105 Ways to Give a Book

ALA Experience: Part II

Yes, my presentation, Children’s and Young Adult Book Blogs: Enhancing Library Services, was at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. Which meant that for my part, I couldn’t guess whether I’d see two people in the audience or two hundred. It turned out to be pretty much in the middle, with about 130 people.

Doing the presentation with Liz Burns and Travis Jonker made it fun. We had a few laughs, and I hope that we all learned a thing or two. For instance, I learned that the Metro doesn’t open until 7:00 a.m. on Sunday. Seriously, Liz and Travis made for a fabulous team, and I think that we did a great job. The slide show is available at SlideShare and the handout will be posted at KidLitosphere Central.

After our session, I raced to the exhibit hall to see if I could catch some of my priority author signings. I was running late after visiting with some of the folks who came to our presentation, but I did get two of my books signed in the ten o’clock hour: All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee, and A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet. I had nice things to say about both books, but I had a special connection to All the World, having been on the Cybils panel that put it through to the short list and rooted for its win.

The next hour was packed, but through some kindness of strangers I managed to get a lot more done than I should have expected. I got in line for Jerry Pinkney to sign The Lion & the Mouse and was assigned number fifty. The signing was taking a bit to get started, so I asked the nice man in line behind me if he would mind if I ran over to a signing one aisle over. He was fine with it, so I scooted over to get Tom Angleberger to sign my ARC copy of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. When I went back to the Pinkney line, it had barely moved. So I asked the man again if he minded if I stepped over to get one more signing. Since he didn’t mind, I waited to meet Barbara O’Connor in person — after years of loving her books — and get two books signed: her new title in ARC form, The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, and How to Steal a Dog. We talked just long enough that I began to worry about my Pinkney line, but I got back in plenty of time and was happy to tell him how much I loved the book.

My next hour was free for lunch, and I just happened to run into three friends of mine from my old library. We grabbed a bite to eat down the block, and I came back in time to pick up Countdown from Deborah Wiles. Then it was off to Charlesbridge to catch Mitali Perkins signing Bamboo People. Mitali was doing a fun thing, taking pictures of all the folks who stopped by with their favorite book of the day. I had dumped off my morning haul already, but had a copy of another ARC I was hoping to get signed during the day. Here I am, obviously, but head to Mitali’s blog to see many other familiar faces.

Another important signing on my agenda was Joyce Sidman and Pamela Zagarenski for Red Sings From Treetops. I had to share that I generally don’t buy poetry books, but that this one was so beautiful I had to have it. I told Joyce that I was so touched by every perfect, necessary word in her poems and told Pamela that I want to live in the world she draws. It was definite gushing, but I hope nicely done.

Okay, let’s blitz through the other signings. I saw Cynthia Lord for the ARC of Touch Blue, but also bought a paperback of Rules. I had Libba Bray sign my copy of Going Bovine, and also picked up a paperback copy of A Great and Terrible Beauty. I was excited to tell Francisco Stork how much I loved Marcelo in the Real World, and was happy to get a copy of Holly Cupala’s Tell Me a Secret.

Amidst the signings, I was looking at the new books, talking to the marketing folks, running into bloggers and authors. I picked up a few ARCs, but very few. Also, my scarf got a lot of compliments. Best book-related accessory in existence. Expect to see a lot of them at your next book event.

I passed on the book cart event to quietly wander the aisles and then to repack my suitcase of books. The Convention Center bathroom served well to make my preparations for the Newbery/Caldecott dinner. My bag was packed, my energy was high, and I was ready for the big night.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

ALA Experience: Part I

Best. Weekend. Ever.

I have been looking forward to the American Library Association conference because going to ALA is always a blast. But not being an actual librarian needing to go to actual meetings, I can rarely justify crossing the country to attend. But — hello? — when it’s in my backyard, then of course I’m going to be there. Still better this year was the collection of authors and illustrators winning awards, because lots of those were kidlitosphere folk. And I was giving my first big presentation. And I was going to the Newbery/Caldecott dinner. A recipe for a perfect weekend.

But let’s start back at the beginning. I missed the Friday evening activities — including the Kid Lit Drink Night — to attend my tween’s dance recital. She had another one on Saturday morning where she was singing as well as dancing, so my Saturday ALA experience started off slowly. I went to the convention center to pick up my badge, and decided I had time for three quick book signings — as opposed to the ten I’d listed on my Saturday plan.

I was in time to get a copy of The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz. I have the ARC and loved the book, but was excited to get the copy with full color illustrations. There I ran into Betsy Bird — on crutches from her earlier ankle injury. I had meant to bring Kate Messner’s book The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. with me, but was pleased to find that I could get an ARC of Sugar and Ice signed by her. It was a pleasure to meet someone that I’ve only seen online.

My highest priority signing of the day was of When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. I had met Rebecca at a NYC Kid Lit Drink Night years ago, and we had such a great conversation. I was more than happy to read and review her debut book, First Light. At another NYC trip, another Kid Lit Drink Night, we talked about her upcoming book — which turned out to be this Newbery Winner. I couldn’t be happier for this honor to go to such a wonderful person, and I wanted to make sure I saw her at her signing because I knew that she would be one busy lady during the conference. And indeed, I never saw her again. I mean, other than on stage accepting her medal. Yeah!

After that very brief time at the convention hall, I went to the lovely home of Tami Lewis Brown, where she was hosting a tea for Children’s Literature Ambassador Katherine Paterson. As soon as I entered the party outside, I found myself in conversation with Mrs. Paterson and M. T. Anderson. I don’t remember what we talked about, but it wasn’t fangirl gushing. I was in a prime placement for people arriving to the party, so I was able to give lots of hugs as my kidlitosphere friends arrived. At some point I circulated away, so as not to dominate the coveted space around both Katherine Paterson and M.T. Anderson. I do try to be good.

I’m not sure how I can even list all the authors and kidlit bloggers that I saw during those couple of hours. The guest list could have been plucked from my Facebook friends — which was the coolest thing ever. One big highlight was meeting Grace Lin for the first time in person. I’ve commented on her blog and reviewed her books for years. I gushed so much love for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon that I should have been collecting kickbacks. To meet her for real was simply wonderful, and the sweetness that rings through in her blogs and books was just as evident in her face.

I was also extremely happy to meet another online friend whose book I adored: Liz Garton Scanlon, author of All the World. She was absolutely charming, and I gushed a bit about the book, but I think in a normal-person way. As opposed to my meeting with Nancy Werlin, where I went all fangirl and even quizzed her on the titles of her own books so that I could remember which one I wanted to rave about — because that’s cool. (It was The Rules of Survival , but the recent book Rules of Attraction kept blocking the title for me.)

Lots of members of my DC Kidlit Book Club were there, including the founder Susan Kusel, Sara Lewis Holmes, Jama Rattigan, Caroline Hickey, Jacqueline Jules, Amy Brecount White (who gave me a ride to the metro, thanks!) and Julia Younkins. I chatted with friends I was seeing again — like Holly Cupala, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, Terry Doherty, Cheryl Klein, Cynthia Cotten, Alvina Ling and Kekla Magoon. I also met for the first time in real life Mary Quattlebaum, Laura Purdie Salas, Kelly Fineman, Carrie Jones, and Rita Williams Garcia. (If I left your name off and we had a long conversation and you’re reading this like, “Hey, what about me?” I have to beg your forgiveness, but this was a few days and hundred people ago, and it was amazing I pulled together this much information.)

While some bloggers headed out to a quiet dinner together, I went home to regroup for the big day on Sunday. A day that would start with my presentation at eight flippin’ o’clock in the morning and would end with the Newbery/Caldecott dinner.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Ash

Last year TeenReader did a book trailer for Ash, by Malinda Lo, as part of a contest. Sadly, she didn’t win the contest, but I’ve always been impressed by what she came up with completely on her own. Well, my voice and my husband’s hand are in there, and occasionally we pointed the camera where she told us to. But she did everything else, and I love that she did an ambitious, storylike version.


Recently, she got a comment asking why she didn’t include the character of Kaisa in the video. The reason was really logistical — she didn’t involve anyone else in her project — but it made me think about whether that was an essential thing to include. After all, Ash’s love for the huntress is what really set this book apart from other Cinderella stories. Made it the book with a twist, as it were.

But in thinking about it, what I liked about Ash — and the twist — was how matter-of-factly her love for another woman was handled in the story. It was a conflict for the character, certainly, but it wasn’t an Issue. Her choice wasn’t mired in wrestling with her sexual identity, but more of a struggle between holding on to the past or moving on, more about either escaping from the real world or diving into it with joy. The love story was true and beautiful and essential to the story. But maybe not in the book trailer, because that would have made it seem more of the point than it really was. In any case, it’s a lovely, haunting book and a good book trailer — in my humble opinion.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Book Blogger Convention 2010

Let me start by saying that while I was glad to attend the Book Blogger Convention, I cannot call it the first Book Blogger Convention, as came up in Publishers Weekly. I mean, I suppose it is the first with that name, and associated with BEA, and that was open to a variety of book bloggers. However, having been at three conferences for book bloggers in children’s and Young Adult literature, having organized one here in D.C., and now getting to announce the fourth one — well, I can’t call this one the first.

KidLitCon 2010What do I mean about announcing the fourth one? Oh, silly me — I guess that I’ll do that now. KidLitCon 2010 will be held on October 23rd in Minneapolis, hosted by Andrew Karre (Carolrhoda), Ben Barnhart (Milkweed Editions) and Brian Farrey (Flux). There will be a Friday reception, workshops on Saturday, and a dinner. They are taking proposals for sessions now, so scoot over to the official blog for more information.

Book Blogger Convention 2010But back to the Book Blogger Convention of May, where Betsy Bird and I struck out across town to represent the kidlitosphere among a range of bloggers of books. Maureen Johnson was the keynote speaker, and was funny and altogether delightful. I approached her later just to say hello and tell her how much I enjoyed her talk. Ron Hogan presented a wonderful session on ethics and blogging, which is available at Beatrice.

He joined Betsy and me and Terry Doherty — also there to represent — at lunch, where the lively discussion of ethics and blogging continued. There were no black-and-white cookies at lunch. I just thought you should know.

The afternoon was for panelist sessions on Writing/Building Content, Marketing, Social Responsibility, and Author/Blogger Relationships. I most enjoyed the session on social responsibility, which got into issues of white-washing covers, lack of representation of minorities in books, book challenges for GLBT content, and more. I was particularly impressed with Zetta Elliott, not that I was surprised given her online presence. There was also a notable component that focused on doing good work in fundraising and literacy advocacy.

As the day was over, we collected swag bags filled with books and fun stuff. I wasn’t able to take all of it home on my flight, but I took a few things. (Back home, BBC organizer Michelle of Galleysmith gave me some extras for prizes and for KidLitCon 2010. People don’t always take their swag.) That evening, Betsy was generous in sharing her apartment, cooking a nice dinner, and introducing me to Modern Family — which is totally my family.

I flew home the next day, but not before I was able to meet my cousin for brunch. He hadn’t been around to host my visit, but it was good to see him before I left. I was low-key about this fact, but I guess I should mention that my cousin is this guy.

All in all, a great — if completely exhausting — trip to New York City. And now here I am, days away from a similar book-filled event, but without the travel. Looking forward to seeing all of you ALA attendees!

Book Expo America 2010

BookExpo AmericaJoin me in a journey back in time — all the way back to May 27th — to visit my BookExpo America Experience. It starts with an flight to NYC leaving at 7:00 a.m. By the time you even read that sentence, you realized what I didn’t consider — that a 7:00 a.m. flight from National Airport was going to require an ungodly early wake-up time. True, but it did get me to BEA for the whole day on Thursday. Very important, as I’d already decided to pass on Wednesday to reduce my time away from home.

Once I got to the Javits Center and collected my pass, I was off to get books. I had come with the idea of meeting authors and getting books signed, rather than collecting ARCs. That said, there were a few I couldn’t resist along the way. Namely Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness; The Fences Between Us: The Diary of Piper Davis (Dear America), by Kirby Larson; Philippa Fisher and the Fairy’s Promise, by Liz Kessler; The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, by Kody Keplinger; Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream, by Jenny Han; and President of the Whole Fifth Grade, by Sherri Winston. There were a some others that I gave out as prizes in the 48 Hour Book Challenge, but these I still have.

I had looked through the online signing schedules exhaustively to plan my day, only to find that they handed me an all-too-useful spreadsheet when I arrived. Argh. I knew that my own listing was way too ambitious, but I knew my priorities and guessed at my time limitations.

My ridiculous flight meant I was early enough to catch even the 10:00 a.m. signings, and three of my top morning choices were Elizabeth Bluemle for How Do You Wokka-Wokka?, Adam Rex for Fat Vampire, and David Wiesner for Flotsam. Mission accomplished. I was dying to see James Howe, but the line was way too long. Then a quick stop to say hi to Mo Willems, get a poster signed, and pick up Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion. Then a dash to get a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection signed by Matt Dembicki — a local illustrator who came to my library a few years ago to do a drawing session for kids. We talked for a while there, and I was happy to see him on the BEA floor with this great new book.

I decided to skip the Jeff Kinney signing because the line was crazy long, and I hoped I could catch him later at the Guys Read session. I did wait for Laurie Halse Anderson because I really wanted Forge, the sequel to Chains. That said, I haven’t read it yet. C’mon, I’ve been really busy. I also had to pass by a few others on my list, but I ended up in the right place, right time to catch Barney Saltzberg to sign All Around the Seasons.

Then it was the quickest food grab ever to make it to the Guys Read session with Jon Scieska, Adam Rex, Mac Barnett, Eric Luper and Jeff Kinney. This was the highest priority of my day, and I enjoyed it throughly — from the banter among the panelists, to the video, to the Groucho glasses on my chair. Having no shame, I marched up to each of the Guys, introduced myself, and had them sign the book Guys Read: Funny Business. (Yeah, I haven’t read it yet either. Don’t judge me!) I got a few pictures, several handshakes, and a copy of The Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity, by Mac Barnett, with illustrations by Adam Rex.

Afterward, I barely caught Gretchen Rubin’s signing of The Happiness Project, but she was very nice about it. And I was so excited to get the book! I spend the next hour kind of wandering. I hit a few signings randomly and caught some good ARCs as publishers were clearing out their stash of holdbacks (see above). I had been sorry to miss Roger Sutton’s signing, but a copy of A Family of Readers was among Candlewick’s last handouts. Sweet.

Three Quarters DeadBetsy Bird and I were going to meet up at an Author’s Tea she was attending, but due to no-shows I was able to get a seat at the table. The table occupied by Richard Peck, that is. Betsy was our table hostess, but we didn’t need much help to keep the conversation going with such an iconic children’s author. I got a copy of his new book, Three Quarters Dead, which looks like a real departure from the Peck books I know. After the tea and cookies, I was able to catch Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazlee to sign a copy of the ARC Clementine: Friend of the Week and was glad to have the chance to gush like a madwoman. I also met Jan Brett for a brief signing of The 3 Little Dassies — but long enough for me to mention how much I loved The Easter Egg, along with the video on Amazon. On the way out of the tea, I was able to get a copy of The Red Pyramid, but unfortunately missed the author himself.

With a bagload of books, I went to the shipping center, and then I was back to the same hall for the Book Blogger Convention reception. By this point, I was exhausted and remember very little as to the specifics of who I met or what I talked about. I can say with some certainty that I chatted with a marketing person, an author I’ve met before, and a very pregnant woman wearing heels. I can also confirm that I grabbed at least four of the little black-and-white cookies before the staff cleared the tray. No sense in them going to waste.

Other than a quick dinner in a noisy bar, a bus ride to the upper West side, and a well-appreciated stay at the home of Betsy Bird, that concludes my BEA day. Next up, Day Two: Book Blogger Convention 2010.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Looking Forward

It’s most definitely wrong to do a post looking forward when this week is all about wrapping up. But maybe it’s because I’m so submerged in wrapping-up activities that I can’t stand to write about it too. The school year is closing out... or dragging out, as seems a more appropriate phrasing. The last day is Thursday, and the teen has her big Geometry final tomorrow and the tween has her last day of literature circle on Wednesday. Wednesday! Nothing like squeezing in the last bits of learning into the overworked, summer-ready brains of these kids. Both girls are exhausted and more than ready for the summer break. Me, too.

I’m wrapping up the Girl Scout troop finances for the year — or would be if I could just get in the last registration checks from parents. I’m ready to send out 48 Hour Book Challenge prizes, if I can just find the packing tape. I’ve finished my mom’s surgical consultation, to find out how much can’t be done now. Closing the book on anything is frustrating today, so let’s talk about the future.

Not far in the future, mind you, but to the next weekend of American Library Association festivities. Ah, I can’t wait. I won’t be there for everything, but I have some great events marked off on my schedule. And the book signings! I can’t wait to bring my copies along and meet some of these fabulous authors and illustrators.

The high point for me will be the presentation I’m doing on Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. on Chidlren’s and Young Adult Book Blogs, with the idea being to share our incredible community with librarians. I’m working with Liz Burns and Travis Jonkers for a presentation that is going to be most excellent. Here’s the description:
Enhance collection development, keep current on trends and titles, and provide better readers’ advisory using the collective, valuable resource of book reviews, industry news, and author interviews of children’s and young adult literature blogs. Learn how to utilize this dynamic, online world of fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, picture books and teen titles, authors and illustrators, writing and reading, publishing insight and programming ideas.
Doesn’t that sound like something you’d want to attend? You betcha! Then I’ll probably hit the variety of book signings, spaced out with publisher booth visits. I have a list of the ones I’m going to try to make, but here are some highlights: (The ** mark denotes books I own; the * shows books that are being given away as ARCs.)
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
It’s difficult for me to even spend so much time on these book signings with the sessions I’ll be missing. I’m interested in the 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. session Notable Books for a Global Society Awards AASL and positively fascinated by the 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. session Not So Extreme Makeovers, which plans to “take a positive spin on those oft-depicted items in the library staff member’s closet — focusing on enhancement rather than change.” Love it. Of course there’s always the Sixth Annual Book Cart Drill Team Championship, as emceed by Jon Scieszka and Mo Willems.

That evening, I’ll be attending the Newbery/Caldecott Awards Banquet in the table-hopping vicinity of seventy KidLitosphere folk — bloggers and authors I’ve known online forever. Like all of the Blue Rose Girls, for example. So awesome.

I’m thinking that I’ll be bunking with someone on Sunday night so that I can make a day of it on Monday as well. There are some book signings to attend, but a lazier schedule which may allow me more time to visit. I would like to go to the ALSC Awards Presentation and Membership Meeting where they present the Batchelder, Carnegie, Geisel, and Sibert Awards. I don’t have a full pass that day, but can someone slip me in?

So who’s going? What are you most looking forward to? And most importantly, where will I find you?

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

I Know, I Know

I was going to come back after BEA and then 48 Hour Book Challenge and then Bloggiesta with all this verve and vigor. And posts. You know, like actual posts. About books and stuff. But what can I say? I’ve been overwhelmed with end-of-the-school-year events, including a variety of things with wrapping up the Girl Scout troops for the year. Throw in a little Drama and the continuing parent health saga, and I’ve had one heck of a month.

So next week. That’s the one to watch. I’ll be posting reviews, talking about BEA (finally, maybe), and preparing for the exciting ALA schedule ahead.

For now, entertain yourself skimming through the pages at Ripple — where artists contribute sketchcards and you contribute money to help the Gulf, and then you get the card to keep. Cool, huh? If you don’t find that special piece of art, but want to make a donation to help the wildlife, then consider selecting one of the pieces submitted by kids. You’ll certainly make someone’s day by choosing their artwork — and maybe inspire a future picture book illustrator! How about the work of this eleven year old?

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: You Were Brave!

I’m so glad that I held the Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge asking you to stretch your comfort zone. So many brave entries! I’m proud of all of you for taking chances and shaking things up. I picked one winner at random, who will receive a couple of books, courtesy of the supplies of Book Blogger Convention, and that winner is... Vicki from Reading at the Beach! Congratulations!

While I’m happy to offer a prize, I’m most excited that I was able to pose a challenge that made all participants winners. I loved reading your comments of the many ways you all pushed yourselves. It was inspirational. Here are some of the things that you’re doing:
  • Starting a new feature/challenge/poll/contest
  • Emailing authors for interviews/guest posts
  • Emailing publishers for review copies
  • Asking bloggers to do guest posts
  • Connecting to local bookstores
  • Agreeing to do guest posts
  • Mixing up a set style
  • Posting reviews on Amazon
  • Writing a negative review
  • Sharing something personal
  • Taking a controversial stand
  • Facing the hard jobs of blogging
  • Promoting, marketing, and reaching out
Wow! Great job, everyone! I love the way that everyone who approached this challenge did so in a way that tackled their own soft spots. For me, my bravery was in what I did not do. After two extremely intense days that wiped out my time, energy, and emotional reserves, I decided not to participate in Bloggiesta on Sunday, as I had planned. Usually, I would worry about neglecting my blog or letting someone down or whether it was appropriate to run a challenge — and then personally bail on the event. And, to be fair, I remained a bit worried about those things. But for me, this weekend, the brave thing was to take care of myself on Sunday — even if it provided a sort of ironic twist to the very challenge I was proposing.

Thanks to everyone who played along. I hope this push to be brave carries over in your blogging for a long time to come. Blog on!

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Be Brave

I hadn’t intended to do a mini-Challenge for Bloggiesta, because I was swamped with Girl Scout stuff this week. It’s the end of the year and we need to wrap up the accounting and bridge over to a new level and reflect on the year and all that jazz. And as I reflected, it came to me in this real moment of clarity that my personal philosophy in running a troop is to stretch our comfort zones within a safe and supportive environment. Because it’s in that space where we grow as people — in testing our limits, trying new things, and taking the opportunity to be brave.

And it hit me that bloggers can sometimes use that push too. It’s so easy to go along, talking nicely about books or people or recipes or kids. And that’s not a bad thing. But are you stretching? Are you growing? Are you taking chances? Are you being brave?

Your mini-challenge is to be brave. Write a post that takes a stand. Allow yourself a negative review, not for snark value but to be honest. Reveal something personal about yourself. Start the online challenge or contest or project you were afraid to put out there. Try something totally new.

You don’t even have to post it yet to enter for prizes in the mini-challenge. I’ll take your word for it that you’ve drafted something; I won’t even hold you to posting it. I just want you to get that feeling of writing something that scares you a little bit. Let me know in the comments when you feel that you’ve met that challenge, and I’ll pick a winner (or winners) at random and send a couple of books as prizes. Plus a spy pen!

Booklights, Bloggiesta, and Branding

I’m still recovering from the 48 Hour Book Challenge, with emails to write, packages to prepare, and books to clean off of my living room floor. I seem to have attacked the challenge with the organization of a teen getting ready for a big date — tossing books like T-shirts all over the room in search of the right one. I did well, in that I hit a run of eight great books. Amazing! But now I have to put everything back in order. Wah.

I do have a post up at PBS Booklights on books about bedtime. They aren’t the newest titles, and maybe not my absolute, all-time favorites, but some strong choices. Head over and add your suggestions to the comments.

This weekend I’ll be spending some time on Bloggiesta — writing up reviews (yes, of all those 48HBC books) and posts and presentations. If you need some time for blog housekeeping, head over to Maw Books to sign up.

Branding has come up again as a blogosphere topic. I saw it first with Maureen Johnson’s post — excuse me, manifesto — and I can just hear her whisper of “I am not a brand.” Important reading. Chasing Ray is taking up the topic, and wondering about the idea of blogger and author branding — like we can all be labeled like breakfast cereals. I’ll say that there are aspects of branding that are easy and helpful. My blog name, commenting name, and Twitter name are all MotherReader. No one has to think too hard about who I am in any of those places. But where I start to push back — or at least would ask us all to step back and think — is when I see that it is to publishers’ advantage that we be nicely, neatly branded. It certainly makes it easier for them to promote authors and to evaluate bloggers. And I’m not saying that it’s an absolute wrong. But is it good for the bloggers?

Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Giving Back

A post so nice, I had to do it twice.

On Monday, I had the long wrap-up of the Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge with challenge winners, prize winners, Twenty Hour club members, and charity contributions. But as I’ve had a few corrections to those charity contributions, and as it was buried at the end of a long post, and as it is a very, very cool thing to highlight, I’m giving that part its own post. And this has nothing to do with the fact that I have to spend most of today wrapping up Girl Scout accounting and functions. Almost nothing.

A prize was given to the person who raised the most money for charity — Jennie of Biblio File, who collected $725.54 for Room to Read! She’ll get a lovely necklace from Hoolala donated in turn by Kristin of Blue Castle. Based on the number of finishers, I’ll be donating $100 to a project at this DC School through Donors Choose.

Many bloggers connected their personal readathons with a cause. As I know it now, here’s a list of Blogging for The Greater Good:
Visit the blogs above for more information about their specific causes. Since I wasn’t always able to determine the amount or exact cause, I am happy to accept corrections or additions to this list.

Thanks to the bloggers who supported a cause — and supported each other in raising money. Also props to all the authors and bloggers who contributed prizes, which gave us something to play for in this community event. One of those prizes, or rather three, are actually special donations of multicultural library collections for schools or other youth-serving organizations — as chosen by the top three winners! Special thanks to Carol Rasco from RIF for making this possible.

Of course, thanks to all of you who participated and made this such a special, amazing, fabulous event! Come back next year!

Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Winners, Prizes, Donations, and Thanks

First, a repeat from the last post with the winners of The Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge are:
Absolutely amazing readers who will have to tell us more about how they stayed awake through all of those reading/blogging hours. And maybe how they kept people — like moms, for instance — from engaging them in hour-long phone conversations. I’ll be in touch with your about the super prize packages!

Now, more prizes! I have books for participants selected with the Random Integer Generator. Participants had to complete twelve hours of reading/blogging/networking to be eligible for prizes. In the order drawn, the winners are:
Prize winners, please write me at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com with your address, and the books you’d most be interested in receiving. If you’d like a personalized copy, please note to whom you’d like it signed; I’ll do my best to accommodate. (Choices include: signed copy of The Cardturner, personalized, signed copy of Seaglass Summer, personalized, signed copy of Operation Yes, personlized, signed copy of The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate; a personalized, signed book selection from Melissa Wiley’s Little House books and — in an ironic turn for MotherReader — author/illustrator signed copy of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.)

For the Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge we had almost a hundred people complete the challenge with fifty-five blogs listing totals of twenty hours or more. Here in order of their finish line sign-in are:

48 Hour Book Challenge Twenty Hours Club
  1. MotherReader 28.5 hours
  2. Over the Moon and Sun 41.5 hours
  3. The Fourth Musketeer 22.5 hours
  4. Lessons from the Tortoise 20 hours
  5. Books Like Breathing 43.5 hours
  6. Blue Castle 48 hours
  7. Reading Chick 22.25 hours
  8. A Patchwork of Books 26.5 hours
  9. The Dimly Seen 23.25 hours
  10. Teens@CPL 24 hours
  11. Book Nut 22.75 hours
  12. A Moment With Mystee 43.5 hours
  13. BookLoss 26.5 hours
  14. Bibliovore 24.5 hours
  15. Madigan Reads 31 hours
  16. The Literary Wife 22 hours
  17. A Room Without Books Is Empty 22 hours
  18. House of Crawford 22 hours
  19. Book Clutter 22 hours
  20. The Lost Entwife 26 hours
  21. Blog from the Windowsill 27.75 hours
  22. What We Read 26.5 hours
  23. Situations Where You May Need It 30 hours
  24. Two Canadian Readers 22 hours
  25. So Many Books... 27 hours
  26. Reading with Tequila 23.75
  27. Abby the Librarian 28.75 hours
  28. Charlotte’s Library 25 hours
  29. (LiyanaLand! 48 hours
  30. Reading and Writing from Red Stick 22 hours
  31. The Book Maven 23.5 hours
  32. Becky’s Book Reviews 25 hours
  33. Ms. Martin Teaches Media 26 hours
  34. My Favoritest 22 hours
  35. Stiletto Storytime 21.25 hours
  36. The Purpled One 48 hours
  37. Nomad Librarian 24 hours
  38. Musings of a Book Addict 24.5 hours
  39. Lost in the Library 23.5 hours
  40. Biblio File 33 hours
  41. Literate Lives 20 hours
  42. Lucy Was Robbed 20 hours
  43. The Infinite Shelf 22 hours
  44. Mama Librarian 30.5 hours
  45. Darkly Reading 21.5 hours
  46. Sonderbooks 26.75 hours
  47. Library Chicken 31 hours
  48. BookMoot 25.5 hours
  49. Trisha at The YA YA YAs 20.5
  50. Bookgazing 21.75
  51. Karen at GHHS Library 28 hours
  52. Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog 21.25 hours
  53. The Neverending Shelf 22.5 hours
  54. I’d So Rather Be Reading 24 hours
  55. One Librarian’s Book Reviews 24.25 hours
Many bloggers also connected their personal readathons with a cause. As I know it now, here’s a list of Blogging for The Greater Good:
Visit the blogs above for more information about their specific causes. Since I wasn’t always able to determine the amount or exact cause, I am happy to accept corrections or additions to this list.

Though I hadn’t announced this, we are able to give a prize to the person who raised the most money for charity — which is Jennie of Biblio File! She’ll get a lovely necklace from Hoolala. Based on the number of finishers who have signed out and those I know to have done the challenge but not yet signed out, I’ll be donating $100 to a project at this DC School through Donors Choose.

Thanks to all the authors and bloggers who contributed prizes. Special thanks go to Carol Rasco from RIF, who will be donating multicultural library collections for schools or other youth-serving organizations — as chosen by the top three winners! Another special thanks to Kristen from Blue Castle, who donated the most beautiful necklaces from Hoolala and coin purses made from fabrics used in the Shakespeare Theatre plays in DC. Thanks to all of the bloggers who mentioned, tweeted about, and otherwise promoted the 48 Hour Book Challenge. We would never have had such a fantastic turnout without your help. Thanks to the bloggers who supported a cause — and supported each other in raising money. Of course, thanks to all of you who participated and made this such a special, amazing, fabulous event! I couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t do it without you all!

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Winners!

48 Hour Book ChallengeEven though the contest is called the 48 Hour Book Challenge, it is hard for me to conceive of people reading for the entire time. It pretty much blows my mind! This year three people read and blogged for the entire forty-eight hours! No breaks that didn’t come with an audiobook soundtrack and no sleep. Crazyness.

The winners of The Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge are:
Absolutely amazing readers who will have to tell us more about how they stayed awake through all of those reading/blogging hours. And maybe how they kept people — like moms for instance — from engaging them in hour-long phone conversations.

Later today, I’ll have a second post with all the members of the Twenty Hours Club, the donations collected, and random prizes for players. Congratulations to this year’s remarkable winners!

Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Finish Line

48 Hour Book ChallengeYou made it! On this Finish Line post, leave the direct link to your final summary page, which should include: the amount of time spent on the challenge, books read, amount collected for charity, and which charity it will benefit.

I decided to donate one dollar to my designated Donors Choose school for everyone who finishes the challenge, which means to me that you signed in as a participant, read/blogged some books, and signed in at the Finish Line. So perhaps that little extra incentive can get folks to record their time and complete the 48HBC all official-like. Given different starting times over the weekend and time zones, the end is set at Monday, June 7th, at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. All final summary posts should be up by then. That said, sometimes there are folks who need some nudging, so I won’t announce any winners until after noon on Monday, June 7th.

I decided not to have a separate kid sign-in, but if you have a child who put in challenge hours this weekend, let me know in the comments because I will have some prizes to send out.

Thanks again to everyone who participated and supported and promoted the 48 Hour Book Challenge! Read on!

MotherReader 48HBC Update V

So I read eight books and spent twenty-eight and a half hours on the challenge. Certainly good, but not as much as I’d hoped for given how wide open my weekend was. In some ways the freedom was part of the problem, because it didn’t give me real mental breaks from reading or allow me to process the books. Which, in turn, led to my sad lack of reviews.

I tend to write my posts after going through them in my head while I’m doing other things, rather than sitting myself down in front of the computer and drafting the full version. But for the 48HBC, I can’t really count time showering and thinking about the book as real blogging time. It doesn’t seem right. Yet that is as much my process as it is for other people to take notes and craft them into a review.

I wanted to write about the books I read, because they were all great! Seriously, a wonderful run of books. But I think I’ll have to do the reviews throughout the week, as I’ll have time and mental space to give each the attention it deserves.

Before I began, I had a completely different stack of books I’d planned to tackle, mostly Young Adult titles. But as I read the first book about an eleven year old, it occurred to me that I didn’t want to enter the angst and turmoil and often-darkness of YA. Not now. Not for this weekend. As I realized that I had three books that were about eleven year olds, I decided to make that fifth/sixth-grade age my theme. I switched out the stack I had so carefully selected for a set of completely different books. It worked for me, in that I enjoyed the reading level and ended up loving all of the books. A pretty wonderful experience to have had so many awesome books in a row. Since I can’t leave you without any reaction, here are my overall thoughts on each:

Seaglass Summer, by Anjali Banerjee (2010)
Loved the strong characters, the soothing picture of the island life, and the sensitive handling of death — and life. Beautifully done.

The Dancing Pancake, by Eileen Spinelli (2010)
Another book with a sensitive handling of a difficult topic — separation — and realistic, accessible characters. My personal favorite is the cousin, for the funny and dead-on dialogue of a lively four-year-old boy. Delightful.

Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm (2010)
Again, loved the characters. Loved the setting. Loved the humor and the conflict. Loved the few pages of history at the back that provided context. Wonderful.

Smells Like Dog, by Suzanne Selfors (2010)
This was a different book than I’d expected, but I was quickly captured by the humor and adventure. I enjoyed the ride.

How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog), by Art Corriveau (2010)
Well written boy-and-his-dog story, with a little mystery, a little pre-teen angst, and a lot of nicely placed humor. Almost makes me want a dog.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume (1970)
I choose this because of my eleven-twelve year old theme, wondering if this older book still held the wonders of this age. Yup. Lives up to my memory of it.

Also Known as Harper, by Ann Haywood Leal (2009)
Sadder than I was expecting somehow, but not without hope contained within the story and the characters themselves. Glad I found it again.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger (2010)
Funny and so real in its portrayal of the dynamics of middle school. Just excellent. And hello? A shoutout to the Kidlitosphere in the acknowledgements! How cool!

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

MotherReader 48HBC Update IV

Last bit of time on the clock, it’s the overnight shift, and I’m out of Diet Coke. We’ll see how this goes.

8:00 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.Read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. Guys, why didn’t anyone tell me that the Kidlitosphere is thanked in the acknowledgements? Awesome!
9:15 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.Brief tweeting, then blog post updating.
9:30 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.Heading to the school early to pick up teen because the parking there sucks. Decide I’m going to bring my notebook — actual spiral notebook — to see if I can draft some posts while I wait, because I’ve written nothing so far. Nothing!
9:45 p.m. – 10:15 p.m.Yeah, that didn’t work. But I did bring a back-up book to read in the car.
10:15 p.m. – 10:45 p.m.Heard about the dance on the drive home, and sat through the retelling at home. She had fun, though the boys didn’t dance with the girls. Typical.
10:45 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.Post updating.
11:00 p.m. – 12:00 mid.Social Media time.
12:00 mid. – 1:00 a.m.Writing reviews. Kind of. Not going well.
1:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.Dozing on the couch.
2:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.Writing final summary.
3:00 a.m. – 4:15 a.m.Last Social Media time, checking in on the last thirty blogs.
4:15 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.Sleeping away the last hours of my time, I’m guessing quite happily.

Six and a half hours of the twelve-hour period.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

MotherReader 48HBC Update III

I’m going to continue to post these at the end of the twelve-hour periods, but write them as I go. Because why not? Also, I was actually up at 7:30 a.m. without even trying, but I spent that time checking emails and blogs.

8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.Read How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog)
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.Break for breakfast and shower.
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.Blog post tweaking.
11:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.Help teen with early primping for tonight’s dance while listening to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.Involved in general logistics of getting my teen out the door to study session before the dance.
2:00 p.m. – 3:15 a.m.Read Also Known as Harper.
3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.Can’t bellieve I’m taking time out to negotiate with our meat guy. Yes, we have a meat guy.
3:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.Brief tweeting, then back to Also Known as Harper.
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.Social Media time. Made it through comments on the first fifty blogs.
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.Take teen and some friends to the dance. So exciting to see the girls all dressed up. Then a dinner break.

Nine hours of this twelve-hour period.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Special Bonus 48HBC Prizes!

48 Hour Book Challenge“FatherReader” here, with a special announcement. MotherReader’s still reading furiously (after yet another unscheduled interruption, which I suspect she’ll tell you all about later), so I thought I’d help alleviate some of her frustration (don’t worry — the kids are adjusting quite well to their cages) by posting a quick note about a couple of special bonus prizes for this year’s competition.

First of all, since we didn’t have time to solicit sponsors for MR’s Greater Good charity (what with all of the family drama going on of late), she’s decided to donate a dollar to her designated Donors Choose school for everyone who finishes the 48 Hour Book Challenge! So if you need some encouragement to do some reading and write up a final post, know that your work will be helping get schoolchildren the books they need!

RIFAnd second — speaking of helping get quality books into the hands of children — RIF will be donating not one, not two, but three multicultural library collections for schools or other youth-serving organizations — as chosen by the top three (domestic*) winners! We’re talking about approximately 50 hardback books (the list of titles can be seen in this PDF document)! (Special thanks to Carol Rasco for making the offer!)

And all of these are in addition to the excellent assortment of prizes for the winners and a bevy of signed books to be given to participants as “door prizes.” Books like The Cardturner, Seaglass Summer, Operation Yes, The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate, and — in an ironic turn for MotherReader — The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

So stay strong, and keep reading!

* The schools or organizations must be within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii).
Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.