Friday, February 19, 2010

Why I Read and Love YA

Since owning my Barnes and Noble nook, I've gotten a lot of questions about it. One of the many questions coming from my co-workers is "what type of books do you read?" My usually answer is "just about anything," because I will read any story that can hold my attention. I don't care what category it's shelved in at the store or online. I just need a compelling story of some sort.

A lot of times my answer is enough and they just walk away after asking a few more ebook/nook related questions. Then there are the people that don't take the "anything" answer to heart. They want to know what I've read recently and why I read so much. People who don't read on a regular basis never seem to understand where I can find the time for two books a week. I find the time, reading at any free moment I have a book beside me. It's what I like to do, so I find the time.

My normal response is I read a lot of Young Adult books or books for teens. They look at me like I'm from another planet. Mind you, out of 48 employees, only 4 (including myself) are girls and all 48 (okay, minus a few who just make video games because it's what they can do talent-wise) are video game nerds. Reading is foreign to them and Young Adult books don't even exist. Most have heard of Twilight and of course Harry Potter (and a few have read HP of course), but their knowledge doesn't go beyond those two series.

I've tried to put my love of YA books into words for them, but it's very hard. How do you explain awesomeness to someone who doesn't speak the language of awesome? I wish I could force each and everyone of them to read a few of my favorite Young Adult authors and books without judging the stories before they open to page one.

Beyond the amazing community of YA authors, their books are even more awesome than they are (if that's even possible). I think that adult fiction (and don't get my wrong, I still read my fair share of adult fiction) has boundaries that authors are afraid to break. In YA fiction, there are no such broundaries. Take Ellen Hopkins books as an example. Not only is her subject matters serious (sex, drugs, prostitution, cutting, etc) but written in beautiful poetry. How many books of this nature would get onto the New York Times bestsellers list in the adult category? Not many, unless Oprah was pushing it, in my opinion.

I feel like young adult characters are richer, deeper than most adult characters. I don't know if it's because teens wear their emotions on their sleeves and as adults we're taught to be stoic or if YA authors just put more time and heart into building a character that teens can feel for and relate to. I've also come to realize, due to most YA books being shorter (or generally YA books average less words), the authors don't have a chance to be wordy and long winded. They have to get to the point, choosing each word carefully. There aren't too many teen books that I've read where I've thought it could have been chopped in half and still have told the same story. Unfortunately, I find that in a lot of adult books I've read recently. Take out 10,000-20,000 words or more and the book(s) would be more cohesive.

Anyway, enough of my rambling about why I love YA books. I want to know why YOU love teen books?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Winners of the Valentine's Day Contest!

Thank you to all who participated in the Valentine's Day contest! It was a very hard to choose the winners.

The winners are:

Sherry @ Flipping Pages for All Ages



Please be sure to email us by Tuesday, February 23rd at YAedge AT yahoo DOT com (new winners will be selected if I do not hear back on Wednesday, February 24th). Please make sure to let me know which book you'd like. If each winner picks the same book, the first to email will receive it.

The books up for grabs are:

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles:
(From When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more. In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (ARC):
(From The undead can really screw up your senior year . . .

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancĂ©. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

Evermore by Alyson Noel:

Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, Ever can see auras, hear people's thoughts, and know a person's entire life story by touch. Going out of her way to avoid human contact and suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen.

Damen Auguste is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head—wielding a magic so intense, it's as though he can see straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. She has no idea just who he really is—or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

YAedge Feature Author: Joy Preble

On this fine Valentine's Day we're fortunate to have young adult author, Joy Preble, hanging with us and chatting about bookish stuff.
Cause we all LOVE books. ;)
Her novel, Dreaming Anastasia, is a magical read - full of folklore, history, and a budding romance. As Class of 2k10 authors, Kitty Keswick and I (aka Judith Graves) were matched up with Joy, a Class of 2k9 author, as our mentor. It's wonderful to have Joy as a resource on marketing, how to survive your debut well as a champion in our ring.
She's been an amazing support for us. Thanks, Joy!

Here's the blurb for DA:

Sixteen year old Anne thinks her life is pretty ordinary – until she smacks into handsome, mysterious, and okay, annoying Ethan on her way to chemistry class.

Now Anne has powers she doesn’t understand, a history altering mission she may not want, and a growing attraction to this blue-eyed stranger. And Ethan- who at eighteen made some choices he’s starting to regret – realizes that Anne is the girl for whom he’s been searching – for a very, very long time. Stir in doomed Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia – who is definitely not quite as dead as the history books say – and Baba Yaga, the legendary witch from Russian folklore, and you’ve got DREAMING ANASTASIA, a contemporary YA fantasy that alternates between the voices of Anne, Ethan, and Anastasia as Anne and Ethan join forces to battle the bad guys and save Anastasia.

Only problem is – no one’s quite sure who’s really bad and who’s good. And everyone has some secrets.

And the questions we asked Joy:

As well as a writer, you’re a high school English teacher. Ah…the ultimate career for a YA author. You get to immerse yourself in trenches of teen angst. What is your all-time favourite title to cover with classes?

You know before I answer that last part, let me say that I am not totally sure that teaching English is the perfect YA author career. Both professions take immense amounts of energy and creativity and I so sometimes find that when I’m on a deadline or my own stories are swirling in my brain, it’s hard to work up sufficient interest in, say, grading Antigone essay tests.  But back to what you asked, I really do have lots of favorites. If I had to pick only one, I’d say The Great Gatsby, which I honestly believe is the best American novel ever. I actually haven’t taught it in a long while and I miss it! But you’re right about the angst. I’ve got a front row seat every day. Sometimes it gets a tad crazy…

To promote your debut novel, you took the blogging world by storm, doing a whirlwind 70 blog tour. How did you manage to keep your answers fresh and interesting?

Well, that’s the thing about 70 stops – even if the answers aren’t fresh, you kind of forget by the time you get to the end! Joking aside, it was tough sometimes, but bloggers began to be fond of my guest posts, so that gave me some freedom to mix things up a bit. I’d answer questions for some; talk about the debut author journey for others; discuss the genre blending aspects of the novel with others. It really was kind of a mixture and that helped. But I definitely ‘owned’ the internet for a while back in September! Publicist Paul and I just really clicked and once we got going planning, the whole thing kind of snowballed. It was work, but it was really a lot of fun!

What character from Dreaming Anastasia do you identify with the most?

I identify with different pieces of many of them, actually. I definitely relate to Ethan’s need for a second chance at his life. (can’t say too much here without getting too spoilery) Being a debut author after having spent some years in the classroom is like a second act for me, so I definitely feel that aspect of his character. I like Anne because she is as brave as I would like to be. And I definitely enjoy Tess’s lack of filter; I can honestly say she’s the part of me that likes to call it like I see it. (Tess is always fun to write because the girl has no filter. She just says what she thinks and lets the chips fall where they may. I can’t always do that in real life, but I wish I could!)

Was it difficult to keep the legendary Rasputin as an incidental character in Dreaming Anastasia? And have you listened to the Boney M song yet? (Joy recently informed me she wasn’t familiar with the tune – how was this possible?!)

Wow, Judith (aka Tracy)! 70 blog tour stops and no one asked me that question! At least not that I remember… The answer is no, it wasn’t really difficult. He just never seemed to emerge in my imagination as a major piece of the plot, even though he is mentioned here an there, particularly in Anastasia’s diaries. This was always Anne and Ethan and Anastasia’s story and I associate Rasputin (fascinating fellow that he was!) more with Nicholas and Alexandra. Plus, honestly, he’s been used so much that I wanted to do a different take on things. Although now that the Boney M song is stuck in my head…

We learn what really happened to Anastasia through a series of letters that appear throughout the book. How much research did you do in order to write them with such a realistic voice for Anastasia?

A lot, actually, and thanks for enjoying her voice. I tried very hard to create a voice for Anastasia that reflected not only her personality but also the time and place in which she lived. I read a number of biographies and on line sources, and tried to use small details – such as how she and her sisters referred to themselves as OTMA – to create a realistic character. Let me also remind you that while that part of the novel can be categorized as historical fiction, I have – at some crucial points – also created an alternate history within the fantasy elements. So not everything that happens in the novel is absolutely as it happened historically nor is it meant to be. Occasionally people have questioned those aspects – I think in part because the Romanov story just inspires such strong emotions in people - which has been curious to me since no one ever says, hey, Anastasia didn’t really get carried away by a witch named Baba Yaga. But most of my readers seem aware that I’ve taken some literary license.

What’s next on the writing front? Anything you like to share?

I’ve been working on a lot of projects since I first sold Dreaming Anastasia back in the end of 2007. Right now I’m thrilled to say that I am finishing up the second book in the Dreaming Anastasia series, and that it’s currently set for release in 2011! Dreaming Anastasia is actually in its third printing since September and I’m hoping that readers will be just as enthusiastic with book 2. The Anne and Ethan romance is definitely about to heat up. Plus there’s a malevolent Russian mermaid called a rusalka. And Tess will be back. Also Baba Yaga. And… well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

For more information on Joy and updates on Haunted (can't wait to get a sneak peek at the cover!), check out her website. And for fun, here's Boney M's Rasputin for ya. ;)