On Saturday, I had an absolutely fantastic day at the Los Angeles Public Library, for their Teen Book Fest.
About a dozen young adult authors, and a handful of book bloggers, descended upon the library for a day full of discussion, book giveaways, and signings. It was pretty much heaven for me.
I went to the Ontario Teen Book Fest, my first teen book fest, back in May and honestly had an amazing time, discovering new authors and discussing books and writing with all of them. I was eager to attend this one in the hopes that I would have just as much fun as I did last time.
And I definitely did.
There were a TON of amazing authors in attendance, and I was super excited when I found out there was a blogging panel. I’ve been doing this for about a year and a half now, but I’m still new to the whole experience, when there are others who’ve been blogging for years.
I attended three panels. The first panel was Classically Inspired, and it was with authors that I’ve all read and enjoyed: Gretchen McNeil, Francesca Lia Block, Josephine Angelini and Cornelia Funke. All of these authors have used old tales, or classic novels or stories, either as inspiration to their stories or have retold those stories. Francesca’s newer release, Love in the Time of Global Warming, parallels Homer’s the Odyssey, while Josephine’s Starcrossed trilogy is a retelling of his tale, The Iliad. Cornelia talks about the various folk tales and mythologies that she uses in her own stories.
They spent a lot of time discussing the way they go about their research, and the way they connect their stories and the stories told before. I got so much writing advice from it, and I’m in such a slump right now, so I was eagerly listening for all advice. Cornelia is a very seasoned author, and she says that she now handwrites all of her books. I used to do that, once upon a time, before my boyfriend bought me my first laptop a few years ago. I really took that advice to heart, because I’ve been struggling SO much, and I hand wrote last night, and I wrote about 1000 words, so good advice, Cornelia.
The next panel that I attended was all about blogging, and it featured Alethea Allarey from Read Now, Sleep Later, Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy, Lee Wind from I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell Do I Read?, Thuy Lam from Nite Lite Book Reviews, and Maggie Park from Young Adult Anonymous. I follow all of these blogs now, and you should DEFINITELY check them out.
This panel was AWESOME. Not only did I feel like I left with more insight on the world of blogging, but I also felt really…supported too. These are all adults, probably most of them older than me, though not necessarily, who have full time jobs, and they spend a lot of time and effort on this, and they don’t get paid for it. But they still do it because its fun, and its a hobby and a passion for them. Which is EXACTLY how I feel. I know that I spend SO many hours on this, and work my butt off on it, but its because I love it so much.
I also was stoked to meet them, and talk to them. Alyson gave me free books, which was super cool of her, and Alethea told me about a TEEN BOOK SWAP that is going on next weekend, which sounds superb. I also am really excited to check out all their blogs!
The next panel I went to was Keepin’ It Real with Ned Vizzini, Patrick McCormick, Maurene Goo, Andrew Smith, and Bill Konigsberg. I really was interested in this panel, because I’ve read books by Andrew and Ned, and because contemporary YA is what I tend to write. I am dabbling into zombie fiction right now but for the most part, its all contemporary. And all the authors really keep it real. They write fantastic realistic fiction about mental illness, and self harm, kids in Cambodia during Khmer Rouge, sexual identity and more. Such an inspiring panel, and also full of incredibly useful writing advice. Oh and I apologize for the not-so-good pictures. Poor Maurene was bending over when I took the picture. Oops! I will get better at the whole photography thing, I promise!
The last panel I went to do was “What We Talk About When We Talk Love” with Elana K. Arnold, Josephine Angelini and Bill Konigsberg. This was was SUPER helpful because they talked about structuring romance, and how to write a good romance. I sometimes find that my romance starts to take over the story, and I lose my story so the panel was really great for that, and I got a TON of great advice there. I felt so much better about my characters, Katy and Lucas, and being able to tell their romance without ruining the whole awesome zombie part of my novel. And I also feel a little more confident to return to Evie and Alex in my baseball novel.
After the panels, they had the signings and I was SO excited. I had been dying to meet Andrew Smith again. I met him back in May but I hadn’t read Winger yet, and now that I’ve read it, I NEEDED to get it signed and I need to tell him how amazing it is. So I did, so that was awesome :) I also was able to meet Francesca Lia Block and Cornelia Funke and tell them thank you SO much for doing interviews for this blog, along with Ned Vizzini, who was SO awesome. I was incredibly nervous doing his interview, so it felt AWESOME that he told me I did a great job :) I was also happy to meet Josephine Angelini, whose third book is right next to me, and I’m almost done with.
I am also excited to dive into the other authors like Bill Konigsberg, Patricia McCormick, Elana K. Arnold, Maurene Goo and more. I’m pretty sure my to-read list increased by at least 20 books. Easily.
So yeah, I had an AMAZING time, and I will definitely coming to this event in the future. I was able to meet some seriously cool authors, AND I feel like I gained a ton of writing advice from some talented and inspiring authors. It must have worked because I came home last night, and wrote 1000 words for my zombie novel, so that felt great!
One last thank you to Mary McCoy for putting on an awesome event, and helping to get me interviews for my blog. That was absolutely incredible and awesome. And thanks for the LA Public Library for bringing a great collection of authors together!
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