Monday, December 22, 2008

Cool technology? (In which I reveal my secret identity)

Okay, I admit it. Just like Clark Kent and Peter Parker and other extremely cool people, I have a hidden identity. Besides being mild mannered Janette Rallison YA author, I am also Sierra St. James, exotic romance writer. Not that any of my romances were exotic, just my persona as a romance writer is exotic.

I would regularly wear a boa and dangly rhinestone earings, and all of that other glamorous stuff romance writers wear. I would also swish my luxurious auburn curls around my shoulders and lower my lashes while speaking to wry, brooding men. (Okay, I am totally lying about that. I wrote those books in my pajamas and my husband only gets wry and brooding when I inform him that once again we're having cold cereal for dinner.)

Anyway, I haven't been Sierra since 2002, but one of my Sierra books, Time Riders--which is a science fiction LDS romance--is going to be picked up by Deseret Book and rereleased in 2010. (Wahoo! Wahoo!)

DB wanted me to make some changes and one of the things they asked was, "Will you be updating the technology in the book? With all the latest, greatest techno gadgets that materialize these days, are there things in the future setting that don't seem as cool now as they did when you originally worte the book?"

True, I wrote the book in 2001 so a lot has changed since then. When I wrote about a GPS-like device that not only steered cars to their destination, but had an electronic map that showed the destination and the car's progress, I had never seen or heard of a Garmin.

Here is a list of technology that I already have in the book:

1) the time machine (sort of)

2)cell-phone like communicators that can also track where people are (GPS will get us there quickly).

3)Voice activated computers

4)hologram recreational rooms.

5)crystals in their hands which work like credit cards (and also can be used to track them)

6)laser guns, of course! What would the future be without cool laser guns?

7) instead of cars they have community owned pod-like cars on rails that they call whenever they need to go someplace. When they're done with the car it sits there until someone else calls it. People program in their destinations, but because the cars move on rails, there are never car accidents. (I actually think this is a good idea--someone go out and invent this.)

8) I have added restaurant chairs that moniter and tell the diner what their weight, body fat, blood pressure, heart rate, etc are.

Do you guys have any other ideas of cool things you'd like to see in the future?

Let me know!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The other thing that bothers me about a lot of contemporary YA literature.

Okay, I get that the teen years are turbulent , emotional times, and that many teen girls are drawn to drama. I am embarrassed to admit that I, myself was that way as a teen. I even wrote ultra melodramatic (and bad) poetry that I unfortunately shared with a few of my boyfriends. Which is why I always tell budding writers to ABSOLUTELY NOT share your ultra melodramatic and bad poetry with your boyfriends (especially if it rhymes, or sort of rhymes . . . well, you know, assuming that you ignore a few syllable accents here and there).

Because if you actually ever do become a writer you will always be worried that should you get really famous your bad poetry will show up on ebay.

It just isn’t a situation you want to put yourself in.

But even when I was a melodramatic teenager often drowning in self pity and cynicism, I still liked to read cheerful books most of the time. I devoured romances and loved comedies. I did read Go Ask Alice, (Everyone read that book.) and probably a few other edgier books, but truly, if they had all been that way, I would have stopped reading after about the fifth book and never picked up another novel.

Which is why it worries me that all of the non-fantasy YA books I’ve read recently are excessively turbulent, dark, and angsty. I’ve read book after book and not only is the reading material depressing, I’m wondering if all teenagers have awful, horrible lives. Oh and as a corollary, I’ve also learned that guys are basically evil and untrustworthy. Girls aren’t much better—at least not if they are pretty.

I’ve compiled a list of situations that I’ve found in the last oh, about ten high selling YA contemporary books that I’ve read. You may set this to the tune: The Twelve Days of Christmas. (But I will not make you go through all twelve verses.)

On twelfth day of reading, I found in YA literature:
Ten cheating boyfriends/fathers
Five betraying friends
Four drug users
Three fatal car crashes
Three alcoholic, neglectful mothers
Two abusive boyfriends
Two overbearing violent fathers
Two date rapes
Two anorexics
Two undeserved slutty reputations
One unplanned pregnancy
And a suicide.

And mind you, this is the stuff that sells well. Probably better than my books. Which makes me wonder if I’m in completely the wrong genre. Maybe teenage girls just don’t want to read romantic comedies any more. Maybe kids who don’t want angst and edginess stopped reading long ago. Maybe they all just switched to other genres.

Fantasy readers still seem to like happy books. And yes I know there are dark and edgy fantasy novels too, but I imagine if you picked up ten random well selling fantasies they wouldn’t all be that way.

So yeah, I’m definitely thinking about making a full time jump to fantasy. My Fair Godmother was a super fun book to write and it’s already getting great reviews. I think I could be happy doing fantasy.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I currently have a couple of interviews at different sites up. You can check them out at YA Fresh


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Why you should buy a book

I’m going to interrupt my grumblings on the things I don’t like in certain YA books to give you an important message: buy a book. In fact, buy several.

Book publishing has always been an odd business due to the fact that stores are allowed, at the publisher’s expense, to return unsold books. For the sake of example, let’s say a bookstore has 1000 books that it’s paid 10 dollars for, and when they don’t sell, the bookstore returns them to the publisher. Not only does the publisher have to pay the bookstore 10,000 dollars, it also has to pay the shipping—let’s say 200 dollars.

And that’s what has happened a lot in the last couple of months as the bookstores have felt the effects of the recession. One editor’s blog I read said that several publishers saw all their profits from 2008 vanish in October due to returned books.

Now we’re hearing about lay-offs at the publishers and freezes on acquiring new manuscripts. Scary.

So if you’re looking for a gift for someone this holiday season, try a book, a gift card for a bookstore—or even better, one of my books (which as you know from my website, make readers instantly skinny and rich.)

And really, reading is way more fun than that pair of slippers, new tie, or DS game that is all about blowing things up.

Happy reading!