Write Stuff–The ‘Adult’ in Young Adult–July 16th

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Honey Boo Boo via Flickr Creative Commons by lwpkommunikacio

The Young Adult genre has seen a meteoric rise in popularity due to Harry Potter, Twilight, Percy Jackson and so many other great reads geared toward young adults.

Or are they really? It seems that young adult is getting a little bit too adult for its intended audience. After all, creative professionals all over seek to bridge age boundaries by creating medium that will appeal to everyone in the family. Even Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon have accomplished this to gain a large following and it’s not only for kids.

Yet, the status of what makes a young adult an adult has changed over the years. From the adage of ‘Children are to be seen and not heard’ to ‘ Kids will be kids’, it seems as if the age of maturity changes with the times. From the more controversial child brides to the exploits of Honey Boo Boo, one has to wonder, “What exactly is Young Adult?” After all, it wasn’t so long ago that young woman was considered on the shelf at age 18 and an old maid at 22.

Join us today at 7:00 pm Eastern time as we discuss some of the issues regarding the adult in young adult with our guest and co-host Mary E. Twomey, a YA indie fantasy writer with eight books to her name. You can join by clicking here at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wluvradio. To call in to the show, dial 646-595-2083.

Do you think that YA is getting to adult?

I love to hear from you. Leave a comment and at the end of the month, I will randomly pick a name and if you are an author or provide author services, you will have an opportunity to get a ten minute spot to showcase your work on my radio show The Write Stuff that airs Tuesdays. Follow the link here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wluvradio

If you an author or author service provider looking to showcase your work or service, you can email me at writestuffradio@gmail.com for availability on the show.

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The Author’s Friend — Criticism

Handling it Well

My mature reaction to criticism

I asked an established author to read my first book, Dark Cherub. It took her a while to read it but I had expected that. I had assured her that I could handle tough criticism and would use any negative feedback she gave me to better my writing career (oh the innocent lamb I was!) and would be most grateful for her input.

When I finally saw her email, I saw these ominous words: “First of all, you are a gifted writer, so remember that more than any of my other comments! I reread some of your old e-mails, and you said you didn’t mind tough criticism, so that reassures me! I have to be honest (I really grappled with what to write you), I found it hard to read your story.”

Note to self: never put lies in writing. They come back to haunt you.

The rest of the email began a gentle but strong critique of my novel which burned me.  I think I was depressed for two hours (days) or possibly a day (a week). Others had enjoyed my story so why couldn’t this wonderful, superlative, dynamic writer not enjoy my book?

No one likes to hear that the work they’ve spend sweat, blood, and tears over (although we use that adage, and we all know that if a drop of blood landed on the keyboard or paper, we’d all run to the hospital) doesn’t sound good. We want people to like what we’ve written. However, as she told me later on, reading is subjective. What one person likes another doesn’t. There has been more than one book I’ve read where I thought it wasn’t worth the paper printed on. And others I wouldn’t let anyone borrow because I love the book much.

Yet, I learned from the criticism and it did help me in my writing and I will always be thankful to her that she took time out to read it.

Using criticism in our work helps us to improve our craft. If we always hear positive things, we would never know the areas we need to improve on. In keeping with this thought, here are some of my suggestions for dealing with someone who criticizes your work:

1. Everyone’s opinion is not always a fact. The very same day I received the email, I got another one from another person who thoroughly enjoyed what I had written.

2. Listen to what is being said. If the criticism is, “It’s stupid,” you can deduce the statement is not a helpful one and then retaliate with, “No, you’re stupid!” (hopefully your critique help is weaker than you or you can run faster than them). However, if someone says, “The flow of the story seemed jumpy to me,” then you can go back to your work and see how to smooth out and transition easily from one scene to the other.

3. Join or start a critique group with fellow authors. Many authors have found this to be an essential part of the writing process. You have a fellow comrade who can give you genuine feedback on how to improve your story. Perhaps your strength is in character development and your critique partner’s is in plot structure. You can use each other’s strengths to build upon.

Don’t feel too badly if you do receive negative feedback. Use it and transform it to positive.

The Chicken, the Skater, and the Research

image by <a href="http://www.freeimageslive.co.uk/free_stock_image/skateboard-chickenjpg" target="_blank"> freeimageslive.co.uk - chrisjo</a>

All I need is a ramp…

My granny and I were in the drive thru at Church’s chicken one weekend, waiting for our 15 piece mix. Obviously, the chickens were doing battle with the cooks because we’d been there for at least fifteen minutes and hadn’t moved at all. And there’s something about being in the drive thru for fast food where if you don’t have it in five minutes time slows down to a crawl.

As we waited, I happened to turn and see a young boy jump over the short brick wall that separated Church’s from the retail store parking lot and land back on his skateboard.  My heart caught in my throat and I said a prayer to God to please keep the boy close by.

Why I needed divine intervention:

There is a slim chance you will ever find me and a skateboard in the same place, much less find me riding on one.  I am at an age where a skateboard is a health hazard. Further, my body no longer bounces back when it falls…it simply breaks once it makes contact with cement.

However, in my upcoming new book, Many Strange Women, my male protagonist is a skater who knows all about tricks and techniques on the board and he’s pretty good at doing them too.  And how does he know about them? Because I researched what a skater does to get good at his craft.

First, I watched hour after hour of skating tricks on YouTube, flabbergasted at what these artists do with their bodies and a narrow deck, balanced on wheels. Flip tricks, grinds, variations of Ollies and so much more… and they don’t fall off! I can walk on a flat surface with rails on either side and still manage to stumble.

But for all the hours I spent online, watching and reading about this sport the most information I received was how to do the moves.

Back to the Church’s Chicken drive-thru: when I saw the boy perform an Ollie over the wall, my heart jumped in my mouth. I needed to interview him.  Ten minutes later, the battle was lost and I set a piping hot bag of chicken on my grandmother’s lap and sped off, turned the car on two wheels and drove into the adjacent parking lot.  I saw the boy walking away, his board under his arm,  and I burned rubber to reach him before he completely vanished.  Thankfully, when he turned around he didn’t run away. He looked to be about 14, long dirty blond locks, nasally deep voice, and a small splatter of freckles across the bridge of his nose that added to his appeal in the odd way of boys in the puberty stage to manhood.

I talked to him for a while  and he gave me some pointers (not sure if he thought I would actually use them for myself) about skating as well as why he liked to do what he did. I noticed he wore no protective gear, his board was nicked and worn looking, and how he was dressed. As a writer, I was able to take in all aspects of his person as well as his demeanor. Seeing that was worth more than the numerous hours of video I saw. He showed me tricks and explained the sport to me. My grandmother, kind woman she is, gave the boy a dollar for his help. As she tells me, “A dollar in the ’30’s could buy a ten pound bag of pork neck bones, a get a bus transfer, and half a bushel of apples with change to spare!”

There’s only so much research you can do online. After all, you’re safely in front of the computer. But research has to have a physical aspect to it.  Part of the research includes interviewing people who do or are performing the job, service, or task you want to explore in your writing. Sure, an online Google or Bing search can give you information on it but in order to bring depth to your characters or realism to a plot, a writer should do actual research. With the advancement of virtual experiences through all sorts of medium, I believe we’ve lost our natural curiosity to explore in the real sense when all we have to do is pull up a search engine and have the computer do all the work.

I really liked connecting with the boy, who name is Jay, and other skaters I’ve met in the course of writing the book. And maybe that’s the best part of research you take with you as write…meeting great people with aspects of themselves you can translate into your work.

Possibly the greatest form of flattery and thanks.

Helping Inspirational Writers Write

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It is a universal fact that anyone can write. You do not have to be trained in any regard to write anything.

Fortunately, for we readers out there, we want more than a person who can write. We want someone who can write well.

The Write Stuff is a radio show that will discuss issues that pertain to writers. A call-in show, each week we will have a topic we will discuss, provide techniques and resources for writers to hone their craft, writer news,  and listen to authors in all stages of the writing process as they share their experiences and stories.

There is another universal truth: writers need help. Anyone who helps writers knows this. From editors to marketers, we want to showcase your services as well.

Another aspect of our show is that we want to help new authors have a medium to discuss the work they have put their time and effort into. Whether an author is an award-winning maestro with publishers tearing down the door to hand them checks (a nice fantasy) to the new indie author who’s written their first book, we want to showcase you. Starting July 2nd at 7:00 pm Eastern Time.

Welcome to the Write Stuff radio show…helping inspirational writers write.