As I mentioned Friday, my guest for today’s Creativity Friday post is author Lynn Carthage, author of HAUNTED, a young adult gothic historical novel. My daughter Thea is currently reading it, and thoroughly enjoying it.*
More about HAUNTED:
Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Irving has traded life in San Francisco for her stepfather’s ancestral mansion in rural England. It’s supposed to be the new start her family needs. But from the moment she crosses the threshold into the ancient estate, Phoebe senses something ominous. Then again, she’s a little sensitive lately—not surprising when her parents are oblivious to her, her old life is six thousand miles away, and the only guy around is completely gorgeous but giving her mixed messages.
But at least Miles doesn’t laugh at Phoebe’s growing fears. And she can trust him…maybe. The locals whisper about the manor’s infamous original owner, Madame Arnaud, and tell grim stories of missing children and vengeful spirits. Phoebe is determined to protect her loved ones—especially her little sister, Tabby. But even amidst the manor’s dark shadows, the deepest mysteries may involve Phoebe herself.
As for Lynn, she has a secret—and it’s a good one. Under her real name, Erika Mailman, she’s published two highly praised historical novels for adults; HAUNTED is her first YA novel. I first met Erika at the Historical Novel Society conference in 2013. We instantly hit it off, and have stayed in regular contact since. (The real reason I go to HNS: to meet lovely writers who share my obsessions with women’s history and the gothic. ) When I learned Erika had decided to write for young adults under a nom de plume, I was eager to learn more about the why and how.
Without further ado, here’s Erika’s guest post about her alter ego Lynn, and the differences between writing for the YA and adult historical market. I hope you enjoy it!
Kris, thanks for hosting me today. You invited me to talk about my alter ego, and the difference of writing young adult historical fiction versus adult.
Under my real name, Erika Mailman, I’ve published two historical novels. The first, Woman of Ill Fame (Heyday Books 2007), is a historical thriller featuring an unapologetic Gold Rush prostitute narrator. You can right away see why I had to choose another name for publishing young adult fiction; I didn’t want teens to read HAUNTED, google me, and find that book.
Call me innocent, but I think kids grow up so fast these days…they have a lifetime of being sexual, so I wanted to provide a firm line between my adult fiction and my young adult fiction.
My second novel, Witch’s Trinity (Crown, 2007), is probably appropriate for a teen audience, but I can’t send readers there without them also seeing the “shameless hussy” book LOL. It’s about a medieval woman accused of witchcraft by her own daughter-in-law, at a time when women faced burning at the stake.
Which brings me back to HAUNTED, the young adult novel that came out from Kensington in February. I love historical fiction, and although the book features a contemporary setting in England, the mansion where the story takes place has a foreboding history and a connection to the palace of Versailles.
In fact, Book 2 of the series, which hits in February 2016, is set almost entirely in Paris and Versailles, and features timeslipping back to days when there was still a monarchy in place.
It’s been fun to merge historical with contemporary, with my heroine Phoebe Irving wandering the halls of the 1700s Arnaud Manor in England and over time learning tidbits about its history. I know a lot of readers enjoy historical fiction, but this sort of tactic may be more accessible. Phoebe has a modern perspective and can be an effective filter for the events of the past.
As to the differences in writing for teens versus adults: yes, I’ve had to take some language out of HAUNTED. For instance, a character named Miles exclaims, “No shit!” and I was encouraged to take that out. I did, because some big-box stores won’t carry books with that language, and to maximize my potential to someday have the book be carried there, I elected to listen to my editor’s sage advice.
I’m also keeping the romance between Miles and Phoebe lingering and drawn out … half the fun is in the suspense, right? And of course we have to have some complications that keep them swinging back and forth, towards and away from each other.
Finally, for those who are older, there’s been all kinds of data suggesting older people read YA fiction, with middle-aged women showing up as a high population readership. And I’ve had men email me praise for HAUNTED; will it help that Book 2 is narrated by Miles, a male?
If you enjoy a good ghost story, a dark and forbidding English manor setting, and characters who valiantly fight to protect their siblings, you might want to give HAUNTED a try.
Thanks for hosting me today, Kris!
My pleasure, Lynn-Erika—and thanks for a wonderful post! You can learn more, read an excerpt, or purchase HAUNTED here.
* Review coming soon!
So this is happening, along with other stuff.
Yup, the e-book version of THE LOVER’S PATH is nearly ready for publication! I’ll have more information regarding pre-orders soon, but wanted to share the e-book cover design in the meantime. The lovely portrait gracing the cover is of Tullia d’Aragona, the poet-courtesan whose life inspired THE LOVER’S PATH.
As you might imagine, it was quite complicated to rejigger the print design of THE LOVER’S PATH for the digital world. The print book (below) was one of my more complicated book productions. It even included letters, tarot cards, and other interactive items. Another road block: the squared dimensions of the print book didn’t really translate well for e-readers, which are more vertical.
I was about to consign THE LOVER’S PATH to the halls of Beloved Books of Years Past—after all, now matter how exquisitely I designed the digital edition, it couldn’t be the same as that lovely print book. Then I realized: the best way forward was a new way forward. This gave me the creative freedom to treat the digital book as a separate entity from the print.
Here’s how THE LOVER’S PATH has been rejiggered for a new world: Not only does the digital edition sport a lovely new cover, the text has been expanded to flesh out the story. (I had to keep the original text short because of production costs.) Besides including all of the chapter illustrations from the print edition, I’ve also added new “artifacts” from the Museo di Palazzo Filomela in an expanded chapter. Best of all, THE LOVER’S PATH e-book edition will be available to anyone with a e-reader for the cost of a latte.
The e-book conversation is almost ready for submission to Amazon, Apple, and other retailers. If you’d like to be notified when the new-and-expanded THE LOVER’S PATH is available, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter.
It’s the start of Spring, which means that a fresh array of friends are publishing wonderful things. Here’s a quick round up, which I hope will entice you to learn more!
~ Acclaimed tarot artist Lisa Hunt’s newest magnum opus has just been sent flying out into the world. The Winged Enchantment Oracle Deck (above and right) is inspired by the majesty and mythos of birds great and small, and invites us to spread our wings as we venture on our own soul journeys. Lisa created thirty-nine original shapeshifter watercolor paintings for the deck. Stunning! (Lisa’s previous card decks include the classic Fairy Tale Tarot, which I interviewed her about when first published.)
~ The Tapestry (below), the thrilling third novel in Nancy Bilyeau’s Tudor-set Joanna Stafford series is out now from Touchstone Books. I thoroughly enjoyed Joanna’s earlier adventures, The Chalice and The Crown, both which were exceptionally well-written page-turners. Haven’t read either? I’ve been informed that The Tapestry can be enjoyed as a standalone. If that’s not enough enticement, former nun-turned-weaver Joanna Stafford is one of the most original characters I’ve read in years. (I interviewed Nancy a while back about The Crown—read the interview here.)
Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel tells the story of the impoverished French orphan who used her sewing skills to transform herself into Coco Chanel, the extraordinary originator of the famed Little Black Dress. As someone who sews and lives vicariously through Project Runway, I’m very excited to read this novel, which is garnering rave reviews.
Webb’s second novel Rodin’s Lover is about Camille Claudel, the troubled sculptor who also served as muse to Auguste Rodin. It brings to life the volatile love affair between one of the era’s greatest artists and a woman entwined in a tragic dilemma she cannot escape. I was fortunate to read an early draft of the novel and found it thoroughly engrossing. (Here’s an earlier blog post about Heather’s first novel Becoming Josephine.)
Above: a few of the resources on my bookshelf.
I’m knee-deep in revising my first draft of the Next Novel, which is at the point where I’m starting to share chapters with beta readers. (Hooray? Yikes?) While I’ve been in the midst of this, someone asked me to recommend resources for someone who wants to write a novel, but doesn’t know to begin. Which is a great question—hence, this blog post.
My first answer was obvious: National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. After all, if it wasn’t for the miracle that is NaNoWriMo, I seriously doubt I would have jumped off the high board into the manuscript that became A Gathering of Shadows. Beyond this, I was surprised to find myself flummoxed for answers. I mean, I have my favorite books on the craft, but I’ve been writing for as long I could set words to paper. Some of my earliest memories are taking out “how to get published books” from the adult section of my local library while my mother assured the librarian, that yes, I could read them, please let the kid borrow them already.
So, if in doubt, crowdsource! What follows is an edited list of books and other advice generously shared by writers who know their stuff.
Anca Szilagyi: ”Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. One is all about close reading fiction, and reading for courage to do your own writing. The other encourages writing in a more general/zen sense and has a “keep going” shtick that is helpful.”
Shelley Schanfield: ”A good craft book that has lots of practical instruction on character development and story arc is Janet Burroway Writing Fiction.”
Ellen Seltz: ”The Snowflake Method. Even if you don’t wind up using it exactly, it helps to have concrete tasks to keep the manuscript moving forward, so you don’t get so abstract and woo-woo that nothing gets accomplished. It’s a good tool. If you don’t already have a process, it’s a starting point to help you build one.”
Susanne Dunlap: ”I like Story by Robert McKee. And I love Janet Burroway’s book as well.”
Diane Brandt Wilkes: ”Here are the ones that help/ed me the most, in no real order. These are off the top of the head of someone who would much rather read books about writing than actually write.
”Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
If You Want to Write by Brenda Euland
Writing the Novel by Lawrence Block
The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner (My favorite.)
The Art of Fiction by Ayn Rand (She helped me finally understand what plot meant.)
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Becoming a Writer by Dorothy Brande
Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See
Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft by Natalie Goldberg
Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block (He’s the best at the nitty gritty.)”
Melinda Belle Harrison: “For genre fiction, I recommend The Marshall Plan Workbook : Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish. If more beginning writers used it, they would leap years ahead in work.”
Melodie Rose Winawer: ”The Business of Writing, edited by Jennifer Lyons. Given to me as a gift by my editor. Great stuff.”
Libby Sternberg: “I recommend joining Romance Writers of America and one of their chapters, even if you don’t write romance. The romance community is the most supportive and encouraging writing community I’ve encountered, willing to share information and cheer you on. And some chapters — such as New Jersey’s — have terrific conferences.”
Claude Rothman: ”There are four books I consult permanently: How Fiction Works by James Wood, Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and Naming the World by Bret Anthony Johnston. The last one includes very smart exercises for the creative writers to which I come back when I have a problem.”
Stephanie Renee Dos Santos: “The Art of Fiction by John Gardner, The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, Stein on Writing & How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein, The Writer’s Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long, and Between the Lines by Jessica Morrell.”
I hope this list helps and inspires! And many thanks to all who shared their wisdom.
I’m away through the end of January at a writer’s residency at the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts, where I’ll be hard at work on the Next Novel. During my absence, I decided to repost some old blog favorites about publishing and the creative process. Enjoy!
I recently took a half-day novel writing workshop with Donald Maass at the Backspace Writers Conference. The workshop was based on his new book on 21st century fiction writing techniques; it definitely left me excited to continue working on the Next Novel. However, the morning session was a three hour talk by bestselling science fiction/thriller author Jonathan Maberry on various aspects of writing novels—everything from researching fight scenes to making a living as an author.
Maberry’s advice had something for everyone. How do you write about the first time a character is involved in a fist fight? Maberry’s insight: first fights are lost because of psychological shock. Want to know how to cross genres as an author? Try writing a young adult (or YA) novel instead of an adult novel. You’ll have the advantage of being more easily discovered: YA novels are usually shelved together in a bookstore, instead of by genre. I especially appreciated Maberry’s acknowledgement of the financial implications of pursuing a career as a novelist. Unlike nonfiction authors, who usually receive a book advance based on sample chapters and a proposal, novelists are paid after the book is completed and sold—a process that can take years, if at all. This can make writing fiction seem an especially precarious venture.
To circumvent discouragement, Maberry offered one suggestion I particularly liked: to encourage yourself to work on your novel every day, set a low minimum word count goal you can’t possibly not make unless you actively try to. Say, 250 words or 500 words. (250 words is approximately the word count of one double-spaced typed page.) When you make your daily minimum word count, you put a dollar, or whatever financial value you want to set, into a jar.
Once you finish your first draft or another goal (I like the goal of completing a month of writing, so it’s more accessible), the accumulated money in the jar must be spent on something pleasurable to you—no responsibilities. A new book, a meal out, a facial. Whatever floats your boat. However, if you miss a day’s writing, you have to withdraw a week’s “wages” from the jar, which must be used to pay bills or similar.
The concept is to train your subconscious to associate receiving money for your writing, since it can take so long to write a novel and sell it. To reward the process rather than the result.
Easy, right? But clever.