Wednesday, July 31, 2013

8 August Pitch+250 Contest is Open for Submissions PLUS a Contest Success Story

The Contest is now closed to submissions.

The August Pitch+250 Contest is open for NA, YA, and MG submissions and will stay open until we receive 50 submissions. Get all the info here:

Our very first Pitch+250 success story is from Sarah Marsh. She was a finalist in the May contest and is now represented by one of the agent judges, Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis. Here's a link to Sarah's submission from the contest. Congrats Sarah and Christa! Thanks for sharing your success story with us!

Sarah Marsh's Success Story

Since I discovered their blog in winter of last year, Martina and Jan’s Adventures in YA Publishing has been one of the most enjoyable parts of my writing journey. Each week, I read the articles they post about ways to improve your craft, and the guest posts by other authors—they’ve certainly pushed me to think about my stories in new ways.

I began querying my YA Southern Gothic, No Such Thing, about a month before I heard about the May Pitch + 250 contestover on Adventures in YA. I had already met with some success while querying and in other contests, but I was really excited to give the Pitch + 250 a try, especially when I saw that Christa was participating as one of the agent judges for the top 10. See, I knew from researching that she represents high fantasy, and in addition to No Such Thing, I had a completed, polished YA high fantasy manuscript dying to be read. This made Christa one of my top choice agents!

In the Pitch + 250 contest, I was surprised and thrilled to be included among the top 25 entries, and felt quite humbled when I learned I was one of the top 10—the other finalists’ pitches and openings were so strong, and I would have loved to read their books.While waiting for the final scores to be tallied, Jan emailed me with a request from Christa to see more of No Such Thing!

To my amazement, about a month and a half after the contest, I wound up with four offers of representation from some genuinely lovely people. I kept saying how lucky I was, but my husband pointed out how hard I had worked for this, too—putting my book out there despite being shy, entering many contests, carefully researching agents, and above all, polishing my work and continuing to grow as a writer.

And when it came time to choose my agent, I knew who I most wanted to work with: the person who loves fantasy, horror, and all my other crazy book ideas. Christa is the perfect blend of friendly and professional. Someone I feel comfortable talking to, someone who inspires confidence, and who clearly works hard for her clients.I’m so thankful to Jan and Martina for bringing us together through their contest!

Christa also had some things to say about why she requested No Such Thing, and why she signed me (she’s just that great!):

I was drawn to No Such Thing and Sarah as I am a big horror/creepy/ghost story fan. No Such Thing has a little bit of everything—romance, eeriness, a compelling ghost story. Not to mention, Sarah can write! I also connected with her pitch for Goblin’s Price, a YA fantasy. A writer who does fantasy and horror, two of my favorite things? Yes, please!

Once we began speaking after I requested the manuscript I could just tell we were on the same page. We talked about her other WIP’s and she’s just easy to talk to. Besides loving the work, it’s also important to connect on a more personal level too.

Thank you so much, Martina and Jan, for the work you put into organizing and running this contest. I would definitely encourage other writers to enter the August Pitch +250. It’s a wonderful opportunity to stand out from the slush—even though (if you’re like me), putting yourself out there can be a little intimidating. Trust me, it’s well worth the effort!

Additional Info: If you’d like to say “hi,” you can find me on Twitter @SG_Marsh. I also recently started a blog, where I talk more about signing with Christa and give information on my other books:

2 Good Writing is Born of Dreams by Alissa Grosso

Don't forget - the August Pitch+250 Contest will open for NA, YA, and MG submissions today (7/31) at 6:00pm Eastern time. Get all the info here: 

We're so pleased to have Alissa Grosso with us today. She’s the author of the young adult novels Popular (Flux, 2011), Ferocity Summer (Flux, 2012) and Shallow Pond (Flux, 2013). She is also an assistant editor at The Lascaux Review.

Reality Checks Have No Place in This Business
By Alissa Grosso

Not too long ago I had the chance to speak on a panel with some fellow YA authors at a public library. Following the panel, I was chatting with one of the audience members, a teen boy who spoke with youthful excitement about the project he was working on, a graphic novel about a team of superheroes. This young writer showed me and another author some of the pages he had sketched out and talked passionately about his ideas, a story that still existed mainly in his head.

This young writer even had a plan for getting his work the attention he knew it deserved. He had done some research and learned that the director of two of his favorite films was one Chris Nolan. He was hopeful that he would be able to contact Mr. Nolan and discuss this project with him. When he said this, my slightly jaded inner adult wanted to warn him that this plan might be something short of realistic, that contacting a blockbuster Hollywood director might not be exactly doable. Thankfully, I had the good sense to refrain from delivering this reality check.

Writers as a group tend to be fairly optimistic; some might accuse them of being dreamers. I dare you to find a novelist who doesn't harbor the secret hope that one of these days Hollywood is going to realize their greatness and turn one of their works into an epic movie. My guess is a lot have their own belief that one of these days they'll be sitting down and chatting with Chris Nolan. The only difference between them and that teenager with his superhero tale is that they've learned to keep such dreams to themselves. This is probably due to the fact that their whole lives they've been listening to people tell them to be realistic.

Reality is all very well and good, but it has a nasty habit of killing creativity. It's not such a stretch to go from the reality check that says "I'm never going to speak with Chris Nolan." to the one that says "This book's never going to become a movie." to the one that says "Nobody is ever going to want to read this book so what's the point of slaving over it." You see, besides boundless optimism, another trait that almost all writers share is insecurity. A dose or two of reality can bring out this latent insecurity and next thing you know you're shelving that work in progress and deciding to become a dentist or an accountant or something else far more realistic than being a writer.

Good writing is born of dreams, and I don't mean the kind of dream where you're walking down your middle school hallway dressed only in your father's old, ratty underwear though such dreams have been known to inspire a story or two. Dreams of seeing our words in print, of discussing our book with Oprah or chatting about our ideas with a Hollywood director give us the courage to write our story. They motivate us and push us forward even when things like raging insecurity, writer's block and rewrites threaten to suck the life blood from us.

Start messing around with this reality business, though, and your writing will suffer. You'll stop taking chances. You'll dismiss wild and crazy ideas. It won't be long before you abandon fiction altogether in favor of writing television manuals and catalog copy for elastic waist pants because that sort of writing is safe, and you know that there's some desperate soul out there who will end up reading it.

Writers understand the idea of reality, but they don't pay it much mind. In fact, they've probably been hearing people their whole life telling them to be realistic. This may be why they no longer wear their passion on their sleeve. They probably don't speak in excited tones about their latest project to folks they've just met like that teenage boy who attended the library panel, but I assure you that passion and energy are just below the surface.

The people that make it in this business are the ones who never stop dreaming. Every book begins as a dream. Hard work and perseverance make the dream a reality.

I don't know if that young writer I met will ever get the chance to speak to Chris Nolan, but I do know that he'll never speak to Chris, if he stops believing that he can. So, that's why I'm glad I didn't bring up the ugly idea of reality when speaking to him. If his life is anything like mine, he'll meet plenty of people who will tell him to be realistic. That's not my place, because I'm a writer, and I know that reality is overrated.

About the Author

Alissa Grosso grew up in Bergen and Sussex Counties in New Jersey. She’s lived in the Pocono Mountains; Hunterdon County, New Jersey and, briefly, in a basement in Maine. These days she lives in a small town in Pennsylvania, but she can walk to New Jersey. (There’s a bridge.)

She holds a B.A. in English from Rutgers University and like most English majors has held a variety of jobs. In the past she has worked as a newspaper editor, a children’s librarian, a book distributor sales rep and a long, long time ago as a tavern wench complete with Colonial style costume.

These days she spends her days writing whether it’s work on a new novel or one of the freelance writing projects that helps to pay the bills and buy the cat food.

She shares her home with some more or less domesticated furry creatures and has been known to post the occasional cat photo and dog walk pic on her Tumblr. She enjoys spending her free time outdoors walking, running, biking or, when the weather allows, cross country skiing.

She is a member of The Class of 2K11, The KidLit Authors Club, The Elevensies and SCBWI. Alissa is represented by Jim McCarthy at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

About the Book

Sisters uncover an unbelievable family secret.

Barbara “Babie” Bunting is constantly mistaken for her sisters, but she’s determined not to end up like her family. She doesn’t plan to stick around Shallow Pond after graduation, and she certainly won’t be ruined by a broken heart. That is, until fellow orphan Zach Faraday walks into the picture, and Babie can’t deny their chemistry.

When her oldest sister, Annie, comes down with a mysterious illness—initially dismissed as “love sickness”—Babie and Zach start investigating what exactly killed the girls’ mother and why their late father became so consumed by grief. What they find changes everything.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

5 Tim Tharp on Breaking the Writing "Rules"

Breaking the Law
By Tim Tharp

Sometimes you just have to break the law. At least when it comes to writing novels. See, I just did it by using a sentence fragment. Writing workshops and how-to guides are filled with great advice, but when new novelists treat these rules as unbreakable commandments, they very well could end up with paint-by-numbers products that even they aren’t satisfied with. And that’s okay. When I was starting out, I wrote a whole novel just for practice. But once we know the rules, it’s time to let the desperado out.

Up front let me say that my main interests as a novelist are character, voice, theme, and inner conflict. Not that I don’t plot out my stories, but for me the plot is there to serve those ingredients rather than the other way around. That’s where breaking the law comes in for me.

So let’s start off with a big one—Write what you know.

I get it. Don’t write a novel about space ships if you don’t know about space ships. You don’t want to have your intergalactic space captain shouting orders to throw more wood into the furnace in order to outrun the evil Zorg. Unless you’re writing steampunk. At the same time it’s hard to stay interested in writing something you already know. It’s a lot more fun to be an explorer.

Here, I’m not talking about the workings of space ship engines but the workings of your characters hearts and minds and even your own heart and mind. I’m often asked if my characters are based on real people. Well, no they’re not. I’ll have a physical description in mind, but I discover who the characters are during the planning and drafting process. If this causes me to rework the plot, then I rework the plot.

The same goes for the theme. It’s a mistake to start out with a solid thesis and then make the story fit it. That’s boring for me. I know what the general theme is and then explore it and come out with a better understanding when I’m done. And then I revise to emphasize what I’ve learned. For example, in my novel BADD a girl has to come to grips with the changes in her war veteran brother. BADD is her term for bravery, but I wanted to explore an alternative to the usual guns and fistfights type of courage. I didn’t know what that would be until I got further into the planning and drafting stages and discovered more about the courage of everyday people, especially women. Not only is that a great reward for a writer, but it will keep your book from sounding preachy to readers.

Law #2: Show, don’t tell.

Again, great advice. Using concrete details to evoke emotion is more powerful than telling how the character feels. Why tell that your character is feeling alienated when you can describe the oil pump jack he’s looking at as “a rare animal cut off from its rightful tribe”?

But here are two reasons you may want to break this law. First, you can slow down the pace of your story when necessary by having first person narrators reflect on their pasts. For instance, in my novel The Spectacular Now, Sutter Keely loses his girlfriend in a dramatic breakup. The emotions have been running high, so it’s time to change the pace by having him sum up his past relationships and question why they never work out. Now we have some room to breathe before the next dramatic moment.

Second, giving a first person narrator time to tell opinions, philosophies, or even backstory is a good way to establish personality and voice. Trying to show everything can turn the first-person narrator into a camera instead of human being. Sutter Keely is somewhat of an unreliable narrator, often rationalizing his behavior to himself, so when he takes time out to reflect on his past relationships, readers can understand what his problems are even when he can’t. And he can exercise his voice more fully by waxing on about his troubles. Readers get to know him better. They can hear his personality rather than just seeing what he sees.

Here’s an excerpt:

Now, thinking about my exes is like looking at a flowerbed on the other side of a window. They’re beautiful, but you can’t touch them.

I have no regrets, though, no bitterness. I just wonder what the hell was going on inside their brains, inside their hearts, back in those days when we should’ve been getting closer and closer. Why did they want a different Sutter than the one they started out with? Why is it that now I’m friends with every single one of them and it’s always fun when we run into each other? Why is it that girls like me so much but never love me?

He’s not just explaining his feelings to the reader. He’s trying to explain them to himself, and in doing that, the reader thinks and feels along with him.

Law #3: The protagonist must prevail in the end.

Sure, stories can lift us up when we fight through struggles along with a character and we come out winning. But must all stories end that way? Look at Icarus—he didn’t get a chance to use those wings twice and come out soaring the second time. Romeo and Juliet? Spoiler alert: They die at the end.

Tragedies, large and small, can also be cathartic. We see the consequences of wrong decisions and actions, and although we may hurt along with the characters when they suffer those consequences, that pain is not only instructive but cleansing. Like I always say, sometime you have to journey down to that sweet, sad, beautiful broken heart of the world if you want to get sanctified. Therefore, The Spectacular Now—the book, not the film version—ends like it does. And that’s all I’m going say about that.

Other writing laws include forbidding the use of adverbs and insisting on a clear linear plot, though experimenting with time shifts has been done so often it has lost its experimental edge and become something of a law of its own. But I think you probably get the picture by now. Writers are creative. We resist hard-and-fast rules, but if we absorb them, we can turn them into part of our creative process. And then, when we want, we can go desperado, pull out our six guns, and shoot those laws full of holes. As long as we have a good reason.

About the Author

Tim Tharp lives in Oklahoma where he writes novels and teaches in the Humanities Department at Rose State College. In addition to earning a B.A. from the University of Oklahoma and an M.F.A. from Brown University, Tim Tharp has been a factory hand, construction laborer, psychiatric aid, long-distance hitchhiker, and record store clerk. His first novel, Falling Dark (Milkweed Press), was awarded the Milkweed National Fiction Prize. Knights of the Hill Country (Knopf Books for Young Readers) was his first novel for young adults and was named to the American Library Association’s Best Books of 2007 list. Tim’s YA novel, The Spectacular Now, (Knopf Books, Nov. 2008) was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and has been turned into a film of the same name. His subsequent novel, BADD, examines the relationship of fifteen-year-old Ceejay McDermott and her beloved older brother, a war vet who has trouble fitting into civilian life. His newest novel, the suspenseful Mojo, released in April.

Check out Tim's website | Follow Tim on Twitter


About the Book

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

10 Beginning Your Novel In Media Res by Cori McCarthy

We're so pleased to have Cori McCarthy on the blog today. Her debut, The Color of Rain, came out in May, and she is represented by Sarah Davis of Greenhouse Literary Agency. 

In Media Res 
by Cori McCarthy

“Of all the directions to be looking, I stare up. So I see her second foot leave the forty-something floor windowsill. Her dark form opens against the gray sky, her arms and legs out like a star falling—a falling star.”

The opening lines of my YA sci-fi thriller The Color of Rain depict a suicide jumper. The girl who is about to die means little to the plot outside of the fact that it kick-starts the main character, Rain’s, resolve to do something. To escape a dark and dreary life on Earth City. To save her brother. No matter what.

I hoped that this beginning would grip the reader and prove in the shortest amount of words that Rain is the kind of girl who will act. Make the hardest decisions. The darkest ones. A character who would charge forward and never, ever look back.

In graduate school, I was introduced to the phrase in medias res, a Latin term for in the middle of things. This is something that I take very seriously when writing and particularly when revising. In the first draft, I started the book earlier. Prior to Rain witnessing the suicide, she is walking down the street and arguing with her brother, but when revising, I chose to leave all that out. To begin in the middle of the scene. While this technique can cause momentary confusion, it can also sweep the reader into the momentum of a story about to takeoff. At least, that’s the hope!

After I learned about in medias res, I started to see it everywhere, and what I’ve had to pay close attention to is where the story begins. Should the writer start off right in the heart of bombs exploding? Or should she start after the mushroom cloud has gone up, and those in its wake stand staring, blackened with ash and blinded by fire? The answer to that is in what the writer is trying to signify to the reader. I.e. a story that begins with bombs detonating might be about retribution, whereas the story beginning with the immediate ashen aftermath might be about survival.

Let’s look at the opening lines from Melina Marchetta’s masterful book, Jellicoe Road:
“My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted. It happened on the Jellicoe Road.”

Got your attention, didn’t it?

The reader learns in the following lines that the narrator’s father died in a car crash, but instead of beginning with the crash or the preceding car ride, Marchetta launches the story in the middle of the accident—setting the stage for the enormous grief that touches every character in the novel.

Less dramatically, here’s an example from my favorite book, Jane Eyre:
“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed […]”

What do you think Charlotte Bronte was trying to imply with this opening? I feel immediate change. A suggestion that there will be an end to Jane’s wandering—not to mention dark foreshadowing of a life which will be full of walking through rain.

I could be accused of reading into things here, but I like to think that Bronte wrote these lines on purpose. That she began in the middle of a day wherein one small act would irrevocably change her main character’s life.

When it came to The Color of Rain, I wanted the opening to show Rain’s determination, but I also wanted to set an immediate tone. Writing sci-fi brings with it the blessing (and burden) of world building, and while I wanted to create a post-apocalyptic setting, I didn’t want to spend fifty pages outlining a downtrodden stage and its sad people. Instead, I adapted a memory that a middle school teacher once told me about his experiences as a young boy during the Great Depression.

One day, he was walking through the streets of downtown Cleveland with his father, only to witness a suicide jumper fall from one of the skyscrapers. No statistic or picture ever made me understand what the Great Depression might have been like that story. I held onto it, and when it came time to succinctly show Rain’s depressed world, I re-imagined my teacher’s experience in the hopes that that one moment would grip the reader and sweep them into Rain’s story.

About the Author

Cori McCarthy studied poetry and screenwriting before earning an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. The Color of Rain is her first novel, and she lives in Michigan.

Visit Cori's website
Follow Cori on Twitter
Like Cori on Facebook

About the Book

If there is one thing that seventeen-year-old Rain knows and knows well, it is survival. Caring for her little brother, Walker, who is "Touched," and losing the rest of her family to the same disease, Rain has long had to fend for herself on the bleak, dangerous streets of Earth City. When she looks to the stars, Rain sees escape and the only possible cure for Walker. And when a darkly handsome and mysterious captain named Johnny offers her passage to the Edge, Rain immediately boards his spaceship. Her only price: her "willingness."

The Void cloaks many secrets, and Rain quickly discovers that Johnny's ship serves as host for an underground slave trade for the Touched . . . and a prostitution ring for Johnny's girls. With hair as red as the bracelet that indicates her status on the ship, the feeling of being a marked target is not helpful in Rain's quest to escape. Even worse, Rain is unsure if she will be able to pay the costs of love, family, hope, and self-preservation.

With intergalactic twists and turns, Cori McCarthy's debut space thriller exists in an orbit of its own.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

17 QotW: What's Your Biggest Grammatical Pet Peeve?

Hey everyone! It’s Clara Kensie, back with a new Question of the Week! Pretty much the only thing writers love as much as writing is talking about writing. So each week here at Adventures in YA Publishing, I post a question for you to answer. The questions cover all topics important to writers: craft, career, writers’ life, reading and books. Together we’ll become better writers by sharing tips and discussing our habits and practices.

The other week, while putting the final polish on my manuscript, I discovered I’d used the word “it’s” instead of “its.” Easy enough to change, sure. But I was mortified. Why? This was, perhaps, the twentieth time I’d revised or edited this manuscript, and that grammatical error had been there since the very first draft. To make matters worse, the error was on page two. PAGE TWO! How did I miss it?

As authors, we’re expected to be experts in grammar. We should know the rules of grammar inside and out. Yet we all make grammatical errors sometimes. I’ll admit that I still get confused by lay/lie/laid. I have to look it up every time, and sometimes I’ll reword a sentence to avoid using it.

Question of the Week
July 21, 2013
What are Your Biggest Grammatical Pet Peeves?

What’s your grammatical pet peeve? Which grammatical errors make you cringe every time you see them: messing up there, their, and they’re, or pluralizing with apostrophes? Dangling participles? Inappropriate use of “quotation marks”?

photo credit: <a href="">-mrsraggle-</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

MY ANSWER: For me, it's a tie: using your instead of you’re (ex: Your #1!), and should of instead of should have (ex: I should of called him back). These grammatical errors make me shudder every time I see them.

YOUR TURN: What is your biggest grammatical pet peeve? While you’re at it, ‘fess up: what grammatical errors do you make every time?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

24 Young Adult Fiction Pick and Mix 7/27/13 Edition Plus PARADOX by A.J. Paquette Giveaway

 Thought for the Week

Young Adult Novel of the Week

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I love Gothics. Love em. Pair a creepy gothic with the sass, vivid characters, and all out humor Sarah Rees Brennan brings to all her books? Count me IN. And this one doesn't disappoint!

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I also LOVED:

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OMG. Holly Black! This beginning! As always her characters are layered, real, alive. Okay, maybe not strictly this time, but you know what I mean. If you had told me someone could come up with a totally new spin on vampires, one I WANTED to read, one I couldn't put down, I would have been skeptical had it been almost any other author. As it was? Read this. You won't be disappointed.

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Young Adult Giveaway  

Complete the form below to win a copy of PARADOX by A.J. Paquette

 Fans of James Dashner's Maze Runner series will love this postapocalyptic adventure about a girl who must survive an alien planet in order to save the Earth.

   Ana only knows her name because of the tag she finds pinned to her jumpsuit. Waking in the featureless compartment of a rocket ship, she opens the hatch to discover that she has landed on a barren alien world. Instructions in her pocket tell her to observe and to survive, no doubt with help from the wicked-looking knives she carries on her belt. But to what purpose?

   Meeting up with three other teens--one boy seems strangely familiar--Ana treks across the inhospitable landscape, occasionally encountering odd twists of light that carry glimpses of people back on Earth. They're working on some sort of problem, and the situation is critical. What is the connection between Ana's mission on this planet and the crisis back on Earth, and how is she supposed to figure out the answer when she can't remember anything?

Buy on Amazon | Buy on IndieBound | View on Goodreads

* * *

And Here Is the Winner

for last week's A MATTER OF DAYS by Amber Kizer:  Rana Dabagh

On Day 56 of the pandemic called BluStar, sixteen-year-old Nadia's mother dies, leaving her responsible for her younger brother Rabbit. They secretly received antivirus vaccines from their uncle, but most people weren't as lucky. Their deceased father taught them to adapt and survive whatever comes their way. That's their plan as they trek from Seattle to their grandfather's survivalist compound in West Virginia. Using practical survival techniques, they make their way through a world of death and destruction until they encounter an injured dog; Zack, a street kid from Los Angeles; and other survivors who are seldom what they seem. Illness, infections, fatigue, and meager supplies have become a way of life. Still, it will be worth it once they arrive at the designated place on the map they have memorized. But what if no one is there to meet them?

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Young Adult Reader of the Week:   

Marie Hemphill

Avid reader. Cookbook collector. Creative cook. Daring baker. Local/organic advocate. Farmer's Market goer. Cat owner (servant?). Loving (most of the time) wife :) 
 Follow Marie on Google+

* Want to be the reader of the week next week? Leave a comment on our Thursday or Friday posts! 

Young Adult Writer/Blogger of the Week: 

Avalon Jaedra of Writeabilit

Avalon writes YA paranormal, Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels because she loves writing about self-discovery and the complicated worlds of young people. Then she likes to take their emotionally-ridden lives and make them even more difficult.

She also has an addiction to movies, but that's another matter entirely.

Most importantly! She's having a half-million page views celebration this week! HUGE congrats to her! Her blog is a great resource for writers.

Here are a few of her posts:

Writing a Novel in 15 Steps from Idea to Querying
How to Edit in Passes
5 Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors
Character Development: Write Gray Characters

Head over to Writeability
Follow @Ava_Jae on Twitter 

* Want to be the blogger of the week next week? Leave a comment. I'll pick from among the bloggers who leave comments here on the blog today through Wednesday.

Writing Tip of the Week


Writing Inspiration     


More Writing Inspiration

Publishing News and Trends                         

Just for Smiles

What About You?                     

What are you reading? Writing? Have any quotes or thoughts you'd like to share? Did you find or write any book reviews or blog posts you want to let people know about?

Friday, July 26, 2013

33 FIVE YA Book Giveaways plus New YALit Releases 7/26-8/2


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by Aprilynne Pike
Signed Hardcover Plus Swag Giveaway
Released 7/30/2013

Love, fate, and power collide in this new series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Aprilynne Pike!

Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she starts to see strange visions of a boy she's never spoken with in real life, she begins to suspect that there's much about her past that she isn't being told. Tavia will soon to discover that she's an Earthbound--someone with the ability to create matter out of nothing--and that she alone holds the key to stopping the Reduciata, an evil society that manipulates global events for its own shadowy purposes. Tavia will ultimately have to make a choice: to come into her powers and save the world from the evil Reduciata or to choose free will and a love of her own.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Earthbound?

My favorite thing about EARTHBOUND is that it changed SO much between idea and publication. I switched editors mid-way through so even after massive changes there were MORE massive changes. But so for the best! I love the statue it turned into after the hunk of rock I started out with.:)

Purchase Earthbound at Amazon
Purchase Earthbound at IndieBound
View Earthbound on Goodreads

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Brother, Brother
by Clay Carmichael
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway
Roaring Brook Press
Released 7/30/2013

The day his grandmother dies, seventeen-year-old Billy “Brother” Grace discovers that he has a twin who has recently made headlines by nearly overdosing on drugs. His twin also happens to be the son of a powerful senator. His newly discovered family may not be all that interested in a cheery reunion, but Brother is determined to get answers. When he arrives on the secluded island off the coast of North Carolina where the senator and his family live, sparks will fly, old resentments will be released, and secrets revealed. Part coming-of-age story, part love story, Clay Carmichael's Brother, Brother is a book about finding out that who you are and where you come from aren't necessarily the same thing.
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Brother, Brother?

This varies, I admit. Some days it's my main character, Brother, who struggles mightily against passivity and whose deep kindness both serves him and holds him back. Other days it's his grandmother, Mem, who has died as the book begins, but through Brother and others is very much a presence and the story's moral center. Or Senator Grayson, who's powerful, ruthless, and charismatic all at the same time. Sometimes it's Mamie, Senator Grayson's sister, who I named for my late godmother and favorite aunt. Often, it's Trooper, Brother's prescient Australian-Shepherd mix. I grew up with dogs, but now have cats and miss dog energy in my life. So I gave myself the gift of Trooper and also his Labrador-friend, Frank, who's named after a wonderful Pointer of my grandfather's.

Today, though, it's Kit, who rescues Brother and five-year-old Jack at a rest stop early in the book. I love a fierce heroine, love-interest and muse, and she's all three and more--just what Brother needs and most desires, even though he may not know it at first. Kit appeared almost fully formed in an early draft, and from the first she was a real firebrand, saying to this author, "I'm here, and this is how things are going to be." A young woman after my own--and Brother's--heart.

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* * * *

Midnight Frost
by Jennifer Estep
Paperback Plus Swag Giveaway
Released 7/30/2013

Here we go again...

Just when it seems life at Mythos Academy can't get any more dangerous, the Reapers of Chaos manage to prove me wrong. It was just a typical night at the Library of Antiquities -- until a Reaper tried to poison me. The good news is I'm still alive and kicking. The bad news is the Reaper poisoned someone else instead.

As Nike's Champion, everyone expects me to lead the charge against the Reapers, even though I'm still hurting over what happened with Spartan warrior Logan Quinn. I've got to get my hands on the antidote fast -- otherwise, an innocent person will die. But the only known cure is hidden in some creepy ruins -- and the Reapers are sure to be waiting for me there.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Midnight Frost?

One of my favorite things about writing any of my books is getting to work on the action and fight scenes in the books. I just really enjoy writing action scenes and figuring out how my heroine can use her magic and wits to defeat the bad guys.

In MIDNIGHT FROST, I have an action scene at the Library of Antiquities at Mythos Academy, where my heroine, Gwen Frost, goes to school, as well as several action scenes outside of the academy. I hope that folks enjoy reading these scenes as much as I did writing them. Happy reading, everyone!

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* * * *

Prep School Confidential
by Kara Taylor
Paperback Giveaway
St. Martin''s Griffin
Released 7/30/2013

In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York's Upper East Side--that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne could care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella's body is found in the woods behind the school.

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella's twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn't quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne's snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read--even if it means framing her for Isabella's murder.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Prep School Confidential?

I grew up watching a ton of procedural mysteries on television-- my dad let me watch Law & Order Criminal Intent when I was young, and while it gave me nightmares at times, it shaped my love for the mystery genre. So my favorite thing about Prep School Confidential is the way Anne investigates her roommate's murder. Even though she doesn't have the resources the police do, she's able to crack the case using non-conventional means, almost becoming a Veronica Mars-esque PI. I love that about Anne, and I hope readers do too!

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* * * *

The Boy on the Bridge
by Natalie Standiford
Hardcover Giveaway
Released 7/30/2013

A new breathtaking novel from Natalie Standiford about love and trust during the Cold War.

Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, Laura immerses herself in the real Russia--a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she's been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right?

As June approaches--when Laura must return to the United States--Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She's only nineteen and doesn't think she's ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn't she take it?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Boy on the Bridge?

THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE is based on an episode from my real life, but it is also highly fictionalized. The first draft was too close to reality and didn't work at all, but I needed to write all that out before I could free myself from what really happened and transform my memories into a good story. Some of the characters are based on real people, some based on composites of real people, and some completely made up. Once they began to take on a life of their own I knew the novel was working.

So, to answer the question, my favorite thing about THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE is that I was able to use my real experience in my work, and given a chance to shape it, dramatize it, and otherwise make it "better." It's like being able to relive a period of my life that shaped me profoundly, and to think deeply about how and why it affected me. That's one of my favorite things about writing fiction in general, come to think of it: the way that everything that happens can be material for work.

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* * * *

by Em Garner
Hardcover Giveaway (3 Copies)
Released 7/23/2013

Winners: GSMarlene, thepagesage, Donna L. Sadd

After the Contamination - an epidemic caused by the super-trendy diet drink SlimPro that turned ordinary citizens into shambling creatures unable to control their violent impulses - the government rounded up the "Connies" to protect the remaining population. But now, two years later, the government's started sending the rehabilitated back home, complete with shock collars that will either stop the Connies from committing violent acts or kill them before they do any further harm.

Since her parents were taken in the roundup, Velvet Ellis has struggled to care for her ten-year-old sister and maintain a sense of normalcy, despite brutal government rations and curfews. She goes to the "Kennels" every day searching for her parents, and when she finds her mother, she's eager to bring her home. Maybe, eventually, they'll be able to get back to the way things were before. But even though it seems that her mother is getting better (something that the government says is impossible), there will be no happy transition. Anti-Connie sentiment is high, and rumor has it that an even worse wave of the Contamination is imminent. And then the government declares that the Connies will be rounded up and neutralized, once and for all.

Sacrificing everything - her boyfriend, her home, and her job - Velvet will do anything to protect her mother. Velvet has to get the collar off her mother before the military comes to take her away. Even if it means risking all of their lives.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Contaminated?

My favorite thing about Contaminated is thinking up all the ways the world might change when faced with an outbreak of this sort -- everything from something simple like not being able to find pizza rolls in the supermarket to the movie and television industry being ruined because so many actors and actresses were lost to the Contamination. I love imagining the worst (and best!) outcomes to different scenarios, and Contaminated let my brain have free reign to scare myself!

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* * * *

A Darkness Strange and Lovely
by Susan Dennard
Hardcover Giveaway
Released 7/23/2013

Winner: Taffy

Perfect for readers Libba Bray’s The Diviners and Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel series, this spellbinding sequel to Something Strange and Deadly delivers a mix of intrigue, supernatural forces, intense romance, and revenge, all set against the enchanting backdrop of nineteenth-century Paris.

With her brother dead and her mother insane, Eleanor Fitt is alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor hears the vicious barking of hounds and see haunting yellow eyes, she fears that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are after her.

To escape, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. But Oliver harbors a dangerous secret involving necromancy and black magic that entices Eleanor beyond words. If she can resist him, she’ll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over, and there’s a whole new evil lurking. And she is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there’s a price for this darkness strange and lovely, and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about A Darkness Strange and Lovely?

My favorite thing about A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY is how the characters interact and evolve. I just ADORE the newest character--Oliver (he's my favorite in the whole series)--and I love how much Eleanor has to grow during this book. Her relationships evolve right along with her character.

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* * * *

Shadows of Glass
by Kassy Tayler
Paperback Giveaway (2 Copies)
St. Martin''s Griffin; First Edition edition
Released 7/23/2013

Winners: Tiffany Drew, Darith L.

Wren's world has changed. The thing that she fought for, escaping the dome has come to fruition, but it's not the paradise she thought it would be. Most of the shiners have died, and according to James, she is to blame for many of the deaths, a burden which sits heavy on her shoulders. Still some have survived and Wren is determined to keep them safe as they fight to establish a home outside while hiding from the rovers who have weapons that can kill-- from far away. But as long as she has Pace she knows everything will be fine. Still Wren wonders, as she sees the smoke that continually pours forth from the dome, how did her friends inside fare? Will they ever find out if Lucy, David, Jill and Harry, along with Pace's mother survive the explosions?

Meanwhile, someone else has also seen the smoke. A band of explorers--from across the sea arrive in an airship, curious about the dome, and offering help to those who survive. When Wren meets the handsome Levi Addison, she suddenly questions her love for Pace as Levi offers to show her the world from his airship. Does she really love Pace? Or was it just the circumstances that made her think she did? Meanwhile, word arrives from inside via Pip, and Wren is forced to go back inside the dome, a thing that terrifies her more than anything else, to save her friends. Once she's back inside will she be able to escape again?

A whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a dystopian world where nothing is as it seems.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Shadows of Glass?

My favorite thing, besides the cover which I think is freaking awesome, is Levi Addison. Levi is an explorer from America and he became such an interesting character as I wrote him. His grandmother is a Sioux Indian and he spent some time with the tribe. He lost his parents at an early age and now travels with his
Uncle Lyon in an airship, the Quest, as they explore the world after the comet's devastation. Levi put an interesting twist on Wren's relationship with Pace and opened up the opportunity for Wren to question their feelings. Levi also supplies the opportunity for Wren, Pace and the rest of the survivors to find out about the world.

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* * * *

by Paul Blackwell
Hardcover Giveaway
Released 7/23/2013

Winner: Makaela

In Undercurrent, Paul Blackwell’s fast-paced YA thriller, sixteen-year-old Callum Harris survives a plummet over a waterfall, but wakes to find himself in a life that’s totally different from the one he knew.

His parents were separated. Now they’re together. His brother Cole was a sports star. Now he’s paralyzed. And Callum, who used to be quiet and sort of unpopular, is suddenly a jock with two hot girls after him.

But there’s one difference that matters more than all the others combined: His former best friend wants Callum dead. And he isn’t the only one.

Tense and original, Undercurrent is a psychological thrill-ride with sci-fi elements that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman and Neal Shusterman.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Undercurrent?

My favorite thing about UNDERCURRENT has to be its protagonist, Callum Harris. Writing the novel, I really wanted to capture the essence of an authentic teenage boy, with all the brooding, egotism, and uncertainty that comes from determining where the hell you fit in life. I then wanted to present him with truly mind-bending circumstances to see how he would fare.

Callum is a complex and contentious character. Outside of the fantastical elements of the story, at the center is a kid trying to cope with tragedy. I hope readers will appreciate Callum's genuineness and recognize his motives despite the darker aspects of his nature that I'd like to explore further in a future installment.

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* * * *

Bubble World
by Carol Snow
Henry Holt and Co.
Released 7/30/2013

Freesia's life is perfect. She lives on the beautiful tropical island of Agalinas, surrounded by idyllic weather, fancy dress shops, and peacocks who sing her favorite song to wake her up in the morning. She has so many outfits she could wear a different one every day for a year and not run out.

Lately things on the island may have been a bit flippy: sudden blackouts, students disappearing, even Freesia's reflection looking slightly . . . off. But in Freesia's experience, it's better not to think about things like that too much.

Unfortunately for her, these signs are more than random blips in the universe. Freesia's perfect bubble is about to pop.

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* * * *

by David Massey
Chicken House
Released 8/1/2013

Witnesses to a mystery on the battlefield, a British medic and an American Navy SEAL confront Afghanistan's fog of war.

In war-torn Afghanistan, a girl walks right into a hail of bullets: Elinor watches it with her own eyes. The young British army medic risks the line of fire to rescue her, only to realize the girl is gone.

To find the missing, mysterious child, Elinor enlists the help of an American Navy SEAL. But in all the confusion, with coalition troops fighting every day to maintain a fragile peace, does Ben have something to hide?

Elinor came to Afghanistan with the hope of changing hearts and minds: What she's about to discover will make her question everything she ever believed about love and war.

A war thriller. A cross-cultural love story with an undercurrent of magic realism. A powerful debut set in modern-day, battle-scarred Afghanistan. This is TORN.

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* * * *

If I Ever Get Out of Here
by Eric Gansworth
Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 8/1/2013

"A heart-healing, mocs-on-the-ground story of music, family and friendship." -- Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of TANTALIZE and RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME

Lewis "Shoe" Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he's not used to is white people being nice to him -- people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family's poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan's side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis's home -- will he still be his friend?

Acclaimed adult author Eric Gansworth makes his YA debut with this wry and powerful novel about friendship, memory, and the joy of rock 'n' roll.

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* * * *

Love Disguised
by Lisa Klein
Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition
Released 7/30/2013

Will Shakespeare is about to meet the girl who will change his life forever. After a mixed-up courtship with the Hathaway sisters ends badly, Will jumps at the chance to go to London, where he can pursue his dream of becoming an actor. There, Will meets the unusually tall (and strong) Meg who has earned the nickname "Long Meg" for her height. She's also fleeing her own past as an orphan turned thief. Disguised as "Mack," Meg was once a member of a band of boy thieves who betrayed her. When Will is robbed by those same villains, Meg disguises herself as "Mack" again--telling Will that Mack is her twin brother--in order to help Will recover his money. As Mack, she finds true friendship with Will. But is there more? And who is Meg really fooling with her disguise?

What ensues is a tale involving love triangles, mistaken identities, and the pursuit of hapless villains, as Shakespeare becomes a key player in a lively drama that could have sprung from his own pen.

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* * * *

Seven Minutes in Heaven
by Sara Shepard
Released 7/30/2013

Seven Minutes in Heaven is the nail-biting conclusion to Sara Shepard's killer series, The Lying Game. Like her #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars books, The Lying Game has also been adapted into an ABC Family TV show.

Sutton Mercer had the perfect life, great friends, and a gorgeous boyfriend--until someone murdered her. Then the killer forced Sutton's long-lost twin sister, Emma, to pretend to be her.

Now Sutton can only watch from beyond the grave as Emma frantically tries to figure out who killed her sister, and why. But when Sutton's body is discovered, Emma's time is up--and she becomes the number-one suspect herself.

In this final volume of The Lying Game, Emma learns the chilling truth about her sister's murder, but the killer will do whatever it takes to make sure Emma never breathes a word.

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* * * *

All Our Pretty Songs
by Sarah McCarry
St. Martin''s Griffin
Released 7/30/2013

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters--the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator--find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don't know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They're not the only ones who have noticed Jack's gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil--and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it's up to the narrator to protect the people she loves--if she can.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

4 Character Bucket List: Wren MacAvoy from Shadows of Glass by Kassy Tayler

Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out. Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire?

When one of Wren's friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.” What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.

Wren's Bucket List

What would you want to do if you spent your entire life living inside a dome? For Wren it’s pretty simple.

She wants to see the sun, the sky and the sea.
She wants to breathe fresh air.
But most of all she just wants to get outside and see for herself that the sky is blue, just like Alex said before he died.

It turns out that getting out is the hardest part.

But once she’s out, Wren realizes that the world is much bigger than what she originally thought. And there’s this handsome young man named Levi Addison who has an airship. Suddenly the possibilities are endless.

But Wren still concentrates on her new goals.
Staying alive and helping her friends that are still trapped inside.

About the Book

Wren's world has changed. She fought to escape her domed city, but it is not the paradise she imagined it would be. Most of her people, the shiners, have died, and the thought that she is mainly to blame is a burden that sits heavy on her shoulders. Still, there are survivors, and Wren, with Pace by her side, is determined to keep them safe as they fight to establish a home outside. But there are dangerous rovers outside the dome who have weapons that can kill from far away. How long can Wren and Pace keep their group safe?

Meanwhile, someone else has also seen the smoke. A band of explorers from across the sea arrive in an airship, curious about the dome, offering help to those who survived. When Wren meets the handsome Levi Addison, she suddenly questions her love for Pace as Levi offers to show her the world from his airship. Does she really love Pace? Or was it just the circumstances that made her think she did? Meanwhile, word arrives from inside via Pip, and Wren is forced to go back inside the dome, a thing that terrifies her more than anything else, to save her friends. Once she's back inside will she be able to escape again?

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About the Author

Kassy Tayler has always been a writer. Since the beginning of her memories, her biggest desire has been to put words to paper. Now she is living her dream and has several published novels to her credit in multiple genres. She's been married for several years to the man of her dreams and they have raised two exceptional sons. Tayler lives within the shadow of Pilot Mountain in North Carolina where she helps with animal rescue through her local humane society. She is the mother to Cody, a doxie, and Cisco and Dax two very interesting cats.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

17 Writing to the End of Your Story by Stacey Kade

Keep Swimming
By Stacey Kade

Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of writing advice. Some of it has proven useful; some not. (Can we talk about how frustrating “Write what you know” is? Gah.) But one piece of advice—with a single addendum—has made all the difference to me. It’s something I wish I’d known from the start.

Here it is: Write all the way to the end. Don’t go back and “fix” (or quit) until you have something resembling a draft. A beginning. A middle. An end.

Or, at the very least, a beginning and an end.

You can have schizophrenic characters, plot holes aplenty, and rambling notes to yourself everywhere. Fine. That’s exactly what drafting is supposed to be. But don’t stop until you’ve got something that’s vaguely story-shaped.

If you get to page 100 and realize your main character should really be a double-amputee war veteran with survivor’s guilt instead of a prom queen with daddy issues (um, wow), make a note of the changes required for earlier chapters but KEEP WRITING with your veteran as the lead instead.

Some writers keep a running Word doc of all the changes they need to make in the second draft. I prefer to use the sticky note feature in Word and leave my future self notes about what needs to be corrected.

Whatever works for you is fine. The point is to keep making forward progress. Keep swimming. Fight your instinct to go back and fix. To quote Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!” Fixing is quicksand that looks like an oasis.

Why? Well, there are a few forces at work.

First, fear.

It’s ridiculously easy to get sucked into polishing, worrying over every word in the first three chapters instead of pushing forward and writing chapter four. Fixing is easier than writing. It requires less mental and emotional sacrifice. And when pressed, we’re always going to go for the easy out when we’re afraid. This project, whatever it is, is important to us and we don’t want to screw it up or look like an idiot. So it’s better to obsess over what we’ve got and make it perfect, right?

Uh, no. First, there’s no such thing as perfect, and chasing that is a fool’s game. Second, every writer sits down and faces her/her fear every damn day. You will never have absolute confidence that what you’re doing is right. The best you can do is have faith, take a leap, and write the next chapter.

Two, compromised judgment.

We are own worst critics. When you’re in the middle of writing a first draft, you have NO idea what’s good and what’s not. You are in no position to judge. Think of it as a brain surgeon operating on herself. While intoxicated.

Chapters I actively HATED while writing have ended up being some of my favorites, ones I’m really proud of. I honestly have no idea why that is.

Stephen King says it best in On Writing: “Running a close second [as a writing lesson] was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it's hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

Three, you don’t know what you need until you need it.

All the prep work in the world cannot take the place of actually writing the book. There is simply no way to think out an entire book. You just can’t. There are too many variables, too many details. Even the most devoted of outliners will admit that sometimes the story or characters veer off the designated path into uncharted territory.

Do the prep work. Make your outline. But know that actually writing the book may change your understanding of a character or situation. And when that happens, you need to keep writing. A book is a living, breathing creature, fluid and changing. That character or situation may not be done evolving. If you go back and make adjustments too soon, you may end up doing it over and over again.

I know this from personal experience. When working on my first book sold on proposal, I stopped writing my first draft, three-quarters of the way through. I was convinced it was absolute crap, and nothing could save it.

I listened to the fear and the panic in my head and scrapped the draft. I immediately started a new draft, which turned out to be overly complicated, convoluted and messy because I was trying to address every perceived inadequacy of that first draft.

I turned in that second draft and hated it. In revisions, I ended up rewriting that book completely except for maybe 10 pages in the middle. I love it now, but getting there? I was exhausted and terrified.

The funny part is, when I went back and looked, my first draft, the one I scrapped, was actually a much better book than the draft I initially turned in. If I’d finished that first draft all the way to the end, I likely could have skipped the horrible second draft because I would have seen the issues more clearly and known what I needed to do to fix them.

Write to the end. No matter what.

Well, great, you might say. Now what? I have to slog through this horrible, miserable first draft all the way to the end. That sounds like fun. Thanks a lot, Stacey.

Wait. Remember that addendum I mentioned? Here it is: you have permission to write a sh*tty first draft. Getting into this deeply would require another blog post. But this beautiful and freeing gem of wisdom comes from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Go. Read it now, please, I beg you.

The basic idea is that the pressure to get something perfect on the first try is paralyzing. It kills creativity. So, give yourself the freedom to make a mess and have fun with your first draft. Will there be insane bits that make no sense? Yep, but there’ll be some really good stuff in there too.

So, write all the way to the end and don’t be afraid to make a mess of it. You get more than one draft to make things right. Keep swimming.

(Disclaimer: This method works for me, but as you know, there is more than one way to write a book! And, apparently, skin a cat. But you wouldn’t do that. Cats are nice.)

About the Author

As a former corporate copywriter, Stacey Kade has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps. But she prefers to make things up instead. She is the author of The Ghost and the Goth trilogy from Disney-Hyperion (The Ghost and the Goth, Queen of the Dead, and Body & Soul). Project Paper Doll, her new series with Hyperion, launched with The Rules in April 2013.

When she's not reading or writing, you'll likely find her on Twitter (@staceykade) or parked in front of the television, catching up on her favorite shows—Scandal, The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, Suits, and others. Stacey lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their two retired racing greyhounds—Walker and Pansy.

Website | Twitter  | Facebook  | Blog

About the Book

1. Never trust anyone.
2. Remember they are always searching.
3. Don’t get involved.
4. Keep your head down.
5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…

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