Saturday, September 30, 2017

0 Jared Reck, author of A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, on pretending like you’re a real-live writer

We're excited to have Jared Reck swing by to chat about his debut novel, A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.

Jared, what was your inspiration for writing A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR?

I wish I could say that SHORT HISTORY came from some big idea, but it didn’t. It really just started with a character.

I teach 8th grade ELA, which I run as a Writing Workshop, and every year we do a pretty in-depth unit on fiction writing. We always start the process by developing a believable main character using a simple questionnaire—about twenty questions answered in the voice of that character, almost like you’re sitting down across the table from your character and recording whatever he or she says to you. (I still start all my stories this way, with about 20-30 pages of character responses before I ever try writing the first chapter.)

About seven or eight years ago, I’d finished my first short story with my students—a 30-page story about a dweeby 8th-grade orchestra member sitting in in-school suspension—and I loved how it turned out. So when I sat down and started a new character with my students the next year, I ended up loving this kid even more: he was funny, and self-deprecating, and stuck inside his own head all the time, and he lived and breathed basketball. He was Matt.

So before I ever knew where I was going with the story—before I knew I’d even attempt to turn it into a novel—I had this character, this voice, that I loved. (I’m still not sure I ever figured out plot.)

0 Joshua David Bellin, author of FREEFALL, on satirical elements, over-the-top wordplay, and some serious stuff, too

We're delighted to have Joshua David Bellin stop by to share more about his latest novel, FREEFALL.

Joshua, what was your inspiration for writing FREEFALL?

I read a lot of space operas when I was a kid—as well as totally geeking out over movies like STAR WARS—and the idea of writing a YA novel that was part outer space adventure and part romance really appealed to me. Since finishing FREEFALL, I’ve read many great YA books in that vein—including Philip Reeve’s RAILHEAD, Fonda Lee’s ZEROBOXER, AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller’s SHADOW RUN, and Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s ILLUMINAE—and I hope readers who love books like these will love FREEFALL as well!

1 Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop Opens in 1 Week!

Our October workshop will open for submissions on Saturday, October 7th at noon, EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Amy Dominy as our author mentor and Kaitlyn Johnson of Corvisiero Literary Agency as our agent mentor! (See below for Kaitlyn'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. We will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman, @MelissWritesNow, @charlotteclg ), 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.

October Guest Literary Agent Mentor : Kaitlyn Johnson

After receiving a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, Kaitlyn refused to leave the concept of nightly homework behind. Centering her life around everything literary, she started her own freelance editing company, K. Johnson Editorial, as soon as her diploma arrived in the mail.

Kaitlyn is proud to be an apprentice agent with Corvisiero Literary Agency, as well as the Muse and the Marketplace Conference Assistant for GrubStreet, Boston. Check Twitter, @kaitylynne13, for #mswl listings and writerly life thoughts.

​- YA, NA, and A are her main interests. She mostly drools for fantasy (yes, that very much includes urban!), time travel, select dystopian, romance (with erotic elements is OK), and historical fiction if it is anything other than Henry VIII.
- Contemporary can grab her attention only if the concept is unique enough and executed well. Overplayed tropes/characters make her cringe. Same goes for upper MG.
- LGBT (as well as characters questioning their sexuality) welcome in all genres accepted above.

When querying, please follow submission guidelines.

October Guest Literary Author Mentor: Amy Dominy 



Amy Dominy is an advertising copywriter turned playwright turned novelist. Her books for teens and tweens include DIE FOR YOUA MATTER OF HEART; AUDITION & SUBTRACTION; and OyMG, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book.

Amy's first picture book, COOKIESAURUS REX, co-written by Nate Evans, is coming from Disney on September 26th. It's going to be sweet! :)

Amy lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her hubby and two children who come home for school breaks and free meals.





About DIE FOR YOU: 


Theirs was the perfect love story. After Emma Lorde’s parents’ divorce forces her to move halfway across the state of Arizona to live with her father, Emma must face her senior year in a new school knowing absolutely no one.

Then she meets Dillon Hobbs, and something just clicks.

Dillon introduces Emma to friends she can call her own. He provides a refuge from the chaos of her past, and the security of a commitment that he promises will last forever. And because circumstances of her messy life forced Emma to put aside her dream of pursuing archaeology, Dillon creates a blueprint for a future together.

He saves her, over and over, by loving her more than she thought anyone ever would.

But just when everything seems picture-perfect, Emma is offered an opportunity that will upend the future they’ve planned. Uncertainty grows, and fear spirals into something darker.

Now Dillon is the one who needs saving.

But how much do you sacrifice for the one you love? What if saving Dillon means losing herself?

Where to Buy:


Don't Forget to Add It on GOODREADS

Monday, September 25, 2017

6 New Releases this week 09/25-10/01 plus 2 Giveaways

Happy Monday! We have a few wonderful line up of giveaways of FREEFALL and THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS. Make sure to enter to win below, and check out all the other awesome books being released this week!

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Kelly, Laura, Emily, Anisaa, and Lori Ann


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


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Freefall
by Joshua David Bellin
Signed Hardcover Giveaway (2 Copies)
U.S. Only

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released 9/26/2017

The fate of the human race hangs on the actions of two teens from very different backgrounds in this thrilling sci-fi adventure.

In the Upperworld, the privileged 1% are getting ready to abandon a devastated planet Earth. And Cam can’t wait to leave. After sleeping through a 1,000-year journey, he and his friends will have a pristine new planet to colonize. And no more worries about the Lowerworld and its 99% of rejects.

Then Cam sees a banned video feed of protesters in the Lowerworld who also want a chance at a new life. And he sees a girl with golden eyes who seems to be gazing straight through the feed directly at him. A girl he has to find. Sofie.

When Cam finds Sofie, she opens his eyes to the unfairness of what’s happening in their world, and Cam joins her cause for Lowerworld rights. He also falls hard for Sofie. But Sofie has her own battles to fight, and when it’s time to board the spaceships, Cam is alone.

Waking up 1,000 years in the future, Cam discovers that he and his shipmates are far off-course, trapped on an unknown and hostile planet. Who has sabotaged their ship? And does it have anything to do with Sofie, and the choices—and the enemies—he made in the past?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Freefall?

I really love my central duo, Cam and Sofie. They’re very different teens—he’s a member of the world’s elite, she’s a revolutionary prophet from the world’s underclass—but they learn to respect each other and to work together. There’s serious romantic tension between them, but there’s also an incredibly difficult problem that affects all the world’s people—that of deep-space colonization—and the clock is ticking for the two of them to resolve it. So their story has both deeply personal and literally global consequences.

Another thing I like about the two is that they solve most of their problems with their voices, their hearts, and their minds, not with their feet or their fists. Many YA protagonists are of the “kick-butt” variety, but I made a conscious decision in FREEFALL to go in another direction. Sofie’s a brilliant strategist and a persuasive orator, while Cam’s got a degree of empathy and compassion for others unusual for someone of his privileged class, and it’s these qualities, not crazy ninja fighting skills, that lend the two their power.


Purchase Freefall at Amazon
Purchase Freefall at IndieBound
View Freefall on Goodreads



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The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
by Leigh Bardugo
Hardcover Giveaway
Imprint
Released 9/26/2017

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

Purchase The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic at Amazon
Purchase The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic at IndieBound
View The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS


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Book of Shadows by M. Verano: Fay T.
Kaleidoscope Song by Fox Benwell: April B.
Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George (swag pack): Arlinda S.
The Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes: Laura D.

MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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A Short History of the Girl Next Door
by Jared Reck
Hardcover
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 9/26/2017

The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.

Humorous and heart-wrenching, A Short History of the Girl Next Door is perfect for readers who fell in love with All the Bright Places' Finch or Stargirl’s Leo.

Purchase A Short History of the Girl Next Door at Amazon
Purchase A Short History of the Girl Next Door at IndieBound
View A Short History of the Girl Next Door on Goodreads

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An Enchantment of Ravens
by Margaret Rogerson
Hardcover
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released 9/26/2017

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Purchase An Enchantment of Ravens at Amazon
Purchase An Enchantment of Ravens at IndieBound
View An Enchantment of Ravens on Goodreads

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Disappeared
by Francisco X. Stork
Hardcover
Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 9/26/2017

Four Months Ago
Sara Zapata's best friend disappeared, kidnapped by the web of criminals who terrorize Juarez.

Four Hours Ago
Sara received a death threat - and with it, a clue to the place where her friend is locked away.

Four Weeks Ago
Emiliano Zapata fell in love with Perla Rubi, who will never be his so long as he's poor.

Four Minutes Ago
Emiliano got the chance to make more money than he ever dreamed - just by joining the web.

In the next four days, Sara and Emiliano will each face impossible choices, between life and justice, friends and family, truth and love. But when the web closes in on Sara, only one path remains for the siblings: the way across the desert to the United States.

Purchase Disappeared at Amazon
Purchase Disappeared at IndieBound
View Disappeared on Goodreads

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Invictus
by Ryan Graudin
Hardcover
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 9/26/2017

Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.

Purchase Invictus at Amazon
Purchase Invictus at IndieBound
View Invictus on Goodreads

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The Dark Assassin
by Joseph Delaney
Hardcover
Greenwillow Books
Released 9/26/2017

The third chilling installment in the new Spook's legend ...An assassin lurks in the darkness between earth and oblivion - but who are they, and what is their mission? The people of the County live in fear of the beasts bent on bringing the war to their home. How can they possibly hope to survive when their fearsome enemies are fortified with the power of a god? Could the creature that moves in the darkness be the savior the County seeks?

Purchase The Dark Assassin at Amazon
Purchase The Dark Assassin at IndieBound
View The Dark Assassin on Goodreads

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There's Someone Inside Your House
by Stephanie Perkins
Hardcover
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Released 9/26/2017

Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

Purchase There's Someone Inside Your House at Amazon
Purchase There's Someone Inside Your House at IndieBound
View There's Someone Inside Your House on Goodreads


Sunday, September 24, 2017

0 YA Sunday Morning News: This Week for Writers 9/24/17

Hey there, writers! 

I hope you have your favorite hot beverage ready, because it's time for your Sunday Morning News! Sadly, this is my last post sharing all the latest links with you, but I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. 

Happy reading...and writing!


Writing for Publication—Queries and Submissions:

Writing for Publication—Book Marketing and Social Media:

Author Interviews:

Adventures in YA Publishing Author Interviews:

Literary Agent News and Interviews:


Writing Craft:

Writing Inspiration:

YA Book to Screen Adaptation News:

New YA E-Book Deals:

New YA Book Giveaways:


YA New Book Deals and Releases:


Saturday, September 23, 2017

0 Kelly Jones, author of MURDER, MAGIC, AND WHAT WE WORE, on going back to the drawing board

We're excited to have Kelly Jones stop by to talk to us about her latest novel, MURDER, MAGIC, AND WHAT WE WORE.

Kelly, how long did you work on MURDER, MAGIC, AND WHAT WE WORE?

Long ago in 2005, I started writing a book called Glamour. I wrote about eighteen drafts, finished it in 2010, and queried agents. No one was interested, so I shelved it.

But when I needed ideas to pitch to the editor of my debut novel, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, I still loved the characters and ideas behind Glamour, so I included it. And my editor asked to see a full pitch for that idea.

I quickly discovered that I couldn’t just edit the original book. I could see now that it didn’t just need a touch-up, it needed a major overhaul. So, I set the early version aside, and haven’t looked at it since. Instead, I took what I knew about the characters, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, and I rewrote the entire book from scratch. Many drafts later, it became Murder, Magic, and What We Wore, which I finished in 2017.

0 McKelle George, author of SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE, on knowing a project was THE ONE

We are delighted to have McKelle George swing by to chat about her debut novel, SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE.

McKelle, what was your inspiration for writing SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE?

I hated Shakespeare when I was a teen, but when I was in college, I was required to take a Shakespeare course if I wanted to do a study abroad in the UK. I had a really great professor who emphasized the various ways Shakespeare can be interpreted . . . and then when I went to the UK, I got splattered with stage blood from the RSC production of Titus Andronicus and had Sebastian wring out his codpiece right by my head at a Globe production of The Tempest. We saw about seven plays and I was in love—both with the source material, but also the way people were experimenting with it.

Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespeare play, and was the only one I liked even when I hated Shakespeare. It’s a sneakily feminist play, and I wanted to set it in the 1920s because it’s such a uniquely feminist time.

0 Jennifer Mathieu, author of MOXIE, on spreading the message of gender equality to young women and men

We're pleased to have Jennifer Mathieu with us to talk about her new novel, MOXIE.

Jennifer, 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?

Without giving too much away, there are two scenes in particular that were the hardest but the most fun to write, and both involved having a large number of girls meeting up to be together and find strength in one another. They were really joyful, exuberant scenes and I kept thinking about how much I would have loved to have read them when I was 16. Other tricky scenes were the scenes between Vivian and her mom. I wanted to get that relationship just right. It's a good relationship, but it's going through some growing pains in this book.

Friday, September 22, 2017

0 Thank You to the Participants and Mentors of the 1st 5 Pages Workshop!

Congratulations to all of the participants who worked so hard during our September 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop! And a big thanks to our wonderful guest mentors, Kate Brauning as our author mentor and Lauren Spieller of the Triada US Literary Agency as our agent mentor! And as always, thank you to our talented and fabulous permanent mentors, who read, comment, and cheer on our participants every month!

Our October workshop will open for entries on Saturday, October 7th at noon, EST. 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. We will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman, @MelissWritesNow), 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.

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

Happy writing - and revising!

Erin

About the Author:

Erin Cashman is AYAP's 1st 5 Pages Workshop coordinator, and a permanent mentor. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three kids, and an energetic rescue dog. She writes YA fantasy. UNCHARTED is coming fall of 2018, and THE EXCEPTIONALS, a Bank Street College of Education best book of the year, is available now. For up to date information about the workshop, you can follow Erin on twitter here

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

0 WoW: Writers and Rabbit Holes by Shelley Sackier

Today, we're thrilled to welcome Shelley Sackier, author of THE FREEMASON'S DAUGHTER, with a great post on nurturing your imagination during the writing process. Stay tuned for more about Shelley and her book after the post, but right now, check out this special guest post!

Rabbit Holes: Some Call it Daydreaming, Writers Call it Work

Aristotle argued that all objects craved their “natural place,”—the geocentric center of the universe. That would be Earth. Okay, well at the time Aristotle was sucking in air Earth was considered the be all end all.

And maybe yes, there exists a few folks who still believe this and are lagging a bit behind with their history homework, not having quite caught up to where the rest of us live—aka more than two thousand years in the future. And within the world of fairly trustworthy science.

Although, to be fair, the science we all believed one hundred—or even one thousand years ago was believed to be trustworthy too.

Until it wasn’t.

Regardless, it was explained to me that ‘Aristotle believed that a dropped rock fell to the earth because rocks belonged on earth and wanted to be there.’

This is from a book currently resting on my bedside table: But What If We’re Wrong? By Chuck Klosterman.

Often, I liken myself to Aristotle’s rock. I belong at my desk, in front of my screen, with my hands hovering over my keyboard, and my eyes effortfully scanning words across a page.

Except thankfully, there are other forces of nature at play (read friends and family) that repeatedly fight Aristotle’s idea of gravity where I am concerned, shoving me out into the world where people and ideas are in mix and at play.

I am not at all a fan of going places where you have to make eye contact with others, or exchange words that add up to more than those in a haiku, or share the same oxygen molecules. This behavior comes about just before birth when whichever deity is creating your personality profile decides you’ll be a professional recluse and switches on the genetic codes for artless, awkward, blundering bore.

But ultimately these opportunities are the catalyst that make the question WHAT IF burble up from the basement of my brain. And that is not an altogether unpleasant feeling.

It starts like indigestion but then belches out with measurable relief.

Yes, regularly I collect data to support the theory that I should simply stay home and away from crowds (read anyplace another person is already occupying), but more often than not, I am wide-eyed with surprise to discover the hidden gems of history, or art, or that people have moved on from wearing elastic waist pants and eyeglass ropes.

Except no. Turtlenecks are here to stay, dammit. (And the earth is the center of the universe! Yeah, yeah, I hear you.)

The WHAT IF question is one I have pinned up on my computer screen. It is the foundation for creative thinking. And creative thinking is the foundation for creative writing. And creative writing is the foundation for paying your bills—as people will not buy books that scream, “I’m exactly like that story you just read yesterday only my characters are Latvian!”

Yeah, not gonna fly.

But how many of us practice asking WHAT IF (insert head scratching query here) in real life? Chuck Klosterman did because he had to write a book where he asked a pile of crackerjack thinkers questions about their level of confidence on subjects like physics, and time, and whether AOL would ever come back into fashion.

And I do it because the thought of copying someone else’s ideas and simply giving them a limp and an accent is about as creatively appealing to my brain as separating all of the lint from my dryer into individual color piles.

Also because I enjoy electricity and food. Again … near carbon copies of other people’s tales do not equate to financial security. And more often than not a lawsuit.

But in real life? I’m not terribly sure I engage in this examination. Not nearly often enough anyway.

And maybe not at all ever—but that would be wholly embarrassing to admit on a public platform so let’s all pretend I didn’t, okey dokey?

This is not some sort of mid-life crisis desperate attempt to fill ever widening, fathomless gaps in my life, but rather just an everyday exercise of whim and whimsy. And okay, maybe a touch of the age thing, but hush—just follow me here.

It’s a fairly effortless task in my working realm, as the sky is the limit ergo, nothing is absurd. I can confidently lean back in my chair and ponder the impossible:

WHAT IF my main character quit his job, won the lottery, or discovered he had cancer?

WHAT IF my guy slowly starts to disappear, or can now communicate with polar bears, or wakes up with knees that can bend fully backward?

WHAT IF he can think himself anywhere, or program the earth to stop spinning, or activate himself to become any element in the periodic table?

WHAT IF every fictional character ever written about comes alive? WHAT IF we discover that our laws of physics only work this way on earth because we’re stuck on some default setting of one on a scale of ten and the answer has been printed on the last page of every IKEA instruction booklet?

Yeah … rabbit holes.

But I rarely spend time going into that warren when I and my life are the subjects for consideration. And it might be fun—if not a little necessary at times.

We’re all full of certitudes in life. We’re sure our political view is wide enough, confident we think with deep consideration, positive we’re slightly above average—at least in comparison to the other yahoos we find ourselves surrounded by.

But what if we’re wrong?

What if I’m not really meant to be Aristotle’s rock?

What if I’m meant to be Aristotle?

If we’re all going to be proven wrong one hundred or one thousand years from now, where’s the risk, right?

Think the absurd. Be the absurd. Do the absurd. Accomplish the unthinkable.


Physician, heal thyself? How about writer, imagine thyself.


ABOUT Shelley Sackier
Shelley Sackier grew up in a small farming community in Northern Wisconsin continually searching for ways to grow warm. Her first novel, DEAR OPL, is a tale about an overweight, snarky thirteen-year-old, who suffers from loss everywhere in her life except on her body. She pens a weekly humor blog with illustrator Robin Gott at PeakPerspective.com. You can also find her on Twitter @ShelleySackier and at Goodreads.


ABOUT THE FREEMASON'S DAUGHTER

Saying good-bye to Scotland is the hardest thing that Jenna MacDuff has had to do—until she met Lord Pembroke. Jenna’s small clan has risked their lives traveling the countryside as masons, secretly drumming up support and arms at every stop for the exiled King James Stuart so that he may retake the British throne. But their next job brings them into enemy territory: England.

Jenna’s father repeatedly warns her to trust no one, but when the Duke of Keswick hires the clan to build a garrison on his estate, it seems she cannot hide her capable mind from the duke’s inquisitive son, Lord Alex Pembroke—nor mask her growing attraction to him.

But there’s a covert plan behind the building of the garrison--a secret that cannot be revealed. Will Jenna hide her family’s mutinous plot and assist her clan’s cause, or protect the life of the young noble she’s falling for?

In Shelley Sackier’s lush, vivid historical debut, someone will pay a deadly price no matter what Jenna chooses.
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

0 Fox Benwell, author of KALEIDOSCOPE SONG, on writing what matters to you

We've had so many amazing authors provide interviews lately that we're spreading them out to Tuesdays and Thursdays rather than overwhelming our readers with writing wisdom on Saturdays.

We are thrilled to have Fox Benwell here to share more about his latest novel, KALEIDOSCOPE SONG.

Fox, what was your inspiration for writing KALEIDOSCOPE SONG?

It’s getting much, much better (this book took FOREVER to write) but, a lack of queer fiction on my shelves was a definite influencing factor. When I started writing Kaleidoscope Song, the way I identified aligned more closely with Neo, and a lot of the community/ first time experience stuff (although, not the location, there >_>) is familiar.

Music, too. Music is everything in this book. It colours the way Neo sees the world. If you want to feel what she feels, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out some of the music mentioned in the book.

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

I think I’m most proud of the final scenes. But weirdly, I knew exactly how they’d go, right from the start. I added a little, but they’re pretty much the same as they were in the first draft.

As for hard to write…there’s some really tough grief stuff in there which I wrote while dealing with big personal loss myself. Writing probably helped, but those hurt so much to write that I’m not sure I could read them now.

What do you hope readers will take away from KALEIDOSCOPE SONG?

That friends, community, and being yourself are all possibilities. That standing up for those things is absolutely worth doing. But also that we’re not all, always, in a position where it’s safe to do so.

And I hope – as largely Western readers – that they extrapolate, because this doesn’t just apply in other places. Plenty of marginalised folks are at risk right on your doorstep every single day. Especially in today’s climate: surviving – thriving – is a political act in and of itself.

I hope that anyone suffering will find community that they can turn to. And that anyone who can, might use their voice for good.

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?

Honestly, no. While there might be a key to writing one particular novel, I don’t think there is a key to writing a novel in the wider sense: books, like their authors, are incredibly different. And sometimes kind of temperamental. You have to figure them out as you go. Which is comforting, in a sense, because when things aren’t working it’s not necessarily you, you just haven’t nailed this particular project yet. But it can be hella frustrating when you don’t know how to make it work.

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

When I can, I like the familiarity of having my books to hand, and working at my grandad’s old desk, with the visual reminder of a wall of post-its, full of plot points and phrases and imagery that I want to use. But – out of necessity – I’ll work anywhere. I focus better when I’m comfortable; give me a big comfy chair and a supply of coffee and I’m good for hours. And music. Always music – each book has its own playlist to reflect the world I’m writing. It was a particularly big part of Kaleidoscope Song, because music is so important to the protagonist, too. You can find the full playlist and crib notes at the back of the book.

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

Write your story. Not a carbon copy of your experiences, necessarily, but what matters to you. You’ll want to spend time with the story, and that’ll show; readers will be much more likely to want to join you. And besides, books take a LOT of hours to make: do you really want to work on something that you hate for all that time?

And hey, marginalised writers especially, keep at it. My shelves need you. <3

What are you working on now?

Several things. Life’s been a bit tumultuous, so I’ve been switching back and forth to fit with where my brain’s at, and now I love them all so much that I’m juggling a few. All of them centre queer, trans and disabled characters as glorious everyday heroes.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kaleidoscope Song
by Fox Benwell
Hardcover
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 9/19/2017

South Africa is loud. Listen. Do you hear the song and dance of it? The chorus of Khayelitsha life? Every voice is different, its pitch and tone and intonation as distinct as the words we choose and how we wrap our mouths around them. But everybody has a voice, and everybody sings…

Fifteen year old Neo loves music, it punctuates her life and shapes the way she views the world. A life in radio is all she’s ever wanted.
When Umzi Radio broadcasts live in a nearby bar Neo can’t resist. She sneaks out to see them, and she falls in love, with music, and the night, but also with a girl: Tale has a voice like coffee poured into a bright steel mug, and she commands the stage.

It isn’t normal. Isn’t right. Neo knows that she’s supposed to go to school and get a real job and find a nice young boy to settle down with. It’s written everywhere – in childhood games, and playground questions, in the textbooks, in her parents’ faces. But Tale and music are underneath her skin, and try as she might, she can’t stop thinking about them.

Purchase Kaleidoscope Song at Amazon
Purchase Kaleidoscope Song at IndieBound
View Kaleidoscope Song on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fox Benwell is a perpetual student of the world, a writer, adventurer, and wannabe-knight, who holds degrees in international education and writing for young people, and believes in the power of both to change the world. When he’s not writing or teaching, he sings barbershop with The Great Western Chorus; music is pretty good at changing the world, too.
He is the author of the critically acclaimed The Last Leaves Falling, and Kaleidoscope Song.

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Have you had a chance to read KALEIDOSCOPE SONG yet? Have you used your writing to speak up and reach out to others? Have you read something that allowed you to connect and find your community? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann