Big Success

I wonder sometimes if John Steinbeck sat around obsessing about whether or not F.Scott Fitzgerald had more twitter followers than he did. Or if more people added his book on goodreads. But I jest, because these weren’t the problems of authors even twenty years ago, much less fifty.

And they don’t have to be a consideration for authors today either, except that they kind of do. Children’s authors (YA included) have a huge social media network including twitter, tumblr, blogs, and probably a whole lot more I’m unaware of because I’m not young or techy enough. (Full disclosure; when my students use a noun as a verb or a verb as a noun, I generally keep quiet and  assume they’re talking about something on the interwebz.) A social media presence is pretty much an expectation for authors trying to reach a younger audience.

And it’s not all bad. Being part of social networks as an author can be an incredible community builder and a great networking and promotional tool. It’s also a slippery slope for the green-eyed monster. You have instant access to everyone’s book deals, promotions, festival appearances, etc.  And because you have that access you have the ability to compare yourself and your success to that of everyone else in the kidlitosphere. Not so helpful.

What I would like to share this evening is the best piece of feedback I’ve gotten since my book hit the shelves just a few weeks ago. It comes from a friend who sent me this email about her teenage son who was reading my book. And it reminded me of why writing and telling stories is so powerful and so important to me.

“I heard my son laughing to himself up in his room tonight on my way up to say good night and saw that he was reading your book. As I walked toward his bed he looked up from the book with a huge grin and said, “How did she write this? It’s like…she knows what boys think..how does she know what it’s like?”.”

And that my friends is big success – suck it F. Scott.

Book Launch Party -things I said and did.

The book launch party was a blast. I’m so grateful to everyone who came out -I think we had fun! And to Chris and Bill and everyone at Longfellow Books who helped make this happen. And yes, that was my mother scraping the poster with my face on it off the front of your store so she could keep it -more on her later.

So many friends, colleagues, former colleagues, cousins, former roommates, teachers, students and of course family. I read two short pieces from the book. One as reader’s theater with the incomparable Liz Hardcastle who was not at all  intimidated by the three pages of notes on her intonation that I gave her, and one on my own. Afterwards I was so excited to be done I tried to grab a cupcake and run. But then there was my mother -who stood up (I’m not making this up or exaggerating) and demanded that I answer some questions. Because being a mother is never done and sometimes when your kid tries to turn and flee you have to stop her.

“Was I too obtrusive?” she asked later. We all know what the right answer is don’t we? In all seriousness, I couldn’t be more grateful. Everyone had incredible questions and answering them turned out to be my favorite part. Because I was talking about something I love with people I love.

 

So many of you who aren’t lucky enough to live in Maine have been so supportive -posting pictures of the book as it arrives at your door and sharing your excitement as you read it. Everyone of those messages is like a big old hug and makes me feel even more blessed. I’d like to share with you what I said as an introduction on Thursday night -so it can be just like you were there. That and a few photos.

Thanks for the love.

          The only thing I knew when I was seventeen and applying to college was that I wanted something different from high school and didn’t include fraternities or sororities –which seemed to me at the time like an extension of everything I disliked about high school.

            My tour guide at Oberlin College was named Bony. He was a very large, purple haired gay, dance major from the Philippines. And I remember thinking to myself as he toured us through a student cooperative where the people threw food at us –if this guy can be comfortable here to be himself, I’ll have no problem.

            I ended up living in that very same cooperative my sophomore year. My roommate and I were far and away the preppiest people to live there, maybe ever. But, And, I loved it. I loved being a part of something that seemed so dangerously different from everything I’d been told  was important about being a grown up. The Other Way Around is a little bit of a love letter to that experience. It’s about finding a group of people that make you feel at home, even if they are very different from you and everything you’ve known before.  

            I don’t pretend to live some radical anarchist vegan lifestyle. I never have and probably  never will. But I know that it’s out there. I have sat through a conversation where people argued about whether or not eating honey was exploiting the labor of the bees. And somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I was taking notes, probably with a bemused look on myself. Someday, I must have told myself, this will be useful to you.

            I am so grateful that you are all here tonight to celebrate me and The Other Way Around. It really means everything that you’re here to share in the story and the sharing of the story. Because, as Lance who frequently accuses me of embellishing the truth for the sake of comic timing can attest to, or my parents who made constant trips to the library or book store know, I do love a good story.

3, count them, 3 kinds of themed cupcakes! Courtesy of Liz Hardcastle baking goddess!

3, count them, 3 kinds of themed cupcakes! Courtesy of Liz Hardcastle baking goddess!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chatting and having a grand old time. Yes we wear hats indoors -it's Maine.

Chatting and having a grand old time. Yes we wear hats indoors -it’s Maine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading aloud with Liz!

Reading aloud with Liz!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mother -I told you I wasn't making this up. Love you mom.

My mother -I told you I wasn’t making this up. Love you mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hooray!!!!!

Hooray!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by the fabulous Travis Gray!

Happy Book Birthday To Me!

Yesterday I stood up in front of 800 middle school students and told them I would not show them the dance I did when I learned that my book would be published because, well, they don’t know what “the running man” is and that’s best for everyone.

Readathon 3

Today my book is in the world  -like really in the world and that is very exciting. It’s exciting mostly because I have an excuse to celebrate with my wonderful friends and family here. It’s exciting because awesome readers like Lucy at The Reading Date will write really cool reviews that make me feel known and understood as a writer. And that is really cool and different from your friends and family reading your book and knowing you as a writer (which is also very cool).

Yesterday I stood in front of 800 middle school students and told them that the first line of my book is “When do girls fart?” As you might imagine, this got a good reaction. Including the one from my principal who was standing in the back and shook her head and gave me a little eye roll and a warm grin. “Oh Sashi,” her eyes said.

A student asked me somewhat skeptically. “What made you think to write a story about people who are dumpster divers?” I could tell from the way he asked the question that this was one of the weirdest most unlikely things he could think of to write or even think about. So I said something along the lines of , “Just you wait. The world is even weirder and wackier than you could imagine and it’s full of stories  that are too strange to be believed.” And I felt lucky that I could tell someone about a book that I wrote that maybe, just maybe might expand someone’s ideas about what it means to be an adult.

In the mean time, until you can rip into your brand-spanking new copy. I offer you this.


Hungry for more?

Book birthday interview here!

Super Power interview with Jodi Meadows here!

Win The Other Way Around and read another interview  with Valerie Cole here!