Teen lit is quick because teens don't have long attention spans. (Apparently, neither do I.) It can be on a variety of subjects and is sometimes more edgy than adult lit, without the graphic sex...most of the time. It's relatively easy reading, and honestly, I get bored with adult stories because I live every day as an adult. I know what that's like. Teen protagonists can be much more interesting, honest, brass, cool, scared, cruel, sensitive, perceptive, thoughtful and knowledgeable than we give them credit for. (I could name many more character descriptions, but I'm sure you don't want a laundry list, so fill in the blank yourself.)
Anyway, I digress. The main idea is TEEN LIT BOOKS ROCK! I love to read them and even more, I love to write them, which is why I attended the book festival. I'm on a mission to surround myself with successful authors. So, I Twitter and Facebook and follow agents and authors to read about their daily lives and struggles in this business. They're very similar to my own struggles, so I know I'm not alone.
The annual festival is held at Nazareth College. I'm an alum there, having received my Masters in Special Education, so I hope when I am published, they will invite me to speak. The best part is, it's open to the public and it's free. Yes, that's right, FREE. So all you parents who think that bringing your teen to something like this would cost too much money, save your pennies for that fancy vacation and bring your kid to this festival!
It began with the authors arriving in limos, heralded by a marching band. Unfortunately, I missed this part since I was too lazy to wake up at the ungodly hour of 4 A.M. to be there right on time. By the time I arrived, we had a few minutes to look over the book table. I had to restrain myself, only buying a few books, but I could have easily spent hundreds. The money here goes to help fund the program and allows it to be free. Yes, that's right, FREE. After a few minutes, the authors were introduced one at a time and gathered on the bleachers where they did a lightning round of Q&A.
This is the entire panel of authors. Top row first from left to right: Laurie Halse Anderson, Holly Black, Coe booth, Robin Brande, Lindsay Cibos, Jared Hodges. Row 2: Marissa Doyle, Simone Elkeles, Ellen Hopkins, James Kennedy, A. S. King. 3rd row: Daniel Kirk, Alisa Libby, Barry Lyga, Lisa McMann, Mari Mancusi. 4th row: Ben Mikaelsen, Alyson Noel, Sarah Ockler, Matt De la Pena, Amy Kathleen Ryan. Bottom row: Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer E. Smith, Terry Trueman, Vivian Vande Velde, Martin Wilson.
Next were the break out sessions. You could choose three, unless you wanted to skip lunch. Then you could do four. (Of course I went to four. I wish I could have gone to more! Who needs to eat anyway?) I chose to see Terry Trueman, author of Stuck In Neutral first. He was in a classroom on campus, and after joining about 20 or so others, we settled in to hear him speak. Mr. Trueman was very laid back and spoke a little about everything, mostly in response to our questions. He even read from his WIP, (Work in Progress) which is a sequel to Stuck In Neutral. For those who don't know, Stuck In Neutral is about a boy with cerebral palsy and the book is written from his perspective! AWESOME book. Below are me and Terry Trueman.
After that, we saw Laurie Halse Anderson. Just knowing her success is inspiring. She was super nice, AND she remembered my blog about Wintergirls. :) Ms. Anderson had a slide show, which she used to discuss her life in writing. I'm jealous of her writing "cabin." I think I need to hire her carpenter husband to build one for me! In case, you don't know her, she is the author of Speak, Chains, Fever 1793, Twisted and many others. Here are a few pictures: The one on the bottom is my friend, Bri with Laurie.
Next was a trio of Super geeks who spoke on what it was like to be outcasts. Each took time to tell their most embarrassing moments and read from their books. Below are Lisa McMann, author of the Wake series; A. S. King, author of The Dust of 100 Dogs; and Robin Brande, author of Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature and Fat Cat.
Lastly, was Ellen Hopkins, who wrote Burned, Crank, Glass, Identical, Impulse and Tricks. Her story is amazing, and for anyone who doesn't know, Crank and Glass as well as a book she's currently writing is based on her story and her daughter's struggle with Crystal Meth. The books are highly controversial due to their truthful look at the world of drugs, which makes them both intriguing and essential for teens. It's my belief that instead of banning books like these, we as parents should use them to our advantage. Read them yourself if you think they're not appropriate! And, as Ms. Hopkins said, come and listen to her speak. Then you'll know what she's all about.
What an amazing weekend. Thank you to the authors who took time to travel to Rochester to meet with a bunch of crazy teenagers and people like me who want some encouragement in the realm of writing. It was an honor, and I hope that one day I can call myself your colleague.