Tuesday, July 27, 2010


We Texas Sweethearts are so excited to featured Greg Pincus this week. To quote his bio from The Happy Accident (because it is awesome):

Greg Pincus helps people and organizations create social media strategies and plans. He also tries to demystify the online world and practices on his mom, believing that if he can help her understand Twitter and Facebook, he can do anything.


TXS: Greg, you’ve been very involved in creating and running an elementary school library with no budget and you’ll be doing it again for a middle school. Any tips for libraries struggling in this economy?

GP: I can't speak to the challenges of public libraries, other than to say we should all support them with patronage and advocacy on their behalf. As for schools... we are lucky, in the sense that we do not have to follow our school district's protocols for library books. Instead, we can get books however we want and enter them into our collection. So, how do we and how can others get them? Ask. Everyone. Often.

The thing is that pretty much everyone is in favor of kids having books - it crosses party lines, economic divides, etc. We've done book drives within the neighborhood and had other schools do them on our behalf as part of their "public service" clubs (and been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a BookEnds book drive). And I personally ask everyone for books and/or make it known that I'm doing a wonderful project, and folks can help! As a result... my blogging friends send them (we can usually re-imburse media-mail postage!), authors send them, friends and family send them. (And everyone here can feel free to get in touch if you want to send any our way, by the way). The thing is, it's a win-win situation: a school gets books and the giver feels good. That makes it much easier to ask for books... and in case it's not clear, that's really the way to build a collection with a limited budget - Ask. Everyone. Often.

Oh, yeah... and if your school has a librarian, do everything you can to support that position. A good librarian is such a tremendously added value - find the money, lobby to keep 'em, and support, support, support!

TXS: You’re also one of the masterminds behind Kidlitchat, a Twitter sensation with users ranging from beginning writers/illustrators to big name editors. How did this concept come about and what is its primary focus?

GP: I had been hosting a poetry chat on Twitter, and one day I saw Bonnie Adamson tweet something like "we should have a chat for children's literature." So I tweeted back, we emailed, picked a time... changed it to a better time, and voila! We both view #kidlitchat as kind of a salon - more like a cocktail party than a conference. We do have a weekly topic, but in general, it's a place for us to hang out among the likeminded, share ideas and tips, talk about books, get into some meaty ideas (though always going astray, too) and, in general, build community.

TXS: Many people use their blogs as a spotlight on themselves but you tend to focus on other writers/illustrators/literary events. There are benefits to both, but which is the best way to go?

GP: I think it's really hard to make a blog be appealing AND all about "you." This doesn't mean you have to focus on others exclusively, though. You can also share insights (how to write, how to market, thoughts about business) or review books or or or. I'd also note that while I shine the light on others all the time, I also post my own poetry and announce news on my blog, too. I think that people make connections online with folks who offer something of value. That can mean a lot of different things - we all define value on a personal basis - but for me, at least, someone who too consistently talks about themselves simply isn't offering me value. I use that perspective when I think of my own content and have found a balance that works for me. Everyone will find their own balance... as long as they think about what it would be like to be on the reading end of their own blog.

TXS: The SCBWI Summer Conference is just around the corner, and you’ll be on faculty! What can we expect from the Social Networking talks you’ll be giving with one of our other featured Sweethearts, Alice Pope?

GP: We'll be giving out the secret to successful social networking, that's all. The. Secret.

Well, actually, we'll be talking about social networking from what I think is the most practical point of view: Not "how do you send a tweet" but WHY you'd send a tweet, how it could be part of a larger strategy, and how to use social networks effectively while still focusing on your craft.

Plus, we really will give out the secret (assuming, of course, that someone FINDS IT before then. So far, no one has).

TXS: It’s crucial to make yourself known if you want to be known, and people come to you when they want to achieve this. Could you tell us more about the social media plans you can create for our interested readers?

GP: I like to say that I work to save people time, energy, and frustration by helping them focus on what they'd like to accomplish by using social media... and then developing concrete steps they can take on the path to reaching their goals. There is no "one size fits all" strategy online - we all have different goals, different strengths, different likes and dislikes, and different amounts of time we can spend. All the pressure that's getting put on writers/illustrators these days to "be online! have a platform! Be like !" does everyone a disservice. So, I bring it back to the individual rather than simply "get out there and do!"

And thanks for making me a Sweetheart! I'm flattered.

TXS: Thank you, Greg! We're the ones who are flattered!


Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FEATURED SWEETHEART: Shelli Johannes-Wells

We're excited to host Shelli Johannes-Wells this week as our Feature Sweetheart! In addition to being a fabulous author, Shelli gives her time generously on her blog, Market My Words which offers book marketing and publicity advice to authors.


TXS: Market My Words is a fantastic blog with a great reputation and following. Can you please tell us a little bit about how your blog got started and what your goal for it is? Also, how has your vision changed since its inception?

SJW: I started my blog along time ago. But in Jan 2009, I decided to revamp my blog and find a way to give back to the writing community. Since I have a degree and 20 experience in marketing, it seemed natural to help authors with their own marketing. I had an idea to start the weekly marketing interviews and marketing tips. To be honest, I was so surprised at how fast the blog took off. I guess there was much more of a gap in marketing than I realized at the time. I’m thankful I can provide value somewhere.

TXS: What is the biggest surprise you've had since you started blogging?

SJW: Honestly , how close I could get to people I have never met. I’ve met friends online that are closer to me than friends I’ve known much longer. Sad right? That and the fact that over 75,000 people have visited my blog in less than 18 months. That’s insane to me!!! I had no idea people needed or wanted to learn about marketing until I started this. Im grateful that Im touching so many people.

TXS: You write. You blog. You are a marketing goddess. How do you balance it all? And what comes most natural?

SJW: Hm I don’t feel like a goddess but ok if you say so :)

I try not to get caught up in doing everything everyday. I do what I feel like doing. If I want to blog, I blog that day. If I want to write, I write. If I want t oread and be with my family (unless my agent is pushing me on revisions :) then I do that. Since I only have about 3 hrs a day, I also have to manage my time wisely. That 3 hrs also has to include all my client work so I don’t have much time to mess around! I do a lot of stuff at night when my house is sleeping or when I am watching tv (chats/blogs etc) . :)

Oh, And I have a very supportive husband.

Some days or weeks I don’t feel balanced at all. But I think every day doesn’t have to be balanced as long as you feel like you have balance over all. Some thing will give everyday and I sacrifice something everyday but I work hard at circulating through what I need to do.

TXS: How do you think reading for kids has changed over the years. People talk so much about kids needing to share their attention with texting, TV, and video games. Is the challenge greater now for getting kids to read?

SJW: Yes. I think in a world with this much external stimulus available to kids, the reading has to grab their attention. The covers. The book trailers. Its hard to pull a kid away from all the gadgets to read so you better do it in the first page. But overall I think reading will always be important. It is just evolving in different ways,

TXS: If you could make a wish for kids and reading in the future, what would it be?
SJW: That kids always love books and that books always speak to kids so they love books. I hope the eworld does not take away the feel of holding a book at night snuggled in bed. That kids realize they don’t have to be entertained by gadgets, that there is a whole world of entertainment in each book they pick up.

TXS: Thank you so much, Shelli!!!!!


Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Suburb Beyond the Stars: A Short (Smart, Funny, Mysterious, Scary) Movie

Thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith for this fantastic, fun movie!

From author M.T. Anderson's official website:

This book trailer, stitched together out of pieces filmed before
M. T. Anderson’s unfortunate disappearance, discusses his new book The Suburb Beyond the Stars.

It is part of a larger set of documents about the strange and mysterious sightings and deaths in the area of Mount Norumbega — all of which will be released soon on Scholastic’s website. We’re working to make them available to a waiting public.

We hope you can make more sense of this film than we can.

The Suburb Beyond the Stars from Sang Lee on Vimeo

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Justice for Everyone!

THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS were tipped off to an exciting discovery last week. Jo Whittemore's latest book FRONT PAGE FACE-OFF was spotted in Fort Worth at a Justice pre-teen clothing store as...the book of the month! After much SQUEEing was had, the Sweethearts checked around town (and had a few friends scout their own cities) to verify the exciting info. Aladdin M!X books are being carried in the Justice stores! And if three M!X books are bought, readers can mail in a voucher to receive a fourth M!X book free!
Huge congrats to Jo!

FRONT PAGE FACE-OFF on Display at Justice!

Jo signing stock at

Yay, Jo!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

FEATURED SWEETHEARTS: Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodyear

This week we’re honored to feature Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodyear—co-founders of Figment. All three Texas Sweethearts had the pleasure of meeting Jacob Lewis, Co-Founder and CEO of Figment at various ALA events. It is enjoyable to walk the convention floor and to run into someone so friendly and enthusiastic, and we hope to run into Dana Goodyear in the very near future!


TXS: Could you tell us about Figment, and what led you to co-founding Figment with Dana Goodyear?

JL: Figment is a mobile publishing and social media site for reading and writing young-adult fiction. The idea comes from an article Dana wrote for The New Yorker in 2008 about Japanese cell phone novels. She discovered a really amazing social, literary, and technological phenomenon, where young girls were reading, sharing, and writing novels on the cell phones. Dana and I want to build a creative place for an active community of teens, where they can read amateur and professional stories, and generate writing that they can share in a way that is unfiltered and unfettered on computers and mobile phones.

TXS: Have you had any pleasant surprises since starting Figment?

JL: Lots! The enthusiasm and encouragement we've gotten from teens has been overwhelming. But we've also gotten a tremendous response from professional authors and publishers. It's as if everyone has been waiting for this kind of site to come along. The expectation that this kind of community has to exist is thrilling.

TXS: You attend many trade shows, do you have any advice on how to make the most of these events?

JL: I really enjoy these shows. Any time you have a room (and in some cases, a really GIANT room) full of people who are passionate about an industry like publishing, even in the face of bad times, it can be captivating. You always find a new book, or meet a new librarian, or talk to a new writer. I think the best approach is to stroll through the booths and have as many conversations as possible.

TXS: How do you think reading has changed for kids and teens over the years, and how do you see it changing in the future?

JL: I think the most amazing change has been just how engaged kids are these days with the books and the authors and the stories. It's not a passive experience for them. They want to know about the process, and they want to know the personalities, and they want to hear directly from the authors. It's a change that has had a profound effect on the publishing industry as a whole (I believe for the better).

TXS: Do you have any marketing advice for children's book professionals?

JL: I think it's imperative to engage with your audience, whether you're a writer or a publisher. Kids want to be heard, and they want to be a part of the experience of creating a book and promoting that story. It's sometimes easy to overlook that the success of teen books is almost solely due to word of mouth. The readers are your greatest resource.

TXS: Thanks, Jacob and Dana!



Jacob Lewis began his career in the mailroom of The New Yorker magazine, working his way up to be managing editor. He worked at The New Yorker for more than twelve years. In 2007, he helped start, as the managing editor, a new business magazine, Conde Nast Portfolio. He has written for The Washington Post, New York magazine, and The New York Observer. Jacob graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in creative writing and English literature. He now lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two kids.

Dana Goodyear has worked at The New Yorker since 1999. For four years, she was a senior editor; now she is a staff writer, covering a wide variety of subjects for the magazine, and often writing about literary and cultural figures. (Some of her work can be read at www.danagoodyear.com). She is also the author of “Honey and Junk,” a collection of poems, which was published by W.W. Norton in 2005. In addition to The New Yorker, her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Review of Books, and many other magazines and periodicals. She is on the board of Red Hen Press, a non-profit publisher in Los Angeles, and teaches literary nonfiction, with an emphasis on new media, at the University of Southern California.“I [heart] Novels”—her article about Japanese cell-phone novelists, written while in Tokyo as a Japan Society Media Fellow—was included in “The Best Technology Writing 2009,” edited by Steven Johnson.


Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts.