Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Fine Line Between YA and MG

I've been so sporadic with my blog posts over the last few months and for that I am sooooo sorry! Blogging can be difficult between school, writing, extra curricular stuff, and work. BUT I am trying to change that.

Anyway on to my post.

I've been wrestling with the idea of pitching my YA novel as Upper Middle Grade. While researching the topic I stumbled upon an interesting thread at YALITCHAT. In short, most people agreed that age was a factor, but not a deciding factor. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was considered MG (middle grade) even though it contained dark themes and Harry was fifteen. The romance that soon started to develop within the series was relatively tame as was most of the violence. Even though book 7 turned out to be YA and a bit violent it was in no way as violent as many other YA novels so it was still okay to advertise the Harry Potter books to middle grade readers.

Basically, a book can be considered MG as long as these older themes are tamed. Consider, Tamora Pierce's the Lioness quartet series. It was considered MG yet spanned the life of a girl trying to become a knight from age 11 to 18. Throughout this time she learned about love, sex, and how to fight and protect her people. Even though Pierce's novels could be somewhat violent it was always understated and any sex scene faded out. They were all tame, making the topics perfectly acceptable for MG.

YALitChat's Middle Grade lair also posted an interesting article from Upstart Crow Literary explaining the fine line between YA and MG. I found it helpful and think it may prove useful to others in the same boat.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chapter and Picture Books?

I swear, I was going through old books I used to read as a kid like those Animal Ark books and I ran across a picture book that had me as a main character lol. It was bound and everything but I'm pretty sure it was done by some friends of my parents years ago. I must have been one or two years old back then. Lol, somehow I saved the world from aliens?

I sat there, pulling book after book out of this box. All these Animal Ark stories and I remembered just about all of them. Is it a bad thing I'm planning on taking at least three back to college with me for "research purposes". :)

Seeing all these books that I absolutely LOVED to read made me realize how much I would like to try to write for the younger readers in terms of chapter books and maybe a picture book or two. I already have a character in mind from a MG, I was just wondering if anyone knew of any good sources for learning about chapter books. If you do, feel free to leave a comment or link :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wisdom Teeth, A New Story, & Write On Con

I've missed posting!!

Just had my wisdom teeth removed...for some reason only one side is doing most of the swelling. Does that make me half chipmunk?

Alright, lots to cover.

1. I'm going to TRY to post at least once a week, but I'd love to know what you guys would love to read about oh, and things you NEVER want me to mention again.

2. Write On Con was a blast!! It was an amazing FREE online conference. Next year--I recommended you all give it a shot--check out the info here.

3. Also, do you guys prefer I post about new agents I stumble across? Interesting publishing articles? Helpful links? You name it and I'll try my best :)

4. I read manuscripts for a literary agent who focuses on children's lit--YA, MG, PB. Would you guys like to hear about common mistakes etc and stuff that I see?

Alright guys, comment away and help me out here! :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Write On Con!

This is a free writer's conference for kidlit writers but it's open to anyone. Some events are coming through on blog posts or video blogs, while others require participation in the forums. You can even post your work for critique. Joanna Stampfel-Volpe is even holding a query critique contest!

There are so many kidlit professionals willing to lend out their advice--I'm sure it'll be helpful!

At the moment the site is down but you can find everything on here. Enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Dreaded Synopsis--To My Fellow Writers

Ah, the synopsis.

Sure, after sitting down to write that cursed query, which makes us compress our story into one or two teaser paragraphs, forces us to forget subplots, and drives us absolutely insane with draft after draft, we finally get the chance to write the full story for the synopsis, instead of those two limiting paragraphs.

And then we realize----The Cursed Query has NOTHING on The Dreaded Synopsis.

Even now the damn thing is haunting me and I'm on the 4th draft or so...I've pretty much lost count. All I can say is I know how you feel.

It starts off fine, you think, "Hey, I've got this." And then you realize you passed the one page mark three pages ago.

Be concise--bare bones--yet keep it interesting with a hook.

Over time this website has helped me. It isn't perfect and a lot of the real synopsis examples are of romances, but they have helped.

Do with this site what you wish--hopefully it helps.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Guide to Literary Agents

I would just LOVE to recommend this site to anyone who has yet to take a look! Guide t0 Literary Agents Blog

It is full of helpful tips. Interesting feedback on real queries and why they worked. Word Counts for just about every genre. Q&A's with agents. Also Agent Alerts that let you know when a new agent has joined an agency (please note new agents are building up their client list...good for first time writers :) )

And loads of other stuff. It's hosted by Chuck Sambuchino the editor of Guide to Literary Agents.

Chuck also set up on the left hands side certain categories you can click if you're only interested in a certain thing like for example Successful Queries, or Children's, Christian etc.

Hope those of you who haven't seen this site check it out---it's one of my absolute favs and the one I actually follow habitually! ;)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MG Tidbits

Hello all,

After some prodding for more reading material *Ahem Mary**Cough Cough** I've decided to try to update more frequently. Perhaps once a week? But I'd also love to know what kind of topics interest you all the most?

Anyways, lately I've been reading a lot of great MG manuscripts and I felt that perhaps a few "what makes MG middle grade" tidbits would be worth reading. Obviously, these are just my opinions I've formed after reading some MG manuscripts for an agent.

1. Word count doesn't seem to matter very much as long as it doesn't top 60k. Just about every MG manuscript I've read has been less than 60k. Hell, I just read one in verse that was 12k, yet its target audience was Upper Middle grade. Focus on writing a great story. Worry about word count later...though I'd say for this genre--short is best.

2. Shorter manuscripts actually make, at least my self and the agent I read for, a bit happier...only because when having 5 or 6 manuscripts on your plate a short one seems refreshing. Also, from blogs I've read, it makes an agent more likely to request it.

3.MG is NOT writing about one's childhood with an adult's wisdom and perspective already in place, in fact any novel who's protagonist is a child, yet the story is told from the perspective of an adult looking back is in fact an ADULT novel.

4. Upper MG readers are at the point in their lives when they are pushing away from Mommy and Daddy. Trying to find the individual lurking beneath the surface. They do NOT like being talked down to. Protagonists mirror this want to be an individual and break free. This is the age where Mom and Dad are nothing but interlaced words within the story that try to teach a child a lesson will MAKE them put the book down. Let's face it, it sounds preachy.

5. Hard and fast rule for both MG and YA NEVER talk down to the reader. They are much smarter than adults give them credit for.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nook Update

So a lot of people had issues with the Nook, stating that it took too long to turn a page etc. Well they've sped up the page turns and added games all via an over-the-air wi-fi update.

Apparently in-store customers can sample a book for up to an hour (nice way to get you hooked no?)

This update will automatically download in a wi-fi hotspot or manually from the Nook update site.

If you're still on the fence about the Nook, your issues may have been resolved with this update. For more check out the Publishers Weekly article here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Agents & Requests--It's Only Polite

I was reading an interesting post by Elana Roth, an agent at Caren Johnson Literary. When a writer receives an offer of representation normally they should let any agents with a partial or full know--just to be polite and also to see if they receive anymore offers. We've been trained by agent blogs all over the blog-o-sphere to do this. But Elana believes that we should even notify those agents who only have our queries who have not responded, especially if we sent them out about two, three, or four weeks before. Seems she tweeted this and it caused a bit of a ruckus. Anyone have a take on this?

Here's the article.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Stephenie Meyer Book

Well, ran across an article in Publisher's Weekly and found that Meyer has written a sort of side story to go along with Eclipse. It tells of the struggles the newborn vampire, Bree Tanner, must face. I wracked my brains trying to remember when, if at all this character was introduced in Eclipse and then I remembered the newborn vampire army ready to tear Bella, the Cullens, and Jacob apart. I remembered the little girl vampire Bella felt so sorry for. Anybody else remember or am I misremembering. Anyway, the book, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, is due out on June 5th at 12:01 am and a dollar from each book purchased is going to be donated to the American Red Cross. For more information check out the PW article here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Writer's Block--How to Fight it??

Hello lovelies!

Ah I've missed you all and I'm hoping the feeling is mutual :] So I have had some tough writer's block issues the last 2 and a half months! Yikes! I've decided that at some point you just have to grit your teeth and wade through it. I honestly don't feel like writing, but I'm truly missing it. I want us to open up the discussion on writer's block and what you all do when it strikes. Personally, it's partially because I need help and I'm sure many other writers out there must be going through the same thing.

So tell me, how the hell do you get rid of writer's block?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Heartbeats of New Orleans


"Filled with exotic and interesting characters, Heartbeats of New Orleans whisks the reader away to the alluring French Quarter. It is more than a simple book of poetry, encompassing the very soul that has allowed the city to thrive in the wake of devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina. This book brings forth the life and light that naturally dwells within the hearts of the people of New Orleans."

Heartbeats of New Orleans by Jennifer Tucker is now available on For more information about the book, the author, how to purchase, and a book trailer check out

For information on the publisher, which I'm interning for check out Key Publications.

The reason I'm announcing this book is because I've met the fellow writer and have even published my own poetry in a collection with her. She's a talented poet and her book is sure to please! Definitely check her out!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Faith's Friendship

Nazarea Andrews is a great writer and last years ViNoWriMo winner. Her novel Faith's Friendship is now available on Amazon from Key Publications, which opened their doors this January.

On her blog she is giving away a copy of her novel! Today is the last day to participate for a chance to win! Check out her blog at

Monday, January 11, 2010

Young Love

Hey guys I'm sorry I haven't been posting. I promise its not me giving up on the blog. It has just been a bit rough the last two weeks. My boyfriend and I broke up after almost two years...makes writing just difficult, but the experience could be useful in my writing later on..who knows. I'm trying to find some sort of positive in this situation.

Anyway on to some advice about Young Love in YA novels.

Sometimes an adult author writing for the YA genre can forget just how painful young love can be. Sure they've been through it before, but they may have forgotten the intensity. Remember young adults are feeling everything for the first time. Love is a new concept. The intense feelings and emotions that overwhelm a young adult can even scare them. The want to always be with that person and see them is new. Some handle it better than others while others can get obsessive. I've seen the stalker types at my old high school! Remember your first love and even your second. Note the differences. Young love for a freshman in high school is entirely different from the love a freshman in college feels. Make note of this.

Remember your first love in middle school or high school. How different that felt from the full blown thing in college? With each year and grade level love can intensify as young adults start to feel older. A freshman in high school thinks of marriage and college as some faraway concept. A senior in high school has college looming over them along w. many of its responsibilities. Obviously depending on your character and novel sex can come into play as the years progress in high school. Many different things can create deeper bonds between YA's so go hang out by the local high school and watch the couples.

You'll see the skanky/horny ones that make out until the last possible second. The shy ones who only hold hands, the older, mature couples who remind you of when you were younger. etc. Note the differences and remember there are different kinds of love and couples that all occur in different stages in high school. Experience and age play a big role. One 17 year old can be completely in love with their boyfriend and sleeping with him, while her best friend could still not have even had a boyfriend or her first kiss.

Know your character and assess what they have already experienced. Young adult love is different for everyone.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Book Released Jan. 5!

Key Publications is opening its doors tomorrow with the publication of FAITH'S FRIENDSHIP by Nazarea Andrews. Release date January 5th!! If you are interested why not check out her blog and enter for a chance to win a FREE copy. For more information visit her website by clicking on her name.

I promise she's a great writer!

Interested in submitting a query to Key Publications then click here for more info.

Teen Slang in Books

Hey guys,

First of all, sorry I haven't been on lately. I just have been busy, I guess. The New Year didn't exactly turn out as planned but I do hope you all had a better time! Wish you all happiness in 2010! :D

Anyway, so for those tempted to give writing for the YA genre a try stop and please please don't forget about voice. A character's voice should sound authentic. Constantly trying to use slang is just...well annoying.
EX: "Oh my god! Dude, no freaking way! It's like totally rocking, for sure!"

That's just way too much slang for a teen to believe. (Although, I'll admit. I have used, "Dude, no freaking way!" but only for really shocking things... :]
Remember that slang can easily go out of style as quickly as it came. Anyone remember buying your kids those $50 Razor scooters? They are about $10 bucks now and a fad that came and went quickly. That is how slang is so try to refrain from littering your manuscript with slang even teenagers can't decipher.

Also using slang from your childhood=rejection. Teens will put the book down. I know I would.

Too much slang in general sounds cheesy and annoying so use it sparingly. You're usually pretty safe with "dude", but make sure to take into account who your character is. Sorry a preppy girl would never say dude. Rocker chic...hell yes. Get it? Keep the slang to a minimum if you want a shot in the genre.

Happy Writing