This past weekend, my husband and I had a great time at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival. Sun, food and books - what fun! Authors, such as Erik Larsen and Thrity Umrigar, spoke to packed rooms and signed books for appreciative fans. Children and YA authors took the stage in an outside tent and talked about reading and writing to fans of all ages. One of my favorite moments was when YA author Obert Skye told the kids in his audience that he's clearing off his bookshelves, getting ready for all the books they're going to write, and that they better hurry because he needs something good to read! (How cool is that?!)
And to no one's surprise, especially not my poor husband's, I once again descended into fan-girl geekdom because YA author Lauren Oliver was there. She's probably better known for her books Delirium and Pandemonium but it's her debut novel, Before I Fall, that is one of my favorite YA books of all time.
Some of the things she spoke about:
* You can call yourself a writer, you are a writer, because of how much you write and how much you love it.
* If you say "I have to use this pen, I have to sit in this seat, etc" writing becomes too "precious." It can become an excuse to not write. She said she arrived at the festival early and wrote before her talk using a combination of pen and paper and her Blackberry.
* She started writing early on but it took a long time for her to figure out that her problem was plot, or a lack of one. She got a job as an editorial assistant in the YA division of a publishing company and, as she read manuscript after manuscript, she learned more and more about "story."
* Since I so related to her plot problem, I mentioned it when she signed my book, and she told me to always look for the conflict - someone wants something and someone else doesn't want them to have it.
You all know how much I love to talk about books I love and, even better, how much I love to share books I love. So, here it is - I'm giving away a signed copy of Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall in trade paperback!!
The rules: Leave a comment telling us about your favorite meeting with an author. Or tell us about a reading festival or a great book signing you went to. Something along those lines. Or just give a shout out to the tortoises. You have until midnight eastern standard time on Thursday, March 22nd. I'll pick a name at random and announce the winner over the weekend.
Good luck! Happy Reading!