Tuesday, May 29, 2012

June Event Extravaganza!

Next week is Book Expo America (BEA) week in New York City which means that much of publishing descends upon the Big Apple for a weeklong discussion and celebration of books, books and more books.

Since I live in New York, and since this is my first BEA as a published author, next week will be a bit of an event extravaganza for me. 5 events in 5 days to be exact. And guess what? You're invited to all of them! So if you're around, feel free to pick and choose what looks most appealing to you. There'll be mingling, munching and raffles as well as the standard panels and signing.

Sunday, June 3, 2012
What: Reading & Signing
Where: Book Revue
313 New York Avenue, Huntington, NY
Time: 4 PM
RSVP: Your invitation is here!
Info: Huntington is my hometown and this is the bookstore I grew up with: one of the country's largest independent bookstores! So I am extra excited for this "homecoming" event.

Monday, June 4, 2012
What: BEA Kick-Off Party/Breaking into KidLit Panel with the Class of 2K12
Where: Bank Street Bookstore
610 112th St., New York, NY
When: 7 PM
RSVP: Your invitation is here!
Info: Kick off BEA week with the Class of 2K12. We're going to talk a bit about how we broke into the kidlit business before mingling in a fun party atmosphere.

Tuesday, June 5th
What: Meet the Apocalypsies at BEA
Where: Javits Center, Room 1E04
655 W. 34th St., New York, NY 
When: 3-5 PM
Info: Come meet over 20 of this year's debut MG and YA authors. There will be raffles, prizes and cookies! You do need a BEA pass to attend this event.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
What: Mix, Mingle and Win with the Class of 2K12
Where: Tenth Rail
413 10th Ave., New York, NY 
When: 6 PM
RSVP: Your invitation is here!
Info: Our big BEA party complete with appetizers and awesome raffles where you can win books, swag and critiques!

Thursday, June 7, 2012
What: Panel and Signing with The Class of 2K12
18 W. 18th St., New York, NY 
When: 6-8 PM
RSVP: Your invitation is here!
Info: Come meet some of 2012's debut kidlit authors (including me) and get your books signed!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dreamcasting 'The Mapmaker and the Ghost'

Now that quite a few people have read The Mapmaker and the Ghost, I feel like I can finally share my dreamcast for the (maybe-one-day-there'll-actually-be-a) movie!

Now, this is a little tricky because my characters average at around 11 years old, and there aren't a lot of 11-year-old actors to choose from. With that in mind, I've decided to eschew the laws of time and cast any actor from any era. Why? Because I have a 200-year-old ghost roaming around my book, that's why!

Without further ado:

Goldenrod Moram

Jenny Lewis ca. late 1980s. Spunky and fabulous (and destined to be a rock star).

The Old Lady

Maggie Smith ca. now. Also spunky and fabulous (and just a little bit mysterious).

Meriwether Lewis

David Tennant ca. now. Look! There he is in a maroon overcoat and all! (And NO...this wouldn't be purely so I could stalk him on-set. Not purely.)


Dakota Fanning ca. 3 years ago. A fabulous actress who would bring just the right amount of sass.


Johnny Depp ca. 30 years ago. Ready to bring on the villainous intensity! (Also not purely so I could hang out on-set with a young Johnny Depp. Nope, not at all. I object to these accusations!)


Jonathan Ward (a.k.a this kid from the first season of Charles in Charge. For the record, I really liked the Pembrokes.)

Toe Jam

Ben Savage ca. 1st season of Boy Meets World.


Zachery Ty Bryan ca. 2nd season of Home Improvement. (This might be the point at which it becomes blatantly obvious that I grew up in the 90s.)


Jared Rushton. Who starred in Big and Overboard and then promptly realized he'd reached the pinnacle of amazing cinema and needed to go no further. Until now...


NPH ca. 30 years ago. Because I dare you to find me a more adorable/loveable kid.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hey Jealousy

First of all, you're welcome for getting that awesome Gin Blossoms song stuck in your head. I even have a bonus treat for you at the end of this post...

Second of all...I've been thinking about this post for a while and the right way to say what I want to without coming across sounding like an ungrateful jerk.

So...jealousy. Or envy. One of the seven sins, dontcha know. It's also, I think, a very complex, very common emotion and one I want to address from the point-of-view of a writer.

In all honesty, I'm not, by nature, a jealous person. I'm also not a very competitive person. I am ambitious and I do set high standards for myself. My usual mode of operation, though, is trying to best myself more than anything.

But guess what? I get jealous. Sometimes I get jealous of other writers' extensive book tours or their bestseller statuses or the really cool trailer that their pub house made for them. Sometimes I get jealous that goals seem to come easily and quickly for others that have either taken me many, many years to accomplish or that I'm still grappling with. Sometimes I even get jealous of my friends' personal lives.

I hate feeling jealous. Hate it. Because, logically, I know that just because someone has had something good happen to them, doesn't mean something good won't happen to me. There isn't a finite amount of good fortune in the world. Also because I know that just because something seems easy for someone, doesn't mean that's the way it is. I often don't know an individual's personal struggles at all. And, finally, because jealousy is frankly a pointless and poisonous emotion. It's a waste of my time and energy. And it takes a lot of energy.

I KNOW all this. And, yet, it is impossible not to be jealous sometimes. I suspect it is part of the human condition and that I likely am not alone in feeling this way.

In the past year or so, I've found myself having to confront my jealousy more than before. Because, you know what? There are authors who are more successful than me: who get more attention, make more money, write better books. And, frankly, that's the way it should be. There should always be someone better than me, something to strive for.

I also accept that there are people who are jealous of me. I have an agent. I've been published. I have a book that is on bookstore shelves. Truthfully, three years ago, I would have been jealous of me for that alone.

What works for me is taking the time to acknowledge to myself when I'm jealous, reassuring myself that I don't mean ill-will to the person I'm jealous of, and then moving on. Even better yet, making sure to congratulate the person on their good news and making sure they know that I am genuinely happy for them. Because I am. I've learned that being jealous and being happy for someone are not mutually exclusive.

And I find that when I become a cheerleader, I feel just a little bit better about myself. It's a little bit easier to let go of the poison and focus on things that are proactive instead, the things that make me accomplish those goals I set for myself.

What about you? How do you deal with the big green monster? Or am I, in fact, a big jerk for sometimes feeling this way?

Oh, and because I promised...here you go. (I've embedded the version with on-screen lyrics because, let's face it, you know you want to belt this now.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

SLJ Reviews Mapmaker: 'Page-Turning Adventure'

A few months ago, I received my very first print review from Library Media Connection. (It was a good one).

And now, I just received my very second...from School Library Journal. Without further ado...

Gr 3-6—When her best friend moves away, 11-year-old Goldenrod Moram tries to think of a project that will keep her busy during the long summer before school starts. She loves looking at and making maps and she idolizes Lewis and Clark. She decides to create a map of her town and convinces her mother to let her explore beyond the one-mile radius that has been her unsupervised exploring limit. She beings by setting out to map the forest area at the edge of town. Along the way, she has a series of adventures that include a mysterious old woman who send her on a magical search, a gang of colorful would-be thieves, and most surprisingly, an encounter with the ghost of Meriwether Lewis, who makes his own demands on her time. In this debut novel, Tash has created a memorable cast of characters and a story that combines both humor and suspense. Goldenrod is on a mission, and nothing will deter this determined girl. When the Gross Out Gang captures her curious little brother, just enough danger is created to keep readers in suspense. Children are sure to enjoy this combination of an intrepid heroine, some slightly disreputable characters with humorous and disgusting habits, and a ghost in need of assistance. This page-turning adventure will tickle readers’ funny bones. –Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY

I love librarians!!

Really, though, I genuinely do. They are truly one of the biggest gatekeepers for us MG authors who are trying to get our books into the hands of kids. I'm beyond thrilled that Mapmaker seems to be resonating with them.

Hooray! Sparkle confetti for all!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How Do I Get Published? The (Very) Basics

I've done a handful of author events over the past few weeks and at every one I've had at least one writer ask me about the steps to take to get published.

So I thought maybe there are some people looking for this sort of information. And, hey, maybe you've somehow stumbled upon my blog while doing it! (In which case, hai, fellow writer).

So here are my 10 very basic short answers to "What do I do to get published?" And, of course, take everything with a grain of salt as there are no real "steps" to anything in life (particularly anything like this). But in my own personal experiences, and after having talked to many other published writers, here are some of the common threads.

1. Have a completed manuscript. It really needs to be the whole book. Not a proposal, not an outline, but a finished story.

2. Polish your manuscript. Take a class. Do an online writing workshop. Find beta readers (in children's books, SCBWI can be a great resource for this). Make sure others have read and commented on your manuscript and that you've at least considered (and in some cases rectified) their issues. You need some eyes with distance because, ultimately, the agent, editor and -- finally -- reader of your book won't be you.

3. Take one more look at the two steps above. You need your manuscript to be in the best shape possible.

4. My opinion: find an agent. It is possible to get published without an agent, but it's much harder. Many less publishing houses accept unsolicited manuscripts. PLUS when you get to the part where you have an offer and you're actually getting published, you will want a good agent who's on your side helping to guide your career and understanding your contracts.

5. And, of course, how do you find your agent? The Internet will be your best friend. Again, for kidlit, I recommend SCBWI -- if you join, you get a very handy cheat sheet of agents, agencies and some of the genres they represent. But any genre you're writing in should have a group like that. Look into it. Look in the acknowledgment sections of your favorite books and find out who those authors' agents are. Compile a list of names of agents who represent your genre and then...

6. Whittle down those names. Find the 6 or 7 agents that you REALLY want to represent you -- the ones that if they offered you representation wouldn't cause you a moment's hesitation. Go to their websites and find out their exact submission policy. FOLLOW IT. I  know this sounds like I'm being completely obvious but you wouldn't believe how many agents get query letters where the directions are not followed at all. They will already like you if you can just do this simple thing. And you want them to like you.

7. Ah, the query letter. That's what most agents will want. Some will want a sampling of the manuscript as well, but almost all will want the "elevator pitch." Keep it short, professional and -- most of all -- interesting. You want this person who reads hundreds of these letters a week to stop and say, "I want to read the story this person is pitching RIGHT NOW." There are tons of resources on the Internet on how to write a great query letter. Again, my manservant Google is your best friend (he can be your manservant too -- I'm big into sharing).

8. Keep track of all the agents you're querying -- the date you queried them, what you sent and, also, their response policy (I used an excel for this). Some may ask you to follow up if you haven't heard after a certain amount of time. Some may have this information on their website. Some may say, "Don't contact me ever! I'll call you." Again, whatever it says -- follow it!

9. Rejections are hard. I'm not going to pretend otherwise. But after you get over the emotional aspect of it, see if you can glean anything useful from the rejection. If it's a form rejection, just tick off a box in your excel and move on. But if it's a personalized rejection with suggestions -- that's actually a GOOD thing. It means a very busy person saw enough potential in you and your work to give you their professional advice. You do not have to take every bit of advice that is thrown out you, but make sure to see if their notes resonate with you. Some agents may even ask you to resubmit if you decide to take them up on their notes. If that's the case, take that very seriously.

10. Did you get rejections from all 6 or 7 of your top agents? Take another look at your manuscript. Really consider doing another round of edits. Then find 6 or 7 other agents who would be a great fit for you. Repeat steps 6-10.

Do you have any other questions? Ask in the comments section and, if I can answer them, I will!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The YAmazing Race with MGnificent Prizes!

Update: The YAmazing Race is now over! Check the Apocalypsies blog for a list of grand prize winners! The winner for my giveaway is...bn100 who won a signed copy of The Mapmaker and the Ghost. Thanks so much to everyone who played!

We did this in January and it was so much fun that we're doing it again! 

So...welcome to the YAmazing Race with MGnificent prizes: a blog hop with 50+ debut authors involving a ton of prizes like books, swag, gift certificates and more (including a signed hardcover copy of The Mapmaker and the Ghost)!

How does it work, you might ask? Well, first, make sure you've gone here to the Apocalypsies blog for the complete rules. From there, you're going to be led to a series of our blogs where you'll learn a little bit about each of our books. (You will also find out five gruesome, yet fun, ways the world could come to an end -- animal style). File away the book info in your head because you will then use it to take a short quiz. There will be six quizzes in all. You can do one, you can do them all. Naturally, I recommend being thorough (because you will have a much better chance of winning awesome prizes and 100% chance of learning about awesome books.)

Got that?

So, without further ado, here's a little bit about my book:

The Mapmaker and the Ghost by Sarvenaz Tash

Goldenrod Moram loves nothing better than a good quest. Intrepid, curious, and full of a well-honed sense of adventure, she decides to start her own exploring team fashioned after her idols, the explorers Lewis and Clark, and to map the forest right behind her home. This task is complicated, however, by a series of unique events—a chance encounter with a mysterious old lady has her searching for a legendary blue rose. Another encounter lands her in the middle of a ragtag gang of brilliant troublemakers. And when she stumbles upon none other than the ghost of Meriwether Lewis himself, Goldenrod knows this will be anything but an ordinary summer . . . or an ordinary quest.

Got it? Ready to find out about the next awesome Apocalypsie book? Go here to J. Anderson Coats' website to learn all about THE WICKED AND THE JUST.

Oh and guess what? I'm giving away another signed hardcover of The Mapmaker and the Ghost and some swag right here on this blog! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below -- you'll see there are extra ways to get entries by leaving a comment, following me on Twitter, liking me on Facebook, following my blog or adding my book to your Goodreads shelf. My contest will be open until Tuesday, May 8th at 11: 59 PM EST.

Good luck!