About the Books
1. Is The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls the first in a series?
Actually, no! Cavendish is a standalone work, which means there are currently no prequels, sequels, or companion novels planned — and I don’t think there ever will be! Never say never, though, I suppose.
Nope! All my novels currently contracted with Simon & Schuster are standalone novels.
3. Why standalones? Why no series?
There is no reason other than the fact that to tell these particular stories properly only requires one book each. Some stories are standalone, some are series — it’s as simple as that! I will say, however, that I have many other projects brewing in my noggin, and several of them are series. So, will I someday come out with a series or two? I certainly hope so!
4. What about Winterspell?
Fall 2014! (I don’t have an exact release date for that book yet.)
5. I’m a book blogger/book reviewer/librarian/bookseller/otherwise awesome person. How can I request an ARC (advanced readers’ copy) of your books?
First of all, thank you for your interest in my work! You obviously have superb taste.
Secondly, I have created a special page on the blog, just for you! Currently, there are no ARC forms available, but I should have Winterspell ARCs soonish (!!!), at which point I will post a request form for that book. Until then, any ARC-related inquiries should go to my publicist, Jillian Vandall, at Jillian.Vandall [at] SimonandSchuster [dot] com.
ARC request forms for Winterspell and Untitled YA #2 will go live closer to their publication dates.
6. Is Cavendish going to be published in other countries? If so, when?
Currently, Cavendish has sold in Germany and Brazil, but I don’t yet have publication dates! I will update this answer with more information as I receive it.
7. What projects are you working on right now?
I always have about a million projects swirling around in my mind, but I’m actively working on two at the moment: One young adult book (code name Love Space Guns Baby) and one middle grade series (code name Spectacular Spectacular!). Yes, coming up with code names is super fun. And no, unfortunately, I can’t talk about either of these projects in more detail . . . yet!
1. Which do you prefer writing: middle grade books or young adult books?
Short Answer: That is such a difficult question! Obviously, I enjoy writing both — but for different reasons. Writing middle grade satisfies certain creative desires inside me; writing young adult books satisfies others. All together, they make up who I am as a writer! Therefore, I must be lame and officially deem it a tie.
Long Answer: To me, middle grade books are purer than young adult books (and I don’t mean that they are sugary sweet and fluffy). I mean that they fall into that sweet spot between childhood and adolescence, when the characters are just starting to grow up but still close enough to their childhood to appreciate the wonder in the world. They are not yet jaded, cynical teenagers roiling with hormones. They experience their first crushes, their first kisses. They are still young enough to have adventures and to think that anything is possible. Some of the most endearing and timeless stories I’ve ever read are middle grade books. (Think A Wrinkle in Time, Coraline, The Phantom Tollbooth.) As a writer, I love slipping back into that purer, more hopeful perspective. Plus, I feel like there is more room for straight-up adventure in middle grade books. They’re just plain fun!
Young adult books, however, are a whole different ballgame. Instead of first crushes, it’s first loves and first adult experiences. These characters are moving beyond themselves into a bigger, more dangerous world. They start to care about external issues; they have left their innocence behind and teeter at the cusp of adulthood. Emotions, friendships, and dangers are scarier, more vital, and more extreme than they have ever been. As a writer, it’s incredibly thrilling to play with these extremes. I can go dark — very dark. I can do violent, dangerous, sexy, edgy. I can play with a tremendous scope; my characters can — and should — confront real-world issues. There is an exhilarating artistic freedom to be found in writing young adult books.
To sum up: Yeah, it’s totally a tie.
2. Can you read my manuscript/outline/query and give me feedback?
Unfortunately, no. There are lots of reasons for this, first and foremost of which is that I simply do not have the time! But I wish you the best of luck in all your writing endeavors.
3. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
First of all, drop the “aspiring” descriptor. If you write, you’re a writer. End of story.
Secondly, I have two pieces of advice. One is read. The second is write. Do so thoughtfully. Do so over and over and over. And never stop.
4. I want to start querying my manuscript. How do I begin?
There are many fantastic online resources that can help you learn about the query process in particular and the publishing industry in general. My favorites are:
- Twitter (in my opinion, THE most important resource for authors, especially authors of children’s literature, aka, the kidlit community, which is very active on Twitter)
- Absolute Write forums – These forums are a great resource for unpublished authors to find information about agents and the industry in general.
- Query Tracker – This site collects information about agents — contact information, what kind of books they’re looking for, if they’re currently open to submissions, etc. Each agent’s page also has a comments section in which querying writers share their experiences with these agents.
- New Leaf Literary & Media – This is a fantastic and informative Tumblr run by the New Leaf Literary Agency (which represents authors like Veronica Roth and Leigh Bardugo). Check it out for information about writing, querying, the publishing industry, and industry trends.
- Query Shark – This helpful website deals solely with queries and query writing. The agent who runs the site, Janet Reid, critiques queries she receives from writers who volunteer their queries for use on the site. Her critiques are a great way to learn about what does and doesn’t work in query letters.
Also, you can see my query for The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls – and my agent’s thoughts about it, and why it worked — here.
5. So what’s it like, being a full-time writer?
Well, it’s pretty much like this.
1. Who is your agent? Who is your editor?
2. Could you refer me to your agent and/or editor?
3. How did you get your agent?
See my post about my and Diana’s meet-cute, as it were, here.
4. Are you on Twitter?
Goodness, yes! I love it.
5. What about Tumblr? Pinterest? Facebook? Goodreads?
And I am of course on Goodreads! You can find me here.
6. How long have you been writing?
I wrote stories pretty consistently about horses throughout elementary school. Horses, unicorns, pegasus (pegasi?), pegacorns . . . pretty much anything vaguely horseish. That was my thing. (I also drew horses, and read about horses, and collected Grand Champion model horses, etc. etc.) You can see a few pages from said horsey — and fully illustrated! — stories here.
Then I took an extended hiatus through middle school, high school, and the first two years of college in favor of studying music. In 2006, I changed my major, started writing again, and never looked back.
7. So you don’t have a writing degree?
No. My bachelor’s degree is in English literature, and my master’s degree is in library science. I sometimes wish I had worked toward a writing degree in college; I wonder if it would have helped me develop faster as a writer. But I like who I am as a person and a writer today, and maybe I wouldn’t be that person if I’d pursued a writing degree. I’ve found there is no one correct answer or path or degree. If you want to write, you make it happen; and if you write, you are a writer.
8. You talk a lot about unicorns. Why?
Because I LOVE them. Seriously. And I always have. I go into a little more detail explaining my
obsession adoration here, but just know that my love is genuine and eternal. And when you love something that much, you can’t help but talk about it.
8a. And who is UNICORN? I see you talk about him sometimes on your blog and on Twitter.
UNICORN is my unicorn. Or, as he likes to think of it, I am his human. He is from the land of Unicornia. Would you like to know more about this magical place? Of course you would. You can also read more about my and UNICORN’s adventures here, here, here, here, and here.