Wednesday, November 26, 2014

R. A. Montgomery's Death and Facebook Post

As you might have heard, the co-founder of the Choose Your Own Adventure, R. A. Montgomery, died recently (read his NYT obit here; in case you need a subscription, here's a PBS piece).

A friend of mine posted it on Facebook, which led to a humorous exchange between two high school friends of mine. I screen shot it and included it below.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Exile of Aeneas in the CT Classroom

I wrote the FYF series as part entertainment and part eduction (enter-cation? just seeing if there's  a better portmanteau than the more obvious edu-tainment). On the one hand, the narratives speak for themselves; there is suspense, intrigue, some sex (sort of, though not really in the series), violence, and redemption. On the other hand, the series was written to introduce younger readers to the ancient originals, and it was important for me, as both a Classicist and a teacher, to maintain the narrative integrity of these ancient originals. Because of this, they have potential for the classroom, whether a Latin course or, perhaps even better, an ancient history course (say, the relatively common focus on ancient history in middle schools).

The education market, however, is a tough market to break into, especially outside of Latin circles, within which the series was published. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to stumble upon on Twitter not only The Exile of Aeneas being used in the classroom, not only a textual confirmation of that, not only being used by a former colleague, but also a picture to go with it: The Exile of Aeneas in action.

So, thanks, @katyreddick, for not only using the series but also documenting that use and publicizing it. And if any other teachers out there want more information on the series, please contact me at followyourfates(at) or check out the FYF website:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Twitter Traffic

So in an instance of happenstance on Twitter, I've done some good marketing for the series. I saw a tweet from Mai MusiƩ, @oxfordclassics, wondering about who painted a Dido and Carthage. I recognized the painting from my teaching, and so tweeted back the answer.

I noticed the byline on her Twitter page as the Outreach Office for Oxford Classics and figured that it couldn't hurt to let her know about the series.

So I tweeted back using my FYF twitter handle (@followyourfates, for anyone else out there) and I was thrilled with the response.

And indeed the FYF website has 51 hits today (as of a few minutes ago) as opposed to an average of 4 or 5 over the last month.

So not only thanks to @oxfordclassics but this was also a bit of an eye-opener to the power of Twitter as a marketing tool (not news, I realize, but my first experience with it directly.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Follow Your Fates and David Sedaris?

Wishful thinking I realize but not as wishful as you might think. I went to see Sedaris with my mom and wife last Tuesday and afterwards he had a book signing (not surprising). What was suprising, however, was the care and time with which he approached the signing. I had heard this in interviews with him but to see it in action was impressive to say the least. We started in the book signing line about at the mid point around 8.45. We made it to him a little before 11. And, again we were at the mid point of the line. Now waiting in line for four hours for a signed book notwithstanding, he was probably there until 1 AM or so, after performing / reading for over an hour and signing books beforehand, not to mention his travel schedule. So thank you, David Sedaris, for being a book-signing animal.

Now I tend to fall very low on the star struck scale and that goes as well for David Sedaris. He's a great writer and an even better speaker. I did too enjoy the variety of crowds that were in the David Sedaris, well, crowd: the cult followers, the gay crowd, and, the crowd in which I would put myself, the writer crowd, those that appreciate Sedaris' skill and talent but don't necessarily find his insights quite as earth-shattering as the cult followers do (i.e. I have similar revelations but can't come close to putting them to paper as skillfully). But I waited in line for the signing because I wanted to experience the book signing experience and because I figured it couldn't hurt to ask him if he would accept a Follow Your Fates book. And he did. I wish there were something more earth shattering to say than that. We talked for a few minutes, I asked if I could give him something, he said yes, and I gave him a copy of The Journey of Odysseus. He asked / confirmed that I had written it, which I affirmed, thanked me for it, and put it on his bag.

I of course had visions of him heading back to the Beachwood (we wondered whether or not he was staying in Worcester or Boston but he said that he was in Worcester) and unwinding after a long day of, well, Sedaris-ing with The Journey of Odysseus, after which, of course, he would start contacting all of his litterati friends to rave about this innovative and well-written book he had just read, at which point social media would start to explode with notices of it. Alas, my Twitter feed remains predictably, if slightly frustratingly, un-exploded (as do my royalty checks). But a man can hope, right?

So, Devid Sedaris, thank you for putting the time and work into both writing great pieces and putting on a great show, both on stage and off. And, if you're interested, there are two other books in the series....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Review Published in APA's Amphora

After a bit of a hiatus, the APA's (American Philological Association) Amphora, intended for outreach to a broader audience than the APA's membership, has published its latest issue and, to my surprise, a rather lengthy review of the Follow Your Fates series was on the front page. Click here for Amphora's page on the APA website (the issue with the review is 10.1; scroll down to download it).

The review was largely positive (and certainly not negative). The reviewer's primary concern with the series was the lack of true open-endedness to the fluid narrative because of the pre-existing narrative, i.e. the appeal of the series is diminished by the pre-knowledge of how the story ends. While this is certainly the case with adult or older readers, especially those with a background in Classics, this likely is not the case with younger readers, for whom the series is intended. These readers might have a cursory knowledge of the Trojan War and its heroes from surveys written for them but likely don't have any knowledge of the epics on which such stories are based and the specifics of the plots of these epics. She focused on the creative aspect of the books while, in writing them, I was focused on the educational aspect of the books.

Nonetheless, I was thrilled to see the review and have it out there, so thank you Amphora and Diane Arnson Svarlien. And the review was mentioned on the ECU Classics blog, which you can get to here (thanks, John).

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that I am on the editorial board of Amphora, but had nothing to do with editing the review or its inclusion in this issue.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

YA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This tri-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, but you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until August 5, noon PST (3 PM EST)!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are TWO contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the BLUE TEAM--but there is also a red team for a chance to win a whole different set of twenty-five signed books! Choose the team whose books you think you might like the most (though mine and Heather's are part of the Blue team).

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.


Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed Heather Anastasiu's favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the blue team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by August 5, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


Today, I am thrilled to be hosting Heather Anastasiu for the YA Scavenger Hunt! She grew up in Texas and now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and young son. She spends most days most days writing at a coffee shop or daydreaming about getting a new tattoo.

Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author's book here:

Click here for Heather's website.

Click here to buy Heather's book debut book Glitch, due out on August 7; congratulations Heather on the new book!

Here is Heather's exclusive content!

[I've taken down Heather's deleted scene plus the contest rules, per the YASH guidelines, but please check out her book and website above.]

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Young Adult Scavenger Hunt Teams

Colleen Houck has posted here the two teams for the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt on her website, with all of the covers included. I'll be honest. Pretty cool to see mine included among all of those others. Here's the link to check it out. Still not exactly sure how this scavenger hunt is going to work, but everything has run well up to this point, so I'm going to trust that it will all work out. Tomorrow's the next deadline, so I'm assuming I'll know more about it then.