Being a YA book blogger, I’ve come in contact with a lot of people who are inspired to write YA literature. Some of them are published authors or soon-to-be published authors. Others are aspiring writers who get excited about the teenage experience in more ways than you can even imagine. Whatever stage they (or you) are at in the YA writing game, they are all inspired to get into the heads of all sorts of teens who are experiencing some major life events for the first time.
From my own experience, I can say with certainty that sometimes a particular novel can inspire a reader to do many things. After I finished reading Natalie Standiford‘s Confessions Of The Sullivan Sisters for instance, I was inspired to write a confession of my own in the midst of my review. True, my confession wasn’t directed at Almighty (the Sullivan sisters’ grandmother if you believe it), but to my readers. Still the muse (if there really is one) was definitely at work on that review.
While inspired book reviews are nice, an online encounter that I had earlier this week has led me to ponder something a little different than I normally would on this site:
How does YA lit inspire you?
Why would I ask such a question? Well, I “met” Blayne Beacham on Twitter, and at her request agreed to recommend a bunch of YA novels about young teen girls for a creative project that she’s planning on completing over the course of 2011. No – she isn’t writing a novel, so the recommendations aren’t to inspire her writing. Rather, this professional photographer of architecture and interior design was so inspired by Lauren Oliver‘s debut novel Before I Fall that she’s decided to challenge herself to read 52 more YA books this year and take a photograph inspired by each of the novels she selects, including the aforementioned novel by Oliver, for a photo series of 53 images entitled Before I Fall after the book that inspired her photo project.
I, for one, think this is a great way for Beacham to channel the thoughts and feelings that some amazing YA novels brings up into something all together amazing, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for some of the teen novels that I recommended to her in particular. Most importantly for myself and my readers, this photographer’s inspiration has inspired this very post.
If you have a moment, please check out Beacham’s site and offer her some additional YA reading suggestions. I’m sure that she’ll appreciate your help…though it may make selecting only 52 more books a little difficult. Once you’ve done that please take the time to describe how YA literature inspires you in the comment box below – who knows your inspiration may very well get my own muse working again!
Want to tell your YA lit inspiration story? Check out the About YA Book Shelf page to contact me with your proposal!
In Laurie Halse Anderson‘s compelling work of fiction, Speak, the main character Melinda Sordino has a terrible secret that she can’t bear to tell anyone. In fact, her traumatic experience at a late summer party, leaves her almost completely mute for at least eight months, but possibly a little longer. The main reason that she doesn’t want to tell her story to anyone is her overwhelming fear that no one would believe her.
After reading the writing on the bathroom wall, she decides to add her “voice” to the “cacophony” of graffiti, warning people to stay away from Andy Evans. Imagine her surprise when the next time her and Ivy return to the same bathroom, many other girls have joined in the conversation she began. Clearly, people would believe her because it’s quite likely that Evans has assaulted other girls, not just Melinda.
Melinda did go through a horrible experience, one that no one should have to deal with alone. However, a disturbing news article suggests that there is something worse than, or at least on par with, people not believing your victim story. In 1997, Tina Anderson, a 15-year-old girl, was raped several times by an older man she knew from her church group. She didn’t tell anyone because she worried she would be blamed, but when Ernest Willis got her pregnant, she finally went to her mom, who told their pastor about the situation. In a horrifying turn of events, Tina Anderson was forced to go before the church and confess her sins because she was 1% to blame, and then she was forced to leave the state to have the child and give it up for adoption.
Although this story happened 13 years ago, it has seen a resurgence in the papers and online news media because after all this time, Tina Anderson has come to realize that she shouldn’t carry any of the blame for what happened to her by her victimizer. Unlike many other rape victims, Tina Anderson requested that her name be reported publicly by the news media.
This story is something that should have never been allowed to happen in this day in age, but if it happened to one real girl, how would it have played out in narrative form? Had this situation happened to Melinda, it would have been another story entirely, but it does beg the question, “what if?” What would Melinda have done if when she finally told her story to someone, she’d been further victimized by being forced to accept part of the blame?
Please let other people know about this article, especially other women, so that no young girl will ever feel that they deserve even 1% of the blame.
If the budget is cut in your library, who ya gonna call? You guessed it – the next line should be Ghostbusters – and perhaps after that the singer would say, “I ain’t afraid of no cuts.” However, when faced with a huge budget cut, the New York Public Library just couldn’t afford the high fees associated with hiring Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters fame, even if only for a couple of minutes.
Instead, as Read Street reported, they approached the next best thing – Improv Everywhere! Haven’t heard of this improv group, then I’m here to let you in on the secret (can’t say best kept because they recently reported having over 1 million views and 300k subscribers). Their slogan is “We Cause Scenes,” and I have to admit that in the following video, Improv Everywhere definitely created “chaos and joy in public places” – this time in one that is usually quiet.
If you love to laugh as much as I do, then you have to check out this video:
So now you’re thinking, what is the New York Public Library trying to say? According to the Read Street article, they approached Improv Everywhere because they wanted people to remember how “great the NPYL is” at a time when their budget has been severely threatened.
Did it work? If you live in NYC, are you going to go to the library more often or perhaps even donate money to it? If you don’t live in NYC, do you now wish you did or at least wish that your local library had cool impromptu “events” like this one? Go ahead and laugh, and then let us know what you think!
Reprinted from the book Other People’s Rejection Letters by Bill Shapiro. Copyright © 2010 by Bill Shapiro. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.
Bill Shapiro has spent a considerable amount of time collecting rejection letters received from the famous, like Andy Warhol for a proposed exhibit at the MOMA, and the anonymous, like those who have their relationship end over a text message. In the article “‘Other People’s Rejection Letters’: 8 Of the Craziest Rejection Letters” featured at The Huffington Post, Shapiro makes a compelling argument that in these tough economic times, graduating students will face a considerable number of rejection letters. However, it is these letters that will help bring them to their true potential later on down the road.
One example of these letters is the image to the left of this article text. In case you have difficulty reading it from the picture, it’s transcribed below:
How come I’m not responding to your letter?
Because I do not want to be with you. Not now. Not ever. Not just friends. Not anything.
So can we just stop this?
I read this article for the first time, while simultaneously reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. There is definitely a lot more going on in this novel than a single rejection letter. In fact, Melinda is ostracized by the entire school for calling the cops during a summer party. The rejection is palpable, but no one knows why she called them that night and why she refuses to speak to anyone. If they only knew, then likely they wouldn’t have rejected her, but Melinda is really worried that no one will believe her, which would be even worse.
While there is more going on then just a single rejection, there is, indeed, a single rejection letter taped to Melinda’s locker on Valentine’s Day. When she finds the message “thanks for understanding” and that a friendship gift has been returned, it is devastating. At the same time, however, this single act is a catalyst that helps Melinda live up to her potential.
Why do I make this argument? Well, sometimes rejection will make you stronger. Sometimes rejection will force you to open up your true self. In my opinion, Anderson shows that the rejection Melinda receives from her “friend” is part of the driving force that allows her to heal from what happened at the party and to finally speak from her authentic self.
So, what does a rejection letter meme have to do with Speak: I’d say everything. However, I’d love to hear what you think about Shapiro’s article, Anderson’s novel Speak and this commentary, so please leave your comments below!
What would you do if your phone ended up in the fountain and instead of being broken, you were able to make a phone call to your high school self? What would you say to the young woman or man that you once were to make getting through the awkward stage that much easier? This was the question that Sarah Mlynowski posed for the character Devi Banks from her novel Gimme A Call. However, it was also posed to fellow YA novelists and YA book bloggers on Twitter in a viral marketing campaign that exploded with new #GimmeACall tweets being bandied about at least once a minute for a time.
In ‘YA Authors Tweet About ‘Gimme A Call’: What Would You Tell Your High School Self?, Mlynowski says “I wanted to do something unique to promote my new book. Something fun. Something free.” She can rest assured that her outside of the box marketing strategy had a far reach, with even the celebrated writer Neil Gaiman getting in on the #GimmeACall action. I remember when I first began seeing the tweets on Tuesday, April 20th, I honestly had no idea that they were in relation to a Mlynowski’s novel. Nevertheless, there was an electric energy that seemed to be coming from Twitter through computer hardware to me and hundreds of other people.
This spark and energy IS what viral marketing is all about. It’s something that gets people excited, even people like me and others who were completely unaware that Gimme A Call is the name of a book that is set to come out on April 27th, 2010. I believe whole-heartedly in viral marketing strategies, but you never know – not unless you try – how people will respond to what you’re offering. Most viral campaigns fall dead in the water, usually because the post just doesn’t catch on with the members of the viewing public.
However, there is always another danger – that your post does catch on, but those who view it are unaware of what it’s about. Some might wonder what is the point of sending out a message, if it just gets lost in the Interweb. Others will say that you always have the chance to rectify the situation with a press release or a blog post (and hopefully) you’ll get the word out that way. I’m wondering, when do you consider a viral book marketing campaign successful?. Is it enough that people in the blogosphere or twitterverse participate in it or do they need to understand the message as well? What would you do if the levels of participation were great, but the message got lost in the mix? Write in to say what you’d tell your high school self or have your say on what makes marketing buzz about books a success!