AW June Blog Chain — “Settings” — The Pacific NW

Rain drops on a rhododendron leaf.

Image via Wikipedia

Welcome to the June blog chain.   Ralph Pines preceded me in the chain and Pezie will follow me.  The complete list of participants is at the end of my post.

This month’s prompt: Setting the Scene

Write a location description, and make us feel as if we are there. No dialogue, no introductory comments, just a location. We’re the tourists, you’re the guide.

I have a confession to make–this is NOT my cup o’tea.  I am more of a dialogue girl.  Any-who, this is an excellent exercise for me, a needed exercise.

Without further ado, welcome to the setting of my (Iris’s) YA novel.  I’ve taken an existing scene and edited out all the dialogue and replaced it with prose, and now that it’s done, I rather like it being dialogue-free.

Rex stands to dispose of his food tray.  Wordlessly, he cocks his head.  His grin is a effective enough leash, and with a sigh, I extricate myself from the institutional picnic table.  I trot alongside him as the watchful scowls of a few classmates escort us out of the cafeteria.

Down the hallway to the exterior door we walk.  It’s a closed campus but we’re allowed outside.  No one, not even a smoker, has opted for this limited form of freedom.  Why would they?  It’s pouring down rain.

Rex herds me outside anyway.

The grass beyond the sidewalk swims beneath a glassy surface broken only by kamikaze raindrops.  The rain has spared no section of sidewalk, blowing in sideways to soak even the walls and walkway under the eaves.  We pause and stare into the grey gloom.

I feel like I should apologize for the weather to this New Yorker who stands by my side.  That’s what we do in the Pacific Northwest—apologize, always apologize for the drizzle and clouds, for the constant lack of sun that will grip your soul and squeeze out every morsel of joy if you show a moment’s weakness.

In the gloom, I sniff the air that smells of mineral-laden tap water with a twist of mildew.

Rex steps to the edge of the covered area and stretches a hand out to catch a few raindrops.  He repeats the gesture with two cupped hands and laps up his catchings.  I watch his chest expand as he breathes in deeply.  His exhale is loud and satisfied and he murmurs something about how refreshing it all is.  I snort back my disdain.  He won’t think that after he’s lived here awhile.

With that same enslaving grin, he retreats and says we should move to the front of the building.

Again, I follow.  Beats spending the last few minutes of our lunch break in the oppressive kangaroo court of student opinion.

We walk in a silence as heavy and ponderous as the bruised skies that press in on us.

When we turn the corner, Rex slides his back down the wall and sits on the sidewalk, the first dry patch I’ve seen.  The wind has overlooked driving the wetness toward this compass point.

I slide down in similar fashion and sit next to him.  We’re somewhat hidden behind a grouping of rhododendrons nestled near the based of a monolithic evergreen that creaks and sways in the wind.  Come May, the stalwart rhodies will explode in a riot of crimson and cotton candy pink.

Our thighs and arms brush, but neither of us adjusts to make more room.  In the corona of Rex’s warmth, I sit and watch the liquid sunshine.

The participants:

orion_mk3 – (link to this month’s post)
juniper – (link to this month’s post)
LadyMage – (link to this month’s post)
dolores haze – (link to this month’s post)
jkellerford – (link to this month’s post)
Ralph Pines – (link to this month’s post)
AuburnAssassin – YOU ARE HERE
pezie – (link to this month’s post)
WildScribe – (link to this month’s post)
Inkstrokes – (link to this month’s post)
Irissel – (link to this month’s post)
Guardian – (link to this month’s post)
Lyra Jean – (link to this month’s post)
egoodlett – (link to this month’s post)
cwachob – (link to this month’s post)
xcomplex – (link to this month’s post)
Della Odell – (link to this month’s post)
Aheïla – (link to this month’s post)
Robbi Sommers Bryant – (link to this month’s post)
TheMindKiller – (link to this month’s post)

What I Like and Don’t Like About Writing YA Fiction

Girl Reading A Book

Image by This Is A Wake Up Call via Flickr

As I near the end of my first foray into writing for teens, I’ve collected quite the range of random thoughts from the experience and from the bits of feedback I’ve thus far gleaned.

First, am I qualified to comment, given I am many decades removed from being a teenager myself?  I do read the genre, not exclusively, but quite a bit.  I also have two prototypes of the teen beast running around in the wild that I may observe at my leisure (whether I want to or not.)  The latter reason alone should be sufficient justification.

Second, I’ve not yet queried, certainly haven’t published a single bon mot, so what follows are EARLY impressions only.

What I don’t like about YA fiction:

  • No sex
  • Minimal cussing and swearing
  • HEA is happily ever after for now (because I’m in the “thorough and  exhaustive search” camp vs. the soul mate camp)
  • Cultural references are big with teens but can easily date a YA book so I stay away, plus mine are hideously out of date
  • I don’t have any teen beta readers…yet.  My teens are boys but my writing is more likely to appeal to girls
  • Fear of having too mature of a voice, making the characters unrelatable
  • Present tense writing

What I do like:

  • Present tense writing
  • First person POV is my natural inclination and is widely accepted in YA
  • I get a second chance to do what I couldn’t do, was afraid to do, or didn’t want to do as a teen with no negative consequences
  • My characters can be immature, headstrong and rash and not damage their likability too much
  • I can imbue the parents with more intelligence than real life teens credit their own parents
  • I get to dress my characters in what I want them to wear without a single word of protest
  • My characters listen to me!!!  (this is HUGE!)

I have no idea if my YA novel will or won’t play in Peoria.  This was a writing journey I wanted, needed to take.  I’ve not hidden my genre confusion.  Thus far I or Claire or that other wench have written romance, urban fantasy, suspense, erotica, horror, science fiction, steampunk and now contemporary young adult.  Perhaps my next will be a western.  Oh, wait, I’m recalling the middle grade book I started writing for my youngest son.  It’s…wait for it…a western.  Ha!  So there you go.

I’m sure all the genres will have likes and dislikes about them.  The question will be: which one or ones have fewer or less odious dislikes than likes.  Or to go with the glass is half full analogy–which one will have likes overwhelming enough to swamp the dislikes?

So, dear readers, do you have “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up” confusion? If so, how do you indulge it, if at all?  What drew you to a particular genre or target age group?