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Yesterday was the first annual PAYA Festival… Bring YA to PA. I woke up at 5:30 AM to pick up my friend, Melissa of Surviving Writing a Book, and drive us both to West Chester, PA. We’re from the DC area, so the trip was almost 3 hours long. She had signed up for a writing workshop, which started at 10:00. I’m glad I’m paranoid about being early, because when I arrived at Melissa’s, she was still in bed. Apparently, she needs a louder alarm. We left her house around 7:00 and arrived at 9:40, which ended up being pretty good timing.
Melissa took the Listen and Critique Workshop, and I got to listen in. There were six authors (Amy Brecount White, Shannon Delany, Jeri Smith-Ready, Stephanie Kuehnert, Josh Berk, and Jon Skovron) who talked to us about different points of writing, all important. They gave tips on choosing a topic for your book, the rough draft and editing, working with your agent, editor, and the rest of your team and more. Listening to their stories was really helpful because it gave me an idea of what it’ll be like when I’m working on this. About halfway through, we broke up into groups to work on the first three pages of each members’ manuscript. Jon, Amy, and Shannon had some great advice, and even though I didn’t bring what I’m working on, I learned a lot that’ll help me. I also think I’ll be a better Beta-writer. Here I come with my red pen KNIGHTS OF AVALON.
If you're interested in hearing these author's amazing tips, check it out here.
We had a bit of time between the workshop and the signing. They broke the signing up into two hour-long blocks. The first hour had some great authors signing. I was excited to meet Shannon Delany. She signed my book, as well as Erin’s (who won a copy on my blog a few weeks ago). She had a great set-up with her buttons, bookmarks, and a stuffed werewolf standing guard. I moved down the line to Stephanie Kuehnert. I wish I had gotten a better picture. Her top was fantastic, and I want one like it. Anyway, she told me how much she appreciated my review of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE. I review books because I enjoy it, and I want others to enjoy the reviews as well. But it’s great to know when authors enjoy my reviews because it means I can give back a little bit.
Next up was Dianne Salerni. Her book, WE HEAR THE DEAD, is one of my new favorite books. It was great getting to talk with her in person. She had postcards, bookmarks, posters, and shirts. I told her how much I loved the cover. She said it had to grow on her because the dress that Maggie was wearing on the cover was definitely not accurate of the time period, which was important to her. She’s right, but I love it anyway. She also described the cover idea. You see Maggie’s back, as you stand behind her on stage. You see the curtains and her confident stance. The spooky writing is supposed to be indicative of the spookiness of communicating with the spirits. And because the view is from behind Maggie, you’re being let in on some of the secrets the general public doesn’t know. Is she talking with spirits… or pulling of a huge prank? The cover is stunning, if not 1850’s accurate. Look for an interview with Dianne Salerni to appear at Aine’s Realm, soon.
Stephanie Kuehnert and Jeri Smith-Ready
I also got STRUTS AND FRETS signed by Jon Skovron. He was very funny, both here and in the workshop. We chatted a bit. He talked about his next book, MISFIT, a book about demons to hit the shelves in a little more than a year. He’s working on the sequel to MISFIT. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to read his book, but I’ve heard nothing but good things and am greatly looking forward to it.
Sitting at the round table was Jennifer Murgia, Cyn Balog, and Shelena Shorts. I got some books signed and swag. Cyn Balog talked a bit about her upcoming book, STARSTRUCK, which will be released in 2011. My Jeri Smith-Ready and Jennifer Hubbard books were already signed, and they were lovely to talk to.
The room got so hot and crowded that we moved out to get some air and look at the art. The signing was in the Center for Performing and Fine Arts, and there was some interesting and amazing art covering every spot of are wall. There was one drawing so amazing, I wanted a copy. I should’ve taken a picture.
The next signing began, and a huge thanks goes to Amy Brecount White who procured a fan for the hot, stuffy room. She was pleasant to talk to, as always. She was seat by Josh Berk who wrote THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN. Melissa bought me a copy to get signed by him. We met his dad in the used book sale room. He plugged his son’s book because it was so fantastic. And “of course,” he told us, “I’m not just saying that because he’s my son.” Both were very funny and charismatic. Josh and I talked a bit about Scott Pilgrim.
I’m currently reading WATERSMEET by Ellen Jensen Abbott, and I tried not to gush about how much I was enjoying it. While I want authors to know when they’re books have been, or are being enjoyed, I don’t want to fall all over myself and fangirl around them. I also met Meg Medina, who was sitting nearby, signing copies of her book, MILAGROS: GIRL FROM AWAY, and promoting her new book that comes out next year, TIA ISA WANTS A CAR. Her books focus on characters of latin origin. She was quite lovely to talk to.
Next I met Holly Nicole Hoxter and got my brand new, shiny copy of THE SNOWBALL EFFECT signed. I’d seen it around, but never felt compelled to pick it up. But when I did, I knew I had to read it. Teen authors, Chelsea Swiggett and Kieryn Nicolas signed as well as Christine Marciniak. Andrew Auseon had some trouble getting to the event, but thankfully he arrived. To be honest, the place was hiding. It’s a center for the arts but it was in an industrial complex, which caused us a mild panic when we first arrived and thought I had typed the address in my GPS wrong. Anyway, I ordered FREAK MAGNET two weeks ago so I could get it signed at PAYA. It arrived in the mail around 2PM, while I was at the signing. Bad timing, USPS. When it wasn’t in the mail box on Friday, I knew it’d be here on Saturday.
I met two lovely women from Fallen Archangel, the HUSH, HUSH fansite, and many other book bloggers. There was a raffle for some awesome books. I didn’t win. Aww… but Melissa got a huge swag pack filled with signed bookmarks, postcards, a journal, and a few other goodies. I was allowed to stop in the librarian only room to grab a few books to donate to my work library. I work with autistic adults, and most of our guys love MG and YA novels. I think they’ll particularly like THEODOSIA AND THE EYES OF HORUS.
There was another writing workshop, this one for teen writers. But since Melissa and I are well out of our teens and three hours from home after being awake for over eight hours with no food, we decided it was time to roll. Lunch at Burger King at 4:00, coke slurpees from 7-eleven, and three hours later, we were safe at home and resting. Well, I was resting; I’m sure Melissa was walking her dogs and then playing with her many cats.