Tag Archives: new YA books

Article on Shaping a Series, by YA author Anna Staniszewski of My Very UnFairytale Life Series

Guest Article: Shaping a Series

by Anna Staniszewski,
Author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and its sequels, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail and My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending

When I sold my first book, My Very UnFairy Tale Life, it was a standalone novel with series potential. That meant there were tentative plans to make it a series, but I had to make sure the first book could stand on its own. I thought a lot about the overall shape of the first book and how to wrap things up in a satisfying way, though I did leave one thread open, just in case.

Luckily, my publisher bought two follow-up books—hooray! I started planning and writing and scratching my head. I wanted to make sure that each of the three books had that same satisfying beginning, middle, and end as the first book, but I also wanted the three books to have a strong overall shape.

I spent a lot of time making sure to resolve each smaller conflict in the books while making the larger question (will Jenny ever find her parents?) bigger and more important in each book. That way, I tried to create two ongoing story arcs throughout the series:

story arc graph

The biggest thing I discovered about this technique was how much everything needed to feel connected: a seemingly goofy side plot became important later on, etc. I realized that every character and plot twist had potential to have deeper meaning as the books continued. Because of all the cumulative experiences throughout the trilogy, my main character could hopefully change and grow and triumph by the end.

Anna Staniszewski, Biography~

Anna-Staniszewski4Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.

When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch.

She is the author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and its sequels, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail and My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending, all published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

Look for the first book in Anna’s next tween series, The Dirt Diary, in January 2014, and visit her at www.annastan.com.

coverIn My Epic Fairy Tale Fail (November 2013) – Book 3 in the Series, Jenny is back with an all new adventure, and this time, her happily ever after seems light-years away. While Jenny’s search for her parents leads her to a rundown amusement park called Fairyland, she encounters creepily happy fairies and disgruntled leprechauns; Jenny is sure they are keeping her parents from her. With the help of some new-found friends, Jenny finds a way to rescue her parents and defy the crazy Queen Fairy, but at the expense of putting all magical worlds in danger.

“Plenty of laughs follow Jenny the Adventurer as she concludes her trilogy of comic quests in Fairy Land… Staniszewski’s ear for humor remains keen… It’s all great fun for middle school fantasy fans.”—Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Anna Staniszewski:

Anna Staniszewski creates a magical world that’s totally relatable. You’ll find yourself wishing you were alongside Jenny fighting against unicorns (who aren’t as peaceful as you think) and traveling to fantastical realms.
Girls’ Life Magazine

A speedy and amusing ride that displays a confident, on-the-mark brand of humor, mostly through Jenny’s wisecracking narration. [The] inventive and lighthearted premise will keep readers entertained.
Publishers’ Weekly

“Returning with her deliciously droll wit and a brand new mission for her now-thirteen-year-old heroine, Anna delivers another breezy magical romp . . . the joking tone and thoughtful fairy tale play make this a fresh middle-grade read.”—Horn Book

The other books in the My Very UnFairy Tale Life Series:

other 1other 2Go to http://www.annastan.com/books/ to read first chapter excerpts and download her e-book prequel for free!

Don’t miss Anna’s upcoming new series!

The Dirt Diary By Anna Staniszweski, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN 9-781-4022- 8636-0 / January 7, 2014 / $6.99 US

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature Articles, Guest Posts

Read YA Wander Dust? Check out Book 2 COVER REVEAL and TITLE on My Blog NOW!

For all the fans out there of YA (Young Adult) novels, I have a great post for you today that includes a much-anticipated BOOK COVER and TITLE REVEAL!

Did you read Wander Dust in 2011 by Michelle Warren? I first found out about this exciting new trilogy from a post on the Facebook page of Stephenie Meyer (yes, THE author of Twilight series) and am itching to get it read for review. In the meantime, I know that many of you have read the book and are RAVING about it, so Michelle sent me the COVER and TITLE  REVEAL for book two in the series. She isn’t even revealing herself until May 18 so I am honored to do so! That’s right, it’s just below and it’s just gorgeous. I wouldn’t have guessed anything less from the incredibly talented Michelle Warren (her computer illustration skills are amazing as I am sure her writing is too).

SOOOOOOOOO, without further ado, here is the new COVER and TITLE for Book Two in the Seraphina Parrish Trilogy (with the title not being the working one of Wander Dust 2). It’s PROTECTING TRUTH!!!!! 

So what do you think??? I’m sure Michelle would love to know. Just leave your comments in the section after the post or head over to Michelle’s social networking circles and leave her a note.

 Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Warren-YA-Author-of-Wander-Dust/124362290972713

 Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11250674-wander-dust

 Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/MMichelleWarren


Michelle Warren is the author of Wander Dust, the first book in The Seraphina Parrish Trilogy. She didn’t travel the road to writer immediately. First, she spent over a decade as professional illustrator and designer. Her artistic creativity combined with her love of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy led her to write her first YA novel. Michelle loves reading and traveling to places that inspire her to create. She resides in Maryland, in a historic Baltimore row-home, with her wonderful husband.


And if you haven’t read Wander Dust, don’t delay. I’ll be reading soon and reviewing. Here is the synopsis to get you hooked if the gorgeous cover doesn’t do that itself:

Wander Dust

Ever since her sixteenth birthday, strange things keep happening to Seraphina Parrish.

The Lady in Black burns Sera’s memories.

Unexplainable Premonitions catapult her to other cities.

The Grungy Gang wants to kill her.

And a beautiful, mysterious boy stalks her.

But when Sera moves to Chicago, and her aunt reveals their family connection to a centuries old, secret society, she is immediately thrust into an unbelievable fantasy world, leading her on a quest to unravel the mysteries that plague her. In the end, their meanings crash into an epic struggle of loyalty and betrayal, and she’ll be forced to choose between the boy who has stolen her heart and the thing she desires most.

Wander Dust is the breathtaking fantasy that will catapult you through a story of time, adventure, and love.

See the Book Trailer on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/user/MichelleWarrenAuthor/videos

Check out Michelle’s website too, at: http://wanderdusttrilogy.com/

HURRY, pick-up your copy of Wander Dust during this May special so you’ll be ready for Protecting Truth later this year!! What a deal for Wander Dust so don’t delay!


Filed under New Books I've Found

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone, a Children’s Book Review and Information on Chicago’s Minature Rooms

Marianne Malone, author of the children’s book The Sixty-Eight Rooms (new Random House from 2010), describes herself as not growing up being a reader or wanting to be a writer. In fact, from what I gather from her website (www.mariannemalone.com) she spent a good portion of her life as a middle school art teacher and she is an artist who loves to paint. However, growing up and living in Illinois, she enjoyed going to the Art Institute of Chicago and this is where she fell in love with the Thorne Rooms.  These rooms started her mind percolating over the course of many years an adventure surrounding them.

If you don’t know what the Thorne Rooms are, they are a collection of 68 minature rooms (like dollhouse rooms) given to the Institute by a Mrs. James (Narcissa) Ward Thorne in the early part of probably the 1940s.  Mrs. Thorne traveled the world and was a collector of minatures. She collected so many of the minatures that she had craftsman assist her in turning them into the various rooms from different time periods in England, America, France…and she used her minatures to create interior design themes, from the 13 th century to about the 1930s, that could be used to educate others about interior design of various eras. Of course, many children visitors over the years become entranced by the rooms and their imaginations run wild with ideas. The author Marianne Malone, of course, was one of those children. To view some photography of The Thorne Rooms, go here to the Art Institute of Chicago’s website page of the Thorne Rooms: http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/thorne.  Last Spring, the Huffington Post had an article about the minature rooms and Malone’s book. If interested, go here to view the article:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/07/the-art-institute-of-chic_n_528739.html

Malone’s book, The Sixty-Eight Rooms, is a children’s novel  full of imagination and magic surrounding themes of life based on two main characters, Ruthie and Jack. These best friends go on a class field trip and fall in love with the possibilities of the Thorne Rooms.  Getting a back corridor glance, and finding a gorgeous vintage key, leads them to an adventure into history as well the power that sometimes lies behind the simple act of just believing.  These sixth graders fall in love with the Rooms and Ruthie wishes so badly to have a look inside that when she holds the key, it warms in her hand and she is instantly made minature herself!  Eventually Jack is also, if he holds on to Ruthie, and they go exploring the Rooms. As they are in the rooms, they walk out the front doors and are catapulted directly into different time periods such as France right before the French Revolution and Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials. Actually getting to talk to other kids in that time period, and possibly change the outcome of their lives, is touched on. I really wish I could have read even more on the rooms and the time periods they enter. Eventually a piece of each of these children they meet is acutally found in the rooms and they uncover that other children, even possibly Mrs. Thorne who createdthe Rooms, have visited in the same way and they feel a bond to these others. The mystery is uncovered through the book about how the Rooms came to be magical in the first place, through an important historical figure. I won’t give the mystery away here, but I do believe I would have developed that more and let it grow to the end. The suspense would have been intriguing, though Ruthie throughout the book certainly does not have any patience. This may be a mirror of the author’s personality as a child. I’d love to ask her!

The character development of all side characters, several of the parents as well as the little old lady antique dealer who plays a very important part in the end of the book, are very well done. However, some of the other details such as fighting the mega-cockroach and some of the parts about getting from room to room and up and down into the Rooms could have been left out. As an adult, they bored me. Being a child at heart, a history buff, and sucker for imaginative and magical stories involving doors and keys, I wanted to hear more about the magic and I wanted them to explore various parts of history longer and more in depth.

I did LOVE the art element in it, beyond the Institute, as Jack’s mom is a struggling artist and the museum caretaker of the Rooms, a faded photographer. I probably love this because I love art and also am a photographer. My love for art museums and history both caught my attention to this book. I could imagine all the little art pieces decorating the minature rooms. I would love to see The Thorne Rooms one day and experience the magic myself.

I sense that this is not the end of adventures for Malone. The end of the book certainly did entertain the fact that a vintage purse she is given from the antique shop owner might be another magical object with another story. I certainly hope so. (In fact, in a recent e-mail from Malone, she does tell me that they will be another book).  I do love Malone’s passion for “old” things and what magic they might possess.  Though I do wish that the character’s adventures in The Thorne Rooms not be quite done yet. It for around age 10, fourth grade level, depending where your child’s reading level is. I know I would have loved this book when I was 10. As adults we may look too much into plot structure and want more detail, when for a child it could be more than can be handled. Therefore for me, it is hard to give an accurate review for a child. I’ll have my children read it next and see what they say.

This book had intrigued me back in 2010, as did walking through the Wardrobe in Narnia, Alice shrinking in Wonderland, and the minatures coming alive in Indian in the Cupboard when I was a child, but I didn’t realize until I read it how all these books lend to the idea I have for my own children’s book which I’ve detailed before in this blog.  The idea of a vintage key, and historical doors, leading to somewhere else is certainly a story told before and certainly a global plot. But I think it never gets old. We all wish sometimes to walk into another place and time totally different from ours. Even as an adult, I still share these childhood fantasies and imaginative thoughts. I can’t wait to see where my key and door take me in my book also.

Thanks Marianne Malone for bring The Thorne Rooms to life and for opening up my eyes to this amazing feature of the museum. I certainly will want to visit if I do ever get to Chicago!


Filed under Book Reviews