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Tag Archives: young adult fiction

Celebrating the release of Saving Yesterday

Is everyone wearing their party hats and dancing shoes? We have some celebrating to do!

One – Does everyone know I launched a website at the beginning of the year? If not, please go check it out and let me know what you think.

Two – My Young Adult book Saving Yesterday, Book One in the TimeShifters series released TODAY.

SavingYesterday_CVR_MED

*tosses confetti in the air*

Back Cover Copy:

Her blood holds secrets she never knew existed.

Despite the fact that she acts as a parent to her alcoholic father, Gabby Creed feels pretty normal. But her life is turned upside-down on her seventeenth birthday when a bracelet appears on her wrist and sucks her back through time.

Turns out she’s not even a little bit normal. She’s a Shifter—a protector of humans and of history itself. And she’s not alone. The other Shifters believe Gabby is special, even more special than the mysterious Michael Pace. Oh, and the Shades—seriously creepy creatures who feed off of human despair—are determined to capture her.

It’s all a lot to absorb. So Gabby’s grateful to have Michael as her Trainer—or she would be if she could get her rebellious heart under control. Then again, if the rumors about her blood are true, saving yesterday will be the least of her worries.

Click to Purchase the Kindle edition

Click to Purchase the Print edition

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Currently Reading: The Selection

Confession. I haven’t gotten much sleep this week. And I can’t even blame it on being pregnant. Nope. It’s all author Kiera Cass’s fault because I just couldn’t put down her debut novel, The Selection.

 

So, they always tell you don’t judge a book by its cover, but, let’s face it, we do. Well, at least I do. This book jumped into my hands based on cover alone. I mean, let’s be serious, who doesn’t want that dress? If I had it I’d wear it every day. Like, even to cook dinner and sitting at my desk writing or to clean the bathroom.

Great part? The back cover description didn’t disappoint. Here’s what it says:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Delicious, no?

Dystopia threads are a dime a dozen these days but this one is refreshingly different. This one isn’t about a starving, poor teen who has lost at least one if not both of their parents. No, America Singer comes from a happy family and enjoys her life. Sure, she doesn’t live extravagantly and has even been hungry. The Singers never have enough, but America likes her life. There isn’t an evil leader killing of their own people, in fact, the royals seem downright nice.

I’m sick of love stories where the hero/heroine are both ready to drop everything in their life for each other in point seven seconds of meeting one another. The romance in The Selection felt genuine and had a hero worth falling for. America is a level headed, well-grounded teen. And we get to witness both her and Maxon healing realistically instead of not dealing with their issues or getting over their problems in ten seconds.

Speaking of Prince Maxon. Yes, please. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he’s not the typical cardboard-cut-out prince. Maxon is strong, smart, humble, kind, and beyond caring. It’s delightful to see a Young Adult book where a hero is treating the heroine respectfully in a loving relationship. He doesn’t try to control her (Twilight *cough*), nor is he a total push-over. He listens to her and he’s changed just as much as she is by their friendship.

The other male lead (love triangle, folks…welcome to YA fiction) is a very typical first-love, high schoolish-type boy. I honestly can’t see why anyone would root for Aspen but I’m sure his fangirls are out there. He shows a very immature version of love. It’s all physical and completely ego-driven. He doesn’t seem to care about the danger he places America in when they go against rules. And he places his feelings far above hers. We’re told there’s a spark between Aspen and America, but for the life of me, I never saw it while reading. Whereas every scene between America and Maxon sizzled with humor, trust, conversation, and wit.

If you’re looking for the next action packed dystopia adventure, this is not the book for you. But if you read Hunger Games and found yourself wishing there was more romance (like…if you wish the whole book was mostly Peeta and Katniss in the cave), pick up The Selection. This is a fun read. Don’t expect spellbinding writing or amazing dialogue. I’d put this book in the deliciously indulgent category. And know what? That’s the category I go back to for all the books I reread over and over again.

This book has already been picked up by the CW for a new show and I’m chomping at the bit to find out when the pilot will air. Many of the actors have already been cast. I’ve already pre-ordered The Elite (book two) to my Kindle and it doesn’t even come out until next April! The wait is killing me already…

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If I find a YA book or romance book that is to die for, I’ll share the details. My author friends even stop by!

Genre Identity Crisis

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I’m looking for your input, your opinions.

Do you prefer an author to write in a single genre, or will you follow that author no matter what type of book they release next?

Imagine Nicholas Sparks came out with a sci-fi trilogy….would you buy it? Or would you say he’s gone off his rocker for ditching his tagline heart-wrenching love stories?

Why do I ask?

There is a believe – a rule – in the publishing world that once an author publishes a novel in one genre they must continue to write the same type of thing. So let’s say my first release is a western family saga – they tell me readers would be upset if my next ten weren’t westerns with deep family ties as well.

But this thought gives me hives. I don’t want to have to write just one thing.

See, right now I have a contemporary western completed (a very serious piece). I have a historical with contemporary elements completed (which is two parts adventure, a genrous helping of humor, and plenty of dashing heroes.

I’m in the process of penning a sappy Christmas story (straight historical) but it keeps getting interrupted by a young adult fantasy idea that wakes me up in the middle of the night begging to be written.

Add to the mix that sometimes I toy with the idea of writing for both mainstream and the Christian publishing industry. Basically, I’ve got a genre identity crisis on my hands.

What does a writer do? Stop writing the stories that don’t fit into their assigned niche? Pen names for each genre? Or does one trust that readers are looking for compelling stories (not just a niche).

Why The Hunger Games is the most “Christian” book I’ve read in a long time

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Know what drives me nuts? Prejudgment. All forms of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone prejudging another person, a situation, or a book – it makes me angry. The only thing that’s worse than prejudging, are those who rely on other’s to form their judgments for them.

Now, since I’m a writer, I’m going to stick to books for this Monday Musing. Something that really bothers me among Christians is the idea that all mainstream books must somehow be avoided. If the writer doesn’t spew forth scripture and mention the name of Jesus a minimum of sixteen times in the book, then it’s worthless.

As the Hunger Games series grew in popularity, I waited, because I knew the conservative bloggers and radio hosts were salivating to jump all over these books. And they didn’t disappoint. I read countless times: The Hunger Games is evil! Kids killing kids shouldn’t be glorified! No Christian should read these books! Keep them out of our precious children’s hands!

It was Harry Potter all over again. One radio show I heard spent an hour denouncing the books so when the question time opened, I called. I got through and I asked if anyone on the program had read the books. Silence. Then they answered no, but that they didn’t have to because they knew what it was about. I hung up and haven’t listened to the radio show since.

See, I’ve always been a big fan of using the brain the good Lord gave me.

When the Harry Potter series created a stir I read them. Know what I found? A story that teaches that love is the most powerful force on Earth. A whole series based around the fact that Harry was protected because someone loved him enough to lay down their life sacrificially for him, so that Harry might live. The Potter series is all about sacrificing yourself for others, even people you don’t like. Good triumphs evil. How were these bad messages? Aren’t these the same truths taught in the Bible?

Saint Augustine gave us the idea that all truth is God’s truth when he said, “A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature, but rejecting superstitious vanities and deploring and avoiding those who ‘though they knew God did not glorify him as God.”

Which leads me to The Hunger Games (a series so wonderfully written and captivating that it took me only four days to fly through all three books). I hear the shouts: It’s a story about kids killing each other, yes and no. Although, I’d have to ask, if it is, how is that any different or better than Aslan sending the Pevensie children into hand-to-hand battle?

For those believing this is a story that glorifies killing each other, I’ll share Katniss’ quote (who is the heroine of The Hunger Games series): “Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences. You can spin it any way you like. Snow thought the Hunger Games were an efficient means of control. Coin thought the parachutes would expedite the war. But in the end, who does it benefit? No one. The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen.” Clearly, those who miss the fact that this story is serving as a warning, miss the point entirely.

What is the Hunger Games about? Let’s see, little guy volunteers to fight and takes on insurmountable odds (and needs to kill in order to win)….huh, sounds and awful lot like David and Goliath.

I find it funny that these devote Bible-bangers somehow forget that much of the history of the old testament is that of violence and God sending people into war. Often they were instructed to slay every man, woman, and child (as well as livestock) within a city. When God sends the ten plagues, who does he come after? All the first born CHILDREN. Why? Because sometimes we only sit up and listen when terrible things happen to kids.

This is the same theme of the Hunger Games. The people of Panem have watched year after year as their ‘firstborns’ are taken away from them to die, but it’s not until one special volunteer goes to the games and bucks the system that a change in the country can happen (huh, again, oddly like little someday-to-be King David). On top of all this the character of Peeta is a perfect example of Christ-like love. A person who loves to the point of death, a love that isn’t based on the other person’s actions, emotions, or ever receiving anything in return.

And for that matter, my read through the Hunger Games series brought more self-reflection and led to more worshipful moments than any Christian book has in the last five years. I found myself constantly stopping and asking questions. If I was in the same situation what would I do? Would my character be strong enough to be like Peeta and say “If I’m going to die, I want to be me. I don’t want them to change me.”? Or would I be weak and allow circumstances to morph my moral fibers? Could I truly put others before myself, even if that meant my own demise? What does it look like to obey a leader whose actions you don’t agree with? What is true love? What characteristics make a man hero-worthy? When is rebellion allowable — or is it? Am I humble enough to accept help without feeling beholding? Could I lie to my heart for as long as Katniss did? Do I place ideals (like Gale) or people (like Peeta) first? Each instance that I found myself lacking, it drove me to my knees in prayer. It sent me searching scripture to find out what I truly believed. And it challenged me to become a better person.

I can’t name one Christian book that’s caused such thought and change to occur in my heart. Not one.

Bold statement time. I hope someday to write a YA novel engaging enough to catch the attention of mainstream teens. No, I have no aim to sell millions or have movie deals. That’s not it at all, but if I can capture the imagination and thoughts of a handful of mainstream readers, then yes, I believe that would be considered success to me.

Look at Stephanie Meyers – who wrote this way brilliantly. A read through the Twilight series doesn’t smack you in the face with the thought “this was written by a Mormon.” Not once. But you better believe that all the Mormon values are woven seamlessly through the story (purity, roles of men and women, sin, and forgiveness, afterlife). Say what you will about the poor quality of writing or the evils of vampires, it was a story that was told in an engaging enough way to capture the imagination for millions of readers. Any author worth their salt should perk up and pay attention to books that have mass followings. Not to copy (you won’t find me writing about vampires, dystopias, or wizards any time soon) but to ask yourself WHY did this touch people?

Much love -Jess

Character Interview: Eden Morgan

Today author K. Dawn Byrd is giving away a free download of her book Mistaken Identity to one lucky person who leaves a comment. Mistaken Identity is a young adult novel and this give-away is available to anyone in the world (rejoice my Dutch and Australian readers)! If are a young adult, enjoy young adult fiction, or know a young adult, entering the drawing today is a must.

Mistaken Identity

Eden Morgan makes a list of six goals to accomplish in order to have the best summer ever. Getting a boyfriend, which is perhaps the most important goal, becomes complicated when she and her best friend, Lexi, fall for the same guy. Since Lexi is popular, gorgeous, and always gets her guy, Eden thinks she doesn’t have a chance.

Channing Johnson is everything Eden’s ever dreamed of and she can’t believe he just moved in next door. When he starts showing interest in her, she’s overjoyed…until she sees him out on a date with Lexi. He says Lexi talked him into it to repay her for tutoring him. Lexi says they’re in love.

Eden doesn’t know who to believe and is forced to choose between her best friend and the guy of her dreams. Nothing is as it seems and no matter who she chooses, someone will get hurt.

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Character Interview of Eden Morgan

So, Eden, when you listed getting a boyfriend as one of your six goals for the best summer ever, what kind of guy did you have in mind?

First of all, he’d have to be a Christian. Second, my parents would have to like him and approve. Third, he’d have to be gorgeous.

You’re a Christian and your friend, Lexi, is a wild party girl. You don’t seem to have enough in common to be BFFs.

Actually, our moms were best friends when we were born and we kind of grew up together. You’re right, she’s wild and a little crazy sometimes. I guess I hoped that maybe she’d start going to church with me and leave the party scene behind.

What about Channing do you love?

What’s not to love? He’s a jock, my parents love him, and he’s good to me. I’ve never had the greatest self-esteem and it makes me feel better about myself just to be around him. I never would have guessed in a million years that I could land a guy like Channing.

But, you went to a dance with Jeremy, not Channing. What was up with that?

Okay, I know Jeremy is Lexi’s ex-boyfriend, so before you start lecturing me, let me give you the details. Jeremy and I have been friends forever. He’s like my best guy friend. Anyway, he was feeling really down over Lexi dumping him and needed a date. I felt sorry for him, so I went to cheer him up. Plus, things weren’t exactly going that great between me and Channing at that moment anyway.

What did you learn in Mistaken Identity?

I learned that sometimes even BFFs can’t be trusted, especially when it comes to guys. I learned that if you really love a guy, sometimes you just have to trust him, no matter how bad things look. And, I learned that sometimes BFFs don’t stay BFFs forever and that’s okay.

I’ve heard there will be a sequel to Mistaken Identity. Will you be in it?

The sequel to Mistaken Identity is called Shattered Identity. It will be out in March. It’s Lexi’s story and I’ll play a small part, but I’m taking a back seat so she can tell her story.

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Purchase links: Amazon, Desert Breeze, Christianbook.com, Barnes & Noble

To learn more about author K. Dawn Byrd check out her website and blog.