Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Voices of YA Tag

I have been tagged by Lisa @ Inkwell for the Voices of YA tag! (Everyone go say hi to her. She's awesome.) Truth be told, she tagged me a whole Y E A R ago, and here I am, finally getting around to it.
The Rules:
  • Thank the person who tagged you (thanks again, Lisa, and sorry for my tardiness!)
  • Link to the original creator (you can find it from Caitlin Lambert @ Quills and Coffee HERE)
  • Answer the ten questions
  • Tag at LEAST two other YA writers/bloggers
  • Share with the hashtag #VoicesofYA

[graphic from Caitlin Lambert]

1. What draws you to YA?

The emotions! Everyone knows teenhood is fraught with them, and so is young adult fiction. Now, I'm not a big fan of melodramatic angst--that can get ridiculous fast--but I am in love with the full range of excitement, confusion, doubt, passion, and fear that can be found in teenaged protagonists.

Of course these things are also present in adult fiction, and even to a certain extent in middle grade fiction . . . but YA is where it really shines. It's the bridge between the carefree days of childhood and the responsibility of adulthood. It's when a person starts to define who he or she is. It's one big cocoon of transformation, and that's what I love about it.
I may be older than most YA characters by now, but that doesn't make their struggles any less relevant. If anything, I think teens are just more honest about the hard things, and it's the adults who try to hide behind masks. I hope I always stay young at heart.

2. Describe your writing process. Do you like outlines and structures, or seeing where the story takes you?

Both! When I started out, I wrote by the seat of my pants, content to see where the story wandered. (Outlining? Pfft, that was for school.) That worked until I started writing actual novels and got very stuck. Then I switched to outlining--the full Roman numeral chapter-by-chapter method--and that worked until the plot and characters took on lives of their own and refused to listen to my plan. I tried bending them to my will, but they clammed up and became wooden and boring.
So now I'm a hybrid, neither a pantser nor a plotter. I like a good roadmap with all the important signposts in place, but I want the freedom to figure out the road in between as I go. Whenever the space between signposts (a.k.a. bullet points in a Word doc) is too big and I get lost, I step back and re-evaluate, usually filling in a few more plot points before I keep writing.
That's what works for me now, but who knows? That could change one day. Every book is a new adventure, and my process keeps evolving.

3. How long have you been writing? Where are you in your journey?

I have been writing in some form or another since I was six or seven, when a love of books and the encouragement of my first grade teacher overflowed into the act of writing my own tales.
I have been writing novels since I was twelve, when I started The Prophet's Quest, which, at the time, was a thinly veiled Chronicles of Narnia / Dragons in Our Midst crossover.
Since then, I wrote the sequel (The Prophet's Key) and started the third book in the series (untitled). I edited TPQ, the first book, numerous times--first on my own and then with the help of amazing mentors (you know who you are!)--when I was sixteen. That's what really jumpstarted my writing craft. I also started rewriting TPK, the second book.

I wrote four novella-sized retellings of fairy tales in between those edits/rewrites: The Glass Girl (Cinderella), Blood Rose (Beauty and the Beast), The Brightest Thread (Sleeping Beauty), and most recently, Mirrors Never Lie (Snow White). All of these were for contests hosted by Rooglewood Press, and I'm still delighted whenever I think about TBT and MNL placing as finalists.
Because I fell irreversibly in love with The Brightest Thread, and because it had so much room for more story, I expanded it into a full novel last summer. After taking a break for college, I'm now editing this special story.
But I guess that's my writing history, and the question asked about the journey. So where am I right now? I'm honing my craft, working to sharpen my plotlines and smooth my characters' rough edges. I'm devouring all the education on writing I can, from blogs to books to conferences to conversations with real-life authors. I'm researching the publishing industry. I've been putting my work out there in little ways. And right now, I'm slowly but surely researching literary agents and preparing myself to query in earnest.
This author thing is a long road, and I refuse to put timelines on it anymore, but I honestly do feel like I'm a lot closer to publishing than I've ever been.
(None of this is supposed to be an "oh, look at me!" statement. Just sharing my journey: where I've been, where I am, and where I dream of going.)


4. What do you need to write? Coffee? Music?

Neither is a necessity. I like coffee, but most days tea is more appreciated. I love music, but it's been a long time since I wrote to it consistently. All I need is a spot on the couch in the living room, my laptop, maybe a notebook, and relative quiet. (People can be talking, but I can't have a movie playing in the background.)
In high school, I would hole up in my room for hours at a time with Narnia soundtracks on loop, and that's how I wrote. But since the adult life takes me away from home a lot more often than the homeschooled-teen life did, these days I like to camp out someplace in the house that's closer to my family. I guess I've gotten used to having distractions people around?

5. If you could offer one piece of advice to another writer (other than "don't give up"), what would it be?

If you want to publish, you're going to need to be in this for the long haul. Even if you don't want to publish, and your dream is to share your stories with friends and family, you still need to see the long game. Because writing a book is not a fast process. Publishing it is an even longer process.
See question #3? I've been writing seriously for ten years, and only now do I have a novel I think might be publishing-worthy. (And it's not even done. Revisions take time.) As a young writer, I dreamt of being a breakout bestseller at age sixteen. All those other authors with stories about hundreds of rejections and years of waiting? Ha, that wouldn't happen to ME. Fast forward to today, and I'm honest-to-goodness glad it's a longer journey than I once thought. Sixteen-year-old me was not ready. That book I was writing at the time wasn't ready. Great gobs of gravy, I'm not sure if I'm 100% ready now, but I'm a lot closer than before. Your journey will look different, but be willing to see the big picture and Take. Your. Time.
The thing is, if you're serious about this, you're going to need patience by the truckload. Determination, humility, a willingness to learn, and courage help a lot too. Writing is easy. Writing well takes a lot of practice and a lot of guts. And publishing? Well, I'll let you know how that goes! See the big picture. It will keep you from getting discouraged when you feel stuck.

6. What book still has you reeling from its plot twist?

It's so hard to pick just one! But since we're talking about YA, I'll point to one of my favorite YA fantasy books, The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. A number of my Goodreads friends say that they saw the twist coming, but for some reason I did not. Maybe knowing there is a twist makes it easier to see coming?

Anyway, it surprised me! Suddenly the plot clicked in a way it hadn't before, and niggling little things that had bothered me started to make sense. It was epic. Go read it. The rest of the Ascendance Trilogy is a lot of fun too.

7. What books are you most anticipating for this year?


Ahem. I've only read one book by Nadine Brandes so far, but I am ridiculously excited about her historical fantasy coming out next month! Because hey, it's historical fantasy, and I do not have enough of that wonderfulness in my life. Also it involves the Gunpowder Plot (y'know, Guy Fawkes and blowing up the king and all that jazz?). And it involves masks. And magic. And the cover is gorgeous. And Nadine Brandes wrote it. So I am all the excited.
I'm also looking forward to reading A Thousand Perfect Notes, C.G. Drews' recent debut! It's Cait from Paper Fury, people! Our very own queen of the universe! So I'm very happy for her and can't wait to have my heart broken by her book.
Some other books that have been out for a while, but are among the "highly anticipated" books on my TBR this year . . .
The Scorpio Races and All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron. Wanted: a Superhero to Save the World by Bryan Davis. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer. By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson. The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber. (I'd better stop.)

8. In your opinion, which YA book/series has the most unique premise?

Excuse me? How am I supposed to answer that?
Pardon me while I go stare at my Goodreads shelves.
. . .
Okay. I'm back. The problem is that all my favorites have something unique about them, whether it's fairytales in space (The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer), the non-burning of the Library of Alexandria (The Great Library series by Rachel Caine), or a spiritual journey in the midst of a creepy small town (Solitary Tales by Travis Thrasher).
But I honestly can't think of anything quite like the mashup of awesomeness found in the triplet series Dragons in Our Midst / Oracles of Fire / Children of the Bard by Bryan Davis. Where else can you read about dragons, Arthurian legend, Biblical history, and sci-fi technology in one storyworld? These books span Earth across literal millennia, plumb the depths of Hades, ascend to Heaven, and venture into realms straight out of the author's imagination. Rereading them this year has been awesome.

9. What is your all-time favorite quote from YA?

I'm no good at these "all-time favorite" questions, so I'll cop out and offer you two quotes I like--one amusing and the other deep.
First, from Winter by Marissa Meyer:
"Did you see any rice in there? Maybe we could fill Cinder's head with it."

Everyone stared at him.

"You know, to . . . absorb the moisture, or something. Isn't that a thing?"

"We're not putting rice in my head."

Second, from my current read, Enoch's Ghost by Bryan Davis:

Sapphira held the brick with the red diode close to the photometer. "You can't do this alone, Ashley."

She released her hair, leaving a bloody smear. "I couldn't reach Larry. I already tried."

"I don't mean Larry." Sapphira's eyes once again blazed. "I think you know exactly what I mean."

Ashley looked up at her and stared. "If you mean have faith, that's what I'm trying to do."

"I know you're trying." Sapphira laid a hand on Ashley's cheek. A ripple of fire rode along Sapphira's forearm and crept into her hand. "You have been trying all your life."

Ashley closed her eyes. Heavenly warmth radiated into her cheek and flowed throughout her body, loosening her muscles and draining her tension.

"Relax, Ashley, and let Jehovah work through you. Faith asks that you let his power flow, not your anxiety, not your fears, and not your sweat. His power."


10. What books do you most hope will have a movie adaptation?

Ooooh, that's a good question. My one caveat with this list is that these movies have to be made really well or not at all. Ha.

  • The Lunar Chronicles // Marissa Meyer

    • If they get the casting right and use top-notch special effects, this could be epic!

  • Solitary Tales // Travis Thrasher

    • These would be so. stinking. creepy. Especially with a good composer for the soundtrack!

  • Rangers Apprentice // John Flanagan

    • Again, good casting, please! But how fun would it be to see these adventures on the big screen? I think a TV show would work a lot better than a movie series in this case.

  • Illusionarium // Heather Dixon

    • Because I just want a steampunk movie.

  • The Montmorency books // Eleanor Updale

    • Set in Victorian London, with the main character living the dual life of a gentleman and a criminal, this could be a fun set of movies. It's been forever since I read them, but now I want to reread . . .

  • My own books!

    • Come on, every writer dreams of this, right?


Thanks for the tag, Lisa! It rescued me on a day my brain didn't want to cooperate with blogging, and it was fun to boot.

I hereby tag:
Chloe @ Faeries and Folklore*
Kaitlyn @ Animal Jam Jumble*
Hanna @ Taking My Time
Josiah @ The Steadfast Pen
Savannah @ Inspiring Writes
Victoria Grace Howell @ Wanderer's Pen
You, if you want to steal it!

*You both are YA readers, not necessarily YA writers, but go ahead and tweak the first five questions to suit yourselves. :)


  1. Ahhhh, this was funnnnnnn <3 I love this tag. And also I am so excited every time I think about you placing in the Rooglewood contests because AHHHHH that makes me so happy for you. <3

    1. Yay! Thank you so muuuuuuch, Faith! All the hugs! <333

  2. The books I want to see become top notch movies is The Seventh World Trilogy. TRACY GO READ THOSE BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!! The first one is free on kindle. *Bait*
    Totally get you on writing to soundtrack... I'm doing LOTR and Hobbit, but Narnia is awesome. THE BATTLE!!!!!! Super, super epic piece of soundtrack...

    1. The Seventh World Trilogy--that's by Rachel Starr Thomson, right? "Free on kindle" isn't always a huge draw for me, unfortunately, because I'd much rather read a physical book... buuuuut it's a bit tempting this time. ;)

      Movies of them would be pretty awesome, from what little I know about the books!

      LOTR and the Hobbit have EXCELLENT soundtracks. I am very much in love. Still need to buy The Two Towers and The Return of the King, though--but I have all the rest! ^_^

      Thanks for the comment, Erica!

  3. I'm so with you on revisions, revising a book takes a lot of work. Well basically all of the things that encompass writing a book are hard. You've been at this for so long, your inspiring, Tracey!

    I completely agree that Solitary would make an amazing movie.

    1. WRITING IS JUST HARD WORK, PERIOD. XD And yet we love it! Even if we complain sometimes. :P Awww, thanks. *hugs* Your dedicated editing for Rooglewood is an inspiration too!

      Oh my goodness, if it ever became a movie, we'd have to find a way to go see it together. :D

  4. I loved, loved, looooved this post! I was just sitting here soaking up all your answers. This was great!

    I 1000000% agree on you with the whole YA being more emotional thing. I love middle-grade, but it doesn't have that sense of depth like YA, and adult books, too, don't always really digging deep into the characters. If my heart isn't ripped out whilst reading, then is there really a point??? ;P

    I LOVED reading about your writing journey. Hearing about how each writer got to where they are is one of my favorite things. It's so fun seeing all the differences and similarities we all have on our journeys and pursuits of writing. And your dedication and passion for your writing journey so, SO inspires me! I think it's a beautiful one. <3

    YES to #5, to sticking to it for the long haul and being patient. Definitely something I've learned through the years!

    And another big YESSSSS to the DiOM books having suuuuuuuch a unique plotline. That's what has always drawn me to Bryan Davis. You can't put his stories in a box. They're so unexpected and original! And that quote your shared from Enoch's Ghost. *clutches heart* NOW I'M GETTIN' FEELS. I miss those precious charries. <3 (Also that scene from The Lunar Chronicles is one of my top, TOP favorites of all time. XDDD)

    I want Illusionarium to be a movie, YESSS! I was just whining to my brother yesterday about there being a lack of steampunk movies/TV shows. I NEED SOME, PRECIOUSSS.

    Anyways, it was a joy reading through all your answers and seeing your passion for all things YA books. Thanks for sharing with us! ^_^

    1. Awww, thank you! <3

      MG can get pretty emotional too, but it's usually not as conflicted as YA! And adult books--well, that depends on a lot of things. XD "If my heart isn't ripped out whilst reading, then is there really a point?" <-- said every fangirl ever. XD

      I absolutely love getting glimpses into other writers' journeys too! Oh, THANK YOU, Christine--that's really sweet! We're going to get published one day, you and I. <333

      Yep! If you don't have the patience, this writing road gets discouraging very quickly.

      Right? Rereading them has made me realize even more how genre-bending they are. You're welcome for the feels. ;) (Oh goodness, THORNE. He is hilarious, and that line is also one of my top favs!)


      Thank you again, my dear! Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Wow, your writing process sounds a LOT like mine! I usually write a synopsis, and just use that as my road-map. It helps me know where the story should go, but yet gives me space to kind of explore on my own.

    I just finished A Time to Die, and now I'm super excited to finish the trilogy AND read Fawkes!!!

    1. Writing a synopsis first sounds handy! I haven't tried that myself yet, but having a basic roadmap is quite helpful, I agree!

      AHHHH YOU READ A TIME TO DIE! I need to read the next two ASAP. And Fawkes! Gah, there are so many amazing books out there! <3

  6. YES!!! Someone else didn't see the False Prince's plot twist coming! *high-five*

    Some small part of me might still be reeling over it... O_O

    Great tag! I love all your answers. <3

    1. So I wasn't just being dense! Whew! (Unless we were both dense together, but we shan't consider such an option.) *high-fives you back*

      Thanks, Lila! :D

    2. *creeps into conversation randomly*

      I'm honestly partly procrastinating reading The False Prince because everyone acts like there's a huge twist and of coooourse they totally saw through it. So on the one hand, if I see it coming, I'll feel smart, but I'll also not be like "whoa! Plot twist!" And... on the other hand, if I DON'T see it coming I'll be like "am I the only one (besides Tracey and Lila apparently, whew. XD) who didn't see that coming?" and I'll feel silly. SO MUCH PRESSURE. *coughcough* (I mayyyy overthink things a little...)

    3. Hahaha, this comment is the best, Deb! <3 I totally get that! Knowing about a plot twist in advance seems to add weird pressure to the reading experience, and I wish it didn't. It's probably not very helpful, but I'd say forget what everyone has said (ha, impossible, but try) and just read it to enjoy it!

      I have a love/hate relationship with plot twists. I love them, but I sometimes feel bad for not seeing them coming, because I have this unrealistic idea that I, as a writer, should be Super Perceptive About Plot. And I'm not. XD And yet I DON'T want to see all the plot twists coming, because that's boring. Soooo... I'm right there with ya.

  7. Your answer to #5 is excellent. I used to think I'd publish before I turned 20. I'm glad that was not the case- I certainly wasn't ready then! I do tend to take an ambling approach to writing, anyhow.

    1. I wasn't ready then either! I mean, I'm absolutely happy for all the teenaged debut authors out there, but for me... I'm so, so thankful it didn't happen like that. Yep, have to work WITH your process and not against it!

  8. Was it Captain Thorne who said the thing about the rice? I forget.. XD!

    Eek I love that part as wellll My favorite from Oracles of Fire has to be the wedding scene at the end of Bones of Makaidos and every little scene with Sapphira and Elam togetherrrr
    Awesome post!

    1. It was! He's hilarious. xD

      The ending of The Bones of Makaidos is among my top favorite book scenes EVERRRRR. Sapphira and Elam are also amazing. <3333

  9. Seriously though, Lunar Chronicles would be THE BEST movie/TV show!! How is it not a thing yet??
    And that quote... Possibly the best dialogue ever written in a book. XD

    1. Ohhh, a TV show might work even better, because then we'd get MORE of all our favorite characters! So epic!

      Hahaaa, it's one of the only Lunar Chronicles quotes I remember, but it's a good one. XD

  10. Thanks so much for tagging me. I did this tag a year ago and we both want Lunar Chronicles to be made into a movie. That would be sooooooooooo epic!

    1. You're welcome--but I should have checked your blog to see if you'd done it! XD A Lunar Chronicles movie would SO AMAZING. AHHHHH.