Monday, September 15, 2014

Part 9, The Pros Give Us Some Advice, Featuring Valerie Storey & @WeWrite4U_Lit

I stumbled on Valerie Storey's work, and I was so taken with the first book I read of hers, that I had to read another. She is a writer of compelling tales. It's no wonder her last name is what it is. She is a remarkable STOREYteller. Today she's sharing her advice with us.

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON


Short Summary for Better Than Perfect:

When fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Haddon’s mother sends her from England to live with relatives in New Zealand, she is confronted with an unfamiliar world of foreign social values and sibling power struggles. Living with her domineering Auntie Faye and in the company of her beautiful, but enigmatic, cousin, Ravenna, Elizabeth wants nothing more than to be accepted by her new and seemingly perfect family. But perfection comes at a price, and Elizabeth quickly learns that appearances can be deceiving, forcing her to choose between a life of conformity or one of independence.

Advice for Writing YA Fiction:


To me the most important thing about writing for the YA market is to remember and record what it was like to be a young adult: all the pain, the joy, the worry, the confusion and especially the belief that no one, no one in the whole world can possibly understand what you’re going through. When I’m writing YA, I like to keep a journal solely for my young adult memories. I use the Natalie Goldberg prompt of “I remember. . . ” and go back to everything I can, from school to family to even what I wore and read at the time. I don’t hold anything back—just let it all out, exactly as I did at fifteen!




Valerie's advice brings to mind those journals we all kept as teens. I think mine were lost during some move to another state or country, but I do remember scribbling my thoughts and feelings into small leather bound books. Since I no longer have those scribblings, I think I'll take Valerie's suggestions and start pouring out what I remember of that time. It will be interesting what comes onto the page.


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If you haven't joined us yet in supporting Literacy in the month of Sept. I hope you will sign up today, copy the prepared Tweets to tweet about this issue, and retweet those that are up.  You can make this a special month for readers and writers. 




  • Sign up. 
  • Copy and paste the prepared Tweets, which I will refresh two times for your convenience. 
  • Tweet your heart out. 

12 TWEETS ( in parentheses I’ve put the source just in case you need it. Be sure to delete the citation or the tweet will be too long.) Hope you'll create some of your own, too.

Literacy is learned. Read to your kids. @WeWrite4U_Lit

Volunteer to teach reading. You're needed. @WeWrite4U_Lit

People who read contribute to our society. @WeWrite4U_Lit

Without literacy democracy doesn't stand a chance. @WeWrite4U_Lit

46% of American adults can't understand the label on their prescription medicine@WeWrite4U_Lit(http://www.readfaster.com/education_stats.asp)

44 million adults in U.S. can't read well enough to read a simple story to a child.@WeWrite4U_Lit (http://www.readfaster.com/education_stats.asp)

90% of U.S. welfare recipients are high school dropouts@WeWrite4U_Lit (http://www.begintoread.com/research/literacystatistics.html)

In U.S. one child in four grows up not knowing how to read.@WeWrite4U_Lit (http://www.begintoread.com/research/literacystatistics.html)

$80 billion or more each year in lost worker productivity@WeWrite4U_Lit (FYI citation: http://www.literacypartners.org/literacy-in-america/impact-of-illiteracy)

By end of 4th grade 2/3 of low-literacy students end up in jail or on welfare.@WeWrite4U_Lit (http://www.begintoread.com/research/literacystatistics.html)

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You don't have to write YA to use this technique. How do you capture the voice of your characters? Do you journal?  Have you joined in @WeWrite4U_Lit. No? And why would that be? 




60 comments:

  1. The teen years I'd rather forget...
    However, that would work for getting to know any character better.

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    1. It's just those horrid moments that we must revisit, so we can write about them.

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  2. I don't know much about New Zealand or how its social values might be different from England's. An interesting premise!

    And yes, I will tweet!

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    1. I'm not up on those differences either, but this was an excellent story that gave me some insights into both cultures.

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  3. This is great advice, Valerie. As a matter of fact, I recently bought a new journal. I think I'll use it to jot down those 'I remembers...' from my YA years. Thanks so much!

    Signing up now, CLee...

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    1. That's great, SA. And thanks for signing up for WeWrite4U_Lit

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  4. I call Valerie's technique mining. It not only helps you get into the characters you're writing about, it also can help bring memories to the surface, long forgotten little gems/nuggets of information.

    And I'll sign up too!

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    1. Mining is a perfect word, Bish. Thanks for joining us in supporting Literacy.

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  5. I love the journal idea--I could probably come up with a lot of story ideas that way. Actually, I think my livejournal may still be active (that was HUGE when I was in high school)...although I'm not sure if I really want to look at it. *shudders*

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    1. I'd forgotten livejournal. It would be great if you still have access to yours.

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  6. What great advice on writing YA...and what a tip on using a journal and "I remember"! Thank you for that.

    And...those are some scary stats you shared.

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    1. I like going back to read about day in my past. Just wish I had some from those teen years.

      As to the stats. . .they are scary.

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  7. I definitely agree that the key to writing for young readers is to try to take yourself back to youth. There are so many insecurities we have as a child and it's hard to get back into that mindset.

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    1. If I'd know I'd be writing about those years, I would have kept those journals and not lost them.

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  8. I'm grateful that I work in a school district and am refreshed daily on the perils of student feelings because I've sort of forgotten.

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    1. You are lucky, Teresa. When I visit schools, I'm always making notes about today's teens I talk to. I tell them, too. They laugh, but maybe they'll start journals when they think about what I've said.

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  9. Good idea, Valerie. I think I'll start writing down my memories, if I can remember that far back. :) Congratulations on your book.
    I tweeted again, C. Lee.
    Have a great week, everyone.

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    1. Thanks, Beverly. Appreciate your support. Here's to a wonderful week for you.

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  10. I was not a fan of the teen years and I never kept a journal but what a great way to rethink it! To write down what one went through and how one felt....Oh my heavens! just thinking somethings i was in la-la land

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    1. Mine either, but now those teen years are coming in handy.

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  11. I wish I'd have kept a journal when I was younger. For that matter I wish I'd kept a journal when I was older. Sifting through memories can be difficult and not always accurate.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I find that none of my memories are accurate, even a day later!.

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  12. Thank you, Lee! So much fun to read these insightful comments. Journaling has always been important to me, and I usually have at least 2 or 3 going at any given time. I hope your readers will be inspired to start recording their memories (amongst other story ideas) ASAP. There's something about writing by hand that really opens us up to finding the truth of what we really want to say. Thanks again for featuring Better Than Perfect!

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    1. My pleasure, Valerie. I did enjoy your story and I know others will, too. You have a strong writer voice.

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  13. great advice. As a teen I wrote in my diary everyday. I kept them all. They are full of teenage angst ;)

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    1. Maybe I'll come over and you'll share? Probably not. :-)

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  14. I did write journals as a teen - and I burned them all one night in a bonfire! :)

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    1. Those pages had to be chock full of YA material. I'm in tears, but I understand the burning.

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  15. I always put myself back to my teen years when writing Y/A and m/g... A writer must do this to be write believably. Angst, emotion, heartache, and DRAMA are all part of a teen's life.

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  16. I agree with Alex. I'd rather forget those years. But the advice is right on.

    I haven't signed up for the literary tweets. I'll try to tweet some next week after my mom leaves. It's just really busy this month being swim captain mom. But love you're doing this.

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    1. Life is one huge list of things to do. I'm so muddled anymore that I think I should shred that list and find a hammock.

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  17. Good advice. Keeping a journal can help in so many ways. My problem, I get busy and forget to write in it.

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  18. but she does need better covers, that one above is truly awful and lacks a significant professional touch..... Just the usage of fonts brought tears to my sensitive designer eyes :)

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    1. She needs you, DEZ! Maybe you can connect because she a fab writer.

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  19. The book sounds great. Choosing between conformity or independence - very difficult for a 14 year old...

    Lee, I'm not sure I can remember that far back... anyway, I was painfully shy and totally introverted at the age of 15 (don't want to remember those days. LOL)

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    1. I was just plain morose a lot of the time. It's a wonder my grandmother and mother didn't toss me. They deserved medals.

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  20. I love reading about how others work and advice for writing. THis was so useful!

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    1. It does help to see how others think and work. I agree.

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  21. That's an excellent idea, Valerie! I never could keep up with a journal/diary in school, but I'd probably do better for a character's diary. LOL!

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  22. Good advice no matter what you write - those teen years bubbled with emotion.

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  23. I've never been a successful journaler, but it doesn't stop me from trying again every once in a while.

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  24. Awesome advice. See, this is why I think I have such a strong grasp of what it feels like to be a teen, because I did journal EVERY DAY from the time I was 13 until the present day, chronicling everything. I read back through the early days and blush, then laugh. It's great to be young.

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  25. That's a great idea! I haven't completed a YA novel yet, but I have started a few and the things that I remember from being a teen and in high school did spark ideas.

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  26. Journals are a great idea. I usually write brief journal type sketches for each of my characters before a story starts to get to know them better. I kept some notes my girlfriends and I used to write in high school. It's funny to read them now. What I wouldn't give to have those problems again. :)

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  27. Great tips for YA:) Wish I'd kept a better jounral as a kid now...or a journal at all;)

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  28. I've kept a journal since I was 17. I've kept all the finished notebooks in a box so hopefully I don't lose those. I'd like to look back on how "woeful" my life was at those times. :D

    Writing Through College

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  29. Keeping a journal is a fabulous idea! Imagine how fun that would be to look back on once you've written in it for years.

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  30. Ah, my young adult years had me pining over a guy who had no romantic interest in me. I didn't enjoy it then, and I don't think I'd enjoy it now. I do recall apologizing to my journal for neglecting it though...

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  31. Not only do I still have a couple of my old journals from my teen years, but I also have two journals friends and I wrote back in forth in throughout high school. Definitely some good stuff in those!

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  32. I never did keep journals..I think I would be embarrassed by what i would have written in them. I do agree that to be able to write to that audience one would have to get back into that mind frame

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  33. I kept a journal for one school year for a class. I did really like doing it, but it was also a little bit...scary. My teacher read it, so of course I was afraid to put anything too personal in there.

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  34. i was a calendar person (still am)
    i have a "journal" of calendars from way back... pictures too, lots of pictures. and lists of popular music! music always triggers memories.

    great thoughts and thanks for helping me remember those days!
    and thanks for the literacy tweets! great thinking!

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  35. Great advice. I remember thinking I was so wise back then, and now I can't believe how naive I was! I used to keep a journal regularly, but I don't have time for that and blogging. So my blog is now my journal.

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  36. Excellent, spot-on advice, some of which I share with my writing students on a regular basis.

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  37. Great idea. I did keep a diary every year from around seven till my mid thirties. Then I stopped for some reason. It features song lyrics, drawings, poems and internal dialogue, so would have been a great now. If I hadn't thrown them all out! You live you learn. :)

    PS - I'll share some of those very worthy Tweets.

    shahwharton.com

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  38. I like that idea!!! Not that I have many memories to go with, but I think its solid advice for YA writers! :D

    S.K. Anthony

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  39. That is good advice! Sometimes it's hard to remember how we felt and thought at that age.

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