Field Trip Friday: April 17, 2014


- YA Highway is one of Writer Digest's Top 101 Blogs for Writers! We're excited and humbled to receive this honor and hope to continue to be a good resource for you, our fabulous readers!

- Last week's many conversations and posts about diversity in kidlit carried over to this week with ReedPOP, the panel organizers for BookCon, issueing a non-apology for their all white, middle-aged male "Kids Authors That Dazzle" panel. Author Justina Ireland writes an open letter to conference planners telling them to quit using the equivalent of "I have black friends" and stop organizing diversity panels. "There's a lot of good talk but there's still no action," notes author Ellen Oh in her piece We Are Still Not Doing Enough for Diversity in Kidlit, while author Lamar Giles says forget being the change, don't BS the change. EW's Shelf Life talks to publishing professionals about why there are so few books featuring diverse main charactersMaya Prasad interviews author Sherri L. Smith about how we can achieve the change we need in the second post in her Diversity Solutions series, and Daniel Jose Older powerfully discusses the effects of race and power in publishing. Finally, the lovely Kaye M. kicks off a new blog series focusing on diversity and midlist authors.


- It's not all drowning in tears and bourbon being a writer. You might take a writing class with James Franco or even win a National Book Award...playing this How to be a Writer game.

- "These narratives portrayed alcoholism and drug use as spectacular and sensationalistic but also as having a definitive end: either the person died or the person got clean." The Ism and The Alcohol by Lauren Quinn dissects drugs, literature and the addition narrative. (via Corey Ann Haydu)

- E. Lockhart writes about taking herself seriously versus being taken seriously by the institutions that mock the feminine.

- "Women...have wounds: broken hearts and broken bones and broken lungs. How do we talk about these wounds without glamorizing them? Without corroborating an old mythos that turns female trauma into celestial constellations worthy of worship?" Settle in for the Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain, a glorious, hour-long look at how authors write, sensationalize, get right and get wrong the wounded woman. (via sarah mccarry)

- Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Elizabeth Bear on Writing Disabilities.


- Mike Jung writes poignantly about "the issue of loving a book, really loving it, while also feeling genuinely troubled by it."

- The Not So Horrible Consequences of Reading Banned Books notes that "a new study of Texas teens found no connection between reading edgy books and mental health issues or delinquent behavior." Imagine that.

- Teacher Mrs. Anderson surveys the girls in her English class to discover which book characters they do and don't see themselves in, what they'd like to see more of in books, whether they've seen characters in required reading that stick out to them, and more.

- Debbie Reese brought Arigon Starr's Super Indian Comics to our attention and it makes for superb reading.

- Friend of YAH Kelly Jensen reviews Julie Halpern's The F-It List and wonders whether some readers can't handle "positive portrayal of girls embracing sex and doing so without apology and without holding back on being crude and, at times, obscene."

- "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." ~ One Hundred Years of Solitude. Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez passes away at the age of 87.

- There is a huge narrative surrounding the failing independent bookstore, but NY Mag gives us a look at six that are thriving and how they're managing the feat. Yes! Go forth and buy books!

- It's possible you didn't get tight-chested and glassy-eyed while watching the If I Stay movie trailer this week. It's also possible you don't have a heart. As for me and mine, GIVE ME THIS MOVIE ALREADY.


- Wake up and sell your book! Seven Brilliant Ways Authors Build Buzz--That Anyone Can Use. Yeah, I'm working on that whole "get on Oprah's good list" thing, too.

- In response to Elle Magazine's suggested wardrobe for The Novelist, Lynne Kelly describes The Author's Wardrobe, For Real. I'm on board with Jo Whittemore--my author superhero blanket cape is regularly draped over my shoulders as I write. Isn't yours?

- Chuck Wendig has Ten Things [He'd] Like to Say to Young Writers. So sit up and pay attention, youths! (We love you, youths.)

- Dan Wells and a whole slew of authors are putting together an anthology to raise awareness of mental illness and to show support for Dan's brother, Robison Wells.


- Congrats to Adventures in YA Publishing for hitting 2 million page views! To celebrate, they're giving away 20 incredible prize packs. Go forth and enter.


- Hug a Dungeonmaster today. Annalee Newitz discusses how We Won the War on Dungeons & Dragons.

- "We are both birthed from resilience." Teenagers Amina Iro and Hannah Halpern own the stage at the Brave New Voices 2013 Quarterfinals. (via Sajidah)

- In more awesome teen girls slash where is the book about THIS superhero news, a 13-year old eagle huntress in Mongolia gives us a glimpse of her world.

- Muggles need not apply. But for the rest of us, Hogwarts courses are now online! Grab your wands, witches, you're late for class.

- The vegetation on Kepler-186f would grow in shades of yellow and orange but that probably won't stop people from wanting to inhabit Earth's newly discovered "cousin."

- We prefer promoting teens who do great things. In the case of the girl who tweeted a bomb threat at American Airlines, consider this an advisory, do-not-do tale.

-  Catherine Cleary Wolters, the real life inspiration for the character Alex on Orange is the New Black, speaks out about her relationship with Piper Kerman for the first time.

- I know teenagers who use maybe...three of these terms regularly? I don't know what that says about me or about this article on 23 Words Teenagers Love To Use and What They Really Mean.


- They're all yours, horror lovers. The most gruesome sentences found on Wikipedia.

- Going in for a new haircut anytime soon? This guide to finding your face shape will surely help you discover the most flattering style.

- You could wonder how and why bunnies became a symbol for Easter (huh?) or you could just look at these terrifying vintage Easter bunny photos and call it good.

- Hilary Clinton is going to be a grandma!

- A $20,000AUD party and he won't take the sunglasses off because they're famous.

Have a great weekend, but try not to break anything. <3 Kristin

Writing Horror: Scary Writing Prompt Game #16

Happy Thursday, Spookies!

Welcome to another round of the scary writing prompt game. Again, here's how it works: I'll announce the prompt, then you guys post your response in the comment section. At the beginning of each round, I'll share my favorite bits from the previous month's entries before announcing the next prompt. At the end of the year there will be a spooky prize drawing for two lucky winners. *All* participants are automatically entered to win!

Last month's prompt followed Hailey and Ben as they embarked on a first date in the woods, only to find a mysterious note taped to a tree. Was somebody following them? Did one of them put it there? The answers provided were equally different and awesome, and a certain snippet from Samantha's entry packed an especially twisty punch:

Hailey grabbed Ben's hand and began pulling him back the way they came. They walked a couple of feet and stopped. Ben looked up at the trees. The birds stopped singing and the sky became dark. Everything around them was still. Hailey squeezed his wrist and backed into him. He saw what she was looking at. A cloaked figure appeared in the distance.

"No, no, not now. Not now." Hailey whispered as she keep backing up.

"Hailey, what's happening?" Ben was barely able to get the words out.

The figure seemed to float towards them.

"I'm sorry Ben. I'm so sorry." Hailey cried.

"I've come to collect what I am owed." The voice seemed to come all around them.

"I don't understand. Please, Hailey what is happening."

"Run," Hailey whispered.

They both turned and took off through the woods.

"Hailey, I can't keep up." Ben screamed.

She looked behind her in time to see Ben trip over a tree root that seemed to appear out of the ground. The root began to wrap itself around Ben.

"Help" he screamed reaching out for Hailey, but she just stood there not moving. "I'm sorry" she sounded defeated. "I tried not to like you. It's my curse. I can't escape my faith and neither can you."

Great job, Samantha! And a special shout out to and Lucy Belll for their own kick-ass entries.


This Month's Prompt:

They had only just gotten the campfire going when the sun went down.

"This isn't as fun as I thought it'd be," Jeremy complained for the third time in fifteen minutes. "I thought we'd be a little closer to other people, or at least a road..."

"Dude." Kayla stood up from where she was crouching in front of the fire and dropped the last piece of wood into the growing flames. "What do you think camping is, exactly? Parking in a dirt lot next to a bunch of other jerks and cooking hot dogs on a nasty grill that's bolted to the ground? Yeah, no. Stop complaining already, Jeremy. Enjoy the privacy and the peace."

"Whenever I went camping as a kid there were at least bathrooms!" Jeremy said. "I have no interest in walking half a mile into the forest every time I need to go."

"This coming from the one of us that can pee standing up," Kayla smirked. "Also, if there were bathrooms, it wasn't really camping."

"Yes it was!" Jeremy protested. "We slept outside. In tents."

"Yeah, tents set up in a dirt parking lot, not nature."

"I feel kind of guilty," Elise piped up from the lawn chair she'd parked in front of the fire. She lifted the hood of her sweatshirt over her head and shivered. "It's my fault Jeremy didn't know what he was getting into. I never told him that we were camping in the ridge, or that we'd have to get to the site by canoe."

"Yeah," Jeremy said with a sigh. "Thanks for that."

"Camping is the most fun this way," Kayla promised as she set up the rest of the lawn chairs and started passing out the supplies for s'mores. Jeremy sat down in one of the free seats, then shoved the end of his s'mores stick through both of the giant marshmallows in his hand.

After making their way through half the bag of marshmallows and an entire board of sausage and crackers with mustard, everybody was relaxed and even Jeremy couldn't deny he was having a great time. Before too long they ran out of firewood, and everybody made their way into the pitch-black forest to gather more, using the light of their cell phones to try and make their way.
morgueFile free photos--image by BlackRenard

"What type of wood are we looking for?" Jeremy asked as he squinted at the ground. Even with the cell phone, it was dark.

"Just any sort of branches or dry wood," Kayla said. She already had three pieces tucked under her arm, of course. "Just nothing damp or--" she cut off and looked over her shoulder.

"What's the matter?" Jeremy asked.

"I thought I heard someone talking back there." Kayla frowned. "But I'm pretty sure Elise is somewhere in the other direction."

"What?" Jeremy held his cell phone in the direction that Kayla had heard the voice, but it was useless. "You had better be kidding me."

"Hold on a second," Kayla said, and stepped away into the darkness. "I can still hear it. I think it might be Elise..."

"Kayla, wait." Jeremy was starting to panic a little bit. He hadn't been paying attention when they wandered away from their campsite, because he assumed he would just follow Kayla back. "I'm gonna get lost if you leave me here."

But there came no reply. Jeremy spun all around, looking for any sign of their dying camp fire, but only saw the solid outlines of pines. "Kayla?"

Somewhere ahead of him, Jeremy heard the crunch of gently snapping twigs. Someone was walking toward him. "Kayla?" Jeremy called out, chilled to his bone. "Kayla, is that you?"


Release the Hellhounds!!

Road Trip Wednesday

This week's topic: Tell us an author who inspires you.

Answer via comments, your own blog, tumblr, twitter, anywhere! (Note: we're adjusting the twitter hashtag to #roadtripwednesday so as to avoid overlap with other hashtags and make it easier to see your responses.)

Some of our answers:

Steph: Kobo Abe
Kate: Laurie Halse Anderson
Sumayyah: NK Jemisin
Amy: Shirley Jackson
Kaitlin: Garth Nix
Leila: Melina Marchetta

YA Authors on Instagram

I adore Instagram. In the couple years I've been a member, I've loved the way it's encouraged me to think about my day a little more visually, and enabled me to share those (jazzily filterized) images with friends. Best of all, it's missing all the clutter and noise of Facebook. Just pretty pictures, captions, a handful of hashtags -- and authors.

No surprise, right? We're everywhere! And so is YA Highway.

Just like with Pinterest and Tumblr, we've gathered as many YA authors as we could find with Instagram accounts. They're listed here by first name. As always, if you're a YA author and you'd like to be listed (since I'm sure this is far from exhaustive), comment here, tweet us, or email us at yahighway (at) gmail. Same if you're listed and you'd rather not be. 


YA Highwayers on Instagram

YA Highway - @yahighway
Sarah Enni - @sarahenni
Kate Hart - @katehart226
Sumayyah Daud - @bintdaud
Kaitlin Ward - @kaitlin_ward
Debra Driza - @debradriza
Veronica Roth - @vrothbooks
Kristin Halbrook - @kristinhalbrook
Stephanie Kuehn - @mayfieldgirl
Me! (Kirsten Hubbard) - @kirhubbard

YA Authors on Instagram

Adam Silvera - @adamsilvera
Adele Griffin - @adelegriffin
Adrienne Kress - @adriennekress
Ally Carter - @theallycarter
Alyson Noel - @alyson_noel
Amy DelRosso - @amydelrosso
Amy Plum - @amyplum
Andrew Shaffer - @literaryrogue
Andrew Smith - @marburyjack
Anna Jarzab - @ajarzab
Anne Riley - @annerileybooks

Brenna Yovanoff - @brennayovanoff
Brodi Ashton - @brodiashton

Carrie Jones - @carriejonesbooks
Caryn Caldwell - @caryncaldwell
Cassandra Clare - @cassieclare1
Christa Desir - @c_desir
Coe Booth - @coebooth
Corrine Jackson - @corrinejacksonya
Courtney Alison Moulton - @camoulton
Crissa Chappell - @crissachappell

Daisy Whitney - @daisywhitney
Daniel Marks - @mark_henry
Danielle Ellison - @danielleewrites
Dawn Rae Miller - @dawnraemiller
Debbie Ohi - @inkygirl
Debra Driza - @debradriza
Denise Jaden - @denisejadenauthor

Edith Cohn - @edithcohn
Elizabeth Eulberg - @elizabetheulberg
Elizabeth Norris - @liz_norris
Erin Morgenstern - @erinmorgenstern

Genn Albin - @gennalbin
Gretchen Rubin - @gretchenrubin
Gretchen McNeil - @gretchen_mcneil

Heather Brewer - @auntieheatherbrewer
Heather Marie - @HeatherMarieYA
Heather Petty - @heatherwpetty

Jackson Pearce - @jacksonpearce
James Dashner - @dashnerjames
Jay Asher - @jayasher13
Jay Kristoff - @jaykristoff
Jenn Rush - @jenn_rush
Jennifer Bosworth - @jbosauthor
Jennifer Murgia - @jennifer_murgia
Jenny Martin - @jmartinlibrary
Jeri Smith-Ready - @jsmithready
Jess Rothenberg - @jessrothenberg
Jessica Brody - @jessicabrody
Jessica Khoury - @authorjess
John Green - @johngreenwritesbooks
Joy Preble - @joypreble
Julie Murphy - @andimjulie

Kaleb Nation - @kalebnation
Kami Garcia - @kamigarcia
Karsten Knight - @karstenknight
Kasie West - @kasiewest
Kate Ormand - @kateormond
Kathleen Peacock - @kathpeacock
Katie Alender - @randomkatie
Kiersten White - @authorkierstenwhite
Kimberly Derting - @kimberlyderting
Kimberly Sabatini - @kimberlysabatini
Kirsten Hubbard - @kirhubbard
Kristin Halbrook - @kristinhalbrook

Lauren Morrill - @laurenmorrill
Laurie Halse Anderson - @halseanderson
Leah Clifford - @leahclifford
LeighAnn Kopans - @lkopans
Lenore Appelhans - @lenoreva
Lindsay Cummings @authorlindsaycummings
Lindsay N. Currie - @lindsayncurrie
Liz Czukas - @lizczukas

Maggie Stiefvater - @maggie_stiefvater
Margaret Stohl - @margaret_stohl
Markus Zusak - @markuszusak
Matt de la Pena - @mattdelapena
Medeia Sharif - @sharifwrites
Meg Cabot - @officialmegcabot
Melissa de la Cruz - @authormelissadelacruz
Melissa Landers - @melissalanders
Michelle Hodkin – @michellehodkin
Micol Ostow - @micolostow
Mike Martin - @_mike_martin
Miranda Kenneally - @mirandakenneally
Mitali Perkins - @mitaliperkins

Natalie Whipple - @natalie_whipple
Nathan Bransford - @nathanbransford
Neil Gaiman - @neilhimself

Rachele Alpine - @rachelealpine
Richelle Mead - @reallyrichelle
Robin Benway - @robinbenway
Robin Mellom - @robinmellom
Robyn Schneider - @robynschneider

Sarah Bennett Wealer - @sbennettwealer
Sarah Dessen - @sdessen
Sarah Enni - @sarahenni
Sarah MacLean - @sarahmaclean
Sarah Mlynowski - @sarahmlynowski
Scott Tracey - @scottryantracey
Simon Elkeles - @simoneelkeles
Sonia Gensler - @soniagensler
Stephanie Kuehn - @mayfieldgirl
Sumayyah Daud - @bintdaud
Suzanne Palmer - @thelostwitch

Tamara Ireland Stone - @tamaraistone
Tera Lynn Childs - @teralynnchilds

Veronica Roth - @vrothbooks

Publishers on Instagram

Abrams Kids - @abramskids
Entangled TEEN - @entangledteen
Epic Reads (Harper) - @epicreads
Flux Books - @fluxbooks
HarlequinTEEN - @harlequinteen
Little, Brown Books - @littlebrownbooks
Macmillan Children's - @mackidsbooks
Penguin - @penguinstagram
Putnam Books - @putnambooks
Random House - @randomhouseofficial
Random House Kids - @randomhousekids
Scholastic - @scholasticinc
Simon & Schuster - @simonandschuster
SimonTEEN - @simonteen
St. Martin's - @stmartinspress
This Is Teen - @thisisteen
Tor Teen - @torteen

Guest Post by Yvonne Ventresca: Characters on the Autism Spectrum

Today at YA Highway we're featuring a guest post in honor of National Austism Awareness Month by author Yvonne Ventresca.  Yvonne's YA novel, PANDEMIC, about an emotionally traumatized girl struggling to survive a bird flu pandemic, debuts May 2014. 

Characters on the Autism Spectrum

At a time when one in every 68 children in the US is affected by autism, it’s interesting to see how children’s literature portrays autistic characters.  (I’ll admit that I’m not exactly neutral on this topic because my nephew is autistic.) Because of the prevalence of this disorder, the odds are high that teens will have an autistic family member, or a classmate with Asperger syndrome, or a neighbor on the spectrum. The statistics are depressingly inescapable.

Of the young adult novels I’ve read with a major character on the spectrum, there is an interesting trend of “autistic but gifted.” In general, characters with Asperger syndrome dominate these teen books and almost all of the characters have some type of remarkable ability. Their portrayal is in some ways unfortunate, because autistic children do not necessarily have exceptional skills, for example, in math, music, or art.

YA novels with autistic characters have increased in recent years. Here are several that include a primary character on the autism spectrum.

Autism and Mystery

Published in 2003, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the older and better known novels with an autistic narrator. Christopher John Frances Boone is 15 years, 3 months, and 2 days old when his next door neighbor’s dog is murdered during the night. As he investigates the crime, Christopher sets out to document the mystery of the dog’s death.

Haddon weaves information about Christopher’s disorder throughout the story: his paralyzing dislikes (the colors yellow and brown, for example), his quirks (four yellow cars in a row means a Black Day) and his issues (he hates being touched and has difficulty understanding facial expressions).  He attends a special needs school, knows every prime number up to 7057, and eventually gets an A on an advanced math exam. But he still struggles to process other people’s emotions.

Emotions are at the heart of the dog’s murder and its death leads to the bigger mystery of what really happened to Christopher’s mother. Because of his autism, he narrates in a matter-of-fact way. His factual descriptions contrast with the underlying feelings of many scenes, so that Christopher’s very nature adds another layer of suspense to the story. The reader connects the emotional dots before Christopher does, then waits anxiously for his inevitable realizations about the messy human relationships in his life.

In The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall (2011), the high school baseball coach is murdered and Hope’s selectively mute and autistic brother is on trial for the crime. Told in first person by Hope, this mystery includes many flawed adults and a host of suspects that she diligently investigates. Hope worries that Jeremy (who has Asperger’s) will not survive in a mental hospital if found insane and this fuels her desperation to find the real killer.

Jeremy is the only autistic YA primary character I discovered who is not also intellectually gifted in some way. The key to solving the murder is his obsession with collecting empty jars and labeling them, which leads to a memorable and poignant final courtroom scene. Overall, this is a satisfying mystery in its own right, but the main thread throughout the story is Hope’s devotion and love for her older brother. 

Autism and Romance

The Half-Life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin (2010) is a YA romance that alternates between Liana’s and Hank’s first person point of view. Having recently kissed various boys, Liana decides to temporarily give up kissing after she finds an anonymous note calling her a slut.

When she meets Hank, she finds his sincerity and quirkiness endearing.  Mystified by Liana and her possible interest in him, Hank provides insight into his struggles to pay attention during conversation: “The girl looks at me. I guess she’s saying something to me with her expression. I don’t know what it is. Now I’m nervous. I’ve forgotten to listen, I’ve forgotten to take a moment to think about whether another person might want to hear what’s going on in my brain, all the advice that helps me navigate the world.” After Liana opens up about some personal issues, Hank, who is musically gifted, explains that he has Asperger syndrome. (Liana hasn’t heard of it, which allows for a detailed explanation.)

It’s interesting that in some ways Liana’s “slut” label is as damaging as Hank’s. His social miscues (he innocently tells a group of people Liana’s secrets) create the final conflict, but this novel is not so much an Asperger story as it is about two dissimilar people learning to navigate a deepening relationship.

Autism and Dystopia

In Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes (2013), a fatal virus has greatly diminished the US population, leaving each state’s survivors in an isolated city where they are kept busy, hungry, and in need of a daily viral suppressant that was discovered through time travel.

One of the main characters, Clover, is autistic, but also possesses an extraordinary memory and scores exceptionally well on her entrance exams for the city’s Academy. Clover is another autistic but gifted character, but several things make Viral Nation unique. One is Clover’s service dog, Mango, who comforts her during times of stress and helps keep some of her autistic behaviors (rocking, hand-flapping) in check. Because this story is told from varying third person points of view, the reader sees Clover from other perspectives besides her own.  If Clover shuts down in a nearly catatonic state, for example, the story can continue from the viewpoint of West, her brother.

When Clover discovers that West is accused of a future murder, Clover, West, and their friends begin to question to government and its processes. As they struggle to save West, Clover learns more about time travel and how her autism provides an advantage.

Autism and Coming of Age

In Mindblind by Jennifer Roy (2010), main character Nathaniel Clark struggles with his “genius” label as much as he struggles with Asperger syndrome. At fourteen, Nathaniel is about to graduate college through a distance learning program. He is both socially awkward and mathematically brilliant, but he doesn’t consider himself a literal genius.

Nathaniel has strong friendships with a neighborhood boy and a girl who also has Asperger syndrome. Although he has a loving mother and younger stepbrother, Nathaniel feels he has disappointed his father. “If he’s such a genius, why can’t he tie his own shoes?” his dad says when Nathaniel is seven. Ironically, Dad works as a famous motivational speaker.

 Throughout Mindblind, Nathaniel struggles with his relationship with his father, his crush on the girl in his band, and his desire to be a genius by making a difference. Mindblind is an optimistic story about how a teen with Asperger syndrome can find his place in the world.

Rules by Cynthia Lord is a middle grade novel (2006), but it is worth inclusion because of its portrayal of a non-gifted autistic character. Told from twelve-year-old Catherine’s first person point of view, Rules is a poignant story about the difficulties of having a younger autistic brother. David does not have Asperger syndrome. He is a characterized as an autistic eight-year-old who needs occupational theory, takes his pants off unexpectedly, and loves repeating Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad Are Friends. Catherine creates a series of rules to help David navigate the world, such as “Sometimes people don’t answer because they didn’t hear you. Other times it’s because they don’t want to hear you.”

The conflict of the story stems from Catherine’s protective love for her brother, but her resentment, too. Is it unfair to want some attention from their parents? Is it wrong to want a new friend that doesn’t judge her based on her brother’s behavior? At the same time, she loves David fiercely and is mature enough to understand that a true friend will accept her, autistic brother and all.

During David’s occupational therapy, Catherine meets Jason, an older teenager confined to a wheelchair and reliant on word cards that he uses to communicate by pointing. Catherine adds to his cards, giving him new words like “Joke,”  “Unfair,” and “Whatever.” Her new friendship with Jason broadens her perspective about people with disabilities and her own family situation.

Additional Young Adult Novels:

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (“Asperger's-like condition”)
Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz (Asperger syndrome)
Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly (Asperger syndrome)
My Strange and Terrible Malady by Catherine Bristow (Asperger syndrome)

Additional Middle Grade Novels:

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (Asperger syndrome)
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (Main character’s sister is autistic)
Anything But Typical written by Nora Raleigh Baskin (High functioning autism)
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd (Asperger syndrome)
The Reinvention of Edison Thomas by Jacqueline Houtman (Asperger syndrome)
Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Asperger syndrome)

For more information about autism spectrum disorder:

Frequently Asked Questions about autism from Autism Speaks.

Autism data and statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Information about Asperger Syndrome from Autism Speaks and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Yvonne Ventresca’s debut YA novel, Pandemic, will be available in May 2014 from Sky Pony Press.  Her blog, Word Pop, ( features weekly writing resources for teens and roundups of links for writers of all ages. You can find Yvonne on Twitter at


The opinions expressed in guest posts are the views of the designated authors and do not necessarily reflect those of YA Highway members. However, many in the autism community point out that Autism Speaks works against the interests of people with autism. The Autistic Self Advocacy Council presents its concerns in this open letter to the organization Emily Willingham at Forbes explains why Autism Speaks doesn't speak for her, and The Caffeinated Autistic includes several other alternate organizations.

We are grateful to our guest bloggers and our community of readers, and encourage you to continue the conversation here in the comments. 

Field Trip Friday: April 11, 2014


Lots of talk about diversity in kidlit: Ashley Strickland at CNN put together a solid article about representation and lack thereof in YA. The comments, however, are a cesspool, and Justina Ireland breaks down some of their arguments with a simple metaphor: "Let’s cut the bullshit and add some variety to the menu." Simon & Schuster editor Zareen Jaffery did a two-part interview about diversity in publishing, and answered questions in the (non-cesspool) comments.*

Kelly Jensen interviewed Laurie Halse Anderson about the 15th anniversary of Speak as well as gender issues in the book world, while VIDA posted a count of gender parity in children's literature, and found "being male still seems to carry some particular advantages when it comes to recognition, prestige, and awards for literary merit." Caroline Carlson made the case for considering whether authors on a panel "will represent a wide, diverse range of backgrounds and viewpoints."

Meanwhile, the homogeneous appearance of BEA's BookCon panel headliners was not met with enthusiasm. After a flurry of discussion on Twitter, Sarah McCarry summarized her arguments with some basic advice for white folks in the industry, and Kate Messner said, "When we gush over writers because they are men, when we say, 'He’s just adorable!' what publishers hear is 'Send us your men. We will buy their books.'

*I was able to read part of this link on my phone, but it's not showing up correctly on my PC. However my computer is a piece and my phone is old. So YMMV.


- "Email and twitter and blogs and Facebook and tumblr do not paint an accurate portrait of life. I am not sitting on my computer all day, available to communicate with you." Shannon Hale explains why authors can't reply to everything.

- On the day of her debut, Brandy Colbert shares five things she learned writing Pointe.

- Christa Desir makes an argument for letting kids approach risk through books, and Lauren Myracle says banning books robs kids of chances to be critical thinkers -- in part because their parents may not have mastered it.

- The Atlantic wonders if the rarity of spouses like Vladimir Nabokov's wife Vera is hindering gender parity in literature.

- If you're naming characters, make note: 36% of US boys' names end in "n."


- Bustle says we need more female friendships in YA, with 8 examples of successful portrayals.

- Joseph Bruchac shares a conversation with a reader about why he doesn't "look like an Indian" (and what you're supposed to call him).

- Katherine Locke examines why we're so uncomfortable with angry female characters.

- Rumor has it Mae Whitman will star in the screen adaptation of former Highwayer Kody Keplinger's The DUFF!

- Dr. Maya Angelou had to cancel her appearance at my local library and her apology is the most eloquent cancellation letter ever.

- National Book Award winner Peter Matthiessen passed away this week at the age of 86.


- Gemma Cooper describes what interested foreign publishers at this year's Bologna Book Fair.

- Nathan Bransford lists 8 ways to tell if you have a good agent, while Janet Reid explains why there appears to be an increase in agents "going off the rails."

- Can you submit your next manuscript on proposal? Suzie Townsend has the answers.

- Erin Bowman tells you which marketing and promo materials actually work.

- The League of Assistant Editors is hosting a Dealmakers evening for agents and editors in YA/Kidlit.


- Go change all your passwords. For real.

- College administrators are seeing an increase in students going hungry. (via Margie Alsbrook)

- Why, Twitter. Why do you insist on trying to look more like Facebook.

- Syreeta McFadden explains photography's inherited bias against dark skin(via Sajidah)

-  This week in "people are the worst": Lawyers are fighting against the placement of a 16-year-old "female transgender youth" in a correctional facility for men up to age 20; a middle-aged white man felt the need to spit on a Muslim teen while riding a MTA bus in Queens; a 16-year-old Pennsylvania student went on a stabbing rampage in his school hallway, injuring more than 20 people.

- This week in "maybe there's hope":


- Not sure how to describe these "Emoji Paintings" by Nastya Ptichek, so just go look at them.

- The One-Star Book Reviews tumblr features some gems such as “Even if you read this book 500 times, it has always the same plot line,” “Mr. Beowulf should be required to repeat his nighttime writer’s class at the learning annex,” and “Advice to Amelia Bedelia: Stop taking everything so G.d. literally.” (via Victoria Marini)

- Mallory Ortberg strikes again with "Dirtbag Little Women."

- "Bookstore cats are are one of many reasons why independent bookstores are superior to chains like Barnes and Noble; even if they don’t have cats, they have cat potential."

- And in case you missed it after nine bazillion FB shares:

Road Trip Wednesday: Revamped

You all may have noticed that our Road Trip Wednesday feature went on a bit longer of a hiatus than we had anticipated. But it's back now, and hopefully easier and more fun than ever to participate! Each week's question will be quick, and you can answer it in comments, on your own blog, on tumblr, twitter (hashtag #rtw so we see it!), wherever you want.

This week's question: What are you reading right now?

Some of our answers:

Kaitlin and Kate: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Sarah: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
Kristin: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Sumayyah: Every In Between by Erzebet Yellowboy
Veronica: Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler
Kirsten: Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Leila: rereading Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
Deb: Champion by Marie Lu