Sunday, May 6, 2018

Outdated. Tired. Obsolete.



What happens when the types of YA stories you write become outdated?

I know I'm not alone in this dilemma. In the past few years I've watched many YA paranormal romance authors who started around the same time as me fall off the grid. It happens without fanfare. Often without notice. As a mid-list author, when trends change and suddenly your passion stories are seen by publishers as tired, you have to be flexible about what you write or risk becoming obsolete.

This isn't a "poor me" post. Y'all know I like to be transparent. Some would call me an oversharer. But when readers are messaging me with a hint of frustration asking when I'm going to put another book out like Sweet Evil, I feel the need to explain.

I want to.

After finishing the Sweet Evil series, high fantasy and fairy tale retellings were beginning to hit a crescendo, and paranormal was "out." This saddened me terribly, but then I got the idea for The Great Hunt, and I felt extremely lucky get another publishing contract. Funny thing though...the tons of readers that made my Sweet series hit the New York Times bestsellers list did not carryover to my fantasy series. It was something I'd worried about. Just like actors, authors can get pigeon-holed into certain genres. Readers have come to want a certain thing from me. They want that real-world urban fantasy feel. They want my paranormal bad boys, and I want to give it to them. So, what's the problem?

Publishing trends.

From what I've seen, contemporary (realistic) fiction always has and always will be "in," though the sub-genres can vary in popularity. But fantastical trends rise and fall almost severely. Publishers and booksellers get burned out on seeing the same things. When a new series of a differing genre hits it big, they chase that direction. It's the nature of the industry. It sucks for those left behind. And then there are real life issues, like politics, war, and the overall state of society that affect the book market. Basically, it's out of an author's control.

Last year when I was looking for a new YA idea I polled the readers in my private Facebook group to see what they wanted from me. I ask them this question every year, and the answer rarely varies. They overwhelmingly want PNR/UF. This time when I asked, it turned into a crowdsourcing of ideas for a series. What we came up with together was a dark magic paranormal with a bad boy warlock. They got me super excited about it, bringing me back to my roots as an author, and I wrote up a full synopsis and sample chapters. I went on submission with the idea, but nobody picked it up. I was told paranormal is a hard sell. Too familiar. The time isn't right for it yet. Please don't mistake this as me badmouthing publishers. The industry is a beast made up of many cogs that have to line up to move the wheels. Agents are at the whims of editors, who look to marketing for permissions, who seek approval of booksellers, etc. It's a behemoth cycle.

After speaking with many author friends at events, it seemed YA authors across the board were having the same issue, even in other genres. The market was saturated. Many of us were turning to other sources for work and income--for me I picked up editorial work. Many were stopping writing all together. I have to admit, I thought about it. It's a terrible feeling when one day you're living your dream job, and the next day it's crumbling around you and you're grasping at anything you can to stay in the game.

It's been six years since Sweet Evil published. Last week I posted this question to my readers on Twitter. As always, they excitedly begged for paranormal. You can see their responses for yourself.



*heavy sigh*

I know what you're wondering. Why don't I just self-publish it? I'm no stranger to self-publishing. I've got 4 books on the indie market. But from what I've seen, few teens buy books online or read ebooks. Most of my teen readers want to shop in a brick and mortar store and have a hard book in their hands. Majority of my online ebook readers are adults. It's hard for me to swallow the fact that I'd be writing YA and not able to reach my target audience. Yes, I could raise the ages of my characters and make it an adult series, but that gives my tummy a sinking feeling. I have a heart for teens. I want to write the stories I desperately needed when I was in high school. So I've made a pact with myself that my adult books can be self-published and my Young Adult books need to be with a publisher who can get them into stores.

It might take awhile. And maybe my dark magic book isn't the one that will get me a deal. I have no idea what's going to happen. All I can do is promise my readers that I'm not giving up yet, and to be patient with me and other authors as we wade through the politics of this crazy process. In the meantime, I beg you to please support the authors you love by giving their other genres a try. The tide will roll back around eventually, though it will undoubtedly look different from before, and that's not a bad thing. Thanks for reading this far. Please let me know if you have any questions. Sending each and every one of you a big hug! Happy reading.


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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

UNDONE Release Day and Giveaway!


It's always a special feeling when you complete a series, and this one is especially lovely because it's my first adult series, allowing me to let loose creatively and stretch my wings in a way I'd never done before. I truly hope you'll check it out and enjoy!



About UNDONE (Unknown Trilogy #3):

Amber Tate never dreamed their heart-wrenching escape from the enemy’s attack would lead them to the most beautiful place she’s ever seen. Like everywhere else in the world, Elmendorf military base in Alaska has been taken over, but it’s time to take it back—all of it—one base, one city at a time. After losing so much, Amber clings to the one precious person she has left, and vows to sacrifice everything to help save the Earth.
Remy Haines is a lover, not a fighter, so when she finds herself in enemy territory, expected to feign allegiance while gathering intel for the rebel cause, she’s never been more out of her element. Tensions only increase when her feelings for Jacob “Tater” Tate won’t go away, and the enemy’s leader takes an interest in her. She’s torn between what her heart wants, and what she knows she should do. As for what her body needs…well, it’s always had a mind of its own.

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EXCERPT:

Did he ever think of our night together in the tent?
I did.
Without a doubt, I’d been tipsy, but I remembered everything. For so many years there was tension between us. It started as annoyance, my best friend’s older brother who always acted like a douche. Then, after he joined the Army and came back to visit, it was like he’d matured just enough to lose that obnoxious edge and I realized for the first time how sexy he was. I wanted him. Back then, pursuing guys had been my vice, but I knew Amber might be weirded out by it.
When I thought back to that night at the nature reserve…it was really our last night of true freedom and happiness. It’s strange to think we were happy, especially since our parents had been taken prisoners at that point, and we’d watched his grandfather be killed, but we still had hope. We thought we’d get our parents back. We didn’t have any idea just how horrible things were. Or that aliens were real. I rubbed the prickly hairs on my arms down and took another bite. I didn’t want to think about that night in the tent. The sound of Tater’s laughter. His wide smile. The way the neck of my loose shirt had slid down while I was arranging my sleeping bag and laughing drunkenly. His warm mouth as he kissed me on my exposed shoulder…when I turned to him, Tater had never looked more serious. It had been a look of question, like, “Is this all right?” And I’d responded by sliding my hand behind his neck and pulling him down on top of me. Now he never smiled or laughed.
“How are things in the fields?” I asked him.
Tater gave a single shrug, not looking up or saying a word.
“If you’re wondering,” Linette said with spite, “Things are amazing with the livestock. I can fill a bucket with milk in record time, and helped a mama swine birth seven piglets yesterday. I’m a regular fucking Farmer Jane.”
Before I could respond, Tater whispered, “I need you to get us a radio.”
Our end of the table went silent and still. I glanced at the guards, who were surveying the room with bland expressions, then I forced another bite into my mouth. When I looked up again, Linette had that crazed look in her eyes, staring straight ahead. Her strategizing look.
“Are there cameras in the room where you teach?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I whispered.
“How can you not know?” she asked, annoyed. “Look today.”
“Okay, but there’s no way I can take anything. I’m never alone.”
“The guards cannot be staring at you the entire time.” Linette nodded to the bag at my side. “Slip it in there.”
“Remy,” Tater said to his bowl. “If you can get your hands on anything electronic, we can try to use it at night to send or receive signals, and you can return it in the morning.”
My stomach was roiling at the idea. There’s a reason I didn’t join the military. Stealth and danger were not my things. But I was the only one with access to the palace.
“I’ll look,” I promised.
“Have you been alone with him yet?” Linette asked.
My innards seized at this, churning my breakfast. I felt both of their eyes on me as I stared at the pasty contents in my bowl and minutely shook my head.
“Make it happen,” she demanded.
From the corner of my eye it looked like Tater was holding his spoon so hard he might bend it in his fist. I reached out with my leg as far as I could under the table until my foot touched his. The contact, even through our shoes, sent blood whooshing to every nerve in my body. I watched as his hand relaxed on the spoon, and he pressed his foot to mine. Our eyes never met.
We were quiet as we finished.
“Did Remy tell you her fantastically stupid idea to try and teach the girls in our room after hours?”
Tater’s eyes flew up to me, scorching me, and I looked at the guard again. When I found one of them staring straight at me, my demeanor changed to demure and I gave the guard a soft smile before looking back down. From the corner of my eye I saw Tater’s hands clench into fists again, and he brought them under the table to his lap.
“Rem…” Tater’s voice was filled with warning.
“It’s fine,” I whispered, grabbing my tray and standing. “Don’t worry.”
I wished Linette hadn’t told him that. As if he didn’t have enough crap on his mind. I sent her a glare, which she returned, and I caught one last look of Tater’s stiff form, hands in his lap, knee bouncing and jaw locked. I wished so badly I could hug him and try to calm him. But all I could do was walk away.

And Don’t Miss the First Two Novels in the Unknown Trilogy!



About UNKNOWN (Unknown Trilogy #1):

Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.
When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.

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About UNREST (Unknown Trilogy #2):

Being on the run in the desert means food and sanctuary are hard to come by, but Amber Tate and her crew are not about to give up. Not after having so many of the things they love brutally ripped from them by an unknown enemy who sent their world into the apocalypse.
Survival takes precedence, but once safe shelter is found, their guards fall and the emotions they’ve been holding in are finally released. Anger, insecurities...lust. In their tight quarters, Amber, Rylen, Tater, and Remy can't escape it. The past must be faced, and passions run even stronger in the darkest of times.
In the midst of unrest, their worlds are rocked again when they discover the truth about the war that’s ruined their lives. They thought finding out the enemy's identity would give them the edge; instead it’s revealed terrifying dangers they never thought possible.

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