There are still spots available for Writing for Charity on July 19.
I love people. Old and young and fat and thin and male and female and animal and simple and complicated and extremely complicated. I love 'em all. Some I would prefer not to be locked in a room with, but still... I wonder if this is a prerequisite for being a writer.
Things You Must Love In Order to Be a Writer:
This is all to say that I've returned from the ALA annual conference in Anaheim and fell in love with so many people, it doesn't seem fair that I don't get to take them all home with me and keep them in my sock drawer to pull out at will. At the top of my list, my fantastic team from our readers' theater experience: Linda Sue Park, Eric Rohmann, M.T. Anderson, and our organizer Elizabeth Poe. We had two days of rehearsals that we spent mostly just laughing. It is so invigorating to be around people who are so smart, clever, witty, interesting, gracious, and fun, people who create for a living, people who care about kids and words and books and people. Amazing.
Reader's Theater is a great tool to get kids involved in the books. We basically modeled the concept for a group of librarians. We each took selections from one of our books (I did Rapunzel's Revenge) and wrote them into a script that can be read by four performers. It was a fascinating exercise, so luscious to get inside the words and experience them in a new way.
We did A Kitten Tale by Eric, Keeping Score, by Linda Sue, and Octavian Nothing by Tobin (I got to be Octavian's mother! That was a highlight). I highly recommend this exercise to teachers and librarians.
I wish I could repeat some of the things said that had us in hysterics during our rehearsals. This is one of the problems about writing humor--conversations that are funny in real life are often not funny when repeated. So much of the humor is contained in the moment, inflection, drawing on recent happenings and past experience. But I'll try to illustrate a couple:
I was talking about the Reader's Theater experience with Linda Sue and some of her zillions of librarian friends.
I said, "I tried to play it cool, but I felt like such a fraud, acting as if I was a peer to all those fabulous writers. So I just tried to stay quiet so they wouldn't notice that I didn't belong."
Linda Sue looked confused and said, "I don't recall you being quiet."
After the performance during the Q&A, a lovely librarian I'd never met said, "Shannon Hale, I just want to say, you rock."
I was so unbelievably honored and said, "Will you be my best friend?"
Eric Rohmann said, "The sad thing is, she probably is."
Also, it's not fair that Tobin Anderson is a genius. But he's so nice, that I'll let it slide. And Linda Sue Park is as gracious as she is talented. And I'd like to personally nominate Eric Rohmann for the list of the Hot Men of Children's Literature.
I also got to walk the exhibit floor and kept running into awesome people, and cursed myself again and again for forgetting my camera. I was in a booth where a few women were trying to take a photo of themselves and I offered to do it for them, then realized I was talking to Laurie Halse Andersen.
I saw an ARC of Kelly Link's new collection for young adults, Pretty Monsters, and began to drool.
"I wonder if I can have one," I said.
Sharyn November the editor was there, and she said, "Uh, you know Kelly's right there signing."
Yes, the fabulous Kelly Link was two feet away from me at the time.
Later I ran into Kelly again while I was chatting with the Utah contingent (Mette Ivie Harrison, Rick Walton, Will Terry, Nate Hale, Kristyn Crow) and Kelly was with a friend whom she introduced as Karen Fowler. I said hello and shook her hand, and we were all conversing while I was revolving that name in my head...where did I know that from?
It took me a few minutes, then I suddenly turned to her and said, "Wait, are you Karen Joy Fowler?"
"Yes," she said.
And I about fell over and stifled a screech and turned red and did my very best not to gush. I am such a fan girl, it's really hard for me to carry off the aloof professional. Karen probably thinks I'm an idiot, but what can I do? The Jane Austen Book Club was fantastic. (Did you notice how I just casually referred to her as "Karen"?)
Tonight is the Newbery/Caldecott banquet, two years since mine, and I've been remembering how sick I was that weekend. Ugh. First trimester nausea. I ran into the lovely Natalie from my committee. Hi Natalie!
Nate and I had a great signing for Rapunzel. I know I probably say this all the time, but it is so surreal to be somewhere where people line up to have me sign something. I can't get my head around it. Or that people will recognize my name from my name tag or have read my books. It's weird. I feel like a mom and a scribbler who gets mistaken for someone famous. But I don't correct them. I try to be gracious and just accept the compliment on behalf of this Shannon Hale person, whoever she is. When she finds out what I've been doing, she's gonna be PO'd.