Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The past couple of weeks, I've had the pleasure to review a copy of WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES by Deborah Halverson at Not only is Deborah the former editor of Harcourt Children's Books, she is also the author of the novels BIG MOUTH and HONK IF YOU HATE ME. She is the mother of triplets, so she is living proof that writing can still be accomplished with a busy schedule (no more excuses out there, people! LOL).

A Dozen Thoughts:
1. Not only is this book for writers of YA, it's for writers of MG fiction. Deborah uses the term "young adult" in the title to mean writing for teens as well as preteens. So it really is more comprehensive than at first glance, covering novels with protagonists ages 9-18.
2. The book is comprehensive, starting out from setting up a writing workspace all the way to the how-to's of publication.
3. Deborah covers what NOT to do as well as what to do. Nitty-gritty do's and don'ts. Learn them in this book and avoid awkward mistakes!
4. She covers self-publishing along with traditional publishing.
5. She includes really cool checklists for novels, as well as writing exercises that make you think about what's going on with your themes, characters, and plots. I am SO going to use the "Using Your Hook to Shape Your Story" section with its handy checklist, for my next WIP.
6. Sidebars include tips from well-known YA authors and agents. Fun to read! Want to see what Cynthia Leitich Smith (ETERNAL, TANTALIZE and BLESSED) has written about paranormal fiction on her page entitled "More Than Monsters"? Read this book.
7. The book is organized into self-contained logical sections so you can browse it like a smorgasbord, choosing what you want, when you need it.
8. I love this intro sentence, as Deborah's goal for what writers can take away from the book: "…how to think like a kid but strategize your novel and your career like an adult."
9. There are great details for the beginning writer, but also wonderful reminders and juicy new tidbits and food-for-thought for more seasoned writers. I learned new things reading it, even though I've been writing and absorbing info for 10 years!
10. Deborah includes great tips for writer's block.
11. There is a section on keeping track of your bibliography for historical or factual research. For instance, she suggests printing or saving online articles, not merely bookmarking them, because websites have a tendency to disappear. Yikes! Good tip, there.
12. And there's a reminder that Wikipedia is NOT always an accurate or reliable source of info. Always double-check facts from these kinds of unofficial sites.

Bottom line: This book is not just for "dummies"!

Check it out on Amazon HERE and at the Dummies Store HERE.

Does this sound like a book you could use in your quest to become a better writer?
What other how-to books are your favorites, that have been useful to you?
Do you have a busy schedule--with children or a "real" job--to squeeze your writing time into?


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  1. I'd totally buy this book. In fact, I probably will.

  2. This dies sound like a helpful book for sure. I'm interested.

  3. Also, I meant to say, this is a really good review.

  4. How great to read your review. I've heard wonderful things about WRITING YA FICTION FOR DUMMIES, but I haven't read a review until now. Thank you for this.

  5. Thanks for the review, I might pick this one up.

  6. Some of those Dummy books are written well. Some, not so much. Streetwise used to have some good writers, as well. Not sure these days.

    Happy Writing. Happy Eating. Happy Summer.

  7. This sounds like one I may have to check out. Thanks for the thoughts, Carol!

  8. (Perhaps I'll find it at the Borders liquidation sale this weekend....)

  9. I like the sound of the "Using Your Hook to Shape Your Story" section.

  10. Great review! I've been thinking about getting some good writing books. I love checklists, so that would be groovy :)

  11. This is something I'd be interested in reading. I'll add it to my wish list.

  12. I can see benefitting from the book. I never thought about it but should have made the connection there would be a Dummy book for writing. Thanks!

  13. Sounds like a great book by somebody who knows a lot. Thanks for sharing.
    Life of Lois

  14. Cool. I write paranormal romance. That should prove helpful. You must have posted late yesterday for me to miss you. :) If I were on FB I would so join you...but not there yet. Have a great day!

  15. I was hoping that someone I know would write a review about this book. Thank you not only for being a mind reader but for an excellent post.

  16. Hello my friend! I have been visiting your blog. Cool! Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed your posts . Congratulations for your work. I invite you to visit my blog at:
    Thanks for sharing!

  17. The whole way through your post .. I was thinking... this book is for this dummy... and then you say it's not for dummies!!??
    Ok so this book is one I need to read ... dummie or not! ;)xx

  18. Yeah, I need to get this book. Congrats for joining Facebook! :D

  19. Wow, this sounds like a great book. I will have to check it out. I am currently browsing a copy of Writer's Market, bu the target audience for that is so broad that I end up with a lot of untouched pages. This sounds like a great resource for YA writers.

  20. Thanks for sharing. It sounds like the book might have something useful for me, but I'm not heading straight down to the mall to look for it.

    The worst '...For Dummies' book I ever read was Java Programming for Dummies. To me, the whole point of these books is that they should answer the little questions that you'd feel stupid asking anybody else, right?

    'Java Programming fD' explained about how you first write your program, compile it, and then run it, but it NEVER actually explained "here is what you do on your computer to compile a Java program." :-P

    If you get a chance, check out a fellow writer's zombie story and help me make him wear an embarrassing shirt next year! Details are here:

  21. Hmmm, I had no intention of buying it. I figured it would be way too basic. But, Carol, you've intrigued me. I may just have to buy it now. :)

    I hope you are having a lovely weekend.


  22. I'm glad it got a good review from you! I wondered how in depth it got. Thanks Carol!

  23. I've heard this was a great book. I'll have to check it out.

    So far, my absolute favorite craft book is PLOT & STRUCTURE by James Scott Bell. I'm a bit of a groupie.

  24. Sold. I have been looking for something else to rejuvenate and help the writing. Awesome, Carol. Thanks for this!

  25. Too bad it didn't come out before I wrote my series!

  26. Great list! It appeals to my organizational side. Funny, I already print most of the research that I find, but only because I can't seem to read anything on the screen. Now I just need an intern to help me keep my files sorted...

  27. I thought the Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies and thought it was amazing. And I saw Deborah speak at the LA SCBWI conference last year. Her workshop was the best. So of course I had to buy the book. :D

  28. hey, even if you know all this stuff, this sounds like a fun book to pick up and read just to make sure you've hit all the bases. And it's always good to double-check. Thanks for the heads up, Carol! :o) <3


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