Well, maybe just the one writer, Rosemary Clemet-Moore.  First of all, can I say how well she handled our group of (often) rowdy teens?  Also, she gave tons of great advice, and personally I took a lot away from it.  The kids did, too; they couldn’t quit chatting after it was over.  (Oh, and Rosemary is a fellow IDTV addict like myself, which definitely raises her cool points!)

Her first book, Prom Dates From Hell, was suggested to me over a year ago by a bookseller, but I just never got around to reading it.  I’ll admit it, I fell victim to the cover-judge.

Prom Dates from HellIt just didn’t quite look like something I would read.  Holy cow was I wrong.

First of all, I have to gush over how much I love the main character/narrator, Maggie Quinn.  She’s decisive, nosy, and mouthy (and who doesn’t love that?).  If you’re tired of all those teen heroines that are all whiny, indecisive, and just can’t get around to the point, then READ THIS BOOK!  Seriously.  Maggie is great – she has a fear of water, a best friend that pushes her to never back down, and an instinct for how to kick some evil butt.  I love her!  I just picked up the second one at the library book sale, and I’m excited to read it!  (As soon as I finish Calling Me Home which I FINALLY started today!)

So my other realization after going to this meeting was this: my qualms about writing are not unique.  Shocking, I know, but something it helps to be reminded of on a regular basis.  My first book (which I’m trimming again before the Writers’ Conference) is about a brother and sister who are supposed to spend the summer at their grandmother’s, but when the brother gets kidnapped by Elves and goblins and dragged into a magical world, his sister has to go after him, all the while fighting off mythical creatures – everything from Sasquatch to harpies to the Three Bears from Jersey – all while her brother and his new gypsy friend fight to find their own way to freedom.

See?  That wasn’t so hard, was it?  WRONG!  It was incredibly hard!  When you start writing, before you’re published and before you’ve actually completed anything, like say…a novel, I think you almost always dread this question: Well, what are you writing?

Well, in talking to people that read the same kind of things I do (which, as you may well be aware is predominantly YA) telling them the truth only sounds so stupid.  But try telling your dad (who reads Stephen King and real, actual, adult authors) “Oh, uh…it’s this boy and girl…and they’re brother and sister.  They’re going to spend the summer in Tennessee, at grandma’s, and uh…goblins (**cringes while saying word**) kidnap the boy and the sister’s gotta try and get him back.”  Suddenly it all comes out in a big ol’ rush like you’re embarrassed to admitting to having such thoughts and the audacity to put them on paper.  Well, a little bit you are.  But what I’ve learned is this: embrace what you love to write.  One of the girls after the group was telling me that her book’s main characters are cats…some of whom also occasionally turn into demons.  I could see it all there in her face: the shame, the shyness, the utter lack of confidence in telling someone else (especially an adult who might be outside your interest group) what the thing is that you’re so interested in writing.  I’ll tell you what I told her: “Someone will read it.  As long as you enjoy writing it.”  I told her that there is already a devoted fan base for those Cat Warrior books, so those people + a couple years would probably be interested in a more grownup version.  Don’t get me wrong, I personally have not read a one of the Warriors books, but what are there now, like 18 of them or something?

Look, whatever your writing, especially if you’re writing for middle grade or teen, someone somewhere will think your book sounds dumb.  Oh well for them.  Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, Cat Warriors, Percy Jackson…Imagine pitching any of your favorite series at a time when no one’s ever heard of them.  It might sound kind of silly.  It’s probably a good exercise in honing your own pitch skills, though.  Think about what would sell you on your book.  Think about what’s sold you on other books.  Don’t be afraid to tell people what your book is about.  Tell as many people as you can.  Watch their reactions.  The more feedback you get, the better you can make your pitch, until even people not interested in your genre will go, “Hmmm, sounds interesting!”  (And not in that way that silently tells you they think you’re a crazy person 😛 )

Rosemary’s Blog – Check it out!

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