Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Publication Day

Today I'm celebrating the official publication of my new novel, Cold Hands, Warm Heart. So many people have been wonderful and generous with help. I've received great editing, marketing advice, graphic design tips, cheerleading and hand-holding. I appreciate all of it!

Now, I'm sure that many of you are sitting there thinking, "Gee Jill, what more can I do? Surely there's something." Feel free to quickly move on if that thought never crossed your mind! But everyone tells me that authors have to do more self-promotion, so here goes:

Here are some ideas on what would be helpful at this point.

1. If the economy hasn't completely done you in, buy the book soon.
Buy 1 for yourself. Buy multiple copies and save them as gifts for birthdays and holidays. If you don't have a tween or teen in your life, donate a copy to your public library, nearby school or local hospital library. Strong, early sales are very important in the publishing world; it's how they measure success.

If you live near me, I would be delighted to sign your copy. Or, send me an email and I'll quickly mail you a personalized signed bookplate that you can paste right into the book. You can buy books through any online seller. I also encourage you to buy via your local (and probably struggling) independent bookstore. If they don't have the book in stock, it's easy to place a special order.

2. Spread the word.
Tell any teachers, librarians (public and school), health professionals, social workers, tweens and teens you know about the book. If you are a teacher, consider using it as a read-aloud or order it for the school library. Use it as a text for classroom discussion.

Go on Amazon, Goodreads and other book sites and give it a rating or write a short review. If you are on Facebook or other social networking sites, mention the book in your status update or What I'm Reading Now notes. Become my friend on Facebook and send me congratulations!

If you know anyone who has had an organ transplant or anyone who has been a donor family, make sure they know about the book. Recommend it or buy them a gift.

If you know anyone in the media, tell them that April is National Donate Life month and you know about a great book that looks at a family's decision to donate the organs of their loved one. The author would make a strong and timely interview subject. Pass along their contact info to me and I'll get them a press kit.

3. See me in person.
Come to one of my scheduled events. First event -- This Friday, April 3, 7 pm at Books Inc. in Palo Alto, CA. Check out my blog and Facebook page for updates on where I'll be reading.) Invite friends to come with you. I'm always nervous about speaking in public and your encouraging smile is so helpful. Say hi.

If you are a middle-school, high school or college teacher or librarian, invite me to speak to your students. Recommend me as a speaker to your local bookstore events coordinator, book group, wrirting group or community organization. My book is being marketed as young adult, but grown-ups also find it to be provocative. I can talk to your group about the book itself, about organ donation and can also offer practical advice about writing and publishing.

4. Hugs and well-wishes. These are always appreciated most of all. Send them my way.

Monday, March 30, 2009

SLJ's Battle of the Kids' Books -- Give me a Break!

School Library Journal recently announced its first annual Battle of the (Kids’) Books contest, which will "pit" 16 of last year’s best books for young people against each other. http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/

It's all supposed to be fun and Oscar-ish, a real buzz builder, I suppose. But come on! Really? I've been storming around the house all morning, cranky as hell, muttering to the cat and saying things like:

Do we really need one more meaningless contest that winds up deciding nothing? Which is better Octavian Nothing or Disreputable History? Red or Blue? Pizza or Spaghetti? Hasn't the Newbery already made this completely arbitrary decision once this year?

How many times do we need to hear about the same handful of books? Oh no, not yet another analysis of the joys of Graveyard Book?!

Is this really a meaningful use of space? We authors complain (rightfully so) about the shrinkage of review space in SLJ and PW, etc. There are no newspaper book sections left. Publishers have slashed their publicity budgets unless you've written -- fill in the names of the books mentioned above. So, what's the solution to informing the public about a new book? Hey, let's use the small amount of space available to write about Chains again!!

And how about all the awesome talent lined up to be judges. Jon Scieszka, Meg Rosoff, Tamara Pierce, Lois Lowry. I'd love to hear about their special finds, books that they loved that maybe didn't get the author's handsome face on the cover of every magazine around. But no, they will be weighing in on the same books that everyone else has already talked to death.

Okay, maybe my problem is that I'm an envious, cranky mid-list YA author who talks to her cat and has to fight for every bit of attention for her books. But I wish those who love books and writing and authors used their power to take this contest in a different direction. What about Battle of the Books that You Should Read but Didn't Even Hear About?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jill's Personal Appearances

I would love to see you at one of these upcoming events. Come say hi!

April 3, 7 pm -- Books Inc. Palo Alto, CA. Book launch, reading and signing. Fundraiser for Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. http://www.booksinc.net/

April 5, 4 pm -- Asana Tea Shop, Santa Cruz, CA. Spoken word benefit for WomenCare. http://www.asanateas.com/

April 18, 2 pm -- Hicklebees Bookstore, San Jose, CA. Part of 30 year-anniversary celebration of this landmark children's bookstore. http://www.hicklebees.com/

May 3, 5:30 pm -- Capitola Book Cafe, Capitola, CA. Reading and signing. Learn about organ donation. http://www.capitolabookcafe.com/

May 7, 7 pm -- Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco. Group reading and signing with members of WOMBA (Word of Mouth Bay Area) http://www.bookshopwestportal.com/

May 31, 7 pm -- Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA. Panel discussion about writing for kids and teens. With Paul Fleischman and Jim Lamarche. http://www.bookshopsantacruz.com/

June 20 or 21, 9 am-noon -- Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA. Workshop on writing for teens. http://www.bookpassage.com/

Check back frequently for updates.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Patchwork of Books review

I was excited to see this review of Cold Hands by one of my favorite librarian bloggers. She calls it "beautifully written... one I will recommend to all my teens." You can read the full review at this link: http://apatchworkofbooks.blogspot.com/2009/03/cold-hands-warm-heart-review.html

She isn't thrilled with the cover. Not at all. Nope, I think she hates it, and even the best of us judge by cover. This reviewer isn't alone. I've never had such dramatic and differing opinions on a cover before. Some people dislike it -- What! Pink letters and red on red! What were they thinking? But others are intrigued by how different it looks from other YA books. One college student and YA fanatic specially mentioned how the heart on the cover looks both medical and like a juicy ripe strawberry.

I'd love to hear what you think.

Booklist Review

Booklist calls my new book "well-written...three strands are compelling and give a full view of sibling loss, hospital friendship (and budding romance), and how donated organs can -- and can't -- address recipients' spectrum of needs...Showing teens confronting unexpected emotions in both themselves and others, this novel is sure to please fans of realisitc but gentle teen romance or medical stories."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

First Review of Cold Hands, Warm Heart

My first review has come in! Kirkus gives it a star, which it reserves for books of unusual merit, as determined by the editors.
I'm thrilled!

When Dani looks in the mirror she sees a "blue-lipped, cold-handed, gray-skinned fifteen-year-old." Born with the fatal heart condition dextrocardia, Dani has survived, with difficulty, but now her health is failing fast. Mere miles away from Dani's hospital bed, Amanda, a 14-year-old gymnast, flips and leaps through the air until a freak accident bonds these two strangers forever. Told mostly in Dani's witty voice, the novel reveals her intimate thoughts as readers accompany her through her transplant, as she falls in love with a fellow patient and as she wrestles with the magnitude of receiving another girl's heart. Woven throughout the text are chapters about Amanda, the most powerful of which focus on Tyler, her older brother, and give her life beyond the label of donor. Detailed, accurate descriptions of medical procedures are leavened with humor and sincerity, providing a powerful, multifaceted exploration of ethics, love and the celebration of life. (Fiction. 10 & up)

Monday, March 02, 2009


My new novel, Cold Hands, Warm Heart, is set in the milieu of organ donation. I heard the most amazing stories doing the research and spent a lot of time crying and laughing.

I'd love to hear -- and post -- your story. Are you waiting for a transplant? Are you a recipient? A donor family? Do you have an anecdote about someone you know? Please share!

And, of course, there's a prize for the best stories -- a copy of one of my books mailed to your home.