Buzzin’ from the BEA
May 30th, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

Reflections after the BEA and Teen Author Carnival: 

Me and A.C. Crispin after she signed her novel, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: The Price of Freedom

Awestruck. It’s the word that keeps buzzing in my head now that I’m back from attending the BEA. The Javits Center was huge, crowded, and at times overwhelming. I loved almost every minute of it. My least favorite part was waiting in the author signing lines, which were so looooog that it was common to stand for a half hour plus. On the bright side, I met and talked with others so time passed quickly.

I met many incredible people –– authors and book bloggers and librarians. Many I have admired from interacting with them online. (You know who you are!) I follow them on Twitter, read their blogs, and pay attention to their posts on Goodreads. A few have been featured on this blog, and trust me, they’re even more impressive in person. I take their opinions seriously. If they recommend a book, I often add it to my “to read” list. What they’ve accomplished amazes me. When I see how they’ve built a following with their blogs at fifteen or nineteen I can’t help but admire that. I met men and women who take their book reviews and blogs seriously, putting thousands of their own dollars into their blogs and traveling long distances to meet authors to interview them in person. I can’t help but admire that too. I met authors whose works are absolutely brilliant and they inspire me to strive and work harder at my own writing. I can’t help but admire them. These are people who are passionate about their work. I admire positive passionate people. I’m a passionate person myself so I’m naturally drawn to them.

There are numerous amazing moments that will stick with me for a long time like attending the Teen Author Carnival http://teenauthorcarnival.blogspot.com/. Three YA put the event together. What else can I say but WOW! I confess to being nervous when I introduced myself to Gayle Forman and gushing and gushing and gushing about IF I FALL and WHERE SHE WENT! I fell instantly in love with her parents who approached me and asked what I liked about Gayle’s books. Trust me, I had no problem telling them. 😀  Leah Clifford lit up the room, Carrie Jones was hysterical, Kody Keplinger a sweetheart, David Levithan humble and amazing. I could go on and on about the rest of the authors – they were all terrific! And the bloggers I met, including a woman from Norway, were so friendly.

At the BEA I met many librarians, including Judy a cousin to Lauren Oliver, another author I deeply admire. I had been talking to Judy for a good half-hour before she revealed the family connection. Trust me, Judy is as brilliant and passionate as Lauren, and seeing Lauren light up when she saw Judy was priceless. I wish I could have captured that moment on camera.



The Children’s Author Breakfast Tuesday morning hosted by Julianne Moore was fantastic. Sarah Dessen’s talk was inspiring. She shared a story about going to hear an author she admired who clearly did not respect her choice to write for young adults. The person said something like, “You write YA novels? Well, I suppose someone has to do it.” Sarah ended by saying how glad she is to write for this age group and how much she loves hearing from her fans.  Brian Selznick presented his illustrations from his new novel WONDERSTRUCK and the room was so quiet because people were mesmerized by the beauty of his work.

Finally, I met so many new people, and I’m looking forward to staying in touch. A special thank you goes to Heidi from http://www.yabibliophile.com/ whom I met in the terminal on our way to New York. Seeing your smiling face throughout the BEA was like “coming home.”  And Ellen owner of Dragonwings bookstore in Waupaca, WI http://dragonwings.com/ whom I sat next to on my way home and discovered we like many of the same authors. Turns out she knows my sister!

It may take a few more days to come down from this high. One thing is for sure, I’ll never forget 2011 BEA and the Teen Author Conference.


Tips for Young Adults to Find & Interview for a Job
May 20th, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

Help wanted: Sales associate at Wizard Toys, must be sixteen to apply.

When I was in high school this was the first non-babysitting job I applied for. I put on a skirt, walked to the mall, and filled out an application. I stood and waited patiently as the owner read my completed paperwork. Finally, she looked me and asked, “So, why do you think I started this business?”

After a few seconds I answered, “Because you know that kids love to play with toys?”

She frowned and responded, “No, I’m in business to make money. You don’t own a business unless you believe you are going to make money. Sorry, but I can’t hire you.”

I walked out a little shell-shocked, but the experience provided quite the lesson! Only years later did I realize her answer was missing a huge piece of the puzzle.

Every business needs to make money to survive and thrive, but if you despise what you’re doing or only are vaguely interested in the work or product, it’s an uphill battle to be successful. (BTW, Wizard Toys went bust three months after I applied for the position.) I also realized that I didn’t want to work for anyone who cared so much about money that customer service, quality, kindness toward employees were secondary to the pocketbook. Those things effect the bottom line too.

So, here are some tips:

1. Know what your interests are and be clear on what you want to do. Don’t apply for a position you know you won’t enjoy for long. If you hate cooking and cleaning at home, you won’t enjoy working at McDonalds or a fancy restaurant.

2. Think outside the box. Use your skills. My elder son Justin combined his computer and creative skills to start a business putting together DVDs for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, anniversaries. He also scanned old photos and slides and created a DVD from them. Sometimes he added music and graphics. His business expanded to producing highlight DVDs for HS students seeking athletic scholarships.

Several YA I have met through Twitter have utilized their creative skills and have quite a following online. Take a look at Vania’s work at http://www.vlcphoto.net/ http://www.vlcphoto.net/. Her book trailers are extraordinary! I deeply admire her work and talent. Another YA who has an amazing eye for photography is Briana. She sells her photographs online: http://bcmphotography.redbubble.com/works

What can you do?

3. Make a good first impression. Have a resume ready if you have one. If you can, apply in person (not during peek business hours!) and hand your application to the manager. Dress decent (slacks and a nice shirt/top), smile, look the person in the eye, say thank you, use a firm handshake. Tattoos and piercings have become more and more commonplace, but know your employer. Remove piercings or cover tattoos if you believe the company will respond negatively, or apply elsewhere if that makes you uncomfortable.

4. Put in as many applications as possible. Don’t wait to hear from one before you look for other job openings.

5. Use as many connections as possible. Tell friends/family/teachers/neighbors your interests and see who might have a lead for you. If you get a referral and you make a cold call, make sure you tell the person who suggested you contact him.

6. Be open to the possibility of an unpaid internship as an in to a company. If you do great work, you may get hired permanently.

7. Maybe an out-of-state relative owns a business and would be interested in summer help? This might be a great opportunity to experience something new. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

8. Check churches, synagogues, YMCAs, JCCs, public schools to see if they are hiring teens to work at camps or summer programs. (I was a paid tutor for the city of Milwaukee and worked at various libraries teaching kids to read.)  Some municipalities hire extra help during the summer to cut public lawns, groom public parks, lifeguard at public pools and beaches.

For additional tips check out: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/teenstudentgrad/a/teenjobsearch.htm


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