Live-Blogging From Nashua: Laurie Halse Anderson

Here I am in the ballroom of the Crowne Hotel in Nashua (9 a.m.), waiting to hear NESCBWI's keynote speaker for our annual conference. The place is packed with 500 eager writers and illustrators -- a more diverse crowd than in years past, but still mostly white, middle-aged, and female.

Conference director Francine Puckley is introducing the cadre of hard workers who pull off this huge conference. I'm sitting next to authors Tanya Lee Stone (A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl) and Sarah Aronson (Head Case), who are BFFs, and trying not to miss MY writing buddy, author Karen Day (Tall Tales).

During the intro to Laurie Halse Anderson, we learn that her new YA/MG novel Chains is due out in October.

Laurie starts by showing us her tattoo, and tells us to get one in order to "frustrate the fifteen-year-olds in America." Her tattoo is the first word in Beowulf, which basically means "LISTEN TO MY STORY."

After hundreds of rejections and years, it dawned on her that she needed help, and she did the most significant thing in her writing life: she joined SCBWI. Eventually, she started getting personalized, "quality rejections." Next came phone calls.

"If you're not published yet, you are simply 'pre-published,'" she tells us.

Laurie's talk is about five keys to becoming a writer: time, space, art, craft, and permission. The session is inspiring for wannabes, newbies, and burned-out oldies alike. Applause, and we're done.

My next update will be at 2:40, when I live-blog Leda Schubert's session "World-Building: Bringing Fantasy to Life," followed by Kevin Hawkes' closing keynote address starting at 3:50. Now I'm off to my own session!