Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Attraction We Can't Deny

I'm taking a page out of Julie's book and participating in YA Tuesday.

I attended a YA writing conference this past weekend (more on that Thursday), and in one of the workshops, a woman said that she found herself drawn to the YA section of the bookstore. She admitted to loving YA, but said that she often pretended like she was shopping for a niece or nephew rather than buying books for herself. A lot of us in the workshop turned to her and smiled, saying things like, "Be proud to read YA!" and "Own it!" Her confession sparked a discussion on why we, as adults, are drawn to read and write YA.

Here's what I think. I think YA offers things that adult literature can't. A lot of children's books refer to a magic possessed only by children, a sense of innocence and faith that are lost when we make the transition into adulthood. It's easy to see this when looking at fiction. Adult fiction (unless you're reading sci-fi or fantasy) is often painfully real. A lot of adult fiction deals with harsh aspects of life, things like divorce and death and pain and loss. I don't know about you, but when I read, I want it to be magical. I want it to take me out of my life (which is often stressful) and show me something I couldn't find around me. I don't want to read about those harsh realities. I want magic and adventure and beauty.

YA offers all those things through the lens of teenagers. Teenagers are strange creatures. They experience things on a more intense scale than adults. Everything is a big deal, because all their emotions are new and raw and (often) frightening. YA is about beginnings, and firsts, and self-discovery, and learning important lessons in the most honest (and sometimes brutal) ways possible. YA is freedom, the freedom to be and do and say anything you want, the freedom to try without caring what people will think, the freedom to explore new possibilities and dream of the impossible.

It is for these reasons that I'm drawn to YA. And it is these reasons that compel me to not only read it, but write it as well. What are yours?


PS For your listening pleasure, check out this video. Not only is the song beautiful (and I know the original has been circulating for a while now), but the level of talent demonstrated in this video is insane!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-changes! And also...John Green

There are going to be some changes happening around this blog. The biggest one is that as of today, I'll only be posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I took this last week off from blogging because I discovered something alarming: I cared more about my blog about writing than I did about the writing itself. I wasn't taking the time to work on my novel because all of my free time was spent being a good blogger (posting, commenting, etc), and that worried me. So...Tuesdays and Thursdays only now. And the subject matter is going to gravitate back to writing and reading YA (although I may occasionally throw in a post on life in general every once in a while).

In other news...I met John Green last night! It was a pretty surreal experience, considering he's only existed in vlog format up until now. I tried to take some pictures to document it, but he couldn't pose for pictures during the signing (there were between 700 and 800 people there, so he was far too busy to stop signing), and all my pictures of the show ended up being really washed out because of the stage lighting. But believe me when I say that it was EPIC.

There were puppets, and costumes, and bright blue shoes, and songs about quarks and Harry Potter, and a shocking device, and so much hilarity. One of my favorite moments of the evening happened before the event even started. We were all standing outside, and Hank came out to say hello (John's brother, for those of you who don't know). The entire crowd went dead quiet, and then one girl screamed, "Oh my gosh, it's Hank!" And then mass amounts of screaming erupted and he ran back inside. It was awesome. :)

I met a lot of really cool Nerdfighters there, most of whom didn't believe me when I told them I was 24 and had a husband (even John Green thought I was only 16, and told me he would be a terrible bouncer at a club, because I definitely didn't look 24. Cue beet-red-blushing-with-lots-of-thanks.) I was in signing group I, which would have meant waiting through 500 people, but this nice 14-year-old boy with an extra ticket for group E gave it to me, which made my night. I hugged him. :) And there was a girl, R, who was REALLY outgoing and chatted my ear off in the signing line (which was kind of overwhelming for an introvert like me), but by the time I got my books signed, I was enjoying talking to her. Progress!

I am now the proud owner of a signed and Hanklerfished copy of The Fault in Our Stars (I'll try to get a picture of my Hanklerfish up here at some point...it's adorable), as well as signed copies of An Abundance of Katherines and Hank's super-secret-tour-album-of-awesome. The man is a brilliant song writer. I couldn't help myself.

If any of you ever get the chance to see John and Hank in person, I HIGHLY recommend it. And if you got to see them on this tour, I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment, or a link in the comments if you wrote your own post. :D


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Holy John Green, Batman!

Before I launch into the meat of this post, I have some news. The contest I launched on the 6th didn't have as many entries as I would have liked (although that's largely my fault, since I didn't publicize it very well this time around). There were two complete entries (Brooke and Silent Pages), one partial entry (Andrew), and one I'm-going-to-enter-but-forgot (Michael). So...here's how it's going to work. Brooke and Silent Pages will each get a 5-page critique from me and an interview on the blog (if you could both e-mail me at jadencoal (at) gmail (dot) com, we can get the details worked out). Since the interview is the easier of the two options for my schedule, Andrew will also get one for his partial entry (e-mail me as well, and we'll get it set up). Unfortunately, I've got nothing for Michael but my undying gratitude for his spectacular commenting skills. :P

Also, because Blogger (finally) got threaded comments, I'm going back to them. I got rid of Intense Debate, so your comments won't show up on the posts, but I do still have access to all of them. Unfortunately, because of formatting, there is no comment button on old posts that had Intense Debate, so if you have something to say about one of those posts, you'll have to e-mail me.

Moving right along...this weekend was for books. I read three and a half novels in three days, which, given my recent schedule, is INSANE. I guess after having pretty much no time to read, my brain said "BINGE!" and I devoured a bunch of stuff.

I read Tom Leveen's debut, Party, which was surprisingly good. He's a local author, and I attended a dialogue workshop he taught on Saturday. It was, in a word, amazing. He's hilarious and passionate and informative, and I took away so many good tips and tricks from his class. I also left with a couple of book recommendations, which is never a bad thing. :) Naturally, when I finished the workshop, I had to go out and purchase his book, and it was every bit as funny and passionate as he was. It's about a party, and it's told from 11 points of view that overlap in such a way that you wouldn't be able to get the same story if one perspective was missing. It was wonderful. :D

I also read A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, which was beautiful and creepy and heart-wrenching in a mere 200 pages. I won't tell you much about it, because I want you to experience it for yourself. I will tell you to go out and buy it (the hardcover, not the e-book...you need the art). Then read it, sometime when you're alone and can really appreciate the beauty of it. Then come back and tell me about it. :)

But the real gem of this weekend was this little beauty:

It was, without a doubt, one of the best books I've read in a long time. It made me laugh, and then cry, and then laugh again. We all know that's the mark of a really great story. I'm not even kidding when I say I was crying for 35 pages, and then turned a page and laughed hysterically through my tears. My husband thought I was losing my mind. :P I adore John Green, but none of his books really hit me in the heartstrings until this one. I love Augustus and Hazel, and I feel privileged to have spent the time with them that I did.

Oh, and did I mention that John Green, the legend of the contemporary YA genre, the leader of the Nerdfighters, is going to be in Phoenix next week? You all know where I'll be. :)

What did you read over the weekend?