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!

Thank you, Mr. Marriott

I’ve been staying in a gorgeous hotel in Spartanburg, SC the last couple of days. The only problem – their Internet wasn’t working which is why I haven’t posted. I have to leave for the airport in 15 minutes, so this will be brief. I promise to catch you up on all the madness and way too much fun of this trip tonight or tomorrow.

A note – if you are trying to send an email to any of the writerlady email addresses and it is being bounced back, please be patient. We are having technical difficulties at Writerlady Enterprises – hope to have them fixed by mid-week.

I will leave you with this visual before I finish restuffing my suitcase. I had breakfast with Christopher Paul Curtis, who is one of my literary heroes. I am still aglow. He is such a nice guy and SUCH an amazing author. I can’t believe it. I think I will tell everyone I meet today: “I had breakfast with Christopher Paul Curtis.” I will say it over and over again just so I can hear the words coming out of my mouth. And it will drive the people sitting next to me on the plane crazy and they will find other seats so I will get to sit alone! Yay! I win!

Talk to you later.

ALA awards announced!!

Many, many congratulations to all the winners!!!!!

The Printz

Honor Books
BLACK JUICE by Margo Lanagan
I AM THE MESSENGER by Markus Zusak

The Newbery Medal
CRISS CROSS by Lynne Rae Perkins

Honor Books
WHITTINGTON by Alan Armstrong
HITLER YOUTH by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
SHOW WAY by Jacqueline Woodson

The Caldecott Medal
THE HELLO GOODBYE WINDOW illus. by Chris Raschka, written by Norton Juster

Honor Books
ROSA, illus. by Bryan Collier, written by Nikki Giovanni
ZEN SHORTS written and illus. by Jon Muth
HOT AIR: THE (MOSTLY) TRUE STORY OF THE FIRST HOT-AIR BALLOON RIDE written and illus. by Marjorie Priceman
SONG OF THE WATERBOATMAN AND OTHER POND POEMS illus. by Beckie Prang, written by Joyce Sidman

Poohday historical ramblings

Today is the birthday of A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh, and a bunch of other books that no one pays attentions to anymore. He was born in 1882, nineteen years before Walt Disney. 1882 was the year legislation was passed in England that allowed married women to buy, sell, and own property, and to keep any money that they had earned themselves for the first time. Some women were allowed to vote in England in 1918, the vote was open to all in 1928. It took until 1920 for American women to get the right to vote. Both of my grandmothers vividly remembered the first time their mothers voted. It was not that long ago.

A jar of honey for the ladies, please, Pooh!

It is a cold and dreary day here, so dark that I have the lights on up here in my loft. I think I will light a few candles, too, and brew more tea. I will snuggle under an afghan and lose myself in research.