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The Author’s Voice: interview with OneFour author Robin Herrera

Heavenly Donuts!

Robin Herrera speaks with us about poetry, mullets, Boston cream filling and her MG contemporary debut, HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL.

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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 debuts September 9th, 2014 (Abrams/Amulet and Faber & Faber).
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Confessions of a Closet Poet ~ How Poetry-Brain Can Fake Fiction-Brain in Three Easy Steps

I was a poet to begin with.

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And as a poet, I wrote slooooooooowly. Sometimes painfully so. I might spend an entire day, or week, or even month following the rise and fall of a line to its inevitable end.

To paraphrase Fred Chappell (another poet turned novelist), a good day’s work for a poet is to cross out the two lines he wrote the day before.

For someone like me in the habit of examining the universe two lines at a time, the idea of writing a novel—page after page after page, day after day after day—seemed daunting, to put it mildly.

You mean I have to write WHOLE PARAGRAPHS AT A TIME?

thatsimpossible

So, how did I get my poetry-wired brain from Point A (poem) to Point B (novel)?

Well, for starters, it took about a gazillion hours, numerous failed attempts, and the support from and commitment to my friend and coauthor Madelyn Rosenberg (shown here gleefully tormenting a toe-sock doll).

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Most importantly, though, I had to let go of many of my deeply ingrained ideas about the writing process.

One. I could no longer write without “tuning in” consciously, the way I sometimes did when I wrote poetry.

It didn’t take me long to realize that strange, unacceptable things happened when I let my subconscious mind take over in fiction. I would sit down with the intention to write a romance novel, turn off my consciousness, and wake up a half hour later to find an intricate description of an old woman’s detached lung throbbing in the wildrose shrub outside an abandoned trailer’s front stoop.

what

Two. I could no longer count reading time as writing time.

Here’s how I work when writing a poem. I write a first line. I rewrite it. I write it again. Then I read it. Over. And over. And over until…………………………………………I’m ready to write the next line. Then I rewrite that line. Then I rewrite it again. Then I read it with the first line. Over. And over. And over until…………………………………………..I’m ready to write the third line. Which I rewrite and read and rewrite and read until…………….. I fall asleep in a puddle of drool.

Again, it’s pretty obvious this method is for crap when it comes to writing anything longer than a haiku. As I transitioned to writing fiction, I had to get comfortable with the idea that re-reading the entire manuscript from the beginning every time I sat down to work was not a practical option.

When desperate, I might use that method for paragraphs, pages, even chapters. But otherwise, it was onward! No looking back!

KeepGoing

(Thanks for the inspiration, hat girl.)

Three. I had to get my butt in the chair and type something, whether I thought I had anything to say or not.

I’m going to let Neil Gaimen field this one for me, because he said it perfectly:

If you only write when you’re inspired you may be a fairly decent poet, but you’ll never be a novelist because you’re going to have to make your word count today and those words aren’t going to wait for you whether you’re inspired or not.”

NeilGaimen

(Neil Gaiman. Tasty!)

And yet, even as I had to shake loose numerous impractical poetic notions when I turned to fiction, there were a few concepts which, right or wrong, stuck with me as I wrote DREAM BOY with Madelyn—and they remain now as I write my current work-in-progress.

Of these, the most crucial is perhaps this:

There are certain moments when only the exact word will do.

Yes, I know we’re supposed to spew out that first draft. Get the words down and worry about making them perfect once we have a beginning, middle and end.

Fiction-brain gets that process. I’m able to do that at least 93% of the time. For the other 7%, though, the poet in me is convinced that writing any old thing is a great idea…

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There are moments in writing when I need an exact word, dammit.

Its rightness is the bridge between what came before and everything that might come after. Its rightness is what makes the work, at least for that millisecond, worthwhile. Because for that milisecond, it’s not all about word count. It’s about following the right word to its best destination. It’s about accepting language for the gift that it is. In short, it’s what makes writing fun.

WhatsItAllFor

Even if I end up cutting the entire scene at some later date, I need that moment to keep me going. Without it, there is no joy in Mudville. Without it, what am I doing this for?

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MaryCrockett LookawayMary Crockett‘s debut novel DREAM BOY is about the aftermath of dreams, the nightmare of high school, and the mystical power of an awesome pair of shoes. Mary has worked as everything from a history museum director to a toilet seat hand model. In her other life, she’s an award-winning poet/professional eavesdropper. You can find her yakking it up at Twitter, Facebook, or pretty much any coffee shop in southwestern Virginia.

Add DREAM BOY to your Goodreads shelf.

Order DREAM BOY at Indie Bound, Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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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!

Michelle Krys sold another book!

I sold another book! Wendy Loggia at Delacorte Press acquired world rights to DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY, about a girl who escapes her helicopter parents by joining a high-stakes dare club, but discovers more than just thrills: girls are going missing, and she might be next. Publication is slated for 2016. michellekrys.com/news/

Jen Malone has a new deal with a co-author!

I am going to be writing a new series with my good friend Gail Nall for Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Mix. PLEASE RSVP, Book 1 will publish Summer 2015 and PLEASE RSVP, Book 2 will hit shelves Fall 2015. The story centers on four tween girls in coastal North Carolina who launch a party planning business from their abandoned sailboat clubhouse (think Babysitters Club meets Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants).

Helene Dunbar has an official title!

My 2015 Flux release has an official title: WHAT REMAINS.

Vivi Barnes sold another book!

My next book – PAPER OR PLASTIC, about a girl who after being caught shoplifting has to work at the local SmartMart, navigating her way around crazy customers, quirky coworkers, and her shy young boss. Sold to Entangled Teen for publication in 2015!

Livia Blackburne sold a sequel!

I sold the sequel to MIDNIGHT THIEF to Rotem Moscovich at Hyperion Children’s.

Kate Hannigan sold books 2 and 3!

My news is that I signed the contract on Book 2 and Book 3 for CUPCAKE COUSINS at Disney-Hyperion. With Spring 2015 and Fall 2016 releases, I am hoppin’!

Danielle Jensen has an official title and blurb for book 2!

The title & blurb for my second book have been released.

HIDDEN HUNTRESS, Book Two of The Malediction Trilogy (Spring 2015)

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Jaye Robin Brown, or JRo to most everyone but her mama, lives and writes in the Appalachian mountains north of Asheville, NC. She’s fond of dogs, horses, laughter, the absurd and the ironic. When not crafting stories she hangs out with teenagers in the high school art room where she teaches. Her debut novel, NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, December ’14), is a love song to small town girls and mountain music.
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Poems in Books

April is National Poetry Month! This month we’re highlighting 2014 debut novels with a strong tie to poetry and asking those authors for a taste of what to expect in their books. Here’s what they offered up:

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Tracy Holczer Secret Hum of a Daisy

THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY

Putnam/Penguin

a middle grade novel – available May 1st

 

With Mama,

the closest I’d ever been

to falling snow

was the farm trucks going by on the interstate

leaving behind a flurry

of snow white onion skins.

As we’d lie in the fields

they’d drift over,

making it easy to pretend

we were somewhere else.

This was the first poem I’d written for the story. It was a snapshot of the life my main character, Grace, had lived with her mama before she died. It told a lot, I thought. But as revision took over, another sort of poem had to take the place of this one, one that showed less of the yearning in Grace’s life and more of how normal things were Back Then. And even though this poem was edited out, I always kept it close in case I lost sight of Grace, which can happen when revision is focusing on things like plot and tension. This poem goes to the heart of the story and I’m glad I got to share it.

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Robin HerreraHopeIs

HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL     

Amulet Books

a middle grade novel – available now

 

I read a lot of Emily Dickinson poems while writing HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL that I thought it’d be fun for my main character, Star, to write one of her own. Inspired, of course, by her favorite poet.

The poem has been through four drafts! And it’s now in the finished book, so clearly I did something right:

In the Winter!

We get Snow –

But – in the Trailer!

We Don’t Know –

Where Autumn Ends!

And Winter Starts –

‘Cause Winter’s There!

Inside Our Hearts!

(Winter here is the name of Star’s older sister.)

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Skila Brown  caminar

CAMINAR        

Candlewick Press

a novel in verse – available now

He Had a Gun

A rifle rattled
on his shoulder,

his thumb tucked
under the strap,

a shadow where
a mustache planned to grow, above his lip.

He tapped his fingers
on the bullets around his waist

as he winked
at some girls.

Roberto dropped his Pepsi,
ducked inside.

My feet stuck
right to the ground.

I did not move.
Except my eyes.

 
The main character of Caminar is at that difficult point in childhood where he’s caught between boy and man. In this scene, he’s meeting a boy his own age, a boy who happens to be a soldier. I had a lot of fun playing with the juxtaposition of images in this poem. Rattle and thumb bring baby images to mind, making the bullets and winking all the more jarring.

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Linda Phillips  Crazy

CRAZY

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers 

a novel in verse – available in October 2014

ART EXHIBITION

First thing inside the door
I smell turpentine.
I nearly trip over a wet canvas
propped against the door frame.
I follow a trail of smudgy rags
and scattered paint tubes
into the living room
where I find Mama,
her back to me,
kneeling
muttering
crossing herself
before a dripping canvas.
She’s been painting again!

“Hail Mary, Mother of God. . . ”

A sickening sense of panic begins
crawling up my spine.
“What’s going on, Mama?” I ask.

“Hail Mary, Mother of God. . .”

I’m not sure she heard me
so I move toward her,
bending down to look into her face
and I say it slower
louder
trying to connect with her eyes.
“Mama, what’s going on?”

“Hail Mary, Mother of God. . .

I reach out to shake her,
maybe even slap her,
do something to snap her out of it
and get her attention
when she stops
abruptly,
faces me,
looking past me
somewhere,
signaling me
to be silent.
“Mary’s my sister,
see.
She’s coming,
coming for a visit. . . and I,
I must finish getting the house
ready for her visit.
Be a good girl now,
won’t you?
Go clean your room
so you will be ready
when she comes,
see
ready when she comes,
when Mary comes to our house
see, when Mary—
Oh, I can’t find my alizarin
and I need it—
I have to have it NOW,
have to paint, now, NOW!
Do you see it here
somewhere?
So I can paint Mary
before she comes,
see. . .”

 

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Madeleine Kuderick   Kiss of Broken Glass
KISS OF BROKEN GLASS
Harper Teen

a YA novel – coming September 2014

 

In the last post, I mentioned how I didn’t consciously choose to write a novel in verse. Instead, that voice chose me. From the very first sentence Kenna’s words were raw, choked off and close to the bone. Today I’d like to share a sample of that voice from my book jacket.

My name is Kenna.
No one ever told me the truth
about cutting –
How scars multiply like freaking rabbits.
How cutting turns you into a pathological liar.
How getting caught lands you in a psych ward
with no way out
for 72 hours.
But that’s exactly what happens.
To me anyway.
And I bet you wonder
how anyone could ever change –
in just three days,
in a place like this,
where everybody’s broken.

Trust me.
I wonder that myself.

 

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Do you have a favorite poem? Link it up in the comments – we’d love to know what it is. And Happy National Poetry Month from all of the OneFour group!

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.
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THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN Release Day!

Holy cow, guys, today’s the release day for THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN! I am so freaking excited to see this book out in the world, and so freaking grateful to everyone who’s worked with me and helped me along the way–from the amazing people at Candlewick Press to my wonderful family and friends to the fantastic community of children’s and young adult writers and readers like the OneFours. You are all incredible and I’m so lucky to have you in my life.

A little about the book:

When your mom thinks she’s Amelia Earhart, navigating high school, first love, and family secrets is like flying solo without a map.

Driver’s ed and a first crush should be what Alex Winchester is stressed out about in high school – and she is. But what’s really on her mind is her mother. When did she stop being Mom and start being Amelia Earhart? Alex is increasingly worried that Amelia is planning her final flight – the flight from which she never returns. What could possibly be driving Mom’s delusions, and how far will they take her?

But you know what they say–a picture is worth a thousand words, and a gif must be worth a thousand more. So what better way to celebrate the launch of THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN than with a few good gifs. If you’re looking for a book about:

The awfulness of driver’s ed:

The awesomeness of new crushes:

The intensity of family secrets:

The courage and mystery of Amelia Earhart:

And a good game of  Never-Have-I-Ever:

Check out THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, now available at your local favorite bookstore!

Annie Cardi lives outside Boston, MA, where she spends her time baking, creating alternate lyrics for tv show theme songs, and writing YA fiction. Her debut novel, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press on April 22 2014. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.
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An Interview With A Cover Illustrator (And Not Just Any Cover Illustrator, but MINE!)

There are a few misconceptions about this publishing business (nope, sorry Mom- I will not be buying you a yacht anytime soon) and one of the bigger ones is that writers have infinite input into their cover designs (or, in the case of picture books, the illustrations). Most people are shocked- shocked, I tell you!- to learn that this is very rarely the case. More likely, the writer will be innocently checking email on an otherwise ordinary day and find a note from our editor that says something like, “I hope you like your cover! Here it is!”

And then (if you’re me) you exhale and do a Snoopy dance around your living room. Seriously, I could not love my cover more if I had drawn it myself (wow- do you really not want to see that!!) I love it so much that I googled my cover illustrator, Annabelle Metayer, and immediately sent a gushy email through her website contact form. Fortunately, she is uber-cool and was not scared off by said gushiness. In fact, she even agreed to let me interview her here about how this whole cover design thing works:

Hey Annabelle! Thanks for being here and letting us uncover a little more of the mystery behind this process. Can you start off by telling us who you work with at a publishing house? In other words, who hires you?

It varies from one publishing house to another, but in most cases, it’s the book designer who contacts my agent with a mandate. Before contacting the illustrator/agent, the book designer presents the portfolio to their editing team. If everyone is onboard, they can sign me!

Nice! And from there, what kind of information does the publisher usually provide you with? Are you typically given suggestions/direction from the publisher for the cover illustration or do you come up with your own?

It is mostly a collaborative task. Sometimes, all I get is the manuscript, with no specific briefing, or I’ll get a few starting ideas. After reading the book, I provide two or three sketches for any kind of scenarios that inspire me, adding the ones that the editor provided me with, if they did.

In some other cases, I have been hired to work on the cover for books that have been signed but for which the manuscript is not yet available. The book designer then just gives me the synopsis and a few ideas to get me started.

And in some other cases, I get a specific briefing, as in ‘Girl sitting in a coffee shop, with books on table, Eiffel tower in background.”

I enjoy all of these scenarios -it’s great to have carte blanche with a cover but a precise briefing allows me to focus solely on character/background development.

And to further demonstrate how this all might look, Annabelle is sharing her process for my cover (swoon!):

(click on images to enlarge)

cover designs

 

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I could look at that all day! Thanks for sharing! Okay, a few more questions. How did you get your start in illustrating?

For me, it was a long process. I always loved to draw but did not quite trust that my passion for drawing could be translated into a career. I opted instead for a happy compromise: graphic design. As a graphic designer, I discovered the joy of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop! After about 12 years, I finally decided to use my Illustrator skills to build an illustration portfolio. After finding my wonderful agent Sally (heflinreps.com) and with a few jobs under my belt, I made the full-time jump, knowing that it takes about 10 years on average for an illustrator to become established (but also secretely lured by the knowledge that this quest can be done in the comfort of my pajamas).

Pajamas influencing your career choice- congratulations, you’re officially one of the tribe! What is your favorite part about illustrating covers?

What’s not to love! First, there is the thrill of being ‘chosen’ by a publishing house to illustrate a cover. Then, the excitement of immersing myself into the universe of a new story and, once the basic layout has been approved, working on the character. Choosing her clothes and hairstyle and finding cute ways to represent the items surrounding her. Oh! and last but not least : receiving positive feedback from the book author. I really never expect it, but at the end of the day, the author being happy with their cover is the ultimate reward! So it’s a bonus, when it happens.

Oh, it happens! And what about some of the challenges?

When sending the very initial sketches to the client (especially new clients!), I can get a bit anxious while waiting for feedback. I compare this to ‘stage fright’, for an actor. No matter how experienced you are, I don’t think it will ever go away. I am very lucky that I can get all my sketches validated by my husband who is an art director, though! Anyways, once the ice is broken and I get a first response, I relax.

Annabelle, thanks so much for letting me interview you. I can only hope I spot your illustrations on a million book covers (including more of mine)!

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Spine Poetry

It’s National Poetry Month! A great time to browse the shelves and see what great spine poems you can create with the titles in front of you. At OneFour, we’ve found a few:

 

skylar caminar spine poem photo (5) heidipoem2 heidipoem1 CKohler war spine poem 330 pix CAM00218 20140409_194838

 

Can’t get enough spine poetry? Check out the gallery over at School Library Journal.

 

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.