Monday, October 5, 2015

Fantastic Fiction Accolades

No comments:
9781467779081fc_Medium I believe the arts can change the world. I wouldn’t work in this field if I didn’t. So I was thrilled to see our new book about the art of fiction writing—Writing Fantastic Fiction (cover pictured)—get a starred review in the October 1 issue of Booklist! I’m passionate about this book and the approach it takes to the topic. In its pages, you’ll find writing activities, tips for getting “unstuck,” and advice from successful writers (and I do mean successful—think John Green). But, as LeVar Burton would say, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s just a little of what Booklist had to say about Writing Fantastic Fiction:
“Beginning with the assumption that kids know some of fiction's basic requirements—‘interesting characters, a vivid setting, and a gripping plot’—[author Jennifer Jolene] Anderson delves deeper into these topics and more.”
“Clearly presented and with a colorful design, this [book] will work very well for middle graders, but the advice is so good, older kids will find it extremely helpful as well.”
“An especially inviting way to step into writing.”

Friday, October 2, 2015

Free Book Friday: The Book Itch

It's Friday! Congrats to Jone MacCulloch, who's won a copy of The Way Back from Broken. Jone, send your address to and we'll get your book in the mail!

Our giveaway this week is Vaunda Micheaux Nelson's The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore, with illustrations by R. Gregory Christie.

In the 1930s, Lewis's dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch—a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore.

And as far as Lewis Michaux Jr. could tell, his father's bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people—Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Langston Hughes, to name a few. In his father's bookstore people bought and read books, and they also learned from each other. People swapped and traded ideas and talked about how things could change. They came together here all because of his father's book itch. Read the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in.

If you'd like to win The Book Itch, please leave a comment on this post (including your first and last name), or tweet this line: Free Book Friday! Tweet to win THE BOOK ITCH from @LernerBooks. Make sure to check the blog next week to see if you've won!

To read more about Vaunda and The Book Itch, here's a Q&A we did with her in August.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Happy Book Birthday!

No comments:
It's October 1, and that means new picture books and graphic and YA novels from Lerner! So hit your local bookstore or library, pick up a pumpkin spice latte (as it's National Pumpkin Spice Day, apparently), and start reading.

Picture Books

Dino-Swimming, written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Barry Gott

written by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Cosei Kawa

written by John Coy and illustrated by Randy DuBurke

written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Michael Wertz


The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater,
Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff

The Way Back from Broken by Amber J. Keyser

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Q&A with Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff

No comments:
The Merry Sisters of Fate (Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff) join us on the blog today to talk writing groups, social media, and writing prompts! The three are co-authors of The Anatomy of Curiosity, a combination of original novellas and commentary on their process of critique and collaboration.

Carolrhoda Lab™: How did you get to know each other and form your writing group? Do you have recommendations for how teens can find writing groups?

Tessa Gratton: We met on the internet! Maggie and I were both active in an old Livejournal group for readers and writers of Urban Fantasy called Fangs, Fur, Fey. I believe we started talking because of a mutual love of "The Little Mermaid" and from there followed each other's blogs. Maggie posted one day that she was in need of new readers, and Brenna and I both reached out to crit-partner "date." I still remember what I wrote to Maggie about the book that would eventually become Shiver. I said, "Maggie, I think this might be even better than Twilight!" 

About a week later, Maggie emailed Brenna and I and said "You two will be friends now." We obeyed, and now 9 years later we're all still close as readers and friends. 

Brenna Yovanoff: Tess said it! We met on the internet after Maggie posted an open call for critique partners, and then got to know each other through email and chat. I didn't meet Tess in person until months and months later, and with Maggie, I think it was after more than a year. I finally got to hang out with Tess at a regional conference and was delighted that it turned out we totally had fun in real-life and not just on the internet. The first time I ever met Maggie, I was sitting on a plane and she boarded after me and came walking down the row and I said "You look just like online!" She said, "So you. I thought you'd be taller." But everyone says that. Because I'm not.

Brenna, Tessa, and Maggie
Maggie Stiefvater: I think the thing that remains the most remarkable about our friendship is how it began entirely online and continued seamlessly in person—there’s some sort of lesson to be learned there about how it is possible to capture your essence in the written word alone. We were not pretend-friends until we met in person. We were real friends, entirely online, and then we became even realer once we’d met. 

Lab: Social media has changed a lot in the seven years since 2008, when you started posting Merry Sisters stories. How has the change in social media affected your work as authors?

Tessa: To be honest, it's changed my work as a writer very little, but my work as a professional author is drastically different, and that's all about the online kidlit community. I use Twitter and Tumblr in particular, and Twitter is a hotbed of activity for kidlit authors. We argue about current events, tell jokes, share pics of our celebrity crushes, and occasionally commiserate about actual writing and publishing. It's easier for reader opinions to find you—good and bad, so it's important to develop skills to deal with that. 

Brenna: I'd say that the biggest change for me is probably Tumblr. I—love—Tumblr! (Sometimes to my detriment.)  I used to blog pretty regularly, and in the last couple years I've mostly moved away from that. Now I do most of my internetting by sharing cool stuff on Tumblr. I just really like how it's become almost effortless to post a mix of gifs, videos, photos, text, without having to follow a specific protocol for each format. And hey, if I want to? I can still totally write a blog post.

Maggie: The biggest difference is that now the internet is full.

All of the words I would’ve said seven years ago online have already been said, and there’s no real point in saying them again. If I put something else online, it has to be specific to me, or specific to my story, or specific to the day, or I just don’t see the value in adding to the often-fraught overflow. Seven years ago I would have said that authors should only climb onto the internet if they enjoyed it, and I’d now say that and underline it. 

Lab: Say you're teaching a writing class or working with a writing group. What writing prompt would you use? 

Tessa: One of the things we did frequently on Merry Fates was take a fairy tale and each of us write a story based on it. (Some of the last writing prompts we used were "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "The Twelve Dancing Princesses.") I loved it because it showcased two things: 1) how we were unique while still being in the same genre, and 2) that initial ideas don't matter, it's the implementation that matters. Young writers frequently worry about having their stories and ideas stolen, but it's really not something that happens. We talked about this a lot in Anatomy, and it can be a great exercise.

In a group, pick a single idea, and everybody write their own flash fiction. It can be illuminating and fun to compare how different writers use the same kernel to come up with entirely unique stories. If you're working on your own, see if you can write two different stories that are both based on the same kernel idea.

Brenna: One of my favorite writing prompts starts by skimming through the classified ads—whether online or in print. You look through the ads until you get to a really good one. And by good, I mean strange ("12-foot python, very friendly, free to good home"). Then, you write a story about the events that led up to someone placing that ad. Preferably make it even stranger than the ad.

Maggie: I nod my head firmly at Brenna and Tessa’s suggestions to generating the prompt within the group, but as a writer obsessed with character over everything else, I’d also add the suggestion that it’s a useful exercise to try to populate the story with a person you know from real life. Someone else from inside the writer’s group, or someone in the writer’s family. This portrait-making can help writers learn how to make people from scratch. 

Lab: Thanks for talking with us!

Look for The Anatomy of Curiosity tomorrow, October 1, in bookstores and libraries near you!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Living the Dream

No comments:

#7 buzzfeed Thirteen ways of Looking

There are days when all the things I love the most converge in my editorial life, and last week—New York Fashion Week--I had one of them. My designer colleague Emily Harris forwarded an inspiring BuzzFeed link that illustrates the magnificent ways in which haute couture and haute book design inform each other. Book covers are powerful influences on consumer behavior, and in similar fashion, clothes can give a sense of the person who wears them. The BuzzFeed approach touched on an intriguing pairing of aesthetic concerns.

Number 7 (above) is totally me, though I reserve #1 and #4 as backups. See which book covers and fashion designs speak to you. And challenge your readers to see if they can make links between pop culture influences and the cover designs of the books they love. Share what you discover with us!