen lit genre.  You can watch it on Hulu here:

Sep 6, 2011

Guardians of Childhood on Sale Today

Guardians of Childhood, a new series by William Joyce, goes on sale today. Here's my review of The Man in the Moon, which first appeared in the August issue of Parents Express (Montgomery News.)

The Man in the Moon, written and illustrated by William Joyce, Atheneum/Simon and Schuster, $17.99, hardcover, ages 4-8.

The September publication of The Man in the Moon marks the beginning of a grand event in bookmaking for it is the first book in the series The Guardians of Childhood. Joyce has spent the past 20 years working on the concept of Guardians, which will present the histories of such childhood icons as Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and the Easter Bunny. The series will consist of 13 books—seven chapter books and six picture books – and an animated film due in Fall 2012. In this book we learn the story of the Man in the Moon (MiM,) a baby loved by his parents and watched over by his friend Nightlight, all who traveled the heavens in a ship named the Moon Clipper, designed to turn into the moon at night. His parents and Nightlight are lost in a battle with Pitch, the King of Nightmares (a character who figures prominently in the series' story arc.) A stirring text and glorious, stunning art tells of MiM’s growing up and his discovery of Earth, its children and their dreams, and MiM’s plan to guard and protect them with help from friends – a toy maker, a regal rabbit, a fairy, a sleepy fellow who knew about dreams, and a lovely storyteller. This is the beginning of something special, a tribute to the caretakers we all know and believe in. For more information visit the website.

Jun 30, 2011

July Reviews

Here's a link to our book reviews for July published in the Parents Express -- Bobbie’s Books of the Month - Parents Express - Montgomery News.

Jun 12, 2011

June Book Reviews

Here are my June reviews for the Philadelphia Parents Express.

May 3, 2011

Rafael López : Guest Blogger on

From Guest Blogger: Rafael López describes his illustrative process, developing art for Monica Brown's Tito Puente Mambo King/ Tito Puente Rey del Mambo due from HarperCollins in 2013. I love the textures in Rafael's paintings and the abundance of rich color. There's magic there too. I like that his art is public -- he's done stamps, murals, posters, as well as books.

Mar 14, 2011

Book Reviews

Here's a link to the book reviews I wrote for the March issue of Parent's Express. March's Books of the Month - Parents Express - Montgomery News


Mar 9, 2011

World Read Aloud Day

Today is World Read Aloud Day, a grand idea. I don't do it often enough. I'll read some poems from Roots and Flowers: Poets and Poems on Family, edited by Liz Rosenburg. I'm re-reading all my picture books, now unpacked after 3 plus years in storage while we were travelling, and I'll choose a few of those to read aloud like Night Garden:Poems from the World of Dreams by Janet S. Wong and illustrated by Julie Paschkis. And I'm writing reviews today, so I'll read the text aloud (First Garden: the White House Garden and How It Grew & Planting the Wild Garden) to help me prepare.

What will you read aloud today?

Feb 7, 2011

Here, There, and Everywhere: The United States Board on Books for Young People cites 40 international books for its 2011 honor list

Here, There, and Everywhere: The United States Board on Books for Young People cites 40 international books for its 2011 honor list

I'm always interested in this list because I know I'll see titles that I've missed and want to read. This year I've seen/know about maybe half the titles. One of my favorite titles of last year is The 10 PM Question.

I couldn't help noticing that several titles are published by Groundwood. And that the majority of titles are from Canadian and British publishers. And there are few titles by the mega mainsteam publishers. If I had more time I'd look into this a bit more.

Feb 6, 2011

Bobbie's Books of the Month

Now that I've discovered how easy it is to share content on this blog, I'll start sharing the book reviews we do for Parents Express in Philadelphia. Bobbie began writing for PE over 20 years ago!

Bobbie's Books of the Month - Parents Express - Montgomery News

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street

I just began reading an ARC for One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin. I like it. Has a bit of the feel of What Happened Fox Street, a 2010 favorite of mine, with younger characters. The story takes place in LA, but of course the title reminds me of Florida, where I had planned/hoped I would be during the month of February. Layers for at least another month.

One Day ...  pubs in April and maybe I'll review it then.

Jan 27, 2011

HarperCollins Signs Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis for 'Wildwood' Series

I like this news.
HarperCollins Signs Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis for 'Wildwood' Series

"The germ of this series goes back a long way," Meloy said. "For me, this is the culmination of a long-term collaboration with Carson, matching words and art. I grew up on a steady diet of Lloyd Alexander, Roald Dahl, and Tolkien; this is our humble paean to that grand tradition of epic adventure stories." Ellis commented, "Wildwood is a project very close to my heart - the collaboration that Colin and I have been dreaming about for years."