Guest Post & Giveaway: Lorie Ann Grover on The Aftermath of a Book Launch

By Lorie Ann Grover
for Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s Cynsations

In true form, I dreamt of my novel as a baby, prior to the release. I dreamt I arrived, great with child, at my baby shower, and everyone left. Seriously. It’s not hard to find the symbolism.

Thankfully, my baby shower has been attended!

My book Hit (Blink, 2014) has launched. In the midst of the #hitwithgratitude tour with Justina Chen, I have a break between cities to sit and think of my words reaching the hands and eyes of readers. Sometime they connect, wholeheartedly. Other times they are mulled and considered. And then there are readers whose journeys don’t intersect well, and those folks walk on.

From one extreme to the other, it’s all a part of the release of a book into the world.

The beginning of Hit, began in 2004, when my daughter’s best friend was walking to school before dawn, and she was struck in the crosswalk. Her urgent brain surgery left her family and friends spinning through the long dark wait of her operation and recovery.

Inspired by her accident, I wrote my contemporary young adult novel, Hit.

In the story, Sarah is hit by the very teacher she is crushing on. I wanted to explore how in one moment dreams, hopes, and goals can be shattered. Yet, within the most difficult trial are sweet, red seeds. One tragic moment might give us the opportunity to stop, assess our pursuits, and help us realize we actually want to take a different road.

After the accident, I received permission from my friends to tell their story. Following the novel’s launch, I’m happy to say I’m still friends with all of the McCormicks, including Sarah! The family is so gracious and giving in the hope that their hardship might encourage another.

Just recently, Sarah texted me: “I’m in the airport!” when her husband’s cousin spotted copies of Hit on the bookstore shelf. The fact Sarah identified the fictional book she inspired with herself was a sweet comfort to me.

I’m also happy Hit is driving traffic to #redthumbreminder. The site is Steve Babcock’s simple, yet innovative solution to text safety. Embraced across the country, men and women are painting one thumbnail red to remind themselves not to text while driving. It worked for Steve, and he was able to break the habit. It’s working for Hit readers as well!

Polyvore has been a great way to create images and spread the word. My collection is growing. Hopefully it will be as pertinent and useful as the Gendercide Collection I built for Firstborn (Blink, 2014).

So that’s the aftermath of the launch.

From holding the first copy, to reviews, to parties and a tour, words are flying free.

May they land close to you, kind reader. Thanks for finding me at facebook, and thank you, Cyn!

I am #hitwithgratitude!

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Guest Post: Janet Nolan on PB&J Hooray! Your Sandwich’s Amazing Journey from Farm to Table

By Janet Nolan
for Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s Cynsations

I admit it.

I have a favorite sandwich. It’s peanut butter and jelly.

Loved it when I was a kid, and I still do.

So, when I first started thinking about writing a picture book that examined where our food comes from, I didn’t have to look any further than the ingredients in my favorite sandwich: peanut butter, jelly, and bread.

PB&J Hooray! Your Sandwich’s Amazing Journey from Farm to Table (Albert Whitman, 2014) begins:

Peanut butter,

PB&J Hooray!

Easy to make,
yummy to eat.
But where does the food come from?

The Grocery Store.

Visit Janet Nolan

Working in reverse order—in a question and answer format—the book takes readers through the shopping, delivery, production, harvesting, farming and planting processes.

The book ends with the planting of seeds for peanuts, grapes, and wheat.

In essence, PB&J Hooray! is the back-story for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

When I want to learn something new, I know exactly where to go. I head to the children’s section of my local library. The chairs might be a little small and the tables a tad too short, but I’m like a kid in a candy store pulling books about farming, manufacturing, and shipping off the shelves.

I love the visual and visceral appeal of children’s books and believe the word usage and imagery is the great starting point for acquiring knowledge.

Once I feel I have a handle on a topic, which in this case was how peanuts, grapes, and wheat are grown, I’ll move onto other sources: articles, interviews, nonfiction adult books.

A surprising help in the researching of PB&J Hooray! turned out to be You Tube videos. It was great, sitting at my desk watching wheat being harvested, seeing grapes growing on long twisting vines, and tripping down memory lane when I stumbled upon an old Sesame Street video my kids must have watched a dozen times: A tour of a peanut better making factory accompanied by the catchy tune. I was singing the song for days.

Then comes the writing.


This book was particularly fun to write, because I had such a great time with the language.

Bread in the bread aisle,
peanut butter stacked on shelves,
jars of jelly lined up in a row.

Put in a shopping cart,
pay on the way out.
Carry into kitchens where sandwiches are made.
PB&J Hooray!

The repeated refrain allowed me to maintain the question and answer format, while continually returning the focus to the sandwich making experience, as I described how peanuts, grapes and wheat go from farm to table.

To add to the magic, I was blessed with an amazing illustrator, Julia Patton. She lives in Northumberland, England and had never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

She had her first—research for the book—and claims to have liked it! Her artwork is amazing; there is so much to see and absorb on each page.

Looking at the finished product feels as if I’ve gone full circle. I can imagine someone else, sitting in the children’s section of their local library, reading the book, and feeling the joy of learning something new.