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The cover of TRUST was showcased at the 27th annual Illustrator Show at the Sun Art Gallery. It was such an honor to be included & it was a really fun show!
If you've read my work, you know that I am obsessed with art. For years I have been excitedly attending gallery shows in New York & Los Angeles, admiring the brave & beautiful works of artist. I am so inspired by what they do. But since I really can't draw a straight line, I never, ever, in my wildest dreams imagined that something that I was a part of would one day be featured on a wall as a piece of visual art. It was a surreal experience that I enjoyed every minute of...especially since I got to spend so much time looking at the work of other fantastic illustrators, & of course hanging out with Lino & his amazing photographer wife Jamie (both of whom just happen to be two of my favorite people on the planet).
Lino Azevedo (the guy next to me in all the pics:)) is the brilliant artist behind the gorgeous cover of TRUST. To check out more of his incredible art, please click this link visit him at his website: AzevedoArt.com!
Thank you to all who came to celebrate Lino & the other illustrators work, & thank you to Sun Gallery for inviting us!
I'm hoping they ask us back when they see the cover Lino does for Book Two!
Last week TRUST & I visited the students at East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy. After I read a little from my book, we played a great game that invited them to see how an author creates characters & descriptions, & then give it a try themselves. The imaginations of these students blew me away- they were fantastic!
We also had a Giveaway Contest online where they could get in a raffle for a signed copy of TRUST by submitting an 'ask-the-author' question at my Goodreads Author Page. You can see their questions and my answers by following me on Goodreads via this link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14738562.Jodi_Baker
The winner of the book was was Nathaly Romero!
Congrats Nathaly! Happy Reading!
Of course, I feel like the biggest winner of all, since I got to talk so many great people about TRUST. I can't wait to go to the next high school & see what happens.
AND!!! Those of you who follow me know I've been tweeting & fb-ing about the Sun Gallery Art Show this past weekend where the cover of TRUST (created by amazing artist Lino Azevedo) was honored. Stay tuned for my next blog where I'll share more about that insanely cool experience. For now, you can check out the pics from the event at my FB Page:
When I glimpsed the killer Slytherin t-shirt in the third row, I had a feeling it was going to be a great day.
"I write young adult fiction books-" I started to say, and was happily interrupted by a chorus of excited gasps from the left hand side of the room. I was thrilled to discover that in addition to the amazing blond Slytherin, there were a quite few others who also had, "that look". The one that screams, I'm-not-just-a-book-lover-I'm also-a-voracious-creator-of-other-worlds.
I had that look when I was sixteen.
I'm hope I'm still rockin that look today. :)
It was an honor to be invited to Santa Monica High's Career Day to discuss being a writer. I hope I get to go back there again, because that hour turned out to be heaven on a stick.
The students were fantastic. Insightful, insatiably curious, & crazy creative.They had really thoughtful questions about the craft of writing. I got asked about character development, writer's block, the different processes writers have when they work (what comes first? outline, descriptions, the who, what, when, the where or the why?). It was so much fun that after the class was over, we hung out by the lockers, chatting about our favorite books, the best ya fantasy authors, the process of building a world for your characters to live in...
Yeah. These girls were totally my peeps. Zebras, all of them! Cannot wait for them to publish their first novels. I'm going to be first in line at Barnes & Noble to see what goodies they create.
Talking to readers is my second favorite part (after writing of course) of the author job. I'm thrilled that I got to introduce TRUST to them. Their excitement was invigorating. I am grateful for the reminder of how lucky I am to be doing what I love to do.
Thank you to Sarah, Hannah, Alisa from Slytherin & all the other brilliant students at Santa Monica High School for an inspiring afternoon.
Students in San Jose, California look out!
TRUST & I are heading to you next week!
Eleven-year-old Marley was bothered by the fact that she couldn’t see herself reflected in the books she was reading at school. After noticing that stories with characters that looked like her weren’t being assigned, she created a book drive specifically aimed at collecting books for girls like her, called #1000BlackGirlBooks.
When I was her age, I swallowed books the way most kids ate ice cream. I read everything I could get my hands on: fairy tales, history books, mythology stories, & classics from Narnia & Little Women, to Shakespeare plays & Moby Dick. I loved the experiences of breathing through those characters & walking in their worlds. The escapist thrill of delving into a life besides my own was insanely addictive.
But like Marley, I’d noticed that my experiences, my possibilities, & characters that looked like me, seemed to be non-existent. I was an interracial girl, half-black & half-white, which, it was explained to me, meant I was a ‘minority’. I had to spend my life checking the box marked, ‘other’. I’d charged through the Must-Read book lists of librarians & teachers & those fabulous few who deemed what was & was not important, only to find that minorities weren’t anywhere on the list.
I took that to mean that I wasn’t important.
This past Thanksgiving, at my parent’s house, I found a ripped up folder I had crammed all of my high school essays into. Just skimming the first, a ‘Summer Reading’ report broke my heart wide open. I’d written about how I had picked up ‘I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings’ at the local library & found, instead of an escape, my first ever ‘reflection’.
For the first time in my life, I was reading words from the heart, mind & spirit of a girl who didn’t have white skin. A smart, sensitive girl, who wanted to do things she hadn’t seen other people who looked like her accomplish.
That story, just by existing, told me I was important.
I saw how, in my brimming-with-excitement-Summer-Reading essay, that book had cracked open my curiosity. I reported how I had spent the rest of the summer on a search for “minority” books & joyfully discovered how large and encompassing the group label actually was.
In that tattered folder I also discovered a letter to my English teacher, asking if I could do a private study, overseen by him, of books that were outside of the syllabus. Most of the arguments I put forth weren’t particularly sound, seeing as how I hadn’t been able to find a politically correct way of talking about my needs. Somehow, “I’m not in these books you’re giving us”, didn’t seem to be enough back then. I’m grateful that is not the case today.
I’m also proud to say that the list of books my teenaged self had proposed knocked me off my adult chair:
Clearly I was asking - begging - to be shown something that the syllabus approved Charles Dickens, Wilson Rawls, John Knowles & many other fantastic, important writers weren’t capable of gifting me with: a glimpse of my own reflection. I wanted to know what being ‘other’ meant to those who had come before me. I was desperate to get a map from those who had navigated this path. The teacher said no, but thankfully, I read the list on my own. It was so great that I began wanting to also see versions of myself in futuristic sci-fi thrill rides, in the mythological adventures of the past, as the fascinating girl-next-door, & as the heroine who saves the world.
I didn’t start a book drive when I was eleven & I didn’t have access to a diverse shelf at my school or local library, but I did start inventing the stories I wanted to read.
“If there's a book that you want to read,
but it hasn't been written yet,
then you must write it.”
My book TRUST isn’t a black or a white book, probably because I’m not ‘just’ either one of those things. It does happen to be a mythological, urban fantasy thrill ride with a female protagonist whose skin isn’t white, probably because mine isn’t. It was lovingly created with the intention that all girls & boys (both young & young at heart) might see themselves reflected in its multicultural cast of vastly diverse characters. It’s the book I wanted to read, that didn’t exist yet. It’s all of my life experiences woven into metaphor & packaged into an offering that, against all publishing world odds, I hope that girls like myself & Marley will find. TRUST is a love letter to everyone who ever felt ‘other’.
I’m filled with an exquisite feeling of curiosity, wondering what delicious tales will come from the minds of the eleven-year-old girls who have easy access to the books from Marley’s book drive.
Marley Dias is my hero because she is asking for what she and so many others deserve. I will be sending her foundation a copy of my book TRUST tomorrow. It is a story written by a half-black girl that explores the idea of trusting your inner voice, as it can prove to be the most truthful & powerful reflection of self.
Thank you Marley, for being so extraordinary.
For more information about #1000BlackGirlBooks go to:
If you’ve got a book you’d like to donate you can send it to:
1000 Black Girl Books
59 Main Street, suite 322
West Orange, NJ 07052
Last NYE I dreamed TRUST would be in the hands of excited readers. I envisioned the giving & receiving of my book as gifts over the 2015 holiday season. So you can imagine my delight at receiving these amazing pictures of readers (young & young at heart) excitedly holding & devouring both the hardcovers & Ebooks of Anna's journey!
I'm so inspired by this once-imaginary-vision-in-my-head-now-made-manifest, that on this first day of January 2016 I'm dreaming even bigger!
In 2015 I was lucky enough to get incredible shout outs from the LA Times, USA Today & the amazing Arriviste, along with other lovely bloggers kind enough to share their experience of TRUST with their readers. Last week, a teen reader shared she had been reading TRUST with the flashlight on her phone! Every writer's dream is to be flashlight worthy...Woohoo!
So on this first day of this new year, I just found out that TRUST made USAToday.com's Must Read Romance list for 2015 (http://happyeverafter.usatoday.com/2016/01/01/must-read-romances-2015-jessie-potts/) I also know that Barnes & Noble will be carrying my book nation wide in February. Canadian & Australian bookstore chains are considering my book for their shelves & I'm believing it's going to happen. TRUST is going International!
I'm also going to visit high schools in California to introduce myself & TRUST to new readers. Books signing are happening & readers will come to share their reading experiences with me so that we can take pictures together holding TRUST! The paperback version will arrive in early fall to reach even more people. I'm dreaming that these events that have been set in motion will lead to even more outstanding opportunities!
But the most thrilling part of 2016 will be that I'm going to finish Book Two of Anna's journey! I'm halfway through & it's already bigger & better. Without too many spoilers, I can reveal to you all what I recently told a fabulous mom who was sharing TRUST with her daughter this Christmas (she finished it before her daughter & wanted to know what was going to happen next!! *insert deliciously thrilled giggle*).
Book 2 has more of everything:
High stakes action from new Guardian creatures I'm excited for you to meet.
Fabulously romantic dates-on-the-run with Cax.
More otherworldly Libraries to visit.
A big reveal about Inanna.
Even crazier unexpected curve balls from Kali.
Truths emerging about Anna's past as well as her future destiny...
So stay tuned for more exciting news & reveals about my Between Lions Series by following me at goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/JodiBakerBooks!
I'm sending you all my sincerest gratitude for helping me make my dreams a reality this year. Thank you for taking the time to meet Anna!
Wishing you all a sweet '16 filled with gigantic dreams made manifest!
The Doors are unlocked. All we have to do is walk through & TRUST. :)
See that book with the golden ankh in the top left corner?
That's Jodi Baker's YA mythological thrill ride, titled TRUST,
being featured in Barnes & Noble's Variety announcement for the
books they will be carrying nation wide in their stores.
I was floored when, right before the ebook version was released, taste-making blogger The Arrviste wrote: "America's answer to Harry Potter is Jodi Baker's TRUST.
When the hardcover of TRUST was released & USA Today called my book, "Must Read YA" I thought I was one of the luckiest writers in the multiverse.
Finding out that my dream of being on a shelf at Barnes & Noble stores NATIONWIDE is about to come true has me exploding with joy & gratitude.
Whatever it is you are dreaming of doing is not impossible.
Just keep telling yourself:
YES. YOU CAN.
Stay tuned. Soon I will get to announce when TRUST
will be coming to a Barnes & Noble store near you!!!
The Stars, Denim, & Diamonds Event happened last Sunday & I was invited to attend!
The tenth annual ACT TODAY gala supporting Autism was an incredible event, full of Hollywood stars, reporters, generous donors, & wonderfully inspiring families. Autism is a cause that is close to my heart. It is something that affects more families than most people realize. One out of every fifty children born in the USA is diagnosed with Autism. It is more prevalent than juvenile diabetes, pediatric cancers, & pediatric aids COMBINED.
ACT Today (stands for Autism Care & Treatment Today) is a national nonprofit organization that provides immediate and direct care & treatment to children with autism, including behavioral therapy, medical care, social skills programs, service dogs, & so much more.
ACT Today has given more than 1.5 million dollars in care & treatment since the establishment of the Denim, Diamonds & Stars event began ten years ago, so I was thrilled to be a part of it.
My favorite part of the night was getting to sign a book for one of the teens attending the event. I am always giddy when I get to meet other book lovers & I love sharing TRUST with them.
The night was an amazing experience that I am grateful for. Throughout my life I've found such joy in being of service, in both large & small ways. Right now, the two causes that are filling my heart with inspiration are literacy & autism. Organizations like Library For All, and ACT Today are making a wonderful difference in people's lives. Being invited to help spread awareness & raise money for a good cause is such a gift. Stars, Denim & Diamonds was my first official attending of a charity event since TRUST has been released & I'm excited to do more!
If you are struggling to get past writer's block, this rule is for you!
I used to get so angry with myself for getting stuck. Not having a clear vision of the puzzle pieces & how they fit feels Gods-awful. Back then, I thought the only way through was to beat myself up, admit defeat/failure, or push through the agony and just keep struggling...
Until one day, when my Muse whispered:
What would happen if, instead of believing that you have a block, you simply accepted that our idea is still cooking?
That made me laugh.
My Muse & I are cooking.
Once upon a time artists didn't believe they "had" ideas.
Artists thought that Muses "gifted" them with ideas.
What would happen if you believed that too? Imagine for a moment, that if you considered an idea a sacred gift, how that might change your process. Downloading treasures from a Muse into a human mind is a big deal & should be a process. If something is attempting to inspire you with a whopper, wouldn't it make sense for that to take more than a millisecond? More than a month, even?
Hearing ideas from your Muse can occasionally be like attempting to remember a dream. The more you struggle, the more it fades... but if you go on about your day, minding your business, then flashes of the most important parts will return to you.
Ideas work much the same way. If you stop choose to stop struggling & go on about your day, minding your "writer business" (working on your technique, filling your creative well etc), the gifts from your Muse will arrive.
So now I take a breath, a walk, & pictures of something gorgeous, like street art or a sunset. Sometimes I go to an art gallery, or cook something extremely & extravagantly complicated in my kitchen. I might read other people's work that I find inspiring. I've had days where I just let my Muse know I'm grateful by re-reading what I already have & celebrating that.
When my Muse and I are cooking, I am not interested in "fast" because, quite frankly, I do not want a half baked idea. When we are cooking, I do not think about making my word count for the day, or get mad at myself for not being able to solve plot issues. My job is definitely not to declare or announce a block. Who in their right mind would block a Muse??? My job is simply to mind my writer business by nurturing my creativity & technique toolboxes so that I'm ready when my idea/gift arrives.
Your Muse's job is to guide you by planting seeds of brilliance & creating a dazzling trail that will allow the ideas to unfold in a way that will uniquely fit your voice. That's what makes their inspiration a sacred, special gift!
There is a reason for the pace that ideas arrive in. I've seen evidence of it, time and time again. That's why the best way I know to avoid writer's block is to TRUST in yourself & in your Muse.
The next time you start to feel 'blocked', remember:
Jodi's Writing Rule #2: Ideas arrive in divinely perfect order.
"Truth dazzles gradually, else the world would be blind."
Give yourself permission to write the unsayable, unthinkable, and un-makeable today.
When you get a whopper of an idea, it can initially feel like you're living in the wild wild west. No safety, no boundaries, no rules... maybe you don't feel like you're skilled/talented/smart/brave enough to write it.
If it seems impossible and feels really scary - totally IMPOSSIBLE to write - guess what?!?
You're onto something amazing.
If you write the thing that scares you; the thing that feels the most dangerous and vulnerable and unpredictable, and if you don't know how its all going to go, if there is no exit strategy, if it feels like, GULP - OMG how in the world...
Then something insanely incredible is going to happen on the page.
Seriously. I promise you.
The Muse that gifted you with the idea knows what it's doing.
If you hear yourself thinking:
I have an idea, BUT-
You have an idea exclamation point end of sentence full stop!
What would happen if the next thought was:
I'm giving myself permission to explore it.
It's only impossible if you believe it is. So: Take off the editor's hat and banish the inner critic. Pick up a pen, start clicking on the keyboard, leap, dive, hurl, be messy, make mistakes, be vulnerable, write badly, write beautifully, and begin at that place that you think you can't possibly begin from: the raw edges of real artistic freedom.
All it takes is for you to say to yourself: Permission granted.
That's why My Muse suggested this be the first of my writing rules:
Write the thing you think you cannot write today.
My MUSE-INGS BLOG
Long ago people believed that otherworldly creatures called Muses gifted lucky artists with creative ideas. My Muses deliver me stories about Werejackals, Ancient Libraries, Kick-ass Heroines, & Doorways to other worlds.