I'm working on a young adult novel and have been for about a year and a half. I started two Novembers ago during NaNoWriMo (see my post from Dec. 21, 2012) creating a base story of 45,000 words which I built on. Last November (Dec. 4, 2013 post) I added another 57,000 words to it. The story has gone through two alpha readers who are middle school teachers (thanks Deborah and Lisa) and two critique groups. All have helped me refine the story.
Recently I got an exceptional opportunity — one of my middle school teacher friends offered to let her class read the first two parts of my book and comment on it. Here was my target audience. I jumped at the chance. With more than a little trepidation, I finally got to meet a dozen sixth through eighth graders who had read my book. The experience could not have been more pleasant. The young readers proved intelligent, insightful and as nice a group of people as I could have ever wanted to meet. I left the two meetings I had with them energized and impressed with the young people in my region. Perhaps Humboldt county grows a better, nicer, more involved youth. If so, it's all the more reason to be truly glad I live here. It was a wonderful experience and I thank them for their help and cooperation.