The wonderful Hwa Sun from The Shangri La of Books went to the Words of Wonder signing at Third Place Books (Seattle area) and has offered to share her experience!
You can either A) Watch it or B) Read it.
The one I went to was in Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park, WA). It was so awesome :)
The authors there were: Marissa Burt (Storybound), J. Anderson Coats (The Wicked and the Just), Jenny Lundquist (Seeing Cinderella), Anne Nesbet (The Cabinet of Earths).
I haven't been to many author events, so I was both really nervous and excited to go to this one. All the authors were really nice and funny.
I was a bit late, so I missed the beginning. When I came in, they were doing the reading. Someone would say a random number and each author would read a short excerpt from that page.
Afterwards, those of us who came late entered our name into a basket along with everyone else's for a drawing at the end.
Next was Q&A time! (These aren't word for word! And the video is funnier, but also a lot longer!)
1. Where did you get your inspiration from?
Jenny: In 7th grade, I had a really embarrassing moment. I was eating lunch with my friends when the popular, cute boy started walking towards me, and I thought, "This is it. This is the moment he finally realizes how awesome I am." So I stood there and smiled at him, and he stood there and smiled at me, then he licked his fingers and wiped them across my glasses. Yeah, he didn't realize my awesomeness.
Years later, I told someone that story and told them that my glasses had magic powers that repelled boys. The writer in me was mesmerized by the idea of magic glasses.
J: I was the kind of geeky teen that liked to do research, and one of my big curiosities was why Wales didn't rebel to English rule like Ireland and Scotland. Eventually, I learned that that wasn't quite true. I found the information really interesting and I wanted to explore it.
Marissa: I love to read, and my favorite kinds of books are the ones that make you wish it would continue, and I thought, "What would it be like if the characters in books continued their lives and a reader fell into their world?" The story built up from there.
Anne: I was supposed to write a book in film and architecture, and I got to live in Paris for a year to write that book There was a building that I often passed a door that had an actual salamander shaped doorknob. It helped me realize that I really wanted to write a book for kids.
Secondly, the place I lived in had a cabinet full of sand, and I asked the land lady what they were. She told me that there had been a time in her life where she had been really depressed. She started visiting different deserts because she felt spiritually renewed in them, and from each desert she visited, she brought back a bottle of sand. That's part of what inspired me to write The Cabinet of Earths. And I still haven't written that book about film and architecture.
2. Do you have a tip for young writers? (My question!)
J: Don't be afraid to write crap. First drafts are always bad. The first draft is about getting it on the page. Keep improving your writing by writing more and listening to criticism, but first drafts are more about producing words.
Marissa: Don't just wait for inspiration, and enjoy the process of writing.
Jenny: Keep a journal. You have plenty of time. It'll be useful to record your experiences in life. I wish I had kept a journal.
Anne: Read a lot. Dream a lot. Go on long walks in nice places. Don't give up.
3. How long did it take you to get published?
Anne: I started writing my novel in 2007.
Jenny: I started in early 2008.
J: I started mine in 2007.
Marissa: I started mine in 2007 as well.
4. Do you outline your books before writing it?
Jenny: I had no clue where I was going with the book when I started it. That's why it took me so long. I just knew that she was shy and she got a pair of magic glasses. But once you get an agent or an editor involved, then they usually want to see an outline
J: The best advice when I first started was, "Learn to write this book." For every book, there is a method that works best.
Anne: I have a little notebook where I jot down my ideas when they come. There's little ideas, pictures, maps, pictures my kids drew in. Then I take those ideas and start outlining things. I prefer to outline ahead of time because it helps when you're busy because you know what's going to happen, and you don't have to sit there for a long time thinking about it.
Marissa: I did a mix of things. When writing fantasy, you have to focus a lot more on the world building rather than the outline. I did a lot of things like trying to figure out how the magic worked, interviewing characters, finding picture that reminded me of it, drawing maps.
As for the actual writing part of it, I thought of scenes that I liked and tried to figure out how they all went together. It resulted in lots of revisions for me, because it wasn't planned very well, but it was a fun process.
5. Can you share any really good reaction you've received for your books?
Marissa: I like the ones kid readers the best since that's the age range that I wrote it for. My favorites are when they say something like, "Oh, I really want to know what happens next!" But, really, hearing from any reader is pretty awesome since that means that they read your book.
J: I was doing a school visit with some of my writer friends, and afterwards, the book club came to talk with us. Among them was this really big football guy, and he was saying all these great compliments about my book along with the rest of them. He was all breaking all the stereotype rules, and it was awesome.
Jenny: I had a girl email me saying that she really enjoyed my book, and she wanted my help and blessing writing another story about a different character who got a pair of magic glasses. The really amazing thing for me was that she loved the book so much, she could imagine it continuing on.
Anne: I received a lot of thoughtful comments from kids saying that the book made them think about stuff like the relationship between magic and science, whether immortality was worth it, what they would (or wouldn't) do to achieve it. It was touching. It's really cool getting into conversations about these topics and meeting people whom I would have never met otherwise.
Another really funny reaction I got was from my family. My kids asked me whether I was still going to take to Paris in two years because they would be reliving my book.
6. Are any of your family members surprised about where you went with the book, or what you wrote about?
Jenny: (Her husband was there.) I think that one of the biggest compliments is having my husband like my book.
Marissa: None of my family members read my book until its final stages. I was really nervous about that.
J: (Her husband was there, too.) My husband has always been really supportive. The funniest reaction I got was from my parents. They knew that I was a writer, but they were... My mother asked me, "Why can't you ever write nice books with happy endings?" And I was like, "You raised me. Do you really have to ask that question?" I think they were hoping that I had written a happy story.
Anne: My family is full of very opinionated people, and they give me orders. Like, "Now you have to write a book about East Germany and the Berlin Wall." Then, whenever I show them what I'm working on, their faces fall saying something like, "But... this isn't Berlin."
7. What is the first thing you ever got published?
Marissa: The first "book" I wrote was for chemistry class. It has never been published, nor will it ever be So, Storybound is the first thing I ever had published.
J: The first thing that I had ever gotten published was in the newspaper, and it almost got my father arrested. It was fiction, but some people didn't think so.
I wrote my first novel at 13. It's awful. I wrote 6 more before I graduated high school, and they got a little bit better each time. None of them were ever published.
Jenny: The first thing I ever had published was for an essay contest when I was ten. It appeared in the school newsletter and it felt fantastic. That was when I first realized how much I liked to write. I put off writing for around 20 years, until I finally decided to get back to it.
Anne: The first book I ever wrote was in 6th grade and it was titled Liz in Art Land. I was really into it, but then I had a fight with one of my friends, and she wore the first 35 pages of it in her rain boots for a whole day. Next, I wrote a book about a spy in Nepal which was very unrealistic and not based on any research. After, I wrote Oz books because I had to take Latin in summer school, and I found it very boring, so I wrote in that time instead. The first thing I actually ever got published was a poem in college in a poetry magazine. I was very thrilled.
8. Are there any events in your books that are based off things that happened to you in real life?
Anne: There's lots of things, but they aren't written exactly how they happened. It's kind of like when light goes through a pros,. It's a rainbow version of my life.
Marissa: Certain memories might trigger something, but I don't have exact things based off my life.
J: I have used powerful memories to express the feelings that I felt at that time. And that helps make the scene really real because it's slightly based off of a real event that you can connect with.
Jenny: I don't have many direct events that come from my life, but there are some things. Like, I was really shy when I was in middle school and that was a really tough time for me, just like it is for the main character. I used those emotions and channeled it into the things that happen to my main character.
9. Which comes first? The editor or the publisher?
Anne: Usually, the editor is part of the publishing company. One the best things about being a writer is having an editor because they look so carefully into your writing. But before the editor looks at it, often there's someone else who helps to improve it (like a family member). It takes a village to write a book.
Marissa: Typically, once you finish your manuscript, you query an agent, and hopefully someone chooses to represent you. Once that happens your agent is like the go between to potential publishing houses. So there are lots of people involved.
Jenny: I agree with them. I don't know what I would have done without an agent or an editor. My agent handles all the business side of writing, while my editor handles the creative side of writing with me. They do all the dirty work.
10. What are you working on right now?
Marissa: I'm in the last editing phase for Story's End, and I'm also working on something completely different.
J: I'm not working on a sequel right now, and there are no plans for one yet, and instead I'm working on a book about girl con artist set in the 12th century.
Jenny: I have a middle grade book coming out in 2013 called Plastic Polly.
Anne: I have a sequel coming out in 2013 called Box of Gargoyles. Things get even stranger and weirder. Gargoyles start flying around. And I'm working on a new project, too.
11. Who was your favorite character to write? (My question!)
Marissa: I like writing the baddies.
Anne: The main character in my book isn't actually the seed of the story, it's actually someone named Cousin Louis (spelling?) and I enjoyed writing her a lot. I loved writing Maya, too.
Jenny: I liked Callie, the main character because I liked developing a strong voice for her.
J: I had two characters and I liked having to try to keep those two character's voices separate.
12. Do all of you write full time now, or are you choosing to keep a day job?
J: I'm not choosing to. I have a day job. I'm hoping to transition to a full time writer one day.
Jenny: I'm a stay at home mom. When my kids are in school, I treat it as my office hours.
Anne: I teach silent film history.
Marissa: I try to treat writing as my part time job, too, but since I have a lot of young kids, I spend most of my time parenting.
Then, they drew a name for the drawing, and... I GOT PICKED!!! So awesome :)
After that was the book signing. I could only afford two of the four books, though (Seeing Cinderella and The Wicked and the Just)... Also, it was J. Anderson Coats' birthday! There were cupcakes, but I forgot to grab one...
Last, but definitely not least, I took a group picture with all four authors!
Head over to her blog to check out the pictures and she has a giveaway up as well!
Thanks so much for sharing Hwa Sun!