Tuesday, May 29, 2018

YOU REALLY ARE A PRINCESS


  • OR the magical distinction between YA and adult literature
  • OR why Mia Thermopolis is not the same as Lee Fiora
The evolution of the YA bookshelf is a frequent topic amongst publishing professionals. We point to Maureen Daly’s 1942 novel SEVENTEENTH SUMMER, the National Library Association’s coining of the phrase “young adult” in the 1960s, and the 1970s heyday of Judy Blume and Robert Cormier . We marvel at Harry Potter and Twilight, and we look uncertainly into the mid-twenty-first century, as “chick lit” and “new adult” came and went faster than the kale fad. Now, we ask ourselves, what’s next for YA – and what is (was) it anyway?

What, for example, makes Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP or SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS by Marisha Pessle adult books, while prep school turns by E. Lockhart (THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS) or Daisy Whitney (THE MOCKINGBIRDS) are intuitively placed on the young adult shelf?

It’s an oft-posed question about the genre: Why isn’t every novel with a high school-aged protagonist a work of young adult literature?  The theme of most replies to this question is that YOUNG ADULT novels feature not only teen protagonists but cathartic – dare I say hopeful – endings. That, in the end, the protagonist emerges not merely more or less triumphant over mortality or evil or agnostic despair but, also with a sense that things will take a turn for the better. So, in simple sum: optimism equals young adult. Can that be? I think there’s more.

In terms of narrative structure, Martel’s and Sittenfeld’s protagonists tell their tales looking back ruefully, with sober comprehension that they are not, in fact any better now than they were when their stories unfolded and that the world is a place that demands less-than. In adult fiction, if you’re a princess you’re Diana, not Meghan Markle.
Sometimes it takes more courage not to let yourself see. Sometimes knowledge is damaging - not enlightenment but enleadenment.  Blue van Meer, SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS by Marisha Pessl
In the end, there was always your regular life, and no one could deal with it but you. Lee Fiora, PREP by Curtis Sittendfeld

Meanwhile, Cabot’s and Whitney’s teen protagonists reach their stories’ ends “un-enleadened.”
Yes, I am a freak. But you know what? Someday, I just might grow out of that. But you, you will never stop being a jerk. -- Mia Thermopolis, THE PRINCESS DIARIES MOVIE based on the novel by Meg Cabot
It is not mere optimism that Mia reveals, but a greater sense of evolutionary identity – the possibility of transcendence, of transformation. Despite their youth, the teen protagonists of adult novels emerge from their travails “sadder but wiser” as the cliché goes. Meanwhile, Daisy Whitney’s Alex – not unlike J. K. Rowling’s wizard hero Harry Potter – takes on a leadership role in the group that initially saved her life and becomes, on a bigger-than-self scale, a fighter against evil. And Cabot’s Mia Thermopolis finds out both that she really is royalty and that she can be noble on her own terms.

And so, perhaps, it is not the age of the protagonist that defines a novel’s genre so much as the sense that who we are is not all that we can or will be. That, perhaps, the world can be saved. And that hope is not lost EXPRESSLY BECAUSE of our own innate potential. Or, to quote a red-head:
Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve. -  Ginny Weasley, HARRY POTTER series by J.K. Rowling


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

FREE CLASS THIS SATURDAY AT KCLS WOODINVILLE: PITCH, PITCH, QUERY



Saturday, May 12, 2018
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Second Saturdays Writing Program at Woodinville Library 
17105 Avondale Road NE, Woodinville 

Join me for an interactive workshop on writing a 250-word book pitch. We'll discuss how this exercise can help you identify plot and character questions, guide early revisions, and draft an irresistible query letter (er, email) to send to agents. This class is designed to benefit both beginning writers and people ready to submit their work.

The workshop is free and registration is not required. 
For more details, click here


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Words & Taxes


April is so many things.


National Poetry Month,
middle spring,
tax time...

Somehow the confluence of rhythmic prose, daffodils, and mathematical percentages always leads me to reconsider the path of the fiction writer.

Do you have a particular time of year when you wonder what and what-if and whether you should keep on logging word after word in hopes of creating a story worthy of sharing with the world?

January, maybe? Are you a New Year's Resolution-maker?

Or perhaps each November you delve into the dizzying challenges of NaNoWriMo.

I believe that taking an honest look at your writing life is a worthy practice. Not for every day, but occasionally, at that certain season. And I hope that you find the desire to keep going still burns like the sting of writing that tax check or digging your hands into newly-thawed soil


I do.






Monday, April 9, 2018

FREE CLASS THIS SATURDAY AT KCLS WOODINVILLE: THE BOOK BUSINESS with Rory Shay


Saturday, April 14, 2018
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Second Saturdays Writing Program at Woodinville Library 

17105 Avondale Road NE, Woodinville 


Join management consultant and science fiction writer RORI SHAY for a lively discussion of how to understand your manuscript’s place in the market, and identify its genre and readership. Give your work an honest analysis and use this information to research best agents, and create a submission plan. Come ready to write, discuss and plan.


This workshop is free and registration is not required. 

For more details, click here



Sunday, February 4, 2018

FREE CLASS THIS SATURDAY AT KCLS WOODINVILLE: ONE-PAGE SYNOPSIS WORKSHOP with Kimberly Derting


SATURDAY, March 10, 2018

10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Second Saturdays Writing Program at Woodinville Library 
17105 Avondale Road NE, Woodinville 


Kimberly Derting
ONE PAGE SYNOPSIS INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP  with Kimberly Dertingthe amazing author of THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE series and much more! 


BRING YOUR ONE-PAGE SYNOPSIS—whether it’s ultra-rough or close to complete—to submit (anonymously) to the group. After a lively discussion of what makes a strong short synopsis, you’ll hear yours read aloud and receive constructive feedback for making it more compelling…more powerful…more pitch-able!

This workshop is free and registration is not required. For more details click here.