What the heck is the YA market?

When I was a kid — yes, I’m going there — there was nothing called YA. There were kids books and there were adult books.

Yes, books were sort of grouped in the kids section by age range, but there was no separate place for books aimed at what we now call young adults.

YA is now a market and so now we have to figure out how to define that market. From my perspective, YA contains books aimed at people aged 12 to 18. (Which does not in any way mean that you have to be that age to read them.)

The rule of thumb when I was a baby-author and getting the hang of this publishing thing was that a book for kids was grouped by the age of its protagonist. For example, books aimed at tweens would have a protagonist who was approximately fifteen/ in high school. Books aimed at high school students generally featured seniors in high school or kids just entering college.

That’s not exactly how it works anymore.

YA features protagonists who are the same age as the readers, or just above them. Right now, they’re chosen ones fighting in dystopias, or quietly desperate high school struggles, or soul-shattering stories written by John Green. Now, as a reader, you don’t have to decide if something is YA, it’s right there in the section of the bookstore labeled YA.

I don’t have that luxury. I’m over here on the publisher side. I have to decide if it belongs in that section of the bookstore.

How do I do that? I fall back on what I know. If the protagonist is between fifteen and twenty-five, check-box one is achieved. If the story is something that follows a general pattern of what’s in the market right now for YA, check-box two is achieved. If the writing is over-blown and annoyingly pedantic… erm… no.

I have nothing against poetry. I have nothing against using multi-syllabic words or facing difficult concepts in a story. Let’s face it, Harry Potter has racism, fascism, class warfare, prisoners of war, torture, and death. Hunger Games is children literally hunting each other. Difficult storylines, difficult words, none of that is a problem. Sex, violence, cursing, none of those things are deal-breakers anymore.

Talking down to the audience is. Pretending to be hip is. (What is it you whipersnappers say? “on fleek”?) Don’t do that, please.

Still, bottom line, when I’m looking for a YA book (and let’s face it, our line does need some), I’m looking for a book that hits the sweet spot in terms of age, reads quickly, and doesn’t make me question whether or not I’ll need to talk to the FBI about the author.

PS: GOLDEN FLEECE PRESS IS ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR YA BOOKS.

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HERSTORY: Miss Cora M. Strayer’s Private Detective Agency

Okay, so, I’ve been really sucky at writing anything on a regular basis here.

But that’s because the world has been… insane.

Let’s focus on the past for a little while okay? This is from Paul Reda. And I just love the fact that not only is the ad awesome, the history is pretty cool too.

I am really into old ads and Chicago history, and the ad copy filled me with joy. I loved the idea of a female PI working the South Side of Chicago during the Progressive Era. My mind almost immediately started concocting stories and cases for her (historical fanfic? Is that a thing?). Cheating husbands, missing daughters, crooked alderman, maybe even a murder in the Stockyards. I was sure she had an affair with Upton Sinclair and her nemesis must have been H.H. Holmes.

I resolved to find out as much about her as I could. I never would have guessed that I would find so much and that she completely lived up to my expectations. So here is a timeline and documentation of everything I could find out about her (or at least as much as I could while spending no money and “researching” from the comfort of my couch). I HIGHLY recommend you click the links and read the articles. They’re amazing.

READ MORE

Make your own Golden Fleeced Sheep

So, we have a wonderful mascot named Nugget. He’s adorable. But obviously, he didn’t come glittery and golden as he should be for a golden fleeced sheep. We made him glitter.

nugget 6

After five attempts.

You can make your own. With the best method, not the first five, which involved varying types of fabric paint.

Materials:nugget 5

  • 1 Stuffed sheep

  • Spray adhesive

  • Fine gold glitter

  • Painter’s tape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1: Acquire a stuffed sheep. Our Nugget was saved from a thrift shop in Delaware.

Step 2: Use painter’s tape to mask the parts you don’t want to glitter.

nugget 4

Step 3: Open the spray adhesive. Then, throw out the vintage spray adhesive that you’ve had since high school; run to the store and buy a new bottle of adhesive.

nugget 3

Step 4: Spray the sheep in sections and cover with glitter. Be aware that spray adhesive is what Spiderman uses to web criminals. Wear latex/nitrile gloves or be prepared to pick that stuff off your hands for the rest of the night. Oh, and glitter? Yeah, glitter is evil. It will get everywhere. Forever.

nugget

Step 5: Allow the glue to dry.

Step 6: Remove the tape.

nugget 6

Step 7: Enjoy the wonderful and glittery shine that makes your sheep pictures look like JJ Abrams filmed your sheep.

nugget 2

Sometimes You Have to Say “No”

“Creative people say ‘yes’ until they have enough work that they can say ‘no.’”

Austin Kleon (Austin has several wonderful/amusing form letters about saying ‘no’ on his tumblr.)

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, you have to say no to something. That might be not watching TV with the family after dinner. It might be bowing out of a night of drinking and debauchery. (Why not try a write in, instead? A lot more coffee, but random conversations that will make you wonder what’s *in* that coffee. And you get some writing done.)

But even if you aren’t, the holiday seasons are upon us. They’ve pounced with the ferocity of a reporter on a Donald Trump quote. This season, more than any other, is when you need to think about your own sanity. You will have a lot of people who believe you have unlimited time to devote to them. This might be family. This might be friends. This might be a boss who has fourteen new projects that need to be pushed out by the beginning of January.

You need to take care of you. So, you need to be able to say “no” to things. “No, I’m sorry, I can’t make sixteen dozen cupcakes for tomorrow.” Or “Sorry, I won’t be able to make your party on the 16th! Have a wonderful time and eat a slice of pie for me.”

And here’s the nasty little secret people always forget: You are not required to explain why you are saying “no” to an event. “I’m sorry. I won’t be able to make it. Thank you for inviting me.” Feel free to copy and paste that sucker whenever you want.

When it comes to projects? Remember that quality trumps quantity. Can you take on 3 freelance projects and get them done on time and make enough to live on/pay the bill you need to pay? Take on 3 projects. But remember to start truly evaluating when the next possible project comes down the road. Will taking on a 4th project result in all 4 of them going off the rails? Say “I’m afraid I won’t be able to take this project on until [Date]. Will that work for you?”

And right here and now is when I point out that I am a total hypocrite about this. I almost always take on enough to push me to the edge.

But I have learned my lesson. 50 pies I’ve never made before? Sure, I can do them. Just not tomorrow. I’m going to need some notice for that sort of thing.

A thin, thin, line

There is a line. A line we draw and say “thus far and no further.” That line is different for everyone.

Today, someone in my life drew that line and left an abusive relationship. I will not reveal more than that for their own safety.

So, for today’s post we are going to 1) signal boost where to get help. 2) discuss abusive behaviors. 3) rage, rage against abuse and give you ways to help.

Where to get help:

    For Women:

US: call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
UK: call Women’s Aid at 0808 2000 247.
Australia: call 1800RESPECT at 1800 737 732.
Worldwide: visit International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies for a global list of helplines and crisis centers.

    For Men:

U.S. and Canada: The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women
UK: ManKind Initiative
Australia: One in Three Campaign

Abusive Behaviors:

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.

Help Guide.Org

A quick checklist from the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and
how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts or
continually puts down the other person, it’s abuse.
Does your partner…
…

  • Embarrass you with bad names and put-downs?

 

…

  • Look at you or act in ways that scare you?

 

…

  • Control what you do, who you see or talk to, or where you go?

 

…

  • Stop you from seeing or talking to friends or family?

 

…

  • Take your money or Social Security, make you ask for money or refuse to
    give you money?

 

…

  • Make all the decisions?

 

…

  • Tell you you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?

 

…

  • Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?

 

…

  • Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?

 

…

  • Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?

 

…

  • Shove you, slap you or hit you?

 

…

  • Force you to drop charges?

 

…

  • Threaten to commit suicide?

 

…

  • Threaten to kill you?

 

If you checked even one of these, you may be in an abusive relationship. If you
need help, call the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance
Abuse Services’ “Safeline” at 1-800-522-7233 or the National Domestic
Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

How you can help RIGHT NOW:

  1. Signal boost. Share the information in this post. Link to it. Copy it. Post it on your own blog. Facebook it. Tweet about it.
  2. Donate to your local women’s shelter.
  3. Volunteer at your local shelter.
  4. Donate to one of the organizations in the first section
  5. Send this post to someone who needs the checklist.
  6. Look around your home and consider if you have the ability to shelter a friend or a friend of a friend who’s escaping a situation. Think about what you would do. Make sure there’s a plan and maybe lay in an extra toothbrush and sundries, just in case.

It is my sincerest hope that you will never need this information. But if you do? Here is it. And here’s a virtual hug from me to you. You are heard. You are believed.