Why YA Isn’t Just For YA Anymore

Why YA Fiction Isn't Just for YA Anymore

There has been plenty of discussion over the last few years about YA (Young Adult) Fiction in the mainstream.

It’s not necessarily a new thing as Mark Twain was writing about characters like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer a century before we got Hogwards and Hunger Games.

In the 21st Century, we’ve seen an entire market grow out of the Young Adult genre. Of course Harry Potter was the catalysts for the massive appeal to teen fiction and that was quickly followed by Twilight and The Hunger Games, mainly due to their big budget blockbuster movie adaptations.

Now, every movie studio has rushed to find the next big thing in YA Fiction but unfortunately not all have worked. While the book series is still highly popular and regarded, the film version of The Divergent Series is woefully panned and the Percy Jackson franchise just never got off the ground. Even classics like Narnia were cut short.

Still, the literary world finds heavy profit in people reading YA Fiction. New series are out all the time, new authors from both the traditional and indie sides are finding audiences around the world who can’t get enough of reading about teenagers going on adventures or having love affairs.

And just why is that?

There are a number of factors but the main one these days is nostalgia. Most well-adjusted adults fondly remember their teenage years when they had no bills, didn’t have to go to work every day, and when the world was new and fresh in their eyes. It’s a safe place, where dangers aren’t all that dangerous and ideals seem monumentally important.

Nearly 50% of the young adult fiction audience is over the age of 30. While this is a surge, again it really isn’t anything new.

The best reason however is that the writing is not “dumbed down”. There was a period of time when fiction for teens and young adults was seen as something that had to be watered down, sanitized, and rinsed to a point of blandness. We don’t think of youth as that fragile anymore in this respect. Generation X has always had a fondness for the teenage years, we were marketed that message when we ourselves were that age, and never really let go of the fascination with being at the end of childhood and on the cusp of adulthood.

As long as the stories remain solid and the writing is captivating, YA Fiction should enjoy a lengthy run as being one of the most sought after genres for readers.

New Artwork for The Brothers Locke

Bulk Brown

Bando

Bulk Brown

Solas is a team of mercenaries for hire who do odd jobs around The Dea. The team consists of Dana Strand, Bulk Brown and Bando as the muscle with backup from two teenage tech wizards Kale and Jocelyn.

Today we release two new character cards for Bulk Brown and Bando. Bulk is the leader of Solas, a mercenary his entire life who takes this latest job for his team but fails to realize how much it will take him from a gun-for-hire to an actual leader.

Bando, a long-time associate, is a giant of a man standing nearly seven feet tall. His muscular frame allows him to use heavier weapons. While not the smartest of the team, Bando is capable of much more than just being a blunt instrument although no one around him expects anything else from him.

These two character cards are part of a series. More will be released over the next few weeks as we lead up to the release of the eight episode eBook series for Young Adults – The Brothers Locke – on January 1, 2017.

A Journey Into Writing Episodic Fiction (Part 2)

Writing a novel or even a short story has a certain structure to it. There is always a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Episodic fiction is a different animal altogether. Some may think it’s writing chapters and dividing them up into “episodes”, which can be true for some.

dominoesWhat I found when writing The Brothers Locke is that you’re trying to advance the story as a whole while providing clues and hints as to where it’s going. This is much different from writing chapters which can be whole scenes in themselves. Episodes in literature are very much like episodes in television.

What conflict am I introducing?
What resolution can I present in the short amount of pages I’m writing?
How does this advance a particular character or theme?

That’s a lot to do in under 60 pages but it is possible.


The one word that kept coming into my mind when writing the series was “discipline”. While it was sometimes tempting to elaborate excessively in parts of the story, I had to keep in mind the point of this style of fiction is for a quick read.

It has to move fast, it can’t be too self indulgent.

Another major concern is how many episodes are you going to write. The Brothers Locke average around 30-45 pages per episode, so eight episodes in itself is a full length novel. I first thought it would be thirteen episodes but I soon found out by episode 4 that it would require a lot of stretching of the narrative to get to thirteen, so I decided on eight which was extremely helpful in getting the story where it needed to go.

Of course this is all based on your writing style. What works for me might not work for you. However, if you find yourself having some of the same issues I did when writing your first episodic literary series, some of these tips might be helpful.

The next blog post on this journey is about how to format these episodes for the eBook format.

The Brothers Locke is an 8-episode eBook series coming January 1st 2017.

A Journey Into Writing Episodic Fiction (Part 1)

The first novel for my Young Adult Fiction epic series Dorian Delmontez was written about two years ago. At some point in the last twelve months I got the bright idea:

I should introduce people to the world and the series by writing a short episodic fiction prequel involving supporting characters from the main storyline.

Yes, essentially I added another few months of work before I actually release the Dorian Delmontez books. But, there were a few benefits to it.

Kid reading Kindle

One in particular is realizing that there is a decent sized audience for short, episodic fiction especially in the eBook universe.

The very first thing I did was check out if any short stories or episodic short series sold on Amazon. Lindsay Buroker had a few listed on her blog.

There are a few others that seem to do well in sales:

Matchmakers 2.0
The Corbin Brothers
The Sanctuary Series

Kindle handles eBook series (or Serials as they’re sometimes called) much like TV shows. Each book or chapter is handled as an episode and you have the option of releasing them all at one time – ala Netflix – or release the series over a number of weeks, months – ala traditional television which is weekly.

While I have still yet to consider which format is best, I am leaning towards the weekly release schedule.

Netflix has made “binge” consumption of entertainment a new thing but in respect to eBooks, where it does take time for some readers to get through episodes, getting the next release might be a more exciting avenue to go down.

Readers could download book one and then each week when a new episode is released they will be notified, which helps to reinforce the brand and the name of your work in their mind.

The next blog post I’ll talk about how I structured my upcoming eBook series as the flow of such stories is different than traditional novels or short stories.

The Brothers Locke – an 8 episode Young Adult Fantasy series is available January 1, 2017.

First draft of the Dea map from Dorian Delmontez’ 10th Birthday

AOE Studios is set in 2014 to start the journey into the world of Dorian Delmontez.

One of the features of this new series of young adult fantasy books is a series of oil paintings. Of all the paintings, a giant two-panel creation has been made of the map of The Dea.

The Dea is the fantasy world which Dorian travels to in all the books, and here is a visual representation of the many towns, cities, islands, and other environments in the Dea.

Writing comedy in your novels

I tend to write in specific genres: fantasy, dark fantasy, horror and young adult. One of the hardest things to do when writing in those pillars of literature is being able to inject some humor into your work.

Some of the best novels I’ve ever read are the ones that inject humor in the middle of heavy drama or between scares. A good punch line or a well-timed bit of irony, either in dialogue or description, can add good pacing to your writing.

But comedy is tough in general, not to mention in the written word. Much of it has to do with timing, just like it does in film and television. It takes a bit of work to cleverly craft your prose to lead up to a good one-liner or to accurately describe a funny situation when the crux of the story is centered around a more serious tone. The wrong wording, the wrong placement, the wrong usage can make a joke fall flat and become disruptive to the reader.

The last thing you want someone saying when they read your work is “where did that come from?” in a negative way.

As with anything, the best advice is to practice. What is funny in your head might not translate to paper, but just because it doesn’t immediately read back as funny doesn’t mean you should scrap the joke. Rework it, switch things around, play with what comes before and after the punchline and see what does work.

Your best help does come from friends and family. Never be afraid to show them your work. They know it’s in progress and they’ll often give you good suggestions. They can also be good sources for funny material as well. Take notes, observe, remember and apply.

Comedy is a big part of any genre if you use it correctly. Don’t be afraid to use it. Even in the most serious or most dramatic works of fiction, humor has a role – often an important role – in fiction.

Tree of Life: Chimera_Turning Point — Featuring Author KC Hunter

Samantha Geary has a new project called Chimera – a collaborative journey in epic writing, where I will interpret the cinematic scores of audiomachine’s Tree of Life album to create an original, music-driven tale. Previous chapters are listed HERE.

Readers who leave their feedback in the comments section below, will be entered to win an ebook of The Immanent World from our featured author, KC Hunter! The commenting window for each post will remain open until October 30th!

For more information on this project, please check out the Tree of Life blog online.

Writing Action Scenes

How to write an action sequenceIn a movie, action is one of the biggest selling points to most blockbuster films. Trailers are the biggest indicator of that. They are filled with the big cgi/explosion heavy set pieces that cost millions of dollars and, between them, there are hints at an actual story.

When we watch a film, the big action sequences are what we often remember. Visually, we can experience a variety of emotions from sadness to excitement to fear within a few seconds.

This isn’t the same on the page (or tablet). In literature, action has traditionally been implied and the experience – until a few years ago – did not have the quick pace and range of emotions that popular culture is used to.

The trend has shifted somewhat in recent times. Writers are increasingly being able to create thrilling, exciting prose that compels the reader to flip through pages, absorbing the descriptions of catastrophic falling cities, space ships engaged in battle, a chase through a forest or a duel between the hero and the villain.

It is a unique art of the modern author to be able to create action in literature. Unlike film, you aren’t just concerned with how it looks. Mixed in between describing what is happening, writers are also painting a picture of the mindset of the characters.

A woman being stalked in a dark alley is enhanced by describing the little details she notices in the wall, shadows that startle her, the smell of sewage, the chill of the night air. All of these things draw the reader in, and if done well, allow them to actually feel what the character is feeling by touching on sensory cues we are all familiar with.

Just as much as this is part of describing a climb up a mountain, it can be used to describe a battle between two fighters.

Modern horror writers are uniquely aware of setting tension of a climactic sequence in the final chapter of a story. Just as much as authors in prior eras could creep out a reader with atmosphere and mood, they can scare them with visceral descriptions of terror.

While action in literature may not be as instantly gratifying as other forms of media, it has the ability to create even more of an impact. As literature continues to evolve, readers can expect to be treated to even more thrilling prose.

Gems In Cyberspace: Jeremy Jahns

Jeremy Jahns, YouTube movie reviewer

Awesometacular!

It’s not really a word, let’s be honest, but if you’ve ever heard it, then you’ve probably heard of Jeremy Jahns: a YouTube movie reviewer who has quite the following.

Now there are several movie reviewers on YouTube and most, to be honest, are crap. They tend to have some uber-geek on camera who can barely speak and form a coherent sentence. With Jahns, you don’t get that. You get straight up informative movie reviews mixed with his own “everyman” sense of humor, a passion for films and games, and a personality that makes you go “hey, I’d like to watch a movie with this guy”.

There are a few different types of reviews that Jeremy Jahns has on his YouTube channel which include social commentary, game reviews and so on, but the movie reviews are the bread and butter here. He typically starts the show with a summary of what he’s going to say, a nifty little intro video with music (which you will forever now identify with his YouTube show, branding!) and then his quick-cut style of movie reviews.

The quick-cut style has been used many times by many reviewers on YouTube, and it also started a bit of a backlash from “real” movie reviewers who take issue with the trend, but even they praise Jahns on his knowledge of film and the quality of his delivery.

You’ll find yourself cracking up when you find him doing imitations of characters (his version of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises had me cracking up), giving a nod to his fan-boy references and generally taking his opinions as valid on whether or not a film is worth seeing.

His rating system is not quite well defined but makes total sense. “Complete dogshit” I think it the lowest an average movie can go, unless it’s really bad then he’ll make up an even worse category. On the other side is “Buy it on BluRay” or the ultimate “Awesometacular”.

You also have to admit this guy knows how to brand himself. He has his own catch phrases, encourages comments on his videos, and wraps up all his movie reviews with his “camera punch”, which is now famous. This is how you should do a YouTube channel. It is one of the shows online that give YouTube legitimacy as being a place for more than just crazy cat videos and illegally copied music videos.

We do have to say that Jeremy Jahns is: Awesometacular.

5 stars

THE ROAD TO DORIAN DELMONTEZ: EXCERPT 2

A few minutes before Losian Bearn’s Haloball team was set to take the field for their match, Dorian was sitting alone in the locker room with his head between his hands, wondering how in the world he got himself into this. Alicia had urged him to eat something that morning, but he wasn’t interested in food, encouragement, or prayers for his safety.
His father, Jamal, for some strange reason, came to his mind. Back home, Jamal was extremely hard on Dorian for not being as athletic as he would like. It wasn’t that Dorian had a disliking for sports. Quite the contrary, he loved to watch games and wished to play, but he was the shortest kid in his class. This usually meant when picked for teams, whether it was dodge ball, baseball, kickball, or any number of other team sports, he was picked dead last. Jamal didn’t do much to help matters by often mocking Dorian. Perhaps in Jamal’s mind that was a way to encourage his undersized son.
The fact that his father could still make him feel inadequate made Dorian mad. The butterflies of performing in a rough game, with teammates he didn’t trust, in the middle of a stadium packed with people, all took a backseat to this chance to overcome the ridicule he got at home.
No matter what, he said to himself, I’m going to do something good out there. I have to.
Above his head he could hear the stomping of feet and the thirsty chants of the spectators. The sound vibrated over Dorian like a shaking wave of noise that rattled his skin. He finally took his head from between his palms and looked down the hallway where the rest of the Losian Bearn team had already gathered.
“Come on, boy!” Gaffla called to him in an irritated tone. “We gotta go now! Now!”
“I’m coming,” Dorian answered.
He stood up fast, forgetting that he hadn’t tied his shoes, and abruptly stumbled over his untied laces. The team laughed at him as he pulled himself to his feet and brushed off his uniform.
“Stupid Dorian!” Gaffla scoffed as he motioned the rest of the team out into the stadium.
This couldn’t have started any worse. Despite these setbacks, Dorian laced his shoes tight, took in a deep breath, and then jogged after his teammates into the stadium beyond.

AOE Studios writer K.C. Hunter Contributes to The Tree Of Life Project

The Tree Of Life project is a collaborative experiment headed up by Samantha Redstreake Geary in association with Audiomachine.

Over twenty-five days, different authors contribute to the story–picking up where the last author left off and ultimately creating a unique narrative. This is a concept that has been done before but what sets The Tree Of Life from other literary collaboration stories is that each story is set to a different soundtrack provided by Audiomachine.

The music is sweeping, epic and theatrical. While reading the imaginative stories constructed by each author, you are also treated to a specific score to each section of the story.

The project has been met with great interests by the public and has been picked up in the media.

AOE Studios storyteller KC Hunter contributed to the project, providing an eerie twist to the story by introducing three dark characters to the tale, all three chanting a demented lullaby as they approach the story’s protagonist, Zoe.

For more information:
KC Hunter’s contribution “The New World”
Samantha Redstreake Geary’s Website
Featured Article on the Tree Of Life Project

The Tree Of Life Video Tribute

Should Life Imitate Art

Many times we wonder about what it is we, as creators, put on the page, on the screen, on the track. Is this going to influence someone? Is this a responsible message? Do I care?

Violence in art
Should life imitate art?

As the gun control debate continues in the country, the tried-and-true questions about whether or not video games, violent movies, hip hop etc. influence the culture – in particular the youth – in negative ways.

My knee-jerk reaction was always NO! As I’ve gotten older, I realize that’s not entirely true, not to mention the reason why I screamed no so loudly before.

I like horror films. I like extreme fiction (Clive Barker, Stephen King, old Anne Rice), I like video games like Legacy of Kain, Gears of War, Resident Evil. My defense of these works of art stemmed from my love of these works of art. I didn’t want to feel bad for liking them or have anyone try to suppress them in the future.

However, it would be intellectually dishonest for me to say that entertainment has no effect on the culture.

As creators, we often love to talk about how a novel can change the way people think, or how a movie can make us see different segments of society in a different light, or how music can inspire people. The positive effects that art has on culture are always touted by artists. The negative aspects cannot be ignored however.

We’ve all seen or heard of an HBO special called Bangin’ In Little Rock, a documentary about rural white kids in Arkansas who were members of gangs, straight emulating the world displayed on television by hip hop artists (or gangsta rap as it was called back then) and movies such as Menace II Society and Boys In The Hood.

Menace is one of my all-time favorite films. I hate to think that it leads to real life violence because someone wants to be cool like O-Dogg. Even though I never want anyone to NOT make a film as gritty as Menace, Belly, or the classic Scarface, I cannot say that seeing a bunch of kids out in a farm house throwing up gang signals was not a result of what they saw in a film or heard on in a song.

Video games, I’m not as sure about. The only people I see dressed up like Master Chief are wandering around comic book conventions with plastic laser guns in their hand. It’s rare that you hear that someone tried to decapitate someone else because they played Mortal Kombat too many times. Do I think it has an influence, of course. Is it an epidemic? No.

Of all these genres, I do believe music is probably the most influential. Movies come a close second, but the number of people who read extreme fiction or view edgy art is dwarfed 100-fold by people who listen to violent and profanity-laced music all-day, every-day. I’ll save my rant about the abuse of hip hop for another time, but think about it: if you have nothing plugged into your ears (and mind) all day except “nigga what? I’m the baddest nigga in tha world! Beat dem hoes! Slap dem bitches! I got more money from trappin’ than you get from trickin'” … you might have a very hard time appreciating human life or even respecting yourself.

The stories I write are extreme. Sex, violence, language, there are a lot of hardcore elements to my fiction for adults. Dorian Delmontez is a young adult novel so it doesn’t have any of those elements, and I guess that’s the point for me. Balance.

Is our culture overly crude? I think so. Does this type of entertainment influence weaker minds? Certainly. Should be ban or censor edgy material? Certainly not.

The solution to this is the same solution to every social ill we have: knowledge.

If you are an educated person, and a knowledgeable person, you will distinguish between what is entertainment and how you conduct yourself as a human being in reality. Emulating what you see, hear and read in pop culture is the act of a weak mind. So is cowering from it and trying to sweep it under the rug.

Art, especially extreme art, heightens the sense, makes us aware, and bring to light things we might not look at. But it is, and should never be, how a person models their life. Too many are doing that, to the detriment of themselves and our culture.

Instead of imitating art, we should enjoy and learn from it.