The Problem With YA Fiction

So, you know how you can link your Goodreads updates to your other social media outlets? (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) Well, someone I follow on Twitter updated their Goodreads status. She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was reading a very new and popular young adult book, that I’d been meaning to read by the way, and updated her “currently-reading” status. She was 47% of the way through the novel and said that she was “bored with ____’s character”.

No biggie, right? We all have our own opinions. Something in me told me not to click the link that accompanied her tweet but me being the rebel that I am, I did anyway.

Lo and behold Voldermort had other “currently reading” status updates. At 13% she said she was bored with a different character. 32% the same thing. Now at 47% she was bored. Again.

Thrice. Three times she said she was bored with the book. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m bored three times in a row, I’m closing the book and moving on. Maybe she read other books by the author and wanted to push through it? Who knows? Not my business. Whatever. But, the problem I had was the last status update that said (and I quote):

YA has little depth. It feels like the same thing over and over again.

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*Naughty by Nature voice* If you don’t read YA/Don’t come for YA/Because you don’t know YA/Stay out of YA

Okay, totally kidding. Maybe not.

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Yes, there are several novels that are all the same or have the same theme. But what genre doesn’t? Why does young adult fiction get the bad rap all the time like writers of YA are bandwagoners? Don’t blame the hardworking writers. Blame the publishing companies. They are the ones searching for the “next Harry Potter” or the “next Hunger Games”, flooding the market with the same kinds of material. I could name at least three books where the main character has to pass some test/enter some random selection at 16 or 17 where they must battle the entire government for the sake of humanity.

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I get it, okay?!?! I’m just as frustrated! But don’t lump all YA writers together like we’re some mindless zombies copying off of each other. There are plenty of young adult books with fresh ideas and compelling characters. I’m not saying you won’t have to weed through a bunch of the “same” books before you find some gems, but they are out there, trust me. I’ve read them.

The real “problem” with YA fiction is that the “YA’s” (young adults) aren’t reading them anymore! It’s the grown-ups ruining the genre! You guys watch a few box office hits and don’t know how to act. Now you want to scour the YA genre. I can’t tell you how many reviews I’ve read of actually well-written novels where a reviewer says, “the main character is too whiny/has unrealistic mood swings/concentrated too much on [insert name of cute boy]”

That sounds like every single teenager I know. Readers of YA (adults) must have forgotten what it was like to be a teenager. Somewhere in between having babies and rubbing Icy Hot on your knees you must have caught a slight case of amnesia as well.

Adolescence was literally like 10 years ago for me. High school has been tattooed on the back of my eyelids. I remember what it was like…vividly! I know how incredibly whiny, dramatic and selfish I was. Everything was catastrophic! World-ending!  So when I see reviews questioning the mental stability of a teenager I’m always like……………

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Who were you at 16? Augustus Waters? (okay, seriously? I was not that articulate. He’s an alien. I’m convinced.) The problem with YA fiction isn’t us. It’s you. Leave us alone!

How about you write a book? Let’s see how much “depth” you posess.

Necole over and out.

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I’m A Real Author Now…

I’ve been waiting for the day. Patiently. Just like this.

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It has finally arrived.

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I finally got a 1-star rating on Goodreads.

First of all, I’d like to thank the Academy and all the little people who have made me who I am today.

Haters Gon Hate

Haters Gon Hate

I’d like to thank the random man who rated my book 1-star. It’s people like you who truly make me feel special. You took the time out of your undoubtedly busy schedule to rate (not review, because I’m sure that would have taken way too long and I know you have several other books to rate without reading so I wont’ take up much of your time with this post) The Missing that 1-star and I appreciate it. I feel like I can fly I’m so elated.

Thank you sir, I appreciate it.

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So, when do I get my prize? Cake at the very least, right? No? Nothing???? Eh….oh well. *touches face* *whispers* I’m a real author now.

xo, Necole

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5 Ways To Start Your Book

Out of all the questions I receive, the one I get most frequently is, where do I start? It usually goes a little something like this:

Hi Necole! I’m writing a [insert genre of book] and I have no idea where to start! I’ve always wanted to write this book but I don’t know where to begin.

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So, here are 5 very easy ways to begin your book:

1. READ.

There is no way (none. zero.) you can be a writer if you aren’t first a reader. You must be an avid reader. Or else, how will you know what good writing is? How will you know how to set up a mystery or a memoir or anything else if that’s not what you read? How can you write a horror novel if you haven’t read a Stephen King book? How can you write a legal thriller without reading John Grisham? How dare you write a children’s book without reading Dr. Seuss? Do you get where I’m going here?

You cannot. I repeat, CANNOT be a writer, without first having been a reader. Read everything. Everything in your genre. For instance, I write young adult fiction. ((YA (or young adult) fiction novels are written for ages ranging from 16-25) Teen fiction is written for ages 10-15) I read young adult fiction. I breathe young adult fiction. Why? Because not only am I reading for pleasure, but I am researching. I am taking copious notes. I am concentrating on character and plot development. I am taking note of the dialogue. I am looking at the conflict between characters, plots and subplots, literary devices, etc. In short, you must READ in order to…

2. WRITE.

I know it sounds simple, but writing is one of the most important parts, if not the most important. If you are an avid reader, then you will know what makes a good book, correct? Most people get ahead of themselves. We tend to think about how to market our book, or who will buy it before we even open the Word document. The first thing you must do BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE is write. If you don’t write, there is no book, and you won’t even have a product to sell. Don’t think about the book cover or getting it edited. Think about your characters, your plot, what you want to happen. Make an outline, draw a picture. SOMETHING! You must write something before you go any further.

3. EDIT.

Let’s face it. Your first draft will probably be a hot pile of garbage.

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And that’s okay! It’s supposed to be terrible! Don’t think you will get it right on the first go-round. Books, especially good books, are edited three and four times before (probably even more) before going out into the world. First drafts serve their purpose because it’s the foundation of your story. Right now, it’s bare-bones. You have the power to make it into a wonderful masterpiece. How? Let someone else read it. And I don’t mean your mom or your cousin down the street who likes going to the library for the free wi-fi.

Let another writer read it. Join a critique group. You need a professional opinion of your work. You need someone unbiased that will give you helpful and constructive criticism.

4. TAKE A BREAK.

Once you receive that criticism you will probably do one of two things: realize you’re a horrible writer with no future and cry all night (that’s usually what I do) or you’re excited/ready to work on improving your manuscript. I know that’s what most normal people want to do. You want to go back into it and re-do. You have a zillion ideas you want to add. Scenes you want to delete, etc. Sure, write them down, but do not touch your manuscript yet. Take a break. You’ve been looking at it for weeks and your eyes and brain are used to it by now. Come back to it a few weeks later with fresh eyes and you will probably start to see the holes in the plot, misspelled or misused words, etc. A fresh pair of eyes is always, always better than a pair of tired ones.

5. TELL SOMEONE. (Brand yourself)

Now that you’re serious about becoming an author. (I don’t know why anyone would pick this career. I question my own sanity at times). You must tell someone. Tell everyone. Here is where you start an author platform. Not when the book is out. Will you use your real name? Or a pseudonym?

Get a website. Create a Facebook fan page. Start a Twitter account. You are now a brand. Your name should be Google-able. You need to be easily accessible at all times. Once you start to gain followers it will be much easier for it to translate into sales once your book comes out.

So, there you have it. 5 very easy ways to start your book! I look forward to reading it!

Happy writing!

xo, Necole

5 African American Young Adult Writers You Should Read

So, yesterday there was a tweet retweeted onto my timeline that asked for best-selling authors of color in YA. That got me thinking. Besides the obvious of Walter Dean Moseley, Sharon Flake and Octavia Butler, I couldn’t think of anyone else who wrote YA. I figured she’d want someone alive since a quick scan of her TL suggested that she was gathering names for some sort of panel. Then she said “no self pub” which pissed me off for obvious reasons, but…

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I digress.

The field of African American young adult writers is already minuscule. Then, we have to narrow it down to ALIVE best-sellers?? That’s impossible. Then it got me thinking again. How come none of us make it? Why aren’t our books read? There was a hashtag started on Twitter (about a year ago? idk now) #WeNeedDiverseBooks that got the publishing industry buzzing about how little POC are represented in fiction. (Article)

So, here is a list of African American Young Adult writers who are brilliant. Let’s make them bestsellers while they’re alive. Purchase their books, recommend them in your local library, tell your friends, leave reviews. We need to be represented in fiction. Give your sons/daughters/nieces/nephews something to read where they can see themselves in the main character.

Jason Reynolds

18049007I had the pleasure of meeting Jason Reynolds for the first time in the summer. I’d read When I Was The Greatest long before I’d ever met him. When I found out he went to University of Maryland, I pretty much stalked him until I found out we had several mutual friends. He had a book signing at UM and I was thoroughly impressed, not only with WIWTG, but with who Jason is. I loved his story to become a writer and how he strives to make waves in the black young adult market. WIWTG surrounds three friends, Ali, Noodles and Needles. It is a story of acceptance, bravery and friendship during one summer in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, New York. Do not be put off by the cover, please. You would be robbing yourself of a brilliant story.

Author contact info: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Varian Johnson

51OO8qa8AvL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve only read one book by Varian Johnson, The Great Greene Heist. It was so good, that I had to include him on this list. Picture Ocean’s 11 in middle school. The main character, Jackson Greene, is supposedly a reformed “heister”. But when his best friend is running against Jackson’s sworn enemy for class president…he just can’t stay away.

He’s also written several other books for young people that I plan on reading. TGGH was voted as Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of Summer 2014. It was also a Silver winner in the National Parenting Publication Awards of 2014. So, parents, this book is safe for your precious offspring.

Author contact info: Facebook | Twitter

Kimberly Reid

51WTBwmSLKLIf you don’t know by now, I always make a point to read young adult fiction with African American main characters. I was on a serious hunt when I ran across Kimberly Reid’s detective series on Twitter. If you’ve been following my blog, you know how much I live for a good mystery! So, I pretty much ran to the library to check out the first book in Landon Prep mysteries, My Own Worst Frenemy. So far, there are four novels in the series.

Chanti Evans, girl detective. (Can I just say how much I love her name??) As the mother of a cop, Chanti has always been taught to observe her surroundings carefully. So when she starts to attend a new private school and things start to go missing, naturally, she is the one to blame. Chanti is determined to clear her name.

Author contact info: Facebook | Twitter

Ni-Ni Simone

13585533Out of all the authors mentioned beforehand, your teenager most likely knows who Ni-Ni Simone is. She’s pushed out numerous books since her debut Shortie Like Mine in August 2008. Ever since her spot in African American YA lit has been unmatched. With popular hip-hop references in titles or throughout the text, your teenager will love Simone’s plethora of books. The series I’ve read is Hollywood High. So far, there are 3 novels(co-written with Amir Abrams) (also a YA author)). The fourth is slated for release late December.

Hollywood High centers around 4 girls who have the entire world on a platter. Daughters to media moguls, celebrities, high-end actresses and lawyers, these girls have their own wealth and share of drama. Now, out of all the books previously listed, this one deals with the heaviest topics (drug use, illicit sexual behavior and underage drinking). It is a drama-filled read. I’d recommend for high schoolers, ages 16 and up.

Author contact info: Facebook | Twitter

Reshonda Tate Billingsley

9780758289513_p0_v2_s260x420You’ve probably heard of this author for her stellar works  in adult novels. She’s a NAACP Image Award winner and a national best-selling journalist. In addition to her best-selling adult novels, she has also produced several more excellent young adult works, including Rumor Central.

RC surrounds high school media mogul, Maya Morgan, who was on a reality show with several of her friends that was cancelled. She was the only one picked up to have her own personal talk show where she dishes her friend’s darkest secrets all in the name of ratings. Drama. Drama. Drama.

Gossip has never looked this good. Currently, there are 4 books in the Rumor Central series.

Author contact info: Facebook | Twitter


More African American Young Adult Authors: (traditionally published)

  • L. Divine
  • Sharon Draper
  • Cassandra Carter
  • Nikki Carter
  • Earl Sewell
  • Kelli London
  • Monica McKayhan
  • Lamar Giles

Other Resources:

10 YA Books about African American Teens by African Americans via Diversity in YA (Varian Johnson and Jason Reynolds both appear on this list)


Welcome to the Black Ivy League… The Legacy is available now!

The Legacy

The Missing is coming. The semester starts on 12/16…

The Missing

Cover Reveal: The Missing

IT’S HERE!!!!

The Missing is coming…. December 16, 2014

Add it to your Goodreads shelf! 

Official Blurb:

The Missing - December 16, 2014

The Missing – December 16, 2014

Reeling from her boyfriend’s disappearance, Raevyn Jones is shocked to learn that she is considered suspect number one. To make matters worse, rumors are swirling that golden boy, Jeffrey Donnelly, isn’t just missing…he may never be coming back.

And Raevyn is being framed.

Her second semester at Benjamin Wallace Fitzgerald University, the nation’s first Ivy League institution for African Americans, is full of twists and turns.

Soon Raevyn will learn not to trust anyone, not even the people she calls friend.

Cover Reveal: The Land Uncharted – Keely Brooke Keith

Title: The Land Uncharted

Author: Keely Brooke Keith

Release Date: October 21, 2014

Publisher: Edenbrooke Press

The Land Uncharted  by Keely Brooke Keith

The Land Uncharted
by: Keely Brooke Keith

Summary:

Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land. Day and night, she rushes by horseback to treat the ill and injured, establishing a heroic reputation as the village’s new doctor.

Naval Aviator Connor Bradshaw is flying over the South Atlantic Ocean on a mission to secure any remaining sources of fresh water in a 2025 world torn apart by war. A malfunction activates his aircraft’s ejection system, parachuting his unconscious body to the shore of a hidden land.

Lydia risks her safety to help the injured outsider despite the shock of his mysterious arrival and the disastrous implications his presence could have for her peaceful society, which has gone undetected for seven generations.

Connor searches for a way to return to his squadron, but his fascination with life in the Land makes him protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland. And while Lydia’s attraction to Connor stirs desires she never anticipated, it also pushes an unwanted admirer to stage a dangerous attempt to win her affection.

As Connor tries to keep the Land off the radar, he learns the biggest threat to Lydia lurks in her village. But when Lydia’s greatest passion and darkest fear collide, will she look to the past or the future to find the strength to survive?

Pre-order today!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | iTunes

Have your ebook of The Land Uncharted signed via Authorgraph!


Advance Praise for The Land Uncharted:

“I was caught up in the characters and the story line from the first pages and hated to see it end.”Ann Ellison, Goodreads reviewer

“Not only is Keely’s writing beautiful and full of vivid detail, but the story and characters are incredible! I love the way she crosses genres and how well it all blends together.”Christina Yother, author of Reverie

“The premise is unique, the characters – realistic, the storyline – consistent and entertaining, and the language – fluent. It has just the right touch of conflict, suspense, longing and hope.” – Annalise Joy, Goodreads reviewer


Author Photo KBK

Keely is a bass guitarist and lives on a hilltop south of Nashville. When she isn’t writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys dancing, having coffee with friends, and sifting through vintage books at antique stores.

Contact Keely:

Twitter

Facebook
Goodreads

Instagram

Pinterest

You can now add The Land Uncharted to your shelf on Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, or FictFact.

Lots of followers vs. Lots of interaction

What is more important to have? 10K followers? or 10K “likes” or retweets? Here is what I’ve discovered about a.) building an author platform and b.) book promotions.

  • Numbers DO lie. Especially on social networks. When you make a new page, if you didn’t jump on the bandwagon once the social network first started, chances are you don’t have a lot of followers. (That’s not to say that over time you may collect thousands of followers) But, what constitutes a lot, anyway? 1,000? 5K? 10? 30K? I’ve come to learn that it’s not always about the amount of followers you have, but about the interaction you get with in conjunction with those followers. For example, someone could have 100K followers on their Twitter page, right? They follow me out of the blue and my eyes pop at the amount of people that are following their Twitter updates. Immediately, I’m curious. I scroll through their timeline and read all their posts. (Yes, I do this for every person that follows me) If more than 10 posts go by without one retweet or comment, there is no need to follow back because I know this person is merely a follower collector, someone only following other people to boost their own numbers. You can have 14K followers but if no one from those FOURTEEN THOUSAND people retweets you or even interacts with you, what’s the point?

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  • Money, that’s the point. (The Book Promotion Scam) Everything revolves around money. It is smart to get your product into the hands of someone who has a large following. That person can broadcast your product (let’s just say book because that’s my “product” and this is my blog so…deal with it) book to their 30,000 followers. That’s 30,000 people you don’t know that happened to pause, like, or scroll past your book. That’s fine at least they saw it. BUT! (There’s always a but) You must beware of those people who claim they can give you serious exposure for your book because of their large following. See, if you run across a book promotion service that states it can guarantee you exposure for your book because their newsletter has 3K subscribed members, 6500 views on their website every hour, etc. be sure to do thorough research. If you go to their social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, IG) and they have big numbers, but only 3 “likes” on their posts DON’T DO IT! That’s what you call ghost followers. More than likely this person PAID to get those followers and they are about to GET you for your money too! Sure, they will post your book and broadcast it everywhere, but will anyone really SEE it? Will you get a boost in sales? Hell naw, so don’t expect one.

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  • Followers vs. Supporters. (Building A Brand) This brings me to my last point. It is more important to have supporters than followers. Why? Because people who SUPPORT you will RT, like, click links, write reviews, participate in book tours, tell their friends, etc. Those are the kinds of people that you need. That’s what helps build a BRAND. YOU ARE A BRAND. People who FOLLOW you will scroll past your tweet, IG post or FB post and continue on in their daily life, never stopping to like anything or even glance over it. That’s why it’s not about the numbers! Forget the amount of numbers you have right now whether it’s 5, 500 or 5,000. The “numbers” will come. Concentrate on making genuine connections with people and watch your brand take off!

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Remember, if you want to be SUPPORTED you must first be SUPPORTIVE. Every time you see someone tweet about their book, RT it to your followers. You never know who could be looking to read something just like that. Authors are very appreciative of things like that and won’t hesitate to return the favor!

 

Necole over & out!