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I love Writer’s Digest Magazine. Writing is a very solitary endeavor, but when reading the informative articles each month in this well-crafted magazine, I feel like I am part of a community of like-minded people all striving to be better at the craft of writing. This month’s issue did not disappoint. In the September issue Laura DiSilverio, author of the Mall Cop and Swift Investigations mystery series, wrote an article about book marketing using the newest social media craze: Pinterest. Entitled “Pinterest is Worth a Thousand Words” she talks about this visual scrapbook site where people choose images that appeal to them and “pin them” virtually to personal boards for easy organization. In other words, one might pin images of kitchen remodel ideas into a board or family recipes or back-to-school projects. The social media element comes into play when people share their boards, repin other’s boards, and follow others.
DiSilverio created a board entitled Gigi’s Closet based upon a character in her Swift Investigation series that highlights fashions that Gigi might like. How fun is that? We all have favored characters in our minds. Wouldn’t it be fun to go beyond the book into the mind of an author to see what she “sees” as further traits/interests of the character?
Here is what I see is the value of using Pinterest to promote your book:
1. Pinterest allows for personal interaction with the reader giving him/her more insight into a character.
2. Pinterest gives the author a platform to promote the nature of a book by allowing for comments that accompany the images to tell more about a book or character.
3. Even in the writing stage, putting images in a common board allows the author to get a better image herself of the character and storyline. For example, in the book I am writing now, I am going to create a board that has images of the main characters as I see them in my mind, their fashions, setting, etc. It might help to give more description to the words I use in the story.
So, using Gigi’s Closet as a guide, I have created a board on Pinterest called “Am I Like My Daddy?: Grace finds answers.” Take a look by clicking the link above, and feel free to comment. I have chosen to highlight both emotions and plot points you will find in the book.
I challenge you to think about your book and what you could create on Pinterest to help promote it. Please share. I’d love to take a look!
I recently read a middle grade novel published by Scholastic in 2010 that has appeal to many but may be of personal interest to my Southwest Michigan readers. The Danger Box by Blue Balliett is set in Three Oaks, Michigan a small town of 1622 people, roughly 15 miles west of the Lake Michigan shore.
Twelve-year-old Zoomy is raised by his grandparents in this quiet town which is best described by the author in this sentence: “Everybody local knows just about everybody else in Three Oaks…” Left on the doorstep as a baby, Zoomy is raised in a nurturing environment and lives a modest life. Zoomy is a unique child with OCD and Asperger tendencies though neither diagnosis is mentioned by name. He keeps daily lists with his purple pens in special notebooks. After a first time meeting with Buckeye, his dad, at age 12, Zoomy learns that his dad has a drinking problem that makes him mean and prone to break the law. After stealing a truck, Buckeye dumps its contents at Zoomy’s home before taking off again. Zoomy discovers a notebook in the stolen items that begins a detailed research project at the local Three Oaks Library with his only friend, “Firecracker Girl” Lorrol. They uncover the historical significance of the notebook, connected to Charles Darwin, and prepare to turn it over to the authorities. A family tragedy threatens to destroy the livelihood of Zoomy’s family as well as the historically important information within the notebook.
The Danger Box is best described as a wonderful character sketch with enough mystery to keep the reader turning pages. Zoomy is well-developed. As a resident of Southwest Michigan I really appreciated the setting of the story. The author described such landmarks as the Featherbone Factory and Drier’s Meat Market. “Three Oaks has one main street…On either side of Elm Street-that’s the one with the stores-are parallel streets with blocks of wooden houses, two to the west and three to the east.” Every step of the way I envisioned where the characters were in their treks around town. I feel like Balliett did a great job encapsulating the small town community feel. Both adults and children (9-up) will enjoy Zoomy’s journey. It’s worth a read.
This link is to the Sept. 2010 issue of the Harbor Country News when Blue Balliett visited students in the River Valley School District to kick off her book tour.
Blue Balliett is also a bestselling author of the books Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3,and The Calder Game.
Earlier in the week I channeled my main character Grace in her quest to discover if she is anything like her Dad, who died when she was five. Through this blog I have received some information I would like to share, in case you are curious to know if I have any new answers.
1. It was confirmed by my dad’s sister that he did not smile a lot as we traditionally do. However, he showed his emotions with his eyes, and you could tell when he was happy or when he was mad. That’s kind of ironic because there is a scene in my book where the mom gives Grace the eye. Who knew my dad had the eye look, too?
2. Dad was quiet and didn’t like to draw attention to himself. Hmmm…. I am guessing that he would not have had a public blog.
3. He did like to read. I did not know this. He was an avid reader and liked westerns and suspense books. I can’t say that I like westerns, but before I had children and I was a bit more relaxed I used to read suspense books a lot. In my book there is a scene where Grace learned that Dad liked adventure and humorous books.
These are mere facts that would serve no importance to you, I’m sure. That’s not the point. The point is, to me, even the most insignificant detail such as the type of book my dad read matters. But, I have to repost something my cousin Julie said to me.
“Do not be discouraged that you cannot find lots of similarities with your dad. You are remembering him from your “little girl” perspective. If you were to sit down next to him today…I think you would see ways that you are like him. Knowing that you are “half him”, is something to smile about!”
She makes such a good point that I could not have stated any better, but that is just the problem. In my mind I will alwaysbe that “little girl.” How I still long to have known the grown up Marcy/Dad relationship. I will count my blessings and surround myself with the affirmations that my dad loved his girls, and we meant the world to him.
Now only three months until the release of my picture book, Am I Like My Daddy?, the story of seven-year old Grace who ponders this very question after having only incomplete memories of her dad who died when she was five, I also find myself asking this very question as an adult. Am I Like My Daddy? I have been using bits of my summer vacation (though never enough) to clean out and purge those parts of my house that tend to accumulate stuff. The last two weeks I have tackled the storage part of our basement saving the boxes of childhood mementos for last. I have very few pictures of my dad and even fewer mementos. I am sharing some of those pictures today, for you and for my family that may read my blog. I am hoping that in the virtual web of lives intersecting over their computers, that someone who knew my dad will pipe in with his or her own memories so that I can learn, like Grace, if I am like my daddy…
This is what I know…Am I like my dad?
1. My dad was a good dancer, so I have been told. I, on the other hand, though I don’t think I am a bad dancer, have been told that I dance like a stick. It is a mean comment made to me many years ago, but it is a comment that “sticks” in my mind for life, pun intended.
2. My dad did not smile a lot, in pictures, at least, as that is my record. I don’t know why. Maybe he didn’t like getting his picture taken. I don’t either, but I do try to smile, and I think I smile more like my mom.
3. He had brown hair and eyes and was graying upon the time of his death, at age 37. I have brown hair and eyes and started graying at age 25. This is one family trait I wish I did not have like my dad.
4. I assume my dad was a hard worker. He was a blue-collar worker, first a farmer and later a warehouse worker. I work hard mentally, but I do not do things well with my hands if it involves labor. I guess I am not like my dad in that regard.
5. I like to read. I have no memories of my dad reading to me.
6. Dad liked to bowl. When my parents divorced he would take my sister and me bowling or to play miniature golf, two activities I still like, though I am only fair at doing. I still remember two things from my golfing with Dad: 1. One time at Putt-Putt golf the manager asked my sister’s age. Dad lied to get her in cheaper, but I confessed to the manager her real age. I suppose he didn’t like that much. 2. My younger sister asked Dad if she won. He told her she had the highest score. I use that answer with my own children now, at times, though usually it is me with the highest score these days.
7. Dad was in 4-H. I was, too, for a few years though I really stunk at everything: baking, sewing, flower arranging, etc.
8. Dad liked music. I have fond recollections of listening to a particular tape in his car. It is one memento I asked to keep when he died, and I still have it. Air Supply’s Making Love Out of Nothing at All and Neil Sedaka’s Calendar Girl were on that tape. Weird, but I loved those songs. The last thing Dad bought me was a tape, of my choosing, at K-Mart, right before his accident. Though it was the mid-80’s I picked The Carpenter’s Greatest Hits. Their songs are quite melancholy, and I feel sad when I hear them now, but they do make me think of my dad. Also, Johnny Paycheck’s song Take This Job and Shove It reminds me of him. Maybe we listened to it? Maybe it’s because I know he liked country music? Regardless, it is a love for music that I do share in common with my dad.
9. To this day, if I can avoid it, I will not wave good-bye to family members or watch their cars leave. I have a very vivid memory of watching my dad’s red car leave our subdivision the day before his accident (which was not a car accident but a fall). However, the first new car I bought was a bright red car, the color of Dad’s car.
Sitting down to write about my dad is extremely personal. I feel rather exposed right now and contemplate erasing this whole thing. It’s quite clear to me that I don’t think I am much like my dad at all, and that makes me sad. I hold him on a bit of a pedestal as my memories are so incomplete and yearn to be filled in with beautiful strokes, but I can’t even finish the picture of my dad because I just don’t know what colors to choose. Whether done publicly on this blog or in private, I’d like to know more, the good, the bad, and the ugly because I’d like to find myself in this picture with my dad…somewhere.
And in the event that a well-known agent is researching my blog right now, to make sure I really can write, and I am not some weirdo, well…. I can assure you I am of sound mind and body, just an adult woman thinking about her dad….
I hope that by me sharing my experiences with you, just as my character Grace shares in my book, that you will know you are not alone in your personal quest for answers in life, whatever you may be seeking.
I work in the schools, so I have my summers off. I no longer travel by the cemetery every day at 4:00, the time the man at the cemetery would be there, day in and out, no matter the weather. Yet a few days ago I traveled that route and found my friend at the cemetery sitting on the ground wearing what appeared to be his normal attire: hat, button down shirt, and denim, perhaps jeans. Yes, during the hottest time of the day he was still there, visiting with his wife who no longer lives.
I have not blogged about the man at the cemetery for quite some time. I made no new observations. He was still just another person in a sea of people who go through the motions of their day grieving while those around him are oblivious to the churning tide of emotions within his soul. I have been asked by several people, though, if I have any more information on the man at the cemetery. They, too, whether through their own observations or through my blog, have come to ponder on his life and the wellness of his heart. I do have more information, but I will be respectful of the information that I have. I have done a google search of the name on the tombstone. For myself, I wanted to know the connection he so obviously shared with the person he visited every day. It is amazing and frightening what one can discover with google. It was his wife. It was possibly a remarriage. She died too soon.
But there is more… I have a friend who felt compelled to stop and speak with the man at the cemetery. Separate from my observations, he’d also pondered about the condition of the man who rarely missed a day, or multiple times a day, visiting with his departed wife. What I can’t tell you is the nature of those conversations. My friend asked that I honor the privacy of this man and his story. It may seem conflicting that I would blog so openly about my observations yet not share information that you would probably want to know, right? We all slow down on the interstate to watch the effects of a car accident, right? We turn to CNN for every word after a national tragedy. It’s only natural to want to know the nature of every bit of the conversations between my friend and the man at the cemetery. But I can’t. While he shared surface details with me, I stopped myself from asking more of the questions that I wanted answers to. You see, it’s not my story. It’s his story. The fact that he was willing to share with my friend gives me comfort that he can at least tell his story, which not everyone can. But it’s not my place to share the intimate details of his story. So, I have nothing new to add to the story of the man at the cemetery. I am sorry, but I hope you understand. He is still there. He still grieves. His story still breathes life, continuing the grieving process.
One take-away I get from this story, and its many parts, is that no matter what craziness is going on in my life, the go-go-go of my children’s activities, my friend/family/work commitments, the calendar that doesn’t seem to have room for one more thing. This I know is true: That person next to me on the bleachers at a game. That woman at the stoplight who won’t go the second the light turns green. That friend who won’t answer my calls. They all have a story, and maybe I can try to be a little more empathetic and not so quick to judge. Everyone has a story….