July 16, 2012

Ascendio 2012 Recap

This past weekend I was able to attend Ascendio 2012, the Harry Potter fan convention that took place in Florida. It was my first fan type convention and I had no idea really what to expect other than lots of people in costumes and Harry Potter merchandise everywhere (which was an accurate expectation it turns out, but just a small part of what this conference entailed). I'm a fan of the Harry Potter books, but I must confess that the main reason that I went was for the Quill Track, their writer's track of programs because the list of people who would be there was just too awesome for this YA writer to pass up. Here is the list of authors I squeed over (there were others as well, but these were the ones that I was most excited about):

Beth Revis who wrote Across the Universe and A Million Suns

Michelle Hodkin who wrote The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and soon to be released The Evolution of Mara Dyer

Libba Bray who wrote A Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy, Going Bovine, Beauty Queens, and the upcoming The Diviners (my personal favorite-I just read the arc last month and wow!!!)

Aimee Carter who wrote The Goddess Test, The Goddess Hunt, Goddess Interrupted, and the Goddess Legacy

Veronica Roth who wrote Divergent and Insurgent

Lindsay Ribbar who has a book coming out next year, The Art of Wishing, and is part of the very awesome Lucky 13's with me.

From left: Lindsay, Veronica, Michelle, Libba, Beth, Aimee

What an unbelievably great list of YA writers, right?! There was no way that I was going to miss this one. So I signed up and made the hour drive to Universal's Portofino hotel. The convention was already in full swing since it started the day before so I got to do a lot of people watching before the first presentations and let me say, wow, the costumes and the artwork and the merchandise were so cool! I bought a few books and a great drawing of a fairy then settled into the first meeting room for the beginning of the writing panels. Here's what really made these for me:

The intimate setting: because this was primarily a fan con there weren't huge crowds at the writing panels. The crowds were a good size mind you, but not nearly as big as the ones at other writing conventions I've gone to. I think this helped create a sense of familiarity almost right away between the crowds and the authors, agents, etc.

The authors: this group was pure magic. Really. I laughed until I snorted at just about every panel, especially the ones with Beth Revis and Libba Bray who are both really, really funny. AND after the panels every last one of them stuck around to hang out with the attendees for a few minutes and answer any extra questions. They were AWESOME and I don't say that lightly. I will forever buy the books these authors put out because they were sooooo generous with their time.

The agents: Lindsay Ribbar, Joanna Volpe, and Carlie Webber all attended and they were informative, funny, friendly, and encouraged the writers who attended to talk to them outside of the panels. If any of the three rep books that are in line with what you're writing I absolutely would say that you should put them at the top of your query list. I was so impressed with all three and their devotion to their jobs and authors. And who can resist an agent who does the Safety Dance (80's alert)--Joanna---or sings karoake in a kick butt red dress--Carlie---or who sings Turn Around Bright Eyes with Libba Bray--Lindsay!

And here are some personal highlights:

Some of you may remember a post I did on Libba Bray earlier this year where I credited her with helping to get me published. If you haven't read it, you can here. When I did the post, Libba tweeted me to congratulate me on my book deal and this weekend when I mentioned who I was, she gave me a big hug and proceeded to tell people several times throughout the conference that I have a book coming out next year. It was AWESOME!!!

Libba and me doing jazz hands

I got to eat gelato with Beth Revis and two other writers and hear about her writing/editing process. I know! Major squee moment!!!!

I spent a half hour talking books with Michelle Hodkin who shared her love for Lolita and recommended several other books to me. We both started reading Stephen King in sixth grade--literary sisters for sure:-)

Hanging out with all the people I listed above at the Saturday night ball where Veronica Roth tried to help me get over my fear of dancing in public (sadly I just couldn't quite manage it, but she is SUCH a cute dancer and so deliciously tall. I would KILL for legs like hers)

Hanging out with my fellow Lucky 13-er, Lindsay, and getting to see an arc of her book in person. It looks killer, can't wait to read it.

Lindsay and me

Re-meeting local O-town writer, Sarah Nicolas and meeting for the first time also local writer Christina Farley. It's weirdly hard to connect with other YA authors around here.

Hanging out with my crit partner, Krystalyn Fowler, who I don't get to catch up with very often despite living so close by (we both have small people and small amounts of free time).

Krystalyn and me

Getting bumped up to an executive suite at my pricelined hotel for free. It had a foyer if you can believe it! Strangely I had uber difficulty sleeping though. Turns out that I apparently like hobbit sized hotel rooms for sleeping.

I know, HUGE, right?!

All in all this was absolutely one of the best experiences I've had so far as a writer and absolutely worth the frank and weenie type dinners my family and I will endure while our budget recovers from all of my meal and parking expenses from this weekend.

July 12, 2012

Sometimes You Gotta Take a Break

SO I have been a bit MIA recently on this blog...it's been a bit since my last post. Summertime gets a little crazy around here and honestly there is more than a little playing going on! In the past month I've been lazing about in a lazy river at the local water park, feeding Budgies and Giraffes at the zoo, watching tons of free movies during the theatre's summer movie fest (HUGO was by far my favorite), spending whole days thrifting (found a fabulous kitchen table for $35 that I painted and LOVE), reading lots of novels and craft books, and generally taking time to enjoy my kids and hubby. And while I've experienced some guilt about less writing time and time spent keeping up with writerly current events and friends through social media and stuff, it's been good to take the break. I've had more book ideas this month than all the ones that came before it this year. I'm feeling refreshed, renewed and really creative. It seems that maybe part of this writing life hinges on taking time to reconnect with the world around me. I have still been writing just about every day, but I'm not logging the long hours that I usually do. AND weirdly, I seem to be getting the same amount of writing done. So I've decided to just breathe and go with it. Sometimes a break is all you need to get your work done. I'm enclosing a few pics to share and next week I'll write a nice long post about Ascendio 2012, the conference I'm attending tomorrow and Saturday where Libba Bray, Beth Revis, Veronica Roth, Aimee Carter, Michelle Hodkin, and Lindsay Ribbar will be speaking. SO excited to hear all of their writerly wisdom, I cannot even convey it properly here so instead I'll just gush afterwards!

Hanging with my feathered friends.

My current thrift store find: my kitchen table. Spray painted it white.