lydamorehouse: (??!!)
 Every time I teach teenagers, I take a moment to gather "market" information. I ask them what they're reading/watching/playing and what they wish they'd see more of.  For YA authors out there, here's what my Loft teens would like most of all:
  1. Assexual representation.  They want a character who is explicitly ace who DOES NOT FALL FOR SOMEONE BY THE END.  Please more GLBTQIA+ representation in general. Non-binary/Genderfluid/Genderqueer, too, please. (Ace comes up every year, by the way.) 
  2. Supernatural creatures who are *not* run of the mill vampires
  3. NO MORE ROMANCE.  Or, if there must be romance, can it please be something more than the tradition love triangle.  Better yet, let the triangle end in a poly arrangement (yes, my teenagers asked specifically for poly).  
  4. More dystopia, but no more Divergent rip-offs. How about a post-apocalypse that has nothing to do with the government dividing people by their skills/factions/what-have-yous?

Obviously, this sample size is small.  My class this year had twenty students, only four of them male-identified, one non-binary, and the rest using she/her pronouns. The majority of the class was female.  There were only two obvious PoCs. All of the students, except one that was there on a scholarship, came from families that could easily afford a $300+ class for their kids. Most were urban/suburban/Metro area, though some came from the 218 area code (I can't remember how many without checking my class list, but it was at least two. I remember because it surprised me.)  

The only other thing of note is that this is the first class where we've had to have a few discussions about the technical aspects of writing. Every year I teach, I try to have an opportunity for students to have their work critiqued. It's best when the whole class can participate and I can teach "how-to" peer critique, BUT with twenty kids it was strictly voluntary and I took their work home and typed up my response to their opening pages.  I bet half the class participated.  

Their abilities ranged wildly, but I was expecting that in a group of 13-17 year olds.  What I wasn't expecting was at least three students who seemed to have zero concept of paragraph breaks.  Their writing was otherwise good, it was just presented as a giant block of text.  I'm not sure where this comes from, and I had to take some time to remember how *I* was taught when a good paragraph break should come.  Of course, much of it comes from osmosis, from reading.  But I do remember someone requiring that we learn about what should be contained in a paragraph... I wonder which grade though?

Anyway, that was the only 'surprise.'  It's tempting to blame the lack of paragraph breaks on the internet.  But, I'm still not convinced that the Internet is ruining young writers. I suspect this lack of breaks comes from generally not being much of a reader.  (Voracious readers always have an obvious 'ear' for how stories are structured.) Or from reading things, like graphic novels or web comics, that come in a differently consumed format.

It was a weird year at the Loft this year, but, ultimately, the class was great.  My boss asked me to be sure to propose something similar for winter quarter.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Today at the library I got cornered by one of those  people who you just know is winding up for a rant about something.

After asking me if I worked there, she launched into a Thing about how dark young adult novels were getting and how we shouldn't be surprised when our children axe-murder us in our sleep after reading things like that.  Tisk, tisk and all that.   

I mostly nodded politely because I don't believe for a minute that teenagers are any more likely to axe-murder me over something they read or a game they played, than I would have when I was that age and read and played the same sorts of things.  (Look, when I was coming of age, it was the horrors of Dungeons & Dragons... there's always something that's going to Ruin the Youth of Today.)  

However, what this woman complained about is old news to some extent, and she's certainly not alone in worrying about it.  I told her so.  I also told her that I felt that some of what she was worrying about is actually a somewhat new (though, again, not really) trend in young adult books towards dystopian futures, which aren't actually about feeling sad and powerless at all, but about the need at a certain age to change the world, a desire to have a clear-cut enemy, and to DO SOMETHING to make things right.  This is a Good Thing disguised as a Bad Thing.

I didn't tell her, because I knew she couldn't hear that, that I also believe books about self-harm and other things aren't so much 'how-to' books for self-destruction as novels that help people feel less alone (like I did when I discovered that there were other gay people, thanks in large part to science fiction). Maybe these were never issues written about when we were young, but... I knew people who self-harmed when I was a teen, so you know, writing about it doesn't bring it into existence, it just makes the issues less invisible.

But that was an argument I was sure to lose, so I just nodded politely.  And, you know, YA *is* darker now than when I was a teen, but when I was a teen it also wasn't its own section.  We didn't really have YA as a separate thing.  We had juvenile and we had grown-up books.  A lot of people my age had to get our parents' permission to have free range of the library once we'd grown out of Dr. Seuss.  So, you know, I tried Lady Chatterly's Lover at sixteen (I missed the sex.  Seriously.  Completely.)   I also read Go Ask Alice and didn't become a drug-addict, funny enough.  Thus, I've never worried over much about books corrupting people.  

At any rate.

When she really, really wanted to agree with me that it was All Bad, I told her I don't make the buying decisions for the library.  If the kids want it, we stock it.  What are you going to do?

Ultimately, she thanked me for such an interesting discussion 

Have I mentioned I love working at the library?  I do, actually.  I really do.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
For our last night of mischief before mama comes home, Mason and I splurged. We bought THREE Star Wars novels at HalfPrice Books. Insanity!

We also stopped off at Mirriam Park Library because the #15 HIKARU NO GO that I'd requested came in. Mason checked out the Goosebumps, but was underwhelmed. We did end up checking one of them out to read together called "One Night in Horrorland!"

I also had a funny experience writing my young adult novel yesterday, which I report on over at Wyrdsmiths. For the brevity of the post, I neglected the step in there where I also called [ profile] naomikritzer on the phone to ask her opinion, and the very funny conversation we had about it all.

Ever since then I've been thinking about what's wrong with this situation. News flash: I know very little about young adult novels or the young adult market. I can name several local authors who haven't yet broken in to the YA market who know a whole hell of a lot more about it than I do. I've read only a handful of books that would be considered teen YA and I haven't been a teenager since the Cambrian period. Why am I the one writing a young adult novel? Don't get me wrong, universe. I'm extremely grateful for this opportunity (especially since Penguin has rejected further Garnet), but...

... in the end, it really is all about who you know and being in the right place at the right time with a chipper attitude and a willing smile on your face. I always suspected that much of the success in this business came down to luck and being willing to write anything, any time for anyone.

And I hope to keep banking on it.

But, I don't know. I hope my friends will continue to be my friends through it all.

Anyway, no time to think about all that. 22 days and counting....
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Mason woke up this morning and instantly had diarrhea. Two minutes later: barf. A half hour later, when it was still going on, I got on-line and called him in sick via an e-mail to his teacher. Meanwhile, Shawn came down with a headache. She e-mailed in sick to work as well. I ended up having to e-mail Eleanor to cancel our writing date, which is pretty much the same as calling in sick, too.

I was starting to feel like a character in a murder mystery, except instead becoming corpses, everyone around me was getting terribly ill.

Mason, being the deeply resilent source of energy he is, was sick for several hours and then did a complete recovery complete with wanting to jump on the bed his mom was sleeping in and BEGGING me to take him to the library (which I did not do. No barfing on books. This is an important lesson I pass on from the day I barfed on an early Legion of Superheroes comicbook belonging to my cousin.)

Last night, at Wyrdsmiths, I brought along my computer (partly to check in on the last minute cancelations but also for the free wifi,) and discovered that my editor had sent along the cover art for Tate's young adult novel:

What do you think?

My editor thinks it pretty much "hits the market" (as in she thinks it's the sort of thing that is found on YA covers right now.) I think the cover model for "Anastasjia" is wicked hot. If the cover is supposed to be someone you wish you were, count me in.

Anyway, I should check in on my sickies. Have a great weekend!
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Once again I need to apologize for silence. My family and I went up to our friends’ cabin in Siren again last weekend, and, apparently, wore ourselves out completely. I think what happened was that we finally had some really amazing Minnesota summer weather on Friday. I think up in Siren it actually hit 90 F/ 32 C. Mason and I spent almost the entire day either on or in the water. We were back on Monday, but I actually spent much of the day napping (something I usually don’t allow myself to do because day time = writing time.) Then yesterday was spent sort of making up for all the things I didn’t do on Monday – calling people back, making plans, cancelling plans (sorry [ profile] swords_and_pens! sorry [ profile] jiawen!), etc.

Today, I finally feel like I'm back among the living.

And the week is already half over.


In good news, however, I did manage to get a lot of writing done on Tate's YA project yesterday. Because Mason was finally worn down, he spent much of Monday and Tuesday absorbed in various low-key activities like reading, video gaming, TVing, and LEGOs. (Though we now own the Falcon, he's decided to finish up Vader's Tie-Fighter first.)

Tate, alas, has had to restart the YA for the second time. Turns out I kind of suck when I attempt to write third person. I'd been hoping to stretch myself, you know, do something challenging, but Anne, my editor, finally just suggested I go back to first person and you know, "write a Garnet novel without the sex." It is to laugh. If only because [ profile] naomikritzer and Shawn told me to do that from the beginning. As Shawn says, "You don't mess with the cash cow. Just milk it!"


I'm thinking that if I want to work on my third person skills, I may try to take some time after the YA is do to practice on a couple of short story ideas that have been banging around at the back of my skull ever since I started working on ALMOST (the YA.)

Since Mason is once again occupying himself, I should probably continue to take advantage of that and get started writing.

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