Thursday, October 23, 2014

YA or Middle Grade? Which is right for me?

Although I haven't yet published any of my fiction, I have 2 short stories (novellas, really) written, and a young adult, speculative fiction novel written and waiting in the wings for me to finally finish editing and get out into the world.

I love the writing part...not sure how hip I am to the revising part of the gig. They'll get done soon, though. I need to do some goal setting for those, so they can get out into the world and into the hands of actual readers.

I've been thinking hard about where to go with my next story. So far, all of my fiction has been geared more towards YA, but I'm also toying with creating a Middle Grade series.

What's the difference, you ask?

Young Adult literature focuses more on young adult characters between the ages of 15 - 18 (not in college). See, it's not just a clever name. With that age range comes a more mature set of themes. Some cussing, allusion to sex, violence, gruesome death seems to be part of many YA novels, though it doesn't necessarily have to be. There are plenty of YA books without that stuff, too. It's all about the audience that you're reaching for...though, I know a lot of grown adults that still read YA, your truly included.

Middle Grade books have characters roughly between the ages of 10 - 15, and though there can be deep, mature themes, the content of the book doesn't usually have cussing, sex, or gruesome violence. The books are usually aimed at an audience between grades 3-6, though some middle grade books do very well with other kids (and adults) as well. The first Harry Potter book comes to mind, as one that was written for middle grade readers, and found a much larger market.

So, I have a series in mind that could go either way, with YA or Middle Grade, and I'm debating where to take it.

If it goes the YA route, I'll be able to make more complex relationships, and add romance to the mix. Romance is not so big in Middle Grades.

But, if I keep it as a Middle Grade, then I can focus less on romance, and more on the action and plotting, which is my strong point.

Perhaps I'll get this all sorted out, and get an outline together just in time for NaNoWriMo. I'm going to try to stick with it this year, and get something done to 50,000 words. That may just be perfect for a Middle Grade novel.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Writerly Stuff

I've had many notebooks over the years, to fill with ideas for stories. Many of them have been thick, hard-covered journalesque tomes that seemed weighty and wise, just for their sheer size. Obviously, such weight and girth would produce amazing ideas, right?

Perhaps not so much. Most of them got only a few pages filled, and then I promptly lost interest, and then abandoned them.

My current writing notebook is a 4" x 6" cheapo, plastic-bound notebook from the dollar store. It was an ugly shade of green, so I covered it in fabric tape to make it a little less hideous. I may have actually made it less visually appealing though. Oh well.

I've learned my lesson.

My big heavy journals were too cumbersome to take anywhere with me. They were big and unwieldy, and unless I wanted to carry another five pounds in my backpack, they just stayed home.

Now, long past my college days, I no longer sport a backpack wherever I go, but my notebook is always able to come with me. It slides easily into my purse or computer bag, and I always have it there to write in.

Here's what I write in my notebook:

IDEAS. Lots, and lots of ideas.

I had so many in my head the other night, that I had to take a few minutes to just sit and write them down until they were all out of my head. Some were short story ideas, some were YA novels, and some were more geared for Middle Grades, but once they were all out, I had over 20 ideas for stories sitting in my notebook.

I will never, ever run out of things to write.

I only have to figure out what it is that I want to write about first!

Here's me getting ready to write. Trusty laptop? Check! Soda? Check! Writer's notebook? Check! Earbuds? Check! Creepy pictures of authors staring at me while I write? Check! Check! And check!

Today, I was lucky enough to have a few free hours, sans kids and sans work, so I dropped by my lovely, local library to do engage in some writerly time.

I love writing at the library. I love passing all the shelves and shelves full of books. They give me hope. Someday my books are going to be on those shelves, I tell myself as I pass through the stacks. On my way to a table and rather uncomfortable chair, I stop by the biographies in the juvenile section. I started doing that this past summer. While I'm there, I pick up a few picture books of contemporary, famous authors. Then I take these books back to the table where I'm working, and I set the books up to face me as I write.

Tonight, the faces of Stephanie Meyer, JK Rowlings, and RL Stine watched as I typed away at an outline for a new story I'm about to get working on. I love having those faces watch me. It's as if they are cheering me on. "Go for it! Keep plugging away! Your persistence is going to totally pay off one of these days - soon! You can do it!!" Yes, I listen to the voices in my head.

I smile at these one-time-wannabe-now-living-the-dream authors, put in my ear buds and listen to my favorite Pandora stations while I type, type, type away, eager to prove them right.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Goodreads Review of Wonder by R.J. Palacio

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh Wonder, let me count the ways I loved you.

1) You were a fun read, but a poignant one as well. Many lessons were learned between the pages of your front and back covers.

2) I loved how the book changed narrators. The change of voice from August to Via was amazing. My jaw dropped. Because I was amazed. Hence: amazing.

3) The ending was heartfelt, but not too cheesy. Thanks for laying off the cheese.

4) You made me cry, Wonder. I actually had to put you down so I could hunt for some tissues. Rarely does a book have that kind of impact on me.

Wonder, you rock.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I Can Do it All!! - Well, Not So Much

I have a lot of interests, and a love of learning, which has led to dabbling in a lot of different areas.

I'm a dabbler. And I'm not afraid to admit it.

One of the areas I've dabbled in is desktop publishing and graphic design. I'm not an expert. I'm not even a novice. I'm just someone who pays attention. So, when I published my first book online (let's be honest, it's a booklet - short - 30 pages, can hardly be called a book, but I will anyway), I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on paying for a book cover designer. I didn't know if the book would sell a single copy, so I wasn't willing to pay a lot upfront.

Alas, that led to me designing my own cover when I uploaded my ebook to Amazon. At first, I was so proud just to have it up there, but as time went on and I noticed the quality of other book covers, I realized I needed to make a change.

Advice from several podcasts and webinars that advised having a stellar cover affirmed my need for a change. It was time.

There are a lot of places to outsource work out on the interwebs. I haven't used them all, but I know of them.
99 Designs
and others.

I'm sure they're good and offer fantastic service and value.

However, the site that caught my eye, and eventually earned a thank you from my pocketbook was

For $5 you can get almost anything. It's amazing. My ebook cover cost only $5, and was done in less than a week. Awesomesauce!

And the quality is fantastic, as well. My designer did a fantastic job. Here's a link to his site on Fiverr in case you're interested:

Isn't his work amazing?!

I can't believe I ever thought that designing my own book cover was acceptable. Tonight I was listening to a podcast, and the very successful entrepreneur on the show espoused over and again the importance of focusing on your strengths, and not your weaknesses. Obviously, graphic design is not my strength. I've decided it's time for less dabbling, and more focused doing.

I hereby declare myself a doer, instead of a dabbler!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fighting Inertia

I love writing. I really, truly do. I love to put down words on paper - or in this case, computer screen.

I love to change words, manipulate them, find the perfect one. I love the feeling of my fingers on the keyboard, typing away when I'm really into the story and time seems to melt away as I write, and write, and write.

I love writing.

So, I don't understand why it's so HARD TO DO sometimes. Why is it that when it's time to write, I suddenly have to clean my house? Or clear out the inbox in my email that I haven't touched for 2 years? Or take the dog for a walk?

Why in the world is it so dang hard to get started?

I wish I had the answer to this question. I don't. Sorry. I just know that starting is hard for me. Once I get past the initial "What am I going to work on today?" hump, I'm usually good to go. For example, right now I'm booking away on this blog post pretty well. But, I visited about 10 different websites before I actually started writing. Why is that?

Now that I'm in the flow of writing, all is good. I don't know why there is this inertia that keeps me from writing. I don't know what causes it. All I know is that it exists.

If you've cleaned up and organized, and are ready to get down to the business of writing, then I want to encourage you to just get started. I think that helps me. Just tell yourself to do one sentence. Then, push for just one paragraph. Maybe you can do one half page? Now a page? Now maybe 500 words? Now, maybe an entire chapter?

These are the trick questions I have to use on myself to get me going. They help, though, which is why I use them.

Another trick I've heard about for getting in the writing mood is to spend about 5 minutes writing on something other than the project you're working on. You can free write, journal, or write a blog post...whatever. All you need is to get your fingers ready to start typing, and get your brain moving a little bit so that when you quit your warm-up routine, you're ready to get going on your main manuscript, and can blow inertia right out of the water.

Okay. This blog post is now done. I shall go write.