Tuesday, April 23, 2013

To NA or not to NA, that is the question.

Hi. This is a rant. How are you?

So today Publishers' Marketplace said: Guess what? New Adult is a thing. A real thing.

Yes. Those of us who write it already knew this. The readers knew it. The money coming in for it says it does in fact have a place and a demand. You know who doesn't?

A whole lot of agents. Now, before I get massacred, there are plenty of agents and editors who do love it and want it - yay!! And not everyone has to like NA or want it and even believe it exists. But here's what is pissing me off.

The ones who don't think "it's a real thing" seem to be very vocal in saying horrible things about it. Wow, this piggybacks my last blog post about how our community should root for each other. Anyway, why are they doing this? And more importantly, if they don't read it and don't want it, why as they saying things about it that aren't true?

We are told as writers - know your genre, know what's out there, read, read, read! Well, maybe these people who are spewing idiocy everywhere should take a second to do the same.

Here's what NA is: Books with main protagonists between the ages of 18-25 and usually themes of transition between Young adult and Adult. Yep. That's it in most basic form. And it ranges from college stories and contemporary to historical to sci-fi to everything else.

Here's what people are saying it is: Kids in college (sometimes, not always), contemporary(um...not even close to all the time), and sex, sex, sex. (Wrong, wrong, wrong. I can think of two right off the top of my head that have no sex, or at least very little.) Here's the one I hate most - Easy money. Ha! Tried to write a book lately? There's no such thing as easy in this business.

I don't understand the fuss. When I was growing up there was no YA. You had kids and adults. I went to the basement of the library to check out my Nancy Drew books because they were in the same area as Dr. Seuss. Now we have a division. Picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult and you know what it does?


When I take my kids to the bookstore or library, they can go right to what they want. I, however, have to search or go in with a book rec already in my hand to find a book that fits the New Adult specs.

Now that's it's a real thing, I can walk in and go to the New Adult shelf and be well read in the field I write in. I saw an agent say it was porn. Based on what? Fifty Shades of Grey? Um, I read Erotica and no, NA is not porn or erotica. (But neither is 50SoG.)

Do the characters have sex? Sometimes.
Do they drink? Sometimes.
Do they cuss? Sometimes.
Could you ask these same questions and get the same answers about YA? Yep. Adult? Yep.

MG, YA, PB - all defined by age. Why is there such a fuss over making one more distinction that in the end will basically just make it easier for readers to find what they're looking for?Which means more sales. Which means more books. It's not rocket science, kids.

Not every agent takes historical or contemporary or sci-fi but never once have I heard them say on Twitter or social media hateful things about aliens or corsets or ....whatever a good example of contemporary is....so why this about NA?

Are people just that resistant to change? Well, guess what? I'm a NA writer. I know lots of NA writers. And they work hard on their craft. Hell, they're some of the best writers I know. Their stories have depth and world building. They have great characterizations and yes, sometimes very hot scenes. They bust their ass trying to make the best book they can because they are writers and that is their story to tell.

I may just be one little person and maybe my words won't matter, but you calling their hardwork "complete crap and fluff in a letterman's jacket" might. They might not write their story. And that might have been the next big thing you were looking for.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Room for Everyone

There's something going around. It's been happening everywhere for a long time. But now it's bleeding into my writing community and I'm fed up.

But let's go back.

I work with kids. Yes, dance, but also I volunteer other places too. But whether I'm teaching jazz squares, how to make friendship bracelets, or tutoring math there's something bigger I hope I'm passing on to the kids. Two things actually.

1. Lighting someone else's candle doesn't make yours dimmer. It just makes the room twice as bright.
2. You're not working to be better than someone else, you're working to be the best version of you.

The number one place you can see the opposite of both of those principles is Facebook. (Or possibly Washington, D.C.) On my FB wall at any given time there's someone's beliefs and thoughts. Now, don't misunderstand. I support free thought, your opinions, even if...no, especially if they disagree with mine. Maybe I can learn something, maybe I can see a different side. But what I cannot abide is complete stupidity, racism or prejudice. I can't stand it when someone feels to prove their point they need to make someone else looks wrong or stupid by belittling them. Or place blame where it doesn't belong. (I'm not just talking political things here, it's a wide net)

In the past, this has been contained mostly to FB. I click off there and on to my beloved Twitter. My writer family, my people, my soul mates. But lately, I've noticed a few things. 

Writers are posting their bad reviews and attacking the person leaving them.

Just no.

They make excuses for why that person is awful and how they could have left that review? One, this is beyond unprofessional and two, maybe they just didn't like your book. Obviously there are mean-spirited trolls who will leave a bad review just because, but if someone leaves an honest review and it's not favorable, try to remember - you signed up for this. Not everyone is going to like your book. Not everyone is going to like you. And yes, someone who maybe isn't as talented as you got a better deal because of timing, the stars aligning, or maybe the penguin told the agent to like them best.

I kind of understand. Writing is personal and when someone says something about your book baby you want to defend it but the bottom line - it's never okay to tear someone else down to negate their credibility.

But this next thing, I just can't understand.

Several up-and-coming writers on Twitter are bashing other up-and-comers, a kind of behind-the-scenes sabotage. I do not understand. Maybe it's because I would never dream in a million years of doing this. Maybe I just don't have that kind of energy. Maybe I'm more self-assured or have a better support system.

Whatever it is, it needs to stop. When you engage on Twitter, you will get support. People RT you and buy your book and do reviews for you. When you get pissed because they aren't all five star reviews or unfollow someone because they didn't say you were the best thing ever, you are the unprofessional one.

There is no reason that every single book that comes out this year can't be a best seller. If the story is there, people will buy it. So when you degrade someone who worked just as hard as you, it doesn't give you more sales in some weird competition you've made up in your mind, it actually guarantees you have one less - mine. Maybe my sale doesn't mean much to you. Maybe you only bash the other because you're intimidated by their work. Maybe it has nothing to do the other person and it's because you're just that insecure on the inside. (And horribly selfish to not see what you're doing to that other writer.)

But you're only hurting your sales, your brand and in the end, yourself.

Example: How many times have you liked a writer and their books then found out via social media they were awful in real life. Did you stop buying their books? Did you tell your friends not to buy them either? 

We have to stop bashing each other and dragging others down to climb up and over them to the top like some kind of crazy Yertle the Turtle. He ended up face down in the mud. (And was based on Hilter...so there's that.)

We should lift each other up. Support one another. Be happy for another person's success. We can all succeed here, there's room. I've found that everytime I help someone on their writing journey, it seems to forward my own. A lot of my friends and co-horts have agents, editors, book deals, and actual books. Do I sometimes feel like the last girl standing at prom? Heck yeah, I do. But I would never think to egg the prom queen. She'd be upset. I'd be the jerk. And both our fancy dresses would have been for nothing.

Plus we'd have sore feet from being at the dance all night and we probably had to wait for a table and only got two bites of food before the dance anyway and maybe she really hated being on the stage and then I made it worse and she didn't know until that minute that being prom queen even mattered...


Sorry. Where was I ?

Oh yeah. Love not hate.

My point is the things I tell my students apply to adults and writing and life. Someone else's success in no way makes you less successful. Supporting someone makes you someone people want on their team and they will be more willing to be on yours. Dragging down someone else to make yourself feel better is never okay. Ever. Ever ever.

Take all that energy you are burning bashing others and put it in your work. You'll have your own success to celebrate before you know it.
                                                                   So remember---

                                                       Be like this for each other's success:

                                                                          Not this:

Then we can all be like this: 

Friday, April 12, 2013

This is me.

Hello there. I've been around awhile, but lately I've met a bunch of new people. And they've been asking questions. I know. What kind of madness is this?

They want to know, what I do, where I'm from, what I write, my real hair color, favorite food, WHO I AM????? *deep breaths* So today I thought I'd do a post about all those things and answer all (not even close to all) of the questions. Actually just ones about my books and stuff. So not really all. Okay, and some others. Here you go. 

About me:
I am in fact the Ambassador of Awesome.
Unless you ask my 10YO daughter, then I am the Queen of Awesomesauce. Since the latter sounds suspect, let's go with the first. My 13YO daughter agrees with the young one.
Just in case you think my ego is getting too big, my 11YO son, the middle child God love him, thinks I'm the best mom ever of all time in the entire universe except when he's mad at me 'for making bad decisions like that he should help with the dishes'. So there's that.

What I do:
I volunteer. I'm a recycling, reusing, repurposing hippie. Girl Scout leader. Baker. Singer. Actress. Dancer. (I'm classically trained. Ballet, tap, jazz, musical theater, contemporary, hip hop, lyrical, partnering, ballroom(smooth and latin) and a few other forms that are on a need to know - you don't need to know. And obviously, I'm also classically trained in the Men in Black dance, every Janet Jackson video ever, Thriller and the Napoleon Dynamite dance. But that's a given, right?)

Oh, and I write books.

I write New Adult and Adult. I have everything from steam up your glasses to a mystery thriller to historical but they all have romance because I love kisses and really interesting characters struggling through relationships. I write about places I adore. My books are filled with pop culture references that not every one gets and to date, I have started eleventy billion manuscripts and although I've been told over and over, great voice, great writing, no market, I still have hope.

I also have a pen name. Figure out who it is and win...another Twitter account to follow! *confetti* 

I have two books I'm actively pursuing rep on currently.

SUGAR-COATED DECEIT - A steamy thriller about a cupcake baker. Stella was kidnapped but escaped. Unfortunately, so did her kidnapper. Now she spends everyday trying to deal with issues left over from the ordeal and not trusting people. When she meets two men and agrees to a date with each of them, her stalker reappears. She must decide which one to trust and which one to fear. Or if she should fear someone else all together.

THE KEYS ALWAYS IN MY HEART - A historical romance that takes place in the Florida Keys in 1935. Suz is just about turn eighteen and can't wait to leave the little strips land she's forced to call home. Counting the days until she's old enough to go out on her own, she spends her time helping at the Veterans' camp where her dad supervises the building of the highway, her easy access to the mainland and freedom. But all her best laid plans fall apart when she meets a boy of her dreams and a man named Hemingway. Torn between her heart and her lust for life, Suz faces choices that will affect her entire future. But just as she makes a decision and puts her plans in motion, the biggest hurricane to ever make landfall in the US hits the Keys head on. All the problems that felt so big only a day before now fall short to making sure she survives. Can Suz live through the storm and follow her heart or will it be too late to get what she now knows she wants?

I have an 'new shiny' folder a mile deep and I have three other stories finished but not polished and a few others started. (I write a lot. And quickly. I like new shiny. I mean, who doesn't?) 

Bonus section:
Real hair color:
It was coal black as a baby, then turned strawberry blonde with more red than blonde, then blonde, then dark blonde. When I was about 25 I started getting my grandma's white streak so I'm not sure what color it really is now because I've been deciding the color since then. I'm currently fiery red and I like it because I do crazy stuff and people look at me and say, "Oh, redhead." and move on. I like it.

Favorite food:
Ice cream. I would eat it every meal. Every day. All the time. I don't obviously, but I would if I could. Top of the list is mint chocolate chip from Baskin-Robbins. Oh, so good. It makes me do this.

One more thing you need to know, like Cedric Diggory, I'm a fierce, fierce friend. And sometimes, like Cedric after Voldemort stepped on his face, I sparkle. 

You can find me leading #WriteClub sprints from @frinightwrites along with the rest of the crew.
I'm a blogger of The @Writerdiaries. We right about all stuff writing related.

Find me on Twitter @AngiNicole722.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The one you can't let go.

Everyone has that one story you can't let go. The one you don't want to get away. The one that means the most to you. Your book baby.

This special darling stays with you long after the last word is written. Maybe it's the story that made you think you could be a writer. Maybe it's the story you really want to tell. Maybe it's the one that rings most true but you're too scared to say the words in real life, so you let your characters say it for you.

The problem with most book babies is that while it's a great story, it's not always marketable. It's personal, for any number of reasons, and that makes it harder to mold into a sell-able shape.

I know lots of writers. The one in the drawer is usually their book baby. And that totally sucks. Mine won't go in the drawer. I stick it in there and before long those characters are whispering to me in the dark, begging for one more chance. This time it will be different. This time it will work. This time we won't let you down. But the rejection is always the same.

We love the premise.
We love your voice.
We can't sell this damn book.

So Monday I had the super long drive back from Spring Break. The kids were reading, the music pumped, the breeze blew in the windows whipping my hair around making me feel alive. The music happened to be the playlist for my book baby. Every song that played made me miss those characters, expand on their story, think of funny things they would say if this happened. Or this. Or that.

And that's when it hit me. I was doing it wrong.

Josey was never meant to be a one book character. I already have two written and more planned, but what if I just reversed their order? It would start as New Adult and we follow her and grow with her. By the time it got to the book with the not super happy ending(the unsalable one), people would care enough to see if she could find her happiness. They would be invested in the characters and the series. She would have legs to walk outside her book and into many more novels and around in other people's worlds, not just mine. And that's where I want her to be. Out there. Not just in here.

So I'm going to do something radical. Something I haven't seen before and I may fail, but is that really any different than my book baby sitting in the drawer? No. I think not.I'm going to try a series that starts as New Adult and as we follow Josey and grow with her, the series will change to Adult. *bites nails*

So wish me luck as I try this crazy endeavor. It will be a while as I have an R&R and my alter ego has a book coming out soon. But after that, I'm going to try this. There is a system we are taught to follow, but I've never been one much for rules. Who knows? Maybe I'll write a few new ones of my own.

                                              Obligatory Somerhalder gif. You're welcome.