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!

Friday, May 7, 2010

How Vampires are like Uggs, and why Supernatural Ain't Going Away

This is going to be a longer post in the future, but the question is worth some thought I think.

So WTF is UP with all this paranormal? I love it, personally, but I know that the publishing industry as a whole is seeing it as ratha' droll these days. Who cares, ey!? Bring on the silly bloodsucking creatures of the night! Here's my take on it all. 

It's like UGGS. 

Yeah, you heard me. First they were, like, all the rage, you know? And then everyone was all "Ugh, those things are sooo hideous. Ugg is for UGLY." And people got defensive, "What are you talking about? They're so comfortable." (Like sappy vampire love stories, UGGs make us feel good.) And then, people got over it. They decided to suck it up (muahahaha) and go along. Sure, there are few remaining fortresses of "those losers," but UGGs have become a staple, and are no longer a fad.

So step aside Publishing Giants, I think Supernatural is here to stay. The bubble won't burst, it will become a staple. Just like Uggs. 

Signing off (without my Uggs - it's way to hot unless you're from California),
Amy Hayden