Posts Categorized: Resources for Writers

Figuring Out What Matters

Back when my husband and I were planning our wedding, we got some really good advice. Figure out what really matters to you, someone said. Decide on a few big priorities—a few things you care about and are comfortable investing money and/or time in. That way, you can also figure out which things you don’t… Read more »

Trusting My Own (Uncertain but Exciting) Writing Process

Since I started writing fiction in 2008, I’ve written six full-length novel manuscripts, two of which will be published, but I still couldn’t tell you how, exactly, I write a book. When I sit down in front of a blank document, ready to start a new project, I feel a mix of confident excitement (This… Read more »

Upper MG Books for Older Middle School Readers…and My New Book Deal!

Last Thursday, I wrote a guest post for a wonderful site called Project Mayhem about the importance of “gray area” novels: upper middle grade books that appeal to sixth to eighth graders and that people in the publishing world have sometimes been wary of, because they’re a bit too old for traditional middle grade but a bit… Read more »

When “Finish What You’re Working On” Isn’t the Best Advice

 “Finish what you’re working on.” If you want to be a writer, that’s one of the most common pieces of advice you’ll hear, and it makes a lot of sense. It’s fun to start a book, but it can be really hard to wade through the murky middle and make it to the other side…. Read more »

On Writing and the Struggle to Keep Control

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a long time now because even during the summer, when I have glorious stretches of writing time, there are only so many words I can crank out in a day, and I’ve been hoarding them all for the manuscripts I’m writing. Since I last posted, I finished and revised… Read more »

The Gray Area Between Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

Back in 2010, Mary Kole, who was then a literary agent, wrote a post called “Is it MG or YA?” on her excellent site kidlit.com.  I should note that the publishing market has changed between 2010 and 2014, so I can’t say whether this post would be the same if Kole had written it today…. Read more »

Character Likability

If you’ve ever read reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, you know that readers find characters unlikable ALL THE TIME. The fact that some readers find a character unlikable doesn’t mean that a writer has done anything wrong. Certain characters simply elicit strong positive and negative reactions. One of the most powerful things about reading is… Read more »

My Writing Process

Writing can feel like a solitary endeavor, so I’m always eager for opportunities to talk shop (whether virtually or in person) with other writers. That’s why I was excited when A.B. Westrick invited me to join the #MyWritingProcess blog tour! A.B. Westrick is the author of Brotherhood (Viking/Penguin 2013), an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young… Read more »

How “Hooky” Is Your Hook?

During my first semester of graduate school at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I was working on a novel about a very anxious girl beginning her freshman year at a very intense prep school. I really loved this anxious girl, and I really loved her science-obsessed best friend and her kind, stressed-out dad and the… Read more »

Engagingly Fallible Narrators Strategy 5: Secondary Characters

Today I’m back with the final post in this series about creating an engagingly fallible first-person narrator. We’ve gone over four strategies for helping readers to recognize a first-person narrator’s fallibility; writers can incorporate narrative distance, construct an audience and purpose for the narrative, make the most of syntax and diction, and have the narrator… Read more »

Engagingly Fallible Narrators Strategy 4: Omission

Happy last day of September! After a busy couple of weeks that included an author Skype visit for my seventh and eighth grade students with Katie Quirk, who wrote our summer reading book A Girl Called Problem; a two-part interview about my YA novel on L. Marie’s wonderful blog (here’s part 1 and part 2); and… Read more »

Engagingly Fallible Narrators Strategy 3: Taking Advantage of Syntax and Diction

Well, I’ve made it through the first full week of the school year, and I’m back to continue my series on strategies for creating an engagingly fallible first-person narrator. In the last two posts, I’ve covered two big-picture strategies for showing readers that a character’s perspective is not entirely reliable: writers can incorporate narrative distance… Read more »

Engagingly Fallible Narrators Strategy 2: Using Audience and Purpose

Welcome back to my series of posts about how to create an engagingly fallible first-person narrator! Last week I defined fallible narrators and offered one strategy for helping readers recognize an engaging narrator’s fallibility: incorporating narrative distance. Today I’ll move on to another effective technique: setting up an audience and purpose for a first-person narrator’s… Read more »

Engagingly Fallible Narrators Strategy 1: Narrative Distance

Last Monday, I shared some information about the rise of first-person novels for children and young adults and some thoughts on the challenges and benefits of writing in the first person. As promised, today and in my next few posts, I will be offering some ideas about how writers can create engagingly fallible first-person narrators…. Read more »

First-Person Narration

Last week, I recommended five books that I’d especially enjoyed reading this summer. Looking back on that post, it occurs to me that my five recommendations have something in common other than my admiration: they’re all written in the first person. I know that isn’t unusual, especially since most of those books are contemporary young… Read more »

Swearing and Drinking in YA Novels

When one of my wonderful writer friends recently read the revised version of my YA novel-in-progress, she had a lot of insightful things to say.  Most of her comments helped me problem-solve small places in the novel where something wasn’t quite working so that I can finish making the book as strong as it can… Read more »

Choosing the Novel

I thought I would finish revising my novel-in-progress a while ago now.  But the last couple of months of the school year included two multiple-day school trips to chaperone, a few weddings and a bunch of other special events to attend, and hours and hours of grading.  Then, two days after my last meeting at… Read more »

The Challenge of Being Present, with Eyes Wide Open

Yesterday, I met my friend Miriam for happy hour.  Afterward, we walked up the street together toward my apartment and the theater where she was going to see a play.  We’d shared a half-priced individual pizza as an appetizer, and I was holding a to-go box with the leftovers inside. In front of us, there… Read more »