Saturday, September 29, 2012

0 1st 5 Pages October Workshop Opens for Entries 11/6/2012

The October First Five Pages Workshop will be mentored by the lovely P.J. Hoover, and we'll take the first five 1250-word YA or MG entries that match all of the submission requirements listed here starting at noon on 11/6/2012. Get your manuscripts ready!

ABOUT P.J. Hoover

P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton.

After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing kung fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek.

For more information about P. J. (Tricia) Hoover, please visit her website P. J. is also a member of THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS AND SCOUNDRELS and THE ENCHANTED INKPOT.

Her first novel for teens, Solstice, takes place in a global warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own and will be published by Tor Children's in June 2013.

Her next middle grade novel, Tut, which tells the story of a young immortal King Tut, who's been stuck in middle school for over 3,000 years and must defeat an ancient enemy with the help of a dorky kid from school, a mysterious Egyptian princess, and a one-eyed cat, will be published by Tor Children's in Winter 2014.

Her published middle grade fantasy novels, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the World, and The Necropolis, chronicle the adventures of a boy who discovers he’s part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea.

Friday, September 28, 2012

14 YA Books in Stores 9/29 - 10/5 Plus 6 Books Giveaway


The Hallowed Ones

by Laura Bickle

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Hallowed Ones?

I loved writing from the perspective of Katie – this is my first time writing a book in first person. Katie was an interesting character to write because she's very strong in a quiet, enduring kind of way. She struggles to develop her own moral compass, independent of her parents and community. That requires a great deal of fortitude, just as much fortitude as dealing with the evil creatures in her world.

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by Sharon Flake

Award-winning author, Sharon G. Flake, presents a powerful novel about a teen boy and girl, each tackling disabilities.

Autumn and Adonis have nothing in common and everything in common. Autumn is outgoing and has lots of friends. Adonis is shy and not so eager to connect with people. But even with their differences, the two have one thing in common ? they’re each dealing with a handicap. For Autumn, who has a learning disability, reading is a painful struggle that makes it hard to focus in class. But as her school’s most aggressive team wrestler, Autumn can take down any problem. Adonis is confined to a wheelchair. He has no legs. He can’t walk or dance. But he’s a strong reader who loves books. Even so, Adonis has a secret he knows someone like Autumn can heal.

In time, Autumn and Adonis are forced to see that our greatest weaknesses can turn into the assets that forever change us and those we love.

Told in alternating voices, Takedown explores issues of self-discovery, friendship, and what it means to be different.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Pinned?

My favorite thing about my novel Pinned, is the main characters. I love how multidimensional they are. Take my protagonist, Autumn for instance. She is quirky and outgoing, and comfortable with making up her own rules for living. Imagine someone who is confident enough to discuss their failings as easily as their successes. Someone who knows what she likes--wrestling, the smartest guy at school, cooking--and is willing to go after those things no matter what others say. That's Autumn Knight. One of the best wrestlers in the state, one of the worse readers at her school. Struggling and excelling at the same time. Folks are going to love her. And then there's Adonis. Boy is he complex. Extremely bright, Adonis is confident yet emotionally distant. His teachers adore him; other students...well not so much. Disabled and in a wheelchair, he has grand plans for his life and having Autumn Knight as a part of it, isn't one of them. While Autumn is eager to share her soul with the world, Adonis has his secrets. Put these two characters in the same book, and watch out, secrets get revealed, differences explored, and the possibility of romance abounds. Readers will have a good time getting to know these two.

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by Jeff Hirsch

On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.
With MAGISTERIUM, Jeff Hirsch brings us the story of a complex, captivating world that will leave readers breathless until the very last page.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Magisterium?

I'd say my favorite thing about Magisterium is how it allowed me to flex completely different writing muscles than I used when writing The Eleventh Plague. That book was all about a kind of gritty realism--no magic, monsters or high tech gadgets--and Magisterium gave me a chance to let loose a bit and go in a completely different direction. While I still try to treat the world of Magisterium in as realistic a way as possible (given the circumstance that is) it's a place where nearly anything I could dream up was possible, a much larger playground I guess you could say.

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Chasing the Skip

by Janci Patterson

Ricki’s dad has never been there for her. He’s a bounty hunter who spends his time chasing parole evaders—also known as “skips”—all over the country. But now since Ricki’s mom ran off, Ricki finds herself an unwilling passenger in a front-row seat to her father’s dangerous lifestyle.
            Ricki’s feelings get even more confused when her dad starts chasing seventeen-year-old Ian Burnham. She finds herself unavoidably attracted to the dark-eyed felon who seems eager to get acquainted. But Ricki thinks she’s ever in control—the perfect manipulator. Little does she know that Ian isn’t playing their game by her rules.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Chasing the Skip?

Hands down, my favorite thing about CHASING THE SKIP is its main character, Ricki. I put Ricki in a terrible situation in this book--her mom's abandoned her, and she's living with a father she's barely met before on the road chasing after fugitives. She's in a dangerous and uncomfortable position, and it wasn't her choices that put her there. But that situation is in place before the novel begins. What makes the book interesting for me was following Ricki's reactions to her situation--both those that make it worse, and those that make it better. It's a story about bounty hunting, yes, but underneath that it's a story about a girl who is trying to figure out what she wants and how to get i, and who makes a lot of mistakes along the wayt. It took me many drafts to get Ricki to where she is now--her character is by far the most revised part of the book, or the part that took the most work to get right. And I hope that I did get her right, in the end, so that readers can love her as much as I do.

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by Sarah Crossan

Inhale. Exhale.
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen–rich air.
has been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.
should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.
wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.
And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Breathe?

My favourite things about BREATHE are the protagonists. They are not perfect by any means, but each one grows through their experiences, and I feel a lot of love for them for this reason. Quinn is a little clueless, Bea a bit passive, and Alina too hard-hearted, but they learn about themselves and change, and surely that's what life is all about—growing into the the best selves we can be.

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The Eleventh Plague

by Jeff Hirsch

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing--and their lives--forever

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The Raven Boys

by Maggie Stiefvater

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

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Taken at Dusk

by C.C. Hunter


Step into Shadow Falls, a camp for teens with supernatural powers. Here friendship thrives, love takes you by surprise, and our hearts possess the greatest magic of all.

Kylie Galen wants the truth so badly she can taste it. The truth about who her real family is, the truth about which boy she’s meant to be with—and the truth about what her emerging powers mean. But she’s about to discover that some secrets can change your life forever…and not always for the better.

Just when she and Lucas are finally getting close, she learns that his pack has forbidden them from being together. Was it a mistake to pick him over Derek? And it’s not just romance troubling Kylie. An amnesia-stricken ghost is haunting her, delivering the frightful warning, someone lives and someone dies. As Kylie races to unravel the mystery and protect those she loves, she finally unlocks the truth about her supernatural identity, which is far different—and more astonishing—than she ever imagined.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Taken at Dusk?

That’s hard to answer. I try to show my characters growth in each book. And I know Taken at Dusk had a lot of character growth. However, when I think about the book, my mind always goes to the scenes and what those scenes bring to the story. And there are two scenes in Taken at Dusk that really come to mind.

One was the scene when Perry turned into a dragon because he was jealous of Miranda and then Miranda accidentally turned Burnett into a Kangaroo. I loved the humor in that scene and yet, it was also a scene that showed additional depth of the characters; Perry and Miranda’s affection for each other, Della’s embarrassment when she was hurt, but her need to protect her friends just as much as Kylie, Lucas’s realization that Kylie was a protector, Burnett’s need to be able to keep Shadow Falls going without Holiday, and Kylie’s understanding that her courage came without her needing to think about it.

The second scene I felt added some emotional depth to the story was the when Red gave his life for Kylie. I wanted to show Mario’s complete evilness and at the same time, show Red’s ability to recognize right from wrong. It was also important to show Kylie’s compassion and her awareness that sometimes people make really bad mistakes because they are conditioned to do so, as was Red. It was a scene that brought tears to my eyes when I wrote it.

Thanks so much for taking the time to ask me this question.

Here’s to reading and getting lost in a great story.

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Forgiven (Demon Trappers #3)

by Jana Oliver


Jana Oliver's third spellbinding Demon Trappers novel - following The Demon Trapper's Daughter and Soul Thief - brings all new thrills, as Riley Blackthorne takes on demons, love... and the future of the human race.

The days are growing darker for 17-year-old demon trapper Riley Blackthorne. With her father’s reanimated body back safely, Beck barely speaking to her because of a certain hunky Fallen angel, and a freshly-made deal with Lucifer, she has enough on her hands to last a normal teenage lifetime. Though she bargained with Heaven to save his life, her ex-boyfriend Simon has told the Vatican’s Demon Hunters that she’s working with Hell. So now she’s in hiding, at the top of everyone’s most-wanted list.

But it’s becoming clear that this is bigger than Riley, and rapidly getting out of control: something sinister is happening in Atlanta… or someone. The demons are working together for the first time ever and refusing to die, putting civilians in harm’s way. Riley thinks she might know who’s behind it all, but who’s going to believe her? Caught between her bargain with Heaven and her promise to Lucifer, Riley fears the final war is coming – and it may be closer than anyone thinks…

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Soul Thief (Demon Trappers #2)

by Jana Oliver


Riley Blackthorne is beginning to learn that there are worse things than death by demon. And love is just one of them...

Seventeen-year-old Riley has about had it up to here. After the devastating battle at the Tabernacle, trappers are dead and injured, her boyfriend Simon is gravely injured, and now her beloved late father’s been illegally poached from his grave by a very powerful necromancer. As if that’s not enough, there's Ori, one sizzling hot freelance demon hunter who’s made himself Riley’s unofficial body guard, and Beck, a super over-protective “friend” who acts more like a grouchy granddad. With all the hassles, Riley’s almost ready to leave Atlanta altogether.

But as Atlanta’s demon count increases, the Vatican finally sends its own Demon Hunters to take care of the city’s “little” problem, and pandemonium breaks loose. Only Riley knows that she might be the center of Hell’s attention: an extremely powerful Grade 5 demon is stalking her, and her luck can't last forever…

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League of Strays

by L. B. Schulman

This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

Praise for League of Strays
"A group of misfits is drawn together by a charismatic, sinister boy for friendship and revenge."
Kirkus Reviews

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about League of Strays?

My favorite thing about LEAGUE OF STRAYS is that I feel it realistically explores a possible danger that teens may face.

My main character, Charlotte, is a lonely, transfer student and because of her vulnerable emotional state, she’s susceptible to the manipulations of a certain boy. When teens experience feelings of attraction and being attractive to someone else, they may lose perspective and find themselves willing to do more than they are comfortable with on a lot of different levels. They have to learn to trust their own instincts and follow their own path. In this case, the boy in question is a psychopath, which means he doesn’t have a conscience. He is using Charlotte for his own gain, and she must decide whether or not to fight for her own, and others, well-being. I loved exploring Charlotte’s journey!

(If you want a chance to win LEAGUE OF STRAYS, stop by the blog here on November 8th and find out about about another character, Zoe, and discover what's on her "bucket List"--the things she plans to do before she dies.)

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Promised (The Birthmarked Trilogy)

by Caragh M. O'Brien

After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever.  She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland.  In Gaia's absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher.  Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what--or whom--she loves most?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Promised (The Birthmarked Trilogy)?

What I like most about Promised is the way it feels real to me. I can feel the dry wind on my face when Gaia comes over a ridge in the wasteland to see her old home in the distance, with the weathered houses below the wall and the obelisk rising above the Enclave. Writing it, I felt like I was coming home myself, and at the same time, I was driven by a sense of discovery.

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Forget Me Not

by Carolee Dean

From the author of Take Me There, a fast-paced novel in verse about a girl caught between life and death—and the boy who will do anything to save her.
Ally is devastated when a scandalous photo of her is texted around school. With her reputation in shambles and her life essentially over, she hides out in a back hallway, trying to figure out where everything went wrong.      Elijah has spent time in that hallway too. He landed there after taking a whole bottle of sleeping pills. Now he can see ghosts, and he knows what Ally has yet to suspect—that she’s already half dead, and one choice away from never coming back. Elijah has loved Ally for years and would do anything to save her from the in-between place. But if she’s going to live, Ally must face her inner demons and find the will to save herself.     Told in interwoven verse narratives, this crushingly honest and poetic exploration of pain and redemption will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Forget Me Not?

This story is very close to my heart. It was inspired by a tragedy that happened when I was in the seventh grade. One of my classmates hung himself. Ever since then there has been a question that has haunted me. "What happens to the soul after suicide?" Often when I write a book I start out with a question like this. The scary part is that I don't usually know the answer when I begin writing. It is the writing process that helps me tackle difficult questions. The answers I come up with are very personal to me, so I'm thrilled when I do find something that makes sense to me. That is my favorite thing about this book, and about writing in general. Also, I'm happy that in spite of the very deep subject matter, I was able to have a lot of fun with this story. That also helped the healing process. I based the set up of the Raven Valley High School on Dante's Inferno, I have allusions to many famous authors and poets, and I did a lot of exploring of raven mythology. All these things helped making the book much more than just a problem novel exploring a very difficult issue. I must add that there is a happy ending... but not for everyone.

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The Last Dragonslayer (The Chronicles of Kazam)

by Jasper Fforde

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Last Dragonslayer (The Chronicles of Kazam)?

Well, I like several elements - the notion of magic being a faded, lost skill, that dragons, TVs, cars, and autocratic royalty can exist all at the same time; that the king has a useless brother known publicly as 'The King's Useless Brother', and that spells are like computer code - strings of enchantments that allow you to do specific job. I like Dragons, and Dragonpacts, and large marker stones that create forcefields. I like huge ironclad war machines four storeys high, that sorcerers are for the most part insane, and that no-one knows if 'The Mysterious X' actually exists at all. I like the notion that Trolls live in the far North and are the recipient of occasional wars, and that this world has a 'foundling based' economy. I like that the politics of the neighbouring kingdoms, despite this being a very modern world, is highly medieval. I like Sir Matt Grifflon who is not only the king's favourite knight but also a singing star 'with several popular hits', and I like that Jennifer Strange drives a Volkswagen. But most of all, I think I like the Quarkbeast, Jennifer's constant companion. But he's not like other companions. For a start, he is a mythical creature, bound together by spell, and that he is so ugly to look upon and has a reputation so fierce (A quarkbeast can eat its way through a school bus lengthwise in under eight seconds) that everyone recoils in shock when they see him. I like that he only says: 'Quark', and that his peculiar ways and appearance are only ever hinted upon, never described in full. Most of all, I like his tireless loyalty - and I think Jennifer likes this too.

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by Robison Wells

Benson Fisher escaped from Maxfield Academy's deadly rules and brutal gangs. The worst was over.
Or so he thought.
But now he's trapped on the other side of the wall, in a different kind of prison. A town filled with familiar faces. People from Maxfield who Benson had seen die. Friends he was afraid he had killed.
They are all pawns in the school's twisted experiment, held captive and controlled by an unseen force. And while Benson struggles to figure out who, if anyone, can be trusted, he discovers that Maxfield Academy's plans are darker than anything he imagined—and they may be impossible to stop.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Feedback?

My favorite thing about FEEDBACK is that fans will finally be getting answers! I get a ton of reviews that are very positive and excited but that end with "Even though I love this book I HATE THAT ENDING SO MUCH!" VARIANT has a big cliffhanger at the end that has really left readers confused for the last year, so I'm thrilled to release FEEDBACK and let them finally see what it's all about. The answers will come right from the very first chapter, immediately explaining some of the cliffhanger questions while presenting a whole new set of clues and puzzles. (But the good news: this is not a trilogy; it's only two books. So, you'll be getting all of your answers here and I promise you won't get stuck with another year-long wait for more answers.)

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Send Me a Sign

by Tiffany Schmidt

Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she'll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn't expect to look for was: "Will I survive cancer?" It's an answer her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose. From debut author Tiffany Schmidt comes a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story of one girl's search for signs of life in the face of death.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Send Me a Sign?

My favorite thing about Send Me A Sign? Is it cheating if I respond that my favorite thing has been reader reactions? I've so touched and honored to have heard from early readers about the ways the book resonated with them. So many people have reached out to me to share their own experiences with cancer --themselves, friends, family members -- and they've told me how much they appreciate the way my main character, Mia, is a Person... not a patient. I'm so glad readers are connecting with Mia and her friends, crushes, parents, etc. Send Me A Sign is a 384-page dream come true.

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Schooled (Bluford High)

by Paul Langan

Bluford High: It's not just school--it's real life.

There's no backing down for Lionel Shephard. With a dream of joining the NBA, all he wants to do at Bluford High is play basketball. But everyone's trying to stop him. His father thinks basketball is a waste of time, his teachers don't know he can barely read and threaten to fail him, and his dropout friend, Jamar, wants him to quit school. Unsure where to turn, Lionel must make a choice. Will he pursue his dream--or get caught in a nightmare?

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by Donna Cooner

Find your voice.

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies's head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she'll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever's singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical - and partly to try and save her own life - Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

Donna Cooner brings warmth, wit, and startling insight to this unforgettable debut.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Skinny?

The thing I like most about SKINNY is the conversations sparked about self image and that critical inner voice so many of us hear in our heads. Readers have already shared so many heart felt connections to battling and conquering the self doubt that keeps us all from achieving our dreams. The response has been amazing. I'm especially looking forward to upcoming school visits and opportunities to talk directly with teens about SKINNY.

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by Lois Lowry

They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive?  She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

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Poison Princess (Arcana Chronicles)

by Kresley Cole

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.She could save the world—or destroy it.Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.But she can’t do either alone.With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?Who can Evie trust?As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side….

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Live Through This

by Mindi Scott

When a relationship trespasses the boundaries of trust, the consequences are complex in this nuanced page-turner from “a formidable talent” (Booklist).If Coley Sterling’s best friend would stop hating her, if her dance-team captains would lighten up, if her friends would stop asking her about Reece, the geeky sax player she’s crushing on—then her life would be perfect. Right? After all, Coley’s stepdad is a successful attorney who gives Coley and her siblings everything, and her mother will stop at nothing to keep them all happy and safe—including having escaped ten years ago from the abuse of Coley’s real father.     But Coley is keeping a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully crafted faÇade. Now, Coley and Reece are getting closer, and a decade’s worth of Coley’s lies are on the verge of unraveling—along with the life she thought she knew.

Order Live Through This on Amazon

View Live Through This on Goodreads

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by Andrew Smith

Best friends Jack and Conner can’t stay away from Marbury. It’s partly because of their obsession with this alternate world and the unresolved war that still wages there. But it’s also because forces in Marbury—including the darkest of the dark, who were not revealed in The Marbury Lens—are beckoning the boys back in order to save their friends . . . and themselves.

The boys try to destroy the lens that transports them to Marbury. But that dark world is not so easily reckoned with. Reality and fantasy, good and evil—Andrew Smith’s masterpiece closes the loop that began with The Marbury Lens. But is it really closed? Can it ever be?

Order Passenger on Amazon

View Passenger on Goodreads

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The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus)

by Rick Riordan

In The Son of Neptune, Percy, Hazel, and Frank met in Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Camp Halfblood, and traveled to the land beyond the gods to complete a dangerous quest. The third book in the Heroes of Olympus series will unite them with Jason, Piper, and Leo. But they number only six--who will complete the Prophecy of Seven?

Order The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus) on Amazon

View The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus) on Goodreads

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The Suburban Strange

by Nathan Kotecki

Shy Celia Balaustine is new to Suburban High, but a mysterious group of sophomores called the Rosary has befriended her. Friends aside, Celia soon discovers something is not quite right at Suburban. Girls at the school begin having near-fatal accidents on the eve of their sixteenth birthdays. Who is causing the accidents, and why? As Celia’s own birthday approaches, she is inexorably drawn into an underground conflict between good and evil—the Kind and the Unkind—that bubbles beneath Suburban High. Plentiful references to music and art—along with the intriguing underworld mythology—make this supernatural series debut a page-turner.

Order The Suburban Strange on Amazon

View The Suburban Strange on Goodreads

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Pirate Cinema

by Cory Doctorow

Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In the dystopian near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever; the punishment for being caught three times is that your entire household’s access to the internet is cut off for a year, with no appeal.

Trent's too clever for that too happen. Except it does, and it nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where he slowly he learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. This brings him in touch with a demimonde of artists and activists who are trying to fight a new bill that will criminalize even more harmless internet creativity, making felons of millions of British citizens at a stroke.

Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds….

Order Pirate Cinema on Amazon

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Eve and Adam

by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

In the beginning, there was an apple –

And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker's head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.

Just when Eve thinks she will die – not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.

Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect . . . won’t he?

Order Eve and Adam on Amazon

View Eve and Adam on Goodreads

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Through to You

by Emily Hainsworth

Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he'd give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv's deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn't Viv.

The apparition's name is Nina, and she's not a ghost. She's a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can't believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn't the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he's forced to choose--stay with Viv or let her go--before the window closes between them once and for all.

Order Through to You on Amazon

View Through to You on Goodreads

* * * *

One Shot Away: A Wrestling Story

by T. Glen Coughlin

They're all just one shot away
It's senior year and the last season for Diggy, Jimmy, and Trevor on the Molly Pitcher High School varsity wrestling team. And they all want the same thing: to win.
But Diggy's got to compete with his older brother's legacy, and now he's in danger of losing his spot to the newcomer, Trevor. Not to mention he's got girl problems. Jimmy's got the cops on his tail and a girlfriend who looks down on him. Then Diggy does the unthinkable—he betrays a teammate. Can the team forgive him? And can he forgive himself?
With the pressure building and loyalties splintering, Diggy, Jimmy, and Trevor have got one shot to make weight and get onto the mat. Because pinning your opponent is about more than just winning.

Order One Shot Away: A Wrestling Story on Amazon

View One Shot Away: A Wrestling Story on Goodreads

* * * *


by Adrienne Stoltz and Ron Bass

What if you could dream your way into a different life? What if you could choose to live that life forever?

Sloane and Maggie have never met. Sloane is a straight-A student with a big and loving family. Maggie lives a glamorously independent life as an up-and-coming actress in New York. The two girls couldn't be more different--except for one thing. They share a secret that they can't tell a soul. At night, they dream that they're each other.

The deeper they're pulled into the promise of their own lives, the more their worlds begin to blur dangerously together. Before long, Sloane and Maggie can no longer tell which life is real and which is just a dream. They realize that eventually they will have to choose one life to wake up to, or risk spiraling into insanity. But that means giving up one world, one love, and one self, forever.

This is a dazzling debut that will steal readers' hearts.

Order Lucid on Amazon

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

10 Joan Swan on Nailing Emotional Turning Points in Your Novels

Today's guest is the lovely Joan Swan, an award-winning author of sexy romantic suspense, who occasionally throws in a paranormal twist or two for some extra spark. In her day job, she works as a sonographer at UCSF Medical Center. She lives on the central coast of California in beautiful wine country with her husband and two daughters. You can catch her on her website, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Goodreads.

Emotional Turning Points
by Joan Swan

Big thanks to Martina for having me today!

I write romance, so you may wonder how I met Martina. I met her through Twitter. I am a big fan and follower of Elizabeth Craig and her fabulous Twitter stream focused on writing-related articles. Elizabeth introduced me to Martina’s Twitter stream. Of course, I instantly fell in love with Martina’s writing craft articles as well. Martina and I have bonded over the mantra…craft is craft, across all genres. Ahhhh, I so love Twitter for leading me to such fabulous people.

I confess—I am a closet hoarder of craft books and a deep lover of all things writing craft. Hearing the perfect cadence of a sentence or the fresh turn of phrase stirs my emotions as effectively as my favorite song on the radio.

So I believe in enjoying that learning process. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the information I strive to share about turning points here today.

One of my favorite places in a romance is when my hero and heroine reach the point of no return. That place where one or both make the decision to do something, say something or feels something that changes everything in their current reality. Something that changes the existing relationship. From that point on, there is no going back to the way things were.

This can happen in one pivotal location, in a baby-step progression or in a push-pull pattern, where the hero and heroine take two steps forward and one step back. For me, as long as it’s done well, I don’t care what method is used, I still love these turning points. The action—or inaction, their realization—or lack of one, is a conscious investment in their new future; a commitment—to themselves and to the other person. And I thrive on the emotion involved in making that choice.

In BLAZE, book two in my Phoenix Rising series which released a couple days ago, the romance is a reunion story, so my hero and heroine make many realizations over the course of the book. It’s a push-pull scenario as they work through both their external and internal conflicts.

The scene I want to share to illustrate one of these emotional turning points is late in the book. My heroine, Keira, in BLAZE has far more emotional baggage than my hero, Luke, and it has taken her far longer to accept the fact that she can’t go back to the way her life was before she crossed paths with Luke again.

In this scene, Keira has been up all night after another argument with Luke, struggling with her demons.

Sleep had completely eluded her. Keira’s exhausted eyes gazed beyond the guest bedroom window where the caramel sunrise nudged the indigo night into another hemisphere. Mountains blanketed with pines and aspens waited silently for the change from shadow to light.

Even going on fifty hours without any rest, Keira’s mind continued to fight. Her heart continued to struggle. But worse and most painful, her soul continued to reach. For Luke.

At times over the night, she swore it was a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. At times she’d come so close to letting it have its way. Going to Luke and promising him anything if he’d just vow to love her forever in return. Love her like he used to. Before everything went wrong.

And that was the very memory that kept her pacing the room instead of lying by his side—all that had gone wrong.

The soft carpet beneath her feet had flattened from hours of travel. She threaded both hands through her hair and yanked at the strands. Her scalp pulled, the sting a welcome relief to the tension that made her think her head would explode.

“Why am I so screwed up?”

Stupid question. Stupid, stupid question. She knew exactly why. The real question she’d stopped asking a long time ago, but which was creeping up now in her moment of helpless crisis, was why me? She’d never had the luxury of self-pity. Besides, she wasn’t the type.

“So knock it off.” She pulled her hands from her head and shook her hair back. “Just go out there and deal with it. Stop being such a coward.”

Here, Keira moves from stewing over her problems to getting sick and tired of going round and round with it in her mind and draws that line in the sand for herself. For some characters this can happen fast, for some it can take an entire book. What matters is that the layers have been removed beforehand so that when she gets to this point, she is ready to take the next step, because an emotional realization without an intellectual correlation and a commitment for change is a setup for the same problem occurring in the future. And in all fiction that ends on a positive note, the reader needs to believe that what the author has set up within the book will continue into the unseen future to have that sense of satisfaction in a good read.

She realized how messed up she was. She got it. The problem was, Luke didn’t.

Luke, the sick, crazy bastard, looked at her as the mother to whatever brood he had dreamed up in that gorgeous head of his. And he pushed and pushed and pushed. Every time he brought up the subject, as he’d done last night, she felt like he was smothering her. As if he’d crushed a pillow over her face and she had to kick him in the balls to get him to let up so she could breathe.

She was trapped. Because now that she’d seen him again, kissed him again, touched him again, realized she’d never stopped loving him, she knew why her attempts at life—a real life—for the last three years had failed. Miserably.

She needed him. She wanted him. He had been the part of her life that made it rich and spontaneous and joyous and . . . meaningful. Through the fights, the fun, the loss, the love. It was Luke. Luke made her feel like . . . herself. Luke made her feel real. Unique. Authentic. Luke made her feel alive.

Without Luke, she worked. She ate. She trained.

Without Luke, she existed.

You won’t let me in. Not really. You always hold something back. You always have a safety net. An out.

As far back as her memory would take her, Keira had lived with a bag packed and hidden away. A change of clothes, snacks, her favorite blanket, a stuffed animal. Yes, she always had an out.

But if she was going to make it work with Luke this time, she’d have to go all in. She knew that. Which was why she was still in her room pacing, not out in the family room with everyone else eating breakfast like a normal person.

Because she was so not normal.

“This is ridiculous. I can’t keep living like this.”

She didn’t know what the answer was. Didn’t know how they’d find it. But she was committed to crawling through those dark spots to figure it out, as long as Luke was crawling with her.

Keira turned toward the door. She took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “We’ll talk.” She nodded once. “We’ll fight.” Her lips compressed. “We’ll fight some more.”

Resignation sank in and her chest grew heavy. “We’ll . . . probably fight a lot . . .”

Tears of fear snuck into her eyes. For a flicker of a second she considered rejecting the idea. Then her mind darted toward returning to her life in Sacramento. To her eighteen hours at work. Two hours at the gym. Four hours in bed—alone.

A void opened in her chest. Trying to live without Luke was like trying to breathe in a smoke-filled room. Trying to run under water. Trying to hold back an ocean wave.

She reached for the doorknob and hesitated. As if she was split in two, one half of her urged her to stay put, keep her mouth shut. But the other half, the half that knew she couldn’t keep living this way, pushed her feet forward.

And this is where she’s fused her emotional turmoil with an intellectual conclusion. She’s strategized a reasonable short term plan and her heart is in the right place. She’s acting like the heroine she is.

When she pushes her feet forward – and in the remainder of the scene – moves on in search of Luke with conviction to set things right once and for all, as a reader, I’m not only invested in her success, but I believe the outcome will be favorable, despite the rough bumps that are obvious to both the character and the reader.

You can read how Keira and Luke started out in the first chapter of Blaze, here.

What is your favorite point in a story? As a reader? As a writer?

BLAZE by Joan Swan

The hotter they come, the harder they fall…

With a man like him, every mission becomes personal…

Ever since FBI agent Keira O’Shay started tracking a young boy named Mateo, she’s felt a connection even her empathic abilities can’t explain. She needs to save Mateo from the cult leader holding him hostage. Nothing can interfere with that—not even the reappearance of Luke Ransom, the hot-as-hell fire captain she’s regretted walking out on for three long years.

Losing Keira left Luke vulnerable—in every way. When they were together, the powers each possesses were mysteriously enhanced. But it’s the sexy, surprising woman beneath the tough exterior that Luke’s really missed. Even if she betrayed him utterly. And even if agreeing to help her uncover a government conspiracy means watching his life and his heart go up in flames again…

Buy Links:
Amazon | Amazon Canada |Barnes & Noble |B-A-M |Book Depository |Chapters |IndieBound |Powell’s

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Joan has very generously donated a copy for giveaway. Enter below to win!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

4 WOW Wednesday: Janci Patterson

Today's WOW guest is Janci Patterson, whose first novel, CHASING THE SKIP, debuts on October 2nd, 2012 from Henry Holt. Janci lives in Orem, Utah, with her husband and daughter. When she's not writing, she manages her husband's painting business and plays geek games of all kinds. You can catch her on Facebook, on Twitter as @jancipatterson, or on her website,

Discovering the Book

by Janci Patterson

For me, like most people, the process of getting my first book to publication was a slow one. I started writing novels back in 2000, and by the time I sold my first book in 2010 I had written six other failed novels and racked up over a hundred rejections. When I finally sold a book (!) it took eight months for us to sign the contract and a year and a half before I saw an editorial letter. Two years later, I was finally wrapping up work on the book. I was about to finally be done (done!), touching my book in an editorial way for the very last time.

I expected the final copyedit for CHASING THE SKIP to feel like a chore. I'd been over the book so many times. Fiddling with grammar is not my favorite part of writing. But it had to be done, so when I received the pages in the mail from my editor, I dutifully pulled out a pencil and opened them up, expecting the process to be more or less routine.

What I found inside was both something I expected, and something completely unexpected. The book was printed on regular manuscript paper, but it had already gone through layout, so the pages looked like they would eventually look in book form. This meant that someone else had gone through my book and laid out the words, made and applied chapter heading graphics, applied fonts, and generally spent a lot of time turning my manuscript words into soon-to-be published book words.

I knew they would do that, of course. The surprising part to me was the impact looking at those words had on me. This represented the very first time in my life that someone else had actually touched the words in my book. I'd been getting feedback and notes from agents and editors and beta readers for years, but I was always the one to make the changes. And here, someone else had carefully thought about what particular design would present my words best, and then gone about laying the whole thing out to look like a real and proper book. And (perhaps because they'd done such a beautiful job of it) I felt giddy just looking over it. I'd been worried I might feel protective of my words, and have a hard time letting go. But instead, I just felt thrilled to be working as part of a team--a team whose goal it was to get my words ready to be read.

And then. I did the copy edit. I made some changes with my dutiful pencil. But more than that, because the thing looked more like a book than a manuscript now, I was able to actually read my book for the first time ever. Of course I'd been over every word of the thing many times before. But as a writer, I'll never get to read my book the way my readers will. The story still lives too much in my head, so I'll never be able to look at the words on the page and form a new picture the way another person can. My picture will always be colored by the ideas already in my head. But that read through, with my shiny new book that someone else had done visible work on, I got as close as I ever expect to get. And I discovered something very important to me: I like this book. I'm excited that I get to share it with as many readers as will give it a chance. I'm proud of my work, and impressed with the work other people did as well. Writing a novel is a long series of tasks and many of them are unpleasant. And I never expected to say this, but the truth is, that copyedit was my favorite part.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

11 Building Deep Conflict into Novel Structure

"You cherry-pick events that are relevant to the story question and construct a gauntlet of challenge (read: the plot) that will force the protagonist to put his money where his mouth is. Think baptism by ever-escalating fire."

Lisa Cron

"Baptism by ever-escalating fire"--I love that. It says a lot about what the plot of a story should be, but it also speaks to the core of what conflict we, as writers, have to bring to the forefront in our novels. Ultimately, our books aren't about what hoops the plot forces the character to jump through. It's about how those hoops effect the protagonist and force her to change. Without that change, we have no story. Without the "force" component, we have a boring story.

Let's consider that more closely. If I am working on a novel, and my plot in essence consists of someone saying to the mc, "here, do this," and the character says, "sure, no problem," then runs through a bunch of obstacles, maybe even dangerous obstacles, I as then I, the author, am the one with a serious problem. I haven't given my mc a strong enough reason to push back against the events unfolding. And adding conflict once the novel is written isn't as easy as it sounds, because what ultimately makes for the kind of book that I, personally, want to read, is deep conflict. That's what makes me care about a book and keeps me turning pages late into the night.

A while back, I did a post about something I called Goal, Motivation, Conflict, Tension (GMCT) building from Deb Dixon's brilliant book about Goal, Motivation, Conflict, Tension: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction. (At the time, I had no idea that I would be lucky enough to have Deb Dixon eventually publish a story of mine or even that she had started a publishing company, I just thought she offered brilliant advice.)

Anyway, the idea behind Goal, Motivation and Conflict is that you have to build opposition into your story from the ground up by looking at what your characters want and, most importantly, why they want it.

When I first started writing, I equated conflict with danger. It's not that simple. Throwing more explosions into the book isn't going to make anyone keep reading. Deb Dixon explains GMCT with a simple formula.

Character X wants Goal because Motivation but Conflict.

That's the overall framework of story. But of course each time goals change as the story progresses--motivation shifts in the wake of new complications, and so really, story evolves in a recursive chain.

Character X wants Goal because Motivation but Conflict so
New Micro-goal because New Micro-motivation but New Conflict so...

Note, though, that the original Goal, Motivation, and Conflict didn't change. They are the core of the story. And the success of the story will ultimately rest on how strong, original, and fascinating the initial goal, motivation, and conflict are.

Want even deeper conflict? Layer it in.

What the protagonist wants on the surface is not even close to the only layer of the story.

I developed a conflict evaluation tool for my own use by adding an extra column to the GMC table that Deb Dixon created. I call the last column Tension and use it to test where the opposition and conflict lies within the story.

To keep this post at a manageable length, I'm only going to include the GMCT table for the antagonist, but naturally you would do the protag's GMCT first. Why do both? Because, as writers, we have to understand the conflict from both sides, optimize the conflict within the character, and then pit the  opposing forces against each other with maximum impact and momentum.

GOAL To keep Cinderella from being reintroduced to the society she should be part of. To prevent Cinderella from going to the ball.

This opposes what Cinderella wants both internally and externally.
  • She loves her daughters and wants them to prosper.
  • Having once mistreated Cinderella she can't afford to have anyone. know what she has done.
  • Having stolen Cinderella's birthright, she needs to keep Cinderella powerless; a husband would have the power to force her to turn over Cinderella's share of the father's estate.

She and her daughters are blowing through money so fast she has to help them hook husbands quickly and she wants one of them to land the prince.

There is a ticking clock on her goal, and there are consequences for her success that put constraints on how she will go about achieving the goal. At the same time, there are consequences for failure. This makes it clear she has to walk a knife edge all the way.

  • She knows what she is doing to Cinderella is wrong, but she loves her daughters so much she can't deny them anything.
  • The more she knows what she is doing is wrong, the angrier she is at Cinderella.
  • She doesn't want to lose her daughters and knows she will if they get married.

The invitation to the ball was phrased in such a way that she would break the law by prohibiting Cinderella from attending.

    Attaining her goal will result in her losing what she loves. At the same time, the more overtly she acts against Cinderella, the more guilty she feels and the angrier she becomes, which she justifies so that she can act against Cinderella even more overtly and egregiously. Her behavior in turn empowers her daughters to also act against Cinderella.


    Lisa Cron, in Wired for Story, provides a great list of layers that we can, and should, examine for sources of conflict in each of our main characters. She calls these the "versus" and writes that conflict in a story arises in between them.  That's a great way of looking at it.

    Conflict arises from:

    • The character's inner goal versus her external goal.
    • Goal versus an opposing character's goal.

    That's where, as writers, we often stop. But Lisa Cron points out that we need to go further.

    • The character's driving wound, the debilitating fear or thing she must learn to overcome, versus her motivation.
    • The character's desire versus some constraining or mitigating factor that would limit her drive toward fullfilling that desire: mercy, sense of justice, etc.
    • The character's goal versus the expectation of her family, society, etc.
    • The character's desire versus her existing circumstances.

    Are you seeing a pattern here? The character has to have a GOAL. She has to WANT that goal for a reason. And she needs reasons why achieving that goal is really, really HARD. The more reasons I, as the author, can create for why she needs to achieve that goal, the more I can make the stakes of failure clear, and the more I can make the reader sympathize with what she wants, the better it will be for the story.

    To make that work, I need to know my characters. All my characters. I need to know what they want, why they want it, and how what they want is opposed to what everyone else in the story wants.

    Making The Conflict Matter

    The conflict has to escalate as the story progresses, which means that I can't start with the greatest conflict in the book. Why? Because the reader doesn't care about the character yet, therefore she has no stake in the outcome of that conflict. To make the reader care about conflict, I have to understand the motivation behind the conflict and let readers see or be able to visualize the stakes inherent in that conflict. Believe me, I've succumbed to the temptation to start a story in mid-action. And I made the mistake of thinking that more kapow I put into that action, the better off I would be. Not so fast. There's a reason  for the advice that says to start the story on the "day that is different" instead of "the minute that is different." The day gives us the before so that readers can recognize the after. Without the contrast, readers wouldn't "get" the point of the story or recognize the character's transformation. It took me many drafts fiddling with the manuscript to learn that lesson.

    Making the Conflict Appropriate to the Genre and the Story

    Using the right level of intensity in the action is another reason i can't just throw more danger into the mix and think it is conflict. If I am writing a quiet romance, I'm not going to write-in a long series of gun-blazing chases and explosions. Why? Because from the first sentence of my novel, I have a covenant with my reader. I have to deliver what I promise, I just deliver it in a surprising way.

    Chekov's famous rule about not putting a gun on the wall in Act One unless you plan to use it in Act Three works in reverse, too. As writers, we can't put a gun in the story in Act Three unless we've established a foundation for it in the events that lead up to Act Three.

    The Upside of Deep Conflict with GMCT

    Okay, there are a lot of upsides, actually. But the main one is that if I know nothing else about my story than the GMCTs for all the characters, I'm not going to stray too far off the point of the story. To keep a nice, tight focus, all I have to do is keep testing events, actions, and reactions I want to put into the story against the mc's goal. I can ask myself one question:

    How will this event, action, or reaction make it easier or harder for the character to achieve her goal?

    If the event doesn't affect the goal, then either the event doesn't belong in this story, or I haven't figured out a connection my subconscious is trying to make for me about how this subplot weaves back to the main story. Either way, I need to spend some time making connections or cutting. Words are dispensible. The reader's attention isn't.

    How do you build deep conflict into your story? Have you found a different tool that works for you?

    Happy writing,


    Monday, September 24, 2012

    1 Final Edit for September 1st 5 Pages Workshop with Nancy Holder

    The final revisions are up for this month's First Five Pages Workshop based on suggestions the participants have received so far from all of us here and our incredible guest mentor, Nancy Holder.

    Please join in! Tell us what you think of the stories as they are now, and then look back to see where they've started. Read the comments to see how they've gotten there and then roll up your sleeves and see where you would suggest the writers go from here. What makes a great first five pages? What pulls you into a book? Have the participants captured that? Do you feel you know the story question and have a hint of the mc's inner conflict--the fear or problem that will be tested by the events in this story? Would you keep reading? Why or why not?

    Some of Nancy's Books
    This week's revisions are posted below. Just scroll down to read them. Then whether you're still working on writing your own manuscript, or in the process of revising, I encourage you to take advantage of the chance to see what Nancy has to say about the these manuscripts in her earlier comments as well as later on this week. Post your suggestions if you're willing, but even if you don't post them, think about what you would say. This is a master class all by itself and a great chance to apply Nancy's expertise to your own writing.
    About Nancy Holder
    Nancy Holder

    Nancy is an author whose work has appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, LA Times,, LOCUS, and other bestseller lists. A five-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association, she has also received accolades from the American Library Association, the American Reading Association, the New York Public Library, and Romantic Times.

    She and Debbie Viguié co-authored the New York Times bestselling series Wicked for Simon and Schuster. They have continued their collaboration with the Crusade series, also for Simon and Schuster, and the Wolf Springs Chronicles for Delacorte (2011.)
    She is also the author of the young adult horror series Possessions for Razorbill. She has sold many novels and book projects set in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Saving Grace, Hellboy, and Smallville universes.

    Nancy has sold approximately two hundred short stories and essays on writing and popular culture. Her anthology, Outsiders, co-edited with Nancy Kilpatrick, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in 2005. Pretty Little Devils and The Watcher’s Guide Volume 1 appeared in the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age, and The Watcher’s Guide Volume 1 also appeared on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller List in 1999. Saving Grace: Tough Love won the 2011 Scribe Award for General Fiction/Best Original Novel.

    She teaches in the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Program, offered through the University of Southern Maine. She has previously taught at UCSD and has served on the Clarion Board of Directors.

    4 1st 5 Pages September Workshop - Fyfe Rev 3

    Author: Rebecca Fyfe
    Genre: Middle Grade
    Title: The Necklace

    I rummaged through the attic. My nose tingled from the musty smell came from the boxes I was moving. I really just wanted to go watch some tv, but my mom asked me to find some things we could sell at the yard sale she planned for this weekend. The attic was full of my grandmother’s things. I missed Grams, and I hated the idea of selling her stuff, but mom had asked me to bring it all down.

    I sneezed as some of the dust from moving things around drifted into my nose. My allergies were going to be plaguing me for weeks after this. I moved a box full of dresses to the side to bring down later. Jackpot! I thought, looking at the label on the box below that read “jewelry.” I couldn't remember ever seeing my grams without jewelry. She always seemed to be draped in glittery necklaces and bracelets.

    I lifted the box to bring it downstairs. As I picked it up, something slipped out from a small tear in the lower edge of the box. I gently reached down with one hand while balancing the box against my hip and picked up a silver necklace. The necklace itself was a twisted rope chain and the pendant on the necklace was unusual. It was a five-pointed star, and in the center was a round stone. The stone was almost white but it shimmered and sparkled with different colors. I was surprised that it was in such good condition after spending so many years up in this attic.

    The shimmery stone mesmerized me, and I couldn’t help but put it on. I don’t know what came over me; I rarely wear jewelry, but something about this necklace whispered to me. Once I had put it around my neck and closed the clasp, an oddly comforting feeling settled over me. Mom would never let me keep it, but I suddenly couldn’t bear to part with it. It was a piece of grams. I tucked it under my shirt and continued stacking boxes to carry downstairs.

    Heading down the stairs, I thought I heard voices. My mom, dad and brother all seemed to be talking at once, each of them talking over each other. Their voices were somehow muffled though. Why weren’t they listening to each other? Strange.

    Wiping the dust from my hands on the legs of my jeans, I found my mom in the kitchen preparing dinner. “Mom, I brought a bunch of stuff down from the attic for the yard sale. I need you to look through it and make sure you’re not giving away anything you don’t want to, okay?” I secretly hoped she’d change her mind about selling grams’ belongings.

    “Sure, hon,” her mom said, "I can't look through it right now though. I've got some reports to finish writing tonight." She gave me a weak smile and I was certain just then I heard her say “I just hope we can make enough off of the stuff in the attic.” I was looking right at her while she’d been saying it, and I could swear she hadn’t moved her lips. Odd. Was my mom practicing ventriloquism?

    “Mom, did you say something?”

    “No, Sandra. Go get cleaned up. Dinner is almost ready,” my mom replied, and then, with mom not saying a word, I heard mom’s voice saying, “You are such a mess from playing around in the attic. Surely, you didn’t plan on eating dinner with those dirty hands?"

    "It's really dusty in there." I defended myself. "It's not my fault I got so dirty."

    "Pardon?" My mom had a little crinkle in her forehead as she looked at me. Did I just respond to something she thought? A tingle pricked along my chest. I looked down to find the necklace glowing.

    As I washed my hands, I looked at myself in the mirror. The necklace was definitely glowing. But the glow was fading. I wrapped my hand around it, without even thinking of what I was doing and a warm heat spread over my hand. A surge of curiosity about the necklace filled me, but before I could think more about it, mom called out to me.

    "Sandra, hurry up! Your dinner's getting cold!"

    I couldn’t stop wondering about the necklace. Where had my grams found it? How did it glow? Or was I just imagining its glow and that strange warmth coming from it when I held it? Had I really heard my mom’s thoughts? And if so, what did the necklace have to do with it?

    Jasper, my family’s dog, a huge Burmese Mountain dog, started barking loudly, interrupting dinner. That usually meant that someone was at the door. Sure enough, the doorbell rang. None of this was a surprise to me, but the soft male voice that I could hear beneath Jasper’s barking made me start questioning my sanity. The voice was saying “Someone’s at the door! Someone’s at the door!” over and over. It took a few minutes before it dawned on me that the voice was actually Jasper! I was hearing Jasper’s thoughts! How was this possible?

    It was the necklace. It had to be! I looked down at the necklace hanging around my neck and that subtle glow was visible again. How was the necklace doing this? I could hear my dog’s thoughts. Could I hear the thoughts of other animals too? While my mom went to answer the door and my dad and brother were busy talking about other things, I covertly unclasped the necklace from around my neck and slipped it into my pocket. I didn’t want to hear anyone else’s thoughts right now because the whole thing was freaking me out. Where had Grams found this necklace? Had Grams known it was magical?

    "May I be excused?" I looked at dad. "I have some homework to finish."

    "You're done?" My dad made a goofy, surprised face at me, "I can't believe you want to leave the table while there are still tacos to be eaten!"

    "Very funny, Dad."

    Dad smiled. "Go, do your homework. Your brother and I can take care of the rest of this food." He rubbed his hands together in pretend glee. I couldn't help smiling back.

    On my way to my room, I noticed the voices at the door. Curiosity about who was at the door overcame me. I slipped the necklace back on and tucked it back under my shirt. Tiptoeing into the hallway, I kept out of sight of my mom and the guest at the door.

    "You're late with the money, and, if you don't pay up, my next visit will be to start collecting your possessions." That’s what the guy at the door said, but I heard what he was thinking. "I hate this job. Why don't people just pay their bills on time and avoid having to go through this?"

    "I'll be caught up by Monday," mom told the man, but she was thinking, "How am I going to get that much money by Monday? The yard sale isn’t going to get us enough money."

    It was good thing no one could hear my thoughts, because the debt collector at the door would not be happy with the thoughts about him going through my head just then. I wanted to hit him. It wasn’t his fault; he was just doing his job, but the burn of anger worked its way through me and I needed to hit something. Then another thought hit me; this is why my mom wanted to sell off grams’ things.