Archives: author

If you’re a fiction or memoir lover, you have probably, at some point, fallen in love with a 20-Something title. Three favorites of ours: Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, J.R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar and one hilariously well-written debut, Girls in White Dresses.

Even if a 20-Something book is written by a 40-Something, it’s still perhaps one of the hardest genres to sell—maybe because its primary audience increasingly reads content on Facebook and blogs, which offer so much dishing-all that, well, why would you need to read it elsewhere? (Ironically, according to this report, Gen Y seems to be leading in terms of overall book buying.)

Do readers want a story that is aspirational but characters who are not always? Very possibly. If the heroine of the novel is too precious, polished, or perfect, makes no blunders, has only happy endings—well, they’re just not so likeable, are they? The best 20-Something characters can be down-on-their-luck and still, with exquisite wry humor, make us laugh. And they’re usually tough, not wallowing in pain the way our 20-Something selves may be.

Agents, receiving more submissions in the history of books than ever before, are seeing more and more proposals and manuscripts written by, or about, 20-Somethings. Before you seek representation, here are a few pointers that might be helpful to consider.

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Today, we took a moment to catch up with Bianca Turetsky, author of The Time-Traveling Fashionista series. We talked about fashion, writing for tweens, and of course the newest the fashionista novel, The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile  (out today!).  Turetsky_FashionistaCle#196

The series follows Louise, a spunky 12-year old vintage fashion aficionado with an unusual (and entertaining) knack for time-traveling to the most stylish “fashion moments” in history. As one reviewer puts it, “no time machine or geekery here” and  Kirkus calls it “suspenseful and exciting..an immersive history lesson.”

Here’s what Bianca had to say…

1) Louise is an ideal heroine– spunky, smart, and unafraid to stand out. Is her character modeled after yourself when you were her age in any way?  

I’m so happy you feel that way about Louise! I love books with smart female protagonists so I’m glad she came across that way. Like Louise, I was very into vintage clothing and shopping at thrift stores, which was not typical in the suburban CT town I grew up in. But it’s not easy to stand out in middle school and I felt very insecure at that time. Although it didn’t stop me from dressing differently from the crowd! I probably was braver in my head and journals than in real life.

2) Can you give us an idea of the kinds of ensembles we would have found a young Bianca outfitted in?

I went through a time when I wore men’s thrifted shirts and ties. I wore mismatched earrings and socks. And generally a lot of neon. I went through a Laura Ashley and Betsey Johnson phase. Let’s just say I was still figuring it out.

3) What role does fashion play in your life now? Do you have a fashion icon?  

I find fashion to be a fun and creative outlet. I love the Edith Head quote I use in the book: “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” I try and live by that.  I have so many fashion icons: Diana Vreeland, Lauren Hutton, old-Hollywood movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. Currently I love Alexa Chung’s style. She mixes vintage pieces with new younger designers and always makes it her own unique take.

4) Are there any especially important themes in the Fashionista series that you are trying to communicate to young readers? 

I think it’s important to embrace the thing that makes you different. Maybe your passion is not vintage fashion, but the hobby or outlet you have that your friends don’t is what makes you special- whether it’s math or crocheting or baking. Everyone else will catch up with you!

5) Did you encounter any inherent challenges associated with reaching and appealing to a younger audience? How did you go about learning the language of tweens? Read more »

ON SHELVES NOW

OK, this jacket is stunning. Indisputably stunning. You may have seen it, standing out among the crowd of books at Barnes & Noble or your local indie–stark and no-nonsense, just like its story.

For lovers of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, for lovers of dystopian fiction, adventure novels, and the wild outdoors, journalist turned novelist (not easy to do), Peter Heller’s THE DOG STARS, is a book you won’t want to miss if you plan to be part of a national literary conversation. Read more »

There’s a question authors ask, around which there’s alot of hype and not alot of clarity: “What can I expect for my book advance?

It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask an agent after several conversations and a verbally understood agreement of representation; not recommended to ask upon preliminary conversation.

Why should an author be cautioned against asking this question at the get go, however important it is to know?
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ON SHELVES IN PAPERBACK THIS WEEK

I’m excited to get acquainted with the Hannah Vogel series, not merely because of its captivating book jacket and intriguing plot – I don’t usually read mystery – but because the author appears to be one of those genuine, real however successful, people one comes across only so often  in the virtual world. I’ve also recently noticed good female mystery authors – save the Sue Graftons and Janet Evanoviches of the world are particularly hard to find. (See this interesting article by Meg Wolitzer in The Times: “On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women.”)
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Books are made on word-of-mouth.
At least those books that receive critical acclaim or top the bestseller charts. Think The Help or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and countless others.

This is more than publicity. This is the unquantifiable magic of human capital. No matter how much you spend, it can’t really be predicted.

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The latest book by Arthur Phillips, next on my reading list, and in his usual, ambitious style:

Most reading this blog are likely already aware of this book, and have maybe even bought it? For those who aren’t familiar, I encourage you to look no further than the book’s summary:

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A tweet can make a difference.

I see this happen all the time. But many writers I’ve advised to blog and tweet, will grieve: “no matter what I do, I don’t see anyone coming to my blog!”

But then, suddenly, one day, one hour, and within ten seconds, that changes, and one of the most influential Twitterers falls upon your blog, and tweets about it to his thousands of followers. And suddenly, you see 20 new follows and an unprecedented spike in your web traffic; if you’re published, maybe even a spike in your Amazon ranking.

In publishing today, there is no such thing as “build it and they will come.”

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 I’ve just started a series called Book Jacket of the Week. Every week, I’ll pick something that catches my eye, and you can comment if you agree or disagree. Here is the first: do you recognize it?

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I was speaking with a young friend of mine, an artist and aspiring children’s book writer, about his day job: the one that pays the bills, and a necessary evil for most creatives. I’ve encountered three types of people in my life. The first are those who grow up with a hardworking parent — by hardworking, I mean a hospital doctor, a successful banker or lawyer, a diplomat, or a parent who worked multiple, more menial jobs to make ends meet. These children tend to follow in those footsteps, often making great sacrifices, because hard work and often, the compensation for it, was the greatest value they were taught. As the great filmmaker Michael Apted said, quoting a Jesuit proverb, about his now famous 7 Up series, “the coal miner’s son becomes the coal miner.” To a large degree, don’t you find this true in yourself, in those you know?

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Categorized: Authors and Writers