Brett Michael Orr



Should You Write A Negative Review?

Fellow book reviewers, let’s take a moment to talk about a somewhat controversial subject – negative reviews. We all love reading an *amazing* book and fangirling about it across the internet; but when we read a bad book, we don’t tend to spread our opinions as much.

Today I’m talking about Writing a Negative Review.

Continue reading “Should You Write A Negative Review?”

Opinion: The Danger of Hype

I have a problem.

It’s a problem that many bookworms, movie buffs, and gaming enthusiasts around the world share with me – a type of problem that’s easy to fall into, but desperately difficult to break free of. I am, of course, talking about over-hyping, or as it’s more commonly referred to as on the internet, the hype train or hype cycle.

Continue reading “Opinion: The Danger of Hype”

Opinion: The Benefits and Dangers of Binge-reading

There’s nothing quite like discovering a new series that you’ve never read before, and throwing yourself head-first into the pages. After all, readers know better than anyone else what the painful wait between novels is like, as the calendar crawls toward the release date. Binge-reading skips the wait and delivers a unique reading experience, but it’s not without both benefits and dangers.

Continue reading “Opinion: The Benefits and Dangers of Binge-reading”

Opinion: Writers Deserve More Respect

A few days ago, Twitter did what it does best, and invented a hashtag that stormed through the millions of interconnected devices and into our homes, offices, and study spaces. The #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter hashtag (which then turned into half a dozen other tags) was typical Twitter fare – part sarcasm, part venting, part sincerity, part honest truth.

Even writing this post, the hashtag was still churning over new tweets, and had several well-written and intelligent articles such as this one from the Huffington Post.

Many of the tweets focused on some of the ignorant and hurtful things that non-writers say to us – such as the off-hand comments based on loosely-written internet articles about the supposed plight of the written word:

// others were directed at the more-condescending-than-helpful friends/family/strangers we all (unfortunately) know:


And of course, the most dreaded (and hated) sentence that all writers have to endure, the sheer cringe-inducing opinion that, apparently, everyone would be a writer if only they didn’t have such important lives:


The hashtag wasn’t just an excuse for writers to spend more time on Twitter, but an opportunity for us to vent and hopefully shed light on some of the prejudice and assumptions leveled against us.

Writing is Hard, and We Know It

I’m the first to admit that writers are a quirky bunch. We have our own groups, our own community, our own lingo. We hijack social media systems to create our own interconnected web of friends (such as #Bookstagram on Twitter, which now has over 1.3 million posts of books).

We have a unique passion, and we work in a difficult industry, one where success is often-sought and little-received. It is, at times, a depressing and difficult path to lead – and we all understand that. We are often our greatest critic, and that’s before our manuscripts have even gone out to beta readers or critique partners for the real feedback.

Every writer knows exactly what they’re in for – we don’t need other people to beat us down, because we do that to ourselves every day.

Writing is a hard business. It requires a lot of time, many late nights, a roller coast of emotions, and hopefully – just maybe – a very faint light at the end of a very long, and dark tunnel. We work hard for our passion. We dedicate endless hours to reading books on the art of writing, to discussing and bettering ourselves; we are willing to improve.

We aren’t asking for our books to be published – we’re willing to make sacrifices and improve ourselves to reach our goal.

Anywhere else in life, that kind of dedication would be admired and championed. Many writers start blogging and writing in their very early teens, and continue through into their twenties; I dabbled with writing during my teens, but it took me a few years of a university degree in an unrelated field to realize what my true passion and purpose in life was.

Respect Starts with Saying ‘We Believe In You’

Writers aren’t afforded the same respect though. We aren’t placed in the same basket of ‘self-improvement’ heroes, idolized for our efforts and bravery in the face of incredibly unlikely odds; instead, we face criticism from friends, family and society.

Many people do have supporting friends and families. But it’s very rare to find anyone – even loved ones – who don’t have their private reservations, their own hidden suspicions that it’s merely a ‘hobby’, something to be done ‘on the side.’

For the vast majority of writers, our passion is considered a ‘diversion’ – just check the hashtag and you’ll see that opinion expressed countless times over. It’s as though writing is for other people, not for us, but for people with some magical gift or ‘someone they know’ (another terrible piece of ‘advice’ that gets bandied around).

But on my post last week, I mentioned how authors – many, like Veronica Roth, are just in their early twenties – are moving into the rich lists; and that’s not even mentioning J.K. Rowling (despite some concerns about her wealth, she’s still impossibly rich).

Sure, every writer won’t become a King or a Rowling, but there are literally millions of authors in the world with thousands of loyal fans, living quite a decent life and pursuing their love of writing books.

With dedication and persistence, any writer can become a published author. The sad fact is – many writers quit long before they can get anywhere serious, all from a lack of confidence.

So, What’s It All About Then?

This all circles back to one point, again and again.

Amateur writers aren’t treated with respect.

Sure, once you become wealthy and have films made from your books, people will praise you, but for the fourteen-year-old high-school student who wants to pursue writing, or for the eighteen-year-old university student who is considering switching their degree to focus on creative writing, there’s a tough battle ahead.

Twitter responded to itself with #TenThingsToSayToAWriter, highlighting all of the positive things that writers need to hear. We aren’t asking for hourly text messages of encouragement but simply respect and support for what we believe in.

All any writer really wants is acknowledgement and support – we want people to respect the difficulty and the sacrifices of writing, and to believe in us.

Writing isn’t a hobby, but a passion – a commitment to ourselves and to this community we love so much. We’re attempting to become better people, to produce a piece of fiction that might be read around the world.

It’s not merely something we do, but something we are, and that makes it one of the most challenging – and most rewarding – of all pursuits in life.

How do you feel about being a writer? Do you think writers need to be respected more? What ways can writers help gain the recognition and support they need?

Leave a comment below, and thank you for reading!

What is…YA?

Hello! Welcome to the first in a series of posts highlighting various genres and concepts inside the writing world. I’ll be opening the floor to questions and suggested articles at the end of this post, and I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

Today’s topic – what is Young Adult fiction?

An Unstoppable Force

As a genre, it feels like YA is now one of the most pervasive genres out there – in fact, its success has catapulted authors like John Green and Veronica Roth into the Forbes Celebrity 100 list.

Though the ‘adult’ fiction market still continues to go steady, it’s undeniable that YA is dominating the market in the best possible way.

So what is YA? If you’re asking me, I would define YA as:

“A genre featuring mid-to-late teenage characters and concepts, with a focus on character growth and self-identification.”

Traditionally, YA has always been ‘targeted’ to teenage readers, but the genre has been pushing the boundaries of its age category. YA no longer means that only teenagers should read it (and I’ll get to that point soon), but instead, simply that the characters are aged in their mid to late teens. There are some great benefits of having teenage characters too.

YA no longer means that only teenagers should read it…

Why YA?

Aside from the obvious fact that YA is a booming commercial market, there are some excellent reasons to choose YA as a genre:

Everyone was a teenager: This might sound silly, but it’s true. At some point, we’ve all been teenagers – whether you’re 15 now, or 19, or even in your twenties and thirties. Your teenage years really form the basis of who you are later in life, so from a writing perspective, it allows us the most amount of character growth.

Readers can suspend their disbelief: When reading, we often have to ignore certain real-world assumptions and practicalities. We place ‘adult’ characters in higher regard and expect them to act logically because of their life experience – with teenagers, we have something of a ‘blank slate’ to work with, and that helps make the plot more dynamic too.

First Times: Similar to the last point, teenage characters let us believably handle ‘first time’ events. These can range from the ordinary – a first kiss, a new school, first car – to the more dramatic – first time shooting a gun, first time fighting, etc.

Best Known For…

There are thousands of YA titles around. The genre is one of the largest in the industry, but just thirty years ago, it was hardly ever heard of.

According to Wikipedia, the real ‘golden age’ of Young Adult started in the 1980s, but I think many readers would agree that the modern generation of YA novels have really only taken off in the past decade.

Undeniably, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was a great boost to the YA genre. Her series started in 1997 as a Middle-Grade fiction about 11-year-old wizards and witches, and carried through into their teenage years – allowing the audience to ‘grow up’ with the characters. The Giver – released four years earlier – would also appear to be highly influential, especially in the dystopian side of YA’s roots.

Everything after that is history: The Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent, Maze Runner, Unwind, Throne of Glass, Mortal Instruments, and new releases like A Thousand Pieces of You, Spark, Way Down Dark and An Ember in the Ashes are just some of the many, many hundreds of popular YA novels – and that’s without even mentioning John Green, or the works of Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider) and Australian authors like Garth Nix (The Old Kingdom).

“It’s a fantastic win-win situation. People watch the movies and go read the books; and original fans of the books are interested to see their beloved characters appear on-screen.”

Outside of the Western market, YA can be found in Japanese manga – the Shonen Jump publication gave way to popular teenage-targeted series like Dragon Ball, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, One Piece and many more (some of which, like Attack on Titan, will be receiving proper box-office adaptations). They typically star teen-aged protagonists struggling to cope with their world being turned upside down.

Movie adaptations of YA novels have been storming through the box-office in recent years, with many of the series I listed already having entire movie franchises dedicated to them. It’s a fantastic win-win situation. People watch the movies and go read the books; and original fans of the books are interested to see their beloved characters appear on-screen. The Mortal Instruments had a rocky start to the big-screen, but has nicely recovered by landing its own television series, Shadowhunters!

YES, Adults Can Read YA

YA still has one hurdle to surmount – a stigma that YA is only for teenagers. The genre unfortunately chose to use the word ‘young’ and as such, many adults shy away from the genre. Articles like this are just one example of the demeaning way that some – not all, but some – adults look down on the YA genre. Frankly, the vitriol that ‘grownup’ writers and reviewers direct at YA can be almost sickening at times, and especially insulting given the tremendous success of young authors.

It’s disappointing and needs to be addressed. There’s nothing inherently ‘childish’ about YA, and in fact, if you read any of the books I mentioned, the amount of graphic content involved would rival many adult novels anyway. Some of the most amazing storylines and worlds can be found in the pages of YA novels, and the faith that large movie studios put in YA novels is proof enough that they are truly accessible to all age categories.


Young Adult is definitely one of my favorite genres at the moment, especially because of its sheer variety and depth of characters. There are so many rich worlds out there to dive into, and the amazing YA community will always be there to help pick out the next incredible book for you to read!

So that’s my look into Young Adult fiction – what do you think? Do you agree/disagree with my analysis of YA? Do you think ‘adult’ writers/readers should give YA more credit? What’s been some of your favorite YA novels?
Leave a comment down below! If you have a suggestion for my next What is… post, please let me know!

Thanks for reading!

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