Monday, September 28, 2015

Baltimore Book Fest

I spent Saturday at the Baltimore Book Fest and well, I should have taken notes because I got hit with a sinus infection Sunday and I feel it has emptied out my brains a bit.  It was a busy weekend in Baltimore, I rode up on the train with some friends who were hitting the Baltimore Comic-Con.  I arrived before the book fest kicked off which gave me a chance to chat with some of the folks at the Maryland Romance Writers (MRW) tent.  They kicked things off with a panel on New Adult books that talked a lot of the differences between adult, new adult, and young adult voices and stories. Quite a few of the authors talked about how new adult men are likely to be a little less experienced, a little more vulnerable, because, just like the young females, they come to a relationship with a little less baggage. 
The next panel was on tropes and they talked about how using tropes can be a useful skeleton to help you build a character and/or plot, and that it can also help you find readers who like such things.  (Like me.  With amnesia.)
Then I hopped over to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America tent to stalk, ahem, I mean listen to the YA writers and bloggers there.  They talked about the freedom that writing YA offered, that it really let you put a dash of this, a pinch of that, and just go.  Adult readers tend to be more worried about how you broke the rules on something.  They also mentioned the tight pacing on YA really gets you to the plot fast, there is no five pages discussing the layout of the space hatch.  A librarian in the crowd asked about diverse YA fantasy selections and the panel gave some great resources for lists (including We Need Diverse Books and Disability in Kidlit) and a quick discussion that sadly sometimes the covers (whitewashed or fontified) make it hard to spot them as you flip through School Library Journal or Publisher's Weekly. 
Then I hopped back to MRW for their YA discussion.  They also talked about YA, particularly with a smoochie bent.  I confess I snuck out a little early because Bryan Voltaggio was cooking meatloaf over at the aquarium tent.  And then I went down to the Literary Salon tent to listen to Greg Proops talk about his book.  He talked a lot about the things that most people don't know these days, whether because mainstream news is so slanted, because we don't curate the things we read on the internet, or because our history classes leave out so much. 
I went back to MRW for the suspense panel.  They discussed making use of the ticking clocking suspense, that you aren't so much going to have a suspense where the bomb will go off in six months or so, and how sometimes that creates challenges for making a believable romance because these people are really not in a position to go on a date night. 
Then at the Pratt Free Library Children's Stage the members of two Youth Poetry teams performed and I have to tell you, if you have a chance to see these kids, they are amazing.  They were touching, funny, heartbreaking, and weird, sometimes all in one piece.  (If I had been better prepared for the awesome, I would have tried to get video.  Find them on the You Tubes.)
And then I grabbed dinner and sat in on part of MRW's final panel, wherein the steamier authors proved some of their dedication for inspiration by spotted a leather jacketed dude, prompting an audience member to go grab him and bring him back for a quick chat. (Names redacted to protect teh guilty, although I think they have outed themselves on other parts of the net.)
Then it was time to head home.  I really am lucky to live so close to such fun. 

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