Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit @brokeandbookish

Since my day happens to fall on Tuesday again this month, I decided to do Top Ten Tuesday! This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit.

1) This is the book for me. The book that got me hooked on Speculative Fiction. The book that made me realize there was a person behind those books I devoured, creating the worlds I immersed myself in.

2) Anyone who knows me can tell you my favorite book: The Giver. This is kind of a cheat because I *do* revisit it often. It holds up!

3) We read this in like 5th grade (I think?) and I LOVED it. I thought it was so cool. I don't even remember much about it, but I remember loving it!

4) These books were like candy-crack to my nine-year-old self. My grandma had the entire collection at her house and I spent an entire summer reading them!

5) I am a massive Dr. Seuss fan! This one is actually kinda cheating because I recently introduced my boyfriend to Dr. Seuss (he didn't grow up in the US) and re-read Green Eggs & Ham and If I Ran the Circus along with him. Still so much fun (and I love the Seuss Land at Universal)!

6) Yes, the movie has an accompanying book and my obsession with dragons has had a long history.

7) We moved every two years when I was a child - I didn't have many close friends growing up. I think that's part of the reason for my obsession with the Sleepover Club books. Truth time: I loved these girls. They were like the childhood friends I never got to have.

8) Oh my gosh did I love this little guy when I was just a little girl.

I know this is supposed to be Top TEN Tuesday, but I have a really bad memory for my childhood - ask my younger sister who remembers lots of things I don't! So eight books is all I have for you - but you know if *I* remembered them, that has to be an excellent sign.

See you guys next month!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Actually, my mum doesn't have a blog.

Some of the questions I hear and see most frequently asked by newbie writers are those regarding blogging.

Should I blog? I want to, but what should I talk about? Everyone and their mums have blogs, how will mine be any different? Who will be interested in anything I have to say until I’ve sold a million copies of my book?

Well, my mum actually doesn’t have a blog, but I do totally get this. I fret over this last one in particular every time I start writing a new blog. Who cares about anything I have to say? Probably a handful at most, and perhaps my mum is included in that number, but hey, I don’t let that stop me.

Image result for love mum pictures

  • Why should you blog?

If for no other reason, treat it as writing practice. I’m sure you can reply to this with, ‘I have loads of documents for that on my laptop’. But the difference with an online blog is that these are samples of your work you aren’t allowed to bury deep in a Word folder with the odd spelling mistake or grammatical problem you don’t have to concern yourself over. Publishing them online forces you to look at some of the finer tuning, the polishing, which is pretty important when you come to submit to agents or self-publish a novel. In fact, it might just mean make or break. Agents stalk us too, you know, so show 'em what you got.

But also keeping a blog can indirectly help you keep a track of your writing journey, and in the future when you’ve signed with that agent and received your six-figure advance, you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

  • What should you blog about?

I guess this is a bit trickier to answer, but my instinct fires back: what do you want people to associate you with? For me, this is obviously writing and words and editing and grammar and publishing and so on. To be fair, I don’t blog all that often, but when I do it’s always writing related. I scream about online contests I’m involved with, or authors I’ve worked with who’ve signed with an agent or released their book. This is the only rule I abide by. But this doesn’t have to be the case with your blog. 

If you write romance, blog about all things hearts and kisses: movies, celebrity weddings, Valentine’s Day, etc. If you write sci-fi, relate your blog to all things science. If you write for children and want kids to visit your blog, write about the kind of things kids are interested in. Add colour and pictures and quizzes and games. Reel them in.   

  • How will yours be different to the other trillions of blogs?

I really don’t know. Make it different. Research what’s already out there and don’t do the same. Be creative; come up with new ideas and approaches.

  • Who will be interested?

Maybe to start with not many. I’m being realistic, not pessimistic. But I suppose this relates to the previous question. Make your blog stand out. But personally I wouldn’t let your focus be on the number of readers, return to why you’ve decided to keep a blog. For essential writing practice. 

Wanting people to read your blog also leads on to the business of marketing yourself and your work. You will need to do a fair amount of this when your book is eventually published, so now’s the time to discover the avenues of promotion, new and old. Do blog swaps, host other authors, agents and editors, interview people. Connect and network; writing contacts come in very handy in the future!

If you don’t already blog but are considering it, or have a blog but are wondering whether you should continue with it, my advice is to stop worrying and get on with writing all the words!

Image result for keep calm and blog on

But even now, after all this justification and excuses to start your blog, you really don’t think it’s for you, then don’t. There are plenty of successful authors who don’t blog, who don’t have Twitter profiles and Facebook pages. If it’s not for you, then so be it. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

A New Adult Takeover - Meet E.L. Wicker

I didn’t really know how to begin this post, so I thought I’d start as I mean to go on. Yup, I’m winging it—after all, that’s what pantsers do, right? They wing it. So my fluffy wings are spread and I am flying by the seat of my pants. What an interesting place to situate wings.

Sharon Johnston usually posts about now, but this is a takeover, because I’m all new and shiny. As this is my first post on YAtopia, I thought I’d make it sparkly.


If you haven’t gleaned from my post so far, I tend not to take myself too seriously. Serious is good, but I prefer to stay on the side of light and fluffy. Especially because the series I’m writing at the moment can get very dark in places. It’s a New Adult paranormal romance. It started its life as a YA, but as I wrote, the themes and issues were best suited to NA, as were the maturity levels and ages of my characters.

Which leads me on to my passion—New Adult fiction.

New Adult fiction has grown at a rapid rate—how did it all begin? Come with me as we take a trip back to 2009 when St Martin’s press expressed an interest in receiving submissions that were similar to YA, but could be marketed towards an older audience too. The New Adult genre was officially born, but it didn’t pick up much steam until a few years later. It’s success can be widely attributed to independent publishers, particularly in the field of contemporary romance. Authors such as Jamie McGuire, Colleen Hoover and Sylvia Day all began their New Adult literary careers as self-published authors. The genre literally exploded.

It’s actually not a surprise that New Adult has done so well. If you turn on the television at primetime, you’re likely to be met with a New Adult show. 90210, The Vampire Diaries, also past series like Greek. These were all aimed at the ‘older young adult’ – the new adult. New Adult is sought after and popular.

Yet despite this massive success, whenever I try to select the genre for my own book ‘New Adult’, in many cases, it’s simply not there. Luckily, this is being worked on. Publishing houses have now embraced the genre—some did to begin with, others took a little while to assimilate.

So what are the differences between YA and NA?

It’s really not complex. A lot of the same themes and issues are explored, but there’s also moving on from being a young adult to a new adult and all that it encompasses. You’ll find a lot of New Adult books centered around college life as the characters gain their independence. You’ll also find that many characters are beginning their first job or getting married, having children, moving into their first house and dealing with all of the personal fears that those things can cause. Primarliy, NA is aimed at readers aged 17-30, with the characters usually aged between 18-25.
New Adult fiction is my absolute passion. I adore it. I love reading it and writing it. My kindle is chock full of books from authors such as Mia Sheridan, Penelope Ward and Jennifer Blackwood. I am a hunter of new books because I want to read them all. If it has dual POV – I’m in heaven.

I am thrilled to be a part of YAtopia where I can represent the genre I so love and I look forward to posting more!

Monday, March 16, 2015

When Life Imitates Art

I was struggling with what to write about today. So many of the best topics have been covered and my fellow YAtopians are doing such a fantastic job addressing writerly issues that I was seriously lacking inspiration. Then this popped up in my Feedly feed:

As a mostly science fiction writer, I follow quite a few tech and gadget blogs, forever on the lookout for innovations that I could incorporate into my stories. Some of these tidbits have even inspired stories, but this article really hit home with me because...

My new YA novel I Heart Robot opens with a robot funeral! At the core of my novel is the question: what makes us human? So to see this article about Japan and robot culture and how the way we treat machines has become indicative of our own humanity, made me smile. In my story, the robots serves as mirrors in a way, reflecting the human characters' humanity - or sometimes lack thereof - in what I thought was purely the realm of science fiction. To see something similar starting to play out in real life makes me realize that what Aristotle claimed about art imitating life isn't always the only truth. As Oscar Wilde opined in an essay written in 1889, sometimes life imitates art and now, in a way, I'm seeing my own art being imitated in real life. (For a far more erudite and articulate examination of anti-mimesis, please read Wilde's The Decay of Lying.)

Genre fiction is often put down and relegated to the trash bins, rarely held in the same regard as literary fiction (although I'm not sure why or when the two became mutually exclusive), but reading articles like these make me realize that a genre like science fiction can be just as philosophically and psychologically relevant in the exploration of the human condition, if not more so, since science fiction by its very nature is all about pushing boundaries and examining what will happen to humanity when we are pushed beyond the limits of current understanding.

Philosophical meanderings aside, there are three important things I've learned today thanks to this article popping up in my RSS feed:

1) Following geeky blogs is a good thing and has, and will, definitely help my writing in a myriad ways.

2) Science fiction is relevant and shouldn't be ignored because it's 'genre' fiction - and don't let anyone make you feel less of an author for writing about aliens or cyborgs!

3) Aristotle and Wilde are both right and probably would've had a lively discussion about the art-life-art imitation debate had their lifespans overlapped.

Personally, I see an article like this as affirmation that the type of stories I want to tell have meaning beyond entertainment. And, as science fiction becomes science fact, I think there's going to be a lot more of life imitating art.