Friday, May 31, 2013

Spirit’s One Monthaversary!

So Spirit has been live for one whole month now. It’s still strange to me to have this series finished. I’m happy to say the characters haven’t left me though. I still see their faces in my mind and hear their voices whispering to me.

The reason why that is so amazing is that it means there’s a possibility to future stories. I’ve talked about a spin off series in the future featuring Shay in her new life but I think it might be possible to have some other stories come out in the future. I like the idea of possibly writing some short stories in that world. Possibly written from Steven or Jodi’s point of view.

Maybe I’ll be able to write some stories about their pasts, some small adventures they’ve lived through that you all missed? Or something in the college years (at least for Jodi and Steven, lol). I don’t want to make any promises or say anything too terribly specific, but I do think it’s a strong possibility.

I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to start writing the first book in the spin off series, but some fun short stories might get my gears moving! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Genres and Where Should Your Book Live?

I thought I’d talk a little about genres. They can be so confusing, yeah? Yeah.

One of the biggest things writers have to know when they are submitting their work to agents and publishers is what genre their book is. It seems like this should be pretty obvious to most people, I mean, you wrote your book, you should know this, right? Eh, maybe.

Here’s how it can get confusing.

One big example is Dystopian vs. Post-Apocalyptic. A lot of the time these two terms are thrown around as interchangeable and they really are not.

Dystopian, as you can imagine, comes from the concept of Utopian. The big thing about Dystopian books is that the characters in the book don’t actually realize they are living in a Dystopian society, they’re supposed to believe they’re in a Utopian society and then come to realize, as the story goes, that things aren’t so awesome.

The Hunger Games is a Dystopian story. The farther away you live from the Capital, the more obvious your life isn’t awesome, but supposedly life is better than it was before.

Post-apocalyptic means the world has ended and you know, and the characters know, life is officially crap and you’re just trying to survive until you can make things better. There is no fooling anyone when it comes to Post-apocalyptic like there is in Dystopian.

I recently read The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. That is Post-apocalyptic. The aliens have invaded and they are systematically wiping out the human population (that is not a spoiler by the way; you know that by page one). You’re running around, just trying to survive and find other survivors and not get vaporized by the creepy alien dudes. No fooling anyone there.

Another confusion set of genres is Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy.

I write in Urban Fantasy, almost exclusively. Urban Fantasy (UF) is set in a real world, modern city setting. Paranormal Romance (PR) can be set in the exact same space. UF has magic. So does PR. What’s the big difference? Whether or not the story hinges on the romantic plot of two characters.

In PR the whole story, no matter what is going on, depends on the developing romantic relationship in the story. In UF there can be a romantic subplot going through the story, but the main conflict of the story does not depend on the romantic subplot. See why my Elemental series wasn’t a Paranormal Romance? In the beginning Shay and Jensen are coming together and apart all the damn time but the big conflict had nothing to do with them hooking up. The big conflict was Shay and her friends rescuing someone before the big bad villain killed them.

So if you’re trying to decide what genre your book is, take a moment and think, “Where would a bookstore shelve my book?” Then decide what the subgenre is. And don’t think your book doesn’t fit into a specific genre. I often hear writers say, “Well, my book could be this or that or A or B…” No. It fits in one place and then you can say what its subgenre is.

For example, a Paranormal Romance is first a Fantasy because it has fantastical elements, like magic. So your book, The Magical Ride of the Phoenix is Fantasy: Paranormal Romance. And of course the age group is important.

So, speaking of Age Groups! There’s a lot of hoopla going around the internets lately about a newly emerging age group: New Adult. A lot of people are against letting this become a thing. Personally, I am not. I think there is a strong market for New Adult, just not a lot of people know about it yet.

The basic age groups go like this: Picture Books, Chapter Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult.  

Picture books are obviously for kids who can’t read yet. Then Chapter Books are for kids who can read up until about age 10 or so (give or take depending on the kid). Then Middle Grade is for kids ages 10-12 and then Young Adult is intended for Teens, so 13-18. Obviously we all accept that when someone is 18-years-old they are officially an adult, right? So anything that has characters older than 18 means that book is an Adult book. Sure, sure, but do you remember being 18 or 19 years old? Are you in your late 20’s now? How about 30’s or 40’s? Have your experiences with life drastically changed over the years?

Would you say your life from ages 18-21 were ANYTHING like your life from age 28-35? Probably not, right? I started college when I was 17 years old and graduated at 21 years old. I was engaged to be married at 22 ½ and married at 24. Not a huge length of time between 17 and 24, right? But you can just imagine how different my life was while in college than what is was like by the time I was engaged and planning a wedding.

So I think there is a place in the book world for “New Adult.” People are making jokes that if we allow New Adult that soon we’ll have Middle Aged and Senior Citizen, blah blah blah. I get that argument, but I think it’s farfetched personally, but you could disagree.

But back to classifying your work. So, when I was deciding what Earth: Book One in the Elemental Series was it came down to this: Young Adult Urban Fantasy.

So do your research and don’t make it so hard on yourself. Your book has a home somewhere, not somewheres.

Monday, May 27, 2013

People forget what today is really about. - Memorial Day

Of course it is a wonderful day to hug a veteran, shake their hand and thank them for their service, but Memorial Day isn’t for the veterans, it’s for the fallen.

People get caught up in the parties, bbqs and parades, not remembering that people died in service to their country in order for us to have these celebrations. A lot of people just remember that they get today off of work, but don’t really think about why.

Carl "Booty" Southard
I remember what today is about because my mother served in the Navy, so did her brother and they are both home and safe. I remember what today is because my husband served in the Marines, and he is home and safe. His brother served in the Army, and his father the Navy, and his uncles served in the Marines, so many lives and all of them home and safe. I remember what today means because so many of our friends have served in all branches of the military, but most in the Marines, Army and Air Force.

Sadly, four years ago we lost one of my husband’s uncles to pancreatic cancer. During his time in the Marines he was sent to Vietnam, where he was exposed to Agent Orange. Because of that, so many decades later, he lost his life. Carl “Booty” Southard was a good man and a proud Marine, and he is not forgotten.

Years ago I stood at the tomb of the Unknown Solider and watched military personnel honor the fallen and the lost. It is that memory that I hold with me every Memorial Day.

Tomb of the Unknown Solider, Paris France

So no, today is not for veterans, but it is still a good day to hug one, because we are grateful that we can hug them.

Friday, May 24, 2013

What I’ve been up to May 24, 2013 edition

My my my, I have been a bad blogger. It has nearly been a whole month since I last posted anything – right before Spirit went live. I’m going to try to make up for that in the coming weeks.

So what have I been doing? Surprisingly enough, I’ve been writing. I know, right?! Crazy!

I’ve shared with you all in the past that I already started on the next few projects that I was planning after the conclusion of the Elemental Series. The first book in a new Urban Fantasy series (Adult this time around, not Young Adult), was finished in early February and I’ve been submitting to agents. I’m super superstitious so I’m not going to talk about that anymore, but I did start on the sequel to that book and finished it on Tuesday.

I’m not wholly happy with it and I know it needs work, but that’s what the editing stage is for. Anyone who has asked me how to get through writing a whole book has heard me say, “Just write the damn thing. No matter how crappy it is, just get the first draft done.” Because you can’t fix what hasn’t been written. So I’m okay with not being wholly happy with it. I will fix it in editing and after my betas rip it apart.

But before I wrote that sequel I wrote a whole different book, a post-apocalyptic book. This was totally outside my wheelhouse, but I wanted to see if I could do it. Again, not wholly happy with it. And really, I thought it was just going to sit in my hard drive and never see the light of day, but I’ve been thinking about it lately and I might print it off and take my red pen to it.

The Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic market is pretty well saturated right now and most agents are feeling a little overwhelmed with this genre, so I think, if I can make it shiny and awesome, I might self-publish this one. So you might see something new from me sooner rather than later. I am debating putting it out as a whole novel or serializing it (offering it in episodes). We’ll see how I feel about it after I edit it and give it to some betas and get some feedback on it. This one is New Adult (the main characters are 18-20) and focuses on a romantic relationship. So again, slightly different than what I’ve written before. If I jive on it and decide it is worth putting out there, it would be a trilogy.

And between that novel and the one I finished on Tuesday, I wrote a novella. So since January 1st, I’ve written a whopping total of 247,660 words. Yep, almost a quarter million words. Needless to say, I’m feeling a wee bit burnt out. I have officially given myself permission to take a little time off between projects to recharge my batteries.

At the first of the year I made a few writing resolutions. This was the list:
3-4 novels
3 novellas
1 short story

So I’ve completed 3 novels, 1 novella and 0 short stories and it’s only May. That seems pretty incredible to me. But I might’ve set the bar too high, or tried too hard to reach it too fast. I need a break.

It’s incredibly difficult for me to go any length of time and not write. I feel lost and like I’m wandering in fog. But I need to take some time off, if I don’t my writing will suffer for it. I wish my hubs and I could go somewhere for a real vacation because that would really help, but it’s not in the cards right now. Luckily it’s sunny and warm in my part of the state so I’ll read and relax and drink in the sun and when my head is in the right space, I’ll start editing some of this finished work. I really hope to have news of new work for you guys to read soon.