Friday, February 26, 2010

y YA?

i did not originally set out to write YA fiction. in fact, when i queried agents for my first novel, i targeted those who represented women's lit. somewhere along the submission process i realized what i'd actually written was a young adult novel. and that realization was comforting.

i've been reading since early childhood, but it wasn't until fourth grade that books really began to speak to me. i can remember so clearly sitting in a circle with my friends in the back of our classroom, taking turns reading aloud from are you there god? it's me, margaret - absolutely baffled as to why you'd have to wear a belt with a pad.
judy blume taught us what our mothers wouldn't about periods.
actually, judy taught us just about everything.

i eventually graduated from judy blume to francine pascal's sweet valley high series. and when i got sick of the formulaic plots (and having to read the same paragraph in each book about how jessica and elizabeth may look the same but couldn't be more different) i moved on to novels that dealt with meatier subject matter.
strangely enough, i quit reading YA books in high school. in fact, i didn't start reading them again until after i'd written my first three novels.
yup - i wrote three young adult novels without even being familiar with the genre. i had no clue about current trends, or the target audience. all i knew was how much i enjoyed reading about teenagers when i was a kid, and how perfectly natural if felt to write about them.

so, three finished YA novels and no representation.
turns out i was damn good at writing two paragraph synopses, because i had many, many requests for my manuscripts. but all those requests were followed by rejection letters.

after novel #3 i was burned out, and still i didn't read any YA (not even twilight!).
when i started my current wip, i was honest with myself. i knew this wasn't just a hobby for me. that this was what i really wanted to do with my life, and that meant i had to do my homework.
having a good idea isn't enough. neither is having a great idea. it has to be well-crafted and polished.

so now i actively read the genre.
now i can see the difference between a good story and good writing. and the more i read, the more i wish to improve my skills so i can move on to refining them. and the more i know that YA is right where i want to be.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


i'm not one of those people who always knew they wanted to write.
i'm one of those people who always loved to read.

ever since i can remember my life has been filled with books, but i never had an urge to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard and actually write.
there was only one time in my childhood that i imagined myself a published author. i was in jr. high and the school library was hosting a talk given by a young adult author. she was an alumna and had riddled her novel with references to our school. sitting in the library i allowed myself to imagine i was her, talking with the students and suggesting that one day they might be giving a speech at their former jr. high.

it wasn't until i became an adult did i even consider attempting to write. and now here i am, working on my fourth young adult novel, hoping to soon land an agent (i'll wait until i've landed an agent before i dream of actually being published).
now you might be thinking, "this gal has written three novels and is still unrepresented. she must suck."
and you know what?
you may be right. but i like to think of my first novels as practice. as a way of working on my craft. my previous novels were written in quick succession, the last one completed three years ago.

so why has it taken me so long to start writing again?
reason #1 - burnout
i was just all written out. i had an idea i really wanted to work into a novel but i was just too tired. i had no enthusiasm and no flow, so i thought a break would benefit me.
reason #2 - baby
throughout my pregnancy and the first year of my son's life, i have just had no time (or energy) to write. it's taken a long time, but now i am itching to work on my novel. the only problem is finding the time.
but i am determined and dedicated.

this blog is just a fun way for me to document my journey while working on my current project, and to give my thoughts on Young Adult literature.
and a way to remind me to WRITE!