Monday, August 24, 2015

You Heard it Here First--Donna Earnhardt Has Signed with Jodell Sadler!

Congratulations to Colleen Koontz Pinyan who won a copy of the audio CD of Augusta Scattergood's book, The Way to Stay in Destiny.

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I enjoy announcing fellow writers moments of success. Today, please join with me as my friend Donna Earnhardt and Jodell Sadler of Sadler Children's Literary share the events leading up to Donna signing with Jodell.




CAROL: Donna, how did you go about finding an agent? Specifically, how did you find Jodell? 

DONNA: I used AgentQuery, Verla Kay (which is now a part of SCBWI) and other places to research agents. I talked to friends and tried to see which agents would be best for my quirky stories. I had already submitted to several agents, and Jodell was one that I wanted to submit to. And when I saw she was offering a class on pacing (in picture books), I decided to take it. One of my best decisions ever. After the class, she offered representation!

CAROL: I love stories that have happy endings--and beginnings too! What was the process like between the two of you after you took the class? 

DONNA: This is how I remember it, so Jodell can throw a noodle at me if she remembers it differently...

When I signed up for Jodell's class, I was blown away! She was approachable, down to earth and totally "got" my stories! During the course of the class, we chatted some in private messages and one day, she asked if I was represented. I gladly told her, "NO." It was the first time I'd been happy to tell someone I didn't have an agent! (And she didn't know that I had already decided to submit to her after the class was over!) She suggested we talk a week or so after the class was finished. We did. I think I talked her ear off! She wasn't scared off, though, and sent me a client/agent contract not too long after our conversation. As you can see... I signed! :)

JODELL: No noodles thrown here. Donna’s work stood out for me during my Pacing Picture Books to WOW course. I love humor and Donna paces humor well. She’s kind and funny and well grounded in the craft of writing for children. I love that. I also love her first book: Being Frank. When I saw how deeply she cares about the projects she takes on and spends the time needed to develop them into a book children will love, representation was a no-brainer. When I also read some of her older piece in free verse and found it that perfect mix of real and funny, I knew I’d love to represent her.

CAROL: Jodell, do you often to find clients through your classes? What drew you to Donna's work? Are you editorial--have you requested changes in Donna's work before subbing it?

JODELL: I like to find clients through conferences and events as well as my workshops. We spend time together in a class, and I get a good idea of how writers, or writer-illustrators, work, revise, and communicate— I learn more about them as individuals. I think the best matches for me as an agent are those who are focused on craft and the power of good writing. There are no shortcuts, secret formulas, or magic wands in this business. Writers craft the magic. It’s all BIC (Butt in Chair), hard work, and collaboration. Ray Bradbury who said that a writer learns his or her craft until it become all “in and of his fingers” and it is precisely that moment a writer is ready for an agent. A writer who focuses on craft, polishes and hones stories until heart-felt, and attends conferences and events, is an ideal client.

CAROL: What advice would you give to writers seeking representation?

DONNA: Don't give up! I had submitted to agents who loved my voice, but they didn't connect to my stories. I had heard from agents who liked both voice and stories, but not enough to represent me. But then... I met the agent who liked my voice, my stories... and me! YAY!

JODELL: Be yourself. Be quirky and follow your literary gut. Know the rules and break them with intension to fearlessly try something new and fresh. Be you. Be on the page of your writing, believe in your product, and pitch it well.

CAROL: What's next? I guess you can't give hints on editors or houses, Jodell, but if you can tell us a little about your submission process that would be excellent. Can we know what you're subbing of Donna's work, or not?

JODELL: The submission process is a bit like writing picture books. As picture book writers, we marry art to words, and, as an agent, I marry story to editor. While I prefer to keep Donna’s work on the hush until placed, I can tell you that Donna’s work exudes humor, shares life on the cuff, and is really relatable for readers. It doesn’t get much better than that.

CAROL: What are you're looking for in your "ideal" client.

JODELL: An ideal client is one who is ready to sell and sell well. I love to work with writers who work on fiction, nonfiction, and across categories. My sweet spot or niché: top-quality author-illustrators.
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Thank you Donna and Jodell, for sharing all of this with my readers. And for those of you who subscribe to Talking Story, the newsletter which I co-publish with Joyce Hostetter, we'll be giving away a copy of Being Frank in mid-September.  Click here if you want to subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter which is filled with classroom activities, book reviews, and awesome giveaways! 


Monday, August 17, 2015

The Way to Stay in Destiny- A Review and an Audio CD Giveaway!

The minute sixth-grader Theo Thomas gets off the bus and arrives in Destiny, Florida with his Uncle Raymond, I’m right there with him. Award winning author AugustaScattergood, uses great details to pull readers into the character and setting: Theo grabs his bags, baseball mitt and a tattered book, Everything You Want to Know About Baseball; the heat hits him like a slap in the face; diesel fumes whoosh around him; he encounters slithery gray stuff hanging from the trees; and no "old men in shorts and flip-flops" meet him and his uncle at the Marathon gas station. 

Theo’s shakes his head at the banner stretching across the street, Destiny, Florida: The Town Time Forgot and wonders, “Man, what am I doing here?”


Writers are encouraged to start a story at the moment in the character’s life when things change. True to that advice, Augusta starts this book with the fact that Theo’s life has taken a turn for the worse. As the story moves forward and Theo becomes acquainted with his new hometown, the reader finds out that he lived with his maternal grandparents on their Kentucky farm since his parents died in an accident when he was four. His Vietnam vet uncle had to come back from his happy life in Alaska to sell the farm, put his parents in a nursing home, and take care of him. Raymond resents it all.

At the same time that his uncle lays down the law about how life is going to be now that he's in charge, Theo is busy discovering that downstairs from his room in Miss Sister Grandersole's Rooming House and Dance Academy, there is a beautiful piano. He also makes the acquaintance of Anabel Johnson, who would rather be playing baseball than taking tap dance lessons. 

The piano is like a magnet to Theo and despite his uncle's displeasure, he can't keep his hands off of it. Miss Sister recognizes Theo's special talent to play music by ear, but all his uncle can say is, "No one but a fool wastes his time playing a piano."

Although this is Theo’s story of discovering a way to make a life without his grandparents in a new city, it is equally about Raymond coming to grips with his Vietnam nightmares and sorrows. I loved how slowly his backstory is revealed and how Theo discovers his uncle's hurts as an unappreciated Vietnam veteran. Their reconciliation is beautiful and authentic without being sappy or maudlin. 

I appreciated the way in which Augusta wove together the strands of the other character's stories. Besides Uncle Raymond's story, other sub-plots include Anabel's passion for baseball and her determination to uncover part of Destiny's history; and Miss Sister’s dancing dreams, which turned out different than she expected.

I also loved that Theo was as passionate about playing the piano as he was about practicing baseball. These two strands create a very unique character. 


There are too many great lines from this book for me to quote, but here are a few: 
  • "Music Makes Memories" the sign in Sister's practice room. The sign provides great subtext for the novel.
  • When Theo plays the piano he describes it as "music jumping out of his fingers."
  • Uncle Raymond: "I don't know nothing about raising kids. Especially ones that remind me of the bad times."
  • Theo: "I'll start acting like family when you do."
  • Uncle Raymond: "I hate everything that happened. I hate you having no one but me."
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Why did Augusta Scattergood name the town Destiny? Why does Uncle Raymond want to leave Destiny? How does Theo figure out a way for them to stay and a way for them to be a family. You’ll have to read (or listen to) the book to find out.

Here Augusta reads a snippet of The Way to Stay in Destiny (Scholastic, 2015):


I am giving away a copy of the Audio CD expertly narrated by Michael Crouch. If you would like to win, please leave me a comment (with your email address if you are new to my blog) by 6 PM August 20. If you become a new follower of my blog, or share this post on Facebook or Twitter, I'll give you additional chances to win; just let me know in your comment what you did.

This review originally was published on LitChat on July 28, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015

Behind the Scenes of Prisoner B-3087

Last week I reviewed Alan Gratz's acclaimed Holocaust book, Prisoner B-3087. Today, Alan generously agreed to answer questions about what this book has meant to him both professional and personally.


CAROL: I understand Scholastic contacted you first, to see if you were interested in writing this book. Can you share what went into that decision making process for you?

ALAN: Yes, Scholastic approached me. Jack and his wife Ruth took his story to Scholastic, and they immediately saw that it would make a great book. But neither Jack nor Ruth are writers, so Scholastic asked me to write the book. Once I heard Jack’s account of his time in the camps, I couldn't resist—it was such an incredible story! In particular, I liked that he survived. So many stories of the Holocaust of course did not end so well. And I knew that for writing middle grade, that would be important.

CAROL: What was you process for writing the book? I assumed you interviewed Jack at least once.

ALAN: I worked on the book for a while before I ever met Jack in person, using what he and his wife had told Scholastic about his experiences in World War II and doing a lot of research on the concentration camps on my own. Then, about halfway through writing the first draft, I got to fly to New York and meet Jack. We spent the afternoon at the Holocaust Museum in Manhattan, where some artifacts of Ruth's time during the war are on display.

Jack's memory isn't what it once was, and he wasn't able to remember the answers to some of the questions I had for him. But later, when he read my first draft of the book, a lot of things came back to him. I think he needed the world of the book to help jog his memory. Writing this book became a real process of discovery as Jack and I uncovered some memories he didn't know he had. I'm pleased that I was able to write something that brought the past to life again for him, even if a great deal of that past was painful.

CAROL What did you do next? I assumed you consulted other books on the Holocaust. Or did you interview other survivors? What stands out as the most helpful "other" source of information? 


ALAN: I didn't interview other survivors, but I did read more accounts of the Holocaust--both academic and personal. I think the personal accounts were the most useful. It's the details I was looking for, not the general history. Specific things that happened to people. Events I could use to show real things that happened in the Holocaust. The reality was horrific enough without having to make things up.

CAROL: This is a novel and you make it clear in the back that it is a work of fiction. I don't know if you are able to distill how you wove together Jack's story with other information about the Holocaust, but your process interests me. How did you know when to take liberties with Jack's story? Perhaps an example or two might be helpful.

ALAN: Almost everything that happens to Jack in the book is real. But as I said before, Jack's memory isn't what it once was, and Scholastic really wanted us to see each of the ten camps Jack went to. And of course as a writer, I didn't want to just see them, I wanted something important to happen in each one. So while I had amazing stories from Jack's actual experience to put in--like hiding under the floorboards from Amon Goeth, or dealing with Moonface the kapo again and again, or watching the boy Fred die, or almost dying and then being tattooed at Birkenau--there were other times where I needed to fill in the blanks in Jack's memory. He remembered being at the salt mines, but not much more than the statues there. So I added, from reading another survivor's account, the scene where Jack sees the murdered body of a Jew who worked with the Nazis in the Krakow ghetto. Later, Jack remembered being at Bergen Belsen, but didn't have a specific story to tell about that experience. I had Jack see the "zoo" they kept at that the concentration camp, where the animals were fed better than the prisoners. Again, if something happens TO Jack, it's a good bet it really happened to him. It's the stuff he just sees and witnesses that I sometimes added, as I say in the back of the book, to give a fuller and more complete vision of the Holocaust. This was, after all, a book we expected to be used in Holocaust studies in schools.

CAROL: Do you consider this a collaborative work? Did Jack read any of your drafts and/or have input into them?

ALAN: As I said, Jack and his wife Ruth did read the drafts, and they gave me feedback on them. But I really did all the writing. Their input was more to get the details right. Part of the discovery was big things, but sometimes it was just small details. When I first interviewed him, Jack didn't remember the street he grew up on. When I chose one of the few streets in the Krakow ghetto then to be his home street for the story, he read that and immediately remembered that it wasn't right--and then DID remember the correct street. It was an odd book to write in that way--it was like the character I was writing would pop up every now and then and tell me, "No! Wait! That's not how it really happened!"

CAROL Have you done any public appearances with Jack?

ALAN: Jack and I filmed a video for Scholastic, which went on a DVD shown to students before releasing them into the Scholastic Book Fairs at their schools. But we haven't done any public appearances together. He's in New York, and I'm in North Carolina. Jack and Ruth both used to do a lot of school visits, telling their stories of survival, but they're both much older now and have a harder time traveling. I do a lot of school visits in Jack's stead now, carrying the torch for him and his story to a new generation.

CAROL: How has writing this book affected you both personally and professionally?

ALAN: Personally, spending time with Jack and his story and the world of the Holocaust has made me appreciate what I have--food on the table, a roof over my head, my family, my freedom--so much more. It's so easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day First World Problems and think the world is falling apart around you. All I have to do is think about how Jack's world really DID fall apart around him, how he lost EVERYTHING, even his name, his very identity, and it puts things into real perspective.

Professionally, PRISONER B-3087 has been a huge book for me. We've already sold more than a quarter of a million copies--most of those through the Scholastic Book Fairs--which makes it easily my best-selling and most widely-read book. It's been nominated for a dozen state awards, and its won three of them. I get two or three letters from student readers every week, and all of them clamor for me to write more books about World War II. Which is exactly what Scholastic wants too! I just turned in the first draft of a book about an Irish boy who is a spy in Nazi Germany in World War II as a part of the Hitler Youth, and I'm busy developing another book about the war. I will be very happy if my career becomes writing middle grade World War II historical fiction if kids keep begging to read more!

It's hard to keep up with all of Alan's books. His most recent novel, Code of Honor was just released. I'm currently reading The League of Seven, a steampunk/alternate history fantasy which won the 2015 SIBA Young Adult Book Award. Look for my review in a few weeks. And maybe a giveaway... although I think I have to save my autographed copy for my grandkids! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

Congratulations to Tonya Goettl who won Wonder at the Edge of the World in last week's giveaway. Stay tuned for another great giveaway coming up soon. But first, two posts about Alan Gratz's middle grade Holocaust book.

I'm going to tell you from the start this review contains spoilers. It's a story driven by a young boy's desire and need to survive. But of course, the spoiler is implied by the very nature of this book. Prisoner B-3087 by North Carolina author Alan Gratz, is based on the true story of Jack Greuner, an Holocaust survivor.


The book opens in 1939 in Kraków, Poland. Yanek Gruener (much later he changes his name to Jack) is ten-years-old and his father doesn't believe that Hitler's invasion of Poland will last for more than six months. 

His family soon finds out how deadly wrong he is. 

In magnificent prose that combines accurate details from Yanek's life with historical research, Alan Gratz has woven together a painful-but-true portrayal of a young boy's determination to survive which carried him through ten concentration camps in six horrific years. 

Within three years the family goes from rationing; to losing jobs, their synagogue, and access to schools; to being sealed off within the walls of the ghetto. Life is horrible, but at least Yanek has his family around him. After his secret bar-mitzvah, he is terrified when the sick and elderly are killed. He thinks,
I was a man and I wanted to do something. Something to stop the Nazis. To save my family. I asked myself over and over again what I could do to help, but I had no answer. p.50
He argues that his family should not give in to the Nazi's demand to be "selected" and buys more time for them all. But one day he comes home and witnesses his parents being brutally herded away by the Nazi soldiers. 

Yankee is sent to the Płaszów concentration camp and is amazed to find his Uncle Moshe who gives him survival instructions: 
From now on, you have no name, no personality, no family, no friends. Do you understand? Nothing to identify you, nothing to care about. Not if you want to survive…We have only one purpose now: survive. Survive at all costs, Yanek. We cannot let these monsters tear us from the pages of the world. (pp. 68, 70)
As Yanek is packed into cattle cars and moved from one concentration camp to another he learns what he must do to survive:
  • Don't share your portion of bread with someone, even if that person might be kept alive by what you have.
  • Don't miss a roll call. You will be beaten.
  • Don't show fear. The Nazis' dogs will attack.
  • Don't befriend anyone.
  • Always obey orders. 
  • Don't think for yourself.
  • Don't question orders even if it means moving back-breaking rocks from one side of the yard and then back again. 
  • Don't fight back. If you do, you'll be killed.
  • Don't complain when you are forced to sing and entertain Nazi soldiers feasting on a dinner. Look away so your stomach won't grumble and you won't be shot. 
Yanek clings to the smallest "comforts" in his pursuit of survival:
I stood at the water pump, scrubbing my body. It was bitterly cold out, but I didn't care. I would scrub my body, I decided, each and every morning, no matter how cold it was, no matter how tired I was. I was alive, and I meant to stay that way.
…I paid careful attention to where I had been tattooed. Too many others had let their tattoos get infected, and that had taken them to the camp surgeon. You didn't want to go to the camp surgeon. Ever. I even rubbed my teeth with my wet fingers--we had not toothbrushes or toothpaste, of course, but it felt important to remember what it was like to be human. (p. 136)
As the war ends, Yanek's will to survive does not:
The war had come to Dachau, and any moment a shell or a bomb might fall on our building and kill us all. So many times I had wished for a bomb to fall on me, to end my suffering, but now I prayed that no bomb would hit me. Not now, when I was so close to the end! If only I could survive a little longer, I thought, just a little longer-- (p. 242)
As I said in the beginning of this review, it is obvious that Yanek Gruener does survive. So, it's not a spoiler to quote the last lines of this memorable book:
I stepped on board the train and didn't look back. For nine years I had done everything I could to survive. Not it was time to live. (p.256)
Next week Alan shares his process of writing Prisoner B-3087 and what it has meant to him both personally and professionally. To whet your appetite, here is a video of Alan with Jack and his wife Ruth, that Scholastic created. 

Next week Alan shares his process of writing Prisoner B-3087 and what it has meant to him both personally and professionally. To whet your appetite, here is a video of Alan with Jack and his wife Ruth, that Scholastic created. 


Monday, July 27, 2015

Wonder at the Edge of the World- and a Giveaway!

To be honest, at first I didn't think about historical fantasy being a genre until I read Wonder at the Edge of the World by Nicole Helget and was contemplating how I wanted to review it. But then I realized I've read many books with both historical and magical elements--although typically they take place prior to the 20th century. 

Set in Kansas right before the Civil War, this is the story of how a young girl, Hallelujah Wonder; and her best friend, Eustace, who is a slave, deliver a dangerous Medicine Head to the cold depths of Antarctica to prevent a Captain Greeney, a wicked Navy captain from using it to work evil. 

In a nutshell, these are the historical and magical elements of this middle grade book that is a story of adventure, friendship, and sacrifice. 

The reader gets a great glimpse into Hallelujah's (who prefers to be called Lu) character when she tells the reader that she intends to be "the first lady scientist in Kansas--maybe the only scientist at all in this sunbaked, throny-plant, tree-lonely, dirty-water, skinny-animal, dusty-air, grasshopper-happy, God-forsaken place." (p. 8,9) We also find out that her role model is her father who Captain Greeney murdered. He was not only a great explorer who discovered Antarctica, but he brought home a number of valuable artifacts. So valuable that they are hidden in a cave which only Lu and Eustace know about. 

One of the artifacts, the Medicine Head that talks, can only be heard by certain individuals--including Lu. Bundled in a crate with the instructions, "KEEP COOL. DO NOT DESTROY!" Lu feels the head calling to her. When she can't resist touching it, she sees visions from the past; including images of Captain Greeney pursuing her father in order to possess the Medicine Head's power. 

With Captain Greeney on her trail, but now knowing all of the Head's powers, Lu decides it's her job to get the Head to Antarctica--where it is cold and will never be destroyed.  

At the same time, pre-Civil War unrest infiltrates Tolerone, her midwest town. A fight between the Abolitionists and slave owners leads to a devastating fire leaving Eustace temporarily without a master. Recognizing that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be free, Eustace leaves Kansas with Lu on her quest to take the Medicine Head to Antarctica. 

Like I said, the story mixes fantasy with history and I enjoyed the historical parts the best--which shows you what kind of reader I am! I particularly appreciated how Lu describes the changes she sees in Eustace after leaving Kansas and arriving in New Bedford, Massachusetts where they hope to find passage to Antarctica: 
"Eustace is walking funny. He moves through the lanes of New Bedford with a confidence I never saw in him at home." (p. 206)

Seeing Eustace's freedom through Lu's eyes tells the reader a lot about both characters:
I try to feel what Eustace is feeling right now. I'm sure he misses his ma. I know he does. But if he had stayed in Tolerone, he'd probably have been separated form her away. He'd probably have been shipped off to work all day, every day, for mean old slave owners who would never appreciate a single thing he did or knew. They'd probably never realize how smart Eustace is. They'd probably never appreciate how loyal he is. They'd probably never see how strong and courageous he is. Or how forgiving he is. Even if he is a mama's boy and hits girls.
I wonder if he's looking around and thinking about all the possibilities he has. All those things had had hoped for his life, about being a cowboy or a scientist, are suddenly possible. I feel happy for him. But I feel a bit of unhappiness, too. I know that at some point, our journey, successful or not, will be over, and Eustace and I will have to separate. (p. 218)
When Lu finally rids herself of the Medicine Head, she's no longer a prisoner to its whims. She has found her freedom; in the same way that Eustace has found his.
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To win a copy of this novel for yourself or for a middle grade reader, leave me a comment by 6 PM on Wednesday, July 29. If you want to increase your chance of winning, please share on Facebook or Twitter and let me know in your comment which you did.  

This review was first posted on LitChat on July 2, 2015.


Monday, July 20, 2015

SCBWI Florida Workshop Part VII- Questions, Answers, & Gold Nuggets

This is my final post from the 2015 Florida SCBWI young adult workshop with Erica Rand Silverman, an agent with Sterling Lord Literistic, and Jacquelyn Mitchard, author and editor-in-chief at Merit Press. Click here for Part I  (Why Write Young Adult); Part II (Querying); Part III (Pitches); Part IV (Marketing Yourself and Your Work); Part V (Building a Lasting Career), and Part VI (Finding a YA Voice).

As promised, this post is a compendium of Jacquelyn's and Erica's answers to questions and other nuggets of writerly wisdom. 
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Who is your ideal client? 
  • Someone who is hopeful, competent, committed to their story, and wish to make it the best possible book. Someone who is flexible and takes suggestions in a spirit of generosity and is not defensive.  
  • Sometimes this can be tested by suggesting revisions. Will this potential client take my suggestions? This works both ways though--the client has to be happy with the suggestions also.
  • Clients who are also educators and/or performers.  We can package them that way, brand them. 
  • Looking for clients who are engaged in the industry. When we meet and talk, we’re feeding each other information. Clients teach us too. Be confident in what you want. If my client says yes to one hundred notes—that makes me concerned. Don’t just hand your work over. 

What are some of your favorite moments?
  • When a client and I both see the same aspect of a story in the revision process.
  • Erika: "I love the diversity of my client list. My day is full of people with lots of different types of talents. Illustrators, nonfiction and fiction writers."
  • Jacqueline: "As an editor, I love when I read a book that I want to be a part of Merit Press. As a writer, when I can see the end and am able to create a symphonic ending. Before I get the ten pages of notes of things I need to change."

What advice do you have for beginners?
  • Write. Find mentors, conferences, critique groups. 
  • Read all the time. Jacqueline: "You should be swimming in words." Erica: "Be an active reader, really notice the writing." 

Can you share your writing process?


  • Jacqueline: "I plan and research before I write. I do more than I need. I have a large tupperware container full of folders of notes, research,  and books I've consulted. I don’t just let my characters take me places. I would never build a cathedral and then realize I don’t have the cement." 


What is your best advice to writers?

  • Jacqueline: “Don’t give up! Even If you haven’t been able to get the ring on the first round. Slow and steady wins the race.”
  • Erica: "Don’t give up and publish it yourself right away. Let someone else give you money for your work. Let someone else edit your work; that will give grace to it. The critical process doesn’t happen without a group effort.” 

What is the your biggest "No-No?"
  • Erika: "Don’t send a query to my home.  Don’t take my suggestions and then sign with another agent or decide to self-publish."  
  • Jacqueline: "Don’t take my notes and suggestions and go to another publishing house and say, 'Can you give me more money?' Don’t have a specific advance in mind."

What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

  • Self-publishing is starting to wane. The cost/benefit ratio is not there. Erica: "Don't self-publish unless there’s a strategic reason for doing it." Jacqueline: "Don't make a fear-based decision."

http://www.discoverychannel.com.au/images/worlds-biggest-gold-nuggets/
NUGGETS

  • If you’re going to resist the editing process, you might as well self-publish.
  • The young adult market is doing well in foreign markets because adolescent issues transcend cultures.
  • Agents are looking for ways to adore writers. We want writers to succeed because that’s the dream we’ve showed up for.
  • Magical realism is when magical things happen in everyday life. Example: When a character touches leaves, they turn blue. It has more realism than magic and is a different genre than fantasy. Bone Gap, a new young adult book by Laura Ruby, is an example. 
  • Re: boundaries in young adult literature. You set the cringe factor. Your market is also the teacher, librarian, parent who is purchasing the book. Your job is to startle people; to be bold, but not just for the sake of shock. Be creative and artful.  Just because you can create a terrific image, doesn’t mean you should.