Exploring genre: Suspense

I write in a lot of genres, and while suspense isn’t one of them (yet!) I absolutely love to read it. 

So what do I think makes a good suspense read? Here are my top three tips:

  1. Having a fabulous twist. A strong twist that surprises the reader can turn a good suspense book into a great one. One of my favourite YA Suspense of recent-ish years is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart for this very reason! I finished the book very quickly, but was left thinking of that twist for weeks afterward.
    51RofZNoPjL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_
  2. Having a strong element of mystery. Sounds pretty basic, right? But sometimes the mystery in a plot can become too predictable, the answers all too obvious. One book I’ve read recently that does the opposite and left me absolutely hanging out to find out who did it was One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus. What an excellent read! I loved it so much and don’t know if I’ve ever been so desperate to turn a page.
    32887579
  3. Having strong characters. You can have the best mystery in the world, the most surprising twist, but if you don’t create characters that are believable, likeable, and endearing, no one will care what happens to them and your suspense will fall flatter than a sat-upon pancake. 

They’re just a few things I think are crucial to a good suspense read–what about you? 

lauren k mckellar_ms
Lauren K. McKellar is the author of romance reads that make you feel. You can say hi to her over on Facebook here.

So You Think You’re Funny? 3 Ways to Add Humour to Your Writing

Funny Girl

Image: Ryan McGuire via Gratisography

September is all about exploring genre on Aussie Owned and Read, so I stuck my hand up to look at humour. Okay, so technically humour isn’t a genre, rather more an element of style and voice which can be employed across any genre, but if you look at the genre categories in physical and online bookstores, there’s usually a humour section. So I’m sticking to my guns – or in this case, maybe water pistols.

I love reading fiction with a humorous voice, so it’s no surprise my own writing is sprinkled with good doses of humour (or so I’m told). Like most people, though, I can’t really pinpoint what makes someone else’s – or my own – writing funny. So I Googled! Don’t judge. You would have too! Why reinvent the wheel when somebody else’s wheels have come off so nicely for the sake of a laugh?

  1. Think Ks for Giggles

Words with sharp ‘k’ or ‘c’ sounds are apparently king when it comes to laughter mileage, and words with ‘g’ sounds aren’t far behind in the giggle stakes. Go figure. This phenomenon is widely known in comedy writer circles as the K Rule. Now you know why words like ‘discombobulated’ or ‘gargoyle’ and ‘goggles’ make you smile. Put them all together – a discombobulated gargoyle wearing goggles – and you’ll have readers rolling between the pages! Okay, moving on.

2. Go NUTS on the Metaphors and Similes!

Punchy metaphors and similes are a comedy writer’s best friend, which is a good thing because I love metaphors and similes like a newly washed Labrador loves rolling in garden fertilizer. A well crafted metaphor or simile can only add to the humour in your story. The trick is to keep it fresh and creative, and to avoid cliché. Apparently you can overuse this brilliant comedic tool in your writing, or so my editor tells me. We agreed to disagree – after he made me edit out a good chunk of my metaphor and simile brilliance. I’m okay bout it. Really.

3. The Rule of 3s

Patterns are generally a useful device for writers, but a pattern of three, where the first two items set up the reader to expect one thing only to be given something unexpected in item three, is a great tool when writing humour.

‘Meredith couldn’t understand why her friends didn’t want to come hang at her place on a stinking hot day like today. She had her own air conditioned teen retreat. The fridge was stacked with heaps of cold soft drink. And she had found twelve of her fifteen pet tarantulas that had escaped their terrarium that morning.’

You get the idea.

And because all good things come in threes, here are three of my favourite YA titles that do humour really well:

If you’re after more tips on writing funny, check out Four Commandments to Writing Funny by Joe Bunting and How to Mix Humor into Your Writing by Leigh Anne Jashway.


Kat Colmer AuthorKat Colmer is a Young Adult author and high-school teacher librarian who writes coming-of-age stories with humour and heart. She lives with her husband and two children in Sydney, Australia. Her debut YA The Third Kiss is out now with ENTANGLED TEEN and may or may not contain a few too many humorous metaphors and similes. Learn more on her website, or come say hi on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

In the here and now: Contemporary

This month on Aussie Owned and Read, we’re talking about different genres and what makes them awesome. Today I’m talking about contemporary, or books set here and now.

Something I particularly love about these books is that they feel like they could be happening to someone, somewhere right now! And depending on where they’re set, to someone I know. I love how they can touch on topical events and create brilliant discussion.

This is real.

Or, at least, someone’s real. And reading about other people’s real can give hope and teach tolerance and empathy and create understanding.

They can be light and wonderfully romantic.

anna

Confronting.

thug.jpg

Painful.

200px-The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

Brilliantly aussie

graffiti moon

 

And wonderful books can be found both traditionally and indie published.

Trust-Cover

Do you love contemporary books? Have a fave?

🙂

Beck

beck nicholas_ bec sampson

I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction.

 

Exploring Genre: Urban Fantasy

September’s theme is genre, so this month we’ll each be focusing on a different genre and highlighting what makes it great. Today I’m taking a look at my favourite genre to read (and write): urban fantasy.

“Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative has an urban setting. Works of urban fantasy are set primarily in the real world and contain aspects of fantasy, such as the arrival of alien races, the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence or conflict between humans and paranormal beings, and other changes to city life. A contemporary setting is not strictly necessary for a work of urban fantasy: works of the genre may also take place in futuristic and historical settings, real or imagined.”Wikipedia

As a reader, urban fantasy can be a tricky genre to love. That might sound like a strange thing to say, but it’s true — quite often I go into a book thinking that it’s urban fantasy only to discover that it’s urban fantasy’s kissing cousin, paranormal romance. They share a lot of the same trappings, in that they tend to feature paranormal beings in the real world. And the covers are sometimes quite similar, though urban fantasy book covers lean towards a solo character rather than an embracing pair, and generally feature less pretty dresses and more, well, leather and weapons.

But the fundamental difference is whether the plot emphasises romance as a central element. In paranormal romance, the romance is, unsurprisingly, the main plot (think Twilight), whereas in urban fantasy there is often a romance, but it takes a back seat to other goings on in the world (think Sookie Stackhouse or The Mortal Instruments).

In urban fantasy, you quite often see elements of other genres: mystery, thriller, adventure, superhero, sci-fi. My favourites are the ones with a mystery, a plot twist … and some steamy romance. (I do love a juicy romance, but I’m greedy: I like to have that and more. 😉 )

I was going to include maybe three of my favourite urban fantasies, but who am I kidding? I can’t stop at three!

(Looking at these covers, I think I should add tank tops to “leather” and “weapons”.)


Cassandra Page is an author, editor, geek, coffee addict, Ravenclaw and bookstagrammer. Her fifth urban fantasy novel, False Awakening, was released on 26 August

Review: Collision by Alexandra Wright

When a collision of two parallel worlds creates a portal, Ella’s eyes-and heart-open to the impossible. Eighteen-year-old, tell-it-like-it-is Ella Beuchene is about to graduate from a prestigious high school, and yet she’s never felt more trapped. Her family is hell-bent on forcing her into a future she doesn’t want. Her boyfriend no longer gets her. And her best friend is keeping something secret. Something that could shatter their friendship for good. Ella is desperate to escape her “privileged” existence. Then, one warm summer night, Ella finds herself in the woods behind her house. The forest is lusher than ever before, the creatures of the night louder, and the moon brighter. Beneath its green canopy, she meets a mysterious, striking stranger. A man who gets her, who shifts her perspective of the world, and who…wait for it…glows in the dark. From that moment on, Ella’s not sure that it’s just her life she wants to escape. It may be her world.

Collision drew me in and held me prisoner until the *almost* bitter end.

An enticing out of this world romance – Collision is the story of Ella, an eighteen-year-old girl on the edge of adulthood. Trapped by the life her father has laid out for her, and terrified of the prospect of turning out like her alcoholic mother, she is delighted to wake up in another world completely, though she does take some convincing to begin with that she is in fact in another world and not simply dreaming.

giphy

Setting this story in parallel worlds, Alexandra Wright gives us a look at what our world, the land of Australia in particular, could have turned out to be had we not achieved such technological advancements.

giphy1

The rough and tough nature of the world Ella visits is made softer by the connection she has with Colton, the handsome woodsman she met that first night in the woods. Their connection is forged by the power that brought her to his world, but their feelings for one another grows with each night they spend together, and it was far into this tale, that I was dreading where this story might lead, should Ella be forced to never return to Colton’s world.

giphy2

I became so enamored with Wright’s storytelling that I read the last half of this book in one sitting, unable to literally put it down.

Your heart will thank you for reading Collision, it is everything that love stories should be.

giphy3 giphy3 giphy3 giphy3

I give Collision four out of five hearts, and can’t wait to read more form Alexandra wright.

screen-shot-2015-08-14-at-10-45-01-pm

Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting the Fey, and Alpha Nine. Keep an eye out for her next novel, Uniting the Fabled due out later this year.

Exploring Genre: Science Fiction

September’s theme is genre, so this month we’ll each be focusing on a different genre and highlighting what makes it great. Today I’m taking a look at one of my favs; science fiction.

Robots, aliens, space travel, technology … what’s cool about sci fi is the fact that it could almost be reality. It doesn’t take too much of a bend of the imagination to believe/know that a sci-fi reality is just around the corner. With artificial intelligence moving at the current rate it won’t be long before driverless transports, humanoid robots, and computer creating computers will be the norm. Umm guys … the Terminator could actually exist in this decade! I’m not sure if I should be excited or scared by that. Same goes for the scientists who are working on invisibility creating technology right now. We sure live in exciting times.

But let’s talk about sci-fic as a genre. It’s a pretty big umbrella that takes in everything from aliens to other worlds to technology to altered takes on modern day earth. There are so, so many sub genres in sci fic, but I won’t go into those today. What I will say is that science fiction (at its core and at its best) is about using a technology or an advancement to make a comment about the prevailing human condition. The setting of space, or alternate reality, or advanced technology is just that; a setting that distances the reader from their own reality so any commentaries made by the story about the potential of the human race in general are more willingly accepted. Avatar for example, is just as much about current environmental issues as it is about cool blue-skinned aliens. And that is one of the things I love most about sci-fi;

But now we’re getting too deep for a Thursday morning… so, let’s talk awesome books! Some of my favourite science fiction novels include;

Under The Never Sky: I’m still not sure if this one is set on a futuristic earth, or a new planet, but either way it’s great domed-society read about a girl who’s cast out and forced to battle the raging elements outside the dome. Such a fun read.

The Lunar Chronicles: A cyborg main character, people living on the moon, and hover ships all rolled into fairytale retellings. Yes please!

The Lux Series: Aliens integrated into earthen society, a book blogger, a brooding bad boy, and a steamy romance. Umm, sign me up!

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The sole survivor of the destruction of earth hitchhiking his way through space. With all the silly dad jokes and puns, there’s nothing not to love about Hitchhikers.

And that, dear readers, is why I love science fiction. It’s semi-real (without being too heavy), it’s exciting and it’s almost like a peek into the future! What genre do you hanker for? I’d love to hear all about your favourite in the comments.

__________________________________________________________________

Stacey Nash writes Aussie YA / NA. Her Oxley College Saga is a series of romances based in the fictional Oxley College on a university campus. Her Collective Series is YA trilogy about a girl who discovers secret sci-fi technology and the organisation who suppress it. To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media (where she tries to be engaging), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

Genre Month: Fantasy

This month on Aussie Owned and Read, each of us are looking at a different genre, talking about why we think it’s awesome! I’m starting us off with Fantasy.

When I was a teen I read some fantasy, thanks to my mother. I was a fan of David Eddings’ Elenium series (I was so in love with Sparhawk) and the Keltiad series by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison (which is a bit of a Fantasy/Science Fiction mash-up).

When I went off to uni, I didn’t read as much, and when I did get back into reading I was so hooked on Science Fiction. But lately, Fantasy has been tugging at me with so many great titles coming out in recent years that push the boundaries of Fantasy. I love being transported to another world, whether it’s a constructed realm with its own rules and world-building, or a real-world setting with fantastical elements introduced.

One of the reasons I love Fantasy (and most genres under the Speculative Fiction Umbrella) is that the only limit is the author’s imagination. The author makes the rules, bends rules, and occasionally smashes them out of the park to create an amazing piece of literature.

Some of my recent favourite reads include:

  • The Name Of The Wind: It was a slow start, and I was honestly may have given up if my friend didn’t push me. But now I’ve devoured books 1 & 2, as well as The Slow Regard of Silent Things, which is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read.
  • Throne of Glass: I loved the anti-hero aspect, I loved the twists, and I really enjoyed the world building.
  • The Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows: Six of Crows took Fantasy to a whole new level with the infusion of more modern world aspects in a fantasy realm. And the Darkling is a bit swoon worthy.
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Strange The Dreamer: Like Six of Crows, Strange the Dreamer took a different approach to fantasy, and had a more middle-eastern and mystical feel to the story. Daughter of Smoke and Bone series took what appeared to be an over-done genre on the surface, and turned it into something unique.
  • Raven Cycle and Scorpio Races:  I adored the lyrical writing in both of these stories, and the infusion of mythology into modern world settings was just magical.
  • Red Sister: This has gorgeous writing that slips between time periods, taking the reader on a magical journey.
  • Court of Fives: Beautiful otherworld fantasy with Roman Empire influences, and dealing with issues of colonisation that parallels the real world.

I’m sure there’s many more I could name, but these are some of my favourites. Add your recommendations in the comments!

Pink 1Sharon is a YA and NA author from sunny Queensland, who writes by beaches and fish tanks. She loves spending time with her family and watching her free range guinea pigs run around the back yard. Occasionally she has pink hair.