Nora Shalaway Carpenter’s YA novel Fault Lines is a study in contrasts. It’s the story of Viv, a high school senior who lives in rural West Virginia, and Dex, a boy in her grade who moves to town. Viv lives a middle class life; Dex is only recently out of extreme poverty. Viv is anti-fracking; Dex’s mom works on the pipeline. But Viv and Dex are drawn to each other. This dual point of view novel barrels straight toward a huge conflict between these two characters. Carpenter handles the moment of greatest conflict with deft hands. Let’s take a look at how she helps readers connect with the characters’ emotions without getting maudlin.
I needed to put on my brave girl wings and write what felt right and natural to me, even though I was worried my agent and editor (and readers) might think it was weird. . . . I have always felt a deep, almost spiritual/magical connection with the natural world. I think a lot of people who spend time in nature feel it. That’s what was coming through in my writing.
The Inheritance Games features Avery Grambs, a normal girl who unexpectedly inherits 46 billion dollars. The story has key attributes that engage readers: excessive wealth, a love triangle with hottie brothers, and a twisty mystery. I knew that it was fast-paced, but what exactly did that mean?
I want to give you a sense of some things to think about as you approach writing a short story. Let’s look at Rocky Callen’s story “They Call Me Hurricane” from Ab(solutely) Normal to see how she approaches the short story form.
We were both adamant that this collection feature protagonists living with mental health conditions and be written by authors with lived mental health experiences. There are many incredible stories out there that aren’t written from lived experience, but we wanted this anthology’s mere existence to be a testament to how those living with mental health conditions can still chase dreams and lead fulfilling lives.
“I started out writing for adults and so when I published my first children’s book, after 15 years of writing for adults, I couldn’t believe what a warm welcome I got. People were immediately supportive and eager to share information. The collegiality of kidlit authors is one of the things that I love the most about this field.”
Linda Urban’s stories are studded with angst, anguish, and hope, as well as problems, pathos, and humor. She is stellar at structuring stories so that something small, seemingly insignificant, becomes the integral to the climax and the protagonist’s understanding of the situation. In Talk Santa To Me, surprisingly, it’s a gaudy silver Christmas wreath that takes this hefty role.
“My feeling is that if we are true to where our particular characters are developmentally, experientially, and philosophically, and we write from that place, we can write work that will connect with readers.” –Linda Urban
Karen Krossing shares her publishing journey–it’s been a long and fruitful one!–as well as her exploration of writing in various categories, from YA to picture books, and details of her writing process.
In January 2023, I had the pleasure of being the guest blogger for The Official SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Blog. Here are links to the posts, in case you missed them.