Quick Links

Now, I’m not going to go play with you and dare to assume that, if you’re a fan or writer or both of YA fiction you’re not reading Ally Carter’s blog, because you totes are, right? Right. But, just in case you haven’t checked in with Ally for a while, I wanted to alert you to two posts she’s done on questions aspiring YA writers tend to ask, and those they don’t, and why the former are wrong and how we should be asking the latter. Very instructive, from a lady who really knows her stuff. Also, she has a really good perspective on what it means to be writing YA fiction v. writing adult fiction, which pretty much corresponds with what I’ve been recently thinking on the matter (that the perspective of the novel, typified by your narrator, determines this; if it’s a teen perspective, it’s YA, if it’s an adult perspective, it’s adult, although of course there are exceptions to every rule and I’m sure you could punch holes in that theory if you tried).

Also, if you’re a fan of YA writer John Green (and who isn’t?), he posted dates, times, and locations for his Paper Towns book tour on his blog, plus the dates and geographical locations for his and Hank’s Tour de Nerdfighting. Not to mention there’s an extended Question Tuesday filmed at a library that John just posted, and in the first part he talks about writing, which I always love (obvs).

Lastly, please do head over to Joelle Anthony’s blog and congratulate her on selling her YA novel, RESTORING HARMONY. It sounds awesome and I can’t wait to read it.


God, puns/portmanteaus with the word “query” in them are hard. Lesson learned! Anyway, you know how querying is the first step to getting an agent? Well, sometimes, despite how hard your project rocks or how good a writer you are, your query sucks. Don’t feel bad, so did mine, I’m pretty sure. But the very kind Joelle Anthony, a bonafide query master, has offered to take a look at your query and see if she can use her vast knowledge to supe it up a little. There are rules for this endeavor, so visit her blog for more details. I will not be offering this same sort of advice, mostly because I don’t think you want my help writing a query–mine was never very good to begin with.

Done and overdone

Back in August, YA writer Joëlle Anthony compiled a pretty comprehensive, interesting list of things that are overused in young adult/children’s literature. I’d seen it before, but I came across it again today after it was linked from another blog, and I, of course, did what anybody with an unpublished YA manuscript would do: I counted up how many of these YA clichés my story contained.

I am guilty of:

  • #12: A dead mother (not a focus of the narrative, but a fact in the life of a character)
  • # 8: The diary, either as the entire format, or the occasional entry (only a few entries, very brief, necessary to the mystery plot)
  • # 5: Raising one eyebrow (I probably did this. It’s a fave of mine because I wish I could do it but woefully cannot. I couldn’t tell you where I used it in the MS, but it’s probably in there.)

That’s it! No oppressed vegetarians, no wannabe artist or writer characters, no saying “‘rents”, no fuddy-duddy names (though I guess that’s debatable),  no genius younger siblings,  no She’s All That rip-off plots, and most of all no red hair. Most of my characters have brown hair, with the exception of one protagonist whose hair is blonde. Large scale avoidance of these clichés, of course, is no guarantee that an editor will be interested in my manuscript, but at least I won’t be falling into traps that might mean auto-reject. That I know of.

Oh, and a quick progress report: My revised MS is back with my agent, who downloaded it onto a Sony Reader and is taking it, digitally, to the London Book Fair with her. Even though I sort of want a Kindle for the tech geek in me, I actually don’t think I’d use it ever, but these digital readers must be such a relief to agents and editors who used to have to carry around tons of pages wherever they went.