November 21, 2014

Interview With A Misfit: Alana

To wrap up our new Misfit celebration, we've summoned the Misfit-Bot once more to introduce you to the lovely, talented Alana!

Hi, Misfit Alana! Tell us what you're working on!

Well, I'm currently working on revisions for my YA Sci-fi Fantasy as well as outlining and plotting and drafting (oh my!) one other YA and a MG idea.

Your YAMisfits nickname is The Angry Poet. What'd you do to earn that one?

I think it was the excessive use of black eyeliner, poetry contest winnings and a very sincere love for Macbeth.

How do you find your pep on a Monday, or any other day when writing is tough?

I usually find my pep at the bottom of a coffee mug and between the lyrics of a good song. It also helps to visit my Pinterest inspiration board for my current MS.

What's your favorite writing tip?

My favorite writing tip is just write. I think we get so bogged down and overwhelmed with so many tips and tricks and hopes for a shortcut. None of that is going to serve you well if you don't just sit down and get that story out.

What bands do you go geeky for, both when writing or just relaxing?

I have a very (very, very) wide range of taste in music, so I'm a flighty band lover and go for stuff based on my mood. But at the top of my frequently played list is; Johnny Cash, Imagine Dragons, Lorde and Mumford & Sons.

What's your ideal kind of casual Friday?

Yoga pants and books. Even better would be book print yoga pants! I also like to order cheese pizza and build blanket forts with my hubby and kiddos (who with sticky fingers and mismatched socks make every day casual!)

Who's your dream interview subject for YAMisfits?
I would love to interview someone with a role in publishing. It's always fun to see the other side of the book world, especially when deep in the trenches of querying.

What are some of the best books you've read recently, and which ones are you looking forward to?

I just read We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach and Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah. Both of them broke my heart in the best possible way.

There's so many books I'm looking forward to! It's difficult to not make a long list, but I'm especially looking forward to Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman.

And there you have it! Welcome, Alana! If you have any questions we missed here, feel free to leave them in the comments!

November 19, 2014

Confessions of a Slow-Drafting Plotser

Good Morning, Misfiteers!

So it's November, which means NaNo is upon us. Or, when you're me, it's that time of year when you look at Twitter with one eye closed.


Because while other people are throwing themselves into their writing and producing like nobody's business, I'm still eeking out maybe 1K per day.

I've talked before about being a slow drafter, but I'm never more self-conscious about it than during NaNoWriMo. I feel particularly defective when I see so many people effectively putting the pedal to the metal, and I just... can't.

It's my writing downfall. It always will be. But here's what I've learned from it.

1) Any words are better than no words at all

2) Beating yourself up won't help anything. Neither will comparing yourself to other people.

3) Number 2 is way easier said than done

4) But if you're at least happy with the words you've written, then take quality over quantity and be freaking psyched about. You've earned it.

5) Not happy with the quality OR the quantity? Just remember this:

How about you? What puts your writing inadequacies in the spotlight? How do you beat them into submission?

November 18, 2014


Hello Misfiteers,
We've counted the entries and sorted the argyle and picked winners for our giveaway!! Thank you to everyone who entered, followed, shouted out, RT'd. We love you all!! Here's to more years of Misfit Shenanigans!

Before we announce the winners, let's reflect on where we've been and where we're going. We're saying farewell to two founding misfits Leigh Ann Kopans and Jamie Grey. (You can still check out their books on the Our Books page, under "YA Misfit Alumni Books"!) They will be greatly missed!

We're also gaining two new awesome Misfits! 
We can't wait to hang with these two at our lunch table!

Alana "The Angry Poet" Chapman


Megan "The Troublemaker" Grimit

You can check out Megan's first post here!

So, you probably want to get to the winners, eh? Well, LET'S DO THIS!

The e-Reader Prize Pack (INT) Winner:

Sarah Kettles

The Hard Copy Prize Pack (US/CAN) Winner:

Kierra Dele

The Writer Prize Pack (INT) Winner:

Adriyanna Zimmerman

Misfit Book of Choice #yamisfits Winner:

Jessi S.

Below is the winning tweet! An argyle bear AND it has Misfit Megan's book BETWEEN!

Thank you again to everyone who entered. 
Winners, we'll be in contact with you soon ;o)

Have a great week, Misfiteers!

November 17, 2014

Monday Pep Rally: Escaping Shiny New Ideas

Since we've all gotten so used to getting our thoughts down in 140 characters - and it's fun to keep the conversation flowing - we've taken the Pep Rally to twitter! Every Monday, we host a twitter chat and we'd love you to join in. Just keep an eye out for the #MisfitPepRally hashtag! 

I am currently being bested by the shiny new idea. Several, actually. For the last year I've been working on the same project, and while I had other things in my brain, itching to be fleshed out a little bit, I didn't really give them any time beyond a few Post-It scribbles or maybe a note on my white board. And now that I have a minute (and I'm trying, and mostly failing, to catch up on my NaNo word count) it seems like everything I pushed down for the last twelve months is flying to the surface all at once!

I started off writing one thing, and now... I think I'm writing something else? But there's this completely new idea dancing around, trying to get my attention too, and OH MY GOD. I'm going crazy.

Help, Misfiteers! Do you ever get lost in the land of shiny new ideas? And if so, how do you escape?

Answer in the comments, or join the discussion on twitter - don't forget the hashtag, #MisfitPepRally!

November 14, 2014

Interview With A Misfit: Megan G.

It's that time again! We summoned the Misfit-Bot to help you meet one of our new Misfits on this lovely Friday! 

Hi, Misfit Megan! Tell us about you and what you're working on!

Hi there! I’m a young adult author (mostly when my kids are sleeping) represented by Mandy Hubbard at D4EO Literary. My CP’s would tell you I’m a horror writer (don’t believe them) but mostly I just have a talent for taking normal things and making them creepy. I danced around a bit in the past, attempting some contemporary and fantasy ideas, before I settled on the darker, hair-raising stuff.

Right now I’m doing some edits with my agent, and plotting out my next WIP, which might have something to do with death prophecies and voodoo in New Orleans.

Your YAMisfits nickname is The Troublemaker. What'd you do to earn that one?

I have a bad habit of getting bored and finding… interesting ways to entertain myself. In high school I was the kid getting in mud fights on New Year’s Eve, racing shopping carts down super steep hills, stealing traffic cones, and sneaking out of the house at 3am when I couldn’t sleep.

“I didn’t do it,” was my automatic response when people called my name.

I’ve grown up a little bit since then but you can almost guarantee that if there are shenanigans going on, I’m probably responsible.

How do you find your pep on a Monday, or any other day when writing is tough?

VERY loud music. The kind of loud that leaves your ears ringing for an hour. I’ll probably be deaf before I turn 50 but it’ll be worth it. Music is always my first stop when I’m struggling with something, or having a bad day. The right song, at the right volume, at the right time? There’s nothing better than that.

What's your favorite writing tip?

Stop trying to be perfect. I think every writer dreams of the day they can write something from start to finish that’s so great no giant changes are needed. (Or that might just be me. I hate editing.) But I think when we dwell too much on making what we’re writing absolutely spotless we miss out on the messy bits that later turn into the things we love most about our books.

What bands do you go geeky for, both when writing or just relaxing?

I would trade a finger for tickets to a Maroon 5 concert. My husband is in the Air Force and we’re stationed in the middle of nowhere, which means I haven’t seen a concert in years, so I’m not even kidding. I’ll give you a finger!

But I also LOVE Safetysuit, Avicii, The Cab, Marianas Trench, My Chemical Romance, Ed Sheeran, Sleeping At Last, and Neon Trees.

What's your ideal kind of casual Friday?

Soft pajamas, binge-watching Netflix with an unlimited supply of Earl Grey tea and sour gummy straws.

Who's your dream interview subject for YAMisfits?

Hmmm. It’s a tossup between Jane Austen and Maggie Stiefvater. But since one is dead, and the other is being amazing and painting her cars, I guess it would be a pretty easy decision. I’ve been a fan of Austen since I read Pride & Prejudice after high school and fell in love with Mr. Darcy. I think all of my love interests are variations of him, and I don’t even care. But Maggie has this amazing ability to suck you so completely into her world with only a few sentences and I admire that so much. THE SCORPIO RACES is one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve read it about a dozen times.

What are some of the best books you've read recently, and which ones are you looking forward to?

I have this issue with reading and editing. It doesn’t affect me when I’m drafting, but if I read while I edit it totally screws me up. I have no idea why. And since I’ve been editing for almost a year now, all it would take is a slight wind and my TBR pile would topple over and kill me. :-(

However, I’m seriously itching for RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard, IN A HANDFUL OF DUST by Mindy McGinnis, and GATES OF THREAD AND STONE by Lori M. Lee. I also got a package this week with SIEGE AND STORM and RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo, and I’ll be devouring those as soon as I possibly can.

With any luck, I’ll be making a major dent in that TBR pile very soon. 

Enjoy your Friday, Misfiteers, and thanks for spending a little slice of it with me. I'm honored and super excited to be a Misfit! If you have any questions you'd like to ask, feel free to leave them in the comments! 

November 13, 2014

Band Geek Thursday: THE GUARDIAN LINEAGE by Seth Z. Herman

Please welcome to YA Misfits Seth Z. Herman and The Guardian Lineage!


First off, I cannot tell you how excited I am to be on YA Misfits. You guys are such rock stars! I am so unbelievably honored to be here.

Now, to business – a playlist for my debut, THE GUARDIAN LINEAGE, a YA/UF that’s kind of like Harry Potter meets Underworld. To be honest, I don’t listen to music when I write, because I also write music (more on that in a minute), and my brain switches into composer mode whenever I have iTunes playing. So for me to write (books), I need utter and complete silence.

But here’s a list of music that really embodies the feel of the book. Fair warning – it’s a little bit angry. Er, make that a lot-a-bit angry. But as the novel moves along, the emotions evolve, and so does the music. So keep on scrolling down, even if you don’t like the heavy metal influence towards the beginning. Also - I have it on good authority that the main character, Mike, has at least five of these songs on his old clickwheel iPod.

Because you can get the blurb on any book site anywhere (like here), I’ll give you a short excerpt, just so you can get a taste of the story’s style:

            Mike stepped into the living room, his mouth agape. The place reeked of smoke. Shards of glass lay scattered around the standing lamp. Another part of the wall was waterlogged, like someone had turned on a fire hose or something. The couch was ripped to shreds, and the two metal folding chairs had been sawed in half. There were scorch marks on the wall, as if it had been sprayed with a flamethrower, and the animal’s carcass laid in the corner, unmoving, a green pool of gook spreading on the carpet.
            “Michael,” Mom said, wiping blood from her cheek, “We need to talk.”

Now, without further ado, the music:

1) Heaven – Brian Adams
“I’m findin’ it hard to believe we’re in Heaven…”
Before Mike’s life got turned upside down, he was dating the most amazing girl, playing on the high school baseball team, and rocking a summer job at the town dojo. Considering he’d moved from town to town his entire life, Queens was starting to feel like heaven.

2) Nothing Else Matters - Metallica
“Trust I seek, and I find in you…”
As Mike gets to Windham Manor – his new home – he’s desperately in search of someone he can trust. Unfortunately, in a world of spies and necromancers, trust is a currency that’s hard to come by…

3) Hells Bells – AC/DC
“If you’re into evil you’re a friend of mine…”
“I won’t take no prisoners, won’t spare no lives…”
The Black Brethren are a group of necromancers hell bent on destroying the Guardians and their gargoyle clanmantes. Mike learns right off the bat that the Brethren believe very strongly in the second lyric provided above.

4) Unforgiven III – Metallica
“How could he know that this new dawn’s light would change his life forever?”
I’m sure Mike has thought about that over and over, since everything began…

5) Hero – Skillet
“It’s just another war, just another family tour…”
I’ve got to fight today to live another day.”
War comes to Windham, sooner than Mike would like… and unfortunately, it is just another family tour…

6) Sound of Madness – Shinedown
“Yeah, I get it, you’re an outcast, always under attack.
When rumors fly of a spy at Windham, and everyone think it’s Mike, he puts this song on repeat and blasts it through his ears…

7) One Day – Matisyahu
“One day we’ll all be free, and proud to be, under the same sun singing songs of freedom…”
Everyone’s dream, yet all the more potent when people are trying to kill you…

8) The Path – Zvi Herman (ft. Kenny Schames)
“The world we live in breeds mass confusion, impossible to tell real from illusion”
So, yeah, I write music also. No biggie. If your curiosity is bursting, email me and I’ll give you the link (see? this isn’t just a blatant self-plug). Anyway, this song is my favorite, for many reasons… but it’s definitely tied to the book, because in Mike’s world, nothing is as it seems, and it is literally “impossible to tell real from illusion.”

9) I Just Want You – Ozzy Osbourne
“There are no unwinable wars”
Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like that…

10) Don’t Cry – Guns & Roses
“And don’t you cry tonight… there’s a heaven above you baby…”
Without giving too much away, at the end of the novel, Mike’s probably got this song going through his head…

Author Bio:
Growing up with a strange combination of Clancy, Crichton, Tolkien, and Rowling probably gave birth to Seth Z. Herman’s YA/fantasy/thriller style of writing. Seth hails from Queens, New York, where he grew up as an (admittedly sheltered) Orthodox Jew. A lifetime of experiences later, he now lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children, where he poses as a rabbi teaching Judaic studies at an American post-high-school seminary.

November 12, 2014

Writing Club Wednesday: Guest Post by Fonda Lee

Blow-By-Blow: Writing Action and Fight Scenes
Fonda Lee

Conflict, as we writers all know, is the lifeblood of a story. And nothing quite epitomizes raw conflict like a thrilling fight scene. If you’re like me, you crave those climactic moments in prose or on the screen, when, after much tension building and unfolding plot, the hero and villain find themselves facing each other, circling, ready to duke it out and solve this thing, mano a mano.

No matter at what point they occur in a story, fight scenes are like blocks of C-4 plastic explosive. They pack a hell of lot of energy. They build and release tension in a powerful burst. Used properly, they rivet attention and propel your story forward. Overused, they are noisy and deadening.

For most writers, fight scenes are one of those areas where the old adage “write what you know” often does not serve well. Most of us hope dearly to avoid the kinds of high-stakes combat situations we put our poor characters through, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to write fight scenes that feel desperately real.

As someone who has written, read, watched, and safely practiced a lot of fighting, here is some advice I’d offer to all writers who want to write fight scenes that pack more punch:


For a fight to have meaning, it must be essential to your story. Throwing in fights just to keep the reader’s attention and the action quotient high is something that Hollywood is often guilty of, but you don’t want to emulate a forgettable popcorn flick. Ask yourself what the purpose of the fight scene is. Is it to reveal character? To set up a crucial plot point that will have ramifications later? To create motivations for the protagonist or the antagonist? Write the action sequence with a focus on that goal.

If you remove the fight scene, does the storyline completely fall apart? It should. If your story is unaffected by the outcome of the fight, then your fight scene is unnecessary. In other words: the outcome of the fight must have crucial and irreversible consequences.


It is rarely a good idea to start a story with a battle. Without knowing who the combatants are, without understanding what they are fighting for, and why we should care, fights are nothing but noise. Instead, get your reader to invest emotionally in your character, and you’ve laid the foundation for every action scene.

Keep your character’s nature, emotions, and motivations at the forefront of your mind during the scenes of greatest mayhem. For most people, the emotional hurdle required to resort to physical violence is high, so how your character is feeling internally and why they are fighting is more important to the story than the specifics of the fight itself.
Here’s a quick-and-dirty example I made up on the spot to illustrate:

“I’m going to kill you,” Jim snarled. He attacked with a big right overhand punch. David stepped out of range, but before he could bring his hands up to defend, Jim drove his shoulder into David’s chest, slamming him into the wall, where he started landing solid punches into David’s gut.

Serviceable. Bar fight material. Compare to:

All the heat from Jim’s hands and feet had siphoned into his face. How could David have done this to him? An animal snarl, acidic with bile, clawed its way up his throat. “I’m going to kill you.” He lunged, swinging and missing. He slammed David into the wall and then he was burying punches, over and over again.

The first version is more technically explicit. But which one feels more immediate? Which feels like it has higher personal stakes?

A straightforward blow-by-blow recounting of a fight is dry. What kind of feeling do you want to evoke in your fight scene? It could be desperation, humiliation, malice, grace, beauty, loyalty, betrayal, and so many other things. Use your skill as a writer to evoke those notes. A fight isn’t just a fight. It says something about the fighters.


There’s nothing worse than a boring action scene. In movies, directors use all sorts of camera angles and techniques to create visual engagement, and your writer’s belt holds similar weapons: point of view, distance, and time. Vary your reader’s perceptions.

From whose point of view do you want the reader to view the action? The protagonist is the obvious choice, but sometimes seeing key moments of action from the antagonist’s viewpoint, or the perspective of a secondary character, can be effective opportunities to build those characters and put a different lens in front of the reader.

Consider distance as well. Sometimes you want to be right in the fighter’s head, feeling what she’s feeling, both physically and emotionally. At other times, it can be brutally effective to draw back and take in the violence at a remove, giving it the stark impact of war photograph.

In situations of extreme stress, time seems to slow down. On the other hand, fights in real life happen blisteringly fast. Use short, choppy words and sentences to speed up action, or slow it down by pausing on details or lengthening prose. Think of the rapid action, intercut with stylistic slow motion exemplified by movies like The Matrix.


As an admitted fight scene aficionado, here are some things that make me want to smack the writer in the face with a rubber chicken:

  • The hero who has no training, or merely a crash course from an expert, is suddenly able to fight and defeat far better fighters.
  • The awesome warrior is able to fight many opponents and emerge completely unscathed. In any kind of real fight (that is not an ambush), both people will get hit. One person may be hit a whole lot more, but even in mismatched fights, blows fly and usually both parties take some damage. Don’t even talk about knife fights. If your character is in a knife fight, he or she will get cut.
  • After fighting for an hour, the hero is still fresh and ready to continue the battle. There are two problems with this. One: most fights last mere seconds. They are over before most people can react. Two: fighting is probably one of the most exhausting things you can do. Five minutes is an eternity; look at professional fighters at the end of a round. Unless your characters are, in fact, magical, don’t give them powers that defy explanation.
  • After being grievously injured in battle, a character miraculously recovers in a short amount of time.
Don’t do these things, I beg you. Not unless you’re writing fantasy, and even then, there better be a damn good explanation.  


I mentioned not getting too hung up on blow-by-blow specifics and focusing primarily on evoking emotion and character. But don’t take that to mean you can gloss over the fight itself. I recently read a popular YA fantasy novel in which the protagonist, a seasoned and skilled fighter, goes into a dangerous situation. “Excellent,” I thought, “now I’ll get to see her fight.” Instead, the action went something like this (not a direct quote): 

She moved quickly, hitting and kicking, and in a few minutes, all the men were lying on the ground moaning.

At this point, I felt, dear reader, CHEATED. If you, as the writer, have set up a character who knows how to fight, and a story that promises action, you darn well better deliver on that promise. To me, this line told me one thing: the writer did not know anything about fighting and needed to get through the scene quickly.

As with anything, if you’re going to write it, research it. If you can, take some martial arts or self defense classes. Go to a firing range and handle a real gun. Watch professional combat sports. Watch action movies. Read novels with excellent action scenes. And find experts you can go to with questions. In your contact list, try to have a hand-to-hand combat person, a gun person, and a doctor or EMT.

Now, get out there you badass writers, and do some damage.

* * * 

Do you have questions about writing fights and action scenes? Do you have additional advice to add? What are some books you’ve read with really memorable action?

Fonda Lee writes science fiction and fantasy for teens and adults. Her debut novel, ZEROBOXER, will be published by Flux in April 2015. A recovering corporate strategist who was born and raised in Calgary, Canada (land of hockey, rodeo, and oil reserves), she now lives with her family in Portland, Oregon (land of rain, hipsters, and Powell’s Books). When she is not writing she can be found training in kung fu or searching out tasty breakfasts. You can find Fonda at and on Twitter @fondajlee.

Rocky meets Gattaca in this thrill-ride of celebrity, competition, and responsibility

Carr "the Raptor" Luka is a rising star in the weightless combat sport called zeroboxing. To help him win the championship title, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm—a personal marketing strategist. It isn't long before she's made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.

But as his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that's fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. And when Carr learns of a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices place everything he holds dear into jeopardy, they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.

November 10, 2014

THE ULTIMATE MONDAY PEP RALLY - Meet the New Misfits + Giveaway!!!

We YA Misfits are so, so excited to share a whole bunch of excitement with you guys - we have new misfits!!! 

We had a wonderful first two years with our original twelve, but we all know how crazy and busy publishing can get, and sadly, two of our founding misfits, Jamie Grey and Leigh Ann Kopans, have moved on to becoming our very first YA Misfits alumni. (You can still check out their books on the Our Books page, under "YA Misfit Alumni Books"!)

Thankfully, though, there are a lot of fabulous YA writers out there in the community, and we were able to sucker two more misfits into coming on board, so please welcome:

Alana "The Angry Poet" Chapman


Megan "The Troublemaker" Grimit


Over the next couple of weeks, you'll get to know both of our misfits much better, and you can check them out now by clicking on their names in the sidebar and looking them up in the Yearbook!

To celebrate our brand new misfits, we're having a massive giveaway, with four possible prizes. (And yes, you can enter as many giveaways as you like!) The top way to enter? Post a picture of your "argyle best" - whether it's you donning it, a kid, a creative! - on social media, making sure to tag it #yamisfits, and to tag us!

(Yes, all of those argyle items belong to a single Misfit, and no, she is not ashamed.)
(Yes, we took that picture two years ago in anticipation of running a contest like this, and yes, we really are that slow.)

You'll see it as a 10-point option in each of the giveaways, but it's the only way to win prize #1: the YA Misfit book of your choice, in the format of your choice, including pre-orders. (INT, as long as Book Depository ships to you.) To enter, just mention which book you want in your tweet/post!

Here are the rest of the giveaways - go forth and enter!

The e-Reader Prize Pack (INT)

The Hard Copy Prize Pack (US/CAN)

The Writer Prize Pack (INT)

Good luck, Misfiteers, and thanks for over two great years!

November 7, 2014

Casual Friday: Take Care

We're a week in NaNoWriMo! Have you survived? Is your word count making you brag-tweet or are you curled into a corner in despair? You know what matters more than your word count during NaNo?


This is a rant I go on with alarming frequency and yet it still needs to be said. You need to take care of you. There seems to be something within the nature of creative people that tells us our bodies are unimportant. That what we create is more important than our well-being. We push ourselves because that's how great art is made.

Challenges like NaNo are fun. The adrenaline rush is unrivaled. I wrote my debut NaNo style and I remember typing like fiend that last day, desperate to reach my word count. I skipped sleep and social interactions and pushed my body to its physical limits. And I loved every minute of it!

But there is also a place where you need to be gentle with yourself. You need to care for the vessel that carries that precious brain of yours. When your eyes ache, you can to let them rest. When the carpal tunnel starts acting up, it's okay to stop. Sleep, exercise, eat well. Have meaningful conversations with the people you care about. And don't feel guilty when you're not doing ENOUGH.

I believe is the value of YOU. I believe in hot lattes and bacon-covered doughnuts. I believe in salads and sleeping till noon. I believe in nights out and nights in. I believe that each of you know what you need and that if you listen to your heart and your body, you will do amazing things.

When you care for yourself - body, mind and soul - you are better for it and so is your writing. So enjoy NaNo. Enjoy pushing yourself and discovering what you're capable of. But also remember that you have value and when it's too much, that's okay too.

P.S. Stay tuned to the blog & twitter on MONDAY for

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