Book Trends: Female Protagonists on the Rise

The other day I spotted at least twelve titles with the word ‘Girl’ on the cover–and that was just down 1 aisle.

It seems to be a trend, putting ‘Girl’ in your book title. Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Women in the Castle, Girl in the Spider’s Web, Lilac Girls, The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream, etc.

This in itself is good news; it’s about time writers and publishers realized girls can hold their own in literary tales. But another trend has reared its ugly head through this development, which is that most of these female protagonists end up imbued with three clichéd characteristics: divine beauty, hyper-intelligence, and snarky ‘tudes.

Today’s authors seem to be laboring under the delusion that female intelligence can only be beautiful and impressive if it is accompanied by physically impressive beauty. The average woman is pleasant to look at, but few actually possess ‘ethereal beauty’ or are ‘so hot she was hard to look at’ as depicted by their authors. How about we have an everywoman as the protagonist? How about a woman whose intelligence is an asset not necessarily matched by sexiness, or a female savant whose genius IQ is shackled by severe social anxiety? Continue reading “Book Trends: Female Protagonists on the Rise”

Book Trends – Present Tense: Genius or Gimmick?

There’s a trend in today’s literature, seen mostly in YA fantasy: Present Tense.

This style of writing has been around since Homer was just a young shaver, but recently there’s been an explosion in the book population, with little Present Tense booklets filling up the stacks. It seems to  be the Next Big Thing. Take a stroll down any YA book aisle, from B&N to Target, and there’s a good chance every fifth book you pick up will open with ‘I am running down the alley. I am thinking, ‘why is this happening to me?” or some such opener. Many will argue that there are pros and cons to this gimmick–excuse me, style–and such arguments do possess a smidgen of merit. But one irrefutable point exists: By its very nature, writing in present tense increases the number of ‘tense issues’ likely to appear in your writing. Continue reading “Book Trends – Present Tense: Genius or Gimmick?”

The Truth About Literary Agents


As the gatekeepers of the literary community, lit agents represent a major hurdle for writers; they are among the first people we need to impress if we wish to enter through those pearly gates into the world of published authors. So it is only natural if we at first view them through rosy-colored glasses.

But literary agents are not the lofty demi-gods they seem at first sight. There are titillating tidbits we should chew on before submitting our work to these gatekeepers.

Literary agents have no formal training. There exists no degree specifically tailored for lit agents to attain. Their schooling is unofficial, comprised of internships and other non-paying time offered as underlings in the literary world, comprised almost entirely of scut work. Their opinions are as biased as anyone else’s, albeit buttressed with a foundation in extreme reading and guided by the opinions of more experienced literary agents. They do not belong to any official group (even the AAR is more a code-of-ethics community and less an official organization) and are not required by law to sign any contracts, purchase any permits, or achieve anything to call themselves Literary Agents.

The point is that these people are merely well-read book-lovers, not the end-all know-all of your manuscript. Just because a few of them reject it, doesn’t mean your MS is no good. So remember, when it comes to books, these literary agents are just as chock full of opinions and preferences as anyone else. They don’t know everything, and they don’t have a framed BL (Bachelors of Literary Critique) to prove otherwise.

My experiences with lit agents have run the gamut: from frustration at their silent neglect, to fury at their form rejections, to elation at receiving requests from them. What have your experiences with them entailed?