Thursday, November 26, 2015

The YA Stigma

Scott Bergstrom has a great book deal. Good for him. There is always a rush of excitement when an author does well. But in this case, everyone is upset over certain comments from a Publishers Weekly article. 

The comment is this: “The morality of the book is more complicated than a lot of YA so I wanted to try doing it on my own,” Bergstrom said. “In a lot of YA, the conflict takes place inside a walled garden, set up by outside adult forces. If you think of those stories as a metaphor for high school, they start to make a lot more sense, but that was one thing I wanted to depart from.”

This isn’t the first time an author has criticized YA novels as being dumbed down. Back in 2012, author Isaac Marion was criticized for Tweeting his opinions on teen fiction. 

“I don’t know who started the idea that it’s a YA book but it drives me crazy. There’s one character n the entire story who’s younger than 20 (Julie,19) the writing is not simplified for a young reading level at all, containing lots of big ‘ol fancy words like “loquacious” and “sepulchral”, and there’s nothing teen-specific about its themes.”

Why is it that authors sometimes feel the need to insult Young Adult fiction? Why does the stigma exist that YA isn’t complicated and that’s it simplified writing? 

Thankfully the hashtag MorallyComplicatedYA has been trending all across the board today. Many authors, bookstores, and readers have come to the defense, giving examples of YA books that are indeed complicated. They’ve chosen novels that are absolutely not simplified in context and writing style. And there are a lot of them. Hundreds. 

When is this going to stop? You don’t see this with other genres. You rarely see people complaining that crime novels are dumbed down or that fantasy novels don’t deal with anything other than unicorns and wizards? I don’t see people hiding their copies of The Girl on the Train in fear of people thinking they’re reading a stupid book. 

As authors, we write the books that appeal to us. We should never be ashamed or try and claim that our books are better than anything else on the market. And we should be supporting each other, not bashing. We’re all in this together.

 I love writing YA. Not once have I ever considered that I need to simplify things in order for my readers to understand. No, my characters have made decisions that could cripple some adults. Why? Because teenagers are capable of doing anything. 

And teenagers are smart. They know a cop-out when they see one. If you try simplifying something to a teenager, they’re gonna call you out on it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Many Sides of the Strong Female Character

I heard something in my writing group the other day that made me want to write this.

Cinderella is a weak female stereotype.

She lives with her evil stepmother and is rescued by her fairy godmother. She’s dressed up in fine clothes, given everything she needs for one dreamy night, goes to a ball, and falls in love with a prince. She’s beautiful and mysterious and the prince can’t help but fall in love with her. So he searches until he finds her, and makes her his bride. They have their happily ever after.

We all know the story. It’s supposed to be a magical fairytale about true love. But because Cinderella is beautiful and rescued by a prince, she’s considered a silly weak girl. How dare she be a role model for young girls to look up to.

How about this? Cinderella was abused for many years, dressed in rags, insulted, worn down, belittled by her family, and forced into slavery. Through all this physical and emotional pain, she’s able to rise above and find a way out of her cruel predicament.

Kinda changes the perspective, right?

These days there is a large focus on strong female characters. They should be physically strong, emotionally stable, and able to kick butt. They don’t need to rely on a man to keep them safe, but it’s okay to find a bit of love while they’re out saving the world. They have to be strong willed, but heaven forbid they like the color pink. They need to be smart, sassy, not too bitchy, but have attitude.

Whew. That’s a lot of heavy load to carry.

So why does Cinderella get such a bad rap? Is it really so bad that maybe her goal in life was to find love, settle down and have a family? Isn’t it great that she was able to overcome her horrible past? Why can’t she get help from a man?

I love the strong female character. I really do. I write about her all the time. I agree that there needs to be more. But I think that strength comes in all shapes and forms. Why can’t a girl love pink and still kick ass? Why can’t a girl rely on (heaven forbid) someone else to help her in times of need?

So who are your favorite strong female characters and why?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A funny thing happened on the way to Ontario...

So I just got back from a lovely holiday that involved a lot of driving.

My mother remarried a few years ago and has since moved near Windsor, Ontario. So I got this great idea that I'd drive across Canada to visit her with my puppy. We'd camp along the way, take the American route back, and have a great time.

So pack up the car. Check. Camping gear. Clothes. Cooler with lots of good food. Grab puppy. All those great times awaiting.

 It was lovely in Vancouver the morning I left. By the time I got to Hope, BC, it was raining.

First stop: Salmon Arm. A good friend of mine I've known since I was four is there on holidays with her family. I decided to check into a hotel because there are supposed to be thundershowers.

                                                        Margaret Falls - Salmon Arm

Sure enough, it rains.

And then it rained in Drumheller, Alberta. And then in Saskatoon while I visited friends for a few days. It rained on the way to Winnipeg.

It wasn't until I got to Ontario that it finally stopped raining. But it was cold. Freezing!

                                           Cute cabin at Batchawana Bay. And it had heat!

                                                       Livy at a Rest Stop in Ontario

So, by the time I got to my Mom's place, I hadn't camped once.

But it gets better. While at my Mom's, my six month old puppy went into her first heat. It's rare for a puppy to go into heat that young, but she did.

                                                                       In Windsor

On the way back, I was determined to camp. And I finally did. In Madison, Wisconsin. And I discovered two things.

1. My air mattress had a leak.
2. Camping by yourself is the most boring thing in the world.

It rained again at Rapid Falls. But not before I got to see Mount Rushmore.

By then, Livy was in full blown 'tart' mode and I thought it was a bad idea to continue camping. Yellowstone Park was our next stop, and the last thing I wanted was to find a bear banging down the tent door in the middle of the night because my puppy smelled like chocolate cake.

                                                                       Old Faithful!

So overall, it was a great holiday, even with all that rain and lack of camping. The hotels had great breakfasts!

And yes, glad to be back home. Now it's back to work! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hey folks,
I've got some ARC's of The Bodies We Wear to give away on Goodreads. Good luck to all who enter!

Monday, November 04, 2013

My thoughts on bookstores and why I'll always shop there first.

You know what I love? Book stores. Libraries. Coffee shops that have books.

There is something powerful that overcomes me when I walk into bookstores. The rows upon rows of stories to be read. The smell of paper and ink. The excitement when I know a new book is out from an author I enjoy. And that exact moment when I get home, sit down with the cat, and crack open that new book, it's just pure bliss.

I love all sorts of entertainment. Music. Movies. TV. Theatre. But there's just something about a book that really beats it all.

It makes me sad when small bookstores close. It makes me sad when big bookstores close.

I don't buy a lot of books online. My rule is, if I can't find it at the bookstore, only then I'll shop online. I feel this way mostly because going to the bookstore is almost as much fun as reading the book. And trust me, I'm someone who hates shopping!!!!

 I also don't have an e-reader yet. I'm not against them, in fact, I wish I'd had one when I lived in South Korea. I think I re-read Cormac McCarthy's, The Road, about a dozen times. It was very hard finding English bookstores there. Hmmm....maybe that's how I was truly inspired to write Dark Inside.

As I said, I'm not against e-readers. I think they're a great idea. And I've looked at them in bookstores. But I can't find myself to buy one just yet. Because as wonderful as they are, they just can't compare to the touch, feel, and smell of a book.

So that's my thoughts. What's yours?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Bad Blogger

Yeah, that's me. Bad blogger to the extreme. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about writing. 

One of the biggest questions I get from aspiring authors is "What advice would you give?"

1. Write every day. Now that might feel like a 'duh' comment but its true. Ok, so none of us is actually going to write "every" day. That's kinda impossible. Even I get my days off. But the point is to write as much as possible. Even if it's just a sentence a day, it's still better than nothing. No single author ever just picked up a pen (or computer) and wrote a perfect novel. Writing is like any other vocation. You have to learn the craft. 

2. Love what you do but don't wait for inspiration. If we waited till we were inspired, authors would write maybe once a year. Some days come easier than others. 

3. Learn to love criticism. It's a funny word - criticism. It sounds so negative but it's not. As writers, we get so close to our characters and our ideas. We often don't notice our mistakes. Having someone go over our work and point them out can be the most helpful thing in the world. It's also great to help critique other people's work. By leaning to spot errors, it helps us from making the same mistakes in our own work. 

 Ok, so you've gotten that far. You've got your novel and you're ready to send it out to agents and publishers. Now what?

1. Expect rejection. Every single author gets rejected. All. Of. Us. It's a normal part of the process. It doesn't mean your work sucks and you should give up. Agents reject for numerous reasons, many of which have nothing to do with your story. Just because one agent says its not right for them doesn't mean it's not right for another. 

2. Don't dwell on rejection. The first novel I wrote got about seventy rejections. Finally I put it in my desk and wrote another novel. Now when I look back at my book, I see the errors and I understand why it was rejected. It was very good for a first attempt but not publishable by any means. One day I do plan to go back and rewrite it. 

Did you know that the average author writes between four and six books before they get published? Think of it as a learning experience. And you can always go back to them later. No work is useless. Everything you do puts you one step closer to getting better. 

3. And I stress this as being the most important tip in the world. LEARN THE BUSINESS. There are a lot of scammers out there willing to take advantage on new authors. Don't get suckered in. Agents do not charge fees up front. NEVER. Any agency who asks for money is not going to get you a book deal. The same goes for publishers. A legit publishing company will never ask for money up front. Real publishing companies pay advances and give royalties. 

Publishers and agencies are dying to discover new authors. They want new talent! 

There are great websites out there that can help aspiring authors. Agent Query is one. Absolute Write is another. They have tons of expert advice to help new authors.

Good luck and keep writing!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Good news!

I've signed a two book deal with Knopf Books.

The Bodies We Wear will be released in the fall of 2014. So far off! But hopefully it'll be worth the wait.

Pitched as Kill Bill meets The Lovely Bones (I love this. Such an interesting combination), The Bodies We Wear is the story of Faye, a girl hellbent on getting revenge against the men who stole her life and murdered the boy she loved.

People say when you take Heam, the body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of Heaven.

I was only nine-years-old.

I saw something else.

I saw Hell. 

Set in a world where a drug called Heam causes worldwide addiction and death, 17-year-old Faye is training so she can be strong enough to seek revenge. Eight years ago, Heam was forced on her and her best friend, Christian. She survived. Christian didn't.

But life never goes according to plan. A mysterious young man named Chael has shown up and suddenly her life has become a lot more complicated. He seems to know everything about her, including her terrible past. As she gets drawn into his world, she starts to realise that things aren't as black and white as she first thought. But too many secrets start tearing her world down. Trouble at school, with the police, and the people she thought might be her friends--even Gazer, her guardian, fears she's become too obsessed with destruction.

Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires or will revenge destroy her?

And my apologies for my crappy blurb. I suck at these things. haha