Meet Some Fellow Travelers

John Clark posting today

Regular readers of this blog do so for many reasons. They may be friends with someone who contributes, they may be lovers of mystery or lovers of Maine or they may simply like what we post. Whatever the reason, we’re thrilled to have them stop by. I’m sure that those of us who post here regularly also have blogs we love. As a young adult author, reader and reviewer, I’m always looking for something interesting and stimulating that relates to that genre. I’ve been a follower and pretty much a daily reader of one called YA Outside The Lines (YAOTL) ( for quite some time. Not only do I get some interesting perspectives on how others approach writing YA fiction, but since the folks blogging there try to have a monthly topic (last month was theme parks), I enjoy how varied the takes are.

Holly says the sequel is in progress

Holly says the sequel is in progress

Since blogs without readers risk becoming like the falling tree in the forest, I wanted to share this favorite of mine with MCW regulars, so I contacted Holly Schindler, the administrator and who has written some really great YA and juvenile fiction (her Playing Hurt is one of my all time favorites) and asked her about doing a profile. As you can see from what follows, she and several of the other members of YAOTL have come through in spades, so read on, consider checking it out regularly and enjoy. One quick reminder: If you’re in Belgrade tomorrow for the 4th of July festivities, make sure to stop by the Maine Crime Writers table. We’ll be there from 11-2.

Who started the blog and why? The blog was started by several authors with MTV books—they enjoyed blogging at the MTV site, but wanted to expand, reach out to some YA authors not necessarily being published by the same company. So YA Outside the Lines was born.

You inherited the blog—how has that gone? I know it’s a lot of work making sure blogs get up in a timely manner, even more so when you’re a writer. I always say I inherited the blog from Jennifer Echols. She was the administrator when I was asked to join. When her writing duties got to be too much, she needed to back away from blogging; I said I’d take over administrative duties. But really, there’s been very little work on my end. I shoot the bloggers reminder emails for their posts, and email the group in order to come up with a monthly “theme.” Then I just get to sit back and enjoy the posts along with everyone else.

How have posters been selected? New bloggers arrive in all sorts of ways. Sometimes they come to me asking to join, sometimes other bloggers at YAOTL will suggest new bloggers, sometimes I ask writers I meet. The only requirement is that they write (and are passionate about) YA lit.

What do you hope the blog accomplishes? I hope it introduces readers to some fabulous YA authors. I hope it provides some sense of community for both our bloggers and readers.

Funniest Post? Most unusual / embarrassing post? So hard to pick! You know, we let it fly at YA Outside the Lines—we talk about our writing journeys (full of bumps in the road), as well as our own teen lives (which are just ripe for crazy stories). You never know what you’re going to read next at YAOTL.

What do a few of your regular bloggers have to say about YA Outside the Lines?

Patty Blount

Patty Blount: “OK, my two cents’: YAOTL helps me feel like a real author. It’s hard to stay confident in this industry and hanging out with other writers who ‘get it’ makes me feel so much less alone. I’ve never met many of these authors but in a very real sense, they’ve become my family. Nothing Left to Burn is my fourth YA with Sourcebooks Fire and releases on 8/5!”

Jennifer Hubbard

Jennifer Hubbard: “My first experience with YAOTL was as a reader–so many authors I admired were part of it. I loved the ‘pushing the boundaries of the genre and writing from the heart’ tagline, because that’s what YA is to me: A genre that’s constantly being redefined. Writing with emotional depth. I love reading everyone’s take on the different subjects we tackle. It’s like a mini-anthology every month.
Bio info: Jennifer R. Hubbard is the author of three YA novels, most recently UNTIL IT HURTS TO STOP, and a nonfiction book about writing, LONER IN THE GARRET: A WRITER’S COMPANION.”


Courtney McKinney-Whitaker, author of the historical YA THE LAST SISTER: “I think the best part for me has been “meeting” other writers, if virtually, and getting to know you all through your posts and comments. It makes a lonely job feel less lonely.”

Jody Casella

Jody Casella, author of THIN SPACE: “I love being a part of YAOTL. I enjoy the themes each month– coming up with a post and reading the other writers’ approaches to the topics. But what I like most about the group is the sense of community. Writing is such a solitary activity. We’re plugging away, alone, on our laptops, and sometimes it can feel pretty lonely. It’s been nice to meet the people behind the books, people, who it turns out, are a lot like me, with kids and pets and dirty dishes and part-time jobs, people who are juggling writing and promoting, who are working and reworking manuscripts and always dreaming to get more of their stories out into the world. Many of the YAOTLers have become my friends over the past few years.”

jen Doktorski

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, author of THE SUMMER AFTER YOU AND ME: “W riting is such a solitary craft that I’m happy to be part of a community of YA authors who understand that the day-to-day business of being an author isn’t always pretty. Some days/weeks/months are more intense than others and during those periods, I become very anti-social, often turning down invitations from friends and putting all non-writing related activities on hold. Reading the blog posts of my fellow YAOTLers, as well as writing my own post once a month, forces me to think about something other than the project I’m currently submerged in and makes me feel connected. I’m always inspired about what others post and often find myself expanding my reading list as well as following their advice about everything from writing a better sentence to decluttering my home.”

Natasha Sinel

Natasha Sinel: “I have been a follower of YAOTL for years (and years and years), and it has been so inspiring to read the heartfelt posts during the long lonely stretch of working toward getting traditionally published.

What I loved about YAOTL as a follower was how different it was from other author blogs. First off, it was one of the first co-op blogs I’d seen, and I loved the monthly topics and how each author had something different to say. It was also different from other blogs because it was about craft and emotion. Most other blogs I followed were about querying, how to get published, etc. I loved seeing the inside look at authors’ writing lives. I remember dreaming of being an author and being a part of a site like YAOTL!

I also loved YAOTL as a follower because it introduced me to authors I wasn’t familiar with (like Holly Schindler whose A BLUE SO DARK really stuck with me). Once I finally got a publishing deal, I approached Holly for a blurb request, and not only did I get the most amazing blurb for THE FIX, Holly invited me to join YAOTL. I have loved writing my YAOTL monthly blog posts about interesting topics where I can dive into my feelings about writing, reading, life, being an author. And I continue to love reading my colleagues’ posts. My debut YA novel THE FIX releases September 1, 2015 from Sky Pony Press.” (NOTE: I’ve read an ARC of This and it’s a great book!)

How do you pick a monthly theme and can you say which have worked the best? I shoot an email to the group mid-month, saying it’s time to throw out some ideas for a theme. Many of our themes have been seasonal, some have been tied strictly to the writing industry. Our best themes have always been those that are the most open-ended (so that bloggers can still find something fresh to say at the end of the month). But we also usually find ways to tie even the most non-writing-sounding theme into our work…

What else would you like MCW readers to know about the blog? Just that we’re always looking to interact with new readers. Be sure to follow us at If you’d like to suggest a monthly theme you’d like us to write about, you can always shoot me a message at writehollyschindler (at) yahoo (dot) com.

holly s

About Holly Schindler, YA Outside the Lines Administrator:

Holly Schindler is the author of four traditionally published books; her work has received starred reviews in Booklist and Publishers Weekly, has won silver and gold medals in ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year and the IPPY Awards, respectively, has been featured on Booklist’s Best First Novels for Youth and School Library Journal’s What’s Hot in YA, and has been a PW Pick of the Week. She recently became a hybrid author; FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS (contemporary adult humor) is her first independently published book. She is owned by a Pekingese named Jake and can be found working on her next book—PLAY IT AGAIN, the sequel to her YA romance PLAYING HURT—in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri. She can also be found at, @holly_schindler, and For sneak peeks, giveaways, news, writing tips, and more, subscribe to her newsletter:

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2 Responses to Meet Some Fellow Travelers

  1. MCWriTers says:

    Oh no, John! Not more books to read. Seriously, thanks for sharing this. You always make me want to read yet more.


  2. Jenn Hubbard says:

    Thanks for featuring YAOTL, John! 🙂

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