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I really enjoyed hearing Christian Trimmer speak at a recent SCBWI event at The Loft at Congress.  Huge thanks to Christian, Linda Bernfeld, Laurie Taddonio, and Flora Doone for putting together such a wonderful event.  And free, too!  FL SCBWI rocks, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.
Christian Trimmer

Christian has been in the business for seven years, and absolutely raves about his authors, such as Mo Willems, Stacey Kade, and Robin Mellom. Right now, he said that Disney Hyperion isn’t actively looking for paranormal or much science fiction.  He loves books with rich details that find the truth in relationships, like Ditched by Robin Mellom and Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford.

What do editors want?  Christian said a great voice, authenticity, and honest emotions.  Research helps make the world more believable. Pay attention to the details!  This helps make sure that readers can see the scenes, too and adds a layer of credibility. 

In almost all his editorial letters, he mentions character motivation.  If you can’t see what drives a character, then neither will readers.  When you create a character, you want readers to see themselves in that person.  You need to have an emotional arc (which helps readers genuinely care about a character) and a narrative arc.

     Here are some tips Christian shared with us:     

* Build a network—it’s great for support (he could tell our local SCBWI is an extremely supportive group).  Seek help with info if you need it.

* Make yourself stand out.  Marketing and publicity love when a writer has an active blog and large online following.

* Seek out agents who rep books from authors you admire.

* If you receive several offers, make sure you chat with an editor on the phone before accepting to make sure he or she is the right one for you. 

* You need to be prepared to sell books.  You have to talk about your books, and try to get your face out in the community to teachers, librarians, and book sellers.

* Envision your entire career—not just selling one book.  

* Set real deadlines and be disciplined enough to make them.  Write daily!

* Everyone’s path is different.

* Aim to have a second book published about a year after the first one is out.  Write at least one book per year to keep the momentum going.

* It’s good to have a couple manuscripts under your belt when you sign with an agent.  You never know which manuscript will hit first. 

Someone asked about boy books.  Christian said boys don’t read as much as girls do.  Humor definitely works, and when you have a boy main character, it can’t hurt to throw in a girl to widen your audience.

Besides a great voice and everything else I mentioned, what else is Christian looking for?  He said he’d love to find a religious allegory (bible tales made relevant for today), and something about recent wars in Afghanistan or Irac and how they affected teens.

Christian was full of helpful information, and went out of his way to chat with everyone and answer questions.  I hope we’ll have him at another event soon!   

When you have a chance, check out my recent From the Mixed-Up Files...of Middle-Grade Authors blog post. There are so many middle-grade novels, it’s hard to know what to read next.  If I love a book, I usually rush to pick up future novels from that author.  But how do you find great new authors in the first place?

I often seek out books that friends rave about, plus anything that catches my eye on the Mixed-Up Files book lists (you can browse categories like reluctant readers, books for boys, fantasy/paranormal, etc. and if you scroll toward the bottom you’ll see all our past new release posts).

Since we love helping our readers discover great new books, I listed some of my favorite middle-grade novels that came out in the past couple of years by new authors (or authors who are new to this genre).  I’d love to know what some of your favorite books are, too! 

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( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 13th, 2012 01:37 am (UTC)
Christian Trimmer
Thanks, Mindy, for providing such an interesting and informative post! As a a relative newbie to the professional side of writing, I can use all the help I can get and since I write PB, MG, and YA as well as poetry and essays, I need to stay up to date with a number of genres...;0)

Thanks for all YOU do for the writing community!

Take care,

Donna Martin
Mar. 13th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC)
Re: Christian Trimmer
Aw, you're welcome, Donna. I'm glad it's helpful!

I just took a peek at everything listed under my 'workshop' tag. I probably should weed out info about faculty on past workshops, etc. but you could scan through it fairly quickly if you want and find more PB, MG, and YA info from the past several years on there. http://mindyalyse.livejournal.com/tag/workshop

Mar. 13th, 2012 01:58 am (UTC)
Great tips
Great tips :) Though I disagree that boys don't read as much as girls - I have 2 boys & can't keep up with the books they're reading!!

Mar. 13th, 2012 02:49 am (UTC)
Re: Great tips
Thanks, Melissa.

Yay that your boys love to read. That's wonderful! Many boys read picture books, and I think quite a few boys read middle-grade novels, but I believe YA is the hardest to get boys to read. But there are a lot of great books out there for boys, so I hope that changes soon. And I hope your boys always love to read!
Mirka Breen
Mar. 13th, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
Christian Trimmer has a lot to be proud of, with the authors you mentioned.
Thank you for the generous sharing, Mindy Alyse.
Mar. 13th, 2012 06:09 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, Mirka. And I agree with you 100%. It was wonderful watching him rave about his authors. It's always great to see such an enthusiastic editor!

Mar. 13th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
Christian Trimmer
Fantastic post, Mindy - I feel like I was right there with you. Thanks to both you and Christian for sharing this great information!
Mar. 13th, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Christian Trimmer
Thanks so much, Jodi. :)
Mar. 13th, 2012 05:07 pm (UTC)
Great post!!! I'm in the Apoclypsies with Robin Mellom and LOVE her book DITCHED so much I posted my own blue dress prom pictures!!! And as a mom of three boys who do read a lot and love books--humor is still a two thumbs up!!!
Mar. 13th, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Kim! And yay that you have three boys who love to read. That's fantastic...I'm sure they get their love of reading from their amazing, talented mom. :)
Jennifer Rumberger
Mar. 13th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
agent post
Thanks Mindy for sharing information on the time spent with Christian Trimmer. Loved reading about his thoughts!
Mar. 14th, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC)
Re: agent post
You're welcome, Jennifer. :)
Mar. 16th, 2012 02:51 pm (UTC)
Cynsational News & Giveaways
User cynleitichsmith referenced to your post from Cynsational News & Giveaways saying: [...] awards, and New York Times best seller status." Christian Trimmer: Editor at Disney Hyperion [...]
Mar. 16th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Cynsational News & Giveaways
Thanks, Cyn! Cynsations is such a wonderful resource, and I'm thrilled to be included in today's post.
Mar. 17th, 2012 02:49 am (UTC)
About boys.
My 3 boys went from reading picture books to chapter books to adult books. They all skipped MD and YA. I think boys who like to read don't want to appear nerdy so they jump straight into adult books. The cool stuff. And philosophy and nonfiction (history & social " stuff" seemed the coolest. Well, that's how it happened with my kids and my husband. Of course, some (most) boys will also venture into sex topics.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


Mindy's head shot
Mindy Alyse Weiss
I write humorous middle-grade novels with heart and quirky picture books.

I'm an Administrator on the SCBWI Blueboard, the FL SCBWI Newsletter Editor and Critique Group Coordinator, and a proud member of From The Mixed Up Files...of Middle-Grade Authors

I've been married for twenty years and have two beautiful daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix pup who was rescued from the Everglades.

I've been published in Highlights three times and placed in the 80th Writer's Digest Competition.


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