Cuz We Write: The Remix

Writing Song of the Day: “The Phoenix” by Fall Out Boy

Taken from Forbes.com

This seems vaguely familiar, huh? Don’t adjust your blog roll…wait, is it even still called that?

Anyway, WE’RE BACK! And we’re all changed and new and shiny. We’re ready to get back into this blogging thing and keep you guys up-to-date on our lives because we know you care.

We’re so close to 2014 and with that in mind, we’ve been remixing our lives since last spring. How so? Well, if you really wanna know…

  • We left our former jobs! That’s right, we got out of the classroom and the school building. We’re both working on doctoral degrees (Pam full time at The College of William and Mary, Quita part time at Old Dominion University–shifting to The George Washington University) and Quita took a promotion to work in a school system’s administrative offices. 
  • We changed our eating habits–once again. All summer, and throughout the fall, we tried eating clean. It worked well at first (we both lost around 7-8 pounds) and then we gained all of that weight back. Something wasn’t clicking so we’ve gone back to a low carb lifestyle. So far, so good.
  • AND, did you see our new banner? Yeah, that was created by our second sistah from another mistah, Natalie Henry (recently featured The Huffington Posted for a Hunger Games themed wedding–ahhh!) and it’s perfect for our newly remixed minds.
  • Finally (and this is one we wanted to tell you about a month ago) we rewrote both of our very first novels for NaNoWriMo this year. Pam worked on a new version of WANTS to get to know her characters again and Quita revisited a novel set in the 1960s called CHASING MANSON (a novel adaptation of a screenplay we actually wrote together). 

Whew! That’s a lot of changes…Oh! And another big one–we moved for the SECOND time within four months. We just can’t stay settled. Who knows, in a few months we may be updating you all on more changes.

So there you have it. All of our changes. What have you remixed in your life lately?

S is for…Sex (or Shudder) in YA

Controversial Song of the Day:  “I Just Had Sex” by The Lonely Island ftg Akon

For the entire month of April, we’ll be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Our theme for the month? CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN YA. Check out the link above for other awesome blogs participating.


Taken from wallpapersup.net
The “S” word. We’ve hit some heavy topics over the past few weeks, but sexual content in YA is probably the issue that most gets critics up in arms. And for good reason.
 

Neither Quita nor I are parents yet, but we have a niece who’s an avid reader. And she’s also tall and gorgeous and recently started dating. Before Gorgeous Niece reached dating age, we had no qualms about including sex in our manuscripts. In fact, there were some areas in my manuscript, Wants, that got a bit too hot and heavy–to the point where I had to simmer down the scenes during revisions. I didn’t get what the big deal was–until Gorgeous Niece got her first boyfriend.
 
Don’t get me wrong. Quita and I aren’t prudes now–and we definitely trust our niece enough to know that she’s not going to run out and do EVERYTHING our characters do–but unless you’re writing YA erotica, there has to be some tact in handling these moments. And these moments SHOULD be there, depending on your characters (come on, most teens DO think about sex), but you have to think about your audience. Your novel may not ever reach teens if you give a play-by-play of what goes on between the sheets. Quite honestly, most adults don’t even want to read anything too graphic.
 
With that said, here are some YA novels that handle sex in varying degrees:

How comfortable are you with writing sex scenes in your novels? With that said, how comfortable are you with READING sex scenes (or allowing your teenager to read them?)?

L is for…LGBTQ

Controversial Song of the Day:  “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry

For the entire month of April, we’ll be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Our theme for the month? CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN YA. Check out the link above for other awesome blogs participating.


Taken from delireum.deviantart.com
So one day, Quita and I went to the movies (which could be ANY day because, well, we love movies). I was waiting for Quita to get some popcorn when in walked this lovely lesbian couple. They came in, holding hands and clearly in love (you could tell by the way they kept smiling at each other). After one of the employees took their tickets, he then proceeded to laugh loudly and call his co-workers. All of them laughed and pointed at the ladies, and then had the nerve to look at Quita and me to see if we, too, would join in with the taunting.

 
We never took another step in that theater.
 

LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning) issues in YA have always been important to me. In fact, I wrote guest posts about this topic in detail on both YA Highway and Elizabeth Scott’s blog. The manuscript that landed me Sarah LaPolla as an agent was all about girls who find out their respective boyfriends are in love with each other. The contemporary YA I just finished revising is all about my male narrator developing feelings for his school’s most vocal lesbian. Quita even makes sure to include LGBTQ characters in her stories, as well.
 

Why do we do this? The same reason we write about black characters, and white characters, and biracial characters, and overweight characters, and characters with illnesses and disabilities.

 

Because they’re real.
 

We like to write about real people. So we’ll keep plotting “coming out” stories (which, I’m sorry, there’s NEVER enough of), or tales where we just happen to have a bisexual character because we’re being authentic. And here are a few novels that feature LGBTQ characters:

Do you all include LGBTQ characters in your own writing? What are some of your favorite novels that feature LGBTQ characters?

E is for…Eating Disorders

Controversial Song of the Day: “Eet” by Regina Spektor


For the entire month of April, we’ll be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Our theme for the month? CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN YA. Check out the link above for other awesome blogs participating.



We all have to eat. Some of us enjoy doing it so much that we create our daily schedules based on our meals *coughs* Pam and Quita *coughs*. But believe it or not, there are several people who don’t partake in the pleasures and joy of food and eating like others. These are the people that we identify as having an eating disorder. There are various types of eating disorders; however, Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa, and Binge-eating disorder are the most common. (taken from a Bing article sponsored by MayoClinic.com)



Did you know…?


*Anorexia nervosa is estimated to affect 1 in 100 adolescent girls


*The approximate age when young girls become anorexic is 13.75, and the range is 10 to 25 years old


*About 6% of girls between 13-19 are thought to have Bulimia nervosa


*76% of people with eating disorders began their disorder between 11 to 20 years of age.


Statistics taken from: teeneatingdisorders.us and teenhelp.com

The numbers may not be as shocking as some of the other stats we’ve given you this week, but in my opinion even 1% of the population being afflicted with an eating disorder is more than enough. These stats show that eating disorders exist and there are people who suffer from it–which means authors should not be afraid to write about it.

In Pam’s novel, Wants, one of her characters suffers from a slight eating disorder. Her teen character is a dancer, with pressure from her mother to be the perfect size. As educators, we are all to aware of teen girls feeling pressure to look like the “perfect” women they see on TV and in magazines. We need writers, like Pam, to put a face to eating disorders, make teens aware that there are people who suffer just like them, and give them possible solutions to this growing problem.

So, while we wait to thumb through Wants, what other novels can you read that shine a light on eating disorders?

*Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

*More Than You Can Chew by Marnelle Tokio

*Skinny by Ibi Kaslik

*Perfect by Natasha Friend

*Kim: Empty Inside: The Diary of an Anonymous Teenager by Beatrice Sparks

What do you all think about eating disorders in YA–is it something that definitely should continue to be discussed? Did we miss a book that we should have on this list?


D is for…Drinking

Controversial Song of the Day: “Drank in my Cup” by Kirko Bangz


For the entire month of April, we’ll be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Our theme for the month? CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN YA. Check out the link above for other awesome blogs participating.



DRINKING. Something that most of us probably indulged in before we were 21–yet, we act surprised to hear that today’s teens are guzzling alcohol like it’s soda.


Did you know…?


*Nearly 72% of students have consumed alcohol by the end of high school; 37% have done so by eighth grade


*56.2% of underage drinkers report that they drank in someone else’s home; 29.6% reported that it occurred in their own home.


*During the past month 26.4 % of teenagers drank alcohol and among them 17.4 % participated in binge drinking


Statistics taken from: http://www.sadd.org/stats.htm

As Pam mentioned in Sunday’s post about addiction, the bad rap that YA gets from critics is largely based on drug use and alcohol consumption. However, YA writers create worlds that teen readers will relate to. Contemporary writers have to produce material that is accurate and reflects the culture that we live in. Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the statistics above, alcohol consumption among teens is normal.

We both work with pre-teens and teenagers and we hear rumors about parties where alcohol was the star. In schools across America, students are getting suspended from bringing alcohol TO the building! It’s happening, people!

So, as writers we keep it real. In our novels, there is drinking. In Pam’s novel Wants, a character’s band plays at a club with a bar where a friendly bartender gives him a break. In her second novel, Project J, her main character gets associated with beer through an awkward keg stand. It’s sad to say…these things happen!

There are several novels where drinking happens (probably most contemporary YA novels to be frank), but here are a few where drinking plays a central role:

*Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

*Party by Tom Leveen

*So, Save Me by Kim Mitchell

*Freaked by J.T. Dutton

What do you all think about drinking in YA? Is it necessary or is it something that can be left out? Speaking of being “left out”…got any books to add to our list?

A Writer’s Guide to A Day Off

Writing Song of the Day: “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars

Yesterday was MLK day and not only is it a day to celebrate the legacy of a wonderful man, but it was also time that we got to stay home from the day jobs. Which made us think: How SHOULD a writer spend an entire day off from their day job?

Notice the word “SHOULD“. We actually spent our day at the dentist, working on stuff for part time jobs, and driving around Virginia Beach/Norfolk, VA. If we had our way though, these are the top five things (in no particular order) that we would’ve done with our day off:

1.) Sleep: You can never get enough of this. And sometimes, writers get a lot of ideas from their dreams. *coughs* Wants *coughs*

2.) Play on Scrivener/Outline New WIP Ideas: Scrivener is full of amazing. And we’re getting a lot of outlining done on new WIPs with this program. All we need is the time to actually use it more.

3.) Revise previous manuscripts: The work doesn’t cease after getting an agent. We both have revisions to work on with In Limbo & Project J.


4.) Read: We’re pretty sure this doesn’t need an explanation.

5.) Watch TV/Listen to Music for Inspiration: Believe it or not, we get a lot of ideas from watching TV shows and movies. Also music helps us get into our characters’ heads and allows their voices to come out on the page. It may seem like we’re wasting time–but no matter what we’re doing, we’re always thinking like writers.

What do you think? Is there something else a writer should do when they have time off from the day job??


Psst…hey, you…yes, you. Make sure you stop by our blog Thursday January 19th. Susan Dennard is guest posting and you can enter for another chance to read her ARC of Something Strange and Deadly. Check out Holly’s post from yesterday for more details!

Our 2012 Writing Resolutions!!

Writing Song of the Day: “The New Year” by Death Cab for Cutie

Okay, we get it…we’re about 5 days late in making New Years Resolutions, but we figure better late than never, right?

This time last year, we created 2011 Writing Resolutions (check those out here). This year, we decided to see if we met those goals while including ones for this year. Make sense? Yeah, not really, but we’ll take a stab at it anyway.

Pam’s Writing Resolutions:

1. Last Year: Revise the ending of Wants.
This Year: Done and done. Well, for now anyhow. Unless an awesome editor believes it needs more work. 😉

2. Last Year: Complete my 2nd YA manuscript and send to beta readers in the Spring.
This Year: Well, I did complete Project J, but it was a little later than usual. Either way, my lovely beta readers helped me get it all nice and pretty to send to my agent. Woo hoo!

3. Last Year: Revise my supernatural YA WIP (my 2010 NaNo project).
This Year: Yeah…that didn’t happen. HOWEVER, I did recently read it and it has way more potential than I initially thought. Since I won the Scrivener program, I think I may play around with this story a little this year and see if I can make it shine.

4. Last Year: Outline my 3rd contemporary YA novel.
This Year: Umm, I KILLED this goal. Not only did I write the first draft of another contemporary novel for NaNo 2011, but I also just started outlining my 4th idea. Boo yeah! This year, I’d like to revise the NaNo novel, and finish the 1st draft of the 4th idea. 🙂

5. Last Year: Write at least 500 words a day.
This Year: Yeah…that didn’t happen. However, this year, I’d like to write at least 3 times a week…even if I’m just jotting down ideas or creating character worksheets. I usually kick writing-butt during my summer vacay, too.

6. Last Year: Read at least 2 YA novels a month.
This Year: Okay, that didn’t happen either. This year, I’d like to read all of the books I put on my 2012 Debut Author Challenge list, and a handful of sequels that I’m anticipating (I’m looking at you, Insurgent).

7. Last Year: Read 6 adult fiction novels.
This Year: Nah, I think I failed this one, too. This year, I’d like to read at least 3.

8. Last Year: Get a book deal.
This Year: Well, no announcements yet, but I have a great agent and some awesome beta readers in my corner. I’m WAY more optimistic this year compared to last year, so we’ll see. 🙂

Quita’s Writing Resolutions:

1. Last Year: Complete my 1st contemporary YA WIP by February.
This Year: Boo yeah! I annihilated that one. I completed the novel around the spring of 2011–close enough to February, right?? This year I plan to finish the first draft of my new historical.

2. Last Year: Nab an agent with my historical YA, In Limbo.
This Year: Right before the year ended, I did just that!! And now we’re gonna work on the book proposal and see if we can get me one of them book deals!

3. Last Year: Revise my supernatural YA novel by April.
This Year: Nope–no such luck. BUT I do plan to revise this (it was my NaNo 2010 novel) by the end of spring this year. After reading through it, it’s not that bad actually.

4. Last Year: Complete me and Pam’s YA idea inspired by Inception.
This Year: Nope. That didn’t happen either. Neither one of us has had the time. BUT I hope we can revisit it at some point this year.

5. Last Year: Read more historical YA.
This Year: Hmmm, I think I read a total of three historical YA novels. Yeah, I need to work on that. Maybe I’ll give myself an actual goal this year…I will try and read at least 5 historical YAs before the end of 2012.

6. Last Year: Read more adult fiction.
This Year: Didn’t do this one, either. I will try and get more in this year, though–definitely. At least 2 or 3.

7. Last Year: Plot a new WIP by early June so that I can finish a draft over the summer.
This Year: This didn’t happen either. I was too busy revising my other novels in order to complete # 2 🙂 But I’m already outlining a new historical and I plan to revise my contemp NaNo from 2011.

8. Last Year: Write SOMETHING each day.
This Year: Yeah, right. With a full time job and two part time jobs–not gonna happen. But like Pam said, writing something at least 3 times a week will work. Even if it’s a quick short story or a scene for a new idea.

9. Last Year: A book deal.
This Year: Uh, no–but see # 2!

Whew, that was a lot! Have you all set any writing goals for this year yet?