Friday, February 27, 2009

Where does hope come from?

Tip of the day: Have you tried your hand at writing for a magazine? It can be a fun change of pace and if you get a sale, it can really boost your self-confidence.

Waaaay back in the spring of 2003, I was really anxious to feel like a real writer. I'd been writing and submitting picture book manuscripts for a couple of years and had a nice, fat file of rejection letters to show for it. I was in a critique group at the time and some of them were trying their hand at magazine stories. So, I thought, I should try that.

I wrote a couple of short stories and submitted them to Highlights Magazine, but unfortunately, those were also rejected. As I was flipping through one of their magazines one day, I noticed a rebus story, which is a very short story for the younger reader with little pictures next to the nouns. And suddenly, I decided to try one of those.

I tried a few of them actually. And finally, it was one of those rebus stories that became my first ever sale.

This week, that story, called "Where do Cookies Come From?" accompanied by darling illustrations, arrived in my mailbox. It's in the March, 2009 issue of Highlights, six years after I sold it. The two characters in the story are Tina and Grandma. Here, I took a picture to show you:

When I pulled the story out and read it six long years later, tears came to my eyes. I think it was a combination of things. A small dream come true. A story about grandma's cookies, which reminded me of my grandmas, both of whom have passed away in the past five years. And yes, the realization that I have come a very long way.

I think it really took me back to those days when I was desperate for a sale. Desperate for validation - for someone to say, you are good at what you do. Keep at it. Keep writing.

Right now, in this economy, it's hard to feel hopeful. Even those of us who are published are worried. Worried we aren't selling enough to keep our publishers wanting more. Worried about contracted books that aren't out yet, and could potentially be dropped if things get worse. Worried the new and upcoming bestselling authors are going to scoot us right off the shelf.

So, today, if Tina and Grandma were having a discussion about where things come from, it might not be cookies they discuss, but perhaps hope. And just like cookies, it can come from a million different places, right?

But, like Grandma's oven, there's one place like no other. Inside your own heart. Now, more than ever, we must write because we love it. Because we can't NOT write. Because stories matter. Maybe they won't be published this year. Or even next. But no matter what, remember, you are good at what you do, and getting better every day.

Keep at it.

Keep writing.

And hold tight to that hope in your heart. I did. And now I have books, and one little magazine story, to show for it.

~Lisa, Miss Crafting A Career

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Outlining Goodness (Or How I Spent Last Weekend)

Tip of the day-- Check out my new cover for The Espressologist!

A few weeks ago I blogged about how I was a proposal writing fool. Well, I'm happy to say that I finished my third proposal late Sunday night and sent it off to my editor. YAY!

In that last blog I talked about how freaking hard outlines were for me. But it's so satisfying when they are done and let me tell you, I DO appreciate them when I go back to work on the book (which I'm doing this week for one of them). I spent all of last weekend outlining and I thought I'd share my process.

It really started before last weekend. For days (sometimes weeks) I brain dump various scenes into a document, cleverly labeled "notes"). When I think I have quite a lot of these scenes I print out the document, get a pair of scissors, and sit on the floor. I cut out each scene and then arrange into an order that makes sense. Like so:

Then I get more paper out and tape the scenes onto the paper, leaving space between each one in case I need to write in more scenes. Like so:

After that, I gather up my pages and park myself at Starbucks for three or four hours putting all this into chapters and making it sound good.

Wah la! It's done (Sorry no pic. Imagine pretty pages with paragraphs and chapter breaks.).

I'm not sure how but somehow this seems to work for me. I only got rid of two of those original scenes from the first brain dump. And yeah, I added a handful more but the majority of the outline came from this.

How do you outline?

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sleepless in Rochester (or You Were a Vampire and Baby I'm the Walking Dead*)

*With apologies to Concrete Blonde

Tip of the Day: When you're about to face plant your keyboard in exhaustion, pump up some music with a strong beat to get you going again.

I listened to the EW interview with Stephenie Meyer a while back (Tina linked to it in this post) and loved when she was asked if she wanted to be a vampire. SM said the only thing about that life she'd want was the ability to function without ever having to sleep.

Here here!

Why is it that when I really get cranking on my writing, I realize it's 11 PM and I need to go to bed? Or when I SHOULD be writing earlier in the day, I stare at the laptop screen and my eyes start to close? Not bc I'm bored or my eyes are tired, but bc I haven't had enough sleep most likely due to going to bed too late the night before?

This is why I should buy stock in coffee.
Or at least start to drink it. It would probably double my productivity, right? Or would I just be jittery and unable to sleep when I needed to? How much more productive would I be if I never needed to sleep? The idea is pretty enticing. Maybe my dishes would always be done AND my novels would be written!

So yeah, if I actually could stay awake for 24 hours a day, with the extra time I'd:

1. read more

2. write more

3. cook more and therefore

4. eat more and then hopefully

5. work out more and

6. clean more

Does anyone else have the problem where you get into your writing right before bed and then can't turn off your brain when you DO want to sleep so your whole sleep schedule is thrown off? Do your best writing ideas/times come right before you SHOULD be going to bed?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Partials vs. The Book

Tip of the Day: if you are having trouble with any aspect of your book, I’ve found that giving a good hard look at your main character often helps iron out the problem.

Do you ever feel like your work-in-progress and you are running in circles and getting no where? That's exactly how I feel lately, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how to focus or jump off the wheel.

Remember when I said I couldn’t write first chapters? At least not until I tried everything, wrote the book, and then went back and worked on the beginning. I wasn’t kidding. Yesterday, I went to organize all the beginnings in a single file to mull them over and determine if one of them stuck out at me more and pulled me in. By the end of searching through all my files, I found 13 different beginnings, and I’m not entirely sure any of them are correct.

Normally I would just put the book down for a week or so, come back to it with fresh eyes and see if my mind has worked out the sticky situation. Or continue writing the entire book and then rewrite the first chapter a few times. But I’d like to get this partial done for someone, and I also would like to rewrite the beginning of another book for the 13th time to get it sent off by the end of the week for a contest. Neither book are finished, but both have been outlined.

Maybe it’s because I’m stressing about two different books that it’s hard to focus on one?

Or more probable, is that generally speaking when I can’t write a chapter it’s because I don’t know my character well enough. Usually it takes me an entire book to figure my character out. I know there’s writers out there that automatically click with a character and everything gels, but that’s not me. I have a good idea about my character, but it takes me a whole book to really understand her and her motivations. Then it takes me an entire rewrite to figure out my secondary characters. And skipping the entire step of writing the book makes it harder for me to show my characters subtly in the first chapter.

So tonight, I think I’m going to sit down and really look hard at my characters and try to figure them out.

Does anyone else have a suggestion on polishing up partials without having the book finished? Especially if you are the type of writer that takes you awhile to get into the head of your character. I’m curious if people end up changing the partial after they’ve finished the book itself.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Picture borrowed from:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Writing Journal Newbie

Tip of the Day: Have a day off with the kids home from school? If they have something to look forward to in the evening, they might let you write during the day. Which is great if you're not all that productive in the evening anyway.

With encouragement from Lisa (Miss Crafting a Career) and one of my online crit partners, Andrea, I bought a writing journal. Actually, it's a small sized 2009 weekly planner spiral on clearance for a dollar at the bookstore. It gives me an SAT word of the day. Today's is compunction--distress caused by feeling guilty. I admit I could not previously have used compunction in a sentence.

I've never used a writing journal before, but I'm hoping to use it for myriad things. (Myriad is Friday's SAT word.) I'd like to keep track of what days I've worked and what I've worked on. I'd like to be able to find those ideas I jot down right before I go to sleep rather than searching through random notebooks. And I'd like to write down what I'm stuck on, what I think is blocking me. Sometimes writing down the question brings out the answer.

In the past I've been resistant to a writing journal because it seemed like more writing that wasn't actually contributing to "the bottom line" of a finished manuscript. Wouldn't ten minutes writing in a journal be ten minutes less spent on my work in progress? I've also been afraid that I would avoid writing because I really hate bureaucracy and paperwork and I wouldn't want to update the writing journal. And with my flagrant disregard of paperwork in all its forms (flagrant is tomorrow's SAT word), wouldn't I just ignore the writing journal and then feel guilty about it?

Well, I'm giving myself permission to ignore the writing journal. It's a tool for me and nobody else, and I'll use it or ignore it and not feel guilty about it. HA! No compunction for me!

But it's there if I want to use it. I think it will be a good idea for me to notice when I'm feeling enthusiastic, when I do better at revision than drafting, and if there are any patterns I haven't noticed. I suspect I make progress faster than I think I do, and it would be nice to see concrete evidence of progress when I'm in a funk.

Will I discover more uses for a writing journal as I try it out? Or will I give it up after a month? So all you journal junkies out there: what do you get out of it?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, February 20, 2009

A2A Chat- Interview with Neesha Meminger

Tip of the Day: Neesha’s book, SHINE, COCONUT MOON, is officially released on March 10, 2009, but you can preorder it HERE.

I’m so pleased to have Neesha Meminger here, author of SHINE, COCONUT MOON, McElderry Books, coming out next month! Neesha has a beautiful web site which you can see HERE, and look what early reviews have said about her book:

Kirkus: "This straightforward and ultimately reassuring novel reads like an older Sikh version of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and will fill a niche in any school or public library looking to beef up their YA multicultural fiction offerings."

Publisher's Weekly: "Debut novelist Meminger raises complex questions of identity, but avoids moralizing or spelling out answers for readers, who will likely be hooked as Samar takes a second look at her relationships with her boyfriend, friends and family, while seeking a better understanding of herself."

Wow, doesn’t it sound like an amazing book?

I asked Neesha some questions and here are her answers:

Can you tell us about your book and how you came to write it?

I'm going to cheat a little and give you the jacket copy: Samar--a.k.a. Sam--is an Indian-American teenager whose mom has kept her away from her old-fashioned family. It's never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a demanding boyfriend. But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam's house--and turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. Sam is eager, but when boys attack her uncle, chanting "Go back home, Osama!," Sam realizes she could be in danger--and also discovers how dangerous ignorance is.

I wanted to explore mother-daughter relationships when I started writing SHINE, not only in terms of the generational rifts that are inevitable, but particularly when things like immigration, migration, and displacement enter into the mix. I especially wanted to explore the idea of a strong, intense bond between this mother and daughter when the father has been absent for pretty much all of Sam's life; and how that bond can alternately suffocate and resuscitate both mother and daughter.

What do you hope readers walk away thinking after they read your book?

I hope readers walk away loving the characters as much as I did while I was working on the novel, first and foremost :). But I also hope readers think about commonly held beliefs and how sometimes assumptions can hurt everyone -- that we all are, regardless of our social "identity" and where we are categorized, highly complex beings and we have far more in common than we're sometimes led to believe.

What's your path to published author been like?

I sometimes equate it with love. I was once told there are two kinds of love: the fast, fireworks, powerful, explosive kind that is hot and completely consumes you, then quickly dies; and the slow simmer kind that takes its time to heat up, but lasts a long time and is ultimately very, very satisfying and soul-nourishing. My writing career, so far, has been very much like the latter :).

As your publication date draws near, is there anything keeping you up at night?

The details. I keep worrying I'm going to miss something, forget something, leave something hanging. I try to keep the mantra going in my head "Enjoy this time, enjoy this time -- it only happens once." It's a real challenge, though.

We love to see writing spaces. Can you tell us about yours, and share a picture if you have one?

My writing space is at my desk, sandwiched between the kitchen and a window. It's a sanctuary of sorts for me, especially when I'm alone and there is quiet . . . blissful quiet.

Thanks, Neesha, and best of luck with your book!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A2A Chat: Kristin Walker

Tip of the Day: Kristin's book releases on May 14th but you can pre-order it here.

At the risk of sounding like a complete gusher, Kristin Walker's Book, A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL is one of the funniest books I think I've ever read. I just spent the last five minutes trying to recall a funnier book and nope--can't do it. And the thing is, I didn't really know it was going to be that funny just from looking at it or reading the jacket copy. So you're just going to have to take it from me-- this is good, good stuff.

About the book (snagged from

When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can’t get any worse. Then she marries her “husband”: jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona’s long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer.

Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes.

And my interview with the lovely Kristin:

1) I absolutely adored your book! SO many times I was laughing, like really loud, and people were looking at me wondering what the heck I was reading. I was sad when the book ended so I've gotta know, what are you working on next? I know some people don't want to give away too much but maybe just a brief description?

Well, first of all, thank you for saying such nice things about MATCH. I'll never get tired of hearing that kind of stuff. As to what I'm working on now...ah...okay, yes it's secret. Top secret. Super top secret. So super-duper top secret, that even I don't know what it is. Seriously, I have no idea. I'm tossing around a few possibilities, but none seem to be staying aloft just yet.

2) Where do you get your ideas?

At the idea store. Har har. That's an old joke. Nah, actually someone bought me a membership in the Idea of the Month Club. Okay, okay, I subscribe to Great Ideas Magazine. No, wait, I have an Idea Detector and I take it down to the beach to look for ideas in the sand.

One of those. Or none of those. Or I don't knows. It seems to me that ideas come when they feel like it. I really have little control over them.

3) How often and when do you write?

I'm a "fits-and-spurts" writer. When I'm not working on something specific, I can go for long periods of time without writing (fiction, anyway). But if I'm in the middle of writing a book, I write pretty much every day. I got up before dawn each day to work on MATCH, which, if you know me, should floor you. I'm not a morning person. But I am a mom of three boys, so pre-dawn is pretty much the only quiet time around here.

4) Are there any MUST HAVES for you while you're writing (place, drink etc.)?

Solitude, definitely. Starbursts, frequently. Music, sporadically. Wine, occasionally. Caffeine, intravenously.

5) Are you a plotter or a plunger?

I am, unfortunately, a plunger. And just like the other kind of plunger, I tend to uncork a lot of crap that clogs up my storyline. I wish I were a plotter. And a good one.

6) How long did it take you from query to agent? Agent to sale? Sale to book? (rough guess of months is fine).

From my very first unsolicited-rhyming-picture-book-oh-God-kill-me-now-submission to the query that landed me my fabuloso agent...eight years.

From that query to her offer of representation...maybe 2 -3 weeks.

From agent to sale...about four months, I think. I had to do a revision first.

And from sale to book, one year.

So everything took forever to get going, and then went really fast. Kind of like going on ride at Disney World. Or planning a wedding. Or when you're stuck on the highway and you really, really have to go to the bathroom, but there's nowhere to stop, so you just keep driving and driving, and then finally you see a gas station, so you pull off the highway, screech into the parking lot, race to the ladies' room, think you can take it from there. You get the idea. That kind of thing. Only without the greasy, germy toilet seat.

Thank you so much for visiting Kristin!!!

Thank YOU so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A2A Chat: Kurtis Scaletta (or Please Welcome A2A's First Mister!)

Tip of the Day: Get ready to purchase your copy of Kurtis's MUDVILLE on February 24th and gear up for baseball season!

Today's guest on A2A chat is debut author KURTIS SCALETTA. According to his website, he's a writer, baseball fan, and cat guy. Sounds like a winner to me! And so does his middle grade novel, MUDVILLE, to be release in a mere six days!

From Kurtis's website:

Welcome to Moundville, where it’s been raining for longer than Roy McGuire has been alive. Most people say the town is cursed—right in the middle of their biggest baseball game against rival town Sinister Bend, black clouds crept across the sky and it started to rain. That was 22 years ago . . . and it’s still pouring.

Baseball camp is over, and Roy knows he’s in for a dreary, soggy summer. But when he returns home, he finds a foster kid named Sturgis sprawled out on his couch. As if this isn’t weird enough, just a few days after Sturgis’s arrival, the sun comes out. No one can explain why the rain has finally stopped, but as far as Roy’s concerned, it’s time to play some baseball. It’s time to get a Moundville team together and finish what was started 22 years ago. It’s time for a rematch.

I asked Kurtis some questions and he answered:

DL: I am very excited to host our first A2A chat with a Mister rather than a Miss! Thanks for joining us, Kurtis. There's a lot of discussion amongst writers, teachers, and librarians about Boys And Reading. What is your opinion on what/how much tween and teen boys read? Compared to middle grade boys? Do you think your book will appeal to middle grade boys, girls, or both? Did you have any of this in mind when you wrote it?

KS: I am well aware of the gender gap, since I've facilitated Guys Read groups through the public library near my house. Those groups are part of a national initiative started by Jon Scieszka, and promote reading as something guys do. Even though there's a lot books to have to compete with, I think programs like Guys Read and making a range of books that appeal to different kids visible and available will make reading more popular with boys of all ages. I don't know if teens read more or less than younger boys, but I have met passionate readers of all ages and hope there always will be a few.

I gave some advanced copies of my book to the kids in my reading group, and was really happy when one boy told me later he couldn't read it because his female cousin who was visiting started reading it, and wanted to finish it -- so she took it. I was worried girls wouldn't be as likely to read it, but they will find some girls in it who I hope they can connect with.

[DL: Baseball stories seem to have fans of all genders and ages at my library! Go sports books!]

DL: Your book sounds like a sports story with a dose of magical realism. Would that be accurate? How did you come up with the spark for this story?

KS: I love the term magical realism, but I associate it with writers like Calvino and Borges and Marquez, so it sounds like I'm putting on airs when I use it to describe my own work. I really think of MUDVILLE as a tall tale more than a fantasy, which goes well with baseball fiction. There are really two sparks to the story. One is simply watching a game on TV that was in a rain delay and wondering what the longest delay ever was, and what they would do if it never stopped. The other spark is a line in a Robert Frost poem about "Some boy who lived too far from town to learn baseball," which I think is sad and memorable. It sparked the basic idea of kids who can't play baseball, and particularly the lonely character of Sturgis who is at the heart of the story.

[DL: Aha, yes, "tall tale" seems appropriate for sure. And I love hearing how stories were sparked -- what WAS the longest rain delay for a baseball game?]

DL: Tell us about your writing space so we can picture you hard at work! Why do you work where you work? Would you change anything about it? Do you write in long spurts or short bursts or on a regular schedule?

KS: I mostly wrote Mudville in an office that has been turned into a sewing room by my wife. Now I have a laptop, and do most of my writing in the living room, on the couch, with one or more cats hanging around me. Sometimes the cats make it hard, when they bat at the laptop cables or chew on the pages, but I like having them around. I have an office space downstairs, but rarely use it. The living room is just more comfortable.

I write methodically, 300-500 words every evening (after my day job) for months while I am getting through a first, second, or third draft (I find those early drafts are much more re-writing than merely revising).

[DL: Ah yes, I am also a Laptop In The Living Room writer.]

[Kurtis and his cat read his work]

DL: What are you working on next? Where did the idea come for your current WIP?

KS: I've just sent my next manuscript off to my editor. It's about a kid living in West Africa. He's trying to fit in and be cool and nothing works for him, and it's all pretty close to what my life was like when I was his age and moved to Africa. He befriends a black mamba, one of the deadliest snakes in the world. That part, I hope I don't need to clarify, is completely made up! This book really just started as a setting, since I always wanted to write about my time in Africa, but the big aha moment came from an old book about Liberian folklore, where I found about the notion of a "kaseng," the belief that a human can have a profound and inexplicable connection to an animal. It's the kind of thing I love to imagine, and since the title of the book was Mamba Point (which is the name of the neighborhood where I lived, and where the book is set), it all came together.

[DL: Sounds like more "magical realism" to me! Go Kurtis! I bet your editor loves it!]

DL: What is your best and/or favorite advice for writers like me who are agented and not yet sold, but whose agents are Subbing for Pubbing? (How do you keep writing while waiting for News?)

KS: The waiting is terrible and I'm a wreck whenever I have to do it. My only strategy is to badger my wife. "Do you think my editor will be happy with the manuscript? Will she like the revisions? What if she already talked to my agent and she couldn't call me because my cell phone was turned off? Maybe she hated it, and that's why she hasn't emailed. I'm also worried that she took this joke in my last email the wrong way." Etc. I guess that translates to looking to friends and loved ones for support, but the friends and loved ones would probably have other advice, like just do something else and try not to think about it. Best of luck with your manuscript, though!

[DL: I will keep badgering my manpanion with questions like, "Why hasn't anyone bought my book yet? It's really good, right?" since that seemed to work for you!]

Thanks again, Kurtis, for indulging us with your thoughtful answers!

You can contact Kurtis at his webpage where he also blogs -- and has pictures from the January ALA conference in Colorado!

Two more A2A Chats this week -- stay tuned!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A2A Chat with Jessica Burkhart

Tip of the Day: do you love horses or boarding school books? Then make sure to check out the new Canterwood Crest novels by our guest today Jessica Burkhart.

Everyone please welcome Jessica Burkhart the author of the Canterwood Crest series. The first book in the series TAKE THE REINS just released in January (and based on the chapters I've read so far, you won't be disappointed!) and three more books will be in stores this year.

Jessica was kind enough to take a break from her busy schedule to chat with me about her books:

1.) You seem to be really organized and focused with your writing. Can you share a bit of your daily writing schedule with us? And tell us how you stay on task.

I write six or seven days a week and often have to pull myself away from the computer! :) But I can’t start writing till I check email, Facebook, my blog and LiveJournal. Just can’t focus without checking those first. Then, it’s writing time! When I’m working on a draft, it’s almost like an obsession. The deadline just looms over me and I want to get the draft down ASAP so I don't feel anxious. Once I get the draft down, no matter how awful, it makes me feel more secure.

I stay focused because I truly love my work. I’m so grateful to be a fulltime writer and it’s important to me to do the best job that I can. That means meeting or beating my deadlines. Plus, certain people would show up at my doorstep and threaten to take away my lip gloss if I got close to missing a deadline! :)

[Emily: Oh no, not the lip gloss. Yes, I'd be motivated then too :) ]

2.) How has knowing you are writing a series changed your writing habits?

Writing a series has eased a bit of the “what idea do I go with next?” pressure. I know there are four books left to write in the Canterwood series, so that’s what my next eight to nine months are going to be. That makes me feel more comfortable and it helps cut down on the anxiety factor.

It also forces me to keep better notes about what I’m writing since it’s not a standalone book. I need to keep track of character details so I don’t say something in book one and contradict it in book five. Luckily, though, my editor and copyeditor watch for that stuff, too.

3.) What has been the most fun aspect of having a debut novel this year?

The most fun is knowing that my book is out there and no one can take it back! *grins* For months after I got the book deal, I was convinced my agent would call me at some point to say, “Well, I’m so sorry, but S&S decided they made a mistake and they’re taking back the book deal.” I waited for that to happen right up to the moment I got my ARC. Now, Take the Reins is on shelves and there’s no going back! :)

[Emily: I've heard alot of other authors have the same fear. It must be something you catch when signing the contract.]

4.) Do you have a favorite writing tip or quote that you could share with us?

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live—Henry David Thoreau.

That quote resonates with me this year more than ever before.

[Emily: LOVE IT!!! I couldn't agree with this more.]

5.) And last, but certainly not least, if you were stranded on a desert island and could only watch one television show which would you pick? (And no, shows like Survivor Man don't count. We want to know what you'd really want to watch.)

One only? I have sooo many! But…okay. I would want Gilmore Girl reruns. I never get tired of them!

[You are a girl after my own heart, Jess!]

About TAKE THE REINS (summary from Amazon): When Sasha Silver and her horse, Charm, arrive on the campus of the elite Canterwood Crest Academy, Sasha knows that she's in trouble. She's not exactly welcomed with open arms. One group of girls in particular is used to being the best, the brightest, and the prettiest on the team, and when Sasha shows her skills in the arena, the girls' claws come out.

Sasha is determined to prove that she belongs at Canterwood. Will she rise to the occasion and make the advanced riding team by the end of her first semester? Or will the pressure send Sasha packing?

Thanks so much for stopping by and answering my questions, Jess. I can't wait to finish the books, and we all wish you the best of luck on your series and all your future projects.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, February 16, 2009

A2A Chat: Interview with Mandy Hubbard

Tip of the Day: PRADA AND PREJUDICE releases on June 11! Check the blog all week for more debut author interviews.

This week at Author2Author, we're chatting with authors whose novels release in early 2009. I spoke to Mandy Hubbard, author of PRADA AND PREJUDICE, releasing this coming June. Doesn't that title sound delicious? And check out this fun jacket-type copy:

To impress the popular girls on a high school trip to London, klutzy Callie buys real Prada heels. But trying them on, she trips…conks her head…and wakes up in the year 1815! There Callie meets Emily, who takes her in, mistaking her for a long-lost friend. As she spends time with Emily’s family, Callie warms to them—particularly to Emily’s cousin Alex, a hottie and a duke, if a tad arrogant. But can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, and win Alex’s heart, before her time in the past is up?

This is such a great hook, isn't it? I asked Mandy some questions about her writing:

1. Time travel and Jane Austen's England! I'm so looking forward to reading this. Did you read Jane Austen as "research" and what was your favorite Austen novel?

Prada & Prejudice definitely involved research ... my favorite part was watching the movies for visual ideas-- Vanity Fair, Pride & Prejudice, Becoming Jane... I put the movies on and kept a notebook and scribbled silly notes that made sense only to me (such as Neckcloth->PEACOCK!!). As you can guess, Pride & Prejudice is defintiely my favorite Austen novel. There's just something about Mr. Darcy! I mean, Edward is great, but in 200 years are people still going to be head over heels for him? Mr. Darcy takes the cake.

2. You spend time on Live Journal and Verla Kay's Blueboards encouraging other writers (and we appreciate it!). What inspires you to connect to other writers online?

I think a big reason for me is that it took so long to get my deal. I got an agent in January '06 and my deal in June '08-- over two years. Rejection is so tough and it seems almost impossible at times. The hardest part is seing people get agents AFTER me and then sell very quickly ... and yet it turns out its quite common to take a year or more as an agented writer to land that deal-- and I wanted to be sure others knew that just because they didn't sell overnight didn't mean they wouldn't sell . . . everyone has their own path.
[Kate's note: That's just so motivated by niceness. I love it.]

3. As opposed to encouraging ... what do you find the most discouraging part of the writing process? Not the business part of it, but crafting your stories.

The hardest for me was doing a revision and having an editor feel I went the wrong direction. The idea that I spent hours upon hours on something and they didn't think it had improved was tough-- but a second editor completely disagreed and felt it had "come a long way," so that made it easier. It really is hard to be subjective about your own work.
[Kate's note: It's a good reminder, too, of how subjective editors can be.]

4. The launch date for PRADA AND PREJUDICE is June 11. Does it feel like it's years away or coming up too fast?

Years away! I seriously am dying for it to be on shelves already. I was lucky in that it is almost exactly 12 months from the day I got the call to the day it releases-- some writers wait two years or more-- but it still seems like it will never get here!
[Kate's note: Ha, I think I'd feel like this too!]

5. Would you be willing to give us an inside scoop on what you're working on now?

Currently, I'm working on DAIRY PRINCESS, which is due out Summer 2010, about a tomboy who enters a pageant-like competition in order to win the prize money and save her family's dairy. It's really fun to write because I grew up on a dairy farm.

OK, now I have two books to look forward to! Check out Mandy's website at to learn more about her novels. And thanks for talking with me, Mandy!

Tomorrow Emily interviews another debut author, Jessica Burkhart. Get your new book scoops all week long here, peeps!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, February 13, 2009

Romance, Romance, where for art thou Romance?

Tip of the Day: In your writing journal (you do have one, don’t you?) have a few pages reserved for places where you write down words you love. You might get a story idea from one or more of these words! And congrats Author2Author - this is our 300th post!!!

I have a confession to make – I was married on Valentine’s Day. Back then (19 wonderful years ago) I loved the idea of being married on the most romantic day of the year. Today, I think it might not have been the smartest move, seeing as how it’s really hard to go out to dinner on our anniversary because every other love-sick couple is wanting to do the same. And if he wants to send me flowers, he has to pay three times what he would have if we’d married in June.

But I digress. My point, I suppose, is that I am a romantic at heart. When I was a teen, even more so. I wanted roses and chocolate from my boyfriend on Valentine’s Day and I wanted diamonds and pearls on my birthday. (I’m not saying that’s what I *got* mind you). But even more than that, I can remember how over-the-moon I would be about the little things a guy would do to show me he cared.

And it’s these little things that really rock a teen’s world. It’s the way he looks at you from across the hallway at school. It’s the way he gently puts his hand on the small of your back to show you he’s there. It’s the way he buys you a balloon at a carnival, but as it slips out of your fingers, he whispers in your ear, "You are my helium" to make the most of the moment, as Jackson did with Ava in I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME.

When I was writing I HEART YOU, I knew I had to take the reader back to some of these tender moments Ava and Jackson shared when he was alive so they could see how much they loved each other and understand why she’d be relieved to have him back in her life, even if it was as a ghost. And what it came down to was putting tenderness and love in the simple things. It wasn’t just showing them going out for dessert. It was showing a tender moment between them as they ate that dessert – him kissing her because she had a little spot of lemon in the corner of her mouth. It’s about creating moments that, as you read, makes your heart flutter at the thought because it’s just so damn sweet.

Of course this begs the question, are there really guys who are that sweet? And my answer would be yes, absolutely. I dated a couple of them. And I married one of them. Of course, the key is to make sure there is balance. A guy can’t be sweet all the time. Make him human - show his dark side once in awhile, too.

But when there is a moment between the guy and the girl, and you want sparks and heart flutters, but mostly you want your reader to route for the couple to get closer, take a moment between them and add a little something special. Not much. Just a touch of tenderness, in his actions or his words. A little goes a long way. And when it’s over, the reader will want to read on because, hopefully, there will be more where that came from!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How do I write thee? Let me count the ways...

Tip of the Day: Check out Shadowed Summer, released this week. We interviewed the author here late last year.

I've been thinking about this topic all week-- trying to figure out what my method is for writing romance. And I think my blog partners here ROCK with all the awesome details of how they write. This is seriously good stuff that I think people will be able to use. Me included. My thing, I guess, is that I never think about any of this stuff. I just sit down and write and see what happens. But now I think I'll compile a checklist of these ideas that the other Misses posted and check my writing after I'm done. So helpful-- thanks ladies!

But as for me and my romance writing? Well, I guess I depend heavily on reflecting back to when I was a teen. What it felt like to be crushing SO hard on someone and wondering if he even knew you were alive (9 out of 10 times that was a big ol' no-- crushee was generally busy doing boy stuff). Doing incredibly silly things like putting a heart sticker on a boy's locker everyday for a week, certain that by Friday said boy would have figured out that it was me giving him the stickers and be so moved that he'd instantly fell in love with me (Um, yeah, I did that in 7th grade. He didn't fall in love with me. He got pissy about the sticky stuff on his locker everyday.)

Back then so much of life consisted of of analyzing, WAY over analyzing every word uttered, every motion made, and every look. Telling someone that I really like Johnny over there and I think he might like me because he totally stopped to get the door for me and said "hey", not just "hey-I-don't-know-you're-alive-and-I-say-hey-a-hundred-times-a-day-to-every-girl-I-pass" but "heeeeeeeey", like your butt looks good in those jeans "hey". And then I said "hey, thanks" and he licked his bottom lip and gave a small nod. He's into me right? Right?

I think a lot of times there is some obstruction-- something keeping you from your love and he from you. Could be a friend or parent etc. Or just, again, him not knowing you exist. People want to see the struggle for happiness (love). And it might be boring if it happens too easily. Like, in Twilight if it was just cool for Edward and Bella to hook-up and there were no problems there the story would end really quickly right? If Archie wasn't eternally trying to decide between Betty and Veronica we'd stop reading the comic wouldn't we? In fact, didn't Dawson's Creek (yes, please flash back in time with me for a moment) start to tank when Joey and Dawson DID start dating? Viewers were like well then there's that. OVER. If I'm remembering my Dawson trivia correctly the show had to quickly up the stakes by throwing Pacey into a love triangle with Dawson and Joey to save the show.

So I guess what a lot of my babbling is coming to is that writing romance is a lot about writing about struggle-- the struggle to have this great relationship-- whatever the obstacles be. And I guess that is something that carries outside of romance too and into other areas. Like, take American Idol. You've got all these kids that can sing. So how do we differentiate between them? We want to hear more, feel more, for the kids who struggle. (the singer who is blind, the guy who recently lost his wife, the girl who was homeless). If someone got on stage and sang great but was also like hey world, I have this awesome care-free life and I've never known a day of pain, he'd be voted off next week, no? Well, maybe not next week but he wouldn't be pulling at our heart strings like the others.

So those are my thoughts on romance writing for now. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments. I wish you all a wonderful Valentine's Day on Saturday, whether that is buying candy for your husband of twenty years or being set up on a blind date and hoping for that romantic spark, or whether you spend the day analyzing what it meant when the super cute guy at the mall bumped into you (he's SO into you!! I swear!), I hope it rocks.

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How I Write Romance (or Don't You Want Me Bay-bay?*)

*With apologies to Human League

Tip of the day: To challenge your writing skills, try creating a love interest who is someone you would never in a million years be romantically interested in yourself.

The basis for my novels is never romance. Not that love/crush interests don't make appearances in my stories, and not that relationships aren't instigators for novel conflict -- they are! But I think the issue is I'm just not a big romantic. My idea of a good Valentine's Day is one where my manpanion gives me some shoulder squeezes -- something I make him do on the regular anyway.

My current YA WIP, the Vietnam/Mafia Book, does explore what people will do for love, so I'm working on developing my romantic skills.

That said, here's how I write romance:

1) I plunge into my characters when I write, so when the love interest arrives, I use a lot of physical description.

2) Amidst the physical descriptions, the MC conveys how those physical traits make her feel/what she thinks about him.

3) When the love interest begins interacting with the MC, I use lots of dialog -- or lack of -- to show if he's a flirtatious guy, the strong silent type, etc.

4) As the MC and the love interests' relationship develops, I heighten the amount of internal feelings the MC has for the interest -- and heighten the amount of physical contact they make.

5) If I want to portray a lot of romance/super strong feelings, I draw out the kissing/hugging/touching bits into a long paragraph rather than a sentence.

6) "Longing" is huge in teen relationships, so I play that up with the MC whenever the love interest is not around.

I have not yet written a boy MC, but if I did, I wonder if I would use the same techniques to develop a romantic relationship. What do you think? (A good example that does this well is I KNOW IT'S OVER by C. K. Kelly Martin.)

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Isn't it romantic...

Tip of the Day: want some more tips on writing romance. Check out this site at Writing World

As a reader, romance to me is as important to a book as a character or plot. So as a writer, I’m always trying to create a compelling romance component in my books.

With each book, I’ve learned that romance is more than just throwing in a guy, having an instant connection based on looks, and then expecting readers to love the romantic connection right away. Sure it helps like Kate said that everyone roots for a romance between characters, but good romantic tension builds just as much as character growth or a plot.

There are a few things I've done in the past that have helped with my romances:

  1. Give the characters a common interest. The reader needs to feel like they belong together. Sure they can be opposites, but something still has to attract them to one another.
  2. Give them an internal and external conflict preventing them from coming together at first. Either parents that don't get along (Romeo and Juliet), a secret (such as in I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, Cammie can’t tell the boy she likes she’s a secret agent), or you know, ones a vampire or something else.
  3. Create a Romance Arc List/Outline: just like with characters, I always complete a romance arc of some kind. For my last book, all it was was a bulleted list that showed each phase of my character’s relationship: how they meet, what kept them apart, what brought them together, and finally how they resolved their issues and ended up together (because I’m a happily-ever-after kind of girl). I usually write out this outline/arc list after my first draft is complete and keep it on a white board right in front of my face as I make edits in subsequent drafts. But I think if planned properly doing this before could save yourself a lot of hassle (::hint hint:: to myself).
  4. And finally make sure all the characters in your romance are likable. I’m a sucker for the bad boy and most often the boys in my books have bad-boy characteristics. But I sometimes forget I have to show the reader their good sides earlier on in the book, so everyone (including the heroine) can fall in love with them as much as I have.

There’s several more tips I'm sure I use, but I can't think of them now. So I’ll leave it at those four things, since I know Deena, Tina, and Lisa are going to have more awesome suggestions to writing romance in the next few days. Stay tuned people. Don’t you want to see how Lisa managed to write such awesome romance involving a ghost? I know I do!!!!

And Happy Early Valentine’s Day.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine's Week: How We Write Rrrromance!

Tip of the Day: Whole grain mustard. Seriously. You'll never eat yellow mustard again.

We're celebrating Valentine's Day all week long here at Author2Author with a new edition of How I Write. We're all about romance this week! Yowza. So stay tuned for a hot, hot, hot week where we talk about how we write romance.

And after that big beginning, here's the letdown. I've been writing mostly tween and middle grade lately, so I haven't been writing any romance. The real question for me is: does romance seep in even where you don't expect it?

Let's start with a little market research. My 10-year-old daughter and I have been reading Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching trilogy together. In chapter 1 of the second book in the series, Tiffany is 11 years old and receives a wrapped present from a boy her age she met in the first book, Roland. To show her contempt for Roland, Tiffany doesn't open the gift, but tosses it in her bag. From then on, my daughter's curiosity was uncontrollable. "When is she going to open the present?" "What's in the present?" I had to keep saying over and over: "I don't know, I've read as far into this book as you have!"

OK, who can resist questioning an unwrapped present, right? Finally Pratchett saves me by having Tiffany open the package in chapter 3 and it's a necklace. And then my daughter's curiosity got worse. "Does she like him?" "Is she going to marry him?" (Me: "I don't know, I've read as far into this book as you have!") Considering that Roland was kind of an idiot in the first book, I couldn't figure out why my daughter was superimposing this forever kind of romance on the storyline.

So there it is: if my statistical sample of one is any indication, girls are building romances into stories even when they're barely there starting at age 10. I mean, have you seen how many YouTube and fan art tributes are dedicated to Ron and Hermione True Love 4Ever?

The shape of the story is always there. You don't have to give your main character sweaty palms or an audibly beating heart. Pretty much all you have to do is introduce a girl and a boy, have the girl say something stupid and embarrassing (or refuse to open a package), and your reader's imagination will do the rest.

What do you think of the minimalist approach? After all, a real life 13-year-old girl would probably obsess and obsess some more. Did he look right at me or sort of right at me? And then call her friends in to help her analyze "sort of right at." Realistic as this is, lately it doesn't seem to me like gripping reading. I think I'd rather drop a hint or two and let the 13-year-old reader do the obsessing. Or not notice at all? Yup, that's the balancing trick.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ramblings on Branding

Tip of the Day: Chew gum when you are wanting something to snack on while you write. It helps!

I’ve been thinking a lot about branding lately as it relates to being an author. Right now I’m working on my third YA book for Simon Pulse, and it’s another ghostly love story written in verse, which I think fans of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME will like. At least, I hope they will. I’m trying to make it new and fresh, of course, because obviously people don’t want the same old, same old.

But when I’m finished, I really want to do something different. Something that makes me stretch my wings in some new ways. Don’t get me wrong, each book requires stretching. But it makes me think about some authors who have found their place on the YA shelves and happily embrace it. Think Sarah Dessen, Ellen Hopkins, or John Green. Is there something wrong with me because I’m not happily embracing a certain type of story? I’d be curious to know if the above authors write what they write because that’s what they truly LOVE, or is it because they want to continue to give their readers what they love. What do you think?

As for me, it’s not like I’ve hit the NYT list with my books like the above authors have. I don’t feel like I could be ruining my career or some crazy thing because I decide to branch out. On the other hand, with each book, I’m supposedly gaining readers, and so maybe it’s my job as an author to continue to write the same kind of books so somewhere down the road, I will “be successful.”

I don’t know. All I know is I want to try something different. Maybe it’ll be a flop. But maybe it’ll be something wonderful. I just don’t know until I try. And so, that’s what I’m going to do, and see what happens!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Writing Book Proposals

Tip of the Day: Like YA Regency Romance? Check out Sara MacLean’s THE SEASON. It was released a month early.


I’ve been working A LOT on book proposals lately. And it occurred to me that not everyone might know what these consists of so I thought I’d share. At least what I’m doing.

When you first start querying for an agent or editor you should have your entire book complete. More than complete—you should have it as perfect as possible. It would be awesome if you could get an agent or sell a book on proposal but this doesn’t happen too often when you’re first starting out (not saying it CAN’T. Just that most of the time you need a completed book). Once you’ve had a book published and editors can see that hey, yeah, you can write and complete an entire book then you can start submitting proposals. For example, I believe our own Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career, recently sold her Chasing Brooklyn, on proposal (right Lisa?).

Well, my first book isn’t out there just yet but I am working with my editor right now to figure out what my book two should be (my contract is for two books). Instead of writing full books I’m writing proposals for my various ideas and submitting those. So what is going into my proposals?

1) One-Page Synopsis

This reads almost like a blurb on the back of the book but a little more in depth. It gives a good idea of what the book will be about.

2) Outline

This is a toughie. Here I outline the ENTIRE book chapter by chapter. I try to completely describe what will happen in that chapter in just a paragraph or so. Sometimes it’s hard. Like, I may have just a brief paragraph describing chapter 5 but then need half a page to describe chapter 6. I do need to give away all the vital bits of the book in the outline—all the way through to the end. My outlines end up being anywhere from 5 to 10 pages usually. In our A2A interviews we’ve asked authors before if they are “plotters” or “plungers”. I’ve always been a plunger but with writing proposals I’m sort of forced to be a plotter instead.

3) Sample

The last element of my proposal is the sample. Here you show the editor a piece of what the book will be like. How much is up to you and your editor or agent. Some people like to do the first three chapters. Some people like to do the first fifty pages. For me I’ve been doing roughly the first thirty pages (sometimes I go over depending on where my chapter is ending).

So this is how I put together a book proposal. For those of you that have worked on book proposals, do you do anything different? Or do you have any tips you’d like to share?

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Underwriter Challenge (or If Only I Were Underwritten)

Tip of the Day: I recently rediscovered my love of guacamole while in Mexico, and the manpanion and I stole Hacienda Sisal's recipe: avocado, lime juice, tomato, chili pepper, salt, garlic salt, cilantro. Start with small amounts of seasonings and add more to taste. Just recreated it and it's ALMOST like I'm still in the sun....

I am an overwriter. Anyone whose met me in person is probably not surprised ("You use so many words," the manpanion tells me when I update him on my work day. "Can't you just tell me what happened?").

I like being an overwriter for a number of reasons. In revisions, it is easier for me to cut than to add (adding feels like real work; cutting is just the delete button!). And I really know my characters through all the extraneous scenes and dialogs I create for them. Plus, little gems can pop up to be used in the story where I never saw them coming before my ramblings began.

But there are some reasons that I wish, just for once, I could be an underwriter. Why? My perception of underwriters is this:

1. Underwriters are typing THE END while I'm still beating chapter 5 to death

2. Underwriters have a fast-paced plot that they can't wait to get through while I'm still figuring out what's gonna happen in chapter 8 while I'm writing chapter 8

3. Underwriters are adding darlings while I'm deciding which scenes to slash

4. Underwriters don't have to scrap as much when they realize half their book isn't working

5. Underwriters are focused while I'm exploring what the carpet nubs feel like under the MC's pinky toes and how that's different than what they feel like under her pointer toes

6. Underwriters choose their words carefully while I throw 2 adverbs and 1 adjective into every beautifully crafted, quickly written long sentence

Does anyone have any tips on how to become more of an underwriter? Obviously fast-drafting doesn't work for me. If not a tip on becoming an underwriter, how about a balanced over/underwriter?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Where do you start a book?

Tip of the Day: if you have trouble starting your story, just start walking through the bookstore and reading the first pages of several books you’ve never read before. And then focus more clearly on what pulls you in as a reader during that first page or what doesn’t make you connect with it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I have no idea where to start my stories. In each book I’ve written, I usually have a minimum of ten completely different drafts of the first chapter before I’ve settled on one. Just when I think I have it figured out, I realize that I’m wrong. I’m still trying to figure out the fine balance of jumping readers into the story, while still having a beginning where they can connect with the character.

So where exactly is a good place to start a novel?

Maybe we can discuss.

Here’s some thoughts I’ve gathered:

  1. It’s important to start at the pivotal point of the plot. Or at the conflict or situation that sets your character down the path for the plot of the book.
  2. But at the same time, sometimes I’ve found out that the conflict to start with isn’t the main conflict of the book, but opens or leads to it in some way. For example, the Princess Diaries starts out with Mia finding out her mother is dating her teacher, not that she finds out she’s a princess. But that first conflict is necessary to show her going from ordinary teen to royalty.
  3. It’s important to show who your character is from page 1.
  4. Something has to happen for the reader to connect with the character in Chapter 1: either an embarrassing event, life-changing circumstance the reader can connect with, or even the way the main character thinks or handles the situation. But that connection has to happen quickly.
  5. While it’s important to show all of this quickly, it’s just as important that it doesn’t overwhelm the reader and there’s not too much going on. Focus on one conflict at a time, but make sure it fits into the overarching plot.

Easy, right?

Maybe this is why beginnings are so hard. There’s so much that needs to be accomplished in that first chapter. And at the same time, it needs to feel natural and not too confusing or overloaded.

Do you agree? What helps you determine where to start a story?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Next Big Genre

Tip of the Day: It's Groundhog Day, and you know what that means in Rochester NY. If the groundhog sees his shadow, at least 6 more weeks of winter. And if the groundhog doesn't see his shadow, at least 6 more weeks of winter.

So I've been reading online from conference notes and blogs that editors are seeing the same kinds of books over and over again, one of them being "average kid gets superpowers." This dismays me because you could call what I'm writing "average kid gets superpowers" (although I prefer to think of it as suburban fantasy, thank you).

The truth is, there's a lot of paranormal out there. I started writing paranormal because that's what I was enjoying in my reading. Now it seems like a lot of writers I know are working on paranormals, and I can't help but wonder if it's because that's what is available for us to read. After all, you read a few good books, you get ideas for your own story. You're inspired to write a great paranormal book, it gets published, there's more paranormal on the shelves. It's a circle that feeds on itself.

As a writer, it takes me a long time to finish writing and revising a story, so I've been working on two paranormal books. As a reader, I'm wondering what the next big genre will be. If editors are seeing too much paranormal, what comes next? I think it could be ...

Romance. I don't mean romance with vampires or faeries, but you know, just fun, well-written romance. People loved OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE by Liz Gallagher this year. I think romance could make a big splash this year.

Science Fiction. HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins got a lot of attention this year. Scott Westerfeld is still hugely popular and Phillip Reeve's Steampunk-like worlds are getting to be well known. Maybe Sci Fi is the next big thing.

Historical Epic. Oh, these are fun, aren't they? It seems like more modern time periods are being explored in YA for the first time, too, like the 1940s in TEN CENTS A DANCE by Christine Fletcher.

Mystery. Is it time for mystery to make a comeback? I loved GETTING THE GIRL by Susan Juby, which was heavy on the comedy, light on the mystery. Mystery with a twist (comedy, history, etc.) has always been popular.

If I were running odds, I'd bet on one of those four. Horror/Suspense could be a contender, though. I haven't seen much straight up horror lately, like when I was a teen devouring PET CEMETARY and CHRISTINE. Adventure? Street Lit? Those can be harder to identify as genres. And most books still fall into the General Fiction category.

But I think paranormal is going to be big for a long time. After all, there are paranormal romances, paranormal mysteries, paranormal historicals ... That's what I love about YA: all those genres on the shelf next to each other and blending together so I can read them all!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages