At the OWFI
conference, I paid special attention to the Young Adult (YA) panels because I
was feeling as they my YA novel was more Middle Grade (MG) instead of YA. 
According to Saundra Mitchell,  Young Adult is about finding your place in the world
and the voice is immediate and in the moment and the protagonists are usually between 14 and 19 years old.  Middle Grade is about finding
your place in a family unit and typically has protagonists between the age of
8-13.  See hand out here.
Okay…. By those
terms my books is definitely Young Adult.  My
protagonist is sixteen and the voice is immediate and in the moment.  But something still doesn’t sit right with
me.  So I asked myself, what makes great Young Adult novel for me?  IMO, the difference between Young Adult and Middle Grade is YA includes sexual tension and, if I’m lucky, maybe a little sex.  And if I’m really being honest, it also
includes blood and a little bit of violence. 
At the
beginning of COAL, there is lots of pent up sexual tension.  The middle and the end– not
so much.  And there is no
blood or violence until the end of my novel. 
Oddly enough.  I feel like I should ramp up some of the
sexual tension in book one, but I feel no need to ramp up the violence. 

If you’re a YA reader, what makes or breaks YA for you?

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