If you haven’t read Mechanica – the feminist, steampunk Cinderella retelling – yet, what are you waiting for? Seriously, it’s so so so good. I’m obsessed with Cinderella retellings and it’s my second favorite one of all time (Ella Enchanted will ALWAYS be number one to me, sorry Betsy!). If you have read Mechanica, then I’m guessing you are already so enchanted by the amazing world building and nuanced characters that you don’t need me to tell you to read this sequel. But I had some thoughts I wanted to write out and this is my blog, so … here we go!
I know, I know, it’s Wednesday. I was spacing out yesterday, but didn’t want to miss this topic because I liked it a lot. I started writing YA before I was reading it widely. I’d read a few YA books in high school, was obsessed with Twilight along with my friends in college, and started reading Hunger Games with my students my first year teaching. But it was starting this blog, hoping to learn more about these books and the people who wrote them, that really made me fall in love with the genre. Here are my gateway YA books. Each one will always be incredibly special to me. Continue reading “Ten Books I Love From When I Started Getting Into YA”→
Happy weekend! I am having a huge good book streak. I’m really hoping it doesn’t end anytime soon – obviously. I might be losing sleep, but it’s one hundred percent worth it. Here are some favorite YA books that I’ve read in the last few weeks!
Eliza and her Monsters, by Francesca Zappia, blew me away and kept me up late at night. In some ways it felt like Fangirl on steroids. In others, it had its own special and unique magic. In the story, teenage Eliza is the creator of one of the most popular webcomics on the internet. She doesn’t do friends, at least not IRL, and her identity on the internet is a closely guarded secret. Then Wallace, her comic’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school and they develop a relationship through their shared interest. But he thinks that she’s just another fan and doesn’t know how to tell him. Ugh. This writing is beautiful. Like makes you want to cry and throw up at the same time beautiful. And the story is … I said on twitter that it made me feel like a mix between having a crush and the night before a new Harry Potter book comes out. And I stand by that strong endorsement. More people should be reading this book. Aside from being oh so swoony, it also has some of the best descriptions of anxiety I’ve ever read. Continue reading “Three Mini Reviews of Some Good (No Great!) Books I’ve Been Reading”→
Betsy and I met in college, but even though I had a big friend crush on her I was way too shy to talk to her much. Then I reached out about how much I loved her first book Tides and an online friendship sparked into being. In another life, we are roommates conquering the NYC publishing world together and drinking beers on the weekend at The Way Station. But since she lives with her dreamy family in Ireland, I have to settle for some of the kindest, most supportive emails a friend/aspiring writer could ever ask for. Betsy’s third book Venturess is out today. It is the sequel to the badass, feminist Cinderella retelling Mechanicaand my very favorite thing that Betsy’s written so far. Expect a (glowing!) review soon. But for now, Betsy was kind enough to answer some questions for me… Continue reading “Author Interview: Betsy Cornwell”→
I took a YA lit class in grad school with David Levithan. One of the first things he said was to make the details in our writing as specific as possible. More detailed. More specific examples. These were two phrases, I became accustomed to seeing on my personal essays. It’s one of the lessons that I try to keep in the very front of my brain while writing. It’s also a lesson that no one needs to teach Julie Murphy, apparently. Because Damn! Ramona Blue, the latest book from the author who brought us Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, is one of the most specific, detailed, and unique books I’ve ever read.
As with people in real life, Ramona’s history looms large over her present struggles. She was a small child when Hurricane Katrina dramatically changed her family. She’s been a kind of surrogate parent to her little sister, who is now pregnant. She likes girls. She wants to leave town, but doesn’t know if she can now that her sister needs her more than ever. Continue reading “Ramona Blue, by Julie Murphy”→
Hi friends! Sorry I haven’t been blogging as much. This is pretty much how well I’m balancing teaching, plus writing, plus trying to exercise, and have some kind of life. But I’m completely thrilled to have an interview with Lauren Karcz for you today. Her debut YA The Gallery of Unfinished Girlscomes out tomorrow, and I can’t wait to read it.
When developing the story, did you begin with plot, character, or setting?
Characters, for sure. Three of the main characters in Gallery — protagonist Mercedes, her sister Angela, and her best friend Victoria — go way, way back with me. I started writing about them when I was in middle school, and they featured in all kinds of stories, from contemporary romances to mysteries to adventure stories. I carried those girls with me as I grew up, as I became their ages and then surpassed them. I think Mercedes and Victoria were aspirational characters for me at the beginning, but they’ve necessarily evolved over the years. I could always identify with parts of them, and aspire to parts of their personalities, while also acknowledging their flaws. And so I returned to them again and again. Continue reading “Author Interview: Lauren Karcz”→
How long did it take for you to write Girl Out of Water and do you have a consistent writing routine?
First idea to querying for an agent took about six months! I was able to write drafts quickly because I was in graduate school for creative writing at the time. After that, the timeline gets murky because there’s a lot of waiting in between stages. Continue reading “Author Interview: Laura Silverman”→
Did you see what I was trying to do there in the title with the Wizard of Oz reference? No? Oh well, moving on with my geeky self. Last night, was like nonsexual YA orgy of amazingness. I got to go to my favorite bookstore and see/meet three favorite authors. The crowd and energy in the room was nuts. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen more folks come out to Books of Wonder before. I got their half an hour early and was apparently the 70th person there … bananas! Continue reading “Sarah Dessen & Jenny Han & Jennifer E. Smith … Oh my!”→
I met Laura Silverman at the end of my orientation at New School. I was a nervous and slightly overwhelmed new student who’d moved to New York City that week and was still scared of taking the subway. She was a confident and wise second year in my MFA program, who told me to check out my now-favorite bookstore Books of Wonder and gave advice about professors. Even though she was younger than me, I definitely looked up to her – and I still do. So it was lovely to lose myself in her debut novel Girl Out of Water this weekend. I started reading it on a sunny day in the park. After having to take a break for a friend’s dinner party, I finished the book late that night. As much as I like sleep, I liked Anise’s story better. Seventeen-year-old Anise loves surfing and is intensely connected to her California hometown. But when her aunt is injured, she and her Dad must spend the summer in Nebraska helping to take care of Anise’s three younger cousins. Anise expects a summer of boredom and wistfully checking up on her friends back home. But a cute, one-armed skateboarder named Lincoln (swoon!) and her growing connection to her cousins, cause her to lose touch with her friends and her surfer identity in Santa Cruz. Continue reading “Girl Out of Water, by Laura Silverman”→
I have major love for Lara Jean Covey and all the Song girls. I like that she is a shy, quiet, bookish girl who finds her confidence not by losing her shyness or a boy liking her – but through her own journey. I like her relationship with her sisters and the way Margot and Kitty have changed over the last three books. I like the cultural details of being half Korean American that are weaved in and out of the narrative. I’ve said this several times now, but reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was formative to my interest in writing contemporary YA. Hearing Jenny Han speak at The National Book Festival in 2012 was formative to my decision to move to New York City and get my MFA in writing for children and teenagers. So yeah, I’ve been looking forward to reading the third and final Lara Jean book since I found out it was happening. And, as expected, it did not disappoint. Continue reading “Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han”→