Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Young Adult Award (not a Hugo)

During WorldCon (MidAmeriCon II) this year the question of a YA Hugo came up again at the business meeting. The previous year's YA Award Committee as per the 2015 report was due to report on its decisions on the following questions:

Will the award be sponsored like the Campbell’s? Will the award be named for a person? How will the votes be tallied? How will the category be defined? By age, by marketing category, or by general ‘teen’ designation? Will the award be for science fiction/fantasy or speculative fiction? Will the award be called ‘YA’, ‘teen lit’, or some other such thing? Will there be a word length limit, such as 40,000 words? Details of the sunset clause? The issue of dual eligibility?

The Sasquan report has a good breakdown on how various other awards determined what was YA, what was middle grade, and the pros and cons of using marketing categories.

The report of this year's YA Award Committe doesn't have a direct link (yet). It can be found starting on page 37 of the pdf of the WSFS Agenda for the Business Meeting. If you don't want to read through the pdf, the good news is that the YA Award Committee decided that the Award should be treated like the Campbell Award (not a Hugo), so that a strict definition of what constitutes YA wouldn't be needed, nor would a word limit (which is what determines several of the categories of the Hugos).

The bad news is that the Committee couldn't decide on a name for the award. The report goes into their decisions against naming the award after any one particular author. Instead, they recommended, if the award proposal passed, to create a committee to collect and evaluate name ideas. Which means an actual award would be delayed at least another year.

The Facebook page for YA Hugo Proposal posted that the YA Award proposal passed. That page will also put up links to where you can submit suggestions for the name of the award once links or an email is announced.

For those interested in the procedure of the meeting, Rachael Acks Liveblogged from the Business Meeting on August 19, 2016. The section on the YA Award is 1015-1029. The August 20 meeting covered the YA Award from 1144-1201 (there's also a quick summary).

Here's hoping next year's WorldCon in Helsinki will finally see the creation of a Young Adult Award!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

I suppose that most stories are based on an event in the author's life, or in the life of a family member or friend. Many stories come to mind from a newspaper article or something we've read or heard about somewhere. Like they tell us, stories are everywhere. Have you ever written a book about an incident in your life? I have, perhaps more than one. But today, I'm thinking about the story behind my picture book WEIRD NOISES IN THE NIGHT.

If you've read it, you know what the weird noises are. If not, I'm not telling, but just want to mention why I wrote the book.

 
Several years ago, my husband and I were visiting our son and daughter-in-law in South Carolina. We sat in the living room, talking, as folks do. I kept hearing this weird noise, but couldn't decide what it was. I won't tell you what it sounded like because that would give away the answer. No one else seemed to notice, or if they did, they paid it no attention. Curious me had to know what was going on, so after a while, I decided to find out. I excused myself from the room and went in the direction where I heard the sound. It wasn't a constant noise, just every now and then.

Yep, I discovered what it was. You know I'm a camera bug, so I ran to the bedroom and brought my camera back to get a picture or two. (Of course, my son knew about it but was used to the noise so he didn't notice it.)

I did not write the book for a while, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of turning it into a picture book. So that's what I did.

Blurb:

Weird noises in the night send the imaginations of three young girls soaring. Is it the rain, a dragon, an alien from outer space, or a ghost? As Olivia and her best friends seek the source of the sound, they discover that the truth is not as scary as their imaginations. Suggested age range for readers: 6-9.


Excerpt from WEIRD NOISES IN THE NIGHT:

Outside, lightning lit up the sky like fireworks. Thunder grumbled. And then...

The lamp blinked. The lights went out. The walls creaked.

Olivia gasped and pointed a trembly finger. "Look! In the closet."

Two eyes, as shiny as marbles, sparkled in the dark.

Three girls shrieked and dove under their sleeping bags, like dolphins plunging under a wave.

###

AMAZON          

GUARDIAN ANGEL PUBLISHING



What people are saying:

Beverly Stowe McClure has struck a perfect balance between spooky and fun. When the lights go out, the three friends have to discover what the strange sounds are. Olivia and Emily offer all sorts of crazy possibilities, which Autumn—the practical one of the three—disputes. Finally they go on a quest to find the source of the noise and what they find is sure to leave your child giggling. Nicely illustrated by Eugene Ruble, Weird Noises in the Night is a good story to snuggle up with your child to read again and again. PKSM

Olivia, Autumn, and Emily are together one night working on school projects when there’s an intense storm outside. They hear eerie, horrifying sounds that set their imaginations wild. What could it be? This book had a nice, cozy, slumber party setting and I liked the touch of horror and suspense, although everything isn’t as bad as it seems. MS

How about you? Have you written books based on an event in your life?

Happy Reading. I cross posted this from my personal blog. http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friends

Friends and friendship are usually an important part of middle grade and YA books, no matter what genre.

Making friends, keeping friends, helping friends (or being helped by them), singling out a best friend - if these aren't the main focus of the story, they're usually a subtheme.

With most of the middle grade stories I've read recently, the friendships are always centered around school.

How well does that reflect real life? Even keeping in mind the real life changes among generations?

I'm of the generation that was shooed outside to play on our own. Friendships developed around kids in the neighborhood, no matter what age. We didn't all go to the same schools, though, so most kids had a different set of friends at school. And then came home to play with the neighborhood friends.

Nowadays, parents arrange playgroups of kids around the same age, who may or may not live within a few blocks. Next is preschool, so another set of friends, again of the same age. School may separate out some friends and add new friends.

If books are to be believed, once you start school, you leave all your other friends behind and focus only on school friends. Is that the case in real life? Or is this just for the convenience of the story?

At what stage do friends become friends because of shared interests, rather than because of location? When I was in elementary and high school, I was the only one of my friends who read science fiction. I didn't make friends who shared my interests until long after I had graduated.

Some middle grade and YA stories list friends by their characteristics, rather than as a person. One friend is fashion-savvy, another is the sports expert, yet another is bookish while one likes to cook, etc. Just writing that sentence reminded me of the ponies in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Though I guess friends can be friends because they like each other, not for what they can do for each other or what interests they have in common.

What have you noticed about friends and friendships in middle grade and/or YA stories? What ones do you like?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Guest Blog: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Hi! We're Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, authors of the Liaden Universe® (and other things, but for today, we'll stick with Liadens).

First, we want to thank Kathy Sullivan, for inviting us to talk about our work, and particularly about the new book that's coming out on July 5, Alliance of Equals.

Just a little bit about the Liaden Universe®. Steve and I began writing together in 1980, and in 1984 completed our first collaborative novel, Agent of Change, coincidentally the first book written in the universe. It was action-adventure space opera, with a touch of romance, and established two on-going characters in the universe -- Miri Robertson, a Terran soldier, and Val Con yos'Phelium, a Liaden scout-turned-unwilling-spy.

The next two books were also action-adventure, continuing the adventures of Miri and Val Con. . .

And the two books after that -- went back a generation, and were what we've taken to calling Space Regencies -- Regency romances in a space opera setting.

As of this writing, there are nineteen novels in the Liaden Universe®, and we're not going to bore you with a description of each. We only want to make the point that we're working in a universe wide enough and deep enough to accommodate romance, action-adventure, YA, paranormal. . .

And! As if it weren't enough fun, being able to write in a multitude of genres within a universe of our own creation -- the universe is one where Life Moves On.

Loosely, the Liaden novels are (with a couple of exceptions) a family saga, following the doings of Clan Korval, and its various members. Which means that not only do we follow the adventures of the adults, but we get to know their kids, as they grow up.

Alliance of Equals is about one of those kids -- teenager Padi yos'Galan, heir to Master Trader Shan yos'Galan (another on-going character, with his lifemate, Priscilla Delacroix y Mendoza). As her father's heir, Padi is destined to follow in his footsteps, as Korval's master trader -- a destiny she has embraced with enthusiasm.

Padi, though. . .Padi also has a secret. A secret that might kill her, and everyone she cares about.

Now, you might be thinking right about here that you don't want to commit to reading eighteen books in order to catch up with Padi -- and the good news is that you don't have to.

We realize that eighteen books is a commitment, and we occasionally write a portal book -- a story that can be read by those with no previous knowledge of the Liaden Universe®.

As Alliance of Equals begins, Clan Korval has been knocked down a few pegs or more, thrown off their home world, threatened with annihilation, and generally suffered through Interesting Times.

So, too, has Padi. Her comfortable path to her comfortable, and expected, future has been disrupted; she was a key part of a plan that would have either saved the clan or destroyed it. And the return to normalcy -- well, "normal" isn't what it used to be. Not at all.

On the burgeoning edge of adulthood, Padi is determined not to let these unseemly disturbances put her behind. She throws herself into her studies, cramming, and skipping sleep. Also, there's that problem -- the one that she's not admitting to anyone, not even, really, to herself.

In other words, she's doing the best she can to build her future, while building a wall against her past.

* * *

If you'd like to dabble your toes in the Liaden Universe®, but don't think that Alliance is your cuppa, our publisher, Baen Books, is offering Agent of Change -- the little space opera that started it all -- and Fledgling, the beginning of the Theo Waitley story arc -- as free ebooks from Amazon, and direct from the Baen Free Library. Also free at Baen is a new short story, "Wise Child", set in the Liaden Universe®.

More information about the Liaden Universe® (including suggested reading orders) may be found at korval.com, and also at sharonleewriter.com

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A CAT, EDITS, A CRAZY WRITER

Here's what's happening in my life lately.
 
 
First, a Cat

Tiger is looking it over.
Nope, I don't like water.
I know.

If I only had a pillow.
 
Second, edits!
 
Do they ever end?
 
Third, crazy writer.
 
Need I say more?
 
How is your world these days?
 
(I'm not complaining, just happy I have a story to edit and more are being typed on the computer.) Most of all, I'm happy Tiger and Patches adopted me. Her pictures later.
 
Happy Writing!
 
I cross posted this from my blog.
Enjoy!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Signings, Book Fairs and Conventions

Long ago, it is said, publishers used to set up book signings for their authors at book stores. You still hear of them out in the wild, usually for authors with one of the large traditional publishers. Book signings for authors with a small press, however, are often hit or miss nowadays. Most times the big chain stores won't consider a signing for authors with a small press or self-published authors. Some independent book stores will, but then there can be other problems. I've heard stories of author tables hidden in the back of the store, lack of publicity before the event, lack of signs promoting the event, even the manager forgetting the event altogether. Some of these I've experienced myself, which makes me hesitant when a convention organizes an author signing at a bookstore the evening before the convention starts.

I know some authors have set up signings at places other than bookstores, usually a type of store or coffee shop mentioned in their book. Some of those nontraditional settings (bait shop, beauty parlor, toy shop) work out well, especially with good publicity beforehand.

Book fairs and author fests appeal to readers and can be a good venue for authors. The biggest I know of is Printers Row in downtown Chicago. In 2002 this was renamed Printers Row Lit Fest and run by the Chicago Tribune. It takes up five city blocks - down the center of Dearborn Street from Congress to Polk - in what used to be Chicago's bookmaking neighborhood. I shared a table there with several other authors from my publisher in 2003. It was fantastic to see all those readers filling the streets looking for books. Another large gathering of readers and authors is the Twin Cities Book Festival on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Smaller author fests I've participated in have been set up at craft fairs, at college campuses, resorts, even in shopping malls. Success in terms of sales can depend on so many factors: publicity, the mix of genres by the authors, table spacing, what events are elsewhere in town that day, and, most importantly, the weather.

Science fiction and fantasy conventions are good places for readers and authors to meet. Some conventions will often offer their participating authors a signing time. If the signing tables are near main programming or the dealers room, signings will go well for the authors. Some conventions, though, have the signings off on another floor, which means only the dedicated fans will go looking. When you're an author with a small press, you need your books to be visible for impulse buyers as well as fans.

How have your book signings gone? Do you have any book fairs to suggest?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

INK RIPPLES AND MEMORIES

#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Kai Strand, Mary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll. They post on the first Monday of every month with a new topic. They're all authors, but you don't have to be to participate. (I'm cross posting this from my other blog because the past weeks have  been hectic.)


The idea of #InkRipples is to toss a word, idea, image, whatever into the inkwell and see what kind of ripples it makes. You can spread your own ripples by blogging about the topic any day of the month that fits your schedule, just be sure to include links back to Katie, Kai, and Mary.

Or you can simply share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #InkRipples. You might comment on one of our posts to play along. Tag us and we're happy to share your posts and thoughts to keep those ripples going and intersecting.

There's no wrong way to do #InkRipples (with the exception of following basic human decency!) If this sounds interesting, please participate in whatever way you can. Feel free to use any of the meme's images (created by the wonderful Mary Waibel).

Topics for 2016:

May: Memories
June: Movies
July: Inspiration
August: Guilty Pleasures
September: Banned Books
October: Masks
November: Heritage
December: Cookies


My Memories
 
It's really strange that this month is "Memories." For quite a while now, I've been remembering the past, I mean way back, years ago. I don't know why these memories have been with me lately. I suppose there is a reason.
 
The first one is of my firstborn son who lived for only two days. For years I didn't think about him. I think it was easier not to. It hurt less. Then a few months back I had this urge to do something in his memory. My oldest son made a lovely heart shaped necklace with his name engraved on it. Also with the granddaughter's name, who is in Heaven too. I wear the necklace quite often. And I feel a closeness to them. They lived, if not for long, but I now have their memories in the form of a locket.
 
I wanted to do more. So I wrote a memoir, A Lullaby for David. A lot of things I don't remember, but writing this brought back memories I thought I'd forgotten. I'm glad I wrote it.
 
Then there's my latest book, loosely based on memories of my mother's childhood as an orphan and foster child. I've wanted to write this for years, but I knew so few of the facts. Mom never talked about those years. So parts of my story are true, parts are fiction. It's labeled as historic fiction. And you know what? I understand her better today, after researching the lives of the children that rode the Orphan Trains west.
 
Memories are good. But I think we need them at different times in our lives. When we're ready for them.
 
Do you have memories you love to recall? This meme is a good place to share them.
 
Happy Reading!
 
 

Available at:

AMAZON             BARNESANDNOBLE           4RV PUBLISHING

If you'd like a PDF Review Copy, email me and I'll be happy to send you one.