Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

March #ARCParty

March #ARCParty// It's time for another #ARCParty, where The Teen, The Bestie and I share some of the latest ARCs we have received and I get a first hand look at what a couple of teens are thinking.

  1. A book series for Doctor Who/Sherlock fans. Book 3 coming 8/23/16 from @AlgonquinBooks https://t.co/oMx49CW6oY

    A book series for Doctor Who/Sherlock fans. Book 3 coming 8/23/16 from @AlgonquinBooks pic.twitter.com/oMx49CW6oY

  2. TWO SUMMERS: parallel worlds, love, self discovery, family secrets "this sounds good" #arcparty https://t.co/aUhiM5VTRI

    TWO SUMMERS: parallel worlds, love, self discovery, family secrets “this sounds good” #arcparty pic.twitter.com/aUhiM5VTRI

  3. Hurricane Sandy, a teen on her own during the storm after the power goes out #ARCParty https://t.co/kD3OC3bm7S

    Hurricane Sandy, a teen on her own during the storm after the power goes out #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/kD3OC3bm7S

  4. GIRL ABOUT TOWN: Hollywood It Girl, historical, new lovers set up for murder (1930s) #ARCParty https://t.co/osOxRVLtTg

    GIRL ABOUT TOWN: Hollywood It Girl, historical, new lovers set up for murder (1930s) #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/osOxRVLtTg

  5. The Teen: "OMG it's a new Morgan Matson!" That says everything really. A fave author. #ARCParty https://t.co/iVn1m4WxvL

    The Teen: “OMG it’s a new Morgan Matson!”
    That says everything really. A fave author. #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/iVn1m4WxvL

  6. Historical fantasy, multicultural, and blurbs from Doctorow, R L Stine & Jonathan Maberry #ARCparty https://t.co/UcaDfxARla

    Historical fantasy, multicultural, and blurbs from Doctorow, R L Stine & Jonathan Maberry #ARCparty pic.twitter.com/UcaDfxARla

  7. A college investigates charges of rape after a house party #SVYALit #ARCParty Very culturally relevant https://t.co/RHYQlnxr0N

    A college investigates charges of rape after a house party #SVYALit #ARCParty Very culturally relevant pic.twitter.com/RHYQlnxr0N

  8. If you aren't already reading Kelly Barnhill, you should fix that. Fantasy. #ARCParty https://t.co/683xu5C8Kg

    If you aren’t already reading Kelly Barnhill, you should fix that. Fantasy. #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/683xu5C8Kg

  9. Not an ARC, but I got this in #bookmail "a girl who can't remember, a boy who can't forget her" #love #romance https://t.co/8Sq32En2Jq

    Not an ARC, but I got this in #bookmail “a girl who can’t remember, a boy who can’t forget her” #love #romance pic.twitter.com/8Sq32En2Jq


Penguin Teen on Tour, DFW Stop

Penguin Teen on Tour, DFW Stop//

On Tuesday, The Teen and I were able to catch the Penguin Teen on Tour stop at the Dallas Half-Price Books store. Authors on this stop included Alison Goodman (THE DARK DAYS CLUB), Sabaa Tahir (AN EMBER IN THE ASHES), Rachel Hawkins (The Rebel Belle series), April Genevieve Tucholke ( WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT) and Alwyn Hamilton (REBEL OF THE SANDS). I tried to tweet as many of the profound things these ladies were saying, and those tweets are shared below. I certainly didn’t catch everything, and there are some typos, but it was a really fun and fascinating discussion of everything from strong women in YA to the most troubling things these authors have researched. Let’s just say there was lots of talk about death and dying.

  1. Rachel Hawkins: Rebel Belle began with a little crazy and lazy, my two favorite azies #PenguinTeenOnTour

  2. Rachel Hawkins: Set out to make Rebel Belle different from Hex Hall by making the characters polar opposite #PenguinTeenOnTour

  3. AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is about character & how world they live in forms who they are says Tahir #PenguinTeenOnTour https://t.co/ER0dt4Blw5

    AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is about character & how world they live in forms who they are says Tahir #PenguinTeenOnTour pic.twitter.com/ER0dt4Blw5

  4. THE DARK DAYS CLUB was inspired by the idea of Jane Austen meets Buffy says Alison Goodman #PenguinTeenOnTour https://t.co/YrKEGUfyhS

    THE DARK DAYS CLUB was inspired by the idea of Jane Austen meets Buffy says Alison Goodman #PenguinTeenOnTour pic.twitter.com/YrKEGUfyhS

  5. Goodman researched regency for 8 months and even had a full outfit made & learned to dance #PenguinTeenOnTour

  6. Tahir: Woman are just strong, it's part of being a woman. #PenguinTeenOnTour

  7. Tahir: I wanted to create a character who has a core inner strength but doesn't know it yet because that's how a lot of us are

  8. Hawkins: Harper gets super strength but still remains more traditionally feminine. That's important to me. #PenguinTeenOnTour

  9. Goodman: I wanted to examine society's courtesies and see which ones are designed to hold you down #PenguinTeenOnTour

  10. Alison Goodman just told us how a lady went potty in regency times. So thankful for modern day toilets!

  11. Rachel Hawkins: I would be so happy in the shire eating breakfast and hanging out in the house - I want to be a hobbit #PenguinTeenOnTour

  12. Sanaa Tahir: I really want to turn into a talking dragon, it's my deepest, darkest fantasy #PenguinTeenOnTour

  13. Sanaa Tahir: I make my husband act out fight scenes with me #PenguinTeenOnTour

  14. Tahir: I wrote to make sense of my world and to put myself in it #PenguinTeenOnTour

  15. April: I realized I like playing god (on why she is a writer) #PenguinTeenOnTour

  16. Goodman: never have a passive character, your character must act. Don't just have things happening to them. #PenguinTeenOnTour


Why I Write YA, a guest post by author Amanda Havard

Before the release of the second book in my debut series, The Survivors: Point of Origin, when asked if I’d always wanted to write YA, I would say this in an interview:

“I knew I wanted to write YA because I’ve always been drawn to the forming of a person. Formative experiences are usually the most interesting ones. Why do you think people talk about them in therapy? They’re what make us who we are.”

That might not be the most lighthearted way to look at things, but if you’ve ever read any words I’ve strung together, this can’t possibly be surprising. My view on life is not as bleak as that statement might seem, but instead, it paints a sort of realism we don’t often think about.

Life is a funny thing. We’re given chances to form ourselves into selves when we’re too young to know what the hell we’re doing. Only, somehow, we’re simultaneously held back and governed by rules, restrictions, and an ever-lengthening definition of the concept of “adolescence.” We generally become some version of our eventual selves when we are so young it embarrasses us. And though we grow — hopefully we never stop growing — I’m not one to believe we quickly or readily abandon the original parts of ourselves that formed in adolescence, at least not until we have really good reason to. Or until someone, something forces us.

That’s why the Survivors-world protagonist, Sadie Matthau, is a 144-year-old adolescent when you meet her. It’s not just that she looks the part (in the aforementioned broader definition of the word; she appears about 20), but she acts it. She lives naïve to experiences to which she hasn’t ventured simply out of fear. She makes questionable decisions not because she’s too stupid to know the consequences, but because of a weirdly mixed concoction of invincibility and total dejection. She has freedom, but her family limits her in some ways (more in her mind than in actuality, which is so often the case). She hurts people out of an unfortunate blend of selfishness and denial. And she is always searching to become a version of herself she can love, a self with whom she can find peace.

Three books in, and I’d be lying if I said she’d found it.

A weirdly large proportion of my dedicated fan base pretty much hates her. (And by “pretty much” I generally mean “really, really.”) They can’t stand the denial and the hurt and the flip-flopping and self-pity. They can’t stand how much she hates a life they perceive isn’t so bad. They want to shake her. They’ve lost patience with her. They want her to be more than she is.

They want her to grow up. Into a good person.

Guess what I want for every young adult (however you’re defining that term)? For him or her to grow up. Into a good person.

This is at once more difficult and easier than it seems. The ‘young’ factor allows for a multitude of mistakes, but the ‘adult’ factor calls for real-world consequences. In fact, in an age where simple mistakes and youthful foolishness haunt you for a veritable eternity (thank you, Google, Facebook, YouTube, and your contemporaries), we are all simultaneously young enough to be stupid and unformed — or brilliant and unformed, or foolish and unformed, or generally perfect and yet, still, unformed — and adult enough to be held accountable. That’s Sadie at 144. In some weird ways, that’s me at 27. Maybe that’s you at 16. Or 34. Or 144.

I write and love young adult because in the era before the mold hardens and the plaster sets, we can become anything. Our hardness can harden, and we crack. Our smooth surface can bubble and we at once have personality, distinction. Our artful lines can crumble into something more beautiful. Our whole selves can fall apart. I write and love young adult fiction because we have all been there, and in some ways, we will always be there. We will be embarrassed by our dark periods or awkward phases (and I know a thing or two about awkward phases, mine having lasted from about 7 to 24), but proud of our innate qualities we know have been there all along. And we all know the universal truth: we all f*ck up. We all do things we might regret. But we are all offered a chance at growth, at salvation, at redemption, if only we will take it.

And isn’t that always a story worth reading?

You can see Amanda Havard at the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie, Texas on Sunday, November 17th at 3:30 PM.

About Amanda Havard:
Amanda Havard is the creator of the patent-pending  Immersedition™ experience. Havard has advanced degrees in Early Childhood Education and Child Development, as well as in Cognitive Development as it pertains to Curriculum & Instruction from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University and was appointed a fellowship to Peabody Research Institute. The author of the supernatural young adult series, The Survivors, a transmedia franchise — including the pilot full-length novel Immersedition — with an online following of over 4.5 million readers, Havard has been profiled in a diverse array of publications (Wired, American Cheerleader Magazine, Ypulse) and recently wrote an article on the tangible learning benefits of immersive storytelling and future literacy for the National Council of Teachers of English’s (NCTE) ALAN Review.  

Amanda online and on Twitter

Thursday Throw Down: Teen Read Week Genres

So, this week on TLT we’re talking about Teen Read Week and different genres…  and we want to know WHICH genre is your favorite and why?

Is it….

PARANORMAL ROMANCE that gets your heart aflutter?


VAMPIRES that you can sink your teeth into?


ALIENS that send you into orbit?


BIOENGINEERING that tweaks your genes?

Share your favorite genre (and if you want your favorite title) in the comments below!

Book Review: Tilt by Ellen Hopkins

Should the sun beat
summer too fiercely
through your afternoon
window, you can
the blinds to temper
heat and scatter light,
sifting shadows this way
and that with a
of slats.  And if candor
strikes too forecully,
step back, draw careful
breath and consider the
your words must take
before you open
your mouth, let them leak
out.  Because once you
                                                                               tilt the truth,
it becomes a lie.

Tilt is called a companion book to Ellen Hopkins’ 2011 adult book, Triangles, but it can really stand alone, and unless your teens are die-hard Hopkins’ fans, I don’t know that they would want to read Triangles.  However, Tilt will definitely be on their list, and in true Hopkins style it does not pull punches.  Tilt is gritty and hard hitting, dealing with issues that I know no adult wants to think teens deal with and teens know either someone or they themselves are dealing with all to well.

Like all of Ellen Hopkins’ books, this one is told in verse, and after tearing through the book, I went through again and looked at the way the poems were set.  Often times there are double and triple meanings that are within the text, depending on placements or alignment of words.  They would be an excellent lead-in for visual poetry-programs.
I would completely recommended it for any library; however, it is definitely graphic with some of the scenes, so if you know that your community is one that is more conservative, keep reviews on hand.  I would put it right up there with Hopkins’ 2009 book Tricks in the details.
I will now give you space to let you know that below here, there are SPOILERS in case you don’t want details.
Ready?  Then hold on.
 Tilt tells the story of three teens interconnected by family relationships:
  • Mikayla, almost 18, completely in that soul devouring love with her boyfriend, who is seemingly as in love with her- until she turns up pregnant.  Mikayla has to figure out what to do about the baby, her family, her boyfriend, and her life, without loosing herself in the process.
  • Shane, who is turning 16, falls for his first boyfriend, Alex, who confesses that he is HIV positive.  Having lived with his sister’s chronic and ultimately fatal illness, Shane has to figure out whether to accept Alex knowing that their love will be shortened, as well as the death of his sister midway through the book, which brings his facade of well-being crashing down.
  • Harley is 14, an innocent good girl looking for love, and finding it unrequited in older boys.  She changes her appearance to find that love, then starts moving unawares towards self-destructive and dangerous extremes in order to get that love, from drinking and drugs to sexting and date rape.
Told you, a lot to deal with, and there are NO punches pulled.  However, that is what makes Hopkins’ writing so real to teens, and so relatable- they know that she lives these characters, and it’s like these teens could be someone that they know.  They’re gripping, and you want everything to be OK, and you cringe and your heart breaks with them when it’s not.  And that’s everything that a wonderful book should be.
And, just for you, we have a GIVEAWAY!!!  Share in the comments below your favorite Ellen Hopkins book and WHY, along with your email address, and you could win a copy of Tilt!  You have until Sunday, October 14th to leave a comment and be entered to win.  This giveaway is open to U.S. residents.

Body Image and Every Day by David Levithan, a discussion by Christie Gibrich

Recently, I had one of those moments where I am talking about a book that I really loved and the person I am talking to, in this case fellow blogger Christie Gibrich, says “yes, but . . .”  So I asked her to write about her “Yes, But” because it is an issue that I myself even referenced last week in my review of Butter by Erin Jade Lange.  I’ll let her tell you all about it.
A little background: Every Day is the story of a person known only as A who wakes up every day in a different body.  For 24 hours A lives the life of this person.
My co-blogger, Karen, wrote a review of Every Day by David Levithan in June (find it here).  I fully admit that I am a rabid fan of David Levithan- I had the pleasure of meeting him at a conference after his Boy Meets Boy came out, and I went into full fangirl worship mode and we talked for a good thirty minutes about his work and how much I loved it, and how much my teens loved that he was writing such realistic characters for teens- and for GLBT teens.  So when I got ahold of an e-ARC of Every Day, I stayed up through the night to read it.  And I was loving it.

Until I hit Day 6025.

Day 6025 is approximately 7/8ths of the way through the book.  “A” has already been a variety of teens:  twin linebackers, girls, gays, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc., and has handled those with a grace and understanding that others have pointed out could be more than a teen voice.  Then he becomes Finn, and that understanding goes out the window.  Finn is an obese teen, by Levithan’s own description “at least 300 pounds” wearing “an XXXL buttondown and some size 46 jeans” and when “A” wakes up in Finn’s body, the prejudice and loathing for his host starts from the moment he opens his eyes, and never goes away. 

“Finn Taylor has retreated from most of the world; his size comes from negligence and laziness, a carelessness that would be pathological if it had any meticulousness to it.  While I’m sure if I access deep enough I will find some well of humanity, all I can see on the surface is the emotional equivalent of a burp.”

“A” never bothers to see what’s beneath- most obese teens are not like this by choice.  Unlike society’s belief that if you just walk it off or eat less, or that it’s because schools are cutting physical education, or that it’s just a choice, there’s usually deep psychological issues going on- depression, emotional abuse, suicidal impulses being turned inward.  Or medical issues that are not being treated properly, because of lack of health care or parents not being advocates for their “fat/lazy” child.  If it was as simple as just eating right, a teen could turn it around.

“The chairs are wobbly underneath me at the bookstore’s café.  I decide to walk the aisles instead, but they’re too narrow, and I keep knocking things off the shelves.”*

Really?  REALLY?!?!  We need to have an image of this teen as GODZILLA or THE THING going through a public bookstore destroying things because he’s 300 pounds?!?!?  There’s a difference between hyperbole for a point and encouraging the stereotypical mental image that society has for those who are overweight.  Unless the chairs were antique wicker chairs, or the aisles didn’t meet minimum ADA requirements, this wouldn’t happen to a person of Finn’s description, and the twin linebackers would have had similar problems.  Even then, if “A” bothered to access Finn’s memories like he did with other hosts to work in their worlds, he would have figured out how to work within his body instead of joining the chorus of disgust.

“If I were in a different body, this would be the time I would lean down and kiss her.  If I were in a different body, that kiss could transform the night from off to on.  If I were in a different body, she would see me inside.  She would see what she wanted to see.”

“A” doesn’t bother to relate to Finn.  He can’t get through the day fast enough; Rhiannon can’t be bothered to look beyond the surface to see “A” within Finn’s body.  If he was only someone else, then things would be different and he could change everything … but because he can’t be bothered to work with what he was dealt, or be bothered to work around his own personal prejudice, the date and the time with Rhiannon was a waste.  This furthermore enforces the belief that if you are overweight or obese or fat, you’re unworthy of love- because no one will ever be able to see the “real” you.

I was so let down by this chapter in Every Day.  Up to that point I was loving the book, and how “A” was flipping from character to character.  The fact that Levithan, who writes so well for teens, wrote this whole chapter, left me in compete disbelief.  I know other YA librarians/readers who are split- some didn’t catch it, while others reacted the same way I did.  It’s bad enough that we have the media shoving preconceived notions of how we’re supposed to look, how we’re supposed to act, and how we’re supposed to dress down our throats every day.  Being told that having a certain amount of body mass makes us unworthy of love is unacceptable.
Have you read Every Day – what do you think?  What ya titles do you think handle the issue of body image well?
*Editor’s note: I (Karen) recently read Skinny – which I will review soon – about another morbidly obese teenager, in this case a female, and she undergoes weight loss surgery after the chair she is sitting on stage breaks beneath her. And in Butter, reviewed last week, our main character has specially made school furniture to accomodate his size. In both of these titles, I thought the issue of weight and the emotions that go with it were handled well.

Don’t read those %&#@ YA books! A discussion of profanity in teen fiction

Trend Watch: Profanity in Teen Fiction

Lately, everyone has been a buzz about the profanity in teen novels.  It even made the news! A recent study was done and they counted the swear words and noted an increase in the use of profanity in teen books.  There have been some informative – and some amusing – blog posts about the topic (linked at the end of this post).  Apparently, the women’s lib movement is somehow to blame and all us women folk got a potty mouth when we put on our shoes and walked out of the kitchen.

I am not going to lie, I have noticed as a reader the increase in profanity in teen books and it has given me pause.  Not because I personally care, but because I stop for a moment and think to myself yep, a parent is going to complain about this.  So far they haven’t, but with all the press it increases the likelihood.

I am a huge believer in Intellectual Freedom.  I believe that authors have the right to tell their stories the way they feel they need to be told; it is their character and they have a right to give them the voice that feels authentic to them.  That doesn’t mean I have to like it, it means that I have to make it available and allow my patrons to make decisions for themselves.

As a parent, I can’t help but notice that faux-swearing has even invaded my tween television time.  The cast of iCarly spend a lot of time saying “shiz” or “chiz” or however they might spell it.  So here’s what I do as a parent: I either decide I am okay with it, I talk to my child about it, or I ban the show in my home.  Or some combination of the above.  I think whether you continue to watch the show or not, you have to have the conversation about what you view to be acceptable as language in your home.  If I took a moment, I could really evaluate every show we watch and tell you something that I find objectionable: Sam is mean to Freddy, Alex is a disrespectful slacker in Wizards (now over), Squidward is mean . . . I could go on, but you get the point.  This is where parenting is an active process: I watch TV with my children and we talk about it.  I read books with my children and we talk about it.  Sometimes topics come up that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to talk about otherwise, I wouldn’t think to.  That is part of the value of reading.

For example, my tween and I have had a lot of discussions about the way that Sam acts on iCarly, specifically how she acts towards Freddy.  You see, she hits him a lot and it is played for laughs – except I can’t help but feel that if the situation were reversed, if he were hitting her, there would be a huge outcry.  To me, it is not okay.  Any type of abuse between two people is never okay and I don’t appreciate the implication that it is a source of humor and I worry that it may send the wrong message to young viewers.  But again, I talk to my tween about it.  That’s my job as a parent.

So back to swearing.  As I read these various teen books, the question I always ask my self is this: is it organic to the story, to the character?  You see, books have to be about SOMETHING, and they are often about teen characters struggling with real life issues and whether we like it or not, teens cuss.  A lot in fact.  And sometimes, when you are hurting or angry, profanity is a good way to express the high emotions that teens feel because those words have known power and meaning.  Hurting people call the people who hurt them a bitch precisely because it has the known cutting power that they need in that moment.  When it comes to stroytelling, characters have to choose the words they need to convey their emotion in context of their setting and culture.  We don’t have to like it, but profanity is part of contemporary culture.  In fact, I think the F word is one of the few remaining words you still can’t hear on prime time television.

I was personally amazed when watching a special on Whitney Houston on Lifetime television and they kept showing an ad for an upcoming movie on Drew Peterson. Right there in the ad Rob Lowe said, “I’m unstoppable bitch.”  In an ad.  I understood why they had chosen that clip, it packed a wollop and conveyed their message in the 30 seconds that they had to do it.  Like I said, if our tv characters aren’t actually swearing, they are fauxswearing.  Is there really any difference?  The intent is definitely the same.

If we want teens to read, they have to have access to books that speak to them.  We can pretend that teens don’t cuss and present them with squeaky clean fiction – but they will immediately cast it aside because it’s not real to them.  This is especially true for those teens growing up in homes that we can’t imagine or in the inner cities. And of course the truth is that however we may feel about certain words, not all parents feel the same.  To be honest, I grew up in a home where my parents didn’t care about cussing as long as I didn’t direct it at them.  If I should make the mistake of cussing out my mom, well, the soap was coming out.  Otherwise, they were just words.

I think if we want teens to read, we have to respect the diversity of lifestyles that exist out there.  They are not all growing up in cookie cutter homes.  Just like the rest of the population, there is a tremendous diversity in how they live and love and think and feel and, yes, speak.  Our collections must reflect this diversity.  We must also remember that part of the value in reading is in helping the teens understand lives outside their own and develop empathy; thus, teens step into the shoes of main characters different from them and experience what it is like to grow up in homes and communities different than their own.

I understand the parental desire to protect your children, I also understand the value of engaging with your teen and helping them to see and understand that the world is a complex place full of a wide variety of people having a wide variety of experiences – some that we couldn’t even imagine.  As we talk to our teens about this, they develop the tools they need to live and thrive in a world that isn’t black and white but full of complex shades of gray.  I think, too, we have to respect our teens and recognize that if a book doesn’t feel right to them, they will stop reading it.  When we respect our teens and value them by providing thoughtful, well rounded collections, we all win.

It’s also important to remember that when we are talking about teens, we are talking about a huge age group: anywhere from around 12 up through 18 years of age.  So when I am working with teens or parents, I always tell them to look at the books before they check them out and note the age of the characters; middle school characters are going to talk the way middle school students do and deal with middle school issues and high school characters are going to talk the way high school characters do and deal with high school issues for the most part.

So what do you think, is there too much profanity in teen fiction?

Research: more swearing in teen novels than video games
Spark Life: Is there too much swearing in teen fiction?
What teens may be learning from swearing in teen fiction
Daily Kos: Rich, beautifyl and popular, fould mouthed characters in teen books have it all
Cursing: Not just for sailors anymore

TLA Baby!

Tuesday night I left work and drove 4 1/2 hours to make my pilgrimage to TLA.  TLA baby, here I came! It was a truly amazing day where I met a ton of amazing teen authors, talked to publishers and yes, I received some ARCs (which will get their own post).

Although the exhibit halls were amazing, and I’ll get back to them, the fun truly began at the Texas Teen Author Tea.  Here we were invited to speed date with a wide variety of amazing teen authors.  There were 60 authors in total present, but I didn’t get to date them all.  The even was introduced by Andrea White, author of the fabulous Surviving Antarctica, which I have loved for a long time and being a new Texas transplant I had no idea she was a Texas author.  Ms. White, it was announced, gave some money to YART, the Young Adult Round Table, and they were starting some cool online resources including something called SPOT, the Spirit of Texas Reading Program.  My favorite was when she said that our goal – authors, librarians – was to help teens learn that “books are relationships”, a book is more than just two covers with pages in between.  Well said.

Then the speed dating began!

First I dated Morgan Matson, author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and the upcoming Second Chance Summer, and Jessi Kirby, author of Moonglass and the upcoming In Honor.  Both of these ladies were incredibly nice and I was lucky to later get signed copies of books by both.  Second Chance Summer and In Honor are both contemporary titles and I am so excited to read them.  As much as I love paranormal and dystopian – and you know I do! – it is always great to have those contemporary titles that help teens see the real world they live in just a little different, to open their hearts and minds and just be.

I had just tweeted that I hoped I got to meet David Lubar and bam – he sat down right next to me.  David is funny, not surpringly.  I also got the opportunity to tell him how much I appreciated authors like him who participated in the Yalsa-bk listserv discussions (Alex Flinn and Jonathan Maberry post frequently as well).  And then he mentioned the possibility of Zombie Weenies! I know he would also want me to mention the Weenies Topical and Literary Index, where he painstakingly indexed his weenies stories.  With David Lubar I met Christina Mandelski, the author of The Sweetest Thing.  My favorite part was when she told us that she took cake decorating classes to help her write this book and admitted to being obsessed with The Food Network.

I then got to meet Mary Lindsey, whose book Shattered Souls may have the most fabulous book cover ever.  She did a great job of selling her book and talked about the book cover process and it was very cool.  I ran into her again later and we chatted some more.  She shared that she was in the process of writing a very cool sounding Poe inspired book that I honestly can not wait to read.  With Mary came Greg Leitich Smith, author of Chronal Engine and yes, husband to Cynthia Lietich Smith.  He came bearing dinosaur tattoos and as far as I am concerned, there can no be enough dinosaur books.

I also met (cue squeeing) Megan Miranda, author of the breathtaking Fracture and learned that she has a background in science that helped influence the book.  Stasia Kehoe talked about her book, Audition, and how it really delves into the question of identity and talent and passion.  Also, audition has ballet and dance is really popular right now.  Here is my true confessions moment: I always wanted to be a ballerina, I own a copy of Center Stage and watch it often, and I watch Dance Academy on Teen Nick – purely for professional reasons, of course).  Then P. J. Hoover talks about her undying love of mythology and how it plays into her book series which begins with book 1, The Emerald Tablet.  Fans of the Percy Jackson series will love these.

After being sad for a few moment about the authors I didn’t get to speed date, which for me included Orson Scott Card, I returned to the exhibit halls where I had to buy a new copy of Shiver so I could have it signed by Maggie Steifvater.  Being a huge Shiver fan, this was quite the moment for me and Maggie was incredibly nice and gracious to everyone who stood in that line.

Then – bam – the moment truly had a moment of synergy as just that moment John Corey Whaley had written his Why YA? post about Love is the Higher Law and who should I meet?  Why yes, David Levithan himself.  He is, of course, one half of the brilliant writing partnership behind the truly marvelous Will Grayson, Will Grayson.  And it turns out, he is a book editor.  He is, in fact, the editor of The List by Shiobhan Vivian.  I have been dying to read this book so yes, yes I did buy it and get it signed.  I also got a picture of the wonder team.

Then, the most amazing thing happened! I met Barry Lyga.  That’s right folks, THAT Barry Lyga.  Author of the fabulous, and fabulously creepy, I Hunt Killers.  He himself is not creepy, just the book.  But fabulously so.  Barry himself was very personable.

I also met and talked to a look author named Beth Fehlbaum.  Her book, Hope in Patience, is a 2011 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.  Hope in Patience is about one young girls journey of recovery from abuse.  Fans of the Dave Pelzer books will want to read these.

I learned at the Harper Collins booth that Robison Wells was going to be at TLA today, a truly devastating realization for me as I left last night.  Thursday, in fact, is teen day and they are having a ton of great authors, groups of teens, lots of great ARCs and a huge Divergent/Insurgent moment.  I ran into a bunch of great librarians, authors and book bloggers and I am sure there will be lots of great posts in the next few days about it all.  I love conferences because they are this moment when all of us – authors, publishers, librarians – come together and rejuvenate.  We are all working towards the same goal: to get books into the hands of teens.  It’s nice to get together in person and share our stories of success, those moments when we learn how a book made the difference in someone’s life.