From young readers to young writers


GREENFIELD — Your aliens and monsters have to be believable. Make sure they play by the rules of the universe you created.

This is one piece of advice author Josh David Bellin will offer during his science fiction and fantasy writing workshop at the Young Adult Author Fair.

The Saturday event, at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road, begins at 1 p.m. with introductions of the attending writers, followed by break-out sessions led by the writers.

Sessions include a panel discussion on the publishing industry, fictional world-building, the significance of young adult literature, a book signing and a young adult literature trivia contest.

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The library has hosted author fairs in past years with local and self-published authors, but this year’s event focuses specifically on young authors and expands the event to include authors from around the country.

Sarah J. Schmitt, youth services professional at the library’s Sugar Creek branch in New Palestine, organized the fair. As a published author with an inside view into the life of a writer, Schmitt has attended several author conferences in the role of both librarian and author of the young-adult book, “It’s a Wonderful Death.”

Schmitt’s agenda for the author fair draws heavily on favorite activities from conferences she’s attended. She also has called on several author connections she’s made at other conferences. She selected from up-and-coming authors just starting to make a name for themselves, but she also picked authors who she felt would connect with the teen audience.

“I’ve seen them in action,” Schmitt said of her writer-friend connections. “They are very energetic and engaging.”

In addition to Schmitt, panel participants include:

Ed Cho and Lee Cherolis, author and illustrator of the “Little Guardian” comics

Amalie Howard, author of “The Riven Chronicles”

Melissa Landers, the “Alienated” and “Starfighter” series

Mindy McGinnis, author of “In a Handful of Dust”

Saundra Mitchell, author of “Dear Teen Me”

Stephanie Kate Strohm, author of “The Taming of the Drew”

Josh David Bellin, author of “Survival Colony Nine”

Bellin will lead a workshop on “Creating Aliens and Monsters in Science Fiction and Fantasy.” His most recent book, “Scavenger of Souls,” a sequel to his first novel, features alien monsters with the ability to mimic human hosts.

Bellin admits a lot of fantasy and sci-fi exists in the market, but he feels his novels stand apart because of their focus on family.

“They’re about families in the breakdown of human civilization,” Bellin said, “and how to make do in a bleak environment.”

Author Amalie Howard looks forward to the fair as an opportunity to connect with readers and fans.

“They’re reading through their own lens,” Howard said, “and they can give you additional feedback on your own work. It’s one of the greatest rewards.”

Howard’s novels often give special attention to the bad guys in her stories — she’s a huge fan of the misunderstood villain, she said.

As a writer for young adults, Howard spoke positively about the impact of young adult literature.

“People have the misconception that young adult literature is just dumbed-down fiction,” Howard said, “but if it makes you ask provoking questions, then it has value.”

The fair aims to connect with anyone interested in writing — but especially with teens and young adults, organizers say. In addition to the break-out sessions, the authors will rotate through the library’s teen room for informal conversation and question-and-answer sessions.

“We wanted to make them available to just hang out and talk about anything the kids want to talk about,” Schmitt said, “and maybe recommend some titles from the collection.”

Following the two 45-minute break-out sessions, the authors sign copies of their work. Attendees are welcome to bring their own book copies or purchase them at the author fair at a 15 percent discount.

The event wraps up with a literature trivia contest led by the authors as team captains. Schmitt expects the contest to be very competitive. Anyone who attends the author fair is invited to participate. Trivia categories will include topics such as “love triangles” — a frequent plot element in young adult literature — and monsters and aliens.

“The authors are very excited about it,” she said.

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Sarah Schmitt is youth services professional for the Sugar Creek branch library. As author of “It’s a Wonderful Death,” she is one of the authors who will be presenting at Saturday’s Young Author Fair.