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Amie here first: Today we have a guest post from the lovely Karen Akins, whose new book, Twist is out on April 7th! It’s the sequel to Loop, and today she’s talking to us about the journey from her series start to finish, and the changes along the way.
When Amie invited me to contribute this guest post, my first question was, “Is there a particular topic you’d like me to write about?” She said it could be anything publishing-related…maybe the challenges of writing time travel.
Which makes sense. The first book in my time travel duology, LOOP is already out in the world, and its sequel TWIST releases on April 7th. I began writing LOOP in 2010. It’s 2015. That’s five years of writing time travel.
That’s a lot of time travel.
Please don’t get me wrong. I love the subject. If Marty McFly pulled up outside in the DeLorean right now, I’d nab those keys and take off without blinking an eye.
But…I finished my final polishes on TWIST several months ago. I wrote it over a year ago. I started writing LOOP half a decade ago. Talking about the process of writing time travel feels a bit like time traveling in and of itself.
Instead, I thought I’d write about my here and now.
And my here and now can be summed up in a single word: Change. One might say I’m in a state of high flux capacity. (I know…terrible.)
Change is common in the publishing industry. I’ve witnessed a lot of it since I sold LOOP and TWIST. Some of it is in a writer’s control. Most of it isn’t.
Editors move. Release dates get bumped. Covers are switched. Hot trends die. Dead trends rise from the coffin like sparkly vampires.
Which is where I am right now. My active, creative role in the life of my series is finished. Like it or not, it’s change time.
As a writer (and as a human being), I have two choices before me. Change, whether it’s the result of an unexpected occurrence or the natural course of things, demands one of two responses. You can fight it. Or you can roll with it.
One of my good friends was at a writerly crossroads not too long ago. We’ve been crit partners for several years. When we met, she was already agented and wrote gritty contemporary YA. She had undeniable talent, but for whatever reasons (timing, the market, a butterfly pooping over the Atlantic…it’s publishing, who knows?) her stories hadn’t sold.
She was faced with a moment that required change, and she didn’t fight it. Or hide under her fuzzy green blanket and eat a copious amount of Cadbury crème eggs (oh, wait—that’s me). No. She rolled with it.
She wrote something completely new and completely different. And, you guys, it is magical. If you don’t know Evelyn Skye yet, don’t worry. You will. (Click for a bigger version.)
Was it easy? No. Change is rarely easy. Or pain-free. But I think she’d be the first to say it was worth it.
So here I am at this new old place. My release date is so close I could smack it. A strange mix of emotions swirls around in me. Excitement, fear, pride, doubt, joy, nostalgia. It’s very loud in my head.
But when I stop trying to fight it, when I roll with it, that’s when everything quiets down. Only then can I hear a new character speak to me. Her voice is fun. Her story is unlike anything I’ve written before. I think it might be a story worth sharing.
I sit down.
And I write.
How about you guys? What points have you hit in your writing journey when change was necessary?
Karen Akins writes humorous, light sci-fi for young adults and the young in spirit. When not writing or reading, she loves lightsaber dueling with her two sons and forcing her husband to watch BBC shows with her. You can keep up with her at karenakins.com or on twitter.
Why did the US State Department sponsor international dance tours during the Cold War? An official government narrative was sanctioned and framed by the US State Department and its partner organization, the United States Information Agency (USIA—and USIS abroad). However, the tours countered that narrative.
It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Anne Bustard today, in celebration of the release of her new Middle Grade book, which comes out today. Anne, a part of Egmont’s Last List, has graciously agreed to indulge my questions about her writing process with her brilliant answers. So without further ado, welcome, Anne!
Set in 1960 Hawaii, Anywhere But Paradise is the story of reluctant seventh-grade newcomer Peggy Sue Bennett, who is baffled by local customs, worried about her quarantined cat and targeted by a school bully because she is haole, white. At first, Peggy Sue would rather be anywhere—anywhere but paradise. But a new friend, hula lessons, the beauty of the islands and more, help Peggy Sue find her way. This is a story about fear and guilt. About hope and home. About aloha, love.
I’ve read that Anywhere But Paradise was inspired by your growing up in Hawaii. Can you tell us more about that? Did you do a lot of research on Hawaii in 1960 or mostly rely on your personal experiences?
I was born in Honolulu, moved away when I was a toddler and returned to paradise after fifth grade. I have wonderful memories of hiking to waterfalls with my cousins, aunt and uncle, eating lilikoi (passion fruit) shave ice on the bench outside the Matsumoto storefront on the North Shore, stringing lei from plumeria flowers from our yard and listening to the ocean.
I did not live in the islands in 1960. But even if I had, research would still have been a gigantic part of my process. I couldn’t have written the story without delving deeper and double-triple checking details. I love research, so this part of the writing process was particularly fun! I needed to verify the animal quarantine requirements, when the night-blooming cereus flowered, stories about Madame Pele and dozens of other facets of the novel. I did a lot on my own, but so, so many generous people helped me along the way. I am exceedingly grateful.
Small moments of my personal experience flavor the narrative. I know what it’s like to hear a tsumani warning siren wail and evacuate to higher ground, to be verbally threatened by a bully (though unlike Peggy Sue, it happened to me only once) and to be enchanted by the beauty and rhythms of the islands.
Writing about a character’s problems can unearth a ton of old ghosts of our own. How did you go about navigating your past and finding the inspiration for the character of Peggy Sue? Did you ever find her problems difficult to confront due to them being too close to home?
All writers draw upon some portion of ourselves, no matter how small. Part of my own journey was to recognize that I was holding back. In a pivotal conversation with the wonderful children’s and YA writer, Janet Fox, it occurred to me that Hawaii was the antagonist of the story. I love Hawaii. It is my home. I told Janet that I did not want it to be the antagonist.
“I know,” she said in a soft voice. “But in the end,” Janet said brightly, “Hawaii isn’t the antagonist.”
True. But. I realized not only had I been protecting Peggy Sue, I’d been protecting Hawaii. In the end, both would have to stand up for themselves.
What advice would you give to a writer who is struggling to separate their reality from their fictional character? How can we protect ourselves emotionally if a character reminds us too much of ourselves?
You are not your character. But there may be parts of her that resonate with you.
So my answer may surprise you—don’t separate. This is where you will find the gold.
It’s way scary.
It took me years to get to the point where I could do this. Years.
What was the most useful lesson you learned while writing this book? If you could go back and talk to the you who is about to begin writing, how would you warn or arm her against the difficulties ahead?
My big takeaway? Go there emotionally.
Breathe. Trust the process. It’s going to take as long as it takes. It’s all about revision, going deeper. About finding the heart of the story. About discovering what your characters really want.
Tim Wynne-Jones says, “The answers are in your writing.” He posits that we give ourselves clues to unlocking the mysteries of our own work. It’s our job to look carefully, to look differently, until we discover them.
Amen to that, Anne. Thank you for your wonderfully insightful answers!
To celebrate the release of Anywhere But Paradise, we are giving away a signed copy to a lucky winner! Enter the draw through the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win this beautifully written book!
Anne Bustard is a beach girl at heart. If she could, she would walk in the sand every day, wear flip-flops, and eat nothing but fresh pineapple, macadamia nuts and chocolate. She is the author of the award-winning picture book Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). Her debut middle grade historical novel Anywhere But Paradise (Egmont Publishing) is out on March 31, 2015. She lives in Austin, Texas.
They've announced the longlist for the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award, one of the leading Australian book prizes.
It includes Elizabeth Harrower's long unpublished In Certain Circles (which I hope to be getting to soon).
See also, for example, Stephen Romei's report in The Australian.
Most of us know Jeff Anderson for his brilliant work as a teacher and writer of professional books. I have learned so much from Jeff through his workshops and books. Mechanically Inclined is a book that I go back to often and his others stretch my thinking about writing. This year, Jeff's first MG novel is due out and I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of it. The book is called Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth and it is due out in August from Sterling. It was a great read and I can think of so many past students that will love this book. This is probably geared toward the upper end of middle grade--I am thinking grades 5-7 seems perfect.
I had the opportunity to interview Jeff about his book and his writing. I learned so much about his writing and this new book!
Franki: Why, after focusing on writing professionally for teachers did you decide to write a middle grade novel?
Jeff: Actually I began trying my hand at writing fiction for middle grade readers almost 20 years ago. While my first published work was professional writing for teachers, my first love was middle grade and YA fiction. Since my professional writing was fairly successful, I decided to give fiction another shot after letting it wane for five or six years. Instead of revising what I’d done in the past, Zack’s voice came to me and spilled out on the page, and many revisions later that became Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth (Sterling, August 2015). I have a blast plotting stories, cracking myself up, going back to certain settings—hamburger joints, school festivals—any of the settings in my books and paying attention in a new way.
Franki: You mention in your note before the story that Zack Delacruz is a lot like you. Can you talk more about that?
Jeff: That's the fun of fiction, isn’t it? Bits and pieces and flashes of your life unconsciously work their way into your prose. Zack is short—I am tall. But the way the difference contributed to us standing out is our link. And let’s just say my big mouth had a way of getting me into trouble as well—saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person. But all the characters have a bit of me or people that I’ve known—even in embarrassing ways. Like Janie, I sometimes spit when I talk. This was not conscious choicefor her character, however. I only realized the connection later. It just happened. That’s the other fun of fiction. As I write characters they become real people to me. They do the things they’d naturally do, which are sometimes things I’d do or I’ve seen people do. There is a power beyond the conscious mind that weaves conflict and humor into my fiction. I love the way the ideas just keep coming.
Franki:You do such a good job of balance of real middle school issues with humor in the book. How did you do that and was it a conscious decision?
Jeff: Thank you. I’m glad you think so. There’s that conscious word again. I’d say no. I didn’t decide to balance tough issues with humor. That’s what came out when I started to write. The reality is I was bullied relentlessly as a middle school student, and I believe the birth of my humor came from these experiences. If I made people laugh, I’d survive. They say a peacock’s feathers are so beautiful because they eat thorns. Through constant bullying I received, I ate a lot of thorns, making humor a feather in my cap.
Another connection to me is my parents were divorced around this age, but I was separated from my Dad by a three-hour drive and three-times-a-year-scheduled visits. In this book, the closeness I have with my father is the one I wished I had. That’s another wonderful thing about fiction. You can change things or experience them in a new way. The way you want. I felt alienated and alone as a child. I had such a wish to disappear. Those thoughts couldn’t help but arise as a theme in this middle grade book. But I hope the humor makes it fun. It wasn’t a message book at all, but still I think one can be found in it if you look.
Franki: You’ve taught this age level. Did you notice kids you’ve taught show up in the characters of this book?
Jeff: I wanted to write a book my students would want to read. In that way they are present as an audience I wanted them to relate to. And in a way everyone I’ve ever known shows up in ZackDelacruz: Me and My Big Mouth. But of course none of them are actual people. They are fabricated mixtures of people’s voices and experiences as well as mine.
I’ve taught over twenty years in the classroom and that experience oozes all over these pages. The things my students liked, said, worried about, and wrote about find their way into the fabric of my stories. I don’t often see the students I taught in books: kids that hope and dream and have everyday kid problems, but also happen to be kids of color. I am so honored that I have the chance to give my students and those like them a true reflection of their day-to-day lives. But quite often my experiences work their way in. For example, in high school I was the one who ate all the chocolate bars I was supposed to sell. I, like Zack, turn to a jar of peanut butter when stressed. When I saw the illustrator’s rendering of that scene from the book, I saw me—young and old—all over that picture.
Franki: I wasn’t aware there would be illustrations. Tell me about that.
Jeff: Yes, I absolutely love Andrea Miller’s illustrations that aren’t in the advanced reader copy (ARC) you received. The pictures really add a layer to the book. If you’re interested, sometimes we release sneak peaks of illustrations on twitter. (@writeguyjeff, @andreacecelia, @sterlingbooks) And while I am at it, I am honored to have the fabulous Tad Carpenter, the cover designer of Wonder by RJ Palacio, designing the cover of Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth.
Franki: Can you talk a bit about your experience writing a middle grade novel as opposed to the other writing you do?
Jeff: In some ways, writing both genres are the same. I have to set aside large chunks of time to draft and revise. But fiction comes together in a different way than nonfiction writing for teachers. For teachers, it’s my voice and my actual experiences teaching writing. For my fiction book, my voice is that of a sixth grader. The characters exist only in my mind and the pages. It’s freer. Organization matters in both cases, but in fiction it’s about the plot and change and connection. In my professional books, it’s how I can best show teachers options and possibilities. And in the end, there is something incredibly healing in fiction writing that isn’t the same in professional nonfiction. The story is all. Fiction is also a more fun to write, though I enjoy writing whatever I work on. With fiction, I feel a new purpose, a new way of reaching readers. That’s a wonderful feeling.
Franki: Will Zack Delacruz be a series? If not, what future writing for kids do you have in the works?
Jeff: Yes, Zack Delacruz is slated to be a series of books. I actually have already drafted the second book in the series and am revising it right now. I also have a YA book that I’d love to get out there in the next year or so. It deals with thetruth of how our pasts do in fact change us and form us and haunt us.
Honestly, I should just type the name of this superb new book by John & Molly and leave it at that. The Babies & Doggies Book - it says it all. But there is an added brilliance to The Babies & Doggies Book that must be noted. As a parent and a bookseller, I have long known that babies LOVE looking at pictures of other babies. I have also long bemoaned the lack of quality board books with
I am hereby announcing the bad news that Zambia is shamefully entering the other half of the century without producing a Ngugi or Achebe.
(That's the other half of the century of Zambian independence Chanda is referring to .....)
Not terribly encouraging -- but not particularly helpful either, I fear.
But, hey, at least they aren't yammering about not having won the Nobel yet .....
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This is one of those books where the cover convinces you that you’ll love it. It’s both bright and cozy. Spare and warm.
A teensy giraffe peeks out of this boy’s hiding spot and you can see its smiling face, but only eager anticipation in this boy’s eyes.
This is my kind of kid. It looks like a grownup is over his shoulder, offering an open door and a pair of shoes. But he’s got a tower of bricks, a colander kingdom, and the very best pair of pajamas.
In is best.
Until out is.
And when out is cold and wet, in you go.
Nikki McClure’s paper cuts are intricate and exquisite, but they are also all-embracing. Not common artwork, but a reminder of the universal comforts of childhood and play and home.
A stark black and vibrant yellow are perfect patches of color to explore these opposing wishes. They balance, they tug, and they leave enough room for us to journey with him. By day and until nightfall.
In and out.
A perfect choice to celebrate curiosity, imagination, and the way we explore our world.
> ...I got far too many letters from > prisoners, so a post office box was a necessity. I get those too! I always reply personally to those poor guys. Their handwritten hopes for publication just kinda break my heart. A LOT of Sci-Fi writers are in prison.
If we'd been in actual conversation, that third sentence might very possibly have passed unremarked because we both knew what I meant: the majority of query letters coming from a prison address are for SFF books.
But written on the page, it stops the eye (and rightfully so!)
If you'd sent a query letter that said most of your audience was in prison, we'd have a problem. Of course, what you'd meant to say was "lots of prisoners have ordered my book."
When you write, you know what you mean. Your task is to make sure I do too. Whether your reader does is YOUR responsibility. If I don't understand your sentences, that's YOUR problem (generally) not mine.
How to make sure you avoid this problem: other readers. No matter how you get them, it's really important to have a second set of eyes on your manuscript that will catch things like this. Someone who is thin lipped, evil-eyed, and sucks lemons for a living. If you can pay them in lemonade and sauerkraut, so much the better.
Here's the kind of thing Miss Persnikity will catch:
Bale/bail (misuse of found just tonight in a published book!)
How many SFF writers are in prison (or exiled in Carkoon)
I read your manuscript with Miss Persnikity looking over my shoulder. Too many tsks tsks from her and I know you're more careless than the kind of writer I want to work with regularly.
It's not a problem to write this stuff. The problem is when you fail to revise it away.
(and how many revisions are enough? This blog post had seven in three days)
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Over 30,000 migrants, including rape and torture victims, are detained in the UK in the course of a year, a third of them for over 28 days. Some detainees remain incarcerated for years, as Britain does not set a time limit to immigration detention (the only country in the European Union not to do so). No detainee is ever told how long his or her detention will last, for nobody knows. It can be days, it can be years.
I've been looking for a good way to describe my choice of project this year and why I'm so passionate about poetic forms. After listening to this fabulous PBS NewsHour piece on Kwame Alexander and poetry, I can say it no better.
"See, I’m in love with poetry. And there are so many different forms of poetry. And I believe I wanted to have that sort of variety, that sort of diversity of verse, so that kids could sort of figure out what they were interested in and what they could latch on to and perhaps mimic some of these poems themselves."
Ditto and Amen.
See you tomorrow for the launch of my 2015 project, Jumping Into Form. Up first is the sijo.
Readers looking for tension, angst, fantastical myths, well-rounded characters, and a very human tale of survival will delight in this quick and engrossing page-turner of a story, sure to inspire the inner-Zodiac in everyone.
Easter is Coming and groovy bunny is hip-hopping down the bunny trail! Help him decorate his egg - and his tummy while you're at it! CLICK HERE for more Easter coloring pages! Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially... my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of nine literary awards. Click the cover to learn more! When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most. I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.
I have an article up at ADN about the history of fish spotting for commercial fishermen in Alaska. It has been, and continues to be to a certain extent, extremely dangerous. Here’s a bit:
In 1984, at the opening of herring season, there was a fatal crash over Togiak, a mid-air collision under a low overcast cloud layer that killed the occupants of both aircraft. According to the NTSB report, witnesses described the flight activity as “frantic,” “chaotic” and “insane.”
In 1991, a mid-air collision near Tatitlek resulted in the death of one of the pilots, while the other was able to land. At the time of the accident, witnesses told the NTSB there were about 50 aircraft circling Boulder Bay waiting for herring season to open.
In 1995 near Naknek a Piper Super Cub and Cessna 172 collided while fish-spotting at about 400 feet over the water and both pilots were killed.
In 1997 the surviving pilot from the Tatitlek accident was involved in another mid-air while flying a Cessna 185 on floats near Galena Bay, along with a spotter, while waiting for the opening of herring season. That plane collided with another pilot and spotter in a Bellanca, which then crashed in the bay, killing both aboard. No one was injured in the Cessna.
In each of these accidents and many others that occurred in the 1980s and ‘90s, the probable cause was determined to be inadequate visual lookout, diverted attention or failure to see and avoid.
[Post pic by Scott Dickerson – see several more fish spotting pics with my article.]
More Easter designs with a selection from Marks & Spencer on greetings cards wrap and packaging. There are some fresh designs in yellow and turquoise on Kraft card, some interesting hand drawn type, and last years food packaging designs by Darling Clementine make a reappearance. Most of their cards have sold out online but there are still a selection available in stores.
After the smashing success of What a Bachelor Needs, I decided to give One Night with Her Bachelor a spin. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well for me, because I didn’t find the hero very appealing. Yes, Gabriel is going through a rough patch, but, still, Dude, you have to bathe regularly. He lives in his grandfather’s cabin in the middle of woods, a good hike from civilization, and the thought of living without electricity does absolutely nothing for me. My idea of camping is checking into a Fairfield Inn, and that’s roughing it. So a guy without a job, the internet, furniture, or a way to charge a Kindle – yeah, that’s not happening.
We meet Molly Dekker, a single mother working hard to provide a happy home for her exuberant son Josh. On the weekend Josh is off on a camping trip, Molly decides she’s going to do something for herself. She’s going to hike into the woods, find Gabriel’s cabin, and proposition the man she’s had the hots for since she was a girl. Gabriel was her brother’s best friend, and when he was injured in the line of duty, he lost everything after the tragic accident.
Gabriel is a former Air Force pararescueman, and when he’s sent to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter, he arrives too late to save Molly’s brother. Worse, he’s terribly wounded, and his injures rob him of his job. Unable to remain in the service, he’s now at lose ends. Suffering from PTSD, he retreats from his family and settles into the cabin in the woods, living like a hermit. He only goes to town when he needs supplies, and when Molly shows up on his doorstep, he isn’t amused. He’s not even sure what to think after she makes him an offer she thought he’d be delighted to accept. All Gabriel wants is to be left alone.
While she’s trying to talk Gabriel into bed, she discovers her son has gone missing from his campsite. Fearing the worst, she and Gabriel rush off in search of him. When they find him, he’s been seriously injured, and Gabriel quickly takes matters into his own hands. He rescues Josh, saving his life, but the boy is left paralyzed.
With Josh’s medical bills, Molly is now struggling to make ends meet. She blames herself for Josh’s condition, and regrets ever going to Gabriel’s cabin. She’s afraid to leave her son alone now, stifling his efforts at independence. When her friend discovers how poorly she’s doing financially, she organizes a charity auction to help her raise money, despite Molly’s protests.
As you have probably already guessed, Molly ends up with Gabriel as her bachelor. While there were sparks between them and some of the dialog was very fun, I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in their HEA. They struggled to communicate, and their conflict resolution skills left a lot to be desired. They are both still so emotionally raw from the enormous potholes in their lives that it was hard for me to believe they were up to the complications that go hand in hand with a relationship. Gabriel can’t even confide to Molly about his accident, because he still hasn’t come to terms with it himself. When he finally does, Molly was justifiably irked at his lack of trust in her.
So, bottom line – while I liked getting the scoop on the backstory for the series, aspects of One Night with Her Bachelor just did not work for me. The hero wasn’t my cuppa, and the couple’s inability to communicate didn’t give me a sense that they’ll enjoy their HEA.
Review copy provided by publisher
Bid on a date with this wounded warrior for an unforgettable night of adventure. Aim high—and bid higher!—because no one comes close to local hero Gabriel Morales.
Molly Dekker hates being the town charity case, but when her son Josh is seriously injured she has no choice. She lets her best friend organize a bachelor auction to help pay her massive bills and make Josh’s life more comfortable. She can’t bid on any of the men, but a surprise bidder gives her a gift she never expected: a date with the man who saved her son’s life—the only one she’s in danger of losing her heart to.
Former Air Force pararescueman Gabriel Morales made a career of flying to the rescue, until a tragic helicopter crash stole more than his livelihood. Being auctioned off like a slab of beef isn’t in his recovery plan. But one look, one touch and one night unlocking Molly’s pent-up passion make him realize how badly he needs to be rescued…and how badly he wants to rescue Molly right back.
Will Molly and Gabriel’s never-quit attitude have them rushing head-first into love? Or will Gabriel’s secret pain stall their relationship before it can get off the ground?
Our Easter coverage continues today with some brand new artwork which is available for licensing. These cute seasonal patterns were created by Berlin based freelance illustrator and surface pattern designer Nastja Holtfreter. To see more from Nastja or to make inquiries go online here.
There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages ofNineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…
Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices.
An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults. I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too.So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one. Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance
Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person,New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.
Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.
Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.
Quote fromGeorgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not. Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."
There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.
Sylvie Scruggs is the heroine of this series, and she’s a lot like her name: interesting, energetic, and a little rough around the edges. In The Best Friend Battle, Sylvie comes home from a family vacation to find that her best friend, Miranda, has made friends with the enemy, Georgie Diaz. Sylvie’s entire world is threatened by this new friendship, and she does everything she can to get things back to normal. But normal doesn’t come easily, and Sylvie seems to have a penchant for making difficult situations much, much worse!
2. If this book had a theme song and/or spirit animal, what would it be and why?
Sylvie’s theme song would probably be "Life’s a Happy Song" from the new Muppet movie. It’s all about how life is a happy thing if and only if you have someone, a best friend, to share it with. But what happens when you don’t? (Sylvie does not want to find out.)
3. Please name and elaborate upon at least one thing you learned or discovered about writing in the course of creating this book.
Writing this book was not easy. I don’t believe (or at least I don’t like very much) writers who claim writing is an easy thing whether they are writing their first book or their hundredth, but certain things can make writing go much more smoothly. When you can hear the voice of your main character — when that person is large-as-life in your head — many difficult issues take care of themselves. Your writing struggles will revolve around plot, not plot and character. As flawed as Sylvie is, she’s now a friend I could sit down with and have a conversation about anything from mushrooms to ice dancing. That familiarity makes writing (mostly) a pleasure. I don’t always know what will happen to Sylvie or even what she will do, but I usually know what she would have to say about it!
4. What is your favorite scene in the book?
The scene where Josh and Sylvie build the castle together. I love Josh (who gets a big role in Sylvie’s third book) and all of his interactions with Sylvie.
5. What are you working on now?
Sylvie’s second adventure, The Mean Girl Meltdown, is in the final stages of publication [editor's note: out this fall!], and her third book, The Spelling Bee Scuffle, is in beginning stages of the editorial process. I’m also working on a novel about a twelve-year-old girl named Rory, the middle child in a dysfunctional and eccentric family, whose mother is in Sweden for a month. As Rory, a very different character than Sylvie, attempts to save the family from their dictatorial grandmother and an impending eviction, she alienates her best friend, Owen, nearly kills her younger brother, and gets her grandmother arrested for illegal possession of a motorcycle. This book has been much harder for me to write because of what I was speaking about earlier — knowing your characters. I get into the heads of many characters in Rory’s book, and I’m finding out very quickly that I know some of them much better than I know others!
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Image from the YALSA Edwards page.
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