When Innovation Runs Rampant

In the 2010s I’ve noticed a lot of trends.

Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

First up, the everything old is new again. From Magnum P.I. and McGuyver gettings facelifts to Target’s attempt at acid wash jeans and hi-tops it seems like the 80s have come home to roost. There are some things I’m still hoping make the big come back – come on scrunchies. But I’m okay with the past staying in the past.

Second, the bigger, badder everything. Starbucks has this going with their Witch’s Brew and Unicorn drinks. Then there’s the Chicken as taco shells, and the McDonald’s breakfast all day, every day. Being able to buy Egg McMuffins any time of day makes me an extremely happy.

Now, I bring into the downswing of things. When innovation starts getting a little crazy. Crazy as in, upside down Christmas Trees. It started with the Dress Form Christmas Trees and now it’s moved on. Seems a regular Christmas tree isn’t the thing. Reminds me when Aluminum Christmas Trees were all the craze… wait, that link shows you can still buy them.

Truthfully, trends will always come and go. Some are more appealing than others and some never seem to disappear (Pokemon still going strong). What are some trends you love? Ones you despise? One’s you regret trying?

Next month, plan on the greatest hits of National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) paired with pictures from either my Thanksgiving dinner or Black Friday shopping (we’ll see what I pull off).

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Romance and our Middle Grade

I’ve been dipping into other pools lately, and even though I still have no focused direction, I have lots of questions about what kids are reading now a days.

  1. who reads middle grade?
  2. who reads YA?
  3. What do kids want in a story?
  4. What makes a story compelling?

So, One at a time because I like how these questions have answers that also lead me into a deeper understanding of if this is something I want to do. Who would I be writing for? What is my target audience?

1. Who reads Middle Grade?  Word on the street is that 8-13 year olds are reading middle grade. That’s the standard, so to speak. And I imagine they are!! But I also remember reading a lot as a kid. When I pick up a MG book and it is about an 1/8 – 1/4 of an inch thick, I stop imagining it. Avid readers, at this age, are well beyond this story… A 5th grader is 10 or 11, and even my own kids had started in on Harry Potter by then. Okay…

2. Who reads YA?  This one is also broad, because we all know the twenty-something who loves YA. But technically, YAers are 14 – 20[ish]. I think the appeal of YA holds the readers into adulthood. [just an opinion, of course…maybe I need to do a poll!] I’ve never quite gotten into YA, so no matter what I discover about this genre, I can’t imagine writing it. However, is there an overlapping spot between MG and YA that I could squeeze a book into?

Overall, I feel like both of the labels are skewed and depend too much on the markets and namecallers to be valid. What do I mean by that? I mean people–kids, teens, young adults, and adults–are never going to be pigeonholed. So, what do we do? We balance between writing what we want to read and writing for the market. Selling the book is important if we want people to read it. And publishers want to know WHO is going to buy your book!!

3. What do kids want in a story?  This one is tricky. I know what I want in a story. I know what I wanted when I was in 3rd grade and reading trixie belden mysteries, when I was in 6th grade and reading Agatha Christie…and in 10th grade and reading Michael Phillips. Part of me hopes that kids still want a riveting story, characters who bring depth, and emotions that jump out from the page and make us feel. And something fun. I found a blog post answering the question “Can my middle grade book have politics?” Besides the fact that the answer is YES, I would question, why? I’m bored already and I haven’t even read the book. The matter of a book should be so ingrained in it, we don’t see it until we’re done and we step back and go…wow. For me this is where Christian Fiction goes wrong. There are a few good Christian fiction authors who can put a story on the page without slapping me with the dos and don’ts. [hey, Beth…you’re rambling now!] Ooops.

4. What makes a story compelling?  Nothing like asking a question that has a million answers!!! However, I’m going to wrap it up in one word, CONFLICT. Emotional, moral, relationship, external…no matter what you choose to highlight, there better be the idea that something better or worse is out there, waiting to ruin everything.

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

When Christmas is the New Fall Goal

Hi, all.  Jennifer here!

I can’t believe it’s fall already. But maybe I’m so surprised the year has been flying because I’ve been so busy with writing projects! Truth be told…I’m getting a little burned out.

Well. I’m trying to not let that happen. So I’ve created a new fall goal. 🙂

See, last December was terrible. Not TERRIBLE terrible, mind you. Just that I really didn’t get to enjoy Christmas like I normally do. I didn’t bake cookies and I watched maybe one Hallmark Christmas movie. (Yeah, I know. Really bad.)

So this year, my new fall goal is make sure I have ALL my writing projects completely done before December 1st. Then I’m going to take the entire month off and just ENJOY the holidays.

Sounds heavenly, yes?

Here are my plans:

  • I will make my normal 8 different kinds of Christmas cookies
  • I will make a gingerbread house (from scratch!)
  • I will host a girls Christmas get-together/cookie swap
  • I will watch EVERY NEW HALLMARK CHRISTMAS movie made
  • I will read Christmas books
  • I will spend most of my days in yoga pants and try not to eat all the cookies I make
  • Oh, and I will research on Pinterest and make really creative food gifts to give away

That there is motivation! (For me)

I can’t wait!

Have you thought about Christmas yet? Have you made any fall goals for yourself?

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

  • Our LATEST Buzz!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series were released in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous was released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, A PROPOSAL & PUMPKIN PIE is on sale for .99 through Thanksgiving.