Thursday, February 24, 2011

#askagent Conversation Compilation

Checkout this Q&A with writer and agent at D4EO Mandy Hubbard. Lots of other stuff was discussed yesterday under the #askagent hashtag on Twitter yesterday, but I picked out a few threads about crossover, new adult, and what writing YA means. (I reordered the tweets and grouped them- more time-consuming than it sounds!)

Conversation #1

Kelly (that's me!) says @abenning re new adult- I've got the same question. I didn't see a response in #askagent

Mandy says @Kelly_Bryson @abenning what was your Q regarding New Adult? #askagent

Kelly says @MandyHubbard with MC slightly older than YA, do you jump to adult? Do agents believe in new adult concept or can I call it crossover?

Mandy says @Kelly_Bryson If your MC is NOT a teen, it's probably best t call it adult OR age char down-- comes down to voice.

Mandy says @Kelly_Bryson New adult isn't a genre, just a marketing concept by ONE publisher. So that crevice btwn YA/Adult is tough.

Kelly says @MandyHubbard Thanks! That helps. I think my confusion comes in bc I'm paran rom, but the romance stays at a YA level.

Mandy says @Kelly_Bryson ??? What does that even mean-- romance at "YA level"? There's no limitations on romance in YA.

Kelly says @MandyHubbard I thought of that once I sent the tweet;) I've read Perfect chemistry etc.- just meant that it's not Sookie.

Mandy says @Kelly_Bryson oh, haha. Yeah, YA romance can go all the way, just not be super-duper explicit/erotic, so to speak.

Kelly says @MandyHubbard Whew! I thought I was in trouble there for a minute! Thanks for your clarification:)

Conversation #2

Ashley says- @MandyHubbard @Kelly_Bryson Sorry for late response. ? was if MC starts at 17 but is mid-20s when book/series ends,query as YA or New Adult?

Mandy says @abenning that's really really tough. YA series simply dont go to mid-20s. I would rework it, or call it adult if the voice works.

Mandy says @abenning New Adult is NOT a genre, its is a marketing point for adult books by a single publisher.

Ashley says-@MandyHubbard Thanks for the reply. That's exactly what I needed to hear

Conversation #3

Hannahrhooton says @Valerie_Norris @MandyHubbard Just missed #askagent too (not so hot on time differences). Have burning question. Mandy would u be so kind?

Mandy says @hannahrhooton Sure, go ahead and ask! I didn't quite make it to chat by 6AM either. ;-) #askagent

Hannahrhooton says @MandyHubbard Thank you! I write womens comm fic (agent pitching it likewise) but getting popular online reviews from teens. Should I be ...

Hannahrhooton says @MandyHubbard ...concerned that I've written for wrong market? (I'm 30 and it appeals to me!) Thanks again! #askagent

Mandy says @hannahrhooton HA, i went through the same thing. First thing I had agented was women's fiction featuring 20-something characters #askagent

Mandy says @hannahrhooton thing is, its a fine line, and your char's do need to be TEENS for it to be YA. it could just hve crossover appeal #askagent

Conversation #4

Angela asks@MandyHubbard if you have a MC in the college age, 19-20, does that jump into adult or can it stay in YA, like L.A Candy? #askagent

Angela says@MandyHubbard...i'm guessing it comes down to voice? #askagent

Mandy says@angela_francis well, even voice isn't enough if char is 21+. LA candy is a celeb book, pubbed as YA because LCs fans are YA in reply to angela_francis

Angela says@MandyHubbard That's what I thought too, thanks!

Mandy says @angela_francis FEW YA books set in college sell... both to pubs and readers. Just very hard to pull off.

I guess this explains why there are so many YA books set in boarding schools, even in the US, where going to boarding school is pretty unusual! And come to think of it, I can't recall a book set in college. Hmmm. Time to rethink age/setting of my WIP...
I'm officially pro-Twitter. Although I'm not a Twitter pro*wink*, I've now passed the 100 tweet marks and am a lot more comfortable than I was even a month ago. Isn't it cool to be able to sit down on the computer and get a some confusion cleared up? A few years ago, the only way I would have approached an agent was if I was at a conference, and then there would have been a room full of people with their own questions, and I probably would have just listened. Twitter is awesome. Mandy Hubbard is awesome- she probably saved me thirty hours of rewrites by clearing this up early in my new WIP. 
Was anybody else enlightened by this?
Happy Writing! 
Glutton for Punishment?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review of "Red Glove by Holly Black

So, Holly Black. She's amazing, and I never expected it. I'd read some of "The Spiderwick Chronicles," and while they were good, I wasn't blown away. But "The White Cat" was amazing. Here's my recent review. If you haven't read White Cat, you should stop RIGHT NOW and read it.

Okay. So. Cassel is back at school, angry at his mother for emotionally working his best friend, Lila, the daughter of the head of the local Family. In the Godfather sense of the word. He's attempting to have a regular life- trying to overcome his instinct to look at people as marks in a giant con- until Lila's father and the Feds separately approach him, and both sides have enough leverage to make a less confident kid crumble.

Cassel is just so cool. I said this before, but he reminds me of Sawyer from Lost- a smart, unflappable, twisted character that you root for even though practically everything he does is wrong in one way or another. You just want him to win. Because of his relationship with Lila. Because when he has a choice of what to make his brother believe about their relationship, it's that they go out for pizza every Wednesday. It's unexpectedly sweet and sad at times, and Holly Black has created in Cassel one of the most endearing and interesting characters that I've ever met. Put Cassel in a world of Curse Workers and government regulations of workers, a world where everybody is working an angle- it's a great ride.

I looked at the reviews on Goodreads, and it's pretty much unanimous. Great books, both of them.

For the sensitive reader, Cassel lives in a viceful world, but there is no language and the intimate moments are very much a matter of reading between the lines. It's tastefully done.
Glutton for Punishment?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Temptation to ePublish

Are you guys thinking about it too?

There's a growing acceptance of self-epublishing. Check out J.A. Konrath, who is a huge proponent of self-pubbing. Many months ago, I left a comment on his blog that self publishing was all well and good for people like him who've been through the process and know what needs to be done, but that a lot of newbies will end up prematurely publishing out of ignorance, and they won't start with a base of readers like he has, so no thanks.

I'm wondering if I misspoke. I'm still not saying it's the way to go- at this point, if an agent called me, this whole idea would probably evaporate. But some self-pubbed authors are doing quite well. (J.A. Konrath has complied a partial list of authors who are self-epublished and are making money. He gives a lot of details, so check out his blog. It's really interesting.)

If anyone else is getting this meme, make sure you know the whole story. Read this blog by Amanda Hocking (self epublished author who just sold some movie rights to her Trylle Trilogy. Very successful, living the dream, etc.) She basically wants to remind her fans that writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. She's written nineteen books and self epublished only 9 of them. The other TEN aren't ready, she says, and some of them never will be. Holy crud! That's a lot of dues. That's a lot of work.

I'm kindof a do-it-yourself-er in many areas. I taught myself to install light fixtures and do wiring (the building codes in rural PA were a bit lax, so I didn't need to be a licensed electrician). When I want tile, I put it in myself. So it's natural for me to think "I could do the whole marketing/cover/hire an editor thing." I probably could. Not saying I'd be as good as the people that have been doing this for 20+ years, but I could do something above the rank amateur level. (For the record, my book trailer WAS rank amateur, and just for fun. I was learning about the process because it interested me.)

In favor of traditional publishing, I want somebody objective on my team (agent). I want a second (editor) and a third opinion (??? publishing committee co-chair???), because as a writer, I'm still a baby. I've always loved to write and made little picture books and stories as presents-all that stuff- when I was younger, but it's only been the last two years that I've been serious about it. That's really not a long time.

I don't think this is about rejection for me (I don't feel beat down or fed-up or ready to throw in the towel) as much as it is about wanting control and that I have concerns about the changing market. I think a lot of the ebooks (big 6, I'm looking at you) are overpriced, and that it's hurting those authors to not be able to compete. I also worry that a lot of authors are going to regret selling their digital rights, that many will not have rights revert to them after a specified period of time, etc. Lots of stuff I don't *entirely* understand since I'm not a lawyer, but I know enough to be concerned.

What do you guys think? Have you ever been tempted to go out on your own? Is it all about wanting to have a hardcopy on your bookshelf? (That is part of it for me, I'll be honest.) What am I missing?
Glutton for Punishment?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Recharge and Query Update

I've taken a couple of weeks off from writing and read a bunch of books, but I'm almost ready to plunge back into writing "Breathings." It took 30k words to get a handle on the characters (I just figured out that MC's mom is crucial to the MCs oddities), so I kind of want to restart on page one with what I know now, but the other part of me wants to pound out the full first draft. Whatever. The good thing is I'm ready to get back to work.

While I've not been writing, I rewrote my query letter and sent it out to the next batch of agents.

My stats so far-
30 queries sent
9 query rejects
4 requests for partials
1 partial still out, 3 rejected.

This is a little skewed in my favor, because the requests I got were from an agent I pitched, an agent he referred me to, an agent my crit partner signed with, and one was a cold query. 

For those of you preparing to query or just curious, here's my query body:

Dear Agent,

I hope you will be intrigued by my my paranormal romance, WAYS TO FALL. The manuscript is complete at 105,000 words and should appeal to older teens and adults.

Lara, an empath, and her emotionally damaged “sisters” were kidnapped by Mother from their Outsider families and given the gift of immortality. Lara never questions Mother’s policy of suppressing their memories until one sister recalls her life Outside and despairs. Mother curses the young woman with eternal Sleep, insisting there is no other way to protect Lara from absorbing the girl’s feelings. Lara hopes that if she can understand how Outsiders survive their terrible experiences, she can find a way to truly heal her sisters and save their fragile, Edenic world.

Defying Mother, Lara enters the sacred caves and is transported to a sinkhole-turned-crime-scene, where she is arrested by the FBI as a suspected kidnapper. Agent David Hatton, an emotionally detached behavior specialist, is fascinated by the way Lara’s skin changes colors in reaction to his volatile partner’s emotions. He fears Lara will die if he can’t isolate her, so with FBI approval he fakes a rescue from the field office and orders the squad to keep out of Lara’s perception range. Lara and Agent Hatton hike through the quiet woods of North Florida, and their tenuous friendship develops into a soul-deep attraction. When Lara must choose between freeing her sisters and saving Agent Hatton’s life, she discovers the cost of falling, both from Mother’s grace and into love.

I am a member of the Online Writer's Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror and hold a B.S. in psychology from the University of Florida. I currently live in Columbia, SC with my husband and children.

I've included sample pages and a synopsis below.

Thank you,

Kelly Bryson
So, that's it. I'll let you know in a few weeks how it goes.

For those interested, I've read/am reading
  • The Jane Eyre Affair (smart funny, 4 stars),
  • The Blue Sword (LOVED it 5 stars. Thanks for the recommend, Myrna! I've requested the second book from the library),
  • Fever, 1793 (historical kid lit, 5 stars),
  • Fallen (good angel story, if you're into that),
  • Fallen Angel (another good angel story, if you're into that.),
  • Halo (another good angel story, if you're into that),
  • Before I Fall (contemporary YA, good story, well written, not fantastical enough for me. Too much partying to hold my interest),
  • The Prestige (loved the movie, the book was different but very good. Would have been better if I hadn't seen the movie), and I've started
  • City of Saints and Madmen (on pg 10) and
  • The Ranger's Apprentice (just starting, but my 10 yo says, "It's amazing! You have to read it Mom!").

Happy Writing!
Glutton for Punishment?

Monday, February 7, 2011

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night Contest

My apologies for posting so late today, but I had to participate in this contest from Brenda Drake Writes. Sick kids home from school- you understand, right?

Here's the first line of my paranormal romance, WAYS TO FALL.

My small lantern—one of many things Mother had salvaged from the Outside world—made a halo of light around my feet.
I'm looking forward to exchanging crits with you guys! Thanks!
Glutton for Punishment?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review of "The Demon Trapper's Daughter" by Jana Oliver

Released February 1st!

Several things impressed me about this story, but here's the setup: Seventeen year old Riley wants nothing more than to follow in her father's footsteps and become a demon trapper, but there are several good ol' boys in the guild who think that demon hunting is not appropriate for little girls. Or any girls. But she's got good instincts and with her renowned father to guide her, she can take down a level one or two demon at an age when most girls are looking for an after school job and a boyfriend. Not that she would mind a boyfriend. Sigh.

When her dad and his apprentice are tricked by demons working together (something unheard of and against their nature) her father dies, leaving Riley with a load of debt, demons that somehow recognize know her name, and an old crush that doesn't understand that she's not a little kid anymore.

First thing I  loved: Den, short for Denver, is her father's hawt apprentice and Riley used to like him, ages ago. Their strained relationship is great. I love that Denver is a bit of a bad boy who actually does some bad stuff! He's sweet to Riley, much like an older brother, but his personal life isn't so pretty. He drinks, used to smoke before the prices got too high, and he picks up girls in bars. So many YA books have bad boys that only talk tough, but Denver is a perfect mix of light and dark characteristics.

Second thing I love: Riley is tough without being so self-assured that she's unrelatable. She's like Bella meets Lara Croft. Her voice was really strong and I liked spending time with her.

As far as content goes, Den drinks, there are a few scattered curse words. I'd still rate it PG-13. There is a scene where Riley gets sent by her jerk guild master to sell some captured demons in an adult bookstore, and Riley sees some things that make her eyes bug out, but it's presented to the reader mainly through allusions and her reactions(disgust), not a painted picture. I wouldn't give this book to young teens for that reason.

Thanks to "Around the World ARC Tours" for providing this ARC! 
Glutton for Punishment?