Posts Categorized: Young Adult Literature

Why Verse? An Interview with Cordelia Jensen

With Thanksgiving a few days away, today feels like the perfect time to post an interview with an author and friend I am very, very grateful for: Cordelia Jensen. Cordelia and I were classmates at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and I am incredibly lucky to have her in my writing life…and in the rest… Read more »

Why Verse? An Interview with Joy McCullough

I’m working on a new novel these days, and I very much want to write it in past tense, but it very much wants to be written in present tense. Nearly every time I get into a good writing zone with this book, my verbs slide right into present tense. Maybe my subconscious knows more… Read more »

Why Epistolary? An Interview with Debut Author A. B. Rutledge

During the first year of my MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I was working on a manuscript that wasn’t quite cooperating. The voice wasn’t quite interesting enough, and the story didn’t have quite enough urgency. My advisor at the time, the brilliant author Franny Billingsley, suggested that I might be able to… Read more »

The Realism Spectrum

The seventh grade English curriculum at my school includes a lot of historical novels, and when I teach seventh grade English, I talk about how historical fiction falls somewhere along a spectrum that ranges from almost fully rooted in historical fact to almost fully fictional. One book that falls on the mostly-rooted-in-fact end is Melanie… Read more »

My 2015 Reading Year in Review

It’s the last day of 2015, and I’m happily sitting here in my pajamas, with a clementine-clove candle burning, ignoring the pile of dishes in the sink and thinking back on the past year. I thought I’d give this long-neglected blog some attention with an end-of-year post on my year in reading. This year I read 101… Read more »

Student-Author Interview 09: Caroline Tung Richmond

Welcome to the ninth student-author interview! I’m very excited to feature debut author Caroline Tung Richmond and her fabulous novel The Only Thing to Fear. The Only Thing to Fear takes place in an alternate reality in which the Nazis won World War II, thanks to their genetically engineered “Anomaly” super soldiers. Sixteen-year-old Zara, a stubborn girl of mixed… Read more »

Light Contemporary YA

Last June, a voracious seventh grade reader who mostly reads fantasy novels finished The Fault in Our Stars and lay down on the dirty floor of my classroom. She informed me that she had loved the book, but it had completely destroyed her and she was never going to recover (or something similarly dramatic). She… 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 »

Student-Author Interview 06: Maria E. Andreu

I’m excited to present the newest student-author interview, featuring Maria E. Andreu, author of The Secret Side of Empty. This is an extra special interview because Maria visited our school, so the student interviewers got to meet her in person and eat munchkins with her. In fact, here’s Maria with the gang, post munchkin-eating. Maria’s… Read more »

Student-Author Interview 04: Trent Reedy

Welcome back for the fourth installment of the Student-Author Interview series! This time, I’m excited to feature Trent Reedy, a fellow VCFA alum and a prolific author who writes brilliantly across genres. Trent was a member of the Iowa Army National Guard and served in Afghanistan. Trent’s first published novel is Words in the Dust, a powerful… Read more »

An Inspiring Author Visit with Eliot Schrefer

It’s a logistical challenge to coordinate an author visit. Especially if the author is coming in from out of town and presenting to multiple groups. And especially especially when there’s a snow day on the originally scheduled date. So it’s really saying something that Eliot Schrefer’s author visit on February 20th was worth the logistical… Read more »

Student-Author Interview 02: K.A. Barson

Welcome back for the second installment of the Student-Author Interview Series! This time, four terrific seventh grade readers are interviewing one terrific author: K.A. (Kelly) Barson. Kelly’s debut, the funny and poignant contemporary YA novel 45 Pounds (More or Less), tells the story of sixteen-year-old Ann Galardi, who resolves to lose 45 pounds in two… Read more »

Student-Author Interview 01: Amy Rose Capetta

I don’t know about you, but I love reading author interviews. I also love giving my students opportunities to interact with real-life authors. So I figured, why not bring these two things together and have students interview authors here on my blog! Welcome to the first installment of this student-author interview series, featuring Amy Rose… 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 »

Safe Spaces

L. Marie invited me to write a guest post for her blog series on space, so I reflected on safe spaces, both real and fictional. Check out my guest post, the rest of the space series, and all of the other terrific stuff on L. Marie’s inspiring, entertaining blog! http://lmarie7b.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/safe-spaces/

Fanfiction?

Last year, after we finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird, I gave my eighth grade students a creative writing assignment. “Write your own chapter,” I instructed them. “It could be an extra scene that takes place during or after the events of the novel. It could be a secondary character’s take on an event that’s… Read more »

“Why are we allowed to read this…?”

Pretty soon, I’ll post the final installment of my series on engagingly fallible first-person narrators, but in the wake of Banned Books Week last week, I wanted to post something else while it’s fresh in my mind. After A.S. King visited my school last spring and gave three amazing presentations to grades 7-9, several students… Read more »