Writing for a YA Audience: LEND ME YOUR EAR…OR YOUR LENDING LIBRARY

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Lending libraries are the new craze.  Basically, you build this little wooden box on a pole and stick it in your front yard.  Most of the time, the little wooden box has a little glass window.  People walking by leave a book and take a book.  Lending libraries encourage neighborhoods to connect and read more.  Plus, if you’re like me, they’re a great way to give away books and know they’ll go to a good home.  The lending libraries can also be found outside of churches, schools, community pools, anywhere you might find a group of readers hungry for new books.

(For those who feel the need to DIY, here are some simple instructions to build your own.)

Lending libraries pull me in, and I’ve frequented quite a few.  There’s one in Old Forge, Westernville, and New Hartford, all towns in Upstate New York where I live.  Recently, I dropped off signed copies of my novels to the one in New Hartford.

Lending libraries, however, cater more toward adults than to young adults.  Each one I’ve been to has never contained a young adult novel.  I’ve seen some picture books for kids, but nothing in the young adult genre.  The books are all well-worn copies of religious non-fiction, popular chick-lit or obscure fiction.  I’m not knocking any of those genres, but let’s build up some interest for teenage readers.

The news is often talking about how teenagers aren’t reading enough.  The news talks about how teenagers focus on their phones instead of getting out into the world.  Lending libraries meant for young adults, or lending libraries with YA titles mixed in, would “fix” both of those issues.  Teenagers would be reading more.  They’d be introduced to more options.  They would also be getting out into their neighborhoods.  A great way to make lending libraries more interactive is to leave a note or bookmark inside the treasure you drop off.  I like to include a thought about why I enjoyed the story.  It helps to connect the readers, even if they live in a different town.

I’m all for dropping off a young adult title or two in the nearest lending library.  Who is with me?

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Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  Her latest book, a post-apocalyptic novella entitled ROTHAM RACE, released July 14th fron CHBB.  You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.

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Big Things Are Happening on “Writing to be Read”

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I started Writing to be Read on a site called Today.com, as a pay-per-click blog. I was just beginning to create an online writing presence, and was unsure what to write about on a blog, but whatever my subject matter, I ended every post with a poems. One day, I tried to log into my account and found that Today.com no longer existed, and neither did my blog. I was forced to seek out a new home for my blog, and I found WordPress. That was back in 2010, and the author’s blog and website before you is what Writing to be Read has morphed into in the interim.

I no longer include a poem with each post, (that went the way of Today.com), and I don’t get paid per click, (or at all for that matter), but I feel that my content has expanded and improved over the years. I still believe poetry is an important aspect of writing. I feel in love with poetry when we studied Hiaku in the forth grade, and the first piece of writing I ever sold was a poem, (for five dollars). Poetry is sculpting with words, crafting a piece to fit our vision and communicate that vision to others.

There have been many changes along the way, which helped to make Writing to be Read what it is today, including my 2016 publishing series: The Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing, my 2017 series on marketing and promotion: Book Marketing: What Works?, and the most recent this past year, my Ask the Authors series, where a panel of authors were interviewed on a variety of elements concerning writing. (Watch for a second series of AtA this fall.) Also, in 2017, we were fortunate to have Robin’s Writing Memo, with Robin Conley and The Pep Talk and Jeff’s God Complex, with author Jeff Bowles. I have attempted to include content that addresses all the elements of writing, but as I’m not very active in areas such as poetry, children’s writing, screenwriting or YA fiction, there have been only a few post in these areas, and I want to extend the scope of the blog to address all aspects of writing.

So, we’re about to change it up once more. I’m calling in the experts, or at least, those more expert than I in specific areas. I’ve asked a few guest bloggers to join the team in order to expand the scope of Writing to be Read. Our guest segments will be featured on Wednesdays. Here are some of the exciting changes you can expect to see in the near future.

jeff-picI’m happy to announce that Jeff Bowles will be joining us once again with Jeff’s God Complex the first Wednesday of every month, starting in August. Jeff is an independent author with an awesome power of description and an amazing imagination. He has published three short story collections, which I have given top notch reviews, including his latest one, Brave New Multiverse, which will post this Friday, July 20. Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Godling and Other Paint Stories. Jeff’s post topics cover just about anything and everything if it regards writing.

Art RoschStarting Wednesday,  July 25th, we will have our first segment of The Many Faces of Poetry, with Art Rosch. Art is an independent author, poet and photographer, who is into jazz. He draws many of his stories from his own experiences and creates his own book covers. He has published three books, all of which I’ve reviewed with high quills: Confessions of an Honest Man, The Road Has Eyes: A Relationship, An R.V., and a Wild Ride Through Indian Country, and The Gods of the Gift. Art is a talented writer and poet and I’m pleased to have him join the Writing to be Read team.

Jordan Hallak

 

Also joining us with a Writing for a YA Audience segment is Amazon best selling YA author Jordan Elizabeth. Jordan has written many books aimed at a YA audience in a variety of genres: steampunk, time travel, fantasy, historical and ghost stories, to name a few. I recently reviewed her most recent book, a post- apocalyptic dystopian romance, Rotham Race, and I have reviewed many of her other works, including her very first novel, Escape From Witchwood Hollow, and several anthologies which include her stories. Jordan’s posts will be concerned with concepts and issues involved in writing for young adult readers. Writing to be Read will feature Jordan’s first post on Wednesday, July 18th.

 

This blog is a labor of love for me, and as such, these great writers are donating their time and efforts, so please help me to welcome the new members of the Writing to be Read team by liking their posts and leaving comments. Every writer wants to know they are being read.

I’m still searching for willing bloggers in the areas of screenwriting or children’s writing. I feel these elements of writing are important and deserve our special attention too. If you have expertise in these areas and think you might be interested in joining the Writing to be Read team, please email me at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 

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“Rotham Race”: A Story of Orphan Love

Cosplay Steampunk Woman Next to Her Motorcycle

Rotham Race, by Jordan Elizabeth, is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian YA romance; a crossing of genres that works well for the most part. The story has a good plot with a smooth flow, although the pacing felt rushed at times. The world which Jordan Elizabeth has created, where a nuclear blast annihilated half of country, and the government can’t be trusted, is both believable and thought provoking, and her characters are both relatable and likeable.

The Rotham Race is a tradition where young men and women go out into the wastelands left by a nuclear blast to find a microchip which can return things to the way they were, or so they are told.  Each year dozens of racers set off into the wastelands never to be seen again. Troy Vonpackal is an idealistic orphan, determined to find the chip and save the world, and Barbie Chambers is the orphan who can help him achieve his goal. When fate throws them together, they find themselves falling in love, but there are many obstacles which stand in their way. When Troy returns with the chip, they both learn that the government may not have been entirely truthful about the race or the chip, and the truth may change their lives forever.

My only criticism is that there wasn’t enough foreshadowing to suspend my disbelief in certain places. Many of the conflicts are resolved with little difficulty, or in some cases, the solution is just handed to them, making some events seem too convenient for me to buy in. Yet, I can’t say this detracted from my enjoyment of the story, which was quite entertaining overall.

A quick and easy read, with an ending that comes too sudden. I felt like the characters had more to give, so maybe there will be a sequel. I give Rotham Race four quills.

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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.


The Impacts of Digital Publishing

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Everyone talks about how the rise of digital publishing has impacted the book industry and the effects it may have on authors. Some think these effects are good, while others view them as having a negative impact. It is true that digital publishing opened up opportunities for would be writers, making it so just about anyone can write and publish a book with no need to be discovered by an agent or publisher.

But, it is equally true that many brick and mortar bookstores have had to close their doors due to the competition from eBooks and the rapid growth and expansion of Amazon. And, it’s also true that because it is now so easy to publish a book and authors who publish independently are able to circumvent the traditional publishing gatekeepers, there are no gauruntees that the books we purchase will be of good quality writing. There is nothing in place to be sure the books we put out have been edited. So, it would seem that digital publishing had had both positive and negative effects, depending on which area of the business you work in.

One area of impact that many authors don’t realize or appreciate, is the fantastic promotional opportunities the digital era has supplied for us. Due to social media promotion and email, we are able to access direct communication with fans and followers that via means which weren’t available in the pre-digital era, and this is a great plus for us. We need to take advantage of these great opportunities and listen to our readers, when we’re fortunate enough to get a comment or a review. I try to respond back to every comment readers leave me, and check my reviews for new ones frequently. And yes, these days posted reviews can make or break a book’s success, influencing potential readers, so reviews do matter.

Today’s author doesn’t have a fan base of faceless readers. Today’s authors have the opportunity to make connections with their readers. Some authors have found ways to take advantage of this by gathering their followers together in Facebook groups or put together street teams who actively promote their writing or go out and get reviews for them.

I can see how beneficial these practices are, because I know how much time and energy I have to put into marketing and promotion. But even though I don’t harness my fanbase as a promotional asset, I still appreciate the chance to reach out and chat with my readers to find out what works for them and what doesn’t. And while I don’t have a gazillion reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, the ones I do have are good ones, making Delilah a four and a half star read. It’s all because of you, my readers. So, I can appreciate the impact that digital publishing has had in this area.

The negative impacts, the fading of brick and mortar bookstores, the increase in the number of poor quality books put out. They are still there and likely will be for time to come, although I’ve heard the trend for print books is rising again. Unless digital publishers implement some type of quality control system, or all authors act professionally and create quality writing that’s been edited before publication, a poorly written or unedited book is liable to pop-up here and there, being generally unavoidable.

I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t change trends that I feel are negatives on the industry, but I can appreciate the positives that digital publishing has brought with it. I like getting to know my readers. So, before I sign off on  this post, I’d like to urge you to reach out and let me know who you are and what you like, or don’t like, about my writing. It only takes a moment to leave a comment, and I promise to respond to each and every one.

 

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“Behind Frenemy Lines”: Sometimes the lines between friends and enemies get crossed

Behind Frenemy Lines

Behind Frenemy Lines, by Chele Pederson Smith is a cute spy romance about two spies who end up partners, in ways that go far beyond the case they’re on. This story reads like it was begun as a playful tease for the author’s husband, which is exactly how it was, as revealed in my interview with the author. Like the author, who was upbeat and fun when interviewed, you can’t help but smile as you read this story.

The dominant romance element and snappy banter between the protagonists sets a rom-com tone that carries throughout the novel. I had trouble buying in to the whole, ‘we’re spies who don’t trust each other, but we can’t keep our hands off one another’ concept because I was trying to take this story too seriously. It was written as a sort of fun game and is meant to be read that way, as well. The sex scenes are tasteful and ‘R’ rated. Although there is frequent headhopping and perhaps a little too much exposition and a couple of logic flaws, it is a fun read.

This story is like fine chocolate – to be endulged when you just want to feel good. Like the catchy title, Behind Frenemy Lines will tickle your funny bone in unexpected ways. I give it four quills.

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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.

 

 


Interview with author Tom Johnson

Tom's Back Cover Picture

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing an old hand in the writing and publishing business, author Tom Johnson. Tom has written stories from a young age. He has been publishing his writing for more than twenty-two years and has over eighty books in publication. He grew up reading comic books and pulp fiction, becoming a collector in adulthood and his stories reflect the fascination that those books held for him. He has also written numerous nonfiction books and is currently involved in writing children’s stories. Please help me welcome Tom Johnson.

Kaye: Hi Tom. Although in the past, you’ve written and published many different genres, you are currently writing only children’s stories. So, let’s talk about that. Tell me a little about your stories.

Tom: My children stories are about 1k and meant as bedtime tales, and to be read in classroom or library settings. They are short stories with little morals to teach children something about life.

Kaye: Are they a series or stand alone?

Tom: They are a series, and published in anthologies about once a year. There have been four anthologies so far. I was invited to participate beginning in volume  #3. The anthology is called Wire Dog Storybook. Here is the background. True story. A young girl, Ellen Walters, asked her father, David Walters, if she could have a dog, and he said, “No.” So she found an old wire hanger and shaped it to resemble a dog, and called it wire dog. David Walters was fascinated by her ingenuity and created the Wire Dog Storybooks. So the stories usually feature Ellen and Wire Dog, but always Wire Dog. Five of my stories have been published so far, and I’ve written three more for the 2018 yearbook when it comes out at the end of the year.

Kaye: What age group are they aimed at?

Tom: I feel that we should begin reading to our children by age one. With that in mind, my stories are aimed at the age group of 1 to 5. However, older children will enjoy the stories, as do adults.

To get a better idea of what Tom’s children’s stories are like, you can get a free copy of one here. They are short and can be read in only a few minutes.: Wire Dog Has An Ugly Mood Day Or The House of 1000 Mirrors https://wiredogstories.com/2016/01/19/story-40-wire-dog-has-an-ugly-mood-day/

Kaye: What differences do you see between writing for children and writing adult fiction?

Tom: Adult fiction usually means, “no holds barred”, while writing children stories you want to stay away from violence, horror, and adult themes. Keep in mind, young children absorb what they hear quickly, and some themes could have an adverse effect on young minds. When writing for children we must keep this in mind.

Kaye: What appeals to you about writing for children?

Tom: Do you remember the old radio show for kids, Let’s Pretend ? It produced shows for children that acted out fairy tales and light adventures – nothing as harsh as today’s cartoons that are aimed at our youth. Well, I have the chance to import my love for adventure in tales easily understood by young people; children who some day may also experience that same love to pass on to their children. Stories that give our children a moral to live by, not “It’s clobbering time!” Or Pow! Bang! Boom! It’s something my mother did for me when I was little, and now I have the same opportunity, and I’m not going to pass it up.

You can get the Wire Dog books here:

Wire Dog Storybook #3 http://www.lulu.com/shop/david-clyde-walters/wire-dog-storybook-3-in-full-color/paperback/product-22554849.html

Wire Dog Storybook #4 http://www.lulu.com/shop/david-clyde-walters/wire-dog-storybook-4-in-color/paperback/product-23424745.html

Kaye: You have wanted to write for children since you were little and your mother used to read to you.

Tom: Oh, yes. I hope that mothers are still reading to their children. They learn at such a young age, and we’re missing an opportunity if we fail them when they’re young. They will never forget what they learn as children, it’s when their minds are growing and grasping at everything. I think one of the first words they learn is, “Why?”

Kaye: What were your favorite children’s stories?

Tom: Really, I would have to look them up in the book of fairy tales on my shelf. There were so many she read to me. Knights saving young damsels come to mind. I remember one particular fairy tale where the princess was on a glass mountain, and the young knight had to save her. She watched each day as a knight riding brown horse attempts to scale the glass mountain, then a knight on a white horse, and so on, until the final day when a knight riding a great steed scales the mountain, and we find out that he was the knight on the brown horse, the white horse, etc. It wasn’t the color of the horse, but the persistence of the knight that finally achieved the goal.

Kaye: In what ways do the stories you write emulate those favorites from your childhood?

Tom: Like the fairy tale I mentioned above, my stories will also have a similar moral – it’s not the color of the horse, or the knight’s armor, but his persistence that wins the hand of the princess. Do the right thing, for the right reason. Persevere. If you don’t succeed today, try and try again.

Kaye: You have written since you were a young man, for fifty some years, and you had your own small press for many years. Always, your life seems to have writing at the center of it. Looking back on your life, what does writing mean to you?

Tom: I think writing was always an escape to other worlds, other realms, and other dimensions. We could be anyone we wanted, go anywhere we wished, and experience great adventures. We create those worlds and people we want in them, and our heroes and heroines are who we want to be, or the friends we want beside us. We choose those things that mean the most to us. Whether we’re a cowboy or cowgirl, Conan or Xena, we bring the characters to life. That’s what writing means to me, to give life to my characters.

Kaye: How do you see the rise of digital publishing affecting authors of today?

Tom: Publishing has never been easier. When we were publishing the small press magazines, it was hands on. We did every aspect of the business, from reading, approving or rejecting, editing, set up and printing, then mailing to subscribers and bookstores that carried our magazines. Today we have Lulu and Amazon for all that. We just write, they publish. Anyone can be a writer or publisher now.

These Alien SkiesKaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Tom: I had a dream one night. A young boy was in the woods dying when a strange being found him and comforted him as he passed. The strange being was an alien and I saw the saucer-shaped craft behind him. When I woke the dream stayed with me. Did the alien kill the boy? Why was the alien there? What was the boy doing in the woods? It wouldn’t let go of me. I wrote What Goes There from that dream. The boy was dying from snakebite and the alien took his pain from him so he could pass more easily. Then I made a mystery with the plot. The story is part of my book, These Alien Skies.

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

Tom: When I write, I don’t want to be disturbed. No music, no background noise at all. My work computer is in my bedroom. I close my door from all outside communication, telephone, wife, neighbors, etc. I have to be alone when I write.

Kaye: You’ve written over eighty books in many different genres over the course of your career. Which of your books would you say are your favorites? Why?

Guns of the Black GhostTom: If we’re speaking of my fiction stories I would probably say my favorite is Guns of The Black Ghost, as it is my homage to Walter Gibson and his character The Shadow (remember him). The Shadow was one of my favorite radio dramas as a kid, and I met the creator of the character, Walter Gibson, in the mid-1970s and we were friends until his passing. I always wanted to write a Shadow novel, but copyright protection kept me from it, thus my own character, The Black Ghost came into being.

However, my non-fiction research books are probably my best sellers. I’ve written over half a dozen of them. A lot of work went into them. A lot of reading and studying, and I think it paid off, as fans have all bought the huge books for the data. These are books that don’t get thrown away, but have a special place on their bookshelves.

Kaye: So, tell us a little about your nofiction books. What is the subject matter and how did you come to write them?

Tom: As a pulp collector it was natural for me to become a historian. I had completed runs in many of the lead characters, thus had the opportunity to study the novels for research, identifying authors, plots, etc. At the time I was writing fiction and Introductions for ALTUS PRESS books, and the publisher wanted my research put into books. Some of those series were Secret Agent X Companion, Operator #5 Companion (History of The Purple Wars), The Phantom Detective Companion, The Black Bat Companion, Dan Fowler’s G-Men Companion, and Echoes 30. Several ran for twenty years, and 171 issues. Some not so long, but just as popular to the fan and collectors today. There may be others, my mind is slipping, but these were the big volumes. They covered the complete pulp series of each title. Echoes 30 covered conventions, pulp books, authors, artists, and publishers. All are in demand and have been good sellers.

 

Kaye: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

Tom: I’m a pantser. I never could understand why you needed to write a fifty-page plot outline, just write the darn book. Once the words start flowing you don’t want them to stop. And they will, if you’re outlining.

Kaye: What do you think is the single most important element in a story?

Tom: Characterization. Make your characters come alive. You want readers to connect to them, feel for them, and be drawn to them. The plot will work itself out, but if your characters aren’t real I don’t care how much of a plot you have, it will bomb.

Kaye: If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Tom: I don’t know that I would want to be rich and famous. What would be next? I want to always be reaching, always trying to entertain. If I set my goal for rich and famous I might forget about the entertainment and pleasure we get from writing. If I entertain one person, then I am already rich. Besides, we already have money, and fame is fleeting at best.

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Tom: Write what you know. I’ve read a lot of books where the author is writing about something s/he knows nothing about, and it shows. I know information is at the tip of one’s fingers today, but if you haven’t truly experienced something you will come off as unbelievable if you try to write about the subject.

I want to thank Tom for joining us today on Writing to be Read and offering up some really great answers to my questions. I have really enjoyed having him. If you’d like to learn more about Tom Johnson or his books you can check out his website or his Amazon Author Page.

 

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“Everything Undone”:

Everything Undone

Everything Undone, by Wysteria Wilde is an erotic romance with just the right amount of each. So many times the erotica is overbearing, often to the point you can’t seem to find the underlying story line, but Wilde does a wonderful job of sprinkling the erotic scenes tastefully throughout a well-structured romance plot that keeps the tension ratcheted on high.

 

When Annabelle LaFrance met Nick Bignanni there was every reason in the world why the two of them should never become a couple. But, their feelings told them both different, driving them toward one another. By the time they realize their feelings are mutual, it’s too late to stop the romance already set in motion, but there is more at stake than their love, and Nick must figure out how to transform from the person he was to the person he now wants to be without causing collateral damage. Annabelle is in danger, and the only way to save her is to betray her. And when Annabelle learns the truth, will she still want him?

The one problem I had is that I couldn’t buy in to Annabelle not knowing the true orientation of her bff, Brooks. I loved Brooks as a character. He talks and acts so stereotypically gay that it’s almost cliché, and I loved that Wilde threw in a relationship for him as a subplot. However, as close as they are, I couldn’t believe Brooks would keep his secret from Annabelle, even if he chose not to tell anyone else, and her reaction to the revelation wasn’t enough to convince me. Her acceptance of him for who he is unquestionable and I think he’d know that, given the nature of their relationship. It was a minor detail, hardly enough to stop me from enjoying the rest of this well-crafted romance.

The characters are well developed and likeable, the story filled with conflict, and the erotica tastefully done. I give Everything Undone four quills.

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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.