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Posts tagged ‘YA spec fic novelist’

Why I Write Young Adult Novels, by Beth Revis

Eventually, someone always asks me, “Why do you write YA? When are you going to write an adult novel?”

I try not to snort too loudly in their direction.

The thing is, it’s not like it’s an accident that I write Young Adult novels and it’s not like I’m just going to quit. YA is not the training wheels of adult literature.

In fact, if I may get on my soapbox for a moment, it’s my opinion that what makes YA a genre actually has little to do with the main character’s age. It is, in fact, the least important aspect of the genre. What makes a YA novel YA is: a fast-paced plot, dynamic characters and a character who is discovering his or her place in the world (this is where the age of the character tends to come into play).

These are the things I love in the books I read. I want a page-turner. I want excitement. The key here is a character who changes and, for the first time, sees his or her place in society.

An author friend of mine, Alan Gratz, defined the difference between YA and middle grade novels as this: in a middle grade novel, the main character still sees the world as it directly relates to him or her. The novel will focus on the main character’s family, for example, or perhaps the community – but the focus is pretty tight within those constrains. A YA novel, on the other hand, may start in a close location, but the main character must realize who he or she is in the world. This can be as simple as first love, or as complex as saving society (alternatively, it can also be as simple as saving society and as complex as first love).

In all honesty, I constantly question myself in my world. Is what I am doing important? Can I make a difference? Should I just give up? In all honesty, I hope I never quit questioning myself. I don’t have all the answers. I’m still trying to find my place in the world.

That is why I write YA – and why I will probably only ever write YA.


Beth Revis’s author website:

Beth Revis’s bio page


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Across the UniverseA Million Suns (Across the Universe)Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel (Across the Universe)    Tarzan: The Greystoke LegacyWinter TownGlowDeadly Little Voices (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels)

Writing Teen Novels

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 “plog” (their version of a blog), or ask friends and fans to post positive reviews on Don’t forget, 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 Café or  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.


Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website:

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

Maximizing The Potential Of Your Writing Group, by Amy Kathleen Ryan

A writing group can be a great resource for a writer, especially when you’re starting out. Most accomplished writers I know work with a group that reads their work and comments on it with the aim of helping you polish your word-nugget into something you can sell. I’ve belonged to a few writing groups, and they have all been helpful to me in different ways. Based on my experience, here are my thoughts on how to maximize your group’s potential so that everyone gets what they need.

1. Don’t bring in a rough draft. It is no fun reading someone’s crappy writing. Your buddies shouldn’t have to slog through a piece that is barely intelligible even to you. Polish it. Get it to the point where you can’t see anything wrong and then bring it in.

2. Have a page limit. Writing groups that include a wide range of writers with different levels of output will often end up feeling unfair to someone. Maybe not every writer needs to have their work read every time. It really is best if your group tries to keep the amount you read for each other fairly even.  You don’t want to be the person who dumps a 200 page manuscript on your group when you’ve only read twelve pages for any of them. If you prefer to have your work read in a big chunk, skip your turn several times so that you have done plenty of reading for the other members. But give them fair warning that a long piece is coming their way.

3. Have serious writers in your group. Any writing group is likely to have some people who are new to professional writing along with a few people who are already published. Your level of accomplishment will become increasingly uneven as time goes on and various members sell their stories or books. If you’re in a group like this, good! That means you’re with serious writers who are trying to build a career. Stick with them.

4. Have tryouts. This goes along with the item above. You don’t want to bring in a new member if no one in your group likes his/her writing. That person doesn’t want to be in a group of people who’d rather read a cereal box than his memoir about stamp collecting. Have everyone in your group read a sample from an applying writer and have an honest discussion about whether you want to admit him/her to your group. This is a kindness both to yourselves and to the applicant, who will be better off with a group of like-minded readers.

5. Agree beforehand what type of commentary everyone is looking for. I have a tough skin. If something I’ve written is crap, I want to know it before I send it to my agent. I’m okay with harsh criticism as long as it doesn’t mask a personal slight. That’s what I’m there for. But some groups don’t work like this. Some groups say only very supportive things, some groups have rules such as, “Say two positives for every one negative.” Some groups don’t discuss the negatives out loud, but give written comments about weaknesses in a manuscript. Decide what you need, have guidelines for participation written down. That wan, if someone isn’t going along with the rules, you have a written list of rules for a reminder.

6. Have some time, either before or after critique, to just hang out and talk. I’ve learned some of the most valuable professional tidbits from writing groups, such as scuttlebutt about an editor or publisher, or ways in which the industry is changing. This time to just relax and talk together is very important to your group, and helps strengthen the bond between members.

If anyone else has anything to add about writing groups, please feel free to do so in the comments section. Now go find some cool writers and get a group started.


Amy Kathleen Ryan’s author website:

Amy Kathleen Ryan’s bio page


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Writing Teen Novels


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