Thursday, June 28, 2012

ALA Wrap-Up

Last weekend was the American Library Association Annual Conference.  It was in Anaheim, which is only about an hour away from where I live, so of course, I went.

There is so much to say about it, but I will limit myself to 10:

See the lovely cookie! I shall keep it forever and never eat it!
1.  Macmillan is a lovely company to publish with.  Many librarians told me how fortunate I was to publish with FSG Macmillan--and how well they treat librarians.  And librarians would KNOW if they were being treated well or not, what with being librarians and all. Smart cookies.

2.  It never gets old seeing your book displayed. THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET is my 10th book, (first book pubbed by Houghton Mifflin in 1995--that's 17 years, folks) but the butterflies I get when I realize it will soon be in the hands of children are the same butterflies I felt back then.  Except I think they grew fatter.

3. Nice publishing companies (like FSG Macmillan) don't mind if you make bookmarks and stick them by your book (see above!)

4.  Meeting people face-to-face that I've only corresponded with was not as nerve-wracking as  I feared.  And I actually got to meet one of my editors in person for the first time.  True story:  I have worked with 5 editors over the years, but Wes Adams at FSG is the first one I got to hug in person.  (All of them deserved hugs, believe me!) And Wes is great.  (FYI he was the editor for Jack Gantos' Newberry Winner DEAD END IN NORVELT.)  And yes, I spoke with Jack as well. For about a minute. An awesome minute.

5.  It takes a village to publish a book.  Seriously. So many people are behind your book.  And I want to give a shout out to Emily Waters and the Macmillan team for making me feel a little less awkward as I snapped my Trinket pix and wandered about semi-aimlessly, trying to catch glimpses of Trinket out of the corner of my eye to see how she was doing. Without hovering, of course.

6.  I bought a new dress (back in April) to wear the the Macmillan Dessert Party.  (Dessert Party consists of authors and librarians, eating desserts and talking books.  Cool, no?) It was yellow and I loved it.  Folks, sometimes you just need to buy the new dress.  It will make you feel great.  Forgot to snap a picture:(

Trinket by candlelight at the dessert party.
7. Everything looks cooler by candlelight.  Even your daughter, when she sneaks in (in her sneakers, no less!) and tells you that your ride home is here!  I have to tell you, it was weird looking to the side and seeing Noel standing there, chatting it up with librarians.  Double-take.

8.  Helen Foster James is awesome.  She came to my table at the dessert party and was the first one to talk with me about my book...and she made me feel at ease right away.  Soon other folks came by and it felt like a party--which it was.

9.  Shock of the Day- Editors from different houses came up to me and introduced themselves, having known my name from the GOOD KNIGHT books.  Seriously.  And all wanted to know when there would be another adventure of the Good Knight.  Hmmm.....

10.  It was not all sunshine and roses, though, just so you know.  It was crowded on the exhibit floor and sometimes awkward if you are an introvert like me. (I know--how can a Queen be a hermit?  I am a conundrum.  I embrace it.)  I saw people that I "knew" from being on-line and stuff, but often is was just a glance across a very crowded room.  I imagined Great Meet-Ups, you know?  But there was little time and less space, and always looks different on-line, like those picture-worthy moments that people post on blogs after events like these, lots of smiles and hugs and probably amazing conversations. Sample of my conversations:

Me:  I think I know you.  I read your blog. You wrote _________. (I know, great opening line.  Not.)

(Insert awkwardness.)

11.  I know I said I'd only do 10, but the 11th thing is that I lost my sunglasses somewhere.  boo.  I loved them so.  But if I had to choose sunglasses or Friday Night, I'd choose Friday Night.

Oh, and librarians?  Rock on!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seven Tales of Trinket Inspirations--Selkies

Okay.  I'll just say it.  I think seals are in the top ten of the coolest animals.  I have always been drawn to them.

Just look at those eyes....

I could watch them swim for hours and hours.

When I was researching folklore, I came across legends about selkies.  Naturally, I was entranced.  Seals that could shed their sealskin and turn into as is awesome is that?  Add the fact that my grandmother's maiden name is Connelly ( a name long associated with the seal folk in the old tales) and I knew that I had to write about them some day.  

But I was not the only one in my family who fell under the spell of the seals.  

When my daughter Cali was in first grade, her class went on a field trip to Sea World.  (One of Cali's middle names is Connelly, fyi.) Guess who got separated from her group and almost left at Sea World?  And guess where the incident occurred?

Yes.  She got left behind at the Seal Pool.

"But mommy, they were so pretty, I couldn't stop looking at them."

The seals almost claimed little Cali Connelly Thomas that day...and honestly, I kind of think they were trying.

Mysterious and magical.  That's what seals are.

And the selkies that Trinket meets---oooh, you'll have to wait to see if she can tame them to get what she wants...what she needs.  

I can't wait for you to read it!

Look, Trinket is excited, too.  She's giving you her "excited stare."
September 4th is coming soon!!

(And if you want to request an ARC before then, you can check out my website.  There's an email addy for the folks at Macmillan.  They might be able to  hook you up.)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Backbone of a Book

I spent a very "writerly" day today.

I went early to a writing group, then out to Santee for a school visit, then home to write a few pages on a new book.

Very writerly, indeed.

And, like a writer, there was something that one of my critique group members said that I could not get out of my brain.  We were talking about outlining (which I do NOT do, in most cases).  She had just attended a marvelous UCSD extension writing course during which she worked on her memoir.  She came out with a Plan for her book, plan with a capital "P."

"Now I feel like I know the story's spine.  I can feel its backbone," she said.

And I knew exactly how she felt, even though I have never created a plot map or a beat sheet.  I understand what it is to know the spine of a tale before you ever start a word. Now for me, sometimes I relate the spine to a different object--for Trinket, I visualized a necklace with seven charms--lovely each on their own, but when connected together, they create something really beautiful.  In Feathers, Songs and Curses (which I finished not too long ago), I could see two different trees, growing together into one. The two tales had to intertwine to create the spine.  For these books, once I could see this "backbone", I could begin.

A backbone is different from a blue print, I think.  A spine is central to the story, and holds the rest of it together, but is not as detailed as a blue print--not by any means.

Don't get me wrong, though.  I start many a story as an invertebrate, floppy and spineless, no backbone at all--because I don't quite know what it is. Yet.  Is it a picture book?  Is it an easy reader?  Is there enough story for a chapterbook?  Or is it  poem, for no one else but me to read?  I end up "writing around the writing" before I truly type the first words, just to figure that out.

But once a story has a spine, then I can begin for real.

On a different note, I am close to being able to reveal Trinket's trailer.  Yay!  And I'll be at ALA on Friday (and hopefully Saturday).  If you are there to, let me know.  I'd love to meet up!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Move Over School Year, Here Comes Summer!!

This time next week, I will be a free woman.

Okay, that's not really what I meant.  What I want to say is that school will be over *sigh* and I will have more control of my time. Of this, I am grateful, but I will miss my third graders so much.  An impossibly inconceivable amount of missing!  But time marches forth, and so must I.

So, Summer!!

Here are some things that I am working on:

STORYTELLING EVENT-  I will be at Carlton Oaks Elementary in Santee on June 18th for an afternoon of stories.  Can't wait!

Yes, children of Santee, you can look forward to THIS.

ALA-I will be at ALA for a couple of days, and at the Macmillan Dessert Party on Friday night.  If you are a librarian who is attending the dessert thing, please come and say Hi.  I will be the one tasting all desserts and pretending that I feel incredibly comfortable.  Not that I'll be's just a little weird with a book coming out in the Fall.  "Hi, I'm Shelley AND THIS IS MY BOOK!!!" feels a little strange.  However, I DO really want this book to get into the hands of kids.  THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET is such a magical story and I am very pleased with how it all came together.  I DO want librarians to give it a try...I just don't want to be pushy.  That being said, I will have a lot of mini-bookmarks to give away!

She's a lovely girl, my Trinket.

WEEKLY STORY TIMES- I will be doing weekly story times at the Barnes and Noble in Oceanside starting in July.  Friday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  Wear your pajamas.  I might be in PJs as well.  (If I can find some that look royal enough.) My puppets will be there, of course.  I am so excited about this!

COMIC-CON- This is what happens, folks.  When you write FANTASY (like stories with dragons, or selkies, or banshees, what have you,) you are considered an INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL and they give you a pass to attend.  I've not ever been, so I am completely jazzed.  I don't think I'll be there in any official capacity, but I'll have some bookmarks to give out anyway!

JR. AUTHORS PROGRAM--I'll be teaching for the Carlsbad Education Foundation again this summer, July 1-6.  This is a one-week, three hours per day children's writing workshop.  I think it will be my fourth year.  Really looking forward to it.

As for getaways, I am still hopeful I can work something out with the college girls (my daughters) so we can have a family weekend away.  But I've not figured that out yet.  The entire Thomas fam is on different (conflicting) schedules so I am not sure if it will work out.  Crossing my fingers!

What does your summer look like?


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Very Pinteresting

Yes.  I've heard all of the reasons not to have a Pinterest account, the biggest one being that it is a super-massive black hole of a time stealer.

But folks, I am here to tell you that I have discovered a way that Pinterest actually SAVES me time!!!
(And I am always in need of time saving techniques...especially easy ones.)

Here's the thing--I am not the most organized of individuals.  It's not intentional. It's just that usually I am not giving 100% complete attention to the task at hand because I am thinking about writerly things.  In other words,  even when I am taking out the garbage, I am daydreaming.

What happens is that when I am on the internet, I find lots of cool stuff.  Sometimes I will bookmark the site, but often I can't remember if I did or not.  So, I spend a lot of time having to re-find stuff that I've already found.

Enter Pinterest.

Now I get to Pin stuff to a BOARD so I can't lose it!!  For a person that moves from thought to thought like my brain does, this is perfect for me!

AND I have always wanted a place to put books that I like, BOOK TRAILERS (!), and other neat-o things so that I can find them again.

Right now, I have 8 boards.  I know!

They are:

For Hogwarts Party, click here (you never know when you are going to want to  throw a Harry Party!...which is better, I think, than a Hairy Party....)

For Schoolishness, click here (there is that important part of me that will never stop loving this kind of thing.)

For Book Trailers, click here (Let me know what else I should add!)

For Book Stuff, click here (If I had a jillion bucks, I'd have all of this stuff.)

For Celtic things, click here (look for some Trinket stuff to slip in here from time to time.)

For Rawr Dragons, click here (I can never get enough of dragons.)

For Picture Books I love, click here (This is just the tip of the iceberg!)

And for Middle Grade Books Worth Reading, click here (again, much more to come!)

I am thinking of giving Trinket her own board over the summer when I have time to make it. And maybe a teen books board, since I read a lot of those, too.

But what I love is that so many of the things I love online are now so easy for me to find!  Even if I am the only person to ever look at my own Pinterest, I won't care.  It is meeting my needs just by existing.

If any of you are on Pinterest, let me know and I'll look you up.  If you haven't played around on it yet, you might want to give it a try.  Again, let me stress that I am not the queen of social media, a lot of it makes my head spin, but for some reason, I find the different boards very Pinteresting.  (See what I did there?)

Off to add the Harry Potter books to the middle grade board.  How could I not have done that yet?/?