How to identify a Newbie, or, accidental author stalking

So, it seems obvious, but somehow it didn’t really sink in that there would be a whole-lotta authors at the SCBWI conference in NYC.

Sure, I knew there would be a few, after all, many people in the SCBWI are published, and I was excited to see a few of them (like Jay Asher, hellooo!)

But, nonetheless, a few caught me off guard. Heck, even the ones I was expecting ellicited a completely awkward response from me. Take Jay Asher. We know he’s supercool from his old and new blogs ( and, and I can’t say I was suprised to see him because I knew he would be there!

However, that didn’t stop me from looking like a complete nitwit the first time I saw him walk past.

I stopped, frozen.
My jaw dropped.
I think I smiled,
and he (completely understandibly), gave me a wide eyed glance, and walked away…quickly.

Can you say Awk-ward? Strike one for Flemmily.

I avoided most similar slip ups in front of well known authors, agents, and editors by (essentially) taking a few steps back and avoiding all eye contact. This probably gives me a terribly low score on the networking front, but at least they won’t remember me as “the-creepy-one-who-stares-but-cannot-speak.” On the whole, I feel it was a good choice.

So, in this manner I made it all the way to the autograph party without looking creepy in front of any of the following….

Jarret Krosoczka
Bruce Hale
Richard Peck
Jack Gantos
Lin Oliver
and (big smile) Linda Sue Park.

I know. I was so proud.

Then I blew it.

My second meeting with Jay Asher went marginally better than the first, and I think I came off as considerably less creepy.

I think I won points with Bruce Hale…he liked the name “Flemmily” and suggested it would be a good pen name. He also agreed with me when I said I thought it would be best to write something worth reading before I concerned myself with pen names.

Jarret seemed to think the whole “Flemmily” thing was a bit odd, so I figure he and Bruce cancelled each other out.

But then, in true Flemmily fashion, I felt the need to tell Jarret hair-cutting stories from my sister’s kindergarten class (which honestly does make sense if you read his picture book, Baghead). He smiled, but I know it was off. Strike two, Flemmily.

And then, like a COMPLETE moron, I decided to strike up a conversation with Linda Sue Park.

But first, I had to wait for her to finish real conversations with important and amazing people, like Lin Oliver.

Thankfully, Linda Sue Park is EXTREMELY kind, and thus she put up with me. I told her how much I love her newbery-award-winning book, A Single Shard.
Had I stopped there, I probably could have come out of the session feeling like a winner. But no, I had to push it.

Then I started talking to her about Project Mulberry, a novel in itself, but throughout the telling Linda Sue Park inserts conversations she has with one of her main characters. Amazing insights on writing, for you writers out there.

I enjoyed it because it showed me that other authors have conversations with their characters too, and thus it made me feel not-so-crazy.  So, of course, I told all that to Linda Sue Park.

And as I said that, I realized that telling people they made you feel not-so-crazy, sounds kind of, well…


Strike three, Flemmily.

So, let’s revisit the list.

I did not appear to be creepy in front of:

Jarret Krosoczka

Bruce Hale

Richard Peck

Jack Gantos

Lin Oliver

and (big smile) Linda Sue Park

and, needless to say, Jay Asher is definitely crossed out.  Since I didn’t actually speak to Richard Peck or Jack Gantos, I can’t really count them as wins, but neutral at least.

So, all you authors at the SCBWI NYC conference, I sincerely apologize.

I just admire you way too much to come across as “cool.”

Let’s try again next year, okay?


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