Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Birthday: PRINCESS OF THE WILD SWANS by Diane Zahler

This book was not sold by me, but Diane Zahler is a new client... and I LOVE her writing. I'm extremely happy to tell you about her brand-new book from HarperCollins, PRINCESS OF THE WILD SWANS! If you love fairy tale retellings, books like Gail Carson Levine's FAIREST or Juliet Marillier's WILDWOOD DANCING, you should definitely be on the lookout for Diane Zahler's books.

Princess Meriel's brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment--cast by their conniving new stepmother--has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.

Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.

With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam--a pretty half-witch and her clever brother--Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved.

But if she fails . . . all will be lost.

Diane Zahler lives with her husband, son, and dog in New York's Harlem Valley, in an old farmhouse held together by magic spells and duct tape. Diane is the author of The Thirteenth Princess, which was chosen as an ALAN's Pick, praised for its "delicious descriptions" (Kirkus Reviews), and deemed a "graceful and cohesive romantic drama" (Publishers Weekly), and A True Princess, out in paperback today.

She is spending the next six months in Belgium (she left today in fact!) - you can follow her as she blogs about adventures in the land of Beer, Chocolate & Waffles here. Or you can follow her on twitter here: @dianezahler

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Fine Art of Zipping It, or XYZ PDQ

Look, I keep my private life private, but let's just put it this way: I am a city girl. I have lots of different kinds of friends, with lots of different kinds of private lives, and some of them are quite expressive about them. I am friends with people who are dancers and actors and drag queens and sex therapists and racy comedians and wild-eyed-probably-high college students, and all sorts of things in between. The content that they post on social networks reflects that, and that's just great. 

I'm also friends with lots and lots of writers. Some of them are semi-insane ranting penmonkeys, or sassy romance or YA authors. Sometimes they post things that make me blush a bit... and THAT'S fine too. But writers or not, what do all these people have in common? The tone of their social media content reflects the tone of their work.

Now of course they might be MORE conservative in social media than they are in their work, but they are rarely more salacious. In other words... a YA novelist may choose to tweet about breakfast, or she may choose to tweet about pop culture or politics or any other dang thing that one talks about in public... but she probably won't start tweeting naked pics.  An burlesque dancer might tweet about all of those things including burlesque-pics... but she probably won't start tweeting links to snuff films.  

Personally, my blog is pretty much exactly how I would talk to my boss, or an editor, or a client, or my mom, mild cursing and all... nobody is going to get a big shock or be disturbed if they read the blog and then meet me, because the tone of my social media reflects the tone of my work.

So consider this a public service announcement.

If you are an author of children's books, could you please not post raunchy comments and explicit posts on your public social media sites?  Come on now. This isn't your private living room. You've followed me, and maybe I like the looks of your book, or maybe I've already read and liked it. You've followed a host of other booksellers and librarians and teachers, editors and agents, readers and potential fans.  Why did you follow those folks? So they'd get to know you and your book, right? So they'd help you promote it, bring it into their library, read it at storytime, put it in a kids hand? So that maybe they might want to buy or read (or rep! or publish!) the next one? Of course.

So you know very well that you are talking to not just your friends, but to a group of people who work with kids and/or kids books all day long. Do you seriously think I, or any one of those other professional children's book people, will want to bring you in for an event, or tell the marketing team about you, or otherwise promote your picture book when we know you are making comments about the looks of 16 year old "jailbait" on youtube, publicly bemoaning your erectile dysfunction on facebook, instagramming pictures of your rum-soaked bachelorette party, posting unfunny pedophilia jokes on your blog, or talking about MILFS at a school event on Twitter? Do you imagine a PARENT would see all this and give your book to their KID? Are you nuts? 

Seriously. If you want a locked twitter or a private facebook for just you and your wild hockey team pals or fellow members of your Bad Medicine cover band or Mile High Ladies Fan Club or whatever, go for it, and god bless. 

But if you have a public account on which you are promoting your work for children, and you are friending/following readers, teachers, librarians and publishing professionals, use your dang noodle. And not THAT noodle, mister.

"But Jennifer, that is CENSORSHIP!"  -- nope, I think it's actually just common sense. "But we're all ADULTS! Little kids aren't reading my facebook posts!"  -- sure, that's true. So if you're truly passionate about a topic, go for it. I would just suggest that if it is content that could not be printed in a newspaper, you're probably on the wrong track. I think of public social media like a cocktail party with colleagues and your boss... not a bachelor party with drinking buddies and a hooker. 

What do you guys think? Am I hopelessly conservative and out of touch?  I don't think so, but I am interested in other points of view.   

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


MY HEART WILL NOT SIT DOWN by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Ann Tanksley

In a village in Cameroon, a teacher tells his class a story about his home country. Across the great salt river in America, there is something called the Great Depression. There are not enough jobs. People are homeless, starving and begging on the street.

Young Kedi is moved by the plight of the Americans. Though her village has little money, and must work hard for the food and shelter they have, they've got love to spare. She wants to share what she has with the people she has heard about in school, even though they are strangers. And she inspires others to do the same.

MY HEART WILL NOT SIT DOWN is based on true events. From the author's note, "In 1931, the city of New York received a gift of $3.77 to feed the hungry. It came from the African country of Cameroon."

MY HEART WILL NOT SIT DOWN is the perfect book to share with children if you want to inspire them to look outside their small world and make a difference in the larger world. And, if you are anything like me, it will make you cry. It's just wonderful.

You can buy the book from your local bookstore, or from MY local bookstore, or online. Heck, buy two, and share it with others! :-)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

OMG 2012 Open Thread

HOW is it 2012 already?!  WoWza.  IT'S THE FUTURE.

And... it's time for another Open Thread!

You know the drill, kids -- ask me questions. They  can be agentish, bookish, or anything else your curious little heart desires. If I can answer, I will, in the comments. If it is a longer answer, I may make a blog post about it.  When I get sick of answering (in a couple days probably), I'll shut it down.

Have fun, and play nice!

Monday, January 02, 2012

My 4th Agentversary

I officially became an agent (as in, my profile went live on the website and I started getting queries from strangers) at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2008.  That's cool, because I am forgetful about dates like that, and the New Years date is super-easy to remember. Plus it means I am like a racehorse. (This is the same reason I set Moxie's birthday to Jan 1 - she's three now.)

This is the post I wrote a year ago on my 3rd Agentversary. It's a lot about how I sold my first book, FLASH BURNOUT. That particular sale was on my mind a lot when I wrote the post, because I already knew that my dear friend and author LK Madigan (Lisa) was sick, and she passed away six weeks or so later in February of 2011.

Lisa's loss is felt keenly, and colored all of 2011 for me. Not a day goes by that I do not think about her in some way - sometimes with a tear, but just as often with a smile.  And then a tear. I miss her a lot.

Lots of other stuff happened in 2011, of course. Great new clients. Great sales. I sold my 75th book (holy moly!) and have 26 on the shelves. I had my first anniversary of living in New York, and am finally (sorta) used to it. I traveled plenty, made new friends, read heaps of great books, and spent lots of time hugging the dog. But still... a somber year. 

Anyway. I love you, internet friends. I wish you all an extremely productive and fascinating and wonderful and joyous year. Oh and I wish that for myself, too. I am choosing to be happy.