The first step to writing Young Adult novels is to figure out the story you want to tell. The next is choosing the best genre your story falls into. This is important as it will help you promote your novel when it comes time to write that dreaded query letter. Of course, sometimes it’s difficult to know what genre you are writing in, which is why, beginning June 3, I am going to dive into the following list and give examples of the types of books you’ll find in each one. I hope to see you here. Keep in mind this list only touches the surface as there are sub and sub-sub genres, but these are the standard YA categories. At the end, I will also reveal the results of a YA questionnaire I am sending out to a wide range of kids between the ages of 13 and 18. I’m really looking forward to their answers.
When I first started writing and sending my attempts out to beta partners and critique sites, it wasn’t unusual to get a wide range of comments from “This sucks.” to “This is the best thing I’ve ever read!” Just goes to show how different people view what you write, and it’s pointless to try to please all of them. One thing that was consistent were the following comments:
1. Don’t be so descriptive and technical.
A big comment I got a lot was “I love your descriptions, but they go on too long and I started skimming.”
Skimming? Oh no. No skimming in my books. It’s been a hard lesson for me to learn because I am such a description hound, but there is a happy medium. There is no need to take your reader on a tour of the room unless each of the things you point out are relevant to the story in some way. For example:
“Above the cherry-wood mantel hung a gilded mirror. Upon closer inspection of the frame, I noticed the handiwork revealed cherubs chasing rabbits through vines of ivy. Each cherub possessed a unique expression and varying lengths of hair, as well as age. The intricate work down to their fingernails, was exquisite.”
Now unless my main character is an art dealer and is looking for such a piece, or those cherubs are about to come to life, this information is way too much. For most, knowing there is a gilded mirror over the mantel is enough information.
2. Voice change.
Writing a character’s voice and keeping it consistent is difficult. With me, my ‘adult’ voice creeps in now and then and my teens sound older than they really are. Thank goodness I have a couple of good beta readers that are excellent at finding my ‘voice’ mistakes and offering suggestions on how to fix them. I am also thankful for my teen son who has no problem telling me he wouldn’t say something a certain way.
3. Disembodied body parts and having eyes do strange things
All of us writers do it, and most of the time we don’t see it when we edit. That’s why we have beta readers and critique partners. How many times have you written something like, “His hand reached for his gun.” Is his hand not connected to his body? Did it wander off on its own? Yep, funny stuff, but not as funny as what we get our eyes to do.
We’ve all seen the phrases:
Their eyes met across the room.
Her eyes devoured him. (wow, those are some big hungry, man-eating eyes)
His eyes fell to the floor. (splat)
Her eyes were glued to the book. (ouch)
I used to roll my eyes and grimace whenever I saw comments like this because everyone knows what the author meant. Still, eyes are not disembodied body parts that can wander around. I’ve learned to rev up the heat or the tension by showing and involving the reader in my scene.
Instead of “Her eyes devoured him.” try something like:
“Her sultry body and come-hither stare consumed him, burning him in a way he hadn’t felt since Nina died.”
Yeah, it’s a bit longer, but the picture is much clearer, don’t you think?
What are some mistakes you’ve learned as a writer you’d like to share?
Today, I have a very interesting guest with me. It wasn’t easy getting this interview as he really doesn’t like to draw attention to himself (not). Normally, I interview my victims guests in a public arena, but this particular interviewee asked I come to his place. Want to know where that is?
Would you believe me if I told you a crypt?
Yep, I arrived a bit ago in the still blackness of night and was greeted outside the mausoleum by two goblin-like creatures. They escorted me inside and down the grey steps to a room that could have come right out of an Austin Powers movie. In the center of the room, perched on a Texas-sized blood-red beanbag chair, sits my host: a seven-foot, creature with green ears, and horns that stick out of his over-sized, orange-brown head. He motions to me with his funky claw-hand thingy to take a seat on a large couch. I do as he says because quite frankly, the dude is scary, even if he is wearing nothing more than a red and blue striped bathrobe that barely covers his behind.
I reach into my bag and pull out my pad and pen when, to my surprise, two teens stroll into the room. I know right away who they are: Mac and Winn. Perfect. All my pre-thought interview questions just got tossed out the window…well, not really since there isn’t a window, but if there was…
Oh, never mind. I clear my throat. “Emm, thank you for granting me the opportunity to meet with you Suze.”
Winn and Mac sit next to me on the couch, one on each side. My insides rattle like a leaf on a tree but I keep my cool. Suze simply nods and puts on a baseball cap backwards.
I can’t help but smile. He looks ridiculous but I’m not going to say anything.
“So Suze, what’s your 411? What’s your ish with Winn?” I glance at the handsome guy to my right. If I was his age, I’d be interested. Just saying.
Suze makes some sort of noise that reminds me of a horse snort. It’s enough to get my attention. “411?” he says. “Whaszat?” He scratches his head. “Is that the number you call for emergencies? Does that mean you’re going to call me for emergencies? Me? Ooh!” His eyes go wide. “Can I be a paramedic and save people?”
“Um,” I chuckle and shake my head. “I don’t think so.”
“So why’d you ask if I wanted to be one?”
“I didn’t ask. I wanted to know what your relationship is with Winn. I mean, are you guys best buds? Have you been friends long?”
“Buds? Well … if I had to pick any flower, I’d call him a rose because a rose of any other name would smell as sweet.”
I’m pretty sure I have a blank stare on my face. Just keep going, Jenny.
“Let’s try a different question. What’ is like being a demon?”
“Demon! Who’s a demon? You?”
I laugh and point to myself. “Me? Oh, no, I’m not a demon, but I have it on good authority you are. Emi said so.”
“Yeah. So, what kind of demon are you?”
“Me? I’m Abbaddon.”
“Ah, a destroyer. Sweet.” My stomach just tied itself into a knot. “Don’t get to see many of you around these parts.”
He shifts positions. “Parts is parts.”
I look away while he adjusts his robe. “Yes, well, let’s talk about something else shall we. What do you like to eat? Being a demon you must like meat. Do you care for fish? Do you like your food raw and wriggly like Gollum. Maybe with lots of garlic?
“Gollum? Oh, I don’t know about that. He’s scary. Ewww.” Suze shivers. I wonder if Gollum would be impressed. “Vampires don’t like garlic, did you know that?” Suze says. “They are the hardest to eat and give me heartburn.” He rubs his chest up the middle.
Ah yes. Vampires. I was wondering when we’d get to that. It’s always about the vampires. Time to change tactics again. “So Suze, tell me about your pad, your crib, your crypt.”
A smile gleams across his basketball head. “It’s soft. And I can … I can …” He motions me forward and leans in. “I can change up my whole crib with a snap of my finger. I have fun gettin’ it ready for Mac. She never knows what to expect. Like … what would you like it to be like? I can make it like that! But none of that modern art stuff.”
“Hmm, how about a cabin in the woods.”
Snap and voila folks. I’ll be doggone if I’m not in a freaking cabin in the woods. Not too bad. Not to bad at all. I sit back and get a little more comfy.
“What’s your favorite article of *clears throat* clothing?”
Suze taps his temple. The finger moves to his nose. To his chin and to his cheek. “My Superman Underoos. Mac said they aren’t in fashion, but they’re comfy, so I like ‘em.”
TMI, Suze. TMI. Change direction again. I look to my left at Mac who’s eyeing me with great interest. I don’t like it. “So, Suze, you’re Mac’s protector. How’d that happen?”
“I dunno exactly. Someone told me I was, and then Winn told me I was, and then I just was.”
“Hmm, interesting. How about you give my readers the scoop about what you and all your fantasy friends are all about.”
“Scoop? I like chocolate. And vanilla. And Mint. And chocolate. Did I say chocolate? Yeah, chocolate and mint. Mac likes chocolate too. Did you know Winn gave her a chocolate diamond and she didn’t even eat it?”
“Suze, can you try to focus for a minute, please? Who and what are all of you and why is Mac so important to you?”
He frowns and crosses his arms over his chest. “Mac’s important ‘cause she’s Mac, but I’m not supposed to say why ‘cause she doesn’t want everyone to know.”
“Okay. I can see that subject is off-limits. Who’s your girlfriend?”
“She’s a Dhamphyr. She’s like a vampire-human-combo person and she’s gorgeous. I really like her. Do you think she likes me?”
“I have no idea. I’ve never met her. Do you floss?”
“Yeah, you know, string between the teeth thing after you eat?” He looks confused. “Oh never mind. “What do you hate most about your ‘job’ as a guardian demon? Like most?”
“My job? Well, I get to read a lot. My favorite book is the thesaurus and did you know there’s like a different word for every word in the dictionary in there!”
“You don’t say.” I close my notepad as I can see this interview is going nowhere fast. As I put my pen and pad away, I ask, “Is there anything interesting about yourself you want to tell us before I let you get back to your protecting and guarding?
“He flashes a big smile. “I’m absorbing, charismatic, curious, delightful, magnetic, pleasing, striking, suspicious— you get me, right? I’m interesting!”
Yeah, I got you buddy. I stand and grab my things. “Thank you for taking time to talk to me, Suze. It’s been…different. Keep up the good work.” I stop Winn and Mac with my hand. “Please. No need to get up. I can see my way out.”
I exit the mausoleum with laughter at my heels. That’s okay. I just exposed Suze to the world. I wonder if he realizes the true scope of that. Maybe it’s best for me if he never does. He is, after all, an Abbaddon.
Demon crypts. Vampire lairs. Glowing angels. Sexy sirens. The stuff of fiction.
Or so Winn Thomas always thought.
Since being accepted into the fold of the supernatural, he knows better. None of what he imagined is true, but everything he feared is, and binding himself to his Changeling girlfriend until her nineteenth birthday will give him an education far beyond what he’d get at his human high school.
Luckily, Winn’s not giving up, he won’t back down, and he definitely isn’t going to run away with his tail between his legs. After all, only werewolves have tails. Right?
In this, the second of the 19th Year trilogy, Winn’s facing the challenge of one lifetime. If he doesn’t learn the truth about mythological creatures, his girlfriend Mac Thorne won’t either. That means, in six months, when she chooses her final form, she won’t know what to pick.
Winn, though, has his own ideas about Mac’s final selection—plans she knows nothing of.
Emi Gayle just wants to be young again. She lives vicariously through her youthful characters, while simultaneously acting as chief-Mom to her teenaged son and searching for a way to keep her two daughters from ever reaching the dreaded teen years.
Ironically, those years were some of Emi’s favorite times. She met the man of her dreams at 14, was engaged to him at 19, married him at 20 and she’s still in love with him to this day. She’ll never forget what it was like to fall in love at such a young age — emotions she wants everyone to feel.
Want to try to win a copy of After Dark and Day After? All you have to do is go here and enter. Good Luck!
Mother Nature is on a rampage, and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.
Last week, an EF-4 tornado ripped through Granbury, Texas. 6 people alone died in Granbury. Many, many more were injured. As many as 10 tornadoes may have touched down in a 24-hour period, one of them reported to be a mile wide. A mile wide. The concept of a tornado being a mile wide blows my mind.
I witnessed a tornado once when I lived in Kansas. I was 8 years old. We lived in a duplex – military housing. My backyard was a huge field maybe the length of 3 football fields. My elementary school stood like a goal post at the other end. I remember my mom shoving me and my brother into a concrete pantry off the kitchen when we first heard the ‘train’. There was a small slit of a window at the very top of the room. Against my mom’s tugging, pulling, anger, I managed to stand on the shelving and watch the little tornado smack into the elementary school, hurl crap in the air like it was nothing, and then turn towards us. I couldn’t move. This finger spun toward our home faster than anything I could even imagine…and then it jumped. Sucked right up in the sky. Touched down somewhere behind us, maybe a mile or more away. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget the color of the sky, the stillness, the eerie feeling on my body. I have since realized what I witnessed as a child was an EF-1. A baby tornado. I can’t imagine seeing something like the tornado that hit Granbury last week or Oklahoma yesterday.
50+ people are dead, 20 of them children from an EF-4 tornado that was estimated to be 2 1/2 miles wide at the base with winds of 200 mph. The death toll will probably rise. I can’t imagine being one of those parents waiting to hear if my child was one of those that lived or perished. As a parent, I can’t even comprehend losing one of my kids. I hope I never have to.
Such young, innocent lives snuffed from this world in the matter of seconds. Not from a madman. Not from a gun or a bomb, but from nature. I’m sure the visible pain, the devastation, cannot even begin to rival the pain those parents are feeling at losing their children. Yesterday morning, parents packed lunch boxes, hugged and kissed their children and sent them off to a place that is thought of safe. Dozens of parents will never see their children again, hear their laughter, see their smiles, have an argument over cleaning a bedroom, or battle with them to eat their peas.
I am reminded in times like these to stop taking my life so seriously. Hug my kids more. Call them on the phone and tell them how much I love them. The chance may never come again, we just never know.
One thing is certain: Mother Nature isn’t going anywhere. It’s that time of year, and she makes no differentiation between age, race, religion, color, rich or poor. We are all equal in her eyes. I live in a state where I have to keep a close eye on her between June 1 and November 31. Anticipation builds closer to hurricane season and Floridians let out a huge sigh of relief when the season ends. For 6 months we pray for these storms to remain nothing more than fish storms. If they do come ashore, we pray they are minimal. It’s humbling to know I’m at Nature’s mercy, and it’s only by the grace of God I’m still here.
My thoughts and prayers to all the victims of the devastating tornadoes of the past 2 weeks and the weeks to come. My heart cries with you in your loss, and if my arms were big enough, I’d embrace all of you. To everyone else, tell those you love how much you care for them. Give them an extra hug, another kiss. Don’t leave any room for regret. Life is too precious, especially when Mother Nature is on a rampage.
What is there NOT to like about the new Star Trek movie? There are explosions, the acting is fantastic, the traditional bantering between Bones and Spock is perfection…there’s even a tribble involved. Come on, who doesn’t like tribbles?
Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachery Quinto’s (Heroes fame) performance as Spock are stellar. In fact, the whole cast is on fire. Karl Urban, who plays Bones, reminds me so much of a young DeForest Kelley who played the original Bones in the t.v. series and earlier movies. Major kudos to the casting director.
This movie explains how Kirk comes in contact with certain people. I won’t say who because that will give some of the plot away and I’d have to put up a spoiler alert. I will say they are very important in Kirk’s life and answers to questions I’ve had over the years were revealed.
As to the special effect team? Whoo Hoo!! The graphics were stupendous. Explosions phenomenal. From the moment the movie begins, so does the action, and it never lets up.
There are some plot issues (I wish there had been more explanation to the opening scene of the movie), but the scenes move so fast you don’t really notice the plot stuff until the movie is over. That’s a good thing. There is also nothing really ‘dark’ about this film so I’m not sure where the title fits in, but I’m willing to overlook that because it’s such an unrelenting roller coaster of the good kind.
What exactly is Star Trek, Into Darkness about? From IMDb:
After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.
My final assessment: Star Trek Into Darkness is steeped in action, humor, a strong story, and brilliant visuals. It will definitely please traditional Trekkies and new fans alike. It’ll also make you want to go back and watch a particular Star Trek film from the early ’80s, which happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time.
A couple of years ago I picked up Heather Burch’s, Halflings, read it and reviewed it on my blog. A few weeks afterwards, I received an e-mail from the publisher, Zondervan. They liked my review and wanted to know if I would like to review more books for them. Of course, my answer was a big YES!!! They proceeded to send me two more books. Sadly, I wasn’t particularly fond of either one of them, so I didn’t review them online. I felt I wouldn’t do justice to the authors or to Zondervan. I mean, let’s face it. I’m still a newbie author myself. Who am I to slam someone else’s dreams on a public forum. If I was a professional reviewer and people waited with bated breath to know what I thought, then that would be a different story. Right now, I’m not that person. I’m a start-up author with a blog who likes to talk up the books I like or that I think others will enjoy.
To make a long story short, after a long hiatus, Zondervan contacted me a few days ago with a request to pick books from a list I might be interested in reading and reviewing. There was a picture and a blurb for each one in the e-mail and they were all MG or YA reads. I sent a message back saying I couldn’t pick just one but if I had to, I’d go for the paranormal/fantasy first. Their response? “We’ll be happy to send them all.” Really???? How crazy is that? There are around 8 books all together AND all but one happened to be on my TBR list. The first four arrived Wednesday and Thursday. Want a peak?
I’m so stoked!
I think my luck in landing my review gig with Zondervan has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time as well as being honest in my review without being disrespectful. The books they send and that I read are Young Adult, and Zondervan knows my blog caters to their target audience. It’s a win-win situation all the way around.
Since my review of Halflings, I have met Heather Burch, and in February of this year, I received a signed copy of her second book in the series, Guardian. The third and final book in the series, Avenger, is propped in that pretty little picture above. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review this series.
And all it took was one honest review of one book.
I am thrilled Zondervan chose me to periodically review their YA books. Maybe this will lead to another job all together: book reviewer extraordinaire. 🙂 How much fun would that be? I mean, where else can you get copies of books for free that you want to read in exchange for a review? To me, that sounds like pure bliss.
So for those of you who don’t think reviews drive people to your blogs? Think again. All it takes is the right person to get you noticed. Zondervan Publishing has my utmost respect, and I am honored to have theirs.
Raymond Feist is my favorite adult (vs YA) fantasy author ever. Sure I like Robert Jordan and David Edding, G.R. R. Martin and Piers Anthony, but Feist simply rocks the literary world with his amazing story-telling and world-building. I wait for his novels with childish enthusiasm. I have to get my hands on them as soon as possible. MAGICIAN’S END is bittersweet for me, as it is the final chapter to the Chaoswar Saga and the climax of Feist’s Riftwar Cycle. It will be great to see the way this particular story wraps up, but I hate endings. Of course, with Feist, that means there are other beginnings. The anticipation is already growing. 🙂
From the back cover:
As it began, so shall it end — in magic, mystery, and majesty… Magician’s End
Thirty years ago, Raymond E. Feist wrote his first novel, Magician, a story about an orphan boy named Pug who is thrust by a war into captivity in an alien world, only to rise from slavery to become a Master Magician. Magician introduced readers to Midkemia and the Riftwars, an epic series of battles between Good and Evil that have scarred this remarkable realm for generations. Now, after twenty-nine books (authored and coauthored), Feist delivers the crowning achievement of his renowned bestselling career: Magician’s End, the final chapter of the Chaoswar Saga and the climax of his extraordinary Riftwar Cycle.
An uneasy quiet has settled upon Midkemia in the wake of a surprise invasion. But the land is far from peaceful. Leaderless, the Kingdom is on the brink of anarchy and civil war, unless Hal conDoin, Duke of Crydee, and his brothers can rally their allies to crown a new king. They must move quickly, for war has left the land vulnerable to an agency of horrific destruction not of this world. No one is safe, not even the Star Elves whose city deep in the Grey Tower Mountains has come under attack by an ancient darkness that seeks to extinguish every living thing in Midkemia.
Yet the bravery of determined warriors — brothers in blood and arms — is not enough to ensure the Kingdom’s preservation without the magic of the Master Sorcerer Pug. A powerful spell has trapped him, his son Magnus, and two unlikely allies in an unfamiliar realm, and they must find their separate ways home — a journey of memory and discovery that will illuminate the truth of the destiny that awaits them. But to save Midkemia — and everything he has fought for and all he cherishes — Pug will have to pay the ultimate price.
A breathtaking tale of elves and men, love and hate, ambition and sacrifice, intrigue and brotherhood, war and peace, Magician’s End brilliantly captures the essence of life and the eternal struggle for survival. It is an extraordinary ending to the magnificent saga that has made award-winning Raymond E. Feist a legend.
Available at bookstores and online book retailers everywhere.
Today I’m revealing a big, big secret I’ve been keeping for weeks. Trust me, I’ve wanted to share it with you for so long but my publisher wouldn’t let me. Today, however, they released me and six other authors from our bondage and said, “Go! Tell everyone you can! Shout it to the world, to outer space! Give them ONE MORE DAY!”
So here it is, everyone! The cover reveal of J. Taylor Publishing’s latest anthology, ONE MORE DAY! And my YA short story, Dragon Flight, will appear on the pages inside. Isn’t it pretty??? 🙂
What if today never ends?
What if everything about life—everything anyone hoped to be, to do, to experience—
Whether sitting in a chair, driving down the road, in surgery, jumping off a cliff or flying …
that’s where you’d be … forever.
In One More Day, Erika Beebe, Marissa Halvorson, Kimberly Kay, J. Keller Ford, Danielle E. Shipley and Anna Simpson join L.S. Murphy to give us their twists, surprising us with answers to two big questions, all from the perspective of characters under the age of eighteen.
How do we restart time?
How do we make everything go back to normal?
The answers, in whatever the world—human, alien, medieval, fantasy or fairytale—could, maybe, happen today.
What would you do if this happened … to you?
Does the blurb excite you? Anyone up for helping out with upcoming blog tours, interviews etc.? If so, give me a shout out! The book releases December, 2013 in ebook and paperback (this makes me very happy! I’ll actually be able to sign a book!!!) There will be tons of giveaways coming up over the next few months, not just from me, but all the authors involved, so get ready to jump on the ONE MORE DAYtrain. Reciprocal reviews and blog tour spots for your works may be possible as well for joining in this adventure.
In the meantime, enjoy the cover and stay tuned for more news. If you’re into YA, you’re not going to want to miss one word about this anthology. It’s going to be tons of fun.