Why I Read YA Fiction

I love YA

If you’ve been on social media the past week you may have seen lots of hashtags that include ANYTHING related to The Fault in Our Stars and John Green.  Seriously, if you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ve really gone off the grid.

Amidst all the talk and excitement around the popular contemporary YA novel and it’s movie adaptation, someone decided to drop their opinion on everyone.

According to this person at slate.com, who I’m not naming, but feel free to go to her article and see her elaborate on how she’s better than everyone else for reading adult fiction.  Not surprisingly, she was met with a town full of adult YA lovers brandishing pick forks ready to chase her off the internet.

Here’s a direct quote from the article:

“Fellow grown-ups, at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this.”

WHOA.  Okay, you risked it and yes.  Yes, you sound joyless and old.  My first question is, better than what?  Last time I checked, fiction reading is done for pleasure.  With that being said, who are you to decide what someone should be embarrassed about?

If one is picking up fiction for pleasure, my guess is that they are looking for a form of escapism.  A way to be transported to a different world, feel different emotions, see things from someone else’s eyes.  Just because something is written and placed in a certain genre does not mean it has to be exclusively read by the members of said genre.

The slate writer did touch on escapism and saying that there’s “room for it” and then jumped back to how teenagers may never graduate from YA fiction because all the adults are reading it.  Also, how excited she was to graduate to the adult stacks as a teenager.

Here’s where you’re wrong lady…

OF COURSE teenagers are going to be excited about reading an adult book because most teenagers are learning how to navigate their lives and are curious about a wide array of emotions and what it’s like to be an adult.  I would be surprised if a teenager never wanted to read an adult book.  Generally, readers are a curious bunch.  As we grow up and new layers of complexity arise in our lives, we naturally seek out more mature material to read and watch.  If you have a teenager that loves to read, I am going to take a wild stab in the dark: you have a smart kid who can and will pick up adult fiction at some point.

Now, I need to get back to the root of the article and the writer’s main point:  Adults should be embarrassed to read YA fiction.

I’m going to take this backwards from what I just said about teenagers.  Yes, as teenagers get older they seek out more mature material.  As an adult, I am wholly aware of adulthood.  No, I have not experienced all the benchmarks of adulthood such as marriage and babies but I have been slapped in the face by reality enough times to understand adulthood and feel the full weight of responsibility.  Here’s where my love of young adult fiction comes into play.

When I read YA or children’s literature I am reminded that to see the world through a child’s eyes is to remember that there is hope.  There is uncharted territory.  There are dreams to be made and a heart that is bursting with optimism.  As adults, we become jaded to new feelings and even push things away that may cause emotion.  When I am reading through a teenage narrator I am seeing things differently.  The slate writer would say that an adult should snicker at the trappings of a YA novel.  But the truth is that we must never forget what it feels like to be a kid and it feels good to remember things when they were so innocent and fresh and new.

Eventually we must all grow up, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose all hope and stop believing in dreams. I am not embarrassed to read fiction written for children and neither should you.

It doesn’t matter what you are reading.  It could be romance, horror, erotic fiction or the latest literary masterpiece.  Read what you want with pride AT EVERY AGE.

If anyone else has anything negative to say about adults reading children books I only have one thing to say:

Harry Potter.

 

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What Maya Angelou Taught Me

balloon

 

I have been a longtime admirer of Maya Angelou.  She has been a favorite of mine ever since my love of poetry blossomed in elementary school.  I tend to revisit a few of her most famous works when I am in need of hope or inspiration.  A couple weeks ago I had the urge to read Phenomenal Woman, Caged Bird and Still I Rise.  Every time I read them I am filled with gratitude that she put these words together.  I feel empowered.

She taught me to never let this cruel world break my spirit.  I am the first one to admit that I am a sensitive soul.  I often think the best of people even when this may not be the case.  I still believe that the world is mostly full of good people.  I am naive.

Sometimes, I wonder if I need to readjust my attitude or maybe adopt a more realistic view of the world and its inhabitants.  But that would require me to change my own character.  When I read quotes from Dr. Maya Angelou I am reminded to keep my head up in a negative world.  I am reminded that I must stay true to myself.  I am reminded that the world needs people who continue to love in an unlovable world.  We are all humans sharing the same space.  It is not a sign of weakness to be kind to unkind people.

So, thank you Maya Angelou for lifting me up when I needed it and reminding me that it’s okay to be me.

 

Smartphones are Running our Lives and Five Ways to Detox from Technology

 

Have you ever thought about what life was like pre-cell phone?

I grew up right on the cusp of the cell phone boom.  My senior year of high school I shared a motorola flip phone with my mom.  I kept it on me for emergencies and generally used the landline for making calls. ( I had a Garfield phone in my bedroom which is a totally irrelevant point, I just want everyone to know I had a Garfield phone.)  Before that, I had one of those phones that came in a huge bag that had to be plugged into the car.  I’m pretty sure it charged 8$ for a 30 second phone call.    In college I had a cell phone but reception was so bad in Kalamazoo that I didn’t really receive calls, I only received voicemails.

Then, within a span of a couple years, Verizon decided to take over the cellphone game and put up towers everywhere.  Smartphones were starting to become  mainstream and texting was becoming ‘a thing’.  By my mid-twenties I was using my phone for pictures, texting and GPS.  Nowadays, I am typing this on the computer while my phone sits in front of me because I am texting all day.  I am checking facebook periodically.  I am scrolling through Pinterest.  I am taking pictures and Instagramming.  I am addicted to my phone.  In fact, everyone is addicted to their phone to some degree.  But, the attachment I have is nothing compared to the all consuming addiction I see in people that are younger than me.

For a lot of adults and the majority of teenagers, life does not happen unless it is documented on your phone through facebook, snapchat, instagram, the list goes on.  This terrible habit is never more glaringly obvious than when I attend a concert.

Every time I go to a concert, it gets worse.  last week, I had the privilege of seeing Lana Del Rey at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.  The second that she walked onto stage 85% of the people in attendance had their phones up to document the whole thing.  I’m not trying to say that cell phones shouldn’t be used to take any pictures or videos at all.  I would have taken a picture or two if my phone hadn’t died earlier in the night.  In fact, it was a blessing in disguise because it wasn’t an option to use it at all.  Thus, the distraction was completely gone for me.  It also allowed me to completely focus on the concert.  I actually had a great sense of freedom.  I felt sorry for all the people that were slaves to their cell phones.

Instead of making a memory, they were trying to capture the physical memory with their phone.  They were seeing the concert through a screen.  Does anyone even go back and watch the video that they took?  Do they print out pictures from the concert and look at it with a nostalgic feeling, or do they look at it and just remember that they were so focused on capturing something that told everyone where they were or what they were doing?  The couple next to me were taking selfies during the concert.  When the girl walked away, her boyfriend sat down and started scrolling through facebook.  My guess is that he was there because his girlfriend wanted him there, but I still can’t imagine needing to see what people are saying on facebook over watching live music.

The pictures that I’ve taken at concerts have never actually left my phone.  I ended up deleting them to make space for more important pictures.    Why would anyone re-watch a video of a concert that they were actually at?  Especially when it’s the bootleg quality that comes off of a cellphone?

Sometimes, I wish that smartphones didn’t exist.  I am guilty of using my cellphone to fill the space during commercials or really any space where I have nothing to hold my attention.  It is a sad state to be in.  I am owned by this technology and I am missing the real world around me.  Have you ever thought about how exhausting it is to have to update your social life?  Or how long it takes to set up plans through texting?  It’s really fucking difficult.

When I see someone on the street, walking and staring at their cellphone, I want to shake them and scream “you are missing EVERYTHING!”  The cat video can wait.  Actually, it doesn’t even need to be seen at all unless it is literally a cat that sprouted wings and is flying around.  Because we’ve all seen it.  We’ve seen everything.  And it’s at our fingertips.  It’s making us rude.  Impatient.  Selfish.

Which is why I have come up with 5 exercises to help us detox from our cellphone addiction.

1.  Go for a walk sans cellphone.  

You don’t have to go for a five mile hike without it, I’m just suggesting a walk around the block.  But you MUST leave it at home.  Don’t even give yourself the temptation.  If something happens, like a rabid squirrel attack, there will be someone around who will call 911 for you.

2. Turn it off during concerts.

Take one picture.  I mean it-ONLY ONE.  Don’t take a picture of the performer singing your favorite song.  It won’t translate through the picture.  It will actually look like shit.  Just stop.  Seriously, I will knock it out of your hands.  After you take ONE PICTURE, turn it off and don’t look at it until the concert is over.  There’s no need to text, tweet, facebook or take phone calls during a concert.  You bought these tickets to be present with the music.

3.  No cell phones on the table during any meals.

Leave them in your purse.  If someone doesn’t have a purse to put their phone in than take it and put it in your purse.   You are in real life, with real people, sharing a real meal.  Don’t ignore the people in front of you.  Don’t take a picture of what you are eating because no one cares what you are eating.  Seriously, it’s food.

4.  Go a day without looking at or posting on social media.

I know, this one is difficult.  Maybe start with just one social media site.  So, let’s say that on a daily basis you check or post of facebook, twitter, instagram and snapchat.  Decide that on one day you will not open twitter.  Then, maybe when you build up the strength you can eliminate two for a day.  The trick is to slowly ween ourselves off of having to incessantly check.  Let’s get our lives back, people!

5.  Make a phone call instead of texting.

If you are trying to set up plans with someone, I promise it will go much smoother if you just call that person.  You will have to text back and forth 800 times to figure out exactly where you want to go.  Plus, it won’t kill you to have a little bit more human interaction.

So go forth into the world and use your own set of eyes.  Experience things as they happen and don’t feel like you have to document everything.  Keep things for you and only you.  Make memories that don’t include everyone on facebook or twitter.

POETRY I LOVE: ‘Books’ by Billy Collins

When it comes to reading I generally pick up fiction.  I would say 90% of the time.  But, every once in a while I get into a poetry kick.  I generally don’t have specific poets that I go back to (I know, shame on me) but I will find something that I fall in love with and need to see the rest of that poet’s work.

This poem, for me, really captures the reading experience and my love affair with books.  Just beautiful!  I got this poem at poetryfoundation.org.

 

Enjoy!

books

30 for 30: Things I’ve Learned about Beauty and Health, Part 1

So, I’m turning 30.  Like, soon.

While I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, I feel like sharing the things I’ve learned in my twenties.  I’ll be dishing out my wisdom in various subjects.  You may take something from this, maybe not.    Hopefully, maybe one little nugget will stick in your brain.

Today I will be tackling health and beauty.  Also, if you have any great tips that you’ve picked up along the way, I would love to hear them!

In no particular order….

1.  Moisturize

My mom told me to do this at a very young age.  I try to get some sort of lotion on my face every night.  I’ve recently even switched to night cream.  Otherwise, my face would crackle and blow away in the wind.  But seriously, it will keep the wrinkles at bay.

2. Wear sunglasses

Speaking of wrinkles, I have some on my forehead.  I spent a lot of my early twenties squinting into the sunlight because I never had my sunglasses on me.

3.  Don’t overdo it in the sun

Everyone has heard this and there is always a lot of talk about SPF when summer rolls around.  I’m not here to tell you to wear a hat and use an umbrella and never show your face in the sun like a vampire.  That’s not realistic.  But use discretion.  I used tanning beds very heavily for many years and I know that it aged my skin.  If skin cancer isn’t enough to scare you into being careful in the sun than looking like that old chick from ‘There’s Something about Mary” should.  Gross.

4.  Beauty regimens need to be changed for the seasons

For me, summer=mineral powder and winter=liquid foundation

5.  Acne clearing products (usually) don’t work.

I get breakouts.  The intensity of them comes and goes.  In high school it got bad to the point that I went on accutane.  (That’s a story for another time)  I’ve tried EVERYTHING.  The majority will melt your face off.  If you put something on your face and it hurts really bad it’s probably not helping you.  Proactiv or anything with a ton of benzoyl peroxide is going to do damage to your skin.

6.  Wash your face with a wash cloth.

This seems so simple but it really makes a difference.

7.  Natural soap/lotion is better.

I’m going to sound like a hippie BUT natural beauty products are better.  Just look at the list of ingredients on the back of any lotion/soap that isn’t organic.  Chemicals, chemicals, chemicals.  Our skin is absorbing all this foreign crap every time we slather it on.

8.  Dr. Bronner’s is MAGICAL.

This has become my new soap in the past year.   It’s organic and has so many uses.  I swear it cured my hormonal acne.

9.  Oil is really good for your skin!

I was really nervous to try Dr. Bronner’s thinking that it would clog my pores.  Not the case.  Oil actually pushes the bad oil out of your pores!  Just remember to buy organic oil. Coconut oil is really a cure-all. Slather it everywhere, you can eat it too if you want to.

10.  Take a multivitamin.

So about every other year a group of scientists tell us that multivitamins aren’t doing anything for us and/or they are killing a certain age group or giving people heart attacks or making people grow a third arm or some giant pile of BS.  When I take vitamins, I feel better.  That’s really all the research I need.  Maybe it’s the placebo effect, but damnit they help!

11.  Fad diets are bullshit.

Seriously.  Just eat healthy.

12.  Eat the cookie.

Seriously.  Just do it.  If you deprive yourself for two weeks you will eat 10 cookies instead of one.

The Hornsby Advocate's possum tweet

13.  There’s  a happy medium when it comes to exercising.

Last year I started running and working out 3-4 days a week.  It was a great balance and it really started becoming a habit.  Then, I was like BRING IT ON, and I tried Insanity.  I was doing it everyday and really seeing results and feeling like a bad ass.  Then, the injuries kicked in.  I could barely walk without being in some sort of ankle pain.  So, I stopped Insanity.  I had to.  Moral of the story is that MOST bodies aren’t equipped to handle extreme workouts 6 days a week.  It’s also easy to let yourself take a longer break when you’ve overworked yourself for so long.

14.  Don’t wear your ponytail in the same spot whenever you pull your hair up.

The hair in that spot will get broken repeatedly and you’ll end up with flyaways and noticeable breakage.  Also, be careful with pulling your hair up really tight, it can thin the hair at your hairline.

15.  Leave your hair the color you were born with.

I started dying my hair when I was 17 because I hated my own boring brown hair.  Then, I did highlights for a long time.  Then, I decided to just let my hair be it’s natural color.  You know what happened?  My hair condition improved and it started growing a lot faster.  You know what else happened?  I noticed that I have a lot of grey fucking hairs.

I’ll have part 2 up in a few days!

Writing the teenage voice-it’s really hard when you aren’t a teenager

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am actively participating in NaNoWriMo.   I am writing a young adult novel which involves teenagers (obviously).  I happen to LOVE young adult novels.  Seriously, can’t get enough.  So why not write one, right?

So, I’m just chugging right along until I have to write teenage dialogue….

Let me put this in perspective.  I have not been a teenager in almost 12 years. (HOLY SHIT I’M TURNING 30 IN LIKE 3 MONTHS) anyways…

I understand that in writing we have to write in the voice of other people ALL THE TIME.  I get that.  And I want it to be believable.

But when I think about teenage boys and what they probably sound like most of the time in real life I make this face….

Sometimes they are totally gross, right?!  People don’t want to read a book where the love interest is talking about doritos and boobs all the time.

So, I’m exaggerating quite a bit.

But, how do you find a balance between realistic characters and what people want to read?   Obviously, the love interest in my story is a teenage boy.  How do you make that person sound like a teenager while also being everything that the reader wants in a book crush?

Also, kids these days are pretty dang sophisticated and I don’t want to sound like some idiot pretending to be a teenager. ( I’ve read books like that and it’s not pretty.)

Girls are also WAY more mature than they were when I was a teenager.  It’s also very different now in terms of social media.  I think that the advancement of technology has completely changed the way that kids are growing up and is also forcing a lot to grow up quicker.

But no matter what, it’s a confusing age.

It’s also pretty amazing.

 

I think most of us remember it kind of like this….

Do you have any tips for writing in a teenage voice?