Thursday, July 21, 2011
WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES by Deborah Halverson (giveaway!)
Today I would like to introduce you to Deborah Halverson, author of WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES. Deborah was an editor for Harcourt Children's Books for ten years, is an author (HONK IF YOU HATE ME and BIG MOUTH), and is also the creator of the wildly popular blog "DearEditor.com." In other words, she really knows her stuff. Deborah stopped by dulemba.com to answer some questions. She also kindly donated TWO books to be given away right here! As usual, once I have 25 comments, I'll do a drawing - so leave a comment! But that's not all. There's more free stuff. Read...
Q. This is the first book on writing Young Adult fiction in the For Dummies series - how did the project come about?
A. An agent who knew of Wiley’s interest in publishing a book for YA writers knew of me—that I’d edited picture books as well as teen and tween fiction for Harcourt Children’s books for ten years, that I’d written my own teen novels, and that I’d taught classes about writing for young people. She knew about my experience on both sides of the editorial desk . . . but she didn’t know me because we hadn’t met. For all she knew, I was a big dud. So when she sent me an email to gauge my interest, she was vague about the actual project, referring to it just as a book about the craft of writing YA fiction. I was feeling playful that day and replied with a lighthearted bit of banter, unwittingly replacing her question mark with a solid check mark: my “voice” was just right for the funny yet informational For Dummies series. The book’s editors were wonderful about letting me shape the book as I saw fit, encouraging and supporting me as I filled it with the information I know writers want/need to know thanks to my years in the trenches. And these ladies were funny, too, making the editing and revising process a real hoot. I’m hoping that this playful spirit comes through to readers, making it fun for them, too.
Q. The YA market is huge right now - how do you see the current reading trends and are there any themes that seem to be doing especially well?
A. Dystopian is riding a frothy wave, with Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy on the crest. The much buzzed about film version of her bestselling The Hunger Games is further increasing the interest in dystopian YA fiction—and by extension all fiction for young people. That ripple effect is fabulous. I’m particularly excited about next month’s publication of Jeff Hirsch’s dystopian novel The Eleventh Plague (which features a blurb from Ms. Collins on the cover, incidentally). Jeff’s writing is deep and strong, with characters you’ll really worry about and with adventure and emotion in equal quantities.
Q. Do you think a certain mindset is necessary to write YA (as opposed to Mid grade or Adult fiction)? If so, what might that be?
A. Whether they’re aiming at a YA or a middle grade readership, writers of young adult fiction must respect and reflect the sensibility of their young readers. These are not laws of nature by any means, but in general tweens (ages 9-12) tend to be focused inward, with conflicts stemming from their struggles to find out who they are, while teens (ages 12 and up) are starting to look outward, finding their places in the world and realizing that their actions have consequences that affect others in the grander scheme. Adults are capable—if not always willing—to apply more mature self-analysis to their behavior than either group of young people.
Q. Many of my readers are probably writing YA manuscripts right now - what will they face when it's time to submit?
A. While all of publishing is facing tough times due to the struggling economy and the institution-rocking popularity of e-books and self-publishing, young adult fiction is one of the highlights saleswise. This means there’s opportunity for your YA/MG writers to land their book deals with traditional houses despite all the industry belt-tightening. The key to making that contract happen is offering editors a project with strong writing and a saleable hook—that is, a premise that at once fits into a particular market while standing out as something fresh, entertaining, and irresistible.
Q. I've seen press for WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES all over our kidlit blogosphere - this is obviously a much needed book. How do you feel it fits the need?
A. I worked hard to arm writers with the tools they need to become successful YA authors. That means I cover targeting your audience and developing a youthful voice, shaping your plot, creating teen-friendly characters, writing natural dialogue, and using setting to illuminate characters and plot, and I guide you through self-editing, revising, and preparing a stand-out submission package. But I didn’t want to stop with a published book. There’s more opportunity than ever before to spread the word about your book, so I wrote an extensive chapter on self-marketing to help writers move boldly into the realm of self-promotion. Above all, I hope to guide writers in developing a style that appeals to young readers. Finding one’s own voice and style is especially important to me.
Q. What else can you tell us about the book that makes it a must read?
A. I’m very honored to feature the insights of 13 National Book Award winners and finalists, Newbery medalists and honorees, and other award-winning luminaries in sidebars throughout the book. I think readers will be fascinated to see how each one wields writing techniques to create their amazing and distinct novels. I know I was!
Note: Contributors include: M.T. Anderson, Karen Cushman, Jennifer Donnelly, Jane Yolen, Gary Soto, Deborah Wiles, Kathi Appelt, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Mary E. Pearson, Jean Ferris, Darcy Pattison, agent Erin Murphy, and Senior Editor Kate Harrison of Dial Books for Young Readers.
Deborah is offering a free printable Cheat Sheet at www.dummies.com/cheatsheet/writingyoungadultfiction along with sending me two, TWO copies of the book to give away!! Just leave a comment below and when we reach 25, I'll do a drawing!
This isn't Deborah's only stop. Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies will be on tour all week. Here is the blog tour schedule:
1. July 18: Shrinking Violet Promotions
2. July 19: SCBWI blog
3. July 20: QueryTracker.net
4. July 21: Elizabeth O. Dulemba Blog
5. July 22: Cheryl Rainfield Blog
6. July 25: Story Connection
7. July 26: The Got Story Countdown
8. July 27: FREE “Writers & Artists” webinar w/ Katie Davis
Update! Click Here to see the winners (who have one week to get in touch with me or the books go to somebody else)!