Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WRITE HABIT: #NYSCBWI15 Seven Things You Need To Know About Writing YA Fiction with Razorbill Editor Liz Tingue

Liz Tingue is an editor at Razorbill, Penguin Young Readers Group. She edits YA to picture books, including the Falling Kingdoms series by New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes, The Way We Bared Our Souls by Willa Strayhorn, the New York Times bestselling picture book Marcel the Shell with Shoes On by Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp, and Zodiac by Romina Russell, which was named one of Amazon’s best books of December. 

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She broke her talk into Acts with the Seven Things You Need to Know about Writing YA Fiction woven in. Check it out:

ACT I: Getting Started

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1. DO Read A LOT, but DON’T only Read YA. 
It's crucial to keep up with major trends and players of the YA world—but don’t limit yourself. Seek inspiration in Adult fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoirs, and biographies.

  • Join/create a book club
  • Expose yourself to diff voices and POV 
KIM TIP: just don’t expose yourself because—ya know, that might get you arrested.
  • Read about books and the book industry.
    • Follow Blogs HINT, Hint: like this one—you can sign up for email updates—I promise I won't overload
    • Follow the big ones like: 
      • Publishers Weekly
      • School Library Journal
      • Epic Reads
      • Galley Cat
  • Sign up for Publishers Weekly’s Children’s Bookshelf newsletter for biweekly updates on the children’s book biz.
  • Find inspiration everywhere—TV, movies, internet memes, viral videos,blogs. Teens don’t live in a vacuum—you shouldn’t either.
2. DO get a SOCIAL MEDIA presence and network with other writers: Find the thing that works for you and go with it.  
THINK: Twitter Wattpad
Facebook Blogger

**DON’T spend your life tweeting and forget to write your novel.   

BEST TIP: Agents and editors research querying authors on social media—no one wants a whiner or a meanie.  

SOCIAL MEDIA ROLE MODELS: John Green, Sarah Dessen, and Veronica Roth

ACT II: The Writing Process
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3. DO get to know your characters REALLY WELL

  • Know their wants and needs and know the difference.

  • Techniques to use: Character sketches

    ONCE you know your character…put him or her into ACTION. 
    Boil MC’s arc into WANTS and NEEDS

    **EDITOR TIP: If you’re doing it right, your characters WANTS and NEEDS should be in direct conflict.

    4. VOICE: You need to decide POV and tense. BUT don’t force it. It must come naturally.

    1st person: An intimate voice for a coming of age story
    3rd person: Fantasy/Sci-fi 

    **BEST TIP: If you lose momentum on your POV, try writing the story from a different character’s voice and see if it’s a better fit. Change tense. Play around. 

    PLAIN OLD COMMON SENSE: Don’t talk down to your reader. Kids are SMART. Readers are SMARTER!!

    5. PLOT & STRUCTURE: Make maps for plot & structure. DON’T be afraid to stray once in a while.

    *If you have a map, you can get back to beginning…especially if you take a detour or all off the tracks.

    **BEST TIP: Always good to know the rules of good writing AND THEN you can break them. (If appropriate)

    STRUCTURE: Beginning, Middle, End

    ACT 1: Always shorter than you think
    ACT 2: MID: Action/events etc.
    ACT 3: END

    WRITE TIP: Ask question at the end of one chapter and answer in next chapter.

    ACT III: Taking it to the Finish Line

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    Love criticism. Invite it. Ask for it. Find someone who will tell you the truth—Find a Sagittaurius. They’re honest. (Liz is a Sagittaurius and PROUD of it!)

    Edit process is part of writing.

    7. DO PERSEVERE WHEN GOING GETS TOUGH but DON’T be afraid to walk away.

    Writing is hard work. Keep at it, but if a MS isn't working, don't be afraid to walk away.  

    KIM TIP: Try something new. Don't stop writing, just work on something else.

    “YA is about the experience of being young.”


      Contemporary, Voicey, Coming of Age
    Families, friendship, alternating POV, Big romance

    (She sees and feels there’s some reeling back of love triangles.)

    Happy Writing!!


    Wednesday, March 18, 2015

    WRITE HABIT: #NYSCBWI15 Friday Intensive Editor Panel: “Great Books Happen Through Revision”

    OR The Long Title: How to Incorporate Revision Notes in Your Manuscript 

    (I like mine better)

    Moderated by Author, Martha Brockenbrough

    By Friday afternoons, most of us fizzle and droop after a long week. We're ready to shed our work clothes for our yoga pants and sweatshirts. For attendees of the conference, we already sat through a morning Agent Panel and two Group Intensives, but rather than sneak away for a caffeinated beverage, we gathered back in the ballroom for the Final Editor Panel. 

    I LOVED this session. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED. The Editors got along brilliantly. They were smart, funny, and nice, oh so nice. They LOVE books as much as we do, and they understand that it's tough being under the microscope--but a wonderful, marvelous, amazing relationship could turn an ordinary book into something extraordinary, provided we remember they're regular people just like us. (Sometimes Cliche adjectives get the point across! Catch my drift:)

    Sara Sargent, Editor at Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

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    She loves Contemporary Realistic. She LOVES sweeping romance and kissing in YA. 
    Who doesn't?!?!

    She edited Abbi Glines, the New Adult ebook trendsetter, Deb Caletti, Jennifer Echols, Julie Cross, and Aaron Karo. 

    LITTLE KNOWN FACT: The Editorial letter is the TOUGHEST part of their job. Editors HATE them.

    “We’re not up in a castle cackling, after we hit send.” 

    Editors are REAL people, with REAL emotions, and they feel REALLY bad after the send an Editorial Letter. 

    Kristin Rens, Editor at Balzer & Bray, reps PB-YA

    She has broad tastes. She likes funny, quirky picture books and MG and YA fiction with strong narrative voices and memorable characters. 

    PSST: Kristin was Sara Sargent's boss and mentor for a long time. You could feel the positive vibe between them. 

    She's worked with Audrey Vernick, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Michelle Markel, Melissa Sweet, Crytal Allen, Gretchen McNeil, and the list goes on and on.

    BEST REVISION TIP: Read your book. Again. And Again. AND Again. 

    LITTLE KNOWN FACT: She reads the book twice each round of edits. 

    EDITORIAL ROUTINE: She processes slowly and with hard copy. She gets nervous, SO nervous, when she hits send, and then if she doesn’t hear from her client, she worries and worries and worries.  **See, Editors are as neurotic as the rest of us!

    Jordan Hamessley, Adaptive Books, Formerly of Egmont USA

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    She's worked with Isla J. Bick's new series, The Dark Passages, Bree DeSpain's new series, Into the Dark, Kaitlin Ward's LGBT YA Horror, Bleeding Earth, and lots more.
    She likes dark/quirky YA, funny MG, and tends to be called the Horror girl.  

    INTERESTING FACT: She LOVES to work with her clients through every round of edits. She’s an over-collaborator if ever there was one. 

    If you work with her, get ready to talk, and I mean that in the best of way. She's positive and funny, and prepared to work!

    And that's a wrap on NY15SCBWI Editor Panel...I'm actually wondering if it's Friday already. I better go search for a caffeinated beverage, just in case...

    Write on,


    Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    WRITE HABIT: #NYSCBWI15 Conference: Friday Intensive Agent Panel

    For my third New York SCBWI conference, I decided to participate in the Friday Intensives, and I am so glad I did. The optional day at both the New York and the LA conference was money well spent. 

    BEST TIP: i urge you to spring for the extra day--the industry tips and craft insight addressed are unique to that day. I've sat through a number of Editor and Agent Panels, and the optional day Panels outshine the main conference Panels. *It's a much smaller group and therefore, they're probably more relaxed.  

    BELIEVE IT OR NOT: Agents and Editors are people too, and a room filled with 1,200 writers and illustrators is intimidating. I don't care who you are or how many times you've presented--butterflies work overtime!

    Wendy Loggia
    from Random House moderated Agents Panel. 

    INTERESTING NOTE: At Random House, there is no cap on the number of projects they can acquire.

    Wendy is sweet, approachable, and LOVES her books.

    Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Agency

    She receives between 50-75 queries/day. She looks at them at the end of her day. 
    So make yourself STANDOUT . 

    BEST TIP: Debut writers can be an advantage. No track record. No sales history. 
    She enjoys the process of starting with someone and watching her grow. She loves finding that NEW client that makes her feel all SPARKLY. (Her words, not mine—But I love her already.)

    QUERY ADVICE: If she says NO to you, it’s a no. Six months later: still a NO. 1 year after that: still NO.

    John Cusick,Agent with Greenhouse Literary Agency

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    He receives between 20-30 queries/day. He looks at them in the evenings/weekends.
    Make him laugh.

    BEST TIP: Start with Amazing First Line

    QUERY ADVICE: Even if he said ,“No,” to one project, he’s fine with receiving new projects from the same person. He likes that you think enough of him to send new projects his way.

    Molly Ker Hawn, Agent with the Bent Agency

    She receives between 150-200 queries/week. She reads them ALL herself, usually first thing in the morning with her tea.
    So make her smile and try not to be TOO loud first thing:)

    BEST TIP: You worked HARD on your MS. Your query should be just as Good.

    QUERY ADVICE: Give her something she needs to know what happens. 

    *She likes receiving new projects from prior submitters. It shows your resilience. Writers MUST be resilient.

    KIM QUERY TIP: Before you submit, go to the Agents' websites and find out what types of books they represent. Cruise around twitter and find out what their interests are. I call this cyberstalking--but you know, in a good way:) THEN, and ONLY THEN, if you think that Agent is a good fit--meaning, he or she represents the type of book you've written, FOLLOW the submission guidelines. You get ONE chance to make an impression, so make it COUNT.  

    Good luck and Write on,

    Kim Briggs

    Tuesday, March 3, 2015

    WRITE HABIT: #NYSCBWI15 Editors Panel: Children's Books 2015: Report from the Front Lines

    So I learned a LOAD of useful information on the 2015 State of Children’s Books from an Amazing Editors Panel at the NY15SCBWI Conference. Check out what the experts had to say.

    Justin Chanda, VP & Publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 3 imprints of S&S

    BEST ADVICE: “We’re growing generations of readers.”

    MY TAKE: Start them young and they will read with you for life!!

    Laura Godwin, VP & Publisher of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Imprint of Macmillian, 5 imprints

    She thinks we’ll see a Picture Book Renaissance, and here’s why: picture books are on the upswing.

    Social media allows authors to push their own books and other books—it’s great publicity for everyone all around.

    MY TAKE: I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again and again. Writers and Illustrators are soooo GREAT and FRIENDLY. We are ALL in this together, so lets spread the word!!

    Beverly Horowitz, VP & Publisher, Delacorte Press (Dell Press)

    She wanted to take a moment to remember George Nicholson. Fifty years ago he began printing paperback books. He was ridiculed and criticized but he did it anyway, and none of us would not be here today if it wasn’t for his tenacity.

    MY TAKE:  Individuals can make a difference. We just have to BELIEVE.

    She edited We Were Liars.

    BEST ADVICE: “Bring your imagination to your writing and readers will bring imagination to books.”

    *Write a great book and readers will come.”

    Stephanie Owens, Assoc. Publisher, Disney-Hyperion

    GOOD NEWS: Research proves “Kids prefer REAL books.”

    Ebooks trending downward. 

    Hardcover more viable than ever—“Kids wants them as soon as they come out.”  
    —Hmmmm, not just kids.

    Ask yourself the question: What makes my story unique?

    What’s my backstory and how can it help me?

    Can my story be expanded beyond the work.

    Think about how to grow your fanbase. 

    MY TAKE: The market and the world has changed. You might have the BEST agent and the MOST BRILLANT editor and the LARGEST Publisher, but if you don’t get out into the world via social media or networking at conferences or social visits, YOU’RE SUNK!  

    BEST ADVICE FROM ALL OF THEM: Start with a Great Book!

    We Need Diverse Books Stance

    Justin Chanda: The campaign brought the issue to the forefront. Now buyers need to make the choice to purchase diverse books.

    Beverly Horowitz: Books are out there, but what we need is for people to say to themselves, “I need to know more about worlds that aren’t mine.”

    And that’s the NY15SCBWI Editors Panel in a nutshell, now get cracking!

    Write on,

    Kim Briggs