Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Teen Boy Readers: What They Like and What They Wish Writers Knew

Big thanks to everyone for your support with my latest release, The Summer of Crossing Lines! Also, my redesigned web site is live and looking fresh. If you want to check it out, click here.

I have twin 14-year-old sons who will be high school freshmen this year. *sigh* I honestly can't believe my little premie boys will be in 9th grade.

As a writer of YA novels, it's helpful to have teen sons in the house. As kids head back to school, I thought it would be fun to ask both of my boys and two of their friends some questions about what teen readers like and what they wish writers knew. It's good for writers to hear from their target readers, yes? So here's Nathan, Loker, Blake, and Garrett.

1) What are your favorite types of stories? Science Fiction? Fantasy? Dystopian? Real life/contemporary?

Nathan: "I don't care too much about the type of book as long as it is fun to read. But if I had to pick something that would immediately catch my attention, it would be Dystopian."

Loker: "As long as it catches my attention, I'll be glad to read just about anything. But I like Dystopian because it's a twisted version of our world. I like fantasy because it's a completely new world."

Blake: "Fantasy, because they let me get lost in a book and a new world."

Garrett: "Dystopian, because those plots are interesting and keep me in suspense. They show a messed up world that can possibly happen. I like fantasy because I like the thought of an imaginary world."

2) Do you like to read "older" books--books with main characters who are older than you?

Nathan: Yes is the simple answer, but they can also be my age. Once again, if it's well written, I'll read almost any book."

Loker: "If I can find a book with characters who are my age, I'm glad because I can picture myself as the character. If I had to choose between characters who are younger or older than me, I'd choose older."

Blake: "Sometimes. But the age of the character doesn't matter to me, as long as the story is good."

Garrett: "Yes, because those characters are more mature and they can think through problems."

3) What do you wish writers knew about teen readers?

Nathan: (Spoiler alert!) "Sometimes a happy ending isn't always exciting. It makes it predictable. I have read a series where the author throws many unpredictable twists. I like this as long as there was not so many that it made the story hard to follow. This author's name was Darren Shan, and I liked is work a lot because not only did he create an intriguing story, but throughout the series he created a future that had been laid on the main character that in the last book he changes in an unbelievable way that killed him. The ending of that book has made me a fan of all of his books."

Loker: "Sometimes when I'm reading a book and a hear about a new, imaginary religion, I'm curious to know more about that religion and their customs."

Blake: "I wish writers would write more action in the beginning. Some stories begin too slowly. Most stories have big battles at the end, but I wish there was more of that throughout the story."

Garrett: "I wish there were more books with extreme suspense that builds, like in The Maze Runner. I like it when there's action to keep me interested."

So there you have it! A small sampling of teen boys--what they like and what they wish writers knew about them. Did any of their answers surprise you? Were they on target with what you assumed? Any other questions you'd like me to ask them?

photo credit

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Release Day! The Summer of Crossing Lines

Guys, I'm soooo excited to share my next release with you! The Summer of Crossing Lines is available at all the regular places. Are you looking for a summer read before summertime ends?

When her protective older brother disappears, sixteen-year-old Melody loses control of her orderly life. Her stuttering flares up, her parents are shrouded in a grief-induced fog, and she clings to the last shreds of her confidence. 

The only lead to her brother’s disappearance is a 30-second call from his cell phone to Rex, the leader of a crime ring. Frustrated by a slow investigation with too many obstacles, and desperate to mend her broken family, Melody crosses the line from wallflower to amateur spy. She infiltrates Rex’s group and is partnered with Drew, a handsome pickpocket whose kindness doesn’t fit her perception of a criminal. He doesn’t need to steal her heart—she hands it to him.

With each law Melody breaks, details of her brother’s secret life emerge until she’s on the cusp of finding him. But at what point does truth justify the crime? 

Buy links:

Thanks so, so much for your support and encouragement!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What makes a great first page? Plus other helpful advice from author Marcy Hatch

Only six days until the release of The Summer of Crossing Lines! You can help celebrate by downloading my previous ebook release, The Boy Who Loved Fire, for only $.99 from any retailer. The Kindle version is here.

Today we have the kind and talented Marcy Hatch, author of West of Paradise, here to share a little about her own publishing journey.

First, a look at West of Paradise:

When Jack McCabe gets the opportunity to go back in time, he jumps; it's the adventure he's always dreamed of--until he meets a beautiful but deadly train robber. Katherine Kennedy can't believe an ignorant bounty hunter has mistaken her for a criminal--until she sees the picture, which looks exactly like her. Neither of them imagines how the past has a way of catching up with the present. Set in the old west, this is a tale of mistaken identity, romance, and murder.

Fun, right? And now some Q and A with author Marcy Hatch.

1) You’ve teamed up with Dianne Salerni to offer critiques of first pages for other writers. We all feel the pressure of getting that first page just right. Can you tell us what you’ve learned from these first impressions? What makes a great first page?

For me, a great first page has to have at least one character I can immediately connect with. Give me a reason to care about what happens and I’ll gladly turn the page.

2) Your debut novel, West of Paradise, was published with WiDo Publishing. Can you tell us a bit about how you connected with them, and what it was like working with a small publisher?

WiDo was one of the first small publishers I queried and the first to get back to me. I liked how excited the acquisition editor was about my story. She was also very up front about the changes I would need to make, which I appreciated. I also loved my editor, Amie McCracken (www.amiemccracken) and even though she made me cut my share of darlings; I know she made West of Paradise a hundred times better for it.

3) West of Paradise is a time-traveler western/romance. What inspired you to write such a story?

The book that comes to mind is A knight in Shining Armor by Jude Derveraux. I loved that book so bad I wanted to write something like it. I also wanted to have a famous event tie in to my story and Tombstone fit the bill. It was fun to research.

4) Any advice you can offer other writers about writing, submissions, publishing, and perseverance?

My number one piece of advice is to write as much as possible, even if it isn’t a story. Write about your day or a time you were stuck or in love or your first kiss. Every bit of writing is practice and all our experiences are grist for the mill.

Second piece of advice is to read as much as possible because only by reading do we discover what is good and who we want to emulate. 

As for submissions and publishing…ugh. Some people get lucky and it happens easily for them, but there are so many more of us who only succeed through sheer persistence. It can be a long road and I’ve only just begun what I hope to be a long career. 

Marcy, thanks so much for sharing advice about first pages, writing, and publishing.

Friends, how do you define a great first page? Have you read West of Paradise? What do you think about Marcy's advice for writing and publishing?

From Marcy: My grandfather was a storyteller, and I like to think I got the gene. I started telling stories as a kid when I shared a room with my little sister. At night I’d offer her three titles from which to choose, and then make up a story on the spot, using the chosen title as a guide. Later this progressed to written stories, then typed, and finally – an actual manuscript. Along the way I had the help of some great teachers (Mr. Wallace, Mr. Bouchard, and Mr. Elliott) and some fabulous writers, most of whom I met through blogging. I live in the lovely Midcoast area of Maine with my goofy lab, Jonah, and four cats. I currently blog at about a variety of subjects, including writing, zombies, Skyrim, books, birds, and history. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What to Remember While Building a Writing Career #IWSG

Welcome, Insecure Writers! If you haven't joined the Insecure Writer's Support Group yet, please, please do so here. You'll be glad you did. I can't imagine a more amazing group of people. Big thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for being an awesome leader and bringing us all together.

Today I want to highlight a blog post written by someone else. It was listed on Elizabeth Craig's weekly Twitteriffic post (if you don't yet follow Elizabeth's blog or Twitter feed, you MUST! She shares such valuable information).

Here's the link to the amazing post: 39 things to remember while struggling to build your writing career, by Kimberley Grabas on the Your Writer Platform blog.

Kimberley's post was such a breath of fresh air for this insecure writer. I don't know about you, but I'm struggling to keep up with all the information flying at me so fast. It's difficult to sort it out and decipher what will or won't work for me. I worry that I'm not pushing hard enough to reach more people, because the "marketing chip" that is naturally embedded in others is noticeably absent from me. I'm afraid of missing that "thing" that will guide me and help make sense of this rapidly changing publishing world.

This amazing list of 39 things helped me so much. I hope it'll help you, too. I was reminded to stay focused and determined. I was reminded to keep writing. I was reminded to be fearless, even in the midst of feeling so. much. fear.

Read the entire list.
You'll breathe a sigh of relief.
You'll be inspired.
I promise.

Did you read the list? What helped you the most? Do you have any advice to add to the list?