Skip to main content

My Adventure at Teen Book Con: What I Learned



Teen Book Con was a blast! I had a great time. Lani Taylor gave an amazing Keynote that set the tone of a great day of fun and learning from some epic, accomplished YA authors. So from my notes on each of the five panels I went to, I'm compiling a list of top helpful writing tips for aspiring authors as well as some interesting questions that were asked about the behind the scenes of what goes in to publishing a book.

On Writing a Book:

1) Where do you get your ideas?
Both Benjamin Alire Saenz and Katherine McGee weighed in on the question and gave similar answers. Observing people is really the greatest tool for finding story inspiration and building characters. I completely agree with this.

2) Do you plot or just write?
All of the authors had totally different answers to this question. Nina LaCour said she writes snippets that come to her and then pieces them together into an outline and later a story. Kathleen Glassglow said she has to write out the whole novel before she outlines. And Len Vlahos said that he waits till the novel is formed in his head before he writes it.

3) How do you stay with a story?
It was the authors general consensus that you just have to push through the inevitable rough spots if you really love the story.

4) What is the most difficult part of writing?
Of course, this is unique for everyone, and that was represented by the panel's responses. Nina LaCour said that it was the middle slump of the first draft. Kayla Cagan said that it was letting go of the characters at the end, and Benjamin Alire Saenz said that it was all hard, but that's what he loves about it.

5) Tips for authors stuck in revisions.
Katherine McGee and Benjamin Alire Saenz both agreed that getting feedback from people you trust is imperative to realizing what the problems are.

6) Advice for coping with writers block.
There were many different tips given throughout the day to this popular question some include:

  • Write every day. It keeps the writers block away.
  • Keep going.
  • Read poetry and take walks.
  • Turn off your phone
  • Don't critique yourself.
  • Listen to music. Talk to friends.
  • Read a different genre than you're writing.

On Creating Characters:

1) What are the most important things to give characters to bring them to life?
Lance Rubin suggesting giving them specific quirks and details that can be drawn from real people. Kim Savage said that making the narrator unreliable gives an interesting twist. And Nina LaCour said the most important thing is to love every character. She also says that mixing unexpected traits can work well to give dimension.

2) How do you develop a character arch?
Kim Savage said that the characters should grow a bit every chapter. They need to face plenty of obstacles. Nina LaCour said that characters growth should solidify or uncover a trait that the character had unrealized from the start. And Lance Rubin shared that it's okay to discover that as you write the first draft and really hone it in the subsequent rewrites.

3) Tips on writing the antagonist.
Nina LaCour says that your have to love your antagonist just like all your other characters. You have to find the good in them and twist it. You must understand the why for all their actions.

4) Tips on communicating appearance.
Lance Rubin said that thinking about how you would describe real people's faces can be helpful for writing good character descriptions. Nina also said that using a small amount of physical description is okay. Also, always remember to look at the characters through the eyes of the main character and use their relationship to bring out certain aspects of the characters which I think is amazing advice.

On After the Writing:

1) Is writing the hard part or is it publishing?
The general consensus was that starting with a blank page to fill is the hardest hurtle.

2) How much say do you get over your covers?
It really seems to very based on author and publishing house. Jenny Han is very involved in crafting her covers while Benjamin Alier Saenz and Katherine McGee get no say over their covers. It seems that most authors don't get much say and their opinions of the final product very greatly.

3) Would/ did you hesitate to make your book a movie?
Angie Thomas was very honest. I loved her answer. She said that she did hesitate quite a bit because so many adaptions suck, but getting to be very involved has put her mind at ease. Jeff Giles said that he would be open to it. Alexandra Bracken said that she was hesitant but happy that they are doing it. She is entirely hands off. 

And Finally the Number One Question:

Best advice for aspiring authors:
  • Len Vlahos: Read Steven King's On Writing
  • Andrew McCarthy: Just begin.
  • Nina LaCour: Find someone to read your work.
  • Kathleen Glasgow: Someone needs to hear your story.
  • Kayla Cagan: Ask yourself why you're stuck.
  • Benjamin Alire Saenz: Do whatever it takes to keep writing.
So there you have it, my experience with Teen Book Con. Getting six books signed was incredible. All of the authors were SO nice especially Kayla Cagan and Nina LaCour. And I am super excited to read their books. Look for the reviews of my new books for the next two weeks. Below I'm going to list out the authors I saw and the books in case you want to buy any of them. And if you're in Houston this time next year I would defiantly recommend going!

Kayla Cagan- Piper's Perish Kathleen Glassgow- Girl in Pieces Jenny Han- To All The Boys I've Loved Before Nina LaCour- We Are Okay Andrew McCarthy- Just Fly Away Katherine McGee- The Thousandth Floor Len Vlahos- Life in a Fishbowl Lance Rubin- Denton Little's Still Not Dead Benjamin Alire Saenz- The Inexplicable Logic of My Life Alexandra Bracken- Wayfarer Jeff Giles- The Edge of Everything Angie Thomas- The Hate You Give Ashely Elston- This is Our Story Kim Savage- Beautiful Broken Girls

- Lauren






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

The History of Jane Doe

The History of Jane Doe by Micheal Belanger (2018)
Overview: Ray knows the entire history of his hometown, Burgerville, Connecticut. He also knows lots of different tidbits about the world as well. But, for his first written account of history, the story must center on loss, why, and fleeting moments of happiness. He has to tell the story of his first girlfriend, hidden by the anonymity of the name Jane Doe. Told in Before and After chapters, Ray explores the highs and lows he had in his fleeting relationship with Jane and his recovery from crushing loss. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Jane is coping with clinical depression that probably stems from a combination of family history and past trauma. She goes between trying to hide her scars and struggles and exposing them, tiny piece by piece to the people she loves.
Ray is fascinated by Jane and the way she looks at the world and the town he's lived in all his life with fresh eyes.
His friend, Simon, is dorky and not quite all together b…

The Dead Queen's Club

The Dead Queen's Club by Hannah Capin (January 29)
Overview: For fans of European history, specifically Henry VIII and his many wives, this is a treat. Modernized and set in high school, this version is the tale of all of Henry's living ex-girlfriends banding together to find the real reason behind the death of two of his former girlfriends, Anna Boleyn and Katie Howard. Narrated by Annie, better known as Cleves, the reader falls for Henry's charm but also sees the cracks growing in his perfect facade. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Cleves has a authoritative voice that I very much enjoyed. She's outspoken and uncompromising as she makes a place for herself in her new school senior year. Even though she marches to the beat of her own drum, she's found a place for herself among the cheerleaders who genuinely love how unique she is; but it helps that she's already friends with Henry, football star who practically owns the school.
The other characters have their places a…

This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (326 pages)
Overview: Sloane wanted to end her life. And then the apocalypse came. Her focus suddenly turns to survival because that's what she's supposed to do. She finds a group of other teens from her school, and they survive in the infected city for seven days before finding shelter in the high school. With all the doors barricaded and the necessities provided, suddenly, there's room to think, reflect, and feel again, and their safe haven quickly turns into a cage. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 This cast has blown me away. Courtney Summers in general has done that with every aspect of the novel, but the characters are all so detailed and unique and flawed and emotional and broken. It makes for the perfect novel.
Sloane has recently had her sister leave without her, even though the plan was for them to escape their abusive father together. Without Lily, she feels her life has no point, but when it's seriously threatened, something co…

Valentines To My New Favorite Books

Over the last two-ish months since I posted my Best of 2018 list, I've found tons of amazing titles! Since they aren't 2019 releases, they won't be on my next year end list, so I thought I'd honor them by writing valentines to each of these amazing books!
I've also thrown in one bonus 2019 that I'll definitely be talking about all year long that you should preorder now!



Down And Across by Arvin Ahmadi This book just made me happy. Scott doesn't know where his life is headed, but, as the world is fascinated with grit (and loves to tell young people they have none), he decides to head to Georgetown to seek out the professor who is an expert in it. And then he doesn't take no for an answer till he scores himself somewhat of an internship. Along the way, he befriends a few college kids, starts working at a bar, and learns a thing or two about the world outside of high school. I love books that skew on the older end of YA and explore life outside of high sch…

Monday's Not Coming

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Overview: When Monday isn't there for a spinning hug with Claudia when she gets back from her summer in Georgia, Claudia knows something is wrong. When Monday isn't at the first, second, or third day of eighth grade, Claudia tells her parents they need to do something. But Monday lives in the projects with her single mother and her situation isn't something people talk about. It's Patti's business what she does with her kids. But when the stories about Monday's whereabouts keep changing and the police refuse to look into it, Claudia has to take matters into her own hands to find Monday. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 5 The characters bound off the page. Claudia's voice is so strong, and her friendship with Monday is so honest. From the parents to her teachers to Monday herself, Claudia makes the characters around her come to life. Even minor characters have motivations and details.

Plot: 4 My advice is to ignore the cha…

Girl Made of Stars

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake (295 pages)
Overview: Mara's twin brother is accused of rape by her friend. Mara's attempt to go back to being best friends with her ex-girlfriend isn't working. Mara is so lost. Sisters, best friends, parents, and everyone at school have an opinion about what happened between Owen and Hannah in the woods. Mara's mom, who's always been a devout feminist, is suddenly vehemently denying that Owen is at fault. Mara isn't so sure. Even though she loves her twin and can't imagine him as a rapist, she knows her best friend would never lie. Overall: 5+++++

Characters: 5 Mara is a wonderful character. She's so honestly confused and torn up about what happened, but she quickly aligns with Hannah. Supporting her best friend becomes something for herself, as well, though, because Mara is a survivor too. She takes Hannah's pain like her own as everyone at school and home takes Owen's side. Mara has to come to terms w…

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (372 pages)
Overview: Tash has a lot going on. Her family is unsettled with impending arrivals and sisters leaving the nest. She's co-running a You Tube production company that explodes with her best friend Jack, and she's grappling with her sexuality and the possibility that she's ace. New fame, new family, and possibly new romance all threaten to make Tash's world explode, but, somehow, she's keeping it all together. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Tash is so amazing! She's a real human being that springs to life and invites you to see the world through her eyes. One thing that I particularly love is that, even though Tash doesn't believe it, you know she's smart by the way Ormsbee chooses the perfect words and mature sentence structure. Trying too hard to make characters smart is something a lot of authors falter with, but the execution of presenting Tash's personality is perfect. The way that Tash deals with her ch…

Immoral Code

Immoral Code by Lillian Clark (February 19) Overview: Five teens- one big heist. A group of friends band together to commit the ultimate in hacking to siphon off enough money to send their friend Bell to college at MIT. Because of her absent father's immense wealth, Bell gets rejected for financial aid at the school of her dreams. Not that her father is agreeing to pay any part of tuition, or even acknowledge her existence. Outraged at this, Nari, coding genius, creates a plan to play Robin Hood and ropes their other friends into risking jail time for Bell's dream. Will they pull off a job that would be ambitious for a team of professional hackers and con men or will they face the steep consequences and ruin five lives? Overall: 4

Characters: 4 There's a crowded stage when it comes to characters, but that doesn't mean that their individuality gets sacrificed. Bells is a science genius with a bright future despite having to fight against the near poverty her father sunk h…

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (417 pages)
Overview: Glamping should not include getting stranded in the middle of the woods with your ex-best friend. But life doesn't always go as it's supposed to. When Zorie agrees to go with her friend Regan and her crew on a summer camping trip, she doesn't know Lennon will be there, and she's certainly not expecting the group to abandon the two of them in the middle of the California wilderness, forced to complete a multi day track back to civilization. It turns out, though, that an adventure in the woods might be just what they need. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought that all of the characters, including the adults, were given dimension. I loved the parental dynamic between Lennon and his moms as well as Zorie's relationship with her step mom who never considered Zorie less than her own daughter.
Lennon and Zorie are also awesome characters. Zorie has to battle her intense anxiety and relinquish control while she's stuck in…