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Category: Writing

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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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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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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Writing Advice

Writing Advice

On August 9, 2020, the New York Times Book Review ran a piece by Amitava Kumar called “Literary Advice.” Kumar is a writer who sometimes asks other writers to sign their book for him. When he does, he asks them to add a piece of writing advice. The Times piece includes some of what the other writers said. Here are the quotes that spoke particularly to me. Maybe they’ll resonate with you too. Read the masters and, at least occasionally,…

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What Makes a Strong Female Character?

What Makes a Strong Female Character?

In a recent article in Washington Monthly, Nancy LeTourneau wrote about how the web of ideas we have inherited from the patriarchy had distorted our idea of what it means to be a strong man. What’s disturbing to me is that, in young adult fantasy fiction, the distorted notion of strength also warps how we imagine a strong woman. We have moved along from writing the female character as a damsel in distress, but instead we often borrow the limited notion…

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Remember the Dog

Remember the Dog

I’m drafting a book tentatively called The Trickster. Its central character is Dilly, who appears as a secondary character in The Wind Reader. There, she’s nearly always accompanied by her dog, Tuc. I can’t remember why I originally gave Dilly a dog. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. And Tuc turned out to be useful to the three street kids who mobbed up together in that book. He guarded them. He hunted the rats in the abandoned…

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How to write disabled characters

How to write disabled characters

A hopeful current trend in fiction is the press for diverse characters. I’ve mostly seen this call for inclusiveness aimed at diversity in sexual or racial identity, but we need to open up the kind of characters we read and write even further. If we want to write inclusive books, we need to include disabled characters. On June 27, my publisher, Inspired Quill, will release The Wysman, a sequel to The Wind Reader. The Wind Readerfeatured a group of three street kids: Doniver, Jarka,…

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Book trailer for THE WYSMAN

Book trailer for THE WYSMAN

My fabulous publisher, Inspired Quill, made a book trailer for The Wysman. It makes even me want to read the book! THE WYSMAN is available for pre-order and will release on June 27. “The Grabber is just a fright tale.” Former street kid Jarka was born with a crooked foot and uses a crutch, but that no longer matters now that he’s an apprentice Wysman, training to advise the king. When poor kids start to go missing from the city’s streets, though,…

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On Interviewing Characters

On Interviewing Characters

One thing I sometimes do in the name of character development is interview my characters. I have a list of questions I reuse that fit my genre, plus I add some questions that seem right for the particular character. It’s possible to conduct an interview as part of the preparation for drafting, but I get to know my characters by watching them act. So I usually wait until I finish my first draft. Below are some of the questions I…

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