Guest Blogger: Daisy Whitney - Teaching YA

This is a first for Write on Target. I've got a guest blogger! Daisy Whitney has been like my fairy godmother, encouraging me with my new YA (young adult) novel, educating me in the ways of YA and even starting my YA library (she sent me five books to read, oh yes she did!). Daisy is a producer, on-air correspondent, podcaster and expert in the new media business. And, she's a talented writer with her first novel, THE MOCKINGBIRDS being released next fall. Please, I implore you, check out her amazing website complete with her fabulous New Media Minute. Daisy is more energetic and powerful than a tornado, and she's one of the kindest, most down-to-earth people I know. And, apparently, she thinks I've got a LOT to learn about the world I'm currently word-playing in. Hopefully, you'll learn a lot, too.

So. ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, heeere's Daisy!


As some of you may know, our dear blog host Debbie Schubert is embarking on a new manuscript, and this one's for teens. Naturally, to prepare her fully for the young adult genre, she must go back to school and begin the education of a YA author. Where does this education begin, you may ask?

In the most fun place of learning there is - the library. (Or the bookstore, or the e-reader storefront, or and so on...) While there, Debbie will become a student of YA and learn the rules of the YA world. And, how to break 'em.

Now, Debbie, the first order of business is to tell us what you know about YA.

Um, it's the coolest genre there is?

Yes, correct! It IS the coolest genre there is! You can write fantasy, paranormal, contemporary, dark, edgy, steam punk, poetry, verse and then mix up 'em all up in a big blender too and see what you come up with. YA is genre-bending and rule-defying and a complete playground for creativity!

Onto the second order of business. Now, I'm presuming you've read "Forever" by Judy Blume and if you haven't I have one word for you: RALPH! Now if that didn't make you blush, you must go to detention where you will read sad stories in which animals die like "Old Yeller" and "Where the Red Fern Grows."

No, please don't make me do that! I've got six cats and a bunny. Plus, I'm a VEGETARIAN and I HATE when animals die!!!

Good. You remember "Forever" and it was a bible for you, too. So you get to pass onto the next assignment and here it is:


And in the spirit of learning and sharing, I think it's only fair Debbie write book reports on these books, right? Speak loudly with a big fat blog comment or two if you agree.

Hey, wait a minute...

And now, the teacher will present Debbie Schubert's Official Indoctrination into the Wild and Woolly World of YA Where She is Forevermore Allowed to Have Crushes on 17-Year-Old Boys (they're made-up, people, it's OK!)....

1. Speak by Laurie Halse Andersen
This book is something of a Bible of YA. It's well-regarded, much-praised and hard-core. Not that way! No, this book is edgy and tough and intense. It's about rape.

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Beautiful and mesmerizing with the most alive, detailed and unique characters you'll encounter. A story about what it means to be alive.

3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
A heart-wrenching, heartbreaking story about one girl's unspeakable loss and how she can possibly survive. Be prepared for tears, beautiful tears.

4. Cracked up to Be by Courtney Summers
You will not be able to put this down. A page-turner, a mystery, a microscope into how popularity and friendship and high school can all go horribly awry and how to recover.

5. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Fall in love! With the beach, the sun, the sand and the lyrical words of this romantic, poignant novel about first love and first loss and true friendship.

6. Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
Quite simply the best romantic comedy ever. And the kissing! Sigh, the kissing! Oh, the kissing! Will is my favorite YA boy ever!!!!

7. Evermore by Alyson Noel
Like Twilight? This is better. Plus, Ever is tougher. And Alyson Noel tells one hell of a story.

8. Everything is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis
Part mystery, part diary, part peek into the mind of a 12-year-old girl whose family is raveling apart. The spare, sparse language transports you right into the character's world.

9. Far From you by Lisa Schroeder
Get on the Lisa Schroeder bandwagon, I'm telling you! She writes in verse and in the smallest amount of words manages to make you feel the biggest amount of heart for her characters.

10. Beautiful by Amy Reed
There is nothing else like this book. It is a gut check of a novel on the slippery slope of drugs, alcohol and sex. Brace yourself for the horror and the beauty and your hope for the character's redemption.

Class dismissed!

Daisy Whitney is the author of the forthcoming novel for teens THE MOCKINGBIRDS (Little, Brown 2010) and she blogs about writing and the path to publication at and about her favorite books at
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