I was a panelist at the Baltimore Book Festival this past Saturday. Three other young adult novelists and I participated in the Book Divas YA Panel, which was held outside in a tent on the festival stage in the midst of other vendors, speakers and musicians. It’s a fabulous festival with a great reputation and looked like a lot of fun, but unfortunately this year we were all greeted by a very unwanted guest—Mother Nature.
Yup, it rained like crazy the entire day. And I’m not talking “a slight drizzle” or “scattered showers.” I’m talking heavy, sopping, make-sure-your-windows-are-closed torrential downpour.
First, let me get down on my knees and thank every single person who came out to support the authors in this less-than-festive weather. You’re awesome! And second, let me thank the Book Divas staff for being so pleasant and organized that we all felt thrilled to be out there—good weather or not.
Now, as you might expect, the turnout for our panel was a little light (okay, my sister and my husband may have made up a good percentage of the audience when we got started). But, in a serendipitous twist, the rain started tumbling down like a hurricane midway through the panel, which ultimately brought in lots of foot traffic seeking shelter. And, thankfully, they all stayed until the end of the discussion and asked some wonderful questions.
I got to talk about the research I conduct for my novels (which included a trip to Puerto Rico for Amor and Summer Secrets); my prior journalistic training (which I think helps the speed and ease in which I write my novels); and my thoughts on writing in a teenage voice (yeah, I still talk like a teenager myself sometimes, so it’s not that hard).
I also got to learn lots about my fellow panelists. For example, Brad Barkley, author of Jars of Glass, writes with a coauthor—each author writing in a different character’s point of view. And they do this without an outline by having one author write a chapter then send it to the partner who writes the next chapter. Suzanne Supplee, author Artichoke’s Heart, speaks beautifully about how the artichoke metaphor applies to the weight her main character peels off throughout the novel. And Robin Wasserman, author of Skinned, talked about how she initially shied away from sci-fi as an author, but is happy to now be writing in a genre she loves.
And of course, I spoke about how the main character in Amor and Summer Secrets, Mariana, shares my ethnic makeup (she’s Puerto Rican and Polish) and how I hope her struggle to come to terms with her ethnicity is relatable to teens of various backgrounds.
There was a lot of great advice coming out of the panel, if I do say so myself. 🙂 And I think it turned out fabulously. So if you haven’t read the other panelists’ books, check them out! I know I bought copies.
POP-CULTURE RANT: SNL
How much do I love Tina Fey? Let me count the ways. One is for her hilarious portrayal of Sarah Palin in the Katie Couric Interview. Two is for her requesting a “lifeline” when Sarah’s asked about McCain’s Senate record. And three is for her incoherent rant in response to the $700 Million Bailout question, which was almost verbatim to the nonsensical answer Sarah herself gave during the actual interview. Keep up the political spoofs, SNL! You’re rocking them!