Field Trip Friday: January 30, 2015

We're delighted to have friend of the Highway, A.R. Kahler, guest posting Field Trip Friday this week. Thanks a ton!


You've probably not heard the big news this week, as not many people are talking about it, especially not on Twitter. I mean, it's not like it's childhood-destroying news that would cause a lot of mangst. That would just be silly. Because it turns out that the new fantastic Ghostbusting quartet will, in fact, be all women. To absolutely no one's surprise, Twitter...didn't handle it that well.


Thinking a shiny MFA will help land you the publishing deal you're craving, but not sure you're ready to make that not-so-shiny investment? For those looking for a thriftier solution, help is on the way.

Speaking of, queries are probably the most terrifying aspect of getting an agent. Looking for pointers? Think that maybe the best idea is to write it from the POV of your protagonist? Maybe read this first, before shooting yourself in the foot.

What's it take to write for a living? Well, as Ann Bauer admits, it may take more than just writing a really good story, in a piece that helps demystify authors and their earnings.

For those of us who need this as a daily reminder, Courtney Summers has written a fantastic response dealing with peer idolization and self-perception. Because seriously, haven't we all looked around and thought why is everyone more successful than I am?

And if that's not enough feel-good, this post on the 'trials' of being an author helps keep things in perspective.


2014 has been a fantastic year for pushing the diversity envelope in YA literature, and we're hoping the trend continues. Malindo Lo has done a fantastic breakdown of LGBTQ representation over on the DiversityinYA blog.

Following the trend of representation in YA, C. Taylor Butler gives an honest look on why it's important that all children are able to see themselves in what they read.

The internet's changed the way we share, access, and publish books. This week, we're excited to share this post on how Tumblr is bringing a fresh face to the idea of book clubs.


In sad news, famed Australian author (and neurophysiologist) Colleen McCullough has passed at age 77. But apparently being a famous female neurophysiologist/author/badass isn't enough to change your tag line from "Plain of feature, and certainly overweight”. Seriously? This is the best you could do?


It's pretty fair to say that there's a huge disconnect between what we buy and where it comes from. From the food we eat to that cute Hello Kitty glow pen, if we bought it, someone else made it, and we probably have no idea who that someone is. A new reality TV show explores the clothes on our back by sending young fashion designers into the places where their clothing would be made. The results, as expected, are far from glamorous.

The NYTimes has written a long-overdue piece on women in Hollywood, and how it's far past time they receive the recognition they deserve.

Along those lines, Bjork just released an interview with Pitchfork that reaffirms: Bjork is amazing.

OK so Adam Sandler is producing this thing and it's's so...I'm sorry I can't even write something snappy.


I know it's not really from this week but damnit, this is eternal. And this week especially, I think we need to keep in mind that when the haters start hating, it's time to put on spandex and do some air kicks because YOU ARE FABULOUS AND YOU BETTER WORK IT.

A.R. Kahler writes books about faeries (both the supernatural kind and the pretty gay boy kind) and circuses and boarding schools. In that order. He currently lives in Seattle but is a nomad at heart. You can follow his adventures on Twitter @arkahler or online at

Making Money as a Writer (While You're Waiting for that Book to Sell)

I studied creative writing in college because I wanted to tell stories for a living. Right now, I am definitely telling stories - but I don't make much of a living at it. Shortly after graduation, I realized that a.) I couldn't publish a book in time to pay rent and b.) my B.A. was super shiny and all, but I was only qualified to write things, analyze books, and wait tables.

Your guidance counselors don't explain this when you decide on a liberal arts major.

So, I sat down and I thought really hard about how to make money as a fresh-out-of-school English student, and I discovered a few things.

1.) Writers have to be resourceful. We actually have some very useful skills - most of society just doesn't know it yet. But, if you poke around, ask questions, you'll soon discover that most everyone needs a writer. That little boutique down the street? The owner is a lovely old woman with no idea how to use a computer. She needs someone to update the boutique's ancient website, or maybe manage her Facebook page. Sell yourself! Ask questions! There are jobs everywhere, if you look hard enough; if you're bold enough.

2.) There are resources galore for freelance writers - but never underestimate the power of Craigslist. I've stumbled on at least three freelance jobs via this website - all of which were legitimate, all of which paid my rent for a solid six months. Sure, some of these postings are scams; but plenty of them are not. You'll never know unless you send that first email and apply.

3.) I've spoken to other freelancers who found publishing jobs simply by cold-calling / emailing local magazines and publishers. They scraped for internships in college; then, post-graduation, gathered up their courage and asked for a paying job. Again - be bold! Ask for what you want. You'll be surprised at the response.

Don't believe me? Take a look at what other writers have to say.

Kiersi Burkhart: "I'm a professional copywriter, and I got my first gig when I quit my full-time job. They hired me back as a contractor to write materials for them, and having one fairly regular customer got my business started... I get my jobs mostly through referrals."

Dahlia Adler Fisch: "I had internships - at HarperCollins when I was in high school, then at S&S when I was in college, and then I was an EA at S&S. I got my first freelance copyediting contract for a small publisher by referral from an author for that publisher (though you still have to take a test for any publisher, no matter who refers you), and then after that, I applied for openings and got them (still with tests)."

Kate Pannarale Fries: "I had an entry-level publishing job out of college but I got my writing jobs by cold calling and emailing local publications and editors. More often than not, they were happy to add me to their freelance pool. For freelance editing jobs, I got them from friends I had made elsewhere who happened to be in the industry."

Are you reassured yet? Good! Now go and become a professional writer! You can do it - I believe in you. :)

Road Trip Wednesday: January 28, 2015

Yesterday we shared our favorite reads of the month, and today it's your turn:

What's the best book you read in January?

Share your answer here in the comments, or on Twitter using the hashtag #RoadTripWednesday -- we'll do our best to share all the responses and help your TBR list grow!

January Reads for the Road

I hope you're staying warm, New Englanders! If you need recs for a good book to snuggle with while you wait for some snow to melt, here are the best things we've read in the past month:

Kaitlin read PLEASE REMAIN CALM by Courtney Summers and says it was amazing and perfect.

Kate recommends WHEN MY BROTHER WAS AN AZTEC by Natalie Diaz (have your highlighter ready to make notes!).

AUDACITY by Melanie Crowder, a book in verse, about a plucky immigrant trying to create revolution in the American industrial revolution factories, is Kristin's recommendation this month.

Amy reread RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris because it is insanely good and intense, so you should read it, too! (If you like scary and/or creepy.)

What did you read in January that you recommend we get our hands on?

~Kristin H.

#ScaryYAH: Two Sentence Horror Story #1

Happy Saturday, Spookies!!

I am so excited to reveal our new (and much improved) horror feature! Some of you may remember the past two years of the Scary Writing Prompt Game, which was a great deal of fun but had plenty of room for improvements that would allow for more players and more creepiness. A revamp was necessary, and here it is!

Welcome to the very first round of Two Sentence Horror Story. This feature was inspired by a fun flurry of posts last year all across the internet that displayed brilliant (and very creepy) stories that were only two sentences in length, total.

Here at YA Highway, we have a pretty diverse range of tastes in fiction, but there are two of us in particular who especially enjoy reading and writing horror. Those two members include me (Amy Lukavics) and the incredible Kaitlin Ward. Kaitlin and I will be running this feature every month from here on out! GET EXCITED! And if not for us, well then, how about for this kick ass prize schedule!?

Prize Schedule:

Every single participant of the game is automatically entered to win a prize for the three times a year when names will be randomly drawn. These dates are:

Friday the 13th (of March) 2015

Saturday, October 31st, 2015 (in honor of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos)

Friday the 13th (of November) 2015

The more you participate, the higher a chance you have of winning! Prizes will include things ranging from scary books to DVDs to horror trinkets guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.

How To Play:

Every month, Kaitlin or I will post a photo prompt to inspire your two sentence horror story. Once you have yours ready to go, you can either:

a) Post it in the comments below
b) Tweet your two sentence horror story (if it fits!) with the hashtag #ScaryYAH
c) Post the story on Tumblr and tag it with #ScaryYAH

Every month, we will post our favorite entry from the previous round. Winners will get an additional entry for a prize on top of their participant entry. Pretty straight forward, right? We are so excited to read, retweet, and reblog your entries!

Now that we've gotten all that out of the way, let's dive into the first prompt.


This Week's Prompt:

Redemption, by {E}mma

Kaitlin's entry: "After so much death, there is nothing left but blood. And so through the blood she tiptoed."

Amy's entry: "She never did learn to swim. The blood that pooled warm and heavenly beneath her feet made her wish she had."


Unleash the Hellhounds, Spookies!

Field Trip Friday: January 23, 2015


The big news this week is very sad news. On Wednesday, it was announced that the US division of Egmont would be shutting down at the end of this month after failing to find a buyer. This leaves many people out of jobs and many authors with books that have now been canceled. Our hearts go out to all who've been affected by this sudden and upsetting turn of events.


Congrats to our girl, Kristin, for her Kirkus starred review of her soon-to-be-pubbed novel, EVERY LAST PROMISE!

Hey, previously unpublished diverse authors of short stories! Enter the We Need Diverse Books short story contest for a chance have your story pubbed in an upcoming anthology with Crown Books for Young Readers.

How did J. K. Rowling keep track of every plot point in the Harry Potter series? This spreadsheet lays it all out.

Over at the Dystel and Goderich blog, agent Mike Hoogland breaks down what he likes to see in a query letter, and agent Jessica Papin shares a successful example from an actual client.


If, like me (Kristin H.), you've been reading this book over and over and over (and over) again lately, you'll appreciate The Ugly Volvo's assessment of the bedroom from GOODNIGHT, MOON.

The Crazy QuiltEdi blog has matched up some YA reads with quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. to help us learn to live the MLK way. (via Debbie Reese)

Over at School Library Journal, Karen Jensen and Ally Watkins have started a series examining the role of faith and spirituality in YA literature.

The Barnes and Noble Teen Blog suggests some YA titles to replace the non-YA titles that ended up on Time's 100 Best Young Adult Books list. 

Over at Book Riot, Kelly Jensen's got a fabulous list of upcoming feminist YA books being published this year.

Big Brother is watching And they know you didn't finish The Goldfinch.


Congratulations to all the Edgar Award finalists! Get your mystery on and start reading.

Would you pay $300,000 for a self-destructing book? Do you also kick puppies?

The National Book Critics Circle Award nominees have been announced, and Toni Morrison will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.


How do you social media? The New York Times shares their thoughts from their 2014 Twitter experiences. The takeaway? Stop trying so hard.

What's your poison fandom? Check out the most popular fandoms, week by week, on tumblr with these nifty, scientific charts from Tumblr Fandometrics.

The NewYorker says Serena Williams is America's Greatest Athlete. But, of course, some dipstick still had to ask her to "twirl" in her tennis skirt.

Shakespeare is old news, people. Now college students are signing up to study selfies, Seinfeld, Miley Cyrus, and that most meta of academic topics, "wasting time on the internet."


The Just Dance 2015 obsession is still going strong at my house, so here are two guys who've mastered the alternate version of What Does the Fox Say?

Happy Friday! 

Road Trip Wednesday: January 21, 2015

This week, we want to know:
What are you working on? 

Share a line from your work-in-progress in the comments below, or on Twitter using the hashtag #RoadTripWednesday -- that's where we'll be sharing some of ours!