Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Shhh… don’t tell, but sometimes being a writer makes me feel a bit like a spy. As a kid, I spent a lot of time observing people. I was—and still am—intrigued by the way people think, talk and act. Of course, when you’re in school, there are so many opportunities to observe human nature, to overhear bits of conversations, to examine the various ways people choose to express themselves from one day to the next.

In college, my Playwriting professor gave me an assignment—to spy on someone, tape record a short conversation, and write it down verbatim (of course, we changed names to protect the innocent). The purpose of the exercise was to see how people really talked, to see if “real life” conversations would translate well to the stage or page, to see if and how they might need to be modified. Often, they did need to be modified—for clarity or because when real people talk, they so often interrupt each other, use fillers like ‘um’ and ‘uh’, or fail to finish sentences. If that’s overdone in a book, the dialogue ends up sounding stilted, not quite right. The key, we decided, was listening to the rhythms of speech.

Sometimes when I'm at a college campus, coffee shop, or park, I just sit and listen to the sounds of life swirling around. I’m not really spying on anyone, but I catch little phrases here and there, note expressions on people’s faces, and see how body language tells its own story.

Do any other writers out there sometimes feel like a spy, watching the world? Do you take inspiration for dialogue from your personal experiences, imagination, or strangers in passing? How do you come up with the words your characters say? Have you read any books with fabulous dialogue lately?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Reading a book is probably the healthiest form of entertainment out there. We're living in an overstimulated world, surrounded by computer screens and televisions. Entertainment is always just a click away, and we absorb it all in an almost hypnotic state. But reading is different. It's an active mental process. Reading a book engages our imagination, and we create the experience for ourselves.

Some of the advantages of reading:

-It improves our vocabulary.

-It improves our creativity.

-It improves our attention span.

-It improves our reasoning skills.

-It improves our memory.

-It reduces stress.

-It decreases boredom.

And that's just some of the great things reading does for us. But it's more than just a healthier form of entertainment, isn't it? There's something special about reading a book. It's an intimate experience that we have with the author. They put ideas in our heads and with them we create entire worlds in our imagination.

I almost always prefer a book to a movie, because I like to experience things for myself, rather than watching from the outside. I love to hear a character's innermost thoughts and feel like I'm in on their secrets. I love visualizing the setting.

What is your favorite part of being a bookworm? Do you find it sad that more and more people are choosing television over books?

Friday, September 16, 2011
In follow-up to our Wednesday post, here are some pictures of YOUR spaces. Thanks for sharing because I'm eternally interested...and keep them coming!

Fellow Cincinnati writer, Joelle Wilson, has a really interesting space (love the drawings/painting in the background)...definitely says, "I'm serious about writing." Check out her blog Chasing Moonlight for more of her creepy, urban fantasy worlds.

Write Campaigner Scott Stillwell's space is gorgeous. It's really trendy, and both warm and bright. Um, is that a corded phone on your desk?!?

And last but not least. Who is Pet? He is an enigma in the blogging world, but we have super (not) secret pictures of his writing desk. And his view. Bonus points if you can guess Where in the world is Pet?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Ever wonder where writers write?
A few years ago, when I started blogging, I used to follow Diary of a Virgin Novelist. Sadly, Rebecca no longer blogs, but I loved the post where she asked followers to send in pictures of their writing spaces. I am eternally interested in where writers write and readers read.
So, I was thinking that if the girls at We Heart YA share pictures of our spaces, would you be willing to share yours? All this week, I'd love if you emailed us your pictures of where you read, write or design...weheartya(at)gmail(dot)com...and I'll post some every friday for the rest of September (and October if we get enough). I might even call it Friday Friends and give you a little blurb, and link to your site. What do you think?
Without further's Kristan's space where she writes about courageous girls who have to fight against a culture where women are deemed worthless...(hello Riley).
...and here's where Stephanie writes about a Starish and eccentric prince who would probably get along spendidly with Doctor Who...he and his important companion. Also looks like her desk is set up for some cover Designing. :)
...this is my view. Yes, the kitchen is my office. In more ways than just writing. I stop here often to check in on my girl, Jack, who entertains me with her ridiculous imagination. Skadoosh!
...and Ingrid's view just makes me jealous. Colorado mountains. Sigh. A lot of polishing and editing has been happening here lately on a story about a girl who learns to live after enormous loss.
And you? Can't wait to see where you spend your time...Sarah xx
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A fellow writer once asked me, "Where is your real novel?"

He meant it as a compliment. Sort of. And I took it as one. Sort of.

See, he was trying to say that he thought I had real talent. And I appreciate that. But it was one of those backhanded compliments: "You have so much talent, why are you wasting it on writing for teens?"

To be fair, I could have been him. I come from a literary background. I used to think Pulitzers and Nobels were the only achievements worth striving for.

But I also grew up in a time when YA lit didn't exist. (And I'm not even that old.) At least, it didn't exist like it does today. JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer hadn't opened the doors for YA readers and writers, hadn't made YA cool. Hadn't shown that you can have as much magic and passion when you're 14 as when you're 34. Heck, sometimes you can have more -- and that's why adults love YA too.

However, if I'm being honest, the question wasn't totally out of line. Where was my real novel?

See, at the time I was working on a paranormal YA for fun. And that's all it was: fun. It didn't have much head or heart -- and that's a problem. The real-ness of a book has nothing to do with what genre it's in or what audience it's written for. Real-ness has everything to do with head and heart.

(Fun is the icing on the cake.)

Writing that fun project was still important, though. Fun led me to heart, and heart led me to head. After 10,000 words, I put aside that paranormal YA and started my current manuscript, and I think it's the best thing I've ever written. It's my Pinocchio.

So what am I saying? I'm saying, to both readers and writers, don't judge too soon. A puppet may be made of wood, or paper, or a dirty old sock -- but not all wood or paper or dirty old socks are the same. Does the puppet have dreams? Does it tell the truth? Does it show courage and love?

And are those not the very qualities that make boys and girls real?

Thursday, September 1, 2011
Here’s what I love and hate about life: it changes.

No matter who you are or where you live, that’s the one thing you can count on. As one of my character’s says, “Life is not stagnant. It’s always moving, changing, evolving. You can either ride the tide or get pummeled trying to stop the waves.”

I am reminding myself of this right now because I’m in the midst of some big life changes—moving a thousand miles away from family, community, friends… going from a cul de sac to a mountainside… starting over.

Change is both scary and exciting. And it’s definitely bittersweet. But there are some interesting things happening—and a part of my soul that has been quite placid and comfortable of late is tingling, waking up to the possibilities. Change incites emotion, adrenaline, adventure… all good fodder for writing.

Perhaps that’s why so many stories in literature, especially YA, are about change. It is something we can all relate to. Growing up happens, ready or not. Characters change their life philosophies, living situations, significant others, or personalities. That’s what makes it fun, nerve-wracking, interesting and yeah, bittersweet.

Some days I wonder ... Is it the “right” thing? Will I regret it? There’s no way to know. What I do know is that it’s useless to try and stop the tide. Plus, new views, both literal and figurative, are definitely inspiring!

In your favorite books, or the book you’re writing right now, what kinds of changes do the characters go through? Do they fight it or ride the tide? How does it turn out? What inspires them? What inspires you?

Thanks for reading and enjoy the photos…

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about us

Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.



on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
The Fault in Our Stars

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