“North Star Children” update + Festival of Books live-blog?!

Two things.


Last week, I finished a play at three in the morning, and the rest of the week felt like I had joined the cast of The Walking Dead. As one of the walkers. Or as an extra who get killed within the first five minutes. Because… zombie Sam.

There was a joke in there somewhere.

The play is North Star Children (working title) and it’s for my Playwriting II class. If you want to know more about it, click here to read/skim the blog post I wrote last month about the idea.

North Star Children

I’m about to start revising it, and it’s a little bit daunting. I’ve written one-act plays before, but never a full-length (the difference being that a full-length is… double the length/two acts rather than one. I know. It’s aptly named), so I’m not so sure how to go about rewriting.

The writing process was completely different than that of one of my novels/short stories. I was just letting my characters talk, so I now have what is basically a “talk piece” on my hands… but I’m okay with that.

This play was never going to be about plot—if that were the case, it would have been a screenplay. It’s a play about young people navigating relationships and life without much action (besides the random rescuing of a cat trapped on the roof. As I write this post, I have a cat on my lap… so I guess it’s pretty easy to see where I got my inspiration). Right now it touches on many different issues, but doesn’t get into any of them very deeply.

I started writing Children with the idea that each character came up to this mountain cabin with a lot of baggage. Heavy baggage—mental illness, drug addiction, and finding your worth in the aftermath of abuse are only a few examples. And while I think they came through in the writing of the first draft… now it’s time to fully explore them.

The last thing I want to do is to touch very lightly on a few of those things and not be able to do them justice. I need the funny (hopefully) banter to keep the tone light—because I always want the focus to be on the light, and not the darkness—but I also want this play to be made up of scenes that aren’t afraid of the messy, the brokenness, the hurt.

I’ve made a patchwork play. Scenes are out of order, monologues are crammed together in awkward sequences… it looks more like a lumpy rug than it does a tapestry.

But that is such a good thing, because that makes it even easier to shift scenes around and rework them and delete them and smooth them out. Beat out the lumps. Soon. *taps fingers together*

Still, I finally took that short story I wrote two years ago and made it into what I originally wanted it to be. Which makes me happy, and grateful—because my Playwriting II classmates showed me so much undeserved support when I was bringing in my first draft scenes and overwritten monologues and making them read them every week… I’m sorry, guys. My classmates are just really cool.

(Also… this means that I’ll be getting back to Cure Me soon. Y’know… that novel I started way back when and then put on hold? That one.)


The LA Times Festival of Books is next weekend on the USC campus as usual, and tickets were released this morning at 9 AM on the website. I had an alarm set and everything to remind myself to GET ONLINE and GET DEM TIX, but when I got there…

…all of the panel tickets to see John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska) were SOLD OUT.

The only panel that was sold out. The ONLY ONE.

My nerdfighter heart is crying. How dare you come to my school and not let me love you, John Green. How dare you.


However… I did get tickets to see Veronica Roth (Divergent), Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak, Wintergirls), Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Fangirl), Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone), and more! So I’m still, like, ridiculously excited.

I’m debating live-blogging it, like I did for Comic Con… but I figured I’d ask you guys. Would you be interested in another half-crazed post involving a bunch of authors’ intelligent comments plus me fangirling all over the place like the biggest YA book nerd you’ve ever seen?

Take a look at the Comic-Con live blog I did this past summer before you answer that. I may even end up getting into John Green’s panel, if I line up super early. So there’s that added incentive.

Samantha Chaffin


9 thoughts on ““North Star Children” update + Festival of Books live-blog?!

  1. Starflower says:

    Hey Sam! It’s Starflower for the first time in a short eternity 😀

    North Star Children sounds SO exciting, and I’d like to congratulate you on a) finishing a full-length play! and b) being able to write such brilliant blog posts. (Dang, I really want to see North Star Children performed now, because “How, Ever” was such a beautiful story.) I’m so glad you had the guts to do something more with the characters of “How, Ever”, and that kind of courage is something I’d love to have with my own writing.

    Anyhow, you get to see Laini Taylor? *jealousy*

    Oh, this is probably a good opportunity to tell you I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. Details on that are here: http://fairyskeletons.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-much-belated-liebster-award.html

    – Starflower 🙂

    • samchaffin says:

      Thank you so much, dear! That really means a lot to me. I’d love to see NSC performed too, but who knows if that’ll ever happen…haha anyway, YES I do get to see Laini Taylor, and I cannot wait! I wish I could magically transport all my writerly friends to LA for this weekend. It’s going to be wonderful, but it’d be even cooler if you all were there!

      Also thank you for the nom! Much appreciated. 🙂

  2. E.R. Warren says:

    Congrats on your playwriting. I’ve never done it, and it’s really interesting to see your thought process on putting the story together.

    Oh my God, I’m so excited for the Festival of Books this week! I didn’t get to the ticket website until 11, so I had no shot at Veronica Roth AND John Green, but to be honest… Most excited to see Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler. Also looking forward to Rainbow Rowell and Eoin Colfer!

    • samchaffin says:

      Thank you! Yes, playwriting is a strange beast. A very fun one, for me at least, and much faster and (sometimes) less stressful than planning a novel…but very different. 🙂 I hope you try your hand at it someday!

      YES DANIEL HANDLER. The man is a genius. Plus with Ransom Riggs moderating, that conversation can only be awesome. 🙂

  3. clclewis801 says:

    Live blog!!!! Why are you doubting your live blogging skills? As far as North Star Children and tackling hard subjects…just take it a little bit at a time and it will turn out all right…and do some more research. Think about characters or people in similar situations and how they reacted. That should help you get started on revising!

    • samchaffin says:

      Haha I think I am gonna do a live blog. I have no idea how exciting it’ll be, since it truly will be just me shoving my way through the masses and looking at books, but I’ll definitely post what the authors say at the panels I attend. So if nothing else… THEY’LL be interesting. 🙂 And thanks for the advice! I always find that the more research I do, the more I feel I need to add to my stories, so I think it’ll be a really good thing for this play’s second draft.

      • Brie says:

        You’re welcome, and best wishes on draft 2. I really look forward to the live blog. You inspired me to live blog finishing reading a book…and it was really fun. I know you will have fun tomorrow. I hope you make some awesome memories!

  4. Kim says:


    First of all, I’m so friggin proud of you for finishing your play. As someone who has written nothing butnovels / short stories for a few years now, the idea of even attempting a play makes me sweat. And you wrote a whole play. OMG. I’m sure it’s epic and I want to read it (or better yet, see it performed someday!).

    PLEASE LIVE BLOG. You don’t even know how much I enjoyed your Comic Con blog post. And the tweets. And the everything. It made me feel less terrible for not ditching my own life to attend. Same thing for this great book festival. I’m squirming in my chair right now, wishing I could go. Why don’t authors come to Florida? We have dolphins and Disney World (I will never understand our lack of draw for these kinds of events).


    How do the tickets work? I saw the schedule and it looks like there are plenty of panels. But if you want to actually meet and talk to them, you can get a ticket? *is trying to understand*

    E.R. Warren from Figment is going to be there – you guts might run into eahc other and not even know it! She got a ticket to see Lemony Snicket *wriggles in envy* You guys can’t keep me in suspense. I need to know all the things.

    • samchaffin says:

      AWW Kim! I so so SO wish you could come to this. I wish everybody I know from Figment could go—it’s seriously a writer/reader’s dream. So I will live blog, and I’ll do it in honor of all you unfairly overlooked Floridians who have just as much appeal as the rest of the continental U.S. For real though. 🙂

      YES LAINI TAYLOR. *dies*

      The schedule is kind of funky… all of the stuff on the stages are open to everyone, because it’s outside. But the stuff that are “conversations” or indoors in theatres and lecture halls, you have to either get tickets for or wait in the standby line to get in. BUT those individual conversation tickets are free, so they go really fast. You can also buy festival passes for $35, and that allows you to get into ALL of the conversations, but I find that semi-ridiculous, because first of all, why would you pay $35 for tickets you could get for free, and second of all, that means when you want to see somebody especially awesome (John Green) you can’t because everyone (greedy nerdfighters, haha) have already booked all their tickets in advance with festival passes.

      ANYWAY, yes E.R. Warren! She commented just above you ^^ and I think both Kristin Yuki and Cara Olsen are going too. I get to see them more often, since we’ve already hung out a few times, but we’re going to meet up anyway. It’s all so exciting! I know this probably makes you hate me more than you might already, haha, but believe me when I say that I do really wish you could be there. Someday, you should really try to plan a trip to LA around this time of year. It’s worth it.

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