Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Interview with Deborah Halverson and Book Giveaway!

In the last few years I've learned a lot about writing young adult fiction. And one of the things I learned is there's always more to learn! Lucky for us YA writers, the intuitive and awesome Deborah Halverson is releasing a book that can enormously help our plotting, writing, and editing: WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES. How cool is that!

And you can win a signed copy! Keep reading to find out how.

So what do you get with this amazing book? Let's check it out:

With young adult book sales rising and bestselling authors exploding onto the scene, aspiring YA writers are more numerous than ever. Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies offers tricks of the trade and proven tips on all the steps of writing a YA novel, from developing an idea to publication.

· Tips on writing believable characters, settings, and dialogue
· Helpful sidebars from notable YA authors
· Four easy steps to writing a killer hook
· How to edit and revise with confidence
· Answers to the most common publishing contract questions
· Common pitfalls to avoid
· Advice on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing
· Tools for creating a powerful self-marketing campaign

With the help of this step-by-step guide, you'll have all the skills to write an inspiring and marketable young adult novel.

Deborah is having a 7 Day Virtual Book Launch on her blog where she's giving away tons of prizes, including a full manuscript critique. To celebrate Deborah's 7 Day Virtual Book Launch, I've taken the opportunity to interview her. Get cozy and join in on the fun.

Welcome, Deborah. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Before I wrote novels for young people, I edited other writers’ novels for young people. Before I edited other writers’ novels for young people, I wrote and edited video game instructions for young people. Before that, I was a young person. So it would seem that somewhere along the way I pledged my creative and professional existence to a group of people living through perhaps the most tumultuous, confusing, wonderful, and exciting phases of life—and I’m ever so happy I did. I find it incredibly rewarding to create books that help young people explore and understand their places in the world. And with the publication of my new book Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, I get to add my love of teaching to all that work experience I’ve racked up, allowing me to offer writers insights into both craft and industry. As I see it, I’ve got a pretty nifty job.

Your book sounds like an extremely useful resource for writers. What drove you to put together WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES?

In a way, I've been writing this book for 15 years. I spent ten years editing picture books and young adult novels with Harcourt Children’s Books, troubleshooting stories and guiding revisions, soaking in the advice of editors far more experienced than I, and writing speeches and articles and jotting down thoughts about the craft of writing with the intention of organizing those musings under a book cover in some form, some day. That form finally took shape last summer when an agent approached me about writing a book that tackles the unique challenges and tricks of writing for young people. She didn’t tell me the book was for Wiley Publishing's For Dummies line until we’d bantered via email a bit and I’d unwittingly revealed that I’ve got a sense of humor up my sleeve, something for which the For Dummies books are known. By that time I’d been freelance editing, teaching writing, and writing my own novels for five years, so I felt like I was in the zone to talk informatively about all sides of the YA publishing process.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

First drafts are notoriously ugly because writers are initially just trying to get the characters and events pinned down. Making everything pretty is for later drafts. However, I find it very difficult to let the ugliness just sit there and wait for those later drafts. I can’t stand knowing Ugly is there, so I continuously battle the urge to go back and rework those first words until they’re no longer horrific. Is it the editor in me or would I be like this even if I were a banker or a chef? Dunno. But the urge is there.

When reading other writers' works, what is your biggest pet peeve?

I frequently encourage aspiring writers put setting back into their young adult manuscripts. Too often, writers fill their manuscripts with characters and dialogue and action without providing readers with enough setting details to help them visualize these people and events in an actual environment. It’s like watching actors in front of the special affects blue screen. Put in setting so we can see stuff. That doesn’t mean plopping down big long descriptions. Rather, it means using setting elements such as temperature, props, and physical features to influence the character and the story. This gives readers something to visualize, yes, but perhaps more importantly, characters who interact with the environment around them reveal their moods and personalities, which enriches the characterization. By making more of your setting element, you also relax your dialogue so that it no longer carries the sole burden of conveying the emotion in a scene. Punching your hand through a plaster wall conveys serious emotion without a word of dialogue.

Great tips! Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Munchables. Which is bad, bad, bad. Actual hunger is irrelevant; my “have to have” is all about the motion of reaching from bowl to mouth over and over. That action helps me concentrate. Thank the Writing Gods for popcorn! I just wish I enjoyed popcorn as much as, say, chocolate. Or anything with actual taste, for that matter, as I try to be good by sticking with unbuttered air-popped corn, with just a dash of salt. Blah. Perhaps somewhere deep down I believe in suffering for my art?

Oh, we suffer enough. Bring on the munchies! If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Seinfeld’s Kramer once tried to live on just catnaps. I related to that episode. It’s probably not an official super power option, but I sure would love the ability to go through life without needing to sleep. Even as a child I thought just lying there unconscious for hours at a time was a total waste of valuable living time. Stephenie Meyer may have gotten her idea for the Twilight saga from a dream, but for me, dreams are useless commercials interrupting the show of Life.

LOL, I never heard it put quite that way before.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: feather, bazooka, and koala bear.

The koala bear struggled to scrape the sticky Bazooka bubble gum from his fur with the stem of a peacock feather.

Aha, very clever. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

I’m feeling particularly lovey-dovey about my friend and mentor Robin Cruise, a children’s book publisher and amazing author in her own right ( Robin gave me my first job in children’s book publishing, she supported my jump from a managing editorial career path to acquisition editor, and she fanned the flames that set me to penning Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies. Plus, she’s just a hoot to talk to. I’m fortunate to count Robin among my many supportive and inspiring friends and family.

And finally, where can people find you online?
Facebook: page
Twitter: @Dear_Editor

Thank you, Deborah, for letting us get to know you and your book. I just know it's going to be a hit.

And now, lucky readers, here's your opportunity to have WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES in your very own hands. I'm giving away TWO copies of this excellent resource, and here's all you need to do:

  • Be a follower on my blog
  • Be a follower on Deborah's blog
  • Leave me a comment telling me you want the book
  • Tweet a link to this post

Contest ends Friday at midnight (EDT). I'll use to pick two winners. The contest is open to US and Canada. (To those in other countries, don't worry. I'll have an international contest soon.)

Good luck, everyone!


Unruly Guides said...

An excellent interview. I love Deborah's opening, breaking down where she is now in her writing and where she came from (a young adult). It shows the progression of the writer, and tells so much about her in a fun way. Thank you for the YA tips on writing as well. I would love a "Dummies" book and will purchase (if I don't win) ;) Thank you again Dorothy and Deborah for a great interview.

Hope Collier said...

Great post, ladies! Thanks for the helpful info :) I love the tip about bringing setting back into stories. That's an excellent point! While some prefer the option of leaving things open to the reader, I like to know what the author intended for me to see.

YA is such a versatile yet specific market. I'm sure YA for Dummies is an excellent resource. Thanks for the great giveaway!

Angela Ackerman said...

*waves hand wildly in air* Me, MEEEE! I follow and would love this book. And can I say I am impressed you managed to so succinctly use all those words in a single sentence? LOL

Setting is something I always need to add to during revisions because I tend to skimp a but in the drafting phase. But, the good thing about adding it in during revision is by then I know exactly what mood I want to set, and what symbols will be the most effective. It means anything I add usually has a lot of purpose, rather than just 'being there'. (I hope, anyway!)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Deborah Halverson said...

Angela, I definitely think setting is something for later drafts. Tack the people and events in place first.

Deborah Halverson said...

Thanks for your kind words, Unruly Guides!

Deborah Halverson said...

Thanks, Hope. Good luck with the giveaway!

Cashier said...

I would LOVE to have this book!

kellye said...

I'm really excited about this book, and all the cool stuff going on with the launch. Just subscribed to your blog, I've been following Deborah's and now, off to tweet!

Thanks for the great interview!

Shelli said...

Great interview! I would love a copy of this book -- it would be great to have an insider's view.

Lacey J Edwards said...

Awesome interview! I subscribe To her blog, Dear Editor. It's an excellent resource for writers!