Friday, August 4, 2023

Make Your Story Take Flight with Torrey Maldonado

Torrey Maldonado is the author of popular books for young readers, including WHAT LANE?. His newest book, HANDS is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, won a starred School Library Journal review and is a “Best New Book of 2023”. Learn more at

This session is packed with good gems of advice from Torrey. Here are a few:

Torrey's mom always told him, he belonged. She could see he had imposter syndrome. For his mom, she had road blocks, so she was sure to  tell Torrey that he belonged. Torrey hopes you carry that with you, that any space you are in, you belong. 

As writers, many of us get anxious to speak or share. Torrey's tip is: Don't fight the energy, invite the energy. He even uses the energy of music to invite his words to take flight. 

And here we can see Torrey bring the energy as he talks about some writing advice he got watching Daredevil. 

Practice the power of the pause, so you can see how engaged your audience is. 

Torrey shares that when we write with musicality, not only do we create universality, but the readers will remember it better. 

Some tools Torrey used when crafting his books:
  • Mya Angelou's words: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." These are words Torrey takes with him when he writes and reads his work to others. 
  • A tip he received from the producer of one of his audio books. He suggested to think of each character as a feeling. To put each feeling into each character. What's the one feeling you want to get from each? Torrey says this will help you hit your readers "heart keys."
  • A set of questions Torrey asks every time he writes or recites: 
    • Am I delivering the emotion that I want the reader to feel? 
    • Is what I'm writing or reciting fast? How could it feel faster? 
    • Will a reader want to skip this part? 
    • What about this part will readers want to read (to hear more of)?
If you want to view this session to hear the full content, along with the rest of the conference, register at Replays of the conferences will be available until September 10, 2023. 

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