Hey, everyone! Recently I wrote a post listing middle grade novels that I recommend. As I was writing this post, it occurred to me that I could also offer some good picks for younger YA readers. Young teens, around the thirteen/fourteen age, are often overlooked in the publishing world, but it is super important for them to have good books to read as they transition from middle grade to young adult literature.
For me, this transition was a really big deal. I wasn't ready for older teen books that had sexual content or that delved into darker issues, so I struggled at first. I'm really grateful for all the softer/younger books that helped me get into reading YA lit. Without them, I may have never had the chance to fall in love with the category!
With that in mind, I present to you my picks for transitioning young YA readers. Don't forget to also check out that middle grade post! I included a few book series there that transition from middle grade to YA as the story progresses, and they would also be good picks for this age group.
1) The Giver by Lois Lowry. People don't really seem to be sure whether this one is MG or YA, which makes it a good pick for this post. It does star an MG-aged character, but it also addresses many serious topics that may push it towards YA. As the series progresses, it quickly moves into definitive YA territory. Wherever you choose to categorize it, this sci-fi/fantasy series about a a broken, multi-dystopian future is both thought-provoking and beautiful. I've loved it for years and years, and I absolutely recommend it for young teens.
2) Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz. As a young teen, I was a big fan of Anthony Horowitz's work. I first discovered him through the Alex Rider series, a YA thriller about a fourteen-year-old boy who becomes a spy for the UK after his uncle's suspicious death. It's an intelligent and fascinating series--I even wrote a post here about similar books that fans might like. I also loved Horowitz for The Gatekeepers, a YA fantasy series about five gifted teens who have to take on a horde of ancient, eldritch monsters to save the world. Though these books have some intense and violent parts, they're well-suited to a young YA audience.
Coming in on the heels of last week's more in-depth update, today I'm sharing another Taking Stock of My Life update, where I answer a variety of -ing questions!
Eating: a bit of chocolate!
Drinking: my usual water
Wearing: a navy "Current Mood [Low Battery]" t-shirt and
Smelling: not a whole lot, since I have a cold
Reading: Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace
Writing: blog posts and diary entries
Editing: #OCDStory, at page 79
Listening: to some of Taylor Swift's latest work
Earworming: "Kill This Love" by Blackpink
Watching: a Star Trek movie that's overdue at the library 😬
Bookmarking: nothing new recently
Playing: the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets video game with my brother
Wanting: to not have a cold anymore
Wishing: for a better world
Today, I have a few updates to share, so I'm going to devote a post to them!
First, an update to My Writing Career So Far. When I wrote that post, I was planning to stop writing #SnowQueenStory, as I didn't feel like I was in the right frame of mind for the story, and start editing #ProphecyStory instead--once I finished the latest edit of #OCDStory. I had a lot of edit ideas for #ProphecyStory that had been building up over the years, and they were haunting me every time I tried to read an epic fantasy novel.
I'm still plodding along in my #OCDStory edit. I'm doing a close line edit, because the prose at the beginning is better than the prose in the rest of the book. It's actually pretty normal to be slow on this kind of edit, which makes me feel less frustrated, LOL! There are a few other things I'm adjusting to. So It'll be a while yet, but I am making progress towards being able to hand the story over to my next beta reader.
However, I realized this week that #ProphecyStory won't ever be what the market needs, no matter how many edits I pile onto it. Like all my past work, though it has plenty of heart, it's too tropey and unoriginal. The premise also relies on big-level conflict that I'm not really suited to--I'm trying nowadays to follow the advice of this Tumblr post because it's really good advice that I haven't been able to get out of my head.
So I'm left now with just #OCDStory, the first part of #SnowQueenStory, and a hoard of ideas.
As I promised in my post about books I like that came from outside my comfort zone, today's post is going to list my recommendations for middle grade novels! For those who don't know, middle grade is the age category that comes before young adult. MG stories are for preteen kids, mostly between the ages of 9 and 12.
I don't read as much middle grade as I do YA, but I do have some favorites from when I was that age. In fact, my most favorite series (Harry Potter, a classic) starts out middle grade! I also continue to read new MG books that catch my eye today.
Here are the ones I like the best! (Skipping Harry Potter, because that's obvious.)
1) The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. The Chronicles of Narnia is a classic MG fantasy series that, like Harry Potter, transitions into YA towards the end. It presents a Christian allegory full of meaning and magic. The Magician's Nephew is the first in the series (though C.S. Lewis wrote it sixth out of the seven books), and it's terribly underrated in my opinion. Kick off your reading of the series here, and explore the incredible world of Narnia!
2) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. If you're a fan of language and/or philosophy in search of a fun and clever read, this MG fantasy novel might satisfy your craving! It follows a grumpy boy into a wild land full of puns and metaphors, where he goes on a quest to save a magical kingdom. My second grade teacher read it to my class, and I enjoy it as much now as I did then.
It's been a while since I've done this, so I thought I'd give it another whirl. Today, I'm going to share the last ten photos I took!
In all honesty, I don't take very many pictures nowadays because I mostly just spend time on the computer and read--and I'm not very good at setting up cool #bookstagram photos. When I do take a picture, I usually post it on Instagram, so these will be drawn from that feed as well as from theKira B. Edits editing tips that I post sometimes on Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr. (I always add a pic of Spartacus to those. â¤) Check them out!
Finally, today we have our humor roundup for Fall 2019, where I share the twenty-five funniest images and one funny video I saw across the last three months! Be aware that there are Marvel spoilers ahead.
It's time for me to share all the coolest stuff I saw on the internet this last quarter!
First of all, I wanted to share this fantastic language-related video where bilingual people take on Google Translate:
In the writing world, this Tumblr post gives some great advice for white people drawing/writing characters of color. This Tumblr post looks at fictional animal design, while this one looks at the causes of war. This one offers an interesting cheat sheet for how plot, character, and setting interact.
That's right. It's time for my top to-reads! ✨Today I'm sharing the novels I'm most excited about that are releasing in the fall quarter, in October through December of 2019. There are twenty books in this post, in a mix of YA and MG. Check out my picks and then add them to your to-read list! (Incidentally, my to-read list just surpassed two thousand books, so things are going well, LOL.)
1) Cursed by Frank Miller and Thomas Wheeler. As you might remember, I discussed the pre-sales cover change for this YA fantasy novel in a recent post. The book retells Arthurian legend with Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, fighting alongside Arthur and a group of refugee Fey Folk. I've always been most interested in the Lady of the Lake when it comes to King Arthur's story, so of course I'd jump at this illustrated tale! It releases on October 1st. .
I really enjoy going through my old journals when I write posts like this one, and so today I thought it would be fun for me to look specifically at the history of my writing "career" so far. Calling it a career is a bit strong, given that I've yet to be published and earn money from my books, but I've put in a lot of work--and I certainly intend to make it a career. Everybody has to start somewhere, and I'm still in the beginning phases of my career right now.
I've talked before about the very beginning here, where I discuss how my love for words and stories led me to do a writing project in the first grade where I discovered my passion. From then on, I was a writer. I began with journals (which were rather inconsistent until the fifth/sixth grades), short stories, and poetry. Some of this work was published, and you can see my credits in my achievement list posts. However, as time passed, I was drawn towards something bigger. I am and always have been a voracious reader, and even from the beginning, I wanted to write real, full-length books like the ones I loved. I wanted to see my writing on the library shelves.
I did a post like this back at the very beginning of this blog, but today, inspired by Top Ten Tuesday, I'm going to list some more books that were outside my comfort zone, that I didn't expect to like, but that I now recommend. A lot of them will probably feature these book turn-offs. Check them out!
1) Munmun by Jesse Andrews. The premise for this YA dystopian novel sounds pretty ridiculous and more like something from a children's book than YA, but upon reading it, I discovered it to be a brilliant and harsh allegory for class in our society. It's worthy of Jonathan Gulliver, who has an epigraph at the beginning. It definitely affected my perspective on poverty and wealth. The book tells the story of an impoverished teen boy living in a U.S. where your physical size is proportional to your wealth.
2) Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Unlike the majority of YA readers, I didn't like Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Strange the Dreamer is a YA fantasy that takes place in the same universe (multiverse?), so I held off for a while, but once I read it, I fell head over heels. I plan to reread Daughter of Smoke and Bone just because of how much I loved this duology! It follows a young librarian on an adventure he's always dreamed of and a half-goddess in hiding above a city full of traumatized humans who slaughtered the gods when she was just a baby.
3) Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King. A.S. King is another author I'd read before and not really liked--in this case, I'd read multiple books by her, and their incredible strangeness was what held me off. With this YA magical realism novel, though, I felt that the oddity only strengthened the narrative. It follows a depressed teen girl with a very unhealthy family situation who keeps seeing different versions of herself all over the place. It's a powerful read.
It's time for a new "on this day in my history," where I paraphrase my diary entries from across the years on this day, September 7. It provides a bit of a glimpse into my life--and after all, this is what diaries are for. 😉 The last installment, for January 26, can be found here, Let's see what I've been up to on September 7! The first entry I have for this day is from 2007.
September 7, 2007, Thirteen Years Old
Before school, one of my friends had fun winding me up by talking about how attractive she found my crush's legs. (She liked to cause drama.) In social studies, we did some busy work with posters, and we got a new seating chart. A guy who kept getting in trouble for talking was put next to me, which I didn't think was the smartest idea, since the two of us got along well. (It wasn't going to get him to stop talking.) In my forever-terrible GATE class, I couldn't participate in a caffeine-related experiment because of my religious beliefs. The teacher then pressured me to perform a song I was writing, which made me want to stop writing the song entirely. I worried some about seating in orchestra and which of us was the best cellist. I actually enjoyed Ultimate Frisbee in P.E. We talked about the metric system in science class, and the New Zealander exchange student made fun of us for being confused. I had a hard time with a math test..
Today, inspired by Top Ten Tuesday, I figured I'd talk about some of the traits I like best in characters--and also in real life people, haha. These traits probably won't come as a surprise; you can see them in these posts about my favorite male and female characters or in this more recent Tumblr list of favorites. These qualities do tend to differ a little based on gender--maybe because I pick female characters I want to be like and male characters I'd want to date? I'm not sure. But for this post, I'm going to be splitting things up as such. Enjoy!
Soft: One of the major features of the male characters I love best is that they are soft. I am not interested in any Alpha Male types. Not here, no sirree! I want sweethearts whom I feel safe being around. I want boys who respect other people, who are gentle, loyal, and trustworthy, who have self-control They are adorable and good. They can also be incredibly powerful, but they use that power with wisdom and compassion, letting their softness guide them. See: Vision from Marvel, Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games, Newt Scamander from the Wizarding World, Finn from Star Wars.
One of my pet peeves is an ableist microaggression that I've talked about before: offering unsolicited medical advice to chronically ill people, especially when you're not a medical professional. This is a problem for a few different reasons.
First, we chronically ill people have to be able to reach a place of acceptance. We have to face the fact that our lives have changed. We have to do our best to plan for a future where our illnesses continue to exist and may even worsen, as this is often the reality. We can't waste all our time and energy putting our lives on hold to search for a magical cure. (Unless we're also medical researchers.) When people are constantly throwing ideas at us for how to "fix" our chronic illnesses, it can be really hard to move on. I know that you're trying to offer us hope, to keep us from "giving up," but that's not how this works. That's not what we need. Acceptance is really the key.
Second, it assumes that we aren't already aware of the existing possibilities for treatments. It assumes that we don't know our own body, our own illnesses, that we don't have professionals we're working with on this, that if we just tried harder we could make this whole problem go away. And that's offensive and untrue. People with chronic illnesses tend to be quite familiar with the research, probably much more than you are. And the solutions you offer us? They're usually either things we've already tried or things that we're pretty darn sure are quackery. So give it a rest, all right?
Hey friends! Today, inspired by a Top Ten Tuesday prompt, I'm going to share my thoughts on some recent cover redesigns for YA books.
Publishers do redesigns, usually partway through a series, when they feel that the current design doesn't properly engage the market they want. This is often the bane of readers' existences, because you can end up buying different cover styles for books in the same series--and that's not as pretty-looking! (But remember, in traditional publishing, authors don't have a lot of say about the cover, so don't rag on them about it.)
I've found that, most of the time, I don't actually like cover redesigns as much as the originals. But we'll see what turns up today!
The Girl of Fire and Thorns
From following bookish people on Twitter (like the ones I recommended last week), I've learned a lot about the interactions authors have with other people. I've learned what some of the etiquette rules are for those interactions. So today I thought I'd share some of those rules, looking at reader to author, author to reader, agent to author, and author to agent dos and don'ts. This will give you an idea of what to expect from yourself and others!
Reader to Author
Hey friends! It's been a good long while since I shared my recommendations for who to follow on social media. Way back when this blog was just beginning, I thought that the best way to do that was to list everyone I was following. But you know what? All anyone would have to do if they wanted to see that is look at who I'm following on my profiles. (And you can do that if you'd like to!)
So instead, I'm going to share a handful of recommendations from each social media platform I'm on: the people I most enjoy following and why. This was hard to narrow down on some platforms, so if I follow you and I didn't list you here, please feel free to promote yourself in the comments! I have a lot of people I'm friendly with online--after all, social media is most of my chronically ill social life. For now, check these people out!
Recently, I decided for the sake of time to cut my Facebook use way back. These days, other social media platforms are more popular, interesting, and helpful. So on Facebook right now, I pretty much just follow people I know IRL and local news. I do have one recommendation from the platform, though:
Whatever social media platform you're on, I recommend following SparkNotes (they're pretty much on every platform) for hilarious and clever content about classic English literature. This famous purveyor of literature study guides does a fantastic job at making social media fun!
Hey-o! Today I'm sharing with you a truly terrible comic that I made, depicting a metaphor that I often use for my fibromyalgia et al. (Hint: chronic pain is basically just a lot of noise.) Check it out, share it if you'd like, and I'll be back next week with my favorite people to follow on social media.
As my longtime readers know, I've aspired towards becoming a published novelist since I was young. I started trying to write my first novel when was nine, and I sent my first query letters when I was twelve. I had a goal to get traditionally published before middle school started... then before high school, then before college, then before my graduation from college. I was (and continue to be!) a huge supporter of teen writer initiatives. But none of these things turned out for me, and here I am, twenty-five years old, nineteen novels written, 117 query letters sent, and still unpublished.
My younger self would be horrified, and a small part of me is disappointed. However, there are reasons why I'm actually glad I haven't been published yet. It's not because I was too young--I stand by my support of teen authors, All authors have to start somewhere, and some are ready for publication sooner in their writing career (and in their lives) than others are. But I, as a writer and a person, was not ready for publication before. I don't know if I'm ready now, or when I will be, but there were at least three reasons why it wouldn't have worked in the past. I'm sharing them here to help other writers who might be facing the same issues and setbacks.
It has now been a lucky seven years since I started this blog! And those seven years have been quite a ride. Per the usual, I'm celebrating by rounding up my best posts this year for you to go back and review. Thanks for all your support, and let me know if there's anything new you'd like to hear about! I'll be back next week with a post about why it's good that I haven't been published yet.
About My Life
Adventures in Family History 8/18/18
What's In My Memory Box 8/25/18
Changing My Future Path 10/20/18
Librarians Are Boss: What I Learned in Grad School 1/12/19
My Most and Least Favorite Classes 1/19/19
25 Lessons From 25 Years 4/3/19 *Author's Favorite of the Year*
On Living With Roommates 4/20/19
Hey everyone! Are you ready for our humor roundup? Here are the twenty-five funniest posts I've come across in the last three months, plus one video. Please enjoy!
*Avengers: Endgame spoilers ahoy*
Why I Hate James Pat...
Hitler and Mother Ter...
The Lesser Evil: Femi...
Guest Post: 5 Fandom...
PTSD and the Hunger...
Successful People W...