Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Things I Want to See in YA, Part 2

This one kind of bugs me.

When I was 14, the opportunity to go to France with my French Immersion program presented itself. Of course, I was completely excited and raring to go. The only problem? $2,000 that my parents couldn't afford.

And so, something I wish I could see more in YA?


My family has never been very affluent. Not that we ever were in real financial trouble, just that we could never do anything like vacations (aside from weekend trips to visit family and stuff). So, I wanted to go to France? I had to get a job and pay for it myself.

So I did. I got a job at a restaurant and worked my ass off to pay for the trip. I went on the trip a year later. Kept the job, eventually bought myself a computer. Then, when I was seventeen, a car. This year I bought a new computer. Oh, and I'm paying for my own college tuition. And my situation isn't unusual. Where I live, having a job is the norm. You're a loser if you don't work.

Why don't more characters in YA novels have jobs?

Well, I suppose it could be boring to write. I mean, if your MC has a job, they have less time to go around gallivanting and getting into trouble.

But I think that afterschool jobs have so much potential as settings for all kinds of drama. Consider Elizabeth Scott's Something, Maybe. Hannah's workplace is where we get better acquainted with both love interests, and where all that drama unfolds. Also, I'm tired of characters that rely on their parents for money. We need more characters that are financially, and otherwise, independent.

Workplaces are such a rich mine of character interaction, and I really wish more writers explored them.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Things I Want to See in YA, Part 1

I've been in kind of a reading slump lately. That's partially due to my being stupidly busy with normal people things like work and, y'know, having to sleep, but it's also because lately, I've been having trouble connecting.

Connecting to characters. Connecting to settings. Connecting to plots. Lately, in YA, the characters I've been reading about have seemed... like characters. Not like real people that jump off the page. Settings, which are usually some of my favourite elements of a story, have felt paper-thin and generic. And plots in general have seemed either overly-streamlined, non-existant, or tacked on. Basically, I'm frustrated with this not-being-able-to-enjoy-anything.

So I wrote a quick little list on a scrap of paper of some things I'd like to read about. In this post I'll tackle the first thing on the list. And that is...


Yes, I want to read about acne.

Acne is part of being a teenager. Whether it's mild and you just have a couple blackheads and the odd pimple, or it's terrible and it ruins your confidence, acne is something you have to deal with when you're a kid.

When I was 11, the acne monster hit me hard. Over the years it got worse and worse. I was like those awful 'before' pictures on infomericals for skin care systems. I tried everything, from ProActive to prescription drugs. Nothing worked for longer than two weeks - just when I'd think everything was getting better, my skin would break out and be even worse than before.

Finally, at 17, I was put on an extreme last-resort medication called Accutane, which I'm still on two years later. It has a lot of side effects, potentially dangerous ones, and I require monthly blood work to make sure I'm not, y'know, dying basically.

But anyway - my case is an example of how acne affects you as a teen, from the beginning of puberty into adulthood. And it affects me more than just medically. I had to endure teasing for many of the years I struggled with bad acne. Not just little jabs and sniggers, either. A few times I had perfect strangers tell me what older boys at my school said about my appearance, and when I was feuding with a former best friend I had to hear reports of her badmouthing me, too. It was a very painful experience.

Since I experienced all that in real life, I'd really like to read about it in teen literature. I really wish there was a book about this kind of experience, because it could have made me feel a hell of a lot better about myself. I wish there was a book about a character dealing with more than just the odd zit every now and again, a book that didn't make acne into a trivial little thing. I wish there was a book about someone whose life was being drastically affected by their skin like mine was.

Maybe I'll write that book someday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010



Jeez, I haven't blogged in a bit. Life's been a little crazy this past week. Complications on a minor surgery I had done two months ago (potentially dangerous infection = sadface), another house-sitting job, and... the most exciting news.

WriteOn Con was incredible. Being far out of the way of most exciting big-name writing conferences, I was really happy to be able to participate in one online and for free. Especially one that was so excellent! The agents and editors involved were amazing, the panels, blogs and vlogs were very informative and often hilarious, and the live chats were really entertaining. The forums were full to bursting with amazing talent, and I totally had a blast critiquing stuff and getting feedback on my own material.

The very best part, for me? Two agents contacted me, one requesting that I submit to her, the other asking for a whole partial. And, coincidentally, another agent I queried the week before replied and also requested a partial! All three, from our correspondence, are extremely enthusiastic and passionate already.

Guys... I'm beyond stoked. I'm at the checking-my-inbox every few minutes stage.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First Day of WriteOnCon!

Did I mention that WriteOnCon is amazing?!

I've gotten brilliant feedback on my query in the forums... I'm seriously on a high, here. So glad we have two more days of this thing! I'm having a blast critiquing other peoples' stuff, too, and reading/watching the blog and vlog posts.

May I just say how thankful I am that the kidlit community is so loving, so supportive of its members, and so damn talented?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Adult Fiction vs. YA Fiction

I am 18 years old. Well, not for much longer. My 19th is less than a month away. But still. I'm kind of in the awkward phase of late teen-hood, early adulthood. I'm done high school, I've experienced the melting-away of most of my high school friends (wherein I realized that the only thing we had in common was attendance of the same high school), the breakdown of any kind of routine my life had hadl, but I'm not yet at a point where I know what the fuck I'm doing.

There isn't really an age range of literature devoted to people like me (unless you count this New Adult thing that is apparently on its way up - but I haven't seen much of that yet). So I have to options: read adult lit, or YA lit.

When I was in high school, I was kind of an elitist intellectual. I was known throughout my small town for dramatic hair cuts, crazy hair colours, ripped tights and Doc Martens, and I often wore t-shirts with George Orwell or Leo Tolstoy's portraits on them. Yeah, I was kind of a douche that way. But anyway, I read a lot. This was before I had to get a job and had a ton of free time.

I read mostly adult fiction when I was in high school. Some YA, but not much. Because I was such a conceited douchebag, I kind of considered myself to be above reading about high school.

But now that I'm out of the mindless vacuum of adolescent stupidity (well, mostly out of it), I vastly prefer YA. You know why that is?

Because I'm scared of the world. Now that I've basically been turned loose in it and been told to "find my own way," I don't want to. I want to be back inside those safe cinderblock walls, still incubating, still getting ready for adulthood. Because, fuck, I'm not ready. Reading YA helps me revert back to a time when I was having fun, when I could stay up all night long and do whatever I wanted, when I didn't have to do stupid shit like have a job.

Adult literature is too much for me, now. When I was in high school and didn't have to worry about all these big ideas and questions (What am I going to do with my life? Will I have enough money in the bank for my car insurance next week? What political party should I vote for this election?), I had the mental capacity to read really high-brow literature and ponder the state of humanity.

That's what the debate of Adult Lit vs. YA Lit comes down to for me. Adult lit was perfect for a time when I wanted to expand my horizons, read stuff that made me think about politics, about the human condition, stuff that had all these layers of meaning and symbolism and cryptic shit.

These days, when I want to return to a simpler time, I turn to YA lit. Because it's fun. It's honest. It's straight-up. It doesn't lie to you or depress you or worry you. It doesn't get all high and mighty and "ooooh, look how literary I'm being, I'm using a symbol."

I'm not knocking YA. I'm not knocking adult lit, because hell, some of my very favourite books have been adult books. I'm just saying there has been a time and place for me. And right now, even though I'm getting to be past the target range, the time is right for YA.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fabulous Contest!


Choco over at In Which a Girl Reads is having this massive, amazing blogoversary contest that I really want to win so I'm blogging about it :]

You can enter the contest here.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Songs on Saturday (3)

Today I wrote a really emotionally earnest scene, and there was really only one song I could have listened to while writing it.

A little whiny and emo, yes, but so sincere it makes me melt inside every time I hear it. It's the perfect summer song. Plus both singers have totally gorgeous voices. I don't even need to see them to know they're cute ;)

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Like a lot of you, I'm sure, I often just sit here and look up new YA releases. A new trend that's been smacking me over the head lately is dreaming about people, then seeing them in real life.
As in, girl dreams of mysterious boy, then sees him at her new high school omg. Said mysterious boy often turns out to be a [insert mythical creature here].

I'm... getting weary of this, guys. I almost feel like I have to give up reading paranormal romance altogether because I'm constantly let down by it and it all starts to seem the same. If anyone thinks they can convince me otherwise, maybe recommend some genre-defying books, please do! Because I do so love me some paranormal romance, when it's good.

Lately I just want to read stuff that bends the genre norm, stuff that's totally different.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thoughts on Ice

Ha ha... "Thoughts on Ice" sounds like a seedy Icescapades show or something.

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst...

I fell in love with this cover. Isn't it amazing? It's one of my all-time favourites. In real life it's all shimmery and has pretty silver and pink parts all over the jacket, with little snowflakes. It's gorgeous. And when I found out what it was about I knew I had to read it.

I'd read a few less-than-favourable reviews on Goodreads, but often reading bad reviews makes me want to read something more just to see if I really think it's bad, or whether the reviewer just has different opinions than me**

So I read it.

And... holy crap.

Out of all the books I've read this year, I think this has been my favourite.

Kick-ass female character? Check. Incredible setting I just wanted to sink right into? Check. Engrossing, believable, beautiful romance? Double-check.

This book has it all. I often have problems with romances, finding the majority of YA romance to be shallow and pointless, but this one was perfect. Bear is totally swoonworthy (even though he is a polar bear... okay I'm not even going to think about how weird this makes me sound!). He's hot in the way that Aslan is kind of hot. Know what I mean? No?

The description of the setting actually made me want to move up to a remote Arctic research centre, that's how good it was. And I was really, really stoked on the fact that most of this book takes place in the Canadian Arctic, which is a really beautiful and fragile place we all need to care more about (also, Go Canada!) (If you haven't guessed, I'm a little bit CANADIAN).

But yeah. Beautiful, amazing book. Totally transported me to another world. At times I was so caught up, so involved, that when something bad happened to the characters I'd have to put it down and let it sit for a while before I could read what happened next. It was really emotional and gorgeous and... and... I'll shut up now.

Definitely 5/5!

**or is crazy.