Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Top Ten Ingredients for a Successful Contemporary Young Adult Novel*


by Lupe Fernandez

1) Female protagonist must have at least three emotional dysfunctions such as drug addiction, food disorder and a compulsion to pull fire alarms.

2) Male protagonist must be a rebel/genius/loner/geek with a heart of gold with three of the following characteristics: six-pack abs, musical talent, latent vampirism or magic powers.

3) Contemporary music such as Rap, Hip-Hop, Yodeling or Zydeco must be celebrated.

4) Explicit sex must be portrayed in an unhealthy manner. Healthy sexual relations will cause inhibited parents, uptight talk show hosts and the FDA to ban the book.

5) Popular eras for period pieces: the Sixties, the Thirties, the 1880’s and the Sixties.

6) Fantasy novels require a dragon, a castle, arcane jargon and a leather pouch carried by a hunchback.

7) Incorporate latest technology such cell phones, iPods, iPhones, iShoes, laptops, PDAs, DUIs, MRIs, GPS, IRS, latent thermal body scanners – you’ve hit the cutting edge if the CIA visits you.

8) No story should be without the follow emotions: unrequited love, unrequited lust, unrequited shopping, unrequited air-guitar, jealousy, envy and a hunger for sushi.

9) Satisfy the “minority” quotient by including three of the following:

a) Mexicans

b) Anasazians

c) Hokokams

d) Chichimecas

e) Unpublished writers who are chick magnets

…and the Tenth Ingredient for a Successful Young Adult Novel*

10) Under no conditions should your story portray a “nuclear family.” Always, always the young adult lives with a single parent, un-related guardian, grandmother, grandfather, parking lot attendant, three green trolls or seven old dwarfs.

Include these ingredients in your Young Adult Novel, Bake at 200 degrees Absolute Kelvin, let sit for two years, then serve. Makes about one serving per book. Zero Calories. Zero Sodium. Marginal Profit.

*As determined by The Society of Irreproducible Results

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

YA BOOK GAME for the Unpublished

by Lupe Fernandez

So many steps in the Game of Writing. Will you play? Watch for your turn.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Answers to Last December's 2009 Group of First Lines

Here are the answers to the last December 2009 group of First lines. How many of them did you know?
by Susan Berger

1. “Hey Killer! How’s your Boyfriend?”
Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville

2. It began one summer about thirty years ago and it happened to four children.
Half Magic by Edward Eager

3. That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

4. She says she didn’t mean to. She says she found them in my room, and they were so good she couldn’t help showing them to mom.
All American Girl by Meg Cabot

5. Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water.
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

6. Out in the hottest, dustiest part of town is an orphanage run by a female person nasty enough to scare night into day.
Saving Sweetness, by Diane Stanley Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
(This is the one I sat down and read. I loved it)

7. Once upon a time there was a girl who lived in a castle
The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum by Kate Bernheimer, Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

8. Worms dangles in Aunt Jessica’s kitchen: red worms swarming over a lump of brown mud in a bowl. The bowl and the worms and the lump of mud were in a crossed stitched picture hanging above the stove.
Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech

9. Samantha shivered and wrapped her jacket tighter.
Dog Days by Sarah Laurenson (not yet published)

10. Not long ago in a large university town in California, on a street called Orchard Avenue, a strange old man ran a dusty shabby store.
The Egypt Game by Zelpha Keatly Snyder

Here are some new first lines. These are taken from picture book, mid grade readers and YA. Have you read them? If you were an agent would you read on? Would you, as a reader like you read them?

1. Five little puppies dug a hole under the fence and went for a walk in the wide, wide world.

2. If I could give you just one word of advice, it would be…well, an incomplete sentence. Besides being grammatically iffy, I’m sure you’d agree that a single word of advice is rarely of much use.

3 Bliss to you. Bliss to you! Is me who is dog, Trixie Koontz, happy dog.

4. Sometimes you wake up and the world is just plain different.

5. It is universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

6. I didn’t always live here, and by “here” I do not mean the La Brea Tar Pits where I am writing this down in a notebook –I mean Los Angeles. When I was a little kid, I lived in Chicago.

7. That summer, let’s see, I’m still living in the basement, my own private down under, in the little room Grim built for me there.

8. 12th day of September- I am commanded to write an account of my days; I am bit by fleas and plagued by family. That is all there is to say.

9. Sometimes extraordinary things begin in ordinary places.

10. It was the middle of August 1966, and me and Wayne and Dad and about two hundred people were sweating and stinking in the auditorium of the Sand Mountain High School, home of the Mighty Mighty Miners.