Why I Read YA 2

Why I Read YA

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in books / reading

Owen reading

Owen digging into Fracture

A recently published article bashing YA as a lesser form of literature has been making the rounds, as have numerous rebuttals defending YA. My favorite is by Rob Moran, titled Men Should Be Able to Read YA Too, where he states, “…Gordon seems to view reading as a means to an end, rather than an activity in its own right, as if we all read books as some sort of self-help process, hoping to gain some miraculous understanding of what it means to be a fully-formed human functioning in the world, rather than just, you know, valuing language and communication and the joy of watching a glorious sentence unfold itself across a page and pull you into its world.”

I started reading YA several years ago and it’s gotten to the point that it’s almost all I read. As I state on my Facebook page, “It’s been many years since I was a teenager, but I still love the idea of first loves, new adventures, and discovering who you are.” The thought of reliving my teenage years leaves me quivering in a corner, and I’m grateful to have escaped before the internet and the myriad of other terrors that didn’t seem to be around in the early 90s became commonplace. I skated between the popular and the not-so-popular crowds, but I spent a lot of time feeling very misunderstood (I blame my advanced development of sarcasm), something that teenagers today most certainly still experience. I’m fascinated by this new (to me) teenage world and the challenges teenagers face while going about their everyday lives.

And if you don’t believe me, read what people had to say at the launch party for Fracture last week when I asked them to share why they read YA. These are all educated, intelligent, mature adults (well, most of them are), and while their reasons are varied, none of the reasons mention being “asked to abandon the mature insights into that perspective that they (supposedly) have acquired as adults.”

Here’s what they had to say:

A Book is a Book

I think it’s more that I love books in general. YA is the same as everything else – if it’s a good book, it’s a GOOD BOOK, in my opinion.

It just good clean entertainment!

Teachers & Parents

I teach young adults. I like to keep up on what they read.

Helps me keep in touch with what my students are reading!

Young Adult reading helps me stay in touch with my kids who are YA. I need to stay tuned in as a parent. It’s good stuff too.

Teenager at Heart

Makes me feel young again! Sometimes it’s a good thing, others not. Usually just takes me back, makes me happy, helps me see how far I’ve come. Plus usually makes for a good read!

I once heard an editor say that MG is about a kid finding their place in the family, and YA is about the main character finding their place in society. I think I am permanently stuck in a YA novel. Actually, I really do like the self-discovery of YA, though I don’t go in for adult memoirs that are about self-discovery. Maybe it’s the positivity of the main character learning their life lessons with their whole life still ahead of them.

YA tends to have strong plots to keep readers of that age interested. My ADD brain loves that extra incentive to pay attention!

I am very immature in the first place so young adult works for me.

It’s GOOD

Raw emotion. YA allows for it, usually more generously. A lot of YA empowers teen girls too, with great leading ladies.

I love the strong, raw emotions in YA! And how realistic and flawed the characters are.

It’s got great potential for empathy and inspiration for that reader.

I think there’s an honesty in YA that can get lost in adult books. It’s more introspective.

I guess I like YA because I like living vicariously through that age. I had to be a grown up by the time I was 14 so I missed out on the parties, proms, dating, hanging with friends, and teenaged responsibilities. So YA gives a little of those experiences back to me.

I love YA because it reminds me so much of what is good about us. A time when we have so much hope and believe in the possibilities that are ahead of us. We haven’t become jaded yet and think the world is ours for the taking. There’s a sort of immortality in our thinking and actions at that age.

Entertainment Weekly posted an interesting spin on well-known “classics” with their covers re-imagined as YA, the category they’d be placed in if they were published now. Jason Booher, art director of Blue Rider Press, created the redesigns and explains the reasoning behind the changes. Go look!

A key thing to remember, whether you read thrillers or romance or strictly sci-fi: most of these genres were created by the publishing industry as a way to organize and sell books. Some of the best love stories I’ve read take place in a murder mystery, while some of the most suspenseful tales were literary fiction. A good story is a good story and it shouldn’t matter where the book is located in the store. Frankly, if you’re too embarrassed to shop outside a “respectable” genre, order it online. Or better yet, download it. I think the surge in YA reading (and other “less serious” genres) could also be attributed to the fact that no one can tell what you’re reading when it’s an ebook.

To finish, another quote from Moran:

Personally, I wouldn’t trust anyone who claims they weren’t touched by a thoughtfully-written novel that pushes you head-first into the romantic and mortal travails of a young girl with terminal cancer, but whatever – if you spot me tearily revisiting it on the bus anytime soon, try not to point and laugh.

Laugh away, those who judge. I’ll be over here reading another fabulous book.

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Fracture is Published! 10

Fracture is Published!

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in books / reading, Fracture, publishing industry

Fracture_full cover_cropped

I’m thrilled to announce that Fracture is now available on Amazon! Today you can only get the ebook, but tomorrow (probably in the evening) the print version will also be available!

Things I learned (or remembered) while prepping this book for publication:

  • I love formatting large documents. It’s a challenge and tedious, but the results are satisfying.
  • Formatting the digital files is its own challenge, but also rewarding.
  • The odds of the second book being the same number of pages as the first is slim to none, yet my two books are within four pages of each other.
  • Amazon sometimes publishes things a bit sooner than expected, and then you end up #38 in Teen & Young Adult Time Travel! (see image below)

Fracture #38 June 23

It wouldn’t be book launch day without a giveaway. Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered to win one signed copy of Fracture! I’m also having a launch party on Facebook, where I’ll be doing a separate giveaway. Visit both for more chances to win!

And if you feel like sharing this, by all means, share away!

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Take This Draft and Shove It 1

Take This Draft and Shove It

Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Fracture, writing / editing

It’s been a very hectic several months, which I’ll get into in another post, but today I’m here to tell you that I’ve finished Fracture! If you recall, I said something similar while buried under three feet of snow, but since then I’ve tackled four rounds of revisions, the most strenuous of which I completed today! I’ve added roughly 3500 words, which is nearly fourteen pages, and I’m really proud of how this novel has developed.

My apologies for all the exclamation points. This has been a lonnnggg couple days.

My apologies for all the exclamation points. This has been a lonnnggg couple days.

I’ve said Fracture will be available this spring, and I’m holding myself to that. As soon as my proofreaders have a final go with the manuscript, I’ll get the formatting of the ebook and print version ready and Fracture can be yours!

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Outlines, Plug-Ins, and Beta Readers — Oh My! 0

Outlines, Plug-Ins, and Beta Readers — Oh My!

Posted by on Feb 9, 2014 in Fracture, internet / technology, writing / editing

Hi everyone! There’s a lot going on in my writing world, starting with yesterday’s exciting accomplishment: I downloaded the Kindle plug-in for Adobe InDesign that allows you to format an ebook from the page layout program. This may not seem exciting to you, but as a designer I pride myself on figuring out how to do things on my own (well, I pride myself on that in all walks of life. My dad used to fret that he raised me to be “too independent”, but that’s another story for another time) so formatting my own ebook is important to me.

Beta ReaderBUT! Before I start formatting, I need to finish revisions. Feedback from my second round of beta readers (Beta Readers 2.0?) is trickling in so I’m ready to “go deeper”, as one reader suggested.

I hope to wrap up this next draft by the end of next week (my husband’s taking me to a hockey game for Valentine’s Day and I don’t want to be worrying about edits THEN), pass it off to a final, really tough, reader, then zing, bang, boom—PUBLISH!

In the meantime, I’ve finished the 13-page outline for book three in the Flicker Trilogy—FADED—and have written the first few pages. I’m very ready to go on the next book and am excited with how I’ll wrap up Biz’s world. AND, I’ve outlined my shiny new idea, tentatively (but definitely not permanently) titled SHREDDING THE NARD. That started as a joke with my bowling team and since I hate writing anything with a title WIP #7 (yes, this is my seventh manuscript!) I had to name it something. The new idea revolves around snow skiing so watching the Olympics is very entertaining research. Have I mentioned that I love writing?

So that’s where I’m at. What’s new with you? Are you watching the Olympics? Learn any new software lately? Looking forward to the Amazing Race and Jimmy Fallon taking over Late Night?

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When Inspiration Strikes 2

When Inspiration Strikes

Posted by on Jan 12, 2014 in hoohah, writing / editing

Ideas are a very important part of a creative person’s life, be they a writer, designer, or someone just looking to redecorate their office. All three of those labels apply to me, but I only have trouble generating ideas for the first one.

People often ask “where do you get your ideas?” A common writerly response is something snarky, along the lines of “from the idea book” or “I have a monthly subscription to Ideas-R-Us”, when actually writers get idea from everyone and everything. The entire world is fair game. Overhear a juicy conversation at Panera? Spin it into a book! Find yourself in a situation that’s too unbelievable not to share*? Make it happen to your main character!

Unless you’re me. I can’t go out in public without coming up with a backstory behind all the people I encounter, but the stories end as soon as they walk away. I struggle with coming up with an idea worthy of an entire novel. Add to that my inability to begin a story unless I know how it ends (even loosely) and I can count on one hand how many plausible ideas I’ve had for a novel.

So color me surprised when last week a new idea came to me while I was working out (a kickboxing video, for those curious). Before I’d finished a full circuit of jab-jab, cross, hook, kick I had a main character, a love interest, a group of protagonists, two “earth-shattering” dilemmas (this is YA so everything is earth-shattering), and the big climax at the end. That evening I wrote several pages of notes, and the ideas continued to flow well past bedtime.

All this happened as I was working on edits to FRACTURE. My plan has been to start outlining book three, tentatively titled FADED, as soon as I sent book two out to my next group of beta readers, so I’ve been dutifully brainstorming that book.

But the new idea won’t shut up. My only solution was to outline BOTH books. At the same time.

Outlines are my lifeline when I’m writing, yet I don’t always devote the time to them that I should. I decided to kick it old school and bust out a pencil and paper. I sketch when developing new design ideas — and even when I’m figuring out a new layout for a room — so I don’t know why I never considered it for a novel. I do write notes in a notebook but that uses a different part of your brain. Sketching out an actual line for a timeline helps keep the story arc… well… arc-ing towards the end of the novel.

Two hours later I had two well-developed outlines!

outlines

Now I just need to decide which I should work on first…

Thoughts?

*A couple weeks ago I was meeting with the president of my company when he spilled a full cup of coffee all over his desk. Needless to say, that will soon be happening to Biz in book three, with a few subtle changes. This is one of the RARE times I’m working a real-life event into my fiction.

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The Importance of Beta Readers

Posted by on Jan 4, 2014 in Fracture, writing / editing

For those of you who are NOT writers, a beta reader is someone who reads a draft of your manuscript to tell you where you’ve screwed up and how to make it better. Some even tell you where they laughed out loud, gasped, or wanted to punch a character (thanks Nadine!).

Dictionary.com defines the slang version of beta as:

1. Mostly working, but still under test; usu. used with `in’: `in beta’. In the Real World, systems (hardware or software) software often go through two stages of release testing: Alpha (in-house) and Beta (out-house?). Beta releases are generally made to a group of lucky (or unlucky) trusted customers.
2. Anything that is new and experimental. “His girlfriend is in beta” means that he is still testing for compatibility and reserving judgment.

In the case of a manuscript, the author really hopes that while beta reading may be more tedious than regular reading (since the person is commenting and marking up your document), that the reader still gets some enjoyment from your work.

Sometimes that enjoyment is unintentional.

My friend Nadine and my mother recently read the first draft of Fracture, and they both caught something that I never noticed. In the paragraph below, my MC Biz is explaining fickering to someone.

“I come to wherever I was twenty-four hours earlier. Sometimes it’s class. Every now and then I’m in the bathroom, which is my favorite because then I have a minute to get my shit together before I see anyone. The worst is eating because I always choke.”

While “getting my shit together” is a common phrase, doing so in the bathroom creates a visual I wasn’t going for. If I hadn’t shown this to anyone and figured my work is genius and ready to publish (which IS a perk of self-publishing) readers would be envisioning a whole other side of my MC that I hadn’t intended.

For those of you who’ve beta’d for friends, what’s a funny oops you caught? Or writers, what’s a gaffe that you were embarrassed made it through the first pass?

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