Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2 Free 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop Opens on Sat 2/4/17 w/ Lit Agent Kristy Hunter and Author Kelly Barson

Our February workshop will open for submissions on Saturday, February 4th at noon, EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Kelly Barson as our author mentor and Kristy Hunter as our agent mentor! (See below for Kristy's background and query preferences!)

The workshop is designed to help writers struggling to find the right opening for their novel or for those looking to perfect the all important first five pages before submitting for publication. Why the first five pages? Because if these aren't perfect, no agent, editor, or reader will continue reading to find out how great the rest of your story really is!

Why is the First Five Pages Workshop a GREAT Opportunity?

  • You are mentored by at least two traditionally-published published or agented authors for the duration of the workshop. These authors have been through the trenches and know what it takes to get a book deal, solid reviews, and sales.
  • In addition, you receive feedback from the four other workshop participants.
  • Feedback is given not just on your initial submission, but on two subsequent opportunities to revise your manuscript based on the previous feedback so that you know you've got it right!
  • The final revision will also be reviewed by a literary agent, who will also give you feedback on the pitch for your story--the one that may eventually become your query letter or cover copy.
  • The best entry from among the workshop participants will receive a critique of the full first chapter or first ten pages from the mentoring agent, which may, in some cases, lead to requests for additional material.

How It Works

Please see the complete rules before entering the workshop, but in a nutshell, we'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. (Double check the formatting - each month we have to disqualify entries because of formatting.) Click here to get the rules. I will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to the rotating team of our wonderful permanent author mentors, the final entry for each workshop participant will be critiqued by our agent mentor.

February Guest Literary Agent Mentor

Kristy Hunter joined The Knight Agency in April 2014. With a degree in Women & Gender Studies and English Literature from Vanderbilt University, Kristy moved to New York City immediately after graduation to try her hand at publishing. She completed the Columbia Publishing Course and worked in the city for several years—first at Grove/Atlantic and then at Random House Children’s Books—before deciding it was time to make the move back down south. She now takes advantage of her new surroundings by being outside as much as possible with her French bulldog, Gummi.

Kristy is currently accepting submissions from a wide variety of genres, including women’s fiction, mystery, historical romance, romance, young adult, and middle grade. Having spent significant time in the south and New York City, she particularly likes books set in these regions. She also enjoys books that feature horses, boarding schools, sisters, and sororities—to name just a few. Her favorite books include THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett, RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger, THE HUSBAND’S SECRET by Liane Moriarty, I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, and WONDER by R.J. Palacio.

February Guest Literary Author Mentor

K.A. (Kelly) Barson earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She and her husband live in Jackson, Michigan, surrounded by kids, grandkids, unruly dogs, a cat, and too many pairs of shoes. She feels most like herself when her hair is purple.

In addition to her own writing, she also teaches writing, spends every moment she can with her family, and procrastinates cleaning more than she should.

She is the author of 45 POUNDS MORE OR LESS, and CHARLOTTE CUTS IT OUT, both published by Viking Books for Young Readers.


Lydia and I were in eighth grade when we came up with our Grand Plan to go to cosmetology school and get jobs to build our clientele while we earned business degrees. Then we’d open our own salon . . .

Now Charlotte and Lydia are juniors, in a Cosmetology Arts program where they’ll get on-the-job training and college credits at the same time. The Grand Plan is right on schedule.

Which means it’s time for Step Two: Win the Winter Style Showcase, where Cos Arts and Fashion Design teams team up to dazzle the judges with their skills.

Charlotte is sure that she and Lydia have it locked up—so sure, in fact, that she makes a life-changing bet with her mother, who wants her to give up cos for college.

And that’s when things start going off the rails.

As the clock ticks down to the night of the Showcase, Charlotte has her hands full. Design divas. Models who refuse to be styled. Unexpectedly stiff competition. And then, worst of all, Lydia—her BFF and Partner in Cos—turns out to have a slightly different Grand Plan.

Like 45 Pounds (More or Less), K.A. Barson’s Charlotte Cuts it Out is a funny, relatable story set in the heart of the Midwest, just right for girls who have big dreams of their own.

Where to get a copy:

Add it on Goodreads!

So get those pages ready, we usually fill up in under a minute!

Happy writing (and revising!)


Monday, January 30, 2017

6 New Releases this week 1/30-2/05 plus Two Giveaways!

Happy Monday! This week we have giveaways for EXO and OUR OWN PRIVATE UNIVERSE and we're featuring loads of new releases. Don't forget to check out all the new releases and enter below to win.

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Michelle, Laura, Anisaa, and Kristin


* * * *

by Fonda Lee
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Scholastic Press
Released 1/31/2017

It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.

When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one . . .

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Exo?

My goal with EXO was to write an alien invasion story that was completely different from anything else I’d read or seen in YA fiction. There are plenty of aliens-conquer-earth stories out there, but I wanted to get past the arrival, invasion, and war part of the narrative and explore the idea of a world post- colonization, one in which humans have both benefited and suffered from the new world order. And I wanted to tell the story from the other side—we’ve seen plenty of plucky, brave, YA rebels who want to overthrow the system, but how about the story of someone who is in the system, who benefits from it and defends it despite all its flaws, yet is still heroic and tries to do the right thing? Could I make the reader root for someone who enforces alien rule over Earth? Could I make people ponder difficult, moral ambiguous issues while entertaining them with plenty of science fiction action? I think and hope that I succeeded, and if so, that’s my favorite thing about EXO.

Purchase Exo at Amazon
Purchase Exo at IndieBound
View Exo on Goodreads

* * * *

Our Own Private Universe
by Robin Talley
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway
U.S. Only

Harlequin Teen
Released 1/31/2017

Fifteen-year-old Aki Hunter knows she’s bisexual, but up until now she's only dated guys—and her best friend, Lori, is the only person she’s out to. When she and Lori set off on a four-week youth-group mission trip in a small Mexican town, it never crosses Aki's mind that there might be anyone in the group she’d be interested in dating. But that all goes out the window when Aki meets Christa.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Our Own Private Universe?

My favorite thing might be that OUR OWN PRIVATE UNIVERSE is a coming-of-age story featuring a romance between two girls, and that for the most part, it’s a happy story. I definitely think there’s a place for tragedy in literature, of course, and in LGBT young adult literature too ― but sometimes, especially when things are looking dark outside, it’s important to see happiness, too. And for us LGBT readers, it’s often still rare to find happy stories about our lives.

Purchase Our Own Private Universe at Amazon
Purchase Our Own Private Universe at IndieBound
View Our Own Private Universe on Goodreads


* * * *

The Careful Undressing of Love
by Corey Ann Haydu
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Released 1/31/2017

Everyone who really knows Brooklyn knows Devonairre Street girls are different. They’re the ones you shouldn’t fall in love with. The ones with the curse. The ones who can get you killed.

Lorna Ryder is a Devonairre Street girl, and for years, paying lip service to the curse has been the small price of living in a neighborhood full of memories of her father, one of the thousands killed five years earlier in the 2001 Times Square Bombing. Then her best friend’s boyfriend is killed, and suddenly a city paralyzed by dread of another terrorist attack is obsessed with Devonairre Street and the price of falling in love.

Set in an America where recent history has followed a different path.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Careful Undressing of Love?

My favorite thing about my newest novel is, honestly, how much time I spent in the world of the book and how far I pushed myself and had others push me. I think ideas can start to feel stale when you are a few books into your career, and I knew I needed something different to challenge myself. THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE was that challenge. I love the contained feeling of my other books, and the way they speak to a world I've spent time in and bits and pieces of the life I've lived. THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE isn't that kind of book. It's about things I care about, but the world is a brand new one that I had to work hard to invent and make real.

When I write about New England or our current day New York City, I am drawing on experience. When I wrote about this reimagined New York City, I had mostly simply my imagination to draw on. When you're writing a location as it exists in the real world, you don't have to ask what something looks like or how history is taught or who the mayor is or what is being sold on street corners or what is considered safe or dangerous. Those questions are already answered for you. In writing THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE, I had to answer questions I'd never considered asking before. I had to make decisions about things that are totally set in the real world. And as I made those decisions, the book shifted and curled around them.

I love how much I learned writing this book. I learned that world building and plot are bound together, they bounce off each other. The world you create starts to dictates plot and plot makes you ask more questions and get more specific about your imagined world. It was a revelation for me. I'm a writer who is happiest when she's being challenged, and this idea challenged me every step of the way. I'm so grateful.

Purchase The Careful Undressing of Love at Amazon
Purchase The Careful Undressing of Love at IndieBound
View The Careful Undressing of Love on Goodreads


* * * *

Blood of Wonderland
by Colleen Oakes
Released 1/31/2017

Dinah has been exiled from Wonderland. The vicious father she always feared has framed her for the brutal murder of her brother and turned the kingdom against her.

Now hiding in the lush and mysterious Twisted Wood with only her war steed at her side, Dinah is faced with a choice: leave Wonderland forever or stay and fight her father for the throne.

When a chance encounter with one of her father’s long-lost enemies brings Dinah more allies than she ever could have imagined, war starts to feel inevitable. But before Dinah can lead her people into combat, she must confront certain truths about her heart and her destiny—no matter how dark those truths may be.

Revolution is rising in Wonderland. Dinah’s battle has begun.

Purchase Blood of Wonderland at Amazon
Purchase Blood of Wonderland at IndieBound
View Blood of Wonderland on Goodreads

* * * *

By Your Side
by Kasie West
Released 1/31/2017

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Purchase By Your Side at Amazon
Purchase By Your Side at IndieBound
View By Your Side on Goodreads

* * * *

by Stephanie Garber
Flatiron Books
Released 1/31/2017

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Purchase Caraval at Amazon
Purchase Caraval at IndieBound
View Caraval on Goodreads

* * * *

Fire Color One
by Jenny Valentine
Philomel Books
Released 1/31/2017

A father and daughter reconnect after a life spent apart to find their mutual love of art isn’t the only thing they share in this beautifully written, heartrending story reminiscent of Big Fish.

Sixteen-year-old Iris itches constantly for the strike of a match. But when she’s caught setting one too many fires, she’s whisked away to London before she can get arrested—at least that’s the story her mother tells. Mounting debt actually drove them out of LA, and it’s greed that brings them to a home Iris doesn’t recognize, where her millionaire father—a man she’s never met—lives. Though not for much longer.

Iris’s father is dying, and her mother is determined to claim his life’s fortune, including his priceless art collection. Forced to live with him as part of an exploitive scheme, Iris soon realizes her father is far different than the man she’s been schooled to hate, and everything she thought she knew—about her father and herself—is suddenly unclear. There may be hidden beauty in Iris’s uncertain past, and future, if only she can see beyond the flames.

Beautifully written and powerfully felt, Fire Color One is a stunning tribute to fathers and daughters, and the power of connection through art.

Purchase Fire Color One at Amazon
Purchase Fire Color One at IndieBound
View Fire Color One on Goodreads

* * * *

How to Break a Boy
by Laurie Devore
Released 1/31/2017

Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do--through intimidation and manipulation.

After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change--but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won't go down without a fight--not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what's left of herself.

Purchase How to Break a Boy at Amazon
Purchase How to Break a Boy at IndieBound
View How to Break a Boy on Goodreads

* * * *

by M.A. Griffin
Chicken House
Released 1/31/2017

Fear haunts the streets of Preston's city: a girl has disappeared. Preston is drawn to investigate, exploring the city in the hunt for his missing friend. And deep in the bowels of a secret scientific institute, he discovers a sinister machine used to banish teenage criminals for their offenses.

Captured and condemned to a cavernous dimension, Preston is determined to escape. But this is no ordinary jail. Friendships will be forged and lives will be lost in a reckless battle for freedom, revenge--and revolution.

Set in a world all too similar to our own, Lifers is thrilling, pulse-pounding storytelling of the highest degree.

Purchase Lifers at Amazon
Purchase Lifers at IndieBound
View Lifers on Goodreads

* * * *

Long Way Home
by Katie McGarry
Harlequin Teen
Released 1/31/2017

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

Purchase Long Way Home at Amazon
Purchase Long Way Home at IndieBound
View Long Way Home on Goodreads

* * * *

Silver Stars
by Michael Grant
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 1/31/2017

The summer of 1943, World War II. With heavy memories of combat, Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the rest of the American army are moving on to their next target: the Italian island of Sicily.

The women won’t conquer Italy alone. They are not heroes for fighting alongside their brothers—they are soldiers. But Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the millions of brave females fighting for their country have become a symbol in the fight for equality. They will brave terrible conditions in an endless siege; they will fight to find themselves on the front lines of WWII; and they will come face-to-face with the brutality of war until they win or die.

Purchase Silver Stars at Amazon
Purchase Silver Stars at IndieBound
View Silver Stars on Goodreads

* * * *

The Dark Days Pact
by Alison Goodman
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 1/31/2017

June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen and her maid, Darby, to spend the summer season in Bristol, where Helen can sharpen her Reclaimer powers. Then the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work take hold, and his sanity begins to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are ever higher for Helen, and her decision will truly change the world…

Purchase The Dark Days Pact at Amazon
Purchase The Dark Days Pact at IndieBound
View The Dark Days Pact on Goodreads

* * * *

The Edge of Everything
by Jeff Giles
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Released 1/31/2017

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

Purchase The Edge of Everything at Amazon
Purchase The Edge of Everything at IndieBound
View The Edge of Everything on Goodreads

* * * *

Wait for Me
by Caroline Leech
Released 1/31/2017

The perfect blend of sweet romance and historical flavor, Wait for Me, from debut author Caroline Leech, brings a fresh new voice to a much-loved genre.

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

Purchase Wait for Me at Amazon
Purchase Wait for Me at IndieBound
View Wait for Me on Goodreads

Sunday, January 29, 2017

0 YA Sunday Morning News: This Week for Writers 1/29/17

Welcome to the first new installment of This Week for Writers! Follow the links below for all the big YA news that happened this week.

Writing for Publication: Before the Sale:

Writing for Publication: After the Sale:

Author Interviews:

Literary Agent News and Interviews: 

Writing and Pitch Contests: 

Writing Craft: 

Writing Inspiration: 

Publishing News & Trends:

YA Book Awards and Congratulations:

YA New Book Deals and Releases:

Just for Fun:

Happy Reading!

If I missed anything, please leave a comment!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

1 Ellen Hopkins, author of THE YOU I'VE NEVER KNOWN, on honesty being the key

We're thrilled to have Ellen Hopkins join us to share more about her latest novel THE YOU I'VE NEVER KNOWN.

Ellen, what was your inspiration for writing THE YOU I'VE NEVER KNOWN?

When my younger daughter was three years old, my ex kidnapped her out of daycare and I lost her for three years. It’s something I’ve wanted to write about, but the time had to be right, and the story had to be far enough removed from real life to allow me the perspective I needed. Reconnecting was difficult after only three years, so it struck me how hard it would be to reconnect after losing her entire childhood, into almost-adulthood.

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 hardest scenes to write were the gaslighting scenes because as someone who spent way too much time being gaslighted by a man very much like Ariel’s father, they brought back terrible memories. Still, it’s something we need to teach our children about so they can understand what’s at stake when it happens to them.

0 Jakob Wegelius, author of THE MURDERER'S APE, on not talking about ideas beforehand

We're delighted to have Jakob Wegelius here to talk with us about his latest novel THE MURDERER'S APE.

Jakob, what was your inspiration for writing THE MURDERER'S APE?

My first inspiration for writing about Sally Jones was old songs, sung by seamen long ago. These songs are adventurous, and often tell a colorful story of some unfortunate sailor’s life and travels.

How long did you work on THE MURDERER'S APE?

I started working on the book in 2008 and it was published in Sweden in 2014. But I didn’t work exclusively on The Murderer’s Ape during these years.

Friday, January 27, 2017

7 How to Keep a Productive Writing Routine During These Dark Times

Today's guest craft post is more about how to keep up with your craft when it's hard to concentrate than it is about any one particular aspect of writing,  but all the technique in the world doesn't mater if  we don't (or can't) put in the time in front of our computers actually plunking down words. Lance Rubin, the author of Denton Little’s Deathdate (winner of the ILA Young Adult Book Award) and the upcoming Denton's Little Still Not Dead, shares his survival tips for trying times.

How to Keep a Productive Writing Routine During These Dark Times

By Lance Rubin

Here’s a scenario you might relate to:

You sit down to write. But first, a quick Twitter check of the news.


You are absorbing everything you can about this new disturbing thing, trying to understand what happened, what its implications are, and what you can do to combat it. You are retweeting useful information and biting remarks and taking note of what you’re going to say to your senators and your rep when you call later in the day.

You notice the time.

It’s been forty minutes since you sat down to write and you’ve written approximately….nothing.

End scene.

Since November 9th, and, let’s be honest, even somewhat in the months before that, I have found my ability to be disciplined in my writing routine severely compromised. Never before in my life can I remember a time when so much surprising, horrifying, unbelievable news was flying off the proverbial presses. The sheer volume of it is enough to make your head spin, and if, like most YA authors I know, you’re on Twitter, you’ve got a perpetual front-row seat to this Great American Car Crash happening in real time all the time just a few clicks away on your devices.

(In the event that you feel differently about this and have been celebratory and productive since Election Night, this piece won’t be very useful. My advice to you instead is to start reading more books written by authors from the many marginalized groups that are going to suffer because of this administration.)

Speaking as someone who hadn’t mastered best life practices for interacting with social media even before all this---when the fate of our democracy wasn’t lying in the balance---I’m not sure how to proceed during this scary and uncertain time, when I often feel like it’s my civic duty to be engaging with this information.

So what do we do? We must fight, we must resist, but this will be a marathon, not a sprint, and as artists, we still need to create (especially if it’s part of how we’re making a living). I’ve been grappling with this daily, and though I’m definitely not there yet (I had a nice work rhythm going in early January, but post-Inauguration, it’s all gone to shit), here are some thoughts on what’s been most successful for me thus far. (And, goes without saying: no two writing processes are alike, so take what works for you and discard the rest.)

1. Write in 50-Minute Chunks

When presented these days with an open chunk of hours and my computer and phone, it is inevitable that I will take near-constant breaks from writing---often without even being fully aware that I’m doing it---to check email or texts or Twitter or Instagram. Work can get done this way, but the efficiency optics are pretty dismal. On an intellectual level I know that, but it’s hard to argue in those moments with the rationalizing of my brain: Your work is important, but, uh, the fate of the planet and your fellow human beings is slightly more important, don’t you think? Just do a quick check to make sure the world’s not ending in fifteen minutes.

So how to address this problem? The 50-minute writing block. Studies have shown (read: I Googled and found some random articles like this one) that, for maximum productivity, fifty minutes is the ideal chunk of time to work before taking a break. After that, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. So, on an ideal day, I’ll work through three internet-free 50-minute blocks, separated by 10-minute breaks. Before each block starts, I turn off my computer’s wi-fi. I put my phone in my bag. I check what time it is. (Some people set a timer so they don’t need to keep looking at the clock. Not me.) I take a deep breath. And I begin.


In the spirit of full candor, I should mention that I sometimes delay a few more minutes. Because nine times out of ten, I hate that moment of starting. Especially at the beginning of the day. Writing---creating of any kind---is always such a daunting leap into the unknown, no matter how many thousands of times one has sat down at a computer and gotten started. And so, apart from luring me in to check the news, my mind’s got a million other tricks to justify not starting. (For example: oh wait you should look up that information on WebMD so you can write about that illness more confidently or you forgot to respond to that person who tweeted about your book!) YOU NEED TO RESIST THAT VOICE. Because, again, even if you just left the interwebs three minutes ago, some new disturbing national thing may have just happened and now it’s going to suck you in for another forty minutes.

Eventually, I begin. The first ten minutes of the writing day are usually pretty brutal. There’s no rhythm, I feel like a bad writer, and impulses to do anything else but write are firing in all directions. But since I’ve set out this deliberate plan for myself, it wins out over any bullshit excuses my brain is coming up with. Just push through the fifty minutes. During that time, I’m allowed to sit and stare, either at my computer or around the room, but other than that, I have to be writing. (If I have to pee, that’s allowed, too, but hopefully I already did that during one of my breaks.)

By the fifteen or twenty-minute mark, I usually start thinking less about bad news and that desperate itch to check my phone. I get more deeply focused on making the thing I’m trying to make. It feels good.

And then the block ends: Hooray! Break time! I can do whatever the hell I want for ten minutes! That said, a word to the wise (and to myself): be wary of diving into the internet during your break. As we’ve already established, time moves really quickly when you’re in there; that ten-minute break will quickly balloon into a forty-minute one. That’s fine, as long as you’re mindful that it’s happening. Being caught off-guard by the Black Hole of Internet Time always feels kinda dirty.

My best breaks are the ones where I have a few simple goals to achieve: bathroom, respond to that one email, fill up my water, stretch and walk around the room, that sort of thing. Those happen less than I’d like---I’m guiltier than anyone of taking the too-long break---but it’s what I strive for, anyway.

2. Make a detailed schedule of your workday. Every day.

Along with the fifty-minute blocks, I’ve found it’s very helpful to map out a schedule for my entire workday. As writers, we have editors and agents, but on a day-to-day basis, we’re really our own boss. I spend too much time being the chill boss when I usually benefit more from being the rigid asshole boss. If your days are pretty consistent schedule-wise, you can map out the writing part and stick to it every week. As a freelancer, though---juggling my own writing, other creative collaborations, and voiceover work---every one of my weeks is a little different. If I can go into a day with a battle plan, I am not only much more productive, but I end the day with a clearer sense of having accomplished what I set out to do.

I try to be specific and realistic when I’m making this schedule. “Okay, after I drop my son off at daycare, I won’t get to the coffee shop until 9:05, so I’ll start my first block at 9:20 am, which should give me time to order food and get settled.”

The cool part is you can schedule time for your social activism, too. I’ve found that setting aside a half hour or forty-five minutes, usually overlapping at least partially with lunch, gives me time to call my reps, post some actions on Facebook, read up on Twitter, and get a sense of what’s happening. Then there are days like this past Tuesday when I went to a noon rally outside my senators’ offices. It helped to schedule the rest of my day, so I could be as productive as possible even though I was devoting a larger-than-usual chunk of time to resisting.

I know this approach might sound over-the-top and obsessive, but I’ve found it effective. It’s easy as a freelancer to get lost in a sea of time, to have hours pass where you’ve been productive but can’t remember what exactly you’ve done. Scheduling allows you to tackle each part of your day with intention and to give both writing and social action the focus they need instead of combining both into a furious, easily-distracted blur.

3. Build in a spiritual component to your day.

Once you’re mindfully scheduling your day, I would also highly encourage you to set aside time for a spiritual component. The news is an unsettling shitstorm; it’s easy to find yourself in that horrendous mental space all day, which isn’t beneficial to anyone. If you want to be your most productive self on a weekly basis, you should try to take at least a little time to connect directly to the present moment, to your heart, to your loved ones, to what’s in front of and around you right now.

In December, I returned to meditating after not doing it for three years. It’s been grounding. You could also: Take a walk. Go for a run. Sit outside somewhere. Listen to a spiritual-minded podcast. Read a book that will open your heart and mind. Re-read a book that has opened your heart and mind in the past. Hang out with your dog. Your cat. Your hamster. Spend quality phone-free time with your partner. Your kids. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a couple months. Call your parents.

Even in these atrocious times, there is still so much beauty. Don’t deprive yourself of that. It’s going to make you that much better equipped to write and to resist.

And in sticking to a daily routine that allows you to access the best of yourself, you won’t deprive us of all the awesome art you’re going to make. 

About the Author

Lance Rubin is the author of Denton Little’s Deathdate and the sequel coming out February of 2017.

He’s worked as an actor and written sketch comedy, including successful runs of The Lance and Ray Show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City. He’s also co-written a new musical called Broadway Bounty Hunter. Lance lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. He is very glad he doesn’t know his deathdate. You can follow him online at LanceRubin.com and on Twitter @LanceRubinParty.

About the Book

Denton Little's Still Not Dead
by Lance Rubin
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, February 7, 2017 

You only live once—unless you’re Denton Little!
The good news: Denton Little has lived through his deathdate. Yay! The bad news: He’s being chased by the DIA (Death Investigation Agency), he can never see his family again, and he may now die any time. Huh. Cheating death isn’t quite as awesome as Denton would have thought…

Lance Rubin’s debut novel, Denton Little’s Deathdate, showed readers just how funny and poignant imminent death could be. Now in this sequel, he takes on the big questions about life. How do we cope, knowing we could die at any time? Would you save someone from dying even if they were a horrible person? Is it wrong to kiss the girl your best friend is crushing on if she’s really into you instead? What if she’s wearing bacon lip gloss?

0 Congratulations to the 1st 5 Pages Participants and the Workshop Winner!

Congratulations to all of the participants who worked so hard during our January 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop! You can check out their wonderful pages here - including the winning entry! Congratulations Samantha!

And a big thanks to our wonderful guest mentors, Shea Berkley as our author mentor, and Lauren Spieller as our agent mentor. They both provided terrific critiques. And as always, thank you to our talented and fabulous permanent mentors, who read, comment, and cheer on our participants every month!

Speaking of our mentors, we have exciting mentor news! Our lovely mentor, the talented Brenda Drake, is now a New York Times Bestselling author! Congratulations, Brenda! I adored her YA fantasy, THIEF OF LIES, and I can’t wait for the sequel,GUARDIAN OF SECRETS, which comes out on February 7th! (But is available for pre-order!!) I really can't wait for February 7th because that's also when RETURNED, the final book in the fabulous FORBIDDEN series, comes out - written by our wonderful mentor, Kimberley Griffiths Little. (RETURNED is also available for pre-order!)

Our February workshop will open for entries on Saturday, February 4th at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. (Double check the formatting - each month we have to disqualify entries because of formatting.) Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Kelly Barson as our author mentor, and Kristy Hunter as our agent mentor! So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

2 Upcoming Contest--Mark Your Calendars!

On March 9th, we'll be kicking off this year's first contest on AYAP. If you're a new follower, we host a contest called Red Light/Green Light. It provides writers with an opportunity to showcase their opening pages and win valuable feedback from agents or authors. 

In the weeks leading up to Red Light/Green Light, you'll want to check back here every Thursday, as we use the time to provide our potential contestants with great advice on how to perfect their openings, as well as interview our contest judge.

Curious as to how Red Light/Green Light works? Here's a breakdown of the contest's schedule.

Round One: Fantastic Firsts
In our opening round of RL/GL, your first line will go head to head with other writers' firsts.

Round Two: Tell Me More
First lines that progress to round two are expanded to full first paragraphs, allowing you a bit more space to really intrigue our contest judge.

Round Three: Query Me, Please
In our third round, your queries are given the opportunity to shine.

Round Four: Page Turners
In RL/GL's final round, full first pages are displayed, giving competitors the opportunity to leave our judge wanting more. Whoever's opening proves irresistible will be our winner!

Later this spring, we'll also host a Critique Partner Match Up here, followed by more events in summer and fall, so bookmark Adventures in YA Publishing for help along your road to publication--there's plenty you won't want to miss!