Must Reads For YA Writers

A few years ago whenever people asked me how someone my well-past-teen age could write YA, I’d explain how the emotions have remained consistent since I was a teenager.

I’m not sure that’s entirely true anymore. Oh, sure we all still experience a range of emotions, but the prevalence of social media has shifted the landscape in a profound way. Even while parenting teens, I’ve noticed dramatic changes in the four years separating my daughters. As a parent, I know I’m always a step behind. So what does that mean for my drawer novels? More concerning: what does it mean for my WIP?

Thankfully, two great new books will help both writers and parents bridge the gap.

I purposely sat next to different moms during every soccer game, flashing American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales. The book inevitably provoked an interesting conversation with my fellow soccer moms. I wish every mom, teen and writer would read this one. It’s a bit harrowing at times. One night my 16-year-old daughter snuggled next to me in bed and read a few chapters along with me. She plans to finish it on her own this summer. We’ve already had so many great discussions about social media, the pressure on girls, and how we use technology.

The bright pink title of Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein

made me wonder what rumors might ensue if I read this one at halftime. Ironically, the social media book is more graphic. I loved Orenstein’s thoughtful interviews on wide-ranging topics. She truly respects her teenage subjects while remaining an adult. YA writers could benefit from her writing voice, in addition to the subject matter. This one is now waiting on my college-aged daughter’s bed for when she arrives home next week. Her sister will read it next.

As a parent, I often wish the world were different for my daughters–and I know many parents who pretend things haven’t changed all that much.

The problem comes when we don’t acknowledge the way things have changed, as writers. Readers depend upon us not to talk down to them. To portray the truth. Provide a realistic slice of life.

That means keeping up with changing times. We owe it to our readers!

Stories That Inspire Travel…

I‘m itching to escape cold short February days and find some adventure! And I blame books. Books that bring settings or history alive in a way that makes me really, really want to see it for myself.

Wouldn’t a trip to Paris be wonderful? I found myself wanting to explore the catacombs and drink my own bowl of coffee after reading Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Croissants. Lots of croissants. A blister-inducing day at The Louvre. I could see Degas work–the sculptures that inspired Marie, Dancer by Carolyn Meyer.

Or maybe I should visit China–I really, really want to visit China–to see the landscape that inspires mystical tales like Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin and Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon. Oh, how I craved Chinese takeout after reading that one!

One vacation, much closer to home, that I’m determined to take this year: Yellowstone National Park. I want to see the geysers again through the eyes of Maggie from Janet Fox’s novel Faithful. Or maybe I’d spot wolves like the characters in Wolves, Boys, And Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler.

Sigh. I’m not going anywhere soon. But I’ll keep reading about far-off adventures. Which books made you want to book a plane ticket?

Guest Nose Mandy Hubbard

Today it’s my pleasure to host Mandy Hubbard debut author of the very charming Prada and Prejudice. Like her main character Callie, Mandy has also struggled with her own fashion issues. Mandy says:

I was never a big risk taker in terms of fashion and beauty. I couldn’t figure out mascara (let alone eye liner), and I was so tall that jeans were almost always high waters on me.

I do remember in 8th grade, taking a daring fashion risk: I wore jean shorts with nylons, tube socks, and combat boots. And I felt cute! My BFF definitely raised an eyebrow at me and wondered what I was thinking, but one of our more popular friends really loved the look. It still stands out in my mind—feeling bold and crazy for a day, walking down the halls. I wish I’d taken more risks instead of trying so hard to blend into the walls!

About Prada and Prejudice

Fifteen year old Callie just wants to impress the popular girls when she buys a pair of Prada heels on her class trip to London. She didn’t plan on tripping, conking her head, and waking up in 1815! Now she’s wearing corsets with her designer pumps, eating bizarre soups, and breaking up engagements. If only the nineteen year old Duke of Harksbury wasn’t so bloody annoying, she might have a little fun in Austen-Era England… Buy the book here! 

About Mandy Hubbard

Mandy Hubbard grew up on a dairy farm outside Seattle, where she refused to wear high heels until homecoming—and hated them so much she didn’t wear another pair for five years. A cowgirl at heart, she enjoys riding horses and quads and singing horribly to the latest country tune. She’s currently living happily ever after with her husband (who, sadly, is not a Duke) and her daughter (who is most definitely a princess). Prada and Prejudice is her first novel. Learn more about Mandy at

Vomit Karma

Lately I’ve read a few debut novels with very memorable vomiting scenes. So why would I focus on something so, well, gross? I have bad vomit karma. If one of my daughters’ friends has a woozy stomach, I’m pretty much guaranteed that she will hurl on my carpet. Oh, and she will have recently eaten something red or orange. My dog also regularly upchucks under my desk (I try not to take that too personally or symbolically).

So why the bad karma?

Come back with me to junior high (why did everything traumatic happen during those brief years?!?). My mom’s friend had just purchased a brand-spanking new Camaro with plush baby blue seats. She drove over and offered to take us out for ice cream. Yum!

I flopped into the curvy bucket seat, already knowing what flavor I’d order: pink bubble-gum. I quickly snarfed down an oversized single cone (we did not eat in the car). On the brief drive home, my stomach started flipping and flopping. I vomited. Pink ice cream, decorated with bits of dinner, splattered the baby blue interior like a really bad abstract painting. Good-bye new car smell!

The humiliation! The word “sorry” just doesn’t cover pink bubble-gum ice cream chunder on baby blue car interior. I think about this incident every time I’m cleaning up someone else’s vomit. And I always feel worse about that car than I do about my carpet.

If you’d like to read some humiliating (and hopefully fictional) vomit scenes check out: Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies by Erin Dionne (three cones), Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley (two cones), and Freaked by JT Dutton (five cones). I recommend all the other scenes in these books too!