I'm excited to say I'll be at the 2nd Annual Chicago Young Adult Festival with some fun folks I can't wait to meet. I'll be on the following panels:
Sex in YA Literature at 11:10am
Moderator: Susane Colasanti
Panelists: Christa Desir, Stephanie Strohm,
Rachel Wilson, Emery Lord
Trials and Tribulations of a First Time Author at 12pm
Moderator: Pete Kujawinski
Panelists: Melissa Gorzelancyk, Rachel Wilson,
Brittany Cavallaro, Michelle Falkoff, Kim Savage
Saturday, April 23, 2016
2nd Annual Chicago Young Adult Festival
Panels at Everybody's Coffee
935 W. Wilson Ave.
Reception at The Book Cellar
4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.
I had a blast presenting to the campers at Anderson's Bookshop's YA All Access Camp at the Naper Settlement on Friday. I'd never been there before, and it's like stepping back in time, the kind of place where women in long skirts and bonnets walk around and show you how to churn butter and shear sheep. At least, I think that was part of the Settlement. It's also possible that a back-to-basics cult has set up shop there and I narrowly escaped brainwashing.
As I expected, the campers were fantastic. What's not to love about preteens who choose to spend summer at a literature camp talking about YA books? We did some writing exercises, and the author potential ... Let's just say I should have been collecting autographs.
While I do love talking to young people, like most writers I'm a bit of an introvert, and it takes a lot of energy. So I made sure to refuel immediately.
My friend Zoe Schwartz invited me to present at Camp CEO, a program for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and NW Indiana. This amazing sign greeted me at the lodge where I'd be speaking. As a kid, I participated in Brownies, but my troupe broke apart before we had the chance to cross that bridge to become Girl Scouts, so I jumped at the chance to pretend for a day!
Each of the girls was assigned a female CEO as a mentor for the week, and they received talks on all aspects of career goals and development. We enjoyed some writing exercises and a great talk about publishing.
After the talk, I took a stroll down to the lake to soak up some atmosphere because I just so happen to be writing scenes set at a summer camp at the moment.
It's past time I posted about Vegas Valley, where I had an amazing time meeting so many authors and readers!
I got in Thursday night, just in time for a reception in honor of opening speaker B.J. Novak. I took no good pictures, but the official festival page has some great ones. I did take some good writing advice. Novak says, "Write for the kid sitting next to you," meaning, write what's going to be fun for the kid who sits next to you in class to read.
Friday, I teamed up with Maurene Goo, author of Since You Asked ... for a visit to the Nevada dessert and Indian Springs School. We were apparently very close to AREA 51! Probably we've been replaced by aliens!
We were given amazing armchairs to sit in for our presentation . . .
Maurene and I were both really enamored of the school mascot, the Thunderbirds!
Friday night, we had a YA author hangout at the pool at the Golden Nugget, where there is a literal shark tank. Luckily YA authors are way nicer than sharks, and I got to meet many of my fellow 2014 debuting authors face to face for the first time.
On Saturday, the Festival proper took place with author panels and signings all day. I was on the "More Than a Love Story" panel with Kelly Fiore, Carrie Mesrobian, Lisa Schroeder, Angie Stanton, and Sarah Tregay.
Then we had a signing in the bright, bright sun.
This pic was taken by Stacee, aka @book_junkee, who wrote a great roundup of the festival. The day ended with a great talk from Aimee Bender and an actual rainbow at the historic 5th Street School.
I did not gamble, but I did walk all over Vegas taking in the craziness of Fremont Street and the Strip, and checking out the interiors of the Bellagio, Caesar's Palace, The Paris, The Venetian ... basically all the Europey ones.
Want to get authors into your schools? SCBWI-IL has a lot of great advice.
Illinois is a talented state. Among the books displayed, I spied Sarah Aronson's BELIEVE and BEYOND LUCKY, Carol Brendler's RADIO GIRL, M. Molly Backes's THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA, and so many more!
Join me and four more amazing debut authors tomorrow on this live online author interview show with Jessica Porter of Crossroads Reviews.
The Google Hangout goes live at 4pm EST/3pm CT tomorrow, November 8th!
I'm so happy to be taking part in the 2014 YA Contemporary Scavenger Hunt, part of the YA Contemporary Challenge hosted by Katie's Book Blog and Montana from Book Belles!
I had the good fortune to be assigned to interview Jennifer Brown, author of Torn Away.
An Interview with Jennifer Brown
I grew up in Alabama, where tornado season requires a trip down to the basement at least a couple of times a year. Do you have strong memories of tornado season from childhood?
I’ve lived in Kansas City my whole life, so not only do I have memories of having to trek down to the basement for shelter a few times a year, I’m still doing it! It’s just a part of living in the Midwest. And, in fact, it’s so much a part of living here, that I think, like Jersey, I have become desensitized to it. When I see footage of tornado destruction, it’s always a jarring reminder that, “Oh, yeah…that could actually happen here.”
Did you make any strange or unexpected discoveries while researching Torn Away?
Actually, my biggest discovery came with how the book was inspired. I visited Joplin, MO, just weeks after a tornado devastated their town. I was shocked at the resilience of the people of Joplin. Even though so many in their town had lost pretty much everything, they were strong, and dedicated to rebuild. I wanted to create a character with that same resilience. I wanted to know if it was possible to rebuild absolutely everything, even the things you’ve lost in your heart.
Authors so often use weather to reflect characters' emotions or to create tone. In this case, weather was so integral to your story--did that affect your thinking about weather as a symbol?
You know, I never really thought about it before, but you’re right—weather can be a powerful symbol in story. I’m not a big “scenery” writer, so I’m not sure if it will ever be a huge symbol in my stories, but, having written Torn Away, I will definitely be more aware of opportunities to make it so.
I hear that you started out as a humor writer, but Torn Away treats such serious events. Did you still find a place for humor in Jersey's story?
It’s hard to weave any sort of humor into a book that deals with tragedy, but sometimes I think it’s necessary in order to portray reality and also to give readers a break from all the sads. So, yes, I did create some lighter moments between Jersey and her friend and neighbor, Kolby. They had a great connection, and great chemistry, that lent itself to levity easily.
Each book is different. Though you've authored several books, did Torn Away teach you something new from a craft perspective?
I don’t think I’ll ever be done learning the craft. It’s just impossible to know it all! Torn Away was a pacing challenge for me from the beginning. I just couldn’t really tell where the bulk of the story was supposed to happen. In my first draft, I had a beginning that rushed, an end that rushed, and a middle that kind of plodded. I had to work hard to fix it so readers wanted to go with Jersey throughout the whole journey and not get stalled out in the beginning or feel cheated at the end.
Leave a comment on the blog post – What was the last book that you couldn’t tear yourself away from? U.S. entries only. One winner will receive an autographed hardcover of Torn Away.
More about Torn Away
Jersey Cameron has always loved a good storm. Watching the clouds roll in and the wind pick up. Smelling the electricity in the air. Dancing barefoot in the rain. She lives in the Midwest, after all, where the weather is sure to keep you guessing. Jersey knows what to do when the tornado sirens sound. But she never could have prepared for this.
When her town is devastated by a tornado, Jersey loses everything. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she's sent to live with relatives she hardly knows-family who might as well be strangers. In an unfamiliar place, can Jersey discover that even on the darkest of days, there are some things no tornado can destroy?
In this powerful and poignant novel, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown delivers a story of love, loss, hope, and survival.
Buy it here!
More About Jennifer Brown
Two-time winner of the Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award (2005 & 2006), Jennifer's weekly humor column appeared in The Kansas City Star for over four years, until she gave it up to be a full-time young adult novelist.
Jennifer's debut novel, HATE LIST (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009) received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA "Perfect Ten," and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. HATE LIST also won the Michigan Library Association's Thumbs Up! Award, the Louisiana Teen Readers Choice award, the 2012 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award, was an honorable mention for the 2011 Arkansas Teen Book Award, is a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback, received spots on the Texas Library Association's Taysha's high school reading list as well as the Missouri Library Association's Missouri Gateway Awards list, and has been chosen to represent the state of Missouri in the 2012 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Jennifer's second novel, BITTER END, (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011) received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA and is listed on the YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list and is a 2012 Taysha's high school reading list pick as well.
Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.
The Fourth Annual S3Q2 & Friends Retreat took place in Beverly Shores, IN, this September.
Graduating classes at Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults have a tradition of naming their classes. Mine was known as The Super Secret Society of Quirk and Quill, S3Q2 for short.
Since graduation, we've managed to get some of our original classmates together with other VCFA friends for a weekend writing retreat that's both productive and quirky. I mean, this year we were visited by a peacock.
We had a blast, and I wrote more than 10k words over the weekend.
For my full report on the weekend and WAY more pictures, please visit my post at Quirk & Quill!
S3Q2: Ginger Johnson, Larissa Theule, Varian Johnson, Rachel M. Wilson, & Jen Taylor Schmidt
And Friends: Amy Rose Capetta, Mary Winn Heider, Rachel Hylton, Katie Bayerl, Marianna Baer, Steve Bramucci, & Carol Brendler
THE GAME OF BOYS AND MONSTERS is available wherever spooky ebooks are sold for only $0.99.
It’s a 48pg. standalone short about the darker side of the fantasy of the dangerous boyfriend. Harper calls it “an eerie and utterly compelling short story about best friends Leslie and Evy, whose friendship changes when the enigmatic Marsh brothers move to town.”
I’m full of love for this story, and I hope you’ll love it too!
And if you want to try playing Evy's game for yourself, you can do that at the Dark Faerie Fall Carnival here!
On the Friday after Don't Touch released, my wildly supportive Chicago friends gathered at The Book Cellar!
My friend Sky, who works there, gave the kindest introduction, we screened the trailer for the first time, and I gave a reading and answered questions.
My buddy Lucas (pictured below with duck face) happened to be visiting from LA, and some surprise VCFA friends made it in from the burbs!
We stayed until closing at 10pm! I'm so grateful for all the positive energy and love of that night!
You may be thinking, hey, Rachel, wasn't your hair red in Birmingham only three days ago?
Right you are. I'd had it red for a show, but my friends Jen & Kassi (who also happens to be a hair stylist) surprised me with a new do at the salon and, yes, more champagne.
News, events, fun stuff, serious stuff, and online doings. I kept a personal blog for years at The Storybook Girl, and I'll slowly be migrating some of those posts to this blog.