This past Saturday, I attended the third annual book festival organized by Pennsylvanian teenager Skyanne Fisher – Bring YA to PA, otherwise known as PAYA 2012. (This year with less hurricanes!)
I was delighted to be able to display the cover of THE CAGED GRAVES. (If you didn’t see the cover reveal yesterday, look here!)  The cover drew attention and stirred up a lot of interest in the book, as did my husband’s photographs of the real graves.  I proudly told everyone that my husband is getting photo credit for the bottom image on the book cover.
I didn’t go alone this year. My 15 year-old daughter Gabbey signed up for the morning’s writing workshop. I’ve got her here today doing a guest blog on the event.
A TEEN WRITER AT PAYA by Gabrielle Salerni
I attended this summer’s PAYA festival with the mother unit last weekend, where I signed up for a writing workshop with several other published authors. I had already been to the first year of PAYA and wanted to go to the workshop this year in hopes of receiving some new insight on my current WIP. I was beginning to get a little discouraged over it and was in need of some outside help. I knew I was among my own kind when some writers at the door, Victoria Schwab (The Near Witch) and Tiffany Schmidt (Send Me a Sign), immediately began exclaiming over my Doctor Who t-shirt. 
I was directed into the room where the workshop would be taking place and then watched more and more people trickle in. They were all adults, and despite myself I started to get a little intimidated, being fifteen and having no real writing experience whatsoever. For a few minutes I stood awkwardly in the corner before sidling over to a chair in front of the table. Luckily for me, everyone seemed nice and as the workshop progressed I became more comfortable.
Each of the authors gave a 5-8 minute presentation on a different topic, all of which were entertaining. I tried to take notes on the ones that pertained to my genre, but didn’t end up with much on the paper (yeah…that’s how it happens in school, too). In the end we all split into groups; my group had three authors and three aspiring writers. Due to time constraints, we decided to pair off and Ellen Jensen Abbot read the first three pages of my story. She was encouraging and gave me a lot of ideas and suggestions to help me cut down words and make my story better; not to mention ways to develop my fantastical universe a little more (I have A LOT of that to do). She was very nice, and overall I got a lot out of the experience. I’m also looking forward to reading Ellen Jensen Abbot’s book, Watersmeet soon! Thanks to everyone who was there and who helped us aspiring writers learn so much!