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

June 10, 2010

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

Author Update | Ann Dee Ellis

April 24, 2009

Ann Dee Ellis will present Everything Is Fine. at TKE on April 28.

There’s something in the water here in UT, something that inspires local writers to produce all manner of wonderful books — many of them for children, young readers, and teens. Ann Dee Ellis is no exception, tackling real world issues with a signature style.

Her first YA book, This Is What I Did, is an honest and excruciating account of bullying and abuse. Don’t be put off by the subject matter — this one is a must-read for not only teens, but teachers and parents. Hard to read, but ultimately hopeful and beautifully handled.

Enter her newest, Everything Is Fine. Ellis carries her choppy, intimate first-person style over into this new book but deals with a whole new set of issues. As if adolescence isn’t hard enough, Mazzy’s father has abandoned her and her clinically depressed mother. Mazzy struggles not only with her family’s problems, but with issues of self-confidence, identity, and the not-so-secret secrets of people’s personal lives.

I can personally guarantee that hearing Ellis read is an experience not to be missed. Come help us celebrate a local talent and a great new read!

A Worthy Cause

July 8, 2008

How cool are our local authors? This cool! (Thanks, Shannon!)

Writing for Charity

This summer have unfettered access to professional children’s authors, all in the name of charity! Saturday, July 19 several local authors will host a Writing for Charity event in Salt Lake City, with all profits going to The Wheelchair Project. Come hear writers talk about their process, how to write for a young audience, storytelling tips, and the ins and outs of the publishing business. In addition, have your picture book text or first page of your novel (the most important page!) workshopped by professionals.

When: Saturday, July 19, 9 am to 1 pm
Where: Salt Lake Main Library, 200 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: $45 (should be tax deductible!)
Event breakdown: 9:00 am — Registration
9:15 – 10:15 am — Panel discussion in the auditorium
10:30 – 11:15 — Break out discussions in topic groups
11:30 – 1:00 — Small group workshops

Authors and publishing professionals include Brandon Mull, Shannon Hale, Mette Ivie Harrison, Ann Cannon, Kristyn Crow, Becky Hickox, Kimberley Heuston, Anne Bowen, Aprilynne Pike, Laura and Tracy Hickman, Ann Dee Ellis, Mike Knudson, Sydney Husseman, Chris Schoebinger (editor), Amy Jameson (agent), and Wendy Toliver.

Space is limited, first come first serve. To reserve your spot, mail in the $45 registration fee.
Mailing address: 1176 E 2620 N, Provo, UT 84604-4132
Make checks to: “LDS Philanthropies” (the organization that runs The Wheelchair Project) and write “Wheelchair” in the memo line.
Also include: Your name, age, phone number, and area of interest–picture book writing, fantasy novel, or realistic fiction novel.

On the day of the event, bring 15 copies of the first page of your novel or picture book text (maximum word count: 300 words) for some hands on workshopping. If you don’t have a first page to workshop, don’t let that stop you!

100% of the proceeds go to The Wheelchair Project, a wonderful charity that donates new wheelchairs to people in third world countries, many of whom have never had one. A wheelchair can completely change the life of a disabled person, offering mobility, increased independence, and a chance to go to school or find employment. Because this charity is administered by volunteers with LDS Philanthropy, there is no overhead and every penny donated goes directly to purchasing wheelchairs. This is not a religious charity–the wheelchairs go to the needy regardless of their faith. Thank you for supporting this extraordinary cause!

Changes Afoot

December 12, 2007

If you’ve been in the store lately and wandered into the Fiction Room, you’d have noticed some big changes! In the corner window, we’ve got a whole new arrangement that we’re pretty proud of. I’ve been trying to think up a spiffy name for it. So far, my wit has failed me. Maybe someone else will come through — it deserves it.

What once was an ever-changing display now holds, in order of appearance:

  • Graphic Novels
  • our newly minted Edge section
  • Speculative Fiction (more commonly known as Science Fiction & Fantasy)

Graphic Novels is pretty self explanatory, and is now centered around a great display of some of our favorites.

Our Edge section is something we’ve been thinking about for a long time. It holds what we at TKE affectionately refer to as crossover novels — books that are on the edge (hence the Edge section) between Young Adult and Adult literature. You’re probably already familiar with many of the titles: the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer, The Confessional by J.L. Powers, This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis, and Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, to name a few.

And then, of course, Speculative Fiction, which we find is a great complement to the aforementioned.

So! If your interests don’t necessarily fit into regular fiction, come in and take a look. We guarantee that you’ll find something to fit the bill.

Author Update | Carolyn Jessop, Ann Dee Ellis & Klancy de Nevers

November 8, 2007

Last night, the Utah Chapter of the AAUW (American Association of University Women) invited (in order of appearance) Klancy de Nevers, Ann Dee Ellis and Carolyn Jessop to speak on their books — The Colonel and the Pacifist, This Is What I Did, and Escape. While the books and their authors seemed wildly different at first glance, by the end of the evening it was clear they complemented each other perfectly.

Klancy de Nevers, speaking on the Japanese internment camps of World War II, not only offered insights into the plight of the Japanese Americans imprisoned there, but also drew our attention to the military mindset behind the creation of the camps. The rhetoric used (and later classified and denied) is frighteningly similar to rhetoric used in the War on Terror, making The Colonel and the Pacifist not only a good historical study but a timely reminder of the mistakes made on behalf of national security. Those readers who enjoyed Snow Falling on Cedars will appreciate this one as well.

This Is What I Did is Ann Dee Ellis’s first novel, addressing issues of abuse, identity, and friendship for young adults. Ann Dee has nailed the teenage voice; her reading provoked laughter, nods of recognition, and appreciation from all of us. And, while the teen genre often seems split into the just-plain-fluffy or the just-plain-angsty, Ann Dee has found a balance that tempers the serious with the light-hearted. A great book for teachers and parents as well as young adults!

Escape needs little introduction — Carolyn has been on quite the media tour, from Larry King to the O’Reilly Factor to Oprah and who knows what else. The book is, last I checked, #11 on the New York Times Bestseller List and has been flying off our shelves at an astonishing rate. For someone so recently come to fame, Carolyn was down-to-earth and quietly endearing. The story of her escape from Colorado City and the FLDS is astonishing, and hearing her talk and read about it was a wonderful experience. This is a great holiday gift, and we have a stock of Signed First Editions for you to give (or to keep!).