Thursday, July 24, 2008

That NY Times YA article

There's this article from the NY Times that's been circulating the web for a few days now. Basically it talks of the stigma still attached with writing YA, and how it's seen as a bad thing if one's book is placed in that category. Of course the article is very much supportive of YA, but it surprised me because in my social circle most everyone I know is either writing MG/YA or is impressed that I and my friends write MG/YA.

But I thought further on it. And I realise that my experience isn't quite as innocent as all that. I get a very strange response when I tell people I've written a children's novel, but it isn't quite the same response as the ones in the article. The person I tell seems interested, and I go on talking about it for a bit, and then eventually, I let it slip that it's around 300 pages. Suddenly their eyes come into focus and they say something along the lines of, "Oh like a real book!" And start asking me questions again, this time with a sense of urgency.

Now I suppose I could see this as a positive thing, they think I'm a real author even though I write for kids, where many people don't. But because I now have a few picture book author/artist friends, I have to say, I still find it pretty insulting.

Because the implication is that a real book needs to have a lot of words. That it is a real accomplishment to write a long book, versus basically anyone can write a picture book. But this is just so not true. In fact I often find the mark of an amateur is a first time author who writes a massive doorstopper of a book. Basically that person doesn't know how to craft the story in a tight manner, they wander in their writing trying to find their plot, they are just plain longwinded. I know. I suffer from that exact affliction.

A picture book has got to be short. It has to convey a very specific story, be meaningful and have a voice all its own, in less than 1000 words. I honestly don't know how picture book authors do that. It is a very difficult thing to do.

Next, of all the books to get published, I would wager the picture book is the hardest.

First off the advances are quite small so that agents don't really sign that many picture book writers, it's not worth their while. On the plus side this means an author can submit directly to the publisher, on the bad side it means EVERY picture book author out there is submitting directly to the publisher. Picture books are also the books that most celebrities suddenly find themselves inclined to write, and the market is limited of course. And picture books, really popular picture books, have a long shelf life. Great for the already published, not so great with the new ones trying to compete with Dr. Seuss.

Point is . . . let's not be dissing the picture book writers please? It isn't easy okay, it just isn't.

But I seriously don't get in general how anyone can look at a genre of writing and presume it is easier than another genre. Each has its own unique challenges. Each has its own unique benefits.

Anyway, I just wanted to share the article and do the picture book rant. I'd really actually like to hear from you guys now . . . what do you think about the stigma attached to the children's book thing (including YA)? Did you find your mind was changed in one way or the other? Does it scare you off from writing in a certain genre (say Romance) because of the stigma attached?

Discuss, people, discuss.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In the Country

Hey all! I had to get out of the city for a while, so I've gone to my cottage. Not sure how long it will be, but probably around a week. I have limited access to the internet, so I won't be posting a proper blog entry until I return, but when I do I think I will start with Jo's suggestion of a general overview of getting published!

I will totally get to all your other suggestions as well, and please do keep 'em coming, either in the comments section of this post, or the one previous, they are very helpful!

Until next week!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Need suggestions again . . .

So guys and gals, I have writer's block.

And yes I do believe writer's block exists.

You may blink at that, "Who says it doesn't?" Well there are debates between writers over whether or not such a thing is, but it truly is a semantical debate. First off you can't deny the term exists. It does. You say "writer's block" and people know what you are talking about. But the definition changes from person to person. Some people think there are authors out there who use writer's block as an excuse to stop writing something altogether. For me it is less extreme. It's that staring at a blank page/screen and not having a clue what to write. It can last for a few moments, to even a few days, but, for me at least, you get over it. You move on. Writer's block is a hurdle to overcome, not a road block.

At any rate . . .

I have writer's block. Not for my fiction writing. No, actually the words are really flowing these days which is awesome.

But I have blog writer's block. Every time I come to write a post, I honestly have no clue what I should write about, what more I can say, and what would interest you guys. It's easier when there are exciting updates to make, but right now there isn't much to share in that regard.

So for the third time I think, I will ask to hear from you guys! What would you like this blogger to wax philosophical on? I really love specific questions on technique (both writing and acting), to help with particular problems. Heck if you are writing something and have a sentence that just isn't feeling right, let's solve the problem. Something structure wise got your goat? Got query issues? Of course I say all this with the caveat that I am just one person, and it is just my one opinion, take it all with a grain of salt, but I do enjoy working with people on . . . stuff.

Yes . . . stuff. Very articulate person me.

So yes, post your questions etc in the comments section and let's see what happens!

Friday, July 04, 2008

My Birthday!

My birthday was this past Monday and I have to say it's been a great one! It began with an honest to goodness surprise party on Saturday, which I had not a single suspicion was being organised for me. Kind of got me all emotional. Then a friend's pool party on Sunday (which technically wasn't planned for me, but still was a nice way to spend a Sunday), drinks with friends on Monday, high Tea on Tuesday, and Sushi yesterday.



It was more of a birthday week.


I wanted to share with all of you the coolest thing ever! My birthday cake from the surprise party!

See! It's shaped like a typewriter! Complete with chocolate keys! Isn't it just awesome?!

(for anyone interested, it was made at The Sweet Escape in the Distillery District here in Toronto, and they totally do tons of other customised cakes)

Anyway, all this birthday stuff (combined with a lot of writing) is my excuse for yet more poor posting. I am very very sorry about all that!

Hope everyone is well, and I promise to be better this week!


Oh and a really big Happy Fourth of July to all you Americans out there! May your hotdogs be plentiful and fireworks legal! Huzzah!