Imagine being a new author and being invited to NCTE in Nashville to speak in a session along with Sarah Dessen. The Sarah Dessen. The one who makes teens and librarians swoon. The one whose books are overwhelmingly popular. The one whose words have been put on film. The one who stole my heart with THIS LULLABY.
There I am, so absolutely nervous, I crashed another session right before mine with Sarah to calm down. There, I encountered the amazing Professor Nana who gave a fabulous talk about reluctant teen readers along with two of her cohorts. In that moment, the idea for readergirlz was born: the idea for creating an online book community where teens could gather and chat directly with their favorite authors…like Sarah.
When a new idea percolates in my head, I have no room for things like being nervous! So I walked into my NCTE session, filled to capacity. Let’s face it, all the teachers were there for Sarah, not for me! I think we all started chanting “Hate Spinnerbait” when she walked in, her long hair fluttering and an enormous smile on her face. I had brought her a box of my favorite chocolates–dark caramel dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with smoked sea salt from Fran’s, which later have become President Obama’s favorite chocolates. Sarah grinned at me…and then blogged about them.
My dream came true when I launched readergirlz with my co-founders Janet Lee Carey, Dia Calhoun, and Lorie Ann Grover. And then months and months later, we had the privilege of hosting Sarah Dessen on readergirlz.
Justina Chen is the author of North of Beautiful and co-founder of the online community, readergirlz.
Tomorrow – readergirlz