2017 Book Survey

I saw this neat book survey over on Lacee Little’s tumblr (though it originated over on Perpetual Page Turner) and had to give it a try.

2017 Book Survey (I tried hard to keep from cheating, but be forewarned, I couldn’t stick to just one book on some of these. Also, most of the titles listed here are Middle Grade :)

Number Of Books You Read: 58

Number of Re-Reads: 0 (this might be the first year in a long while that I haven’t re-read either Howl’s Moving Castle or The Thief!)

Genre You Read The Most From: Middle Grade Fantasy

1. Best Book You Read In 2017? Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi; Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge; The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman (Best THREE! I don’t even care. I can’t choose.)

 2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? Cuckoo Song–in a good way!

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did)? Everything Frances Hardinge

5. Best series you started? Stoker & Holmes by Colleen Gleason (YA title)
Best Sequel? Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner (cheating, I know. This isn’t a sequel but a series continuation)
Best Series Ender? The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

6. Favorite new author you discovered? Frances Hardinge (I’m sure this list will clearly show my adoration of Hardinge, but truly, 2017 will forever be marked as the year I discovered her writing. I highly suggest picking up her work! She writes dark, evocative stories that look like they should be fairy tales, except you’re peering at them through broken glass. The Lie Tree is an excellent first book of hers to try out!)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? Hmm, I don’t think I read anything out of genre, this year! I’ll have to work on that in 2018.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards

9. Book You Read That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? Cuckoo Song

10. Favorite cover? Furthermore

11. Most memorable character? Theodosia from Theodosia by RL LaFevers

12. Most beautifully written book? Furthermore

13. Most thought-provoking/ life-changing book? Furthermore

14. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2017 to finally read? Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

15. Favorite Passage/Quote? “Narrow-mindedness will only get you as far as Nowhere, and once you’re there, you’re lost forever.” –Furthermore

16.Shortest & Longest Book? I…have no idea. I read most books on my kindle and rarely pay attention to length!

17. Book That Shocked You The Most? The Lie Tree

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)? Evaline and Pix from Stoker & Holmes

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year? The sister-relationship between Triss and Pen in Cuckoo Song

20. Favorite book you read from an author you’ve read previously? Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

21. Best book you read in 2017 that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure? Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Thanks, Lacee!!)

22. Newest fictional crush? I’ll say…renewed admiration of Jaron from The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

23. Best 2017 debut you read? I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t read any debuts. But I have a few already planned for 2018!

24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year? Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read? The Boy at the End of the World by Greg Van Eekhout

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry? Ghost by Jason Reynolds. I couldn’t handle how breathtaking the ending pages were.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? The Boy at the End of the World

28. Book that crushed your soul? How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle. This book devastated me.

29. Most Unique Book? The Boy at the End of the World

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? Nothing! I stayed anger-free this year!

#PitchWars 2017 Wish list

Hello! If you’re looking for my #PitchWars 2017 wish list, please head on over to Allison Ziegler’s blog. We co-mentored this year as #TeamBadPrincess.

Thank you!

Interview with #PitchWars 2016 Mentee, Lacee Little

Another year has flown by and we’re heading into my fourth year with #PitchWars (ahhhh!). This year is going to be an extra spacial year, because I am co-mentoring with the extraordinary Allison Ziegler. We’ll announce our 2017 wishlist soon enough, but for now, I have a post about my indomitable 2016 mentee, Lacee Little, and her experience with PW!
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Lacee Little’s manuscript, AN IMPOSSIBLE MAGIC, is honestly one of the more creative, adventurous, and surprising historical fantasies I’ve read in recent years. Her query and pitch snatched up my heart immediately when I read it during the 2016 submission process. She turned out to be an absolute joy to work with, and over the course of two months, she was miraculously patient and hard-working while we made her MS shine. She’s become one of my dearest writing friends in the past year (#PitchWars can be a blessing in many different ways!), and I am eternally grateful to have a friend whose undying love for Diana Wynne Jones matches my own <3
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Read below for Lacee’s thoughts on Pitc.h Wars 2016 and what it was like to work closely with me in preparation for the agent round (umm, have I mentioned yet that the girl garnered 24 agent requests during the agent round? It was an absolute whirlwind)! Also, if you’d like to read the interview with my 2014 mentee and alternate go here, or the interview with my 2015 mentee go here (eh em, this lady–Julie Artz–is a mentor this year, too!).
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Me: There are a few parts to PitchWars, the first of which was deciding which mentors you wanted to submit to. How did you decide who to send to?
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Lacee:  I treated it very similar to looking for an agent. Mostly I looked at the MG mentors’ wishlists, and what books they enjoyed, and found the ones that closest matched my MS. Also with you, I had followed you on twitter since 2015 PW, and I really thought you seemed like an enjoyable and encouraging person to work with.
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[Me: Lacee was an alternate in PW2015 which is what she's referring to above!]
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Me: For the 2017 PitchWars hopefuls, what was it like to have me as your mentor? (Feel free to be honest :P)
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Lacee: The best ever!!! Seriously though, my answer is “Beyond my wildest dreams,” and I really mean it. I did not expect such detailed attention, encouragement, and just general helpfulness. Instead of just offering feedback, you talked things through with me, too, which helped accelerate the revision process.
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[Me *blushes furiously* Really though, the feeling is mutual!]
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Me: What was your overall experience with the editing/revising process? Was there a certain part that was particularly difficult or rewarding?
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Lacee: This was actually my best revising ever, I think. It certainly was the most enjoyable. Usually I revise extensively, then send to a CP, then revise a ton more, and send to a CP. It takes months. This time, I feel it was so much more collaborative, which I loved! I discussed ideas with so many people in the MIDST of revisions, and had people look over stuff before I’d completely “polished” it, which I’d never done before. Plus, I had more people read over and critique my MS than I’d ever had before, and I loved getting so many expert opinions. It was really interesting to see how everyone notices different aspects that need help.
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Me: Were there any parts of PitchWars that you were surprised at? Submissions? Edits? The agent round?
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Lacee: Like I said above, I was surprised how much support you gave me! I honestly did not count on such generosity! Also, I was very surprised by the community. Last year [in 2015] I was a last minute addition, so I wasn’t on the facebook group. It was such an essential part of my PW experience this year, not to mention the support from other mentors, and your past mentees. It totally felt like being adopted into a tribe/family, which I definitely hadn’t expected!
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Me: If you could choose to do PitchWars all over again, would you? Why?
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Lacee: Honestly, I would feel a bit greedy since it would be my 3rd time. ;) But hypothetically, for sure. I would encourage anyone to participate. I have yet to find an opportunity for better community and mentorship, and Pitch Wars handles things so professionally. It’s the best ‘writers helping writers’ organization I’ve ever seen!
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If you’re interested in finding Lacee over on twitter, you can find here; she really is a remarkable writer and friend, and I know she’d love to say hello!

#PonyFest16

It’s time for Rebecca Enzor’s annual #PonyFest16! I’m happy to say that I’m getting in my entry a couple days before it’s due, unlike in years past. During PonyFest, authors turn their characters into My Little Ponies. It’s a blast and is surprisingly addicting. Usually, I end up giving in and turning a cast of characters into ponies, but this year, I’ve narrowed it down to choosing just one character! Go me :P

 

Yarrow

This is Yarrow, a monster made of rock and trees and ice and magic. He’s a pensive creature and prone to quaking so hard, dirt rains down out of his body. I adore this creature, and I especially adore how he transforms at the end of the book–both literally and figuratively :D

highly suggest checking out the other ponies! Rebecca will link to them and will start official voting for the contest on October 4th!

Pitch Wars Wish List 2016

Hello, Warriors, Dreamers, and Wordsmiths! I will keep this post as short and sweet as I can, but I want the very first thing you read on my blog to be this: For PitchWars, I am not looking for a manuscript that is perfect. I am looking for a book that is filled with potential, and for a writer who has already done the hard work and is prepared to roll up their sleeves and dig in for two months with me. I am looking for someone who is open to critique and who is ready to have an open dialogue about what darlings of theirs might need to change. I am looking for someone who’s excited to learn. I am passionate about this process, and I will work so, so hard for you, if you are ready to do the same.

You are all bright, brilliant things, and I cannot say enough about the courage it takes to submit your work. I wish very much that I could take on each and every one of you who submits to me, but alas, since I can only choose one, let’s move on!

MG Mentor

Why You Should Choose Me!

-If you’re curious about what it’s like to work with me from a mentee’s point of view, check out this blogpost to read an interview with my mentee and alt from 2014 and this blogpost with my mentee from 2015.
-Stacy Hackney, my mentee from 2014, received a whopping 12 agent requests during the agent round and is now represented by the lovely Katie Grimm! Julie Artz, my mentee from 2015, received a solidly stupendous 6 requests, and is now working as the talented editor she is! Both of these lovely ladies will likely help me read submissions and have said they would be excited to help my 2016 mentee :D
-I have extensive critiquing experience: my editing strengths are in plotting (I adore plotting!), character arcs, defining the rules of magic systems, world building, writing at the sentence level (show vs tell, inserting emotion into the text), and honing queries until they shine. I work hard to have precise, thoughtful feedback, be it for bigger overall issues or close in line issues. Two months is, of course, not enough time to teach someone how to write from scratch, but it is enough time for a crash course in some writing elements. We’ll work together to figure out what you need.
-For the past two years, I have done editing with my mentees in two waves. The first being larger issues (plotting!) and the second closer issues (line edits!).
-I have written 10 books, eight of which have been fantasy and the other two were contemporary (this is the main reason why I am not the best fit for a contemporary novel–see below in the “what I’m looking for” section–as I don’t have as much experience writing and critiquing it). I am passionate about the drafting and editing process, and have learned a lot through each of my books. I am so excited to share what I’ve learned with you <3
(Please do come find me on Twitter @julianalbrandt. I would love to chat and “meet” you! Or feel free to write any comments questions on this blogpost! I will be happy to respond:)

What I’m Looking For!

I’m looking for MG fantasy this year, both high and low. I am a massive fan of weird magic, unique magic systems, and worlds that haven’t been seen before. I love darkness tinged with humor, characters that form close relationships, mythology that’s woven into plot, quests (QUESTS, I LOVE QUESTS), villains that resonate, and clever main characters who use their wit to escape from tricky situations.

To give you an idea of my reading tastes, check out the list below:

-Otherworld fantasy: HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (or anything by Diana Wynne Jones, for that matter), THE REAL BOY by Anne Ursu, TUESDAY’S AT THE CASTLE by Jessica Day George, THE HOLLOW KINGDOM by Clare B. Dunkle, THE WITCH’S BOY by Kelly Barnhill, THE THICKETY by J.A. White.
-Fantasy that is NOT magic-based: THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner, THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer Nielson, PRINCESS ACADEMY by Shannon Hale.
-Dark fantasy: THE PECULIAR by Stefan Bachmann.
-Horror: THE NIGHT GARDENER by Jonathon Auxier, DOLL BONES by Holly Black.
-Historical Fantasy: SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK by Robert Beatty.
-Magical, adventure stories: THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis, LIESL & PO by Lauren Oliver, PETER & THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.
-Stories with beautiful mythology: WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON by Grace Lin. (I would fight tooth and nail for books involving local mythology!)
-Magical Realism: RULES FOR STEALING STARS by Corey Ann Haydou.
-I would shove aside other mentors for a diverse cast of characters set in a tight fantasy world. (Send me all the diverse MSs!)

*As an interesting thing to note, the manuscripts I’ve chosen to mentor in recent years have been about children discovering that magic (or something strange and wonderful) exists in the every day world. (This is very clearly NOT chosen one stories or children coming into some secret power (please see below at the “what I’m not looking for” section).) While this is noted, I would be very interested  in a MS where magic already exists at the beginning of story (ie: “discovering magic exists” is not the inciting incident).

What I’m Not Looking For

*Sci-fi & contemporary novels are not my strong suit. There are other, incredible mentors who shine in those genres, who you should look at submitting to before thinking of submitting to me.
*I am not as good of a fit for “chosen one” stories, magic systems that have been seen before (such as elemental magic), retellings (or stories using fairytale characters), or portal stories. If your MS has any of these and you still want to submit to me, these elements will have to be very uniquely written for me to be interested.

As a note, I will not be able to respond to everyone who submits to me. I will do my best to respond to the people I request material from. The school year is just beginning though, and I know it would not be healthy for me to promise to respond to everyone’s submissions. I do apologize for this.

The Letter "O"

The Letter “O” for the bloghop!

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