Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Fun Facts

Fun Fact#1: I finally put down Thirteen Reasons Why, a YA novel I was trying so hard to get through. Got halfway and finally gave up. Why? Whiny, unsympathetic main character (and I feel like a schmuck saying that, since she's dead from the start) and unbelievable events that are supposed to make me feel sorry for her. I felt like asking the author, really? You think every teenager doesn't go through all this crap? Talk to some teens or spend time in a high school before writing about what really causes them angst. Sorry. Maybe some of you out there liked it. I just couldn't.

Fun Fact#2: I'm spending tomorrow at the BIG craft fair in my (childhood) hometown, the one where everyone turns out with their extended family and you see people you haven't seen in at least a year, maybe 10 , and you find out all the latest gossip. I love going because I don't live there anymore, so I get to visit with childhood friends. Plus they treat me like a local celebrity, which is kind of nice too.

Fun Fact #3: I opened my royalty statement from Samhain earlier this week to discover that yes indeed, the Kindle Freebie promo that featured my novel One Night in Boston back in May definitely translated into June sales! Very exciting...not only did my sales for that book go up, but for my backlist as well. In fact, I've never seen those kinds of numbers on my royalty statements before, so I did a little jig of glee. I also sent off an email thanking the folks at Samhain for choosing my book as one to feature, since it's not one of the "hot" ones they're known for. One of the marketing staff wrote back and told me my book had the highest number of free downloads of any they featured. So, very cool!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: A Word About Voice

You hear it a lot in the writing world: authors should develop a strong voice. A distinct voice. Their own voice, above all. For some, that's easy. For others, it's a struggle. What is voice, exactly? Simply put, it's a writer's individual style. It how an author uses language to bring to life his/her characters and storyline. While voice can be learned and developed, I also think it's one of those things that is naturally inherent to really brilliant writers.

The voice I'm loving right now is that of YA author John Green. Looking for Alaska is wonderful - if you haven't read it, you should. Paper Towns is also good, though I didn't think the story was as strong. And I'm only partway into Will Grayson, Will Grayson (cowritten with David Levithan). In all 3 books, though, Green's voice is distinct and brilliant enough to make me green with envy. His male first-person protagonists come to life in the very first pages, and he develops all his characters, really, in just a few brush strokes.

A couple of examples:

On the second page of the Prologue of Paper Towns, Quentin describes Margo, his next-door neighbor and earliest crush. Look how at once, we get a sense of who 10-year old Quentin is AND the kind of girl Margo is, as well:

I always got very nervous whenever I heard that Margo was about to show up, on account of how she was the most fantastically gorgeous creature that God had ever created. On the morning in question, she wore white shorts and a pink T-shirt that featured a green dragon breathing a fire of orange glitter. It is difficult to explain how awesome I found this T-shirt at this time.

And from Will Grayson, Will Grayson, on the first page, we get a terrific account of Tiny Cooper, one of the protagonist's closest friends. Again, it takes Green just a paragraph or two to establish who these guys are:

Tiny Cooper is not the world's gayest person, and he is not the world's largest person, but I believe he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large. Tiny has been my best friend since fifth grade, except for all last semester, when he was busy discovering the sheer scope of his own gayness, and I was busy having an actual honest-to-God Group of Friends for the first time in my life, who ended up Never Talking to Me Again due to two slight transgressions:

1. After some school-board member got all upset about gays in the locker room, I defended Tiny Cooper's right to be both gigantic (and, therefore, the best member of our shitty football team's offensive line) and gay in a letter to the school newspaper that I, stupidly, signed...

Honestly, any writer, experienced/published or not, would be smart to read and study John Green's style. Great voice. Just great.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Monday's Mentionables: A Word on Submissions

"Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any." ~Orson Scott Card

Happy Monday! Over the weekend, I had a book signing at my local Borders - a little light, since it's a big travel/grad party weekend, but it did give me a chance to chat with my fellow authors that I rarely see, except 2-3x a year at these events. What did I find out?

Samhain is currently taking submissions for a "Springtime Just Romance" anthology (yes I probably should have known this, since they're my publisher, but I hadn't checked their sub page in a while). Interestingly enough, they want "sweet heat" only for this one. This, of course, is great for me, since that's what I write, but interesting for Samhain, since what they're known for, and what they sell, is hot-hot-hot erotic/menage. I guess maybe they're trying to reach out and appeal to a different/wider audience, but I just wonder how successful that will be.

Anyway, the submission info is here. They're looking for stories in the 20-25K range, with a submission deadline of November 1, 2010. So get working, or pull out those stories and polish them up!


And in other interesting submission news (thanks to Kristin Nelson's blog) Tin House Books is requiring all authors submitting unsolicited ms. to include a receipt for a recent bookstore purchase. How great is that?! Apparently they're concerned that many aspiring writers aren't reading as much as they should be - or at all. You can read more about it here...very interesting!