Friday, September 26, 2014

The Guardian Herd: First Impressions of a Book Tour

Howdy folks, Jennifer here ruminating after the first week of The Guardian Herd Tour! I'm such a mix of greenhorn and old ranch hand when it comes to writing and publishing. I know a lot, but a lot is new. I've leaped from aspiring writer, to self-published writer, to traditionally published writer, and
each stage has a learning curve.

So here are my first impressions after week one of The Guardian Herd: STARFIRE Tour.

Eating: Good luck. The first three mornings I choked down plain bread and granola like a contestant on fear factor. Just made myself do it despite the fact my tummy rebelled. After the school presentations were over--I couldn't eat enough!

Sleeping: Again, good luck. The first night I was just excited to wake up the next morning on release day. Then it's release day and it hits me that my book is born--it is now my heart outside of my body, and I can't protect it from everything. The second night I had nightmares about kids' eyes turning bizarre colors and then a dream that a ghost yanked me out of bed. The third night, I turned the AC at the hotel way up, and I woke at 1AM curled into a ball and shivering violently. I turned it down, but still woke up each hour thinking it must be morning. So far, I'm getting most of my sleep in cars and airplanes.

Dressing: Fellow HarperCollins author, Soman Chainani (The School for Good and Evil), once tweeted that he wouldn't wear the same thing twice when on tour, and once he tweeted that his bag weighed 72 pounds (granted, he tours the WORLD), and I remember wondering why it mattered if he wore the same thing twice or not. He was visiting different people in different states--surely it would be simpler to repeat some items.

Well, now I get it! Once you are photographed and put up on websites/blogs/Twitter/Facebook in an outfit at one event, you don't necessarily want to be seen in the exact same outfit a few days later in another state at a different event. I'm sure plenty of authors don't care, and some have a signature "look" that doesn't change much, but in this aspect of touring--I'm with Soman.

Signing at Copperfield's Bookstore in Santa Rosa, CA

Emotions: Volatile the first week. Excitement, fear, pressure, more excitement, gratitude, worry, not knowing what to expect, and concern over travel details--these feelings hit me like a sleeper wave hitting the coast of California, tumbling me off of my feet. I have spoken before--but it was all booked by me and under my complete control. Now I go where I'm directed and meet people who I haven't spoken to in advance. My publicist is amazing with the details and she thinks on her feet, so I trust her completely. Each day I've been met by great people who love books.

Speaking: I try to start the day with tea and honey to protect my voice. On the third day, I gave four school assembles almost back to back, and at one school, the microphone didn't work right. Luckily, I have a voice that carries for miles--like the resounding bray of a Guardian Herd over-stallion--so I had no problem projecting my voice. But in case this happens again, I'm prepared.

Circle View Elementary, Huntington Beach, CA

Sharing: So after tumbling a bit under all the newness, unknowns, excitements, and pressures--I told myself to get over it! What is the purpose of this tour? The answer is simple. The purpose is to share The Guardian Herd: STARFIRE with kids. This I can do! And no one can do it better. I know the story, the characters, and the world inside and out. It's a magical and foreign place, full of danger and war, but also place where the inhabitants harbor a burning desire for peace.

I can share the heart of the story because I am the heart of the story--and by day three--I hit my stride and I shared the heck out of The Guardian Herd. The rep from Barnes & Noble told me that as the middle schoolers were leaving the auditorium they were all abuzz about which herd they wanted to live in, even the 8th graders! (If you know 8th graders, and I do because I live with one and I've spoken to them before, they aren't always the easiest crowd).

Once I embraced my purpose--all the nerves and fears vanished! I'm thankful to HarperCollins for allowing me this fantastic opportunity to meet my future readers.

Best Moments So Far:

  • Selling out my first book signing at Copperfield's in 15 minutes.
  • The little girl who came in to get her ARC signed and her dad told me she's in love with the book. I asked her if she plays "guardian herd" at home and pretends she's a pegasus. Her eyes popped with that look that asks, "How did you know?" (I know because I'm her, just grown-up). She gave me a huge grin and said she did. 
  • The moment when I shared with the kids that each time I was rejected, I looked at myself and evaluated what I had done wrong. Then I made adjustments and tried again, got rejected again, then made more adjustments. I told them I kept tweaking and improving my approach with each rejection, and that I never quit until I got a yes--and the kids broke in spontaneous applause and cheering, overtaking the room. I was impressed with them for admiring hard work and personal responsibility.
  •  When a fourth-grade girl who raised her hand and said, "You inspired me to read." And I asked her what she meant. "You mean read my book, or read books in general?" She said. "Just to read any book." Wow! It's great if kids want to read my book, but for a non-reader to decide to give any book a try--well, that's even better!
  • And I was impressed by all the boys who wanted copies of The Guardian Herd: STARFIRE. As a mom of two boys who are picky about what they read, this meant a lot to me. 
Masuda Middle School
I've had unbelievable ground support with this launch from my publisher, the bookstores, the schools, my friends, and most of all my family. My husband is picking up all the slack at home, and my youngest is going without his bedtime kisses as the tour continues, but they're all excited for me and for The Guardian Herd:STARFIRE.

Check out the ginormous bird above my head! It's kind of pegasus-y looking.

Copperfield's Books, Santa Rosa, CA

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Release Day for The Guardian Herd: STARFIRE

So…today is the BIG DAY! The official on-sale date of The Guardian Herd #1 STARFIRE. 

Of course, I'm writing this post yesterday (which right now is today), because this today is much too busy.

At 8:30 AM a car is picking me up to begin the Guardian Herd school tour--three weeks of speaking at schools around the country beginning in San Rafael, California. I'm incredibly excited for this opportunity. I will be on the front lines meeting readers, booksellers, teachers, and librarians. It's thrilling to meet so many bookish people all at once, and to have my own book to share as well. 

The final week I'll be joined by fellow authors, Chris Rylander (Codename Zero) and John Kloepfer (Galaxy's Most Wanted) for the HarperCollins Class Acts Tour. This is a high energy, interactive assembly put on for the schools. It's going to be a blast!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Guardian Herd: STARFIRE Chosen for ABC Best Books for Children 2014

I was pleased and surprised when I received the news from my editor about Starfire's inclusion in this major catalog. So was my agent!

Reprinted from my agent's website: Joelle Delbourgo Associates, Inc.

We’re so pleased that Jennifer Lynn Alvarez’s middle-grade debut The Guardian Herd: Starfire (pubbing September 23rd from Harper Children’s) has been chosen for the prestigious ABC Best Books for Children 2014. Of 1000′s of books considered only 200 are chosen. Congratulations Jennifer!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Meet The Horses Behind The Guardian Herd Series [Video]

Hi everyone! With the release of The Guardian Herd: STARFIRE fast approaching, I thought I'd share some real life horses that inspired two of the characters. (Video below)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ten Things to Consider Before Self-Publishing a Children's Book

The indie/self-publishing industry is booming, and I believe it's a viable alternative to traditional publishing for author entrepreneurs who believe they can connect with their readers online. In 2011, I became excited about this fresh frontier and I self-published a middle-grade novel titled THE PET WASHER.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Author Blog Hop

I've been tagged by two dear authors to participate in a blog hop! Thank you Rachel Pudelek and D.M. Andrews for the invitation! I've linked your websites to your names so everyone can read your answers to the same questions I'll be answering today. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ten Things I've Learned Since Signing My Book Contract

  1. Getting paid to write does not take the fun out of it. 
  2. Just because they love it doesn't mean they won't ask me to rewrite some of it.
  3. My publisher trusts my imagination.
  4. My agent is my book's first and last supporter. 
  5. As my writing improves, I become more aware of my flaws.
  6. The contract is the beginning of the publishing journey, not the end.
  7. People respect my work hours now that writing isn't a "hobby".
  8. After basic structure, editing is foremost about clarifying.
  9. Good writing comes second to good storytelling.
  10. Outside affirmation is a component of success, but true success is not needing it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Can't Attend #BEA14? Then Enter to Win an ARC of STARFIRE Here!

I'm running a new giveaway on Goodreads! If you can't go to Book Expo America 2014 (BEA) and grab a copy, then enter to win one here! Giveaway ends June 5, 2014. Plus, these copies are signed, so they're much cooler. 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Guardian Herd by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

The Guardian Herd

by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Giveaway ends June 05, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Interview with "Flight Through Fire" Author, Carol Fiore

by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Today I'm thrilled to introduce a talented writer and all-around amazing lady, Carol Fiore. Carol's book, Flight Through Fire, is a narrative non-fiction account of what it takes to become a test pilot and what it costs to love one.

Carol's husband, Eric Fiore, a former F15 fighter pilot, is a safety fanatic. So when his test plane crashes in Kansas, Carol is certain of one thing--her husband could not have been flying the plane. Through this gripping tale, you will discover the truth about Eric's accident, experience the response of a billion dollar company, feel the intense pressure put on a hospital, and get to know a couple who love aviation as much as they love each other.

My favorite line from the book is on page 2: Carol and her daughter see smoke from the accident billowing in the distance, even commenting on it, but Carol doesn't sense that anything about the day is different. She writes,  "It would take me years to understand that Eric and I were separate people." In a long marriage, two become one. This book poignantly describes the painful process of one becoming two again. Told with humor, piercing insight, and superb pacing--this is a book I could not put down.

Please enjoy my interview with author and speaker, Carol Fiore.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Winners Announced!

Congratulations to the Goodreads Giveaway Winners!

Amber A. from Macomb Township, MI
Shane M. from Mesquite, NV
Bobby S. from Dunn, NC
Kim Y. from Denton, TX
Bethany T. from Castle Hayne, NC

That's two from North Carolina :) 749 readers entered, and I'm thrilled to send the 5 winners signed ARC's of STARFIRE. It's exciting to ship my book across the country to readers I haven't met. Here's what you're getting!!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014