Monday, March 28, 2011

District 7 - Reaping for THE GIRL WHO WAS ON FIRE

Yes, I warned you guys that I might or might not but most definitely might be participating in something amazingly awesome for the release of the amazingly awesome essay anthology I'm a part of that analyses the amazingly awesome series, the Hunger Games, called . . . THE GIRL WHO WAS ON FIRE (echo echo echo).

Basically I get to be part of a contest, aka Reaping, where I get to give away to two people a copy each of the book!

Or as Smart Pop Books puts it:

"April 5 is the official release of The Girl Who Was on Fire, and we’re celebrating by holding our own version of the Hunger Games’ reaping—one with much less threat of death and way less perilous prizes.

For the 13 days (excluding weekends) leading up to the release, we’ve arranged to give away 2 copies of The Girl Who Was on Fire at 13 different “districts” around the web."

If you are curious what those other districts are and want to up your chances of winning, check out the contest page here.

(if you want to read an excerpt from my essay you can do so here)

So evidently I am representing District 7, which really, I feel is so totally perfect a district for a book giveaway contest considering it is the district responsible for lumber and PAPER products.

And it's all pretty simple. Leave a comment and contact email below and at the end of the day I'll be "reaping" two winners of the book! And just to make it a bit more fun, how about this, why don't you also share your favourite character from the series aside from the obvious trio: Katniss, Peeta and Gale.

I'll go first: my favourite would have to be . . . Cinna.

Your turn!


The contest is now closed :( . But do check out the linked page above to see where the next district is! Thank you all for entering, and I hope for those of you who don't win you'll still get yourself a copy of the book (I've been reading the essays myself, and they are so compelling, a must read for any HUNGER GAMES fan). All hail the HUNGER GAMES!

Friday, March 25, 2011


Let's just get this straight once and for all.

Literally means literally.

It doesn't mean figuratively.

So when you say you did something embarrassing and that you were "literally dying inside", unless you actually have a fatal disease or a knife plunged into your gut, no, you aren't literally dying. You felt like you were dying. You were figuratively dying inside.

Here's the thing. "Literally" is used correctly when you are demonstrating that the usual metaphor used to describe the situation is not a metaphor at all, but real. So, let's say your friend had a heart transplant and they put in a heart made of marble for some reason. THEN you could say, "He literally has a heart of stone." Otherwise you are using the metaphor as a means of demonstrating a truth about someone, so if you met a guy who was super mean and cold and didn't care about anyone or anything, that's when you'd say "He has a heart of stone." Because it isn't literal. He doesn't actually have a heart made of stone. He's just a jerk.

If you feel a need to put extra emphasis on how stone like that heart is, don't add "literally". You could add "figuratively" but that's a bit obvious, I mean, we tend to know that it's a figurative description.

Basically it's like this. If you want to emphasize your metaphor, chances are . . . you don't mean "literally". You just don't.


I'm done now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Emotions and Ebooks

So the web has been in a tizzy the last few days ever since Barry Eisler turned down a $500,000 book deal on two books in favour of self-publishing (ebook self-publishing). So now lots of people are talking about the brave new world etc ahead all of a sudden. Again.

And I thought to myself, didn't I blog about this already? 'Cause I feel like I did, and yet . . . I feel like I didn't.

Turns out I was half right. I blogged about The Race for the Future and my hope that we could all just get along, stop being so adversarial in having either one form of media topple the other. And that we could appreciate the unique qualities of both.

And I touched upon the fact that the debate is between two very different sides, the pragmatic (ebooks) vs the emotional (paper books).

However I wanted to expand on the emotional thing, not just focus on the emotional connection to paper books, but on the emotions running underneath this whole ebook discussion currently going on. And thought that I'd already done that too. Again . . . half right. I'd done it. But in a writing forum. So I decided to repost what I said there, here. Because I think emotions are often ignored, and people who are all gung-ho about ebooks tend to look at us who, yes think they have a lot of merits to them but are nonetheless a little sad about their existence, as totally bonkers. Why on earth wouldn't we be as excited as they are about this brave new world?

So here's that post. Hope you like it:

You know what I think [the tension] is, it isn't people dismissing the Kindle ebook revolution or whatever you want to call it (I for one am keeping a very close watch on it, and I adore my new Kobo ereader - it's so pretty ), it's more personal than that.

Honestly, with the rare exception of some real techno-files, the true reason for the joy amongst certain authors about the boom in ebooks has to do with "how can I use this to get my books out there". It's not about the technology or how reading is changing, it's "what can I get out of this". And there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with that. There are SO MANY advantages to self epublishing. Getting the writing into the hands of more readers. Control over the product, higher percentage of sales etc.

But just as people greet the ebooks with that kind of excitement over what they will get out of it, so too do people on the other side of the aisle greet the news with "what am I going to lose".

So for someone like me, who has seriously contemplated self publishing herself, I think about what I lose:

1. I lose the ability to just be an author. Now I know people really do feel that publishers these days do nothing for an author, but that isn't true. They edit, they format, they hire a designer and cover artist. Some publishers even pay for fancy websites for their authors. They make swag, they offer special deals etc. They send you on tour.

Yes authors these days are doing more than ever and to just sit back and do nothing is ridiculous. But some people are more publicity savvy than others, and the thought that I'd have to do EVERYTHING (and that includes all the putting the book together stuff) on my own terrifies me. Also one of the things holding me back from putting an ebook out there is that I'm currently trying to finish writing a novel, and I just don't have the time to do both. Now I know some people are seriously awesome at writing fast and multi-tasking, but I'm not.

That's another thing. It seems to me the authors who do best with epublishing are authors who can produce books quickly. Like Amanda Hocking . The idea that the world of literature is going to turn into "be fast or be left behind" frightens me because I don't know if I can keep up, and I don't know if I want to keep up.

Instant gratification isn't always a good thing.

2. I don't get to hold a copy of my book in my hands. I love books. I love how they look, I love how they feel. I love everything about the aesthetic of a book.

For that matter, I love bookstores, and I'm SO worried what would happen in an ebook only universe.

3. I don't get paid up front.

4. A more general thought: a possible devaluing of books. Like what they say in THE INCREDIBLES: "When everyone is special, no one will be." When everyone who wants to be an author can be, then it devalues the work of authors who actually ought to be. I know people say that the strong stuff will float to the top, and I hope people are right in that (and that it won't just be people with marketing savvy who float to the top), but I still fear being put on par with someone who can't even string a sentence together and decided for a lark to put their work up on Kindle.

5. I don't get to role play author. I know that's probably the most superficial of all the losing out things, but having gone to BEA three times now, been sent on tour, going for lunch with my editor and agent, meeting my publisher at their offices. All that stuff is just plain fun. I like it.

I know all these points are debatable, and I know some of these points are just personal preferences. I am NOT posting them to debate them. I am pointing them out to maybe give some a perspective on the other side. On why people can feel sad about the ebook revolution while still being interested in it. That it can also just be an emotional thing, not entirely pragmatic.

And also, you know what, it hurts to see so many authors be so full of joy at the demise of publishers. Because for those of us with publishers, their demise means we're . . . well . . . in trouble. So these authors are basically happy that we're in trouble. I know they don't think of it like that, but that's how some of us feel. Like they'd be happy to see all us authors published the "traditional" way fail.

And that just hurts.

I know people would prefer to think emotions aren't a part of this debate, but I believe they are so key to it. It's a matter of either an excitement over what we'll get out of it, or a sadness over what we'll lose. Though I do think most people, like myself, are somewhere in the middle.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Some fun news!

So I have a couple nice things to share!

First: I got my author copies for THE GIRL WHO WAS ON FIRE this week and they're awesome!

For those of you who don't know, it's an essay anthology analysing the awesome that is the HUNGER GAMES, and I was super stoked to be asked to contribute seeing as I'm a pretty big fan of the series (on a side note, how exciting is it that they cast Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss?! Good choice and bodes well for the quality of the film I think).

Here's a description of the book:

"In The Girl Who Was on Fire, thirteen YA authors take you back to Panem with moving, dark, and funny pieces on Katniss, the Games, Gale and Peeta, reality TV, survival, and more.
  • How does the way the Games affect the brain explain Haymitch’s drinking, Annie’s distraction, and Wiress’ speech problems?
  • What does the rebellion have in common with the War on Terror?
  • Why isn’t the answer to “Peeta or Gale?” as interesting as the question itself?
  • What should Panem have learned from the fates of other hedonistic societies throughout history—and what can we? <----- that's my essay :)

The Girl Who Was On Fire covers all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy."

(other contributing authors are: Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Mary Borsellino, Sarah Rees Brennan, Terri Clark, Bree Despain, Cara Lockwood, Mitali Perkins, Diana Peterfreund, Elizabeth M. Rees, Carrie Ryan, Linda Joy Singleton, Ned Vizzini, Lili Wilkinson)

My essay is "The Inevitable Decline of Decadence" and you can read an excerpt from it over at the Smart Pop site.

There's also a contest going called (appropriately enough) The Reaping, where each day two books are given away and I may or may not be participating in said contest. Stay tuned!

So here is the book:

Here is the back cover:

Here is the intro to my essay:

And over at The Reading Zone you can check out a great review and a nice little mention that the reviewer "used [my essay] as an example in [her] classes!" Seriously, I don't know what could be more flattering than someone using my work as a teaching tool in class. Coming from a long line of teachers, I know what a big deal that is. So thanks so much to the reviewer!


Second: And on another note, review copies of CORSETS & CLOCKWORK (the other anthology I'm in, this time YA Steampunk Romance) have been sent out and people have been saying some awfully nice things around the web. Here in particular is a sweet mini-review of my story, "The Clockwork Corset" that I just had to share with my thanks to the reviewer over at Reading Between The Wines Book Club (warning the site is a bit PG 13):

"The Clockwork Corset by Adrienne Kress

A beautiful tale about a girl who grew up on a house filled with clocks, the boy she grew up with and the promises that they made to each other. I really enjoyed Imogen (though not her name =P) and Rafe, the clockwork inventions he made and Imogen’s loyalty to him. It was a full story packed into a small space, 40 pages.
Rating – 4 (Loved it)"

So yeah! There you go for now :) . Will as always keep you posted and keep checking back in the next week for more Reaping news . . .

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Image of Canadian Authors

So today the Globe and Mail posted a series of answers made by Canadian authors to the question: Is This Country Supportive of its Authors? You should check out the answers, especially if you're Canadian because it does fill you with a sense of pride. Also two of my most awesome friends (Lesley Livingston and Tish Cohen) were asked to contribute their thoughts, so that's just cool too - you know, the fact that I know cool people :) .

But then a few people posted in the comments section talking about how much they didn't like Canadian writing. One person said that he/she was waiting for the day "when the writers in Canada finally produced something worth reading" and another commented that "the reason many Canadians don't want to read Canadian authors is because people feel down and depressed after doing so . . ." and that "living in the cold is no excuse for depressing writing. It's as if a Cdn. writer who isn't perpetually depressed and grumpy doesn't qualify for grants. "Another said "why would anyone slog through the extreme dullness of most Canadian fiction?"

So I decided to respond to these posters. You can read my responses over at the newspaper's site but basically I just said something along the lines of "uh, I know a lot of Canadian authors, and many of them write happy upbeat stuff. Also there's more Canadian fiction out there than just this supposedly depressing lit fic, and how can you judge all us authors based on reading only a very select few?"

I then added a list of awesome Canadian authors I knew, who write in many different genres and styles. This is that list (and I apologise for it not being entirely comprehensive, it was a spur of the moment response):

Guy Gavriel Kay
Robert J Sawyer
Danielle Younge-Ullman
Arthur Slade
RJ Anderson
Caitlin Sweet
Rob Weston
Kelley Armstrong
Vincent Lam
Peter Watts
Julie Czerneda
Robert Munsch
Gordon Korman
Erin Bow
Robert Wiersema

(I should add that this list came after I asked whether a particular poster had actually read any of the authors interviewed for the article and was used to augment that list of authors - that's why you'll see a lack of say Lesley and Tish's names in the list, as well as big wigs like Margaret Atwood etc)

But I realised in answering these absurd generalisations about Canadian authors that there was another point to be made. And so I made it. In a follow up post:

"Having now responded twice to people posting in the comments section about the state of Canadian lit and what kinds of books Canadians write, I felt a need to post an actual post on what these posters represent.

You see, the idea that there is only one genre in Canadian writing (depressing lit fic) is very frustrating to me as I am very familiar with many Canadian authors who write many different genres (myself included), but I think it might be very well worth having a conversation as to WHY that's the image Canadian writing has with its own people. Why when there are Canadian authors who write every genre and style imaginable, does Canadian writing get pigeonholed as only one thing? And maybe this conversation can help answer the question of this article as to the supportive nature of Canada of its writers. Possibly this reputation suggests that Canada tends to be more supportive of a certain kind of writer, and less so of others, if people only consider Canadian authors to write one kind of thing.

I would never say that Canada doesn't support authors, and I myself have benefited from its generous support, but that isn't to say that there can't be room for improvement and, further, that maybe we should take a serious look at the nature of that support when the reputation of our writers does not accurately reflect the diversity of our writers.

For example, in a list created by one of Canada's largest national papers there was a remarkable lack of genre and children's writers. There was also a remarkable lack of ethnic diversity. Certainly not done on purpose, but interesting to note it having been done nonetheless."

And now . . . through the marvel of blogging . . . I expand on that thought . . .

The question I think isn't if Canada is supportive of writers - Canada is one of the most supportive countries of authors. In fact, we are a country where one only tends to get famous once one leaves it (ie: like with actors, musicians etc), unless one is an author. Authors are lauded in this country and can become bonafide superstars here. And I think that's wonderful.

But in a casual article for the Globe and Mail we see how the support tends to be distributed, even if it is totally by accident: a lack of children's, genre, and minority authors.

And this is reflected on a larger scale as well.

We see the work of our children's authors ignored in favour of this Canadian lit fic. A perfect example can be found this past year when the TD Canadian Children's Literature Awards - which hands out several monetary awards with the top being $25 000 - was almost completely ignored by the mainstream media in favour of the Scotiabank Giller Awards which honours literary fiction (with a larger award, $50 000 - but when you factor in the other prizes given out at the TD event, the amount spent on both genres is about equal). When it comes to the Giller awards, every year the nominees are interviewed separately in televised specials, then sometimes even in a group special, AND THEN the evening was televised itself. Oh. And both events? Happened on the same night. I can honestly tell you I have no idea why one gets all the attention and the other none. If the money wasn't the same, maybe . . . but . . . it's not even that.

Okay. I can tell you. It's because Adult Lit Fic is seen as more worthy of attention than Children' Fic.

We see genre authors time and time again seek agents outside this country because selling genre to Canadian publishers is very difficult. We see how genre fiction (SF/Fantasy) has had to create its own series of awards here in Canada because otherwise such authors with international acclaim don't get recognised.

We see minority authors constantly struggling not only to be heard, but also to be considered worth being read as simply an author first, visible minority second (and yes, while I notice the lack in the article in the paper, I do also notice a lack in my own list, something which I will work hard to remedy). And the same of course goes for sexual diversity.

Now. I'm not saying there isn't support here in Canada for all these kinds of authors, as Lesley herself said in the comments section to that article, the Forest of Reading Awards is a marvelous way to bring authors to children, and Canadian Children's Book Centre sent me on a book tour to the other side of this country, so clearly there is support for children's fiction for example.

But perception matters. Visibility matters. On a much bigger scale, seeing what is happening in countries half way around the world compels us to action far more than just hearing about it. We need to SEE children's lit and genre and minority authors. We need to see them respected and not considered a sub-section of writing, but a worthy (and not needing a qualifier) form of writing. No "this is good . . . for a [insert kid's, fantasy etc ] book".


We need "this is a good book". Full stop.

As a slight tangent to my point - we also need to stop defining Canadian literature as books set in Canada. Because even if Canadian authors set their work someplace else, they still bring their history of growing up Canadian, their unique perspective, to their writing. I consider myself a Canadian writer though and through and have only one identifiable Canadian character in my novels (so far). This doesn't mean I don't write with my Canadian upbringing informing every part of my work. Especially that whole Canadian sense of humour thing.

My point is . . . Canadian writing is seriously fantastic. And the diversity in the writing is seriously fantastic. And we need to change our reputation, not with the rest of the world, which is actually a pretty wonderful reputation. But with Canadians.

While we're at it . . . can we also change the reputation that a literary piece of fiction that might not be all happy go lucky can't still be highly entertaining and wonderful thing to read? Because I like a good literary work as much as the next person, and there is some beautiful stuff out there that shouldn't just be shoved to the side as "typical depressing Canadian lit fic".

Also . . . what's wrong with depressing Canadian lit fic? Sometimes that's exactly what you're in the mood to read.

Is all I'm saying.