Monday, January 30, 2012

When reading is an escape....

I'm not going to lie. January hasn't been the best month in the world. In fact, it's sucked epically!!! I've had a really, really bad flare up with my depression. It has rained almost constantly this month in GA, which has seriously gotten to me. Lots of stuff going on in my personal life has made things tough.

Like last May, I retreated to reading. I devoured the Stephanie Plum novels along with the Sookie Stackhouse books. Both of those series really helped get me through the hard times, and I've had the same thing happen this month.

I've read 17 books this month! Crazy huh? I'm naturally a fast reader, but I'll openly acknowledge that I've let housework go in favor of slipping away to other realms and worlds. I haven't just restricted myself to YA. I've been reading Adult, non-fiction, you name it! I'll be posting a view reviews soon.

Some great YA that I read were the boarding school mystery novels, The Liar Society and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks. I really enjoyed both of them!

I read two great self-pubbed books, The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines and The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto.I would highly recommend them both too.

I'll probably be posting a few reviews as I continue reading.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rembering Who You're Really Writing For: A Teen Perspective of Last Week Kurfaffle

This actually happened in my classroom on Friday morning at 9:25am in Northwest Georgia...

Picture a class full of 8th graders. Those finished with their Practice Writing Test on why cell phones shouldn't be banned at school are reading(these kids are serious about reading. Library passes far outweigh restroom ones...but I digress).

As I glance up from the ever growing mound of papers to grade, my eyes hone in on a particular book across the room.

And I gasp in horror.

It is a book known by some in the YA community to promote a psychotic...er, negative relationship with an emotionally, if not physically abusive, love interest. The feminist in me fumes at the harmful messages of the book while the writer in me bristles about the non-sensical plot.

At my gasp, heads jerk up and brows furrow questioningly at me. The reader of said book realizes I'm staring at her. "What?" she demands in a tone that teenage girls have perfected.

"You're reading....that book."

"So?"

Now that I have the entire class's attention, not just the reader's, I fumble for the right words. "That book seems to promote a negative image of what relationships should be. You do know, it's not normal for a boy to stalk or want to kill you, right?"

The reader looks at me as if I've just said the dumbest thing on the planet(another look teenagers have perfeted). She rolls her eyes while saying, "Well, duh! Of course I do."

My utter and total surprise makes her laugh. "I'd never let a boy treat me like that. I just think the story is cool."

Other girls lean over and examine the cover. "Ooh, what's it about?" "Can I check it out after you do?" and then finally another honest female matter of factly states, "You do know when we hear a book is bad, we just want to read it even more to see what it's really about?"

Yeah, I kinda do. Cause I've seen negative Goodreads or Amazon reviews that have made me stroke my chin and go, "Hmm, wonder if that's really true?" I stop the chin stroking and pick up the book to see for myself whether I agree or disagree. The ol' "Curiosity killed the cat" at its finest.

So, what does this have to do with anything about what happened last week?

First, I think we YA writers sometimes forget who our true audience is. Teenagers. And those teenagers for the most part DO NOT read Amazon or Goodreads reviews. They do not follow authors on twitter or facebook.

What they do is walk into a library and literally judge a book by its cover. Or they take the time to read the blurb and see if it sounds cool. Or they take actual teen word of mouth like my students do.

When we forget who our true audience is, it often skews our own opinions. My student didn't need to read The Feminine Mystique or know anything about Feminist criticism. Her common sense told her it was wrong, and she was able to form her own opinion why. I hope to God that most young women reading books like that book and others will be blessed with the same common sense. However, not all young women do. I watched two students I taught in 8th & 9th grade break up because "he wasn't an Edward!" Scary stuff!!

I think it can probably be said that us "oldsters" reading YA bring a hella lot of baggage to our YA reads. We're not going to view books the same way because of our wisdom, education, or personal experiences. I often wonder what 12-18 yr old Krista would have thought about some of the Young Adult I read now. At that age, YA was completely out of the equation for me. I was reading VC Andrews(no comments from the peanut gallery!) and Danielle Steel.

And I think all of this ties back clumzily to the multiple Goodreads craziness that happened this week as well as reviews in general. Just like my student's reaction to me "talking down to her", I think most teens would be appalled at what has gone on the past week. I think they would expect us to grow-up and act like the adults we're supposed to be. With that said, something must be learned by authors on how to react to negative reviews. The YA community must try to distance themselves from mob mentality or hopping on a bandwagons--good or bad. Promoting a clique like . Instead of focusing so much on twitter time, reach out to schools. Contact librarians and teachers about talking with their students.

We've got to realize the bigger picture. It shouldn't be about 5 Star Goodreads or Amazon reviews. It should be about people connecting with our stories. Somewhere there's a lot of our target audience who, as my student did, get in trouble for missing dinner because they are so enthralled by a book's plot.

At the end of the day, becoming a writer for me is based on the same theory as why I became a teacher. It's not because of the money...it's because I wanted to tell my story and have someone enjoy and treasure it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Happy 2012 peeps!! Thanks for all of you for stopping by, sending me words of encouragement, reading my posts, and most of all, for being the best online buds anyone could have!!

I hope it is a happy, healthy, and prosperous one for us all. I wish some of you agent success and others book deal success(me too! me too!) as well as others book launching success if this is your year!

It's no secret that the past two years haven't been the best for me. But the last half of 2011 saw some wonderful and exciting changes in the form of my new teaching job and new agent. So, I'm hoping and praying that things keep getting better and brighter from here!

As for me, I'm just gonna keep on swimming and let the good things wash over me!!!


*check back this week for my best of posts! I'm running a little behind!*