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True Story Blog

5 Favorites from . . . Jarrett Lerner

Jarrett Lerner is the author of EngiNerds and its sequel, Revenge of the EngiNerds, as well as the forthcoming Geeger the Robot series (all published by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin). He cofounded and helps run the MG Book Village, an online hub for all things Middle Grade, and is the co-organizer of the #KidsNeedBooks and #KidsNeedMentors programs. Jarrett lives in Medford, Massachusetts, with his wife, his daughter, and a cat. But today he’s popping in here to tell us about his 5 Favorites:


My favorite place to write:

I try not to get too precious about my routine (see my writing tip below!), and typically, I don't have the luxury of doing so. I've got a toddler running around (and also often demanding my presence at spontaneous dance parties!) and I also do quite a bit of traveling. If I can't be as productive in a hotel room or on a plane as I can be in my studio, I'm in trouble. So even if I do have a favorite spot to work, I try not to let myself think of it like that.


My favorite mentor text:

Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books, especially Frog and Toad Are Friends. The stories and illustrations are so distilled, so close to perfect -- there's not a word or line out of place. They inspire me to create and, maybe even more, to be ruthless during revision.


My favorite writing tip:

Regularly shake up your routine. Change mediums. Change tools. Change spaces. Like it quiet while you work? Try playing music. Try working in a crowded place. Prefer the morning? Spend a few minutes playing around with your WIP late at night. Incorporate change in various ways into your process. It'll inject some extra life into your work and keep your imagination on its toes.


My favorite marketing tip:

Engage. Put in the time and effort to learn about the incredible members of this amazing kid lit community. (If you care about those people and the work they're doing, it'll be time well spent and won't be an effort!) Talk with people. Not at them -- but with them. That is, make sure you do plenty of listening. You are always representing yourself and your work, whether you are announcing (and re-announcing, and re-re-announcing...) a preorder campaign or chatting with a teacher about their students. Being authentic and kind and compassionate is an end in itself, of course -- but if you want to look at it from a marketing perspective, I'd say it's a far more effective technique than paying for a sponsored ad or scheduling a hundred tweets.


My favorite book event of the year:

nErDcamp, without a doubt. My first was a few years ago on Long Island, and after that one, I started going to every single one I could -- New Jersey, Kansas, Michigan, Vermont, Northern New England... There is nothing like the energy and spirit of nErDcamp. The events celebrate and put into highly productive practice the belief that kids' educators and kids' book creators are colleagues, that our missions are, at the end of the day, the same -- to improve and enrich the lives of kids through reading and books. The more we work together, the better work we can all do.

To learn more about Jarrett’s work, visit him at his website, on Twitter at @Jarrett_Lerner, or on Instragram at @jarrettlerner.  


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