On Writing Nuanced Relationships

Photo credit: alhussainy on Flickr
I've been thinking a lot lately about how people are complicated. How we can still love people who have hurt us—even repeatedly, even without apology. How one person can do wonderful and terrible things, how they can hurt someone without intending to and intentions don't matter when they do; how apologies don't have to be accepted and even when they are it doesn't always mean things will go on as they were.

I've been thinking about all of that and how that affects relationships, particularly when those relationships are between family members.

While I'd never claim complicated family relationships don't exist in kidlit (YA included), I do think depictions tend to happen along a good/bad binary. Either families are lovely and wholesome (the Weasleys) or they're downright awful and abusive (the Dursleys). But when writing about families, I've increasingly wanted to depict something more complicated, more nuanced. Families who love each other, but also sometimes lash out, or make damaging mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes can't be undone with an apology.

It's a hard thing to write. Hitting the balance between bad and good in a way where the bad doesn't outweigh the good (at least, unintentionally) can be a challenge—and like most things in writing, it takes a lot of feedback to figure out if you've hit the mark. But it's a challenge I'll continue to tackle with different characters in different ways.

Have you written complicated character relationships? What was it like? 

Twitter-sized bite:
Author @Ava_Jae blogs about the challenge of writing complicated character relationships. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: About Your Rights When You Traditionally Publish

In which I respond to the many writers I've had tell me they're afraid of traditional publishers changing their book to something they don't want.


Do you lose creative control when you traditionally publish? @Ava_Jae breaks down this myth & talks your rights. (Click to tweet)

End of Year TBR List

We have less than ten weeks of 2017 left! I know, I could hardly believe it either when I counted—twice—to make sure I hadn't missed, like, two or three weeks in there somewhere. But somehow, the end of the year is rapidly approaching.

100% thanks to grad school (and picture books) I've already met my 2017 Goodreads reading challenge. But I'm nowhere near done reading what I want to read before 2018, so I decided I would make a list of books I want to prioritize reading before the New Year.

If I'm being realistic, I will probably not actually be able to really start on this in earnest until the semester is over (in early/mid December) but, you know. Helpful to do this now anyway.

So in no particular order! Here are the books I'd like to read before 2018.




If you're looking at that list and going fifteen books is a lot to read in, like, three weeks, Ava! you're right! I will probably not actually read all of these before the end of 2018, but I like having a long list of options. Winter break, I think, will be full of books and visits to the library. :) 

What books do you want to read before 2018?

Twitter-sized bites:
What books do you want to read before 2018? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: Writing Doesn't Get Easier

In which I talk about revising my 17th manuscript and how some things in writing never really change.


What do you think?

Twitter-sized bite:
Author @Ava_Jae vlogs about revising their 17th WIP & how writing doesn't really get easier. (Click to tweet)

On Over-Ambition and Rebalancing

Photo credit: Mike Gabelmann
I'm an ambitious person. Always have been, for as long as I can remember.

I was the kid in class who always had to get As. Who wrote novels in math class (and still aced math tests), who took AP classes and was only satisfied with a 4 or 5 score on the test at the end of the year, who wanted, more than anything, to get published again, and again, and again.

So I guess it's not surprising I'm also the person who, in August, thought, yeah, I can do grad school, launch a book, and do thirty hours of part time work at the same time. It'll be fine.

Spoiler: it has not been fine.

As of this blog post, I'm nearly a month behind on Book 3 revisions. I've had to, on multiple occasions, not finish my readings for class. For the first time ever I had to e-mail a professor and ask for an extension on a paper. I have publishing deadlines this week I'll be diving into as soon as I finish this post. In short: October has been a tough month.

October was also the month I realized what I was doing wasn't sustainable and took action to lighten the load for me this month by cutting back on my part time hours. And though it was touch and go for a while, it does look like things will be fine after I get through another weekend plus week of overwork. All because I got a little (well, a lot) overly ambitious.

Ambition is great—it encourages you to dream big and push yourself to get there—but it can be a flaw if you're also a workaholic, like me. I learned that the hard way over the last two months, and it's a lesson I'm pretty sure I'll never forget. And while I'm feeling a little better knowing the light is at the end of the tunnel and soon I'll be able to breathe, I will fully admit it's been A Lot.

But I like to be honest about that, because sometimes you can give the impression online that you're a superhuman doing All The Things and everything is fine, fine, fine, and I don't want to give that impression because I've always found it comforting when authors I follow online say, "Yeah, this is hard."

So yeah, this is hard. But it's good, too. Though I've been overwhelmed, I've been overwhelmed with things I enjoy. And once I get a little better balanced, everything really will be fine.

Just got to push through until then.

Twitter-sized bite:
Author @Ava_Jae gets real about being overambitious and rebalancing. (Click to tweet)
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