Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Social Media's Selling Teens Old Books

cute old couple reading
These two aren't in the age range I'm talking about below.
But they are quite adorable. And reading.
Photo by zorilla.

An Article From a Bookseller

This weekend, between learning far more than I ever wished to know about Days of Inventory and the cash-to-cash cycle, I read this article with the very click-batey title "I Liked Hurting Girls: A Bookseller on Diary of an Oxygen Thief, Milk and Honey, Young People and the Internet."

The woman who wrote this article owns a book shop, and she noticed a few unusual trends in teens coming in to ask about specific books that weren't actually new or popular at the time. One of those books happened to start with the line, "I liked hurting girls ..."

Juneau, Alaska, gorgeous mountains
Juneau, Alaska (see below for semi-relevance).
Really chosen for my obsession with mountains.
Photo by Ian D. Keating

This Just in: Teens Like Social Media

However, others books she mentions include Looking for Alaska, which become popular after John Green's YouTube channel took off, and Milk and Honey, which is apparently an illustrated book of poems that deals with topics ranging from abuse to survival to sex. She describes the book as "explicit, emotional and very social media friendly."

cool bookstore
Photo by Per Gosche.

In other Breaking News: Teens Won't Explain Themselves

It was also rather entertaining to me that every time this bookseller asked her teen customer what made them want to purchase this book, they'd answer, "I don't know. I it's really good," rather than actually explain to an adult where they'd heard about the book.

And it is really interesting how social media can help people rediscover books. We tend to think of books in two categories: new books and classic books, or at least that's how it seems to me. I'm glad that sometimes books that are neither of these two things get brought back into the light and "re-discovered" by a new audience.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Travel Wistfulness

new zealand mountains

Just like I predicted, these classes have me hopping. I forgot to post this morning.

new zealand, icy mountains
Photo by Mazzali

Have I mentioned that I really want to go back to New Zealand? Because I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I put it down to escapism, but boy was that place gorgeous.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Writing Update plus Cool Chapels

little Greek chapel
A chapel on Mykonos
Photo by Jaume Escofet

For today's images, I went to the Creative Commons and put in the word "chapel". I'm not particularly religious, but people do create some amazing, religious spaces. We all get our inspiration from somewhere, and sometimes its fun to appreciate others' artistic endeavors wherever they are.

chapel interior, Tower of London
Chapel at the Tower of London
Photo by Lachlan O'Dea

A Book Nearing Retirement

I got a little over thirty rejections on my MG fantasy The Storm Summoner. After I didn't make it into Pitch Wars, I was considering retiring the book and moving onto the next contender. I've been querying for almost a year, and I thought it might be time.

However, one of my critique partners read the latest version of my book and re-energized me. I re-wrote my second chapter, streamlined my third chapter and took yet another wack at revising my query letter. The funny thing is that I think the query is finally getting pretty good. . . if only it'd been this good when I actually started querying.

I'm also set to attend a small literary conference this upcoming Saturday where I might get a query critique.

Once I've got everything polished yet again, I am going to send out a few more query letters. I might retire the book soon, but I do want to give it another shot.

chapel, nunhead cemetery, London
Chapel at Nunhead Cemetery, London
Photo by Richard Fisher

A Book Coming Into Being

I always try to do it this way. When I'm getting incredibly sad that I need to give up on yet another book, I try to have something new to look forward to. A New Hope, if you will. I have a finished first draft of my YA sci fi. It needs some serious editing, so I won't be ready to query it for quite some time, but it's nice to get a break from querying.

And it's fun to be back into this stage - the stage where I'm still imagining a new world and big changes (re-writes) can happen. With my MG, I've been in the polishing phase for a while now. Some of those changes felt big, but the world's pretty solidly in place. In my new book, it's still a world in flux. (For example, I'm thinking about adding a mob undercurrent to the book.)

So, that's where I am right now.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Gorgeous Sedona

columbine flowers, sedona
We went on a very oddly green hike in these (typically) dry, red hills.
Here's Nigel, all flowery.

I suspect my posts are going to get short and maybe even forgotten. I signed up for a few online classes this semester, and I really, really like to get good grades (it's actually a bit of an obession). So I suspect that I'll be focused on that in upcoming months. (Actually, for the next year). So just a heads up. I still love you guys. I'm just a wee bit crazy about classwork.

sedona, AZ, red rocks
Nigel surveys his domain.
Or not, as the case may be.

Sedona was our last big stop on the road trip that I've been playing out in blog posts for approximately forever.

(On my writing front: I'm resting my recently finished WIP, and going to start revising soon-ish.)

sedona, red rocks, cactus flower
Cactus flowers and red rocks.

By this point, we were beat, and Nigel'd booked us into a very fancy, shmancy hotel. We did more relaxing by the pool than hiking here. Which is why I have way less photos.

stormy driving
Stormy trip home.

This last photo isn't even Sedona. I was driving, and there was all sorts of lightning up ahead. I was honestly a bit scared about what we were driving into. And also sad that I didn't managed to get a photo of the lightning. (Nigel yelled at me for trying to photograph lightning as I was driving and took the camera away from me. I mean, he was right and all, but still, it would have been a cool photo.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Vegas, Hoover Dam: Some Road Trip Leftovers

on Hoover Dam
Nigel hanging out on top of Hoover Dam

I strongly suspect I was not selected for Pitch Wars, which is not terribly surprising. From the looks of it, a lot of the mentors had over 100 applicants each. However, I am currently focusing on the positive, which is the last of my cool photos from my road trip to the Grand Canyon and beyond. (Actually, as this post got a little long, I decided to string this out one more post worth for Sedona, AZ).

I sure have managed to milk these suckers.

Because Nigel and I were running a bit ahead of schedule, and it was so very nearby, we decided to stop off in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Strip
Lit Lady Liberty

We did not gamble, but we saw some of the spectacle that was the Vegas Strip. Those casinos get pretty crazy. Our fav was The Venetian. Inside, the ceiling was painted like sky, there was a bright blue canal that ran through the shopping area, and all the shops had fronts that were done up like cool old Italian buildings.

Nigel said, "It's like being in Venice, only cleaner!"

We had an amazing, relaxed Italian dinner, which was freaking delicious and then we headed off to see the ginormous ~5 min music video at the Fremont Street Experience:

Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas
This is an outdoor street with this enormous TV screen covering it.
There's also a zip line that goes from one end of the street to the other.
There were also a lot of people wearing very . . . interesting outfits.

Like, I said, we didn't do the normal Vegas stuff, but we did really enjoy our visit.

Next stop: Hoover Dam

We got there around noon and had to wait until 3 if we wanted the full Dam Tour (there were a lot of cheesy jokes about damn dam tours; we laughed).

I made Nigel wait around for the full tour. He even admitted I was right afterwards.

Hoover Dam Intake Tower
One of the intake towers that pulls in water for the generators.

Hoover Dam Turbines
The Generators!

inside Hoover Dam
A view of the river from inside the Dam itself.

The heat was melt-your-face-off hot, but we mostly stayed inside and went through the Hoover Dam museum while we waited. We did take a little stroll out over the Dam itself. It's surprisingly gorgeous.

Timeline wise, we actually did this before we hit the Grand Canyon, but I did think I was going to fit all my non-national park stops into one post. Turns out I've got more to say than I thought.

Next week: Sedona, AZ

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

First Draft Complete!

treacherous jungle
My story involves an overgrown forest, 
populated by half-human mutants and robotic animals.

My YA sci-fi is complete! Or at least it will be once I take this completed draft, revise once or twice, send to CPs, revise a few more times,  and struggle to write a semi-compelling query letter that I will subsequently realize sucks and have to write about twenty more times or so.

domed city
Photo by Mike Mozart
The lush forest surrounds a domed city with a militant commander.
Our two heros live in very different parts of this city.

Anyway, new book on the way! A new book is always reason for celebration. You get to that last page of that last chapter and realize the work you've been putting in for the past few months has actually paid off, and you can write, "The End!"

robot cat
Photo by Ozzy Delaney
My favorite character: a sarcastic, robotic cat
who sometimes helps and sometimes hinders.

Of course, it doesn't take me long to start thinking about revisions and just how much I still need to do, but that's partly why I'm writing this blog post. To sit back, smile, and say, "Whoo!"

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Our Grand Destination: The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, orange Globemallow flower
Surprise, surprise. I've got a flower photo for you.

I've been showcasing photos from Utah, but the reason we started planning this whole road trip was because neither my husband nor I had ever seen the Grand Canyon.

South Rim, Grand Canyon
Nigel looking handsome on a hot and sunny hike down.

In writing news, I am waiting to find out if my query got my book into Pitch Wars, but given that it sounds like each mentor got over 100 entries and can only pick one mentee and one backup, I know the odds are grim. I won't know for sure until Aug. 25 but I'm mentally preparing for the worst.

Misty Grand Canyon
One of my fav photos.
The daylight was winding down over all the layers out in the Grand Canyon.

We camped outside the park in a state park. Thank goodness the nights got somewhat cool because the days were a recipe for heat stroke. We stayed well hydrated, but after a misguided middle of the day 110 hike down (down, down) 3 miles and back up, we were wiped for most of the rest of the visit.

sunset silhouette, Grand Canyon
Nigel again.

But we still made sure to capture a few awesome sunset photos.

watching the sun set, grand canyon national park
Nigel appreciating the sun as it set.