Wednesday, February 29, 2012
On March 12th, I am presenting book talks on Hot Teen Titles to a bunch of librarians! Anyone who's met me in person knows I can booktalk for hours. I only get 20 minutes, so I better practice my speed-talking!
To prepare a well-rounded presentation and book list, I've been reading a lot of new teen graphic novels and non-fiction. I loved LILY RENEE, ESCAPE ARTIST (graphic novel) and am enjoying THE PREGNANCY PROJECT (non-fiction), but since I usually read teen fiction, I want to make sure I'm not forgetting anything HOT that was released between September 2011 and March 2012.
Does anyone have any recommendations of teen GNs or NF that I must read and include in my presentation?
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
So I've been taking a bit of a break from writing, editing, and reading to recharge myself and get ready to do some big editing next month. I'm so excited that I'm going on vacation to Savannah next week that I can hardly think of anything else.
I really need a vacation.
I'm definitely one of those people that needs a change in scenery and environment every now and then to get my creative juices flowing and to recharge. I've taken a few mini trips this past year, but nothing more than a night or two, so I'm excited to get away for an extended stay.
In fact I'm so excited that I've decided to be a dork and give you reasons why vacations are important.
- It's good for your health. It's true. I found it on the Internet (which means it must be accurate, right :)) But it's been proven that vacations, along with sleep and exercise are "restorative and protective against the ill effects of psychological stress."
Other good points the blog entry mentions include:
- Vacations often allow you to pamper yourself and reward yourself for all your hard work. And it gives you time to be treated well and feel important.
- It offers you freedom to do what you want, when you want.
- Reconnect and try something new together, which might give you something to talk about for along time to come.
- They foster bonding and build beautiful memories.
Okay, okay. I know these are all common sense and everyone knows vacations are awesome! So I'm definitely preaching to the choir.
But sometimes all of us forget that we need time to step back and relax. Yes, vacations can be work to set up--especially if you are "doer" like me on vacations instead of a "relaxer"-- and they can be stressful at times, but normally it's a good stress and it's worth it in the end.
So if you happen to ever feel guilty about taking a vacation, talk yourself out of it now. It is almost always money well spent!
--Emily, Miss Querylicious
Monday, February 27, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Question: What's keeping teens from reading ebooks?
Short answer: Nothing.
There was this really interesting article from Publisher's Weekly about teens and ebooks earlier this week. Read it here.
Based on a survey, teens are "reluctant" to embrace ebooks. Then the articles goes to talk about how agents, editors, and writers disagree. I think that's fantastic! In whole, it's a really exciting article about the future of ebooks for teens. There are some pretty cool apps that can be piggybacked on ebooks and it seems publishers are jumping on that. Luuuuv that idea - planning to do that myself in the future.
Unfortunately, I think there were a couple of odd assumptions made in the article.
Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Dear Publishing Industry,
We need to talk. What's going on with the romantic comedies for teens? Like, where did they go? Have you stopped making them? Please say you haven't stopped making them. You have, haven't you. A quick search on Amazon for the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy line and I don't see any released past Spring of 2011. What's going on? They're so darn cute and funny. Come on, you guys love them right?
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Two weeks ago, I talked about the revived trend in YA novels of
characters in mental institutions. Today I'd like to talk about all the poor parents who are killed off in car accidents.
Recent YA novels I've read that include this plot point are:
(Dad is dead)
(Both parents bit the dust)
(Mom is actually in a persistant vegetative state after a car accident)
(More bad luck for Mom)
I understand that in order for the main characters to act a certain way, or to live a certain way, or to grow in a certain way, dear old mom and/or dad have to get their head through the windshield. And I understand that about 30,000 people die in motor vehicle accidents per year, so the number of parent deaths in YA novels may actually be statistically correct!
And keep in mind that I actually really enjoyed these books!
But the death-by-car element makes me as a writer think that if I need a dead parent, I should brainstorm a number of ways to off them, something more original that may also challenge my own writing/plotting skills.
Is there a "death by" plot element that you have seen enough of to make you resist using it in your own work?
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Welcome to all of our new blog, twitter, and facebook followers. We are glad you stopped by.
I'm pleased to announce the winner of The Awesome Valentine's Makeover Giveaway!
And the winner is...
Monday, February 20, 2012
My kids get home from school at 3:30, and my house goes from quiet to pandemonium. They're hungry, they're thirsty, the neighborhood kids follow them home. I used to try to work through this chaos and then, after they settled down with homework or friends, I'd have to get up and make dinner. Finally, I learned. Now I make dinner at 3:30. I'm in the kitchen when they need me and back to work after they've settled down.
This also works great on the weekends. When my kids ask for lunch, I can serve them mac and cheese and start making dinner at the same time.
I know a lot of busy people don't cook much. My mother cooked every night and worked full time (well, I helped once I was old enough), and although I don't really like to cook, I don't like to eat out a lot either. My husband definitely pulls his weight, often cooking a few meals for the week on Sundays. But he doesn't get home from work until 6 or 7 in the evening. So to preserve my writing, editing, and critiquing time, I cook meals that I can make at any time of the day.
Do you have any tricks for balancing your time?(Trust me, Better than Boullion brand stock. With that, I can make soup out of anything.)
--Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages
Friday, February 17, 2012
I haven't read a romance novel in years - at least not one that didn't contain some sort of paranormal or fantasy element to it. I'm your not-so-typical girl who loves movies where things blow up, zombies eat people, and love only happens because people are thrust together in insurmountable circumstances that get those hormones surging and the adrenaline racing.
When I met my husband, we bonded over my love of the 80s movie Masters of the Universe (yes, the He-Man movie) and Babylon 5 (yes, I have an undying crush on Bruce Boxleitner, the captain of Babylon 5 and the star of Tron). To me, there's nothing hotter than a guy in uniform - one for space travel. My hubby couldn't believe it. He'd hit gold. Not only did I love typical guy movies (Die Hard happens to be one of my favorite Christmas flicks), but I was also an avid gamer (the video game variety, I've never played D&D).
Some girls might roll their eyes at me. That's okay. I was never one to fit in and gave up trying years ago. But here's the thing - I'm not alone in this world. There are dozens, thousands, possibly millions of girls out there like me who swoon over the fast, dangerous romance. In the medieval-based fantasy worlds I write, characters are often trapped in wars (magical or military). They fight hard. They love hard. There isn't time for a slow buildup because they just might get burned alive (read The Initiate) or magically pushed off a platform, sending them to a quick death by broken neck (read Sleepers).
When the bigger concerns of the world come knocking, it's usually love fast or die frustrated. lol
This was one of the reasons I decided to epub. Many of the agents I spoke with bemoaned my character's ability to fall in love (or in like, or in lust) so quickly. Instead of arguing about genre conventions (wouldn't you fall in love fast if you knew you could die at any moment?), I moved on. If I argued with every person who insisted I'd never be popular, I'd still be standing on the football field in high school, clutching my flag while wearing a marching band uniform, insisting that someday I'd make something of myself while my tormentors would still be, well, mean (thank you Taylor Swift!!!!). Maybe my books aren't typical YA fare. I admit it, they're a weird combination of Twilight and Game of Thrones. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with that.
Love hard. Die hard.
Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Everyone has been talking about things they love this week so I thought I'd talk about some of the fun/interesting publishing related stuff I've seen on the Internet this week.
1) This crazy funny VLOG:
2) This interesting blog post from Rachelle Gardner called, Do You Know What Business You're In? In it she compares the publishing industry to Kodak and how they kept denying the changing times (from printed film to digital) until they were out of business.
3) You know the hilarious Ryan Gosling Love YA web site? Well, it seems Ryan is tweeting now as a lit agent and he's somehow even funnier on twitter with updates like, "Hey Girl, there were chocolates and glitter inside your query envelope. You didn't need to do that. But thanks." Follow him @GoslingLitAgent
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Tip of the Day: Our Awesome Valentine's Makeover Giveaway is still going strong! Just go to this page and in the “Enter to Win” section type in your email or Facebook login. You get extra points for following our blog, liking our Facebook page, and Tweeting about the contest -- every day!
What a week of LOVE here at A2A! In honor of Valentine's Week, I want to share with you my five favorite YA romances that I read in the past six months. And here they are, in no particular order:
John Green's book is full of smart characters who aren't afraid to be smart and their honesty about their feelings for each other is refreshing.
HAMLET is a super clever, modern take on a classic romance that shows Ophelia's heartbreak and anguish very well.
DITCHED 100 percent delivers on the romantic comedy front, from the missed connections to the prom setting.
RITES & WRONGS is an adorable look at a girl whose anthropological observations may steer her wrong when it comes to love.
LOLA is a fun main character with a quirky style, rocker boyfriend, and sweet boy next door that equals a great romance.
I definitely lack a good romance writer gene, maybe because as a teen I wasn't as smitten as some of my friends with the idea of finding "true love" in high school. I have to work hard to write swoony romance in my novels. What YA romances do you think I should read? What are some of your favorites?
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
Check us out everyone. We have a makeover! Thank you so much, Em, for designing our blog's new look. We're rolling out this makeover to celebrate our newest Author2Author member joining us, Megg Jensen. And now we're on Facebook and Twitter. We're kicking off our Valentine's look with a fantastic giveaway. Look at what you can win:
I'm giving away THE LAST EXIT TO NORMAL by Michael Harmon in hardcover. It's a love story between a city boy and a country girl, and also about how that city boy adjusts to his father's new boyfriend.
Emily is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card. Sweet!
Deena is giving away BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES by Laurie Stolarz. Suspense, mystery, and stalkers ... your perfect read for a snug, secure winter night.
Tina is giving away the winner's choice of any one of her titles! That's right, and she'll sign the copy for you, too! Megg is giving away the winner's choice of any of her ebooks. Awesome!
So how do you win? Spread the word about us. All entry methods are optional, and you can get up to 7 entries:
1. Follow our blog
2. Like our Author2Author page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author2Author/167896939991913
3. You can Tweet about our contest once each day, today through Friday. You get an entry for each Tweet.
Just Tweet something like this: Makeover giveaway from @A2AGirls. Awesome YA swag! Details on their blog. bit.ly/AyvWub #yalit #YA
The contest ends Friday. Click the "Read More" link below to enter. Good luck, and thanks for your support!
-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages
Friday, February 10, 2012
So now that you know the different types of editing you need to do to your manuscript as an indie (because traditionally published authors have professional editors through their publishers to make sure, hopefully, all the bases are covered), I'm going to help you find your perfect editing partners.
When I decided to start approaching my writing as a business with an eye to getting published, versus just writing for fun, I joined SCBWI - the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. It was through this organization that I found my first online critique group. I was thrilled because two of the members had MFAs in Creative Writing.
That was equally exciting and intimidating. Luckily, the members were more than happy to take me under their wing. I didn't submit my material at first. Instead, I sat back and learned how they critiqued. It was totally mind-blowing and I am grateful to each of them for everything they taught me. After a year of critiquing with them on a bi-weekly basis, I felt like I'd learned a lot ... but I was pretty sure there was more to learn. That's when I discovered Becky Levine.
The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide.
You should buy a copy because this book will enhance any critique group situation you encounter. It will make you a better participant and a better critiquer.
Once you're able to locate some critique groups, you want to gather people around you who have different skill sets. Find people who excel in copy edits, people who can spot a hole in a story a mile away, or who can find your writing tics that no one else can see. I can guarantee you that you will not find one perfect critique partner, nor can you be everything to someone else. Make friends and start sharing your work!
Now we can talk a bit about hiring an editor. *cringes* I hate talking about this. I really, really do. Why? Because when I was querying I sent out feelers to three professional editors, people whose names you'd recognize and who are well-respected editors. I sent each of them a sample to edit, so I could get a feel for their style. I purposely filled the document with errors, some subtle, some obvious.
All of the samples came back with a cursory edit. I was crushed. These were the most well-respected editors and the illusion had been broken. I spent seven years as a journalist. Had I ever turned in an article that poorly edited, I can guarantee you I wouldn't have received new assignments.
If you do decide to go the professional editor route, here's what I want you to do:
1. Figure out what kind of edits you need. Not every editor does all kind of edits.
2. Get referrals from friends. Read some of the work they've edited.
3. Send them a sample edit with known mistakes.
4. If you like the way they edited, make sure their style jives with yours. Make sure they understand your voice.
5. If you go ahead with the edit, don't assume their edit was perfect. Go over your manuscript again and again and again.
I've never claimed my books are perfect. There definitely are advantages to having a traditional publisher and their massive editing machine behind a book (though we've all seen mistakes in trad pubbed books too), but indies can get their books up to par too.
Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber
Thursday, February 9, 2012
I've been researching how to create memorable characters and finding snippets of information that I think would be useful to share.
Easy on the Names
Like from this site the author Lee Masterson says, "The name must not only suit the character, but must also be easy on your intended readers. If you decide the name Xzgytgml is the only name that suits your character, bear in mind that the reader is forced to stop and stumble through the unfamiliar word, which means he is no longer engrossed in your story." And, yeah, this happens to me all the time when I'm reading. I can't get past some of these crazy names and they pull me from the story each time.
Glen C. Strathy says we should use tags to make our characters stand out. "Tags are things which identify a character and set him or her apart from other characters."
"Tags can include physical traits, clothing preferences, hairstyles, habitual mannerisms, facial expressions, speech habits, noises the character makes, or even scents - anything, in fact, that a person interacting with the character would notice about him. The combination of a character's tags should set him or her apart from all other characters in the novel."
This is a problem I've seen in various novels (including my own) where the characters might talk too alike or use the same lingo or have the same ticks. It confuses the reader and might pull them from the story to backtrack and see who is talking.
Show, Don't Tell
Author/Agent Mandy Hubbard wrote a great blog post about creating memorable characters here. In it she talks about how we need to discover a character like pulling back the layers of an onion, a little at a time. " For instance, if your character is shy/awkward, please, please do not have her think, “I do not feel comfortable in crowds. I would like to avoid them. I am a shy person.” Instead, have her wipe her sweaty palms on her jeans. Let her stomach lurch when the teacher calls on her in class." I ran into something like this just the other day when I was compiling a reading list. I was reading the first few pages of a particular book and the main character said on page two, I have ADD and that means I have a hard time sitting still and paying attention to the teacher and so on. I gave up on the book right there. I knew I wouldn't be able to sit through a whole book with a character just telling me things about himself.
Make Your Characters Three Dimensional
Susan Denard makes a great point that we must not forget about our bad guys in our books. They need to be memorable too. "The key to crafting a good villain is all how 3-dimensional he/she is–the villain isn’t simply bad to be bad. He’s bad for a reason, and readers need to understand what that reason is."
Libba Bray talks about avoiding the typical stock character everyone's seen a million times. "Question assumptions, stereotypes and stock characters. Round characters aren’t black and white. Villains don’t think of themselves as villains. They aren’t all good or all bad."
Know Your Characters Inside and Out
Lucia Zimmitti says, "If your readers don't care about your characters, you're sunk. Readers don't necessarily have to like all of your characters, but they have to care about what happens to your main character, or there's no reason for them to keep reading." And it's the truth. It doesn't matter how awesome your plot is, if the reader doesn't care about your character the book won't be memorable. That's why it's important to work on the backstory of your characters and know as much as possible about them. There are character charts all over the Internet but Lucia has some interesting exercises to try once you're tired of the charts.
Kristina, Miss Author in Action
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
While reading the February 2012 VOYA, I noticed something in the reviews of realistic fiction: Five of them featured teens in mental hospitals.
I read one prior to seeing this month's VOYA:
TRY NOT TO BREATHE is a lovely YA of friends, family, health, truth, and healing. The main character is already released from the mental hospital when the novel begins, but he has a connection to two friends he made there and flashbacks to his institutionalization.
The other four VOYA reviewed novels contain characters visiting their friends in mental hospitals, girls recovering from OCD, etc. Different approaches with a similar theme.
As a teen, I loved GO ASK ALICE and other books that explored mental health issues, especially since I liked to diagnose myself with hypochondria, OCD, and whatever else was in the news. I'm sure teens today think about the same things.
But do we need five new titles with this theme? Maybe we do. Or is the mental hospital setting just another avenue for the dark, realistic contemporary YA novel that sells today? Is it a "trend," or is the market just ready for these novels to simultaneously hit the shelves? Is this simply the progression from all of the books with MCs seeing shrinks a couple years ago?
Some other patterns I noticed in VOYA were:
--teens getting ready to graduate from HS who have plans for their studies/futures (often involving the arts), but a death/break-up/parental decision throws them off course and they don't know what to do with their lives.
--not much realistic historical fiction at all (there is more in the fantasy/sci-fi/horror section)
What patterns are you noticing on the shelves? And do you find the themes "worthy?"
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Tip of the Day: just wishing a very Happy Birthday to my husband today!
Voice is everything in your writing. It helps brand you as an author and helps your books come to life.
What would it be like if all of Sarah Dessen's books were written in Meg Cabot's voice?
They both use humor and focus on romance. But they have a very different voice. Cabot loves the funny one-liners and fast paced books, whereas Dessen focuses on secondary characters with quirky personalities to deliver her humor and her books usually move at a much slower pace so you get to enjoy the depth of the characters and marvel at her amazing writing ability even more.
If these authors stood on a stage and read their works to a backward facing audience--much like the contestants on The Voice--you’d be able to spot the differences in their books immediately. Yes, they are both awesome storytellers. But both have their own unique literary voice that is easy to tell from the moment you crack open the book and read page one.
And even though I love them both, I know several people that are Sarah Dessen fans that can't stand to read a Meg Cabot book (shock and horror, I know!).
So if someone doesn't get your voice, don’t get upset. Just like with writers, there are also a lot of singers on The Voice that half of the judges don't get. While the other half think they are brilliant.
But if you aren't unique and stay true to your own voice, then chances are pretty good you won't get noticed at all.
And who doesn't want at least one person to turn around in a chair that says "I Want You" on it?
--Emily, Miss Querylicious
Monday, February 6, 2012
There are so many dystopians on the market these days, the word is losing its meaning. Check out this Goodreads list named Dystopia! It's kind enough to provide a definition: "no singular catastrophe may have occurred but things have somehow still slipped into a horrid state of paranoia and oppression."
Friday, February 3, 2012
Today I'm going to touch on content edits. A book that ignores this step is probably doomed to failure.
First you should tackle editing content. This is where my friend Angela Carlie comes into play (as I referenced in my last blog post). Yes, she tells me if my commas are in the wrong place or if I misuse a semicolon, but the bulk of what she does is examine my style choices and plot.
Where could that tic have gone wrong? If Edward was always walking into walls or Jacob stubbed his toe every time he turned into a wolf. Then it becomes an author obsession with clumsiness and not a character trait that makes Bella special. Just imagine how silly it would have been for both Bella & Edward to be in a cast at prom!
I know, I know, you think that's so obvious and no writer would ever do that. THEY DO. It happens. Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes it's subtle. That's why you need fresh eyes to read your book.
Okay, let's jump to plot. In Chapter Two the author introduces a character named Jimmy Joe. He interacts with the main character, indicates he has a piece to the mystery she's trying to solve ... then she solves the mystery on her own and Jimmy Joe never makes another appearance.
What else goes into content editing? Sentence structure (make sure it's varied and interesting), chapter-to-chapter flow (end with a cliffhanger, start with a bang), continuity (make sure the facts in a sequel agree with the facts from the previous novel), word repetition, etc. I could go on for ages - but there are books dealing with this topic. Read them. (Manuscript Makeover by Lyon; Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King; The First Five Pages by Lukeman to name a few.)
Bottom line: Don't stress about punctuation until you've done a full and complete content edit of your book. Why? Trust me, when you revise those big issues, you'll flub up your punctuation again. You'll type 'first' instead of 'fist' and your 90-year-old grandpa will find it when he reads it (yes, that happened to me). Deal with the content - then deal with copy edits.
Go forth and revise! (Then do it again and again and again!)
Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber