“The Freedom Conspiracy”: A delightfully entertaining Y.A. science fiction adventure

Who hasn’t dreamed of going to the moon or another planet, or living the adventurous life of an undercover agent? Emmerse yourself in the fictional world of The Freedom Conspiracy, by Nathan B. Dodge and you can virtually do both. This Y.A. novel has all the elements of a good space opera or spy thriller, with a teenaged hero who most young people will relate to. But you don’t have to be young to enjoy this adventure; this exciting tale may even make you feel young for a while. Its a really fun story to read; once you’ve started reading, you may not want to put it down.

Joel is a typical teenager, and life on the Moon is fairly routine, until he gets a coded letter from his father, who was on a government assignment on Earth. Before he and his friend Cary can make sense of it, they find themselves on the run from men who seem intent on killing them. With the help of a mysterious guardian angel, who appears out of nowhere in a nick of time, and no other choice, they borrow Cary’s dad’s Ziviano time jump ship and escape to Earth in search of his father’s friend Derek Wilson, who helps them to unravel the mysteries contained in his father’s message, but it isn’t good news. Joel’s dad has uncovered a conspiracy that goes all the way to top government officials. Now his dad is in trouble and it’s up to he and Derek to find and rescue him.

A hero’s journey that young readers will love. I give The Freedom Conspiracy five quills.

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 


“Keeper of the Winds”: A Classic Hero’s Journey

Keeper of the Winds
Keeper of the Winds

Keeper of the Winds, by Jenna Solitaire with Russell Davis, is not your typical story written by an author under a psuedonym. Davis writes this hero’s journey as Jenna Solitaire, in first person, present tense and nails the teenaged heroine’s persona. If you are an author yourself, you may realize that this is not an easy feat to pull off. Davis has created a character that young adult readers can relate to, making this powerful magical fantasy journey sure to be a hit with YA audiences everywhere.

Jenna lost her parents and grandmother early in life and knows little of her family history. Now she is burying the grandfather who raised her and he last living relative. When she finds a strange board hidden in her grandmother’s things and tries to use it, she awakens forces of power long dormant, setting off a chain of events that will lead her to her ultimate destiny. But, there are those who would steal the board and the power that it holds, and they will stop at nothing to eliminate all obstacles in their way. Can Jenna discover who she really is and master her newly discovered abilities before they can gain control of the board, and either take her captive or eliminate her?

A classic hero’s journey written with a compelling voice that makes Keeper of the Winds a young adult fantasy journey to remember. I give it five quills.

Five Quills

Keeper of the Winds is available on Amazon.

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“In the Shadow of the Clouds”: A Steampunk Romance

In the Shadow of the Clouds

In the Shadow of the Clouds, by Jordan Elizabeth is book 4 in her Return to Amston series, but it works equally well as a stand alone novel. It’s a top rate steampunk adventure with a dash of romance. I’m familiar with the steampunk worlds of this author, and always find her steampunk tales engaging and entertaintaining. (See my review of Runners & Riders, the first book in the series.) This story is no exception. 

For Bianca, life hasn’t been easy. After being ignored by her indifferent mother, being turned out into the streets by the madame of the brothel where her mother makes her living, and being sold off by her grandparents to be the bride of an oppressive man, it is no wonder she trusts no one and feels as if there is nowhere where she really belongs. But when her husband dies unexpectedly, she inherits his airship company and sees a way to provide a living for herself, if she can straighten out the mess he left it in. And she’s just headstrong enough to do it with the help of her handsome young pilot.

Charlie hired on as pilot in hopes of one day regaining the air ship company, which once belonged to his family, who were killed by cloud pirates when he was just a boy. He flies every trip with an eye out for an opportunity to exact revenge on those who attacked his family’s air ship so many years ago. He denies the feelings developing for his boss, but when cloud pirates capture Bianca and Charlie rescues her, he learns what truly happened to his family and why, he gets an unexpected surprise that could change his entire life.

In the Shadow of the Clouds is an exceptional YA tale of young romance and adventure. Thoroughly entertaining. This is one of those stories that leaves you smiling. I give it five quills.

Five Quills

In the Shadow of the Clouds is available on Amazon.

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Seeking Out Children’s & Young Adult Fiction in November

Children's & Y.A.

In November we’ve been seeking out children’s and young adult fiction on Writing to be Read. There are a few differences in writing for our younger readers from writing for adults. As authors, we are in a position to shape young minds, and that’s a big responsibility.

Fiction for adults relies on our words to paint a visual image for the reader, but stories for beginning readers rely heavily on illustrations to enhance our words for youngsters. Authors who have the ability to illustrate their own books may be at an advantage, because illustrations can be a sizable expense for authors like myself, who do not possess such abilities. (Long time Writing to be Read followers may be aware that I once tried to have the first book in the My Backyard Friends series published, but a halt was put on the project after a five year publication process, when the arrangement for illustrations fell through. So, I speak of this added obstacle for children’s authors first hand.)

My interview with author and artist Judy Mastrangelo talks about her Portal to the Land of Fae series and her other works, and shares several of the author’s bright and colorful illustrations. I found her work to be delightful in both text and illustrations in my review of Flower Fairies, and I’ve no doubt that her stories are enjoyed by both young and old.

Young adult authors are faced with a different dilemma, because the audience they write for still have the curiosity of children, but they are beginning to deal with adult issues in their lives, although they are not yet adults either. Controversial topics must be handled with sensitivity and finesse, because the Y.A. critics can be relentless, as is illustrated in this NY Times article about Y.A. author Amélie Wen Zhao.

On Writing to be Read, we looked at how Y.A. fantasy and science fiction author Carol Riggs deals with issues that might be frightening for adolescents in her Junction 2020 series on “Chatting with the Pros“, and saw how Jordan Elizabeth handles a dark fantasy story which deals with the controversial and often taboo topics of teen suicide, cutting, and depression in my review of Tabitha’s Death. Jordan also talks about the inspiration behind her fantasy novel, The Goat Children, which deals with the issue of Alzhiemer’s disease, on “Writing for a Y.A. Audience“.

Also in November, Robbie Cheadle also looked at the pros and cons of classic vs. contemporary children’s fiction on “Growing Bookworms“, and Jeff Bowles took a look at Disney’s new video streaming service, Disney+, on “Jeff’s Movie Reviews“, where we can find all the great tales of the Disney classics. What a great way to introduce our children to them, (or just re-watch them ourselves to indulge our own inner children).

In addition, we said goodbye to a great author, who was known and loved in the online writing communities in my “Tribute to Tom Johnson“. Tom was originally a pulp and science fiction author, but in recent years, he’s been writing children’s stories for the Wire Dog story collections. He will be greatly missed.

November has been a great month and we’ve explored a lot of children’s and young adult fiction. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself as much as I have. There is no theme for December, as I’m taking this time to breathe before the next round. I’ll be updating you about the changes that will be coming for 2020 on Writing to be Read,  reviewing a couple of books which didn’t fit under this year’s themes, and throwing in a few surprises. I do hope you’ll all drop by and check it out.


“Writing for a Y.A. Audience”: Are they real?

Writing for a Y.A. Audience

SPOILERS AHEAD

I was at a book signing in October. A woman came up to my booth and asked for a quick synopsis of each story. I was happy to oblige, and when I got to GOAT CHILDREN, the woman teared up.

Goat Children

I wrote GOAT CHILDREN based on my experiences taking care of my grandmother when she suffered from dementia. This woman’s mother was diagnosed with dementia. She went on to share a few examples, and I could identify with all of them.

The woman bought the book for her daughter, who feels alone while helping her grandmother. The other kids in high school don’t understand.

I went through the same thing when I was in college and high school.  My grandmother was “weird”. I was a “freak” for trying to take care of her. She was “scary”. Okay, the unpredictable moods were scary, but she was still my grandmother. Fear goes hand-in-hand with dementia.

After the woman bought the book and moved onto the next book at the fair, my mind kept returning to GOAT CHILDREN. It was one of my first books published and one very dear to my heart. Now come the spoilers…

The Goat Children are a mythical warrior class who the fictional grandmother, Oma, believe to be true. The main character, Keziah, can’t figure out if they are real or not.  The story provides glimpses into the truth behind the female warriors.

My grandmother believed in little people living in her fireplace and dancing in her basement. When we asked her if she was scared of them, she said no, they comforted her. The Goat Children comfort Oma too.

firewood burning in fireplace

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

At the end of the story, the grandmother and Keziah both leave Earth to live with the Goat Children. They are together and strong, and immersed in a world of magic both of them longed for. I decided to make the Goat Children real because I always wanted the little people to be real too, taking care of my grandmother, keeping her safe.

Jordan Elizabeth currently lives in the house her grandmother lived in. She’s still looking for the little people in the fireplace. You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.


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Chatting with the Pros: Interview with Y.A. author Carol Riggs

chatting with the pros

My “Chatting with the Pros” author guest today writes young adult fiction in the fantasy and science fiction genres. Her debut science fiction novel, The Body Institute, is currently being developed into a television series by NBC, which I think, is pretty cool. I met her when I reviewed Bottled three years ago. Since then, I’ve reviewed her science fiction novel, The Lying Planet, and she was a member of the author panel for the first round of the “Ask the Author” blog series in 2018, right here on Writing to be Read. Let’s find out what she has to share. Please help me welcome author Carol Riggs.

Carol Riggs author_smaller

Kaye: Please begin by telling us briefly about your author’s journey?

Carol: I began writing in the 1990s, took a 10-year break, and started up again in 2009. I met my agent at an SCBWI retreat and signed with her in 2011 for my 2015 debut, THE BODY INSTITUTE. Since then, I’ve published 7 more books.

Kaye: Why do you choose to write for young adults? Why science fiction and fantasy?

Carol: I enjoy writing about teens as they experience the road to individual growth and becoming an adult—navigating independence, romance, tests of courage, etc.  Sci-fi and fantasy appeal to me because I love making things up. Speculative genres give me the most room to be creative and use my imagination.

Kaye: What is your biggest challenge in writing for a young audience?

Carol: Keeping in touch with how a young person thinks and talks, sounding like a teen. My editor at Entangled Teen nails me on that, and makes me rewrite things that don’t sound authentic.

Kaye: Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

Carol: Nothing too unusual. I don’t listen to music or other distractions. I draft novels moderately quickly (3-5 months), and I write 1 or 2 books a year. I also keep my novels “clean,” with no profanity, gory violence, or sexual scenes. I prefer to make up my own slang and swear words, which don’t become outdated like modern teen lingo/slang/cussin’.

The Body InstituteKaye: NBC is developing your science fiction novel, The Body Institute, into a television series. That must be exciting. Tell us a little about the story.

Carol: THE BODY INSTITUTE is a dystopian sci-fi novel where the main character gets a job losing weight for other people—by having her mind downloaded into their bodies. It’s set in the near future where society is ultra health conscious. The TV series is using the book as a jump-off point rather than being a direct replica of the novel, which is okay with me. It’ll be fun to see where their creative minds take it.

Kaye: How much say do you have in the development process of the television series? Are you involved at all?

Carol: I don’t have any say at all, but that honestly doesn’t bother me. I’d rather spend my time developing new novels! Readers have the book if they want to explore what I’ve developed; the TV show will be a different experience entirely.

Kaye: Do you have a date yet for the series premier for The Body Institute to air?

Carol: As of yet, I don’t; the filming of the pilot show hasn’t begun yet. I’ll announce on my newsletter, Facebook, and Twitter (@CRiggsAuthor) as soon as I find out any developing news.

Junction 2020

Kaye: Most of the books in your Junction 2020 series have scary sounding titles: The PortalNightmare RealizationVanishing FearsSilent Scream, and Future Terrors. Is this fantasy series scary?

Carol: Some people consider these books “horror,” but it sort of depends on your tolerances. If you can’t stand spiders, for instance, don’t read THE PORTAL. Nothing is hyper-bloody in the series, though…no slasher-type nightmares or anything overly gory. I chose each characters’ fears to manifest in a way that would lead them to personal growth, a challenge to overcome rather than sheer horrible nightmares.

Kaye: How do you approach scary subject matter when writing for young adults?

Carol: I try to keep it emotional but real to each character, and I don’t make things gory. Depending on the teen, that could be totally un-scary, or it could be very unsettling. I try to hit somewhere in the middle, for the average reader.

Kaye: Are there certain subject matters that you wouldn’t tackle for a young adult audience? Why?

Carol: I don’t write sex scenes, gory violence, or profanity. I think there’s plenty of that going around nowadays in society (books, movies, etc.), and not having those things in my novels jives with my personal morals and my feelings about what I would want to (or not) read in a novel. I wouldn’t write about demons or the occult, either—too creepy and real.

BottledKaye: My favorite book of yours is Bottled, which I reviewed a few years ago. It is a fun and entertaining fantasy story. What was your inspiration?

Carol: Long ago, I used to watch “I Dream of Jeannie.” While BOTTLED isn’t that similar in plot to the show, I was inspired by the fun, magical atmosphere of the TV series. It’s my tribute to the show.

 

The Lying PlanetKaye: I also reviewed The Lying Planet. Tell us a little about this science fiction story.

Carol: I was lying in bed one night years ago, and heard a noise in the living room (it was probably the refrigerator). That became the germ seed for TLP, a teen boy on the planet Liberty who one night hears a noise in the living room and gets up to investigate…and then wishes he hadn’t. He uncovers an evil that rocks his world in the worst way possible. I’ve found that teen guys really seem to like this novel. It has lots of danger, adventure, and a degree of creepiness.

Kaye: The other thing I loved about Bottled was the fantastic cover. And the vibrant colors used for Lying Planet cover and those used in the covers your Junction 2020 series are eye catching, as well. The colors are wonderful and the designs fit what the stories are about. Do you design your own cover art or hire it out?

Carol: I’ve been incredibly lucky to get awesome covers for my traditionally published books. The JUNCTION 2020 series covers I developed myself in Photoshop, with the tips and suggestions of a writer friend who is also a graphic artist. I have a BA in Studio Arts, so I think that helps me have a bit of an eye for what looks good.

Kaye: What do you enjoy doing when not writing?

Carol: Walking, reading, working jigsaw puzzles, watching sci-fi and fantasy movies, going to the beach, and listening to all kinds of music.

Kaye: Writing organizations can be of great value to writers of all genres. You’ve been a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for many years. Would you talk a little about the organization and how you have benefited through membership?

Carol: Back in the 1990s when I first joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), it was super helpful. Submissions were sent to editors at publishing houses by postal mail rather than email (talk about slow!). There wasn’t the wealth of information on the internet that there is now, so the SCBWI was invaluable for honing one’s work to make it ready for editor eyeballs. I learned a lot.

When I returned to writing in 2009, an agent was almost mandatory to submit your work, and the SCBWI retreat I went to offered manuscript critiques for a fee. I actually met my agent-to-be during one of those brief, one-on-one meetings. SCBWI conferences are also great places to network with other writers, learn about the craft of writing, meet industry professionals, and talk about books all day. Some regions offer scholarships to attend if finances are tight.

Kaye: What is your best piece of advice for aspiring authors of young adult fiction?

Carol: If you love it, never give up. THE BODY INSTITUTE was the 13th book I wrote, after 350+ rejections and 11 years of writing and trying to become published. Surround yourselves with supportive writer friends to share the ups and downs. Keep learning your craft, persevere, and enjoy the journey!

Kaye: What can your readers look forward to in the future? What’s next for Carol Riggs?

Carol: A deal has just been signed for THE BODY INSTITUTE for an audiobook version, which is cool. I’m also working on a sequel to the novel, called SPARES. Ideas are springing into my head for a fresh YA novel, and I’m excited to begin imagining a whole new world for readers to explore.

I want to thank Carol for sharing here and answering all of my many questions. And thanks to all of you readers for joining us. You can find out more about Carol Riggs and her young adult science fiction and fantasy books on her website, her Amazon Author page, or her Goodreads Author page.

Next month, there will not be a “Chatting with the Pros” segment. In December we’re wrapping up 2019 and giving you a rundown of what’s in store for 2020. I plan to run this blog series again next year, so check back after the New Year for the first 2020 segment in January. I hope to see you all then.


You can catch the monthly segment “Chatting with the Pros” on the third Monday of every month in 2020, or you can be sure not to any of the great content on Writing to be Read by signing up by email or following on WordPress. Please share content you find interesting or useful.


“Tabitha’s Death”: a Y.A. novel that dares to journey into taboo realms

Tabitha's Death

Tabitha’s Death, by Jordan Elizabeth is a dark fantasy journey into death and beyond. This book is masterfully crafted to present the often taboo subjects of depression, cutting and teen suicide. Speaking as someone who has lost a son to teen suicide, I thought the subject matter was handled with sensitivity and tact. Even as a work of fiction, Tabitha’s Death carries messages many teens may need to hear.

Tabitha thinks she wants to die and tries to take her own life, but she finds it’s not that easy.  The Grey Man snatches her away from death and won’t let her die until she completes certain tasks for him. As she journey’s through the strange realms beyond death, she learns that there’s more going on beyond death’s doors than she’d realized and her life maybe wasn’t so bad.

A truly inspirational approach to Y.A. fiction, resulting in an entertaining, yet thought provoking story. I give Tabitha’s Death five quills.

five-quills3

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Writing for a YA Audience: The Truth about Libraries

Writing for a Y.A. Audience

“This looks great!”  The young woman picked up my book from the table at the craft show.  She read the back and took a free bookmark.  “I’m going to look for this in the library.”

I let her know which of the local libraries had the book.  Smiling, she left for the next table.

Across the aisle, a woman sold beeswax lip balm.  She shook her head at me.  “That’s a horrible thing for her to say to you.  She should have just bought it.”

Was it a horrible thing, though?

I hear from at least one person at every book signing I do that they’ll look for my books in the library.  I hear from other authors that it happens to them too.  It might sound like a bad thing.  The author isn’t  getting a sale.

Here’s the truth –borrowing your book from the library isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, it’s a great thing.  That person is reading your book.  That’s what all authors want: someone to read the book.  Someone who borrows a book from the library has a limited time to keep that book in their possession, so they’re actually going to read it in a timely fashion.  If you buy a book, it might sit on your shelf unread for years.  That person who just read your book is hopefully going to leave a review.  Bad or a good, a review always brings attention to the book online.

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The reader is going to talk about your book in person too.  They’re going to tell all of their reader friends.  Those friends will hopefully buy or borrow your book.  The buzz about your book is growing.

The more people who take your book out from the library, the longer the library will keep your book in circulation.  They will also order your other books, because hey, you’re a popular author.

For everyone who says you don’t get a sale when someone borrows your book, keep in mind that the library did order your book originally.  Most libraries will be willing to have you autograph their copy and host a book signing.   Libraries are an author’s bosom buddy.

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Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author who is often at her local library participating in workshops or browsing the titles.  You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.

 

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Writing for a YA Audience: Author Photo Shoot

Writing for a Y.A. Audience

I’ve done a few photo shoots for my author pictures, and they are always so much fun.  I get to feel like a model.  For FANYA IN THE UNDERWORLD, we decided to do things a little differently.  Aaron Siddall illustrated the book and I wrote it; we both brainstormed the concepts.  Because this was a joint collaboration, we decided to have a joint photo.

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A good friend of ours, Monica Reid Keba, met with us at the Utica Train Station, known as Union Station.  The building is beautiful, with marble pillars and chandeliers.  Stepping inside is a little like going back in time.  Many of the fixtures are original from the construction in 1914.  I have a special fondness for the waiting room benches.  Not only do they incorporate the heating system, but they are gorgeous to look at.  The station was designed by Allen Stem and Alfred Fellheimer.  In case you aren’t familiar with those names, they are the architects who designed New York City’s Grand Central Station.

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Aaron Siddall and I posed on the benches, beneath the chandeliers, and outside.  The autumn day was crisp, with a light drizzle in the air.  I hiked up my skirt and scaled the side of an old trolley car.  We also explored the park next door.  The train station is located in the historic Bagg’s Square neighborhood.  The quaint park, surrounded by a stone fence, is home to the site of a log cabin known as Bagg’s Tavern.  This log cabin saw esteemed guests such as George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant.

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If you are ever in the area and love visiting historic sites, check out the train station and Bagg’s Tavern.  Your eyes won’t be disappointed by the sites.

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Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  She is most likely gazing at something in awe, something she will soon include in one of her novels. You can connect with Jordan – and point her in the direction of some paranormal activity – via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.

 

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Writing for a YA Audience: Books in the Library

Writing for a Y.A. Audience

“This is available at the library, right?’  I get that question a lot.

You should know that I talk about my books.  A lot.  I get excited and that passion spills over whether I’m at a book signing or conversing with a coworker.  Some people don’t want to buy books.  They might not like the book, so they don’t want to invest in the purchase, or they don’t want to have books cluttering their homes.  Whatever the reason, libraries are perfect.

blur book stack books bookshelves

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

If I’m asked locally, then I get to say yes, my books are available.  Other places…well…not so much.  That surprises people.

Here’s the thing about indie books.  Libraries don’t normally stock them.  They need a reason to purchase a copy.  This could be because you’re a local author, because you did an event there, or because someone requested it.

The best way to help out an author is to ask your local library to purchase a copy.  This is a sale for the author and exposure.  People are going to borrow the book, read it, and talk about.  There is no marketing tool as powerful as word of mouth.

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  She’s often wandering libraries looking for something to spark her interest…or she’s squealing over a treasure discovered in a used book room.  You can connect with her via her website

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