JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans. Join now (it's free).
Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: young adult, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,996
How to use this Page
You are viewing the most recent posts tagged with the words: young adult in the JacketFlap blog reader. What is a tag? Think of a tag as a keyword or category label. Tags can both help you find posts on JacketFlap.com as well as provide an easy way for you to "remember" and classify posts for later recall. Try adding a tag yourself by clicking "Add a tag" below a post's header. Scroll down through the list of Recent Posts in the left column and click on a post title that sounds interesting. You can view all posts from a specific blog by clicking the Blog name in the right column, or you can click a 'More Posts from this Blog' link in any individual post.
Publishers want lots of ‘stuff’ from authors now. Not just the book, but lots of other stuff. Content, it’s called, for online things.
One of the bits of content I’ve given my publishers recently is a file of deleted scenes, from my new(ish) teen thriller Mind Blind.
It wasn’t hard for me to find half a dozen deleted scenes, because I delete lots from my manuscripts as I rewrite and redraft. It’s not unusual for me to reduce the length of a book by 20,000 words or more between first draft and final publication. Which sounds very inefficient – wouldn’t I be better just writing shorter books in the first place?
But I’m not a planner and plotter. I discover the story as I write, as I follow the characters on their journey, and that means diversions and doubling back. I never deliberately write anything that I know is irrelevant at the time, every word helps me find out about the characters, their reactions to problems and my own feelings about the story. But once I reach the end and get a sense of the main thrust of the story, it’s usually clear that I've regularly wandered off the narrative path, and that some scenes are now unnecessary. They may have been necessary to get me to the end, but they’re not necessary to get the reader to the end. So I'm ruthless in slashing them out. I reckon that if you can slice out a scene without it seriously affecting the rest of the story, it probably wasn’t that important.
And in a thriller like MindBlind, where it’s very important to keep the pace up and the pages turning, I also removed scenes or parts of scenes because they slowed the story down too much. (Here’s an example of one.)
And sometimes I cut a scene, not because it’s slowing the story down or because it’s an unnecessary diversion, but because I come up with a stronger idea once I know the story and characters better. However, the original scene is still part of the way I got to know the character, so it’s part of my history with them. Here’s an example of that – it’s the first scene I ever wrote about Ciaran Bain, the hero (anti-hero) of the book. It’s not in the book, but it’s still the place I first met him!
Of course, it’s misleading to suggest that all this slashing and slicing is my idea. Quite a lot of it is, but some of it is in response to gentle prompts from my wonderful editor.
a mountain of many Mind Blind manuscripts
So, I have no problem removing large chunks of my first draft or even my fourteenth draft, because as I’m writing, I know that I’m just discovering the story, not finding the perfect way of telling it first time around. And I know that it takes a lot of work to make that original mess of scribbled ideas into a book.
But having taken all this stuff out, why on earth would I want to show it to anyone? These deleted scenes have often been removed quite early in the process, so they’re not that polished (why would I polish them, once I’ve deleted them?) So it does feel quite weird and slightly uncomfortable, revealing these unfinished bits of my creative process to the public gaze.
Even if these are scenes that I took out for plot or pace reasons, rather than pieces of writing I don’t like, they are still parts of the story that didn’t make it into the book. So is it a bit of a risk to show less than perfect examples of your writing to the world? And why on earth do it?
The first reason is the pragmatic one of feeding the voracious social media monster. (This is not a particularly good reason.)
But I wonder if a much better reason is that realising how much an author cuts from their early drafts can be useful, especially for young writers. It’s a very practical way to show that published writers don’t get it right all the time, that our first drafts are just the start of the process and that we have to work at them, slash at them, perhaps radically change them, to get them into shape. Deleted scenes are perhaps the online version of showing manuscripts covered in lots of scribbles and scorings out to groups of kids at author visits. ‘Look, I don’t get it right first time, so you don’t have to either. Just write, and see what happens!’
So, while I was wincing and cringing this week as yet another deleted scene appeared on Tumblr, I wondered: How much do other writers delete? Are other writers happy to let the world see the bits they sliced out? And do readers learn anything about the writing process from deleted scenes?
Lari Don is the award-winning author of 21 books for all ages, including a teen thriller, fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers.
Some months ago I was asked if I could recommend a Native mystery writer. Because my area of expertise is books for children and young adults (and not adult mysteries), I asked colleagues in Native literature for names and learned about Sara Sue Hoklotubbe.
Right away I downloaded an e-copy of Hoklotubbe's American Cafe. Published in 2011 by the University of Arizona Press, I liked it a lot and passed her name along. American Cafe is the second book featuring Sadie Walela, a Cherokee woman trying to find her way in the world.
Hoklotubbe's writing is the real deal. Her Cherokee identity and knowledge are the foundation of her books. As you read, you'll be drawn into Sadie's world. There's no romanticizing, no stereotyping, and no mis-steps either like those you'll find in books by Tony Hillerman or Sandi Ault. Their books make me cringe (and yes, I did read some of them.)
Though it isn't marketed to young adults, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Hoklotubbe to older teens (or adults) looking for books--especially mysteries--by Native writers. I encourage you to get her books for your library and take a look at her website, too.
Add a Comment
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
My thoughts: The opening of this book hooked me right away. Amelia doesn't remember her life or her death, yet she keeps almost reliving her death, waking up in the murky water that took her life. She's stuck in between life and death and can't seem to move on. Then when Joshua almost dies in the same river, she tries to summon all her strength to save him, which isn't easy considering she's dead. By some twist of fate, he sees her and she's able to save him. The two form a bond right away, which is understandable since she did save his life. He's even accepting of the fact that she's a ghost. But as Amelia finds comfort in Joshua, she finds torment in another. Eli is a spirit like Amelia and he knows about her death. Eli tries to manipulate Amelia and get her to become something she isn't willing to be. I loved her struggle with Eli and how Joshua was able to help her just as much as she helped him. This was a very enjoyable read.Add a Comment
This morning I have a giveaway for Ellen Hopkins’ latest release RUMBLE. Check out the blurb and enter to win a copy!
Can an atheist be saved? The New York Times bestselling author of Crank and Tricks explores the highly charged landscapes of faith and forgiveness with brilliant sensitivity and emotional resonance.
“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was…my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.” Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.
Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.
No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.
About Ellen Hopkins:
Ellen Hopkins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Tilt, and Smoke, as well as the adult novels Triangles and Collateral. She has helped to shape the literary landscape with more than 4.5 million copies in print. Successfully combining her two passions—writing poetry and writing fiction—her compelling novels told in free verse expose and examine the struggles facing today’s youth. Ellen lives with her family in Carson City, Nevada, where she founded Ventana Sierra, a nonprofit youth housing and resource initiative designed to help highly motivated young people build solid career paths toward a more positive future. Rumble is her latest book. Visit her at www.EllenHopkins.com or go to www.VentanaSierra.org.
I decided to read Will the Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up? because Abi’s a kickboxer, and the movie set setting sounded interesting. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, but Abi’s lack of common sense derailed some of my enjoyment later on. The ending was satisfying, but the middle stretch did test my resolve. The story would have worked better for me if Abi had been 16 instead of 18, because she acted so immature. Part of that is because of her speech impediment, which made her family and her friends want to take the lead and help her over life’s little hurdles. It quickly got annoying when she continually craved their help and feedback, or when she blamed everyone but herself for the messes she found herself in.
With speech therapy, time, and practice, Abi has overcome her embarrassing stutter. Bullied because of it when she was younger, her parents enrolled her in kickboxing lessons to help build her self esteem. Discovering that she was good at it, Abi has become a champion kickboxer. When her instructor suggests she audition as a stunt double for an indie movie that his friend is working on, she’s reluctant to step outside of her comfort zone. Her friends Matt and Liv convince her to give it a shot, but Abi still has her reservations. She’s never wanted to be in the limelight, and even though the job is to be star Tilly Watson’s stunt double, she’s scared she’ll have trouble interacting with a new group of people.
The audition is almost a complete disaster; her stutter returns with a vengeance, and she’s so nervous she can barely think. When it’s time to show off her martial arts skills, however, she’s immediately calmed and is able to nail the job. Once on the set, she starts to think that she’s made a horrible mistake. Tilly is mean and taunts her about her speech impediment, and the director is a stern task master. Just when she’s beginning to regret taking the position, Tilly’s boyfriend shows up on the set. Mistaking Abi for Tilly, he greets her with a kiss – and Abi is smitten with the young actor.
As I stated earlier, I enjoyed the book at first. Then after Abi starts her new job, I started to get annoyed with her. She’s basically a doormat for Tilly, and starry eyed over Jon, she starts letting down her best friends. She makes some very bad decisions, and then doesn’t take ownership of them. She feels sorry for Jon because Tilly is cheating on him, and starting wondering what it would be like to be his girlfriend. He’s so kind to her, and he’s gorgeous, too. I was disappointed in her, thinking that it was kind of low for her to even contemplate stealing someone else’s boyfriend, so when Jon’s attentions aren’t quite everything they seem, I thought Abi got a little bit of what she deserved.
At the start of the story, she is head over heels in love with Matt, but because she’s afraid of ruining their friendship, she keeps her feelings a secret. Her flip-flop between the two guys made her seem shallow, and it looked like she was just using Matt. As a distance grows between them, she’s confused and blames him for not accepting her new happiness with her job. She finally feels like she belongs somewhere, but she can’t seem to meld her old life with her new one. Soon, Liv isn’t speaking to her at all, and there’s a new awkwardness with Matt.
While Abi does finally understand that she is the cause for most of her grief, it takes a long time for her to get even the smallest hint that most of her problems are self-inflicted. I liked the ending because she finally does grow up and stop taking her friends and family for granted, but it took a long time for that to happen.
Review copy provided by publisher
Abi Saunders might be a kickboxing champion, but when it comes to being the center of attention, she’d rather take a roundhouse kick to the solar plexus any day. So when her trainer convinces her to audition to be the stunt double for hot teen starlet Tilly Watson, Abi is shocked—and a little freaked out—when she gets the job.
Being a stunt double is overwhelming, but once the wig and makeup are on, Abi feels like a different person. Tilly Watson, to be exact. And when Tilly’s gorgeous boyfriend, Jon, mistakes Abi for the real star, Abi’s completely smitten. In fact, she’s so in love with her new life, it isn’t long before she doesn’t have time for her old one.
But when the cameras are turned off, will she discover running with the Hollywood A-list isn’t quite the glamorous existence she thought it was?
Recruited at his death to be a Protector of the Night, seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears. Each night, he risks his eternal life, having given up his chance at an afterlife when he chose to become a Protector. That doesn’t stop a burnt-out Daniel from risking daring maneuvers during each battle. He’s become one of the best, but he wants nothing more than to stop.
Then he’s given an assignment to watch over sixteen-year-old Kayla Bartlett, a clinically depressed patient in a psychiatric ward. Nightmares love a human with a tortured past. Yet, when they take a deep interest in her, appearing in unprecedented numbers, the job becomes more dangerous than any Daniel’s ever experienced. He fights ruthlessly to keep the Nightmares from overwhelming his team and Kayla. Soon, Daniel finds himself watching over Kayla during the day, drawn to why she’s different, and what it is about her that attracts the Nightmares. And him.
A vicious attack on Kayla forces Daniel to break the first Law and reveal his identity. Driven by his growing feelings for her, he whisks her away to Rome where others like him can keep her safe. Under their roof, the Protectors discover what Kayla is and why someone who can manipulate Nightmares has her in his sights. But before they can make a move, the Protectors are betrayed and Kayla is kidnapped. Daniel will stop at nothing to save her. Even if it means giving up his immortality. My thoughts: Vicki is my agency sister, so yeah, I was excited to read this book. First, the cover is awesome, and second the blurb let me know this was my kind of read. Daniel is someone I liked from the start. He's very real and so are his feelings. He felt for Kayla just like I did. The poor girl is in a psychiatric ward and being tortured by nightmares. I loved how the nightmares were physical things. Seriously LOVED that. I could almost feel their hands reaching for me while I was reading. Creepy and awesome! There's a twist with Kayla that I really enjoyed and didn't see coming. I won't give spoilers though, so I'll just say it was a great addition to the plot. The dynamic between Kayla and Daniel felt very genuine to me. They both are dealing with a lot. Daniel wants out of his job as a Protector, and Kayla has a tortured past. I think this really draws them to each other and gives them common ground. I can't wait to see where the story goes in book two.Add a Comment
Publication date: 16 Sept 2014 by Roaring Brook Press
Category: Young Adult Science Fiction
Keywords: SciFi, Reality Show, Privacy, Dreaming
Format: Hardcover, ebook
Source: ARC from Publisher
For students at The Forge School, every day is more than just a popularity contest. It's the most prestigious arts school in the country, true, but it's also the set of The Forge Show, a reality television series. Students attending Forge give up all of their privacy, except for the half day that they sleep, in exchange for 3 years of first-class creative education and revenue from ad sales, which they can later use to fund college studies.
For Rosie Sinclair, it's the chance to escape a life of poverty and obscurity. Just one problem: she's not very popular, and just before half of the sophomore class gets cut, she skips her sleeping pill so she can watch the rain fall on the dorm at night. Might as well make some good memories before she has to go back to the disused railway car her family calls home.
Except she doesn't get "voted off the island". A series of circumstances results in her blip rank rising high enough to stay. She gets to know a few of the kids in her classes, as well as a kitchen worker, Linus Pitts. But she also discovers that at Forge, not all of what you see is what you get... and there are eyes watching everywhere.
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. The conclusion doesn't quite satisfy the outlandish premise, but I did find the journey there gripping and hard to put down. I liked Rosie, thought I felt frustration rising as she tried to unravel the mystery surrounding the school: with so much at stake, why jeopardize her position? And yet, I kept rooting for her through all of her obviously bad decisions, because somehow I felt that doing the wrong thing was really the right thing to do.
This novel raises some great discussion questions:
How far would you go to make money and improve your prospects for success?
How important is privacy to you? Are there instances in which you would give up your right to privacy? How is our privacy invaded on a daily basis, and what makes it ok/not ok?
What are dreams? How does the novel play with the different meanings of the word?
When Rosie makes decisions, is she influenced by their potential effect on her blip rank? If she is, is that wrong? Or is she just playing the game as it's supposed to be played?
What is the purpose of reality television? Think about this from several angles: as a subject on the show, as a producer, or as an audience member.
This book caused me at least one sleepless night. The secretiveness of the school's staff, the cinematic pace of the action, and the near-plausibility of the setup will tingle many a reader's spine.
I received this book for free from Macmillan for review purposes.
I had an exciting start to my week. Not only did I finally get to move back home, but I also got this picture from my amazing agent Sarah Negovetich.
If you're having trouble reading that, it's the deal announcement for Fading Into the Shadows, which will be published by Spencer Hill Press in 2016!
I love my editor at SHP. Trisha just gets me and the way my mind works, so I'm thrilled to work on another book with her. And this book was one that grabbed my attention from the start. It's actually the book that gave me the idea for the Touch of Death series. Yes, I drafted it before Touch of Death. I revised it after I completed the series though.
I can't wait to share more info with you, but for now I'll say it's fantasy and it involves a girl who will do anything to save her best friend after he goes missing. Of course she didn't realize "anything" involved another world of shadows and real life constellations trying to kill her.
Anyone else have good writing news to share this week? Tackle a difficult chapter, finish a revision, get a new book idea? Let's celebrate together.Add a Comment
Teenage age angst is at its high when Kathleen is torn between two boys: Atticus, the unassuming boy who is different in more ways than one and couldn't care less about popularity, and Bobby O’Hara, the “it boy”… athletic, popular and all around dreamboat. Kathleen and Atticus’ connection formed well before the teenage years and Bobby’s after elementary school. As a matter of fact, Bobby doesn’t even acknowledge Kathleen until a fateful boy/girl party. The decision roller coaster ride overwhelms Kathleen as to who is the best fit for her, Atticus or Bobby. Will she go with what her friends feel is best or does she go with her heart?
Stephanie Hoina’s debut young adult novel will have the reader cheering Kathleen on as she makes milestone decisions that any teenager can relate to and will bring back memories for adults too. Superb fast paced storytelling expertise. I adored Kissing Atticus Primble and look forward to more fine works from Ms. Hoina! Well done!
Best wishes, Donna M. McDine Multi Award-winning Children's Author
Connect with Donna McDine on Google+ A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist
I love this series so much that I preordered Sisters’ Fate as soon as I noticed it listed on Amazon. Book 2, Star Cursed, ended on such a great cliffhanger, and I could hardly wait to see what happened next. The wait was agonizing. There are times when I enjoy a series, but then I lose interest in the period between releases. The Sisters’ Fate release date was close enough to when I finished Star Cursed that I didn’t forget about it. Good thing, too, since I have the attention span of a small bug.
The narrative picks up right were it left off. Maura has erased Cate right out of Finn’s memories, and now she’s nothing but a stranger to him. What? Wow! What an awful thing for her to do! I hated Maura! She has one priority, and that’s herself! She will do anything to earn praise from Inez, the new leader of the Sisterhood, even betray her sister. And then not be one bit apologetic for her horrible actions. No wonder Cate simmered with rage every time she had to interact with her sister. I really wanted to see Cate kick her butt, but I know that wouldn’t have done anything to change Maura’s attitude.
Cate is worried about how the Brotherhood will react now that Inez has reduced their leaders to mindless vegetables. Will they start a second Terror, killing any woman or girl suspected of being a witch, without a second thought? Inez’s agenda frightens Cate, so she attempts to establish ties with the Resistance. She knows that she has to stop Inez and her followers somehow, but she realizes that she can’t do it alone. Making an uneasy truce with Merriweather, who runs an illegal newspaper that reports on the actions of the Brotherhood without censorship, things finally start falling into place. Then her temper gets the best of her, threatening everything she’s worked so hard to accomplish.
To up the stakes, Cate is not only fighting against those that would destroy all witches, there is also a fever raging through New London, and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. Since it originated among the poorest citizens of the city, there’s not a whole lot of concern at first. So what if a bunch of river rats die of the fever? When the disease jumps to the wealthier occupants of the city, it’s the perfect opportunity to blame the witches for cursing the populace with the illness. Once again, the witches become a convenient scapegoat to control the population through fear and intimidation. The Brotherhood did awful things to anyone who got in their way, and then they orchestrated convincing cover stories for every heinous act the committed. They made powerful, frightening villains.
I thought Sisters’ Fate was a fitting end for the series. All of the loose ends are tied up, and the conclusion is very satisfying. I was even able to forgive Maura, at least a little bit. The romance was well done, and while it ended with a Happy For Now, you know that everything will work out for Cate in the end.
I highly recommend The Cahill Witch Chronicles. There’s a sweet romance, action, and interesting world building. It comes to a satisfying end with Sisters’ Fate, so if you like YA paranormal romance, give this series a try.
Grade: B+ / A-
Review copy provided by publisher
A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.
To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.
This morning I have a giveaway for you to enter. I have an ARC of We Were Liars by E Lockhart up for grabs. This is a compelling read that draws you in and refuses to let go. I am still trying to decide whether or not I actually liked it, but I know that I could not put it down.
About the book:
A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
In this series, Tu Books Publisher Stacy Whitman shares advice for aspiring authors, especially those considering submitting to our New Visions Award.
Last week on the blog, I talked about hooking the reader early and ways to write so you have that “zing” that captivates from the very beginning. This week, I wanted to go into more detail about the story and plot itself. When teaching at writing conferences, my first question to the audience is this:
What is the most important thing about a multicultural book?
I let the audience respond for a little while, and many people have really good answers: getting the culture right, authenticity, understanding the character… these are all important things in diverse books.
But I think that the most important part of a diverse novel is the same thing that’s the most important thing about any novel: a good story. All of the other components of getting diversity right won’t matter if you don’t have a good story! And getting those details wrong affects how good the story is for me and for many readers.
So as we continue our series discussing things to keep in mind as you polish your New Visions Award manuscripts, let’s move the discussion on to how to write a good story, beyond just following the directions and getting a good hook in your first few pages. This week, we’ll focus on refining plot.
Here are a few of the kinds of comments readers might make if your plot isn’t quite there yet:
Part of story came out of nowhere (couldn’t see connection)
Plot not set up well enough in first 3 chapters
Confusing plot—jumped around too much
Excessive detail/hard to keep track
Too hard to follow, not sure what world characters are in
We’ll look at pacing issues too, as they’re often related:
Chapters way too long
Pacing too slow (so slow hard to see where story is going)
Nothing gripped me
Getting your plot and pacing right is a complicated matter. Just being able to see whether something is dragging too long or getting too convoluted can be hard when you’re talking about anywhere from fifty to a hundred thousand words, all in one long file. Entire books have been written on how to plot a good science fiction and fantasy book. More books have been written on how to plot a good mystery. If you need more in-depth work on this topic, refer to them (see the list at the end of this post).
So we won’t get too in depth here, but let’s cover a few points.
Know your target audience
When you’re writing for children, especially young children (middle grade, chapter books, and below), your plot should be much more linear than a plot for older readers who can hold several threads in their heads at once.
Teens are developmentally ready for more complications—many of them move up to adult novels during this age, after all—but YA as a category is generally simpler on plot structure than adult novels in the same genre. This is not to say the books are simple-minded. Just not as convoluted… usually. (This varies with the book—and how well the author can pull it off. Can you?)
But the difference between middle grade and YA is there for a reason—kids who are 7 or 8 or 9 years old and newly independent readers need plots that challenge them but don’t confuse them. And even adults get confused if so much is going on at once that we can’t keep things straight. Remember what we talked about last time regarding backstory—sometimes we don’t need to know everything all at once. What is the core of your story?
Note that “too complicated” is one of the main complaints of plot-related comments readers had while reading submissions to the last New Visions Award.
Don’t say, “But Writer Smith wrote The Curly-Eared Bunny’s Revenge for middle graders and it had TEN plot threads going at once!” Writer Smith may have done it successfully, but in general, there shouldn’t be more than one main plot and a small handful of subplots happening in a stand-alone novel for middle-grade readers.
If you intend your book to be the first in a series of seven or ten or a hundred books, you might have seeds in mind you’d like to plant for book seventy-two. Unless you’re contracted to write a hundred books, though, the phrase here to remember is stand-alone with series potential. Even Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was pretty straightforward in its plotting—hinting at backstory, but not dumping backstory on readers in book one; setting the stage for potential conflicts down the road but not introducing them beforetime. Book 1 of Harry Potter really could have just stood on its own and never gone on to book 2. It wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying as having the full 7-book arc, but note how seamlessly details were woven in, not calling attention to themselves even though they’re setting the stage for something later. Everything serves the linear plot of the main arc of book 1’s story. We only realize later that those details were doing double duty.
Thus, when you’re writing for children and young adults, remember that a linear main plot is your priority, and that anything in the story that is not serving the main plot is up on the chopping block, only to be saved if it proves its service to the main plot is true.Plotting affects pace
In genre fiction for young readers, pacing is always an issue. Pacing can get bogged down by too many subplots—the reader gets annoyed or bored when it takes forever to get back to the main thrust of the story when you’re wandering in the byways of the world you created.
Fantasy readers love worldbuilding (to be covered in another post), but when writing for young readers, make sure that worldbuilding serves as much to move the plot forward as to simply show off some cool worldbuilding. Keep it moving along.
Character affects plot
This was not a complaint from the last New Visions Award, but another thing to keep in mind when plotting is that as your rising action brings your character into new complications, the character’s personality will affect his or her choices—which will affect which direction the plot moves. We’ll discuss characterization more another day, but just keep in mind that the plot is dependent upon the choices of your characters and the people around them (whether antagonists or otherwise). Even in a plot that revolves around a force of nature (tornado stories, for example), who the character is (or is becoming) will determine whether the plot goes in one direction or another.
Find an organizational method that works for you
This is not a craft recommendation so much as a tool. Plotting a novel can get overwhelming. You need a method of keeping track of who is going where when, and why. There are multiple methods for doing this.
Scrivener doesn’t work for all writers, so it might not be your thing, but I recommend trying out its corkboard feature, which allows you to connect summaries of plot points on a virtual corkboard to chapters in your book. If you need to move a plot point, the chapter travels along for the ride.
An old-fashioned corkboard where you can note plot points and move them around might be just as easy as entering them in Scrivener, if you like the more tactile approach.
Another handy tool is Cheryl Klein’s Plot Checklist, which has a similar purpose: it makes the writer think about the reason each plot point is in the story, and whether those points serve the greater story.
Whether you use a physical corkboard, a white board, Scrivener, or a form of outlining, getting the plot points into a form where you can see everything happening at once can help you to see where things are getting gummed up.
This post is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plotting a book. Here are some books and essays that will be of use to the writer seeking to fix his or her plot problems. (Note that some of these resources will be more useful to some writers than others, and vice versa. Find what works for you.)
“Muddles, Morals, and Making It Through: Or Plots and Popularity,” by Cheryl Klein in her book of essays on writing and revising, Second Sight.
In the same book by Cheryl Klein, “Quartet: Plot” and her plot checklist.
Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.
Here's what's on my mind today:
Two Blog Tours Since I have two Ashelyn Drake titles releasing on September 9th (Into the Fire and Perfect For You), I've been busy with blog tour posts. They're almost ready to send to my publicists.
My Dream Office Even though I won't be able to settle into my new office for a while yet, I'm dreaming of my oversized chair to work and read in, my large desk with bookshelves, and the cheery daisy paint color I picked out. I can also finally frame the giant posters of my book covers my husband had made for me. It's going to be epic. Now I have to work on that pesky thing called patience.
Painting and Flooring Last week the construction at my house, which had involved gutting the entire first floor, progressed to painting. This week I'm hoping to have the painting finished and flooring going in so I can go home before the summer is over.
Editing I'm editing for clients this week, and I already have clients booking me for next month too.
The Monster Within Book Blitz Fandom Monthly Magazine is hosting a book blitz for The Monster Within August 15-18th. I'm looking forward to it.
I’ve been thinking about how much I admire ferrets and how much they’ve taught me about being a writer.
Now, before you think I’ve finally lost my mind, hear me out. Ferrets have some great qualities we can all learn lessons from.
1. Be okay with going the long way around.
One of the funniest things about ferrets is how, rather than make a straight line from one point to another, they will almost always veer off and take the long way around. They’ll go under something, through something, and really make you wait for them to reach you even when you’re just trying to give them a treat. But ferrets like the scenic route, even when it’s less convenient.
Ferrets are not known for their efficiency, and they’re totally cool with that.
Writers are kind of impatient. We want to finish our manuscript now. We want to have the revisions yesterday. And when we send out queries, we hit refresh on our inboxes like no one’s business. We want that full manuscript request now. But things don’t always (haha, ever) happen on our schedule. We get rejections, a revision and resubmit request, or whatever. It feels like the long way around. It’s frustrating, but it builds character. (And, ideally, leads to a better book in the end.)
2. Sometimes you will poop on the floor and your editor will have to help you clean it up. She won’t like it, but she will still like you. Probably.
Poop story: ferrets are sassy little things. Some ferrets (*cough*Todd*cough*) like to, ah, relieve themselves right next to the litter box. What? It’s close! It only takes a moment to clean up! (Todd has no idea how frustrating this habit is for me. Or maybe he does.)
The truth is, we’re not going to write perfect first drafts. Or perfect second drafts. And when we hand something off to our crit partner/agent/editor, it might look pretty bad, even if you didn’t realize that when you finished. Sometimes, it’s going to look like you got it close . . . but didn’t hit the box. Maybe you gave up early, or you just didn’t notice. Either way, your crit partner/agent/editor will see it and help you clean it up. It’s not always the most fun job (my draft = poop comparison is kind of falling apart, because I like doing crits for friends, but I don’t like cleaning poop), but your people will still like you afterwards.
Alternately: sometimes great things will happen to you and you will get all proud and thinking you’re Big Stuff . . . and then someone will come along and poop on the floor just to keep you humble.
3. Accept all treats offered.
Ferrets, like small children, will keep accepting treats until they explode. (I’ve never seen one explode, but I’m sure it could happen.)
As writers, we aren’t given many treats. Most of the time it seems like we get poop on the floor. (See above about humility.) So when you’re offered a treat, take it. And don’t forget about it. (Unlike a ferret, who, having devoured a treat in .3 seconds flat, will look at you like they’ve never had a treat ever, the poor thing.) Whether your treat is a book deal, a fantastic critique or review, or even someone tweeting that they loved your book — don’t forget about it. Those treats are important. Accept all of them.
4. If you’re going to nip at someone, do something ridiculously cute after so they’ll still like you.
We all have bad days. Sometimes we take out our frustration and anger on the people who love us (or love our books). But if you’re going to nip someone, apologize. Maybe do something nice for them.
But really, try not to bite.
5. Don’t be afraid to fall in love with Kippy.
I’ve now had two ferrets fall in love with Kippy . . . who is a cat. You might think this inter-species adoration is odd, but ferrets are totally cool with it. (You might have noticed they’re pretty laid back about weird things.)
Sometimes, writers fall in love with ideas or books other people say we shouldn’t. Maybe the idea isn’t marketable or it’s already been done a thousand times. Maybe the idea is outside of your normal genre. You know what? Go for it. Follow your writerly heart. It may not work out in the end (so far it hasn’t worked out for Todd and Kippy, but I will keep you updated), but go ahead and take the chance. You never know. It might work out perfectly.
6. Don’t give up!
Todd has this trash habit. He looooves old plastic water bottles, pill bottles, bubble envelopes, plastic bags . . . You know what he loves doing with his trash? He loves stashing it. Inside his Big Box, inside the cage, under the cage — wherever he feels is safe. But sometimes his pieces of trash are bigger than he is, or won’t fit when he’s trying to take them up to his cage. Or sometimes he grabs an envelope or something and . . . keeps stepping on it. This, of course, makes taking the envelope somewhere very difficult. Because he’s standing on it. But Todd doesn’t give up. He keeps trying to take his trash where it belongs, no matter how difficult it is. Even if the trash is bigger than he is! Sometimes he fails or needs help, but usually if he keeps trying, he succeeds.
(I really do wish I had a video of this, but I haven’t been able to get a decent one yet. Sorry. You’ll just have to take my word for it: it’s adorable.)
As writers, sometimes we see something we want and it’s just so, so big. Maybe you want to write a story that seems too huge and daunting for you to handle. Maybe you want an agent or publishing contract. Or whatever. Lots of times, the challenge seems too big and writers give up. But if you give up, you’ve already failed. You never know what you might accomplish if you just keep trying.
Yes, I know I said poop and trash like fifty times, but that’s beside the point. Ferrets! There’s a lot to admire there, don’t you think?
*wanders off to have more coffee for ferret bouncing practice*
Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy and THE ORPHAN QUEEN duology (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen). *A Kippy is a cat.
I'm not quite the target audience for It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader, but I've been following Kelly Jensen's blog for years, and I have a lot of respect for her knowledge of and advocacy for young adult fiction. So when she had a contest on her blog to win a copy of It Happens, I decided to enter. And I won! So now I'm here to tell you a bit about the book.
It Happens is a reference title for anyone who provides reader's advisory to teens, and wants to do better at recommending contemporary realistic fiction. As a blogger/reviewer, I do some of what Kelly calls "passive reader's advisory" (recommending titles, and discussing what interests a particular book might fall under). I can imagine doing more active reader's advisory (where you discuss a teen's interest with them and recommend specific titles) when my daughter and her friends are teenagers. In the meantime, I do a little of that with my nieces, friends who read YA, etc.
Anyway, this book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to get the right books into the hands of teens, particularly librarians and teachers. It Happens is both a primer on HOW to get the right book into the right hands and a resource with suggestions for exactly what those books might be. In Part 1, Kelly defines realistic contemporary young adult fiction, discusses why this genre is both important and under-publicized, and provides some general resources (book awards, etc.) for discovering titles. She also proposes methods for evaluating and categorizing YA titles, and concludes with a detailed chapter on reader's advisory skills.
Here is Kelly's definition of contemporary YA, from the end of Chapter 1:
"Contemporary YA features young adult protagonists set in today's world incorporating today's issues, paralleling and intertwining with the values that every teen - and every reader - thinks about: family, friendship, growing up, loss, faith, the future, and many, many more." (Page 8)
She starts each chapter with a quote (some short, some long) from an author or a librarian or other gatekeeper. I found these quotations inspirational in many cases. Like this, from Lisa Schroeder:
"... But perhaps after closing the pages of a well-done contemporary YA novel, a teen will think: If she can make it through, I can, too." (Page 9)
That's why we're here, right? To find the books that can make a real different for kids. I also personally, as a member of the children's book blogging community, enjoyed seeing quotes from people whose blogs I've been reading for years, like Liz Burns and Sarah Gross. [Though I think it would have been helpful for readers less familiar with the community had at least the names of these people's blogs been included.]
As a reviewer, I found that Chapter 4, on methods for evaluating fiction, resonated, even though (or perhaps because) some of the topics were things that I have been thinking about for a long time. Here's what Kelly has to say about critical evaluation:
"Critical evaluation highlights the elements of a text that work well and those that don't work quite so well. All books have their strengths and their weaknesses, and while critical evaluation sounds like a way to tease out and emphasize only the parts that don't work, that's not the case. Exploring what does and does not work at the same time offers a thorough means for understanding not just the book at hand, but fiction more widely. (Page 27)
All in all, I enjoyed the first part of the book, and learned a bit about book genres and reader's advisory. But for me, where It Happens really shines is in Part 2. In this section, Kelly provides fifteen book "annotations" for each of ten separate topics, thus profiling 150 books in detail. Her selections are all relatively current titles (from the past 10 years), and do not include the obvious, huge print run titles, which people already know about.
Each annotation includes a cover image, a brief summary of the book, a link to the book's trailer, if available, and a list of "Appeal Factors" (e.g. "female main character", "moving", "deafness", etc.). The appeal factors are very useful (and an index of the factors is available at the end of the book). Kelly goes beyond the genres to get into real specifics, like books set in particular locations, books with people of color or non-traditional families, books about filmmaking or fishing, etc.
Below that, Kelly also includes a brief section on "Read Alikes" for each book. These Read Alikes were what impressed me the most about It Happens. Rather than just including a list of similar books, Kelly discusses just what it is about this book that might appeal to readers who liked some other title. And then she'll also discuss other books that might make a good follow-on read, and WHY. These references, these connections between the books, really showcase Kelly's deep knowledge of the field. I didn't read every annotation in detail, but I found the Read Alikes fascinating.
At the end of each chapter/topic, Kelly includes another list of related titles. Then, at the end of the book, she provides several chapters dedicated to books that are good conversations starters around specific issues like bullying and sexual assault. She discusses four or five books in detail for each topic. She gets into exactly what types of discussions a parent or teacher might launch based on having read each book. As the parent of a four year old girl, I'm hoping for an update of this section in about 8-10 years. But I'll keep this edition handy in any case.
I do wish that It Happens was available as a digital text. It would be lovely to be able to click through to read more about the additional titles listed at the end of each section, or to click on an "Appeal Factor" listed at the end of a book profile and immediately bring up all of the other books listed under that same appeal factor. But it's nice to have It Happens in printed form as a reference to keep on my bookshelf, too.
The very last chapter of It Happens is a call for readers of the book to advocate for contemporary YA fiction as a genre: to read extensively, and work hard to promote strong titles and get them into readers' hands. For example, Kelly suggests nominating strong contemporary YA titles for the YALSA and Cybils awards. [I, of course, especially appreciated several Cybils references throughout the book.] This is a positive note on which to leave readers, giving them strong next steps to take.
I will also admit that I found parts of the book a bit physically difficult to read. It Happens is an oversize paperback, and while the format works well for the chapters with book descriptions, it's not quite a comfortable fit to put the book on your lap and read the first section straight through. Also, this section includes quite a few text boxes, set aside from the main text. Some of the text boxes were excerpts of the main text, while others were supplemental. I found this a bit confusing. Visually, the text boxes keep the oversized book from appearing too dense in the non-booklist sections, but functionally, I thought that the ones that didn't provide new information would have been better left out. But that's the most critical thing I have to say in my evaluation of the book.
All in all, I think that It Happens is a useful resource for anyone who evaluates young adult fiction, including blogging reviewers like me. For those are true gatekeepers, out there in the trenches getting books into the hands of teens, it is essential. Highly recommended.
Publisher: VOYA Press (@VOYAMagazine)
Publication Date: August 15, 2014
Source of Book: Won from the author in a raffle
FTC Required Disclosure:
This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison’s life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28.
Who was Addison Stone? I'll never really know; we never met. I followed her from afar, a bright light in the dark. I studied her moves, her looks, read every magazine article and online tabloid tidbit. I envied her artwork and the apparent ease with which she produced it. I've tried to paint like her, but it's no use; we're worlds apart in every way.
I had a Google Alert set to inform me of her latest shenanigans. But I wasn't prepared for the deluge come July 29th; I clicked the link where the message was clipped, and it kept going. Tons of speculation, but no clear picture. Did she jump? Was she pushed? Or was it just a tragic accident borne of carelessness, a gust of wind in the wrong direction? I'll never really know, though I still get alerts every day. Even now the so-called news outlets and online gossips can't say.
The girl is gone, but her memory lives; I can close my eyes and see her clearly.
I'm Not Here, Alethea Allarey (2014).
Acrylic on canvas. 11" x 14".
About the book
Two-time National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin offers an ingenious fictional take on celebrity biography, as told in first person interviews through the eyes of Addison Stone's parents, friends, boyfriends, mentors, critics, and more-punctuated in full color with Addison's artwork, photographs, and emails. When it comes to Addison's untimely and mysterious death, nobody escapes unscathed.
Adele Griffin is a two-time National Book Award Finalist and the highly acclaimed author of numerous books for young adult and middle grade readers. Her works include Sons of Liberty and Where I Want to Be, as well as the popular Witch Twins and Vampire Island series. Adele lives with her husband, Erich; their two young children; and their dog, Edith, in Brooklyn, New York.
I am super excited to finally reveal the book trailer for
Queen of Someday: A Stolen Empire Novel
Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.
Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.
Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.
What people are saying about Queen of Someday:
"Love, betrayal, adventure and hard decisions that have no "right answer"... Russian Court is an exercise in "survival of the fittest" and Queen of Someday is a beautiful start to the journey of an innocent young girl growing into one of the greatest leaders of all time." ~June Stevens, author
"I was caught hook, line and sinker with this novel about a young girl's battle in a world that seems perfect on the surface, but is sinister and twisted underneath. I think one of the reasons I loved this book so much is because there was no fantasy or paranormal element the book. I would have loved it just as much if there had been, but to see that somewhere seemingly so safe could be so deadly, without a hint of magic or witchcraft, was haunting." ~Bonfire Book Reviews
"Queen of Someday" is a guilty pleasure read. Just like CW shows and Lifetime movies, it's full of drama, scandal and betrayal. And I just couldn't look away. I found myself gasping and grinning maniacally at every turn. Sophie's schemes delighted me in a way that made me question my own sanity. I enjoyed "Queen of Someday" in the same way that one enjoys CW shows; the melodrama is strangely addictive, but I'm embarrassed to admit exactly how much I enjoyed it." ~The Nerdy Journalist reviews