Tag Archives: YA literature

What’s Up Wednesday

ButtonSmallNoBorder What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, which helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends to let them know what’s up. Join in by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

Crazy time again in the heartland. School is in session. My free time has whittled its way to nothing. And I met none of my long-term summer goals. The fact that I was sick the entire summer frustrates me, and I don’t let myself off the hook. Now, I enter my busiest time further behind than ever. Sigh.

Reading: I’m not going to address reading. First, I’ve left my Kindle at the university so I can’t tell you what I started reading. Second, who has time to read now?

Writing: The YA is still sitting in my tray. I am sooo close to completing these edits, but close simply doesn’t cut it. Argh! On top of school starting, we are also moving. We’ve been working on the house. We’ve been packing. Anyone get the sense that I’m overwhelmed? And as I speak lesson plans are screaming my name.

GOAL for August 22-27ready set write button



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IWSG and What’s Up Wednesday

InsecureWritersSupportGroupPurpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! (Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG)

Alex J. Cavanaugh’s awesome co-hosts for the July 3 posting of the IWSG are M. Pax, Karen Walker, and Melissa Maygrove.

Insecurity sets in when we are the most vulnerable. I’m well versed in this now because I have been sick. As a healthy person, the sick thing is not something I have had to do often and I have little patience for. I’m humbled by those who fight illness chronically. Ugh. Totally, NOT fun. In the first place, it does lower all your defenses. Not only was I low physically from the illness but convinced that I was the biggest loser on the planet for all the things I was not accomplishing this summer on my writing that I swore I would. In the boxing ring of insecurity I was beating myself up pretty good. Then, the medicine began to work its magic and logic took hold. My life has been in limbo for a year and given that I’ve done remarkably well just keeping my sanity, crucifying myself for not meeting arbitrarily set goals felt cruel and unusual even for a writer. 🙂 Thus, I have a new goal for the near future: be kinder to my inner writer. We experience enough judgment from the outside. Let’s not add to it.

What’s Up Wednesday

ButtonSmallNoBorderI spent another week lost to illness. Thus, if you read above, you know I’ve already beat myself up over the whole ‘what I didn’t accomplish’ thing. Mostly, I fought to get well.

What I’m reading: Nothing. I’ve been too sick even to read. Trust me, this was a first.

What I’m writing: I did get edits made to one chapter. I’m set to begin again now that I’m actually vertical.

For the week to come August 8-14 (OMG! Is it really time for classes to begin?)

Reading: I look forward to starting a new book. Haven’t decided if it will be fiction or non-fiction. Hmm. So many books…so little time.

Writing: FINISH EDITS OF THE GAP PROJECT.    ready set write button

I am frustrated, but I am undaunted.

Go me!

How was your week?


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Edge of Truth


Edge of Truth is a dystopian tale by author Natasha Hanova. Trapped in a world where she can never achieve more than the society has ‘approved’ for her, Rena Moon is a typical teenager. She rebels against everything from the Overlord to the Synbots to her father and aunt. Rena wants more and determines she can get more. The slight wrinkle to things is her ‘secret’. She’s an Other, one of those gifted with a hidden ability.

Like most girls she’s got a bestie, Blaze, and a crush, Nevan, and she has a lot on her plate. There’s the Solstice Celebration, avoiding her problematic little brothers, and her constant search for a way out of ‘Hollowdump’ as she calls her hometown. On one search into Westrock, she stumbles upon a treasure. That might be an understatement since Rena’s ‘Other’ trait is the ability to sense earthquakes. In this case, the quake unearths the cave of riches.

The fortuitous find represents freedom from the oppressive Overlord Andrick and the way of life she’s fought against. A reluctant Blaze agrees to help her market the treasures. Unfortunately, they don’t make it home before curfew and seek refuge from the Synbots at Nevan’s home much to Rena’s horror. Embarrassing moments pile up for her there, and she’s still got to face her father the next day. Rena’s grounding forces Blaze to go to market without her and attempt to sell the goods. This is Blaze’s strength and she does well. Both girls gear up for the Solstice Celebration now that they have outfits fit for who they really are, not who society has made them.

The first sign of a problem is when Rena shows up, but Blaze doesn’t. When it becomes apparent someone has kidnapped Blaze, Nevan joins Rena in the search for her bestie. Balancing her growing attraction to Nevan with her worry for Blaze and her guilt that her desire to leave Hollowdump is what caused her friend to go missing, Rena follows the path of clues. She knows her ‘directions challenged’ best friend is completely unable to lead her kidnapper to the cave and fears what he’ll do when he realizes it. What results is a suspense filled ride across uncharted territory during the ‘burn’, a dangerous sun without the protection of the ozone layer. Problem with her ability is she also causes quakes. She has to worry about and control her emotions as they search. This would be totally easier without Nevan by her side.

Rena is an independent minded female character, which is a huge plus in YA. Blaze is also a strong character although quite different from Rena. Nevan is the quintessential guy crush who can send a girl over the edge causing her to almost forget everything, even her missing bestie, by simply touching her hand. Power is at the heart of the book. In a dystopian society, it often is. However, independence and hope and loyalty win the day in Edge of Truth. The book is an edge of your seat roller coaster ride through a mine field, at the same time it maintains a sweet tale about friendship and first love. It’s a YA must read.

I received an ARC of Edge of Truth for the purpose of this review.


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Reading as a Writer

I stopped enjoying reading in grad school. Why? I used to read as a reader, getting sucked into the world of the book and enjoying every minute. Total relaxation. Then, I spent two years studying my craft. I quit reading the authors I used to read. I no longer enjoyed their books. I couldn’t have put my finger on it; I just didn’t. I read differently now. Every book is a lesson in craft.

I still have authors I enjoy, and I will read all their books. But now they teach me. One of my favorites has a new book out, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Have you ever picked up the wrong drink? You have an iced tea and you pick up hubby’s Coke by mistake? That OMG reaction your mouth has to that unexpected taste is what I am getting from this book. This is a good writer, but this book is driving me nuts. I want to tell my inner writer to shut up and let the reader just enjoy but…

We’ve all been told there are rules for a reason, BUT breaking them is also done for a reason. I’ve seen accomplished writers break rules and paid close attention in the hope that I could replicate that success. (still waiting) I’m a child of the sixties so I’m all about rule breaking but trying to break as many as possible in one book is too much for even a talented writer.

Some lessons a writer learns in reading are more painful than others. Such as, even our favorite writers, even those gifted in craft, make missteps. Has a favorite author ever let your inner reader down? (No names, please)


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YA Literature

I write both YA and adult but as a long time educator, YA is a part of my reading library. There are so many wonderful books and authors out there writing for young people. Here are some of my all time favorites:

Nineteen Minutes                            Jodi Piccoult (YA, mystery)
Being                                                  Kevin Brooks (YA Speculative Fiction)
Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters     Gail Giles (YA mystery)
*A Great and Terrible Beauty       Libba Bray (YA fantasy)
Catalyst                                              Laurie Halse Anderson (YA Contemporary)
*After                                                 Francince Prose (YA mystery) dark humor
*A Northern Light                           Jennifer Donnely (YA mystery)
Hate List                                           Jennifer Brown (YA contemporary)
The Ghost and the Goth                Stacey Kade (YA paranormal) humor (read the entire series – fun!)
Cryer’s Cross                                   Lisa McMann (YA mystery/paranormal)
Matched                                          Ally Condie  (YA Speculative)
Crossed                                            Ally Condie Sequel*
Wish You Were Dead                   Todd Strasser
*Double Helix                                Nancy Werlin (YA Speculative)
Little Brother                                 Cory Doctorow (YA Speculative) lots of techno speak
*The Morgue and Me                   John C. Ford (YA mystery) fun
*Flight                                             Sherman Alexie (YA paranormal) twisted and I loved it!
*Love You Hate You Miss You   Elizabeth Scott (YA contemporary) dark themes
Before I Fall                                    Lauren Oliver (YA contemporary with paranormal elements)
*If I Stay                                          Gayle Forman (YA contemporary) one of the best scenes I’ve ever read
*Thirteen Reasons Why               Jay Asher (YA Contemporary) dark themes
The Secret Year                             Jennifer Hubbard (YA Contemporary)
iBoy                                                  Kevin Brooks (YA Speculative)
All the Broken Pieces                   Cindi Madsen
The Fault in Our Stars                 John Green
The Hate List                                 Jennifer Brown
Here/There                                    Denise Grover Swank
Try Not to Breathe                        Jennifer R. Hubbard
Adult Books that appeal to YA
The Shack                                       William P. Young (adult mystery)
*Losing You                                   Nikki French (Adult, suspense/thriller)

*Change of Heart                           Jodi Piccoult (contemporary mystery with paranormal elements)

*I am the Messenger                     Markus Zusak (Defies description)
*The Little Sleep                            Paul Tremblay (Adult detective fiction) humor
The Five People You Meet In      Mitch Albom (Contemporary)
The Immortalists                           Kyle Mills
*Absolute favorites that I recommend over and over again. 🙂


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Ripple, Pulse, Flow…

One of my critique buddies, Natasha Hanova, has started a blog chain on the ripple effect. The premise behind the blog chain is for you to write this question at the top of a post, link it back to the person whose blog you read it on, answer the question, and invite others (consider this your formal invitation) to participate. Last, post a link to participant(s) who link back to your blog to complete the chain. For this chain, Natasha asked the following question:

Has your manuscript (WIP or completed) experienced a ripple effect, where one change affected the manuscript from beginning to end? If so, how?

My YA novel is about a girl who discovers she’s genetically engineered. This news sends her on the run from good and bad guys alike with the help of lifelong friends, Toad and Mayo. As I wrote the first draft of the initial scene with Toad, he stunned me by  “rolling into the room” behind Ginny. It wasn’t something I thought about in advance or planned. The character told me he was in a chair. That one small detail caused ripples throughout the rest of the book and has ramifications in the next books as well.

Some were big, leading to ample questions for me like how could genetic engineering be used to help him and how might that impact Ginny’s mixed emotions about her status as a “freak”? Some were smaller, happening within my world building, such as a ramp that her dad built on his back deck for ease of access since Toad was there…a lot. The one simple detail enriched both the character of Toad but also impacted his relationships with Ginny and Mayo, his history (how and when did he end up in a chair?), and complicated his ability to help Mayo rescue their best friend.

Ripples are amazing. They continue to pay dividends long after that initial cause. Check out Writes by Moonlight’s blog on Ripples.

I’m interested in hearing whether you’ve experienced the ripple effect in your work and if so, how? If you decide to participate in this blog chain, please let me know so I can include a link. If you just want to leave your comments below, that works for me, too.


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I have always had a thing for sidekicks. Everything from Lethal Weapon’s combo to Batman and Robin from my childhood. There is something about the dichotomy of a duo relationship that I enjoy. Unfortunately, it isn’t something writers always do well. We’ve seen duos fall short in books and film, leaving the reader or viewer disappointed. What makes a duo work?

Who’s the leader: While both characters can be strong, one must be the leader. Sometimes, this presents problems as he is usually the more intense of the two, more bound by rules, and irritating to his partner. However, as the writer it provides you chances to expound on what conflict this competition might cause.

Balancing Strengths: The characters should have different strengths. One character’s strength will offset his partner’s weakness, etc. This allows them to balance each other out in the trials you throw their way. It also provides for a funny partner to lighten a serious one, a quiet character contrasted by one who talks all the time. Opposites attract because the differences are where conflict and opportunity meet. Use it to your advantage.

One goal: Despite their differences, large and small, the two should share a common goal. If they are cops, it is to protect the people by catching bad guys. If they are doctors, it is to save lives, etc. Whatever they may have going on that pulls them apart, this goal should keep them anchored.

Successful film examples for me: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Doc and Marty, Thelma and Louise, and my favorite, Murtaugh and Riggs of Lethal Weapon fame.

What are your favorite sidekicks from literature, TV, or film?

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