Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wow. Just, wow.

Today has been a whirlwind of awesome. I think I've forgotten to eat, but I can't remember and who cares. Thank you for your emails and your tweets and your messages on Facebook. Thank you for being excited with me! Don't forget to send me your pictures for the contest.

I need to go get ready for my very first signing (EEK), but I thought I'd share a little news with you. Pretty much the only thing that could possibly make today any more exciting (other than magically growing that final eight inches to hit my goal height of 5'7").

Let me preface this by saying how humble I feel today with all of this excitement. I went into this goal of being an author with very realistic expectations. I thought I'd eventually sell one book for a little bit of money, work several years to build up an audience, and hoped against hope that I'd eventually be able to make a career out of writing. I figured it'd be a fight to get anyone to notice my books when they came out. I figured I'd have disappointments and struggles aplenty.

I didn't count on Michelle Wolfson and Erica Sussman and HarperTeen and you. This journey with Paranormalcy has exceeded my expectations at every single turn, and it's overwhelmingly wonderful. I feel very humble, I'm not sure what I did to deserve so much good fortune, but I'm grateful every day.

Of course, I left off two more people. They would be Jon Cassir and Matthew Snyder, my smart and dedicated agents at CAA and the engineers of my final piece of news for the day.

I'll give you a hint:

It starts with an "F"...



and ends with...



"ilm option rights sold."

Yup. Last night. I'm still kind of freaking out about it, strangely enough. We sold the option to Adler Pictures and Reverie Entertainment. The producer, Gil Adler, is wonderful and dynamic and passionate, and I am so excited to see what he has in store for Paranormalcy.

Tomorrow or the next day I'll explain what, exactly, selling a film option means.

For now, I'm very humbly and overwhelmedly and disbelievingly signing off with another thank you.

Thank you all.

RELEASE DAY! RELEASE DAY!

Even I am speechless sometimes. This is one of those times. I just spent fifteen minutes reading congratulations here, in email, and on twitter. As if today weren't already surreally beautiful, sharing the excitement with so many people?

Amazing.

Thank you.

Again, and again, and again, thank you.

More later, including probably the only thing that could make today more exciting.

Until then, thank you.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Public Service Announcement

It has been confirmed by several people that Books A Million has, in fact, stocked Paranormalcy early.


ACRONYM, guys, it's on a bookshelf. In a store. Where you can buy it. (As opposed to those stores that display items not for sale just to tease you.) (I hate that kind.)

So, if there's one by you...

(That "..." is meant to imply GO RIGHT NOW AND TAKE A PICTURE FOR ME SINCE THERE ARE NO BOOKS A MILLION STORES HERE and then go home and take another picture to enter the At Home with Paranormalcy Contest! It was a very loaded elipses, as most of mine are. If you don't live by a BAM, you'll just have to wait like me.)

What's the hottest fall accessory? PARANORMALCY! That's right, guys! You'll never look handsomer OR manlier than when you're holding a copy of this book!
Especially if you have awesome glasses.*

Girls, you, too can be beautiful and have the world's most infectious smile! All you need is PARANORMALCY!**

*Glasses do not come standard. Manliness is difficult to measure or quantify, and in this case is referring only to having both an X and a Y chromosome and looking good while holding a book. Owning Paranormalcy does not change your chromosomes. Cannot guarantee handsome levels equal to that of model. Only guarantee is that girls will find you more attractive while you are holding this book. Or any book, really, but especially this book.

**Buying two copies not guaranteed to double the beauty of your smile, but in several test subjects did increase width of smile and add dimples. Having Paranormalcy will not change your looks; you are already beautiful.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Who Knew Book Deals Ended with Real Books?

I've been trying really hard to think of other things to write about. Even though the release is next week, I don't want the blog to turn into PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY PARANORMALCY even though, let's face it, that's pretty much how my brain is buzzing these days.

It's a funny thing. When you get a book deal you're overcome with this sense that, holy crap, your book is going to be a BOOK. A real book. In bookstores. That, ideally, people read. Even more ideally, lots and lots and lots of people read. And it's what you want, what you've envisioned, what you've dreamed of for years.

I can still remember the first time it hit me how badly I wanted to make this happen. It was almost overwhelming at the time. And I felt like an idiot, standing there in the YA section of a bookstore, my heart racing and every nerve on edge as I stared at the shelves and thought, THERE. I am going to be there. I am going to make this happen.

I made it happen.

I've known since last year that this whole thing would end in a real book.

It doesn't make it any less surreal.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Voice

I have sneezed so many times in the past couple of days that my whole body is sore. Lately I've been picturing grabbing a spoon and using it to dig out my sinuses. I don't really need those horrible, painful, clogged up things, do I? Maybe I could donate them. . .

So, instead of re-reading Paranormalcy, answering a bunch of interviews, tweaking a few last details in Supernaturally, and writing an anthology piece I am . . . well, right now I'm whining. Obviously.

Along with those allergies comes a very funny voice, though. A voice that isn't mine, and that I feel like I need to apologize for when I talk to people on the phone. You know that feeling--how jarring it is to hear the words coming out of your own mouth but not recognize the voice?

I think that's kind of how my third-person books read. There was nothing wrong with the voice--it was a solid voice--but it wasn't my voice. I hadn't found it yet.

All authors have a voice. There is one author I know, and reading her work feels like slipping into a warm bathtub. It's soothing, melodic, flowing. Sometimes it's a problem when there's an action scene, because her writing is so mellow that it's hard to feel the tension, but overall it's a lovely voice perfectly suited to her books.

When I think of my voice, I imagine walking up to you with a big, friendly grin on my face. Then I lift up a baseball bat and slam it into your head. WHAM! WELCOME TO MY VOICE! JUST TRY AND IGNORE IT!

Point: My voice will give you massive head injuries.

Okay, that's not the point. Point is, I have a strong narrative voice. Sometimes I worry I wield it a little too heavily and try to edit it back to a gentle whiffle bat instead of a solid wood one. But it's my voice, and while it does change from book to book and character to character, there is always that underlying style, that tone, that way of wielding it. And I'm happy with it. It wasn't until I gave myself the freedom to really use my voice--to be funny, and sarcastic, and let my characters be characters--that I hit my stride with my writing.

I was talking with a friend yesterday about dystopians and I honestly don't think I could ever write one. I can be dark, I can be negative, but to maintain that oppressive lack of hope for an entire novel? To have to kill my funny? It makes me cringe just thinking about it. I know what my voice works for and what it doesn't, and I've accepted that there are certain genres I just can't write. (For now. I also once said I'd never write first person, which, umm, yeah.)

My favorite authors are the ones whose voices I know I can count on. Their characters are individuals, but there's just that something to their voice that unites even very different books. So, how about you? Which authors have your favorite voices? Do you like/write with a very present voice, or a very behind-the-scenes voice? How did you find your voice? And, for future reference, would you prefer aluminum alloy, ash wood, or whiffle when I smack you in the face?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Confusion

I read Mockingjay yesterday. (Actually I read two novels yesterday. You can imagine how clean my house is.) And yeah, brilliant, devastating, whatever you want to say about it, blah blah blah.

My real problem is this: Did it bother anyone else when Katniss got the owl with the letter informing her she'd been accepted to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Extremely Good Archers? I mean, Snape killing Peeta, yeah, I guess I can see that fitting in, and even the fact that Katniss is a horcrux for President Snow, but when she joins the Quidditch team to defeat evil house-elf mutts on Nimbus 2000s, that was just TOO much. Besides which, Katniss isn't even British, so that's a HUGE plot hole--no way would she go to Hogwarts!

Anyway. I did enjoy the subplots about President Snow actually being Katniss's father, having survived the mine blast by becoming a mutant spider-robot, and Zombie Peeta still managing to restrain himself from eating Katniss's brains was soooooooo romantic! However, Gale discovering the Force was another sticky point for me. I did like it when he sacrificed himself to destroy the One Ring, though.

Overall I think it was a satisfying ending, although the first two books seriously lacked the storytelling foundation to support such wild twists. Only fake spoilers in the comments, please.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oh, Hello, CONTEST

Paranormalcy comes out in a week.

Yeah, that's kind of weird, isn't it?

But it's great timing. You'll all need something to read after you are devastated by Mockingjay, and Taa-DAA! My pretty book will be in the bookstore (or on your doorstep), waiting to make you laugh. And bite your nails. And a few people have said it made them cry. But I am nowhere near as brutal as Collins, so you're safe.

So. How about a contest? I'm announcing it now because you never know if stores might put Paranormalcy out early. It happens, I hear. So, from today until September 18th, you can enter the At Home with Paranormalcy contest! It's pretty simple. Buy Paranormalcy, take it home, and take a picture of yourself doing something with the book. For example:

Paranormalcy and me, reading a book for review. (We are both in love with it, by the way.)

Or, if you would rather read Paranormalcy than read with it, how about:

Paranormalcy and I discussing the virtues of this particular shade of eye liner. Paranormalcy thinks I should opt for a greener one.

And after reading and discussing beauty tips, maybe you and Paranormalcy would need:

A nap. Paranormalcy is a VERY cuddly book.

And after that nap, you'd probably both be thirsty, so why not enjoy some classy refreshment like:

SLURPEE!

But even with Paranormalcy certain things must get done, so I made it help out with the housework.


However, we both agreed that dishes are simply not our thing.

We hate getting wrinkles from dishwater.

Sadly, it isn't always fun and games with Paranormalcy. Imagine my annoyance when I walked in to find this:

Paranormalcy ate half the bag!

But that was NOTHING compared to what I found later that day:

How...how could you, Paranormalcy?? That was MY LAST ONE!

Ahem. So, uh, there are some ideas for you. But please don't send me ten pictures each. One is plenty to enter the contest. All entries will be posted on the blog, because, come on, it'll be fun!

ONE entry, however, will win.

Oh yes, one entry will win.

What will that entry win? Why, a personalized, signed copy...and an "Oh, bleep!" t-shirt (trust me, you'll get it)...and a Paranormalcy custom-made metal bookmark...and, oh, how about an engraved, hot pink iPod shuffle with an iTunes giftcard and a note with special songs I listened to while writing the book that no one else knows about?

Yeah, I think that'll do it.

RULES:
1. One entry per book purchased.
2. If you received a free review copy from Harper, you can't enter. Sorry. I figure you kind of already won, right? Unless you also buy a copy, in which case you can go ahead and enter.
3. Not open internationally EXCEPT for Canada. Sorry! I figure most of my international readers won't get it during the contest, anyway.
4. No bookstore pictures. I want to see you hanging out with Paranormalcy, and Paranormalcy does NOT want to stay in the bookstore. Trust me.
5. eBooks count, too! Just make sure it's up on the screen of your eReader in the picture.
6. Deadline is September 18th.

You can either email me your entries at kierstenwhite at yahoo dot com, or you can post them on your blog and send me the link.

Are you excited? Because I am EXCITED.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Secret to Success

Lately I've had several people ask me "how?"

How do you write a "breakout" novel? How do you hit the market just right? How do you know if you're writing a novel that everyone will be excited about and want to read? How to you know if you're writing something publishers will want to buy?

HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW???

Allow me to let you in on a little secret about Paranormalcy.

I didn't write it to sell.

I didn't write it with the market in mind, or with editors in mind. I didn't craft it to be a "breakout" novel. I wrote it for FUN.

Yup. FUN. It's something we writers occasionally overlook in our passionate pursuit of publication. (Say that ten times fast! No, seriously. Say it ten times fast. I'll wait.)

When I started Paranormalcy, I had another book on sub. And of course that book was going to sell, and it was the planned first book in a series, so even if I did eventually get around to Para, it was years down the road. I was not thinking of it in terms of selling it. My exact process was this:

1. I am bored.
2. When I am bored, things get dangerous.
3. I should write another book.
4. I should write a book with fantasy elements.
5. While I'm at it, I should try out first person.
6. Hey, look, my son is napping and BAM THERE IS THE IDEA guess I'll start writing it now.

When I finished I thought, "Hey, this is pretty good. Maybe it's even really good, or at least it will be after I edit it. Fun! Now, back to stressing out about being on submission." And after a couple of minor edits, I shelved it.

Then my first book didn't sell, which, at the time, seriously sucked. And I had a dilemma. Did I edit the first book and have my agent go back out with it, or did I focus on Paranormalcy and get it ready? There were pros and cons to both. First and foremost, I was scared of Para. Especially that my agent would hate it. (She's not exactly a fan of anything with "creatures," as she puts it.) So I talked with friends who had read all my stuff, and I considered the market. I'd always thought that Para was special, and it seemed to me an ideal time for it. (See, this is where writing a funny, atypical paranormal romance comes in handy! I can ask you if you love Twilight and similar books, and if you say yes, I can say, "Then Paranormalcy is for you!" And if you say no, I can say, "Then Paranormalcy is for you!")

I edited it (and edited and edited and edited it) and then sent it to my agent with my stomach all twisted into knots. When Michelle loved it, I knew for sure I had something.

But did I know that when I was writing it? Nope. All I knew when I was writing it was that it was fun. So write for fun, and let the market work itself out. Does writing for fun guarantee your book will sell? Nope. But NOTHING guarantees your book will sell, so you might as well be having fun in the meantime, right?

Right.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a Very Big Contest of Awesome Announcement! And now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go figure out what, exactly, a Very Big Contest of Awesome should include. I'm leaning toward car chases and explosions. Or maybe just pictures and prizes.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Troubled Mind

"Yeah, it's funny how quickly you get used to abominable snow monsters being around and totally stop noticing them, isn't it?"

--Me, last night, in a dream.

And you wonder why I'm so strange.

(For the record, I was making conversation to calm down the girl who was freaking out because she thought the A.S.M. was trying to attack her, when really he was just trying to grab her newspaper because he's a fan of baseball and wanted to see whether or not Miami was winning.)

(No, I don't know what's wrong with my brain, either, and no, that isn't a scene from any of my books.)

(Well, then again, I haven't written the third book yet...)

(Also, the more I think about it, the more I realize this is probably going to be the equivalent of my own personal Twilight-genesis dream story. Someday, when my Abominable Snow Monster Baseball Lover story has made me millions of dollars, people will say, "And can you believe it all started because of a dream??")

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Crutches Are not a Good Thing

In fourth grade I snapped my leg in half. It was about as pleasant as it sounds. (Also, loud.) As a result I had to use crutches for two months. All of the other kids were jealous because, come on, crutches? So cool!

Or not so much. Your arms get sore, and your ribs chafe. You inevitably trip on stairs, and just try carrying something from place to place. (On the bright side, they did get me out of cleaning the kitchen on the chores rotation--a fact my sisters were not pleased with.) The whole point of crutches is that they enable you to get from place to place, but they're utterly lacking in convenience, they hurt, and grace? Forget about it. You're going to be clunky.

Crutches in writing are just as bad. I've noticed in my genre particularly--but really in any high concept book--that the dependence on the hook can be so strong you lose other essential elements.

(You know what I mean by high concept, right? It's that BIG hook that shows up in a lot of books. A sixteen-year-old girl works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. A teenage girl is forced to fight other teens to the death on national television. A girl falls into other people's dreams. A normal girl falls in love with a vampire/fallen angel/werewolf/faerie.)

I'll be the first to admit that having a big hook makes plotting easier. It adds instant drama, makes for engaging twists, etc. The story itself becomes larger than life. Which is why it is so important--absolutely vital--that you don't let the hook take over and use it as a crutch. Your hook should never, ever take the place of well-rounded and fully-developed characters. It should never take the place of tight plotting and engaging writing.

Take Hunger Games as an example. It's not an original hook--the idea of people hunting each other or even kids having to fight to the death has been done before--but where Collins knocks it out of the park is in execution. The world building is immaculate and the characterizations are fully realized. I don't want to be Katniss's best friend (since, uh, friends of hers have a tendency to die incredibly brutal deaths), but I feel like I know her. I don't agree with all of her choices, but I know why she makes them. She's a person, not just a vehicle for the Big Plot. Panem and the way it works isn't just a hastily-constructed background, it's an active and integral part of the story. The romance doesn't happen because the plot calls for it and so it must happen, it happens as a natural extension of who Katniss is and what she's put through.

That is why, I think, Hunger Games has done so well. Is it high concept? Absolutely! But the characterizations, the plotting, the setting, the writing--these are what stick with you. High concept novels are a dime a dozen, but it's only those that avoid using the hook as a crutch that make an impact.

The books that are the most disappointing to me are those that use their hook in place of character development. The main characters never become people--they're there just to serve the purposes of the hook, to act out their parts of the manufactured drama. I never connect, and no matter how cool or interesting the hook is, nothing stays with me after I close the pages.

So, let's remember: crutches are not cool. They're a pain, and they're awkward, and no one walks away from their time with crutches with any fond memories. I would say the higher the concept or the cooler the hook, the more imperative it becomes for all the other elements to be that much better. Don't expect to slide by on concept alone, or you may find yourself tripping on the stairs.

And I'll have absolutely no pity for your chafed ribs.

(Speaking of books with high concepts, the first seventy pages of Paranormalcy are available right now--for free! No pressure on me, after writing this post . . . heh . . . hmmm.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why YA

One of the highlights of my summer was getting to spend several days with Stephanie Perkins, my delightful friend and critique partner. We attended the LA SCBWI conference together and got very little sleep. On the drive home we were talking about Carolyn Mackler's wonderful keynote speech, in which she said, "I cannot purge this adolescent voice from my head," and another author (I believe it was Paul Fleischman, but do not hold me to that and I'm very, very sorry if I'm quoting someone else) who said, "If you had a happy childhood, write for adults."

Honestly, I had a happy childhood. (Really, Mom and Dad--ideal! Very, very happy!) Adolescence...not so much. Steph and I were talking about high school (mostly about boys--the ones we dated, the ones we didn't, the ones we did and wished we didn't) and laughing about ourselves, something along the lines of why on earth we WRITE teenagers when we were both so miserable as them.

But here's what we discovered: We don't write YA because we can't get over our teenage years. We're over them. Really. Thank heavens. We write YA because we remember so clearly what it felt like to be there. We remember how confusing it was, how exciting it was, how bad it hurt, how much we wanted things we couldn't and probably shouldn't have had, how much we thought we knew and how hard it was when we learned the things we didn't.

Interestingly enough, Steph and I both met our husbands when we were teenagers, and both made decisions then that would set the course for our entire futures. So we definitely don't talk down to teenagers--you MATTER. What you are choosing right now, how you are living right now? It matters. And that is what is so compelling, so wonderful. Everything is huge and new and important, but you still get to be silly, you still get to screw up, you still get to goof off. I love the raw emotions of adolescence, the slipperiness of self, the angst of trying to figure out where you fit and where you want to fit.

In short, I'm glad I am who and where I am, and I'm glad I don't have to go through what I did to get here ever, ever again. But I didn't forget that process, and I don't want to. Being a teenager sucks, but it's also a beautiful, confusing, wonderful, exciting, heartbreaking thing.

And THAT is what I want to write about, and who I want to write for. And that's why the voices in my head that tell me stories are teenage voices. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Edit! Edit! EDIT!

You will never guess it from the title of this post, but today I am talking about...just how mind-bendingly awful the Clash of the Titans remake was!

Wait. No. Today I am talking about EDITING. Oddly enough it's something that's been on my mind lately. I've posted about my specific process before, but I'm a firm believer in my process not being your process. Everyone first-drafts differently, everyone edits differently.

However, there are two huge pieces of advice I feel very confident in giving you. (Okay, three, but one is obvious: EDIT. A lot. Don't skimp on the editing end. A great story can only take you so far--it's got to be crafted and polished and as close to perfected as you can get it.)

As far as the actual mechanics of editing, here is Piece of Advice Number One:

Do an edit on a hard copy. It's been scientifically proven in studies that are scientific (and that I am far too lazy to look up but specifically remember reading and tucking away in the part of my brain that stores scientific things to talk about at parties [and now you know why I don't get invited to many parties]) that when reading on a screen you skip over more words. (SCIENCE, people.) You will catch more errors and more word repetition on a printed copy than you will on the screen.

I usually save my hard copy edit for one of my last edits, since it is intense and I want to make sure that the book is as nearly done as possible. Doing a hard copy edit (which is mostly a line-level edit, quibbling about word choice, punctuation, etc.) would be pointless on a first draft. The first draft of Supernaturally was 22,000 words shorter than the final draft. The first draft of Paranormalcy was 10,000 words longer than the final draft. That's a lot of new, cut, and different words.

Oh, hello blindingly pink printed copy of Supernaturally! Hello, Thai Pasta free pen! Hello sticky notes to signify pages I make changes to (which will probably be nearly every single one)!

And now for Piece of Advice Number Two:

Read it out loud. The whole thing. Cover to cover. Sure, sitting in the corner muttering to yourself makes you look like a crazy person (but, well, so does spending hundreds of hours creating adventures for your imaginary friends and then writing them down, so at this point you really shouldn't be bothered by looking crazy because you are, in fact, officially crazy), but I think there is nothing quite so good for smoothing out language and identifying trouble spots as reading it out loud. If you stumble over a sentence, it probably needs to be changed. If you automatically switch word order while reading, they should probably be switched on the page. It's also great for identifying repetitive word use--you'll notice the worst offenders more when you have to keep saying them. (Not that I, uh, ever have problems with word repetitions. It's just something I've just been thinking about and just thought I should warn you about. Just sayin'.)

As much as we instinctively know how to speak, sometimes that doesn't transfer over to writing. Reading it out loud can help you bridge the gap between spoken fluency and written fluency. (I'm not the only one who does this--the freakishly brilliant M. T. Anderson mentioned that he, too, reads all of his work aloud in the editing stages. So if other, far smarter people swear by it, you can take my word for it.) (I don't, however, have any SCIENTIFIC studies to back this one up. But quoting M. T. Anderson is pretty much the equivalent of a scientific study. And slightly more likely to make me popular at parties.) (But only slightly.) (Okay, the takeaway from this post is totally going to be: Don't invite Kiersten to parties. Which is not even one of my major points, but whatever.)

So there you have it--my concrete advice on how to edit a novel (at least in the final stages).

"Hi, Supernaturally! Don't be sad. You, too, will have a ridiculously gorgeous cover of your own someday soon--and it's all thanks to the glory of EDITING! And maybe to the fact that Kiersten never gets invited to parties and thus has lots more time to spend with all of her beautiful imaginary friends."

(Also, today is the one year anniversary of Erica pre-empting Paranormalcy. And what a beautiful anniversary it is! Yay Erica! Yay Michelle! Yay HarperTeen! YAY EVIE! Today I will sink to the floor laughing in disbelief in a dramatic recreation of that fateful phone call. You can join me!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pretty Much Sums It Up

Text from me to husband: I'm going to the library tonight. The kids are being NIGHTMARES today.

Text from husband to me: I think it would be better if you stood up to them instead of hiding in the library. In fact, it's best if I go to the library instead.

This heartwarming spousal exchange brought to you in equal parts by Supernaturally Edits and Grouchy Children.

But in actual heartwarming news, there are moments. Moments on this whole crazy path when I think I'll explode with happiness. Yesterday as I was sitting on the couch editing Supernaturally, my daughter asked if her name was going to be in the book. At SCBWI I had several authors sign books to my kids, who were thrilled to see their names. So I said, "Actually, your name is already in Paranormalcy! Do you want to see?"

Both kids squealed with excitement and I showed them the acknowledgments, complete with their names, officially INSIDE a book. My daughter read hers, giggling, and pointed out my son's to him. And I had one of the happiest moments of this entire journey.

Not to leave Hot Stuff out, he also gave me one of my happiest moments this week. He finished reading Paranormalcy (having not read it since the first draft) and said, "So, did you mean for the two main characters to be such good metaphors for teenage life?" And then proceeded to point out the ways in which he felt my book had deeper meaning than just the storyline and asked if I did it on purpose. (Answer: yes. Mostly.)

And I already knew he was the Best Man Ever, but this was a nice reminder. I'm still not letting him to go the library instead of me, though. Not even metaphor praise can keep me in the house tonight.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Conference Tips

Many of you know that I've been at the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators annual summer conference in LA. I've put together some handy tips for you, should you ever have the opportunity to attend either the national ones or a regional event. Because I'm just thoughtful like that, that's why.

1. Authors LIKE to be recognized. Especially debut authors whose books haven't come out yet, and especially if you say you read our blogs. We do not, in fact, find this creepy. Shockingly enough the entire point of a blog is to have people read it. (I know! Who knew!) And when other writers say that they enjoy your blog and are excited about your book? Trust me, it's a very happy thing. And if you are one of the lovely and charming people who have talked to me, you absolutely made my day.

2. But maybe some authors don't like it quite so much, so if you practically tackle M. T. Anderson so you can talk to him at the big social party, well, try to be a bit more subtle than that. (For the record, I am physically incapable of tackling M. T. Anderson, who is probably a foot-and-a-half taller than I am. Desperately tapping his arm so I can tell him "OhmygoshyouaresoamazingandyourwritingiswhatIaspiretothankyouforputtingitoutintotheworldIcan'ttellyouhowmuchitmeanstome", yes, that I am guilty of.)

3. Do not room with someone you adore. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you room with someone you see maybe once a year who happens to be one of your most favorite people in the world and is also incredibly well read and has super interesting opinions on literature and life and is also ridiculously funny and delightful, well, you won't sleep nearly as much as you should. Whereas if you were to room with someone you can't stand, hey, sleep will be a welcome respite, right? Next year I'm rooming with Glenn Beck.

4. Smile. And be friendly. I would start chatting with a group of women, thinking they had known each other for years, only to find out they'd just met the day before. People come to these wanting to network, to make friends, to talk. It's very, very easy to socialize. And hey, everyone here is interested in at least one of the same things you are: creating stories for kids and teenagers. It's an instant connection! In fact, I've met so many people I often forget how I've met them, and found myself grinning and waving at a really nice-looking girl walking through the lobby and trying to remember how I knew her only to realize that ah, that would be Carolyn Mackler, Printz Honor winner and author. Turns out I knew her from her keynote speech. And turns out even though she is like WAY too cool for me, she is just as friendly and kind and willing to chat as anyone else here. Also, she's freaking adorable. I love authors.

5. To anyone who says that writing for children is somehow less intelligent than writing for adults, I have one definitive piece of evidence for you that will forever negate the question. I give you:

M. T. Anderson. End of discussion. Children's Lit FTW.