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July 29, 2011

Field Trip Friday, Twitter Version: July 29, 2011

Kate Hart
A companion to the round up at YA Highway

July 27, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: July's Best Book(s)

Kate Hart


In which I cheat and choose three best books instead of one, then give away an ARC.


Número Uno
(look at me using my Spanish degree.)

Imaginary Girls 
 by Nova Ren Suma

Creepy. Eerie. Lyrical. Mind-bending. I couldn't imagine how she would end the book without breaking its lovely trance, but Nova found a way to make "this explains nothing!" completely satisfying.




Numéro Deux
(I had to take French for that Spanish degree, which means ten years later I just used Google translate to remember "number" en francais.)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone 
by Laini Taylor

So fantasy is not really my thing, but Laini Taylor pretty much made it my thing here. Maybe because Karou's "real" life is full of hilarious dialogue and achingly lonely. Maybe because Laini immerses you in exotic settings in a way that makes them immediately fantastic but also familiar. Or maybe just because her writing is freaking kick ass. I dunno.



Número Três
(I took Portuguese for a few weeks during an ill-fated attempt at grad school. Hello again Google translate.) 

How To Save a Life 
by Sara Zarr

Dual POV, both female, but utterly distinct. The girls' sections are rendered in different typefaces, with the simpler, less educated girl written in a sans-serif, and the other in a Times New Roman-esque font. As I font nerd, I love that, but it's not a gimmick. Even without that detail, these are some of the most singular voices I've read in YA.


Because I want you all to read it, I'm giving away an ARC of How To Save a Life!*

Everyone who leaves their Road Trip Wednesday link in the comments at YA Highway will be entered in the drawing! 



(I want you all to read the others, too, but my mom is reading Imaginary Girls and my husband is reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone. However, keep an eye out for some future giveaways... I may have a copy of Shatter Me or The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer or Tempest to send out in the next few weeks...)







July 21, 2011

Uncovering YA Covers: How Dark Are They?

Kate Hart
If you followed the WSJ kerfuffle, you probably recognize this quote from the article that started it all.
'Hundreds of lurid and dramatic covers stood on the racks before her, and there was, she felt, "nothing, not a thing, that I could imagine giving my daughter. It was all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff."'
There have been literally hundreds of responses to Gurdon's claims, but aside from a few tweets and my tongue-in-cheek response, no one has really addressed her claim that YA covers are "lurid" and "dark."

Why not?

Because, as it turns out, YA writers and readers kind of agree. A quick Twitter poll revealed lots of common cover complaints, and a cursory glance at any writing forum will produce the same. So I thought-- why not count? I'm unsure how to quantify "lurid," but let's see just how dark (and pink, and girly, and white, and sparkly) YA covers really are. I gathered over 400 covers published by old school houses in 2010.* Then, using some highly scientific Photoshop magic, I discovered...


Surprise! Even if you split them down the middle, there are still more bright covers than dark.

July 20, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: And Your Little Dog, Too!

Kate Hart
YA Highway asks:  
Who are your favorite literary villains/antagonists, and why?

Answer:
Image Source
image credit

Because Dorothy was a whiner. And I hate little dogs, too.  

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I dressed as her every Halloween for five years.
That's me at age three or four.

Fly your broomstick over to YA Highway and leave us a link to your favorite villain in the comments!

July 14, 2011

This is a fun new game I play.

Kate Hart
When I'm writing, I email drafts to myself periodically as a backup. The new rule is that I have to leave it unread.

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This makes me insane, because I compulsively zero my inbox. (You can imagine how fun querying was.) That irritating little "1" is there to remind me I have THINGS TO DO SO OH MY GOD QUIT LOOKING AT RAINBOW CAKES ON TUMBLR AND WRITE MY DAMN BOOK.

ahem.

The other new rule is that the unread draft email can never fall below the screen cut. This means I either have to respond to emails in a timely manner (no fair archiving things for later), or I have to write more (no fair re-emailing myself the same draft).

How do you torture yourself remind yourself to stay on task?

July 13, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: A Kick In The Head(er)

Kate Hart
This week, YA Highway wants to know:  
What's the biggest writing / querying / publishing mistake you've made?

Well, the most embarrassing might be the time I introduced myself to agent Jill Corcoran in an elevator at SCBWI LA... while eating a quesadilla. Like a sandwich. For breakfast.

I had to switch hands really quickly so I could shake hers. Because I am classy.

But my biggest straight-up mistake? It happened during querying. This is a screenshot of the manuscript I sent to agents.

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Do you see it? Look more closely. No, it's not the profanity, and it's not the panties.

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Yep. I sent my fulls with "third draft" loud and proud in the header.

Here's a hint: Agents really don't want your drafts. They want your finished, polished, shiny product. And I didn't realize it was there until I saw "Put title on header justified all the way into the top right hand corner, taking out the draft number you currently have there" in the edit letter from my lovely agent Michelle.

This is word for word what I sent back: "Oh my god-- did I really send all my fulls with a draft number in the header?? aughghgh. FAIL." I wanted to email every single agent I had queried and tell them I wasn't an idiot and I really did revise more than three times, I just forgot to change the header and ...

I'm a little high strung. Poor Michelle. But she assured me that if they love something, "agents *do*not*care* about formatting snafus!!" And then distracted me with something else.

The moral of this story: Proofread EVERYTHING. Even your header. But if it's too late to fix? Don't stress.

Also, sign with someone willing to put up with your, um, quirks. And don't eat breakfast in conference elevators. 


Want to read more embarrassing stories?
Head over to YA Highway, check out the comments on today's post, and leave a link to your own!






July 7, 2011

Who Says YA Is Dark?

Kate Hart


Next week we'll take a highly scientific look at 2010's YA covers and see if the darkness really is too visible. Because as Laurel Snyder points out, "dark" can mean many things, and I'm a fan of being literal to the point of sarcasm.


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