Category Archives: Authors

THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES Launch, Giveaway, and Time Travel Titles!

Do you love a little bit of time-travel/time-bending elements in your middle-grade books? We’ve got some great titles for you – plus we’re celebrating one of our very own Mixed-Up File-rs brand new Middle-Grade with Scholastic!

Time of the Fireflies_Cover

THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES is the story of a beautiful heirloom doll with a secret family curse, a bit of historical fiction from 1912–and time-slipping. The novel has received terrific reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and School Library Journal who said, “Haunting, well-constructed tale . . . A plot filled with suspense, adventure, and mystery. A perfect choice for lovers of ghost stories, historical fiction, or just a good yarn.”

Help Kimberley celebrate THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES by entering the Rafflecopter below to win a signed hardcover copy of FIREFLIES, gorgeous Book Club Cards, and a glow-in-the-dark firefly necklace like this one:

Fireflfy Necklace

THE-TIME-OF-THE-FIREFLIES-Book-Club-Guide.pdf

Watch the mysteriously spooky book trailer right here, too!

Time Travel Middle-Grade Titles – a Mix of New and Oldies!

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

The Infinity Ring series by James Dashner, et al

WARP, Book 1 The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer

Watcher in the Woods by Robert Liparulo

Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder

Nick of Time by Anne Lindbergh

The Last Snake Runner by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Here’s an even bigger list of MG and YA Time Travel books from Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/28181.YA_MG_Time_Travel

Let a book carry you away to another time and place!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kimberley Griffiths Little’s best ideas come when taking long hot baths, but instead of a sunken black marble tub with gold faucets and a dragon-shaped spigot, she has New Mexico hand-painted tiles in her adobe home along the Rio Grande. She makes a lot of chocolate chip cookies when writing/revising.

Find Kimberley on Facebook. and Twitter:@KimberleyGLittl Teacher’s Guides, Mother/Daughter Book Club Guides, and book trailers “filmed on location in the bayous/swamps of Louisiana” at Kimberley’s website.

 

Thicken thou Skin

Writers often stay in the closet about their writing. Why? Because admitting you’re an author opens you up to feedback, critique, and rejection – more than any professional outside of arts and entertainment.

reject-stamp-100108266Staying in the closet, however, means never getting published. For this reason, writers are encourage to thicken their skin and get used to rejection. Easier said than done, especially since most writers are sensitive and empathetic by nature.

I am hyper-sensitive to rejection of any kind, even outside of my writing life, and self-doubt has been my worst enemy for as long as I can remember. After five years in the business of being an author, my skin has not been thickened – wrinkled, but not thickened – and my ego is more fragile than ever.

At first, I thought the self doubt would disappear after I finished my first manuscript. Nope- that was when I first came out of the closet and faced the rejection of publishers.

First published book? Nope – then it was reviews and sales records.

Second published book? Nope – ditto to above followed by the rejection of my third manuscript.

Agent? Well, this is the stage I’m at now, having just signed my first (and hopefully last) contract with a literary agent earlier this month. I am excited about this new step in my career but I have to admit, by this time in the game I am grizzled and wrinkled enough to know that the need for thick skin does not end here. As we work on another set of edits before she makes my first agented submission, I know we heading back at stage one (only this time in a tank with bigger fish – and sharks).

ID-10086055Since my skin is not thickening on its own, I’ve collected a list of links that can help writers – and anyone with a heart beat, really – face the world of feedback, criticism, and rejection. Not exactly light summer reading but maybe, just maybe, it can help bring us into fall with something more useful than a sunburn.

Rejection: 3 Methods for Coping (Gotham Writers) A good, quick place to start.

 25 Things Writers Should Know About Rejection (Terrible Minds) Digger deeper with ideas that go beyond the standard “suck it up”. Caution: mostly flowery, but occasionally foul, language.

5 Ways for Writers to Overcome Self-Doubts (write to done) While some of these pointers apply to more seasoned writers (NOT authors), I love The Pimple Rule. Great links to other posts on making peace with criticism and why feeling like a failure boosts creativity.

The Seven Stages of Publishing Grief (Writer Unboxed) Describes the ups and downs of writing in the age of google and amazon with a demonstration of how a writers reaction to bad book news follows the seven stages of grief.

Famous Writers Who Were Rejected Before Making it Big (Bubble Cow)In an industry where comparison is paramount, remembering that all the great ones – our mentors, our role models, the objects of our envy – have also been rejected can literally help keep us sane.

I truly believe that if you are not getting rejected you are not getting published but sometimes – okay, often – a gentle reminder is in order. And since the web is littered with them, here are some more:

Best Sellers Originally Rejected (Literary Rejections)

Famous Authors Harshest Rejection Letters (Flavorwire)

Literary Rejections on Display: When all else fails, it helps to know you are not alone. This blog is for the not-so-famous among us to share the pain of rejection.

Famous Writers on Literary Rejection (Aerogramne Writers’ Studio) And finally, some words of inspiration from writers who have been through the tunnel and reached the light of success but still faced rejection.

ID-100201447

If you have any tips to share, please comment! I’d love to hear how you’ve thickened thou skin. Or have you given up?

 Yolanda Ridge is represented by Amy Tompkins of the Transatlantic Literary Agency. Her books include Trouble in the Trees (Orca Book Publishers, 2011) and Road Block (Orca Book Publishers, 2012).

The case for outlining

I outwardly claim to be a “pantser,” writing by the seat of my pants, as I do so many other things in life. Inwardly, I yearn to be a planner in life and an outliner in writing, but my outline resistance has deep roots. And then, last spring, during a workshop on story structure, this simple comment changed my ways:

“Planning a vacation doesn’t ruin a vacation … yet,” said Claudia Gabel, senior executive editor at Katherine Tegan Books during the SCBWI Western Washington conference in April 2014.

Okay, it didn’t actually change my ways … yet. But the potential and inspiration are there. I still needed to hear from writer friends who work with outlines. Here’s what I’ve learned (bios of authors interviewed are at the end of this post):case of the library monster

If you haven’t always been an outliner, what was it about a particular book/project that turned you around?

Dori Hillestad Butler: Selling a project on a proposal and then having an editor need to see a chapter-by-chapter outline! I was a very reluctant outliner at that time. But now I actually like to outline. I think it saves me time overall. It helps me focus. And because I have an outline, I usually know what’s coming next…unless I get partway into a story and realize my outline is wrong. Sometimes that happens. When it does, I usually re-do the outline. Sometimes I wonder if my “outline” is some other writer’s idea of a “first draft.”

vanished book coverSheela Chari: I was a pantser type for sure. But when I decided to try my hand at writing a children’s mystery novel, I discovered I really needed to have a plan. Not a foggy one where I had some notion of how it would all end, but something more detailed that could help me construct a satisfying mystery story, where chronology, timing, and the sequencing of information (i.e. clues) were all crucial. There was no way to do this without planning things out on paper.

Christina Wilsdon: I have always been an outliner. I can remember writing reports about different states back in 5th grade and how putting all the information I gathered into the right categories felt so efficient and kind of like herding sheep into the right pens. Over the years, as projects got more complex, outlining helped not only to corral information but also revealed gaps I should fill and sometimes even fostered connections between categories.

Stacey R. Campbell: I did not use an outline while writing my first book. That book took me four years to complete …  Then one morning, over coffee, I read an article of the value of creating an outline and decided I would give it a try with my second book Hush. I finished writing Hush in less then six months.

Briefly, what is your process for creating an outline? Do you know the end, and build in between?

girls research book coverJennifer Phillips: I used to do a traditional outline starting with the beginning and working sequentially but then I read some writing advice that got me experimenting with the ending first. For fiction, I think this is a very interesting technique and I’m going to try it more. For non-fiction, it depends on the nature of the work. But I’ve been outlining a biography on Horace Mann that I’m slowly tackling in between other projects and life. I started with a high-level outline of the overall chapter structure first, after I had done a bunch of initial research, and then I started outlining within each chapter, just a brief description of the beginning, middle and end to make sure I’m telling a narrative story within each chapter. I also add outline notes about sensory details I want to include when I outline a book or short story.

Sheela: The outline never stays set in stone – it evolves along with the rest of my story. This way I have room to change, take the story in a new direction, but always have a game plan that I can refer back to when I get lost.

Christina: Most of my completed works are nonfiction. For these outlines, I know I usually want to go from introductory broad-overview sorts of topics and end with a wrap-up that’s broad. And then I plan the in-between.

How often do you refer to your outline?

hushStacey: Daily when I’m writing and rewriting I refer to my outline. It helps keep me moving forward. It is a map of what is to come, what has happened, and what needs to be enhanced.

Jennifer: I use my outline throughout a writing project. One reason is that it serves as my memory. I have to juggle a lot of family/work commitments and I can’t usually tackle a project in one continuous stream of writing. I also don’t feel constrained and imprisoned by it; I’ll revise the outline if a story is emerging differently than I expected. The one exception is when I’m doing a work-for-hire non-fiction book. The editorial team, in my experience, provides manuscript specs and requests an outline for initial approval before you start writing. If I want to change some significantly from the approved outline, that’s a conversation with the editor first.

For Horse-Crazy Girls OnlyChristina: For a long nonfiction book, I actually copy and paste the outline into my document, and start writing in the outline sections. I go back later and re-title the outline’s items and move and delete as  necessary.

How do you use your outline in writing a synopsis? 

Jennifer: My outlines become the first draft of a synopsis. I make a copy and work right from that file.

Stacey: As for the synopsis- so much easier with an outline!! It’s practically done for you

Any tips for reluctant outliners?

Jennifer: Just start with a high-level beginning, middle and end. Don’t get bogged down in the type of outline you may have used to write an English composition assignment. And if you’re a visual person, make it visual. Don’t torture yourself over trying to find a perfect format. Do whatever works for you!

Thank you so much to these generous authors for their insights on outlining:
Dori Hillestad Butler is the author of the Edgar-winning The Buddy Files mystery series and The Haunted Library (August 2014) chapter book series.
Sheela Chari is the author of the Edgar-nominated middle grade mystery Vanished, the book that switched her from pantser to outliner.
Stacey R. Campbell is the author of Hush; her debut middle grade Arrrgh! is coming in September 2014.
Jennifer Phillips is the author of Girls Research: Amazing Tales of Female Scientists, for grades 4 through 6.
Christina Wilsdon has written many nonfiction books, including the middle grade For Horse Crazy Girls Only.