I consider everything I write suitable for young adults for two reasons: You'll never find gratuitous amounts of sex or gore in anything I write. Gore? Yes, some, but not buckets (my story "One For the Road" in Shadows and Light #3 is a good example). A little can go a long way; even further than any disembowelment you can throw at me. Look at The Blair Witch Project; not a single scary image, not a drop of blood but a work of genius that scared millions right out of ever camping again, but I digress.
The purchased books are research, because I feel myself being pulled in the direction to write YA fiction. I enjoy reading it, and when I look at the stories I've written, I do believe I enjoy writing it. I've read my fair share of "splatter punk" horror in the early 90s, but in my older years I find myself getting less satisfaction from dismemberment and more out of a unique idea well written (no disrespect to my fellow splatter peers).
As I reflect on things I've written, at least half contains a young adult as the main character. My young adult life was certainly a memorable and adventurous time in my life so perhaps it's my way of reliving it yet creating alternative outcomes each time. Stories like "The Body" by Stephen King and "Boy's Life" by Robert R. McCammon are very relatable for me, and in my opinion easily fall into the YA fiction category. They are also good examples of the type of writing I'm referring to doing myself, so don't be alarmed. You can still get gritty with YA fiction. I'm not writing sparkly pony stories here.
The article I read today concerning Stephen King's 22 lessons on how to become a great writer, confirmed what I already knew and had been doing lately: Reading....a lot. The article states to read as much as you can, as it sparks creativity and enables you to better hone your writing skills, so while I've been giving my writing muscle a good workout, I'm back to reading too.
Now to find that balance. If I'm to call myself a writer, I need to put the book down long enough to pull out the keyboard and get creative.