YA and MG Novels by Holly Schindler

YA and MG Novels by Holly Schindler


"Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler's third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A Blue So Dark...This time, the focus is on women's voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking...This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees." - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY STARRED REVIEW

"In the town of Peculiar, the cats aren't the only ones keeping secrets...A dark and creepy psychological who-done-it that will keep you guessing until the very end." - Jody Casella, author of THIN SPACE

"Wow! This book starts off with a bang - two of them, actually - and then it sinks its claws into you and never lets go." - April Henry, New York Times-bestselling author

Monday, September 15, 2014


I'm making the rounds, doing several online visits in the next coming weeks.  (Online visits are a godsend.  Seriously.  I get to connect directly with readers and work on my next book.  Right now, I'm revising my next MG.)

On September 20, 4 pm EST, you can catch me (and Mindy McGinnis Laurie Boyle Crompton) during Crossroad Reviews' next episode of #ReadOn.  Ask us questions, and enter to win signed books!

If you're in the New Mexico area, I'll be Skyping with the Albuquerque BOOKWORKS on September 27, 1 pm MDT / 2pm CST.

Looking forward to seeing you!

Monday, September 8, 2014


It's no secret I'm a fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde.  I've often said one of my favorite aspects of reading a new book by Catherine is that I always walk away from it having learned a writing lesson.  TAKE ME WITH YOU is no exception.  This time around, though, in addition to a writing lesson, I also got a bit of a life lesson that I'm taking to heart:

As a writer, one of the aspects I found fascinating about this novel was the pace.  There's a discussion in the book about RV travel--and a line about it not being about getting to a destination in a furious rush.  Instead, RV travel is slower, and all about finding a place you enjoy and staying there for a stretch, appreciating where you are until you get the urge to move on again.

In some respects, I felt like the pace of this book mirrored this sentiment.  When August takes off with the two boys, they do have an ultimate destination, but reaching that destination doesn't take over the book.  Instead, the characters explore each other and their surroundings in a way I haven't seen in many contemporary reads.  It made for a different--and lovely--experience.

But doesn't the pace and philosophy of RV travel also make for a great metaphor for life?  How many times, as writers, do we finish one book all in a rush, anxious to meet a deadline, only to rush to the next project?  How often do we see where we are and wish we were somewhere else--at a larger house, or seeing better sales numbers?  How often do we allow ourselves to simply enjoy our current place in life?

I'm in the midst of doing just that--allowing myself to enjoy where I am right now, in this moment...in my career and in my life both.  I'm taking the time to enjoy my writing process, to enjoy my family and friends like I never have before.

Thanks, Catherine, for reminding us all how delicious the ride can be.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Releasing two books in two different genres in '14 means I also have my hands in two different worlds: MG and YA.

One of the absolute coolest parts of being an MG author is being able to do classroom Skypes.  If you're a teacher interested and looking for some tips on how to get started, check out my recent guest post on the subject over at Primary Junction.

...And, if you're looking to get your hands on a copy of my YA psychological thriller, you can get in on a giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Jake and I are thrilled to wish FERAL (one of this week's PW Book Picks) a happy book birthday!

We also want to take the time to thank everyone celebrating with us: the blurbers and reviewers, the blog tour hosts, librarians, and booksellers who have shared their excitement and helped spread word of the book leading up to the release. 

Thank you!

To show my appreciation, I'm giving away a signed copy of FERAL.  The giveaway runs until September 2.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 18, 2014


We're growing ever closer to the release of my next YA, FERAL.  In fact, the book releases a week from tomorrow!  To celebrate, here's the final sneak peek of the first chapter:

Be sure to pre-order your copy to make sure your copy arrives as soon as possible following the release.

Monday, August 11, 2014


I was delighted to get my hands on an advance copy of Darlene Beck Jacobson's WHEELS OF CHANGE.

For those of you who haven't yet heard of this MG, the jacket copy:

"Racial intolerance, social change, and sweeping progress make 1908 Washington, D.C., a turbulent place to grow up in for 12-year-old Emily Soper. For Emily, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic, and she's more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer than trying to conform to the proper expectations of young ladies. When Papa’s livelihood is threatened by racist neighbors and horsepower of a different sort, Emily faces changes she'd never imagined. Finding courage and resolve she didn't know she had, Emily strives to save Papa’s business, even if it means going all the way to the White House."

I love a good historical read, and this one hauled me in from the very beginning.  I especially relished the sensory details in the opening pages.  I also really enjoyed the family dynamics, and the smaller moments really sparkled in the pages (in one of my favorite scenes, Emily's mother helps her hang a horseshoe for luck).  Jacobson smartly juxtaposes the changes in young Emily's personal life (she's slowly leaving behind childhood and making steps toward becoming a young woman) with larger changes in the outside world (racial and gender upheaval as well as technological advancements).  Emily can't keep the demands of turn-of-the-twentieth century womanhood at bay, nor can she keep the world from driving automobiles and abandoning her father's glorious carriages.  But the reader will absolutely be glad that Jacobson takes us back to revisit this moment in time.  A lovely tribute to Jacobson's family (text at the end indicates that the book is partly based on family history).  Highly recommended.


Side note: Jacobson includes some mouth-watering recipes at the end of the novel.  Mama's Peach Pie sounds especially delightful, if you happen to be a baker.  Every time I try my own hand at baking, I wind up opening the oven door, cocking my head to the side, and saying, "Huh.  Wonder why that happened."  These recipes look good enough for me to give baking another whirl, and that's saying something, too...

Friday, August 1, 2014


I originally wrote the following post for my YA group author blog, YA Outside the Lines.  It turned out to be my favorite blog post of all time.  I'm reposting here:

When I was sixteen, I took guitar lessons with Bill Brown.  This was a big, big deal in my world.  It was Bill Brown.  The first time I’d ever heard him was when I was fourteen, at the John Lennon tribute concert, which we once held annually here in Springfield, MO.  And I was blown away.  I had no idea that there were people who could play like that who were not on MTV. (I’m actually being completely serious about that.)  I spent the next year and a half going from venue to venue around town to listen to his various bands play (his best-known group was undoubtedly the Ozark Mountain Daredevils).

I was utterly starstruck when I took lessons with Bill.  To this day, I have never been around anyone so innately talented—actually, I think I could live to be two hundred, and meet the very best the world has to offer, and still never be around anyone as talented as Bill.  He was also hilarious.  And kind.  And goofy.  (He used to greet me by singing XTC's "Holly Up on Poppy."  He loved XTC.)  I can’t adequately describe how I looked forward to seeing him every Saturday, in the back room of Third Eye Guitars.

I’d already played piano for several years, and could read music.  But Bill also taught me about playing by ear…most importantly, he got me to bring in some of my poems, showed me some of the basics of songwriting.  

I totally stole this pic from the FB page for Bill's '80s band, The Misstakes.  It's very close to the way he looked when I knew him.

…This past week marked the tenth anniversary of Bill’s passing (he died in a house fire with Don Shipps, another Springfield musician).  Like I do every year on the anniversary, I got out my guitar and played a few Beatles songs in his honor.  I also played a few of the songs I wrote when I was a teenager.

There’s absolutely a rhythm to the written word—a music in language.  I can’t help but think, then, that those music lessons in Third Eye were early lessons in writing a novel.  And I can’t help but think that Bill’s influence is easy to find in my books. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Genre may very well be the most important marketing tool a book has.  After all, genre is often the yardstick by which a reader measures the book’s success.  

Case in point: My forthcoming FERAL is a psychological thriller—an important distinction.  While this subgenre does borrow from more action-oriented categories (for example, the straight suspense-filled thriller, mystery, and horror), the primary focus is on, well, the psychological.  Like classic psychological thrillers, FERAL features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain).  The oft-used water metaphor (employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious) is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (and represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state, her lack of ability to move on from a violent act, though she desperately wants to).  The ending and explanation of what has been happening in the town of Peculiar is also an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche—as it should be; the rest of the book is an exploration of where she is mentally, as well.  Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s an inner process, a terrifying process.  The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail.  

That having been said, I’ve been seeing some reviews go live that list some of those classic psychological thriller elements (the slower pace, etc.) as flaws.  Each book is a learning process—I would no more go back and change FERAL than I would ever expect to change anyone’s mind who’d written a less-than-glowing review; however, I do read all my reviews and think critically about them.  This time around, the critique’s got me thinking about the classic psychological thriller.  There’s no doubt that the subgenre is becoming less frequently represented, especially by the box office.  I wonder how many young readers are familiar with Hitchcock’s work.  How many know only Pyscho’s shower scene, and have never watched the rest of the film. 

I wonder about the expectations of modern, young readers when they see the label “psychological thriller.”  Do they now expect the emphasis to be on “thriller” rather than “psychology”?  Do they expect an action-oriented piece?  Is Hitchcock even relevant anymore to young story-seekers? 

I’m also incredibly curious: How do you, as a blogger, use genre to help write your review?  Do you consider the genre (and subgenre) as you determine the success or failure of a book?  Do you review by the gut rather than the head (it either hits you or it doesn’t)? 

Monday, July 21, 2014


As a fan of both MG literature and Catherine Ryan Hyde's work, I'm anxious to get my hands on her forthcoming MG edition of PAY IT FORWARD.  So anxious, in fact, I asked her to to stop by the blog to talk about the process of turning an adult novel into a book for young readers:

Where did the idea for a young reader version of PAY IT FORWARD originate?  Was it your idea, or were you approached to do a young reader version?

I think the idea grew organically as the book found its audience. It’s a book with a 12-year-old protagonist, yet it was written and published for adults. Younger readers never occurred to me, or to my publisher, until the American Library Association put Pay It Forward on its “Best Books for Young Adults” list (now called Best Fiction for Young Adults). That honor recommends it for kids 12-18. Then the Pay It Forward Foundation, which was originally solely an educational foundation, got going, and that did a great deal to get the Pay It Forward idea into classrooms. But the book could not follow. Too much adult language and material. It became clear after the fact that kids younger than Trevor loved the Pay It Forward concept. It was hard to miss the simple fact that the book would be great for them if it could be made suitable for that age group.

We approached Simon & Schuster with the idea of a book for kids. They didn’t approach us.

What were some of the biggest global changes--to plot, characters, etc.?  What was the reasoning behind making those changes?

Very few changes had to be made to the plot. And this is as good a moment as any to point out my opinion: this would not work with every book. Pay It Forward was already a book with a very simple, universal theme. Definitely simple enough for readers of almost any age. I mean, it was a book about an idea created by a child.

Now, the characters needed some work. One was a homeless drug addict, another was an unscrupulous gangbanger. I didn’t make either of them disappear. But I softened the depictions of their actions quite a bit. I had to do something similar with Gordie, a gay and gender non-conforming character. I didn’t take him out. I wouldn’t have if asked to. Because it may be wrong to lose your life to hard drugs or break the law, but it’s not wrong to be gay, or express your gender differently. Unfortunately, most of the time we spent with Gordie in the adult version depicted his patterns of trying to hook up with men. But he’s still there. Trevor still saves him, and it’s clear that he’s with his boyfriend. So there are still gay characters in the book. But they just had to be written differently, because many of their details were too adult.

The reasoning behind making all of these changes was the same. The goal was a G rating. My editor at Simon & Schuster and I agreed that it would be the same book but with a G rating. So everything that was done was done in service of that goal.

Conversely, what were the smaller changes--pacing of individual scenes, sentence structure?

The pacing seemed almost to take care of itself. Because as we removed the adult material, it got much shorter and tighter. Then it was mostly an issue of spotting when a concept or a word choice was unsuitable for the intended audience. Not inappropriate, necessarily, but wrong for the reading level. I caught the most obvious ones on the first revision, then my editor, who knows more about middle grade fiction than I do, caught a whole other series that I wasn’t sure about. It was really a pretty good example of how an author and editor can put their heads together and get something done.

How did you get into an MG voice?  How difficult was it to take adult material and put it completely in a child's world?

It may sound like a strange answer, but I’m not sure I did either. I don’t think I got into a middle-grade voice and I don’t think I put it completely in a child’s world. Because it was not rewritten from scratch, I think the overall tone may still be more mature. The parts that are the writings of Trevor were always written through a 12-year-old’s perception. The rest is in third person. I guess you could say it’s a grown-up book made suitable for kids. Which might not work in every case. But I think in this case it works, and kids will like it.

What was the biggest surprise?  Did writing and editing this version allow you to uncover any new layers of the story?

I guess the biggest surprise was the ending. I was sure I would leave the ending the same. In fact, my editor and I discussed that I would leave the ending the same. Lots of people question it, but I stand by it. But when all was said and done, I left it a bit more open. I still think, in my mind, that it ended the way the adult edition did. But readers can think otherwise if they choose. It was a compromise.

What's the difference in promoting an MG book, as opposed to adult or YA material?

YA promotion seems to rely heavily on teens having their own blogs and interacting on social networks. Adult… well, I don’t think anybody really knows how adult promotion works. It’s not like adults all hang out at the same watering hole. But middle grade kids go to school, so I think there’s a strong approach to “the gatekeepers”—the teachers and curriculum planners and school librarians—because they’re the ones who can really get these books to kids.

I ran into the difference when I posted a giveaway (on my blog) of some advance reader’s copies. I realized the people who read my blog are adults, so I asked our Pay It Forward Foundation president, Charley Johnson, to RT and share a link to the post. Because he has a line on the “Pay It Forward people.” The people who follow him are the people who have been wanting to get kids involved all along.

The cover's really beautiful.  What can you share about the design process, cover artist, etc.?

The only thing I can really share about it is my surprise and enthusiasm. As with most “Big 5” publishers, there wasn’t a lot of author involvement in developing the new cover. They just ran this by me and said they hoped I liked it. My track record with traditionally published covers has been spotty at best. (My new publisher, Lake Union, which is an Amazon Publishing imprint, has given my books some great covers.) But in this case I think they were spot on.

What are your thoughts about the MG genre--especially about contemporary MG?  (The MG genre as a whole seems so populated by fantasies, fairy tales, etc.)

The only kind of fiction I really like to read is contemporary—which is really just another way of saying realistic—fiction. This is true regardless of the intended age group. In middle grade books, for example, I was never a big fan of Harry Potter, but I loved Freak the Mighty. I like human stories.

I just want to add that I’m not insulting genre fiction or telling other people what they should like. I’m just telling people what I like.

Would you write another--even wholly original--MG?

You know, that’s a good question. No plans at the moment. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you never know where life will take you.

How do you ultimately hope the book will be implemented--in classrooms, by young readers, etc?

The ultimate goal is curriculum inclusion. Because Pay It Forward—the real-life movement—is just perfect for kids. The reason I made Trevor a kid in the adult book is because I think there’s an advantage in catching people with this idea before they’re too jaded. So there’s a delicious excitement in waiting to see if this will be widely read, and—if so—if this next generation will change the world through kindness. It could happen. Kids are a powerful force.


Catherine's next book for adults, TAKE ME WITH YOU, is set to release tomorrow!  I also asked Catherine to tell us how this new read is both like and different from her previous work:

"Take Me With You is like my other books in that it's about human bonds. Unexpected bonds among people who are not related by blood, and who crossed each other's paths in unusual ways. That tends to be a common theme in my work. Although I have done "road trip" stories before, this is the first time I've taken my own style of traveling--RV trips to National Parks to hike and bask in the beauty of nature--and woven it into fiction. Every place August and Seth and Henry go is a place I've been. That gives it an extra dose of my own life passion, I think. And I think that sets it apart from my other novels."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


I'm deep in revisions of my next YA for HarperCollins; while I'm hard at work, I'm hosting a giveaway of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY at Goodreads.

Happy summer reading!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky

by Holly Schindler

Giveaway ends July 16, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, June 30, 2014


I got the most fantastic blub over the weekend, and could not wait a second longer to share:

"Wow! This book starts off with a bang - two of them, actually - and then it sinks its claws into you and never lets go."
 - April Henry, New York Times-bestselling author 
Speaking of sharing, a few early readers have been sharing pictures of their cats with me on Twitter.  So I had to take the opportunity to share my own pic of me and the cats I grew up with.  (Our pictures--this one's a Polaroid--were always taped to the fridge or cabinet doors.  So you kinda have to look past the various kitchen spots...)

Tuffy, the calico on the left, was actually born feral.  Pete, the yellow cat on the right, was her son.  They were both members of the family before I was.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I hang good reviews on the fridge, just like I used to hang good grades...and this review for FERAL from SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL went up on the Frigidaire the minute it came in:

"Gr 9 Up-From the opening pages readers will be immediately immersed in this dark story. Two brutal attacks are described in detailed flashbacks: one resulting in death, the other in extreme psychological trauma. Although each event happened at separate times and were miles apart, the victims seem to be eerily connected: both were burgeoning writers on their school newspaper staff; both lived a somewhat marginalized existence when compared to their BFFs; both were victimized in retaliation for their investigative reporting; and one wants the other one dead.  Seventeen-year-old Claire Cain was rescued by Chicago police after having barely survived being attacked by a gang of teen thugs for snitching on them to clear her best friend's name. Even though she's been receiving treatment for the trauma, Claire continues to relive the horrible attack in her dreams. When Claire's father gets the opportunity to take a sabbatical from his job at the University of Chicago to do anthropological research in the small Missouri town of Peculiar, both Claire and her dad are hopeful that the change of scene will help her heal. She soon discovers the town's feral cat population right before getting swept up in the town's frantic search for a missing girl named Serena Sims. When Claire accidentally stumbles upon Serena's broken corpse in the icy woods behind the high school, she can hardly believe her eyes. The frozen corpse is surrounded by what seems to be the town's entire feral cat population. When she locks eyes with a battered calico, she gets an eerie feeling. With the discovery of Serena's body and the casual handling of her death by the local police, Claire's investigative juices, which have lain dormant for months, resurface driving her to dig for the back story and the truth behind the heinous act. Readers who like a gripping psychological thriller will thoroughly enjoy this psychological thriller has echoes of classic Hitchcock. Issues of cliques, peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem, post-traumatic stress syndrome, teacher-student relationships, and pet abandonment will provide substance for discussion.-Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA"

To celebrate such a lovely review, I'm also running a short giveaway of a FERAL ARC on Goodreads.  You can also enter to win a copy of my debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, which released earlier this year.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Feral by Holly Schindler


by Holly Schindler

Giveaway ends July 01, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, June 23, 2014


I'm having an utter blast meeting young readers, whether they're in a summer writing group, reading class, or are part of a story group at a bookstore.

My virtual visits are, in fact, the most rewarding part of releasing THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY.  And I'd love, love, LOVE to meet your own young readers.  Are you a teacher looking for a great classroom read and a Skype (for a summer class or even to start the school year off with a bang next fall)?  Are you a librarian looking for a way to get your youngest patrons engaged?  A tutor or parent who needs to keep your kids' reading skills up this summer?  A bookseller who would like a virtual visit?

Fill out the forms below to win a Skype visit and / or a copy of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY:

For US / Canadian Residents -
a Rafflecopter giveaway
International -  
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...