Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Childhood books

There are books from my childhood that I still remember after many years. Some because they influenced me and some because they solidified my love of reading. I grew up in Germany and still live there, so the books that got me reading and shaped my childhood are probably a bit different from the ones you grew up with. But there are some books that children all over the world love. Astrid Lindgren is one of those authors who gets kids reading in many countries. Who hasn't heard of Pippi Langstrumpf (Pippi Longstocking)?

What's not to love about a book whose MC's full name is Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking?

I wanted to have a cool name like Pippilotta Viktualia Rollgardina Pfefferminz Efraimstochter Langstrumpf (German)when I read the book and saw the movies on TV. Pippi led a life I and many kids dreamed and still dream about: Living in Villa Kunterbunt (Villa Villekulla) with her monkey Mr. Nilsson and her horse. Having adventures with her friends Tommy and Annika. Living without adults. Doing whatever she wants without an adult forbidding her anything. How great is that?

As a little girl I wanted to live like Pippi and of course to be as strong as her, so others wouldn't be mean to me anymore. I guess that's something many children want.

Ronia the Robber's Daughter (Ronja Räubertochter)
Another book by Astrid Lindgren with a strong female MC. Ronia is the daughter of a robber (duh) and tries to stop an old feud between two clans of robbers. Even as a child I loved reading about strong girls and I still do. Maybe books like Pippi Longstocking and Ronia the Robber's Daughter brought on my preference for independent and strong women and girls in books. I think it's important for young girls to read about strong female MCs.

Another author whose books were part of my childhood and that of many other kids is Michael Ende. I think he's also well known outside of Germany, especially for his book The Neverending Story.

What I really loved about this book is that Bastian, one of the MCs, becomes part of the Neverending Story by reading the book. He and Atreyu, the other boy MC, have to save Fantastica from the Nothing. And I loved Falkor, the luckdragon. What's wonderful about this book is that it brings magic into children's lives. Who hasn't wished to be sucked into a book, to become part of it?
(Though there are some books I wouldn't want to become a part of. Hunger Games for example. I wouldn't stand a chance.)

Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch (The Night of Wishes)

Another book from Michael Ende. It's popular in Germany but not as known in the US or UK. I got it for Christmas when I was little. Books as a Christmas present are probably as popular as clothes, but I was happy when I detected the book among my presents. Though I have to admit that it didn't stand a chance against the Barbie horse with its movable joints. After I'd lost interest in playing with the horse, I read the book and loved it.

The German title is a real tongue-twister and the middle part doesn't even make sense, though it's fun to try to say it really fast. It always made me smile as a child. I love that it takes place in Villa Alptraum (Villa Nightmare!)

Eine Woche voller Samstage ( Could be translated as: A week full of Sams-days)

Paul Maar's books aren't that known outside of German speaking countries, but his books about Das Sams (the Sams) were some of my favorites as a child. Our elementary school teacher often read them to us. The book was even made into a movie and of course I loved that too. The Sams is a childlike creature with a pig-nose, blue dots all over its face and a red buzzcut. It can grant wishes, but for every wish one of its blue-dots disappears and when they're all gone it can't grant any more wishes. Most of the time the wish-granting ends in a mess though. So be careful what you wish for!

Some of you might have heard of Otfried Preußler. He's a very popular author of children's books in Germany. I've read his book Die Kleine Hexe (The Little Witch) over and over again when I was a little girl and the book is still on my shelf.

The beginning makes me smile every time I read it:
Once upon a time there was a little witch who was only a hundred and twenty-seven years old. That's not at all old for a witch.
She lived in a witch's house that stood all alone in the middle of a wood. As she was only a little witch, her witch's house was not particularly big either. But it was big enough for the little witch, who couldn't have wished for a better house. It had a funny crooked roof, and a twisted chimney, and rickety shutters. There was a baking oven built onto the back of the house. Of course there had to be an oven - a witch's house without one wouldn't be a proper witch's house.

The other witches look down on the The Little Witch because she's still so young. I think that's something many kids can relate to and it's told in a very cute way.
All this writing about my childhood books makes me want to read them again.

So do you know some of the books? What are the books that got you reading, the books from your childhood you still remember fondly?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bella, Edward and Katniss Give Thanks

In honor of Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to give thanks…with a twist. Instead of telling you what we’re thankful for, we wanted to keep it YA related. And creative. And kinda goofy.

So instead of listening to us tell you how we’re thankful for our readers (though we really, really are), our health (because hey, everyone needs that) and the fact that one of us just found her $5 off at Target coupon that had been missing for awhile (it’s the little things, people!), we’re going to tell you about the touching "thanks" speeches we think some memorable YA characters would have uttered over the holiday. If they were, uh, real.

Edward: I’m glad Stephenie finally let me get some action. I was trying to play it cool and all, but being a 109-yr-old virgin? Yeah, it totally sucked.

Bella: I’m thankful S.M. turned me into a vampire. I thought Edward was never going to give it up, the big prude. Plus, I no longer sleep, which is cool because that whole watching me thing was starting to freak me out. I mean, what if I snored or something and scared him away? Also, majorly thankful for the sparklez. Duh.

Jacob: I’m thankful Renesmee is gonna grow up super fast. Girlfriends still in diapers are crazy expensive! Also? So glad Edward and Bella didn’t name me.

Katniss: Real or not real: Thanksgiving is an archaic tradition perpetuated by the government to lull us into a false sense of security. I refuse to take part in it. Besides, I’m afraid if I say I’m thankful for something, someone will snatch it away and beat it to death with a muttation.

However, I will say that having Peeta around doesn’t suck.

Peeta: I’m so, so thankful for Katniss, even though, if I’d realized sooner that I could risk my life for her time and time again and she’d still remain emotionally stunted, I might have just kept the damn bread.

Hope you all had a happy, happy Thanksgiving weekend! We’d love for you to leave a comment and tell us: what do you think YOUR favorite YA character is thankful for?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On the Wrong Side of the Finish Line

In less than a week, November will be over and NaNo 2010 will be a thing of the past. Congrats to this year’s winners!

To the rest of us, it’s okay.

Last year, I was one of the winners. On November 30th, I looked at my 50k manuscript and smiled, dreaming of a bright future for the two of us. This year, I kicked off the month with those same stars in my eyes. I changed my idea after the first week. In the second week as I sat staring at a mountain of homework and my tiny 3k manuscript, I knew then I wasn’t going to make it. By the third week, I had officially decided that NaNo 2010 was not meant to be for me.

And I’m fine with that. Because I have two ideas and 3,000 words that will eventually turn into something grander.

Don’t get me wrong, winning NaNo is amazing. But the important thing is to have fun writing and to punch out those words like it’s 2012. Anyone who even attempts NaNo is incredible in my book. You tried and even if you didn’t finish, you DID start a novel. A lot of people can never say that. Does it really matter if you write “The End” on November 30th or February 22nd?

So instead of concentrating on “losing” NaNo, concentrate on learning something. Did you learn that paranormal space operas with a romantic twist aren’t really your thing? Did you learn that you are actually quite good with outlining? Did you learn a new way to approach character development, or how to pace the beginning of a story, or how to keep your middle from sagging? So, instead of worrying about winning, worry about learning and having fun.

Even if you’re 40,000 words behind, keep your chin up and keep writing. Because these words you’re writing may be the basis of your next novel, whether it’s your first or your twelfth.

Win or lose, what did you learn from NaNoWriMo 2010?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 Review.

Three heroes. 

Seven books. 

Eight movies. 

Ten years. 

The end is almost here.

And it's never looked so good.

I was ten years old when I walked into the cinema to watch my very first Harry Potter film. I still remember the scene where they first showed Hogwarts. When I was first introduced to the magical world that is Harry Potter.

I walked into the cinema on Friday. I had my popcorn, my drink but I forgot one very important thing. A bucket, for my never ending tears. This movie had me on the brinks of tears from the very first scene. When Hermione removed her parents memory, when Harry saw his parents grave and when Dobby died. Seriously, I was either crying heavily or it was raining on my face.  

I personally think this is one of the best adaption from the book (my ultimate favourite will always be Prisoner of Azkaban). I love how close the film stayed to the book!  There were some things of about the pacing, but I’m really happy that the movie was split into two because we got a chance to see the friendship between the trios develop and crack under pressure.

The cinematography was absolutely breathtaking. So much of this movie was crisp and had a beautiful, grim tone which really reflects the book.  In a way, the setting felt like another character. Well done Yates.  The action scenes were all brilliant. Again, well done Yates. It really showed that the trio are no longer in Hogwarts and have grown up. Also, why is Hermione the most amazing female character of all time?

Also, the greatest tragedy is that Rupert Grint is not mine. I felt like he was amazing in this film. No, I did not scream out “RON BE MINE” in the fight scene in the tent. Nope. Not me.  I swear I am an adult. But, he really portrayed Ron’s jealousy and insecurities well. And the piano scene between Ron and Hermione was the cutest thing of all time. Of all time guys!

The kiss scene between Harry and Hermione was awkward and shall never be spoken about again. KTHANBAI. This may be an unpopular opinion but I loved the dance scene between Harry and Hermione. I think it showed that these characters share an amazing friendship, but ultimately it’s Ron that can give Hermione true happiness. 

I felt like everything was moved on to a whole new level. I was really taken back by Harry, Emma and Rupert (who I am deeply in love with) acting. I felt like they really showed how much the characters have matured and Rupert is amazing. Okay, I need to stop talking about Rupert.

Neville had 5 words in Part One, and let me tell you, they were the most bad ass words in the whole franchise. I LOVE YOU NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM, YOU GO NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM! 

I wished they showed Luna’s room, because it shows how much the trio meant to Luna. I need more Lupin!  The Weasley twins were amazing, and the kiss scene between Harry and Ginny was so cute, awkward and hilarious when her brother walks in drinking tea. I love you Weasley twins. And this may be the weirdest thing I’ve said (and I say really weird things), but I thought Scabior was really hot.  JUST ME? OKAY. I blame this on Nick Moran. 

This film felt like a huge tease for the epicness of epic that is Deathly Hallows Part 2. I will be in the film with my bucket! 


Damn, I thought that would work.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monday Guest Blogging: The Lovely & Talented Cory Jackson on Writer Friendships

Today GotYA is thrilled to have Cory Jackson with us today. Cory is a YA writer repped by Laura Bradford.

Friend of Writers

It’s not enough to Follow Friday them. It’s certainly not enough to give them a virtual pat on the back. Your friends have listened to you expound loudly and frequently on the hardships of publishing. They’ve commiserated when you didn’t hear back from that agent/editor like you wanted. They’ve talked you through plot problems and talked you into writing that story you weren’t sure about and talked you out of quitting when you thought you couldn’t keep on.

That’s an awful lot of talking and even more love. Especially if those Friends are not part of the publishing insanity. So have you thanked them lately for putting up with you?

Here are a few tips for giving back.

1. Send a handwritten note to say thank you, love you, or just thinking of you. We send dozens of emails a day and trade as many tweets. These things can’t possibly replace how it feels to open up the mailbox and see physical proof that someone cares about you.

2. Try not talking about your writing during a visit. If you are like me, you tend to obsess about your work. Maybe make it a point to share time with a friend when you don’t talk about writing, publishing, or any variance of either.

3. Buy your friend a coffee or a candy bar when they aren’t expecting it. People like to know you are thinking of them when you’re not together. Pick up their favorite treat and you’ll earn a smile.

4. Send an ecard for no reason at all. Don’t wait for an occasion to celebrate your friend. Ecards are a free, easy way to let your friend know you care.

5. Call. Has it been a while since you called for no reason at all? Try it. Let them know how much you appreciate them going on this journey with you.

And finally, when you get that deal, don’t forget who sat in the trenches with you, from eating ice cream in your flannel pajamas while watching Spongebob to celebrating that first big phone call from an agent/editor. Remember them, and appreciate how they jumped up and down with you when you got the news and didn’t act surprised in the least because they believed in you all along. And then send them another thank you.

*off to send an ecard to the Got YA ladies to thank them for having me*

Cory Jackson

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our newest changes

Here at GotYA we have an evolutionary blog. Evolutionary, as in, ever-changing. In the past few months we've had several contributors leave. We wish them well, and hope for some great guest posts in the future. We've added a teen group - three wonderful new bloggers to give us a younger perspective. Hey, we do write YA. And I know things have really changed since I was in high school. We're also always on the lookout for new voices, and have added an adult contributor, who happens to also be one of our international members. Yep, we have two from another continent.

I don't think any of us in this group are trying to make GotYA the most followed blog in the blogosphere. We simply love writing, love YA, and love giving something to the community we are part of. Life gets hectic, the publishing business can be disappointing, it's hard to juggle family and our muses, but we're in it together. All of us at GotYA hope we are able to make your writing journey a little easier. And sometimes we're absent, but always know we are here and will be around for a long time.

If you remember our first video for Blogger then you remember we had silly things about ourselves. We must stick with tradition.

So, without further blabbage from me, are our newest contributors:


Rachael - Hopes that whatever college she goes to has a Quidditch team...even if she'll probably end up being as bad as Hermione at it.

Amna - Screamed "marry me please" to Tom Felton at a Harry Potter Premiere.

Vahini - Secretly stalks best-selling authors, sometimes going through their trash, to absorb their greatness.

And certainly not least, our newest adult:

Susanne - Owns a horde of zombie bunnies and is a slave to the coffee gods.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: Harry Potter Love, and Oh Yeah, What's Been Up With Us!!

You may have noticed that GotYA has been a little sparse lately. Who would have thought after all the craziness that is summer that fall and winter would be one hundred times crazier?

Yep, it has. We're all treading water like mad to stay afloat in the world of jobs, husbands and children, other family requirements, pets, social engagements....oh yeah, and writing(crap, it's NaNoWri
Mo too!) And then somehow in the middle of that, our blogging responsibilities kinda went low down on the totem pole. We apologize for it being lax and sparse, and we hope to come back strong...it's just been tough lately for all of us.

Last night, I headed out to the Midnight Deathly Hallows premier. It was EPIC!!! Sure, I got around 3 hrs of sleep, but it was well worth it. There's just something about being in a darkened theater amongst fellow Harry Potter fans, some decked out in full Harry Potter attire. I have to say the movie was pretty darn amazing!!! I really want to reread Deathly Hallows and go see it again!!!

So, in honor of Harry Potter, here's some Harry Potter funnies!

Twilight Button,Harry Potter,Funny Twilight

Funny Lupin Icon

Harry Potter Cape

Harry Potter Broom Cat Funny Hogwarts

harry potter,funny,welcome and thanks

And some "Your mom is so fat" Harry Potter jokes, lol.

Funny Harry Potter


harry potter

harry potter,lovegood

Love me some Dancing Snape's!

harry potter,funny,funny icons,music


Monday, November 15, 2010

The 3 P's

If you've been in this writing game any time at all, you're painfully aware of the 3 P's. 

PATIENCE while you hurry up and wait.

PERSISTENCE while you revise the same sentence for the 1,548,695th time.

PERSEVERANCE...I think the picture says it all.

Keep on keeping on with the 3P's.  Never give up.  Never surrender.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Harry Potter Week Post #2: What's Your Favorite Potter Film Adaptation

This week on GotYA we're following Nathan Bransford's lead and doing a week full of Harry Potter themed posts. Today we're asking What is your favorite film adaptation of the books?

I have to say that I love all the HP movies and have them all on DVD. But, whenever I'm wanting a Harry Potter fix, I go for one specific one. And that's the Prisoner of Azkaban. I'm sure if you knew me, you'd probably be appalled/surprised that the Goblet of Fire isn't my favorite because of two words....Robert Pattinson, but alas, no, even RPtaz and the GoB can hold a candle to the mastery that is the Prisoner of Azkaban.


Because this movie is just chock full of goodies!

The first one being the hotness of Sirius Black....just kidding. But yeah, we get introduced the fabulous character of Sirius Black. We spend most of the movie/book fearing him and then loathing him when we discover he betrayed Lily and James. But oh what a redemption he has when we learn the truth! He turns into such a noble, caring person, and you long for him and Harry to finally have the relationship they should have always had. I also think it's cool how what happens with Sirius is a foreshadowing of Snape's transformation in Deathly Hallows. All is not what it seems with Sirius and Snape.

Speaking of Snape, I love the scene where he's protecting the kids-kudos to foreshadowing what his role has truly been throughout the series. I also love the scene where Neville imagines Snape in his grandmother's clothing!

The second reason would be Lupin....man, do I love me some Lupin. Calm, unassuming, faithful Lupin who oh snap, turns out to be a werewolf! EESH. Big reveal there. I also love the SNAP moment when you momentarily think that Lupin is a baddie because he's teamed up with Sirius. I love how he becomes a father figure to Harry as well....but man, did I hate it when he and Tonks died in Deathly Hallows. So, so SAD!

The third would be the introduction of the Dementor's. I'll be honest with you. These things scared the pants off me. There is something very frightening about creatures who feed off your emotions....the scene on the train where everything gets cold and then they feed off Harry....shudders...it's just epic. I also loved in Oprah's JK Rowling interview how she talked about the Dementors representing the depression she had experienced in her life.

Fourth, would be the ultimate Girl Power that is Hermoine in this film. Dude, is there anything better than when she punches Malfoy in the face? EPIC! I also love how she's using the time traveling device for studious purposes only....so very Hermoine. I love PoZ also because you can see the beginnings of Ron and Hermoine's romance. So very sweet!

Reason #5 is Buckbeak--poor, sad, misunderstood, but hero in the end, Buckbeak. As an animal lover, I really appreciated how I feel Rowling used Buckbeak to show an appreciation for animals and how mistreating them can lead to destruction.

So, I've given you my favorite, which one(s) is yours?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harry Potter Week ala Nathan Bransford

So, the illustrious Nathan Bransford is doing a week of Harry Potter themed posts to lead up to the most anticipated Deathly Hallows release. Normally, we would have our Monday Guest Blogging post, but we wanted to interrupt regularly scheduled programming to talk the importance of Harry Potter!

I've blogged before about how I came late to the Harry Potter mania. It's something I truly, madly and deeply regret! With the series ending, I feel like the person who got to know Dumbledore right before he died compared to others who had studied under him for years and years! I didn't read the series until the summer of 09'. I bought the entire set of books and devoured them during my time off from teaching. I had read the first book many years ago, but I started from scratch. Words cannot describe my love of the Harry Potter series as well as its author, JK Rowling. To me, JK is a class act lady who uses her fame and fortune to do good in the world, just like her character Harry. I wept openly during her Oprah interview when she talked about losing her mother and how loss, grief, and death so much affected who Harry was as well as the entire direction of the series.

But I digress....For me, it's hard to pick just one favorite character. So, I'm going to bend the rules just a wee bit and put my Top 3!!

#1 Harry Potter: Sure the entire series is about Harry, but my adoration and appreciation for Harry is about more than that. The number one reason I love Harry so much is he is such a survivor. By the time he was 18, he'd been through more pain, loss, suffering....and frankly more hell than anyone I know. Harry shows us that you can face obstacles, grief, loss, and you can still come out on top. Harry doesn't end up some sad E True Hollywood version of "the boy who lived". He never turns to drugs or alcohol to lessen the pain of the loss of his parents, Sirius, or Dumbledore. He just keeps on persevering--doing whatever he has to do to see that good, rather than evil triumphs. Harry is a character I identify with in my own life. His strength and loyalty are something to be admired.

#2 Hermoine Granger: Man, do I love this girl! Sure, she's a know-it-all, but there's nothing like a strong female character who isn't a caricature. Hermoine's got brains and a heart. She's fiercely loyal to Harry, Ron, and those she loves, and she's willing to give her life to see that good triumphs over evil. If I'm blessed to have a daughter someday, I would want her to be like Hermoine--to let her heart and head guide her in life.

#3 Sirius Black: Okay, yeah, I'm probably skewed about Sirius b/c of the Harry Potter movies....I find Gary Oldman VERY attractive, lol. Joking aside, I find him endearing as a character. He has had to suffer and be misunderstood to protect the memory of his dear friends, James and Lily. He also loves his godson, and he wants to be a part of his life. I think that's the saddest/most tear jerking parts of the entire series when Sirius dies in of Order of the Phoenix. I wanted Harry to finally have a home and a family to call his own. I could imagine Sirius making a life for them and upholding his part of being godfather to Harry. When he died, you knew that dream for Harry died along with a great champion of the good.

NOW, it's your turn! Who are your favorite characters and why?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flashback Friday: Posts to Your 16 Year Old Self!!!!


Welcome to Week Twenty-Six of Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations. Because of a death in the family, I'm unprepared for Flashback Friday today, and I also totally missed out on the awesomeness that HAD to have been #tweetyour16yroldself.

So, what the hell? Why not kill two birds with one stone? I could have a post as well as getting to enjoy the responses by throwing it out to you lovely readers!

Here's a couple of mine:

(1). For once in your life, DO NOT be the NICE girl! Edward(name changed to protect the hotness) does like you--everyone knows it, everyone is saying it. Yes, Edward has a girlfriend, but she's a witch. You, Edward, and the witchy girlfriend could TOTALLY be a futuristic Taylor Swift song You Belong With Me. Stick your neck out, put your heart on the line, and GO FOR HIM! Because for years, you'll regret it and years later, you'll STILL REMEMBER IT! (Sadly, there's waaaaay too many "coulda, woulda, shoulda" moments with dudes in high school...okay, even now I STILL deal with this. EESH).

(2). Don't be upset that the group of your home girl peeps disintegrated a bit. You'll always have your two bff's, Kim and Tiffany, and they'll be there for you through the darkest times of your life. Your other peeps will filter back into your life, and you'll still be friends with them many, many years into the future.

(3). Still go to that rockin' party and smoke just to impress people and try to kill your "goody two shoes" image. Not only did you realize at the time what a dork you were, but it will be a great future story to tell your students with a poetry lesson on The Road Not Taken.

(4). Don't worry that you spend too much time with your mom or that she's one of your BFF's. You'll appreciate that you did spend so much time & thank God for this relationship in the future when she's gone.

(5). Don't beat yourself up so much for sucking at math. You're not stupid just bc you get C's in math and have to get tutored. You'll still be Vice President of National Honor Society with your sucktastic math grades, and in the future when you find your niche in the English world, you'll realize how pointless math is!

FINALLY, the most important post to my 16yr old self would be this:

KEEP WRITING! Yes, you write in secret. Yes, you don't let most of your peeps know that you've got a bunch of stories written. Yes, you regret that your poetry was published in the Literary Magazine as a Freshman, but srsly, screw the haters! One day, you'll look back and realize those years were the cutting your teeth moments on your writing aspirations & dreams.

SO, what are YOUR posts/comments to your 16 yr old self? Come on, let yourself have it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

GUEST POST - Boys on Boys - Males Writing YA

(Our thanks to Ryan Sullivan for this thoughtful post!)

I’m in a strange place for a YA writer. I’m barely 21, so I myself am not that far out of my teens. I’m technically an adult by any standard, but at the same time, I still identify with, relate to, and feel a connection to teen culture. I grew up reading the books that are still current enough that they’re used to place my book in the market for submission. I read Looking for Alaska by John Green as a sophomore in high school, and Paper Towns my senior year, the week it came out. At the same time, I’m a writer on submission and I’m constantly immersing myself with the market and industry. So my views are shaped by this duality.

Men Writing YA

In the industry, there’s been huge debate of boys reading. One offshoot of this is that I’ve seen writers talk about the fact that boys aren’t reading male-POV books written by females. At first, I did think this was a bad thing. But, while talking about authorship in a discussion of a literary theory piece, I began to think about authorship and why boys might feel uncomfortable in this way. Children’s books have the distinct quality that they often provide a sort of counsel for adolescents who are confused about their world and what’s going on in it. Teens are constantly experiencing things for the first time, or that they aren’t very experienced with. The books they read have to reflect and capture that. But, a teen might feel like they wouldn’t get the type of counsel they would need from an author of a different gender.

Now, I don’t necessarily think the writer’s gender should matter, but I often can tell a writer’s gender through the details. An emotion may be the same across genders, but there are certain experiences a writer of a different gender just may not be able to do justice--experiences that teens need to see in at least a portion of the books they read. I, for example couldn’t (and wouldn’t) write about menstruation. I could look it up, or read about it, but I could never document that experience from a place of primary experience authenticity. “Boy” books written by women are no worse or better than those written by men, but they require a certain trust from a male teen reader--a trust that comes from reading books that they connect with (and often the books that they will seek out to connect with will be from writers of their own gender)--as well as coming with the expectation that certain things won’t be there. So, a boy might turn to a male author if they’re looking (consciously or subconsciously) for guidance. My hands-down favorite YA book is Ordinary Ghosts by Eireann Corrigan--a female writer who created a “boy” book that’s incredibly convincing and authentic. Boys definitely should be reading books written by females. But, to get there, they need to find books they can connect with, writers who document the experiences they deal with, and they will often look for those within the work of male writers.

Boys Reading YA

This is a strange concept to me--being a male writer of teen “boy” books. I’ve never been the most masculine person. I’m not into sports, cars, or any of those things. So being thought of as a male writer, writing for boys, with a male agent, who has many successful male writers, who write for boys, is a weird. But then again, it’s not. I may not fit the stereotype, but I can still speak from a place boys can connect with. I share their experience, regardless of our differences. Also, like many boys today, I was a reluctant reader. I was (and am) a slow reader. If you’d have told me five, or even three years ago that I would be a literature major, I would have laughed. But I found the right books. I found authors who I believed, authors who I respected and trusted. And now I feel that responsibility to uphold that tradition of honesty and authenticity that made me become a reader and a writer. But, regardless of authors’ genders, boys still aren’t reading.

One major problem in a tight market is that books begin to trend in a way that appeals to the broadest (and most profitable) audience. It makes sense--you can’t hold it against the publishers. And this isn’t to say they aren’t good quality, or that non-trend books aren’t being published--it’s just tighter. Unfortunately, the consequences of playing to a strength in the market is that we lose readers, most often the reluctant readers that need the most attention. Now, personally, I see boys buying books all the time. I don’t think the boys are doomed not to be readers. What I do think, though, is that YA literature has left them behind. The books we see becoming successful and the books we see turning into movies or TV shows are not books that boys are into. Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, Twilight--they’re just not books boys are reading. Because of this, they get altered perceptions of what’s out there, which isn’t appealing to them, so they stop reading.

The Future of Boys Reading YA

All that said, I think the market is moving in the right direction. I would predict that in the next decade, we’ll see an increase in male readership of YA. Here’s why:

First, middle grade boy books are amazing right now. The market for them seems strong, the writing is terrific and there’s still interest in publishing them. I have a ten year old nephew who reads a lot, so I’ve seen first hand how when a book pulls him in, he’ll read it lightening fast. With books like the Wimpy Kid series, MG boys are definitely finding outlets, books that they can understand and authors they feel understood them. This creates strong readers as they move into YA.

Second, older “cool” guys are starting to find their way into reading. I’m talking the 20’s frat guys. With the rising popularity and population of “fratire” like I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, guys in their 20’s and 30’s are going to find themselves pulled into reading more and more. Having “cool guy” writers like Tucker Max makes reading more acceptable amongst guys. I think this will have a top-down effect. As older guys start reading, younger boys will begin to see that it’s okay to read, that it doesn’t have to be something that affects your masculinity or take time away from “boy” things. And you can see where YA and fratire are intersecting--books like Spanking Shakespeare are teen versions of the genre. Now, I know that the genre of fratire has scores of issues surrounding sexism and objectification--and I’m certainly not rubber stamping it or condoning it--but that’s another discussion for another time.

But, this does mean that there will need to be YA boy books for them when they get there. And there will be. We already have great books from the male perspective. We have great writers right now like John Green, James Dashner, Frank Portman, Scott Westerfeld, Ben Esch, Ned Vizzini and Stephen Edmond--and hopefully many more in the future. What’s also important is that these authors are working within what’s “cool.” Frank Portman’s music references and modern wit will definitely appeal to a certain type of teen that might not be your typical boy reader. Stephen Edmond’s graphic-novel influence will also reach out to new readers. (And so on.) As the market expands it’s outreach, while other markets grow in strength, boys will read more.

A Final Word

It just takes one book to change somebody’s life. I was an accidental reader. I don’t remember how, but I found out about a new (at the time) imprint of scholastic books called PUSH. It was summer, and we were at a big Borders, and the only PUSH book I saw (because they have distinct and matching formatted covers) was You Remind Me of You by Eireann Corrigan. I bought it, because the promise of PUSH books being “just like life” appealed to me. Even though I have very little in common with an anorexic teenage girl, it was the first book that made me feel connected to the author. The emotional honesty that Eireann’s writing has transcends gender and experience--and that’s what we need, as YA writers. Beyond gender or experience, we need pure, authentic emotional honesty. It’s a trust. Teens trust us to be honest. We owe them that much.

I encourage everyone to promote literacy--not just among boys, but among all children. Non-profit organizations like 826, To Write Love on Her Arms, Write Now Poets and the many others out there are terrific ways to do so. Get involved, and take a stand. Kids will read, they just need to find the book that will change their life. And they may need a little help to do so.

For more information about boys reading, please check out guysread.com

Visit Ryan at  www.ryansullivanbooks.com .