Saturday 31 March 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

First off, thanks to the lovely Lora Palmer for tagging me with this. This is the first award of any kind that I have been considered for, so I am both flattered and very much thrilled to accept it.

Now, I am supposed to accept this by posting 7 random things about myself and paying it forward to 15 other bloggers. Sadly, I've only been blogging for about 4 months now, and alas, I do not know up to 15 (eligible) bloggers. But I'll see what I can do.

Random Facts:
1. I haven't been to the beach in 15 years, even though Lagos is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
2. My favorite Transformer was (and still is) Bumblebee.
3. We've always owned a dog since the day I was born; my present dog is named "dog."
4. I used to have this uber crush on Hayley Williams (lead singer of Paramore). There. I said it.
5. I only bought an Xbox 360 so I could play GTA IV.
6. I think I have seen The Matrix at least a hundred times now (saw it again about a week ago).
7. I still want to be like Chuck Norris when I grow up.

My Nominees:
1. Sarah Pearson
2. Adewale Abati
3. Peaches Ledwidge
4. Veronica and Thomas
5. Sarah Allen

So here are the rules for accepting this
1. Create a post for the Versatile BloggerAward.
2. In the same post, thank the blogger who gave you the award and put a link back to their blog.
3. Nominate 15 other people for this award and let them know.
4. Post seven random things about yourself.
5. Include these rules in your post.

That's about it. So good luck and thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

The Implications of the Pottermore Shop for Writers of Middle Grade

Yesterday, the internet was set abuzz with the opening of the Pottermore Shop. For the first time since the publication of the Harry Potter books, readers can now (legally) obtain all 7 in ebook format. This is a monumental development for two main reasons.

First off, with the ongoing ebook revolution already in full swing, more and more people are turning to their mobile phones, tablet computers and dedicated ereaders to enjoy the works of their favorite authors. These are all devices that readily appeal to a teenage (and even preteen) demographic.

Secondly, having a literary juggernaut like the Harry Potter series in ebook format on webstores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble can only mean good things for all current and future writers of Middle Grade fiction (like yours truly).

Middle Grade fiction are books written for kids ages 8-12. Examples include the likes of Charlotte's Web, The Bridge of Terabithia, Nim's Island and of course the Harry Potter books. And of all the genres out there, Middle Grade has been the one with the lowest rate of ebook reader adoption, with romance being the obvious forerunner.

The reason for this is that unlike other genres, where the buyer is typically the reader, MG books are normally bought for kids by their parents. In other words, writers of such books must not only write books that appeal to their target audience, but their parents as well. A tall order if you ask me. So either of two things tend to happen at the end of the day. Either the book resonates with the parent (the buyer), but doesn't connect with the child (the reader), or the book offers precisely what the child (the reader) would like to read, but is deemed inappropriate by the parent (the buyer).

This problem is even more pronounced in the realm of ebooks and webstores than in traditional bookstores. The average parent wouldn't be willing to hand over their credit card to their twelve year old so that he or she may go shopping on Amazon. But they might probably hand them a few dollars so they could grab a copy of the latest Goosebumps or Animorphs (or whatever it is that kids read nowadays) from Walmart.

So what does any of this have to do with the Pottermore Shop you ask? Everthing! But most importantly, a whole new generation of kids would be getting their first taste of Harry Potter through Pottermore. And do you know the first thing they'd want to do once they realize just how wonderful the reading experience can be? The same thing we did all those years ago: pester their parents (or whoever) for more books of similar ilk.

All this could be wishful thinking on my part. But I really feel this is a good time to have an MG series in the pipeline. Only time would tell though.

P.S: I am an advocate of not judging a book by its cover, but boy do the new Harry Potter covers look fairly horrendous.

Friday 23 March 2012

Let The Games Begin!

In the spirit of The Hunger Games hitting cinemas around the world today, I have decided to do a little commemoration. I only recently became a fan of the books, and had been meaning to post reviews of all three. But alas I have been busy writing three books of my own. Now, more than ever, seems like a great time to revisit our love of the two tributes from District 12 and their perpetually inebriated trainer.

Already billed as being the next big movie franchise following the success of the Harry Potter series and the Twilight saga, the makers of The Hunger Games movie adaptations have some very big shoes to fill. The problem with movie adaptations of this magnitude is that so many things could go wrong. I don't think I need to remind us what happened with Percy Jackson; even the presence of A-list cast members like Pierce Brosnan and Uma Thurman couldn't save that movie from its shoddy screenplay.

But we need to remember that even the earlier Harry Potter adaptations, while faithful to the books, were considered borderline substandard by many. And that the Twilight movies in general have been regular contenders for the Golden Rasberry (Razzie) Awards. In other words, I have already lowered my expectations and accepted that the movies might never come close to delivering the same level of thrill as the books. Even Harry Potter floundered on that front up until the very last one, where they decided to split the story into two movies.

There has been much comparison between Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games. Most of this is based on target audience and (projected) level of success. But the only real thing they have in common is the presence of two male leads and a single female lead. And with Harry Potter, the focus was more on the friendship between the three than on a conflict of love interests.

Let me just say this now. I absolutely despise love triangles. I feel they have been overdone in the realm of books and movies, and that in real life, they never play out in anyone's favor. That is, the person at the center of the triangle tends to lose both love interests. But at least the love triangle in The Hunger Games had a more realistic resolution. Unlike in Twilight, where they had to resort to fantastical concepts to resolve the conflict in a meaningful way.

Obviously, what drew me to the series was not the possibility of romance, but the concept of a televised (reality-TV-styled) event where 24 contestants must engage in mortal combat until there is only one left standing. Admittedly, this is a concept that has been done times without number. But hardly has it been executed in the context of children living in a dystopian future (aged 12-18). The only other book I know of was Battle Royale, a book I now find myself quite eager to read.

Despite being well aware of the premise behind The Hunger Games, I was still shocked by the things that went down in the Arena. I am quite eager to see how they transcend onto the big screen. I want to see Katniss almost getting stung to death by Tracker Jackers. And the horrific hallucinations that were to follow afterwards. And the Mutts. I especially want to see the Mutts. Hopefully, none of these things would get dumbed down and the movie would wear its PG-13 rating proudly upon its sleeves.

What about you? What are you most eager to see?

Wednesday 21 March 2012

"It aint over until the fat lady sings!"

And no, this is not a post about Adele and her fabulous singing abilities. But rather a rant about nothing in particular. To those of you who feel they have been misled, I say "Goodbye and thanks for stopping by." To the rest of you who have an idle minute or two to kill, I say "Step right in. I mean, what's the worst that could happen, right?"

It is no news that I am a storyteller. And if it was, then at least now you know. I have been writing for almost 14 years now, with no plan of stopping anytime soon. I do this not because I am hungry for fame and fortune. But for the mere love of the art. There's nothing like that feeling you get right after penning a good book, a great scene, or even a single line of memorable dialog.

The problem is I am not a particularly fast writer. And this is a problem I have been working hard on rectifying. While my ideas might come in steady torrents, the actual writing process for me feels like waiting to collect water from an old, rusty tap. Sometimes the words might come in short bursts. Other times they come in a slow trickle. The key is having my bucket in place at all times. But it sure would be nice to get those darn pipes unclogged in the first place, you know.

I seriously envy writers like Amanda Hocking who brag about writing full length novels in weeks, sometimes even days. My previous series, Neuro, came in at 100,000 words, and it took me almost 2 years to write. Granted, I also had to juggle between school, work and a number of other personal projects. Still, it would be nice to drop off the radar for a few days or weeks and have a book completely drafted within that time.

The reason I am bringing all this up is because I am this close to penning my next book, Guardians and the Lost Paradise. But I've been laboring towards that finish line without much progress to show for it. In a way, this sort of mirrors the dilemma presently facing my main character. He is on a final journey/quest, one that seems almost unending. I guess that is why I am feeling that way too; my feelings at any given time tend to mirror that of my MCs. Is this normal? I mean, does that happen to you as well??

I am still determined to have my book fully drafted by the end of this month though. And when there is a will, there is surely a way.

P.S: If this post sounded a bit disjointed (if not completely pointless), then I must apologize. It is due to a rather funky mix of prescription drugs doing strange and wonderful things to my mind and body right now. Painkillers mostly.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Getting Back on Track

It's official. There is going to be no seventh book in my series, Guardians and the Lost Paradise. I have drafted a plot chart for the sixth book, The Other Side, which includes all the scenes and events I need to bring the saga (can I call it that?) to a close.

I am presently 6,000 words into the final book, and still hoping to tie a nice bow around the first draft by the end of the month. Thereafter, I plan on leaving it to cool off during the month of April, and hopefully start rewrites for the entire series by the month of May.

There are some really interesting publication goals I've got planned for these books/series. But I don't want to make an official announcement until those plans have been finalized. Just know that you'll be hearing a lot from me about these books throughout the second half of this year.

And there goes my brief update for the time being. Right. Time to get back to the business of the day.

Happy Writing everyone.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

The Final Stretch

Okay. I have a little confession to make. I haven't been very productive these last few days. I've spent most of my time lurking in the awesome Kindleboards Writer's Cafe. Last month, I managed to write 10,000 words in the first 5 days alone. This month, my present word count is a measly 220 words. And they weren't even my best 220 words either.

This downtime could easily be blamed on burnout from last month's writing challenge. But I know it's really laziness at work here. Me and laziness are well acquainted you see, so I know whenever he comes around and tries to put the muse to sleep. Do I have a remedy for any of this? No. Not really. But I also know that if I just keep at it, at whatever pace, I am bound to reach the finish line sooner or later.

The good news is I've been doing a bit of brainstorming during this downtime. With the way things are shaping up in my head, there might not be a book 7 after all. In other words, I might be closer to the end than I originally thought. The reason for this is that I believe a narrative should be as straight-to-the-point as possible. I am not a huge fan of stories padded out with extensive descriptions, flowery imagery or gratuitous dialog. My stories are usually limited to the bare necessities, hence why I feel that merging books 6 & 7 would help foster that approach whilst also making for a much tighter narrative.

So? What do you think? Should I stick to the original plan and draft 7 books? Or would merging books 6 & 7 into a single volume be just as swell? None of this is set in stone of course, so I'll keep you posted either way.