D*Con: YA After Dark

I was running a little late for this panel, but it dealt with the issues you can address in YA. And why to use YA.

Using YA stories can help us model ways of dealing with real hard issues that teens might not know how to deal with. You can use it to show teens taking active roles in overcoming trauma.

Why Do We Need YA – and YA that deals with Hard Stuff?

  • So the readers know they’re not alone
  • So the readers can see heroes fighting their own darkness
  • To provide tent poles for teens, with their wild emotions/hormones – teens get subtext
  • As an escape. They can pull the readers out of their own situations and give them the distance they need to examine it more objectively.
  • To model how to process certain things, and can identify things the readers are needing or feeling. Putting into words what they can’t.

Things to Avoid:

  • Don’t just have a quick fix for the issues
  • Don’t treat mental illness or chronic health issues as something that can be cured. Show them being lived with.

For teens who may be worried about a book being too intense or triggering:

  • the Library of Congress text on the Copyright page tells the themes the story will be dealing with.
  • Scholastic books tend to have thematic questions at the back, to demonstrate what themes are addressed
  • Best is a librarian who knows the reader and what they can handle, but responses to hard scenes can be unpredictable.

Book Recommendations:

  • Butter – Erin Jane Lang – Deals w/ obesity, suicide, and social media
  • Rage: A Love Story – Julie Anne Peters – Deals w/ lesbians in an abusive relationship
  • This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales – Deals w/ friendship, identity, and suicide
  • Daughters unto Devils – Amy Lukavics – Deals w/teen pregnancy, miscarriage [Horror]
  • Beautiful Decay – Sylvia Lewis – Deals w/ Alcoholic parent [Zombies]
  • Pretty Girl-13 – Liz Coley – Deals w/ Abuse
  • Chinese Handcuffs – Chris Crutcher – Deals w/ suicide, abuse

 

Closing Thoughts:

YA should always offer hope.

You don’t need to “happily ever after” the book, but end in hope.

D*Con: Fantasy Writing Discussion w/Lackey, Dixon, Paolini, Jackson

How Fantasy Writing Changed My Life

w/ Angelina Adams(mod), Mercedes Lackey, Christopher Paolini, Chris Jackson, and Larry Dixon

Stories about Readers:

  • Lackey gets told all the time how Vanyel touched gay readers
  • Dixon – this is his 263rd panel. “We’re still fans, too.

What book/story would you point to for getting you into SFF?

  • Saucer of Loneliness – Lackey
  • The Ruby Knight by David Eddings – Paolini.
    • SFF tackles the big issues
    • Paolini was a scientist for 20 years, now is a full time writer, it literally changed his life.
  • The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon & Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey – Jackson
    • – fantasy doesn’t need to be PG
  • Catseye by Andre Norton & Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey – Dixon.
    • “I was very young at a young age”.
    • It showed a time period that was neither period, nor unfamiliar
    • There was a process by which McCaffrey went from his idol to “Annie’s got my art on her guest room wall.

How do you diversify your writing style

  • honing your voice vs learning things to help the original style – Adams
  • It helps to be schizophrenic. It’s vital to stretch. His writing group has a new writing exercise every month – Jackson
  • Variety inspires your writing – Paolini
  • You cannot edit nothing – Jackson
    • NaNoWriMo is good for beginner writers.
    • Ass glue – gorilla ass glue is helpful.
  • Sanderson does vignettes that he says helps keep him from losing his minds – Paolini
    • After Eragon, [my] next dragon would be evil. (Because of burn out)
    • It’s hard to write a story from the villain’s point of view, they won’t BE the villain. (Because you make them sympathetic)

What did you think of the movie? [Eragon]

  • Paolini – Officially? It was the director’s vision and [he] can’t help but be grateful for the millions of new readers it brought in.
  • Unofficially? [He’s] trying to get it remade. The studio didn’t quite understand fantasy [tropes/etc].
  • Lackey – As Bradbury said, “at least I cashed the check.

For gamers- do you write what you game?

  • Dixon – I had to quit a game module, because the GM didn’t let anyone change anything or add anything.

Odds & Ends and Quotes

  • Lackey – Publisher won’t let her write more 500 Kingdom’s because it doesn’t make enough $$$.
  • Getting old ain’t for the weak” – Lackey
  • The books don’t age.” – CP

Who is your favorite character you’ve created?

  • Skandranon Rashkae- The black griffin – Dixon
  • Vreva Jhafae – the Courtesan Spy – Jackson
  • Saphira –  the dragon – Paolini
  • Victoria – romance writer/techno-mage and Joyeaux Charmond – a hunter in a dystopia – but that’s who I’m working on right now… – Lackey

 

A Dream You Can Hold

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King

I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember. My parents always read to me. My mother used to be in charge of story time at the public library, in Philadelphia, back around the time I was born, so her reading voice is what all children’s stories should be read in. I remember Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Sarah’s Unicorn, and A Dark, Dark Tale. Mom claims the first time I saw horses, I shouted, “Uni! Uni!” I knew about unicorns before I knew there were horses.
 
My grandmother was my babysitter and she worked with my sister and me, teaching us to read. I remember her reading us old copies of The Cat In The Hat, with my mother’s name scribbled in crayon in the front.  I remember flashcards and three nights a week, copying out all my vocabulary words 4 times each, in ADDITION to my homework, working on my spelling and my handwriting.
 
When we got older, we still played around with flash cards. My grandmother had a “Better Reading Kit” for “learning to speed read” from the 60’s. It was a plastic rectangle with a small window with a button release. The button would release the spring and a shutter would flash past the window, showing the text in the window for milliseconds. You could start with small, single syllable words and work your way up to common phrases with 3-5 words. By the time I finished playing with that, my reading speed averaged 100 pages an hour. Faster if it’s mostly dialogue, a bit slower if it’s heavily detailed with minute battle maneuvers.
 
My family has always been readers. My grandmother told us about her Grandmother Hazelwood(1), who had helped raise her. Born during the Civil War, Grandmother Hazelwood, had been taught to read by her mother (who, story goes, saved the sanctuary Bible from burning during the war). While living on a farm in Eastern Virginia, she believed that daughters needed to know how to read, just as much as sons. Literacy is important to my family.
 
When I was halfway through high school, a kindergartener started catching the bus at the end of her road, right in front of my grandmother’s house. The girl’s father would wait in his truck until the bus turned around at the boat ramp and came back to pick her up. My grandmother offered to let them wait on her porch. And then offered to watch her long enough for the bus to pick her up. And then found out the girl couldn’t read. So, out came the flashcards and the old copy of The Cat In The Hat. The girl was past her reading-level before the year was out.
 
Now, I’m all grown up and I don’t have as much time to read. I’ve found that cardio and my kindle app are a great combo, though. I need to decide what to read next so I can queue that up.
 
I don’t have any children, but I’m an aunt to a little girl who turns 5 this week. For her birthday, I put together a photo album. It’s got pictures of Christmases. She’s the only little one in the family and we have a wide circle of friends, so her pile of gifts was large. When she was 3, she opened about 5 gifts before she was done. She crawled into her mommy’s lap with her new books and was ready for story time. This year, she’d mastered Christmas, but she still likes her books.
 
Last year, when I was babysitting, I made a mistake. I let her take the chapter book, My First Book of Space, from National Geographic upstairs and select it for bedtime reading. I made it through three chapters before I called it quits. When a 4-year-old tells you that the Juno Orbiter must be going to Jupiter to help fix the broken Galileo orbiter, not just do its own study, you say “maybe”.
 
These days, I read a lot of webcomics, urban fantasy, fantasy, and a bit of science-fiction and romance. Occasionally a mystery or popular non-genre fiction will find its way into my reading pile. Plus, of course, I’ve got some books on writing and world building. Last thing I read? Digger by Ursula Vernon- a webcomic omnibus about a wombat who gets sucked into magical nonsense against her will. Before that, Seanan McGuire‘s latest Chaos Choreography, about Verity Price, who likes the family business (cryptozoologist) of helping non-human races thrive in the shadows without harming humans, but would rather be a professional ballroom dancer. Next up? Either the latest few Ilona Andrew‘s Kate Daniels books or Lois Bujold‘s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. Oh… and I’ve been meaning to read the Iron Druid series for about 3 years…
What are you reading?
0 – Title comes from : “A book is a dream you can hold.” – Neil Gaiman
1 – Where the last name in my pen name comes from.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!

I could talk about the Hugo’s- the winners, the losers, and the No Votes.

Or I could talk about my favorite books growing up. My mother was a career librarian until she retired last year, so she always had the best recommendations.


I remember making my mother read to me the Caldecott Winning Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig many times. I remember feeling sad for Sylvester whose friends couldn’t recognize him and left him in the field alone, as a pebble. Happy when they were reunited. I’ve always loved the fantastic.

Sarah’s Unicorn by Katherine and Bruce Coville I read to myself and enjoyed thoroughly. I like the self-aware female protagonist who saves herself with twists on classic fairytale worlds. I don’t think I realized that My Teacher Is An Alien and the Magic Shop books were by the same author! But, I definitely enjoyed Bruce Coville’s work for older readers as well.


I’m an identical twin and always wanted to an author, so I had a sweet spot for the Sweet Valley Twin books and Elizabeth in particular. (Although, I was never that convinced Todd made a good boyfriend). I also read the Babysitter Club books and the Christy Miller books.

The Castle In the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop has a Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book award. I can’t remember if I tried gymnastics before or after I read this book the first time, but I loved it. It has hints of The Last Unicorn in it – (which I discovered on my mother’s shelf in college, never knowing she had it, just watching the movie every time I visited my aunt) – but they defeated the wizard by being clever and swift, not strong.


Newbury honorist The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. My big sister gave my twin sister this during the Christmas of 4th grade. I can still recite the prophecy at will. I tore through the series. I think Greenwitch may be my favorite. Or maybe Silver on the Tree. Hmmm, hard choice.


R. L Stine – I was a regular reader of his works – some of the Goosebumps and definitely all the Fear Street books in the library. I won the summer reading club and my prize was dinner with the man himself and several other winners! (Although, I definitely had a soft spot for the more spiritual creepiness of Christopher Pike.)


The Secret Circle series by LJ Smith was my favorite of her works. For most of high school, I reread them every autumn. Outsider Cassie, the pagan powers, dealing with small town politics and cute boys, I loved it all.


The Last Herald-Mage by Mercedes Lackey was my introduction to Valdemar. Definitely an interesting spot to start, but I loved it. I carried the 3-in-1 book to school to keep reading, on more than one read-through. (Sorry Mom! Didn’t mean to break the spine. Books that size aren’t meant to be carried like that.) She’s still one of the authors I follow.

Did you read these books growing up? Did you love them like I did?

Any books I missed?

Life Intrudes

I was all set to rewrite the start of my novel. I had all the suggestions and feedback and knowledge from 17 panels in my head. I was all set to make my novel the best I could.

Then life happened.

I let typing up my notes steal my writing time. I started reading again. I tried to add a regular workout. Not to mention spending time with the people who are important to me. Trying not to neglect people. And my time slipped away.

When given the choice bedtime or writing, I chose bedtime… And whatever book I was reading.

Life happens.

Time to get back to the basics and write.

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