Saturday, January 24, 2015

On Editing and Seeing Other Authors

I'm editing this week. Hopefully. I've at least taken several productive steps toward editing. I've printed the novel I'd like to edit (my YA Superhero book ABNORMALS.) I've put it in a snappy red binder. I've begun carting the binder from room to room. It's all part of my editing dance where I do things other than editing in the hopes of gearing myself up TO edit. I hate editing.

My cat likes to "help" me edit. She knows I hate it. Good kitty. 

In the meantime, I had a neat opportunity this week to meet Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series and several others. He spoke at my children's school for an author event sponsored by our awesome local independent bookshop, Anderson's.

As I watched Mull give a great presentation to schoolchildren and pondered my own lack of gumption (Mull's first book came out in 2006, which is one year before the year I started writing. He's since had 14 books published and has contracts for at least 6 more. Le sigh.) -- I also got thinking about whether other writers know about this great thing about seeing authors speak/give presentations. It's a fascinating way to connect with other writers, though most authors at a signing are a little busy/preoccupied they usually have time to share a favorite writing website or podcast or answer questions from the audience about getting started or how they work on revisions or what have you.

It's also a great look into the kind of people that make up the writing world (the conference I attended last fall was another really interesting look into that world!) And while it can occasionally fill me with regret (fourteen books, eh? In one more than the sum total of years I've been writing? I mean…to be fair I've written 9 books in that time. But alas, I'm still over here on the unpublished side. And that's partly because I hate editing so much--most of these books I've written are waiting for a little more attention, need me to write the ending, or otherwise require edits before they can be seen by anyone.)

One of the fun bits at the signing was seeing my son set up the a/v equipment!

But to give you a little taste, here are some of the things Brandon Mull talked about in this school presentation (side note: if you write YA/Middle Grade, it's ideal if you can find a way to see an author give a school presentation, as these are generally a little different than the presentations they give to the general public at a signing at a bookstore.)

  • Told silly stories about his family (here's my dog Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Here's my dog Buffy running with my daughter. Here's my dog devouring my son. Just kidding!) 
  • Talked about the importance of imagination
  • Told his most embarrassing story from childhood. It involved falling down stairs and using a leap to try to cover it up and making it much, much worse. 
  • Invited some students up to make up an imaginative world where it rains basketballs and giant pancake creatures roam.
  • Emphasized the importance of imagination again
  • Played a book trailer for his new series, Five Kingdoms
  • Played a silly video from the author he was co-presenting with that evening at Anderson's Bookshop
  • Answered questions from the student audience (I noticed how he would answer questions in a reasonably brief fashion, keeping the presentation moving.)
To me, this is what writing books for kids is all about. During the presentation the kids were all attentive. (Mull had a great ability to keep their interest with a combination of interesting stuff, silly business, and audience participation.) They were excited to hear from the author. They loved the imagination stuff, kids are so imaginative naturally, hearing an adult encourage and support that side of them was very empowering for the kids, I think (including the kids' own silly business. The raining basketballs? Genius idea that the child might not have felt comfortable sharing with others if not for the context of the author visit.) When the presentation was finished, those kids who bought books were so excited to get the chance to have their books personalized. One fourth-grade girl enthused (upon seeing the set of Fablehaven books her mom had ordered) "I won't have to go to the library for a LONG TIME!"

Our school librarian selected this Occulus as a gift for Brandon Mull, which he gushed about (it's plot-essential in one of his books. You can see all, but your sanity may be impacted when you use the Occulus!)

So what's my point? Even if you can't manage to finagle an invitation to an author visit in a school, you should go see other authors at readings and signings whenever you can. Ideally you'll be doing the signings some day, right? Plus it's a great way to get an extra jolt to your own writing goals. I feel much more excited about that big red binder on my desk now. Maybe I'll be the next Brandon Mull, right? You just never know…

1 comment:

  1. I'm jealous. I love Brandon Mull. My sister got to see him too. I agree that going to book signings is a great way to give yourself a metaphorical kick in the pants. If only I lived somewhere authors visited...


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