Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mastering the Metaphor

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor – Aristotle

Metaphor Definition: A metaphor is a figure of speech containing an implied comparison, in which a word or phrase ordinarily and primarily used of one thing is applied to another.  A metaphor is distinct from, but related to a simile, which is also a comparison. The primary difference is that a simile uses the word like or as to compare two things, while a metaphor simply suggests that the dissimilar things are the same. 
When spot-on, well written metaphors and similes add a level of interest to words on a page. They make the character, action, or event become more alive, more real. Through comparison, writers are able to evoke a more visceral reaction from their readers and engage them on an emotional level – creating more powerful writing.
… he was thinking she was holding what was left of him in her little soap-weathered hands, blowing on him like tinder she was trying to keep alight.   – Robert ClarkMr. White’s Confession”
Outstanding metaphors and similes always catch my attention.  In fact, when I read one I particularly like, I’ll jot it down – in the hope that one day the ability to write suitable metaphors will somehow rub off on me. 
Then he rose, bobbing heavily, steadily upward, like wreckage surfacing on the sea…and shambled to the door, his body moving as if in two unsynchronized halves, a donkey cart with mismatched wheels. – Robert ClarkMr. White’s Confession”
For years, I have compiled a list of extraordinary metaphors and similes when I find them.  Most novels include a few skillfully executed comparisons, but never have I found so many well written comparisons as I discovered while reading “Mr. White’s Confession,” by Seattle author Robert Clark.  I underlined passages, scribbled in the margins and turned down page corner after page corner in an effort to return to his descriptive words – sometimes two or even three gems to a page.
Then the icebox clicked on with a sound like pigeons chortling and settled into a pulsing drone of rheumy, brittle metal.  – Robert ClarkMr. White’s Confession”
Mr. White’s Confession,” is a gritty tale of good and evil populated with sympathetic characters and suspenseful action.  The novel was awarded both the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award for Fiction and the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1999. 
Robert Clark has written a book that is instantly familiar and continually surprising, a meditation on memory, love, and loss wrapped in the wrinkled suit of a classic American genre.  James Lileks, Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Another brilliant metaphor, by the way.)
The story, set in 1939 St. Paul Minnesota, centers on the death of a beautiful dime-a-dance girl and the search for her killer by Police Lieutenant Wesley Horner, a lonely widower.  The chief suspect is Herbert White, a strange looking and peculiar-acting man who suffers from a type of amnesia and whose hobby is photographing beautiful women.  Horner’s case is compromised when a malevolent member of the police force sets out to frame Mr. White and threatens to expose Horner’s budding relationship with an under-aged girl. 
He pulled on his hat brim again, and the brim angled down in line with his long, fierce nose, his incredulous chin, the landslide of his face.  Smoke spumed from his nostrils like water from a sluice. – Robert ClarkMr. White’s Confession”
Perfectly placed, thoughtfully pertinent, and precisely written, Clark’s metaphors add depth to his descriptions of actions, characters, and emotions.  One after another drew me in, giving pause while pictures materialized in my mind.  I felt more like I was watching a movie than reading a book.    

I had met the strange Mr. White:
He sat, balding and rotund, on his stool, like an egg in an eggcup.
... White – who Wesley had told her was big as a shithouse and as weird as toadstools …  
 She could only see him … befuddled, blinking at the world like a mole with his first pair of glasses. 
A guy like White could be standing in the right place at the wrong time and have a murder charge fall onto his head like bird shit into his hair …
I had seen Carla Marie’s body:                    
In the violet dawn light of Saturday morning, her red hair was deep as blue neon, and her skin was silvery white, except at the bottom of her body, where the blood had settled and colored her scarlet and brown and copper green.
Nash knelt again and drew his finger over the crimson and lavender arc that ran around her neck. 

A garter stay, unsheathed from her stocking, luffed like a ship’s pennant and slapped her leg. 

I had felt Wesley’s pain:
That was rich, now that he was picking his brains up off the floor like pieces of broken mirror, a dumb cop with no more smarts than a cabbage.

But he saw it made absolutely no difference what he did, that causes and effects about which Wesley had no say-so had been laid down like ties and rails and he was on a runaway train highballing down them.
Wesley sat at his desk thinking these things, or rather letting them settle onto him like a coat he was accustomed to wear …

 Crafting great metaphors takes patience – but if you take the time, the impact you add to your writing will be worth your effort as you increase your ability to evoke images, sights and sounds that engage your reader on an emotional level.  Check out more details about the seven steps to writing a metaphor at

How to Write a Metaphor in 7 Steps

1.  Know what a metaphor is and study a few examples.

2.  Think imaginatively about what you're trying to describe. What characteristics does it have? What does it do? How does it make you feel? Does it have a smell or taste? Brainstorm – think outside the box.

3.  Free-associate.

4.  Decide what kind of mood you’d like to set.

5.  Run with it. Write a few sentences, a paragraph, or a page to see where your comparisons take you. 

6.  Read everything aloud.

7. Transform your comparisons into metaphors.

Below, I’ve included a few more of my favorite metaphors and similes from Clark’s masterful pen. I hope they inspire you to sprinkle a few more of them throughout your writing.
… and the cigarette pack lay on the oyster-tiled floor and even as they were leaving began to unknot itself with an imperceptible rustle of cellophane, green and writing like a rupturing cocoon.
The clock glowed Palmolive green on the nightstand, and once a minute, the big hand thunked ahead. 
… and the big radio with a fa├žade that looked like the society people’s Presbyterian church on Summit Avenue
… he pictured the waitress – that spinster Clara, the one whose brother lost a leg working in the Soo Line yards – coming by with her face screwed up like a sour, wrung-out washrag and saying, “Coffee for you and your daughter
Farrell leaned his insolent, stilt-skinny ass on Wesley’s desk.  “So?” he said.

The frost was settling into the road with the deepening nightfall, and the gravel rang like broken glass under their feet.

The first weeds and grasses were coming up amid the mud, thin and straggly like the wisps of a baby’s hair.
…the house was abrim with the smell of roast turkey, like butter folded into smoking gold.
Robert Clark Biography
(Condensed from
Seattle writer Robert Clark was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and did graduate study in Medieval Studies at the University of London.  Following a career as a freelance journalist and editor specializing in travel, food, and wine; he wrote his first book, “The Solace of Food: A Life of James Beard.”  His other non-fiction books include River of the West, a chronicle of the Columbia River, and My Grandfather’s House, a memoir that was named a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in biography.

Clark is the author of four novels: In the Deep Midwinter; Lives of the Artists; Love Among the Ruins, a double BookSense 76 pick in both hardcover and paper; and Mr. White’s Confession, which won the Edgar Award for Best Novel as well as the PNBA Award. It is currently in pre-production as a motion picture by James B. Harris, producer and collaborator of the late Stanley Kubrick.

Clark lives in Seattle with his wife, Caroline, and children, Tessa and Andrew. He teaches fiction and non-fiction writing at universities, conferences, and workshops. Most recently, he was a Guggenheim fellow and is currently working on a book of memoir/essays.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Joy of Prosody: Dissecting poems of successful poets

By Liz Mastin

Photo of Blue Heron by Patrick Balester
Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge, Virginia/North Carolina

In my columns, I very much enjoy sharing the many things I learn about writing good metrical poetry. I find studied metrical verse to be very rewarding. In fact, the more I study it, the more I love it. As poet laureate Richard Wilbur noted: “It is easier to gauge the quality of a metrical poem than (it is) a free verse poem, which is mainly subjective.” With metrical verse you ask yourself these kinds of questions: is the poem written correctly or not, according to the form? Has the poet spent time studying his craft?

Does the poet use appropriate number feet: five iambic pentameter feet per line for a sonnet, and correct number lines: fourteen lines to a sonnet, eight to a triolet, etc. Does he maintain the rhythm? Does he make use of the poetic tools? Does he use alliteration, assonance, consonance, inner rhyming, and enjambment? In what form is the poem written: is the poem a sonnet or a sestina? Is it blank verse or syllabic verse? Maybe it is a quatrain poem. Are the quatrains Sicilian or Italian?

Most famous poets have written metrical poetry. I thought it would be fun to dissect some good metrical poems of famous poets to see just how they did it!

Theodore Roethke according to Wikipedia, was an “American poet, who published several volumes of influential and critically successful verse. He is widely regarded as among the most accomplished and influential poets of his generation. His work is characterized by its introspection, rhythm and natural imagery.” A poem he wrote that you might recognize is “My Papa’s Waltz.” He wrote many excellent poems and here is just one of them. I thought this poem would make a good (relatively easy) poem from which one can learn.

The Heron
by Theodore Roethke

The heron stands in water where the swamp
Has deepened to the blackness of a pool,
Or balances with one leg on a hump
Of marshgrass heaped above a musk-rat hole.

He walks the shallows with such antic grace.
The great feet break the ridges of the sand,
The long eye notes the minnow’s hiding place.
His beak is quicker than a human hand.

He jerks a frog across his bony lip,
Then points his heavy bill above the wood.
The wide wings flap but once to lift him up.
A single ripple starts from where he stood.

We can dissect this poem to understand some of the mechanics of it, beginning with the line:

1.The he / 2. ron stands / 3. in wa / 4. ter where / 5. the swamp

Note how there are five iambic feet across the line? This is iambic pentameter. An iamb sound like this: da dum!  Pentameter means five strong stresses across the line.

There are four lines in each stanza. The rhyme scheme is abab. The first line in each stanza rhymes with the third line, and the second line in each stanza rhymes with the fourth line. When you have this particular rhyme scheme, it is a Sicilian quatrain. (Now an Italian quatrain is enveloped, with the rhyme scheme being abba.)

Roethke skillfully uses enjambments (when) he runs a thought from one line into the next. It is often more intriguing when rhyming words are not located the end of a “thought!”

The heron stands in water where the swamp    (swamp is enjambs with has, in the next line.)
Has deepened to the blackness of a pool,    (pool is enjambs with Or, in the next line)
Or balances with one leg on a hump    (hump is enjambs with Of, in the last line of this quatrain.)
Of marshgrass heaped above a muskrat hole.

Note: In the first stanza, Roethke made use of slant (or imperfect) rhyme by rhyming “swamp” with “hump” and rhyming “pool” with “hole.”

Now, one can look to see if the poet has made use of other poetic tools. Are there alliterations, internal rhyming, assonance, consonance etc. Metrical poetry is so intriguing and with some study, not difficult, but very rewarding.

Liz Mastin Bio
Liz Mastin is a poet who lives in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho during the summer and Bullhead CityArizona in winter. She thrives on the study of the great poets, their biographies, the schools of poetry to which they adhered, and the poetic conventions of the times in which they lived.

While she enjoys free verse as well as metrical poetry, her main interest lies in prosody. She notices that most of the enduring poems are those we can remember and recite. Liz enjoys poetry forms such as the sonnet, the sestina, the couplet, blank verse, simple quatrains, etc. and she hopes to see modern poets regain interest in studied metrical poetry.

Liz is currently putting together her first collection of poems which should be completed this winter. The poems are a mixture of metrical and free verse poems.  She wrote the following poem five years ago when she first moved to her winter home in Bullhead City, Arizona; an area which, she says, "gets a lot of wind that channels through the canyons of Lake Mohave."

I Love the Wind
by Liz Mastin

Like a child, I love the wind.
It hugs me all around, perchance;
It loves to dance and arm in arm
It sings to me of high romance.

This gust I feel upon me now,
This breeze that swirls about my knees
Has rummaged foreign lands I know 
To offer me its gypsy dreams.

It blows the sun into my pores
Then circles round my head and there
Makes sea shell sounds upon each ear
And sends to sailing all my hair!

Like a child, I love the wind.
It charms me when it’s blowing glance,
Whispers “time to take a chance!”
It sings to me of high romance. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Guest Post from G. T. Rees

G. T. Rees and son at Stevens Lake, Sawtooth Wilderness
Today I am pleased to share a guest post from writer, Gabe Rees. Rees' work has won multiple awards from the Idaho Writer’s League and been published in Idaho Magazine and Predator Xtreme. You can find his story, Killer GPS: A Conspiracy Theory, in the February issue of Idaho Magazine. His most recent story titled Silvers & Sleep Apnea will be published in Fish Alaska Magazine later this year. Rees is also working on a new novel that should be coming out this summer.

An avid hunter and fisherman, Gabe considers himself lucky to live in northern Idaho with his wife and two children, where he feels he’ll never run out of wild places to explore. He has been captivated by the outdoors and everything wild since his earliest memory and hopes to convey that joy to others through his humorous outdoor adventure stories.

Below, Rees shares some of his thoughts about writing, followed by his essay titled Not So Little Blue.

Join me in welcoming Gabe as a Writing North Idaho guest.


I attempted to get a bit more serious with my writing five years ago. I started out with no critique or writer’s group and wrote a young adult fantasy novel. I then proceeded to share my outstanding work with everyone I knew and was somewhat disappointed when I didn’t get the glowing praise I thought my baby was due. So what did I do? I wrote another one. I think the second novel was better, but in reality, they both stunk.

I don’t know about you, but both of my children were beautiful babies---I’m talking real children here. Now, I’ve seen a lot of ugly babies, but I’ve never met a parent that thought their baby was ugly. It’s kind of like that with writing. The difference being that you can work on your baby. You can take it from something that readers wrinkle up their noses at and make it into something adored and loved.

The big turning point for me was joining the Idaho Writer’s League. I know that people learn in different ways, but I have to actually work on a thing for a while. Practice, practice, and practice some more until I end up pretty good at whatever it is I’m doing. Either that, or lose interest, get frustrated and quit, etc. You get the idea. Besides, we can’t be good at everything and life is a process of deciding what you want to invest your time into, what you can just skim by on, and what you don’t want to mess with.

Putting in the time, practicing, and getting input from other writers, over time, made me into a passable writer. Eventually, I began having some success with outdoor-themed short stories that I put my own humorous stamp on. There are a lot of components that go into successful writing and if you want to write for an audience, pretty up that ugly baby. I would say that a support and feedback group like IWL is essential. Keep working at it, develop the ability to accept criticism, and you will become successful in your writing.

Not So Little Blue
 By G. T. Rees

I was about six, or so, when my dad brought home a baby great blue heron. I still remember my dad coming in through the front door shouting excitedly, “hey kids, look at what I’ve got.” My brother and I stared down into the cardboard box he set on the floor at a gangly, sharp-beaked, greyish fluffy thing. It looked up at us and let out a tremendous squawk for such a little body, sending my brother and me tumbling away in alarm.

It may not be PC now to bring home a wild animal but when I was a kid, there were no wildlife rescue centers. So, our house was often the unofficial wildlife rehabilitation center in our little town. This was not the first, or last, injured or abandoned animal that my dad – the forever amateur naturalist – brought home, but it was one of the more interesting ones.

A year or so before, my dad had taken up a new hobby- hang gliding. Not too far from where we lived, there were rolling hills along the edge of a great man-made lake that provided perfect conditions for a novice hang glider. My dad’s excursions were often large affairs that included the entire family and curious friends interested in learning the sport. Mostly, I remember the awkward crashes- that and sliding down the gentle grassy hills on sheets or cardboard. We must have been ahead of our time because even then we were recycling, using spent boxes from the grocery store for our fun. It’s probably not what recycling proponents had in mind, but we sure liked it.

One day, my dad was out hang gliding, without the entourage, and he saw a turkey vulture land on a heron nest and take off with a squirming chick. Fortunately for the chick, it was well fed and after a hundred-yards or so, the vulture fluttered towards the ground and dropped its heavy prey. My dad rushed over and retrieved the chick. The nest was high up an old snag, bare of branches for a good twenty feet up. There was no way to return the chick, and so he brought it home to us.

We fed the chick cat food and named it Blue. Original, I know, but what do you expect from a six and four year old. In no time at all, Blue was taller than me and began taking great delight in tormenting my brother and me. My brother and I shared a room in our small two bedroom house. We had to go down a long hallway (at least it seemed long at six) to get to the living room and kitchen. Right at the end of the hallway was a reclining chair and it was there that Blue always made his ambush. I would creep down the darkened hallway, trying to be as absolutely quiet as I could so that Blue wouldn’t hear. It never worked. Without fail, I would reach the end of the hallway and Blue would spring out from behind the chair, wings flapping, beak agape, squawking his head off. And without fail, I would scream in terror and surprise.

Blue never hurt us. I don’t think it was in his nature and he was actually quite a good playmate when he wasn’t bushwhacking us. He would follow us around the yard continuously and tolerate our attempts to teach him tricks, as long as there was a little cat food for bribery. Blue also served as quite a status symbol for me with my neighborhood friends. “Bet I’ve got a better pet than you,” I can still remember myself saying on many occasions.

That fall, Blue was fully grown with beautiful dusky-blue feathers and flying quite well. It was a sad day when my dad took Blue to some ponds a few miles from our home and let him loose there. A family we knew lived in a small cabin by one of the ponds and they told us for several years that Blue would come up to their porch every day and steal their cat’s food. I guess he never lost the taste.

My grandfather later got a job running our town’s small community water system, of which the ponds were part, and I spent many a day fishing for bluegill and small mouthed bass there. I always looked for Blue. I was fishing off the end of a little dock one day, I was probably eight, when a magnificent blue heron alighted on the shore, not twenty feet away from me. The bird cocked its head and squawked at me, then went about his business of hunting for small fish and frogs among the lily pads. I was sure it was Blue and I sat there for over an hour just watching the bird before it flew off over the trees.

I was a truly fortunate kid. I don’t know many kids who get to interact with nature on such an intimate level. Our society becomes ever more modernized and the natural world and its creatures become more a thing of story than actual life for most people. I can’t help but think how much better off most of us would be if we could sit quietly and just watch a great blue heron. There are some real lessons there; nature isn’t always pretty or nice, but it is always amazing, just like Blue.


For more information about Gabe, be sure and visit his website at


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The End: Leaving Your Reader

When I couldn’t sleep the other night I turned on the television and caught the last 30 minutes or so of the 1939 movie version of Victor Hugo’s novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with Maureen O’Hara and Charles Laughton. I have seen the movie many times over the years and have always loved the final words of Quasimodo at the end of the movie when he looks at the stone statues of Notre Dame surrounding him and says with tears in his eyes, “If only I could have been made of stone like thee.”

Even though those are Hollywood’s final words and not the final words in Hugo’s novel, it got me to thinking about the importance of the final sentences and paragraphs in books—that point at which the reader has completed your story and returns to her own world.

Here are the final sentences of Hugo’s novel in which, after Quasimodo’s mysterious disappearance, skeletons were discovered in a cavern:

The other, which held this one in a close embrace, was the skeleton of a man. It was noticed that his spinal column was crooked, his head seated on his shoulder blades, and that one leg was shorter than the other. Moreover, there was no fracture of the vertebrae at the nape of the neck, and it was evident that he had not been hanged. Hence, the man to whom it had belonged had come thither and had died there. When they tried to detach the skeleton which he held in his embrace, he fell to dust.

As writers we often talk about the importance of well-written first sentences in books, that those beginning words should draw the reader into the book and keep them reading. Less often do we talk about the importance of the last sentences.  Although I don’t recall where, I remember reading that the last word in a sentence should be the strongest word in that sentence, that the last sentence in a paragraph should be the strongest sentence in that paragraph, and that the last paragraph in a chapter should be the strongest paragraph in that chapter, and so on until the end of the book.

Whether a novel, memoir, short story, or article, we hope to leave the reader with a resolution, an idea, or a feeling of some sort. We may want to leave the reader with a twist that will get them anxious for the next book in the series, or a poignant, uplifting moment that will ring in the readers’ heads for days. Some closing sentences mirror the beginning paragraph of the story, others offer a metaphor for the story or character, or imply the theme of the entire work.

To remind us of the importance of endings and give us some creative food for thought, here are a few last sentences from books on my bookshelf.

     "An' they chased him 'n' never could catch him 'cause they didn't know what he looked like, an' Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things . . . Atticus, he was real nice . . ."
     His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me.
     "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."
     He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.

          Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known." 

          Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities 

Up the road, in his shack, the old man was sleeping again. He was still sleeping on his face and the boy was sitting by him watching him. The old man was dreaming about the lions.

          Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

 Stein has aged greatly of late. He feels it himself, and says often that he is "preparing to leave all this; preparing to leave . . . " while he waves his hand sadly at his butterflies. 

          Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.  

          F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby 

When the long winter nights come on and the wolves follow their meat into the lower valleys, he may be seen running at the head of the pack through the pale moonlight or glimmering borealis, leaping gigantic above his fellows, his great throat a-bellow as he sings a song of the younger world, which is the song of the pack.  

          Jack London, The Call of the Wild

 I stand on the deck with the Wireless Officer looking at the lights of America twinkling. He says, My God, that was a lovely night, Frank. Isn't this a great country altogether?

          Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes

While a good beginning gains your reader’s initial interest in your story, a good ending can make your story resonate in a reader’s memory long after the book is closed.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dress for the Climate and Warm Up to Your Readers: Tips for Self Publishers

These adorable Shetland ponies, standing on a cold, windswept shore in Scotland, were recently dressed in sweaters and photographed as part of an effort by Scotland’s tourism board to entice visitors to their country. What may prove to be an effective marketing campaign to tout Scotland’s organic knits and genteel farming communities, the idea of dressing for the climate applies to many areas, including writing and publishing.

The climate of writing and publishing has changed dramatically in the last few years, with more books being published today than ever. According to Bowker, traditional print book output grew six percent in 2011, and that publishing mainstay and largest genre, Fiction, turned around a multi-year decline with a 13 percent increase—a growth spurt driven almost exclusively by a strong self-publishing market. According to Kelly Gallagher, Vide-President of Bowker Market Research:

“Transformation of our industry has brought on a time of rich innovation in the publishing models we now have today. What was once relegated to the outskirts of our industry—and even took on demeaning names like ‘vanity press’ is now not only a viable alternative but what is driving the title growth of our industry today. From that standpoint, self-publishing is a true legitimate power to be reckoned with. Coupled with the explosive growth of e-books and digital content – these two forces are moving the industry in dramatic ways.” 

In other words, there is more competition than ever to get your work read and enjoyed by others. If you have contracted with a publisher and they own the print and electronic rights to your book, even if you give input, they will have the final say about how your book appears to readers. But if you are an independent self publisher and have retained your rights, you are the one in charge of catching the eye of your reader. And to do this, the same way you would want to dress up for a new job interview, you will want to take care to “dress up” your book to have its best possible chance in the current publishing climate.

You can’t put a sweater on your manuscript and click a cute photo (well, maybe you can), but you can focus on a few key elements to make your work as attractive as possible to potential readers.

Write a Compelling Story

This, of course, is the “biggie” and goes without saying, but many times when we think we have written the very best story we can write, there is still plenty of room for improvement. When you are ready, give your manuscript to a few trusted readers who you feel will give you clear, constructive feedback. Also, at some point, have a professional editor go through it to help you pin down the structure and conceptual soft spots. Find an editor that fits within your budget and use them to full advantage. Consider editing as a long-term investment in your book.

Formatting the Manuscript

For your print version, format your book as if it were formatted by the slickest New York Publishing house. Include a complete Table of Contents and front matter. Use headers and footers in the chapters and sections. Leave plenty of white space for the reader and use an easy to read typeface. Begin each chapter on its own odd-numbered page so that the beginnings are always facing the reader. A good way to decide on your format is to find a book that you feel has a layout you would like to see in your own book and use that as an example. Just about any format you find can be done using Microsoft Word.

For your ebook version, you won’t be able to use the headers, footers, and page numbers because ebooks consist of free-flowing text. But if you use photographs in your ebook, because of the now-prevalent color ereaders, always use color photographs in the ebook version if you have the choice. Also, a linked table of contents in your ebook makes it easy for the reader to maneuver back and forth through your book. Otherwise, it can seem cumbersome to the reader.

A well-formatted book creates a slick, professional look to your book, and caters to your reader. They will appreciate it, even if they don’t realize it. A poorly formatted book will likely be noticed by the reader.

Create an Enticing Book Title

One thing that can draw a reader to your book is the title. The title should relate in some way to your story, and hopefully, provide a hook for the potential reader/buyer. Make a list of titles you think may work for your book. Look at bestseller lists and try to think why those titles work. Try out titles on your friends and family to get their reaction. But in the end, your title must work for you, your book, and for the reader. Coming up with a good title that will entice your reader can be fun, and difficult.

Create a Pickable and Clickable Cover

The first thing a potential reader will notice about a book besides the title is the book’s cover. If they see it on a bookstore shelf, you want them to pick it up. If they see it on an online bookstore webpage, you want them to click on it. The cover gives the reader her first impression of the book, and as the author, you want it to be a positive impression.

If you are an independent self-publisher, you are in charge of your cover. You can do it yourself using design software, or if you are not inclined to tackle it yourself, there are many book cover designers you can find for reasonable prices with a little searching. Whichever way you go, create a cover for your book that entices the reader to reach for it, either by hand or by mouse.


Put together a promotion plan before your book is published and revise it as needed as you go. These days, it is easier to promote your book online by building yourself a platform that includes social media, websites and blogs, and promotional tools that are made available through online booksellers, such as Amazon’s free promotions, which will help with your book’s visibility and sales. Get into the habit of consistently promoting your work in some way. Try to do at least one thing a day that will help promote your work.

Even with consistent reading and research, it’s difficult to keep up with today’s fast-changing marketplace, but focusing on these key elements for your book, will help your book compete in its best light as the climate continues to change.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Historical Fiction, Timely Writ

Before writing a review of this book for, I asked myself this question: What should great historical fiction do? Given the fact that I am drawn to this challenge as a writer, the question is apt. It has always been my intention to bring back to life, an event, an era, and a moment in time. In order to accomplish this feat, I need to know and these aspects: the setting, the date, the place, the county, the town, the house, the kitchen and the back garden. Do the events of the past have any significance in the present? Was there a struggle? Did our heroine fight her way through it, delivering us to the comfortable time in which we now find ourselves? 

In The Last Runaway, Tracy Chevalier who many readers may know from Girl with a Pearl Earring, can take a bow as an author who can transport us all back to a particular time and place. She tells the the story of Honor Bright, a dignified Quaker woman who leaves England to accompany her sister to America. When yellow fever takes her sister's life, she is stranded, is alone and is traveling to a small community in Ohio. The first and most obvious question as to why she does not return home, has a simple explanation. Plagued with ghastly seasickness, she simply can not stomach the idea of another voyage. Marooned, her challenge is to find her place. As in all great stories involving a journey, memorable characters help her along the way. A milliner, a slave catcher and her sister's intended, are her first ports of call. However, the path is not smooth. Even though she is with fellow Quakers, she finds they are different. America, caught in the crossfire of the last days of slavery, is tense and guarded.  From the beginning, George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, set down the tenant that all people carry the same light of God within, and therefore, are not to be enslaved, owned, or sold. For Honor, this belief is a given, but in England they were not living with slaves in their midst. In Ohio, the recent passage of the Fugitive Slave Law means those who seek to aid escapees, face steep penalties.

As time goes on, Honor marries. Both her husband and his mother forbid Honor to use their farm as a link in the chain. She is in the grips of a moral dilemma. Her friendship with the milliner, means that she is caught up with the  underground railroad  from the moment she arrives in Ohio. Her beliefs and her conscience are tested. How far are we willing to go to right a wrong of which we are entirely certain? This is the central question.

Chevalier uses her considerable skill to put us in the time and place. England, she points out, is a land ordered by hedgerows, and settled for over one thousand years where houses built of stone sit on ample farms, giving it a delicious and pleasing air. In Ohio, Honor balks at the size and scope of the new territory; it looms large and terrifying in her mind. The diet she finds less varied, the eternal corn mush, tasteless, the climate, too cold and then too hot, the people more outspoken, and the needlework, less skilled. Yet she presses on with the inherent, gentle persistence that makes up her sensibility. Her new family are less than friendly and when she takes matters into her own hands, she is chastised. A baby is born, and in their frustration, they let her know that they will take the child from her and send her on her way. Conform, or be shunned and abandoned with no maternal rights; that is where she finds herself.

With the same skill that brought us right into a Vermeer, as in Girl with a Pearl Earring, Chevalier leads us to the harsh farms and small minded communities of nineteenth century America. A character who lives in our mind, one of  whom it can be said almost walks and breathes, is what makes Tracy Chevalier a remarkable author. Honor Bright is not a one dimensional heroine, just as the slave catcher Donovan is not an evil antagonist. Characters in this novel have painterly shades, as does the landscape and the culture. Certainly, the paradox of slavery and its long aftermath is a worthy subject for any American tale. In the capable hands of Tracy Chevalier, it is pieced together as remarkable quilt: rich, textured, varied, but composed of great design.

Of the millions enslaved in nineteenth century America, only thirty thousand escaped. One can only imagine that Lake Erie never looked more beautiful, as it loomed large before these brave souls, the watery passage from bondage to freedom


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love is All

If I were to pick one word from the vast lexicon we know as the English language, if I could choose one idea I hold in the greatest esteem, if the whole language were to be boiled down to the most powerful word I know, that word would be love.

In taking a look at the definition, the tradition and the boundaries of love, I found that all explanations are inadequate. I once pushed a moving car, a vehicle in which a man had his foot on the accelerator in reverse, yet I managed to shove it forward. Why? How? The man would have hit my three year old son whom he did not see. I told my children that I thought I knew all about love; I thought I knew the size, the scope and the borders of the territory, until I had them and discovered the maternal dimension.

From as far back as I can remember, I have believed in love. The hymn we used to sing at church as children, “Jesus loves me,” always carried a ring of truth. I knew of it in my home. I knew my Gramma loved me without question. I knew it from my dog as well. There was always a certainty.

As my dreamy childhood turned into the teen years, I poured over love comics and plotted and schemed as to how to stow away on a ship bound for Liverpool. I imagined that once I arrived on Paul McCartney's doorstep, he would take it from there. I had perhaps what can safely be described as the worst crush in the history of the world. My parent's feared for me. To this end, my mother sent me off to a girl's school, a strict establishment where I would wear a uniform, a tie, have order and discipline hammered into my head and be forbidden from wearing make-up. Veterans of Catholic schools know of what I speak, but this establishment had been drawn up on the English and Anglican model. Through my years there, marked by rebellion and me failing to distinguish myself, I found one beautiful form of escape. A movie theater near the school played Romeo and Juliet for years and years. When out of the clutches of my school, usually due to a forged note, and a ficticous dental appointment, I would hop the bus, buy a ticket, take a seat in the darkened theater. I would  live in Shakespeare's words and in Franco Zeffirelli's beautiful Verona.  If called upon, I daresay, I could recite whole passages from this masterpiece.

While I managed not to die for love, I had my ups and downs, until the fortuitous day when I walked into a ski lodge, in the town of Aspen, Colorado, and met my future husband. What an impossible and unlikely match it was too. I was from a different country, had a fledgling career in real estate, and yet I managed to throw it all away for a surfer from Southern California who had dropped out of college and was living as a ski bum at the time. He had virtually nothing to his name, and no immediate plans. Somehow we managed to find a way to be together and then marry. Thirty four years later, I still give thanks for my fate and for the day I walked into that lodge. Yes, I believe in love. For all the sorry, miserable failings of the human race, for all of our inhumanity to others, and all the suffering that exists in the world, we do have this one quality that we can point to with pride, as the very best part of us of all. It is love: resplendent, glorious, complete, immortal and ethereal love. What else do we really need?

Google has a great bordered statement regarding Valentine's Day, as it is the most oft' searched word. People ask this question: What day does it fall on? Lists of great films, great books, and great gift ideas are everywhere, but all pressure aside, what people seek is to love and be loved. While we drape ourselves in red, look for some way to celebrate the day, with chocolates and flowers, I, for one, bask in the simple words, "I love you." Happy Valentine's Day on the 14th.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reading a Manuscript

There are two manuscripts currently awaiting my attention. It is a distinct honor to be asked to read them and it is a task I approach with reverence. Most writers will guard their work quite zealously, until it is fully formed and ready to be released. If you are at this particular point in time, before the query letter is written, it is wise to ask a few good people to take a look and let you know what they think.

As a writer, you want to find common agreement. In my first attempt at a novel, I heard that my protagonist fell in love with a man she did not seem to like all that much when she first set eyes on him. While this is a common device in many love stories, I missed the mark in describing the man, in such a way as to allow the reader to see why she would eventually fall in love with him. In the end, the novel failed to get out into the world and ended up in my cupboard. The other day, a solution occurred to me on an afternoon walk in the woods.  I have no desire to dust off that story and fix it at this point; there are so many stories and too little time.  I did feel happy though, in the knowledge that a tricky piece of the puzzle had somehow fallen into place. Who knows? If I live to be ninety and still have my faculties, it may see the light of day yet. If not, it was part of my learning curve and not a total waste of time.

Certainly, a story is like a great enigma. Years ago, up at the lake, my family of origin decided to tackle one of those thousand piece puzzles, during a week of inclement weather. We were always an impatient bunch, but some of us found the process soothing. We started to square off the frame and get some sections going, until one day, we returned from a trip to town to see our father sitting at the card table with a pair of scissors! He was cutting a piece to fit. Aghast, we let out a collective protest while he insisted that the piece really was supposed to go there and that the manufacturer did not trim it correctly. Don't do this to either a puzzle, or a manuscript! Don't try to make something work because you stubbornly insist that your reader is wrong and you are right. If two readers say the same thing then you have to admit defeat and go back to the drawing board. A little humility is in order.

A writer needs to know if the story starts to lag at any given point. Picture, if you will, four people holding up a King size sheet. Where in your novel is the greatest dip? Do the four corners have to be lifted higher in order to keep it from sagging to the ground? Many times, a writer will get a response to a query. An agent, after reading the first three chapters, may ask for the full manuscript. The writer will send it off right away and then go through weeks of nail biting uncertainty. With a great thud, the manuscript lands back on the doorstep, having been returned. The excruciating task begins. The reason, obsessed over and discussed with friends, often does not yield an answer. The writing was good enough to get that  far, but was there a lag, a sag, or a droop, that made the agent toss it into the return pile? If so, its better to find out before sending it out and putting yourself through many frustrating attempts to get published.

A writer needs to know if they have gone off on a tangent, if they have written a passage aimed at the greater good of society, but not necessarily having anything to do with the story. Are they in any way proselytizing? They need to know if they have served the story, have kept a narrative arc, or if they have created a great muddle. If you are a writer who crafts your work by feeling your way through it, you must be prepared to hear that you have veered off from the direction the reader thought, or wanted, the story to take. We liked to be surprised, but not entirely surprised. Therefore, when you nail a story down, and you know what it is and what it looks like precisely, you can layer in some foreshadowing, so that the reader is prepared when the tale takes a turn. Was I forewarned when Lady Sybil, in Downton Abbey, died in childbirth? No, I was surprised. Was I too surprised? No. Lady Sybil was already on a perilous path. We knew she was, to some extent, doomed. That is how it works.

Characters become like our children, or our pets. Hearing someone say they did not like the protagonist can be a mighty blow. It need not be a death sentence though. Opinions will vary greatly as to the level of admiration, or dislike. What is more important to the writer, is that the character can be imagined, can be seen with the mind's eye. If so, then the writer has produced something, rather than nothing.

Lastly, good writing will always have a certain zing. If the readers come back and say that the work held their interest, that it was a fast and easy read, then you may heave a great sigh of relief, for that is the hardest part. The very best writing will always grab the reader and hold them tight. Stephen King likens his work to the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries. That is not a derogatory statement and accounts for his commercial success.

Was the writer tripped up anywhere? This is a great question. No reader should be thinking, wait, did I miss something? They shouldn't have to go back a few pages to try to figure out what is happening. Ask your reader if anything needs clarifying.

If you have a manuscript ready to go on its first voyage out of your clutches, then God Bless you. Take vitamins, eat well, rest, take long walks and do not lose faith in your idea, or yourself, whatever you do. If you receive a blow, look for common agreement. If it is just one opinion, try to make sense of it, but do not despair. Years ago, a song writer told me that when he writes the tune and words come to him, he feels good in his soul. He said that he sees God as the Creator and that when he creates, he makes the Creator happy. How I have clung to those words, lo these many years. It takes time, be patient and do not give up no matter what. If you feel in your heart that writing is what you were meant to do, then you must do it, without regard for the outcome. Many of us wrote with one foot rocking the cradle, or on our lunch hour at work, or in the wee hours before dawn. I sat with my laptop in the car at soccer games, while the other mothers paced up and down the sidelines, screaming. I wrote in the storage cupboard at work during lunch because I was in possession of the key and knew I would not be disturbed. I wrote while my kids did their homework, or when they jumped on the trampoline, placed strategically in front of my study window. Persistence pays. Do not let anyone tell you that it doesn't.

 Andy Warhol said, “Make art. Let others decide whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make more art.”

Friday, February 8, 2013

Photo's Inspire Storytelling (Part 2)

   For many of us, our first photo it taken    before we even  leave the hospital so proud parents can share a picture of their new little bundle of joy with grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and friends. From that day on, it seems picture taking is part of our life  - we have pictures of our 1st birthday, first day of school, first dance; Family pictures, travel photos, wedding pictures, and pictures with our pals.

   Edora Welty wrote, " A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away".  I agree. Not only does it keep a moment from running away, but they can also be a good tool for writers to help them develop character, description  and plot.

   As a quick exercise take a look at this picture

  Almost immediately we can determine  it is from a different era . The picture shows a young woman alone. She is carrying a valise, and seems to be dressed for travel. We wonder where she's going, or is she just arriving ?  If going, why is she  leaving? We might ask ourselves if she has family, what kind of background does she come from? By her stance, does she appear confident, or apprehensive ?  I see a  kindly woman with a good sense of humor, who likes to laugh -  generous and loving, she will enjoy learning about people and places  her whole life long.   (My Grandma Vera Williams Cooney - after she graduated Council Bluffs High School in 1916,  just arriving Woodbine, Iowa to attend Secretarial school)

   Or this photo


       What type of story might it tell ? The man is wearing a work uniform of some sort, there is a change guard  at his waist. In the background we can identify gasoline pumps dating back to the 1920's.  Is the man a drifter, a part time employee, just passing through town ? Or do we see a  hard worker, spending long hours pumping gas, a man of faith, devoted to his family ?   Perhaps he is the  owner of the station who recently signed an operating  agreement with Standard Oil    Company  of Indiana  on a cool spring day in March 1928, regarding commissions , and will become a familiar face, a man admired for his good deeds by   all in his community even after he retires  in the late 1960's.     (My Uncle Joe Norton taking a break from pumping gas at his station )

   Carrie Mumford, editor and website consultant living in Calgary, Alberta says  " since I discovered  my love of photos mixed with writing ,  I've been using photo search to help out when I get stuck. Photos can be especially useful if you're writing historical fiction since it's sometimes hard to imagine what something or someone might have looked like. Photos are also useful tools for writing about places you have never been before."

   "As I see it", says Mumford, "using photographs as writing prompts is an opportunity to 'run away' with the captured moments that Endora Welty speaks about. Take a captured moment in a photo and turn it into a story, or use it to help add depth to a story you're already working on. Perhaps the story will not end up like the photo at all but if it gets you writing , it will be well worth the effort!"

   For me, using old photos from family albums, like the two above, and these two pictured here

               ( My maternal grandmother Vivian [ far left], playing with   cousin Vera Marie (center) and dollies                                                                      
                      at their Aunt Mary's house - Council Bluffs, Iowa)

                            ( Strike a Pose. My paternal grandparents,
                                 Vera and Cecil Cooney before they were married)

     help motivate, and inspire me to write poetry and memoir; To tell the story of my ancestors , the ones I knew up close and personal, and loved very much,  and those who died long before I was on this earth. Each photo  reminds me there is a story behind the picture, one  filled with  hope and dreams, love and tears and laughter.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Les Miserables: Classic Literature to Movie Musical

    Several weeks ago, after I saw the musical, Les Miserables, I wrote  how much I enjoyed the movie on my  blog 2 lane highway  ( ) . I liked everything about it -   the story, the casting, the  costumes, choreography,  and musical score.

     In fact, I liked the movie so much it prompted me to download  Les Miserables , the novel onto my iPad so I could read Victor Hugo's tale of Jean Valjean again, something I haven't done since I was a freshman in high school , many, many years  ago when it   was one of the books required of students to read in  English  class.

    Prim and proper Dr. Juliet Szekler  looked like she had been teaching at Bell High School for a hundred years by the time I got there, and didn't put up with any nonsense from her students.  She was small, but mighty. To the day we graduated,  fellow classmate, Casey H. blamed me for his  getting a C in Freshman English. I sat in the desk  behind Casey that semester,  and according to him I was the one doing all the talking (probably true)  and secret note passing (yes! That, too) while he's the one who got the reprimand.   Hmm, but that's a story for a different time.  One other  thing I remember  about Dr. Szekler is how she  would take out a tissue from her handbag and wipe the handle before opening the door   so has not to touch the handle with her naked hand. Watching her do this,  many of us would look at each other and just roll our eyes, thinking it was the dumbest thing we ever saw.  Well, that was then. Wouldn't she be surprised to know I don't think  it so dumb  now,  as I do the same thing, trying to protect my aging  hands from germ laden  door handles!
     While her  lectures were dry,  Dr. Szekler  wanted students to leave her classroom with an expanded knowledge of  classic literature. I think some of us did.  We learned that Victor Hugo had a  strong literary personality and is associated with the Romantic Movement , perhaps more so than any other author of the 19th century, and not only was he a famed novelist (The Hunchback of Notre  Dame and Les Miserables), he   is also considered a great poet, especially in France.

     As with much of his writing, Hugo drew on his own life experience. According to biographers Hugo believed "Every man who writes , writes a book; this book is himself. Whether he knows it or not, whether he wishes it or not, it is true. From every body of work, whatever it may be, wretched or illustrious, there emerges a persona, that of the writer. It is his punishment, if he is petty; it is his reward, if he is great".  By all accounts Hugo was great. His stories tell the plight of the poor and downcast, contrasting evil over good,  always working for good to prevail, and social justice to win out.  Alphonse de Lamartine  (1790-1869) , French poet and historian says of Hugo, The public heard a soul without seeing it, and saw a man, instead of a book...He went straight to the heart; sighs were his echoes, tears were his applause." 

      But lets go  back to Les Miserables, the musical.  I can't help but wonder how Hugo might  feel  today about having his novel adapted to the stage, and movie theater  - to hear   lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, set to the  score  of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, wonderfully sung by Hugh Jackman, Ann Hathaway, and others. Not  only can  we  read  the story of Jean Valjean, Cossette and Javert, but  now we see them , and hear their voices as well.

      Would it seem his work was  co-opted , or would Hugo  view it has a collaboration between himself and other artists - the lyricist, composer, scriptwriter  that help keep  his writing alive and  introduce Jean Valjean in a new  way , to new generations of people ?

     There are other classic novels -   Phantom of the Opera (Gaston Lepoux), Man of La Mancha (Cervantes) Oliver (Charles Dickens) -  each have found success with  a larger audience when  adapted to the musical stage, giving fresh light to   stories already  immortalized, but also to   the people who wrote them.

** To read more about Victor Hugo visit
*** Note: "Les Miserables" received nominations (Academy Awards 2013) for picture, actor (Hugh Jackman), supporting actress (Anne Hathaway), production design, costumes, makeup and hairstyling, original song and sound mixing. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pictures Inspire Storytelling

    In the last several days  three pictures from my past have been  posted on Facebook , each resurrecting a  sweet memory  from  a time long ago, including the one I downloaded  yesterday  to celebrate my girlfriend, Susan's  63rd birthday. Susan and I have been friends since we were in first grade and  often walked home from school together. Susan attended Zion Lutheran on one corner street in Maywood, a quaint  bedroom community  in southeast Los Angeles, while I attended the Catholic school, St. Rose of Lima , on the opposite corner. After eight years at  parochial schools, we both found ourselves starting as Freshman  at Bell High, where our friendship  would deepen and grow stronger. The picture I posted on Facebook was taken in the summer of 1967  while we were visiting my dad  at his home in  St. Louis. Susan and I were 16 years old.  My little brother, Walt was with us.

    The reason I share about  these pictures  on a writing blog is to show how photos  can  help us as writers to recall special times, places and people in our lives. For instance, the picture I  posted on Facebook of my friend Susan and I brings to mind how her parents said she  could make the trip to St. Louis with me as long as she earned the money to pay for her expenses, and how  Susan and  I  came up with a brilliant idea -  to collect pop bottles  (in those years redeemable for cash) .  Both of us took a  grocery cart and walked up and down Gage Avenue - a busy street  in our hometown of Bell -  day after day for several weeks to   search for empty pop bottles, until our carts were filled.  Besides checking  out  the laundry mat, Arvo's Market, the shoe repair shop, Jim's Hair House ,  and Clingman's Hardware, we looked under bushes, parking lots and trash cans. We became  bottle scavengers  - experts in our field! No pop bottle was left for someone else to find. We claimed them all.   In the end,  Susan's cup , or should I say,  her  cart was overflowing, and   exceeded  in cash needed   for her to make the trip.

    There are other pictures I look at   from long ago,  like the one of  my brother, Walt and  his  girlfriend (at the time), Patty with my   husband, Gary,  and me. I  can almost hear our shared laughter when we would picnic in the park and camp at San Onofre. I think of our marathon  ping pong games and playing Monopoly.  Seeing those pictures help remind me of who we were, about our  hopes and dreams,  and from where  we  came, and who we are now.   My mother recently repeated  the old adage,   " A picture is worth a thousand words".  I don't know  about a thousand words, but  as  writers,  I do know  if we can see  those pictures  perfectly, through a clean, clear lens we will find  a story to tell.

    Whether you're writing a  story of fiction, poetry or memoir, I encourage you to look at pictures from your   past to remind you of people, places and things that help inspire  you to  write your  storytelling adventures.





Friday, February 1, 2013

New Adult...A Flash Genre or Here to Stay?

New Adult, NA, genre has rather quickly popped on the writing scene. It is a genre that is a follow on to Young Adult, YA, books. It is aimed at readers 18-25 years of age. This genre targets the young adult of college or post college age who is dealing with being on her own and facing the grown-up world head on. It is for the "should I get my own apartment instead of living in my parent's basement, and shouldn't I find more than a temp job where I can use my master's degree" individuals. The Devil Wears Prada, although written as a thinly disguised assault on a real life obnoxious boss, would be an example of a NA book.

The New Adult category started with epublishing by authors like Cora McCarmack and her Jessica Darling series, by Megan McCafferty and by Tammara Weber. The following books are available for free download by searching for the author + epub.

NA is aimed at adults with more insight than teens. The targeted audience is focused on what part they will play in the future. They realize that decisions they make will have an impact on their lives as well as on the lives of others. YA fiction is based on that group, ages 12-17, who live in the immediate without too much thought for the future. These books do not contain sex. Case in point for YA books is Little Women, Swiss Family Robinson  and The Outsiders. 

Think of NA as the Downton Abbey of our times. One hundred years ago Edith, Matthew, Anna, Thomas, Sybil and Mary dealt with these same issues that 18-26 years old of today have. The plot lines for these Edwardian characters are New Adult themes....marriage and its responsibilities, joys and challenges; life's sorrows; sex; what to do with their lives and how what they do impacts others. The Twilight series, Hunger Games and Beautiful Creatures, all deal with slightly older characters and more mature story lines so they might be considered NA.

This new genre is also touching Christian Fiction by writing about Christians' ways of focusing on transition. These books explore young adults, believers of God, who are now in positions to make life driving decisions and what their impact on the world might be. Publishers of Christian fiction are clamoring for CFNA--Christian fiction new adult themed books.

The term New Adult was coined by St. Martin's Press in 2007. By 2009, it had caught on quickly with authors. E-books have been the driving force for this genre. Many ebooks are available for free downloads by searching for "new adult epub" using your preferred search engine.

Do you think this is a genre that will last? Judy Blume answered some of the questions about adult subjects for some of us, Peyton Place, East of Eden and Forever Amber for others. The times and mores have changed in fifty years. Critics think that immature teens will read NA books with situations too advanced for them to comprehend appropriately. They moan that the adult themes will contaminate young minds because these themes contain sex. Others realize that another money market fills not only a needed literary slot and but also their coffers. There are always spill over readers of all ages and genres; that is not something authors can or want to control. Control of what children read is for parents. The Harry Potter series started children and many adults of all ages reading and liking it. Possibly this genre of New Adult will do the same for people of the young adult age. What is your opinion?