Wednesday, September 29, 2010
First, let's tackle the boy problem. Hannah Moskowitz blogged about it at the end of July. Her post stirred up a lot of discussion on the topic.
A WSJ article by Thomas Spence (via Caren Estesen's Posterous) takes a look at raising boys who read.
And the blog Chasing Ray asks if boys will pick up a book with a bra on the cover.
Speaking personally, I agree with the simplicity of the post on Chasing Ray. The book, THE SECOND BASE CLUB sounds like a fun, boy-oriented read. Will a boy carry around a book with a bra on the cover? Probably not.
ETA: Here's an additional link from E.J. Wesley in the comments.
I don't know about you, but when I'm browsing in Borders, I don't see boys stalking the YA shelves like Edward Cullen stalking Bella. I've yet to see ONE guy in the YA section. There are boys in the MG section, but where are the YA boys? They're in the non-fic section, snatching up sports books, history books, biographies. They're in the fantasy, sci-fi, and horror sections. They're reading adult books, not books with bras and sparkly McVamp Pants on the cover.
Let's be honest. Walk through the YA shelves and see what the covers say to you. I'm going as far as to say (in my non-official study) that 90% of the covers have girls on the covers looking longingly at a guy, or appearing all confused and EMO over some paranormal thing going on in her life. (For the record, I love paranormal/Urban Fantasy) The books might be great, but if I were a teenage guy, I wouldn't go near the YA shelves on a bet with all the girly covers. And the covers are doing their job, aren't they? Reaching their target audience - TEEN GIRLS. So, why are we surprised that boys aren't swarming the bookstores for YA books?
ETA: What do you think the E-Reader culture will do for boys reading YA - will it bring more boys to the books without displaying the covers as they carry their device around?
I think the dystopian covers already out in the world (Hunger Games for example), and those to come, (Divergent by Veronica Roth) might do a lot to bring boys back into the fold of YA. Let's hope.
On to another hot topic - dead parents in YA. Lots of discussion going on about this as well. The Publishers Weekly article, The Ol' Dead Dad Syndrome, sparked blog posts, such as this one by Nathan Bransford.
Why is it that so many parents in YA are dead? Are YA authors channeling their inner Disney writers? Because, seriously, why does the mom always bite it in the beginning of Disney movies? Maybe it's the same reason YA authors do it - instant conflict and internal turmoil.
The question seems to be: Is having a dead parent (or parents) lazy writing?
The answer, in my opinion, is the same answer for any question about plot. If it's done well, it's not lazy writing. If it is done for a real reason that adds depth and dimension to the story, then it's not lazy writing. If it's done to get Mom and Dad out of the way so Suzie can have Sam spend the night - it might be a tad lazy.
It's impossible to lump all of the dead parent(s) in YA together and classify the authors as lazy writers taking the easy way out--or, the exact opposite, genius writers who explore the grieving process of young adults - you can't take this one out of context. Each book has to stand on its own and rely on its own merit. Just like anything else we write, it can work beautifully, or end up a hot mess.
Give us your thoughts, and any other links relating to boys reading YA, or dead YA parents in the comments.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Why Adult Women Connect with Young Adult Books
It's been obvious for a while that young adult books don't just appeal to teens. Adults are often seen reading and discussing young adult books -- and it's not just adult YA writers. ;)
I was thinking about this recently in terms of why YA books specifically connect so well with adult women. Why do we want to read about teenage girls when so many of us would never want to return to that confusing and sometimes painful period in our lives? What do adult women get out of teen angst and high school settings and how do they relate to teen girls today? Better yet, what do we -- the collective adult female writers -- feel we can share with today's teens? I'll list a few answers that came to mind for me.
- Why do we want to read about teenage girls?
1) We've been there. We know what girls that age are experiencing, which makes it easier to connect with the main character and root for them from the beginning.
2) It's always fun to read from a perspective of a character that does things far differently than we did as a teen. It's like reliving that age and testing new limits without actually having to do it ourselves.
3) Escapism. Have adult responsibilities you need to take care of? Bah. Take a break for an hour and go back to a time where there were no bills, taxes, jobs, or crying children. (At least not our own. ;))
- What do adult women get out of teen angst and high school settings and how do they relate to teen girls today?
1) Water cooler, anyone? Work settings are often just an older version of a high school situation. Cliques are formed, outfits picked apart, and friend building hierarchies can even effect your promotions and job status. (Well, I personally don't work in this type of setting, but I have many friends that do.) We still know what it's like to get THE look from another woman, sizing us up with their eyes in a way that makes us self-conscious or angry.
2) Sometimes we actually -- gasp -- enjoyed that time period of our life. Reading YA can bring back funny or bittersweet moments in seconds. The associations can be almost as insightful as a high school reunion. But more enjoyable. ;)
3) What do we have in common with teen girls today? Acne. Periods. Fights with friends. Family stress. (Um, I could go on. Sorry you younger gals, but those things still exist past 18. ;))
- Better yet, what can we -- the collective adult female writers -- share with today's teens?
*I think these answers are very individual for each writer, but I'll give my two cents.*
1) Hope. :D There is life after the crazy and exhausting teen years and there are so many things young girls have to look forward to.
2) A positive female example. I'm not a writer who insists books have to teach a lesson, but be cognizant of the example you may be giving without even realizing it. And why not try and create a character or situation that can inspire or strengthen?
3) Understanding. The biggest help you can give anyone is to show a willingness and desire to know and understand them. Be authentic and real in your writing. Show the reader you care about their lives and struggles. Show them you get it and that they aren't alone.
So what do you think? Care to weigh in on these thoughts I've been having while dodging my work in progress edits? ;)
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
And generally, this is split into two categories non-fiction that makes me a better person and that I should read more of, and fiction that makes me a happier person, but I probably read too much of - an opened book is a finished book. And then I can't help but open another book.
Still, when people I know ask me about good MG/YA books for boys, I've only got a handful of authors to recommend, and they're all almost all fantasy.
They are (alphabetically)
Cinda Williams Cima
James Herriot (though, he probably requires the attention span of an older reader)
Johann David Wyss
Now tell me, who am I missing?
Monday, September 20, 2010
It's time to Speak Loudly for Speak!!!
Friday, September 17, 2010
Welcome to Week Twenty of Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations. This week we're....uh, yeah, we're uh,....CRAP!!!!!
Yeah, so explaining about being once again postless makes me feel like the scene in Blues Brothers when Jake is aruging about why he didn't call his ex-fiancee. He says, "I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT!"
I could ramble about having the cold from hell, 130 essays to grade, a word count deadline from my agent, a massive Southern cooking overload on Sunday....you know, EPIC excuses. So, I'll just shut up and leave you with some Flashback Friday RANDOMNESS!!!
Can we just say how much I LOVED the game Clue growing up? I also watched the movie with Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, and Martin Mull probably 9million times! It's epic!!
Who doesn't love an allusion to West Side Story? And srsly, doesn't YA literature need more epic dance scenes?
Couldn't resist some Twilight fun!!!
NEXT WEEK: Ron Burgundy from Anchorman spouts wisdom on the writing game!!!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I won't get into too many details because I'm a little afraid I may be stepping over the line by posting about this and don't ask me who it is; I can keep a secret.
So after finding out about this last night I did a lot of thinking. I've always said I wouldn't want to go this route. I want an agent who knows the ways around the publishing world. In a way, I also think it has do with having an "expert" tell me what needs to change in my book and when it's ready to send out. But thinking on it last night, I realized that I don't have a finished project that I'm so sure about that I would go the non-agent route.
When I beta read this person's work I fell in love with the story and told her she would definitely sell this one. Am I bowing to my awesomeness? Absolutely not. I've said that to several people and they're still not sold, although I honestly cannot understand why!
I want your thoughts on the agent route and if you would consider bypassing, why? I've decided if I have a project I love so much; I may actually change my mind.
And you must, must, must go here and see this awesome cover and make plans to buy this book! It is freakin' fantastic!!
Monday, September 13, 2010
The first time I played WoW, I completely lost. I rolled an undead warlock (Azarelia) with blue hair, saggy boobs and spent hours hours wandering around Brill, randomly pushing buttons and hoping that would be enough to kill the giant spiders and wolves that roamed the land. My brother gave me one gold, and I thought I was the richest person in the world. I bought all the crappy green gear from the local merchants, not knowing there was an auction hall with much better stuff for more reasonable prices.
That paragraph probably didn't make sense to you if you've never played WoW, but that's okay because that's how I felt at the time--totally clueless.
I was much the same way the first time I tried NaNoWriMo in 2007. Though I had a pretty good premise in mind(well, a kind of generic premise if you count how many stories are out now with dead protagonists), I had no idea how to begin. My story began with the alarm clock going off and my main character getting ready for school. Yes, you guess it---she looked in the mirror as she got ready, which gave me time to describe her physical appearance.
The book didn't get much better after that. I had no idea how to craft a story, which scenes to skip, how to work in necessary details by slipping them in like medicine with the meat. I skipped around, choosing the best scenes to work on, figuring I'd go back later and bridge the gaps. I wrote endless snore-worthy scenes about characters making sandwiches, one that even my mother couldn't make sense of.
The thing that kept me going, though, was the word count function. Just as WoW addicted me with the constant progression toward the next level, my word count kept building to the magic 50K point. What I didn't know what that, by simply grinding my way to the next level, I was doing very little to develop my skill. In WoW, I was able to reach level 80 simply by repeatedly killing the same pathetic dinosaurs. Similarly with my novel, I was able to reach the 50K point, write a quick ending, and proclaim my done-ness. Whee! I wrote a novel!
Yes, I wrote a novel. And I'd write more novels, very quickly, some that actually kept people turning the pages to find out what happened next. But just because I reached the designated end point didn't mean I was finished. I read articles about revising and learned to print off my stuff, read it aloud, and slash words and paragraphs that didn't sound right.
What I didn't learn was that every story needs to be revised differently. Reading my novel out loud and slashing confusing sentences wouldn't more fully develop character and theme. And it wouldnt' strengthen the mystery element by making sure the clues all built toward a logical but unforseen conclusion.
In WoW, you have to play with a group to get the full experience. Everyone plays a role, whether it's a tank, healter, or DPS. And then, you all descend into the dungeon together, to stand strong against the boss. My beta readers and agent have become my team members in this novel writing business. They point out the weak areas in my manuscript, enabling me to improve my story 1000%. (Thank you, Sarah, and my lovely, lovely beta readers! I love you!)
As I complete my final pass of SLIDE, I envision myself loading my manuscript up with the best, fully enhanced gear I have. The challenge of submission will be the highest level i've reached yet, but I have the faith in my team. Together we can achieve anything.
Thank you so much, Jill, for taking the time to blog with us!!!
Friday, September 10, 2010
Welcome to Week Nineteen of Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations. This week we're flashing back to my experience with the musical Les Miserables and how Eponine brings the Emo!
Flashback to March, 1997... the moment of truth. After grueling auditions for Les Miserables at my high school, I inched forward outside the theater windows, desperate to see the cast list. I’d belted out I Dream a Dreamed the best I ever could. Would I get the part of Fantine? All the dreams of seeing my name in lights I'd harbored since I wowed audiences as Auntie Em in Buffington Elementary School's production of The Wizard of Oz hinged on this moment....
But at the moment, I wanted to examine the character of Eponine and how she brings the Emo and could easily transport from the French Revolution to a modern day YA novel.
A YA cliche seems to be absent parents or parents who are oblivious to what is going on with their children. Charlie sleeps tight each night not ever imagining Edward Cullen is upstairs getting his stalk on with Bella. In Les Mis, Eponine has got some epically craptastic parents. Sure, they might have one of the best musical numbers with Masters of the House, but the Thenardier's are not good people. They are money hungry opportunists who are more than willing to sell Cosette, their ward, away, and they’re the first ones on the battlefield ready to strip the Revolution corpses of valuables.
Les Mis brings the love triangle, and it wouldn't be a YA these days without a love triangle, right? I say that with all due reference since I have love triangles myself. Here's the abridged version that sounds kinda like Adam Sandler's rendition of Love Stinks in The Wedding Singer: Eponine loves Marius. But Marius loves Cosette. Cosette loves Marius, and Eponine is basically screwed. It's the true, "You Belong to Me" Taylor Swift scenario since Marius only sees Eponine as a friend and even has her play errand girl to find out about Cosette. FAIL! Yeah, and *spoiler alert* the only time Eponine really gets some huggy, huggy, "Oh, I love you time" from Marius is when she's dying from a bullet wound. *Cue the music to A Little Fall of Rain*
And now I'm all alone again, no where to go no one to turn to,
without a hope without a friend without a face to say hello too.
And now the night is near, and I can make believe he's here.
Sometimes I walk alone at night when everybody else is sleeping.
I think of him, and then I'm happy with the company I'm keeping.
The city goes to bed, and I can live inside my head.
On my own pretending he's beside me.
All alone, I walk with him till morning.
Without him, I feel his arms around me.
And when I lose my way, I close my eyes, and he has found me.
(3). Using the Emoness for a good cause aka Teenage Rebellion
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
WHAT IF....GASP...THEY WANT YOU TO CHANGE IT???
"But, but, but," you say, "WHY? This is the story I LURV. I've written it well. I didn't chase a trend. It's different. It's unique."
"I don't like it. Do it differently," CP/A/E says. "The way you have Lord of the Tree People getting pulled up by the roots is going to frustrate readers. It frustrated me."
"But, but, but...It's the story I wanted to tell. Lord of the Tree People HAS TO be pulled up by the roots." *Stomps Foot*
So, who do you owe here? Are you obligated to yourself to tell YOUR story YOUR way? Or, are you obligated to tell a story that your readers (CP/A/E) wants to hear?
I'll throw out my opinion and ask for yours in the comments: Personally, I feel if you're writing to get published, you leave your ego at the door. Embrace being as flexible as you can and write what the people want from your story. Many times, it only makes it stronger.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
First of all, congrats to Hannah for winning the Nightshade arc. Thanks to all of you for tweeting and following us. We really appreciate your support. :)
Second, we have some sad news at GotYA. Veronica Roth and Kathleen Peacock have bid adieu to GotYA due to time constraints with their upcoming releases. We wish them all the best, and we can't wait to read Divergent and Hemlock when they come out. Good luck gals!
NOW, here comes the exciting news. We're totally stoked and pumped to add 3 teen bloggers to the GotYA family. They are Amna M, Rachael K, and Vahini Naidoo. We're looking forward to getting a teen's point of view on the writing game and the industry as well. You can learn more about them in the "About Us" section.
We're also thrilled about our new Monday Guest Blogging Spot. Each and every Monday a new voice in YA will be blogging with us. Here's some of the fantastic peeps we've got on the scedule for the next few months!
Medeia Sharif, Dawn Miller, Corrine Jackson, Sumayyah Daud, Sarah Inni, Miranda Kennealy, Rebecca Sutton, Tracy Martin, Julie Duck, EM Koki, Kara Mustafa, Jill Wheeler, Rachele Alpine, Kathy Bradey, Stephanie Jenkins, Rebecca Rogers, Amanda Sage, Chanelle Gray.
We're especially excited about author interviews with Elizabeth Scott, Claudia Gabel, Kody Keplinger, Janice Hardy, Helene Boudreau and Hilary Wagner.
So, keep GotYA on your "TBR" pile of blog posts because we've got some exciting stuff coming up!!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Welcome to Week Nineteen of Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations. This week we're looking back on revising and writer's block with a little help from Ricky Bobby.
Before I get to the post, I'd like to semi-apologize to my undergrad and grad professors for this "Ricky Bobby analogy post". While they emphasized the importance of teaching through film and using visual texts to reach students, I'm not sure they ever meant for me to reach this far!! Sure, I've stretched my analogies before with past posts on Querying Through the Movies and Beta Readers and Lord of the Rings. So, maybeI'll redeem myself more next week with my Les Miserables Flashback Friday: Everything Emo I Learned From Eponine!
(1). I wake up in the morning, and I piss excellence!
I think we'd all like to suffer from this delusion of grandeur. How awesome would if each and every time we sat down in front of our computers or took up our laptops, the words just magically flowed? And not only did they flow, but they were words of literary excellence!! Yeah, not very often. The very eloquent and awesome Cindy Pon always says, "You're allowed to write utter poo!" And a lot of the time, it's poo, rather than excellence, that's flowing, but it's okay.
(2). If you can drive with a cougar in the car, you can race!
After periods of hellish revisions or agonizing writer's block, you can get a little gun-shy. Opening up your manuscript and staring at the blinking cursor can induce nausea or hysterics. But like Ricky and the cougar, you got tame the wild beast that is insecurity and get back in the saddle!
(4). I'm All Jacked Up on the Mountain Dew....And I'll Come at You Like a Spider Monkey!
Doing intense revisions or knocking out some wordage calls for sustenance. Coffee, chocolate, carbs, whatever your brand of heroin is, it can take epic amounts to get you though. However, you may want to back off when the caffeine or carb overload sends you into a partial “roid rage” and you're coming at family and friends like a spider monkey. The writing game is a tough one, and we can all go a little crazy sometimes. It's important to step back and take a breather.
If you just can't get enough of Talladega Nights, then check out Shake N Bake Store where you can get a "I'm All Jacked Up On Mountain Dew" t-shirt, or "Shake N Bake This" underwear!
****Arcs of August Update***
The winner of Nighshade will be announced tomorrow morning!!! Good luck!!!
And be sure to check back on Monday for some exciting GotYA updates and news!!!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Our book club pick this month is Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells. We're only doing this to watch you writhe in agony at the approaching fall. Sorry! (Not really)
There are some interesting twists and turns in the story. So be prepared!Jamie: SoSD is a walk on the beach in the moonlight with waves lapping at your feet, and a new crush at your side. My favorite part of SoSD is Simon, the hero. He's like no other hero I've read in a YA book. He's quirky, confident, vulnerable, and easy to fall for. The descriptions are deep and beautiful. I felt like I was there in the Hamptons with Mia.
Readers who enjoy Sarah Dessen with a little less HEA will probably love this novel.Melissa, Guest Blogger of Awesomeness: This story was bittersweet. My favorite part of the story is the setting—the beach. Add to it a first love and I’m definitely on board. Mia is a great character who goes from self-conscious to self-assured. She learns that people aren’t always who they appear to be. Overall, it’s a good read with a sad ending.