Friday, July 29, 2011

Cutting out the Sex Scenes (or Y I write YA)

It's Friday (no, don't start singing that song or it'll be stuck in your head all day... too late)! That means it's time for the next YA Indie Carnival installment and today's subject is (drumroll, please!)...

Why I Write YA

I'll be honest, I didn't set out to write a young adult novel. When I first started writing Between, I'd just finished several of the books in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series (which is soooooooo not young adult). I was on fire for Scots and wanted one of my very own, so Aiden MacRae was born. *swoon*

The first draft of Between had lots and lots of yummy sex scenes in it. One early reader said, "Is this MacSteamy or what???" *grin* To be fair, they are all still there, they are just toned waaaaaaaay down from the original manuscript.

A series of things happened to make me revise the book for a young adult audience.

1) After researching the adult romance market, I realized that the book didn't fit the genre very well.
2) I received some comments from beta readers that the tone of the book felt more young adult.
3) I started reading YA and found that the freedom within the genre worked perfectly for the story I needed to tell.

So some harsh and painful editing later, Between was completely revised into a YA novel and I couldn't be more pleased with it. Believe me, all those yummy scenes are still alive in my head, but I don't regret making the switch to YA at all. In fact, the late-teen/college-age demographic is exactly where I wanted to be, I just didn't know it at the time. And I think I'll be hanging out with this group for quite a while.

*high fives all around*

Check out the other participants in the YA Indie Carnival!

Danny Snell's Refracted Light Reviews
Patti Larsen
Laura Elliott
Courtney Cole
Wren Emerson
Nichole A. Williams
Fisher Amelie
Amy Maurer Jones
Rachel Coles. Geek Mom. Book Reviewer
T. R. Graves
P.J. Hoover
Heather Cashman

Monday, July 25, 2011

What I Learned From a Werewolf

My hubby and I went to see the final Harry Potter film last night (it's so hard to accept that it's really over! *sniff*) and Remus Lupin had a line that stuck me in the heart. Looking out at the hordes of bad guys storming the school, he said (maybe not exactly, but close):

"It's the strength of your conviction that matters, not the number of your followers."

Or perhaps, the strength of your followers' conviction.

Earlier that day, a woman from church came up to me and said "I finished your book and I loved it!" Before I could even thank her, she demanded "Now I need that sequel! When is it coming out???"

For a moment, I was startled by the strength of her conviction (that is, until her words registered and I was overcome with ridiculous glee that she loved my book). The absolute determination in her voice made me WANT to finish the sequel, made me WANT to move mountains to satisfy her.

It's one thing to have hordes of followers who are waiting for your sequel, and I am sure that's great motivation. But to me, one reader who passionately loves the book is enough to light a fire in me just to keep her That Stinkin' Happy. And if she's happy, so am I.

Thanks, Remus, for your words of wisdom. Sorry J.K. had to off you in the last book. ;)

Friday, July 22, 2011

YA Indie Carnival: Why Indie?

Every Friday for the next several weeks, I'll be blogging along with my YA indie friends (links to their blogs are at the end of this post). This week's topic is: Why Indie?

Why indeed?

I can tell you that going the indie route is not for everyone. I wrote a guest post for on this very topic not too long ago: "Published! Does it matter how?".

For me, I tried the traditional route. Oh, how I tried. I faithfully read all the agent blogs and followed hundreds of them on Twitter, hanging on their every word in hopes of finding that Miraculous Bit of Advice that would turn all those rejections into The Call I'd Been Waiting For. After over a year of an emotional rollercoaster that ripped my heart out and left me gasping for breath, I decided to can the whole stupid thing. I told myself, what difference does it make if anyone reads Aiden and Lindsey's story? No one wants it, so it's probably crap anyway. They're right, I suck and should just give up.

So I tried writing something new, tried to move on and leave Between alone. Nothing would come. The words dried up on my tongue before I could transfer them to the screen. I couldn't fall in love again, not when my first love sat ignored, relegated to the proverbial nightstand.

I needed closure. That's why I went indie, in a nutshell.

I needed to finish what I'd started, even if no one else wanted it. I needed to hold that book in my hands, needed to clasp it to my chest and feel the waves of accomplishment break over me and wash away the angst, pain and suffering that had built up during The Year of Rejection. When that moment finally came, I thought I would split in two from the sheer exhilaration of crossing the finish line.

Not everyone finishes the race first, second or third. Or hell, even three thousandth. If you're not in the top three, it doesn't matter when you finish, it only matters that you do. And I did.

Now, to finish that sequel. *grin*

Check out the other participants in the YA Indie Carnival!

Danny Snell's Refracted Light Reviews
Patti Larsen
Laura Elliott
Courtney Cole
Wren Emerson
Nichole A. Williams
Fisher Amelie
Amy Maurer Jones
Rachel Coles. Geek Mom. Book Reviewer
T. R. Graves
P.J. Hoover

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Meg Cabot Book Signing!

I follow @megcabot on Twitter and yesterday, she posted that she was having a book signing in Seattle for her new release, Overbite (sequel to Insatiable). Woot! I was so there!

I'd only ever been to one signing before (Diana Gabaldon's for the release of An Echo In the Bone- and it was huuuuuuge- well, at least I thought so). Since I'm going to be having my own signing for Between in a month (8/17 at 7pm at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA), I wanted to pick up some tips on how this signing stuff is supposed to go down.

I don't think I'll be able to top Meg Cabot's performance, though. She was a riot! It really was a performance, and she played to the audience of mostly-late-teen-early-twenties-females beautifully. She told stories about her life prior to becoming famous, that she was a terrible student and went to art school (able to get in because her dad taught there), and then not being able to get a job as an illustrator when she graduated.

She was working as an administrative assistant for the college dorms (because she could type fast) when The Princess Diaries got picked up by Whitney Houston's production studio (even though no one wanted to publish the book at that time).

Meg has comedic timing and made all kinds of faces while she told her tales, which had the crowd roaring. But the thing that I enjoyed most was how she told all these women that she'd been rejected 1000 times and still kept writing because she loved to do it. She said that if there's something you really love, then you have to go after it, no matter what. A great message for me to hear (and for everyone else there) and hopefully one that resonates with you as well.

Thanks, Meg!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Fab Read For You!

I don't do very many book reviews on my blog because I only want to point out books that are fan-freakin-tastic. I usually write a short review on all the books I read (see my Goodreads profile if you're interested), but I save blog posts for those books I want to tell the world about. And here's one of them:

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready (5 out of 5 stars!)

Love ties them together. Death can't tear them apart.

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.

The author's voice is fantastic and had me wishing I were a tenth as good. *unworthy* I loved the way she moved Aura through the grief of Logan's death while building the relationship with Zachary. I could feel the push and pull of wanting to be with both of them, the longing and the loss, and yet the book doesn't come across as heavy.

I could tell this was a 5-star book very early on and was worried the author wouldn't be able to sustain the awesome tempo and character development she established from the get go. My worries were unnecessary, as the book was brilliant through and through. I found myself torn between wanting to devour the pages and wanting to savor them.

The ending is a total cliff-hanger, so it's no surprise that I ran out and bought Shift right away.

I'd recommend this book for older teens and adults who love YA. You won't be disappointed!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

YA Indie Carnival Kick-Off!

I saw there was a YA Indie Carnival starting and asked if I could join in. They said yes, so get ready to  binge on cotton candy and popcorn 'cuz we're going on a thrilling ride! Every Friday, we'll post about all things YA Indie for authors, readers and reviewers. This week's carnival topic is all about...


Okay, not me exactly... (ahem). We're introducing ourselves to give you a sense of what makes us tick and why we do the crazy things we do! So without further ado (just what is an 'ado' anyway?)...

My debut novel, Between, came out on June 1. It's a love story between a modern girl who dies in a car accident and the 18 century Scottish Highlander who comes to take her to heaven.

I fell in love with Scotland (and hunky guys in kilts) while reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series (which is not YA). Not being of Scottish descent myself, I hadn't given the wee country much thought before Outlander, but Scotland took up residence in my heart and has moved in for the long haul.

I wanted my own Highlander, so I created Aiden MacRae who (aside from Jamie Fraser) is the epitome of fine in my opinion. I love spending time with him while I write and hearing his accent in my head as my fingers click across the keys. If he could materialize in front of me, I'd be a happy girl (my hubby probably wouldn't like it much though- hehehehe). When I began writing, my voice came out YA (who knew?) so that's how I made the leap from Outlander to young adult. Between still has some steamy scenes (it's definitely for older teens) but YA is its home.

Check back every Friday to learn more about my publishing journey. Get to know the rest of the YA Indie group and leave a comment to say hi!

Dani Snell
Patti Larsen
Courtney Cole
Wren Emerson
Nicole Williams
Fisher Amelie
Michelle Leighton
Laura Elliott
Amy Maurer Jones
Rachel Coles
T.R. Graves
Allie Burke

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Moments that Matter (IRL vs. Fiction)

How often do you have meaningful conversations? Or do your exchanges sound more like this:

Friend: "Hey, how was your weekend?"
Me: "Good. The weather was beautiful."
Friend: "Yeah, nice to have some sun finally. We barbequed some dogs and hung out. Fireworks were great."
Me: "Yeah, traffic was lousy coming home, though."
Friend: "I know, that one intersection gets really gummed up."

Blah, blah, blah.

You'd never see an exchange like this in a book (and if you did, I'm sure you'd be skimming over it). Dialogue--and in fact, every scene--is supposed to move the book forward. Yet, real life is filled with epidsodes of banality, days on end that look just like the ones before, punctuated with moments that matter.

How often do we talk about what's really happening inside--our fears, our dreams, our secret shame--rather than just talking about the monotony of filling hours each day?

Books allow us--no, require us--to make every moment count. A word does not belong on the page if it doesn't contribute to the story. That's why books are such an escape from the tedium of life. Whether they are exciting, scary, tear-jerking or romantic, they are MORE. They are filled with moments that matter for the characters and maybe help fill the void inside us caused by the duldrums of everydayness.