The Emmanuel's Dream book launch party!

poster

With the holidays right before, I must admit that the launch party day sort of snuck up on me. I was rushing to get everything ready, had to give up on some things that I wanted to do, and didn’t have as much time as I would’ve liked to prepare. Still, I think a great time was had by all. I know I enjoyed every minute!

poster
Check out the awesome poster they had up!

books
Look at all those books for sale!

writing buddies
Local writing buddies, including current Emu’s Debut blogger (and the next one of us to launch!), Kevan Atteberry!

presentation
During the presentation

speaking
Clutching the mic for dear life, apparently.

audience
The audience listening to my talk.

line
Can you believe this line of people waiting to get their books signed?

signing
Signing books is even harder when you have to stop and pose for photos.

J. Anderson Coats
Recognize this Emu’s Debuts emeritus and founding member? It’s J. Anderson Coats!

a young fan
Young fans are the best fans.

Many thanks to Emmanuel for inspiring me; to Sean Qualls for his beautiful artwork; to my family for supporting me all this time; to my critique group for helping the manuscript rise above the slush (especially Dana Sullivan, for taking these great pictures for me!); to my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, for not giving up; to the University Book Store in Bellevue and their event planner, Olivia Ahl, for throwing such a wonderful party; and to all the friends, writers, teachers, parents, neighbors, and community members who took the time to come out and cheer me–and the book–on last Tuesday night. You all ROCK, and I am one extremely lucky gal! xoxo

Interview w/Matthew Winner of the Let's Get Busy podcast!

Every now and then I stumble on something so wonderful that I want to add it my own list of “My Favorite Things” and share it with the world: the Let’s Get Busy podcast from Matthew Winner is one of those things. Whether you’re an author, illustrator, teacher, librarian, agent, editor, bookseller–if you have anything to do with children’s literature at all–this show is too good to miss. Think you don’t have time for podcasts? I listen while I’m in the car. Or while I walk the dog. Or while I clean the house. And, believe me, all of those tasks are way more enjoyable when you have Matthew and his guests with you!
Matthew recently recorded his 100th episode of the podcast, and he put together a massive blog and podcast tour to celebrate. Here’s where he’s been so far:

And I’m thrilled that today is my turn to host! Matthew was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, so we can all get to know him better.
LT: Hi Matthew, and welcome! I’ve already gushed to you about how much I love your podcast, but I’m curious to learn more. How and when did you first become interested in doing a podcast like Let’s Get Busy? How did you get started?
MT: I listen to a lot of podcasts. I mean, a whole lot of podcasts. All the time. When I’m driving to work. When I’m washing the dishes. When I’m shelving books. When I’m mowing the lawn. It’s the primary media I consume. The idea for doing a podcast of my own and, specifically, a kidlit podcast just sort of popped into my head one day, took up camp, and then wouldn’t leave. But it took a conversation with Travis Jonker (of 100 Scope Notes) to nudge me into actually starting it. He and I were talking one evening during an ALA conference in Chicago about how much we love the insights but also those memorable vignettes that inevitably stick in your brain whenever you’re in the company of authors or illustrators (or anyone who has something to say, for that matter). Travis asked me what my next big project would be and I told him that all I could think about was this idea of capturing these sorts of conversations through a loosely formatted podcast. Then he basically asked me when I was starting, and that was all it took.
LT: Sometimes we just need the tiniest nudge, don’t we? (Thanks, Travis!) You sure have been busy since then. I can’t believe you started less than a year and half ago, and you’re already up to 100 episodes!
LT: How much time do you spend on the podcast overall, and what’s the breakdown of how that time is spent (lining up guests, recording and editing, promoting, etc.)?
MW: Eeep. Let me try to make this as interesting as possible.
MW: I shoot for 30-minute recordings so that I’m able to post twice a week (or 8 episodes per month). A lot of this is based on bandwidth limitations and the cost of maintaining a subscription on Libsyn, a podcast host site. I usually talk with each guest for about an hour total and we spend the unaired time locking into a comfortable candor (or going on tangents and then saying, “Shoot! I should be recording this!”). Editing and prepping the accompanying blog post takes anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes. And coordinating schedules and review materials and recording logistics over email can take upwards of 30 minutes per scheduled guest, but that might be over a series of weeks.
MW: So, let’s see. That’s 25 minus the circumference of Y, carry the 3 and substitute 7 for X… about 2-3 hours per guest from first contact to published and promoted episode.
LT: That’s a big commitment (but less than I thought–you’re fast!). What then is the hardest part of doing the podcast, and how do you deal with that?
MW: The hardest part for me is asking new people to come on. It seems like everyone and their mother has a podcast nowadays, but I’m often the first podcast my guests have ever appeared on or, in some cases, listened to. And also, many of them have no idea who I am. That gets in my brain and makes me think all sorts of wonky things and then I start to psych myself out over sending that first contact email. I’ve coped with it by asking each of my guests, following our own conversations, to recommend a friend or colleague whom they think my be a good fit for the podcast or this interview format. It’s worked pretty well for me and my guest list now reads like one great big family photo album with all sorts of zigzagging connections between each of the faces.
LT: That is really neat to envision. So much of what we do is built on personal relationships, isn’t it? I don’t think you have anything to worry about, though. First, kidlit people are the best people in the world, don’t you think? And second, I’m sure most authors and illustrators are thrilled by the opportunity to chat with you: you’re interested in our work, and you give us a chance to talk about it. Just remember: we’re nice, and you’re doing us a favor. There’s no need to psych yourself out! 🙂
LT: What has surprised you most about the podcast?
MW: Everything surprises me about the podcast. Sometimes the thing that surprises me most is knowing that anyone’s actually listening. I learn something new with each new person who comes on and by rule of thumb I allow myself space to wonder, to be excited, to nerd out over process, and to ask whatever comes to mind. That approach has served me well and has led to a good deal of surprises when our conversations take unexpected turns. It’s how I learned that Laurie Keller (Arnie the Doughnut) plays banjo, that Nick Bruel (Bad Kitty) used to work at Books of Wonder, a landmark children’s bookstore in New York, and that Steve Light (Have You Seen My Dragon?) works with PreSchool students!
LT: I love that every episode feels like a casual conversation between friends, rather than an interview, per se. In fact, it’s my favorite thing about listening to them! What is your favorite thing about doing them?
MW: So, I have a blog called The Busy Librarian. I started it as a sort of advocacy blog for all of us teacher librarians who are all just so busy all the time. On October 10th, 2010, I published my first post. Here is the text in its entirety:

This is a blog for busy librarians.
For those of us who feel, well, overwhelmed.
It’s a place of comfort and, hopefully, a source of inspiration.
Here you will find the opportunity to interact globally and to impact locally.
We’ll synergize moments, ideas, and activities that will enable us to become more effective librarians, more efficient in our libraries, and more energetic with our students, without feeling like things are careening out of control.
So, let’s get busy!

It made perfect sense to me to name the podcast as an extension of the blog itself. Hence, Let’s Get Busy. My very good pal Sherry Gick, teacher librarian at Rossville Consolidated Schools in Rossville, IN, and author of the Library Fanatic blog, and Nikki Ohs Barnes, fellow Nerdy Book Club member and co-founder of the Virtual Book Club, met me at ALA where, just one night previous, Travis and I had talked about podcasting. Super excited to share, I told Sherry and Nikki that I was going to start a podcast and that I decided to call it Let’s Get Busy after my blog. They both immediately broke into what they decided would have to be the podcast sound effect… a sort of BOW-CHIKKA-WOAH-WOW that I have not to this day been able to get out of my head whenever I’m about to start an interview. Carrying those sorts of memories around everywhere I go is definitely my favorite thing. And with 100 episode behind me, I’m definitely carrying around a lot of stories!
LT: I’m sure you are!
LT: How do you feel your other activities (teaching, presenting, writing, blogging, Twitter, parenting, etc.) make the podcast better? And, vice versa, how does the podcast contribute to those other facets of your life?
MW: Oh my word! Everything and I mean EVERYTHING goes into the pot when it comes to making these recordings. Books from my picture book guests are typically already bedtime staples with our 4-year-old son. Teaching and being a teacher librarian is the best and comes up over and over again on our chats because I like to share the way that the guests’ book is reaching kids and supporting readers in ways that I get to experience firsthand. Twitter is my professional learning community, but it’s also where I get to nerd out with friends over great kidlit and meet very cool people creating very cool books in the process, many of whom I’ll invite on the podcast because their work sticks with me.
MW: Doing the podcast brings me pure joy and is or has become a part of my identity. And I’ve gotten to meet a ton of really cool people in the process. I’m thankful that our son is growing up in a house surrounded with beautiful picture books, both on our bookshelves, and in frames hanging up throughout our house.
LT: Oh, I love that. Why have I never thought of framing picture books?  (Hmmm… just in time for Christmas, too!)
LT: I’ve always said that I will know I’ve made it when I receive one letter from one child saying that something I wrote made a positive difference in his or her life. How do you define success? Do you feel like you’ve achieved it? If not, what’s left on your to-do list?
MW: I listen to my guests and I listen to my listeners. The podcast succeeds when the guests feel like they’ve found a home in our conversation and when the listeners feel like they’re in the room with us. I also try to take in the kind things people are saying about Let’s Get Busy or about me personally. Seymour Simon once told me that he thinks of me “like a son” and that he’s proud of me. I achieved all I ever wanted when I published the very first episode of Let’s Get Busy. And I’m thankful that so many people feel moved to tell me how the podcast is connecting with them. Success to me is knowing that one person cares about the thing you’re making, or saying, or creating. And I’m one person that cares a great deal about what I myself am making, saying, and creating. So with every episode I get to share, I’ve already achieved success before a single download occurs.
LT: What a wonderful attitude, Matthew! I care a great deal about what you’re making, saying, a creating, too. Thanks so much for sharing it with us ! 


As you can see from above, Matthew calls himself “the busy librarian” for good reason. Here are some of the places you can find more from him:

And be sure to follow the rest of the Let’s Get Busy podcast/blog tour, here:

Tales from my first book launch party

decorations

Two of the worst possible things that could happen to a book event in Seattle happened on the day of the Be a Changemaker launch party: one of our major bridges was closed for construction, and the sun was shining! Still, an amazing number of ultra-dedicated friends and intrepid fans braved the traffic nightmare and willingly (or perhaps begrudgingly) sacrificed one of the last sunny Sundays we are likely to have for months. And I am oh-so-grateful to each and every one of them for it!

decorations
Look at the pretty decorations!
I started with a brief thank you. I could have gone on for hours thanking everyone who played a part in this book, but I decided to spare those in attendance and kept the list as short as possible.
presentation
Here I am giving my presentation.
Then I gave a short reading from one of the In My Experience sidebars in the book. I started getting choked up and didn’t want to break down into ugly cry in front of all those people, so I cut it shorter than I had intended. Run away!
Josie Gillett for YUP
One of the inspiring teens presenting her organization.
My favorite part was when four local teens, whose organizations are among those featured in the book, presented a bit about what they do and where their groups are headed. They were all great speakers and held the audience in rapt attention.
signing closeup
I signed some books.
Then, it was time to sign books! I was so afraid I would spell someone’s name wrong, I even asked on the easy ones that I knew for sure I knew how to spell.
signing line zoomed out
I signed a lot of books!
By the end, though, my eyes were starting to cross. I hadn’t made any mistakes, so I let my guard down. One of the very last people in line is one of my dearest friends, whose name happens to be EXACTLY THE SAME AS MINE. Yes, you guessed it: I spelled it wrong. Fortunately, she has a good sense of humor, so we’ll probably be laughing about it for years to come.
Many heartfelt thanks to everyone who came and to Secret Garden Book Shop for hosting. I’m generally not much of a party person, and I really dislike being the center of attention. (Those giant posters of my face were a surprise from my hubby… eek!) But every moment of that launch event was a treat, and the experience is something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

The Emu's Debuts launch party for Be a Changemaker

Emu's Debuts bannerOne of the most rewarding experiences of being a debut author has been participating on the Emu’s Debuts group blog (for clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency who are in between deal and publication). Last week, my fabulous friends and fellow Emus threw me THE BEST LAUNCH PARTY EVER to celebrate the upcoming release of BE A CHANGEMAKER! (They went a week early, since Lindsey Lane’s EVIDENCE OF THINGS UNSEEN is releasing at the same time. I’ll be helping them celebrate that launch next week!)
They were all so generous, authentic, and hard-working in bringing the daily posts to life (as they are with everything they do!), and I was thrilled anew every morning to see what they had put together. In case you missed them, please go check out their posts. They’re fun, informative, and inspiring!
Here’s the roundup:
On Monday, Lindsey Lane (with some backup support from Tara Dairman), posted Welcome to the World: BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson!, which included stories of and interviews with five other Erin Murphy Literary Agency authors who are changing the world in their own meaningful ways:

Tuesday featured several videos compiled by Megan MorrisonBE A CHANGEMAKER: Words of Wisdom. The clips contain contributions from fellow Emu Debuts bloggers offering their own words of wisdom, sharing quotes that motivate and inspire them, and giving advice they wish they’d gotten at the beginning of their journey. Great stuff, and so personal! It’s a great way to get to know these wonderful people a little better.
For the Wednesday post, BE A CHANGEMAKER: Celebrating with Quotes!Jennifer Chambliss Bertman compiled and created a collection of gorgeous images featuring quotes that inspire and motivate the members of the Emu’s Debuts blog team. If you want to spice up your Facebook or Pinterest feeds (or your office walls!), there are some fantastic finds here. Plus, they included the explanations behind why the quotes are so meaningful for them, making them even more special.
For Thursday‘s post, Penny Parker Klostermann, gave readers a sneak preview of Be a Changemaker with excerpts of the first 25 pages as well as the event planning chapter. Her post, BE A CHANGEMAKER: A Tool for Change, gives a sense of how the book can be used as a tool by individuals, teams, and classrooms.
On FridayTamara Ellis Smith closed out the party with Music to Be A Changemaker By, an inspirational and motivating Spotify playlist of songs recommended by the Emu’s Debuts bloggers, along with the explanations of why they included them. Spanning genres and emotions, you’re sure to find something of interest here–I know I did!
I’m so grateful to the awesome authors at Emu’s Debuts! Thanks to them, the Be a Changemaker pre-launch week was better than I ever could have imagined. I’m looking forward to each and of every one of their debuts–coming soon!

It's the Be a Changemaker launch party!

BE A CHANGEMAKER cover

Please come celebrate the release of my first book:

BE A CHANGEMAKER cover

Sunday, September 14th, at 2 p.m.

Seattle Creative Arts Center
2601 NW Market St
Seattle, WA 98107
(Click here for directions and parking information.

Eat, drink, mingle, hear more about the book from the author, and—best of all—meet some local teens who are already changing the world!

I hope to see you there!

If you can’t make it and would still like a signed copy, you can order from Secret Garden Books here (please indicate how you’d like it personalized in the “other notes about your order” field and leave an extra week or two for delivery).

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