Thursday, September 24, 2009

Young Adult Taboos*

Apparently, there are very, very few.

This question came up for me because yesterday I was in the middle of writing a scene in my young adult novel that's fraught with sexual tension. Something funny (and vampiric) happens which causes our heroine to flee from a make-out session with the hottie Witch boy. He thinks she's off to go, you know, find some condoms. She, meanwhile, is trying to put her fangs back in the box, as it were. Hilarity ensues.

I wrote this thinking, "ha! Great scene! Good job, me!" Then, I paused. When I was a teen (back before written record) this sort of thing would have been completely taboo. It would have caused parents, schools, the media, the Congress of the United States... to freak out.

So, like any modern writer seeking answers to such things, I got on the Internet. I posted a question about it on Facebook. I asked a group of SF/F writers (some of which are writing young adult books). I said, "Can I mention condoms in YA? Is it taboo?"

To a person, they scoffed at me. No, no, I was told. Hardly anything is taboo these days. Mentioning condoms is _so_ not taboo that if the possibility of sex between teens is on scene then the RESPONSIBLE thing is to mention condoms!

Someone also pointed me to this great site: Ally's Diary. Ally is Ally Carter a teen author of teen books. She's the insider's insider being both a YA author and an ACTUAL TEEN. Specifically, she's got a great post about this (and a few other things) called, "Wrong Questions... Which I now pass on to you as a great resource for this kind of wrong question... which us forty-somethings trying to write for the modern teen audience seem to always have.

I mean, that's the thing, isn't it? My own experience of being a teenager was long before cell phones, texting, yes, even computers. (Not just the Internet, kids, but computers themselves.) What was taboo for me and my generation seems, well, like child's play to this.

Plus, I don't remember even having a catagory called YA when I was a teen. There was the children's section of the library and the adult section. It seems, in a lot of ways, it's still the same... only with better marketing.

*x-posted from Wyrdsmiths.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No Surrender and Dan Brown

I was over at Wyrdsmiths this morning and finally went through some of the "Smart Things" that Kelly McCullough posted yesterday, including this gem from Matt Hughes called, "No Surrender" which I whole heartedly recommend to anyone who either is just starting their writing career or in the middle of one of the many lows that come in the epicenter of it.

(Though for the record, I do find it difficult to take up a battle cry from that particular political bent from that particular country, but, alas, it does work perfectly for writers. And it in no way diminishes the point of his article.)

Also, this morning while sitting on the, ehm, "throne" I read the interview with Dan Brown (yes, that one, of Davinci Code fame,) in Entertainment Weekly. I have to count myself among his many detractors, however, I found his "screw y'all" attitude very refreshing... and I was profoundly struck by his discipline. Apparently, he gets up every morning at 4 am to write. He writes all day, but takes very regulated breaks during the day to exercise and makes time every week to work out with a personal trainer. I may not be terribly impressed with his artistry, but I can find no fault in his work ethic. You go, Dan.

I was surprised, however, that he doesn't seem to enjoy it. The article implied that after the sequel was turned in he plans to quit. At least for a while. But then I thought, well, okay. Maybe that's his thing. He just wanted to write a book and now that he's made multiple millions, he's going to retire.

The reason it struck me as so odd is that I can't imagine not writing. I think that if I made multiple millions and no one was clamoring for another book, I might retire to the life of a short story writer... or perhaps I might sit down on the French Riviera (or in my new Roman villa next to George Clooney's) and write something all for myself alone. But not make up stories? I can't imagine it.

I mean, connecting this to Mr. Hughes's inspiring article, I always thought that even if all the money dried up (which is much more likely than the multi-millions), I'd go in to a deep depression for several months (let's be honest,) and then I'd do the same damn thing: write something that I, myself find deeply satisfying. Maybe try my hand at a few shorts. But not write? I can't even picture it.

But speaking of a strong work ethic... it is now 23 days until ALMOST TO DIE FOR is due. I've still got a third of the book to go, but even if I only wrote 1,000 words a day, I'd finish with three days to spare. I'm trying to write double (at least!) so that I can get a first draft done in time for readers from Wyrdsmiths to eyeball it before it goes to my editor. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nose Dive in Production

Sunday and yesterday, I was hit hard by a nasty flu bug. My partner also left yesterday for Washington, D.C., so I was not only sick, but a temporary single-parent. Blurg.

I decided that the smartest thing was not to panic. My deadline is fast approaching, BUT I wasn't going to do any one any good trying to write while in a feverish haze. So I slept. I slept most of Sunday and nearly all of Monday (when I wasn't taking Mason to school, feeding him, or, ehm, driving the porcelain bus as we used to call it.)

My strategy seems to be paying off. I am brighter eyed and busier tailed this morning. Now, off to make words count and word count!