Friday, August 18, 2017

The Elephant in the Bedroom: Can Good Romance Be Clean?

It happens to everyone.

You've found a good book, one that you LOVE, and as you're cruising along through you're just contemplating on the joys of life, that such a book might exist, when-- BAM! Two of the characters start making out. In detail. For about five pages.

Or worse, they actually decide to-ahem-consummate it. On screen. In a way that's detailed enough that it would probably get rated, I don't know, R or something.

This is usually the point when I have to set the book down. I'm done. I will not be reading any more of this. I'm lucky enough that I can only think of a few books that have done this to me (I'm very careful to read reviews on books before I pick them up after a few bad experiences.) And I'm not even looking at the big ones here, such as Game of Thrones or Fifty Shades of Grey (neither of which have I read, and neither of which do I ever desire to read.) Books aimed at young adults- teens, mostly aged fourteen to eighteen- are chock full of this stuff.

But what if it didn't have to be this way? What if you could read books without having to worry about slamming them shut and rinsing your eyeballs off with soap?

First of all: I'm not saying that physical affection (or even sex) is bad.

When I wrote an article on dirty content on my personal blog (you can find the article HERE ), someone commented to ask if this was censorship. After all, they said, teens really do have sex, and if they're smart and know what they're doing, it doesn't have to be a bad thing. They also said that to erase that would be to remove the opportunity for mature discussions of consequences and how to be smart. 

First of all: I, like many of my teammates here at Rebellious Writing, am a Christian, and while that may shape my opinion on this, I know that not all of my readers are. However, we all unite for a common purpose: making clean books that don't need to be put down because of content. So while my religion influences my beliefs, I think I can make a case for today's topic without bringing it in that much. 

And the thing is: I'm not trying to "censor" anyone. I hate the idea of people trying to get me to change my work just because they don't agree with it - for the most part. 

What I am trying to say is this: You can write a good relationship without it having to stoop to porn.

Relationships are about more than physicality. In fact, some people are very averse to physical contact.

There's a test out there which you can take to determine your dominant Love Language. Look it up- it's actually really interesting. There's five love languages: Physical Touch, Gift-Giving, Quality Time, Acts of Service, and Words of Affirmation.

Everybody's love language is different. I, personally, am not fond of people touching me. I'd much rather spend several hours just talking to them, getting to know them, letting them get to know me. That's Quality Time. My mom, on the other hand, loves to clean up things for us, fix things we've broken, and in return, have us do the dishes without being asked and do chores just because we love her. Her love language is Acts of Service, as well as Words of Affirmation, which everyone needs and can't really get along without. A good compliment goes a long way. One of my friends is crazy about giving little things to everyone, and in return, she's always happy to receive presents. My grandmother is the same way. 

So, in short, it's easy enough to make people show love to one another without touch, and especially not touch that requires closed doors and bedrooms. My dad learned a long time ago that my mom is kind of averse to physical contact and so he always asks before doing the littlest things- like holding her hand, for instance, or kissing her cheek. 

While I get that things like mouth kisses and sleeping with someone are different, I'm just trying to point out- it's not the only way to show that two people like each other. 

Teenage sex has consequences, no matter how smart you are.

I'll say it right now: I've never had sex. I've never even kissed someone. So while I'm pretty in the dark about what actually happens, I can tell you that as a teen, things happen when you take that step. 

Things like pregnancy. Abortions. Single parenting. Things like STDs, illnesses, etc. Things like tearing down boundaries and making it harder to say no next time. If your parents find out, there could be consequences from that front too. They may not show up the first time it happens, but as you keep going, something will happen. And I can think of very few (read: no) books that feature these consequences, besides books specifically about teen pregnancy. I've only read one of those, I think, and it was okay, but it dealt only with the pregnancy part, not with what life is like after as a single parent. 

All this to say: if you're going to portray sex between teens, it should have consequences.

In short: you don't have to completely censor this out IF it has consequences, but we'd rather you close the door while you're doing it.

Look around at our followers list. If you're here, it's because you're tired of the smut that gets put into Young Adult literature. You want to be reading things that build you up, not tear you down. You don't want to be reading rated R or higher material (MA or R, for our Australian friends) when you sit down to check out that popular book. It's just not something you want to see.

I'm not asking for it to completely go away, authors, and if you need to have it happen, then fine, although that may turn me off from the book. But please, close the door when it happens. Just as you'd rather your privacy in an intimate setting, your characters would too. They don't want the whole world to see what's happening.

And neither do we.

- Faith Thompson

Friday, August 11, 2017

Reconnaissance Mission: Becoming a Book Scout for Rebellious Writing

Hello fellow rebels!

Our history books seem to portray that rebellions are started when shots are fired. That the only thing of importance are the soldiers that fought the battles, the soldiers that fell, the soldiers that obtained the victories.

What those stuffy textbook writers forget is that without food in their stomachs, clothes on their backs, and information in their minds, the soldiers on the battlefield would be the most useless part of the rebellion instead of the most glorious.

My point is, a rebellion is built not just on armies but also a vast network civilian supporters.

And just like any, this Rebellion is in need of such a network.

While all of us on the #RW team are avid readers of YA fiction, there is only so many books one can read. We are always looking for clean books to recommend, and we also want to warn against bad ones.

So, we would like to invite you, fellow readers, on a reconnaissance (or spying) mission: to be book scouts for Rebellious Writing.

The job of a book scout is to scout out and give us their personal ratings of Young Adult age-range literature, especially for how much swearing, abuse, and lust is present in the work on a 1 to 5 scale. Much like a spy's communication to an army, these simple brief "reviews" would provide a guaranteed spoiler free look to see if a book is clean enough to enjoy without loss of our souls or tempers.

To give you an idea, a 5 star book would be one that:

1. Has no swear words (spelled out or in symbol talk). Words such as crap, suck, screw, etc., are technically vulgar words as well though they are not considered swear words. Since we wish to advocate for clean literature, I personally would include these words as swear words. Phrases that allude to swearing (e.g. he cursed) are acceptable. 
2. If abuse (alcohol, drug, child, or domestic) is in the book, it is shown in a negative light and has clear consequences. We don't wish to recommend books that would glorify that kind of stuff.
3. Has no explicit sexual scenes (including making out), or any impurity beyond mild kissing between a male and a female.

Being a book scout is completely voluntary. You, the scout, set your own terms of involvement. You can make one recommendation, you can make 250 if you so desire. You can do it regularly, you can do it once in a blue moon. The choice is entirely yours. 

These book scout reviews will be published on the Rebellious Writing Goodreads group and will be also published here on the blog as "Book Scout Bulletins".

To submit your book scout reviews, and for other ways to get involved with Rebellious Writing, please visit the "Collaborate" page located in the drop down menu under "Mission" and fill out the Google form. Any questions about the form may be emailed to the team email:

I look forward to seeing what books you readers bring forth to us! 

March well, 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Website Kickoff: Featuring the Founder's Round Table

The long days (and nights!) of preparation and marketing have paid off.

To celebrate National Book Lover's Day, the #RebelliousWriting movement, now two months old, has a shiny new home. And thank heavens - being spread over ten blogs was a mess to keep up with!

You may be wondering - how did this movement get started in the first place?

While we could redirect you to thirty different posts, or even to this video, we believe no one is more qualified to answer this question than our founder, Gray Marie Cox.

So, Gray....just how did Rebellious Writing get it's start? And may we be introduced to the team?

Gray Marie Cox:

Believe it or not, this whole movement started with a small rant of only 882 words that I posted June second, little did I know that the small outpouring of my emotions and anger towards today's YA standards would soon lead to many other bloggers to do similar posts, spread the word, fight against low standards for teenage writers and readers, and eventually lead up to this amazing blog. I didn't even expect a lot of people to agree with me, or sympathize with my frustration towards the normal standards towards us young adults. But it did, and that's all that really matters, isn’t it?

We're all here. Us, the teenage readers, writers, and fighters against vile content and low expectations.

I am Gray Marie Cox, and I am a rebellious writer and reader, and I'd like you to meet the rest of our rebel team…

Anna C. S. :

Hello! I am Anna C. S. and as a writer and avid reader, Gray’s post really hit home for me. It seemed like I had read almost every good book in my tiny library, and I was greatly disappointed at the titles that lined the shelf. They were all pulp reads, or glorified things that should never be glorified. It was really hard getting out of the children’s section and finding clean reads for myself as a young adult was tough. I read through classics galore but I was eager to look for more, I was and still am convinced...the good writers didn’t just live in the past, they live now and they live in the future, so why wasn’t I finding any?
What started as a rant started blooming into a movement and EVERYONE was commenting their support. The amount of views we all got on our #RebelliousWriting posts was incredible, and I knew we had hit something golden. So one day, in all my inadequacy (I was a little too excited!), I emailed Gray to propose a website and blog. Long story short, of course I couldn’t do it...but I wasn’t alone, there were so many people that jumped in and made it possible. I love Rebellious Writing because it isn’t just a movement, it’s also a community. It’s a place where you can share, where your voice is heard, and where light wins over the darkness.

Catherine Hawthorn:

Hello all! I’m Catherine Hawthorn. My entrance into the world of YA literature began in my sophomore year of college - which I got my Kindle. Searching through the free section of the Kindle bookstore, I finally found books that reflected my reading level, but there were some books that I got what I paid for. I’ve been told that as an adult (I’m in my early 20’s, but still a teenager at heart) I can handle adult content in books. The thing is, I don’t WANT to handle adult content in books!!! I want stories that make me strive higher, give me hope, and send me flying off to distant lands; not ones that drag me down into darkness.

Which was why I was super excited to hear about the Rebellious Writing movement. Flamed with zeal after seeing the beginning posts, I not only made a post of my own (memes and all) but also offered my services to Gray and Anna after hearing discussion about a potential website. Anna and I very quickly realized that we needed much more help, especially when it came to social media. So, I got in touch with several of my favorite blogging buddies, including Faith, Audrey, Melissa, Clare, and Lila. After all, what’s a rebellion without friends???

Faith Thompson:

Hi! I’m Faith. I’ve spent my whole life cringing at content in books and being forced to set books that appeared promising down when my mom said that there was too much bad stuff in them. The quest for good, clean reads is what led me here-- to Rebellious Writing, a movement that seems to really have taken off. I’m thrilled to see so many people working towards the goal of changing moral standards in young adult and maybe even adult literature, getting rid of the evil and gross stuff in most of today’s bestsellers and making it easier to find books that I’d be willing to pass the (for me) ultimate test: being recommended to one of my younger sisters.

That’s the biggest goal for me in Rebellious Writing: to pass off better books to the next generation.

Audrey Caylin:

Hello! I’m Audrey Caylin, and I’ve been devouring books ever since I can remember. I always ran out of clean reads, which actually led me to writing, where I could weave my own stories with good content. Since then, I’ve been searching for other authors who have the same idea of writing clean YA books.

Needless to say, when I first heard of Rebellious Writing, I was excited… and surprised -- surprised that other teens wanted clean reads just like I did and were rising up against the dark, gritty content of YA. Being such an avid reader and taking pains to avoid the explicit side of YA, this cause is really close to my heart and I jumped on board to post about Rebellious Writing right away.

And now… a blog. Social media. The momentum started by this movement hasn’t died -- it’s kept going, and I hope we’re on our way to making a difference and bringing good, clean reads to the YA genre.

Clare A.:

Hello Everybody! I’m Clare A. and ever since I learned how to read I haven’t been able to stop. I used to think that all books were wonderful, all the ones I read brought such hope and joy into the world, then I entered the YA section of our library. Why were bad things happening in my beautiful books? I had to move back into classics and middle grade fiction, which are nice, but it would be nice to be able to relate to characters who are my age.

One day I stumbled on a blog post where the author was angry at all the bad things happening in YA books. I was nodding my head in agreement all the way. I wrote up a post explaining how I agreed that those things need to be stopped.

About a week later I got an invite from Catherine to be part of a blog dedicated to spreading clean books and stopping the bad. “Game on!” I thought. Now after all that work we are finally here, making our voices known.

Melissa Gravitis:

Hi everyone! I’m Melissa, and I’m quite horrible at introductions. If there’s one thing you should know about me though, it’s that I’ve always had a heart for imagination. Creating worlds, stories, gives me such a thrill and joy. So needless to say, I’m a writer. And I believe that words can be used to shine light in a world of darkness. They’re so powerful. But that power has often been misused to promote darkness in YA, and that saddens me. So when I first heard about the movement, I wholeheartedly agreed with it! But did I immediately jump onto my blog and pump out a post? No. And it might not be for the reason you think; I doubted myself. I thought there was no way my words could be as inspiring of those of other bloggers speaking about this movement.

But I eventually swallowed my doubt, and wrote the post. I was so thankful for the great response, and was contacted by Catherine to join. Of course I did! My point is, don’t feel shy to share your words about Rebellious Writing! Everyone has their own talents and voice, and we would love to have you!

Lila Red:

Hey, there!

I'm Lila, and I have a passion for reading and writing. As a very young reader, I never had much of a problem with bad books (naturally), but as I got older and moved from chapter books to Middle Grade to YA, the issue appeared and has only grown. It's almost always a risk to pick a book off one of those shelves - a problem beyond irritating. It's painful. So as a writer, it is my dream and goal to put my own wholesome stories out there, as a light among the excessive edginess and constant filthiness so much YA consists of.

I knew I wasn't alone, of course, but when I discovered the #RebelliousWriting movement, I realized that many writers and aspiring authors feel the same way. After joining the cause with my own post, Gray and Catherine invited me to be more involved.  I grabbed the opportunity, and now here I am, writing for this amazing website! With a team of fellow rebels surrounding me and God by our side, I strive to make a difference.  This is my chance to speak out. And I encourage you to add your voice to the mix!

Abigail Lennah:

Hi, everyone! My name is Abigail Lennah, and I blog over at Ups & Downs. While I saw posts around the blogosphere about #RebelliousWriting, I didn’t really consider being directly involved in the movement until Anna invited me. The pillars and the mantra that our cause is saying highly resonates with me.

All right, story time-- thirteen-year-old me was a voracious reader, long after the Twilight phase happened and just right when books like Divergent and The Mortal Instruments rose to fame. I remember just reading through these two book series, having no idea of the amount of sexuality and lewd language I’d encounter. Again, I had just been an emerging teen for nearly two months at that time and when I read those two series, I had to skip over those parts. Trying to find clean books in the library without being off-set by profane exposure to certain themes and aspect is like minesweeper-- the actual thing, not the game.

Readers and writers feed what we read into our writing, and while my younger self held many traces of naivety (and even now, I still do carry those traces), I kept thinking: yes, drugs happen. Sex happens. Teenagers cuss. To act as if these things don’t happen is just ignorance. But is it okay that our literature holds up these ideals in the highest esteem and glorify it without showcasing the negative ends, with consequences of varying degrees? Does good the definition of what a good book is in our society need to have all of these things?

That’s why I’m here to join this fight. Will you join the rebellion?

Well....will you?

This movement is not just for the Young Adult writers, but also for the Young Adult readers.
We would love to have you be involved!

Young Adult readers - be sure to check out Catherine's post in a few days for more information on the Book Scout Patrol!

Happy National Book Lover's Day!