Thursday, August 26, 2010

If You're Not Failing Occasionally, That Means You're Not Taking Risks...

So I guess I'm taking some risks.

Last week I teamed up with the fabulous Katie Davis, who's launched her new podcast series all about the world of Children's Literature. Katie's an innovator - she's passionate, and smart, and she came up with an iphone app to let people listen to her podcasts seamlessly with their iphones while on the go.

I loved the idea, and when we spoke, I thought it would be fun to do a contest here on this blog to give away a free copy of her iphone app. Now, at $1.99 it's not the kind of prize - like the chance of winning a new car - that will have people dressing up funny. (Anyone else remember The Price Is Right?)

But as the investment was simply to leave a comment with an idea for Katie to cover in an upcoming "Brain Burps About Books" podcast, and no one had to dress up in a chicken costume, we thought it might get a number of people to throw their proverbial hat in the ring.

And we did get a number of people. That number was 1.

Now, at first, I have to admit, I was pretty bummed out about this. I mean, it was my first contest, and it felt a bit like I'd thrown a party and no-one showed up, you know? But the comment/entry we did get was awesome.

Karen from said...

You're right, this is a wonderful podcast! And I definitely have a topic I'd love to hear about in the future: I co-manage a website aimed directly at kids, so it's difficult to reach them. We've been trying to spread the word about our site to educators, hoping that they'll introduce our site to kids. But is that the best way to do it? Or would parents be a better channel? Or are there some strategies for reaching kids directly that others have discovered? Would love to hear any words of wisdom on this topic! Thanks!

The contest, and Katie's podcast, really connected with Karen- she became engaged in a wonderful way - and her show idea is great! And that's really the goal of all of this social networking and blogging... to build community, to build your following, to engage with people who are interested in exactly what YOU are talking about - a community of people with a shared passion.

And yeah, while it would have been nice to have had 20 entries, or 50, or more... I'm delighted to announce Katie as the completely randomly selected winner of our contest!

Like building an audience, a platform, and a community that shares your passion, having a contest with a bunch of people entering takes time. And experimentation.

And you know what?

Like a number of editors and agents kept saying at the 2010 SCBWI Summer Conference,

If you're not failing occasionally, that means you're not taking risks.

And when it comes to blogging, can't we all afford to take some risks?

So think about it: What kind of experiments can you try with your blog?

If you succeed - great! Congratulations, keep at it!

And if you "fail," like I did with this contest - guess what? You can always try something else.

I know I will.

Namaste, and Remember to Keep it Zen,

ps- I found the photo of the "Play at your own Risk" sign here. I love the idea that if you don't risk anything, then you don't get to play. And what kind of fun is that?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

5 hours left to enter Katie's iphone App contest - She scooped Ellen Hopkin's offer to the TX Teen Lit Festival, what will she scoop next?

Katie did a special podcast this week, featuring Ellen Hopkins and two of the authors who were also invited to a teen lit festival in Texas in January 2011. In short, Ellen - a New York Times bestselling author whose work shows teens making hard - and sometimes bad - choices and then having to face the consequences of those decisions - had been invited, and then dis-invited. Four of the other authors who had been scheduled to attend withdrew in support, but a few thought they should still attend.

Katie interviewed Ellen, and scooped the kid lit world by having Ellen saying that at this point, if her invitation were re-instated, she would attend the festival for free and pay her own way there!

The festival announced they're canceling the same week (also a Katie scoop) but could there be a chance Ellen's offer could tilt the balance on this and bring it back? Or is this just a lesson for the future...

You can hear the whole special episode podcast here.

And you can still enter our contest (4 hours 45 minutes left!) to win a free iphone app for Katie's podcast "Brain Burps About Books!"

The winner will be announced tomorrow!


Monday, August 16, 2010

A Contest! Win a Free iphone App for Katie Davis' "Brain Burps About Books" Podcasts!

Children's author/illustrator Katie Davis is a great model for being innovative.

"I was trying to promote my own books but after awhile, it gets pretty boring to only be talking about yourself. I started promoting other people's books, which ended up being more rewarding - though it's still selfish since it makes me feel good to do it!"

Katie has a regular gig on her local ABC affiliate's "Good Morning, Connecticut" where she recommends great books for kids.

She started a newsletter with author interviews that goes out to thousands of subscribers.

She produces an amazing series of podcasts (internet radio shows) called "Brain Burps About Books," which are all about kid lit!

And now, Katie is launching an iphone application to let people subscribe to her podcasts and seamlessly listen to them on their iphones! The App costs $1.99 - but you have a chance to win it here for free!

Katie's Brain Burps About Books Podcasts cover great content - like this week's

"How To Promote Your Book In New And Innovative Ways"

You can listen to it by clicking here:


on her podcasts, she does interviews with authors like:

Newbery medalists Rebecca Stead and Linda Sue Park;

author/illustrator Peter Reynolds (The Dot, Judy Moody illustrator);

graphic novelists Jenni Holm (BabyMouse) and Jarrett Krosoczka (Lunch Lady);

writer Jane Yolen and illustrator Mark Teague, (the How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? team)

and Edgar-Award-winner Nancy Werlin...

Oh, and did I mention she's even interviewed ME for one of her shows?

Katie even has the incredible author, School Library Journal Blogger, Reviewer, and New York Public Children's Librarian Betsy Bird giving an exclusive regular book review on the podcast!

So here's the contest, for your chance to win a Free iphone app for Katie Davis' Brain Burps:

Leave a comment with what you would like Katie to cover in a future podcast. Wanna more about school visits? Wanna have her interview a specific author? Have a question for an editor you'd like Katie to get the answer to?

The winner will be randomly drawn from those leaving comments next Wednesday (August 25th) at 8pm Pacific Time - so click on down to comments, and put in your 2 cents - you may win a great return on your investment!

And, just as important, let Katie inspire YOU to be innovative in how you approach your passion, your career, and your blogging. I know she inspires me!

Good Luck, and Remember to Keep it Zen,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Zen Blogging Exercise, Inspired by #LA10SCBWI: What's your One Word?

So one of the fun things that happens at the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators Summer Conference that I attended (and blogged and got to be a last-minute addition to the faculty for as well!) was the parade of words.

The first morning of the conference, all the speakers get to line up and introduce themselves to the more than 1,100 attendees, and share the one word they want people to associate with them for the four days of the conference. It was a parade of luminaries in the field of Children's literature, but it was also a parade of mantras. Focus words. Mission statements, boiled down to one word.

Sure, some people teamed up and got in a phrase, but mainly, it was an exercise in Extreme Editing.

How succinct could you be?

SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver started everyone off with "Showtime!"

Editor Bonnie Bader, who was leading a workshop on beginnings, said, "Start!"

Agent Ken Wright shared that he was "Thrilled - as in thrilled to be here."

One faculty member cracked the room up with his word, "Cocktails!"

Author Kathleen Duey inspired us with, "Stretch!"

Publisher Jennifer Hunt, "Kid-Friendly!"

Author Ellen Hopkins, "Banned!"

Editor Nick Eliopulos, "Break The Rules!"

It was so much fun, and we learned a lot from those single (Okay, Nick, 3!) words.

And then a tweet yesterday inspired me to ask all of you,

RT @kimwayans: RT @bookgal77 #la10scbwi What's your 1 word?

Mine would be "Empower!"

And I know that's really a statement of my mission, and the theme of my "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" blog (to empower GLBTQ Teens and their Allies) as well as the theme of this Zen of Blogging blog (to empower other bloggers). Empowerment is a theme in pretty much everything I write. And even what I facebook and tweet!

So, me, and @kimwayans, and @bookgal77 want to know, What's your 1 word?

If you were in a parade of words at a conference for what you do, what would you say?

Go ahead and share your word in comments!

And now that you have that word, look at your blog... Does it resonate? Does it make sense?

I think it should. Unless of course, your word was 'cocktails'... Though even that could make sense, if that was the passion you blogged about!

Whatever word you come up with, thanks for playing along!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

This Week's Blogging Secret: Be Quirky - Be You!

Lisa Yee's business card

Have you met Peepy?

Award-Winning Author Lisa Yee has created this amazing character of the stuffed animal creature Peepy - who she carries around with her and who hob-nobs with the luminaries in the world of children's literature.

Peepy is her adorable companion on her adventures, and features prominently in her blog's accounts of events - check out all the shots of Peepy from the faculty dinner at this past weekend's SCBWI 2010 Summer Conference!

Here's a shot I took of Peepy at the Golden Kite Luncheon during the Conference:

Now, not everyone can take a stuffed animal creature and imbue it with personality and have it make sense with their overall market identity - but Lisa Yee's Peepy is a great example of how you can be whimsical, and have fun, and truly, it adds to your brand, to your blog, to your image.

So, think about how you can let your individuality shine through on your blog in a way that's quirky and synergistic with who YOU are and what you're all about.

And when you see that adorable-plush-yellow-big-eared Peepy, say "hi!"