Saturday, July 14, 2007

My New BFFs

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The BYU Symposium for Young Readers was incredible! Every single speaker was amazing: Ann Cannon, Stephen T. Johnson, Suzanne Fisher Staples, and Gary Paulsen (And of course me. I frequently amaze myself.)

The conference planners had been trying for 20 years to get Gary Paulsen (Hatchet, Brian's Winter, Snow Dogs, and like 197 other books) to come and speak. I think he was worth the wait. He told the funniest stories about his dog team. Now I want to go on the iditarod. Well, except for that according to Gary they don't have porta-potties along the race route. And yes, I asked him, and yes he gave me an incredulous stare. But really, women have to think about these things.

My first meeting with Gary was at the book signing. Before they let the crowd in I waved hello at him and he came over to introduce himself. I told him that my kids had enjoyed Hatchet, but that my son had been disappointed that Brian never got to kill anyone with the hatchet. My oldest son really only likes books where someone is stabbed or eaten by a dragon.

Gary laughed and told me maybe he'd put that in the next book. (So see, I am doing my best to improve the quality of literature everywhere.)

It was a lot of fun to meet so many teachers, librarians, and people who loved writing and reading. I met people from Utah, Wyoming and Arizona. I think my favorite thing though was hanging out with the other writers at lunch. They're all so nice, talented, and wise. Stephen and David blew me away with their artwork. Anne has been locked outside her house in her underwear--something which surprisingly I have not done yet. Suzzane has lived in all sorts of exotic places which I'd love to visit--although maybe not right now, since they are currently shooting at each other in Afghanistan. Chris Crowe, Mike Tunnell and Jim Jacobs did a fabulous job of pulling everything together.

I asked each of them to tell me what the most important thing they've learned about the business is. They told me that doing school visits is important, that I need to learn to promote myself, and not to write for awards. As Gary said, "That will kill you." He said he doesn't ever look at his awards because he doesn't want them to change his writing.

Gary also said some very colorful things about publishers, editors, lawyers, and the French. Have I mentioned that I love Gary? Really, if I could figure out a way to hitch up all my stray cats to a sleigh, I'd be there in Alaska with him in a minute.

8 comments:

Enna Isilee said...

Aw!!! Wish I could have been there. My grandma said you yourself were very funny. My mom was sad that she didn't get to talk to you, she had to leave before the signing and didn't want to bother you at dinner.

She also said that while you were talking you asked who from Pullman was here and some of our(my family's) friends shouted. Tee hee. That's funny.

Well, I shall have to be content with my(signed! schweet!) copy of All's Fair in Love, War, and High School and hope you grace Utah with your presence again.

Enna Isilee said...

Aw, I just got AFiLW&HS. Thanks so so so so much.

(Sorry for double posting. Is that taboo here too?)

Janette Rallison said...

Hi Enna Isilee,
I didn't know your mom was there--she definitely should have come up and said hi! I enjoyed talking to both of your grandparents. (Cool, cool people.)

Hope you like AFILWAH. (And feel free to post as much as you like.)

Josi said...

Dang, but that sounds like fun, Janette. What a blast to be among writers like that. So glad you had a good time.

Enna Isilee said...

I already know that I love AFILWAH (that's really fun to say aloud). I'm just starting Playing the Field! Woot!

Well you'll just have to come to Utah again and meet both of us. I don't think I could convince my mom to go down to Arizona. Though I do have a friend that lives in Chandler... Hm... ;-)

Tristi Pinkston said...

How cool! I've read two of Paulsen's recently and was really impressed, except "The Rifle" went from a fascinating history of a gun to a blatant anti-gun lecture, which was really a huge shift in the tone of the story. Awesome that you got to meet him and the other speakers.

Tamra Norton said...

Wow, Janette! How fun to schmooze with Gary Paulsen. But the question of the day is--what did you finally decide to wear? :)

Anne Bradshaw said...

Oh, I'm drooling here. I keep hoping I'll get to one of those conferences one day because I know they are wonderful from all accounts. I'd like to have met Ann Cannon, also.

Have to add how much I like the cover of your Ex-boyfriend book, Janette. What a very cool idea. That looks like a must-read.