Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There are a couple Big Book Things happening this week and next. We'll let Auntie MJ explain the first one:

Stephen and Matt can take the second:

Are you participating in either Rock the Drop or World Book Night?

Oh, speaking of books around the world... I was recently on vacation in Italy, and I found their book stores to be fascinating. First of all, there were so many of them! I bumped into book stores inside train stations, on the corner of major plazas, facing beautiful river banks, even outdoors under ancient porticos...

I guess online stores and e-readers haven't taken over everywhere.

(Sorry one is blurry! But you get the idea, right?)

I also found the book covers pretty interesting. They were SO different from their American counterparts. There was a lot of photography, and a lot of white. (Sort of evident in the blurry photo.)

Here are a couple YA favorites as examples...

Pretty, no?

Then there are the covers that are sort of different, but sort of the same...

Isn't it interesting how Suzanne Collins' MG series was given a cover that looks so much like the Hunger Games' mockingjay symbol?

Speaking of which, there are some covers that apparently need no translation:

What do you think about foreign edition covers? Do you like them better? Do you collect them? Do you think books should have the same covers everywhere?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Revising a novel is like renovating a house. Doing both at once is... well, it's like living in the most turbulent moment of your story and having it never end. Fun? Yes. And no.  

For me, one of the best moments is writing "The End" after completing a first draft. Everything feels wonderful and perfect and I'm all "woo-hoo-my-story-is-finished-let’s-go-celebrate!" And then reality sets in... oh yeah, it’s a first draft. That means the really hard work is just beginning. Same with buying a house that needs some TLC. You get the shiny new keys, you move in all your personal baggage, you see the amazing potential—and then you realize there are squirrels living in your closet walls and the pipes burst and flood your basement, and the furnace stops working on the day the temperatures drop to negative 15 and...

Yeah, revising. It’s kinda like that.

Once you start to really tear into your manuscript, the novelty fades and you see all its flaws. You fix one problem only to expose another. Your quick two-day project turns into a two-month debacle. Essentially, you see your work for what it really is: a diamond in the rubble. Lots of rubble. Which isn’t so bad. It's actually okay. Because when it’s all said and done—heck, it’s a diamond!

For those who have traveled this territory, you know there is only one option: put on your mask, pick up your chisel, and get to work. I have read through my novel countless times, making big-picture revisions and smaller-scale tweaks. I found that spending four days getting one scene to be exactly where it needs to be is frustrating but ultimately one of the most satisfying aspects of the whole process. 

Three of us here at WHYA are chest deep in revisions right now, and one of us recently finished it. It’s so nice to have company in the trenches--and trusted partners to help guide you through them. 

Anyone else out there working on story renovations? What keeps you motivated on your tough days? What do you think is the most challenging part? And how close are you to unearthing that hidden gem?
Thursday, April 3, 2014

Much is being said about Young Adult books being turned into films.  This is not a new formula, and turning books into movies has been the bread and butter of Hollywood for quite some time.  However, film rights for YA books seem to be snatched up quicker than publication. 

Money matters a whole awful lot on the business side of books and film.  There's an immeasurable demand for successful franchises like Harry Potter, Twilight, Divergent and The Hunger Games, and fears for those deals that don't garner as much attention or revenue like Beautiful Creatures or The Mortal Instruments.  There's no formula for success.  No one knows what will be the Next Big Thing.

However, if asking little old me, I'd say the most satisfying YA book to film has been The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  It's beautifully acted, visually realised and the soundtrack is infinite.  That's what I look for in a film, let alone an adaptation.  There is an immeasurable demand from me for films like that. 

art by the enormously talented Simini Blocker
So when Rainbow Rowell tweeted yesterday that her film rights to Eleanor & Park have been sold to DreamWorks, little old me did a crotchety dance.  Like, dude!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I could not be happier.  I can't think of a book that doesn't represent adolescence any better. 

And then I felt a little twinge of panic.  Eleanor & Park doesn't have a director yet.  Or a cast.  Who would be cast as Eleanor...who will be cast as Park?  Never has a book to film adaptation had such a challenge.  There aren't any famous actors I can think of for either part.  They're going to have to be unknowns--risky for a film company--or the characters are going to have to change in their appearance to fit a famous actor.

It makes me think that perhaps some books shouldn't be made into movies at all.

I think Rainbow realizes these challenges and has thought them over more obsessively than her readers, no doubt.  Not that she has any choice about anything!!  But she's having a go at writing the screenplay.  And happy for whoever the director will be and actors cast to represent the spirit of the book, if not perfectly fitting the physicality of the characters she's created. 


*mopey face*

I think there will be more answers for me after The Fault in our Stars comes out.  Someone clever discovered that John Green is the Next Sure Thing and even Paper Towns has recently been green-lighted with a director and cast.  That's big news.

Whether you love his books or not, the guy is very good at what he does.  And he's genuine about it.  He has this way of making you feel like life is just an inside joke.  That's not something to be hyped, but something to smile knowingly to yourself about. 

And I think it's probably a better formula for the medium of books. 

I hope I'm wrong. 

Prove me wrong! 

What makes a successful book adaptation for you? 

And who would you cast as Eleanor & Park?
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014


Normally we'd have a post up here on a Thursday...and now it's Friday...and this is not really a post.

We're taking a break this week as one of our members has suffered a major loss in her family.  It's hit us all hard.  Feeling sorry for someone doesn't always cut it.  Sometimes all you can do is stop what you're doing and take in one breath and let out one breath.

Put away your labours.  Pause.

Grief is a tricksy thing.  It can't be helped.  It can't be shared.  And you can't take it off someone like a stray eyelash on a cheek.

You can relate.  And you can link words to hearts and these ache wide open.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Thursday, March 20, 2014

We Were LiarsY'all, we need to talk.

Don't worry, this isn't a break-up post. This is a full-out-in-love post. And the object of our affection? WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart.

The problem is, we can't really talk about it. At least not about the plot, because there's a strong element of mystery, and giving it away would really hurt the reading experience.

(Seriously, do NOT look at spoilers for this one. I say that as someone who usually doesn't mind knowing the twist.)

Here are a few truths that are safe to share:

• The characters. Cadence and her friends (collectively known as the Liars) are a charming and eclectic bunch. Sweet Mirren, swaggering Johnny, and philosophical Gat. Lockhart paints the foursome in vivid strokes, to the point where I felt like I was lying on the beach right next to them.

• Unreliability. It's not so much that the characters are liars, it's more that Cady only has bits and pieces of her family's story (due in part to amnesia, and in part to being an individual and a teen). What she knows isn't everything, and what she learns will break your heart.

• The setting. The Sinclairs spend their summers on a private island, with each branch of the family tree getting their own house. From the beaches to the cliffs, the motor boats to the Golden Retrievers, Lockhart weaves the details in a wonderful way, creating a wistful, balmy mood for her story.

• The relationships. More so than even the twist at the end, this is what WE WERE LIARS is about. Love of all kinds. Family love, friendship love, romantic love. Pure love, worried love, angry love. Like any family, the Sinclairs have twisted each other up in a number of ways, and those tangles provide powerful, believable fuel for the book.

In short: Read this one. Maybe you won't love it as much as I do, but I certainly don't think you'll regret it.

And hey,  you don't have to take my word for it...

For some spoiler-free, behind-the-scenes fun, check out this Publishers Weekly feature on E. Lockhart, or this blog about publisher Hot Key Books' clever pitch to secure WE WERE LIARS for the UK.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.

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on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
The Fault in Our Stars

We Heart YA's favorite books »