Tuesday, November 29, 2011

COVER CRISIS - BOY OR GIRL?


I’m getting an amazing response to Johnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne – to the text, that is. To my surprise, there have been some mixed reactions to the cover.
Some loved it: “It’s noir,” you told me. “He’s looks mysterious and windswept."
Some of you found it intriguing: “If I had seen it in a bookstore I definitely would have picked it up and when I read the description I would have bought it.” But some just didn’t like it. One (very helpful) reviewer, who gave the book a very positive four-star review, said this: “The cover. I am not a fan. I would rather have seen Maddie running from the Tower in her beautiful dress.”

I’ve been doing some serious research on this. Most traditional romances have a couple on the front. More recently there has been a trend to show just the guy - often a handsome male model complete with man boobs.  Most teen romances show a girl in a pretty dress. The conventional advertising wisdom is that if you want to sell your book to young women it needs to have a picture of a young woman on the front. Does this hold true for YA fiction?

I need YOUR opinion. Should I put a girl or a boy on the cover of the next book? To give you a sneak preview of some of my ideas, here are a selection of shots from a photo shoot we did yesterday. The model’s name is Aleisha and she is eighteen (just like Maddie will be in Book Two). I’m thinking of isolating an image of her as a pensive bride and putting it on a dark moody background that will tell us a little more about the book. What do you think? Will it work?



Monday, November 14, 2011

Meet the Hero: Johnny De Vere

Name: Johnny De Vere
Occupation: Vampire, guardian of the River of Time
Born: 1462
Age: Twenty-one. Johnny's been twenty-one for a very long time. Johnny will be twenty-one forever.
Loves: Madeleine - though she betrayed him and left him for dead.
Hates: People telling him he will understand things better when he's older. 

Here's an extract from Johnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne. In this scene, Maddie has just gone through the door to the past for the first time, Johnny has come after her. They're spending their first awkward night together in a medieval inn in Billingsgate not far from the Tower of London.

   “You should drink your soup,” he says stiffly. “Before it goes cold.”
    “I’m not hungry.” But he passes the bowl to me, and I obediently sample the aromatic broth. “It’s good,” I say, sounding slightly surprised.
    Johnny scowls at me and paces over to the window again. He makes sure the shutter is fastened tight. I drink my soup but he doesn’t even touch his wine.
    I try to calm down. I use some of the water to wash my face, and dry it on the piece of old linen that the girl laid beside the bowl. I dither about taking off my shoes and generally find every excuse to delay getting into that bed with him.
    I take a few sips of the wine, and find that it tastes absolutely excellent – it is warm and spicy and reminds me of Christmas. I decide I’d better not have any more because I need to keep my wits about me. Johnny says he’ll protect me, yes. From anyone who comes to this room. But who’s going to protect me from him?
    I glance nervously up at him. He’s undoing his doublet, making quick work of a dozen or more little buttons down the front. He shucks it off in one easy movement and leaves it on the end of the bed. Underneath, he’s wearing a linen shirt, and he loosens the fastening at the neck. He places his belt and his dagger on the table. He’s a dangerous man, and I’m alone with him for the night. And yet, I am not afraid. His tenderness to me is revealed more and more, with every hour that I know him. He is unlike any man I have ever met, or will ever meet in my lifetime again.
He hesitates, fingers hovering on the strings that tie up his pants – I mean his hose.
He looks up at me. A blistering look that burns me, deep inside.
I am standing over by the table, wondering if now is the moment to snuff out the candles, though the last thing I want to do is extinguish the light. Not when it lights up such a beautiful, beautiful sight as Johnny in that open-neck shirt.
    “Sorry,” he says. “I am getting ahead of myself. Should I wait outside while you take off your gown?”
     “I… have nothing to change into.”
    “Sleep in your shift. Many women do.”
And you’d know about that would you? I’m tempted to ask, but I don’t.
    “I suppose I could,” I say reluctantly.
Suddenly he seems to see the real reason for my hesitation. “Look, Maddie. It’s just for one night. Stop looking at me like I’m a monster. I’m not going to seduce you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
    “You’re not?” “I am a gentleman, Maddie. You can rest assured of that.”
My face is scarlet, like his hose. I know that. “Okay.”
    I haul my dress up over my head, and he offers to take it downstairs so the servants can brush the mud off the hem. I agree to this and while he’s gone I rake my fingers through my hair, since I don’t have a comb. Then I hop into the bed. The stones have made the bed warm and cozy. The linen sheets are a little coarse compared with the poly-cotton sheets I’m used to but they are not uncomfortable. The scent of fresh hay and lavender is really rather nice. I snuggle down and rest my head on the pillow.
    In a moment or two he returns and snuffs out the candle, carefully. In the darkness he removes his hose. I turn over in bed so it doesn’t seem like I’m watching him.
    He slips into bed beside me. His body spoons with mine, and I feel his breath on my neck.
    He strokes back my hair and tells me that he’ll watch over me while I sleep. While I sleep! How can I possibly fall asleep, with him and his long muscular limbs brushing against me? His touch leaves me tingling like he’s conducting electricity into my whole body.
    So I just lie still and try to keep my breathing slow and steady while he whispers soothing words and strokes my hair.
    This is the sweetest, scariest experience I have ever had with a guy. I’m a virgin. I’ve never had a real boyfriend before.
     Is this strange, secretive man really my boyfriend?
    I don’t know. Only time will tell.




Monday, November 7, 2011

Giveaway on Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne by Cody Young

Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne

by Cody Young

Giveaway ends November 14, 2011.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why YA?


My new genre-of-choice is Young-adult fiction. I read it, I write it, I love it. 
 
Young-adult fiction is hot. Officially aimed at the 14 – 21 age group, it is finding an audience far beyond those narrow boundaries. Vast numbers of people over the age of twenty-one are reading teen fiction. New YA blogs appear every day. But Why? 

Some say it’s the style. The books are fast-paced, edgy and exciting. The dialogue moves the plot forward and the narrative is written in a conversational style with no literary pretensions.  In other words – it’s easy to read. You don’t have to struggle to extract the author’s meaning from the foggy thicket of their words. NB That doesn’t mean it’s easy to write! 

Others say people love YA because we’re all in love with the idea of being young. We can relive those heady days when everything was new through the youthful heroes and heroines of our favourite YA series. And maybe there’s something in that. There’s nothing quite like a FIRST first kiss, is there? But for me, the key to understanding the rising appeal of teen fiction is in the themes it deals with, including:

Stills from the trailer for American Smile by Cody Young
expressing sexuality,
challenging authority,
maintaining friendships,
keeping secrets,
making money,
dealing with prejudice,
righting wrongs in an unfair world,
swimming against the tide,
finding love and gaining other people’s respect.

And since lots of not-so-young people are dealing with that stuff too – there’s your answer. As many of my readers know, I started out writing historical fiction and only recently switched to writing YA. Why? I realised that even in my historical fiction I was trying to write YA. My protags are nearly always in their teens, they have angsty teenage problems, they have parents – sometimes bad parents – and they have an aching need to make their mark in the world. When I finally made the move to writing YA everything fell into place. Writing full-length novels suddenly became a whole lot easier, becuase this is where I belong. I see my own writing as Young-adult/New Adult – meaning fiction aimed at the older teens, twenties, and beyond. To see if you think I got it right – you’ll need to check out my latest release Johnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne. Available for 99 cents at Amazon and Smashwords. Also available in print at Amazon.com for $8.99.

A site I’ve found interesting lately is the YA Fantasy Guide over at http://www.yafantasyguide.com/fantasy-genres/paranormal.htm

Also, check out YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association – lots of good articles on trends in YA fiction I’ve just started following them on twitter.