Monday, September 30, 2013

New Adult Is What??? A Guest Post By Stina Lindenblatt

I've been hearing a lot lately about NA and I wanted to find out more about what it is and who should write it. So I asked the wonderful NA author and blogging friend, Stina Lindenblatt to clarify for us. Take it away, Stina!

Ever since New Adult contemporary romances exploded on the scene, people have been scrambling for an answer to the question: What is New Adult? Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of misinformation, the most common one being that NA it’s just another name for YA. Or better yet, NA is really YA erotica.

Sorry. Wrong answer.

Many of the contemporary romances do, indeed, have sex in them. But this doesn’t necessarily mean the sex is graphic. Like with YA, it can be nothing more than a fade-to-black scene, where the reader uses her imagination to figure out what happens next. The scenes can also be such that they will leave your mom blushing (or at least mine), but that doesn’t mean the story is erotica.

So what is New Adult then? It’s the time period after high school, when the characters are between 18 to 25 years old. They don’t have to be in college. They can be married. They can be in the military. They can be traveling the world for a year before heading to college. The main thing is it explores that new found independence that comes with adulthood, and from moving away from home for the first time. Many of the “firsts” experienced in this age group are similar to YA, such as having sex for the first time or working part time while at school or falling in love. And like with YA, the happily-ever-after ending (which is only necessary if you write romance) doesn’t need to end in marriage.  

This time period is also when you struggle to figure out who you are, and what you want to do with your life. It’s a time to face new stresses and new joys. And it’s a time to deal with issues that didn’t exist when you were a teen—or the issues now become bigger. Some of the issues are similar to what we find in YA (e.g. alcoholic parent), but the impact on the college-aged character will be different. Now they can escape the home situation, but the situation will continue to haunt them and become part of the story problem, or at least influence how the character deals with the problem.

As with YA, raw emotion is a staple of NA. This is why so many YA writers have found it an easy transition to make. It’s a fun time period to explore, with so many story possibilities.

Have you read any New Adult stories? If so, what do you like about them? If not, what do you remember about this time period of your life?

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes Young Adult and New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website. She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance, TELL ME WHEN, will be released 2014 (Carina Press, HQN). 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Top Five Things I Learned (or Reaffirmed) at the LA-SCBWI Writer's Retreat

Writers with Macs (there were at least four of us not pictured as well)
1. Writers are great people. So are editors and agents. We are all human and ultimately all strive toward the same goal, so sometimes it's nice to immerse yourself with others who have a like mind. It's quite inspiring. 

2. Revisions are never done. You can always use a new set of eyes as long as you are prepared not to be overwhelmed all at once. We had the same group of four and we met five times with different faculty members. But in between each session we had time to revise and regroup those first pages so that we could be ready for the next round. Great format because it allows you a breather and some stability, while getting a great overview of thoughts and valuable comments. 

3. Writing can overwhelm you. I may have started a pantser, but I'm all about lists. I came back organized with a list of pass throughs I intend to do on my current WIP. I know it's a tough climb (see last weeks post) but I feel prepared for it. 

4. If you give a writer wine, she WILL perform karaoke. 

5. Sometimes we forget that this is an art form. One session was lead by a PB editor (the awesome Allyn Johnston). Despite us having all MG and YA, it was INCREDIBLE. She was able to look/listen to our work and approached it as art. She went not just by rules and such, but by feel and rhythm. I absolutely loved that and it was a great reminder for me that it's okay that sometimes I write something because it sounds or feels "right" or natural to me. 

There was so much to take in and I'm sure far more lessons learned. But fresh from the retreat these are at the top of my list and I wanted to share with all of you. 

Please visit next monday when New Adult author, Stina Lindenblatt visits and gives us the real scoop on NA.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tackling Revisions

Sometimes when you get those first notes back - and you know perfectly well that you're going to have work to do - it's a little intimidating. Do you ever feel like you're looking at Mount Everest, armed with only gym shoes and a latte from Starbucks? I do.

So the logical answer is to take one step at a time, right? Well, sort of. Yes, that's how you approach it, but you also should probably take the time to sip your latte and go get yourself some appropriate gear before you start climbing. 

What kind of gear would you use for tackling a mountainous revision? Well, here's a checklist we can all add to:

  1. Notes. Gather all your critique notes and organize them into categories. Maybe you realize that Character A has an issue with likability. Make that one category. That can be one step up the mountain when you're ready. Do a pass through looking only for opportunities to fix that. 
  2. Read. It really helps me when I read a good book before I start. That always inspires me and jumpstarts my brain. 
  3. Crash Course. Go back to your favorite craft book or blog post about the areas you seem to be having issues in or that intimidate you the most and study up on it. Then you have some good picks and a bungie cord to catch you if you start to slip.
  4. Time. Make sure you have a plan as far as when you are going to attack this project. You can't just say, "I'll be done by two so I can pick up the kids." Well, you can, but not with the whole thing. Be realistic in other words. If you have fifteen minutes, great! But don't expect more than fifteen minutes worth of work. 
  5. Chocolate, music, coffee, wine, whatever it is you use to get in the zone. Your favorite spot on the couch with your laptop perhaps. 
Good luck climbing that mountain, friends! Maybe I'll run into you on my way up and we can share some chocolate. ;D

Monday, September 9, 2013

How Much Do You Invest In Your Writing?

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  - Ernest Hemingway

Most of us nod our heads to this, right? We put our time and effort into our work. We write, we learn, we study, we read, we write some more, we revise, we query, we deal with rejection, we start again. Sound familiar? If you're in this business as a lark or to make billions, I have some sad news...

STILL, there's more we can invest in our writing and I'm wondering how far you would go? As in money, moola, smackers, compensation. Well you get the idea. Here's a list of okay and not okay things to spend your money on if you're a writer. Most are serious. ;D But honestly, it's something I've been juggling lately as far as promotion goes, so I know I can't be the only one. Can you add to the list, please? I know it can't be complete.

Oh and one more thing - I'm not saying you HAVE to spend a single penny. I'm only saying it may not be such a bad idea if you're already investing all of your time and effort to consider some possibilities.

Things NOT to spend money on:
  1. Agents who ask for money. This is not how it works. A legitimate agent is difficult to come by, but worth the hard work. If they offer representation it will be because they want to work with you and they get paid by selling your work. Simple as that. 
  2. "Publishers" who ask for money. Same deal. If you self publish, that's different. But if it's a legitimate press they should be the ones to front the costs for the editor, printing, etc. Publicity is a different story. Many authors do not get a publicist, or if they do, they still find themselves doing much of the promotion, but you can always negotiate this in your contract.
  3. Don't quit your day job. I know, this isn't directly spending money, but you're definitely losing it if you do this solely to write. I know plenty of authors who still work and find time to write even with a family. Is it hard? You bet! But if you have to write, you have to write. Just don't forget you also have to eat and sleep somewhere with a roof over your head.

Things you CAN spend money on, but you'll have to prioritize:
  1. Editorial services. Is it necessary? NO. You might just have fantastic critique partners who are enough. You should have them no matter what. Mine are indispensable. But sometimes you're close, so close, but you need a little more help from a new set of eyes. OR sometimes you decide to self publish and then it's an absolute MUST.
  2. Cover design. This is only if you ARE self-publishing. But a cover is very important. I'm in love with mine, but I know my publisher paid for it. It's worth it. 
  3. Contests. I'm debating right now entering a few of these. But each one costs money and it adds up. I think in my case I will swallow the bullet and pick maybe 3 of my faves. I'll probably get some input and do a bit of research first though. Is it a guaranteed win? No. Of course not, but the more eyes on my book and the more possibilities the better.
  4. Conferences and continuing education. I allocate myself several smaller workshops or one larger conference per year. Each one has absolutely been worth it for me. I get so much out of being with other writers and learning craft. I love it. You shouldn't spend this money though if you're expecting to meet someone who will instantly offer you publication. That's not what the networking is about. If you really can't afford it, you can always find online free conferences. There's Writeoncon, which is awesome and I believe there was (and hopefully will be) Indiecon online too. 
  5. Books. You gotta read if you're gonna write. Libraries are good resources though! ;D
What can you add? Oh and to save you a bit of money, we are offering THE BINDING STONE free on Kindle September 9 and 10th!!! So go grab a copy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Social Media Tip of the Century

Social media giving you a headache? I admit that having published a book I find that promoting said book is darn tricky. I don't want to keep saying, "Hey, buy my book!" because we all know how annoying that is. I have a decent platform through this blog and Twitter. I did the blog tour thing and contests and goodreads and so on. But now what? 

I have to reach my audience. So I also started an FB author page, a Pinterest account (which is sooooo much fun), revived my Tumblr, and have about 7 followers (woohoo!) on Instagram. But how on earth do I manage all these things and know what to post where and when? I have a baby you know, not to mention two other kids and, oh yeah, writing to do. 

My friend, Martina Boone, tipped me off to the most awesome tool for social media I've seen in well, forever. So I want to share with all of you! 

It's called IFTTT. Seriously. Go there now. It's all logic and recipes. You make an account then tell it through these easy peasy recipes to use logic and help you out. Example: If I post to FB, THEN post to Twitter. So I made chains. I wish there were a few more in existence, but now instead of posting to all of the above I can say, post a picture from a website to Pinterest, then IFTTT will take that and post to FB, which will then tell it to post to Twitter and Tumblr. So I do it once, and *poof* it's everywhere! Cool right? You can also turn your recipes on and off if you don't want it to post everywhere. 

I am seriously so excited about this that I had to share with all of you. Did you know about this?