Voice. Heart. Connection. An Evening with 5 Extraordinary Authors of YA Fiction

More event news. On May 14th, I’m going to be on a panel with a few of my favorite local writers at the Barrington Public Library in Barrington, RI. The event is organized by another one of my favorite local writers, with Barrington Books, a wonderful bookstore in my home state. Needless to say, I’m psyched.

Teen-Reads

The details:

Voice. Heart. Connection. An Evening with 5 Extraordinary Authors of YA Fiction
May 14th, 6pm at the Barrington Public Library
184 County Rd
Barrington, RI 02806

Come say hi and listen to me chat with some fantastic YA authors.

In Which I Cuddle My Author Copies

Another step on the road to publication–The Chance You Won’t Return author copies! The real book, just as it’ll look in bookstores and libraries, arrived at my door the other day. Actually a whole box of them. Check them out in the video below!

As always, Candlewick did a beautiful job–the cover and the binding and the layout is awesome. I love my publisher!

Walt suggested that I dump out the box and swim in the books like Scrooge McDuck, but maybe next time.

Links Galore

All the links I’ve been hoarding:

The Chance You Won’t Return Launch Party!

The Chance You Won’t Return‘s release date is less than a month away, which obviously means my mind is turning to thoughts of celebration. Because you need tasty treat and a new outfit for your book birthday, right?

If you’re in the Boston area and want to join me for an evening of reading, happy dances, and tasty treats, come to The Chance You Won’t Return launch party at Porter Square Books!

The details:

The Chance You Won’t Return Launch Party
April 29, 2014
7pm
Porter Square Books
25 White Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

Come for the Q&A, stay for the happy dancing and book signing! There’s an event page for it over at my Facebook page, in case you want to be all official and RSVP.

I’d really appreciate seeing friendly faces, so please come out on April 29!

Links Galore

Lots of awesome links for the week:

Links Galore

Lots of fun links to start the week:

The First Review Happy Dance

My first big review came today, and I am so excited to announce that The Chance You Won’t Return got a starred review from Kirkus. Happy dance time!

I was so so nervous about reviews starting to come in, and having this one lead the way is so exciting. I was so glad that the reviewer mentioned that the novel includes “a character with a mental disorder who never loses her humanity or becomes a caricature.” That was so important to me in the writing of the book and I’m so glad to see that came through for this reader.

Click through to read the full review. And one more happy dance for the road!

Don’t Be the Artax: Writing Through the Squishy Middle

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a total pantser, and usually I like that because it lets me explore my characters and forge the plot from what feels right as opposed to what I’d originally planned should happen. Usually this works out great for the first part of the book.

Then I hit what I like to call the squishy middle.

The squishy middle is that point in the novel when I’ve gotten over the new WIP excitement and have exhausted all my initial ideas for where things might be going, but I’m not deep enough into it to see how everything comes together. I know my characters, but I’m not sure exactly how they’re going to get where they need to be and how long it’ll take for them to get there. I start to worry about the story overall and if it’s boring or worth the time/effort and if anyone will ever actually care about these characters. It kind of feels like being Artax in the Swamp of Sadness*:

Right now I’m in the squishy middle of my current WIP and trying to keep everything in perspective so I don’t go all Artax and burn my manuscript. If you’re in the squishy middle too, here are some things that I’m trying to keep in mind as I plow my way through.

1. Just Get It Done
The squishy middle sucks, but avoiding it just means you’re stuck in the squishy middle forever. It’s way better to finish and go back and revise than to never leave the swamp.

2. Trust Your Critique Partners
One thing that’s helped me so far has been to share regular updates with my critique group. First of all, it forces me to have new material. Second, they remind me of what things are working and help me brainstorm where things might be going. I end up leaving group excited about the WIP instead of exhausted, which is how I’d feel on my own.

3. Don’t Get Distracted by Shiny Things
When I’m in the squishy middle, I start thinking of new WIPs. You know, those bright shiny projects that don’t have any squishiness yet? Yeah, those are distracting and will end up having squish middles of their own, too.

4. Hey, You Still Like This, Remember?
In the squishy middle, it can be easy to forget why you’re writing the damn thing in the first place. Try to remind yourself of the reasons why you love this story. For me, it’s been helpful to return to my WIP playlist (Franz Ferdinand! Gogol Bordello! Bowie!) and to match the characters with their celebrity counterparts (my current main character casting is Maisie Williams).

5. You’ve Gotten Through It Before
The Chance You Won’t Return totally had a squishy middle when I was in the first draft phase. I kept thinking “Oh my gosh, this is the worst, just burn it, burn it all,” but eventually I got through it. And then I went back and revised and revised and revised some more. And soon it’ll be out in the world as a real book, which couldn’t have happened without powering through in that first draft.

6. Powering Through Means You’re a Writer
Starting a project is easy. Lots of people start novels, get a few chapters in, lose steam and never return. Powering through the hard parts and putting in the time and effort is what writers do. We don’t write when just when it’s fun and exciting–we write when it’s hard and there’s a whole swamp around us.

The squishy middle is a rough place to be, but it’s worth it to get through. Because by the end of the manuscript, we can all feel a little less than Artax in the swamp and a little more like Falcor.

Share your tips about getting through the squishy middle (or any other squishy part of your draft) in the comments.

*Seriously, guys, this scene will mess you up. I remember watching The NeverEnding Story and being afraid to step on the ground that night in case the Swamp of Sadess was going to get me, too.

Links Galore

Lots of links for a snowy day.