I’ll admit that whenever I visit NYC, I wish I still lived there – at least for the first few days. It still feels like home to me. I love the energy, the ridiculous scale of everything from the buildings to the impatience and, of course, the neighborhoods oozing good food and (in the case of Brooklyn) an abundance of shifty children’s book types like me.
That yearning never really lasts, though.
Sure, I live in the MidAtlantic where at least one of my children says y’all (the equivalent of you’s, I suppose) and where an inch of snow can paralyze us for days. I live in a place with a racial past that is still heartbreaking and deeply troubling, and where my politics can get me into trouble during polite conversations (cause that’s how we have them down here…who knew?)
But central Virginia is a beautiful landscape that has turned out to be an encouraging place to make a life as a children’s book author. It boils down to a feeling of community. I share the state with lots of notables from the children’s lit world: Harper Lee, Katherine Patterson, David Baldacci, Kathryn Erskine – and the list goes on with a rich layer of peer authors whom I admire, not to mention librarians and indi booksellers who hand sell our stuff and ask us how our kids are. A lot of us know each other well, and more often than not, we serve as a mutual cheering squad/psychotherapist as we go about the tough work of understanding ourselves, our art, and the world of publishing. When I think of doing this career somewhere else, I feel lost.
All of which to say, it’s great to be a Virginia author. Here are two places where you can meet me (and other amazing VA authors) this month.
This week (March 7 – 8) I’m chipping the ice off my tires and heading up to Northern Virginia for the NOVA Teen Book Festival. Falls Church High School on Friday, followed by a full Saturday at Washington Lee High School serving as moderator and panelist.My noontime breakout session is called “Bad Reputation.” (Ha!) Here’s the author list.
March 20 – 24 is also time for the Virginia Festival of the Book, the annual literary takeover of Charlottesville(home of the Hoos!) where you can roam around mostly for free and soak up book talks of every kind. I go every year, either as a guest or an author, to catch up with my kids (who go to school in the area) and with friends who come from parts near and far. Thursday 3/20, you’ll find me at Jackson Via Elementary School. I’ll join K.P. Madonia (Fingerprints of You) and Andrew Auseon (Freak Magnet) for a panel called YA Books Adults Love Too on Saturday, 3/22 at 4PM. Check out all the youth offerings, though. Nice selection.
Looking ahead, stay tuned for Virginia kid lit events, all in October, our prettiest time of all:
- The inaugural Virginia Children’s Book Festival to be held at Longwood University. (Farmville, VA)
- Teen 14: A Celebration of Virginia MG and YA authors with books being published in 2014 (part of the Library of Virginia’s Literary Festival in Richmond)
- A new Writer’s Conference for teens at the Richmond Public Library
- As always the James River Writers Conference (with selected YA/children’s sessions) and the SCBWI-MidAtlantic Conference (Dulles)