Friday, July 31, 2015

1 Harry Potter Day! A Celebration of JK Rowling's Influence on Writers

Happy Potter Day!

July 31. Since 1997, it is the day that many fans worldwide have celebrated the birthday of a very special character and story. JK Rowling's imagination has touched thousands of lives and inspired millions to read.

But she also inspired writers. And it seems appropriate to us at Adventures in YA Publishing to celebrate on this day, which is also JK Rowling's 50th birthday, the influence she had on so many to create their own characters and envision their own worlds. We've gathered stories from many authors sharing how Harry and Jo influenced them. We hope you will enjoy these treasured inspirations and share your own in the comments.

But as it's Jo's birthday, let us also not forget the many charities she's sponsored. To give a present to a women who has given us so much would mean remembering Lumos (seeks to end institutionalized orphanages and place children in homes), or Gingerbread (provides help to one-parent families), or Book Aid International (works to provide libraries and books in Africa). Indeed, Jo gave so generously, that she was knocked off Forbes' billionaire list.

Happy Birthday Jo! May you have many more, and may we enjoy more fruits of your imagination.

How Harry Potter Influenced Me. A Birthday Celebration of JK Rowling's Influence on Writers!

-- Donna Hosie, author of The Devil's Intern, Website, Twitter
Like many authors, I started writing because of Harry Potter. During the years of release mania, I was lucky enough to be working on The Leaky Cauldron website, a fan site that J.K. Rowling actually named as her favourite. Warner Bros and EA Games asked me to be a fan consultant on some of their movie tie-in products and I would go along to the studios, interview the creative masterminds, see stills, props and conceptual artwork before anyone else, and generally geek out and yell "Expelliarmus" at unsuspecting Muggles!

I went from writing reports of my visits to writing fan fiction to writing my own time-travel novels. Eight years after 'The End', I'm an award-winning author. None of that would have happened without The Boy Who Lived. So Harry Potter literally changed my life.

And I'm still yelling "Expelliarmus"!

-- Claire M. Caterer, author of The Wand & The Sea, Website, Twitter

I can't say I've grown up with Harry Potter, because I was already grown when I started reading about him. But I will say my writing grew up--quite a lot. What I've taken from J.K. Rowling's example are two crucial points: complexity of character and complexity of plot.

Few things have moved me in literature more than the struggle of Severus Snape as the good and bad within him dueled for supremacy. When I sat down to write my first children's book, I knew I needed some characters who struggled within themselves the way Snape does, the way Harry does (forever wondering if he's somehow part Voldemort), the way Dumbledore does. "The world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters," as Sirius Black says.

And how could anyone not be awed and influenced by the intricacy of the Harry Potter plots? The gentle placement of symbols, especially those relating to alchemy and the elements, had a huge impact on me as I was planning THE KEY & THE FLAME series. JKR taught me to go back through the manuscript, deepen the work a little bit more, and then again, and yet again. I haven't mastered her methods yet, but I keep trying.

-- Lisa Gail Green, author of Soul Crossed, Website, Twitter

Harry Potter was so amazing that it actually delayed me from pursuing writing! I felt like nothing less was worthwhile, and that at the same time there was no way to reach that level of accomplishment. What cured me? I read Twilight. LOL!!! *ducks tomatoes*

Seriously though, HP is mastery at work. JK Rowling invited us into a world, as readers, that was as real as the one we live in, yet full of magic. Every detail, every character, a well-rounded masterpiece that fit together as a perfect puzzle. Not just that - but as a person she is an absolute inspiration. When I have trouble writing because of my toddler I think of her with the stroller in a cafe scribbling in a notebook and I have renewed determination.

 -- Gwynne Jackson, author of "Hans & the Best Day Ever" in Happily Ever Afterlife, Website, Twitter

Three points come to mind when I think of the influence JK Rowling and her Harry Potter books have had on my writing. The first is that being a visual writer is a very good thing. JKR has the ability to describe things just enough so that we can see them, but can still put our own spin on them. The most beautiful part of this is that she rarely overdoes it. Point #2 is in the way she buries clues deep inside her narrative. Sometimes these clues might not even be recognized as clues until four or five books later, but her consistency with them is outstanding. A name here, an attribute there, and three books later it's a major plot point. Some of these might have been planted in advance and others serendipitous, but in either case they're brilliant.

The biggest influence JKR's had on my writing is in the way she treats minor characters. I doubt there's a single character in any of the HP books where she doesn't know their story, their background, their motivations, their desires. This is what's fueled so much fanfiction based on her work: everyone loves a hero, but she makes the other characters so real and so multi-layered that as readers we can't help but want to make each of them the star. In real life we're all the center of our own universe. JK Rowling has created a world where that's also true for every one of her characters. It's my favorite thing about her writing, and something I always try to emulate.

-- Gwen Katz, represented by Thao Le, Website, Twitter

Hogwarts felt the size of a real school: Harry has a lot of acquaintances beyond his close friends, he isn't always in the same classes with his friends, and even in the later books, he sometimes runs into kids he doesn't know because they're in other houses and grades. Important roles like Quidditch team captain often fall to people outside the main characters, making them feel like real people with actual lives who don't cease to exist when Harry isn't around. Harry Potter encouraged me to set my books in large worlds where even minor characters feel like they are living real lives.


  -- Susan Sipal, author of A Writer's Guide to Harry Potter, Website, Twitter

I was already a writer when I first started reading Harry Potter to my son, but my writing took a turn after meeting The Boy Who Lived.  My son and I spent many hours together ferreting out JK Rowling's clues and trying to guess what would happen next. While he loved figuring out the meanings behind her mythical names, I got sucked into the many layers of subtext JKR wove into each adventure.

Rowling knew how to deeply engage her reader. She always gave the reader more...more delightful characters, more fantastic world building, and more deeply hidden mysteries and secrets. This depth and reader engagement is why Harry Potter spawned fanfiction, fanart, Wizard Rock, movies, and even theme parks. Seeking to understand her secrets, I developed a workshop analyzing Rowling's techniques for writers, and have enjoyed presenting it to fans who love Rowling's creations as much as I do. She has inspired me to, in any genre I write, always write below the surface and to seek the reader's engagement like Harry seeking the Snitch.

The love of a very powerful story can influence writers in the stories they tell for years to come. We thank all the authors for sharing their own encounter with The Boy who Lived.

Please, everyone, feel free to add in the comments your experience of how Harry Potter or JK Rowling influenced your writing. We'd LOVE to hear more stories!

0 1st 5 Pages Workshop Opens Tomorrow!

I was sad to see the 1st 5 Pages July Workshop come to an end – we had such a great group of talented and supportive writers! A big thanks to our guest mentors, Ava Jae, author of the forthcoming BEYOND THE RED, and Patricia Nelson of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. They both provided terrific comments and suggestions. And as always, thank you to all of our fabulous permanent mentors! We are thrilled to welcome authors Brenda DrakeJanet B. TaylorStephanie Scott and Wendy Spinale to our group!

Our August workshop will open for entries tomorrow, Saturday August 1, 2015, 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 permanent mentors, we have Lori Goldstein  as our author mentor, and in addition to being a talented writer and a very nice person, Lori is an alum of the workshop! Our agent mentor is the fabulous Caitie Flum.

And remember, we have a new format! The workshop is now four weeks, so the participants have the opportunity to get feedback on a pitch, and Caitie will select one participant as the “workshop winner”- and the prize is that she will review and comment on the first chapter of the manuscript!

August Guest Mentor – Lori Goldstein 

Lori was born into an Italian-Irish family and raised in a small town on the New Jersey shore. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Lehigh University and worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before becoming a full-time author. She currently lives and writes outside of Boston. Lori is the author of the young adult contemporary fantasy series Becoming Jinn (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 21, 2015, Spring 2016). You can visit her online at


Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit. To the humans she lives among, she's just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she's learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny. Mentored by her mother and her Zar "sisters," Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn...and that her powers could endanger them all.

Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online at Indie BoundAmazonBarnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf on Goodreads!

August Guest Agent – Caitie Flum

Caitie joined Liza Dawson Associates in July 2014 as assistant and audio rights manager. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2009 with a BA in English with a concentration in publishing studies. Caitie interned at Hachette Book Group and Writers House. She was an Editorial Assistant then Coordinator for Bookspan, where she worked on several clubs including the Book-of-the-Month Club, The Good Cook, and the Children's Book-of-the-Month Club. Caitie is looking for commercial and upmarket fiction with great characters and superb writing, especially historical fiction, mysteries/thrillers of all kinds, magical realism, and book club fiction. Caitie is also looking for Young Adult and New Adult projects, particularly romance, historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers, and contemporary books with diverse characters. In nonfiction, she is looking for memoirs that make people look at the world differently, narrative nonfiction that's impossible to put down, books on pop culture, theater, current events, women's issues, and humor.

So what are you waiting for? Get those pages ready!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

0 Agent Penelope Burns of Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners on Surprises, Chocolate, and Research

Penelope Burns is the newest member of Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners. She came to the agency as an intern after graduating from Colgate University in 2012. She also attended the Denver Publishing Institute in summer 2012. Currently, as an agency assistant, Penelope is looking to a build a list of her own. You can connect with Penelope on Twitter.

What is on your wish list?

I’ve been really craving a YA along the lines of GOSSIP GIRL lately, or a mystery with a VERONICA MARS-ish element or main character. Something that keeps me guessing. Reality TV is my not-so guilty pleasure, so I’d LOVE to see a YA version of unREAL. Or really any version of unREAL. I also absolutely adore MG with humor.

What are some of your favorite authors/books and why do you love them?

Ooh this question has the opportunity to turn into a novel. I love anything written by Jaclyn Moriarty; she has such a way of creating characters that just grip you and won’t let go. Markus Zusak is another favorite author, although I think I might like I AM THE MESSENGER better than THE BOOK THIEF (not that TBT didn’t make me sob like a baby, because it did). There’s something about that first line of I AM THE MESSENGER—“The gunman is useless”—that just drew me in so instantly. And the plot is so intricate, I love it. I also love THE DARKEST MINDS series by Alexandra Bracken. Wonderful writing, characterization, and SUCH a great premise. Also Liam. He's my book boyfriend. I also adore contemporary books like SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE by Morgan Matson. It has friendship as well as romance—and I was actually rooting for the two characters to get together, which is big for me because one of my pet peeves in a book is instalove. And finally, a bit old school, but THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskin is one of my favorite books. I just love the mystery, and the final twist is one I never saw coming.

Are you an editorial agent?

I am! It’s important to make sure the book is in the best shape it can be before sending it out to editors.

What do you like to do for fun?

The usual: hang out with my friends, watch TV, etc. I also love watching sports; my friends know to leave me alone when during a Flyers playoff game unless they want to watch me scream at the TV. And read, obviously! I always try to use my commute for “fun” reading as opposed to reading for work, unless there’s something really pressing.

Coffee, tea, wine, chocolate, or any other vices?

Ooh, definitely chocolate. I am actually NOT a coffee drinker; caffeine has the tendency to make me way too jumpy and unproductive. I’ve also become a really big hard cider person recently.

What advice do you have for writers getting ready to query you?

Relax and take a deep breath! But also, do your research! There are so many resources out there for how to write a good query letter; you want to put forth your best effort. Including comp titles is great—I love when I see one of my favorites as a comp title because it normally means that the manuscript will be towards my taste. Also, proofread! One or two typos doesn’t doom a query, but if the whole thing is riddled with them, that raises a red flag for me. Also one of my pet peeves is if the query is addressed to an entirely different person, or like “Dear Agent.” There’s something so impersonal about an error like that.

What genres are you drawn to most?

I’m mostly drawn to contemporary YA, be that a thriller, romance, gothic, etc. But I will honestly read anything, so if it’s got a great premise and a compelling voice, I’m sure to give it a chance. And I love MG in all forms. I also love literary adult fiction, or a coming-of-age adult novel like PREP or TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME.

Which is more crucial: emotional connection or current marketability?

Both are obviously important, but for me, I’d say emotional connection. If I don’t fall 100% in love with a book, then I won’t be able to advocate for it effectively. And it’s also possible that even if the book I’m reading is not right for the current marketplace, the author’s next book might be. So just the writing and how I feel about it is something that I have to consider.

Is there anything you'd like to add that you think our readers should know?

Sometimes the best books are the ones that come to me completely unexpectedly. A small anecdote: I was at the library the other week with my two younger cousins, and they asked if they could pick books for me to read. One picked JOYRIDE by Anna Banks. I’d surprisingly never heard of it before, and honestly wasn’t expecting much when I started reading it—but I ended up reading the whole book in two days and absolutely LOVED it. One of my favorite reads of 2015 for sure. And I probably never would have picked it up otherwise!

Also, some of the best advice I’ve ever received: “Doubt yourself, and do it anyway.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

1 The Super-Secret Key To Publishing Success by Erica O'Rourke

Ooops note: We accidentally posted our voting form for the top fifty in the #GreenLightWIP contest earlier today, but it was scheduled to go up NEXT Wednesday. Please look out for it then!  Meanwhile, back to our regularly scheduled and wonderful post!

We're excited to welcome author Erica O'Rourke to the blog today. Erica's Resonance is the thrilling follow up to Dissonance. Today she's going to share with us the key to becoming a publishing success.

In Which I Reveal The Super-Secret Key To Publishing Success by Erica O'Rourke

As a published author, one of the most common questions I hear is, “Which conferences/classes/websites/resources do you recommend to aspiring authors?”

It’s a list I’m happy to provide. So many people have taught me essential things about the craft and business of writing on my path to publication, and I want to pay it forward.


None of those resources are a magical key that will unlock the door to publication – because there isn’t one. There’s only the real key, and it’s not on any list.

The real key – the single biggest factor that helped me become a published author – was this: I got serious about writing.

If you’d asked me the year before I sold my first book, I would have said, “Yes! I am serious! I belong to a writers’ group, I read lots of books on craft , I attend conferences, I talk to my writer friends all the time! I’m polishing my elevator pitch and follow important people on Twitter! I am super-serious!”

Except… all the books and classes and meetings and writerly coffee dates…weren’t writing. Analyzing episodes of Lost wasn’t adding words to my story. Polishing my pitch wasn’t the same as polishing my own prose.

And then one day, I decided to enter a contest, and it required a full manuscript.

Which I did not have.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

5 Six Ways to Unleash the Magic of Subconscious Writing

In the language of a recent Suits episode, I'm a "grinder" rather than a "rainmaker." Writing doesn't come easily for me, and I spend countless hours staring at sentences and rewriting them fourteen times, only to discover that the first version was probably the best. I add layers, and subplots, and symbolism, and connect the dots through sheer hard grunt work.

Sometimes I hate writing.

But then there are the rare flashes of brilliance that I swear don't come from me. The moments of magic when there's a muse on my shoulder. Or a miracle. Or all of the above. That's the part of writing that makes the rest worthwhile.

We all want more of those creative insights, but how do we get them?

Monday, July 27, 2015

16 THREE Giveaways plus New YALIT Releases Week of 7/27 with Author Interviews

There aren't too many new books releasing this week, but we have plenty of excitement coming up this week to tide you over. Have you voted in the Red Light Green Light contest? Vote now! Voting closes tonight, and the next round begins on Wednesday, so be sure to check back!

Happy reading,

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

Saturday, July 25, 2015

1 Avery Hastings, author of TORN, on writing while snuggling with a dog

TORN is the second novel in the Feuds series, and we're excited to have Avery Hastings here tell us more about it.

Avery, 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?

When Davis finally encounters her mother, it’s a very tense and emotional moment. She’s longed for her mother for years—and when she sees her, it’s a horrible disappointment, but it also offers closure. It was really tough to write that scene given that Davis had to cycle through shock, horror, crushing disappointment, and sadness. But I also love that scene because it brings Davis to a stronger, clearer place. She never felt like she measured up to her mother’s legacy as a ballerina—but seeing her mother for who she is allows her to appreciate the parts of her that are nothing like her mother. She can move out from under her mother’s shadow, and stop reaching for something unattainable.

0 Amanda Panitch, author of DAMAGE DONE, on when to let things go

We're delighted Amanda Panitch, whose debut novel is DAMAGE DONE, could join us to chat about writing.

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

I can write pretty much anywhere at any time: I regularly write in all sorts of different places, from my apartment to other people's houses to trains to Riverside Park. I thank my upbringing as one of five kids in a relatively small house, where there was always noise and you had to learn how to focus no matter what was going on around you! I do have trouble, however, writing on anything besides my trusty laptop - I get used to the feeling of the keys and having all of my documents and notes there with me. It took me ages to adjust when I had to replace my laptop a few years ago and I'm dreading having to eventually do it again.

0 Laurie Faria Stolarz, author of RETURN TO THE DARK HOUSE, on being open to learning and improving

RETURN TO THE DARK HOUSE is the second book in Laurie Faria Stolarz's Dark House series, and we're pleased she stopped by to remind us of the importance of perseverance in the writing business.

Laurie, what do you hope readers will take away from RETURN TO THE DARK HOUSE?

Prior to the beginning of WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE, Ivy had spent years trying to put her fears and anxieties to rest (fears based on the death of her parents and the resulting paranoia that her parents’ killer will one day come back for her). In both WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE and RETURN TO THE DARK HOUSE, rather than trying to move on without dealing with her terrifying past, Ivy decides to face her fears head-on. I think that bravery is so admirable.

Friday, July 24, 2015

0 Ask a Pub Pro: Author Stefanie Gaither on Character Names, Science Fiction Research, and POV

We are thrilled to welcome author Stefanie Gaither to the blog this month as our columnist for Ask a Pub Pro! Stefanie is the author of the very popular and thrilling Falls the Shadow, with the sequel coming in 2016. She's here to answer your reader questions on unusual names for fantasy, how many books can an author squeeze into a series, the balance of fiction and fact for science fiction, and how many POV characters can make up an ensemble. 

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

Also, please do not forget next week's Happy Potter Birthday celebration!  If you were inspired to write, or if your writing was any way influenced by JK Rowling, we'd love to hear from you! Please send a paragraph (or two) telling us how Harry Potter influenced your writing and you may be included in next week's celebration.

Email posts to AYAPLit AT, and please put Happy Potter Day in the subject line. We'll let you know before July 31 if yours is one of the submissions chosen.

Author Stefanie Gaither on Character Names, Science Fiction Research, and POV

1) Writer Question: I'm worried about the names I'm creating for my WIP. My story is a fantasy, and the names I've envisioned sometimes have hyphenated endings to add a suffix meaning onto the name. But it seems that I've heard hyphens in names are frowned upon. I'm keeping the names very simple, even with the hyphens, so that it will not be confusing to the reader. Do you think that will work? Or would the use of hyphens be too off-putting? Would an apostrophe be better?

I actually just finished up a fantasy WIP of my own, so I understand the name struggle :) I don’t think that hyphens in names are immediately off-putting—so long as it fits the story and/or character. Other readers may feel differently, of course. If you’re really concerned about it, maybe there’s a way to compromise? Have their formal name hyphenated, but perhaps they go by a nickname that flows more easily for the reader?

Either way, one thing I like to do when figuring out names is to ask people unfamiliar with my story/character what comes to mind when I mention a person named “XYZ” or whatever; in your case, maybe write the name and then ask friends and fellow writers what immediately jumps into their minds when they see it—and if it’s in line with what you’re going for with this particular character, then you’re golden. Poll as many people as you can. Of course, not everyone will have the same answer, but it will give you a general idea of what the name you came up with is “showing” potential readers about this character—and whether or not they’re stumbling over things like hyphens.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

0 Red Light: Contest is now closed to entries

Entries are now closed!

Look over the fabulous entries and vote for your favorite first line here

Spread the word about the contest and increase your favorite first line's chances of winning by using the hashtag #GreenLightWIP on Twitter.

You can find the rules here.
You can find a list of our AMAZING judges (including 8 agents) here.

0 Online Writing Contests: Three Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Take the Plunge

I thought it would be perfect timing to broach this subject while running our new Red Light/Green Light Contest. I've seen several articles while poking around online, but most seem to relate more to entering your finished book as opposed to those in the "Searching for an Agent" stage.

There are so many contests these days if you look! Everything from PitchWars to Sun Vs. Snow. I entered my own fair share before finding my current agent and publisher, and since joining AYAP, this is the fourth contest I've run (not counting the times I've judged in the past).

So with all this experience, what have I learned? That there are three main things you should ask yourself before entering anything.

  1. Is this contest worth my time? 
      1. Do a little research. Who are the judges? Are they published authors who you respect? Agents you can verify with a site like QueryTracker or from established and known agencies? Editors for established publishers with a good track record? I entered a contest and won a partial and full! But guess what? My second book comes out in September and I still never received a response from either one. 0.o  
      2. What are the prizes? Is it something you can use like a critique from someone relevant to your work or ten dollars at the bookstore? Not that I'm knocking the ten dollars. I'd take it! But one would be more valuable to me than the other. What are the rules? Are you allowed to enter other contests at the same time? Are you being charged money? Personally I am wary of anyone asking for money, though I know some are legit, some are not. Weigh that carefully. 
      3. What kind of commitment are you looking at? Is it something that takes away writing and query time that you really should be focusing on? Or is it something that helps work out the piece you're having issues with or about to query?
  2. Am I ready?
      1. It's exciting sometimes to want to get your work seen by agents and authors! But don't forget you always want your best out there. If you haven't had any eyes on it but your own you may want to hold off until the next "season" of contests is upon us. Believe me it will come soon enough. 
      2. Are you prepared to receive criticism? We always strive to make sure that the feedback is respectful, but you can't control everyone and even with a positive intention it can be difficult to hear that something you've worked so hard on could stand some changes. Are you ready and willing to hear that? Because if the truthful answer is no then you should think twice. 
      3. Is the manuscript finished? If not, what happens if you win and an agent requests the material? That puts both of you in a difficult position. 
  3. Why am I entering?
      1. Feedback may not be a glamorous reason, but it is probably the most important. There is nothing more valuable than a fresh set of eyes on your work, especially if those eyes belong to amazing authors, agents, or editors! Just be sure to check the above question and make sure you're ready for it.
      2. Prestige may or may not come from these contests, depending on which one and who you're telling about it. If it's well known or respected it may be worth mentioning in a query letter. 
      3. Connections are important especially when genuine. So when you have a positive connection with other writers and get to know them through contests like this, that's a plus you can't measure. It may also make you feel more comfortable sending out your work when you've been through a contest or two. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

0 Green Light!! Contest Open For Entries Again!

We want to give as many aspiring writers as possible the opportunity to have their work seen by others. Peers, published authors, and agents. So...

We will accept entries until we reach 100! 

Get those entries in for this great opportunity and help us spread the word to others. Use the hashtag #GreenLightWIP on Twitter to keep up.

We will post the rest of the entries by tomorrow morning at 9AM Eastern.

You can find the rules here.
You can find a list of our AMAZING judges (including 8 agents) here.

13 Vote for Your Favorite First Line - Red Light Green Light Contest.

Voting for the Red Light / Green Light Contest is now open! Choose your favorite first lines below (you can pick more than one). Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom! Voting closes at 11:59pm Eastern Time on Monday 27th July.

Spread the word using the hashtag #GreenLightWIP. Good luck to all that entered! We'll be contacting those who successfully made it into the next round on Tuesday morning to get your second sentences.

Create your own user feedback survey

Some people using Internet Explorer have been having issues with the voting form above. If this is you: don't worry! You can still vote HERE.

0 RL/GL Contest Entries Still Open!

UPDATE: Entries for the Red Light/Green Light are STILL OPEN! We'll be posting the voting form later today, but until then keep sending your entries as per the rules below.

Contest closes at 9am Eastern Time

Do you have a completed but unpublished MG, YA, or NA manuscript and are looking for an agent? Then do we have the contest for you!


1. Email your entry (follow the format below) to with the subject line RLGL - Your Manuscript Title.

2. Each entry should include your name, email, manuscript title, manuscript length, Manuscript genre/subgenre, and first sentence.

Good form, horrible example,

IDA Luv Anoffer
78,000 words
YA Magical Realism

When I saw the hot vampire I knew immediately that I was in the best book ever written.

3. Any currently unagented person may enter only once with a completed but unpublished MG, YA, or NA manuscript.

Judges: Check out this link for all the bios!

Author Judges include: Martina Boone, Sheri Larsen, Dhalia Adler, Kimberly Little, Erin Cashman, Ron Smith, Holly Bodger, Liza Wiemer, Joy Hensley, Sarah Ockler, Kim Liggett, Sara Raasch, and Lisa Gail Green.

Agent Judges include: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Sarah Negovetich, Moe Ferrar, and Saba Sulaiman, Susan Hawk, Christa Heschke, Amaryah Orenstein and Dr. Uwe Stender of Triada US.


The top ten entries (excluding the top three) will each receive a one chapter (up to 12 pages) critique from a published or soon to be published author.

The 3 grand prize winners will each receive a one chapter (up to 12 pages) critique and/or partial request by at least one participating agent. The grand prize winner will also receive a partial request from the amazing Ammi-Joan Paquette, who is currently open only to submissions via referrals.

The Contest

Today, July 21 at 9AM Eastern we will open submissions. We will take the first 50 entries that follow the rules! We will reopen at 9PM Eastern for the final 50 (and take the remainder in order from the morning if we do not fill up).

July 22: We will post 100 first sentences on the main blog! YOU will vote using an imbedded survey and our judges (some combination of agents and published authors for each round) will vote using a private survey, private votes will be worth 65% of the score and public will be worth 35%. The top 50 will be asked to resubmit with a second sentence added on!

July 30: We announce the top 50 and ask for the second sentences.

August 5: We will publish the top 50 entries and vote again!

August 13: We announce the top 25.

August 19: We publish the top 25 entries and vote again!

August 27th: We announce the top 10 entries!

September 2: The first 100 words and a maximum 30 word elevator pitch of the top ten entries will be posted! All TEN entries will receive a critique from a published/soon to be published author or agent.

September 8: The three winning entries will be announced.

Don't forget to follow along with the Twitter handle #GreenLightWIP

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

8 Red Light/Green Light Contest Opens Today!

Do you have a completed but unpublished MG, YA, or NA manuscript and are looking for an agent? Then do we have the contest for you!

Today, July 21 at 9AM Eastern we will open submissions. We will take the first 50 entries that follow the rules! We will reopen at 9PM Eastern for the final 50 (and take the remainder in order from the morning if we do not fill up).

July 22: We will post 100 first sentences on the main blog! YOU will vote using an imbedded survey and our judges (some combination of agents and published authors for each round) will vote using a private survey, private votes will be worth 65% of the score and public will be worth 35%. The top 50 will be asked to resubmit with a second sentence added on!

July 30: We announce the top 50 and ask for the second sentences.

August 5: We will publish the top 50 entries and vote again!

August 13: We announce the top 25.

August 19: We publish the top 25 entries and vote again!

August 27th: We announce the top 10 entries!

September 2: The first 100 words and a maximum 30 word elevator pitch of the top ten entries will be posted! All TEN entries will receive a critique from a published/soon to be published author or agent.

September 8: The three winning entries will be announced.


1. We will take the first 50 properly formatted entries beginning at 9AM Eastern (this will be judged by the time stamp on the email we open) to Subject line should consist of RLGL and your manuscript title. Then we will reopen submissions, taking the first 50 properly formatted starting at 9PM Eastern for a total of 100 entries!

2. Each entry should include your name, email, manuscript title, manuscript length, Manuscript genre/subgenre, and first sentence.

Good form, horrible example,

IDA Luv Anoffer
78,000 words
YA Magical Realism

When I saw the hot vampire I knew immediately that I was in the best book ever written.

3. Any currently unagented person may enter only once with a completed but unpublished MG, YA, or NA manuscript.

Judges: Check out this link for all the bios!

Author Judges include: Martina Boone, Sheri Larsen, Dhalia Adler, Kimberly Little, Erin Cashman, Ron Smith, Holly Bodger, Liza Wiemer, Joy Hensley, Sarah Ockler, Kim Liggett, Sara Raasch, and Lisa Gail Green.

Agent Judges include: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Sarah Negovetich, Moe Ferrar, and Saba Sulaiman, Susan Hawk, Christa Heschke, Amaryah Orenstein and Dr. Uwe Stender of Triada US.


The top ten entries (excluding the top three) will each receive a one chapter (up to 12 pages) critique from a published or soon to be published author.

The 3 grand prize winners will each receive a one chapter (up to 12 pages) critique and/or partial request by at least one participating agent. The grand prize winner will also receive a partial request from the amazing Ammi-Joan Paquette, who is currently open only to submissions via referrals.

Don't forget to follow along with the Twitter handle #GreenLightWIP

Monday, July 20, 2015

12 THREE Giveaways plus New YALIT Releases Week of 7/20 with Author Interviews

Eight new books are releasing this week, and we're giving away books to three winners: the full series of Torn by Avery Hastings, and two winners will get their hands on books by Laurie Faria Stolarz - one copy of Return to the Dark House, and the winner's choice of one of Laurie's other books.

Happy reading,

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


by Avery Hastings
Full Series Giveaway
U.S. Only

St. Martin's Griffin
Released 7/21/2015

In an America split into the genetically superior and inferior, a fiercely ambitious ballerina and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks must stop a deadly virus that is spreading quickly.

Determined to escape from TOR-N, a corrupt Narxis research center, Davis meets another recovered patient, Mercer, whose sweet smile and quirky sense of humor give her hope in humanity again—and a way out. As they make a perilous journey seeking clues that could lead to a cure, Davis and Mercer's friendship begins to evolve into something more... but she's still struggling to let go of her feelings for Cole, whom she believes is dead.

Meanwhile, Cole has plans to change his identity in order to compete in the Olympiads—where Imps have now been invited to compete against Priors. He begins training with Mari, the intense and rebellious daughter of a retired fighter, but through trials and tests that are both exhausting and exhilarating, he finds himself in over his head—literally.

Will both Davis and Cole have the strength to resist temptation? Will they have the courage to face the answers they're seeking? Will their love survive across the divide?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Torn?

I love that after all the buildup in Feuds, we finally get to see the Olympiads! I also really love that this book is not all about romance. There are some steamy scenes, but we really get to see Davis come into her own as a smart, strong woman.

Purchase Torn at Amazon
Purchase Torn at IndieBound
View Torn on Goodreads

* * * *

Return to the Dark House
by Laurie Faria Stolarz
2 Giveaways: Return to the Dark House and winner's choice. 
U.S. Only
Released 7/21/2015

Ivy Jensen survived the Dark House once, but can she make it out a second time?

Two months have passed since Ivy narrowly escaped the Nightmare Elf’s grip, but the memories of Parker, Natalie, Shayla, Frankie, and Garth continue to haunt her. Their killer is still out there—somewhere. The police trail has gone cold, though, and it’s up to Ivy to piece together the clues to find him.

When a cryptic video arrives in her inbox, Ivy soon finds herself back in the spotlight, this time on a twisted scavenger hunt through the dark, ancient halls of a long-forgotten Gothic school building. Ivy’s not alone, either. Taylor Monroe has returned to the scene. But can Taylor be trusted? Or is she another pawn in the Nightmare Elf’s deadly game?

Laurie Faria Stolarz crafts a mesmerizing thriller that will leave readers looking over their shoulders.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Return to the Dark House?

My favorite aspect of RETURN TO THE DARK HOUSE is definitely Ivy’s bravery and resilience. Here’s a character whose parents were tragically murdered several years ago. Ivy was home at the time and saw the killer’s face. Ever since, she’s feared that the killer will one day come back for her. It’s become a real source of paranoia: She thinks she sees his face while walking in town; any weird phone calls or hang-ups she receives, she thinks are from him; she’s become a regular at the police station, reporting any and all irregularities in her life. She knows she can’t go on living this way, and so instead of trying to lay her fears to rest by squelching them, she faces them head on, the result of which isn’t at all what she expected. I don’t want to give too much away, but things don’t pan out the way she expects. Despite more tragedy, Ivy picks herself up – yet again – to face her fears and do the right thing. That courage and resilience is so admirable.

Purchase Return to the Dark House at Amazon
Purchase Return to the Dark House at IndieBound
View Return to the Dark House on Goodreads


Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams: Emily C.
What We Knew by Barbara Stewart: Jackie M.
The Blind Wish & The Fire Wish by Amber Lough: Olivia J.
About a Girl by Sarah McCarry: Sarah T.


Damage Done
by Amanda Panitch
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 7/21/2015

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . .

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Damage Done?

My favorite thing so far about DAMAGE DONE is seeing all the reader responses and reactions. The book spent so long living inside my head and then in the heads of a few select others - agent, editor, etc. I find the breadth of reviews fascinating - some people might love a specific element, some people might hate it; some people were totally shocked by the twist ending, some people saw it coming from the beginning. It's a reminder that, even if this story started in my head, ultimately it's not for me. It's for the reader.

Purchase Damage Done at Amazon
Purchase Damage Done at IndieBound
View Damage Done on Goodreads


Model Misfit
by Holly Smale
Released 7/21/2015

You can make a geek a model, but you can't make her chic. More hilarity and high fashion await in the second book in the internationally bestselling Geek Girl series!

Harriet Manners is a model—but she feels even less popular and more awkward than she did when she was just a geek. So a summer modeling job in Japan sounds like the perfect vacation, even if she has to bring along her crazy grandma Bunty, and even if she might run into Nick, her gorgeous model ex-boyfriend. No one is going to ruin Harriet's fabulous Tokyo adventure—unless she accidentally ruins it herself. . . .

This sequel to Holly Smale's #1 bestselling debut novel, Geek Girl, is perfect for fans of Louise Rennison and the Princess Diaries.

Purchase Model Misfit at Amazon
Purchase Model Misfit at IndieBound
View Model Misfit on Goodreads

* * * *

Noble Warrior
by Alan Lawrence Sitomer
Released 7/21/2015

After placing teenage mixed martial arts phenom McCutcheon Daniels and his mother and sister in the Witness Relocation Program, the FBI comes to realize they have a unique asset on their hands. Recruited to help the FBI, McCutcheon finds himself hunting bad guys. But when he discovers that the notorious Priests have targeted Kaitlyn-the girl he loves and was forced to leave behind-as a way to seek revenge on the Daniels family, MD convinces the FBI to send him right into the belly of the beast: Jenkells State Penitentiary where the mob boss of Detroit is serving time. Yet in his universe where up is down, McCutcheon ends up disavowed by the government and left to rot in one of America's most notorious prisons. It's there he connects with his father and discovers the truth about his circumstances. McCutcheon, a trained urban warrior, escapes and sets out for revenge on those who betrayed him and his family.

Purchase Noble Warrior at Amazon
Purchase Noble Warrior at IndieBound
View Noble Warrior on Goodreads

* * * *

Pretending to Be Erica
by Michelle Painchaud
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 7/21/2015

We Were Liars meets Heist Society in a riveting debut!

Seventeen-year-old Violet’s entire life has revolved around one thing: becoming Erica Silverman, an heiress kidnapped at age five and never seen again. Violet’s father, the best con man in Las Vegas, has a plan, chilling in its very specific precision. Violet shares a blood type with Erica; soon, thanks to surgery and blackmail, she has the same face, body, and DNA. She knows every detail of the Silvermans’ lives, as well as the PTSD she will have to fake around them. And then, when the time is right, she “reappears”—Erica Silverman, brought home by some kind of miracle. But she is also Violet, and she has a job: Stay long enough to steal the Silverman Painting, an Old Master legendary in the Vegas crime world. Walking a razor’s edge, calculating every decision, not sure sometimes who she is or what she is doing it for, Violet is an unforgettable heroine, and Pretending to be Erica is a killer debut.

Purchase Pretending to Be Erica at Amazon
Purchase Pretending to Be Erica at IndieBound
View Pretending to Be Erica on Goodreads

* * * *

by Erica O'Rourke
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 7/21/2015

As a Walker between worlds, Del is responsible for the love of her life—and the fate of millions—in this thrilling sequel to Dissonance.

Del risked everything to save Simon, and now he’s gone, off in another world with no way for Del to find him.

She’s back at the Consort—training to be a Walker like everyone in her family. But the Free Walkers have other plans for her. This rebel group is trying to convince Del that the Consort is evil, and that her parents are unwittingly helping the Consort kill millions of people. The Free Walkers make Del the ultimate promise: if Del joins their fight, she will be reunited with Simon.

In agreeing, Del might be endangering her family. But if she doesn’t, innocent people will die, and Simon will be lost to her forever. The fate of the multiverse depends on her choice...

Purchase Resonance at Amazon
Purchase Resonance at IndieBound
View Resonance on Goodreads

* * * *

The New Order
by Chris Weitz
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 7/21/2015

They thought they were the only ones left. They were wrong.

After the unexpected revelation at the end of the first book, Donna and Jefferson are separated. Jefferson returns to NYC and tries to bring a cure to the Sickness back to the Washington Square tribe, while Donna finds herself in England, facing an unimaginable new world. Can the two reunite and prevent an even greater disaster than the Sickness?

This second book in The Young World trilogy will keep you at the edge of your seat.

Purchase The New Order at Amazon
Purchase The New Order at IndieBound
View The New Order on Goodreads

Win This Week's New Releases

Sunday, July 19, 2015

0 Best of AYAP: Ideas & Openings

Beginning a novel is difficult: often we, as writers, will get hit with a brilliantly shiny new idea that just can't wait. Then one of two things happen. Either it truly was a magical idea and the story simply pours out. Most of the time, however, we founder, sputter, and eventually the shiny new idea will be doomed to sit forever in the depths of our hard drive.

If you're in the planning stages of a new project, or you've just been hit by a shiny new idea, the posts below are for you. They're a collection of the best advice we've featured over the years aimed at making sure our story idea is ready to go, so we can see it all the way to the end.

0 Introducing: Best of Adventures in Young Adult Publishing

In a little over a month, Adventures in YA Publishing will be turning a whopping 2,000 days old. Two thousand! That's almost five and a half years spent chronicling journeys in publishing, and over two and a half thousand posts written to help writers along the way.

That's a lot of awesome, useful content! But sadly so much of it has been lost to the depths of the archive and rarely sees the light of day.

We're changing that. On the middle Sunday of the month, for the next thirteen months, we'll be highlighting the very best of the AYAP archives, freshly brought up into the light and organised especially to be useful to you on your publishing journey.

0 Sofia Quintero, author of SHOW AND PROVE, on not playing God with your characters

SHOW AND PROVE is the latest novel from Sofia Quintero, and we're delighted to have her stop by to tell us more about it.

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

The dance scenes were technically challenging because I was never a b-girl. Research alone wasn’t going to cut it, so I actually hired Rokafella to create what I called textual choreography. When we met, I described the scenes I wanted, a little bit about the characters involved and how they functioned in the overall story. She came back to me with two routines that were the foundation of the battle scenes. Then I had the task of transforming that textual choreography into compelling scenes. I wanted them to play in the readers’ minds like a movie where they can hear the music, imagine the moves, feel the energy. It was very difficult, and I’m still not sure how well I pulled it off. Readers will be the judge.

Then there were scenes that were emotionally hard to write because I didn’t have firsthand experience with what my characters were going through. Anger and amusement, those are easy for me; but amidst all the summer revelry, my four primary characters, and especially Smiles and Nike, are grappling with deep losses. They’re losing important relationships, their old sense of self, and, most of all, what’s left of their innocence. We all experience these losses, but Smiles, Nike, Cookie, and Sara are doing so in particular ways that I could only imagine. In that last conversation between Cookie and Smiles, she reveals something that surprised even me.

So I strongly disagree with the writing tip that says you should know everything you can about your characters before you start to write the story. Yes, you should know them pretty well, including key events and relationships from their past. But don’t approach character development like you’re playing God. This is particularly true when you’re writing about and for teens, who, by virtue of adolescence, are sorting and shifting multiple identities.

0 Shanna Swendson, author of REBEL MECHANICS, on using M&M's to track daily page goals

We're thrilled to have Shanna Swendson join us to share more about her latest novel REBEL MECHANICS.

Shanna, what was your inspiration for writing REBEL MECHANICS?

I really liked the idea of steampunk because I like the Victorian aesthetic and I like the sense of adventure. I wanted to write about trains and airships. At the same time, the social structure of that time period seems made for the kind of clash that's in the story. I merely amplified it by making the ruling class have actual magical powers, so that makes them even harder to rebel against.

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?

Perhaps the most difficult part to get right so that it not only made sense to me but also to my editor was the airship ride that led to assisting the bandits in a robbery (keeping it vague to not be too spoilery). There were a lot of little pieces that had to come together that took working it out, and then I rewrote it a number of times in the revision process. It was difficult finding the right mix of explanation and action so that readers could envision it without me slowing down the story too much to explain every little detail. That whole sequence is probably my favorite part of the book, but not necessarily because it was difficult. I think in a way it was difficult because I loved it so much. It was so clear in my head that it was difficult to translate it into words to give readers the same vivid images and feelings I had.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

1 Carolyn Lee Adams, author of RUTHLESS, on taking “thinking showers” when stuck

We're pleased to have Carolyn Lee Adams here to tell us more about her debut novel RUTHLESS.

Carolyn, what was your inspiration for writing RUTHLESS?

I grew up near the dumping grounds of The Green River Killer, which made a deep impression on my psyche. Serial killers are rare, but they are real, and the destruction they cause is very real indeed. A lot of people make the assumption that I enjoy serial killer fiction, be it on TV or in books, but I rarely do. Anything that takes joy in serial killers is automatically out, as is anything that flies in the face of reality. That said, I’ve arguably read way too much nonfiction about serial killers. I think I was just driven to try to understand how a human being becomes a predator.

0 Barbara Stewart, author of WHAT WE KNEW, on being happiest when writing

WHAT WE KNEW is the latest novel by Barbara Stewart, and we're thrilled to have here to chat about writing.

Barbara, 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 a pretty long one—almost sixteen years from the time I started seriously writing until my first novel, THE IN-BETWEEN, was published. I write almost every day, and in that time I wrote a ton of short stories, completed three novels, and started and put aside two more. That’s a lot of pages. But I loved writing every single one of them.

0 Amber Lough, author of THE BLIND WISH, on taking that daily step towards publication

We're excited to have Amber Lough here to tell us about THE BLIND WISH, the next book in her Jinni Wars series.

Amber, what was your inspiration for writing THE BLIND WISH?

First, I hadn’t planned to write a sequel, but once it was laid before me, I knew what to do. I wanted to find out what happened next, and how these two girls fit in their newfound worlds. I must also admit there was a bit of Biblical inspiration as well.

0 Sarah McCarry, author of ABOUT A GIRL, on doing her character's story justice

ABOUT A GIRL is the final book in the Metamorphoses trilogy, and we're delighted to have Sarah McCarry here to tell us more about it.

Sarah, what book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I love this question! About A Girl is a standalone, but readers who like it will probably also like the first two books, All Our Pretty Songs and Dirty Wings (which are about Tally's parents and grandparents, respectively). Elizabeth Hand's novels Illyria and Radiant Days also deal with mythology and art and worlds slightly different from the one we live in. Elana Arnold's Infandous is a gorgeous, gritty book that incorporates a lot of mythology. Helen Oyeyemi's Boy, Snow, Bird and Malinda Lo's Ash are both beautifully written books that put contemporary spins on old stories. Kate Scelsa's forthcoming novel Fans of the Impossible Life deals with complicated friendships, and Erica Lorraine Scheidt's Uses for Boys is another fantastic take on female friendship.

Friday, July 17, 2015

5 Living to Write by Beth Kephart

We are so thrilled to welcome National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart to the blog today. She's here to help us remember and appreciate where the inspiration and meaning of our stories comes from. Be sure to check out her newest release, One Thing Stolen, at the end.

Living to Write, A Craft of Writing Post by Beth Kephart

Sometimes life gets in the way of the stories we are telling. There’s no more pushing off the lab that’s due at school. Our little brothers have smashed our locks and are standing there, demanding. Our grandmothers aren’t well and they haven’t precisely asked, but could we forgive ourselves if we put our tremulous fiction way out ahead of a real live person’s struggling?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

1 Writing for Publication Essentials: What Goes Into a Successful Query Letter?

Finishing a manuscript and revising it until it shines is only the first step on the path to publication.
The search for what happens after that is what brings writers of all genres and age groups to Adventures in YA Publishing on Thursdays for Lisa Gail Green's interviews about what agents want in their inboxes.

But how do you connect with an agent? The right agent? How do you interest them in your manuscript? How do you boil down hundreds of pages and years of work into a message that will convey what you need an agent to know, make them eager to read your manuscript, and make them want to represent you?

Don't worry. It's not as daunting as it seems.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

3 Contest Success: Author Tara Sim and her agent, Laura Crockett of TriadaUS Literary, on the power of persistence and intrigue!

You may remember that Tara Sim's YA manuscript Timekeeper was a winner in our Pitch Plus Five contest last year. 

Well, this year Tara has some amazing news! Not only did she find a wonderful agent, but TIMEKEEPER is set to be published in Fall 2016!

To celebrate this amazing success story, we invited both Tara and her agent, the fabulous Laura Crockett of TriadaUS Literary, to share the details of Tara's path to publishing.

1. Tara, how long have you been writing?

I've been seriously writing since I was 15, when I wrote my first book. I remember composing poems to my dad when I was six, and writing the odd short story here and there, but it wasn't until I wrote my first book that I realized I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. The last 11 years have been a long exercise in craft and finding my style/voice.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

13 Five Tips for Making Any Scene in Your Novel More Tense and Interesting and a CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE Giveaway

I'm about to spill one of my worst kept writing secrets, by which I mean that I'm going to talk about why I include a lot of the kinds of scenes that  legendary agent and author Donald Maass, whose many books about writing I usually agree with in their entirety, says to leave out of a novel. What kind of scenes are those? The ones that take place in kitchens, living rooms, and cars driving back and forth. Let's call them the everyday scenes.

Now it's true that these scenes are the ones that usually are left out of successful novels--especially young adult novels. Why? Because they tend to be low-tension scenes. Scenes where people are sitting around talking and not much is happening.

But low action doesn't have to mean low tension. Novels aren't necessarily about action; they're about conflict. And conflict can occur anywhere. That's what a lot of writers overlook, and it can result in low-tension (aka boring) action scenes as well as scenes that end up being just two characters talking.

There are many valid reasons to have those everyday scenes, though. Which means it's a good thing there are easy ways to beef them up so they engage instead of disengage your reader.

Monday, July 13, 2015

11 FOUR Giveaways plus New YALIT Releases Week of 13/6 with Author Interviews

Twelve wonderful new YA novels are being released this week, perfect for your summer reading list. To make the week even sweeter, we're giving away copies of About a Girl, Ruthless, and What We Knew for U.S. readers, and Amber Lough's The Blind Wish to followers in the U.S. and Europe. Follow our Twitter and Facebook pages for the best chance to win!

Happy reading,

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

Sunday, July 12, 2015

4 What Are We Waiting For? AYAP Book Picks

Every Monday we post the upcoming books for the week. (So much awesome. So. Much. Awesome.) But there are always a few books you're particularly excited for. You know, the ones you pre-order months in advance. The ones leaving you staring at your calendar, crossing off the days until release date arrives. Today, the AYAP crew share some of the titles we are most eagerly anticipating. 

Image via Sarah Browning

0 Danielle Vega, author of SURVIVE THE NIGHT, on not giving up

SURVIVE THE NIGHT is the latest horror novel from Danielle Vega, and we're thrilled she's stopped by to tell us more about it.

Danielle, what was your inspiration for writing SURVIVE THE NIGHT?

Like my debut, THE MERCILESS, SURVIVE THE NIGHT was based on a true story. There was actually an illegal rave held in the NY subways. I didn’t go, but I found the pictures online and it looked amazing. No one died, but it occurred to me that this would be a gorgeous backdrop for something really twisted. The strobe lights, the rats, the music…the setting was just begging for a gruesome murder.

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

The first scene in this book was impossible. Casey was just getting back from rehab, where she’d been sent to deal with her addiction to pain relievers. But the thing is, she was really addicted to Shana, a magnetic bad girl she met while in the hospital for a knee injury. I had to set up Casey’s backstory, juggle about a million different relationships and make it believable that Casey would go off with Shana—all in about eight pages. It was such a tricky scene, but I think it worked out in the end.

My favorite scene to write is just a few chapters later, when Casey first hears about a rave called Survive the Night. I won’t spoil it for you, but you can expect sparklers and clown makeup and lots of romantic tension.

0 Stacey Trombley, author of NAKED, on never being afraid to experiment

We're excited to have Stacey Trombley with us to share more about her debut novel NAKED.

Stacey, what did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

I learned that I don’t need to box myself in. That main characters don’t need to be bland, or just like me. Anna is my complete opposite in many ways, yet she’s an amazingly three dimensional character. I still don’t know how I hopped into her head the way I did, that was one of my miracles. Going forward, I won’t feel afraid to write what I’m drawn to write. Sometimes it may not turn out well, and that’s ok. Getting another perspective right isn’t always easy. But never be afraid to experiment or push the envelope because if it works, it could be something magical.

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?

I did a massive R&R with my editor and a huge part of that was adding PLOT to this book. There were bits and pieces of conflict and had some tense events but what I realized (eventually) is that those events didn’t BUILD on each other. You shouldn’t be able to pick up events and move them around easily because each scene should CHANGE things in the story and with your character. Through my editor, I learned how to structure a book in a way that built up to the events, layered tension throughout the book so that the reader could see the conflict layers early on. Some books naturally come with plot but others need to be planned out. I learned the art of plotting, using a beat sheet or outline.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

1 Kris Dinnison, author of YOU AND ME AND HIM, on getting over perfectionism

We're delighted to have Kris Dinnison stop by to tell us more about her debut novel YOU AND ME AND HIM.

Kris, what was your inspiration for writing YOU AND ME AND HIM?

I had this idea about a girl who worked in a record store, and she kept talking to me and telling me more and more about herself and her life and her struggles. And I had this other idea about a love triangle that was really about the costs of screwing up in a friendship. I mashed them together and started writing the book.

0 Lynn Weingarten, author of SUICIDE NOTES FROM BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, on writing in a variety of places

SUICIDE NOTES FROM BEAUTIFUL GIRLS is the latest novel from Lynn Weingarten, and we're delighted to have her join us.

Lynn, what did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

This book taught me to better trust my instincts as a writer. And also taught me (or maybe reminded me?) that there’s a difference between when writing feels like work because it is work and when writing feeling painfully sloggy because I’m forcing myself through a chapter that should actually be a different thing entirely

What do you hope readers will take away from SUICIDE NOTES FROM BEAUTIFUL GIRLS?

I guess my main hope is that readers are entertained. I didn’t write with any kind of moral in mind, though if I had to pick one I think I’d say maybe it’s: be careful of the choices you make when you’re lonely.

0 Mark Alpert, author of THE SIX, on writing a novel full of real science

We're thrilled to have Mark Alpert join us to share more about his latest novel THE SIX.

Mark, what was your inspiration for The Six?

A few years ago I started reading about the concept of the Singularity, the hypothetical point in the future when machine intelligence is expected to leap past human intelligence. Artificial-intelligence programs have already mastered many complex skills -- consider self-driving cars, which will soon become commercially available, or the Watson program that defeated the champions of Jeopardy on television -- and it’s not too farfetched to imagine an AI so intelligent that it can reprogram itself and set its own agenda. Computer scientists are worried enough about this possibility that they’ve started to think about ways to ensure that advanced machines don’t turn against the humans who create them. Other researchers have focused on connecting humans to machines using implanted microchips that could operate artificial limbs or restore eyesight to the blind. As scientists learn more about the brain, it may someday become possible to replicate it in silicon, creating a machine that could hold a person’s intelligence after his or her body dies.

Researchers argue over how far away the Singularity is. It could be years, decades or centuries. But it occurred to me that the first generation to experience the Singularity in their lifetimes might very well be today’s teenagers. So I thought it would be appropriate (and fun!) to write a Singularity novel aimed specifically at young adults.