They say it takes a village to raise a child. Similarly, it takes a community to create a book. At least in my world, this is true.
My core writing group: PJ Hoover, KA Holt, Jessica Lee Anderson, & me
at the Texas Library Association Publishers' Party in 2011.
This past weekend, as you could see from my post yesterday, was a huge meeting of two worlds for me. The local friends, my long time mentors, cheerleaders, the shoulders upon which I have cried and the hands which have types stories that I critiqued, the faces that smile at me no matter when I see them, and the ladies and gentlemen who are there for anything I need -- they were there. In many capacities -- as moderators, attendees, authors and speakers at the Texas Book Festival.
Panelists from the DEAR TEEN ME LitCrawl event at the 2012 Texas Book Festival.
Back: Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian, Maggie Stiefvater, David Levithan, Becca Fitzpatrick,
Marie Lu, Paolo Bacigalupi. Front: Paolo Bacigalupi, Me. Photo by Jill Bailey.
But you know who else was there? The people I have dreamed of working with (not to say that I am not privileged to work with many of my local friends, because CRAP the talent here is blessed and unbelievable, but, I mean, you know what I mean?) were there and knew my name. A new fan recognized me in one of the bookselling tents. Librarians introduced themselves to me and told me they couldn't wait to share my book with their teens. And while I enjoyed panels by authors both local and from out of town, I also got to share a stage with some of my heroes. I explained the intensity of the panel to a few friends as being "famous person, rockstar, bestselling author, who's that redhead?, kind of a big deal, wicked famous, rabid fandom..." And to share that spotlight was a privilege and a dream and an experience I will never forget. I hope I can repeat it. I hope that DEAR TEEN ME, the book that a community built, launches a career that a community built.
Man, this post was going to be short and sweet, but I have so much more to say!
Many of the Texan DTM contributors with me and publisher Hallie Warshaw. L-R: Bethany Hegedus,
Jenny Moss, KA Holt, PJ Hoover, Hallie, me, Jessica Lee Anderson, Nikki Loftin. Photo by Joy Preble.
So there's this. There's the fact that I know so many people in the industry who not only supported me as a writer -- a novelist and a poet -- but who also wanted to help me take the bricks and clay I had and raise it up into something bigger. When I asked my writing group -- PJ Hoover, KA Holt, Jessica Lee Anderson if they liked the idea, they said hell yes. When we got the rumblings of a book coming together, Miranda Kenneally and Sara Megibow said hell yes. Hallie Warshaw, Dan Harmon, and Pam McElroy said hell yes. Our brilliant designer Tanya Napier said hell yes. And then, to our delight, a barage of authors also said hell yes. Authors that, if I didn't call "friend" before DEAR TEEN ME started coming together, well, they are definitely folks that I call friend now. (Sorry, y'all, you're stuck with me.)
Incidentally I was at a party at Bethany Hegedus' Writing Barn on Friday night. (She throws the best parties, FYI.) Bethany is a long time friend and mentor, and she's also an editor with me at Hunger Mountain. We were joking at the idea of having an old-fashioned barn-raising party.
Bethany & me at the Barn party on Friday night.
Photo by Amy Rose Capetta.
Right now, I feel like I should be having a book-raising party. Every story we found for DEAR TEEN ME. Every author. Every tear we shed while editing. Every comma and every typo. Every moment of laughter and moment of shock. These are the bricks and mortar, the support beams and the plumbing of DEAR TEEN ME. And without every single person who touched the book -- and that includes you, oh talented DearTeenMe.com authors, who have kept the site filled with amazing material -- has had a hand in something that I, personally, am very, very proud of.
My boyfriend, Nikhil, and me at Jennifer Ziegler's release party in 2011.
DEAR TEEN ME is the child that literally took a village to raise up. 70 authors contributed to the anthology. We chose from hundreds. We were SPOILED for choice. So many talented authors wanted to be a part of the book. It was heartwrenching to try and figure out who to include. And the website -- oh, the website! We have a website that has now been running for almost two years, with new material sometimes 5 times a week. So many letters. So many stories! And...so many readers!
We are not only a book, but a movement.
The blogosphere's support has helped us go viral. The bands who donated their songs for our book trailers gave us the gift of, well, awesomeness. The family and friends we've surrounded ourselves with have given us strength and support and shared every single moment of OH MY GOD and WHAT THE FUCK and WOOOOOOO!
I know I couldn't have done it without the community I am fortunate enough to be a part of. The literary community, for sure, but also the community of friends I have, online and off. A lot of authors have told me about how their friends and family don't really get the industry, or downplay their hard work, or just aren't that interested in what they're doing. I'm a lucky girl to have people in my life who get what I do and support every minute of it. Wow, right?
This is my first book, y'all. But it's YOUR book, too. I swear. I may have touched every page before it went to print (as did Miranda), but it's your book too. DEAR TEEN ME is as much a community, a social experiment, a living creature, and a giant group hug as it is a book or a website. And I am thankful every day that our labor of love has produced something that we can all love and nurture and take part in. Something that has been received with such love and kindness and enthusiasm.
American Library Association 2011 Annual Conference power team of authors and bloggers!
Front: Christine Elise, Jenny Moss, Carolina Valdez Miller, Sara McClung, Stephanie Pellegrin,
Cristin Terrill, Shannon Messenger, PJ Hoover. Front: Jo Whittemore, me.
As our blog tour continues, I want you guys to know how much I am thankful for every review, every Dear Teen Me letter y'all are posting on your blogs, every critical comment and every insightful remark. I am grateful that you are reading. And that you are excited about our project.
I am grateful for the community that raised -- and continues to nurture -- my first book.
No, our book.