Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Blog tour: Writing into the Void – dyslexia in Young Adult fiction by Katie Scott

Today I have the privilege of welcoming Kate Scott, author of the contemporary YA novel, Counting to D.

Now for those of you who haven’t heard about this book yet, Counting to D is a novel that tackles a topic that’s very much underrepresented in YA fiction: dyslexia.

When I first heard about it, my curiosity was immediately piqued.

For one, I’ve never read a book that deals with dyslexia, and secondly, it strikes me that this book must have had an additional and challenging aspect to it – not only in terms of writing, but also in terms of the fact that, because it’s a topic that’s generally swept under the radar, not as many people would generally consider reading it.

Especially when they have nothing to compare it to.

In today’s guest post, and as part of the Counting to D blog tour, Kate chats to us about why she’s chosen to write about a protagonist who has a learning disability, the marketing value of book comparisons and what she hopes readers will take from it once they've read it.

As always, here’s some information about the book, followed by the post.
About Counting to D:
The kids at Sam’s school never knew if they should make fun of her for being too smart or too dumb. That’s what it means to be dyslexic, smart, and illiterate.

Sam is sick of it.

So when her mom gets a job in a faraway city, Sam decides not to tell anyone about her little illiteracy problem.

Without her paradox of a reputation, she falls in with a new group of highly competitive friends who call themselves the Brain Trust.

When she meets Nate, her charming valedictorian lab partner, she declares her new reality perfect.

But in order to keep it that way, she has to keep her learning disability a secret.

The books are stacked against her and so are the lies. Sam’s got to get the grades, get the guy, and get it straight—without being able to readers will take away from this book once they’ve read it.

Add it to your Goodreads TBR pile.

Over to Kate.

Writing into the Void – dyslexia in Young Adult fiction

Comparable titles (a.k.a. “comp titles”) are a must-have in the publishing world. Readers who enjoy books by Meg Cabot might also like books by Marni Bates, and people who love Sarah Dessen should read Huntley Fitzpatrick.

This strategy works great for book marketing professionals and readers alike, assuming they only want to read within a narrow genre.

Fiction in general—but contemporary young adult fiction in particular—is startlingly lacking in diversity.

Have you ever noticed how many YA books are set at posh boarding schools? VERY FEW American teens actually attend boarding schools, but you would never know that from reading YA fiction.

There is a need for more characters of color in kid lit. There is a need for more LGBTQ books. And there is also a need for more books featuring characters with learning disabilities and other alternative thinking styles.

Counting to D is my young adult novel about a dyslexic teenager. My largest motivating factor in writing this book was that I knew it was a story people weren’t telling.

There aren’t any comp titles to it, but there should be. Because people like Sam exist, and they deserve to have their stories told.

Right now, the closest comp titles for Counting to D are probably OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu and Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. They are both fabulous books that should be on everyone’s to-read list.

Neither of these books have a dyslexic main character, but they do feature main characters with OCD and Asperger’s Syndrome, respectively. In today’s remarkably non-diverse market, that is considered close enough.

I hope a few years from now, things will be different. I hope Counting to D won’t stay the YA book about dyslexia. I hope it is only the first of many.

But for now, I’m a little short on comp titles. I can’t easily market to readers who loved book XYZ, promising they’ll love mine, too. Book XYZ doesn’t exist.

I am writing into a void and hoping, somehow, that my words can carve out a place for themselves. I’ve read some very fun stories about pretentious teens at New England boarding schools, but as a reader, I’m ready for something new.

As a writer, I hope Counting to D can be that something new for at least a few readers. The world is filled with seven billion individuals, and our diversity is what makes life here on earth so interesting. It should be what makes our fiction interesting, too.

Thanks so much for joining me on the blog today, Kate.  

More about Kate:
Kate Scott lives in the suburbs outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband Warren. Kate was diagnosed with dyslexia as a young child but somehow managed to fall in love with stories anyway.

Counting to D is her first novel.

When Kate isn't writing, she enjoys listening to audiobooks, camping, and spending time with her friends and family.

Kate also spends a lot of time doing math and sciencey things and is a licensed professional engineer.

Where you can find her:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Author guest post (plus excerpt): Of Princes and Princesses in romantic fantasy fiction by AJ Nuest

Today’s guest post is a rather fitting one, given that it’s (to some) the most romantic day of the year.

While I certainly am a huge fan of romance, especially romance in fantasy fiction, I must confess that I’m not too big on Valentine’s Day myself. However, I’m not THAT against it that I’m not willing to feature a guest post from a lovely author about princes and princesses in romantic fantasy fiction.

And lovely author, AJ Nuest, author of a series of romantic fantasy reads - one of her recent releases being Rowena’s Key – was more than happy to oblige.

As always, I’ve included some more info of the book, followed by the guest post and excerpt below.  

About Rowena’s Key:
The key would unlock his future and the safety of his kingdom, but he never imagined the sorceress would unlock his heart.

Antiques restorer, Rowena Lindstrom, finds herself the owner of an ancestral armoire containing a hidden key and a magic mirror leading to another realm.

But the handsome warrior prince waiting on the other side is truly the final straw. This must be an elaborate joke, right?

As she struggles to discover the truth, Rowena learns Prince Caedmon Austiere needs the key to save his kingdom.

In the end, she cannot deny him anything. Including her heart.

Add it to your Goodreads TBR pile.

And now, over to AJ

For the love of princes and princesses in fantasy romance

Greetings fellow readers and bloggers! I was invited by the lovely Tammy to stop in today with a post about Prince and Princesses, Kings and Queens in Romantic Fantasy Fiction! Whoo Hoo! I totally love writing that line.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been enamored with the concept of a prince and princess falling in love.

I blame Disney—and their ever-present worldwide inundation of Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, etc. I was obsessed with the movies as a kid and this fascination followed me into adulthood.

(No matter how old I get, deep down I’m still that little girl who experiences a flutter of excitement in her belly the moment she hears another Disney Princess is about to hit the big screen.)

It was no surprise to me that as I started my career as an author, I chose romance as my genre of choice. Nor was I surprised by my recent foray into the world of fantasy romance. Simply put, I’m in love with falling in love—even more so when a swashbuckling, handsome young prince is involved. 

It wasn’t until recently, when Tammy asked why I thought the concept of Prince and Princesses had such a wide appeal, that I had to step back and really think about it. What is it, exactly, that draws so many folks to the genre of fantasy romance?

Some could argue the attraction lies in image of a tall, strapping young hero charging in to save the day.

And I’d have to agree.

There is definitely something to be said for an aptly timed rescue. However, I’m not really one for the shrinking princess who hides out in her tower for fear she might break a nail.

I like my heroines feisty. And a woman who isn’t afraid to save herself despite some dire circumstance appeals to the modern side of my personality.

Maybe the appeal holds somewhat more of a “royal” nature.

I gotta admit, falling for a man who may one day rule a country does have a nice ring to it. For starters, I’d never have to wash another load of laundry or cook another meal. I could sit near the fire and get room service with the snap of my fingers.

However, I also like an element of adventure and danger with my romance, and the idea of a heroine who refuses to get her hands dirty makes me cringe. No snobs here, thank you very much.

We all put our pants on one leg at a time.

Admittedly, I have a “thing” for tortured heroes. Perhaps therein lies my attraction.

A lot of princes are conveyed as reluctant heroes—you know, the guy who doesn’t really want to be a prince because he finds the rules too confining or his role in the kingdom too burdensome?

But there, again, I prefer a strong hero who isn’t about to take orders from anyone…especially as far as his future is concerned. Give ╩╝em to me virile, determined and steadfast in their pursuits. No namby-pamby heroes here.

So what is it that I love? I deliberated the issue for quite a few hours before it finally hit me.

As a purveyor of fantasy romance, I expend vast amounts of time staring at words on the page…or rather the computer screen…so, for me, my love for this genre is all about the prose.

And, more specifically, the dialogue. Ahhh…

There is just something about the way a prince speaks, the dialect, the romantic pentameter of his voice. It makes me swoon like that first upside-down, feet aimed the sky, swing on a swing set.

Give a man the ability to whisper sweet nothings in my ear and I am putty in your hands.

Case in point, an excerpt from Rowena’s Key, Book I, The Golden Key Chronicles:

He studied the pensive shifting of her eyes. She was, in some ways, less… and, in others, far beyond what he’d expected.

A sorceress, yes, and yet she was more an innocent than the conniving witch Fandorn had cautioned him against. An unwitting victim of these torturous circumstances, much like him.

He lifted a finger to the mirror and traced the edge of her jaw, so refined, like a piece of the finest china. Her lips curved in a gentle smile before she touched the glass, meeting his finger with the tip of hers.

The veil shimmered and hummed at the contact and, when he lifted his brows in surprise, an alluring blush of amazement crossed her face as well.

She opened her hand and placed her palm flush against the mirror. He followed suit and a shallow vibration pulsed up the length of his arm. Warmth flooded his skin.

“Do you feel that?” she whispered.

“Like Helios’ golden rays, full on my face.”

“The buzzing is almost metallic, and yet I can sense the pressure of your hand.”

Caedmon glanced away. He was one step nearer his goal. One breath closer to losing his heart. “The barrier between our worlds weakens.”

She quickly withdrew her hand and understanding flitted across her face, but her eyes remained shrouded in sadness and her shoulders lowered as if weighted by a heavy burden.

“Seems you were the right choice, after all.”

She shook her head, yawned and lay down along the span of a lace coverlet. When she tucked her hands under her pillows, the gentle waves of her hair spilled a pool of gold beneath the delicate frame of her face. “Caedmon, can I ask you a favor?”

He would obey her every command, and when she slept, he would stand guard over her to ensure she remained safe.

“You have but to ask, Sorceress.”

She smiled. “Please, call me Rowena. And now I want you to tell me everything you remember about your mother.”  

So what about you? What is your favorite thing about Prince and Princesses in fantasy romance?

More about AJ:

Multi-published, award winning author, AJ Nuest resides in a small farming community in NW Indiana.

A wife, mother and freelance editor, she shares her home with a variety of spoiled-rotten pets. She and the cat are currently vying for dictatorship.

Purchase Rowena’s Key:

Amazon Buy Link
Amazon UK Buy Link

Where you can find her:
Facebook Page 
Author FB Page 

Thanks for stopping by AJ!