News

09 Feb

Cover Reveal for THE DISASTERS!

In Uncategorized by MK England / February 9, 2018 / 0 Comments

In case you missed it, the cover for THE DISASTERS has been officially revealed, and my very first ARC giveaway is happening along with it! Yaaaaassss!


Wanna enter that ARC giveaway and see the new cover? Head on over to the reveal post on YABooksCentral and let me know what you think. I think it suits the book so well!

In the meantime, it’s social media hiatus time for me. Gotta finish up my first pass pages for THE DISASTERS, finish the first three chapters of MG Space Book, and dive hardcore into my second book! Catch you in a few days. 

01 Feb

February Year of Space Goodies!

In Book Extras,Reading,Recs by MK England / February 1, 2018 / 0 Comments

Happy February!

🚀🌟🌌 The first month of 2018 is somehow already over, but that’s okay because that means it’s time for your next dose of space goodness! Onward and upward! 🚀🌟🌌


What the hell is this about? As a reminder, last month I declared 2018 the Year of Space, and to celebrate I’m posting goodies on the 1st of every month to help you get more space in your life. Music, books, video games, podcasts, GIVEAWAYS, & more! I’m using #2018isforSpace all year, but no need to go hunting—I’ll be posting all the goodies right here and linking to them in my newsletter each month. (Speaking of which… if you wanna see the cover of THE DISASTERS before the rest of the world, you might wanna sign up for that newsletter in the next 10 hours… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

This month I figured, hey, we’ve got 11 months left in this Year of Space, so maybe I should pick something that’ll take you a good long time to consume, right? So, buckle up for an epic list of…

Yep, I went full librarian on your asses. I’ve included books across four age categories here: Young Adult, Adult, Middle Grade/Kids, and Picture Books. But folks, I’m totally serious about this: I really think you should read at least one from each category. Your local public library system should have most of these on hand, so why not give a spacey picture book a try? It’s 32 pages and usually less than 800 words. You can handle that. I believe in you. I’ve also curated this list to ensure it only has books that involve space. That means no Earth-based sci-fi, no time travel, alien invasions, or other sci-fi subgenres.

Just like last month’s Space Tunes playlist, this is a living list, meaning your contributions are always welcome! You have books you want to see on this list? Suggest them in the comments or over on twitter and I’ll look them over to see if they’re a good fit.

Without further ado, you can download the base list as a PDF, or visit the living list here.

Enjoy a year of fabulous space reads, and I’ll be back next month with more space goodies! As they say on StarTalk Radio—don’t forget to look up. 🌟🌟🌟

01 Jan

2018 is the Year of Spaaaaace!

In Book Extras,The Disasters by MK England / January 1, 2018 / 0 Comments

Hello, my friends!

It is a shiny new year, and not just any year, but 2018—my debut year! I can officially say that THE DISASTERS releases this year and I AM EXCITE. So much, in fact, that I gotta do something.

🚀🌟🌌 I am hereby declaring 2018 the Year of Space, and to celebrate I’m posting goodies on the 1st of every month to help you get more space in your life. Music, books, video games, podcasts, GIVEAWAYS, & more! I’m using #2018isforSpace all year, but no need to go hunting—I’ll be posting all the goodies right here and linking to them in my newsletter each month.  🚀🌟🌌

Your space goodies for the month of January: a space-themed playlist for your listening enjoyment!

Click the image above to get your Spotify playlist of space tunes, or just go to bit.ly/spacetunes2018.

Got suggestions to add to the playlist? I’d love to hear them! Tell me your favorite spacey songs below.

Here’s to a fantastic 2018 full of wonder, exploration, and new discoveries.

 

22 Dec

THE DISASTERS Release Date!

In News,The Disasters by MK England / December 22, 2017 / 0 Comments

IT’S FINAL. IT’S REAL. IT’S LESS THAN A YEAR AWAY.

If you want updates, exclusive content, giveaways, and behind-the-scenes peeks until then, subscribe to my monthly Eccentric Orbit newsletter.

Are you ready?

2018 is gonna be the year of space.

09 Oct

THERE’S DISASTERS NEWS + a shiny new newsletter

In Book Extras,News,PR/Marketing,Publishing,The Disasters by MK England / October 9, 2017 / 0 Comments

DISASTERS THINGS ARE HAPPENING. So much has gone on behind the scenes over the past two months and I’m so excited to tell you EVERYTHING! If you want to be the first one to know all the things, I’ve created a shiny new monthly newsletter for you to sign up for:

Subscribers get first dibs on all news and announcements (including release date, cover reveals, tour dates, and more!), exclusive content, early excerpts from THE DISASTERS, subscriber-only giveaways, and more. For the writers out there, each issue will also have Particles, a monthly #writetip where I share some bite-sized knowledge I’ve learned along this publishing crash course.

I’ll only be sending one email per month, so don’t worry about me clogging up your inbox. Click here if you want to sign up! And if you wanna be amazing, you can also help me spread the word by RTing this tweet here or reposting this on IG. THANK YOOOOU!

Sorry for ghosting on y’all lately, but at least now you can have a monthly reminder that I’m not actually dead, right?

Happy October!

 

18 Jul

Pitch Wars 2017 MSWL: M.K. England and Jamie Pacton (YA)

In Pitch Wars by MK England / July 18, 2017 / 0 Comments

We are YA co-mentors M.K. England and Jamie Pacton. We’re Pitch Wars 2015 mentees turned mentors, and we’re here for your YA submissions! What’s Pitch Wars, you ask? Check out the shiny new Pitch Wars website and learn all about it. 

(Make sure you visit Jamie’s site, too!)

We met in the Pitch Wars 2015 mentee facebook group, took a shine to each other, and now we’re awesome friends who support each other through the ups and downs of publishing. We both got so much out of being part of PW that we want to give back to the community and help future generations of mentees. This is our second year mentoring together, we read all the things, and we want YOU to send us your YA manuscript. Jamegan: two mentors for the price of one!

WHY you should submit to us:

Jamie is a college English teacher and is one of the kindest, most supportive coaches you could ever ask for. M.K. is a YA librarian and knows her stuff about the market and YA voice. We’ve both successfully queried agents and have been on submission to publishers. M.K. has a book coming out with a Big 5 publisher next fall. Jamie is awesome at character development, relationships, and spotting opportunities for more detail and worldbuilding. M.K.’s biggest strength is pacing, tension, and the more mechanical stuff: flow, sentence structure, information handling, etc. Together, we fuse into one SUPER MENTOR OF JUSTICE.

WHAT you should submit to us:

Give us: Your absolute best effort. Unstoppable voice, believable characters (who don’t have to be likeable), settings that feel real. ANY GENRE except those listed in the ‘No’ category below.

Yes Please: LGBTQ+ characters, sci-fi/fantasy with fresh twists, historical fantasy/alt history, contemporary fantasy, straight up contemporary with a strong sense of place, fresh retellings (mythology from your own culture, non-fairy tales, etc.), interesting structure, #OwnVoices, science/environmental themes, complex friendships.

Bonus Points: A queer “This Savage Song”; positive representation of poly relationships; anything that makes us laugh out loud; awesome feminist ladies.

No Thanks:  Really intense horror, literary, sicklit, time travel, christian fiction, heavy issue books, anything super slow-paced and quiet or depressing. We’re not the best people to help shape works like these. We’re not wild about getting dystopian unless it has strong Sci-fi/Fantasy elements. We also have to pass on books set at conventions or that have fandom as a central element—Megan has seen a hundred of them on her librarian desk lately and has written one herself, so she’s a bit burned out on them.

Big Nopes: On-screen incest, rape, abuse– no problem if this is part of backstory and handled well, but we aren’t the best mentors for books that dig into these traumas. Bigoted or misogynistic narratives are never okay with us. Also, you don’t have to have LGBTQ+ characters, but we struggle with super heteronormative books where it feels like queer people don’t exist. Violence toward animals is also a pass.

HOW we work:

We start with an edit letter plus a phone call or google hangout meeting for big picture stuff first. Next up will be in-line comments for smaller stuff and style issues. We’ll do several passes through your query, pitch, and synopsis before the agent round to make sure you’re in the best possible shape to utterly rock it. Frequent communication via whatever method you prefer is on offer. If you’re ready to bust your butt, we’re ready to guide you and cheer you on. Revising is a collaboration, and we’re excited to work with you to bring your vision for your book to life!

WHO we are and what we like:

M.K. Writes: Both YA and Adult Space Opera, Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Contemp. And fanfic, because yes.

Jamie Writes: YA Fantasy, Alt History, Dark Fairy Tales. And funny MG books.

Comp Titles We Love: The Raven Cycle, Caraval, And I Darken, Carry On, Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, anything by Leigh Bardugo, Bitch Planet, Rat Queens, Saga, Little Brother, Wolf by Wolf, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Spaceship Next Door

Other Stuff We’re Into: Tabletop gaming, video games, Sherlock Holmes, Firefly, Star Wars, hiking, farming, dogs, the Wonder Woman movie, The Magicians, driving too fast on winding mountain roads, space.

More questions?: @Geektasticlib. @JamiePacton.

M.K. England is an author and YA librarian living in the mountainy parts of Virginia. When she’s not writing or librarianing, MK can be found drowning in fandom, going to conventions, rolling dice at the gaming table, climbing on things in the woods, or feeding her video game addiction. She loves Star Wars with a desperate, heedless passion. It’s best if you never speak of Sherlock Holmes in her presence. You’ll regret it. Her debut YA space opera, THE DISASTERS, will be out in Fall 2018 from HarperCollins Children’s. Find her online at www.mkengland.com and on twitter, tumblr, and instagram.

Jamie Pacton is a writer and English teacher living in Wisconsin. She grew up down the road from the National Storytelling Center in East Tennessee; and, as the bossy oldest of ten siblings,  used to make her brothers and sisters act out her writing. These days, she spends her free moments wandering by Lake Michigan, checking out way too many books from her local library, chasing her children, and watching all the things on Netflix. She’s partial to history fun facts, adventure stories, The Magicians, Battlestar Galactica, Project Runway, and staying up way too late. Find her online at www.jamiepacton.com and on twitter.

Look *alive*, future mentees! There’s work to be done, lots to learn, and successes to be gained. We hope to see your submission in our inbox this August!

Check out the other YA mentors below:

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28 Jun

The “Keep in Mind” List

In Drafting,Editing,Writing Process by MK England / June 28, 2017 / 1 Comment

I have a quick little something to share today that’s been helping me tons with both drafting new projects and revising THE DISASTERS:

The “Keep in Mind” List

The idea for this came out of two things. First was something I read on Maggie Stiefvater’s tumblr a long time ago that really struck a chord with me. “…when I wrote The Raven Boys, I had a sticky note affixed to my computer that read: Remember that the worst thing that can happen is that they can stop being friends.

In many ways, that is the guiding principle of the entire series, the most important thing for Maggie to remember as she wrote those books. It’s the thing to write toward, the thing that should be an undercurrent in every scene, a constant touchstone. I loved the idea of keeping something like that close at hand during my writing and revising sessions.

Second, I was going through my edit letter for THE DISASTERS and taking notes on things I wanted to change, and I noticed that there were a lot of subtle tweaks that would carry through the whole book, usually in the form of tiny character traits I needed to make sure were present throughout. I was worried that just leaving them on my revision outline under the “general changes” heading wouldn’t be enough to keep them at the forefront of my mind as I worked.

Hence… the Keep in Mind list. I put it up right next to my computer (okay, it’s currently paperclipped to a lampshade, but it WORKS) so it’s always in my field of vision while I’m working. Whenever I surface from the zone of revising, I look over at that list and check in—am I accomplishing what I set out to do? Are the characters coming through clearly? Have I let the stakes drive my characters’ emotional responses and actions?

A Keep in Mind list (for a totally made up project) might look something like this:

  • Jen is a terrible liar
  • Ana always wears blue (except when she doesn’t) because symbolism
  • Callie would be miserable without her creative outlet
  • John’s daddy issues are at the core of everything
  • Make Raj a bit softer throughout
  • If they don’t succeed, a volcano will explode and the whole world will die

If you decide to give the Keep in Mind list a try, let me know how it goes for you! Do you have any techniques to keep you focused on the important concepts while you write or revise? Let me know in the comments. Happy writing!

16 Jun

The Problem With “Good” Media

In Gaming,Personal,Publishing,Reading by MK England / June 16, 2017 / 0 Comments

Hi folks. I’ve gotta rant for a minute so I can get this out of my brain and focus on drafting today.


I actively put my money toward things I want to support. Books by authors of color, movies directed by women, video games with queer characters, and so on. And yet, when I dare say that I want to see a movie or buy a book because I want to financially support it, I often get this line: “I don’t care about any of that. I just want a good story.”

There’s a problem with this thinking.

It seems fine on the surface, right? Why shouldn’t we just support GOOD media, no matter who makes it? At the end of the day, we all want a good story. Of course we do.

The problem is that it assumes all creators are on equal footing from the start. It assumes all good stories receive the funding, industry support, advertising, and so on that they need to succeed, that good stories don’t get buried in flooded markets and go unnoticed because of who made them or who’s in them. It requires us to live in a society where there’s no racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, etc. influencing the decisions made by industry gatekeepers: producers, casting directors, professional reviewers, literary agents, editors, and ultimately the audience.

An author of color submits a book to a white agent, then gets a rejection letter that says they just couldn’t connect to the story. Sometimes it’s the fault of the story. We’ve all gotten that rejection before. But sometimes it’s that the white agent couldn’t connect to an experience outside their own, thus silencing that voice. A reviewer can’t connect to a movie completely dominated by women, with minimal male characters. Sometimes the story is weak. Sometimes it’s that a male reviewer can’t connect with being in the position women find themselves in every day. (Note, though, that many folks have no problem connecting to elves, wizards, trolls, and animated lions. A Black character in present-day America, though? Suddenly that’s difficult.)


This is not news to any marginalized person who works in a creative field. It’s not (or shouldn’t be, at this point) news to anyone in the YA and children’s publishing world, where the last four years have seen a huge push for better representation, and representation by #ownvoices authors (people with lived experience of whatever they’re representing). And some change can and should come from within, as is slowly happening in publishing. The structure of power within these media industries needs to shift.

Audiences need to change too, though. We vote with our dollars. That’s what we can do to change the industry from the outside.

So yes, if I have a limited pool of cash to spend, I’m going to spend it in a way that gives support to marginalized creators. Because their stories are good, and because they deserve the support that the industry denies them. That might mean I don’t see the latest awesome, critically-acclaimed movie written, directed, and starred in by straight cisgender white dudes. And I feel fine about that. They don’t need my support. I’ll see it on Netflix.

But you’re damn right that I’ve seen Wonder Woman twice, that I pre-ordered The Hate U Give and The Gauntlet, that I played Gone Home and Dragon Age: Inquisition. With the dollars I spend, I tell the industry, “Hey, this thing you did here? I like it, and I’m willing to pay money for it. Please give me some more.”

After all, broader perspectives and more diverse creative teams lead to new ideas and—dare I say it?—good media.

So, if you want good stories, consider being more deliberate with where you place your limited funds. Yes, this may help me in some ways and hurt me in others. If you buy my books because I’m gay*, genderqueer, or mentally ill, awesome. If you don’t buy my books because I’m white and you want to buy something by an author of color instead, also awesome. Either way, you’re shaping the future. High five, you.

And in the meantime, we can dream of a world where everyone’s works are on equal footing in the battle for the title of Good Story.

20 Mar

Why I Write YA

In Publishing,Questions Answered,Reading by MK England / March 20, 2017 / 0 Comments

Someone on my fandom tumblr just asked me why I write YA and what the primary characteristics are. I, of course, LOVE to nerd out about this very topic and yet have NEVER put into words what I love about YA. So, here:

gif-belle-books

First, let’s define YA fiction as best we can. Terminology: YA is not a genre, it’s an age category. Genres are things like romance, mystery, sci-fi. Age categories are things like middle grade, young adult, easy reader, adult. So, any given book will have both a genre and an age category. Next, misconceptions: YA is not only for teenagers. YA is not dumbed down, shallow, or lacking complexity. You cannot make any assumptions about quality, and very few assumptions about content, based on the fact that a book is shelved as YA.

So, what is it? Most YA books feature a protagonist aged 14-15 for lower YA or 16-19 for upper YA. The book is written in a teen’s voice and through their point of view, which is influenced by where they’re at developmentally. This authentic teen voice is critical: Not all books with teen protagonists are YA books. YA fiction is published for and marketed to ages 12-18, but is very widely read by adults as well. There are a few limitations on content. YA fiction can absolutely tackle tough topics like rape, drugs, sex, lots of swearing, violence, etc. The only real limit is that torture and rape can’t be gratuitous (nor should they be in adult fiction, but that happens all the time, ugh), and there can’t be any really explicit on-page sex.

So, why do I write YA?

The simple answer is: I write YA because it’s what I love to read. Any writer needs to read extensively in their chosen age category and genre, so it really helps if you actually love it. My other job is being a YA librarian, which means both my careers are heavily teen-centric and YA fiction-centric. They jive.

But you’re looking for something deeper than that, and there’s plenty. WHY do I like to read and write YA? Oh, so many reasons. In no particular order:

1) There’s no shame. Read romance, read sci fi, read literary, read horror—the culture of judgment just doesn’t exist in the YA world to the same degree it does in the adult world. Oh, it’s definitely still there, especially among awards committees, but the perceived gap between a YA literary novel and a YA romance novel feels far less than that between a National Book Award winner and a bodice-ripping adult romance. NOT, let me clarify, because the YA literary novel is not of equally significant quality and value to the National Book Award-winning adult book, but because the YA world has much more of a read-and-let-read mentality.

2) Teenagers are at the greatest point of change in life, and that makes for fascinating characters to explore. Throw someone who is growing and changing and forming their identity into challenging circumstances and watch the magic happen. Many adults are quite set in their ways. Teens are more likely to be adaptable, fierce, open-minded.

3) Teens are (in general) less bogged down by “life stuff”. They haven’t had 30, 40, 50, 60 years of friends and family dying, failed relationships, lost jobs, destroyed homes, and all the other bad shit we accumulate in life. There’s a freshness that I find appealing in a character, and I enjoy being able to mold a character as I see fit without having to work around the giant elephant of their history and baggage. (That said, there are absolutely teens who have had extremely rough lives, and there are YA novels that tackle that, too.)

4) I think teen voices are vastly undervalued in our society (at least, in American society, can’t speak to elsewhere). I respect and value teens and by writing them I get to put a little power back into their hands.

5) The YA world is where the charge is being let for large-scale change in the publishing world. Check out the We Need Diverse Books movement, originated by YA authors. YA authors are making real change in the publishing world, working for authentic, sensitive, and equal representation of marginalized groups in fiction. While the rest of the world cries about lack of diversity in the media, YA authors are Getting Shit Done.

6) That energy permeates the entire YA fiction world. It’s an electric place to be.

7) LGBTQ+ content doesn’t preclude a book from being a major financial success in the YA world. LGBTQ+ rep is becoming increasingly common and welcome. YA agents are actively seeking it. YA editors are more and more open to it. It’s beautiful.

8) It’s fun and I love it.

I’m juggling three adult projects right now because I contractually can’t sell a third YA novel until late next year anyway and I’m having a great time with them. I’m not saying YA is BETTER than adult. But, I am saying the COMMUNITY around YA fiction is better, and that it’s a different experience that I really enjoy. I’m also unabashedly trying to convince all of you that YA is legitimate and is not in any way less than adult fiction, because every loser who writes an inflammatory column in the New York Times about YA lakjsdhflkashd okay this is a whole other thing that makes me really angry so I’ll stop now YA IS GREAT OKAY BYE.

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16 Dec

Charitable Giving for the Holidays

In Personal by MK England / December 16, 2016 / 0 Comments

2017 update: Greetings, folks! I just gave this a re-read and I still stand by these causes for my 2017 donation gifts. I’ll be featuring one of these causes in my first newsletter issue, out on 12/18/17, which you can subscribe to here!

——————-

Hey, folks, long time no post! 2016 has been kicking me in the face repeatedly for the past few months, and I’m hard at work on revisions for THE DISASTERS.

kiiick

The holidays make demands on our time as well, including the increasingly difficult task of buying gifts for friends and family. This year, partially inspired by the outcome of the US election, I’ve decided to almost exclusively give charitable donations as gifts. Donations are a fantastic gift for anyone with a cause close to their heart, or anyone who is hard to buy for/already has everything. They also make great gifts for business associates or people who get tons of random STUFF every year (i.e. your agent or editor!).

Around the holidays, people invariably start throwing around baseless claims about this charity or that. “This charity’s CEO is a volunteer, they don’t get paid!” or “This charity spends 100% of donations on programs, no administrative costs!”. Both of these statements are almost always false, and as a librarian dedicated to information literacy, the spread of misinformation really bugs me A LOT. If you choose to open your heart and wallet this holiday season, I beg you to thoroughly research the organizations you choose to give to. What do their financials look like (if you can even find them)? What work do they REALLY do? What is the ideology behind their work? Study their website. Check Charity Navigator if they’re a large enough organization. Read, evaluate, confirm with additional sources where possible.

The best charitable gifts will speak to the heart of the person for whom the donation will be made. Are they a veteran or active duty military? Do they love animals? Are they concerned with the refugee crisis? Are they involved in a tech field? Here are a few that are close to my heart that are getting my money this year, both from me and in the name of my friends and family. Do you have any favorites? Add them in the comments below!

The Brain and Behavior Research Center, providing grants to scientists researching mental illness. They really DO put 100% of donations toward grants because their operating costs are completely covered by two family foundations. (bbrfoundation.org)

We Need Diverse Books, providing grants to interns of color breaking into the publishing industry and authors of color developing their careers. (weneeddiversebooks.org)

Islamic Relief USA, providing humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and orphan care throughout the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, and the USA. Your donation is highly customizable in that you can choose a specific country or project to donate to, or donate to a general fund. (irusa.org)

First Book, providing free books to low-income children. I’ve worked in a library where we distributed First Books to the community and we were grateful for their contributions. (firstbook.org)

The It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project, providing resources and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth. Both are very social media savvy and reach teens where they’re at. I’ve witnessed the good these two organizations do first hand. (thetrevorproject.org , itgetsbetter.org)

Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code, providing summer computer science immersion programs and working to close the gender gap in tech fields. BGC especially is a young organization working to grow and expand their efforts. (girlswhocode.com, blackgirlscode.com)

The Malala Fund, working toward a world where every girl gets 12 years of safe, quality education. (malala.org)

Happy holidays to you all, and may 2017 be significantly less terrible!

(Also, basically don’t talk to me for the next 6 weeks if you don’t want to hear about BBC Sherlock. You’ve been warned.)

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