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Happy 14th Day: October!

Happy October! For those of you who celebrate Halloween, or the changing of seasons, or Pumpkin Spice in everything, it’s a good month.

 

Now, our news:

Jaye Robin Brown‘s book, No Place to Fall, was recently reviewed by some big-hitters.

School Library Journal had this to say about Jaye Robin Brown’s No Place to Fall:
“Debut author Brown is off to a wonderful start with authentic characters who speak in true voices. Amber could be the best friend you had in high school—she’s funny and moody and truthful and absolutely the real deal, and readers will clamor for another well-paced story featuring her and her friends.”

And from Publisher’s Weekly:
“Debut author Brown makes a small town in North Carolina —where everyone knows everyone, and the outside world comes in via the Appalachian Trail hikers – fee real, but the heart of the story is Amber, as tries to find herself, love, and her voice.”

And Kirkus Reviews:
“Southern charm oozes off the page….the read is an enjoyable ride.”

(I have to check out this book for several reasons, not the least of which is because the main character and I have the same name.)

NextOtherbound by Corinne Duyvis, Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley, and The Chance you Won’t Return by Annie Cardi were included in this list of “11 Great Debut Novels” by Kirkus Reviews!

And finally, Dahlia Adler’s debut, Behind the Scenes, got a makeover cover, and it’s awesome:

btslightersunset

This month’s news is short but sweet! Enjoy the rest of October. Watch out for large pumpkins.

 

 

Amber Lough lives with her husband and two kids in Germany. She spent much of her childhood in Japan and Bahrain. Later, she returned to the Middle East as an Air Force intelligence officer to spend eight months in Baghdad, where the ancient sands still echo the voices lost to wind and time. Her Middle Eastern fantasy, THE FIRE WISH, debuted this July 2014 from Random House Books for Young Readers.
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Mad For Middle Grade: Villainous Tricks and Treats

Welcome to MAD FOR MIDDLE GRADE!  We’re here the first Monday of every month, discussing middle grade writing, chatting about from our favorite middle grade books, introducing our own middle grade titles, sharing middle grade writing advice, and generally obsess over everything middle grade! And if there’s any middle grade topic you’re interested in, we’d love to hear it in the comments!

What’s not to love about the Halloween time? There are pumpkin spiced lattes, candy, costumes, hayrides, and most importantly… SCARY, EVIL BEINGS! There’s a real art to creating a convincing villain, so we’re here today to shed some advice on how to approach the task.

Question: How do you create good antagonists or roadblocks for characters? Share your villainous tricks and treats! 

Rebecca Petruck
STEERING TOWARD NORMAL
Abrams/Amulet

2014-09-29 16.37.53

The scariest villains are the ones we carry inside us. Being the person we want to be in the face of serious challenges can feel impossible, and in some moments is impossible. But those bad moments only define us if we let them. It seems like it should be easy to let go of the memories of things we’re not proud of and move forward as a better person. But feelings like envy, jealousy, anger, fear, doubt, and insecurity are clingy little dingleberries. Defeating our inner villain who wants everything his way right now without having to fight for it or compromise can be our greatest battle. Yet winning has the kind of long-term effects that can create a life we’re proud of—even if sometimes we just have to through some cow poop to get it out of our systems.

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Dana Alison Levy
THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHERDAL_Costume_OneFour
Delacorte/Random House

Personally, I find it far more difficult to write good villains than good heroes. After all, a good villain should be bad, sure, but also interesting, complicated, and have a story of his or her own. In THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER I didn’t really have a villain, (though some might have thought of Mr. Nelson that way at first). But I have worked on other stories with a more traditional bad guy (or bad gal!) and I think the only “trick” to writing a good one is to make her (or him) as full a character as possible. Does she love her dog? Does she laugh at puns? Does he only pursue his evil goal because of a desire to help someone else? If an author works to understand the villain readers are “treated” to a far better story!

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Lauren Magaziner
Lauren Witch HatTHE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES
Dial/Penguin

Writing a villain for middle grade can be especially difficult. Without enough villainous “oomph,” an antagonist would be boring and give no stakes to your story–but at the same time, a villain can easily become too scary or menacing. I think the key is to balance a little bit of humor with the more threatening parts. For example, in one moment in The Only Thing Worse Than Witches the dreadful Mrs. Frabbleknacker makes children stand on their heads until their words come out backwards. It’s a funny kind of threat–something that is actually rather horrible when you really think about it, but so entrenched in humor that it feels almost safe. Almost. (Muahahaha.)

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Robin Herrera
2014-10-01 04_19_43HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL
Amulet Books

I hope that people are surprised to learn that Mr. Savage, one of the “villains” of HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL, is based on myself. Creating a good villain starts with understanding your villain. The villain is the hero of their own story! In Mr. Savage’s world, he is the heroic teacher hired to shape and mold the minds of young 4th and 5th graders. Star Mackie is the villain of his world, and she’s about to start a rebellion in his own classroom! The only way to stop it is to assert himself in front of his students, belittling Star in the process. When you think about it that way, Star is kind of a huge jerk. (Just kidding! Mr. Savage still wins the jerk award.)

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Louise Galvestonmongeepoo
BY THE GRACE OF TODD
Razorbill/Penguin

Bad guys aren’t born, they become. Understanding what warped a villain’s personality is key, even if it takes a while to be revealed. In By the Grace of Todd, Max is evil incarnate to Todd and his tiny Toddlians. But in the sequel, In Todd We Trust, we see that Max is terrified of his big brother, and get a glimpse of the treatment he’s faced that causes him to torment others. I also believe bad guys can be redeemed, as in Ernie, Todd’s elementary school nemesis who does an about face in middle school and becomes Todd and Duddy’s buddy. (I’m dressed as Mongee Poo, a hero from Todd’s favorite anime series Dragon Sensei. Hoo hoo hi-yah!)

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Matt London
10362515_927717525241_7320697419049827655_n THE 8TH CONTINENT
Razorbill/Penguin

I’ve always believed that what makes readers LOATHE a villain is when the baddie gets away with something terrible. So I try to make sure my villains get away with everything! The villain of THE 8TH CONTINENT is Vesuvia Piffle, the ten year old super secret CEO of the Condo Real Estate Corporation. She is rotten! But she is also convinced she’s doing the right thing. And that makes her all the scarier.

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Ryan Gehart
THERE WILL BE BEARSbearrcoat
Candlewick Press

It would appear that Sandy, the vicious grizzly bear prowling the Bridger-Teton National Park who killed two hunters from Ohio would be the villain in BEARS, but she’s anything but. Tyson wants nothing more than to see her. It’s everything that’s getting in the way of the trip that’s antagonizing him. It’s the realities of adulthood, of his beloved grandfather who was supposed to take him to the Tetons get put into a nursing home instead. And as Tyson puts it: being an adult sucks.

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Two more posts left in our Mad For Middle Grade series! Are there any middle grade topics you want to hear about? Let us know!

See you on Monday November 3rd! And remember: the best way to stop an evil villain in his or her tracks is a pie in the face (……or maybe just a fantastic protagonist).

Lauren Magaziner is a 4th grader at heart, watches way too much TV, and loves to steal people’s toes to make Toecorn, which tastes like chewy, meaty popcorn. Only one of those is true. (Okay… you caught me. They’re all true.) Her MG debut THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES—about a boy who becomes a witchling’s apprentice in a town full of dangerous, Toecorn-loving witches—is available now from Dial/Penguin.
 
 
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LIES WE TELL OURSELVES Release Day

It’s incredibly surreal to think that this day has actually come. You spend years, probably decades, anticipating it. It’s like waiting for Christmas when you were a kid. The day itself always seemed so impossibly far away that your whole life was just anticipation.

But the anticipation is over ― and my first book, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES, is here. It’s in stores! It’s got an actual “Order” button on websites! (Preordering is so yesterday.)

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Synopsis:

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

Advance praise for LIES WE TELL OURSELVES:

“A beautifully written and compelling read.” – School Library Journal

“A well-handled debut.” – Booklist

“A piercing look at the courage it takes to endure…forms of extreme hatred, violence, racism and sexism.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The big issues of school desegregation in the 1950s, interracial dating, and same-sex couples have the potential to be too much for one novel, but the author handles all with aplomb. What makes it even better is that both Linda’s and Sarah’s points of view are revealed as the novel unfolds, giving meaning to their indoctrinated views. Educators looking for materials to support the civil rights movement will find a gem in this novel, and librarians seeking titles for their LGBT displays should have this novel on hand…. This is a meaningful tale about integration.” – VOYA

Lies We Tell Ourselves is a phenomenal story of two high-school seniors experiencing desegregation for the first time in their Virginia school. The story provides no easy solutions; instead, it offers a solid and responsible ending that leaves hope for both girls to find a better future, while indicating that there is still much left for us to do.” – Sara Hines, Eight Cousins Books

Launch event:

This Saturday, I’m having a joint launch party with Caroline Richmond (whose debut THE ONLY THING TO FEAR comes out today too ― hurrah!) in Arlington, Va., right outside of Washington, D.C. You should come! Here are the details.

You can buy LIES WE TELL OURSELVES at:

IndieBound | One More Page Books | AmazonBarnes & Noble | Harlequin

Robin Talley lives in Washington, D.C., with her ornery cat, goofy hound dog, and very patient wife. Robin’s debut novel, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES (Harlequin Teen, September 2014), follows a black girl in 1959 Virginia who’s the first to desegregate an all-white high school, and winds up falling in love with a white girl in the process. Robin tweets at @robin_talley.
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Next Book News!

We’ve debuted, we’re debuting and we’re selling more stuff! Check back on the 28th of each month to find out all the awesome Next Book News!

 

A sequel to Tara Dairman’s ALL FOUR STARS! 

A sequel to Tara Dairman’s middle-grade debut, ALL FOUR STARS, is coming in summer 2015, and Tara will be revealing its title and cover in October!

Subscribers to her e-mail list will get an exclusive first peek at the new book; you can sign up to be notified here! 

 

Rachel M. Wilson releases eBook with HarperTeen Impulse!

Rachel M. Wilson’s story “The Game of Boys and Monsters” will release October 7th as a stand-alone eBook with HarperTeen Impulse.

Says Harper, “From Rachel M. Wilson, author of Don’t Touch, comes an eerie and utterly compelling short story about best friends Leslie and Evy, whose friendship changes when the enigmatic Marsh brothers move to town.”

Pre-order for $0.99, or add it on Goodreads!

 

Cover Reveals and Giveaways!!!

 

Helene Dunbar and WHAT REMAINS

 

Helene’s next stand-alone, WHAT REMAINS releases from Flux in May 2015. There is a cover reveal and giveaway on YABC!!  Add it on Goodreads!!

 

Emily Lloyd-Jones and DECEPTIVE

 

The sequel to ILLUSIVE, called DECEPTIVE, has a cover! And a giveaway for a galley over on Icey Books! (ends September 30th!!)  Add it on Goodreads!!

 

Can’t wait to see what October brings!!

 

Robin Constantine is a born and raised Jersey girl who moved down South so she could wear flip-flops year round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, well, eventually but not without a lot of peril, angst and the occasional kissing scene. Her YA debut, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, is out now! Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Publishers.
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The Author’s Voice: interview with OneFour author VERONICA BARTLES

What do you do when your sister outshines you in every way, and now your crush wants your help in winning her heart? (hint: it involves a twelve-step program)

Veronica Bartles talks to us about sibling rivalry, dream guys, and her YA contemporary romance, TWELVE STEPS (Swoon Romance, 2014).

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Veronica Bartles lives in New Mexico with her husband and four children. When she’s not writing or lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, she enjoys creating delicious desserts, exploring new places, and recycle knitting. Her debut novel, TWELVE STEPS was released in March 2014.

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Kate Boorman is an independent artist and writer from the Canadian prairies. She was born in Nepal (where she was carried up the Himalayas in a basket) and she grew up in a small Albertan town (where she rode her bike to Girl Guides). She is fond of creepy things. Speaking of! Her YA fantasy WINTERKILL is out now (Abrams/Amulet and Faber & Faber).
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9 Things I Learned My Debut Year

So Survival Colony 9 is here! Hallelujah!SC9 Cover medium

Here, in no particular order, are 9 things I’ve learned during this exhilarating, exhausting, extraordinary year.

  1. Hang on to your ARCs. No sooner will your ARCs arrive than people will appear out of nowhere asking you for them. Do not give an ARC to these people. They will not read it, review it, blog about it, mention it. Apparently, they want it only to prop up furniture.
  1. Stay off Goodreads, Amazon, etc. I checked my number of adds, my rankings, and all that stuff obsessively in the months leading up to my book’s release. The end result was: anxiety. There is simply no way for you to know how well your book is selling before it releases. And no very good way to know afterward.
  1. The YA writers’ community is wonderful. Really. These people are great. They’ll tweet you, support you, buck you up when you’re down, interview you, host you, congratulate you, console you, and otherwise make your debut year not only bearable but remarkable. If there’s a dark side to this community—backstabbers, cutthroats, wolves in sheep’s clothing—I haven’t seen it. Be thankful to belong to such a community, and do your part to keep it that way.
  1. Ask for help. From your agent, your editor, your friends, your colleagues, your family, your doctor, your mail carrier, your whoever. Most people will happily grant it. This year will be a roller-coaster, and you shouldn’t ride it alone.
  1. Don’t worry about negative reviews. In the big scheme of things, they’re meaningless. (In fact, any review, no matter how horrible, helps publicize your book.) You became a writer because you wanted to write. Negative reviews don’t stop you from doing that. Ignore them, and write on.
  1. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Print publishing is dead. Only self-pubbed authors make it big. Agents insist that you have 10,000 Twitter followers before they’ll deign to read your manuscript. Never start your book with a character waking up. I’ve read all these “truths” (and then some) online, and all of them are complete and utter garbage.
  1. There is nothing better than holding your own book in your hands. Well, other than holding your baby. Or saving someone’s life. Or gathering with your family. Or watching the home team win the World Series. Or staring into your partner’s eyes. Or lots of other things. But it’s still pretty great.
  1. Try to talk about something else for a change. Your spouse, your children, your family, your friends will be thrilled about your upcoming novel. But they will soon tire if it’s your only topic of conversation. Every so often, you might want to discuss politics, or religion, or armadillos, or screwdrivers. And you might want to listen when other people want to talk about such things too.
  1. Marketing is your friend. Marketing is your enemy. You really do need to self-promote if you want your book to be read. But as with just about everything, there’s a point of diminishing returns to marketing, and you have reached that point when you find yourself walking a tightrope in Times Square wearing only a thong with the contents of your book tattooed over your entire body. And when you haven’t written a word in two months because you were too busy down at the tattoo parlor.

Trust me. I’ve been there.

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since age eight (though his first few were admittedly very short). His debut YA science fiction novel SURVIVAL COLONY NINE was published on September 23, 2014 (that’s today!) by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Josh likes (in no particular order) gorillas, frogs, monsters, and human beings.
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Friday Q&A

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers! On Fridays, the OneFours answer questions about their books, writing processes, life, favorite flavors of ice cream, and more. This week’s question:

How do you name your characters?

Usually they just tell me their names from their first sentence. Not sure how that happens. Gordie was named after Red Wing great Gordie Howe. The rest of the characters in TGW came into my head already named.

-Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

 

Sometimes I’ll look up the meanings of names and find one that fits the who of who they are. In the case of Amber, I chose one of the most popular names at my school.

-Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

 

If I have an agenda for a name (must be a certain ethnicity, must have a certain meaning, must sound androgynous, must have been popular during a certain time period), then I look at 20000-names.com, baby name sites and such. If it’s for a tertiary or walk-on character, I just come up with something that sounds decent and doesn’t conflict with other character names (e.g., doesn’t start with the same letter as multiple more important characters). If it’s a main character, I try to think of something interesting that either relates to their backstory or to story theme or character arc.

~ Mary Elizabeth Summer, TRUST ME, I’M LYING

 

My main characters all have their names before I know their stories. The characters jump into my mind fully formed, including names. For the supporting cast, though, I have a ton of fun naming characters after people I know in real life. Most of my nieces and nephews have made it onto the pages of my books, as well as friends from high school and critique partners. Sometimes, I choose names because one of my minor characters reminds me of someone I know in real life, and sometimes it’s because they’re so completely opposite that it makes me giggle every time I see that name paired with that character.

~ Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS

 

If I’m writing humor, I pick names that sound funny or work as jokes. For example, I named a hairless cat “Fluffy” and a monkey warrior “Mongee-Poo.” I also like sneaking friends’, family, and even favorite teachers’ names into stories as cameos.

~Louise Galveston, BY THE GRACE OF TODD

 

All of my characters’ names have meaning. Sometimes it just means I saw a street name I liked.

- Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE

 

I have a brand new answer for this question! YAY! I ask my amazing street team–the bloggers and teens who have done early reads of Compulsion and liked it enough to want to be involved. (Which is amazing and wonderful by itself!!!) Seriously, main characters names usually “feel” right to me, and then I will research the name and it will settle in. On occasion though, a name won’t work for a variety of reasons, and then I will usually end up renaming that character multiple times. That just happened with the villain in Persuasion, the sequel to Compulsion. I had accidentally named him after one of my husband’s many cousins. And because the name was absolutely perfect, I couldn’t find a new one. Fast forward the day before my first revision is due to my editor, and I’m still struggling. I’m already scouring my manuscript to find minor characters to name after street team members who have already been especially fabulous, and it hit me that I should ask them. So I posted the question, and two minutes later, I had the PERFECT name! Even better than the original perfect name. I highly recommend this method, needless to say! :)

~ Martina Boone, COMPULSION

 

My characters are partially named to reflect their ethnicity and partially named for their meaning. Gilded and Silvern are both set at a real life international school in Seoul, Korea called Seoul Foreign School. International schools are a very unique in that the students attending those schools are from all over the world, not necessarily from the host country. 50% of the population of Seoul Foreign is American, but the other 50% are from all over the world. Therefore I wanted my cast of characters to reflect that diversity. Jae Hwa Lee, my main character, is Korean-American. Many of the Korean-Americans take on American names, but I didn’t think that fit Jae well. So I gave her a Korean name that meant respect and beauty, symbolizing the journey she must take.

~ Christina Farley, GILDED and SILVERN

 

I have the hardest time naming characters. The character comes to me first, and then I fret and fret and fret until I stumble across a name that fits them. I like unusual names–both for characters and just generally in life–so I usually tend to save names in my head that I see in magazines or come across in the news or on television. Like, “Ooh, I like that name! Maybe it would work for Character X.” And then I try it out and see.

~Skylar Dorset, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS

 

Often the names just pop into my head with the character, fully formed. Sometimes after, in revisions, I’ll realize that name doesn’t work for one reason or another (in one book I had named a really nasty kid with the same name as my nephew…oops!). So then I have to find a new one. A book of baby names belongs on every writer’s shelf, just to keep things interesting. I also try to throw in as many friends and family names as possible, using them for minor characters or random people. It always makes me smile, even if only a few other readers will ever know!

~Dana Alison Levy, THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER

 

Because the themes of A Girl Called Fearless include girl’s rights and revolution, several of my characters’ names hint at American or women’s history. The last name of the main character, Avie Reveare comes from Paul Revere, because she will help alert the country to the threat the Paternalist party poses. Sparrow Currie, a science geek is named after the scientist Marie Curie, while Margaret Stanton is named after two women: Margaret Sanger an early supporter of contraceptives and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who fought for women having the right to vote. Hottie Yates Sandell, however, was named after one of my favorite poets, William Butler Yeats.

-Catherine Linka, A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS

 

Mrs. Frabbleknacker (possibly the best name I have ever come up with) popped into my head one day. I giggled myself silly, wrote it down, and that was the end of that.

~Lauren Magaziner, THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES

 

The name Wren just popped into my head as I was writing – I liked it because it was short and strong. Grayson came from an old friend I struck up a conversation with at a high school reunion. She’d just had a baby named Grayson, and I thought it was a really cool name, so I filed it away for a future project. As I was writing PoA, and needed to name my male protagonist, the name Grayson kept showing up everywhere (he was originally named Connor but it didn’t fit his character) – the final straw was at a paint your own pottery place when I noticed the signature on one of the wall tiles was Grayson, so I figured the universe was trying to tell me something. The universe is good like that.

~Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

 

I’m a teacher, and I steal names from my students and co-workers all the time. I switch around first names and last names, so no one’s name is completely stolen, but I definitely use my class lists for name ideas. So, former students, if you’re wondering if that character is named after you, the answer is…probably.

~ Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

 

When I need a name, I’ll sometimes pull out my copy of 1001 Baby Names and go shopping. I love poring through the lists and trying out different names to see what sounds right. For last names, I keep a phone book nearby. Since DREAM BOY is set in a small town in southwestern Virginia, I tried to make sure the names fit my experience of living here, too. The most unusual names in the book are probably Talon and Paolo. Talon just popped into my head, and ultimately the name ended up defining the character a good bit. Paolo was the name of someone I went to high school with. The real Paolo is not necessarily similar to the character Paolo, but I liked his name and stole it.

~Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

 

For THE GIRL FROM THE WELL, my female MC is based on a ghost from a Japanese legend, so I appropriated the name. For everyone else I use a personal name generator, where I keep hitting the refresh button until a name I like pops out. It’s a very scientific process.

~ Rin Chupeco, THE GIRL FROM THE WELL

 

Skila Brown has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived for a bit in Guatemala, and now resides with her family in Indiana. Her debut novel, CAMINAR, is available now from Candlewick Press.