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

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.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
0

Next Book News! This Month with Even More OneFour Book News!

IT’S A ONEFOUR SUMMER GOOD NEWS EXTRAVAGANZA! This month we’re combining the Next Book News with our updates about how our debuts are doing for a big ol’ festival of book goodness.

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!

excited-anna (1)

Skila Brown sold another book!

From the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:
From the author of CAMINAR, Skila Brown’s WITH THE END IN SIGHT, told from a 19-year old’s point of view, one of the survivors from the ill-fated Donner party, about her family’s wagon train journey from Lacon, IL to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1846, to Liz Bicknell at Candlewick, by Tina Wexler at ICM (World English).

Skylar Dorset has an official title!

The sequel to THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS has been titled THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME and will be released on December 2, 2014! (Yes, that’s six months from now!)

Erica Cameron has a sequel cover!

I now have a cover for the sequel to SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE! I present to you book 2 in The Dream War Saga, DEADLY SWEET LIES:

Nadette Lawson knows when you’re lying.

Every night for the past two years, the Balasura have visited her dreams, enticing her to enter their world. And every night she’s seen through their lies. Now, they’re tired of playing in the shadows and they begin to stalk her in the waking world. It’s no longer just an invitation; if Nadette doesn’t join them, they’ll take her family. Forever. She needs help, and the haven she’s seeking may be just out of reach.

Julian Teagan is a master of deception.

To survive, he has to convince the world his mother isn’t useless, that everything’s fine, otherwise he’ll lose what little he has left in this life. He knows the lying won’t be enough to keep him and his mother in the shadows, but it’s all he knows. The only light of truth is Orane, a Balasura who sees past Julian’s facade and challenges him to face the darkness.

Then Orane is killed, and Julian learns his mentor was far from innocent. The Balasura have hunted children like him for centuries, and their next target, Nadette is his one chance at finally being a part of something real. If Julian can just convince her to trust him…

See more information at thedreamwarsaga.com or byericacameron.com

Deadly Sweet Lies

More sequel news from Stephanie Diaz!

REBELLION, the sequel to EXTRACTION, will be released February 10, 2015.

Add it on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/18625184-rebellion
Pre-order on Amazon: www.amazon.com/Rebellion-Stephanie-Diaz/dp/1250041252/ref=la_B00FI7SQ4M_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402525743&sr=1-2

Jen Malone sold more books!

From PM:
Jen Malone’s YA debut WANDERLOST, in which a teen girl agrees to impersonate her older sister and fill in for her as a summer tour guide for a senior citizen bus trip through Europe; when their carefully constructed plan derails before she even makes it out of the airport and the tour owner’s cute son joins as a surprise guest, she’ll put her acting skills to the test, to Annie Berger at Harper Teen, in a two-book deal, by Holly Root at Waxman Leavell Literary Agency (World).

Rebecca Behrens sold another book!

From PW:
Jordan Hamessley at Egmont USA has bought North American rights to The Summer of Lost and Found, a middle-grade novel by Rebecca Behrens. In it, a girl’s father mysteriously disappears and her botanist mother drags her to Roanoke Island for a research trip, where she decides to solve the mystery of the Lost Colony. It will publish in spring 2016; Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media brokered the deal.

Nicole Maggi has a cover!

HEARTLINES is a standalone thriller coming February 2015 from SourceBooks Fire.

An exciting new thriller from Nicole Maggi about a girl whose memories are slowly being taken over after a heart transplant from a murder victim.

Georgie Kendrick wakes up after a heart transplant, but the organ beating in her chest doesn’t seem to be in tune with the rest of her body. Why does she have a sudden urge for strawberries when she’s been allergic for years? Why can’t she remember last Christmas? Driven to find her donor, Georgie discovers her heart belonged to a girl her own age who fell out of the foster care system and into a rough life on the streets. Everyone thinks she committed suicide, but Georgie is compelled to find the truth—before she loses herself completely.

heartlines

 

 

IN DEBUT BOOK NEWS:

 

FOUR STARRED REVIEWS for OTHERBOUND by Corinne Duyvis! School Library Journal gave OTHERBOUND by Corinne Duyvis its third starred review! “While Duyvis’s debut is an exciting take on the fantasy genre, as it alternates between our world and that of the Dunelands, the true strength of the novel is in its positive portrayal of LGBT issues. This becomes most important in establishing the character of Nolan, an adolescent who has experienced most of his adolescence from the perspective of a girl, and in the nuanced portrayal of Amara’s relationships.” In its FOURTH STARRED REVIEW, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books praises OTHERBOUND’s “subtle, nuanced examinations of power dynamics and privilege” and calls it “a brilliantly paced edge-of-your seat adventure.” The review concludes, “Authors should take note—this is how you do fantasy in a global world.”

 

Joshua David Bellin‘s SURVIVAL COLONY 9 garnered two great blurbs in June:
“Joshua David Bellin brings serious game in a post-apocalyptic thriller that collides breathless action with devious world building and genuine heart. A terrific novel!” — Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot & Ruin and V-Wars

“Set in a gritty post-apocalyptic world, SURVIVAL COLONY 9 is both an adventure and an exploration of what it means to be human.” –Margaret Peterson Haddix, New York Times Bestselling author of the Missing Series

 

Publishers Weekly says that AdriAnne Strickland “raises questions of identity and belonging” in her “fast-paced debut,” WORDLESS! Read the full review here.

 

Tara Dairman‘s ALL FOUR STARS got a rave review from Booklist: “Gladys is a lovable character with plenty of spunk and desire, and readers will happily cheer her on, while the fresh plot adds a delicious dimension to the host of stories set in sixth grade.”

Congratulations to the following OneFour authors recently nominated for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list: BREAKFAST SERVED ANYTIME by Sarah Combs, CAMINAR by Skila Brown, FAKE ID by Lamar Giles, SEKRET by Lindsay Smith, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY by Sharon Biggs Waller, and THE VIGILANTE POETS OF SELWYN ACADEMY by Kate Hattemer.

 

Dana Alison Levy‘s THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER got a starred review from Kirkus, who said, “The Fletcher family rules!” It was also a Summer 2014 Kids’ Indie Next Pick and received a starred review from School Library Journal, who praised its “laugh-out-loud humor, and mix of zaniness and love. Fans of Beverly Cleary’s Quimbys, Judy Blume’s Hatchers, and, more recently, Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks will fervently hope that more Fletcher misadventures are yet to come.”

 

THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES by Lauren Magaziner got a starred review from Kirkus: “Magaziner’s youthful narrative voice is distinctly aural: Her characters swish and swoop, clomp and screech. Her storytelling cauldron mixes the right balance of bizarre and banal, and she turns up the heat as the witch exam approaches. Readers will banish themselves from the ordinary world to finish this book in a flash.” THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES also got a wonderful review from Publishers Weekly: “The same goofy charm that Magaziner brings to the names of characters and settings (Mrs. Gummyum, Yammerstop Way) carries through to the details of witch life and logic in the town of Gliverstoll, resulting in a fun, frothy story that will, well, charm its readers.”

 

GILDED by Christina Farley was nominated for the Morning Calm Award in Korea in the high school division.

 

PUSH GIRL by Jessica Love and Chelsie Hill is out now, and Booklist says, “Authors Hill and Love write a moving novel…This is an emotional story with elements any teen reader can relate to, primarily the search for one’s own identity. Readers will be inspired and moved by Kara’s amazing journey.”

 

THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY by Maria Andreu won a National Indie Excellence® Book Award. School Library Journal says of THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY, “captivating,” and “Andreu deftly captures the protagonist’s desires, despair, and determination in this peek at a side of American life not often seen in YA literature”. The Cleveland Plain Dealer says, “This story is perfectly timed.”

 

Booklist says of Tracy Holczer‘s, THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY, “Readers who appreciate the quiet confidence and maturity of Cynthia Rylant’s, Patricia MacLachlan’s, and Katherine Paterson’s protagonists will find a new author to enjoy.” It’s also an Indie Next Pick for summer, and was recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

Lori M. Lee‘s GATES OF THREAD AND STONE sold World French rights to AdA.

 

The Indonesia publisher Fantasious has purchased the Bahasa translation rights to Danielle L. Jensen‘s STOLEN SONGBIRD and HIDDEN HUNTRESS!

 

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.
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.
1

Writing in the Cracks

“How on Earth do you find time to write with all those kids?” is the question I get asked constantly when people discover I have a large family.

My tribe.

My tribe.

The very wise and kind Eileen Spinelli (mother of six) once told me to “write in the cracks.” At that point, I was at Chautauqua for a Highlights Retreat and expecting my ninth child. (I was able to go on that retreat because my husband, who is the fueler of all my dreams, had taken a week of vacation to watch our kids.) At that point the cracks in my life were only big enough to cram in a short story, or snippets of poetry, so that’s what I focused on writing.

During that time I wrote during ballet practices and for a couple of hours in the evening when I would shut myself in my bedroom while my husband cared for the kids. But I really wanted to work on novels, so I decided to carve out more writing time. After the kids went to bed, I would hit the keyboard, writing until the words swam on the screen. I’d snag a nap in the afternoon (on good days) while the little ones napped and repeat the process at night.

Tight deadlines have forced me to find more productive writing times, so I’m currently trying to condition myself to getting up at five in the morning and writing until the kids wake up. I’ve found that my head is much clearer and drafting flows far better than when I’m tired at the end of the day. The problem I’m having is that I want to spend time with my teenagers and husband at night, so I don’t get to bed early enough to function without a nap next day, and the three-year-old has decided to boycott naps.

So, I’m still trying to figure out how to make more productive “cracks,” but if I can do it, anyone can! What about you? When do you do your most productive writing?

Louise Galveston is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD (Penguin/Razorbill Feb. 27, 2014). She and her husband live in the Midwest with their eleven kids and a parrot. When Louise isn’t writing or folding laundry, she directs her local children’s theater, where she’s playwright in residence.
1

Rin Chupeco: THE GIRL FROM THE WELL

The Girl from the Well (August 5, 2014; Sourcebooks)

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

—–

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. One author, four questions.  Today we’re talking to Rin Chupeco, author of THE GIRL FROM THE WELL.  And while not technically an undead spirit herself, Rin has been mistaken enough times as one hat she feels she can  competently write about them.

Hey, you’re getting published!  How’d that happen?

It almost didn’t. I live in the Philippines, where writing speculative fiction locally was discouraged – mostly because nobody has ever eked out a decent living from them. The chances of successfully establishing myself as an author in the international scene was even lower. For the longest time, I believed people when they said it wasn’t worth the effort, until a chance encounter with a rather famous writer (here’s a hint: his name starts with an ‘N’, and ends in an ‘eil Gaiman’) convinced me I’ll never know if I never try.

The thought of a nine to five job for the rest of my non-pensioned life finally scared the crap out of me, and I began to write. At first they were short stories, which got me into local and online indie publications, but with little financial compensation. From there I soon graduated to novels. I wrote a book, queried it for awhile, then shelved it after realizing I’d made the neophyte’s mistake of querying too soon. My experiences in an old building where I used to work, combined with an odd conversation with a friend about horror movies, inspired me to write a second book, which I did in roughly three months, falling back on my love for creepy Asian things and psychological ghost stories.

I knew this was THE ONE after I penned the final draft; I knew it was different, I knew there was nothing like it out yet, and I thought the concept was unusual enough to be noticed. Requests started coming in as soon as I started querying, and I eventually signed on with Rebecca Podos and Nicole LaBombard from the Helen Rees Agency. A few months later, I accepted a publishing deal with Sourcebooks, and have been thrilled ever since.

What’s your debut book about?  Can you share any cool details with us?

THE GIRL FROM THE WELL is based on the Bancho Sarayashiki, which is one of the most popular ghost stories in Japan. It’s about a young maidservant accused of something she didn’t do, but was thrown down a well as punishment. Now her ghost rises nightly from that well, unable to rest in peace. It’s the same story the movie Ringu / The Ring was based upon, but while the relentless Sadako is driven by hate and rage with little reason, my protagonist has something few ghosts are able to retain in the afterlife: a conscience, however slight that may be.

This doesn’t stop her from being violent when the situation calls for it, and while she considers most of what she does true justice, I wouldn’t say she’s been able to temper it with mercy when it comes to many of her victims – though she’s forced to reassess her centuries-old vengeance when innocent humans become involved. It’s a tale of redemption, a love story without necessarily being a romance – and it’s a story about how even the worst of monsters might still deserve what most people are often given: a second chance.

Are there any other ghost stories / urban legends you enjoy other than the Bancho Sarayashiki?

Right off the bat, I’m gonna say that Japan has some of the weirdest ghosts you will ever read about. One is Hanako-san, a little girl who has a predisposition for haunting toilets. She appears only after you knock at the  third stall of a school bathroom on the third floor, and ask for her by name, much like the Bloody Mary legend. Outcomes vary, from apparitions of a bloody hand, to her killing the caller rather gruesomely. Another more horrifying ghost is the Kuchisake-onna, a woman who wanders around with a mask on who stops and asks people if she’s pretty. If they say no, she kills them; if they say yes, she takes off her mask and shows them a mouth that has been slit from ear to ear, and asks them again. Another “no” gets them killed, and a “yes” will make her slash their mouths to give them the same disfigurement. Not exactly a good outcome for both answers.

Philippine mythology doesn’t get as much popularity as I think it deserves, too. There’s the legend of the manananggal, who’s usually a pretty girl in the daytime. At night, she has the ability to sever her body from the waist up, sprout wings, and fly over rooftops looking for babies and pregnant women to feast, on with a long prehensile tongue that can slip through small cracks in ceilings for this purpose. And there’s the tiyanak, which manifests as a crying baby apparently left in the woods or at an abandoned lot, and turns into basically an evil gremlin the instant you pick them up. I am a huge sucker for stories like these!

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

1. I was born and raised in the Philippines, but am ethnically Chinese for the most part. (I’m something of a mutt, with some Malay / Thai / Spanish / etc. trawling through the family bloodstream, though we’ve never been able to pinpoint a more definite ratio). This might explain why I’ve got huge eyes for an Asian, but STILL does not explain why I’ve got the body of a short thirteen year old girl while other family members are built like models.

2. I have foldable hands, in that I can fold them lengthwise, due in part to an old diving-into-a-shallow-pool-because-I’m-an-idiot incident. This gives me no superpowers whatsoever, other than the ability to gross people out.

3. I grew up on a steady diet of television and books, and Conan O’Brien was my babysitter for the latter part of my childhood. (On the other hand, Remington Steele appeared to be my favorite series during my toddlerhood. My father has stories  where, at two years old, I would point to Pierce Brosnan on-screen and yell: “That’s my boyfriend!”)

Despite an uncanny resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin has always maintained her sense of hummus. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps eight pets: a dog, six birds, and a husband. She’s been a time traveler, a Starfleet captain, and a mutant, because real jobs are overrated. Her YA horror, THE UNNATURAL STATES OF DEAD GIRLS IN WELLS (Sourcebooks), pitched as Dexter meets the Grudge, is due out Fall 2014.
1

Release Day-Louise Galveston, By The Grace Of Todd

Today we’re talking with Louise Galveston, author of the middle grade humorous adventure, By The Grace of Todd.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

Todd’s room borders on Hoarders-level messy. We’re talking Roomageddon here. When his mom gives him the ultimatum to clean it or miss his best friend’s birthday bash, Todd makes an amazing discovery: he has created an entire civilization of ant-sized people from the sheer grossness on his filthy sock. The “Toddlians” put their faith in their all-powerful creator, but can the kid who can’t even keep a hermit crab alive save them from Max Loving, the biggest bully at Wakefield Middle School?

I think one of the coolest things about this book are how many pieces of “me” went into it. For instance, I was a science geek as a kid (although not as smart as Todd’s brainy neighbor, Lucy), I had poodles growing up (though none as evil as Todd’s mom’s demon dog, Princess VanderPuff), I had hermit crabs (which met with better fates than Leonardo DaPinchy), and I have kids that were Todd’s and Daisy’s ages when I wrote the book. And Persephone, the cowgirl Toddlian? She’s my alter-ego. I grew up on John Wayne and Louis L’Amour. Yee-haw!

What do you do in your daily life outside of writing?

I’m a stay-at-home mom and I also direct children’s and community theater. My husband also directs–our entire family does theater together, which is really fun! I also love to sketch and watercolor. It’s just a hobby for now, but I have dreams of going to art school and one day illustrating my own stories.

What are some little known facts about you that might surprise our readers.

I was a music theater major in college and wanted to pursue a career on Broadway. Instead, I married my high school sweetheart and became a minister. I have eleven children and one grandson. We have a parrot named BB, because apparently our house isn’t noisy enough.

What excites you the most about debuting?

Meeting readers has been my favorite experience so far. I love doing school visits and connecting with kids! Next, I would have to say getting to know my fabulous fellow debut authors, who have made this journey even more wonderful. And finally, the opportunity to travel excites me; I really enjoy seeing new places. Who knows, I might even get to travel to NYC and take in a little Broadway at last!

Today’s the big day! How are you celebrating the release of By The Grace Of Todd? Any special plans?

I have a local school visit this morning, and a date with my husband at our favorite Mediterranean restaurant tonight. (Tiramisu, baby!) We’ll probably hit the local bookstores. That’s what we usually do on dates, but this time we’ll be looking for MY book! 😀

Here’s where you can buy By The Grace Of Todd:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

IndieBound

BAM!

Louise Galveston is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD (Penguin/Razorbill Feb. 27, 2014). She and her husband live in the Midwest with their eleven kids and a parrot. When Louise isn’t writing or folding laundry, she directs her local children’s theater, where she’s playwright in residence.
0

Setting; or, That Special Feeling

If you open any book called, say, How to Write Anything With the Slightest Possibility of Getting Published, there will be a chapter or a clipart bubble about setting. It doesn’t matter if your plot is unique, your dialogue is witty, and your prose is long-steeped in descriptive phrases. If you don’t have a sense of place and time for your scene, then it’s nothing more than a passing dream.

Setting is what grounds the story. It is what frames the story. It is what enriches the story.

The hard part is how to write setting well. I’m not an expert, but I do enjoy writing setting more than, well, any other part.

Here are some tips I use to develop setting:

1)   Decide on where the story takes place. Start big-picture, such as “a New York  public high school” or “the planet Schwarz.” Then work your way down to where the imminent action is taking place (“the janitor’s closet” or “on the riverbank”).

2)   Imagine what this place looks like—and then record every detail you can think of, going through the five senses. What colors do you see? What are the textures like in the rug, the pebbles, the crispy strings of the dried-out mop? What do you hear? Are there other people talking, far off? Is there an animal purring or howling? Is there water flowing or dribbling past? Can you hear the wind? Can you smell a paper mill? Or flowers? Or body odor? You get the idea. Work through these, and jot them down.

3)   Now, when does this scene take place?

4)   What sort of feeling do you want your reader to get from this time and place, in this scene?

Once you’ve got your setting all set up (haha), you’re ready for the fun part: weaving it in to the story.

Why don’t you just start off with several paragraphs describing every detail of the setting?

You can, but you might put your reader to sleep. My favorite thing to do is texturize the dialogue and some of the descriptions with little details that put the reader into the right frame of mind. I want her to feel the setting, as if she’s actually there. I want him to taste that cupcake. I want her to feel the sting of saltwater against her battle wounds. I want the reader to feel his bare feet against the cold marble tiles just as the main character feels them.

All the Feels…

To do this, you need to have your character notice these details. Don’t have your character tell the reader that the daylight is waning. Have him notice that the waxy leaves on the magnolia have lost their sheen and are deep in matte shadow. If the reader experiences these details while the characters notice them, it will develop immediacy and intimacy between the reader and the story. This is what I aim for every time I sit down to write.

Other tips:

1)   Setting descriptions are like salt…not enough, and the story is bland. Too much, and it turns the reader off.

2)   Let the details flow naturally in the story. Blend them into the dialogue, or the inner monologue (if there is any), or the narration.

3)   If you’re stuck, close your eyes and put yourself in your character’s shoes. This always grounds me back into the story.

Good luck!

(but worth it)

Amber Lough lives with her husband, their two kids, and their cat, Popcorn, in Syracuse, NY. She spent much of her childhood in Japan and Bahrain. Later, she returned to the Middle East as an Air Force intelligence officer to spend eight months in Baghdad, where the ancient sands still echo the voices lost to wind and time. Her Middle Eastern fantasy, THE FIRE WISH, is due from Random House Children’s in July 2014.
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.