Our Love is in The Trope

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Credit: Bigstock images

Happy Valentines Day, AO&R readers!

Whether it’s something you celebrate or not, I think it’s hard to survive February without getting sucked into the cutesyness of it all. The huge red hearts, the dozens of roses, the white teddy bears. It’s everywhere you look. Even at my kids’ school, where the little ones where handing out lollipops to one another.

Anyhoo, all this loving got me thinking about romance in books at how there tends to be set tropes that are followed. Even in YA! Just thinking about the last half a dozen books I’ve read, every single one of them follows a similar romantic path. Even though it’s predictable as readers we often gravitate towards the same trope over and over.

So what are these romance tropes? Ah … here’s the ones I think are most common in young and new adult books:

The Love Triangle: The dreaded love triangle is actually one of my favourites. I think perhaps it was overdone a few years back, which is why so many readers now shy away. I’m still a sucker for a well written triangle though, where the heroine (or hero) has to decide between two suitors. Some of my favorites = The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. Matched by Ally Condie

Friends turned lovers: When the characters have been friends for years and suddenly their friendship grows into more.  I think this one makes for a sweet story. My favourites = Frigid by J Lynn. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover.

Enemies to Lovers: When the characters hate each other’s guts, but we all know hate is only a step away from lurve. The sizzling tension that comes with this trope gives me all the feels! It’s got to me my absolute favourite. Best examples = The Lux Series by J L Armentrout, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

Forbidden Love: This is a fun one too, and it also sizzles with sexual tension. Usually the couple are deeply in love/lust with each other but the can’t be together because Montagues and Capulets. My favourite examples = Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Fallen by Lauren Kate.

Opposites Attract: She’s a book nerd, he loves sports. She hates self absorbed people, he is one. (well she thinks he is) This trope can work well too, although I haven’t seen as much of it in YA as I have the others. Top picks = If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Sephanie Perkins.

Are there any other typical romance plots you’ve noticed? If so share, share away in the comments. I’d love to hear all about them.

 

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Stacey NashStacey Nash has written one of all of these tropes. To find out more about the love stories she’s had published 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.

Beyond beginnings …

It seems fitting that our topic for January is beginnings. 2017 brings with it many changes and hopes after a particularly unusual and tough year for many.

As for me, I’m hoping that with the new year I will carve for myself a fresh beginning with my writing. You see, I had a tough time with it during 2016. With three kids, four after school activities, three separate schools, two P&C committees, and only one me it was a rather time-poor year. And as a writer who thrives off the total immersion method I found myself unable to pen new words. Basically I just couldn’t get my head in the story. The same with reading. I found myself reading the same pages over and over again, unable to move forward because there was never enough time or head space for imagination.

Yet, beginnings are the one thing I didn’t struggle with. Whatever sucked up my creativity seems not to have affected my ability to pen first chapters. I have a grand total of five beginnings that are so darn intriguing (no modesty here) that I’m determined to make them full stories this year.

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Getting past Chapter One can be a chore.

 

So what is the trick of getting beyond the beginning?

  • Stick to it: don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked by shiny new ideas. Write them down then come back to story number 1.
  • Plot it: If you’re having trouble finishing a story, plan out where it’s going next. In fact, plan it all the way to the end.
  • Make time: If, like me, you’re strapped for time get up half an hour earlier, stay up half an hour later, write in your lunch break. Whatever it is you need to do to snag a few minutes of writing time, do it.
  • Don’t edit: you heard me. Don’t read yesterday’s words before writing new ones. That chews up valuable writing time and makes it impossible to move forward to new words.

Let’s hope that 2017 is a productive writing year!

I plan on sticking to these golden rules to finish my stories. Do you have any tips for getting beyond the beginning?

Happy writing!

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Stacey NashStacey Nash is going to write lots of great words this year. To find out more about the great words she’s already had published 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.

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diversity

The best diverse characters (in my opinion)

In honour of NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week this month, we’ve dedicated all our July posts to the issue of diversity in fiction. For more information on NAIDOC Week, visit their website here.

I love reading about diverse characters! It’s great when they are the star of the story, but my preference is to have them scattered throughout books, fitting into the cast just as real people fit into society and the lives of others. There’s actually a bookish term for this; incidental diversity. (Where a character’s difference is mentioned but not highlighted.) Don’t get me wrong, I like reading books with diverse main characters as well, but I’ll be honest … sometimes I find it difficult to connect and that’s all on me. It’s not the author or the character that’s the problem, but like most people, I connect best with characters to whom I easily relate … people like me. Now, I may be a straight, white woman, but I am diverse in my own way. I think we all are — we all have our own things that make us different to everyone else. There is no normal.

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Anyhoo, here is a list of my top 5 favourite diverse supporting and leading characters.

 

Magnus Bane: from The Mortal Instruments / Infernal Devices. There are so many things about Magnus that make him diverse; he’s Asian, he’s gay, he’s a warlock, he’s eccentric. But it’s not his diversity that puts him on my list. It’s his lovability. All of Magnus’s little quirks make him seem so real.

Brian: from I’ll Give You The Sun. Yes, one of the main characters is also gay, but it was this supporting character who grabbed my heart. Perhaps it was because I found Noah difficult to connect with, or perhaps it was because of Brian’s quirks and eccentricities. Brian, like Magnus, felt so real he could have been the boy living next door to me.

Josie Alibrandi: from Looking for Alibrandi. This homegrown book is so awesome it’s been on the school reading list for twenty years. It was an important book long before #weneeddiversebooks was even a thing. Josie is an Italian-Australian struggling to find her true self due to clashes in both sides of her culture. If you’re looking for a character dealing with accepting her diversity, than look no further than Josie.

August Pullman: from Wonder. I’m not sure if this one falls more on the middle grade side of the fence than the young adult side, but I think it rates a mention because WOW. Auggie is one of those characters that moved me so much I’m sure he’ll stay with me forever.  Even though he was born with a facial deformity, August is just an ordinary kid, wanting ordinary things … like friendship. Wonder really highlights that despite our differences, we’re all the same underneath.

Evie: from Am I Normal Yet. She’s white, she’s straight, she’s middle class … so why is she diverse? Like many of us, Evie faces a mental illness that leaves her far from fitting into the ‘normal’ mold. What I love about this character is that she shows that diversity isn’t all about race, religion, or sexual orientation. It’s about so much more. I loved that Evie’s struggle feels real. She doesn’t fit in and she knows it, but tackling that … well, it’s not easy.

 

And those are my top five! Who are your favourite diverse characters? Have you come across any that I’ve missed?


Stacey NashStacey Nash has written her very own diverse character; a girl who suffers from an usual sleeping disorder. To find out more about this young adult author 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.

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The Best Winter Themed Characters

Fuzzy socks, hand knitted blankets, finger-less gloves, and warm beanies. That’s just how you’ll find me most days at the moment, often with my computer sitting in my lap or a book in hand. I don’t have a crackling fire to settle in front of, but I do have two warm purr-buckets who like to curl around me and share their warmth.

Isn’t winter the best season for reading and writing?

You betcha! Anyways, while reading Wicked Lovely earlier this month I got to thinking about season themed characters and just how awesome a strong setting, with a character to match can be. Here are some of

my top wintry wonders

  • Donia from Wicked Lovely – This winter faerie isn’t just cool, she actually looks like winter. With corpse-blue skin and lips, plus the fairest hair you could image, Donia even weeps frosty tears. Her transformation throughout the book doesn’t see her lose her wintry appearance, if anything she becomes more, better, just … SPOILERS. This one is for fans of beautifully written fantasy.
  • Lucas from Winter Omens (The Last Years) – This alien-hybrid boy is winter personified. He’s cold to the touch, but not cold-hearted and he balances out Althea’s summery traits perfectly. He’s one of those protective, loving heroes that you just can’t help but love. Anyway, I’m not going too delve to far into this world because spoilers, but if you love dystopian sci-fi, read this one!
  • Ull from Elsker – You can’t get more winter-themed than the Norse God of Winter himself. Ull has the looks and charm of a god as well as the powers. If you love huge romantic gestures, love too great to be true, and guys who can manipulate snowflakes then Elsker’s for you.
  • Jadis the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia – Winter = cold. Cold = heartless. Heartless = broken. That about sums our self decalred Queen of Charn. You can’t get much more heartless than cursing a whole land with an endless winter. But poor Jadis isn’t just mean for meanness’s sake. If you haven’t read The Chronicles of Narnia then where have you been?
  • Elsa from Frozen – yeah, yeah I know she doesn’t live in a YA book, but how could I list off winter characters without mentioning the girl who can control the snow and ice?!

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via GIPHY

Is there anyone I’ve missed? Who are the greatest winter-themed characters in your opinion?


Stacey Nash

For reasons unknown to her Stacey Nash’s books are almost all set in autumn. Perhaps because of the fun you can have with falling leaves. If you feel like connecting with the young adult author on social media, where she tries to be engaging check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

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What makes a book great?

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I’ve been pondering … you see, I’m an avid reader and have been since I was a child. Like many other people who love reading, I also love creating and hope to create books as fabulous as the best ones I’ve read. But alas, it’s definitely easier to be a great reader than to be a great writer. Anyone who’s one-clicked their way through Amazon has seen the proof that it takes more than a catchy blurb and a professional cover to create a fabulous book. And through the hoards of books, both good and bad, that I’ve read over the years I’ve learned by observing …

Some of the things that make a book great:

  • a unique concept: something that’s intriguing and hasn’t been written about a million times before.
  • loveable characters: those that feel so real they could be your best friend, and whose choices make you feel invested and connected rather than annoyed and disappointed.
  • beautiful prose: words and sentences that flow so seamlessly you forget you’re even reading. It’s as if you’re living them.
  •  a great plot: twists and turns that aren’t so out there they’re unbelievable, yet still surprise the reader in a ‘wow I should have seen that coming’ way.
  • stakes: something that keeps the reader invested. Very few successful books are about happy people doing happy things in happy land. As readers we need to be taken on a journey that has us wondering what is going to happen next and if everything will eventually fall into place for the main characters.

Making all of these aspects come together isn’t easy, and even if you do manage to pull it off, there’s the element of luck. Just writing a great book isn’t enough, it needs to be seen to make a splash. Good luck, fellow writers and have fun!


Stacey Nash (3)Stacey Nash is the author of several books, which she hopes readers enjoy. If you feel like connecting with the young adult author on social media, where she tries to be engaging check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

Self promo: do it right.

The third book in my college saga releases today, so it’s lucky I’m here instead of hiding in the corner while the book goes live. Well, at least that’s what I wish I could do. In reality I’ll be blasting social media with buy links and teasers and all those other things. I’ll probably also be feeling guilty about it and worrying that I might be annoying people. You know, the ones that like my page, are on my friends list, and may be a member of some of the same groups as me. We’re probably twitter friends too, and maybe follow each other on Instagram.

How much self promo is too much?

That is the golden question. I’ve heard people say self promotion makes me sick. It makes me defriend, unlike, or unfollow someone. Then I’ve heard the opposite camp say, it’s my page and if I don’t promote my book who will? Share that thing, baby.

No wonder there’s so much stress around promoting one’s own book.

I think…

Self promo works if it’s done with tact and moderation

There’s a general 80 / 20 rule floating around that says you should balance 20% self promo posts with 80% other posts. This is great, but not everyone has time to sit on social media everyday or long enough to balance out 1 self promo post with 4 non promo posts, especially on release day. You could always schedule posts, but that loses the interactive charm. Especially on twitter. I think the key to achieving balance isn’t so much in numbers as tact. Even the wittiest people who constantly post fun non-promo stuff on social media cane come unstuck if they’re not tactful. I try to follow these rules:

  • Don’t be pushy. Try to gain the audience’s interest without pulling them to you with a long-winded, this-is-why-I’m-great speech. They just need enough info to engage their interest.
  • Don’t go overboard. A new post every hour is probably a bit much. Two to three facebook posts a day or double that on twitter is probably okay. I wouldn’t suggest keeping this rate up after release though.
  • Don’t copy and paste the same post over and over. Keep your content fresh and engaging, then your followers won’t skip past it.
  • Don’t expect people to comment, share, like, retweet or whatever. But if they do, be grateful and ENGAGE. Engage. Engage.

And that’s it. Or at least that’s all of the pointers I can think of. Do you have any tips for self promo?

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Stacey NashStacey Nash is extremely nervous about her new release, Pretend…  If you feel like connecting with the young adult author on social media, where she tries to be engaging check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

The translation of words

We like to watch Anime in my house. A lot of it. (incidentally that may be where Forget Me Nots Anamae found her name) Anyway, on the weekend I was sitting with the family watching Howl’s Moving Castle (which is a little weird) and the version we watched hadn’t been dubbed in English, but rather had English subtitles. Now, if I didn’t speak Japanese I wouldn’t have noticed that some of the translations were slightly off. Not the translators fault, some Japanese phrases simply don’t have English equivalents.  It got me to thinking about books and translation, as things are no doubt even trickier when it comes to the written word. Especially because there is no image on screen to help convey what the dialogue can’t.

When it comes to the written word, I also wonder how or even if a writer’s voice is maintained in translation. Because surely the process dries out the entire feel or rather, the way words are uniquely pieced together, making those words more text book and less voice in style. At least one would assume so. Take Facebook … I have a good friend who is Mexican, and I’ve noticed that when she posts in Spanish rather than English, FB translates for me. I get the gist of what the comment was, and sometimes it sounds like her, but sometimes it doesn’t. In fact, sometimes it sounds really strange and stilted and even a little Pigeon English-like. So maybe … when it comes to literature translation voice is something that gets lost. Having never read a book in two languages I’m not sure.

Regardless of this, I wouldn’t want publishers to not translate their books for fear of the words not being right. I’ve read some fabulous books that weren’t originally written in English. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and Homer’s The Illiad, for starters. Even back in high school when studying Chaucer, we had to translate the works from Middle English to Modern English to better understand them. Some of those tales were so fabulous that years later I remember them clearly. What a loss it would be for all involved if literature translation wasn’t a thing.

Hello translated in a few international languages. (image: Bigstock)

Anyway, that’s my early morning philosophical thoughts for today. Maybe I’ll download some translation software and test it out. Are any of you bilingual? Have you ever read the same book in two different languages and noticed the differences? If not … what would you be worried would be lost in the translation of your favourite book? Let’s discuss this!

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Stacey NashStacey Nash is the proud author of four published books, which she’d love to see translated into Pig Latin. To find out more about her books find her at www.stacey-nash.com, twitter or facebook.