Tag Archive for: HELP

Opinions wanted

By: Joelle Charbonneau
Next week is Bouchercon – a fan conference for all mystery
and thriller related.  There will be book
signings, awards and panels filled with book discussions.   
One of the panels I’m participating on this year at
Bouchercon is about all things promotion. 
How much is too much promotion?  
Um…I haven’t a clue.
Honest.  I really
haven’t the foggiest how to answer that question.  Probably because I’m bad at promotion.  I’ll write the occasional blog post, do an interview
if I’m asked and tweet if I’m giving away a copy of a book.  I even remember to post reviews on Facebook-
especially if my agent posts them first and makes it easy for me to hit the
share button. 
But when it comes to creating bookmarks, swag, updating my
Amazon author page and posting on chat boards or e-mail group loops about my
book….I’m terrible at it all.  I feel
silly when I carry bookmarks.  In fact, I
forget they are even in my bag unless someone asks about them.  That’s probably the reason I don’t make them
anymore.  And while I was encouraged to
join lots of loops and Goodreads groups, I think I might have posted once one
them.  Thank goodness for my publishers
or no one would know about my books. 
So…needless to say, I’m probably not the right author to be
weighing in on what promotion works or how to know where to draw the line.  Which is why I need your help.  What kinds of author driven promotional
things do you like?  Which ones turn you
off?  And what would you prefer to see
when it comes to the wonderful world of book promotion?   I am
taking notes!

What is a “young adult”?

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Last night, I was fortunate to be signing THE TESTING at the fabulous Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, WI.  I got to meet fabulous readers, talk about why I wrote The Testing and I even got to read a few pages.  (Which I’m still not used to.  Reading aloud about a camel wearing a hat is easier than reciting some of the stuff in The Testing…but I’m getting better at it.  I think.)  During the chat, a few readers had questions.  Most, I had some kind of answer for.  But there was one that stopped me cold.

A wonderful gentleman raised his hand and asked, “What is a young adult?”

Um….good question.  I wish I had a good answer.  But I didn’t.  The conversation turned into the age appropriateness of the novel – which according to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is 12 and up.  But while I think that was mostly what he was looking for, I realized while I was driving home that it didn’t answer his question.  At least, it didn’t answer it for me.

What is a young adult?

According to the definition on Wikipedia – a young adult is a person in the stages of early adulthood.  That is the period that precedes middle adulthood.   They seem to think that young adulthood is between the ages of 20-40.  Hurray!  According to Wikipedia I’m a young adult!

When I looked up the meaning on Dictionary.com, I found two different definitions that really intrigued me.

One was: a person in the early years of adulthood…which seems to agree with Wikipedia.

The second was: a teenager (used especially by publishers and librarians.)


Okay, now does anyone else find it strange that young adult means something completely different in publishing than it does in the rest of the world?  No wonder I had no idea how to define it to the gentleman who raised his hand tonight.  But until he asked the question, I’d never really pondered what it means to be a young adult.

I teach teens.  I’ve taught college students.  Are all of them young adults?  Well, they all fit the publisher’s age criteria, but the more I think about it the more I realize that that age range isn’t accurate.  Not all people hit adulthood (or young adulthood) at the same time.  I have had high school students who weigh decisions carefully before making choices about their future and college students who are happy to let their parents make any decisions for them.  Some students are happy to spend most of their free time paying video games in their basement while others invest extra time in their studies or work to raise money for college tuition.  They are all teens, but are they all young adults?

I have no idea.

Which is why I am asking “adults” – what is the definition of a “young adult” to you?  And teens (if you’re out there) – what do you call yourself?  Do you consider yourself a young adult in more than your reading or do you define yourself differently? Should I be calling you young adult, a teen or something else?   I’d really like to know!

Is it just me?

by: Joelle Charbonneau

First off, let me say “I’m sorry” to everyone that reads and writes this blog.  Two weeks ago, I totally forgot to take my turn blogging because I forgot what day I was on.  Technically, I knew the date, but for a great number of reasons, this month has been a total jumble and I haven’t been able to keep much straight.

Why?  Well, part of the reason is that it is summer.  The kid is out of school, which changes the routine around here a great deal.  Suddenly, I’ve lost my 2 1/2 hours every morning to get work done.  2 1/2 hours never seems like a lot when you have them, but WOW they really add up when they disappear.  And since my students are all on summer break, I have found that the schedule we were on has also been totally thrown up in the air.  Saturday students now come on Tuesday and other students change their lesson times every week because of their ever changing summer schedule…and mine.

My schedule has been up in the air for those reasons and because of one other thing.

THE TESTING hit shelves.  Hurrah!  Not only that, it even hit some regional lists.  Thus far we’ve been #3 on the Sony e-book list, #5 and #6 on the New England Children’s Interest List and #8 on the Heartland list.  So, I’ve been doing some signing events around the midwest as well as celebrating the release and the strange and wonderful fact that Paramount optioned The Testing for film.

Yeah – I suppose that’s enough to make anyone loose track of life.  And still, despite the release of The Testing and the revisions I’ve been pushing to get done – I am thinking that summer is the main culprit behind my problems remembering what day I am on.  The new, ever changing schedule, the unusual weather (in Chicago we are just seeing some warm days) and the kid being out of school have thrown me off my game.

So, is it just me?  Am I the only one that seems to have trouble keeping life straight now that summer is in full swing or are there others out there?  Please let me know if it is just me.  If so…well, I’ll just adjust to the fact that I’m losing my mind:)

Confessions of a sort of ill, but totally in denial writer

By:  Joelle
I’m sick.  For those
that follow my twitter feed or are Facebook friends for me, I doubt this comes
as a newsflash.  In the last three
months, I have managed to come down with a sinus infection, bronchitis,
pneumonia and pleurisy.  (Who gets
pleurisy???)   I’m now on my third course
of antibiotics (this one is also used for anthrax) and my third inhaler. (Go
Yep.  I’m sick.
The one thing I’ve learned over the course of this
three-month odyssey is that I suck at being sick.   Not because I whine or cry or pout.  (Well, okay, the pouting thing might have
happened when the steroids wore off this last time and my breathing stopped
working so well.  Sue me!)  My problem is that I’m stubborn.  I don’t want to be sick so I try to pretend
that I’m not.  I mean, there are still
pages to be written, pages to be edited, books to be promoted, dinners to cook,
an entire house to be moved, a five-year-old to run after and…
You get the point.
Perhaps my real problem is that I like work.  (Yes, I’m deranged.) And really, when you
think about it, writing a book involves a lot of sitting.  That’s rest—right?  I mean, how much better would it be if I were
to just sit in a chair and do nothing as opposed to typing away on my keyboard?
Okay, I know I have a problem.  But I can’t help it.   So many people that I know hate their jobs. 

When they’re home sick, they love the excuse
to get away from their typical daily grind. 
I LOVE my job.  Never in my
wildest imaginations did I think that someone would ever pay me to make up
stuff or that readers would want to spend time with the characters I’ve
created.  So when someone suggest that I
stop writing in order to rest….I can’t! 
I just can’t. 

But I’m trying.  And
if you have any suggestions as to how to best do that (without giving up the
fun stuff like writing), I’m listening. 
And I’m pretty sure my mother is, too!
Oh – and in case you missed it – END ME A TENOR came out
last week!  Hurray.  Also, the trailer for my first young adult
novel- THE TESTING – debuted on EW.com in case you want to check it out.  See…who has time to be sick when such fun
stuff is happening?  (Sigh…back to

Another opening….

by:  Joelle
I’ve had lots of opening nights.  Standing on stage behind the closed curtain
you can hear the buzz of the audience. 
The orchestra tunes up.  The
energy is electric.  No matter how many
rehearsals you’ve had or how well you know the show, there is a rush of
nerves.  A burst of adrenaline.  Under the excitement there is always the
worry that the show might not be ready for the audience – the press – the world. 
Then the curtain goes up. 
The orchestra plays and there is no time for doubts.  No time to worry about whether you’ll
remember your lines, lyrics or dance steps. 
The show starts and there is nothing to do but enjoy the ride.
The curtain is going up a week from today on my fifth
published novel – END ME A TENOR.  This
is the second of the Glee club mysteries.  Paige wants to make it big in the opera
world, but hasn’t yet snagged her big break. 
Until now!  A big name tenor is
headlining The Sing-A-Long Messiah and she has been cast as the soprano
soloist.  This could be her chance to
launch her career and officially end her tenure as the Prospect Glen Show Choir
coach.  Only things don’t go exactly as
planned and she is in danger of losing not only her big break, but her coaching
job as well. 

END ME A TENOR is perhaps my favorite of all the comedic
mysteries I’ve written.  Because Paige
spends part of the book in the world of professional performance, I found that
I put a great deal of my own experiences from the stage on the page.  The excitement.  The nerves. 
The hopes and worries that go along with knowing that you sometimes get
one chance to make an impression on not only the reviewers, but your
colleagues.  That perhaps despite all of
the practice you aren’t good enough to make it in the business.
Sounds a lot like writing, too, right?  Because with every opening curtain in the
publishing world, I feel those same emotions. 
The curtain goes up next Tuesday. 
I only hope that readers love Paige and the Music in Motion gang as much
as I love writing them.
And maybe if I’m lucky, the curtain will be allowed to come
up on this cast for many books to come. 
Paige and I would be happy to perform for as long as readers let us.

How can it almost be December?

By: Joelle Charbonneau

Every morning my won
wakes up and asks, “Is it December, yet?” 
Every morning I say, “No.  Not
yet.”  But as I look at the date on the
calendar, I realize I won’t get to say that for much longer.  December is coming.  There is no stopping it.  Although, I’d like to try!

I have nothing against the month.  In fact, I love snow and the festive holiday
fun that comes along with the calendar turning to the final month of the
year.  Never does the house look so
pretty as when the halls are decked and the scent of freshly baked gingerbread
makes the world feel like a happier place.

The problem is, I’m not ready for it to be December,
yet!  I’m just not.  Although I already have the tree up and
decorated and most of my gift-giving purchases complete, I’m not ready.  And the reason for that is simple.  I love the holidays, but at the moment I don’t
have time to enjoy them.  For while I
enjoy the shopping and wrapping, the baking and caroling of the holidays, work
still has to get done in between.

Today, I start work on a new manuscript.  While there is joy in opening a new document
and typing Chapter 1, I find it hard to write during the holidays.  I’ve done it before.  I know I can, and yet, for some reason the
idea of sitting in front of my computer instead of toasting marshmallows over a
fire (I don’t even have a fireplace!) or sledding down a hill with my son (and
freezing my tush off) makes me nuts.   Which is why every year I vow to get so far
ahead in my workload that I can take the days before Christmas off.  Sadly, no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem
to make that happen.

So this year, I have vowed to enjoy writing this new book as
much as I love listening to holiday music and watching my son’s face light up
when the snow begins to fall.  Of course,
if you have any suggestions as to how you manage to deal with your every day
work while still savoring the delight of the holidays, I hope you will share
them.  Past experience tells me that I’m
going to need all the help I can get!

Crap shoot

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Skating On The Edge launches a week from today.  EEK!  A
book launch brings with it lots of excitement and nail biting.  Before I started writing, I thought book
tours sounded so glamorous.  The idea of
people standing in line for hours waiting to get a book signed by an author was
pretty cool.  Of course, that is before I
got to know the business a bit better and learned that those lines are the
exception to the rule.  More often than
not, an author on tour hopes he or she won’t be sitting alone in the bookstore
when the signing starts.  You hope
someone – anyone – will come, talk to you and hopefully buy a copy of your
book.  If not – well, that’s the way it
goes sometimes.  Even for the big
names.  Some days the line is around the block.  Other days there are crickets.
The same can be said for blog tours.  You write posts and hope that people who have
no idea who you are read them.  Sometimes
they do.  Other times it’s just your
mother and other members of your family who click on the link and comment on
what you say.
I admit that when I was just a reader, I never even
considered how difficult it was for a book to make it into the hands of a
reader.  I assumed a book was written,
bought, edited and then every store in the country carried it.
Yeah—I was silly back then.
Getting a bookseller to carry your book even if it is
published by a big publisher is a trick. 
Some bookstores or chains don’t like carrying books by authors who don’t
have a strong sales history with them. 
Well, if you are a debut, or in my case a sophomore, author you haven’t
had a lot of time to develop a sales history. 
They only have so much shelf space. 
They want it dedicated to books that will sell.  If you don’t have a sales history or you don’t
live in the region – they don’t trust it will sell.
Tricky, right? 
So paying a visit to the stores, meeting the booksellers and
letting them know you are more than a name on a page is important.  Since you can’t do this for every story in
the country you have to pick your battles and know that most of the battles
will never be fought.  You can only hope
that a reader who wants your book will go into those unknown stores, ask for your
book and order it thereby getting your name in front of the person who places
the orders for stock.  Maybe they’ll
decide to look your book up, think it sounds like something their other readers
might like and order a few extra copies. 
Or not.
E-books are just as tricky. 
There are price adjustments, free days, the hope that some miracle of
marketing will help the book land on a list that will attract new readers since
there isn’t a physical shelf to browse.
Face it—it’s all a crap shoot.  Physical touring, blog tours, advertising,
tweeting, Facebook posts and everything else done to promote books are all crap
shoots.  Some might work some of the
time.  Others might not work at all.  And no one can tell you when and where those
things will work for you.  Fun right?

That’s what’s nice about this blog where I can ask you—what
works for you?  How do you find new books
to read?  Do you pay attention to Amazon’s
suggestions?  Do you take recommendations
off of Twitter, this blog and Facebook posts? 
Do you go into bookstores and look for the cover that attracts your eye?  What works for you?  I’m dying to know

All hail technology

By: Joelle Charbonneau
The age of computers and the internet is a wonderful
thing.  Facebook and Twitter, blogs and
e-mail allow us to keep in touch with friends and family in way that weren’t
possible before.  I, for one, am thrilled
because I’m pretty bad at writing letters. 
Well, actually the writing part I did pretty well.  I sat down with stationary, got out my pink
(or green or chartreuse) pen and started scribbling.  Sadly, unless I’m being really careful, my penmanship
looks a lot more like I went to school to be a doctor than a singer.
Still, I was great at putting pen to paper and writing line
after line of chat.  When I was done, I’d
happily put the paper in the envelope, print the name of the lucky recipient on
the front and put it to the side with the intention of digging out my friend’s
address and mailing it the next day.  Only,
the next day never seemed to come.  At
least, not for the letter.  The poor
thing would sit there like an abandoned toy. 
Waiting for someone to put it to use. 
When I finally did remember that I was supposed to send the letter,
several weeks or months had passed which meant I needed to write the thing all
over again because my news was outdated.
Yep.  I was the person
that e-mail was created for.  Sit
down.  Type out a message.  Hit send. 
No street
address or stamp required.  Hurrah!  Let us all worship at the altar of
Or not.
While I understand e-mail and mostly get how Facebook,
Twitter and this blog work (I say mostly because much to my dismay the internet
elves keeping changing the rules on those programs) there are certain pieces of
technology that have me baffled.  With
the upcoming release of MURDER FOR CHOIR, I was encouraged by those who are
smarter than I am to put some clips of my singing up on YouTube.  They reasoned that since my amateur sleuth is
a classically trained singer, it might be nice for the internet using public to
see where I got some of my inspiration from. 
Since everyone I talked to said it would be easy to pull some clips off
of a DVD and stick them up on YouTube, I agreed to take a whack at it.
And another whack at it.
And another.
So much for easy.
I guess one person’s easy is another person’s tension
However, despite the headache, seven or eight hours of
shaking my head at the computer screen and a bunch of reboots later – I am
happy to report that perseverance and dumb luck won out. 
Of course, now that I am sitting back basking in the glow of
my accomplishment (which I am not sure I know how to repeat) I am wondering –
what types of technology have you struggled with that everyone else claims is
easy?  Please share!
Oh – and in case you are interested…here is one of the
videos I managed to upload.  Here is
hoping that it works!