Tag Archives: parents

Everything I Learned From “Against YA” and More

7 Jun

Two announcements before my post:

T.B. Markinson’s debut novel, A Woman Lost, is on sale until June 11th. Only .99 cents. I really admire T.B. Markinson, so I hope you take the time to check out her novel by clicking here.

The eBook of Seconds Before Sunrise releases in 5 days! That’s right. Only 5 days. I cannot believe it. I plan on sharing more insights from The Timely Death Trilogy soon. (Actually, I wanted to today, but the upcoming topic is very important to me.) Feel free to check out my Pinterest board full of hints and surprises before I announce more information, and be sure to join the ebook extravaganza party on Facebook for your chance to win a Kindle.

Happy reading!

Two days ago, my Facebook and Twitter blew up with a giant pink picture of an Alice-in-Wonderland-Look-Alike. It is an image that came with a title I cringe at: Against YA: Adults should be embarrassed to read children’s books.Even worse? The subtitle is “Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.”

This horrifying article I am about to discuss can be found here. Written by Ruth Graham (not by THE Ruth Graham, you know, the philanthropist, but by Ruth Graham of New Hampshire.)

Don’t know who she is?

According to her Twitter, she’s a “contributing writer to the Boston Globe’s Ideas section; freelancer out and about (Slate, the Atlantic…). Former editor (New York Sun, Domino).” Her website – Ruth Graham: Freelance Journalist – is actually right here on WordPress.

Why am I sharing this?

Because I think it’s important to understand the writer behind the piece. I was hoping that if I followed her, I would understand where her opinion derived from. I was desperate for a deeper understanding, a slight chance that she meant well when she clicked “publish” on her viral post, so I followed her Twitter feed yesterday. I learned a lot from the woman behind the chaotic arguments that consumed every social media outlet I can think of, and I thought I would share what I learned below.

This wasn’t good for my blood pressure. It probably won’t be for yours either. You have been warned.

1. “Also YA writers & agents asking if I think they shouldn’t do their jobs. Uh, no? Definitely keep doing your jobs!”

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It isn’t okay to read YA as an adult, but it’s definitely okay if you can make money off of it. Also, if you’re a YA author, make sure to tell your adult readers that if “they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something.” This is because all YA novels are “uniformly satisfying” and completely unrealistic. Make sure your YA novel follows these standards because they are undoubtedly true. Every YA ending causes you to either weep or cry. Trust me on this. Graham explained how “emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction—of the real world—is nowhere in evidence in YA fiction.” Forget the fact that fiction is FICTION – not nonfiction. Adult fiction is a reflection of the real world and young adult fiction is a pleasurable escape from reality. Every. Time.

2. “Another mysterious thread today has been angry librarians & parents defending themselves for reading YA for professional/parenting reasons.”

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So mysterious. Readers actually want to defend a genre they read? Whoever thought readers actually cared about books? I definitely wouldn’t have expected teachers, librarians, and parents to defend novels they shared with their child. Weird. I would call Nancy Drew to get on the case, but I am a 22-year-old adult; therefore, I should no longer think of her as a viable reference to solving mysteries. But I do know this: parents should never read what their kids read. Knowing what their kid enjoys or trying to understand why their kid enjoys it is exactly why we have so many bad parents in this world. Librarians, too. Why should they spend more time trying to understand the marketplace? It’s not like it’s their job or something.

3. “I’m not saying I’m not pretentious at all, of course. But I’m definitely not the MOST pretentious. But trust me: There’s more pretentious stuff out there.”

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If you’re not the most pretentious, you’re okay. If you’re not the most mean-spirited or hateful or cruel, it’s also okay because there are worst people out there. In regards to reader shaming and reading snobbery, as long as you’re not the worst, it’s okay. Just put the disclaimer, “at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old.” Follow that sentence with “we are better than this.” This will unify your reader and you while also distracting them from the fact that you don’t sound snobbish, joyless, old, or pretentious. You just sound like you want everyone else to be.

4. “I’m not at all opposed to guilty pleasures! I’m just arguing for some guilt along with the pleasure.”

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You can read YA as an adult, but you better feel damn guilty about it. You better feel so guilty that you ask for a gift receipt anytime you buy a YA book at your local bookstore so they won’t know you are the reader. Actually, get an eReader, so no one knows what you’re reading in public. Shame on you if you don’t feel any guilt. You could’ve spent that time reading real literature, preferably something with “Weird facts, astonishing sentences, deeply unfamiliar (to me) characters, and big ideas about time and space and science and love.” This is what Ruth Graham reads without any guilt, because she considers it literary, so you should, too.

5. “Working on something today that will make some people mad, wheeeeeeee!”

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Rejoice in the fact that you can anger people. This means you’re an adult with important things to say. Angering people means you are, in fact, important, and you should be proud and happy to anger people. This is literature. This is what reading is all about.

Okay. So I may have gone a little overboard. My blood pressure is still too high, after all, but I had to respond. I had to point out the fact that this article was written, knowing how much it would anger the reading community, yet we allow it to go viral because it strikes a place in our reading hearts that HURTS.

We love to read what we love to read.

I am very passionate about changing our reading community to only encourage readers. In fact, I’ve written about this before in my blog post Readers Hating Other Readers, and – sadly – I doubt this will be my last time writing about this.

With a heavy heart, I want to conclude all of the emotions I have ever had about reader shaming:

Adults shouldn’t be embarrassed to read young adult fiction. No one should be embarrassed to read anything. Reader shaming is what we should be embarrassed of.

~SAT

P.S. If you’re a young adult fiction reader – no matter your age – I would love it if you read one of my novels. In fact, I will probably do a little dance of excitement if you do. I even share all reviews right here on ShannonAThompson.com. (If you’re boycotting Amazon, don’t worry. Also available on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.)

Click today!

Click today!

Writing Tips: Family Variety

27 Jan

Two points before we start on today’s topic:

The other day I realized I haven’t even hit the one-year mark of the release of Minutes Before Sunset, yet I’ve already had so much encouraging support. Because of this, I’ve added a Reviews page for The Timely Death Trilogy. Check it out, and you’ll see a variety of fellow authors and bloggers who’ve read it. Thank you for taking the time to write a review after reading!

This brings me to my other announcement. The Paris Carter reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, and you can read the entire review here, but here’s a teaser: “Shannon A. Thompson is able to hold your attention to the plot with a refreshing story than the average young adult novel filled with romance and a few over the top scenes. This novel focuses more on action and suspense than actual romance. This novel is great for anyone looking for a quick young adult novel that still has a great plot and characters.”

Today’s topic:

Everyone’s family is different. Some people have siblings, parents, and grandparents – some don’t. Some people are raised by their family, while others find all of their role models elsewhere. There are so many types of family members and how they all link together and work together. In one neighborhood, there are stepparents, adoptions, half-siblings, and uncles raising their nephews as sons. Variety isn’t just prominent in the physical relationships – it’s also in how someone decides to raise children or how family members interact with one another. Every family is different, and novels should show this – it will add believability, and it will also allow more of the readers to relate to the story. Below, I will share my experiences when creating different family types in Minutes Before Sunset and why I chose certain types for specific characters. (All pictures were created by FreeFlashToys – Stick Figure Family)

Instead of focusing on one family at a time, I am going to organize this post by different family types.

Stepfamilies: “It’s been calculated that about one in three of us is involved in a step-family situation.” – Net Doctor

I only have one of these in The Timely Death Trilogy, but it’s one of the protagonist’s families: The Welborns.

Eric’s family is probably the most complicated of all of the families. Before the novel, it was Eric, his father, and his mother. Then, his mother commits suicide, and his family remarries a number of years later. He then gains a stepmother – Mindy – and a stepbrother – Noah.

I wanted to show this for many reasons, one being that stepfamilies are very common nowadays. But there was also an emotional line I wanted to have in the novel. In Minutes Before Sunset, Eric struggles to understand his mother’s death as well as how he’s supposed to be connected to a family unrelated to him. I wanted this relationship to be symbolic to the division of humans and the paranormal creatures (in this case, shades.) This happened when Eric discusses how his stepmother and stepbrother are human, while he isn’t – causing a divide that both sides cannot see or  understand.

Eric Welborn’s family

Eric Welborn’s family

Single-Parent Families: “One out of every two children in the United States will live in a single-parent family at some time before they reach age 18.” – Health of Children

Single-parent families are defined by children being raised by a parent who has been widowed, divorced, not remarried, or never married. I managed to get all of these into the story, although we only see Eric’s father as a single-parent (widowed before he was remarried) in the first few pages. Jonathon – Eric’s best friend – would be the divorced situation. His mother left and never came back. Crystal – Jessica’s best friend – would be the never married situation. Her father is completely absent (and her mother isn’t around that often either.) Through their actions in the first book (and the next two to come) readers will see how their family situations have affected them. For instance, Jonathon is like a second father to his younger brother, Brenthan. But we’ll get into siblings in a minute.

Single-Parents Homes: Dad or Mom?

I know. I know. I just talked about this, but I wanted to add one more diverse part to consider: single-parents can be (and are) mothers AND fathers. Although it has been more common for mother’s to raise children alone, the single-father households are growing (according to this article by The Wall Street Journal.) This was personally something I couldn’t find in novels. I was in a single-parent household, raised by my father, and I remember wondering why I couldn’t find that in many novels when I was younger. Because of that, I was sure to have both situations in Minutes Before Sunset. The Hutchins – where Lola raises her daughter, Crystal – and the Stones – where George raises his two sons, Jonathon and Brenthan.

The Stones

The Stones

Siblings: 

There are so many different kinds of siblings, kids who are close in age and far apart in age, kids who only have sisters, and kids who have both sisters and brothers. There are step-siblings and half-siblings. But all of these types fall under siblings.

In Minutes Before Sunset, I have characters who have full-blooded siblings (Jonathon and Brenthan), half-siblings (Zac and Linda), step-siblings (Eric and Noah), and characters who don’t have siblings at all (Jessica, Crystal, and Robb.) But, like the other topics, having a variety is key to shaping a character’s personality and background, but their relationships can always change throughout the story.

Adopted: In 2008, 135,813 children were adopted in the US in all types of adoption – CreatingAFamily.Org

Like I said above, not everyone has parents or grandparents to take care of them. In this case, I wanted to show two different kinds: raised by adoption and raised by the community. After her parents died in a car wreck, Jessica was adopted when she was a baby. In another situation, Camille – Eric’s guard – was ditched by her parents. She was raised by the Dark as a community. She doesn’t have a traditional system at all.

Pets: Pet ownership in the U.S. has more than tripled from the 1970s – The Humane Society

I REALLY wanted to have them in the trilogy, but it just didn’t work out. However, there are pets in my other works. November Snow has a “pet.” Serena is constantly around a squirrel.

Pets was not the only thing I couldn’t include. There are so many types of families I didn’t have room for (military, grandparents, uncles/aunts, twins, etc.) But I am excited that readers will learn even more about the diverse range of backgrounds my characters have in Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy.)

After writing this, I want to add one more thing. 

BgoartReaders have different kinds of families, and it can often be difficult for readers when they can never find families similar to theirs in any novels. Personally, I had this problem growing up, so maybe this is why I try to add as much variety as possible. When I was younger, my family included my dad, my mom, and my older brother. At one point, we lived with my grandfather, but then, my mom died. A few years later, my father remarried. I had two stepsisters and a stepbrother. They divorced later, and it’s been my dad, my brother, and I ever since. (Although my brother is getting married soon – yay for sister-in-laws!)

I shared my personal story for one reason: different kinds of families aren’t uncommon. Changing family types isn’t uncommon. But I think variety can sometimes go unnoticed in novels (either by the reader or the writer.)  This is my attempt to share why I try to include variety – I think it’s important for both readers and writers – and I hope you’ll consider adding more variety and/or sharing how you’ve already added variety in your novels.

~SAT

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