Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Armchair BEA: Author Interactions

Armchair BEAGreetings! If you're visiting, you should know that I post a review of at least one middle grade book every day, and don't normally blog about much else except school library antics.

I wrote my first author letter in 1981, to John Cheever, and he actually replied. I wrote a few years later to Erich Segal, since we were both classics majors. It was a thrill to hear from both of them.

In 2002, I started sending the filled up circulation cards from books in my school library to authors, and for a while framed their replies. Donald Sobol, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Taylor, Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume all replied. That was always a thrill.

With all of the social media now, it's different. There are more interactions (like Jordan Sonnenblick being my Facebook friend and noticing when one of his books appears in my profile pic), but they are not necessarily of lesser quality. I do miss getting an envelope addressed to me in an author's own handwriting, but having David Carroll favorite my tweet of my dog riding on my bike is really just as fun. Just impermanent.

My first author interaction from my blog was actually very sad. I reviewed Janet McDonald's Chill Wind a month after I started blogging, before I really understood that random strangers could find and read my words. It's still not my favorite book, and the review is really what I felt, but I could have been nicer about it, especially since McDonald was so ill. This taught me to temper my comments and try to be constructive, which is why I list strengths and weaknesses of books. If I really don't like something, I just don't review it.

On the 8th grade trip to DC with my daughter, I ran into Tami Lewis Brown doing a book signing for Soar, Elinor, and when she signed a copy for my daughter (Eleanor!), my daughter said "Do you know EVERYONE in the world?" No, dear, just middle grade readers and writers!

Probably my very favorite author interaction was with Linda Gerber-- we carpooled to a Cupcake Party in Cleveland! She is a great author and so very dear. I also had a great moment with Rick Riordan's wife Becky-- I was a fan of The Lightning Thief early on, and when Maze of Bones came out, I complained about the trading cards in the cover. Becky followed my blog and sent me a library copy of the book and a t shirt! That was an awesome surprise!

Oh, if Anthony Horowitz and David Gilman are ever available for lunch at the same time, I would swim to London so that the three of us could start planning my career as an international spy whom no one would suspect! 

As far as Other Than Words, I'm about the only youth librarian who really doesn't care for picture books. I have graphic novels for my students, but pictures just get in the way of the text!


West Virginia Red said...

Sounds like you are pretty hooked in. But it does point out to the newer blogger that a huge part of that is putting yourself out there.

Elizabeth Bevins said...

I love the opportunity to meet authors. That is my only reason for being on Twitter. I so appreciate when they acknowledge my messages! Chris Bojalian has been great at interacting. I love to be able to tell an author when I have loved their book.

Jenna said...

I LOVE your idea of sending the filled cards to authors- what an awesome and inspiring idea!

Hope you enjoy Armchair BEA!

Wesley Hoffmann said...

I like when people list the strengths and weakness of books. That way the reader can more decide for themselves if it's something they want to pursue even if you didn't like it yourself.

Mark Baker said...

I've also learned from author interaction that I need to temper my words when writing a negative review. Of course, that doesn't help with some authors, who had demanded I change my review. I haven't, and I haven't read that author again either.

Jessica Haluska said...

This cupcake party sounds amazing. Even if Chima couldn't make it. Rick Riordan (or his wife) would make it worthwhile for me by himself ;)

Sullivan McPig said...

I agree: getting real mail from an author is so cool. But I'm happy with the internet, because it connects me with people I would otherwise never have met.

Liviania said...

Those are all really cool. I particularly like the filled up cards - I do kind of miss those, although checking out is faster now.

Iron Guy Carl said...

Rick Riordan sent me a couple of t-shirts back in 2006 (or 2007). He did it simply because I was a fan and had written enthusiastic reviews.

Lory said...

Wow, you were an enterprising student! I was always reluctant to bother authors, but I posted about one letter I wrote (and received) on my blog: Emerald City Book Review

DoingDewey said...

How cool! Even though I've started interacting with authors since I've been blogging and even though I do share positive reviews, I've never actually written an author a letter letting them know I love their work. I think it's a really fun idea though and always like hearing stories from people who've actually done it :)

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