FIRSTS ~ a fantastic novel about breaking the double standards of teen sexuality


Recently, I had the opportunity to read the ARC of FIRSTS by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn.

Guys, I have to tell you, I had doubts about this one as it’s about this promiscuous girl in high school who wants to teach male virgins how to ‘do it right’ with their girlfriends for the first time.

I’m not one to read books about sex, and I’m certainly not one who wants to promote sex among high school students, but it was written by this lovely girl in my Sixteen to Read blog group: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, and we are all reading each other’s ARCs, so I set my preferences aside and dug in.

Let me tell you. I started this early in the afternoon, like around 1:30, and I finished it by 5:30. I couldn’t put this book down. It was nothing like what I thought it would be. The characters are fresh, they’re well thought out, and I felt something for every single one of them. And let me tell you, the main character has some amazing friends, and we find out how awesome they are when the story takes its downward spiral.

I don’t want to give too much away on this one, but I will tell you, it totally deals with stereotypes and the way girls are judged for their sexual behavior. I wish there had been a bit more addressing of the double-standard and that guys should be held as responsible as girls for their sexual “mistakes”, but honestly, the story holds a very important lesson. I was overwhelmed by how much I really loved this book, and I highly recommend it.  I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

The 5 Most Anticipated YA Books to Read in November


Do you love YA novels? Are you scouring the internet and books stores looking for what’s new in November? Well, look no more. I’ve got five fabulous recommendations for you, and I think most YA readers will agree.  They are numbered in order of most anticipated (well, at least the most anticipated for me).

#1

I am dying to get my grubby little hands on this 800 page masterpiece. This is the final installment in the Lunar Chronicles series, (can you hear my weeping already?) and I’m sure it will be a stellar conclusion. I want this so much, I pre-ordered it ages ago. The waiting is torture.

Description From Goodreads:

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Expected release date: November 10, 2015.

#2

This is the second book in the Firebird trilogy and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. Oh my goodness. I finished A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU a couple of weeks ago and I want this book NOW! The reviews have been most excellent.

Description from Goodreads:

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents’ invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above Youfeatures Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

Expected release date:  November 3, 2015

#3

I am so looking forward to this new fantasy series steeped in Chinese folklore. I fell in love with SERPENTINE, by Cindy Pon, and if this is anything like that book, I am going to love it!!

Description from Goodreads:

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…

Expected release date:  November 3, 2015

#4

I fell in love with angel stories after reading Heather Burch’s Halfling books, and this series has not disappointed.  I’m really excited to read this one because it’s Cam’s story, and who doesn’t want to read about a brooding, bad-boy angel?

Description from Goodreads:

High school can be hell.

Cam knows what it’s like to be haunted. He’s spent more time in Hell than any angel ever should. And his freshest Hell is high school, where Lilith, the girl he can’t stop loving, is serving out a punishment for his crimes.

Cam made a bet with Lucifer: he has fifteen days to convince the only girl who really matters to him to love him again. If he succeeds, Lilith will be allowed back into the world, and they can live their lives together. But if he fails…there’s a special place in Hell just for him.

Tick-tock.

Spread your wings and cry as bad boy dark angel Cam finally reveals his anguished heart in the epic new FALLEN novel, UNFORGIVEN.

Expected release date:  November 10, 2015

#5

From my Freshman 15 big sister, Charlotte Huang, this debut novel sounds like fantastic fun and an un-put-downable read. I’m so excited for her and her rock star cast of characters.  Fans of the t.v. shows, The Voice and American Idol will love this book.

Description from Goodreads:

Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like… until she became one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything

Now she’s the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen heartthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level—not that they’re happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne’s bassist, are making life even more complicated.

Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band—and their fans—love her. If she doesn’t, she’ll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the grueling schedule… Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can’t?

Expected release date:  November 10, 2015

*****

So, do any of these tickle your fancy?  What YA books are you looking forward to reading?

She’s a SUPER FREAK. SUPER FREAK – You’ve gotta check ‘her’ out!!


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                                     Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing the cover for

Super Freak by Vanessa Barger

an MG title presented by Tantrum Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

 

Super Freak

Thirteen-year-old Caroline is a freak. Her parents have uprooted her to a town full of Supernaturals. You’d think she’d be thrilled. But, with someone without a magical bone in her body, this daughter of tree sprites feels like even more of an outcast than she has ever before.

To make matters worse, her new home is cursed. But when Caroline takes to investigating the mysterious and strange happenings of Harridan House, her BFF goes missing. Seems someone doesn’t want Caroline sticking her non-magical nose where it most certainly does not belong. Determined to prove herself, Caroline uncovers a plot to destroy her new hometown.

Undeterred, Caroline can’t give up. But what’s a human without magical powers to do? Caroline better figure it out fast, before she loses everything she has ever loved and the whispers she’s heard all her life prove true: Caroline is a useless superfreak.

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Super Freak by Vanessa Barger
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Tantrum Books
Genre: MG, Fantasy

BAM | Chapters | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

About-the-Author

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), the Virginia Writer’s Club, and the Hampton Roads Writers. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She is married to a fabulous man, and has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | YouTube

 

Giveaway

 

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

Titles not yet released will be upon its publication.

 

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#Month9Books reveals its Fall books preview!


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Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are sharing the

Month9Books Fall Books Preview!

Check out these amazing titles coming from Month9Books this Fall!.
They look amazing!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

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SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

“Vivid worldbuilding, incendiary romance, heart-pounding action, and characters that will win you over–I highly recommend Serpentine.” Cinda Williams Chima, best-selling author of the Seven Realms and Heir Chronicles fantasy novels

“Serpentine is unique and surprising, with a beautifully-drawn fantasy world that sucked me right in! I love Skybright’s transformative power, and how she learns to take charge of it.” ~Kristin Cashore, NYT Bestseller of the Graceling Realm Series

“Serpentine’s world oozes with lush details and rich lore, and the characters crackle with life. This is one story that you’ll want to lose yourself in.” ~ Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of Legend and The Young Elites

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Amazon | B&N | BAM | Chapters | Kobo | TBD | Mysterious Galaxy

 

About-the-Author

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Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Serpentine, the first title in her next Xia duology, will be published by Month9Books in September 2015. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at www.cindypon.com.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook |Tumblr| Goodreads

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Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.

What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.

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Amazon | TBD | Chapters | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Jenkins brings edge-of-your-seat adventure to this intriguing new world. I can’t wait to read more!”~ New York Times bestselling author Jessica Day George

Wow….WOW, WOW, WOW! I have no words to describe how much I love this book. Jenkins writes characters who are just so easy to love, and when you love a character it makes the book so much better. And I loved all the characters. Zo, Tess, Joshua and Gryphon. Gryphon is definitely my favorite – but who wouldn’t love Gryphon? Of course I do have a soft spot for our heroine, Zo.” ~Bri, Blogger @ Once Upon A Twilight

Nameless destroyed me in the best way possible. The romance was subtle, but written beautifully. The plot was very intriguing and the pacing was spot on. I loved the entire cast of characters, every single one of them added to the story. Trust me when I say you should preorder it, add it to your TBR, request it from your library, do whatever you have to do to get this book in your hands because if you are a YA fantasy fan like me you need this book in your life!” ~Bridget, Blogger @ Dark Faerie Tales

NAMELESS is epic storytelling at its best. My mind is still reeling from the world that I have just been immersed in and I don’t want to leave it. Can I please have the sequel NOW? Because I need to know what happens next but in the meantime I’m just going to re-read it again and again. Is it that good, you may ask? Hell yes!!! And you will think so too. Trust me.” Nancy, Blogger @ Tales of A Ravenous Reader

To say that I love this book is an understatement. It completely blew me away! I am so happy that I took a chance on it. NAMELESS is one book that you can re-read over and over again and it will still feel fresh! I cannot wait for the world to read it and fall under the NAMELESS spell. Because that’s what I feel like I am under, a spell that has me trapped in Zo’s world and won’t let me out! I don’t want out!“~Damaris, Blogger @ Good Choice Reading

About-the-Author

Jennifer Jenkins

With her degree in History and Secondary Education, Jennifer had every intention of teaching teens to love George Washington and appreciate the finer points of ancient battle stratagem. (Seriously, she’s obsessed with ancient warfare.) However, life had different plans in store when the writing began. As a proud member of Writers Cubed, and a co-founder of the Teen Author Boot Camp, she feels blessed to be able to fulfill both her ambition to work with teens as well as write Young Adult fiction.

Jennifer has three children who are experts at naming her characters, one loving, supportive husband, a dog with little-man syndrome, and three chickens (of whom she is secretly afraid).

Visit her online at jajenkins.com


Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest |Instagram

Minotaur.v3

“Where shall I start?” asked Minotaur.

Ovid made an expansive gesture with both hands. “Where else but the beginning of course.”

Minotaur nodded his huge head. “Yes,” he said. “Yes,” his eyes already glazing over with the weight of thousand year old memories. And then he began.

So begins the story of Asterion, later known as Minotaur, the supposed half bull creature of Greek legend. Recorded by the famous Roman poet, Ovid, Asterion tells of his boyhood in Crete under the cruel hand of his stepfather Minos, his adventures with his friend, Theseus, and his growing love for the beautiful Phaedra.And of course what really happened in the labyrinth.

This is the true story of the Minotaur.

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Lovers of mythology will enjoy this coming-of-age adventure and be surprised by the believable, “true story” of the Minotaur.”~ School Library Journal

About-the-Author

Phillip W Simpson

Phillip W. Simpson is the author of many novels, chapter books and other stories for children. His publishers include Macmillan, Penguin, Pearson, Cengage, Raintree and Oxford University Press.
He received both his undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology and his Masters (Hons) degree in Archaeology from the University of Auckland.
Before embarking on his writing career, he joined the army as an officer cadet, owned a comic shop and worked in recruitment in both the UK and Australia.
His first young adult novel, Rapture (Rapture Trilogy #1), was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for best Youth novel in 2012.

He is represented by Vicki Marsdon at Wordlink literary agency.

When not writing, he works as a school teacher.
Phillip lives and writes in Auckland, New Zealand with his wife Rose, their son, Jack and their two border terriers, Whiskey and Raffles. He loves fishing, reading, movies, football (soccer) and single malt Whiskeys.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

Giveaway

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SUFFER LOVE – a cover reveal


Everyone who knows anything about me knows that I’m a cover whore.  I will buy a book just for its cover, I tell you no lie.

Ashley Herring Blake, author of YA contemporary SUFFER LOVE, revealed her lovely cover to the world on July 6 with help from Jen over at Pop!Goes the Reader. It is no surprise Ashley’s cover made such an internet splash because the colors and the star and the promise of love are all so very swoon-worthy. All the gals at Sixteen to Read have been drooling over this YA debut for some time and can’t wait for her ARCs to start circulating. And, turns out? We don’t have to! The Advanced Reader Copies will begin to circulate next week. Yay! Stay tuned for all the ravings about this gorgeous love story!

Ashley’s cover appears below. Be warned. It’s GORG! And check out Pop!Goes the Reader (http://www.popgoesthereader.com/cover-reveal/cover-reveal-suffer-love-by-ashley-herring-blake/) for a full interview with the author.

Then add SUFFER LOVE (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23197843-suffer-love?ac=1) to your gotta-have-it-now Goodreads pile.

SUFFER LOVE

FIRSTS cover reveal by #sixteentoread Laurie Elizabeth Flynn


Hello, everyone! Jenny was nice enough to let me hijack her website, and I’m absolutely thrilled to share the cover for FIRSTS with you.

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 My first (pun intended) reaction when I saw the cover? I was floored. The insanely talented cover designer, Danielle Christopher, captured the essence of FIRSTS perfectly. It’s bold without being too provocative, edgy without being too suggestive. The color palette took my breath away. I was lucky enough to have the wonderful Amanda Maciel, an author whose work I greatly admire (TEASE is one of my all-time favorite young adult books), provide a blurb that makes my heart beat faster whenever I read it, and having her words on the cover is such an honor.

The first time I saw the cover turned into the second time. And third time. I whipped out my phone to check it while I was at work, oh, probably a hundred times. (I think I walked into a wall one of those times….)

 FIRSTS is a story about a lot of things. It’s about sex and rumors and secrets and slut-shaming. It’s about mistakes and friendship and lust and love. There’s laughter and tears and heartbreak and at the very core, a girl who is slowly learning that the only way to find the control she craves is to stop looking for it. And in one image, I think this cover conveys all those things.

I hope you all love it as much as I do! ❤

Laurie

SYNOPSIS:

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her own reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

AUTHOR BIO:

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn got hooked on writing in the fourth grade, when she repeatedly bugged her teacher for more paper to write her stories on. She later went to school for Journalism, where the most important thing she learned was that she would much rather write fiction than report the news.

Laurie also worked as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo, Athens, and Paris and spurred her obsession with all things fashion. She now lives in London, Ontario, Canada with her husband Steve, who is very understanding when she would rather spend time with the people in her head. Laurie can mostly be found at her writing desk, with the world’s most spoiled Chihuahua on her lap. Laurie drinks way too much coffee, snorts when she laughs, and times herself when she does crossword puzzles. FIRSTS is her debut novel.

You can visit Laurie’s website at www.laurieelizabethflynn.com or find her on Twitter at @laurellizabeth.

PUBLICATION INFO:

Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press

Release date: January 5, 2016

It’s a Teen Invasion


It’s that time of year for me to take a hiatus from my blog to write, edit, and write some more. In the past, I just went silent but this summer, at least for a month, I am turning my blog over to two teens, David and Charlotte, from my soon to be released novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING.

I have to tell you up front I have no idea what will spring forth from their fingers. I can tell you that David is quite nervous about it. He’s not one to voice his opinion. Charlotte, on the other hand, is quite vocal, but she promised me she would be nice, right Charlotte?

girl with thumbs up

They also said they would answer questions, too, and take ideas as they have no idea what to talk about.

Go figure … teens with nothing to talk about. Hmm. Is that even possible?  We shall see.

With that said, I will be here through the end of the week and beginning Monday, David Heiland will be on board to start off your week with whatever 16-year-old boys talk about. I hope you tune in now and then. It will be interesting.

What do ‘novel’ teens wear?


Every weekday I drive my teen son to the other side of our neighborhood to his bus stop.  Weird, I know, but it’s our time in the morning.  I have my cup of coffee, he drinks his juice and/or eats his breakfast (he’s a jump-out-of-bed-and-go kind of guy), and most of the time we talk, listen to music, laugh.  It’s become a routine since I lost my job in 2010 and trust me, I’m not going to balk when my teen wants to spend time with me.  (It’s also my way to protect these kids from kidnapping, bullying or sexual attacks).

Some days, like today, he had a headache and didn’t feel all that well, so he kicked the seat back and rested his eyelids until the bus came.  During that time, the writer in me kicked in and I became an observer once more.  Have you ever really looked at what teens wear to school these days?

There is one kid.  He’s average height and skinny as a rail, and I swear he doesn’t own one pair of jeans or pants.  Every day he arrives at the bus stop in knit shorts to his knees, black crew socks and a t-shirt – even when it’s 30 degrees outside.

Another bigger, bulkier guy wears either black socks or one black, one white sock with sandals every day.

There is this little petite brunette that wears the shortest shorts I’ve ever seen every day.  And on cold days, she throws on a pair of tights underneath and maybe some leggings.

Then there is the girl who wears tights for pants and they leave nothing to the imagination, including the fact that she either doesn’t wear underwear, or maybe there’s a thong in there somewhere.  Over that she wears a hip-length tunic or shirt, some really cute jewelry and her hair and makeup are always perfect.  I tell you, she must get up at 5:00 to get the look just right.

There’s another kid who smokes and another who smacks gum constantly. Oh, and did I mention they all have cell phones, and they are all texting and chatting at 6:20 in the morning with other peeps not at the bus stop?  And, they stand in cliques.  Every now and then, the cliques will talk to each other, but they still keep their respectable distance.

It dawned on me this morning how predictable these kids are and how much fun it would be to incorporate their ‘quirks’ into characters.  We all know the cliché characters who wear all black to meld into the background, or how certain colors show the personality of a character.  But what story could you write around any of the students like the ones above?

What kind of story would you write about a mom who takes her 17-year old son to the bus stop?  Without knowing the true story, we can all make up scenarios for what we see.  We can all draw conclusions.  We can all judge…

And it’s all acceptable to do when you’re a writer.  How else are we to develop our next teen characters in our novel?  It’s part of the process.  Observe.  Wonder.  Write.

What do your ‘novel’ teens wear?  Where do you find the inspiration for your teen characters?

Why I write


Why do I write?  And why young adult fantasy?  Don’t teens have enough to deal with?  Shouldn’t I focus more on offering teens solutions during these tough years rather than fill their heads with non-existent fluff?  Isn’t writing fantasy a bit egotistical?

Believe it or not, these are questions I’ve been asked over the past several years.  I respond this way:

  • I write because I love to write.  It’s as important to me as breathing.  If I go a day without writing, I get jittery.  My brain flips out.  It’s like I didn’t get my ‘fix’ and I’m in major withdrawal. It’s not pretty.
  • I like writing young adult books because kids need a place to escape, just like adults.  I like the audience.  I think they are an awesome bunch of peeps and not so stereotypical as adults make them out to be.
  • I write fantasy because kids, like adults, want to escape reality.  They want to go to a place where they can defeat any and all odds, where they can be the hero.
  • Fantasy is no different than any other genre in the lessons that can be taught and learned.  The lessons are just more intense.  The situations are taken to the extreme, but in the end, the hero ends up believing in himself and what he can accomplish, if he puts his mind to a task. I can’t think of a more practical lesson for a teen.
  • As for writing being an egotistical thing to do…well, yes it is.  It’s also a very giving art form.  We see the world a different way.  We hear dialogue differently.  We are always asking the proverbial question, What if?  Our dreams become more than images in our brains.  They take on a life of their own.  Unlike the general populace, writers have an inexplicable urge to share those dreams, those stories with others.  To do so, we have to share our deepest secrets, our hopes, our fears.  Unflinching courage is required to write.  Even more courage is required to ‘put it out there’ for others to read.  Rejection is very hard on a writer because writing is so close to our souls.  It makes us vulnerable and it takes a long time, sometimes years, to toughen our hide.  Even then, negative reviews still stab at our core.  And yet…we keep on because we have a story that has to be told.

In my case, I like fantasy because it is true escapism.  Of all the stories I clung to as a child, it was the fairytales that stuck with me the most.  The shining knights on white horses that rescued those in distress, the castles…magic.  Fantasy took me away from my problems of the here and now.  It made me invincible.  I could picture myself in gowns, or dressed in a poet shirt and trousers, fleeing on a horse through the woods from some despicable evil, a sword at my side.  There was always a sense of honor, integrity, a belief in doing what was right, not what was easy.  There was always a sense of danger around every corner, along with a knowing that the hero would prevail against all odds.  For me, fantasy provided, and still does, an escape, a release from the tensions of modern life.  The characters often face problems far more serious than our own.  Look at Katniss in the Hunger Games – forced into a game of life and death to save her sister and her family.  Fantasy readers understand that, no matter how big the problem (which are usually much bigger than our own), our hero will prevail.  It teaches us not to ever give up.  After all, if a seventeen year old can kill a dragon with a magic stone, then the seventeen year old reading the book may look at his Geometry test with a bit more confidence.

I found that writing fantasy is more difficult than reading it.  We ask our readers to suspend belief with a completeness that is not required in other genres.  We have to push the boundaries.  We ask our readers to invest themselves not only in a made-up tale, but a made-up world.  I think writing fantasy reminds people of how necessary it is to dream, to never lose your childish imagination.  Think about it.  Why do you think Disney is so popular?

I do write other types of fiction but no other genre fuels my imagination the way fantasy does. I shrug and say, So what.  I’m a hopeless romantic and dreamer in love with tales of King Arthur and Merlin.  If you ask me, the world would be better off with a little more magic.  What do you think?