Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Must Reads For YA Writers

A few years ago whenever people asked me how someone my well-past-teen age could write YA, I'd explain how the emotions have remained consistent since I was a teenager.

I'm not sure that's entirely true anymore. Oh, sure we all still experience a range of emotions, but the prevalence of social media has shifted the landscape in a profound way. Even while parenting teens, I've noticed dramatic changes in the four years separating my daughters. As a parent, I know I'm always a step behind. So what does that mean for my drawer novels? More concerning: what does it mean for my WIP?

Thankfully, two great new books will help both writers and parents bridge the gap.




I purposely sat next to different moms during every soccer game, flashing American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales. The book inevitably provoked an interesting conversation with my fellow soccer moms. I wish every mom, teen and writer would read this one. It's a bit harrowing at times. One night my 16-year-old daughter snuggled next to me in bed and read a few chapters along with me. She plans to finish it on her own this summer. We've already had so many great discussions about social media, the pressure on girls, and how we use technology.





The bright pink title of Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein
made me wonder what rumors might ensue if I read this one at halftime. Ironically, the social media book is more graphic. I loved Orenstein's thoughtful interviews on wide-ranging topics. She truly respects her teenage subjects while remaining an adult. YA writers could benefit from her writing voice, in addition to the subject matter. This one is now waiting on my college-aged daughter's bed for when she arrives home next week. Her sister will read it next.

As a parent, I often wish the world were different for my daughters--and I know many parents who pretend things haven't changed all that much.

The problem comes when we don't acknowledge the way things have changed, as writers. Readers depend upon us not to talk down to them. To portray the truth. Provide a realistic slice of life.

That means keeping up with changing times. We owe it to our readers!



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Blogging Elsewhere

I'm over at YA Outside The Lines today blogging about the dream versus the reality of the writing life. Check it out: http://yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com/2016/05/dream-vs-reality-by-sydney-salter.html





Friday, February 26, 2016

Book Versus Movie: ROOM

Over and over again this happens: I see an intriguing book-based film trailer and hurry to read the book before seeing the movie, but then I like book so much that I never bother seeing the movie. Rarely do movies capture the nuances and subplots that make books so rich and satisfying. I'm especially disappointed with nonfiction adaptations--so much of the good information in the book never makes it to the screen (and probably shouldn't for storytelling purposes). Oh, The Lady In Gold, the book. Sigh.

So I never bothered to see Room. The book was SO clever--faithfully maintaining the POV of a five-year-old boy! Clever. Clever. Clever.

But then I found myself having seen 6 of the 8 nominees for this year's Best Picture Oscar. Our great indie theater happened to be showing both Brooklyn and Room, so a double-feature proved irresistible, despite my reservations about Room. The young actor supposedly did a great job…so...but the book was SO clever!

Even though I knew the entire plot, I found myself on the edge of my seat, caught up in intensity and emotion. I hadn't felt that way while reading the book. Only the mother's POV could deliver that kind of emotion--a mother's drive to protect, the heartbreak of losing her own childhood... The boy's voice came through in the movie too. Yet the movie, released from the constraints of a child's POV, also captured the dynamic relationship between the mother and son. I left the theater emotionally exhausted, and I couldn't stop thinking about that young mother.

I also couldn't stop thinking about how the book lost too much by being clever. That's a real danger for us writers, isn't it? We focus on coming up with the next BIG IDEA without wondering if the truth in the story will suffer. Maybe the most clever way to tell a story isn't always the best way?

Room the movie wins this battle. I hope it brings home some Oscar statues this Sunday!




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Blogging Elsewhere!

Today I've posted on YA Outside The Lines! The topic is under the radar authors, and I've picked an author with a great YA voice who wrote in Germany during the 1930s.

Check out the post here: http://yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com/2016/02/irmgard-keun-nazi-era-feminist-writer.html


Friday, November 20, 2015

Rah-Rah Write!

A couple of nights ago, I had dinner with several writer friends, and we got to talking about Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert's book about living a creative life. Different aspects of the book resonated with each of us.

I love the way she dismisses the notion that we should have to "suffer" for art.

My project this past year has been to put the fun back into my writing life. I joined a pen pal group with people all over the world. I'm working my way through a challenging writing exercise book. I've written a dozen short stories. Retreating a bit has reminded me why I write: I LOVE IT! (And I probably couldn't stop if I wanted to.)

Big Magic is an easy-to-read, light-hearted, and accessible cheerleading book--sometimes we need to remember that the creative life should be a happy one!


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Blogging Elsewhere

The bloggers over at YA Outside the Lines chose amusement parks as this month's theme. Yikes! Lucky for me today I happened to send my daughters off to Disney World--without me.

You can read the post here: http://yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com/2015/06/today-mickey-mouse-means-letting-go-by.html



Friday, May 8, 2015

A Novel I Wouldn't Have Written If I Weren't A Mother

A few years ago, my daughter and I were talking about paranormal literature--which archetype would be the next big thing? My daughter joked, "don't mummies need a little love?" I laughed at her pun. But then I took it as a challenge. Could I write a mummy story? 

I ended up creating a campy funny-mummy tale that twists the genre a bit. You can read it for free on the Swoon Reads site: http://www.swoonreads.com/m/all-wrapped-up

Read the whole story at: http://www.swoonreads.com/m/all-wrapped-up

Daddy swears that his new Forever Cleo anti-aging cream will make Cosmo Cosmetics even more millions—but does that have to mean keeping an actual Egyptian mummy in the house? 16-year-old Tempe Cosmo knows that Daddy’s really hoping to develop yet another Ugly-B-Gone miracle cream—one that will once and for all cure her burn scars. Tempe decides to return the mummy but accidentally destroys the poor thing during a high speed chase with a mysterious limousine. Soon Tempe starts seeing hallucinations—how else can she explain the hottie wandering around the garden? And there’s all that completed History homework. Prince Siamun demands that she find him another mummified body so he can reach his wine-and-girls afterlife. Tempe’s adventure includes crazy mummy cults, self-discovery, and romance! http://www.swoonreads.com/m/all-wrapped-up


Just one more example of how being a mom has forever changed and challenged me! Thanks, girls!!!
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