Over on Book Riot this week…
- Book Riot launched a brand new podcast dedicated to all things YA, and it’s hosted by Eric Smith and myself! Tune in to the first episode and then subscribe through your favorite podcast listening service.
Over on Book Riot this week…
An impetus for beginning the “Anatomy of a YA Anthology” series came from being asked a lot of questions about the anthology process while promoting the book when it first released. I got so many great questions that led me to want to know more about the process behind other author’s anthologies.
Another thing that I got asked in numerous places was if I would consider putting together some kind of discussion guide for Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World that could be used in classrooms and libraries. There is a reading group discussion guide available through Reading Group Choices, which I wrote and you can access here, but this sort of resource would be different. It would give concrete ideas for incorporating the book into classroom (or library) discussions, with places where individual essays could be paired with other topics of study in neat, creative, and thought-provoking ways.
Today, I bring that guide.
This resource guide is built in two different ways, in order to accommodate a wealth of ways to incorporate the book — or even pieces of it — into current curriculum. First, I’ve pulled together the general ways that the book fits within Common Core standards for literacy and for writing across a range of subjects and topics. Second, I’ve created a means of looking at each individual essay, the themes presented, possible discussion/writing ideas, and ways those essays may be worth looking at in conjunction with common class reading/study topics. It would be impossible to make a guide to cover every possible scenario, so this is a broad guide, but I’ve written in such a way to make it easy to search by topic/area of interest.
The guide focuses Common Core alignments with 9-10 and 11-12 grade, but these are easily applied to grades 6-8, as well. Likewise, I have selected not to repeat the questions from the Reading Group Choices guide, though those would allow a lot of opportunity in meeting literacy standards for writing.
If you’d like a downloadable version of this guide, you can access it here.
CCSS.ELA.RI.9-10.1, 9-10.2, 9-10.3
CCSS.ELA.RI.9-10.4, 9-10.5, 9-10.6
CCSS.ELA.RI.11-12.1, 11-12.2, 11-12.3
CCSS.ELA.RI.11-12.4, 11-12.5, 11-12.6
All CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10, 11-12 all.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1, 9-10.2, 9-10.3, 9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1, 11-12.2, 11-12.3, 11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.9-10, 11-12 all.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1, 9-10.2, 9-10.3, 9-10.4, 9-10.5, 9-10.6, 9-10.7, 9-10.8, 10.9
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1, 11-12.2, 11-12.3, 11-12.4, 11-12.5, 11-12.6, 11-12.7, 11-12.8, 11-12.9
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.9-10, 11-12 all.
Each essay below is listed with general themes and topics for discussion and writing purposes. Most, if not all, of the essays could easily be worked into research within and across a variety of areas. Likewise, almost all of these authors are published in a variety of formats, from online journals to novels to well-established and award-winning nonfiction. There is excellent opportunity for author studies on any of the writers, as well as excellent opportunity to introduce new works by them to students who may enjoy what they read here.
I hope this helps those of you looking for ways to incorporate the book and/or parts of it into your curriculum. I’ve heard from a number of readers that they’ve incorporated the book into unique and creative discussions, and I’d love to hear more about how you’ve used Here We Are with teens (or adults!).
For those who are interested, I do offer free Skype visits for teachers or librarians using Here We Are. All of the details for doing that are available here, as are details about the non-fiction writing for teens program I offer more locally (Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, and Rockford areas are all local to me). You can find my contact information there, too, and I’m happy to hear feedback or suggestions for this curriculum guide.
If you’d like a downloadable version of this guide, you can access it here.
Today’s edition of “Anatomy of an Anthology” comes from YA author/editor/fanboy Eric Smith. His first anthology, Welcome Home, was published by Flux and hit shelves September 5.
Your Anthology’s Name: Welcome Home
Anthology Description: A YA short story collection centered around the theme of adoption.
How did you get your idea/what was the initial spark? My wife, really. She’d been trying to push me to write a little more seriously, focus on topics that were close to me. It always surprised her that I didn’t write about being an adoptee more, since it was something I talked about a lot and occasionally wrote an essay about. And as we discussed it more, it started to hit me how seldom I saw adopted characters in stories growing up.
Where did you begin researching your idea and/or developing the idea into a more clear, focused concept? I started looking at a lot of my favorite YA anthologies from the past few years, like Geektastic edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci, Stephanie Perkins’ excellent My True Love Gave To Me, and those short-stories-from-hell collections with Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, Melissa Marr, and Kristin Cast.
I asked myself lots of questions. What did these books do so well? How many contributors did each collection have? I found myself emailing a lot of people that had been in collections like these, to see how they came together.
What steps did you take from idea to proposal? I brainstormed with my agent a bit, and then sent over a potential outline after emailing a bundle of author friends that I thought might be interested. We talked about what their stories might be, and once I had five people that were absolutely confirmed and a whole bundle, close to two dozen or so, that were a solid maybe, we built the proposal.
What was included in your proposal to your publisher? It was a pretty hefty proposal. We had an overview of what the book would be and why we thought it needed to exist, that was sort of a mashup of jacket-copy-meets-query-letter. We had a few pages that detailed confirmed and potential contributors, as well as some pages that talked about comparative titles that would share shelf space, like the anthologies I mentioned earlier.
We also dove into the platform brought on board by the authors in the collection, and what we could potentially do. Events together, pre-order campaigns, and the like. Spent a bit of time name dropping, authors and media folks we thought might potentially boost the project.
And then, there was the sample material. We didn’t have much, just a few quick blips that talked about the stories in-progress, as well as the stories that were already finished. I was lucky enough to have finished shorts from Adi Alsaid, Lauren Gibaldi, and Mindy McGinnis going out.
Did you use an agent? If you didn’t use an agent, how did you find a publisher? I did.
How did you find your writers? I’m lucky enough to be connected with some wonderful writer folks thanks to the joys of Twitter. I sent plenty of awkward DMs and emails. I wanted the collection to have a lot of stories from authors who had a close connection to adoption. Adopted themselves, had adopted kids or foster children, etc. The problem is that not everyone is popular enough to have like, a Wikipedia page where you can find this out.
So, there were a lot of odd emails that were like “hey so… this book about adoption… do you have any ties…” because you can’t just message someone and say “hey are you adopted?” Cause that’s just inappropriate. God knows people asked me that way too many times growing up, and I got in way too many fights as a result.
Eventually, I found a lot of my contributors as a result of people recommended other people and sending introductions.
How did writers pick their story or essay topic ideas? What process did you as editor use to vet them? I just asked them to pitch and write whatever they wanted, in whatever genre they wanted. I wanted the collection to talk about as many facets of the adoptee experience as possible, and there are a LOT of them. So I was careful to nudge people in this direction or that, so we didn’t get too many of the same story again and again.
As an editor, were you responsible for contracts between you and your writers? Did your publisher or agent handle the administrative/legal side of things? Luckily my agent and editor handled the contracts stuff. I talked a bit with the authors about things they wanted, and it was all really nice and open, and then my agent and editor handled the actual paperwork. When you have nearly 30 contributors… well, it’s a lot. I’m really thankful for them.
How did the editing process work between you and your writers? It was simple really. I just gave notes, line-edits and the like. In the end, my editor at Flux (hi McKelle!) gave the most detailed edits, really digging in and polishing the stories up. I did run into some challenges here on the editing end that made me extra grateful to have her in my corner. Because I’m really a fan first, and an editor second.
Like, how am I supposed to give editorial notes to authors I love so terribly?! EVERYTHING YOU HAVE DONE IS PERFECT, I want to scream. So thankfully McKelle could lend a more objective hand.
Money talk: how did you get paid for your work? I didn’t. There wasn’t an advance on my particular anthology, and when it comes to the royalties, we are planning to donate them to non-profits that support adoptees and foster youth. I’m excited for that first check and to see what good we can do.
What role did you take on as editor of the anthology? Were you hands on? Hands off? I was pretty hands-on. But once it went off to my editor at Flux, I just let them do their thing. I did a bunch of reading and re-reading once we had the digital files and ARCs, of course, and sent notes over when I had them.
How did you communicate with your writers? What sort of information did you share with them and how? Lots of emails. Probably to a fault. I hope they didn’t (and don’t) find me too annoying, but I definitely send out big ol’ BCC emails about postcards, events, and the like to everyone. They get all the details.
Where and how did you decide to include your own work in the collection? Pretty early on. I knew I wanted to tell an adoption story as an adoptee. Thing is, I’m not great at writing short stories and I know it. I had a lot of input from my fellow contributors, and they are all just wonderful.
Where and how did you come to “direct” the anthology? Did you have an idea of how you wanted pieces to progress early on or did you wait until all pieces were available to you to begin constructing the collection? I waited til we had some more pieces in. As they were coming in, I was able to ask myself what I was missing.
For example, at one point I realized I didn’t have any pieces about a teen parent and their adopted child. What is it like on that end of the story? Luckily, writers like Sangu Mandanna and Lauren Morrill penned stories along those lines, and they were so lovely.
How involved was your editor/publisher throughout the creation process, prior to turning in a manuscript? Very! They gave lots of notes on the stories I’d sent in initially, and bounced ideas back and forth. When some contributors couldn’t quite commit to a story anymore, due to deadlines on their other work, we talked about potential other people to reach out to. They were great.
When the manuscript was a complete draft, what was the process when you passed it on to your editor/publisher? I sent it on over almost immediately? I shared stories with the contributors and had some beta readers, but it pretty much went right there.
How did you communicate changes and/or concerns between writer and your editor/publisher? Just via email. They were really easy to work with.
When it came to the package of your anthology, how much say did you have in the cover or design? How much were contributors involved in that part of the process? Welcome Home actually had an entirely different cover before we moved over from Jolly Fish to Flux. It was one that I really adored, so I was a little bummed when they had to change direction. But the resulting cover, with its simplicity and just really clean look, was one I took to right away. We had a few other designs along the way that I was a little on the fence about, and they were very supportive when it came to changes and updates. The contributors weren’t involved, but I did bounce some of the covers off them when I could.
What was your favorite part of the anthology creation process? As cheesy as this might sound, finding more adoptees? People with links to adoption? Growing up I didn’t know many kids like me, and finding adults who I could finally talk to about this stuff felt so great. And reading the kind of stories I wanted so desperately as a kid… well, it filled my heart, that’s for sure.
What was your least favorite part? Saying no? I had a lot of people email to be in the collection, and I couldn’t say yes to everyone. That part was really rough.
What were some of the biggest successes? Seeing some of the trade reviews float in. My goodness, that has blown me away. And I’m hoping that this book will encourage more people to write stories of adoption.
If you aren’t already working on another anthology, would you do another one? Why/why not? It would have to be the right thing. This was something really close to me, and I’m hard pressed to think of another topic I’d so desperately want to cover. But maybe it’s out there. I’d certainly contribute to another anthology though, hint-hint-nudge-nudge to anyone who might be reading this that’s an author.
One of my favorite annual round-ups has been this one: a look at the YA books hitting shelves in the next year featuring teens of color front and center. It’s been refreshing to see this become more common, though as always, we could use more, more, more.
Here’s a look at some excellent 2018 book covers where teens of color are front and center. Not all covers for next year’s books have been revealed yet, so this isn’t comprehensive. Grab your TBR and pop these right on it. All descriptions are from Goodreads.
Know of any I’ve missed from traditional publishers? Lay ’em in the comments.
Bunny and Nasir have been best friends forever, but when Bunny accepts an athletic scholarship across town, Nasir is betrayed. Bunny feels out of place among his new, privileged peers, and Nasir spends more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is being evicted. Nasir can’t help but wonder why the neighborhood is falling over itself to help Bunny when Wallace is in trouble.
When Wallace makes a bet against Bunny, Nasir is faced with an impossible decision—maybe a dangerous one.
At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.
With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.
But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.
But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.
With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
With a revolution brewing, Rhee is faced with a choice: make a deal with her enemy, Nero, or denounce him and risk losing her crown.
Framed assassin Alyosha has one goal in mind: kill Nero. But to get his revenge, Aly may have to travel back to the very place he thought he’d left forever—home.
Kara knows that a single piece of technology located on the uninhabitable planet Wraeta may be the key to remembering—and erasing—the princess she once was.
Villainous media star Nero is out for blood, and he’ll go to any means necessary to control the galaxy.
Vicious politics and high-stakes action culminate in an epic showdown that will determine the fate of the universe.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.
Matilda Castillo has always done what she was told, but when she gets injured senior years, she watches her dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer slip away. So when Tilly gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the summer with a New York dance troupe, nothing can stop her from saying yes–not her mother, not her fears of the big city, and not the commitment she made to Georgetown. Tilly’s mother allows her to go on two conditions: one, Tilly will regularly visit her abuela in New Jersey, and two, after the summer, she’ll give up dancing and go off to college.
Armed with her red vintage sunglasses and her pros and cons lists, Tilly strikes out, determined to turn a summer job into a career. Along the way she meets new friends … and new enemies. Tilly isn’t the only one desperate to dance, and fellow troupe member Sabrina Wolfrik intends to succeed at any cost. But despite dodging sabotage and blackmail attempts from Sabrina, Tilly can’t help but fall in love with the city, especially since Paolo, a handsome musician from her past, is also calling New York home for the summer.
As the weeks wind down and the competition with Sabrina heats up, Tilly’s future is on the line. She must decide whether to follow her mother’s path to Georgetown or leap into the unknown to pursue her own dreams.
Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school. You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.
Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.
But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).
When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.
A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.
Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a “suitable” Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City–and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she’s only known from afar. There’s the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya’s last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?
Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.
Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.
This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.
Sixteen-year-old Grace is in a race against time—and in a race for her life—even if she doesn’t realize it yet…
She is smart, responsible, and contending with more than what most teens ever have to. Her mother struggled with schizophrenia for years until, one day, she simply disappeared—fleeing in fear that she was going to hurt herself or those she cared about. Ever since, Grace’s father has worked as a recruiter at one of the leading labs dedicated to studying the disease, trying to lure the world’s top scientists to the faculty to find a cure, hoping against hope it can happen in time to help his wife if she is ever found. But this makes him distant. Consumed.
Grace, in turn, does her part, interning at the lab in the gene sequencing department in hopes that one day they might make a breakthrough…and one day they do. Grace stumbles upon a string of code that could be the key. But something inside of Grace has started to unravel. Could her discovery just be a cruel side effect of the schizophrenia finally taking hold? Can she even tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t?
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.
So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.
Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
Fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds will fall hard for this astonishing own voices novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.
Ship It by Britta Lundin (Spring 18)
The story of a fanfic writer named Claire who just knows the two male characters on her favorite show are in love, and tries to convince the showrunner to make the relationship happen on screen when she’s invited on a Comic Con tour with the cast.
When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.
The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.
Good Friday, everyone. I don’t know if you feel how I do, but this has been a very long week. One spot of bright news was meeting the goal of funding not only 33 classrooms on Donors Choose in honor of my birthday later this month, but reaching a goal of funding 56 classrooms, in honor of one of my editors, Elise Howard, who also celebrates a birthday very soon. To know we funded 56 class projects in a little over a month is incredible. That’s a lot of kids who’ll have books and school supplies, and all of those kids come from underprivileged backgrounds, so the message they’re getting is not only that they deserve these things, but that we see them and are eager to see them reach their fullest potentials. That they matter.
Over the course of the project, a number of different people have reached out asking if they can donate or give to the cause. Today, I’m sharing an opportunity for teachers to receive one of two books for their classroom.
This giveaway will allow teachers to enter for ONE copy of EITHER book. I’ll let it run until all copies are claimed. In order to claim a copy, I need either a school email address for your entry or the mailing address of the school for which you teach. Ideally, these will be classrooms in need, so please, if you can afford to bypass this giveaway, that would be rad. You know your kids and your school, so I’ll trust your judgment!
I will email all winners when the copies have been claimed so you can know to expect a book.