Friday, June 28, 2013

Ask-A-Dude: White Knight Edition!

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another edition of Ask-a-Dude!

Remember, you can ask your own questions using the submission form on the right!

Today's question is:

Q: My guy friend keeps jumping to my defense in public. I grew up with three brothers, I can take care of myself. What's he doing?

A: Ah, yes. The White Knight.

Here's the thing: guys can broadly be categorized into three groups:

1. Dilrods - easily identified by their misogyny and overuse of body spray. For further reference, see the Texas State Legislature.

2. Men -  guys of any age who look you in the eye when they talk to you and don't talk trash about their exes.

3. White Knights - otherwise nice guys who think they can get in your good graces by coming to your defense for every little perceived sleight. 

Men and Dilrods are easy to spot.

Men show up on time and introduce you to their friends. Confidence surrounds them like a hunky aura that smells of mahogany and pancakes. They don't have to tell you they're men, you just know.
Real men smell like me, son.
On the other end of the spectrum, Dilrods are just as easy to identify. They run in packs because they're too insecure to walk alone. They start Kickstarter campaigns on how to pick up girlsIf you're not sure he's a Dilrod, don't worry. At some point he'll open his mouth and remove all doubt.
Nope. Nope, nope, nope.
Then there are White Knights. They're a little more difficult to pin down. That's because White Knights aren't always White Knights. They begin life as nice guys who are trying to become Men. But presented with the right stimulus, they transition to the White Knight stage very quickly.
A White Knight farts in your general direction.
They're like clownfish, changing their position in the hierarchy as needs demand.

Wait, you didn't know clownfish can change gender based on need? In their dominance hierarchy, if the top female is removed from the group, one of the largest and most dominant males will become female.

Yeah, Pixar has some 'splainin' to do.
The term White Knight seems to have originated among gamers and the online forums they frequent. In that rarefied world, men see women as unicorn farts: so uncommon, delicate and ephemeral, they must be escorted by armed guard through every thread by self-appointed knights of the douche table. 

Want to see them in action? Just introduce yourself in a gaming thread as JanelleDragonborn19. Almost immediately you'll be inundated with comments like:

"Hark, a beautiful maiden in our midst!"
"Aw, don't let these idiots scare you off, they've just never seen a girl before."
"Hey gurl, so cool ur a gamr! PM me and I'll explain how this works."
"Hello, mi'lady, welcome to our fine realm!"

The weirdly flowery faux-Arthurian speech is totally authentic. For some reason some White Knights actually think they're real knights. You know, the kind that work at Medieval Times and have shields made of Styrofoam.

The White Knight typically assumes you somehow need to be "shown the ropes." This despite the fact that you've been gaming since you could first hold a controller or, you know, designed the damn game.
Voted Least Likely to Need a Walkthrough: Kim Swift, lead designer on Portal and Left 4 Dead 1 & 2
White Knighting is motivated from a positive place, I guess. At some point in our lives, men have watched their wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers be treated poorly by some asshole on a power trip. So when our hackles get raised, by a rude comment or a leery eye, we're not trying to treat you like an inferior or imply that you can't take care of yourself. Some guys are just expressing their discomfort with other guys behaving badly and giving all guys a bad name.

But most of the time, this isn't really White Knighting. True White Knights, the cringe-worthy kind that make you feel like you need a shower, have an agenda.
Put simply, White Knights think they have a chance with you.

Put crassly, your buddy wants to sleep with you.

This becomes painfully apparent in Reddit threads where a woman will post some cosplay pictures. Female Redditors know what they're wading into. For the most part, posters are respectful and post comments about the outfit and how closely it matches the target character. Some even manage to find a way to be charming and complimentary about the cosplayer herself.

But all it takes is one Dilrod and his hurr-hurr-hurr comment about the poster's butt to bring out all the White Knights.

Suddenly, the thread is filled with men challenging each other to jousts for milady's honor or explaining that no one else but the White Knight appreciates women like he does.

Followed by creepy appeals for a private conversation to discuss the issue in more detail.

Ugh, he might as well ask if he can wear her skin as a suit. Creepy Hannibal-wannabe is creepy.

The thing is, guys, if you really were that in tune with women you'd know your desperation has a scent. And it doesn't smell like mahogany and pancakes.

The one good thing about a White Knight is that, because his behavior is rooted in a desire to be seen in a positive light, the recipient has a lot of power. He wants her attention which means she already has his.

Use this to your advantage. Your friend has feelings for you. And his White Knightery is an awkward way of expressing those feelings. Let him know he doesn't have to "protect" you, that you can take care of yourself. If you need any help, you'll be sure to let him know.

Most White Knights will realize that they've come on like morons and back off. With any luck, your White Knight will shed his Styrofoam shield and become a real man.

If not, they're always hiring at Medieval Times.

Copil challenges you to a joust on Twitter (@Copil).

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June's Comment of the Month Winner!

There have been so many great responses to our From the Vault Monday questions, so thanks to everyone who participated! We had some favorites this month, but sadly, we can pick only one. The author of our favorite comment will get to choose a book from The Book Depository.

We asked you: Let's talk about writing... Where did you find inspiration for your current work-in-progress?

And our winner, STEPHANIE ALLEN, said:
"I majored in history (specifically medieval) in college, which has been a goldmine for ideas. The WIP I'm wrapping up right now was inspired by the Wars of the Roses, with a dash of the Medici sprinkled on top. For my MC, who is in an arranged marriage, I was inspired by the women I came across in research for papers - I found myself wondering how they must have felt about all of it since there was nothing from their POV."

Great comment, Stephanie! And you are so right, history is definitely a goldmine for compelling story ideas. Just send us a quick email to yaconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com to let us know what book you would like sent to you. Thanks again for taking part in our From the Vault Mondays!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Review: MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza

From Goodreads:
Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do. 
Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.
Here's the deal, I'm not big on covers. I'm a dude, so the shelves of the YA section at the bookstore are like the cool kids' table at my high school: lots of gorgeous people who are all out of my league. I hear the Gallagher Girls tittering because my pants are too short. I half expect one of the Pretty Little Liars to jump down and stuff me in a locker.
Stephanie Meyer's Twilight says hello at Barnes & Noble
But I loved me some MILA 2.0 cover action! From the "disintegrating" face to the guy-friendly 2.0 tag (which makes it feel like I'm buying a new Bungie first person shooter), this is the kind of title I would have picked up in a bookstore if such a thing still existed.

And how about that tagline?

No one suspects what she's made of.

See, because she's an android! What's that? It also describes her character? Whut? Holy crap!
Mind = Blown!
See what I mean? This book works on, like, ten different levels! And if this were high school, I'd end it there and just write my book review based on the cover.
Debra Driza's MILA 2.0 is a character study in what happens when pretty people have faces made of Chiclets.
Boom. Where's my GED?

But I'm older now and I actually read books and I'm really glad I read this one.

Mila is an everygirl who simply wants to fit in. She's new to town, having moved there after a terrible fire that killed her father.

Quick detour: you can download Origins: The Fire, a short prequel story which details the events leading up to MILA 2.0. It's a great way to sample the book and a publishing trend I approve of. Not that you needed my approval, publishing world, but if you do, then you should know I also approve of maple bacon binding on all my books and injectable whipped cream.

So Mila just wants to hang with her BFF and crush on the adorbs loner. I mean, it's totally relatable. One minute you're sitting in the back of a pickup playing cute with the boy of your dreams, the next minute your skin is being ripped from your arm and you discover you're an android. I mean, hello, happens all the time! That's just what I call Tuesday, knamean?

For those of you calling spoilers, let me remind you that MILA'S FACE IS COMING APART ON THE COVER! I'm not giving away any secrets here.

After discovering she's step-sister to a Roomba, Mila resists her newfound abilities. Sure, she's half military hardware, half Garmin GPS unit, but she doesn't want to run with it because she finds herself feeling less human as a result. It's endearing and makes the process of discovery an interesting one while keeping the story from becoming all about the hardware.

And her powers are way cool. She can target threats and neutralize them using sensors that speak to her directly in her brain. If I could do that, I'd be using my new powers to make cheddar at the state fair by guessing your weight to the ounce. But Mila's better than that. She has to be, she's being chased by two sinister groups. One made her, the other wants to use her. On the run with her "mother," the woman who stole her from a government lab, Mila just wants to get back to the adorbs loner. Why can't Mila have nice things?!

There's a lot of action in this book and it reads like a summer blockbuster. The marketing copy makes her out to be a female Jason Bourne. I felt this was pretty accurate. While there's plenty of gun play, martial arts and car chases, a lot of Mila's success has to do with how she uses her brain which, while enhanced, is not this hyperthreaded, overclocked, machine intelligence. She really is "just" a girl. And therein lies her strength.

One of the subtler things I really liked about Driza's writing is her willingness to let parts of her story "steep." There are plenty of loose ends at the end without feeling unsatisfying or aggressively setting up any sequels (which, I am happy to report, there will be). Mila's love interest, for example, doesn't take the stereotypical route and spend the entire book all up in Mila's gorgeous, raven-colored razor cut. 

Can we take a moment to talk about that hairstyle, BTW? Does Mila's cover photo remind you of anyone?
Don't stress, hun. A good sunblock will keep your face from peeling like Mila's.
Detour: a lot of you have been very cruel about this young lady, and I'LL HAVE NONE OF IT! In my Monica Lewinsky fanfic, she finds love in the arms of a hot detective investigating the murders of several evil papparazzi. Maybe Driza wasn't going for a Monica vibe when she worked with the cover designers, but I, for one, am grateful nonetheless.

Most of my reviews tend to look at books that are good YA titles for reluctant guy readers. This is definitely one of them. Top three reasons I think this is a great book for guys:

1. The love interest, while interesting and appealing, isn't overdone. In guyspeak: it's no sausage fest. Guys hate sausage fests. Unless it's an actual, you know, sausage fest.

2. Mila has echoes of other kickass female heroines like Jennifer Garner in Alias, Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy and Eliza Dushku in Dollhouse. Um, it just occurred to me, did I miss a meeting where everyone agreed we weren't making shows like that anymore? WTH?

3. Monica Lewinsky. Yes, I'm making that a thing, people!

MILA 2.0 is, of course, a title for males and females. But if you have any guys looking for a good action/adventure staring a hot girl who looks good while breaking someone's arm, or if you have any Monica Lewinsky fetishists in your social circle, get them a copy of MILA 2.0. It's fun, kinetic and a great set up for what promises to be a strong series.

I hope you enjoy!

Copil is Three Laws Safe. You can follow him on Twitter (@copil).

Monday, June 24, 2013

From the Vault

Every Monday, we post a reading/writing-related question for our followers, and at the end of the month, one lucky commenter is selected to choose a title from our Vault! Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome books... OR the monthly winner may select any one book to be ordered for them from the Book Depository

(To enter, please follow YA Confidential and make sure your email address is linked to your comment in some way. We'll need to get in touch with you if you win.)

(Norman Rockwell - Girl at Mirror - Cover illustration for
The Saturday Evening Post, March 6, 1954)

Today's Question – Which YA character reminds you most of yourself?

Matt - Probably Troy Stotts, from Ghost Medicine, by Andrew Smith. Everything that poor boy goes through mirrors my own life. But more importantly, he handles it much as I would have.

JaimeI thought and thought about this question, stared at my books for ages, and here’s my answer: All of them in some small way, none of them in any big way. I find tiny things in common with a good number of YA characters, but part of what I love so much about reading YA is the many diverse characters with whom I have very little in common. That’s what makes it so fun! It’s a great opportunity to experience an entirely different viewpoint, to walk in someone else’s shoes for a bit. Because you know what? Reading a character too similar to me would just be boring. :-)

Jessica - Allyson in Just One Day by Gayle Forman. It would take me too long to talk about all the ways I feel we're similar, but this character spoke to me in a way that few YA characters do. We share a lot of good qualities and bad qualities...and I definitely have a "Lulu" personality, too. 

Katy - Like Jess, I see a lot of myself in Just One Day's Allyson. Her way of thinking is similar to my own, and we made a lot of the same mistakes in that transitional high-school-to-college time. Jill from Sara Zarr's How to Save a Life is another character who reminds me of me. She can be cynical, she keeps her emotions inside, and she's slow to trust. But, she's also sensitive and super loyal. I hope that's me. :-) 

Leigh - Today's my birthday, so yeah, let's partay! Gonna party like it's my birthday! :o) Sorry--which YA character... hmm... I used to know the answer to this question, and now I've forgotten what it was. It's like the meaning of life. I dreamed the answer, but when I woke up, I couldn't remember what I dreamed. I'll say... I'll say... holee... jeez. Can I do TV here? How about movies? I'm suddenly feeling very Juno, "I don't know what kind of a girl I am." ;o) If I come up w/something better, I'll let you know! <3

Erica - I actually have never thought of this in regards to book characters - I have with movies. The character that Katherine Heigl always seems to play, the kind of uptight, control freak person is all totally me (wow that sounds kind of negative now). But I don't think I've found a character in YA who reminds me of myself yet - there are some that have parts though. I feel like Jennifer Echols's heroines are very spunky and not afraid to speak up for themselves, which reminds me of myself some. 

Your turn! Which YA character reminds you most of yourself?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Want Your First Page Critiqued by Teens?!

Okay, so who doesn't want their target audience's feedback on their book? Every month, we offer that chance!

Send the first page of your YA novel to and one submitter will be randomly chosen to have their page critiqued on the blog by our teen spies! They'll reveal what they liked, what they didn't, and whether or not they'd keep reading! 

Deadline for page submission: June 28!

If you've submitted in previous months, but haven't been selected, feel free to submit again!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

We Need More Teens Taking Art Camps

My mom was surprised that the screenwriting camp I took last week didn't get canceled.

It only had seven students, including me. It's a good thing it wasn't held during the school year, when classes would be once a week, or there would be a point where only one student comes to class. That happened to my Mom when she was teaching class during Spring Break.

Oh, and I wanted to take a Directing class two years in a row. Both times, it was canceled due to low sign-up rates.

And it's not because attendance is declining. Not at all. With many camps for younger kids, there's often full attendence, waiting list for just in case someone withdraws, and even multiple sessions created if there's high demand.

So what's with the low teen attendance then?

Reasons why there are less teens taking art classes:

First of all, many parents put their kids into summer camps so they're doing something for the summer. It's something more than daycare. I know this personally. Throughout the years, I've heard campers asked why they're in the class, and their answer would be something along the lines of "because my parents want me to". It makes sense, especially if the camper is young and can't stay home alone.

But the teenage years come, and now they can stay home. Or they have more agency to hang out with friends. Or they're able to drive someplace else. Or they have a part-time job. Therefore, less potential teen campers.

Second of all, and most importantly, arts among teenagers just isn't as encouraged. As we get older, left-brain academics are emphasized more. Less creativity, more tests. Marketing is also less orientated. The theater series Mom's art institution does is either advertised for all ages, or for children, but never mainly teens. It's just isn't a high-demand demographic.

Is this a problem?

To admit, it isn't a huge problem. More like a worrying observation. It can be just local.

Small classes are good. The teacher gets to interact on a more personal level with each student, and the students get to know each other better. Also, there's more flexibility for the criteria, because we're all older and a consensus is easier to reach. I'm taking a poetry/prose writing class right now. There's only eight people, and it's an ideal number.


On the other hand, with low demand, less of these kind of classes are possible. It lowers opportunities for teenagers who want to try artistic pursuits. 

We need more teenagers taking art classes outside school. Even if they don't want to be an artist for a profession, having at least some knowledge can help later in life. My mom also teaches corporate workshops combining creative exercises with business-orientated ones, and it helps.

We can't neglect half of the brain. Neglecting is a disfavor.

How can we fix that?

Simple answer: push teens to at least consider taking art classes.

If you're a parent of a teen, research camps and classes nearby, and bring them up with your child. If they don't want to, that's fine, but if they're interested, help them. You might create new opportunities for your child.

If you're a teen and you want to take art camps or classes, talk about it to your friends and peers. Consider taking the same class. It's a great way to hang out while doing something fun and productive.

And it's not limited outside of school. You could establish a club. That can lead to oodles of benefits down the line, academically, socially, and emotionally.

And if you're an art teacher...please comment. I'll like your side of the story too, besides my Mom's.

It's a minor issue, but it's one we can help solve.

What's your experience with art classes and camps? What are some other ways to encourage teens to consider creative pursuits?

Chihuahua Zero's computerized signature.

PS: Before I stumbled upon this idea, I considered writing a post on Kanye West, but I couldn't tie the idea back into teen trends. I mean, his art is crazy, but in a good way. Just put your thinking cap on when listening to the lyrics.

Monday, June 17, 2013

From the Vault - What are your three?

Every Monday, we post a reading/writing-related question for our followers, and at the end of the month, one lucky commenter is selected to choose a title from our Vault! Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome books... OR the monthly winner may select any one book to be ordered for them from the Book Depository

(To enter, please follow YA Confidential and make sure your email address is linked to your comment in some way. We'll need to get in touch with you if you win.)

Today's Question: You’re stranded on a desert island – oh no! Which three novels would help you enjoy your time as a castaway?

MattCastaway? Castaway!?! Definitely not Lord of the Flies. Maybe Robinson Crusoe, or the Swiss Family Robinson, or whatever. One of those books that could teach you how to make shelter and stuff. Then ... I would need long, re-readable books. Maybe like The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, or War and Peace, by Tolstoy. Or something longer.

Jaime - Ugh. Only three? 1) Well, since the Harry Potter books will never be one volume, I’ll choose my favorite (and second biggest) of the bunch: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; 2) The Hunger Games because I’m not sure I’ll ever tire of it; and 3) Jane Eyre for the same reason as #2. I think War and Peace wouldn’t be a bad idea either because stranded on a desert isle is pretty much the only way I’d get through that one.

Jessica - Impossible question is impossible! How can I just pick three? Argh. Well, three books I've never tired of reading are The Great GatsbyCatcher in the Rye, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I'll just go with those three so I don't have to drive myself crazy thinking about this like it's a real thing I have to choose.

Leigh - omg. My husband always likes playing this game. But with everything--books, records, favorite celebrity chefs... *cough* I mean, books. Let's see. Something long, I guess. I'll go with the last three Harry Potter books. I've only read the first in the series, and hubs keeps telling me to just start with Goblet of Fire and finish. Only I guess in this case, it would be Order of the Phoenix and finish...

Alison - The Hunger Games (will need some action, adventure, and romance), The Great Gatsby (the best classic EVER), and the Bible (I'll probably be doing a lot of praying).

Alexandra - 1) an OMNIBUS of all seven Harry Potter novels. I don't care if that's cheating. ;) (Oh, fine, I pick book 5 if I must choose only one.) 2) Sabriel by Garth Nix 3) Maledicte by Lane Robbins

Katy – I’m going to piggyback off Alexandra’s choice and go with the entire Harry Potter series (it’s really just ONE story, right?) But if I had to pick one of the seven books, I’d go with the third – my favorite. I’d also takeKen Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, because it’s looooong and awesome, and Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road, because life without Jonah Griggs would be simply unbearable.
Erica - Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau, and Sea by Heidi R Kling - These are my favorite books currently and I just adore them. They are all very different from one another - one fantasy, one futuristic, and one contemp. The perfect blend to keep me going while I'm a castaway. 

Chihuahua Zero - I would go with The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, Unwind by Neil Shusterman, and I Am The Messenger by Marcus Zusak.

Copil - I'd start with one of the longest novels ever written, In Search of Lost Time by Proust. I'd hollow out that bad boy and make a canoe to get the hell of the island. Also, toilet paper. Next, I know I'm gonna catch grief for using this as one of my titles, but I'd bring the King James version of the Bible. A desert island would be the perfect opportunity to finally make my late, Catholic mom proud by reading it. Lastly, I'd probably take something funny, like some Douglas Adams, because the thought of spending the rest of my life celibate would be really depressing. 

Your turn! Which three novels would help you enjoy your time as a castaway?

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