Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What is the Difference Between YA and Adult?

What's the difference between young adult and adult novels? Tell me I'm not the only aspiring author who has wondered (and still wonders sometimes). Some novels are clearly written for younger, middle grade readers. But what about older teens? After all, the term "young adult" implies that the reader is an adult, right? So where is the line drawn?

I recently read a fairly popular young adult novel featuring a ninteen-year-old freshman in college who is in love with someone two to three years older than her. That makes the male protag, like, twenty two!

The distinction? I'd love your thoughts in the comments. Here's what I've discovered via a little research:

(the following information I found from Let The Words Flow, Wikipedia, and here)

Age of Intended ReadersYoung Adult Fiction (often abbreviated as YA), is "fiction written for, published for, or marketed to adolescents and young adults, roughtly ages 14 to 21 (Wikipedia)

While we shouldn't go over the top researching teen slang, the narrative and dialogue should read like a teen would think and speak. A young adult novel filters the world through the eyes of a teenager. Remember what it felt like to be a teenager? Remember your thought process? Teens see things differently, feel differently, and understand on a different level.

(Let the Words Flow)

Content and Theme
Themes in young adult novels focus on the challenges of youth and the journey of becoming an adult (think coming-of-age). Some common themes (found here) include:

  • Identity

  • Sexuality

  • Science Fiction

  • Depression

  • Drug Abuse

  • Familial Struggles

  • etc...
In a paper written by April Dawn Wells, seventeen common traits of young adult novels are outlined:

  • Friendship

  • Geting into trouble

  • Interest in the opposite sex

  • Money

  • Divorce

  • Single Parents

  • Remarriage

  • Problems with Parents

  • Grandparents

  • Younger Siblings

  • Concern over Grades/School

  • Popularity

  • Puberty

  • Race

  • Death

  • Neighborhood

  • Job/working (photo credit)

What am I missing? Have you ever read sections of a young adult novel and thought yeah right, a young adult would never think that/use that language, etc... Have you ever read or written a novel that falls in the gray zone between young adult and adult? Do you like cross over novels? I would love to learn from you, so please share your thoughts.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Keeper's Calling

My sister’s book is getting published! I can't wait to read it again in print. Walnut Springs Press will publish Kelly Nelson's The Keeper’s Calling this month! The Keeper’s Calling is a captivating story of bravery, love and discovery. A deeply imaginative tale and a satisfying read for all the young at heart! From cover to final page, this book will sweep you away on a time-travel adventure you won’t forget. Check out Kelly’s website here. And don’t forget to watch for The Keeper’s Calling, available here online!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Writing Romantic Tension

Any fellow romance writers out there? Well, tomorrow is our day. Valentine's Day has me thinking about what works and what doesn't work in romantic scenes. We all know achieving romantic tension in fiction has little to do with the actual act of meshing lips together. But how do we get the magic to come across on the page? Here's a list of things I've found helpful:

  • Emotions - Have you ever laid your eyes on someone and WHAM! Even if it isn't love at first sight (and that can be a bit cliche anyway), emotions are needed to give a romantic scene its force. Describing a character's emotions goes a long way, especially if there are conflicting emotions at work (great book on tension and conflicting emotions here).

  • Appeal to the Senses - Does the music and chatter fade into the background? Do problems and worries dissipate when your love-struck characters are together? Find a smell, a sight, a sound. Adding concrete detail helps any scene come to life. (Kathy Carmichael has some great romance writing tips here).

  • Setting - The Times Square kiss (picture at top) is famous for a lot of reasons. Having a powerful setting can't hurt. What about the setting in your romance scene is special to your characters? Sharing a first kiss at a monumental location pulls at our heartstrings, agree? Another tip I learned from Donald Maass: have your character visit that location again later in your book.

  • Conflict - Of course. What writing tip is complete without this magic word? We can't draw readers in without it. Whether internal or external, tension is needed to give a scene its force. It makes reading addiction. You know when you just can't put a book down?! When I become immersed in the conflicting emotions between a hero and heroine I'm reading about, I know the author has accomplished romantic tension!

What makes a great kissing/romance scene for you? Anticipation? Ambience? Sensory detail?

The average person will spend approximately 2 weeks of his or her life puckering up, so here are some fun little lip-locking facts before you go:

· A study shows that men live up to five years longer if they kiss their wives before going to work, and they earn more!
· Making out is a workout (26 calories per minute. Enjoy those Valentine’s chocolates and make up for them later).
· About 2/3 or people tip their heads to the right when kissing.
· The world record for the longest kiss lasted 32 hours and 7 minutes. No word on whether they had food or bathroom breaks.
· Scientific tests show that kissing reduces dermatitis, skin rashes and blemishes, and makes your skin glow and your eyes shine.
· The symbolic kiss at the wedding altar started during Roman times, as a symbol of the spiritual union between bride and groom, who exchanged “the breath of life.”


Sources: “The Kissing Cure;” “The Kissing Book;”;, &

Photo Credit

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Best Book Covers

Results are in! Thanks to all of you who voted! I loved seeing which type of book covers you like most. We had a total of 17 votes. And the winner is...

Pictures with Real People

Here’s how you voted:

41% voted - Pictures with Real People
35% voted – Real Pictures of Scenery
29% voted – Abstract
23% voted - Paintings/Art
0% voted - Close-up Pictures of People’s Faces

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Which Book Covers Are Best?

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Let’s face it: we all do. Don’t you? I know I can’t help from being swayed. The font, the design, the colors, the art, the pictures, the symbolism… Book covers stand for the words they hold inside. If they do their job right, covers help to sell those words, to get the books in our hands.

My husband and I love darting into a bookstore any chance we get. We look through covers, reading book jackets. Several book covers have caught my eye, compelling me to buy and read.

So, what works and what doesn’t? Let’s focus on what does work for you. I’d love to know. Perhaps there isn’t one type of book cover that beats the rest. But if you had to choose, which book covers are your favorite?

Please VOTE on the left-hand side of my blog (beneath the Quote of the Day). The poll will close on February 8th. I will post results. Choose from the following options (CLICK ON EACH OPTION FOR EXAMPLES):

1) Abstract
2) Pictures of People's Faces (close-up of faces)
3) Pictures of Real People
4) Real Pictures of Scenery or Other
5) Paintings/Art (people, objects, scenery, etc…)

Walk down the aisles of your local bookstore. Pretend you have no prior knowledge of what the book contains inside. What jumps out at you? Here are a few covers that made me pause recently, either at the bookstore or while surfing online:

Also, check out a couple of Goodreads’ lists I found of Best Book Covers in 2010, and 2011.

Also, some articles I found on book covers while surfing the web here, here, and here.

Photo Credit :
Image: Paul /