Category Archives: YA

Genre Crisis: “New Adult” Label

a_4x-horizontalNobody likes to be put into categories, most of all writers. But categories—or in the world of books, genres—are very helpful for marketing and selling a book. When querying publishing firms and literary agents, one must identify their genre, which helps the editors and agents decide whether the project will fall into their areas of interest. But recently, I’ve had an extremely difficult time placing my novel in a genre, which should be a good thing because agents seek works that cross several genres, except it seriously curtails one’s ability to market himself.

I could easily make up my own genre: Southern comedy transgressive? Meta-cultural southern teen exploration? Young adult, but not that young, but maybe still in their twenties who like funny but also serious writing?

The problem is, if the agent doesn’t recognize the genre, then she or he cannot place it right? I tried literary, but that

dasfasf

can’t just say that: you need a better phrase.

brand is too broad. While my project has literary elements, it certainly could be explained more descriptively. I tried young adult, but this generally means the books is marketed for teens ages 12-15. My novel is marketed toward older teens and 20-somethings. It, like many New Adult novels, tracks the growth and development of young adults whose identities are forming, who are seriously changing.

So maybe your book is a noir space opera western with thriller-paced plotting, literary aesthetic, and occult elements? Well, you need a better way to say that, a shorter way.

As I’ve been e-mailing literary agents, literary magazines, and publishers, this question has plagued me constantly. Finally I found an age-group description “New Adult” with which to market the novel THE HEATHENS AND LIARS OF LICKSKILLET COUNTY. “New Adult” bridges the gap between the safe and young group of Young Adult (YA) readers and Adult fiction. But because my books deals with characters in between, I think this genre (a relatively new invention of words) is fitting.

Querying agents has so far not worked out, but I am still sending many, many emails all over the country (and the world!) to publish this novel, as well as poems and short stories.

Have you had trouble labeling a piece of work? What genre did you settle on?

How I Write

Mutli-Cultural Reading: Spoken Word Poems

Below is a video of my performance at the multi-cultural open mic. I read two poems called “A Savage Yawp” and “American.”

I hope you enjoyed these poems, seriously. I might post videos of other performances of either separately. The second poem is defintiely one of my favorite.

The open mic was hosted by LadyVee DaPoet, as part of Poetry Matters. Poet Big Bailey videotaped this performance and posted it. Many thanks to him. You can find his channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/BiGBaileysBeats

Thanks for watching and reading.

Arts in the Heart, Last Day

More great poetry occurred today on the Troubador Stage. Mahogany Lounge, Augusta’ s premiere spoken word experience, hosted a teen poetry slam. Yours truly participated.

Nine great teen poets competed on Broad Street, and a poet friend of mine Sasset West won. Hopefully, she might join the Young Artists for Change showcase line-up. More info on that showcase coming soon.

Why I really wanted to make it down to Augusta was to meet Jon Goode, a Def Jam Poet from HBO. I’ve heard a few of his poems and am a fan. He is currently touring, performing tonight at Mahogany Lounge. It was quite cool, him knowing loads of poets that I really admire. This is all very exciting news for me, anyways. Was an exciting day. I’ll share with you, before I go, one of Goode’s poems.

Book Snobs Are Snobby

How To Pick Up Women (According to Edward Cullen)

Happy Birthday Harry!

Today marks Harry Potter’s birthday, another reason to gush about my love for the Harry Potter book series. Thank you, Joanne Rowling, for turning a generation of nonreaders into a generation of wizards.

Raise your Butter Beer, raise your Fire Whiskey to the Boy Who Lived!

The Writing History of Derek Berry: Part 2

Derek is telling a wonderful story about how he finally wrote a novel he’s proud of and all about everything he’s ever done in writing. Read part 1 here: http://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/the-writing-history-of-derek-berry-part-1/

Read about his book here: http://derekberry.wordpress.com/about-the-book-word-salad/

Last time, I told you about Aurelia, the book I wrote when I was only eleven.

After I put Aurelia away, I ventured onto several tangents. Some time during my freshman year, I ventured into rocky territory. I dropped fantasy, which I always intended to write in my youth. My “younger” youth. Instead, I wanted to write horror. I tried all sorts of projects, too- a learning experience. Dean Koontz rip-offs, Stephen King rip-offs. the most cringe-worthy idea was about a horde of very classy vampires who exploited the vampire craze of the day by sleeping with creepy, nerdy Twihards.

As a sophomore, I began writing for the Hornet Herald, which I credit with my skills at writing funny blog posts! After being subjected to plenty of snooze-inducing news stories, I finally tried my hand at a column. A Valentines Column that I may one day re-post here (probably on Valentines Day). For the past year, I’ve almost exclusively been writing columns for our school newspaper, funny serious, and otherwise. Some might find their way here, some not. I’ll have to dig through the archives of my old computer. Such practice has helped me learn how to write blogs, I’d like to believe.

Last summer, I began writing poetry. It began as angry tirades but became more like this: http://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/reading-poetry/ More poetry videos will be coming soon, I promise.

A very captivating poetry reading very late at night

I began writing Word Salad for NANOWRIMO, which is in November when you’re supposed to write 50,000 words in one month. The book was not exactly what it is today, because it was called The Life and Times of a Serial Killer and dealt solely with Sebastian Martinelli. The story I wanted to tell only involved a serial killer and a lot of gory acts of violence: this was before I learned how to better write about, you know, “feelings.”
The story now, is far large in expanse and storytelling. But I do suggest NANOWRIMO to people who want to jump-start ideas. No, the story will not be able to be published right away, and no 50,000 is not the length of a real novel, but it’s a good start. Learn more here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ Even if you don’t want to be a commercial author, it’s fun and I think it’s great for aspiring writers.

Well, it took about two years after that of revisions. In fact, I think I just decided to change the ending… again. Because as long as I haven’t published the book yet, I can do that. The problem arose because of a beta reader’s comments who found that the ending was very unfair to the consistency of one character.

I’ve shaped the story, though, to a place where I’m very proud to show it off, to market it via a blog. To send query letters, though I should stop until I rework the ending. Otherwise, I’m very excited to share it with the world as soon as possible. What path I know shall take is unknown. We will one day see. Also, I’m planning on printing and publishing a book of poetry. Merely a chapbook to hawk off at poetry readings. But… I’ve reconsidered and now I believe I shall also sell an e-book copy of the book (once I put all the poems together and write an introduction and put together a chapbook.) But hopefully, the poetry book which has yet to be named will be coming to an Amazon website near you!

That is the entire and exhaustive history of my writing. I hope you have enjoyed reading about the misadventures of Derek Berry!

The Writing History of Derek Berry: Part 1

I think it would be fun to recount the writing misadventures of my own short life, so read about them here.

Derek began writing stories at the age of five. His first story was called “The Night Before Christmas” in which Santa Claus fell down the chimney and died in a fire, sort of like a rip-off of “The Santa Claus” sans Tim Allen.

Now he’s written something he’s more proud of, a novel called Word Salad. Read about it here: http://derekberry.wordpress.com/about-the-book-word-salad/

In the fifth grade, I wrote a twelve-part story about a kid who tracks down magical amulets and saves the world and whatnot. This was the first time I wrote anything especially gory. Unnecessarily gory. I think the villain (Mr. Paradox) was stabbed through his Achilles tendon and shot in the face. Other character met similarly grisly ends: pushed off cliffs, burned alive, eaten by flesh-eating bugs.

This first foray into the nitty gritty may foreshadow some of my gory/strange story choices nowadays.

At that age, writing helped me express myself; I was not the social animal I am today. I wasn’t even any sort of animal, per se. I could not speak very well for the first eleven years of my life, so I wrote. I read. Maybe having spent eleven years nearly silent, I feel like I should make up for it now. But writing, cliche enough, became an escape for me. I never questioned that deep down, I wanted to tell stories. Before wanting to become a writer, I thought I’d love to be a film director until I learned that they were usually not responsible with WRITING the story. I wanted to make up stories for people to enjoy.

In the fifth grade, I decided I wanted to write professionally. How hard could it be? At eleven, I could simply type up a book and send it to a big publisher. They’d fall in love and give lots and lots of money so I could continue to write books for the rest of my life in the safety of a lake house. Well, it’s been six years since that dream was first inspired, and sadly, no lake house. No published works.

Of course when Random House did not mail me back, I did not lose faith. Instead, I started writing something new. What you’ll notice about my writing life is that I’ve never stopped writing. I don’t expect to not publish Word Salad, but if it fails to garner any sort of attention, I shan’t stop writing. That’s just not what I do. Even in the sixth grade, I understood that. So, at twelve, I began to write what I like to think as “my first real novel.”

It was horrible. I was twelve. But I’m still damn proud out it, because I wrote it. Like I said, I was TWELVE. I finished the first and even penned a sequel, planning out a whole series before tiring out of the story. But still, this novel I wrote was even longer than the one I’m pushing right now. And it’s not THAT bad, even, especially considering a sixth grader wrote it. It took about a year and a half to write and was called Aurelia.

The basic premise was that there is an eighth continent floating around in the sky where magical stuff happens, the place where our myths come from. Because an evil sorcerer vanquished years ago threatens to return (his name was Zinnebarr, which mind you, is an awesome name), the Aurelians seek the help of “the chosen one.” The said chosen one was Declin Furthermore who is kidnapped by a giant rainbow-colored bird named Tropez and taken to the capitol. There, Declin learns it is his duty and destiny to find Zinnebarr’s spirit and destroy his source of power, The Shadow Orb.

Well, it’s not exactly original, but I think writing something like this was a great step in the right direction. No one takes you seriously at twelve, so I did get kindly replies from agents. “I can’t help you publish this, but keep on writing” became the ultimate sentiment. What I’m most proud of is what issues I tackled. I continued to rewrite and rewrite the story I’d written until I was about 14. And the story, therefore, became more imaginative, more complicated. The fictional continent was mostly vacant grasslands for some reason with only about 17 real cities, but each city was important. The rest of the continent, I remember, was covered by either desert or a really creepy forest. One of the cities was the industrial center of the otherwise pollution-free land, so a magical dome was placed over it to keep in all the nasty smog. Things like that, I’m proud of.

I may blog another day about the ingenuity of Aurelia, of which I still have a copy of in my room, but unfortunately, no digital copies. I might try to find a copy of it on a flashdrive somewhere and share its juvenile awesomeness gratis to the world.

Well, that’s the end of part 1 of this awesome story. Tune in tomorrow or Monday for Part 2 of The Writing History of Derek Berry.

Survival Guide For a Post -Potter World

Directed by David Yates, says the screen, springing into the credits with a soundtrack of nostalgic Harry Potter themes. There is a moment of disquiet that occurs in one’s mind, then of panic. It’s over, I say. It’s over?

After a predominantly silent ride home, I passed out at three in the morning and woke up to something entirely different. What was this new world, a little bit less light and certainly less magical? Well, I discovered that there might just be something beyond Harry Potter- a reality that exists parallel to our own in which Harry Potter does not fill any such void as it does in ours. So, I rubbed my eyes and asked, What they do in this world? How do they survive?

This is what I’d like to say to the magical world, quoting Tom Riddle during his attack on Hogwarts:

I know that you are preparing to fight. Your efforts are futile. You cannot fight me. I do not want to kill you. I have great respect for the teachers of Hogwarts. I do not want to spill magical blood. Give me Harry Potter, and they shall not be harmed. Give me Harry Potter and I shall leave the school untouched. Give me Harry Potter and you will be rewarded. You have until midnight.

After every Harry Potter book I read, I was excited for the next to be released. I began reading the series just before the fourth book was published, and I’ve become a Buddha of waiting for the next Harry Potter. Whether it’s a book or a movie, and at this point, even if it were a comic book or a Disney Channel sitcom, I’d wait avidly. Except there’s not much left to wait for. Which means unfortunately, life has effectively stopped.

Sure, there’s Pottermore, but I look upon it with a mixture of excitement and fear: what if it’s just not what we want? Can we really rely on the premise of Fan Fiction via Pottermore keeping the legend afloat? And then arise other, more pressing worries: what if people forget? How will I feel in forty years when some teenager asks, “Who the hell is Harry Potter?” After knocking him over the head with a cane (A classy one), I’ll feel devastated. Where do Harry and Ron and Hermione stand in the aftermath of their Hogwarts educations?

It’s actually quite worrisome for the trio when you take into consideration the fact that they spent their final year tracking down Horocruxes. Hermione won’t be top of her class any longer, and none of them have applied for any wizarding scholarships. Harry might be fine, considering he has a heap of gold left over by his parents that will never depreciate because it’s, well, gold. But what about Ron who didn’t pass as many OWLS?

And now that we’ve all graduated, even though we’ve failed Potions enough to delay it for a few years, what are we going to do? Well, here’s the truth: I don’t feel like Harry Potter has ended. It’s such an abstract notion that my mind can’t comprehend it.

The books will always sit on our shelves like Kings Cross Station; we only need to board a train to take us back to Harry and his friends. The films will be stowed in their DVD cases below, ready to be watched. Even with nothing more to look forward to, we have not left Harry for good. Pottermore may offer something for us to divulge our Potter appetites with, and maybe, just maybe… some prequel, sequel, in-between-equal will emerge from Rowling’s mind. And in the meantime, we can pore over what we have and hope for the best at what she’s now producing.

Anytime we want to return to Hogwarts, we need only open out Marauder Maps and mumble, “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good.”

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