It seems everyone has a blog these days. (Hell – I even have two.) But I don’t think it needs much argument that some blogs are infinitely more useful than others.
The problem, though, is that there are so many blogs out there. I mean, seriously. There are about a thousand blogs for every topic you can think! Mind, I haven’t found one for bass fishing while wearing a tutu, but (a) I honestly haven’t looked for one, and (b) that’s probably a bit more specialized than the casual fisherman/reader would want. (But you never know.)
Now, as a writer who is [ahem]
several years a couple of decades older than the characters she writes, it’s important for me to know what is going on in the YA world, especially trends that YA readers are getting tired of seeing and themes YA readers would like to see explored.
And by “YA readers,” I mean “YA Book Bloggers.”
The blogs I’ve come across and chose to follow are truly valuable. Seriously. I specifically took out all traces of profanity (though I left “Oh my God” because, well, I had to draw the line somewhere) based on my niece’s advice and after contemplating a rather interesting post I read. I rewrote an entire scene in which a character originally commented that another character was dressed as “a slutty Dorothy” for Halloween when I realized, after reading another post, that wasn’t the kind of thing I would want this character to say because he wouldn’t be so degrading – and nor should the hero of any story refer to any girls in that way. I took out the phrase “girly-girl” after reading yet another post that discussed the subliminal misogynist messages in YA literature because I agreed that I used that phrase as a kind of shorthand to describe a character.
And as minor as these tweaks may seem, to an impressionable 10-year-old who might pick up my book, these details are so important because words have the ability to shape what people think of themselves and how they feel about others around them.
I will be honest: I don’t go in search of these blogs. As much as I would like to, I can’t. I work, I’m raising a precocious 5-year-old, and I’m writing my next novel. But I do the next best thing: I follow a bunch of YA folks (authors, agents, bloggers) on Twitter, and I can glean information that way.
You can imagine my delight, then, when Nicole of WORD for Teens announced she was creating a Reader Report and sending it out via email. As soon as she posted the link to sign up on Twitter, I signed up straight away. You see, WORD for Teens is so much more than just a book review site (though she does review books on occasion). Nicole discusses all kinds of topics, insightful things that someone my age (who has been out of high school longer for more years than she was in age when she graduated but is still a few years from having a child in the pre- or teen years) hasn’t considered or given much thought to in recent years. Important things that are just as relevant now as they were *coughs* years ago but carry different weights because of technology or the pervasive media or [insert way things are different now than they were back then here].
So, I got the very first Reader Review in my In Box yesterday. I wasn’t able to get to it straightaway because I was in my writing group and trying to work out the end of Chapter 3 so that I could move the story along, but I opened it and carefully read it from the comfort of my reading/writing chair once The Boy had been safely tucked into bed.
In a nutshell, for someone like me who doesn’t have the time (or, let’s face it, the energy) to devote to looking up current trends in YA literature that readers would like to (a) make disappear or (b) see more of, the Reader Report is a godsend.
The issue I received yesterday included some of the following topics:
- Does sex have a place in YA?
- The new New Adult genre
- The controversy over ‘sick lit’
- Are retellings fanfiction?
See? Really handy!
There are giveaways, too, and, as the newsletter is in its infancy, includes information about advertising. But I love it because I can quickly see recommended posts from (what I have found to be) a reputable source that discuss topics of interest in the YA Book Blogging community.
While I may have my own opinions and disagree with some of the blog posts mentioned in the Reader Report (blogs are, after all, opinion platforms at the end of the day), I often finish reading them with a new or updated perspective on the subject.
And as a writer, having this readily available is, in itself, an incredibly valuable tool.