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WOTD: Blog Tour

Today's word of the day is: Blog Tour

Blog Tour: 1. An arduous period of virtual travel in which an author zips from website to website answering questions and putting in face-time and/or avatar-time, staying in electronic motels, eating Virtual Grand Slam Breakfasts at numerous Virtual Denny's, and logging endless lightyears through the tubes and bypasses of the Internet; 2. A million times easier than an in-person book tour; 3. See also: Author Whack-a-Mole.

Blog tours are yet another tool for authors to introduce their books to new readers.  Case in point, my friend and fellow-2k7er Ruth McNally Barshaw, who is this week celebrating the release of her awesome semi-graphical novel, ELLIE McDOODLE: HAVE PEN, WILL TRAVEL. 

Ruthsbook_2Check out this tour schedule:

Stop #1: Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Stop #2: Dotti Enderle

Stop #3: Karen Lee

Stop #4: Kim Norman

Stop #5: Alan Gratz 

Stop #6: Barbara Johansen

And now Stop #7: Right here and right now!

Here are my questions for Ruth and her answers. I only hope I can do as well when it comes time for my blog tour in July (hint: claim your day and get your questions ready now!)

Me: Ruth, we first met through your sketchbook of the SCBWI Winter Conference.  I know you've already answered several questions about that but what I've always wondered is...  How can you draw so well on a moving train? 
Ruth: hahhahaha Practice. And also low expectations. I think it's funny when the lettering is so shaky it's barely legible. Buses are worse. There's no telling when a pothole will push the pen right across the page. I suppose bicycles and pogo sticks would be even worse than buses.

Me: Are your sketches are always so cheerful and humorous?  Is that a reflection of your bubbly personality?
Ruth: Oh, gosh, and here I thought all I exuded was angst. I didn't realize I am bubbly. On the other hand, I do admit when a cool idea strikes me, it's hard to sit still, and sometimes it feels like the idea actually explodes in me while I try to explain it to whomever is sitting next to me. (Because there is usually a great deal of arms-flailing, for instance)
My sketches from New York alternate enthusiasm with despair, I think. I would get all excited to meet someone whose art I admired online for years. Or an idea for a story would strike just when I happened to have a couple minutes to actually scribble it all down. And then the next minute, someone on stage would say something discouraging about the market, or I would personalize what they said and twist it so it meant something dire only for me, and happy blue skies for everyone else around me. I do that a lot. I envision myself on the outside, looking in. Desperately wanting to be one of the cool, chosen ones, but very certain that it'll never happen. It seems to be a recurring issue in my life.
Me: This past year, we have both been active in the Class of 2k7 group of debut authors. How has that experience been for you?
Ruth: Like herding cats. One person will have a good idea, the next person morphs it, adding some more good pointers, then 5 more weigh in, the first person reiterates their good idea, then persons 8 through 12 report on problems with all the various incarnations of the idea, and persons 2 through 6 come up with more variants that might make the first idea work, and meanwhile persons 3, 8, and 20 - 32 report they're suddenly too busy with publisher obligations to discuss the idea, and person 14 calls for a vote. Person 5 suggests that all ideas should be voted on by a clear majority and person 2 asks what the original idea was, again.

Whew. It was cathartic to write that.

Seriously, it's a big group of very diverse authors. I've met 8 in person and talk with a few others almost every day. I love the group. I love the diversity, I love the apparent quality of each of the books. We're seeing lots of positive reviews (starred ones, even!), offers for second books, and enthusiastic backing by publishers. 

It's inspiring rubbing elbows with so many (38) other debut novelists. I want to buy every book (and plan to). I'm happy for all of them, and their achievements, and I am proud to be associated with them.
Me: You also designed the fabulous Class of 2k7 logo.  Could you tell us a little about that?
Ruth: I had a 15-hour deadline because the logo was to appear in a Publisher's Weekly issue, FAST.

I was on the publicity committee, and while most of us on the committee had extensive experience producing all sorts of promotions, on deadline, even, I was the only one with design background.

Incidentally, I burned out doing design work for 25 years. I did not relish the thought of being the only designer in the 2k7 group. It's enormous pressure: Make something look great, under deadline, and make 39 other people happy about it, and do it for free. While balancing your own workload -- book revisions, cover art revisions, etc. 

Whining wasn't going to help, so I emailed the publicity committee and said I needed ideas, fast.

We'd already brainstormed some, for other promotional materials, so we kind of picked up where we'd left off.
I sent around to them a group of about 10 logos. They helped narrow it down to just a few, and then I asked our class president, Greg Fishbone (that'd be you) which one he liked best. We all agreed on the top one, so I took it to final art.

Then I had to learn how to do design on the computer, because the design industry has changed so much in the past 10 years and I've tried to stay out of it, and so there are a lot of things I don't know how to do. But I finished the logo in time. Then I went back to finishing the art on my book.
Me: I got to see an advance reader copy of Ellie McDoodle when we met up in New York this past February.  Everything about the book was just so cool!  What has been your favorite part in the process of publishing this book?
Ruth: Thanks so much, Greg!  :)

I enjoyed writing and illustrating it, back when the idea first hit, in February, 2005. And I thoroughly enjoyed the revisions process last year, because I knew my agent and editor already loved the book, and now I had the chance to make it even more lovable. But now that the reviews are finally coming in -- people are finally reading my book! -- I'm finding I love this stage. The book is finally done, and I think that most people who read it will like it. And some of those who read it and like it will tell others what they think. 

To me, that makes any bit of prior uncertainty or anxiety worthwhile.
Me: Thanks a lot, Ruth, and congratulations on your book!!!
Ruth: Hugs, Greg, and thank you!  :)  And c o n g r a t u l a t i o n s on your book, too!!! 

I can't wait to see your book in person.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 30th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
Great interview, Greg!
Hey, and check my stone stoop blog. You've been tagged!

Aug. 13th, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
Hello to members of this site please to have joined your forum.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )