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The 2014 Winter Tour Story Crush Authors Talk Self-Editing & Future Projects

storycrushHow often can you meet five young adult authors at the same event?

The 2014 Winter Story Crush Tour features Robyn Schneider, Katie Cotugno, Melissa Kantor, Courtney C. Stevens, and Lauren Oliver. Follow this link to check out their tour dates.

We caught up with all five writers for advice on writing, getting published, and more. Highlights from the interview follows below.

RS: Robyn Schneider, author of The Beginning of Everything
KC: Katie Cotugno, author of How to Love
MK: Melissa Kantor, author of Maybe One Day
CCS: Courtney C. Stevens, author of Faking Normal
LO: Lauren Oliver, author of Panic

Q: How did you land your book deals?

MK: “I got very lucky with my book deals. My dear friend was an editor at a major publishing house, and for many years she nagged me to write a YA novel. When I finally wrote one, she edited it even before I submitted it. So the house basically got a professionally edited ‘rough draft.’ I didn’t realize until years later how lucky I’d been.”

LO: “When I’d finished a proposal for Before I Fall, my first novel, I cornered my soon-to-be agent (Stephen Barbara) at a cocktail party. I was working in publishing at the time, so somehow I’d scored a legitimate invite. Poor guy. He was terrified. I basically shoved a manuscript in his hands and demanded he represent it.”

Q: As an author, how do you use your blogs?

RS: “I don’t keep a blog, but I make youtube videos about bizarre historical facts and nerdy trivia. I suppose it’s the same thing. I research, outline, and then ramble into a video camera. So my polishing is done in 25 frames per second on Adobe Premiere Pro. The fun of making videos, for me, is that they’re a reflection of my personality and interests, not of my short-form writing.”

LO: “I feel like my posts are all over the place, content-wise. Some posts are much more “serious” and therefore more planned and probably more carefully written. Other posts are the literary equivalent of accidentally coughing out your soda when you’re laughing. That said, yeah, I mean, writers should be able to write grammatically. At least most of the time.”

Q: What’s the best way to self-edit?

CCS: “In order of importance: 1. With humility. 2. With the perspective of time. 3. With vision. Self-editing is hard because it’s that delicate moment when the writer must be able to see both the trees and the forest at the same time. I try to do self-editing in layers. I do a layer for plot, another for characters, another for language, sentence structure, and polish.”

RS: “Every day before I write, I read over the full manuscript, line editing until the point where I left off. Eventually, starting at the beginning takes too long, so I just go back 50 or 100 pages. It helps me to look at the book as a whole, as opposed to a collection of chapters. I also read every day’s writing aloud to make sure the prose is just as conversational as the dialogue.”

Q: Any predictions about the future of the young-adult genre?

MK: “Oooh, I’m terrible at predicting things. (Like, I thought Fresh Direct and netflix were total non-starters.) I have such a soft spot for quiet, realistic fiction. I’d love to see some great books that fit that description come to people’s attention.”

CSS: “This isn’t a prediction, but a hope. I’d like to see us build a bigger bridge between young adult and adult fiction. There should be more books about and for 18-24 year olds. And while I know New Adult is on the horizon, I think it’s unfortunate to have a whole genre that is seemingly locked into exploring sexual discovery. That age group is certainly discovering sex and sexuality, but I needed a road map to navigate those years and sexuality wasn’t the only destination. Huge questions live in those years. They don’t just come at us, they pound on the door and keep pounding until we answer. Who am I? What do I believe? What do I want to do with my life? Am I really like my family? Why did that happen to me? Who will I love? Will I fail? Will I succeed?”

Q: What’s next for you?

MK: “I’ve just finished a book about a girl who decides that being perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Which, I have to say, is something I totally believe.”

KC: “In addition to grad school and a couple of super-fun side projects, I’m knee-deep in my next book, 99 Days, which is about a girl who comes back to her hometown in the Adirondack mountains the before her freshman year of college to face the mess–and the boys–she left behind. It’s kind of an homage to some of my favorite 80′s movies–Mystic Pizza, Dirty Dancing–and I’m having such a blast working on it. I can’t wait to share more!”

CSS: “Another contemporary realistic and plenty of revising.”

LO: “This fall, my first adult novel, Rooms, hits shelves. And after that…sleep!”

RS: “There’s another YA novel, of course. I studied medicine in grad school, so it has a medical aspect to it, but is still a coming of age story. I’m also working on a genre TV show. It’s an original concept; I wrote the pilot over the summer. It’s still in the early stages and nothing is definite, but everyone involved is ridiculously awesome.”

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