Ava Jae

Obsessive writer. Insatiable reader. Perfectionistic Artist.

Diversity 101: Gay in YA

cbcdiversity:

Contributed to CBC Diversity by Adam Silvera

When writing diverse books, we’re writing about choices—and the things we can’t choose. Harry Potter could have chosen not to go to Hogwarts, but spending the rest of his youth with the incorrigible Dursleys would’ve sucked for all involved—Harry, the Dursleys, and the readers who became readers because of the boy wizard. Katniss Everdeen didn’t have to volunteer as tribute in The Hunger Games in place of Prim, but life in District 12 was bleak enough without watching someone act like her younger sister’s name wasn’t announced for a battle to the death. There are choices characters—and people—make because the alternative is simply unspeakable. But then there are the ones who don’t have a choice at all. They don’t choose to be Latino, they don’t choose mental illness, they don’t choose their sexual orientation. Who gives them a voice? I, along with many others, volunteer as tribute.

Read More

(via weneeddiversebooks)

nowtrytherest:

Just remember: even if you can’t slay dragons and shoot fireballs from your hands, you can step over small objects in your path, and that makes you more badass than a lot of video game characters.

(via corinneduyvis)

Writability: Book Review: MAKE IT COUNT by Megan Erickson

Note: Don’t forget you have until Saturday, September 20 at 11:59PM to enter for a chance to win a first 250 critique here on Writability! 

So I know I’ve used the word “adorable” to describe a lot of NA reads as of late (especially the Contemporary Romances), but, well…I’m going to do it again. Because Make It Count by Megan Erickson is just that—super ridiculously adorable. And it was so very fun to read. 


Before I go on, as per usual, here’s the Goodreads summary:

“Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot? 

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close. 

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back… 

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.”

So Alec may actually be one of my favorite NA love interests ever—I mean, hot, nerdy beta male? SO much yes, please.

What’s great about Make It Count is not only is it a really fun, cute, light-hearted NA read, but Erickson also tackles a subject that really doesn’t get enough representation—learning disabilities. Not only that, but Erickson handles it really well—we see how a learning disability affects one of the characters (I won’t say who, but you can probably guess), as well as what stigmas are attached to it, which is something, I’ll admit, I hadn’t really thought much about before.

Also! I haven’t seen a whole lot of third person in NA, but if you like third person I so very highly recommend you pick up some of Erickson’s books—she has such a great (and super-NA appropriate and fun) third person voice that’s just as entertaining and real as any NA first person voice I’ve read and enjoyed.

My one peeve is I found Kat’s crippling lack of self-confidence a teensie bit annoying to read at times—however! That was a deliberate character development choice, and by no means ruined the reading for me in any way, and I would still (and do) recommend this one for anyone looking for a light, fun NA read, especially in third person.

So if you like Contemporary Romance and you haven’t yet checked out Make It Count, I recommend you do! And you may also want to check out Make It Right, which is now out, and I really need to get.

Writability: Fixing the First Page Giveaway 4!

It’s time! For another first page giveaway! Woot! *confetti*

The first page critiques have been fairly popular, so I’ll keep doing them as long as people keep entering. :)

For those who missed it the first time and second and third time, the Fixing the First Page features is a public first 250 word critique. Using the lovely rafflecopter widget, anyone interested in winning a PUBLIC (as in, featured in a post on this blog) first page critique can enter right here.

For an example of what this critique will look like, here’s the last Fixing the First Page post (and the one before that and the one before that).

Rules!

    • ONLY the first 250 words will be critiqued (up to finishing the sentence).If you win and send me more, I will crop it myself. No exceptions.
    • ONLY the first page. I don’t want 250 random words from your manuscript, or from chapter 3. If you win the critique and send me anything other than the first 250 words of your manuscript, I will choose someone else.

    • I will actually critique it. Here. On the blog. I will say things as nicely as I can, but I do tend to be a little blunt. If you’re not sure you can handle a public critique, then you may want to take some time to think about it before you enter.
    • Genre restrictions. I am most experienced with YA & NA, but I will still accept MG and Adult. HOWEVER. If your first page has any erotic content on it, I ask that you don’t enter. I want to be able to post the critique and the first 250 in its entirety without making anyone uncomfortable, and if you win and you enter a page with erotic content, I will choose someone else.

    • You must have your first page ready. Should you win, you need to be able to submit your first page within 48 hours of my contacting you to let you know you won. If 48 hours pass and I haven’t heard from you, again, I will choose someone else.
    • You’ll get the most out of this if it isn’t a first draft. Obviously, I have no way of knowing if you’re handing me a first draft (though I will probably suspect because it’s usually not that difficult to tell). I won’t refuse your page if it’s a first draft, but you should know that this critique will likely be of more use if you’ve already had your betas/CPs look over it. Why? Because if you don’t, the critique I give you will probably contain a lot of notes that your betas & CPs could have/would have told you

  • There will not be a round 2 (unless you win again in a future contest). I hate to have to say this, but if you win a critique, it’s NOT an invitation to send me a bunch of your revisions. I wish I had the time available to be able to look at revisions, but sadly, I don’t. If you try to break this rule, I will nicely say no, and also remember to choose someone else should you win a second contest. Which would make me sad. :(


So that’s it! If you’re okay with all of the above and would like to enter to be the fourth public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget in this link here. You have until Saturday, September 20 at 11:59 EST to enter!

Yay!

Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.

—Meg Cabot  (via fictionwritingtips)

(via yahighway)

Writability: 5 Hard Writing Truths

It’s been a while since I’ve done a writing truths post, so I figured now, as I eek out the last couple scenes of my latest WIP, would be as good a time as ever.

I’ve written about general writing truths and truths I wish I knew before I began writing. Now here are five hard writing truths, that may not be the most enjoyable to consider, but are true nevertheless (and thus, worth knowing, I think).

  1. Writing isn’t always fun. Recent example: I decided it’d be a good idea to draft two first drafts back to back, during a time that I’ve basically been busier than ever. (Spoiler alert: I was wrong). It usually takes me a month (or less) to get through a draft, and with both drafts combined I’ve been first drafting since…oh…beginning of June? Something like that. 

    Anyway, I finally finished yesterday (after writing this post), but it felt like forever for me. And I was tired. And there were many many days where the writing dragged, probably because I was a little burnt out, but the book wasn’t going to write itself and so I kept showing up. And sometimes (a lot of times, really) it wasn’t fun. But if your goal is to make a career out of your writing, then you need to learn to show up even when you don’t feel like it, even when you aren’t particularly inspired, even when you’re tired and would rather…not. 

    And you know what? Sometimes it starts off not fun, but as you get into the zone, it becomes fun. And even if it doesn’t, at least you’re progressing, which is always a pretty big plus. 

  2. Sometimes you won’t do anything wrong and your MS still won’t sell. Whether sell to you means getting an agent, getting a publishing contract or selling reasonably well in the self-publishing market, this still applies. 

    Sometimes, writers write really awesome books and they revise and revise and revise and the book is totally not the least bit bad but…it ends up trunked anyway. It happens. It happens a lot, unfortunately, whether because it wasn’t the right time, or the market just didn’t like it, or whatever the case may be, but it’s a reality of publishing.  

  3. A second job is (often) necessary. This applies to both self-pubbers and traditionally published authors. Most writers have to wait years after publishing their debut before they get enough steady income to be able to support themselves on just their writing. It often takes several published books and a lot of time to be able to establish yourself and get some consistent sales in. It’s not an easy thing to accept, particularly if your dream is to make a living just writing (which is the case for many many writers), but it’s the truth.

  4. So. Much. Stigma. If you write YA, you will face book snobbishness stigma. If you write NA, you will face book snobbishness stigma. If you write romance, you will face book snobbishness stigma (especially if you’re a woman). If you self-publish in any genre, or publish with a small press in any genre, you will face publishing snobbishness stigma. If you’re a woman who writes in a traditionally male genre (or a genre viewed as traditionally male) you will face sexist book snobbishness stigma. 

    It’s irritating. And infuriating. And completely unfair and needs to change. But it is, unfortunately, a very prevalent (and mostly unavoidable) issue.

  5. It never really gets any easier. A lot of times new writers have a tendency of thinking that once they get published, life will be sugar rainbows and rose petals. You’ll get into the swing of things, make some money, start publishing book after book like a dream come true. 

    I’m not yet published, but judging from the experience of authors way more experienced than myself (like, say, Sarah Dessen), this is pretty far from the truth. (By the way, that Dessen link? You should read it. It’s a post written by Dessen about recovering after trunking a novel, because even multi-published authors face writing struggles).

    The kind of great thing about writing (and also difficult thing) is there’s always more to learn. Writers never really reach a point of mastery where the words come permanently easier and they can confidently proceed into every book with full confidence that it’ll be awesome and published. There’s always self-doubt, there’s always a struggle, there’s always more to learn and while writers do eventually learn what routines and tools and strategies work for them, writing itself doesn’t really ever get any easier. 

    And you know? I think it’s kind of okay. Because yes, it’s hard, and yes, it’ll continue to be hard, but to me, the struggle makes the end result that much more rewarding. 


What hard writing truths would you add to the list?

So I got this comment on my blog post on why pirating books is harmful to authors.

anobscureaspirant:

avajae:

walterwhitesdisgustedface:

avajae:

image

And I feel this is important to discuss, so I’m going to share my answer with you guys (also, to see the post that precipitated that comment, you can go here): 

So while I am well aware there are many writers who defend the option of giving away their books for free, (usually for marketing purposes, because this can be an effective way to bring attention to a book or backlist), I suspect most of these would agree that whether or not to give away a book for free should be the author’s choice. And when a book is illegally downloaded, that choice is taken away from them.

Here’s the thing—I know money can be an issue when it comes to book buying, but that’s why there are libraries. And if someone doesn’t have the time to go to a library, then they can see if their library has e-book rentals, which is becoming more popular. Or they can buy the book online, via Amazon, B&N, Smashwords or elsewhere. If they don’t have the resources or the money to go to a library, they still can see if their library has e-book rentals, which are free and available for (legally) downloading right from your home computer for a limited time.

This also applies to people too ill or too young to go out and get a book—there are plenty of legal online resources available to them, whether through free library e-book rentals or paying for the e-book.

If someone unfortunately doesn’t have the ability to go to a library (or their library doesn’t have e-book rentals), and they don’t have the money to buy a book or e-book, then I’m afraid they can’t get the book. Period.

The thing is, we’re not entitled to other people’s hard work for free. I’m not entitled to a free doctor’s visit, even when the appointments become difficult to pay for and I need to see a doctor (it doesn’t work that way in the US); I’m not entitled to a movie for free, or a TV show for free if it hasn’t been willingly shared for free by its creators; I’m not entitled to free makeup or free clothes (though wouldn’t that be nice?); hell, I’m not even entitled to free food—and we kind of need that to live.

People put in months or even years worth of time and hard work to get the best book available to us (and in the case of self-publishers, a lot of money, too)—and I am absolutely not entitled to steal their work, even if I can’t make it to a library, even if my library doesn’t allow for e-book rentals, even if I can’t afford to buy the book whether online or in the store. Pirating books is taking hard-earned money directly out of an author’s pocket, and it’s something I refuse to do or endorse regardless of the ifs or buts.

There’s no excuse for stealing from an author. If you can’t afford their book, then I’m sorry, you can’t afford their book, but the least you can do is respect them enough to wait until you can afford to go to a library or a bookstore to get their book through legal channels.

No excuses. No maybes. If an author has opted not to share their book for free, it’s well within their rights to do so, and as readers, we ought to respect that.

I agree with this for the most part except the paragraphs regarding entitlement bother me. Of course we aren’t entitled, but then that suggests that only people who have access to resources should get the benefit of art.

I think about some of the kids I have worked with while tutoring: those who relied on public transit, had multiple siblings, and lived around the poverty line. Their school grades reflected this, specifically their reading scores. If a child can’t read they can’t do math or science or social studies, let alone their language class. If they can’t read, how can they learn to think critically?***

Of course people who put years of effort into a novel should expect to be paid for it. But how do we help those who have no way of obtaining access to it? I think OP is forgetting social class and wealth really do matter. Because if we take the view point that only those who have the luxury of internet access and disposable income to pay for books, well in essence we are saying that a lot of minority communities - who when compared to white communities have lower income - should not be able to read.

I don’t think that’s what OP means, but when we start talking about entitlement…be careful


***you don’t technically need to be able to read to understand mathematical or scientific concepts and critical thinking can be developed independent of reading skills! but all in all I would say being able to read is a huge leg up in those areas

That’s a fair point. I actually meant to include something about school libraries (which are accessible to most communities, though I’ll absolutely grant that some are better stocked than others) being a great resource for kids who don’t have access (or funds) available to them to buy books. There are also audiobooks for people who have more difficulty with reading, which again are available in libraries, which are a free resource. 

Naturally, I think everyone should have access to art, and books, and I definitely agree that that level of access varies across social classes. You’re totally right that I didn’t mean minorities or low-income communities shouldn’t have access, if anything, I think it’s a great argument for why libraries are so very important across the board. 

So how can we help? I think supporting libraries is a great start, especially in economically disadvantaged communities. Anyone have any other suggestions?

Or, and I’m sure there are some things like this already, but start or support/promote an online library dedicated specifically to allowing people to borrow e-books for free from their home. And to do so, I just googled, so I’ll give a few links: 

  • OverDrive - this is an app that allows you to borrow e-books, audiobooks and videos from your library (and it’s connected to thousands of libraries) without ever leaving your home or paying any money.
  • World Public Library - “the world’s largest aggregator of eBooks”
  • MobileRead Wiki has a list of tons of sites which allow legal download of eBooks

These are all free and easily accessible, unless, I suppose, you don’t have internet, a laptop or another device, but that would make eBooks difficult to download even illegally. 

Perfect! These are great suggestions. Thank you! 

So I got this comment on my blog post on why pirating books is harmful to authors.

walterwhitesdisgustedface:

avajae:

image

And I feel this is important to discuss, so I’m going to share my answer with you guys (also, to see the post that precipitated that comment, you can go here): 

So while I am well aware there are many writers who defend the option of giving away their books for free, (usually for marketing purposes, because this can be an effective way to bring attention to a book or backlist), I suspect most of these would agree that whether or not to give away a book for free should be the author’s choice. And when a book is illegally downloaded, that choice is taken away from them.

Here’s the thing—I know money can be an issue when it comes to book buying, but that’s why there are libraries. And if someone doesn’t have the time to go to a library, then they can see if their library has e-book rentals, which is becoming more popular. Or they can buy the book online, via Amazon, B&N, Smashwords or elsewhere. If they don’t have the resources or the money to go to a library, they still can see if their library has e-book rentals, which are free and available for (legally) downloading right from your home computer for a limited time.

This also applies to people too ill or too young to go out and get a book—there are plenty of legal online resources available to them, whether through free library e-book rentals or paying for the e-book.

If someone unfortunately doesn’t have the ability to go to a library (or their library doesn’t have e-book rentals), and they don’t have the money to buy a book or e-book, then I’m afraid they can’t get the book. Period.

The thing is, we’re not entitled to other people’s hard work for free. I’m not entitled to a free doctor’s visit, even when the appointments become difficult to pay for and I need to see a doctor (it doesn’t work that way in the US); I’m not entitled to a movie for free, or a TV show for free if it hasn’t been willingly shared for free by its creators; I’m not entitled to free makeup or free clothes (though wouldn’t that be nice?); hell, I’m not even entitled to free food—and we kind of need that to live.

People put in months or even years worth of time and hard work to get the best book available to us (and in the case of self-publishers, a lot of money, too)—and I am absolutely not entitled to steal their work, even if I can’t make it to a library, even if my library doesn’t allow for e-book rentals, even if I can’t afford to buy the book whether online or in the store. Pirating books is taking hard-earned money directly out of an author’s pocket, and it’s something I refuse to do or endorse regardless of the ifs or buts.

There’s no excuse for stealing from an author. If you can’t afford their book, then I’m sorry, you can’t afford their book, but the least you can do is respect them enough to wait until you can afford to go to a library or a bookstore to get their book through legal channels.

No excuses. No maybes. If an author has opted not to share their book for free, it’s well within their rights to do so, and as readers, we ought to respect that.

I agree with this for the most part except the paragraphs regarding entitlement bother me. Of course we aren’t entitled, but then that suggests that only people who have access to resources should get the benefit of art.

I think about some of the kids I have worked with while tutoring: those who relied on public transit, had multiple siblings, and lived around the poverty line. Their school grades reflected this, specifically their reading scores. If a child can’t read they can’t do math or science or social studies, let alone their language class. If they can’t read, how can they learn to think critically?***

Of course people who put years of effort into a novel should expect to be paid for it. But how do we help those who have no way of obtaining access to it? I think OP is forgetting social class and wealth really do matter. Because if we take the view point that only those who have the luxury of internet access and disposable income to pay for books, well in essence we are saying that a lot of minority communities - who when compared to white communities have lower income - should not be able to read.

I don’t think that’s what OP means, but when we start talking about entitlement…be careful


***you don’t technically need to be able to read to understand mathematical or scientific concepts and critical thinking can be developed independent of reading skills! but all in all I would say being able to read is a huge leg up in those areas

That’s a fair point. I actually meant to include something about school libraries (which are accessible to most communities, though I’ll absolutely grant that some are better stocked than others) being a great resource for kids who don’t have access (or funds) available to them to buy books. There are also audiobooks for people who have more difficulty with reading, which again are available in libraries, which are a free resource. 

Naturally, I think everyone should have access to art, and books, and I definitely agree that that level of access varies across social classes. You’re totally right that I didn’t mean minorities or low-income communities shouldn’t have access, if anything, I think it’s a great argument for why libraries are so very important across the board. 

So how can we help? I think supporting libraries is a great start, especially in economically disadvantaged communities. Anyone have any other suggestions?

So I got this comment on my blog post on why pirating books is harmful to authors.

image

And I feel this is important to discuss, so I’m going to share my answer with you guys (also, to see the post that precipitated that comment, you can go here): 

So while I am well aware there are many writers who defend the option of giving away their books for free, (usually for marketing purposes, because this can be an effective way to bring attention to a book or backlist), I suspect most of these would agree that whether or not to give away a book for free should be the author’s choice. And when a book is illegally downloaded, that choice is taken away from them.

Here’s the thing—I know money can be an issue when it comes to book buying, but that’s why there are libraries. And if someone doesn’t have the time to go to a library, then they can see if their library has e-book rentals, which is becoming more popular. Or they can buy the book online, via Amazon, B&N, Smashwords or elsewhere. If they don’t have the resources or the money to go to a library, they still can see if their library has e-book rentals, which are free and available for (legally) downloading right from your home computer for a limited time.

This also applies to people too ill or too young to go out and get a book—there are plenty of legal online resources available to them, whether through free library e-book rentals or paying for the e-book.

If someone unfortunately doesn’t have the ability to go to a library (or their library doesn’t have e-book rentals), and they don’t have the money to buy a book or e-book, then I’m afraid they can’t get the book. Period.

The thing is, we’re not entitled to other people’s hard work for free. I’m not entitled to a free doctor’s visit, even when the appointments become difficult to pay for and I need to see a doctor (it doesn’t work that way in the US); I’m not entitled to a movie for free, or a TV show for free if it hasn’t been willingly shared for free by its creators; I’m not entitled to free makeup or free clothes (though wouldn’t that be nice?); hell, I’m not even entitled to free food—and we kind of need that to live.

People put in months or even years worth of time and hard work to get the best book available to us (and in the case of self-publishers, a lot of money, too)—and I am absolutely not entitled to steal their work, even if I can’t make it to a library, even if my library doesn’t allow for e-book rentals, even if I can’t afford to buy the book whether online or in the store. Pirating books is taking hard-earned money directly out of an author’s pocket, and it’s something I refuse to do or endorse regardless of the ifs or buts.

There’s no excuse for stealing from an author. If you can’t afford their book, then I’m sorry, you can’t afford their book, but the least you can do is respect them enough to wait until you can afford to go to a library or a bookstore to get their book through legal channels.

No excuses. No maybes. If an author has opted not to share their book for free, it’s well within their rights to do so, and as readers, we ought to respect that.

sjaejones:

tamorapierce:

18mr:

“When thinking of iconic romance, ask yourself if any imagery (paintings, photographs, film-stills) comes to mind that is not showing heterosexual couples? Probably not,” says photographer Braden Summers of his photo series of everyday gay and lesbian couples from around the globe.

[x]

Makes me all mushy …

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous

(via corinneduyvis)