Eight Recent YA Fantasy Novels with Handicapped Main Characters

Eight Recent YA Fantasy Novels with Handicapped Main Characters

When I was writing The Wysman, I realized that fantasy novels in which a handicapped teen was allowed to be the central character were few and far between. I occasionally saw them as sidekicks, but not as the heroes and heroines. This list includes as many more recent books as I could find in which the handicapped character is the star. I haven’t read them all, but I tried to get some sense of them from their descriptions and reviews….

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Turning an Idea into a Story

Turning an Idea into a Story

Back in the days before the pandemic, I was lucky enough to be invited to speak to ninety sixth graders about writing. They’d been writing themselves, and the room in which we met had wonderful samples of their work posted on the walls. I wound up leading them through an exercise on how to turn an idea into a plot. I started with the idea I had for my only middle grade book Finders Keepers. The idea came to me…

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What Is YA?

What Is YA?

I find that people outside the world of Young Adult fiction often don’t understand what YA is. I have neighbors without children around or older book club members who lump it in with the whole children’s market. They see it and chapter books as being in the same category. Even people in children’s fiction sometimes have trouble. I once read opening pages a loud at a meeting of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and someone suggested that…

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Power in a fantasy novel

Power in a fantasy novel

Power is a ubiquitous theme in fantasy. Over and over, we see questions about who has power, how they got it, and whether they wield it wisely. The Quest for Political Power One of the most common elements in a fantasy plot is a struggle over who should rule the kingdom. That quest for political power is often backed up by military might, i.e. physical power. So there are lots of exciting battles, ranging from single combat to large scale…

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Using Multiple Points of View

Using Multiple Points of View

If you’re thinking of using multiple points of view in a novel, here are three things to consider that might help you decide. Do You Need Multiple Points of View? First, ask yourself if you really need more than one character telling this story. Everything in a story should have a reason for being there. That includes the number of point of view characters. Maybe you need more than one because no single character is going to know everything needed…

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Cover Blurbs

Cover Blurbs

Cover blurbs are always tricky to write, which is why it’s so useful to have a collaborative approach without too many cooks spoiling the broth. In this post, I’m going to take you through the steps of editing, tightening and polishing the blurb for my latest book, The Trickster. If you watch people in bookstores, you see that a book catches their attention, either from the cover (if it’s shelved face out) or the title (if only the spine shows)….

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Creating culture to help the story

Creating culture to help the story

Note: This post originally appeared as a Big Idea post on John Scalzi’s blog, “Whatever.” My thanks to him for hosting it. Not long ago, I realized that I always wind up writing about family, whether I intend to or not. That may be because I write YA and my characters are breaking from their birth families. But themes of family can work even with adult characters. We humans generally need the support of other who love us, most commonly…

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First and Last Lines: From opening question to dawning peace

First and Last Lines: From opening question to dawning peace

In Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, literary agent Donald Maass offers advice on the importance of the first and last lines of a book. That first line is what draws the reader in, often while browsing in a bookstore. The last line helps shape a reader’s final impression of a book and perhaps leads them to seek out more work by the same author. According to Maass, first lines should do one of three things to create the desire to…

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Getting the Most from Your Critique Group: Part II

Getting the Most from Your Critique Group: Part II

Because I have a new book coming out on March X, my publisher asked me to write a post for the Inspired Quill blog on how to get the most from a critique group. I’ve belonged to a lot of different crit groups over the years and was happy to share whatever bits of wisdom I’d picked up. After I wrote that post, though, I realized that I’d only talked about how to get the most from being critiqued. But…

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Advice to Myself: Write True

Advice to Myself: Write True

Sometimes I put sticky notes to myself around my computer screen. They’re advice I know I need to write well. One I have up often is “Write True.” To Write True Is To Write Well The value of writing true has been brought home to me by listening to audio books as I drive. In them, I find that good writing overcomes a lot of drawbacks. By “good writing,” I don’t mean fancy writing. I mean things like interesting voice…

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