Over the past couple of months, I had the pleasure of attending two writer events where authors and their teen readers were present. There were plenty of tweens at one of the events, which was exciting for an author like me. I absolutely love being amid this type of group because of the fun everyone has. Children and teens are naturally curious, many are quick to humor, and most know how to be “in the moment.”
Children’s writers—those writing for children up through young adults—are also some pretty cool kids. They easily tap into this same energy, bringing out that child/tween/teen inside themselves. This is how they can draw out characters rich in age-fitting scenarios or write about situations kids can relate to on a personal level. This is how they connect with their readers.
As an author-exhibitor at a handful of events over the past year, I learned that no matter how shy the kid (big or small), a fun table attracts them. Author swag—bookmarks, book-themed buttons, stickers, candy, etc.—appeals to even the most hesitant attendee and can generate interest. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations struck up with tweens and teens about fantasy books, mythology, or becoming a writer initiated by offering them cool “stuff”. Lots of kids signed up for a raffle my author-friend and I hosted at one event, many stuck our buttons all over their tote bags or lanyard ropes, and a few teens were having so much fun with the particular event’s theme, they came to our table wearing alien masks.
Fellow children’s authors are a ton of fun, too. Most coming to these types of events are eager to connect and share their experiences and/or engage in what I like to call “nerding out” over books they love, have written, or read; favorite characters; supernatural themes; what-if scenarios on well-known stories; favorite covers, etc. This sort of writer-to-writer “play” is inspiring. And playing is fun! Kids know that, and big kids benefit from time spent where they can nurture this kid-energy and energize their creative juices.
And when authors (ahem . . . me included) can be seen wearing antennae, glow-in-the-dark jewelry, or even alien masks alongside the kids, you can almost hear the ticking of keys as new stories begin to spark from enthused imaginations.
Christina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. Honored titles include Tween Fantasy ARROW OF THE MIST and its sequel ARMS OF ANU, and YA Fantasy/Romance HONEY QUEEN. Christina enjoys life in the foothills of Northern California with her husband and sons, a pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. For more about her and her writing, visit www.christinamercer.com
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