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Looking Forwards To YALC 2015

29 Jun 2015
Hello Lovelies! Last year was the UK's first ever Young Adult Literature Convention at the London Film and Comic Con and it was so successful that it is going ahead again this year. I am planning on going to YALC this year as the last one was such a fantastic experience.

Last year had a few issues, mainly how crowded the space was, but many changes are being implemented to improve on everything that wasn't perfect. I have seen the venue and it is much larger which should massively reduce the crowding that I know gave a few people anxiety issues. We are also apparently having our own separate area in the venue just for YALC which I think will be a fantastic venue.

The full author list has now been announced and I'm sure you will agree that it is a fantastic line up! I think this is an even better line up than last year. There are several authors I am looking forwards to meeting that I have been fans of for several years such as Malorie Blackman, Moira Young, Judy Blume, LA Weatherly and Teri Terry. I also cant wait to meet relatively new-to-me authors such as Alexia Casale, Samantha Shannon and many more.

The programme is amazing and has a wide range of events from talks about hot trends and important topics in YA, to workshops on how to write, agents giving advice and much more. I currently plan on being at the following (though this may change and is also dependent on what time I am able to arrive on Friday) -

Apocalypse now: new directions in dystopia - I will probably miss this event due to only landing in back in England from 2 days in Barcelona at 2pm but if I can find a functioning time turner I WILL be at this event. Alternatively, I will just sniff out where these authors are located when I arrive as I really want to talk to them all.

Harry Potter party - Because OF COURSE!

YA: the next generation - These young authors are all the future of publishing so I am excited to hear them talk. It is also impossible to keep me away from anything about where YA as a category is heading.

Being a girl: feminism and YA today - Now not only does this topic sound amazing but several of my favourite authors are on this panel so I will be there with bells on.

Carrie Hope Fletcher's YALC book club - So Carrie Hope Fletcher is someone I only discovered existed recently (I must have been hiding under a rock) so I want to see what I have been missing :P

Judy Blume & Patrick Ness in conversation - Judy Blume was by far one of my favourite authors growing up, to the extent where for a drama exam my "free work" was reciting several pages from ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT'S ME MARGARET, so I am not missing the chance to see her talk.

Hunger Games quiz - Because why not?

Mental health in YA - This is a topic that is a huge talking point right now in YA and I believe is very important as many teenagers find solace and answers to their questions in fiction so an accurate portrayal of metal health issues is necessary.

Bringing sexy back - Last years "I'm Too Sexy For This Book" panel was my favourite moment of the weekend so I am definitely going to this follow up.

Between fantasy & reality - I love SF&F and this is the only panel specifically on that genre, I am also looking forwards to hearing more about these authors books as many are on my radar but I haven't read yet.

Troubled teens: dark subjects - Dark topics and their inclusion in YA always makes for an interesting discussion. I am personally all for dark issues that teens may face in their lives being included in fiction but where is the line of it being too adult?

Taking your blog to the next level - This clashes with the troubled teens panel so I don't yet know which I will attend, but this workshop on blogging sounds like a great opportunity to meet new bloggers, socialise with people I already know, and pick up some great new tips as a blog overhaul is certainly in the cards for Bookish Treasures.

LGBT in YA - Diversity in books as been a hot topic for well over a year now and I haven't yet had the chance to attend a talk specifically on LGBT diversity so I think this will be really interesting and hopefully put new books on my radar.

Sir Terry & me: being inspired by Terry Pratchett - I LOVED Terry Pratchett's books and I think this panel will be a lovely tribute to his great writing.

Booktubing for beginners - I have been toying with the idea of branching into booktubing for a while so people can have the option of either reading or watching my reviews based on their preferences. If I am going to do that then I want to do it properly so I think this workshop will be a great way to get some more information.

Ok so I know I am not going to be able to go to all of the Sunday talks because I wouldn't have time to eat, get books signed by authors, or even breathe, but I will see what I feel like doing on the day. Tickets are going quickly (Saturday only tickets have already sold out! Though full weekend tickets are already available) so don't miss out on what will surely be a fantastic event. YALC specific tickets have priority but LFCC regular tickets will get you access to the book area also.

I know a few people are planning on getting into the comic con spirit by cosplaying but I wouldn't have the first idea on where to start so you will probably just see me around in regular clothes. If you are coming then please let me know and we can arrange to say hello at some point :D

If you are going to YALC, what events are you most looking forwards to?

Feature Friday - From A Contest To A Publishing Contract

26 Jun 2015

Synopsis

There’s a drawer I never open. It holds a picture I never look at. It reminds me of a day I hate to remember, but I’ll never forget.

I’d give anything to be like the other girls on campus. Going to parties, flirting with boys, planning for a future. But that’s not me. And hasn’t been since the day my parents died. The only thing that got me through was Griffin. Even though I didn’t have my family, I always had him. Only, now I’m not so sure I do.
It’s not just the eleven hundred miles separating us now that I’m at college. And it’s more than his band finally taking off, and all the gigs and girls suddenly demanding his time. It’s like everything is different—the way we talk, the way we text . . . the way he looks at me and the way his looks make me feel.


Griffin has been the only good thing in my life since that horrific day. I can feel our friendship slipping away—and I’m terrified of what will be left in its place…

Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK

From a Contest to a Publishing Contract: Marie Meyer’s Publication Journey

Hello, Everyone! I’m honored to share my publication journey with the Bookish Treasures readers! Thank you for the invitation, Laura! I’m Marie Meyer. I write new adult romances. My debut NA contemporary romance, ACROSS THE DISTANCE, came out on May 5, 2015! It’s been fantastic getting to know so many awesome readers, bloggers, and reviewers. A huge thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed AtD. I’m humbled by everyone’s love and support! And if you just couldn’t get enough of Griffin in AtD, August 4th is your lucky day! Griffin gets to tell his side of the story in CAN’T GO BACK! I’m so excited to share Griffin with everyone! I love him dearly and I hope you do too!
So, I’m sure you’re all wondering how an elementary school teacher (that’s right, I’m a teacher by day) got her foot through the publication door. Well, let me tell you…
My publishing journey began back in the fall of 2008, when I co-authored my first novel, a YA paranormal romance. After sending out at least 100 query letters to agents over the course of three years, my co-author and I kept getting the same responses: there were too many paranormal romances on agents lists at the time. With the saturation of PNR, we cut our losses and shoved the YA into a drawer.
But, I wasn’t ready to give up on writing just yet. After reading Tamara Weber’s Easy, I was hooked on new adult! This was the genre I wanted to write! I loved the age (18-25), the decisions and situations characters were faced with, all of it!
In January of 2013, I sat down and began my first draft of what would become ACROSS THE DISTANCE. Four months later, I finished AtD and started polishing and revising.
And polishing and revising. And polishing and revising.
And polishing and revising…
You see a pattern, I’m sure! ;)
When I looked up from the computer screen, it was November. ACROSS THE DISTANCE was as shiny as I could make it (but not nearly as shiny as it would become). That’s when I came across a tweet from Brenda Drake, announcing her upcoming Pitch Wars contest. I went back and forth, weighing the pros and cons of entering and not entering. Was it AtD ready? Was I ready? Could I handle more rejection?
The answer to every one of those questions was, YES! If I was serious about becoming an author, then I needed to be brave and put myself out there. The only way AtD was ever going to catch the interest of an agent was either by diving into the query trenches or toss it into a contest. Throwing caution to the wind, I entered AtD into Pitch Wars, not expecting much.
But, come early December, when Pitch Wars mentors announced their teams, to my astonishment, Lady Lioness (mentor extraordinaire) had chosen my entry!
Over the course of the next two months, under Lioness’s kick-butt editorial guidance, I ripped my manuscript to shreds (literally cutting out a major character and piecing my manuscript back together). I hoped and prayed my hard work would result in some agent love during the Pitch Wars agent round.
During the agent round, the agents who participate in Pitch Wars, hop from blog to blog reading the pitches and opening paragraphs of the Pitch Wars contestants’ manuscripts. If an agent likes what he or she reads, they comment on the blog post with instructions to send the manuscript along with a query letter.
At the end of the agent round, I had two agents comment on my entry! Not only was I still blown away that ACROSS THE DISTANCE had been selected by a mentor, but now it was getting some attention from agents! I couldn’t believe it!
I sent both agents the completed AtD manuscript and a query letter, as they’d asked for (always follow an agent’s submission guidelines!!!).
In the subsequent weeks, as I waited to hear back from the Pitch Wars agents, I sent out eleven more queries to other agents. Then, a month later, on Valentine’s Day, I received an email from Louise Fury, at the Bent Agency, wanting to set up a time to speak on the phone! I was ecstatic!! A few days later, I had the pleasure of speaking to Ms. Fury on the phone, which then lead to an offer of representation!
Once I signed with Louise, she championed AtD, sending it out on submission to publishing houses. Eventually AtD found a home with Grand Central Publishing! Not only did Grand Central love AtD, they also wanted its companion novel, CAN’T GO BACK (August 2015), and THE TURNING POINT, the contemporary new adult romance I’m currently working on (releasing in November). At the end of 2015, I will have published three novels! Unreal!
Writing takes patience. I’m just beginning my publishing journey with the recent release of ACROSS THE DISTANCE. But, I’ve been working toward this goal for six years. Every rejection letter, every rewrite, every revision spurs me on, and makes me want to do better. Writing takes hard work and dedication and in order to get better, a writer must write.
If you have ever dreamed of writing a story you want to share with others, don’t give up! One day, your story will be in the hands of readers! Oh, and participate in contests! If I hadn’t done Pitch Wars, I don’t know where I would be today.
Pitch Wars 2015 is right around the corner! If you would like to know more about Pitch Wars 2015, the link with the contest schedule is below. If you have a finished, polished manuscript, the submission day for Pitch Wars 2015 is August 17th. Give it a try! What do you have to lose? J
Again, thank you, Laura, for giving me the opportunity to share my story with your readers!
Keep writing and enter contests!
<3 Marie

About Marie


Marie Meyer was a language arts teacher for fourteen years. She spends her days in the classroom and her nights writing heartfelt new adult romances that will leave readers clamoring for more. She is a member of RWA and the St. Louis Writers Guild. Marie's short fiction won honorable mentions from the St. Louis Writers Guild in 2010 and 2011. She is a proud mommy and enjoys helping her oldest daughter train for the Special Olympics, making up silly stories with her youngest daughter, and binging on weeks of DVR'd television shows with her husband.

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Review of Material Girls

16 Jun 2015

Synopsis

In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Both girls are pawns in a calculated but seductive system of corporate control, and both begin to question their world’s aggressive levels of consumption. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives?

Smart, provocative, and entertaining, this thrilling page-turner for teens questions the cult like mentality of fame and fashion.

Are you in or are you out?

Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK

Review

When I first read the synopsis of Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos I was really excited as the concept sounded amazing and brought to mind So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld which I loved. Unfortunately, though the idea behind this book truly is excellent, the execution fell flat.

This book seemed like the author was trying too hard to make a social commentary about consumerism, trends, and fame. Whilst it certainly is thought provoking to an extent, it all just seems too forced and the storyline doesn't flow naturally. Much of the storyline doesn't make sense and is unbelievable (this coming from a huge fan of dystopian, paranormal, and fantasy novels) and this takes what could have been an amazing concept and makes it a little bit silly.

What I did like about this book - the idea and the writing. That is about it really. The characters did have a few great moments but overall I didn't feel much of a connection with them. Like many YA novels nowadays, Material Girls has an element of romance and this was probably my least favourite part of the entire book. It simply didn't fit in properly with the story and seemed to have been added in at the last minute as an after thought.

Also, the ending fell flat and made much of what happens in the book completely pointless. Whilst it was refreshingly different to the typical YA dystopia ending, it was not satisfying and made the story feel incomplete even though this is apparently NOT the first in a series.

To top this all off this book is very highly priced - nearly £10 in the UK for a kindle edition which is I think the highest price I have ever seen for a standard length YA novel! Overall I wouldn't recommend this one but if it really sounds like your cup of tea then maybe get a copy from the library.

Try it for yourself! Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK
Laura

Feature Friday - Understanding is Contagious: the Importance of Diversity and Starting a Conversation

12 Jun 2015

Synopsis

Nithya, a vivacious, intelligent and driven college senior has always known what she has wanted: a successful career in medicine and the love of her family. She's even come to terms with the idea of an arranged marriage, a tradition her conservative Indian family has held up for thousands of years.

When a night of partying puts her on a collision course with danger, Nithya's entire life changes.

Enter James St. Clair, the smart, challenging and heartbreakingly handsome American.

As Nithya and James fall in love, she questions the future she and her parents have always planned. Now, Nithya has a choice to make: become a doctor and a good Indian bride, or step away from her family and centuries of culture to forge her own path.

The decision she comes to takes her on a journey that transforms how she sees her future, her relationships with loved ones, and how she learns to put herself back together when even her best-laid plans fall apart.


Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK

Understanding is Contagious: the Importance of Diversity and Starting a Conversation


A writer friend and I had a really honest, enlightening conversation the other day about diversity. She is white. I am Indian-American. I was telling her how one of my biggest fears was that I would get my first book “wrong”…even though the character is just like me. Like I’ve posted about before, putting my positive and negative experiences with my Indianness on paper is like pulling the skin off a burn. Sometimes it forces you to face things about yourself that you didn’t want to admit. Other times, it gives you glimpses of beauty you never appreciated.

Before I wax poetic, let me backtrack. My first novel, The Rearranged Life, released on May 15th. Woohoo! It’s a story that I have lived, both directly and peripherally. An Indian-American college student named Nithya falls for an American and challenges everything her traditional family hopes for: medical school and a semi-arranged marriage. I wrote what I knew—about an identity crisis that many first-generation children of immigrants face when deciding where they are coming from and where they are going. My character treads the line between American and Indian cultures, often setting foot in one or the other as needed. It’s been an incredible experience debuting—all of my insecurities that made it onto the page were quelled by the immense positivity of those who read the story and commented that Nithya was, even in her Indianness, similar to them. Like I said before, being Indian has, on the rare but poignant occasion, been cause for attention, like that time I got called a sand ni--er or the time I was well-meaningly told that I must be smart because I’m Asian (for the record, please don’t ever put my math grades in a public domain).

And while my experience has been refreshing and party-worthy, judging by the reading I’ve been doing lately on Twitter and otherwise, we still have a long way to go with diversity in the book world. I follow a number of authors who are heavily involved in social justice and I am learning new things every single day. It’s very easy to ask myself, “What voice do I have? If I’m still learning, I’m bound to make rookie mistakes, right?” My friend told me she was afraid to start because since she was white, she felt she would offend everyone and her deepest fear was to hurt the very people she wanted to represent accurately. Clearly, despite being a person of colour, my fears and the fears of people who want to support me are the same.

Let me digress for a second. My main character, Nithya, comes from a state called Andhra Pradesh. Being from different states comes with some big differences in Indian culture. Each state speaks a different language. Each region has a different dialect. Last names can tell you where a person is from geographically, what language they speak, what caste they’re from (which can lead to social cues, occupations, and tradition differences) and sometimes the kind of life they live. I had to think about some of these nuances when figuring out my characters.

I know these things about Nithya because I’ve lived a similar life. But how would anyone else, say, who isn’t Indian, know that?

Simply by asking questions.

I’m going to illustrate the point here. I grew up in central Pennsylvania. I’ve discussed in other blog posts that the ratio of farm animals to humans is about ten to one. I also grew up in a college town. That meant there were two populations: one, a highly educated and diverse population and the other, not so diverse but with curiosity and kindness to boot. A friend who had never travelled more than 100 miles away from home once asked me, “Annika, is it true Indians drink cow’s blood?” For the record, I’m a vegetarian. Even most of the non-vegetarian Indians I know avoid beef. But I can unequivocally say I’ve never seen an Indian Bella Swan a cup of cow’s blood at a meal. Rather than bug out, I ended up laughing. I answered her innocent question with the offer to clear up any more that she may have, accompanied by the promise that I wouldn’t be offended. Holy cow (I’m beginning to understand that phrase more and more…), did she ever take me up on it! Question after question, all with the intention to learn, came in the days following. It was amazing. We got to unite over our differences because she took the time to ask about places she’d never been to and customs she had never seen. We found similarities as I broke down certain misconceptions for her. We grew even closer, considering our backgrounds were polar opposites.

What’s that quote Hermione Granger says in Harry Potter? “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” I think the same concept can be applied here. Fear of diversity or getting it wrong only increases the fear further. The only way to combat it is to ask questions. Whether that’s through Twitter followers or utilizing Google, it’s important to get the details right. It will take more time. But it builds a cleaner representation of your character if you don’t treat them all with the same detergent. We are not all the same. You know how I mentioned Nithya comes from Andhra and speaks Telugu? There are 29 states in India and over 150 languages spoken. And that’s just one country on earth. One set of cultures to break down. Imagine how different the rest of the world looks…and that’s just considering ethnicity!

At the end of the day, to foster the discussions necessary to paint the world as it really looks, there are two things required: the people who want to represent diversity must ask every question imaginable, and the people who want to be represented must be willing to answer them. It could prevent another ally from feeling as though they’ll get it wrong and in turn, turning them into a bystander. It could prevent another person with a diverse background from feeling as though no one understands. There are so many grey areas to work with—neurodiversity, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, and more—that it’s important to get the whole picture: that we are all the same and very, very different. Recognizing both sides is vital to appreciating and conveying our differences accurately. It’s important that the people asking the questions remain non-judgmental and truly listen—you are getting the answers from people who have likely been pinpointed as “wrong” for their entire lives. For those receiving the questions, assume the best in the asker and answer honestly. People do want to know and be better.

The Rearranged Life was a cathartic way to represent my life…but there will come a time in the near future where I will write another diverse character, one whose life my own doesn’t mirror. And when the time comes, I hope I have the courage to ask questions of people willing to answer. I’ve already seen the difference it makes in a story, let alone in a life.

And if we ask and answer these questions together, we can finally tell all the stories the world needs to hear.