Monday, August 6, 2012

YA Writers Ask a Teen Chat = Awesome

Happy Monday, sweet readers!

So, you know how I've been trying to finish these revisions on SfEx? In the interest of that, I brought Penny to the Hirsch house, where Monica had agreed to spend the morning with her. I asked her offhandedly about   how those in her age group (almost 16) referred to their peers - "kids?" "people?" "peeps?" What?

Well, we ended up talking for over an hour about everything from slang to Facebook interactions to bullying via text message. I had to cut the conversation short then because I wanted to get SOME revisions done, but   she was so sweet and obliging and enthusiastic about the topic that I hated to go. So, I did what any social-media-obsessed YA writer would do - I asked her if she'd be up for answering some questions for my writing buddies on Twitter that night, if they had any.

And, WOW. Did they have questions.

We started tweeting about YA Writers Ask a Teen - #YAWritersAAT about nine hours before we wanted to start the chat, and not only did people get their questions ready, they retweeted. And retweeted and retweeted and WOW. We had a great conversation about voice and technology in teens' lives.

Jenny has a chat transcript posted on her blog, if you're interested in reading the whole thing. (Hint: If you're a YA writer, you probably should be interested.)

A lot has changed since many of us YA writers were teens, and we learned lots of useful stuff, like:  

  Gosh yes. You always know when a guy's going to ask you out. His friends text you with clues.

To which a lot of writers responded, "WHAT KIND OF CLUES!?!?!" And began furiously taking notes. So awesome.

But what I really want to talk about in this post is the response to #YAWritersAAT. About halfway through the chat, Valerie joked that she was just waiting for #YAWritersAAT to trend. And then she checked, just in case, and:

Yeah. There we are. Trending at #2. 

You guys, I actually got kind of emotional. Because, hey. It's no secret how I feel about writing for teens. And teens in general. I LOVE teens. I LOVE writing for them. I think it's SO important that there is authentic, quality literature written with a teen audience in mind.

And you know what it tells me when a chat created for the purpose of helping YA writers write authentically for teens TRENDS in HALF AN HOUR?

It tells me that it's important to other writers, too. It tells me that other writers are more concerned about writing books with authentic, accurate portrayals of how teens speak, think and act as opposed to how writers WANT them to speak, think and act. 

And that? That is absolutely freaking wonderful.

(Thank you to all the incredible teens who participated and were gracious enough to spend an hour on the weekend talking to us clueless old folks. And thank you especially to Valerie, Hayley, and Jenny, who were my impromptu co-organizers and promoters. You all were INCREDIBLE. See you next week.)


  1. Wow! I saw some the posts on my twitter feed and I must say very impressive, Leigh Ann. Any plans on doing this again? I would love to get into the Q&A. I'll have to check out the chat log.

    Thanks for setting this up and congrats on the Trend. Very cool! :D

    1. I think she was talking about doing it again next Sunday? And if you have topic suggestions to @ her. :)

  2. Just read the transcript... wow there was a lot of good stuff in there! I hope you do it again so I can particpate and answer questions (I'm also a teen). I love how much so many YA writers care about being authentic. It shows how much they care about their audience!! Way to go.

  3. I am SO BUMMED I missed this!!! Gah! I would have loved to participate. See what happens when I leave the house? I miss stuff! So proud of you for coming up with such an amazing idea, Leigh Ann! You're always bringing the awesome!

  4. This is awesome. Next time I am putting my questions up in advance so I don't miss out! Can't believe I didn't think to do that. Awesome idea!

  5. If you'd like some male teen (15) input I'd be glad to help. I don't have a Twitter account, but you can reach me at or

  6. How awesome! I'm so sad I missed it while I was forcing out some words for SP last night. Lord knows sometimes I read YA and wonder if people not only remember being a teenager, but have had any interaction with actual teenagers since then. What a great idea :)

  7. I don't currently write YA, but I have a story idea that is burbling around in there that will eventually make its way onto paper. I DO have a lot of interaction in real life with teens, and I found this chat useful for that alone. Thanks to everyone who participated. And special thanks to the teens.

    Thanks also for the book recommendations. The teens I know seem to ask me for book recommendations all the time (since they know I write), so it's good to know what's popular with actual teenagers, rather than just my adult friends!

  8. Thank you, sweet Monica for sharing your brainz with us! :D

  9. This is awesome. What a fabulous idea!

  10. awesomeness. I'm going to go check out the transcript for all the goodies. Nicely done!

  11. Awesome. I want to check this out!!

  12. Yeay! I'm psyched for next week! :-)

  13. That's amazing, Leigh! So sad I wasn't a part of it. but still, that's truly amazing! :)

  14. Too much fun! I know I always try to hang out w/teens when I want to know how they speak and what's up. It's getting harder to do now, but in a few years, I'll have teens of my own, then whee!

    running over to check out that transcript now~ :o) <3

  15. This was SO amazing!!! I just finished my YA novel and am trying to get a group of teen beta readers together (many still on vacation but hoping to do it before the school year). In the meantime, this was perfect. My biggest q involved the phone thing. Glad to hear that a few still TALK when they need to hear their bff's actual voice. My MC has one phone call in the whole book, but I still needed to know. Enlightening. My 11 year old just got a cellphone and began texting. Her spelling was not great to start with!


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