Sunday, February 10, 2008

Varian Johnson, Suzanne Crowley, Suzanne Harper

Yesterday, Varian Johnson spoke to about sixty people on "Pie Charts and Footnotes and Doodles--Oh My!" at the monthly meeting of Austin SCBWI, which was held at Barnes & Noble Westlake.

Here's the promotional description: "It is becoming increasingly common for children's and young adult authors to veer away from the traditional 'narrative and dialogue' format and instead use supplementary 'stuff' in their novels--elements like footnotes, diagrams, email, doodles, etc. If properly used these supplementary items add depth to the novel. If used incorrectly, they can alienate the reader. This presentation--consisting of real advice from authors that have successfully incorporated extra elements into their novels--will help authors learn how to better use these supplementary tools to enhance their own manuscripts."

Varian did a first-rate job on the topic, using examples from his own work and other recently published books. He also provided a handout that included eight tips, an optional writing exercise, and a bibliography. The presentation was conversational, substantive, and inspiring. Varian is highly recommended as a speaker!

Afterward his talk, Varian signed copies of his debut YA novel My Life as a Rhombus (Flux, 2008). Read a recent Cynsations interview with Varian (and his co-founders) about The Brown Bookshelf. See also Varian's own post on the event; he's offered to send copies of the handout to anyone who emails him.

Published authors/illustrators in attendance included BY, FH, BA, MM, JL, DT, JAP, AL, JW, SB, AB, SC, EM, PY, JL, and GLS. Afterward, a few of us grabbed lunch at La Madeleine French Bakery and Restaurant, which is located in the same shopping center, just down the hill. I had the ham-and-mushroom omelet.

Next month's Austin SCBWI meeting at 10:30 a.m. on March 29 will feature Brian Anderson, author of the Zack Proton series (Aladdin, 2006-). Brian will be talking about "Lessons from Film Making." Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

GLS and I also greatly enjoyed meeting Suzanne Crowley this week. Susanne is the deubt author of The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous (Greenwillow, 2007). We met Suzanne, who is based in the Fort Worth area, for appetizers at Z Tejas Southwestern Grill on Friday afternoon. We split the Grilled Shrimp & Guacamole Tostada Bites (herb-and-pumpkin-seed tostada rounds, topped with pesto-grilled shrimp, fresh guacamole and a dash of chipotle), Grilled Jumbo Quesadillas (stuffed with smoked chicken), and Tejas Trio (Tejas Trio Chile con queso, salsa picante and guacamole with tortilla chips). Suzanne was in town for school visits and a stock signing at BookPeople.

I also had recent the good fortune to meet another author, Suzanne Harper. She's originally from the Austin area (her family is still here) and now makes her home in New York.

Last week, we got together for Katz's and had a wonderful visit. Suzanne is the author of The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney (HarperCollins, 2007) and The Juliet Club (HarperCollins, 2008).

I had scrambled eggs and a slice of turkey ham for breakfast.

On the writing front, I'm working on line edits for Eternal, and GLS and I are polishing up a revision of a short story for an anthology coming soon from HB and CC.

Our culinary experiment of late was dinner early Wednesday night at The Melting Pot, which is located downtown, near the convention center. It's a fondue restaurant like Gejas in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

The service is top notch, and we were seated in a private room for two off the main dining area.

We began with a Swiss cheese fondue, served with a variety of cut breads, vegetables (the celery was oddly tasty), and green apples. I elected lobster as my main course and was served two generous tails to cook in coq au vin sauce. A hearty bowl of mushrooms, sliced red potatoes, and squash were offered on the side.

We were too stuffed to try dessert, but I'll be back for the dark chocolate fondue.