Let's see, dance was fun, as always.
I love this picture of Varian Johnson and Suzanne Young. It looks like they're off to the prom!
Here's a row of beauties, huh? It's Lindsey, me, Jo, Sonia G. and L.K. the night of the Blue Moon gala.
Here's me and Tammi Sauer, aka Chicken Dance girl. At the Friday night book sale thing, she sold about 93 copies of her book. I sold 1 copy of mine.
And here's a few of us before we left and flew home. Jessica, me, L.K. and Sonia.
As far as things I learned, here's a quick recap:
Agents and editors told us that books are still selling. But it's definitely different out there. Tougher. We have to work harder than ever to make our books stand out. We must focus on the ONLY thing we can control - our work.
I felt like many of the authors really tried to remind us about why we do what we do. Someone on twitter said it this way, and I like it - stories teach, shield and serve. People need them. Children need them.
Also, we need to be aware of the market, but don't write to the market. Each of us must write the story that is ours and ours alone to tell.
How are books chosen for book fair/book club? Publishers come and share their books to the Scholastic editors, and they make lists (content or no content for YA, for example). Then, they grade the books at meetings, as in A, B, C, D, and F. Yes, really. Each editor has a few categories he/she is reading for. Books need to be squeaky clean, unless it's something like award-winning SPEAK that takes a touchy subject and makes it something that can ultimately help teens. Big titles will headline for them, of course. They have to make money! But they do try to round it out with some debut books and also on types of books.
They bought 3,000 books from over 170 publishers last year. They meet twice a year and just had a meeting the week prior to discuss upcoming books. I went up to talk to Ed, who was there from Scholastic, and he recognized my 2010 books, for example, and recalled that CHASING BROOKLYN went on the content list. I don't expect it will be something Scholastic would be interested in. But IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES would be great for them, I think. We'll see...
Um, what else? Oh, one cool thing that happened, I was sitting next to Lindsey and she introduced me to her friend and asked her if she had heard of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME. She looked at the cover on my postcard and said, "Oh my gosh, my daughter just finished reading this!!" So, I sent a little note home to her daughter thanking her for reading my book. It's so fun when there are moments like that. :)
I often come home from these things with mixed feelings. On the one hand, yes, listening to amazing authors is inspiring. But it also tends to hurt my confidence a little. Like, what am I doing in a place with so much greatness? Eventually, I get over it and realize the only way to greatness is to keep going back to the page. To keep getting better at what I do. And those big dreams I have, that I realize may never happen, will definitely not happen unless I just keep writing.
And so that is what I plan to do. Soon. For now, I have to get myself back to the day job. LA and amazing writer friends, I miss you!