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.

Thanks Deborah!!

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)!


Scotti Cohn said…
I can't believe I'm the first! Great interview! I would love to win this book.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sew Grammo said…
Great interview! I'm happy to be one of the first 25 posters.
Avery Michaels said…
In today's economy and the changes in publishing, it's hard to not worry. Thanks for the information that YA is still going strong. I don't think I would want to write anything else anyway, LOL!

Great post!

It's hard to believe this is the first 'Dummies' book like this.
It is always great to have as much help and as many guidelines as possible, especially from differing sourses. One obtains a more well-rounded viewpoint that way.
Thanks for the post.
Sally said…
Thanks so much for posting the interview. I was able to attend an all day intensive partly taught by Deborah - loved it, learned a lot. This book is one every YA should have on their shelf.
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Excellent interview, Elizabeth. Looks like a book with lots of useful info for writers.
Wow. I'm actually in the the first 25?

Anyway, this is a great interview. Myself, I find my YA collection growing faster than any of my other genres.
Sounds like a great book! I'd love to read about the processes of those YA authors mentioned.
I'm so very glad this is proving helpful! Thanks, Elizabeth, for letting me hang out on your blog!

Deborah Halverson
marcie_ann said…
Great interview! I'm wondering if anybody knows of agents looking for YA memoir?
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the great questions and answers.
Rain Laaman said…
This looks like an awesome book! Thanks for the interview. And I'm glad there are still spots left! =)
jpetroroy said…
This book looks fabulous. I'd love to win!

jpetroroy at gmail dot com
Thank you for taking your own time and (blog) space to highlight another author.

Your interview with Deborah sheds enough light on her content to bring me a glimmer of hope that my pre-published manuscript may yet find a home. I would sincerely like to win this book and may purchase it if I don't win.

danielle said…
Thanks so much for the interview. I think it is great to hear the YA literature is such a great market.
I am so glad to see a Dummies book for writing YA! There are other Dummies books for various other genres, so it is wonderful to finally have this one. At least, I hope I will... :)
fred said…
Great interview. This book has a huge audience waiting for it. And that includes me! Great for readers too and getting a measure of the range of books out there to read.As an adult reader - I find it hailarious that the most fun I've had reading lately is Millicent Min Girl Genius & of course, Harry P!
*Alison* said…
Oh my heavens.. how exciting.. :) I love everything you do Elizabeth.. I love supporting you and your blog.. I have looked for your books in my area but haven't found any yet.. I should just order them online.. maybe that's what I will do for Christmas.. :) Thanks so much for the chance to win.. HUGS
this was a great interview, i plan on sharing it with my daughter who has dreams of becoming a writer. she will enjoy seeing this interview. thanks for the chance to win the book, if i am so lucky to win i will give it to my daughter. thanks for your blog. dqheart
GoalieMom said…
Very interesting interview and fun to read. Thanks!
MaRyKaY said…
thanks for all the images I get from your site. Thanks for the chance to win this great book that would definately help me. good luck to everyone
Tanya Anderson said…
Sounds like a "must have" for my shelves!
Shevi said…
I saw this book offered in my Amazon Vine newsletter. It looks great, and I hope it garners many rave reviews.
Adrienne Foley said…
COmment! Comment! I'm leaving my comment!!!
Maria G said…
This book sounds interesting in sense of "Dummy" book". Great concept.
April said…
Sounds like a great book! My hubby should read it..he has tons of stories in his head.
Lara Beth said…
Great post!
Dan Lyke said…
Oh, all right. I definitely can't take on yet another project right now, so writing YA fiction is right out, but I can't see letting all these other folks down for lack of a comment!

(And, yes, I quite enjoyed the interview too!)
DING! DING! DING!!! Yay! We have enough comments for me to do the drawing. Working on it now... :)

By the way - I'll have another drawing tomorrow - so y'all come back, y'hear?
Rhonda Miller said…
What a great interview. Thanks for sharing.
That book looks like a good one to have in a writerly arsenal.
Peggy Shaw said…
This is one of the books you wish you had thought of writing. Can't wait to read.
Peggy Shaw said…
Can't wait to read this book. Looks like valuable resource.
Kimberly said…
Looks like a great tool to get started...thanks for sharing..
kimbob27 at hotmail dot com
Marcia Berbeza said…
I worship authors because I don't think that I have the talent to create complete worlds to enthrall other mortals. Hopefully, you'll be able to do the drawing now! ;-)
The winners are announced at http://dulemba.blogspot.com/2011/07/ding-ding-ding-we-ended-up-with-more.html and have one week to get in touch or the books go to somebody else!

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