Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Featured Blog: YA Highway

The eleven author-members of the collective YA Highway blog--Michelle Schusterman, Kirsten Hubbard, Kaitlin Ward, Amanda Hannah, Kristin Miller, Kody Keplinger, Kristin Otts, Lee Bross, Leila Austin, Kate Hart, and Emilia Plater--all maintain their own blogs. So why get together for another one?

"While individual blogs are important for talking about our own projects, the group blog gives us a chance to provide great content much more frequently, and from a constellation of voices," says Kirsten. "It means we get to utilize all our various industry connections, and promote much more widely. It also keeps us close as critique partners, which is the other core purpose of our group."

Plus, says Amanda: "It's just hellawesome."

Here's more from the YA Highway bloggers, who are celebrating their first anniversary (with giveaways)!

How do you things work behind the scenes at YA Highway? How are members determined? How is who posts what when decide?

KATE: Emilia and I are the newest members, and we were asked because the others enjoyed our personal blogs. We have a page in our Google Group where we keep a schedule, but people are flexible about trading dates when necessary. No one has an "assigned" area, but we know for instance that Kristin enjoys book reviews, and Michelle gravitates toward tech news, so in that way, we make sure a wide variety of topics get covered.

KIRSTEN: The first members of YAH were girls who cracked me up on the Absolute Write YA writing forums, and who had beta read my debut, Like Mandarin. In the early months, we added a few co-bloggers and teen bloggers whose contributions to AW and their own blogs we enjoyed. We chat often through a Google Groups forum, and keep a running blog schedule online. We try to keep things loose. Too much structure scares us! 

A problem inherent in group blogs is how many contributors to have. There are many writers we know would make fabulous additions to our blog, but adding more contributors might result in less organization, and less chances for each of us to post. We despise the idea of seeimg exclusive, though, and are happy to host guest bloggers. We also engage the writing community through our weekly Road Trip Wednesday topics, where readers are invited to participate on their own blogs.

KRISTIN: We use GG, but most awesome about YA Highway is that we have similar philosophies: We love YA, we're hard workers, we're not dramatic and we have SO MUCH RESPECT for one another. Those things make it easy to plan and post, bounce ideas around, etc. The new member initiation is a long, complicated procedure best remembered by the outside world as throwbacks to ancient barbaric coming of age procedures. Trust me, you don't want to know. 

Who handles the YA Highway twitter feed? Is it effective in getting more traffic to the blog? 

KATE: We all have access to the Twitter feed, and update it when we post. It does drive a lot of traffic our way. For example, when a few of our members attended SCBWI New York, they put together a vlog with help from a few of agents and editors. We tweeted the link, which got retweeted by others in the industry, and our traffic since then has basically doubled. 

Why is YA awesome? 

EMILIA: As a teen, I think YA is awesome because it cuts to the core of what it means to grow up. It's great to see so many fascinating, heartbreaking, hilarious stories converge at one relatable theme--being a teen is tough, dude!


Because it's such a vulnerable time in a person's life. A ton of growing up is done in these years, and it's such an exciting time. How could that NOT make for awesome books?

MICHELLE: Because that time of life is awesome! Emotions--love, fear, hate, anger--are all so much more intense, which makes for a more intense writing (and reading) experience. 

LEE: Because that time in a person's life is unlimited with possibility and its such a great thing to write about it! Especially when you can really make it hard by throwing in stuff like ghosts and demons!


 YA is about excitement. It's about new freedoms, difficult choices, and the sense that you're simultaneously growing up too fast and way too slowly. I am addicted to reliving those feelings through my characters. Plus, the YA community is uniquely vocal, supportive, and brilliant, which makes my heart sing every single day.

KRISTIN: Because they're the best-written books out there.

 Most of us also answer this question on our “about us” page.

How about some advice for newer bloggers and YA authors out there? 

EMILIA: Be fearless. Be awesome. And remember--the only thing that'll get you through this crazy trip is love. 

KAITLIN: Just keep blogging, keep writing, put yourself out there on Twitter and forums because this is a journey best done with friends there to support you. 

MICHELLE: Aside from WRITE? Get and give as much support as possible. Find a group of others sharing this journey and cuddle up close. 

LEE: As far as advice for new authors, don't worry too much about if you "can write that." Stay true to the story and characters and then most anything is allowed. As long as it feels authentic, it can work. And have fun! 

KIRSTEN: Don't just talk at the community--talk with them, and engage them. Reply to comments, tweets, e-mails, and encourage participation. The best fun and success is in the exponential friendships! 

AMANDA: Just keep writing. Find a good group of critique partners and keep at it. 

KATE: Just go for it. You’re not any more or less busy than anyone else, and you’ll never know unless you try. 

KRISTIN: Find a group that works for you. Don't feel pressured to stay if things aren't working out. A good critique partner/friend/co-blogger is hard to find. We just got lucky. And stumbled upon the right star/moon/planet configuration.

Find YA Highway online:


Kirsten Hubbard said...

Thanks so much for featuring us, SCBWI! Eight of us will be attending the LA conference next month, and we are utterly thrilled.

Kaitlin Ward said...

Thank you for featuring us!

SCBWI said...

Please stop by the SCBWI TEAM BLOG table and say hello, Kirsten. I'd love to meet you all.

Michelle Schusterman said...

Thank you Alice! This is fantastic. :)

Kate Hart said...

Thank you Alice-- we really appreciate it!

Amanda Hannah said...

Thanks Alice!