The “new adult” genre and the approaching genre singularity

October 8, 2012 § 9 Comments

Yes, I understand that genres are useful because they help booksellers know where to shelve new books and readers find books similar to those they already like. That said, do we really need so many of them?

In case you’ve missed the news, the powers that be have decided to shoe-horn yet another genre in between children’s books and “adult” books (maybe I should call them “grown up books” as “adult books” sounds like 50 Shades of Gray). “New adult” is the new genre, and in case your powers of deduction are failing you today, it describes books between young adult and old adult books, (which I will henceforth just refer to as “boring books”) and as far as I can tell is basically defined by having a protagonist of late high school or early college age.

In principle there is nothing particularly wrong with this and it might actually help me eventually sell a book as this is the range I sometimes I write in. Like I said, there really are uses for genre distinctions. But I can’t help but feel that this “new adult” genre is either a) just a way to get adult readers to feel less embarrassed about reading books described as “young adult,” or b) write more salacious and “adult” scenes in YA books while still being able to maintain that they aren’t targeted to young adults. « Read the rest of this entry »

2 things the Hunger Games film reminds us about the book industry

March 23, 2012 § 9 Comments

It’s not a big secret that I’m pretty conflicted about books that are made into movies, even (and sometimes especially) if the movies turn out good. That said, it’s been incredibly encouraging to see all the hubbub created by the release of the first Hunger Games movie. I’ve talked to dozens of people who would never have heard of the book if it weren’t for the movie, many of them who were reading it to see what the commotion is all about. Even better–“something better than getting people reading?!” you ask–yes, even better is that it’s getting people talking about the themes of the book, like privileged people taking what they have for granted and turning a blind eye to the suffering of others, and being used by non-profits as an opportunity to raise awareness about world hunger.

And I have to admit that it would be dishonest of me to say that I haven’t been stoked to see it.

So rather than get down about the fact that many times more people are going to see the movie than will ever read the book, I’m looking at the positive. « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: The Resisters by Eric Nylund

January 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

In the spirit of full disclosure, I went into The Resisters really wanting to like it. In high school I read and enjoyed Eric Nylund’s Halo novels and I wasn’t the only one. After writing those books, he received a steady stream of letters, emails, etc. from readers (mostly boys who hadn’t done much reading) asking where they could find other books like them. He pointed them to Ender’s Game and Robert Heinlein, but in the end decided that there just wasn’t enough good fiction for boys. So he set about writing The Resisters in an attempt to appeal to a generation of boys more likely to be playing video games and watching movies than reading books. In my opinion, The Resisters landed right on the mark.

Twelve-year-old Ethan Blackwood has always known exactly what he wanted—to win the state soccer championship, get into the best high school, and become an astronaut. Then he meets Madison and Felix, who tell him something . . . insane. They claim that 50 years ago, aliens took over the earth, and everyone past puberty is under their mind control. Ethan doesn’t believe it. But then he sees for himself the aliens’ monster bug robots and the incredible way that Madison and Felix have learned to fight them. So Ethan Blackwood has a choice: he can go back to his normal, suburban, protected lie of a life—or he can become a Resister.

I talked about it a little in my post on lessons I learned from what I read in 2011, but « Read the rest of this entry »

A moment of publishing panic

November 9, 2011 § 3 Comments

I had a big, heart-racing, prepare-yourself-for-embarrassment moment of panic yesterday. First, a bit of background: I started submitting short stories to science fiction and fantasy magazine a little less than a year ago. I started out with two making the rounds of the various big name magazines in sci-fi and fantasy short stories and quickly became frustrated. I had only gathered about six rejections before I was feeling like submitting was a big waste of time (for reference, many stories are rejected a dozen times or more before they find a home).  It wasn’t an “I should burn everything I’ve ever written and never touch a pen again” kind of frustration, more the “My work is clearly not ready to submit” variety. I was ready to pull both stories and buckle down to improve my craft when « Read the rest of this entry »

Short stories: a love letter

October 27, 2011 § 4 Comments

I have an embarrassing admission to make. Several actually.  The first is that until recently I generally thought short stories were dull and only good for English textbooks.  I didn’t even realize that short story markets existed outside textbooks and if you’d asked me if I’d ever read an anthology I would have had to find a dictionary. The second embarrassing thing is that the only reason I started reading short stories is because I wanted to write short stories, and the only reason I wanted to write short stories was to get the practice was to publish a novel.  I have since learned the error of my ways.

Why I love to read them:

A good short story is like lightning in a bottle.  It packs a punch with a clear theme, a lot of character, and no wasted words.  I love that when my life feels too busy to tackle a novel, I can pick up one of my anthologies and read a short story before bed with no obligation to read the next day. Often these short stories leave a bigger impact on my than most novels. « Read the rest of this entry »

Attacking that Pipe Dream Mario Style (with a little help from Robert Heinlein)

October 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

For a long time I didn’t tell anybody that I wanted to be an author.  Even now, I’ll mention to people that one of my short stories is being published in November, and they will say “Whaaaaa? I didn’t know you write.”  The big reason it took so long to tell people I wanted to be an author is that it feels like everybody wants to be an author.  I can think of a half-dozen people off the top of my head that have, at one time or another, mentioned that they have a book idea, partially completed manuscript, etc.  The fact that so many people say they want to be authors (preferably of the published variety) and so few ever get to that point makes writing feel like a pipe dream.  I hesitated to tell people about wanting to be a writer because A) half the time I felt like I didn’t stand a chance of my writing ever going anywhere, and B) I didn’t think people would take my aspirations seriously, which made me even more self-conscious. « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

September 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

I also read this book on vacation, in the two days after the two days I spent reading The Warded Man (what can I say, reading is relaxing to me). It follows 75-year-old John Perry as he starts a new life in the army, defending humanity and it’s colonies from hostile aliens, in exchange for a rejuvenation that leaves him in a suped-up 25-year-old version of his body.  Basically the exact opposite premise of Enders Game.

I’ve always been a big fan of Heinlein in general, and Starship Troopers specifically (the book, not the movie), and Old Man’s War takes all the best parts of that and trims the long chapters that feel like lectures (or at least hides them better).  A great read that’s well-written with a fascinating plot and some interesting twists for good measure, I loved it and would recommend it to anyone interested in science fiction.

As an interesting aside, he originally published it as a free serial on his web site, though he doesn’t recommend you try the same.  In an even more interesting aside, Cherie Priest, author of Boneshaker, was discovered the same way.

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