Saturday, February 27, 2010

You Asked?? The Sky's the Limit

Hello all of you fabulous readers!
If you were following us through our debut year in 2009, you know we
had a regular feature called, "You asked!" These posts were answers to questions
YOU all came up with. Well, guess what? It was such a hit, we decided to do it again.
So! Now that we have all the trauma and drama of our debut year under our belts, we are moving on, many to second and even third books! Most of us have agents, a few do not. Some have sold and/or come out with second (and third!) books, some are still writing those. Some are still doing promotion for that first book, some have cut back to work on a WIP (work-in-progress).
But wherever we are in that spectrum, we all feel blessed to have made it this far;)
So, what would you like to know?
Leave your questions in the comment box (and ask as many as you'd like! They're fat free!). We will gather them up into our special Class of 2k9 Vault and take them out over the course of the year, complete with our various answers.
Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you!
Bev Patt

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Eric Clapton and/or Strength in Numbers

I feel the need to quote Eric Clapton here: "What'll you do when you get lonely..."
The thing is, I have not felt that lonely-writer-in-a-cold-deserted-corner-of-a-coffee-shop rainy day grayness in the last two years, because I have had my Class of 2k9 friends. The 22 of us connected in a way that might have seemed impossible, since we are scattered across the United States and Canada.
I have been a teacher since the eighties. If I need to brainstorm about a project or a lesson plan, or I have to discuss the needs of a student, I can merely step next door or across the hall.

Could I really do that as a writer? My 2k9 friends
feel as if they are in the next cubicle sometimes. (And not in the dysfunctional Office kind of way! ...But it could prove interesting to throw a "Dwight" or "Angela" into the mix...) If I just want to vent in an insecure writerly way, they are there to listen and talk me down from the window ledge.

Why has this worked so well for us? Hmmm...If you think back to your college dorm or summer camp cabin, you know that throwing assorted strangers into a close living space can be a clear recipe for disaster. But I think what has worked for us, is that we all realize that there is room for ALL of our books on the bookshelf. We have also always appreciated the rare opportunity we have; where else would we find people who were going through the same things at virtually the same times in our lives?

My 2k9 friends knew how it felt to wake up on the morning that my first book would finally appear on the bookshelf. They had the stomach butterflies and sweaty palms right along with me. Although, I'd have to say, so did one of my first graders. Last May, I had discussed the fact with my first graders that I would have a book coming out at the end of the month. There didn't seem to be a whole lot of excitement on their part at first. Most looked up at me with mild interest, then went back to watching the clock for snack time.

But not one boy. Our conversation went like this:

Mrs. Leal? I have to tell you something.

(I give him my best teacher eye-contact, because he sounds serious.)

I have a book coming out this week, he says.

Really?! I say. That's great!

(He nods, enthusiastically.) All I have to do is finish the cover and staple it on and I'm all done!

...And that's why I love my 2k9 friends--because they understand all those things that happen between putting down the words and stapling on the cover.

-Ann Haywood Leal

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I LOVE 2K9: A Valentine.

Two years ago, I sold a novel but had no idea what was going to happen next--fame, fortune, an appearance on Letterman? In order to prepare myself, I started messing around online in order to learn what authors did after stage one of the publication processes. Did they throw themselves a year long party? Did they have to wear disguises when they went to bookstores to keep their fans from hounding them? As it turned out, the biggest lesson I learned was that I was a pretty naïve little writer.

A friend of a friend of a friend of mine who I went to for help suggested I join a group called The Class of 2K9, which actually started as the Class of 2K7. There is also a fabulous class of 2K8 and the new one, originally enough, is called the Class of 2k10. 2K10’s membership includes people who are potentially as clueless as me about what they have gotten themselves into, but through trial, error, some joking around, and division of labor, they, like we 2K9ers, are bound to make discoveries and learn how to handle the ins and outs of debut authorship. They will probably wind up as friends, too, and in this industry, and the busy life you need to stay afloat, that’s a real plus.

I think self-promoting stinks. The best thing about group marketing is that it doesn’t feel emotionally selfish. But my most personal reason for appreciating my 2K9 membership is that in 2004, when I was 39 years old, I lost 50% of my hearing. Silence is great for the writing process and I still enjoy yapping (loudly) with family and close friends, yet it is much much much harder than it was to connect with new people and make business relationships (even with hearing aids). In order to schmooze or even hang out with coworkers gossiping by the water cooler, I need to shout, a lot, and sometimes that is just embarrassing.

I feel especially connected to my 2K9 classmates because of how much they extended themselves electronically, for how close we became even without needing to verbally interact, for the opportunities like bookstore readings they created that I would have had difficulty securing on my own.

“Hello Mr. Bookstore owner, I would like to set up a reading.”

“What do you write?”

“I can’t do it tonight.”


“What?!” (You get the drift.)

When our 2K9 year ended, I think each of us felt gratitude for how often someone else stepped in to do the small things we felt personally challenged by—solving technical problems, leading charges, speaking with librarians, distributing swag.

At the end of 2009, we were teary about the end of our year together and unhappy about losing the mutual support. Someone suggested we start a new blog and keep on posting since we were still writing each other anyway about new projects, contracts, industry things we were discovering that we wanted to share. We still have all our personal challenges which may or may not be part of the bigger story too. To be honest, this second year of published authorship already feels like almost as big a mystery as the first.

For example, maybe I missed something along the way. What was it authors are supposed to wear on Oprah? The gold tube top or the silver spangles? Does the gold tube top make me look fat?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Books of Wonder Photos!

Our panel started with a short reading from everyone, followed by questions about writing and craft. Even the audience got in on the action.

Here we are after signing stacks of books.

Pictured are: Ann Haywood Leal, Albert Borris, Lisa Greenwald, Fran Cannon Slayton, JT Dutton, Ellen Hopkins, and Sydney Salter.