It wasn't a dark and stormy night. The sun shone on a big white tent next to Blue Bicycle Books. Long tables were stacked high with copies of Beautiful Creatures, School of Fear, and countless other bestselling titles. King Street was swarmed by hundreds of Young Adult readers in a mad rush to collect the signatures of their favorite authors.
This was the scene on Saturday of the second annual YALLFest, an event where authors from all over the country came together to talk with fans and each other about books, craft, and more. Every hour multiple authors spoke on panels, discussing everything from chocolate to fairy tales. Throughout the day, lines stretching halfway down the block were full of teenagers and the occasional adult aspiring to YA authordom, all of them anxiously awaiting their chance to meet the writer of their most beloved book.
The first event of the day was the keynote address featuring authors Cassandra Clare and Holly Black (who was celebrating her birthday, by the way). Later, Pseudonymous Bosch and Trenton Lee Stewart participated in a showdown, which included beards, impostors, and more.
The YA day ended with the grand finale, the YA Smackdown, a hilarious display of literary games. The authors were broken up into teams by genre (Supernatural, Mystery, Contemporary, Dystopian, and Romance) to compete in three vicious head-to-head improv games filled with laughter. The team's first task was to create a story in their genre using two props as prompts and to assist in the acting-out portion. Next, the teams had to create a story based on a title selected from others collected randomly throughout the course of the day. In this case, the tale was entitled, "Not Another F***ing Elf." In the last task, the teams were instructed to create a story based on a topic suggested by an audience member, in this case, "My Last Impression." The only catch was that the teams ultimately had to piece it all together to create one story. The final concoction started with magical frogs and ended with all the authors (except David Levithan) sprawled around the stage in fake comas. When the results were announced, the Romance genre came out on top, but only Trenton Lee Stewart claimed the Golden Pie.
All in all, it was an amazing day full of entertainment, reading, and pie. Even in the internet age, I guess no one ever truly loses their love of books.
Olive Gardner is an eighth-grade student at the University School of the Lowcountry.
The Sophia Institute’s “Writing, Creativity, and Soul” retreat is giving aspiring authors the inside scoop on the novel-writing experience, how to get published, and how the process can transform you. At the retreat, writers can engage in conversation with authors Mary Alice Monroe, Josephine Humphreys, Debra Moffitt, Stephanie Hunt, Susan Finch Stevens, Susan Meyers, and Nina Bruhns about the writing experience and creative process.
The retreat begins on Fri. Sept. 14 with the session, “The Writer’s Life: Creativity, Soul and Survival,” a discussion between Monroe, Moffitt, and Humphreys about topics like keys for motivation, sources of inspiration, maintaining a healthy mind and body, overcoming rejection, and the muse vs. the writer. Questions from the audience are welcome and a book signing will follow. There will also be an optional two-hour class about preparing book proposals and developing platforms for an additional $40.
Sat. Sept. 15 will be a day full of interesting sessions that will help to explore the writer’s creative process and soul, starting with two morning sessions, “Structure and Soul of the Novel” and “How Writing Transforms the Novelist.” In the first session, Monroe will give a helpful overview of a novel’s structure by covering the concepts of scene and sequel, building scenes to climax, and delivering a solid resolution. The second, led by Humphreys, will explore how the writing process can change and transform you in both good and bad ways.
The lunch session, complete with a catered lunch, will include a presentation from Bruhns on how to get published. The afternoon sessions will focus on genre, with options including both fiction and nonfiction sessions with all different authors. “Elements of a Good Critique” will include a read-aloud portion in which writers will have the chance to have a chapter of their work (up to 20 pages long) critiqued by Monroe and Bruhns.
A “Big Conversation” at the end of the retreat will give everyone a chance to ask any final questions before the weekend comes to a close. After wrapping things up, writers will leave the retreat with new knowledge about the novel-writing world and possession of the tools to dive deeper into their own writing.
Tuition for the full workshop is $195 and includes all classes and the catered lunch on Saturday. For more information and to register, go to thesophiainstitute.org.
Chris Dixon, author of Ghost Wave: The Discovery of Cortes Bank and the Biggest Wave on Earth, will be at the Windjammer on Sat. Aug. 25 promoting his book. Take a break from the beach at 4 p.m., when he’ll be giving a photo and film presentation on the massive waves of the Cortes Bank and the big wave surfers, like Greg Long and Mike Parsons, who’ve ridden the waves.
“The presentation will hold much of the same footage as the Surfrider Foundation party here in Charleston last winter at the Hippodrome, but with a few scary new additions,” Dixon said in a recent email. “Tropical Storm Emily swell will likely be in the water, so once you see some virtual waves on the Windjammer screen, you’ll be able to paddle out and catch some real ones — though they’ll probably not be quite as big as Cortes.”
Look out, Pat Conroy. Spartanburg’s Susan Tekulve was recently named this year’s winner of the 2012 South Carolina First Novel Competition. The annual writing contest is hosted by the South Carolina Arts Commission as part of the Literary Arts Program. In conjunction with Hub City Press, The Humanities Council S.C., and the South Carolina State Library, it aims to promote the work of authors who have not been previously published. Tekulve is the competition’s fifth winner.
Each year, the contest appoints a renowned author to judge manuscripts written by South Carolina citizens. This year, Josephine Humphreys, winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Southern Book Award, judged 55 entries submitted from all over the state. Tekulve’s novel, The Stranger Room, was chosen as the winner.
The Stranger Room is set in the mountains of West Virginia, focused on a single family as they fight their way through grudges and pride to finally find forgiveness.
An English associate professor at Converse College, Tekulve won a book contract with Hub City Press, a non-profit press based in Spartanburg, as well as a $500 advance. At least 1,500 copies of the book will be published, with its debut set for May 2013 at the South Carolina Book Festival. The festival, which will be celebrating its 17th year, celebrates literature by hosting various book vendors, authors, signings, and children’s events.
YALLFest, the young adult book festival hosted by Blue Bicycle Books, is still months away, but the lineup has already been revealed and the buzz is spreading. The Hollywood Crush blog at mtv.com reported on the initial announcement, which tells you a thing or two about how trendy the YA scene is — not to mention the caliber of authors set to descend on the city the weekend of Nov. 10.
Pseudonymous Bosch (the Secret Series) has joined Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz (co-authors of Beautiful Creatures) as an event organizer, and they've invited 48 of their fellow YA authors to the event. Some new names that should be a big draw for young readers are Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments), Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles), Trenton Lee Stewart (The Mysterious Benedict Society), and Kathy Reichs (Bones).
Blue Bicycle's Jonathan Sanchez says the response to the festival has been huge, in large part because of the lure of the Holy City. "It's the big draw," he says. "People love coming to Charleston. Writers are very sociable, and they really like coming together and seeing the town. It's the perfect venue because it's old and haunted." Find out more at yallfest.org.