Where Is Tommy Smythe? (An EMU News Special Report)

Local teenager Tommy Smythe has disappeared, and the local sheriff is tirelessly hunting for clues.  Where is Tommy now? EMU News takes us live to the small Texas town where the young man was last seen alive.

And that’s the news.  Thank you, and good night.

On a more serious note, Lindsey Lane’s YA debut is truly extraordinary. EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN tells truths both beautiful and terrible; it is funny and tragic, uncomfortable and uplifting.  Tommy Smythe and the subtly interlacing stories of the deeply human people in his town will linger in your mind long after you turn the last page.

Congratulations on your debut novel, Lindsey Lane!  It’s been an honor to participate in the launch of such a special book.

Please comment here–or on any post this week–to be entered to win a T-shirt and a signed ARC of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN by Lindsey Lane!

6 Comments

Filed under ARCs, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Interviews, Launch, Promotion

Evidence for Connection

In one of his lectures on the craft of writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, the great Tim Wynne Jones said that the only place for a coincidence in a story is at the very beginning.  Random events, coincidences—fate—can set a story into motion. But to bring in a coincidence to resolve the unruly details of a complex plot is a cheap trick. That is unless a book’s theme is built around over the top coincidence as in Uma Krishnaswami’s brilliant The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. By chance, or was it design, Lindsey Lane, was in the room listening that day. In her fantastic debut, Evidence of Things not Seen, Lindsey finds a novel way to use coincidence, fate, and random connection: as the premise of a novel, in which a chance event connects a series of lives that might not otherwise be intertwined.

Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane

To celebrate the role of fate and coincidence, we’ve gathered up coincidences that have shaped our books and our lives. Where books start and life begins is not always clear as this coincidence story from Megan Morrison demonstrates:

A long time ago, I co-founded a Harry Potter web site. After a few years of running the site, I became less involved and rarely posted anymore – until one day, when I saw a post written by someone whose username I’d never noticed before. The post was snarky and hilarious; it was something I’d been dying to say, but as a founder of the site, I felt that my saying it would be inappropriate. Still, it was so satisfying to see someone else give voice to my schadenfreude that I privately messaged a thank-you note to the snarky stranger – something I had never done before. Now, the internet is a big place… but what do you know? It turned out that the snarky stranger lived just a few subway stops away from me, in Brooklyn. So we met up for a drink on July 30th (Neville Longbottom’s birthday, for you HP nerds). Nine happy years and one son later, I’m pretty glad that I randomly replied to that post!

Donna Bowman Bratton also found her partner though literacy and coincidence:

I once replied to a two week old casting call for a mystery fundraiser to benefit our local Literacy Council. There was to be a play. On a stage. Now, I’m sure my parents considered me a drama queen, but I had never been in theatre. Yet here I was, in my twenties, answering this ad. What the heck was I thinking? Lo and behold, all parts were cast, except one, the director explained by phone.
      “You wouldn’t happen to be in your twenties,” she asked. “And, by any wild chance, do you have long blonde hair?”
      “Um, yeah,” I stammered, In the most theatrical voice I could muster.
I showed up for rehearsal and learned that my character, Lotta, was to be murdered, strangled, by her “husband” over a winning lottery ticket. Between rehearsals and performances, I died at least thirteen times, falling to the floor with a flourish. And, each time, my gentlemanly “husband” ensured that my skirt didn’t billow up to reveal too much of, um, me. That last part is what got me.
        A few years later, I married my murderer. Yep, falling in love was murder.
Fast forward a few years and we had all but given up hope of having a baby. Until one very memorable day when, in an hugely unexpected way, I discovered I was pregnant. It was Valentine’s Day!

Friends matter every bit as much as partners. Jennifer Chambliss Bertman believes that fate brought one of her best friends into her life:

I’m never quite certain about the difference between coincidence and fate, but I suppose I could chalk one of my best friendships up to coincidence. Katherine and I knew each other peripherally as undergrads. Then, by chance, we attended the same small MFA Creative Writing program—so small, she and I made up 25% of our class! I initially worried that we wouldn’t get along. I am quiet, introverted, and not comfortable with all eyes on me. Katherine is vivacious, talkative, and not self-conscious about being loud. I didn’t think we had much in common, which is hilarious to me now, given how much it turns out we actually do have in common. We both double majored in English and Dance. We’re both from northern California. We both have brothers. We’re both crafty. We have a similar sense of humor. We have both spent a lot of time working with kids. Of course we both love to read and write. We both have a lifelong love of children’s literature. Our MFA program was challenging in ways I hadn’t anticipated, and I don’t know if I would have hung in there that first year without Katherine’s friendship. And that was just the beginning of one of the most enduring and meaningful friendships of my life. Now that’s a coincidence to be grateful for.

Coincidences give us faith. They are signs that we are on the right path as Tamara Ellis Smith found with marbles:

So I signed with my agent, Erin Murphy, primarily for the middle grade novel that became my debut, Another Kind of Hurricane. At the time it was called Marble Boys, because a big part of the story is that one of the main characters, Henry, has a lucky magic marble that he trades back and forth with his best friend…and then loses…and goes on an adventure to find. Shortly after we began working together Erin sent me an email that went something like this: “You’ll never guess what happened! I was digging in a new garden plot, and guess what I found way down deep in the dirt? A marble! A magic marble! A sign!”

Since then, this has happened a few more times with kids in my neighborhood. They have found marbles in their gardens too! I don’t know, but I’m thinking magic marbles grow, like sunflowers or irises…

Laurie Ann Thompson shares how coincidence brought her book to life!

Many coincidences resulted in my third book, My Dog Is the Best, coming next June. After workshopping it for a couple of years, I learned that people either loved the manuscript… or hated it. When I submitted the manuscript that became Emmanuel’s Dream to agent Ammi-Joan Paquette in 2011, she replied saying she liked it and wanted to see what else I had. I sent her the manuscripts that would become Be a Changemaker and My Dog Is the Best. She responded with an offer of representation! We quickly got to work getting Be a Changemaker and Emmanuel’s Dream ready for submission, but she never said anything about My Dog, so I just assumed she hated it. Two years later, Janine O’Malley happened to casually mention to Joan that she was looking for a cute dog story. Joan remembered filing My Dog away for just the right editor—one who would love it—and she sent it to Janine. Janine loved it! She had a particular illustrator in mind who turned it down, but a few days later author/illustrator Paul Schmid just happened to be in New York handing out postcards, one of which landed on Janine’s desk. She thought his style was a good fit, and he got the job. This book truly wouldn’t have come together without the numerous coincidental intersections between Joan, Janine, Paul, and me. It feels like it was meant to be!

Coincidence and fate shaped my book life too. In August of 2012, on my way from my home in Vermont to spend the year in Yerevan, Armenia my flight from Newark to London was cancelled. As a result, I was sure to miss the once a day flight from London to Yerevan. The folks at United suggested that I just stay put in beautiful Newark for the next 24 hours and take the same evening flight one day later to London. But to be sure not to miss the flight again, I insisted instead that they put me on the early morning flight to London. I was completely unaware that the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) annual meeting was just wrapping up in London at that very moment. I arrived well into the evening, got some take out Indian food, and a decent night’s sleep. The next day, I boarded the tube to return to Heathrow. At the tube stop after mine, a woman struggled to board the train with a number of heavy bags. I helped her get in and settled. Her modest dress, beautiful dark eyes and high cheekbones made me wonder if she, like me, might be heading to Armenia, so I asked her. It turned out that Sahar Tarhandeh, was the Bookbird Correspondent of the Children’s Book Council of Iran and a juror for the Hans Christian Andersen Prize. She had come to London to attend IBBY. Our friendship began with an hour-long magical conversation about children’s literature and the power of books to transcend political boundaries and to promote peace and connections across the globe. A few months into my stay in Yerevan, when Ammi-Joan Paquette sold my verse novel, Like Water on Stone, to Delacorte Press, it was especially sweet to know that Sahar cheered me on from a land just to the east of where my story is set.

In Armenian we say that our fate, jagad a kir, is literally written on our foreheads. Do we write this ourselves or do these events just happen? Whether they are about marbles, books, long lasting friendships, or love, these events, like Lindsey’s Evidence of Things Not Seen, affirm our fundamental human connectedness.

18 Comments

Filed under Launch

Roadside Encounters

Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey LaneIn Lindsey Lane’s haunting EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, her character, Tommy Smythe, disappears from a Texas pullout. Never heard of a pullout? Think dusty, side-of-the-road spot, a place to set up a farm stand, change a flat, or maybe even catch an hour of sleep.

For today’s post, the EMUs put their heads together to come up with their most memorable pullout and/or roadside-related stories, ranging from humorous to hopeful, eerie to unforgettable.

 

Donna Bowman Bratton
Everything’s bigger in Texas, or so the saying goes. Turnout areas, or pullouts, are fairly common in the expansive rural areas that abut Texas cities. Depending on the season, it’s not unusual to see fruit, shrimp, rugs, puppies, firewood, all kinds of things being quietly hawked at turnouts from trunks, truck beds, and umbrella-topped card tables. It’s all forgettable stuff, really. Until it’s not. When I was a little girl, my father, a successful corporate business owner, embarked on his annual hunting weekend. After a few days, he left the deer lease without a “trophy,” but he was determined not to come home empty-handed. On his return drive, he came across a turnout where something irresistible, something bizarre, something HUGE tickled his funny bone. I can only imagine the looks on the faces of other drivers as he chauffeured his prize home. Dad walked through the front door of our home with a GINORMOUS, HAIRY, G-G-GORILLA! My mother looked at it in stunned silence. I vaguely remember diving gleefully into the mountain of fluffy cuteness. A few days later, my mother picked me up from school and took me to the office. There was a new desk at the front door and on it was a brass desk plate that read Hairy G. Orilla, Credit Manager. Hairy sat behind his desk, glasses on his face, and tie around his neck, greeting all who entered. For a long time, he made people smile. Folks probably thought twice about asking for credit. And now, all these years later, a new story is swirling in my mind about this particular Texas-sized gorilla, who came to life at a roadside turnout.

Pulloutsketch

Lindsey’s sketch of a pullout for EVIDENCE

Penny Klostermann
My family was traveling from Colorado to Texas. We all needed a potty stop. We were in the middle of nowhere and the next town was miles and miles away. It was dark. My dad spotted a dirt pullout which turned out to have old gas tanks and the skeleton-wall of an old gas station. My dad, being the only guy in a family of six, left the area closer to the car for us and walked around by the skeleton-wall. The next thing we heard was, “Naomi, I need your help. I’ve stepped in something!” We, of course, were all wondering what he had stepped in and wanted to giggle. But we could tell by his tone that this wasn’t a giggling-allowed moment. No. He didn’t step in the previous potty stoppers potty stuff. But it was still pretty gross. His shoe, sock, and pants leg were dripping. He had stepped up to his knee in a hole of slimy, grimy, dirty, old oil. (Those were the days before there were regulations about properly disposing of old oil.) After some rummaging through the trunk for a fresh set of clothes and a way to dispose of ruined ones, Mom and Dad got it worked out and we were on our way.

Eventually we giggled. And giggled some more. Yep! That oily, “pull out” fiasco has been a family favorite that has kept us giggling for about fifty years.

 

Pullout2

Mylisa Larsen
One winter, while driving to northern Minnesota, my husband, my two teenaged sons, and I stopped at a deserted rest stop. We’d just come out of the building and were heading back to our car when two large, brown rabbits came out from under some bushes and started lolloping in our direction. They seemed weirdly untwitchy and determined for rabbits. We backed toward our car. They followed. One of the boys stomped his feet at them. They followed.

We looked at each other and, in that moment, had a four-way, group flashback to the killer rabbit scene in Grail. We turned and made a Pythonesque dash for the car. Maybe they were just someone’s abandoned pets looking for a handout, but it wasn’t gonna be our blood in the snow if they weren’t.

Laurie Ann Thompson
We were on a family road trip many years ago when my son was just old enough to be potty trained, but still young enough to not be giving us very much notice. My husband was taking a nap in the passenger seat and I was driving when my son suddenly screamed that he had to go, “Right now!” There were no exits on the highway. There was no place to stop safely. Meanwhile, things were clearly growing more and more urgent in the backseat. Finally, I spied a pullout. I raced into it, slammed the van into park, and pushed the button to open the side door. My son unbuckled his car seat, ran to the edge of the pullout, and did his business in the grass. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, leaned back in my seat, and looked up to see a large sign directly in front of our van: “WARNING: THIS AREA UNDER 24-HOUR VIDEO SURVEILLANCE. ANYONE URINATING HERE WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE FINED $1,000.” Relief turned to despair as I imagined one quick decision turning into the most expensive road trip ever. Fortunately, they were either faking it or took pity on a small boy in distress and his panicked mother, because we never did receive a ticket. Thanks, WSDOT!

Tara Dairman
My husband and I were on an “overnight” bus in Mali, West Africa. We had taken lots of overnight buses in other countries that drove throughout the night to get us to our destination, so we assumed that it was the same deal here. Not so! Around 3 am, the driver pulled over to the side of a desolate road, and everybody clambered down off the bus. Thinking it was just a bathroom break, Andy and I followed–only to witness everyone else rolling out blankets in the dirt and bedding down on them. Everyone, including the driver (and even, eventually, the two of us) slept at the side of the road for the next three hours before loading back into the bus to continue the journey when the sun came up.

Pullout1

Amy Finnegan
I was raised in Northern Utah, near Logan, and my grandparents lived forty-five minutes south in Brigham City. Their home is the site of some of my favorite childhood memories, but in order to get there, we had to go through the ten mile or so stretch of road that locals call Sardine Canyon. In the days of my youth, the canyon was twisty, narrow, and downright scary (especially in winter). Every year there were multiple automobile fatalities, and to add to its ominous reputation, there was a single opportunity to pull to the side of the road. But no one ever, ever, no matter how badly we needed to stretch or use a restroom, suggested we stop there. You see, there was a bar at that pullout—blood red with just a single electric beer sign hung in one of the dark windows. Once in a while we would see a lone battered pick-up truck parked out front, or even more frightening, a line of large black motorcycles—Hell’s Angels, no doubt, because who else would dare to stop at that horrifying place? But that was all. Every time we passed this bar, my family would fall silent as if we were all afraid someone might hear the hum of our engine and chase after us with an ax. And I always stared with both wonder and fear, certain at that very moment there was a murder taking place right before my eyes . . . if I could only see through those blacked-out windows. So there is the stuff of my childhood nightmares (and still, I’ll admit). Creeeepy.

Jennifer Bertman
Jenn PulloutThis is a photo from June 2004, taken at a pullout somewhere in the middle of Utah. My then boyfriend/now husband and I were about halfway on our road trip moving me from California to my future home in Colorado. I’d never lived anywhere other than California, other than a brief summer in Manhattan, and my decision to move to Colorado is probably one of the most daring things I’ve ever done. I walked away from a great job and the perfect studio in San Francisco, and put hundreds and hundreds of miles between my family and closest friends. But I knew it was the right decision, and that’s what I see more than anything when I look at this picture of myself at a pullout in the middle of Utah: my excitement about the future that lies ahead of me.

Dana Walrath
There is nothing quite like a pullout Armenian style.  Ancient Armenia spanned from the Black Sea down to the Mediterranean, over to the Caspian and included high peaks in the Caucasus mountain range. Silk Road caravans traversed these lands, so pullouts always include delicious mountain spring water flowing into a stone or tiled basin. Fertile river valleys of the Euphrates, Tigris, Arax, and so many more, let people populate these pullouts with tasty edibles and things of beauty: small bundles of the earliest mountains flowers in February; wild asparagus and godek, a green worthy of “super-food” status in March and April; tart green unripe apricots, promising sweet glory as they ripen; the luscious tomatoes, melons, grapes, and figs as summer turns into fall; dried herbs, jars of pickled vegetables, teas, homemade wine and flavored vodkas.  My first experience with these pullouts was the summer of 1984, as I travelled in today’s Eastern Turkey—the Western Armenia of my ancestors. At a pullout along the road from Trabzon to Artvin, I tasted my very first Asia Minor Apricot, just picked fresh from the tree. Its flavor stayed like a ghost on my tongue haunting me for nearly 30 years. In June of 2013, I found it again, at last, at a pullout along the Ararat Valley on the other side of the closed border between Turkey and the tiny land-locked independent Republic of Armenia. Mounds of apricots cast a sweet, golden aura on the pullout. Each bite in that familiar pullout setting, made me sure of the continuity and the need for connection on both sides of this closed border.

Have an interesting pullout story of your own? Share in the comments for your chance to win a signed ARC of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, plus a killer T-shirt!

To purchase a copy of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN from your local independent bookstore, find one here or order it from your favorite national or online retailer such as FSG, BookPeoplePowell’sB&N,or Amazon.

5 Comments

Filed under Celebrations, Book Promotion, Promotion

What Happened to Texas Tommy?

Beautiful, complex, and honest, Lindsey Lane’s EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN interweaves storylines full of intrigue, emotion, and murder with fundamental matters of the not seen (faith and science blended subtly and masterfully).

Releasing Today!

Releasing Today!

I’m here to talk about some of that science.

Pop quiz!

What's In The Box

Remember that scene in Se7en when Brad Pitt had Kevin Spacey at gunpoint? If you haven’t seen the movie, there’s a spoiler below. If you have seen the movie, you think you probably know the answer.

 

If you’re like Tommy Smythe, the centerpiece in Lindesy Lane’s marvelous debut, EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, you know the answer is…. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Celebrations, Launch

EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN: Agent and Editor Interviews!

Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey LaneThis week, we Emus are absolutely thrilled to be celebrating the launch of Lindsey Lane‘s debut young adult novel, EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN! A twisty, turny, super-smart story about a teenager who goes missing and the people in his small Texas town who are affected, EVIDENCE is an unputdownable read that will be out in the world on September 16.

Here’s a more detailed summary:

When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Tommy was adopted, so maybe he ran away to find his birth parents. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in his own thoughts about particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pull-out off the highway, so maybe someone drove up and snatched him. Or maybe he slipped into a parallel universe. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it is possibly true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.

Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy and third-person chapters about people who find the things Tommy left behind—his red motorbike, his driving goggles, pages from his notebook—Evidence of Things Not Seen explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities

Want a signed ARC of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, and a T-shirt? Just leave a comment on any post this week for a chance to win!

We’ll have a new post every day this week, delving into the fascinating world of this book, and today we’re kicking things off with interviews of two very important people: Lindsey’s agent, Erin Murphy, and her editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Joy Peskin.

Interview with Agent Erin Murphy

Erin pictureTara Dairman: EVIDENCE is not your typical YA novel. What about it grabbed your attention when Lindsey queried you with it?

Erin Murphy: Well, first of all, Lindsey herself grabbed me. We’d met a few years earlier, when she was just going into the program at VCFA, and I really liked her then–her energy, her focus–but I felt she should wait to sign with an agent after she was through the program, because it can change a writer so much. When she approached me after she graduated, I appreciated how READY she felt. She sounded sure and steady.

And the manuscript itself–the concept was intriguing, in a could-fall-flat-or-could-blow-the-doors-off kind of way, and it blew my doors off. The different voices carried me away. It had incredible potential, and it was one of those situations where I had complete and utter confidence that the writer could take it to the next level. It certainly helped that while she was waiting for me to read it, Lindsey had time to step away from it herself and come back to it anew–and then she did something completely unorthodox: She read it through and wrote herself an editorial letter, and sent it to me to see if I concurred with her thoughts on what needed work. I did, although I had some thoughts to add to the mix, too. I loved that she did that. It showed me how hard she’s willing to work, how self-motivated she is, and how clearly she can see her own work.

TD: Did the unique structure and premise of EVIDENCE make it easy for you to decide which editors to submit it to, or more difficult?

EM: It made it easy. It went to editors I knew would fight for it despite the unusual form if they fell in love with the writing. (And how could they not fall in love with the writing?) I focused on editors who were known for taking chances to good effect, and who were well established. I think if new-ish editors had gotten a manuscript like this, it would have been harder for their team to trust them to have a vision for it–although if we hadn’t seen success on the first round, I would have definitely broadened my thinking about that. Joy Peskin at FSG read it quickly and fell in love with and had a strong vision for it, and worked fast to put together a preempt so we’d take it off the table elsewhere. She and Lindsey spoke and hit it off so well that it felt like we’d found the best possible home for the project, so we accepted the offer. I had thought that because of the unusual structure, we might find just one editor who was interested–the right editor, the one person who really got it. But it turned out that if we hadn’t taken the preempt, we would have had quite a lot of interest from others, too. Editors really are looking for something they’ve never seen before, something completely fresh and new.

 

joy peskin photo may 2013Interview with Editor Joy Peskin

TD: Most novels have one or two protagonists, but in EVIDENCE, there’s a new protagonist in every chapter. How did this affect the editorial process?

Joy Peskin: That’s a good question. Lindsey’s skill with the range of protagonists is one key thing that drew me to this book. Oftentimes, authors struggle to give multiple narrators (even just two!) distinct voices. But Lindsey was able to create this wide cast of characters and each voice was immediately different. I never got one character confused with another. One thing we did work on in the editorial process was lengthening the book, because when it came in it was a little short. And the way we did that was to weave in a few all-new characters and also to elaborate on some of the stories of the existing characters.

For example, in the original draft of the manuscript, the chapter called “Ritual” didn’t exist. The main character in that chapter, Tara, showed up in the chapter called “Lost,” but she played a minor role. Lindsey decided to give Tara her own chapter, and to tell more of her story, and we ended up with one of the most powerful chapters in the book. So the wide range of characters gave us a unique way to extend a manuscript. Instead of telling more of the story overall, we looked for supporting characters who demanded more of a starring role.

TD: One of the most striking aspects of EVIDENCE, to me, is that some chapters are in first person, while others are in third. Was that something that changed during the editorial process? How did you and Lindsey decide which POV was the right one for each chapter?

JP: Lindsey decided to put each chapter that comes from someone who actually knew Tommy in first person—his classmates, friends, parents, etc.—and to put each chapter that comes from someone who finds something Tommy left behind in third person. I think that worked out really well. I imagine the first person chapters almost like monologues, which makes sense because Lindsey is a playwright. I also imagine that the characters in these chapters are talking to an investigator who is off the page. And the third person chapters are almost like short stories. You may begin reading one and think, “Wait, what does this person’s story have to do with Tommy?” But then you keep reading and see the character find something that belonged to Tommy, and it makes you think about the seemingly random ways our lives overlap. As Tommy wrote, “We leave pieces of ourselves everywhere,” and part of the thrill of reading this book is seeing who found all the pieces Tommy left behind.

TD: What do you think really happened to Tommy?

JP: I hate to say it, but I think something bad happened to Tommy. Maybe he was abducted? It actually really bothers me to say that, because I like Tommy so much, and I wish I could say that he slipped through a wormhole into another dimension. But in my heart of hearts, I don’t think it’s possible.

 ***

Thank you so much, Erin and Joy, for taking the time to give us all some behind-the-scenes insight into this incredible book. And congratulations, Lindsey, on your debut!

You can get your own copy of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN from your local independent bookstore (find one here), or order it from your favorite national or online retailer such as FSG, BookPeoplePowell’sB&N, or Amazon.

Please comment here–or on any post this week–to be entered to win a T-shirt and a signed ARC of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN by Lindsey Lane!

16 Comments

Filed under Agents, Book Promotion, Editing and Revising, Interviews, Launch, Publishers and Editors

WINNER: BE A CHANGEMAKER Giveaway!

Today I have a new reason to love living in the Pacific Northwest: I was able to attend Laurie Ann Thompson‘s Seattle launch party for BE A CHANGEMAKER!  I happily joined in the blue-and-orange fun. After Laurie read an excerpt of her work, she introduced several outstanding teenagers who talked about their amazing change-making ventures.  The energy in the room was so inspiring and positive – I felt lucky to be present!  And of course, I couldn’t wait to get my copy signed.

20140914_154247

Laurie and me at the CHANGEMAKER launch

To conclude Laurie’s fabulous launch week, we’re delighted to announce the winner of a signed ARC of BE A CHANGEMAKER:

Catherine Johnson!

Congratulations, Catherine!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Music to Be A Changemaker By

Mozart to Eminem, Krudas Cubensi to Mazz Swift, or John Coltrane to Beyonce. Music feeds the soul and no doubt invigorates my passion to rock the word.

changemaker_jacket_r3.inddChildren’s author e.E. Trujillo shared this on Monday – that one source of inspiration for her is music. This is true for so many people; there’s so arguing that a great beat can feed your body with energy or that clear, powerful lyrics can make your brain buzz with ideas. And then there’s that hard-to-articulate quality that music can bring – almost like a magnifying glass or a drop of concentrated flavor – it makes what’s already there just so much…more. What a great source of inspiration for making change!

On this final day of welcoming Laurie Ann Thompson‘s debut BE A CHANGEMAKER into the world, we wanted to explore this idea. BE A CHANGEMAKER is a guide for young people who want to make positive change within their communities and beyond. This is good, hard work. Music helps harness the determination needed to do such work, it fills the room with creativity, and, as Trujillo said so well, it invigorates the passion you need to rock the word – or world.

And so, here are some of the songs that invigorate the EMU mob. Read about why we chose these particular songs and then click on our Spotify playlist to hear them for yourself!

 

allwillbewell

Megan Morrison

Being a changemaker means having the courage and motivation to get things done.  My Get-It-Done music falls into three categories:

  1. Philosophical. Sometimes, the ability to make change comes from a place of deep faith and serenity, a place of openness and optimism.  All Will Be Well by the Gabe Dixon Band is a song I listen to when I want to tap into my better self and achieve that sense of serenity.
  2. Revolutionary.  Sometimes, change comes from outrage in the face of injustice, and the desire to rebel against that injustice. I love a lot of songs with that message, but Muse’s Uprising is the boss.
  3. Triumphant. Making real change in the world is a slow, frustrating process, so it’s important to celebrate and appreciate every small success along the way.  I can’t think of a better song for that purpose than Queen’s cathartic power ballad We Are the Champions. 

 

Hallelujah for Mr. JimLindsey Lane

So I am not a religious person but I am a spiritual person and music, for me, is a spiritual experience. In fact I would say that the soundtrack that has played throughout my life has deepened me, inspired me, and generally made me a happier person.

Here are some of my faves:

  1.  Van Morrison – On the Bright Side of the Road – This song always makes me happy and makes me believe in a brand new day.
  2. Joan Osborne – One of Us – Her question: “what if God was one of us…just a stranger on the bus…trying to make his way home?” Well, that’s just sheer brilliance.
  3. Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah – Enough said.
  4. Rodney Crowell – Earthbound – The beauty of being alive and the irony of being earthbound.
  5. Bob Dylan – Just Like A Woman – It’s cruel to pick only one Dylan song but it would be even crueler to leave him out.
  6. Grateful Dead – Sugar Magnolia – This was my seminal song.
  7. Olu Dara – Okra – African rhythms, simple lyrics, deceptive in their depth; it will get you dancing in the kitchen.

 

Christine Hayes

 I listen to music pretty much all the time! Movie soundtracks are my favorite. They’re just so spectacular, and they make anything seem possible. I love anything by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. I love Lindsey Stirling and Jake Shimabukuro. Two albums in particular that I love are Audiomachine’s Chronicles and Kerry Muzzey’s Trailer Music 2. I could go on and on!

 

images Mylisa Larsen

 Samuel Barber’s Adagio (the Kronos Quartet version from the album Winter Was Hard because it’s a nice, minimalist version.) It’s great clear my head music for when it gets too busy up there. And the King’s Singers version of New Day because, not to get too soppy, but it always makes me think of my kids.

 

 

Dana Walrath

 The music of Salif Keita always soothes and inspires.  Keita has spent his life leading change. Outcast on account of his albinism, he also broke the rules by becoming a musician. This was something he wasn’t supposed to do on account of his birth into a noble family, a descendant of the emperor of Mali. I saw him live once and he opened on a huge stage just his soulful voice and guitar carrying the entire audience as he sang Folon.  I love how his lyrics go back and forth between many different languages and show how we are connected.

 

Penny Parker Klostermann

I don’t listen to music while I work. I like total silence. But when I’m blocked or stuck, I listen to mood lifting music that makes me happy or evokes a creative mood. It helps me get past the frustration.

  1. I’m Yours/Over the Rainbow by Straight No Chaser (Reminds me of my inspiring EMLA family)
  2. Happy by Pharrell Williams (snappy and happy)
  3. Let It Go by​ Idina Menzel (inspires me​ to let my​ creativity go)
  4. Amazing Grace by​ Chris Tomlin (I love hymns. I have sung them all my life and I think singing them  ​helps me recognize rhythm in language.​)​

imagesAmy Finnegan

My song is I Will Survive!

Best disco song ever, and very appropriate for a writer trying to break into publishing. Also appropriate for teens trying to get through their school years – bad breakups, difficult friends, too many bullies, impossible classes – as well as finding their place in the world and making a difference! We will all survive!

 

Donna Bowman Bratton

 When I’m not working in total silence, I generally listen to a six-hour playlist of quiet instrumentals while I write.  I’ve found a lot of soundtracks do the trick for me: Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Dances with Wolves, Shakespeare in Love, and some albums of reading/studying music that contain that even tone I need.

As for inspiration music, here’s what comes to mind – maybe in this particular order:

  1.  The Climb, by Miley Cyrus (before she went off the deep end)
  2. What Doesn’t Kill You by Kelly Clarkson
  3. These Are the Days by Keith Urban
  4. 100 Years by Five for Fighting
  5. It’s My Life by Bon Jovi

 

Jennifer Bertman

  1.  The Middle by Jimmy Eat World.  Publishing is a long journey filled with ups and downs. Patience is your ally. The lyrics to this song have always been a good pep talk during the “downs” of publishing (and other life moments): Hey, don’t write yourself off yet/It’s only in your head/you feel left out or looked down on/Just do your best, try everything you can/And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re awake/It just takes some time/Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride/Everything, everything will be just fine/Everything, everything will be alright, alright
  2.  Right Now by Van Halen. Life is precious, time is fleeting. This song reminds me to act now for the things that matter to me. The best line in the song is “Right now it’s your tomorrow.” That reminds me to keep looking forward, and that what I do today – large or small – makes a difference in determining who the future me will be.

images

Rebecca VanSlyke

 My songs are two versions of What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. They’re just my “feel good” songs. That no matter what terrible things might be occurring, this world has some wonderful things happening in it, too, and it’s worth saving.

 

Listen to all of these songs here. Really!  On a personal note, I didn’t know half of these songs when I made this playlist and after I compiled it I played it through from beginning to end as I worked. I. Was. Inspired. (And I sang out loud and even—don’t tell my kids or you will embarrass them—danced!)

 

 

BE A CHANGEMAKER is coming on September 16! Don’t wait! Run out and buy it, and then put on your favorite tunes and get ready to make a difference! You can get your own copy from your local independent bookstore (find one here), or order it from your favorite national or online retailer such as Simon & SchusterPowell’sB&Nor Amazon.

And please comment here–or on any post this week–to be entered to win a signed ARC of BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson!

9 Comments

Filed under Advice, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Creativity, Launch, Promotion, Uncategorized

BE A CHANGEMAKER: A Tool for Change

changemaker_jacket_r3.inddI borrowed this synopsis of Laurie Ann Thompson’s book, BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS, from Beyond Words/Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

“Do you wish you could make a difference in your community or even the world? Are you one of the millions of high school teens with a service-learning requirement? Either way, Be a Changemaker will empower you with the confidence and knowledge you need to affect real change. You’ll find all the tools you need right here—through engaging youth profiles, step-by-step exercises, and practical tips, you can start making a difference today.

This inspiring guide will teach you how to research ideas, build a team, recruit supportive adults, fundraise, host events, work the media, and, most importantly, create lasting positive change. Apply lessons from the business world to problems that need solving and become a savvy activist with valuable skills that will benefit you for a lifetime!”

The book sounds incredible, doesn’t it? You may be wondering how one book can offer all of this. Well, Laurie’s book does. I’ve read it and was amazed, not only with the information, but with the way in which Laurie presented it.

When the publisher says, “You’ll find the tools you need right here—”, they mean it.  And the information is presented with a simplicity that isn’t overwhelming.

Want a peek? Click HERE for a short excerpt from the Event Planning Boot Camp chapter. You will see how Laurie’s easy-to-follow tips will walk you through planning an event by considering your goals, taking a look at your financials, and evaluating staff for your event team.

HERE you can view the first 25 pages of BE A CHANGEMAKER. This glimpse will be inspiring and empowering. You will see how this book’s straight-forward approach is a tool for change.

bigger size

BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO S TART SOMETHING THAT MATTERS debuts next Tuesday, September 16th, 2014.

You can get your own copy of BE A CHANGEMAKER from your local independent bookstore (find one here), or order it from your favorite national or online retailer such as Simon & SchusterPowell’sB&N, or Amazon.

And please comment here–or on any post this week–to be entered to win a signed ARC of BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson!

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations, Launch

BE A CHANGEMAKER: Celebrating with Quotes!

Be A Changemaker by Laurie Ann ThompsonWe are continuing the celebration for Laurie Ann Thompson’s debut Be A Changemaker, which will be published on September 16. Inspirational quotes are peppered throughout the book, and so we Emu’s decided to share quotes that have been meaningful and motivating to us. We’d love to hear your favorite quotes too!

And remember, comment on any post this week and be entered to win a signed copy of Be A Changemaker!

 

 

From Donna Bowman Bratton:

This quote by Ben Franklin has been posted above my computer for years. It obviously speaks to the writer in me, but it hints, too, at taking conscious actions for change.

BrattonBF

 I love this quote by Charles Lamb because it so simply speaks to the heart of any good deed, large or small.

There-is-nothing-so-nice

 
Of course, the ultimate quote for any changemaker comes from Mahatma Gandhi:
 
5pWJ6M5WAPpBE33ztTSBvQ
 
 
 

 

From Jennifer Chambliss Bertman:

This quote reinforces my belief that even our smallest actions can make a difference, even though we may never witness the impact, and reminds me that I want to be someone who brightens the day for others, rather than tarnishes it.

 

9b446fffef984b3b0728c993d2a07a57

 

From Christine Hayes:

You can probably see why, as a writer, I find this quote inspiring. :) I usually substitute “people” for “men” in my own mind, and I’ve seen that done all over the web as well, but I’m guessing the version below is the correct one. On the days when I feel especially short on talent, this quote keeps me going.

-isdSIAM3K7v0cmPPIo60Q

 

From Amy Finnigan:

bxcp-n3mqhAOHVZnVLvi9A

 

From Penny Parker Klostermann:

Dr. Seuss is kind of my go-to guy for a laugh or for a quick reminder that I’m in charge of doing the work it takes to reach my dreams.

j45O-BjeXXgyf6L4YzHGFg

From Lindsey Lane:

What I love about this quote is that Goethe was born in 1749 and I’ve experienced the ‘truth’ of his observation time and again. If I don’t begin, nothing happens.

 

snap

 

From Mylisa Larsen:

Usually when you see someone making something look effortless, it’s because they spent thousands of hours mastering whatever they’re making seem simple and inevitable. This is a quote that gets me back to my desk to put in some more hours.

 

mDhhRqbI9XdDN5tTs90h0w

 

From Joshua McCune:

This quote adapted from Emerson’s poem “Merlin’s Song” reminds me to not just live life to the fullest, but to live it as myself, to open myself to new experiences, and to do it with joy. It’s that last part that’s hardest for me. Scowl, and the world scowls at you. Smile, and the world smiles with you. The world could use more smiles.

DTWA

 

From Megan Morrison:

This idea is at the marrow of my personal belief system. Success requires two things: a clear vision and the will to carry it out, and this is true whether you want to change your wallpaper or change the world.  The first part is tricky, because it requires that we are honest with ourselves about what we want and what we are willing to do. The second part is grueling, because it requires consistent action over a long period of time, and that action must be sustained even during times of doubt and lack of inspiration. But commitment is its own reward. Nothing is more satisfying than to look back after many months and years of climbing a personal mountain to see how far you’ve really come.
 
First-say-to-yourself
 

 

 
 
 
From Rebecca Van Slyke:
I like this quote because I was so, SO close to that ‘give up’ point, but a friend sat me down and pointedly told me that I needed to keep going, fire my current agent, pursue a different agent, and keep writing. A few months later I had 4 books in contract.
 
 
3c3b1b1b92a8425df1d28eaa0654a5d3
 
 
 
 

 

From Dana Walrath:
 
gVh3EudFs6d-kKb9zLmMtA
 

 

 
 
 
m1SL0z_m7PgLDQdAIsM4pg
 

 

 
 
 
The-journey-of-a
 
 

You can get your own copy of BE A CHANGEMAKER from your local independent bookstore (find one here), or order it from your favorite national or online retailer such as Simon & SchusterPowell’sB&N, or Amazon.

And please comment here–or on any post this week–to be entered to win a signed ARC of BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson!

13 Comments

Filed under Advice, Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Celebrations, Creativity, Discipline, Faith, Happiness, Helpful or Otherwise, Launch, Patience, rejection and success

BE A CHANGEMAKER: Words of Wisdom

changemaker_jacket_r3.inddThis week, we’re celebrating a powerful new arrival on the youth nonfiction scene: Laurie Ann Thompson‘s BE A CHANGEMAKER, a guide for young people who want to make positive changes in the world. Laurie’s book grants its readers two great gifts: first, the courage to believe they can be agents for change, in spite of all apparent obstacles, and second, a practical roadmap to making that belief a reality. That’s inspiring stuff in a world that so often tells us we’re crazy for trying.

Inspiration is a funny thing; it has to be genuine in order to move our hearts and make us strive, and yet we know we won’t reach our goals if we sit around waiting around for it to strike. Instead, we have to learn how to tap in to inspiration every day. Since that’s not easy, it helps to have a few pearls of wisdom stored away for the days when we need a little extra fuel to keep our fires burning.

And so, to honor BE A CHANGEMAKER, the EMU mob has decided to share the things that help us to get inspired, stay inspired, and keep striving no matter what.

Great Advice

First, here’s some of the advice we’ve come to rely on:

 

Motivational Quotes

Next, some of the quotes that empower us:

 

The Advice I Wish I’d Gotten 

Finally, Christine Hayes gets real about the things she wishes someone had told her, at the beginning of the journey:

 

I loved putting this post together, not only because I am passionate about telling everyone how great BE A CHANGEMAKER is, but because watching and editing these videos has given me an inner glow that’s going to last for weeks. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, EMUs – and thank you for sending your tremendous book out into the world, Laurie Ann Thompson. Congratulations on your launch. You are an inspiration.

Please comment here–or on any post this week–to be entered to win a signed ARC of BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson!

 

12 Comments

Filed under Advice, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Colleagues, Launch, Satisfaction