Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SCHOLASTIC AND THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY

I just received some cool news while in the midst of my YA rewrite: Scholastic has purchased the paperback book club rights for THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY! It should publish in April.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

HEMINGWAY ON WRITING

I'm up to my eyebrows in revisions for my next YA; I actually cut over 40K from my 75K-word manuscript. Yeah. This might very well be the biggest rewrite I've ever tackled...

...It's always been hard for me to identify my absolute favorite Hemingway-on-writing quote, but this one's always been at the top of the list, and feels especially true now:





...Aaaaand I'm back to work...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

THEM'S FIGHTIN' WORDS

Before Christmas, my brother and I started brainstorming what our pro-fighter (boxing, wrestling, etc.) names would be. (This was one of those car-ride conversations...) I decided mine would be Lightning Bolt Larry. (Got a nice ring eh?)

...So my brother took it upon himself to make me a shirt bearing my fighting name. To wear, of course, when I need to attack some new writing job.

Right now, I'm attacking my editor's notes for my forthcoming YA. And man, do I mean attack. I've already slashed 30K words out of it. Ouch.

Back to work!


Monday, January 5, 2015

CUTTING MANUSCRIPTS: DIALOGUE TAGS

Back when I first started writing full-length novels, 30K words was often a struggle. Now, the opposite is true: as I recently began revising my first indie release, an NA rom com, what started out as a 104K-word project quickly ballooned to 122K (and that was after I'd cut six chapters).

I didn't think I could cut another full chapter, so I asked via social media for authors' fave cutting techniques.

One suggested attacking unnecessary dialogue tags. It's turned out to be the absolute best (and simplest) revising technique I've discovered in years. Along with an unnecessary tag often comes unnecessary exposition. Whole paragraphs were deleted as I attacked the manuscript; conversations are now short and snappy and to the point (a plus, I think, when reading an e-book). Putting my focus on those unnecessary tags has brought the manuscript back down to the original 104K words.

I know I'm never going to read another book now without zeroing in on those tags (they'll bug me every bit as much as small talk in dialogue, and that can make me literally hurl a book across a room).

What are your own favorite manuscript-trimming techniques?



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

BLEARY-EYED

Okay, I'll admit I'm a bit late in posting my own bleary-eyed, it's-too-early-for-a-real-hairdo Christmas-morning photo (FB and Twitter were full of 'em last week)...

We've had our own ugly sweater contest at the Schindler abode for the past few Christmases; the winner is in possession of the trophy all year long. This year, we went for decorating sweaters (or in my case, a sweatshirt) in some way that represented a carol. Mine was silver bells; I didn't even come close to winning. But, hey, I got a book to write. ;)

Hope you're all in the midst of a fantastic holiday!

More soon...
My '14 Christmas tree; I'm done with traditional trees. Obviously.

Monday, December 22, 2014

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I'm off to plunge into a holiday week full of people, projects, and activities that fill my heart with nothing but joy...And I'm wishing the same for all the readers and bloggers who've been the highlight of '14.

Happy holidays!


Monday, December 15, 2014

READER EMPATHY / LIKABLE NARRATORS

I struggle with the idea of the likable narrator all the time.  As I stated in this post at my YA group author blog, YA Outside the Lines, I feel like part of my job is to present a character's unvarnished truth.  (We're inside a character's head, after all--we should get a glimpse into all their thoughts, not just those of the more PC variety.) 

I recently got this incredible bit of advice on the subject from a fellow author and had to share...

This author insisted that the focus shouldn't be on creating simply a likable narrator, but in creating reader empathy.  To create empathy, a writer should pick two of the following:

1. Make the main character a victim of undeserved misfortune.
2. Put the main character in jeopardy.
3. Make the main character likable.
4. Make the main character funny.
5. Make the main character powerful or good at what they do.

This makes so much sense to me.  Right now, in my NA-in-progress, both of my main characters are actually 3, 4, and 5 (the female is more 4 than the male), with a little of 2 sprinkled in.  (Jackpot!)  But I love the idea of focusing on empathy rather than likability (likability is only one option in the list for creating empathy).

Any other additions you might put on this list to create empathy--or to get a reader invested in a character's journey?




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

GIFTING (SIGNED BOOKPLATES)

For anyone who plans to give one of my books as a gift this holiday season, I'm sweetening the deal a bit:

Email your mailing address to: hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll shoot you a signed bookplate to go with the gift.  (The earlier you send your address, the better chance you have of getting it in time to put it inside the book before wrapping.)


A Christmas card I drew years ago for my parents to send out.

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 5, 2014

WHORUBLOG HOLIDAY #READATHON

I'm delighted to participate this year in the Holiday #Readathon, hosted by WhoRuBlog.  Technically, I'm up to my eyebrows in global edits for my first indie release (an NA rom com), and won't be able to hit my own TBR pile (man, that thing's getting enormous), but I am delighted to announce that I'll be hosting my own Holiday #Readathon giveaway.

My '14 releases (THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY and FERAL) feature smart protagonists who don't see the world as it is, in a literal sense.  They're both wildly imaginative--they're out-of-the-box thinkers.  So for my giveaway, I'm asking readers to tell me:  

What's the most out-of-the-box, non-traditional thing you ever did that gave you a sense of the Christmas spirit or put you in a holiday mood?

Tweet your answer to @holly_schindler (or leave your response in the comments) to enter.  One winner will receive his or her choice of  a signed copy of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY or FERAL.

Giveaway runs through December 7; US only.

More on the books up for giveaway:

THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY (Contemporary MG) 



“Beasts of the Southern Wild” meets Because of Winn Dixie in this inspiring story of hope.

Auggie Jones lives with her grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town.  So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.”  But Auggie is determined to prove that there’s more to her—and to her house—than meets the eye.

What starts out as a home renovation project quickly becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time.

Holly Schindler’s feel-good story about the power one voice can have will inspire readers to speak from their hearts.

FERAL (YA Psychological Thriller)





The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FERAL IN PW'S STARRED REVIEWS ANNUAL

This arrived in my mailbox yesterday, offering yet another reason to be thankful: my PUBLISHERS WEEKLY CHILDREN'S STARRED REVIEWS ANNUAL.  It was like getting the PW star all over again, for FERAL (featured in the YA thriller section).






To view the review in full, head to PW

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

HAPPY THANKS, TURKEYS

I've got quite a bit on my Thanksgiving plate this year...and it's not just gravy and mashed potatoes, either.  I'm up to my eyebrows in global revisions for my very first indie release.  And I'm having a blast with it.  This year, I'm thankful for new life chapters and exciting projects...

Wishing all of you a bountiful Thanksgiving!

I recently spotted these guys in a field near my house.  They took one look at me and skedaddled.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I'M BIG IN NEW ZEALAND: FERAL AND AUCKLAND LIBRARIES' TEEN SCENE

This dates me, I'm sure, but in the movie SINGLES, Matt Dillon's in this gone-nowhere band (Citizen Dick--oh, how that cracked me up in the '90s)...Anyway, when Dillon's character runs into somebody who's never heard of the band, the response is always, "Yeah, well, we're big in Japan."

I got this really cool review in my inbox yesterday from the Auckland Libraries' Teen Scene, and I've been going around everywhere saying, "Yeah, well, I'm big in New Zealand." 

~

"Claire Cain is a award winning student journalist who took a stand and told the truth to save her best friend - an act of truth and loyalty that lead to a vicious beating that almost cost her her life. Months later Claire and her father leave behind the memories of that night by moving to the small town of Peculiar, Missouri where her father will be during his sabbatical - a chance for both of them to have a fresh start. 

But in matter of days after their arrival Claire stumbles across the body of Serena Sims in the woods, her corpse surrounded by the feral cats that seem to be taking over the town.

There are spooky similarities between the two girls - the least of which is their love of journalism and the truth.  The more Claire learns about the town and the her new classmates, the more Claire realises that life in a small town can be just as complicated and twisted as the big city.  With Serena haunting her ever step, Claire is in a race against time to solve the mystery of her death.  But even in a small town there can be big secrets - secrets people are willing to kill to keep.  

Feral is a genre defying book that will keep you guessing what is coming next, skipping from genre to genre are you move from chapter to chapter - revealing the true nature of the book only in the last few pages.  Appealing as a murder mystery, as a thriller, as a mind bending look into the human soul/nature - Feral will keep you on your toes from start to finish.  A haunting and addictive read about love, loss, friendship, and hope."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS - THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY

#WeNeedDiverseBooks has been a trending for several solid months for good reason--we do need to infuse our children's books with a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.  A recent classroom Skype absolutely solidified this point in my mind...


I've been doing Skypes with young readers since THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY released last February; I've talked to library groups and advanced classes and reluctant readers (the reluctants are my faves).  I've also discussed the book with readers of several different racial backgrounds; an entirely African American group recently made an especially strong (actually, completely unforgettable) impact.

When the faces of this group came to life on my screen, I figured they'd immediately picked up on the fact that Auggie and Gus were African American while reading THE JUNCTION.  I was excited to hear what they'd have to say about race and the book.  Instead, the faculty member who organized the reading group told me she had to point out that Auggie and Gus were not white, as these readers had initially assumed.


We went on to discuss why I chose this particular treatment of race: Auggie has such colorful, poetic language throughout that I didn't think she'd rely on simple labels.  She'd be poetic in her descriptions of her skin color (comparing it to mud, etc.)  I also felt it was important to show Auggie living in a multi-racial neighborhood; in the book, Auggie's friends, teachers, and neighbors are white, African American, Asian, etc.  I wanted the faces in Auggie's surroundings to be every bit as varied as the faces in her sculptures.  (They'd provide some artistic inspiration for her.)

But even though we continued to have a great conversation, I have to admit, I was floored.  Their assumption about race couldn't have been based on the fact that I'm white; I don't have a photo on the jacket of THE JUNCTION.  I'll admit I generally come to a book expecting the MC to be white--primarily, I've always assumed that's because I'm white...or is it?  I'm suddenly wondering if it's not that MCs (of a wide swath of genres and age categories) are so predominantly Caucasian as well.

These students made me proud of the fact that I've chosen to depict MCs of different races (and sexes--one of the protagonists in PLAYING HURT is a male).  I'm glad I've chosen to reach beyond what is immediately familiar to me.

More than that, though, these students have also inspired me to continue painting my characters with a wide variety of brushes.  And I hope other authors are finding similar inspiration...

Friday, November 14, 2014

REAL LIFE IN MY WORK

I'm often asked what pieces of real life make it into my books.  While I've never based a character directly on a person I've known in my personal life, I do find my lifelong Missouri surroundings have become a significant part of nearly every story I've ever penned.

Specifically, water has been part of every YA I've released.  Here's a short vlog explaining why water shows up so frequently--with glimpses into my immediate surroundings.


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