Posts Tagged With: Children’s literature

Guest Post: First Draft (Madhvi Ramani)

First Draft

Today’s guest post is from writer Madhvi Ramani

ninaWe all know that writing is re-writing, right? By the time my first children’s book Nina and the Travelling Spice Shed was accepted for publication, I had re-written it about fifty times. That’s not an exaggeration; it started out as a story called Charlie and Nina.

So I was pretty sure that my character arc made sense, the plot was tight, and that every word was in order when it went to the publisher’s – but then it came back, covered in notes, question marks, and suggested changes. It was like being back at first draft.

Here’s a key scene from my original manuscript, in which Nina is about to discover that the garden shed that her aunt stores spices in can magically transport you anywhere in the world, followed by the published version.

DRAFT

Chapter Three

Nina walked through Aunt Nishi’s unkempt garden, towards the shed. It was old and crooked and almost completely camouflaged by the tall grass and weeds that surrounded it. Once again, she thought how strange it was that such a ramshackle construction should be paired with such a perfect little key.

When Nina arrived at the shed, she leant forward to unlock the door with the key still hanging from her neck, and decided that Aunt Nishi must have given her the wrong key after all; it didn’t fit.  Nina fumbled around with it a bit more just to be sure, but just as she was ready to give up, the lock clicked open.

She pushed the heavy door open and as soon as she stepped inside, it shut behind her and a light came on automatically.  Along two sides of the shed were rows of shelves stacked with hundreds of glass jars filled with different coloured spices.  Nina spotted the one with yellow powder in it and picked it up, careful not to touch anything else.  When she got to the door, she balanced the jar in one hand with the help of her knee, and attempted to open the door with the other.  But the jar started to wobble and before Nina could get it under control, it fell and smashed.

The yellow powder flew in all directions.

FINAL VERSION

chapter three

Click image to enlarge

As you can see, not only does the published version look prettier – thanks to the wonderful illustrations provided by Erica-Jane Waters – but it reads better. The sentences are slicker, the build-up of tension is greater, details richer, sequence of events clearer, and, as a result, our empathy with the main character is increased.

I’m currently going through the editing process for my second book Nina and the Kung Fu Adventure, due out later this year, and unlike the first time around, I really appreciate the process because I know how valuable it can be!

Madhvi’s book Nina and the Travelling Spice Shed for children 7+ is out now. You can follow her on twitter @madhviramani.

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Unrelated link of the day:

15 Tips for Handling Writing Criticism

Unrelated video of the day:

The Ender’s Game trailer is out! View, enjoy, and be awed.

 

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Categories: Guest Post, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Writing Apocalypse Book of the Month!!! + Minor iUniverse Silliness

We’ll start with the exciting bit first. The lovely Ms. Tania L Ramos and the folks at Blackbird LSD run a website, which celebrates well-written books and the people who write them. Naturally, my book is nowhere to be found. Ha! Kidding, kidding. They were kind enough to slap Imminent Danger up on their site a few weeks ago, and to my delight, they’ve actually named it the Book of the Month for March 2013! Wooooo!

Another item of note, for anyone who lives in the vicinity of California: Blackbird LSD will be representing my book at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I will not be there in person, due to my living in the frozen wasteland that is southern Ontario, but they’ll have lots of Imminent Danger swag (bookmarks, stickers, books, etc.).

So if you’re in the LA area April 20-21, stop by booth 214 and claim your swag! Or, if you have a moral objection to the term ‘swag’, you can claim whatever you want — booty, plunder, spoils, etc. *insert pirate joke here*

In other news … some minor iUniverse silliness

I say “minor” because it isn’t a huge deal — more of a “Really, guys? Really?” 

You all know about my struggles to get my book listed under the correct genre, right? I would have thought that, at some point, a proactive iUniverse employee might have put a note on my file mentioning that the book is actually “Young Adult”, and not “Children’s Lit”, despite what the unfortunate book category might say otherwise.

This is apparently not the case. I’ve recently been corresponding with the iUniverse Publishing Programs Department, who are going to get my book into Chapters for 8 weeks as per the publishing package I purchased. So the lady I was talking to whipped up a “sell sheet”, which basically has all the relevant information about Imminent Danger that she’ll send out to the local Chapters store in my area. Here’s a screencap of the top of the sheet she sent me for approval:

sellsheetTime to play Spot the errors!

1. “Children’s” should be Young Adult or Teen.

2. “Juvenile” should be Young Adult or Teen.

3. Romance is fine, but Sci-Fi should really be first. Also, who ever heard of a romance book for children? Is that a thing?

4. Fantasy is just wrong — maybe stick Romance here instead?

On the plus side, they definitely got “Fiction” right. Three cheers for iUniverse! I shall inform them today of their amusingly incorrect first attempt, and advise them on how to actually make it accurate on their second go.

Update: The iUniverse lady was very prompt and professional, and said there was no problem changing the genre to Fiction / Teen / Sci-fi / Romance. So points to iUniverse for fixing this problem ASAP!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

I want to live here …

Categories: iUniverse, My Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

My latest attempt to get iUniverse to file my book under the correct genre

You guys are in for a treat, because I have an extra special iUniverse story to share with you today.

As you may already know, my book, Imminent Danger, is having some issues with being filed under the correct genre. If you pop over to Amazon.com and look up my book, you’ll find that the Kindle version is listed under the following categories:

Books > Children’s Books

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Children’s Fiction

This is, obviously, incorrect. Imminent Danger is Young Adult, or Teen. It is not a children’s book. Take one look at the cover and that becomes glaringly obvious. So … what to do?

Back in January, I contacted iUniverse and asked them to fix this problem. They said they would request that Amazon change the genre listing. Fair enough. But over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that other sites also filed the book incorrectly. So I called iUniverse yesterday about the issue, and today they sent me their complete list of book categories and told me to pick the categories I wanted my book listed under. One problem: these are the same categories they sent me back in November, when my iUniverse rep told me that I had to list the book as Juvenile Fiction because a Teen category didn’t exist. According to my rep, online retailers like Amazon would then list the book as Teen. Clearly, they didn’t. So when I got this email today which basically wanted me to repeat the exact same process I went through in November, I got a little irked.

So I called them. After chatting with a customer service lady for about 45 minutes and not getting anywhere, I asked to be transferred to her supervisor. He was a bit more helpful, and after another half hour or so, he promised he would send a request to Amazon and Barnes & Noble that they change my genre to YA / Sci-fi / Romance. Apparently he can’t contact other online retailers (like Chapters.Indigo.ca) directly, and I didn’t understand his reasoning on that at all, but he did say that once the genre listing changes on Amazon and B&N, other online retailers should follow suit. I don’t believe that for one second, but I figure I should pick my battles.

Anyway. During this phone call, I also suggested to him (supervisor guy) that iUniverse add some sort of Teen book category to their book category list. He said it was a great idea, and that I should send an email with my suggestion. I had to ask him about four times who I should send the email to, which was an interesting exercise in patience and repetition, and he finally divulged that I should just send it to Customer Support, addressed to “iUniverse Management”. Vague, but okay. I’ll bite. Let’s see where this goes.

Here’s a copy of the letter I sent them. I think I hit the various points quite nicely, although I worry that I came off a bit patronizing, as I repeated my point many, many, many times. You can be the judge:

Dear iUniverse Management,

As per the suggestion of the iUniverse customer support supervisor I spoke with this morning on the phone, I would like to suggest that you add a new book category to your book category list. This book category would be called “Teen” — as in, similar to Juvenile Fiction, except intended specifically for a teenage audience. If you go on Amazon.com or similar websites, you will find that they have tens of thousands of Teen books, listed under a Teen category. In fact, one of the current best-selling series — Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer — is a Teen book. At the moment, iUniverse does not have a Teen category, which I believe is an oversight that should be corrected immediately.

I would like to share my personal struggle with this issue with you, so that you can understand why it’s necessary to create a Teen category. My novel, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, which I have recently published through iUniverse, is a Teen novel. It is about high school aged characters doing high school age-appropriate things — which includes consuming alcohol, using minor curse words, and having complicated romantic entanglements. These are elements which do not belong in a children’s story.  But because you do not have a Teen book category, I had to list it as Juvenile Fiction. My iUniverse rep assured me that when the book went up on sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, these third party sites would list it as Teen. They did not — and why would they? They listed it as Children’s Literature because the only information they received from iUniverse was that the book category was Juvenile Fiction — i.e., Children’s Literature. Amazon doesn’t have time to read through every book that is submitted to them to see if a Juvenile book should actually be Teen — the only thing they have to go on is what iUniverse tells them. And in this case, iUniverse told them it was a children’s book, which it is not.

Therefore, I propose that you add a Teen book category to your list of book categories. You will probably also want to add sub-genres to that, like Teen / Science Fiction, Teen / Supernatural, Teen / Romance, Teen / Fantasy, etc.

“Teen” is not a passing fad — this is a legitimate genre, as you will see if you go to virtually any online retailer. iUniverse is misrepresenting their authors by forcing them to submit books under the Juvenile Fiction category rather than a Teen category. We Teen authors are missing out on potential sales, because our target audience is people who read Teen books, and they won’t be able to easily find our books if they are listed in the Children’s Literature section. And I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of this, but missed sales for iUniverse authors means missed sales for iUniverse.

I hope you will consider my proposal. As the situation stands right now, I have very little motivation to self-publish another book through iUniverse, because I write Teen fiction, and the hassle of getting another of my books listed under its correct genre is not something I want to go through again.

Thank you for your time,

Michelle Proulx

Will my message ever get to elusive “Management”, whoever that is? It’s hard to say. I hope so. It’s beyond ridiculous that they don’t have a Teen book category, and it’s also beyond ridiculous that they apparently won’t even consider adding one unless they get the suggestion in an email from one of their authors.

Phew. It feels great to get all this off my chest. I can only handle so much silliness in one day.

Unrelated media of the day:

Unrelated video of the day:

Categories: iUniverse, My Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

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