Category Archives: Kiss and Tell YA
A place where Teens, Authors, and Fans of YA fiction can talk about life, love, and the young adult stories that inspire us
From: Kiss and Tell
May 04, 2012 at 08:00AM
Happy Friday, everyone! Are you glad it’s the weekend? Today I’ve posted a review of Rebecca Stead’s young adult novel, When You Reach Me. If you enjoyed Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, you’ll LOVE When You Reach Me.
Synopsis: “Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.
But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:
I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.
The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.”
Genre: Young Adult—contemporary, light sci-fi, time-travel
First Sentences: “So Mom got the postcard today. It says Congratulations in big curly letters, and at the very top is the address of the Studio TV-15 on West 58th Street. After three years of trying, she has actually made it. She’s going to be a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid, which is hosted by Dick Clark.” I must admit, this book didn’t grab me from the very opening. Once I kept reading for a little while, I slowly got into the book more and more. The voice is what kept me going, even when in the beginning the plot didn’t keep me intrigued. For those who plan to read it, I suggest that you don’t give up and set it down too quickly.
Brownie Points: I love Rebecca Stead’s voice—it was strong from the very beginning and by the end of the book I really felt like I knew the heroine, Miranda. She and her friends were compelling and interesting. Also, despite that the story takes place in 1978, I never once felt as if the time period of the novel was being thrown in my face, which I find can sometimes happen with historical novels. In When You Reach Me, the setting and time period comes second, as it should, to the characters, plot, and overall story. Because of this, the setting only added to the novel; it did not detract.
Beefs: Directly after I finished When You Reach Me, I was so pleased with the ending that I didn’t have any beefs with the book. However, looking back now, I wish the plot in the beginning had been slightly more compelling. This is just a matter of personal taste—though I ultimately adore character driven novels, I like action packed plots, and at the beginning of this novel there wasn’t quite enough action for me.
Ending: The ending of this book was PHENOMENAL!—by far its best part. All the mysteries of the novel became clear in the end in a way that was totally unexpected to me. I could not have predicted the ending, but I also couldn’t have been any more pleased with it. One of the testaments to Rebecca Stead’s abilities is that she’ll keep you guessing throughout your whole reading experience. Though I was sad for the story to end, the ending was my favorite section of the book.
Recommendation and General Comments: This novel is truly like a puzzle. At the beginning, you see all the scattered pieces and you might not be very interested in working to get to the finish line. But if you keep going, the picture starts to slowly come together, and you become more and more intrigued until at the very end you’re on the edge of your seat, waiting to see the whole picture. When You Reach Me may start out on the slower side, but the strong voice of the novel hooks you and will keep you reading until the grand finale.
I loved this novel and I recommend it to all who enjoy the young adult genre, especially those interested in light sci-fi and time-travel. Despite that the novel pays homage to Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, even if you didn’t enjoy L’Engle’s work, you’re sure to love this one.
If you’ve read the novel and would like to include your input, or if you have a recommendation for a similar novel, please share your thoughts with us in the comments! =)
From: Kiss and Tell
May 02, 2012 at 08:00AM
Happy Wednesday! It’s our first post of the month and it’s my pleasure to introduce my friend and agency sister, author Melissa Landers. Melissa and I first became acquainted through our agency’s email loop–we share the same fabulous agent!–and right off the bat the first thing I learned about Melissa is that she, and her writing, have an amazing sense of humor. I think you’ll find her post shows just that. My response to Melissa’s question: personally, I am an overachiever, always have been and always will be. Can’t wait to hear your responses to Melissa’s question in the comments too. Enjoy!
Academics vs. Slackdemics by Melissa Landers
The end of the grading period—otherwise known as Reckoning Day—was always a tense scene in my house. My mother would scowl at the perfectly respectable sampling of B’s and C’s on my report card and proclaim, “You could be making straight A’s if you applied yourself!”
I’d blink up at her innocently and argue that I wasn’t smart enough to achieve such a lofty goal. I’d claim math was too hard, or the teacher didn’t like me, or I lost my textbook. Of course, my mother was no dummy. She’d scold me for my lack of effort and ground me Until Further Notice. (Which was a crazy long time.)
In all honesty, Mom was right. I could have made straight A’s if I’d wanted to. But you know what? That would have required the dirty, dirty W-word: work. Bleh!
I simply wasn’t motivated by letters on a piece of paper, and let’s face it—who prefers pouring over essays and homework assignments to playing outside, gabbing on the phone, or watching TV? Not this gal. So for the rest of my public school career, I continued my pattern of academic mediocrity, otherwise known as Slackademics.
But as karma is won’t to do, it kicked me in the caboose. I graduated from college, earned my teaching license, and spent the next decade attempting to educate hundreds of slackers just like myself. Don’t get me wrong—I had some phenomenal students over the years, but the majority were content to do the bare minimum, and that drove me nuts. What goes around comes around, eh?
Cara Sweeny, the main character in my YA debut novel, ALIENATED, is my polar opposite. A hardcore overachiever who takes competition to a whole new level, Cara stages an “academic ambush” to secure the title of valedictorian. Little does she know the title comes with the responsibility of hosting the nation’s first extraterrestrial exchange student, the alluring and mysterious Aelyx from planet L’eihr.
See what happens when you apply yourself? J
How about you? Were you an overachiever, an underachiever, or just an achiever?
Melissa Landers is the author of ALIENATED, a seriously foreign exchange coming in 2013 from Disney Hyperion. You can learn more about Melissa on her website, and she’d love for you to add ALIENATED to your Goodreads bookshelf!
From: Kiss and Tell
April 27, 2012 at 08:30AM
By Sheryl Kaleo
Last Friday, K&T Sheri talked about keeping goals, and it got me thinking about making them and what kind. I do set big goals, although I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to write a check to myself for a million dollars like Jim Carrey. But it took a lot of confidence to get me past the point of self-doubt and the nay-sayers.
I’ve had some amazing things happen in my life to give me that confidence to shoot for the brass ring even when the odds are against me. One such incident was a kick-butt moment in my life that has stuck with me to this day.
I’ve blogged about learning how to ride a motorcycle in college. So some of you know I’m not the daring, adventurous type. Not then, not now. Roller-coasters terrify me, and I’m an accident waiting to happen on a bicycle. But after I got my first taste of riding a motorcycle, I felt like the coolest klutz ever to rumble around the college-lined streets of Boston. Except for the day of my, ahem, moment.
On a bright summer day, mid-afternoon, I was out running errands. At one stop, I parked my bike in the only available parking spot—on a slope between two cars. Not that I wanted to, but I made an impression. There were a bunch of guys hanging out in front of a convenience store. I know it sounds wimpy, but at the sight of those guys, I almost left immediately.
See, there are two things that happen when a girl pulls up on a bike—guys stare, then they wait for you to walk by so they can make those delightful comments that construction workers call entertainment. Many guys act like they think it’s hot that a girl rides a bike, but unless they ride a bike themselves, they’re usually not really excited about it. What’s worse is—I was definitely built like a girl, and the muscle bike I rode would have been big for a high-school football player.
I had about eight pairs of eyes on me as I got off the bike, shoved my helmet on my forearm, smoothed my hair into it’s tie, turned to walk away . . . and forgot to put the kickstand down. That’s the little thing on the side that holds the bike up.
Did I mention that bike outweighed me by the heft of a small elephant? Now, I’ve seen this happen to other biker guys, and usually someone would run over to offer a hand. This pack of guys didn’t budge. They didn’t laugh either, but I swear I saw a few of them settle against the wall, arms crossed, as if waiting for a show . . .or for me to ask for help.
The only thing going for me? A few minutes of instruction from the motorcycle-training course that showed us how to pick up a bike, even if it’s bigger than the rider. They claimed it was all about using the right muscles and leverage. Good, because I was not a muscular or big girl.
The problem was, the odds weren’t in my favor. I was parked on a hill, between two cars, and I was shaking so hard, my hands were a blur. And never having had anything like this happen before, I didn’t know for sure if I could do it. While those courses tell you how to do it, they don’t exactly let you practice putting scratches on the training bikes.
I remembered what the instructor had said, “There are going to be times when you’re going to need to do this ‘cause you’re all alone.” I just hadn’t realized all alone meant there’d be a dozen guys standing watch thirty feet away. They also say, “Before picking up your bike, ask for help.” Yeah. Right.
Here’s where my moment began. I put down my helmet and turned my back to the bike—I know doesn’t sound right, does it? Then I bent at the knees, making sure my feet were securely under me, gripped my hands on the frame and fork like they’d shown me, then straightened my knees. Not looking at the guys. Not thinking about how much heavier this bike was than me. Not thinking about how much worse this could be if the bike went sliding down the hill under the next car, I kept going.
Seconds passed, but they stretched like hours. I felt the bike lift, lighter than a backpack full of my freshman year college books. Inch-by-inch, I righted the bike. Once it was up, I turned, lowered the kickstand, and finally exhaled.
My knees were still wobbly, but right at that moment I could have jumped up and yelled Huzzah!
But not me. Not with the pack staring. I straightened my jacket, tucked my helmet back on my forearm and swung my hips as I walked by the pack, not sparing any of them a glance. No one said a word.
I felt from that day on, that if I could lift a bike heavier than me, on a slope, by myself, without putting a dent on the two cars beside me—well, I really could do anything, couldn’t I?
So how about you? Can you point to a moment when the odds were against you, when others obviously thought you couldn’t do it and you did? Am I alone in dreaming big and setting big goals? Do you set your sights, put your back into it, and heave?
For more on learning how to ride a motorcycle the right way, visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Website for courses near you.
From: Kiss and Tell
April 25, 2012 at 08:00AM
Hey, everyone! We have a review of Ally Condie’s young adult dystopian novel, Matched–the first novel in the Matched trilogy. I hope you find my review enlightening if you’re interested in the series. Enjoy!
Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.”
Goals… to dream or not to dream.
~ Sheri Adkins
“You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures.”
Charles C. Noble
So, what’s your goal? Your dream? Do you write them down or do you keep them locked away in your heart? I’m only asking because I’m really struggling with my goals. I want to do better about setting them, living them and hopefully achieving them.
Personally, I don’t write down my goals. I worked at this place once (a terrible sales job where I was supposed to sell memberships to an RV campground—don’t ask!) where the sales staff had to write down our sales goal for the week. I thought it was really stupid, but I did it because I had to. My boss would say, “A goal not written down is only a wish.”
I have to say I was one of the more successful sales agents there, so maybe there was something to that writing down of my goals.
But now that I have true goals—not ones I just made up for my boss—I can’t seem to follow through with them like I want to. Other than the continued blessing of health and happiness for my family, I want nothing more than to be a published author—to hold a book in my hand that has my name on the cover. Yes, writing is its own reward. But creating characters and stories that only exist in a file on my computer is like making a meal that no one will ever eat.
I’ve made significant steps toward my goal, but I keep getting sidetracked by so many things. I can’t stick to any sort of discipline that would help me achieve my goal. As I’ve mentioned here before, my hubby and I run a funeral home. I never know what my workload will be. Ten people could die this week. Or no one could. Who can know? It makes it hard to stick to a daily writing schedule. Not to mention the kids, with their homework, sports and other activities. Friends call and I want to talk to them, of course. They wouldn’t understand if I said I couldn’t chat because I was writing, right? The school calls because they can’t get anyone else to volunteer as Junior Achievement Instructor for my son’s class this year—well, what kind of mother would I be to say no? Even my local writing chapter, the members of which would all understand the value of writing time, needs a volunteer to coordinate our annual conference and after much grumbling, I agree to do it. Why? Why do I sabotage my goals?
A very astute friend of mine made an observation the other day, which was the catalyst for this blog post. I was commenting on the frustration I feel at myself. “Why,” I asked her, “Can’t I stay focused on my writing goals? Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by things that don’t benefit me at all, things I’ve committed myself to but I don’t even enjoy. I almost don’t recognize my own life sometimes.” She told me to think of a goal as a missile—something zooming through the air toward a target. If that missile is off course by even one degree, it won’t reach the target. You don’t really even notice the one degree at first, but if the error is not corrected, if the missile is not brought back on course, it will just fly off into space. Into nothingness. It’s so much harder to bring the missile back to its target once it’s way off course—you have to pull it back as soon as you detect that one little degree.
In other words, nip these obstacles in the bud!
This really resonated with me. I fly off course in almost every aspect of my life. Even when I’m cleaning. I’ll say to myself, “I’m just going to get the living room straightened up.” But then I take something to one of my kids’ rooms and see something in there that needs done, so I do it. Before long I’m cleaning up their mess and I never actually get the living room straightened. I even do this when I’m running errands—a trip to the dentist leads me to think of ten other things that I should do while I’m out. Before I know it, a simple appointment turned into an all-day excursion. I have no discipline!
So, I have a new determination. I have to bring my missile back on course. I’m going to start writing down my goals (who knows, maybe that old boss was onto something!) and I’m going to think of my goal as a missile. That’s why I’m writing this blog today. I seriously want input! Give me some advice on how to stay on track, how to keep my goal-missile on course. What do you do to make your goals and dreams become reality? Help me!
From: Kiss and Tell
April 18, 2012 at 08:30AM
There are three things on this earth that Olivia Jane Kalb loves: books, baking, and her two fairly unlovable cats. Since the sight of blood makes her faint, being a veterinarian is out of the question, which leaves two possibilities for her future career: editor at a New York publishing house or a bakery owner. Fortunately, she is also a year-round volleyball player, making all that reading and baking manageable. She very much hopes you read Going Too Far because she’s quite sure you’ll fall in love with the characters as much as she did.
~Olivia Jane Kalb
Jennifer Echols has written a believable and relatable tale about two people, a 19-year-old cop and rebellious 18-year-old girl, falling in love while running from their painful pasts. But what really makes this book so memorable is that it’s focused on a railroad bridge.
Written in 2009, “Going Too Far” is Echol’s third young adult romance; the first two being “Major Crush” and “The Boys Next Door”, which are both romantic comedies. Echols also writes adult romantic comedies.
“Going Too Far” is about Meg, who has led a very troubled life since she was 13-years-old, and a cop named John, who is obsessed with the railroad bridge in town because of a past incident.
One night John finds Meg on the bridge with a few of her acquaintances and her boyfriend Eric. He sets out to teach them about the dangers of trespassing on the train tracks by forcing them to ride along with the firemen, paramedics, or him during their spring break.
And guess who John chooses for himself? You got it. Meg, who, as you can imagine, is oh-so-happy to be missing her spring break.
At the beginning of the book, Meg was just your average outcast. She purposely didn’t have friends, her dad wasn’t very nice, and she was extremely snarky. But as the book went on I got to see beneath that hard exterior and see the damaged, scared girl beneath the tough outer shell. Seeing who she truly was really helped me to empathize with her.
One thing I definitely feel sorry about is her dad, because in my opinion, he is a huge jerk. But I guess that he has a bit of a right to be one. I mean, she’s put him through a lot, with arrests, drugs, and alcohol, and she doesn’t seem the slightest bit repentant to him.
During their night rides, Meg and John connect through fun times at her parent’s restaurant “Eggstra, Eggstra,” arresting drug traffickers, pointing out all the places to “Park,” and through his final lesson where he shows her a horrific car accident.
Through these nights and events, Meg and John help each other finally let go of their pasts and start living life to the fullest (please excuse the corny cliché).
I really loved how Echols created their romance through the way they interacted. They are pushing and sparring with one another. The characters felt real to me; they would be confident one moment, then awkward and self-doubting the next.
Their relationship was not only funny, but it was also adorable and passionate. One of those passionate parts I loved was when John found Meg in a car with Eric, her non-boyfriend boyfriend, and his reaction, a mix of hurt and anger, had me swooning.
My favorite time reading about John, however, was when he met up with his friends at Mickey D’s. Most of the time, he’s pretty mature. But in this scene, he’s so adorably 19-years-old.
“Going Too Far” is a truly wonderful book. It’s witty and filled with real characters that I can actually relate to. Echols did one heck of a job on this book. Sigh, oh, how I want my own John — and Meg as my friend, of course.
As if I didn’t love Jennifer Echols enough, I was lucky enough to score an interview from her. Jennifer Echols is the author of romantic dramas for MTV and romantic comedies for Pulse. She currently lives in Birmingham. Visit her on the web at http://www.jennifer-echols.com
7 Fun Facts about You:
I am running my first marathon this Sunday! I am very stressed out about this. I would like this to count as 5 facts, which works out to 1 fact every 5.24 miles.
I never played sports in high school because I was a band geek (and I’m still very proud to call myself that).
I was born in Atlanta, not Alabama, which proves that Wikipedia is sometimes wrong. I have been a lot more leery about Wikipedia since I discovered this error!
Now a little deeper…
I’ve never read a Young Adult Romance like ”Going Too Far” before. Where did you get the inspiration for such an intense story? Did you get ideas for the book from real life situations you’ve been in or people you’ve met?
The girl who sat next to me in the oboe section in band was dating a very young cop when she was a junior in high school, and I guess that stuck with me. I made sure there are towns that employ 19-year-old policemen before I wrote that into the story. I’m always on the lookout for places where adulthood and childhood clash, because that puts a lot of stress on the characters an creates an interesting novel.
I noticed in your acknowledgements you said your editor, Jennifer Heddle, pushed you where you were scared to go in ”Going Too Far,” I’m curious what you meant by that. Curious to know what the original manuscript looked like and what changes she encouraged you to make? Would your book have been so deeply emotional or would the characters have had such serious issues like their fears about death, through the bridge for John, and cancer for Meg, if it hadn’t been for your editor?
The main change I was talking about was that she told me to add the beginning of chapter 14, in which Meg tells John (and the reader) what actually happened when she was diagnosed with cancer. I always knew this happened, but I didn’t write it in the original manuscript because I thought readers would not empathize with Meg and would be turned off by how she acted. My editor and her assistant both felt otherwise. They really wanted to see this scene. After I wrote it, I knew they were right. I think it makes the book more powerful.
You write two distinctly different styles, both which I happen to love equally. Do you have to be in a particular mood to write either, or does your editor tell which mood you’re going to be in? Do you prefer either style over the other?
There are three genres, actually. I write teen romantic drama (like ”Going Too Far”) and teen romantic comedy (like my latest book, “The One That I Want”), and I have some adult romantic comedies coming out next year. What I’m writing has nothing to do with my mood and everything to do with what the editor has purchased. Here’s what happens: when you finish writing a book and turn it in, you write a proposal for a new book in the same genre. The proposal usually consists of the first three chapters plus a description of the whole book. If your editor buys it, you write it. If your editor doesn’t want it, you don’t write it, or you try to sell it to a new publisher. It is like constantly being threatened with getting laid off. This is why, when people tell me they want to be novelists, I make sure that they have also considered majoring in engineering.
Do you get attached to your characters or do you forget about them once the book is done? Because John and Meg stayed with me for a long time after reading the book!
I get so attached to them while I’m writing them that they’re with me all day, even when I’m not putting pen to paper. But after I’m done, I try very hard to move on to the next project. I never go back and read my finished books unless I absolutely have to.
From: Kiss and Tell
April 11, 2012 at 08:00AM
I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working as a writing partner with romance author Lisa Sanchez since mid 2008. If there is one thing I know about her, its that she is always good for a laugh. Whether in-person or in-writing, Lisa never fails at making people smile with her quirky, upbeat and fun humor. You can see evidence of this in all her adult novels, which you can check out here–please note the books I’ve just referenced are for ADULT audiences only. Because Lisa, and her writing as well, is so upbeat and fun, I know that when she does choose to discuss some serious, difficult issues that what she has to say is important. Today, she is going to be discussing a serious teen issue addressed in her upcoming young adult novel, Ex Factor. Thank you for discussing this difficult topic, Lisa.
Dictionary.com defines the word “invincible” as: incapable of being conquered, defeated or subdued. This particular adjective is often used to describe our favorite characters in defining moments during battle, as well as the darkest moments of despair. Oftentimes, in fiction, and in real life, we see something I like to refer to as the “Live Forever Mentality” sitting right alongside the aura of invincibility. These character traits make for great reading in our favorite books, both adult and
YA. We love to see our favorite hero/heroine charge into a situation outnumbered, out-gunned, with no hope in sight, and against all odds, come through the circumstance on top, most often with their love interest at their side. Of course, we love these types of stories, or I should say, I love these types of stories because they buck reality, give me a short reprieve from the hard truths life throws at us. Because the truth of the matter is, no one is invincible, and as much as we’d like to think otherwise, we aren’t going to live forever.
My oldest daughter is seventeen and recently graduated early. Her senior year was a happy one, and marked with many memorable events, save one. Midway through the year one of the boys in her class got behind the wheel of his car after drinking a heavy amount of alcohol, flipped his car, and died. The student body was devastated, the city full of grief over the loss of one of their own at such a young age, and I was reminded, once again, just how short this life we’re given really is.
As mortal beings, the grim reality is this: we risk our lives every time we take a step outside our doors. It’s a crappy truth, but one we need to give credence to, nonetheless. This holds especially true for teens. I watch my daughter while she’s behind the wheel of her car. I see the fearlessness in her eyes, the excitement blazing in her brown peepers when she steps on the gas. I remember well the feeling I see coursing through her: power. Power to make her own decisions. And freedom. In gaining her license, she feels like she’s gained an all-access pass into the adult world.
But, just like that old dude said in Spider Man “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Truer words were never spoken. As adults, and as parents, it’s our job to make sure the younger generation can safely harness the new “power” and “freedom” they’ve been granted, and use it in a way that won’t harm themselves, or others. Driving fast is reckless and risky. Driving while under the influence is downright deadly.
It was this type of “Live Forever Mentality” that prompted me to start my current WIP, a contemporary YA that deals with the heavy issue of drinking and driving. Tentatively titled Ex Factor, the story is told from the heroine’s point of view (Nev), and follows her as she recovers from the loss of her father to a drunk driver. Floundering in a new town and a new school, Nev forms real friendships for the first time, and finds she has more in common with the hot guy who’s been mean to her than she could have ever imagined. I’m currently about 30k words in, and hope to finish in the next month, barring any major interruptions. With three girls and a busy schedule, anything can happen, lol!
Thanks so much for letting me share my thoughts on such a heavy issue with you all. Weigh in with a comment and share your thoughts on the topic.
From: Kiss and Tell
April 05, 2012 at 12:01AM
When I first heard about Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, I’ll confess, I didn’t have any intention of reading it. Come on, I thought. A book where teens are chosen for a reality television fight to the death? How could the author possibly pull that off?
But after the 532nd person told me the book was awesome, I figured I should give it a try, if only to see why no one else realized how ridiculous the premise was. So I got the book. This just happened to be during a time in my life when I was incredibly sleep deprived and had an attention span of about two seconds. But once I started The Hunger Games, I couldn’t put it down.
I loved many things about it, but the one that really stood out was Katniss. I loved how strong, smart, and unapologetically pragmatic she was. I’ve written before about my deep, deep hatred for heroines who are too nice, like the author is afraid that if the heroine dares stand up for herself, the reader will think she’s mean. Katniss definitely didn’t fall into this category.
Because I loved the book so much, I rushed off to see the movie on opening night. Despite watching the trailer way too many times, and telling everyone I came in contact with how good it looked, I was worried the movie wouldn’t live up to the book. I was especially worried they wouldn’t get Katniss right.
For the most part, I was happy with the way Katniss was depicted in the movie. In fact, I thought the movie was amazingly true to the book. Those people from the capital looked exactly the way I pictured them. And Lenny Kravitz as Cinna? Inspired casting.
SPOILER ALERT–IF YOU’RE ONE OF THE FEW PEOPLE WHO HASN’T READ THIS BOOK, DO NOT SCROLL DOWN.
But there was one part of the movie I had a teeny, tiny issue with, and that was Katniss’s relationship with Peeta. I loved the complexity of her feelings for him in the book. The way she appreciates him for saving her life with the bread and resents that feeling of debt. The contrast of pretending to be head over heels in love with him for the benefit of the audience when she’s only just beginning to trust him.
I felt like a lot of that got lost in the movie. Part of it is a matter of the format–in the movie, unlike the book, we can’t hear what Katniss is thinking. But there is one place where I thought the movie could’ve benefitted from following the book a little more closely.
I’m talking about the scene just after Katniss and Peeta think they have won, when Claudius Templesmith announces they’re changing the rules yet again and, actually, only one tribute will live, not two. In the book, Katniss sees Peeta taking out his knife, and she reacts by instinct, pulling out her bow and arrow and aiming for his heart. And then she realizes he wasn’t trying to kill her–he was throwing his knife into the lake.
From there on out, the book and movie are similar, with Peeta telling Katniss to kill him, Katniss refusing, and then, finally, the gamble with the berries that wins the victory for both of them.
It’s only a few paragraphs in the book, but in my mind, it was a huge change. Because the book showed Katniss’s strength. Yes, she had started to develop feelings for Peeta, but that didn’t mean her survival instincts disappeared. Love didn’t make her stupid.
What about you? If you’ve read the book and seen the movie, how did you think they compared? Is there anything you would’ve done differently in the movie? If you’ve only read the book, are you planning to see the movie? If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, what’s stopping you???
From: Kiss and Tell
April 04, 2012 at 08:30AM
Ushering in the month of April and our theme of Final Exams is our special guest Eileen Cook. I happen to think Eileen is adorable. If you don’t believe me, read her books or, for the moment anyhow, check out her author page on her publisher’s website, here. Her latest book, Unraveling Isobel, is “a darkly comic novel that blends paranormal mystery and romance with humor.” And an earlier book, Unpredictable, is being turned into a movie! You go, Eileen!
~Suzanne Kaufman Kalb
Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in six different languages. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her latest release, Unraveling Isobel came out in Jan 2012
You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at www.eileencook.com. Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.
EILEEN COOK ON FINAL EXAMS
I’ve always been a worrier. The curse of a vivid imagination is that you can almost always imagine something that would make the situation worse. This is great for writing fiction, but tends to make my real life a bit anxiety filled. If there is a sudden lurch on a flight, you can count on me to grip my armrest, mentally picturing the wing suddenly falling off of the plane. Strange noise in the middle of the night? Zombie apocalypse. Hacking cough and sniffle? No doubt the beginning of Ebola. Knowing how I can take worrying to a professional level, you can imagine how I might have dealt with final exams.
No matter how well I did in a class I was always certain that the final exam would be my undoing. At long last it would come out that I hadn’t learned a thing all term. It might even be worse; it might prove that I actually didn’t know anything at all. I would be one of those medical freaks where they would do a brain scan and discover that all I had was a stunted brain stem. Doctors would be shocked I had the capacity to remember to breath in and out on my own let alone attend school.
Even though exams freaked me out I learned one of the most important things from them. It happened when I was in college. I’d stayed up until the wee hours to study fueled by copious amounts of caffeine- laden drinks and fear. I’d finally collapsed to sleep for a couple of hours before planning to get up again and cram a couple more hours before the actual test. When I rolled over I was surprised that I felt as well rested as I did. Then I saw the clock. I’d slept through the alarm.
The exam had started FIVE MINUTES AGO. I was missing it.
My heart stopped beating for two or three seconds. I leapt out of bed, shoved on my shoes, grabbed a couple number two pencils and bolted out the door. I ran full speed to the classroom dressed only in my pajamas. This might not have been all bad if I slept in cute or sexy nightclothes, but instead I looked like a homeless person.
My instructor didn’t seem surprised to see a frantic, jammie-clad, no makeup, hair a mess- student in the door gasping for breath. He calmly passed me the test and indicated that although I was late, I would not be given any extra time.
I don’t remember exactly how I did on that exam, but I did okay. That’s when I realized that the secret to life is that it is okay to be scared or worried, but the important thing is that you show up anyway.
I still worry. Worry comes second nature to me, but when I find myself starting to freak out about things that haven’t even happened yet I remember that final exam. You can’t accomplish anything unless you show up. The zombie apocalypse may never happen, but if it does I’ll at least come out swinging.
From: Kiss and Tell
March 30, 2012 at 08:30AM
When we think of luck, we think in terms of scoring some glittering piece of good fortune in our lives. Well, Nancy Taylor doesn’t believe in luck at all. She believes it’s all about how we handle what life dishes out. Thanks for sharing your story with us today, Nancy!
I started blogging shortly after my oldest son started cub scouts. During a pack meeting, another scout mom and I whispered and laughed most of the time. Her exasperated husband turned to me and said, “Why don’t you just start blogging or something?” So I did. But I didn’t tell him about it. He would have felt far too righteous about it. That was in 2008.
A year and a half later I discovered book blogging and tried my hand at it. I love to read and I love to write and I absolutely love to write what the voices in my head tell me (not the psychotic ones, mind you) because they make me laugh. They have no filter. I usually add a filter when I write my opinions and occasionally include my filter when I tell my stories. It’s rare, but it happens. So my regular blog, A Musing Mother had her first offspring; Amusing Reviews.
I am married to a man who patiently allows my reading addiction. We have four children who also love to read. We have bookcases in nearly every room in the house. I also stuff books under the sink in the drawers in the bathrooms. This is the best place to read. Don’t let anybody tell you different. Don’t tell anybody that’s where you read, though. It’s weird.
Along with books, our family shares our home with a calico cat and a yellow lab dog. Sometimes the dog makes me say bad words. We also recently added 5 chicks to our brood.
In my spare time I work as a guidance counselor at a high school.
“Are you lucky?” the DJ called out to the audience, “Or are you cursed?” A listener called in.
“My belt buckle says ‘cursed’ and it’s true,” she lamented. “I’m 22 years old and I’ve buried 4 boyfriends.”
“What happened to them?” the DJ asked.
“Two were shot by the cops, one was stabbed to death, and the other overdosed,” the listener explained. “I am cursed.” The DJ agreed with her, cracked a joke to lighten to mood and cut to commercial. I did not agree with the woman. I don’t think she’s lucky or cursed. I think she needs to find herself better boyfriends.
When I think about luck, I envision two images. One is a leprechaun, dancing around his pot of gold and chanting, “They’re magically delicious!” and the other is a lifeboat with no compass, no oars, and no sail. Just a small boat in the vast ocean dependent solely upon nature and the possibility of an ocean liner passing by. It is the feeling of being victimized over and over again and at the mercy of something that can’t be controlled. I used to feel like that.
I was born with a neurological disorder that nobody understood. I stuttered. Of course, nobody understood it was neurological, either. Well intentioned people would overstep their familiarity with me and suggest that I “slow down.” Like I hadn’t heard that one before. I still stuttered but then I became self-conscious of it. In junior high, a rumor was whispered that I had been raped by Ted Bundy (the big serial killer of the time) and had not recovered so I stuttered. I loved that one as much as I loved my new pimples that greeted me every morning.
It’s not that my parents didn’t love me and accept me. They did. At the same time, there were doctors, and trips to different states for tests, and therapy all in an effort to “fix” me. If I needed to be fixed, I must have been broken, you see. Children don’t see parents as people who love to the point of sacrifice. Like any other child, the world revolved around my perceptions. But worse than that was my older sister who took every opportunity to point out my flaws with relish. She poked my belly after I’d eaten and tell me I was fat. She reminded me daily that I was flat chested. She found the razor stubble on my legs, the pimples on my face, and the unfashionably straight hair. It was brutal.
During one of my parents’ attempts to fix my stuttering problem, I was flown to Houston and administered tests. By this time I was old enough to listen to the results and even mature enough to handle the observations. The team of experts each concluded that I was an unusually attractive young woman who is well spoken but a moderate stutterer. My I.Q. revealed that not only was I not stupid but I could join the Mensa Society.
Years later I was on a hiring committee when a man we were interviewing asked, “Do you know what the ten most important words in the English language is? If it is to be, it is up to me.” In retrospect, I believe that I instinctively understood this concept that day in Houston all those years ago. I sat at a crossroads yet it was not new. I was only recognizing that I always had a choice. The only difference was that I now had statistical data and opinions of professionals to back up a different plan.
Perhaps it was luck that I had the parents I had who cared enough to try to fix me. Maybe it was luck that I was given a sister who hated me for existing. Maybe it was luck that I was born with a creative neurological system that I allowed to define me for so many years. What I know for certain is that I changed my perceptions of myself that day. I allowed myself to blossom and make goals that had previously seemed higher than I could achieve. I stopped seeing myself as a victim of circumstance and started seeing possibilities.
In spite of or maybe because of my speech impediment, I became a gifted communicator. Verbal communication is still not my strong suit but I don’t allow stuttering to stop me. I work as a school counselor with teenagers that need to know they have choices. And I love it. I write eloquent emails and sometimes great blog posts. Not always but sometimes they resonate. What seemed to be my greatest flaw became a catalyst for my own turning point. Life wasn’t crapping on me because I was unlucky. Life was crapping on me because crap happens. Crap happens to everybody. How are you going to handle it?
I don’t believe in luck but I do believe in irony. My sister stopped tormenting me about my chest size a couple of years before she got a boob job. The man we interviewed who believed in making your own destiny? We hired him. We worked together for 15 years before he died of cancer last November. It took four bouts of cancer over 30 years to quiet his optimistic voice. Yet sometimes I still hear him inside my head.
And I feel lucky to have known him.
From: Kiss and Tell
March 28, 2012 at 08:30AM
Who better to tell us about a great YA read than a teen reader? Today, YA book reviewer, Alice, from Alice in Readerland, shares her review of Edens Root and an interview with the author, Rachel E. Fisher. Take it away, Alice!
I’m Alice, a young adult who reviews Young Adult books on my blog Alice in Readerland. I have an affinity for fairy tales and (of course) enjoy reading and writing, especially on rainy days and when I have my two cats next to me. When I write, I like my ink blue and my tea, lemon. Yes, I also do happen to like white rabbits. Join me in my adventures in Readerland at www.aliceinreaderland.wordpress.com
Eden’s Root Book Review
“It is 2033, and the world hovers on the edge of explosion as unexplained crop deaths lead to severe global food shortages. In the United States, the Sickness is taking lives slowly, creeping its way into every family. Fi Kelly has already faced the Sickness in her own family, toughening her beyond her years. But a shocking confession from her dying father will push her toughness to its absolute limits. Saddled with an impossible secret and the mission of saving her little sister, Fi sets out to transform herself into the warrior that she must become to survive the coming collapse. Along the way, she will discover that evil can be accidental and that love can be intentional.” ~ Goodreads description
Title: Eden’s Root
Series: The Eden’s Root Trilogy (Working Title)
Book in Trilogy: Book 1
Next in Trilogy: Seeds of Death (Working Title)
Author: Rachel E. Fisher
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
A gripping, realistic, novel set in the near future, Eden’s Root carries in it the external and internal journey of a girl, her family, and friends.
I’m going to spend this paragraph praising the main character, Fi, because if I could narrow it down to one reason to read this book, it would have to be her. Today there aren’t many strong female main characters in YA books, but Fi makes a marvelous exception. Fi is brave, kind, responsible, strong, and genuine. She has leadership skills, great card playing skills, reaches out to help others, and learns how to use weaponry to survive. You get to see Fi work. You get to see her with her nerves shot and you get to see her victorious as she stands up for herself and others. You get to see her prepare for what she needs to do and become who she needs to be. But perhaps my favorite thing about Fi is that you get to see her learn and grow without ever losing touch with who she really is.
The situation in Eden’s Root is though-provokingly realistic; after all, 2033 isn’t that far off from 2012, and we read about problems with food almost everyday. How many times have we seen food being recalled? Have you ever wondered what chemicals are being put in our food? What exactly are we putting in our mouth? Eden’s Root builds on this and more.
There were some scenes where I was just amazed at Rachel’s writing skills, such as when Fi is talking to her little sister. You can just feel the love the sisters have for each other and it’s genuinely sweet. The scene between Fi and her father, where he entrusts her with an eye-opening secret is unforgettable. It’s hopeful, it’s sad, it’s shocking, and the pieces start coming together in a well-crafted puzzle, hinting at what’s to come. This book will keep you turning the pages fast, right up until the satisfying ending. And, oh! The ending! I absolutely loved it. The events leading up to it pack a powerful punch and they have you holding your breath as you wait for answers. Rachel craftily leaves a surprise on the very last page that will make readers who have followed Fi’s journey smile (and look forward to the next installment of the trilogy).
Eden’s Root is a creative book filled with hope and survival, courage and strength, love and determination.
Look below for an interview I had with Eden’s Root author Rachel E. Fisher!
Me: How did you come up with the idea for Eden’s Root?
Rachel: Honestly, I have no idea. It must have been percolating in the back of my brain for a while. I had all this information about food and years of training in scientific research to work with, but where Fi came from I am not sure. One day she just sort of came to me and I wrote the opening and two other key scenes and then it just started flowing. Though, I do have to admit that I am a fan of apocalyptic sci-fi myself. I think that influence the type of story that I ended up writing.
Me: I love that you made Fi such a strong character! Do you think some of that comes from you having to be strong when you found out you had cancer? Are any of the characters partly based on you or people you know?
Rachel: I know that some of the coping skills I developed when I had cancer make their way into her story, like her reference to Pretty Dresses’. Despite being a grown woman, I still used the ‘Pretty Dresses’ strategy in the middle of the night to distract myself from dark thoughts. It made me think about the many ways that people get through things.
All of the characters are partly based on people I know. Most are a mixture of bits and pieces of many people.
Me: Why did you decide to write YA?
Rachel: I always loved reading YA, though I tended toward sci-fi rather than fantasy overall, I always loved teen protagonists.
Me: What were your favorite books and T.V. shows when you were a teen?
Rachel: I read absolutely everything but true favorites included everything by Madeleine L’Engle, who was like a hero. When I read A Wrinkle in Time in fourth grade, it changed me forever. My father introduced me to Isaac Asimov, which cemented my love of science-fiction forever. I also loved some silly series like Sweet Valley High, Nancy Drew, and Anastasia Krupnik. I read all the things forbidden like Dark Forces books and V.C. Andrews. I even hid my copy of Flowers in the Attic under my bed so my mother wouldn’t find it.
As for TV shows, MTV was huge (and it was still mostly videos) when I was a kid and teenager. By high school everyone was watching 90210 and Melrose Place, but one thing that really captivated everyone was The Real World. I remember being riveted by the first few seasons.
Me: What is your typical writing day like?
Rachel: Well, I am co-owner of a small business and that is my true ‘job’, so my writing needs to fit around the needs of the business. That mostly means writing on weekends or mornings or evenings. I am lucky that my schedule is very flexible so I’ve been able to find the time.
Me: Did you plot out exactly what was going to happen in ‘Eden’s Root’ before you started writing or did ideas just come to you as you wrote?
Rachel: It all started coming to me as separate ‘scenes’ that I would just write down as they came. So if I went for a run or took a shower or was even lying in bed, a scene would start coming to me and I’d write it down. At first I didn’t try to make it all fit together, I just let it assemble itself. I did map out my characters really early on. For example, I wrote about three pages just about who Fi was as a person when I started as a reference for myself. I never really needed to look back at it once I wrote it. It was like I’d already gotten to know her really well.
Me: Let’s talk about the cover art! Do you know the girl on it? How did you choose the cover art?
Rachel: I do now know the girl on the cover, though I am very grateful to have found a picture of her. I did the cover art myself because I am doing it all on my own. I knew what I wanted to project but it took a while to find photos and illustrations I could work with to make it right. I wanted to show Fi against the backdrop of the destruction. That was always in my mind. What’s funny is that the girl I found originally in a photo where she was smiling. It wasn’t the right tone but I was excited that she had brown eyes because most photos of redheads have blue eyes or green eyes. Of course I ended up choosing one where you can’t tell that, but it was how I found her.
Me: Eden’s Root is the first in the The Eden’s Root Trilogy. Can you give us a hint at what’s in Fi’s future?
Rachel: Well, in Eden’s Root there is some hint that Eden was not built just to save a few hundred people. It was built to help save all of the survivors, to help them to rebuild. It is the mission of Eden that humanity be able to reconnect, and you know that Fi can never resist a mission. Let’s just say that as the survivors across the country begin to rise from the ashes, not all of them will have the same good intentions for humanity as Fi and the people of Eden. New, unexpected threats will arise and new discoveries will be made that shed light on the cause of the Famine. Each survivor will have to ask him or herself Which side am I on and what am I willing to do to help my side to win?
Me: As you pointed out on your website, cancer touches everyone. If you could say one positive message to all of us who are going through cancer treatments or have family going through cancer treatments, what would it be?
Rachel: Wow, that is a tough one. Having been through it, I know that there are times that nothing anyone can say will comfort you. Not really anyway. What I would say is this. Hang in there. Know that you are definitely not alone, you have millions of people rooting for you. And finally, accept help, love and support from those around you. You need it, but they need to give it too.
Thanks so much Rachel, for allowing me to interview you! You can visit www.rachelefisher.com for more information on Rachel and Eden’s Root.
The Eden’s Root cover art shown in the beginning is brand new! Here’s another cover for Eden’s Root:
Beth Fantaskey is one of those authors I pull out of my back pocket when I’m talking about writers who turn the romance paranormal genre on it’s head. My gem authors do the unusual–they make me laugh, they make the fantastic realistic, and they make my heart break and mend again for the heroine and hero. Her first book, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on The Dark Side had me singing the “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” even as I fell in love with the hero. Beth’s books can be found here and here. She also has a free novella on her website that details Jess & Lucius’s wedding. So please join me in welcoming Beth to K&TYA!! ~ Sheryl Kaleo
by Beth Fantaskey
When asked to write on the theme of “luck,” my first thought was, “Pshaw! I don’t even believe in luck!”
(Okay, maybe I didn’t really think, “Pshaw!” But when I went to write down my reaction, that just felt right. Gave it some extra oomph, you know?)
Anyhow, my initial response honestly was to laugh off the entire concept of luck as about as real as leprechauns.
Then I thought about my writing process, and I realized that I am the most superstitious, luck-obsessed goofball I’ve ever known. How could I not see that some of my “habits” were, indeed, nothing more than efforts to harness the positive forces of the universe, or at the very least try to make sure that the good things in my life stayed good?
My first clue that I do, indeed, believe in luck probably should have been the fact that I tend to write while wearing a pair of “lucky socks.” These are thick, silk socks that earned their reputation after I wrote several of my favorite chapters while wearing them. Henceforth, I have to admit that I’ve made an effort to put them on whenever I need an extra boost during the work day. I even continue to call them “lucky” after wearing them during a terrible fall down a flight of wooden stairs, which resulted in me breaking my hand – a mishap that occurred largely because silk socks are very slippery.
Then there’s the fact that I always keep either a cup of coffee or a diet soda on my desk, on my left-hand side. I also place a 1965 Rodale Synonym Finder directly in front of me while writing. It MUST be centered on the desk. And I never fail to start every new chapter exactly 4.4 inches down the page, no exceptions. Last but not least, I begin every day – before I even check my e-mail – by visiting a series of websites that allow you to click and give to charities.
The idea behind that last one is to put some good out into the universe, both out of a pure desire to help others and – let’s face it – to get some good karma in return. But what, really, is karma if not… luck?
So call my efforts what you will: A karmic bargain, OCD, deeply ingrained habits… They’re really nothing more than an effort to obtain good fortune. If nothing else, my rituals give me some comfort and a sense of control over fickle destiny.
I suppose the true test of how much I really do believe in luck is the fact that, even having now assessed some of my own practices as a little nuts, I have no intention of changing them!
From: Kiss and Tell
March 16, 2012 at 12:00AM
By Shoshana Brown
A few years ago, I read HOW TO DITCH YOUR FAIRY by Justine Larbalestier. I loved this book. But I just couldn’t understand why the main character was so determined to ditch her parking fairy for a more “useful” fairy. How could she not appreciate the ability to find a choice parking space at any place and time?
And, okay, maybe my opinion on the matter was a tiny little bit colored by my personal issues. If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m one of those weird people who hates driving. And there’s only one thing I hate more than driving. Parking.
I am physically incapable of parallel parking. I plan large portions of my life around this issue, mentally scoring activities, restaurants, and the like based on the parking available nearby. Is there a lot that always has open spaces? Add one point. Add another if it has those big diagonal spaces. Subtract a point if it has huge support poles or too many compact spaces. And street parking? Acceptable only if there are enough open spaces that I can pull forward into a spot at the curb instead of backing into it.
What does this have to do with luck? Well, I have a friend who has the most amazing ability to find parking spaces. We could be right by the baseball park on game night, and he’d slide into a spot a block from the stadium. We could be cruising around a full lot with 50 other cars and he’d be the first one to find someone leaving. It’s like he wishes for a parking space and it appears before him.
After I read Justine’s book, I finally understood what was happening–he had a parking fairy. I tried to explain this to him, but he said he preferred to think of it as parking karma. He had some complicated explanation about how as long as he has no guilt over his interactions with the world, he is able to find a parking space anywhere.
Except, by actually watching him, I learned that it’s much simpler than that.
What does he do that I don’t? He cruises down the front row of the parking lot–the one closest to the crowded store–instead of assuming there won’t be any open spaces there. He slows way down so he can see people who are leaving, ignoring the impatient cars behind him. He takes charge, not automatically giving up a space because there are other drivers in the area eyeing it. And he might, every once in a while, make an illegal u-turn to get himself in position for a particularly choice spot. Also, he has a really small car. It makes a difference, people.
In the end, it’s not luck, karma, or fairies that get him good parking spaces, it’s a simple matter of going after what he wants and keeping after it until he gets it. Which I’m totally capable of. Just not in the context of parking spaces.
So how about that parking fairy?
What about you? Are there certain areas of your life where you need a little luck to supplement the hard work and perseverance? Any areas where you feel like you’re usually lucky? (If it’s parking, I may kidnap you and force you to work as my chauffeur.)
PJ Sharon’s writing has won many accolades and has been described as “uplifting and leaves one with faith in human nature in spite of all our troubles.” Her stories will make you pull out the tissues and in the end leave you with hope. Here at Kiss and Tell, we know PJ as an amazing writer willing to share her knowledge about the writing process and the publishing industry with her fellow writers. Her books can be purchased here and here. Her latest book, Savage Cinderella about a girl who’s forced by circumstances to survive in the wild will be available March 15. PJ will be giving away one of her books (reader’s choice) to one lucky person who leaves a comment on this blog.
~ Sheryl Kaleo (subbing for Suzanne Kaufman Kalb who apologizes that she can’t be here today)
Lucky Me by PJ Sharon
Thanks for having me here, today, Ladies. I’m honored to be among you wonderful writers and readers, and dare I say, I’m feeling lucky. People have told me all my life how lucky I am. I’m lucky I have some special gifts and talents, lucky to have found my soul mate in life, lucky to have happy and healthy sons, and lucky that I’m living my dream of being a published author. But is all of that really luck?
Benjamin Franklin aptly said “Diligence is the mother of luck.” I think he’s right. I may have lucked out when it came to inheriting some “smart” genes, and thank God I got passed over for the mental illness and alcoholism genes, but is all I’ve accomplished chalked up to mere luck? I don’t think so. As far as I’m concerned, and I believe Deepak Chopra said this, “luck” is a combination of “preparedness and opportunity.” I’ve worked very hard to overcome some pretty big obstacles. When my manuscript submissions were rejected a few dozen times, I could have said, “Oh, well, I guess I’m not good enough, or maybe my writing sucks,” but instead, I worked to make the writing as good as I could, and believed enough in my stories that I began to consider alternate ways of getting published. Was it lucky that Indie-publishing had taken off and was now a viable “opportunity?” You bet, but I also had to learn and study the business for about six months before taking the plunge, because self-publishing is anything but the easy way out. I had to “prepare” myself and it’s a ton of hard work.
I’m also of the mindset that we create our own luck. I write young adult fiction because I have some great messages of hope and a few pearls of wisdom that I wish someone had shared with me in my tumultuous and what I considered “unlucky” teen years. My mom died of cancer when I was sixteen, I was pregnant and a mom by seventeen, and I had a brother who committed suicide when I was twenty-two. Tragedy and drama seemed to follow me and it all seemed overwhelming and beyond my control. It took me many years to understand that although these trials were mostly out of my hands, some were not. I had choices about how I would live my life, and I needed to learn how to make better choices. And that included how I would deal with the things in life that were not within my control. Would I let the trials of life make me bitter, or make me better? Once I made that choice, and took the steps to learn how to make good choices for myself on a daily basis, my life turned around.
The characters in my books have some big obstacles to overcome and I love being able to help them through that process. Jordie in HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES loses her brother in the war in Iraq. When his best friend and fellow Marine, Alex, comes home wounded and blaming himself for her brother’s death, Jordie is determined that she is going to help him heal and find out the truth about what really happened to her brother. In ON THIN ICE, Penny has to deal with her mother’s cancer and tries to live up to the expectations of others. Her perfectionism and her need for approval are her downfall. Because of this, she makes some mistakes that cause her no end of troubles, but she finds the strength to get through it all and finds that she is not as alone as she thinks she is on her journey. And in SAVAGE CINDERELLA Brinn has spent half a lifetime in the wild after being kidnapped and left for dead in the North Georgia High Country. When she meets Justin, a nature photographer who befriends her and shows her that there is more to the world than fear and loneliness, she must decide if coming down from her mountain is worth the hope—and danger—that may await her.
One of the greatest parts of writing YA is seeing such enormous growth in our heroines and heroes. I think the reason that adults are also drawn to these stories is that the lessons learned along the way are universal. No matter how old you are, a message of hope in a world filled with trials and tribulations is a welcomed balm to our souls. We can each reflect on the journeys of our teen characters and identify with the lessons they have to learn along the way. For me, the most satisfying ending is not the happily ever after one, but the hopeful end that leaves us feeling lucky to have been part of those character’s lives through that one small part of their journey.
PJ will be giving away one of her books (reader’s choice) to one lucky person who leaves a comment on this blog. So be sure to leave a comment!