20 March 2013

NYC Teen Author Festival... See you there?

The NYC Teen Author festival is happening NOW! (Alas, I cannot get there until Friday.)

The first two events, on Monday and Tuesday evenings, featured authors Gayle Forman, Kristen-Paige Madonia, Bennett Madison, Jennifer E. Smith, Melissa Walker, David Levithan, Crissa Chappell, Tim Decker, Ellen Hopkins, Amy McNamara and Jessica Verdi.


How I wish I could've been there. Here's the rest of the swoon-worthy line-up, which I pulled from the Festival's Facebook page:

Wednesday, March 20 
(42nd St NYPL, South Court room, 6-8): 

Imagination: A Conversation
It’s a given that authors’ minds are very strange, wonderful, twisted, illogical, inventive places. Here we talk to five rather imaginative authors about how they conjure the worlds in their books and the stories that they tell, along with glimpses of the strange and wonderful worlds they are creating at the present.

Holly Black
Lev Grossman
Michelle Hodkin
Alaya Johnson
Robin Wasserman
moderators: David Levithan and Chris Shoemaker

Thursday, March 21
SOHO Teen night, 6-9pm (Books of Wonder, 18 W18th St)

Celebrate the launch of SOHO Teen
Featuring readings by Jacquelyn Mitchard, Joy Preble, Margaux Froley, Elizabeth Kiem, Heather Terrell & Ricardo Cort├ęs, and Lisa & Laura Roecker.

Friday March 22
Symposium (42nd Street NYPL, Berger Forum, 2nd floor, 2-6)

2:00 – Introduction

2:10-3:00: He Said, She Said

Ted Goeglein
Gordon Korman
Lucas Klauss
Michael Northrop

Susane Colasanti
E. Lockhart
Carolyn Mackler
Sarah Mlynowski
Leila Sales

moderator: David Levithan

3:00-4:00: Taking a Turn: YA Characters Dealing with Bad and Unexpected Choices

In each of these authors’ novels, the main character’s life takes an unexpected twist. Sometimes this is because of a bad choice. Sometimes this is because of a secret revealed. And sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice at all, but rather a reaction. We’ll talk about following these characters as they make these choices – both good and bad. Will include brief readings illuminating these choices.

Caela Carter
Eireann Corrigan
Alissa Grosso
Terra Elan McVoy
Jacquelyn Mitchard
Elizabeth Scott
K. M. Walton
moderator: Aaron Hartzler

4:10-4:40: That’s So Nineteenth Century

A Conversation About Playing with 19th Century Archetypes in the 21st Century

Sharon Cameron
Leanna Renee Hieber
Stephanie Strohm
Suzanne Weyn
Moderator: Sarah Beth Durst

4:40-5:30: Alternate World vs. Imaginary World

Of these authors, some have written stories involving alternate or parallel versions of our world, some have made up imaginary worlds for their characters, and still others have written books that do each. We’ll discuss the decision to either connect the world of a book to our world, or to take it out of the historical context of our world. How do each strategies help in telling story and developing character? Is one easier than the other? Is the stepping off point always reality, or can it sometimes be another fictional world?

Sarah Beth Durst
Jeff Hirsch
Emmy Laybourne
Lauren Miller
E. C. Myers
Diana Peterfreund
Mary Thompson
Moderator: Chris Shoemaker

Friday March 22
Barnes & Noble Reader’s Theater/Signing 
(Union Square B&N, 33 E 17th St, 7-8:30)

Eireann Corrigan
Elizabeth Eulberg
Jeff Hirsch
David Levithan
Rainbow Rowell
Nova Ren Suma

Saturday March 23
Symposium (42nd Street NYPL, Bergen Forum, 2nd Floor, 1-5)

1:00 – Introduction

1:10-2:10 – Defying Description: Tackling the Many Facets of Identity in YA

As YA literature evolves, there is more of an acknowledgment of the many facets that go into a teenager’s identity, and even categories that once seemed absolute now have more nuance. Focusing particularly, but not exclusively, on LGBTQ characters and their depiction, we’ll discuss the complexities about writing about such a complex experience.

Marissa Calin
Emily Danforth
Aaron Hartzler
A.S. King
Jacqueline Woodson
moderator: David Levithan

2:10-2:40 - New Voices Spotlight

Each debut author will share a five-minute reading from her or his work

J. J. Howard
Kimberly Sabatini
Tiffany Schmidt
Greg Takoudes

2:40-3:30 – Under Many Influences: Shaping Identity When You’re a Teen Girl

Being a teen girl is to be under many influences – friends, parents, siblings, teachers, favorite bands, favorite boys, favorite web sites. These authors will talk about the influences that each of their main characters tap into – and then talk about what influences them as writers when they shape these characters.

Jen Calonita
Deborah Heiligman
Hilary Weisman Graham
Kody Keplinger
Amy Spalding
Katie Sise
Kathryn Williams
moderator: Terra Elan McVoy

3:40-4:20 – Born This Way: Nature, Nurture, and Paranormalcy

Paranormal and supernatural fiction for teens constantly wrestles with issues of identity and the origin of identity. Whether their characters are born “different” or come into their powers over time, each of these authors uses the supernatural as a way to explore the nature of self. 

Jessica Brody
Gina Damico
Maya Gold
Alexandra Monir
Lindsay Ribar
Jeri Smith-Ready
Jessica Spotswood

moderator: Adrienne Maria Vrettos

4:20-5:00 – The Next Big Thing

Description: Again, not to be too mysterious, but I will email these authors separately about what I’m thinking for this.

Jocelyn Davies
Leanna Renee Hieber
Barry Lyga
Maryrose Wood

Saturday March 23
Mutual Admiration Society reading at McNally Jackson 
(McNally Jackson, Prince Street, 7-8:30)

Sharon Cameron
A.S. King
Michael Northrop
Diana Peterfreund
Victoria Schwab
Nova Ren Suma
hosted by David Levithan

Sunday March 24
Our No-Foolin’ Mega-Signing at Books of Wonder, 1-4

Jessica Brody (Unremembered, Macmillan) 
Marisa Calin (Between You and Me, Bloomsbury) 
Jen Calonita (The Grass is Always Greener, LB) 
Sharon Cameron (The Dark Unwinding, Scholastic) 
Caela Carter (Me, Him, Them, and It, Bloomsbury) 
Crissa Chappell (Narc, Flux) 
Susane Colasanti (Keep Holding On, Penguin) 
Zoraida Cordova (The Vicious Deep, Sourcebooks) 
Gina Damico (Scorch, HMH) 
Jocelyn Davies (A Fractured Light, HC) 
Sarah Beth Durst (Vessel, S&S) 
Gayle Forman (Just One Day, Penguin)
Elizabeth Scott (Miracle, S&S) 

T. M. Goeglein (Cold Fury, Penguin) 
Hilary Weisman Graham (Reunited, S&S) 
Alissa Grosso (Ferocity Summer, Flux) 
Aaron Hartzler (Rapture Practice, LB) 
Deborah Heiligman (Intentions, RH) 
Leanna Renee Hieber (The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart, Sourcebooks) 
Jeff Hirsch (Magisterium, Scholastic) 
J. J. Howard (That Time I Joined the Circus, Scholastic) 
Alaya Johnson (The Summer Prince, Scholastic) 
Beth Kephart (Small Damages, Penguin) 
Kody Keplinger (A Midsummer’s Nightmare, LB)

A.S. King (Ask the Passengers, LB) 
Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14, Macmillan) 
David Levithan (Every Day, RH) 
Barry Lyga (Yesterday Again, Scholastic) 
Brian Meehl (Suck it Up and Die, RH) 
Alexandra Monir (Timekeeper, RH) 
Michael Northrop (Rotten, Scholastic) 
Diana Peterfreund (For Darkness Shows the Stars, HC) 
Lindsay Ribar (The Art of Wishing, Penguin) 
Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, St. Martin’s) 
Kimberly Sabatini (Touching the Surface, S&S) 
Tiffany Schmidt (Send Me a Sign, Bloomsbury)

Victoria Schwab (The Archived, Hyperion) 
Jeri Smith-Ready (Shine, S&S)
Amy Spalding (The Reece Malcolm List, Entangled) 
Stephanie Strohm (Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, HMH) 
Nova Ren Suma (17 & Gone, Penguin) 
Greg Takoudes (When We Wuz Famous, Macmillan) 
Mary Thompson (Wuftoom, HMH) 
Jess Verdi (My Life After Now, Sourcebooks) 
K.M. Walton (Empty, S&S) 
Suzanne Weyn (Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters, Scholastic) 
Kathryn Williams (Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous, Macmillan) 

Hope to see you there!

09 March 2013

What I learned from Walter Dean Myers today

Walter Dean Myers
A few days ago I heard that Walter Dean Myers would be speaking at the Festival of Words, a one-day literacy event for Delaware teens, teachers and librarians. The program would focus on young adult literature, poetry and writing, so of course I immediately made plans to crash the party. (Actually, I emailed and begged to go and they said, "We would love to have you!")

For those not familiar with the awesome that is Walter Dean Myers, he is a poet and author of more than 100 books for children and young adults. (By his count, 105 have been published and seven more are "in the pipeline.") But we're not only talking quantity, here, folks. He's won a boatload of awards for titles including Monster, The Scorpion, Somewhere in the Darkness, Fallen Angels, Hoops, Autobiography of my Dead Brother, and Lockdown. He's written about life growing up on the rough streets of Harlem, basketball (his true love), and the Vietnam war (where he fought and a brother died). He is currently serving as Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

Mr. Myers opened his talk by describing a typical day. He rises at 4:30 a.m, feeds his wife's cat, gets coffee, and then proceeds to write five pages, which takes two-and-a-half to three hours, he says. Yep, by 8 a.m., the man has completed his writing for the day! (But not his revising on another book, or his planning of a third. He has three books going in various stages of development at any given time.)

He shared many wonderful anecdotes and snippets of advice from his life as a writer, and answered dozens of questions. "I had to overcome the idea that all writers are geniuses, just open a window and let the muse come in," he said, reflecting on the need to learn the craft of writing. "No one would go into plumbing without learning the craft." Also important: "Learn how to finish books." 

He described his own approach to story development, the "Pre-writing" stage, which starts with a question and character. He charts the basic story on a six-box grid to see if it's interesting enough. Then he lists 30 scenes. "If I do 30 scenes and the scenes work, that's a book." 

Myers keeps a notebook with pictures of the characters in his WIP, which he pulls from a website that features older kids who need to be adopted. And he creates a timeline for each character, from birth to the present. A key event on that timeline is something that happened when they were four years old, which would be their first memory. 

"Pre-writing is most important," he says. "I'm a good writer, I'm a pretty good re-writer. But I make my living pre-writing."

I asked him how he decides whether he'll write a story in prose, verse, or screen-play form (as Monster was). His answer was fascinating, as he described how he interviewed prison inmates before writing Monster and found that whenever they spoke of their crime, they spoke in third person. It was a way to distance themselves from the crime... separate it from how they viewed themselves. So, Myers told his character Steve Harmon's story similarly, in first-person diary entries when sharing his feelings, but as the film script for a court-room drama when telling about the crime. The result was riveting! 

Myers noted that he never gets too attached to his words. If he's written a story in verse and the publisher wants him to change it to prose, he says, "I change it."

Thank you, Festival of Words and Walter Dean Myers for an educational and inspiring event!

04 March 2013

Three Quick Questions for Elsie Chapman (DUALED)

Newsflash! I have discovered that busy authors don't always have time to do in-depth blog interviews (surprise, surprise). But they also hate to say no to opportunities to connect with new readers. So, I've come up with solution makes everyone happy (I hope): Three Quick Questions, a mini interview! 

Elsie Chapman
My first guest is Elsie Chapman. Her debut novel, DUALED, was published on February 26 by Random House Books for Young Readers. A sequel, DIVIDED, will be released in February 2014.

Q: Hi, Elsie! How did you spend the release day for DUALED? 

A: I spent the morning catching up on twitter and tumblr, actually! The publication process is a long one, and you end up making a lot of friends during the course of it. And release day isn't really about you as it is about your book! So it's nice to just spend some time talking to the fellow authors and bloggers who have supported you, to say thanks for the congrats and for loving your work. Then in the afternoon, my daughter had a Science Jam event at the mall, which was actually great because it forced me to go offline for a bit. After that, my in-laws met up with us and had me sign their copies of DUALED. It was a very good day.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: A brand new book idea! I'm very excited about it :)

Q: What are the last three YA novels you read and loved?

A: I haven't been able to read anything in months, but I can tell you the last three YA I bought: Ellen Oh's PROPHECY, Kasie West's PIVOT POINT, and Megan Shepherd's THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER. I read these a while ago in either ARC or ms form, and I absolutely loved them. 

Thank you, Elsie!

DUALED by Elsie Chapman
Two of you exist. Only one will survive.
The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.
Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.
Elsie Chapman’s suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.

Book love: LIAR & SPY by Rebecca Stead

I never intended this blog to feature reviews, but every now and then I simply adore a book so much I must pop on here and say, "Hey! Read this!" So, here I am. Have you read LIAR & SPY by Rebecca Stead? Because you should. And your kids (age 9 and up) should, too, for sure. Rebecca Stead has a way of telling a story with such ease that you don't see all the hard work you KNOW went into it. Everything falls into place perfectly, in a way that leaves you smiling and wanting to hug the darn book when you're done. 

Here's the description:

When seventh grader Georges (the s is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. 

Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

Liar & Spy is an inspired, often-funny story about destiny, goofy brilliance, and courage. Like Stead's Newbery Medal-winning When You Reach Me, it will keep readers guessing until the end.