Tuesday, April 23, 2013

And Then THIS Happened!

This weekend I went to JordanCon and met... *drum roll* Seanan Mcguire. 


I know. I KNOW!

The best part? She was awesome! I was so nervous meeting one of my favorite authors. I write books myself, so I know it's not magic, but still...there's something about meeting the person responsible for so many amazing books that still makes me awestruck. 

Now it's time for me to tell you a funny story, and you can all laugh at my expense.

When I walked into the room where the Urban Fantasy panel was being held, I was thinking I would stay in the room, get a good seat, and see the panelists as they were coming in. This would give me time to decide who people were. 

Because I am crap with people's faces. Especially faces that I recognize from Internet photos. So when a bubbly blonde wearing an awesome pink shirt announced she had cupcakes and did anyone want one, I was thrown off. Then as she was speaking to someone else, she said "Seanan's house is unguarded since she's not home."

So I thought, no, that's not Seanan Mcguire. Even though she REALLY looks like her, it must be her sister or something. Then half of my brain piped up, "It is so her." "No it's not. You're going to call her Seanan Mcguire and you're going to be wrong and this wonderful blonde person will be so offended, and then the REAL Seanan will show up and also be offended."

In other to settle the debate before the panel started, I did the unthinkable--I asked. To her credit, she did not laugh at me. I then proceeded to draw a blank on all the things I wanted to say. My brain kicked into high gear, and I did the psycho-fan babble. She was nice and wonderful and encouraging, and didn't back away slowly.

What I didn't say is I had the same doubts about Deliah S. Dawson, Alex Hughes, and James R. Tuck, and only when they were sitting in front of their name badges did I know I was right. 

Oh yes, did I mention? The panel was FILLED with awesome authors. The only author new to me was John Hartness, and he was wonderful. I will definitely be picking up his book.

Here they are, the bright minds of urban fantasy. There was a lot of swearing, as you would imagine.

I don't remember what question Seanan was answering, but I am pretty sure she's talking about chainsaws.

After the panel was over, I went up to swoon over Deliah Dawson, James R. Tuck, and Alex Hughes. And guys, they were so nice! Friendly, welcoming, just...really amazing people. I am still walking around on cloud nine.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Adult: My Thoughts

I've let this post compost in the Drafts section for awhile. I wanted to make sure my thoughts were well thought out, instead of just a reaction to the current articles.

As a result, these links are a few weeks old, but still relevant. You should check them out if you want to find out more about this new genre.

As I tweeted to Sara Megibow, I am honestly a little disappointed that this new genre is being touted as YA with sex. I know that's not all this genre is about; I certainly am not trying to stereotype any of the books or authors coming out. I agree that we needs more YA books that handle sex in an adult manner. We need books about teens and young adults going through their first sexual experiences. I know people think sex in books will encourage kids to have sex, but I don't agree. If they want to read books with sex in them, all they have to do is pick up a romance novel. 

It would be better in the long run if they could read about a character's first experience with sex in a variety of different forms and out comes, and make their own personal decisions from there. I firmly believe we read books for a vicarious experience. I want a book to make me think and see an old topic from a new perspective, but it's also training wheels. I know from reading tons of horror, if there's a crazed serial killer on the loose who wants to kill me dead, I will not go into the darkened basement sans flashlight.

Some of my favorite books growing up were by Judy Blume, who tackled the topic of sex with realism and depth. I watched my friends and associates struggle through their first sexual experiences, and I can't help but think a little more preparation might have been nice. I knew girls who had sex to make a guy like them, because they were curious, because they wanted to get it over with, so they could be better in bed for when their real crush asked them out. Because they thought they were in love, and because they knew they weren't but they wanted to get back at an ex-boyfriend.

I know this would have happened regardless of the amount of sex in YA, but I think if we could have experienced these things through the lens of a character, it might have helped some of us work through our issues (for the record, none of these girls were me. I was terrified of the idea of a guy seeing me naked, so I waited until I was a) older and b) knew I was really in love. There's your TMI for the day.).

So yes, I am all for sex in New Adult. But is that all there is?

What about the entire experience of remaking yourself? What about going through being a responsible adult for the first time? Your entire life up to this point centered around school. Your friends, love interests, and associates were completely dependent upon geography. These days the Internet can fill in some of these gaps, but you can't tell me having three dozen friends on the Internet who like the same things you do will make up for eating lunch at school alone. 

I had friends in high school, but as you know, I am a nerd. I played Dungeons and Dragons. I read fantasy books. I watched a ton of anime. I went to high school during a time these things were not cool. Becoming an adult...I just can't explain the amount of freedom I felt getting out into the real world and no longer being judged (as much) by my reading preferences.

The things they tell you matter in high school (getting good grades, being a jock) no longer matter. The manager at your crappy minimum wage job gives not one single shite that you were a quarterback in high school.

Even if your parents made you pay for stuff, getting an apartment for the first time will not prepare you. It will not prepare you for prioritizing your bills, and realizing after you paid rent, your car note, insurance, and the utilities, you have fifty dollars left to buy food.

If you never went grocery shopping alone, taking that fifty dollars to the store will not prepare you for how little that will actually buy. Let's not even discuss junk food.

I wish there was more emphasis on EVERYTHING there is to learn and figure out about being an adult. Not just the sex part. 

New Adult looks like a promising genre, but I wish there was more focus on other things than just the sex. Because "YA with sexy parts" does not a genre make.

What do you think?

Monday, April 8, 2013

First Lines

Chuck Wendig has a cool flash fiction challenge this week you might want to check out, but that's not why I am posting.

I am posting because if you check out the comments section, you will see three hundred (and counting) first lines. I find it very illuminating to read nothing but first lines. When I was first starting out, I wanted a hooky first line. Something that really punched you in the face. 

And a really hooky first line that works with the rest of the paragraph? That's amazing. But I've learned over the years that coming up with something really hooky isn't as hard as I thought, but connecting it to the rest of the paragraph and story is nearly impossible. A really hooky first line demands your attention. 

For example, one I just made up just now: "The last time I died I thought I would come back as an angel." 

It's pretty crappy, I know, but work with me here. Look at how much attention that sentence calls to itself. "I'm interesting and mysterious! Look, my main character died and came back as something other than an angel! How cool is that??"

Attention is a good thing when a reader is browsing through books at the bookstore. *insert obligatory joke about how bookstores are disappearing and soon we'll have nothing but digital books and it's the bookocalypse* *curls into the fetal position and cries* But if that sentence doesn't flow naturally into the next paragraph, and into the first page and so on, it's got to go. Seriously. Sometimes a more quiet opening line can pack a bigger punch. 

Hooky first lines can be great. The current opening line to Zombie Road Trip is: "The first time I ever raised a dead body was at my grandmother's funeral."

It's still rough, and might change, but for the time being, it flows. The next line is: "It was basically like Night of the Living Dead, the Grandma edition."

Each sentence needs to build on the previous one, or the reader's attention is going to wan. A slight less hooky first line, but one that flows perfectly into the next few lines is much better than a hooky first line that just sits there.

But these are just my thoughts.

What do you think?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Life: It Happens

What is that saying? Life happens when you're making other plans. And that's sort of what happened to me. March sort of got away from me there, but I'm going to do a better job of blogging more frequently. 

Mostly I've been working on edits, trying to catch up on sleep, housework, and other life things. We've had some stress with my husband's job, and the kid is growing like a weed. I've been trying to stay away from spending lots of time on social media, mostly because I have lots of things to do and no time to do them. I still read blog posts and scroll through Twitter to try and stay on top of things, but it's easy to fall behind. And honestly, I hate the feeling that I have to spend hours on the Internet if I need to stay current.

Does that make any sense? Has anyone ever felt that way? Before I had a baby, I would spend hours checking blogs, reading Facebook and Twitter. It's sad how much time I wasted. But once you follow X number of blogs, it feels like you're missing something if you skip a few days. Things happened! Thing you aren't caught up on! You're missing EVERYTHING!


It makes me really anxious. Having a baby forced me to stay away from the publishing blogs for a while, and I realized in the mean time I am much happier if I am not reading posts about editors and agents talking about what's hot, what's not, and what will get your name sent directly into the black list. Maybe my mind made that last part up.

It was hard to write with all those voices in my head. Voices that weren't my characters, that is.

So I'm still trying to find that balance, and it's a work in progress.

That's what I've been up to. How about you? How is spring treating you? Have you ever needed to take a break from the Internet?