The topic of diversity in writing is very popular these days. The conversation for this is long overdue in my opinion, and not because I am a person of color but because readers are very diverse. As a child I could never find a book that had a character that looked like me in my public library. Most books were non-fiction and dealt with slavery or heroes of slavery. Now, authors are eagerly working towards sharing and writing about characters of color and it’s exciting. Take a look at this article by Tansy Rayner Roberts at Tor.com.
I’m currently writing my first middle grade novel. So far it has been an interesting experience. I love my characters and it’s fun when I get into the groove of writing and the story seems to take over all by itself. I find that I wake up in the middle of the night to jot down notes and ideas to make my characters really come to life. Writing for a MG audience is not an easy task. Writing in general is not an easy task, but when you add youth to the mix and all the silly things they do it’s difficult to come up with the right mix of things to keep the readers attention and put the reader in a position to be able to relate to the characters feelings and actions.
I read an article by Margo Finke at Harold Underdown’s site that helped me stay focused and be more insightful to what works for that age group. The article “Writing a Middle-grade Masterpiece Ain’t Easy!”has some excellent tips and links. To read more about writing for children, take a moment to visit the Harold Underdown site.
Check out Billie Jo and the new Storybook software!
via Out of the Woods
A writers conference is a good idea. Writers can get together and work on their manuscripts and bond with one another. Conferences can be inexpensive all the way up to high priced getaways. You can polish up on your genre when you’re there. If you haven’t heard of the Shaw Guide you are in for a treat. This site lists every writer’s conference around the world.
Unfortunately, I have never had the luxury to attend a conference but I hope to do so one day. Check out the Shaw Guide at http://writing.shawguides.com/ for a list of conferences and workshop for the 2011 calendar year.
The Johnson County Public Library
How often do any of us writers actually stop by our neighborhood library, sit down and have a conversation with the librarian? Probably not too many of us. If you do, then kudos to you! For the most part we sit working away on a manuscript without really knowing whether or not it will be the next big thing and who cares. We should be writing because we love it and we have a story to tell.
I took a moment and visited with my neighborhood librarian. She had a lot to say about trends, popular books and what the future could hold.
JCL Young Adult Librarian
Please tell us about yourself and your position with the library.
I am the Young Adult Librarian at the Johnson County Public Library located at 9875 W. 87th Street, Overland Park, Kansas. I started about 2 ½ years ago fresh out of library school at the University of Iowa. I do most of our system-wide teen programming and a lot of our teen outreach to schools and I also work with teens in the juvenile detention center and with those who are on parole.
The Central Resource branch of the library focuses on young adult reading. How are activities and promotions selected and implemented?
We try to promote teen events in a variety of ways. We use social networking like Facebook and Goodreads to connect to teen readers. Our Marketing Manager makes sure that the biggest teen events get coverage in local newspapers and ads on radio or TV. But probably our most successful marketing comes from the Library. Posters, signs, fliers and word of mouth are the best way we have found to reach teens.
What are the most popular genres in middle grade and young adult thus far?
As much as I keep looking for signs of a decline, vampire literature is still going strong. I keep thinking it is going to be a short lived fad but it looks like it is here to stay, with more and more coming out all the time. In a larger genre all things supernatural are still flying off the shelf.
I am also seeing a rise in popularity of what I like to call the “geek book.” Books that are really geeky but that are pretty accessible (along the lines of John Green). That could just be the teens that hang out at the Library, since they might already be predisposed to be a little geeky.
I have also seen a lot of “remixes” in the past year or two. This both excites and worries me. I love a good remake and sometimes I want to change the ending of a books so it is satisfying when someone takes the matter into their own hands, but it also makes me wonder if we are just running out of ideas.
What would you like to see more of from new writers in regards to middle grade or young adult literature?
I have really encouraged by the rise of GLBT literature in the last couple of years. Long ago there was not GLBT literature for teens, the most of it was dramatic self-realization novels. Lately gay teens have been showing up in literature just like any other character, helping teens to understand that it is just another part of everyday life. Being gay isn’t always this big deal that is full of crying and kissing and drama, but just a normal part of life. I hope this trend continues and that GLBT teens can pick up a book about a character they can relate too who’s story goes beyond coming out.
What future trends do you see coming in regards to middle grade or young adult literature?
There are a lot of successful authors who are turning reading from a solitary experience into a social one. I think this is going to become a bigger and bigger trend in the future. Authors like Ellen Hopkins, John Green, Maureen Johnson and more are really encouraging readers to connect with the authors, and each other online. Some authors create online components with their books, where only part of the story can be experienced on the page. Others, like John Green, have created a community of readers who love the books just as much as they love being a Nerdfighter. Nowadays I am shocked to run across an authors website without at least a blog!
- The Lure of Team Written Books: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (thesassylibrarian.blogspot.com)
- American Library Association Adds Prize for LGBT Children’s Literature (lezgetreal.com)