Before Querying Your NaNoWriMo Book: Patrice Caldwell talks winning NaNoWriMo

Or: Making A List & Checking It Twice aka Tips for Not Querying & Instead Revising Your NaNoWriMo Novel

YOU. DID. IT.

You won NaNoWriMo! Maybe you’re so high off endorphins you can’t sleep. Maybe you haven’t showered for a week. But, you did it. And now your beautiful baby novel is ready to go out in the world, right?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

For one thing, depending on what you wrote 50k might not be as complete of a novel as you think it is. And more importantly, no matter how perfect you think it is right now, it’s not ready to be submitted to agents.

DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR NOVEL.

Okay, now that we’ve got that cleared up (and you’ve slept and showered (don’t forget to eat, too!), let’s move on to what you are going to do. Of course, this is just my opinion, but since you’re here reading this post, I’m going to assume you’re looking for one.

Let Patrice Caldwell help your revise on YA Interrobang.

Cress // Marissa Meyer

“She dreamed of deep soul connections and passionate kisses and daring escapades. She was certain that he simply had to meet her, just once, and he would feel the same way. It would be like those epic love affairs that exploded into existence and burned white hot for all eternity. The type of love that time and distance and even death couldn’t separate.”

The female authors aren’t hiding...

Why is this still a thing? I just saw yet another article trying to recommend a few female authors as though they’re some rare species. The suggestions turned out to be just as boring as every other list: Rowling, Austen, Rowling, Bronte, Rowling.

I don’t know why people keep struggling to come up with 5 amazing female authors (or even making these lists. Like whyyy). So let me now walk over to my bookshelf and rattle off some names of my favorite modern female authors… (also, enjoy my attempt to break my endless “YA fantasy” books into groups). 

If you’re searching for that super elusive book written by a woman, try:

Dystopian

  • Veronica Roth
  • Lauren Oliver
  • Kristin Cashore
  • Veronica Rossi
  • Beth Revis
  • Marie Lu
  • Tahereh Mafi
  • Suzanne Collins
  • Susan Ee
  • Suzanne Young
  • Jennifer Wilson
  • Amy Engel

Fantasy

  • Samantha Shannon
  • Evelyn Skye
  • A.C. Gaughen
  • Jessica Khoury
  • Alwyn Hamilton
  • Marissa Meyer
  • Heidi Heilig
  • Libba Bray
  • Leslye Walton
  • Janet Lee Carey
  • Jennifer McGowan
  • Diana Peterfreund
  • JK Rowling
  • Janet B. Taylor
  • Laini Taylor
  • Robin LaFevers
  • Erin Morgenstern
  • Kendare Blake
  • Amie Kaufman
  • Kerstin Gier
  • Kiersten White
  • Melanie Dickerson
  • Melissa Landers
  • KM Shea
  • Alison Goodman
  • Elizabeth May
  • Kiera Cass
  • Renee Ahdieh
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Alexandra Bracken
  • Romina Russell
  • Deborah Harkness
  • Diana Gabaldon
  • Madeline Miller
  • Julie Eshbaugh

High Fantasy

  • Sarah J Maas
  • Maria V. Snyder
  • Mary E. Pearson
  • Sara B. Larson
  • Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Shannon Hale
  • Stephanie Garber
  • Diana Wynne Jones
  • Stacey Jay
  • Erin Summerill
  • Leigh Barudgo
  • Hannah West
  • Sabaa Tahir
  • Victoria Aveyard
  • Rosamund Hodge
  • Melina Marchetta
  • Rae Carson
  • Naomi Novik
  • Susan Dennard
  • Wendy Higgins
  • V.E. Schwab
  • Gail Carson Levine
  • CJ Redwine
  • Katherine Roberts
  • Sara Raasch
  • Erika Johansen
  • Rachel Hartman
  • Juliet Marillier
  • Livia Blackburne
  • Sophie Jordan
  • Tamora Pierce
  • Sandra Waugh
  • Marie Rutkoski
  • Elise Kova
  • Angie Sage
  • Amy Tintera
  • Sarah Fine
  • Jodi Meadows
  • Cinda Williams Chima
  • Morgan Rhodes
  • Sherry Thomas
  • Danielle L. Jensen
  • Colleen Oakes
  • Melissa Grey
  • Sarah Ahiers
  • Lori M. Lee
  • Roshani Chokshi

Modern Fantasy

  • Cassandra Clare
  • Rachel Hawkins
  • Stephanie Meyer
  • Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Kami Garcia
  • Claudia Gray
  • Julie Kagawa
  • Maggie Stiefvater
  • Kaitlin Bevis
  • Aimee Carter
  • Holly Black
  • Cynthia Hand
  • Richelle Mead
  • Temple West
  • Alex Flinn
  • Kresley Cole
  • Josephine Angelini
  • Lisa Maxwell
  • Zoraida Cordova

Contemporary

  • Rainbow Rowell
  • Jenny Han
  • Morgan Matson
  • Sarah Dessen
  • Kasie West
  • Jennifer Longo
  • Anna Breslaw
  • Sonya Mukherjee
  • Huntley Fitzpatrick
  • Melissa Keil
  • Brodi Ashton
  • Jennifer Niven
  • Katherine Catmull
  • Miranda Kenneally
  • Eileen Cook
  • Sandy Hall
  • Jenn Marie Thorne
  • Sarah Strohmeyer
  • Stephanie Perkins
  • Danika Stone
  • Elizabeth Eulberg
  • Jandy Nelson
  • Carolyn Mackler
  • Ali Novak
  • Ann Brashares
  • Tamara Ireland Stone
  • Gwenda Bond
  • Stacey Lee
  • Nina LaCour

(Sorry to Leigh Bird Dog and anyone else whose name autocorrect couldn’t deal with if I didn’t catch it).

These are just the books I happened to glance at, so feel free to add! And then maybe this can stop being a thing…

Artistic Endeavors: Jill MacKenzie talks writing and art

When we hear a person say, “I’m an artist,” we tend to think he’s a painter, a singer, a dancer, or a writer.  A purveyor of one specific left-brain talent, rather than a surveyor of many artistic endeavors.

In my YA novel, Spin the Sky, Magnolia is a contemporary dancer. She talks about wanting to transcend. She talks about wanting to win the show. In real life, there’s always been this bit of division between dancing as an art and dancing for competition. People used to think that you couldn’t have both, and if you wanted both than you probably didn’t want either — at least not bad enough. While I do think things have (thankfully) changed some in recent years, I’m not sure that everyone considers this drive to create art and this drive to create a new kind of life with art as the vehicle equal. So which is the real art? Art for art’s sake or art for the sake of transcendence?

Dancing — no matter the motivation — is a form of expression. And isn’t that what art is? For me, it’s a way to tell stories, release emotions, inhale reaction from those emotions. I felt all of this very strongly while writing Magnolia and her story, told half through her narration and half through her dance. And the reason I wanted to incorporate other arts into my writing is that music and dance have informed my writing as much as learning the craft of writing has. As for Magnolia, we don’t see her expressing herself in any other kind of traditional art other than dance. But if we examine Magnolia’s other passion — clam digging — we’ll see that though it’s not an art in the traditional sense, the way Magnolia and Rose approached clam digging with precision, dedication, and passion, it’s like it is an art, is a form of expression, as much as dance, music, writing is, too.

I spent most of my childhood dancing. Maybe not as seriously as Magnolia, but it was a huge part of whom I was back then. Simultaneous to all my years of dance, I was always writing stories. Short stories, long stories, stories told in pictures and stories that never were written down because they were meant to be spoken aloud. Some of my stories were in the form of dance. And some of them simply illustrated the music I was dancing to, giving visual to someone else’s lyrics. For me, it was all art.

Read more on YA Interrobang.

The existence of bisexual people doesn’t require a damn content warning

So this afternoon a teen librarian friend alerted me this tweet from the exceptional Angie Manfredi of Fat Girl Reading:

The print is super duper tiny, so let me blow it up.  This is a review of the book Run by Kody Kepplinger from the prominent library review magazine VOYA* aka Voices of Youth Advocates :

Agnes is legally blind, and leads such a sheltered life that she cannot even take the bus home from school or attend parties. Bo Dickinson has a drug addicted mother, an absent father, and is rumored to be the town slut. Although opposites, they become good friends through their kindness and acceptance of each other. Bo’s cousin Colt is almost a brother to her; they have grown up together and are part of the family “you steer clear of because nothing good can come of getting mixed up with that bunch.” Agnes has a different problem; her parents hover over her and limit her activities so it is impossible for her to be a normal teenager, until she begins sneaking out to go places with Bo. When Bo hatches a plan to leave town to find her father, Agnes decides to go along, thinking she and Bo will live together. They steal a car from Agnes’s family and begin their road trip, along the way visiting Colt, with whom Agnes has a sexual encounter. When Agnes discovers that Bo intends to live with her father, they separate and she gets in touch with her parents, leaving Bo to a disappointing meeting with her father, and an eventual return to the foster care system. The story contains many references to Bo being bisexual and an abundance of bad language, so it is recommended for mature junior and senior high readers.–Rachel Axelrod. 304p. VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES, c2016.

I helpfully put in bold the part that gave me rage hives :D

Originally posted by aivosoluttautuja

This reviewer (Rachel Axelrod) and VOYA are saying the very existence of bisexual people is on par with swearing.  That the very existence of bisexuality can only be shown to junior and senior high schoolers. 

And this is where I need to disagree with Angie a little here because that isn’t a microagression.  That is full-on biphobia folks.  

And its a particular kind of biphobia that tags bisexual girls and women in a particularly pernicious way.  Mature is a coded word here.  Its hypersexualization – where being bisexual and being out and using the word ‘bisexual’ for bi women is considered on par with sex acts. And like I said on twitter this afternoon, you can draw a straight fucking line from this review to bisexual women being constantly sexually harassed and facing astronomically high rates of sexual violence and domestic abuse.  Bisexual women and girls are not seen as peoples, we are seen as machines that dispense sex.  I would expect a publication like VOYA to challenge that narrative, not reinforce it.  

Also, does VOYA think that bisexual teens under grade 11 just don’t exist?  Because TRUST ME they do.   And they deserve to read books that reflect their inner worlds just as much as straight teens.  I have NEVER seen a book review of any type claim that only juniors and seniors can know about the existence of straight people.   How many people at VOYA put their eyes on this review and NO ONE noticed that?

I spend a fair amount of my time on this blog complaining, critiquing, and analyzing books that refuse to use the word bisexual to describe their characters.  And while I haven’t read Run (though I put it on hold at my library today), all accounts are that the bisexual character Bo actually uses the word bisexual several times.  But instead of celebrating that as an important YA development, VOYA seems to think it needs a goddamn content warning.  

Originally posted by etudiant-en-ph2

Oh but just wait.  

It gets better.  

It gets so much better.  

You might be thinking that perhaps this book just had a lot of steamy bisexual sex scenes and this is just a case of poor wording.

NOPE

In this reviewers mind, the actual HAVING of heterosexual sex doesn’t make this book in appropriate for younger readers, but the very EXISTENCE of a bisexual character would.  You don’t need to warn against actual sex but you choose to slap a ‘here be monsters’ on the map if there are bisexuals?

There is nothing to that but base and blatant biphobia.  

Librarians and booksellers use magazines like VOYA because they can’t read every book.  Now we have VOYA telling entire swaths of professionals that this book (and by extension bisexual people) are somehow inherently inappropriate.  VOYA has a reputation among librarians as being progressive, less enmeshed with book publishers, and more focused on intellectual freedom than other review sources (PW, Kirkus, LJ, SLJ).  Their name is actually Voices of Youth Advocates.  We trust their reviews to advocate for youth.  

Well I’m sorry VOYA but you need to explain to me how promoting this kind of biphobia makes you a ‘youth advocate’.  Or how it helps you uphold the mission statement of your publication – which reads: “Young adults have rights to free and equal access to information in print, nonprint, and electronic resources, without infringement of their intellectual freedom due to age or other restrictions.”   How exactly does advocating an age restriction on a book solely because of the sexual orientation of a protagonist advance that right to free and equal access to information?

This also frustrates me to no end because we’ve all heard that mantra about how ‘diverse books don’t sell’.  WELL NO SHIT THEY DON’T SELL WHEN YOU REVIEW THEM LIKE THIS!  This is a textbook lesson in how to use base-level bigotry to bomb book sales.  I swear to god, the next person who tells me that books with bisexual characters who actually use the word bisexual ‘just don’t sell’ is gonna get nothing but a giant squid of anger.    

Right now, I’m calling on VOYA magazine and it’s Editor RoseMary Honnold to apologize to author Kody Keplinger and to the entire bisexual community.  This review is offensive and it needs to be retracted.  I’d also say that Rachel Axelrod needs some LGBTQ cultural competency training (with a particular emphasis on the B in there).  

This is #BiWeek, the week where bisexual community celebrates our history, culture, and art.  It would be a great time for VOYA to remove their foot from their mouth and apologize for this biphobic trainwreck.  

- Sarah 

*I know you’re really not supposed to post content such as entire reviews up on the internet from trade publications but if VOYA doesn’t like it, then fuck it, they can C&D us.

Originally posted by sammiisnotonfire

YA Fairy Tale Retellings

I’ve had several people ask for some YA retelling book recommendations, so here are a few of each! I marked my favorites with an asterisk:

Cinderella

Snow White

Beauty & the Beast

Sleeping Beauty

Rapunzel

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Peter Pan

Aladdin/1,001 Nights

Red Riding Hood

Hansel & Gretel: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

The Little Mermaid: Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

The Frog Prince: 

Rumpelstiltskin: A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

The Snow Queen

Sunday Shelfie! // Here is my bookshelf that holds the majority of my YA books. 

I’m thinking about getting some Ikea Billy bookshelves to replace this one (even though I really do like it) because a lot of these cubbies are double stacked. Do any of you have the Ikea Billy bookshelves? What do you think of them if you do? 

a few reasons to read the lunar chronicles

• out of the 9 main characters, 5 are non-white
• 5 characters are also women
• these women have distinct and different personalities/goals/interests/body types
• these women don’t immediately hate each other upon meeting, they aren’t jealous of other women just because they’re other women (they don’t instantly love each other either - character/relationship development 4 life)
• the cutest ships in the entire world you won’t be able to not fall in love
• BUT a huge emphasis on friendship
• AND male/female friendships as well as female/female and male/male friendships
• all the characters are based off of fairytale characters
• but it is in the FUTURE with ROBOTS and SPACE and cool TECHNOLOGY
• did I mention a cast of diverse characters? there’s a cast of diverse characters
• JUST READ THEM

3.6.16 A Court of Mist and Fury might well be my newest favourite ya book ever. Possibly even out of all the books I’ve ever read. Can you tell I’m Sarah J Maas Trash yet? Ask me anything you want about what I’m currently reading! xxx emily

“Women built this castle”: An in-depth look at sexism in YA.

On November 24, Publisher’s Weekly posted an article on Scott Bergstrom and The Cruelty. The article highlighted the monetary success of Bergstrom – who landed a six-figure deal with Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends imprint after selling in 16 foreign territories; the movie rights to The Cruelty also sold to Paramount, with Jerry Bruckheimer attached to the film – and subtlety nudged at the idea that Bergstrom and The Cruelty would be the next big thing.

Initially self-published in 2014, The Cruelty follows Gwendolyn Bloom, who sets off to rescue her kidnapped diplomat father. With the U.S. refusing to help, she follows the name of a Palestinian informer living in France and discovers that, to save her father, she must become as cruel as the men who took him.

But the article in Publisher’s Weekly highlighted not the descent of teenage girl into a creature as cruel as her enemies, but the transformation of a “slightly overweight 17-year-old” into, in a quote from Bergstrom, a “lean warrior with hair dyed fire-engine red.”

The choice to self-publish wasn’t described by Bergstrom – who writes not under Scott, but under S. Bergstrom, claiming to face the “precisely the same” problems that J.K. Rowling and S.E. Hinton did when they chose to use initials – as an excuse for creative control, but a way to avoid being confined by the “walled garden” of YA publishing. While YA publishes books that look at the moral complexities of killing and murders (The Hunger Games, Violent Ends, This Is Where It Ends), of the choices teenage girls face in their day-to-day lives (a topic Nova Ren Suma and Courtney Summers cover in all of their works), Bergstrom felt that his heroine was “more complicated than a lot of YA,” dismissing the category he was writing in – and the teenagers he was writing for – as doing no more than trying to escape places “set up by outside adult forces” in a story that acted as “a metaphor for high school.”

But the opening chapter, available to read online for free, showcases that Bergstrom fell into his own trap. It begins with his protagonist Gwendolyn in her high school, that “walled garden” “set up by outside adult forces” he dismissed in other stories – a high school Gwendolyn eventually abandons to go rescue her father.

All, of course, while becoming a “lean warrior” stereotype of modern beauty ideals while rescuing her father – not that she didn’t get attention from men at the beginning of the book, and not that she wasn’t initially pretty, if “poor as a church mouse.”

“I’m … a little chubby,” thinks Gwendolyn in the opening chapter, adding “My dad and my doctor say I’m not really that overweight – that it’s mostly muscle from my years of gymnastics – and that everyone’s built differently, so don’t accept anyone else’s definition of beauty. But then again, it’s their job to say that.”

Bergstrom also writes, in his opening chapter, that “guys out on the sidewalk in front of the shops whistle after [his protagonist]. They love this – the school uniform, the flash of seventeen-year-old legs.”

His protagonist sees nothing wrong with this, makes no further comment about how it bothers her or how it’s wrong to catcall after women. Instead, the protagonist sees the behavior as almost romantic, the unwanted attention of men’s eyes on her as something to be desired. It is, as Tristina Wright described, a subtle form of grooming behavior. It is something that a man would want a woman – want a seventeen-year-old-girl – to think of his behavior.

In the same opening chapter, Bergstrom’s character attempts to read a “novel with a teenage heroine set in a dystopian future” on the Subway. “Which novel in particular,” wrote Bergstrom, in an uncanny reflection of his own quote to Publisher’s Weekly, “doesn’t matter because they’re all the same. Poor teenage heroine, having to go to war when all you really want is to write in your diary about how you’re in love with two different guys and can’t decide between them. These novels are cheesy, I know, and I suck them down as easily as milk.”

Subtle jabs at books like Red Queen and The Hunger Games and Divergent – dystopian fiction that features teenage girls who deal with the emotional realities of relationships and the emotional realities of war simultaneously, things that resonate with teenage girls in high school – weren’t saved for Bergstrom or for the Publisher’s Weekly article.

“Kicking butt to save your dad is actually a lot easier for me to swallow than kids killing kids in The Hunger Games,” said Bergstrom’s agent Tracey Adams to Publisher’s Weekly – missing, of course, that The Hunger Games doesn’t kill for sport or gratuity, but to highlight the actual atrocities of kids killing kids and the powerful bond between Katniss Everdeen and her sister Primrose.

And Bergstrom has made jabs at genre fiction before; in an interview with The Pen and Muse, he wrote that “what troubles [him]about so much of today’s fiction aimed at young adults is that it is set in an imaginary time and place… you’ll see that dystopian future is really the dystopian present,” as if unwilling to acknowledge that fictionalizing ongoing problems can give readers another way to digest the issues at hand.

“This is a very welcoming community, as I’ve learned firsthand during the last year, and Mr. Bergstrom basically walked in the door and sneered at us,” wrote Red Queen author Victoria Aveyard in a blog post.

In his interview at The Pen and Muse, Bergstrom also discussed the appearance of his protagonist and the appearance of women in media. “As the father of two daughters, I became pretty appalled at the image of women they received from the culture,” Bergstrom told The Pen and Muse. “It was all princess-this, Barbie-that. It was almost a satire of femininity. … What century were we living in if the feminine ideal little girls learned about was still a woman in a pink dress and a nineteen inch waist?”

As if there is something inherently wrong with pink dresses.

As if there is something wrong with Barbie, who has had careers in every field and inspires young girls around the world.

As if Bergstrom’s protagonist did not transform from a “slightly chubby” girl to a “lean warrior,” reinforcing that a feminine ideal – even for a warrior – was a skinny, toned girl, with maybe a slightly wider waistline than Barbie’s nineteen-inches.

The Cruelty features a chubby girl who becomes a “lean warrior,” who has no problem with men catcalling her, and who dismisses the category of fiction meant for teens; whose author is blissfully oblivious to YA as a whole, who dismisses it as lacking moral complications and who sneers at genre fiction, and who sees no problem in slimming down his leading lady while making derisive comments about Barbie.

This is what Feiwel and Friends paid six figures for; this is what Paramount wants to make a movie out of.

This is “the next big thing” in YA.

If you don’t see a problem with that, you won’t like the rest of this article.

Let’s look at the history of YA + discuss what we can do to combat sexism in YA now.