Saturday, June 30, 2012

Motives in Early Reader, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Novels (Part 2)

In my last post, I wrote about the idea that complexity of motives is a good indicator of whether you are writing an early reader (also known as a chapter book), middle grade, or young adult novel.

Today I want to introduce what I call Range of Effect. In a nutshell this concept says that the younger the reader, the smaller the circle of people the protagonist’s motives are directly concerned with.

Let’s take the same three books we used to examine complexity of motives. But this time, let’s look at the range of effect for the motives each book.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Motives in Early Reader, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Novels (Part 1)

I recently taught a workshop at WIFYR on the subject of using and examining the motives of your protagonists in youth fiction.I had a great time. Thanks to Carol Lynch Williams for inviting me to take part.

One part of the class was on the difference between motives in the plot of ER, MG, and YA novels. In preparation for the  class, I Googled differences between Young Adult and Middle Grade motives, and was surprised to find very little on the subject.

Since I haven’t done any actual writing tips posts on this blog for quite a while, I thought I’d share my thoughts and insights on this part of the class.

Motives are a huge part of both your plot and your characters. Imagine Hunger Games without Katniss have the overwhelming motive of protecting her little sister. You would have the story of a girl who is trying to kill other kids to get everything she ever wanted. Charlotte’s Web is a story about many things, but motive is what pulls it all together. They are all trying to save the life of the pig.

Something I see a lot with beginning,  and sometimes even advanced, writers, is that they aren’t sure if their story is MG or YA. They look at age of protagonist and page count. But they overlook motive. Here are three easy ways to decide if you have an ER, MG, or YA novel, using motive as a yardstick.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Air Keep Chapter 2 A Change of Plans

Hope your summer is going well. We managed to squeeze in a trip to D-Land, a couple of writers conferences, and lots and lots of writing. I recently turned in the second Case File 13 book, Making the Team, and am feverishly trying to finish Air Keep, before I get back edits.

I have to say, it's so much fun joining Marcus, Kyja, Riph Raph, and all the other Farworld characters. They're like old friends I have't seen for too long. And I am having such a great time expanding their worlds. The best thing about fantasy is making up stories that totally blow away people's expectations.

Anyway, I promised you another chapter, and here it is. In case you are new to the blog or haven't been here for a while, Shadow Mountain, the publisher of Farworld agreed to publish the last three books in the series, beginning in late February of  2013. Since it's been some time since book two, Land Keep, came out, we've agreed to post one new chapter a month until Air Keep ships.

The first two chapters can be found here:

Interlude 1

Chapter 1

Chapter 2 A Change of Plans

Marcus slammed his book to the patio stones in frustration. It made a bang that sounded thunderous in the quiet of the Arizona morning. A monk, startled from his work digging in a nearby flower garden, looked up quickly.
“Sorry,” Marcus said, feeling his face growing hot. “Where is that scroll?” he whispered to himself, reshuffling the small stack of books and papers in his lap. He’d been looking at it just a few minutes before, and now he couldn’t find it anywhere. It wasn’t like he could have misplaced it. He was sitting in his wheelchair in the middle of an open stone courtyard. And because he was in a monastery surrounded by monks, the odds of someone taking it were fairly slim.
But that didn’t change the fact that the scroll was gone.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Zombie Kid Cover

There are certain parts of being a writer that stink: the long waits, bad reviews, struggling to get a chapter just right. Then, there are the awesome moments: signing a contract, getting edits, seeing your book on shelves, good reviews.

One of the best moments for me has always been seeing a new book cover. That's what makes it all real. It's no longer just a story in your head or on a piece of paper. It's a book!

What makes that part even better is when I can finally share it with my friends, family, and readers. Which is all to say, "Look! Look! Look! Is that not the coolest cover ever??!!"

Whew, I feel better now. So what do you think?

Here's the cover blurb from the amazing James Dashner.

“With its mix of creepy chills and laugh-out-loud humor, Zombie Kid is the perfect book. Nick and his friends are my new favorite people.” – James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner

The artist is Doug Holgate. You can see more of his work here. He is the man! I don't know how he looked straight into my head. But he totally did.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Air Keep Chapter 1 Books and Beetles

I know, I haven’t posted in over a month. And this chapter is technically not in May. The good news is that I have been crazy busy finishing up both Air Keep and Making the Team, the second book in my Case File 13 series.

For those of you new to the blog, Shadow Mountain and I recently reached agreement on a contract for the last three books of the Farworld series: Air Keep, Fire Keep, and Shadow Keep. Since Air Keep doesn’t come out until February of 2013, we thought it would be fun to share one chapter a month until the book comes out.

In April, I posted the first Chapter, Interlude 1. Here, is Chapter 1. In the next couple of weeks I will post chapter 2 here. Thanks again for all of your support. Without you, this series would not have been finished.


Chapter 1

Flick. Snap. Crunch.
Flick. Snap. Crunch.
“Would you stop that?” Kyja swept away the pile of maps in front of her and scowled into the dark corner of the underground room.
Riph Raph spotted another of the eight-legged water beetles that had come here to avoid the blistering heat outside. His tongue flicked, and he snapped the red-shelled insect into his mouth then crunched it with his beak. “Did you say something?”