YA Book Review: Truth in Lies (The Generators Book 2)

YA Book Review: 
Truth in Lies 

Truth in Lies in the second installment of Jennifer DiGiovanni's The Generators series and is an interesting page-turner that propels the plot forward in unpredictable ways. Review to the first novel can be found here.

In this novel, Cara Scotto and Alex DeMarsh's relationship deepens, while Nate and her become fast friends as he tries to help her control her powers to hide the truth from others. Despite wanting to live a normal life, they fear an old enemy striking again. Alex must come to terms with the idea of eliminating the threat and possibly taking over the underground network of supernaturals if he and Cara want a chance at a happily ever after. As they plan out their future together, these threats come back to haunt them. Will Alex's over protectiveness and impeccable plans protect Cara or will she have to hold her own against their enemies?

For starters, book two is just as well told as book one and is in fact a perfect page turning sequel that left me wanting more. There is a lot of romance, relationships and friendships blossoming, and a lot of character depth, but there is a bit less action. This does not truly detract from the novel because the ending is jam-packed full of nonstop, heart-racing action, but is deeper in other ways. Alex is swoon worthy in this one proving in various ways that he intends to be dedicated and with Cara forever and is adorably vulnerable. Cara is still headstrong but learns she cannot take on the world alone. He will do whatever it takes to have a future with her and for her to be happy, while she is finally coming to terms with who she is and becomes fully supportive of Alex. Without spoiling anything, I'm so happy DiGiovanni avoided cliche plot devices--no love triangle, good doesn't quite fully triumph over evil, and no ludicrous bad guy gimmicks. Its realism actually made it unpredictable since the novel avoids overused plot twists readers are used to.

DiGiovanni instead delivers something fresh and real and we can cheer on the couple as they work toward a happily ever after, but they aren't quite there yet leaving readers wanting more.

Truth in Lies Buy book 2 here

If you haven't read the first one Fire in Ice, you can buy book 1 here

Tales in Publishing: The #PitMad Path

Tales in Publishing: 
The #PitMad Path

Since my first novel was picked up through a Twitter book pitch day, and I'd also sent out queries to a second novel that went unanswered, I thought, "Why not give it another try?" So one morning when I saw another Twitter pitching "party" in my feed, I went for it. This one was called #pitmad which is a day authors can pitch their completed novels to agents and publishers in 280 characters or less. If they like it, you send them your query. You also rewteet to help fellow authors out so they'll be seen more.

I got so involved with retweeting for other authors, the day shot by. I was kind of disappointed by midday when only one "agent" liked my novel. When I clicked on this person, I found out they were "helping" people self-publish, meaning a vanity press. Vanity presses are companies that take unsuspecting authors' money with promises of helping them get their books published, when in the end the author spends sometimes thousands of dollars for editing, covers, etc. and then gets little to no promotion. The problem with vanity presses is an author has no idea the quality they'll give them, potentially wasting money on terrible editing, for example. Yeah, I wasn't falling for that.

So I went offline and came back later that day to find I had two hits, one for each novel! I was excited, but my excitement turned to nervousness and indecision when I found out they were both new publishers without much of a track record yet. New doesn't necessarily mean bad, but there wasn't much about them on the internet. Sending material without a legal copyright to someone is like sending your kid to a babysitter who doesn't have references. It terrified me.

From what I was able to find, one company sounded great with decent royalty rates and was registered with Duotrope as legitimate. The second had some negative comments from people in a forum (but I couldn't sign up to see, for some reason) and standard royalty rates, but the lowest end of standard. I also realized I'd never have the time to edit and market two books simultaneously.

In the end, I decided to go with the first one and hold my other novel for a later date. I sent in my query letter and the first three chapters they asked for. Then right away they wanted the entire manuscript. Once they had that, their reader blew through the 200+ novel in two days unable to put it down. They told me they loved the book but needed to have a video meeting to discuss some things.

I was nervous. But the day the meeting came, they simply had a couple questions for me about my novel, some things they suggested I further explain or alter. Fortunately, with this novel I agreed with them; I knew this novel could do with one more revision but struggled with it, needing that outsider opinion. At the end of the meeting, they officially asked to publish my novel and I couldn't stop grinning. Not only was I happy to have a second novel getting published, I was also happy with my decision to go with these publishers. They're very personal and hands on, by doing everything in person through Google Meet, and are really after helping authors put forth their best novel. I obviously signed the contract with them excited for this venture.

Stay tuned to hear about this novel, coming out July 2019!

Tips for YA Lit: The Romance Bit

Tips for YA Lit: 
The Romance Bit

Recently, I came across the article "10 Couples That Hurt YA Movies (And 10 That Saved them)," by Screen Rant, and as the title suggests it talks about the best and worst couples in YA movies. Since a lot of the movies were book adaptations, I thought this would be cool to explore what works for romance in YA books.

Please Don't:
  • Have an unhealthy relationship--you know, don't make one person in the couple be domineering, controlling, backstabbing, or just an awful human being. Screen Rant uses Bella and Edward (as I have in previous posts) and Katniss and Gale as prime examples. These guys were frankly awful to the girls. I mean Edward controls Bella's every move, and Gale pretty much kills Katniss's sister. Not healthy!
  • Make them too opposite--the age old "opposites attract" can only go so far. When two people are so different that no common ground exists at all, we have trouble as readers figuring out why they ever got together and don't buy into it.
  • Make it too easy--the term is insta-love, where characters fall head over heels in love almost at first sight. Yes, Romeo and Juliet did, but honestly didn't it seem more like lust at first sight for him, and a girl falling for a smooth talker? What changed for the two you'll see below: let love grow. The point is, society today, even teens, like a bit of realism. We like what we see and then we learn more before we love.
  • Be overly sentimental--We love sentimental and sappy overtures, sure, and teens lap it up
    even more since reality of the dating life has not jaded them yet, but don't go overboard to where your reader rolls their eyes at what the guy is saying. We want him strong and emotionally accessible not a sniveling weakling that admits every feeling in words. Let him show us in actions.
  • Have too much romance in a multi-genre story--if your story is a on-the-run page turner where your characters should be focused on living to see the next day, having too much romance rings false. Slip this in through their thoughts an worries over each other, in the small downtime moments they have instead of making it a huge focus. Survival instincts should take precedence over matters of the heart.

Please Do:
  • Have an equal relationship--yes, they can mess up, since we want them to be human and realistic, but not easily forgiven or accepting things blindly. They should both bring the same amount to the relationship and have the same control of their own lives. If they're fighting for survival, make them both badasses working together, neither needing saving. Think Tris and Four.
  • Let Love Grow--start with intrigue in that the characters like the look of each other, move onto having good and flirty conversations, then the lust factor where they become attracted to one another. This is more realistic and relatable, although you can enter in plot devices to speed up the process like a death-defying experience or a stuck-together trope.
  • Make them real and authentic--real people struggling to voice their feelings into words is more satisfying than sappy speeches that no one buys into or would make the guy's friends mock him if it were real life. Yes, boys should have feelings in novels, but they shouldn't play so far away from stereotypes that we no longer identify with them. It isn't believable and it sets up false expectations for younger YA readers. Realism rings true.
  • Have obstacles--nothing is more satisfying than seeing a couple overcome the things against them and working together to get there. It's much better than the damsel being saved (or the "hero" being saved and needy). If there is something in the way, the conquering is as good as the romance that gets us there.
These are merely suggestions and there are exceptions to the rule. After all Twilight was a success, but I wonder if it would be as successful now, ten years later, in a world where women are again fighting against discrimination and strong heroines are applauded. Another ten years from now, we could see a different kind of turn in YA lit where this advice may no longer work, so know the industry by reading as much as you can.

What kind of romantic tips can you add?

YA Book Review: Insidious: An Urban Fantasy Romance by Victoria Evers

YA Book Review:


An Urban Fantasy Romance

Recently, I purchased Insidious: An Urban Fantasy Romance (The Marked Mage Chronicles, Book 1), by Victoria Evers, due to the low Kindle price. For the price, it was a steal. Overall, an enjoyable and creative story, but it had some hitches preventing a 5/5 star status.

This story is told by Kat who's expected to be a perfect country-club teenage girl for her extremely superficial and unloving parents who expect total obedience. She's in a fatal accident but somehow survives with a quick recovery. Soon things start getting crazy and she is opened to a world of magicians, hell hounds, reapers, and an array of demons. The only person who can help her is the guy she loathes, Reese Blackburn, who ends up educating her about this world along with her ex and his father. Only these strange tattoos show up on her arm which Reese informs her are like a target for everyone in their world--good and evil--to eliminate her. As they try to figure out what her tattoo means, hide what she is from everyone, and deal with their budding attraction for each other, there is someone--her mate--out there stalking and harassing her hoping she'll fall right into his trap.

Cons--The beginning is hard to get into. The prologue scene is straight out of a movie--or so close to it I recalled the movie I had only seen once years ago--which is plagiarism. It would've been much more effective to merely have Kat watch a news report on it, since it is sort of important later. Also, there was a weird issue with word choices. People were described more by weird labels than their names as if trying to force a variation of word choices rather than depending on pronouns like "he" or a name. Last, there's a huge amount of references in this book to pop-culture things like TV, movies, etc. but the majority are from the 90's which probably goes over teens head (some I had no clue about myself either). I had to double check that the book was written recently and not back then. Just kind of awkward at times with these references and word choices.

Pros--I loved the characters. Kat had to grow on me but immediately I loved Reese and the sub characters. The mythology business with magicians, powers, demons, and reapers were the making of the book. I absolutely loved this supernatural world amidst our real one, and although I heard of the creatures mentioned before, this was done in a unique way. The mythology dealing with Hell and sinning was kind of a cool twist too. I also loved the attention to detail throughout the book in places and the pick up in pacing at the action scenes where readers want to know what happens quickly. The ending throws in lots of surprises, a couple holy crap moments, and it was refreshingly unpredictable. The plot, characters, and fantasy elements were the best parts of the book.

Overall, it was an excellent read but it needed some tweaking when it came down to the writing and the beginning of the book. I will give it 4/5 stars because I did enjoy it and it was difficult to put down; however, I don't think I'll read the second because I just didn't fall in love with it to care enough, and from the description of the next book it seems to start a love triangle with a character I cannot possibly be on board with. However, I do recommend the first book and would love to have someone change my mind and give me reasons to read the second.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, buy book 1 here.


Tales in Publishing: Query example

Tales in Publishing:  Query example I'm sharing my successful query to others in hopes it exemplifies what to do and helps other au...