Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back From BEA

I'm back from the BEA and boy are my arms tired. No, that's not cheesy flying joke. My arms are really sore from the jackpot of new books I scored. Part of me is sad that I could only make it to one day of the weekend long event and part of me is wondering where I could have possibly fit more books if I had more time.

Friday I took my mother and my daughter to the Book Expo America in New York City. It was so much fun. We met many authors and were lucky enough to get their newest books signed. I was going to list them all here, but decided it was just too much. The picture above doesn't do justice to them all. I will be talking more about each book as I read them.
We all loved meeting the authors and talking about their books and publishing in general. Of course, we loved the books themselves. My mother has always been an avid reader. She has kept me surrounded by books my whole life. Although I tried to fight off the reading bug, I finally caught it and have since passed it to my daughter. Which, go figure, isn't such a bad thing after all. Where my mother was excited about the day and the book, my daughter was beside herself. She told every author she was starting her own library of personalized books. They all loved this and wrote some really sweet things to her.

I am sure there will be many stories about the BEA, so I won't bore you with details. Besides, this being my first time, and the limited time I was there, I am definitely not an expert. I can, however share some of the highlights of our experience.

We started our day catching the 6:00 AM train and headed off to New York City. The trip took 3+ hours. Once arriving in Manhattan we set off on foot to the Jacob Javit's Center. We said we would take a cab, but once your feet hit the pavement you feel the energy and think you can walk anywhere. How far can it be anyway, it's only 7th Ave to 11th? So we walk...and it's not so bad. Anything is better than being in a NYC cab with my mother. We made that mistake before and she literally screamed the whole time. That poor cab driver probably quit.

After enjoying the day meeting authors, publishers, publicists, and fellow book lovers it was time to gather our bags and begin our journey home. We started with one each and ended up with six bags full of books, posters and other promotional items. This is how the load was distributed. My daughter had her original bag with a few added favorite items, my mother had her original and an additional, which left the other three to me. The ones I got stuck with held the bulk of our books. Look again at the picture above and double it. That still doesn't cover how many we had between us. I have to stress this because my arms are really sore and it makes me feel better to complain a little.

We lugged these bags all the way back to the train station, because for some unknown reason we still thought it wasn't that bad of a walk. Well, this time it was...really bad. Not only did we have a much heavier load but it was also uphill going back. I have already vowed that next time we are taking a cab, even if I have to bring a sedative for my mother.

Finally, back on the train at 5:45 PM and looking forward to sitting, I ask everyone what their favorite part of the day was.

My mother's was being handed one of the last extra copies of Emeril's new book, Emeril at the Grill and getting his autograph. This doesn't surprise me since she has become one of his biggest stalkers, I mean fans lately. He has been doing a lot of signings in our area lately. This is the third time she has met him in less than a month.

My daughter's favorite thing was meeting Jane Lovascio, who I recently did a blog post about. She thought Jane was very nice and loved meeting the real life stars of her books, Casey and Bella. They are Jane's cute dogs and were there to do paw signings.

I loved the whole day. My highlights were meeting some of the people I follow on Twitter, like Luis and Cindy Urrea. Luis is the author of Into the Beautiful North and I have enjoyed hearing about their recent book tour adventures. But I think the best part of it all can be explained better by a picture I took of how we spent most of the time coming home.

Since I am still learning about this blog stuff I finally had to give up trying to figure how to get another picture to go where I wanted. So I put it in the previous post.

Here is my favorite part of BEA

This is my favorite part of the BEA. My daughter was so excited with all of her new books that she read to us for almost the entire 3+ hour train ride home. And to think, I almost didn't take her, thought it would have been boring or too long of a day for her. She is looking forward to going again next year and so am I.

I can't wait to start reading all of these great new books and sharing them with everyone. Although I am already missing quite a few because of friends and family that stopped over to borrow them.

Thanks for stopping by and keep in touch.

Kristin : )

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Never Throw Away A Good Kid!

My grandmother was a resourceful lady. She taught me value of a dollar and the importance of family and that you should never, ever throw either away. So, what do you do when they throw themselves away? Grab a camera of course, and then help them out of the garbage can they have somehow wedged themselves into.

It didn't end there. After I helped my son out of this. I actually had to tell my daughter 'Don't even think about trying it' as she stood eyeing the can with disturbing interest.
Somehow I don't think Gram meant this when she was teaching me life lessons.
If this is how my weekend is going to be I might have to start looking forward to Mondays. Hope you all have a great long weekend.
Kristin : )

Friday, May 22, 2009

New book giveaway!

In honor of the BEA (Book Expo America) I am having another book giveaway. Go to my contest page for details on how you can win a signed copy of The Truth Lies in the Dark whether you Twitter or not.

Thanks and Good Luck!

Kristin Callender : )

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where are Bella and Casey Going Next? To the BEA in NYC!

The 2009 Book Expo America is in New York City. It will run May 28th through May 31st in the Jacob Javits Center. This is my first BEA and I am getting excited. I will be attending as a blogger and an author. As a blogger I was asked if I wanted to list myself in the BEA press category. I said sure, why not? That was back in February. Lately I have been getting so many emails from different publishers and publicists that it's been hard to keep up with all that is going on. Many of the emails have been to invite me to after hours cocktails with authors and other writing professionals. Others have been invitations to visit the different booths and events during the weekend. I have been setting up a schedule and choosing the booths and events that are of interest to me. This is how I came across a new children's book author, thanks to Dori at MTL Communications. She is not only the author of a new, adorable children's book series, but also a very generous person.

There are many, many children's books out today. What makes the Casey and Bella series stand out are four important things; the book is personal, it includes children with a motivational contest, it contributes to education by offering a fundraiser, and it gives back to the community by donating to charities.

What makes the book personal? The characters are based on the author's two dogs. Casey is a Jack Russell Terrier and Bella a Tea Cup Yorkie. These two lovable pups find adventure, friends, and learn life lessons every where they go. The question is, where do Casey and Bella go next?

Jane Lovascio visits many schools, reading her books and asking children where they think Casey and Bella should go next. She received so many creative answers that she decided to start a contest. It is open to all 3rd and 4th graders. This year's winner has been announced, but the next contest is scheduled to begin in September and 4 finalists will be chosen in April of 2010. One winner out of the 4 finalists will receive credit in book as the co-author, a $500.00 cash prize, a plaque, certificate, and the author will visit the student's school to personally award these exciting prizes. So, kids get your pencils out and start writing your 400 word idea and make sure it tells where Casey and Bella go, who they meet, and what life lessons they meet along the way. In the newest book Casey and Bella Go Green thanks to 4th grader author, Autumn.

Here's another way to bring Casey and Bella to your school. Have a fundraiser with them. Your school will receive books and t shirts of these lovable characters. Each one sold will help raise money for your school's activities and expenses. As a mom, I love this idea. I am bored of the catalogs filled with over priced wrapping paper and trinkets and honestly don't need any more baked goods. Schools get the books and t shirts for an incredible discount and there are many options to choose from.

Casey and Bella Go to New York City retails for $15.95 and Casey and Bella Go to Hollywood retails for $14.95. Both are only $8.00 for schools and the character t shirts are only $7.00. The suggested resale price is $13.00 for the books and $9.00 for the shirts. This is a great deal for parents and the schools. Most of the current fundraisers do not bring in as much of a profit as this, and all unsold books are returnable.

All of the above reasons show the author's generosity and willingness to share with children and schools, but then she goes even further. A portion of the proceeds are always donated to nonprofit charities that either benefit children or animals. Her latest book will donate to Autism Speaks, which is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders.

For any of you planning to attend Book Expo America in NYC next week, you can meet the author, Jane Lovascio. She will be at Booth #708 all weekend. On Friday May 29th, you can meet the real life characters, Casey and Bell. They will be doing paw signings at 11:00 AM.

For more information about Casey and Bella, Jane Lovascio, the contest, fundraiser and charities you can follow the link.

For more information about all of the events at Book Expo America go to their home page.
Now for a personal note:

As an author and a mom I love finding other authors and books that not only entertain, but inspire us all to do a little more than is expected. I am inspired by Jane Lovascio's books, contest, fundraiser, and especially her support of nonprofit charities. In fact, I am going to look into donating a portion of my book sales to one myself. I am thinking Amber Alert or another missing children's network since my book includes some missing children among other issues. Although my story is fictional and has a happy ending, my heart breaks for those parents who are faced with the real life devastation of a missing child.

I hope that everyone is inspired to go out and find something they believe in and support it. Support doesn't always have to mean money it can be shown with giving your time and encouragement also.

Thanks so much for stopping by and keep in touch.

Kristin : )

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nice to meet you!

Do you think writing exercises are useful or a waste of time? I'll be honest, I used to think they were a waste. What good is streaming out endless thoughts going to do when I have a million concrete ideas to write about? The longer I write the more I disagree with the beginner writer in me. Writing exercises are a great way to get your thoughts and creativity flowing and you might just be surprised with what you come up with. You could give yourself a subject or just write down whatever comes to mind.

I decided to do a post on this today because of something that caught my attention on Twitter. A literary agent posted a link to her blog that simply invited writers to introduce themselves to her. The catch, you had to do it in the 3rd person and in 100 words. The following is my comment from her blog. I think it introduces what is important to me; family, writing, reading, and humor. What would your 100 word 3rd person introduction be?

She comes to the park everyday with her laptop or a half read book. Her children call out to her while running past, she looks up from her keyboard and smiles. Today she writes, feverishly her fingers fly over keys and I wonder what is going through her mind. It must be something good because her eyes are alive as the words stream out across the screen. I want to approach her, but just like every other day I can not bring myself to disturb the barrier of solitude she encases herself with. I often wonder what her response would be to the question burning in my every thought. Excuse me Miss, do you have any nuts?-as observed by a squirrel

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Couple of New Ideas...

I have been very busy since the call came from the producer, talking with literary agents and making plans for my trip to Book Expo America in New York at the end of the month. But I did want to let everyone know what else I am doing. As always I have a million things going on at once. Hopefully these things will be helpful to you new authors out there.

First, I have mentioned in the past that I joined a new writers/readers network called Indie Readers. If you haven't already, stop by and join. There are a lot of nice people there and many great tips and opportunities for authors to help each other. I have just started a new group within the network called Amazon Authors. This is very similar to Todd Fonseca's Tag My Book onAmazon blog, but on a much smaller scale. If you are interested in adding your Amazon titles to our group to be tagged, I would suggest that you also post it on Todd's. The more you get your work out there the more chances you have to get more readers. If your not sure what tagging is please stop by either of the following addresses for an explanation.

I have been fortunate to meet many writers and authors, both on line and off. I am very thankful to have all of the opportunities that writing and publishing has given me and love to help other writers when ever I can. That was the main reason for starting this blog; to share my experiences and pass along what I have and continue to learn about the whole publishing process. Lately I have been meeting some new author's of children's books. Having 4 children of my own, and being a substitute teacher in a large town with 9 elementary schools, I offered to ask how these 9 different librarians ordered their books. I was given the name and contact info for the man who orders the books for all of our schools. That brings the number of school libraries up to 12. This led me to my second idea.

I thought what a great idea if I take copies of these new children's books along with their purchase info to the man in charge of ordering. He would be able to sample them and then decide if he's interested in buying them for the libraries. I have contacted him about this and will let everyone know the outcome of that as soon as I hear anything. In the mean time, I will offer any children's author a review, which I will post here, on Goodreads, and on Amazon. Not bad exposure for the price of postage and 1 copy of your book. Most of us have a few copies hanging around the house anyway.

In the event that your book is chosen as one to be purchased for all of our town's libraries I will offer the copy you send me as a free bonus to them. If your book is not chosen I will offer it on my contest blog. We all love a giveaway and it helps get your book out there to more readers. Tell me what you think about this idea, and if you're interested in participating email me and I will give you the address of where to send a copy of your book.

As always, keep writing and keep in touch. If you have any ideas on how we can help each other pass them along.

Kristin :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I Got "The Call"

Hello. Hope everyone is doing well and you're still plugging away at your own goals in writing and life. If you are struggling and need a little inspiration I have just the story for you. As I posted shortly after my Virtual Book Tour, I was contacted by a producer. She asked me about my film rights and requested a copy of The Truth Lies in the Dark. Then last Friday she emailed me asking for my home phone number. Well, she called yesterday.

She wants to make my story into a movie!

This is great news and such an honor, but still in the early stages. She still has to pitch the idea to Lifetime and needs to compile a proposal package for the executives to consider. To help with this, I am digging up all of my reviews and my original synopsis to send to her. She has also directed me toward a larger publisher, who has published some of the books she has already made into movies. I will let everyone know how that is going when I know more. It's all a little overwhelming to think of it all at once.

I think the best part of this all, and the part I am so excited to share with everyone, is how this incredible opportunity could happen to anyone. I'm not going to say that writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and promoting are easy, or that everyone will get a film deal. I am still in shock and amazement that my book was even considered. I am saying it's possible; stay positive, try everything, and always, always believe in yourself and your work.

Your writing is the most important thing. If you are happy and can honestly stand behind it you are already doing better than someone who writes to please someone else, like an agent or an editor. Not to say you can't take criticism and make changes, just as long as you believe in the changes you have made. This belief is your backbone that will keep you steady when reviews and opinions start coming, and they are all not going to be as supportive and great as those from family and friends. Some are going to feel like personal attacks on you, like when someone wrote that my main character Amanda was too needy and annoying. At first it bothered me, then I realized that characters, for me anyway, should come alive in a story. For someone to become annoyed with Amanda, they are seeing her as a real life person also. So, that's not such a bad thing. It would be worse to have them say the book and characters did nothing for me at all. I am getting off point now, but you get the idea. Believe in yourself and your writing.

The next important thing is getting your work out there; the more you do the more opportunities you create to be seen. I recommend doing live book tours/signings if you feel comfortable with them and definitely do a Virtual Book Tour. If you're not sure how look in my past posts. I detailed how I did mine, and do I need to remind you of the outcome? :) My sales did not explode, but yours could. You never know who might notice your book. The fact that the producer found my book at all was a fluke.

I did interviews, was a guest, or was reviewed by 18 different book related blogs. Some had many followers and others just a few, but the one the producer noticed my book was all but missed by everyone. The host of the blog had an emergency and did not post my book on the day we had planned. Once she realized, she posted it late, and the producer just happened upon it. If that's not dumb luck or some kind of fate I don't know what it is. But nothing happens out of thin air, luck or fate can't find you if you're not out there. So do whatever you can (within limits of law and self respect of course) to get your writing out there, you never know when or where your big break could come from.

I am excited (and a little nervous) to have this opportunity, but I have to remind myself that whether or not my book actually becomes a movie I am thankful and honored that it is being considered. I hope that sharing this inspires you to keep writing and go after your goals and dreams. Life is too short to think you can't do something. What's the worse they can say?

As always, you're welcome to share your successes or frustrations about writing or life. We all have them. I think the only reason I haven't really freaked out over the movie news is the continued real life drama I live every day. My 11 year old crashed his bike and might have a hairline fracture on his wrist, but is now quickly learning that ouch means his teacher lets him get out of everything he doesn't want to do. Then he miraculously finds the strength to come home and play video games with both hands and try to play dodge ball with his sister. Next, my oldest came home telling us how he had to wrestle a cow to give it medicine (yeah I think that's funny too; he's no farmer). He also came home with a tick burrowed into his back. So we spent the night in surgery, well in the bathroom... three of us, hovering over my son with needles, tweezers, peroxide, etc. I swear, we could go a year without talking to the doctor and then in less than one week they know me by voice on the phone.

I would love to hear from you. Take care and keep in touch.

Kristin : )

Friday, May 1, 2009

Proof that life goes on...

Hello everyone. Have I got a story to tell you. We have all heard the saying that life goes on, well I have proof it's true. Anyone who follows my contest blog or me on Twitter knows that I received a very exciting email yesterday. In a previous post I told everyone about the email I received from a producer asking me about film rights and a copy of my book. Well, I got another email last night from her. She said my story was wonderful and requested my home phone number so she could call and talk to me about it.

A million thoughts went through my head. First I was excited and ran to tell my husband and kids, then I was nervous about the call, which quickly turned to "oh my, I have no idea about how to negotiate with a film producer. Do I get an agent? Or do I have my editor act as my agent? This is an option in my contract, not one I ever thought I would seriously have to consider. My next thought, being the cynic that I can be, is this is some person's sick idea of a joke. Ha ha, let's see how long we can get Kristin to sit home and stare at her phone. Well, if that's the case the joke's on you. I gave the producer my cell phone too. So I can stare at my phone waiting for it to ring from anywhere.

So, my head is swimming with all of these thoughts as I start calling family and friends to share the news. In the mean time my two youngest kids are playing outside at a neighbor's house. I am only on my first call, haven't even finished cheering and hooting with one of my best friends and proofreader of my book, when I hear the tell tale sirens of my children's cries coming closer. I look out the window and sure enough they are both running for the house full speed, my daughter sobbing and my son with his own face twisted in what looks like pain.

Oh God, something happened, some one's hurt. I hang up the phone and run outside to find out if medical attention is needed or the fire department, this is how serious they both look. My daughter sees me and she starts pointing at her arm and the big, break your heart crocodile tears are pouring out. We all meet in the driveway, and now other neighbors are coming out and my husband and two older boys are rushing out the front door. Serious drama.

I reach my daughter and check her arm, which she is still holding stiffly away from herself. No break, no horrendous gash, just a tiny surface scrape. Before I can wrap my mind around what could actually be wrong they start arguing. He said this, no she did that, not true, yes it is. No lie in the blink of an eye, they have caught their breath and were screaming over each other to tell me about argument they had over a ball game at the neighbors.

So, no one's hurt? I ask just to clarify. They both get louder; now they see I'm mad and try even harder to explain their sides of the battle. It is my turn to scream. Get in the house! I yell over them and look to the front door to see the tail ends of my husband and older boys disappearing back inside. I turn to the few neighbors that are still watching this all. Nothing to see here, I tell them with a neighborly wave. I can hear my two little angels inside, continuing their bicker fest.

My daughter, who I am certain will be the best actress ever or the most evil lawyer, has shut off her tears and is screaming at my son and to me that he basically picked her up and threw her across the yard and on top of a bike, causing her to hurt her arm. She now turns the tears back on, on cue. I feel like yelling, cut, but yell go to bed instead. Everyone, including me, needs to cool down and then we can get to the bottom of this.

Well, now my daughter has let the flood gates go. She's half way through a box of tissues and sobbing loudly, very loudly, that it's not fair and she doesn't need to calm down. Now the calm down has become, it's time for bed. The craziest part of all is it was 7:30 when all of this happened. They go to bed at 8:00 on a school night. She manages to stay awake until almost 9:00, going back and forth from crying to asking if she can come back out.

And by the way, once they both calmed down I got the whole story, which came down to them arguing about another neighbor getting an extra turn at the game they were playing. My daughter (actress/lawyer) decides it's her job to put a stop the unfairness of the situation by taking the ball in protest. My son (future cop/bounty hunter) chases her to get it back. She trips over the bike and scrapes (if it even can be considered a scrape) her arm. This simple incident they turn into almost two hours of drama, when they could have stopped, brushed off and continued playing.

My point of sharing this story is this. Kids, at least mine, have a way of helping you keep things in perspective. There I sat on the couch next to my husband, when the house was finally quiet, with one cold beer on my throbbing head and one in my hand, no longer stressing about the email or any phone calls. I figure talking to a producer about making my fictional book into a television drama can not be any more stressful than dealing with an actual real life one.

I would love to hear your stories that prove to you that no matter how good or how bad (or how crazy) goes on.

Keep in touch,

Kristin : )