romance

What is New Adult Fiction and Should You Be Reading It?

There’s a not-so-new emerging genre out there on the market these days called New Adult fiction. Wikipedia states that this genre was coined by St. Martins Press in 2009 when they held a contest. In the contest description, it says:

“Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult — a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.”’

1. AGE

When I heard about NA, I had hope. This described what I was writing. New Adult covers the age range of 18 – 26, or in more vague terms (since I think 26 might be too strict of a cut-off age), the age in which a person is no longer in high school, but has not yet established a career or a family. But sometimes NA covers teens in the later years of high school, like Colleen Hoover’s CRASH and HOPELESS series. We’ll get to why down below.

2. THEME

You know? That limbo stage. The party stage. The WHO THE HECK AM I? stage. The newfound I’M INDEPENDENT stage. That’s what I write and it finally has a specific genre publishers seem to be embracing (at least beginning to). The themes of New Adult tend to be structured around living on your own for the first time (or preparing to), learning how to make ends meet, establishing a career, entering or preparing for marriage and maybe even pregnancy, going to college, experiencing sex, experimenting with drinking and drugs (more so than in high school), entering more adult peer groups, and generally exploring any other adult experience that is new to that character.

3. IS NA ONLY ABOUT OVERSEXED/UNDERSEXED TEENS ENTERING ADULTHOOD?

I’ve noticed New Adult is starting to pair up with descriptions like “YA-like stories, but with more sex, and more detailed sex, at that.” When I go on Amazon, I see countless New Adult books that are selling big, especially ones with descriptions that say “For Mature Audiences Only”. You see, this is such a developing genre, and I have a feeling that it will go through some pretty big mood swings and phases before/if it lands into a more solid place.

BUT NO, NA IS NOT JUST ABOUT SEX. Like any other genre, NA can be about many, many, many different things. Story lines featuring a lot of sex or virgins looking for sex or someone recovering from rape, or anything along those lines, seem to be the popular thing at the moment. But there are other NA genres, ranging from urban fantasy to paranormal to dystopian to historical to literary, etc. Take your pick.

I’ve found that Romantic New Adult fiction is fiction that uses the romantic relationships in the story to further the main character’s self-discovery and complete his/her character arc. 

4. CROSSOVER?

I also want to point out that New Adult might have a fancy schmancy name now, but I think some books that neatly fall into its category are still being marketed as YA. Here’s a few.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman — It’s a sequel to a YA novel, sure, but it’s 100% New Adult, in my opinion. Two main characters living separately on their own, establishing their careers, not married yet, looking for who they are. By the way, I adore this book. It’s heavy on the romantic themes, but I wouldn’t call it romance.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman — Can you tell I love Gayle Forman? I think if anyone writes anything close to what I write, it’s her. This book strikes me as NA as well. It’s about a girl who just graduated and is on a trip in Europe. This one felt more romance to me.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard — This is about an 18-year old who travels to Central America looking for independence and no-strings-attached hookups. It felt borderline YA/NA to me, but could easily be NA, I think. It has romantic themes, but I wouldn’t call it romance.

So why are these not NA? I’m not exactly sure, but I think it has to do with many factors. Maybe that author mostly writes YA and the publisher wants to keep all of his/her books in that category. Maybe the book, in its general feel, appeals more to a YA audience despite the age of the characters. Maybe the publisher hasn’t embraced NA yet and they prefer to market to a YA readership. There are a lot of different reasons. Either way, I think NA will probably always be a somewhat blurry category, just like in some areas YA is blurry.

5. WRITING STYLE

I’ve read 32 YA books since January of this year. Most of those 32 books were written in first person. Many of them were first person present. I haven’t read that many NA books so far, but I’ve heard that like YA, they are also mainly written in first person present. As many of you may know, I tried to write my current NA novel in first person present. It didn’t work. This taught me that despite popular trends, you shouldn’t write a book according to what everyone else is doing. Duh. So my NA novel will now be in the apparently unpopular third person past tense. Like any other genre, NA can be written in whatever tense and POV the author wishes and it will still be NA.

6. SHOULD YOU BE READING NA?

That’s a loaded question, isn’t it? I’ll say this — like covers, sometimes books shouldn’t be judged by their genre. I think if a book’s description appeals to you, even if it’s in a genre you normally don’t read, give it a try. Like a friend of mine says, don’t be a genre snob. 

I’d like to know how many of you have read anything you might think is New Adult? Have you heard the term before? What do you think of it?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, 4 comments

Monarch Butterfly Population Down 28 Percent in 2012

michelle-d-argyle-monarch-coverI have a purely unselfish reason for wanting my novel, Monarch, to hit bestseller status and go monumentally huge. If that happened, it would not only raise more awareness for the monarch butterflies, but I’d donate the royalties to help preserve the monarch butterflies. Why would I do this? It’s because the monarch population is dwindling, not only due to illegal deforestation in Mexico where the monarchs in the Eastern United States spend their winter, but due to dwindling milkweed supply. Leave it to farmers (who keep increasing their herbicide-tolerant corn and soybean crops) to inadvertently choke out the milkweed plant – the only plant  on which monarch caterpillars feed. As an organic food lover, I have issues with those kinds of crops, anyway. Gah.

I recently read this article on the Huffington Post about the monarch population dwindling this year. My heart hurts when I read such things, and I only hope it’s just a dip and not part of a huge, steady decline. But, sadly, I’m afraid things are only going to get worse for the monarchs, not better. Did you know that here in the United States, we didn’t even know until 1975 that the monarchs migrated down to Mexico? That sure hasn’t given us a huge amount of time to marvel how far they fly every year just to survive. All the way from Canada to Mexico. It’s incredible.

My novel might be fiction, and it might be teeming with action and spies and drama, but at its heart is the monarch butterfly and what a beautiful insect it is. I’ve always had a soft spot for butterflies, especially monarchs. I, for one, do not ever want to see them die off. We would lose something magnificent.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Monarch, 0 comments

A Book That Came Out of Left Field … Maybe

I pick up my butterfly book, Monarch. You know, the one with butterfly and dead feet on the cover? That one. And I flip it open and I wonder what possessed me to write such a thing. Then I remember I grew up in the ’90’s when authors like John Grisham and Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton were hitting their stride. They were huge. Everybody read them. I read them. I was fifteen in the middle of that decade, for crying out loud, and reading legal thrillers and stories about cloning DNA. I loved this stuff. I. Ate. It. Up. I also read Joan Lowry Nixon and Lois Duncan. I loved anything that got my heart rate up.

So now there’s this series of books out there about a dragon tattoo, or something. And a girl. Or something. Right? Stieg Larsson. You’d think I’d be all over that because I love serious adult thrillers, intrigue, and danger. Well, I used to. Apparently, after so many years, my taste for this sort of thing has taken a back seat to other tastes, and I haven’t even put Larsson’s books on my Goodreads shelf. I’m reading all over the place. Young adult, adult, literary, fantasy. No thrillers. I have a few on my list, but I keep pushing them back. Maybe I’m afraid I’ll compare them to Monarch and feel disappointed in myself? I’m not sure. Because Monarch is not a true thriller. I simply can’t compare it to other thrillers. It was a book that came out of all those years in the ’90’s, all that reading I did, all that passion I had bottled up for those elements, combined with the literary elements I learned in college.

I have no idea if I’ll ever write another thriller. I feel, in a way, that Monarch satisfied my craving to write somewhere in that genre, and now I’ve moved on. The next book I have planned is historical and magical, a lot like my Bonded stories. I wonder if that’s where I’ll keep writing, but then I look at The Breakaway, a young adult contemporary suspense, and I’m confused all over again, because I really do love contemporary. Gah, I guess I just need to keep writing and see where it all goes. Signing off. Confused and laughing at myself!

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Monarch, 0 comments

There Are No Right Answers

michelle-d-argyle-monarch-coverI am still kicking myself for not bringing a camera to get a picture of the book group I visited this past week. I forgot to do this last time I visited a book group, as well. This particular one chose Monarch as their book for January, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled when they asked me to join them as their guest author. What made it even more special is that this group is based in my hometown and it has been a dream of mine to do things like this in the place I grew up. So thank you to Cari’s book group for such a wonderful evening.

One of the members was wearing a pretty butterfly necklace, which made me smile. We talked for nearly two hours about the book and answering questions from the reader guide. The best thing of all was sitting in a room with ten other people holding my book in their laps. It was a little surreal!

One thing I realized during the book discussion is something I’ve always know, but keep forgetting. The group passed around a jar of papers, each one with a question from the reader guide I mentioned above. The hostess for the evening joked that I would be able to tell them if their answers were correct. I laughed and said, “There are no right answers for these questions.”

And that is undeniably true.

Spending the evening with a roomful of readers has opened my eyes. I hang out with a lot of writers, so it was fascinating to see the different reactions to the book and the different answers given for each question. Everything discussed was untainted by a writing perspective, so some of the answers surprised me and brought even more depth to the story I had written – things I had never even considered before. I might even join this book group because I think I can learn a lot from spending time with everyday readers. What happens inside someone’s head when they read a story is an amazing thing. A story I create will always mean different things to every single reader, and I think that’s one of the most exciting things about being an author – knowing your story becomes bigger, different, and more unique with each different reader.

Visiting book groups is something I would love to keep doing throughout my career since it’s possible to do visits over Skype, as well as in person. My novels seem to lend themselves well to book groups. It’s exciting to find a little space where they fit!

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Monarch, Working With Other Writers, 0 comments

Monarch Signing at The King’s English

So I’m a little wound up from last night – my first-ever signing and reading at a bookstore. First I want to say thank you to everyone who gave me advice yesterday for publicly reading. You want to know what’s funny? I completely forgot that I used to do readings all the time in college. I’d go to the Open Mics and read poetry at least once a month. I won awards for some of my short stories and read them aloud at the presentation nights. This isn’t new to me. I only remembered this as I was sitting at the panel table with the other authors. I thought, “Oh, this isn’t so new after all. It’s just been, like, ten years…”

Anyway, the reading went fantastic! Here I am giving a little information about myself to the audience, and then reading half of the first chapter of Monarch.

Michelle D. Argyle Event Pics #6

See those monarch wings? Yeah, those are wings that my awesome friend Natalie Whipple wore to show her undying support of my work. After all, Monarch is what brought us together in the first place! Long story. But this book is special to our friendship. Thank you, Natalie!
Michelle D. Argyle Event Pics #1

My friend Stephanie McGee also came, as well as Michael Offutt.

Michelle D. Argyle Monarch Signing at King's English 001

Michelle D. Argyle Monarch Signing at King's English 004

One of the other authors was Melissa Menatti, who writes this drop-dead gorgeous poetry and presents it in the most unique, tangible way. Her book is incredible. I bought a copy and this is what it looks like:

Yes, way awesome! Loose pages you can read in any order you like. This girl understands poetry and as I listened to her read I was reminded of my college days and what I miss about writing poetry every day. Sigh. One of the other authors was Jessica McQuinn, who is published by the small press, Omnific Publishing. Yay for small press! Jessica writes romance, and it was a lot of fun to hear her read from her novel, Indivisible. The last author was Dorothy J. Varney, this lovely woman who has written about three of her husband’s ancestors during the gold rush in California. Her writing is solid and gorgeous. You can see her books here.
Michelle D. Argyle Monarch Signing at King's English 003 Melissa Michelle D. Argyle Monarch Signing at King's English 002, Meliss
All in all, a successful night! A great way to get my feet wet!
Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Monarch, 24 comments

The Fiction Scale and Book Languages

I’d like to post the Book Languages, as deciphered by a good friend of mine, Liana. She’s a genius. Just as there are many different languages that people speak, there are different book languages, too. Which one do you speak, I’m wondering? Or are you a mix?

Book Languages

The Literalist- A literalist is someone who can’t appreciate fiction. Fantasy writing irks them because they want something grounded and factual. Magic is something they neither support nor understand. Their libraries are filled with biographies, text books, and treatises on economics and political structure. When a Literalist writes they speak in facts and figures. Everything they say has been thought out and fully researched.

The Technical Reader- A TR is someone who enjoys fiction, but only if the logic makes sense. They are irked by historical anachronisms, impossible fighting moves, unexplained science, and illogical characters. They prefer hard core sci-fi with slow travel and visual time delays (speed of light you know), well-researched historical fiction, and realistic thrillers. When they write it’s usually done slowly and carefully, research is done, technical terms used, and if the character’s act like idiots you know the TR Author has either gone senile or is up to no good.

The Fanciful Reader- A FR is almost the exact opposite of a Technical Reader or Literalist. They are irked by technical details and dry recitation of facts. They want magic, romantic characters, epic sagas, and undying love. When an FR writes they will pen their greatest fantasies. Characters will be beautiful, thoughtful, and intelligent, the land will be one of milk and honey, and everything will end Happily Ever After. Expect to see fairy tales on their shelf, or a copy of Twilight.

The Romantic- Like the Fanciful Reader the Romantic isn’t interested in technical details.W hat they want is searing passion and good descriptive passages. These are the people who read Romeo and Juliet and watch the Titanic and cry every time. They won’t accept dumbed-down characters, and aren’t interested in epic battles or sagas. When a Romantic writes they focus on dialogue and interpersonal relationships. They want to speak to the soul and senses. And they have no problem with ending the book tragically.

The Symbolist- Closely related to the Fanciful Reader and the Romantic the Symbolist is searching for deeper meaning in their books. They are irked by irrelevant facts and books that are “light and fluffy.” A Symbolist wants to walk away from a book and feel like they’ve been edified. Their library shelves are filled with classical works and possiblly a diploma in Liberal Arts. They want to reread a book and find new meaning. When a symbolist writes they add layers of clues, Bonus Rounds, and meaning. Most of their work will be set in the Real World. Very rarely a Symbolist will break out into Genre Fiction and try something like fantasy or sci-fi (think CS Lewis or JRR Tolkein).

The Wildcard – The wild card is a mood reader. They have an eclectic selection of books in their library and can be fickle fans. A book they are passionate about this week they may be ambivalent about next week. As authors Wildcards tend to favor short stories and poetry. Longer novels are sometimes difficult for them to finish because they have to be in the right mood to write.

On another note, I’d like to introduce The Fiction Scale, as created by my father-in-law. He’s a genius, too. He and Liana need to talk. He describes The Fiction Scale as:

For my own convenience, I rate fiction on a scale that refers to the balance of characterization and plot. When I say “world events” I do not mean “our world events” but “book world events.”

I categorize the books I read on a decimal scale. For example, I would rate the Harry Potter books at about a 5.8. Pride and Prejudice is a solid 1. My own life is a 2.6, so I mostly enjoy reading books in the 5 to 7 range

The Fiction Scale

1. The characters have relationships with each other.

2. The characters have relationships with each other while world events happen vaguely in the background.

3. The characters have relationships with each other while doing things in the background.

4. The characters have relationships with each other while doing interesting things.

5. The characters have relationships with each other AND do interesting things related to world events.

6. The characters do interesting things that shape world events and have relationships with each other in the background.

7. World events compel characters to do exciting things. Relationships are a luxury.

8. World events ARE the real characters. People are just props in the background. Relationships are accidental.

The Breakaway rates as a 4.0

Monarch rates as a 5.0

I like 1 – 5.5 type literature

I’m a Symbolist Reader with a touch of Romantic

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Writing Process, 26 comments