Vlog: I Have a Patreon!

As I mentioned last week on Writability (but not yet on bookishpixie, until today) I have a Patreon! Today I'm talking about what that means and all the fun stuff you can get access to if you join. Hooray!




RELATED LINK:


Twitter-sized bite:
.@Ava_Jae vlogs about their Patreon and all the cool insider rewards available. Check it out! (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Winner #37!

Photo credit: juliet_earth on Flickr
Quick off-schedule post post to announce the winner of the thirty-seventh fixing the first page feature giveaway!

*drumroll*

And the thirty-seventh winner is…

JENNIFER RICKETTS!

Yay! Congratulations, Jennifer!

Thanks again to all you wonderful entrants! If you didn't win, as always, there will be another fixing the first page giveaway in August, so as always, keep an eye out!

Patreon Launch Day!

So last week I talked about some pretty big changes for Writability and hinted at new things on the horizon, including a new platform. And now, to my delight, it's time to talk about that new platform.

Starting today I have a Patreon! Yay!

For those who don't know, Patreon is a site where fans can monetarily support content creators (anywhere from $1/month or per creation and up!)—and in return get access to some pretty neat perks. My Patreon tiers look like this:

  • $1/month—TIP JAR: access to patron-only content and polls!

  • $2/month—PROMPTS ARE FUN: access to monthly sensory writing prompts, plus previous rewards!

  • $5/month—PROMPTS ARE REALLY FUN: access to monthly character development writing prompts, plus previous rewards!

  • $8/month—PROMPTS ARE THE MOST FUN THAT EVER FUNNED: access to monthly manuscript development writing prompts, plus previous rewards! 

  • $10/month—I WANT TO KNOW THE SEKRET THINGS FIRST: access to a monthly newsletter-like patron-only posts where I will share sekret things first, plus previous rewards!

  • $20/month—OOH SHINY VIDEOS: access to monthly patron-only Q&A videos that will answer all of the previous month's questions, even if it's more than 4 minutes long, provided there were questions the previous month! Plus previous rewards!

  • $25/month—I WANT TO SEE WHAT YOU'RE WORKING ON NOW: access to a monthly peek at a page of whatever I'm working on at the moment, both with to-be-published and not-yet-contracted work! Plus previous rewards!

  • $30/month—I WANT TO SEE YOUR TERRIBLE OLD WORK: access to a monthly peek at at least a page of my newly annotated old, trunked, never-meant-to-see-the-light-of-day work, plus 10% off my editing services, plus previous rewards!

  • $50/month—I WANT YOUR BOOKS EARLY: access to early signed copies of my published work, a couple weeks before publication (US only), 15% off my editing services, plus previous rewards! This is limited to 5 people because I get a limited amount of author copies. 

  • $100/month—I WANT TO TALK WRITING WITH YOU: access to a monthly 1-hour Google chat consultation with me where you can talk to me about your writing and I can give you immediate feedback! Plus 20% off my editing services and all previous rewards except the books! This is limited to 4 people for now because I can only commit to so many of these a month. 

I'm really psyched to get going with this—I think it's going to be a lot of fun. I've been looking forward to starting this new journey with everyone to see how it goes. And now the day is here and you can check out my page at this link. :)

So whether you think you'll be able to (or want to) join up or not, thank you all for your support over the years! I appreciate it more than you can know and will keep giving back as much as I can.

<3

Twitter-sized bites:
.@Ava_Jae now has a Patreon! Try it out for writing prompts, sekret news, peeks at their work, consultations & more! (Click to tweet)

Vlog: The Secret to Writing

In which I talk about the secret to getting words on paper, to starting your book, to finishing your book—to writing.



RELATED VLOGS:


What do you think?

Twitter-sized bite:
What's the secret to writing? @Ava_Jae vlogs their thoughts. (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Giveaway #37!

Photo credit: Eldriva on Flickr
We're more than halfway through July! And I did say I'll only be posting on Tuesdays and Fridays but I also said giveaway posts wouldn't count, so enjoy this Monday giveaway post. Because it's time for the next Fixing the First Page feature! Huzzah!

For those who’ve missed before, the Fixing the First Page features is a public first 250 word critique. Using the lovely rafflecopter widget, anyone interested in winning a public (as in, featured in a post on this blog) first page critique can enter.

For an example of what this critique will look like, here's the last Fixing the First Page post.

Rules!


  • ONLY the first 250 words will be critiqued (up to finishing the sentence). If you win and send me more, I will crop it myself. No exceptions.

  • ONLY the first page. I don’t want 250 random words from your manuscript, or from chapter 3. If you win the critique and send me anything other than the first 250 words of your manuscript, I will choose someone else.

  • I will actually critique it. Here. On the blog. I will say things as nicely as I can, but I do tend to be a little blunt. If you’re not sure you can handle a public critique, then you may want to take some time to think about it before you enter.

  • Genre restrictions. I'm most experienced with YA & NA, but I will still accept MG and Adult. HOWEVER. If your first page has any erotic content on it, I ask that you don’t enter. I want to be able to post the critique and the first 250 in its entirety without making anyone uncomfortable, and if you win and you enter a page with erotic content, I will choose someone else.

  • You must have your first page ready. Should you win, you need to be able to submit your first page within 48 hours of my contacting you to let you know you won. If 48 hours pass and I haven’t heard from you, again, I will choose someone else.

  • You’ll get the most out of this if it isn’t a first draft. Obviously, I have no way of knowing if you’re handing me a first draft (though I will probably suspect because it’s usually not that difficult to tell). I won’t refuse your page if it’s a first draft, but you should know that this critique will likely be of more use if you’ve already had your betas/CPs look over it. Why? Because if you don’t, the critique I give you will probably contain a lot of notes that your betas & CPs could have/would have told you.

  • There will not be a round 2 (unless you win again in a future contest). I hate to have to say this, but if you win a critique, it’s NOT an invitation to send me a bunch of your revisions. I wish I had the time available to be able to look at revisions, but sadly, I don’t. If you try to break this rule, I will nicely say no, and also remember to choose someone else should you win a second contest. Which would make me sad. :(


So that’s it! If you’re okay with all of the above and would like to enter to be the thirty-seventh public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget below. You have until Friday, July 21 at 11:59 PM EST to enter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Favorite Reads of 2017 (So Far)

I'll openly admit I haven't read quite as much this year as I originally intended. This has been for a couple reasons, in part because I was flaring a lot at the beginning of the year and frequently found myself too exhausted to read (which is a thing, I learned), in part because I've been ridiculously busy and found myself with less reading time than usual, and in part because I also had an epic reading slump that really ate away at my reading motivation. 

But that said! I've still read some really amazing books this year so far and I'd like to share my favorites until now. In no particular order:

Photo credit: Goodreads

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
YA Contemporary

Goodreads summary:
"When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course. 
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. 
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life."
Why I liked it: This book is a heartbreaker, and boy did it make me feel things from start to finish. I wrote a review talking about History in depth, but the short version is this story is raw, impactful, and just really beautifully written.


Photo credit: Goodreads

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
YA Historical Fiction

Goodreads summary:
"Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men. 
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy. 
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores."
Why I liked it: I'm actually still reading this one, but I'm about 90% done and I've been loving every step of the journey. It's hilarious, compelling, and I'll be honest, seeing a major chronically ill character on the page has meant a lot to me. As a bonus, the protagonist, Monty, is very clearly bi from the first page so the book is super queer and super awesome.


Photo credit: Goodreads

Adulthood is a Myth and Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen
Graphic Novel

Goodreads summary: 
"These casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by the hugely popular young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen are for the rest of us. They document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, and dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. Oh and they are totally not autobiographical. At all. 
Adulthood Is a Myth presents many fan favorites plus dozens of all-new comics exclusive to this book. Like the work of fellow Millennial authors Allie Brosh, Grace Helbig, and Gemma Correll, Sarah's frankness on personal issues like body image, self-consciousness, introversion, relationships, and the frequency of bra-washing makes her comics highly relatable and deeply hilarious."
Why I liked it: I'm lumping these together because they're both very quick reads and related—but I loved these graphic novels so much. They're incredibly funny to begin with, and also super relatable, full of sketches about anxiety, stumbling through adulthood, and relationships. I definitely recommend them both for a quick read that'll make you laugh.


Photo credit: Goodreads

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
YA Contemporary

Goodreads summary:
"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. 
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. 
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life."
Why I liked it: I obviously couldn't do a first half of 2017 book post without including THUG. I already reviewed this book and talked about why I felt it's so excellent and poignant, but the short version is the voice and story are both incredibly compelling and I truly believe it deserves every ounce of buzz it's gotten so far.


Photo credit: Goodreads


Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living by Majula Martin
Writing Reference

Goodreads summary:
"A collection of essays from today’s most acclaimed authors—from Cheryl Strayed to Roxane Gay to Jennifer Weiner, Alexander Chee, Nick Hornby, and Jonathan Franzen—on the realities of making a living in the writing world. 
In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It’s an endless, confusing, and often controversial conversation that, despite our bare-it-all culture, still remains taboo. In Scratch, Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from established and rising authors to confront the age-old question: how do creative people make money? 
As contributors including Jonathan Franzen, Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Nick Hornby, Susan Orlean, Alexander Chee, Daniel Jose Older, Jennifer Weiner, and Yiyun Li candidly and emotionally discuss money, MFA programs, teaching fellowships, finally getting published, and what success really means to them, Scratch honestly addresses the tensions between writing and money, work and life, literature and commerce. The result is an entertaining and inspiring book that helps readers and writers understand what it’s really like to make art in a world that runs on money—and why it matters. Essential reading for aspiring and experienced writers, and for anyone interested in the future of literature, Scratch is the perfect bookshelf companion to On Writing, Never Can Say Goodbye, and MFA vs. NYC."
Why I liked it: Unsurprisingly, I wrote a review for this one too, so if you want in-depth details you can check that out. But the brief version is I largely found this book eye-opening, honest, and encouraging (though some who read it found it depressing, so YMMV).

So those cover my top five favorite reads so far. What are yours?

Twitter-sized bite:
What are your top five favorite reads of the year so far? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet

Ch-Ch-Changes!

Photo credit: freestocks.org on Flickr
Writability has been going strong with three posts a week since 2011, which I'm pretty damn proud of. We're nearing the 1,200 post mark, which is more blog posts than I ever expect any one person to read, which means a pretty extensive archive of topics covered, often more than once.

Unsurprisingly, though, a lot has changed in six years.

When I started this blog, I was 19-year-old community college student reaching out on the internet, trying to connect with other writers, become more knowledgeable about publishing, and continue to improve my writing skills. I was a year away from being diagnosed with a degenerative autoimmune disease, studying film, unagented, and hadn't yet written the book that would be my debut.

I started Writability, not really sure anything would come of it, and definitely not imagining I would be here six years later with over 2,000,000 lifetime page views, a growing YouTube channel with nearly 15,000 subscribers, and imminent plans to move to a city to start grad school and get my MFA.

Yeah, a lot has changed in six years. And honestly, what I've listed here barely begins to cover it.

My life looks pretty different now from what it used to, and that divide from what was to what is is only going to widen in the fall. I'm now a published writer with deadlines to meet and projects to write, while juggling freelancing and a part time job to pay the bills, and I'll soon be adding school back into the mix. Which is a long way of saying my limited time is becoming more limited as the months pass.

So I've finally reached a point where I've realized something has to give. I need to be monetizing my time as much as I can—that means spending most of my time on things that will help me pay the bills. But I don't want to give up this wonderful blog, which I know has become such a big resource for so many, either.

As much as I hate to say it though, I do need to cut back. Because to be super transparent, this blog is quickly burning me out, and as I spend sometimes hours trying to figure out what to write about that I haven't already written about, it's increasingly cutting into time I need to be spending on my deadlines.

So starting today, I'm changing Writability's posting schedule. Instead of four days a week (including the vlogs), I'll be posting twice a week: vlogs on Tuesdays and blog posts on Fridays. There will be some exceptions to that—giveaway posts won't be a Friday post and guest posts may or may not be a Friday post depending on what I have going on that week. But for the most part, Tuesdays and Fridays will become Writability's new schedule.

But that's not the only change. I'll soon be announcing a new facet of Writability, on a new platform, that I'm very excited about. I hope you guise like it too. :)

Thank you all for your support over the years—it has, and continues to mean, so, so much. Here's to many more years of awesomeness all over the internet.

Vlog: Are Online Pitch Contests Worth It?

Another great question from another great viewer: are online pitch contests worth entering? Today I share my experience and thoughts.



RELATED LINKS:



Twitter-sized bite:
Are online pitch contests worth it? Author @Ava_Jae shares their thoughts and experience. #vlog (Click to tweet)

Cleaning House

Photo credit: distelfliege on Flickr
As I prepare for a pretty huge life change, I've been taking stock of a lot of things—from the books on my shelves, to the stuff that's been sitting in boxes for years, to papers I held on to for no discernible reason, to how I make use of my time.

This morning, for example, I spent two hours I could have been writing or editing staring at a blank screen trying to figure out what the hell to blog about.

I've gone through my read bookshelves and pulled books I won't re-read, books that I didn't really like that much, books that I mostly had just because I'd read them. I've gone through my to be read owned bookshelf and pulled books I lost interest in before I got around to reading them, books that are taking up space that—if I'm really being honest—I don't actually want to read anymore.

Yesterday I cleaned out my office and bedroom and tossed papers I had piling up that I didn't need, and boxes I'd never gotten around to tossing, and started digging through boxes full of stuff from prior moves—a project that still isn't finished. I also went through my closet and wardrobe and pulled clothes I'm not going to wear anymore to either toss or donate.

I've been thinking a lot about how I can adjust my weekly commitments to make more time for things with deadlines, things that pay my bills. I've been taking note of what I'm getting out of certain things I put time into and weighing what I want to change. And while I don't have any concrete answers yet, I do think there will be some changes in the near future.

It's a time of transition for me, which is exciting, and a little scary, but I'm moving toward positive things.

When's the last time you've taken stock of your things and commitments?

Twitter-sized bite:
When's the last time you've taken stock of your things and commitments? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Discussion: Manuscript Challenges

Photo credit: Nico Kaiser
Every manuscript has it's own challenges. That's a writing truthism that has remained true for me, even now, too many manuscripts later.

In Beyond the Red, my main challenge was getting Kora, one of my POV characters, to open up, and to set a strong world building foundation. In Into the Black it was balancing the plot arcs of my two POV characters. Now in The Rising Gold, with 45k words written and two-thirds of the plot left to go, I strongly suspect word count is going to be my biggest challenge especially given I usually add 10-20k in revisions, which is a new problem I haven't faced before.

It's a strange thing, to face completely new challenges after having written so many manuscripts. You'd be tempted to think that at a certain point, the challenges you'd face would be similar manuscript to manuscript, but thus far, at least, that largely hasn't been the case. Sure, I almost always have to add a bunch of world building to revisions because I don't usually cover nearly enough of it while first drafting, but even beyond that every manuscript tends to arrive with its own host of problems.

In a way, it's refreshing—the process of writing a book never gets old, because every book you write has a new set of challenges to face. And it's also a reminder of how we're continuously learning—or at least, should be.

So I'm curious: what manuscript challenges have you faced?

Twitter-sized bite:
What manuscript challenges have you faced? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

On Trusting Your Story Ideas

Photo credit: Pimthida on Flickr
I used to toss a lot of my story ideas.

Sometimes, they never made it past infancy, just a scribbled note I'd look at later, grimace, and say nah before moving on to something else. Sometimes I'd experiment and write a chapter or two before losing interest, or I'd plot the entire thing and write a chapter or two before realizing this wasn't going to work.

Because of that, I didn't trust my ideas, not really. I knew chances were more likely than not that they wouldn't work out, that I'd lose interest or the idea would fall flat on its face. It's why, to this day, I consider a WIP just an "experiment" until I've hit 10,000 words.

But it occurred to me recently, though I wrote three manuscripts last year, and I'm in the middle of one now and have another I want to write before the year is out, I haven't tossed an idea out in a while.

Part of that, surely, comes from the fact that three of those—one I wrote last year, the one I'm working on now, and the one I want to work on next—were born from proposals, one to my publisher and one to something else. Writing the proposal for Into the Black and The Rising Gold last year, I was pretty scared of what would happen if I began writing and things fell apart—but the proposal, and the commitment to the proposal when my publisher accepted the sequels, has forced me to trust those ideas from the onset in a way I never had before.

Luckily—or maybe because of this forced trust—Into the Black's first draft went off without a hitch. I had a blast writing that book and it was equally enjoyable revising it. I can honestly say it's probably my favorite thing I've ever written. And now as I draft The Rising Gold with that same sort of confidence, I haven't once doubted whether the story would hold up as I wrote, and while I have some other insecurities with that book, there's no question in my mind that I'll finish it (which is good, since not finishing it isn't really an option at this point).

Similarly, the other manuscript I wrote a proposal for went much the same way. Though I've only drafted a chapter of it, that chapter came so easily—it flowed beautifully and the voice just clicked and I know when I finally get back to it, I won't have a problem picking up where I left off. I'm confident in that toddler of an idea in a way I hadn't been before.

I think part of this may be that I know what I like to write now. The Rising Gold is my seventeenth manuscript, and at this point in my writing journey, I'm very clear about the things I want to be writing about, even if how those things fit into a story-shaped thing isn't always immediately obvious. But I know the things that excite me, and the types of characters I want to populate my worlds with. So maybe having that foundation clear, of knowing what I enjoy writing and what I want to do more of, has allowed me to avoid the ideas that I'll get bored with and mosey away from.

I'm not 100% sure when the shift happened, but I am, slowly, learning to trust my ideas more than I have in the past. And it's a journey I look forward to continuing, one step at a time.

Do you trust your story ideas? 

Twitter-sized bite:
Do you trust your story ideas? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: Would You Try to Publish Old MSs?

Here's a question I get a lot: would I try to publish my old, trunked manuscripts? Today I answer.


RELATED VLOGS:

Would you go back to a manuscript you've trunked?

Twitter-sized bites:
Author @Ava_Jae has many trunked manuscripts—but would they try to publish one? Ava answers and more. (Click to tweet
Have to trunk a manuscript? That's okay—author @Ava_Jae explains why writing is never a waste. (Click to tweet)

On Judging by the First Few Pages

Photo credit: freestocks.org on Flickr
I recently got a comment on my YouTube channel complaining about how unfair it was that literary agents don't read the full manuscript of every query they receive. The commenter felt agents were missing out on loads of great manuscripts that had a lackluster query or opening and thought it was up to the agent to read the whole manuscript before judging.

I schooled said commenter on an agent's role, but it did get me thinking about all the things you learn from just the first couple pages of a manuscript.


When I dive into a manuscript as a freelance editor, I find that more times than not, I can note what universal writing issues are present within the first five to ten pages. Voice, wordiness, dialogue issues, telling instead of showing, filtering, over reliance on backstory, etc. are all pretty easy to spot early in a manuscript. And whatever writing problems are present on page one or five 99.9% of the time are present throughout the entire manuscript.

Figuring out most story issues—that is, plot, character, or world building problems—often require digging a little deeper and reading more, but it's pretty easy to tell, based off the quality of someone's writing in the first few pages, whether the manuscript is written by a brand new writer who still needs honing, or whether it's written by someone skilled enough to move on to the next step.

In other words, no, agents really don't need to read that much to determine whether a manuscript isn't going to be a good fit for them.

Granted, if the writing is good but the story has problems, that's going to take a longer sample to figure out, more times than not. But the truth is, a lot of manuscripts can be easily eliminated off the first couple pages simply because the writer's skill level isn't there yet, which is easy to determine based off a short sample.

And think about it: when debating whether or not to read a book, readers often open the book up and sample the first couple pages. This tells them whether the voice works for them or whether the initial plot is intriguing enough to catch their eye. Readers don't read an entire book in the bookstore while deciding whether or not to get it—that would take too long and make it impossible to sample multiple books in one day.

Judging a book by the first few pages may sound a little harsh, but the truth is, there's so much you can glean from the first couple pages. Which is why writers often emphasize the importance of making those first couple pages really shine—after all, you don't want to give your reader a reason to say no.

Do you judge books by the first couple pages?

Twitter-sized bite:
Author & freelance editor @Ava_Jae talks why judging a book by the first few pages works. (Click to tweet)

Discussion: Halfway Through 2017 Check-In

Photo credit: DafneCholet on Flickr
We're officially more than halfway through 2017, which is a super bizarre thing to think about. And I figured it might be fun to take stock of what we've done so far this year and look at our goals for the rest of the year, as a sort of progression check-in and/or way to adjust goals.

I'll start. So far I've had a pretty hectic six months for various life reasons, but on the writing side of things, it's been pretty good. I've made some progress on revisions for one manuscript, finished a proposal for a thing (fully plotted a project, plus wrote the first chapter) that I'll be using to write my eighteenth (!!) manuscript sometime later this year, a YA Historical Fantasy I'm super super excited about.

I also finished revisions on Into the Black, turned them in to my editor, did some more revisions back and forth with her, and am now working on proofs (which means hopefully there should be ARCs soonish!). I've also fully plotted and started first drafting The Rising Gold (manuscript seventeen). I'm currently a little over 30k in and am...pretty concerned this manuscript is going to be way too long, but that's a worry for revisions.

My goals for the rest of the year include finishing first drafting The Rising Gold as well as revising it with CPs and sensitivity readers, then getting it to my agent sometime this fall. I also want to first draft the aforementioned fantasy (maybe a NaNo book? I'd like to get to it sooner but we'll see) and would like to hopefully finish revising that other manuscript...but that's a lot on my plate especially given my schedule is going to be busy as hell come Fall, so we'll see.

I'm juggling a lot and working on two books simultaneously with two external deadlines has been a challenge. But ultimately I've been making progress, and that's what matters.

What have you accomplished so far in 2017? And what writing goals do you have for the rest of the year?

Twitter-sized bite: 
What've you done so far this year? What are your goals for the rest of 2017? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Feature #36

Photo credit: chris_ford_uk on Flickr
July is arriving and the 36th Fixing the First Page Feature has finally arrived. Yay!

As usual, I'll start by posting the full first 250 excerpt, after which I'll share my overall thoughts, then my redline critique. I encourage you guys to share your own thoughts and critiques in the comments (because I'm one person with one opinion!), as long as it's polite, thoughtful, and constructive. Any rude or mean comments will be unceremoniously deleted.

Here we go!

Title: TO BE IMPROVED

Genre/Category: YA Contemporary/LGBT

First 250 words:

"I check my phone: 4:05 p.m. We’re supposed to start at four, so I get up and peer through the door with the plaque reading Farid Ansari, LPC. 
Mr. Ansari’s office is full of all sorts of sculptures on the window panes and his desk. A couple of paintings hang on the walls, along with his framed certificates. Overall, it’s borderline cluttered, but I shouldn’t be complaining since my room’s not always the tidiest... 
Mr. Ansari turns to me, and his face brightens. 'Come in Sam,' he calls. 'I'll be with you in a second.'
I sink into one of the black leather chairs and wait for him, looking out the window at the street. 
'Hello Sam,' he says as he rolls his desk chair to mine. 'How are you doing?' 
Whether it’s the first time or the fifth time, my nerves still start jumping. It’s not always easy to talk about your feelings like this, especially when you know it’s someone who’s getting paid to put you under a microscope, dissect you, and find out what’s wrong with your life.

'I’m fine,' I say. 'Uh, school’s been going on for a couple of weeks now.' Mr. Ansari keeps his gaze on me. I tap my fingers as I think of what to say. My heartbeat picks up. 'I’m doing all right in my classes…' 
He nods. 'That’s good. Are you enjoying yourself?' Somehow, his gaze seems to intensify, like he’s switching to a higher powered lens on the microscope."

Okay! So before I talk about the sample itself, I have a quick note on the way you categorized your book. I actually recommend against using the four-letter LGBT acronym when describing your book unless you actually have four protagonists, and one is lesbian, one is gay, one is bi, and one is trans. I'm guessing that isn't the case, though, so instead describe what aspect you're actually covering. For example, you can say f/f Contemporary, or m/m Contemporary, or YA Contemporary with a bi protagonist, etc. Be specific. 

Now for the sample itself. I think this opening is written well enough, but I'm not sure it's really so compelling that I'd feel the urge to keep reading—which is obviously what you want, a strong hook to draw the readers in. I think the main issue for me is at this point, there isn't much hint of conflict. Sure, Sam is nervous about talking to the psychiatrist, but why? They (and I'm using they, since Sam's gender is unclear) only talk about how they're doing fine in school and the only nervous-making thing they think about is they're not sure what to say. But I'd like to see a better hint of the upcoming conflict right up front. What exactly is Sam nervous about? Why are they seeing a psychiatrist? Is there something Sam doesn't want to say? I think by giving us a better picture of what's going on in Sam's head and specifically why they're there and how they feel about being there would help point to the upcoming conflict in a way that would draw readers in a little more.

Okay, now for the in-line edits: 

"I check my phone: 4:05 p.m. We’re supposed to start at four, so I get up and peer through the door with the plaque reading Farid Ansari, LPC. Made italic just to better differentiate the narrative and what Sam is reading.
Mr. Ansari’s office is full of all sorts of sculptures on the window panes and his desk. A couple of paintings hang on the walls, along with his framed certificates. Overall, it’s borderline cluttered, but I shouldn’t be complaining since my room’s not always the tidiest... 
Mr. Ansari turns to me, and his face brightens. 'Come in Sam,.' he calls. 'I'll be with you in a second.'
I sink into one of the black leather chairs and wait for him, looking out the window at the street. What does Sam see? This could be a good opportunity to hint at where Sam lives. Is it a wintry city street outside? A rolling spring landscape? Some orange and red autumn-tinted woods? Show us what Sam sees.
'Hello Sam,.' he says as hHe rolls his desk chair to mine. 'How are you doing?' 
Whether it’s the first time or the fifth time, my nerves still start jumping. It’s not always easy to talk about your feelings like this, especially when you know it’s someone who’s getting paid to put you under a microscope, dissect you, and find out what’s wrong with your life.

'I’m fine,' I say. 'Uh, school’s been going on for a couple of weeks now.' Mr. Ansari keeps his gaze on me. I tap my fingers as I think of what to say. My heartbeat picks up. 'I’m doing all right in my classes…' 
He nods. 'That’s good. Are you enjoying yourself?' Somehow, his gaze seems to intensifiesy, like he’s switching to a higher powered lens on the microscope." Nice ending image there. :)

So as you can see, for the most part it's just minor tweaks to get rid of some slight wordiness (like using action tags and dialogue tags in the same line), and an opportunity for more detailed description to help ground the readers. Like I said above, this is pretty well written to start with, so I'd just like to see some building and cleaning up to take it to the next level.

As is, if I were to see this in the slush, I'd pass as I said above, because I'm not currently drawn into the story as much as I would like. But I think with some tweaks to bring in more of the conflict earlier, you'll have a pretty solid set up.

I hope that helps! Thanks so much for sharing your manuscript with us, Jessica!

Twitter-sized bite:

.@Ava_Jae talks hinting early at conflict, building setting and more in the 36th Fixing the First Page Feature. (Click to tweet)

Discussion Vlog: Hardcover? Paperback? E-Book?

Trying out a new vlog format today: discussions! Let's talk your favorite book formats and what makes you choose one over the other. Sound off in the comments below!


RELATED VLOGS:


What's your favorite book format? What makes you choose one format over the other?

Twitter-sized bite:
Hardcover? Paperback? E-book? What's your favorite book format? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's vlog. (Click to tweet)

Do You Use Character Trinkets?

Photo credit: Nancy Big Crow on Flickr
It can be really interesting to consider what items your characters treasure. Most of the time, these items hold more sentimental value than actual value—in A Gathering of Shadows, for example, Lila carries a shard of a statue from the first book as a sort of security blanket. In the same series, Kell's item is his magic coat—he doesn't go anywhere not wearing it, if he can help it.

Trinkets your characters carry can be a subtle way to deepen your characters, or hint at what they're feeling. A character might reach for their trinket when they're nervous, or upset, for some kind of reassurance. They might wear their trinket for all to see or display it in a prominent place—or they might hide it, as something too personal to share with others.

I like using trinkets to help ground my characters—after all, many of us can relate to reaching for something familiar in our uncertain moments. Of course the danger, for me, is I sometimes forget the characters have them, then have to add them back in during revisions (whoops!), but I do think they can be a useful (and easy) way to add another dimension to your characters.

So now I'm curious: do you use character trinkets?

Twitter-sized bite:
What items do your characters treasure? @Ava_Jae talks using trinkets to deepen your characters. (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Winner #36!

Photo credit: Cindee Snider Re on Flickr
Brief pre-post post to announce the winner of the thirty-sixth fixing the first page feature giveaway!

*drumroll*

And the thirty-sixth winner is…



JESSICA LIM!



Yay! Congratulations, Jessica!

Thanks again to all you wonderful entrants! If you didn't win, as always, there will be another fixing the first page giveaway in July, so as always, keep an eye out!

Do You Need That POV?

Photo credit: evans.photo on Flickr
I recently mentioned that POV issues are one of the most common critiques I have for manuscripts I edit. Of those, I'd say probably the most frequently POV issue I come across is unnecessary POVs.

I totally understand why this is a common problem. It can be hard, when you've decided to write a multi-POV story, to decide what POVs are needed to tell the story. After all, you're the author, you could write a story with five, eight, ten, fifteen POVs if you wanted to—but as is the case with many things, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

So how do you know how many POVs to use? And how to you decide what characters should get their own POV?

I always start with this rule of thumb: use as few POVs as you need to tell the story. This is a case where more is not the merrier. Why? Because switching POVs is jarring to readers, and the more times you do it with the more characters you use, the harder it is to get used to any one perspective. There are some readers out there who won't read multi-POV novels simply because they don't like head-hopping, so you really need to have a good reason for every POV that you use. As is the case with all things in writing, there should be a reason for everything.

But what counts as a good reason? Well...

It starts with really understanding your plot. What is the point of the story? What is the central goal and conflict? You'll want to make sure your POV characters are absolutely central to the story, in that you can't tell the story without their perspective. It means every POV character is directly tied to the central goal, so that their story is the story. What you don't need is to give supporting characters perspective chapters—every POV character should be tied enough into the plot that they'd count as a protagonist too. POV characters shouldn't just support the story, they should be the story.

So say you have a cast of characters and are still working on the plot, so you aren't sure who to make a perspective character. The way you choose is actually less complicated than you'd think: you always want to go with the character(s) who have the most at stake and would be most affected by the plot. And in the case of YA, these should all be teen characters.

Choosing perspectives for your story can be tricky at times, but I do think it gets easier with practice. Just make sure to consistently challenge yourself to only use as many POVs as you need to tell the story, and you'll be off to a great start.

Have you ever written a WIP with too many (or few!) POV characters? Or have you read any published books with that problem?

Twitter-sized bite: 
How many POVs should you use? What characters should get their own POV? @Ava_Jae talks choosing POVs. (Click to tweet)

4 Things I've Learned From Vlogging

Vlogging, for me, began as an experiment. Something to try out to help get over my anxiety around having my face online. Ultimately when I decided to stick with it, it was largely because the new medium was fun to play around with, and I figured maybe it'd help broaden my platform, though I really wasn't expecting much in terms of reception for a channel about books and writing.

Luckily, I was wrong. Though YouTube is far from my oldest platform, it has undeniably become my largest and most interactive audience by far. It turns out, there are loads of writers out there looking for tips to help better their writing on all media formats—not just the written ones.

I've now been vlogging for a number of years. And here are some things I've learned along the way.

  1. YouTube's audience isn't just trolls. YouTube kind of has a reputation for having a large audience of trolls who get kicks filling YouTubers' comments with meanness and/or grossness. I was pretty worried about this when I first started vlogging, but I'm glad I took the risk because my experience has been far from the stereotype. Have I encountered jerks making rude comments about my appearance or presentation? Yes. But to be honest, I'd say as of right now with over 13,000 subscribers, for every troll comment I get, I get like fifty genuine comments. Maybe even more. My ratio right now is probably about the same as Twitter, and though that might change as my channel grows, my experience over the last couple years has been largely positive. 

  2. Relaying the same information in different formats works. While not all of my YouTube videos are a vlog version of already-existing blog posts, many of them are. I was a little hesitant about doing this at first—after all, the blog posts exist!—but I quickly learned the audience on YouTube is largely not interested in jumping over to my blog unless I don't already have a vlog about a topic they want. It even works on my blog too, because obviously most of you haven't read all 1,167 blog posts on Writability, so it allows me to go over information I covered a while ago in a new way. 

  3. If you do what scares you repeatedly, it (sometimes) becomes less scary. I was terrified of putting my face online when I did my first vlog. To the point where when my friends took pictures with me, I asked them not to put the pictures on Facebook for years because the prospect of having my likeness on the internet sent me spiraling into anxiety mode. I started my YouTube channel after I'd started actually treating my anxiety, which then made it possible for me to push past it enough that I posted my first vlog. And my second. And my third. Vlogging was pretty terrifying at first, but the more I did it, the easier it became. And now it doesn't scare me at all—and I actually quite enjoy it. :) Bonus points, vlogging has made public speaking a million times easier—in large part because the process is pretty nearly the same, I can just see my audience instead of staring into a camera. 

  4. In terms of income, YouTube has a pretty decent conversion rate. It's hard for me to compare this to my other social media sites, because people don't regularly tell me on Twitter or my blog when they've decided to get my book because of my presence there. But for whatever reason, people on YouTube do—and the number of times I've heard from my YouTube audience that someone bought my book because they like my channel is way higher than I was expecting. Same goes for my freelancing—I've had quite a few clients discover me on YouTube and hire me from there. Now I've just recently started monetizing my vlogs that have over 10,000 views, and though I'm not making a ton from that, it's still a little extra something that will only grow over time as more vlogs hit 10,00 views. Or I decide to lower the threshold. 

So those are some things I've learned from running a channel on YouTube. Do you watch writers on YouTube?

Twitter-sized bite:
Over 150 vlogs later, @Ava_Jae shares 4 things they've learned from running a YouTube channel. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: On Writing and Music

Another question asked, another question answered. Today I'm talking about what I listen to while I write and edit—and why.


RELATED LINKS:


What are your music preferences while writing?

Twitter-sized bite:

From bands to soundtracks to headphones and more, @Ava_Jae shares their music preferences while writing. (Click to tweet

Discussion: Top 5 TBR

Photo credit: Goodreads
So while I haven't had as much time (or motivation, if I'm being honest) to read as I would like, as of late, and I'm hopelessly behind on my Goodreads reading challenge, I still do have a schedule of books I'm itching to dive into, as always. Because while the never-ending TBR list is overwhelming, some books I own eventually find their way to the top for more immediate reading.

My top five TBR right now includes:

  1. A Gathering of Shadows & A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. Technically I'm cheating by including both books, but I'm nearing the end of my A Gathering of Shadows re-read (because it is a re-read) anyway. Next up will be A Conjuring of Light because the whole point of re-reading AGOS was to have everything fresh in my mind for ACOL. And honestly, I'm just impressed I haven't run into ACOL spoilers yet. (*knocks on wood*)

  2. Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller. I am super blessed because I managed to get my hands on a Mask of Shadows ARC which immediately leapt to the top of my TBR pile because I've been dying to get this book since I first sneakily heard about it before the publication announcement was up. Which is to say forever ago, or at least, it feels that way. But I have a copy, so you can bet I'll be reading this as soon as I'm done with the Shades of Magic trilogy. 

  3. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee. Technically this isn't out yet but I have a pre-order and I figure it'll be out by the time I finish AGOS, ACOL, and Mask of Shadows. (Given how long I've been re-reading AGOS, it's a pretty safe bet.) Anyway! This is another I've been super excited about since I saw the pub announcement and I'm absolutely delighted it's been getting reviewed so well because I really want to love it. And judging by the sample I heard already, I'm sure I will. :D

  4. The Girl From Everywhere & The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig. Cheating again with two books here, but like AGOS, my The Girl From Everywhere read is a re-read. I originally read TGFE way back in 2015 as an ARC, so I definitely want a refresher before I dive into my beautiful copy of The Ship Beyond Time. I expect it'll be a fun re-adventure. 

  5. Wildcard. Obviously this isn't a book, but I'm letting myself cheat because technically I already have six books on this list. I'm not quite sure what I'll read after I get through this list, but I have a pretty large selection of unread books I own, so that won't be a problem. But I suppose it'll depend on my mood after I've read these books. Whatever I settle on, I'm sure it'll be excellent. :) 

What books are on your top five TBR?

Twitter-sized bite:
What books are on your top five TBR? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

6 Most Common Critiques

Photo credit: freestocks.org on Flickr
I've been freelance editing for over a year now, and in that time I've written a lot of edit letters. Which is great, because it means I've had the opportunity to read and critique a lot of work, which I've really enjoyed.

It also means, over time, I've noticed quite a few patterns in the critiques I frequently end up giving, because there are trends in the issues many manuscripts I've worked with have had. These trends are things I figure would be helpful for writers to look for while revising on their own, so I thought I'd share them.

So without further ado, here are the six most common critiques I have for manuscripts and samples I've read over the last thirteen months. In no particular order...

  • Filtering/telling emotion. I did say this list is in no particular order but this is definitely my #1 most common critique. As I've talked about here before, filtering is a form of telling that often subtly distances the narrative, and removing the amount of filtering can make the narrative feel more intimate. Same goes for telling emotion—rather than stating how characters are feeling, it's much, much more effective to consider how those emotions affect your characters physically and consider how they affect your characters' thoughts. Then by writing those physical and psychological effects, your readers can intuit what emotions your characters are feeling without ever being told. Which again, makes the narrative feel closer and more immediate.

  • POV issues. There are several POV issues I frequently come across, namely: too many POVs, POV slips, and adult POVs in YA manuscripts. The first two kind of go together: I frequently remind my clients they should only use as many POVs as they need to tell the story, and it's not uncommon that when there are too many POVs in a story, the POVs also kind of slip together—meaning POV will switch within a scene without any transition, which is confusing and hard to read. The last point is pretty YA-centric, but I've on several occasions come across adult POVs in YA manuscripts, which isn't really allowed in YA. YA, after all, is a teen category for teen readers and their stories are supposed to be told by teens. Save the adult POVs for adult books, because they largely don't belong here.

  • What is the protagonist's goal? This is a pretty big plot issue and it's not uncommon. Sometimes I'll go through a manuscript and it won't be clear until halfway through, or the last act, or later, what the protagonist's goal is—but that's way too late to introduce a goal. The protagonist's goal should be clear right from the beginning. It's okay if their goal changes over time, but the protagonist must always have something to strive for—without that goal, the plot and pacing falls flat.

  • Voice issues. Given that I edit YA and NA, voice is especially paramount, and a frequent critique I have especially for YA works is that the voice doesn't quite sound like a teen. This is hard to nail, especially at first, and my biggest suggestion for fixing that is to read a ton of YA. But it's also a matter of constantly reminding yourself that you, the adult author, aren't the one telling the story—your teen characters are.

  • Action tag + dialogue tag. This a pretty easy to fix—but common—one. When writing dialogue, you only need an action tag or a dialogue tag—not both for the same line. So rather than saying, "'I hate you,' she said with a smile," you can say, "'I hate you.' She smiled" and get the same point across in less words. It's a trick to help cut down on wordiness. And speaking of which...

  • Wordiness. Line editing is really my forte, so it's not surprising that I pretty nearly always find wordiness to cut in a manuscript. I already did a post on things to look for to cut down on wordiness though, so I'll refer you to that.

So that covers my most common critiques. Do you catch any of these in your own work?

Twitter-sized bite:
Author & freelance editor @Ava_Jae shares their most common critiques. Do you catch these in your own work? (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Giveaway #36!

Photo credit: Sophe89
We're just about halfway through June which means we're halfway through 2017! Which is...really weird to think about! But it also means, of course, it's time for the next Fixing the First Page feature, which happens to be the 36th feature, which means we've been doing this for three years!

Very weird.

For those who’ve missed before, the Fixing the First Page features is a public first 250 word critique. Using the lovely rafflecopter widget, anyone interested in winning a public (as in, featured in a post on this blog) first page critique can enter.

For an example of what this critique will look like, here's the last Fixing the First Page post.

Rules!

  • ONLY the first 250 words will be critiqued (up to finishing the sentence). If you win and send me more, I will crop it myself. No exceptions.

  • ONLY the first page. I don’t want 250 random words from your manuscript, or from chapter 3. If you win the critique and send me anything other than the first 250 words of your manuscript, I will choose someone else.

  • I will actually critique it. Here. On the blog. I will say things as nicely as I can, but I do tend to be a little blunt. If you’re not sure you can handle a public critique, then you may want to take some time to think about it before you enter.

  • Genre restrictions. I'm most experienced with YA & NA, but I will still accept MG and Adult. HOWEVER. If your first page has any erotic content on it, I ask that you don’t enter. I want to be able to post the critique and the first 250 in its entirety without making anyone uncomfortable, and if you win and you enter a page with erotic content, I will choose someone else.

  • You must have your first page ready. Should you win, you need to be able to submit your first page within 48 hours of my contacting you to let you know you won. If 48 hours pass and I haven’t heard from you, again, I will choose someone else.

  • You’ll get the most out of this if it isn’t a first draft. Obviously, I have no way of knowing if you’re handing me a first draft (though I will probably suspect because it’s usually not that difficult to tell). I won’t refuse your page if it’s a first draft, but you should know that this critique will likely be of more use if you’ve already had your betas/CPs look over it. Why? Because if you don’t, the critique I give you will probably contain a lot of notes that your betas & CPs could have/would have told you.

  • There will not be a round 2 (unless you win again in a future contest). I hate to have to say this, but if you win a critique, it’s NOT an invitation to send me a bunch of your revisions. I wish I had the time available to be able to look at revisions, but sadly, I don’t. If you try to break this rule, I will nicely say no, and also remember to choose someone else should you win a second contest. Which would make me sad. :(

So that’s it! If you’re okay with all of the above and would like to enter to be the thirty-fifth public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget below. You have until Wednesday, June 21 at 11:59 PM EST to enter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Vlog: On Writing Description

You've asked, I'm answering: how do you write description? How much description is too much or too little? I'm sharing my thoughts on this essential part of novel writing.




RELATED VLOGS:


What tips would you add for writing description?

Twitter-sized bites:
How much description is too much? How much is too little? @Ava_Jae vlogs some tips. (Click to tweet
Struggling to get your description right? @Ava_Jae shares some tips in today's vlog. (Click to tweet)

What Should You Focus On While First Drafting?

Photo credit: Brian Stetson on Flickr
I've frequently talked about how first drafts are meant to be terrible, and how I worry about nothing while first drafting except getting the story down. I've said time and time again that anything messy in the first draft can be fixed with revisions, but you can't edit a blank page, so getting the words down first is the most important thing.

But what's involved in "getting the story down"? What should you focus on getting on the page, rather than saving it for later?

As is the case with many things in writing, this answer is going to vary writer-to-writer. But after completing sixteen first drafts, this is what I've learned to focus on while getting the story down for the first time:

  • The plot. Technically I worry about this while plotting, not first drafting, but the first draft is where I take note of whether or not the plot is working as it should be. A lot of times I can't really tell for sure whether the plot is working the way I wanted it to until the first read through and revisions, but while first draft I at least get a sense of the flow and the way one scene leads into another and how they stack up together.

  • The characters. The first draft is really where I get to know the characters for the first time. This is where their personalities start to shine, where their interactions with other characters tells me about them, where I get glimpses into who they are and what makes them tick. By the end of the first draft, I don't have a full picture of my full cast of characters, but I usually have a pretty good idea of how the main cast behaves and how they get along (or don't). 

  • The story. Ultimately, the first draft is where I follow a lot of gut feelings. It's not uncommon for my plotted scene card to say one thing and the scene itself to turn out another way entirely. Arguments happen where I didn't plan them—and so does kissing—flirting crops up between characters I didn't expect, and sometimes new plot ideas hit me along the way. I pretty near always follow those gut instincts and go wherever the story takes me, regardless of whether or not I'd planned for it before. And sixteen first drafts later, I've yet to regret going with what felt right as I wrote rather than with what I'd originally planned.

So those are the main things I try to keep in mind when putting words on the page for the first time. What do you focus on while first drafting?

Twitter-sized bite:
What do you focus on while first drafting? @Ava_Jae shares some experience and thoughts. (Click to tweet)

7 Diverse Fall 2017 Books I'm Psyched About

Somehow, the fall 2017 publication season is not that far away. Earlier in the year I did a diverse books for 2017 post, but I only covered the first half of the year, so now it's time to take a look at the books going forward that sound amazing.

I've been psyched about most of these for quite some time. Because they sound incredible.

Without further ado, here are seven I'm looking forward to:


Photo credit: Goodreads


The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke (September 1)
YA Historical Fantasy

Goodreads summary:

"When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process."

Diversity note: Ellie is Jewish (#ownvoices).


Photo credit: Goodreads


They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (September 5)
YA Contemporary

Goodreads summary:

"On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day."

Diversity note: Mateo (and possibly Rufus?) are Latino, and I'm guessing they are queer boys too (#ownvoices).


Photo credit: Goodreads


Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (September 5) 
YA Fantasy

Goodreads summary:

"Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.  
When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive."

Diversity note: Sal is gender fluid.


Photo credit: Goodreads

27 Hours by Tristina Wright (October 3)
YA Sci-Fi

Goodreads summary:

"Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish. 
But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.
Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother's shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon's darkest secret. 
They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth. 
During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left."

Diversity note: I've heard the representation includes characters who are bisexual (#ownvoices), gay, pansexual, asexual, trans, deaf, and POC.


Photo credit: Goodreads

Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee (October 5)
YA Fantasy (Graphic novel)

Goodreads summary:

"Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants, and if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most-wanted villain.

After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges. Everyone is in danger. Between college applications and crushing on his best friend, will Bells have time to take down a corrupt government?

Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain."

Diversity note: Bells is a trans guy.


Photo credit: Goodreads

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (October 10)
YA Fantasy

Goodreads summary:

"Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? 
Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute."

Diversity note: This is an #ownvoices East Asian fantasy reimagining. 


Photo credit: Goodreads

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi
MG Fantasy

Goodreads summary:

"Our story begins on a frosty night… 
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear. 
But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship. "

Diversity note: This is an #ownvoices dark Persian fantasy. 


So that's a sampling of the books I'm psyched for this fall. What diverse falls books are you looking forward to? 

Twitter-sized bite:

What diverse books releasing this fall are you psyched about? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...