1

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Somehow it’s almost the end of 2014! We OneFours have had such an incredible year, and we’ve been so glad to share our experiences with all of you. As we make our final farewells as debut authors, we want to share…

A fun/unexpected/meaningful moment/experience of your debut year:

My mother’s enthusiasm. She is a one woman sales-excitement machine, sharing with all of her friends from everywhere and forever about “my daughter’s book.” It’s pretty much the sweetest thing ever.–Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

All the amazing people who’ve come into my life and who I can now call friends. Definitely an unexpected and meaningful perk during this debut year.–Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

I had two show steers at my launch party, and just as the first was brought up to “show,” he pooped. Which is how STEERING TOWARD NORMAL opens. Nature gave me a perfect book birthday gift!–Rebecca Petruck, STEERING TOWARD NORMAL

A twelve-year-old girl came up to me at Vegas Valley Book Festival with her copy of CAMELOT BURNING, which she’d just bought, and asked me to sign it for her as she went on about how much she loves BBC’s MERLIN. We fangirled together for about five minutes. It was AWESOME.–Kathryn Rose, CAMELOT BURNING

Definitely the letters I’ve received from readers has been the best thing ever. Even now, thinking that I wrote something that might help someone through a hard time, makes me tear up.–Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

The support has been so amazing: from friends, family, acquaintances, old high school friends, random strangers, and of course, all of the wonderful writers I’ve met this year. I expected this to be a more solitary journey than it has been, and that’s been an incredible surprise.–AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

The best moments of being an author aren’t when you’re at a conference or on a panel. They’re when you check your PO box or author email account to find a message from a young reader who connected with your book. Being able to share our words and stories with readers is a gift and an honor–and it makes everything else in this crazy career worthwhile.–Rebecca Behrens, WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE

Standing behind the podium at Powell’s and talking about my very own book was the first time I felt even a little bit like a real author. It was a wonderful feeling.–Heidi Schulz, HOOK’S REVENGE

I loved getting to be a part of the Boston Teen Author Festival this year. I’ve gone to a bunch of events like these, but being on panels with authors I admired was mind-boggling.–Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

After co-writing DREAM BOY with my friend Madelyn Rosenberg, I thought we were about as close as we possibly could be. As she helped shepherd me through my first year as a published novelist, however, new aspects of our relationship came to light and we grew even closer. Without a doubt, getting to know her different sides has been the best part of a wonderful debut year.–Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

One of my best memories of this year: I walked into a classroom on one my first school visits and a boy ran up to me yelling, “This book is AWESOME!” Meeting readers and inspiring young writers has been so rewarding.–Louise Galveston, BY THE GRACE OF GOD

My favorite debut moment was seeing my book in a store for the first time. It was early, so I wasn’t in “published author” mode yet, and it was just so impossible to internalize. So I made myself stare at it until it penetrated that I had done this, and then I cried like a baby on the floor of B&N.–Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

One of my favorite memories this year was at a library event. A student walked into the room and after seeing my Gilded and Silvern banners, he raced across the room saying, “That is my favorite book! And look, there’s a sequel!”–Christy Farley, GILDED

One of my favorite moments of this year was after a school event. Several of the students wrote me letters to tell me that, after hearing me talk about how my multiple failures led to my success in publishing, they had made the jump and tried the things that scared them. One tried out for the basketball team (and made it). One decided to write the story she’d always wanted to write (even though people told her she wasn’t good enough). I will cherish these letters forever!–Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS

I didn’t think debut day would be surprising. I mean, I had approximately 2 years to prepare for it, but the morning my book official came out, my social media streams, cell phone, and email all drowned in love and support from my community. It was shocking. And amazing. And I’ll remember that feeling of being buoyed up for years to come.–Natalie C. Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

There are so many great moments in this debut year, but the best is probably the solid wall of support and love — from new friends in the writing community, from family who has watched me pursue this for years, from readers who discover and love the book — that I’ve found to lean against through the ups and downs.–Dana Alison Levy, THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER

There have been a lot of these moments, but standing in front of a group of students while they asked me questions about my book – that was one of the best. Reading meant so much to me when I was in high school. It was extremely humbling to know that students were reading and enjoying something I had written.–Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE

Unexpected: all of the support and love from the small town I grew up in!–Kate Boorman, WINTERKILL

Unexpected: how emotional it would be to see my book on a bookstore shelf. I knew it would be awesome but the feeling was overwhelming. I cried. Amazing.–Maria Andreu, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY

I will never forget the first time a teen reader emailed me about how she’d read and enjoyed my book. I felt like dancing all day long (but I didn’t because I can’t dance so trust me, this was a good thing for the sake of my family).–Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

And a piece of advice for future debut writers:

My advice to future debuts is not to sweat the small stuff – so many things aren’t nearly as important as they seem. No one is gonna boycott your book because the cover was revealed early on Goodreads. No one needs you to be a blogger on top of being an author. Just do what you love, be kind, and write good books.–Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

Connect with other writers as much as possible. Writing can be solitary and publishing even more so, having others around you who “get it” can make the insanity of the publishing process so much easier.–Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

Celebrate EVERY milestone! Even if it’s something as simple as, “I totally finished editing that crazy impossible chapter, and now it shines,” acknowledge it and celebrate!–Kathryn Rose, CAMELOT BURNING

Reach out. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Have a stupid question? Ask it! Probably everyone else is wondering the same thing — and somebody out there might even have some answers to share!–Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

To all soon-to-be published writers, my only advice is to ground yourself. Ground yourself with friends, family, ideals that you hold close, and memories of why you wanted this in the first place. Because this is a wild ride and it’s easy to lose yourself to it. But as long as you have a great support system, you’ll be fine.—-Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE

Breathe. A lot. And when things get really crazy, it helps to remember why you started in the first place. It all comes back to the writing!–Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

Writing is one thing. Publishing is another thing. Keep writing! A lot of the publishing stuff is out of your control and trying to control it will make you crazy. But the writing is always there and completely yours.–Rebecca Petruck, STEERING TOWARD NORMAL

Remember how life is a thing that happens? Remember how you love doing things other than writing and figuring out how to promote yourself online and in person without feeling like you’ve transformed into a repeating sound-byte? Good. Now remember when you didn’t feel guilty about going to the movies or hanging with your friends? Good. Hold on to that because you deserve to enjoy life in addition to writing.–Natalie C. Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

Plan a launch party. Introvert me was horrified at the thought, but my special person pushed me into it and I’m so glad I did. It was simple (cupcakes, readings, music, at a book store) but people from every moment of my life showed up. It was this big ball of awe and gratitude and I won’t ever forget the support and love I felt that night.–Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

Remember to enjoy yourself! You’re following your dream, and yet it’s easy to get so caught up in the stress of it all that you forget the initial giddiness over the fact that you’re (going to be) published. Have fun with it!–AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

Always bring a couple of author copies to a signing, in case you mess up when personalizing a book. It happens. (Also: bring postcards or another piece of signable swag for readers who can’t purchase a book!)–Rebecca Behrens, WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE

Pick and choose what you do for promotion. It’s tempting to do it all but in my debut year I discovered that my energy is finite. (Who knew?). Best thing I ever learned was to do events with other writers instead of doing them solo. A fraction of the work, a multiple of the fun.–Maria Andreu, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY

The last few weeks leading up to your launch may leave you feeling like a quivery ball of tearful stress and anxiety. You may also feel guilty because publishing a book is a dream come true and why, oh why, aren’t you feeling happier about it??? EVERYTHING IS RUINED. All of this is perfectly normal. Feel whatever you feel and know that it will get better.–Heidi Schulz, HOOK’S REVENGE

Remember when reviews start rolling in that you have a small army of people, including industry pros, who think your writing rocks. Don’t let stars and rankings sideswipe your confidence or choke your creativity.–Louise Galveston, BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Never, never give up. If you keep going, even in the face of failure, good things will happen for you. It’s totally cliche, but it’s absolutely true. I can trace every single one of my most successful moments directly back to a moment where I’d failed so miserably it looked like giving up was the only option. But I kept going, and good things were always just around the corner.–Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS

You don’t have to do this alone. Even if there isn’t an organized group of debuts like the OneFours, basically all debut authors (and authors in general) share the same fears and uncertainties. Find your people. We are here <3–Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

The thing all newly published authors need to remember is that the story that was once theirs no longer exists. It is now a book, something that exists in the public domain, for anyone and everyone to read and discuss. Find a tribe of other writers to vent, cry, complain and talk to, because having your story out in the world can be a wild ride.–Dana Alison Levy, THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER

There’s no one way to be a writer. It’s easy to compare yourself to others whose books are getting starred reviews or flying off the shelves or getting awards, but we’re all on different journeys and connecting with different readers in different ways. Cheer for your fellow writers, but don’t forget to cheer for yourself, too.–Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

My advice for future debut writers is to focus on why you are writing. It’s because you love it. Don’t ever lose that love you have for writing.–Christy Farley, GILDED

Work hard, write from the heart, celebrate yourself and others, and smash those narratives of self-doubt and impostor syndrome with a GIANT SMASHY HAMMER.–Kate Boorman, WINTERKILL

Thanks so much to everyone who’s been a part of our 2014 debut experience! Here’s to even more adventures in 2015 and beyond!

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 now available from Candlewick Press. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.
0

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.
2

When We Say YA: Books We Loved as Teens

Welcome to When We Say YA! Every month, the OneFour YA authors get together to talk about everything related to young adult lit. February is all about love, so this month’s question is:

What were your most loved books from your own teen years?

Harry Potter, for sure. I fall into that beautiful age category where I discovered the first book at nine or ten, and so basically grew up along with the series.
Corinne Duyvis, OTHERBOUND

As a teen, I was crazy about old poetry. Wallace Stevens, e.e. cummings, Gerard Manly Hopkins, John Donne, Langston Hughes. All the dead (mostly white) guys.
I didn’t necessarily understand their poems in the normal way of “understanding” something, but I don’t think the normal way of understanding is what poetry is about. It’s definitely not what love is about–and I was out-of-my-gourd in love.
I still have my dad’s old paperback copy of Wallace Steven’s The Palm at the End of the Mind. The spine is busted and it’s held together with a rubber band, but that book is one of my absolute favorite things. There are little pencil-mark stars beside the poems I kept going back to. And they’re the poems I return to, even now.
Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

High School Jess went through a bit of a Jane Austen phase after the release of Clueless and the Sense and Sensibility movie starring Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson. I must have read Emma and Sense and Sensibility a zillion times.
I was also desperately in love with The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I don’t think I fully understood it, but it still spoke to me in a way no other book had managed to.
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

I was a big Christopher Pike fan. I loved how messy his characters were. None of them were 100% angelic, nor two-dimensionally evil. I think I read almost every single one. I still have a stained, yellowing paperback of Remember Me on my shelf. But I also read a ton of scifi and fantasy. Andre Norton, Ray Bradbury, David Eddings, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, Anne McCaffrey. In fact, the first series of books that launched me into my obsession of reading was The Secret of the Unicorn Queen series. I freaking loved those books.
Mary Elizabeth Summer, TRUST ME, I’M LYING

Harry Potter all the way. Also His Dark Materials and the Farsala trilogy by Hilari Bell.
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

Soooo much Sweet Valley – High, Senior Year, University…all of it. Of all the books I had to read for school, I’d say SONG OF SOLOMON by Toni Morrison was my favorite. So good.
Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

I’m with you, Dahlia. I devoured every Sweet Valley High book I could get my hands on. I also really enjoyed my older sister’s Nancy Drew books.
Michelle Krys, HEXED

I don’t remember reading much that was specifically YA, though there was this one called AS THE WALTZ WAS ENDING about a girl living through Nazi Germany as a member of the German Ballet. I read a lot of thrillers, especially by David Morrell and Dean Koontz. And then when I took AP English, I was in love with THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, anything by Toni Morrison, and CATCH-22.
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

I was really into Isabel Allende and John Steinbeck in high school and into college -not sure what the connection is there. Going back a little further I loved Narnia, The Alanna series by Tamora Pierce and The Bridge to Terabithia!
Sashi Kaufman, THE OTHER WAY AROUND

The book that stands out for me as my true love during high school was Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. I remember being amazed at finding a character that was allowed to be with her pain and anger, even when she didn’t fully understand it. It spoke to me in a powerful way. I also loved Forever… we all knew the page of the sex scene by heart.
Kinda jealous of those of you young enough to have enjoyed Harry Potter as kids. I actually avoided it until book 7 was about to be released (I avoid “the pack”). Finally, my high school English teacher (with whom is stayed friends), convinced me to give it a chance. Wow. Inhaled them all during a blissful two-week period. Fully immersed in that world. Heaven. Or, better. Hogwarts.
Maria Andreu, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY

For me it was Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books and Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear. They were slightly racy, filled with animals, intrigue, and romance! I also loved the southern classics like Gone With the Wind and To Kill A Mockingbird.
Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

I was on team Harry Potter as well. One of my favorite reading memories was diving into the first three books over the course of about four days in early November of my sophomore year. (Fall leaves, cloudy skies, cozy reading.) I was also really into Francesca Lia Block, Tamora Pierce, Cyrano de Bergerac, and stories from Seventeen Magazine.
Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

As a fantasy geek, I was deeply, obsessively in love with Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle, and I also grew up with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series–which only recently ended! (The latter was a very lengthy love affair.)
AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

The Hobbit was a book that I still continue to draw inspiration from. Also The Giver, which was the beginning of my love for dystopian (or utopian, I suppose). The Dragonriders of Pern series was a beloved favorite as well, and I devoured every Fear Street book I could find from R.L. Stine.
–Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

I read and reread the Belgariad, Mallorean, Elenium and Tamuli sagas by David and Leah Eddings constantly during my teens – it’s what started my love for the fantasy series. This was also around the time I discovered Shirley Jackson and Mervyn Peake (the Gormenghast series was nothing like I’d ever read before then).
Rin Chupeco, THE GIRL FROM THE WELL

If Mercedes Lackey wrote it, I read it. I fancied myself one of her Heralds of Valdemar in another life. If Ursula K. Le Guin wrote it, I read it. I suppose I also fancied myself an explorer of worlds and societies. Neither of these has changed very much.
Natalie C. Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

CARRIE, FIRESTARTER, IT, THE STAND: Stephen King was my favorite author when I was a teen (and also a pre-teen, and also an adult). I also loved all the V.C. Andrews books (don’t judge). THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton was another favorite. Stay gold, Ponyboy.
Clara Kensie, RUN TO YOU

I’m going to second THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, especially the story THE SWEETHEART OF THE SONG TRA BONG which I re-read almost every year. I also remember reading THE BLUEST EYE by Toni Morrison in school and just being blown away by how gorgeous and raw it was.
Also, a lot of romance novels. So many romance novels.
Elissa Sussman, STRAY

As a Jersey girl, I loved, loved LOVED Judy Blume. (Although I know she has a much wider audience than New Jersey, I still like to claim her!) Her stories were so relatable to me and I definitely credit her books with inspiring me to write stories that readers connect to. I was forbidden to read FOREVER, so that only made it that much more appealing (sorry, Mom!). For me, that book was a safe place to live out the highs and lows of first love without experiencing collateral damage!
Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

The classics! Jane Eyre, all of the Jane Austen books, the Scarlet Pimpernel, C.S. Lewis and of course all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works.
Christy Farley, GILDED

I loved J. D. Salinger, particularly Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey, and anything Hemingway. My parents passed the super sentimental poetry of Edgar Guest back and forth when my father was stationed overseas and that was my doorway into the love of poetry. W. H. Auden, e.e. cummings and Ogden Nash were a few of my early favorites but the list is long.
Linda Phillips, CRAZY

Roots by Alex Haley was a book I decided to read for my freshman English class because I had to prove to my friend that I could read a longer book than she could in the allocated three weeks. But that book stayed with me. Still does. It was a very personal journey into mistreatment and injustice; I could not get over the harsh living conditions the characters in the book had to endure.
Chris Struyk-Bonn, WHISPER

What books are/were your favorites as a teen? Share them in the comments!

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.
0

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:

Which book by another author would you love to claim as your own and why?

I’d love to pass off MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness as my own. His whole Chaos Walking Trilogy, really. It contains such an interesting sci-fi concept, and Ness isn’t afraid to put his characters into the kind of horrible situations that make you want to simultaneously punch him in the face and sob for a million years. My goal as a writer is to make people feel the way I feel when I read his books.
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

Maggie Stiefvater’s book always make me feel like I have no business writing, but I’ve learned that a lot of newer authors feel that way. So, I’m going to say Amber Dermont’s THE STARBOARD SEA, which is a coming-of-age story (classified as adult, but I’d readily recommend to teens who appreciate beautiful words). It’s the kind of book that deepens with repeated reading and a protagonist who really got under my skin and made my cry (which is the benchmark of a good book for me).
Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

I’m gonna cheat and go with a whole series here, but they’re short! The Ruby Oliver series (THE BOY BOOK, etc.) by E. Lockhart is, in my opinion, the most dead-on insight into the teen female mind. The writing is great, and Ruby’s a really fun character, but what really gets me about it is the way four strong books are crafted out of the kind of real, true dramas I remember experiencing that age, which no crazy, unrelatable plot points thrown in for sympathy points or dramatic effect or to scream “High concept!” It’s really just a girl learning to prioritize her life and embrace herself, while understanding what makes some relationships stronger and more worthwhile than others. To pull off that kind of thing while also being quirky and entertaining and unique isn’t easy, and it’s the kind of thing I’d love to contribute to the YA canon!
Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

Would anyone notice if I replaced Ellen Raskin’s name with my own? Even now, The Westing Game has everything I love in a book. A central mystery. The reading of a will. Cryptic clues. A race to solve them. An ensemble cast of interesting, complex characters. A flawed but funny mini-heroine with a great name (Turtle). And at no point does the book talk down to kids: the plot includes bombs, bookies, religious extremism, and degenerative disease. I read this book over and over as a kid, and I still pick it up and re-read it! I think that’s the dream of any author–to write a book that has something to say to every reader.
Laura Marx Fitzgerald, UNDER THE EGG

Oh, Libba Bray’s BEAUTY QUEENS, without a doubt. It’s smart and funny. A brilliant work of satire! I had writer-envy right from page one.
Skila Brown, CAMINAR

I’m a sucker for a good romance, and it doesn’t get more perfect than ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins. I don’t know anyone who isn’t in love with both Etienne and Anna, and the perfect Parisian setting is just the icing on this delicious cake. I would love to be able to craft such a perfect romance.
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

I’d be thrilled to be able to slap my name onto WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. Fantastic characters and setting, and a plot that fits together like a perfect puzzle? Something to aspire to, for sure.
Tara Dairman, ALL FOUR STARS

I was so endlessly captivated by the world building in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, by Laini Taylor. Her ability to create a world that is so vivid and lush, while also creating real, relatable characters blew me away. I wish I wrote in that genre because every word on her pages would be such an incredible study in craft.
Kelsey Macke, DAMSEL DISTRESSED

Another vote for DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. Laini Taylor’s prose is breathtakingly gorgeous, and her world-building is some of the best I’ve ever come across. I read that book twice—once in complete awe of its craft and once more just for fun.
Meredith McCardle, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. From the very first sentence, I knew it was going to be a bad idea to read it, because it ‘s so good, with such completely compelling prose, I felt like a total hack in comparison. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to be a better writer.
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

If I’d written BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu, I could die happy. I love the way she combines the real world with fantasy and brings alive the hurt of losing a friend. She manages to make being human seem hyper real through fantasy, and her writing makes me so immersed. Breadcrumbs is also super dark and scary, and I love that!
Edith Cohn, SPIRIT’S KEY

One day I would love to write a book like The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I love it for its scope and the incredible characters she creates and follows through out their lives.
Sashi Kaufman, THE OTHER WAY AROUND

This is a hard one! I’m so tempted to say Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, but I’m going to have to go with God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo. It was the first book I had to re-read immediately after finishing it.
Julie Murphy, SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY

I’m tempted to say The Hunger Games, because, helloooo, BANK. But I’m going to say Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. Beautiful prose, quirky characters, gorgeous setting, poetry. It’s basically like the best date ever in a book.
–Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor because HOLY GORGEOUS WRITING, BATMAN. She could write about knitting and I’d be captivated.
Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

I’d love to claim MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY (the whole series) by Rachel Harris. The characters are so real, the romance makes me swoon, and I love the time travel elements. (I’ve always wanted to write a time travel book, but I’m so afraid I’d mess it all up!) Or if I can’t have that series, I’d claim the CAMP BOYFRIEND series by J.K. Rock for the same reason: characters that feel like real people and romance that makes my heart flutter. :)
Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEP

I’m going to say CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare. There’s something about her writing that makes me care so freaking much about the characters, and the romance between Will and Tessa is one of my all time favourites. The scene where they first kiss is a masterpiece of an example of how to create an incredible amount of romantic tension with the simple act of removing a glove.
Danielle L. Jensen, STOLEN SONGBIRD

My choice would go to JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta. I read it last year and was so struck by the beautiful writing and the stunning plot craftsmanship. And all of the characters felt so real and genuine to me; I didn’t want to leave them behind when I got to the last page. I didn’t at all expect it to affect me like it did, and I only wish I could write something so complex and touching.
Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

I’d love to be able to claim SAVVY by Ingrid Law. I am so intrigued by the idea of turning 13 and having a special power! I was captivated from the first page of her wonderful book.
Kate Hannigan, CUPCAKE COUSINS

Jaye stole my idea of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. You know what they say about great minds… Beyond the heartfelt way Jandy weaves a tale of both grief and love, loss and new beginnings, the use of Lenny’s discarded poetry is genius. I had ALL the feels after readings that book. In fact, I think I need to reread it right now!
Bethany Neal, MY LAST KISS

The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. I don’t recall how old I was when I read it, but those are the books that made me look for the small crevices and sheltered places in my own world where magic might hide. Which is another way of saying they turned me into a bizarre little child writer. I’d like to do that for some other unsuspecting creature.
Natalie Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

What book do you wish you could claim as your own? Share in the comments!

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.
2

When We Say YA

Welcome to When We Say YA! Every month, the OneFour YA authors get together to talk about everything related to young adult lit. This is our very first When We Say YA post, so this month’s topic is:

Did you always know you wanted to write YA?

I did! When I started writing, I wasn’t even a young adult yet. I was about eight, and obsessed with my big sister’s Sweet Valley Highs, and I just wanted to create gorgeous and popular California girls of my very own. So I started writing what we’d now call YA, and never stopped.
Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

Yes, I did. I began writing seriously as a teenager, so it made sense to me to write for people in my age group. I love YA so much, I’m not sure I’ll ever write anything else!
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

I didn’t! I always thought I would write for adults until I received feedback that various stories of mine might work better as YA. I tried it, and then I was hooked. No going back now!
AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

I never considered writing fiction! But when I got hooked on reading YA, stories just started collecting in my head and I gave it a try. I can’t imagine writing in another age-range now.
Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

No–my first few novels were adult SFF (even though I was a teenager at the time). When one of my adult novels wasn’t clicking I re-envisioned the characters as teenagers, and the book fell into place straightaway. All my ideas since have been YA, with a sprinkling of MG. Given that in my time in fandom, I’d spent a lot of time writing characters in that same age range, I wonder why I didn’t make the switch sooner!
Corinne Duyvis, OTHERBOUND

I am a Janie-come-lately to YA novels. I began my career writing and publishing a children’s picture story book series, ages 5-9, and NF articles for adult market magazines. Then I went back and got another degree in jounalism and wrote for newspapers. So prior to selling NO SURRENDER SOLDIER to Jacqueline Mitchard, editor of Merit Press (Adams Media/F+W Media) I was published in poetry (in English and French), picture story books, ESL/EFL fiction, HI/LO-ESL NF, NF middle-high school library books, plus articles in newspapers, magazines and journalis. My first choice in writing novels was middle grade. But along this path editors kept telling me over and over that I’m an abstract thinker who writes complex concepts in an understandable manner and I write best for YA.
Christine Kohler, NO SURRENDER SOLDIER

All of my first literary loves were YA or middle-grade. I grew up living in those imaginary worlds, and I never wanted to leave. So I didn’t.
Also, I think it helps that I’m perpetually a teenager at heart. Or at least I retain my teenager sleeping habits. (Mornings? What are mornings?)
Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE

A friend once suggested to me that we write to the ages at which we most needed stories, the ages when things happened that shaped us in some fundamental way, and I subscribe to that. For me, there are several big signposts starting around age ten and carrying into young adulthood. Since I felt like an adolescent well into my twenties, I have plenty of life experience to tap into in the YA realm, and so far that’s where my story brain has wanted to live.
Rachel M. Wilson, DON’T TOUCH

When I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing fiction, the first idea I had was what would now be considered New Adult. But at the time, NA wasn’t a thing at all, so I abandoned the idea because I couldn’t find any comp titles to read for genre guidance. Soon after that was when I really got into reading YA and I realized that was where my passion was. I may try to write something else some day, but right now YA is where my heart is!
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

Not at all! I was working on an adult novel that had some kid characters. I kept getting such great feedback on the kid characters. Everyone was most interested in them and wanted more of them, not the grown ups. That was when I realized I should follow that strength.
Sashi Kaufman, THE OTHER WAY AROUND

I thought I was going to try my hand at romance, but then I had an idea for this book and I knew the character wasn’t an adult. And then the more YA I read, the more I loved it. I’m actually writing a middle grade right now, and it feels strangely right.
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

When I joined SCBWI I wrote picture books, but then I had this idea…I thought it was going to be a short story, but it kept growing and then it sort of stalked me. I think I was afraid of writing something longer – that I couldn’t sustain it, but I adore young adult – it’s where my voice naturally settles. Such a volatile time of so many changes – how can it be anything but exciting?
Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

I read “The Catcher in the Rye” when I was nineteen and thought it was the best, most powerful book I’d ever read. I wanted to create characters like Holden, with unique voices that critiqued society and carefully examined the world around them. I didn’t start seriously writing for a number of years after reading “Catcher”, but that voice has always been an inspiration and guide. Sometimes I wonder if “Catcher” is really YA – it came about before the YA category did, so the book could probably lean in either direction (YA or adult or maybe NA) and I think that’s the direction I typically lean as well.
Chris Struyk-Bonn, WHISPER

I didn’t think I’d be a writer of anything until I was thirty, but it was a YA novel that inspired me to try. And I wanted to write something my high school (math) students would identify with and want to read. Since then, it’s been YA all the way!
R.C. Lewis, STITCHING SNOW

No. I read a lot of adult SF/F as a teen (and a lot of it from decades ago, when the YA barely existed as a separate category), so I always figured that I would be a general fantasy author–winning the Hugo and the Nebula, of course! But slowly it dawned on me that I kept writing about teenaged protagonists, and that the current YA genre was a really good fit for me. So here I am, and it’s awesome! Though I still think I would like to write adult as well someday…
Rosamund Hodge, CRUEL BEAUTY

I always read YA, and was really disappointed when I graduated high school and felt pressured to move to adult fiction (which, in my mind, was all about middle-aged white men feeling angsty and having sex). But taking fiction classes in college and grad school, I wrote more standard literary fiction, even though I was mostly interested in YA. Then, in my Shakespeare class, I did a project on Shakespearean imagery in YA and realized I was working way harder on that project than on any of my other standard fiction stuff. I threw myself into the genre after that and haven’t looked back.
Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

YA is definitely where I feel the most comfortable, although I have written a few picture book manuscripts and a MG contemporary that I absolutely adore. But when I decided to really get serious about my writing a few years ago, YA was my default category. YA contemporary books are my favorite things to read, so naturally that’s where my mind goes when I create. (My 13-year-old daughter recently took a “how old are you mentally?” quiz, and when she finished, she told me that I didn’t need to take it, because she already knew my results. “It would tell you you’re 13-18 years old, because you think just like a teenager. Good thing that’s the kind of books you write.” High praise from a girl firmly in the middle of her “my parents are so embarrassing!” years.)
Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS

I’ve been all over the place as a writer before finding my home in YA. I wrote academic prose, literary fiction, adult fantasy and sci-fi…. And then I had kids. Reading to and with them made me fall in love again with the genre I’d loved when I was a YA myself, and I’m so glad I found my way back. Now I’m re-imagining all my old, unfinished non-YA projects as YA!
Joshua David Bellin, SURVIVAL COLONY NINE

YA wasn’t such a big thing when I was a teen, and I more or less stopped reading it in my last year of high school in favour of adult fantasy novels. I didn’t start writing until I was 26, and the first couple novels that I completed were adult epic fantasy. I didn’t actually start reading YA again until I picked up a copy of Twilight to see what all the fuss was about, which got me started reading more and more of it. I found I really enjoyed the pacing and character focus in stuff written for teens, so I decided to give it a go. And I never looked back 🙂
Danielle L. Jensen, STOLEN SONGBIRD

Yes! It’s 90 percent of what I read, so it only makes sense.
Livia Blackburne, MIDNIGHT THIEF

I never thought of myself as a writer because I never thought I’d be good enough. But soon the desire to put the stories in my head onto paper overcame that fear. And since my natural voice is definitely YA rather than adult, YA became a natural niche for me.
Christy Farley, GILDED

Even as an 10-year-old scribbling stories in a notebook, I wrote about characters in their teens. At the time, it was probably just me wishing I was a teenager because, for some reason, that seemed like the ideal age. But as I got older, those sorts of books were the ones that stayed with me and left the strongest impressions. So of course, that was what I wanted to write as well.
Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

I started out trying to write adult chick lit. Whoops! I randomly stumbled upon YA when I saw an online YA writing course offered and figured I had nothing to lose. Since then I’ve never looked back. Writing for teenagers comes so naturally, I wish I’d thought of it sooner!
Robin Talley, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES

Was YA always for you, or did you try other categories/genres first? Share your answer in the comments!

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.
6

A Personalized Soundtrack for Your Novel: Creating Writing Playlists

When I’m in the early phases of writing, I don’t plot. I don’t outline. I don’t write extensive character bios.

I create playlists.

Okay, so lots of writers don’t listen to music when they work. But I think there’s a big difference in having the radio on and listening to an well-crafted collection of songs that remind you of your WIP. Music can create an immediate emotional reaction and help you find the emotional touchstones within your narrative. Think about Jaws without that ominous base soundtrack, or that wordless sequence of Up without the touching score. (I’m tearing up right now.) Why not use that kind of emotional connection in your own writing?

Maybe you don’t have John Williams or Michael Giacchino creating your novel soundtrack, but you do have your own collection of music. Here’s how my playlist-making process went for The Chance You Won’t Return:

Step 1. Start thinking about your WIP like a cat considers a speck of dust–“Oh, I don’t really care about you, I’m going to look over here instead”–before you ultimately pounce on it.

The Chance You Won’t Return started with the idea “My mother thinks she’s Amelia Earhart.” I eventually started thinking that this was from the perspective of a sixteen-year-old girl who’s also the worst driver in Driver’s Ed and is suddenly getting the attention of a hot guy at school with secrets of his own. Beyond that, I didn’t exactly know where this was going or what would happen to these characters.

Step 2. Once you have some basic characters/settings/plot in mind, go to your music collection. Start finding songs that might connect with your WIP and create a playlists with those songs.

For me, this is my iTunes library. I had a few scenes written already, and a few more in mind, so I imagined them as if they were movie scenes and tried to match those images/tones with the right songs.

The first few songs that jumped out to me were pretty literal: “Lady Pilot” by Neko Case, “Dream About Flying” by Alexi Murdoch, “Amelia Bright” by Ben Folds, and “Someday We’ll Know” by Jonathan Foreman and Mandy Moore (with the lyric “Whatever Happened to Amelia Earhart?”). These worked pretty well as I was drafting, then…

Step 3. Find songs that hit the emotional core of your scene/draft/character. Add them to your playlist and hit shuffle whenever you’re writing.

The first time I remember really connecting with the first draft of The Chance You Won’t Return was when I heard “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem. I was trying to write the scene in which Alex first drives with Jim, and this song felt perfect for the scene–there’s a slow build to it, and a constant forward momentum, and there’s the sense of being swept up in something but also feeling kind of lost.

Eventually, as I started learning more about my characters and their stories, I started finding more songs that connected emotionally for me, like “Lonelily” by Damien Rice (which reminded me of the Winchesters and leaving/coming home), “Where It’s At” by Beck (which reminded me of Alex and her best friend, Theresa), and “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” by Arcade Fire (which reminded me of Alex driving around with Jim).

By the final draft of The Chance You Won’t Return, I had 63 songs and 4 hours and 15 minutes worth of writing music. That’s a lot of time to be able to sit at the desk and not have any silence or any repeating song. Having a crafted soundtrack was a huge help in the writing process–I easily got into the right frame of mind, and didn’t get distracted by non-related music or noise.

Step 4. When you’re stuck, for other songs based on the songs you already have in your playlist.

When a scene wasn’t working for me, I’d go to a particular song that almost felt right for the scene’s mood and click “Create genius playlist.” iTunes would compile 50 other songs like that one from my library, some of which I hadn’t originally considered but were perfect and got me back in the zone.

Step 5. Listen to your playlist when you’re writing and when you’re not writing.

I’m someone who needs music while writing. It helps me shut out the rest of the world and dive into the emotional core of the story.

But sometimes a writing playlist can be just as good when you’re not writing. I would put on my The Chance You Won’t Return playlist when I was driving or walking around or on the T, and it led to some great brainstorming. Now, one of my favorite things to do is put on the playlist for whatever my WIP is when I’m traveling to conferences or retreats. It immediately puts me in the writerly frame of mind.

So maybe if you’re a pantser like me, a playlist can be a helpful tool in understanding who your characters are and where they’re going. And even if you’re not, it’s fun to have a collection of songs that remind you of your work and can get you in the writing mood at the click of a button. Or, you know, the dancing mood.

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.
0

Friday Q&A

image by Lori Ann

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

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Silly, serious, bookish–we want to know what our writers are shooting for in 2014.

Surviving debuting with my sanity relatively intact! Oh, and finishing writing/revising some books and stuff, especially my follow-up to BEHIND THE SCENES!
Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

Write more efficiently and stop wasting so much time online 😛
Livia Blackburne, MIDNIGHT THIEF

Worry less, go outside more, and write write write until my fingers are dead.
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

Finding a writing schedule that works and reaching that delicate writing/raising a houseful of kids balance/sleeping on occasion balance. I also want to finish a picture book and do more creative cross training (sketching, watercolors…).
Louise Galveston, BY THE GRACE OF TODD

I resolve to learn how to make a perfect pie crust, even if I have to bake—and eat—a lot of subpar pies to get there.
Heidi Schulz, HOOK’S REVENGE

To worry less, and enjoy the moments of this debut year– the good and the bad and the ones in between– more. And also to drink less coffee (haha just kidding I’m not going to drink less coffee).
Stefanie Gaither, FALLS THE SHADOW

What Stefanie said. (Also: be less lazy)
Michelle Krys, HEXED

Keep my house a little cleaner! Or ride my horses more! (It is an either/or dilemna :0))
Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

Figure out a way to balance writing and other commitments while keeping my mental health intact. (I suspect this will be an ongoing process!)
Corinne Duyvis, OTHERBOUND

Last year I came up with a word to be my focus for the year, and I’m going to do the same thing this year. For 2013 it was all about POSITIVITY. 2014’s word is BALANCE. This coming year is all about working toward finding a balance between Author Jess, Writer Jess, Teacher Jess, MFA Student Jess, Wife Jess, and Having A Life Jess.
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

With the theme of: “You only debut once”, my resolution is to enjoy every moment, eat more chocolate and drink more coffee.
Christy Farley, GILDED

I like Christy’s!
Edith Cohn, SPIRIT’S KEY

My focus for 2014 is to be present.
I am like a little hummingbird with a million things happening at all times, and between finishing the album and preparing for release and my YouTube channel and teaching and marriage and LIFE, I know that loving each second is key to staying sane and happy.
Kelsey Macke, DAMSEL DISTRESSED

To be more focused. I multitask constantly and need to learn how to focus on the moment sometimes.
That, and I’d really like to get to NYC :O)
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

Learn the twin arts of time management and to try to live in the moment and enjoy ever second of being a debut author.
Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

Mine is to read all my fellow OneFour’s debuts, or as many as I possibly can:)
Jen Malone, AT YOUR SERVICE

My resolution is to go easier on myself and appreciate the quiet moments. And to make more coffee at home. (Because the Starbucks baristas recognize me on sight and I’m pretty sure that’s not a good sign.)
Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE

I resolve to enjoy the process of debuting without letting myself get caught up in all the stress that seems to come with it. And to read more. I would really love to read more.
Julie Murphy, SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY

I want to start a brand new book – something I’ve never done before – something I would want to read myself. I have to admit, I’m sick of looking at my old stuff!
Chris Struyk-Bonn, WHISPER

Finish my current WIP, start a new one, read as many OneFour books as possible, say yes as much as possible, try out a lot of new recipes, and savor every moment of the debut experience.
Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

Be healthy, hale, and whole.
Look up “hale.”
Strive for healthy and whole. Except for the whiskey.
Whole. One thing, one singular thing, is an achievable year-long goal: I resolve not to break anything or lose any digits. Except figuratively. Or when I fall off of stuff.
Survive.
Natalie Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Share them in the comments!