Sunday, April 29, 2012

13,000 words, and the streets are full of Ellens

Love on a Transfer, Part II, has grown to 13,000 words. Poor Tom's beginning to wonder if every woman in England looks like Ellen, but perhaps it's just the way his feelings for her affect him. Girls and women in pink micro-skirts, skin-tight jeans, long overcoats or even thick jackets over saris, they all remind him of the angel of his dreams. Meanwhile he needs to find an internet cafe so he can catch up on email. Did he but know it, a whole new set of dreams is waiting there.

Meanwhile, many books are waiting to be read and reviewed, so here are just a few, with coffee recommendations and links to my reviews on Gather.... plus a bonus link to a book that's free on kindle today-- 'The House of Women' by Anne Brear, at http://www.amazon.com/The-House-of-Women-ebook/dp/B00557VUN4/ a novel of the Victorian age where a young woman sacrifices her own happiness while fighting for her sister's rights, then finds surprising promise of new hope.

So, book reviews... 

First is Just a Minute, by Wess Stafford, borrowed recently from a friend at church. It's pleasantly inspiring, easy reading, and filled with encouragement to remember, each isolated minute we spend with a child just might make all the difference in how that child grows. Examples range from famous to infamous characters, from Africans missions to American city streets, from deeply religious to simply kind and concerned. Enjoy these short snippets with cups of 1-star mild crisp coffee and expect to dip into this collection again and again.

Next comes a lovely children's picture book, Queen Emily's Enchanted Kingdom by Lee-Ann Graff-Vinson and her daughter Emily Ann Vinson. The pictures are bright, childish and seriously fun. And the story's a deceptively simple tale of streets paved with chocolate and the reason to beware what you wish for. Great fun to share with kids and grandkids, this lively tale should be enjoyed with a 2-star lively cup of coffee.

Slightly older children will enjoy Mike Evers' The Spirit Archer, a thoroughly modern tale of thoroughly old-fashioned values as a young teen, failing in school, follows the legend of Robin Hood to his Yorkshire grave. What ensues is a very pleasing evocation of history, high school, and the way things aren't so different from how they were. Truly enjoyable for kids and adults alike, this elegant novella might best be read with an elegant cup of 4-star coffee.

The short tales in A.F. Stewart's Killers and Demons are definitely not for the young or faint-hearted. But they're definitely intriguing, evocative, and very very scary. Gore, horror, and the sort of twists this author's famous for... enjoy these with a 5-star dark intense coffee.

Meanwhile, for those inclined more to mystery, there's Twice Bitten, Joe Perrone Jr's latest Matt Davis mystery. The bites are all too earthly in this tale, and the hard-bitten New York cop wasn't expecting to find snakes of the reptilian variety in his upstate New York fishing village. Great characters, fascinating contrasts, and well-balanced narration characterize all these mysteries, best enjoyed with 3-star well-balanced cups of coffee.

For a romantic change, Marie Force's Love at First Flight demolishes long-distance relationships and challenges more local ones when a murder trial goes wrong. It certainly raises some intriguing questions about fidelity and commitment, and it's a fun, exciting read to enjoy with a 2-star easy-drinking cup of coffee.

And finally a sweet lunch-time read for the romantically inclined is Lullaby in Lone Creek by Mary Manners, which I reviewed for Nights and Weekends this week. It's the second in her Lone Creek series and every bit as good as the first. Neat characters, pleasing location, and thought-provoking ideas, all packaged with the sort of sincere faith that acknowledges mistakes and believes God provides the chance to move on. Enjoy this one with a quick lunch and a 2-star bright lively coffee.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

6,000 words and reading too

I added another 3,000 words to Love on a Transfer yesterday. It's definitely growing. Tom's just met a girl dressed in pink, but she's really not impressed with him. Meanwhile I should be grabbing the occasional moment of sunshine to pull weeds (I did at least cut the grass), and using periods of rain to get on with housework. Or perhaps I should be reading...

One great virtual place to read is the World Literary Cafe. It's well supplied with books, book reviews, special offers, publicity options, writing advice, and even a place to sign up as a book reviewer. I try to review a couple of books a month with them, and my kindle's bulging at the seams with free books waiting for that "round tuit" to give me time to read them. So here are my April WLC reviews...

Emily's House, by Natalie Wright, is the first in the author's middle-grade/young adult Akasha Chronicles series. Fourteen-year-old protagonists break rules and fly from the States to Ireland to save the world. The mix of modern teen dialog and ancient mythology doesn't always work, but there's certainly something for everyone in this blend of science, myth, fairies, time-travel and more. Enjoy with a mild light 1-star coffee, but keep the coffee machine running. it's long enough to take more than one cup.

Meanwhile Deadly Reunion, by Amy Manemann, is the first of her Taci Andrews series. It's an easy-reading adult mystery-adventure where the protagonists never quite make it into the bedroom, and the parents of the missing child never quite seem as worried as they should be. Neither does anyone else as the story veers between important decisions like what to wear and eat or how to respond to threats of death. Like a midnight Oreo feast, this one's best enjoyed with 2-star easy-drinking coffee.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3,000 new words and counting...

I've tried stitching short stories together to make a novel. I've tried starting from the beginning and keeping going til I reach the end. I've tried writing character sketches and listing the high points of the plot. This time I'm trying a mixture of them all. The one thing all my attempts at novels have in common is I can't write anything more than the first few chapters till I've spent time chatting with the characters. The trouble is, my characters seem to share my memory traits, fixating on details that might not be important, forgetting stuff that will tie their version of events into somebody else's, and even, sometimes, shock horror, making things up. But we walk around the green together. I mutter to the blossom falling from the trees (and wish I still had a dog--so much more responsive to mutter to). Then slowly I realize, okay, this is how it came about and I settle down to write.

Tom still hasn't met Anne. He still thinks that photo on the company website really describes what she looks like. He's still believes he's in love with his best friend's fiancee. But things will change...

Meanwhile, of course, I keep reading. Too much time spent with my characters would surely make them and me dull. So here are some books to enjoy with your coffee this morning.

Divide, by Alexandra Lanc, is the perfect length for a single cup of coffee. Like a sci-fi Charles Dickens, the author creates a disturbing world where the "ghost" of past present and future reveals the truth in a protagonist's heart. Enjoy this with short sharp cup of 5-star bold intense coffee.

Apart from Love, by Uvi Poznansky, is more of a four-course meal. A full-length novel with character, shape and form, it tells of a young man whose mother was a musician, his father who deeply loved the mother, and the father's new young bride who looks remarkably like the absent mother. Full of vivid visual images and sensory reflections, the novel explores this triangle of loves through the eyes of the two younger protagonists, truth and falsehood reflected in their eyes and in their words. Enjoy a 4-star coffee with this rich, elegant, complex tale.

Sting of the Scorpio, by Monique Domovitch, is another tale of wounded love. Following on from Scorpio Rising, it follows the newlyweds from their arrival in New York, through years of struggle to that time when only one can succeed while the other supports. Corporate machinations, art and friendships intertwine in this tale--a novel that's hard to put down, for all that it feels like watching the world fall apart, and one that rewards the reader with a surprisingly pleasing resolution. Enjoy with a 3-star well-balanced coffee.

Flat Spin, by David Freed, keeps wounded love as a powerful defining detail in the character of Cordell Logan, Buddhist flight instructor turned investigator with a secret past as government assassin. He's a great character, easily able to support a series. If you like your mysteries to have style, humor, and authenticity, this is definitely one to enjoy with that 4-star elegant complex coffee.

And finally, I just had to slot this one into my reading list. On Dark Shores 2: the other Nereia, by J.A. Clement, extends the story begun in On Dark Shores 1, and continues to build an amazingly vivid fantasy world, filled with fascinating characters, complex motivations, intriguing mystery, and the threat of war. It doesn't finish the story by any means, but it finishes one part and certainly has this reader eager for more. Enjoy with a 5-star dark intense coffee.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Joy of Dragons

Being English, I have to have a soft spot for dragons, although, with St. George on our side, I suspect we'd be more likely to fight than to settle down and converse on the meaning of magic. What's the difference between being good at using magic, and being good at letting magic use you? Which shows more power, getting your own way, or being ready to wait for a better way? And what do you do when you want to be something you're not?
Today I'm joining in Jackie Gamber's blog tour for her Leland Dragon series. The second book, Sela, has just come out with Seventh Star Press. Redheart (book 1) was good, but Sela's even better, a smoother, steadier ride with convincing characters, teens who feel rejected, bad guys who feels empowered, dragons and people who think they know better than the stories the magic might tell, and mystery.

The mystery's still unfolding by the end of the tale, but like all the best series writers, Jackie Gamber succeeds in creating a complete story that works just as well whether you've read the earlier book or not, and feels complete whether she's written the third yet or not. That said, I'm eagerly awaiting book three. And...

...If you've ever felt you wished you were someone you're not
If you've ever felt like you're letting everyone down
If you've ever felt rejected and let down by someone you love
If you've ever felt like the task's too big for you...

Sela's a great book, full of wonderful lessons that slip from the story like flowers blooming where they're planted. These dragons would would make St. George sit down and talk, and we'd all be the better for it.

Jackie Gamber is the award-winning author of “Redheart” and “Sela”, Books One and Two of the Leland Dragon Series, now available! For more information about Jackie and her mosaic mind, visit http://www.jackiegamber.com
And meet Jackie elsewhere on the world wide web at:
http://www.lelanddragons.com

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Paper reading, computer writing, and WOW!

Wow! Willow Moon Publishing just offered me a contract for my first romance novel, Love on a Transfer. I don't know yet if I'll manage to add enough scenes for a print release, but they've said yes to the ebook and I'm definitely going to try.

This is me, dancing around the room...
thinking with awe that this is only possible because the publisher read one of my book reviews and invited me to submit something...
deciding perhaps I should post some more book reviews----these novels best enjoyed with good cups of coffee of course. (I hope you like the new coffee cup logo above!)

Just for a change, these books were all read on paper. But my writing's all done on computer. And once I've posted these I'll write some more.

This week's books start with Steve O'Brien's Redemption Day, and today, April 19th, is a perfect day to start posting reviews on this book. After all, it's the day when... well... lots of stuff happened in the US, and now there's a Supreme Court judge kidnapped, and homegrown terrorists trying to redeem their personal view of the Constitution. It's a smoothly written, fast-paced thriller with plenty to think about and a great mix of characters, best enjoyed with a well-balanced 3-star cup of coffee.

Next comes The Grievers, by Marc Schuster, one of those darkly humorous tales with an aching honesty that always remind me of 4 Weddings and a Funeral. Satisfying on lots of levels, it tells the misfortunes of a young man who's failing his future and his wife when he hears a school friend has killed himself. Selling his soul to save it, Charley ends up organizing an enormously disorganized class reunion and takes his first steps towards growing up. Drink a 3-star well-balanced coffee with this beautifully balanced tale.

Moving back in time, our book group meets soon to discuss A Gathering of Finches by Jane Kirkpatrick. Filled with historical detail it's very naturally told, and real characters' lives are given intriguing shape by the author's pen. Young Cassie marries and travels to the Western US in a misguided attempt to rescue her family. Never trusting those who love her, never fully able to love until she trusts, Cassie ends up in Oregon and the reader sees the forests slowly giving way to towns, roads and railroad plotting their course, relationships rebuilt as a garden's flowers are staked against the wind. Enjoy these complex lives with a 4-star elegant complex coffee.

And finally, just to prove I can read a book for myself before the last day of the month, I've just read Jim Butcher's Side Jobs, a set of short stories from the Harry Dresden Files, and great fun for this Dresden addict. Enjoy these dark tales with some bold dark intense 5-star coffee.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Religion, History and Science

I reviewed Caron Rider's The Silver Knight a little while ago and was delighted to be asked to host her on her Silver Knight blog tour with Lightning Book Promotions. When I read the title to Caron's guest post I was even more delighted. Religion, History and Science: My Favorite Topics she says. So she and I definitely have something in common. I'm delighted to "virtually" meet you here Caron, and I really enjoyed reading your post. I enjoyed Silver Knight too, with its intriguing blend of history and the modern-day paranormal. So, over to you...


Religion, History, and Science: My Favorite Topics

Religion is a touchy subject for people to discuss. Most take it very seriously and claim that what is written in the Bible is fact. Period. While others want proof. Since I'm a history buff and have taught high school history, I feel that I have a better than average grasp of the frailties of what we think we know. For instance, history is re-written about every 30 years. Why 30? Because that's when another generation has grown up, done some research, and put their own spin on what happened way back when. I always encourage my students (and now you) to never accept just one source for information. I know sometimes we only have one source, so hopefully it's the primary source (person who wrote it) but often it is only secondary sources (people who read it or heard it said). Of course, if we have two people who said they saw it, read it, heard it-that's even better. We have some substantiation. Many things in the Bible have to be taken on faith or just not believed because there is no evidence to support the claims.

What I really love is when different branches of modern science substantiate historical claims, especially those in the Bible. For instance, archeologists were looking for the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah. Based on the Biblical account, the cities were near the Dead Sea. They think they've found it and where they decided to dig, they located a shallow, oval clay bowl that would fit in the palms of two hands. Markings were engraved on the bowl, which were eventually determined to be astronomical. One of those markings was a long streak, which they took to mean an asteroid or comet. Since we can pin point dates according to star placements in the heavens, it was determined that this bowl was indeed dated to the time of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

In the meantime, environmental scientists in the Peruvian Andes and the arctic pulled ice cores to study. These two groups were not related to each other nor were they in contact with the archeologists. But they both found evidence that an asteroid had struck the earth at the time we're discussing. Based on the levels of asteroid evidence contained in the ice, they were able to pin point where it should have hit. The only problem was that there was no crater located where they thought it should be. However, because we know that asteroids can sometimes explode before hitting the ground, they decided that's what happened. Considering their location for the asteroid and the bowl's location for the asteroid were the same, it's a good bet they're correct.

Now when an asteroid explodes, it will push debris into the upper atmosphere that will then fall back to earth burning-incredibly hot. We know from the Biblical account that angels were going to destroy Sodom with "fire and brimstone." Now if you are close enough to the original explosion of an asteroid, the burning debris will be so hot that you can be turned to ash instantly. We know from the account as well, that Lot made it to safety in a cave but his wife paused to look back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Salt? Ash? She would've definitely been a pillar of something...not living. And the cities would have been obliterated.

So there you have it-the Biblical account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah substantiated by modern science.

Thank you Caron. I like that explanation. I've actually read a different interpretation involving the tar-pits the Bible mentions as being close to Sodom and Gomorrah. Again, it gives a scientific explanation that fits the story in the Bible. And again, like you say, we can't know exactly what happened in the past, but we can try to learn more about what happened. Inasmuch as that past  matters to us, maybe trying to learn more about it really ought to matter too.

For more information about the Silver Knight:
 


Caron's Website: www.caronrider.com

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/hk5rIBFue3A   

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Reading, watching soccer, and carrying on a conversation

My family think I spent too much time reading last weekend. But they were watching football (soccer) and I was enjoying myself. Not that I don't like soccer too, but reading on my kindle when soccer's on TV reminds me of those long-gone days of youth, back when I could do two, three, four things at once without thinking it odd. Reading, watching soccer, and trying to carry on an intelligible conversation... I'm not sure I can still do that but I tried every once in a while, when there was a dubious referee decision, when the ball flew just outside the goal... I'll leave it to the guys to decide how well I succeeded. Meanwhile, here are the books I read, and the words just flew by, straight into goal, assisted by good coffee. It was a fine weekend.

Brigitta of the White Forest by Danika Dinsmore is the first of her faerie tales of the white forest novels and it's a great introduction to a beautifully imagined world for middle grade readers. If the guys can get past the fact that there are fairies with wings, this might be just as good a series for them as for the girls. Teen Brigitta watches her friends wings change, indicating their destined tasks in life. But how much is destiny and how much just the consequence of free-will? When the forest suddenly changes while Brigitta's babysitting her sister, a new destiny unfolds involving maps and quests, good and evil, and the possibility that stories told in history might not quite represent the truth. Enjoy a 3-star well-balanced coffee with this thoroughly enjoyable and captivating tale.

And then, read the sequel. The Ruins of Noe is a slightly older, darker tale and a very fitting continuation of Brigitta's life. Now struggling with her apparent destiny as an elder, she and her great mentor Ondelle set off to save the world again, this time searching for the mystical Ancients whose care for the White Forest seems to be waning. Wild fairies, lack of trust, war and politics combine to make this a fascinating tale with wise lessons in honor and self-worth. Enjoy a 4-star coffee this time as the story grows more complex.

On Dark Shores, the Lady, by  J.A. Clement is another fantasy tale, this time set in a medieval world where the evil moneylender Copeland controls everything that happens in the small port of Scarlock. Nereia the thief strives to save her younger sister from the whorehouse, and Copeland sends ex-boxer Blakey to bring them back. I was thoroughly enjoying this tale when it suddenly ended, so now I have to wait for book 2. Enjoy some 4-star rich complex coffee but keep a pot on hand to drown your sorrows when the story doesn't end.

Next on my reading list was another fantasy, Sela by Jackie Gamber. I read an earlier book, Redheart by Jackie Gamber, a year ago and learned of some wondrous Leland Dragons. Like Danika Dinsmore, Jackie Gamber is creating a great series of standalone novels set in her mysterious world, and in Sela we meet the girl who thinks she's a dragon, or is it the other way around. Kidnapped, terrorized, and desperate to get back to her Leland home, Sela strives to make the best of whoever she is and finally learns to be all she can be. Enjoy this elegant complex tale with a 4-star elegant complex cup of coffee.

All this, plus, Sela is available as a free kindle download Wednesday and Thursday (18th and 19th). DON'T MISS IT! And I'll have another blogpost  about it on Friday 20th.

Finally, I've just read a thoroughly enjoyable science fiction story, the Annihilation of Foreverland by Tony Bertauski. Think Lord of the Flies for the computer generation, this was one I really couldn't put down, even when I'd guessed where it might be going. Enjoy with a 5-star bold intense coffee. Then watch soccer and enjoy innocence.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Justice, forgiveness and the Ninth Step

I'm privileged to welcome Barbara Taylor Sissel to my blog today. I read and reviewed her first novel, the Ninth Step, last week and really loved it--the sort of story that creates real characters with real courage and pains, then lets them respond to their own situations without ever lecturing the reader about right choices.


Barbara has written several novels, as you'll see below, and having read one, I'm eager to read them all. But perhaps I should let her tell you about them herself... Over to you Barbara, and thank you for visiting my blog.


Initially, when Sheila offered to host a guest post from me, I thought I would write entirely about The Ninth Step, the first novel I indie published last August. I thought I would tell how I was led to write the story … that it had to do with courage. I gravitate toward stories of real-life courage, where real people stand up in the aftermath of terrible tragedy. They not only stand, they triumph. They even forgive—or not. At the time that The Ninth Step was coming together in my mind, there was a news story about a man who did something awful that left a woman shattered and afraid. But she survived; she rebuilt her life. Then many years later, she heard from him. He asked her forgiveness for the thing he did. That wound he made, the one she spent years trying to heal. She had no idea what to do or even how to think about his request. Eventually she became angry. She couldn’t forgive. She wanted justice. The whole matter was reopened and it bled through a courtroom trial like a freshly inflicted wound. She endured the entire ordeal all over again. It was very brave of her, I think, but I wonder whether it was worth it for her. Did she find peace in the resolution?

It was in that question that I found the heart of story that is told in The Ninth Step.

But really, this issue is an overarching theme of my work … the fact that every crime has a victim and a perpetrator, and either way, there are families involved, parents, siblings, children. Families are the collateral damage of crime. I watched another story unfold recently on one of the crime shows, a woman’s brother was murdered. After his killer was sentenced to death, the woman ran into the street after the killer’s family. “Please tell me why he did this,” she cried. They kept walking. “Please,” she said in a lower voice. “I forgive you,” she finally whispered. It was amazing to me. But then the human spirit is amazing and so very brave.

So this is a lot of what fuels my fiction and it’s the central theme of The Ninth Step, which as I said is what I thought I would write about, and I guess I did! But before I close, I also want to share a piece of wonderful news I got recently. It has to do more with the publishing journey, and it’s really not off the topic of courage. To give a bit of background, as I said before, I published The Ninth Step in August of 2011 and shortly after that, I published The Volunteer and then The Last Innocent Hour. It was exciting, but I really had no idea what to expect. Not much happened at first and when sales grew, it was very gratifying. But in March, the dream of a lifetime came true when I signed with MIRA to publish two books. The first one, Evidence of Life, will come out in April of 2013 and the second in March of 2014. Here’s the thing though, as thrilled as I am, I’m also nervous, a bit scared. I see that venturing down this path will require courage. Granted it’s not quite the same courage that’s required by my characters, the sort it takes to survive horrible calamity, but still, it has me thinking about the changes in our lives, how even those that are as joyful as this one can be unsettling. I felt a lot the same way when I was expecting my first child, a bit unnerved with no idea what sort of mother I’d make. Suppose I was a total failure? It was like sitting at the top of a very tall, twisty slide where you can’t see around the curves, knowing there is no way to go but down. I was a bit scared then, but I couldn’t wait, you know? I feel like that now. Nervous but I can’t wait either! I hope you’ll join me as I blog here about this adventure over the next several months. It would be lovely to imagine a line of readers all ready to go down this slide with me. 

Thank you Barbara. I'm certainly looking forward to learning more of your adventure, as well as reading more of your books.

To find out more about Barbara and her writing, go to 


Free books, but please will somebody offer free time

So many books and so little time to read them all... I'm not sure when I'll find time for them, but I'm loading my kindle with more wondrous words today, hopping over to World Literary Cafe to browse their shelves of kindle books free today, then off to find a free kindle copy of Redemption Day (which I'll soon be reviewing).

For anyone wondering, Redemption Day is free from now till April 19 for a very special reason. April 19th might not be well-known like 9/11 or 12/7, but it's an important day in America's recent history of violence...

...the day in 1985 when 399 federal officers surrounded Jim Ellison's compound in Northern Arkansas, later convicting Ellison on conspiracy and weapons charges

... the day in 1993 when the FBI stormed the Branch Davidian complex outside Waco Texas, seeking their leader on illegal weapons charges


... the day in 1994 when Linda Thomspon called for armed citizens to assemble in Washington DC

... and the day in 1995 when one of Ellison's followers was put to death for murder, twelve hours after Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols ignited a truck bomb in Oklahoma City.

It should certainly be an interesting book and I'll plan to post reviews as soon as I've read it. But first I'll have to finish Sela, a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy novel and the sequel to Redheart, which I reviewed a year ago. I just found a site offering a chance to win both books if you're interested, http://azuredwarf.blogspot.com/2012/03/sela-by-jackie-gamber-giveaway-sequel.html. Lucky winners!

Meanwhile, does anyone know of a site where I can buy some free time for reading?


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Exploring the responsibilities of a YA writer

Yesterday I reviewed L.M. Preston's Explorer X - Beta, part of a fascinating YA series of books set in the future where teens sent to space camp end up questioning their own identity and the motives of everyone around them.

Today, thanks to Lightning Book Promotions, I'm honored to have L.M. Preston as a guest on my blog, discussing the responsibilities of writing for young adults. Publishers, parents, librarians, teachers, and of course young adult readers themselves all have ideas of what can and can't be included in a young adult book. L.M. Preston explains what ideas fueled the decisions made in writing this exciting series where teens are thrust into sci-fi action and adventure but remain real people with real feelings, fears and responsibilities.



THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF A YA WRITER

The issue at hand is that YA authors fall into two different camps in reference to what impact their writing has on teens. Issues like bulimia, cutting, sex, and suicidal tendencies to name a few taboo items affect teen thoughts. Therefore, it is believed that authors should write about these topics responsibly.


NO VIOLENCE OR RESPONSIBLE VIOLENCE?

Well, some authors have written books that contain violence that includes hunting and killing other kids, like Hatchet or Lord of the Flies. Was it needed for the story? Well some people believe so.

I believe that in the world we live in (at least the one I grew up in) violence is real and active. Although, some people have never had it invade their personal space, most kids and adults have. Kids, in my opinion, are smart and intuitive to their environment. In most cases have heard news stories that confirm the violent nature of man, and they have become somewhat desensitized to it.

When I wrote my MG book Explorer X - Alpha my 8yr old and 12 yr old beta read it. They told me not to hold back. They wanted the details of the character's struggles. When parents read Explorer X- Alpha, I got responses like, "All the kids do is fight. How come the kids couldn't find another way to solve their problems? Why did the kids become so violent when they played the video game simulations?"

My answer to them was...did you ever see a kid play a video game? They have no inhibitions or sympathy for their opponents. Heck,my husband annihilates our kids when playing video games with them, and I feel like a lamb to slaughter when my 8 year old cons me into playing with him.


NO SEX?

Alright, in writing my upper YA novel I struggled with how to write intimate scenes for the young main character. I personally don't see the point in added sex if it doesn't progress the story. Yet, when I was a kid, I remember reading stuff that wasn't YA and I skimmed over the sex parts without embarrassment.

Let's face it. Some kids are sexually active. Heck,their bodies are revved up on hormones that make them think about the opposite sex all the time. These are issues they don't mind reading about. However, in a YA book my personal thoughts are - keep it tasteful.


NO TOUCHY SUBJECTS?

Some would ban subjects like suicide, cutting, and drugs. These are real issues that our kids deal with on a daily basis. It doesn't matter if they are in the inner city or in the suburbs all of these things happen, and they probably know someone that is dealing with these issues.

Should a YA author romanticize these things. My opinion- they should not. But (yes there is a but) in cases where they want to show the perspective of a youth caught up with these activities in order to move the story forward then it makes sense.

For instance, a drug addict, is in love with their drug of choice. If you ask any of them they will talk like that drug is the better than sex or anything. Why do they do that? Well, because they are hooked onit. A writer would want to address this realistically.


MY THOUGHTS

I personally believe that YA authors should write about what kids are struggling with or dealing with. I don't believe they should be responsible for the censor of books. A parent should censor what they want their kids to read. Also, let's be honest - most parents don't care what their kid is reading - just that their kid is reading.

In addition, when I was a teen reader - I didn't just read YA. I also read adult books. I would bet that most teens today do this also.

Lastly, the YA author isn't the only one that reviews books for distribution. The process of writing a book, getting an agent, then a publisher, and lastly an editor, librarian, and booksellers vets the novel before it ever gets to the shelves.


Thank you L.M. Preston.
 
For more information, visit...
LM Preston's website: http://www.lmpreston.com/index.html
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/BduCdIuIp20 


I did it!

I did it! I finished my Infinite Sum and it didn't take infinitely long to write and edit it after all. But, of course, I already knew the characters. The protagonist, Sylvia, is the Guardian Angel Cat Girl from Divide by Zero, due to be released in July from Stonegarden. And Infinite Sum is her place to discover her story.

   Why did she let it happen?
   How did she not know who did it?
   Why didn't she say something?

Well, you'll have to read Infinite Sum to find out, and I guess it would have to get published first. So I've collected synopsis, query letter and chapter together into a file and emailed them off. I did it! At last!

I'm imagining an artist near that bench on the cover for Divide by Zero. She's trying to paint the pictures of her life, trying to remember what happened and why, and how it came to this...

Meanwhile, of course, I've been reading, and it's time to reward myself with a nice cup of coffee. Enjoy these books with your coffee...

First is Growing Pains: Kendra's Diaries by K.P. Smith (see yesterday's guest post). I didn't like Kendra much at the start and felt glad that I only have sons, but she grows on you. Keeping house, Cinderella style, while her parents bicker and the chance of a scholarship to a better class of High School seems always just out of reach, Kendra struggles to balance old friends and new, tries out for the cheerleading squad, and has a crush on a boy. By the end of the school year I'm hoping there'll be more. Enjoy a well-balanced 3-star coffee with this  nicely balanced tale.

Reconstructing Charlie, by Charmaine Gordon, is another tale of a teenager, though it's built on more angst and perhaps less realism. Suddenly thrust from an abusive childhood home to the splendor of relatives in a Chicago mansion, Charlie's innate genius, athleticism and beauty combine with money and gritty determination as she flies into the future. You might need a stronger cup for the start, but enjoy some lively easy-drinking 2-star coffee as the story progresses.

Staying firmly in the real world, Barbara Taylor Sissel's The Ninth Step tells the story of adults wounded by abusive childhoods. An opening scene is so beautifully and peacefully drawn that the reader is pulled into the rest of the tale, wholly trusting the author, with no knowledge of how things can possibly turn out well, yet convinced they truly might. I really enjoyed this book despite the human misery portrayed and recommend it highly for a well-nuanced take on the agony alcohol can cause. Enjoy with a 4-star rich, complex cup of coffee.

Explorer X Beta, by L.M. Preston is a children's novel, part of a series in which ordinary youngsters are sent to space camp only to find themselves thrust into extraordinary situations on foreign worlds. Genetically engineered without their knowledge, they rebel against a company that seems to think it owns them, and now they're living a version of Lost in Space crossed with Enders' Game and the Fantastic Four. It's a blend that works well. Enjoy this bright tale with some 2-star bright easy-drinking coffee. And come back tomorrow for a fascinating blogpost from the author.

Finally, J.A. Clements' short story, Parallels, the Black-eyed Susan, is a very pleasing tale of sailing ships and an evil money-lender. A quick easy read, best enjoyed with another 2-star easy-drinking coffee, it's certainly got me eager to read the rest of the On Dark Shores series.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A story to tell, by the author of Growing Pains

I've just read Growing Pains: Kendra's Diaries by K.P. Smith and I'm honored to have the author on my blog today offering some background to why she's writing this series for young teens. I'll post my review of the novel tomorrow, but for now, here's some information about the book and the author:

About Growing Pains:
 
Kendra Foster is just an ordinary girl trying to get through her growing pains. Join her for her eight grade year and the struggles she goes through such as her parents fighting, cheer leading tryouts, friendship ups and downs, first crushes, etc. Growing pains is a fun look at life and its ups and downs, its bumps and its bruises. But with perseverance, determination, and faith you can be all you were born to be.The authors goal is to inspire young adults to never give up and to not be afraid of being yourself.
 
About the author:
 
K.P. Smith has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Xavier University in New Orleans, LA. She also has a Masters in Business Administration with a Concentration in Marketing from Loyola University in Chicago, IL. K.P. Smith has a successful career in the Insurance Industry.
She has been an avid reader since her youth. Writing has always been a passion of hers. She is the author of the Growing Pains Series. The first book in the series is Growing Pains: Kendra's Dairies She is currently working on the second book in the series; New Beginnings.
She has recently started her own publishing Company Doin It Publishing. In addition, she developed a community outreach program Open Hands Open Hearts. She currently resides in New Orleans, LA with her two sons.
 
And now, over to K.P. Smith... with her reasons to write.

Everyone Has a Story to Tell:
 
Everyone has a story to tell. When we hear about problems in one’s life a lot of time it can be traced back to something or someone from their childhood. What is it about these formative years that can have such an impact on our life?

We are only considered “minors” for 18 years and if we live to at least 37 we have already spent over half our life in adulthood. So, can it be so difficult to shake off move past things that might have happened so long ago?

Do I have the answers? No. I don’t know if anyone does.  What I do know is because these are such an important time in someone’s life we should do all we can to help the youth during these critical years.

That is why I am writing the Growing Pains Series. Again, I am not saying I have all the answers but I went through a lot during those years and want to share and help all those that I can. Life happens sometimes no matter what we try to do. It is so true life is a small part of what happens to us. The key is how we respond.

This thing we call life is not a sprint it is a marathon. It is not made up of single destinations with our all our other days passing by with little or no fanfare. This gift of life, the joy and the fulfillment is all in the journey.
Here is to the journey!!