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It’s been a little while since I’ve written a post. Next week I’ll have a new illustrated story for you, but today, just for fun I wanted to have a giveaway.
Enter to win your very own “Napping Fawn Print”.
To enter either comment on this post, or signup to receive these blog posts by email (over there on the left). You won’t get spammed or anything you’ll just get my blog posts in your email. If you are already signed up with your email just post a comment below so so I know you want to enter. You can sign up and post a comment if you want but you’ll only be entered once.
Don’t know what to comment? Just let me know which of my blog posts has been the most useful, or fun. That way I can make more of them.
Then after you’ve commented, or signed up follow this link to facebook and like or share or comment on the post.
You have until March 11, at 12:00pm to enter. The winner will be chosen at random next Thursday.
We have two fun things for you today–A Darker Shade of Magic prize pack and a quick visit from V.E. Schwab as part of the official blog tour! The book was just released this week and reviewed by Kim–I’m in the middle of the book myself and I can see why she lavished it such glowing praise. In the book, which takes place in multiple alternate universe Londons, one character observes, “No London is truly without magic.” Kim’s question for our stop on the official blog tour: What are the most magical parts of London to you? V.E. Schwab: I grew up wanting the world to be stranger than it was, and because of that, I’m inclined to look for—and see—the potential for the magical, the fantastical, the extraordinary everywhere I look. In alleys and doorways and in the seams between places—and in the case of ADSOM, between worlds—anywhere there’s... Read more »
About the Book: Did you know a gravy boat can change your life? Charlotte and Tobias Eggers do. After a prank on their terrible nanny involving gravy and tadpoles ends in a misunderstanding, Charlotte and Tobias's father packs them in the car, drives them to the desert, and leaves them outside of Witherwood Reform School. Before he can change his mind, a car accident leaves him with amnesia. Charlotte and Tobias have no choice but to enter Witherwood Reform School with is odd teachers, fierce animals, and unending chocolate pudding. But Witterwood is no ordinary school-the headmaster has perfected mind control. Can Charlotte and Tobias escape before it's too late?
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Obert Skye is a middle grade reader favorite at my library. He's a regular fixture at our local children's lit festival and he makes quite an impression on the kids. Each year I have a new group coming into the library asking for his books and eagerly wanting more. I'm delighted to report that Mr. Skye has a new series and it's one I know my fans will devour!
Charlotte and Tobias are pranksters and they're also very smart. They know to question things about their new school and they're determined to figure out the secrets of Witherwood. But what happens when the school gets the best of them and they get sucked in? And what happens when your father doesn't even remember that he's looking for you?
Witherwood Reform School is the first in a new series that is perfect for readers who enjoy their humor to be a little dark, their characters slightly mischievous, and mysteries with a side of suspense. Told in the vein of Lemony Snickett and Jason Segal's Nightmares, readers who want something that's just a bit dark, just a tad creepy, and with a slight silliness will be sure to be lining up to get their hands on this one. There are plenty of questions remaining about this mysterious reform school so readers will be eagerly anticipating book two.
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent by publisher
Want to win a copy? Fill out the form below to enter! One entry per person US Address only Contest ends March 10 Loading...
THE STORYSPINNERThe Keepers' Chronicles #1by Becky WallaceHardcover: 432 pagesPublisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (March 3, 2015)Language: English Goodreads | Amazon
Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.In a world where dukes plot their way to
I was originally going to do a Top 7 post this week, and I’m moving it to next week because something amazing happened today. Kat Kennedy from Cuddlebuggery organized an amazing 60+ blog tour in support of #LastListEgmont for today, March 2nd. Check out various interviews and guest posts by yours truly as well as other Egmont authors. We are blown away by the generosity and pure awesomeness of Kat and all the bloggers who participated. To highlight just a few, Jade at the BedtimeBookworm asked me the hardest part of writing a sequel, Shannon at ItStartsAtMidnight asks me what kept me (mostly) sane during the sequel drafting and she’s doing at INTERNATIONAL giveaway of STRANGE SKIES, and Erin at TheBookNut asks about my writing rituals and is also doing an INTERNATIONAL giveaway of STRANGE SKIES. If you follow me on Twitter (you are, right?), then you’ll see the other interviews and giveaways as I tweet them. Good luck and see you next week for my Top 7 post.
Welcome to the Last List Blog Hop!
As most of you know, Egmont recently closed its doors, leaving its YA and MG’s List authors in a bad situation. Anyone who knows anything about publishing knows that this is a huge blow to the authors and the books they’ve worked so hard on.
We thought to ourselves, what can we do to help? And maybe some of you are doing the same.
It's Oscar week! It kind of snuck up on me, to tell you the truth...
In case you're wondering why it matters: Double Vision: The Alias Men (Linc's third adventure) sets in Hollywood, with the final scenes during the Academy Awards. It was a lot of fun to take the story there. The ending is pretty over-the-top--such a blast to write.
To celebrate, I thought I'd give away a copy (U.S. only, postage is wicked expensive overseas...) of Double Vision: The Alias Men. Later this week, I'll share some resources I found during my research for the book--all about Charlie Chaplin, silent films, and Hollywood history. Cool stuff.
Well, this one took me completely by surprise. I had enjoyed The Bone Season, but with reservations, considering how long it took me to really understand the incredible world Samantha Shannon has built for us. It took me very little time at all, however, to disappear into the pages of this second installment of the genre bending series. At once futuristic and Victorian, The Mime Order is a fantastical, dystopian, paranormal murder mystery, and I couldn’t get enough of it. This a lush and opulent storyworld, one that unfolds in intricate detail and rewards the reader for their patience. It is perfect for character readers and for anyone who would love a series that offers a “crash course” in the nuances of its world (like me! I am one of those people!). Reading this, and even though it is third person, I felt like I was walking with Paige through... Read more »
Today is an exciting day for me, because I have the great pleasure of introducing you to R.C. Lewis, the author of STITCHING SNOW and the upcoming SPINNING STARLIGHT!
I’m currently reading STITCHING SNOW, and I’m loving it! If you’re a fan of exciting sci-fi, filled with original characters and set in an amazing world, you need to check this out! Kirkus calls it a “clever, surprisingly gritty science-fiction version” of Snow White. (That grittiness is what I’m enjoying most about the book!) And now is the time to read STITCHING SNOW, so you’re ready to read its companion book, SPINNING STARLIGHT, when it’s released this fall.
Here’s a synopsis of STITCHING SNOW:
Princess Snow is missing.
Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.
Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.
When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.
Fantastic, right?! And just to add to the excitement, here’s what you can look forward to in SPINNING STARLIGHT:
Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.
Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.
Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?
Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.
We’re so lucky to have R.C. Lewis here today to talk about fairytale retellings, the concept of a “companion book,” and so much more! (AND… there’s a giveaway! More on that at the end. :D)
Thank you for visiting us here at PubCrawl today! I’m excited to learn more about your books, since they interweave fairytale and science fiction so seamlessly. Have you always been drawn to fairytales?
Actually … no. It was kind of a twist of fate that Stitching Snow came out at all. There’s a line in the Florence + The Machine song “Blinding” about Snow White stitching up a circuit board. I heard that once, and an image popped into my head. Before that, it never occurred to me to try a fairytale retelling.
Spinning Starlight is being described as a “companion book” to Stitching Snow. Does that mean it’s not a sequel?
Not a sequel at all. In fact, not even in the same imagined universe. However, they go together well because it’s another sci-fi take on a fairytale—this time Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans.”
How did you decide to write a re-telling of The Wild Swans? Until I learned of your book I was unfamiliar with the fairytale. Was it your intention to retell a story that wasn’t well known?
This is basically the opposite of how Stitching Snow came about. My editor and I decided to have another fairytale follow up Stitching Snow, so I had to go out and find one. We didn’t want something that’s been retold to death (which eliminates a LOT of the most recognizable tales), but also didn’t want something too obscure. I got some fairytale anthologies and started reading, making notes about how I might put a sci-fi twist on it (not always an easy task!), and picked the one that called to me the loudest.
I worried that The Wild Swans might fall into the too obscure camp, because I wasn’t terribly familiar with it before I began. But as soon as I mentioned it to several friends, they said, “I love that one—it’s my favorite! I’ve always wanted someone to do a retelling of it!” That was good enough for me.
Can you tell us a little bit about the original story? What drew you to it?
I mentioned a little of it above, but a big part of why I picked this one is the way it focuses on a family relationship. It’s about a girl trying to save her brothers, no dashing prince rushing in to save the day. In fact, in the original, a king rather randomly marries the protagonist while she carries on trying to help her brothers, which ends up getting her in trouble.
Not to say there isn’t some romance in my version…
Maybe I also welcomed a challenge, because I quickly decided one part of the original I wanted to keep (somehow) was the protagonist being unable to speak until her brothers are saved. Not easy!
It seems like the young adult book world has been dominated by series for a while now, but lately it feels like that trend is changing somewhat. Do you feel that the concept of a companion book is something your readers are excited about?
It seems like it from the responses I’ve been getting! A few readers of Stitching Snow were hoping for a sequel (which I never intended it to have), but seem willing to accept this as the next best thing. And a lot of people felt Stitching Snow being a standalone was a strong selling point, yet were eager for something in the same vein, so hopefully this will satisfy them, too.
What can fans of Stitching Snow look forward to most in Spinning Starlight?
Unfortunately, Dimwit does not make a return appearance. (Like I said, separate universe.) My main character Liddi is very different from Essie (the main character of Stitching Snow), but I hope readers will enjoy her journey as she goes from paparazzi-hounded misfit of a famous family to someone who must fend for herself and take risks to save her brothers when no one else can. She also makes some interesting friends along the way … some of them coming from VERY unexpected places.
SPINNING STARLIGHT sounds fantastic! I’m so excited for it, and I’m still reading STITCHING SNOW! Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by to talk to us about your writing process!
And now the giveaway! We are giving away an ARC of SPINNING STARLIGHT! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. R.C. will send the winner an ARC as soon as they are available!
About the author:
R.C. Lewis has taught math to teenagers for over ten years, including several where she found calculus is just as fun in American Sign Language. After a lifetime of thinking she didn’t have an ounce of creativity, she realized she just needed to switch to metric. When she escapes the classroom, she writes geek-infused YA like Stitching Snow (2014, Hyperion) and Spinning Starlight (2015, Hyperion). a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the Book: This is the history of the end of the world. After an accident in their small Iowa town, Austin and his best friend Robby, and his girlfriend Shann, are caught in the end of the world. Giant six-foot-tall unstoppable praying mantises are hatching. It's up to Robby and Austin to save the world. But Austin is dealing with teenage emotions and hormones and is caught between his love for Shann and Robby. Survival, hormones, and giant man-eating bugs-you know what I mean.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: There's a reason the tour for Grasshopper Jungle and the upcoming book The Alex Crow is titled "Keep YA Weird." Ask anyone about Grasshopper Jungle and I'm sure one of the first things they will say is "it's weird." Yep, it's weird. But it's also very good.
Yes, the book is about giant praying mantises that hatch, mate, and eat as they take over the world. But that's just one part and actually it's not the biggest part of the novel. This is more Austin's story about figuring out his history, his story, and dealing with his conflicted feelings about Robby and Shann. I saw someone describe it on Facebook as a "bi-gay-straight love triangle set at the end of the world" and I think that's a pretty good description.
We recently read Grasshopper Jungle for my book club and I mentioned how it's a bit of a "coming-of-age" novel (even though I really hate that term) and someone else pointed out that they didn't think Austin ever really comes of age. Austin is "selfish" as Robby describes in the novel and I don't know that even by the end of the book he is less selfish or any less conflicted. But that's part of what makes Grasshopper Jungle so good. There are no happy endings or easily resolved conflicts. This is a history and history is messy and confusing. Life doesn't always make sense.
I actually really loved Austin and Robby and loved their relationship. I liked Shann alright too, but I felt her character kind of got dropped about halfway through (this is Austin telling the story after all) but I would have liked to know more about Shann towards the end of the book as well. But back to Austin and Robby. Austin often refers to Robby as a hero and Robby is just so even-keeled and kind that I felt like I would be friends with Robby in real life. (I'd probably be friends with Austin too, but I think I would be just as annoyed with him as his friends are.) Robby really shines throughout, partly because of his actions and partly because of the way Austin talks about him. But Robby is a fantastic character and I absolutely loved the dialogue and the interplay between Robby and Austin.
Austin recording of history is honest and hilarious. He points out how roads converge and I found all of his recordings digging deeper into his own history as well as what else happened to have everyone end up at this moment fascinating. His job as historian is one he takes seriously and his comments are wry and serious which also makes them funny. And this is a teenage boy we're talking about here, recording a very honest history of being seventeen, so there is a lot of talk about being horny, having sex, and thinking about sex. Yet I never found any of it graphic or out of place. It fit Austin's history. The most gruesome thing in the book is all of the bugs eating people, which would often feel very Twilight Zoney or like a B-Science Fiction movie.
There are many ways you could sell Grashopper Jungle to readers. It's a science fiction end of the world story, giant bugs who eat people, a love triangle, or a boy trying to get a handle on life and figure things out. But any way you sell it to readers, I think it will be enjoyed. It's a weird, crazy book that I had a ton of fun with. And I'm so glad Andrew Smith is keeping YA weird.
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley received at ALA conference from publisher Thanks to Penguin and Keeping YA Weird, I have a copy of Grasshopper Jungle to giveaway! One lucky winner will get to enjoy the weirdness! Fill out the form below. One entry per person, US Address only please. Contest ends March 1. And stay tuned for more Keep YA Weird giveaways and a review of The Alex Crow! Loading...Add a Comment
I honestly never thought I'd still be blogging in the sixth form. I thought I'd have given up some time around my GCSEs. And I did think about it. Many times. But I also thought I couldn't leave the community of the many friends I have gained through starting blogging, all the people I've met, all the things I wouldn't have done.
I've been to publisher launches (Love you, Hot Key Books. RIP, Strange Chemistry!). I've hosted semi-successful events (Rainbow Reads, The Month Before Halloween). I've written for The Guardian and been featured on it too. I've read much more widely than I would have done. I've met too many people to list, and been in contact with so many more.
I haven't been brilliant at it. Output has drastically fallen and attempts to increase it must be delayed until after coursework.
But this blog is still alive, and that calls for celebration.
So, international giveaway time!
TWO winners will each get to pick books that I have featured on the blog, to a value of up to £10 from The Book Depository. They could have been my wishlist, books I recieved, books I reviewed, anything. Just have a browse. If I convinced you to try a book, please say! The rafflecopter below lets you enter, and you can earn extra by sharing the word. The giveaway ends at the end of Sunday 15 March 2015. Good luck!
Check out the cover for Mirrored by Alex Flinn (HarperTeen, fall 2015). From the promotional copy:
Mirror, mirror in my hand…
Beauty is the key to everything. At least, that’s how it seems to Violet—ugly, bullied, and lonely.
To be beautiful, in her eyes, is to have power and love. And when Kendra, the witch, teaches Violet how to use magic, she may finally get what she wants. For Celine, beautiful since birth, her looks have been a hindrance. She discovers that beauty is also a threat—especially to her stepmother, Violet, who doesn’t want anyone sharing the attention she worked so hard to get and who will do anything to be the fairest of them all. But beauty isn’t only skin deep and love isn’t based on looks alone. And though Violet and Celine may seem to be completely opposite, their lives are almost…MIRRORED.
Enter to win one of three signed copies of Towering by Alex Flinn (HarperTeen) U.S. only. From the promotional copy:
New York Times #1 bestselling author Alex Flinn reimagined the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast in Beastly and gave a twist to the story of Sleeping Beauty in A Kiss in Time.
Now with her gothic and darkly romantic YA novel Towering, Alex Flinn retells the tale of Rapunzel. When Rachel was taken to live in a tower by a woman she calls Mama, she was excited. She felt like a princess in a castle. But many years later, Rachel knows her palace is really a prison, and begins to plan her escape.
She is encouraged by the speed with which her golden hair has been growing. It's gotten long enough to reach the ground. And she's begun dreaming of a green-eyed man.
Could he be out there in the world? Is he coming to save her? Or will she find a way to save herself?
While all the books can stand alone, there's likely best appreciated in concert.
This finale unites protagonists of the two series and brings back a number of other fan-fave characters.
What's more today's paperback release of Feral Curse by Candlewick means that all but that last book in the series are available in paperback from Candlewick (plus, they're all available in e-format and most are available on audio).
So to sum up, we're talking nine novels (including two graphic novels, illustrated by Ming Doyle) and three short stories set in the Tantalize-Feral universe.
The early notes on the first book are dated 2000 and the last novel is out today.
The whole shebang totals out at 458,169 words (and I write tight).
Thanks to all who've joined and supported me along the way!
Anti-shifter sentiment is at an all-time high when Kayla’s transformation to werecat is captured on video and uploaded for the world to see. Suddenly she becomes a symbol of the werebeast threat and—along with fellow cat Yoshi, Lion-Possum Clyde, and human Aimee—a hunted fugitive. Meanwhile, a self-proclaimed weresnake has kidnapped the governor of Texas and hit the airwaves with a message of war. In retaliation, werepeople are targeted by law enforcement, threatened with a shift-suppressing vaccine, terrorized by corporate conspiracy, and enslaved by a top-secret, intelligent Cryptid species. Can Clyde rally his inner lion king to lead his friends—new and old—into battle against ruthless, media-savvy foes? A rousing blend of suspense, paranormal romance, humor, and high action. The explosive finale to the Feral series by New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith.
"Smith’s ability to mix the paranormal and the divine with sexy, wisecracking humor, youthful optimism, and fast-paced action has been a hallmark of this entertaining series.
Fans will not be disappointed.
"HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Smith's fantasies have earned her an army of fans, and this trilogy-ender—that connects two series, no less—will have high visibility."
"...the wickedly funny, quickly paced style is anchored by the novel's underlying theme of the marginalization of people and its effects, both those obvious ('Our legal rights are slippery,' explains Kayla) and more insidiously subtle (like the wedge driven between Clyde, a werepossum/werelion hybrid, and his human girlfriend, Aimee, because of her father's prejudice). "...witty, smart and moving—sure to satisfy..."
"Since this Feral trilogy–ender also wraps up its companion series Tantalize, several major characters from those books appear here, but Clyde, Aimee, Yoshi, and Kayla ably carry this series right up to its bittersweet conclusion. Kayla’s full acceptance of her animal self, and the courage she gains in that acceptance, is particularly compelling. With its sharp humor and fully realized characters, this urban fantasy will leave readers hoping for another series from Smith—and soon."
-The Horn Book
"Smith once again weaves an action-packed plotline with campy alternating narration by Clyde, Aimee, Kayla, and Yoshi, all while dealing with the complex themes of acceptance, tolerance, freedom, and self-esteem. All this is done in a nonpreachy style to which readers can easily relate. A successful conclusion to a thought-provoking series."
-School Library Journal
"...the chance for alternative interpretations of who the shifter community could represent —
any group reviled by those who consider themselves mainstream —
make this series as meaty as it is entertaining."
-The Austin American-Statesman
Enter to win one of three copies of Feral Pride in hardcover or Feral Curse in paperback (both Candlewick, 2015). Publisher sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. only.
Sometimes it can be helpful to think about endings when you’re at the beginning of the process—not plotting the ending, but doing a bit of free, no-holds-barred thinking about your character’s emotional inner journey and where you hope she goes.
This is what you write towards, that hope you have for her in your heart. Your plot is moving toward something, a climax that, especially in YA, results in some sort of self-discovery on the protagonist’s part, a revelation about the world and their place in it.
In real life, we have no idea what comes next. Our journeys are fraught with the unexpected. But we often know where we want to go, don’t we? Thus, much of what we experience comes from what we put out into the world and the choices we make.
It’s not a surprise to see where we’ve ended up once we go back and connect the dots. It’s often inevitable. In fact, when we do this work, we see how much of a hand we have in our own fate regardless of who’s pulling the strings of our future.
So how can our protagonists experience this inevitability if we’ve imposed a plot on them with a preconceived notion about what exactly is going to happen?
The key is to have an idea about where you want that character to end up emotionally. Not, “she’s going to be the queen,” so much as, “she’s going to be in a place of power, secure and finally free of the demons of her past.” With the former, we’ve decided on a fixed ending, forcing the plot to get in line. With the latter, we’ve left room for our character to influence her own fate, for the dots to connect in such a way that the story arc parallels the emotional one.
Tolkien touches on plot in a way no one else does when he discusses the concept of “eucatastrophe.” It’s a fancy word for the feeling you get when you finish reading a novel and you think, Yes, this is the only way it could have happened.
Eucatastrophe is inevitable. It’s true and organic. It’s not about a happy ending, it’s about it being the only possible ending.
In his essay "On Fairy Stories," Tolkien describes eucatastrophe as a “turn”: “a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by tears)…It reflects a glory backwards.”
This glory backwards means that you should be able to go from your climax all the way to the very beginning of your story and see that the protagonist was on the path to “glory” long before she ever realized it.
Try it for yourself. Close your eyes and envision your main character. Think about the possibilities of where she might end up. What do you hope for her at novel’s end?
What would be her “glory backwards”?
Got it? Good. Now this is the place you write from. Hold that hope in your heart, just like a parent would for their child, then give your protagonist room to live her life.
Lucky you, she’s letting you come along for the ride.
When she’s not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City.
Heather will be teaching up to six intermediate and advanced students during six sessions from March 11 to April 15 at Writespace in Houston. Note: Writers arrange their own most convenient classroom times and meetings with instructor. About the class:
Sometimes it feels like a story isn’t working. The voice might feel off, or the plot seems contrived. Perhaps scenes are reading dull or your main character feels paper-thin. You might have a brand new idea that you can’t seem to get off the ground because every plot point you think of feels like a cliché.
When a book isn’t working or a new project feels stunted, we’ve often lost sight of our work’s protagonist and secondary characters. Rather than listening to what our characters want and need, we have imposed a pre-conceived notion of what we think the book is supposed to be.
Regardless of whether you tend to write from a plot or character standpoint, being able to tune into your characters in order to find the truth of your novel is a useful skill for any writer.
In this six-week workshop, we’ll look at how to plot or revise your YA novel through exercises that will help you get out of your head and into the heart of your work. In addition to weekly writing exercises and submissions of your work for critique, we’ll consider new ways to access your character, such as through taking field trips with him or her, by creating music playlists, and other unique methods. Along the way, we’ll look at how this shift affects all elements of our work including voice, dialogue, structure, theme and—of course—plot.
This course is designed for intermediate to advanced writers working in any genre within YA. If you’re looking for a challenging, dynamic workshop that will take your writing to the next level, this workshop is for you.
Please be prepared to spend at least three hours a week on short reading assignments, your own writing, and online discussion. You will be asked to turn in two 10-page submissions of your novel for critique and to read two YA novels to enhance our discussion (if you'd like to get a head-start, please read the novels The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic, 2011) and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (Speak, 2011).
Together, we’ll create a supportive community through reading one another’s work, discussing the assigned reading, and sharing insights garnered from our exercises. Expect lively discussions and lots of fun!
Enter to win a five-to-ten page critique of your English-language young adult manuscript by Heather. Eligibility: international.
Is it possible to expose Chicago’s hottest player–without getting played? This is the story I’ve been waiting for all my life, and its name is Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint. Don’t be fooled by that last name though. There’s nothing holy about the man except the hell his parties raise. The hottest entrepreneur Chicago has ever known, he’s a man’s man with too much money to spend and too many women vying for his attention. Mysterious. Privileged. Legendary. His entire life he’s been surrounded by the press as they dig for tidbits to see if his fairytale life is for real or all mirrors and social media lies. Since he hit the scene, his secrets have been his and his alone to keep. And that’s where I come in.
Assigned to investigate Saint and reveal his elusive personality, I’m determined to make him the story that will change my career. But I never imagined he would change my life. Bit by bit, I start to wonder if I’m the one discovering him…or if he’s uncovering me.
What happens when the man they call Saint, makes you want to sin?
Author Bio: Katy Evans is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Real series.
The first book in her adult contemporary series, Manwhore, is to release in March 2015. To find more, please visit www.katyevans.net
It's time for a book review and giveaway! Be sure to read below how to enter for the drawing.
I’m so glad Zonderkidz is publishing I Can Read! books like A Father’s Love, part of the NIV Adventure Bible series.
A Father’s Loveis a level 2 book, which means it is a high interest story for developing readers.
The full-page, colorful illustrations are beautiful. Most of the thirty-two pages contain thirty words or less. Sentences are broken up into about ten words per line. The print is large and easy to read.
Of course, this is the familiar story Jesus told about a father and his sons. One son leaves his father and squanders his inheritance until he is eating with pigs. He decides to go home and ask for his father’s forgiveness. If you haven’t heard the story, I’ll not tell you the ending, but I will tell you that not everyone is happy to see the prodigal son.
This is a great story to share with youngsters. Most first – third grade students will find the text within their reading range.
A Father’s Love will open up discussions on responsibility, forgiveness, jealousy, and acceptance.
I highly recommend this well-written and beautifully illustrated book.
In fact, I plan to give a copy of this book away this week. Everyone who leaves a comment below will have their name placed in a drawing for the book. We’ll announce the winner at 3:00 p.m. (EST) March 7, 2015.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 Add a Comment
If you aren't familiar with this delightful biography of Sun Ra by Chris Raschka, you should be. Learn about the ways that this book is a perfect mentor text, and hear about the writing process from the author.
As much as we would like to commit our entire lives to writing, most of us live in the real world. We can’t afford to spend our time at Walden Pond or in a permanent, never-ending, writer’s retreat.
We fit in writing amongst our day jobs, our kids, our other commitments, and our daily lives.
This past year, I was blessed with a large amount of writing work. I was doing revisions and copy edits for Dinosaur Boy (2015), writing Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars (2016)(both Sourcebooks), and working on another project with my agent.
It was a crazy year, especially when you throw my two small kiddos into the mix.
I’m not saying that I managed to juggle everything perfectly. In fact, there were days and weeks there when I failed utterly. But I learned from the experience. And I ended up making ten promises to myself – commandments, if you will, for my future self – in the hopes that they will help me to stay sane and still produce work that I am proud of:
1. I will respect my writing time and hold it as sacred. It’s valuable and it’s worth defending and anybody who thinks otherwise just doesn’t get it and isn’t worthy of my attention.
2. I will recognize that despite my best efforts, there are days when writing Just. Isn’t. Happening. I will honor those days, and spend my time doing the Necessary Non-Writing Things, such as “Naming That Character in Chapter 4” or “Researching Chapter 9.”
3. I will recognize that there are days when even Necessary Non-Writing Things are too much. And on those days, I will reorganize my closet. Or bake things. Or binge watch "The Bachelor." Or do whatever else I need to do in order to regroup and recharge. I will take care of myself and I will not apologize for it.
4. I will hit my deadlines. Each and every time. Because I am a professional and that’s what professionals do.
5. I will plan for chaos. If I know it will take me ten days to do something, I will budget twelve. Because Things happen.
And the most likely time for Things to happen is right before a deadline. It’s like a main law of the universe.
6. I will be supportive of my fellow writers. I will root for them, laugh with them, cry with them, and commiserate with them. Because they are my people and they do the same for me.
7. I will not compare myself to other authors, my books to anybody else’s books, or my career to anybody else’s career. My journey is my own and I will respect it as such.
8. I will read. At least two books in my genre every month.
9. I will not sacrifice, in the name of “time management,” the thing that makes all the other things in my life possible. (We all have something, without which, the whole dang opry falls apart. For me, it’s my time spent on the treadmill. Whenever I have sacrificed this, in the name of “not having enough time” I have bitterly regretted it. I will make time for the things that matter.)
10. I will respect my own creative process and not pay undo attention to lists like this (which are, after all, written by other people about what works for them). I will do what works for me and it will be awesome.
If anyone has any further commandments to add to this list, I’m all ears! Who says we have to stop at ten, anyway? That’s like totally already been done.
Cory is a former lawyer, a former Californian, and a current Mexican food enthusiast. When she’s not writing, Cory enjoys running, cooking, and hanging out with her husband and their two kiddos.
Acclaimed writer Margo Rabb's Kissing in America is "a wonderful novel about friendship, love, travel, life, hope, poetry, intelligence, and the inner lives of girls," raves internationally bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love).
In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that's still so present.
Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who understands Eva's grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head over heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the West Coast to see Will again.
As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.
In this honest and emotional journey that National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr calls "gorgeous, funny, and joyous," readers will experience the highs of infatuation and the lows of heartache as Eva contends with love in all its forms.
For some people, starting a new novel is like that scene in "The Sound Of Music," where Maria’s tra-la-la-ing on a mountaintop, arms spread out, spinning in delirious joy.
If you’re like me, though, that blank white page isn’t cause for bursting into song.
Bursting into tears, yes. The endless possibilities are overwhelming, so many possible plots and characters to choose from—and what about voice, structure, tense and…and…and…
In order to banish the insanity and keep your freak-outs at bay, it can be tempting to hurry up and create a nice, tidy plot that you can stick characters into, much like those Velcro and felt landscapes in preschool classrooms. That’s certainly a way to go about it. And it just might work for some people.
However, I suspect that the difference between a great novel and a good novel may lie in how much freedom we give our characters.
All the fancy plot twists in the world won’t mean a thing if your reader doesn’t care about your protagonist. The best way to get them to care is to create a character who inhabits her world in such a way that the experiences she has (i.e. plot) are true reflections of her inner journey and her nature. This is how you avoid the pitfalls of the contrived plot, the unearned ending, the story that just won’t sing. So how do we do this?
First, we need to listen to our characters. This is impossible when we’re yammering on about what we want their story to be. Doesn’t your character have a say in what happens in her life?
While I believe it’s necessary to have some general idea of where you’re going with a story before you begin, the key is to be willing to throw that whole plot out the window if you have to.
Focus on your character, allowing the plot to come from her.
Put her in a situation—then see what she does.
Maybe you want her to kill someone but she shows an unexpected reluctance to go through with the deed. See how that reluctance plays out. Get to know your character so that you can get in her skin.
You can do this by:
daydreaming about her life,
journaling in her first-person POV about other characters and events in the story,
writing scenes from the POV of other characters so that you can secretly watch her and see what she does.
These are just a few ways you can get out of your head and into the heart of your story. Chances are, you’ll come up with unexpected ideas that are specific to your character and her story, not the regurgitated plot lines of other YA books.
You might feel as if you aren’t writing the story anymore, as if you are simply a conduit. If you’ve ever started writing and it suddenly morphed in amazing, unexpected ways, my guess is that this was a moment in which you—conscious of it or not—handed over the reigns to your character becoming, as Anne Lamott says in Bird By Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life, “the designated typist.”
When we become the designated typist, we let go of our need to control our novel and create space for organic work that radiates the kind of honesty that draws readers in and makes them fall in love with the characters and plot of your story.
So put the outline away, take a breath, and see what happens.
The result may just make you break into song: the page is alive, with the sound of…
You get it.
When she’s not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City.
Heather will be teaching up to six intermediate and advanced students during six sessions from March 11 to April 15 at Writespace in Houston. Note: Writers arrange their own most convenient classroom times and meetings with instructor. About the class:
"Sometimes it feels like a story isn’t working. The voice might feel off, or the plot seems contrived. Perhaps scenes are reading dull or your main character feels paper-thin. You might have a brand new idea that you can’t seem to get off the ground because every plot point you think of feels like a cliché. "When a book isn’t working or a new project feels stunted, we’ve often lost sight of our work’s protagonist and secondary characters. Rather than listening to what our characters want and need, we have imposed a pre-conceived notion of what we think the book is supposed to be. "Regardless of whether you tend to write from a plot or character standpoint, being able to tune into your characters in order to find the truth of your novel is a useful skill for any writer. "In this six-week workshop, we’ll look at how to plot or revise your YA novel through exercises that will help you get out of your head and into the heart of your work. In addition to weekly writing exercises and submissions of your work for critique, we’ll consider new ways to access your character, such as through taking field trips with him or her, by creating music playlists, and other unique methods. Along the way, we’ll look at how this shift affects all elements of our work including voice, dialogue, structure, theme and—of course—plot.
"This course is designed for intermediate to advanced writers working in any genre within YA. If you’re looking for a challenging, dynamic workshop that will take your writing to the next level, this workshop is for you. "Please be prepared to spend at least three hours a week on short reading assignments, your own writing, and online discussion. You will be asked to turn in two 10-page submissions of your novel for critique and to read two YA novels to enhance our discussion (if you'd like to get a head-start, please read the novels The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic, 2011) and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (Speak, 2011). "Together, we’ll create a supportive community through reading one another’s work, discussing the assigned reading, and sharing insights garnered from our exercises. Expect lively discussions and lots of fun!"
Enter to win a five-to-ten page critique of your English-language young adult manuscript by Heather. Eligibility: international.
About the Book: In this reimagining of "Jack and the Beanstalk," an unsuspecting girl brings one witch's magic into another witch's province, stirring certain disaster.
One Witch at a Time is a sequel to The Brixen Witch, but it can completely stand alone. It's a fun fairy tale retelling with a new spin and fairy tale fans are sure to love it.
I got to ask Stacy DeKeyser about her writing and love of fairy tales-I'm hoping she decides to explore those unanswered questions in Hansel and Gretel and gives us another book!
-What inspired you to write books with a fairy tale/folklore theme?
It started with the Pied Piper. There are so many unexplained things in that story. Why didn’t the villagers pay the piper for getting rid of the rats? And then, why did the piper take it out on the kids? I decided to try and write my own version of the Pied Piper story that answered some of those questions. The result was The Brixen Witch. Writing that book made me realize that every fairy tale has unanswered questions. For example, “Jack and the Beanstalk”: If Jack is clever enough to climb the beanstalk and steal stuff from the giant, how can he also be dumb enough to trade a cow for a handful of dried beans? I love exploring those questions and trying to fill in the blanks with plausible answers.
-Why do you write for middle grade readers?
Those were the books that made me a reader. And the themes that middle grade books explore—finding your place in the world, coming to terms with all the craziness life throws at you—have limitless possibilities, and they are topics that I still struggle with every day. I never get tired of writing about them. Lastly, I think middle grade books tend to preserve the most classic, traditional form of storytelling. (Sort of like fairy tales!) A middle grade book needs a good plot that keeps moving, and characters you care about. And the best stories broaden a reader’s experience while they entertain. That’s what I love to read, and it’s what I try to write.
-What book (or books) would you recommend for someone wanting to start reading middle grade?
Oh, wow, where do I start?
Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) and Because of Winn Dixie (Kate DiCamillo) both prove that a short, simple story can be very satisfying and profound. Any book by Barbara O’Connor. Historical fiction (Nory Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff is a favorite of mine) can make readers curious about the facts of history. If you think you don’t like poetry, try Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. And of course I love fantasy, especially Jonathan Stroud’s books. I love his long sentences and complex plots. I love how he never underestimates his readers.
-If you were trapped in a fairy tale, which one would you choose?
“Hansel and Gretel.” First of all, Gretel has a buddy, which would be nice. Secondly, she’s the hero of the story! She rescues her brother and kills the witch. And what’s going on with that witch, anyway? What makes her want to eat children? She’s clearly very clever, to build a whole cottage out of gingerbread. Couldn’t she put that talent to use for good instead of evil? I’d love to know her story.
Stacy DeKeyser is the author of The Brixen Witch, which received two starred reviews and was a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Pick, and its sequel, OneWitch at a Time, as well as the young adult novel, Jump the Cracks and two nonfiction books for young readers. She lives in Connecticut with her family. To learn more and to download a free, CCSS-aligned discussion guide, visit StacyDeKeyser.com.
One lucky winner will receive a set of Stacy DeKeyser’s bewitching reads for middle grades---ONEWITCH AT A TIME in hardcover and THE BRIXEN WITCH in paperback. (U.S. addresses only. One entry per person. Contest ends February 20) Leave a comment below to enter!
Follow the One Witch at a Time Tour for more about the book and more chances to win!
Happy Valentine’s Day and a very Happy International Book Giving Day!
Susan Stephenson and Emma Perry are kindred spirits when it comes to putting books into the hands of children. Now in it’s 4th year, International Book Giving Day continues to grow worldwide. Turning the commercialization of Valentine’s Day on it’s head, people are encouraged to spread the love of reading by getting as many books into the hands of children as possible.
Did You Know……
Most children in developing countries do not own books.
In the United Kingdom, one-third of children do not own books.
In the United States, two-thirds of children living in poverty do not own books.
Along with giving books to children on this day, The International Book Giving Day organization encourage people to support the work of nonprofit organizations (i.e. charities) that work year round to give books to children, such as Room to Read (international), Books for Africa (international), Book Aid International (international), The Book Bus (international), First Book (U.S.), Reading is Fundamental (U.S.), Reach Out and Read (U.S.), Pratham Books (India), Indigenous Literacy Foundation (Australia), The Footpath Library (Australia), Nal’ibali (South Africa) and Duffy Books in Homes (New Zealand).
Keeping with the “giving” theme, I’m going to give away a few book bundles here. Please be sure to sign up on the Rafflecopter below and WIN SOME BOOKS!
OTHER BOOK GIVING IDEAS
The International Book Giving Day site has their top ten tips for creating a Children’s Book Swap for your city and I LOVE these ideas!
But I also wanted to put my own “spin” on “book swapping” and do it Jump Into a Book-style. As you may already know, I am a huge advocate for not just reading children’s literature, but also bring the stories to life through what I call Book Jumping.
Book Jumping: The act of taking the solitary act of reading a book and transforming it into a event to be shared with other. It’s the act of pulling books off shelves and stories off pages. It’s the act of making kids books come ALIVE and living inside the pages. It’s creating places of magic and wonder, without ever leaving the house.
You Know You Are A Book Jumper When
Instead of using words like “read” or “enjoy”, you use “enter.” As in; “enter one of the most beloved children’s tales of all time.”
Reading a book is a group activity, not a solitary event.
You need to fill a “supply list” before you begin a new chapter.
So based on this idea I want to encourage young readers, moms, parents, teachers and librarians every where to not only “swap” books, but “Swap” ideas on how to bring those books to life.
During our wildly successful second-annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day we created a special celebration and venue for bloggers to do book reviews and share activities that went with the multicultural children’s books they were reviewing. The result is a HUGE blogger link-up that is the motherlode of amazing books and activities that celebrate diversity in children’s literature. Our #ReadYourWorld Multicultural Children’s Book Day Linky has 234 books reviews & activities and is still going strong! You can see it here.
Now, let’s give away some BOOKS!
THREE lucky winners (Open to USA residents only) will win a very special 5 book bundle of multicultural children’s book titles!
ONE winner will receive a 5 book bundle. Giveaway begins 2-14-15 and ends 2-21-15
Giveaway open to US addresses only
THREE lucky winners will each win one book bundle.
Residents of USA only please.
Must be 18 years or older to enter
One entry per household.
Staff and family members of Audrey Press are not eligible.
Giveaway ends on 2-21-15 and winners have 48 hours to claim their prize