Road Trip Wednesday: January 28, 2015

Yesterday we shared our favorite reads of the month, and today it's your turn:

What's the best book you read in January?

Share your answer here in the comments, or on Twitter using the hashtag #RoadTripWednesday -- we'll do our best to share all the responses and help your TBR list grow!

January Reads for the Road

I hope you're staying warm, New Englanders! If you need recs for a good book to snuggle with while you wait for some snow to melt, here are the best things we've read in the past month:

Kaitlin read PLEASE REMAIN CALM by Courtney Summers and says it was amazing and perfect.

Kate recommends WHEN MY BROTHER WAS AN AZTEC by Natalie Diaz (have your highlighter ready to make notes!).

AUDACITY by Melanie Crowder, a book in verse, about a plucky immigrant trying to create revolution in the American industrial revolution factories, is Kristin's recommendation this month.

Amy reread RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris because it is insanely good and intense, so you should read it, too! (If you like scary and/or creepy.)

What did you read in January that you recommend we get our hands on?

~Kristin H.

#ScaryYAH: Two Sentence Horror Story #1

Happy Saturday, Spookies!!

I am so excited to reveal our new (and much improved) horror feature! Some of you may remember the past two years of the Scary Writing Prompt Game, which was a great deal of fun but had plenty of room for improvements that would allow for more players and more creepiness. A revamp was necessary, and here it is!

Welcome to the very first round of Two Sentence Horror Story. This feature was inspired by a fun flurry of posts last year all across the internet that displayed brilliant (and very creepy) stories that were only two sentences in length, total.

Here at YA Highway, we have a pretty diverse range of tastes in fiction, but there are two of us in particular who especially enjoy reading and writing horror. Those two members include me (Amy Lukavics) and the incredible Kaitlin Ward. Kaitlin and I will be running this feature every month from here on out! GET EXCITED! And if not for us, well then, how about for this kick ass prize schedule!?

Prize Schedule:

Every single participant of the game is automatically entered to win a prize for the three times a year when names will be randomly drawn. These dates are:

Friday the 13th (of March) 2015

Saturday, October 31st, 2015 (in honor of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos)

Friday the 13th (of November) 2015

The more you participate, the higher a chance you have of winning! Prizes will include things ranging from scary books to DVDs to horror trinkets guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.

How To Play:

Every month, Kaitlin or I will post a photo prompt to inspire your two sentence horror story. Once you have yours ready to go, you can either:

a) Post it in the comments below
b) Tweet your two sentence horror story (if it fits!) with the hashtag #ScaryYAH
c) Post the story on Tumblr and tag it with #ScaryYAH

Every month, we will post our favorite entry from the previous round. Winners will get an additional entry for a prize on top of their participant entry. Pretty straight forward, right? We are so excited to read, retweet, and reblog your entries!

Now that we've gotten all that out of the way, let's dive into the first prompt.


This Week's Prompt:

Redemption, by {E}mma

Kaitlin's entry: "After so much death, there is nothing left but blood. And so through the blood she tiptoed."

Amy's entry: "She never did learn to swim. The blood that pooled warm and heavenly beneath her feet made her wish she had."


Unleash the Hellhounds, Spookies!

Field Trip Friday: January 23, 2015


The big news this week is very sad news. On Wednesday, it was announced that the US division of Egmont would be shutting down at the end of this month after failing to find a buyer. This leaves many people out of jobs and many authors with books that have now been canceled. Our hearts go out to all who've been affected by this sudden and upsetting turn of events.


Congrats to our girl, Kristin, for her Kirkus starred review of her soon-to-be-pubbed novel, EVERY LAST PROMISE!

Hey, previously unpublished diverse authors of short stories! Enter the We Need Diverse Books short story contest for a chance have your story pubbed in an upcoming anthology with Crown Books for Young Readers.

How did J. K. Rowling keep track of every plot point in the Harry Potter series? This spreadsheet lays it all out.

Over at the Dystel and Goderich blog, agent Mike Hoogland breaks down what he likes to see in a query letter, and agent Jessica Papin shares a successful example from an actual client.


If, like me (Kristin H.), you've been reading this book over and over and over (and over) again lately, you'll appreciate The Ugly Volvo's assessment of the bedroom from GOODNIGHT, MOON.

The Crazy QuiltEdi blog has matched up some YA reads with quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. to help us learn to live the MLK way. (via Debbie Reese)

Over at School Library Journal, Karen Jensen and Ally Watkins have started a series examining the role of faith and spirituality in YA literature.

The Barnes and Noble Teen Blog suggests some YA titles to replace the non-YA titles that ended up on Time's 100 Best Young Adult Books list. 

Over at Book Riot, Kelly Jensen's got a fabulous list of upcoming feminist YA books being published this year.

Big Brother is watching And they know you didn't finish The Goldfinch.


Congratulations to all the Edgar Award finalists! Get your mystery on and start reading.

Would you pay $300,000 for a self-destructing book? Do you also kick puppies?

The National Book Critics Circle Award nominees have been announced, and Toni Morrison will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.


How do you social media? The New York Times shares their thoughts from their 2014 Twitter experiences. The takeaway? Stop trying so hard.

What's your poison fandom? Check out the most popular fandoms, week by week, on tumblr with these nifty, scientific charts from Tumblr Fandometrics.

The NewYorker says Serena Williams is America's Greatest Athlete. But, of course, some dipstick still had to ask her to "twirl" in her tennis skirt.

Shakespeare is old news, people. Now college students are signing up to study selfies, Seinfeld, Miley Cyrus, and that most meta of academic topics, "wasting time on the internet."


The Just Dance 2015 obsession is still going strong at my house, so here are two guys who've mastered the alternate version of What Does the Fox Say?

Happy Friday! 

Road Trip Wednesday: January 21, 2015

This week, we want to know:
What are you working on? 

Share a line from your work-in-progress in the comments below, or on Twitter using the hashtag #RoadTripWednesday -- that's where we'll be sharing some of ours!

Field Trip Friday: January 16, 2015

Hey y'all! Okay, I don't really say y'all in real life, but I will be trying to channel Kate Hart is all ways every third Friday of the month, bringing you FTF! If I missed anything important you saw this week, leave a link in the comments!


The Oscar nominations this year are insanely, mind-bogglingly white, and male-dominated. Every single actor nominated this year is whiteSelma was nominated for Best Picture, but director Ava DuVernay--who would have been the first black woman ever nominated as Best Director--was neglected. And she's just one of a number of crazy-talented black female directors working right now, not that you'd know it by this slate.

And women make up less than 20 percent of the non-acting nominees. The snubbing of Wild, a film starring a mega-star based on a best-selling memoir, as Best Picture (both Reese Witherspoon and Lara Dern received acting nods) is not a heartening sign for stories about women.

It's almost like the Academy is overwhelmingly white and male! Oh, wait, it completely is.

Then there was the suggestion that no nominations for The Fault in Our Stars was the Oscar's worst snub. Mkay. (The award nominations weren't without humor, though. Add 'Dick Poop' to your Oscar bingo cards.)


- Operation Awesome has its 2015 Writing Goal spreadsheet available for download!

- The Morris Award interview series continued with Isabel Quintero, author of GABI: A GIRL IN PIECES, answering questions on our own Stephanie Kuehn's blog!

- Shannon Hale spills the truth about author visits: They eat into writing time, and often don't sell enough books to cover the cost of an author's time (particularly for those writing children's lit).

- Lots of talk about writing "unlikeable" characters in the First Draft podcast with author Julie Murphy.

- Susan Dennard shares the lessons she learned from overworking herself in 2014, and how it has shaped her goals for the new year.


- The librarians at Teen Librarian Toolbox are beginning a series of posts making the case for teen library services, starting with demographics. "We can’t be in the business of ignoring 40 million teens if we are serious about our mission to our local communities."

- At BookRiot, Kelly Jensen rounds up all the YA series that are starting and continuing in 2015.


- Author Curtis Sittenfeld has a great list of "24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing." ("Like cayenne pepper, literary gossip is tastiest in small doses.")

- The boy who claimed to have visited heaven while in a coma when he was six years old has recanted the story, and his Christian publisher has pulled the book, THE BOY WHO CAME BACK FROM HEAVEN.


- Totally sad, totally predictable results when women agree with men who compliment them. I guess they want us to keep not knowing we're pretty.

- Meanwhile, in awesome girl news, two Toronto teens are petitioning for sex education to showcase healthy relationships and build a consent culturevia Rachel Stark (@syntacticsAnd, considering that a staggering number of men admit they would force sex if there were no consequences--and it wasn't called rape--the campaign is long overdue.

- Much was made of this UT student's breakdown of how teens really use social media ("Tumblr is like a secret society that everyone is in, but no one talks about"), but social media scholar Danah Boyd steps in to point out the white, middle-class skew to that analysis, particularly when it comes to Twitter: "Let me put this bluntly: teens’ use of social media is significantly shaped by race and class, geography and cultural background."

- Why are otherwise happy, healthy teenaged girls so darn creepy? Writer Alicia de los Reyes investigates, including tales from her childhood (Katie Coyle admits to illustrating her teacher with head aflame).

- Most inspirational thing I read all week: writer Mark Manson talks about how "not giving a fuck" can be used to be a grown-ass adult, and save us all a lot of unnecessary angst. "You only get a limited amount of fucks to give over your lifetime, so you must spend them with care."

- Gayle Forman writes about the importance of discussing depression in The Guardian.

- A study shows academic fields that favor men are more likely to value perceived "innate brilliance" (Sherlock Holmes) over hard work (Hermione Granger). Guess which gender is more associated with hard work. Go on. Guess.


- The Fauxtographer (Margot Wood) is now on Instagram!

- One scientist is graphing the Internet, and finds it's like a big city with different neighborhoods based on interests. Problem is, the public transit system in this metaphorical city sucks: groups that aren't necessarily similar but have mutual interests (like car lovers and environmental activists) aren't communicating.

- Do the sounds of tapping or typing throw you into a rage? You might have misophonia.

Road Trip Wednesday: January 14, 2015

Last week, writing resolutions -- this week, reading resolutions!

We kicked off 2014 with a look at how diverse our reading had been in the past year. This year we're doing the same, and challenging our readers to set their own goals for 2015. These numbers reflect 265 books read by 5 of our members (Kaitlin, Kate, Kristin H., Sarah, and Sumayyah). As you can see, we read across a decent variety of genres and age groups...

But though we rep pretty strong for the ladies, we have lots of room for improvement when it comes to diverse characters

and even more when it comes to authors.

So that's what we'll be working on this year: broadening our personal reading to include more POC, LGBT, and disabled characters and authors. 

What about you? 
Share your answer here in the comments, or tweet/Tumblr/Instagram your reading resolutions using the hashtag #RoadTripWednesday. We'll do our best to share your answers!

Need more help?
Check out these book challenge links!

- Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge
- My Little Pocketbook's Diversity On The Shelf
- You, Me, and a Cup of Tea's reading challenge roundup