Looking Back #25: Thank you, Readers!

Today is the day! I can’t believe The Unbreakable Code is now officially out there in the world. I started writing this book in earnest a couple months before Book Scavenger was published. My writing process for the two books was about as different as you can get. There were times I was so far outside my writing comfort zone, I didn’t know if I’d be able to pull it off, and then I’d meet Book Scavenger readers in person or via Skype, and it always left me reinvigorated, eager to return to the page, and determined to tell another good story for you.

I’m really proud of The Unbreakable Code, (I’m whispering now so I won’t hurt my first book’s feelings, but I might even like it more than Book Scavenger). For my last countdown post, here’s a look back at some of the readers I’ve been privileged to meet. Thank you for inspiring me. I hope you enjoy reading The Unbreakable Code, and here’s to sharing more stories and meeting more readers over the years to come.

 

 

 

In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group

Looking Back #7: A Story Behind the Story

Looking Back #8: Battle of the Books

Looking Back #9: Detective Day

Looking Back #10: Hicklebee’s

Looking Back #11: All School Read

Looking Back #12: Launching the Game

Looking Back #13: Book Scavenger Launch Parties

Looking Back #14: Book Scavenger Walking Tour

Looking Back #15: Book Scavenger Birthday Party

Looking Back #16: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ferry Building

Looking Back #17: San Francisco ALA Book Hunt

Looking Back #18: Youth One Book One Denver

Looking Back #19: Musical Cryptogram

Looking Back #20: A Dream-Come-True Day

Looking Back #21: Paperback Tour

Looking Back #22: Mrs. Petersen

Looking Back #23: Betabrain

Looking Back #24: A Book Scavenger-Themed Library Sleepover

Looking Back #24: A Book Scavenger-themed library sleepover!

I’m counting down to the publication of The Unbreakable Code with highlights from the past two years since Book Scavenger was published. So much has happened in such a short time, and I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, that I’ve neglected to share many of the big and small moments. So here we go, in no particular order . . .

*  *  *

Earlier this year I received an email from a librarian who coordinates an annual “Bring on the Books” event for five schools in her area. The fifth graders in this program are challenged to read as many books as they would like from a list of 30 titles, and this year Book Scavenger was one of those titles. As a reward for the students who read all 30 books, they hold a sleepover in the school library with fun games and activities. I was honored to learn the theme for this year’s sleepover was Book Scavenger. I Skyped with these great readers, and after our video chat their librarian organized a book hunt around their school, which looked like so much fun!

 

In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group

Looking Back #7: A Story Behind the Story

Looking Back #8: Battle of the Books

Looking Back #9: Detective Day

Looking Back #10: Hicklebee’s

Looking Back #11: All School Read

Looking Back #12: Launching the Game

Looking Back #13: Book Scavenger Launch Parties

Looking Back #14: Book Scavenger Walking Tour

Looking Back #15: Book Scavenger Birthday Party

Looking Back #16: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ferry Building

Looking Back #17: San Francisco ALA Book Hunt

Looking Back #18: Youth One Book One Denver

Looking Back #19: Musical Cryptogram

Looking Back #20: A Dream-Come-True Day

Looking Back #21: Paperback Tour

Looking Back #22: Mrs. Petersen

Looking Back #23: Betabrain

Looking Back #23: Betabrain

I’m counting down to the publication of The Unbreakable Code with highlights from the past two years since Book Scavenger was published. So much has happened in such a short time, and I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, that I’ve neglected to share many of the big and small moments. So here we go, in no particular order . . .

*  *  *

I love hearing from teachers and librarians when Book Scavenger has inspired their curriculum or class projects, so when an educator wrote to tell me Book Scavenger was incorporated into their school district’s annual betabrain S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and math) event–making it a S.T.E.A.M event with the addition of art–I was thrilled.

They wrote:

Thank you for the hours and hours you put into creating Book Scavenger! Our betabrain planning committee used it as our inspiration for our S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art & math) event for students in grades 6-12. Book Scavenger was the perfect way to pull literacy into STEAM!

Our betabrain mission is “to provide an innovative, high quality STEAM experience for any and every interested student.” We were reminded of the importance of our mission this year when an 11-year old 6th grader took two different public buses to get to Betabrain at 9AM on a Saturday morning.”

They shared this video with me to show what Book Scavenger inspired them to create.

 

In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group

Looking Back #7: A Story Behind the Story

Looking Back #8: Battle of the Books

Looking Back #9: Detective Day

Looking Back #10: Hicklebee’s

Looking Back #11: All School Read

Looking Back #12: Launching the Game

Looking Back #13: Book Scavenger Launch Parties

Looking Back #14: Book Scavenger Walking Tour

Looking Back #15: Book Scavenger Birthday Party

Looking Back #16: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ferry Building

Looking Back #17: San Francisco ALA Book Hunt

Looking Back #18: Youth One Book One Denver

Looking Back #19: Musical Cryptogram

Looking Back #20: A Dream-Come-True Day

Looking Back #21: Paperback Tour

Looking Back #22: Mrs. Petersen

Looking Back #22: Mrs. Petersen!

I’m counting down to the publication of The Unbreakable Code with highlights from the past two years since Book Scavenger was published. So much has happened in such a short time, and I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, that I’ve neglected to share many of the big and small moments. So here we go, in no particular order . . .

*  *  *

 

Today’s flashback is a shoutout and thank you to all the wonderful teachers who work hard every day to grow readers and thinkers and daydreaming achievers in their classrooms.

This is one of my teachers who did that for me. Mrs. Petersen was my first grade teacher. I have very fond memories of story time in her class, when we gathered in the back of the room cross-legged on the rug, and she sat in a rocking chair and read aloud to us. There was a small rocking chair next to her which the student-of-the-day got to sit in.

Mrs. Petersen held a contest where we wrote down the names of books we read on construction paper circles and attached them together to make our own bookworm. At the end of the project, she laid out all our worms end-to-end and created one long path of book titles that went out our classroom door and down the hallway. My bookworm was the longest, and I was very excited and proud to win a copy of Little House in the Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I still have that book, and last spring when I knew I’d be seeing Mrs. Petersen again at my Kepler’s store event, I brought it with me so I could show her and let her know what a difference she made in my life.

 

In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group

Looking Back #7: A Story Behind the Story

Looking Back #8: Battle of the Books

Looking Back #9: Detective Day

Looking Back #10: Hicklebee’s

Looking Back #11: All School Read

Looking Back #12: Launching the Game

Looking Back #13: Book Scavenger Launch Parties

Looking Back #14: Book Scavenger Walking Tour

Looking Back #15: Book Scavenger Birthday Party

Looking Back #16: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ferry Building

Looking Back #17: San Francisco ALA Book Hunt

Looking Back #18: Youth One Book One Denver

Looking Back #19: Musical Cryptogram

Looking Back #20: A Dream-Come-True Day

Looking Back #21: Paperback Tour

 

Looking Back #21: Paperback Tour

I’m counting down to the publication of The Unbreakable Code with highlights from the past two years since Book Scavenger was published. So much has happened in such a short time, and I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, that I’ve neglected to share many of the big and small moments. So here we go, in no particular order . . .

*  *  *

Last spring my publisher sent me on a tour for the publication of the Book Scavenger paperback. I was so excited they were doing this for my book, but I was a little anxious about all the travel and public speaking too. In seven days I traveled from Denver to the San Francisco Bay Area, Albuquerque, Washington DC, Atlanta, and North Carolina. It was a whirlwind, but it was also a lot of fun!

The fantastic librarian at this school had this welcome banner waiting for me. Isn’t it wonderful? The library walls were also lined with memorabilia from previous author/illustrator visits. What a wonderful reading environment for those students!

 

At Kepler’s in Menlo Park, CA.

Remember the amazing teacher I mentioned in the Detective Day post? She and several of her students drove an hour to see me at Kepler’s–on a school night!!–and brought a very special scrapbook as well. I <3 this class!

Everything travel-wise went smoothly, and the weather was beautiful everywhere I went, which definitely helped keep stress levels low. And it turns out spending a week meeting young readers, booksellers, teachers, and librarians is SO MUCH FUN. I loved getting an inside look at a variety of schools and libraries across the country, talking with different educators, and sharing stories with kids about my love of books and writing Book Scavenger.

This was a Monday morning at Politics and Prose where three schools came to listen to my talk. Also in this audience is a reader who didn’t go to one of those schools, but it was her birthday and because she loved Book Scavenger, her dad let her miss school to come listen to my talk and get her book signed. I was so touched that was what she wanted to do for her birthday!


 

Next week I leave on another tour for The Unbreakable Code, and looking through these photos and remembering these special days is getting me excited about the new readers of all ages that I’ll meet.

 

In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group

Looking Back #7: A Story Behind the Story

Looking Back #8: Battle of the Books

Looking Back #9: Detective Day

Looking Back #10: Hicklebee’s

Looking Back #11: All School Read

Looking Back #12: Launching the Game

Looking Back #13: Book Scavenger Launch Parties

Looking Back #14: Book Scavenger Walking Tour

Looking Back #15: Book Scavenger Birthday Party

Looking Back #16: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ferry Building

Looking Back #17: San Francisco ALA Book Hunt

Looking Back #18: Youth One Book One Denver

Looking Back #19: Musical Cryptogram

Looking Back #20: A Dream-Come-True Day

Looking Back #20: A Dream-Come-True Day

I’m counting down to the publication of The Unbreakable Code with highlights from the past two years since Book Scavenger was published. So much has happened in such a short time, and I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, that I’ve neglected to share many of the big and small moments. So here we go, in no particular order . . .

*  *  *

I was going to post this memory tomorrow, but then Facebook reminded me this happened exactly one year ago today, so I hope you’ll enjoy this little walk down memory lane with me.

I was in Southern Pines, NC, for the last day of my paperback tour. Southern Pines is the most charming town, and if you are ever out that way looking for a place to stay, I loved the Jefferson Inn.

Bright and early that morning, I walked from my inn to a coffee shop around the corner called Swank. Great coffee and they also sold all sorts of creations from local artists.

Since it was the last day of my tour, I decided to treat myself to a pair of earrings and chose this pair because #5 was my son’s favorite number. (I can still hear his little voice and how it sounded then, dragging out the “i” sound: fiiiiive.)

I had two school visits that went very well–attentive, polite kids who asked great questions–and then the Country Bookshop put on the nicest store event, hosting a fun trivia game that I competed in with the kids.

Walking back to my inn late that afternoon I was feeling tired, but very content because my long week of travel was coming to an end and it had really been a lot of fun. I looked at my phone and saw there was a voicemail from my editor, which seemed weird. Her message said to call her right away. She said it was good news but I was still feeling nervous–I don’t know why, but I was. It took me by complete surprise when she told me the Book Scavenger paperback had debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

I couldn’t believe it! Honestly, it’s a year later and I still can’t quite believe it. I called my husband, I called my mom. I walked back to the bookstore to tell Angie Tally, the owner, but they were closed so I took a selfie in front of their store window display.

I celebrated with a nice meal, got some mint ice cream to go (which tasted just like Baskin Robbins’ mint, even though it wasn’t Baskin Robbins’ mint, which seemed like a magical coincidence since that is my most favorite ice cream and probably the first thing I would choose to celebrate a special occasion with).

I sat on the patio at the Jefferson Inn with my ice cream and a good book and enjoyed the spring evening and live music and marveled at what an amazingly great day it had been. To add to the magic of it all–guess how many weeks Book Scavenger stayed on the bestseller list last summer? Fiiiiiiive.

In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group

Looking Back #7: A Story Behind the Story

Looking Back #8: Battle of the Books

Looking Back #9: Detective Day

Looking Back #10: Hicklebee’s

Looking Back #11: All School Read

Looking Back #12: Launching the Game

Looking Back #13: Book Scavenger Launch Parties

Looking Back #14: Book Scavenger Walking Tour

Looking Back #15: Book Scavenger Birthday Party

Looking Back #16: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ferry Building

Looking Back #17: San Francisco ALA Book Hunt

Looking Back #18: Youth One Book One Denver

Looking Back #19: Musical Cryptogram

 

 

Looking Back #19: Musical Cryptogram!

I’m counting down to the publication of The Unbreakable Code with highlights from the past two years since Book Scavenger was published. So much has happened in such a short time, and I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, that I’ve neglected to share many of the big and small moments. So here we go, in no particular order . . .

*  *  *

 

Did you know your name could be put to music? At the Youth One Book One Denver launch party different organizations shared fun activities related to Book Scavenger. From the Colorado Symphony I learned that famous composers like Bach “sign” their musical themes by encoding their name with musical notes. Here is a video of my “Jennifer” theme music:

 

 

Isn’t that cool? Here is the worksheet they gave out that explains how it works. If you know how to read and play music, or know someone who does, you can listen to your own name as well.

 

 

In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group

Looking Back #7: A Story Behind the Story

Looking Back #8: Battle of the Books

Looking Back #9: Detective Day

Looking Back #10: Hicklebee’s

Looking Back #11: All School Read

Looking Back #12: Launching the Game

Looking Back #13: Book Scavenger Launch Parties

Looking Back #14: Book Scavenger Walking Tour

Looking Back #15: Book Scavenger Birthday Party

Looking Back #16: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ferry Building

Looking Back #17: San Francisco ALA Book Hunt

Looking Back #18: Youth One Book One Denver

Looking Back #18: Youth One Book One Denver

I’m counting down to the publication of The Unbreakable Code with highlights from the past two years since Book Scavenger was published. So much has happened in such a short time, and I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, that I’ve neglected to share many of the big and small moments. So here we go, in no particular order . . .

*  *  *

One of the most exciting things to happen for Book Scavenger was being voted the Youth One Book One Denver selection for the summer of 2016. As part of the program over 3000 copies were distributed to participating kids. Different organizations planned classes and really cool projects inspired by the book: making your own board games, creating comics, making chemistry-based detective kits, and more. Here are a few photos from the summer:

 

Denver Mayor Hancock announced Book Scavenger as the summer read.

A launch party at Tattered Cover with a showcase of all the different Book Scavenger connected activities kids could sign up for.

An example of one of the crafts inspired by the book.

There were big displays of the book all around the Denver airport!

The wrap-up part at Cableland, the official residence of the Denver mayor (although to date no mayor has actually lived there).

The mayor hosted a round of Jeopardy with questions based on the book. Some of them were hard!

I met so many awesome kids through this great program! I hope they all stay lifelong readers.

 

In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group

Looking Back #7: A Story Behind the Story

Looking Back #8: Battle of the Books

Looking Back #9: Detective Day

Looking Back #10: Hicklebee’s

Looking Back #11: All School Read

Looking Back #12: Launching the Game

Looking Back #13: Book Scavenger Launch Parties

Looking Back #14: Book Scavenger Walking Tour

Looking Back #15: Book Scavenger Birthday Party

Looking Back #16: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ferry Building

Looking Back #17: San Francisco ALA Book Hunt

Looking Back #17: San Francisco ALA Book Hunt

 

I’m counting down to the publication of The Unbreakable Code with highlights from the past two years since Book Scavenger was published. So much has happened in such a short time, and I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, that I’ve neglected to share many of the big and small moments. So here we go, in no particular order . . .

*  *  *

Book Scavenger was published on June 2, 2015, and coincidentally that month the American Library Association (ALA) was having their big annual conference in San Francisco.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do something fun for the librarians, so I contact Kirsten Cappy of Curious City and together we came up with the idea of doing an ALA Book Hunt.

Curious City made maps that feature different San Francisco locations used in Book Scavenger. (You can download this map on the Book Scavenger website, by the way.) 

These maps were handed out at the conference and distributed to local booksellers. Throughout the weekend of ALA, over 100 copies of Book Scavenger were hidden at these locations for book hunters (both accidental and intentional) to find.

I couldn’t fly out to San Francisco to attend ALA or be there in person, but it was almost as much fun watching the photos pop up on social media as people shared where they’d hidden or found a book.

 


In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group

Looking Back #7: A Story Behind the Story

Looking Back #8: Battle of the Books

Looking Back #9: Detective Day

Looking Back #10: Hicklebee’s

Looking Back #11: All School Read

Looking Back #12: Launching the Game

Looking Back #13: Book Scavenger Launch Parties

Looking Back #14: Book Scavenger Walking Tour

Looking Back #15: Book Scavenger Birthday Party

Looking Back #16: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ferry Building

 

Looking Back #16: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ferry Building

I’m counting down to the publication of The Unbreakable Code with highlights from the past two years since Book Scavenger was published. So much has happened in such a short time, and I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, that I’ve neglected to share many of the big and small moments. So here we go, in no particular order . . .

*  *  *

 

That’s me sitting on the “third bench down the pier” at the Ferry Building, a reference you’ll recognize if you’ve read Book Scavenger.

I was driving by myself down the freeway in a rental car on my way to the Ferry Building Book Passage for my second bookstore event when the car made a loud noise and jolted, like I’d hit something in the road. I couldn’t see anything in the rear view mirror and for a fleeting moment I hoped everything would be fine and I could keep driving, but it became very clear the car was not fine and I needed to pull over immediately.

I’d blown a tire, and I didn’t have enough time to wait for a tow truck and the rental company to sort everything out. I was freaking out big time. A pick-up truck behind me on the freeway noticed my car troubles and followed me off to the shoulder. A man and woman got out and asked if I was okay. They probably expected me to be stressed out about my car, but instead I babbled about my first book being published and how I was going to a bookstore event and was worried I’d be late and all these people had gone out of their way to be there and I didn’t want to let them down . . .

They were surprised to learn I wrote children’s books and it cracks me up to remember how my stressed out brain defaulted to pitch mode, “It’s a middle grade mystery set in San Francisco . . .” I even gave them a bookmark!

The couple waited until they knew my husband was on his way to pick me up, before continuing on their journey. I like to imagine that they kept the bookmark and occasionally one of them comes across it and say, “Hey, remember that time we stopped and helped that lady on the side of 280?” Thank you, good people, wherever you are.

 

In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group

Looking Back #7: A Story Behind the Story

Looking Back #8: Battle of the Books

Looking Back #9: Detective Day

Looking Back #10: Hicklebee’s

Looking Back #11: All School Read

Looking Back #12: Launching the Game

Looking Back #13: Book Scavenger Launch Parties

Looking Back #14: Book Scavenger Walking Tour

Looking Back #15: Book Scavenger Birthday Party

 

 

 

All materials © 2017 Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. Author Website by Websy Daisy.