Category Archives: Young Adult

How Book Country Helped Me Land a Book Deal

Posted by August 25th, 2015

Please welcome Book Country member Audrey Greathouse to the blog! I met Audrey at the San Francisco Writers Conference on a panel designed to let conference participants practice their agent pitch before going to the formal pitch session the following day. Audrey’s pitch for her young adult novel THE NEVERLAND WARS was one of the best in the room: a modern retelling of Peter Pan featuring fourteen-year-old girl Gwendolyn, in denial about growing up. I knew that Audrey would be a terrific addition to our community because at the conference I saw that she is curious, kind, enthusiastic about meeting other writers, and, of course, very hardworking! Her great news this week is that all that hard work paid off: THE NEVERLAND WARS has been picked up for publication by Clean Teen Publishing. Read on to hear how Book Country was a big part of helping her land a book deal.

Audrey Greathouse's blog

From Audrey Greathouse’s blog, audreygreathouse.wordpress.com

So I got my contract signed, my forms filled out, and everything else tidied away and put in the mail last week. The good folks at Clean Teen have them now, and I just get to look forward to scheduling a video chat with the ladies in charge. I think it’s pretty neat that my publisher’s chief officers are all Texan women. That’s just neat. Who would have even conceived of such a thing fifty years back? The internet and twenty-first century are ushering in a lot of interesting change and putting a lot of power in strange geographical places now that anybody can be anywhere.

Which brings me to Book Country.

I am so lucky I found this website and had a chance to discover the possibilities of it while I was at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference six months ago (I can’t believe it’s already been half a year!) I hop around the west coast too much to regularly attend any writers group, but with Book Country I can be anywhere. It’s easy to log on and review manuscripts, and it’s so nice to know that mine is up and open to members for review too. I could not have made the revisions I did without the feedback of the Book Country community, and I feel so grateful to the people on that site who have made it what is it. Continue reading

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International Youth Day: Celebrating YA Books on Book Country

Posted by August 12th, 2015

It’s International Youth Day today, and it’s got us reading teen fiction on Book Country. We’d like to share some of our finds with you, and tell you why they kept us turning the pages. 

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The Artists CircleThe Artists Circle by Chelsea Langford

About the book: During the hypercreative Renaissance era, famed artists Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo da Vinci were the first to tap into a creative magic and harness it in their artwork. For many reasons, the world was not ready for this magic to be revealed, but it has been taught in secret for centuries. This story follows a girl, Rosie, as she comes to Florence, Italy, to study art and, under the guidance of a peculiar mentor and her new classmates, discovers her true potential as an artist and the magic that’s in her grasp, lying dormant in her imagination.

Why we love it: We’ve fallen for The Artists Circle’s protagonist, Rosie. Just picture her arriving at Villa Cielo, the school that she hopes will turn her into a true artist: “She’d be known as the late girl—or the girl of the night. The one who was stuck on a plane in stupid Norway—sorry, Norway—while everyone else was finding their new best friends and soul mates or, who knows, artistic nemeses. On the bright side, maybe people would find her mysterious, at least for a while. She could work with that.”

The Neverland WarsThe Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

About the book: Being a teentager is hard enough, but things get even harder for Gwendolyn Hoffman when her goofy kid sister, Rosemary, disappears in the night. She seems lost forever, until Rosemary comes back accompanied by her abductor, Peter Pan. Gwen is soon whirlwinded away from math classes, texting, and all expectations of modern teenagers. She learns that Neverland is facing grave turmoil. Certain adults are actively attempting to find—and destroy—the enchanted island and repurpose its magic to fix national debt and cell reception problems. Now, a teenager caught between worlds, Gwen will have to pick sides, choose between boys, and decipher her conflicting desires to find out what really matters to her.

Why we love it: This modern-day sequel of the Peter Pan story has captured our fancy. There is a brilliant twist: while Peter is still defending his beloved Neverland, he has changed, too. Peter has aged. All the time he has spent in reality, ferrying children back and forth, has added up. It has left him at the same awkward age as The Neverland Wars’ heroine, Gwen…

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Ten Awesome Authors to Follow on Tumblr!

Posted by April 28th, 2015

Ten Awesome Authors to Follow on Tumblr!

Twitter: 140 character updates. Facebook: your grandmother’s 80th birthday. Tumblr: anything and everything! Tumblr is a microblogging website where users post things like GIFs of their favorite TV scenes and thousand-word essays comparing the 15th century Medici family with the Kardashians. On average, users spend 14 minutes on Tumblr, which is longer than the average Facebook or Twitter visit. Tumblr is a great avenue to showcase your writing and engage with an eager audience. To get a better sense of what Tumblr is about, here are ten awesome authors to follow: Continue reading

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Book Country at the San Francisco Writers Conference 2015

Posted by February 11th, 2015

San Francisco Writers Conference 2015Starting this Thursday, February 12th, I’ll be representing Book Country at the San Francisco Writers Conference 2015. BC member Andrea Dunlop will be there as well, on behalf of Girl Friday Productions. I’m also hearing that other members are going to the conference. Please chime into this discussion board and let us know if you’ll be there, too!

Here’s my event schedule–if you’ll be there, please come say hi! Continue reading

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SPARK by Book Country Member Atthys Gage: On Sale Today!

Posted by December 17th, 2014

SPARK by Atthys GageCongratulations to longtime Book Country member Atthys Gage! His debut YA novel, SPARK, was originally workshopped on Book Country, and came out today from Lycaon Press.

Lucy Silag: Tell us about your first “spark” of the idea for SPARK. How did that idea grow and change over time and drafts?

Atthys Gage: It’s hard for me to pinpoint, but there is a persistent image that I associate with SPARK: someone is walking past a vacant lot; there are a couple of homeless types standing around a big metal drum, warming themselves on the scrap-wood fire lit within; sparks fly upward. The only thing is, that scene doesn’t appear in the book and never did in any version. It is, apparently, a sort of catalyst scene. Like an enzyme, it allowed the process of writing the book to take place but wasn’t consumed in the process.

LS: What has surprised you most about the experience of taking your book from an idea to a finished product?

AG: I was struck by how my own feelings changed as we neared the end. At first I was willing to fight for every little thing. Or, if not fight, then endlessly agonize over how to fix something that wasn’t quite right. By the end, I was more likely to just eliminate the problematic passage with a sweep of the blue pencil. It’s almost as though the book itself was so ready to be done and out in the world that it began resisting my efforts to fix it anymore. I’d reach out to straighten a clause or rub out a questionable comma, and it would slap my hand away like a moody teenager. Just leave it alone! Go away! I honestly think the poor thing was tired of all the attention. Continue reading

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Why #WeNeedDiverseBooks Helps Writers

Posted by June 4th, 2014

weneeddiversebooks

#WeNeedDiverseBooks has been a rallying cry among readers and writers on social media, calling to attention the lack of diversity in books, particularly in children’s and young adult genres.

It’s great to see so much attention focused on this important issue. Reading was a big part of my life growing up, but I always wished for more black female heroines in the children’s section of the library. According to a University of Wisconsin study, less than 8% of children’s books were written by or about people of color in 2013. Books are powerful in shaping how children and young adults view themselves and the world. In this increasingly connected and diverse society, it’s important that all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, class, or sexual orientation, are able to experience the joy of seeing their stories told on paper.

Why #WeNeedDiverseBooks Helps Writers

Writers play a key role in making sure the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is a success. Readers are more than ready for diverse characters and plots in books.  This is a great time to look into writing about different cultures and people you haven’t considered before.

The myth that books featuring people of color as main characters are too “niche” and do not sell is false. #WeNeedDiverseBooks shows that there is a strong market for books that portray the diversity of our world.

What Writers Can Do

#WeNeedDiverseBooks challenges us to step away from our comfort zone and write about characters that may not look like us. Here are a few things writers can do:

  • Get acquainted with the wonderful writers, readers, and bloggers who are spearheading the campaign. A great place to start is the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Twitter page.
  • Join the #WeNeedDiverseBooks conversation in our discussion board: Writing the “Other”
  • Support books that depict diversity. Whether you read romance or science-fiction, show that books with diverse characters, cultures, and lifestyles are valued.
  • Commit to writing about a character with a different race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation than you. Just starting can open the door to new possibilities. The Summer Writers Club is a great avenue for this.

Leave a comment below telling us how you feel about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Also, drop by our discussion boards and share your plans or experiences writing the “other.”

 

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RT Booklovers Convention 2014: What Alys Arden Is Excited About

Posted by May 12th, 2014

Join me in welcoming Book Country member Alys Arden back to the blog! Alys workshopped her first book, THE CASQUETTE GIRLS, on Book Country (I blogged about reading it here, and she celebrated its release here), and is now hard at work on the sequel, THE ROMEO CATCHERS. A New Orleans native, Alys is the perfect writer to help us get ready for our trip to NOLA for the RT Booklovers Convention this week. Read on for her tips about what to add to your conference itinerary.

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Conference App screenshotYou know you are the biggest nerd on the planet when you get completely overwhelmed with giddiness after the RT Booklovers Convention releases the 2014 iPhone app, and you are dancing while it downloads.

Besides the content and participating author list, I am particularly excited about the convention this year because it’s taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana, my hometown! And if you know anything about me, or have read my work, you know that my affection for New Orleans runs deep.

Post-download, I subsequently spent the rest of the afternoon reviewing every single panel/event, cross-referencing timetables and maps to create a customized schedule with the perfect blend of inspiration, information, boundary pushing and networking. I had to calm myself down a few times when I realized that two (or four) of my top picks were happening simultaneously, like, why is the Veronica Roth chat happening at the same time as the Urban Fantasy Panel? WHY?!

*Breathe*

I am currently in the process of writing a sequel to my first novel, THE CASQUETTE GIRLS, (which I workshopped on Book Country last year!) It’s a YA Paranormal Romance that takes place in the New Orleans French Quarter, so you’ll see a pattern in my top picks for #RT2014:

the casquette girlsBOOK COUNTRY: “How to Workshop Your Best Book” Wed. May 14th, 12 p.m.

Why you should be excited: Have you ever finished writing a chapter/novel/poem/short story/love letter/whatever and wished you could read it with totally fresh eyes? Or even better, have someone beta read it with unbiased eyes? That’s one of the reasons I joined Book Country (okay, also, I’m an Internet junkie and I will try anything once… okay, not anything.) As a first time writer, I thought I’d have to beg and plead for people to read my work – this wasn’t the case at all. Not only did several people from the community give me feedback on my then work-in-progress novel, but one morning I woke up to find a message from Lucy, saying that she wanted to workshop THE CASQUETTE GIRLS.  Her detailed feedback was invaluable. I still go back and read it, to this day. I only bring this up because three of the prizes being raffled at this panel are workshopping sessions with Lucy! YOU WANT TO WIN THIS PRIZE, just sayin’. Continue reading

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The Rules of the Environment: World Building with Five Senses by FATES author Lanie Bross

Posted by March 5th, 2014

Lanie BrossI’m thrilled to be blogging for Book Country today about one of my favorite subjects: world building!

One of the greatest challenges in writing paranormal and fantasy fiction is crafting a setting that feels real, even if all of the rules we normally abide by are turned inside out. Writers trust their readers to willingly suspend their disbelief and accept the truths that the prose give them, but this trust isn’t freely given—writers must earn it. Think of your favorite world building writers and try to recall what they did to build an environment that was so completely different from our own, yet so easily imaginable.

Some of my favorite writers capitalize on familiar objects, identities, and themes, which they use as the foundation for their fantastical world(s). For example, JK Rowling takes human experiences and puts a metaphorical twist on them: Dementors and Boggarts represent fear; Physical markings like scars and Dark Marks represent power; and even the names of the characters are scrambled from words and sayings we all recognize–like Voldemort, which means “Flee from death,” or “Remus Lupin,” which is a combination of Wolf and Moon. By creating metaphors out of the ordinary and familiar, JK Rowling gently leads the reader into her magical world, slowly introducing magical elements, until eventually all that is left is fantasy. One of the greatest lessons we can learn from her craft is that every world, no matter how extraordinary, fantastical, or magical, is conceivable via the human imagination. Continue reading

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Tapping Into the Middle Grade World: Robert Paul Weston on Writing for a Kid Audience

Posted by December 18th, 2013

creature-department-bookWhen I dove into Robert Paul Weston‘s middle grade book THE CREATURE DEPARTMENT, about the lovable creatures living inside an electronics factory, I was struck by the immense task middle grade writers face.There is the challenge of appealing to an adult and kid audience, the duty to educate and entertain young readers without being patronizing, and the responsibility to start them on a lifetime of reading and loving books. 

We invited Robert to share his writing methodology and the arcane art of tapping into the world of a middle grader. 

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Tapping into the world of a middle grader is not easy and can be extremely dangerous. If you’ve ever tapped into a maple tree in the dead of January to extract the sweet, sweet nectar within, then you will have no idea how to tap into the middle grade world. Making maple syrup won’t help you. (This is probably a good time to admit that I am Canadian. To me and my people, maple syrup can always be forced into a clumsy metaphor for everything in life. Except this. It can’t help you tap into the world of a middle-grader.) To do that, you must follow these steps:

1. Have as much difficulty as possible dealing with the adult world. 

Adults are crazy and misguided. They ceaselessly, fruitlessly chase after A) money, B) influence, and C) “meaningful, authentic experiences.” Fools! If you want to tap into the world of middle-graders chase after the following: A) Clouds. B) Non sequiturs. C) Butterflies as big as hippos with flaming wings and two heads, one that looks like Mussolini and another one with a long neck like a giraffe. Hint: This creature’s name is Siegfried.

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Exploring Middle Grade Fiction with Razorbill Editor Gillian Levinson

Posted by December 12th, 2013

Gillian LevinsonToday our guest is editor Gillian Levinson. Gillian edits books for young readers at the Razorbill imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group. We wanted to talk to her because she’s an expert on Middle Grade Fiction, one of the Young Adult categories that is getting more and more popular within the Book Country workshop. Check out what she has to say about her work and its place within this fascinating genre.

LS: You are a passionate editor of Middle Grade Fiction at Razorbill, which to me says you are the perfect person to define for Book Country what “Middle Grade” really means. What’s your working definition?

GL: Well, technically, a middle-grade book is one for readers 8-12 years of age in which the protagonist of the story is also around that same age. One mistake that rookies often make is thinking that because children regularly read up, a novel’s protagonist can be quite a bit older than the target readership (say 14 or 15 years old). Unfortunately, however, that’s typically not how books are shelved in stores. If a particular novel’s protagonist is in high school, for instance, many stores will not stock that book in the Middle Grade section.

In terms of genre or subject matter, Middle Grade can really be anything, but all the best Middle Grade books give the reader a real sense of escape—it could be into a fantastical world or into a historical period or into the life of a child whose life experience feels somewhat removed from that of the reader—while integrating universal emotional experiences (e.g. wanting to belong, wanting others to heed one’s opinions, wanting to feel loved, etc.). Of course, the argument could be made that most great works of fiction, irrespective of target audience, offer that same combination of the personal and the unfamiliar, but in Middle Grade, it’s absolutely central.

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