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Posts from the ‘Laurie Faria Stolarz’ Category

Inexpensive Ways To Market Your Novels, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Author-driven marketing efforts are more accessible than ever – and you don’t even need to break the bank.  The next few posts on marketing were taken from a marketing packet that fellow author Lara Zeises and I prepared for a conference.

See what you can do for free:

Freebie Marketing:

Design a free Web site.  Try Google Pages or Yahoo! Pages for a sophisticated looking site that’s easy to produce (if you know how to type in Word, you can master this software).  THERE IS NO MORE IMPORTANT MARKETING TOOL THAN A WEB SITE.

Learn to love social media.  Whether you choose to establish yourself on Facebook, LiveJournal, Blogger, Twitter or all of the above, these social media sites are almost as important as web sites these days.  Bonus points if your blog serves a function or has a distinct personality.

Post to listserves/message boards.  It’s a great way to meet other authors and network outside of your local circle.  Be sure to put your web and blog addresses, as well as info about your upcoming releases, in your e-mail ‘signature’.

Work the online bookstores.  Create an Amazon.com “plog” (their version of a blog), or ask friends and fans to post positive reviews on BarnesandNoble.com. Don’t forget Booksense.com, the online presence for indie stores.

Create and send your own email newsletter.  What better way to let everyone know what you’re up to?

Introduce yourself to booksellers and librarians.  They can be your biggest advocates.

Sign stock.  Don’t forget to do this when you travel as well.

Arrange readings/signings.  Your publicist may be able to help with this, but if not, make an appointment to see a community relations rep or local owner where you’d like to do a reading/signing.  Even if two people show up, you’ve forged a connection.

Attend free literary events.  PEN New England’s Children’s Caucus offers awesome opportunities to hear other authors speak in my local area. Also, find out which authors are coming to your local libraries.

Volunteer at conferences.  Often donating your time will grant you access to the conference at a reduced rate.  So not only are you actively involved and meeting new people, you’re reaping the benefits of the conference itself.

Create reading/teacher guides for your book and offer them for download on your web site.  Better yet, seek out a young librarian or new teacher to do the work for you as a portfolio builder.

Donate your goods/services for an auction or charity.  Whether it’s a 10-page critique or signed copies of your book, you’re giving something back and getting your name out there at the same time.

Send a press release to local publications of interest – and don’t forget your alumni magazines.  Often you can get your publicist to send you their version, which you can then tailor for each publication.  Colleges especially love to brag about alumni accomplishments, and you never know who’ll be reading.

Open up an online store on CaféPress.com or Spreadshirt.com.  It doesn’t take a lot of tech savvy to design these promo items.  Get permission to use your book’s cover art, or have an artist pal whip up a logo for the fictional high school in your novel, or use royalty-free clip art. 

Volunteer to speak at a school, library or conference.  It’s a great way to try out new things.

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

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Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little Voices (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels)Project 17Silver is for Secrets     Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel (Across the Universe)TracksThe Gypsy Crown (Chain of Charms)

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Writing Dialogue In Teen Novels, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

I love writing dialogue and spend a great deal of time trying to get it right to make my characters sound like real teens.  I watch TV shows targeted to teens, eavesdrop on their conversations, read teen books and magazines, listen to the audio version of teen books, etc. – all in an effort to perfect the art of teen-speak.  While teen-speech (or any speech, for that matter) can be sloppy – people leave out words, compress phases into single words, use contractions and habitual phrases, make mistakes, etc., etc. – dialogue is highly planned.  Every line must have purpose and reason.  Just like a film gives the illusion of motion, dialogue gives the illusion of conversation, but it isn’t real.  It appears spontaneous, but it’s planned.  It appears chaotic and unexpected, but it’s reasoned and highly controlled.  Characters must have a reason for talking.  We may have to put up with real people who talk about nothing, but we don’t have to put up with characters who do the same.  I used to teach an online workshop with fellow author Lara Zeises.  Here are some of the dialogue rules that we created.

Dialogue should fulfill the following roles in the manuscript:

1) advance the plot

2) reveal character

3) reveal motivation

4) substitute narrative and

5) establish tone or mood.

If the dialogue doesn’t fill one of these criteria, then it probably can be removed without adversely affecting the story.

Some common mistakes

1. Overusing synonyms for the word “said” (cried, howled, bellowed, whispered, stated, replied, voiced, expressed, vented, responded, uttered, shouted, vocalized, asserted, declared…) – most readers don’t register the word “said”, so when you do use a special tag like “whispered” it really stands out.

2. Being too true to the way people speak (adding “um”, “like”, etc.) – unless adding an occasion or two of “like” really fits the character’s voice in a particular situation.

3. Using too much dialect.

4. Sounding too stilted or formal.

5. Using people’s names too often in conversations.

6. Losing track of who said what (that’s what speech tags are for!).

7. Unclear pronoun references (If there are three men in a room and you say “he,” which “he” are you referring to?).

8. Conversations where characters tell each other what they already know.

9. Having a character talk about things they wouldn’t normally discuss.

10. Long, boring speeches to provide information to the reader.  Show versus tell applies to dialogue as well as narrative.  Having a character tell something is still telling.

11. Busywork (when a character answers the phone, don’t have them say, “Hello”, “How are you?” etc – jump into the meat of the conversation.

12. Making all characters sound alike (or worse, making all of the characters sound just like YOU).

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

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Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little LiesDeadly Little GamesDeadly Little Voices (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels)     Cleopatra ConfessesTarzan: The Jungle Warrior: Bk. 2

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Characters And Story Development For Novels, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

There are several benefits to beginning the story development process with character.  First, it helps the writer avoid the temptation of over-plotting – of creating twists and turns that could collectively make up ten novels, never mind just one.  Beginning with character also gives the story room to grow organically.

A drawback, however, is that the writer could end up with a lack of plot – a story that doesn’t really go anywhere.  This can leave the writer feeling stuck and losing steam.  The story could also end up spiralling out of control, leaving the writer with a draft that needs to be extensively gutted.  When I first drafted Blue is for Nightmares, for example, I didn’t pre-plot at all.  In the end, a lot of what I’d written was extraneous and needed to be cut.  I threw away almost 200 pages, not  because they were poorly written but because they didn’t serve the story I was telling.

What’s best is to begin with both plot and character in mind.  Here are some questions to keep in mind as you do that:

1. What does your character want?

2. What is the conflict?  In other words, what is keeping the character from getting what he wants?  Conflict can be found in an opposing character, or it can be found within your character, i.e. if your main character wants to be loved, a lack of self-esteem may be keeping him from getting loved.

3. What aspects of character are going to affect action?  For example, if your character is lonely or feels ignored at home, she might seek attention in dangerous places.

4. What about your character’s background led to conflict with his opponent?  What need is he or she fulfilling?  What made him feel as though he/she needed to take this sort of control over someone?  You may or may not be answering these questions directly in a story, but it’s important to know the answers.

5. What is the climax of the story?  In other words, what is the highest point of tension?  Why have you chosen it?

6. Does your character finally get what she wants?  Why or why not?

7. How does your character grow?  What does he learn by the end of your story?

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

***

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Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little LiesDeadly Little GamesDeadly Little Voices (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels)     The Dog in the WoodSparkThe Gypsy Crown (Chain of Charms)

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Plotting A Novel, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

When people first begin a story, they usually get inspired by one of two things: character or plot.  There’s no one right way.  Both approaches have their benefits and drawbacks.

I often get email from aspiring novelists seeking advice when they’ve hit a roadblock in their works-in-progress.  They tell me that they were initially so excited about their stories but then, when they got to a certain point, they lost steam.  When I ask those same people what it is their character wants, what keeps that character from getting it, and what the character needs to learn in order to get it, these writers often don’t have the answers.

Perhaps a little plotting is in order.  I’ll discuss more about character in the next post.

Plotting 101:

Come up with an idea.  You want to figure out the driving force of your story.  For example, perhaps you want to write about a girl who drops out of high school to pursue her dream of becoming a Hollywood actress.  Or maybe you prefer writing about a boy who gets involved in a gang and ends up stealing from his own parents.

Choose the basics of your character. This is stuff like gender, age, situation in life, or whatever helps you picture them enough to get your plot going.  In Blue is for Nightmares, Stacey is a 16-year-old practicing Wiccan at boarding school.

Introduce your character to an initial action/problem.  This is the first event/ problem in the story that pushes the reader forward.  For example, maybe      your 15-year-old bully of a character learns that her parents are getting      divorced and she’ll have to move and start over at a new school. In Blue is for Nightmares, Stacey starts having nightmares that her roommate is going to be killed within four days’ time.

Decide what it is your character wants.  This drive will influence most if not all of your character’s decisions and actions.  It’s your character’s motivation.  In Blue is for Nightmares, Stacey wants to save her roommate before it’s too      late.  She also wants to forgive herself for ignoring nightmares that she had three years ago, because a little girl died as a result.

Decide what keeps your character from getting what s/he wants.  There are usually one or more obstacles that keep(s) your character from getting what s/he wants.  In Blue is for Nightmares, Stacey’s obstacles are many: she fears she won’t be able to stop the killer (self doubt); she has botched spells; she relies too heavily on spells and not enough on herself (lack of confidence); she failed to save someone in the past and fears it will happen again.

Have your character learn a lesson.  This lesson is usually a real turning point for your character.  Having learned this lesson, they can better achieve what they want.  In Blue is for Nightmares, Stacey learns that she is more powerful than her spells, that her spells do indeed aid her, but it’s the will and power inside her that’s most important.

Climax. this is usually the highest point of tension in the story, the place where most of your action or drama will take place.  This may be the point where your character faces his or her biggest obstacle.  In Blue is for Nightmares, Stacey figures out who the killer is and confronts him.

Resolution. this is the tying up of loose ends.  It’s also where subplots get tied up (note: a subplot is any minor plot in the novel.  For example, even though Stacey is trying to save her roommate, she’s also battling the crush she has on her best friend’s boyfriend.)  Having stopped the killer and saved her roommate, Stacey now goes away with a healthier sense of self.  We also learn whether or not she gets the boy.

If all else fails, think of plot in terms of the stuck up a tree approach.  In other words, put a someone up in a tree then throw rocks at them to get them down.

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

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Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little Voices (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels)Silver is for SecretsProject 17     Raven SpeakThe Girl Who Was Supposed to DieTarzan: The Greystoke Legacy

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Beginning A Story: 10 Things To Consider, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

1. What does your character need or want?  Why does he or she need or want it?

2. What is the conflict?  What prevents your character from getting what they need or want?

3. What about your character’s personality is going to make it difficult to get what he they need or want?

4. How will your character grow?  What will they learn as a result of this journey?  Once your character learns this, will they be able to get what they want?

5. What point of view will best serve the story and why?

6. What tense makes the most sense for your story?

7. Don’t take the word “beginning” too literally.  Begin in the middle of things.

8. Avoid lengthy explanations as to how your character got to this point in their life.  Yes, your characters have a past, but that past will become evident through dialogue, action and the choices the characters make, not necessarily through lengthy explanation.

9. You need to hook the reader’s attention from the very beginning.

10. Have fun!  It’s okay not to know everything about your novel before you begin it.  Chances are you’ll discover plenty along the way.  Remember the old adage: “the art of writing is rewriting”.

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

***

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Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little LiesDeadly Little GamesDeadly Little Voices (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels)     GenesisHappyface

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Young Adult Novels Versus Adult Novels, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Opinions range widely on this topic of young adult novels versus adult novels. Some believe that certain subjects are simply off limits in young adult literature. That may have been the case in years past, but more and more young adult literature is crossing into what some may consider to be adult and/or controversial material: four-letter words, drugs and drinking, sex and sexuality, religion… you name it. There aren’t many topics that you can’t find in young adult literature these days. So, then circling back to the question: What’s the difference between adult and young adult literature?

The easy answer to that question is that young adult literature has young adult characters. Teen characters are very present in teen books. Makes sense, right? Teens want to read about people their age.

The more complicated answer concerns the way in which “controversial” topics are covered. In young adult fiction, for example, the main character usually comes full circle as a result of overcoming obstacles and learning a lesson – one that often involves one or more “adult” issues. In adult literature, on the other hand, there isn’t as much of a need – if any need at all – for the main character to have learned such a lesson. The adult character does not necessarily need to have grown by the end, nor does he or she need to have solved his problem. The writer doesn’t have to address or even acknowledge the “controversial” issue. In other words, there isn’t as much of an overriding “moral to the story” as one might see in young adult material.

When I wrote my novel Bleed (Disney/Hyperion 2006), there was no doubt in my mind that I was writing it for adults. I’d just written a couple of books in the Blue Is For Nightmares series and I wanted to try something new, exploring edgier topics without censoring myself in any way, including the liberal use of the four-letter words and controversial topics. But by the time I went to sell it the young adult market had opened so much that Bleed was published for young adults.

Bleed is told from ten different points of view – all young adult characters. I really wanted to explore how the decisions we make everyday, even the smaller ones, can affect others in ways we may never even consider. The decision whether or not to pick up the phone or let the machine get it; the decision of walking to someone’s house versus taking the bus; or of taking a walk by a cemetery rather than at the beach - how the outcome of those decisions can have a domino effect, affecting other people’s lives… even the lives of people we may not even know. The book takes place over the course of a single day, and starts out with one girl grappling with the decision of whether or not to betray her best friend by going after her best friend’s boyfriend while the best friend is away. We see how the effect of that decision plays out, affecting all the other characters in the book.

As I was editing Bleed, I spent a great deal of time making sure that while some of the characters’ plights couldn’t possibly be solved in the course of one day, there was a glimmer of light, enabling the characters to see the way out of the holes in which they’d dug for themselves. Each character was able to learn something as a result of his or her decision, which I think is also customary of young adult literature.

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

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BleedBlue is for NightmaresDeadly Little LiesDeadly Little Games    GlowThe Night She DisappearedHold Me Closer, Necromancer

Writing Teen Novels
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On The Inspiration For My Teen Novels, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

People often ask me what inspires me to write.  The answer is that inspiration comes from all over, especially if you’re open to it: stories you hear about, snippets from the news, a really dishy reality TV show, an argument that you overheard at the local coffee shop, fortune cookie messages, dilemmas without answers, a person you encounter at the supermarket, a situation that occurred at the gym…

The point is that ideas are everywhere.  Pick one that gets your creative juices flowing.  Don’t write about a topic because you think it’s popular or timely.  The market is ever-changing: blood-thirsty vampires today, vegan-loving serial killers tomorrow.  Plus when you consider that once your book gets accepted for publication it’s often a year or more before it comes out, who knows what the market will dictate then.

Here’s how inspiration struck for some of my teen novels:

Blue is for Nightmares

The inspiration:  My readers

I was inspired to write my first novel, Blue is for Nightmares, because I wanted to write a book that would have appealed to me as a young person, namely one that had a blending of suspense, romance, drama, and dark humor.  I wasn’t a big reader as a young person, and so I wanted to get reluctant readers excited about reading.  Blue is for Nightmares was the product.

Bleed

The inspiration: A theme that interested me.

I really wanted to explore how the decisions we make everyday – even the smaller ones – can affect others in ways we may never even consider: the decision whether or not to pick up the phone or let the machine get it; the decision of walking to someone’s house versus taking the bus; or of taking a walk by a cemetery rather than at the beach; and how the outcome of those decisions can have a domino effect, affecting other people’s lives… including the lives of people we may not even know.

The book starts out with one girl (Nicole) grappling with the decision of whether or not to betray her best friend (Kelly) by going after her best friend’s boyfriend (Sean) while the best friend is away. We see how the effect of that decision plays out, affecting all the other characters in the book.

Project 17

The inspiration: A news article.

I sold Bleed in a two-book deal with Disney/Hyperion Books for Children.  Time was ticking and I needed an idea for the second book – fast.  One day when I was flipping through a local newspaper, I came upon an article concerning the controversial teardown of one the nation’s first mental institutions, which was considered  to be a historic landmark – one that was also rumored to be haunted.  I imagined a group of teens breaking in to the hospital on the eve of the demolition to film a movie.  The idea inspired me to write my novel Project 17.

The Touch series

The Inspiration: Past success and my love for series books.

Following the success of my Blue is for Nightmares series, in which my main character is plagued, and then empowered, by her premonitions, I wanted to continue working in the supernatural/paranormal genre.  Like in my Nightmares series, I wanted to explore the idea that we all have our own inner senses and intuition, and how with work we can tap into those senses and make them stronger.  I started researching different types of supernatural powers and discovered the power to sense the past or future through touching objects.  The concept fascinated me, so I wanted to bring it out in a character and show how sometimes even the most extraordinary powers can also be a curse.

In my series, Ben, the new boy at school, is rumored to have accidentally killed his ex-girlfriend.  He ends up completely reclusive as a result, getting home-schooled by tutors and not leaving his house.  Flash forward two years and Ben wants a shot at normal life again, despite his powers.  He enrols at a school a few hours from his hometown, where no one knows him or his past.  Then everything goes awry when he accidentally touches Camelia, the main character, and senses that her life is in danger.

My current work-in-progress

The inspiration: A nightmare I had.

I rarely have nightmares but I had one that felt so real and scared me to bits.  I didn’t talk about it for several days afterward.  When I finally felt able to share it, I told someone who immediately said that it needed to be a book.  I agreed and sold it to my editor last year.  I’m currently working on the draft.

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

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Blue is for NightmaresBleedProject 17Deadly Little Secret    Tarzan: The Greystoke LegacyAngel DustBlack and White

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Selling Your Teen Novel Manuscript, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Writing an entire novel that’s rich with character and appeal, and that has a clear beginning, middle and ending in which the character grows, facing obstacles along the way, isn’t an easy task. Once this is done, congratulations are in order.

Then it’s time to immerse yourself in the selling market by doing a lot of research.  Go to the new release section of bookstores armed with paper and pen, find books that are like yours, and take note of who wrote them and which publishing houses published them.  Then go home and do a Google search to find the name of the agent and/or editor for those particular books.  Sometimes, you won’t even have to Google; you’ll get lucky and flip to the Acknowledgements page of the book to find that the author has thanked their beloved agent and hardworking editor.

Start to keep a list of these names.  The editors and agents are the people that you should be targeting for your work.  Write an intelligent and presentable one-page query letter that summarizes your book and gives a brief introduction of who you are.

Sound easy?  It isn’t.  It takes patience and a thick skin.  Some people get lucky and get requests for full or partial manuscripts right away.  For most of us, it’s a much longer process – one that requires a sense of humor, a lot of waiting, and hopefully a cheering squad of writer-friends.

I’d recommend sending out batches of query letters, five at a time.  Once a rejection comes back, send out another, keeping a log of names, dates, and responses.  But, again, always do your homework.  Make informed decisions as to whom you’re sending your query.  Know who that person is, what books are on his or her list, who his or her clients are, and what he or she is looking for (if anything at all).

Once you start to get responses you’ll find there are different levels of rejection letters, from the standard form letter to the more personalized ones.  I’ve gotten fortune-cookie sized rejection letters that simply say “No, thank you”, as well as personalized letters that explain why my work wasn’t a good fit at the time.

Try not to take any of it personally.  Sometimes you’ll get a rejection purely because the market is trending in another direction or because a particular editor already has a novel like yours on his or her list.  Just keep working and learning.  When I was trying to sell Blue is for Nightmares I was continuing to write my next manuscript, Bleed, which became my fourth book published.

Personally, my initial path to publication was a rough one.  I approached editors and agents at the same time, trying to target those who worked with writers like me (namely, writers who wrote in the Young Adult supernatural/paranormal genre).  It took me a long time to sell my first novel.  I have a folder filled with rejection letters – over a hundred. My favorite one is from an editor who said: “While this is an interesting project, I do not feel it is strong enough to compete in today’s competitive Young Adult market.”  That same Young Adult novel, Blue is for Nightmares, has sold over 200,000 copies, been translated into numerous languages and has appeared on many different award lists, not to mention it’s been optioned for a TV series.

So, in addition to doing your homework, my next bit of advice is to persevere.  There are many talented writers who give up after 5, 10 or even 50 rejection letters.  Be open to learning and to getting better at your craft.  If more than one person criticizes the same point in your work – i.e. your main character whines too much – chances are you need to look at that point again.  Lastly, consider joining a writers’ group.  There’s nothing better than being in a group of like-minded writers who can help inspire and cheer you on, and who can provide constructive feedback that can help to strengthen your work.

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

***

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Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little Lessons (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels (Hardcover))Blue is for NightmaresProject 17     VibesSaraswati's WayTracks

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

5 Things Writers Of Teen Novels Should Know, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Here are five things you should know when writing a teen novel:

1. Yourself.  First and foremost, ask yourself why it is you want to write for young adults.  Is it because you have dreams of becoming the next Stephenie Meyer?  Because you see a hole in the market – perhaps it’s a topic that’s near and dear to you – that you’re itching to fill?  Maybe you and/or someone you know experienced something traumatic or triumphant during teenhood – something that serves as the inspiration for your story idea.  Or maybe it’s purely because you love those years of young adulthood and all the drama that ensues.  Whatever the reason or reasons, like any strong, three-dimensional character, it’s helpful to be conscious of your motivation as you’re drafting that book.

2. Your audience.  Read what they read, watch what they watch, eavesdrop on their conversations, and know what’s important to them.  Some have the misconception that writing for young people is easier than writing for adults, but quite the contrary can be true.  Teens are smarter and savvier than ever.  If the work isn’t authentic of those young adult years; if the teens in your book don’t sound like teens or don’t make choices that are authentic of their characters, then your young adult audience will be the first to call you on it.

3. Who’s buying.  Read Publisher’s Lunch, The New York Times, The Writer’s Digest, the Society of Children’s Books Writers & Ilustrators’ The Bulletin, and other trade publications to find out which editors are buying which types of books, and from what authors.  Take note of the genre, the word-count, and the types of characters that are selling to these editors. Also, take note of first-time authors (and which editors are buying from them). See if you can pinpoint any patterns, i.e. an editor who buys a lot of science fiction-type books, or an agent who works with a lot of mystery writers. Keep a log of these findings, particularly with respect to your own work.  Start to generate a list of potential people who might be interested in seeing your book.

4. What’s selling.  Get to know the market. Spend some serious time at bookstores, particularly in the new release section.  What books are coming out?  Which ones are getting a lot of attention?  Can you see the market changing at all? Is it trending toward a particular genre?  Or getting saturated in any one area?  Do you see or can you predict a hole in the market?

5. What’s out there. Read books in the young adult market.  Get to know your librarian; particularly one who’s really knowledgeable about the young adult market.  Librarians can provide a huge resource for aspiring writers.  They can discuss what’s popular in your local area, your region, and nationwide. They can also talk about the holes in the market; after all, they get asked by patrons on a regular basis for recommendations for certain types of books.  Librarians can also recommend really great books for you to read – those that are like the one you’re writing or that are demonstrative of what’s out there in the market. It you want to write for teens, it’s important to be reading what they’re reading and at the same time, learning from other authors, and continuing to keep abreast of the market.

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

    

United Kingdom (and beyond)

    

Australia (and beyond)

Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little LiesDeadly Little GamesDeadly Little Voices (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels)     A Million Suns (Across the Universe)Claude & Camille: A Novel of MonetSpark

Writing Teen Novels
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Why I Write For Young Adults, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

As a child, before I knew how to write – before I could even put pen to paper – I loved telling stories.  I’d go out into the neighborhood and tell the other kids about the time I went into the meadow and battled with a mountain lion.  And the time I wrestled a boa constrictor from around my neck in the fields behind our house.  My stories, of course, were lies, but I didn’t hesitate passing them off as truth.  I got a bigger reaction that way, which encouraged me to create more vivid details to heighten the tension and up the stakes.

When I got a little older and actually could write, I’d draft scripts for my Barbies and have them star in my plays and movies.  In elementary school, whenever I was asked to write about my summer or holiday vacations, I never thought that my own life was interesting enough, and so again I made things up.

You’d think that because I loved writing so much, I’d naturally enjoy reading.  But the opposite couldn’t have been truer.  I remember being in elementary school, reading pages and pages of text, and nothing sinking in.  As soon as I got slightly bored, my mind would wander and I’d have to start all over again.  I remember getting assigned to read certain novels in junior high and high school, staying up late at night, trying to absorb the words on the page.  But, so often, even though I was physically doing the assignment, mentally I was someplace else.  My eyes would scan the words, I’d flip the pages at the appropriate time, but by the end of a chapter, I’d have retained very little.

This reading phenomenon followed me to college, where I’d be assigned to read textbooks on things like microeconomics and statistical analysis.  So anxious that I wouldn’t be able to grasp what I was reading, I’d stop myself at the end of every paragraph and then summarize that paragraph in my own words (in writing), in the margin.  If you looked at any of my college textbooks now, you’d see that the margins are full of my ink.

When I graduated college with a degree in Business (because Business was “safe”), I knew that I wanted to give my dream of becoming a writer a try.  I ended up pursuing a graduate degree in Creative Writing with the full intention of writing for young people.  Those years of young adulthood are full of such angst: emotions are heightened and life is exciting and miserable at the same time.  I knew that there was so much opportunity for a writer.  But, even beyond that, I knew that I wanted to target readers that were like me as a young person – those who found themselves getting discouraged by reading, whose minds tended to wander as soon as they got bored on the page.  I wanted to create high concept, page-turning books that would grab the reluctant reader and get them excited about reading.

I remember the second week of graduate school;  I was in a class called “Writing the Young Adult Novel” and we had to go around the room and discuss what our first novel was going to be about.  Students in the class had these amazing, ground-breaking ideas for young adult literature.  But, when it got to my turn, I only knew one thing.  “I want my novel to be juicy,” I told the class.  And juicy to me meant I wanted my character to be relatable.  She couldn’t be the prettiest, the most popular, or the smartest.  She had to have drama with her friends and a rocky relationship with her parents.  I knew I wanted her to be in love with her best friend’s boyfriend (juicy). She had to have a lot of secrets (super-juicy).  And (the juiciest) the novel had to have a stalker, thus propelling it into the suspense/mystery genre, which is what I tended to gravitate toward as a young person when given the choice about reading.  And so I wrote a novel for my teen-self.  Blue is for Nightmares was the product; it was my graduate thesis, and so far it’s been my best seller, spawning a five-book series, a publishing imprint, and a potential TV series.  It’s also been translated into numerous different languages and has appeared on many different award lists, including the Top Ten Teen Pick List and the Quick Pick List for Reluctant Readers, both through the American Library Association.  But, even after all of the novel’s success, the thing that excites me most is when a young person writes to me saying that he or she used to hate reading, but that my work has since inspired him or her to read, because that is exactly what I set out to do.  I feel so grateful to be able to do this for work.

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

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Blue is for NightmaresWhite is for MagicSilver is for SecretsRed is for Remembrance    Shock PointCleopatra ConfessesCode Name Verity

Writing Teen Novels
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