Oct 20, 2011

Friday's Highlight: YA Women: Festival of Books Author Panel

     So many authors came to the Utah Festival of Books on BYU campus on June 4th (2011). Several authors gave presentations (see past James Dashner and Elana Johnson posts) during the event. One awesome author presentation was a panel of great female, young adult writers. The panel was moderated by Ann E. Cannon (Charlotte's Rose, The Loser's Guide to Life & Love) and included Ann Dee Ellis (This is What I Did, Everything is Fine), Kiersten White (Paranormalcy trilogy), Jessica Day George (Dragon Slippers, Princess of the Midnight Ball), Kristen Landon (Life in the Pit, The Limit), and Aprilynne Pike (Wings series). It was great to see these ladies interact with one another and show how down-to-earth, fun, and successful they each are.

Please take a look at the notes from the panel below: (at first I didn't record which author said what, then I did a few questions later -sorry! Each author is matched to her response by her initials.)

AEC: It's remarkable that these women are all writers and mothers.
Q: How do you balance your domestic life with your professional one?
?: Make it a priority. Sometimes you just have to leave the dishes.
AP: Use 2 plastic gates! One on top of the other (little kids can't get over that setup).
?: If it's a priority, make time for it.
KW: I pretend to go to the library, but I stay in the office in the basement in the evenings (my kids are too scared to check down there).
(ADE had just had a baby at the time of this festival, so she was focusing on her family life. Which is totally okay. Perfect in fact. I think we need to remember that to all things there is a season and it's very much all right.)

Q: In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about writing?
?: That it's easy and you can just sit down and do it. You have to make time for it. Many people try, but two pages in they quit.
?: That you write the rough draft and then the publisher and the editor actually write the book. No! It's your book and you make all of the decisions. The publisher does NOT write your idea.
AP: That I've never had any rejections. I had 180 agent rejections on books that didn't sell.

Q: What is the WORST writing advice you've ever received?
?: Don't read while writing.
KL: Write to the market. I didn't know about the dystopian genre but I wrote what I felt like I wanted to write (and the story was published -The Limit, a dystopian novel). Write what you love, not what you think will sell to the market.
?: Don't keep the first draft.
(Also in response to this question, they did give some GOOD advice:)
?: You have your own process.
?: No one can tell you what to write.
?: Your experience with writing a book is unique to that book.

Q: What books do you love?
ADE: The House on Mango Street, Roald Dahl.
KW: Harry Potter, Book Thief, If I Stay, middle-grade books (roughly ages 9-12) because they have a lot of fun in them. I pull that humor into my stories.
JDG: Robin McKinley, Guy Gavriel Kay, Diana Wynne Jones (Yes! She's one of my favorites too. JDG and I talked about DWJ once. Please see my past post about DWJ here).
KL: Lois Duncan, Among the Hidden.
AP: I read A - Z of the paperback fiction in the library, also, the Wheel of Time series.

Q: What is the hardest thing for you to do as a writer?
KL: The characters and the back jacket blurb.
JDG: Editing, revisions. It feels good to be done with your manuscript, and then the editors say you need to make changes.
KW: The setting and descriptions because I write in first person point of view. I love dialogue. then I realize she (the main character -Evie in the case of the Paranormalcy series) hasn't described what anyone looks like.
ADE: It really depends on the book.

Q: What writing software do you use?
ADE: Scrivener sounds good.
KW: Word (Microsoft). No notes.
JDG: Word and a small notebook.
KL: Word and index cards (the big ones) for outlining.
AP: Word.
(They all agreed that Scrivener would be great. They've all heard good things about that program.)
((If you sign up for National Novel Writing Month and reach the goal of 50,000 words, you can get Scrivener for 50% off!))

Q: (the inevitable question) Where do you get your ideas?
AP: The idea store.
KL: (For The Limit) A Talk Radio episode about families accumulating too much debt. The radio person said those families are "mortgaging their children's' future."
JDG: When I went to Romania.
KW: Traditional fairy tales especially the Coloured Fairy Books. Music because it evokes emotion. Movies. I take a single concept and play with it.
ADE: I play around with my writing. Whatever comes to mind. I wonder "what if?".

Q: How do you get your titles?
ADE: Editors.
KW: I smushed two words together (Paranormal + normalcy). What I think is funny.
JDG: The marketing department.
KL: My agent.
AP: Marketing.

Q: What about starting a story and not finishing? (all the ladies agreed that AEC should answer this one because she has a good analogy relating to boys.)
AEC: You get an idea and you fall in love with it and pursue it. Then you get to know one another. Then another idea comes along and you follow that. You need to commit to your ideas and make a relationship and see where it can go. You try to make it work. (Don't be fickle! Be faithful to that first idea and do your best to see it through.)

***Jessica Day George will be at the Orem Barnes & Noble Authorpalooza this Saturday, Oct. 22nd, from 1 - 4 PM with SO MANY other authors.***

***Kristen Landon will be one of four featured dystopian authors at the Provo City Library's Teen Book Fest on Saturday, Nov. 12th, from 12 - 5 PM.***

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