2014: My Year in Reading and Writing YA

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I’d been interested in writing YA fiction for a long time, but it was a low simmer kind of plan. A when-I-have-the time / a good idea / enough literary publications under my belt kind of plan. My BA in writing and literature from Sarah Lawrence didn’t take me there. Neither did my MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University, my freelance work as a small press editor, or my career in academic administration. What brought me to YA as a writer was reading YA. In 2014, what had previously been an occasional re-visitation of beloved classics (The Princess Bride, The GiverAre You There God? It’s Me Margaret) and a toe-dip into the bestseller list (Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games) became a full-on, no holds barred cannonball into the rich, diverse deep end of YA. As a reader, I fell in love. As a writer, I found my YA stride.

It’s late December, on the cusp of the new year, and here’s the report: on the writing front, after getting feedback from my beloved beta readers earlier this month, I’m deep in the revising trenches on the draft of my first novel, a spec fic YA set in a near future NYC boarding school. I’m balancing revising time with drafting the beginning stages of a brand new work in progress, a YA contemporary about first love, and sweet revenge. I’m looking forward to a 2015 filled with more writing, revising, and hopefully querying!

On the reading front, suffice to say I read a lot of YA fiction this year. Inhaled might be the more accurate term. I lived and breathed YA to the point where my husband would frequently ask me how I was liking such-and-such book…referencing something I’d finished two books ago! I started my YA reading in earnest in May 2014. 8 months and 36 books later, here’s what I read in 2014.

Blue = personal fave

Divergent series (Veronica Roth)

Gallagher Girls series (Ally Carter)
*I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You

Feed (M. T. Anderson)

The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

Delirium series (Lauren Oliver)

We Were Liars (E. Lockhart)

The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)

Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson)

The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)

Forever… (Judy Blume)

The Hunger Games series (Suzanne Collins)
*The Hunger Games (re-read)

The Truth About Forever (Sarah Dressen)

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock (Matthew Quick)

If I Stay (Gayle Forman)

It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Ned Vizzini)

Uglies series (Scott Westerfeld)

I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith)

Matched series (Ally Condie)

Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson (John Green and David Leviathan)

Imaginary Girls (Nova Ren Suma)

Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell)

The Selection series (Kiera Cass)
*The Selection

Razorland series (Ann Aguirre)

The Giver series (Lois Lowry)
*The Giver (re-read)
*Gathering Blue

The Maze Runner series (James Dashner)
*The Maze Runner

Wintergirls (Laurie Halse Anderson)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)

Gone series (Michael Grant)

Some Boys (Patty Blount)


And here’s what’s at the top of my list for 2015:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)

The House of the Scorpion (Nancy Farmer)

Unwind (Neal Shusterman)

Stray (Elissa Sussman)

Hate List (Jennifer Brown)

Looking for Alaska (John Green)

Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver)

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls (Anton DiSclafani)

Afterworlds (Scott Westerfeld)

#scandal (Sarah Ockler)

This Song Will Save Your Life (Leila Sales)

The list goes on, but I’ll stop there. You can always keep tabs on what I’m reading right now on the home page of my site. Here’s to all the words and feels in 2015!