What's On The Web: The Contemps

RT loves The Contemps, a new website that brings authors and readers together to discuss what’s going on in contemporary YA fiction. The site launched on August 17th and already has 21 authors who have gathered together to "celebrate books that feature true-to-life settings, characters and situations." These authors are are blogging, tweeting and sharing their experiences as teens. The Contemps is more than just a gathering place for contemporary YA fans, it also shows publishers that readers are interested in a reading about a wide range of YA tales. So be sure to join in the discussion at The Contemps — you can expect these authors' reflections to be honest and their passion for contemporary YA fiction to be contagious!

The Website Breakdown

Who Is Involved: Lisa Schroeder co-founded the site with 21 other authors including April Henry, Kody Keplinger, Elizabeth Scott and more!

The Target Audience: Readers ages 12 to 14 and up, librarians and teachers.

Our Top Three Reasons To Visit The Site:

#1 The Giveaways including a chance to enter to win a giant 21 book giveaway!

#2 The Members Page which lists all of the authors and when their upcoming releases will be available.

#3 On the blog the authors share their bad high school photos ... here are three of our favorites:

 

Hannah Harrington is in the back in a green dress for mock prom. 

 
 
Guest blogger
Angela Morrison
at her prom
 
Sarah Ockler on graduation day.
 

We were so thrilled with The Contemps, we went directly to Lisa Schroeder, website co-founder (and contemporary author), to see how the site got started and what readers can expect to find there. Here is what she had to say about The Contemps ...

The Mission:

Our mission is pretty simple — to shine the spotlight on contemporary realistic fiction and celebrate it. We feel strongly that contemporary fiction is important. Teens need to read about real teens handling real struggles in the real world. We joined together because there is power in numbers. We can do so much more, together as a group, than we can individually. We want to meet up across the country for bookstore appearances as well as conference and festival signings next year and beyond. We want to get people excited about what's happening in YA contemporary fiction these days.

The Contemps is the place where you can see a list of our members and our books coming out over the next twelve months. It's basically our home base. It also has a page that tells people how they can get involved if they like contemporary fiction and want to support us. For example, there's a contest going on now through November 15th, where you can accept the Contemps Challenge by agreeing to read 18 of the 21 books by August 15, 2011. When you do, you're entered to win a set of all 21 books. So far we have almost 200 people who have accepted the challenge! Finally, this is the place where we blog every week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and occasionally on Fridays. The blog is geared toward teens and readers of contemporary fiction. We discuss hot topics, highlight contemporary YA novels (not just our own), share stories from our own teen years, and more.

Battle Of The Genres - Contemporary Vs. Paranormal:

It's an exciting time to be a reader of YA and a writer of YA. Never before has there been so much variety of books on the YA shelves. This is a great thing, of course! The popularity of Twilight has created a new generation of readers, and that's a wonderful thing. Paranormal is hot partially because many teens go to the bookstore and say, "I want to read more books like Twilight, what do you have?"   

We've heard from a number of booksellers and librarians who are telling us - I'm excited about your group, I want to support you. Some are telling us they plan to do a special "Contemps" bookshelf for our group. What we want teens to see, through our books, is that there is exciting stuff in contemporary fiction too. In our books, you will find action, adventure, friendship, romance, mystery, drama, heartache, and death - a broad range of things, but mostly some amazing reads! Romance, especially, plays a part in many of our books, mine included. That may not be the only thing they're looking for when they ask for more books like Twilight, but I think it's a big part. 

Can contemporary novels compete? Absolutely! Just look at the amazing stuff being done in realistic fiction today. Books like the hugely popular novels If I Stay by Gayle Forman13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, for example. 

Readers still love paranormal fiction. But I've also heard that some people are getting a little tired of it - that people are ready for something different. Well, look no further than The Contemps. This is the place to go for something different and fresh.

Reality Check: 

I think teens are looking for a good read, first and foremost. A read that pulls them in and doesn't let go. Realistic fiction has a way of reminding a teen that he/she is not alone in this very real world. They see real teens struggling to solve real issues, and through that, they feel hope that they can solve the problems in their own lives. 

Where It’s Going:

Visitors to the site can expect fantastic conversations about real issues teen face. Check out the blog post and comments on the August 31st post, when I asked if people ever felt like The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) in their group of friends. Kody Keplinger's new book, The DUFF (Little Brown/Poppy, 9/2010) is getting a lot of buzz, because, first it's a great book, but second of all, many teens can relate to feeling like the girl in the group who isn't as attractive as her friends. 

You will see all kinds of YA contemporary novels highlighted, again, not just our own. As ours release, we'll spotlight them, but we'll be talking about other great reads too. If someone loves contemporary fiction or is curious and hasn't read much contemporary fiction before and wants to read more, our site is the place to go.

We'd love to make the site more interactive, and get teens involved in asking questions about things happening in they're own life. Let's talk about fashion, entertainment, bullying, homework, college preparation - whatever YOU want to talk about. Have a question you'd love for us to tackle? Write to us at thecontemps@gmail.com.

Lisa Schroeder, co-founder of The Contemps, is the author of three young adult novels, I Heart You, You Haunt Me, Far From You, and Chasing Brooklyn. You can learn more about Lisa Schroeder at www.lisaschroederbooks.com.

Tomorrow be sure to stop by for our interview with The Contemps authors Sara Bennett Wealer, April Henry, Denise Jordan, Mindi Scott, Courtney Summers and Melissa Walker. They will discuss why contemporary YA fiction is so important, what appeals to each of them about the particular type of contemporary YA stories they write, who their favorite authors were when they were teens and much more!