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Posts Tagged ‘YA books’

Once again, someone published an article disparaging a genre and all those who read it. In this case it was an article about how adults who read YA should be ashamed for themselves. (These sorts of articles seems to pop up about once a year.) It’s unfortunate when articles like this happen, since they’re usually sweeping in judgment, often saying that “adults” should read “real books” blah, blah, blah.

But it’s not just YA that this happens to. Romance. Chick-Lit/Women’s Fiction. They, too, are subject to haters. (It seems to me that a majority of these are dominated both reading and writing wise by women, but that’s a (very important) conversation for another day.)

Someone is always judging and dismissing those who read (and write) x or y genre, which is usually not the preference of the one doing the judging. The readers in question are told to read “real books.”

This is what I say:

shut up and read

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and they’re allow to not like certain types of books, but that doesn’t mean they’re should dismiss or disparage entire readerships or genres.

Also, the “real” book argument really gets to me. As a YA author (and a Steampunk author) I get the “when are you going to write a real book” question all the time.

What exactly makes a book “real” anyhow? How is writing a book for teens, or with kissing, or paranormal creatures, so hoverboards any less real?

Um, heck no. These books aren’t lesser. The readers aren’t lesser. The authors aren’t lesser. No less work going into crafting these stories than any other book.

There are plenty of merits to reading YA. Lots of people enjoy them. Lots of people write them. They make lots of people happy. This could be said for any other genre.

Read whatever you want. Read what makes you happy. Write whatever you want. Write what makes you happy.

Life is too short to not read (and write) whatever you like, so why limit yourself? Why not go all over the bookstore to find those books? Who knows what gems you’ll find? Why not write a story the way it wants to be written?

Every book, every story has value. Everyone is different. That is the beauty of having so many different types of books–so everyone can find a story that resonates with them.

So, be proud, adult readers of YA, readers of romance, readers in general. Books are awesome. it's ok to read YA

 

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA Steampunk dark-fairytale series “The Aether Chronicles.” INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now. FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8-8-14. She runs with cupcakes, plays with swords, likes cupcakes, and thinks adulthood is over-rated.

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Like YA?

Love Prizes?

The YAmazingRace with MGnificent Prizes starts today at 12 pm EST.  Over 50 YA and MG authors are going to be giving away a boatload of prizes.

INNOCENT DARKNESS is part of leg 5.  If you’ve wanted Noli’s necklace and haven’t won one yet, there is one up for grabs.

Rules will go up here at 12 pm eastern time when the race starts.  Good luck!

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Today is the last giveaway in Christmas in August.  We have a few things open.  Thank you so much for entering.  We have some winners here

Enclave (Razorland #1)

By Ann Aguirre

Okay, so Ann Aguirre’s YA debut isn’t Steampunk, but there’s a lot for steampunkers to love in this book–even if you don’t usually like zombies, dystopian, or even YA.

In some distant (or not so distant) future Deuce’s world is an underground labyrinth of tunnels and a series of strict rules in a society where the death rate is so high children aren’t even named until they are fifteen.  Deuce is a huntress, her job it to brave the tunnels outside the enclave and avoid the monsters known as “Freaks” to bring back meat for the group.  She’s assigned a partner, Fade, who’s different from the other members in the enclave and entertains notions considered “dangerous” by Deuce–such as perhaps those in charge of the enclave are lying.  When the previously-thought-to-be-mindless Freaks develop intelligence, the elders ignore Fade and Deuce’s warning.  When the two of them are exiled, the only place left for them to go is topside. 

I love Deuce, because she’s a very smart, level-headed, practical heroine (and she’s badass, but out of necessity, because as a huntress, that’s her job).  Even though this book is YA, because of Deuce’s maturity and all the action, I think this book might appeal to those who might not usually pick up a YA, even if you’re not a dystopian/post-apocalyptic fan.

The world building is fantastic and well thought out.  I loved reading about the culture and customs developed by Deuce’s tunnel-dwelling society.  Unlike many stories in this genre, ENCLAVE isn’t depressing, but hopeful.  However, it is gritty — survival is life in Deuce’s world and they fight for it daily.  There’s a ton of action including some great (though gruesome) fight scenes against the Freaks (zombies, but they’re not described in the usual way, so if you usually avoid zombie books, you might give this one a try anyway.)  When she and Fade go topside I love how they react to what’s left of our world and I thought their reactions and thoughts to things we take for granted but they may have never seen or even heard about was fantastic. 

Overall, this was a face paced, well written book with great characters and some terrific dialogue.  I read this in two sittings and was completely sucked into the world Aguirre created (and usually I avoid books with Zombies.)

So, what’s your favorite dystopian/post-apocalyptic book?

I have a previously read ARC to give away to one lucky commenter.  It’s been read by more than me, but it is an ARC, with the CD in the back AND it’s SIGNED.  All you have to do is comment below.  Open internationally.  Contest closes September 10th, 2011 at 11:59 PST. 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. 

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Today we welcome Shelley who writes under varies and sundry alter egos, writing YA as Shelley Adina, adult inspirational under Shelley Bates, and Amish fiction under the name Adina Senft.  I’ve asked her to come on today because after having written numberous books for major publishers, some award-winning, she has decided to self-publish her latest work, a Steampunk YA entitled Lady of Devices, which came out last week.

Award-winning author Shelley Adina wrote her first teen novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages. Between books, Shelley loves traveling, playing the piano and Celtic harp, making period costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.

A whole new meaning for DIY

By Shelley Adina

First of all, thank you to the lolitas for inviting me to post today!

We all know how important the makers are to the steampunk world. Without them, where would we get mechanical arms, cool clothes, and temporal decay monitors? I’m a maker myself when it comes to costume, whether it’s a full Victorian ballgown or a steampunked-out day costume that I wear to work. But when it comes to my books, I create the manuscript and then I leave it to my publisher to make the final product.

Until now.

Last year, as part of my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program, I wrote a YA steampunk story called Lady of Devices. Since I wasn’t under contract at the time, I pulled out all the stops and just had fun with it. Why shouldn’t the British Mail be delivered by vacuum tube? Why shouldn’t housework be done with automatons? And why can’t a well-bred young lady be an engineer? That last one is a stumper for my heroine, which is why she gets this story.

Anyway, my agent sent it out all over New York, and we waited for someone to love it as much as we did.

And waited.

And waited.

Then the replies started coming in. “Love the story. Can’t market it.” “Beautifully written but where do we shelve it?” “Love the story. Can we make the heroine 22?” Did they not know how hot steampunk is right now? Don’t they get it? Crestfallen, I retreated back into my office and the Lady resigned herself to netting me a degree instead of a publishing contract. Until we both had an idea.

Self publishing.

After all, I’m a maker and she is a creature of intellect and resources. I contacted Amanda Hocking’s cover artist, who gave me a stunning cover that was exactly right for the book. I hired a designer to do the lettering, as well as to create the back cover for the print edition, published through CreateSpace (amazon’s POD arm). I formatted the book myself, edited it myself (it’s what I do in the day job) and posted it … et voila, Lady of Devices is available in print and digital form, at your service on amazon.com.  

My agent is very supportive—after all, she reads the blogs and knows what’s going on in the world of self publishing. And the response from readers? Let’s just say the book has been selling five copies a day since I put it up, which for a newbie at this, is pretty good. It debuted at #39 on the historical fantasy bestseller list—two below The Mists of Avalon and one above Naomi Novik’s latest! And that was with no marketing at all other than an announcement on my Facebook page. I plan to do just what I do for my print books—let people know via my newsletter and Facebook, hand out bookmarks, and then let the writing appeal to readers who enjoy it and might want to talk about it with their friends.

Makers. When all else fails, we do it ourselves.

~Shelley Adina

http://www.shelleyadina.com

Thanks Shelley for sharing with us.  We all know what a hot topic self publishing is.

What’s your take on self publishing? 

Shelley will be giving away one paper copy of Lady of Devices to one lucky commenter.  North American only please.  Contest ends June 15, 2011 at 11:59 PM PST.

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This was originally scheduled for Fantastic February, then I got sick and never posted it.  Enjoy. 

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales

 by Tamora Pierce

Book provided by Random House

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales is a collection of short stories from fantasy author Tamora Pierce.

I am a *huge* Tamora Pierce fangirl and I devoured the Lioness books before I ever figured out they were YA (and then continued to read many of her other series all set in the land of Tortall). 

Most of these stories take place in the land of Tortall, but some take place in the “real world.”  Some are long, and some are short. 

We see old friends like Nawat and Aly from the Trickster books, meet new ones, and get to know more about characters referenced in other books, like Kylaia who was referenced in the Lioness books.  But don’t have to have all (or any) of the other series to enjoy this vivid, vibrant, and extremely diverse collection of tales which will appeal to adults and teens alike. 

Like all of Pierce’s stories (which is why I love them) the tales in this book are filled with the trials of coming of age, pushing the boundaries, discovering yourself and where you fit regardless of what others tell you, and  (of course) magic.

One of the most vibrant for me was “The Dragon’s Tale” which features Kitten the dragon from the Immortals books who has an adventure of her own. 

We also get a sneak peek of the new Becca Cooper story.   Can’t wait!

 Do you love Tortall?  What’s your favorite series or character?  If not, is there a series you want to read?  One lucky commenter will win a hardcover copy of this book (open internationally, contest closes May 22, 11:59 PM PST)

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Fantasy February continues.  Today we have the amazing Ann Aguirre who’s dystopian YA debut Enclave releases April 12th, 2011.

Ann Aguirre is a national bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, two cats, and one very lazy dog. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Dr. Who. She writes urban fantasy (the Corine Solomon series), romantic science fiction (the Jax series), apocalyptic paranormal romance (the Ellen Connor books with Carrie Lofty), paranormal romantic suspense (as Ava Gray), and post-apocalyptic dystopian young adult fiction.

How the Apocalypse is Like Cupcakes

by Ann Aguirre

To make cupcakes, you need flour, sugar, leavening, eggs, milk, and flavoring, which can come in many varieties like vanilla, chocolate or ground almonds. The apocalypse is the same way. Generally, it’s not one single event that causes everything to fall apart. War, famine, disease, global warming, manmade pestilence, bio-plagues, chemical weapons, pollution, radiation — as you can see the possibilities are rather endless. And in the fictional sense, at least, dystopian fiction can be every bit as delicious as the dessert referenced above.

I’m always profoundly uncomfortable discussing my work in more than abstract terms. The book should stand or fall on its own merits, and therefore, my awkward enthusiasm for a work I’ve created serves no purpose. However, for a review that says everything about ENCLAVE, this is the one to read. Ms. Holland is far more eloquent on the subject of ENCLAVE than I could ever be, but this is my favorite quote:

“…the action and violence are balanced with a deep sensitivity. Deuce wants to be a cold huntress who only focuses on her objective, but her heart gets in the way. She wants to save lives, even the lives of those that the leaders have deemed useless, and she has some serious moral questions about how much mercy she can afford to show before she jeopardizes her own survival or the welfare of her enclave. The fighting scenes are all the more exhilarating because they have an emotional core to back them up: Deuce may have fun fighting, but she doesn’t fight for fun. She’s always defending someone–the children, or her partner, or herself.” —All Consuming Books

Recently, in an interview, I was asked why I chose a post-apocalyptic world for my YA debut. The answer is actually two-fold. First, I wasn’t sure I had the voice to write a beautiful contemporary in the vein of Jennifer Echols, but I wanted, quite desperately, to write a YA. So I decided if I couldn’t do a compelling young protagonist in this world, I’d invent one. Which brings me back to why dystopian?

I’m a child of the eighties, and we saw filmstrips about what would happen if the bomb dropped. Sometimes we had nuclear drills in addition to fire and tornado. When I think about twenty small children huddled under their desks in case the Russians let one fly, well, it’s rather absurd, isn’t it? But that sort of fear shaped my psyche, so that’s definitely a contributing factor. The other reason? Well, I’ll just quote the interview I did with Karen from For What It’s Worth “I think it’s because they’re uplifting. No, seriously. You take a world in utter disarray. Things are incredibly bleak. Then a hero arises, someone who has the desire and drive to succeed, no matter what. And this person changes his or her world in some fashion. How can that message not be incredibly valuable to young adults? I think it lends hope that there can always be brightness, no matter how dark it seems.”

For me, that’s the absolute crux of the matter. People need to believe they can make a difference–that one person standing strong can turn the tide. It’s easier to demonstrate that in the Razorland world, but that example of internal fortitude will serve readers (of all ages) well. I wanted to take a run at telling that kind of story, and I’ll close with Publishers Weekly’s thoughts on the matter:  “In her first young adult novel, Aguirre (the Sirantha Jax series) has created a gritty and highly competent heroine, an equally deadly sidekick/love interest, and a fascinating if unpleasant civilization. This series is likely to hold considerable appeal for fans of The Hunger Games.”

I was thrilled they called Deuce “gritty and highly competent.” Did I succeed entirely with ENCLAVE? Only readers can be the judge of that, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think. What are your favorite dystopian novels and why do you love them?

~Ann

Ann Aguirre | www.annaguirre.com

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Today we welcome back Scott Westerfeld, author of the Steampunk YA adventure books Leviathan and Behemoth. He’s written a variety of other YA books, including the Uglies series. Behemoth, book two in the Leviathan series, was released October 5, 2010.

Steampunk has been expanding steadily. Not just in the sense of visibility and sales, but in terms of settings, backdrops, and milieus. In other words, our sub-generic headquarters may still be found in London, but, like the Victorians themselves, we have outposts all over the globe. Cherie Priest’s Hugo-nominated Boneshaker is set in Seattle. Ten years ago Jan Lars Jensen’s Shiva 3000 featured steam-powered Hindu gods. Countless manga titles bring steampunk to Japan, and if you want see a great live-action Japanese steampunk film, check out K-20: Fiend of Twenty Faces. Readers of this blog can probably supply many more examples of steampunk’s promiscuous diversification in the comments.

But what has this to do with me? My Leviathan series is set in an alternate World War I, and all of book one transpired in Europe—namely London, Austria, and Switzerland. When the first book came to a close, however, our heroes were headed for Istanbul.

Turkey may be part of the European Union now, but in 1914 it was a different world. The Ottoman sultan was the Caliph, the secular ruler of Islam, and his empire stretched from Persia to (nominally) Egypt. The Ottomans had been at odds, culturally and militarily, with Christian Europe for centuries. By late 1914, though, both sides of the Great War had an interest in wooing the Ottomans over to their side. So I thought an airship trip to a steampunk Istanbul would be a great way to expand the world of the series.

For those of you who haven’t read Leviathan, the Great War is between the Clankers (Germanic machine users) and Darwinists (Charles discovered DNA in the 1860s, and created a sort of Victorian biotech). So we have steampunk mechanical walkers versus living machines like the eponymous airship, made from the life-threads of a whale. Leviathan is also illustrated, like any self-respecting novel would have been in 1914. The artist, Keith Thompson, created a style for each of the warring powers. The Clanker style is boxy and mechanical, the Darwinist style organic and sinuous. To show this distinction, I always use this Clanker walker compared with the captain’s desk aboard the Leviathan:

So when my characters traveled to Istanbul, Keith and I figured that the Ottomans needed their own style. Since they ultimately joined the Germans, we figured they had to be Clankers at heart. But they were on the fence for a few months in 1914, so I decided that Ottomans would make their machines in the form of animals, just to give the Darwinists a fighting chance. Thus the sultan’s power is based on an army of mechanical elephants:

This two-page image shows how rich Keith’s Clanker Istanbul is. We can see a minaret and mosque alongside the western-influenced residential architecture of the city, and in the background a pair of Iron Golems guarding a Jewish neighborhood. Istanbul in 1914 was a true multicultural city, so each religion has its own Clanker style. My favorite is possibly the Kurdish battle walker, based on the goddess Şahmeran, shown here in a Steamed World Exclusive!

One of the great things about illustrated books is how the themes in the text are reinforced by the art. In these last two images you can see the conflict that the Ottomans face: Are they steely, functional Clankers or sensuously styled Darwinists? They have bits of both, of course, so choosing sides in the great war won’t be easy.

Without being too spoiler-y, I’ll reveal that in the third book of the series, Goliath, His Majesty’s Airship Leviathan continues on its travels around the globe. There should be many more styles to discover along the way.

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