Landing smack-dab in the sweetness

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to become successful at something, for people to love, want, need something you offer?  As an author who spends most of her free time writing Young Adult fantasy, it is something I think about every day.  Will my novel IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, be something young readers will want to read? Will it be something anyone will want to read?

I think authors probably top the list as the most insecure artists out there. We’re certainly the most unrecognized, which is probably a good thing because who wants to go into a Piggly Wiggly and be mobbed by the paparazzi while you squeeze the lemons? On the other hand, if the paparazzi is following you around, that means people want more  of you. It’s not enough you gave them a great book that may have taken years off your life. Your fans want your body. Your soul. The napkin you used to wipe your mouth.

But how do you create this desire? This hunger? This need?

Bottom line:  I haven’t a clue, though I believe it is all in the timing, and being in the right place at the right time, with the stars aligned perfectly, and I’m sure the moon rising in Venus has something to do with it.

I’ve seen very talented and wonderful people spend $$ on seminars and books. They take classes on marketing. They step out of their comfort zone and make themselves vulnerable to the ravenous public, to an ever-watchful boss, but nothing happens.  They are skipped over. Then, someone comes along with a product that sometimes appears to be less inferior, and voila, they have a following, a ravenous crowd, a praising boss who wants more, more, more.

In the case of books, remember the Twilight series? How many critics, professional or not, ridiculed these novels, saying how awful they were? Guess what? Stephenie Meyer laughed all the way to the bank and the franchise is still growing.  Look at the newest sensation: Fifty Shades of Grey. I can’t even read these books all the way through because Christian Grey creeps me out. He’s a stalker, a sado-masochist. He’s everything a man should not be towards a woman and yet his and Ana’s story is so dreamy. I shake my head in confusion, yet the author is in the ‘laughing to the bank’ club, while so many other authors with much better books, more positive stories, struggle to get anyone to notice.

I looked for similarities between the two authors, Meyers and E.L. James, and couldn’t find anything remotely the same as it relates to marketing, EXCEPT that E.L. James began writing 50 Shades as fan fiction based on the Twilight series.  She developed a following and now she’s a gazillionaire and people are swooning to see a film about a rich, good-looking guy who stalks naive, insecure virgins.  Prior to Ms. Meyers hitting it big, she was really quite obscure, a woman who had a story inside of her that needed to be written.

But there are many authors like her, including myself, who have stories inside that need to be written. How do some get the accolades, all the attention, while the majority do not? How does one amazing singer get passed over for another? What is it about that person at work who always seems to capture the awards and the atta boys, while others work just as hard and sometimes contribute even more, and don’t even get a good-morning?

I don’t have the answers. All I know is we just need to strive to be the best we can be to ourselves. We must be true to ourselves and not compromise our integrity, our beliefs, our morals just to have a brief moment in the spotlight. At the end of the day, we have to look in that mirror and like the image we see staring back at us … and hope someday, someone will notice us for all we’ve done, for all we’ve accomplished, for all our dedication and committment. Then, maybe we’ll, too, land smack-dab in the sweetness (or at the very least we’ll get a taste), and be a part of the ‘laughing to the bank’ club, even if it’s just one trip.

It is what dreams are made of, you know.


What? No teen sex allowed?

A couple of weeks ago I sent off the first 5 pages of one of my YA manuscripts to a publisher to get some feedback.  The editor really liked it and fast-tracked it, but before I submit the full manuscript, I need to remove the sexual references because the heroine is seventeen.  This publisher doesn’t accept stories where teens have sex or where the act of sex is implied.  I understand it.  I get it and I applaud them.  I will submit my manuscript to this publisher once I clean it up, (not that there was any sex to begin with, only references).  But this requirement led me to wonder what the reasoning is behind some publishers adhering to this rule.  I personally don’t write sex scenes, but I have to ask, isn’t sex a part of teen life these days?  Is the reason for not going the sex route a moral issue or a legal one?

I read the Twilight series.  I think most people will agree it was soft porn for teens.  I read Graceling, Bitterblue and Fire by Kristin Cashore.  Her female leads have sex.  Though it wasn’t displayed vividly, you knew what they were doing.  Maggi Stiefvater has a sex scene in Shiver.  Tahereh Mafi turns up the heat in Unravel Me and John Green has a quite vivid oral sex scene in Looking for Alaska, although in his defense, it is rather ‘clinical’.  So, if New York Times best-selling YA novels explore teen sexuality, why do small, indie publishers shy away from sexuality when considering taking on new works and authors?

The answer is, I don’t know.  I’m hoping an editor of a small press will stop by and lend some reasoning, some explanation.

I know the YA audience falls within the 12 – 18 age group, and I understand where publishers wouldn’t want graphic sex scenes to fall into the hands of a 12 – 14 year olds. My take is, most teens already know about this sex stuff.  They’ve seen it on t.v., they see it in movies.  Unfortunately, many of them are having sex themselves, (I know, scary, right?)  Also, if you listen to teens and read their blogs, one of the big topics is sex, and mostly by girls.  Should they?  Shouldn’t they?  How do they know they’re in love?  What if the boy doesn’t love them?  Should the girl bring the condom?  Should the guy?  Is Prom night the “Big Night”? Taking this and the fact that the above-mentioned best-sellers hit the mark with teens and adults alike, does it make sense for indie publishers to stay away from books that explore teen sexuality?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one for gratuitous sex, especially among teens, but sex is a no brainer in teen life.  Teens have sex.  Not all of them, but a lot of them.  Even if you (if you’re a teen reading this) or your teen isn’t having sex, teens know teens who are.  If authors want to write realistic stories about teens, doesn’t it make sense that the issue of sex needs to be addressed at some point, in some fashion?

When I was a teen, I was reading adult books and most of what I read had sex scenes, especially historical romance.  I stumbled upon D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover when I was 14.  So not a novel for kids and let me tell you, I learned an awful lot about sex.  I immersed myself in these novels for the longest time.  There was something beautiful, enticing, about these love scenes to my young teen mind.  Sex was raw, powerful, loving, romantic.  The men were handsome and swoon-worthy.  The women young, beautiful.  There was a fascination, a power, a joy that came from reading these books as a teen.

I doubt much has changed since then.  Teens are still reading.  Teens are still looking for those stories that touch their curiosity, stories that ignite their imaginations. Stories that make them feel and swoon and speak to the parts of them that are considered ‘off limits’ or taboo.

So, why do many small publishers stray from publishing books that touch on teen sexuality?  Your thoughts would be appreciated.  Also, as a reader, do you stay away from YA novels that touch on teen sexuality?  Inquiring minds want to know.


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YA 101: Paranormal Romance

Update to this post:  August 9, 2017

It has come to my attention that my post I wrote in July 2013 was eerily the same as a post someone else wrote in June 2013. I have read that article and I have to admit, it is eerily the same. The only thing I can think that happened was the speaker at a writer’s group used this other blog post as her talking points, I took the notes, and wrote a blog about it. While my words were not exactly the same as the other author’s, it was close enough for me to rethink my post and remove it so there would be no question of plagiarism, etc. I had never even heard of the other blogger nor had I ever seen her post; however, seeing as it was written before mine, I am removing my post. Here is the link to K.A.E. Grove’s original article.

My apologies to K.A.E. Grove for any unintended similarities.

Breaking Dawn Part 2

If you saw The Hunger Games, then you saw the preview for Breaking Dawn – Part 2, the final installment in the Twilight saga.  Just in case you’re one of the few that hasn’t seen the trailer, you can find it below.

Now some of you may not understand the whole Twilight appeal, but if you’re a girl between the ages of 14 and 18, odds are you’re  grasping at every bit of information you can find to satiate your hunger for these films.

I’m a musical score kind of person and have been scouring the net for any info on possible artist contributions to the final film.  I know that Rob Pattinson is to perform a piano/singing duet with his on-screen daughter, Mackenzie Fox (“Renesmee”).  That news has been out for a while and you can read about it here.

What really got me excited, however, is the rumor of another song that may be part of Breaking Dawn Part 2 Soundtrack.  It’s called “Gone” by The New Velvet.  Now, I don’t know if the rumors are true, but I really like this band.  If you’re into Maroon 5, you’ll probably like them, too.  Even if the song isn’t in the movie, I still LOVE it!   Take a listen.  What do you think?

Doesn’t it have such a ‘Twilight” sound?  Are you looking forward to seeing Breaking Dawn Part 2 in November 2012?