Catherine FondrenToday marks the release of 15 emerging writers as the COMMON ROOM short story anthology, written by talented Wattpad teen writers and edited by the Freshman Fifteens, releases  exclusively on Wattpad.

2015 marks the beginning of our Freshman Fifteen debuts. As each release day comes, we will all reflect on the journey to publication–a journey that no doubt includes countless supporters. From critique partners to beta readers to agents to editors, we’ve had help getting to this place. Which is why we wanted to work with and mentor writers of the next generation.

We organized this contest to give teen writers a glimpse into the world of traditional publishing. From pitching their story, to working with us as their editors, to copy editing, to cover reveals, and finally, launch day.

Wattpad_Logo_OrangeWe couldn’t ask for a better partner in this project than Wattpad, which has cornered the market on fostering and supporting all writers, especially teens.

We interviewed and ran profiles on all of our COMMON ROOM writers. If you missed our last posts, get to know these writers by checking out the series of profiles we did on them here, here, and here. They have amazing insights into the future of YA. You won’t want to miss hearing what they–our target audience–want to see in YA books.

And please, show your support by reading the stories in the COMMON ROOM anthology and leaving a comment to encourage these writers to do what they love: keep writing.

Posted in Book Release, Writing | Tagged , , , , Comment

The complete COMMON ROOM anthology, written by Wattpad teen writers and edited by the Freshman Fifteens, will be released on Wattpad on January 27, 2015—next week!

It’s been a long time coming! We started working on this project in the summer of 2014, and the teen writers had a full fall of revising their stories. For more on the project, check out our previous posts.

Before you read their fantastic stories, we wanted to introduce you to these talented writers. For the past two weeks, we’ve highlighted ten of our COMMON ROOM authors, and this week, we bring you the final five (see previous interviews here and here).

Get to know them and their other work on Wattpad and be sure to show your support and read COMMON ROOM on January 27!

AshleyJellisonAshley Jellison, author of LEAVE THE LIGHT ON (Wattpad username: AshJellison)

Mentor: Jenny Martin, author of TRACKED, releasing May 5, 2015, from Dial/Penguin

About me: I’m an aspiring author, a hopeful actor, and a horrible dancer. I intern with Entangled Publishing, and when I’m not doing work for them or my own homework, I’m reading or writing. Sometimes you’ll even find me training for my marathon.

How did you get into writing?

I got into writing when I was really really young. I actually wrote my very first story about my dog and I sent it off to Scholastic. I stopped writing for a few years, until I got this incredible story in my head, which I thought about for years before actually writing. But I’ve started really writing again because of NaNoWriMo. Without it, I never seem to have time. I’ve just always wanted to write and I can see myself writing in the future, so I figure the best thing for me to do IS write.

What do you like to write best?

Hmmm . . . I think I like to write fantasy best. But I think I write it the worst—haha. I love writing a new world and creating things only in my mind. I actually write more in the contemporary range right now. It seems easier for me to write and make everything flow together. Sometimes I dabble in different genres, like my horror short story.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

I would like to see more platonic relationships between male and females. There are hundreds of books where the two are best of friends and then one always falls for the other. It makes it seem like they HAVE to fall in love. Definitely not true. I know Simon and Clary in The Mortal Instruments, no matter how much I love them, were so close. The best of friends. But Simon was in love with Clary for so long. I just want a story where the characters can mess around and do friend things without having romantic interests in each other. The only book where that worked for me was The Future of Us.

 

KatieSpektorKatie Spektor, author of THE VOICES IN MY HEAD (Wattpad username: KatieSpektor)

Mentor: Kim Savage, author of AFTER THE WOODS, releasing Winter 2016 from FSG/Macmillan

About me: I am homeschooled and dream of becoming a published author one day. When I’m not writing or reading, I spend my time adoring my kitten named Charlotte, who will assist me in writing by trying to eat my laptop.

How did you get into writing?

I actually got into writing when we adopted my older sister. She wrote and told stories that captivated me as a child and inspired me to be just like her. Over the years, I had stopped writing for some time until a novel idea suddenly came to me. I wrote the first chapter and showed it to my mother, who told me that I should participate in a writing event called NaNoWriMo where you write 50,000 words in thirty days. When I won it—and had a full novel under my belt—I knew that being a writer was the path for me.

I mean, really, in what other occupation can you talk to imaginary people in your head without being deemed legally insane? That’s a fabulous perk to being a writer.

What do you like to write best?

I love to write about heroines that are so flawed—so human—that it’s hard to find a positive thing about them, yet you can relate to them in so many ways. The genre I love to write in is fantasy because I can make worlds and rules completely unlike ours. But I like to experiment, too! Being a writer on Wattpad has widened my perspective on stories. I can see exactly what readers like to read and what they expect in a story. This stretches my mind to write the unexpected.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

What a difficult question! I think first I want to see unique characters. I would love to see weak protagonists who have strength in different ways, soft-spoken characters who find their voice in the world, and cowardly heroes who would much rather run than save their nation. I want to see the unusual rather than the usual. I want to see stories that aren’t afraid to stand out because they’re different. I also want to see positive stories of hope. There are so many dystopian novels out there today talking of death, destruction, and government takeover. Sure, that’s interesting to read about, but I’ve seen so many of these novels that I’m starting to believe that people are trying to predict the future rather than write simple fiction. I’m sure our government wouldn’t go so far as to put kids into a death-defying arena like The Hunger Games, but the mere thought is disconcerting.

Last (and probably most) of all, I want to see love truthfully represented and not whittled down to mere impulses based on infatuation or feeling. I want to see fiction where love isn’t fantasized to the point where it blurs reality of what love actually is. For instance, do you need to kiss someone to prove that you love them? If you don’t kiss them, does it mean that you don’t love them? (The horror! No kissing?!) From what I’ve seen in a lot of YA fiction, that seems to be the ultimate step to show love and I personally think it’s a severe misrepresentation.

 

Coralie TerryCoralie E. Terry, author of BABYSITTING GRANDMA (Wattpad username: terryco)

Mentor: Jenn Marie Thorne, author THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT, releasing March 17, 2015

About me: My name is Coralie Terry, and I am a junior Music Education major attending Berea College. I read and write in what little spare time I have and one day hope to be able to write endlessly, anything but research papers and class essays.

How did you get into writing?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to read. I love to hear stories, and I’ve come to love telling them. I have pitiful attempts that go as far back as my first grade classes, but I think my true passion for writing really began to come forward when I was entering into my eighth grade year. I started short stories and wrote plenty of poems that I hope never see the light of day, but I also found some of my closest friends today because I started writing then. I’ve grown with them both in my writing and in my life. I suppose I honestly just stumbled into writing and have only fallen deeper the older I’ve become.

What do you like to write best?

I love to write in many genres and lengths—poetry, fanfiction, short stories, etc. I think I most enjoy writing stories of longer lengths because they give me more room to build my plots, explore the worlds, and more time to play with the characters. As for genres, I particularly enjoy writing mysteries with a twinge of romance, and I love writing fairytale-like stories. On the other hand, I find myself more and more interested in realistic fiction and creative nonfiction, which is what inspired “Babysitting Grandma.”

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

Personally, I absolutely love reading fairytale retellings! I always love to see new, inventive ways to portray classic fairytales as well as original fairy tales in YA. I also enjoy Christian fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, adventures, and mysteries. Honestly, just about anything with an intriguing plot and enjoyable characters is up my alley.

 

Britton Hansen_newBritton Hansen, author of A THOUSAND STARS (Wattpad username: CutieFlutie)

Mentor: Laura Tims, author of PLEASE DON’T TELL, releasing Winter 2016 from Harper Teen/Harper Collins

About me: I’m a high school senior obsessed with playing the flute, eating frozen yogurt, and shopping for clothes I definitely don’t need. I hope to continue to pursue writing through college and beyond.

How did you get into writing?

When I was in first or second grade, I had this idea for a story. And it was called . . . wait for it . . . “Dogland.” I must have written fifty versions of it, one of them involving a giant meatball, throughout elementary school. Then I continued to write in sixth grade and eventually sort of fell out of it for a few years. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, though, all of my friends were out of town, and I had some ideas in my head that I was desperate to get out, so I searched up writing Web sites on Google, and lo and behold, found Wattpad. I’ve been writing very seriously for about two years, although it’s been a pastime and passion of mine for much longer than that, and hopefully it’ll continue to be.

What do you like to write best?

I love writing romance. I’ve got a fascination with the idea of teenage relationships, and tragedies. Recently, I’ve been attempting to branch out of the genre a little bit, and right now I’m working on an adventure story where the love is, granted, less important, but still pretty prevalent. Like most girls my age, I think, romance is a very appealing subject, and since I really only read stories with at least some sort of romantic plot, I also tend to stick to writing them, as well.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

Oh gosh, definitely more realism. The vast majority of the young adult novels that I read, especially the ones where teenage romance is involved, are extremely misleading as far as healthy relationships go. And I get that it’s called fiction for a reason, but one reason I love to read is because it prepares me for experiences I may have, at least if it’s the right sort of novel. It’s rare for me to find a book or author that I can really relate to, so when I feel that a plot is more realistic, it makes the entire reading experience more enjoyable.

 

shellyzevShelly Zevlever, author of LIBRARY OF AN OLD GHOST (Wattpad username: shellyzev)

Mentor: Jasmine Warga, author of MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES, releasing February 10, 2015

About me: I’m a lover of all things bookish. I have a part-time job at my library, am a co-blogger at Read.Sleep.Repeat, and a contributor at Adventures in YA Publishing. It’s not an understatement to say that books run my life.

 How did you get into writing?

I’m not really sure. As I wrote in my original bio for the contest, I had too many ideas that had to be written down! I started writing two years ago, but it wasn’t until this year that I actually committed to a project that I’m proud of.

What do you like to write best?

Currently, I prefer writing YA (although that’s not an actual genre). I dabbled with dystopian, but I soon realized that I like writing contemporaries the best. I’m always noticing the people around me and how they react to things around them. I sometimes just see something and immediately think “I AM TOTALLY WRITING THAT.” So that’s why I like writing contemporaries; you can twist the world around you however you want. I try to write stuff that I’d want to read, because ultimately, I’m writing for myself.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

I’d definitely love to read more books with diverse main characters, for sure! I absolutely admire the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and I will read any book with diverse characters. I’d especially love to see historical fiction and magical realism with diverse main characters.

 

A huge thank you to all our writers who have been working so hard on their short stories. Don’t forget to visit us next week for the release of COMMON ROOM!

Posted in Writing, Young Adult | Tagged Comment

The complete COMMON ROOM anthology, written by Wattpad teen writers and edited by the Freshman Fifteens, will be released on Wattpad on January 27, 2015. For more on the project, check out our previous posts.

Before you read their fantastic stories, we wanted to introduce you to these talented writers. Last week, we highlighted the first five of our COMMON ROOM authors, and this week, we bring you five more. Next week’s post will focus on the remaining five writers in our lead-up to COMMON ROOM’s release.

Get to know them and their other work on Wattpad and be sure to show your support and read COMMON ROOM on January 27!

Grace Becker, author of LOCKED OUT (Wattpad username: GracieBecker73)

Mentors: Lori Goldstein, author of BECOMING JINN, releasing April 21, 2015, from Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends, and Virginia Boecker, author of THE WITCH HUNTER, releasing June 2, 2015, from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 5.35.16 PM

About me:

I am a fourteen-year-old girl who loves to read, sing, and write. When I’m not writing, I am participating in Show Choir and hanging out with my best friends.

 

How did you get into writing?

I have always loved writing, but I never really started writing for fun until seventh grade. That was when I met one of my current best friends, Parisa (Wattpad user @parisar27). Her openness and love for writing was contagious! I would never have even entered this contest if it weren’t for her! :)

What do you like to write best?

I love to write action! I don’t know why, but it has always come easily to me.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

I love how it is right now! However, young adult fiction can sometimes move too quickly through the coolest parts of the story, which bugs me a bit.

 

Julia, author of ATTACHMENT (Wattpad username: afterlightt)

Mentor: Charlotte Huang, author of FOR THE RECORD, releasing Fall 2015 from Delacorte

julia crews

About me:

My name is Julia, and I am fifteen years old. I love reading and writing, and I hope someday to be a published author. I’m also an editor of my school’s newspaper and a member of a dance company outside of school.

How did you get into writing? 

I’ve always loved reading, but I didn’t start to love writing until middle school. I wrote a piece in memory of my seventh-grade social studies teacher, who passed away the summer before I started eighth grade. My English teacher then sent it out to the other teachers who knew him well. I got all of these letters back from them saying how much they loved the piece. This was the first time I realized that my writing could mean something to other people. This experience inspired me to write more on my own outside of school and I’m glad I did! Since then I’ve written a lot of short stories and even a full-length novel, which I am currently rewriting. This contest was such an amazing opportunity, and I’ve learned so much from my mentor, Charlotte Huang.

What do you like to write best?

I like to write anything with characters that I truly care about. I like getting into the character’s head and writing from another point of view. How a character sees the world is often different from how I see it.

What would you like to see more of in Young Adult fiction?

Definitely more diversity!

 

Aisha R. author of IMAGINE (Wattpad user name: Metaphorphosis)

Mentor: Lee Kelly, author of CITY OF SAVAGES, releasing February 3, 2015, from Simon & Schuster/Saga Press

Aisha

How did you get into writing?

Wow. Big question.

To be honest, I never really thought I ever “got into writing.” It was something inevitable for me, something that I would grow up into, just as a human being grows from speaking child gibberish to articulating their thoughts as an adult.

I have always been a storyteller—was born a storyteller and will always be a storyteller. It’s what I live and breathe twenty-four/seven. As a child, I would press my cousins and friends into make-believe service and force them (though I hope they enjoyed it J) to play in the elaborate story plots and landscapes I’d created in my head, ranging from masquerading as international school spies, to navigating stuffed animal-filled jungles, to pretending to be various types of cells journeying through the human body. It was all that I wanted to do as a kid.

On the days when I didn’t have them around, I would dedicate myself to arts and crafts, cutting out paper dolls and houses and beds and cutlery for the houses and all sorts of little things for me to be able to play make-believe with. Any outlet for enacting the stories in my head was one that I would try my best to explore.

And so it was natural that once I’d learned how to write the most basic sentences needed to convey a story that I would try to write a book. When I was seven, I wrote my first miniature storybook, titled “Minus Mysteries” (a name that I thought was most clever for its alliteration). Once I’d tried out writing a story and had to read it to my sister and parents, I couldn’t get enough. Writing quickly became an obsession. I learned how to type on the computer so that I could make my novels longer and more elaborate. It was the most fun way, I discovered, to delve into my love of storytelling.

When I reached seventh grade, I became serious about pursing writing as something that I wanted to do in my future and began writing full-length novels with intricate plot arcs. When I reached junior year in high school, I began to actually explore the writing industry to see how I could somehow make that dream come true. I’m still on that path to discovery, though I doubt that I will limit myself to just that realm of writing.

Like I said, my greatest love in the world is storytelling—but that’s in all its forms. I’m currently trying to explore another great passion of mine—film—and realize the great dream I have of screenwriting or storyboarding for movies, making the stories in my head actually come to life. It would be an absolute dream come true to work at Pixar or DreamWorks, making infectious, heartfelt animation movies for children.

But that’s another story, for another day. J

What do you like to write best?

Haha, alas . . . I could never tie myself down to one genre. What I prefer to write at this particular moment in time is contingent on so many factors, especially the growth that I am going through as a person. I cannot say whether in the future I would like to delve into adult fiction or literary fiction as a maturing mind, but as of now, I can say what main factors will always exist in the stories that I write.

  • Characters with strong deviations from social, political, and behavioral norms/constrictions in the current society in which they live (funnily enough though, I have yet to write a dystopian piece).
  • Characters with a very defined sense of self that empowers them to move through their stories and the conflicts therein, hopefully empowering both the characters around them and the readers reading.
  • Fully fleshed out characters who are direct human representations, with physical and internal flaws, quirks, and manners of behaving/thinking, that make them that much more relatable to the reader. I need them to be as normal and as far away from “normal” as possible.
  • An intricate plot, created to question and challenge the very core beliefs or self-actualizations of the main characters. A plot that continues to surprise the reader with every turn of the page.
  • Dialogue with a very realistic grounding and thorough emotional link to the readers.
  • An elaborate world constructed on the basis of logic, adventure/allure, and with characteristics intended to bring about change in the reader.
  • Easy communication in understanding, action, plot, characters, dialogue—the whole shebang. I always want the novel to get its point across, mentally and emotionally.
  • And I can’t emphasize this well enough: characters who are human, not 2D representations of ideals, or (unintended) caricatures.

Those characteristics are “what I like to write best.” Although, I’d honestly say that they’re more of what I look for in books while reading; my readers are the ones who can properly say whether or not I’ve even managed to achieve any of these characteristics in my novels. If any novel has these though, I’m good to go—be it a science fiction, fantasy, realistic fiction, romance, dystopian, historical fiction (or any other type of fiction). Right now, I’ll be honest in saying that the main genre where I’ve been able to find, more or less, all of these characteristics is in young adult fiction (simply for the unadulterated emotional translation) and so that’s where my current writing projects tend to house themselves. That might be just a result of where I am age-wise, though.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

Hmm . . . well I guess, first of all—characters who aren’t afraid to be different and be themselves in their differences. It’s a ridiculous notion to divide the spectrum of character traits down the middle and house all of the “preferred” ones with one character (for example, the physical traits of beauty often attributed to the “mean girl’\”) and all of the “negative” ones with another (for example, the traits of instability often ascribed to, say, “emo” characters), when the human race is simply not representative of that. Each human being has their own experiences with perfection, instability, and all other facets of living that make us human.

But too often in literature, especially in commercialized young adult literature, I see this imbalance of personality traits and it honestly drives me further away from connecting on an emotional level with the protagonist/characters of a story. Often, these characters are ones who are a bit too concentrated in certain areas, and that stagnates their growth as human beings in the novel. I abhor seeing the classic young adult stereotypes of the “good girl” and “bad boy” stick figures that have become so commonplace on Wattpad. I have yet to ever meet people like those in real life. It detracts from the life of the characters when they’re made so artificially and superficially. To be honest, the only novel where I’ve completely connected with characters as human beings—human beings who grow and change and act as humanly as possible—is in Harry Potter, and the characters aren’t even technically human!

I feel that we need to achieve that level of realism, especially in some (of my favorite) genres, such as fantasy and science fiction, where so much effort is given to constructing the world that the plain humanness of the characters is left neglected.

Another big turnoff when reading is seeing a fantasy novel cover with a gorgeous girl in a gorgeous dress on the front. It’s the only time when I judge a book by it’s cover because it shows to me, through the psychology of commercialism, exactly what values the novel strives to achieve. And they’re often not in accordance with mine.

So that’s what I’d like to see more of in the YA department—less ideals of humanity and simply more humans.

 

Anne Brees, author of HONESTLY (Wattpad username: AnneBrees)

Mentor: Stacey Lee, author of UNDER A PAINTED SKY, releasing March 17, 2015, from Putnam/Penguin

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 5.38.41 PM

About me:

I’m a fourteen-year-old writer who loves hot chocolate, window seats, lame puns, and rainy days.

How did you get into writing?

I’ve always had a story to tell. In elementary school, I filled a little, blue notebook with handwritten stories. By fifth grade, I had created an imaginary, evil twin sister and filled another notebook with all the crazy things she did, robbing a bank included. However, I didn’t begin to write seriously until about a year and a half ago. Through writing, I explore new ideas, sort out my thoughts, and simply escape. When I’m not writing or reading a story, I’m thinking about one.

What do you like to write best?

I’m still experimenting with many genres and I haven’t found my favorite yet. I love all the imagination and freedom that comes with writing dystopian, science fiction, and fantasy. The twisting plots and complex villains of mystery captivate me. A dark contemporary is something I’ve wanted to try. My attempts at writing anything romantic, though, make me cringe. I enjoy bringing diverse characters to life. However, some tend to take over my plot and make decisions about their own fate.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

I want young adult fiction books that are filled with deeper meanings, not superficial clichés. I want to cry over the loss of something beautiful and laugh at the antics of a true friendship. As characters fall in love, I want to fall in love with them. A book should teach me about people and the world around me. It should change the way I think. The best books always make me forget I’m reading and stay with me long after I turn the final page.

 

Christina Im, author of DESTINATA (Wattpad username: wordshipwrecks)

Mentor: Kim Liggett, author of BLOOD AND SALT, releasing Fall 2015 from Putnam/Penguin

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 5.45.52 PM

About me:

Christina Im is a wordsmith, armed and dangerous, and a teenager in her spare time. You can visit her online at fairyskeletons.blogspot.com.

How did you get into writing?

I got into writing the way a vast majority of writers do: reading. From the very beginning of elementary school until now, I read so much I thought I would burst, and in third grade, I took up writing. After that year, though, my need to write sort of faded away, and I didn’t really reconnect with it until seventh grade. That year, I halfheartedly participated in the glorious madness that is NaNoWriMo and racked up around 30,000 words on a thoroughly awful middle grade fantasy that I hope never sees the light of day. But that release was what I needed; now I’ve realized how terrifyingly important writing is to me, and I’m trying my darnedest to finish a young adult work in progress called On the Midnight Streets.

What do you like to write best?

Definitely anything with magic in it is very much my style, and I’m much more comfortable in speculative fiction than I am in anything realistic or historical. Magic that evokes strong feelings and makes passions flare up—curses and contracts and the like—is my favorite kind, and what I love most about it is that complicated play between it and the people it affects.

I also like to think that I have sort of a storytelling backbone that runs through all of my writing. Girl power is a big underlying framework for me. Anything feminist. Anything where I can write nuanced female characters who have the courage to be strong and weak in different ways, where I can give girls and women the moral complexities and power they deserve. Anything where I can write positive female friendships. Anything where I can turn any and every archetype or preconception about girls on its head. Retellings of fairy tales and myths work right into this, as well as my love of magic, and predictably, I write a lot of them. I really value aesthetics as well. Everything I write is very deliberately meant to have its own feel and color and taste. For example, “Destinata,” my story in the COMMON ROOM anthology, was written with ash and water and burning sweetness in mind, and I did whatever was in my power to get that visceral, unique combination of sensations across. (This is partly my excuse for using Pinterest so much, but I digress.) On a broader scale, though, the characters are always what get me excited. People and their flaws are my reason for writing.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

I’ve been shouting this out whenever I get the chance: diversity, diversity, diversity. Representation for every minority conceivable. This has only recently become a huge topic of discussion, thanks to the efforts of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, and it’s a cause that’s very close to my heart. The sight of non-majority narratives on bookshelves really is more powerful than any of us can truly understand, and I know for sure, as a Korean person myself, that it’s such a wonderful surprise to find books about other Korean people, simply because it’s such a rare and precious occurrence. I really believe that seeing people in books helps us accept them, so that’s a big thing on my mental YA wish list.

Also, I’m always on the lookout for great speculative fiction. Always.

 

Posted in Publishing, Reading, Writing, Young Adult | Tagged , Comment

We wrote books! We got agents! We sold books! Yay!

Um, now what?

That’s how the Freshman Fifteens felt for most of 2013 when we first formed our debut group. And then came 2014. The “now what?” became “oh, that and that and that and THAT” as we navigated our first forays into the publishing world. Working with agents, editors, cover designers, copyeditors, marketing, and sales departments opened our eyes to all that goes into getting one little book out into the world.

We wanted to not just share this experience with up-and-coming writers; we wanted to GIVE them this experience. So we did. We organized a contest with the online platform of Wattpad exclusively for teen writers.

They pitched us their short stories, we read through the “slush pile” of amazing ideas, and we picked one writer to mentor through the process of having a story published (picking just one was HARD; so much talent).

We put this group of writers through the paces, and they learned, just like we did, what it’s like to write a story, go through editorial revisions (multiple rounds), and balance it all to end up with the very best version possible of their work.

The complete COMMON ROOM anthology, written by Wattpad teen writers and edited by the Freshman Fifteens, will be released on Wattpad on January 27, 2015.

Before you read their fantastic stories, we wanted to introduce you to these authors. We’ll be highlighting five of our COMMON ROOM authors for the next three weeks in the lead-up to the January 27 anthology release.

Get to know them and their other work on Wattpad and be sure to show your support and read COMMON ROOM on January 27!

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 5.29.11 PMMorgan Lloyd, Author of A POISONED PEAR (Wattpad username: Arminius)

Mentor: Chandler Baker, author of ALIVE, releasing June 9, 2015, from Disney-Hyperion

About me:

I’m Morgan, alias Arminius on Wattpad, and I am nothing more than a wanderer on the waysides of life. I’m a drummer, a dreamer, an artist, a runner, an aspirant to publication someday, and a pretty chill dude all around.

How did you get into to writing?

This is going to sound cheesy, but I’ve been into writing for as long as I can remember. Most of my earliest stories, like around age four, were dictated to my mom and revolved around Thomas the Tank Engine, but I consider that writing. Or at least storytelling, which is more or less the same thing. But I began to actually think about writing around fourth grade, which progressed into actually writing around seventh grade. So the short answer is seventh grade.

What do you like to write best?

I traditionally have loved to write fantasy, and I still do. I have a passion for mythology, so I tend to write stories based off myths or folklore. It used to be I just would have answered fantasy to that question, but I’ve just discovered historical fiction and I’ve thrown around ideas for a few historical stories. I’ve written a few realistic fiction stories, too, but the inspiration usually seems to strike me in fantastical/historical ways. Science fiction is something I’ve always wanted to write, but now I don’t think that’ll happen. I’m not ruling out any genre yet, though.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

This may be an unpopular opinion of sorts, but I’d like to see first and foremost more believable characterization in young adult books. That means less token romances, less angst for the sake of angst (apparently there are no therapists in the young adult world), less unreasonable anger. I’m not against romance or depression when it’s done well, and it certainly can be, but I feel that a lot of young adult books are driven by a romantic, passionate ideal of what a person should be, which frankly turns me off. And a lot of young adult books have romance shoehorned in, which again turns me off. (I’m not the target audience for that sort of writing, of course, but it still makes me mad.) I appreciate how hard characterization is, and this very thing is one of the major things I struggle with, but I feel that unrealistic characterization is one of the reasons young adult gets maligned as a genre. I also want to see more funny books, but I think that’s just me.

Anne LutzAnne Lutz, author of LOSING VIOLET (Wattpad username: AnneLutz)

Mentor: Jen Brooks, author of IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT, releasing April 28, 2015, from Simon & Schuster for Young Readers

About me:

Anne Lutz is a nineteen-year-old author, residing in the beautiful state of Idaho. She is currently in her sophomore year of college, where she is studying to become a creative writing and book editor.

How did you get into to writing?

Like many writers, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I became interested in writing. My parents read to me often as a child, and to this day, I have strong memories of my dad reading the Harry Potter series to me, long before I understood what they were about. When I was eight, I started writing for the first time. The stories were terrible, ranging from anecdotes of a girl playing dress up to cruise ships wrecking on mysterious islands. They were boring and poorly written, never making it past the first chapter. Nonetheless, these stories lit a spark in my imagination that continues its burn today.

What do you like to write best?

My first completed novel came at the age of seventeen, followed shortly by another. That summer, I went to a writer’s conference in Seattle, a wonderful opportunity that eventually led to a writing contract with a New York literary agency. I have since written two additional novels and won two short story contests (including this lovely one by the Freshman Fifteens). My two initial works are based in dystopian worlds, but the latter two are both contemporary. I love writing young adult fiction, regardless of the subgenre. At the moment, I am intrigued by romance-suspense novels, as they provide a greater challenge and a page-turning read.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

As for my thoughts on the evolving young adult genre, I cannot say what I hope to see next. I love the diversity of young adult with its many subgenres; however, I feel there is a strong lack of male POV in today’s market. It would be nice to see more books, such as In a World Just Right coming soon from Jen Brooks, published with a male perspective. Along those same lines, I would love to see books with themes based in gender equality and anti-sexism. Young adult books hold great influence over today’s society, and I would love to see heavier themes delivered in appropriate ways.

 

MakeMeSwoonReza, author of MIXED MESSAGES (Wattpad username: MakeMeSwoon)

Mentor: Jen Brooks, author of IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT, releasing April 28, 2015, from Simon & Schuster for Young Readers

About me:

A girl who loves to write.

 

How did you get into writing?

I got into writing when I saw my sister (well, twin) and one of her friends co-writing a story together around sixth (or seventh) grade. They created sketches of their characters, outlined the story by chapters, and hand wrote it in a journal during the school day. Afterward, they’d take turns typing it up at home. It was inspiring to see how writing made them happy. So somewhere along the way, I got myself a notebook and started writing. Back then, I didn’t type up my stories since I typed very slowly and the only person I felt comfortable sharing my stories with was my sister—my first reader. Not only did she encourage me, she told me how I could improve my writing and to this day, she has kept up to date with all my stories.

What do you like to write best?

I don’t have a strong preference in what I like to write right now. Currently, I’m challenging myself to write different genres, to create a broad range of characters, and to try different perspectives to find out what I like to write best. However, to give a gist of what I like to write, in a less general term, I like to write stories with romance as a subplot. No matter what I’m writing, 93 percent of the time, it’ll have some sort of romance—whether it is strongly hinted or not.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

This is for sure a tricky question that I have wondered and discussed a few times before in the past. And to be frank, I don’t really know how to phrase it so I apologize in advance if my answer isn’t clear. What I’d like to see more of in YA fiction, as a reader, is to see how characters handle relatable situations, how it affects them (internally and externally), how they deal with it realistically, how the consequences of their decision affect them afterward. This is because I love reading about a character’s journey and the more “in love” with the character I am, the more satisfied I feel with the story at the end. Even if sometimes the character doesn’t handle these situations “appropriately,” discussing it and trying to understand the character is something I look forward to when I finish the story. It opens my mind to new ways of handling various situations and gives me new perspective to life.

Kelly's Mentee

Antara G. Roy, author of THE MARRIED TREE (Wattpad username: _coralsky_

Mentor: Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of CONVICTION, releasing May 19, 2015, from Disney-Hyperion

 How did you get into writing?

I have been writing ever since I was thirteen. Back then, I wrote a story about a girl who had powers of God but was actually human. It reached about 20,000 words and then I quit. When I was fifteen, we had this poetry writing competition at school. I won the third prize, but then the teacher told me I had plagiarized a song and I was a cheater. I seriously got a big blow that day because I had no idea which song she was talking about. I am really sensitive about my writing and I almost stopped after that, but fast-forward two years and Wattpad happened. I have started writing again. Slowly but steadily.

What do you like to write best?

I like to write mystery thriller specially psychological or with a humorous twist.Short story is another favourite

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

I would like to see more psychological teen-based thriller or horror dystopias. No one writes that.

 

Rachel WangRachel Wang, author of SOULLESS (Wattpad username = chandelier)

Mentor: Lori Goldstein, author of BECOMING JINN, releasing April 21, 2015, from Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends

About me: My passions include chocolate ice cream, reading YA fiction, and dogs. Oh and writing. But I’m guessing you already knew that.

How did you get into writing?

To be honest, I really have no idea. It seems to have been a little bit of everything that inspired me—the comic books I drew in second grade, the creative writing projects I did for English, the scripts I wrote for drama . . . I always loved to write, especially fictitious short stories. It just wasn’t until I was in fifth grade when I decided that I absolutely had to write a murder mystery featuring Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth under the covers at night. (It remains unfinished at 23,000 words.)

Rick Riordan’s quote influenced me quite a bit as well and still continues to: “Write something you’d like to read.”

What do you like to write best?

My taste fluctuates between whatever I’ve read recently! If I’ve just finished an awesome, action-packed story like Legend by Marie Lu, then you can bet that I’ll try my hand at action! And then I’ll realize that I really can’t write action. So I’ll go back to my main three loves: contemporary romance, science fiction, and fantasy! (But I’ll read and write anything.)

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

Mostly character-oriented things! I’d love to see some parents. I know that it’s definitely easier to have parents magically disappear (I’m totally guilty of this myself!), but I find I can relate ten times more to the character when they have actual struggles that I myself having to face. (Think Unearthly by Cynthia Hand!) And possibly some better relationships between female characters, like less slut-shaming and some intelligent conversations that aren’t about guys.

Lastly, diverse characters rock!

 

 

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Freshman Fifteens author Victoria Aveyard  chatted with fellow Freshman Laura Tims to find out more about her forthcoming debut, Please Don’t Tell (HarperCollins, Winter 2016).

LauraJuly.
Joy discovers the reason why her twin sister won’t leave the house. His name is Adam Gordon.

August.
Everyone thinks Adam’s death was an accident. Only Joy knows that it’s her fault.

September.
Guilt is eating Joy alive, her sister’s still not okay, and one day she gets a note:

“I know you killed Adam Gordon. Unless you do what I want, so will everyone else.” –Red

How did you first come up with the idea for PLEASE DON’T TELL?

It was when the Steubenville rape case was circulating in the media, and like a lot of people, it brought up feelings of rage and helplessness. I saw a lot of online comments from people with dark fantasies of killing someone who’d raped them or their friends. In many ways I think that kind of anger is unavoidable, and even a natural part of healing, but I wondered what would happen if someone actually went through with it – and what the emotional consequences would be.

You wrote and sold your first novel at a very young age (congrats!). What are the pros and cons of exploding out of the gate so early? How did you balance college and and a career?

It was less of a balancing act and more of a swapping act. One month my writing would suffer, one month my grades would. I had some very understanding professions. As far as pros and cons go, I’d say it’s tricky feeling like you have to solidify and build your brand when you’re still taking huge leaps of growth as a writer. Pros…I’m not sure! I imagine it’s just as exciting at any age!

What do you feel is your strongest suit, writing-wise? Weakest?

That’s always such a difficult question to answer! Since my instinctive answer veers toward dramatically deciding I’m a failure at everything, I’ll think about what I enjoy most. I really love getting into the nitty-gritty of character, all the dark stuff that rarely gets to see light.

You’re a bit of a world traveler. Favorite vacation/place to visit?

I visited Tibet on a study abroad trip about a year and a half ago, and it was one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen. I also spent part of the spring in Japan, and ate my weight in sushi!

You’ve got another book coming out in 2017, THE BEST THING ABOUT PAIN. How was the journey to Book 2?

Mostly it’s just a lot of fun seeing how much you’ve grown between books, and putting that new experience into your writing. And there’s nothing more exciting than getting to know a new set of characters.

What’s up next for you?

Not sure! I’m working on a couple things here and there. I love Middle Grade literature as well as YA, and I’m hoping to try my hand at that.

1501817_10151891721342759_2084006540_nLaura is a YA author, blogger, college student, and former literary agency intern. Her goal is to someday be able to cook things that are delicious and not lethal. She lives in San Diego with her cat, who is smarter than her. Laura’s favorite word is crepuscular. Her least favorite word is feisty.

Laura is represented by the amazing part-unicorn, part fairy-godmother Sarah Davies at the Greenhouse Literary Agency. You can find Laura online:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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Over here at the Freshman Fifteens most of us have completed deadlines for our first books. Those initial crunch times were fraught with trying first-timer experiences and fears of whether we could really, truly turn our beloved manuscripts into real, live books. We gladly let our deadlines turn us into crazy monster-beasts (or, wait, was that just me?)  in our quest to impress our new editors.

Now, as most of us round upon our deadlines for book 2, we’re still crazy, but we at least know what to look for and what to expect when it comes to morphing into monster-beasts. After all, self-awareness is the first step toward personal evolution, am I right? I’m writing to you on Day One of my next deadline when I can just feel the cusps of my monster-beast horns beginning to sprout from my soon-to-be oily head and I can see the signs of what’s to come.

So without further delay, here are 5 signs that you’re on deadline:

(1) You are wearing your deadline sweatpants. These are not normal sweatpants. Oh no! These are special sweatpants that only come out when all shame has gone out the window. These have holes and are three sizes too big and drag on the floor when you shuffle off the couch for another glass of tea and Oreo cookies.

(2) You can’t see your sink faucet anymore because the dishes are piled so high. Does your kitchen look like a war zone? Are you stuffing another pizza box in an already full trashcan so that you don’t have to take the trash out? Yes? Well, then signs are good. You are probably on deadline.

(3) You have given up any semblance of a beauty regimen.  People might think your hair is wet. Let them. Only you have to know it’s just greasy. And hey, so what if yesterday’s eyeliner has wound up somewhere above your eyebrow? You could be starting the next trend to follow the cat eye. You never know. Besides, no one is around to see you anyway. You “misplaced” your Fitbit for the duration of the deadline and count walking to and from the Oreos as adequate, if not downright rigorous, physical activity for the day.

(4) You are having a meltdown.  The Meltdown is the surest of the surest signs that you are in the midst of a deadline. The Meltdown builds and builds until you know you can no sooner stop it from coming than you could plug the Hoover dam with your pinky finger. Personally, I generally have only one Meltdown per deadline. There are other meltdowns, but those are different. Those can happen in really bad traffic on my way home from work. You’ll recognize the Meltdown by looking in the mirror and finding a reflection of your ugly cry face. Try not to flinch. It only makes things worse.

(5) You are awake at 3 AM. You are not in college. You have not been drinking even though your eyes are red and bloodshot and you are talking nonsense. You are continuously coaxing yourself, “Just this one more thing I have to do then…” And now you know, this is the end of the deadline and you are in a full-on, manic sprint to the finish. I can do this one, maybe two, nights before I must sleep like I am literally dead. It is even less pretty than the Meltdown.

The truth is, nobody would indulge this sort of craziness for anything less than a passion and it’s because we love what we do so much that we’re willing to let this thing that we love consume us for a few weeks or a few months at a time. It’s simultaneously the worst and also the best but, in the end, it’s so so worth it.

Tell us: What are your signs that you’re on deadline?

 

 

Chandler Baker_biopicChandler Baker is a twenty-something lawyer, author of young adult and middle grade fiction, and dedicated nerdfighter. She graduated law school from the University of Texas in Austin and undergraduate from the University of Pennsylvania. Fun fact: Chandler graduated early so she could take time off and try her hand at this whole writing thing. So far, so good. Chandler likes morbid facts, watching scary movies through her fingers, Thai food, Eminem, and very high heels.

You can find Chandler online: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

 

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Yup. It’s the time of year for reflection and to give thanks. Debut authors have a lot to be thankful for. Trust me, I think about this all the time. There are the big-picture moments when you get perspective on how far the journey has taken you.

Ksav ancient timelineLike when you come across timelines from really, really early, really, really bad, drafts.

 

 

 

 

 

ksav scbwicardWhen you find your very first SCBWI membership card.

 

 

 

 

 

And when you open an old journal and find a New Year’s resolution to finish the book and land the agent.

Then there are the day-to-day blessings.

ksav coffecupThe coffee shop to which you owe your executive functions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ksav pressfield quoteThe writing partners who share bits of timely wisdom that you return to again and again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ksav room of ones ownAnd a room of one’s own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are other things. Preternaturally wise editors and agents. Patient spouses who in another age might be called patrons of the arts. Office supplies, wrist splints, noise-canceling headphones. Wasabi peas.

But what I’m really thankful for is the gift of a vocation instead of a job. That’s one I don’t take lightly. Writing is a calling. Writers don’t think about things like retirement. Vacations without writing time make them restless. They rub their hands together at the Saturday-night cancellation, because it means more time to write.

When I got the call, I almost didn’t answer. Life was hectic: my oldest son has a chronic disease that requires an all-consuming vigilance. And the younger two were, well, young. But then I went to my first SCBWI conference, where Cindy Lord, who won a Newbery Honor for RULES, was the keynote speaker.

Cindy doesn’t know this, but she made me answer the call.

For those of you who haven’t read RULES, it’s about a girl whose brother is autistic, and the dynamics are inspired in part by Cindy’s own daughter and son. The only time she had to write RULES was a few short hours in the very early morning, before her son woke. It would have been easy to quit, easy to convince herself that now was not the time. But Cindy said: “I had to do it or stop wanting it.”

I knew I would never stop wanting it. Ah ha.

So Cindy, I am grateful to you, along with my Freshman Fifteen sisters, many of whom have their own thankables this holiday season:

Chandler Baker is thankful for her Mac Air nicknamed Macaulay Culkin (this may be the first thing she’d save in a fire), hot tea, and the Freshman Fifteens for keeping her sane.

Virginia Boecker is thankful for work: for the privilege of being able to put words to paper (or, screen). She’s also thankful for her amazing, talented, can’t-do-this-without-them writer friends, and for her can’t-do-anything-without-them family.

Jen Brooks is thankful for full-day kindergarten, brilliant critique partners, and the wonderful community of YA readers and writers.

Kelly Loy Gilbert is thankful for all the wonderful people in her life, the online writing community, and lots and lots of chocolate to keep her company on late nights writing.

Lori Goldstein is thankful for the supportive community of Kid Lit writers that is so welcoming and nurturing to newbies. She’s had the opportunity to ask several authors for advice of late and they have been more than generous with their time. She’s also thankful for the support of her editors and publisher as BECOMING JINN approaches its release date. Oh, and she’s freakin’ ecstatically thankful that this season of The Vampire Diaries is kicking major butt.

Charlotte Huang is thankful for Kind Bars, stretchy pants and holidays.

Lee Kelly is thankful for old Halloween candy (which she is eating by the fistful as she chugs towards her revision deadline), the Millburn Library, and her toddler –The Great Master of Writing Distraction Penn Kelly.

Stacey Lee is thankful for mothers who watch her children so she can write, techie husbands, and the Mayans for inventing chocolate.

Kim Liggett is thankful for her writing friends–writing is freaking hard–they make it almost tolerable.

Jenny Martin is thankful for her Grandmother Joy’s hot rolls, her Grandmother Joy’s table, and for all the good times her family’s had sitting around it (love you, gma…).

Jenn Marie Thorne is thankful for a writing spot in her back garden, surrounded by ripe fruit trees; the impending delivery of DRAGON AGE: INQUISITION (her reward once her revision is done); and the support of her bookish buddies.

Laura Tims is thankful for pizza, cats, and people who give good book recommendations on Twitter.

What are some things you’re thankful for? Let us know in the comments!

Kim Savage 2Kim Savage is the author of AFTER THE WOODS, a debut psychological thriller for young adults coming in Winter 2016 with Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan. THESE ARE THE NOTES YOU DIDN’T GET, also with FSG/Macmillan, comes out in 2017. She is working on her third novel. Before writing fiction, she worked as a business journalist, pitching stories along the lines of “Stigmatized Properties: When Murder Kills Property Values”. You get the idea.

 

 

 

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Freshman Fifteens author Jen Brooks  chatted with fellow Freshman Jasmine Warga to find out more about her forthcoming debut, My Heart and Other Black Holes (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, February 10, 2015).

MHAOBHSixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

I’m getting higher and higher and I feel the swing set creak.

“Be careful,'” he says.

“Why?” I’m not thinking about being careful. I’m thinking about one last push, of letting go, of flying, and of falling.

‘”You aren’t allowed to die without me,” he whispers.

 

My Heart and Other Black Holes is about two teenagers who meet online with the intent of finding a suicide partner. What was the origin of your idea for this story?

This question is always so hard to answer. I guess the most honest answer is I’m not entirely sure. I started writing this book during a dark period in my life and I woke up one morning and had this voice in my head. I typed the sentence: “The way I figure it, everyone has a hobby and mine is planning my own death.” And everything else sort of flowed from there. That sentence is no longer the book’s first line—it actually doesn’t exist anywhere in the book—but it definitely was my gateway into Aysel and her mental state. I also think the book was born from thinking a lot about the darkness that exists inside all of us, and how as society we often refuse to acknowledge it. I was interested in how we bury so much inside ourselves and how we only rarely share those emotions with other people. I’m also fascinated by how certain people make us see ourselves differently, and furthermore, the gap that often exists between the way we see ourselves versus how other people in our lives see us. So I guess this book was a way for me to explore all that and more.

I have to admit that I was in tears while reading most of your novel. My heart simply broke for Aysel and all the pain she was feeling. What was it like for you to write her character? Did you find it more or less difficult to tell Roman’s likewise heartbreaking story since he was 1) a boy, and 2) not a POV character?

Well, thank you so much! I’m touched that you were that affected by Aysel’s story. To be honest, in some ways Roman’s story was even harder for me to tell because I had to dig deeper to understand him. Aysel came to me almost fully formed, but Roman was more of a mystery. I can’t say very much because I don’t want to reveal too many plot points, but Roman’s backstory almost hurts my heart even more than Aysel’s because of his very raw guilt.

Not only is the subject of depression a part of this book, but Aysel’s father commits an unspeakable crime as the result of mental illness. Do you have any training in the field of psychology? What kind of research did you have to do to write this book?

I definitely don’t! And I actually didn’t do much research, and instead I mostly wrote from my own emotional truth. Depression affects everyone differently, so I didn’t set out to write some sort of blanket or declarative statement about depression. Rather, I wanted to tell a story about people, real people, who happen to suffer from depression, both situational and chemical. I wanted to explore the murky boundaries between chemical and situational depression, as well as depression’s genetic legacy. That said, my editor did have the manuscript reviewed by a professional psychiatrist and we were both really pleased when the expert said that he found the book to be an accurate, authentic, and responsible depiction of depression and suicidal ideation.

What was your favorite scene to write in My Heart and Other Black Holes? and/or What scene was most challenging to write?

Oh, wow. I’m not sure. I think the most challenging part to write for sure was the ending. I rewrote it at least twenty times before selling the book, and my editor and I worked even more on it after that. My favorite scene? Probably Mike’s (Aysel’s little brother) birthday party. I felt really emotionally gutted while writing that scene and it made me think so much about family, especially the inherent bonds we have with our siblings. It surprised me while I was writing it, and surprise, I think, is one of the most rewarding feelings you can get while creating something.

Why do you write in the “contemporary” genre?

Oh, I don’t know! I want to write all types of things. This story in particular works as a contemporary novel since it’s about depression and love and identity and immigration and all of these things that are very rooted in our real, modern world. But I’m also very interested in playing around with all types of genre. To me, the story chooses the genre and I’m much more interested in story than I am in genre.

What books would you recommend to young adults looking for good stories in the contemporary genre?

Jandy Nelson! Both of her books—The Sky is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun. Her writing is pure magic. I also love A.S. King’s work (do they count as contemporary? I know they have a surrealist quality to them…), Sherman Alexie, and Lauren Oliver (again, I know she writes in all sorts of genres, but her contemporary YA books are fantastic). My two favorite YA books as an actual teen were Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat and Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower And also everyone should read Natalie Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Read! And walk my wild, crazy dog. And snuggle my precious cat. And drink too much coffee and wonder why I’m so terrible at yoga.

Who are some of your favorite authors? OR What are some of your favorite books?

Oh, well I named so many of my favorites in question #6. But other favorite authors include Junot Diaz and Margaret Atwood. I’m also obsessed with Adrienne Rich, Frank O’Hara, and Sylvia Plath’s poetry. And We Need to Talk About Kevin is a book I haven’t stopped thinking about since I read it, as is The Hours. Finally, I’m reading Americanah right now and I’m pretty sure it will go on my favorites ever list.

What has been your greatest challenge as you travel the road of traditional publishing? Your greatest reward?

I think my greatest challenge has been, and still is, staying out of my own head. I tend to second guess everything and so I’m constantly having to work on handling my own anxiety. My greatest reward has been getting to meet so many wonderful people–other writers, my brilliant editor, my wonderful agent–who all love books and have been so welcoming to me.

Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now?

Eee! I’m playing around with a bunch of things, but I guess in the most simple of terms the answer to the above question would be that I’m working on another dark love story. It’s still in such a fragile state that I don’t want to say too much and jinx it because I’m not entirely sure what it is yet.

What advice would you give to other writers? Anything specifically for teen writers?

Write! I know that sounds simple, but really that’s my advice. Write, write, write. Writing, like anything, is something you only get better at by doing all the time for a really long time. Also, take risks. Write the types of stories you wish you saw on the shelves and don’t worry so much about what other people will think about it. Remember you’re not only the story’s writer, but also the first reader. Write for your inner reader. Be vulnerable. Be honest.

If someone reading this interview is wrestling with the question of suicide, or knows or suspects that someone they know is wrestling with the question of suicide, where can they go for help?

First, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always open: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). I’m also a huge fan of the website/community, To Write Love On Her Arms. They do wonderful work and provide great resources. But most importantly, I think if you’re in that place, you need to find a way to verbalize how you are feeling to SOMEONE. Maybe that person is a friend, a parent, a guidance counselor, a teacher, a significant other–you need to find a way to communicate how you are feeling because sometimes just opening up about it makes all the difference.

 JWYearbookJasmine lives and writes in a small town a few miles outside of Cincinnati. She likes animals of all sorts (especially her cat Salvador and her puppy, Scout), surrealist sketches, iced coffee, the night sky, old swing sets, lemonade, and rainy mornings.

You can find Jasmine online: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

 

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When the Freshman Fifteens first met online back in the summer of 2013, we modeled ourselves after another small group of YA debut authors: The Fourteenery.

As we are entering the final months of their debut year, we turn to this group of talented and generous authors once again. In honor of Halloween, we’ve asked them to share what they found to be the scariest part of their debut year.

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“That moment you totally blank when someone asks you what your book is about. Or, alternately, what your book is called. — Katie Cotugno, author of  HOW TO LOVE, Balzer + Bray, October 1, 2013

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“Bookscan numbers.” — Livia Blackburne, author of MIDNIGHT THIEF, Disney-Hyperion, July 8, 2014

Jacket

“The feeling that this is IT. This is what you’ve been working toward for years, and this is what’s going to determine the rest of your career. Bad sales or reviews will mean it’s all been for nothing: that all the writing you’ve done was a waste, people will look down on you, and your career is dead in the water. The good news: there is life after the debut. (And life after bad sales and life after bad reviews.) The bad news: from what I can tell, authors feel this way about every book they publish. Oops?” — Corinne Duyvis, author of OTHERBOUND, Amulet Books, June 17, 2014

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“The abyss you find yourself staring into when your book is launched into the real world for that first time. Will people like it? Will people even read it? Will people even *notice* it? And you don’t even know if you want them to! The unknown is TERRIFYING.” — Robin Talley, author of LIVES WE TELL OURSELVES, Harlequin Teen, September 30, 2014

As a writer, debut or not, what scares you? How do you handle the fears?

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Freshman Fifteens author Lori Goldstein chatted with fellow Freshman Jenn Marie Thorne to find out more about her forthcoming debut, THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT (Dial/Penguin, March 17, 2015).

 

Wrong Side of Right_Thorne

After a shy 16-year-old is outed as the illegitimate daughter of the Republican nominee for president, she joins his campaign as part of an attempt at damage control.

“The moment my horrible yearbook photo first appeared on millions of television screens, sending jaws dropping, phones ringing, and joggers tumbling off their treadmills all across America, I was in the middle of my AP US History final.”

What was the origin of your idea for THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT?

A few years back, there was sort of a cluster of political scandals, culminating in the revelation that Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered an illegitimate child. I remember seeing this photo of the boy taken by paparazzi and thinking, “That poor, poor kid.” It got my mind whirring about what it would be like to be a teenager in that situation, but thrust into the political limelight in a more central way. Would you want to escape? Or would there be a part of you that longed for acceptance from the family you didn’t know you had?

Kate is the illegitimate daughter of the Republican nominee for president and she winds up hitting the campaign trail with him and her new family. After reading your book, I was convinced you had been on a presidential campaign circuit. It is an incredibly realistic portrayal. What sort of research did you do prior to writing?

Well, thank you! I had a few friends who worked on the Obama campaign back in 2008, so although I didn’t volunteer, I’d had politics on the brain for a while. Arun Chaudhary in particular was helpful through his Facebook posts—he became the first ever White House videographer after his central role in the 2008 campaign and his photos, updates and videos gave me (and all his viewers) a great sense of what day-to-day campaign life looks like. I also read some riveting political nonfiction, like GAME CHANGE and Meghan McCain’s DIRTY SEXY POLITICS for further inspiration. But mostly, I made it up and fact checked later. Luckily, my imagination didn’t stray too far from reality!

You have an MFA in Drama and a background in acting. Are there any similarities in the two forms of artistic expression: acting and writing?

I think my background in acting has been enormously helpful to my writing process. Mentally, I do sort of “act out” the roles of each of my characters, figuring out the way they think, their motivations, the way their backgrounds give them each an individual window on the world. I sympathize with everybody I write, especially the antagonists. I think having studied drama also gives me a sense of narrative rhythm, both in terms of natural dialogue and the beats that each scene needs to hit.

I have seen firsthand (and drooled with jealousy) over your organizational skills in terms of world-building. How much of a detailed planner are you? What do you think is the most important aspect of plotting?

I do plan quite a bit—and most of it ends up getting chucked out along the way! My plot structures tend to be a little too neat in early drafts, and then I sort of muss them up and deepen them during the revision process. But I couldn’t write without a plan. My scenes would just meander and drop off a cliff. And anyway, I love planning. I love outlines, spreadsheets, character quizzes, ridiculously oblique timelines. The idea development stage is my favorite part of the writing process by far.

What are you working on now?

I’m several drafts into a companion novel to THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT, tentatively titled WHEN WE WERE OUT. It centers around a girl who goes a little overboard as an activist after her best friend comes out of the closet and accidentally becomes a national gay icon—even though she’s secretly straight. It’s about best friends and first love and loneliness and legendary pirates and Homecoming and all sorts of stuff.

What advice would you give to writers, especially teen writers?

I have sort of contradictory advice. One: Write every day. Even if it’s just a sentence. When you do a little work on a project every day, you start to write all the time, while you’re driving, in the shower, just before bed. When you skip a day, you sort of have to start all over again. Two: Relax. There is no rush. You do not have to be published by a certain day or a certain time. You will be published when you’ve written something that’s ready. And whether your very first novel is a masterpiece or it takes ten novels before any agent will even read past the first five pages makes no difference at all in the end. What matters is that you’re sitting in a chair every day and learning a craft by working on it. And I highly recommend always having a project on the go. Unless you’re Harper Lee. Actually, even if you are Harper Lee. It would be amazing if she would write something else.

Jenn MarieJenn Marie Thorne writes YA fiction from her home in beautiful Gulfport, Florida, alongside her dashing husband, two adventurous sons and trusty hound Molly. An NYU-Tisch grad with a BFA in Drama, Jenn still enjoys making a complete fool of herself on at least a weekly basis. Other hobbies include writing about herself in the third-person, studying classical voice, learning languages, and traveling the world with her family.

You can find Jenn Marie online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

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