Friday, November 22, 2013

Real Teen Answers

Two weeks ago you asked the questions. And there were a LOT of great questions! Here's what our teens had to say in response… 

Do any of you have interesting or quirky hobbies or even jobs? Do you know of anyone who does?

MADISON: Well my friend bakes and makes sandwiches at Apple Bees, which I thought was kind of cool. And I work at a vet clinic. Those aren't really interesting or quirky, but they're unorthodox teenage jobs. 

LISSA: During the summer, I worked as a Games Salesperson at an amusement park, a la Adventureland. It was certainly interesting/quirky and not your average job!

RANDI: I used to volunteer at this awesome old hardware store when I was homeschooled. It sold local art and fancy tea and stuff and we got all kinds of people coming in. I met circus people while working there once (they bought a lot of tea), and it was the single most awesome thing that happened to me all year. They were so cool. 

Is student government a big deal at your school? Have you ever run or held an office?

MADISON: We have a student council, but they don't do much as far as I know. 

RANDI:  Ahahaha, nope. I literally have no idea what our student council even does, and neither do they, by the looks of it.

LISSA: Maybe for other grades, but my grade is the least school-spirited EVER. But in general, not really. The advertising/campaigning is always extremely creative, but not many people are really vying for a school government position. And no, I haven't run in high school.

OPERATIVE NOTE: My daughter serves on the Student Senate (J). They are responsible for Homecoming and other spirit activities, host a senior citizens prom, and participate in various community service projects such as Christmas Cheer.

Are there any clubs or sports you wish your school would add? Have you ever started a new club at your school?

MADISON: I really wish we had a creative writing club. Writing can definitely get lonely, so having a group of other people who enjoy it like I do would be really fantastic. 

RANDI: I really want us to have like a movie club or something along those lines, but my school's guidelines about media are so strict that we'd probably never watch anything good. Also quidditch, but that's never going to happen because where I live, most people still think Harry Potter is satanic.

LISSA:  No, we have potentially every possible club - including ping pong and bubblegum popping competitions.

Are there any topics or stories you'd like to see more of in your favorite genre(s)? Do you like the current offerings in your favorite genre(s), or do you feel there's room for more diversity in subject matter/storylines? For example, would you like to see more contemporaries set outside of a high school and revolving around a romance, or more fantasies featuring gnomes or golems?

LISSA:  I would honestly just like to see less tropes and cliches. Sure, I get that you can't make a story in a certain genre without specific storylines, but I would just like to read something a little more fresh.

RIV: Anything that deviates from the norm is going to excite me. There are so many books with similar concepts already on the market. In particular, I'm always looking for books were the romance is more insignificant and for YA political fantasies. I've also been hoping to find more feminine characters. (There's too much of a stereotype that only tough "non-girly" characters constitute as good ones. I have yet to see a girl stab someone with her stiletto.)

RANDI: I need a golem story more than I need lunch. I'm sure there are topics that need addressing or would be neat to address in YA right now, but nothing immediately comes to mind.

Do you have any favorite character names? Are there any character names you really haven't liked? Do you prefer character names that are common/popular/trendy, or lesser-used names?

RIV: I'm not partial to any types of names in particular, but I dislike "speshul" names that no one has ever heard of and even fewer people can pronounce. I do love names with meanings, though.

RANDI: Eh, it depends on the character. Although I will say this, as someone who is required to review a lot of sea creature literature, I am so fracking tired of people using the name Miranda for their bewildered human teenage girl love interest, not just because it's my name, but because it seems to be the only name people ever use, because of it's relation to The Tempest.

MADISON: Well I like different names depending on the genre- my favorite name I've ever used was for a dystopian novel I started. Her name was Iris, and it was interesting because you can't really use that name as often in regular ya. I especially like names like Kennedy or Reagan.  

LISSA: I LOVED Isaboe from Finnikin of the Rock and Karou from DOSAB - two of my favourite fantastical names ever. And I like semi-popular names, but roll my eyes every time I read about a popular girl named Tiffany or Brittany. Also, when a romantic interest has this PERFECT last name - like Johnny Sugar, or something that. JUST GIVE ME A BREAK.

What makes a book a DNF for you? At what point do you stop reading, or do you force yourself to finish even a book you hate or find boring?

RIV: Going through my dnf list on Goodreads, most of the books never even tickled my interest, or they didn't live up to my expectations. Some of them just didn't do what they said on the tin, and the blurb was much more exciting than the book itself. I finish most books that I start, but sometimes they're just dead boring, and are more pain than pleasure to read, so I put them down.

MADISON: The only book I never finished was The Host by Stephanie Meyer because the first quarter of it was incredibly boring (come to think of it, that's how most of the twilight series was.) I can usually struggle through, but that book would literally put me to sleep. If I can't relate to the characters, it doesn't how amazing the plot is. I'm out. 

LISSA: Honestly, the moment I lose interest, or the characters annoy me too much. Usually I wait until I am about 100 pages in before giving up - never do I give up later than that, because I feel as if I'm already too invested in the story to give up. Unlike many other people, I don't feel too bad giving up on a book, unless I've bought it and have been looking forward to it forever. I will not waste my life reading something I would rather not be reading.

RANDI: I'm usually really good about finishing books no matter how bad it is, but there are a few things that I will stop for, and those things are 1. Unbelievably stupid main character, triggering situations, and (this is mostly a paranormal romance problem) abusive relationships that aren't viewed as abusive. But I usually finish my books.
 

What's the best advice you can give on query letters? 

MADISON: Don't put excerpts from your novel in your letter. Agents hate that for some reason from what I've experienced. And don't tell the your age. They care about the fact that you wrote a book, not that you wrote said book when you're sixteen- in fact, they may skim over you because they feel that you're not mature enough to have mastered your craft. So no age. But then again, everyone is different so what doesn't work for some may end up working for others. These are just the rules I've picked up while querying.   

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