I was a Twitter Doubter

It’s true. I was completely skeptical that any form of social media could improve any part of my life in any way. I wasn’t even on facebook (a big part of that was my fear of being stalked by my students).  So this post is a bit of an ode to my love for twitter. Make your face of disgust now ye doubters…then read on!

Reasons why I love twitter:

1. There is an incredible community of YA writers on twitter. And for the most part they are open and friendly even if they don’t know you. (Provided you don’t act like a total bonehead stalker -that could be another post.)

2. Twitter is communication without commitment. I’m sure not everyone feels this way about facebook, but to me facebook is much more showy. See how pretty my garden is. Look at how great my vacation was. Check out how cute my kid is. I’m sure I’m going to get push back on this, and I know not everyone is lucky enough to have family close by who can see their great vacation/garden/kid whenever they want…but my point is it’s very calculated and very staged. Twitter, in its 140 character glory, is very improvisational, silly, casual, cranky, and true to life.  Okay, not everyone on Twitter is like this, but the people I like to follow are.

3. Twitter helps me write. Really. Twitter keeps me sitting at my computer longer. It gives me short breaks; just enough time to recharge and go back to whatever I’m working on. The key word here is short. It’s not a long email, or 185 vacation photos. It’s just a quick thought, a great shared quote, maybe a link to save for later.

Back to facebook. I don’t post that frequently on fb. Maybe it’s my own hang up, but fb makes me feel like I’m in high school again and I might not be pretty or cool enough to say the right thing. But I do tweet quite a bit. So if you can’t get enough of my personal charm and wisdom feel free to follow @sashikaufman. You won’t regret it.

(And of course this will be linked to my fb page. Help, help, I’m drowning in irony and hypocrisy!)

Never Do This Before Bed

I’ve been wrestling with a bit of an insomnia monkey in the last month and as such I’ve been trying to keep my pre-bed routine fairly dull and screen-free. Last weekend when I was staying at my parents’ house I made the mistake of grabbing my high school yearbook off the shelf at around 10 pm. Big mistake. Huge.

Soon I was poring over the pages, trying to remember private jokes from…well…from a while ago and pondering the meaning of several very deep and heartfelt messages from people I didn’t even remember being friends with. It also got me thinking about this article.  The gist of it is that as we get older we’re less open to forming new friendships. I have three close friends I’ve held on to since high school and several more from college who are pretty critical to my existence. *smiles and waves *  The whole thing made me wonder about the ways we are more open to others when we’re adolescents.  This is of particular interest to me because I write about adolescents -and particularly ones who form unlikely friendships and relationships.

There was one message in my yearbook from someone who claimed a conversation we had (May 24th 1994 -yes he cited the date) changed his life. Yep, changed his life! And I have no memory of it, except a sneaking suspicion I might have told him I thought he was gay. Not so subtle in those days. Heck, still not very subtle.

There was another short message from someone who simply signed as “no future boy”. Now that was intriguing. No idea on that one either. So the bottom line is reading your high school yearbook is great fodder for writing, and very bad for sleeping.

I want to go in field

This morning I was reading a book to my two year old. (Incidentally, it’s one that she loves and I find mind-numbing) And she pointed to a picture of a sunny flower filled meadow and said, “I want to go in field.” I know what she means and I’m amazed that this kind of connection with books starts so early. Yes, I wanted to tell her. I want to be a student at Hogwarts too. Or years ago I wanted to gather trash and treasure with the Boxcar Children, play on the prairie with Laura and Mary, or fight the forces of evil with Alanna of Trebond.

I’m thrilled that books are exciting to her in this way; that they make her want to be a part of something new or go somewhere unusual. It is a limitless and life-long journey.

What’s the book you can remember wanting to be a part of?

YA Boys; A Matter of Taste

I’ve read a few books in these first 2 1/2 weeks of my summer vacation. Last night I picked up a YA title that’s been on my to-read pile for some time. Because my own soon to be published YA is first person male POV I’m always interested to read books that are also from this perspective.

Unfortunately after reading the first 20 pages I found myself completely disappointed with the voice and the main character. Let’s call this character semi-insecure boob obsessor. It might be okay if he was self-deprecating and humble, but he’s obnoxious and self-obsessed. And not in a funny way.  Perhaps the point of this book is for the character to figure out what a jerk he is and learn to see people from the shoulders up. But what if it’s not? How long do I want to go on this journey with this character?

But more problematic than my distaste for the main character, is my inability to connect with this voice. What fourteen year old boy knows the phrase “visible panty line”? Sure they know what it is, but only the sales women in Macy’s actually use the term. This to me suggests that the author is too close to the main character and hasn’t effectively separated his own adolescence from the character’s. It’s a tricky thing to do; understand the adolescent mind while writing with one that’s 20 or 30 years older. But it really has to be done well for YA fiction to work, for me at least.

Update: a little goodreads research revealed that those who loved the book found the main character to be funny and true to the male adolescent. Those who didn’t, found him to be offensive and stereotypical. So once again it’s probably a matter of taste.

Incidentally, there are plenty of great YA authors out there writing from the male POV who I think are doing it brilliantly. John Green, A.S. King, Matt De La Pena  and A. M. Jenkins are just a few that come to mind.