Sunday, December 07, 2008

Stick to the script!

Memorizing my speech feels a lot like running lines back when I used to do children's theater. Only this time I won't have to wear a blonde wig and facial hair (I was Buffalo Bill in Annie Get Your Gun one year---there's no business like show business).

I'm still ridiculously nervous, but the more I remember of my speech the better I feel about it. It probably doesn't give off the image of unmovable professionalism that I should probably be trying for, but heck...I'd rather be real and honest on here. And hey, I'll still be a basket of raw nerves on Tuesday afternoon, but hopefully I can at least do as well as I did in those musicals. I was always a bit stiff, but I never forgot my lines or blocking.

Oh boy, though. If this is anything like theater, that means the forgotten-lines nightmares are going to make an appearance. Fun is!

I'll leave you with this image: me (tall, brown hair, slightly awkward, baby face) wearing gray face paint, a shiny silver jumpsuit and a funnel on my head. If anyone can guess what that costume was, I'll send them an ARC of something fun.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Editor's First Acquisition: Preparing for Focus

This weekend I'm preparing myself (both mentally and emotionally) for our Fall 2009 Focus Meeting, which is where we introduce key sales folks to our list. I'll be presenting Hate List, as well as one of my boss's titles, and I am EXTREMELY nervous.

I'm not sure where the nerves come from. I regularly go to karaoke with some of my friends and colleagues and I love to sing. When I have a microphone in my hands, I might get a little nervous, but there is also a confidence. An "I can do this" surge that rushes through me. But giving a speech, even one that's only 1-minute long, is not singing. I think it's mostly a mentality. I was nervous when I first started doing karaoke, but the more and more I did it and saw positive reactions from everyone there, the more confident I got and the better I got. So maybe that's all I need for this---to do it a few times and see that I'm not bad at it, get more confident, and soon I'll be speechifying with the best of them. But for now, it feels like there is fire pumping through my veins and I can't wait until it's over.

I am excited to present Hate List to a wider audience though. Until now, the only folks who have read the manuscript are the people who work directly on the book (the designer, the copyeditor), the people who read it when we were buying it (the publications committee and a few editorial readers) and me. So to be able to share "my first" with more people is just so exciting. Terrifying, but exciting. I'm so proud of this novel and what a great job the author did, and I'm excited for more people to discover her---just like I discovered her---and fall in love with this book.

And they'll get to see the cover too, which I am glad was approved in time to make it into the powerpoint slide. It evokes such a great response and completely matches the gritty, emotional feeling of the book and it'll provide a great visual backup while I'm presenting.

So now, back to my speech. My boss suggested I read it 40 times to myself and then practice 20 times in front of the mirror. On Monday, I'll be practicing in front of her and I want to have this mostly memorized by that point. Wish me luck! And of course, I'll let you all know how it goes once it's over.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

An editor's first acquisition - blog series | Cover Approved

Ya know, it's funny -- I post about not knowing what to blog about and then it occurs to me that I had the perfect opportunity this year to post something really interesting. I acquired my first two books this year and one of them (Hate List by Jennifer Brown) has already finished being edited and is working its way through the design process. How interesting would that have been, if only I had thought about it? An editor's first acquisition, step by step.

Well it's not over yet. We still have to make it to publication. So I'll be sure to come back and update when there are things to share. That'll be my first step toward making this blog something worth reading. I'll also start at the beginning and post a few "blogs from the past" to catch you up.

But right now, I have the first update. A very exciting day. Today the designer took his cover ideas to our jacket committee meeting. Jacket committee consists of key people in sales, marketing, publicity, design, editorial, and the publisher and they look at the cover ideas, discuss their thoughts, likes, dislikes, etc. and either approve a cover/sketch or give feedback to move forward. My boss and I had met with the designer, the awesome Mr. Dave Caplan, previously and he had shown us three ideas. While they were all amazing, one direction resonated with me more than the rest and I immediately said so. It turned out that it was his favorite as well. Luckily the jacket committee agreed and it was approved.

Now, my boss had told me not to get my hopes up. The folks on the committee are very opiniated and for good reason---they know books and they want to do what is best for each title. But it was too late at that point. I had my hopes WAY up. It didn't help that I had a copy of the concept hanging in my cube to look over at since before Thanksgiving. So now I feel like melting. Adrenaline is rushing through my veins and my head feels light. I'm so excited that another milestone has been passed for my first acquisition. And I can't wait to share the cover with the outside world. I have no idea when that can be, but I'm sure I need to wait until the catalog and ARCs comes in (March). At the very least I have to wait until I share it with the author and agent. But as soon as I'm able, you know it'll be up here.

Now I must get back to work. Title factsheets AND catalog copy are both due by end of day today and there is a Longstockings get-together I don't want to miss. Meanwhile, my heart is going out to anyone who received bad news today. Layoffs suck and while it seems like our company is safe at the moment, to hear about stuff like this happening in an industry that feels more like family than work is disheartening and sad for all of us.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Years Resolution

I know it's only a few days after Thanksgiving, but I've been thinking a lot about what I want for this blog in the new year. Things have been very busy lately. My boss has been making some really newsworthy deals, and I've been working with her on projects as well as on my own. And I've made some blog promises that I have not kept. For one, I said that I'd blog about Breaking Dawn and I never did. Not that I didn't want to, but I thought it might be a conflict of interest, since, ya know, I work at the publishing company. And even though I was a fan of Twilight before I got my editorial job, I didn't want to say anything that might get me in trouble.

That's one thing that's plagued me a bit with this blog. I'm used to having a heavily filtered personal blog, where I can write about whatever I want and no one sees it unless I say so. This is a different animal for me and the fear of repurcussions has been a deterrent. So that's one thing I want to figure out for 2009 -- what do I want from this blog and what kind of content do I want to post that people will want to read. I love interacting with the children's lit blog community, but I'm not really contributing at this point. So what I want to do is revamp what I post here so that it gives people a reason to come back and read.

So what I want to ask is for those people who are still reading this to throw out some suggestions on weekly content they'd like to see here. I'll also be picking up the book
No One Cares What You Had For Lunch: 100 Ideas For Your Blog, which was suggested to me by lovely agent Kate Schafer Testerman. So for those who are seeing this, don't give up on me yet. I'm still around.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Book and Video about Name Transitioning

Well I've been quite lazy/busy/emotionally drained, so I've been procrasting on writing the posts I promised you all. But for now, I wanted to pop on here and share some great news that has recently come up. I acquired my second book at work! Well -- co-acquired. It was a joint acquisition with my wonderful colleague, Julie. Here's the announcement:

Transparent author Cris Beam's J, about a female-to-male transgender teen as he begins to live as a boy and comes to terms with what it means to be trans and Puerto Rican in New York City, to Julie Scheina and T.S. Ferguson at Little, Brown Children's, for publication Spring 2010, by Amy Williams of McCormick & Williams Literary Agency (world).

And since it (sort of) relates and because I just watched it, I wanted to post this video. It's by a trans guy named Meiko Xavier whose videos I really enjoy watching (and who is SUPER cute!). This one is titled Social Difficulties with Name Change, which is something I can really relate to, despite not being trans myself.

Going from "Tom" to "T.S." was a difficult struggle, only made easier by my move to New York (wow, has it really been 5 years since I transitioned to T.S.?) and despite most people referring to me as such, I still have a lot of trouble with family members and a few friends (well, one stubborn friend in particular). So I can strongly relate to the topic in this video.

Enjoy! And stay tuned - I'll try to be diligent about coming back and actually posting one or more of the posts I promised last time...eventually.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My boss

I've been planning on writing a few posts lately, but unfortunately my energy has been on other things (reading mostly, including Stephenie Meyer's latest, Breaking Dawn). But I am planning the following posts, once I gather my thoughts and shake off the sleep debt I've been accumulating:

*The manuscript that got away (alternate title: passing isn't fun for the editor either)
*Bella Swan: bad role model or is everyone just jaded?
*Breaking Dawn and why I loved it

In the meantime, I wanted to share something special with whoever's out there reading this. My boss, Jennifer Hunt, was featured in Publishers Weekly's 50 under 40 a few weeks ago, so I thought I'd post the link and show off. This woman is an incredible role model for me to be learning under and I find myself feeling lucky almost every single day that I am working for her. I know, I'm a cheesy ball of mush---but that's just how I roll, people. And the best part is, she doesn't read many publishing industry blogs, so I can gush about her without feeling like I'm sucking up. So here's the article:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spiderwick on DVD

I haven't updated in a while. Things have been a bit crazy. I've been reading like mad at work, trying to respond to as many submissions as possible while giving each of them the attention and consideration they deserve. I haven't written anything novelly yet either, since I told myself I'd take some time off until I felt I had submission reading under control (and that was a LONG time ago). I should be in bed right now, but I did have one thing I wanted to say.

For those who aren't aware -- The Spiderwick Chronicles is out on DVD. Now that you know, you need to run out and buy or rent this movie. It is, I must say, THE BOMB! And yes, that's my professional evaluation. I am a proud owner of a lovely widescreen edition and just had to spread the love.

Now to collapse into a coma -- until tomorrow, when I shall return to much reading. Goodnight, dear readers.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I saved someone's life last night.

I was at a rooftop party thrown by some of my friends and a mutual friend started to choke on a hamburger. The hostess screamed for someone to give her the heimlich, and then picked me out of the crowd (she told me later it was because I was the biggest guy and so would be strong enough, or at least stronger than her) and screamed for me to help her. I was FREAKING OUT but I gave her the heimlich until that burger was out.

The thing that was going through my mind at the time was mostly worry that I would hurt her. I mean, you're basically punching the person in the stomach from behind. But Fear of Someone Dying Because You Couldn't Save Them completely trumps Fear of Hurting Someone. It was a really scary moment but it all turned out OK. The girl was embarrassed afterward, but recovered nicely. We laughed about it a little later, and then bonded over Degrassi (which only happens to be one of THE BEST teen shows on TV).

So that was my night last night. I got home close to 3AM and crashed. Gotta take it easy today, since this coming week is my birthday week and I have LOTS of fun planned! WOO!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Exclusive Submissions

I should be reading, but I wanted to pop on here for a minute because I just remembered another piece of advice I wanted to give to any unagented authors out there who are trying to get their book published.

Unless the publisher or the editor's submission guidelines specifically say they will only take exclusive submissions, DO NOT send them your submission exclusively!

Now, I believe this is different for agents, so don't carry it over to the other side of querying, but this is something I saw recently and it shocked me. Sending an editor an exclusive submission when it's not required is unfair to you. It's a major time suck. Why should you sit around waiting for me to get around to reading your project, all the while not sending it to other editors who might read it faster? Especially if you're sending to editors at a company like mine, that works mainly with agented submissions and only takes unagented submissions under special circumstances (see previous posts). Oftentimes, you're going to have to wait for us to get through a decent amount of the agented stuff before we can legitimately get to yours, and why should you wait for us?

In my opinion, only an agent should be sending exclusive submissions. They have a relationship with the editors, so they know who will love what and will give them an exclusive because they want that project with that editor and think they will love the project enough to potentially make a swift and solid offer. They have easy access to that editor for following up, and they know the industry well enough to give a reasonable amount of exclusivity (two weeks, sometimes one).

So if you're sending your project out to publishers and it's not required, don't send exclusively. Because when you get interest or an offer from an editor at one house, that will give you leverage to follow up with the other editors who are taking their time and let them know there is a reason to hurry up and respond, and they may give you a higher offer. They may still decline, but they would've anyway and now you have your answer quicker, as well as interest or an offer from a house that actually got back to you within a reasonable amount of time.

And again, agents are different. Maybe one of them can comment on this post and explain why this is and how submitting to agents in regards to this.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mass Markets - the red-headed stepchild of the industry?

Before I start talking about mass markets, I just wanted to plug my last post one more time. Only two people commented, so if you have something (anything) to say about submissions, from an editor/agent or author (published or not) perspective, please comment and/or refer people to the post.


Now, I wanted to discuss the subject of the mass market format because, from the day I entered my first publishing master's class (all those years ago) I have been given the impression that mass markets are the lowest of the low, red-headed stepchild, underbelly of the publishing industry. This makes me sad because, well, I'm a stepchild who has an appreciation for redheads and, well, I love mass market books. And not just the format itself, but as a reader I tend to go for the type of books (usually dark urban fantasy) that start out in mass market.

I've heard a ton of disparaging remarks. I had a friend once who, when asked why she didn't read mass markets, responded with, "because I like to read books that are well-written." Needless to say, I was incredibly insulted and said so. Where had she gotten this notion that mass markets weren't well-written? So I, in my indignant rage, made her read some of my favorite mass markets. Vintage Anita Blake, Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, one of the first Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. Within a month, she was hooked and was making her own discoveries -- Sherrilyn Kenyon, MaryJanice Davison -- and cruising on past the more well-known names to discover authors and subgenres that I had never heard of. Now I can't vouch for the quality of the writing in everything she found, but I opened up a whole new world of reading for her. She still loves books by authors like Sarah Dessen (one of her favorites) or Michael Chabon who are published in hardcover, but she can now appreciate the mass market world. In a way, I feel like that was a gift that I gave her (wow what a cheesy and arrogant thing for me to say).

Somewhere else, I saw someone say something along the lines of, "why would you ever want to have your mass markets autographed?" As if it almost wasn't worth meeting the author and having them personalize the book you had loved so much if it wasn't in a "better" format.

Now I'm aware of the realities. Mass markets are not as good in terms of production quality. The paper is not as nice as its larger counterparts, it falls apart easier, it's cheaper and therefore more expendable/replaceable. But mass markets also give publishers the opportunity to give a shot to some authors who they might not otherwise be able to afford. Because mass markets are cheaper, it's a great place to debut an author, especially in a genre like fantasy, and see how they are received on the market. If they sell well and continuously, they will eventually be released in hardcover as well. Many of the authors I've mentioned above have made this transition. This is such a great plan, and I am so glad for it because otherwise, some of our favorite authors may never have been given a chance. So what's with the negative MM vibe in the air? Where did this come from and when will it end?

Clearly there's a lot that could be said about mass markets. In fact, I almost wish I could go back in time to those graduate school days and change my thesis topic to this very subject. But then I would never have written that L. Frank Baum/Wizard of Oz retrospective, which helped me get my job. Oh bother -- too much paradox. But I'd love to get a good discussion going on mass markets and general thoughts on the subject in general. Mass markets -- how do you feel?

And again, feel free to link me and refer others who can contribute to the discussion. I tend to lean toward HUGE posts and that can deter people from reading, so I'm trying not to do that. But if we can get people to contribute in the comments, that would be great.

ETA: I just wanted to throw in a quick edit to add that, in case it wasn't obvious, I love mass markets and think there are MM authors who write just as well as HC/TP authors. I was having a few moments of terror wondering whether I made that clear and hoping I hadn't implied something offensive, since I've been telling people to "go check out my new blog post about MM books." LOL!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My opinion on submissions and The Fear

I was talking to the lovely Betsy Bird last night (that's Ms. Fuse #8 for those who don't know her secret identity) and my lack of blogging came up. More to the point, I was told to blog. HAHAHA! And if you're smart, you know you must do as The Fuse tells you. ;-)

No, but really the reason I haven't been blogging much lately is what I like to call The Fear. It's subconscious, it's hellish, and it will stunt your growth (as a blogger). The Fear is that feeling of angst that one gets when thinking about blogging, a sense of worry that somehow you will end up fired or missing out on some sort of growth opportunity because you said the wrong thing. Sure you can avoid The Fear by posting smartly, but it still lives inside your head. But I don't want to let The Fear control my blogging and frankly, I'm sick of only vent-blogging over in my super-secret blog, so here I am with an actual topic.

I'm a Watch-and-Comment member over at Fangs, Fur and Fey, a dark, urban fantasy community on LiveJournal (which means I can't start a topic -- that is reserved for the published authors -- but I can read and discuss in the comments section). There is a great crowd over there, a mix of authors (published and not), editors, readers, and other sub-groups I am sure I don't even know about. I usually mostly read and don't comment, but the other day, someone posted a topic that sparked my interest enough to comment, and then it came up in conversation with Ms. Fuse last night, so I thought it would be a good first post to help combat The Fear.

The original post is here - and I wanted to speak on my own preferences as an editor, when receiving a manuscript for consideration. Obviously I can only speak for myself and what I've heard and experienced from colleagues both in-house and at other companies (so basically trade publishing houses), but I thought it could be helpful. But there are A LOT of rules out there, not all of which matter, so I'm going some things that I'm going to list the things that I DO NOT recommend doing when sending in a submission.

First things first -- most of the rules floating around out there are probably outdated, rumor, or specific to a particular house (or possibly migrated over from some type of lit mag). I'm a strong believer in breaking the rules when there doesn't seem to be a logical reason to follow them and so I say (and keep reading for some exceptions) THROW OUT THE RULES! The exceptions -- the first page of your manuscript should have your full name, the title of your book and your contact information on it. The rest of your pages should be paginated and have your last name and the book title in the header or footer. 1" margins are always good, and it should be obvious that you should check your grammar and spelling and be sending in the cleanest manuscript possible, but other than that, there's nothing else I can think of as a MUST-HAVE (and of course, other editors should feel free to comment below and add anything I might have missed, or that applies to their house). We don't care how far down on the page your first chapter starts, or whether your chapters are named or just numbered. That stuff is unimportant for the first stage.

Overall, the best advice I can give is to check each publisher's submission guidelines. They will give you all the rules you need to apply to that specific house. Not only will they help you put together the best package to submit for our consideration, but if you DON'T follow those rules, it shows us that you are someone who either doesn't take direction well or who doesn't care, and it helps that house single out the writers who can act professional.

Some things you shouldn't do (read: my griping)

*Your font should match your novel. As I said in the comments on Fangs, Fur, and Fey, I would never decline a project based solely on the font. I hate Courier. I think it's ugly and many editors I've spoken with have agreed. And I've probably fallen in love with some manuscripts that were presented in Courier. But it is just another hurdle for the editor to get past while reading, and if they have trouble reading because of the font, they could mistake that as a lack of interest on their part or a pacing issue.

By all means, if Courier fits your project, use it. And if the font that best matches your novel is unreadable and filled with curly, girly lettering, DON'T use it. Readability and presentation are both important. When in doubt, Times New Roman and Arial are both fairly safe to use. They're presentable and readable without being atrociously ugly.

*For the love of god, please paginate your manuscript. It's not detrimental, but it can be a pain in the neck, and if I accidentally drop your manuscript and have to figure out where each page goes by reading the first and last line on every page, I'm not going to be happy and that's not going to help me love your project.

*Don't be sneaky, sketchy or a liar. Because of my company's policies, the editors here usually only see unagented projects from writers who have attended our conference events or who we've sought out on our own. If you didn't attend one of our events, don't send your manuscript in and say that you heard about our event or saw that we had attended the same conference. That's being sneaky. Also being sneaky -- if we say you request queries and you send the first three chapters, or if we request the first three chapters and you send your full. Sure, that makes you stick out in the slush pile, but it makes you stick as out someone who doesn't listen to our request, and that causes disgruntled feelings.

Also, please don't send your full manuscript and say "you requested to see my full manuscript" if we didn't. If I requested your full manuscript, I am going to remember you and if you are not one of those people, I am going to know. That's being a liar.

*It doesn't matter if you use a rubber band or a binder clip or a paper clip or a staple (though that last is a pain in the neck, frankly). That's not important. But please bind your pages together somehow so that when I take them out of the envelope, they aren't flopping all over the place, and so I don't have to go hunting for a paperclip.

*In general, if I haven't requested material from you, it's not in your best interest to send me something. Unsolicited queries and manuscripts get automatically given to the department assistant and/or intern, who will then send your materials back to you with a form letter stating our company policy. That's a waste of postage and why would you want to do that to yourself? And trust me -- nothing you say is going to change our minds because we're not even really reading the cover letter. We're skimming it to see if it says SCBWI or one of the other conferences we've attended, or to see if it is from someone we actually have met. But if that info isn't included, it goes in the pile.

*Likewise, if I have requested something from you or you attended an event I was at, please be sure to write that on the envelope and/or in the cover letter. Preferably in big letters on the envelope. If I don't know that you are sending your stuff to me for a reason, I won't know to hold onto it and read it.

*Be aware of what I'm looking for and don't send me something that I'm not looking for -- even if you attended a conference event that I attended, if you send me something I have no interest in, you're wasting your time. For example, I am not a fan of sports books, non-fiction, or (most) historical fiction. I usually will say that at conferences. If you send me a sports book, it's getting declined. I have a colleague who is very specific about the types of picture books she does and does not like. So if you're sending to her and she has said "I don't like x, y and z" and your picture book falls into that category, you're wasting her time as well as your own time and money. I know it's tempting to say, "well maybe I could just try..." or "maybe once they read it..." but the odds of that happening are slim to none and are more likely that we'll get frustrated that you're sending us something we aren't interested in. There's a reason we said we weren't interested and we're saying it so you won't be misled or confused about what to send us.

With agents it's different because they know us and we can usually pass agented projects to a colleague who would be more appropriate. But that isn't a reality when it comes to unagented projects, no matter how nice you are or how sweet and/or professional you are in your cover letter.

I'm sure there's more, but that's all from me for now. This is not new info. It's all out there already. But if posting this can help one person from wasting postage or missing an obvious error, then it did its job. Please discuss! I want to hear from other editors in the comments section and if there are questions from writers out there, I want to hear those too. Make me interact with my blog more, so I have more reasons to come back and update more often.

And now, I'm off to see a friend who just moved back from being out of state for a few months (I know -- what was she thinking?). We're going (what else) book shopping! WOO!

Next up - a discussion on mass markets and their reputation. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I bought a book!

Well, it's been announced and many a friend has emailed to congratulate me, so I suppose it's safe to share this news with all of you now too.

Earlier this month, I made my first acquisition. It's such an exciting thing for me to proclaim and I almost feel a little guilty that I'm still mentioning it (even though I specifically waited to post it until I knew it was out there in the world). The floaty feelings have been coming in and going out every so often (usually when a new person mentions it and asks me about it). As giddy as I've been, I've been trying to maintain a level of professionalism amidst the glee. We mustn't make ourselves unworthy of such an accomplishmen, whilst celebration said accomplishment.

So for those who haven't heard and are interested in what I bought, here is the announcement:

April 9, 2008
Children's: Young Adult
Jennifer Brown's debut HERO, an emotionally charged story of alienation in the aftermath of a tragic school shooting, told from the point of view of the shooter's girlfriend, who is equal parts hero, victim and unwitting accomplice, to T.S. Ferguson at Little, Brown Children's, at auction, by Cori Deyoe at 3 Seas Literary Agency.

It's such an amazing book and I fell instantly in love with it. I am lucky to have such great mentors, especially my wonderful boss, who guided me in the right direction when I came in on a Monday and said, "I just read this and I HAVE to have it!" It's also a testament to networking. I had never met the agent who was representing this project. She was referred to me by another agent who I had met, and who I had developed a connection with. It was such a great combination of good project, good timing, good connections, fast readers, and good advice. And now I get to work on this project that I love so much, and my mind is already wandering to all of the great things I can do for it beyond the editing process. Who can I query for blurbs, what comp titles should I read, what will the cover look like.

It's a great feeling, and of course a little scary. But mostly great. And I wanted to share it all with you, my friends and readers (who should feel free to comment so I know who is out there -- I'm not sure who still reads this now that I've been MIA for a while).

Stay tuned for more coming up. There are a few discussion points I wanted to post about, but haven't had the chance to yet. Those will be coming up and they will encourage commenting, so keep your eyes peeled.

Monday, April 07, 2008

PLA 2008 - Minneapolis

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Public Library Association's 2008 Conference in Minneapolis, so I thought I'd share with all of you.

Now, I had been to ALA Midwinter in Philly, so I knew what to expect from the conference, but I have only flown twice before (round trip to Florida to visit my aunt) so I was a little nervous about that. Luckily I was on the same flight as our lovely Library Marketing Manager, Victoria Stapleton (gotta give her a shout-out) and she walked me through the whole security thing and all the scary-new stuff.

Once we were on the plane, we were separated, but that was totally fine because I had brought a book to read. An adult book (ooooooooh) which I knew I would never get to read if I didn't bring it. It was Blind Fall by the wonderful Christopher Rice. I'm such a huge fan of his work and this one did not disappoint. Not my favorite of his four books, but still very good nonetheless.

Once we arrived in Minneapolis, it was a work-extravaganza. I was lifting boxes and moving tables and building pretty stacks of Advance Reader Copies. But ya know what -- I had a blast. Victoria is so sharp and hilarious, which our authors know full well from their times with her, and which I knew as well, but appreciated experiencing on a whole new level.

We were there Tuesday through Friday and it was really wonderful to be able to walk around and see all the books that everyone has coming up. Because I had been to ALA, I recognized a lot of them, but I was still able to get some freebies that I hadn't been able to get in January.

One of the highlights of the conference was making friends with the Hyperion folk in the booth across the way, Angus and Hallie. They helped make the week very memorable, adding to the hilarity that was ever-present in our general booth area and teaching me many things about library shows. And they were hosting a signing with Brian Selznick, which was pretty cool too. I went over and introduced myself and got a book signed. Very exciting. Also exciting was meeting and attending a fantabulous dinner with Victoria, my new Hyperion friends, some exceptional library folk from Penguin, and Jon Scieszka. Who is also hilarious. I suppose I should note that EVERYONE was hilarious at PLA. I mean, seriously, children's book people (and maybe library folk especially) have a GREAT sense of humor. And I was total taken in by it all. Very good times.

It was nice to also find time to hang out with my friend Mike, who is also a library marketing person. We grabbed drinks on Thursday night after all the craziness had died down. And after I had treated myself to some fondue at a nearby restaurant. And let me tell you -- eating alone, outside of New York, at a NORMAL, non-dinery restaurant. It feels WEIRD! But the food more than made up for it.

Anyway, good times all around. This post was somewhat scattered. This is what happens when I wait too long to blog about things I need to blog about...and when I take a break from doing work to blog without letting my brain take a break as well...and when I'd rather be listening to music from Disney's Enchanted. It's great! If you haven't seen it, go rent it right now!

Ok so that's it for my ramble. Stay tuned for more coherent posts and some good news that I'm waiting for the right time to share.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name

I've always hated my name. My real name, that is. Ever since I was little boy, I would cook up new names for myself. At one point I wanted to change my name to Trent Archer because I thought that just sounded like the coolest name EVER. It got worse when I got to high school and suddenly I went from Tommy to Tom. I hate being called Tom. Tom is my dad and I am not him. But somewhere around college I realized I couldn't just change my name. I had lived with it for 2 whole decades. Even if I could get everyone to call me something different, it would still feel weird to not

Then one night I was watching Mallrats in my dorm room and I thought, "I really love the main character's name (T.S.) and I wish I could change my name to that." It took a few seconds before I realized that my first and middle initial were T.S. And then I got REALLY excited. If I could get people to call me T.S. then I could change my name without really changing it. That would be GREAT!

Easier said than done. My closest college friend was STUBBORN! And we were practically attached at the hip. We were TomandShara or SharaandTom. So when she decided she wasn't calling me T.S., the rest of my friends didn't have much motivation. I stopped trying and eventually ended up in New York for grad school. And then one night while I was home for Christmas break, I watched Mallrats again and I realized...I'm in a new city, with new friends, practically a new life. I could be T.S. And thus started the transition. It wasn't easy, since I had already known these new friends for four months already as Tom. But as the second semester started, we made new friends who only knew me as T.S. And teachers called on me in class as T.S. And it just became the only name they heard in reference to me. Thus they were easy slates to clean. It took a little more effort with my older friends. Some of my closest friends have known me for over a decade and it wasn't so easy for them. But with a little tough love and stern repetitions of "that's not my name" they eventually got used to it. Though it was funny to see how visual memory came into play. They would call me T.S. fluently over the phone, but the minute they saw my face they instinctually reverted back to Tom. It took them a LONG time to transition. In fact, Jess still slips up maybe once a year. And Shara...well, she still refuses. But she's always been a stubborn one.
Anyway, all of that backstory (and I am the king of blathering backstory) is leading up to a point. The point is, I've worked so hard to establish this new name that I never foresaw that it would come with it's own can of worms. They're definitely worth dealing with, but I just think it is amusing that I wanted a more original name, a more memorable name, and it jumbles people up.

The first problem I ran into actually came about via celebrity. A friend from grad school had started an official fan club for Kristen Chenoweth (broadway star, Olive on Pushing Daisies) and I was able to go backstage and present her with a Valentine's Day card to let her know we had raised a ton of money in her name for the BC/EFA charity. She shakes my hand, leans in (and up, since I'm so tall) and says "T.S. how do you spell that?"

My jaw almost HIT THE FLOOR! I didn't know what to say. How did I answer this without making Kristen Chenoweth feel foolish, or without sounding snotty or impertinent. I looked at my friends and got blank stares, so I turned back to her and said, "Um...T period S period?" She laughed! "I thought it was something exotic, like T-i-a-s." She looked to my friends for approval and they just smiled and nodded. It was a good laugh for a while, and we chocked it up to a Cheno blonde moment. But it wasn't just her. A LOT of people have asked me if T.S. is a foreign name, or something exotic. Or they'll say, "wait, say that again" like they don't exactly get it. They're not alone.

I've found a good way of responding to this one after a few years of fumbling. I just say "like T.S. Eliot." If they still don't get it after that, I know I tried my best.

The other thing I get a lot are people calling me by different initials---which I'll say right now, I DO NOT understand. What part of me strikes ANYONE as a T.J.? Especially when T.S. is so distinct and random and (not that I planned it this way, but) literary. The other one I've gotten, which I REALLY don't get, is T.C. How people go to T.C. from T.S. I'll never understand, but it's happened more than once with different people.

And third, I get A LOT of people, especially through work and most especially via email, who seem to think I am being vague and just giving initials to be elusive, or who aren't sure if that is what they should call me (because in all likelihood, I could just be lazy and not want to write out my whole name). Those are the moments I feel most awkward and a little guilty, but I have to remind myself that not only am I signing T.S. to my emails, but my auto-signature says "T.S. Ferguson" in it, and my work email, which is first name.last name uses TS as well.

These are just little bumps in the road, little karmic bird poops for venturing away from my birth name. But they're all totally worth it, because now I love my name. I just think some of these things are amusing, given that I was plain old Tom for most of my life. I could've taken the easier course, but it wouldn't have been as fun.

That actually reminds me of Robert Frost. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference. Story of my freaking life.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Good Things Come to an End

I finished Godless over the weekend and am now moving on to Alex Rider #1, amongst a bevy of submissions that I want to get through this week. But Godless -- I really liked it. I thought the idea of a kid who is questioning his faith, in God and in the adult authority figures in his life, creating a new religion based around the town water tower. I love that it was the water tower. Water towers and underground tunnels and abandoned cabins in the woods always give me this feeling of adventure and parent-less mischief. Maybe because it brings me back to when I was a kid and I would explore all over my town with my friends, going into abandoned water pipes, under waterfalls, through random woods and over train tracks that cross ridiculous high over a very shallow river. So reading about these kids climbing a water tower, opening it up and swimming in brought me back.

I also really loved how each person in the religion took on a different personification. The zealot, the religious separatist, the person who only joined because they wanted to feel included. And then there's the main character, trying to keep order despite his ridiculous, made up rules for his ridiculous, made up religion. And I love how this plot is tied into the concept of faith and teens questioning their faith. This kid thinks religion is a sham, made up and followed by people who are clearly sheep. But then he makes up his own religion and people start following it like sheep, even though they all know it is completely made up. I love the mirroring and the thoughts if provokes.


In other news, the dating is over (at least with the one guy I was referring to in my most recent posts). He had everything I could've wanted...but there was no romantic spark. Try as I might, I just wasn't feeling it. So I broke it off tonight. It was painful. I know he liked me and he was a genuinely nice guy. I hate thinking that I hurt someone, even just a little bit. He was totally cool but I could hear the disappointment in his voice. It didn't feel good at all. But I know I did the right thing in the end -- it would've been worse if I had ignored it and ended up in a relationship with him, and then said something after months and months of dating. That wouldn't be good AT ALL.

So I'm fresh off of a book and fresh off of a boy. Time to start anew. Next stop Stormbreaker and on the guy front...we shall see.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Updates for the sake of updating

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
The Spiderwick Chronicles #1: The Field Guide by Tony DeTerlizzi and Holly Black
Godless by Pete Hautman (currently reading)

I just saw Juno last night. I was able to borrow a preliminary DVD copy from a friend. I really enjoyed it, mostly for Ellen Page. She's just phenomenal. But then, I knew that when I saw her as Kitty Pryde in the third X-Men movie. Also incredible was Jennifer Garner. I was shocked by how well she was able to portray a fragile and emotionally vulnerable infertile woman with just a look. I really believed she knew what it was like to not be able to conceive.

Some parts were eh. Jason Bateman, pretty as he is, was working with an underdeveloped character. Michael Cera, while good, played the same part he played in Arrested Development and, I'm scared to confirm, probably in Superbad too.

I gave this movie 4 out of 5 stars on Netflix, because I really did like it. There were parts I would've changed or expanded on, and maybe I'm blinded by my awe of Ellen Page, but I genuinely enjoyed watching.

Next from Netflix -- Ben 10, Season 1. Anyone seen? I <3>

I've been on two dates with Michael now and we're going on a third this weekend. It's tough dating someone who lives in NJ though, since it limits the time we have with each other. I don't get out of work until a certain time and he has to make sure he's on the last bus so time really matters. But we have fun and we have a lot in common, so things are going well so far. There was a minor bump in the road, which we had to have a conversation about, and yes I'm being vague, mostly out of respect for him and because I doubt people care about the dirty details (ok they're not really dirty but if you really want to know, email me).

I've been listening to Vanessa Carlton's recently released third CD (called Heroes and Thieves) a lot lately! I'm really enjoying it and there are some songs that are, as my best friend put it, "classic Vanessa." Check her out. If you enjoyed her first CD, you'll most likely enjoy this one.

I also acquired Natasha Bedingfield's new CD (Pocketful of Sunshine) and I have to say, I'm not thrilled with it at the moment. It seems to have a lot more hip-hop-lite (Natasha-style) and the rest of the songs just sound blah to me. I do enjoy Freckles but I'm not compelled to relisten to any of the tracks.

Next on my musical list is Jordin Sparks (from American Idol). My friend gave me a copy of her CD and I like the single (Tattoo). We'll see. She may be overshadowed by my purchase of the new Idina Menzel CD which just came out recently. I'm buying that once payday hits. WOOT!

Oh writing. Sometimes I think I have given up on my writing dream in lieu of my editing dream. Pursuing my editing career hasn't been easy, but I really wanted it and I got it. I really want to move my way up the editorial ladder, so I'm working my butt off for it.

Writing is similar. It's something that I want, that I know I'm good at, but it's a lot of hard work. But for some reason, I am blocked. I have story idea after story idea. I have AMAZING first chapters. I have great hooks. And then i just...don't write. Maybe I'm trying to force something that isn't meant to be quite yet. Blogging comes so natural to me. I can write flap copy and catalog copy and factsheet copy. But writing a novel continues to elude me. So maybe I need to take a sabbatical from that dream. Maybe the dream, wanting it so badly, putting all the expectation on myself to be an amazing writer...maybe it's stifling me. Maybe it's holding me back or putting too much pressure on me. So I'm just going to stop pushing so hard and maybe some day, when it's meant to be, it'll come to me. My writing group is not going to be happy. But hey, better that than end up like the Jack Torrance in The Shining.

So that's all for now. I've had some deep thoughts that I may or may not share, but those were the updates that were bugging me to come out, so here they are.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Once Upon A Time

Tonight, after karaoke, I bought my first Fables trade paperback and I think I'm love. For those not in the know, Fables is a graphic novel from Vertigo about characters of fairytale and classic fantasy legend (i.e. characters pulled from the public domain) who have been exiled from their Homeland and have created an underground community in New York City, with Old King Cole as their mayor-for-life and a bitchier, more bad-ass version of Snow White as his 2nd in command. Me likee!!

In other news, I'm trying to organize a group from work to go see the Spiderwick movie when it comes out. I'm ridiculously excited to see it. It is going to be AWESOME!

And tomorrow I have another date with Michael, who I mentioned previously. I guess that gives some indication as to how the first date went. I'm not one to kiss and tell, but I guess that says it all. ;-) We were originally going to have our second date this Wednesday, but I fell ill earlier in the week so we pushed it back. And we were actually going to do something during the day tomorrow but now we've pushed it back again, since he wanted to take me to a show his friend will be in. So dinner and a show in Williamsburg. Wish me luck (again) and pray for no rain.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Coffee Date

Since this blog is supposed to be about books, friendship and dating, I suppose I should blog about something other than books. On that note, I have a date tonight. It's a coffee date and I have to leave for it in a few minutes. I'm excited -- we seem to have a good amount in common. I'm also a little nervous, mostly because I don't date much. But we'll see how it goes. If we click, we click and I'll have more to share (though be forewarned, I will probably be very light on the details, for discretion's sake).

Off to coffee.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A goal list for 2008

I've been a bad blogger, mostly because I haven't had much to say lately. Well, and the things I've had to say have been kept behind the filter on my other (more private) blog. But every time I have a book nerdy blog idea, I inevitably return here to share it.

I was just reading my LJ friends list and realized I wanted to keep track of the books that are on the top of my list to read. It seems, with all the books flying around in the publishing industry, that it is easy to get sidetracked, and I read a pitiful amount of books in 2007. So here's a goal list. I'll check back throughout the year to see how I've done and I'm positive I'll read books that aren't on this list. But here are the ones that are on the top of my head as "must reads" for 2008 (with commentary).

*Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko -- I'm in the middle of this one right now. We're doing a book club at work for all of the junior members of the kid's department, so we can make sure we are in-the-know about all the hot books on the market lately. This month is Newbery winners and honors. This is my choice and I'm loving it so far.

*Godless by Pete Hautman -- This one is going to be my pick when we do NBA winners and nominees. I've already read a few: Sherman Alexie and Sara Zarr, obviously, Luna by Julie Anne Peters, Inexcusable by Chris Lynch and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson -- and I love them all. Godless looks REALLY good and I am sure I will enjoy it just as much as all the others.

*Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks -- This is just the type of boy-oriented middle-grade I know I'll love. I can't wait!

*Blind Fall by Christopher Rice -- I've loved all three of this author's previous (bestselling) works and his new one is coming out in March, so I'm really excited.

*Personal Demons by Kelley Armstrong -- one of my all-time favorite dark urban fantasy authors (though I think I hate the cover for this one). This is her latest Women of the Otherworld novel and it also comes out in March. YAY!

*Shadows Return by Lynn Flewelling -- one of my favorite high fantasy authors and she is coming out with the next book in her Nightrunner series, right around my birthday.

*Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child -- Preston and Child are two more of my favorite adult authors and I STILL haven't read their latest release. I feel awful, especially since I am also friends with their editor, but most of all I just want to know what happens before the next one comes out.

*Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan -- oh you know it!

*The Spiderwick Chronicles #1: The Field Guide by Tony DeTerlizzi and Holly Black -- I adore Holly Black and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be seeing the Spiderwick movie when it comes out, so I have to read the book first.

*Moon Called by Patricia Briggs -- I've been meaning to read the first book in this series for a while and now that a third has come out, I really feel the pressure. This seems very different from what I've seen in the dark urban fantasy genre, and that entices me.

*Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn -- The fourth book in the Kitty series, which is definitely a different spin on the typical dark urban fantasy novel. I love that Kitty is not an alpha-werewolf and I really enjoy her voice. Also edited by the same friend who edits Preston and Child.

*Demonata #5: Blood Beast by Darren Shan -- Love this author, love this series. Need to read this one so I can be ready for #6 when it comes out.

*Eighth Grade Bites: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer -- Middle-grade boy fiction + vampire. SO up my alley!

*Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti -- This book got put on my radar when Deb gave a great quote for Sherman Alexie's book (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian). I've wanted to read HBS ever since. I think 2008 is the time to do so.

*Pendragon #1: The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale -- This was going to be one of my final reads for 2007 but I didn't quite make it before New Year's. Then I lost steam. So this is a must-read for 2008. It also fits into that middle-grade boy-oriented type of stuff I really love.

I'm sure there are more but I didn't think this through before posting. There's a whole pile of books on my shelf at work that will probably need to be added once I'm there to remember them. But for now, that's that.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Books I've Read -- 2007

Ok, this is a pathetically short list but here are the books I reade in 2007.

I should mention that I only list books if I finish them, and for manuscripts, only if they are done being edited or close enough that they are pretty similar to what they'll be at publication.

I still feel pathetic that it is such a short list though
1. Magic’s Pawn, Mercedes Lackey
2. Magic’s Promise, Mercedes Lackey
3. Magic’s Price, Mercedes Lackey
4. Arrow’s Flight, Mercedes Lackey
5. Arrow’s Fall, Mercedes Lackey
6. Kitty Takes a Holiday, Carrie Vaughn
7. Sweethearts, Sara Zarr
8. Demonata #4: Bec, Darren Shan
9. Grave Surprise, Charlaine Harris
10. Crystal Doors: #3 Sky Realm, Rebecca Moesta & Kevin J. Anderson
11. The Enormous Egg, Oliver Butterworth
12. No Humans Involved, Kelley Armstrong
13. Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
14. Fanged & Fabulous, Michelle Rowen
15. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
16. Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer
17. The Golden Compass, Phillip Pullman
18. Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1: The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
19. Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2: The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan
20. Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3: The Titan’s Curse, Rick Riordan
21. Inexcusable, Chris Lynch
22. The Devouring: Sorry Night, (unsure of the author's name at this time)
23. Click Here (to find out how i survived seventh grade), Denise Vega
24. Access Denied (and other eighth grade error messages), Denise Vega
25. Holes, Louis Sachar
26. Gregor the Overlander, Suzanne Collins
27. Fortune’s Magic Farm, Suzanne Selfors
28. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg

The list is mostly chronological, except where I read books by the same author. In that case, I group them together and the first one is the only one that is chronologically accurate (for instance, I read Percy Jackson #3 and Arrow's Fall over the holiday break, but they are listed higher up. Mixed-up Files was, however, the last book I read in 2007.