Friday, April 1, 2011

An Interesting Dilemma--Seeking Writerly Advice

A while ago, I started blogging "Friday Funnies--Ancient Style" just because I love ancient history as much as I love to laugh and play with words. It also helped that my blog's emphasis on humor showcased the style of my mid-grade biography, Cleopatra Rules!, since the book featured a voice-with-an-attitude as well as lots of word play and funny references.

But now, with the release of my first YA novel, Cleopatra's Moon, looming, I worry that I am undermining myself by continuing that light and funny approach in my blog. Here's why:  the voice in the novel is VERY different than the fun-loving voice I used in my mid-grade biographies. 
Did I paint myself into a corner with my blog?

 In fact, the voice in Cleopatra's Moon is way more serious. It is also darker. And some say, more literary.

As the novel begins to gain momentum before its release in August, I don't want readers who stumble across my blog (I know, wishful thinking, but still) to think that my novel is as fun and silly as my biographies for younger kids. Because it's not.

So what's a writer with two very different "voices" and markets to do? I worry that funny or silly blog posts (my typical M.O.) might undermine the image and style of the soon-to-be-released novel. Not to mention possibly even mislead potential novel readers who might--as a result of the playful tone in this blog--expect a light, comedic novel. 

OMG, they're using gold foil on the cover!
I don't have the money, knowledge or time to create another blog just for the novel, so I was thinking I would just slowly shift the tone of this blog to reflect the more serious voice of Cleopatra's Moon. Is this a smart thing to do? Does it matter? Does anyone have any other suggestions?

I'd be especially curious to learn how other writers have handled such issues. And, yes, I'm very aware that this is an AWESOME problem to have!

Cleopatra's Moon, by the way, is edited by  Cheryl Klein (http://cherylklein.com) at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic (www.arthuralevinebooks.com). It is slated for release this August.

16 comments:

H Niyazi said...

I dont think you should be worried by such a thing Vicky!

A blog is space for you to be yourself. You can not deny that you are into the fun part of history, many people are!

Many people who come here do so because of your amazing sense of humour! Most authors I have come across online seem to have a quirkier side. I think of the 'Two Nerdy History Girls' and Vicki Leon - their blogs are great fun.

You also know Juliette Harrisson and Mary Beard, serious academics when at work - but they have great fun on their respective blogs.

In short: be yourself!

Good luck :)

H

Narukami said...

Vicky,

I am not a published writer ("But I play one on TV!") so my voice will carry little weight on this topic, however...

This causes me to wonder, just who is the prisoner here: Cleopatra's daughter or you?

Perhaps it is easier for actors to move between comedy and drama. Alec Guiness had comic timing and is noted for several great comedies as well as his dramatic work. Of course, actors (or more to the point, "Stars") can become prisoners of their own reputation.

When Oshima was casting his film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence he approached Robert Redford to play the part of Jack Sellers, after all the novelist had written the book with Redford in mind should it ever be made into a film. Redford was flattered but declined say his audience would never accept him in a role like this (with the homo-erotic overtones between Jack and the Japanese POW Camp commander). Redford had become a prisoner of his own fame.

Your voice in the mid-grade books as well as your blog, is just as authentic as your voice in your new novel. Perhaps other others will have more cogent and useful opinions / insights on this but I do believe you may be over-thinking this just a bit.

Don't self-censor, left your voice speak clear.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Vicky, I think your blog is an excellent representation of YOU. Many of your followers may appreciate your funny voice (um, you know what I mean), but your blog is also about ancient artifacts and history. So, getting the word out about your new book to people who like ancient history is already in place. And getting people to BUY your book, well, they like you, they'll want to buy your book.

As you promote the book (on your blog), just be clear about the content (YA, dark, literary). But many people will be interested in the book, just to see your "other" voice.

You might also want to consider making a page for the new book on FB. That's where you can market like a crazy woman and grab your target audience. You're already like some guru at FB marketing.

Um, I realize I don't have any books. BUT, I do write in LOTS of different markets. So that qualifies me to know what I'm talking about. Sorta? Kinda? :-)

Sally said...

I'm in agreement with the running consensus. Be yourself on your blog. When you adverstise or talk about the new book be sure to mention its more serious tone. This provides a fuller picture of you, the author. After launch reviews and comments should bear this out.

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Oh man, you all are great! Thanks for your thoughts--you make a lot of sense. My worry about these things is likely a projection of my pre-publication jitters. And I have until August. Should be an interesting several months.

H Niyazi said...

Looking at the date I'm starting to think Vicky was being a bit playful with her faithful blog readers.

I dont think Vicky is capable of being glum, overly serious or boring!

H

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Hasan, LOL! It never occurred to me that I should be careful what I post on April Fool's Day. And no, it was no joke--I really was wondering!

Gwen@ChewDigestBooks.com said...

I understand your fear, but I can always read between the lines and see just how knowledgeable you are about your subject. The humor makes it fun and doesn't detract from your work.It adds to it!

Don't worry, be happy!

Rita Monette, Writer said...

I think the tone of your blog should reflect you as the author, not necessarily the tone of a book you have written. Just my two cents. I love your blog!

Ashes said...

Well, here I am, the lone nay-sayer. Nay, nay, nay. I say nay. I just like saying 'Nay.'

I don't really have a "nay" - more a "hey maybe"....

As a fellow tone-dark writer (except when I'm NOT) - I think there *is* an issue to be examined here. And that it is perhaps two-fold: Who is reading your blog? And do you expect that to change?

Here's what I think: don't throw anything out. The Friday funnies I love (so keep them) and your historical links/commentary are all solid/pertinent.

But maybe it's not "do I need to cut something out" it's "do I need to graft something in?"

The good news is, you've got time to think about it. Brainstorm topics that relate to your new book, think about what you might have to say about them. Then ta-da! there's your new 'spice' to flavor your blog.

I'd check out gritty/dark/literary author blogs, too. Such as Laurie Halse Anderson, etc. See what they talk about and more - who are they talking to? Adults or young adults? Libba Bray's is really good at communicating with her readers.

Just my thoughts. I don't actually maintain a blog. It sits there gathering interwebz-webz. So it must, as always, be something you're passionate about and can sustain.

Hey - if nothing else - the blog-study can keep the pre-publication jitters at bay!

CAN'T WAIT TO READ IT!!!!

Elizabeth T said...

I'm with Ashes (and everyone else). You don't need to start a second blog, but you could "graft something in." For instance, a widget or blog element (I'm thinking upper right-hand corner placement) that makes reference to "Cleopatra's Moon" and points out the distinctly different tone and material.

The simple approach is often the best. You're a gifted author, Vicky, and your blog represents you perfectly. The upcoming novel simply shows another side of your talent.

Whatever you decide, it will be right for you!

Karen Strong said...

I agree with others have already said, you should definitely be yourself.

Actually I would think readers who "stumble" (more than likely they will search for you and come here, LOL) will find it refreshing and interesting with the historical/funny tidbits you share here.

But like Ashes has said, you can also "sprinkle" in some things related to the novel -- especially in the weeks and immediate months afterward.

But definitely be yourself. The book will speak for itself. :)

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

@Gwen, thanks for commenting. Your input means a lot.

@Rita, thanks for the vote of confidence. I'm glad other people enjoy my approach!

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

@Ashes, "Grafting" something in--brilliant solution!

@Elizabeth T, thanks for the kind words!

@Karen, thanks for the reminder that the book speaks for itself--what I do on my blog doesn't really change anything!

Gail said...

I agree with the ongoing theme to keep the blog true to you. I also agree that it's okay to add in a few more serious posts, especially closer to the pub date and following it. (Guess I'm just in an agreeable mood!) You can even use your humorous still to announce the serios post. Instead of a SPOILER ALERT banner, add a SERIOUS POST alert banner :-)

Gabriele C. said...

Well, I'm not published (yet) but I have a bit of the same dilemma. The tone of my blog is certainly lighter than the books I write though the difference may not be as great as in your case. But my blog has its followers because of what it is and I don't want to change that even if I got published. I may post some snippets, something about why I wrote this book and things like that, sprinkled in among the history. That should slighly expand the focus of the blog without changing its basics. Maybe that could be a way for you as well.