Ava Jae

Obsessive writer. Insatiable reader. Perfectionistic Artist.

I’m celebrating two million page views and a lot of other milestones with a ginormous book party at http://www.AdventuresInYAPublishing.com! Win twenty prize packs including thirty-eight different books or series, including wonderful books by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Holly Black, Anne Blankman, Libba Bray, Sarah Rees Brennan, Rae Carson, Kresley Cole, Leah Cypess, Kimberly Derting, Lisa Gail Green, S.E. Green, Wendy Higgins, Rosamund Hodge, Clara Kensie, Kimberley Griffiths Little, Marie Rutkoski, Maggie Stiefvater, Laini Taylor, Kat Zhang and more!
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I’m celebrating two million page views and a lot of other milestones with a ginormous book party at http://www.AdventuresInYAPublishing.com! Win twenty prize packs including thirty-eight different books or series, including wonderful books by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Holly Black, Anne Blankman, Libba Bray, Sarah Rees Brennan, Rae Carson, Kresley Cole, Leah Cypess, Kimberly Derting, Lisa Gail Green, S.E. Green, Wendy Higgins, Rosamund Hodge, Clara Kensie, Kimberley Griffiths Little, Marie Rutkoski, Maggie Stiefvater, Laini Taylor, Kat Zhang and more!

(via onefourkidlit)

writejenwrite asked: Thank you, thank you for that post on where to find critique partners! I've really struggled with this and really appreciate the tips on sites to check out and make that connection with other writers.

You’re so very welcome! I’m really happy to hear it helped! :) 

Writability: A Note to New Writers

Deciding you want to be a writer is scary. It’s also exciting, depending on the day of the week, and difficult, and fun and sometimes overwhelming. On especially interesting days, it’ll be all five.

I often get e-mails from new writers asking for tips—something to help them write their book, whether they’ve just started, haven’t started, have tried and failed to finish several times, or are just stuck with a particularly challenging WIP. So I’m going to share with you the advice I repeat most often: finish the book. 

IMO, the first book is the hardest to finish. It’s the one where you fight the most doubts about your ability to finish a novel, where you haven’t yet figured out the process that works best for you, where you question whether or not you’re really an actual writer. (Those doubts, struggles and questions never really go away, but they’re often the loudest when writing that first ever book).

Finishing a book isn’t easy. There are going to be days when you seriously doubt your ability to reach the end. There will be days when you think your writing completely sucks, days when you hate your characters or your plot or you think your dialogue is stupid. There will be days when you start to wonder if maybe you should give up and try something else.

Don’t give up. Don’t stop. Don’t look back.

The truth is, your first draft will probably suck. Many published writers will tell you that their first drafts are laughably bad, but here’s the thing to remember: it doesn’t matter. The first draft isn’t about getting it right, it’s about getting it done. That’s it.

Next, you need to be readingThis isn’t optional. Read the popular and obscure, read whatever you can get your hands on, and most importantly,read the genre and category that you’re writing in. You need to know what’s out there in order to be able to write a book that’ll fit on the shelf. Not only that, but you’ll discover so much when reading—for example, I never would have learned how much I love dual-POV novels or Sci-Fi if I hadn’t read Beth Revis’s Across the Universe.

Read read read read read. You won’t regret the time you take to keep aware of what’s on the market (but I promise you, you will regret it if you skip this step).

Now you’re writing and reading. Awesome. The next thing you need to accept is you have to edit. A lot.

One of the best things I’ve done for my career thus far is to learn to love to edit. That’s right—I didn’t always love it, in fact, I kind of skimped on it with my first couple WIPs (learn from my mistakes, writers: do not skimp).

But even if you don’t learn to love to edit, you need to accept that it’s going to be a part of your life if writing is truly what you want to do. And yes, for those of you editing while first drafting, you will still have to edit again. Most likely several times.

Related to this note, you need critique partners that aren’t close friends or relatives. You need feedback from other writers, and not only that, you need the experience of critiquing someone else’s work. Make the effort to find some good critique partners, because they are truly invaluable to the writing process.

The next unfortunate truth is you’re going to get rejectedThis doesn’t apply to just new writers—you’ll face rejection throughout your career, regardless of where you’re at. You’ll be rejected by agents, by editors and by negative reviews.You’ll learn the difference between a form rejection and a personalized rejection (and you’ll learn that personalized rejections are a thing to be cherished).

You may hear a lot of no’s for many many years before you hear your first yes (for me, it took eight years to hear the yes that landed me an agent). You may have to trunk manuscripts and write book after book that you then have to put away, but I promise you, this is normal and it’s okay. It’s not a waste of time—you’re learning and growing and beginning to get a feel for the tough part of the writing life.

The good news is this: the writing community is wonderful. I can’t encourage you enough to get involved—start a Twitter and follow other writers, read writing blogs, check out forums, whatever you have to. The writing community is full of people in all stages of their journey, people who understand the rejection and the tough days when you want to give up on this writing dream. People who are there to help you when they can and encourage you when you’re feeling down. People who will dance with you when good things happen and beam when you share good news.

If you don’t listen to anything I’ve written, please please please do this:get involved with the writing community. You’ll learn so much from that alone.

Finally, know that you are, actually, a writerIt doesn’t matter if you don’t have an agent, or a book contract, or a published book. It doesn’t matter if you don’t write every day, or you’re not getting paid, or no one knows your name. If you write and you love to write, you’re a writer. Embrace it. Love it. Live it.

Oh look!

I have 505 followers! 

Thank you so much, lovely followers! You’re all insanely awesome. <3

You will be stupid. You will worry your parents. You will question your own choices, your relationships, your jobs, your friends, where you live, what you studied in college, that you went to college at all… If that happens, you’re doing it right.

—Ira Glass (via stay-ocean-minded)

(Source: wordsthat-speak, via yahighway)

Writability: How to Write a Great Antagonist

So while working on my last couple manuscripts, I’ve been thinking a lot about antagonists. Specifically, on antagonists that I really actually love.

I already wrote a post listing my top five favorite antagonists (spoiler: they include the fabulousness that is the Darkling, Warner, Khan, Moriarty and the Graceling baddie), but as a writer, I’ve known for a while that I wanted to write antagonists that I cared about just as much as I did the protagonist.

Happily, I’ve started to work toward exactly that, and I’ve been picking up a couple tips along the way:

  1. Get to know them (and love them) first. This, by far, has been the biggest help to me in writing antagonists I care about. By thinking of them as characters first, rather than the evil force that makes my protagonist’s life difficult, I’ve been able to connect with them better in the brainstorming stages, so that when they arrive on the page, I don’t see them strictly as the evil obstacle.

  2. Understand their motivation. The thing about the antagonist, is most times, they don’t think they’re doing the wrong thing (or if they recognize what they’re doing is wrong, they have a way to justify it to themselves). 

    Very few people do evil for the sake of doing evil. The choices they make are based on beliefs, experiences and some kind of worldview that shapes their way of thinking and ultimately influences their decisions. By understanding why your antagonist does the things he (or she) does—and even better, why he thinks what he’s doing is the right choice—your antagonist will turn out to be a much more interesting and developed character, than they would have otherwise.

  3. Make them sympathetic (or at least understandable/relatable). This is related to the last point, but not entirely the same. Lately I’ve been thinking about what my antagonists’ lives are like off-screen (or off the page). Who do they care about? What do they like to do? What are they afraid of? What do they dream about? What secrets do they hold dear to them? Even if most of this information never comes up in your manuscript, knowing the bigger picture of your antagonists’ lives can give you plenty of opportunity to make them a little more relatable or human, so that the readers don’t view them as just the opposing force. 

  4. Make them formidable. There are few things more disappointing than an awesome bad guy who is easily defeated. You antagonist should be a major obstacle for your protagonist—the hero of your story should struggle to overcome him. In order for us to truly appreciate the protagonists victory, his journey there has to be a struggle, and the moment that your protagonist fights the antagonist should be a battle that won’t easily be forgotten. 

  5. Avoid the clichés. Basically, everything in that linked post is what you should avoid if you want your antagonist to be taken seriously. Evil monologues, twirling mustaches and maniacal laughter are best saved for the corny movies. 

So those are my tips for writing a great antagonist, now I want to hear from you: What tips do you have for writing awesome baddies? 

Don’t forget, you can win a first 250 word critique to be featured on Writability by entering in THIS LINKED POST until 4/19/14 at midnight EST!

Writability: Fixing the First Page Feature Giveaway!

So way back when I wrote a post on first page clichés, one of you lovely readers asked if I’d consider starting a public first page critique thing. And I’ve considered it and decided it might be fun.

So! Depending on how popular this feature is, I’ll be doing a public first 250 word critique every once in a while. 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. Some things to note:

    • 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 first ever public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget in THIS LINKED POST. You have until Saturday at midnight EST to enter!


bookishkorner asked: So, I'm trying to write stories thinking about becoming an author as my profession. I was wondering if there's any tips or anything you would have :)


1. Keep writing. Write a lot. Don’t be afraid to rewrite, or to throw something away when it’s not working. And finish a first draft. (It will do wonders for your confidence.) 

2. Read everything. Bestsellers, award-winners, and anything that looks interesting to you. Read outside your comfort zone in other genres to see what’s going on there. Absorb knowledge.

3. Learn to love criticism — getting it and giving it. Getting feedback on your stories is great, but learning to give smart, thoughtful comments on others’ work is an invaluable skill. Not only will you help others, you’ll help yourself be smarter about your own writing. 

4. Go out and live. Do stuff. Meet people. See things. 



heeeeey this blog has a feature now. so fanceh

Ok, so yes. We all know I’m mostly going to talk about writing on here (expect whining), but I wanted to share the bunch of resources I’d found  around the interwebs during my years of suffering and searching for some help in this sad, sad road writing.

I figured if it was helpful to me, maybe it was helpful to somebody else. So this new, shiny thing is:


TECHNICAL THURSDAY (which you all no doubt guessed by the title) featuring The Bookshelf Muse!


Read More

(via thewritingcafe)

I Am Not My Coming-Out Story: Deeper Representation in YA Lit


There’s been a lot of discussion these days about YA—about girls in YA and about diversity in YA made by people who are far more eloquent and well-spoken and informed than I am, at least on those topics. But I wanted to throw my two cents in, because I’m tired of sitting back and watching these discussions and reblogging and never saying anything. So this is me trying to articulate the jumble of thoughts in my head in a hopefully relevant way.

I first started getting into YA when I was 13. Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak is the first YA book I can really remember reading, and the first book that made me go “Holy cow YA is amazing hey maybe I could write that.” So after a few failed novel attempts I sat down and wrote my first YA novel (which five years later I’m still working on, so there’s that, but I digress). This was also the age where I thought I was “better” than other girls because I read and I was smart and wore black and not pink and I didn’t read things like Twilight, but that’s for another time, too.

13 was also when I first began to realize I was gay, so being the bookworm I was, I wanted to turn to literature. At an age where I didn’t have a car, I had to rely on my mom to drive me to Barnes and Noble so I could buy books. My mom, being the wonderfully overprotective woman she was, liked to approve my book choices before I checked them out. 

Well, one night I tried to sneak Julie Anne Peters’ Keeping You a Secret past her, and she read the back and asked “Is this a gay book?” and that lead to a really long, uncomfortable discussion about my supposed sexuality in which I was too young to know what I was talking about so I got shut down. And I hurriedly scrabbled back into the closet and tried to forget that I was gay, which worked until high school when I developed a massive crush on my best friend (who luckily was brave enough to admit she liked me back and now here we are three years later).

During my heavily closeted, “there is no way in hell I can be gay” time, I would sneak to the local library or get a parent to drop me off for homework and I would browse the YA section hoping for something, some sort of a sign that yes, this was okay, being gay was a thing that was okay. 

Guys, it was hard for me to find. I could say it’s because I wasn’t looking hard enough, I could say it’s because I live in North Carolina and back in 2007 YA lit hadn’t boomed to the size it was and GOD FORBID we stock something with a gay character, and those were indeed factors in it, but the fact of the matter was I couldn’t find a lot of queer YA because there wasn’t any, save for Geography Club which I read in a hurried afternoon, and Keeping You a Secret which unfortunately I never got my hands on. My library’s pickings were slim. Anything I could find about gay teens was usually about attractive white gay boys or about the angst of coming out of the closet and the (usually horrible) repercussions. There simply wasn’t “happy” YA where I could read about two girls who were gay or who fell in love and everything went well for them. It got to the point where I was tired of reading YA literature, and anytime I saw an LGBT YA book I scoffed or refused to pick it up, because I was sick of books that revolved around a character’s “coming out” as the sole plot of the book. 

Thankfully, the landscape of YA is slowly changing. Is it as good as it should be? Absolutely not, particularly with representation of characters of different races or different sexualities, but again as I linked to in the beginning of this post, far more eloquent people have written about that than I have. Are a lot of LGBT YA books still centered around coming out? Yes, but you know what? To a thirteen year old kid, to little thirteen-year-old Nita, those books are necessary. 

However, they cannot be the only literature we see. We cannot settle for the bare minimum, the bare story, being reduced to one experience or to a stereotype or to a stock character in the background. As YA readers (and YA writers), everyone deserves to see an accurate, thoughtful representation of themself in literature that isn’t reduced to a singular narrative, a singular experience. I am not just my coming-out story, POC are not just your white MC’s “exotic” best friend/love interest. We are people with far, far more facets than just one aspect of ourselves, and we deserve to see that in YA literature. We’re inching towards that landscape, but not fast enough. I hope we get there soon, for our sake and for those teenagers who deserve to know that they are not a stock character, a background piece to fill a diversity quota, they are not their coming out story.

They’re so much more than that. And they deserve to see it in literature.

In response to the complaint of white writers about writing about people of color: “Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t,” I want to say: absolutely.

It’s absolutely true. You’re damned either way. If you don’t do it, you’re a racist. Yes, you are. Race and racism exist in this society, and if you ignore them, you’re expressing a racial privilege that you don’t, morally, have any right to. That’s a subtle form of racism.

If you do do it and get it “wrong”, you’ll get reamed, and rightfully so. It’s presumptuous of you to think that you have the right to represent a culture you don’t belong to if you can’t be bothered to properly examine and accurately portray that culture.

Further, if you do it and get it “right”, or rather, don’t get it wrong, you’ll still get reamed by members of that culture you’ve represented who rightfully resent a white writer’s success representing their culture. After all, every American ethnic minority has its writers: good and bad. The good writers are mostly ignored. Inevitably, some white writer will come along and do a bang-up job portraying that culture and will get—in one book, in one section of a book—more attention than the poc writer got over the course of three or five or ten books.

You’re a white writer trying to do the right thing, but no matter what you do, it’s wrong. And that’s so unfair to you, isn’t it?

Welcome to a tiny taste of what it’s like to be a person of color.

Oh, and quit complaining.

Claire Light, in arg arg arg (via tgstonebutch)

I quote this all the time. This is exactly right.

(via elloellenoh)

Yes, and as a whitey I feel it’s important to write diversely anyway. Until it’s so common no one thinks it’s anything but normal.

(via nataliewhipple)

(via nataliewhipple)