What is the most popular YA Genre ?

When I started my YA 101 series a month ago, I put out a request for readers, between the ages of 13 and 20 to take part in a not so scientific poll to find out what they like to read and what is their favorite genre.  The results surprised even me.  Below are the questions I asked and below that are my results.

Out of the following categories, what is your favorite genre to read:

  • Adventure (i.e.:  Island of the Blue Dolphin; Harry Potter)
  • Contemporary (i.e.:  Sarah Dessen novels; The Fault in our Stars)
  • Dystopian (i.e.: Hunger Games; Divergent)
  • Fantasy / Sci Fi (i.e.:  Eragon / I am Number Four)
  • Paranormal Romance (i.e.: Twilight, Beautiful Chaos)
  • Steampunk (i.e.:  Cinder; Leviathan)
  • Urban Fantasy (i.e.:  Percy Jackson; City of Bones)

How do you find books to read?

  • Friends
  • Library
  • Parents
  • Book club
  • Teacher

What is the most important element in a book?

  •  Characters
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Other

 How often do you read?

  • Every day.  I devour books
  • Eh, maybe 2 – 3 days a week
  • More like 2 – 3 days a month
  • Seriously?  Who has time to read?
  • Something in between

How old are you?  


49 people responded.

Ages:    20% were under the age of 17.  The other 80 % were 17 to 20.

Where did they find their reading material?  

  • 41% from their parents;
  • 18% from friends;
  • 15% from teachers;
  • 11% from libraries/bookstores;
  • 8% from book clubs;
  • 7% from media.

Frequency of reading

  • 61% – every day
  • 21% – 2 – 3 days a week
  • 12% – something in between
  • 6% – 2 – 3 days a month

Most important element of a book: (this one surprised me.  I thought it would be the other way around)

  • 71% – Characters
  • 29% – Plot

And for the big question?  Favorite Genre to read?

  • 37% – Dystopian
  • 35% – Urban Fantasy
  • 21% – Harry Potter – fantasy adventure stories
  • 5% – Fantasy
  • 2% – Contemporary Fiction (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero being specifically mentioned)

Do you agree with the results?  If you read YA, how would you answer the questions?

Related articles

YA 101: Urban Fantasy

Today I finish up my series, YA 101 with what may be one of the most popular genres among YA fiction – Urban Fantasy.

Urban fantasy in a nutshell is all about mythical, fantastical creatures living in our contemporary times.  Writing about a vampire/werewolf romance in Forks, WA?  Urban fantasy (though I’d check on this one.  I think it’s already been done :-))  Have you got a shapeshifter haunting the streets of NY?  Urban fantasy.  Does your protagonist in Savannah, Georgia have tons of demons living around her that are all about to go to war and she’s the only one that can stop it?  Urban fantasy.

Rules to writing urban fantasy?

  • almost always written in 1st person.
  • don’t use magic as an excuse for plots – big or small.
  • make your ‘monsters’ different.  Vampires and werewolves in YA is overdone.  They still have an audience but look at other creatures you can use:  leprechaun, pixies, gargoyles.  The list is vast.  Experiment.  Be different.
  • Protagonists/heroes/heroines are usually sexy and there is some romance.  There doesn’t have to be  a lot of romance but there should be some.  Romance sells to young female readers which make up the majority of books sales in the age group.  Remember, the romantic partner doesn’t have to be gorgeous, but the reader needs to fall in love with him/her.

What are some of my favorite YA urban fantasy novels?


YA 101: Steampunk

Hi folks.  Sorry I’ve been away from my normal every day posts.  I’ve been in editing hell for the past few weeks and was trying to focus on that.  I still am not out of the dungeon but at least I’ve clawed my way through the bricks and mortar and can see the light seeping through the hazy windows.

I am going to wrap up my YA 101 series today and tomorrow as well as give you the results of a survey I did among readers ages 13 – 20.

I was going to devote a whole post to speculative fiction but decided not to because really, all speculative fiction is is an umbrella that covers fantastical fiction such as horror, dystopian, fantasy, weird fiction, supernatural, paranormal, etc.  So, if you write anything like that, your story will fall under the ‘speculative fiction’ category.  One of the newer and upcoming sub-categories of speculative fiction is Steampunk.  I didn’t think I’d like this genre, but let me tell you, it’s becoming one of my favorites.

What is steampunk?  First, it’s a sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy.  Settings almost always include Victorian fashions, 1900 technology (think gears, rivets, steam-power machines), and social issues.  And like most YA novels possess, there must be a level of rebellion.  Great thing about this is steampunk can take place on earth or on another planet.  Cool, huh?

Steampunk is a fashion statement.  Take Victorian clothing and add gadgets and goggles (always, always have the goggles!), you’ve got the style.  For women, throw on a corset and a Victorian hat with some functioning robotic gizmos and gadgets and walk your four-legged, gear-driven pet, you’re on your way to some steampunk seriousness.  I have to admit, I find steampunk hot, edgy, thrilling and super futuristic.

I think to write good steampunk, there have to be certain elements involved:

  • Research the Victorian era.  Know your time period.
  • Know your machines.  As machinery and technology are huge components of steampunk, you’ll need an understanding of the technology of the early 1900’s and invent your own gadgets to hold your reader’s interest and be relevant to your plot.
  • After reading a lot of interviews with steampunk authors, planning and devising a plot ahead of time is very important.  If you’re plotter, this genre might be up your ally.  Many authors suggest coming up with the plot first and then figure out how to incorporate the technology aspect.
  • Don’t have your characters speak like Charles Dickens.  In fact, move to the opposite extreme.  Steampunk is futuristic with a Victorian flare.  In other words, know your era, know the clothing, know the social norms…and then rebel against it, taking the best of the time and putting a huge twist on it.  Keep your characters, and their mannerisms original to your time.

What are some of my favorite Steampunk YA novels?


Have you read any steampunk?  If so, what are your favorites?

Related Articles

My First Webchat! I’m so nervous

Tonight I will be co-hosting my first web chat!!!  Lord help me.  🙂  Thankfully, Elle, my co-host and author of the YA novel, THE FALL: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN ALTER EGO, is simply wonderful and amazing and is very excited about talking to everyone.

I hope you can join us at 7:00 EST.  Just log into my website around 6:45 or as soon as you can, have questions ready, and be ready to have fun.  We will start promptly at 7 and finish at 8PM.  I hope to see you there.

Devon believed she had found her soul mate in Wil at the tender age of fifteen, but instead of weaving a beautiful love story, she and Wil spun a web of lies, abuse, and manipulation. After the tides of violence turned with such force that her alter ego emerged as her only guardian, Devon’s downward spiral hurtled her towards a dangerous decision she now has only one day to change before someone’s life ends.

Inspired by a true story, The Fall is a cautionary tale that explores dependencies, disorders, and domestic abuse from the vantage point of a young girl who at times must separate from herself entirely in order to endure. Devon wanders from the deep South to the bright lights of Hollywood as she navigates her personal capacity – and desire – to survive a life that has become imminently threatened by her own bad decisions.

​While the novel is dark and salacious at times, it is at its core a story of strength that can be a powerful and positive message to any young woman whose chosen path makes it difficult or painful to broach the question: “Who am I?


What if today never ends? 

What if everything about life—everything anyone hoped to be, to do, to experience—never happens? 

That’s the prompt J. Taylor Publishing threw out there a few months ago when they opened up their site to submissions for their December 2013 Young Adult anthology, ONE MORE DAY.  Six short stories were chosen from six different authors, and glory be, mine was one of them!  🙂

In celebration, I’m giving away 5 signed bookmarks to five people who do the following:

Add ONE MORE DAY to your Goodreads “To Read” list?  (leave your Goodreads name for verification)

Here’s what you’ll get if you add the book:


Isn’t it pretty?  Don’t you want one?

Leave your Goodreads info in the comment sections below.  Also be sure to check out the other author websites and blog for more good giveaways and shout-outs!

L.S. Murphy

Erika Beebee

Danielle Shipley

Anna Simpson

YA 101: Realistic Fiction

For me, realistic fiction is probably my least favorite genre.  When I read, I want to escape the humdrums of normal life and be swept away by something grander, more romantic, more fantastical than every day life.  I have only read three  pieces of realistic fiction recently that knocked my socks off:  THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky, and THE FALL: An Autobiography of an Altar Ego by Elle.  However, I own several copies of classic realistic fiction that I re-read to this day:  LITTLE WOMEN, LITTLE MEN, THE ADVENTURE OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE GRAPES OF WRATH and OF MICE AND MEN.

To find the characteristics of realistic fiction, one doesn’t have to go far from looking in the mirror or examining the world.  The characters are believable, the themes plausible, and the plots convincing.  The language is often colloquial, and there are very view romantic perceptions of the world.  The world is what it is and you and the characters travel along trying to deal with it.

Common themes in realistic fiction, especially YA fiction include problems, humor, and coming- of-age.    Problem themes can include bullying, sexual/mental/physical abuse, drug addiction.  Humor themes have the characters in peculiar, funny outrageous predicaments and they have to use their ingenuity and crafty skills to get out of the mess.  I find this a lot in middle grade novels as younger kids, I think, relate more to this than more serious issues that arise in the later teen years.  Coming-of-age stories are always a winner with teens as they show how the protagonists leaves his innocence behind and grows into a confident, strong individual.  In my opinion, if you’re writing any YA story, this later theme should be prevalent across the board, in any genre you write.  The protagonist has to grow, has to learn.  It’s part of growing up.

What are some good YA realistic fiction novels to dive into?  I’ve been told the following are fantastic.  They’re on my TBR list.



YA 101: Paranormal Romance

Update to this post:  August 9, 2017

It has come to my attention that my post I wrote in July 2013 was eerily the same as a post someone else wrote in June 2013. I have read that article and I have to admit, it is eerily the same. The only thing I can think that happened was the speaker at a writer’s group used this other blog post as her talking points, I took the notes, and wrote a blog about it. While my words were not exactly the same as the other author’s, it was close enough for me to rethink my post and remove it so there would be no question of plagiarism, etc. I had never even heard of the other blogger nor had I ever seen her post; however, seeing as it was written before mine, I am removing my post. Here is the link to K.A.E. Grove’s original article.

My apologies to K.A.E. Grove for any unintended similarities.


YA 101: Graphic Novels and Manga

When I stumbled upon these two genres I had to know more.  I always thought graphic novels were, well, graphic.  You know, in the sense of things happening and the author describes them in very graphic terms.  Man, was I way off.  Graphic novels are actually chapter comic books.   They usually have complex stories that are told through pictures and dialogue.  Graphic – as in artist.

Graphic novels are great for young readers and teens because they encourage reading for pleasure and their pictures can lure in the most reluctant of readers to pick up a book.  Kids and teens also love superheroes.  If you’re an adult, think back to your childhood and your fascination with Superman, The Green Hornet, Spiderman, The Avengers.  Those heroes are still popular today, but instead of reading about them in comic book form, they have now taken the stage in books where children are introduced to themes, plots, structures and narrative, which means vocabulary.  The pictures add to the excitement and tend to encourage independent reading.

Manga is a genre of its own but it is also a graphic novel.  What’s the big difference?  Manga is generated in Japan.  Manga (often referred to as ‘anime’ – which is actually the animated form of manga) is divided into several categories and sub-categories and are often marketed to the sexes:

shounen for boys – these are action/adventure stories.  Think Bleach and Naruto

shoujo –  these stories are targeted for girls and are usually lighthearted and sweet, romances.  Think Kobato and Vampire Knight

There are even Manga stories for adults that are a bit more ‘graphic’ in the blood and guts kind of graphic.

In writing this post, I found out that one of my favorite books of all time, Fahrenheit 451 has been converted into a graphic novel.  Check it out here.  I have mixed feelings about this, but then again, I’m a reader.  For those kids who aren’t…this is a fantastic way to get those stubborn readers into gobbling up some of the classics and ‘must reads’ of a lifetime.

What are some popular YA Graphic Novels and Manga?


Truthfully, I’m going to have to check out Flight of Angels.  It sounds amazing!

SWAG Giveaways!

Hear ye, hear ye!  Calling all YA authors.

I’m planning on one, maybe two, swag giveaways around Christmas.  I’m not sure if it/they will be open for international shipping or not at this time, but I still have time to sort that out.

If you have anything you’d like to have included in the swag giveaway(s) – buttons, magnets, pens, bookmarks, books – please contact me through my website (preferable) or comment here (may get lost in the shuffle of blog posts).  In the comment section, please put – Swag Giveaway in the first line.

Let’s make this a great Christmas for one, maybe two people!  Looking forward to hearing from you.


YA 101: The “Horror” genre

A lot of people love a good fright now and then.  There’s something liberating about confronting the fears that scare us the most and living through the terrifying ordeal to tell the tale.

The master horror story-teller to me is Stephen King. The movies have a lot to be desired in most cases, but his books are spine tinglers.  My husband, to this day, cannot watch or read, MISERY.  THE SHINING terrified my oldest son.  I thought CHRISTINE was pure genius, and let’s not forget THE STAND (even if it was a collaborative piece).

But what makes for a great horror story?  Does there have to blood and guts and gore?  The answer is simple:  No.  In fact, some of the best horror stories aren’t bloody at all; they simply take your mind to that place you don’t want to go.  They tap into your ultimate fear and drag you through it, kicking and screaming, forcing you to face the absolute terror from the safety of your own home.

So, what are the key elements to writing horror?

  • Leave as much to the reader’s imagination as possible.
  • provide lots and lots of suspense
  • wind up the story with a satisfying conclusion
  • create believable characters
  • keep even pacing, and
  • provide suggestiveness in descriptions verses giving a blunt, full force gross out.

Finding adult horror can sometimes be a challenge when trying to find suitable books in this genre for teens to read, so what are some good YA horror novels?  Try these if you’re looking for amazing chills: