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Is Reading eBooks the New Social Media for Children and Teens

Is Reading eBooks the New Social Media for Children and Teens

This past year, I discovered a new form of Social Media from a very unexpected source – my thirty-something year old son. I was sharing the new story I was writing, Dust: Before and After, with him and told him about uploading a chapter to Wattpad. He asked me if I had heard of . I hadn’t, of course. With a little guidance, he navigated me through the process of uploading Dust to it and explained that anyone who wanted to write a story could write one and upload. It is very similar to Wattpad, but these are a little more hardcore in the type of genres they write. Still, I felt that Dust would fit in the niche, and I excitedly check each day to the growing number of views.

What I found exciting was down at the bottom, there is a number that kept changing. It was readers chatting about the different stories. These are readers who follow the stories as they unfold and talk about them. The number of views for some of them were unbelievable, showing that this type of writing attracts the younger readers in large numbers. Reading is not a dying art, but an evolving one, just as the younger generation of readers is changing the way and type of genre they want to read.

I’m amazed that there is little discussion about the array of sites out there that are available. Sites like Wattpad and Royalroad are just two examples that give readers of all ages a new way of communicating. They are eBooks written by both novice writers who have a story and want to tell it, too far more experienced authors.

I have stories up on both of these sites and what I’ve found is that most of the readers are pre-teen and teenagers and that they talk… about the stories they are reading… a lot! They discuss the characters, the settings, the plots, and the dialogue. They are passionate, avid readers, and very vocal about their reflection on the stories. But most of all, they are talking with other readers from around the world! This type of reading is growing fast and I believe will become even more popular as these readers one day branch out and become writers. The biggest thing I really like is they are taking the time to discuss what they’ve read and share it with others, much like a Book Club does. So, if you were to ask me if reading eBooks is the new Social Media for children and teens, I’d have to say yes, it is. It is a growing, international Book Club that authors need to sit up and take a look at. If anything, it will grow in popularity. All I can say is: Yay, for Social Media interaction about books! I hope they keep it up. About S. E. Smith S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

Writing in the Young Adult Market

Writing in the Young Adult Market

Writing in the young adult market is different from writing in the adult market. While the young adult market has more disposable income, they also have more interests to spend it on. Regardless of the age, books hold a special place in a person’s life.

Ageless enjoyment: 

From a simple children’s tale of an epic adventure, a well-written story can capture the reader’s imagination and take them to worlds they would otherwise be unable to go to. The recent popularity of the Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Goosebumps, and Twilight series are just a few examples that prove the market is not just there for children and teens, but adults as well. Many of my favorite stories are children and young adult stories.

Reaching a Young Adult Market: 

In the past, reaching the young adult market has always come from the traditional publishers. As an Indie Author, I write and publish my own books through my own publishing company, this could easily be a daunting task to face. How can an Indie author break through into the YA market? I can tell you one thing; it isn’t going to happen overnight. If you were to research the series I mentioned above, you might be surprised to discover many were around for years before they were discovered. One of my favorite quotes is that the overnight success of the artist only took ten years to achieve.

I don’t expect my YA stories to be an overnight success. That doesn’t mean I would turn it down if they were, but I’m fairly grounded. I know that it will take time to build my name and reputation as an excellent author in the YA genre that can provide fascinating stories that teens and adults can relate to. It will also take time for my name to get out among the readers. I’m in this for the long haul. It was never my intention to write one book, sit back, and twiddle my thumbs before someone ‘magically’ discovers it. I will write more and more fascinating stories filled with action, adventure, suspense, and love while I wait for my overnight.

How Do I spread the Word?

As I mentioned above, my overnight success may be years in the making. I am excited that a movie production company has asked for the script of Voyage of the Defiance: Breaking Free. But, as I also mentioned, I won’t be sitting back waiting by the phone for their call. I understand it takes time to make a decision about whether a script is worth a second glance, much less sinking possibly millions of dollars into it. I’ve written another YA book called Dust: Before and After that has me just as excited, and have plans for the second book in the Breaking Free series: Capture of the Defiance to be released this fall. In the meantime, I promote my books through Social Media, paid advertising, word of mouth, conventions, book signings, and more. I participate in online Fan Fiction sites where readers get to read other work I’ve done and learn about my writing style. Most of all, I continue to improve my craft.

Writing in the Young Adult market is just like anything else, it is being consistent and persistent. Write fantastic stories that get readers talking, keep a presence online, and keep writing. Your overnight will come; it just may take a while.

About S. E. Smith 

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

Interview with Greta van der Rol

Author Spotlight – Greta van der Rol

Greta van der Rol

Thanks so much for having me here, Susan. It was great to chat with you recently about the stars and astrophotography. And just that one sentence says a lot about me. Although I have a degree in history and I can’t add up to save my life, I love reading about astronomy, exoplanets, Pluto, Rosetta and all the fascinating things happening in the universe. And I love my camera.

I suppose one of the reasons I write space opera is because of my interest in space. Who wouldn’t want to hop around the star systems having adventures? I adore Star Wars, can’t wait until December when Star Wars VII will hit the screens. Way back in the seventies I enjoyed the original Star Wars (A New Hope) and ABSOLUTELY ADORED The Empire Strikes Back. Saw it four times in the first week, I did – and many, many times since. Mind you, in my books I try to make my science a bit more realistic than George Lucas did. You can’t just hop over to the next planet if the hyperdrive dies.

I’ve always read science fiction – Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, McDevitt, Moon and the like. But I always felt that they glossed over, or ignored, the romance component of life as we know it, so my space opera includes a dollop of romance. My Iron Admiral books are set against the prospect of inter-species war (that’s the space opera bit) but they’re about two extraordinary people having to cope with each other, as well as the forces intent on causing a galactic catastrophe. They’re the first two of my Ptorix Empire series. My Morgan Selwood books are set in a universe where Humanity has faced the possibility of extinction at the hands of the machines, and rebuilt itself over thousands of years. That’s why Morgan is a very human cyborg. Nobody wants artificial intelligences to take over again. I introduced Morgan and her world in my novelette, Supertech. She goes on from there to star in a full length adventure, Morgan’s Choice, where she meets my favourite admiral, Ashkar Ravindra. I’m told I do hot admirals well. 🙂

The Demon's Eye
My most recent publication, The Demon’s Eye, has joined A Matter of Trust in The Dryden Universe. I’m one of a number of writers who have set our stories in a shared universe under a collective commons copyright. That means while I retain copyright for my story, other writers can use my settings and my characters in their own stories, rather like fan fiction. It’s an experiment. It worked for Star Wars, Star Trek etc. Dryden has more alien species than my other two universes. But you’ll find another hot admiral in AMoT. I can’t help myself.

Back to that camera. Photography is what I do when I’m not writing or cooking. My subjects are almost always landscapes or animals. I have a particular passion for photographing movement, capturing that moment in time that’s often too fast for us humans to actually see. Flying birds and breaching whales are special favourites. And because I love animals, I’ve also written a couple of paranormal books about weretigers. I donate any profits from those to two charities – the David Shepherd conservation group that helps wild tigers, and Carolina Tiger, a shelter in the USA that aids some of the many thousands of tigers in the USA which are bought as domestic pets by deluded people who soon find they can’t cope with a five hundred pound wild beast in their backyard.

I’m always happy to connect with readers. You’ll find me at There are links to my books, my photos (I sell some on Dreamstime, Canstock and RedBubble) and my social media profiles.

Please – come and say hi.

**** I can’t help but note that I absolutely LOVE Greta’s books!!!

Where Do the Characters Come From?

Where Do the Characters Come From?

I am often asked where my characters come from. The answer is simple – everywhere! Now, this doesn’t really answer the question, but I’ll give you some examples to help you understand that the characters really can come from anywhere. So, open your mind, put on your thinking cap, and see how many places you can discover the next character for your story!

Characters from Real Life: Sometimes characters are modeled after real people. In my children’s book, The Troll King of Wildland: The Adventures of Juliana, the lead character is Juliana. This is the story of an amazing little girl who is given a necklace by one of her grandmothers. Unbeknownst to Juliana, her two dogs, Kula and Cocoa, and her new ferret, Reba, are actually enchanted guards from the world of Wildland.

In real life, there really are a Juliana, Kula, Cocoa, and Reba. I was talking with Juliana’s father, Nathan, another real figure in the story, who asked me where I got my ideas from. I told him I could hear a name and pretty much create a story around it. I could tell he didn’t believe me, LOL, which is okay, most people don’t. His response was “So, if I give you the names of my two dogs, Kula and Cocoa, you could write a story about them?” He asked me in a somewhat skeptical tone.

When I started creating a story on the phone, he stopped me and told me that they also had a ferret and asked if I could include Reba. Before I knew it, he gave me Juliana’s name. I asked him some questions about her to get a feel for her character and told him I would write a story about her and her pets, but I needed to finish the story I was working on first. Shortly after our conversation, I sent him a copy of The Troll King of Wildland: The Adventures of Juliana. It is the magical story of a young girl who travels to Wildland to save the King of Wildland who has been kidnapped by the Troll King. Action, adventure, and many surprise twists, including an unlikely ending take the reader on a surprising journey.

Fictitious Characters Need to Be Real: In many of my other stories, the characters may be fictitious, but they all contain elements of people I have met during my life. In Voyage of the Defiance: Breaking Free series, Makayla reminds me a lot of myself at that age. I remember the turmoil of being a teenager, trying to find my place in the world. Her friendships, her relationship with her grandfather, and her desire to have her mom a part of her life makes her real to readers because we have all been there. Most of us have lived through the high school drama, the confrontations, the young love, and the need to find some sense of calm in a world that always seems a bit overwhelming.

Other times, my ideas come from a song, or in the case of Dust, from a workshop I was in. I was sitting in a large, crowded room listening to a speaker talking about the China market. He mentioned superheroes and the image of Dust rose in my mind with such intensity that I began writing his story right there. It was such a powerful tale with a main character that enthralled me! How would I react if I was in his situation? What would I do if I found I was changing? Dust became that superhero who didn’t know he was a hero and one that was still evolving.

The Essence of a Story: Characters are the heart of the story, they should be as 3-D in the story as they are in real life. So, the next time you are looking for the perfect characters, take a look around you and you might just find that they were there all the time! Who knows, if you look in the mirror, that character just might be you!

About S. E. Smith

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

Should Stories Deal With and/or Contain Social Situations

Should Stories Deal With and/or Contain Social Situations

Social situations are always a touchy topic. We see them in the press all the time, but should we see them in our stories? The answer is simple, yes. Whether an author is writing non-fiction or fiction, social situations have always played an important part in a story. In this article, I’m going to address why it is important.

The Issues: 

In the story Voyage of the Defiance: Breaking Free series, Makayla is faced with many issues that can be found in society today: a dysfunctional family life, prescription drug addiction, gangs, first love, and bullying at school. That is a lot rolled into one action-packed story, but life never just deals you one problem card. Plus, each situation helps guide how Makayla and the other characters react in the story.

The Reaction of the Characters: 

The reaction is important. It has to be real for it to be believable. One way of capturing that realism is to remember what it was like to be back in high school for Voyage of the Defiance. It also helped that I worked in one and saw a lot of what was going on. Many of the issues are things that the students faced. I remember a group of about fifty high school kids getting into a fight during lunch after a gang shooting. Emotions were running high and so was the tension. While I didn’t have this event in the story, I did capture the emotions and tension during several scenes including one where Makayla is jumped between classes.

Awareness and Education: 

Awareness and education are important in dealing with issues that come up. Makayla’s life wasn’t perfect, most kids and adults would say theirs weren’t either. It is important to understand that these types of issues are real and can happen to anyone. Well known books, including fables and fairytales, deal with social issues: Snow White and Cinderella? Yep, the step-mothers were green with jealousy and dealing with a dysfunctional family. The Ugly Duckling, Pinocchio? Yeah, it had some major issues with bullying. The list goes on and on. An important aspect is to recognize it and provide positive ways of dealing with the issues that the characters face.

Drawing the Line: 

In the long run, it is up to the author to draw the line on which social issues they are incorporating into their story and how the characters deal with it. Non-fiction will definitely be different than fiction, but both need to portray and accept that the reaction whether from a real person or a fictitious one has to be in line with real life emotions and reactions and handled with respect. Social issues and problems have been around for thousands of years, it is how we deal with each one that continues to remain the focus.

About S. E. Smith 

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.