How do we get young adults interested in reading? Are there innovative ways to keep them excited about it? Would making reading interactive via gaming and the internet be effective? What key issues are most important to young adults today? How do we effectively address these issues? What do young adults want to read? What do they find lacking in their current books?
These were the kinds of questions two Goddard alums and a whole group of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College graduates were asking each other over coffee at our weekly writer’s meetings. Amanda Corlies Sandos, a recent graduate of the IMA program, and Andi Lea Miller, a former student of the same program, began these discussions several years ago. Last year, published author West Thornhill, professional editor Jessica Samuel, web designer Poet Rae, JD and numerous other content advisors of all ages joined these discussions to help us brainstorm.
What was born of our brainstorms is TheRavensCrossing (TRC). It’s a young adult, LGBTQIA, online, interactive, sci/fi, fantasy adventure. The website and its stories have become a labor of love to Team TRC. We provide completely free and age appropriate reading, though people of all ages are enjoying the stories. The three authors post 1000 words of flash fiction six days a week in a round robin style. Each section stands alone, but also works within the overall story arc.
The Ravens Crossing is set in the fictional neighborhood of Wildwood, within the real Iowa City. Since the stories are just beginning, we don’t want to risk too many spoilers, but suffice it to say, the fictional world considers an alternate human evolution. Environmental and social justice themes are carefully crafted throughout the writing in an effort to create a completely new and innovative online reading experience. You can find all the information about the project and links to all of the stories on our “FirstTimeHere?”page.
When polling a diverse group of young adults on what they found lacking in fiction, we were not surprised to hear a repeated disquiet over the marginalization of LBGTQIA characters, because they are rarely allowed lead roles or any kind of happy endings. Therefore, our mission is to promote the reading, writing, and publishing of positive, young adult, LGBTQIA literature. At The Ravens Crossing, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and enjoyable entertainment experiences in LGBTQIA genre fiction for young adults on the internet.
We want to offer the simple and powerful experience of reading about diverse main characters that many can identify with. We also want to create a safe place for everyone to come enjoy an escape, create community, interact, and easily connect with important resources. As the website grows, more gamification theory, opportunities for interactive participation in the stories, and online chatting will be added. We want readers to feel comfortable interacting with each other and Team TRC.
The Ravens Crossing (TRC) has partnered with YALGBTBooksatGoodreads, offering behind the scenes peeks of the series and exclusive “members only” content. The Ravens Crossing is also a supporter of TheMakeitSafeProjectwhich provides YA LGBTQ books to school libraries and community centers who do not have the funds or support for purchasing YA LGBTQ literature.
TRC is a community oriented project. We need your help to spread the word. Please feel free to contact us with your feedback and suggestions. They are most welcome. In addition, we are working towards forming partnerships with a number of advocacy organizations. We welcome your ideas. We hope you will visit http://www.theravenscrossing.org and tell your friends where to find us, particularly those who may be in need of support. Team TRC provides opportunities for internships to those interested in furthering a career in editing, website development and management, or public relations and marketing. Use the ContactUs page on the website, and we will be glad to provide you with more information.
-Amanda Corlies Sandos