O, Brave New (Adult) World!

"Emergence" by Alice Popkorn (Flickr)
“Emergence” by Alice Popkorn (Flickr)

Today’s guest is Lorin Oberweger. Lorin has been an independent editor and story development coach for almost twenty years, and her company Free Expressions also offers some of the country’s most highly regarded writing workshops. Lorin and New York Times Bestselling Author Veronica Rossi—writing together as Noelle August—are launching their new adult trilogy this month, beginning with the novel Boomerang. Says Lorin, “Noelle August is an anagram for Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger. Just kidding, it’s a pen name!”

I’m interested in the topic of genre inclusion and in pushing beyond the limitations supposedly prescribed by the marketplace.”

About her post today, Lorin says, “Though I don’t pretend to be an expert on the genre, I haven’t read much about it (the new adult genre) on Writer Unboxed, and I felt moved to explore it a bit for the WU readership. In addition, I’m interested in the topic of genre inclusion and in pushing beyond the limitations supposedly prescribed by the marketplace.”

See www.noelleaugust.com for more on both authors! You can also connect with Noelle August (and Lorin and Veronica) on Facebook and Twitter as well as on the Noelle August blog.

O, Brave New (Adult) World!

As a longtime publishing professional and a basic journeywoman writer, I’ve long held the mindset that any writing work is good work, that getting paid to do what I love, in any form, puts me at the tippy-top of the heap in terms of good fortune and career satisfaction.

So, I was over-the-top giddy when my friend, New York Times Bestselling Author Veronica Rossi and I sold a series of three books to Harper/William Morrow on the basis of a proposal, something that felt like the equivalent of sinking a basketball into a net one-hundred yards away.

And then came the comments:

“New Adult? Isn’t that just smutty YA?”

“Oh, it will come out in trade paperback? I’d never want to publish something that didn’t debut in hardcover.”

“But that’s not your genre. Why would you want to do this?”

Those remarks felt deflating, of course, but also curiously familiar.

In the olden days—1995—when I began my career as an independent editor, it was not uncommon for me to meet writers who, when they found out what I did, would basically sling bulbs of garlic at me and back away while making the sign of the cross.

Back then, far fewer reputable independent editors plied their trade than do now. Someone else controlled the conversation about the value of such professionals. That conversation has most definitely changed, and two decades later, I’m sought after and respected for the skills I’ve acquired and the work I do. But it took a climb to get here.

I get it. We writers live in a state that feels a little like building a house on quicksand. The ground is always shifting. Someone is always coming around to wring his or her hands and cry doom. It comforts us to feel like we understand our little patch of solid earth. We get the parameters and can tell each other how [Read more…]


No Limits: The Emerging New Adult Market

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gorillaradio/5424910043/in/photolist-9go5KM-gdW8pq-7AEQQd-7GQVSG-c8nzzq-7AEPMq-c8nzz9-c8nzC1-bw1pqj-dM7y29-8JXeM9-d9X26n-9xc86V-akXfWN-aCHjhU-9RQtyu-7GzM63/One of the hottest topics in commercial fiction is the New Adult market.  It’s on blogs and in marketing newsletters and all over Twitter.  Editors and agents are hot on the trail of the next big writer/book. The very successful trio of Colleen Hoover, Jamie McGuire and Abbi Glines just spent a few weeks touring for their new titles, and the crowds were enormous.

All of this success leads to everyone trying to pin down the market, box it up neatly, pronounce it to be THIS , not THAT.  I understand where the impulse comes from—if writers understand what it is, they can write it. If publishers understand it, they can offer the next bestseller.

But all too often what happens with that impulse is that it bleeds all the life out of an emerging form, making it all too similar so that everyone gets tired of it, or thinks they know what it is. The packaging all ends up looking alike. The tropes all start to sound the same.  Remember “chick lit”? It began as a perfectly legitimate exploration of how young women, usually in their mid-to-late twenties, started their work lives. The questions posed were often excellent: how do you find work you really love? Do you work or get married or both? How do you know a good man when you find one? How can you afford to look halfway decent on a budget of $0 after rent?

Then the powers that be came along and someone decided chick lit should be silly and have cartoon covers and be all about…shoes.


Of course that killed it. Who wanted to read books about airhead women spending too much money on shoes?  Before that happened, there were some excellent books published, about women learning to live with their bodies and dump bad guys and be happy at work.  Good stuff. Important stuff, stuff we’ve all dealt with.

Now here comes New Adult, which is not, first of all a “genre.” Kait Nolan says it very well: “NA is not even a genre, in my opinion.  It’s an audience, an age bracket.  And within that audience or age bracket, you have every other ACTUAL genre.  Romance.  Mysteries.  Sci Fi.  Urban Fantasy.  Contemporary.  Whatever.”

It is a very, very, very new market.

The books first began to show up as self-published phenomenons, including Colleen Hoover’s Slammed, self published in January of 2012. (I found it quite touching to read her blog from the beginning of the journey, starting with the first day of publication. Tammara Webber’s Easy (1,500 reviews), originally published May 25, 2012 and Jamie McGuire’s  Beautiful Disaster (3900 reviews) I couldn’t find the original pub date on that one, but it was in the same general time frame.

There are many more, many many many more, and some of the writers are young.  Emma Hart (Second Chance Summer) for example, is 20 years old and has published 10 books (along with raising two very small children!).  The books absolutely exploded, and New York took notice, signing all three of the above authors (plus many others!) to books that were published before the end of that year.

That means not even quite two full years.

The fact that these books were originally self-published has a great deal to do with their power.  [Read more…]


Rogue Novels

About a year ago, we hired a company to clean our carpets.

The gentleman who arrived at our door looked like someone who would be, perhaps, even better suited to perform at a bachelorette party.

But Therefore I opened the door wide for him and spent the next few hours pretending to write as he cleaned my carpets.

When he finished, and I handed him my Visa, he smiled. “You know, Mrs. Callender, cleaning carpets is just my day job.”

“Oh?” Suddenly I felt uncomfortable.

He reached for his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and slipped a business card into my hand. “I’m a writer. And an actor.”

“Ah,” I said. “Got it.”

“This card is for my new movie . . . check it out if you want.”

I read the card aloud. “Rogue Saints: The greatest church, diamond heist, romance, comedy, drama, adventure you’ve ever seen.” I smiled. “Wow. All those things in one movie!”

When my husband got home that night, I held up the business card, moving it around as if tantalizing him with a treat. “Not sure you want to commit to just one genre?” I murmured, my voice sultry. “Try Rogue Saints: The greatest church, diamond heist, romance, comedy, drama, adventure you’ve ever seen.”

Who would fund a film that clearly had such major identity issues? Who would write a screenplay that was such a blatant, unapologetic salmagundi?

Well, my friends, the Mocker is now the Mocked as it seems I, too, have managed to write a genre-straddler of a novel. [Read more…]