Tag Archives: college

NA or YA? College-Aged Protagonists

27 Jan

If you live on Twitter like me, then you probably saw last week’s discussion on college-aged protagonists in young adult fiction. Many were calling for it. Others pushed back. Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle.

I desperately want college-aged protagonists, but I want them placed in NA, and I want NA to rise up on its own as an age category full of various genres.

Why?

Fun fact: I graduated high school in 2009. I graduated from the University of Kansas in 2013.

1. The Teens I’ve Listened To:

When I sign books at Barnes and Noble, specifically for BFest (a teen festival), I get to speak with a lot of teens. And I listen. I listen a lot.

Teens are already telling me that they feel left out of YA fiction. They ask me for sweeter, funnier, feel-good stories about friendship and finding your place in the world. Many tell me they’ve stopped buying YA altogether (opting out for fan fiction online) because YA feels too dark, too violent, too sexy for them.

Where are the sweet, just-for-fun road trips? Summer camp stories? Where are the books about friends? Not everything has to be a twisted romance filled with fighting to the death over a crown. (Not hating on those. In fact, I love them. But you know what I mean.)

By adding college-aged protagonists to YA, I fear that YA will only be aged up even more. It will get darker, with more violence and more sex. And that’s fine if teens want to read that. But there is a large portion of young teens that don’t want that, and we’re ignoring them.

Basically, I feel like we’re failing younger teens, and they need to be prioritized when it comes to YA.

2. We Need to Embrace NA

New Adult is a long-existing category. It isn’t new. But unfortunately it carries the stigma of erotica-only. Not that erotica is bad. (I work as an editor, and many of my clients are erotic authors, and I LOVE them. They SLAY.) But if a consumer base thinks that’s the only plot that exists within NA, then NA will turn those away who don’t want erotica. It will also set up those who want erotica to be disappointed if they buy a book in that age category when it’s clean. NA should be full of space pirates and sweet romances and twisty heists, with and without the X rating. But it isn’t right now. And that’s our fault. I understand that we’ve tried to expand NA before, but we need to try again. There’s no reason it should be for only romance. And now that there are more people pushing for NA, I think this is an optimal time to use our fan bases to spread the word about the age category and all the potential it holds.

3. Libraries/Families and How They Work 

Cycling back to the sweet stories in YA and non-erotic NA. They are out there, but they aren’t being prioritized on the shelves. Personally, I see younger YA and non-romance NA in the indie industry, but the indie industry is not as accessible. Libraries often chose what to carry from publishers’ catalogs, which automatically discount self-published or small press books. If they go to the edges of publishing, libraries still want books that have been reviewed by recognized editorials, and those editorials? They generally favor traditionally published novels. At my library, they carry very few indie titles, even when I put in requests. So while there are sweeter YA and non-erotic NA, libraries, schools, etc. might not have access to those, which is why I think pushing college-aged protags into YA wouldn’t be fair to young readers in particular. Also, Teen Librarian Toolbox has a fantastic thread on how families will chose reads for teens, why libraries label books the way they do, and how labeling college-aged teens as YA could negatively impact shelves. She also explains why YA was a wrong term to begin with in the first place. Definitely worth the read.

So what age category are you in if you write college-aged protagonists?

That depends on three things:

1. Voice: A lot of YA books have literary prose (Like “The Reader” by Tracy Chee), but if your book is written in the style of George R.R. Martin, you’re probably leaning more towards adult rather than young adult, even if your character is nineteen. An example: “Don’t You Cry” by Mary Kubica follows a college-aged woman dealing with her roommate acting very very strangely, but the voice isn’t YA. If NA was a thing, I would put it there, but since NA is still struggling, I personally think it leans more toward adult. Voice expectations are something you’ll pick up on by reading within your genre and age category.

2. Themes: Even the agents/publishers calling for college-aged protagonists in YA were clear on one thing: it still had to feel coming-of-age. If your book has a nineteen-year-old protagonist, but they are pretty settled into their life, then you’re probably looking elsewhere. In this case, think college-aged protags struggling to leave home, trying to find independence, a place between home and ultimate adulthood. However, this is largely going to depend on how YA and NA swing in the coming months.

3. Who you are submitting to: Always, always read submission guidelines and research agents/editors/publishers thoroughly. What works for one might not work for another, especially in this case. One agent might think a college-aged protag is YA as long as it features coming-of-age themes, while another might think you have no idea what you’re doing if you query them a YA novel with a nineteen-year-old protagonist. Adjust accordingly. Find a good, professional fit for you and your work.

In the end, everything is just a label, and labels can change overnight. In fact, this whole article is my little, humble opinion. Nothing more than that. And, honestly, my opinion could change.

Still, my best piece of advice has never changed: Read a lot. Write what you’re passionate about. Research thoroughly. Stay up-to-date on the latest news and shifts in the industry. Make friends. And you’ll be just fine.

~SAT

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#SATurday Three-Year Blogging Anniversary

26 Sep

So, wow. Yesterday was my three-year anniversary of blogging right here on www.ShannonAThompson.com.

Three years.

The first photo I ever shared of myself on here with a similar one from today.

The first photo I ever shared of myself on here with a similar one from today.

My first blog post was on September 25, 2012. I never realized how much my life would change once I started this blog. For instance, back then, I had just started my last year of college at the University of Kansas. I lived in a townhouse with two other girls, and my bedroom was painted a deep merlot red. Bogart was almost two years old. I wasn’t publishing at that time, but I was studying English, specifically poetry. I didn’t have a job that year, but I did have my eyes set on a couple of master’s degree opportunities and law school. I drove a manual, a silver RX-8. I was writing Take Me Tomorrow. I almost always wrote in a hookah house. My laptop’s name was Weebo. I was twenty-one years, three months, and two days old.

Since September 25, 2012, my life has changed irrevocably. Two weeks after starting my blog, one of my college roommates passed away. I moved back home. I was published. I graduated from KU with a bachelor’s degree in English, with an emphasis on creative writing. I was published again, and signed on with a publisher. I started working for a publisher. My car stopped working. My publisher shut down, and I lost my job. I moved to another state on my own. My bedroom is now baby blue, and I drive an automatic pickup now. I signed on with a new publisher, and I started my own company. Bogart just turned five, and I have two other cats in my life, Boo Boo and Kiki. I write in coffee houses now. My laptop’s name is Luna-P. I’m currently writing many things. I am twenty-four years, three months, and three days old.

Back then, I just wanted to have a place to share books, music, and movies. I never knew it would change my life forevthree yearser. I cannot explain how much blogging can change your life, but I guess I can share my story.

I’ve thought long and hard about what to say today, but I don’t feel like
there’s anything I can say to express my gratitude for these past 525 blog posts. Today is my 526th article. I’ve been on here 1,096 days. I’ve had over 72,000 unique visitors. I never thought my silly voice would ever be heard, let alone by that many people. I am humbled.

Thank you for giving me a place in the blogosphere that I can call home.

~SAT

Minutes Before Sunset hit #12 in overall Free Kindle yesterday! (Woot. Woot.) We were also a #1 Bestseller in YA Science Fiction and Paranormal and Urban Fantasy! Way to go! Stay Dark!

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#12 in overall Kindle!

Poster_Small_V - Book shop signingOn October 19, the paperback of Death Before Daylight releases! Two days later, on October 21, you can come see me at Headrush Coffee and Tea Roasters in Kansas City, Missouri for a paranormal talk and book signing.  It will be tons of fun!

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

P.S. For all you Timely Death Trilogy fans, here’s a little Dark humor from comedian, Drew Ryan.

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Author Announcements

13 Feb

Lately, a lot of events have been happening, so I decided I’m going to start posting “Author Announcements” which will be posts dedicated to updating everyone on my current projects. I have a few today that I hope you will enjoy. I also need your help!

Minutes Before Sunset is on Novelunity’s February Poll, and I need YOUR vote

Novelunity is a website dedicated to showcasing new authors. It’s a fantastic website for readers and writers alike, so I would really love to connect with you over there. Here’s the link to my profile. I hope you’ll take a moment to vote for Minutes Before Sunset by clicking here. I’m currently in second place, so I really need everyone’s support 😀 Thank you!

Click here to vote!

Click here to vote!

I FINALLY received my diploma. Isn’t it beautiful? I have to admit that this moment made my graduation finally feel real to me. I’ve been struggling without it, because I didn’t walk, so I didn’t have a moment that made me feel like I completed college. Silly, I know. But it almost made me cry to see the single piece of paper that represents all of my hard work at school over the past few years.

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I officially have 100 ratings on Goodreads – thank you for supporting my novels by reading and reviewing them. It means a lot to me that you take the time to express your thoughts. Thank you.

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In other news, the review copy for Seconds Before Sunrise is ready, so if you’re interested in reviewing the second novel of The Timely Death Trilogy on your blog, I would love to hear from you. I have a limited amount of copies, so please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I would also love it if you would simply like to showcase it on your website on the release day, so email me for that, too. 😀 I am also open for interviews (I love interviews)

Let’s make the release a great day! 

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~SAT

Finals Week

14 May

As you’re reading this, I’m probably studying or hunched over a scantron, bubbling in various letters that represent a semester’s worth of knowledge. (Wish me luck!)

What I’m here to say, though, is a response to my post on January 25, 2013: Back to School. In case you started following me recently (or can’t remember this post) I talked about the books I’d be required to read, and I promised I’d let you all know what I thought about the texts. So, without further ado, I’ve listed the readings in order of favorite to least favorite beneath the specific reading/writing course:

Poetry Writing:

1. The Unmemntioable by Erín Moure: This was my favorite poetry collection by far. I often underline my favorite lines while I’m reading, but I started underlining everything Moure wrote! In fact, I actually posted about this reading earlier this year: April 8, 2013: Relax & Read: The Unmemntioable by Eric Moure.

2. Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!   by Peter Davis: Seemingly cute, easy, and fun read, but ultimately challenges the writer to face the truth behind the ego of the artist. I don’t want to say too much, because I’m planning on doing a post on this soon!

3. The new black by Evie Shockley: I’ve read this collection numerous times now, and I find new cultural challenges every time. Shockley is great at questioning on what makes a person within their race while using form to enhance it.

4. Well Then There Now by Juliana Spahr: This collection is a study on ecopoetics. It’s very interesting, but I often got lost on some of the language, perhaps because I’m unfamiliar with Hawaiian terms. However, I’d still give it a four-star rating, because my professor allowed me to understand. Alone, I’m unsure what I’d rate it.

Poetry collections in order of like.

Poetry collections in order of like.

Nonfiction Writing: This class was my first nonfiction class, and I loved it! 

1. The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present by Phillip Lopate: Great collection of personal essays, from authors I recognized and from new writers I’ve never come across. Organized by topic and year. Loved to flip through it and just let the words take me away.

2. Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction Works from 1970 to the Present by Lex Williford and Michael Marten: It was hard for me to choose between the first and second rating. I picked this one as number two only because we didn’t get a chance to talk about these essays as much, but it’s just as great of a collection!

3. Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction Judith Kitchen: I enjoyed the switch from longer essays to the shorter ones. Amazing how much can be said in so little words.

4. Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction by Dinty Moore: Very clear about how to write nonfiction personal essays, if you’re looking into writing one for yourself and/or others.

5. How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish: On March 19, 2013: Relax & Read: How to Write a Sentence, I wrote about this thin but very informative book. Easy for the beginning and a nice reminder for everyone who might get caught up in the complexity of writing later on.

Nonfiction novels in order of like.

Nonfiction novels in order of like.

I apologize for the short post, but I’m really busy studying! I will return with excitement (and, hopefully, A’s!) I hope everyone’s week is going well, and, as usual, comment on this post and let me know if there is any topic (or writing advice) you’re curious about!

~SAT

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