How to hold a Teen Book festival

Step One – contact Stephanie Squicciarini at the Fairport, NY Public Library. She combines the best qualities of a librarian: passion for books, compassion for readers, energy, eye for detail, and the ability to dream big. Steph is a red-headed visionary in a hot green Beetle. Plus, she’s lots of fun.

It took Stephanie and her committee 16 months to plan for the day. The plan was simple: convince local business to sponsor a day-long festival so that teens from the greater Rochester could hear from their favorite authors for free. They did it. They brought 11 authors to town: me, Terry Davis, Alex Flinn, Brent Hartinger, Mary Beth Miller, Alex Sanchez, Terry Trueman (who I swear was my older brother in another life), Vivian Vande Velde (who has one of the coolest names in the world) , Ellen Wittlinger, Chris Yambar and Amy Kim Ganter. We spent all day Saturday talking to the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of kids, parents, and teachers who turned out.

That’s right, folks. HUNDREDS of teenagers spent an entire sunny Saturday hanging out with authors. Why? Because teenagers love to read books that are interesting.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Authors lounging in the lobby. Or maybe, lurking in the lobby.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I knew it was going to be a good day when the limos showed up.

When we pulled up to the Fairport HS where the festivities were held, a mob of volunteers were waiting, screaming and taking pictures. I kept looking around wondering when the rock stars were showing up. Oh, wait – we were the rock stars! Imagine a world in which authors and literature were honored and adored the way celebrities are today. This would be a much better world than the one we live in. First off, authors don’t expose their flesh the way many rock stars do. This, my friends, is a good thing. Second, we don’t exactly have scandalous private lives. (Diet Mountain Dew is the beverage of choice, we go to bed early, and our idea of a wild and crazy time is blowing fifty bucks in a used book store.) Third, literacy rates would skyrocket. If you dream it, it will happen. Just ask Stephanie S.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Brent had the best line of the day in the limo: “What if it turns out we’ve been hijacked and this is really a reality TV show.”

Reality TV with YA authors. The mind boggles.

A million, bazillion hugs and thank yous to all the amazing people who came out (that means YOU, Kate, and YOU, Tierney); the volunteers who dedicated the last year to this, the parents who drove their kids, the students who kept me on track and introduced me, the musicians who played, the teens who danced, the business who donated, the janitors who had the hard jobs, the teachers who cared enough to join us, and the mother of the most beautiful baby I’ve seen in a long time, and who was generous enough to let me hold the baby. The child’s name is Blessing and she was, indeed.

I’ll close with the funniest fan mail I’ve gotten in a while. Unintentionally funny, to be sure.

Reader whose name I am protecting for obvious reasons writes: Hey, i was wondering what the complete and detailed setting was for this book. Well I really hope that you can help me out. By the way, Fever 1793 is by far one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read and believe my I read a lot. It actually made History seem exciting! Well please write back with my question answered. Thank You very much for your time, i appreciate it.

Gentle reader, I suspect you did not exactly read the book. You might want to try that technique. It works.

Caroline writes: …What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not writing a book. Do you have any pets? What do you like best about being an author? I would love to know if you could ever come to my school and give a speech. i know you live far away from Maryland but take it into consideration. My school gets out on June 9 so you probably won’t be able to but that’s okay.

One of this year’s goals is to get my work load under control so I can have hobbies again. I would like to garden and run and ski and maybe quilt and knit. I would like to travel, but that has to wait a couple years. We have one dog named Keziah. My favorite part of being an author is when I actually get to write, which doesn’t happen as often as you might think. Sorry, but I won’t be able to make it to your school. But thanks for writing and have a great summer!

18 Replies to “How to hold a Teen Book festival”

  1. “Brent had the best line of the day in the limo: “What if it turns out we’ve been hijacked and this is really a reality TV show.”

    HA! I love it! Glad the event was such a success!!! 😀

  2. Oh, man, I wish I could have gone to that! I go to school about twenty minutes from Fairport!

    Brent had the best line of the day in the limo: “What if it turns out we’ve been hijacked and this is really a reality TV show.”
    Reality TV with YA authors. The mind boggles.

    That might be kinda cool, actually, haha.

  3. FAIRPORT LIBRARY=BEST LIBRARY EVERRRRR!

    I didn’t get to go to the Fairport H.S. event in Rochachacha because because because because I went riding my bike and got preoccupied with the singing birds. I could have rode to Fairport. Didn’t think of that. Aarhrhhggggh. glad it went well!

  4. Book Fest and Kidlets

    http://babymowgli.livejournal.com/521361.html

    Btw, I LOVE babies. Holding them makes me SO happy. Like I see one a hundred yards away and I’m like “a baby, I want it.” It’s gotten worse over the last few years too. Maybe it’s cause my littlest brother is almost 10 now or maybe it’s just my biological clock ticking, but I really want to get better so that in a few year I can have like 6 of them. I also really like little kids too, they are so funny! The kids I babysit for rock. I get along pretty well with big kids, young teens and older teens too. Besides, I have 3 younger brothers and they’re all awesome. So, even though child-birth scares the hell out of me, I want loads of kids someday.

  5. Hey, i was wondering what the complete and detailed setting was for this book. Well I really hope that you can help me out. By the way, Fever 1793 is by far one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read and believe my I read a lot. It actually made History seem exciting! Well please write back with my question answered. Thank You very much for your time, i appreciate it.

    I don’t know why, but that sort of thing amuses the heck out of me. =)

  6. This was a fabulous event! I am a librarian who was awed by the whole thing! What a great opportunity to meet so many great authors at once. Next year I’ll bring a bus ( or two) with teens.

  7. TBF Live! A HUGE SUCCESS

    Thanks, Laurie, for the wonderful comments. As a member of the committee, I can tell you every minute spent on the event was worth it when seeing the teens and authors interacting. From start to finish, it exceeded my expectations of a first year event and I am certain it will be even bigger next year!!!

    Thank you for being a part of the first Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival. And for all you do for teens!
    Beth P.

  8. SO happy to see you!

    Hey, Laurie!

    I was so happy to see you and to get your autograph — finally! It only took me three years, right? Now the book is sitting in an Honor Spot on my bookshelf, between Richard Adams’ “Watership Down” and the illustrated script of “Mirrormask.” I feel like the luckiest woman in the world.

    BTW, I meant to mark a poem in that Mary Oliver book, but I forgot to do it before I gave it to you. It’s called “The Journey,” and it’s one of my favorites (“The Wild Geese” is great, too). I hope you like it.

    Tierney

  9. Absolutely!

    Ellen Wittlinger here. I just have to agree completely–what an amazing event! We were definitely rock stars for a day. And Stephanie is a marvel.

  10. Book Festival

    So I was absolutely positively going to go. I called my mom, and she got me all the info (I was staying on that side of the country for the past week).

    Then, adults took in. They decided that it was more important to go on tours then to go see some dumb book festival. It broke my heart.

    My first time in NY, and the same day that the TBF took place, and I’ve been completely shut down.

    I think I will be pouting about this for quite a while. I wish I could have been there, and I’m so very glad it was a success.

    -Crushed.

  11. Did I say that? Damn, I’m witty. 😉

    Everything Laurie says about this event is soooooooooo true.

    (And could that be Xena in your icon? Man, you’re a Xena fan, and we didn’t discuss that?! I have now officially worked Xena into the plot of THREE of my books…!)

  12. Wild at Heart

    Who is the girl on the cover of the Wild at Heart series? It appears to be the same girl, but maybe not. It’s probably just my poor eyesight.

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