Children’s Lit Fabulosity

YA Scavenger Hunt Is Afoot! (Plus: Mega-Bonus Contest)

Scavenger huntWelcome to this stop of the YA Scavenger Hunt extravaganza!

I'm Gwenda Bond *wave* and my stop on the hunt is being hosted by my wonderful agent sister Paula Stokes, where you can take a gander at a deleted scene from Girl on a Wire (it's from early on the book, so shouldn't spoil things if you haven't read it yet and it's where Jules actually convinces her dad to go to the Cirque, plus there's pie).

If you're new to the hunt, this tri-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for Team blue72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or both! (Go for two, three, or all! These are pretty amazing prize packages we're talking about here.) I'm a part of the BLUE TEAM–but there are also five other teams with a chance to win a whole different set of signed books.

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage. (And an extra round of *applause* for organizers extraordinaire Colleen Houck and Beth Revis.)


YA Scavenger Hunt Is Afoot! (Plus: Mega-Bonus Contest) Read More »

Ten Reasons To Read YA (No Matter What Age You Are)

1. You like good books more than you care what section of a bookstore they're found in or maintaining some ill-defined sort of lit cred (spoiler alert: it does not really exist).

2. You're interested in developing your own informed opinions about various genres and varieties of fiction. The lit cred of being actually well and widely read does exist.

3. Because YA is so powerful that it's built an enthusiastic reading culture all its own that includes both teens and adults, now in this our age of greatest distraction.

4. You've ever experienced something, anything for the first time, but especially one of those great big moments that help define or redefine who we are, that shape what we think and feel about love and death and life, those great big moments that change us or make us dig in deeper to who we already are. You want to feel that again. Or you want to understand it better. You want to understand what it's like for someone else. And guess what? These moments keep happening, your whole life.

5. You like stories that aren't afraid to put the experience of girls front and center, all different kinds of girls, and treat them as importantly as they deserve to be. (There are plenty of fine YA books starring boys and taking them seriously too, but I think we all know that finding those stories has never been a real problem, just a fake one.)

6. You like story. The pure, focused, raw stuff. It may be simple or it may be deceptively simple or it may be–oh yes it may be–complex, it may take place on a spaceship or in a mansion that houses a dark early American science experiment or in a high school, or in the future or in the past or right now. But you will have no trouble finding books that prize story, and there's no mistaking that. And story is one the most powerful substances in the world.

7. You're intrigued by the fact that while outsiders, aka those not well-read in YA, may try to pit fantasy and science fiction against realistic contemporary, humor against horror or girl books against boy books, most of the people in the YA community will tell you that's nonsense and that one of the best things YA brings to the reading experience is its ability to have all those things exist side by side, often within the same book, and to mix and match them with the freedom that comes from being a category more than a genre. A category that contains most genres and isn't afraid to push at the boundaries of them and of the category itself.

8. You crave an emotional journey and whether it's dark or swoony or light you can find an excellent example in YA.

9. You don't dismiss reader pleasure–not your own, not other people's. Whether it comes from delicious prose, unforgettable characters, strong voice or perfectly-executed twists, so many YA authors are masters at creating reader pleasure, while still telling whatever kind of story it is they mean to tell.

10. I could have really ended this list with number one, couldn't I? So the TL/DR is:

You like good books.

Ten Reasons To Read YA (No Matter What Age You Are) Read More »


2ndblogoversaryI was absolutely delighted to be invited by the fabulous Daphne, the force behind the excellent book blog Winged Reviews, to participate in her second blogoversary celebration. The idea behind it is really fun:

The celebration has been subtitled ‘Across the Pond’, because I started blog during my short stint in the US and of course I live here in the UK, so I wanted to celebrate books and authors from both sides of the Atlantic!

The celebration will run everyday this week and next, and will consist of Top 5 lists from fellow US and UK book bloggers and authors. UK bloggers and authors will be sharing their favourite US books and/or authors, and vice versa.

I only cheated a little to get in one author I wanted to include. Well, or maybe a few. Go check out my list, and see who.

(And you can go back through the other posts from that first link.)

Elsewhere Read More »

Coming Soon

Well, coming tomorrow to be exact — the YA Scavenger Hunt will kick off, with all the participating authors' posts up no later than noon PST Aug. 1 and the competition running through noon PST Aug. 5. There are 54 participating authors, divided into two teams. People who want to play hop through the blogs on one or both teams, and gather some very easy-to-find info in order to enter for the grand prize of a signed book from each participating author on that team. Which is a pretty sweet prize package, not to mention a great way to find out about a whole bunch of new books and authors. If you're interested in playing, there's more info here on how to do that and the prizes. (Also, hats off to Colleen Houck and Beth Revis, awesome authors and awesome organizers of this whole thing.)

Lots of people also run bonus competitions, and I'll be running one here that involves completing a simple task and leaving a comment for a signed copy of Blackwood and a piece of special swag to be determined (but good, promise!).

Nattering part of this post…

I think one of the funnest things about this blog-stravaganza is that every author provides exclusive material for readers that is hosted by another author and ONLY live while the contest is on. For my exclusive material, I'm going to announce the title of my next book, turned in yesterday (squeak!), and will be giving a sneak peek at a couple of pieces of front matter that will let you get a sense of the world. I'm nervous/excited/eek about it. I'll add a link to that post at the bottom of this one when it goes up, for those of you who might be interested but aren't doing the whole hunt.

Funny story: The title I was going to be revealing a week ago for this book and the title that I'll be revealing tomorrow are…not the same. Titles are HARD, and it's best if everyone closely involved–editor, agent, sales team, other important types at the publisher, etcetera–likes the one that gets chosen. Some of us liked the first title, but it was not unanimous (spoiler alert: someone hated it and I don't think any of us really loved it). In a panic, I sent my list of every title I'd ever brainstormed or used for this book (including my "I don't have a title yet" standby–The Man on Lincoln's Nose, which, trivia alert, was the working title for North by Northwest) and lo! everyone ended up really liking one on my discard list much better than what we'd almost settled on. Including me, but I needed their confirmation. I do not trust my own judgment where title fu is concerned.

Anyway, I hope y'all like it too. (Squeak dieux!)

Title Reveal and Exclusive Sneak Peek Post: Here you go — title and two bits of front matter-ness (read: we don't have flap copy yet!).

Updated to add: Special content is all down now. BUT… the book is a near future urban fantasy set in Washington, D.C., about a 17-year-old girl who must find a mysterious missing relic and navigate intrigue involving dangerous gods to save her father, and will be out sometime during the second half of 2013 from Strange Chemistry. And it's going to be called…



So there you go!

Coming Soon Read More »

Monday Hangovers

  • Happy Monday! As you can see (unless you're reading this in a feed reader), I did a little simplification makeover on the site over the weekend. This is because I'm all caught up on everything, have nothing to do…or the opposite of that, really. At some point I probably need to undertake a more elaborate spruce, but for now: Voila!
  •  Haven't seen Prometheus yet, but very much enjoyed Chuck Wendig's analysis of its story lessons
  • Stephanie Perkins with links to all the best commencement addresses. Motivational fuel.
  • If you're in the Seattle area this June and July, you'll want to catch the Clarion West reading series. Here's the full schedule, featuring Connie Willis, GRRM, Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, and others.
  • I suspect everyone has already seen the divine Beth Revis's wonderful, smart post on responding to negative reviews, but just in case. Snippet: "If there are people in the world who hate puppies, Harry Potter, chocolate, and/or bacon, then there are people in the world who hate your book. Put in that perspective, things aren't so bad, huh?"
  • The fascinating story of Dorothy Parker's ashes at the Rumpus.
  • My editor pointed me to this little primer post on Roanoke (and other mysterious things) at The History Girls, "Lost Colonies and Phantom Towns," inspired by the recent finding in one of John White's maps. I continue to be nerdily happy about that. (I'm telling you, people, alchemy is next.)
  • And, finally, the Summer Blog Blast Tour author interview bonanza is just kicking off. I'm putting the full schedule behind the cut. Check them out or be sorry.

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You Gotta Have Faith

I was honored to be polled by io9 on the following:

Everbody loves a good dark, horrible fantasy. A misanthopic adventure, in which everybody is morally compromised, and we all live and die in the dirt. But every now and then, it's nice to read a fantasy novel in which people are, you know… good.

So we decided to contact some of our favorite fantasy writers and editors, to get some recommendations for fantasy novels that are not just optimistic — but optimistic about human nature. This is just the first installment — we might have some more recommendations for you next week.

Go forth and read the first set of picks. (Spoiler: Mine was Bitterblue, and I say why over there.)

You Gotta Have Faith Read More »


I'm off to a secret bat cave for a week with a bunch of fabulous writers to talk about our work and eat cookies and have possibly zany times. I doubt there'll be too much updating here in the meantime. I *might* try to post a photo each day, but that'll probably be the most and I don't promise that.

Just in case I don't get back here until I'm home, I'll be participating in an event at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Malaprop's in Asheville, one of the world's finest indie bookstores. They made this handy page all about it, complete with pretty cover graphic:


Come and see your favorite authors and meet new favorites you haven't read yet as they answer your burning questions about writing, editing, publishing, and the zombie apocalypse: Alan Gratz, Gwenda Bond, Carrie Ryan, Beth Revis, Megan Shepherd, Megan Miranda, Tiffany Trent, Laurel Snyder, and Kristin Tubb!

So if you're in the area, come out and say hi.

p.s. Unrelated: The Guys Lit Wire book fair for the Ballou High School Library is still on, and could use your support. There are lots of books left to choose from, and it only takes a few minutes and a few dollars to help out (promise!).

Absentia Read More »


The one and only Liz Burns has a great post about swearing off YA because all the past year's articles waxing on its darkness or inappropriateness are just too convincing not to. (Hilarious; go read it.)


While I was writing up my April Fool's contribution in this vein, I kept getting mad! And so it was not funny, but ranty. Because those articles are crazy-making. Instead I just bring you two examples of foolish opening statements, which are remarkably similar and incredibly dumb, both from NYT articles in the last year:

"A literary novelist writing a genre novel is like an intellectual dating a porn star." – from Glen Duncan's ill-considered review of Colson Whitehead's Zone One (really, no one said it better than Charlie Jane).

And from this past week:

"The only thing more embarrassing than catching a guy on the plane looking at pornography on his computer is seeing a guy on the plane reading “The Hunger Games.” Or a Twilight book. Or Harry Potter." – from Joel Stein's screed–which I admit I didn't read past the headline and first paragraph of–about how adults shouldn't read YA.

So, no fooling…can we have a moratorium on opening your piece about some part of the literary world you think is downmarket* with a pornography reference to make it clear you really aren't being serious, but just baiting everyone? Also, NYT editors**, perhaps suggest a rethink when the next one of these comes in? It's getting a little obvious.

*In a perfect world, the people who write about these things would, I dunno, respect them at a minimum, but our world shall never be perfect.

**Kudos to Pamela Paul, by the way, for majorly improving kidlit coverage in the Times since she took over. Even the Stein piece was surrounded by far more sensible ones, which is progress.

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The Fast-Talking Smarties

So…I was trying to think of something to post about, and I thought I'd tackle one of the complaints that bugs me greatly (and that I see again and again) about certain types of characters in YA. The contention in question is that given characters aren't "how teens really are," usually said to mean that teens don't think or talk in a complex or sophisticated way, and almost universally applied to bright, precocious characters or a certain type of stylized dialogue. Maggie Stiefvater did a great post about this some time back, on the myth of the "teen voice."

This complaint tends to surface more frequently whenever John Green has a new book out, which is why the topic came to mind. Let me say right off the bat: I haven't read The Fault in Our Stars yet*. I'm definitely going to; I love all John's books with great and huge buckets of love. In fact, one of the reasons I loved Looking for Alaska so much was because I had an immediate sense of recognition when I read it. THESE were the smart Southern** teenagers I grew up around.


But I digress. The problem, of course, being that teens aren't a monolithic group. They–just like adults–are individuals. If a character doesn't work and isn't believable, that's one thing. But I will buy just about any type of speech or action from a character as long as it feels developed, specific, and honest to that character or story. And for every person who has trouble buying into hyper-verbal or branier-than-the-norm characters, I think there's also a counterbalancing number of us who adored, say, Buffy, Gilmore Girls or Veronica Mars because of those qualities (among others).

My suggested rule of thumb is that if you'd never say, "That's just not how adults are" about an adult character (and, really, you wouldn't, would you?), then don't vary the same theme about teen characters in YA.

*This is primarily because I lost a good friend to cancer when we were both 16. I'm so glad that TFiOS exists, because being a bookish girl as I was, back then I really wanted to find a book that might help me understand that loss. And I couldn't. Because most were too saccharine, and not at all funny, and I hated saccharine inspirational (not least because so did my friend) and my people are funny people. So I know this book needed to be written, and believe John was the perfect writer for the job, and I can't wait. I just need a weekend when I can be Completely and Utterly Wrecked, and retroactively grateful.

**My "Southern" cliché rant will be saved for another day.

The Fast-Talking Smarties Read More »

Of Goodwill

So, you are all kind of amazing. All your congratulations and good wishes and interest in the book–here, on twitter, on facebook, etc.–have been so, so appreciated. I couldn't manage to respond to everyone individually, but please know how much it means. As most of you know, I've been working toward this first novel sale for years (which is not at all unusual–interviewing writers for PW is always a great reminder that we only ever see the tippy tops of people's careers and the iceberg of all the work and setbacks and the rest of it is beneath the water, concealed from everyone but those people in our daily lives). And I always have a tendency to expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised if things don't go down in a flaming ball of fiery doom.

All this positivity is disconcerting. I'm not used to it.

Anyway, io9 did that great piece (how much do I love those guys? they are so great for SFF and YA and the world in general, so pinch moment number two–pinch moment number one was when the initital announcement from SC hit). And today the deal made it into Publishers Marketplace–and was mentioned in the daily Publishers Lunch newsletter, surreal pinch moment number three. I have read that newsletter every day FOR AGES and to see my book mentioned…my little #nerdromancethriller-that-could. Here's the text of the PM listing:

Gwenda Bond's BLACKWOOD, a young adult novel about a modern-day Lost Colony; when 114 people disappear from Roanoke Island, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back, to Amanda Rutter at Angry Robot, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2012, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (World English).
Translation: Taryn Fagerness Agency

It's listed as an international deal because Angry Robot is based in the UK, but for those who've asked, like Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry will be a global imprint, and the book will be available in the US, the UK and I believe Australia as both a physical object and as an e-book (and Angry Robot also sells DRM-free e-books at their web store). And for booksellers (I LOVE YOU), Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot's US distribution is through Random House.

I really can't wait for you guys to get to read this book. Which I started, oh, back in 2005, I believe. I had the initial idea then, started it as a screenplay, realized I really should be writing YA and so re-started it as a novel…and set it aside for a lot of years because I didn't know the solution to the mystery. And I felt like if I was going to write a fantasy about Roanoke Island and the Lost Colony, I had to solve it, one way or another. Cut to last semester of grad school, a desperate need for a workshop piece, and I pulled out the opening I had. The group (led by the divine Cynthia Leitich Smith) were very, very helpful, but still, even though I knew the overall shape of the story, I didn't know what was causing the disappearances, so I shelved it again… And then, finally, the third time I started to work on it was the charm. Lightning, research, reading: Alchemy. Though, of course, I'm not going to reveal exactly *how* alchemy figures in.

The title Blackwood is actually from the masterminds of Angry Robot, by the way. My original title was too similar to the imprint name. And I like this so much better. It fits the story in every way and…

I really, really can't wait for you guys to get to read this book. So soon! In September. And I can't wait to get my edit letter from the fabulous Amanda and get to work on it again. And then on book two (which will be unrelated to this one; Blackwood is a standalone).

Also, just an aside: Jennifer Laughran is a goddess among agents. There are agents who wouldn't have hung in there with me, lo, these several years, and continued to be wonderful and excited about my work. Jenn did. So…

PINCH ME. But, don't worry, my head won't stay in the clouds, not when I have this: 


Pirate Hemingway Don't Care About Books

(Note: No actual eye-patches were used in this photo. Am playing w/ Typepad's new photo editor Aviary.)



And now back to work. More soon.

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