Tag Archive: writing advice

Diversity in YA

Photo by I.W. Gregorio

Photo by I.W. Gregorio

Today, I was honored to speak to some amazing teen writers and readers at the Little Flower Teen Writers Festival about the importance of diversity and how to approach writing from perspectives other than their own. I promised to post some links to read more about this topic, and I hope these are useful to anyone interested in reading and writing more diverse books, even without the context of my presentation.

Art by Tina Kugler/ tinakuglerstudio.com

Art by Tina Kugler/ tinakuglerstudio.com

Read More About It

Writing the Other: A Practical Approach by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward, Conversation Pieces vol. 8, Aqueduct Press, 2005


Diversity in YAhttp://diversityinya.tumblr.com/

Rich in Color: Reading and Reviewing Diverse YA Bookshttp://richincolor.com/

Articles & Data:

2013 Statistics, Cooperative Children’s BookCenter, University of Wisconsin  – http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp

Diversity in 2013 YA Best Sellers

Kid Lit’s Primary Color: White –

Diversity is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing –

Want More Diversity in Your YA? Here’s How You Can Help –

We Are Still Not Doing Enough for Diversity in Kidlit –

Where’s the African-American Harry Potter or the Mexican Katniss? –

We Need Bigger Megaphones for Diversity in Kid Lit –

Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased in Eighteen Years? –

Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is –

Why We Need Diversity in YA Fiction, Plus Book Recommendations

My Take on Diversity in Children’s Books While Growing Up:

now in more of your internet

pubcrawlI’m thrilled to be joining the wonderful folks at the Pub(lishing) Crawl blog, where I will be blogging once a month about topics of interest to readers and writers. They were kind enough to invite me to join their ranks this year, along with new members Janice Hardy and Adam Silvera. I have had the pleasure of hanging out with several of them in real life, and even more often on Twitter, so I think this is going to be a great experience.

Check out Susan Dennard’s flattering welcome in today’s blog post, and enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of my books in any of its available formats: hardcover, eBook, or audio book!

write what you don’t know

doctor-whoOne of the most common pieces of writing advice we often hear as beginners is “Write what you know.” But what does that even mean? And is it actually good advice?

If I had taken that suggestion literally, my first novel would have been about a man in his late twenties with a day job as a media coordinator at Lifetime Television who was writing a novel about the action-packed world of file transfers, video conversions, and women’s programming. Riveting. Perhaps readers would have been drawn in by the rich cast of characters based on my wacky co-workers, friends, and family–who I’m sure would have been flattered to be included. You see the problem. Worse still, my second novel would have been exactly the same, and my third…

I read fiction for experiences completely different from my own, to see with other people’s eyes, so why should writing fiction be any different? I love science fiction and fantasy because in the right hands, an author can make the impossible seem real.

[Read the rest of this post at The League of Extraordinary Writers]

so you want to be a writer

Every month, members of teamTEENauthor write a blog post for teens on a specific topic. November’s topic is So You Want to Be a Writer. For links to more posts on this topic, scroll to the bottom.

From "Whisper of the Heart," Studio Ghibli

I hear it all the time when I meet teens at events or tell people that I write: “I’m trying to be a writer.” There are some variations: “I’m an aspiring writer.” “I want to write.” And so on. I used to say these things too, so I know where they’re coming from; until you’ve sold a story, you hardly feel qualified to consider yourself a “real” writer–maybe not even until you’ve sold two stories, in case the first one was a fluke. Before I went to the Clarion West Writers Workshop, thereby receiving some form of validation of my ability, I thought of myself as a wannabe. I was embarrassed to tell published writers that I wrote, as if it was insulting to put my feeble efforts on the same level as their work, work I admired. After all, at the readings I attended in New York City, chances were most of the other people in the room were also trying to get published.

But it turns out that all of those fears of being seen as a poseur, or of other writers looking at my humble goals with contempt, were unfounded. (At least, I think they were.) The writing community is very welcoming and supportive of new writers. We all had to start somewhere. And it’s actually very easy to become a writer, if you really want it. I’m going to tell you how. Just follow these simple steps:

1. Write.

There, you’re done! Congratulations, you are a writer.

It might seem like I’m being facetious, but I’m totally sincere. All you have to do to become a writer is write. Talking about writing, thinking about writing, promising yourself that one day you’re going to write something will not make it happen for you. Sitting down with a laptop, a notebook, or a typewriter if you’re into that and putting words on the page is all it takes to call yourself a writer. Forget about the “aspiring” part–you’re doing it. Yoda was right: “Do or do not, there is no try.” Don’t try to write, just write.

I get it: If you don’t try, it means you won’t fail, but it also means that no one will ever read your work and you won’t ever improve your skills. Stop making excuses and write, whether it’s a 500-word vignette, a short story, a sketch for a novel, a ten-volume epic fantasy, or a blog post. It all counts as writing. Savvy?

What most people probably mean when they say they want to write is that they want to be published, maybe they even want to be paid for their writing. You might even want to quit that day job and commit yourself solely to your art. But underlying all those desires is a much more basic goal, for me anyway: I want to be read. Some people say that they have to write, that they couldn’t stop if they tried, but I actually do have other things I could be doing with my time. I have shelves full of books, video games, and DVDs doing their best to distract me. However, I do feel driven to write, to tell stories, but only because I want to share them with other people. Because I want to entertain, make people think, leave some mark on the world, and have an impact on young readers the way books did for me as a kid. And yeah, this is probably the only thing I’m really good at, where I can say something that no one else can. So that’s something.

There are some other steps involved to being a writer, or if you’re being picky, to being an “author”:

1. Write.
2. Profit.

Sorry, little joke there. Here’s the real list of the top ten things you should do to become a writer:

1. Write.
2. Write some more.
3. No, really. Write a lot.
4. Done writing? Revise.
5. Revise some more.
6. Submit your work.
7. Learn to take criticism and rejection.
8. Submit your work.
9. Keep writing.
10. Be persistent.

Here’s the secret… Pay attention, I’m giving you the secret of writing! Even published writers, “authors” if you will,  are trying to get published. Weird, right? I have two novels out, but I’m revising a new book that is totally different from the duology, and I have no idea if it will sell. So when you get down to it, I’m still an aspiring writer hoping that people will be able to read my work one day.

Just like you.

Read more writing advice from teamTEENauthor participants:

Julie Cross

Pip Harry

Janci Patterson

Mindee Arnett

Suzanne Lazear

Elizabeth Amisu

Erica O’Rourke