Tuesday, December 29, 2015

1 Happy Holidays Hiatus

Hi, everyone! I'm taking a bit of a holiday break, so Tuesdays will be dark until the middle of January. Wishing you all the best!


Monday, December 28, 2015

15 GIVEAWAYS and New Releases for this Last Week of 2015

It's the last Monday of 2015! Next week, we'll be bringing you new releases from a whole new year. There are loads of new titles to look forward to in 2016, including some stunning debuts... but for now, it's all about these amazing new releases gracing the last few days of 2015. Read, enjoy, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Happy reading,
Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Sandra and Anisaa

Saturday, December 26, 2015

0 Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop Opens January 2!

Our January workshop will open for entries on Saturday January 2, 2016, at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have author Sharon Cameron and agent Laura Crockett!

January Guest Mentor –  SHARON CAMERON

SHARON CAMERON is the author of The Dark UnwindingA Spark Unseen and Rook. She was awarded the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Sue Alexander Award for Most Promising New Work for The Dark Unwinding, which was her debut novel. Sharon lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee, and you can visit her online at www.sharoncameronbooks.com.


History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a single, red-tipped rook feather left in their place. The mysterious Red Rook is the savior of the innocent, and a criminal in the eyes of the government.

Meanwhile, in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from financial ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to the doors of Bellamy House, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

Who needs a wedding ring when you can pick up a sword?

Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online at:

Rook by Sharon Cameron at AmazonRook at Barnes & NobleRook at Powell's BooksRook by Sharon Cameron at Indiebound

January Guest Agent – LAURA CROCKETT

Laura Crockett, an agent at Triada US, is interested in a variety of YA and adult fiction. In YA, she is interested in contemporary realistic fiction (such as study abroad experiences, strong female friendships, falling in love, anxiety and abuse), high and low fantasy, and gothic horror. In adult fiction, she is interested in WWI and WWII historical fiction, gothic horror, neo-Victorian mystery, contemporary women's fiction, and fantasy.

0 Estelle Laure, author of THIS RAGING LIGHT, on giving the writing gods opportunities to inspire

We're thrilled to have Estelle Laure with us to share more about her debut novel THIS RAGING LIGHT.

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

I love the scenes between Lucille and Eden at the river. The setting has a magic to it with the trees and the moon, and the conversations remind me of an intimacy that is particular to female relationships at that age. Delicious.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I’m told I’m in the Jandy Nelson/ Rainbow Rowell universe, although I bow down to them, as well I should.

Friday, December 25, 2015

3 Best Craft Tips of 2015 from Adventures in YA Publishing, part A

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all those celebrating! As another year winds down to a close here at Adventures in YA Publishing, we'd like to celebrate by sharing with you some of the choicest tidbits from our fabulous craft of writing guest bloggers of 2015. No matter how long we've been writing or how many books we've sold, writers can always use reminders of the craft techniques we've learned, or perhaps, catch a new idea we've not considered that will help us shape our next story.

So, after the presents are opened, the food enjoyed, and the family and friends held close, sit back with a cup of something warm and spicy and review these craft points below to help you ponder where you are in your current WIP and where you want to take it in the new year. Then, be sure to come back next Friday, New Year's Day, for part B of our Best Craft Tips of 2015 from Adventures in YA Publishing!

From: The Infamous Arc. How much do characters really have to change? by Madeleine Kuderick

Regarding character transformation:

So in the end, I agree with Flannery O’Connor. It’s the change that makes the character interesting. But, the change doesn’t have to be a tsunami of events played out unrealistically across the page. It can be just a drop. A hint. A ripple. Enough to let the reader know that transformation is possible. That your character actually wants to change. That’s enough. In fact, that’s everything. And the reader will follow your character to the very last page.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

1 Write First by Estelle Laure

We're excited to welcome Estelle Laure to the blog today, as our last writer giving us advice on writing for 2015! Estelle's debut, THIS RAGING LIGHT, released this week (and we're giving away a copy in our Monday roundup post). Today, she's talking about putting writing first. 

Write First by Estelle Laure

This is my fantasy: I wake up easily, filled with energy and a general sense of gratitude and wellbeing. I meditate because that solves all my problems and stimulates the creative part of my brain. I then write in my journal, those morning pages everyone talks about, three neat composition pages of all my inner turmoil. I use writing prompts about childhood, red wagons, swings, the smell of cookies.

I follow that with a nutritious breakfast. I drink green tea because coffee is just so harsh.... I then sweat it out in a hot yoga class, squeeze the last of the toxins from my perfect skin.

I arrive home again rested, alive, well cared-for and after drinking an 8oz class of lemon water, taking the dog for a brisk walk and then getting the kids up and ready for school without a hitch, I sit down in my perfectly clean house, having tackled all distractions, having cleansed both body and mind, and I turn to the word, create brilliantly and flawlessly for the six hours my children aren’t home, and then greet them with energy and perfect love at the end of the day.

It has taken me a long time to figure out just how much of a fantasy this is.

Monday, December 21, 2015

12 New Releases with Author Interviews and a Giveaway this Week 12/21

On the last Monday before Christmas, Adventures in Young Adult Publishing gave me... two wonderful new releases, one of which we're giving away! THIS RAGING LIGHT is the debut of Estelle Laure, and we're giving a signed hardcover to one of our readers.

Happy reading,
Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Sandra and Anisaa

Saturday, December 19, 2015

2 The Books That Made Us Laugh and Cry in 2015

Due to the slowdown in publishing here at the end of December, we don't have any interviews for this weekend. Instead, we thought we'd share some of our favs from 2015. I asked the AYAP team these two questions:

Which book published in 2015 made you laugh so hard your stomach ached?

Which book published in 2015 made you cry hard enough to destroy a box of tissues?

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is laugh-out-loud funny, but it also distinguishes itself with a clueless but caring family, a wonderful and diverse cast of friends, and a self-discovery journey that feels wonderfully honest.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson wrung me out like a towel—a towel soaked with tears. I read it last month and, partly because I’ve done so much research on PTSD for Cassie (in Persuasion) I found myself carrying the emotions around with me, thinking about it at random moments.

Laughed: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.

Cried: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed and The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski.

The book that made me cry the most is Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez. It's a haunting, beautiful, heartbreaking and romantic tale of two star-crossed lovers that takes place during one of the worst school disasters in the US (the 1937 New London school explosion). Both characters are struggling to find their own place within the world, within each other's world and within the future world. I have never sobbed harder than reading this book!

I can't think of a super funny book I read this year though! :(

I am TOTALLY cheating here, but I’m using the same book for both. I laughed, I cried, and was genuinely surprised and delighted by BONE GAP this year. It’s the book that I keep thinking about all these months later, so I’m choosing it for both its quirky humor (you HAVE to love Finn) and it’s touching revelations about the human condition.

I can't recall which book made me laugh, but I couldn't stop crying while I read the latter pages of Illuminae, to the point where my partner very seriously asked me what was wrong. That book wrung me out completely.


The footnotes in The Truth Commission by Susan Juby especially made me laugh.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon made me sniffle.

So what books did you read this year that had you LOLing or grabbing for the tissues?

Friday, December 18, 2015

2 Letting Your Characters Speak Through You by Shaun David Hutchinson

We're so thrilled to welcome Shaun David Hutchinson back to the blog today. Shaun is an author who's not afraid to explore the darkest depths of his story and the pain of his characters. Today, Shaun gives us some insight into how he gets his characters to speak in such strong voices...by listening and letting them speak through him. After you enjoy his post, be sure to check out his upcoming release below, We Are the Ants.

Let Your Characters Speak: A Craft of Writing Post by Shaun David Hutchinson

Voice. It's my strength as a writer. I struggle when it comes to plotting and I'm definitely no Melina Marchetta when it comes to prose, but character voice is my jam.

Understanding character voice requires understanding your characters. Who they are, where they come from, the experiences that have shaped them. Think about who you are. You are the sum of your experiences. Of the years and hours that you've lived through. The things you love, the things you fear, the moments that terrified you, and the ones that broke you to pieces. You are a patchwork quilt. Each new experience informs how you view the world. The same goes for your characters.

The difference between you and a character is that you are always living in the present. Your past is always behind you. When it comes to a character, you have to develop their past. Where did your character grow up? What fascinates them? What scares them? Are their parents divorced? Are they religious? Did they grow up in a religious household? Were they read to as children? What are their comfort foods? What informs their worldview? What were their favorite toys as kids? No detail is inconsequential.

When I was three or four (it changes depending on who I ask), I nearly electrocuted myself when I found a screwdriver and attempted to take apart the clothes dryer in our garage. It seems like a silly anecdote, a funny little story. But here I am at 37 and one of my favorite things to do is take apart and repair machines. I view them as problems to be solved. And I view most things that way. Whether it's computer code or a troublesome plot or even people. I look for ways to take apart and fix the world around me. I can trace how I approach the world all the way back to my near-fatal experimentation as a toddler. That one incident informs how I view the world.

My next book is called We Are the Ants, and it's about a young man named Henry who thinks he's an alien abductee. His world is chaos, so he clings to science as a way to bring order to his world. Everything he does is viewed through that scientific lens. He imagines the past as viewed from far flung stars. He considers the gravitational force between himself and the boy he's making out with. Science is ingrained in Henry's voice. It's who he is.

Creating an authentic character voice is about more than speech patterns and slang—those things are important, however I remain skeptical about the use of slang, which can quickly date a book—it's about creating an authentic character and then allowing that character to speak honestly. Before you can discover the world through your character's eyes, you have to discover your character. You have to set aside your own voice, your own experiences, and let your character do the talking without reservation, without hesitation. Let them speak their truths, warty sentiments and all.

How you get to know your characters will depend a lot on how you write. I'm a pantser, so I get to know my characters over countless drafts, allowing each new discovery to shape the narrative. If you're an outliner (and I envy those of you who are), you could write a history of your character before you begin. Maybe journal entries written from their point of view. But whatever method you choose, you'll have to get to know your character before their voice can begin to shine through.

In my opinion, character voice is one of the most difficult aspects of a book to get right. It requires getting out of your own head and seeing the world through the eyes of another person. Slipping into their skin and thinking about how they view the world, how they would react, what they would say in each and every moment. But I also believe it's the most important part of a book, and worth doing well. Don't try to speak through your characters, let your characters speak through you.

About the Book:

From the “author to watch” (Kirkus Reviews) of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes a brand-new novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving.

Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.

Only he isn’t sure he wants to.

After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.

Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.

But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

About the Author:

Shaun David Hutchinson is the author of The Deathday Letter, fml, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, and We Are the Ants, and the editor of the school shooting anthology Violent Ends. He lives with his partner and dog in South Florida and watches way too much TV.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 -- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

3 Becoming a Writer by Suzanne Nelson

Today we welcome Suzanne Nelson, author of the upcoming SERENDIPITY'S FOOTSTEPS to the blog. It can be a long, convoluted road to becoming a writer, and Suzanne is talking about her own fascinating journey below. 

Becoming a Writer by Suzanne Nelson

When people ask me when I became a writer, two responses come to mind. The first response: in utero, or close to it. I can’t remember a moment in my life when I did not want to write. That doesn’t mean, however, that I understood what it meant to be a writer or even how to write something other people would actually want to read. Which brings me to my second response. I became a writer when I became an editor.

Oh yes, I was writing long before I packed a suitcase, blindly answered a roommate-wanted ad for a tiny Bronx apartment, and took a job as an editorial assistant at a children’s publishing house in Manhattan. I was in my twenties and writing daily. In fact, I had finished one coming-of-age novel already and was working on a second. I was filling pages with stabs at fiction, adult and children’s. But who was my readership? That’s right. Me, myself, and I. Without the eight years I spent working with other authors, editing other people’s manuscripts, I would never have become a published author.

My education in the art of writing began with reading. As an editorial assistant, I was expected to stay in-the-know with publishing trends and review journals. When I first began in children’s publishing, I had a fierce loyalty to the books of my own childhood—Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle in Time, Little Women, and more. It had been years since I’d browsed the children’s corner of bookstores to see what was new. It didn’t take me long to realize how out-of-date or redundant many of my own writing ideas and stories were. Soon, I was scouring shelves in bookstores, devouring Publishers Weekly and Publishers Lunch for the latest deals and publishing trends, and stretching my meager budget thin to buy new releases. Other authors’ books became a means for me to study voice, characterization, and idea execution.

The second formative moment in my education as a writer came when I wrote my first rejection letter. I’d been instructed to pluck a children’s book submission from the towering stack residing beside my desk, read it, and decide whether it was worthy of being passed on to my supervisor for consideration, or returned to its creator with a few succinct but polite words of refusal. Dutifully, I read the submission, and as I did, something incredible happened that never happened when I read my own writing. I could see its strengths and weaknesses, and I could “feel,” usually within the first few paragraphs, whether it showed promise as a potential book or not. Like a doctor examining a patient, I assessed a submission’s “vital signs” and made a diagnosis of what might be remedied.

With some submissions, I’m sad to say, there was nothing I could to do to help. This is where I developed another important quality that helped my writing career: empathy. Because of my own dream of becoming a published author, I developed compassion for other people’s dreams. I didn’t want my own work to be rejected any more than I wanted to reject someone else’s. But rejection, doubt, and criticism, I came to understand, were part and parcel of the publishing world. I tried to reject submissions as gently and kindly as I could. I wish you the best of luck, I wrote in my letters. Or, keep trying. I wrote the letters at work, then went home to open my mailbox and find my own stories had been rejected with much the same sentiments. I decided that if I was telling so many others not to give up, I certainly couldn’t either. Empathy gave me persistence and bravery.

Empathy also drove my desire to help other writers succeed. When a submission hooked me, my response to it was as much physical as emotional. My pulse raced, excitement surged, and I felt an unshakeable passion for the story that made me want to share it with the world. None of the books I acquired came to me perfect, and yet, I loved them unabashedly, flaws and all. That love fueled my dedication to helping authors whip their stories into publishable shape. That love poured into the revision letters I wrote to my authors and into the line edits I made to manuscripts. I wanted my authors’ books to be the best they could be, not only for their sakes, but for their readers. It was what I wanted for my own writing, so of course I’d want it for theirs.

It was through the hours I spent editing other peoples’ work that I was able to develop a measure of objectivity when it came to my own. It was a slow learning curve, but eventually, I was able to study my manuscripts with an editor’s eye. The editor’s eye let me hone in on problem areas, identify repetition, and strengthen my style and plotting. It made me leery of the pitfalls I saw so often in submissions and helped me to avoid them. It made me strive for more original ideas and veer away from the “old reliable” stories of my childhood. It made me a better writer and a stronger critic. That’s not to say that I can always see the faults in my work or know how to fix them. I may have an editor’s eye, but I still have a writer’s heart. I will forever need the astute observations of my editors and agent to guide me and help me see what I could never on my own.

There is no checklist for what makes a book publishable. None of the other talented authors and editors I worked with ever shared a secret recipe for a “good book.” I came to understand that their instincts led them in much the same way mine led me. And the magic that happens when we fall in love with a manuscript, whether it’s our own or someone else’s? Like the writing process itself, it remains just that. Delightfully, mysteriously magical.

The many authors I’ve worked with or read may never realize the gift they gave me. They may never know how working with them on their writing and reading their books strengthened my own. But they have my thanks. They were the best writing teachers I could ever have hoped for.


Dalya is the daughter of a cobbler in 1930s Berlin, and though she is only fifteen, she knows she will follow in her father’s footsteps. When she is forced into a concentration camp one violent November night, she must leave behind everything she knew and loved.

Ray is a modern-day orphan, jagged around the edges in every possible way. She sees an impulsive escape to New York as her only chance at happiness; there, she knows she’ll be able to convert her sorrows into songs.

Pinny is an unwavering optimist and Ray’s unintended travel companion on her passage to a new life. She inherited from her eccentric mother a fascination with shoes as a means of transformation and expression.

A single pair of shoes entwines these lives. How these women connect across different times and places is an unforgettable story of strength, love, bravery, memory, and the serendipity that binds us all together.

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads


When she was in kindergarten, Suzanne Nelson jotted down in a school keepsake album that she wanted to be a “riter.” Though she clearly had issues with spelling, she persisted, composing cryptic poems about rainbows, fairies, mud, and even Star Wars in spiral notebooks all through elementary school. When she was seventeen, she filled four journals with her handwritten first novel, titled “The Dream Keeper.” To escape her chores, she often lied to her parents about what time her shift started at the local fast food joint so that she could spend an extra hour writing in the parking lot in her mom’s faded Buick. Her first published novel was The Sound of Munich, followed by Heart and Salsa, The Ghoul Next Door, Cake Pop Crush, You’re Bacon Me Crazy and Dead in the Water. She is a shameless fan of “The Sound of Music,” Hershey’s kisses, Charlotte Bronte, and Jane Austen, and can often be caught daydreaming of romping about gothic castles in lovely Victorian gowns. She was born in New Jersey, grew up in Southern California, attended college in Texas, and spent eight years as a children’s book editor in New York City. After decades of searching for her geographic “promise land,” she now lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut, with her husband and three children. When she is not busy playing the part of chauffeur, chef not-so-extraordinaire, and “Mommy Craziest,” she can be found locked happily away in her office writing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

2 How to Publish a Book . . . Five Options and Key Pros, Cons, and Factors to Consider

Getting a book published is a dream many people share, and "How can I get my book published?" is one of the most common questions I get when I'm speaking at an event. The answer is complicated.

I was fortunate to receive a six figure advance on my first book deal with a "Big Five" trade publisher, but believe me, I'm very aware of how rare that is. At the time, I didn't consider any other option than traditional publishing. I was aware that other options existed, but I wanted the pleasure of seeing my physical book in the bookstores and into the hands of readers. With two books out in the world now and  another on the way, I've had to dive into the world of promotion and the business side of publishing as well as the actual writing and editing, and I've had the chance to see how books really do reach readers. It's been an eye-opening experience, and because I so often get the "How do I get published?" question, I'd like to share a little insight into some of the common denominators that can serve as guideposts.

Monday, December 14, 2015

2 New Releases PLUS Author Interviews for this week of 12/14

It's a quiet week in the book world as we ramp up for Christmas and the New Year. As such, we don't have any giveaways this week, but we're starting to round up some amazing books for 2016. It's going to be a great year!

Happy reading,
Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Sandra and Anisaa


Come Back to Me by Mila Gray - Gloria C.
Wandering Star by Romina Russell - Kara S.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

3 Best of AYAP: Engaging the Reader

Reader engagement is one of the hallmarks of a great novel. Think about it, you haven't heard anyone talk about a novel they love without telling you exactly how hard they were drawn into the story. But when reader engagement is such a tricky thing to nail down, it can be difficult to tell whether your draft has what it takes to be a truly engaging read.

Luckily, the components of reader engagement can be narrowed down to a few key components, including the balance between show and tell, use of tension, and voice. The articles below have great advice on how to manage all three, sending you well on your way to creating your most engaging novel yet!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

1 Romina Russell, author of WANDERING STAR, on letting your inner light burn even brighter

WANDERING STAR is the second book in the Zodiac series, and we're excited to have Romina Russell here to tell us more about it.

Romina, what do you hope readers will take away from WANDERING STAR?

If ZODIAC dealt mostly with universe-building, WANDERING STAR is all about character. My biggest hope for readers who pick up this book is that they’re reminded that even people who think differently than they do deserve to be heard. And above all, I hope they enjoy themselves!

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

My road to publication felt endless, but in technical terms, it took ten years. ZODIAC was my first published novel, and even before I started writing it, I'd already completed five full-length manuscripts, including one that I re-wrote entirely at least four times—and I’m actually working on a fifth iteration of that very story now! Apparently, I don’t give up on characters easily…not even when they’re driving me CRAZY.

1 Mila Gray, author of COME BACK TO ME, on writing something with lots of heartbreak

We're thrilled to have Mila Gray join us to share more about her novel COME BACK TO ME.

Mila, what was your inspiration for writing COME BACK TO ME?

My first book, which is a young adult book written under my real name Sarah Alderson, is called Hunting Lila. It’s actually casting at the moment and is going to be a movie (very exciting!). That book was set near to San Diego and two of the main characters worked on the Marine base near to there. When I was asked to write a book for a slightly older audience I immediately thought about that setting. I wanted to write something compelling and real with loads of heartbreak and war and its affects are something I’m very interested in.

I knew I wanted to write something with lots of heartbreak but also something that captured the thrill of an illicit first love. I wanted all the feels! I discovered that I’m really good at writing hot sex… which is somewhat embarrassing. I’ve had to ban my parents from reading my Mila Gray books. They’re a bit too risqué.

Friday, December 11, 2015

0 On Creating an Action Heroine Without Legs by A.L. Davroe

Author A.L. Davroe joins us today to discuss the important issue of physical imperfection in characterization. Many of us as writers struggle with the need to create characters who are not perfect in looks, personality, or health, and who reflect real-life diversity, including physical. A.L. created a strikingly different sort of Cinderella character and is here to share why and how.

Why I cut off my character’s legs, why I gave them back to her, and why I didn’t focus on her recovery by A.L. Davroe

One of the things that sets the main character of Nexis, Ellani Drexel apart from other YA heroines is that she has no legs. I did this on purpose. I took a character who was at a severe disadvantage from the get-go and made it ten times worse for her.

I originally did this wholly to fulfill a need to have a Cinderella character who loses legs instead of shoes and gets really cool ones to replace them. So, I started writing Nexis, put Ella through the ringer and then it blew up into something way bigger than the Cinderella story that it was meant to be.

I took away Cinderella, the prince, the fantastic new legs. But, I kept the missing ones.

And I did it to make a point.

And my point is that we take things for granted.

When we’re young we tend to focus on the small petty things. Things like acne and having the same prom dress as someone are monumental and life-altering to us. And, while they are truly things that shape us, they aren’t very big when you look at them in perspective. But, we eventually learn what real trauma is. It’s a coming of age trope that’s common in YA, but I wanted to take it one step farther.

Often a YA heroine’s male counterpart loses something physically and the heroine has to deal with that. It’s creating adversity for her, but not putting her under attack.

Sometimes she loses a body part that’s not as important – a finger maybe. It’s awful and makes the reader sympathize, but it doesn’t often create too much hardship to the main character in the long run.

Sometimes she loses only one of something – an arm or an eye perhaps. It’s very hard to deal with losing one leg or one arm. Now, imagine how much harder it is to not have either?

Often she’s set upon and her body or psyche are somehow broken – be it from rape or a physical attack. These are equally as awful, for certain, but I feel like these have been done and, in some instances, in bad taste (don’t get me started on rape as a plot device).

Sometimes she loses something important and the book becomes all about it – an issues book about loss and recovery, breaking and coming back together.

But let’s face it, the girls who read issues books are often not the ones reading swashbuckling adventure. And I think that both sides are missing out by not reading the other. Why can’t we have both issues AND adventure? These are things that happen in adult novels, so why not YA novels too?

I chose the loss of the ability to walk because I think that, as humans, we take for granted our ability to walk upright. To explore, to see new things, to run, jump, play. To look someone in the eye… I wanted to explore the harsh reality of suddenly not being able to get up and go to the bathroom -- of sometimes having to wet your pants. I wanted it to be poignant and real. Because this happens to some people and we don’t think about it often, nor do we understand just how hard their lives become by this loss – to be trapped in an immobile prison.

I’m certain that some people are going to be like, “Well, why did you give her legs in the game? What about the legs at the end?”

My answer to this is simple: Because some issues are deeper than their solution. Leglessness is an issue that Ella has to learn to deal with in the book. Her desire to have legs in the game – to be something other than what she is – is a subtle hold-over of her desire to be like everyone else. It shows that even though we may progress so very far beyond something, there is still a little voice in the back of our head whispering all the insecurities. It’s evidenced in her inability to meet Guster in Real World because she’s not whole. And it’s what drives her to cause a huge problem at the end of the book – just to have those legs she wants so bad.

Her getting legs in the game doesn’t solve the problem of her needing to deal with not having them in real life. And her getting replacements in real life doesn’t solve the problem of her still needing to deal with the fact that she is not whole. And this issue will continue to haunt her throughout the series as her legs keep getting given and taken away from her. Is this mean to do to Ella? Perhaps, but by continually being put into and taken out of the fire, Ella will become stronger – like a finely honed sword. Ella is a character who embodies the metaphoric struggle of dealing with loss and trauma. It keeps rearing it’s ugly head, but every time you battle it, you’re stronger and more well prepared for the next bought.

Another question I get from readers is, “Why don’t you realistically portray Ella having to learn to use her prosthetics?”

Rest assured, I’m fully aware of how difficult it is for an amputee to learn to use a prosthetic to the point that Ella so freely does almost immediately after receiving them. I have two reasons for not covering this reality in the book. One is the simple reality that, while unrealistic seeming, it would have taken too long. This story spans over a year and the end of the book needed to happen in rapid succession. Two is that this book is futuristic with incredibly advanced technology and it is my hope that one day amputees will be able to receive prosthetic limbs that will allow for a turn around as rapid as Ella’s. While the book doesn’t deal with the poignant reality of the adjustment period required of learning a new prosthesis, it’s also not an “issues” book, it’s an adventure story so I need to focus on advancing the plot not the person. Though, I think Ella does a good job of both!


Nexis by A.L. Davroe
Entangled: Teen
Released 12/1/2015

In the domed city of Evanescence, appearance is everything. A Natural Born amongst genetically-altered Aristocrats, all Ella ever wanted was to be like everyone else. Augmented, sparkling, and perfect. Then…the crash. Devastated by her father’s death and struggling with her new physical limitations, Ella is terrified to learn she is not just alone, but little more than a prisoner.

Her only escape is to lose herself in Nexis, the hugely popular virtual reality game her father created. In Nexis she meets Guster, a senior player who guides Ella through the strange and compelling new world she now inhabits. He offers Ella guidance, friendship…and something more. Something that allows her to forget about the “real” world, and makes her feel whole again. But Nexis isn’t quite the game everyone thinks it is. And it’s been waiting for Ella.

Purchase Nexis at Amazon
Purchase Nexis at IndieBound
View Nexis on Goodreads


A.L. (Amanda) writes both YA and adult speculative fiction. She prefers revisionist tales in paranormal, romance, Steampunk, and fantasy. She is the author of Salvation Station (adult psych horror), The City Steam Collection (adult psych horror), For Your Heart (YA Paranormal Romance) and her YA Sci-Fi novel, Nexis, is coming out with Entangled Publishing December 1, 2015!

By day, Amanda lives in Connecticut with her two feline hench-creatures. She's a terrible blusher, has a weak spot for cuddly animals, loves Laffy Taffy and Cadbury MiniEggs, and she's a huge advocate of alternative healing methods. Amanda also wears purple shoes and corsets...Though not always in the same ensemble. She's a Capricorn, a Hufflepuff, a bit gothic, and a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal. Amanda also suffers from Resting Bitchface Syndrome (RBS), so even though she might look like she'll tie you in a knot if you come near her, she's more afraid of you than you are of her (see blushing problem above).

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 -- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

0 Why We Write by Romina Russell

Today we're welcoming Romina Russell to the blog to talk about who we were when we started dreaming of being writers, and channeling that to remember why we write. The second book in Romina's epic ZODIAC series, WANDERING STAR, released yesterday.

Why We Write by Romina Russell

For what feels like my whole life, all I’ve wanted to do is write.

One of the first things I remember composing was a poem in fourth grade—in my native tongue, Spanish—that my teacher submitted to a creative writing contest at the local county fair. I won first place.

In college, I wrote a Sunday column for the Miami Herald called “College She Wrote” that was picked up for national syndication.

My senior year, I enrolled in a creative writing workshop and completed my first novel, which I then sent off to my dream agents. They all rejected it.

It was my first time failing at something that deeply mattered to me, and it was far from the last: Over the next decade, I would complete four more novels, all of which suffered the same fate as the first. Until ZODIAC.

Hindsight makes it easier to see where I went wrong with my earlier manuscripts: I was so narrowly focused on getting published that I was creating for others instead of myself. Somewhere along the way, I’d started measuring my worth as a writer by others’ reactions to my words.

I’ve never forgotten how or when I fell in love with writing—but for a while, I lost track of the why. And when we forget the reason we’re going somewhere, we lose conviction—making it easier for us to give up when the road turns rough.

When I was nine, sitting at my school desk, completely engrossed in my teacher’s readings from Where the Sidewalk Ends, I wasn’t dreaming of making money or seeing my name on book spines. I just longed to disappear into my imagination and share the worlds and characters I discovered there.

ZODIAC was the first book I wrote in a long time that reminded me of that feeling. Writing this series has transported me back to that fourth grader who told tales in English and Spanish, the would-be writer who filled her pink trapper keeper with stories and poems she would only ever share with her teacher.

That girl is why I write.


Orphaned, disgraced, and stripped of her title, Rho is ready to live life quietly, as an aid worker in the Cancrian refugee camp on House Capricorn.

But news has spread that the Marad--an unbalanced terrorist group determined to overturn harmony in the Galaxy--could strike any House at any moment.

Then, unwelcome nightmare that he is, Ochus appears to Rho, bearing a cryptic message that leaves her with no choice but to fight.

Now Rho must embark on a high-stakes journey through an all-new set of Houses, where she discovers that there's much more to her Galaxy--and to herself--than she could have ever imagined.

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads


Romina Russell (aka Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on ZODIAC, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2 Working Collaboratively -- Can You Check Your Ego at the Door?

In many ways, there's nothing more humbling than becoming a traditionally published author. Not only do you have critique partners giving you feedback about what's wrong with your books, you also have to work with your agent and editor, and sprinkling gold stars all over your projects is not their job. They're supposed to pick what you turn in apart and help you make it better. And then, of course, there are readers. They bring things to your work that you never imagined or envisioned, and that's the way it's supposed to be. Once a book is out in the world, it belongs to them. Hearing from them can be the greatest joy you'll have as an author.

Today, though, I'd like to talk about a different kind of joy. The joy of collaboration with another author you respect. I'm having the opportunity to work with Erin Cashman on a new project, and I can honestly say it's the most fun I've had writing in a couple of years.

If you've ever thought of trying a collaboration, you may wonder if it's right for you. After all, we've all heard the disaster stories from other writers. So how do you know if it's going to work?

Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself. You'll need to answer them honestly!

  1. Are you a control freak who has to have everything your way? If you are, make sure your writing partner isn't.
  2. Are you convinced that every word you put down on paper is perfect? If you are, you probably aren't ready for publication yet, much less ready to work with a partner.
  3. How will you divide the work? Does one write all the draft chapters while the other fleshes the out or edits, or do you each write alternating chapters? Are there multiple POVs that make it easier to divide and conquer?
  4. Are you and your partner working under a similar sense of urgency and able to provide the same type of time commitment and level of experience? If not, you'll want to have a frank conversation about expectations and the split for potential income with respect to contribution. You might be able to work things out, but you need to know for certain whether someone has a warped perspective before you start.
  5. What will you do as you individual projects interfere? Getting edits back on a solo project, family emergencies, and a lot of other things can end up derailing forward momentum. How are you going to handle that? Will the other keep working? Or wait until you're both ready to go? And how do you accommodate this financially or make up the time?
  6. Are you both willing to keep working until you're certain you're both happy? If one of you thinks a project is done many drafts before the other is content with it, you're going to run into trouble.
  7. Are you both coming to the table with a sense of the market, what's current, and what it takes to succeed in the current publishing environment? It's great for an established writer to help another writer along, but it's easier if you are both at least familiar with what's being published and what current editors (and readers) are buying.
  8. Who will handle the sale for you? It's easier to pick one agent to handle the project rather than having both agents tangled up in it. Not every agent is going to be okay with that, though. It's always best to know up front. 
  9. Can you envision working together for years and years? Because honestly, especially with a trilogy, a collaboration can be a multi-year commitment. You want to make sure that you're confident your friendship will not only survive, but also thrive. After all, projects are one thing. Friends are infinitely more important.

About the Author

Martina Boone is the author of Compulsion and Persuasion, out now in the romantic Southern Gothic Heirs of Watson Island trilogy from Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse. Illusion, the final book, will be out in October of 2016. Martina is also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a three-time Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers Site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site dedicated to encouraging literacy and reader engagement through a celebration of series literature. She's also on the Board of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and runs the CompulsionForReading.com program to distribute books to underfunded schools and libraries.

Monday, December 7, 2015

10 TWO New Release Giveaways, Plus New Releases for this Week of 12/7

It's a bit of a slow week for new releases this week, but the books that are coming out are truly amazing ... and we have two great giveaways - COME BACK TO ME by Mila Grey, and WANDERING STAR by Romina Russell!

Happy Reading!
Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Sandra and Anisaa

Sunday, December 6, 2015

0 Alexander Gordon Smith, author of THE DEVIL'S ENGINE: HELLRAISERS, on writing giving you power and control

We're thrilled to have Alexander Gordon Smith here to tell us about his latest novel THE DEVIL'S ENGINE: HELLRAISERS.

Alexander, what was your inspiration for writing THE DEVIL'S ENGINE: HELLRAISERS?

There were a number of things that inspired this series, but I think the most important one was not being able to breathe. I've been asthmatic since I was a kid, and although I don't have it so bad now I vividly remember the horror of having an attack. It feels like drowning out of water. When I was a kid I think I would have done anything to find a cure for my asthma, especially as it meant sitting out on so many of the things I loved. Looking back now, I think it was sitting on the sidelines that made me turn to writing – when you can't do the things you love for real, you start to do them in your imagination. So I'm grateful to it, in a weird way!

So yeah, the asthma led to the creation of the main character, Marlow Green, who is also severely asthmatic. Like me (as a teenager, not now!), he's also a bit of a hellraiser – I was always getting into trouble at school. And like me, Marlow would do anything to get rid of his asthma. I wondered what would happen if there was a machine that could grant him his wish. That was the heart of the story right there. I've always loved the legend of Faust, the idea that you can sell your soul to the devil for anything you like. This is my modern take on that classic story, complete with all the other things I love in stories: demons, monsters, gunfights, explosions, chases, twists and turns, monsters, terrifying bad guys, kick-ass characters, oh, and monsters. I wasn't sure if I mentioned the monsters.

0 Catherine Hapka, author of VIRTUALLY IN LOVE, on being open and taking chances

VIRTUALLY IN LOVE is the latest novel by Catherine Hapka, and we're delighted to have her stop by to chat.

Catherine, what do you hope readers will take away from VIRTUALLY IN LOVE?

Not to get too caught up in how things (including True Romance) are SUPPOSED to be. Be open! Take chances! Be different! And most of all – nerds have more fun!

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

My work routine is pretty boring – no coffee shops or other populated spots for me. I do all my writing in an office in my 18th century PA farmhouse. It’s a little drafty, but has a great (and peaceful) view! I’ll occasionally play music to inspire me if it fits the theme of a story, but I’m easily distracted so usually I stick to silence. (Like I said – boring! But it gets the job done!)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

0 Eric Lindstrom, author of NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST, on writing a story without an outline

We're excited to have Eric Lindstrom stop by to tell us more about his debut novel NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST.

Eric, what was your inspiration for writing NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST?

I always start a new project by thinking about a core conflict: what the protagonist wants or needs to do, and why it's particularly hard for them specifically. Not If I See You First started with me focusing on how difficult and even scary it is to put yourself out there to make new friends, start a romance, or even just get closer to friends you already have. I wanted to explore themes of trust, vulnerability, and fear of rejection in relationships. Then I thought about why these issues would be especially hard for my protagonist. It occurred to me how reaching out relies heavily on gauging reactions to your overtures, to decide how it’s going, and to either press on, change your approach, or retreat. Most of us do this by evaluating facial expressions, eye contact, and body language. It occurred to me how hard it would be to reach out to people if you couldn’t see any of those things, and Parker Grant was born. She ended up taking me to an unexpected place – for an exploration of trepidation, she turned out remarkably fearless! – but that’s where the story began, with the seed idea of a girl who needed to take multiple leaps of faith without being able to even see where she was jumping.

0 Ingrid Sundberg, author of ALL WE LEFT BEHIND, on remembering that writing is fun

We're thrilled to have Ingrid Sundberg join us to share more about her debut novel ALL WE LEFT BEHIND.

Ingrid, what was your inspiration for writing ALL WE LEFT BEHIND?

I fell in love with this character - Marion - who experiences the world in such a sensual and vivid way. She doesn’t know how to articulate what she wants, and at the same time she feels her desires and fears so intensely. She haunted me, and I couldn’t stop writing about her. She had a secret to tell.

How long did you work on ALL WE LEFT BEHIND?

Ten years / two and a half years. The character of Marion has been with me for a long time. She was at the center of a screenplay I wrote in college and then rewrote as a novel. Eventually I threw both of those stories away, and started fresh. Marion has haunted me for years. She had a story to tell, but it took me a long time to gain the writing chops to do her story justice. She feels the world sensually, and the things that scare her are not easy to articulate. It’s been a long journey in learning how to give her silence words.

0 A.L. Davroe, author of NEXIS, on publishing success being based on timing and luck

We're delighted to have A.L. Davroe here to chat about her latest novel NEXIS.

A.L., what was your inspiration for writing NEXIS?

Oh, there is a fun story behind this. Believe it or not, the initial idea for Nexis came about when my agent, Louise Fury, was still part of the L. Perkins Agency. She and Lori Perkins and I were eating dinner at a convention and they were talking about wanting a Steampunk Cinderella story. I also write Steampunk, so the idea was intriguing to me. On the spot, I came up with a Cinderella who loses her whole leg instead of just a shoe and ends up with some crazy Steampunk gadget for a leg instead. I didn’t want to do another Steampunk story though, so I decided I’d try and do a futuristic Cinderella instead. I’ve always been a huge fan of anime and, if you’re also a fan like me, you’ll probably be able to pick out some of my influences. Anyway, I wrote this sort-of futuristic Cinderella story. The initial set up in the original version was very Cinderella, but then, I sort of flew off the track with the whole virtual game idea and the ending. The work and the character became so much bigger and better than its initial starting point. After numerous edits and Cinder coming out in print (yes, I wrote Nexis that long ago), I decided to nix the Cinderella aspect all-together and really make Nexis its own story. I really love what this story has become and the journey that the characters and I have taken.

Friday, December 4, 2015

2 Twilight Goes to College: a Craft of Writing Post by Jes Simmons

We're so glad to welcome Jes Simmons back to the blog today for some more of her brilliant insight into Twilight. She's here to share about teaching Twilight in a college class. Be sure you check out her earlier post on The Sparkling Appeal of Twilight.

Yes, I Teach Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight in My English Composition Class, by Jes Simmons

Although there are critics (both scholarly and “armchair”) who scoff at Twilight and its success as a literary and cultural phenomenon, I am one of many educators who use Stephenie Meyer’s novel in college classrooms. I approach Twilight seriously. My extensive teaching notes are based on my own reading and interpretation, as well as on scholarly articles that have been written about Twilight itself and the Twilight saga as a whole. These articles are helping to correct the rushed judgement and misconceptions by those who summarily dismissed Twilight as being poorly written. It’s not. Twilight is brilliantly written, and the story arc of the entire saga is extraordinarily satisfying.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

6 Ten Things Debut Author Kim Savage Would Say to Aspiring Authors

We're thrilled and excited to participate in the 2015 YA Debut Author Bash, featuring one of 2016's hot new books and authors! Take it from me, pre-publication and that all-important debut year with a traditional publisher are a HUGE learning curve where you re-examine everything you thought you knew about writing and publishing. I love being able to have authors come and share what they're learning, so I'm thrilled to have Kim share this post with us. If you're an aspiring author, sit up and pay attention. : )


Ten Things I Would Say to Aspiring Writers

by Kim Savage

I am so grateful to Adventures in YA Publishing and YA Readers America for the opportunity to say Sage Things. So here’s my early holiday gift to you. Feel free to re-gift, exchange, save it for the Yankee Swap. I won’t be offended.

In order of importance, here are the top 10 things I would say to aspiring writers, with 10 being the most important.

  1. Train for it. I could write, but not until I became a journalist could I tell a story.
  2. Use everything. We don't all have reams of titillating life experiences to cull from. Unless your dream is to unseat Sebastian Junger, the fact that you haven't personally wrestled a jackalope makes absolutely no difference. More on this in my latest Pop Goes the Reader post.
  3. Resist tropes. There is no faster way to lose a reader. Your concept can be familiar, but your characters better not be.
  4. Fall off the grid. In the realms of real life and social media. You can always hop back on, and NOTHING WILL HAVE CHANGED. Trust me.
  5. Write like no one’s watching. It might not feel like it, but the pre-published stage is special. Magical, even. When After the Woods got bumped from Fall to Winter, there was a period when no one was looking for my work, at least not yet. It was the best writing I’ve ever done.
  6. Choose your battles. Plan to fight changes that will make your book into someone else’s book, but trust in your editor for the rest. Same goes for cover art and titles. Unless you've been an editor or an art director, they have perspective that you don’t.
  7. Writing is a vocation, not a job. And it should feel like it (mostly). Writing shouldn't feel like blood-letting on the page. If that YA Contemporary is killing you, stop and write a short story, preferably with an MC who’s an alien or a turn-of-the-century indentured servant.
  8. On promotion versus actual writing: get used to being a prostitute in the morning and a nun in the afternoon, as they say. However, plan to be the prostitute on fewer days. Like, maybe twice a week. Your conscience will thank you, and so will your work.
  9. It’s okay—and awesome—to write characters and situations that will create better understanding in this world. But foremost, tell a story. And make certain it’s yours: never write to a trend.
  10. If you get grouchy when you’ve spent more than two days not writing, that’s a strong sign you were meant for this.

About the Book

After the Woods
by Kim Savage
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardcover, 2/23/16

Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia knows she beat the odds. She escaped the kidnapper who hunted her in the woods for two terrifying nights that she can’t seem to fully remember. Now it’s one year later, and as Julia settles into her junior year, a dead girl turns up in those same woods. The terrible memories resurface, leaving the whip-smart Julia in a stupor at awkward moments—in front of gorgeous Kellan MacDougall, for example. Julia copes by recording facts: collecting statistics about abductions, drawing diagrams of the players, and making lists.

Her best friend, Liv, was also abducted by the same man, but she managed to escape while Julia was left behind. Is Liv’s guilt over leaving Julia in the woods the reason she’s starving herself? Is hooking up with Shane Cuthbert, an addict with a volatile temper, Liv’s way of punishing herself for not having Julia’s back? As Julia struggles to make sense of her friend’s self-destructive behavior, she realizes the one person she thinks she knows best—Liv—is the person she knows least of all.

Buy the Book on  Amazon | Add to Goodreads 

About the Author:

KIM SAVAGE is a former reporter who received her Master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. She worked as a business journalist, pitching story ideas along the lines of "When Murder Kills Property Values." You get the idea. Today, Kim lives in a town north of Boston, Massachusetts, near the real Middlesex Fells Reservation of After the Woods. Born directionally challenged, the fear of getting lost in that lovely, dark forest lives close to her skin. She and her husband have three children, each of whom beg to appear in her books. They shouldn’t.

You can follow Kim on InstagramTumblrPinterest, and Twitter, and visit her at kimsavage.me. This is her debut novel.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

1 On Trying by Mila Gray

One of the most difficult hurdles to overcome when pursuing any creative passion is self-doubt. Today, we welcome Mila Gray (also known as Sarah Alderson) to the blog to talk about self-belief and the importance of trying.

On Trying by Mila Gray

The most important lesson I’ve learned in writing (and in life) is to try. I think a lot of people fail before they even start because they lack self-confidence. I never think ‘I can’t do that’. I naturally assume: ‘Why not?’

Obviously self-belief can be hard to come by but I don’t beat myself up about mistakes and I’m not a perfectionist either, both traits which can be very limiting. I really like the quote: ‘No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying’ by Tony Robbins. It’s so true. And the more you try and the more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to have success.

I know I’m not the best writer in the world but I know that I’m good enough. I try to encourage my daughter to think this way rather than putting herself under huge strain to be the best. Being the best is subjective anyway and I’m pretty sure that the journey to ‘being the best’ is pretty fraught with heartache. When we are too self-critical or we think ‘I can’t be as successful as X’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ it’s paralysing. So I like to think ‘what if…’ and try anyway, and sometimes it doesn’t work out, but I always learn something about myself or improve as a writer as a consequence.

Recently I was invited to pitch to adapt a novel to a screenplay for a huge Hollywood studio. It was a $60m movie and was way out of my comfort zone but I tried anyway. I did the best job I could and I didn’t get it. Was I downhearted about it? Sure. I had put in huge amounts of time and effort and I really wanted the job, but it was a great learning opportunity. I extended myself, I learned a lot about people in the process, and I made some great new contacts so I think it’s also about learning from every opportunity even if they don’t go the way we want them to and trying, even when we think we can’t do something.

I often get asked what I do to find inspiration for stories and how I get out of a slump. I’m actually in my first ever real slump for a long time. I wrote 14 books and several screenplays in 5 years and didn’t take a break and I’m completely worn out. I keep panicking but the small voice of calm inside me keeps reminding me it will be OK. I just need to relax, take a break and refill the well. Ideas come to me from reading the news, books, magazines and from conversations, so I’m trying to chill, watch lots of good movies, read books, meet up with friends and just take a break until I feel the buzz again. It will come. I have faith in that. The world is full of stories. It’s about finding one that resonates with you and your life at that moment.

I often feel like quitting writing. It’s a difficult industry to make a living from, and, on top of that you are putting yourself out there which requires a great deal of vulnerability. You need a really thick skin as every writer is going to receive criticism and some of it can be extremely hurtful. There have been one or two vicious reviews I’ve received that have torn strips from me and made me want to quit - but only for a couple of hours before I think ‘screw you, I’m not letting your negativity impact me.’

The quote I return to again and again is this one, by Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Daring greatly is what it’s all about.

(And if you’re struggling to deal with haters here’s an essay I wrote about it. I hope it helps!)


Come Back to Me
by Mila Gray
Simon Pulse
Released 12/8/2015

In this heart-wrenching tale of love and loss, a young Marine and his best friend’s sister plunge into a forbidden love affair while he’s home on leave.

When a Marine Chaplain knocks on her door, Jessa’s heart breaks—someone she loves is dead. Killed in action, but is it Riley or Kit? Her brother or her boyfriend…

Three months earlier, Marine Kit Ryan finds himself back home on leave and dangerously drawn to his best friend Riley’s sister, Jessa—the one girl he can’t have. Exhausted from fighting his feelings, Kit finally gives in, and Jessa isn’t strong enough to resist diving headfirst into a passionate relationship.

But what was just supposed to be a summer romance develops into something far greater than either of them expected. Jessa’s finally found the man of her dreams and Kit’s finally discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.

When it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither one is ready to say goodbye. Jessa vows to wait for him and Kit promises to come home to her. No matter what.

But as Jessa stands waiting for the Marine Chaplain to break her heart, she can’t help but feel that Kit has broken his promise…

Riley or Kit? Kit or Riley? Her brother or her boyfriend? Who’s coming home to her?

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads


Mila Gray is the pen name for Sarah Alderson, author of Hunting Lila, Losing Lila, The Sound, Fated and Out of Control.

Originally from London she has lived in Bali for the last four years with her husband and daughter.

As well as writing young adult fiction under the name Sarah Alderson and adult fiction under the name Mila Gray, she also writes screenplays.

Monday, November 30, 2015

12 THREE New Release Giveaways plus Author Interviews for 11/30 - 12/6

As November draws to a close it's hard to believe the final month of 2015 begins tomorrow! There are a lot of fantastic books releasing this month, including NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST, ALL WE LEFT BEHIND, and VIRTUALLY IN LOVE, of which we are giving away a copy each.

Happy Reading!
Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Sandra and Anisaa

Saturday, November 28, 2015

0 Kate McGovern, author of RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES, on learning how to structure a book

We're thrilled to have Kate McGovern with us to share more about her debut novel RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES.

Kate, what was your inspiration for writing RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES?

I came across a news article in 2007 about a young woman who was wrestling with the same decision as Rose--should she get tested for Huntington's or not. Her family didn't want her to take the test. Ultimately she did get tested, and learned that she had the mutation. I was really moved by the way she articulated how that knowledge affected her life choices, her aspirations for her future. It stuck with me, and almost six years later I started writing RULES.

How long did you work on RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES?

I started writing the draft in 2012, but I only wrote the very first page, and then I put it down for a year. When I picked it back up, I wrote the first draft in about 6 months. I revised for a few months after that, and then signed with my agent. We sold the book about 14 months after I started writing it in earnest. But like I said, I'd been percolating on the subject matter for almost six years before I even wrote down a word.

Friday, November 27, 2015

3 Joshua David Bellin on Unreliable Narrators, Recycling Characters, and Mashup Pitches

We're thrilled to welcome author Joshua David Bellin to the blog today as our monthly Ask a Pub Pro! Joshua is here to answer your questions on what exactly is an unreliable narrator and how to craft one, how to creatively recycle character types, and the pros and cons of using Book X meets Book Y in pitches. He's also giving away a signed copy of his recent release, SURVIVAL COLONY 9, with the winner also to receive a copy of the sequel, SCAVENGER OF SOULS, when it comes out next year. Be sure to check it out below!

If you have a question you'd like to have answered by an upcoming publishing professional, send it to AYAPLit AT gmail.com and put Ask a Pub Pro Question in the subject line.

Ask a Pub Pro: on Unreliable Narrators, Recycling Characters, and Mashup Pitches by Joshua David Bellin

Hi readers! I’m thrilled to be here on Adventures in YA Publishing to answer some of your questions. Enjoy, and at the end of the post, check out the cool giveaway I’m offering!

1. I keep seeing agents and editors ask for unreliable narrators. I know a bit about what this is but am not real clear. Can you explain what an unreliable narrator is and why they are so popular?

Unreliable narrators come in all forms, but the basic idea is that they’re narrators the reader can’t fully trust. This might be because the narrator lacks important information: for example, the narrator might be suffering from memory loss. Or the narrator might be a young child whose perceptions of the world are immature. The narrator might have a mental illness that leads her/him to misrepresent reality. And so on.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

1 Asking Better Questions by Eric Lindstrom

Eric Lindstrom worked in the interactive entertainment industry before writing his debut novel, Not If I See You First (Coming Dec 1), gaining a unique insight of storytelling from the gaming industry. Today, he's on the blog talking about how asking the right questions can make your story come to life. 

Asking Better Questions by Eric Lindstrom

The fourth doctor of the TV series Doctor Who was my childhood hero. (He still is, but that’s a different story.) In an episode I watched as a teen, he said, “Answers are easy – it’s asking the right questions which is hard.” It was my first exposure to this idea, and it stuck with me.

Over time this perspective became a very useful tool. When I get stuck and can’t find an answer, stepping back and examining my questions often leads to a solution. This process proves itself useful in many different ways, but here I’ll focus on a key example.

Starting out as a writer, I sometimes found myself blocked, wondering, “What should happen next?” I came to understand (over years, not one Saturday afternoon) how that was the wrong question. Tornados happen. Wildebeest migrations happen. But the vast majority of events in a story don’t just happen. Characters make them happen. “What happens next?” is appropriate for the reader to ask, not the writer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

5 The Sparkling Appeal of Twilight: An Essay on Being Different, Being Transformed, and Being Connected -- A Guest Post by Jes Simmons

During a panel I did recently at the Virginia Children's Book Festival on Fairy Tales and Gothic Novels, I mentioned what an important role Twilight had played in my daughter's life and therefore in my own writing career. I expressed my opinion that people often miss the true genius and importance of the novel. Someone in the audience agreed with me, and came up to have me sign Compulsion afterwards, and thus I had the very great pleasure of meeting Jes Simons, who lectures at Longwood University and teaches Twilight to her freshman students. We had a long chat about both books, and about the very special perspective that she has on Twilight as a reader and a teacher. Long before we were done, I knew I had to ask her to write about her experiences. I'm honored to be able to share that with you today!

The Sparkling Appeal of Twilight 

An Essay on Being Different, Being Transformed, and Being Connected

A Guest Post by Jes Simmons

Early in Twilight Bella Swan admits, “I didn’t relate well to people my age.  Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate to people, period” (Meyer 11).  Many of us gave a collective “Yes” to this because Bella was voicing our innermost secrets and fears. Suddenly we could breathe easier because Stephenie Meyer gave us a relatable and reliable narrator who, like us, didn’t fit in and never truly felt at ease in the world.  And when Bella later speculated, “Maybe there was a glitch in my brain” (11), she completely had us on her side.  Bella is one of us, an awkward and out-of-step outsider who just wants to find a place to fit in and be accepted.  She finds this with the Cullen family (and with us).
The appeal of Twilight to me is not the love story of a precocious and self-sacrificing 17-year-old girl who falls in love with a strikingly handsome vampire who will always look 17.  Nor is it the action-packed vampire chase and fight that propel the book to its conclusion.  What draws me to Twilight is a unique connection with Bella and the Cullen family that comes from being a reader who literally is different from most other people, a reader who doesn’t fit in with peers or the dominant culture.  Twilight “sings” to me as a male-to-female transsexual who finds affinity with both Bella and the octet of vampires in the Cullen family.

Bring Different

Like Bella in school, I was acutely aware of how different I was from my classmates, both in body and mind. Despite growing up in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, Bella’s skin wouldn’t tan.  Out of step with her peers, Bella stumbled and tripped where others easily walked. Growing up as a gender dysphoric boy, I was painfully aware of behaving and looking more effeminate than masculine.  A group of girls in seventh grade used to follow me down the hall, commenting loudly on how I carried my books and walked like a girl (and their words prophetically caused me to stumble).  They even called me “Alice.”  (Ironically, I now love being a “Team Alice” Twihard!).

Monday, November 23, 2015

16 New Release Giveaway and Author Interviews for 11/23-11/29

As we begin the last full week of November, it's getting harder and harder to believe the end of 2015 is almost here. To all our American readers: we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. To all those doing NaNoWriMo: you're so close! However many words you've written, we're so proud of you. And to those looking for something new to read: we bring you this week's new release giveaway.

Happy Reading!
Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Sandra and Anisaa

Sunday, November 22, 2015

1 Best of AYAP: Scenes & Pacing

Pacing is one of the trickiest elements of writing. A somewhat elusive concept, and one difficult to get right, it can be easy to notice that pacing feels 'off,' but difficult to know how to fix it. Similarly, when plotting a novel, it can be difficult to find that perfect balance of scenes that pushes the story forward.

Many of the posts below approach pacing and scenes from an objective standpoint, pulling the concepts apart and assigning concrete ways that troubleshooting or plotting can be approached. Whether you're approaching pacing and scene choice from the plotting or revising side of the writer's desk, there's a wealth of information collected in the posts below.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

3 Christopher Pike, author of STRANGE GIRL, on hard work being the key to getting published

We are honored to have Christopher Pike join us to share more about his latest novel STRANGE GIRL.

Christopher, what was your inspiration for writing STRANGE GIRL?

If you read the dedication of Strange Girl, it says: “For Abir, who told me to write this book.” Abir is my girlfriend. We’ve been together 15 years, and she is without a doubt the love of my life. Naturally, by this time, I never write a book without talking to Abir about it. Well last March, 2014, we were talking late one night about what I should write next and Abir said I should write a love story. And I said, “A love story about what?” That was when Abir gave me perhaps the best advice when she said -- “That’s the key. You don’t want to know what it’s about. Find out as you write it. Just have a boy meet a mysterious girl at the beginning of the school year and go from there.”

At first I dismissed the idea. I’m rather proud of how cleverly I plot my stories and Abir was basically telling me to drop all my cleverness and just feel my way along. Just put myself in the shoes of the main character, Fred, and write what he felt.

And that was what I did. That’s how Aja, the heroine of Strange Girl, was created, totally out of thin air.

Friday, November 20, 2015

1 1st 5 Pages Workshop Opens January 2nd!

I am sad to say that our 1st 5 Pages November Workshop has come to an end. We had such a great group of talented and enthusiastic writers! And wow – did they revise! A big thanks to our wonderful guest mentors, author Jenn Thorne and agent Kirsten Carleton! They both provided terrific comments and suggestions. And as always, thank you to all of our fabulous permanent mentors! Martina Boone, the workshop founder and a permanent mentor, had her second book in the HEIRS OF WATSON ISLAND trilogy released. As her critique partner, I can tell you that PERSUASION is fabulous!

Since December is a busy month and our mentors are struggling with deadlines, we have decided to take a hiatus for this month. We will re-open the workshop in January, on Saturday January 2nd. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages.

We usually fill up in under a minute, so get those pages!


0 Feminist Storytelling by Elizabeth Hall Magill

You are all in for a real treat today. Elizabeth Hall Magill is here to share a very thoughtful post on how to craft a story with a genuine feminist perspective, which for Elizabeth means getting into the very heart of a character, unvarnished by societal assumptions. I especially loved her point on the rich space between the narrator and character -- the bold there is mine. Welcome Elizabeth!

How to Craft a Story with a Feminist Perspective: A Craft of Writing Post by Elizabeth Hall Magill

Feminist Storytelling

A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune to meet Sherman Alexie, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, when he won Longwood University’s John Dos Passos prize. Mr. Alexie offered to read the first chapter of my novel, which I was about to revise. I knew my revision would be a feminist one—it would include an awareness of class, race, and gender privilege that reflected my recent work—but I wasn’t sure what shape it would take. Mr. Alexie gave me the perfect place to begin, a line on the sixth page of my manuscript: Seth didn’t hate his father’s money—he just hated his father.

I would never have thought to begin with that line. But when I considered it, I realized the line framed the story perfectly—the novel is about a group of UVA students struggling with loss, grief, and growth. A story that unravels from a fulcrum of white, upper-middle-class privilege. To begin with a line that acknowledges that privilege meant I was off and running with my feminist revision.

But why a feminist revision? And what does that mean, in a practical sense?

In the four years since I’d written the novel, I’d gone from believing the word feminist was tainted with disdain for men and condemnation for women to understanding that it held freedom. Feminist writing taught me why motherhood was harder than it had to be and why I never felt pretty enough. It exposed my own assumptions to me—assumptions I made because I was white and middle-class and hadn’t had to think beyond front-page headlines. It allowed me to find sisters I thought I’d never have and release cultural baggage that weighed me down.

I needed to bring this awakening to my fiction—I needed more characters in my book, from more backgrounds. I needed to cut through the assumptions I’d made unconsciously. I needed my protagonist—a young woman named for a goddess—to fully understand the meaning of self-ownership, and claim it. I needed to help my readers see what I’d seen.

But how to do all that and remain true to good storytelling? No one likes to read a book that feels like a treatise. And many people have unexamined assumptions as a result of living in a patriarchy, just like I did. Exposing these assumptions can be a real-turn off, and painful to boot. Sure, literature is supposed to make us face pain, as well as entertain us and make us think. But how to do that in a story, and let the story lead?

The key is tucked into the space between narrator and character.

In nonfiction, the words are always and only mine. But in fiction, the words sometimes come from the mouths of people who are nothing like me—people who are, and must be, completely separate from me. Regardless of the story’s point of view, the writer is shaping it, making choices about what, where, when, how, and why.

In this space between narrator and character, the writer can show the reader characters and events from a perspective that the characters don’t have. This is the perfect place to play with ways to bring a feminist consciousness to the story. And I’ve found a few strategies that work well:

Expose Assumptions

A patriarchy is full of assumptions about people—poor people are lazy, no one group of people is more privileged than another, and all women experience sexism in the same way, to name a few. These assumptions are a form of bias, shaping our perceptions of each other on an unconscious level.

By allowing characters to be fully themselves within the context of their daily lives—a bisexual woman after a breakup, a black teenage boy out for a walk—you can expose the harmful assumptions of patriarchy. The feminist term for living daily life while dealing with whatever patriarchy sends your way is lived experience. And fiction is great at depicting lived experience.

You can also allow a character to demonstrate an assumption and then counter it directly, either through the character’s growth or through other characters. Alexie does this at several points in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian—Junior is constantly realizing what assumptions he’s made about the white kids at his new school, and exposing the ones they’ve made about him.

Play Against Stereotype

Stereotypes are an insidious form of bias, and they’re prevalent in our media. Stereotypes reinforce the assumptions of patriarchy—the dumb blonde, the asexual Asian man and the compliant Asian woman, the hypersexual angry black woman and the stoic black housekeeper—our culture has a ton of them, and they all negatively impact the people they claim to portray. So play against them—create characters that don’t fit into their stereotypical boxes.

The writers for the movie Big Hero 6 have this one down-pat: each of the main characters plays against stereotype while poking fun at it. You can play against stereotype in subtle ways, and with minor characters, as well: in my revision, I needed a surgeon, and she became a black woman rather than the usual older white man. Another character has shown up, a male theater major—maybe he’ll be straight, or bi. Maybe someone will think he’s gay, and he’ll have fun with the assumption.

Teach, Don’t Preach

This is just another way of saying show, don’t tell. Your readers don’t want a feminist lecture—they want a story with a heartbeat. So give them one. One of my favorite ways to teach feminist consciousness is by showing female desire.

The sexual perspective—in movies, in advertisements, in books, in short stories, in poems—is overwhelmingly heterosexual and male. So mix it up—make a woman’s heart beat fast as she is near someone she’s attracted to. Describe the gut-wrenching lust, the biceps or breasts, the gorgeous eyes, the sunlight on hair. Let desire be human, and centered in the female.

I’ve done this in my own work, describing my protagonist’s reaction when she meets her future boyfriend. And I love the way Martina Boone portrays female desire in Compulsion—our experience of Eight is firmly rooted in Barrie’s physical reactions. When we see feminist principles—the female gaze, and female self-love and self-ownership—in action, they become normalized.

This is the beauty of feminist fiction: it exposes us to ourselves while telling us a story we can’t put down. It gives us—all of us—back to ourselves. And it does so not by lecturing, but by using the space between narrator and character—a space that, like everything about storytelling, is part logic and part magic.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Hall Magill has been blogging about feminist issues at Yo Mama since 2011–posts have been featured on BlogHer (Spotlight BlogHer) and Miss Representation’s Sexy or Sexism campaign. Her essay "Jesus and Sophia" appears in the anthology Whatever Works, edited by Trista Hendren and Pat Daly, and her work has appeared in Role Reboot and on the news site .Mic.

In addition to revising her novel and writing short fiction, Elizabeth is currently researching and writing a nonfiction book entitled American Sexism: Questions and Answers. You can find her blog on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @LizHallMagill.

-- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers