Mermaid Blogoversary: YA Day!

Alethea Mermaid

Alethea Mermaid

by Alethea, Kimberly, and Pintip Mermaid

Alethea: Happy Tuesday, everyone, and welcome to Day Two of our Waterworld Mermaid Second Blogoversary Week Celebration!  (We should probably have come up with something a lot simpler than that.)

Today we’re kicking things off with our YA Mermaids: Kimberly MacCarron, Pintip Dunn, and MOI.

Interestingly enough, it was Kimberly who planted this whole “group blog” seed in my head during the Sara Megibow talk during that original WRW Retreat back in 2011.

Sara was telling all the authors in the audience that they should have a blog, because if she read as far as page 10 of a manuscript, she’d Google the author. Kim, sitting next to me, mumbled some snide comment under her breath about how she didn’t have time for such nonsense.

Either directly before or directly after that, she’d asked for a show of hands from published authors, and then grilled me about being a member of the fashionable w clubs that were popping up on the internet, like the Apocalypsies and #2K12. I was forced to admit, in front of everyone, that I had applied to be in both of those groups, and neither of them wanted me.

I suppose my brain jumped to the next possible conclusion…which was: If no one wanted me in their Super Sekrit Club, then I’d just make one of my own!


Pintip Mermaid

Pintip Mermaid

Pintip: One of my favorite things about that first retreat was the genre table during the Saturday luncheon. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it was. Each round table was labeled “Historical,” “Romantic Suspense,” “Paranormal,” etc., and you just sat wherever you wanted.

I, of course, made a beeline for the YA table, where I was lucky enough to sit with Kim and Tara Kennedy. I’d met them both earlier that weekend, but this was the first time I realized they wrote in the same genre as me. In order to appreciate what a big deal this was, you have to understand that I’d never spoken to another YA writer before. Ever. In fact, before going to that retreat, I barely knew any writers, period. It was such an amazing feeling to connect with other people who not only had my same crazy passion for the written word — but who also loved the same stories I did!

In so many ways, that first retreat changed my writing life. Without the encouragement I’d received, I may not have entered any RWA chapter contests. Without entering those contests, I may not have met my agent. Moreover, that first retreat introduced me to so many fantastic writers, many of whom I am now fortunate enough to call my dear friends.

As writers, we build our stories around turning points. I can say without an ounce of exaggeration that the 2011 WRW retreat was a turning point in my writing career. Fingers crossed for a happy ending!


Kimberly: Well, it kind of sucks to go last because Alethea and Pintip managed to steal all the good stuff.  J What I can add is that YA—Young Adult—is a strange beast.  Many think of it as one genre, but it’s not.  It crosses just about every genre, but it’s written, produced or marketed to adolescents or young adults.  As long as the
protagonist is of that age, it’s a young adult.  Alethea writes beautiful books based on fairy tales.  Pintip writes futuristic stories about the choices

Kimberly Mermaid

that define teens. 
I write contemporary stories with loads and loads of romance. They sound completely different, and yet there’s a common thread that unites them.  They are coming-of-age stories told about young adults who are trying to discover and understand who they are.

The thing I love most about YA is that magical element that seems to appear in all of them.  Whether we’re talking about frog princes, or other planets, or falling in love…there’s magic.  Our teen years are filled with magic in many ways.  There are possibilities every day.

When I’m not writing YA, I’m reading it, and at first I wondered what that meant. I read them because I still believe in the magic, in the wonder, in the possibilities.  That’s why I read it, and that’s why I write it.  I love getting lost in a book, but I especially love getting lost in the story.

I’m not sure why everyone else reads and writes YA.  But I’d love to know.

Why do you like YA?

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76 thoughts on “Mermaid Blogoversary: YA Day!

  1. I’ve read a few YA books with my kids. They are sharp and sophisticated stories. I give the authors a lot of credit because of the research necessary to make everything believable.

    1. Mary Jo,
      Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s always a pleasure to have you in the lagoon. You get props for being a regular. 🙂
      I agree with you about YA stories. The thing that bugs me is that people assume it’s so easy to write stories for teens because they aren’t as discriminating. What a laugh! Just try to please a teen! LOL. They are the first to find the flaws and the errors, and they don’t hesitate to tell you so. Their imaginations are boundless!

    2. Mary Jo, I think sharing the books with the kids is one of the pleasures for adults reading YA. My kids aren’t quite that age yet, but I’m very much looking forward to the day they are!
      Thanks so much for stopping by, Mary Jo. We heart you here in the lagoon!

  2. Happy Anniversary Fishy Sisters! I enjoy a YA book now and then and I think what I like most about them is the magic and the reminder. Within those pages, we stay forever young at heart. I’m definitely down with that 🙂

    1. I kinda think you are forever young at heart, with or without YA books, Carlene. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, my fishy friend.

  3. I was new to YA until I met my fishy sisters. Kim – You and Kerri shamed me into reading the Hunger Games, which I loved. 🙂

    1. Avery, so glad you read The Hunger Games! That’s one of my all-time favorite books. Just rewatched the movie last weekend and I would start crying the scene before a tear-jerker scene, in anticipation of what was going to happen. So good.

  4. As you may know Mermaid Kimberly, I have a YA story in my head I want to finish writing soon. And the reason its so important that I do finish it is that high school is still one of the most vivid memories in my head (yes, after all these years:)…I want to share a survivor’s story that includes a young girl who learns to distinguish true love from all the other things that get in its way — so we’ll see. Thanks for asking the question. And thank you Mermaid Pintip for the reminder about the genre table. I’d forgotten about it, and it explains how I ended up hanging with certain folks during that luncheon, but more about my memories of the first retreat Thursday:)…Great post Mermaids Alethea, Pintip and Kimberly.

    1. If this is the same book you told me about at our post-retreat retreat last year…then absolutely you must finish it! And thanks to Amanda for remembering that you won a critique from us! Of course, you know that you can always get a crit from me, win or no win. 🙂

    2. Denny,
      I strongly recommend you finish your YA. Of course, you have so many irons in so many fires, and they’re all working for you. I don’t think it even matters what genre…Denny rocks!

    3. Happy YA Day! And I agree, Denny — you are awesome, but you should finish that story! If it is still rattling around in your brain, then it needs to be put on the page. 🙂

  5. Happy anniversary, Mermaids!

    As you know, I love YA. Writing it, reading it. Probably the easiest explanation I can give is that I’m pretty immature. 😉 But that’s a total cop-out.

    The real explanation is that YA is just so…alive. Teens wear their emotions on their sleeves in a way that you rarely see with adults. Everything takes on an urgency, and it makes for great reads.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, our YA-writing chapter president! I absolutely agree. “Urgency” is a wonderful word to use to describe the YA genre. There’s nothing else I’d rather read or write.

    2. Perfectly said, Amanda! The reason I love it is the passion. And I’m not talking about romance. I’m talking about everything being a big deal and life being so alive with possibilities. Love that the most about YA.

  6. Finish that YA! I do believe you won a critique from the WRW YA Golden Heart finalists at last year’s retreat, Ms. Bryce. 😉

  7. Happy Anniversary to all my YA Fishy-Sisters!! (Yes, I am raising a cup of Vanilla Bean latte to you all, too.) 😉


    1. Hmmm… Thanks. I can smell it from here. So nice and cozy on such a rainy day, too. Happy blogoversary to you, too, Loni! And have a wonderful day! 🙂

  8. Happy Anniversary to us – Day 2! 😉

    Pintip – I also LOVED those genre tables. I was at the contemporary table with Robin-Mermaid and Kristan Higgins and it was fabulous!

    Kim – you’re right about the magic of YA. There’s something about young love/first love. That’s probably why I write so many contemporary stories that have the lost love from high school backstory going on. 😉

    1. Yay, genre tables! Someone should totally bring them back to retreat. They were so much fun. And I TOTALLY love the lost love from high school stories! There’s so much fun tension and something very sweet about re-connecting with your first love. Thanks for stopping by, Kerri! Have a sparkly day!

    2. Kerri,
      I agree 100%. I was writing adult contemporary, but I realized all my favorite scenes were flashbacks to the high school years. There’s something so raw and passionate and honest about that time. And I happen to love me some Ethan and Penelope, flashbacks or no flashbacks. 🙂

  9. Aw, thank Pintip. And Kim. I loved meeting all the mermaids. And of course I agree that YA is awesome and magical. I was just at a YA author event where a nice lady confessed that her friend made her read this book even though it was YA and she ended up loving it.

    1. Yay, Tara! Thanks for stopping by the lagoon! And we mermaids are so happy we know you! YA books are so smart and well-written. I think a lot of people are surprised when they are finally coaxed into reading their first one.

    2. Tara,
      I’m sure you’re over the moon about the newest sensation…New Adult. 🙂
      I loved meeting other YA writers at our retreat as well. Sometimes I feel like a step-child in raggedy clothes with the other romance writers. LOL.
      And I love how surprised adults are when they read a YA and love it. Why wouldn’t they? They lived through the same age. Everyone can relate.

      1. Congrats, Mermaids! Love to visit the lagoon today. I have a simple question if you don’t mind. And please don’t laugh at my confusion, but I can’t seem to get a straight answer anywhere. So here goes…does new adult fall under the young adult or the adult umbrella? 18 year olds can have a foot in both worlds, so where do they belong? Thank you for any thoughts/clarification.

        1. Kari,
          That’s not at all a laughable question. Seeing as how RWA has several workshops regarding this very question at Nationals, I think it’s a safe bet that it’s a question many people are asking. I think the New Adult genre is one that has its foot in both doors. It ranges in age from 18-23. I’ve heard upwards to 25, but I can’t really believe that one. I series that I loved was the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty–Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings… That series always struck me as more than YA. Although it starts out in high school, the content always seemed very mature to me. And then it follows her out of high school and through college in the next three books. If you haven’t read that series, I highly suggest it. Awesome!

        2. Kari, thanks for stopping by! That’s a great question, and I’ve been confused in the very near past, as well. I think Kim gave a great answer — and the Jessica Darling series is still in my TBR pile!

  10. Such great posts!! I’m especially glad Pintip met you guys because, otherwise, she might not have kept writing and I might never have met her and that would have been a major loss for me. I know. I know. Totally self-absorbed, but true 🙂 Happy Anniversary!!

    1. Lol, Romily. I would’ve kept writing (probably) but you’re right. I might not have entered the GH, so I might not have met you. And that would have been a great loss on my end, too!!! The absolute highlight of Nationals last year? Without a doubt, meeting my Dooms Girls. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Oh, great post, ladies! And rest assured––you guys now OWN the cool kids’ table! Congrats!

    1. Meg,
      We will let you sit at the cool kids’ table anytime you want. 🙂
      And when we go on field trips, we can all hang out in the back.

  12. Happy Blogoversary to you! I have wondered what it says about me that I love reading and writing YA, though I’m (cough cough) years old. Somehow it all still feels real to me in the way that you see an old friend from two decades ago and it feels like only a couple of weeks have passed.

    And really, most of the true romance in my life happened in high school. What can I say– I had an awesome boyfriend. Broke up with him, of course. Oh the heartbreak and the joy– I’ve got to go write– RIGHT NOW! See what I mean? 🙂

    1. Amy,
      I know that feeling EXACTLY. I’m (cough cough) years old too, and high school still feels like yesterday. There’s something about those relationships that are so true, so fresh. We become who we are in those years. All the people we knew then–both the good and the bad–influence how we see ourselves and the world around us. When people talk about those high school years like they were awful, I just can’t relate. I LOVED HIGH SCHOOL!!! I loved the excitement and the wonder and that each day was so ripe with possibilities. Thanks for stopping by, Amy.
      Go, write.

    2. Thanks for stopping by, Amy! How cool that you had an awesome high school boyfriend. I think some of us YA readers and writers didn’t have an awesome high school boyfriend, and part of the appeal of YA books is reliving those years with someone worthy of our intense emotions!

  13. Happy second anniversary!

    I think that’s so cool the way you all met. I love reading YA because of that magic Kim spoke of, and I love writing YA because I don’t have to worry about all the “being responsible” adult stuff — my characters can focus on what matters: love, rumours, love, fitting in, love, finding your own way and love. 😉

    1. Lol, Bonnie, I think you’ve pinpointed the thing that truly matters — love, whether it is romantic love, friendship love, or parent/child love. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Bonnie,
    You’re a girl after my own heart. 🙂 Some of my YA writing friends find it difficult to write the “kissy bits” (which is how my lovely Australian friend Vanessa describes them), but I live for those. I rush through the rest of the story until I hit that, and then later, I go back and fill in the unimportant stuff. LOL

  15. Excellent topic of celebration…both your anniversary and YA Day. I write YA because it allows me a sort of do-over effect. As an adult I can relive all those firsts. The angst, the drama, the emotion, the desperateness of longing, and I can make different choices with my characters. It gives me the opportunity to share my experiences and hard learned lessons in a way that is both healing to me and educational for them. I think the fast paced, easy reading of YA lit and the depth of character and emotion on every page draws readers of all ages who just want to escape into that youthful fog of naivete and adventure.

    1. That’s so wonderfully put! I can’t even add anything. I bow to your wonderful answer!
      But I know exactly what you mean about that desperateness. And I think it’s great about having your characters make different choices. Sort of like putting a different ending to the movie. Or playing one of those games where every choice sets you on a different path. Oh, the paths we could have taken….

    2. PJ, thanks so much for stopping by! What a great answer! I especially love how you brought up the quick pace, which hasn’t been discussed yet today. Yes, YA novels are typically page-turners, and that’s one more reason to love them!

  16. Hi, Kim, Pintip, Alethea, and happy blogiversary to all the Mermaids! I love swimming around here with you and I’ve been lucky enough to win prizes in the past, so no need to enter me in the draw for that fab swag.

    I started writing YA when I was a young adult and I’ve never stopped!

    1. Hi, Vanessa,
      So great to see you here in the lagoon. You won last year’s YA day, didn’t you? 😉
      That’s great that you’re so committed and know your own heart and voice. That’s so great. You’ll always be young at heart that way.
      Remember…sprinting tomorrow! No excuses. For any of us. Group of Awesome unite!

    2. Vanessa,
      NO EXCUSES! (I’m mostly talking to myself, btw.)
      Thanks so much for stopping by, my beautiful Australian friend. Yea, you and Kim seem to have an awful lot of luck when it comes to prize drawings and the like. Too bad I’m ineligible. Otherwise, I’d tell you to lend me some of your good luck vibes. 🙂

      1. Hey, you “won” an adorable makeup bag with cool lotions and stuff. How could you forget that???

  17. what a great blog, you guys!
    wow, why do I read YA? I’d have to say it’s because there is such diversity in the stories. And while the characters have all sorts of emotional depth and real, true struggles, they’re somehow lacking the maudlin, jaded overtones of ‘adult’ fiction. There’s something fresh and full of promise, no matter now dark the story. Maybe…because the stories all seem to have that element of hope? And that’s A Good Thing : )

    1. That is probably the best answer I’ve ever heard for why people like to write and read YA, Jen! That’s so true. Everything is possible. You rarely hear a teen say, “I can’t” unless it’s to do the dishes. LOL. There have only been a handful of stories that were too dark or depressing for me in the YA genre. I love when I find a book that I just smile and smile. That makes it all worth it.
      Thanks for stopping by, Jen!

    1. Come down next year on the Vamoose! I’ll pick you up right down the road from me, and we’ll go together. Yay!!!! I’m going to remind you about this….
      You know me. I love to bug the heck out of you!

      1. Jen, that would be so awesome if you came to our retreat! I know you would love it! Love this discussion on YA books, especially the hope and “I can” parts. Here’s another thing: the heroines are all so brave! As brave as I wish I were when I was that age.

  18. Great blog! I love YA because it deals with intense feelings that are never as strong or relevant as when you’re a teen. Whether you are a teen or just remember it really well, we can all relate to those feelings. I agree with others here that it’s the promise of everything in the future being good. We all need that in our lives. Or maybe I just never really grew up! There is such a big part of me who wishes I could re-do my teen years knowing what I know now… maybe by reading YA, I am kind of doing that. Who knows??? All I can say for sure is that YA rocks!

    1. Sheri,
      Yes! YA does rock! There is a certain promise in YA. The feelings are just as strong–if not stronger–in YA as they are in adult books. I’ve cried through A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS and also in FAULT IN OUR STARS. Both were moving and far different stories, but both wonderful.

    2. Hi Sheri!
      Thanks so much for stopping by! All I know is: I picked up my first YA book three years ago…and that’s almost entirely all I read now. I love every genre under the YA umbrella but am particularly fond of contemporary and science fiction. And you’re right: what unites them all is that super intense emotion that teen feels.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Heather. Come back the rest of the week and keep entering. 🙂

  19. Great post, gals. And Kim, BIG CONGRATULATIONS! I’ve been under deadline and sick and totally somehow missed you finaling in the Golden Heart until Sheri mentioned a Kim with 5 kids, and I stopped her and said “Omigosh, I know her, and I love her! She is so awesome!” We have to hook up in Atlanta for drinks!

    Okay, back to topic. YA. Reasons I love it? Man, this is hard. You all have great points and an adorable story. Kim, I’m kind of with you. It’s the magic for me. There’s something so intense–so very amazing about that time in our lives. It’s always, always appealed to me and it’s hard to imagine loving another genre as much!

    Happy Blogoversary to all of you! So excited for you guys!!

    1. Nat, thanks so much for stopping by! I’ve missed you! And I hope you get out of those deadlines and sickness very soon. And lol as to your description of Kim. “Her five kids” is kind of an identifier, isn’t it? 🙂

    2. Yeah, Natalie, I couldn’t believe I didn’t get some chocolate and flowers in the mail along with a Congratulations card. LOL. We will definitely have to hook up in Atlanta for drinks! I’ll let you buy me the first one. 🙂 And the second…
      I can’t imagine loving a genre as much as YA either, which is kind of ironic in that when I WAS a teen there wasn’t much offered that I even wanted to read. Oh, these kids today…spoiled, SPOILED! I tell ya! They have no idea how lucky they are with the reading material. I went straight from kid books to straight I-can’t-believe-I’m-reading-this adult stuff. Love YA!
      See you in Atlanta! Can’t wait for my drink(s).

  20. And a Happy Second Blogaversary to all the lovely Mermaids! I’ve brought cotton since apparently that’s what you do for second anniversaries 🙂 Um, enjoy?

    I love the question Why YA. Which is a mighty good thing because I get it A LOT. My answer’s pretty simple. There’s nothing more exquisite than life’s firsts. Nothing more heart-pumping, soul-aching, and painfully beautiful than discovering who you are…again and again…and again.

    Thanks for sharing Alethea, Pintip, & Kim!!!!

    1. Thanks Darcy! And we *have* cotton in our gift pack, in the form of a super cute mermaid nightshirt! Specifically for our two year blogoversary. I love your answer: life’s firsts. I think that’s also one of the reasons I love having children. Because I get to experience those firsts all over again. Great to see you here in the lagoon!

    2. Darcy,
      That’s it exactly! It’s all about the firsts. You never forget them, and that’s the beautiful and sometimes painful truth. Those first rushes and crushes and just plain LIVING every second! Every moment is FOREVER. Every feeling is intense and life is a ride on the edge of your seat.
      I really dislike boring adults. I could sit with my daughter’s friends forever, just listening to them. The excitement, the giggles, the drama, the EVERYTHING! And I’m with Pintip. I’m kind of living vicariously through my kids now. And their friends. LOL.
      Thanks for stopping by, Darcy.

  21. Happy Blogaversary Mermaids! Wow two years. I can’t believe it. I remember when you were all “talking” about creating a blog. Congratulations to all of you. So lovely to see such a wonderful group of women commiserating, cheering each other on, critiquing, supporting and celebrating each others victories and accomplishments. I’m so proud of all of you. Especially my dear Kimberly! I’ll never forget the sight or how I felt the day I walked in to your kitchen to find your YA and daughter Megan sitting at the kitchen table with her computer in front of her reading your latest transcript. Words can’t describe how proud and amazed I was by the sight. That’s what it’s all about. Isn’t it. Congrats again… Kim Starr

    1. Thanks, Kim! And yes, that was a sight to behold for the mere fact that Megan doesn’t like to read. LOL.
      I’m telling you though, she’s a hard nut to crack. She’ll always be my toughest critic. I think I’d rather send that baby (my book) out to every editor in the universe rather than my daughter. I paced in the other room until she was finished and said she liked it. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Of course her compliment was kind of insulting at the same time. I think it went something like this: “Your other books were kind of fluffy…but this one is soooo good.” Love the backhanded compliments. Way to say you like one book but hated the others. LOL.

  22. Congrats to Kim on finaling in the Golden Heart!!!!! yes yes yes yes yes!! Great first 50 pages!!! loved it. Can’t wait to read the rest. SOOO proud of you. Love you lots, Kim Starr

  23. Love this post. Love YA. Love the lagoon. 🙂

    I think everyone covered everything about why I love YA: the intensity, the firsts. I see my 15 year old son as he teeters between wanting to be independent and strong and HIMSELF and at the same time wanting to play and clutch the last bits of being a child to his chest, and that dichotomy is amazing to watch and to read — and to write. The world is full of possibility, which is thrilling and terrifying both at once.

    Also, I feel like YA may be the only genre where writers can truly take chances. Some YA feels literary, some are fast paced thrillers, some are happy gushy love stories, some are dark, angsty issue-driven grit, and yet they all happily coexist under the YA contemporary banner. Fantasy and paranormal and dystopian YA are very human-focused, and encompass all kinds of flavors too. So I also love YA because the only rule is that the characters have to fit into a certain age range. A fascinating age range, at that.

    1. Talia,
      I absolutely agree! The YA umbrella is crazy big. And you’re right about it being such a neat stage to watch. I watch my pre-teens as they dip their toes in grown-up waters, and then pull back when it feels overwhelming. I remember my mom buying me one of those curling irons that you could plug into the wall and then close up to take with you–okay, rambling. sorry. But for Christmas that year she also bought me a collector Barbie. I was at that confusing age where I still wanted a foot in one world and a foot in the next. So, to make a long story short. I curled my Barbie’s hair with the curling iron and melted the hair onto the iron. It wasn’t pretty. LOL.
      thanks for stopping by, Talia!

  24. I I was initially drawn to YA because I had the idea to write one and I wanted to see what was out there, but as soon as I started reading, I was absolutely hooked. YA books seems to have much more character depth than other genres, the writers really take care to dig deep and give characters difficult choices and obstacles. I also think that publishers and authors in the YA genre are open to taking chances and trying something out of the box, whereas, lately, I’m finding so much of the *same* in romance fiction. It’s so great to know I can pick up a YA book and get a unique story every time.

    1. Well put, Cynthia! I agree completely. There is such depth to YA. I think it’s because there’s a strange honestly and rawness to everything. As adults, we’re trained to hide that angst. I’m pretty sure that’s why half of the adult population seems to be in therapy. Let your inner teen out! Put your heart out there! Live! 🙂

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