Friday, March 26, 2010

Are you kidding me?

Well, I did it. I managed not to blog for one day.  I didn't get a whole lot done but I did do something. I managed to finish a critique and I figured out something new for my WiP. That's right something new. Before I signed off on Wednesday, I read an article about what agents and editors are looking for--what might catch their eye. Roni at Fiction Groupie posted what she found out at a recent conference.  It was interesting. 

Being that I've just started my revisions this type of information is helpful and it's forcing me to look at my WiP and find ways to make it different but I must keep in mind to stay true to the story I originally wanted to write. So the key is to find the balance between what it takes to get the novel noticed vs. what you believe in. Oh, how I love revisions. Sounds easy, right? Because anyone can do it.

This leads me to the second half of my post. Many non writers (I sometimes like to call spectators) think that writing a YA (any form) novel is easy.  I guess they think that since we are writing to a teenage audience that we stoop to a lower level in our writing abilities. I would like to share an odd experience I had at a bookstore. I may have embellished this alittle --I am a writer.

So I was looking in the YA paranormal romance section at a local bookstore drooling over what I should buy next and a lady strolls up next to me. She was about my age and dressed to the nines. I think she thought I worked there for a second but then realized that I was holding my son -- hello, obvious. The dialogue may not be exact but it went something like this.

"Are you looking for something for your daughter?" she asked.

"No," I continued to browse.  I don't like being interrupted when I'm in the zone.

"Oh, because I am.  I can't believe the books my daughter wants to read," She was a little to chatty for me.

I just stood there quietly.

"These books are written so poorly and contain such mindless entertainment," she waived her finger around.

So I picked up a book and threw it at her --this is the embellished part. To be quite honest when she made this statement, I felt like throwing a book at her but I was polite. I didn't want to give YA writers a bad name. So I asked her,"Have you read any of them?"

She sort of gave me a shocked look. "Well no, I don't like books in this genre."

"Well then, how do you know that they are mindless entertainment and are written poorly?"

She actually squinted a little, turned and left. I guess I embarrassed her, hehe. My son even giggled. I don't usually speak out and I don't think I was rude but seriously what kind of statement is that. It amazes me that people think this way.

So what would your reaction be if someone said this to you?

Has this ever happened to you?

Here is a question from the first half of my post--What do you concentrate on when writing your novel, what the editors want or what you want to write?

I received some more awards while I was away. You are too kind. There are way too many awards out there.  Thanks guys--I will have one heck of an award post next week.  I missed everyone yesterday and will be commenting like crazy today.  Have a great weekend!


  1. If it had been me in that store with my son, I would have said to her, "I don't think they're mindless entertainment, I think they're my bread and butter, I wrote these." pointed to a stack by the same author and walked away.

    I concentrate on writing MY story, not what the editors want. If at the end of the first draft I find I have a new edge I could incorporate to make a completely new twist I would. As long as it didn't interfere with the integrity of the original story.

  2. First half of the post: I write for myself, later I worry about what will make the book sell, however I also realize that the book I love has to sell not the one they want me to write. If you write something for an editor and they love it and want another one but you hated writing it then were would you be?

    I am so with you girl!!! How rude of that woman to assume, that's the problem with some adults these days, all books are beautifully written not all of them may be our taste but they aren't mindless, in fact I find that YA might have even more details and "big" words because teenagers are a lot smarter than some adults realize... you rock!!! Way to stand up for all of us out there hard at work... and yourself!!!

    I have an award for you over on my blog!!! Check it out when you get a chance :)

  3. I always read what my kids read. We would recommend books to each other, then talk about them. It has been one of the great joys of my life to share my passion for books with my kids. I probably would have done the same thing for this woman, you know--since she started the conversation. I'd start picking up books and making recommendations and asking her what books she read and then say, Oh, then you would like this, and go on and on until she would run from the store screaming.

  4. I think I would have pointed her to Sarah Dessen, then Laurie Halse Anderson and then Jay Asher. And if she refused to read them, or even consider that these are powerful books that teenagers need then I would smack her in the face. Ok I so wouldn't, but I would want to :) I hate it when people say that!

    And as for your first question I write what I want to write. I'm not as far along as you and you know I'm not even close to looking to be published yet. But I don't think I would be writing if I didn't write what I wanted to, a story I needed to tell. Maybe I'm just naive but I really think it's those kind of books that affect people, even agents.

    And I have an award on my blog for you to add to your pile :)

  5. I'm a bit crass (read: very hateful and smug) to people I don't know who make me angry, so I would have done something b**chy I'm sure.

    I write to entertain me, with a hope it'll entertain others. If I can't laugh at my own characters and wonder what will happen next as much as a reader does (since I'm not friends with outlines), then I'm not writing well and fix it.

  6. Wow. I love your response to that snooty-patooty woman. Use her as a character in one of your stories. Way to stand up for the genre!

    I pay no attention to what the editor wants - I don't have one yet ;) I'm sure I'll have to figure out that balancing act one day.

  7. I think I would have flown off the hook. That would have made me really angry. You handled it well and maybe she'll think twice next time.

  8. Haha! I like Piedmont's response!! Awesome! I'm pretty non-confrontational, but if I was in the right mood, I probably would have said something very similar to you.

    I still write to entertain myself, though I do try to write to a publishable standard, as far as plot holes and resonance and rising/falling action and all that jazz. My ideas never seem to fall in the current trends.

  9. Arg...this reminds me of the last woman who talked to me in Barnes and Noble. Not one interesting word came out of her mouth and yet, even though I only grunted after her opener, she kept right on talking to me. I'm like you, though. I don't like to be rude -- and I probably wouldn't have put Mrs. YA Is Dumb in her place, either.

    To your second question, I'm writing my first novel keeping in mind what I believe publishers and readers would be interested in. I may never sell this book -- 'cause I'm a newbie groping blindly through the process -- but I am serious about obtaining representation one day and all my efforts are in learning the craft. That said, my love for writing is still my first motivator!

  10. OMG! I can't believe that lady. I guess what some people don't understand is that YA is just a genre, like every other, and writing is writing. The only differnce between Adult and YA is the characters age. Gosh! Get a clue lady, HELLO! ; )

    You go girl!!! :)

  11. Argh, I just wrote a comment and then it disappeared into the ethernet. I can't believe that woman!

  12. I would probably have said, "Well, first of all, I'm picking out something for myself because I really enjoy these. I know what you mean, though. At first glance it seems that they *are* mindless, and it's true that some of them aren't written well. But many of them *are* written well, and if you read some by [insert favorite author's name here] you would realize that they are actually reaching young people on a level they can relate to and that the stories are pretty deep. I mean, let's face it, there's an awful lot of fluff out there for grown-ups, too. And, with all the pressures on young people to get perfect grades and be popular and do all these extra-curricular activities, they need down time as much as we do."

    I find it always helps to agree with someone before you disagree with them.

    As for how I write... it's a combination of both. I feel torn between what I want to do, and wanting to actually be able to SELL it. So I tend to walk an agonizing tightrope. But in the end of the day it comes down to writing what is true to my artistic vision and just hoping others find it as appealing as I do.

  13. Yay! Kudos to you for letting her have it. That's never happened to me before, and as I am rather a coward, I'm not sure if I'd been able to "stand up" to them, but I'd sure be fuming inside.

    What do you concentrate on when writing your novel, what the editors want or what you want to write?

    A combination of both. I don't actively write for trends; everything I write, I personally love and want to write. Trends and what editors want, however, do influence what project I am more inclined to work on.

  14. I think you showed remarkable restraint and class in your response to a mindless twit. Go!You!

  15. HA! I love it! You go. I honestly have no idea what I would have said to that lady- I'm more of turtle and back away from conflict, so I dunno.

    As for the other question- I'm trying to concentrate on both, but not sure if I'm succeeding!

  16. I probably would have handled the situation close to the way you did.

    I write the story the way I want - stay true to my voice and my characters.

  17. Yikes, what a snobby woman. I think you handled that great. Go you! :) In some ways, I think YA is even more difficult than adult literature, because you're writing for an audience unlike yourself (assuming you're not a teen yourself), so I agree with you.

  18. Ha! I love your answer to that woman! I hate it when some people try to make themselves feel superior by putting down something they know nothing about.

  19. Great comeback! I would have kicked her in the shin. Well, that’s what I would have wanted to do. :D

    You definitely stood up for YA writers and readers in a cool, calm and collected manner. Way to go!

  20. wow. what a conversation. i really can't stand rude and inconsiderate people. but i think you dealt with it with class and dignity! go you!! :D i hope i would've done the same in your situation.

    great post. YA WRITERS UNITE!!!


  21. I think you handled that situation very well - I hope I could do as well in your place. I first and foremost write what I want to write, but I absolutely take into consideration what editors are looking for. I leaned that lesson the hard way with my last book. I didn't start looking at agents until it was complete, and then I found out just how few agents actually handle that genre.

  22. Good for you. I think I would have had to say something too. Idiotic. Seriously.

  23. Good for you for speaking up! I brought one of the Percy Jackson books to the gym with me, and one of my husband's co-workers happened to be there. She asked what I was reading, but got this weird look on her face when she saw it. "I've never heard of that series," she said. I told her that they're really good, and that the movie was coming out, so I wanted to read the books first.

    Still a blank look, so I said I always read the books before handing them over to the kids. Her eyes lit up. "Oh, what a good mom you are for doing that" was the reply.

    Um, yeah. Because it's such a chore and I couldn't possibly enjoy them on my own. *eye roll* The real kicker, though, was that she's a retired teacher! You'd think she'd get it!

  24. Wow, well I would have said - well that's what I write. I think you handled it very well - luckily this has not happened to me yet ;o)

    Oh revisions - Gah, I'm in that stage right now too. Let's see. It's a nice combination I think of both what I want and what editors may want. At this stage - it's all what I want (and Beta's) but if an editor wanted me to take a second look at something - I'd be happy to ;O)

    have a great weekend!

  25. I focus on what I want to write. I'm the one who I have to answer to when it comes to the integrity and authenticity of the work. And I am a hard person to have to answer to. The editors' thoughts are important, of course, but I'm not at the point yet where I need to think about them. :o)

  26. I love that you stuck up for YA books and in such a smart, honest way! I'm guessing I would have been caught of guard and just ignored her or something.

    Looking at all those delicious titles is such a fun, wonderful feeling.