YA 101: Realistic Fiction

For me, realistic fiction is probably my least favorite genre.  When I read, I want to escape the humdrums of normal life and be swept away by something grander, more romantic, more fantastical than every day life.  I have only read three  pieces of realistic fiction recently that knocked my socks off:  THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky, and THE FALL: An Autobiography of an Altar Ego by Elle.  However, I own several copies of classic realistic fiction that I re-read to this day:  LITTLE WOMEN, LITTLE MEN, THE ADVENTURE OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE GRAPES OF WRATH and OF MICE AND MEN.

To find the characteristics of realistic fiction, one doesn’t have to go far from looking in the mirror or examining the world.  The characters are believable, the themes plausible, and the plots convincing.  The language is often colloquial, and there are very view romantic perceptions of the world.  The world is what it is and you and the characters travel along trying to deal with it.

Common themes in realistic fiction, especially YA fiction include problems, humor, and coming- of-age.    Problem themes can include bullying, sexual/mental/physical abuse, drug addiction.  Humor themes have the characters in peculiar, funny outrageous predicaments and they have to use their ingenuity and crafty skills to get out of the mess.  I find this a lot in middle grade novels as younger kids, I think, relate more to this than more serious issues that arise in the later teen years.  Coming-of-age stories are always a winner with teens as they show how the protagonists leaves his innocence behind and grows into a confident, strong individual.  In my opinion, if you’re writing any YA story, this later theme should be prevalent across the board, in any genre you write.  The protagonist has to grow, has to learn.  It’s part of growing up.

What are some good YA realistic fiction novels to dive into?  I’ve been told the following are fantastic.  They’re on my TBR list.



YA Genre 101: Historical Fiction

I was talking to someone at work recently about historical fiction and she wanted to know if that meant the story was about an event that happened in history.  I tried to explain it was a yes and no answer.

Historical fiction is a novel set among actual historical events or one that is written to display a certain period of time.  The story itself doesn’t have to be specifically about that one particular event, let’s say, what made the Titanic sink, but more about the people affected by its sinking.

The setting is the most important part of historical fiction since the story takes place surrounding an actual event in history.  The information about the time period and place must be accurate, authentic, or both. Tons of research is involved so the author has a working knowledge of how people lived, what ate and wore, what sort of homes they lived in, etc.

Characters may be real or fictional or a combination of both.  No matter what, they must remain true to the time frame.

The plot must document historical events.  Even though your story is fictional, it needs to make sense and it must have a solution to a problem in the end.  If the plot is fictional, then it must remain true to the historical time and place.   In other words, you could write about a fictional couple who fall in love in 1830’s London.  While the couple is fictional, the surroundings need to be authentic down to the hair pins the women wore.

The dialogue must be authentic to the time period.  Reading books and articles from the time you’re writing about will assist in making sure your character’s speech is perfected.

Descriptions in historical fiction tend to be very vivid.  The author must convey a sense of time so readers who are unfamiliar with the historical events can experience as if they were in the midst of it.

Some of my favorite YA historical novels include:




YA 101: “Contemporary” Genre

Hi all.  Welcome back to  day 5 of sifting through the YA genres.  Today’s victim:  Contemporary fiction.

Stories set in modern-day times that don’t bring in any elements of fantasy are considered contemporary.  It is also known in a large circle as ‘realistic’ fiction.  Stories in this genre usually focus on offering the reader an insight into a person’s everyday experience and what it feels like to ‘walk’ in their shoes.  There should be little exaggeration as fans of this genre tend to shun ‘contemporary’ stories that stray from authenticity and far-fetched notions.

There are sub-genres to contemporary such as contemporary historical, contemporary romance and contemporary christian.

Popular novels that fall into the Contemporary genre include:


Agents and Publishers accepting YA contemporary:

Taylor Martindale of Full Circle Literary 

Entangled Publishing


YA 101: “Bildungsroman” Genre? What the heck is that?

Good morning people weeples.  Happy Friday.  I was supposed to post this topic yesterday, but I forgot to hit the ‘schedule’ button.  Then Tropical Storm Andrea came through which kept my PC in the dark all day (even though I had to drive to work.  Don’t you feel bad for me?  Of course you do.)

First things first.  Pull up a comfy seat and relax.  Here, have a cup of coffee.

cup of coffee  Don’t like coffee?  Here, have some tea.

cup of tea Don’t like tea?  Sorry kiddo. You’re on your own.

Okay, today we’re going to dive into Bildungsroman.  I bet some of you are scratching your heads, wondering what the word even means, much less if your novel falls into this category.  Don’t worry.  Odds are if you’re writing YA, your entire book is based in this genre, or, at the very least, you probably have a touch of it lying on the pages.  What is bildungsroman?  Simply put, it’s a coming-of-age story.  In these stories, (i) the main character portrays his struggles and growth, (2) he must have suffered some loss or discontent to jar him away from home or family at an early stage, (iii) the process of maturity is long, arduous and gradual where there are repeated clashes between the hero’s needs and desires and what society demands of him/her, (iv) in the end, the protagonist discovers himself and asserts himself in society.

Examples of bildungsroman YA novels?

 (that’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower if you can’t read it)


Do you have a MS that fits this category?  Are you ready to submit?  Try the following agency to represent your novel.  They take unsolicited manuscripts, too.

The Greenhouse Literary Agency

Okay, folks, that wraps up today’s post.  I have to go now and get ready for work.  I’m happy, though, as today is  a short day for me.  My youngest graduates from high school tonight.  Where did the time go?

See you, Monday, everyone!  Have a great weekend.

YA 101: the “Adventure” Genre

Today begins my four-week crash course on book genres.  I’ll attempt to keep the posts short and sweet and will, when I can:

  • provide examples of YA books you may have heard of that fall into those categories
  • Provide the name of an agent/publisher open to unsolicited manuscript submissions

So let’s get started.  Today’s genre:  Adventure

Adventure stories are dominated by action.  The hero/heroine must overcome danger, take risks while taking the reader on a rollercoaster of excitement.  The action is fast-paced, and the adventure should be extraordinary.  Settings are usually magical or exotic.  Most of all, the adventure must change the hero somehow.

YA books that fall into this category:


Agent/Publisher accepting manuscripts (always research agents and publishers before sending your manuscript):

Adams Literary

Barry Goldblatt Literary 

Whiskey Creek Press

Psst! Wanna know a secret?

Today I’m revealing a big, big secret I’ve been keeping for weeks.  Trust me, I’ve wanted to share it with you for so long but my publisher wouldn’t let me.  Today, however, they released me and six other authors from our bondage and said, “Go!  Tell everyone you can!  Shout it to the world, to outer space!  Give them ONE MORE DAY!”

So here it is, everyone!  The cover reveal of J. Taylor Publishing’s latest anthology, ONE MORE DAY!  And my YA short story, Dragon Flight, will appear on the pages inside.  Isn’t it pretty???  🙂



What if today never ends?

What if everything about life—everything anyone hoped to be, to do, to experience—

never happens?

Whether sitting in a chair, driving down the road, in surgery, jumping off a cliff or flying …

that’s where you’d be … forever.

Unless …

In One More Day, Erika Beebe, Marissa Halvorson, Kimberly Kay, J. Keller Ford, Danielle E. Shipley and Anna Simpson join L.S. Murphy to give us their twists, surprising us with answers to two big questions, all from the perspective of characters under the age of eighteen.

How do we restart time?

How do we make everything go back to normal?

The answers, in whatever the world—human, alien, medieval, fantasy or fairytale—could, maybe, happen today.

Right now.

What would you do if this happened … to you?

Does the blurb excite you?  Anyone up for helping out with upcoming blog tours, interviews etc.?  If so, give me a shout out!  The book releases December, 2013 in ebook and paperback  (this makes me very happy!  I’ll actually be able to sign a book!!!)  There will be tons of giveaways coming up over the next few months, not just from me, but all the authors involved, so get ready to jump on the ONE MORE DAY train.  Reciprocal reviews and blog tour spots for your works may be possible as well for joining in this adventure.

In the meantime, enjoy the cover and stay tuned for more news.  If you’re into YA, you’re not going to want to miss one word about this anthology.  It’s going to be tons of fun.

TIED, by YA Author, Laney McMann – COVER REVEAL!!

Hey everyone.  I have a glorious surprise for you.  I’ve been holding onto this for over a month, itching for the day I can share it with you.  Please say hello to J.Taylor Publishing’s newest YA author, Laney McMann, and her debut novel, TIED, the first in the Fire Born trilogy!

TIED_Cover_blogNormal people don’t believe their nightmares stalk them. They don’t fall in love with boys who don’t exist, either.

Seventeen-year-old Layla Labelle, though, is far from normal. Her delusions walk the earth. Her hallucinations hunt her, and her skin heats to a burn every time her anger flares.

Or is that all in her head?

Layla doesn’t know what to believe any more because if none of that’s true, Max MacLarnon must be an illusion, and her heart must still be broken.

No matter how much she wants to believe Max is real, doing so would mean everything else is, too. How, then, is that possible?

The answers lie in an age-old legend the supernatural aren’t prepared to reveal, and with a curse that could tear Layla and Max apart forever—if it doesn’t kill them both first.

In TIED, book one in the Fire Born trilogy, learning the truth will mean fighting an arsenal  of demons, and being with Max will put Layla on a path toward her own destruction.

Just how far will Layla go to protect the one she loves?

The answer may never be far enough … away.

* * *

With a passion for the supernatural and all things magical, Laney developed a voracious appetite for reading fantasy at a young age. A vivid imagination helped set the stage for creating her own worlds and placed her onto the writing path.

By the time she reached her teens, she’d accumulated notebooks full of poems, which led to short stories and finally novels. Young adult dark fantasy, paranormal romance, and mythology are among her favorite genres.

A former classical dancer and chef, she grew up in sultry Florida where she still resides with her family.

* * *

TIED won’t be released until SEPTEMBER 09, 2013, however! you guys can click HERE to add it to your to-read shelves.

please click HERE to visit the official site for Laney McMann.  You can also find her on Twitter Facebook and Goodreads.


Under the Never Sky – a Review

under the never skyWhile in Ft. Myers for two weeks, I picked up Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but my mind was quickly changed. Within the first 5 pages I was hooked. I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait for the sequel to come out.

The story was unlike any I’ve read before. I liked the authenticity of it, the grittiness of it. The story is told from male (Perry) and female (Aria) points of view. At first, the alternating chapters were a little hard to get used to, but I immediately fell into the cadence and looked forward to each character’s view of the world.

I loved watching Aria grow from being an outcast and sent to die in the outer wasteland known to her and her kind as the Death Shoppe, to her becoming a strong, warrior-like woman, who can survive cannibal attacks, dangerous and violent electrical Aether storms, and savages.

I enjoyed that Aria and Perry were so very different from each other. Aria was born in Reverie, an enclosed city. Everything is ‘perfect’ in Reverie – genetically modified perfect. Life is pristine, clean, safe. Procreation occurs scientifically. Girls don’t get pregnant. They don’t have periods. People don’t get ill. Physical ailments don’t exist. On the outside, where the savages (Perry) lives, the world is quite the opposite.

Each Aria and Perry are on their own journey when they find each other. I like that this story isn’t a typical romance. Their trust and respect for each other comes slowly. It’s tried. They both have something the other wants, but the information isn’t given freely or easily. The sheltered girl and the savage must learn to rely on each other’s strengths to get them through the journey they share together. I fell in love with both characters and the supporting cast.

The world-building is well done. It’s not thrown at the reader all at once. Instead, we’re treated to layers built upon layers over time. There is the technical, perfect Domes of Reverie, and the dangerous, desolate and devastating environment of the Death Shoppe. Each one plays their own roles in Aria’s and Perry’s quest – they both need something from the worlds opposite their own, and they need each other to find it.

I did find Aria a bit whiny in the beginning, but then again, considering her background, I can understand it. I had the impression that Perry was much older than Aria, so when the ‘romance’ began to bloom between them, I was a little weirded out. Then I found out his age and I was okay with it. Even though they are both teens, Perry still seems far more older than Aria, mentally, which gives me the ‘older man/younger woman’ vision in my head. It could be that she’s so naive and her body is ‘waking up’ at the age of 17 that gives me that impression. I found Perry’s description of Aria’s first ‘awakening’ at becoming a woman a little bizarre, funny, creepy and endearing. I’ve never heard a woman’s first menstrual cycle described in such a manner.

If I had to compare it to another book, I’d have to say it has some similar elements as Graceling. It is a dystopian, and while the book is aimed at fans of The Hunger Games, this novel is nothing like The Hunger Games. I will say it should appeal to more older teens – the 16 and up age group. There is some drinking, some mild violence (nothing like what was in The Hunger Games), and one sex scene that was handled with kid gloves (I like this approach in YA rather than full out hot and heavy sex scenes). If you enjoyed Blood Red Road, I think you’ll enjoy Under the Never Sky.

Next week I begin reading the second in the trilogy: Through the Ever Night. I can’t wait.

Exciting Announcement!

On December 3, my short story, The Amulet of Ormisez, will be published in Make Believe and released into the big wide world.  My words, no longer mine but everyone’s.  It is every author’s dream.  No matter how many times you sign that contract, a glow happens inside knowing a publisher believed in your hard work and it will be read by hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions.  How very exciting!

A few early reviews have already trickled in and I’m thrilled to say they are all positive.  Have a look below:

Rachel Morgan at Goodreads writes:  “MAKE BELIEVE is a magical collection of short stories. Just the right size for someone like me who falls into bed too late every night and doesn’t have much time (or energy) left to read!…Fantasy-lovers should definitely check this one out.”

Jen – At Random says:  “…With mystery, deceit, fate, grief, greed, romance, and action each story has its own engaging elements but all are sprinkled with a morsel of magic. Definitely a great read!”

And, an overall 5 star review on Amazon.com had this to say about my story in particular:  “There’s lots happening in this story but to say much more would reveal too much of the tale. I also enjoyed this tale…as I have not read a great deal about selkies. I would look out for other books by the author and dependent on blurb seriously consider reading them…”  She gave the story 4/5 stars!!  You can read the full review here.

There is so much more I have to share with your about the anthology.  The official Blog Tour kicks off on December 3 and all the authors appearing in Make Believe are promoting tons of giveaways and contests, so make sure you visit each of their blogs/websites to see what’s going on. On Sunday, I will post information about my blog tour, AND share a little secret about what I’ll be doing the whole month of December to celebrate the release of Make Believe.  It’ll be pretty cool.

Also, if you want to participate in launch day celebrations and enter for your chance to win an e-copy of the Make Believe anthology, make sure you leave your website/blog information in the comments section of my blog between now and November 30.

Oh, and if you can’t wait until December 3 to get your own e-copy of Make Believe, a little bird told me Amazon.com and Barnes and  Noble just might have a little treat for your Kindle or Nook at this very moment.  You should head over and check it out.  Go on. You know you want to.  Take some friends with you.  Grab some coffee while you’re at it.  Kick your shoes off.  Relax.  Who needs to work today when you can Make Believe.

NaNoWriMo Winner

Well, it’s official.  I finished NaNoWriMo with over 78,000 words.  Here’s the proof:

Now, those of you who know me have seen the title before.  I’ve only been working on this novel for forever.   I even had a couple of people tell me I cheated because the novel was already complete.  I disagree and here’s why.

I finished the novel last year and sent it off to a publisher who came back and said, “We like it but we’d like for you to consider making changes X, Y and Z.” I considered the ideas and thought, “You know what, I can make those changes.”  So I began. The thing is, the more I wrote what the publisher wanted as far as “Z”, the more I strayed away from the story I wanted to tell.  The very crux of the story, the core, the glue that held the trilogy together was rapidly disappearing.  As I wrote, my gut told me I was going in the wrong direction.  Eight months into the re-write, I tossed it aside.  It wasn’t my story.  I was writing for someone else.  Something had to change.

I revisited what the publisher said about X, and Y and they were right.  Spot on, actually, and I decided to keep those changes.  The changes worked well and did make the story better, but I had to re-write once more to put back in what I removed.  It was harder than I thought.  I actually had to put the novel aside for a while, write some short stories, and let the ideas percolate on Dragon King.  Occasionally I would revisit it but couldn’t get in the right frame of mind to finish it.  That is until November 1, 2012.

I had no plans to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but the time presented itself so I went for it.  I knew in my gut I had to finish Dragon King or at least make some significant headway in its completion.  The first week or so started off really slow in the rewrite/revision…only 4,000 words in 5 days.  Not too good.  I had to give myself a pep talk and put my mind to work.  Today, I completed 78,266 words – rewritten, revised – from two manuscripts that didn’t work on their own, but together?  Well, let’s just say I hope people will like it when I’m done.  I don’t have that much more to complete and I hope to get it back out to beta readers after the first of the year and the holidays are over.

So, in my opinion, I didn’t cheat.  I like to think of it as having two elaborate outlines that I merged together into what hopefully will be something worth reading.  During this time, I also have been diligently writing on two short stories and another one that turned into a novella I titled SUMMERFIRTH.    Hopefully that one will go to betas soon, too.

So what about you?  Did you participate and finish NaNo?  Do you have plans to finish?  I would love to hear your struggles and successes.