Friday, January 30, 2015

New Book in the Works!

Hello lovely readers.

It's been almost a year since I've published a book, and it feels like forever. But, I have been working on something, and I'm finally ready to share a little bit about it with all of you. Unearthed After Sunset is a little different from my previous books. It's New Adult instead of YA, and it's told mostly through a male POV. But, if you've liked my previous books I think you will find my same voice and style in this one. Unearthed After Sunset will be the first book in the Cereus Vampire Chronicles and it's about one young man's journey to find his place in the world after becoming a vampire, and the girl not even death will let him forget.

Check out Unearthed After Sunset's Goodreads Page

Not the Actual Cover - Cover Reveal Soon!
Synopsis:

When Greg Erickson is killed by sultry and seductive vampire Lila, he wakes up cold and alone in a wooden box. After failing a college class, losing his job, and getting dumped by his girlfriend, Greg starts to think that maybe life as a vampire will be better than it was as a human. But, he quickly learns that being a vampire isn’t quite as fascinating as it is in the movies. There are no gothic mansions or vampire royalty, no fancy super powers; just a group of outsiders, excluded from society and forced to find their way in a world where they no longer belong.

Greg is thrust into a vampire turf war, unsure of exactly what he’s fighting for. And, while he finds freedom in being released from society’s expectations, he also finds challenges as he does what he must to survive. Greg discovers that it’s not easy to be human one day and hunting humans the next, and while his new vampire cohorts try to get him to accept his newfound existence there’s one girl from his human life he’s unable to forget.

Caroline Christensen lived a normal life once. Then her brother was killed by vampires and her family legacy as a vampire hunter was handed down to her. Refusing to completely give up her life Caroline spends her days doing normal things like hanging out with her friends or working her day job, but at night she hits the cemeteries and hunts the undead. She manages to find a balance between the two, until she meets a cute guy one night at the bar.

When Greg discovers Caroline’s secret she’s worried he’ll never talk to her again, but soon she finds out that he has a very different reason for not calling – he’s dead. Now Greg has become the thing Caroline is supposed to hunt, but can she bring herself to kill him?

Greg, however, isn't Caroline’s only concern. There’s something going on with the vampires. They’re fighting over something and she’s determined to find out what it is.  


Unearthed After Sunset will be published in Fall of 2015, but if you don't want to wait that long to read it, I am currently seeking Beta Readers. If you're interested in betaing, please e-mail me at LaurynApril@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Labeling Books: Are YA and NA Genres or Reading Levels?

Some consider YA and NA a genres, while others call them reading levels. The latter often leads to criticism of adults who read YA. So what exactly do the labels YA and NA mean?


Genre: If YA and NA are genres then they are reading categories. Horror, romance, science fiction, fantasy, ect... are all genres. Many libraries and book stores have separate sections for YA and NA novels, which would seem to support the idea that YA and NA are genres.

Reading Level: A reading level is a scale used to give information on how old a person needs to be to either comprehend the writing in a particular book or how old a person needs to be for the content of a particular book to be appropriate. Reading levels are like movie ratings, they help direct a particular audience to a book based on their age. Considering many YA books are written with young adults as the intended reader, this idea makes some sense.

However, as an avid reader and writer of both YA and NA novels I wonder if the labels YA and NA are neither a genre nor a reading level.

So, if YA and NA aren't genres or a reading levels then what are they?

Point of View: I think the best answer is that YA and NA are simply points of view. The type of story will determine the genre. For example a YA Paranormal Romance is a story in the Paranormal Romance genre told through a young adult's point of view. As for reading level, the content of the story will determine that. Because YA stories are told through the eyes of a young adult character many of them will be appropriate for a group of readers the same age as the protagonist. But, that doesn't mean you can't write a story appropriate for a younger or older audience with a main character who's in their teens.

So if YA and NA are points of view, does that mean anyone can read them? YES, but they are written for a particular audience. YA books are written for people who want to see the world through a teenager's perspective. Anyone, of any age can enjoy reading about a character who is dealing with coming of age problems, like falling in love for the first time. The same can be said for NA books. These books are written for people who want to read about a character dealing with the types of things one deals with in their twenties, like becoming independent.

So there you have it, those are my thoughts on what the labels YA and NA mean. What do you think?


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review for Captured by Erica Stevens

2 Stars. Lacking Plot and Personality.

I love stories about vampires and Captured had some new ideas that were interesting. I liked that this book had a dystopian feel to it. These characters lived in a world ruled by vampires with humans either living as servants, slaves or as a part of a rebel group in the woods. Also, Braith’s condition and why he was drawn to Aria were things I hadn’t seen before. However, when it came to the actual plot and characters of the book they just didn’t do anything for me. Honestly, this book didn’t feel like it had much of a plot at all, which it easily could have if the author hadn’t waited until the very end to introduce certain characters and facts.

The writing was wordy and there was a lot of telling. There were a number of scenes I wish I would have gotten the chance to see, like when Aria saves a young boy in the beginning of the book. It seemed liked an important moment, one that set the plot of the book in motion, and yet we’re only told about it. As the book continued I noticed less of its wordiness, but I continued to crave more description.

Aria herself had an interesting backstory, one that made her sound liked a strong female lead, however, she didn’t actually come off that way. Anything strong about Aria was left in her backstory and the things we see her doing make it feel like she’s suffering from Stockholm syndrome. The few strong moments we actually see her have were mostly just her being stubborn.

Braith on the other hand, had a little mystery to him, but it felt liked the most redeeming quality about him was that he was good looking. Sure he didn't kill Aria, but he also had a reason not to. And, we’re told that he treats her better than other vampires treat their slaves, but we never see how other slaves are treated so we really can’t compare. It felt like he manipulated her, and she gave him way too much credit for just about everything he did. By the end of the book I still couldn’t understand why Aria liked him at all, nor why we were supposed to believe that Braith actually had feelings for her. It just felt like they never really got to know one another, and yet there was supposedly some kind of bond growing between them? At the end we’re supposed to believe that she needs him and can’t be without him and I just didn’t understand why. She even said she’d rather risk dying to stay with him and have her family think she’s dead instead of just going home. For a girl whose family was her entire life, who spent a good while at the beginning of the book talking about her twin brother and hating not being near him, well this just made her sound completely brainwashed.

As for the other characters, we barely see Max and Jerico/Jack is introduced at the very end. Most of the story is just Aria locked in her room. It felt liked she spent a lot of time not really doing anything, and there wasn’t much of a plot. Also, there was a big twist where Jerico actually knows Aria, but it doesn’t really work since we’re only told about it at the very end. Jerico/Jack’s name isn’t even mentioned until he just shows up. If we had seen Aria and Jack interacting in the beginning of the book I would have liked this better, and honestly it should have happened sooner as it was the only real plot element the book had.

By the end of the book I felt like I was forcing myself to read the last twenty percent. I will not continue with this series.
 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How NOT to Write a Strong Female Character: 5 Tips

There are a lot of posts out there on how to write a strong female character, but for some reason it still seems like a hard thing for writers to do as I continue to stumble across books and movies with women who either have no real place in the story, or who's only purpose is to be a damsel in distress. On the flip-side there are a number of books out there that take being a strong female character to the extreme, putting forth characters who are more focused on being strong than being real people.

So, instead of writing a list of "do's" when it comes to writing a strong female character, I've written a list of "don'ts" that I think could be more helpful.



Things that DON'T make a female character strong

1. Giving her a strong background story - then leaving it as background. Giving your female character a deep and well written background showing a history of strength and independence is great, but it's meaningless if you only reference her strengths in the past and don't show her being strong in the present. I don't care if your character was raised by wolves or single handedly defeated an entire army of marauding beasts; if she's acting helpless in the present your reader won't believe she's strong. I've heard this called the "Trinity Syndrome", where, like Trinity in the Matrix a female character will have an awesome introductory scene; they save the male main character, they kick but, then once the hero is on his feet their role in the story is to be nothing more than the male hero's love interest. Even Bella from Twilight suffers from this. Many might just consider Bella a weak character all around, but she has a moment where she's talking about how she used to look after her "hair-brained mother" and shows strength in supporting her mother's decision to follow her new boyfriend to Florida, but then for the rest of the book Bella becomes the damsel in distress, constantly being saved by Edward.

2. Not giving her weaknesses - Yes, you want to write a strong female character, but you want her to be human, not a robot. Writing a strong female character is not the same as writing a "Mary Sue". She should have faults, weaknesses, problems. She should make mistakes, and she doesn't always have to win. It's how she handles the issues in her life, and how she grows from them, that will show her strength. Any character, female or male, who is always strong and never loses, is boring. Nancy Drew may be a strong, smart woman, but being a goody-two-shoes who excels at everything she does makes her boring. I also think Katsa from "Graceling" suffers from this problematic strong female character trope, she's strong - stronger than Po, her love interest, and manages to beat the unbeatable evil king. Even the few weaknesses she does have, like being incredibly stubborn, manage to benefit her in some way. Read more on my thoughts of "Graceling" here.

3. Not giving her anything to do - You can create a great female character who is strong and independent, but she has no purpose in your story if she doesn't somehow advance your plot . Don't throw in a strong female character just to have one, you have to give her something to do. This is like letting Wonder Woman join the Justice League and making her the secretary. Or, remember the movie version of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"? Lone female character Mina Harker, is an awesome reinterpretation of Bram Stoker's weak, victim Mina, however in the League book she was the leader of the gentlemen, but in the movie she felt like she'd been thrown in just to say "hey, we've got a girl!".

4. Letting her overshadow the lead - If your strong female character is your main character then no worries, but if she's a supporting character, don't forget that she's a supporting character. Supporting characters should help your main character resolve the plot's main problem, they shouldn't completely steal the spotlight. Rita Vrataski from "Edge of Tomorrow" is a great example of a strong female character who manages not to steal the spotlight. Also, Julie from Isaac Marion's "Warm Bodies" was an awesome character who moved the plot along and was a great counterpart to the lead R, but never stole the show herself. She worked with R to solve the book's problem.

5. Making her physically strong - and that's all she is. Having a female lead who's got muscles, or superpowers, or can make her way in a man's work is all well and good, unless that's all she is. A true strong female character does not have superficial strength. A woman who's tough as nails and can fight her way out of anything may be strong in some ways, but she's boring and paper-thin. Having a character with a deep backstory who's important to the plot is a stronger character than one who's got big muscles, but thinly written. Don't write a Lara Croft who comes off like a male main character with boobs and no real reason to explain why she doesn't feel like a real woman; write a Katniss Everdeen who's physical strength and skill are explained with backstory and any moments she lacks emotion are seen as a defense mechanism instead of her being a robot. Or, write a Hermione Granger who's strength is intellectual and rooted in her fierce loyalty to her friends.


All and all a strong female character is less about their strength and more about how they deal with their struggles.  

Maybe we should all stop focusing on writing a strong females and instead focus on writing a real female character who has both strengths and weaknesses. I don't want to see anymore characters who are completely weak like Bella Swan or Nora Grey from "Hush Hush", but I don't want to see characters that completely lack weakness like Katsa either. Lets focus on writing female characters who are important to and contribute to the story, and handle their problems in a believable way.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Giveaway! Enter to win Free Books.


Happy Holidays Everyone!

To celebrate this time of year I'm giving away some SIGNED copies of my books. Below are two separate giveaways you can enter, both for signed paperback copies. The first is a Goodreads giveaway for my most recent novel "A Different Kind". The second giveaway is a Rafflecopter to win both "Into the Deep" and it's sequel "Hidden Beneath.

Paranormal romance readers will love these inviting and fast paced reads.

About: "A Different Kind"
Payton's life is perfect – until the night she’s abducted by aliens. Being taken the first time will change her, but can she stop them from taking her again?

About: "Into the Deep" 
Ivy Daniels is just a normal high school junior, until a an accident gives her a unique ability. When Ivy starts hearing other people's thoughts she uncovers one student has a dangerous secret.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Different Kind by Lauryn April

A Different Kind

by Lauryn April

Giveaway ends December 24, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
a Rafflecopter giveaway