Posts Tagged ‘congrats!’

Writing Young Adult Fiction

If you’re writing Young Adult fiction, also known as YA, you’ve probably already created an angsty, yet sympathetic, teenage main character (MC). Teen boy against wall writing young adult fictionWhat else do you need? Well, when we’re writing Young Adult fiction, we first need to give our angsty MC a problem to solve. We’ll also want to bestow upon them a skill to develop and an inner need to resolve.

In addition, we’ll want to surround our MC with a cast of characters—teenage and otherwise—who complicate or obstruct the MC’s goals. These might include a love interest (or two, for conflict), a mentor, and a sidekick/best pal. You’re also likely to need an antagonist (who may end up being a friend) and a “precious child” (a character dear to the MC, whose vulnerability puts the MC’s goals in jeopardy).

Be sure these characters have agendas that run counter to your MC’s. These competing objectives will provide a solid field upon which your MC can play to get the win.

YA writer published and awarded!

The above ideas may seem (unbearably?) clichéd to your own inner rebellious teen. But we can always at least explore the conventions of our genre. Then, we can see what of those tried-and-true ideas will serve our own story best.

My Young Adult fiction writer client Melody Maysonet found a balance. In her now award-winning YA novel A WORK OF ART, Maysonet skillfully incorporates YA conventions into her fresh, edgy tale of an art student on the brink.Writing Young Adult fiction book cover A Work of Art

Melody writes, Jamie, Thank you for the inspiration and knowledge you bestowed on me during the writing of the first draft. Not only that, but you gave me a killer critique for my revision. I revised based on your feedback, so the manuscript that got sold reflects your amazing instincts. Thank you so much.

Writing a YA novel? I’m a young adult fiction fan—and a top writing coach. I can help!

Book coach Jamie Morris can help you writing young adult fiction Morris can help.As a lover of YA, myself, and as a professional book coach, I can help you see the path for writing a young adult novel. Schedule a free initial consultation. And check out THE WRITER mag article Should I Hire a Writing Coach.” 


Writing a Middle Grade Novel: 10 Tips

Writing a Middle Grade novel can be an exciting adventure! But, like any adventure, it’s best to know the ground rules before you start. As a book coach, I’ve steered many Middle Grade authors through the writing process. Here are ten of the basics to keep your book squarely on the road to publication.

Word counts for Middle Grade (MG) novels

1) Know the ages of your protagonist and your audience: Middle Grade fiction is defined by the age of its protagonist and its intended audience. Your main character should be no older than twelve. They could even be as young as six or seven, if you’re writing an Early Reader. (An Early Reader book is written for new readers. It’s intended to create a bridge between picture books and chapter books.)

Since kids typically read up in age, not down, you’re writing for an audience of children between the ages of eight and twelve—with an Early Reader audience as young as five! 

2) Book lengths: Your MG story is likely to be fairly short, as far as novels go. Depending on the intended age group of your readers, your final manuscript might be as short as 10,000 words or as long as 50,000 words. If you’re writing fantasy/adventure, especially for an older MG audience, you might need 50,000 to 100,000 words—or more!

We can look to the Harry Potter fantasy series as an example of an author expanding word counts to suit her maturing audience. The first book in the series, THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE, is 76,944 words. In that book, Harry and crew are ten years old—smack dab in the middle of MG audience age.

However, as Harry and his readers grow up, the word count of the books increase. This trend continues until, having reached the far end of the kid-lit spectrum with the final book, the Young Adult title HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HOLLOWS, we’re looking at 198,227 words.

How long should your Middle Grade chapters be?

3) Chapter lengths: Early Readers don’t really have chapters. But “chapter books,” the next level for Middle Grade readers,do. Since chapter books come in at the low end of the total word-count estimate for MG books, their chapters are proportionately short at 500-750 words. Middle Grade books, meant for more experienced readers than the chapter book audience, can have chapters of up to 2000 words—or even more, if needed.

4) Sentence and paragraph lengths and complexity: Allow your reader to enjoy the story, rather then trying to educate them with too heavy a hand. To that end, keep your sentences straightforward and fairly simple. Paragraphs, too, should be short and easy to digest. Also, no need to send your reader to a dictionary often, either. Write in language they can easily understand.

Age-appropriate content when writing a Middle Grade novel

5) Focus on the story: Focus your writing on the story and action, rather than on description or psychological insights about the characters.

6) Think G or PG rating! While your middle-grade age characters may undergo significant difficulties, convey these in a way that doesn’t dwell on the darkness, but, rather, looks to solutions. Avoid swear words and graphic discussions of sex.

7) Lighten up on emotions and psychology: Let your young characters grow and change through their actions and reactions to story events. Don’t belabor psychological insights or character introspection in the process.

8) Third person POV: Third-person point of view allows a bit of distance between character and reader. Third person makes it feel safer to read about even tough circumstances. Your MG reader will, consciously or unconsciously appreciate that distance.

9) Get good readers: Teachers and librarians of your intended audience make great beta readers! They know what’s engaging to the kids in their care. They can also help you step carefully where needed.

10) Read 200 Middle Grade novels: Those same teachers and librarians are also familiar with what’s being published currently. (In other words, what types of stories you should be guided by). Get lists of books from them and from around the internet. Read 200 recent (last three years-ish) Middle Grade novels before committing to your own story. You will be vastly more informed about what’s selling now.

Further, you’ll have developed an inner sense for the rhythms of the stories being published for your young audience. This makes your success in the  field much more likely.

Good news for a Middle Grade author

MIDDLE GRADE NOVELIST GAIL SHEPHERD has great news! She writes, Jamie, I wanted to let you know I just signed a contract with Penguin Young Readers Group/Kathy Dawson Books, for a two-book deal. Kathy made the offer based on SOUTH BY SOUTHEAST, the book you were so helpful with in workshops. I’m thrilled of course and wanted to thank you!

Shepherd is also the author of Middle Grade novel THE TRUE HISTORY OF LYNDIE B. HAWKINS.

Ready to write that Middle Grade novel? As a professional writing coach, I can help!

Jamie Morris is a professional writing coach who helps middle grade authors complete their novels. If you have questions about writing your Middle Grade novel, a free chat with me might get you on the right path.  Schedule that free consultation. And also check out THE WRITER mag article Should I Hire a Writing Coach.” 


Congratulations Station

CONGRATULATIONS TO Royal Palm Literary Award-winning author ANNE HAWKINSON on the publication of SCOTLAND’S KNIGHT: The Rose in the Glade. Now available on Amazon, The Rose in the Glade is the first in a new series that Anne is co-authoring with Scottish Book Trust author PAUL V. HUNTER. To Anne and Paul, may the Thistle bloom forever!

Hey, there, RYAN G. VAN CLEAVE! TWO new books out on Oxford UP? Nicely done, sir! Van Cleave fans (and creative types), check out Ryan’s co-authored VISUAL STORYTELLING and his CREATIVITY: A READER FOR WRITERS. See what you think! (Also, thanks, Ryan, for your shout-out to me in your recent THE WRITER magazine article on writing coaching. I’m thrilled to have been at your literary service!)

So happy to report that MARGARITA MCCARTHY’S poem “Cuba ’95” was a finalist in this year’s Royal Palm Literary Award contest, presented by the Florida Writers Association. May this be only the beginning, Margarita!

Finally! Syndicated political cartoonist DANA SUMMERS’ debut novel is available. Winner of the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Award and Mystery Writers of America’s Freddie Award, DRAWN AND BURIED follows cartoonist Tim Ryder, who drew a cartoon series that earned him a Pulitzer, but drove a presidential candidate to put a bullet in his head. When we first meet Tim, local politicians begin turning up dead at murder scenes staged to resemble cartoons he has drawn. Uh-oh. Good luck, Tim!

Congrats, Dana! (And thanks so much for your appreciative note in your acknowledgements.)

Congratulations Station

CONGRATULATIONS TO ARTIST REBECCA SCHOENECKER on the publication of her stunningly beautiful, four-years-in-the-making CREATURES OF THE MOON: A Storytelling Oracle. This oracle deck’s 32 full-color cards, featuring both animal-totem guidance and moon-cycle guidance, is accompanied by a 308-page companion book, which includes original, fairy-tale-like stories for each image. I am so proud to have been project coach and first editor on this fascinating new oracle. May the Creatures be with you, Rebecca!

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A big shout out, too, to CINDY KNOEBEL, whose (brilliant!) short humor piece “THE GREAT METAPHOR” was included in the spring 2017 issue of online literary magazine PHREN-Z. (Click HERE to read the entire piece.) Cindy is currently seeking representation for her first novel, a high-stakes, high-spirited Wall Street romp (complete with dismembered Barbie dolls and attempted murder).

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Woo-hoo! Just one year old, South Florida magazine CYCLING QUARTERLY (which I am pleased as punch to edit!) is a finalist for two of FLORIDA MAGAZINE ASSOCIATION’S Charlie Awards—one for Best Advertisement: Self-Promotional (congrats, to CQ publisher MICHAEL GALE and to GARY DAVIDSON and BRUCE BORICH), and another for Best Writing: Column (yay, MARIAH REED!). If you’re a South Florida cyclist, grab the latest issue free from most SoFla bike shops.


Congratulations Station

VERY HEARTY CONGRATS TO TWO ARTIST PALS: PAULA JEFFERY on her recently published collection of dog portraits, DOG DAYS: The Art of the Dog, available on Amazon, and JADE HERRIMAN on being tapped to illustrate the upcoming personal style book DEAR CONFIDENCE, now funding on Kickstarter. (P.S. The bonus waiting for you at the bottom of Jade’s home page, her free journaling ebook, contains 25 fresh ways to get your thoughts and feelings on the page!)

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Kudos, too, to SHARON SPANO, PHD, on the completion of her new book, THE PURSUIT OF TIME AND MONEY, which can now be pre-ordered on Amazon.

Congratulations Station

Congratulations to LORI NORMAN on the publication of BEYOND THE DRAWBRIDGE, winner of a Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association.

Norman had always believed it was her calling to become a nun, but bound by rules, expectations of church and family, and her vows, she felt trapped and unable to escape. This inspirational memoir traces Norman’s journey from her entry into the novitiate at the age of eighteen to the eventual reexamination of all she knew and trusted.

Congratulations Station

ELIZABETH SIMS’ recently published CRIMES IN A SECOND LANGUAGE starts when protagonist Elnice Coker and her husband Arthur, retired schoolteachers, move from Indiana to the Hollywood Hills in a last-ditch attempt at novelty and happiness … and then the (fabulous!) wild ride begins! Mystery readers, get on board. You’ll be glad you did!

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KRISTEN SCHEIDER, founder of Wellblends, has a new book out. YOUR LIFE IS MEDICINE: AYURVEDA FOR YOGIS, for which the late Dr. Wayne Dyer was consultant editor, is for anyone seeking a more balanced, healthful life. Check it out!

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SHERRY TURNER’S long-awaited memoir about her time spent care-giving for her beloved mother-in-law, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, titled, LIFE WITH MOLLIE, BUT REALLY IT’S ALL ABOUT ME, is now available.

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LAURA BOLDIN FOURNIER’S first picture book was published late last year. Big congrats, Laura, on AN ORANGUTAN’S NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS and on your profile on Inky Girl!

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Congratulations to DR. KATHLEEN RUDDY, founder and president of the Breast Health and Healing Foundation, on her new, fabulous YouTube channel. Dr. Ruddy is a renowned breast-cancer specialist as well as a budding novelist. (FYI, her channel concerns the former, not the latter!)

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My good pal (and brilliant writer) MARY K SWANSON (nope, no period after the “K”) is in mid-portfolio-site creation. But OMG, even as a WIP, it’s GORGEOUS. Take a look at her Writing Dreamer site.

Congratulations Station

JOAN MANSSON’S been busy! She’s published both her beautifully illustrated FINDING YOURSELF THROUGH COLLAGE and her charming LITTLE BOOK OF REIKI this month. Way to go, Joan!

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MAXINE WEINTRAUB has assembled a lifetime of personal stories in her collection THE MAYONNAISE JAR. Friends and family will be delighted with her humorous, appreciative take on these special moments in her life.

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Big shout out, too, to ALAN ZEMEL on receiving his Tai Chi teaching certificate from the Institute of Integral Quigong and Tai Chi!

Congratulations Station

CHICK O’BRIEN wrote to say that his book, DEIRDRE A WOMAN FROM CLARE, which he describes as “a love story wrapped around a mystery,” and which is set in Ireland in 1915, is soon to become a movie! Alexander Lenzi will produce. Congrats, Chick!

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JOYCE SWEENEY, award-winning YA author, has a book of poems in the oven. Her latest poetry collection, WAKE UP, will be available in February, through Finishing Line Press. Awesome news, Pard!

Congratulations Station

CONGRATS TO JON FORE, whose YA Fantasy novel LEXICON CHASE AND THE RIDDLE SONG (Book 2 in the Lexicon Chase series) won a Readers’ Favorite International Novel Award (from among thousands of entries!).

Here’s a bite to entice you! Even after she risked her life in search of a fairy tale, guided by nothing but rumors and unwritten histories, Lexicon discovers she is still being hunted. Now, forced to flee her castle, even as the city of Everhope falls under troll siege, Lexi must find a lost tribe of people hidden beyond the Great Blight—the last keepers of the Riddle Song—and learn its forgotten secrets.

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