Hard Fantasy vs Soft Fantasy for Children

Patrick Rothfuss profile

Patrick Rothfuss image was taken from this interview.

In Talks at Google with Patrick Rothfuss, he answers a question dear to my heart. I usually discuss it in relation to children’s theatre, but it holds. They’re smarter than you think.

Audience Question: How hard is it to make hard fantasy versus soft fantasy for children?

Rothfuss: There’s an unfortunate tendency among people in general to say, oh, I’ll just write a fantasy novel because you can just make stuff up. And that’s wrong, because that’s not – you can just do a bunch of stuff and magic will make it make sense. You can, but that’s not good writing, it’s not good storytelling, it’s not good craft.

In my opinion, similarly, people, sometimes, in the genre, are like, well, boy, I wish I could write YA because then kids don’t know what a plot hole is, they don’t care about consistent characterization, they’re not gonna call me on the million dragons ecology problem that I’ve created, this is not a sustainable eco-structure. But that, in my opinion, is a really egregious cop-out. Because in the same way that food that we feed our children should be actually held to a higher standard than the food you give to an adult, because an adult can say, blech, this is awful, or they can read the label and go, oh, this has terrible things in it and it’s going to make me sick and give me cancer. A kid can’t. 

And so you owe it to kids to actually put more work into this because it’s harder to write short. It’s harder to write simply [sic]. It’s harder to do a lot of these things, and it’s harder to write cohesive, coherent, internally coherent fantasy. And you shouldn’t go to YA thinking, oh, my, this will be way easier. I can just bang out 30,000 words and then go play World of Warcraft.

No.

I do not approve.

I know that it’s hard, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try for it. That’s my philosophy.”

Event: Master Your Marketing w/ Christina Farley

I discovered the Writer’s Atelier through NanOrlando, when they hosted a series of NaNoWriMo prep sessions. (I didn’t use NaNo for its strict purpose of writing this year, but as a motivator to continue with my Horatio edits.) I was struck with how useful and supportive their community is. Without knowing me, they welcomed my then 2 month-old into a write-in, and everyone there truly enjoyed his presence and helped me feel comfortable.

So of course I looked at their other activities, and the online class Master Your Marketing with Christina Farley caught my eye. Last fall, three of my editing/social media clients asked my advice on building a platform for their nonfiction works, and that raised new questions for me. Farley looks to address a lot of these questions along with some basics of social media.

I asked Farley the questions that my clients asked me, to see what I might learn from her course. Below are her master your marketing with Christina Farleyanswers.

CMJ: What does a writer’s brand mean to you?

CF: I like to think that a writer’s brand symbolizes who you are as a writer. It not only ties in with your books and writing style, but it draws from who you are as a person. Also a well-developed author brand is more than just the cover of the book or a Twitter header. It delves deeper into all the aspects of the persona of you as a writer. A true test of this is a reader/editor/agent/ should be able to in one glance at any aspect of your writer’s persona grasp a clear concept of who you are as a writer.

CMJ: What does “platform” mean to you? As in, when a publisher says they’ll read a proposal or manuscript if a writer builds their platform?

CF: An author’s platform is essentially like the ‘auditorium’ (if you will) where your voice as an author is heard. Imagine you standing on the stage (scary for some of us introverted writers!) and those sitting in the audience are all of the people excited and eager to hear what you have to say. What you are displaying on the stage and how many people sitting in your audience is what the publishers are interested. An author’s platform is a key component for the nonfiction writer, and though not as important for the fiction writer, it can still be a valuable resource if utilized effectively.

CMJ: How do you divide writing and marketing time?

CF: Writing must always come first. Every time. But there are hours in your day that your brain needs a creative reprieve. That’s when you can spend time on your marketing. The key is to prioritize what is most important and essential to your marketing needs. From there, you can break down a plan and schedule yourself so you aren’t overwhelmed and your writing doesn’t goes by the wayside.

C FarleyCHRISTINA FARLEY is the author of the bestselling Gilded series, a YA contemporary fantasy series set in Korea and upcoming middle grade, THE PRINCESS & THE PAGE, set in France. GILDED was nominated for Korea’s Morning Calm, Ohio’s Buckeye award, and the Tome’s It List. It also was hailed in Epic Read’s anticipated reads, PriceStyle’s recommended summer reads, Book Riot’s favorite myth inspired reads, and BuzzFeed’s 21 amazing series they’ll miss. She is a certified teacher holding a master’s degree in education and has taught writing workshops worldwide.

 

Christina’s Books:

Gilded-FarleyChristinaFarley-Silvern-high-resBRAZEN-coverpp-farley


I will always jump on learning a new way of social marketing, and will report back here on each of her courses*. You can register for the entire series or a’la carte, and also include one-on-one mentoring.

*DISCLOSURE: I arranged a discount to the courses in exchange for reporting on each one.

Cover Reveal: Dream Eater

dream-eater-front

This is how K. Bird Lincoln’s latest urban fantasy was described to me: “a half-Japanese college student discovers her mythological parentage.”

Sold.

I learned more details on Lincoln’s author page*: “half-Japanese girl finds out she’s the daughter of mythological, dream-eating Baku, yearns for delicious artisan chocolate, meets a handsome stranger with a secret of his own, and fends off attacks by creepy community college professors and water dragons.”

Although I’m a fairy/folk tale/mythology nut, I don’t know much about Japanese mythology (thanks, Eurocentric education). When I looked up Baku, I learned that is the spirit who can eat people’s nightmares.

“A child having a nightmare in Japan will wake up and repeat three times, “Baku-san, come eat my dream.” Legends say that the baku will come into the child’s room and devour the bad dream, allowing the child to go back to sleep peacefully.”

My son is starting to have nightmares. Maybe calling on Baku-san will help him fight through them. We have to stay careful though, because if you call on Baku too much, s/he may gobble up your good dreams as well. What does that leave you with?

I’ve enjoyed quite a few stories published by World Weaver Press lately, including The Falling of the Moon, Covalent Bonds (a geek romance anthology that is making me rethink the romance genre), and He Sees You When You’re Sleeping (an anthology of Krampus stories). Once I finish Dream Eater, I’ll let you know how it fares for lovers of mythology/urban fantasy.

K. Bird Lincoln’s Japanese-inspired urban fantasy novel DREAM EATER will be available from World Weaver Press in early 2017. Here’s how to add it to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

*I love that Lincoln calls this “my online presence.”

^I got this from Wikipedia, who lists their sources as:

  1. M.Reese:”The Asian traditions and myths”.pg.60
  2. Jump up^ Hadland Davis F., “Myths and Legends of Japan” (London: G. G. Harrap, 1913)

Two Articles I Wrote on Art as a Parent

eating at theater

I guess being a parent really does affect how I view art. Yesterday two articles I wrote dropped on different publications, Better Lemons and Dwarf+Giant, a blog of The Last Bookstore LA. I didn’t realize until I shared them to Facebook that both show how I view art differently since becoming a parent.

One is how The Cat in the Hat reads like a manual for child molesters. I thought I’d get more pushback on this story, but so far all comments except one appreciate my argument for removing that book from your collection. Thanks to Dwarf+Giant for publishing this one!

The other is the first in a series, What Theaters Need to Know: Courting Families on Better Lemons, a relaunched Los Angeles arts website. Here I detail how small changes and larger ones can go a long way towards making families feel welcome at your programming. Until you’ve had to change your child’s diaper on a nasty restroom floor while other audience members bang on the door during intermission, you really haven’t lived as a parent.

Stay tuned for some more interesting articles from me……

The Vet and The Ring

Veterans Day was Friday, and I realized that I don’t have a lot of friends who are veterans*. Two of my cousins (one deployed now), my grandfather’s of course, one deceased Uncle and my Dad in the Navy, one dear friend who was in the reserves (but I remember the day very well when he got his “all clear”), and a friend’s husband (who is one of my favorite people to read on Facebook). I’m sure I know more who I can’t think of right now.

Then I saw my engagement ring. I never really thought about what kind of ring Dan would get me to propose; I honestly never considered we would get married two years after we met. We lived paycheck to paycheck in The Melody, an old apartment complex across from Warner Bros where they used to house their musicians.

I didn’t know that when we visited his family, he had asked his Mom for this ring.
This ring belonged to my mother in law’s mother, who gave it to her when she knew she was dying.
It was Dan’s grandmother’s ring from her first husband, who died in World War II soon after they were married.
They were very much in love, and Dan loved his grandmother very much. I never got to meet her, but he always said we would get along and drink many beers together.
Her photo is one of the only ones we have framed in our kitchen.
After we sang Happy Birthday to Dan on his 28th birthday, he turned around, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. With a ring I didn’t know he’d gotten, with a sad story I hadn’t yet heard attached to it, with a stone perfectly suited to our tastes.
I feel honored to wear a symbol of love and sacrifice as a symbol of our love and life.
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*I think a veteran technically served active duty, bit anyone willing to enlist is a vet to me.

 

YA Fantasy Review: The Falling of the Moon

25884440Vampires, fairy tale balls, ghosts….every time I thought I had a handle on the world that Decker created, she took another twist. With Ascot as an unlikely heroine, the reader goes on a journey that uproots all convention. This story-line sort of reminds you of one fairy tale, this one another; then you realize there are layers upon layers of commentary and thwarting of fairy tales we think we know. Since it’s the first book in the Moonfall Mayhem series, sometimes knowledge is given for the long haul, and I’m glad I have an advance copy of the second book. (Since the second book in the series is not from Ascot, but from her companion Rags and Bones’ perspective, I have great hope that we will also see Decker’s world from the other characters’ points of view, or hear more of their origins.)

Because there are so many genres and tales woven into one, at times I felt the transition a bit jarring. Through it all, Decker’s lively and focused characters were able to take me through the plot twists just fine, and only got a little confused once we started to unravel motivations in the wine cellar.

When reading YA, I always stop to consider if my pre-teen or teenage self would have learned from this book and enjoyed it. I definitely wish I’d known Ascot earlier. She could have helped relieve some questions about fairy tale endings. At the time, I only had Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” musical to counter societal pressure and expectations. Having Ascot in my life would have absolutely pushed me towards figuring out my own happy ending instead of thinking I had to have a fairy tale one. She’d be a great addition to any teenager or pre-teen’s collection.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of the first book and advance review copy of book #2.

Find it Online:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Books-a-Million
Goodreads
Independent Bookstores
iTunes/Apple iBooks
Kobo

Cover Reveal for new YA Fantasy, THE MEDDLERS OF MOONSHINE

 

 

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Cover art by Cary Vandever

I got a little peek at the cover for a new YA Fantasy, The Meddlers of Moonshine by A.E. Decker. It’s the second in the Moonlight Mayhem series.

I love the synopsis (below) and description of the series by another author, Susan Sullivan:

“I’d say it’s like Shrek meets The Wizard of Oz if Dorothy were Wednesday Addams and Toto a talking cat with bat wings.”

Sounds very cool. Fairy tale mashups are an obsession of mine and after reading some more of Decker’s work, it sounds like she’s a real find for me! In fact, I would have posted this sooner but I was gobbling up her other stories.

The Meddlers of Moonshine will be available on October 25. Until then, check out the ebook for the first in this series, The Falling of the Moon, available for $0.99 for a limited time.

Here’s the summary:

Something is rotten in the town of Widget, and Rags-n-Bones knows it’s all his fault.

 

Ever since he snitched that avocado from Miss Ascot’s pack, things have been going wrong. Armed with a handful of memories he never realized he had, Rags-n-Bones searches for a way to put right whatever he did to Widget in the past. If only he knew what it was! Unfortunately, the only person who seems to have answers is a half-mad youth that only Rags can see.

Widget is also suffering from a ghost infestation that has the townsfolk almost as spooked of outsiders as they are of actual spooks. While Rags-n-Bones seeks answers in the past, Ascot offers the town leaders her service as an exorcist, only to be handed an ultimatum: banish the ghosts or be banished herself!

Who’s meddling with Widget? To catch the culprit, Ascot and Rags-n-Bones must match wits with a shifty sorcerer, a prissy ex-governess, and a troublingly attractive captain before the town consigns itself to the graveyard of history.

Pre-order:

Ebook
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo
World Weaver Press online store

Trade Paperback
World Weaver Press online

 

Decker Author Photo

More about Decker at Words Meet World. Also, don’t you just love her for her profile picture alone? I do.

A. E. Decker hails from Pennsylvania. A former doll-maker and ESL tutor, she earned a master’s degree in history, where she developed a love of turning old stories upside-down to see what fell out of them. This led in turn to the writing of her YA novel, The Falling of the Moon. A graduate of Odyssey 2011, her short fiction has appeared in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless SkiesFireside Magazine, and in World Weaver Press’s own Specter Spectacular. Like all writers, she is owned by three cats. Come visit her, her cats, and her fur Daleks at wordsmeetworld.com or@MoonfallMayhem.