This week I read:
I just started:
From Goodreads: Thirteen Short Stories from Bold New YA Voices & Writing Advice from YA Icons
Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.
Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.
What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.
This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults.
My Review: Featuring 13 short stories by underrepresented and ‘fresh’ voices, this book has an interesting format. Appealing to both readers and writers, each tale is followed by a short discussion focusing on an element of craft that was well developed in the proceeding story. Writing prompts/exercises are also sprinkled throughout the book, providing opportunities to apply the craft knowledge gleaned from the pages. It’s an interesting approach, made more so by the exposure to new writers with such unique perspectives.
The stories themselves represent a gamut of genres, from fantasy to speculative, mild horror to contemporary. One of the things I found most interesting about this book was the way the authors’ diverse backgrounds shaped the worlds they created. I enjoyed the stories and the discussions about craft, but it wasn’t my favorite in terms of either short story anthologies or books on writing.
I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Last summer, Link Miller drowned on dry land in the woods, miles from the nearest body of water. His death was ruled a weird accident, but Noemi Amato knows the truth: Link was killed. He told her so himself, because he’s been texting her from beyond the grave, warning her to keep away from the forest.
Amberlyn, Link’s sister, can’t shake the feeling that Noemi is hiding something, and Jonas, Noemi’s new housemate, can’t get past the walls that she has constructed around herself. Because Noemi has a dangerous secret even bigger than Link’s ghost…
Link drowned in an impossible lake that only she can find.
Now, if the three don’t work together to unravel the truth about what is happening in the woods, someone else may wind up dead. Set over the course of one heartbreaking, mystifying, and ultimately hopeful year, this remarkable debut heralds the arrival of an incredible new voice in young adult literature.
My Review: Usually anything even bordering on fantasy or paranormal is not my thing, but after reading the blurb – a boy drowns on dry land in the woods – I had a feeling that I had to read this book, and I’m so glad I did. The ‘otherworldly’ element is hard to explain – it’s almost like a character in itself, but is mild enough to not deter readers who normally shy away from the genre.
The writing is good, at times beautiful, and there was something about the web that Nagamatsu spun that caught me up and wouldn’t let me go. Although I have to admit that at times I caught myself wondering what the theme was for this strange tale, the lyrical prose lulled me happily along to an ending that left me wondering.
I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Think of a book that made you care, that had you so invested in the outcome that you wanted to cry or shout or throw the book when things didn’t go the right way. When you think of that book, what is it that you think about? The setting? The plot? Or the characters?
For me, a good plot keeps me hooked, but a good character makes me feel.
Anne Of Green Gables. The Hunger Games. The gang from Harry Potter.
Would any of these books have such lasting and widespread success if the characters didn’t feel so real to the readers? I don’t think they would. Because these characters feel like someone we know. A friend. An ally. Someone we care about.
So, what is it about these characters that draws us in? What makes them feel so real?
I believe it’s their quirks. Their vulnerability. Their flaws. They have insecurities, they doubt themselves, they feel anger and shame and sorrow. But they also feel happiness and joy – just like a real person would.
Making sure your characters are well-rounded is what brings them to life.
So give them flaws. Make them doubt themselves. Make them feel and think things we’ve all felt and thought before, something the reader can identify with and have an, “I’ve felt that way too,” moment.
Here are some articles to check out if you want to some writing tips:
From Goodreads: Meet the best teen con artist team around.
Boone McReedy: high school conman, smooth-talking charmer, and the idiot who just got scammed out of $15,000 of his mom’s money.
Darby West: ass-kicker, straight-shooter, and Boone’s ex-girlfriend.
Now, they must team up to save their parents’ business, one con at a time.
That is if they don’t kill each other first.
Of course, they’re only going to scam people who deserve it.
That’s a promise.
Would they lie to you?
As he did in his award-winning debut, DON’T GET CAUGHT, Kurt Dinan brings laughs, twists, and heart to THE SCAM LISTS’ funny world of teen con artists, exes, and outrageous five-dollar bets.
Review: What a fun book! Sometimes you just need to read something lighthearted and enjoyable for sheer amusement, and this story is it! I read Don’t Get Caught by this author last year and thought it was a blast, so I was thrilled to get my hands on this one – and it didn’t disappoint! Engaging characters, an entertaining plot, and an easy read – this one is sure to appeal to even the most YA reluctant readers!
The subject matter might seem a bit risque to some – there is underaged drinking and, of course, scams, but there is a moral to the story and it’s all in good fun. Also, it’s written by an experienced high school teacher – when you consider what many teenage students are exposed to (remembering back to my own HS years) – this pales in comparison. However, if you are a parent with concerns I suggest you read it first.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Scam List is slated for release August 3, 2020!
When editing, character consistency is something that’s easy to overlook, but your character’s behavior and personality need to be true to who you’ve developed them to be. That’s not to say that the character can’t change and evolve over the course of the story, they can, but you need to include the reader in on the character’s inner journey.
For example, a character who is easy going and forgiving can’t suddenly have a wicked vendetta, and vice versa – a vengeful character can’t suddenly become forgiving – not without you showing the reader how the change came about.
I’m guilty of this myself.
Because sure, your MC is a kind, patient, wonderful human being except for that ONE person. And haven’t we all had that person in our life? That someone who just rubs us the wrong way, even if it’s for a reason we can’t quite pinpoint? It’s fine for your character to have that flaw too – you want your characters to be realistic. But just because YOU know that this is your character’s ONE person, it doesn’t mean your readers will know. If this is behavior that’s out of character for them, you need to address it somehow.
There are many ways this can be done, including internal dialogue or in discussion with another character, other characters discussing the MC’s uncharacteristic behavior, maybe even in conversation with that ONE person themselves – have them call the MC out!
Here are some articles to help you keep your character’s behavior and personality consistent: