HWSWAnswers: Everything Else

And we’re back with more answers to questions you asked earlier in the week.

Cate M asked:
Any tips for getting the most out of an MFA creative writing program as a genre writer (in this case romance)? This is definitely putting the cart before the horse, since I may not even get in. But in the event I do, and you wanted to give me some tips any time between February – September, that would be lovely.
Alternately, what are some ways to grow/ and learn as a writer if I don’t get into that MFA program?

Bob:
I don’t know anything about MFA Programs. There are some good ones. A bunch seem more designed to produce teachers of MFA programs based on my experience one year applying to every one as an instructor since I had nothing better to do. They preferred people with MFAs rather than publishing credentials. I’d take a look at who is teaching and what the graduates do. If you don’t join one? Read a lot. Write. Get some people you trust as a small critique group. I’m not a fan of large groups. Two, at more three people. Continue reading

Questionable: How Do I Know What Genre My Book Is?

Judy asked:
I have written a novel and I am having trouble determining genre. It’s a romance for sure. It has suspense for sure. But it also has ghosts. No other paranormal elements- just ghosts. It doesn’t have that goth somber flavor. Is paranormal romantic suspense a genre? If so can it be paranormal when the only thing supernatural is ghosts?

So let’s talk about genre. Genre means “kind,” so when you’re deciding on what kind of book you’re selling (not writing), all you’re doing is slapping a label on it. Continue reading

The Alice Proposal

Here’s your link to the Haunting Alice Proposal. (If you’d rather go looking for it, it’s up at the top under the Works in Progress page; just scroll down til you hit the section on Haunting Alice.)

Most of you have read most of the first thirty-plus pages before, but there’s also the first page of the synopsis, which is the first act/first third of the book. You don’t get the rest because of spoilers. (A full proposal would be the pages, the synopsis of the full book, and a query letter.).

And now back to Nita.

New Month, New Book, New Proposal, Argh

Because I must get a proposal done before Nita is finished, I have started on a new book. Yeah, I’m not thrilled about that either; I love the book but balancing two narratives in my head is not a good idea, especially since one is overworked and the other is nascent, but here we are. At least it’ll make a nice change for you all since I’ll be bitching about Alice (aka Haunting Alice) instead of Nita (aka The Devil in Nita Dodd).

So what’s a proposal you ask, and how am I making one for Alice? (You have to ask because I need a blog post.).

Continue reading

Questionable: What If I Write a Lot of Different Stuff?

Chacha wrote:
I have been writing for a long time, started self-publishing in 2012 . . . [G]iven that I have not yet found an audience, is it likely to kill me that all my stuff is not in the same style? . . . I’ve got romance novellas, romance-adjacent contemporary novels, historical novels. My published contemporary novels are in three (so far) different styles. Two are alternating-first-person POV. One is 3rd/omniscient. One is straight-up 1st person. . .

First, those things are not style.  Style is the way you sound on the page, your word choices and rhythms and world views, and chances are great that your style stays the same no matter what you write. I write ghost stories, romantic comedies, caper romances, demons, etc. but they’re all in my style; they all sound like Crusies. 

What you’re talking about is genre (romance, adventure, etc.). 

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Questionable: What’s the Difference Between YA and Adult Fiction?

Johnna asked:
“What makes YA novels so popular nowadays with adults? And is the line between adult and YA fiction really there anymore, especially in fantasy and science fiction? I know that you aren’t a YA author, but with Nita, for example – is there a reason why your book couldn’t/wouldn’t be in a high school library? (other than perhaps sex scenes?)

As Cate said in the comments, the big determiner of YA is the age of the protagonist. A YA protagonist does not necessarily mean that the book is a YA, but an older protagonist pretty much means it isn’t.   YA readers have too much adult PoV in their lives already; they want to read about people like them solving problems and making connections.  The focus is also likely to be on different things. YA dystopias are different from adult dystopias; YA romantic conflicts are different from adult romantic conflicts. It reminds me of something somebody said about the difference between pop and country music: pop is about falling in love and country is about working on your second divorce.  YA fiction is about becoming an adult and adult fiction is dealing with being an adult.

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You Can’t Please Everybody . . .

NOW WITH ANSWERS . . .

I stole this idea from Stars in Margins, a commenter on io9’s Observation Deck. She’s a librarian, and they use this game as an icebreaker for teen programs, which means it should be right up Argh’s alley. It’s called “Guess the Classic Based On Its One-Star Amazon Review.” I love this game because it pretty much proves that nobody ever made a movie or wrote a book that everybody liked. Also, some reviewers are nuts.

I’ll get you started with one of my faves, reproduced exactly as the writer posted it on Amazon:

“I bought this for my three year old and was shocked to see how violent and filthy it was. The “F” word was used many times and there were many scenes with shooting and death and violence. Terible. By the way, I’m posting my name the way it is so nobody will know my E-mAil address.” (Movie.)

The title?
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Time Again for the Meatballs Chant

So I woke up late today, read my e-mail, and found out that my interview with Sarah Wendell has provoked some controversy which means it’s only a matter of time before somebody posts somewhere that I did it on purpose to improve page views. This is because the internet is full of conspiracy theorists, conclusion jumpers, and general all round shallow thinkers, none of whom are us. (That’s a joke. I have to say that here because I’m going to get flamed all over the internet about five minutes after I post this, so it’s good to point out the jokes to the humor-impaired. Yes, that’s mean. New here, are you?) Continue reading