Tag Archives: young adult

I’m Moving!

32858796736_aaf1c32d9d_kHey everyone!

I’ve got exciting news. You probably already guessed what the news is based on my post’s title… yes, I’m moving! I got a new job and am moving across state lines.

It’s a big deal for me because I was born and raised in Maryland. My entire family lives in Maryland. And though I’m only going to be two and a half hours away from them, that’s a long drive!

Anyway, I’ve rented a suite until my apartment is ready in a few weeks. But I’ve already packed all of my belongings over the past three weekends because I’m not getting a break between my old and new jobs. My last day at my old job was this past Thursday and I started my new job today!

I’m a bit tired and nervous about knowing absolutely no one in this area. I’ll have to get involved with the community. (This might be a little dorky, but I was a Girl Scout for ten years; I was even a Girl Scout Ambassador. So, it might be cool to volunteer with the Scouts. Be a role model.)

Thanks for listening to me about my news. I wanted to post something writing related for you all, but time just got away from me. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could freeze time for everyone but yourself and then have time to do everything you need to? I’m sure there are a ton of unintended consequences to that power… I choose not to think about them. Save that for another time. 🙂

Have a fantastic evening everyone!

(Photo courtesy of Mumes World.)

“Exit, Pursued by a Bear” Book Review

Happy Holidays, everyone! Hope they were full of cheer, and that you’ve got your New Year’s resolutions in mind. (If not, don’t feel bad, I’m still figuring mine out…)

I’m happy to announce that I completed my Goodreads reading challenge. When I started at the beginning of 2016, I thought reading a book every two weeks wouldn’t be a big deal. Then, life got in the way, and I had some catching up to do. But, a week away from the new year and thirty books later, I’ve accomplished the challenge.

The final book I read was Exit, Pursued by a Bear. The protagonist’s voice was amazing; I got sucked in immediately, so I wanted to share a quick review of the book with you.

3117275267_ec87043835_oA surprisingly fast read exploring the fallout from a traumatic event, Exit, Pursued by a Bear will not let you put it down as you delve into the painful aftermath and resolute strength of seventeen-year-old Hermione.

This novel is about how a teenaged girl survives and overcomes being raped during cheerleading camp. However, this book is not like your typical rape novel. While I cried multiple times, Hermione’s story never fell into traditional rape survivor stories, either pursuing the rapist’s identity and the ensuing trial or how the survivor crumbles after the rape.

In this book, Hermione retakes her power from her rapist. She refuses to be defined by one event, no matter how horrific it was; she will not be a statistic. There are times when Hermione starts falling apart, but she has a phenomenal support system, people who gather around her and feed her their strength, when she can’t stand on her own two feet.

This one night—this one thing—this rape that happened to Hermione united her and those around her in a new and empowering way, as everyone felt the ripple effects of one individual’s horrible actions, as slut-shaming and victim-blaming spread, as the date rape drug left a blank spot in Hermione’s memory, and as Hermione claws her way past her anger, fear, confusion, and powerlessness.

The novel’s inspiring ending was one of hope for now and the future. By having such an amazing support system, Hermione was better able to choose how she reacted to her rape. By having people around her who offered understanding and compassion, instead of blame, Hermione was able to move past a potentially life-damaging moment.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is an empowering, engrossing read. No one deserves to be raped, but everyone—especially those who go through such trauma—deserves a strong support system, and a best friend like Polly.

(Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Moore.)

“We Are the Ants” Book Review

“We Are the Ants” is a Young Adult semi-science fiction novel by Shaun David Hutchinson. I say semi-science fiction because the novel is more contemporary than Sci-Fi, and it deals with some very realistic and dark issues. However, if I rated this novel on a scale of 1-5, with five being I absolutely loved it, I’d try to cheat the system and give it a six.15785386571_4b0249c2ff_z

At first, I was put off by the amount of cursing within the opening chapters (heads up there’s several f-bombs), but I quickly became engrossed with the protagonist Henry’s personality, trauma, and, most importantly, story.

This novel engages readers, and forces them to witness bullying, mental illness, and come to understandings that they would normally otherwise rather not think about. Shaun David Hutchinson uses Henry to send some very important messages to readers: “Remember the past, live the present, write the future” and that we do matter; maybe not to the universe or in the grand scheme of things – all of us will be forgotten in time – but we do matter and because we live the present, we’ll keep on.

After all, we’re the ants. And what do ants do? They keep marching one by one.

There’s a deepness to this story that isn’t initially apparent, but then showcases itself brilliantly through the pain of loss, the presence of new love and the guilt and fear that sometimes accompany that love, and much more.

This novel begins with Henry telling readers about how he’s been abducted by aliens multiple times, and that they’ve now given him a choice: press the button and save Earth or don’t press the button and on 29 January 2016 the world is going to end. The question remains: will Henry press the button?

Though there is a love story within this book, this novel is so much more complex than a YA romance between Henry and Diego. Henry’s ex-boyfriend Jesse – the love of his life – committed suicide. Henry’s mother is a chain-smoking waitress, who cannot stand her one-time dream of being a chef because that dream reminds her too much of Henry’s dead-beat, door-slamming father, who abandoned them. Henry’s brother is a college dropout. The most popular boy in school alternates bullying and making out with Henry. Henry’s grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s. The list goes on, and it is dark and amazing and heartfelt, and at times when readers need it most, comical.

Insight abounds in this novel, and what’s more is that the insight is conceivable. Usually in YA books, the protagonist possesses an awareness other characters miss, and often that insight is too deep or advanced for that character. However, in this novel Henry struggles with the big life questions. He asks others for answers, and the answers they provide create a well-rounded and realistic picture, with each of their answers reflecting the events that have occurred in their lives and how those events have impacted them. This story and its characters are believable to the point I imagined it as real life. That’s a big part of what makes this novel so engrossing, and what had me smiling, crying, and feeling all the emotions throughout the tale.

This book left my mind reeling with thoughts long after I closed the back cover. Definitely take the time to read this.

(Photo courtesy of Michael Brace.)

YA vs. NA: The Dividing Line

lets-talk-about-sexOnly in the literary world are 13-17 year olds considered young adults. To the rest of the world, young adults are those people in their twenties. However, the literary world has decided to create a category for these young adults. They’ve titled this age group New Adult.

In video games, you have E for everyone, T for teen, and A for adult. That division makes more sense than delineating novels into children’s vs. adult books, where children’s books encompass picture books to YA.

All the young adults I know are not children. They are those individuals in college, starting out with their first professional jobs, balancing graduate school and work, etc. They are not freshmen in high school or working on getting their first kiss.

Would you consider a fifteen year old to be a young adult? I think of a fifteen year old as a teenager, a young one at that.

Some of the YA books I’ve recently read I was surprised at the sexual content in them. Just because you call something “adult” doesn’t mean you can get graphic. I won’t name any specific books, but there were some YA novels that detailed a guy going down on a girl or a girl experiencing an orgasm.

I don’t know about you, but when I was fifteen, I was naïve, hadn’t been kissed, or had a boyfriend (I don’t count preschool and elementary school where relationships last about two hours).

Now that I’m older – a true young adult – I would be uncomfortable with teenagers reading some of the YA books out there. I’ve got a thirteen-year-old cousin and I don’t like thinking about her reading some of the YA books I have.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that YA books and NA books don’t have a clear dividing line. Sure, people will tell you that NA characters are eighteen to mid twenties, that they deal with losing their virginity, falling in love – true love, not infatuation – for the first or second time, and the like.

But it seems nearly every YA book has the two main characters falling in love, making out, having sex, and more. The main difference I see is that YA protagonists must be 13-17 years old.

Maybe my issue is more with YA books being called YA. Ask agents, writers, publishers, editors, etc. about what makes a YA book effective. Most will tell you one of the big proponents is an authentic teen voice. So, why aren’t YA books called Teen books? Is it because that would limit marketing capability? Would older individuals be dissuaded from reading a group of books labeled Teen instead of Young Adult?

As for NA books having a more adult voice, the few NA books I’ve read dealt with sex, drugs, and abuse, but I’ve seen all of that in YA books. More so, the NA books I’ve read each had a voice that sounded suspiciously like a teenager. I will say that many YA books don’t go into as great of detail as NA, but the same issues are still there.

What do you guys think?

(Photo courtesy of Utopyacon: http://utopyacon.com/categorize-this/)

Do Your Research. (It’ll save you a headache later on.)

When diving into the world of publishing, it’s important to know what you’re diving into. The publishing world is complex. Agents. Editors. Publicists. Publishing houses. Contracts. Publishers. And more.

And before all of that you’ve got to write your novel.

This is why doing research is vital. Research before, during, and after writing your book. Continue researching even after you’ve been published. Stay up to date on what’s happening.

There are three main types of research you should do when involved with the literary world:

  1. Your book. When you get an idea for a novel, it doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction or not, you need to get the facts straight. As an avid reader, one of my biggest issues is reading a book where I know the author did absolutely no research. If half the teenage protagonist’s house gets burned down, the mother and police won’t just shrug their shoulders and leave the teenager alone (without having done any investigating), especially when she tells them that she has no idea why so-and-so tried to burn the house down with her in it. Not to mention having no idea what a normal high school day is like. (Please, if you’re writing YA and have a high school in your novel, know what the typical teenage schedule is like. Even if you’re writing fantasy and school is only a small portion of it, teachers will not make fun of a teenage girl when she comes up and tells them that a guy is making her very uncomfortable.)
  2. Your competition. Know the books that are similar to yours, or at least share the same category. You want to know why certain books were successful and why others weren’t. More importantly, you want to be able to communicate to agents and editors why your book will succeed despite what’s already published.
  3. Agents and Editors. The Internet has made access to information much easier. It’s also allowed for an influx of information that can be overwhelming. However, you want to know which agents and editors would be interested in your novel. If your book is an adult fantasy, you don’t want to waste your time querying an agent who only represents YA contemporary. You can also find information on when certain agents and editors will be at writing conferences. Go to those conferences. Meet those agents and editors. Give them a face and a name to remember. (In a good way only. If they remember you as the creepy stalker, who trailed them for the entire conference without saying a word, they will most likely not represent you.)

Creating lists of agents and editors, and documents for your book research and on your competition will help you to keep everything organized.

Bottom line: By doing thorough research, you will save yourself time and a headache. Plus, you’ll know what you’re talking about when you do get that call from an agent.

What kind of research do you do?

New Adult Fiction: Filling in the Gap

There are children’s books, young adult novels, and adult books. Now, there’s a new genre on the rise: New Adult.

Though new adult fiction has been around for a number of years, it’s only recently that it’s becoming a more common term.

New adult fiction is aimed at readers who are typically between the ages of 18 and 30. It’s a genre for those who enjoy young adult but are looking for more mature topics, without jumping into characters nearing middle age.

These books bridge the gap between young adult and adult populations. They reach to both older teenagers and adults, and tend to focus on the transition from innocence into complicated adult issues. These issues could be living on one’s own for the first time, losing one’s virginity, the trials of one’s first professional job, preparing for a wedding, etc.

In young adult books, sexual interactions and more gruesome or socially unacceptable acts of violence tend to be alluded to instead of shown in any sort of detail. New adult books include more graphic scenes, both violent and romantic.

However, there has been some hesitation about new adult fiction. Books falling into this genre find themselves in the in-between territory. Stuck between adult and children’s literature (children’s and young adult), there is some difficulty finding the genre its own bookshelf.

Here’s a short breakdown of genres to help with differentiating new adult from already established genres:

Young Adult

  • Age appropriate for 13 to 18 year olds (the high school age or those about to attend)
  • Coming of age, but not in a hugely graphic manner and usually without losing all of one’s innocence
  • Easy to comprehend tone (aka fast reads)

Young adult books are stories with language that is easy to read and to the point. They are the PG-13 rating of movies.

Sample Books: Harry Potter, Twilight, The Lightning Thief, Delirium, A Great and Terrible Beauty, The Golden Compass

New Adult

  • Age appropriate for 17 and older (undergraduate, graduate school age)
  • Main character typically 18-25 years old (instead of 13-17, like in YA)
  • Contains both straightforward writing and adult situations
  • Deals with life between the end of high school and full-fledged adulthood (i.e.- you’re legally an adult but you’re not quite ready to be completely on your own)

New Adult books contain some of the same aspects that young adult books do, but with adult situations added in (i.e.- steamier physical interactions) or situations that are harder for younger teens to relate to (i.e.- getting engaged, first professional job, college, having a baby, etc.)

Sample books: Easy, Losing It, Beautiful Disaster, Slammed

Adult Fiction

  • Adult audience, so technically ages 18 and up. However, many adult books include main characters and situations that teenagers won’t relate to and that 18-25 year olds may have difficulty relating to.
  • Can have either straightforward or more complex writing that takes longer to digest
  • Typically includes sexual scenes, sometimes cursing
  • Erotica is considered adult

Sample books: A Game of Thrones, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Da Vinci Code, Jane Eyre, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Notebook

The new adult genre is in the midst of development. This can make it difficult for them to find homes among traditional agents and editors. Therefore, some new adult books have been self-published instead of going the traditional route. For example, Beautiful Disaster was self-published in June 2011 by Jamie McGuire. It was picked up by Atria Books and published through them in August 2012.

Literary agents and publishers are starting to pick up on the new adult genre as a potential moneymaking category (it certainly has a large enough audience). However, this genre is still budding and isn’t seen in traditional bookstores.

Without support it will not grow to the likes of young adult and adult.

What do you think about new adult as an emerging genre?