That time I outgrew YA

That time I outgrew YA

I started writing YA when I was well within the age range. But these past two years, I’ve been branching out into Game of Thrones and other not YA ilk. Outside reading, I’ve started involvement with human rights and the heavy issues that come with that.  As I creep ever further from the YA realm of 14-18, my perspective has changed a great deal.

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The storylines for my newer WIP’s started centering around different characters, darker themes. (But don’t worry, Haddie and Janir are safe.) I started toying with several ideas that cast young parents and widows in protagonist status—both generally considered no-no’s in YA. Truth be told, I feared I was growing out of my beloved genre.

Then not too long ago, I realized how much I missed certain things about YA. Young Adult characters, with scant exception, still believe the world can be changed for good, that there’s something worth fighting for. There’s a kind of innocence that’s rare in adult fiction and I had missed that so, so badly.

woman-1413054_960_720That was when I remembered the magic of YA, why it so successfully transcends age barriers. The thing is, we are all or have been young. We’ve all experienced or are experiencing some form of learning about the world, ourselves, and relationships. (Though people assure me that learning never really stops.) YA is so universal and successful for that very reason.

Loving and reading YA doesn’t mean you don’t dabble in other things. What’s more, YA itself covers a vast array of subgenres and issues. Whether you want to read something philosophical, sarcastic, humorous, contemporary, historical, speculative, surreal, or just about anything,  I guarantee the Young Adult section has it. There are very few limits on what it includes these days and the only consistent feature is protagonist age.

book-1149031_960_720Every so often, I want to read something about “grown-ups” screwing the world over, but I can still love YA. It stays there, like your high school best friend who still calls even after you both start grad school.

Truth is, I don’t think it’s possible to outgrow YA. That’s like saying you can outgrow ice cream.

Want to be a writer?

“I’ve always wanted to write a book” or some derivative comes my way about once a month and my advice remains the same: Do it. And forget advice—yes, forget advice.

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There’s nothing wrong with seeking a community and people who can help you hone your craft. Even Stephen King needs editors and critiques. You will need feedback for the rest of your life, but you don’t have to rush in.

When I was first starting out, I was pretty much isolated from the writing community. That was a good thing. Once I joined, I met some amazing people, but if I hadn’t already been so committed, the other kind would have scared me off.

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For reasons beyond me, a lot of veteran writers (other artists, too) treat it as their personal responsibility to decide who “should” be in their field. There’s this unspoken loathing for the newcomers who “think it’s easy” (though I’m guessing you already know better). But who cares how many typos there are? If you get to those magical words—The End—you’ve already surpassed most the world and deserve a round of applause.

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Don’t waste your time with bridge trolls who attack newcomers. Find some helpful fairy who points you in the right direction. Or just become a hermit for a few years like I did.

Ultimately, you are an individual, original human being and no one else can tell the story in your heart. I’ve seen far too many people with genuine talent give up. This is a high investment, often low return business and it’s easy to get discouraged. So keep your chin up, work on that thick skin, and remember you are the only person in existence who can write that book.

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But above all else, keep writing, keep writing, KEEP WRITING.

Writing Update: July 2016

Summer: when Texas gets hot as the guts of Mt. Doom and the mosquitoes are everywhere.  People become suddenly hard to get a hold of and the only good thing is it’s light out when I wake up. Regardless, the Muse has been hard at work.

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Behold!

You all might have noticed that The Secrets of the Vanmars has been polished and re-released with a new cover. It’s exclusive to Kindle right now, but come September will be returning to all platforms. Yay!

Otherwise, I’m trimming some body fat (aka profusive adjectives, unnecessary characters/subplots, and dialogue tags) from The Chalice of Malvron while the cover designers tweak the new face for it. Getting these damn covers made has been a saga unto itself and I’ve come to intimately understand the phrase “good help is hard to find.” But that’s a story for another time.

We did have some grand excitement last week when The Key of Amatahns hit #1 on the Amazon lists during a free promotion. Whoo-hoo! Happy reading to everyone who downloaded.

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Baby’s taking over the world, folks.

Fanged Princess will also be getting some new covers in time for the third novella’s release and when that happens greatly depends on when this mess with Janir’s books clears up. Regardless, I do plan to have something to show you around October. That would be fun, right? A Halloween cover reveal party? The possibilities are endless…

Daindreth’s Assassin has been out querying to agents and I’ve gotten a message from another Pinterest follower expressing eagerness for that story. There are one or two factual things that need correcting (e.g. Amira kind of walks off a severe head wound in chapter #2), but I’m excited to see what will be happening there.

In other news, I’m moving into the dorms of Concordia University Texas this fall. No, I have no clue who my roommates will be, but I’m looking forward to a fresh start. I’m getting together my hangers and lamps and other fun stuff and putting together some quotes for the corkboard over my desk.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some search and destroy—er—search and delete to do.

How to (legally) get free books

There have been times when I found myself torn between wanting books and wanting electricity. But if you’re willing to look, there are still lots of ways to snag reading material without breaking the bank or the law.

-Request an advance review copy from the author/publisher

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If you’re interested starting a book blog, most publishers will post sign ups on NetGalley where you can apply to receive copies of books to review. Indie authors are frequently searching for reviewers as well and will let you know on their websites/newsletters. For example, Erica Stevens gives the option for free review copies of new titles to all her newsletter subscribers.

-eBook freebies

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You can read eBooks on your smartphone via the free Kindle app and it opens up a cornucopia of possibilities. Lots of indie authors (and traditional publishers) have started giving away eBooks as promotional copies. There are lots of options here. You can sign up for newsletters like Bookbub, keep an eye out for mention of promotional days on an author’s social media, check on their website to see if they have any freebies, or go to Amazon’s “free” category in your favorite genre.

-Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult eBooks
-Best Sellers in Christian Fantasy eBooks
-Best Sellers in Fantasy eBooks
-Teen & Young Adult Medieval Fiction eBooks
-Teen & Young Adult Sword & Sorcery Fantasy eBooks
-Asian Myths and Legends eBooks
-Arthurian Fantasy eBooks

-Read to review

There are Goodreads groups, Facebook groups, and co-ops that arrange free books for folk in exchange for reviews. While I don’t have any specific ones to recommend, they are out there and I know some people have had good experiences. However, this can be a bit of a toss-up as far as quality, though Goodreads does offer regular giveaways.

-Libraries

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While I do generally prefer being able to keep my books forever and ever, the vast selection and options are amazing. Be sure to check here first if the book you want is traditionally published. Even if the library doesn’t have the book you want, they can sometimes order books through partnerships with other libraries. It never hurts to ask!

Just in the course of getting all the links together for this post, I have more than ten new books for my ever-growing TBR. There is an almost endless supply of books out there, just waiting to be read and in this digital age, plenty of them are free!

So go forth, fear not for your wallets.

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The woman I want to be

I’ve thought a great deal about who I want to be and how I want the world to perceive me. After plenty of soul searching, I know  I want to be the woman who is kind with a sense of humor.

The princess.

And the protectress.

Loyal and passionate.

Feminine.

But who also takes no crap and doesn’t need special favors from the boys to make things fair.

And who will stab you in the face if you screw with me.

Éowyn. I want to be Éowyn.

The Romance Paradox

I like romance, but I don’t like romance. Do you see the problem? Well, I have also found the perfect solution.

For a while there, I was really into Young Adult Paranormal Romance. The evidence is all over this blog and Goodreads, but I got tired of it pretty quick for the same reason I tired of chick flicks: there is one story. After a few (dozen) books, I recognized a definitive formula to all romance novels (they literally teach it at RWA conferences) and it just wasn’t for me.

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Thing is, I still like love stories. I have a certain level of romantic in me that refuses to be denied. Despite an affinity for military history, Machiavelli, and Clausewitz, I am still a girl. It’s just bloody hard to find a love story I like.

Have long adored hardcore action stories, but I never wanted to be the hero’s girlfriend, I wanted to be his lieutenant. The one who survives to the end, saves his sorry hide when he gets in a fix, then ends up taking his place to outwit the Lannisters, defend Troy, or drive the Narens from Lucel-Lor,  or lead the Rohirriam.

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The solution to wanting a surprising, action-filled storyline that examines a wide array of relationships besides romantic (but still includes romance!)? For me it was—what else?—Epic Fantasy. The Tyrants and Kings series by John Marco had the perfect level of romance. Same with the Shadowmarch books by Tad Williams, Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms and the Mistborn trilogy.

I highly recommend "The Jackal of Nar" by John Marco to anyone seeking the emotional equivalent of a wood chipper.

I especially appreciate how people in Epic Fantasy are a lot quicker to figure out when their romance isn’t worth causing the apocalypse—unlike people in some genres. *coughcough*

So if, like me, you crave complicated storylines, complex characters, and some swooning on top, allow me to suggest your local bookstore’s Epic Fantasy section. (In a wholly objective and unbiased manner, of course.)

Mini Review: Fallen Embers (The Alterra Histories, #2) by C.S. Marks @CSMarks_Alterra

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 Rain–King and warrior, stern and duty-bound.
Who could have foreseen he would ever encounter the one who would change his life forever?
But he does.

How much of a man’s world, how much of his life will he risk to possess everything he has ever wanted?

From the creator of the beloved World of Alterra comes
A tale of passion and determination, of sacrifice and courage
For Rain has found a foe he cannot overcome with sword or strategy.
Now he must battle an enemy none can defeat.
Now he will battle Fate itself.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

This is the first of the Elfhunter books I’ve read, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. It’s labeled as the second in a novella series, but the blurb claimed it could be read on its own, so I went ahead and grabbed it. The blurb was right, the story made perfect sense and now I want to read the novels.

The plot:

I knew how it was going to end. I knew it. I still went through the denial/bargaining stages. I think I’m still going through the bargaining stage, it’s a side effect of too much Supernatural. This is a novella, so the story is short. There is a decent amount of world building, but I suspect there will be more in the full length books.

The characters:

The main focus of the story is Gaelen and Farahin/Ri-Elathan and their tragic love affair. I adored Gaelen because she was just so sweet and innocent, but at the same time brave and courageous. I felt terrible for Farahin, probably because he reminded me of King Arthur with his wisdom and kindness. After millennia of loneliness, he’d finally found his mate and then…

I figured out the gist of how the story would end by reading the blurb, so I’m assuming I’m not spoiling it for you all.

Sometimes I think authors should just cut my heart out and be done with it.

Find Fallen Embers on Goodreads

Find Fallen Embers on Amazon