Archive for the ‘Young Adult (YA)’ Category
Sorry I missed you on Tuesday. I was thawing out.
The whole family was away on a ski trip that was awesome but very, very cold. How cold you ask?
Yeah, about a -24 on the top of the mountain. It was a mighty breezy gondola ride LOL! I felt like I was frozen half the weekend. Thank the stars for hot tubs. But, when I did get home, I was rather occupied. I had a long lost puppy to hug.
It was the first time the little fur baby stayed with someone else. He did great but once we had him back, there was lots of hugging going on. And don’t forget that when I arrived home, I had a whole different mountain to climb–Mt. Laundrious. I think I’m still out there on one of the permanent press peaks. Bleh!
But today, even though it was still cold, the kids went to school on time. There were no weather delays, which allowed me to do something fabulous called writing. *sigh* It was wonderful to have an UNINTERRUPTED chunk of time with my manuscript. I hammered out over a 1,000 words in a reasonable amount of time, but it isn’t the word count I’m writing about. (Although it makes me very happy.) Rather, what’s worthy of a blog post is the unexpected thing that happened…
BAM! One of my characters blindsided me right along with my MC.
We are both still reeling from the unexpected development. He did what??? I’m still baffled. I NEVER thought this character would do THAT. But he did. I knew it for absolute certain even though I don’t know exactly what that means for my MC at the moment. It has rattled my cage, but it also makes me content to be a pantster. The truth is that some days I panic, being a fly by the seat of my pants kind of a girl. When I hit a tough spot, I’m SURE if I could just outline, my life would be complete. COMPLETE!
But then a moment like today happens and I bask in my creative process. This development could have never come from an outline. At least not my outlines. Those are nuttier than an peanut factory. The simplest way I can explain the joy of this thing that happened, is to say that it’s a small moment of confirmation. It reminds me that I’m not really crazy–not THAT crazy anyway. *shrugs* I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, y’all.
And of course, tomorrow or maybe next week, I’ll be back to wishing I had a road map for a book, instead of just headlights, hope and instinct to guide my way. Traveling in the dark can be hard and even kind of scary, but that’s why I wrote this post. It’s to remind me that sometimes the best things happen when you aren’t looking.
I recently tagged a couple people in a Facebook post about a friend’s book trailer. I knew the subject matter of the book would highly resonate with them AND I know this author is an amazing writer. Win-Win for everyone! In less than ten minutes there were several people interested in ordering the book who never would have known about it before.
Initially, there was a little confusion because the book is available for pre-order but it won’t be out until 2/5. But one of my friends jumped in and clarified the way a pre-order works and how it’s VERY helpful to the author to have pre-orders. Was it wrong that I wanted to kiss her on the lips? I forget not everyone eats, sleeps and breathes publishing. So, today I thought I’d give some simple tips about how you can make an author’s day.
*Buy their book. Pre-order it if it isn’t out yet.
*Buy the book as a gift for a friend or a donation to a school or library.
*If you loved the book, tell everyone who has ears they should read it ASAP! Nothing can compare to word of mouth for the success of a book.
*Write a review for Amazon, Barnes and Noble or any place that sells books. It does not have to be an insanely long and complicated essay. You can write one sentence and have the eternal gratitude of the author. Reviews make us feel good, but they also are important to the gods of Amazon and it’s algorithms.
*Help the author spread the word when they run contests or share information.
*Tell the author their books had in impact on you. You may not realize it, but fan letters make our hearts grow three sizes when we read them.
Now go forth and make an author’s day. And feel free to share any additional tips in the comments.
I’ve spent the last couple weeks digging back into my WIP. After the crazy holidays and the introduction of the puppy, I needed to take my printed copy and read it while making notes. I needed to be reminded of where I was going and what I’d been trying to do as I strung words together.
But in typical fashion, every time I curled up on the couch with my pen and highlighter in hand, I felt myself getting nervous. What was I going to find as I sorted through the pages? What would I discover when I read what I had from beginning to end? The truth is that I’m always expecting a hot mess. And why shouldn’t I? It is a rough draft after all. Those are always ugly.
I finished the detailed read through today and got what I expected–something that still needs a ton of work. But I was also pleasantly surprised by what is coming out of my head when I’m not really paying close attention to the big picture. There is great stuff in there and I’m super excited. In fact, it’s giving me the incentive to push forward with the draft because, I know that when I’m done, I’ll have something worth revising. There will be avenues to explore, threads to weave and countless possibilities. I WILL make it to revision with this book LOL! Sure, CHASING ADAPTATION has sent me on a merry chase, but suddenly it feels as if it’s unfolding the way TOUCHING THE SURFACE did when it started to come together in my head. And that makes me very optimistic about the future of this story. It makes my soul flutter.
So, for all of you writers out there in the same position, stop focusing so much on the draft and just write. Think of it like driving in the dark. You can still make the journey even if you can only see as far ahead as your headlights. You’ll get there if you just keep moving forward.
It’s time for some Book Auntie Braggery because my amazing, fantastic, wonderful writer friend, Amy Nichols has a book birthday today!!!!!
In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek.
One minute Danny was running from the cops, and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body – his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee – a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom–may be his only hope of getting home.
Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension… a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.
Amy K. Nichols has been crafting stories for as long as she can remember. She is the author of YA science fiction novel Now That You’re Here, to be published by Knopf December 9, 2014. The follow-up, While You Were Gone, will be published in 2015. She is mentored by award-winning crime novelist James Sallis and lives on the edge of the Sonoran desert with her husband and children. Amy is a member of SCBWI and SFWA, as well as the Class of 2K14 debut authors. Visit her online at http://www.amyknichols.com.
I can’t wait for my copy to get here!!! If you’re just as excited as I am and want to read NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE, you can find it here…
*Barnes & Noble
In celebration of NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE it’s time to discuss some important stuff. Do you believe in a parallel universe? What other books do you love that deal with the mysteries of parallel universes?
Lots of people groan when they hear non-fiction, especially kids. The first thing that often comes to mind it BORING! But I’m here to tell you that you’re just not reading the right books. Here are some of my favorite children’s non-fiction reads that will knock your socks off.
1. Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World by Nancy Castaldo
Anyone who has ever spent time with a dog knows that dogs love sniffing! They sniff out hidden food, dirty socks, and the visitor who comes to the door. But some dogs work with police officers, soldiers and even scientists to put their “sniffers” to work. Sniffer dogs make use of the amazing biology behind their noses to protect people from bombs, catch criminals smuggling drugs, or help researchers locate a hard to find snail in a forest.
A dog’s nose is so sensitive that if a human could see as well as a dog could smell, we would be able to see the small letters on an eye chart from four (four!) miles away. Is it any wonder then that dogs can be trained to find missing people in piles of rubble or a certain flower blooming amongst hundreds or thousands of other smells?
In Sniffer Dogs you will meet many dogs and their handlers and learn all about their jobs. Some of these dogs are raised from birth to detect blood sugar levels in their owners. Others are rescued from animal shelters and their boisterous personalities help make them excellent sniffer dogs. Featuring a balance between science and social science, Sniffer Dogs will appeal to dog lovers and science lovers alike.
My boys LOVED this book so much. It’s loaded with pictures, vignettes and so much interesting information. All I can say is that next time I see Nancy she’s in trouble because my kids are REALLY pushing for a puppy and we are considering. LOL! If you already have a dog, you’ll learn a TON about what makes your dog an amazing sniffer. And I’m always a sucker for a book that has inspirational heroes in it. This is an all around great read for kids and adults. My copy is being passed around the family as we speak.
2. Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world’s most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.
Bomb is a 2012 National Book Awards finalist for Young People’s Literature.
Bomb is a 2012 Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year title.
Bomb is a 2013 Newbery Honor book.
I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Steve speak more than once and I loved hearing his transformation from “boring” text book writer to award winning author. He has learned the art of capturing the truly interesting tidbits of our history and is able to weave them together in a story like fashion that begs you to turn the page. Bomb was a captivating read and after finishing it, my boys have gone on to read more about Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust out of curiosity. We’ve also read some of Sheinken’s other books and they don’t disappoint either.
3. Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka
How did Jon Scieszka get so funny, anyway? Growing up as one of six brothers was a good start, but that was just the beginning. Throw in Catholic school, lots of comic books, lazy summers at the lake with time to kill, babysitting misadventures, TV shows, jokes told at family dinner, and the result is Knucklehead. Part memoir, part scrapbook, this hilarious trip down memory lane provides a unique glimpse into the formation of a creative mind and a free spirit.
Funny man, Jon Scieszka has always been a favorite at in the Sabatini house and I’ve seen crowds roar with laughter when he gives a presentation, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I had tears running down my face reading the chapter about the Scieszka boys on vacation in the backseat of the family station wagon. I swear it was the best laugh I had in 2014. My kids still talk about it and after we got done reading it together, I kept finding boys in bed pouring over the stories again and again.
4. Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History by Lois Miner Huey
In history class, you’ve studied people who lived long ago. But do you know just how gross daily life was in the United States around the time of the American Revolution? • People rarely bathed. • They didn’t wash most of their clothes regularly. • Their teeth were rotting. • Bedbugs feasted on people as they slept. • Lice crawled through their hair (and their wigs) day and night. Ready to step out for a breath of fresh air? Well, look out, because the streets were filled with poop. Don’t believe it? Hop in a time machine and travel back to June, 1770, in the pages of this book!
Just put Lois’ book in my shopping cart for my own boys! I’ve been long over due to read this one and I’m so excited. I was in the audience when Betsy Bird was singing it’s praises and that is all the confirmation that I needed! The boys are going to love this one. Merry Yucky Christmas to Me :o)
5. Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones
Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.
Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.
Sadly, bullying can happen at any time in your life, but for kids who look upon their favorite authors as rockstars–this is a powerful book. But it always helps to know you’re not alone. Dear Bully is a heartfelt reminder of how deeply the kid lit community is invested in it’s readers. So proud to be a YA author. <3
If I haven’t convinced you to buy non-fiction with these fabulous suggestions, remember that non-fiction is becoming a very big component of the common core curriculum. And while lots of the things about core curriculum give me hives–I LOVE anything that gets kids to read diverse material. Reading non-fiction with your kids is strengthening an important intellectual muscle that will serve them well in school and in the future. Go out and buy and read these amazing books!!!!!
Are there any great non-fiction children’s books that I need to put on my TBR list? Please share!
I’ll be back next week with more holiday book buying suggestions. Please feel free to share these with all your reader friends. I know all of these authors will be mighty appreciative. You can find more of my Best Books Holiday Shopping Blogs here…
*Best Books Holiday Shopping Guide-Some of Kim’s 2014 Favorites
I am enjoying this drafting series way more than I expected, particularly since I’m blogging while doing NaNoWriMo. And I’ve done a lot of talking about the things I’ve learned and continue to learn about the drafting process. But as I’m closing in on my #NaNoWriMo halfway mark (which means that I’m far enough along that the novelty has worn off and not far enough along to see the light at the end of the tunnel) I’ve realized that part of drafting is…
As in, knowing when to say I would rather sit on the couch tonight and catch up on The Voice while eating a big bowl of ice cream, than think deep thoughts about writing. Especially when my brain already hurts. So, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
When you’re pushing to reach a deadline, how do you “know when?” And what do you need to do to take a small break?
I’m 19,000 words into #NaNoWriMo and one of the things I’m learning about is when to draw a blank, or really when to write one. Normally when I’m drafting and I arrive at a thought that’s related to a previous thought, I take a break to go back and look up the detail. Sometimes I take a minute or two or three to ponder the direction I might be heading with something that’s surfacing from my subconscious. This break allows me to examine a creative thought or remember the name of a character I’ve been fleshing out or keep a place description uniform. It also slows me down. Normally I don’t care, I like my process and it works well for me, but in November, dilly dallying and day dreaming is a luxury I can’t afford when I’m participating in NaNoWriMo.
During my regularly scheduled drafting, slowing down might make my first draft take longer, but in my opinion it does’t really hinder my overall process because I’d have to go back and sort it all out eventually during one of my revisions. Do it here or do it there–it all has to get done in the end, right? And to be honest, I like the practice of taking a moment to look back. It allows me to better “place myself” in my own writing. When a world or it’s characters are new, it’s easy for me to get lost. I can wander around like a girl from the suburbs in NYC. Sometimes I have to retrace my steps to see where I was going.
But during crazy NaNoWriMo style drafting, I’m pushing myself to think less and let go. Stopping is counter productive. It is the fine line between drafting and revision and there’s no room for it in November or any time when you’re speed drafting. So, what’s a girl to do who can’t keep it all straight? Or what happens when I need to spend hours dreaming about what perfect book my MC should be reading in English class? I’m learning to substitute the missing thought with a CAPITAL BLANK. Here’s some of my favorite BLANKS from my draft so far…
BLANK shivered and I was sure she was picturing BLANK’S disgusting butt on the kitchen island.
“I’m not a good liar. My mother knows every single time I tell her BLANK,” I said.
“Remember that Saturday after BLANK, when she had the flu and your parents had to cancel your trip to BLANK?”
I’d seen the school’s production of BLANK and even though BLANK didn’t have a big part, he’d been in that crew of guys who’d had the audience in stitches.
I looked at my plate, there was a table spoon of BLANK in a middle of the dish. I looked at my mom’s plate, which had a serving of BLANK and BLANK that wasn’t much bigger than mine. Dad on the other hand had a large helping of BLANK.
And it works. It’s a hot mess, but it’s getting the job done at the moment. But here’s the big question–will I draft like this all the time? Absolutely not. LOL! It feels like trying to run a marathon in the dark. It makes me anxious and confused. BUT…the experience of drafting outside of my comfort zone has taught me that my natural drafting rhythm, can (and often has) easily morphed into unproductive procrastination. And getting comfortable with pushing over those unnecessary speed bumps is why I always think it’s important to try new things with our writing process. You never know how an experience will clarify your process. How it will make you a better, more flexible writer. Conscious doing almost always evolves into growth–especially when you’re drawing a BLANK.
Do you use BLANKS in your drafting process? If you do, do you find it helpful to your process? Have another method for speed drafting over the rough patches? Please share–I’m always looking for more ways to drive myself nuts LOL!
Today I’m stepping away from my ongoing NaNoWriMo experience to talk about what happens after Thought Splinters and Monkey Mind and Writing the Wrong Book. If you’ve been following this series, we’ve been talking about making drafting progress by figuring out what’s driving us to write. And we’ve been discussing how to get our publishing-centric, monkey mind to behave so we can writer the right book. And we’re also holding ourselves accountable by setting a reasonable productivity goal and then showing up to write. Hot dog, we are doing great. So, it seems like this is the perfect time to get to a drafting rewards. I like to think of this one as the horizon.
I often hear people talk about how glorious the first third of drafting is. Everything is shiny and new.
Yeah, not for me. Hate those people.
The shiny new part I experience, is the pliable lump of clay in my brain that has a few shiny splinters in it. That’s where my “new draft high” takes place. I’m giddy BEFORE I put a word on the page. But once I start writing I struggle. I find the first 1/3 of a draft like wandering around on a pitch black, moonless night in a place I’ve never been before. Without being able to see, I’m supposed to find all the good stuff out there, without bumping into all the dangerous pitfalls. It’s a scary, hot mess. And it’s slow going, which doesn’t endear me to the process. There are too many options and the whole thing gives me monkey mind.
But then something wonderful starts to happen. About the time I reach 2/3 of the way through my manuscript, I’ve started to figure out where I am. Every time it happens it’s the sun coming up and illuminating my world. I may not see everything clearly yet. There are still clouds and obstacles in my way, but I get the undeniable sense that everything I need is out in front of me. I can see the horizon and it’s beautiful.
It’s at about this time my characters start to reveal their true selves to me and I also begin to understand how they interact with each other and why. And the world I’m building begins to solidify and have rules and structure. And most importantly, sentences fly out of my mind and through my fingers that I know speak to deeper truths. They dangle there like vivid threads, brightening my horizon and waiting to be woven together later in the revision processes. This part of drafting is such a gift–enjoy it. Take a moment to appreciate what you’ve done and what you plan to do.
What is the toughest part of drafting for you? What moment gives you the gift of knowing that you’re headed in the right direction?
Officially I’m writing this on October 29th, but you should be reading this post on November 4th. Why am I so uncharacteristically prompt and organized? It’s because it’s National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWRiMo!!!!
I’m only FOUR days into my 50,000 word drafting adventure, but I’m really trying to set myself up for success. In fact, just doing NaNoWriMo, is one of the important ways I put myself in a great writing spot. I may have mentioned this like a gazillion times, but drafting is the most “painful” part of my writing process. If I could dig into my brain with a hook and pull the ideas out I would. But obviously it doesn’t work that way. Damn. But there are other ways of getting those ideas from brain to laptop. NaNoWriMo has become one of my secret techniques. I love the collective energy and I’m a wee bit competitive. It is exciting to be doing something so energetic with writers all over the world. Just watching the #NaNoWriMo thread on twitter gets me excited. And now that I won last year’s NaNoWriMo, do you really think I want to come up short this year? No, I do not. And another perk of NaNo is that it gives me a sense of writing legitimacy that I don’t have unless I have my editor giving me deadlines. With NaNo, my family seems to join in the collective enthusiasm with me anyway. They ask me if I can do (whatever it is they need me to do) AFTER I’ve gotten my writing in. It’s such a small thing, but it really illustrates how much they value my passion for my job. It makes me want to write better books and make them proud.
NaNo has also been helpful in giving me drafting success outside of the month of November. What I used to think I was capable of, has become a completely different thing than what I know I can do. This has been very enlightening to me. I’ve become a much more productive writer since I started doing NaNoWriMo. Now, don’t think it’s a magic fix. I still have days where writing gets pushed to the side for other really important things like my family and friends. And I still have stretches where I dream instead of dot i’s and cross t’s. But I really value those breaks and creative moments more now that my productivity has increased. I need that balance, but it feels better now. Setting realistic goals, based on what I know I’m capable of, has made me a better at drafting and more content with my process.
With the help of Victoria Schwab and her star calendar idea, I’ve been tracking my word count and holding myself accountable with stickers. You can find out more about it HERE, but basically it’s kind of a less intense, personalized, version of NaNo that I can use on a daily basis. It feels manageable, not as wildly all-consuming as the month of November usually is. My goal is to write at least 15,000 word a month. Which means about 500 words a day. That’s something that’s very manageable for me, especially since if I miss a couple days here or there, I can make it up with longer writing sessions at other times. And I’ll be honest, it’s the first 500 words that’s the hardest part. Once I’ve gotten going, I can usually get more words flowing.
Part of my drafting success with my Star Calendar is giving myself the same public accountability that inspires me when I’m doing NaNoWriMo, so keeping it real, here were my stats for my drafting in October…
I’m happy to report that I wrote on 20 out of 31 days (plus an extra mini two where I didn’t make stars) and my word count was 22,689 . *fist pump* Of course, that’s not 50,000 words, but like I said, outside of November, I’m looking for sustainable drafting–not burn out. I hit that mark in October and now I’m all warmed up for NaNoWriMo.
Hope you’re signed up for NaNo. If you are, we can be buddies. I’m writing under Kimmiepoppins if you want to find me. If you aren’t ready or able to try NaNoWriMo, that’s okay, but hopefully you’re doing some kind of activity that gets you inspired and enthusiastic. At the very least, get yourself your own Star Calendar and start pushing yourself to get your drafting done! Have you been using your calendar? How’s it going? Are you four days into NaNo too? How’s it going? What’s your favorite method for getting that NaNoWriMo feeling?
For me, drafting a book always starts with a question or two or three? There are always a few unshakable things floating around in my mind that puzzle me. They are like splinters–thought splinters. They get beneath my skin and won’t leave me alone.
All my books start with these sharp slivers and I love that. But thought splinters are not a plot. They are not a handful of developed characters with well rounded arcs. They are certainly not a book. No wonder drafting is not my favorite part of the process. It is very far away from the finish line and so undefined.
But at the same time, drafting is the most organic, uncensored part of my writing. If I’m doing it correctly, I get to create without a filter.
My thought splinters may be small, but they are relentless irritants that inflame deep thoughts. They are my beginning.
How do your drafts begin?