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Archive for October, 2010

It’s November, which means it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! This year, the YA Fantasy Guide will be one of the participants and we encourage our readers, friends, and family to join us! You can follow my progress or become one of my writing buddies by following this link: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/711067 Participation in NanoWriMo is free and open to everyone!

NanoWriMo is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

If you still have questions then you can go here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/hownanoworks

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I’ve read a ton of novels, and after a while, I started to notice common themes. That made me think about what I wanted to see more of. What are we lacking or what needs improvement? I posed this question to my twitter (YAFantasyGuide) followers and I got some interesting answers. Here’s a list of the top answers:

Gay/Lesbian/Transsexual Characters in Major Roles. I would personally like to see more gay characters who are discovering their sexuality, coming out, and experiencing romantic relationships. These are the issues of many teenagers right now in this country and we should see that played out in young adult novels. This issue isn’t being ignored, but I’d like to see more major characters who are homosexual.

Minority Characters in Major Roles. I’d like to see more Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, etcetera characters in young adult novels. I’m not talking about the stereotype characters. I’ve seen enough Indians on reservations and Japanese martial artists to last a lifetime. I’m talking about main characters in normal day-to-day situations. A reflection of the melting pot society we live in today.

Teenagers in the Middle. We’ve seen the obvious popular, nerd, and outsider kids. But what about the kids in the middle? The ones who make the football team, but aren’t stars. The “C” average kids. Those kids are the ones who represent the majority of us. Mostly, I’d like to see more teenage characters who don’t fall into one specific category.

Female Leads Without a Stronger Male Lead. Teenage girls with power. Tough chicks. You know what I mean. Kick those wallflowers to the side. I for one love to see girls kicking butt. Those are the characters I crave. I hate those books where the female stands to the side while her powerful man saves the day. It’s so popular in fantasy and I’m bored. I’m not saying the tough girls aren’t represented, I’m saying I’d like to see more.

What about you? Comment and tell me what you’d like to see.

You can read more of my articles here: http://www.yafantasyguide.com/for-writers/index.htm

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There seems to be a heated debate as to whether or not it’s appropriate to have sex in young adult novels. You can see that the bestsellers have gone all over the spectrum. Some have created teenage lead characters that are sexually active, some develop relationships then have sex, while others wait until marriage.

Here’s are the big questions: What is the moral responsibility of the writer? Should we be politically correct, rely on our own religious beliefs, or are we to stay current?

As a mother, I can certainly see the appeal of encouraging young readers to wait. I hope that my daughter will grow up and want to save herself for marriage. I wouldn’t want to see her get used or mistreated in any way. I pray that I am able to raise her with enough confidence that she makes her own decisions.

Having said that, I can see the other side of this argument. The fact is, teenagers are having sex. They have been for quite a while. Don’t these characters deserve a voice? We have to represent sexually active teenagers as much as we represent the virgins or we’re not be honest. For the record, I have yet to meet a teenager who said they decided to have sex because of the influence of their favorite movie, television, or book character.

I feel that as writers, our responsibly is less to society and more toward the identity of the protagonist that we create. The character has to develop along with the story. Readers will respect you more if your characters are diverse and multi faceted. If you have a relationship between characters then you should see it through even if it means sex. Let the story go where it naturally goes, but if you have characters that are virgins then don’t feel obligated to force them into sexual situations.

Bottom Line: There is no black or white answer in this debate. Personally, I like that we have a variety out there. I really hope I get alot of comments on this because I’m really curious about your opinions.

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Everybody’s got an opinion, even when you don’t ask for one. I think this is especially true when you’re a writer. It seems like everybody’s got an idea of what you need to do to become the next bestseller. For fun, I opened this question up to our Twitter followers and got some really interesting responses. Here are my picks for the WORST writing advice.

You Must Write Short Stories Before Attempting A Novel. I have to say from personal experience that I hate writing short stories. I just have too much detail in my head to cut it down. If you have a story there then write it. Don’t worry about your writing experience, let the words flow on their own and don’t try to dictate where it goes.

Never Break The Rules. I agree and disagree on this one. If a sentence needs a comma, then put it there. Those types of rules are pretty solid. But, when dealing with dialogue, I especially think you need to break a few rules. Your characters need to sound like people, not robots (unless your novel is about robots). Children and teenagers have their own lingo which you may not find in the latest Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary so keep that in mind for those characters.

You Must Participate In A Critique Group. Some critique groups are great and offer sound advice, but not all. Just because someone calls themselves a writer doesn’t mean they’re in any position to offer advice. This is especially true if they don’t write in your genre. I mean, I could probably offer advice about fantasy writing just because I read it and write all the time, but if you asked me about science fiction or horror then I’d be lost. Critique groups can be great, but be cautious with their input into your story.

Stick To What You Know. I can’t help laughing as I write that. If we only wrote about what we know then we wouldn’t have fantasy, horror, paranormal, or science fiction novels. We’d have nothing but non-fiction. I say, write what you love. If all you read is fantasy then write fantasy. To me, this is a no brainer.

Stop Writing. I hate this one. Way to crush someone’s dream. If anyone tells you this then just cut them off and walk away. Never let anyone tell you to quit what you love. Never let anyone tell you that what you have isn’t enough. I’d say, if you doubt your skills then write more and work hard at improving your craft, but never give up. Rejections are part of life. J.K. Rowling’s was rejected by eleven publishers before signing a deal for Harry Potter! Stephenie Meyer received seven rejections from agencies who didn’t think Twilight was publishable. Final verdict, keep writing and keep believing in yourself!

Check out some of my other articles for writers: http://www.yafantasyguide.com/for-writers/index.htm

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Vote for ME!

This is a unique post. Most of my posts relate to helping other writer’s achieve their writing goals. This time, I’m appealing to my Website, Blog, Facebook, and Twitter followers on my own behalf. This is about making my own dreams of publication come true. I’m asking for your vote.

I’m trying to win a query writing contest through YALitChat. Submissions are closed. There are 40 people entered and the 10 entries with the most votes win. It won’t cost you anything to vote and you don’t have to sign up for anything. You can only vote once per computer or IP address. I’m currently in 5th place and voting ends on October 31st so every vote counts.

Anyway, this is all you have to do. Go to this link http://www.wizehive.com/voting/yalitchat/10/4 and scroll down to the one titled, Mortal Enchantment. Press the Yellow Vote button. PRESS THE THUMBS UP BUTTON in the top left corner and then the Green Vote button. Your vote won’t count if you don’t press the thumbs up. Leaving a comment is optional.

Please send this request to your friends. It would help me tremendously. The top 10 people get their query reviewed by 5 judges who are all literary agents. The top 2 winners are chosen by the judges and get their full novel reviewed by the Little, Brown Company Publishing House (one of the biggest publishers out there). It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for someone trying to break into publishing.

Thanks so much!

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Most writers are dreamers. We dream that we will write the stories that we see in our mind, get published, and that the world will love with us. The problem with dreamers is that they’re always people out there trying to profit on your hopes for success and naivety. So who are these people I speak of?

Vanity Publishers. They are some of the worst. They offer you the dream, but at a major cost to you. They appear like any other publisher with websites and submission guidelines. You submit your query letter, then they send you a congratulations that sounds something like this: “We would like to publish your novel and all you have to do is agree to have our team edit your novel at a cost to you and also buy the first 150 copies of your novel for retail price. If you agree then we will publish your novel.” If you take anything away from this article, let it be this: Don’t fall for this! Publishers pay you for a novel, not the other way around. If anyone offers to publish or represent you in any way and they ask for a fee, run away as fast as you can.

Query and Submission Services. These are organizations that promise to read your novel and create submissions for you like query letters, synopsis, chapter outlines, etc. Sounds great, right? Queries are scary. Don’t fall for this service. Most agents can smell these things from a mile away. Why, because there’s no passion. Passion comes from the writer who wrote them which means that no one can write on your behalf. You can read books or take online courses that can help you with your submissions. You don’t need to pay someone to help you.

Book Marketing Services. These are the companies that promise to promote you either to potential agents or after your book has been published. They promise to create press releases, advertize through their “contacts”, on their websites, get you book signings, email blasts, creating your book trailer, etc. Bottom line here is that they are crap. You can do all these things yourself or through your traditional publisher who will market on your behalf. Invest your time in social media, not these empty promise companies. Writer’s conferences are great places to go to learn about social media and marketing. Most conferences are cheap to free and you can mingle with authors who’ve gone through it and are offering solid advise. You can Google for conferences in your area or try a website like this: http://writersconf.org/

Editors. Ouch, I know this one is going to surprise some people. Let me preface by saying that most editors are great. They have an eye for what works and what doesn’t so why am I mentioning them on this list? Because of something called a rewrite. You can pay an editor to rewrite your novel if you aren’t confident in your writing. They can take your ramblings and turn it into some spectacular. So why is that bad, right? It’s bad because you didn’t write it. You haven’t improved your skills, actually you haven’t shown you have any at all. If you do get this book published then how can you write the follow-up? You never wrote the original. Will you pay someone to write for you your entire fake career? Exactly. My advice, if you want to use an editor then pay for advice. Let them show you the mistakes you’ve made, areas that need improvement, character development issues, but you fix it. Take a writing course, join a critique group, but most importantly – learn to be a better writer.

For further information: The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s of America has a great link http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/ for scams against writers. It’s a great place to check for industry credibility.

You can check out my other articles for writer’s here: http://www.yafantasyguide.com/for-writers/index.htm

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