This weekend I attended the NTTBF in Irving, TX for their inaugural celebration of all things young adult and middle grade readers. When I was growing up these things didn’t exist or I didn’t know about them so I was almost as excited as the younger ones. The schedule was packed full of 50 plus authors from all over the nation in panel settings answering all the burning questions we as readers are always wanting to ask. As a “semi-adult” (Mid-20’s doesn’t quite qualify me as adult, right?) some of this was definitely cringe worthy maturity wise but for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I found authors I never would have glanced at completely riveting. I realized some authors should never be allowed in front of youth as role models and others made me laugh out loud. The only critique I have of the festival was the book signings. It was too crowded so my friend and I just skipped that part. I do love meeting authors but I enjoy what they have to offer in their opinions more than their signatures. I left with a long list of books to be bought, read or borrowed. I look forward to returning next year
Here were some of the highlights:
Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Look her up! She is lovely and holds a PhD in Psychology. She offers great insight into character development and researches fandoms, fiction and how we react to all of these things in her spare time.
D.J. MacHale- This man opens his mouth and I am inspired. He writes things I would have never read and yet I found myself trying to find his books. He has done work for Nickelodeon, some adult fiction and his thoughts on suspense make me want to add him to my favorites list. Stay tuned for some reviews from his works. The best thing I learned: “If you want to be a writer, go to college and study everything else but writing, then write.”
Soman Chainani- He is a very interesting and laid back guy. He has written his own scripts based on his books that will be releasing shortly from Disney. He said we should trust that readers are open; books can be disturbing sometimes but children are more open than adults. Children can handle difficult situations through books because they can close the book and hide it under their pillow and pick it back up when they’re ready. My friend (an elementary teacher) thought this was a fascinating idea because we tend to put children into brackets. We only allow them to read one genre or we focus on their reading as singular to their grade level. Maybe we should allow them to read based on their taste and maturity instead of what we think they should be reading.
Karen Harrington- Karen offered my second great bit of advice: “You are your own first research.” That is so true. She wanted to make sure she got difficult situations correct. I had never thought about how critical readers are of what we read. When you travel to the ocean and smell the air, you have an experience. If the author portrays this experience differently we immediately judge the entire piece of work.
Lastly, the entire panel for Overcoming Obstacles agreed that if you want to be an author, your first step is to write a whole book, front to back.
These are just highlights, and I didn’t get to sit through every panel as there were many that were simultaneous and many that were closed due to capacity (which is great)! I was thrilled that so many attended and hope this is a good sign that many are reading.
As a new book blogger, it has been such a wonderful experience to find out about all of these book events. I plan to attend many more and share with you the advice and experiences I learn along the way!