Tuesday, June 25, 2013

So You Want to Read MG: Author Holly Schindler

Welcome to a special series at GreenBeanTeenQueen, So You Want To Read Middle Grade? Today's guest post is from author Holly Schindler. 

Holly is the author of two YA novels, A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt as well as the upcoming MG novel, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky (Dial). You can catch up with Holly at her MG blog, Smack Dab in the Middle.


Some backstory: I took the plunge into writing fulltime in ’01, after obtaining my master’s.  I began by writing work for adults.  Teaching music lessons to pay a few bills, though, helped me to realize how similar kids today are to the kids I grew up with—the fashion and technology changes, but the struggles don’t!  I knew I wanted to try my hand at writing for kids…and quickly realized that I also needed to reconnect with the MG genre.  Now with a MG—THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY—in development with Dial, I’ve got a few quick and dirty tips to share with those who are dipping their toes into the kid-lit waters:

1.      Read the books you remember loving as a kid.  It’s so much easier to write from the eyes of a child if you can reconnect with that child you used to be.  Books, I think, are a lot like songs—plunging back into the pages of a book you once loved, you’ll find yourself flooded with all the emotions, senses, etc. you once experienced as you read the book for the first time.  It’ll help you remember what made you love reading as a child—what you personally connected with—and you’ll also remember more vividly who you were at that age, too.

2.      Head to your library and yank covers featuring different color schemes from the shelf.  I know we’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, feel free!  Different color schemes often denote the type (or subgenre) of the MG in your hand: pink / purple is sure to be a girly escapade, while dark blues and blacks are almost certain to be indicative of a mystery.

You may have some idea of what subgenre you want to write (mystery, contemporary, etc.), but I think it’s important to read a sampling of all the subgenres out there—a book that’s in a different subgenre than your planned work will sometimes be especially helpful in really illuminating the tone or conventions of the subgenre you DO plan to write in.  (Nothing speaks louder than differences, sometimes.)

A few great authors to start with: If you’re looking for an adventure, try THE VENGEKEEP PROPHECIES, by Brian Farrey.  If it’s a mystery you’re after, snag one of the Margaret Peterson Haddix books.  Want a good boy book?  Try Geoff Rodkey’s CHRONICLES OF EGG.  Lisa Graff is a great pick for contemporary MGs.

3.      Follow my MG blog, Smack Dab in the Middle: smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com.  The announcement, “I’m going to be a writer!” isn’t often met with great excitement—in fact, it’s more often met with a roll of the eyes and a heavy sigh (if not a few chuckles).  At Smack Dab, you’ll find a fantastic group of MG authors who all blog about the writing life (and writing for kids specifically).  Smack Dab offers a great community for anyone who’s interested in writing for kids.  While a group of us blog regularly, we also feature guest posts and interviews with new authors, editors, and agents—we even interviewed a book reviewer at PW!  It’s a great place to connect with like-minded individuals, learn about the industry, and discover some fantastic new authors.

In advance, I welcome you aboard Smack Dab—and I wish you the best of luck in your writing endeavors!

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