Friday, March 29, 2013

2013 Edwards Award Winner

     Last week, I posted about several YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) awards for young adult literature. I did not, however, talk about the Margaret A. Edwards Award!
     YALSA describes the Edwards award as honoring "a significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens." This year's winner deserves an entire post to herself because her books are literally the reasons I began devouring books at age 10. Who is this wonderful author?


Tamora Pierce!
For her Song of the Lioness and Protector of the Small quartets! The following information is derived from the YALSA website:

"The four books in the Song of the Lioness series, Alanna: The First Adventure; In the Hand of the Goddess; The Woman Who Rides Like a Man; and Lioness Rampant, focus on Alanna’s journey to accept herself both as a woman and a warrior."
Also set in Tortall, two decades later, is the Protector of the Small quartet, First Test; Page; Squire; and Lady Knight. Keladry of Mindelan goes through struggles, from her First Test, then becoming a Page, a Squire and eventually a Lady Knight. While set in a fantasy world, Pierce’s heroines face realistic challenges that resonate with teen readers.

This information is from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) website. Check it out for booklists, awards and more at

Friday, March 22, 2013

Award Winning Teen Fiction (Booklist)

Greetings, Scribblers and Book Bandits!
The Young Adult Lit theme for March (and most of April) is "Award Winning Teen Fiction." If you and your teen are looking for YA fiction with a literary flair, here is your cheat sheet. All these books are easily available from the Lakeport library. (If they aren't on the Lakeport library display or the shelves, you can order them from a nearby library. The shipping service is fast and free! Find the online catalogue here. If you would like to see the full lists of the books, click here.) I also included the Young Adult Library Services Association's descriptions for each award:
Printz Awards & Honors: are the best books written for teens each year.
·         Dodger by Terry Pratchett (2013) Also on ebook & audiobook!

·         Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (2012). Also on audiobook & ebook!

·         Tales of the Madman Underground : a historical romance 1973 by John Barnes (2012)
      ·         The Scorpio Races / Maggie Stiefvater (2012) Also on audiobook! (It's amazing, trust me.)

·         Why we broke up / novel by Daniel Handler, author of The Series of Unfortunate Events ; art by Maira Kalman (2012 )  Also on audiobook!

·         Ship breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (2011). Also on audiobook!

·         Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick (2011) Also on audiobook!

·         Please ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (2011) Also on audiobook!

·         Charles and Emma : the Darwins' leap of faith / Deborah Heiligman (2010) Also on audiobook!

·         The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M. T. Anderson (2009) Also on audiobook!

·         Your own, Sylvia : a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill (2008) YA NF 811 HEMPHILL

·         The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson (2007 & National Book Award for Young People’s Literature) Also on audiobook!
Alex Awards: yearly honors adult books with special appeal to teens.

·         Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (2013) Also on ebook!

·         Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin (2012)

·         The Magicians by Lev Grossman (2010)

·         The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (2012) Also on audiobook & ebook!

·         Ready player one by Ernest Cline (2012) Also on audiobook!

·         Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson (2012) Also on audiobook!
Odyssey Award: honors the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States. The award is co-administered with the Association for Library Service to Children

·         Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (2013)

·         Rotters by Daniel Kraus (2012)

·         The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (2012 ) (Yes, that's two, count 'em, TWO awards for The Scorpio Races!)

·         Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt (2012)

·         Alchemy and Meggy Swann (2011)

·         Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (2011 Honor)
     ·         Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan (2011 Honor)

 Morris Award: honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.

·         Flash burnout by L.K. Madigan (2010 Winner)

·         The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (2012 Finalist) Also on ebook!

·         Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (2012 Finalist) Also on ebook!
Sorry about the blur!

·         Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey (2011 Finalist)

·         Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride (2011 Finalist)
·         Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl Also on audiobook!

·         Graceling by Kirstin Cashore (2009 Finalist) Also on audiobook & ebook!

·         The Everafter by Amy Huntley (2010 Finalist) Also on audiobook!

This information is from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) website. Check it out for booklists, awards and more at

Friday, March 15, 2013

Faking It

Yes, it is...a faked unicorn skeleton!
     This post is for scribblers like me who must constantly beat back a gigantic hairy inferiority complex. When I began writing, I felt inadequate (and, in fact, still do). In the beginning, it is so so so hard to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard or brain-feed to word processor, or however you write, because it feels like everyone already knows this and I'm not saying it right anyhow so why bother? Perhaps you can relate? Humility is an important attribute in a writer, but this isn't humility. This is being scared witless that I have nothing to say to the world.
      As I slowly make my way through classes and textbooks and years of life, I realize more and more how very little I know. It's a backwards process: I think I understand something until I reach into it a bit farther and encounter a new plane of knowledge...then I realize I'd have to walk all the way across that plain as well, if I truly wanted to understand. Things are much more complicated than I thought. This is so entirely scary that I just feel like quitting...which obviously gets very little work done.
      So I just have to fake it. No, wait, don't leave! Let me explain. To convince myself I can write something worthwhile, I have to fake it, at first. Two extremes have developed among writers: 1) Write what you know, and 2) write whatever bubbles up from your soul, man. I think writers learn during the writing process--we don't know everything right at the start. We learn and teach ourselves by writing. In fact, writing a book teaches the writer even more than it teaches the readers. In Madeleine L'Engle's book A Ring of Endless Light, the grandfather comments, "A poet friend of mine told me that his poems know far more than he does, and if he listens to them, they teach him" (70).
     For a long time, I felt it was my duty to write only about what I understood very well so that my readers will understand perfectly, too. Now I know not to wait until I feel like I know everything (because I never will). In fact, even if I feel like I know nothing in the beginning, that's no excuse to shirk brainstorming and idea-gathering. It's actually the perfect motivation.  Writing itself changes and teaches us, so there is no point in "waiting until we know something."
     I'm not saying we shouldn't be researching or outlining for our work--that is a part of writing. What I'm saying is, don't be scared to dive in. And don't get bogged down in those things for a decade, either. Make sure you're writing things, small things, even. Poems carry little images and little truths. Essays develop truths. Flash fiction and short stories begin developing characters who learn and grow. You don't have to write a novel right off the bat. Writing small teaches as much as writing big.
     I know more than I did when I started writing. Viewing life through the thoughtful lens of a writer teaches me more than I learned with my previously-passive eyes. So even when I write something that I worry isn't very good, I remind myself that the only way to get good is to keep trying.
     And until I know, I fake it. That's the only way to push past the insecurity until I actually DO know. As John Truby says, we should "Write something that may change your life."

Works Cited
L'Engle, Madeleine. A Ring of Endless Light.

Truby, John. The Anatomy of Story: 22 steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller. New York, NY: Faber and Faber, Inc. 2007. Print.

Photo Attribution
By Wilfried Wittkowsky (own foto / eigenes Foto) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Writing Contest, Industry News & Book News

C'mon, join the contest!
Scribblers and Book Bandits!
     I know it's not Friday, yet, but for the sake of the writing contest, I decided to post early.
     The free Lascaux flash fiction contest is opening up once again, starting tomorrow. Enter a 250 word flash fiction piece for a chance to win a dollar a word and publication in the Lascaux Review. They award "medallions" for finalists, too. You can put a medallion on your website or blog if you win! I entered this contest last year and had a lot of fun. The community is great. They will post on your work (anyone can read it) even if you don't win. The entry period ends on March 20th, so we'll have to write quickly!
     The extremely popular author of Before I Fall and the Delirium series, Lauren Oliver, cofounded a company called Paper Lantern Lit which constructs plots and story structures for writers. The writers that work with this company "inhabit" the story structures which the company creates. Interesting idea, eh? This might benefit a character-driven writer.
     In other news (book news, to be specific), the amazing young adult historical novel The Book Thief is being made into a movie!!! This book won the 2007 Printz honor (very prestigious), and no surprise there: it is narrated by "death" and set in Nazi Germany. It is literary and popular, and I highly recommend it. Also, Geoffrey Rush will be in the movie. Yippee! It will have to be awesome. So excited! Thanks to Nathan Bransford for this news.

Enjoy, everyone!

Photo Attribution
By Seattle Municipal Archives from Seattle, WA (Pie-eating contest, 2003  Uploaded by Jmabel) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, March 1, 2013

How to Start a Story: The Premise Method


     There is more than one way to start a story. In fact, there is no "right way"--every author does it differently. Sometimes, an author even changes her methods around to keep it fresh. There are two things you can do to figure out your own method: 1) read how others do it, and 2) try each method for yourself. It's a lot of hard work to figure it all out on our own, but I guess that's why "the experts" say a writer needs to writer for 10,000 hours, 10 years or hack out a million bad words before they master the craft. And even then, a writer never stops learning!
     The good news is that there are lots of blog posts and craft books and author interviews that discuss writing methodology. With that in mind, I have a method to show you which I have recently fallen in love with. It may not be the right method for you, but until you try, you won't know, right? (You can always test it out on a short story before dragging it into NaNoWriMo with you this November :) I call it "The Premise Method."
     It makes sense to be sure the base of our story is very solid, because everything else we write will build on top of it. If we have to drastically change the base of the story...well, the story will drastically change.
     In his book The Anatomy of Structure, John Truby talks a lot about this. He starts with a thing called a "premise," which is also known as a "log line" or an "elevator pitch" (because it should be compact enough to enable a recitation during the course of an elevator ride with an editor or agent).

A premise is a one or two sentence version of your story: a sense of your main character, the first action she takes, and a general notion of the ending.

     The premise can be your story base. Here's an example of a premise of the book Holes by Louis Sachar: "A kid with legendary bad luck must survive a juvenile detention camp's secret agenda and unearth the truth about his family curse" (Kole 33). For more about writing a premise, you can either read The Anatomy of Structure's first chapter, Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole, or this great blog post byDonald Maass.
     To write your premise, explain in one line what your main character does when faced with your story's inciting incident. Also give a vague notion of the ending. That's about it! Try to make it interesting.
     Truby says it's important to form the right premise because every other decision we make will be based on this premise.
     Freeeeeeze! The right premise? Who has the right to tell me what premise is right for my story? Well, I do. And you do for your story. But how can we tell? By doing lots of brainstorming and exploring. Usually when I write anything, the first ideas aren't what I end up polishing and submitting. I've usually narrowed and focused the original flash of inspiration to something slightly or completely different. It's very rare that I write something that stays essentially the same.
     So. Brainstorming to find your perfect premise takes a long time--Truby recommends weeks. Literally, weeks of brainstorming. This was a very freeing idea, for me, because I've always felt like I needed to get writing, bash out that word count, etc. But brainstorming is important for writing a truly unique, organic story. It may even save a writer time by brainstorming up a premise before writing because she will discover plot problems to solve before they are solidified in a manuscript. If a writer just grabs her first idea and starts writing away with it, she may have to change everything about it later.
     If you are worried about taking so long to brainstorm a story, remember that you can also be working on another story in order to keep your skills razor sharp and stories out on submission. We writers multi-task!
     Premise is not that way everyone begins their story, but it seems to be a fairly common method. It helps focus an idea if we can get those main elements--character, plot arc, general idea of ending--into one or two lines. It gives you guidance as you write.
     If writers plan during the "premise" phase, they may be able to avoid some redo-business. Everything changes drastically when a writer explores her premise over the course of a few weeks. She can solve the problems in her premise with a  bit of brainstorming, and change it if need be. That sounds like a good deal to me.

Christy Dares You

To write a premise. Right now. You can write a brand-spankin' new one out of thin air, or you can write one to a favorite book, or to your own WIP novel. Go for it! To do is to learn.

Works Cited

Kole, Mary. Writing Irresistible Kidlit. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2012. Print.
Maass, Donald. “The Good Seed.” 4 April 2012. 2 Feb. 2013. Web.

Truby, John. The Anatomy of Story: 22 steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller. New York, NY: Faber and Faber, Inc. 2007. Print.
Photo Credit
By Amusafija (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons