Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sex Sells Children's Books?

I know this cover art has been making the rounds, but just in case some of you haven't seen it, I thought I would post it. Call it a little inspiration for those of you writing shapeshifter erotic romance. Were-chickens? Anything is possible. It's been a while since my last trip to the zoo. Can anyone identify the creature between the pig and the cow? Is that meant to be a very large dog?

I've been sadly absent from the blog the last couple of weeks and would like to acknowledge the efforts of my co-blogger to keep this thing going while I drown in doo-doo. It has been a combination of things. Two big family events, out of town guests, real estate sales and purchases, and other things not worth mentioning. Suffice it to say that I'm out of my rut. Given how much I like my rut, this is not a good thing.

Tuesday, the last visitors depart and I will fall back into my -- let's not call it a rut. Let's call it a groove. That sounds better, doesn't it?

In the meantime, I'm curious. What's on the mind of you writers? What issues are you wrestling in your prose? As readers, what is the book you're longing to read but can't find in the bookstores? I visited the bookstore with some guests a few days ago -- guests not involved in publishing in any way whatsoever -- and their comments in the store made me think that despite the amazing abundance of books being published, we're still somehow not offering the right selection.



Ian said...

I have a question about an issue that has just come up for me. My ABNA entry Deep Six just got requested revisions from an agent. She wanted me either to tone it down to where it could be YA or to rough it up to make it more an adult read.

I have what I believe to be a good amount of violence - some of it graphic - in the book, but no sex (it's not a story that lends itself to the ol' beast with two backs). The agent specifically mentioned the dialogue between the two main characters as being kind of "innocent." My question is how can I go about "adultifying" the dialogue without just adding a liberal sprinkling of profanity and double entendres? Or is that really all I need to do? I want to do it right because I've been trying for five years to land interest in my superhero stuff and I feel like I'm on the cusp of success for once. What makes a book suitable for young adult readers as opposed to adults? I think of the Harry Potter series, which is certainly targeted toward YA, but deals with some very mature themes nonetheless. Where is that line drawn and what's on either side of it?

That give you enough fodder for a post or three? :)


Amanda said...

I'm writing my very first novel. I can't believe I just said that out loud to strangers. So I'm dealing with the innate fear of failure. I'm also at that point (I've heard other writers say this) where it's just hard to push on through to the end.

As a reader, I can't seem to stop reading. There are just too many books to choose from. So I have not had trouble finding anything to read.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Now that the kids are in school, I've been reading more and yeah, I'll agree: it's hard to find the kinds of books I want to read. I'm looking for something a bit off the beaten path -- great characters, no urban fantasy, no shapeshifters, no alpha males, no four women friends who go through trials and tribulations...

I want a great commercial read with characters who come alive. I'm reading some great books, but I'm missing that magic.

Anonymous said...

That's a 'rut' all right! I skipped down and saw how you like your 'rut'. I'm sure glad I wasn't drinking anything hot at the time!

Jan, who's in stitches!
rut: Applies to nonhuman mammals: a state or period of heightened sexual arousal and activity

Thomma Lyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomma Lyn said...

Just finished a rough draft -- thought I was going to dive right into revisions, but I'm finding I need a bit of a breather. Rough-drafting is quite a different mindset than revisions and editing. :) But I'm gonna dive back in very soon.

Basically, I am writing the book I want to read but can't find in the bookstores. It's what I've shot for with all my books, but so far I haven't quite gotten "marketable" down. Whether my novel-in-progress gets out there someday, who knows, and I'm gonna try like heck to get it out there, but in the meantime I'm having a fine time with my story.

Whirlochre said...

Anything that makes me double-take in the face of humdrum the second I get to THE END.

Anonymous said...

Currently editing my manuscript. I hate it now and I can't imagine it every being publishable. *sighs deeply* I figure my reading habits are a little different from others. English-language books in Japan are so expensive and i go through them so fast. I rely on whatever my friends are lending out and what I can find in the few second-hand bookstores.


I'm pretty sure that animal is a donkey though. At least I can help out in that respect.

Becky Burkheart said...

>>As readers, what is the book you're longing to read but can't find in the bookstores? I visited the bookstore with some guests a few days ago -- guests not involved in publishing in any way whatsoever -- and their comments in the store made me think that despite the amazing abundance of books being published, we're still somehow not offering the right selection.

just last week I was caught in the middle of a raging ranting fire-fight in a readers group I'm part of - they want theme, plot and at least some level of historical and factual accuracy.

Not everyone does, of course, but there are a lot of readers out there who appreciate good fun stories that still have underlying strength. Fun does not have to equal fluff. They aren't talking about wanting to read historical text books and they aren't wanting to be preached at with moralistic texts, but they are wanting stories with a little more meat than most of what they are finding easily on the shelf these days.

a couple of people in the group are reading a popular series right now and whining and crying and screaming all the way through at the weak characterization and shaky plot points. One reader is still going with it, but she's not doing the authors or the series any good with her complaints.

The other thing I have heard people say they're looking for and haven't been able to find is good sexy epic fantasy. Not explicit, but there are a lot of readers out there that like their elves with a little steam (think First Age Tolkien Elves w/sex) and that seems to be a severely limited market right now.

Genella deGrey said...

I must refrain from visiting book stores right now – After the mother load I hauled in from RT, I’ll be good until at least January. :)

Right now I'm reading, "The Wedding Bargain" By Victoria Alexander. (I would have titled it differently - The title doesn't do it justice - but that's just MHO.) It's an adorable book, lots of LOL moments & I love the H & H. She's feisty and brave and he is head-over-heels about her. :)

In-between edits of my other stories, I'm writing a sexy Victorian romantic comedy, which has been a *joy* to write. It's called, "The Trouser Game."

What are you reading, Theresa? ;)

Wes said...

I too am writing the novel I couldn't find, one that tells the unvarnished truth about the southwest in the early 1800s as it passed from Spain to Mexico to the U.S. Willa Cather's DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHIBISHOP is beautiful and lyrical, but too sanitized. We'll see if mine can be sold.

Cathy in AK said...

Like most writers, I write what I'd want to read, but of course *my* story is better. Hey, someone has to think so. It might as well be me ;)

I think the animal between the cow and the pig is a goat.

Rachel said...

I write whatever I want to write, which may or may not be the stories I am looking for. As to that, I am feeling frustrated with the fiction market, as it seems nothing is appealing anymore. No offense to you lovely ladies, but I am not really into the romances of characters, and all too often in my browzings there seems to be nothing but heavy-handed romances embedded into the plots of the books on the shelves. I'm so jaded by that device, that any indication of an intercharacter romance on the book jacket will make me put it back.

In addition, as a fantasy reader, I am completely turned off by the glut of vampire fiction and urban fantasies.

I am looking for more traditional epic high fantasies, with complex characterization, complex magic and political systems, and multilayered plots. I am looking for darker themes and psychological explorations and ethical dilemmas.

Too many books are focusing on the shallow side of human interactions and mentalities, it seems. Love is one thing; love can be deeply complex and all-encompassing, but romance and romancing--especially as a subplot in a fantasy--is too often dipicted as something cliched and shallow.

Because of all that, I have only read and enjoyed two fantasy books this entire year: Brandon Sanderson's "Elantris" and C.S. Friedmann's "Feast of Souls." Both are darker adult high fantasies that are deeply complex and emotionally driven. Love is more than sex and romance in these books and is a minor subplot. and both are lyrically written and well-crafted.

I'm gonna stop here before I beat that horse too much. :)

I think that creature might be a miniature horse.

Anonymous said...

The animal in question is definitely a Hare. Its the ears, people. Long and tapered and closely spaced together? Hare. I'm certian.

MAGolla said...

Okay, people, the animal is an Old English Sheepdog, but the color is off, it should be gray and white. Look at the feet--DOG. Donkeys and mini horses have hooves, not paws. Yes, sometimes sheepdogs have long tails when they are born. They can be born with them bobbed or have them surgically removed, but long tails are more often seen in England. And the average OES does NOT look like a freak of nature, like you see in a dog show where they look like massive fluffy Bichons. Most OES owners keep their dog evenly trimmed with hair 2-3 inches long.
--proud owner of a 10 year old OES

Anonymous said...

First off, while I find the cover rather suggestive, I don't think a kid necessarily would. They'd just look and think "they're all helping the chicken get a worm," and, let's face it, if they did NOT think that and jumped to the other conclusion, it's too late to preserve their innocence anyway.

Sue talked a bit about wanting more substance in books, and I have to agree. I'd like to see more strong prose (please don't dumb down the language level for the literate, the average is already sadly low) as well as more believable characters. I'm not saying that I don't like reading about a vampire, but I want their motivations and actions to be believable and not just a bunch of hype.

And I have to agree that the steamy epic fantasy IS sadly lacking. That said, I imagine it would be hard to pull off without falling into the trap of "romancing" as Rachel described it, which I would also agree is overdone.

Anonymous said...

Are their any resource guides concerning sentence variety in mystery stories. I'm looking for something that shows how Chandler, for example, used types of sentences, and in what order, to write his magical mysteries. What these sentences contained such as, for example, nouns;verbs;phrases, etc. Perhaps a sentence by sentence analysis; a kind of pattern analysis; compared with other mystery writers?Thank You