If you've followed on blogs/twitter recently, there's a conspiracy theory about a YA Mafia, a clique of YA writers who boost each other's careers and keep out people they don't like. Fabulous! John Scalzi has the best response (note: some mature language). I wish people thought I could be so nefarious and clever, but alas, even though I toured with Libba Bray and have repeatedly and publicly volunteered to be Holly Black's best friend, no one sees me as mafia material. *sadly removing fedora*
Then I'm told I'm part of the sinister Mormon Mafia, a group of Mormon YA writers who intend to take over the publishing world! Look out, evil world, we come armed with fantasy tomes and cleverly rhyming picture books!
Since I'm into full exposure (see nursing post) I'll reveal the nature of a secret writing cabal of which I am actually a member/acolyte. Read on if you dare...
Rock Canyon is a listserv of Utah children's writers and illustrators who are nationally published. It was started by the wonderful and generous Rick Walton as a way to support each other and use our combined talents to do some good in our community. It is not a religious organization, of course. Some writers are Mormon (it is Utah after all) and some are not. Actually, I have no idea what religion if any most of the members belong to. We have a couple of Arizona and Idaho members too (you know, just so we can appear inclusive). We have writers who have been publishing for decades and others who have one book under contract. Fiction and non, pictures and poetry and prose, it's a diverse, opinionated, and stimulating group.
Mostly we email questions to each other, the new asking advice of the old. It's a safe place to complain about the rockiness of publishing and the trauma of the creative process, or to cheer each other's successes, such as a new contract or starred review. It's natural in most any profession, I think, to seek out others like you. (Freaks, that is.) It's especially nice to feel like we have co-workers, since we each work alone, often in a dark basement room.
Each year we host a writing workshop event that raises money to put books into schools. So far this year alone, the Rock Canyon authors have done assemblies at multiple high-need elementary schools in Utah, giving each child in the school a book of their very own. This rocks. Rock Canyon rocks.
Al Capone was known as a benevolent and generous man to some. So, I guess we're kind of a mafia. Without the killing. (As far as you know...)
Here's a little secret to identify Rockcanyoners (since the scars and tattoos are hidden by clothing). We challenged each other include the name Rock Canyon in an upcoming book. Mine will appear in Midnight in Austenland (January 2012).
I found out about the YA Mafia brouhaha through the Rock Canyon listserv, and we had a nice hearty discussion about it. Some of the brouhaha-ness was inspired by writers who blogged about the dangers of hopeful writers who review/bash books. The writers warned that one day you might meet those authors you are bashing (note the difference between disliking a book and the rantish vitriol that sometimes spews forth). I don't want to wade through all the back and forth of this argument, but let me throw out two helpful rules that should apply to everyone:
- Only write online what you would feel comfortable saying to their face.
- Don't poop in your workplace.
About number 2 (tee-hee): imagine one day you are querying agents. The agent likes your ms but is on the fence since she's already overworked, so she googles your name. She reads on your blog several reviews where you go into detail about how much you hated several books she loved by authors she represents.
Or imagine the same scenario about an editor. If you are a writer or want to be a writer, then consider other authors, agents, and publishers as your co-workers. You don't have to pretend to like everything your co-workers do, but respectful discourse in any profession is just common sense.
And...the irony of the sleep deprived mom-of-four surrounded by piles of laundry and dirty dishes trying to give advice to anyone. Ah well. Seacrest out.
EDIT: just to be clear, there is no YA Mafia. I depended too greatly on my ironic tone to convey this. Note to self: use ironic tone with greater caution or else sumbit to inserting emoticons.