0

Celebrating 2014, Awaiting 2015

What an amazing year 2014 has been! Thank YOU for your support of our books. You rock! Today on New Year’s Eve, come party with us and watch our video where we talk about our favorite moments and what we are looking forward to in 2015.

After teaching and traveling internationally, Christina Farley started writing about her adventures, tossing in a little fiction for fun. This inspired her to write GILDED, a YA about a Korean-American girl with a black belt and deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows published by Skyscape, March 1, 2014. Besides writing, Christina loves traveling, running, hanging out with her two Jedi warriors, and eating dark chocolate.
Advertisements
0

Mad For Middle Grade: Coming Up Next

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!

This is our VERY LAST POST! Thank you, readers, for taking this middle grade debut journey with us–we’ve been so extraordinarily grateful for all of your support. Since this is our last post, we wanted talk about what’s happening on the horizon for us, so you’ll be able to find us in the future!

Question: Talk about what’s coming next for you!

StolenMoon-1Rachel Searles
THE LOST PLANET
Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan

Rachel Searles is prepping for the January 27th release of her sequel, THE STOLEN MOON (which has already received a starred review from Kirkus, hooray!). She’s excited to add that THE LOST PLANET (available in paperback Jan. 27th) has been chosen for the 2015-2016 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List. Rachel will be spending the next year working on new projects and seeking the elusive balance between making time for writing and caring for a new baby. Keep up with Rachel at www.rachelsearles.com or @RachelSearles

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Matt LondonUnknown
THE 8TH CONTINENT
Razorbill/Penguin

Matt London is hard at work to bring you the continuing adventures of the Lane family. Book 2 in the series, THE 8TH CONTINENT: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, comes out February 24th, 2015. Book 3, BORN TO BE WILD, will be released later that year, in August. Beyond that, well, let’s just say there’s a continent’s worth of stories to tell. In the meantime, you can find Matt at www.themattlondon.com or on Twitter @themattlondon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Paul Durham
THE LUCK UGLIES
HarperCollins51wHT34zbrL

This fall and winter Paul Durham is visiting schools and bookstores throughout New England to talk about THE LUCK UGLIES. The second book in the trilogy, THE LUCK UGLIES: FORK TONGUE CHARMERS, arrives on March 17, 2015, and he will be packing his bags for national tour stops in far-flung places such as Houston, Austin, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon. In the meantime, Paul is writing the third book in the series, which will be released in Spring 2016. You can check in on Paul’s Luck Uglies news and occasional ramblings at www.pauldurhambooks.com, on facebook at www.facebook.com/pauldurhambooks, or on twitter @pauldurhambooks. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Louise Galveston
BY THE GRACE OF TODD
Razorbill/Penguin

Louise Galveston is excited to announce that By the Grace of Todd is a 2015-2016 Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee and will be available in paperback next month (Jan. 2015). The little Toddlians set off to find a more responsible god in the sequel, In Todd We Trust, which releases on St. Patrick’s Day. Louise and her family will be welcoming a new little person into their lives early this summer, but the title of that masterpiece is yet to be determined. You can keep up with Louise’s news and schedule of appearances at www.bythegraceoftodd.com and www.louisegalveston.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter @LouiseGalveston

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kate HanniganCC2 Summer Showers Cover short medium
CUPCAKE COUSINS
Disney-Hyperion

Kate Hannigan will be coming out with a sequel to her early middle-grade novel CUPCAKE COUSINS (Disney-Hyperion) in June 2015. Titled CUPCAKE COUSINS: SUMMER SHOWERS, it follows more adventures with Willow and Delia on their lakeside vacation. The cousins are ready to help with Aunt Rosie’s baby shower, but with Willow’s hand injured, no one seems to think they can do anything in the kitchen. They face meddling big sisters, a County Fair cooking contest, lost family heirlooms, and more. Book 3 in the series publishes in September 2016.

Detectives Assistant cover websiteKate’s historical fiction for middle-grade readers, THE DETECTIVE’S ASSISTANT, publishes in April 2015 with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers–marking the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Set just before the Civil War and inspired by America’s first real-life female detective, Kate Warne, it tells the story of 11-year-old Nell who untangles her own family’s mysteries while helping out her aunt with her detective work. It features ciphers and puzzles, as well as hair-raising thrills, as Nell and Kate Warne take part in cases that have nation-changing consequences.

Visit Kate online at http://KateHannigan.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tara DairmanStars of Summer__FINAL CVR
ALL FOUR STARS
Putnam/Penguin

For Tara Dairman, next year is looking to be just as delicious as this one was! Gladys Gatsby’s restaurant-reviewing adventures will continue in THE STARS OF SUMMER (sequel to ALL FOUR STARS), which comes out on May 5, 2015. You can find out more about it, add it on GoodReads, or preorder it here: http://taradairman.com/2014/10/14/sequel-title-cover-reveal-the-stars-of-summer/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jen Malone
AT YOUR SERVICE
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster

With her debut year in the rearview window, Jen is happy to kick back and enjoy the role of “established author” (hahahahahahaha).  Jen’s new series You’re Invited  (co-written with Gail Nall)YOU'RE INVITED launches with book one on May 19th and follows four tween girls who form a party-planning business out of their abandoned sailboat clubhouse.  Needless to say, the parties do NOT go as planned. It’s been described as “hitting that sweet spot between Babysitter’s Club and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”

Also publishing next summer is Jen’s YA with HarperImpulse entitled Map to the Stars. It tells the story of a down-to-earth girl stuck accompanying a teen star on the European promotional tour of his new movie. A “momager”, an annoying assistant, a security team, and rabid fans are plenty to navigate as the two explore a romance, but when the paparazzi hits the scene, things get really sticky.

Both are available for preorder here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jen+malone

You can follow more adventures at www.jenmalonewrites.com or @jenmalonewrites

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gayle Rosengren
WHAT THE MOON SAID
Putnam/Penguin

This has been an incredible year with so many “firsts” that it’s hard to imagine another time that will Unknown-2equal it for excitement, unless…*drum roll*… it’s the release of my second book! My middle grade novel, COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET will be published (again by Putnam/Penguin/Random House) in early August.  It’s about 12 year-old Joanna’s experiences during the week of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and it speaks to growing up in a world full of uncertainty.

In addition, I’ll be kicking off the New Year with a very special event in Batavia, Illinois at Grace McWayne Elementary School, as the featured author at their first ever Family Reading Night.  On February 5th I’ll be signing books at the annual WSRA  (Wisconsin State Reading Association) conference in Milwaukee. And other events are in the works, so it’s already plain to see that 2015 is going to be yet another amazing year.  I couldn’t be happier!

Gayle would love for you to visit her website at www.gaylerosengren.com and follow her on Twitter @GayleRosengren

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HookCover_frontonly_72Heidi Schulz
HOOK’S REVENGE
Disney-Hyperion

Heidi Schulz will not be hanging up her cutlass anytime soon. Her sequel to Hook’s Revenge, Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code, will be out next fall followed by her picture book debut, Giraffes Ruin Everything, in Spring 2016. Other future plans include finally getting around to painting the no-longer-new trim around her windows and eating pie. Catch up with her on twitter (@HeidiSchulz) or on HeidiSchulzBooks.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jennifer Downey
THE NINJA LIBRARIANS
Sourcebooks
51qfkCHJ1QL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Jen Swann Downey is looking forward to the rapid regeneration of her fingertips which sadly wore away to bloody stumps during the drafting for THE NINJA LIBRARIANS: A SWORD IN THE STACKS. The sequel will release in late 2015, a few months after the paperback release of the first book in the series, THE NINJA LIBRARIANS: THE ACCIDENTAL KEYHAND. She is also hoping to remember to frolic more along dark moonlit streets, and solve all of her family’s single sock riddles. Thanks to the readers of the OneFourKidLit posts for paying attention to all of us as we rode out on our book steeds. Hope we gave something back. Come on over and visit at www.jenswanndowney.com or https://www.facebook.com/JenSwannDowney

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Unknown-3Jennifer Torres
THE BRINY DEEP MISTERIES
Speeding Star

These days Jennifer Torres arrives at her desk promptly at  5 a.m. each morning (before the kids get up) to work on her next project, a middle-grade fantasy/mystery called SPELL’S CANOE. She continues to visit schools, libraries and bookstores promoting her debut series, THE BRINY DEEP MYSTERIES.  Jennifer is also working on a new series of biographies for Rosen Publishers to be released in 2015. Keep up with Jennifer at www.authorjennifertorres.com and on Twitter @Jenn__Torres.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rebecca BehrensWhen Audrey Met Alice final cover
WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE
Sourcebooks

Rebecca Behrens is looking forward to Audrey meeting Alice again, when the paperback edition of When Audrey Met Alice is released in May 2015. Her next book, Summer of Lost and Found, will be published by Egmont USA in early 2016. She has a short story, “Thatagirl!” running in Scholastic Scope next spring–and another one inCricket, too! In the meantime, she’s visiting schools and libraries, teaching workshops, and (slowly) writing something new. Follow her on twitter (@rebeccabehrens) or visit her online at www.rebeccabehrens.com.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lauren Magaziner
THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES
Dial/Penguin
TheOnlyThingWorseTh#FEB1942

Here’s what’s coming up next for Witchling Lauren:

1. Paperback release of The Only Thing Worse Than Witches in August 2015.
2. Book #2 scheduled to release in early 2016. While there is no definitive title (yet), Lauren can tell you that it’s about a whimsically weird school for thieves, muggers, robbers, burglars, crooks, and otherwise intolerable criminals. She’s hoping that Pilfer Academy will steal your heart. *ba-dum-tss*
3. Practicing her evil laughter
Muahahahahahaha*hacking coughs*

Follow her misadventures at http://laurenmagaziner.com/ or on twitter @laurenmagaziner.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

caminarSkila Brown
CAMINAR
Candlewick Press

Skila Brown is hard at work on her next middle grade story. In the mean time, she’ll have two new books out in the spring of 2016 with Candlewick Press: a picture book collection of shark poems, Slickety Quick, and a verse novel for teens about the ill-fated Donner Party, With the End in Sight.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dana Alison Levy18769364
THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER
Delacorte/Random House

Dana Alison Levy is delighted to continue romping with the Fletchers! The sequel, A FLETCHER FAMILY SUMMER, is due out spring 2016. When not trying to keep Sam, Jax, Eli, and Frog out of trouble, Dana will be working on more books for kids and teens, and might occasionally remember to do laundry. You can find her at www.danaalisonlevy.com, where she rarely talks about herself in the third person.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SecretHumofaDaisy paperbackTracy Holczer
THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY
Putnam/Penguin

Tracy Holczer’s novel, THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY, releases in paperback on May 1, 2015, and she is fiercely working on novel number two. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SMALL THINGS is about eleven-year-old Samantha Rossi who writes down small observations about life in order to face all the big things she can’t quite handle. Like her surgeon father coming home from Vietnam a different person, and her best friend choosing to start a Stewardess Club instead of joining the Odyssey Project the way they’d planned. It’s a story about heroes, the big and the small. It’s due out in May, 2016.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

UnderTheEggLaura Marx Fitzgerald
UNDER THE EGG
Dial/Penguin

Laura Marx Fitzgerald is hard at work at her second novel, due out in 2016 from Dial/Penguin. Tentatively titled THE GALLERY, this middle-grade mystery takes us to New York in the Roaring Twenties where a young maid discovers an heiress’s secrets through her mysterious art collection. Laura is also busy with school visits and field trips, where she is delighted to share the many real-life mysteries of the art world with elementary and middle school kids. Visit Laura at her website LauraMarxFitzgerald.com for more about writing, art, and history.

Laura looks forward to the paperback release and audiobook releases of UNDER THE EGG in spring 2015.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Q&H cover from onlineAdriana Brad Schanen
QUINNY & HOPPER
Disney-Hyperion

Adriana Brad Schanen has been visiting schools and book clubs with her debut early middle grade novel, Quinny & Hopper, which was selected as a TLA Bluebonnet Award Reading List book and picked up by Scholastic for 2015 book fairs and newsletters. She has several MG and YA projects in progress.

Check out her website in early 2015 for official news of the publication of her second book — she’s bursting to share it! adrianabradschanen.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HopeIsRobin Herrera
HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL
Amulet Books

Robin Herrera is currently finishing up what will hopefully be her second book, a humorous young adult novel set in 1990. In the meantime, she’ll continue to edit comics and graphic novels. You might catch her at the annual ALA conference in San Francisco, but for the most part she’ll be staying home in Oregon. 2015 will probably be the year Robin goes to the dentist. She is not looking forward to it.

Visit her online at robinherrera.com or on Twitter @herreracus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, that’s it from us, folks! Thanks so much for tuning in this past year and a half, and be sure to check out our archives for more of our splendiferous posts.

And now we shall ceremoniously pass the baton to our 2015 middle grade debut friends in the Fearless Fifteeners group! May your journeys be full of wonder and MAGIC!

TTFN–Ta ta for now!

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.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3

Mad For Middle Grade: Crunching Numbers

Welcome back to MAD FOR MIDDLE GRADE!

This post is going to be a bit… unconventional. We’re pulling out all the stops here. And by all the stops, I mean: all the STATS. This post is all about comparing our publishing journeys, and we’re about to prove THERE IS NO NORMAL IN PUBLISHING!!!!

Here a bit of information about this post before we reveal our numbers:

  • 15 authors participated
  • All the participants were 2014 middle grade debut authors
  • Each author was allowed to opt in or out of whichever questions he/she choses
  • All data is presented anonymously

And without further ado:

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Highest Word Count: 78,000 words
Lowest Word Count: 19,000 words
Average Word Count: 53,000 words

Genre?
7 Contemporary
4 Fantasy
2 Historical Fiction
1 Mystery
1 Novel in Verse
1 Science Fiction

Which publishers?
2 books from Abrams
2 books from Candlewick
2 books from Disney-Hyperion
1 book from HarperCollins
1 book from Macmillan
4 books from Penguin
1 book from Random House
1 book from Simon & Schuster
1 book from Sourcebooks

 

ABOUT AGENTS

Do you have an agent?
Yes: 14
No: 0
Not when the book sold, but yes now: 1

How many query letters did you send out?
Most: 74 Query Letters
Least: 1 Query Letter
Average: 22 Query Letters
A further breakdown:
8 authors had between 1 and 15 query letters.
2 authors had between 16 and 30 query letters.
2 authors had between 31 and 45 query letters.
2 authors had between 46 and 60 query letters.
1 author had over 61 query letters.

How long were you querying?
Longest time: 10 months
Shortest time: 1 week
Further breakdown:
3 authors queried for less than 1 month.
8 authors queried between 1 and 4 months.
4 authors queried between 5 and 10 months. 

How many offers did you receive from agents?
One offer: 9
Two offers: 2
Three offers: 2
Four offers: 0
Five offers: 2

How long was the editorial process with your agent?
Longest time: 9 months
Shortest time: No editorial process
Average time: 2 months

 

ABOUT THE BOOK DEAL

How long were you on submission to publishers?
Longest submission: 2 years
Shortest submission: 9 days
Further breakdown:
3 books were on submission less than 1 month.
7 books were on submission between 1 and 4 months.
2 books were on submission between 5 and 12 months.
2 books were on submission longer than 12 months.

How many offers did you receive from publishers?
One offer: 9
Two offers: 4
Three offers: 1
Four offers: 0
Five offers: 1

How many books did your publisher buy?
One book: 9
Two books: 4
Three books: 2

What was the deal range?
10 Nice Deals
2 Very Nice Deals
2 Good Deals
1 Significant Deal

How long was the time between the book sale and the book release?
Longest wait: 33 months (A little less than 3 years)
Shortest wait: 14 months (A little more than 1 year)
Average wait: 21 months (A little less than 2 years)

 

ABOUT THE STORY

The numbers below indicate those authors who responded YES to the following questions.

Does your book have:
A girl protagonist? 9
A boy protagonist? 6
Any school scenes? 8
A character who cries? 13
A character who’s a writer? 5
A character with red hair? 3
A chosen one? 0
At least one orphan? 3
Siblings? 10
A first crush? 5
Kissing? 3
Magic? 4
Dogs? 5
Cats? 3
Bunnies? 3
Any references to real-life history? 10
Any references to real-life pop culture? 8

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for tuning in! Hope you were as interested in some of these numbers as we were!

We will return on Monday December 1st for our LAST Mad For Middle Grade segment. *snozzes into a handkerchief*  The wheels are already in motion, and it’s going to be a great post–so tune in next time!

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.
 
 
0

The Author’s Voice: interview with OneFour author LISA MAXWELL

Voodoo, murder, and haunting dreams collide in Lisa Maxwell‘s spell-binding mystery, SWEET UNREST.

Lisa speaks with us about the importance of setting and research in her YA paranormal debut (Flux, 2014).

*

Lisa Maxwell is the author of SWEET UNREST (Flux, Fall 2014). When she’s not writing books, she teaches English at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys. You can find her on Twitter @lisamaxwellya most days.

*

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).
0

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.
 
 
1

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.
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:

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.