Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Ann Dee Ellis and the series wrap

We have come to the final post in our continuing series of faculty interviews with interviewer Carol Lynch Williams as prelude to the 2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference which is taking place next week: June 14—18! (www.foryoungreaders.com). Registration closes June 11. Today we have a sneak peek at Ann Dee Ellis, who will be teaching a novel class AND a final wrap-up from our interviewer herself.

Carol Lynch Williams: Please introduce yourself in the voice of Mazzy.

Ann Dee Ellis: One time I am Ann Dee Ellis and someone said so?
and I said, so what?
and she said, I don’t know.
And I said, Okay.
Then she said, do you dye your hair?
Yes you do.
No I don’t. It’s natural.
You have naturally red hair?
I do.
Have you ever seen a dog?
I went running yesterday and acted like my ankle hurt because they say if you start to feel like you are going to pass out when you run you should stop but I didn’t want to stop because the girl I was running with can run ten times faster than me and ten times longer than me so instead of saying I was tired and wanted to walk, I said my ankle hurt because it really did hurt–a little.
Oh. Okay. Do you want to stop?
No. Do you?
Ummm. Well. I mean if you need to.
I don’t need to but my ankle is about to fall off but I don’t even care.
Let’s stop.
You want to?
I guess.
No. We don’t have to.
But then she stopped so I stopped.

CLW: When is your best time to write? Why?

ADE: I think my best writing time is ten in the morning. I’m not positive because I’ve never written at ten in the morning but I have this feeling that beautiful things would come out of my fingers at ten a.m. These days I write when I can find a minute. Usually around nine or ten at night when I can barely think. It makes my stuff very postmodern.

CLW: Please tell us what students in your class will learn at Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference this year.

ADE: In my class we just sit there. And read. And write. And sit some more. And not cry. And read. And someone will say, do you have problems? And I’ll say yes. And then they’ll say, I do too. Then we’ll sit. And read. And write. It’s actually a nice break from doing those things alone. Plus we’ll make our characters real. And then we’ll sit some more.

CLW: What is the funniest thing you do as a writer?

ADE: Funniest? These questions are hard. I do nothing funny. As far as writing goes, it all starts around nine at night and it goes like this: eat graham crackers and chocolate chips and write, then put the laundry in, then watch an episode of The Office, then complain about The Office, write some more, then try to stay awake to watch something I don’t really care about but I feel like I should watch because when will I ever get the time to watch it again? (I’m looking at you Celebrity Apprentice). Then I fall asleep and then wake up and realize I forgot to change the laundry.

CLW: How did you get your first book published?

ADE: My first book was published through a connection at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference. My teacher for the workshop was Virginia Euwer Wollfe–one of the kindest, most compassionate women I have ever met. After reading part of my manuscript, she told me an agent in New York had requested she look for possible new clients. She gave me his address and voila! a book contract.

CLW: What do you do in your spare time?

ADE: I have one husband and two little boys who I love and who make me crazy. They take up most of my time. The little bit that is left over goes to watching bad reality TV, trying to train for running races, and eating. I also like thinking about both yoga and climbing mountains. My favorite books are The House on Mango Street, The Bell Jar (don’t be scared), and Ramona the Pest. I also enjoy The Happy Hocky Family and Corduroy with a taste of Drummer Hoff on the side.

CLW: Thanks, Ann Dee! (You are funny!) I look forward to listening to you this month. We’re going to have fun!!!

Ann Dee Ellis will lead the breakout sessions “Writing a Novel is a Marathon” on Tuesday, June 15, 4 p.m. and Friday, June 18, 3 p.m.

And now a final word from our interviewer, Carol Lynch Williams:

This has been a great few weeks getting to know the faculty for our Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference. As you can see,
we have tons of talent here. And just wait till you meet our agent and editors!

Mary Kole is an Associate Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. She has also worked in the children’s editorial department at Chronicle Books and is currently earning her MFA in creative writing at the University of San Francisco. At this time, Mary is only considering young adult and middle grade fiction and truly exceptional picture books.

Jennifer Hunt is Editorial Director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Jennifer oversees middle grade and young adult fiction acquisition. She also edits a wide range of books–including those by our very own Sara Zarr.

Kate Angelella is an Assistant Editor at Simon and Schuster. She’s searching for a unique voice, angst-y girl characters, fresh takes on the chick lit genre with strong commercial hooks, as well as novels with any type of paranormal element strongly grounded in realism.

ALSO: This year at our Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference we are going to have a first page contest for all people who are registered as full-day or half-day attendees. Three writers will win the chance for a ten-minute sit down with one of our editors or our agent.

As well, our wonderful bookstore, The King’s English, will be offering a 10% discount on books sold at the conference, so this will be a terrific time to buy books–and get them signed by the authors.

If you have any questions about the conference, please feel free to email me, Carol, at carolthewriter@yahoo.com or visit our website at www.foryoungreaders.com.

2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Introduction, Kristyn Crow, Sara Zarr, Brandon Mull, Kevin Hawkes, Emily Wing Smith, Bonny Becker, Mike Knudson, Alane Ferguson, Cheri Pray Earl and Rick Walton, Dave Wolverton, Ann Dee Ellis

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