Tuesday, June 30, 2015

21 The Secret to Creating a Connection Between Readers and Characters Plus a MAZE RUNNER Collector's Edition Giveaway

The lovely Angela Ackerman wrote a brilliant post last week about characters with secrets, and she was kind enough to mention Compulsion in it. The got me thinking about why both readers and writers love secrets, and it led me to an epiphany that's going to change how I approach character development.

I'm starting a new book outside of the trilogy. A brand new book with brand new characters. Isn't that bizarre? This week, I turned in the final book of the trilogy. I'm trying to spend my days not hyperventilating while I wait for my agent and editor to chime in. It's such a bittersweet moment. I'm done, but I'm also done. I'm going to miss this world and these characters. I know them so well. I know their secrets, their hopes, their fears, their vulnerabilities.

That's the key. Secrets make us vulnerable. The people who know our secrets are the ones who hold our sense of self-worth, our relationships, our very futures, in their hands. But the people who know our  vulnerabilities and handle them with care, the people who see the ugliness in us and like us anyway, those are the people who come to care about us. Those are our friends.

A reader can forgive a character almost anything as long as they understand why that character did what she did. They want to see the character be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is what creates connection. So how do you use that to create a riveting character?

Monday, June 29, 2015

18 THREE Giveaways plus New YALIT Releases Week of 6/29 with Author Interviews

Does anyone else think it's crazy that by the time this week is over, we'll be officially in the second half of the year? There are three new releases in the world of YA this week, and, because we love you so much, we're also giving away three books that have already released - just because we can!

Happy reading,

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

Saturday, June 27, 2015

0 Free 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop with Author Ava Jae and Agent Patricia Nelson Opens in 1 Week!

Our July workshop will open for entries at noon, EST, on Saturday July 4, 2015. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements, and the initial submission and two rounds of revision will be read and critiqued by three published authors. The final revision will also be read and critiqued by a literary agent. This is a great opportunity for a few lucky writers, and it can be a transformative experience on the path to publication. Many of our past participants have gone on to find agents and get publishing deals.

Click here to get the rules on the First Five Pages Workshop site. 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 talented permanent mentors, we have Ava Jae, author of the forthcoming BEYOND THE RED, and Patricia Nelson of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. So get those pages ready! Read on to learn more about them, and to find out how to submit.

0 Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie, authors of THE RULES, on being very, very twisted people

We're honored to have both Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie join us to share more about their latest horror novel THE RULES.

Ladies, what was your inspiration for writing THE RULES?

NANCY: We're always telling each other stories. Debbie told me about an amazing scavenger hunt she went on when she was a teenager. From that we starting thinking about a scavenger hunt gone very, very wrong. We love thriller and horror movies and the pace of SCREAM really impressed us. We watched SCREAM together and separately at least a dozen times.

DEBBIE: Totally! We love those stories where people are getting picked off one by one and not everyone is even aware of what's happening until it's too late. We love trying to guess who the killer is in those types of stories and we wanted to do our own version.

0 Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of CONVICTION, on how writing it was an exercise in empathy

We're excited to have Kelly Loy Gilbert stop by to tell us more about her debut novel CONVICTION.

Kelly, what is your favorite thing about CONVICTION?

I love the relationships between the characters.  The ones between the narrator, seventeen-year-old Braden Raynor, and his father Mart and previously-estranged older brother Trey, are difficult and complex, but vital, and I love just how much these relationships hold and all the years and years and layers and layers of history and secrets and old longings and old wounds are buried within them, and how much possibility, too.  But I also love all the relationships that knot the less central characters together--I love that web of people who all affect each other in different ways, large and small, and I love how even split-second decisions can reverberate through the characters’ entire lives.

0 Catherine Linka, author of A GIRL UNDONE, on creating tension

A GIRL UNDONE is the sequel to A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS, and we're thrilled to have Catherine Linka here to tell us more about it.

Catherine, what was your inspiration for writing A GIRL UNDONE?

The publishing contract for A Girl Called Fearless required me to write a sequel which totally freaked me out. Avie begins AGCF by saying that she’s not fearless but she loves that her friend Yates thinks she is, and she ends the book by declaring “I am fearless.” So I could not figure out what the hell her character arc would be for A GIRL UNDONE.

But then, in a weird, serendipitous way, I got a last-minute chance to go to a retreat with The Plot Whisperer, Martha Alderson. Midway through the retreat, I knew what Avie’s character arc had to be. In AGCF, she learns she has the strength to survive, but in A GIRL UNDONE, she would discover that living with yourself may mean sacrificing yourself for others.

Friday, June 26, 2015

0 Free First 5 Pages with author Ava Jae and agent Patricia Nelson opens July 4!

The First Five Pages June Workshop has come to an end. What a great group of talented writers! The participants worked so hard, and did a great job with their revisions. A big thanks to our guest mentor, Shaun Hutchinson and our guest agent, Tina Schwartz, both of whom provided terrific comments and suggestions, and of course to all of our fabulous permanent mentors!

Our July workshop will open for entries at noon, EST, on Saturday July 4, 2015. 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 talented permanent mentors, we have Ava Jae, author of the forthcoming BEYOND THE RED, and Patricia Nelson of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. So get those pages ready!

0 Editor Ellie Sipila on Screenwriting to Tighten Prose, Antiheroes as Protagonists, and Romance in YA

We are so pleased to have Ellie Sipila join us today to answer writer questions as part of our Ask a Pub Pro series. Ellie is currently editing for Fitzhenry & Whiteside in Canada, but has also worked for other publishing houses as well. I've been fortunate enough to have Ellie edit my work and value her professional eye for detail and sympathetic, insightful feedback. But not only is Ellie an editor, in her alter-ego, she's also Kat Hawthorne, author of The Boatman, which recently released.

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.

Tightening Prose, Antiheroes as Protagonists, and Romance in YA -- An Ask a Pub Pro Post

Reader Question 1) I've heard that writing a screenplay can help a writer improve their plotting for a novel as the pacing has to be so tight for a screenplay. Do you know anything about this and what advice would you offer?

Great question. Here is a little known fact about your friend Ellie (otherwise known as Kat Hawthorne): I wrote the screenplay for an online RPG called Fearless Fantasy. (SHAMELESS PLUG, here's the link). Let it be known that I had never in my life before this written for the screen. So when the creator of the game approached me with the concept and asked me if I could write a story around it, I thought…okay, no problem. I’m a writer, I can do anything. Frankly, I thought it would be a simple task. I mean, there is no need to even write tags, dialogue, action, or otherwise – that’s like, less work. All you have to do is tell a story through the character’s words. Easy, right?


Screenwriting is very different from prose writing, just as poetry writing is different from prose writing. The most challenging part of writing for the screen for me was learning to trust in the animator (or actors as the case may be). You see, I had my own ideas about how the characters should say a thing, the inflection and intonation, but those ideas did not always gel with the way the voice actors thought they should be said. I could not direct that but for a little in the screen manuscript, though of course I had full control over that in my prose writing. This was a strange and frightening revelation for me. That, in my opinion, is the greatest difference between writing prose and writing for the screen. You can write the bones, but the fleshing out is up to someone else.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

0 Agent Danielle Zigner from LBA Books On Wanting To Get To Know & Working With Authors

After reading Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University Danielle spent a year working with a number of publishers and agencies. In 2014 she joined the team at LBA as a Junior Agent, and has since been actively building her list.

Find Danielle on The LBA Website, Tor Books Blog Feature, or Agent Hunter.

So Danielle, What’s on your wish list?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

2 The Bridge: Habits Of Mind For Writing with Jane Higgins

We're excited to welcome to the blog today author Jane Higgins. Jane's The Bridge, has been described as a heart-stopping novel about friendship, identity, and courage. She's here to share with us some habits of mind for writing.

Habits Of Mind For Writing

When the team at Adventures in YA Publishing invited me to write a post, I looked back over recent Craft of Writing posts and thought ‘Wow!’ The discussions here are rich and varied and immensely helpful.  So how, as writers, can we cultivate ‘habits of mind’ that help us make best use of all this wisdom?  Here are some thoughts on that – all easier said than done, of course. They are habits I’d love to practice much more diligently than I actually do!

Turn down the Inner Critic. Ah, but how?  Try ‘morning pages’, as suggested by Julia Cameron in her classic, The Artist’s Way.  They work like this. You get up in the morning. You write. Three pages, on anything at all.

What’s important for the morning pages is to do nothing that will put anything in your head between being asleep and writing your pages. That means no looking at screens of any kind, no radio, no phone calls or texts, no newspapers. No input. Not till you’ve written your three pages.

When I’m writing the pages, I tumble out of bed, make a cuppa, mumble at my husband, and then sit down and write. It takes about twenty-five minutes. I’m no company for anyone until I’ve written those pages. What to write? Whatever comes to mind. I record dream fragments, ponder plot problems in the current work-in-progress, recall yesterday’s activities, and if I’m desperate for material by page three, I write down today’s to-do list.  I’m not “writing” when I do this, I’m not crafting anything, I’m just putting down what’s in my brain first thing in the morning.

I don’t go back and read over what I’ve written. It’s the activity that matters, not the product.  I have friends who use their morning pages as raw material for poetry and some people might find them helpful for pushing through story problems. But the pages don’t have to be ‘useful’ in that way.
What does spilling a jumble of thoughts onto the page achieve? It clears my brain and, somehow, it disarms the Inner Critic because hey, look, I’m writing! Maybe it’s too early for the IC to be up and about. I don’t know. I do know that I write more freely during the day if I’ve written those three pages of ‘anything at all’ first thing in the morning.

Monday, June 22, 2015

20 Chasing Dreams, Taking Risks, and Growing - Plus New Call for Contributors and a THE WRATH AND THE DAWN Giveaway

Last Thursday, I was honored to give a keynote for the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia at their annual recognition event. The Literacy Council is an amazing group of volunteers who provide basic reading, writing, speaking and English comprehension to empower people to participate more fully in their neighborhoods and larger communities. In addition to the speech I was privileged to give, I got to hear some of the award-winning essays written by the program's participants, and read more in the event program. And it was truly humbling and uplifting.

The event meant a lot to me, because I came to this country unable to speak English. My parents learned English at night while working and trying to raise a family, and they did it for the same reason that moved me in the essays the students shared at LCNV--because they wanted freedom, opportunity, and the hope for a better life for their children.

Working Harder

When you hear that someone who was a nurse, or a teacher for 22 years, and they give that up to start all over again, you realize the value of what we have here. It makes me count the many blessings I have, and want to dig in even harder with my writing. And it makes me want to pay it forward, because I've been so very, very lucky.

20 FOUR Giveaways Plus New YALIT Releases Week of 6/22 with Author Interviews

While there are only seven new books releasing this week, we're pretty excited to see them here. Plus, there are four books to be won, including copies of THE LEVELLER, A GIRL UNDONE, and two copies of THE RULES! We've also announced the winners of last week's giveaways, so check below to see if you've won. Which new release are you most looking forward to reading this week?

Happy reading,

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

Sunday, June 21, 2015

1 Claire Kennedy, author of AFTER HOURS, on an incredibly long, twisty, and bumpy road to publication

We're delighted to have Claire Kennedy join us to share more about her novel AFTER HOURS.

Claire, 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 was an incredibly long, twisty, and bumpy one. There were a couple of ROAD CLOSED signs and there were a couple of YAY, YOU FINALLY MADE IT HERE signs that were almost immediately taken down and replaced with JUST KIDDING GO BACK TO STEP ONE AND START OVER signs.  I actually lost count of how many books I wrote trying to get just one between actual book covers!  I finished my first book at 15 (it was absolutely terrible, if you were wondering), got my first agent at 22, and signed my first book contract at 29.  It was a heck of a journey, and it was completely worth it.

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

My writing ritual is all about comfort, so I almost always work from home.  If music is involved, it has to be super chill and relaxing.  I sometimes write at a desk, but I am an expert at writing from the bed or on the couch while brainless television is on in the background.  I prefer tea to coffee—preferably a nice chai or something fruity.

My second favorite writing place is an airplane.  I’m notoriously frugal and refuse to pay for airline internet, so a long trip is a few lovely hours of uninterrupted writing time.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

0 Sharon Huss Roat, author of BETWEEN THE NOTES, on the personal and unique reading experience

We're excited to have Sharon Huss Roat join us to share more about her debut novel BETWEEN THE NOTES.

Sharon, how long did you work on BETWEEN THE NOTES?

I started thinking about this story back in 2009, wrote the first draft in early 2011, rewrote and revised until early 2012 when I first shared it with my agent, and it sold to my editor at HarperTeen in early 2013! Then came editorial notes and several rounds of revision with my editor in 2013 and 2014. I made my very last changes in Fall 2014!

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

This is something that is ever-changing for me. There have been times when I would set a very strict word-count goal for myself and write until I met it. I wrote a middle grade novel once for my son who was 11 at the time, and completed a chapter each day so that he could read it when he got off the school bus. (He’d say, “Where’s my chapter?” when he came in the door.) I have moved around the house and yard to find the best writing space… sometimes shut in my office, other times by the fire in the living room (on cold winter days), and lately under a shady tree in the backyard. On the evenings when my daughter has dance lessons for three hours, I plant myself at the nearby library. I recently found that I could request a quiet study room and expect that will become a favorite writing spot when dance starts up again in the fall! I never listen to music, though I sometimes put on a “white noise” soundtrack of rain—if I have to block out sounds of people talking wherever I’m writing.

0 Jaclyn Dolamore, author of GLITTERING SHADOWS, on not shying back from amping up tension

GLITTERING SHADOWS is the sequel to Jaclyn Dolamore's DARK METROPOLIS, and we're delighted to have her stop by to share more about it.

Jaclyn, what was your inspiration for writing GLITTERING SHADOWS?

The first book was based on Fritz Lang's 1927 German silent film "Metropolis" and the state of actual 1920s Berlin. When my publisher asked for a sequel, at first I was baffled because, well, there is no sequel to Metropolis, and the sequel to 1920s Berlin is like, Hitler, and I didn't want to go there. I ended up drawing from various elements that felt right, including Fritz Lang's version of Die Niebelungen and the Norse mythology that story is based on, the Russian Revolution, Ludwig II of Bavaria (the sorta crazy dude who built the fairy tale castle Neuschwanstein), and the epic space opera anime Legend of Galactic Heroes.

How long did you work on GLITTERING SHADOWS?

Three years. Three very difficult years! It took a while for me to figure out what this book wanted to be. Which is normal, but I've never gone through that part while under contract!

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

I learned not to shy back from amping up the tension, and not to be afraid to do permanent damage to my characters! Sorry, characters. Life just got a lot worse for all of you from here on out...

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Two major characters from this novel that aren't in the first book are Marlis, the Chancellor's daughter, and Sebastian, the revolutionary leader. I saw Marlis, this very serious girl with glasses who is deeply devoted to her country, and I saw Sebastian all casual with his coffee habit, and the dichotomy between these two characters somehow helped everything else to click around them.

0 April Henry, author of BLOOD WILL TELL, on tenacity being as important as talent

BLOOD WILL TELL is the second book in the Point Last Seen mystery series, and we're thrilled to have author April Henry here to chat writing with us.

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

I work on a Lifespan treadmill desk.  I love it so much!  I’ve lost over 15 pounds without dieting.  I use the program called Freedom to lock me off the Internet for 45 to 60 minutes at a time, and then I listen to music with the volume turned low.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Tenacity is as important as talent.  Years ago, I took a writing class with two writers, Tom and Jane, who were far better than I was.  Our teacher even recommended Tom to his agent.  Both got a few rejections though, and stopped writing.  I never stopped.  I kept writing and kept trying to be a better writer, and now I’m publishing my 18th book.

Friday, June 19, 2015

7 Thoughts on Theme by Claire M. Caterer + #Giveaway

I love theme. For me, it is the hub of the wheel around which the story turns...after you write a compelling story and discover what that theme is, that is. That's why I'm so happy to welcome author Claire Caterer to the blog today with her excellent insight on why theme matters and how to judicially weave it into our stories.

As another Harry Potter fan, I've known Claire on Twitter for a while and am so glad she gave me an excuse in this post to include some Potter gifs! Her new book, The Wand and the Sea, releases in just a few days. Be sure to check out her giveaway for it at the end of the post!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

3 Agent Moe Ferrara of BookEnds on Query Pet Peeves, Being a Geek, and Love Vs. Marketability

Becoming a literary agent was fitting for the girl who, as a small child, begged her dad to buy her a book simply because "it has a hard cover." Growing up, she had a hard time finding YA books outside of Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine, and instead tackled Tom Clancy or her mom's romance novels. Though her career path zigzagged a bit—she attended college as a music major, earned a JD from Pace Law School, then worked various jobs throughout the publishing industry—Moe was thrilled to join the BookEnds team in May of 2015 as a literary agent and the subsidiary rights director.
A Pennsylvania native, she is the proud owner of one rambunctious guinea pig who is a master at stealing extra treats. When not reading, she is an avid gamer and always awaiting the next Assassin's Creed release.
You can contact Moe directly at MFsubmissions@bookends-inc.com or follow her on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/inthesestones.
*Moe is open to YA submissions. She's especially looking for SciFi and Fantasy, but will consider the right contemporary YA. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

3 A Girl Undone: 10 Tips for Writing Unforgettable Villains with Catherine Linka

We're thrilled to welcome to the blog today author Catherine Linka. Catherine's A Girl Undone, the sequel and explosive conclusion to A Girl Called Fearless, comes out in one week! She's here to share with us some tips for writing unforgettable villains.

10 Tips for Writing Unforgettable Villains

A great protagonist deserves a great villain. Villains make our main characters struggle and stretch, and while they often force our protagonists to confront the worst about themselves, villains push our protagonists to be their best.

Too often villains are written as cliches: evil for the sake of being evil, and motivated strictly by a desire for power. Brute force is the cliche’s only weapon, and firepower the only thing that will take them down.

But a well-developed villain, think Iago, Nurse Ratched, or Snape, is a compelling character who takes the story to an entirely new level. And the protagonist can’t rely on force, but has to be smarter, stronger and more creative to overcome them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

6 BANISHED Cover Reveal + Giveaway!

Exclusive Teaser!
We're honoured today to present the exclusive cover of BANISHED, the second book in the FORBIDDEN trilogy by Kimberley Griffiths Little!

About the Book

BANISHED, Book 2 of the FORBIDDEN trilogy 
February 2, 2016

She thought she’d lost everything . . .

After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the Kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess.

Monday, June 15, 2015

11 FOUR Giveaways plus New YALit Releases 6/15 - 6/21 with Author Interviews

It is a small but mighty group of novels releasing this week. There are eight new books for your perusing pleasure, and we have giveaways for four of them and interviews from five of the authors. We also have ten winners from last week's huge giveaway, so check below to see if you're one of the lucky winners. Then leave a comment and let us know which of the new releases have caught your fancy.

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Martina, Susan, Lisa, Erin, Shelly, Jen, Sandra, Lindsey, and Samantha


* * * *

Between the Notes
by Sharon Huss Roat
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Released 6/16/2015

When Ivy Emerson’s family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what’s to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Only this isn’t one of her single, terrifying performances. It’s her life.

And it isn’t pretty.

Ivy is forced to move with her family out of their affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, also known as “the wrong side of the tracks.” Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when a bad boy next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy’s carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

0 Katie M. Stout, author of HELLO, I LOVE YOU, on doing more than you think you can

We're thrilled to have Katie M. Stout join us to share more about her debut novel HELLO, I LOVE YOU.


Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
St. Martin's Griffin
Released 6/9/2015

A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

0 Chandler Baker, author of ALIVE, on how it changed her outlook on writing

We're excited to have Chandler Baker join us to share more about her debut novel ALIVE.

Chandler, how long did you work on ALIVE?

Looking back, ALIVE feels like it was written in fits and starts and a series of mad dashes. When I originally started working on ALIVE, I’d taken a long time away from writing my own fiction and had been working as a ghostwriter under pseudonyms for various book packagers. It had been years since the first and only book I had sent my agent to submit to publishers didn’t sell. I started working on the book at the end of September and I completed a 180-page proposal for ALIVE one week before my wedding in November of 2012. I thought my now-husband was going to kill me! I was breaking my neck trying to get something to show to my agent and we were trying to plan a wedding and move! I knew then, though, that I had something. Something worthy. I revised that proposal and the synopsis until mid-Spring, working on other projects intermittently. Then, once ALIVE sold a few weeks later, I was in for another mad dash when I had to finish writing the book in about a month….followed by a complete overhaul of the book’s ending when my first edit letter came sometime thereafter.

0 Lauren Saft, author of THOSE GIRLS, on finishing your first draft before revising

THOSE GIRLS is the debut novel by Lauren Saft, and we're delighted to have her join us to share more about it.

Lauren, what was your inspiration for writing THOSE GIRLS?

Life! I wrote Those Girls, because I constantly think about the nuances and destructiveness of much of what went on between me and my friends during middle and high school, and I wanted to explore it. I am also (and always have been) a sucker for high school drama; it has always been my favorite genre—and in particular, I love bad girls. I never had much interest in the virgin goody-two-shoes; I wanted to hang out with Rizzo not Sandy, Veronica not Betty, and I found myself sort of sick of reading the misunderstood wallflowers that seems to dominate so much of YA fiction. I snuck out, I got detentions, I made out with boys, and did drugs; I had an inner monologue too. No one ever hears from that girl, and I want to hear from that girl. From Sweet Valley High to 90210 to Jawbreaker to Gossip Girl, I love high school bad girls, and so I wrote the book I knew I’d love to read.

0 Rachel Vincent, author of THE STARS NEVER RISE, on the balancing act of writing

We're honored to have Rachel Vincent here to tell us more about THE STARS NEVER RISE, the first book in her new series.

Rachel, what scene of THE STARS NEVER RISE was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The hardest scenes to write, from a structural perspective, are Finn's scenes. His situation is complicated, and keeping the reader enthralled but not confused was a challenge. However, the scene I'm most proud of is Nina's confrontation with her mother. The intensity of her psychological trauma and the number of life-changing revelations she experiences all at once are a triumph for me, from a craft perspective. In one scene, I completely destroyed her life on multiple levels, but challenged her not to let her emotions get the best of her just yet. Nina and I fought hard for that one.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

3 Jessica Alcott, author of EVEN WHEN YOU LIE TO ME, on not writing in order

We're thrilled to have Jessica Alcott join us to share more about her debut novel EVEN WHEN YOU LIE TO ME.

Jessica, what was your inspiration for writing EVEN WHEN YOU LIE TO ME?

I'm really interested in power dynamics and in luminal relationships that push boundaries or have some unusual feature to them; I feel drawn to stories like that. I also got the chance to make fun of Cosmo in print.

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?

Honestly, I find the "connecting" scenes hardest to write – those necessary scenes that push the plot forward but don't otherwise have lots of emotional content to them. I find the "big" scenes relatively easy to write because that's where the meat of the story is; the real challenge is in making the less obviously emotional scenes interesting. My go-to solution is to put in lots of stupid jokes to keep things vaguely interesting.

0 Allen Zadoff, author of I AM THE TRAITOR, on how the writer’s journey is similar the hero’s journey

We're pleased to have Allen Zadoff join us to share more about I AM THE TRAITOR, book 3 of the The Unknown Assassin trilogy.

Allen, 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 AM THE TRAITOR is the last novel of The Unknown Assassin Trilogy, the book where we find out the secrets of The Program and the real story of the assassin’s past. The hardest scene to write was the last one. I knew how I wanted the series to end, but writing the scene meant saying goodbye to a group of characters who I’ve been living with for more than three years. By saying good-bye, I don’t mean all the characters die at the end (I’d never tell you that in an interview), but I knew I wouldn’t be writing them again, so I was saying good-bye on a personal level. It was very emotional.

0 Gina Ciocca, author of LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE, on learning about herself through her characters

We're delighted to have Gina Ciocca join us to share more about her debut novel LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE.

Gina, what scene of LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

There was one scene that made me cry when I wrote it, and that’s the one where Kelsey sees David’s father for the first time in over a year, after treatments for cancer have taken a toll on his appearance. My own father went through chemotherapy for cancer when I was in seventh grade, and I’ll never forget what it did to him. He was athletic and handsome with a head full of black hair. And then he was completely bald, and so weak that he could barely get out of bed. It was one of the few times in my childhood when I saw him cry. And I’m actually tearing up now just writing about it. Putting myself in Kelsey’s head when she reacted to the change in Jimmy was difficult, to say the least, but I’m definitely proud of that scene. My favorites are always the kissing and almost-kissing scenes, though.

0 Eve Silver, author of CRASH, on the importance of BICHOK

CRASH is the final novel in The Game trilogy, and we're excited to have author Eve Silver here to tell us more about it.
Eve, what book or books would most resonate with readers who love CRASH--or visa versa?

There are a ton of gaming elements in RUSH, PUSH and CRASH, so I think that readers who enjoy those aspects will like James Dashner's EYE OF MINDS, Orson Scott Card's ENDER'S GAME, Ursula Poznanski's EREBOS, Ernest Cline's READY PLAYER ONE, Reki Kawahara's manga SWORD ART ONLINE (I have not read this yet but it has been recommended to me), and Hiroya Oku's manga GANTZ (I heard about this manga just after I'd written RUSH and read the first in the series...very cool and the concept of teens pulled into an alternate world to fight aliens is similar). But RUSH, PUSH and CRASH are about more than gaming. There's romance and action and adventure and mystery and aliens…

Friday, June 12, 2015

14 Solutions for the Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and More -- An Interview with Editor Emma D. Dryden

Today we're deeply honored to have an interview with the brilliant Emma Dryden, who left Simon & Schuster as Vice President and Publisher of Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Margaret K. McElderry Books to start an independent editorial service after 25 years in publishing. She has a phenomenal editorial eye, but even more than that, she is great at boiling complex concepts of story structure and writing into simple, easy-to-grasp terms. The following interview is no exception.

Happy reading!


Q. As a deeply respected editor within the children’s publishing establishment, you’ve since moved to the independent side, but you continue to work with both publishers and agents. When you take on a private client, an aspiring author, or a previously published author with a new project, and you’re looking to see whether a work is publishable and of interest as a project you would take on, what criteria do you use?

[EDD] As an independent editor, I am neither bound by the requirements of a publishing house to decide whether I will work on a manuscript nor do I have to worry about whether the manuscript will eventually be published to certain parameters; instead, I want to feel I share the author’s vision and enthusiasm for the work. That’s first and foremost, and if I do feel I share the author’s vision, then I use the criteria I’ve always used to determine the potential of a manuscript—I look at whether I feel the story’s compelling, the main character’s thought-through, the main character has a clear arc in relation to some kind of antagonist, the world building’s thought-through, there’s a distinct narrative voice, and so on. To determine some basics about whether the project is viable for the marketplace, I do also consider the style of writing, the genre, the word-count, and the desired audience to see if these elements align in some ways with what I know agents and editors are looking for. If I don’t feel enthusiastic about a project for any reason and if I don’t feel I can offer substantial and useful information, guidance, and tools to the author, that means I would not be the right editor for the project and I reserve the right to decline the work.

Editing is not mechanical or robotic—and to my mind any independent editor who says they can edit anything is not necessarily doing authors a service; an author deserves to work with an editor who shares their vision and enthusiasm for the specific project, particularly if that author is paying out of pocket for the services and expertise of that editor. It’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean a manuscript needs to be in great shape for me to work on it—far from it. It may be that every element I look for in a manuscript is lacking or missing in some way, but if I get excited about what I know I can share with the author to help them become a stronger writer, then I will submit a proposal to the author accordingly. The end goal of my work with an author has changed from when I was at a publishing house: the end goal is not the promise of publication; the end goal is to assist authors in mastering their craft.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

1 Andrew Karre, Executive Editor of Dutton Books for Young Readers on What's Important in a Manuscript

Today I have a special treat for you! Andrew Karre is an amazing editor (just look at his credits below) and has the kind of wry sense of humor that I love. This succinct and fun interview gives a glimpse into the mind of the ever elusive editor:

In 2005, Andrew Karre helped launch the YA imprint Flux. He was an editorial director at Lerner Publishing Group from 2008 through 2014, overseeing Carolrhoda Books and founding Carolrhoda Lab. He has published first novels by such noted authors as Maggie Stiefvater, A.S. King, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Blythe Woolston, Carrie Mesrobian, and E.K. Johnston. In 2015, he joined Dutton Books for Young Readers as executive editor, focusing on YA and MG, fiction and nonfiction. He works from his home in St. Paul, Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewkarre.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

17 Please, sir, may I have some more: From Orphaned Book to Multi-Book Contract by Kaitlin Bevis

http://www.amazon.com/Persephone-Daughters-Zeus-Book-One/dp/1611946220/It seems to me, there are more orphans in publishing than in any other industry. Not only do we have the poor orphans we write about in YA -- gotta get rid of those parents so the teens can take the lead, don't we? -- but then we writers become orphans as well. Editors move houses or leave the industry. Imprints get bought out. Publishing houses close. Wherever you look, orphans abound, and many writers are left wondering what is to become of published stories they once thought well placed.

Author Kaitlin Bevis shares with us today her story of becoming orphaned with not one, but three books. Read on to learn how she found new and better publishing life for her three beloved orphans plus one new sibling. And be sure to check out her giveaway at the end.

Please, sir, may I have some more: From Orphan to Multi-Book Contract by Kaitlin Bevis

I am very lucky. In the middle of February, my publisher, Musa Publishing, announced they would be closing their doors. All rights were reverted back to the author and a letter stating as much was immediately produced. I had three books published by Musa in the Daughters of Zeus series: Persephone, Daughter of Earth and Sky, and The Iron Queen. Book four, Venus and Adonis, I’d held on to in hopes of finding a different publisher.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

3 Stimulus and Response -- Finding Your Way Through a Story

This is a repost of an early post I did for AYAP. Unfortunately, I've got some personal things going on today, so I'm going to take a bit of a break this week. Enjoy!

Conflict is always good.

It's good for our characters, and it's good for us as writers. Pushing ourselves through the hard scenes, the hard revisions, the tough first drafts, that's conflict. Overcoming conflict in ourselves and our writing forces us to become better at our craft the same way conflict forces our characters to become better, stronger, more interesting to our readers. And just as our characters don't always choose the right fork in the road, it often takes trial and error--and an eventual alignment of whatever planets guide our writerly feet--for us to find the right path through a story.

Monday, June 8, 2015

21 TEN Giveaways plus New YALit Releases 6/8 - 6/14 with Author Interviews

It's an embarrassment of riches today! There are sixteen new novels releasing this week to share with you, and seven of those include author interviews. Even more exciting, we have a total of ten books to give away of five of the new titles. With so many chances to win something to read this summer, make sure to enter below. Plus tell us in the comments which of the new releases have caught your fancy.

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Martina, Jan, Shelly, Susan, Lisa, and Erin


* * * *

by Chandler Baker
Signed Hardcover Giveaway

Released 6/9/2015

Stella Cross's heart is poisoned.

After years on the transplant waiting list, she's running out of hope that she'll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive.

Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone's radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

0 Sarah Ockler, author of THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS, on the big daydreamy soup pot of inspiration

We're thrilled to have Sarah Ockler join us to share more about her latest novel THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS.

Sarah, what was your inspiration for writing THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS?

Like all of my book ideas, inspiration for The Summer of Chasing Mermaids came from many different sources, all crossing my path at the same time and ending up in a big daydreamy soup pot that eventually boiled down into a story! It went something like this:

0 Anna Schumacher, author of CHILDREN OF THE EARTH, on reading books on screenwriting

We're delighted to have Anna Schumacher here to share more about CHILDREN OF THE EARTH, book two of her End Times series.

Anna, what is your favorite thing about CHILDREN OF THE EARTH?

My title says it all! CHILDREN OF THE EARTH is named after thirteen siblings who were all conceived on the same night and born on a commune called The Children of the Earth, which disbanded when they were all very young. Only Luna, their leader, has any real knowledge of their past.

In this book, the second in the END TIMES series, all thirteen siblings find themselves powerfully drawn to Carbon County, Wyoming. There, they discover powers within themselves that are amplified by the group, and begin enacting a series of rituals to awaken their gods.

0 Kelley York, author of MODERN MONSTERS, on listening to music during different stages of writing

MODERN MONSTERS is the latest novel from Kelley York, and we're excited to have her here to chat about writing.

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

I’ll admit…I’m pretty fortunate. My first published novel was with Entangled Publishing just as they opened their doors, and that was Hushed. It was only the second book I’d written. (The first one still sits in a folder all by its lonesome, probably never to be published.) I know others who wrote five or ten books before being published. Whether this was purely luck on my part, I have no idea. Every book I’ve written since then has found its way to readers.

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

My writing ritual is a lot like my life: disorganized, hahaha. In ideal circumstances, I prefer writing when I’m home alone with absolutely no distractions. When I’m plotting and editing, I listen to music, but I find myself getting distracted with it if I’m actually trying to write. So for writing itself, I have an instrumental list of various things… Lindsey Sterling, E.S. Posthumus, video game OSTs, etc.

0 Sarah Benwell, author of THE LAST LEAVES FALLING, on characters not following you plans

We're pleased to have Sarah Benwell stop by to share more about her debut novel THE LAST LEAVES FALLING.

Sarah, what was your inspiration for writing THE LAST LEAVES FALLING?

The Last Leaves Falling started out as a very different book, one which explored suicide pacts within the context of modern Japanese society. The same three characters you see in the final book formed a pact to die together after they'd each had one last perfect day.

I had it all planned out, I knew where they were headed, but my characters had other plans; a little way in I found I couldn't make them do the things I wanted. So I stopped, and thought hard about what the book was saying, and it changed. It's still about hard choices, still has the same background, with its stresses and its expectations, but it's more than that: it's a story of life and love and dignity and friendship, the things we wish for and the choices we make.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

0 First 5 Pages Workshop is Now Closed

Hi Everyone,

Sorry but the Free First Five Pages Workshop is now closed. I will email the participants that made it into the workshop today. If you don't hear from me, I'm sorry but you didn't get in this month. Please try again next month! We open the first Saturday in July.


0 Free First 5 Pages Workshop is Now Open!

Our June workshop is now open! 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 closes right here on Adventures in YA Publishing  and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages.

In addition to our talented permanent mentors, we have Shaun Hutchinson, author of The Deathday Letterfml, and The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley.  And we have Tina Schwartz as our guest agent, founder of The Purcell Agency. So get those pages ready!

June Guest Mentor – Shaun Hutchinson

Shaun is a major geek and all about nerdy shenanigans. He is the author of The Deathday Letterfml, and The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. He currently lives in South Florida with his partner and dog and watches way too much Doctor Who.

0 Free First 5 Pages Workshop Opens Today at Noon EST!

Our June workshop will open today 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 talented permanent mentors, we have Shaun Hutchinson, author of The Deathday Letterfml, and The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley.  And we have Tina Schwartz as our guest agent, founder of The Purcell Agency. So get those pages ready!

June Guest Mentor – Shaun Hutchinson

Shaun is a major geek and all about nerdy shenanigans. He is the author of The Deathday Letterfml, and The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. He currently lives in South Florida with his partner and dog and watches way too much Doctor Who.

Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.

Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.

Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.

But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.

June Guest Agent – Tina Schwartz

Agent Tina P. Schwartz, founder of The Purcell Agency , admits to being a reluctant reader as a child. In fact, she says she is still very picky when it comes to choosing a book. When not reading manuscripts, marketing website, social media, or industry blogs, you can find Schwartz on her laptop enjoying her own writing time. Tina is an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), and is the Co-Rep for her local chapter.

0 Trish Doller, author of THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, on the courage to keep trying new things

We're thrilled to have Trish Doller with us to share more about her latest novel THE DEVIL YOU KNOW.

Trish, what was your inspiration for writing THE DEVIL YOU KNOW?

The primary inspiration was a short story I read in college by F. Scott Fitzgerald called "The Ice Palace" about a young Southern woman named Sally Carroll Happer who was struggling to find her place in the modern world of the 1920s. What struck me about the story was how it echoed into the 21st century and I wanted to give Cadie the voice that Sally Carroll didn't have.

0 Betsy Schow, author of SPELLED, on entertaining yourself in order to entertain an audience

Betsy Schow is the author of the fairy tale flipside novel SPELLED, and we're delighted to have her here to chat about writing.

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

*whispers* This is top secret, but when I wrote this I had no idea what I was doing. I wrote the first 50 pages over a few months time and then the last 200 in about 3 weeks. (Note to aspiring authors: Never query your book until it's ALL the way done) Amazingly my agent loved it, despite its raw form and the rest is part of my fairy tale ending. Spelled is my first fiction book, published or unpublished. I published a non-fiction in 2013. It was a memoir, Finished being Fat. Easy to write, since hey, I lived it. Now that I am in the community, I realize how incredibly lucky I have been. And how much further I have to go so that my words on paper match the vision in my head. But I really think the ignorance was part of my success. I wrote freely without being worried to death over rules and the "proper way" to write a book.

0 Joshua McCune, author of INVISIBLE MONSTERS, on writing what appeals to you

INVISIBLE MONSTERS is the second book in Joshua McCune's Talker 25 series, and we're excited to have him stop by to tell us more about it.

Joshua, what was your inspiration for writing INVISIBLE MONSTERS?

Overall, the inspiration for the TALKER 25 series were recent wars. It's often easy to take sides. It's often hard to understand the other side's motivations. I wanted to write a war story to explore the motivations of both sides, to explore the idea of right and wrong. Is there a right? That's the question Melissa, the main character, often faces when she has to make the choices she does.

In TALKER 25, it's very easy for the reader to sympathize with the dragons. In INVISIBLE MONSTERS, I wanted to present more of the other side.

Friday, June 5, 2015

0 Free First 5 Pages Workshop Opens Tomorrow!

Our June workshop will open for entries tomorrow 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 talented permanent mentors, we have Shaun Hutchinson, author of The Deathday Letterfml, and The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley.  And we have Tina Schwartz as our guest agent, founder of The Purcell Agency. So get those pages ready!

13 When You Are Your Own Worst, Time-Wasting Enemy By Kate A. Boorman + Giveaways!

Author Kate A. Boorman joins us today to share some ideas for creating space and rituals for preserving our writing time (a lovely toolkit of ideas I definitely need!). She's also giving away a copy of her recently released UK cover for Winterkill (a limited edition as a new cover is coming out) PLUS an ARC for her upcoming Darkthaw! Be sure to enter below!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

1 The Market Value of Writing Retreats: A Guest Post by Natalie Parker and Courtney Stevens

Have you ever wondered how people get invited to writing retreats?

A lot like this: As of reading this sentence, you’re officially invited to a 3-night, craft and marketing intensive writing retreat in Camdenton, MO from August 27 – 30, 2015.

Voila! RSVP details at the end of this post!

In 2011, I attended my first writing retreat in Branson, MO. I was a last minute addition and will forever be thankful to the person who dropped out and the boss who let me go with very little warning. Though the focus was on writing, the retreat had a major impact on my career.

It’s a full 4 years later and I’m still discovering the ways in which the seeds planted at that event have become perennial crops. And every retreat I’ve organized since (that’s 6) has led to career shaping results -- from beta readers to blurbs to conference invitations. It may not seem like a writing retreat should offer anything but unscripted writing time surrounded by similarly creative minds, but they also have the potential to be a powerful if unconventional marketing tool. I’ve seen revisions mastered, anthologies created, the great mystery of royalty statements solved!

Last year I hosted 36 debut YA and MG authors on a retreat in the Smoky Mountains. At the time, I was toying with the idea of bringing the boon of writing retreats to even more writers, but I wasn’t quite sure how. That was when an author named Courtney Stevens appeared before me and without a blink of hesitation she laid out half a dozen concrete strategies for moving forward with my business.

She doesn’t know it (or at least, she didn’t until I sent this to her), but it was her words that tipped the balance for me. She had offered me what I didn’t know how to ask for: a plan for blending something I loved with the market savvy it would need to survive in the world.

That’s why the very first retreat from Madcap Retreats is with her and why I’ve asked her to answer three quick questions about marketing.

So, tell me, Courtney, person or product? Do we market ourselves or the books?

I’ve found the answer to most marketing questions is, “Well, that depends on your goals,” and it is certainly true here.

If you are Harper Lee, you primarily market the book.

If you’re me (a midlist contemporary writer), you play the long game and market the author.

Overall, there are several automatic gains to marketing the person rather than the product:

  1. Freedom to explore diverse content. When I toss out the name Robin Williams, we’re more likely to think “hilarious” than “One-Hour Photo.” Not to besmirch One Hour Photo, but in the grand scheme of Robin’s career it was arguably a failure. But that’s what a career of marketing the amazing Robin Williams earned him – the freedom to explore.
  2. Succinct marketing. Dollar per dollar, it’s cheaper to sell one brand rather than multiples. Over the coarse of a career, book topics may vary widely. The author is likely to have already arrived at their core values and therefore, will have less variance.
  3. Access. Social media is called social for a reason – it’s a great tool for people and a not-so-great tool for books. In a culture that has constructed careful walls—where we want to know the essence of others while hiding the essence of ourselves—having the opportunity to interact one-on-one with our target audience is incredibly appealing. We can only do that as people, not as our books. As Amanda Palmer so clearly explains in her Ted Talk, The Art of Asking, this dialogue that occurs between artist and consumer, is a true exchange. Personal connection is the one true-blue-always thing that sells books. Putting the person out there increases the odds of those connections. (Clearly, this can have a negative effect if the author is jerk. Pro Tip: don’t be a jerk.)

Let’s talk numbers. I know that you’ve worked long and hard to craft your marketing platform. Can you give us a few recent figures?

Before I give these numbers I should explain three things. One, I plan my year based on deadlines, and create month-blocks of time where I do little-to-no events. For the 2014-15 school year those times were August -- October and January -- March. Two, I have two additional jobs besides being an author. Three, I sit down every January and make tangible goals so I have a measurable trajectory. With those caveats in mind here are my nitty gritty numbers:

  • School Visits: 20
  • Promotional Mailings: 2 so far consisting of 1500 (ish) stamps
  • Joint-author events: 11
  • Conferences: 3
  • Book Festivals: 4
  • Retreats: 4
  • Miscellaneous (i.e. book clubs, lectures, etc.): 11

Not all marketing is for all writers. What’s one tip you have for writers pondering the wealth of marketing opportunities?

Only one? My first tip is to attend our retreat where there will be a multitude of suggestions, (because Natalie Parker throws the best retreats in the world. You guys, I wanted/bullied/encouraged her to start this business because I need to partake of Madcap’s fruits.)

Since I know that isn’t a reality for everyone, the number one thing I’ll leave you with is: set a realistic marketing goal based on your strengths and personality. If you’re looking for more info, check out this article on using the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator to discover your marketing style.

Thanks, Courtney!

The Anatopy of Publishing: Story & Marketing Retreat

This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to join us for The Anatomy of Publishing: Story & Marketing retreat this August, please visit this page. A retreat like this one brought Courtney and I together and it’s through retreats that we’d like to meet you, too!


Natalie C . Parker is the author of young adult novels Beware the Wild (HarperTeen, 2014), Behold the Bones (HarperTeen, 2016), as well as the editor of an forthcoming young adult anthology. Natalie has a BA in Literature from the University of Southern Mississippi where she graduated with honors, and an MA in Women's Studies from the University of Cincinnati. She has been teaching Critique Camp as an online short course since July 2013 and facilitates a local writers group in Kansas. She currently works for the University of Kansas where she is a project coordinator. As part of her work, she provides weekly writing workshops for tribal college students.

Find her online: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

Courtney C. Stevens grew up in Kentucky and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She's an adjunct professor at Lindsey Wilson College, the author of Faking NormalThe Blue-Haired Boy (Novella), The Lies About Truth, and two forthcoming titles, as well as the Author-in-Residence for JKS Communications, a national book publicity firm. Faking Normal is a 2015-16 Georgia Peach nominee, 2016 Bluegrass Award nominee, 2016 Volunteer State Book Award nominee, and the recipient of a Crystal Kite. As an educator, author and marketer, Courtney visits schools, designs retreats, and teaches workshops on marketing, revision, character development, John Truby, and Channeling Your Brave.

Find her online: Website | Twitter

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2 Surviving Santiago: A Conversation with Lyn Miller-Lachmann + Giveaway!

We're thrilled to welcome to the blog today multipublished author Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Lyn has just released Surviving Santiago, the companion to her acclaimed Gringolandia, and is here to share with us what inspired this fascinating story set in Chile during the final days of the Pinochet dictatorship. Be sure to check out her giveaway of Surviving Santiago below her interview!

Surviving Santiago: A WOW-Wednesday Post with Lyn Miller-Lachmann

After publishing her critically-acclaimed YA novel Gringolandia, author Lyn Miller-Lachmann gave the book to her husband’s aunt. Gringolandia is about a Pinochet-era Chilean teen exile in the U.S. coping with his father, a torture survivor, coming to live with his family. Aunt Ruth was a young child when her own family fled a fascist regime (Nazi Germany), and her older sister remembered their old life better and never hesitated to remind her of their difference. She greatly sympathized with Tina, the little sister in Gringolandia, whose childhood was also marred by dark memories and a difficult transition. So Lyn Miller-Lachmann wrote Surviving Santiago, a stand-alone story from Tina’s point-of-view, and dedicated it to Aunt Ruth.

Surviving Santiago is lush with descriptions of Santiago, Chile, and the surrounding area. Did all the description come from your memories of being there in 1989? Are there any landmarks you made up or changed?

Most of my descriptions come from my memories of being in Santiago and the surrounding area and from the many rolls of photos that I took when I was there. I also saw a number of Chilean films set in the city during that time and in the decade afterward (some examples are Gringuito and this very weird indie film called Malta con huevo) and did a lot of research on the internet. Many of the landmarks are real places, such as the Cerro San Cristóbal and Cerro Santa Lucía in the middle of the city, the Plaza de Armas, and the Alto Las Condes mall, which opened shortly before Tina arrived in Chile. But even though I know their names, I was vague about the specific neighborhoods where my principal characters live. As Tía Ileana pointed out, there’s been a huge amount of new development in Santiago since the return of democracy, so everything has changed, probably several times in the past 25 years.

Some of my descriptions of nature were inspired by the work of Nico Willson E., a wonderful architect and photographer (and gay rights activist) who I follow on Instagram. You can check out his feed at @nicowillsone.

Tina’s papá’s struggle with alcoholism feels heartbreakingly real. Tell us how he got to that point.

The alcoholic parent has become a trope of young adult literature. Either the parent has checked out, which is a way of getting rid of parents without actually killing them off, or the parent is abusive and that abuse is the novel’s “problem.” I wanted to portray Tina’s papá as a complex person who has his own desires and reasons for acting the way he does. Yes, he’s a deeply flawed person but also one capable of heroic acts and, like Tina, able to change and grow.

Tina’s fond memories of her father are of him before he was arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and crippled, events which led to his developing post-traumatic stress disorder and self-medicating with alcohol. By the time she sees him again in Chile, he’s struggling to keep it together during the day at work while drinking himself to sleep at night. Following the restoration of democracy, he has reached a crisis point because, in many ways, his life’s work is done and all he’s left with is his pain. When I was in Chile, I saw that among my friends who had spent more than a decade fighting the dictatorship, and once the elections were over and they were seen as having “won,” it was hard to find a new role.

Papá is casting about for a new role, in his case reconnecting with his family. But his experience of imprisonment and torture, his years underground, and his dependence on alcohol make it difficult for him to fit into this role as a father and brother. He’s at the point of giving up, and those around him know it. What keeps him from giving up is being in the middle of another battle—in his friend Ernesto’s words, “doing something really dangerous” that almost costs him his (and Tina’s) life.

As a Chilean lesbian in 1989, Tía Ileana’s situation is particularly difficult. What was your inspiration for writing her character?

When I published with Curbstone Press, I got to know the work of the lesbian Latina author Carla Trujillo, whose debut novel, What Night Brings, portrays a Mexican-American girl coming to terms with her sexual orientation at the same time that she and her younger sister plot the banishment of their abusive father. This novel made me think of the challenges faced by lesbians in the patriarchal cultures of Latin America, where the Catholic Church has played a major role in policing sexuality as well.

In Chile, the Catholic Church is especially strong and has broad support because of the Church’s support for human rights and its solidarity work with the victims of the dictatorship. This was even truer in 1989, when the Church had played a key role in ending the dictatorship. The Church’s conservative social positions on gay rights, birth control, and abortion thus held more sway, even with people like Marcelo who weren’t especially religious. Besides working closely with the Church, Marcelo is also influenced by the culture of machismo. Not only does this affect his relationship with his older sister, it also prevents him from seeking the help he needs to heal from his years of imprisonment and torture.

What would you like readers to take away from the story?

I would like to get readers excited about traveling to other countries and getting to know their people, histories, and cultures. On a school visit for Gringolandia, one student said that his older sister had traveled frequently to Chile for work, and “it’s not like that anymore.” I said that Chile isn’t like the country depicted in Gringolandia (and Surviving Santiago, which was a work in progress at the time) because of the efforts of people like my characters, who struggled and sacrificed much to restore freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights. In the United States, we take our freedom and democracy for granted, but it can be easily lost, and once it’s lost, it’s very difficult to get back.

About the Book:

When Love Turns Dangerous....

Returning to her homeland of Santiago, Chile, is the last thing that Tina Aguilar wants to do during the summer of her sixteenth birthday. It has taken eight years for her to feel comfort and security in the United States with her mother and her new stepfather. And it has been three years since she has last seen her father. Still damaged from the torture inflicted on him by the secret police during the Pinochet regime, Papá spends all his time with politics and alcohol rather than reconnecting with her. Fortunately, a handsome motorcycle-riding boy has taken an interest in Tina—though his presence turns out to be far from incidental or innocent. Tina’s heart is already in turmoil, but a threat to her family brings her to the edge of truth and discovery.

This companion to the acclaimed Gringolandia is a tale of deadly deception and the redemptive power of love set in the tense final months of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1989. Lyn Miller-Lachmann vividly describes Santiago, with its smog and palm trees, graffiti-covered shanties and modern apartment buildings and malls, inviting readers into a distinct, complex world not often seen in YA fiction in North America. But at its heart, SURVIVING SANTIAGO explores the familiar themes of family, young romance, and a perpetual outsider struggling to figure out where she belongs.

Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads

About the Author:

Lyn Miller-Lachmann is the author of Gringolndia (a 2010 ALA Best Book for Young Adults) and Rogue. She has an M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and an M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin. She is the former editor of MultiCultural Review, and has taught English, social studies, and Jewish studies. She is the assistant host of Vientos del Pueblo, a bilingual radio show featuring Latin American and Spanish music, poetry, and history. She grew up in Houston and currently lives in Albany, NY, with her family.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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 -- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

4 The Changing Tone of Social Media and a PICK ANY YA NOVEL Giveaway

I’m finding myself in one of those moods where, some days, I have to drag myself to social media. I know the answer to this—focus on the writing, and read and post about writing craft. I always find that invigorating, but it’s hard to stay away from the rest of the Internet.

Two things yesterday disturbed me. One, the backlash against Facebook’s insistence on using real names, and two Supreme Court’s decision on what constitutes a threat. To me, both these issues are related.

I’m doing a keynote for a the Literacy Council of Virginia later this month, which has given me a chance to reflect on what learning English and having the freedom to use it to express myself has really meant to me.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m from Prague which is in the Czech Republic. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was communist, dominated and controlled by Moscow. Citizens were expected to be part of the Communist Party and follow a particular ideology. Choosing not to follow the party line basically meant you didn’t get to work in any meaningful capacity. My father is a physicist, and my mother is a mathematician, and so, since they didn’t believe in Communism, they made the decision to defect.

We left the country with nothing—literally without the money to reach Denmark where we were headed. But that didn’t matter. Leaving was hopeful. It allowed for the possibility of hope, the chance to work for something better. Most of all, it was an environment where anyone could say what they thought without having to fear that would result in arrest or the destruction of a career.

Of course, the fact that we could, didn’t mean we would. There was a politeness when we first came—until a few years ago, with the advent of rap lyrics and social media—that meant no one would *really* say the most awful things that crossed their minds.

That’s changed. In social media, it seems to be okay to say whatever you think, no matter how hurtful, or awful, or thoughtlessly worded.

Conversely, where it still seems to be less “okay” to say what we think is in books. There are some tough scenes in Persuasion, and I truly agonized over including them. Not because I worried about being challenged, but because I wanted to balance the fact that this is what my characters truly thought and experienced against the emotions of the reader as they live through the book with those characters.

I cringe at the list of books that are challenged whenever I see a new edition, and I’m shocked listening to authors I know talking about their experiences after having written tough material. Some of the word-choices and personally-directed vitriol used to decry the words and ideas written by American authors and published in the United States make me scratch my head. I read every book I could get my hands on when I was a teenager. The more I read, the more I was able to put down the books I didn’t want to read, and both as a parent and as a teen, I realize that the thing that someone told me not to read was the first thing I picked up.

If you’ve ever read some of the words and descriptions used by people challenging books we ALL know and love, you’d be shocked. Or maybe not. The ability to use those words, the ability to attack those books, the ability to deny those ideas is the cornerstone of free speech, but has it gone too far?

What do you think?

I’m asking. Seriously. Where do we draw the line? Where does our freedom to say and think what we like intersect with our responsibility to be a community?

What do you think? And how do we foster a society that’s both free and civil? Or is that too much to ask?

This Week's Giveaway

Believe it or not, Persuasion isn't that far away. People are starting to download it on Edelweiss, and copies are going out to reviewers, so I'm starting my series of giveaways again because people really seemed to love them last year.

This month, there are three places to win:

Two Chicks on Books
Tales of a Ravenous Reader 

Each of those giveaways is unique, so be sure to enter all three for a chance to win this prize:

But wait, there's more : ) 

Every entry into each of those three giveaways gives you an automatic entry for the Grand Prize:

Want an extra chance to win? Complete the Rafflecopter below!

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