Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I'm Baaaackkkkk

I know I've been away for a while. Life had me backed into a corner where I spent a lot of time hugging myself and rocking.

Okay, it wasn't that bad, but life did get the best of me over the summer. Got a divorce, moved across the state, did my best to get a new house in order that was determined to fall apart on me. Fun times. Now things are finally settling in and I've managed to bust out some work.

Yes, people, when I said I'm back, I didn't just mean blogging-wise. I submitted a new story today. New adult, so a little different than what you're used to from this me. AND as soon as I have time I'm going to finish the revise and resub on Dragons Don't Dance (which is also shifting to new adult). As for the PRT, as soon as I have news to share, I will. Right now, it's still in a holding pattern.

So, that's it for now. I am hoping to blog a bit more often now that balls are rolling and I'm juggling both personas again. It's probably going to be pretty intermittent though.

But yay! I'm back! *happy dances*

Friday, June 7, 2013

Not Happening

So, adult-me has a release on Monday, and I'm neck deep in blog tour and writing and revisions. To that end, no real blog this time. Instead, I'll share with you the song that someone asked if they could have video of me singing.

The answer was no :P

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Okay, I might have a bit of an unhealthy love for acronyms. But I'm sure it's not a problem with any of you. some of you may know, I was at the Romantic Times Booklovers' Convention last week (RT for short). RT is always an interesting trip because you can never be quite sure who you're going to meet or what opportunities are going to be presented to you.

One thing I did know going in was that I would meet a bunch of the people from Entangled Publishing since they signed quite a bit of my adult stuff recently. And boy, did I! RT is one of those places where it sucks to have a brain like mine, because I will remember your face forever, but I have a horrible time with names. Anyway, I digress...

On the last day of RT, I was having lunch with a certain YA author, and this anthology idea came up. We talked about it and tweaked it and apparently we're going to try to make the thing happen. I'm beyond excited, not only for the opportunity to work with her but also for the chance to re-awaken this me. It's been too long since I've actively done anything that wasn't adult. I miss YA like crazy. So, keep your fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I have adult books to write and a house to sell and all sorts of craziness to participate in. I promise to keep you posted on any and all YA news I have to share though!

*happy post-con hugs all around*

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kids and Coping

My kids' lives are in upheaval right now. For starters, we're moving in a few months. They're leaving all their friends and school and everything behind to move to a smaller, older house...closer to cousins, but that's about it as far as they're concerned. They're also dealing with the fact that my father is going through chemotherapy right now, and while my son knows what cancer is, he doesn't really "get it." And there are other things in the mix too. As I was told recently, we're dealing with like three of the top ten stressors a person can go through in their life.

And my kids are, so far, taking it all in stride. There have been some questions, of course, but I think the answers to the ones they've asked have helped them to understand some of the ones they didn't know how to ask. The best part though? They are excited about the move and new bedrooms and decorating and swimming at their aunt's this summer.

That right there is something that I often feel is missing from books about kids/teens. Yes, some kids will kick and scream and gnash their teeth at any change, but others...roll with the punches better than anyone could ever expect. And I say that as the mother of an autistic child--you know, the kid who isn't supposed to deal with all.

The difficult thing is on the odd occasion I see kids like that in books, they aren't consistent. Harry is fine with being a wizard, but is shocked at the moving staircases. Whereas the kids who have always known about Hogwarts oooed and ahhhed the staircases too. One of my editors spoke to me recently about her biggest pet peeve, and it's basically that--when a character does something that goes against all the character building done up to the moment of the scene. Consistency is important to readers because even when people act differently than normal, it's usually still within the realm of their nature.

As for my kids and how they're dealing? I was happily surprised that it wasn't a moment that when against their character. They've always been the type to look for and find silver linings. I think with all the dark this time, fictional characters had prepared me for mine to lose that ability. I thank my lucky stars that didn't happen.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Age Group Jumping

There are two of me. One writes adult and the other writes YA/NA. There's a simple reason why I write all three. I am an adult (and quite frankly, that stuff sells better digitally) and I loved high school and college. That was a great age for me, so I'm drawn to writing it.

Much to my children's sorrow, I will not write middle grade or chapter books. It's not anything weird like a lack of respect for the genre. I am HUGELY appreciative of those categories because those are the books that make lifelong readers. Problem is, I didn't come into my own until high school, and I don't look back on the earlier years with any fondness. If someone said to me "Hey, we're going to make you twelve again and you can live your whole life over!" My response would be "No thanks, I'd rather choke on my own panicked vomit and die." Plus, quite honestly, I don't have the right voice for it.

There are people who can bridge from picture books all the way to adult and do it all well, but they are few and far between. It always makes me shake my head when I see writer friends/acquaintances who seem to jump on whatever the "it" genre is.

"MG is hot? I'm going to write that!"

"NA is the new thing. Sign me up."

Now, anyone who knows me knows I'm all about trying new things and stretching as a writer, but if the reason you're doing it is because it's popular, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. It's like dating the captain of the football team in high school even though he's a misogynistic creep who never bothers to comb his hair or brush his teeth. Hey, he's still football captain. Hello...popular.

Hello... lame... stupid... ridiculous. (Pick an adjective.)

So is chasing the "it" genre. By all means, if it calls to your muse and fits your voice, have at it. But if you're just doing it because it's popular...

Do you know why I write (some) New Adult? Because I love writing YA, and some of my YA has always nudged into the college arena (I was told at the time it was unsellable). I also write adult, but I've been told I have a "youthful" adult voice. (Appropriate since Julie means youthful.) So that sweet spot for me? It's 16-25. Yes, I've written older characters, but that (even with my adult stuff) is where I like to sit. I'm just lucky enough that it crosses three genres. I have very little desire to branch out much further.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Young Adult...New Adult...Why Can't You Just Be an Adult?

The last question in the title I won't even bother responding to beyond this. I am an adult. I'm just not a grown-up. The end.

As for the rest (I'm about to show just how much of an adult I am, by the way)...

When I was growing up, there was no such thing as young adult. Yep, that long ago. I think the Sweet Valley High books were just coming into popularity (maybe), but by the time you're in high school I'm not sure those really cut it for reading material anymore. The point of this is kids jumped from reading kids' books to reading adult books. Age-appopriate had no meaning because the best a teenage reader could do was sift through the books and hope to find characters somewhere near their age. (Either that or so foreign that age didn't matter--I think this is one reason so many of us gravitated to sic-fi/fantasy early on.) Truly, the only book I can recall reading that would still fall under the YA heading today is The Outsiders

I'm sure when someone first suggested YA there was some industry backlash. Where will we shelve them? Teens don't have money for books. All sorts of reasons to fight against it. 

Then somewhere, some brave publisher decided to give it a try. And the books sold. Maybe not like hotcakes, but they sold. Over time this led to Harry Potter madness, Twilight insanity, and a few other huge sellers. YA wasn't some void--it was big money! (I can't find hard numbers, but I believe I've seen where YA as a genre is second only to romance in sales.)

There's a simple reason for this. YA is about firsts. First kiss, first love, first time, first car (er...firsts not in any particular order). A lot of things happen for the first time during those high school years. (Yes, some happen earlier or later, but on average, it's high school.) There were very few books that addressed those things. Things teenagers generally don't want to talk to their parents about too much. Teens needed YA fiction. 

And the crazy part? 

Adults needed to go back. Adult sales account for a very large portion of the YA market. Yes, part of it is well-written characters and blah blah blah, but the bigger part is wanting to "re-live" that time in our lives. For some of us (I'm probably in the minority) who loved high school, reading YA brings back a lot of good memories about the crazy shit we did. For others (who weren't so fond of the time), reading YA gives them a different (perhaps better) experience than what they lived through. It's very similar to the way a lot of women will return to romance novels after a bad break up. It's a reminder that there's good stuff out there somewhere.

Now New Adult is going through that same question phase that YA did. Do we need it? Who will it sell to? Is it just erotica for teens? Do we really want that?

The questions make me want to bash my head through a wall. Remember how I talked about the way teens used to jump from kids' books straight to adult? The advent of YA solved that...but there's still a hole. People (generally) don't go straight from high school graduation to a career or marriage and kids. There's college or first jobs or struggling as you move out of your parents' house. From eighteen to about twenty-five, there's a gaping chasm in fiction. Sure, you can sometimes find protagonists in the age bracket, but they aren't that common and there's no definitive place to look for them and even having characters of the right age doesn't guarantee a book that deals with those issues that plague "new adults."

Let me say it up front: New Adult is not erotica with teenagers. Period. Full stop. Books that are erotica with teenagers are erotica. Period. Full stop. It would be a very rare plot that is both erotica and deals with those new adult issues. (I can think of one that does, but it's a sub-plot in an adult book, so it doesn't really apply.)

So what is New Adult?

Young Adult is about firsts, but New Adult is about leaving. It's about exiting childhood, leaving that safety net as well as the one represented by parents. It's also about self-discovery. Those years after you leave home are when most people start to figure out who they really are without the rules of school or the rules of their family home. It's about responsibility on a level they may never have had to deal with before. In short, they're about becoming an adult in everything except age. 

Does that include sex? Maybe. Probably. So does life though. And it is different than teen sex and different than married (or almost-married) sex. Self-discovery, remember? So yes, New Adult books will likely be sexier than their YA counterparts. That does not, however, make them erotica or even erotic romance. It just means sexier. Sort of like the girls in the 60s movies who go to school in their proper below-the-knee skirts just to roll them up once they get there and show a little leg. Sex in YA is (usually) fade-to-black or minimal details. Sex in New Adult is going to be more open--it's going to show a little more leg as it were.

Every time New Adult comes up on Twitter, I see people saying "we don't need it." Sure. We didn't need YA either. Generations of readers got by without it. That doesn't mean readers (and publishing) aren't better off for having it. It's taken self-published New Adult hits for publishers to sit up and take notice. People, readers, want new adult. They want to build a bridge over that gaping hole between YA and adult so they don't have to try to catapult across it. 

And here's a crazy thought. Maybe, just maybe reading about the pitfalls of that time in life will help a few people from making the same mistakes the previous generation (or two) did. I know. Books don't ever teach people anything. Right? 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Attitude

I've been in a bit of a funk over the state of YA within digital publishing for a while now. Truth is, YA is tough to sell digitally as most teens don't read that way, which means they also don't look for books from the digital presses (even if they're available in print).

I know, I know, what about Amanda Hocking (and a few others)? Yes, the success stories exist, but they are still the exception, not the norm.

However, a couple publishers are changing the game and getting their books into stores (which makes a HUGE difference when selling to a teen audience). So, I'm working on finding my way into that niche. I have a couple projects that are definite maybes. In fact, one has received a revise and resubmit from one of those game-changers. That's definitely on the agenda for this year--as soon as I can get to it.

You have all been incredibly patient with me in waiting for the next PRT book, and I promise it WILL happen. It's written and just waiting for the stars to align. The hope is to have all five books out by the end of 2015. I know it's a long wait (believe me, I know), but I hope you'll stick around for it.

I also hope if that you'll keep your fingers crossed regarding the other project, and that you'll be willing to follow me to a different world. One filled with supernatural creatures and romance and adventure.

A number of shark species will drown if they stop swimming. I try to look at writing that way. Even if you don't see my fin cutting through the water, I'm still going. Sometimes the hunt for dinner just takes longer than others. <3