Tuesday, June 28, 2016

0 FOUR ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS FOR YOUR FIRST FIVE PAGES

Today we are delighted to have Stasia Ward Kehoe, author of AUDITION and THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, (and 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop Mentor!) share her insight on the 4 essential elements needed in the 1st 5 pages of a manuscript! 

FOUR ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS FOR YOUR FIRST FIVE PAGES:
When you discuss in-progress manuscripts, you see passion for cool characters, twisty plots, even unique settings, sparkle in authors’ eyes. Yet, those self-same writers often struggle to translate their energy onto the opening pages of their novels so that readers become equally excited. Here are two common reasons WHY:

1.      The author is so steeped in the story that he or she loses touch with the reader’s viewpoint. (E.g., “Isn’t it obvious to the reader that the MC is a sixteen-year-old blind girl?” NOT unless you wrote it down!)

2.      The author is “saving” the BIG surprise for a later page. Truth: That classic “inverted check” plot arc--rising and falling action bookending a climax--is not license to make ANY PAGE static, unnecessary or merely set-up. For today’s media-savvy YA readers, weak or slow openings can be the kiss of death.

So, how does one render an agent, editor and reader unable to resist turning those first pages? By making sure to include these 4 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS of a strong opening:

1.      ANCHOR readers in time and place. Readers want to know if they are in the past or present, in a world that is realistic or fantastic. You can forge this anchor with a mere fifteen or twenty words. What words? Those which are world-specific, such as “District 12” and “Peacekeepers” in Suzanne Collins’s first chapter of The Hunger Games.  Or words which give readers sensory details about landscape and climate, and a sense of the main character’s physical location within this world.

EXAMPLE:  I hate First Friday. It makes the village crowded and now, in the heat of high summer, that’s the last thing anyone wants. From my place in the shade it isn’t so bad, but the stink of bodies…is enough to make milk curdle.

                                      --- THE RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard

2.      REVEAL key elements of your main character’s identity. Is s/he good or bad? Happy or sad? Is she a television model? A ghost hunter? A clone? Use words that refer to a character’s participation in a job or club, his or her unusual physical attributes or talents. Reference a recent or upcoming key life event. Give readers enough information so that they feel empathy, compassion, concern, or another strong emotion inspiring them to continue journeying with your character.

EXAMPLE: I taped the commercial back in April, before anything had happened, and promptly forgot about it. A few weeks ago, it had started running, and suddenly, I was everywhere…I stare at myself on the screen as I was five months earlier, looking for any difference, some visible proof of what had happened to me…The camera moved in, closer and closer, until all you could see was my face, the rest dropping away. This had been before that night, before everything had happened with Sophie, before this long, lonely summer of secrets and silence.
  
--- JUST LISTEN by Sarah Dessen


3.      ESTABLISH your genre. Often, I read first pages which seem contemporary while the synopsis reveals a story that is going to turn dystopian or paranormal. While twists are great, you should let readers know whether they are about to embark on a romance or a horror story. Otherwise, they may ultimately feel misled or simply bored by a story in a genre they don’t love. Again, authors: Remember your readers’ viewpoints.

EXAMPLE: The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway – no pun intended….I know what to look for, because I’ve seen just about every variety of spook and spectre you can imagine…He’s perfectly pleasant…but when we get to that bridge, he’ll be as angry and ugly as anyone you’ve ever seen. It’s reported that his ghost, dubbed unoriginally as the County 12 Hitchhiker, has killed at least a dozen people…

--- ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake

4.      ADD an element of tension. Once you have connected readers with your MC, genre and world, make them feel that tingle of “OH! WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?” motivation to turn the page. Introducing a subplot, motif or conflict that will ultimately be part of the larger story is an excellent choice here.

EXAMPLE: “This is the last,” proclaimed Antoinette from her bed. “I will have no more mice babies. They are such the disappointment. They are hard on my beauty. They ruin, for me, my looks. This is the last one. No more.”
“The last one,” said the father. “And he’ll be dead soon. He can’t live. Not with his eyes open like that.”
But, reader, he did live.
This is his story.

--- THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX by Kate DiCamillo



The more you read strong examples of authors who successfully incorporate these essential four elements into their opening chapters, the more you will discover how to do this in your own work. Happy writing!

Stasia Ward Kehoe is the author of AUDITION and THE SOUND OF LETTING GO from Viking (Penguin Random House). She can be found online at www.stasiawardkehoe.com or in-person writing in spurts between carpooling, laundry, and cooking for four hungry sons. She lives in a horsey suburb of Seattle, WA, but is allergic to horses (See? Tension!)

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

Congratulations to all of the participants who worked so hard during our June 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop! And a big thanks to our wonderful guest mentors, NYT bestselling author Nancy Holder, and the fabulous Pete Knapp of New Leaf Literary. Both provided fantastic critiques. As always, thank you to our talented and fabulous permanent mentors, who read, comment, and cheer on our participants every month!

Our July workshop will open for entries on Saturday, July 2 at noon, EST. 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. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our permanent mentors, we have Amy Nichols as our author mentor, and Tanusri Prasanna as our agent mentor. So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute!

Happy writing (and revising!)

Erin 

Monday, June 27, 2016

0 Exclusive trailer reveal for PAPER AND FIRE by Rachel Caine

Years ago, I blew through Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series like I was the wind itself, so I was excited when the New York Times bestselling author turned her writing talents to YA with the The Morganville Vampires series. Then last year Rachel introduced a thrilling new YA series with INK AND BONE. Now it’s almost time for the second installment in the The Great Library series, since PAPER AND FIRE releases next week. I can’t wait!

But first!! Adventures in YA Publishing is honored to host the exclusive reveal of the trailer for PAPER AND FIRE. Check it out:


So cool! And it sounds like readers are in for another exciting ride!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Paper and Fire
by Rachel Caine
Hardcover
NAL
Released 7/5/2016

In Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history…

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

Purchase Paper and Fire at Amazon
Purchase Paper and Fire at IndieBound
View Paper and Fire on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Caine's rich, diverse bibliography of more than 45 books in print covers many categories and genres. She started out writing horror and fantasy as Roxanne Longstreet (Stormriders, The Undead, Red Angel, Cold Kiss, Slow Burn) before switching to the name Roxanne Conrad and publishing romantic suspense and mystery (Copper Moon, Bridge of Shadows, Exile). By 2003, she began to publish under her current pseudonym, specializing in urban fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal young adult fiction. 

She has been writing original fiction since the age of fourteen, and professionally published since 1991. She graduated from Socorro High School in El Paso Texas (where she was a UIL all-state champion in music and journalism) and went on to earn an accounting degree from Texas Tech University. She played professionally as a musician for several years once out of college, but ultimately gave up the music for writing.

She's had a varied "day job" career, including web design, graphic arts, accounting, payroll management, insurance investigation, and (most recently) corporate communications and crisis management. (It all counts as research.)

Rachel loves reading, writing, and mild amounts of arithmetic when required ... but she has a special place in her heart for history, music, and science, and you'll find those themes in many of her works. 

2 New Releases this week 6/27-7/04

Hello everyone! There are no new giveaways this week but never fear, we have 7 great releases to feature this week! We will also be featuring an exclusive trailer reveal for a NYT bestselling author this afternoon, as well as an interview with Amanda Panitch, author of NEVER MISSING, NEVER FOUND later this week. Don't forget to check out all the new releases and add them to your TBR!

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Lindsey, Martina, Jocelyn, Erin, Susan, Sam, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES THIS WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

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Never Missing, Never Found
by Amanda Panitch
Hardcover
Random House Books for Young R
Released 6/28/2016

Some choices change everything. Scarlett chose to run. And the consequences will be deadly.

Stolen from her family as a young girl, Scarlett was lucky enough to eventually escape her captor. Now a teen, she's starting a summer job at an amusement park. There are cute boys, new friends, and the chance to finally have a normal life.

Her first day on the job, Scarlett is shocked to discover that a girl from the park has gone missing. Old memories come rushing back. And now as she meets her new coworkers, one of the girls seems strangely familiar. When Scarlett chose to run all those years ago, what did she set into motion? And when push comes to shove, how far will she go to uncover the truth . . . before it's too late?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Never Missing, Never Found?

My favorite thing about NEVER MISSING, NEVER FOUND is that, so far, pretty much all of my reviews say that the ending came as a complete shock. One of the things reviews of my first novel, DAMAGE DONE, said consistently was that the reader often figured out the twist at the end before the end. The ending of NMNF actually came as a shock to me, too - I'd originally written it with a different twist ending in mind - so it's thrilling to hear it's surprising readers, too!

Purchase Never Missing, Never Found at Amazon
Purchase Never Missing, Never Found at IndieBound
View Never Missing, Never Found on Goodreads

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Shadows of the Dark Crystal
by J.M. Lee
Hardcover
Grosset & Dunlap
Released 6/28/2016

The first series of original novels ever set in the world of Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal.

Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: Shadows of the Dark Crystal is set years before the events of the classic film and follows the journey of a young Gelfling woman who leaves her secluded home to uncover the truth surrounding the disappearance of her brother who has been accused of treason by the sinister Skeksis Lords.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Shadows of the Dark Crystal?

As a writer and as a fan, my favorite part of the whole experience of writing SHADOWS OF THE DARK CRYSTAL was being able to both live in and help create a world that has been a part of my life for so long. Jim Henson's THE DARK CRYSTAL was a favorite film of mine as a child, so being involved in the expansion of the universe has been an amazing experience.

Purchase Shadows of the Dark Crystal at Amazon
Purchase Shadows of the Dark Crystal at IndieBound
View Shadows of the Dark Crystal on Goodreads


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES THIS WEEK


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A Season for Fireflies
by Rebecca Maizel
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 6/28/2016

A year ago, Penny Berne was the star of her high school’s theater department, surrounded by a group of misfit friends and falling in love for the first time. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, her new best friend is the most popular girl in school, and her first love, Wes, ignores her. Penny is revered and hated. Then, in a flash, a near-fatal lightning strike leaves Penny with no memory of the past year—or how she went from drama nerd to queen bee.

As a record number of fireflies light up her town and her life, Penny realizes she may be able to make things right again—and that even if she can’t change the past, she can learn to see the magic where she never could before.

This captivating new novel about first love, second chances, and the power of memory is perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall and Katie Cotugno’s How to Love.

Purchase A Season for Fireflies at Amazon
Purchase A Season for Fireflies at IndieBound
View A Season for Fireflies on Goodreads

* * * *


And I Darken
by Kiersten White
Hardcover
Delacorte Press
Released 6/28/2016

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

Purchase And I Darken at Amazon
Purchase And I Darken at IndieBound
View And I Darken on Goodreads

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Before We Go Extinct
by Karen Rivers
Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 6/28/2016

Grief can sometimes feel like being caught in the jaws of a great white shark.

J.C., who goes by the nickname Sharky, has been having a hard time ever since his best friend died in front of him in what might or might not have been an accident. Shell-shocked, Sharky spends countless hours holed up in his room, obsessively watching documentaries about sharks and climate change—and texting his dead friend.

Hoping a change of location will help, Sharky’s mom sends him to visit his dad on a remote island in Canada. There, Sharky meets a girl who just may show him how to live—and love—again.

Purchase Before We Go Extinct at Amazon
Purchase Before We Go Extinct at IndieBound
View Before We Go Extinct on Goodreads

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The Darkest Magic
by Morgan Rhodes
Hardcover
Razorbill
Released 6/28/2016

In the second installment of New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes's highly acclaimed Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, danger looms and the mystery deepens as two warring evils vie for possession of one elusive, powerful book.

Modern-day Toronto: Sisters Crystal and Becca Hatcher are reunited after reclaiming the Bronze Codex and narrowly escaping death. They have no one to trust but each other, and the only thing keeping them safe is the book that sent Becca's spirit to Ancient Mytica--the same book that their enemies would kill them for.

Ancient Mytica: Maddox grapples to keep his newly discovered powers under control, while the ruthless goddess Valoria hunts him down.

Modern-day Toronto: Farrell embraces his dark side as he unwittingly falls further under the spell of Markus, the mastermind leader of the nefarious Hawkspear Society, who will stop at nothing to find Crys and Becca--and the remarkable book in their possession.

Purchase The Darkest Magic at Amazon
Purchase The Darkest Magic at IndieBound
View The Darkest Magic on Goodreads

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United as One
by Pittacus Lore
Hardcover
HarperCollins
Released 6/28/2016

The Mogadorian invasion has come to Earth, and they have all but won the battle for our planet. Their warships loom over our most populous cities—like New York City, Tokyo, Moscow, Beijing, and New Delhi—and no army will risk making a move against them. The Garde are all that stand in their way . . . but they are no longer alone in this fight. Human teens from across the globe, like John Smith’s best friend, Sam Goode, have begun to develop Legacies of their own.

The Garde have always known there is power in numbers. If they can find these new allies and join forces with them, they just might be able to win this war. The time has come for the Garde to make their final stand.

Purchase United as One at Amazon
Purchase United as One at IndieBound
View United as One on Goodreads

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Winning
by Lara Deloza
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 6/28/2016

Whoever said being nice would get you to the top?

Certainly not Alexandra Miles. She isn’t nice, but she’s more than skilled at playing the part. She floats through the halls of Spencer High, effortlessly orchestrating the actions of everyone around her, making people bend to her whim without even noticing they’re doing it. She is the queen of Spencer High—and it’s time to make it official.

Alexandra has a goal, you see—Homecoming Queen. Her ambitions are far grander than her small town will allow, but homecoming is just the first step to achieving total domination. So when peppy, popular Erin Hewett moves to town and seems to have a real shot at the crown, Alexandra has to take action.

With the help of her trusted friend Sam, she devises her most devious plot yet. She’ll introduce an unexpected third competitor in the mix, one whose meteoric rise—and devastating fall—will destroy Erin’s chances once and for all. Alexandra can run a scheme like this in her sleep. What could possibly go wrong?

Purchase Winning at Amazon
Purchase Winning at IndieBound
View Winning on Goodreads


Saturday, June 25, 2016

0 Donna Freitas, author of UNPLUGGED, on writing being about habits

We're thrilled to have Donna Freitas with us to share more about her latest novel UNPLUGGED.

Donna, what was your inspiration for writing UNPLUGGED?

I’m a bit obsessed with technology, and the ways that people are constantly connected to their phones, looking at their phones, connecting to a virtual space as opposed to looking around and paying attention to the real world around them. I started to wonder if one day we might all decide to leave our bodies behind to plug ourselves into virtual reality permanently. Then I wondered what would happen if people were plugged in as children, even at birth, and would never know what it’s like to be in the real body. I realized I wanted to write a character who’d done this, and who was now returning to her real body and having to discover what it’s like to be in the real body all over again, and discover the real world with it.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

1 Thank You, Red Light/Green Light Entrants!

Thank you so much to all who entered Red Light/Green Light today!

This coming Thursday, check back here to discover who our 50 competitors are, and to read their 50 First Lines. Very best of luck to you all, and thanks again for your participation!

24 Red Light/Green Light Contest OPENS TODAY

Red Light/Green Light officially opens TODAY as of Noon EST/9am Pacific Time. The first 25 entries received during this window will be admitted into the contest. Our second submission window begins at 3pm EST/Noon Pacific Time, during which we will also accept the first 25 entries received, for a total of 50 first round competitors.

Don't forget, our grand prize is a FULL REQUEST WITH NOTES from our judging agent, Kelly Peterson of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Entries time stamped before the first window's opening time will not qualify. Regrettably, neither will those sent after the contest spaces fill up. You ARE permitted to enter during both submission windows, but please only submit once per window. Entries submitted twice within a submission window will be disqualified.

Red Light/Green Light is open to completed YA, NA, and MG manuscripts.

For a full contest schedule/guidelines, please proceed here.

During the entry windows, submissions should be emailed to ayaplit(at)gmail(dot)com. Please format as follows.

ENTRY FORMATTING


Please type AYAP CONTEST ENTRY in the email subject line for your entry.

Name: Use your real name, and add a pen name in brackets if applicable.

Genre: Please include age category as well as genre. Example: YA Contemporary, NA Romance, MG Suspense.

Title: Your title.

Query Letter/3 Paragraph Pitch: Please include your query letter/3 paragraph pitch, minus any personalization. You do not need to include any biographical information--just the bones of your story, please.

First Page/First 250 Words: Please include your first page (up to 250 words--if a sentence cuts off at the 250 word mark, you may go a few words over to finish it).

Good luck! Can't wait to see your openings, and Happy Writing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

4 We Eat Our Own

The first thing you see on Shannon Lee Alexander's website is her banner: Writer of stories with heart, humor, and hope. Always hope. Today we welcome Shannon Lee Alexander, author of LIFE AFTER JULIET, as she shares her success story and why it was based on the hope she found thanks to a great group of cannibalistic writers!

"If you’re a writer who feels like you have hit a writing plateau...Find a tough-love writing group. Gold stars and compliments feel good, but they don’t improve our writing...Then...tear those characters’ lives apart so you can put them back together in the greatest story ever written!"


Thank you, Adventures in YA Publishing, for inviting me to hang out here on the blog today!


I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life. One of my earliest memories is of learning to read. I remember it was an early morning, and I’d snuck into my parents’ bathroom with Dr. Seuss’s ABC book. I sat on the edge of the tub in the morning light and tried to read the book by myself. I wanted to surprise my parents when they woke by reading to them. There were some pretty tricky words in there that had me flustered as I tried to sound them out. But as my parents snored softly in the next room, I was blinking back tears because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t figure out the words on the letter Q page (stupid letter Q)! I forced myself to take a deep breath and refocus.

"And then, BAM! It was like a light was turned on. I could read."


Okay, so perhaps it was my father turning on the bathroom light. And maybe he helped me sound out the words that were tripping me up, but the pride I felt as I read along with him is something I’ve never forgotten. And the worlds that reading opened up for me, the places I could go from the comfort of my own bedroom, kept me coming back for more.


That morning I became a reader. I devoured every book I could get my hands on. Reading was my thing. Making the transition from reader to professional writer over the past few years has been somewhat difficult. The number one tool that has made the biggest impact on my writing, that which I credit for turning me from a reader who sometimes wrote stuff into an “author,” is my writing group.

"The number one tool that has made the biggest impact on my writing...is my writing group."


When I moved to Indiana, I knew no one outside my husband and two kids. No one. That loneliness spurred me to start making some connections. I reached out to the Indiana chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), an international group with local chapters across the globe, asking if any writing groups might have an opening for a newbie writer.


At the time, I had a draft of what is now Love and Other Unknown Variables (LAOUV) completed and one shiny rejection from an agent. That was the sum total of my writing experience. Until meeting my writing group, I’d never had writer friends. Thankfully, a group in Indianapolis took me in. Shortly thereafter, we named ourselves the YA Cannibals and gave ourselves our motto: We Eat Our Own.

"We named ourselves the YA Cannibals and gave ourselves our motto: We Eat Our Own"


The Cannibals are tough critics. They never avoid telling me the sometimes harsh truths about my stories. However, they are all invested in my stories, the characters, and most importantly, me. Over the past five years, we’ve become very close, even through shake-ups and mix-ups. We’re a writing family that pushes each other to be our best. I’d rather have a fellow YA Cannibal make my story bleed than see it rejected over and again by editors. An knowing that the Cannibals are working over my stories, leaves me with more confidence that by the time I’m ready to submit, I know my story is as tight and strong as I can make it.


That draft of LAOUV I submitted when I joined the Cannibals was almost completely rewritten due to their advice and help (I think only one scene survived unscathed). The cannibalized version of LAOUV caught the attention of some literary agents, helping me find my agent match in Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency.

"The cannibalized version of LAOUV is what sold to Entangled Teen two weeks into the submission process. And that cannibalized version is what is now sitting on bookshelves in stores across the globe...But it wouldn’t have gone anywhere if I’d continued to work in a vacuum."


It’s mind blowing, really, to think of all the places my story has traveled, places I’ll probably never see in my lifetime! But it wouldn’t have gone anywhere if I’d continued to work in a vacuum. My story needed the love and care (and utter destruction) that came from other writers reading and critiquing it (numerous times).


I believe the YA Cannibals have helped me grow as a writer. I’m a better critical reader and thinker from the years of reading their stories and offering my own advice, too. And I am more aware of my own common writing pitfalls. Often when writing, I can hear their voices in my head complaining as I let my characters “sit and think” too much. When I let my sense of humor get too crazy and hyperbolic, I can see them pulling on invisible reins, reminding me that less is more. And when I slip into purple prose, stinking up my story with cheap, dime store perfume, I envision a whole chorus of eye rolls.

"Knowing my weaknesses allows me to avoid them."


Knowing my weaknesses allows me to avoid them (or at least, has taught me to carry a ladder with me for when I fall face first into my personal writing pitfalls, so I can climb back out). If you’re a writer who feels like you may have hit a writing plateau, my advice is to find a tough-love writing group. Gold stars and compliments feel good, but they don’t improve our writing. Find writers who will love your characters as much as you. Then, together, tear those characters’ lives apart so you can put them back together in the greatest story ever written!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Life After Juliet
by Shannon Lee Alexander
Hardcover
Entangled Teen
Released 7/5/2016

Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people...

Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.

As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world...and happy endings aren't always guaranteed.

The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.

Purchase Life After Juliet on IndieBound

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter).



She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. Math makes her break out in a sweat.



Love and Other Unknown Variables is her debut novel. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.

Shannon is the author of LIFE AFTER JULIET and LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES.

Website  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Twitter


-posted by Michelle Taylor-

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

6 10 Writing Pitfalls from the Mentors of the 1st 5 Pages Workshop

Each month the mentors of the 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop read and comment on the first 5 pages of Workshop participants’ manuscripts, and participants have the opportunity to revise their pages twice based on the feedback of the mentors and the other participants, and to submit a pitch for comment as well. With the last revision, the participants also get feedback from a literary agent. While the manuscripts differ widely, a lot of the problems with the openings are the same.

Here are some of the most common issues the mentors and agents find in work submitted for the workshop:

1. Starting in the wrong place:
This is one of the most common problems, and to be honest, it is something most of us struggle with in our own opening pages. Some writers start too soon, offering so much back story that after reading those critical first five pages the reader still has no idea what the story is about or even the genre of the work. Other writers start too late, as Mentor Holly Bodger finds. In that case, the reader is confused, trying to understand what’s going on. In both cases, often the reader (including agents and editors) will stop reading. It may take many drafts to find the perfect starting point. Martina Boone suggests looking for the moment just before something changes, and creating a scene that allows you to see what the main character is like before that change occurs. Finding the right place to start is among the most difficult tasks in writing a story, because the writer already knows everything. That can make it difficult to gauge what information and impressions the reader is taking away. That’s where having many readers—or something like the 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop—is invaluable. Listen to the advice of other writers and readers, and be willing to make changes. Often in the workshop, after listening to the mentors advice, a participant throws out their initial pages and starts someplace entirely new—and it almost always pays off!

2. Starting with a static opening:
We’ve all heard the advice to “start with action.” Many writers think this means we need to begin with something explosive and eye-opening, and that often results in starting the story too late. What this advice really means is that an opening where the main character isn’t engaged in doing something is rarely going to work. Static openings are dull and rarely hook a reader. Mentor Stephanie Scott advises writers to avoid “set up pages” such as the protagonist traveling to a destination and thinking about her life but not doing anything until she gets out of the car/off the train, when the story truly starts. I often see the morning routine in opening pages—waking up, brushing of teeth, thinking about the day. Ask yourself whether the manuscript would be stronger or more interesting if you wove the backstory into an active scene. Most often the answer is a resounding yes.

3. A confusing start to the manuscript:
Once again, start with action is common—and good—advice. However, the pitfall with starting with a car chase or big action scene is that the reader has no idea why that scene is taking place and doesn’t have enough of a connection to your character to care about the outcome. Action can be your protagonist pacing in her room, looking out the window, wondering if she should run away, jump, fly out it, meet X . . . you get the idea. In that type of a scene, you are presenting the reader with a central story issue—should I leave or go, should I meet X—basically, it is a before and after moment for your character, which will draw the reader in. From there, back story, or world building, can be woven in seamlessly. Stephanie Scott also advises to always name those characters early! We often see submissions where we don’t know who the main character is after several pages. Not knowing name, age, or gender can add to a reader’s confusion and make it difficult to become invested in the story.

4. Relying on overused tropes:
Mentors Lisa Gail Green and Rob Vlock both advise to avoid the use of the types of scenes you’ve seen frequently in other published novels. (And if you aren’t reading a LOT of recently published novels in the genre and age range in which you are writing, you absolutely should be!) Too often workshop submissions start with a character dreaming or waking up. Because these beginnings have been overused, it will be difficult to make your opening pages seem fresh, unless you turn the trope on its head or do something very different with it.

5. Telling Instead of Showing:
This is also a very common pitfall that the mentors find in workshop submissions. The writing and descriptions can be beautiful, but if the writer tells us about the character and the situation he finds himself in, the reader does not see and feel the story, and does not become invested in the story. There are many resources on this (a few are listed at the end of this article), but this is typical of something I often read in submissions: Character X is afraid because soon she will be married off to Y who is known throughout the kingdom as the meanest, vilest creature. Not only is the writer missing a golden opportunity to build suspense and a sense of both stakes and danger, the reader is not the least bit concerned, because the writer has not brought the reader along for the ride. Another side to this same issue is what Mentor Kimberley Griffiths Little calls "narrative telling,” where the writer presents the action as though he or she is a storyteller sitting around the campfire with friends instead of using deep point of view or showing to let the reader truly see/feel/live the story along with the main character. Either way, “telling” makes it hard for the reader to become invested in the story and the characters. It can absolutely work, but it requires an experienced and gifted writer with a very strong voice to pull off successfully.

6. The Dreaded Info Dump:
Related to “telling” but slightly different is the dreaded overload of information. This is especially common in fantasy, but as mentor Sheri Larson points out, we often see it in contemporary submissions for the workshop as well. The writer makes the mistake of thinking that the reader needs to know everything right up front in order to follow the story. Although confusion is not good, the world or the back story should be slivered in seamlessly. Try writing just what the reader needs to know to understand the story, and then weave in the world building or back story information only as the reader needs it. Think of both as the chips in your chocolate chip cookie—a perfect cookie has just the right amount, so that you get a bit of chocolate with each bite, but still can taste the cookie.

7. Descriptions:
As in openings, there are many cliché and overused descriptions and tropes. Mentor Ron Smith too often reads about characters looking into a mirror and describing themselves. Instead of “butterflies in my stomach” try to think of a unique and different way to describe that sensation. In this month’s workshop, one of the participants had a lovely way of describing the moon, comparing it to a fruit. Your writing will be richer, and your world—whether contemporary or fantasy—more real to your reader if your descriptions are fresh and unique, and especially if they add to our understanding of the main character’s outlook on the world.

8. Point of view and tense shifts:
Mentor Kimberley Griffiths Little also frequently sees tense and POV problems in 1st 5 pages submissions. The point of view will change from character to character, the tense will change from past to present, sometimes several times in just those early pages. Point of view shifts—especially within chapters—can be difficult to pull off and require a very skilled hand. As far as tense changes, reading the pages aloud is the easiest way to fix that problem. Your ear will pick up what your eye may not!

9. Not understanding the genre:
Sometimes in submissions we find that a story is labeled YA, when it should be MG, or the subject matter is YA, but the voice is too young, making it feel like MG. Stasia Ward Kehoe often encounters this issue in the workshop. She advises making sure that the ages are appropriate for the genre that you are writing, and to make sure to let the reader know the age of the character. (And again, all writers should be reading in the genre in which they are writing!)

10. Workshopping for praise instead of improvement:
Last, but certainly not least, understand the benefit of critique, and be gracious and thankful when someone takes the time to read and comment on your work. Critique is part of being an author. If nothing else, your agent and editor both need to know that you can process notes and do the hard work of revision. Professional reviews can sting, and even more painfully, reviews by readers can sometimes be based more on their own subjective experience than on what you’ve placed on the page. You have to be able to accept that, take what you can from it to make your future work better, and move on. But too frequently, writers look to critique partners, workshops, and professional critiques to tell them that their work is wonderful instead of hoping to hear what they can do better. That’s not what the 1st 5 Pages workshop is about. While we do have an agent mentor, we’re unique in that we’re really looking to grow writers and give a manuscript the best possible start, whether or not it’s a finished work. Why? Because writing the opening is the hardest part, and it makes the biggest difference to the success of a project. Once you have the beginning, the rest can seem to flow effortlessly. Have the beginning wrong, and the work can be a struggle.

You don’t have to know anyone to get published. You don’t have to win a contest or get an agent’s attention in a workshop. If your manuscript is solid, well-written, and—most importantly—different enough from what is already available to make readers willing to spend money to buy it, agents will pluck it from the slush pile and editors will want to publish it—whether or not you’ve ever interacted with them. So don’t go to a workshop or writers conference to connect with agents. Don’t go to your critique group hoping to hear that everything is perfect. The role of feedback isn’t to tell you how wonderful your story is, or what a great writer you are. Feedback is meant to help you find the problems with the story or characters or writing that you, the writer, cannot see because you’re too close to the work. Most participants in the 1st 5 Workshop are thrilled to receive the feedback. They don’t take every bit of criticism—part of evolving as a writer is learning to take what resonates and leave the rest. But the workshop participants who go on to get agents and book deals do have one thing in common. They dig in and revise, unafraid to experiment and make big changes over the three weeks of the workshop.

Keep in mind that most successful authors are willing to scratch entire openings or delete whole scenes or chapters that they love if those aren’t working or adding to the forward momentum of the story. Authors aren’t afraid to “cut their darlings” and they know that polishing words isn’t going to change a bad scene into a good one. Whether you do the 1st 5 Pages workshop, another workshop, or simply work on your own or with a critique group, our advice is simple: get people to read your work, listen to the feedback and criticism, really examine what was said and why, and don’t be afraid to cut, rewrite, and revise until everything makes sense and flows smoothly and logically in a way that allows the reader to be pulled into the story. That's what’s going to elevate your book above the rest.

This is the first in a 4 part series from the mentors of the 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop. Please check back for the next three Tuesdays for more writing advice!

Join the Workshop or Test Drive Your Opening in a Contest!
The 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop opens for submissions at noon eastern time on the first Saturday of every month except for December. Check here for the rules and submission guidelines. We also have a new Red Light, Green Light, WIP contest starting on 6/23 judged by Kelly Peterson of the Corvisiero Literary Agency, and Kelly will be offering a full request to the lucky winner along with a editorial notes. Don’t miss either of these opportunities!

Resources:
Adventures in YA Publishing has had a slew of posts about every conceivable problem with starting a novel over the years. Check out our Inspired Openings label for additional help, or use the search by topic. Many of our wonderful mentors also have wonderful advice on their blog and/or website. (Click HERE for a list of our mentors).

There’s an invaluable, quick read on the topic called THE FIRST FIVE PAGES: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO STAYING OUT OF THE REJECTION PILE by literary agent Noah Lukeman.

Kimberley Little also recommends these books: WRITING DEEP POINT OF VIEW which gives many examples of how to do just that, and RIVET YOUR READERS WITH DEEP POINT OF VIEW.

Happy writing, and revising!

Erin and the mentors of the 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop!


Monday, June 20, 2016

0 Red Light/Green Light Contest OPENS THURSDAY

Red Light/Green Light officially opens on Thursday, June 23rd as of Noon EST/9am Pacific Time. The first 25 entries received during this window will be admitted into the contest. Our second submission window is 3pm EST/Noon Pacific Time, during which we will also accept the first 25 entries received, for a total of 50 first round competitors.

Don't forget, our grand prize is a FULL REQUEST WITH NOTES from our judging agent, Kelly Peterson of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Entries time stamped before the first window's opening time will not qualify. Regrettably, neither will those sent after the 50 contest spaces fill up. You ARE permitted to enter during both submission windows, but please only submit once per window. Entries submitted twice within a submission window will be disqualified.

Red Light/Green Light is open to completed YA, NA, and MG manuscripts.

For a full contest schedule/guidelines, please proceed here.

During the entry windows, submissions should be emailed to ayaplit(at)gmail(dot)com. Please format as follows.

ENTRY FORMATTING


Please type AYAP CONTEST ENTRY in the email subject line for your entry.

Name: Use your real name, and add a pen name in brackets if applicable.

Genre: Please include age category as well as genre. Example: YA Contemporary, NA Romance, MG Suspense.

Title: Your title.

Query Letter/3 Paragraph Pitch: Please include your query letter/3 paragraph pitch, minus any personalization. You do not need to include any biographical information--just the bones of your story, please.

First Page/First 250 Words: Please include your first page (up to 250 words--if a sentence cuts off at the 250 word mark, you may go a few words over to finish it).

Good luck! Can't wait to see your openings, and Happy Writing!

0 New Releases this week 6/20-6/26

Hello everyone! There are no new giveaways this week but never fear, we have 4 great releases to feature this week! We also are announcing winners of last week's giveaway below. Don't forget to check out all the new releases and add them to your TBR.

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Lindsey, Martina, Jocelyn, Erin, Susan, Sam, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa


YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES THIS WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

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Unplugged
by Donna Freitas
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 6/21/2016

The first book in a provocative new series from acclaimed author Donna Freitas—Feed for a new generation.

Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.

Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.

But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.

In the tradition of M. T. Anderson’s Feed and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, Unplugged kicks off a thrilling and timely sci-fi series for teens from an award-winning writer.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Unplugged?

Well, can I say the cover or is that cheating? I’m obsessed with the cover Harper did—not the one that is on the galley, but the one they did when they decided that the galley cover wasn’t going to cut it—it’s of this girl hanging in midair. I think it’s beautiful and disturbing and intriguing!

As far as the actual story goes, I love the moment when my character is waking up in the Real World at her Keeper’s house and she’s confused and trying to use her body but doesn’t quite know how since she hasn’t really used her body in about 12 years.


Purchase Unplugged at Amazon
Purchase Unplugged at IndieBound
View Unplugged on Goodreads


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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Mirror in the Sky
by Aditi Khorana
Hardcover
Razorbill
Released 6/21/2016

For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

The world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, and Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara's life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth--or for Tara--will ever be the same again.

Purchase Mirror in the Sky at Amazon
Purchase Mirror in the Sky at IndieBound
View Mirror in the Sky on Goodreads

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Never Ever
by Sara Saedi
Hardcover
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 6/21/2016

Wylie Dalton didn’t believe in fairy tales or love at first sight.

Then she met a real-life Peter Pan.

When Wylie encounters Phinn—confident, mature, and devastatingly handsome—at a party the night before her brother goes to juvie, she can’t believe how fast she falls for him. And that’s before he shows her how to fly.

Soon Wylie and her brothers find themselves whisked away to a mysterious tropical island off the coast of New York City where nobody ages beyond seventeen and life is a constant party. Wylie’s in heaven: now her brother won’t go to jail and she can escape her over-scheduled life with all its woes and responsibilities—permanently.

But the deeper Wylie falls for Phinn, the more she begins to discover has been kept from her and her brothers. Somebody on the island has been lying to her, but the truth can’t stay hidden forever.

Purchase Never Ever at Amazon
Purchase Never Ever at IndieBound
View Never Ever on Goodreads

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Summer in the Invisible City
by Juliana Romano
Hardcover
Dial Books
Released 6/21/2016

Seventeen-year-old Sadie Bell has this summer all figured out: She’s going to befriend the cool girls at her school. She’s going to bond with her absentee father, a famous artist, and impress him with her photography skills. And she’s finally going to get over Noah, the swoony older guy who was her very first mistake.

Sadie wasn’t counting on meeting Sam, a funny and free-thinking boy who makes her question all of her goals. But even after a summer of talking, touching, and sharing secrets, Sam says he just wants to be friends. And when those Sadie cares about most hurt her, Sam’s friendship may not be enough. Sadie can see the world through her camera, but can she see the people who have loved and supported her all along?

Set against a glamorous New York City backdrop, this coming-of-age romance is a gorgeous summer read—one whose characters will stay with you long into the fall.

Purchase Summer in the Invisible City at Amazon
Purchase Summer in the Invisible City at IndieBound
View Summer in the Invisible City on Goodreads

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS


How to Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler: Josie O. 
Sea Spell by Jennifer Donnelly: Sally Z.
The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash: Caroline M.
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Which of these releases appeal to you? Let's chat in the comments!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

0 Lurlene McDaniel, author of LOSING GABRIEL, on suffering and grief being the soil that allows us to grow and mature

We're pleased to have Lurlene McDaniel here to tell us more about her latest novel LOSING GABRIEL.

Lurlene, what was your inspiration for writing LOSING GABRIEL?

The answer is in the dedication…when my son and his wife lost a baby promised through adoption by a teen mother who changed her mind. My kids were devastated. It took me almost 10 years to deal with the emotions from that time.

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?

The hardest scene was when Sloan, Dawson and Franklin discuss the options of giving birth vs. aborting the baby. The scene had to be well-thought out and honest from the hearts of frightened teens over both options.

0 Sarvenaz Tash, author of THE GEEK'S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE, on stealing whatever moments you can to write

We're excited to have Sarvenaz Tash stop by to give us the scoop on her latest novel THE GEEK'S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE.

Sarvenaz, what was your inspiration for writing THE GEEK'S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE?

A few days after I found out my previous book, THREE DAY SUMMER, had sold, I was ruminating on what I could work on next. That book takes place over the course of a few days at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. And while casually discussing Comic Con with my husband, I was hit with an a-ha moment. Comic Con takes place over a few days too. And before I knew it, Graham’s voice was in my ear, telling me he’s in love with his best friend and that he wants to tell her at the biggest event of their social calendar: NYCC. Of course I knew right away that nothing was going to go according to his plan.

0 Jennifer Donnelly, author of SEA SPELL, on saying goodbye to characters

SEA SPELL is the final novel in the Waterfire Saga, and we're delighted to have Jennifer Donnelly with us to share more about it.

Jennifer, 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?

The ending scenes were very hard to write, and I'm very proud of them. I don't want to give anything away, but SEA SPELL is the end of the Waterfire Saga, and there's a lot of emotion in the final chapters. The six mermaid friends have faced many challenges during the series, and it was important to me to show how they've grown smart and strong from those challenges -- because they're going to need that strength to battle an old, and dangerous, enemy.

0 Christian McKay Heidicker, author of CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE, on reading outside your genre

CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE is the debut from Christian McKay Heidicker, and we're thrilled to have him join us to chat about writing.

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

One morning I woke up and had an idea about a kid trapped in video game rehab. I sat down at my Remington and began to type. Four days later, I sent the manuscript, snail mail, to the offices of Simon & Schuster. They immediately bought it for a handsome sum. It was my first book. I've heard that other writers' roads to publishing are slightly more diffic--OKAY, FINE, I'M LYING. It took me ten years and six (6!) books before I published CURE. And guess what? A friend of mine suggested the story. I can't think about it much because it's very difficult to write this from the fetal position.