Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Temporary Break from Blog Land

Hello readers,

We've been undergoing some radical reorganization at the agency due to computer and network failure, both of which have been operating only intermittently. So, apologies for not updating you sooner, but we promise to return to our regular postings by Friday, Oct. 15. And we've got plenty of projects in the making, so stay tuned!

However, we do have some exciting news for our very own A.M. Dellamonica. Indigo Springs was the winner of the 2010 Sunburst Awards! This highly prized award is for Canadian Literature for the Fantastic. Dellamonica was competing with big name authors such as Charles de Lint and Cory Doctorow. Congrats Alyx!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Querying for a Series

First, one must acknowledge ones utter and complete absence from the digiverse. One month off the blogosphere and it feels like a dead-zone!

This here blog, I doth declare, is about the series phenomenon. Okay, not so phenomenal. In fact...sometimes downright scary! For an agent that is. I'm talking about one thing right now: Do we agents want to read that you have written your sixth book in a twelve book series? Don't we want to know that you have a never ending Old Faithful of Imagination?


We agents do NOT want to hear that you have written twelve books and that you are proudly submitting #6. You wanna know why? Because I don't want to have to read Books 1-5 just to understand Book 6. And in most cases it's worse if the other books have been published before (traditional or self). 

If they've been published by a traditional publisher before, then it's likely that they were dropped because of sales. Not many publishers are going to want to pick up a book in a series that didn't do well in the first place. "But it didn't get the right marketing!" you might say. And you might be right. No matter, numbers are numbers. 

If you've self-published the first five books and Book 6 is knock-my-socks-off stellar, a traditional publisher isn't going to want to have Books 1-5 out there for free while Book 6 is on the shelves at B&N, so really you're back to square one...or Book 1, that is. And maybe Book 1 just kinda stank. 

So you're best bet when querying -if you intend for your ms to be part of a series- is to say something like, "Though I have written this book as the first in a series, it can also work as a stand alone novel."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Author Tip #7: Creating Voice

Yes, we all love a book with a good, strong voice. But...what does that mean, exactly? Let's say you are writing in 1st person POV. That's certainly the easiest way to create voice (though not to say it is easy). How do you create this elusive voice? My first answer would be to really make sure you know your character. Is s/he strong willed? Funny? Sarcastic? Sweet?

Spicing up your narrative with the occasional dose of humor (if appropriate to the story) may be a  good way to create voice. Funny is hard, though. If you are writing YA, don't just read everything that's out there in the genre to determine what is funny to teens today - though that's a great way to start. Watch the successful movies and TV shows that have humor that works for that age group too. 

Sarcasm. A very common way to provide voice to a teen protagonist. Of course, right? All teens respond to sarcasm. IMO, there is witty sarcasm and then there is just plain mean, non-witty sarcasm. If you're doing that second one chances are your main character is going to be really unlikeable.  Ask yourself, if I were to have a conversation with my protagonist, would I want to listen to them go on and on for another 200+ pages? If the answer is no, you need a new voice. Also, keep in mind that a lot of other people are trying to write similar, angst-ridden hormone-driven characters. Maybe your protagonist is special. How?

How else can you create voice? There are more subtle ways than those two. Maybe your character is just sugar and spice and everything nice. A really sweet girl, who never thinks a bad thing about anyone. So much opportunity for her to make excuses for and misread the people around her! That's her voice! TaDa. 

As I said, know your character. Let him/her speak to you, and know the lens through which they see the world. How will they react? Let those things be the clues you need when creating voice. -AH

Monday, June 14, 2010

Author Tip #6: 2, 3, 4, 5

Picture a literary agency or, for that matter, a publishing house. Picture it as a gnarly, gnashing, gaping maw into which everyone and anyone -- staffer, intern, service provider, cleaner, random member of the general public, lost kitten and stray dog – is compelled to shove as many sheets of paper as s/he can as fast as s/he can. Half of publishing is filing those sheets of paper.

Nowadays, of course, we're all on our virtual way, and many of these sheets appear first on our screens, Manifestations of the Virtual Universe . Virtual paper is a good thing, insofar as it goes. It saves trees, opens up space and cuts down on litter. It's also easier to organize and store than the real thing.

Sadly, however, working with it requires a device that displays text, and that introduces a sheaf of potential difficulties, not the least of which are Big Butt, Humpback, Stiff Neck, Dead Foot, Prickly Foot, Carpel Tunnel and Red Eye and Glue Eye. Therefore, those of us working constantly with manuscripts that may be hundreds of pages long are often moved to Print Out our documents. I put my pages face up in a box, and turn them over one by one into the box's lid as I read. This would work well, if I were a machine, but I am nothing if not organic. I incline to disorganization.

Invariably, the sequence of pages is lost. And half the time, it turns out the pages ARE NOT NUMBERED. Whole half hours may be swallowed, gone forever, in the ensuing paper shuffles.

People, many people, submit manuscript without numbering the pages. And in that blithe moment when I hit the print button, I blot out the memory of the insanity of it. Nor I do not see it when I glance at the stack; in accordance with tradition, cover sheets and first pages are not numbered.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Cartooga! Zorth! Boolakey and Kindo!

Wow! You guys basically hit (all) the nail(s) on the head, but I'm going to add a few things... 

Here we have it, the verdict on my bizarre little pitch. In Linn's words, "There is no actual connection between sentence one and sentence two."  

When King Zorth of the Quadrons son Cartooga, a half-Boolakey, half-Kindo bastard is thrown into the dungeons on the planet Honpoog, a political nightmare ensues between the Zorths and their blood enemy, the bloodthirsty  Mamyziths. Aided by Zorth's son's friend's, Omipoko the Goolgish, Kinsana the Filtrye, and their omnipedded furry friend HoofHoof, the fellowship enters the dragon's lair to rescue the bastard prince of Cartooga.   

The first sentence is like a pitch in and of itself (albeit a bad one). What about that political nightmare when it comes to the fellowship? These are two different stories.  

The Intern's comments are awesome too:
  • The first sentence is incomprehensible - I'm exhausted by the end.
  • Cartooga is the son? Or is he the place? Zorth a name or a people? Inconsistent!
  • (My favorite) All these names tell me nothing. What the heck is a (or where the heck) is a Quadron? A Boolakey? Kindo? None of these words mean anything to me? Leave 'em out! Who cares!
  • Is the dragon's lair metaphorical? (In SF, you have to be ubercareful about your metaphors. There really could be a dragon!)
  • (another of my faves) What is the plot?
  • The second sentence: GRAMMAR!!! Who is being aided by whom? As it presently stands, the fellowship is being aided by the fellowship.     
TADA. Writing a query is tough, but writing one that seeks to describe a whole new world has its own set of problems. Keep it simple. Remember that the person reading your query hasn't been to this world. Try and take me there. These are still characters and places, though they may have scales and live in upside-down trees on the planet, oh nevermind.  -AH

Monday, June 7, 2010

Author Tip #5: The Imagination is Vast...The Query is Not

When I first started here, I was amazed by the places and people authors had invented and included in the query. On the one hand, I really do want to know how well thought out and constructed your new world is. On the other hand, how much can really get across in a 250 word query letter? I would open the mail and see things like this:

When King Zorth of the Quadrons son Cartooga, a half-Boolakey, half-Kindo bastard is thrown into the dungeons on the planet Honpoog, a political nightmare ensues between the Zorths and their blood enemy, the bloodthirsty  Mamyziths. Aided by Zorth's son's friend's, Omipoko the Goolgish, Kinsana the Filtrye, and their omnipedded furry friend HoofHoof, the fellowship enters the dragon's lair to rescue the bastard prince of Cartooga. 

This little gem is a snippet of my own unruly imagination, but can anyone tell me what's wrong with this picture? I'd like to open the floor and see what you all think about my pitch. Linn is going to weigh in later, after we get some feedback from other authors. 

I'll eat you with my killer x-ray eyes if you do this! ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

MYTHOPOEIC AWARDS, posted by Linn Prentis

Kage Baker’s HOTEL UNDER THE SAND is a middle-reader published by Tachyon Press, and was originally developed as a personal project as a chapter-by-chapter gift to a young niece experiencing some difficult years. It has been nominated for the Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature.  We hope, of course, that she wins, but the nomination alone is a signal honor.  It establishes Baker in the league of fantasy’s finest -- where, of course, she belongs.

As this and many other sites, conferences and publications, are giving so much time and attention to what the French are calling Bit Lit –- tales focused on the lives and loves of persons with fangs and their ilk – I think it appropriate to use this space to remind readers of the classics, the great works of U.S. fantasy publishing, a phenomenon some may not know not only honors the works of Tolkien but actually, historically, began with their publication.

The Mythopoeic Society is a national/international organization promoting the study, discussion, and enjoyment of fantastic literature. It is especially interested in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams, prominent members of the informal Oxford literary circle known as the “Inklings” (1930s-1950s).

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature is given to the previous year’s fantasy novel, series or single-author story collection that best exemplifies “the spirit of the Inklings”. 

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature honors books for younger readers (from “Young Adults” to picture books for beginning readers), in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia. Rules for eligibility are otherwise the same as for the Adult literature award.

The award for publications for adults began in 1971.  The Award for Children’s Literature was first given in 1992. All the winners and nearly all the nominees are named here.   The list appears here with the permission of:
David Oberhelman
Mythopoeic Awards Administrator
E-mail: awards@mythsoc.org

The 2010 Finalists:
Adult Literature
Barbara Campbell, Trickster’s Game trilogy consisting of Heartwood, Bloodstone, and Foxfire (DAW)
Greer Gilman, Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter’s Tales (Small Beer Press)
Robert Holdstock, Avilion (Gollancz)
Catherynne M. Valente, Palimpsest (Spectra)
Jo Walton, Lifelode (NESFA Press)

Children’s Literature
Kage Baker, The Hotel Under the Sand (Tachyon)
Shannon Hale, Books of Bayern consisting of The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, and Forest Born (Bloomsbury)
Grace Lin, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown)
Malinda Lo, Ash (Little, Brown)
Lisa Mantchev, Eyes Like Stars (Feiwel & Friends)

The following is a year-by-year list of the all the  final ballot nominees for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards. The books placed first on each year’s list(s) and marked with asterisks were the winners.

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart *
The Marvellous Misadventures of Sebastian by Lloyd Alexander
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz
Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

Red Moon and Black Mountain by Joy Chant *
Grendel by John Gardner
The Tsaddik of the Seven Wonders by Isidore Haiblum
The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Corum Trilogy by Michael Moorcock
The Light Maze by Joan North
The Forest of Forever by Thomas Burnett Swann
The Children of Llyr by Evangeline Walton

The Song of Rhiannon by Evangeline Walton *
Dancer from Atlantis by Poul Anderson
Deryni Checkmate by Katherine Kurtz
The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin
Green Phoenix by Thomas Burnett Swann
The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny

The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart *
Hrolf Kraki’s Saga by Poul Anderson
The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
Excalibur by Sanders Anne Laubenthal
High Deryni by Katherine Kurtz

A Midsummer Tempest by Poul Anderson *
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
Merlin’s Ring by H. Warner Munn
How Are the Mighty Fallen by Thomas Burnett Swann
Prince of Annwn by Evangeline Walton

Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien *
The Grey Mane of Morning by Joy Chant
The Wounded Land by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin
Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn

Little, Big by John Crowley *
Delusion’s Master by Tanith Lee
The Woman Who Loved the Moon by Elizabeth A. Lynn
The Many-colored Land by Julian May
The Sable Moon by Nancy Springer
Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe

The Firelings by Carol Kendall *
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The One Tree by Stephen R. Donaldson
Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings
God Stalk by P.C. Hodgell
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley
Lady of Light by Diana L. Paxson
The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce

When Voiha Wakes by Joy Chant *
other nominees not available

Cards of Grief by Jane Yolen *
Moonheart by Charles de Lint
The Damiano Trilogy by R.A. McAvoy
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
The Book of Lost Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart *
Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly
Dark of the Moon by P.C. Hodgell
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Wandering Unicorn by Manuel Mujica Lainez

The Folk of the Air by Peter S. Beagle *
The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
Tales from the Flat Earth by Tanith Lee
Merlin’s Booke by Jane Yolen

Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card *
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy
Lincoln’s Dreams by Connie Willis

Unicorn Mountain by Michael Bishop *
The Last Coin by James P. Blaylock
Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card
The Nightingale by Kara Dalkey
The White Raven by Diana L. Paxson
Walkabout Woman by Michaela Roessner

The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers *
Prentice Alvin by Orson Scott Card
The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip
The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy
Fool on the Hill by Matt Ruff

Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner *
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin
Only Begotten Daughter by James Morrow
The Books of Great Alta by Jane Yolen

A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason *
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
Moonwise by Greer Ilene Gilman
The Sorceress and the Cygnet by Patricia A. McKillip
Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie *
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville
Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones
Elsewhere by Will Shetterly
Song of the Gargoyle by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen *
The Paper Grail by James P. Blaylock
Last Call by Tim Powers
The Grail of Hearts by Susan Shwartz
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Knight’s Wyrd by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald *
The Ancient One by T.A. Barron
Jennifer Murdley’s Toad by Bruce Coville
Hobkin by Peni R. Griffin
Fish Soup by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Porcelain Dove by Delia Sherman *
The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle
The Cygnet and the Firebird by Patricia A. McKillip
Deerskin by Robin McKinley
The Kingdom of Kevin Malone by Suzy McKee Charnas *
The Mystery of the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Nevernever by Will Shetterly
Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Something Rich and Strange by Patricia A. McKillip *
The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean
The Hollowing by Robert Holdstock
Temporary Agency by Rachel Pollack
Owl in Love by Patrice Kindl *
The Princess and the Lord of Night by Emma Bull
Switching Well by Peni R. Griffin
A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories by Robin McKinley
Good Griselle by Jane Yolen

Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand *
Brittle Innings by Michael Bishop
All the Bells on Earth by James P. Blaylock
The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia A. McKillip
The Dragon Path by Kenneth Morris
The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones *
The Boggart by Susan Cooper
Falcon’s Egg by Luli Gray
Wren’s War by Sherwood Smith
The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh

(Adult and Children’s Awards combined)
The Wood Wife by Terri Windling *
One for the Morning Glory by John Barnes
Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip
Fair Peril by Nancy Springer
The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe

The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A.S. Byatt *
Giant Bones by Peter S. Beagle
Trader by Charles de Lint
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Gift by Patrick O’Leary
Young Merlin trilogy by Jane Yolen (consisting of Passager, Hobby and Merlin) *
The Boggart and the Monster by Susan Cooper
A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar
Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess *
Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint
The History of our World Beyond the Wave by R.E. Klein
Song for the Basilisk by Patricia A. McKillip
The High House by James Stoddard
Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diane Wynne Jones *
Heavenward Path by Kara Dalkey
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
The Squire’s Tale by Gerald Morris
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle *
Elementals by A.S. Byatt
Dark Cities Underground by Lisa Goldstein
The Wild Swans by Peg Kerr
The Book of Knights by Yves Meynard
The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley *
Skellig by David Almond
The Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Kingdom series by Cynthia Voigt

The Innamorati by Midori Snyder *
ravenShadow by Win Blevins
Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint
The Sarantine Mosaic (Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors) by Guy Gavriel Kay
Aria of the Sea by Dia Calhoun *
Night Flying by Rita Murphy
Beast by Donna Jo Napoli
Growing Wings by Laurel Winter
Boots and the Seven Leaguers by Jane Yolen

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold *
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Ill Met by Moonlight by Sarah A. Hoyt
The Other Wind by Ursula K. Le Guin
Declare by Tim Powers
The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson *
The Wizard’s Dilemma by Diane Duane
Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip *
A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman
Summerland by Michael Chabon *
Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black
House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

Sunshine by Robin McKinley *
Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
Fudoki by Kij Johnson
Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin
In the Forests of Serre by Patricia A. McKillip
The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle *
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke *
The Anvil of the World by Kage Baker
Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand
Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip
The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe consisting of (The Knight and The Wizard)
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett *
Arthur Trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland (consisting of The Seeing Stone, At the Crossing Places, and King of the Middle March)
Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
Trilogy consisting of Wise Child, Juniper, and Colman by Monica Furlong
The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix (consisting of Sabriel, Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr, and Abhorsen)

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman *
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold
Metallic Love by Tanith Lee
The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl by Tim Pratt
The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud * (consisting of The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye, and Ptolemy’s Gate)
Valiant by Holly Black
Wizards at War by Diane Duane
By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle

Patricia A. McKillip, Solstice Wood (Ace Books) *
Peter S. Beagle, The Line Between (Tachyon Publications)
Susanna Clarke, The Ladies of Grace Adieu (Bloomsbury USA)
Keith Donohue, The Stolen Child (Nan A. Talese)
Susan Palwick, The Necessary Beggar (Tor)
Tim Powers, Three Days to Never (William Morrow)
Catherine Fisher, Corbenic (Greenwillow) *
Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Spirits That Walk in Shadow (Viking)
Diana Wynne Jones, The Pinhoe Egg (Greenwillow)
Martine Leavitt, Keturah and Lord Death (Front Street)
Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith (HarperTeen)

Catherynne M. Valente, Orphan’s Tales * (consisting of In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice) (Spectra)
Theodora Goss, In the Forest of Forgetting (Prime Books)
Nalo Hopkinson, The New Moon’s Arms (Grand Central Publishing)
Guy Gavriel Kay, Ysabel (Roc)
John C. Wright, Chronicles of Chaos (consisting of Orphans of Chaos, Fugitives of Chaos, and Titans of Chaos) (Tor)
J.K. Rowling, The Harry Potter series * (Bloomsbury)
Holly Black, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale (Simon & Schuster); Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie (Simon & Schuster); Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale (Margaret K. McElderry)
Derek Landy, Skulduggery Pleasant (HarperCollins)
Nancy Springer, Dusssie (Walker Books for Young Readers)
Kate Thompson, The New Policeman (HarperTeen)

Carol Berg, Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone * (Roc)
Daryl Gregory, Pandemonium (Del Rey)
Ursula K. Le Guin, Lavinia (Harcourt)
Patricia A. McKillip, The Bell at Sealey Head (Ace)
Gene Wolfe, An Evil Guest (Tor)
Kristin Cashore, Graceling * (Harcourt Children’s Books)
Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins)
Diana Wynne Jones, House of Many Ways (HarperCollins)
Ingrid Law, Savvy (Dial)
Terry Pratchett, Nation (HarperCollins)

Friday, May 28, 2010

The YA Love Interest(s)

I adore reading young adult fiction, and I know how rare it is to find a YA book without some sort of love interest. It makes sense; teens are crushing and they want their reading experience to reflect that. (Read: Vampires, the ultimate in unrequited love. Talk about a "crush.") Still, I wonder about all the triangles happening these days. 

Since when did having to decide between two potentials become the only way to deepen a protagonist's emotion? Maybe readers just enjoy identifying with a protagonist who is so loved. Still, what happened to just deciding if you love the guy in the first place? Maybe real love in the YA genre is DOA. I mean, when does all this mushy stuff happen? In the cafeteria? Talking about homework? In PE, while ducking a red rubber ball during dodge-ball? That's hot. 

Sure, there's something to be said for love at first sight. But I for one would like to see more development going on between the two would-be lovers, than a half-baked "pick me" "no pick me" conflict-for-the-sake-of-conflict. 

What do you all think? Triangles you thought were successful? Unsuccessful? Do you find them frustrating? A cheap way to thicken the conflict? Post your thoughts on this one! - AH

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vampires and Other Super(duper)naturals: Their Present and Their Future

In follow up to a post that will likely continue as a three part series, I ask the question - Why Supernatural? Why Now? Some authors at the BEA had a few things to say about it. The panel Paranormal Fiction for Teens: From Vampires to Werewolves to Zombies and Shape Shifters featured Richelle Mead, author of the VAMPIRE ACADEMY series; Andrea Cremer author of NIGHTSHADE; Holly Black: WHITE CAT and ZOMBIES vs UNICORNS, and Ivy Devlin, author of LOW RED MOON.

Two interesting points:
  1. The idea of a transformation that occurs at the result of an uncontrollable emotion. (Certainly as a teen, I too might have been called  beastly by mom.)
  2. The consequences of that change: unintentionally hurting those around you. Also, part of the teen experience for many. 
I'll add to the list this: Immortality. My teenage years were filled with scary, stupid, reckless decisions. I never thought I was immortal, but the issue of mortality just didn't apply to me yet. Did I want to be immortal? Sure. Why not. Bring it on. More time to finish my homework. I think that being absorbed in a story that has to potential to go on forever is highly attractive, not just to teens. 

Later, I asked Richelle Mead what her thoughts on the future of these immortal beings may be. It's her belief that the way in which the creatures are presented to readers will shift, but still remain popular. I'd go along with that. I'd also say that all things wax and wane and while we are in a period where this is it, all things find their turn at the bottom of the wheel. Eventually, that is. Rome had a pretty long run. 

Will it happen soon? "Our list isn't indicating it will," say on of Big 5's publicity professional. 

There you have it, folks. 
-Amy Hayden 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Key Lime Pie and a Nebula

It was very good that TWONG -- known to people who are neither myself nor Kathleen Bartholomew, sister to the late, great Kage Baker, as THE WOMEN OF NELL GWYNN’S -- won its Nebula for best Novella last weekend at Nebulas Weekend in Cocoa Beach. The story wasn’t An All Time Favorite among the family, but it’s solid. And winning mattered a lot to me and Kathleen, who is old enough and experienced enough to know that an author wins an award when it’s time for her to win.

Fortunately, when three people had approached Kathleen and told her that, really, the nomination wasn’t the SF Literati equivalent of a belated pity fuck, she asked me what to think. I said they were telling the truth and she should believe them. So she did.

That is she did, until we opened the program at the banquet/awards event and saw that Kage’s bio piece had been omitted. She was livid. Truly. But like her sister, Kathleen is a lady, so I knew it wasn’t likely she’d lose it. I started to cry, but I was crying for her, so I followed her example and sucked it up.

But seated on Kathleen’s right was somebody who must be on the list for the coolest guy in fandom: Steven Silver. I’d never met him before and, actually, didn’t then, but he had a job at the banquet, and that job was troubleshooting. Nice man. And handsome, dressed in a dinner jacket with studs and links. The table kept track of how many minutes Steven was in his seat and how many he was out bagging troubles large and small; his longest stay at the table was seven minutes. Anyway, Steve apologized to Kate for the omission, and he meant it. Which was good; as he did not make the mistake, but, if he were OCD, he could have caught it. But he did think it was a shame. Also, he promised that the piece would appear somewhere else, though I couldn’t hear where.

Then we had Key lime pie.
Then we won!
And then we saw it was the most gorgeous Nebula ever!

--Linn Prentis

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Author Tip #4: What's your problem?

No, not your problem, per se - the problem of your main character. The biggest issue I find when reading queries, and the reason why I choose not to request more material, is that I just can't figure out what the central conflict of the plot is. 

So sit down, Authors, and think: What does my main character need to accomplish? Is there a problem that he/she needs to solve? Sure this may sound a bit formulaic. It is. If your story is more character driven, you may need to approach this differently. But for those of you who are writing high-concept manuscripts, really think about it. If you don't know, then you really do have a problem.

Signing off,
Amy Hayden 

PS: A secret revealed is not, and cannot, be the plot. For example, the plot of Harry Potter isn't that he learns he's a born wizard. It's that he must defeat Lord _______ (hey, I'm superstitious). See? Maybe the reveal of the secret is the impetus for the rest of the novel; if so, tell me what comes next. How does this change the character's life? 

Good luck!