the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog

October Round-Up!

Posted by Adi Rule on Fri, Nov 07, 2014 @ 05:11 AM

awardsDeborah WilesRevolution (Scholastic) was shortlisted for the National Book Award. Wow!

Congratulations to Joyce Ray, who has won a 2014 Silver Moonbeam award for Feathers & Trumpets: A Story of Hildegard of Bingen (Apprentice Shop Books, illus. Lisa Greenleaf)!

Hooray for Linda Oatman High, who has won a 2014 Gold Moonbeam award for Teeny Little Grief Machines (Saddleback Educational Publishing)!

Brotherhood by Anne (A. B.) Westrick has won the inaugural Housatonic Book Award for Writing for Middle Grades and YA. Congratulations, Anne!

Congratulations to Kelly Bingham (Z is for Moose) and Julie Berry (All the Truth That's In Me) for their UKLA Award nominations!




It's here! The cover for Anne Bustard's Anywhere But Paradise (Egmont USA, 2015) has been revealed . . . and we love it!

Author/illustrator pj lyons has sold two board books to Zonderkidz. Wahoo!

The new collection EMINEM and Rap, Poetry, Race (McFarland) includes an essay by our own Stephen Bramucci!

We're having triple celebrations with Wendie Old, whose biographies The Wright Brothers, Aviation Pioneers and Inventors; The Life of Duke Ellington, Giant of Jazz; and The Life of Louis Armstrong, King of Jazz (Enslow), have been released in paperback and ebook.





Dana Walrath gave a brilliant TEDx talk on Comics, Medicine, and Memory. MediaBistro/Galleycat gave her a nice shout-out and so did Entertainment Weekly. Wow!

Publishers Weekly came out with their list of Best Children's Books of 2014, and it includes Deborah Wiles' Revolution, A. S. King's Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, and Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun!

The YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominations continue, and we're thrilled to see Caminar by Skila BrownGlory O'Brien's History of the Future by A. S. KingEvil Librarian by Michelle KnudsenHow It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, and Revolution by Deborah Wiles on the list!

The Los Angeles Times posted a great review of Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down.

The Huffington Post named Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond one of 5 Great Reads for Your Bookclub.

Buzzfeed listed Micol Ostow's Amity one of 13 Young Adult Novels to Spook You This Halloween

And for more spookiness, check out Michelle Knudsen's Evil Librarian on Mashable's 9 Scary YA Books for Halloween Fans Too Old to Trick-or-Treat! (If you need us, we'll be under the covers!)


Topics: Linda Oatman High, round-up, Saddleback Educational Publishing, Scholastic, Apprentice Shop Books, Joyce Ray, A. B. Westrick, Deborah Wiles, Skila Brown, Kekla Magoon, Kelly Bingham, Jandy Nelson, Dana Walrath, Wendie Old, McFarland, Enslow, congratulations, Julie Berry, Micol Ostow, A. S. King, Michelle Knudsen, Stephen Bramucci, pj lyons, Zonderkidz, Gwenda Bond


Posted by Tami Brown on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 @ 11:03 AM

Welcome Joyce Ray, author of Feathers & Trumpets, A Story of Hildegard of Bingen!

feathers and trumpetsHildegard agonizes over the origin of her visions. Is God speaking to her? Does she dare share her secret? In 12th century Germany, she could be declared heretic and burned at the stake. In a life fraught with challenges, Hildegard emerges as the most dynamic 12th century female voice.

Enduring a beginning unimaginable to today's teens, Hildegard strains against the ascetic lifestyle of Jutta, her mentor nun. Relationships with Volmar, her monk tutor and Richardis, her daughter nun, bring joy to Hildegard. But does she allow herself to love them too much?

Feathers and Trumpets chronicles the life of the recently named saint and Doctor of the Church against the backdrop of a rich tapestry we know as the Middle Ages.

Joyce Ray's nonfiction work includes Women of the Pine Tree State: 25 Maine Women You Should Know and other titles in the America's Notable Women series

What was the most difficult element to cut/change during the revision process and why?

It was difficult for me to cut several chapters from the end of the manuscript. The novel evolved from a biography, and I wanted all the important elements of Hildegard's life to be included. Striving to achieve that goal blinded me to the real climax of my story, and I resisted eliminating these chapters which were essential to my character's life but not to the story.

What authors do you love for their sentences? How about plot? Character?

I love Cynthia Rylant and Beth Kephart for language. Two representative titles are: Appalachia, The Voices of Sleeping Birds by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Barry Moser (Harcourt Brace, 1991); Small Damages by Beth Kephart (Philomel, 2012)

Deborah Wiles delivers every time with character! I love Each Little Bird That Sings (Harcourt, Inc., 2005)

And Katherine Paterson for everything!

What nugget of craft advice has been especially helpful to you?

I'll pass on two bits of advice. For the first two semesters I wrote picture books, or what I thought were picture books! I couldn't even say the word "novel" if it applied to my writing. Then I heard Norma Fox Mazer and other wise mentors say, "Just write down the scenes and fit them together like pieces of a puzzle later." And it worked!

Eric Kimmel told me to make my mantra "Persistence and volume." Feathers and Trumpets' journey to publication took 13 years. Don't give up!

Who were your advisors at VCFA?

Marion Dane Bauer, Eric Kimmel, Jane Resh Thomas and Carolyn Coman

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

VCFA made me part of a community of writers and elevated my writing to a lifelong adventure. I began to see what made books work. My critical analysis skills developed, and my critiquing skills improved. Most importantly, I learned to write from my heart.

Feathers & Trumpets, A Story of Hildegard of Bingen, (Apprentice Shop Books, LLC, March 16, 2014)

Joyce Ray (Musings) (Interview)

Topics: young adult, 2014 release, Apprentice Shop Books, Joyce Ray

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