Sunday, July 23, 2017

Given the Chance to Fly

In a little over 6 weeks I'll be heading out on book tour for Wild Bird. It's a (mostly) West Coast tour, and you can see the schedule on my website's new Wild Bird page. There's also an excerpt from the book there which will give you a taste of what the story's like.

Six weeks before a book comes out is when it starts feeling real. All of a sudden all that waiting you've been enduring transforms into panic about having too much to do before pub date. 

What's to do? 

Well, typically, it falls on authors to help to get the word out---to have the news about their new book be heard through the cacophony of competing sounds about other new books, and to somehow do so without being annoying or obnoxious. 

It's a difficult balance. I think it's easier if you're an artist and can entertain people with your spontaneous sketches or with visuals from your works in progress. But when what you have is a book full of only words--words that you've spent a couple of years perfecting, words that must be read from beginning to end to convey the passion and purpose of the story--well, what you can do with 140 characters on Twitter or a snapshot on Instagram or a post on Facebook is pretty limited.

But if you don't at least try, chances are your book will be launched from the nest and flutter helplessly to the ground. And if that happens, it may never regain the chance to fly because if your book is not one of the few your publisher has selected for a real media push, and your book hasn't managed to turn heads by "opening weekend," momentum will not be in your favor. There is just too much competition. Before you know it, people are on to the next season, the next thing.

It's a hard reality. A frustrating reality. So when you see authors spamming you with news about their books, don't hate them. Instead, find it in your heart to have sympathy. And if the book sounds good to you, maybe even share or re-tweet their post, or hey, place an order in support. They've worked years for this moment. It's hard to watch it go by without at least a little fanfare, even if they have to generate it themselves.

So yes. Six week from now, Wild Bird launches. There will be posts. I will try not to enter the Obnoxious Author Zone with them, but if I do, please forgive me. This book means a lot to me. I need to do what I can to give it the chance to fly.

Thanks for taking time to read this. I hope you'll check out the new Wild Bird page and read the excerpt...and maybe I'll see you on tour.

Meanwhile, see you in the comments!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sammy-opoly



Do not get too excited. This is just a mock up! There is no deal with Hasbro/Parker Brothers to actually make this.

But...isn't it fun? 

This is what comes of sitting around the dinner table with my family, discussing how Sammy's world might translate to the Monopoly board. By midnight I had obsessively mocked up a Sammy-opoly board. Typical me.

But I'm sure it could use improvement and I would love your ideas and input. If you see something missing or think of something you think would be better, speak up!

I chose how to group/place the properties by balancing value, location (proximity to one another in Santa Martina) and theme.

The  Heavenly Hotel edged out the Senior Highrise for cheapest property, but it was a tossup! 

And I love that Hudson's Porch is the most valuable property. Not Marissa's house, not the Landvogt Mansion, not East Jasmine at all...and not Hudson's house, but his porch.

I don't know about you, but whenever I play Monopoly, the most disappointing properties seem to be the ones between Free Parking (Skateboarding) and Go To Jail (Detention). They never pay off. And getting through them is such a slog. I'd rather go to jail.

Speaking of...don't overlook the little letters around the jailbird. 😉

For the 6 or 7 markers Hasbro/Parker Brothers seems to allow for special edition Monolopys I'm thinking...skateboard, binoculars, high-tops, police car, cat, catcher's mitt, horseshoe.... Other ideas? 

I've got a long drive ahead of me, and on it we'll be brainstorming Chance (Shortcut) and Community Chest (Library) cards. Here are just a few early ones:

  • Take a ride in Hudson's Cadillac. If you pass GO collect $200.
  • The Nightie-Napper strikes again, pay $20.
  • Get $50 reward for returning softball statue to city hall.
  • Cracked a safe, get $100.
  • Fell off skateboard, advance to the Hospital.
  • Heather frames you. Go directly to Detention.
  • Caught ice blocking. Slide back three spaces.
So take a gander and join the fun - give me your feedback and throw in your ideas. Let's play!

PS Like I said - we're just goofing around, but ... maybe someday!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cover Reveal! New Sammy Keyes #4-8

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I'm so excited, are you?

Covers #4-8 have been finalized, and I'm sharing them here first. 

Some of you have already seen Runaway Elf (#4) at online bookstores...which, yes, is confusing because it isn't out yet. Don't know how or why that happened.

But you haven't seen the other four! 
I'm loving the new covers - aren't they good? You may recall from a previous post that the illustrations are by Australian artist Craig Phillips. (If you're on Twitter you should follow him - his work is amazing!)

Anyway, do you have a favorite from the new batch? Can you find the hidden numbers? (Click to enlarge image.) Some of the numbers are easy to see, and some...not so much! 

When they first came across my desk I even used a magnifying glass while searching Snake Eyes for the 7. How classic-mystery is that? They've increased the contrast a little in the final, so you (probably) won't need to do the Sherlock thing, but humor me and say you didn't see the 7(s) right away. (That, by the way, is a hint.)

This batch (#4-8) will be available on September 12th. And together with the first three they'll make up 8/18, or 4/9, or 0.444444, or almost half of the image that puzzles together along the spines. And all of them have book club/discussion questions inside. 

In case you missed last week's post, or haven't seen the flurry of giveaways I've been doing elsewhere online, I hope you'll jump in and have some fun trying to win copies of the new editions. I'm doing a Free Book Friday, Get-1-Give-1 drawing each week through summer (and probably to the end of the year if I can get organized enough to coordinate it while I'm on the upcoming September/October tour for Wild Bird).

So go find me on Twitter and Instagram (@WendelinVanD) and visit the Sammy Keyes (books) Facebook page. You can enter at all three places to increase your chances of having your name drawn. Plus you'll get to see a different "Sammy Square" each week, which is a lot of fun in and of itself. (I love how they remind me of what Sammy went through in each book.) I'll give you a sneak peek at next week's because that's what I do here, right?

And last, but certainly not least, the results of last week's blog giveaway!

(Drum roll, please...)

Psst! Did you notice the background cloth?
Randomly selected by good ol' names-drawn-from-an-actual-hat technique, the winner of two copies each of the first three new issue Sammys is...JESSICA, who identified her favorite Sammy scene as being from the pirate date from Dead Giveaway.

Can I get a chorus of "Billy Pratt!"?

Amen.

Congrats to Jessica (please email me your mailing address), and to those of you who didn't win (or didn't check in last week), we will do it again sometime! Meanwhile, try your luck over on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 

See you in the comments!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Easy-Peasy Giveaway!

Giveaway time! If you follow me on social you know I've started a giveaway where every Friday throughout summer we draw a winner who receives two copies of a new Sammy Keyes edition.

If you didn't know that and want to join in, separate giveaways are happening:

1) at the Sammy Keyes (books) Facebook page

2) on Twitter @WendelinVanD

3) on Instagram at @WendelinVanD.


It's super easy to throw your name in the mix, so I encourage you to enter everywhere to increase your chances of winning.

And now, here, for my faithful blog followers, I'm offering up two copies of the first three Sammys - one set for you, one for a friend.  ('Cause you guys are awesome 😊.)

All you have to do is tell me your favorite scene from any Sammy Keyes book (no spoilers, please!). Describe it in brief in the comments below, and you are entered. Easy-peasy!

In addition to the six (2x3) Sammys, I'll also send the winner one of the hardcover mysteries that I received while serving on the 2016 Edgar committee (young adult category).

So enter here, and everywhere, and happy summer reading!

Next week: I'm planning to share new art from the next batch of Sammys which release on Sept 12th. They're wonderful, and the hidden numbers are super fun.

Have a great week. See you in the comments!