Trash for Teens?

man-258449_150What are your kids reading? What you don’t know may shock you. Book publishers trying to keep young people’s attention are taking cues from the sex-charged playbook of today’s media-saturated society.

Some books for young people are full of not-so-innocent material while making their way on to bestsellers lists and into your child’s hands.

Several books in the Gossip Girls series hit number one on the New York Times children’s book list. Intended for young girls, the series has been likened to “Sex and the City” for the younger generation. It details teen characters’ exploits in sex, money, drugs, alcohol, and other dramas of high society teenage living. Young readers are eating it up.

Another book, Rainbow Party, made waves among critics when it debuted earlier this year. The plot deals with the subject of oral sex and how a group of girls’ plans to host an oral sex party. Paul Ruditis, the writer of the book, states, “We just wanted to present an issue kids are dealing with.”

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.cbn.com/family/Parenting/BattleCry_TeenReads.aspx

Readers, from pre-teens through adults, also desire books depicting normalcy, dealing with matters we all face, especially as young adults. Readers want books that entertain while exploring life’s important questions.

My hope is that Ken’s War does that.

***

When teen hormones and culture shock collide. Get your copy here Ken’s War A new YA novel

ken's war coverNancy Springer, (http://www.nancyspringer.com) an award winning writer, wrote: “KEN’S WAR by Beth Fowler: Vibrant with authority as it depicts Japanese culture, American military life, and the angst of an Army brat, Beth Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion, mirroring the messiness of real life. Ken’s psyche includes a plethora of contradictory impulses, including an awakening sexual awareness handled with delicacy and tact by this gifted author.”

 

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TURNING BACK TIME by Tara Fox Hall

The struggle for enough time in any standard day of a successful, proven author is a given. Yet it pales in comparison to the frenzy of a new, yet-to-be proven author. There is advertizing, promotion, reviews, deadlines, book covers, links, blog posts, and a million other details that need to be at your fingertips with a few clicks. You’d need a Time Turner from the Harry Potter Books to get it all done. But Time Turners that really work seem to be in short supply. So how does a struggling author handle the stress?

Answer: get very, very organized.

First off, you’ll need to make friends with spreadsheets, either Excel or another type. Spreadsheets are not just for accountants; they are very a useful, necessary tool you will need to keep track of a minimum of things, such as the publishers and agents where you have submitted your book. If you’re past that stage, and have been published, you’ll still need spreadsheets to successfully promote your work, which is expected of all authors, both famous and not-so-famous. Even if you’ve published only one book, and you’re not sure if there will be a next one, this is important to do. If you plan on being a writer, there will be other books in your future at some point. Copying an existing spreadsheet of places to submit, complete with emails and feedback from your last round of submissions, is much easier than sorting through a ton of emails in your sent box to compile a fresh list of possible places to submit. If you have more than one book a year coming out, you’ll need to have multiple tabs on the spreadsheet, one for each book.

If you are asking for book reviews, you’ll have to keep track of who you asked, what they said, when this happened, and whether or not the book actually got reviewed. Trust me, this is very useful, especially when you last send out requests six months ago, and are wondering if you should bother submitting a new book to a review site that sounds familiar. You’ll want to know if they reviewed your last book, or never replied to a query you spent an hour or two crafting.

All promotiom—whether ads, blogging, interviews, or giveaways—also need to be tracked, the last just so that you don’t miss sending out a prize to a winner on time. Nothing alienates a fan like a coveted prize that never materializes. Have a file for all your frequently used files, such as book covers, so when one is needed quickly, you don’t have to try to pull it off the internet, or look through email. Customize your organization as needed when you discover what works best for you and what needs more organization.

At first, this will seem daunting. But when you’re rushed to finish a blog, hours from your deadline with your publisher, and you get that emergency email asking some random bit of information, like the word count of your second book, you’ll have it at your fingertips. Sometimes something small makes the difference between publishing and not publishing. Being organized will give you more time to write. And it’s far more reliable than trying to mystically turn back time.

Blurb: Grieving Krys Markman has come to lose herself in family memories at Letchworth State Park, and try to figure out her next step. Yet the unearthly beautiful music she hears each night stirs her soul to romance. Can its creator, the attractive vampire David Helm, heal her broken heart?

 

Excerpt: Krys sipped her wine flight, while looking around at her setting, marveling that so much was still the same, and still so beautiful. She’d been in these same surroundings so many times, yet they were still magical to her, even as their familiarity soothed her…

“Will you want dinner?” her waiter asked delicately. “Or would you like to try one of the wines you sampled?”

Where had the time gone? Krys had finished all three samples already. While another flight and more reminiscing sounded wonderful, it was better not to tempt fate, not when she had a hell of a climb in the dark to reach her rented house. “Yes.” She chose an entrée at random from the menu, then one of the wines she’d sampled.

As the waiter walked away, Krys noticed a tall man sitting by himself off in the corner. He was writing something by the light of the table candle. What was compelling was he was doing it in longhand in a small paper book instead of via electronic device. The act was so uncommon that she stared at him. Within a few seconds, the man raised his eyes and caught her staring, his dark eyes meeting hers. Krys immediately looked down, flushing. By the time she gathered enough courage to look up again, the man was gone, his seat empty.

The waiter came back, her wine on a tray. “We’re all out of the salmon, Ma’am,” he said apologetically. “Would you like to choose something else?”

The only craving Krys had was to find out who that handsome man had been. Food could wait. “There was a man sitting out here. Do you know who he was?”

The waiter shifted uneasily. “We’re not allowed to give out information on guests, Ma’am. Sorry.”

“So he is staying here?” Krys said hopefully. “Will he be here a few more days?”

The waited leaned down slightly, his expression secretive. “Aren’t you staying for a few days in Caroline’s Cottage?”

“Yes,” she answered conspiratorially.

“Then I’d advise you to get to know your neighbor during your stay,” the waiter said meaningfully.

Krys looked at him in puzzlement. “What?”

The waiter straightened, then set down her glass of wine. “Will you have another entrée, Ma’am?”

Comprehension dawned. “No,” Krys said, hastily grabbing her purse. “Put my drinks on my bill.”

 

 

Buy Links:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/445178

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Music-Tara-Fox-Hall-ebook/dp/B00KRTHDVS

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Music-Tara-Fox-Hall-ebook/dp/B00KRTHDVS

Melange Books: http://www.satinromance.com/authors/tarafoxhall/nightmusic.html

 

Author Links:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/TaraFH

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tara-fox-hall

Melange Books: http://www.melange-books.com/authors/tarafoxhall/index.html

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5286654.Tara_Fox_Hall

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tara-Fox-Hall/e/B005YPAA4W/

Website: www.tarafoxhall.com

Email: tarafoxhallATgmail.com

 

Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5286654.Tara_Fox_Hall/blog

 

Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Fox-Hall/151813374904903

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/TerrorFoxHall

NightMusic

Writing from the Beginning to The End, by novelist Stan Hampton, Sr.

Hampton writing from beginning to the end

Hampton writing from beginning to the end

Writing is a craft that each person brings different strengths and weaknesses to. We can read and study all we want, and while knowledge and skill is good, ultimately do we know how to tell a story with believable characters? If we cannot, then all of the reading and studying and grammatical perfection will not do us any good.

Some writers can have an idea and run with it all the way to The End while others have to plot everything out from Beginning to The End. That is okay—there are as many ways to write as there are writers. So, I will share how I approach writing a story.

 

The Boy and Girl Story

Beginning

Boy meets Girl

Boy likes Girl

Girl likes Boy

Middle

Boy gets Girl

Etc., etc.

Boy is dumb

Boy loses Girl

End

Boy gets Girl back

 

In simplified form we have Beginning, Middle, End, and key points within each section. Each key point is made up of various elements that also help propel the story forward. Of course, once I start writing I sometimes find myself altering the outline because of new ideas, and there are a few times when the story simply takes off in a direction that I did not anticipate—stories sometimes do that, you know. In either case I amend the above outline so that I have some idea of what is happening and I can keep my eye on the goal—The End.

I mentioned telling a good story. A story is more than colorful, awe-inspiring paragraphs strung together from Beginning to End. A story is made up of paragraphs, each of which propels the story forward, whether about a used car salesman, a football player, or a volunteer teacher in a school. Each paragraph builds on the previous, becoming part of a whole that, when the reader is finished, they close the cover (or turn off the device) with regret, yet happy that they read a great story.

Once the outline is established it is time to write a few words about the characters, meaning names, physical description, and personality traits. Write your observations of the way people speak, not only their accent, but how they pronounce words differently from you. Even write down your observations of hand mannerisms, the way people walk, or stand.

If I am writing a novel, then the biography is more detailed. I believe we are a product of our environment, therefore knowing where the characters come from helps explain who they are and why they behave the way they do.

This is all important because there is nothing worse than an otherwise good story being populated with flat, stereotypical characters. Each person is unique, and each of your characters should be unique. Make use of the biography of your characters—as the story progresses your reader will begin to unconsciously develop an image of your character as well as their mannerisms. Your characters will become real to the reader, and that is critically important.

And do not forget the background, the environment that the story is taking place in. That too impacts the story. A city or farm environment will have a different impact on the characters that they in turn will respond to.

Of course, the amount and type of information associated with your outline will vary depending on whether you are writing a short story or a novel.

Though I save much of the research on my computer I also print a fair share of it too. The research, outline, and background information go into a manila folder.

So, in a nutshell that is how I approach writing a story or novel.

But remember, no matter how much research and background development you put into your writing, do not forget to tell a story with believable characters. It does not matter if you are writing about the Roman Empire, the Crusades, the Civil War, or even a traveling shoe salesman, never forget to tell a story with believable characters.

Good luck and happy writing!

Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint).

After 13 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.

As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran, though he is still struggling to get back on his feet.

SSHampton_GatesOfMoses 2

“The Gates of Moses.” Melange Books, August 2012.

ISBN: 978-1-61235-440-8

 

 

BLURB: An engineer dedicated to saving Venice from the rising seas, fails in his task. As a severe storm and high tides threaten to burst through the flood walls, he resolves to remain in Venice with a ghostly lover who claimed his heart years before. A woman from his staff who loves him, does not evacuate, but remains to battle his ghostly lover before he dies in a sinking Venice…

 

EXCERPT: The dull booms, like the measured beats of a primeval heart, echoed through the gray drizzling afternoon. Each boom was a countdown to a finely predicted cataclysm that man, through his mistaken notion that he could control nature, had finally admitted that he was powerless to hold back.

Dr. Gregorio Romano, tall, with dark brown hair and watchful hazel eyes, stood before the open tall narrow window of his corner office in the ornate, gilded Ducal Palace of the once La Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, and peered into the gray drizzle toward the unseen barrier islands. The almost submerged islands of Lido and Pellestrina, with their channels opening onto the Adriatic Sea, formed the southeastern perimeter of the timeless Venetian lagoon. He listened to the echoing booms of the rising, stormy Adriatic, and thought of a mythical, prehistoric mother who gave birth to an imaginative species that dreamed of the impossible and often made it happen. And now the mother was ready to take back one of the greatest dreams of her children, ready to clasp it deep within her bosom.

“Gregorio?”

“Yes,” he replied as he gazed at the gray choppy waters of the lagoon.

“Have you reconsidered? Are you ready to evacuate?”

“Not yet.” Gregorio tilted his head slightly as a sleek dark gondola glided effortlessly across frothy, white-capped waters and halted before the flooded wharf, the Riva degli Schiavoni, in front of the Palace.

Patrizia Celentano, the first and last female gondolier of Venice, looked up at him and gave a friendly wave. He raised a hand in return. Her gondola was a traditionally built and shaped boat, but rather than the traditional black as required by law, she painted it a dark wine color. Though she offered to erect a shelter to protect Gregorio from the elements, he always preferred to ride in the open.

“We can evacuate you by force if necessary.”

“You won’t,” Gregorio smiled as he turned to face his computer on the polished wooden desk. The broad, bearded face of his boss, Dr. Niccolo Ricci, nodded in agreement. “There’s no need, and a helicopter is scheduled to pick me up from the roof of my home tomorrow morning at 0600 hours.”

“The calculations might be incorrect. The gates could break tonight…”

 

http://www.melange-books.com/authors/sshampton/GatesofMoses.html

Hampton can be found at:

 

Melange Books

http://www.melange-books.com/authors/sshampton/index.html

 

Musa Publishing

http://www.musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=50

 

MuseItUp Publishing

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/museitup/mainstream/better-than-a-rabbit-s-foot-detail

 

Amazon.com Author Page

http://www.amazon.com/SS-Hampton-Sr/e/B00BJ9EVKQ

 

Amazon.com. UK Author Page

http://www.amazon.co.uk/SS-Hampton-Sr/e/B00BJ9EVKQ

 

Goodreads Author Page

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6888342.S_S_Hampton_Sr_

 

Stop Barking! Tone and Facial Expressions by Mysti Parker

81Po2epTiXL._SL1500_By guest blogger & author Mysti Parker

Of the many things I learned from Deb Dixon’s “Goal, Motivation, Conflict” Workshop workshop, this quote stuck with me the most:

“You can do anything in writing, as long as you do it well.”

I struggle with describing how characters sound and their facial expressions. If I had a nickel for every time one of my critique partners said, “But how does (s)he sound when they say this?” and “What does his/her face look like right now?” I’d have enough money to buy a year’s supply of chocolate. But how often DO we need to describe facial expressions and tone of voice?

My conclusion: Not as much as you think.

As a critiquer, I notice wording and flow in a piece of writing more so than plots and character arcs and all that. More often than not, I see writers overusing things, whether it’s adverbs, passive voice, repetitive words, and yes, tone of voice and facial expressions.

Let’s see if I can show you what I mean with part of an impromptu flash fiction piece I wrote for Rebecca Postupak’s “Flash Friday”, not that this is a literary masterpiece in any shape or form, but here’s what I might do if I was TOO mindful of tone and expression:

Lana slid the crisp paper across the patio table. “Sign these,” she barked. “Why?” Joe whispered. His lips pursed as he stared down at the obnoxious logo: Burger, Smythe, and Villay, attorneys-at-law.

Her eyes became narrow slits and her voice sounded like two pots banging together. “All you want is your garden and your bush mistress.”

This is a snippet of dialogue, and I don’t know about you, but all those descriptions slow the pace for me. This couple is on the verge of divorce. The tension should move this along at a snappier pace. Take a look at how I really wrote it:

Lana slid the crisp paper across the patio table. “Just sign them.”

“You don’t want this.” Joe stared down at the obnoxious logo: Burger, Smythe, and Villay, attorneys-at-law.

“Why not? You left me a long time ago. All you want is that garden of yours and that silly bush of a mistress.”

Here we see no tone of voice and no facial expressions. What we do see is a different choice of wording to make the dialogue itself show us what these two might sound and look like as this little exchange is happening. In hindsight I think I could have also used stronger verbs to narrate their actions as well. Instead of “slid”, Lana might have “shoved” the papers toward him. Joe might have “glared” down at the logo and perhaps crumpled one side of the documents in his fist.

Readers will notice ANYTHING we use too often, so do your best to show what the characters look like and sound like by using strong, appropriate dialogue and action that fits the tone of the scene. Describe the tone of voice and facial expressions in moderation and also if they are important to what’s happening. For instance, if a character is lying, the tone of voice and facial expression could be tells that give them away.

Remember, the reason we read books as opposed to watching movies is so our imagination can join in and form the story in our own minds. If we feed the reader every single minute detail about how WE see the scene, their imaginations just sit there in the dugout and never get a chance to play.

Sitting_in_Dugout (1)For learning how to write tone of voice and facial expressions in fresh and new ways, I highly recommend Margie Lawson’s workshop or lecture notes on Writing Body Language & Dialogue Cues. She refers to some really good examples and includes some unique exercises to keep your descriptions from being blah and cliche.

Now go forth and write! ~Mysti Parker

31036_455754357815212_1296404459_nMysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her standalone Tallenmere fantasy romance series has been likened to Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey. Mysti’s other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She serves as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s seven week online course, F2K. Currently, she’s working on her first historical romance and has two children’s books in the hands of a hard-working agent. When she’s not writing, Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

 

Links:

Subscribe to my blog, Unwritten 

LIKE my fan page on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter @MystiParker

A Ranger’s Tale, Tallenmere #1 (Now FREE for Kindle!)

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Serenya’s Song, Tallenmere #2

Hearts in Exile, Tallenmere #3

 

 

 

 

Fantasy Well-Crafted for Middle-Grade Readers

Co-authors Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks launch into “Things Are Not What They Seem” without wasting time on background and descriptive junk readers of any age group dislike.The authors masterfully set the fantasy in present-day New York City, featuring regular, relatable kids.

 

This middle-grade fantasy adventure starts with, “When the pigeon first spoke to Jennifer that morning in the playground, she responded by pretending to examine something absolutely fascinating at the top of a nearby tree.” The pigeon speaks in precise British English, which adds humor to the situation, at least for my inner tween who found something grin-worthy on nearly every page.

 

Jennifer, who’s almost 13, is smart but not smart-alecky. She has a sense of humor, but never makes others the butt of her wit. She can be sarcastic, yet possesses a strong sense of right and wrong, compassion and a well-developed altruism. Like girls her age, she’s concerned about her appearance and what peers think of her. Being trustworthy is important to the tween. She’s a likeable and engaging protagonist. Her brother, James, provides some of the comic relief, often while bantering with the pigeon. Then there’s Sleepy, the sidekick with allergies. And of course, there are bad guys.

 

(Sometimes young characters use phrases – “come down on them like a ton of bricks,” – that I have trouble picturing anyone other than adults saying.) Chapter ends are written with page-turning finesse. The story keeps adults in their place, that is, the kids shine in the limelight. They face challenges, push the plot arc to the climax and back down to the satisfying and appropriate end.

 

Jennifer learns that the pigeon is actually a man named Arthur Whitehair, a 19th-century Englishman who’d been turned into a pigeon that will live forever by misreading an ancient spell meant to give him eternal life as a human. Likewise, an devious colleague of his, Malman, had been turned into a hawk by Whitehair’s mis-incantation. Jennifer, et al search for the manuscript of the spell so they can reverse it, turning Whitehair the pigeon back into a man.

 

Without becoming pedantic, the authors weave in Shakespearean quotes and Latin phrases, and there’s a nod to the Harry Potter stories, too. One senses a depth of history and tradition, without the burden of boredom.

 

Some scenes are reminiscent of classic Disney antics. Others remind us that the stakes are high. What young fantasy reader doesn’t love sentences like this one spoken by the aptly named Malman? “Mind me! I’ll rip out your throats and peck the eyeballs from your heads—dainty morsels that they are. Even your mothers won’t recognize you.”

 

With more than 63,000 words, “Things Are Not What They Seem” is longer than typical middle-grade books. Even though every scene has its purpose, I wonder if some could have been written more economically.

 

Things Are Not What They Seem unobtrusively incorporates important values, while never losing sight of the plot and always maintaining readers’ trust and interest. It’s a well-crafted fantasy for younger readers and their adult cohort.

Review by the author of Ken’s War.

 

 

 

 

What do teen boys like to read?

School librarian, Caroline Akervik, recommends the newly released YA novel, Ken’s War, for teen boys.

Here’s her review from her blog. (http://carolineakervik.blogspot.com/2014/06/review-of-kens-war-by-b-k-fowler.htm)

Review of Ken’s War by B. K. Fowler

Over the weekend, I had the great pleasure to read B. K. Fowler’s Young Adult coming-of-age story, Ken’s War. As a school librarian and the mother of two boys (and a girl), I am always on the lookout for books that will appeal to boys, particularly adolescents. I believe that Ken’s War will hold great appeal for teenaged boys who are looking for action and adventure and want characters to whom they can relate.
The story line of Ken’s War is complex. Set in the Vietnam era, Ken Paderson and his father have moved to Japan because his father, who is in the military, has been reassigned there. Ken is out-of-sorts. Struggling with culture shock, Ken is angry with his father for uprooting him and keeping him in the dark on many issues, including his grandparents’ death. His mother is, at first, out of the picture.There is a secondary story line about a budding but forbidden relationship between Ken and Yasuko, a young Nisei woman. This flirtation proves as fragile and as rare as a white macaque monkey.

Ken, like many young men, is struggling to construct an identity and make sense of his world. Adding to this heady brew of hormones and clashing cultures, are a smuggling ring, a martial arts master, and a revelatory trip home to the states.
Ken, like many adolescents, particularly ones whose families are going through changes, is at war with nearly everyone and everything, including himself. In the course of the novel, Ken comes to empathize with others around him, including his father, and to see the world through other’s eyes.

The strength in B. K. Fowler’s writing lies in her ability to capture the essence of an image or a moment. Ken’s War, like the potent taste of dried tea leaves on the tongue, lingers in one’s mind.

http://www.fireandiceya.com/authors/bkfowler/kenswar.html