Monday, March 25, 2013

A Winner -- and a new look at an old favorite

I'm happy to announce that according to random.org the winner of the hardcover copy of Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman is:


Kat Owens
 

Congratulations, Kat!  Expect an email from me asking for your mailing address.

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I've been querying my second novel for about a month now and some of the very kind personal rejections I've received have said they prefer funny boy books for MG, as opposed to dark and serious contemporary stories. 

Ahem. So... I've written a lot of messy notes and character sketches and about 35 pages of a new middle grade novel. Yes, I'm attempting a humorous story this time. Go ahead, make all the jokes you want. I'll wait.

......

Yeah, I knew I needed lots of research. So for a month I've been re-reading every funny book on my shelves, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid (strangely, not as funny this time around) to Flush by Carl Hiaasen (he can be over-the-top funny), to Wendy Mass's books. I'm a big fan of Wendy Mass. So I re-read 11 Birthdays (paperback published 2010, hardcover 2009, from Scholastic, for ages 9 to 12). And I'm happy to report I enjoyed it just as much as the first time. 


Amanda and Leo, best friends who happen to share a birthday, have to repeat their 11th birthday until they get it right, a la Groundhog Day, the movie, or Help! I'm Trapped in the First Day of School by Todd Strasser. I love the town Wendy has created, Willow Falls, where unusual things sometimes take place. It's the real world, with a touch of magical realism. And this is exactly the sort of thing I'm going for.

I love this kind of research!
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26 comments:

  1. Congrats Kat! Love the new look, Joanne!

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    1. Thanks, Christine. Guess you haven't been here in a while. :)

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  2. Writing funny is hard - it doesn't come naturally to me. Out of all the MG books my daughter has read, Judy Blume's Fudge books have made her laugh out loud the most.

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    1. It IS hard, Kristin! I'm trying not to force it because that would be awful, but to get to know my character and go with what he would say and do.

      Oh, and thanks for the reminder of the Fudge books! They're hilarious. I'll re-read them next.

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  3. I've read that writing funny is hard but not impossible. So you can do it!!! Just remember to have fun while doing it. :)

    ~Akoss

    PS: I like the new look but I probably wouldn't have noticed it right away if you didn't mention it. lol

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Akoss! When it stops being fun, I'll turn to something else. Interestingly, having fun is what next week's post is about!

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  4. Good luck, Joanne. I am SO not funny that I don't think I could pull it off. Glad you got some kind query comments.

    Like the new look like everyone else.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie. Kind personal rejections keep me going so I can forget about the form-letter variety.

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  5. I didn't know about this book, so thanks for the review. I could use a laugh just now!

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    1. Oh, you must read this, Rosi. It's so much fun! Especially if you're a little down (and I hope everything's okay).

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  6. And here I am just feeling sad that dark and serious is such a hard sell. Keep fighting for those stories, Joanne! I am. And best of luck as you jump into humor : )

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    1. Melissa, I have just begun to fight, er, query. I certainly am not giving up on the mystery, but I'm trying to research agents who like dark and serious. Thanks for the support!

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  7. I love the reading middle grade books kind of research too! Haven't read this Wendy Mass but I have read two others. She certainly has a fun style that kids love.

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    1. This is my favorite of all of hers, Barbara. Although I haven't yet read A MANGO-SHAPED SPACE, her first book. I need to read that soon.

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  8. Congrats to Kat!

    At least the research you are doing is fun! I haven't read 11 Birthdays yet- but I have it to read. I will have to move it up my list- it sounds good. :)

    Ruby Holler is a book that always makes me laugh out loud. Happy researching!
    ~Jess

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    1. Oh, I loved that book! Thanks for the reminder, Jess.

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  9. Good luck with the new manuscript. That's nice that you received some direction from your queries and have a new plan of action. Who said writing is easy! :) I haven't read 11 Birthdays, but it sounds great!

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    1. True, Jennifer. Nobody said writing was easy. You and I both know that.

      And as I told Melissa, above, I'm certainly not giving up on the mystery. I've only just begun to query. But while you're querying, you need to write something new, right?

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  10. Funny books are my favorites! Sometimes I think I'm succeeding at writing one, and sometimes I despair that I'll never be as good as my favorite funny authors. But nobody ever said it was supposed to be easy, right? Good luck with your funny reading and funny writing! I'll be adding 11 Birthdays to my list.
    Cindy

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    1. Ha ha, Cindy, you're right. It's not easy. I like dark, serious books AND funny books. Depending on my mood.

      Yeah, I have days where I want to take all 35 pages I've written, hit the delete button, and go back to writing dark stuff. But I know I have to keep writing my crappy first draft and then get to the part I love: revision.

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  11. Congrats to the winner! Good Luck with your story! I love books with humor in them!

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    1. Thanks, Erik! Good luck with your own writing.

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  12. Thanks Joanne for the prize! It arrived yesterday! Can't wait to dig in.

    I thought Whales on Stilts by MT Anderson was a riot. Funny for kids and grownups at different moments.

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    1. I'll have to check that one out, Kat. Glad the book arrived safely.

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  13. congratulations on the personal rejections! I love funny MG books and I do insert funny moments in mine, but I'd love for them to be all the way through funny, but I think that's a talent you have to work on.

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    1. Thanks, Janet! Isn't it great that in this business, personal rejections are a plus? I think you may be right. Being consistently funny could be a talent you're born with, or it could be a learned skill. I'm hoping it's the latter!

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