This is the blog of children's book author and elementary school teacher, Stacy Barnett Mozer. I blog about my own writing journey, the journey of other kidlit authors, my classroom, and talk about books. Thanks for stopping by. Your thoughts are always welcome (and encouraged).

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Children's Book Week Giveaway Hop

It's Children's Book Week and I'm excited to be starting it off surrounded by kidlit authors and illustrators at the New England Conference for the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators. For the first time in the conference's history, any member with a published book was allowed to sell their book at the conference book store, no matter how the book was published (traditional, small press, self). 

I packed some copies of my newly published book in the car and headed off to the conference yesterday. There are so many great books to explore! Since everyone who wrote these books are here someplace, I'm also going to try to get some of them signed.

If you missed getting a copy, don't worry. On the 8th I will be giving a copy of The Sweet Spot away. All you have to do is to leave a post in the comments some time this week and tell me what you think of having so many books for sale. Is it an idea NESCBWI should do again? Would you like to see it done at other conferences? Any other suggestions? How do you find new books?

You can also hop over to other kidlit giveaways going on this week. Just click below.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Getting Ready for #NESCBWI16

NESCBWI16 is only days away. Here's some things I've learned in my years of conference going that may help you prepare for your experience.

What to Wear:
Clothing at the conference is business casual. The rooms fluctuate in temperature so make sure to bring layers.

What to Bring:
These days you can do almost everything from a smart phone so as long as you have one, you are covered for taking photos and getting online. I also always bring a pad of paper and my laptop. The days are long and there are a lot of workshops. Something someone says may inspire you to work on your own manuscript. If you are an illustrator, some of my favorite note taking at the conference has been shared in pictures. Business Cards are helpful for keeping track of new friends. You can print some yourself using store bought Avery Business Cards or have them professionally done.

Things to Know:

Agents and Editors - They are people too. If they are sitting in the conference room, hanging out in the common areas, giving a presentation, or especially, going to the bathroom, they are not looking to hear about your latest manuscript. A good rule of thumb is not to talk about your own work unless someone asks. Instead, if you should meet an agent or editor in a random place, say hello. Ask them how they are doing. The conversation will give you a starting point in your query and may be more likely to get a publishing deal them pulling out your work in an inappropriate place. Don't be remembered for your rudeness, be remembered for your polite and thoughtful conversation. If you are asked about your work, make sure you have your elevator pitch ready - but again, do not use it in an elevator.

Twitter - If you are not already a Twitter user, I highly recommend getting an account, even if all you do is follow #NESCBWI16. It will give you an insiders perspective and access to sessions you don't attend yourself.

Put Yourself Out There! - While the sessions are informational, and the keynotes are inspiring, the best takeaways I have gotten from the conference are from the attendees. People expect you to talk to them, so don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Take advantage of the regional meetup on Friday night. You never know if that random stranger next to you ends up being a new good friend, a critique partner, or one day, a well published author or illustrator. If you've ever experienced one of those terrible speeches when someone says, look to your left, look to your right, some of these people won't be here in four years - SCBWI is the opposite. Look to your left, look to your right, some of these people will be famous one day. It might even be you!

After the Conference:

Don't let your personal connection end after one weekend. I will be on hand throughout the conference making critique group matches and collecting information for the future. The best way to take a conference home with you is to meet locally. Check out the NESCBWI Open Group Site to see what groups are already available. New ones should go up within two to three weeks of the conference so don't get discouraged if you don't see one right away. You can also start your own group. It isn't very hard and I give lots of help.

Looking forward to meeting you!


ARA New England
NESCBWI Critique Group Coordinator

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Interview with Middle Grade Author, Chris Eboch

Today I am interviewing fellow Spellbound River Press author, Chris Eboch. Chris is the author of over 30 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her Haunted series features a brother and sister who travel with their parents’ ghost hunter TV show and try to help the ghosts, while keeping their activities secret from meddling grownups. The fourth book, Ghost Miner's Treasure, released from Spellbound River Press last week.

When did you decide to become an author?

I originally went to college to study photography. I discovered I did not want to be a professional photographer, but I got a great education in creativity and critiquing. I also wrote for the school paper, which got me thinking about writing magazine nonfiction as a career. After a couple of years trying to do that on my own, I went back to college and got a degree in Professional Writing and Publishing. I worked for a couple of magazines briefly before selling my first middle grade novel, The Well of Sacrifice. From then on, I was a children’s book writer!

Tell us about your journey. How did you get your first book published?

I had spent a summer traveling in Mexico and Central America with a friend. That inspired The Well of Sacrifice, a novel set in ninth century Mayan Guatemala. I started writing it while I was looking for work, because I needed something fun to do in between temp jobs and sending out resumes. I’d always loved middle grade fiction and had continued reading it into adulthood. It seemed like a fun place to explore, and shorter than writing an adult novel. It turns out my style, which tends to be fast-paced and tight because of my journalism training, works well for kid lit.

Was there ever a point when you felt like giving up?

I sold my first novel, which in retrospect is astonishing. But I couldn’t sell the next half-dozen novels I wrote. I did manage to get some educational work for hire. That kept me active in the children’s book industry. Otherwise, I don’t know if I would have had the stamina to keep going after so many rejections. I estimate I’ve had at least a thousand rejection letters, if you count all the short stories, articles, novels, and queries to work for hire companies. But the only way to succeed is not to give up.

Is there anything about being a published author that has surprised you?

I’ve been published since 1999, so I have had many surprises, but I suppose I have adapted by now. The publishing business is wacky and outdated, which becomes very clear when you try to explain it to an outsider. It’s slow to update, but fortunately, today we have many different options. And most of the people working in it, from authors and illustrators to agents and editors, are fabulous.

Your Haunted Series was just released from Spellbound River Press. Will there be any changes to the series that we can look forward to? What are your hopes for the series now that it’s part of this new press?

Aladdin/Simon & Schuster first acquired the series, but they dropped it when my editor left. That was disappointing, because I’d hoped to have at least 8 to 12 titles in the series. If The Ghost Miner’s Treasure does well, I’d love to continue writing these adventures. I had plans to set the next one at the Alamo, which has several associated ghost stories, and I have notes for possible future books. Someday, I could even take the kids to other countries!

I love how your character, Tania, interacts with the ghosts in your book. Is it hard to write for an invisible character?

I initially envisioned older brother Jon telling the story, even though he can’t see ghosts. That does make it more difficult to describe the scenes with the ghosts, since he only hears about them secondhand. Then I debated whether Tania should really be the main character/narrator, since she can see the ghosts and she drives much of the action. But I like the complications that arise for Jon because he can’t see what’s happening, and Tania isn’t always great about describing the situation, which can add humor.

I also think the conflict becomes more subtle and realistic this way. Tania’s goal is to help the ghosts deal with whatever is keeping them in this world, so they can move on. Most kids won’t face anything like that. Jon has to figure out when and how to believe things he can’t see. He struggles with doing the right thing. On the one hand, he has loyalty to his sister and helps keep her secrets. But he also has a responsibility to keep her safe and a desire to be honest with others. He has to figure out his role in all of this, in life. So I think kids will identify with him more.

Any advice you would give to a writer just starting out?

Don’t be in too much of a rush to get published. It takes a long time to learn your craft, so take classes, read books and magazines about writing, study other books, and find a great critique group. Eventually you might want to hire a professional editor to give you personalized feedback.

You’ll definitely face rejections, bad reviews, and more at some point in your career, so try to put aside the concept of “failing” and instead focus on “learning.” Maybe your manuscript was rejected by 50 agents. Are you a better writer now than you were before you wrote it? Do you know more about querying? Have you developed a new resistance to rejection? If you’ve made progress as a writer or as a person, then that process was a success.

Also, it’s important to remember that people have different obligations, training, financial resources, and family support. All those things can affect your career path, and so can luck. Do the best you can with what you have, but honor and celebrate your whole self. You are more than just a writer.

Is there anything else about you or your books you would like to tell us?

I’ve written several other novels for ages nine and up. The Eyes of Pharaoh is an action-packed mystery set in ancient Egypt. The Genie’s Gift draws on the mythology of 1001 Arabian Nights to take readers on a fantasy adventure. In The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan girl in ninth-century Guatemala rebels against the High Priest who sacrifices anyone challenging his power. In Bandits Peak, a teenage boy meets strangers hiding on the mountains and gets drawn into their crimes, until he risks his life to expose them. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com, visit my Amazon page, or sign up for my newsletter.

I also have two books on the craft of writing, You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting. Check out my writing tips at my Write Like a Pro! blog. You can also sign up for my workshop newsletter for classes and critique offers.

I also write for adults under the name Kris Bock. I write novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. What We Found is a mystery with romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. Whispers in the Dark involves intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit my Amazon page.

Thanks so much for having me!

Thank you for joining me! Here's how you can learn more about Chris and her books:

Chris’s website
Chris at Amazon
Chris on Facebook

See Chris’s books at Amazon, B&N/Nook, or IndieBound.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Sweet Spot Blog Tour: Thank You!

I can't believe The Sweet Spot has been out with Spellbound River Press for a whole week! Thank you to the bloggers who helped make this tour possible: Nancy TandonJennifer BohnhoffAnnie Douglas LimaTanya ContoisRobert Kent, and Kimberly Sabatini.

I also have to thank the crew at Spellbound River and my amazing cover artist Lois Bradley. 

The Sweet Spot ebook is available on Amazon and iBooks.

The paperback is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

For signed copies call Maria or Theresa at Diane's Books in Greenwich 203-869-1515. 

Even though the tour is over, you may still see me on a couple of new blogs next week. And you can still win a copy of The Sweet Spot by adding it on Goodreads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sweet Spot by Stacy Barnett Mozer

The Sweet Spot

by Stacy Barnett Mozer

Giveaway ends April 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Once you have read the book, don't forget to give it some stars and an honest review on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. 

Thanks again for your support!
Stacy Barnett Mozer