Tag Archives: YA dystopian novels

10 Things Authors Worry About

20 Sep

Announcements: 

The next section of my interactive poetry series on Wattpad has begun! You can read the first poem – The grave of my teenage daughter – by clicking the link. Remember to vote, comment, and/or share for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video.

In other news, Star-crossed Book Blog reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, and she included excerpts and viewpoints on the characters. Read the full review by clicking here, but here’s a small quote, “Noah was a mystery that I enjoyed unraveling. He was broken, dark and even though he never showed it, I couldn’t help but feel as though he was suffocating from having the weight of the world on his shoulders.” Click here to check out Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon.

10 Things Authors Worry About:

One of my more popular posts has always been Being a Writer: Pros and Cons. So much so that I even receive emails about it to this day – mainly from aspiring writers who want a little more detail about an author’s lifestyle. That’s why I got to thinking about this topic, and that is also why I thought it would be fun to share some of those pesky worries authors can go through on a regular basis. Honestly? I probably could’ve gone on forever, but here are ten topics I’ve had a giggle at to start the conversation:

1. Is my title catchy enough? – This is my first one because I dealt with this while writing this piece. In all honestly, this should be titled “things I worry about as an author” but…A. That’s too long. B. Using “I” is generally frowned upon because…A. It’s self-centered B. It subconsciously removes readers from the center of the piece; therefore, taking down your chances of being clicked, read, and commented on. (This is true. Google it.) And let me just point out that this is just a blog post. Titling a novel is even scarier! That’s when even more questions arise: does it make sense, does it represent my novel, will readers enjoy it, is it eye-catching, how will it look on a cover? Even worse: how will it look like on a spine or as a thumbnail? Just. Title. Me. (and by “title” I truly mean “hit”)

2. Can I stare at this picture of myself forever? – Generally in reference to whatever photo we decide to use for various purposes, including our websites, business cards, and book covers. I don’t care how awesome someone looks or how stunning a photographer makes you look, seeing the same photo day-after-day-month-after-year is really strange (and borderline creepy). It is almost like staring in the mirror too long. Eventually, you start thinking, “Do I really look like that? Is that how people see me?” Ah! I just want to hide my face in a book.

3. Are my characters (fill in the blank)? – Too happy, conceded, whiny, or – the worst one – flat. It’s this solid shadow of worry that is impossible to forget.

4. What am I doing wrong? – Okay. Okay. This is just a question that I’m sure everyone has about numerous things in their life, but I feel like this question represents so much for authors. Why are my rankings so low? Why haven’t I gotten more reviews yet? How can I connect further with my darling readers? Everything is lined with this “I know I can do better, but first I need to know what I’m doing wrong so I can improve” and it slowly becomes this obsession of Googling for advice and begging fellow authors for some sort of know-it-all secret, but it results in one thing: you’ll get better. And you slam your forehead on your desk because you know they’re right.

5. Ratings, Reviews, and Rankings (Oh! And sales!) – Even if we try our hardest to ignore them, they are often discussed within the writing community. I can admit that I try to pay attention to everything – especially the reviews my readers post, because I look at it this way: if they are going to take the time to read and review my book (not to mention send me a link), I am definitely going to take the time to read their thoughts. Thanking them is the least I can do. That being said, this combination of numbers and scales can be just as exhausting and discouraging as it can be enthralling and encouraging, so there’s definitely a careful line we have to keep in mind if we’re going to keep our minds on these things, and I definitely don’t recommend that every author pay attention to these things. It’s completely up to the author’s personal preferences, especially in terms of whether or not someone can just have fun with it. (But that’s a different discussion entirely…that I’m already planning on posting about in the near future).

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6. What am I going to do in 2017? – Yes. 2017. I don’t know about many authors, but I think a lot of authors have year-long plans if not longer plans as to what they want to work on, release, and distribute next. While we’re publishing one novel, we’re probably already writing another one, and we might be writing a second one when we’re on break. It takes years to write and publish, so writers’ lives are generally planned out a year in advance. It can get overwhelming sometimes, especially when you want to fit in a new project or change directions entirely.

7. When will I write next? – As contradicting as this can be, a writers publication calendar can be set for a year or three, but finding time to write or edit or a number of other writerly things is entirely up to the writer and their personal life. Wait. I’m open from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. next Thursday? Not anymore. #amwriting

8. Am I reading enough? Am I writing enough? – Reading and writing go hand-in-hand into the sunset…while riding separate horses…that sometimes like the go in different directions. Balancing two passions can be hard, sometimes impossibly difficult, but we find a way.

9. Am I writing for fun enough? – Much like the above issue, it can go hand-in-hand with simply writing, but writing with deadlines can sometimes take that original fun out of it, and even authors need to take time to write something silly they never have to worry about releasing or sharing with four editors and the world.

10. Social Media – It was the best of nights and it was the worst of nights. I love it, and – sometimes – I do hate it. (Please don’t tell social media that.) It can be repetitive, and it can be so exciting that you fall off your desk chair and your cat leaps five feet in the air due to your sudden movements. Even then, your eyes can only stare at that little glowing screen for so long before you have to step away and remember what real-life colors look like without an alien illumination behind them. I can still love how it connects me with you all, though, and I enjoy speaking with everyone in the comments below, but I also worry about whether or not you’ll enjoy my next article, my approaching poem, or my non-HD video. (Sorry, a writer’s life isn’t always a rich life. I can’t afford HD yet, even though you all deserve it!) But I try to push my worries away, so I can fully enjoy the ride.

Let’s enjoy this ride together! Comment below, and we’ll chat about what you worry about as a reader or writer. Honorable mentions go to editing, mistakes that make it through editing, and other writer problems we all tweet about.

~SAT

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Is that Novel REALLY Dystopian? How Market Trends Affect Incorrect Labeling

14 Mar

yDhftSBDesirable Purity asked me about my inner life, including what my secrets are. If that isn’t enough to intrigue you into reading my latest interview, I also shared a verse of poetry I have never released and shared a message to those  who see me as an inspiration. Desirable Purity also made the lovely banner you see on the left, so check out the full interview by clicking here.

With the Divergent movie releasing in a week, my television commercials are filled with dystopian images – a broken society, a dramatic tension, a fight against suppression. We’ve seen these images before, especially with the recent popularity of The Hunger Games sending this genre into the “What is Hot” category on numerous entertainment websites.

This happens all of the time.

The popularity of one novel is the catalyst for a growing infatuation with that genre. While dystopian has been around for ages, there has definitely been an increase in the recent market – but is the market ACTUALLY filled with dystopian novels or just novels claiming to be dystopian when they are, in fact, something else entirely?

I believe a mixture of both has happened, but I will get into why I think that is later. First, I want to take this moment to clarify that I am not against dystopian novels at all. In fact, my first novel, November Snow, is definitely dystopian, and that was published in 2007, one year before The Hunger Games. So I’ve always been a HUGE fan of dystopian. This piece is more along the lines of how to understand the industry and how we shift popularities by blending genres over time.

So let’s tackle this genre where I believe it gets confused:

There are many novels out there claiming to be dystopian when they probably aren’t. Not really anyway. Instead, they fall into sub-categories, like science-fiction and post-apocalyptic. And not every novel in those categories are dystopian.

What’s the difference? Let’s break it down: (Definitions provided by The Oxford Dictionary)

  • Post-apocalyptic: “Denoting or relating to the time following a nuclear war or other catastrophic event…Denoting or relating to the time following the biblical Apocalypse”
  • Dystopian: “An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.”

And just for clarification reasons:

  • Utopia: “An imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.”

Here is the main difference for me: Post-apocalyptic is more about an event’s effect on the world, while dystopian is more about a setting’s effect on the world (like government.) Aliens fighting humans to the death is post-apocalyptic. Aliens setting up a new, controlling government where fights take place is dystopian. Both are science-fiction.

So, why all the confusion?

Actually, I don’t believe there’s confusion at all. Instead, this is generally a marketing strategy, and a successful one at that. When novels are labeled by category, there are many options to consider, but the market often chooses to take advantage of that blurry line in order to gain more readers by convincing them that it is just like the last book they loved. And you know what? Readers might actually love it. (So, yes, I’m not saying this is always a bad thing. I’m just pointing out why I think this happens.)

Personally, I LOVED this article: Dystopian Fiction: What is it Really? 

It explains why Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy and Lauren DeStafano’s The Chemical Garden trilogy are NOT in the same genre despite both of them being labeled as dystopian. As a lover of both of those trilogies, I found myself nodding my head at every sentence of this article. (Also, the writer’s name is Shannon, too. Small world full of Shannon’s. Beware.) It’s definitely worth the read if you want to know more about the differences between the genres.

But because of the blending of these genres, I wanted to add one more thing:

If I had to guess where the market is headed, I would say that this exact blending of genres will cause science-fiction to be the next “big” thing, but who knows what will take over next? My bet is on aliens.

What do you think? Have you seen genres blend during popularity spikes? Do you think the blending affects where the market takes off next?

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

On my Facebook author page, I asked what makes a novel dystopian, and here were a few answers:

Alexis Danielle Allinson: Dystopian to me means a darker, non-conformity ending whether it is death, hum drum life goes on, the “bad-guy” takes over or the end of everything. (continued on FB page.)

Dan Thompson: My current WIP ‘Here Lies Love’ touches on dystopian themes. In my story, the sun has disappeared, leaving existence and life futile and mundane. More of subsistence really. My book isn’t about the dystopian setting however, more about how my main character deals with the obstacles thrown at her and how she tries to create a life for herself.

Tell us your thoughts below!

~SAT

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