Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's in a name? Defining New Adult by guest-blogger Kristina Perez

Today we're hosting a guest post by my super-smart, super-talented CP, Kristina Perez, who's going to be talking about New Adult!   Welcome, Kristina!

***

New Adult seems to be all anyone in the literary community can talk about these days. I first encountered the term last summer when I saw a call for a pitchfest featuring protagonists aged 18–25, and I thought, “Hey, I have one of those!” Little did I know that NA is considered the older (and perhaps uglier) stepsister of Young Adult. Which got my wondering, what’s in a name?  

I was delighted when my wonderful CP, Susan Francino, invited me to explore this subject as a guest on her blog. Since I first talked with Susan about writing this post, the number of bloggers tackling the topic has multiplied so I won’t attempt an exhaustive overview of the arguments for and against this new category; rather, I will tell you what New Adult means to me.  

First, the basics: the term NA was coined by Dan Weiss of St. Martin’s Press and his editorial assistant, S. Jae-Jones. In November 2009, St. Martin’s hosted the first New Adult submissions contest (in conjunction with Georgia McBride, founder of #YALitChat and Month9Books) that launched a thousand blog posts. The original guidelines asked for manuscripts focusing on protagonists “18 or older, but 20s are preferred.” 

Seems straightforward enough, right? Not so much. What distinguishes a book about twenty-somethings as either New Adult or Adult? And how is that different from Upper YA/Crossover YA for that matter? More fundamentally, is NA a genre or a target market group?

 This is how I approach it. What are the Big Questions about life, love, and identity facing people in their early twenties? They aren’t the same ones we have at 18 or at 35. Kristan Hoffman, one of the original winners of the St. Martin’s contest, described NA to Writer’s Digest as being concerned with “transition,” and I believe that gets to the crux of the matter.

 
Literature at its very best is meant to be transformative and readers crave material that addresses the situations they find themselves navigating in real life. Instead of viewing NA as cynical marketing ploy to hold onto the “Harry Potter”-generation as they outgrow YA, it might simply be putting a name on a category that has already existed in terms of tastes and demand.

When I think about that time in my life, the pop culture references that immediately spring to mind are the movies Reality Bites and Singles (showing my age) and, more recently, the TV show Girls. This might be an indication that Hollywood is ahead of the curve in supplying relevant entertainment to this particular demographic. Even this season’s Glee is attempting to follow the show’s stars as they begin to make their lives beyond high school and their hometown. 

In fact, in terms of the issues that readers are looking to identify with, NA could be subdivided into the transition from high school to college (18–21) and leaving school to join the workforce (22–26). Controversial as this might be, personally I would be happy for the term Crossover YA to cover collegiate life while applying New Adult to those first terrifying post-college years when there is suddenly no precise societal script to follow (and yes, I’m aware of my Western middle class bias). Clearly this model works best for fiction set in the “real world”––or some semblance of it––because the issues facing characters of all ages in fantasy kingdoms or post-apocalyptic scenarios might be radically different.

Looking back at some of the classics of the Western canon, I propose that Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie could be read as New Adult. Sister Carrie is considered one of the greatest American urban novels and follows naïve 18-year-old Caroline as she leaves her home in the country to find fame and fortune in early twentieth century Chicago; her gradual heartbreaking disillusionment with big city life is a well-worn trope for a reason, typified perhaps by her age. Although she achieves the stardom as an actress she has coveted, it comes at great personal and moral cost and, ultimately, she realizes that she will never be fulfilled. It’s no coincidence that she lent her name to Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City, perhaps the most famous Carrie of the 21st century, in both her Adult and Young Adult forms. Watching the trials and travails of Glee’s Rachel Berry––budding Broadway starlet––as she tries to make it in New York, one can well imagine her finishing the same way.  

In conclusion, I would therefore like to suggest that it’s more useful when discussing New Adult to consider the spirit rather than the letter of the category. Hollywood has perhaps beaten the publishing industry to the punch of identifying the target audience for NA, but its antecedents can be found in the Victorian novel 

What does NA mean to you? Tell us in the comments.

If you want to find out more about New Adult literature, check out #NALitChat on Twitter (Thursday nights at 9pm EST), or the blog NA Alley.

Kristina Pérez is a fiction writer and journalist represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc. She holds a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge and her first non-fiction title, The Myth of Morgan la Fey, is forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan. In 2012, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Hong Kong University's Journalism and Media Studies Centre. As a journalist, her work has appeared in a number of international publications including The Wall Street Journal Asia, Condé Nast Traveler, and CNN.

Monday, February 25, 2013

C.S. Lewis Cake

Yesterday our suite mate and good friend had a birthday.  She happens to be quite the fan of Clive Staples Lewis....  

A couple days earlier, she told us about her mother's tradition of making her elaborately decorated birthday cakes.  But she had never had a C. S. Lewis, or, as she would say, a "Clivesy" cake.  


So I decided to make her one.  

Notice the crown of flames.  Lol.

I'd decorated cakes before by sprinkling powdered sugar over a doily, then removing the doily to reveal the pattern.  So I simply made a C. S. Lewis "doily" by printing his portrait and cutting out the negative.  (I make that sound a little easier than it was...  There was a lot of faith involved and it actually came out looking better than I would have guessed from the paper cutouts.)  I placed my paper outline over the icing, sifted the powdered sugar over top, carefully removed the paper, and...

Not a bad result, wouldn't you say? 



Did I mention that our friend really liked it?  That was the best part.  ;)

What author's face would you like to see on a cake? Tyler-Rose and I are thinking about opening a bakery. 



Also, check back on Wednesday, because we're having a guest post by my lovely CP, Kristina Perez, who will talk about the definition of "New Adult."  If, like us, you've been wondering about this new genre/category, you will want to read this!! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
 
We want to spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.
 
save-a-word-saturday
<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>

The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.


This week's theme is:
Music
Navarch, noun
fleet-commander; navarchy, n.

Our sentence(s) are:

     Captain Edwards failed to tie his cravat yet again. He growled then yanked it off his throat, crumpled it into a ball and flung it at the mirror. "I wish to God our navarch wasn't so addicted to music," he spat. "We can't always be taking a break from the war to high off and hear his damned impromptu concerts."
     "The Admiral is, indeed, a very cultured gentleman, sir."
     Edwards glanced up at his very young, seemingly none too bright lieutenant. "There's 'cultured', Willowby, and then there's 'self-obsessed' and 'deluded' and--" Edwards clapped his mouth shut, picked up the wilted cravate and made another attempt.
 
three mast ship sea
 
Next week's theme: Unicorns
 


Friday, February 22, 2013

We're Just Like the Athletes

fear motivation goals inspiration

A good friend of mine who does CrossFit (seriously intense athletic training, for those of you who haven't heard of it...) posted this on facebook a little while ago. 

I saw it and said to myself, "Hm, okay.  I'll read the epic-looking crossfit picture.  Even though I haven't been to the gym all week." 

And WOW, is it applicable to my life. 

Writing takes stamina.  It takes strength.  Perseverance.  Discipline.  Fear. 

I am a writer, and I love my fear. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Swoonable Desk

My family finally moved out of the hut and into our house. We get our amazing claw foot bathtub back!

Also, my parents got me a beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL desk that may actually fit me.



secretary desk
Ahh!
*swoons*


secretary desk
Two book shelves, five drawers, ten cubbies and a desk
all in the same miraculous object.


desk cubbies
Look at all the darling little cubbies!!!
I am amazed someone wanted to sell this gorgeous thing.
Craigslist is a wonderful place.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
We want to spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.
save-a-word-saturday
<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>

The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.


This week's theme is:
Traitors
Buzzard, noun
ignoramus, stupid person; also:  inferior kind of hawk


Our sentence(s) are:

        "You let the buzzard get free!"  He kicked the empty cage across the field.  "I told you not to take your eyes off it!  That was your only job!  What were you thinking, you--you...buzzard!"
        "Surely you don't need two of us."   The man's assistant smiled, his narrow eyes contrasting to his master's, which were popping out of their sockets.  "And what makes you think it got free of its own accord?"
        "You--"  The man fumed.  "You set it free.  Well, I'll feed it your eyeballs if I can catch it again!"

Pardon my random late-night morbid fascination with eyeballs.... :/  Next week's theme:  Music.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"The thing that you love."

Pardon me while I open this post by talking about Aristotle...  I promise there's a writerly point coming.  By the end, in fact, I will be explaining to you what I believe is a surefire way to keep motivated as a writer.

Aristotle lays out "four causes," which answer the "why" question for any specific thing.  These causes are...

1.  the material cause
2.  the moving cause
3.  the formal cause 
4.  the final cause

Using a work of art as an example will prove helpful--in this case, specifically, I'm talking about my favorite statue, the Bernini pictured to the right.  


daphne and apollo
See it in person.  Pictures don't cut it.
A brief explanation: 

1.  material cause:  the thing "out of which";  this is the marble out of which the sculpture is carved
2.  moving cause:  the thing "by which";  Bernini himself is the moving cause of this statue
3.  formal cause:  the thing "into which" or that by which it is defined;  in this case, the formal cause is Daphne and Apollo
4.  final cause:  the thing "that for the sake of which";  here, this would be what Daphne and Apollo and their story represent--which I will leave you to decide...


Notice (that tingle on the back of your spine is the feeling of relevance approaching!) how these could easily apply to a novel.  But first, a bit more on the final cause

The final cause, according to one of my teachers who has a knack for stating things clearly and provokingly, can be described thus:

"It's the thing that you love." 


Writing, and rewriting, and revising, and revising again is a constant exercise in beholding the final cause of your work.  If you can fix an unwavering eye on the answer to that "Why?"--if you can manage to never, ever forget the true reason why you're writing the story you're writing--then how could you give up? 

It's a constant exercise in beholding "the thing that you love." 

And if you can do that, and the thing that you love is at all worthy, and you don't stop until your readers will be able to see what you have seen this whole time...

Your writing will be too true to fail. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monomyth

I don't know if I've talked about his one the blog yet, but I've been sucked into something of a black hole while revising the beginning of my WIP. Or maybe it's not a black hole, but something more like Groundhog Day. I can't move onwards until I've got the beginning right, and the beginning isn't right yet. Four times and counting and the beginning is not anywhere near right. And not just "Well, this paragraph might be better over here" but more like "Why don't I just save myself the trouble, delete the first three chapters and start over again?"

But (I've found a silver lining) it is most excellent blog material! Bwa ha ha ha ha!!!

So, I've decided that as I struggle along with different parts of my story, I will do a little (ha!) post about Monomyth and the Hero's Journey since those are usually the terms in which I think of my plot structure.

Monomyth is the idea that every story (every good story that is. I know there are suckidudinous ones that don't) is at its core, the same story.

Now, you may be whimpering quietly that your story is nothing like . . . Well, like Twilight, for example. YOUR story has likable characters and plot development and conflict and stakes and men who have the decency not to sparkle. All I can say is: well, good. But under the surface, at its very core, if your story means anything at all, it DOES share some things with Twilight (Though, we pray, not the soulless, infatuated narrator or too-good-to-be-true, twinkling hero) and that is a good thing.


Edward Cullen Peacoat
I am amused by the Sullen Peacoat Picture.
Sue me.


I would say that the most famous student of the Monomyth or the Hero's Journey was Joseph Campbell. He wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces. (Is that not an awesome title?) In it he lays out a formula found in myths the world over. However, this is a not a formula like a plug-these-points-in-and-out-will-pop-a-novel-to-make-the-masses-weep sort of formula. It is a formula that underpins every good story, whether we realize it is there or not. I think it is because that is how we live our lives. We understand what makes a hero, even if it is not on a conscious level.

Here is the best picture I could find of it:



monomyth journey cycle
This is a compilation of several different systems of talking about Monomyth.
Joseph Campbell among them.
Also one called Women Who Run with the Wolves.
I got it for a birthday present.
Now, I'm getting in touch with my inner Wild Woman.
(source)

I know it sticks rather inelegantly over our side bar, but I really wanted you to be able to read all the wonderful little things on this chart.

If you care to follow along as I explain, this chart begins at the top, just to the right of the Fourth Threshold and moves clockwise. I'm just going to do the first two steps today.

1. The Call to Adventure
  • Your protagonists life is going along swimmingly (or it might be really awful), but either way things are as they have always been. Suddenly, your protagonist opens a wardrobe door and finds herself staring into a forest--aliens fall from the sky--pirates attack--the dragon egg hatches. A wonderful journey is just at her fingertips if only she has the courage to embrace it. She can of course refuse the call--shut the wardrobe door--ignore the aliens--hand the dragon egg to someone else and let the opportunity pass her by, but she'll regret it in the long run.
2. The Threshold
  • This step is not on the chart. It comes before the Mentor, before any Test and Trials and before what they are calling the First Threshold. The Threshold is the moment when the protagonist makes the decision to embrace the adventure. Often symbolized by stepping a threshold and locking the door behind you. It is the point of no return at which point there is no turning back no matter how uncomfortable the adventure might become. The wardrobe door is locked shut with the protagonist on the snowy side--the pirates drag our heroine kicking and screaming onto their ship--the dragon egg hatches.

I think the Threshold is the part I'm having trouble with. My Call to Adventure is doing just fine, thank you very much, but unfortunately I keep seeing ways that my heroine can wiggle out of her adventure after she has supposedly crossed the threshold. I just want to build a brick wall around her home. No, you may not go home again. Get out there and HAVE YOUR FRICKING ADVENTURE.

Maybe I'll burn the forest behind her.

I think most likely she (and therefore, I) have motivation issues of all sorts. That can be my project for the rest of the week: Get motivated.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
 
We want to spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.
 
save-a-word saturday
<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>

The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.


This week's theme is:
Dreams
Rusticate, verb.
live in country; make rustic; punish by expelling from university for a period; Architecture, face with large, boldly textured blocks with deep grooves between. rustication, n.


 
Our sentence(s) are:
 
     "Hello, George," a lazy voice said from the doorway.
     George looked up from his ledgers with a start and found his elegantly dressed, altogether useless, and disgustingly handsome brother lounged against the door frame. George blinked. "Henry. You're supposed to be at University. Please, please tell me this is a horrible dream from which I will soon awaken."
     Henry smiled and crossed the room to lean against George's sturdy desk. "No such luck, brother. I've been sent down to rusticate and shan't be leaving again soon, I should think, once father hears what's happened."
     "What has happened?" George asked.
     "Oh, nothing whatsoever. Only a little incident with a few cows, a touch of paint, and the Dean's very lovely daughter."
    

Next week's theme:  Traitors

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"The whites of their eyes"



If you are American, prepare to have flashbacks to the last time you learned about the Revolutionary War.

If you are not American, prepare to take a very quick (and relevant to writing, I promise) dip into American history/lore.  Red-white-and-blue diver suit recommended.  

***

At the Battle of Bunker Hill (Do not comment and tell me it was actually Breed's Hill.  I know, and I don't care.  This is basically a myth anyway.), the American revolutionaries were still a bit of a rag-tag militia, still somewhat new to facing the big, red superpower that was the British army. 

And they were low on ammunition.

But there they were, fighting this fight with the worst odds and for the highest ideals, and it was at this point that a general is said to have given a famous order.

"Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes."  


[Read if you are interested in historical accuracy:  "Whether or not it was actually said in this battle, it was clear that the colonial military leadership were regularly reminding their troops to hold their fire until the moment when it would have the greatest effect, especially in situations where their ammunition would be limited." ~The ever-confident Wikipedia]

Regardless, the incident has been mythologized and we still remember this command:


"Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes." 


Imagine how terrifying.  A highly trained army is marching towards you like a machine, bristling with weapons that can either stab you or shoot you--and you're supposed to stand your ground until they're THAT CLOSE?  And NOT shoot, while your finger is sitting there on the trigger? 

I bet if you were an American soldier, the British army marched in slow motion.  I bet those moments felt like eternity. 



weeping eyes
photo credit:  Rick Sampson

Man, am I glad I'm not at the front of a battle line. 

But I am preparing a novel for the query process.  (Relevance--I promised!  Non-Americans, you can take off your red-white-and-blue diver suit now.  Though it does look good on you.) 

Seriously, though--I wanted to send this manuscript off to agents a year ago.  WAITING IS HARD.  But the book wasn't ready then, and it's not quite ready now.  And while I'm not low on ammunition, it takes a lot of time and energy to create more. 

 Even thought it sometimes feels like waiting is going to get me shot, I'm going to hold fire until I know I can hit my mark. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
 
We want to spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.
 

<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>

The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.


This week's theme is:
Tea cups
Carfuffle, noun
1. the original form of kerfuffle; a disturbance or fuss

Our sentence(s) are:

        Axel pulled a battered tea cup out of his pack, used his thumb to cover a hole where the handle used to be, and dipped it into the stream.

        I crossed my arms and stared as he poured cup after cup down his throat. 

        He let the last few drops of murky water fall into his mouth, then held the blue and gold paint up to the sunlight.  "My sisters would be in such a carfuffle if they could see me now," he explained.  "It would comfort them to know I'm still drinking out of our fine china." 

Next week's theme:  Dreams

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Year's Giveaway Results and Other Asorted Awesomeness


Today is a great day. Firstly, it's Friday which is always a good thing.

Secondly, we have a winner for our New Year's Giveaway!!!!!!

Joana of The Boundless Book List!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered. Joana, we will be sending you an email shortly.


In other news:

The lovely Susan Francino is guest posting over on Kristina Perez's Blog on different kinds of world building. So hop over and check that out. Also, Kristina's blog is one of the prettiest I've ever seen.

Lastly, but not leastly, we have a new tab! It contains a description of our weekly meme, Save-a-Word Saturday, procedures for entering, and a glossary of the words we have saved. There are more of them than I thought, all now located on a single page for your browsing convenience. Wondering how to ganch someone? The answer awaits you in our new tab.

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for Save-a-Word Saturday!