A nErDcampMI Wrap-up!

13718599_10154143850736253_4348822680987202325_nToday, I’m sitting at my computer wondering what day it is, mainly due to spending the last few days at nErDcampMI, the annual grassroots education summit hosted by Colby and Alaina Sharp in Parma, Michigan. nErDcamp is more than just a literacy event–it’s a meeting of like minded nerds from across the Midwest and the country, all in service of books. So yes, it is basically the best thing ever.

Things I learned at nErDcamp 2016:

  1. I need to work on my selfie game. These educators are ON IT.IMG_1187IMG_1200IMG_1198
  2. The brain power at nErDcamp is something you can feel in the air.

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    Kathy Burnette opens NerdTalks

  3. I could listen to picture book author/illustrators talk ALL DAY.

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    Deborah Freedman, Greg Pizzoli, and Lauren Castillo

  4. Panels with kidlit authors are the most fun.

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    Me with Adam Shaughnessy, Aimee Carter, John David Anderson, Kate Beasley, and Kelly Barnhill

  5. That Mr. Schu really knows how to work a crowd!IMG_1195
  6. I love talking with readers. You guys are the best.13681025_10154143868631253_6737228580914473280_n
  7. Kids are amazing!

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    Opening of nErDcamp Jr.

  8. I have major serious face when I teach stuff.

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    Teaching a workshop on developing voice through letter-writing with 6th graders.

  9. Volunteers make the world go round.
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    Passing out character names for our voice exercise

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  10. Once a nerd, always a nerd. Thank you nErDcampMI!!!IMG_1233

For those who are curious, the voice exercise I taught to the 6th graders is based on this post on writing craft that I wrote for Adventures in YA Publishing. The students were each assigned a character (name, age, one-word description) and asked to write a letter from that character to someone else in the character’s life. I asked them to think about who their character might miss, or who they were mad at, or who they needed to share a secret with. The kids all caught on very quickly, and the surprise was that at least three students shared each character prompt, so they also got to see how their writing voices varied as we read their letters aloud.

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character prompts

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Thyme in the Wild!

Wow! The last couple of months have been a doozy. I’m not sure what I expected to happen after Counting Thyme left the nest, but I think this is one of those situations that you can’t really be prepared for no matter what you do in advance.

There are moments in life that stand out in that regard: living on your own for the first time (you mean I have to FEED myself???), getting your first pet (you mean other people go OUT after work???), and having your first child (still trying to figure out that parenting bit!!!).

The publication of a book shares the same free-falling, exhilarating and also frightening feeling of these other milestones in life, but with one key difference:

READERS.

Yes, people coo over your dog/cat/baby photos (as required), but there’s something unique about putting a story into the world, I think because you get to share it part and parcel with other people. The story becomes an experience for readers, and in that way it belongs to them. When we read stories, we discover each other. We find common ground. And hopefully, we grow, so that we can figure out some of this other stuff going on in our lives.

Thank you to everyone who has been in touch by email, snail mail, social media and in real life. I’m astounded by the wonderful images and notes you’ve shared with me, so today I’m sharing them, with my deepest thanks. :)

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Launch Week is a Wrap!

Wow, y’all! This past week (or two) has been an amazing experience. After meeting so many enthusiastic young readers and hearing from so many incredible educators, I am filled with a great love for the bookish people of the world. I had so many incredible first time experiences, from attending the LA Times Festival of Books to author visits with over 400 students, and I learned so much.

I learned that book festivals are AMAZING events full of passionate readers!

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I learned that Rebecca Stead and Leila Howland are both WONDERFUL humans.

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I learned that everything is better with friends and family (and wine)!

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I learned that cakes can look like books and taste AMAZING, too!

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I learned that there are Good Cookies everywhere!

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I learned that students are the most wonderful audience you will ever have.

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I learned that I can answer book questions ALL DAY.

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I learned that my local bookstore really IS the best place in the world.

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I learned that launch parties are as much of a whirlwind as a wedding reception.

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I learned that books come in cookie form, too!

Book Cookies

I learned that I *can* sign names without miss-spelling them, even while people talk!DSC_1985DSC_1931And even though this first stretch of parties and book events is over, I’ve learned that the journey for Counting Thyme is just beginning. I love all of the pictures, letters, and messages I’m receiving. Keep them coming! Soon, I’ll share an opportunity for young readers to celebrate the theme from Counting Thyme of valuing what every individual brings to the world.

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Thank you ALL for taking this ride with me! I can’t wait to see where we go next.

The Book Trailer is Live!

Yay! I’m so excited that the book trailer for Counting Thyme is live! Please visit Mr. Schu’s wonderful blog for the big reveal and enjoy!!!

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A picture from the set.

Momcology Reads Counting Thyme!

One of the most amazing parts of this author journey is connection. This week, I’ve been lucky to connect with fabulous students across the country via Skype for Word Read Aloud Day 2016, and I am also honored to share an early preview of Counting Thyme with Momcology! Momcology is a nonprofit organization that focuses on connecting parents for pediatric cancer caregiver support and information sharing. What a wonderful thing, made possible by the amazing folks at Penguin. My heart is full.2504_963962976990121_109992501854707369_n

Love is a New Book!

I’m thrilled to share that I’m participating in Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers Giveaway! If you’re not familiar with it, in short Lynda is awesome and has taken the lead on a massive book giveaway to show our appreciation to teachers and librarians and the essential work they do with young readers. Make sure you pop over to Lynda’s blog for your chance to win an INCREDIBLE list of signed middle grade books–including so many of my favorite authors!

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Thyme Makes the List!

nerdy_10list3I still can’t believe this happened! I’m such a fan of the Nerdy Book Club. It means so much to me to see Thyme’s story shared with their readers. YAY!

I’m on Nerdy Books Today!

One of my favorite kidlit blogs out there is the Nerdy Book Club. This a club for everyone who loves books, young and old. Some of my very favorite authors have been featured on the Nerdy Book Club, and today I join their ranks! I’m so excited to share a post on using Book Talk to make reading a fun social activity at the dinner table or in the classroom. As part of the post, I’ve created a special new doodle. If you’d like to download a print-quality version, you can do so here.

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Change is in the Air!

I love fall. I love October. I LOVE HALLOWEEN. (I do not love pumpkin spice, but that’s a whole other discussion!)

There’s something about the crisp fall air that makes me feel invigorated. On one level, I’m freezing because my house is a hundred years old and made of holes, but on a more philosophical level fall feels like a season of change to me, more than any other. Yes, you have the leaves changing and kids are going back to school, but there’s also a general gathering of momentum towards next year.

This year, I feel it even more so than usual. I’m in the midst of doodle-note-taking for my next middle grade novel (!!!) while preparing for the release of Counting Thyme. As a debut, this impending release can feel super overwhelming at times. There are reviews posting daily, trade reviews looming in the near future, marketing efforts to plan and execute…and all of that paired with an underlying sense of joy: the book belongs to readers now.

Wow! What a humbling, terrifying, and exhilarating thought!

For now, I return to drafting the next book and preparing a new website (which will launch in November!). Counting Thyme comes out April 12, 2016, but there is a giveaway for Advanced Reader Copies on Goodreads, for any and all who are interested. Happy fall!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Counting Thyme

by Melanie Conklin

Giveaway ends October 08, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

It’s Here!!! The Cover for COUNTING THYME!

I’m shocked, amazed, and proud to share the cover for COUNTING THYME! You work on a book for so long that it doesn’t seem like it will ever become a public thing, and yet here’s my girl Thyme, taking her first big step into the world on School Library Journal’s blog. Click through to see a larger version. So excited for all that will come!

http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2015/06/09/cover-reveal-counting-thyme-by-melanie-conklin/