Saturday, May 29, 2010

And the winners are...

I had so much fun this week. Thanks to everyone who joined in the contest and who promised to howl at the full moon (you kept your promise, right?).  I'm glad the moon finally came out that night here in NJ.  It was touch and go for a while. The photo above is the moon over NYC taken by my amazing editor, Nancy Mercado.  She arroooed too!

 If you haven't seen this post from the fabulous Mike Jung, here he is, howling at the moon.  (I'm so touched that he thought to make this video. It's wonderful. Please go take a look). I only know Mike virtually but he is a fun, friendly guy.  Follow him on twitter. Friend him on Facebook. He'll make you laugh. (I'm telling you this because I believe it, but also because I'm going to have to give Mike some bad news soon...some very bad news).

So here's how we chose. I indulged my occasional Luddite tendencies and did this in a very low tech way. I printed out the blog post comments, cut and folded each comment till it was the same size, put them all into a box, shook the box (a lot), and then let my librarian friends pick the winners.

The librarians picked two names, one for each of the big prizes (one name was quite a surprise and we had a conversation about that too... but more about that later). 
After they were done, the librarians wanted to pick some more:
Librarian 1: What kind of a celebration is it if only two people win?
Librarian 2: Do you have anything else you can give away?
Me: Um, I suppose I have an extra hard cover book & a CD audio & an MP3 CD version.
Librarian 2: And didn't you get some soft cover books from when your book was part of the Scholastic Book Club?  
Librarian 1: And wouldn't it be fun to throw in a Slinky?

Who am I to argue with a group of librarians? (btw, what do you call a group of librarians? A shelf? A catalog? Is there a name for a bunch of librarians? okay.. I digress..)

Here are the winners:

SCBWI One Year's Membership:  Serenissima

Hard Cover Book:  Stephanie J Blake
CD Audio version:  salarsen
MP3 CD:   Thea Miller Ryan
Scholastic Paperback Version:  Suzanne
Scholastic Paperback Version:  Dana
Scholastic Paperback Version:  kcharman
Scholastic Paperback Version:  Deb
Scholastic Paperback Version:  Rosa
Slinky: Llehn

Did you notice I didn't mention the Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me Gift Package yet?
The winner is: 
( Mike, take a deep breath here. To fill everyone in, it seems that Susanjsteward and Mike Jung have a friendly competition going on. It is friendly, right? There was a little tough talk on the blog and on twitter. And frankly with all the entries, I'm surprised at this too. Mike, if you look at this in the right context, it's kind of humorous. Of all the people who could have won, it went to your arch rival. That's kind of funny. Right?)

I can't change what the librarians picked (and I wouldn't want to because of course I'm happy for Susan -- as I am for all of the winners). 
 I did mention the rivalry to the librarians. And with all due respect to Susan, when a person risks getting mugged to create a moon howling video, you have to feel a little bad that his major competitor won. They thought I should send a hard cover book to Mike Jung for his extreme support in the birthday bash contest. After all, it's the first video for Neil Armstrong is My Uncle... Are you seeing a pattern here? Librarians like to give away free things. But who am I to argue with the librarians?

To all the winners, congratulations. Please send me your contact info. My email is on the right.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Party's Over: and How I Learned to Howl at the Moon.

I never howled at the moon before. Not really.  
Oh sure, to celebrate my book's release, I tried my best to channel my main character (or her best friend) and I went outside and I arroooed.  It was hardly what you'd expect. At their best, they were the quiet, respectable, "arrooos" of a person who is way too worried about what the neighbors would think.
I was there the day my librarian friends did a podcast.  While they were able to celebrate my book by howling in a spirited, carefree way, I sat there, watching. When they arroooed, I mouthed the word.  I can't help it. There are still too many times when I'm shy and quiet.
But last night, I had the contest.  And so many people promised to howl at the moon. My editor tweeted about it.  Blueboarder, Vijaya Bodach, blogged about it. Heck, Mike Jung promised to take a video,
There was a rainstorm. They're not fun events here. My dog, Chi, barks at every single flash of lightning.  There's nothing more stressful than watching your German Shepherd-sized dog freak out at a storm.  But it ended, and even though I couldn't see the moon, I went outside..and I arroooed.  A tiny whimpy arrooo.
At least I could say I did it.
I went inside, wondering why that was the best I could muster. It's not even like I have neighbors around. I live on a street filled with summer cottages. While this weekend, the summer people will come out in droves, last night the only people around was my eighty-year-old neighbor (and she would be totally cool about this).
I waited.
I checked twitter.
I tried to read.
I went outside one last time.
The sky was brighter, especially this one spot. I couldn't see anything because of the house next door. So I ran upstairs and looked out the window.
The moon was framed with clouds.
After the storm, it was wonderful to see. Perfect. Peaceful. Reassuring. I love the moon.
I howled. 
It was loud.
And the next time, it was louder.
They sounded so real my dog ran up the stairs and stood by my side.
So for the first time in my life, I arroooed.
Thanks to everyone who joined me.

My librarian friends will be randomly picking the contest winners today.  I'll post the results tonight.

Having some problems with the computer tonight. Will post in the morning. Sorry for the delay.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Neil Armstrong is My Uncle..Birthday Bash and Giveaway!

My book is a year old this month! Time to party! The first year after a debut book launch is something to celebrate. It’s time for a giveaway:

Giveaway #1: Neil Armstrong is My Uncle... is a Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators 2010 Golden Kite Honor Recipient. As part of that honor, I received a year’s membership to the association. But wait! I already am a member and expected to pay my way. (Frankly, it’s the best money I’ve ever spent). So I’m offering a one year’s membership to the SCBWI to another writer.

The first year I joined, some friends gave me a year's membership as a present. I can’t imagine a better gift. I’m certain I would have never been published if I hadn’t joined the SCBWI. It’s time to pay it forward and pass this on.

Giveaway #2: For those of you who are readers, kickball players, space enthusiasts, chocolate lovers, devotees of the 1960s or fans of Massapequa, there’s a Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle... gift basket --complete with a signed book, a slinky, tootsie rolls, a mini-kickball, a faux-Olympic medal, assorted book-related goodies, and some chocolates from Massapequa’s own Krisch’s Candy Store. Here’s my blog post on the walking tour in Massapequa if you want to see a picture of the amazing chocolates inside this store.

To enter this contest, you don’t have to post to Goodreads, blog, Tweet or anything (although.. you know.. no one’s stopping you from spreading the word). All you have to do is promise to howl at the next full moon (it’s something that happens in the story).
If you’re not sure how to do it, here’s a clip of my librarian friends saying “Arrooo!”
The next full moon is next Thursday, May 27, 2010. Winners will be chosen randomly on May 28th. Place a comment below. Make sure it’s not anonymous, of course. Let me know that you’re going to “arrooo” at that moon and you’re in the raffle. If you’re shy like me, you can ‘arrooo’ quietly. If you’re a writer (or thinking about writing) and want to also be included in the SCBWI one year membership giveaway, also include “SCBWI” in your comment.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What I Learned at the NJ Young Author’s Conference.

The New Jersey Young Authors Conference is a chance for elementary school students (aka the “young authors”) to talk with us, um, older authors.  This year, I was thrilled that I was invited to participate.

Since my presentation was for young writers, I came up with ten rules for writing and had the first letter of each rule spell out the expression “work it out”.  A friend reminded me that I had come up with an “acrostic” device.  Cool. Right?  I was all set to try it out.

The room was crowded -- packed with fourth graders and their parents. But I was ready. I had my props ( slinkies, a kickball, a July 20, 1969 newspaper) and of course, I had my trusty PowerPoint presentation. 

Sometimes when I get nervous, I forget words (admittedly, not a good trait for either a writer or a speaker).  The moment my school librarian host introduces me, the word “acrostic” slips away.

I wonder what will happen when I get to the “Work it Out” part of my presentation, and I try to recall as many multi-syllabic “a” words as I can.

Agnostic. Anagrammatic. Achromatic.

The intro is over. It's my turn. I begin talking about my book. But I’m thinking…

Acoustic.  Acetic.

I’m talking about the importance of stories now.

Anastatic. Anachronistic. Acrobatic.

It’s time to move into the “Rules for Writing”. When “Work It Out” comes up on the PowerPoint, my librarian host writes it lengthwise on easel paper (for the student to fill in the rules).

I am out of “a” words.  There’s nothing left in my brain. So I decide to ask the audience.

“Does anyone know the word for when the first letters in each line form a word or message?”

I look at the parents for help.  Some shrug. A few look away.  I look at the fourth graders. About a dozen hands shoot up.  “Acrostic” they say in unison.

“That’s it!” I say, and I feel saved.  I’m able to move on with the rest of my talk. 

That day, I learned what I already knew. That fourth graders are smart, interested in writing and know some pretty fancy words.