Transitioning to YA/Teen: It’s Harder Than It Looks

InfinityThe other day I was doing my semi-regular rounds on the Internet, checking author  Web sites, seeing what they’re up to.  Well, color me surprised when I saw that an author – whose books I used to love but who has fallen waaaaay off my radar after a string of duds – is publishing a Young Adult/Teen book.

After my eyebrows shot up, they went down again pretty quickly, and upon reflection I couldn’t say I was exactly surprised.  Many authors try new directions for various reasons, but oftentimes when they change genres, they change names for a complete disassociation with their former lives.  So Anne Stuart becomes Kristina Douglas (historical to paranormal), Lisa Marie Rice turns into Elizabeth Jennings (erotic to suspense), Candice Proctor writes as C. S. Harris (historical to mystery), and Patricia Cabot is now more commonly known to the world as Meg Cabot (historical to teen), to name only a few.

The latter marks a trend that I’ve seen grow slowly but surely.  We don’t see too many authors transitioning to historical, probably because 99% of romance authors start writing historicals.  And there isn’t much of a jump from historical romance to paranormal or suspense.  But YA/Teen?  I feel like it’s happening a lot.  A cursory search and scan of the bookshelves yielded, just to name a few, Kelley Armstrong, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Richelle Mead, Gena Showalter, Rachel Vincent, Mary Jo Putney, Shana Abe, Sophie Jordan, Roxanne St. Claire, and Kathryn Smith writing YA/Teen fiction, some under pseudonyms.

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Romance Author Booksignings: January and Beyond

Wow! It seems like forever since I’ve been to a booksigning. Fortunately, I have a couple coming up in the next few months to make up for the dearth of events the past few months. Over the next few months look for me to report on events with Lauren Willig and Julie Hyzy who are both coming to my home town.

I have managed to find a number of events around the country that AAR readers may be interested in. But, as always, I could use your help. Do you know of any authors who are coming to your home town? If so, please let us know about it. If you know of any events that we missed between now and mid-February, please post them in the comments section. If you know of any events occurring after mid-February, please send them to us at aarbooksign  AT and we’ll add them to our mid-February post.

Disclaimer: I found these signings by extensive searches of both author and bookseller Web sites. They all appear to be free, but please contact the bookstore before you attend an event for additional information. And please let us know if you do attend a booksigning, and how you liked it. A few of the authors on the list aren’t strictly romance authors, but have either been reviewed at AAR in the past, or have appeared in AAR forum discussions.

Upcoming Booksignings:

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Author Interviews: Who’d You Like to Hear From?

I’m busy planning ahead in this month of January.  (Yes, actually planning.  Not flying by the seat of my pants or anything.)  I’d like to deliver some of the interviews you’re looking for this year.

In the past, we’ve focused on established authors and would like to stay primarily in that vein.  Newbies or debut author interviews are extremely rare.  I’ve been rebuffed only once in all the years I’ve been doing interviews for AAR – Kresley Cole had her assistant turn me down and I won’t ask again – so most everyone will respond favorably to an AAR interview request.  The sky is (almost) the limit.

We’ve got an interview with Lisa Kleypas coming shortly, but that’s all I’ve got formally scheduled for the year.  So, here’s my question:  Who would you like to see interviewed at AAR?

- Sandy AAR

Romance Author Booksignings: March and Beyond

Have you been to any booksignings recently? I went to a fun one last month for two new-to-me mystery authors, Sharon Fiffer and Vicki Delany. The event was held at my local mystery book store, and the place was absolutely packed. It’s a rather small store, and every spot of floor space was filled with a folding chair, and there was a person sitting in each chair. I arrived a bit late, but a nice man gave me his chair, and joined the rest of the people standing in the back of the room. It was obvious that while I hadn’t read these authors, a lot of other people had.

Each of the authors did a brief introduction, and then the bookstore owner did a fantastic job keeping the discussion going, by asking a lot of questions. One of my favorite questions she asked of each author was: “What books would your character read?” Since I hadn’t read the authors before, their answers weren’t particularly meaningful to me, but it’s a question I’ve now been thinking about with each book that I read.  (And why don’t more romance heroines read?)

I’m very excited to report that I’ll be attending a booksigning later this month by Jacqueline Winspear, the author of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series. If you missed Ellen’s recent review of the first book in the series, and like mysteries set in Post WWI England, you might want to check it out.

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Romance Author Book Signings: January and Beyond

I’ve been doing this feature now for several months, and am looking for suggestions from you to help make the lists I prepare more comprehensive. Each month, I go through a series of steps to create as complete a list of book signings as possible. As a first step, I visit the Web sites of all of the authors listed in the latest Romances on Sale at AAR. This generally generates a number of listings for book signing events by romance authors.

Next, I check out both and, but they are proving to be less useful over time. I rarely end up with more than one or two listings from both of those sites combined.

I’m also building a list of independent bookstores that seem to regularly feature signings by romance authors. At this point I have about 40 different bookstores bookmarked, from as diverse locations as Seattle to Omaha to New Orleans to Naperville.

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Author Book Signings: October Edition

Have you been to any book signings recently? This past month I went to a book signing for two authors at a local mystery bookstore. This time there weren’t any cupcakes or beverages (sigh), but it was a really fun event. One of the authors was a first-time published mystery author from a nearby city, while the other had been previously published.

This signing was rather informal. On the upper floor of the bookstore they had a number of chairs placed in front of a small table. The two authors were sitting at the table, each with a pile of their books in front of them.  I was the first to arrive, and the bookstore owner invited me to sit in one of the front chairs. The minute I sat down, both authors started talking to me, and we ended up chatting for about 15 minutes. After more people arrived, each author talked for around 15 minutes about their books and their writing process. Afterwards, they took questions from everyone in the audience. The discussion was fairly lively, and any time it seemed to slow down, the bookstore owner would step in with questions of her own. All in all, a very fun event, and I walked away with three books.

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Authors Behaving Smartly

unicornIt’s hot here.  Like over 100 degrees hot.  What’s a woman to do except try to distract herself from her misery by focusing on something nice?

So, in the spirit of rainbows and unicorns, here’s my personal list of authors I think are doing a great job at navigating the turbulent Internet waters.  And by personal list, I mean:

  • They’re on my personal radar.  There are lots of authors out there that I don’t follow who I’m sure are doing just as great a job who I may not be aware of.  This isn’t a wide-ranging list, but is strictly my own.
  • They’re not butt kissers.
  • They don’t turn every discussion online into “in my book…”
  • They don’t get huffy about online reviews or reader criticism.
  • They shine because their real personalities come through and the reader wants to spend time in their company.
  • They’re present online in more ways than just a blog or author Web site.  That may be a fine level of involvement for many authors and readers, but I’m just not one to take the time to visit  an individual author’s Web sites to read a blog.  I may go to an author blog if a link on Twitter or a message board leads me to it, but I just don’t surf author blogs on a regular basis. So, Jennifer Crusie (love the site design by the way), the Word Wenches, and Two Nerdy History Girls aren’t on my list, even though I think they are all made of awesome sauce.  (I’ve been dying to use the latter in a sentence. Okay. Moving on now.)

Ready for my social media honor roll?

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Correcting Author Mistakes

A few days ago I was trolling the interwebs looking for any tidbits about Rachel Gibson’s next book. (Yes, I know her last book only came out 2 months ago, but I’m impatient. Sue me.) So anyway, I visited her blog and happened upon a post where she defends herself, in general terms, against reader criticism of so-called mistakes she’s made in her hockey romances. Apparently she’s received a number of reader letters/emails regarding the subject.

Now, throughout the years I’ve read comments by readers in two camps: those who love her books because she gets the sport “right,” and those who’ve sworn off her books because she gets it “wrong.” I myself am in neither camp because although I love reading hockey romances, I haven’t the first clue about the sport itself. But her article got me wondering about how often readers write to an author to correct a real or perceived mistake.

Personally, I can recall a few instances where I complained on a reader blog or message board about some error or another an author made, and I remember at least one review I wrote where I criticized the author for a mistake. But I’ve never actually taken the time to write to an author directly with a complaint. Perhaps it’s because I’ve just never encountered a mistake I felt was so egregious to be worth the effort.

Or maybe I’m just lazy.

Either way, I’m curious about how many readers are out there who actually do write to an author, so I’ve come up with a simple yes/no poll for everyone. And if you wouldn’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear your comments about why you do or don’t.

– Katie Mack

Have you ever contacted an author about a mistake?

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We’re Buzzing About Books Around Here

clip-art-library-booksWe’re Buzzing about the books that you’re buzzing about.  Since the launch of our Books with Buzz feature in 2009 we’ve featured Lisa Kleypas, Colleen Gleason, Mary Balogh, Charlaine Harris, Elizabeth Hoyt, Leslie Parrish, Meredith Duran, Sherry Thomas, and, of course, Laura Kinsale.

And there’s more buzzing to look forward to on Monday.  What book and author will be in the spotlight?  You’ll have to check back to find out.

But, in the meantime, we’d love to know what books you’d like to see featured here in the months ahead.  So, suggestions?  Wishes?  We’d love to hear them.

- Sandy AAR

Happy New Year!

new-years-baby2 Happy 2010! It’s hard to believe we’re this far into the 21st century already. Last year – heck, the last decade – gave us some wonderful books, and from what I’ve seen of books this year so far, it promises to be a good reading year. I’ve read a good 2010 release or two so far (more on that tomorrow), and there’s still a lot to look forward to.

As with every year, there will be plenty of debut authors. I always try to pick debut books from our list of books for review here because every year I end up discovering an author or two whose voice I really enjoy. This past year, I enjoyed debuts from Tessa Dare, Kris Kennedy, Carla Capshaw and Lavinia Kent, among others, and I am excited to see what treasures are in store for this year.

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