Archive for July, 2011

BIGGER THAN A BREAD BOX SKYPE TOUR: 100 schools in 100 days!!!

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Okay, so… I have this new book coming out. AND, I also have these small kids I live with, who make long distance travel and book tours hard. AND, the amazing Kate Messner recently introduced me to the wonderful world of skyping with classrooms


I hereby announce my CRAZY PLAN. I am going to come and visit YOUR SCHOOL, via skype, and meet with your students. I plan to talk about being an author, writing for kids, revising and editing, my favorite books, and specifically– about how BIGGER THAN A BREAD BOX took me thirty years to write. I plan to read a little bit from the book, and field questions from interested students.

THEN I plan to followup with students who might be interested in writing, or asking more questions, via email.


Sound good?

To sweeten the deal, the wonderful Random House sales reps have offered to send a FREEEEEE advance copy to the first 30 people who schedule a skype visit with me!

Isn’t that nice of them?

SO.. you want to join up? You want to hang out? You want to know… hhow does this work?

Interested teachers and media specialists should email me:( laurelsnyder AT hotmail DOT com ) and use the subject line SKYPE VISIT!

In the body of the email, simply let me know:

  • where you live (include time zone)
  • how old your students are (include grade)
  • how large your group is expected to be, if you have any idea
  • whether you’ve ever skyped with a classroom visitor before
  • your ideal date and time for a thirty minute visit

Then, I’ll email back, confirm a time and date, and send you my skype name. AND if you’re one of the first thirty requests, I’ll put you in touch with someone who can send you a book, to use in the classroom as you see fit

Easy peasy!

First come first serve, but with 100 visits as my goal, I’ve got a lot of slots to fill. So let me know how I can best JOIN YOUR CLASS!

(one note– to parents. For logistical reasons, I’ve found that it’s hard to coordinate through a parent who would like me to visit with their kid’s class. So, if you’re interested in this program, as a parent, please forward this information to the teacher or media specialist at your child’s school, rather than emailing me yourself. I LOVE meeting parents, but if I end up with multiple contacts, things can get confusing. THANKS!)

Breadcrumbs, revealed!!!

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

I’m deeply honored to be unveiling the following excerpt and interior art from BREADCRUMBS, the truly fantastic/lovely/compelling/heartbreaking new book by the wonderful Anne Ursu.

I was sent a review copy of the book, and immediately began gushing about it on Goodreads, so Anne’s publicist offered to let me have a sneak peek of the art that wasn’t included in the ARC, to share with all of you lucky people.

The book is a retelling of the Snow Queen, but it’s also a contemporary novel, about friendship and family, adoption and divorce, parents and kids.  Anne’s writing is so clear, so poetic, I’m not going to set up this excerpt.  I don’t think I need to.  It’s a rare book that works at line-level, and is so compelling as language, one can’t help wanting to read it.

So here you go, an excerpt from BREADCRUMBS, the *other* purple-covered, magical divorce book for middle grade readers, with “Bread” in the title, that happens to be launching on September 27…

The universe is a weird and magical place, people.


First the excerpt:

She could feel nothing at first but stillness. Her body did not know what to do with it. The tick tock of the clock was gone, and Hazel missed it like her own heartbeat.

Hazel shuddered as the wind danced around her gently, as if this was all there had ever been between them. She wiped the snow from her eyes, and it fell agreeably away. And she looked up.

She was standing in the middle of a vast plain in the snow-shimmer night. All around her was still. There was an eternity of sky above her. There was no sign of anything else—the woods, the hills, the storm. The horizon stretched on around her.

But she was not alone. There was a palace just ahead, sitting in the middle of the plain like a gift. It was simple— a small square with a dome framed by four minarets. It looked like it had been sculpted out of snow.

Hazel stared at the palace. It was not the same. It was longer and a little more elegant and more feminine. But it reminded her of the fortress in Jack’s sketchbook, of the place where no one could ever find him. It was like this plain had birthed it, just for Jack, and now it presided proudly over this kingdom of nothing.

The glimmering palace tugged at her, and Hazel gave herself to it, even though she was nothing. She was a lamentable splotch, her black hair and brown skin and green shirt and blue jeans and purple backpack a speck in this eternal whiteness.

WOW, right?

And then, a never-before-seen (by you) image, of Hazel at the Palace…

Tell me you don’t want to read this book….

Because my mom asked…

Friday, July 8th, 2011

An email from a certain maternal figure arrived today, asking me whether “we have any news” about Bigger than a Bread Box yet.  And we do!  Not a ton, because it’s early yet. But reviews are starting to trickle in. So far they are VERY GOOD!  So here you are, MOM!

Kirkus says:

The discoveries Rebecca makes about herself and her relationship with her parents are achingly authentic. While the bread box provides a nice infusion of fantasy, this tale is as much focused on Rebecca’s maturing understanding of her family’s problems as it is on magic. Her appealing first-person narration rings true, and the characters around her are also believably portrayed, creating a tight tale with broad appeal.

And Publisher’s Weekly offers:

Introspective and rich with delicate imagery, this coming-of-age tale shares themes with Snyder’s Penny Dreadful (2010). The insightful, memorable, and complex characters that Snyder creates result in a story with the same qualities.

On top of that, Bread Box is the Fall Rep Pick of the Random House Children’s Sales Reps! Which means they’ve reprinted galleys, and are sending them out far and wide. The book was available at IRA, BEA, and ALA, and if you’re interested in a review copy, you should request one! (though it may take a little while for it to arrive)

For myself, I’m taking a little time right now to put together some funs stuff for the release. Blog tours and book trailers. More to come soon!  But most importantly, I’m planning to do my first Skype tour. I had such a blast during World Readaloud Day, I’m setting up to visit 100 classrooms in 100 days!!!  (inspired in large part by Kate Messner, an amazing teacher and author).  100 classes??!!  Think I can pull it off? We’ll see.  Meanwhile, if you know a class that might like a free Skype author visit, please, send them my way…

The book is also showing up on some interesting lists. Here and there.  Not that in any rational way one can think about such things, (but this is for my mom, remember, and moms like to get prematurely proud and kvell).  Also, the book is  just now turning up at various blogs around the kidlitosphere.  And I did an superfun podcast interview about it too!

We still have almost 3 months to go, so I don’t want to pelt everyone from here on out.  But for those of you who love me and wonder (MOM) there you go!

And if anyone has ideas for interesting Bread Box shwag, I’d love to hear it.   Or brilliant thoughts of fun ways to do contests and giveaways.  Or if anyone wants to make me a book trailer.  Or send me a present or something. You know where to find me, MOM!

And, as always, you can add it to your Goodreads if you’re into that sort of thing, and maybe let your local librarian or booksseler know you’d like to see it on the shelves!




The recent fracas….

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

In case you aren’t following the world of YA Lit, I need to begin by saying there’s been a big brouhaha of late.    It all started like this, when the Wall Street Journal published an essay about the “darkness” in YA Lit. Of course, a lot of YA writers and readers found this upsetting, and they blogged and wrote about it.  Then today, there was a radio dialogue, between Meghan Cox Gurdon, the author of the essay, and Maureen Johnson, a well-known YA writer. Some smart things were said, and some dumb things were said (mostly by the last caller to the show).    The word “pity” was used in a problematic way, and lots of YA fans called in to support Maureen.  Pretty much what you’d expect.

Now, some of you may remember that I also wrote something about the darkness trend, for a newspaper, a little while back.  My essay was, perhaps, less upsetting to the YA World.  Certainly, nobody was as interested in discussing it on Twitter.  But although I didn’t get anyone terribly upset, many of Gurdon’s concerns are my own concerns.  And in a world where the sides of the debate tend to pull to extremes, I find myself sitting in the middle on this one.  Which feels funny.  I’m watching the sparks fly, and wondering if Gurdon and I might not agree on  a lot, if we sat down over coffee. Off the air. As moms and readers.

Of course, I support my fellow authors. I understand why they felt attacked and misunderstood.  I support their belief that we NEED books about all kinds of things, even scary things (and in some cases, especially scary things). I support their creative projects and tastes. I support any author’s right to write any book they want. As my wise friend Terra once said to me, “There’s a book for every reader and a reader for every book.”

But on some level, I agree with what I think was Gurdon’s initial impulse– the feeling that  when we look around the world of books for kids, we see an overwhelming number of SCARY books.  I get where she’s coming from.  It’s the same corner I find myself in when my five year old starts talking about suicide, because he’s watched an older boy playing a video game at someone’s house.

And Gurdon has NOT, to my knowledge, suggested any form of censorship.  Has she?  Because that’s black&white with me, but I don’t think she’s taken any kind of book banning position at all. She just doesn’t like some books. Okay.  She’s allowed.  She’s even allowed to do a disrespectful job of explaining it.   She’s even allowed to speak with unearned authority.

Just like we’re allowed to rant about it.

But I wanted to take a moment to point out what seem to be a few blurry areas in the conversation. A few things that I think are derailing the debate:

1. This conversation is REALLY about marketing, not writing.  The problem (for me, anyway) isn’t about people writing whatever books they want, but about the fact that when something sells, the stores push it. The more it sells, the more it gets pushed.  Hence, we now have an entire paranormal section in the BIG bookstore.  We do NOT have a wacky-arty-classic-feeling-book section in the BIG bookstore. We do not have a “reminds you of your favorite out-of-print-books” section.  We are lucky if we can find such a book buried under the pile on the shelf, though I know for a fact that Gurdon is aware of such books, because she’s reviewed mine, and quite favorably. This is not an issue that relates to what authors what to write, or even what editors want to publish. This is about stores wanting to stay in business.  About publishers riding the gravy train to stay out of bankruptcy.  Or–in some cases– about newspapers wanting to sell ad space. Ahem.  This is about capitalism.  Which always goes so well with art.  It’s an interesting thing to talk about. MAYBE WE SHOULD TRY IT!  Anyone want to do a radio show on that?  On the wealth of books that don’t get airtime because they aren’t already trending?  On the pressure exerted by the sales channels to produce failsafe products. Children’s books are not just products!  Children’s books are the future of the planet, IMHO.

2. Not unrelated, this conversation is about so-called gatekeepers. Librarians and bookstore people most of all. If a person walks into a bookstore, these are the people who will lead them through the labyrinth of vampires and zombies.  Somewhere on a low shelf, there is the RIGHT book for every child, in any bookstore or library. EVERY bookstore or library.  If we don’t support these venerable institutions, who on earth is going to lead you through the maze? You think a website can really help you find just the book you want, for that kid who isn’t just reading the hot new thing?  No, ma’am.  Let’s see a radio show about how the overwhelming trends are supported in great part by the size of our “stores” and a devaluation of the people we trust to help us find the books we so badly need.

3. Imprecise language drives me bonkers.  What the hell do we mean by “dark?”  What do we think we’re doing lumping the book with serious “issues” in it alongside a dystopian landscape full of glowing were-monkeys?  Really, people? REALLY?  I find this hugely upsetting.  Books you buy for a kid who has just lost a parent to cancer are “dark” and vampire novels are “dark” and Hunger Games is “dark” and cutting is dark and what about Vonnegut? Is he dark?  Truman Capote?  Dickens?  How about Beowulf?  Blake is dark as hell. Let’s find a better way to decide what we object to, and then let’s be clear about what that is when we attempt to complain about it.  Cool? Cool.  I’ll take a sad kid trying to find faith in humanity any day, but you can keep your fallen angels.  Define your terms. Let’s see a radio show about what scares different people?  Across a wide spectrum?

4. Not all YA books are good.  Seriously.  We produce bad adult novels and bad picture books and bad YA novels too.  I love my community, but when we circle the wagons, WOW, do we circle the wagons.  I think everyone has aright to write any book they want, but I’ll be damned if I want to read/buy/review/support them all.   And I think that when we insist on shouting in support of everything in our little “club” that gets attacked, every single time, we end up looking like we have no standards in general.  I’m not talking about the initial article here, but the twitterverse has been driving me nuts this way.  Call me a snob, fine.   I’m a snob.  A lot of books suck, and a lot of YA books suck, and a lot of “dark” YA novels suck, and I wish the bad ones just disappeared into the mist.  I won’t hashtag/blog-tour every book out there just because someone didn’t like it, and it happens to be YA.   This said, you might think *my* books suck, and I will defend your right to say so, forever.  But until I’m riding the trending-book-gravy-train, nobody is going to talk about it in the mainstream media. So I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.  Let’s see a radio show where YA and Children’s authors review books critically and honestly.

I’ll probably think of more things to object to. I usually do. But I wanted to get this out.  And  I would ask that other people do the same– define your terms, explain your distress and frustration, but try not to jump on the bandwagon.  Everyone has something to learn, just like everyone has something to teach.

I learned that from the Streatfield novel, Ballet Shoes.  Which has poverty and orphans and stuff in it, but is not dark.

“N’oubliez jamais qu-une actrice continue a apprendre  jusqu’ a son dernier jour.”