Mental Health in YA Literature

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No doubt that teens are under more pressure than previous generations. YALSA highlights some books which deal with coping skills for depression and anxiety. Click the link and take a look.

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Reality Scoop: Promoting Mental Wellness with YA Literature

JUVENILE FICTION- what sold in 2015?

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2014 was a big sales year for juvenile fiction. Publishers Weekly credits the Divergent novels and John Green for a good part of it. Unfortunately, print sales for kids’ fiction decreased by 3% in 2015. Apparently, the latest Wimpy Kid book was the only one to sell a million copies or more.

Although the category split out for juvenile fiction is far from perfect, a few insights can be gleaned. Harken back to what I wrote about predicting YA trends relating to the astrology of the up and coming generation (https://ellisnelsonbooks.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/can-ya-reading-trends-be-predicted/). Up 9% was a category called Holidays/Festivals/Religion. Is this the start of the Pluto in Sagittarius group taking an interest in spiritual and religious things? Maybe. Also notable was a 12% rise in purchases of animal fiction.

Social situations/Family/Health was down 10%. Small declines were also seen in SF/Fantasy/Magic (-2%) and History/Sports/People/Places (-4%).

Overall though, it’s hard to see emerging trends in the data when a bestseller in any category can really distort the picture. I would rather see the categories broken down and distributed by age group because picture book buying by adults is different than teens buying their own books. And this is only print sales. E-books are certainly playing an increasing role in sales for older kids. Even the decrease of 3% overall, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Are e-books drawing off that amount or more? Is the decrease related to our overall flat economy?

Publishers Weekly Article: http://goo.gl/SoiKEu

 

CONTEST: WIN A FREE BOOK

Jan. 14:  THE WINNERS ARE: Patricia Robertson & KDKH. I will be contacting you both. 

It’s contest time! Leave a comment below and be entered to win a copy of the electronic version of Elephants Never Forgotten. Contest closes at noon (EST) on Wednesday (Jan.13th). Two books will be awarded by a random drawing on Thursday, January 14th. As a theme, tell me something about elephants. I’ll start us off with how the idea for the book came into being.

Here’s the synopsis:

A hundred years in the future, twelve-year-old Nigella receives a shipment from her deceased grandfather. Her inheritance is a herd of micro-elephants. While a lot of her friends have micro-pets, Nigella is at a loss on how to care for them. Why are her micro-pets so different from everyone else’s? What was her grandfather up to? With the help of her best friend, Kepler, the girls set off on an adventure to discover the truth.

What readers are saying:

“Ellis Nelson’s superb writing made this book a joy to read. I felt like I was right there experiencing the journey, the concerns, the total adventure. Lessons about friendship and family, ecology abound.”

“The leading characters are smart and resourceful girls. They set off for adventure and help make the world a better place. An intriguing, positive read for tweens.”

http://www.amazon.com/Elephants-Never-Forgotten-Ellis-Nelson-ebook/dp/B014AL1A9Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452186113&sr=1-1&keywords=ellis+nelson

HALLOWEEN YA HORROR

In an effort to satisfy my hunger for a good ghost story around Halloween, I stumbled on two firmly planted in the horror genre. Read at your own peril. Spoiler alert.

Beyond- A Ghost Story by Graham McNamee

Seventeen year old Jane was born dead and revived. In her short life she has escaped death four more times, but her shadow is after her. While Jane wrestles with these issues her best friend, Lexi, provides necessary comic relief. As the “Creep Sisters”, Jane and Lexi have to deal with being outsiders at school. Jane must find out why death haunts her before it’s too late and the opportunity comes when a skull is unearthed on the edge of town. Solving that mystery brings her face to face with a serial killer and reveals why her shadow is after her. McNamee successfully incorporates the idea of a dark, lost region that contrasts sharply to the bright light bliss of near death experiences. It’s a nice twist making it a unique ghost story. Sufficiently creepy, fast paced, and satisfying.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Cas Lowood has inherited the job of ghost killer from his dad. Armed with a powerful knife, he seeks his prey. His next case draws him to Anna, a girl killed in 1958 on her way to a dance. Anna has the nasty habit of killing anyone who enters the house where she resides. This is a fairly well-crafted story, but not as original as Beyond. It has garnered quite a following seemingly attracting the Twilight crowd because of the romance between Cas and Anna. That part didn’t resonate with me. Cass witnessed a kid being ripped apart by Anna and yet he falls for her. The most unique aspect of the story comes from the idea of the Obeah- a creature seeking power and the Wicca traditions brought to the story by some of the lesser characters. This is a fast read, entertaining, but a bit familiar.      

WIN A FREE E-BOOK

The winners are: m15alien and Susan Bernhardt. I’ll contact you with the e-files. Thanks to everyone who entered.

It’s contest time! Leave a comment below and be entered to win a copy of the electronic version of Elephants Never Forgotten. Contest closes at noon (EST) on Wednesday. Two books will be awarded on Thursday, October 8th. As a theme, tell me something about elephants. I’ll start us off with how the idea for the book came into being.

WORLD ELEPHANT DAY

Photo: Profberger

Photo: Profberger

Today is World Elephant Day. Since 2011, this day has been used to highlight the plight of elephants around the world, both wild and those in captivity. Ivory is still a commodity and poaching still happens. Not to mention abuse which occurs in captivity.

In a few weeks, I’ll be releasing a middle grade novel which highlights these sentient beings. Elephants Never Forgotten takes us into a world of the future where elephants and their habitat are gone.  One twelve year old girl stumbles onto a mystery that might allow them to return. Details on the release will be coming soon.

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Wisdom from Children’s Authors

From the distant past and the present, here is some of the wisdom shared by authors who write for children.

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“Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your mind is very limited. Use your intuition.”   Madeleine L’Engle

“Maybe we’re all in somebody’s dream. Maybe everything’s a dream, and nothing else.”  David Almond

“The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.”   Hans Christian Andersen

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”   JK Rowling

“A safe fairyland is untrue to all worlds.”   JRR Tolkien

“Never give up. No one knows what’s going to happen next.” L. Frank Baum

“I believe stories are incredibly important, possibly in ways we don’t understand, in allowing us to make sense of our lives, in giving us empathy and in creating the world that we live in.”     Neil Gaiman

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”   Lewis Carroll

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”   Dr. Seuss

“Kids deserve the right to think they can change the world.”   Lois Lowry

 

Asylum (YA) by Madeleine Roux

asylum

No doubt about it, the cover is creepy. This was one of those books with a promising premise. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the wildly successful Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in its use of odd, black and white photos. But where that book was creative and different, this one fails to deliver. Don’t get me wrong- it’s not awful, it’s just not exceptional.

Sixteen year old, Dan spends part of the summer at a college prep program. His dorm is a former psychiatric facility. When things start to happen, the reader wonders if the school is haunted, Dan is going mad, or whether something else is going on. That part of the book works. Several murders and attacks ensue along with Dan becoming a possible suspect, but when a few too many co-incidents occur, the action starts to feel campy. In the end, the storyline is partially resolved but big questions remain (I guess this is so the author gets to produce a sequel. Anyone else tired of that ploy?). The initial idea, Dan’s history, and the location should have produced a better book.

 

CAN YA READING TRENDS BE PREDICTED?

 

Photo:Prettyboymycko

Photo:Prettyboymycko

Publishers Weekly did an article earlier this month pointing out what they view as “hot” in YA this year. Those themes included horror, mental illness, gender identity, and the apocalypse. Of course, these trends reflect what editors and agents believe will be popular. It really says nothing about what the reader may actually want. Getting a handle on the reader can be difficult because good statistics are not kept and predicting the future is always tough. But, is there a way to get a feel for what will interest teens of the future? Maybe.

Recently I watched an episode on Gaiam TV where Regina Meredith was interviewing an astrologer. I’ve been interested in astrology off and on since I was a teenager, but over the past year or so that interest has become more intense and I watch quite a few YOUTUBE astrologers as they explain what’s going on in a given month. It is fascinating and personal.

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What resonated with me in this interview concerned the movement of Pluto and how these long transits (248 years to circle the zodiac) influence generations. With Pluto in a given sign anywhere from 11 to 32 years, it defines a whole generation. In a way, this is the opposite of personal because I share influences with everyone in my age group. As a writer for young people, this idea intrigues me. It especially drew me in as the astrologer talked about my adult children’s group (Pluto in Scorpio). He talked about the attraction for this group to pagan religions and pure philosophy. My daughter describes herself as pagan and my son is currently exploring nihilism and its intricacies. Further extrapolating, I thought- wow, this was the perfect market for Harry Potter. Some people think JK Rowling had a unique idea or that the books were exceptionally well done. But most of us realize that young wizards going off to school has been done before. Perhaps then, Pluto in Scorpio almost guaranteed Harry Potter would make publishing history.

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The youngest of the children of the Pluto in Scorpio generation will turn twenty soon so as a children’s writer, I bid them farewell. My attention turns to the Pluto in Sagittarius (1995- 2008) group. This would be my target audience and astrology should help me see who these kids are. What are the characteristics of this generation?

Sagittarius rules religion, philosophy, long distance travel, and foreign countries. This generation should have a keen interest in these areas and Sagittarius has a can-do enthusiasm that Scorpio lacks. They value freedom, are easily bored, and may not be as well-grounded and realistic as some. If I were to try to predict what would appeal to the Pluto in Sagittarius generation in terms of books (and movies), I’d list novels with far away settings, diverse cultures, exciting plots, maybe some quirky humor. I’m not sure dystopia like Hunger Games and Divergent will continue to appeal. In fact, those dark, complex, and mature themes Publishers Weekly would have us believe will be hot, probably won’t be. Scorpio is all that, but Sagittarius is not! The Sags should be interested in religion and philosophy so perhaps visionary fiction will find its place. Time will reveal what this generation gravitates toward and what the next big blockbuster will be. I for one would not expect editors and agents to be able to see the next phenomenal success because they are looking to the past trying to recreate its success and it won’t be there. Just about the time we start to see how obvious it all should have been, the Pluto in Capricorn (2008-2024) kids will show up and we’ll be scratching our heads all over. But then Capricorn will reveal itself.

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