Monday, May 31, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Today we are celebrating with Eric Luper on his upcoming release of Seth Baumbartner's Love Manifesto. For our readers, here'’s the flap copy:
His girlfriend dumped him (at Applebee's), he spied his father on a date with a woman who is not his mother (also at Applebee's!), and he lost his fourth job of the year. It's like every relationship he cares about is imploding, and he can't figure out what's going on.
To find answers, Seth decides to start an anonymous podcast called The Love Manifesto, exploring "what love is, why love is, and why we're stupid enough to keep going back for more." Things start looking up when Seth gets a job at a golf club with his hilarious and smut-minded best friend, Dimitri, and Dimitri's sister, Audrey. With their help, Seth tracks down his father's mystery date, hits the most infamous bogey in the history of golf, and discovers that sometimes love means eating the worst chicken-salad sandwich you can ever imagine.
As far as making the decision to write for boys, I think it is second nature for a male to write a male protagonist. So, I suppose it just happened that way. However, I'm giving some thought to writing a novel with a female protagonist soon. Stay tuned...
To the people who claim they do not have the time or means to help, take it from a guy who writes a book each year, has two small kids, another full-time job and a house to maintain: you have the time.
Wow, it’s so exciting to have our very first editor here with us at the Oasis. We want to know all about what you do. But first, please tell us a little about yourself.
Hi girls, and thanks for having me here at the Oasis. What a great resource for up-and-coming YA authors!
First and foremost, I'm an aspiring YA author just like the rest of you. I write contemporary romance and dark contemporary under the pseudonym Katie Ellyson. Several years ago, to appease my overactive internal editor and obsessive need to immerse myself in as many new stories as possible (my critique partners and I all belong to WIPaholics Anonymous), I started freelancing as a developmental editor. I took that job to the next level a few months ago when I signed on as the acquisitions editor for Crescent Moon Press, a boutique publisher of all things paranormal, fantastical, and futuristic in romantic fiction. We're in the process of revamping and rebuilding and I've gotta say, some of my recent acquisitions are quite exciting.
Paranormal is my favorite! Loved vampires, faeries and angels. What do you see around the corner in paranormal?
I honestly don't know what the next big thing will be. When it crosses my desk and my jaw drops, that's when I know I've found it!
I *can* tell you what I'd like to see more of. Though my press specializes strictly in adult fiction (and I'm looking for all subgenres!), YA is my passion. There have been some incredible paranormals that I've read recently that I wish I'd find more of in the slush. THE DARK DIVINE has to be my fav. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and THE VAMPIRE ACADEMY are also unique. What do these books have in common? They offer very different takes on the tired and overused myths we see so much in paranormals these days--especially in YA--or offer us new mythologies altogether. Also, well-developed futuristic/dystopian worlds like in HUNGER GAMES and THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH fascinate me and quite a few other industry-types I've talked to. It's an exciting time for YA authors !
What should newbie authors know about the acquisitions process?
Getting from query to submission to decision can take a long time, which is an awful thing to digest for writers. Let's face it--most of us refresh our email inboxes every 2.5 seconds when our books are on submission! Even when I'm uber excited about a book someone has pitched/queried, I may not have the chance to look at it, let alone read the whole thing and write a response, for a week. Sometimes longer.
All of us wanna be writers have “dream agents” in mind. What’s your idea of a “dream author”?
Because I've been on the writing side of the business longer than the editing side, I've got to say the whole "dream agent" thing is a bit of a myth. Your dream agent is whichever one adores you and your writing, and eagerly champions your book while it makes its rounds in the publishing industry. Those are dream agents. Look for them!
As an editor, my dream author is one who understands that every book has room for improvement and is open to suggestions and ideas that could make their book stronger. I personally love authors who like to brainstorm with me. It's so much easier to hop on the phone during the revision process to see where they're at and come up with a plan that satisfies both what they want and what I need. Saves time and builds a relationship between editor and author. We're here to make your book as awesome as it can be. Use us!
What are the top things an author can do to get your attention when submitting?
First and foremost, a killer pitch/hook/query. I want to be shown (<-- key word) what makes your story special and get a taste of the book's voice and tone in your query letter/pitch. Clinical dissertations explaining what themes your book explores need not apply.
Second, equally killer sample pages. An agent/editor looking to acquire your novel can make up their mind by the end of your first page. Less, if your manuscript isn't as clean as it should be. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you have an excellent first line and that your opening scene is enthralling--whether that be a voice I can't stop reading or intense action or a mood that sucks me right into the story. Lay it all out there in the first pages and I'll keep right on reading until the end.
What are the biggest things you see authors doing to shoot themselves in the foot?
Querying a book that isn't finished, not understanding that a query letter's sole purpose is to SELL your book and should therefore be riveting, submitting manuscripts that aren't clean enough to be making the rounds yet, and writing to a trend. I can always tell who's read what when I go through slush. Don't write what you just read.
Also, giving up before they've put in the time. Not many authors are lucky enough to sell their first novel within their first 20 queries. I've heard of countless big name authors who first sold the eighth + book they'd written. That's not time wasted--it's an opportunity to really get to know the market and to hone your craft. Keep in mind that your debut novel will be much more attractive if the publisher knows exactly where it will be shelved, who the target audience is, and how they'll market it. All with a killer hook.
We know you’re an aspiring author yourself. Can you give us a hint about what you’re working on?
Thank you for asking! Contemporary YA is my favorite thing to write, both sweet romances and darker stories. I have one of each out in the world.
IMPURE is a contemporary YA romance about a 17 yo girl whose entire life--hobbies, faith, future career, and even her future husband--has been decided by her powerful, ultra-conservative father. Everything changes when she meets a nobody boy whose unconditional love sparks an insatiable need to break free.
FLAWED is a dark contemporary YA about an abused 17 yo who is only alive because of a pact she and her older brother made--he'll protect her from their violent father if she swears never to leave him behind. When she tries to escape, she realizes he's far more unstable than their father ever was.
Both are with agents who are extremely interested, which is awesome!
From your perspective as both an editor and aspiring author, where do you think the market is going with regards to e-books?
As e-readers and cell phone apps get better (and cheaper), I think the e-book market is going to explode. Just wait until teens have immediate, kid-friendly access to books online and can take store them easily on their phones! The generation reading our books right now is so incredibly tech savvy. If they're our future, e-books are definitely the next big thing.
E-books have their benefits--immediate access, easy to acquire often with a single click that sure doesn't feel like you're spending money ("Honey, what's this $120 charge to Amazon? And this $80 one a week later?"), go everywhere I go (I have a netbook that's always with me for work, plus my nifty HD2 cell phone with its ginormous screen), and take up zero space in my tiny house. Can't beat that!
BONUS QUESTION: If you were stranded on a desert OASIS, which supernatural creature would you want with you?
Any supernatural guy with cool eyes and a great personality who can poof us both to and from said deserted oasis at our leisure! I'd take Cupid from Jessie's book in a pinch, though :-)
Aww. She's clever and sweet! Heather, THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your insights and advice with us. This information is truly invaluable. We can't wait to see what wonderful new fiction you're responsible for getting into our hands
And hey, Oasis Seekers, have you entered our contest to win a copy of Beth Fantaskey's Jekel Loves Hyde? The winner will be selected next week. We know you want to read this book.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
That's right, I'm hijacking Thankful Thursday and turning it into *drum roll please* TALKING WITH TEENS THURSDAY.
Oasis for YA is comprised of YA writers, and for the most part our visitors are too. And who are we writing for? Teens. Well, as my last week Wednesday's post says, I mentor a local teen writer, and I've found teen input and commentary to be invaluable while writing Foresight. So, I thought, every now and again, we could take issues of writing for teens to teens and get their feedback. Well worth a hijack, right?
For my first take-over, I posed two basic questions about the YA genre to some of Oasis's teen betas. The consensus on answers may surprise you, might make you rethink a WIP your working on...
1. What would you like to see MORE of in YA?
2. What would you like to see LESS of in YA?
The answers from two guys who chime in:
1. The one thing In would like to see more of is some new ideas. Not really themes, but plotlines and such. I can only read about so many bloodsuckers before I want to shove a stake through my own heart. Same with Werewolves. I haven't read that muny Angel/demon books but I'm sure if I looked I would find a lot. YA also needs more first person books, and those first person books need to be more realistic. Teens these days aren't goodie-goodie-two-shoes. Teens have more of a darker side to them than we'd like to admit. Give them a choice between their own life and somebody else's, and most of them will undoubtedly choose their own. Also, and I can't stess this enough, YA needs more bad-assery. Incorporate sarcasm, humor, and acts of violence. School fights is a good example. You could have a bully go up against the MC, and have the MC kick the shit out of him. That's a daydream that most teens love to share.
1) I would personally love to see more YA/adult crossover genres, just something a teenager can grow up with and each book matures as the reader matures. I'm experimenting with something like this myself. I would really love a book that starts out with a teenage character than grows into their twenties and really discoveries themselves, and the content in the book becomes slightly more adult oriented as well. I'm also looking for a "boy book" with a great, supernatural/paranormal twist.
2. What we need less of is third person. Don't just show teens the roller coaster, put them in it. Trust me, it's a lot more fun than just looking at it. Also, the redundant I-fell-in-love-with-a-vampire thing has got to go. That plotline has been pummeled into the ground with a jackhammer. And speaking of vampires, if you still want to do vampires, DO NOT MENTION DRACULA! Oh my god I feel like I'm getting bashed in the head with dracula! Vampires have been around far longer than Vlad Dracul. A better substitute is to make them an Immortal, and then find your own reasoning as to why they're immortal. One last note, keep the romance. Teens love sexual tension, it on our minds a lot, and you cannot sell a book without romance. Especially not in the YA section.
2) People might expect me to say less paranormal/supernatural YA books, but I'm not, lol. I personally write these types of books myself and, contrary to popular belief, some of these books have more to say than just your typical Twilight-esque books. I would like to see the trend lessen a bit, though. The whole I-love-him-but-he's-a-supernatural-creature thing is getting a little overdone, but it's a trend so people want to follow it. If I read a book like that something has to be original about it, because it's like watching a rerun in my head. Annoying.
And now for a few girls' comments on the same two questions:
1) I would love to see more action and romance.
1) My favorite genre is fantasy, but I often find that the genre forgets about character. There's no character development, and it's more often than not plot- not character-driven
1)I’d like to see more unique topics, perhaps an unusual setting or abnormal characters. Vampires and werewolves are getting old rather quickly.
2) I would definitely want to see less vampires and werewolves.
2) Cliches and perfect characters. cliches are boring and often predictable. perfect characters just grate your nerves. I find it interesting when a character SEEMS perfect, but isn't. Furthermore, it's annoying when near the end of the book, there are tons of twists and you suddenly find out that fifty things you thought throughout the whole book are wrong.
2) I’d like to see less of what I like to call “teeny bopper fluff”. Of course the typical boy meets girl story is cute but unless you introduce it in a very unique situation and have some captivating subplots it will feel as though you’re reading the same story over and over again.
And then some over all commentary from a couple of the girls:
I have a few comments of my own: In YA people want things that they can relate to in life and they can't relate to warewolves and vampires, people and young adults want something new and interesting not something that's already there and boring now.
Overall I’d like to see some new ideas and have someone break from the norm.
So, there you have it, something we as writers CAN be thankful for on this Thursday, the input of our target audience! IN summation, the teens polled say they'd like MORE romance, action, unique topics and characters, and character development. And, they'd like LESS vampires and werewolves, less cliche plotlines and character, less 'fluff'.Thank you to Sheri Larson, for wrangling her betas! Thanks to Austin Robhran, Kat Rought, and Riv Re for giving us an insight into the wants of our teen readers!
I've heard the expression Write What You Know more times than I can count. To an extent, I can understand the reasoning behind it - it's a good launching point for writing, it's an easier path to follow, and it may be more authentic than writing what you don't know.
But, if every author only wrote what they knew, there would be no science fiction, no urban fantasy, no Harry Potter or Twilight or Pet Sematary or Lord of the Rings! Because these plot lines are certainly nothing that the author knew.
I say Write What You Want to Know. Write about a subject you are passionate about, and willing to research extensively. Look at photographs and maps, search the Internet, talk to experts, and read every book you can get your hands on. With the current state of technology, you can pretty much find an expert on any topic, detailed specifics on a hobby or product, images of remote locations, and much much more. If you throw your heart and soul into learning about something, you WILL know it. And you will be able to write about it.
In both of my novels I did a vast amount of research - on Greek mythology, Maine, boating, wiccan rituals, and 1940s Central Park! Because believe me ... if I wrote what I knew, nobody would want to read it. My life is pretty boring and I'm the first to admit it.
Image Credit: SXC
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
A wonderful change of venue, especially for those of us who live in a four-season State. We need summer. And what better way to seek that Oasis than to enjoy some rock, pop, and alternative music.
"I GOT YOU" by TRAIN
Here's our picks for some summertime writing...and relaxation.
And for me, I'm the girl who loves "I GOT YOU" by TRAIN. This song makes me want to walk barefoot on the beach or twirl my toes in the grass. I can see myself lounging on the deck, watching the kids swim in the pool, and then wonder why I live in a cold-climate State. LOL. Really, I love it here.
Each time I hear it, I'm time-warped back to high school and how desperate we were to hit the beach. Yeah, I've been swimming in the Atlantic at around 45 degrees. Brrrrrrr.....but we were young.
Enjoy your long weekend Oasis Seekers.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
(Your guess is as good as mine as to which one is which.)
(From D.M.'s website and amazon.com)
The only thing standing in their way is a lonely 14-year-old, whether he’s ready or not...
Randy Meyer is the new kid in Satus Creek, a tiny farm town where nothing ever happens, and his days are filled with tedium. Then one summer afternoon, a meteor crashes nearby. It’s just the first in a series of events that will not only change his life, but threaten the entire planet. Soon after, vicious cows are on the rampage all over the country, and they’re not of this Earth!
Armed with a newly-discovered flying saucer he doesn’t know how to fly, and a misfit group of new friends he doesn’t entirely trust, Randy is forced to grow up fast if he’s going to make decisions that will not only help him fit-in with his new peers, but save the world from a fate worse than death!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
We'll share our joys, and we hope you'll share yours. Remember: ~Richard Wagner
for the sun streaming in,
for the husband's calm understanding,
for the teens,
their noisy life
their quiet, fierce affections,
for the friends, new and old,
their unbridled devotion,
here or gone,
whose love is eternal
as the sun streaming in
I'm thankful for my family who understands that sometimes the muse won't wait. I'm thankful for my husband who's love affair with anime and video games has given me some of my best ideas. And once again, I'm thankful for my agent, who I know is extremely busy and has other clients, but always makes me feel like I'm her only one. Also, for my best friends, who I met through my writing, without them I wouldn't be nearly as far in my writing as I am and I may have given up. Thank you all!
I'm thankful for continuing to come up with new ideas for future novels. It's reassuring to know that I have a pool to draw from in hopes of continued success!
There Are No Words (which I used on my blog on Tuesday) to express my gratitude to my husband for supporting my zany quest to publication. Don’t be fooled, though. It wasn’t all bliss and daffodils swinging from the vine.
I decided two years ago to devote myself to writing. The first year was rough--stated nicely. As always, my timing rocked. I started writing, joined a writers group, and took a few writing classes during the one year my four kids were in different schools. Yeah, stupid. I had one starting HS, one starting junior high, one in elementary, and the baby was in pre-school. I thought I would die. Writing took place at night which encroached on hubby time. My new career pursuit was not welcomed whole-heartedly. Everyone wanted me to succeed, as long as it didn't interfere with them.
But this past year has been a dream. My husband is ‘Da Man’—getting the kids up, making lunches, helping me with laundry and dishes. He believes in me far more than I believe in myself. When I thank him he says, “I’m investing in an awesome product. You’re going to do this. Want to make sure you remember me when you’re famous.”
Hah!! See why I’m thankful for him.
I am thankful for these amazing ladies with whom I have the privilege of sharing this blog.
I am thankful that my daughters made it *almost* all the way to school this morning without fighting.
I am thankful to not only be employed, but to have a job where my bosses understand and encourage me to do things with my children - like chaperone the pre-K4 field trip to the zoo on Wednesday.
And I am thankful for my amazing hubby, who loves his family with unwavering devotion and will go to whatever lengths it takes to make sure we are happy.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I've been at this writing game a while now. Big dose of honesty here when I say, I thought my pithy prose was the sh*t when I started writing. I was thoroughly in love with my own words. Then someone came along, seduced me away from the frothy drivel and with gentle guidance and firm coaching proved me wrong. That first editor taught me strong verbs, taught me to cut the passive writing, etc. His teaching chip away my "diamond in the rough" and created a publish-worthy gem.
I've learned so much from the past years of editors, critiques... My writing is so much stronger now for those early lessons. So on Writer Wednesday I'd like to take a few minutes an extol the virtues of mentoring.
Not can only can you warp young minds *cue wicked laugh*, but you can see them literally growing in their craft as their writing samples improve. The excitement in their eyes sparks brighter when a lesson catches, when they see the where's and how's to improve their work. Mentoring also helps reinforce the lessons you've learned, and between teacher and student, you may come upon new ideas for plots, new ways of dealing with Sheri's mentioned Writer's Block, new phrases that ring like beautiful music to your writer's ear.
The best part of mentoring the budding writer for me? Over the weekend, my young Padawan visited, and we were discussing first works versus currents, and he gave me a quiet look heavy with honesty and said, "First person, strong verbs, avoiding passive writing, letting the characters speak... You have changed me."
I didn't cry, but tears did sting and threaten.
If ever the opportunity avails itself to you, I say mentor. It's good for all involved. There are many opportunities to help the budding writers in your life. If you are not a YAlitchat member, you can start the process by clicking on our YAlitchat badge to the right, there you will find many opportunities to mentor and give feedback to other aspiring writers.
A.E. Rought's pick:
My song for this week is Hero, by Skillet. Echo and Chael are an eclectic musical pair, leaning toward a base of modern rock, with a hint of industrial and a dash of dance house. By quirk of birth, she's the only one capable of bringing balance to the chaos unleashed on the world. The end of the song fits Echo's plight throughout the series.
I'm gonna fight for what's right
Today I'm speaking my mind
And if it kills me tonight
I will be ready to die
Jessica Souders pick:
I'm pretty eclectic in my tastes, but I tend to gravitate toward the songs that make me cry. Just like my stories are designed to do that for my readers.
My song choice for this week is My Skin by Natalie Merchant
It represents the angst my MC, Bree, is in in the beginning of the sequel to THE EXILED, called THE DAMNED. She's lost someone important to her, just as she was learning how to deal with her new abilities. Now she's lost and she doesn't know where to go for help. She's angry with him for leaving, and sad because she thinks it's her fault.
Take a look at my body
Look at my hands
There's so much here
That I don't understand
Your face saving promises
Whispered like prayers
I don't need them
I don't need them
Jessie Harrell's pick:
My pick is Viva la Vida by Coldplay. I'm getting into my new paranormal and the main guy, Chase, is descended from a powerful monster but is living with a curse that leaves him somewhat helpless.
One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castle stands
Upon pillars of salt, pillars of sand
Nikki Katz's pick:
I went back to the songs I saved in my iTunes folder specifically for writing Shoreline. One of those songs was Untouched by The Veronicas. I love everything about this song - the words, the melody, and how much it relates to Nate and Maya not being able to stop thinking about each other from the moment they met!
I feel so untouched right now
Need you so much somehow
I can't forget you
Been going crazy from the moment I met you
Sheri Larsen's pick:
I have an eclectic taste in music, and as the coming weeks will show I tend to relish in it's harder side. Call me overactive. ??? These lyrics take an inside look into my main male character's head and heart. The girl whose life he saved becomes his forbidden, saving grace. 'She' is his Mercy.
'What I've Done' by Linkin Park.
...So, let Mercy come
And wash away...what I've done.
I'll face myself,
To cross out what I've become.
And let go of what I've done.
We of Oasis for YA ask that you please download music from artist approved websites.