In Which Our Heroine Discusses Books

So like many writers, I love books. Seriously, I adore books. I was about eleven or so when I decided I wanted to be a “real writer” and continued to do so even as at least one of my parental units was less than encouraging. So yes, that means my version of teenage rebellion was spending my time making up stories for fun. When you compare that to the MO of the typical rebellious teenager, my parental unit should have been grateful.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (okay may not that long), YA fiction was mostly geared towards middle school with a few exceptions. Kids who liked to read skipped up to adult literature around high school or so. There wasn’t a problem with that, but I would have liked stories written at a higher than middle school level with characters my age. Now, we have two ends of the YA spectrum, the more middle school end and the more high school end. For writing purposes, I have always felt the pull towards the high school end.

I had a number of authors I adored back then and some that I wish had been around when i was a teen but I still read now.


Still a favorite 🙂

Diane Duane: Author of the Young Wizards series, I always wanted to be her when I grew up. She writes awesome YA Urban Fantasy. The adventures of Kit and Nita will always be among my favorites and I am even the proud owner of an anniversary edition of So You Want to Be a Wizard. While I’ve been writing Steampunk lately, I know at some point I will wander back towards Urban Fantasy. I just hope I can write a story as cool as she did. Her addition of animal wizards (and their stories) is just another cool facet of her world.


If the title alone doesn’t catch you, you just lost 10 cool points.

Ally Carter: Author of the Gallager Girls and Heist Society. One has antics and spies. The other has thieves. Either way, her books are a lot of fun to read and hit a quirky balance of romance and action. They are fluffy, on the OMG so awesome fluffy kinda way. I do like me some fluffy. I have passed off these books to friends before as well as purchased copies for my teenage niece. I don’t think you can go wrong with Ally Carter and with her first series wrapping up, I can’t wait to see what comes next.


If you weren’t a Princess Diaries kinda girl, try Suze and her adventures…

Meg Cabot: Author of the Mediator series (Oh, and those princess stories too). I know a lot of girls jumped on the Princess Diaries thing years ago, but it was not my thing. However, the quirky humor and shenanigans of her shorter lived Mediator books was something I really did love. I guess she just hits the right cord for me with her more fantasy based stuff, as I liked her Urban Fantasy offerings for adults too. I’m really looking forward to getting to the copy of Abandoned I have on the book pile.

Now your turn. What are your YA favorites?

In Which our Heroine Starts the Next Phase

I have returned from my holiday type break. In-laws have been visited, in laws have visited and my house is relatively back to its normal equilibrium. There is a small stack of read books in my office (and yet the Book Monster is still a dominating force of 80+ volumes or so), and new books have been acquired (yay new books). I am also the very proud owner of an increasing collection of awesomely geeky Funko POP Vinyl characters, a fuzzy Avengers blanket, and Agent Coulson’s Captain America Trading Card Collection. I did watch the Leverage series finale. Not only to I understand what Wil Wheaton meant about feels (ZOMG THERE WERE FEELS!), but I stand by my declaration that the episode was meant to be a series ender and should stand as such even though I will miss what for me was the Parker & Hardison & Elliot Show. On the subject of feels, Dallas comes back in just a few weeks. There will be backstabbing and feels aplenty!

So, on to the writing portion of this blog. I just sent off my e-mail to join my RWA Chapter’s Critique group for Death by Dragon and it’s a little nerve wracking. It’s a good group from what I have been told and has seen lots of first sales to publishers. It’s still unnerving to turn my baby over to a group of writers I don’t personally know, even if I should get a better story coming back. I guess I should take some confidence in the fact a lot of people in my writing classes thought I was on to something story wise but I most certainly am not entering this arena with any swagger in my step. Crossing my fingers, we shall see how this goes.

In Which Our Heroine Gives an Update

I hate being ill, but my sinus infection hit the fever point last night. November and December are horrible illness months for me. Just horrible. However, I get a 2 week break starting next Friday. I look forward to this.

I’m working on the last two chapters of my draft. In the meantime, I’m posting what my query letter for my current manuscript will look like. Not only does it give a summary of my project but I hope that in giving it a page of it’s own, it can be a way to show potential agents and editors what projects I am offering for consideration.

So, here it goes: The Case Involving the Death by Dragon

In Which Our Heroine Discusses Her Current Work in Progress

If I get the 4,000 words between today and tomorrow that I want then I will not only hit the 60,000 mark but that will leave me with about 10,000 words left until my goal. I’m really excited about this, and I’m especially excited about the prospect of pulling my RWA resources and getting into a critique group. I need to take a hiatus from Death by Dragon for a bit to come at it with a clear mind. I have a couple of other thoughts on how to spend that time.

One, my first Work in Progress for the year, a YA Romantic Urban Fantasy, The Blackstone Heir could use some looking at. I really want to have more than one project going because I feel like the more things you put out there, the more likely someone is to bite. Then if you do get a publisher to bite, when you finish writing your first series it’s easy to say, by the way, I have this other thing that’s already written, are you interested?

Two, my brain keeps batting around an idea that’s superhero based. I’m not sure if I should go back to work one or start outlining this one. Decisions, decisions…

In the meantime, as I finish up on my first draft. I’m considering posting up my “Back Cover Blurb” for Death by Dragon up on the site.

In Which Our Heroine Discusses YA Couples

I got some great responses when I decided to write about love triangles in Y fiction and my thoughts on them. Conversations were started which I found to be a lot of fun, so I’d like to throw another related topic out there.

The YA couple. Since I write YA, that’s what I’m going to stick with for purposes of this post. Any story that hits romance as a genre needs to have its own power couple. Some writers like the Destined One, others like the Love Triangle, others like the Not-Destiny-But-Obvious-Couple.

No matter which type is chosen, the next big question can be how physical is such a relationship going to get in a YA novel. It’s a big question that can often decide if libraries and schools will take your books, if organizations want it banned and for some teens, whether or not a book is “too sexy” for them. You will find books that go from very clean, to books that deal with teen sexuality a lot more. The bottom line I think that writers need to remember is that they send a message on their pick, no matter what that message is. I’m a cleaner read author but I know of other writers that hit varying degrees of clean or racier. I don’t think the other writers are wrong for writing what they do. Some of them explore issues of sexuality that are important to teens and it is important for them to write a story that does that.

For me, a person who works with teens, I see too many girls get hung up on the wrong person because they have convinced themselves that this person is the One. They get caught up with wanting this person to be the One so badly that they don’t see why that can’t happen and it creates a vicious cycle of drama that impacts everything. I’m big of the idea of a partnership in my stories, of a couple complimenting each other and bringing out the best in each other. I think those are important qualities in a relationship and I want teen girls to have that example. When they say they want a guy like my romantic hero, I want it to be because he has qualities that should be reasonable to expect in a partner, I want my heroes to raise the standard girls have for boyfriends.

In Which Our Heroine Discusses Love Triangles

I ended up leaving a comment a few weeks ago on another writer’s blog regarding her thought on love triangles and how much they seem to be used. She wasn’t such a big fan of the practice, but I had some thoughts I wanted to throw in and I did. It lead to a nice little comment back and the conversation lingered in my mind.

The bottom line is, love triangles are stressful for more than just the protagonist having to make the choice about who they want to end up with. I maintain that do a true love triangle justice you have to establish both potential partners as being the one as well as having some sort of flaw that makes them not the one. If you pull this off well, your readers will align themselves into separate camps, and affix some title beginning with “Team” upon their relationship or “ship” of choice. The separate teams will play as nicely together as the Capulets and the Montagues and  half of them will feel disappointed and betrayed when their choice doesn’t win.

See also my experience as a Apollo/Starbuck shipper on the most recent Battlestar Galactica for an example. They will still qualify as one of my favorite OTPs for the record.

This shipping business can get very complicated and sometimes take the author by surprise. I recall reading that the author of a certain popular set of vampire stories didn’t expect her werewolf character to gain a following of his own. But they clearly exist and are very enthusiastic to prove this anytime Taylor Lautner has to remove his shirt during one of those movies.

I understand a group of fans was particularly upset when J. K. Rowling stated that Ron and Hermione were her couple of choice and that Harry and Hermione were never going to happen.

I have also witnessed cases of fans latching onto pairings that the writers never intended or saw, but the fans most certainly did.

I can’t write like that, while I don’t mind another character trying to cause some sort of upset to my couple, I have blatant favoritism for my romantic hero. It’s just the way I am, however I must hand it to those writers who can create two romantic rivals knowing that they will most likely have to crush one of them horribly.

The Next Big Thing

I was very kindly nominated by for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop by Dreampunk Geek. Thanks for the shout out!

What is the working title of your book?

The Case Involving the Death by Dragon

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America and I was searching through the upcoming class listings when I ran across a class being offered in Western Steampunk by Beth Daniels. By the time I finished reading the class description, the voices inside my head that become characters had already gone off plotting antics and shenanigans. I signed up for the class and quickly decided this work in progress was stronger than my previous.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA Romantic Western Steampunk

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

High society witch Viviene Kingston seeks to discover the truth behind her brother’s suspicious death with the help of the handsome Matt Sawyer whose mysterious past stands to jeopardize the investigation.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ooo, that is a tricky one. Given the ages of the characters involved, I suspect I would be most likely forced to use the CW line-up to begin my casting search. I do have a personal rule that if you’re closer to thirty than twenty, you should not be playing a teenager though.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m a firm believer that if you want your book to end up in a bookstore, you should go the traditional route even though it’s quite time consuming.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I reached the halfway point yesterday. The first draft will have been about 2-3 months total.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Part of what attracted me to Western Steampunk is it hasn’t been done so much in YA. In my current writing class, the instructor looked at the outline and called it Wild, Wild west meets Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel. I haven’t actually read Cassandra Clare’s Steampunk series so I can’t tesify to that.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It has fisticuffs, magic, snogging and pretty bustle skirts. Also at least one character with some background as an outlaw. Really, you can’t go wrong with that. Literary boys of questionable and mysterious backgrounds for the win.

For the Next Big Thing Blog Hop, I nominate:

Kirsty Stanley and Melananie D Sokol