As you know, on Saturday I spent the day at The Vegas Valley Book Festival. They offered an entire day dedicated to YA writing and authors. Let me start by saying that Las Vegas is a cool town, and the festival was great, but I must say I was surprised at how many great YA authors they had…They were everywhere!
The first thing I did was attend a great workshop called “Get out of My Way” presented by a great YA author named Matt de la Peña.
First of all, don’t you just love that title! Basically it’s your characters yelling at you –“Get out of my way and let me show you what I want to do!” I loved the fact that even though it was just an hour long workshop on writing, he totally went there! One thing he said that really struck me was about the process of writing teenage characters.
“Let your characters stumble into things they don’t understand. Don’t forget they’re young, and just discovering the world and themselves.”
I thought it was such a great point, and a reminder to be authentic to the teenage voice in YA. It was also great to just listen to his experiences as a writer. He was really down to earth, and open to sharing the ups and downs of the writing life. I learned so much in just an hour!
Next, came the panels! The first panel featured Contemporary YA authors…
The panel included Sara Zarr, Simone Elkeles, Kristen Hubbard, Abby McDonald, Gretchen McNeil Matt de la Peña, and Stephanie Perkins. They all had lots of fantastic input about writing YA, and were quite entertaining!
For example, did you know that Gretchen McNeil (who wrote “Ten” a book I’m dying to read!) used to be an opera singer? Here’s the proof…
The next panel was the Paranormal Lover’s Paradise…
Authors included – Daniel Marks, Sara Wilson Etienne, Lauren Kate, Emily McKay, Brodi Ashton, and Melissa de la Cruz. Book topics ranged from angels, to the underworld and vampires. Since I’m a paranormal lover, this panel was of special interest to me. It was especially satisfying to hear Melissa de la Cruz talk about her writing process, and how she works through the “I Hate My book” stage of writing!
The last panel was my favorite! Girl Power: Sweet, Spicy & Cyborg…
This panel included Kiera Cass (who worte “The Selection”), Elizabeth Eulberg, Ginger Rue, Kody Keplinger, Marissa Meyer (who wrote “Cinder”, a book I wanna read so badly!), Rosemary Clement-Moore, and Jennifer Bosworth.
I love female characters who kick butt, so it was great to listen as each author shared what female characters inspire them. The list ranged from Joss Whedon’s Buffy and River Tam all the way to Veronica Mars and Nancy Drew! It was also interesting to hear each of them talk about their own characters, and how they could be viewed as role models for young girls today.
After all the panels, the authors all sat for a gigantic signing, and that evening their was even a steampunk ball! Overall, it was a fun day, and most importantly it was FREE. I really did learn a lot, and I’ll be sharing more about those Ah-Ha moments in future blog posts!