Thursday, April 28, 2011

MG vs. YA

Tip of the Day: Don't forget to wake up early to watch Will and Kate get married! Or, you know, sleep in like me.

I love writing for both middle grade and young adults so I can't really pick one over the other. I do think I have more of an audience at the middle grade level since I write more light hearted, humorous novels and right now, like Deena said, YA is a lot of dark stuff currently. Sure you can find some light stuff but when you walk into a bookstore most of the stuff faced out is dark. I miss the pink cover days! The middle grade kids are still open to the lighter, fun books (Yay!) and I love the fan mail I get from the middle grade readers too! So yeah, I can't really decide between them, both are fun for me to write. I just finished writing a new YA and I'm about to revise it but once I'm finished with it it's back to middle grade for my next one.

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oh Those Angsty Teens! (or Oh Those Funny Kids!)!

Tip of the Day: Want to laugh out loud? Click on this link to watch author Jack Ferraiolo's book trailer for his upcoming middle-grade novel, SIDEKICKS.

Lately I've been reading a lot of great teen novels, but, uh, in case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of serious/dark/murderous/evil/monsterly elements going on in YA fiction today. That is why I am loving me some MG right now. Besides Jack's book mentioned above, some other authors are doing readers of all ages a favor with their upbeat, humorous MG novels. We need something to balance out the demonic faerie vampires!

So that's how I've been dividing my MG and YA reading right now: when I want something more upbeat, I pick up an MG; and when I can handle a dark premise, I go for the YAs. Age of the characters really has less of a factor on my reading habits right now than the mood the novels convey.

What trends have you noticed in MG v. YA fiction lately?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Age is just a number

Tip of the Day: sometimes saying "no" is the best choice. Even if it doesn't feel like it.

No matter how much older I get, I never seem to loose my teen spirit and mind set. Always having that eternal optimism or the feeling you can conquer the world, but having no idea where to start. Most YA writers are probably the same.

It's much easier to write from a teen perspective if you are easily in touch with your teenage self!

In the Great YA vs. MG debate, I'll Forever be a Teen. There's no getting around that. Maybe it's because of my love of romance and kissing.

Even though I know I'll never jump the fence fully and become Team MG, I'm still having fun dabbling in the Middle Grade World.

What's not to love?

  • You get to be even more odd with your characters and throw weird challenges at them. If you want to have a talking bird named Cat, it's not a stretch.
  • In middle grade fiction, you can have action that's faster paced and stories that move quickly along and get to the point. (And having read a lot of literary fiction lately, it's a nice change of pace :)
  • Your characters are truly just discovering boys and there's so many fun awkward moments you can write in for them because of it.
  • And life is so much fun at the that age!

So which team are you on MG or YA?


Monday, April 25, 2011

Ah Yes, the Old MG vs. YA Debate

Tip of the Day: It's my semi-annual reminder to back up your files to thumb drives. Think of it as writer's Spring cleaning.

What is a middle grade voice? What is a young adult voice?

Some people would advise writers to stick to the voice they are best at. Others would say it's better to write both--then you can have two books in the market at the same time that don't compete with each other.

Is it possible to be equally adept at both voices?

I find that my young adult characters are smarter and I get to use bigger words, which is fun. Also, they're less inclined to react to situations with sarcasm and frustration. As the mother of a 12-year-old, it seems like 12-year-olds react to EVERYTHING with "This stinks! It's so not fair!" My older teenage characters already know that life isn't fair. They worry more about if they are being fair to others rather than if others are being fair to them.

But I think it is possible to learn to write both points of view well. In fact, as I drag into X number of years of writing, I'm less convinced that we have a natural "writing age." We've all been 17 and we've all been 12, and we can all tap into those feelings.

Although I'm not finding field research to be very helpful. My older teen nieces and nephews don't want to reveal their private lives, and being around groups of 12-year-olds gives me migraines. (God bless those middle school teachers. I don't know how they stay sane.)

Do you think you have a natural "writing age"? How often do you try to write for another age group, including adults? Could you develop your writing for any aged audience, or do you think it's true that most writers have a specific voice?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fun Friday: Book Reviews

My first VOYA review will be appearing in the June 2011 issue of the journal!

Want to know what else I'm reading and what I've enjoyed? Check out my LiveJournal blog for a running list. Here's a taste:

I WILL SAVE YOU by Matt de la Pena
Kidd runs away from his group home to Cardiff by the Sea and starts on a better path with a father figure boss and a girl friend, but his old friend Devon finds him living in the campgrounds and threatens to tear down everything good he has built up. The way the author wove together the present, past, journal entries, and other memories flowed perfectly; and the ending was worth every word from page one. This YA tale of mental illness and the desire to heal was brilliantly written.

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A2A Teen Years: When I Grow Up...

Tip of the Day: Check out the Macmillan Fall 2011 Catalog. Just Your Average Princess is in there too. :-)

When I was little I was positive I would be a rock star, stage name TINA ROCKAFINA. In my 5th grade year book I answered the question: "Where will you be in 20 years?" ON STAGE. Oh yeah. As I got into high school things changed and I decided I'd become a nurse. I even got accepted into a nursing program after high school But that lasted just a semester and I switched majors to English.

So what did my friends think I would be? Thanks to facebook and still keeping in touch there, I asked. Here were some of their responses:

Teri: Something in the medical field.

Alyssa: Investigative Journalist

Eileen: Journalist

Annette: Veterinarian

Laurie: Something in the medical field.

Interesting! Journalist comes pretty close!

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A2A Teen Years: What will you be when you grow up?

Tip of the Day: With all our talk recently of e-pubbing, read this post by Lisa Schroeder about why she likes traditional publishing. In high school, my friends and I asked the Ouija Board what we would be when we "grew up." I'm pretty sure it said "NUN" for me (and it told Shaunna she'd be "GAY" and Kim she'd be a "SEX QUEEN"; not sure who was pushing the planchette for that session). Then when I started working at the library as a Page, people would call me a librarian. So maybe they could see the future more than the Ouija Board? Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A2A Teen Years: I don't wanna grow up...

Tip of the Day: a few professors at Indiana University are trying to survey Adult readers of YA fiction to determine how better to promote YA fiction to adults within the library. If you are willing to participate you can go here.

It's always fun to relive the teen years here on A2A, and talking about what we wanted to be when we were younger brings back great memories. I actually had a slumber party with my nieces and nephew this past weekend and asked them the same question. Their answers: a race car driver, a teacher, and a writer (yay!).

From about the time I was 10 till a freshman in college, I wanted to be a lawyer. I loved mystery books and solving crimes, and thought I really like to try to help put away criminals. I loved my law class in high school and participating in mock trials. Really anything to get me to argue with others was tons of fun for me :) But then I realized how hard the job would be and how much I wouldn't want to defend someone I thought was guilty, so I switched thoughts to business and marketing.

Amongst my friends, I think most of them thought I'd grow up to do something very analytical, like business, law, or even education. My SAT scores were always better in math than English.

As it turns out, I'm really in more of a creative field, since my job in the library is Public Relations. Not really what I or anyone else thought I'd get into.

But I've always loved being creative, designing things, writing (obviously!), and it was a natural progression. And I love my non-writing job, especially since I work in a library.

One of the best decisions I ever made was switching from Marketing to Advertising as a Junior in College. It's a subtle difference, but one is much more creative than the other. And I couldn't be happier.


Monday, April 18, 2011

A2A Teen Years: When I Grow Up, I'm Gonna Be ... Gone

Tip of the Day: If you missed HBO's Game of Thrones last night, you missed a great show. It captured the spirit of the books amazingly well.
Here at Author2Author, we thought it might be fun to talk about what our teen friends thought we'd be when we grew up. (Or is that "if we grew up"?) Actually, I'm not sure my friends thought I'd do much of anything, nor did they really care. I'm not sure I care too much what my friends today do for a living; it's not really who they are.
What my friends and I cared about much more was WHERE we were going to be when we grew up, which was, to be exact, "the hell out of here." Some of us wanted to retire to Palm Beach at the age of 18, and many of my high school friends moved South, to never deal with snow again.
I think my friends had me pegged as a city girl, living in an overpriced studio apartment in Brooklyn or Boston. And my life almost went that way. But love changes everything, and my husband is a country guy who likes the wide open spaces. So we had to compromise.
Other friends stayed right where we grew up, and sometimes I'm jealous. It must be nice to know the people who own the stores where you shop, and their parents, and the town supervisor, and all the teachers, and most importantly, all the gossip!
But I was restless, and I think my friends saw in me that I wasn't destined to live in one place for too long. Now I've lived in Rochester for like 9 years and it seems like home. Moving around a lot is a pain; you have to get to know everything all over again. But my husband and I still talk about moving. Texas? Atlanta? North Carolina? There's so much to experience.
And that was the big question looming on the minds of most of my teen compadres, rather than what to do for a living. Should I stay or should I go?
What I would tell any teenager thinking about this is, you know, it works out either way. You're not a loser for staying near your family. Your life will be rich and full. But if you leave, you can always come back, or even go somewhere else, and you'll probably be glad you learned about another part of the country.
If all else fails, read Little Women. Beth and Meg were meant to stay home and Jo and Amy were meant to leave. Much of the second half of the book is Jo's angst about it. How would she get out? Once she had gotten out, had she cheated herself by missing Beth's company before her death? But by the end of the novel, her second guessing is over. Whether you stay or go, life works out beautifully either way.
-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fun Friday: Worst Review Ever?

Bad reviews, we all get them. Even if 100 people say they love your book and it's the best thing ever written, it's likely someone will rant online somewhere about how awful they found your book. So what can you do? Post the review at Worst Review Ever. Take a look at NYT Bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater's worst review of Shiver and her reaction to it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Teeny Bopper Mags Galore!

Tip of the Day: If you're in or near the Bolingbrook, Illinois area, I'll be attending the author fair (with over 40 other authors!) at the Fountaindale Library this Saturday, 4/16, from 11am-3pm. Hope to see you there!

I loved reading magazines as a teen! And I still do now though I call them research. ;-) These days I love reading the glossy gossip mags like Star or Ok. And back when I was teen I also was all about the magazines with the glossy pictures at least. But mostly these kinds with my cutie pie New Kids on the Block on them.

I was the president and founder of my local New Kids on the Block fan club back then so of course I needed to have the proper local for our meetings. I cut out every single picture I could find of the NKOTB from these magazines and covered every single inch of my bedroom walls, much to my Dad's delight. It looked amazing! I wish I had thought to take a picture.

So tell me, did you do this too? And who was your favorite NKOTB? Joey was mine. I still think he might come for me someday. :-)

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Glossy, Full Color Tween Life (or "You're My Cover Girl*)

*With apologies to New Kids on the Block Tip of the Day: To feel either very smart -- or very not smart -- get yourself into some Jeopardy Wii gaming, level hard!

I LOVED reading teen magazines in my tween years. I subscribed to Teen, YM (Young & Modern), and Seventeen at different times, and the ones I didn't own I checked out from the my library. My friend and I did all the quizzes, picked out which prom dresses we would wear, and wrote fake "embarassing moments" and sent them in hoping to get published (we never did). We wrote our own quizzes, and spent hours pouring over new and old editions. When I started writing for tweens and teens, I wrote some pieces for Girls' Life but never heard back on them. Sigh. I would love to write for a teen magazine to contribute back to the medium that provided me with years of entertainment. Now, I browse through magazines in waiting rooms or in quick passing, but I don't buy them anymore. I just don't have time to read them cover-to-cover, or to store them with the intention of getting back to them later.

Still, if Girls' Life wants me, I'm here!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I LOVE libraries 2.0

Tip of the Day: if you are ever in Fort Wayne in April, you need to visit the Vera Bradley sale. It's a site not to be missed.

I know we just talked about our love of libraries a few weeks ago, but I thought I'd give a second shout out to them since this week is National Library Week (and today is National Library Workers Day).

Now I know everyone reading this blog probably already loves libraries and uses them on a weekly basis. But I'm constantly amazed that there's still people out there that don't know what a library has to offer. Even people that use libraries weekly. And sometimes I stumble on resources that I didn't know existed either. So I thought I share just of the top of my head several services that I can think of that many libraries offer that benefit writers (and maybe other people could do the same in the comments):

1.) Access to LOTS of books. I know this is a given, but reading is the key to great writing. Having access to loads of books in the genre you want to write, or access to non-fiction materials is invaluable. Then there's all the books on the writing craft, finding agents, and even those on weird things like crime scene tips or books on a specific career or field of study to help build characters or settings.

2.) Free writers groups, workshops, or author visits. Every library I know of has author visits throughout the year. And many have weekly, bi-monthly, or periodic writer's groups.

3.) Movies that can be checked out to use for inspiration or ideas.

4.) Reliable databases to use for research. Do you need to know how much a bullet weighs? Or how big the state of Texas is? There's probably a database for that.

5.) Access to audiobooks that provide another format to listen too (especially since audio books are more expensive). But for me listening to books in multiple ways helps expand my writing.

6.) Check out CDs to help get you motivated, get you in the mind of your character, or just to provide stress relief after a difficult writing session.

7.) Used Books Sales throughout the year to provide you access with more books that you can keep and reference when writing.

8.) Travel books to help learn more about a setting or location.

9.) Internet access if you are trying to save money and living the "struggling" writer life-style.

10.) If you have a book, a place to give talks and bookmarks for them to distribute. Which is why making friends with your local librarians is always a good idea. Because if I know anything, librarians talk...and they like authors a whole lot! And what's even better is that librarians often have teen groups that might like to meet you and learn about your book as well!

11.) Reference assistance if you have a tough questions you can't find the answer to.

And there's tons more. But I'll stop the Library Love for now.

If you are curious, our library has a "Library Use Calculator" that helps you calculate how much money you save by using the library.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Magazines, Short Stories, and the Future

Tip of the Day: Check out Michelle Schusterman's First Draft Guide for the Focus Impaired Writer on YA Highway.

I've written a few short stories, but I don't honestly feel I've honed my craft as a short story writer, and a major reason for that is what the heck do you do with them after you've written them? What is the market for YA short stories? Not so great.

I didn't read short stories as a teen. I wasn't much into magazines. Actually, I used to buy this one magazine that printed the lyrics of popular songs. That's how old I am. I am several years B.G. (Before Google). I didn't really do magazine quizzes.

Friend of Kate's: Oooh, let's take this quiz.
Me: That quiz is rigged, you know.
Friend of Kate's: I don't respond to you when you're being weird. Okay, you're on a date and he talks about his car for an hour.
Me: That describes every weekend of my life.
Friend of Kate's: You don't get out that much. So, A, you say that's absolutely fascinating; B, you hide in the ladies' room; or C, you tell him to shut up?
Me: What kind of idiot would do any of those things? Fine, I want to get the "Nasty Shrew" score at the end. I'll pick C.
Friend of Kate's: But you wouldn't do that.
Me: The. Quiz. Is. Rigged!

Today I subscribe to Discover, the science magazine, so I can play "count the number of articles that go over my head."

BUT. This weekend, I was in the car shop (just picking up, not listening to anyone) and I saw Time Magazine's new issue on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. It looked interesting, but what caught my eye was the note that the content had been edited to fill the space, but if I wanted to read the full article on the Civil War, I could buy it from Amazon as a Kindle single.

So, what do you think? Will people start publishing their articles on line instead of in magazines? Will that create a larger short story market?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Break for the Boys

Tip of the Day: Want a shot at winning a copy of THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer Hubbard? Click here! We've done a good job this week of highlighting some girly beach reads for Spring Break, but what about books for the boys who like to chill in the shade for a bit? Here's some books that I really enjoyed -- never mind that one of them takes place in a snow storm; it reminds the beach comber what they are missing. Also never mind the romantic-looking cover on ACROSS THE UNIVERSE -- it is a great sci-fi that both guys and girls will enjoy (much like the total appeal of THE HUNGER GAMES). See you next week! Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring Break. Literally.

Tip of the Day: Want a shot to win the forthcoming MERCY LILY by Lisa Albert? Click here! What are some YA titles that literally take place over spring break? Try these! Happy reading! Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beach Reads (or Break for Books this Spring!)

Tip of the Day: Want to find out about lots of book giveaways? Check out this page of Verla Kay's message board. Who's heading south for Spring Break this month? Sadly, not me, but if I were, these are the kinds of beach reads I'd throw in my beach bag. ROSEBUSH by Michele Jaffe The spring break time period and enthralling attempted murder mystery will keep you poolside for hours. Great for your tan! FIXING DELILAH by Sarah Ockler The hot summer setting in a small lake town provides high temps for the bod and the brain. ZOMBIES VS. UNICORNS edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier This variety of short stories, some hilarious and some creepy, will give you something to read no matter what your mood. Plus the cover is a Where's Waldo cornicopia of viewing pleasure. Happy Spring! Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

To Spring Break Read or Not?

Tip of the Day: there seems to be alot of sick people out there lately. Just wanted to say a quick feel better everyone :)

This week we are discussing Spring Break reads at A2A. Unfortunately, everything I've been reading lately is adult literary fiction (not really my cup of tea). I'm on a committee at work that's helping pick a one book, one county selection. But Water for Elephants wasn't too bad and the movie looks fantastic, so I guess I can't complain too much.

In between all the stories that seem to be what I call "historical with issues," I'm trying to get in some more fun reads. Since I enjoy reading books classified as Spring Break or Beach Reads any day of the week, this is easy for me.

Some of the books I've enjoyed lately or have coming up...

Call Me's not a YA book, but I'm in love with anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips at this time, and her books are so fun that I'm sharing it anyway. This one features former golf-player Ted Beaudine (who's been mentioned in several other books). He's about to get married to the daughter of the former president, when the maid-of-honor steps in and persuades her friend to break off the wedding.

At first, I didn't know if I was going to like the romance, since it's between Ted and the free-spirited maid-of-honor Meg Koranda ( the daughter of Hollywood royalty). But in typical Phillips fashion the characters are well rounded and very likable. And when the entire town of Wynette, Texas seems to turn on Meg you can't help but root for her. Very cute read.

And I just bought this book because of the title...Killer Cruise by Jennifer Shaw. It's a few years old now, but it's about several mysteries about a cruise ship. That pretty much has "winning book" written all over it.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Breaaaaak!

Tip of the Day: Looking for a professional critique? Check out the Crits for Water auction to help build clean water facilities for communities without access to clean drinking water.

OMG, it is up to 46 degrees F in sunny Rochester, New York! Spring is finally here! Time to break out the capris.

Wait, you mean 46 degrees isn't spring where you live? I can't hear you, la la la la.

I won't be traveling for spring break this year, as I have a fun summer trip in the works. So I'll just have to dream about the beach. I grew up near the beach so I have lots of teen beach memories, which translates to ideas about beach books. I fully expect to write one someday, although my beach ideas haven't made it to the top of the queue yet.

In the meantime, here are some beach books I read recently that made me feel less homesick:
STEALING HEAVEN by Elizabeth Scott takes place in a rich, old-money beach community. One of my ideas is about waitressing in a resort town like that. In STEALING HEAVEN, the main character's summer job is burglary. This novel was a lot of fun, with lots of witty dialogue between the main character and her love interest on the other side of the law.

Deb Caletti's THE SIX RULES OF MAYBE takes place on an island, and there are great ferry scenes and "staring at the water with a special guy" scenes. Only the special guy is the main character's brother in law. This novel asks the question, what do you do when you're falling in love with your sister's husband and that sister is acting like a flighty, cheating so-and-so? Tough question, but you get another great beach read.

Have a good time on spring break, y'all. I'm gonna kick back and soak in the rays here before I have to scrape ice off my windshield again.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fun Friday: Twitter Stuff!

Here's some fun stuff I found about Twitter this week.

First, a long list of YA authors who tweet! Follow one or all! I'm not on the list (yet) but you can follow me at @TinaSpringer.

And if you are a YA author, you might want to follow @YAauthors. He (or she?) only follows YA authors and will retweet your important info like book tours, new releases etc.

Check out KidPub. They follow 100 twittering YA authors and post their updates.

And finally, if you're going to look at any link on this post, you HAVE to check out Read Write Tweet! They have an awesome list of: