Thursday, June 28, 2012

No Bad Book Breakups! by Christine Locke

A certain trend in YA strikes me as a problem: we too often leave our stories unfinished.  In traditionally published books, I've wondered if the publishing company dictated this, cutting a writer's story in two to reduce publication costs and increase sales revenue with the excitement generated by a sequel.  We have most certainly seen the movie industry do it to some of our favorites.

One of the many luxuries we DO have as independently published authors is that we DON'T have to do this.  There are ways to leave questions open for the next book in the series and yet not leave our readers hanging.  In Open Door, I did try to wrap up all the biggest plot questions posed.  However, some things that seemed to be mere details will be central problems in the next book.  By doing this, I hope to avoid that reader letdown, bad book breakup,"great story, bad ending" feeling.

Here's an interesting essay on the happy ending and the pressure to write one (a bad book breakup from the writer's point of view).  I like the point that sometimes the wrong ending can spoil a book--and that it's not fair to your readers to do that.  And there's another thing I like about indie publishing: it's the readers who ultimately decide the relevance of what we write to their lives.  If what I write doesn't help you in some way (even if that "help" is just a little entertainment), there's no reason you should keep reading.  Or buying.  There's no go-between here; no one's going to say, "Christine, your readers won't like this!  Rewrite it!"  And no one is going to say to you, "We decide what's good enough for you to read.  Here's a book for someone your age/social class/gender--read it!"  You decide what you want to read.  I decide what I want to write.  The question of whether our interests merge is up to us and no one else.  It's brilliant, eh?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Young Adults: More Gothic Than They Know by Christine Locke

Do I write "young adult" fiction?  I want my books to employ all the elements of the (formerly designated) "gothic" novel without going so far that I would be uncomfortable having my kids read them.  But does that mean my work is "young adult?"
So yesterday I did a Google searchword test.  Do you know an extrememly high number of the searches for "young adult novels" come from the US (like, 100%)?  The United Kingdom and India show remarkable levels of interest in stories about ghosts and the paranormal (subjects we Americans seem to consider almost exclusively "young adult" these days).  But they call them "horror" or "ghost" stories.  Many of our American YA books could easily wear the label "gothic," as in, the story contains all the traditional gothic elements.  In fact, I used to think I wrote "gothic" stories.  What did I know.  Try typing THAT word into googleAdwords.  I think there are a few academics in the UK still using it as it applies to literature...and Michelle Zink, who, by the way, I love.
So, apparently, Open Door is a work of fiction>genre fiction (ugh!)>horror (really??)>ghosts in amazon language.  Not that I'm not delighted to be included in "genre fiction"--it's yet another label I have problems with...but that's a different post.

It would be unforgiveable to imply, of course, that the Brits don't have YA writers, including in many ways the mother of us all, JKR.  But I was stunned to see that we use the term in searches far, far more than they do.  I'd love to hear any thoughts on why that is.  Do younger readers in the UK attach less of a stigma to the term, "children's literature"? (That's what it was called back when I studied it in grad school in the US, but we don't really say that any more for ages over 10.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Publication Progress...

On Mother's Day, we bought a website
On Father's Day, we launched the site and published my first book, Open Door, on Amazon Kindle Direct.

We had a little trouble with the cover image; for some reason, putting the title in larger font on the image degraded the picture quality.  We will revise the cover so the title shows up better in the thumbnail image just as soon as we figure it out....

I have to say, I love Amazon.  I never would have guessed, when I started writing years ago, that any publishing company would ever start treating authors like customers--but Amazon does.