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Tales From The Crib

Facing life&

s challenges with a team

After watching my husband wade through hundreds of messages in his computer inbox (from a lute list, a Japanese flute list, a lexicographer&

s list, and more), I promised myself I would never join an Internet listserv.

But then I did.

I joined an invitation-only group of women writers that boasted some big name writers whose work I had long admired. Then I joined another: a smaller group of working women writers that functions as a support group, critique group and brag place.

These are wacky intelligent women who write, have (or adopt) children, and obsess over writerly concerns like editors who hate them and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

One of the topics we all obsess about collectively is book publicity. Many of us have learned the hard way that once you hold the actual book you&

ve written in your proud little hands, inhaling its scent like you would that of a new baby&

s, that&

s only the beginning.

Writing the book, securing an agent, finding a publisher and negotiating a contract are all logical steps you have to take, but after the book has finally come out, after you&

ve argued with the publisher about the cover art, after the editor you&

ve been working with for months one day &

poof &

leaves her job to go freelance, there&

s still that question of publicity.

You realize (over a stiff drink and a few tears) that a book, honestly, has little use if nobody reads it.

So some writermamas I know are taking PR matters into our own hands. One of those writers is an e-friend named Kris Bordessa, who has written a book, &

Team Challenges: 170+ Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity&

(Zephyr Press, 2006). Hers is a hands-on book of activities for groups of kids (or grown-ups) to do together.

The book is full of suggestions about how to get children talking to each other, thinking creatively and cooperatively finding solutions to unusual challenges. It&

s great for teachers, and also fun for families.

In one section, called Questions and Answers, Bordessa explains that backward questions &

help kids to think creatively ... figuring out what question fits the answer takes some ingenuity.&

For example, if you are given the answer &

cheese pizza&

and you need to come up with a list of questions, such a list might include: What can be round or square? What could be used as a tire if it were overcooked? What wasn&

t served at the first Thanksgiving?

Instead of a conventional tour, Bordessa is promoting the book on a virtual book tour. She&

s contacted blogs (which are on-line Web journals) by educators, parents and others, and asked each blogger to write about the book on a designated day.

When another writer friend, Andrea Buchanan, set up a virtual blog tour, her anthology, &

It&

s a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons&

became Seal Press&

s number-one bestselling book that month.

Buchanan and Bordessa must be on to something. The 21st-century truth is that more people read blogs than turn out for bookstore events.

&

A virtual book tour allows me to introduce this book and the ideas in it directly to people who are most interested,&

Bordessa explained in an e-interview. &

[I can] reach more people in a shorter amount of time with less expense.&

Bordessa says the Web gives writers a unique opportunity to promote books. &

The Web offers the chance for authors to be visible and interact with readers. ... People probably don&

t realize just how important the public is to the success of a book. Publishers marketing a bestseller have the budget to buy space at the front of big box booksellers, but small presses don&

t have that luxury &

they count on word of mouth publicity from customers. The best thing a reader can do for a favorite author is to tell a friend, write a review at an online bookseller, or blog about it.&

The lists I joined gave me a whole group of e-quaintances, many of whom have morphed into e-friends. Perhaps a blog (which I don&

t have yet) and an e-tour will be next.

, an Ashland based writer and the mother of three, is contemplating an e-tour for her new book, &

Why Babies Do That: Baffling Baby Behavior Explained.&

E-mail her at properzioprose@jeffnet.org.