One thing I've learned over the past year is that book publicity is HARD. It's a real challenge to get the word out about new books, especially when they're independently published like mine and aren't given shelf space in bookstores around the country. In fact, just yesterday my husband received a wonderful email from an old colleague who we'll call Joe, because "colleague" just seems way too formal for this particular blog. Joe started reading Star Sisters with his daughter and eventually connected the dots and realized he knew my husband. Joe sent my husband the nicest email, saying that he loves the books, the characters, the plot lines, and that his daughter talks about them all the time and gets upset when they have to stop reading for bedtime. I replied something along the lines of, "Ahhh!!! Tell Joe he made my entire week!" Joe wrote back that it never occurred to him that his words would make an impact, that because the books were so great he assumed I'd be "big time" by this point.
Oh, big time. Do I want to be big time? Absolutely. Do I think I ever will be. Don't know. But I do know that word of mouth buzz is an enormous part of what drives my book sales. Books aren't all that sexy to photograph. They don't have adorable smiles or chubby baby thighs that make social media followers swoon. But books are wonderful to talk about, with friends, with your children, with that mom you sit next to every week at gymnastics whose name you don't know despite the fact that you do know everything about her son's tree nut allergy and her daughter's wild temper. So please keep spreading the word about Star Sisters and other books you are currently loving. It means a great deal to those of us who pour our hearts into this kind of work.
Some books that I'm currently raving about? First up is A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins, beautifully illustrated by Sophie Blackall.
This picture book shows four families in four different centuries making the same dessert: blackberry fool. It is such a clever way to teach children about history, advances in technology, and societal changes. The first family lives in Lyme England in 1710. A girl and her mother gather blackberries from the forest and they whip their cream with a bundle of clean twigs. The next family is a slave and her daughter who cook on a Southern plantation in 1810, beating their cream with a metal whisk made by the local blacksmith. Then comes a mother and daughter in 1910 Boston who shop at an outdoor market and use cast-iron rotary beaters. Finally a father and son in 2010 San Diego look up the same recipe on the internet and beat their cream with an electric mixer. Despite all the modern advances that the passing time bring, the one constant is that people still come together to enjoy food and each other's company. This book is equal parts educational, beautiful, and touching. I highly recommend it!
For adults, I fell hard for Life Drawing by Robin Black. This book is so beautifully written that I spent half my read shaking my head in awe at Black's skill. It follows the marriage of an older artist couple who move to the country to escape some mistakes of their past. All is well until a neighbor arrives who rocks their marriage and their lives back to unsteady ground. For those of you with young children at home, it's a nice escape specifically because it has nothing to do with raising young children!