Category Archives: Writing

The Changing State of YA

I have lately seen an outcry in the Bookstagram community from some that YA has become too mature. I can’t deny that this is true. I have had to become more careful over the years when I choose YA books to read because the spectrum of clean to explicit content is more all over the map in the genre than I believe it was 10 years ago. But this didn’t happen overnight. The writing has been on the wall for a while. Not to mention, a lot of previous YA-heavy readers abandoned ship a few years ago because they wanted something more mature.

I know that for me, while I am writing YA and still love pockets of it, I have slowly gravitated away from a lot of it as well. For me it’s not about YA being too immature, though there are YA books out there like that for me, but it feels too much like a minefield amongst the newer and unknown-to-me authors in the genre in terms of content. One of the things that gravitated me towards YA when I got back into reading a decade ago was that it was generally cleaner. Now that it’s harder to guarantee that, sometimes I just prefer to pick up something I know without a doubt will be clean.

What exactly defines clean is a whole other topic that could be discussed, but it’s not something I wanted to get into for this post.

As someone who is trying to break into YA publishing, it’s a little concerning for me to realize I might be a little bit “behind,” because the YA I want to write is closer to YA that was published in 2017 than YA being published in 2022. Though it’s not exclusively the case. For example, Caroline George is a good example of an author whose footsteps I would like to follow. And the truth is not that I can’t keep up with reading in the current market, and I still do have my pulse on pockets of it as previously stated, but the reader I am targeting is the one who preferred the style of YA books we were getting a few years ago (but seem like decades ago in 2022 publishing world). Does this make me outdated? I’m sure some would say so, but I see a lot of interest for this within the bookish community. Like I saw friends on Facebook asking for dystopia recommendations years after publishers were releasing new material in the genre.

A lot of clean YA fantasy authors are thriving with their works being self-published or published at Enclave, but there doesn’t seem to be the same community for contemporary. Again, I do believe the readers are there. There just hasn’t been a coalition of YA authors who write clean contemporary that have been formed that I am aware of. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments!

In case it sounds like I’m obsessed with exclusively squeaky clean books, that’s not the case. But there is something to be said about continuing to publish these books for the people who want them. As Charles Shulz once said, “There’s always a market for innocence.” I don’t think clean and innocence are necessarily interchangeable, but I do think there is something to that.

So yes, it’s my first blog post in two years and again, no promises that I am back regularly, but it felt high time to revamp things around here. So take a look around, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, where I’m at entirely too much.

Happy reading, friends! Let me know what you think in the comments about the current state of YA.

Monthly Recap: November

Can you believe that it’s almost Christmas and the end of the year? It seemed unbelievable to me until I was thinking about the books I read early this year, and realized how long ago it seemed! Without further ado, my November…

Books I Read

Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

Flame in the Mist by …. (I technically finished this Dec. 2 but considering I only read one other book, give me this, OK?)

#bookstagram Image of the Month

After we put up the Christmas tree I decided to pull out my Nikon D7000 and try out a new theme for my bookstagram, and I’m really happy with it. I plan to stick with this look through December, though I am hoping come January I won’t lose my motivation to take higher quality pictures for Instagram.

Watched

Thor: Ragnarok, and really enjoyed it! I will say that Marvel is doing a lot of the same thing over and over again, yet it doesn’t bother me because they do it so well. I just really enjoy the character interactions, mostly. And have you seen the trailer for Infinity War? It got me pretty pumped to see how they will pull everyone and the various plot threads together (though *groan* for Scarlet Witch and Vision…).

Wrote

While I technically didn’t win NaNoWriMo because I didn’t write 50K new words, I won it in my heart because I finished the first draft of my new story! Since I had written half of it already I only ended up with 26K for the month, but 53K overall. It’s a little shorter than I want because I tend to rush my story, so I’ll be fleshing it out more in revisions. It definitely needs work but I’m still happy with the story overall.

Other November Happenings

One highlight of November would have to be the day I spent with three of my good girl friends, all who were are moms The reason for pointing this out is to say that while I do see these friends on a fairly regular basis, I rarely get to hang out with them sans their kids, and while I do love their kids, it was great to just be the four of us again! We went to a place in town where you get to create your own wooden sign and had a great time! Here’s my final product:

And of course Thanksgiving was a highlight too, eating good food and spending time with my family.

Looking Forward to in December…

Christmas and all it entails!

I will also endeavor to write a few posts this blog, including my in-depth post about my trip to Savannah in September and my thoughts on the books I read this year.

How was your November? What are you looking forward to this month?

Monthly Recap: September

I hate how late this recap is! I’ll try to do better next month…

Books I Read

Finished my reread of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

A Dash of Dragon by Heidi Lang and Kat Bartkowski

#bookstagram Images of the Month

Watched

Sing (cute), The Secret Life of Pets (forgettable), and Wonder Woman (finally, I know – I really enjoyed it but maybe not quite as much as everyone else).

September Happenings

I went on vacation in Savannah (the week after Irma hit)! I still want to talk more about this in a future post, but you can read my thoughts on two of the city’s bookstores here and just know that I really enjoyed my time there! It’s such a beautiful city.

My birthday! I turned 31 and it wasn’t even too painful, ha ha. It was a good one, with several celebratory dinners around it.

I attended the SCBWI Midsouth Conference for the fourth (I think?) year in a row, and it was such an enriching experience, as usual. But it didn’t start out roses and rainbows.

For the first time, I paid for a critique from an editor. You can do face-to-face or written, and I chose the latter. I submitted the first ten pages of the WIP I have been pouring into pretty much since my first SCBWI conference, and had recently revised due to feedback from various CPs. I thought it was in pretty good shape and was hoping for some constructive criticism. While the feedback I got back from the editor wasn’t flat out negative, it wasn’t very positive either. I understood some of what she was saying, but some of it was clear she just wasn’t getting the story. Whether that was my fault or not, I don’t know, but that was the reality.

But I immersed myself in the conference and didn’t worry too much about the critique. Then came time for our optional critique group, which is where you’re assigned to a group to critique a few pages of each other’s work. Between getting the paid critique and just already getting a lot of feedback on Earthbound, I decided to share the beginnings of a new story I just recently started working on and haven’t even completed a draft of yet. The response from those in my group was so positive that it really kind of blew me away, and definitely encouraged me. I could feel in my soul what my next course of action was – shelve Earthbound for now, give it time to simmer, and focus all my efforts on my new project.

So I’m excited! It can be hard to move on from something you’ve spent so much time on, but I honestly feel really liberated. Earthbound would be a hard sell for a debut author; this new contemporary is much easier to grasp onto. If I can write it as well as I believe I can, I believe getting an agent with it will be very possible. And here’s hoping that I can bring Earthbound back out one day, once I have that trust in place. My goal is to have my first draft of Love and Sax finished by the end of the year.

Also, these ladies are my writing lifeline!

Looking forward to in October…

Needtobreathe concert! I get to see my other favorite band this month and I cannot wait!

How was your September? 

Podcasts I Enjoy About Books & Writing

Sometimes when I’m working, driving for a decent length of time, or engaged in some other activity where I would like a break from music, podcasts are perfect for 20 min – 2 hrs. of time that need to be filled with chatter. I listen to a variety of podcasts ranging from Star Trek discussion to a Christian radio show and several more, but today I thought I would focus specifically on four podcasts I enjoy that focus on books and writing.

Books

Owl Post is a fairly new podcast that is a must-listen for any fan of the Harry Potter books. Each episode is an interesting discussion of a chapter of the books, and they’re still early in the first book, so it won’t take you long to catch up! I tend to pick and choose my way through episodes of most of the podcasts I listen to, but I’m subscribed to this one and actually listen to each episode quickly after it airs (rather than my usual tactic of keeping a backlog open for myself).

I love the premise of Overdue: a podcast about the books you’ve been meaning to read. I only download the episodes where I have read the book or know the story already, but I’ve enjoyed every episode I’ve listened to. The hosts provide both humor and insight into the books they discuss.

Writing

You know you’re listening to a world-class writing podcasts when one of the hosts is Brandon freaking Sanderson. I’ve been listening to Writing Excuses for a few of their seasons now and they do such a great job of providing fresh and insightful writing advice every week.

Punch It is a very different podcast from Writing Excuses, but it’s fun. The hosts of this podcast were long-time hosts of a Star Trek Voyager podcast called To The Journey, and they seriously gave me a new appreciation for the show through their discussion. So when they decided to embark on this new endeavor, I knew I had to check it out. The show is still pretty new, but they discuss the writing of TV shows and movies, either how they themselves would write it or how effective the writing was. Star Trek is still a regular focus of the show as well, which I appreciate.

Do you have any favorite podcasts about writing or books?

It Will Happen When It’s Supposed To

Last Saturday I attended the SCBWI Midsouth conference for the third time. For the uninitiated, SCBWI is for writers, illustrators, and enthusiasts of children’s literature (which includes young adult). I always walk away from this conference feeling really encouraged, inspired, and ready to improve my craft. I always meet wonderful people who feel like my people. I could go on about what I learned, but there’s something else in regards to this conference that has got me to thinking: How did I get here?

I believe whole-hardheartedly that things work out the way they do for a reason. I also believe that God is the one who orchestrates all these events in my life and weaves them together just so. But regardless of your beliefs, you have to admit how things come together can be pretty awesome.

I often tout that I had a worthless major in college. And I stand by that. But two things happened in the course of this “worthless major” that I believe led me to SCWBI conferences:

  1. I took a fiction writing class my last semester, because I needed another elective.
  2. I couldn’t get hired straight out of school, so eventually I ended up in a string of temp positions.

The fiction writing class is what got me back into writing. I clung to writing during that time of unemployment when I felt so useless. As for the temp position, that is where I met the woman who first told me about SCBWI.

At my first SCBWI conference, I really had no idea what to expect. I went in there thinking I knew one person, but reconnected with another girl who lived in my town that I had known from church. We ended up in the same critique group at the end of the day, and we kept in touch. That day I also met another girl who lived in our town. We stayed somewhat connected, though we did not hear as much from her as she became a new mom. Then several months ago, she reached out to me and the first girl, and we have been meeting and critiquing each other pretty consistently ever since. It was so great to sit with both of them at the conference this year.

I also learned about publishing from my first SCBWI conference. I was mostly blind to the whole process, but I learned about agents and queries and editors and the whole nine yards.

Before my fiction writing class, I had also been very afraid of sharing my fiction writing. That class was an epiphany – exactly what I needed – the kick in the butt to share. So I was able to share myself, my writing, at these conferences, with these girls I have come to know (and some others as well).

Before the conference this year, I paid for a fifty-page critique of my novel, and it was not an easy thing to do, but it was the right decision. A decision I would have never made, a place I never would have been ready for, had it not been for SCBWI. I got some much-needed constructive criticism. After that critique I improved the first few pages of my story to bring to the conference, and got even more feedback. So I’ll be revising again, on those first few pages and on the rest of the manuscript.

My goal is to have another full revision by the end of this year, ready for some beta readers. This is with the goal of being ready to query sometime early next year. I have made goals like this before that I have not met, but I KNOW I really am much closer this time. Between the paid critique service and my critique partners and what I hear in these conference sessions I know I am headed in the right direction. I am completely convinced I can make my dream to become a published author come true.

And I wonder if I would even be here right now had it not been for that “worthless major.”

So no, I did not get published at 25, I probably won’t have a physical book of mine out by 30 (but hopefully, maybe, I will have a book sold by then?!), but that is OK. I believe publication will come at the right time.

Right now, my own story is being written.