Monday, July 25, 2011

Motivational Monday - being the odd one out

"If there's any message to my work, it is ultimately that it's OK to be different, that it's good to be different, that we should question ourselves before we pass judgment on someone who looks different, behaves different, talks different, is a different color." ~Johnny Depp

Last week, an editor asked twitter about verse novels. "Do you feel there's a love-em-or-hate-em attitude about verse novels? Do you love 'em? Hate 'em? Why?"

I sat back and watched the responses, searching on the editor's name to see what people said. I'm going to leave the names off, but I'll identify the profession of the person.

"I've never met one I liked. They're hard to get into." ~Author

"It only works if it's brilliant, like Virginia Euwer Wolf, Sharon Creech, etc." ~Agent

"I am not a fan of verse novels. It feels more gimmick than substance, though I know there are exceptions out there." ~Agent

"Neither love nor hate. More 'don't get it.'" ~Agent

"I usually stop within a few pages. I'm sure there are good ones out there, but I don't have patience to get into them." ~Freelance writer and editor

"Most of the time they're filled with poor 'verse' and there's no reason for the form." ~Writer and educator

I suppose I am a glutton for punishment. What did I expect? I go through this with every book - I am reminded how hard it is to do something different. To put yourself out there with a book that isn't something the majority of the people can get into.

I wish someone had said SOMETHING completely positive. "They're great for reluctant readers." Or "obviously Ellen Hopkins has shown us that many teens love them." Or even, "I don't like them, but I think it's great to have various choices on the shelves for different kinds of readers."

When I talk to middle schoolers and high schoolers, I tell them, I write books that are different. I say, what I want you to know is that it's okay to be different. It's not always easy. But it's definitely okay.

Still, it's times like this that I'm reminded how hard it really can be, to stick your neck out there and do something that isn't universally accepted. So to those of you who, like me, often feel like the odd one out, I just want you to know, I admire you. I know there are days it's really hard to hear the criticism. To wonder if what you're doing is different like The Beatles were different or different like Charlie Sheen is different.

Friday night, Casey at The Bookish Type blog sent me an e-mail, letting me know she read THE DAY BEFORE and loved it and wondered if I'd be up for an interview. I try not to read a lot of reviews, but she said, "Here's my 5 star review" and provided the link, so I clicked over. It's such a thoughtful and articulate review, I want to share it here. The line I especially love? "I honestly didn't think I could read an entire novel written in verse, but by the second or third page, I'd completely forgotten about the style and was engrossed in Lisa Schroeder's tale."

That's what I like to hear.


  1. To each his own. I love your writing, Lisa.

  2. This is both discouraging and heartening. I'll stick with the heartening. xo

  3. I am picky about verse novels Your verse novels lisa schroeder (I apologize for being so informal but Idk if its miss or Mrs so..>>) are the only verse novels I can get into the only ones I love and of course the only book I bought this year that wasn't part of a series that I bought with my own money because I knew I'd love it
    I've tried reading "Because I am furniture" Another verse novel by a different author and have put it down

    Your verse novels are thus far the only ones I will read

  4. I'm really surprised there was so much negativity towards verse novels. I think my first was Make Lemonade, then some Sonya Sones, which led to Ellen Hopkins and we can take it from there. This summer I've read I Heart You, You Haunt Me and Chasing Brooklyn and am incredibly impressed by your writing. Verse novels just make sense to me. Not all of my students like them, but I think they just need to get used to the change in format. Many of my reluctant readers love them. And those who read them, always want more verse novels to read!

    Keep writing beautiful novels :) You have amazing talent and I can't wait to share your books with my students this fall!

    -Sarah @ Y.A. Love

  5. Sherry Shahan wrote a guest post on Agent Mary Kole's Kidlit blog about how novels in verse amp up the emotional content.

  6. Carolee Dean and I are talking about verse during our SCBWI Schmooze next month. May I use some of what's here?

  7. Thanks all, for the kind words.

    Callie - thanks for the link!

    And Caroline - yes, feel free, and good luck with your talk!

  8. I am not a huge poetry fan, and I haven't read your newest book (yet) but I have read I heart you, you haunt me. I LOVE the emotion packed in every word. The lyrical way the story unfolds and just how BEAUTIFUL it is. Stay Different, It's great!

  9. Lisa, you are an inspiration!

    I've had some requests for the full ms of my verse novel, but ultimately what I've heard back is something like: this is beautiful, but it would be difficult to sell in today's market. I'm not giving up, though.

  10. I actually am in shock about all the negativity. I thought verse was big right now. I LOVE verse novels, but to be honest yours are my all time favorite. I tend to have more difficulty with others. Like Ellen Hopkins are good (really good!) but I don't like how it's all over the page. It looks cool, but it's a pain for my eyes. And I've read some others that the style was just different from yours. Yours are the easiest to read and have the perfect amount of information given out at the perfect times. It's all about balance and you hit that balance nail on the head every single time. Your the only author that I recommend your books to every single person I possibly can. If I'm in a bookstore and there's someone looking for a random book I always pull yours out (if they're in stock). I've had people say that they don't like poetry, it doesn't make sense, it's not a story. Or they don't like reading about the supernatural (that was for I Heart You, You Haunt Me) and every time I have something to come back with, some reason I think they are wrong. And from every person I've heard back from they've all loved them and been surprised it was so different from what they expected. I convinced a Borders employee to read The Day Before and when she saw me the next time she couldn't stop gushing. I also got the teen librarian here to read your books and she loved them as well! Most people who think they wouldn't like them, do. Still frustrating about the negativity though :(

  11. I'm a huge fan of novels in verse. The first I ever read was your "I Heart You, You Haunt Me." From then on I was hooked.

    My daughter and I share the obsession and are always looking for another novel in verse. But no matter how many we read, we ALWAYS agree that yours are our favorites.

    We just went down to our little indie bookstore this week and had them order all of your books for us.

    Also, as a writer of short fiction, I've never seriously contemplated writing a novel until I read your books. I was so inspired by them that I took one of my short stories that I was stuck on, started versifying it, and it's taken off. I'm now writing my very first YA novel (in verse) and loving the process.

    We hope there's lots more to come from you!