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YA Highway Turns One

It all started with a request.

April 9, 2009
2:57 p.m.
>>Beta Readers, Mentors and Writing Partners

Thread Title: Another YA novel in need of Betas? Why, yes, of course!

Posted by: Wandergirl

Kirsten Hubbard put out a call for betas, fellow writers willing to read and critique her manuscript, LIKE MANDARIN.

She got several responses. Including mine.

On April 22nd, I'd received the manuscript. By April 28th, I'd read, been wowed, and commented.

I wasn't the only one reading Kirsten's novel. Nor was I the only one chatting it up in the original OPWFT thread. There were five of us who clicked, motivated by a love of YA writing and . . . moose. Kirsten and I and Michelle, Amanda and Kaitlin.

The next e-mail, dated May 13, 2009, was from Kirsten. It began:

Would any of you guys be interested in collaborating on a YA writers' blog sometime in the near future?

Obviously, we were all on board.

After a disappointing "no" to the site, we tried out blog names. Wayward Writers, Nomadic Notes, VenerableStorytellingSlumberPartyofMultinationalMooseMeeses, and the almost winner, YA Unbounded. But then we struck gold with YA Highway and haven't looked back.

We talked for hours, planned and got to know each other, swapped manuscripts, planned some more . . . until on May 26th, YA Highway went live.

We jogged in the beginning, still getting the hang of the whole group blogging thing. And we met some amazing writers who blew our minds with their greatness. A few more e-mails later (and some secret inititation rites) and Leila and Lee were added to the Highway, then Kody, Emilia and Kristin as teen contributors. Finally, we wrapped our heads around the awesome that is Kate Hart and demanded her presence on the blog, too.

We started a Google Group so we could better keep track of the (yes) hundreds of e-mails we sent each other each day. Blog e-mails, brainstorming e-mails, beta and critiquing e-mails and, of course, personal e-mails. Because meese are there for one another in good times and bad.

And we became BFFs. And it is brilliant.

One year later, we're ready to celebrate. Celebrate YA. Celebrate achievements. Celebrate this blog and each other, sure, but even more so celebrate YOU, our readers. The newest and the ones who've been here from the very beginning.

You are amazing. And we've got some things planned for you, but please bear with us for a moment as we highlight why being part of a group blog - especially this one - is so great. Then we hope you'll check back with us tomorrow as, on our official one year anniversary, we begin listing the goodies we've gathered for our beloved readers.

Leila: I used to think that writing was this lonely thing. You know, where you have to sit somewhere by yourself for hours on end and work very hard at creating things which may or may not ever see the light of day. And then my fellow meese came along and showed me how writing doesn't have to be lonely at all. There are other people, all across the world, fighting the same battle and chasing the same dream. My fellow bloggers inspire me and make me laugh every day, and so has everyone else who has joined in the journey with us. I can't wait to see where we travel to next.

Kristin Otts: YA Highway has given me, more than anything, a support system. A group of woman at different stages of the publishing process, from different parts of the world, who just circulate ideas and stories and advice. It's an amazing feeling to know that out of ten people, someone can help. Someone can offer a hug or a smack to the head or a critique or a pick-me-up. Someone is always there.

Kody: Without the wonderful support of my YAHighway girls, I think I might have gone crazy! They've been there for me every step of the way, and I'm so thankful that I"ve had such great friends to lean on, cheer on, and rely on. Happy anniversary!

Kaitlin: YA Highway is one of the best things I've ever participated in. I've loved watching it grow from its gangly-legged moose calf stage where it was all new and exciting and we had so much growing to do, into something I am so proud of. We would be here all day if I tried to articulate exactly what this blog has meant to me, so I'll just sum up with the best part of all: it's given me ten amazing friends to write with and laugh with and cry with.

Amanda: I'm positive I wouldn't be where I am in my writing had I not found this amazing and supportive group of writers. Dreams are a big thing to carry alone, but when you can share them with other people, knowing they completely understand, it makes that dream seem all the more achievable. I've laughed, learned, and made some incredible friends all through participating in the Highway.

Lee: YAH is the one place I know I can go and say, 'hey guys, does this idea suck?' and have 10 voices say..well yes it does. Okay, maybe not really, but along those lines, it is amazing to have such a diverse group of women who all write YA and who can give you thoughtful criticism you know you can trust and that will make your writing so much better.

Emilia: G is for girls who Rock, who Opened my heart and Uncovered my eyes to all the crazy Possibilities in front of me. Belonging to a blog that lets you be as Lame as this, without doubting you, is pretty much Out of this world. GO GO HIGHWAY RANGERS!

Kirsten: I love this industry with crazy passion and adore the passionate crazies that make up YA Highway. The group that blogs together stays together! Besides providing unconditional support, beautifully brutal critiques, and laughter-fueled tears, YAH has given me the opportunity to interact with an ever-expanding community of awesome readers and writers, long before my book comes out. Thanks for following us!!

Michelle:  We chose "Highway" for the travel theme, but I don't think any of us realized how far we'd drive in twelve months. Like any group road trip, this one has come with shouting matches, hysterical laughter, major growth, and friendships forever sealed. I wouldn't be the writer or person I am now if I hadn't jumped aboard, and I can't express how grateful I am for these girls and the countless other writers I've met through this blog.

Kate: These girls not only encourage my crazy dream of publication-- they treat it like an eventuality. It's hard to lose faith with that kind of support. I hope that YA Highway helps all of you connect with other writers and reach your own writing dreams. Even if you don't get the moose jokes. (I still don't. Shhh.)

Kristin: This journey should not be taken alone. It should be taken with people you love, you grow with, you grow from, you admire, you learn from, you can teach, you celebrate with, you suffer with, you brainstorm with, you giggle with, you bicker with, you share with. The YA Highway girls have risen to that challenge. Not only have they enriched my life in immeasurable ways, all those who have participated in making this blog what it is, either by reading, or participating, by writing and publishing, by being a part of the YA community, have been instrumental in our success. Thanks for a great year.
Kristin Halbrook

Kristin Halbrook is the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novels Nobody But Us (HarperTeen, 2013) and Every Last Promise (HarperTeen, 2015). She likes many things.

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  1. KATE. Moose is not a joke. It is simply...moose.

  2. It's probably bad that I keep thinking "moose" is a typo for "meese."

  3. Me too! Seriously. I'm all..."flock of meese? That's right!"

    Thank you Sandy!!!!!

  4. Well, happy blogiversary! I've only just found you, but I'm sure happy that I did :)

  5. Happy blogaversary :) Great that you all found each other, that is awesome

  6. We love your blog! Congratulations on a huge milestone. If you don't mind, we'll link your site in our Friday links round-up to spread the word about your blogiversary!

    Martina & Marissa

  7. Happy Blogiversary! I just found this blog and I love it, thanks.

  8. Congratulations on being here for a year. :) I had no idea there were so many of you guys...

  9. Happy bday to you! :blows air horn: Happy bday to you! :throws confetti: Happy bday YA Highway ::dances:: Happy 1 yr bday TO YOU! ::cheers::

  10. WOW! You guys rock the congrats! :)

    Thanks so much and hopefully we will be around a lot longer to spread the moose love...meese love?

  11. Thanks for the blogiversary wishes everyone <3

  12. Aww, Happy Blogiversary! You guys rock!!

  13. Happy, happy birthday. Y'all are made of the awesome!!

  14. Happy blog birthday, YA Highway! You gals rock, and I'm having a blast following you on your travels. *not as stalkerish as it sounds*

  15. you guys are ROCKSTARS.

    we ADORE you!!


  16. Wait, who vetoed COME ON THAT'S PERFECT!


    Happy anniversary!

  17. Congratulations!

    It's been a lot of fun watching the site evolve and grow as well as getting to know some of you outside the blogsphere. And thanks too for giving me the chance to share a bit along the way!


  18. Happy blogsday! Thanks for all that you do for YA writers. It's so appreciated!

  19. What a cool story ... you gals clearly rock!

  20. I am assaulted by the warm fuzzies. *snuggles YAH* HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

  21. Wow, what an accomplishement! You guys have a great thing going here! Congrats!

  22. Rock on girls! Congratulations on your one-year anniversary! I love YA Highway ... thank you for creating such a close-knit community!

  23. Happy Blogiversary! I just found you guys, but I'm in love. Thanks for being awesome. :)

  24. Awesome post! Love this blog a ton! :D

  25. Congratulations, you guys! I know I'm not the only one who is glad y'all got together and helped make the writing blogosphere such a fun place! Here's to you, YA Highway-ers, and to many, many more blog anniversaries to come!

  26. thanks so much, everyone.

    giveaways start tomorrow!! We can't wait to award you all* prizes.

    *okay, lots and lots of you, but probably not all

  27. Congratulations! What an impressive year. :)

  28. there are so many great books to chose from, it's hard to pick a favorite. but today i'm going to say "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian". if that isn't my favorite book it's at least neart the top of the list.

  29. Happy Anniversary! I think I found this blog through Horserider's Blog (now Writer's Chasm) several months ago and just kept coming back. I love visiting and I love participating in Road Trip Wednesday. Hope you ladies are around for a long time.

    Emilia, do you watch THE TUDORS? In this pic, you look like Henry's (Johnanthan Rhys-Meyers) 6th? wife. On the show, her name was Catherine and she was 17 yrs old, I think. They killed her off a couple of eppie's ago, but the actress who played her is Tamzin Merchant. You look just like her.

  30. Congrats on your celebration!

  31. Favorite book; The Hunger Games.

  32. I thought meese was the plural of mouse- or was that meeses?

    Hppay Blogiversary! Thank you girls for starting this wonderful informative and entertaining blog. The YA world is better place thanks to yoU!

    My verification is poothint :)


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Item Reviewed: YA Highway Turns One Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Halbrook