Pub Rants

Tagged young adult

Sneak Peek: The Demon’s Lexicon

STATUS: I just walked over to my early voting location to hand deliver my ballot and drop it into a secure ballot box. Now all we can do is wait until Tuesday.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? IN THE DARK by Billy Squier

Okay, I’ve been dying to show this cover to the world and guess what? You blog readers get to see it first.

Mark your calendars! THE DEMON’S LEXICON releases on June 2, 2009 and S&S has already announced a 100,000 initial print run (and since they “announced” it, I can share this info with you!).

From RITA Nomination To Hollywood

STATUS: You know you are having a busy day when your stomach starts telling you that you need to eat lunch. You swear you’ll get to it after just one more thing and the next time you look up, it’s 3 in the afternoon.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BEVERLY HILLS by Weezer

I don’t often cross reference to another blog post of mine but this story I shared on Romancing the Blog last Friday is too good not to repeat here.

The post obviously hits the target reading audience for that Blog but it’s a good lesson to put here as well. If an award is prestigious or important enough, it’s worth the time and money to enter. You might just win or it might open another door you hadn’t even thought of. Just ask my author Kelly Parra.

From my Oct. 17, 2008 post—and here’s the link.

Have you been thinking about entering your novel into the RITA awards? Have you been waffling because you’re crunched for time? Let me remind you that the deadline is fast approaching (Dec. 1!) and regardless of how little spare time you have, this is a contest you don’t want to miss.

Why? Because I can tell you first-hand the power of a RITA nomination. It can land you in Hollywood.

I just closed a major motion picture option deal for my author Kelly Parra because of the double RITA-nomination for her young adult novel GRAFFITI GIRL. Yep, you heard that right. My author didn’t even win this year’s 2008 RITA but she’s winning in a whole different way (although she was very sad not to take home that beautiful statue).

This past July, several movie producers decided to check out Romance Writers Of America’s National Conference. Obviously, they gave special attention to any work nominated for the prestigious RITA award. Several weeks later, this producer got in touch with us. One call to my film co-agent and a week later, we had spanking new film option. This in turn is generating new excitement by foreign publishers in Frankfurt (as I write this).

All a year-plus after initial publication of the novel. And to top off the good news, Kelly’s new novel INVISIBLE TOUCH is releasing this month and this film interest is igniting excitement for her second novel. In fact, you should check out her cyber launch on The Secret Fates Blog.

So let me ask this question again. Have you been thinking about entering your novel into the RITAs?

Why are you waiting? Hop to it.

YA Is All About Asking The Right Qs

STATUS: It’s time for sleep I think.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LOVE SONG by Sara Bareilles

I didn’t start this blog week with the thought it was going to be an all Ally Carter litfest but it’s really turning out to be.

Maybe because I’ve got Ally on the brain. You see, I just finished reading the final copy-edited version of book 3 in the Gallagher Girl Series. Yes, it has a title but I don’t think that has been revealed as of yet so I’m not going to share.

This might sound odd but when an agent has a hugely successful author, one of our greatest fears is whether the author can live up to her previous books. For my part, there will always be a special place in my heart for LYKY because, of course, that book was the first. Kind of hard to top–especially when I think of the scene where Macey comes to the rescue in a golf cart. Truly, one of my favorite YA scenes of all time.

But then for book 2, there was the whole Josh versus Zach and it’s hard to top the dance scene.

And then there’s book 3 in the series. All I can say is that hands down, this is Ally’s best book. And I’m not just saying that because I’m the agent. It really is her best work. And just to be a tease, you might want to go out and rent Cary Grant’s North By Northwest. I’ll say no more.

But my blogs don’t tend to be pointless so why am I waxing poetic about Ally tonight? Because I was just over at her blog reading about the wrong questions aspiring young adult writers were asking at a recent conference Ally attended and I couldn’t help but think about my own YA workshop at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers this past weekend. I, too, thought the attendees had good questions but ultimately they were asking the wrong questions. They were focused on the minutiae. How long should a YA novel be? What is and what is not allowed in novels for this audience? How do I write a novel that will be a bestseller? (And the truth is there is no way to answer that question—as I’ve discussed this week).

For me, aspiring writers often want the magic bullet point list—as in if they do XYZ, that will guarantee success.

I’m here to tell you that there is no magic list. Sorry to disappoint. But there are the right questions to ask. So go and find out what they are and what the difference really is between writing for adults versus young adults.

Nip That Rumor In The Bud

STATUS: I’m totally laughing.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? A WHITER SHADE OF PALE by Annie Lennox

Sometimes I just can’t help but want to know how a rumor gets started. I’m particularly delighted with the one that I had passed on Stephenie Meyer’s TWILIGHT (titled as something else? FORKS?) when it was in query form or on submission.

Folks, TWILIGHT was sold by an agent friend of mine back in December of 2003—long before I started representing anything in the children or young adult world as that didn’t happen until early of 2005.

There wouldn’t have been any reason for Ms. Meyer to send me a query (and we certainly didn’t see sample pages) of this project as I didn’t represent young adult at the time.

That would also have been pretty darn early in my career (as I opened my own agency doors in August 2002). I had just sold my first project as my own agent in February of 2003, so I can’t imagine I was on too many radars back in those early days.

(Which I remember so fondly as we only received 10 to 15 email queries a day rather than the 80 to 100 we get now…).

I’m absolutely tickled by this rumor, and only Ms. Meyer could say for sure whether my agency was on her agent list or not, but sorry, from the knowledge I have, it’s not true.

The Email That Started It All

STATUS: Blogging late. No particular reason other than it has been a rather busy day.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THICK A** STOUT by Skankin’ Pickle

It never gets old. When Wednesday comes and the NYT bestseller list for the next week is released and Ally Carter is still on it, holy cow. You’d think the thrill would die down but it really doesn’t.


And this is what gets me. Three years ago, I didn’t even represent young adult or anything in the children’s world. In a sense, Ally has my author Jennifer O’Connell to thank for starting me down the children’s world road (which I absolutely love, is totally a natural fit, and I can’t imagine why I didn’t rep it to begin with).

Jennifer was the person who started it all when she wanted to write for the YA market and asked me if I could sell it. Of course I said sure (even though I didn’t know any children’s editors at the time), and got on the phone immediately with a good agent friend who only reps children’s books to get the scoop. Then I went to New York to meet the people I needed to for Jennifer’s submission. And that’s how my repping YA began.

Her first young adult, PLAN B, sold at auction in less than a week. Thrilled, all I could think of was that I love YA and where could I get more to sell.

That inspired an email to all my current clients asking if any of them had ever thought of writing for the young adult market.

Ally immediately emailed me back with a list of ideas—which I promptly shot down (Ally tells a more colorful story on her website if you want to check it out). But it inspired her to come up with 3 more ideas and I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILLYOU was the second on the list. It hit me immediately that that was the novel she had to write so I called her to tell her so.

She did. And here we are on the NYT bestseller list for 14 weeks running.

So thank you Jennifer! I think it’s her turn to hit the list so mark your calendars for June as LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS hit the shelves and these two books seriously rock. It’s her best stuff yet (and I want that girl’s abs…).

YA Top 25

STATUS: I just love when everything I submit sells. Makes me feel like I can do no wrong.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LOVE SONG by The Cure

Remember when I did the top 10 things I don’t want to see in the opening chapters of a fantasy novel? Haven’t done a blog like that in a while and now I don’t have to! Writer Joelle Anthony just sent me her list of the 25 things that repeatedly show up in young adult novels that she did for the SCBWI bulletin (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators).

It’s a hoot and totally spot on so I asked her if I could share. Here it is. We are dying to know if blog readers have any contributions to the list so feel free to add.

And because it’s only fair, here’s the link to Joelle’s site so you can see the article in its entirety.

A countdown of 25 things that show up repeatedly in young adult fiction:

#25 – Vegetarian teens with unsympathetic meat-eating parents

#24 – Shy or withdrawn characters that take refuge in the school’s art room/ compassionate art teachers

#23 – A token black friend among a group of white friends – usually it’s a girl, and she’s always gorgeous

#22 – A tiny scar through the eyebrow, sometimes accompanied by an embarrassing story

# 21 – Using the word ‘rents for parents, but not using any other slang

# 20 – A beautiful best friend who gets all the guys but doesn’t want them

#19 – The wicked stepmother who turns out to be simply misunderstood and it’s all cleared up in the climax

#18 – Authors showing their age by naming characters names they grew up with (i.e. Debbie, Lisa, Kimberly, Alice, Linda, etc.)

#17 – Parents who are professional writers or book illustrators

#16 – Using coffee, cappuccino, and café latte to describe black people’s skin

#15 – Main characters named Hannah and making a note of it being a palindrome

#14 – Younger siblings who are geniuses, adored by everyone, and usually run away during the book’s climax, causing dramatic tension

#13 – The mean-spirited cheerleader (and her gang) as the story’s antagonist

# 12 – A dead mother

# 11 – Heroines who can’t carry a tune, even if it were in a bucket

# 10 – Guys with extraordinarily long eyelashes

# 9 – The popular boy dating the dorky heroine to make his former girlfriend jealous, and then breaking the heroine’s heart

# 8 – The diary, either as the entire format, or the occasional entry

# 7 – Fingernail biting

# 6 – Characters who chew on their lip or tongue in times of stress – usually until they taste blood

# 5 – Raising one eyebrow

# 4 – Main characters who want to be writers

# 3 – Calling parents by their first names

# 2 – Best friends with red hair*

And the number one thing found in YA novels…
#1 – Lists

*While lists rule in teen fiction, red-haired best friends are amazingly predominant in both MG and YA, and certainly gave “lists” a run for its money. It might be an easy way to quickly identify a secondary character, but it’s a lot more common in books than red hair actually is!

© Joëlle Anthony, 2007
Originally published in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Bulletin, July/Aug. 2007

Generic YA First POV

STATUS: Today was a non-day for work. My tech person came to boot up the new network so I pretty much had no access to the computer for most of the day. In good news, I did stand in line for an hour to early vote (and good news for the voting part—not the standing in line part). Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HEY JEALOUSY by Gin Blossoms

I’ve been noticing something in the Teen Chick Lit submissions I’ve been receiving so I’m finally going to talk about it. It’s tough though because taste can be so subjective and what one agent dislikes, another agent loves.

Same with editors for that matter.

But I think there have been enough examples of late to merit a blog entry and this pretty much applies to what I call Teen Chick Lit, which, as many of you know, is mainly done in a young girl’s first person point-of-view.

Now don’t worry. I don’t think there is anything wrong with first pov; I like it just fine. What’s bothering me is what I’m calling a rash of generic first person narratives (despite good hooks or an original story line). The main narrator ends up sounding just like the main narrators of the 30 plus Teen Chick Lits I’ve read in the last 3 months. There’s no differentiating.

Now the tricky part. What’s generic for me? A couple of things.

1. A Valley-girlish type narrative voice

This is for lack of a better description. I don’t mean strict Valley Girl like, oh my gosh, from the 80s. I know YA writers are trying to capture that teen speak, slang, and quick dialogue so true to life. But what I’m seeing is this narrative voice and the absence of crucial things like character development. A narrator’s voice should be instrumental to showing character depth and complexity. Lately, it seems to be missing. Not to mention, not all teens speak that way. Surely we can have some variety. I have two teenage nieces and they don’t talk in this same rhythm that I seem to be seeing over and over in sample pages I’ve been reading.

2. A dialogue-heavy scenes

This in itself is not necessarily bad. Most YA novels tend to be pretty dialogue-oriented. It picks up the pace etc. I have a problem with it when scenes are dialogue-heavy to the exclusion of everything else, like setting the scene. I’m seeing this often.

3. Misconception that a good hook can carry average writing

Yes, a good hook in Teen chick lit goes a long way but I have to say that I’m an even harder judge when reading YA. I really want the writing to be top-notch, literary commercial, can hold up even on an adult level but has the right pace for YA.

It’s one of the reasons why I had not taken on a YA-only writer until just last week. I’m looking for something that can really hold its own in the market. It’s not generic in any way.

Whatever that means, right?