So…You Write YA?

Originally posted on All The Way YA:

SO…YOU WRITE YA?

Labels. Oh, glorious labels. Good or bad, we’re addicted to them like our favorite candy or never-ending Netflix marathons. You simply cannot exist if you don’t wear a label. In YA, that label is Ohhh…you write about TEENAGERS? Young adult? Isn’t that for kids? Why don’t you write about someone your own age?

The YA label comes with judgy eyes, snide comments, and a truckload of condescension. Every single author I meet who doesn’t write YA asks me why I do. They can’t understand the allure of writing about children. Here, I will try to answer some of the common questions I face and give you some ammo for the next time you’re cornered.

Why can’t you just make your characters adults?

Attachments. When I have Ashley ride off on the back of some hot guy’s motorcycle, I don’t want her to be thinking about her ex-husband…

View original 624 more words

Eating Peaches and Riding Unicorns

Originally posted on All The Way YA:

So if you read my first post last week, you know that I’m interested in talking about the guts and the glory of being a writer of YA fiction. Hell, being a writer PERIOD!

I am here this week to talk about the guts…the pain…the struggle. The depression.

Feeling dark about my work is nothing new, but last year my struggle got significantly darker.

It wasn’t one thing, like a particular rejection letter or words of criticism from a critique partner or editor; rather, it was an accumulation of not experiences but feelings I’ve been having about myself as a writer and as a person. Feelings that were triggered by benign events. Friends getting book deals. A rejection of my most recent submission by a favorite publisher. Feedback from my agent. A negative review of one of my newly published short stories. These are normal events in the life of…

View original 924 more words

WRITING AN UNCONVENTIONAL RELATIONSHIP

Milestones are important to relationships. Most of us are familiar with the stepping stones in a conventional relationship. The first look, first kiss, the increasing sexual tension that usually leads to a sexual encounter. As readers, we enjoy experiencing these things over and over again through characters we love. Young Adult is FULL of conventional relationships. To quote Caroline from The Vampire Diaries (TV version), “Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Sex.”

But what about an unconventional relationship? What about relationships where there is a history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in one or both partners? Things may not unfold so smoothly. As a writer, I think it’s important that these relationships get just as much attention as their “normal” counterparts. Just because they don’t fall into a perfect mold doesn’t make them any less beautiful.

Case in point: Callie from my Reflection Pond series.

Early on, I knew that Callie would struggle with relationships, not only because she has a rocky past with the foster system, but also because she doesn’t know how to trust people. “Normal” is something she sees other people do. Something she attempts, and fails, to imitate. Think back to your younger days. How many times did you give into pressure and do something you didn’t want to do? And how many times did you regret it?

In the initial scene in Reflection Pond (Listen HERE), Callie stands up for herself by walking away from her boyfriend’s grabby hands. This can be interpreted in many ways depending on a reader’s experience and opinions (And I hope it is!). To me, this is Callie standing up for herself in the only way she knows how, by running away from things she can’t handle. This is a relationship milestone for her—only the first of many she’ll encounter as the story progresses.

But things are never going to be “normal” for Callie, no matter how many attempts she makes. She can kiss a boy and hate it. She can kiss a boy and maybe like it. That’s the beauty of attempting things. Callie is too inexperienced to know her own limitations, so she often finds herself emulating what she thinks others want her to do. She is a work in progress, as all characters should be. If she started out strong and perfect, it wouldn’t be a very exciting or rewarding journey.

Callie is a broken girl. Even so, broken things can be beautiful. As a writer, it’s so important for me to give her the room she needs to breathe and grow, and that may come at a pace that’s frustrating, for me, for readers, and for the other characters in the book. In the end, I’m going to make decisions based on what’s best and true for Callie as a character. She isn’t always going to make the right decision, or even the one that will make me (the writer) or you (the reader) happy. She’s frustrating. I’ll give her that, and she’s going to make mistakes.

What I hope in the deepest part of my writer heart is that readers take away the absolute uniqueness of Callie’s relationships, and realize that while they’re unconventional, they are still beautiful and exactly as they should be. They may not be what I (as a person) or you (as a person) would do, because not all of us have traveled the road Callie’s on, but I refuse to force Callie into a situation that she isn’t comfortable with for the sake of being labeled as traditional “romance”. That wouldn’t be fair to her as a character, and it certainly wouldn’t be fair to all of the women who’ve suffered emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, who are expected to do things they simply can’t. Despite popular belief, a man isn’t going to “erase your past” or “heal your scars” by having sex with you. Sorry Hollywood and sorry men.

You can like or not like Callie. I get a lot of in between opinions on her character. A reader has every right to make any judgment they want. But Callie will always hold a special place in my heart because her journey is so important to me and I want to do her (and the millions of women and girls like her) justice. She’s been the subject of many conversations with my critique group, both positive and negative. It’s not my job to make sure everyone likes a character—it’s my job to offer an experience that may differ from your own, and I’m so proud of Callie’s story. I think it makes people uncomfortable when I talk about things like abuse. They can’t relate to or understand Callie’s experience, so they hate her instead. And that’s totally okay. If writing doesn’t make us feel (something, anything), then what good is it?

I’ll end by saying that Callie’s relationships will continue to be unconventional, but I hope beyond hope that you’ll still find beauty and love in them, because everyone deserves to be loved for who they are. Even if they’re fucked up. Even if they’re abused. Even if they’ll never fall into any sort of “normal” category. Even if they can’t be categorized. Flaws are what make us special, and if I can help even one person see that, then this has all been worth it.

All the best,

Kacey

REFLECTION POND BLOG TOUR

Hosted by YA BOUND BOOK TOURS. They’re awesome, guys, and I’m so excited for this tour. Not only is Reflection Pond featured on dozens of AMAZING blogs, it’s free.

YEP. You read that right, FREE STARTING TODAY. For Kindle, February 2-6. Tell everyone you know. Want to steal a gif and announce it on Facebook or Twitter? Here you go!

Reflection Pond Free Ad

Want a teaser quote?

Reflection Pond Quote 1

Below is the tour schedule. A HUGE THANKS to YA Bound for setting this up.

February 2:

Mom With A Kindle – Promo Post

Musings In Fiction Alley – Review

The YA Club – Promo Post

Once Upon A Time A Review – Promo Post

Fangirl World –  Review

Seeing Double In Neverland – Promo Post

February 3:

kariny’s teen boox frenzy – Review

The Page Unbound – Review

Mythical Books – Promo Post

Sunshine Book Promotions – Promo Post

The Perks of Being a Book Girl – Review

Just Us Book Blog – Promo Post

February 4:

Addicted Readers – Promo Post

Star-Crossed Book Blog – Review

The Written Adventure – Promo Post

Between The Lines – Review

Books and Ashes – Review

February 5:

Clever Girls Read – Review

Pandora’s Opened Box – Review

Curling Up With A Good Book – Promo Post

The Book Rogue – Review

Lovely Reads – Review

February 6:

The Avid Reader – Promo Post

Book Butterfly in Dreamland – Review

Reader Girls – Promo Post

CBY Book Club – Promo Post

Kacey Vanderkarr

Originally posted on All The Way YA:

Why am I here?

Oh Lord. It’s the existential question everyone wants the answer to. Why am I here? Why are YOU here? We’re all here to learn about writing. The journey. The neurosis. My gift and my curse.

First lesson. Writers are dramatic.

Perhaps I should start with Who Am I?

I’m a self-proclaimed young adult author who occasionally toes the line into new adult and adult. Lines were meant to be crossed, after all. I love fantasy and sci-fi, but my short fiction tends to be contemporary. Perhaps you’ve heard of me, Kacey Vanderkarr. I’ll wait while you do the Google.

The long story is that I started writing seriously in 2009. I had a dream and my laptop. Magic happened. Well…to be honest, back then the things I wrote weren’t so magical. The next few years moved in fast-forward. I learned A LOT of things. Then, in…

View original 577 more words

MY BEST BOOKS OF 2014!

I set out to read 60 books this year, but fell short at 50. If I add in all the times I read my own manuscripts, I’ve read at least 100 books, so I’ll let it slide. I’ve compiled my favorite books of 2014 for your perusal. (Some of them were published before 2014. Whatever. Books don’t suddenly lose their readability because of their age!) A lot of them were continuations of a series (or the final books, SADNESS!). A lot of the books appear more than once on my list. What can I say? I like what I like.

I’ve got a pile started for 2015. What’s on your favorites list? Leave me a comment!

Top 5 Reads


1. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
2. The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Review HERE.)
3. Third Degree by Julie Cross (Loved, loved, loved this book! Review HERE.)
4. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (Review HERE.)
5. Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Romance (The kind with a plot. Don’t be crazy.)


1. Third Degree by Julie Cross
2. Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross (Cross writes non-skanky romance, and I love her for it.)
3. Making Faces by Amy Harmon (This book was SO good. Review HERE.)

Kick Ass Heroines


1. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (Clary. I <3 Clary.)
2. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (This book surprised me. The writing was AH-MAZING)
3. The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Books with Boys I Love


1. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (Jace. Magnus. Simon. I love boys.)
2. The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Noah. Sigh. I need more of him.)
3. Where She Went by Gayle Forman (Adam. Boys. In bands. Always bad news, haha.)

Books that Wrecked Me


1. Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander (Review HERE.)
2. How We Deal with Gravity by Ginger Scott (Review HERE.)
3. Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor (Heartbreaking! Review HERE.)

Something a Little Different


1. Lovely Vicious by Sara Wolf (Talk about snark! I loved the MC’s voice!)
2. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (Dark, beautiful writing.)
3. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Not your typical YA about a snowflake girl. Nice deviation from the norm.)