Sunday, June 25, 2017

0 YA Sunday Morning News: This Week for Writers 6/25/17

Hello, writers! It was a light week as far as YA news, but I’ve still got some great links to keep you motivated this summer.

If there’s a news story or blog post you found particularly interesting, or you want to share your thoughts on an article, send me a tweet. Or just stop by to say hello!


Writing for Publication—Queries and Submissions:

Writing for Publication—Book Marketing and Social Media:

Author Interviews:

Adventures in YA Publishing Author Interviews:

Literary Agent News and Interviews:

Writing and Pitch Contests:

Writing Craft:

Writing Inspiration:

Publishing News & Trends:

New YA E-Book Deals:

New YA Book Giveaways:

YA New Book Deals and Releases:

Just for Fun:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

0 Amanda K. Morgan, author of SUCH A GOOD GIRL, on doing what works for you

We had such a good time sitting down with Amanda K. Morgan to chat about her latest novel, SUCH A GOOD GIRL.

Amanda, what book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa? 

Simon Pulse compares the book to PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE, and I have to say they're both good comparisons. I'd also throw in GONE GIRL.

What do you hope readers will take away from SUCH A GOOD GIRL?

I write for enjoyment, so I hope people read my work and get the same feeling.

0 Thank You to the Participants and Mentors of the 1st 5 Pages Workshop!

Congratulations to all of the participants who worked so hard during our June 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop! And a big thanks to Connor Eck, our fabulous agent mentor. And as always, thank you to our talented and fabulous permanent mentors, who read, comment, and cheer on our participants every month!

Speaking of our wonderful mentors, we have exciting mentor news! GIRL ON THE VERGE, by our lovely mentor, Pintip Dunn, cones out on June 27! I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Our July workshop opens on Saturday, July 1. The workshop is designed to help writers struggling to find the right opening for their novel or for those looking to perfect the all important first five pages before submitting for publication. Why the first five pages? Because if these aren't perfect, no agent, editor, or reader will continue reading to find out how great the rest of your story really is!

Why is the First Five Pages Workshop a GREAT Opportunity?

  • You are mentored by at least two traditionally-published published or agented authors for the duration of the workshop. These authors have been through the trenches and know what it takes to get a book deal, solid reviews, and sales.
  • In addition, you receive feedback from the four other workshop participants.
  • Feedback is given not just on your initial submission, but on two subsequent opportunities to revise your manuscript based on the previous feedback so that you know you've got it right!
  • The final revision will also be reviewed by a literary agent, who will also give you feedback on the pitch for your story--the one that may eventually become your query letter or cover copy.
  • The best entry from among the workshop participants will receive a critique of the full first chapter or first ten pages from the mentoring agent, which may, in some cases, lead to requests for additional material.

How It Works

Please see the complete rules before entering the workshop, but in a nutshell, we'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. (Double check the formatting - each month we have to disqualify entries because of formatting.) Click here to get the rules. We will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman, @MelissWritesNow), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to the rotating team of our wonderful permanent author mentors, the final entry for each workshop participant will be critiqued by our agent mentor.

So get those pages ready, we usually fill up in under a minute!

Happy Writing (and revising!)


About the Author

Erin Cashman is AYAP's  1st 5 Pages Workshop coordinator, and a permanent mentor. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three kids, and an energetic rescue dog.

Her YA fantasy debut, THE EXCEPTIONALS, was named a Bank Street College of Education best book of the year. For up to date information about the workshop, you can follow Erin on twitter here

Friday, June 23, 2017

0 Confidence and the Writer, Musings from Author Catherine Egan

Author Catherine Egan joins us today to share some thoughts on what many consider to be an oxymoron: the confident writer. Whether you choose outlining, as she does, or another confidence booster, I'm sure you'll agree with Catherine that with each book, we have to convince ourselves we can write it.

Catherine is also celebrating her newest release, Julia Defiant, which is the second book in her Witch's Child series. So be sure to check it out below the post.

The Confidence Trick of Writing a Book, or Failing to Write a Book by Catherine Egan

My fifth book has just come out, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the writing strategies that make me feel safe. I’ve written every book the same way. Here are the well-worn steps I go through, deeply familiar and comforting to me by now:
  1. Lots of brainstorming and note-taking until I have the shape of the whole book in my head
  2. Make a very detailed, chapter-by-chapter outline
  3. Start drafting & update outline whenever I deviate from it
  4. Get to the end, then make an outline of the finished draft
  5. Plot revision using finished outline, and keep adjusting the outline as I revise and rewrite

Clearly, I am heavily dependent on my outlines. When I get stuck, I immediately go to my outline to fix the problem. I feel panicky as soon the story starts to move away from the map I’ve made, and then I have to stop and fix the outline before I can keep going forward. I cling to my outline like a life raft. This is the thing I need that will get me to shore.

But sometimes it doesn’t.

I’ve published five books now, and failed to write at least as many as that. I’ve used an outline every time. It doesn’t matter to me that the outline changes dramatically as I go along, and it doesn’t matter that it sometimes fails me. I’m still convinced I need it.

Lately I’ve been wondering what would happen if I didn’t use an outline. If I compare my first outline to the final outline, it’s obvious that I’m actually more than half-pantser, masquerading as a plotter. The outline has been my confidence trick. Can I write a book without it? Just go with an idea and see what happens? Can I ditch my floaties and throw myself off the dock, plunge into the cold, dark water and see if it will hold me up, or maybe see what I find down there at the bottom? Maybe because I’m becoming more confident, or maybe because I want to give myself a bit of a scare, the idea of it has been tugging at me lately. I imagine a graceless, panicky process, and I imagine myself emerging from it, gasping and flailing but triumphant, holding something beautiful.

Or maybe I’d drag myself out shivering and empty-handed and swear never to do that again, but I might be ready to find out. I’m mostly OK with failure. In fact, if there is one part of writing a book that I think I’m particularly good at, it’s failing to do so.

Here is the thing with failing to write a book: it sucks, it really does – it can feel like a heartbreaking waste of time and effort, a shattered dream – but also, it’s OK. Writing a book gets compared to having a child sometimes – people talk about their book babies, and it is true that just as every child is different, so is every book, and each one will require different things from you, challenge you in different ways. However, the analogy breaks down quickly, in a way that should be reassuring for all writers: if you completely mess up your book, it’s really not such a big deal. You can write another one. You can salvage the failed book for parts (also not recommended with children). You can let go and move on.

Writing a book is always a kind of confidence trick. You have to convince yourself that you can do it. You have to convince yourself that your way of doing it is the right way to do it. You have to convince yourself that failing doesn’t make you a failure. You have to convince yourself that you don’t suck, even when sometimes you do. You have to convince yourself that it’s worthwhile – that your story is worthwhile.

You convince yourself of all of this, and you write and write and write, and then sometimes at the end of all that writing (and all the procrastination and self-doubt and caffeine and Real Life interferences) somehow or other, there’s a book – this thing you made.

Then you do it all over again, but differently.

About the Book:
Julia and a mismatched band of revolutionaries, scholars, and thieves have crossed the world searching for a witch. But for all the miles traveled, they are no closer to finding Ko Dan. No closer to undoing the terrible spell he cast that bound an ancient magic to the life of a small child. Casimir wants that magic – will happily kill Theo to extract it – and every moment they hunt for Ko Dan, Casimir’s assassins are hunting them.

Julia can deal with danger. The thing that truly scares her lies within. Her strange ability to vanish to a place just out of sight has grown: she can now disappear so completely that it’s like stepping into another world. It’s a fiery, hellish world, filled with creatures who seem to recognize her – and count her as one of their own.

So is Julia a girl with a monster lurking inside her? Or a monster wearing the disguise of a girl?

If she can use her monstrous power to save Theo, does it matter?

In this riveting second book in the Witch’s Child trilogy, Catherine Egan goes deep within the heart of a fierce, defiant girl trying to discover not just who but what she truly is.

Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads

About the Author:

My books: JULIA DEFIANT, JULIA VANISHES, Shade & Sorceress, The Unmaking, Bone, Fog, Ash & Star
My blog:
My superpowers: high-kicking, list-making, simultaneously holding two opposing opinions
My weaknesses: fear of flying, over-thinking and then making bad decisions, excessive list-making
My allies: my made-for-walking-in black boots, Mick, the English Language
My enemies: decaf, low blood sugar, the passage of time
My mission: the coexistence of ambivalence and joy.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

0 The Blueprint for Writing a Novel from the First Five Pages to the End

I had the privilege of giving a workshop down in Tampa this past weekend, speaking about what genuinely has to go into the first five pages of a novel. After having been a founder and mentor of the First Five Pages workshop these past six years, I've seen a lot of openings, and a lot of mistakes. I've also seen a lot of brilliant stories that begin in the wrong place.

So what’s the recipe for the perfect first five pages? Where does it begin?

It starts with your protagonist, and it starts long before your story starts, way back at the point where your protagonist had the experience that set her up for failure. Because that's the true reason your readers are going to keep reading your book. They want to see whether that flaw in your character, the thing that holds her back, is going to keep her from achieving the goals that she needs to achieve in order to satisfy the story question that you set up in the initial pages of your novel.

At some point in her life, she was wounded. Hurt. She experienced something that changed the course of her life by giving her a false belief that she has acted on ever since.

Our job as writers is to peel back the onion on our protagonists current behavior to reveal not just the cause and effect that drives events in the present, but the deeper roots of that behavior that lie in the past. That means, that as a rule of thumb, there are going to be at least three seminal events from the past that you are going to have to unveil in the course of telling the story that takes place in the present. These events will reveal how she became the way that she is, how her wound has held her back, whether she knows it o not, and that in turn sets up the expectation that she could--and very likely will--fail to vanquish her inner demons this time as well. Because without doubt, there's no reason for the reader to keep reading.

So what is it that I, as the writer, need to know about my characters before I sit down to write those all important first five pages?

It doesn't matter whether I'm a plotter or a pantser, there are basic things that will have to drive my story forward. Those elements can be put in place on the first draft, or the sixth, but eventually, if I'm to have a successful story, they will need to be there.
  1. I have to know my character’s goals. Because characters without goals are dull. Without a goal, a character can’t really fail, and without failure, there’s no story. Or at least not one that people are actually going to want to read.
  2. I need to know what need those goals will fill. What does my character lack? This can be something external—an elixir if you’re writing a hero’s journey story, or knowledge, or a way to save the world. Or it can be something internal, love, or acceptance, or a family. But whatever it is, it has to be very, very specific to my character, not something that can be applied to everyone.
  3. I need to know what situation has precipitated the urgency for that lack. Why does my character need whatever she needs now as opposed to yesterday? What’s changed that drives her need? 
  4. What wound from the past is this goal and need going to expose? 
  5. How does that wound conspire to keep her from achieving her goals?
  6. How did she get that wound, what specific event, led her to have a misguided belief or warped view of the world that could ultimately be her downfall?
  7. What lesson does she need to learn (theme) before she can achieve success?
  8. How can she best learn that lesson in a way that will push her to the very point where failure looks certain and she stands on the brink of it with no guarantee of overcoming her worst instincts?
  9. Where is the logical point at which to bring the reader into the story? The point where things are about to change for the protagonist because something happens to push her into an action she wouldn’t normally have taken? An action that exposes both her need and goal?
The good news is that once you know those nine things and you set them up in the first chapter, you have a blueprint that you can follow to write your entire book. 

From those initial pages, you can get from one scene to another by asking a simple set of additional questions.
  1. What’s my characters immediate goal and her expectation for how she will go about achieving it?
  2. What happens to upend that expectation?
  3. Does she succeed in achieving her goal in this scene? If so, what’s the complication that necessitates creating a new goal? If she fails, why did she fail?
  4. If she fails, does she fail in a small, recoverable way, or does she fail spectacularly so that it creates a complete twist in were the story is going? (There should be at least three of those large reversals per book—the inciting incident, the midpoint, and the climax.)
  5. How does her wound impact the success or failure?
  6. What’s the outcome of this scene? How does it change what happens next In a way that will continue to push the buttons of the protagonists internal struggle?  (Every scene MUST change what happens next, and it must change it in a causal fashion, in other words, what happens next must happen BECAUSE of what happened before?
  7. What’s the emotional/internal impact of the scene? How does it effect the character’s misconception? What does she learn from her success or failure in this scene? (Every scene must effect her in some way.)
  8. What surprising thing do we learn about the character and her motivations in this scene?

Follow those questions, write the scenes based on these questions, and you get from one scene to the next and eventually end up with a book. A book full of trial and error and surprises, full of conflict and tension. A book in which eery scene ripples from what you set up in those early pages. 

Ultimately, regardless of the type of novel you are writing, whether it's a thriller, a fantasy, a dystopian, or a contemporary, your first pages and every page thereafter are an examination of WHY your protagonist is who she is and why she does the things she does. That's why "start with action" is the most misleading advise anyone can give a writer. That advise is too often interpreted as start with "big" action--explosions, death, something big. But a reader isn’t going to care if your protagonist gets blown up until they know and care about your protagonist and see the value in reading about her.

So that's your single biggest goal for those critical first five pages. Make the protagonist is novel-worthy. Make her extraordinary in some way. Make her funny, or smart, or kind, or a fantastic athlete, or a fantastic daughter or sister or friend. There has to be something about her that is not everyman. Also, there has to be something relatable. We have to be able to connect with what she wants. We have to see that she cares about something to make us care about her. 

And most critically, we have to understand why she cares.

That why not only has to make sense to the reader, it has to be different as well as plausible. It has to be surprising. Unusual. Because the reader is reading because she is looking to learn something about human nature, about herself, as she reads a book. The reader wants to be surprised.

That surprise comes into play in every aspect of the book, from the motivation of the characters to the story premise itself.

Which is why, at the very least, the first five pages of your novel can't be successfully written in their final form until after you know your story premise, your concept statement.

Try it. Put your character's problem and the situation that will expose it and challenge her to overcome it into the following framework:

When EXTERNAL STORY or QUEST forces CHARACTER to confront her INTERNAL PROBLEM or STAKES, the PLOT illustrates the THEME.

Write it and then go back and look at your first five pages and see what needs to be tweaked or changed.

Good luck and happy writing,


About the Author

Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She’s the award-winning author of the romantic southern gothic Heirs of Watson Island series, including Compulsion, Persuasion, and Illusion from Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse and of the Celtic Legends series for adult readers beginning with Lake of Destiny

She lives with her husband, children, and a lopsided cat, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the sorts of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, Quality Streets, and anything with Nutella on it. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

6 New Releases this week 06/19-06/25 plus Giveaway of SUCH A GOOD GIRL

Happy Monday! This week, we're featuring a few new releases and hosting a giveaway for SUCH A GOOD GIRL! There's some awesome books releasing this week so don't forget to check out all of them below.

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Kelly, Laura, Emily, Anisaa, and Lori Ann


* * * *

Such a Good Girl
by Amanda K. Morgan
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 6/20/2017

Pretty Little Liars meets Luckiest Girl Alive in this riveting novel about a practically perfect girl who is willing to do anything to make sure it stays that way. Absolutely anything.

Things to know about Riley Stone:

- Riley Stone is just about perfect. (Ask anyone.)
- She has a crush on her French teacher, Alex Belrose. (And she suspects he likes her, too.)
- Riley has her entire life planned out. (The plan is nonnegotiable.)
- She’s never had a secret she couldn’t keep. (Not ever.)
- Riley is sure that her life is on the right track. (And nothing will change that.)
- She’s nothing like a regular teenager. (But she doesn’t have any problem admitting that.)
- Riley doesn’t usually play games. (But when she does, she always wins.)

She thinks a game is about to start…
But Riley always has a plan…
And she always wins.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Such a Good Girl?

My favorite thing about SUCH A GOOD GIRL is Riley, the main character. She's probably the most interesting character I've ever written. Her motivations are very complex, and she has this relationship with her brother that is alternately competitive and loving, and similar feelings toward her friends. Writing someone like Riley was an absolute blast, and I wish I could say more without spoiling the book!

Purchase Such a Good Girl at Amazon
Purchase Such a Good Girl at IndieBound
View Such a Good Girl on Goodreads


Julia Defiant by Catherine Egan: Katherine S.
Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh: Mai B.
Roar by Cora Carmack: John S.
The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano: Courtney W.
Want by Cindy Pon: Danielle G.


* * * *

The Girl in Between
by Sarah Carroll
Kathy Dawson Books
Released 6/20/2017

Told in the naive voice of a homeless girl sheltered by her mother from the world, this is a moving debut perfect for fans of David Almond, A Monster Calls, and Room.

In an old, abandoned mill, a girl and her ma take shelter from their memories of life on the streets, and watch the busy world go by. The girl calls it the Castle because it's the biggest place they've ever stayed, a home of her own like no other. The windows are boarded up and the floorboards are falling in, but for her neither of those things matter.

Then developers show up, and it's clear that that their lives are about to change forever. Desperate to save their refuge from the Authorities and her mother from her own personal demons, the girl seeks out the ghosts of the mill. And with only Caretaker the old man who's slept outside the mill for decades around to answer her questions, she begins to wonder what kind of ghosts are haunting both the mill and her mother.

The Girl in Between is a compelling, witty, and at times heartbreaking novel that explores themes of loneliness and grief with effortless warmth and an unforgettable voice that will stick with you long after you've finished.

Purchase The Girl in Between at Amazon
Purchase The Girl in Between at IndieBound
View The Girl in Between on Goodreads

* * * *

Trusting You & Other Lies
by Nicole Williams
Crown Books for Young Readers
Released 6/20/2017

Phoenix can't imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years—do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?

On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum—the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he's impossible to figure out—and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he's promising Phoenix a summer she'll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?

Purchase Trusting You & Other Lies at Amazon
Purchase Trusting You & Other Lies at IndieBound
View Trusting You & Other Lies on Goodreads

* * * *

Two Roads from Here
by Teddy Steinkellner
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 6/20/2017

Five high school seniors. Two different roads. One life-changing decision. For fans of Tommy Wallach and Patrick Ness comes a thoughtful, funny novel that explores what happens to five teens when they choose the road…and the road not taken.

Should Brian play in Friday’s football game, even though his head really hurts?

Should Allegra commit to college now that her mother’s illness has returned?

Should Cole cheat on the SATs for a chance to get into his dream school?

Should Nikki go all the way with her boyfriend?

Should Wiley tell his best friend that he loves her and risk losing her completely?

These five seniors are about to have an opportunity people only dream about: to experience two potential outcomes of a life-altering decision.

Purchase Two Roads from Here at Amazon
Purchase Two Roads from Here at IndieBound
View Two Roads from Here on Goodreads

Sunday, June 18, 2017

0 YA Sunday Morning News: This Week for Writers 6/18/17

Happy Sunday, writers!

We've reached the half-way point in June and the pipeline of new YA book releases is going strong! I have interviews below with these debut and seasoned authors, as well as YA adaptation news, and our regular scheduled programming of links on writing craft and publishing trends.

If there’s a news story or blog post you found particularly interesting, or you want to share your thoughts on an article, send me a tweet. Or just stop by to say hello!


Writing for Publication—Queries and Submissions:

Writing for Publication—Book Marketing and Social Media:

Author Interviews:

Adventures in YA Publishing Author Interviews:

Literary Agent News and Interviews:

Writing and Pitch Contests:

  • Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshops via Brenda Drake: A quick reminder that Pitch Wars opens on August 2, and if you’re polishing your manuscript and query, check out this archive of critiques to help you along. 

Writing Craft:

Writing Inspiration:

Publishing News & Trends:

New YA E-Book Deals:

New YA Book Giveaways:

YA Book Awards and Congratulations:

YA New Book Deals and Releases:

Just for Fun:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

0 Cora Carmack, author of ROAR, on writing things that scare her

We're excited to have Cora Carmack with us to give us the scoop on her YA debut, ROAR.

Cora, what was your inspiration for writing ROAR?

I grew up in Texas in Tornado Alley. From a really young age, I was fascinated with storms. I would always beg to sit on the front porch and watch the clouds for funnels. So, one day during an interview, I was talking about how I’d always wanted to write a book about storm chasers, but hadn’t had the chance because it would require so much research. Then I jokingly said that maybe it would be easier to write a fantasy book about magic storms, and then I could just make up the research. Almost immediately, the idea of magic storms took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Because what’s more beautiful and devastating than a storm? ANSWER: A MAGIC storm.

0 Julie Eshbaugh, author of OBSIDIAN AND STARS, on trusting your instincts

OBSIDIAN AND STARS is the sequel to IVORY AND BONE, and we're pleased to have Julie Eshbaugh swing by to talk about it.

Julie, what did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

Working on Obsidian and Stars taught me to trust my instincts. Originally, when I first thought to write a story set in prehistory, I planned for it to be two books. But once the first book, Ivory and Bone, was in the world, I decided I wanted to expand my original idea to three books and make it a trilogy. I love the world of the books so much, I didn’t want to leave it. But then when I wrote Obsidian and Stars, I realized that the story was always meant to be two books—one from Kol’s point of view, and one from Mya’s point of view. To add a third book would have meant forcing the story to be something it wasn’t. So I trusted my instincts, and I let Obsidian and Stars close out the series, which is now a duology.

0 Keely Hutton, author of SOLDIER BOY, on Dory’s mantra of JUST KEEP SWIMMING

We are honored to have Keely Hutton here to share more about her debut novel, SOLDIER BOY, which tells the story of Ricky Richard Anywar. In addition, we are privileged to have Ricky here to talk about working with Keely to tell his story.

Keely, what was your inspiration for writing SOLDIER BOY?

Short answer: Ricky.

Long answer: In 2012, my cousin emailed me about Ricky, who he’d met while working with non-profit organizations in Africa. Ricky was looking for a writer to tell the story of his time as a child soldier. Five minutes into our first Skype conversation, I knew I wanted to help Ricky give a voice to the thousands of children whose voices were stolen by Kony and the LRA. Ricky and I have been working together on SOLDIER BOY ever since.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

There were many scenes in SOLDIER BOY that were emotionally difficult to write, but one that hit me the hardest was the scene when Ricky and his brother are forced to watch their parents and sisters die at the hands of the LRA. As a writer, I try to emotionally connect with the characters, in hopes that my emotional connection will extend through the characters to my readers. I sobbed writing the last moments between Ricky and Patrick’s mother and her sons. As a mother of two boys, it was heartbreaking to imagine her fear and pain in that moment, knowing not only what awaited her, but the terrible, uncertain fate her sons would be forced to face without her.

0 Kimberly McCreight, author of THE SCATTERING, on an extremely long and exceedingly bumpy road to publication

THE SCATTERING is book 2 in the Outliers series, and we're delighted to have Kimberly McCreight stop by to chat about it.

Kimberly, what is your favorite thing about THE SCATTERING?

My favorite thing about The Scattering is probably the way that Wylie’s personal journey dovetails with the action and adventure of the story. The Outliers trilogy looks at how the world might react if we discovered women possessed an ability—Heightened Emotional Intelligence— that men did not. But it is also the story of one girl trying to make sense of herself in the world, the way we all must do. It’s this push and pull between the broader and more intimate themes that I like the most about the way the book works.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

Like many writers, my road to publication was extremely long and exceedingly bumpy. It took me over ten years and five completed novels before I ever sold one to a publisher. That first novel was Reconstructing Amelia, my first adult novel.

0 Elle Cosimano, author of THE SUFFERING TREE, on there being a time to be brave and take risks

We're thrilled to have Elle Cosimano here to tell us more about her latest novel, THE SUFFERING TREE.

Elle, what was your inspiration for writing THE SUFFERING TREE?

While chaperoning my son’s school field trip to an apple orchard, the bus rolled by this very old and picturesque cemetery in Westmoreland, VA. In the middle of this beautiful green field was a cluster of graves around an old, dead tree. I couldn't get this tree out of my mind. It was gnarled and broken, the bark bleached white. Beneath it lay a handful of worn, mossy, leaning headstones, so old that I couldn’t make out the dates on them when I returned the next day for a second look. I wondered what had happened to the tree—why it had died and no one had cut it down, why no one had bothered to tend to the cemetery or farm the field around it, who was buried there and forgotten. And after a few days of asking myself "what if", the story of The Suffering Tree was born. You can see more pics of the cemetery that inspired The Suffering Tree by clicking here.

0 Catherine Egan, author of JULIA DEFIANT, on unlocking the next book

JULIA DEFIANT is book 2 in the The Witch's Child series, and we're excited to have Catherine Egan join us to share more about it.

Catherine, what scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

There is a scene in the middle of the book when several of the characters are at the Shou-shu monastery, a betrayal is revealed, and Bianka hands her baby son Theo to Julia. It’s a huge moment emotionally, because Bianka chooses to trust Julia – who betrayed her and kidnapped her son once before – with Theo’s life. But it’s also happening in the middle of a lot of action and fighting. Fight scenes are always tough – you want the writing to flow as fast as the fight, but you also need the important details in there. Scenes with a lot of characters present are hard too – you have to figure out the staging of it, what everybody is doing, make sure everybody is present and the reader has the full picture, but without bogging the scene down with description. That scene was really hard to pull off – a lot of action, a lot of characters, and this key emotional moment between two of the characters. I rewrote it so many times, but I am happy with it now.

My favorite scenes are often the ones that came the easiest – they seem to appear fully formed and don’t require much revision. Two of my favorite scenes from this book are when a super-creepy witch delves into Julia’s memories, and when Julia and her brother have a necessary conversation about their parents and their lives on the walls of the city. I also really love the final scene of the book, but I don’t want to give a spoilery description of that one!

Friday, June 16, 2017

0 Strengthen Your Verbs and Your Writing by L.E. Sterling

It's a struggle every writer faces: keeping your word choices fresh while making them the strongest they can be. It's even more important for verbs as they carry the weight of our action and set the pace for the reader. Author L.E. Sterling is here today to share some great advice for keeping these verbs active and the reader reading. Be sure to check out her newest release, True North, book two in the True Born Trilogy, at the end of the post!

Giving Words Life: Editing for Passive Voice and Verb Strength by L.E. Sterling

This post is for emerging writers who are having trouble diagnosing the problem with their prose. Put it another way, why isn’t the world in your head leaping off the page? You might be wondering about the strength of your character development, your world building, or your plot. But often, problems with prose can be traced right back to the mechanics of your sentences, and can be fixed by following a few basic suggestions. One of the most important ones is editing for passive sentence constructions.

I thought I knew how to write when I finally learned this simple lesson. I had already completed two university degrees after all, a B.A. and an M.A. in Creative Writing. I’d written scores of essays, and had published a novel, short stories, poetry, and dozens of articles. Then I found myself in a PhD program in English Literature. My supervisor had a knack for helping his students develop beautifully written work by helping them understand the mechanics of writing. His lesson on passive sentence construction has served me very well ever since.