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Archive for the 'YA Fiction' Category

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Vermont Author M.T. Anderson, whose debut graphic novel was released in March: Yvain - The Knight of the Lion (Candlewick Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to re-imagine a legend, be it Arthurian, Shakespearean, Tolkien or J.K. Rowlian. Read part or all of a famous legend and write a poem, a scene, or a story inspired by your experience of what you’ve read. You don’t have to stick to the story, or even reflect it subtly. Just let it inspire you. See where it might lead to read an old tale. Here are links to a handful of possibilities to help you get started:

The Odyssey

Robin Hood

King Arthur

Romeo and Juliet

The Hobbit

A Vermont Legend about Ethan Allen

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion. 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Thirteen-year-old novelist Emily Rose Ross, the youngest author I've ever interviewed (and the youngest author ever to be signed by her publisher). Her debut novel is Blue's Prophecy (Title Town). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Emily Rose Ross. When Emily and Diane were half way through the editing process, they decided it would be a good idea to lay out the story of Blue’s Prophecy in such a way that the book’s motive and their goals were always visible to them. They went to Home Depot and bought a huge strip of landscaping paper. They hung it on the wall in such a way that, standing on chairs, they could write down information about individual chapters, about characters, about maps and other details. The paper kept them organized and helped them find the story arc. Emily says it helped them a lot. Her suggestion is that listeners who write do a similar thing with paper, or a whiteboard, possibly a bulletin board. I’ve also heard of writers who like to use sticky notes on a wall. All of which offers a unique new way to see your work and possibly help you plan next steps, solve problems, and stay organized.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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C.D. Bell, author of Weregirl, the first Choose Your Own Adventure (Chooseco) project with a single, dedicated ending! 


To some extent, change is a part of every book. The main character goes through a change, or her town goes through a change, or the situation that sets up the book changes. Perhaps these aren’t all as abrupt or significant as the change that takes place when a werewolf transforms, but still… This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about a transformation. Or just study the piece you’re working on a decide what is changing, because that’s probably something you should understand.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).


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NY Times Bestselling author of historical fiction for young adults, Ruta Sepetys, whose new novel is Salt to the Sea, published by Philomel.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Ruta Sepetys. Think back to yourself as a child and a time you were in the backseat of your parents' or grandparents' car. Take fifteen minutes to write about it. 

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another.

Music credits1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont author Laura Williams McCaffrey, whose latest novel is Marked, published by Clarion.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to expand the vocabulary of the world about which you are writing. Laura Williams McCaffrey said in our interview that the fantastical vocabulary of the dystopian world of her novel Marked tends to be functional vocabulary. “Squatties” squat -- that’s what they do, she tells us. In considering the world you are perhaps creating in a piece of fiction, or poetry, or essay, even if you’re not working on a dystopian piece, think about the functional vocabulary of that place, time, or community. Are you writing about a faraway place? Might there be a vocabulary you could research and expand on, or a vocabulary that you should invent? Is there a workplace in your piece that might have specialized functional vocabulary? Perhaps an ad agency that has a code word to refer to an important client waiting in the lobby? Or maybe in your narrator’s family, are there words or expressions specific to their experience that you could add to amplify your reader’s understanding of their life together? Maybe the mother always shouts a certain phrase when she wants  the kids to turn out their lights and go to sleep. Maybe she shouts, “BEDTIME!!” at the top of her lungs. Or does she come to the door and barely whisper it, her tone full of consequences. 

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) Dreaming 1 - John Fink; 2) Filter - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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YA graphic novelist Marika McCoola, whose book Baba Yaga's Assistant (Candlewick) won a New England Book Award last year, and Marie Lu, best-selling author of the Legend Trilogy and the Young Elites Series, including her latest, The Rose Society (Putnam Books for Young Readers). My interview with Marika McCoola took place in front of an audience at the Chronicle Book Fair in Glens Falls, NY. 


This week’s Write The Book Prompt is a character development exercise suggested by Marie Lu. List a character’s greatest strengths as well as what that person most values. Then write about one single behavior or action that this character would never ever undertake. Finally, list that character’s greatest weaknesses. After you have your lists, write a scenario where the character must do that one thing he or she would never ever do. What circumstance would force this character to cross that line and how does he or she respond to the circumstance, in a larger way?

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).



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Gary Lee Miller interviews Ellen Hopkins, author most recently of Traffick (Margaret K. McElderry Books).


For this week's Write the Book Prompt, let's take a page from Ellen Hopkins, who writes novels in verse. You have two options: first, you could take an existing prose scene you've already written and rewrite it in verse. Or you could write a completely new scene in verse instead of prose. There's no need to use rhyme or any formal scheme, but if sonnets are your thing, you can let it fly. 

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: "I Could Write a Book," by the Boston-based band, Possum.



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Critically acclaimed and bestselling author Julianna Baggott, whose new novel is Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders (Little Brown).

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Julianna Baggott, who encourages her students to use “visualization” to move forward in narrative. She suggests that her students close their eyes for each. They can take notes in between each. Here are a few examples she offered, from which you can work. Either now, if you’re all set up to do so, or later, listen to these with your eyes closed, and try to visualize what’s happening, but missing, from each prompt:

  • A Man walks out of a house* He’s dressed very strangely* He walks to a car* Opens the trunk, looks inside* reaches in*
  • A woman is running, scared – where* She runs out of breath, falls to her knees. She hears a * looks up and sees*
  • A man is sitting on a park bench. By his clothes, we assume he works as a _________ . A woman sits next to him and says something that makes no sense to us but means a lot to him, “ -------------“
  • A woman is standing in a flooded basement – things float and are soaked around her* -- she finds a footlocker, wades over to it – reaches inside to find * 
  • A boy in pajamas is outside* -- alone. He hears * but ignores it and keeps heading toward a *
Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another.
Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Writer and musician Tommy Wallach, whose debut YA novel, We All Looked Up, came out in March from Simon & Schuster.

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Tommy Wallach, who says that, although a lot of prompts focus on description and sentence-level writing, he feels that the hardest part about writing is actually story. Tommy suggests sitting down and, in half an hour, writing out three-act structure plot with no description or dialogue. 

The three-act structure has to do with creating the beginning, middle, and end of your story. Aristotle wrote of exposition, rising action, and resolution. In cinematic terms, the three acts are setup, confrontation and resolution. Here’s a website that discusses three-act structure, in case you’d like to read up on it. It’s something I found on the Indiana University website, and it has a shark.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another.


Music credits
: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).


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Award winning author and educator, Sharon M. Draper, whose latest YA novel is Stella by Starlight, published by Simon and Schuster. On the day of the interview, Sharon learned that Time Magazine had chosen her last book, out of my mind, as one of the 100 best children's books of all time. (She was in a pretty great mood, and we had a fun conversation.)

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Sharon M. Draper. You actually already heard her offer it; write every day, and write descriptions and scenes with specific detail. Look out the window. What does the sky look like, what do the trees look like? Not near a window? Write about something else near where you are: a person, a room, anything. Focus on descriptions and being specific in your descriptions. 

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.  

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