Thursday, March 11, 2010

 

Young Adult Power Surge


Young adult literature is taking the world by storm right now, and I'm so excited that I get to be a part of providing information to readers about what I like to call the "young adult power surge." I was lucky enough to guest edit the current March/April issue of WOW!, which went live TODAY. And it's all about YA! This issue is full of awesome articles about censorship issues, voice, writing nonfiction for teens, using technology to reach readers, finding inspiration for this age group, and more. You don't want to miss any of the articles if you are a YA writer, a wanna-be YA writer, or a YA reader. Just click on the link to the WOW! e-zine over to the left of this post, and you'll be taken to the issue.

Some of my friends, who are over the age of 30, love YA books and are always recommending them to me. They actually read more YA books than adult books; and when you pick up books like Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Crank by Ellen Hopkins, or City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, it's not hard to see why. Not to mention the Twilight and Harry Potter crazes--teens aren't the only ones responsible for shooting Stephenie Meyer and J. K. Rowling to stardom--adults love them, too.

What is it about this genre? Why is it so popular? Why are adults, like me, marking down the date on their calendars for the release of the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy this summer? I wish I had the magic answer, but I don't. Sometimes, I think it's because we all wish we were teenagers again, but with the knowledge we currently have. So, when we're reading these books, we picture ourselves in this turmoil and how we would get out of it with all our new-found knowledge. Other times, I think we love YA because the writers work so hard to present honest characters in unique situations, and we just fall in love with them. Could it be because these books are just plain good?

What about you? Do you love YA literature even though you're an adult? What are some of your favorites? And by all means, if you have the magic answer of why YA is so hot right now and/or why we love it so much no matter what our age, please share with us!

Happy reading and writing!
Margo L. Dill
http://margodill.com/blog/
http://www.twitter.com/Margo_L_Dill

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

 

WOW! Call for Submissions: YA Issue


Young adult (YA) books are selling despite the economy. Adults and teens both seem to enjoy reading these books, which can be about many of the typical teen issues: suicide, peer pressure, dating, drugs, and cliques. Vampires and werewolves have practically taken over the YA section at the bookstores right now thanks to the Twilight series; and YA authors, like Ellen Hopkins author of Crank, are constantly on Twitter, Facebook, and their blogs, talking about censorship.

Angela has decided to dedicate March's WOW! issue to YA! She has also asked me to be a guest editor for the issue. I am thrilled and can't wait to work on this exciting issue about the YA market. I love YA!

Here are some ideas we had about topics for articles/interviews in the YA issue:

  • Interviews with YA authors about the craft of writing and marketing YA.
  • Interviews with YA editors or agents and what they’re looking for. What aren’t they getting?
  • Should YA authors find an agent or editor or does it matter?
  • YA authors and social networking/blogs: Do they target their teen fans or their writing colleagues or both? Special challenges of having teen fans.
  • What makes a book YA? The difference from tween and middle grade.
  • Edgy subjects in YA: are there any that are too edgy? What about language?
  • The use of technology in YA books—when does it date your ms? Do you need to put in e-mail, texting, Twitter and so on in contemporary novels now? How does having cell phones change the plots of novels?
  • YA non-fiction: What types of subjects are authors writing about now for teens? Is this an “easy” sale for authors and publishers?
  • Trends: Is everybody writing about vampires? What’s the hot thing coming up? Should you write about trends?

We’re open to any ideas you may have for this issue. Please review our past children’s issues to check for YA topics we’ve already covered:

http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/27-issue.html

http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/14-issue.html

If you have an idea for an article or interview, please query us at submissions (at) wow-womenonwriting (dot) com.

Writer’s Guidelines: http://wow-womenonwriting.com/contact.php

Pay: $50 - $150 per article.

Looking forward to reading your queries,

Margo Dill

http://margodill.com/blog/


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Saturday, October 17, 2009

 

Teen Read Week

by LuAnn Schindler

October 18 - 24 marks Teen Read Week. As a former junior and high school teacher, I've read my share of YA literature. And truthfully, I often find YA literature more compelling than contemporary fiction.

Good YA literature places rich characters in realistic situations. The dialogue is strong, and most importantly, sounds like teens. It's not contrived. Neither are the plots.

If you haven't read a YA novel lately, check one out. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

Some of my favorites include Thirteen Reasons Why, Language of the Goldfish, Spanking Shakespeare, Wanted!, and Make Lemonade.

What are your favorite YA novels?

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

 

Interview with Jane E. Johnson - 1st Place Winner!





Jane E. Johnson is All Heart


There are times when you read a story and enjoy it so much that you want to know about the person who wrote it. Sometimes that person turns out to be just as you expected, and other times that person surprises you! Jane is more than we expected and full of wonderful surprises. Getting to know her has been a gift.

Finding out the motivation behind Jane's story shows her true spirit. Listening to her 'speak' through her words is a blast! She's warm, caring, funny, and a down-to-earth person with a huge heart.

Join us as we interview Jane E. Johnson, our gracious first place winner, and find out why a fresh outlook like hers is bound to take her anywhere she wants to go.

***

WOW: Jane, congratulations on winning First Place in the WOW! Winter 2007 contest! That's quite an accomplishment. In fact, you found out that you won before we officially went live! Can you share with our readers how you 'caught us in the act'?

Jane: Thank-you, it was really fun to win a contest put on by such fun and encouraging people. I feel like we are all winners. And I really love all of the entries. It's a funny story about my finding out that I won. I was up late and reading some great articles on the WOW! website. I clicked on an article and when the new page opened, all of a sudden I saw my picture. You can imagine my great joy and happiness. I immediately e-mailed the WOW editors that I was sitting right there and was so excited to have won.

WOW: I remember that... we were close to midnight (Pacific Time) and were scrambling, like always, to get the issue up. Then you e-mailed us! Now that reaffirms that people ARE watching... so we better make those deadlines! ;-)

Jane, we loved your story "Funding a Memory," which is loosely based on true events. Could you tell us which parts are true and which are fiction?

Jane: There is a lot of truth to it. I am like JB, and I have two brothers with names beginning with the letter M. I also really do have 9 siblings, "steps halves and wholes". We really did go on a family vacation back in the 70s in a VW pop-top camper. My step dad is very ill. And he really did answer that he would like to go to Reno, (before the doctors determined just how ill he is). His pet name for my mother is "Reb" because he is a 'Yamn Dankee' from Philadelphia Pa and she is a Rebel from Mississippi.

The fictional part is that it was my younger sister who was actually there with me and Mom in the hospital room with Pappaw. My real brothers and my little sister would probably be in the RV with me -- not giving me a hard time about taking him on a trip -- but I needed a conflict for JB. He really did call me Jitterbug when I was young. Probably because I couldn't sit still and I talked a lot. (Imagine that!) I don't get to take him on a trip, but I believe this fictionalized account really helped him to see how much I care for him.

WOW: I believe it has. Did he get a chance to hear it?

Jane: My mother read it to him just after I told them that I won first place. She said he got a tear in his eye. He's proud of me and happy to see that I am writing again.

WOW: We're proud of you too! Believe me, there were a lot of entries. And like most contests, we recommend that writers get their entries in early, but yours came in not too long before the deadline! Do you think the adrenaline helped to write the story, or was it emotion?

Jane: Adrenaline, emotion, anger and frustration that his life couldn't last longer. As I wrote the story I already knew that it would never come true. But it was truly the desire of my heart to take my parents on a trip somewhere. I have been talking about it with them a lot over the last year and we were planning to go to Branson MO, this summer.

I wrote the story the night before the night that it was due. I was in a hotel on my way back from just bringing him home from the hospital. I cried and cried as I wrote it. But it has been shown that some of the best artistic creations come from pain. It is fun to write things out the way you wish they could be.

WOW: That's the magic of stories... and they help heal the soul. As you were caught in the moment, did you have a tough time with the word count?

Jane: I went over by about 100 words. So I tweaked and edited and cut it down to just under 500. It was a great experience. I usually have a problem with ending my stories, but the word limit really held me in tight. It was a fun exercise because it really helped me to look quickly for a punch line. I believe what I cut was mostly details about the VW pop-top camper trip. It was about 1:00 a.m. when I finished and I was exhausted emotionally and physically, but felt a therapeutic relief from writing it all out and sending it to WOW!.

WOW: I'm glad, because you did the same for us. I remember when you wrote us the night you won, your e-mail couldn't have come at a better time. It was therapy for us in the midst of a lot of stress. Feeling your enthusiasm made both Beryl and I smile, even shed a tear.

You'd told us that one of your family's wishes was to see you become a successful writer. That shows the love between you and your family. We also know that you've written a 500-page middle-grade manuscript. Can you tell our WOW! readers what it's about?

Jane: When my six children were young, I would sit outside in the hallway at bedtime and make up stories for them. The characters in the stories where always ogres, fairies, wizards and other fantastic creatures. I have three boys and three girls, and a lot of times the boys were the ogres and other beasts, while the girls were the beautiful magical fairy princesses.

About six years ago, when my oldest was 16, she asked if I would write down some of those stories. I couldn't remember very many of them. But I sat down and plotted out a story where all six of them are wizards. It grew into this amazing tale that sends them out on a quest to conquer an evil dragon by the name of Gwandoya. My problem with the manuscript is that it is written in third person omniscient. I have been told that it really should have been written in third person limited and am on hold right now as I get some opinions and critiques and decide if I need to change it to just one child's point of view. (You try to tell the other five that they don't get to ride shotgun!)

WOW: That is a hard feat. Although, recently, I was reading a book where third person limited jumped from several characters' points of view throughout the story. As long as you change paragraphs and make smooth transitions, you can do it without the reader even realizing it's happening!

So, do you have an agent to guide you through this process?

Jane: I do not have an agent, but a few years ago I did contact Sandy Ferguson Fuller. Her assistant Lynn Volkens wrote back and let me know that she would love to take a look at my manuscript. They offer a critiquing/editing service and were recommended to me by an author friend of my other Dad's. That was about 3 years ago though. I just came across their name again and am most likely going to send the manuscript to them soon.

WOW: How has the submission process been going for you?

Jane: I haven't submitted my book anywhere because I know it needs a lot of work. But I sold 4 stories to children's magazines several years ago. I love getting the mail of a writer. Even if it is a rejection. If you are not getting the mail of a writer, you are not a writer.

WOW: So true... and with a positive outlook! The life of a writer includes many sacrifices. And we know from your bio that you have six children! How did you manage being a mom, a wife, getting a Bachelors' degree, and still find time to write?

Jane: I put my writing on a back burner for the past four years while I finished my Bachelors' degree. I just achieved that goal in December and immediately started to think about writing again. I pulled out old files and found at least 20 short story manuscripts waiting patiently to be sent out. I have already updated and sent out 2 short stories to magazines, entered WOW's flash fiction contest, entered another contest for Kansas writers, SCBWI Kansas, joined a critique group, and I'm going to the Poconos (back in my home state) for a writers' conference next week.

I love children and find that the best way to raise children is to take them on adventures with you. Many of my early short stories and two that I sold to a magazine with a younger audience were based on true events that happened with my children. So the laundry may not get done, but we have a lot of fun making memories together. Sometimes it is difficult to switch gears but now that they are all in school I try to write during the day and focus on them when they get home. I don't sleep much. I often do my best writing late at night. Sleep is overrated anyway ; )

WOW: We know that one personally Jane, and we admire your drive! It's not only sleep that's overrated, but laundry too! So, now that your children are in school, what are you working on?

Jane: I have sent the first 15 pages of my book out to be critiqued at the writer's conference I am attending. I'm also working on a new middle grade novel. This one is a historical novel based in Philadelphia in the 1970s. Can you believe the 70's are historical now! I am also researching magazines again and am looking into writing short pieces for assessment tests. I am a substitute teacher and will be entering a teacher prep program in June. I have a soft place in my heart for special needs kids and will go on to get my Masters so I can teach them. But one thing I noticed is the lack of materials out there for these children. They need text written in language that is more easily understood. And tests that don't confuse them or trip them up.

WOW: I totally agree. That's such a good idea, and one that NEEDS exploration.

Jane, you are a pioneer. You have a wonderful heart, a clear vision, and drive to accomplish everything you set out to do. Winning
First Place in the WOW! Winter 2007 contest is only the start in your adventures -- we guarantee it! Overall, how has entering the WOW! contest been for you?

Jane: This has been an amazing experience all around. I have told everyone I know to enter next time and especially to get on your website and read all of the encouraging words and wonderful informative articles. My sister just called me today and told me that she did write up an entry using the next prompt. She is so excited for me and I knew that she and my other sister and my two adult daughters would have a fun time with the flash fiction idea.

WOW: We sincerely thank you! We only hope that with more entries we can provide greater opportunities for writers. And Jane, when you get published, you have to grant us your first interview!

Jane: I love how you say When. I am sure with your encouragement it will be "when" and not "if". Thanks to Angela and Beryl and all of the contributors at WOW! I'm so glad I came across your website, just surfing along a couple of months ago. Wow.

Be sure to read Jane E. Johnson's first place story,
Funding a Memory.

***

To contact Jane E. Johnson for kudos, interview requests, PR, or MS requests on her upcoming novel, please contact: janieness@sbcglobal.net

We hope you've enjoyed this interview with Jane. She's shown us the true spirit of a winner: gracious, honest, warm, self-sacrificing, and down to earth. A woman with a story of kindness. A woman going places.

Thank you Jane
for making this a wonderful interview, and we wish you the best in all your endeavors.

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