My Next Startup

Rich, I’m going to be rich I tell you.

Not because of writing, at least not in the immediate future.  But I have come up with an idea that I’m pretty sure will make me a millionaire.

The University of Michigan recently released a study showing that the use of Facebook makes people depressed.  (Don’t cancel your FB account yet (if that’s even still possible) there are some problems with the study, see here.))  The researchers suggested that it’s depressing to see the great things your friends are doing when you’re sitting at home looking at Facebook.  The problem being that most FB posts aren’t about sitting at home alone looking at FB — they’re about ‘Great view of the Alps’ or ‘ ‘Check out this great view of the Great Wall of China as I rappel down something cool.’  Or, ‘look at my child doing something cute.’  etc.

One of the things which contributes to all this is the idea that we’re generally expected to present a positive side of ourselves online (with the exception of comments sections, which as far as I can tell, are where all the rage and hatred in our society are meant to be channeled.)

I ran into this recently when I wrote a guest post for my publisher’s website in part about the things I DON’T like in YA and MG fiction.  After seeing my post, they very gently and graciously suggested it might be better if I posted it on my own website, as they try to keep a more upbeat (which I read as ‘less embittered and filled with hate’) tone on their website. Instead they were kind enough to post a Q & A with me, which you can see here.

So here’s the suggestion which I believe will make me a millionaire:  a social networking site where you can only post sad events, or setbacks in your life.  Call it:  Sadface.

You get dumped?  Go online and you’ll see that one of your friends just got in a bike accident and broke their hand.  Flub a job interview, check out Sadface, and you’ll see that half a dozen of your friends have been unemployed for months longer than you.  Instead of updates, we’ll call them down-dates.  Instead of a like button, there’ll be a ‘I’m so sorry’ button.

Any venture capitalists out there, get in touch.


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July is over, and there’s very little trace

July is over and there’s very little trace

of it, though the Bastille fell on its face—

and August’s gotten orange, it will drop on

the edge of the world like a worm-eaten sun.

-Frank O’Hara

The other night, I was putting my daughter to bed and she asked me, “Why is it so dark?” She’d gotten used to the long summer evenings  we get up here past the 49th parallel.  But here it was, 8:30 and already mostly dark.  The leaves are falling, the ice cream truck’s tinny song has a little edge of desperation.  Somehow, the summer is almost over.

I had big plans for my blog this summer.  Just as a for example — I was going to blog every day for three weeks starting June 30.  (June 30 being the first day of camp in The Path of Names.)  The idea was that I would blog every day that The Path of Names has Dahlia at summer camp.  My blog entries would hilariously evoke the summer camp experience, interweaving with the events in The Path of Names.  I also had ideas about inviting my friends and readers to write about their summer camp memories, striking while the nostalgia was iron hot.

And here it is, August 19 and this is my first blog since (okay:  this is embarrassing) …  May 13.  More than three months.  In my defense, I’ve been busy.  Busy working on a new book. (Although not enough, never enough).  Busy chasing and being chased by my children.  Busy preparing for the fall semester of teaching.  Pretty much everything except blogging.

I did write two blog entries for other people.  One for the Nerdy Book Club (which you can find here) and one for the Scholastic ‘On Our Minds’ blog (which has yet to be posted.)

During my long silence, I’ve been reviewed by three of the big daily newspapers in Canada and most of the publishing industry’s review journals.  That has been super fun (and, okay, occasionally a little mystifying).  You can find a selected list on my website here.

Also very fun: I’ve received a bunch of pictures from my friends of their kids reading The Path of Names.  See below.  And, no, I can’t believe that my friends have kids that old, either.  Not when I’m barely turned thirty.  (Okay, thirty-five.  Thirty-seven max.)  Anyway, allegedly none of these were staged.   In that light, I’m especially a fan of the one taken in the super market.

P of N reader1 P of N reader2 P of N reader 3

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Events, Readings and Appearances (real life and online)


I read at the Vancouver launch of The Path of Names. (photo by John Goldsmith)

May 3 (online):  Elisabeth Dahl, author of Genie Wishes, interviews me for the Lucky 13 Blog.

May 8,  7 p.m.:  Vancouver Book Launch.  Hosted by KidsBooks in Vancouver at 3083 West Broadway.  (The above picture was taken at this event by John Goldsmith. You can find more pictures on John’s website, here.

May 15 (online):  I’m featured on the Society for Young Inklings blog.  There’s an interview with me, and a writing challenge I contributed.  (I adopted  the writing challenge from an exercise the author, Octavia Butler, gave to a workshop that I participated in when I was a young(er) inkling myself.

May 17 (online):  I’m featured on the Haunting of Orchid Forsythia website.  I answer questions like:  what’s the best part of writing?  what’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you at summer camp?

May 19 (online):  My editor, Cheryl Klein posts an interview with me on her blog here.

May 20 (online):  Tamera Wissinger, author of Gone Fishing, interviews me for the Smack Dab in the Middle Blog.

May 24 (online):  A guest post on the ‘I Like Books’ website.  Ari Goelman interviews Ari Goelman in the no-holds-barred interview event of the century.  Or at least of the midweek.  Find it here.

May 28, 7 p.m.:  A ‘Chat Up the Author’ event at Cafe V in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   This one is cosponsored by Camp Galil (my old summer camp).  Thanks to Galil’s Ilana Goldfus and my friend, Ross Berkowitz, for helping to pull this together.  More information here.

May 29, 7 p.m.:  An event at the Upper Merion Township Library in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania – this was my library growing up.  I’m really looking forward to returning there with my own book.

June 3:  Two minutes to sell my book at an event sponsored by the Jewish Book Council in New York City.  The event has been described as speed dating for books.  I think the idea is like the guy is a book and the girl is a Jewish book festival.  Or maybe they’re both girls, but one isn’t sure about leaping into another relationship and hey, isn’t there more to life than romantic relationships?  While the other one is super keen but trying not to push too fast.  Or maybe they’re both guys, but one has mixed feelings about the whole institution of marriage, while the other — okay, okay.  You get the point.

June 4, 6-8 p.m.:   New York City book launch, sponsored by my publisher, Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic.)  This will be at Books of Wonder at 18 w. 18th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues).   I am super excited to finally meet my editor, Cheryl Klein, in person.  Not to mention to see my New York people.

June 5, 2013, Early morning:  I do a reading at the New York City public school PS / IS 276.  Very excited for this — they’ve invited me to address their assembly of something like 150 kids.  (Thanks to my sister for arranging this!)

I’ll add details and new events as they become clear.  (There are a few events / interviews that are taking shape even now.  (I mean, depending on when you read this.  If you’ve discovered this file on a computer two hundred years in the future, as civilization lies in tatters around you, chances are there aren’t any additional interviews in the pipeline.))

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4 Days Until Publication!

Well, five in the U.S.  For some reason The Path of Names is coming out on April 30 in Canada and on May 1 in the U.S.

In the meantime, I’m keeping busy grading final exams, cleaning up after my sick babies, and posting the flier below, inviting people to my Vancouver book launch on May 8.

The good people at Scholastic Canada designed the invite on my behalf, and I love it.  Not least because it contains the phrase ‘An Evening With Ari Goelman.’  So by implication, I will be spending an evening out.   Unless the idea is I go to the bookstore and clean up after sick babies.

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The Path of Names gets a starred review from Booklist!

The Path of Names Cover

Yesterday I heard from my editor that The Path of Names got a starred review from the magazine Booklist.  Hurray!  Then, this morning I woke up to find that The Path of Names got a very nice, very intelligent review in The Quill and Quire, which is sort of the Canadian publishing industry’s version of Booklist or Publisher’s Weekly.  Neither of these reviews are posted on the Internet yet, so you’ll have to take my word for them at this point.  I’ll post links when they are made public / free.   That said, somehow a snippet of The Quill and Quire review has already made it onto  The Path of Names’ page.  Read it here.  (Scroll down to the editorial reviews section.)


So what’s the big deal?   As I understand it (based on my exhaustive research (by which I mean a four minute Google search carried out via cell phone)), there are a handful of  periodicals that cater to various segments of the publishing industry.   Booklist, for instance, particularly caters to librarians, the idea being that they’ll read the starred review and be more likely to order a copy of The Path of Names for their library.  The idea is that though these periodicals don’t have the biggest circulations, their readers are influential – book buyers for bookstores, librarians, reviewers for newspapers and bigger magazines, etc.  (Most of this information is cribbed from this ten-year-old Slate piece, but what are the chances anything has changed in the publishing industry in the last ten years?)  

Okay.  So that’s why this is a big deal.  The other reason it’s nice is, well… Come on.  It’s nice when anybody likes a story of mine.

The reviews are also an exciting sign that the publication date is almost upon us.  After I read the review in Q & Q, it occurred to me that at this point, nineteen days before The Path of Names’ release, my novel has already been read by a few dozen people. By my calculations, this is almost exactly a few dozen more people than will ever read any of my academic publications.

Speaking of the imminent launch of The Path of Names, I will post soon about my book launch events (in Vancouver and New York City), plus some additional events I’m doing in Philadelphia and maybe even Bethesda (I’m going to Bethesda for a teaching conference but may fit in some book events before or after.)  This next post will include the beautiful flier that the good people at Scholastic Canada produced for my Vancouver event.

Nineteen days left until publication…

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57 Days Left — THE PATH OF NAMES Has a Release Date!

 A few days ago my editor let me know that The Path of Names will be released on May 1, 2013!

That’s right.  Fifty seven days from now, my baby will be on the book shelves.  And I will say, “Mister, please climb down from there, it’s not safe.”  And I’ll pick him up and bring him into the kitchen to try interesting him in banging pots on the floor.  Meanwhile, my other baby will be taking her socks off.   And all the while, The Path of Names will be on sale in bookstores and websites everywhere.

As you can see, I’m a little giddy at the thought.  Given my lifelong love of bookstores and libraries, the idea that my book will be on the shelves with … like real books, seems wholly delightful to me.

This might be a good time to mention how to buy The Path of Names.  It already has an ISBN: 978-0545474306. With these 13 digits you can preorder from whatever online or real life book store you like.

At some point soon  I will put up information about my micro book tour of the East Coast.  I have a professional development conference for my day job in Washington D.C. at the end of May, and a book launch in NYC in early June.  In between, I’ll be doing some readings and classroom visits.  More details to follow!

The Path of Names Cover

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The Path of Names is a Junior Library Guild Selection

Yesterday I got the exciting news that THE PATH OF NAMES is a Junior Library Guild Selection for Spring 2013.

It happened like this:  I biked home from work yesterday.  Leaving my bike at the front door, I walked inside to grab the garage clicker and found a package from Scholastic waiting atop the baby detritus that we like to keep scattered around … well, everything, but most relevantly to this case, atop the living room couch.  I picked up the DHL package from the little nest of clean onesies where it lay.  “Hmm,” I thought.  “Too light (and too early) to be a copy of the actual book.  What could it be?”

Inside the DHL package I found another envelope from Scholastic.  And inside that envelope another smaller envelope.  And inside that envelope another envelope – no, wait.  Inside that envelope I found a letter from the Junior Library Guild telling me that THE PATH OF NAMES has been made a Junior Library Guild Selection for Spring 2013.   (Three months before its actual publication, which  is apparently how the JLG rolls.)

I’ve seen that designation on the cover of other books, but I never really knew what it meant.  After doing some exhaustive research on the topic (which included both reading the letter they sent me and googling the Junior Library Guild, I now consider myself something of an expert.  The way (I think) it works is the JLG reads books before publication, and then operates as a kind of early filter to help libraries decide which kids books to acquire.  According to the JLG website, over 95% of their selections go on to receive other awards and / or positive reviews.  As a statistics instructor, I can tell you that 95% is a pretty high percentage.  Higher than 93%, for instance.  (I did that in my head, if you were wondering.)

Not just that.  It also came with a cool little golden pin which has met with the approval of at least one of my fourteen-month-olds as well as my five-year-old.  My other fourteen-month-old has indicated no clear preference on the matter, preferring to hone his ability to climb up sheer surfaces where he might better injure himself.

I would post a picture of it, but my cell phone keeps crashing every time I try.  I’m pretty sure it’s jealous – when was the last time you heard of a Nokia cell phone getting a book selected by the Junior Library Guild?  (Or getting any other recognition, come to think of it.  Ha, in your face, Nokia cell phone.  You got burnt!)

But seriously, I’m thrilled to have my debut novel recognized like this.  Thank you Junior Library Guild!

For more information on the JLG check out their website at:  Junior Library Guild

Post script: two weeks later I’ve just gotten news that the other thing that comes with this recognition is the JLG buys a couple thousand copies of THE PATH OF NAMES.  Which makes me even happier about this, of course.  Not only does this mean I’m a little closer to earning back my advance for my publisher (always a good thing); it also means there will be thousands of copies of my book out there being sold to libraries.  I suppose this shouldn’t feel so surprising, but seriously…  thousands of copies of a book that I wrote will be in libraries!


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