Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

Why Readers and Authors Should Use Goodreads Listopia

If you’ve used the site called Goodreads but haven’t used its feature known as Listopia, you’re missing a fun and easy way to find exactly the books you’d like to read. And if you’re an author, you should make sure your books appear on Listopia lists where new readers can find them.

Joining Goodreads.com is free, so do it if you haven’t already.

Once you’re on the Goodreads Home page, go to “Browse” in the menu and drop down to “Lists.” You’ll see a page similar to this one, with featured and popular lists. In the upper right hand corner, you can search for names of lists. I always search for “Teen” and “YA.”

listopiasearch

Farther down the page, you can search for a tag that a list-maker may have placed on the list when it was created. Search keywords associated with books you enjoy, such as a particular sport or art.

Be as broad or as specific in your searches as you like. When you find a list that interests you, peruse the books, which will be listed according to the number of votes they’ve received from readers.

Here’s a list that 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status is on, “Best Books for Christian teenage girls and young women.” It is currently 23rd on the list, with 7 votes. And look at what good company it’s in!

listwith10steps

Goodreads no longer allows authors to add their books to lists or to vote on their own books. But authors can create lists when they see the need for one, as I did for the list “YA novels with a hearing impaired teen character.” (At that time, I was allowed to add 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status to it myself.) I made some of the readers I know enjoyed the novel aware of this particular list, hoping they would vote for my book. A few did.

When you go to any single book’s Goodreads page, such as for 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, scroll down through its reviews until you see “Lists with this book.” This is the example from that novel. As you see beneath those two lists, you can find “More lists with this book…”

listswiththisbook

 

If you like a book, you will find books similar to it by looking at its lists.

When you find a list that contains books you’d like to read and some you’ve read, other readers will appreciate your voting on the ones you’ve enjoyed. Votes help other readers decide which books to read next.

Authors will appreciate those votes, too.

Do you use Goodreads Listopia lists? In which way and how often?

 

Advertisements
9 Comments »

A Giveaway and a Never-Before SALE Worldwide

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FRONT COVER  FIRST TIME FOR THIS BOOK! On Monday, February 20th (President’s Day), look for 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status in the Kindle version at the special price of only 99 cents in the U.S., £0.99 in U.K, $1.29 in Australia, and $1.30 in Canada! Just go to the book’s Amazon listing on February 20th for your country. Check the Amazon sites for other countries not mentioned, if you happen to live elsewhere. This book may be listed and on sale there, too (English version only).

 

6-dates-to-disaster-fc-5x8  PLUS! Now through April 16th, enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of 6 Dates to Disaster on Goodreads.com. If you are not a member of Goodreads, membership is free. There you will find lots of giveaways for books you may be planning to read anyway, as well as books you haven’t heard of yet. See what others like yourself are reading and enjoying (or not)! Enter for 6 Dates to Disaster here! This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only, but be sure to tell your friends in the U.S. Thanks!

 

Leave a comment »

Release Day! First Scene Preview: 6 Dates to Disaster

banner3book

My publisher featured 6 Dates to Disaster today on the Write Integrity Press blog with the first scene for your convenience. I hope you enjoy reading it!

This is the third book of the Bird Face series, and Jennifer is back in Wendy’s life, although not shown in the first scene. The story addresses honesty and how dishonesty can damage a teen’s relationships and future.

Be sure to check out all three of the books so far in the series on my Amazon author page! (The original Bird Face book, which is out-of-print, is still listed there, too. That story became 8 Notes to a Nobody.)

Thank you for reading.

Cynthia

Leave a comment »

Give Fiction Readers What They Want: Someone to Care About

 

sw_vlad-kryhin

Credit: Vlad Kryhin, courtesy of Snapwire

I read a lot of novels, usually at least one per week. And I get asked by a lot of authors to read their new releases.

I feel honored and privileged to be asked, so I read as many as I possibly can while not neglecting the titles I select for myself. But I have become very picky.

Besides being an author, I am a reader desiring quality entertainment just like the rest.

While attending to a good plot, or a good personal problem to solve in a character-driven novel, a few authors ignore this duty: to give the readers the emotional connection they want. And only those important to the story, if you please.

From my experience as a reader, that has everything to do with point of view.

I need a single POV (point of view) character, or at most, two POV characters. I enjoy getting into one or two main characters’ heads and viewing or feeling everything as though I’m in their skin. That’s deep POV, and I crave it, particularly in contemporary fiction. I find it jarring to jump around among several characters’ POVs, whether it’s for each scene or each chapter. Just when I get emotionally attached to a character—BAM!—the door slams shut and I have to get used to someone else. I only have the time and emotional energy to connect with and care deeply about one or two characters, not three, four, five, or six. And yes, sometimes authors use that many POVs.

The justification by the author for multiple POVs is typically that he or she wants the reader to know what all those characters are thinking. But why? Is every thought in their heads important to the advancement of the plot? Most often, I find that they are not.

And there’s the problem—the author is writing what the author wants. Not what the reader may want. The reader may not care what each and every character who appears more than once in a story is thinking. And may not have time to care.

In YA (young adult) fiction, where the focus of the story and the POV character(s) should be the young people, why would an author want to place the reader inside a parent’s or other adult’s head? And yet I see that sometimes, when it adds nothing to the story.

I appreciate the skill of an author who can tell me everything I need to know about the story through the eyes of one character. Maybe two, as in a romance or possibly a crime thriller.

Like me, readers want to feel a strong emotional connection that will carry them throughout a story. They want to care what happens to the main character(s) in the end, even if they want the bad guy to get his just desserts. My feeling is, that level of caring does not apply to every POV character in some otherwise good stories.

So please, have mercy on my tired reader’s brain and my emotional health. Place me inside the heads of only the characters that truly need to tell me their story.

Cynthia T. Toney

6 Comments »

What would you advise your teenage self?

DrawingTeenCouple

A happy couple, drawn in high school.

Here is a pep talk I would give my 15-1/2-year-0ld self if I could. I borrowed the post from the group blog I also write for, The Scriblerians.

With the wisdom you’ve acquired, what would you say to your younger self?  (Even if you’re still in high school.) https://thescriblerians.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/pep-talk-to-my-15-%C2%BD-year-old-self/

 

Leave a comment »

Meet Hanna: teen reader, writer, ballerina, jewelry maker

hanna.nutcracker1

Hanna in The Nutcracker

Meet my friend Hanna. She’s 16 years old and lives in Texas.

If you thought home-schooled teens might be out of touch or uninvolved with what’s going on outside, you don’t know Hanna!

Here’s your chance to get to know her.

Welcome, Hanna. Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I was born in Washington, but we moved to Texas when I was a year old. I learned to read when I was three and started writing when I was eight. My mother had started writing her novel, Moonfall around that time, and I guess she was one of the initial reasons I got into it.

I think one of the biggest parts of my life, one that’s affected me as a person, would be the complications of my health. When I was five, I was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and when I was 14, I was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia, as well as peraformis syndrome.

It’s important for anyone with a disease or a disorder to remember that you are not your disease/disorder, it does not define you. What defines you is how you react to it. And I like to try and live by that, because this is something I have to live with every day and it can be more than just hard, but I’m doing it. I guess that’s what makes me, me.

Do you read a lot? Which kinds of books do you like to read?

I try to read as often as I can; most recently I read Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: the Sword of Summer. I’ll read more often and faster if it’s something I find compelling or interesting. That goes for both fiction and non-fiction.

Would you like to write a book like any of those someday? Or if you’re writing one now, what is it about?

I love writing just as much as I love reading, if not more so. I mainly write sci-fi and contemporary fantasy and I have a huge folder on my laptop just for book-y stuff. It’s kind of overflowing actually.

I do have a couple I’ve put most of my focus into though. The main one I’m working on is about a soon-to-be 16 year-old girl, named Valentine Arzela. Her mother disappeared when she was very young and ever since then, a string of related disappearances have occurred. At least until the day she kinda accidentally blows up a supermarket parking lot and two winged teens pay a visit, both with very different agendas and both wanting her to join their cause.

Which character in the Bird Face series of books did you like the most? Is that because she (or he) reminds you of yourself or because you’d like her (or him) as a friend?

I think I liked Wendy the most. I liked being inside her head. She was cute and funny in her own way and reminds me of myself at a younger age, haha. She’s relatable.

What are your hobbies?

Outside of reading and writing, I love dancing, hanging out with my friends, listening to music, and singing. Mostly dancing though; I love ballet, pointe, and contemporary.

I also make jewelry. I’ve been doing that for several years, probably since I was about 8 when my grandmother bought me some stretchy string and a small bead kit and asked me to make her a necklace, hehe. The next Christmas, my parents loaded me up with beads and tools. Now I’ve made quite a bit in bulk and I’m about to start an online store to sell everything I’ve made.

What is the best thing about being home-schooled? What is the worst thing?

Best thing? Well there are a lot of things I love about it. I like getting to sit on a couch instead of a hard chair and not having to work as long as my friends who go to the local public schools. I like getting to choose my curriculum and having my parents around to help me if I’m having trouble. It’s pretty cool, in my opinion, haha.

(I would’ve enjoyed that!)

The worst thing about it…either not having school clubs or having a harder time getting into, as well as finding information on, SAT/ACT tests and Dual Credit at local colleges. There are more forms to fill out and it can get very confusing.

Do you do things with teens who are homeschooled and/or with other teens?

I haven’t met many homeschooled teens, but last year I took dance with one and we starred in the Nutcracker ballet together. Most of the teens I know are from my dance classes, and they all go to public school.

As for what we do…we mainly just hang out at dance since we see each other there every week, haha, but sometimes we’ll go out to eat after competitions or weekend classes. With my two best friends though, we’ll go to each other’s houses and birthday parties. We’re actually planning a shopping trip soon.

Do you have a lot of friends or one or two close ones? Why?

I can count my friends on one hand and my closest friends with two fingers. I do love socializing and meeting new people, but I’m also really picky about who I consider a part of my inner circle. And, personally, I feel like having a small, tight group is better than having several ‘friends’ that you don’t really know and can’t rely on.

What makes a good friend for you?

Someone who will keep your secrets, give it to you straight, and voice their opinions, but won’t judge you for yours. A good friend is someone you can rely on and someone who won’t lie to you or go behind your back. And someone who’s quirky and funny and original is totally the bomb, in my more personal opinion.

Are you friends with any boys?

Yes, one, he’s my best friend actually. I’ve known him longer than any of my other friends and I’m closer to him than anyone else I know.

What is the best thing about friendship with a boy?

Well, being someone who always wanted a brother, it’s kind of like having one. That’s one of the best things to me, having a guy who will stick up for you and be that big brother figure even if he’s younger than you (by a year and a few months, HA) and also give you advice on guys if necessary.

(I always wanted a brother close to my age, too. Just like my character Wendy.)

If you’ve ever had a bad argument with a best friend, what was it about?

Yes…the details I would rather not talk about, but yes, I have fought with a best friend before. And because of what caused the fight and their actions since then, we are no longer friends.

What do you look forward to this summer? Next year? After you graduate high school?

For the summer, it’s having my school done, ha! Next year: SAT and PSAT tests and starting dual credit at the community college. After high school: I can’t wait to go to college and live in the dorms and have the big textbooks – I LOVE TEXTBOOKS…and now I probably sound like a nerd, ahaha.

earrings1

Earrings created by Hanna

I hope you enjoyed meeting Hanna. Visit her jewelry website, coming soon: http://handmadeeclectic.com

 

5 Comments »

How Many Characters Are Too Many?

Crowd

Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

I recently picked up a novel with a roster of characters listed in front. It seemed like a lot of characters even for a thriller, so I did some math.

Based on the number of pages, a new character would be introduced on average every 7.4 pages. That seemed like a lot of characters to keep track of.

So I discarded the book and moved on to another novel. Did I do the right thing?

Possibly. I began to wonder if all the characters named by the author played an important role in the story. What if some of them were mentioned only once and didn’t need a name? I suspected such when reading their descriptions. Or maybe they were necessary for only one chapter, to reveal something important about another character.

I can think of characters like that in my books. For one, the policeman who came to the classroom when Tookie collapsed. My first publisher had me give him a name; my second publisher probably would’ve preferred I delete the name. Now I wish I had.

I don’t believe I want to provide a character roster for any of my novels, and I suspect the thriller author may have done his story a disservice by having one. When reading a good story that is well-written, I haven’t found the need for knowing characters’ names in advance, unless they are foreign-language names I might easily confuse. And that has happened.

Does the proportion of characters to novel length matter to you? Do you prefer that an author list the character names and roles in the front of the book or not?

14 Comments »

Introducing Mattie, Teen Reader

Mattie.Bessie.heads

Mattie at home with her dog, Bessie

If you’ve read 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, you’ll recognize the name “Mattie” as one of the characters. This is where I got the name!

Meet Mattie, a young lady around 15 years old, who was the first reader to contact me back when the original Bird Face was published. She wrote the sweetest letter and raised my spirits as an author when I needed it most. So naturally I wanted to name a character after her. 🙂

Although the real Mattie is not all that similar to my fictional character Mattie, she is amazing and worth writing about! She kindly agreed to allow me to interview her.

Cynthia: Welcome to the blog, Mattie. Tell us a little about yourself—what combination of personality, interests, and abilities makes Mattie who Mattie is?

Mattie: I’m a creative, quirky girl, who loves to read, write, and paint. I also spend a lot of time performing. I enjoy acting because I get to pretend to be someone else. It reminds me of when I was little, and I would run around screaming, “I’m a FAIRY!”

Cynthia: You’re very talented! I can understand how you would relate to the characters in my books. You have a combination of their talents.

Which kinds of books do you like to read, and would you like to write a book similar to any of those someday?

Mattie: I like to read books that have a little mystery and romance. Books about actors are also very interesting to me, since they help me improve my craft. If I ever write a book in the future, it will probably be about life experiences I’ve had and how God has helped me get through them.

MattieReading

Cynthia: Terrific. The good thing for writers is that we can turn our experiences–good or bad–into a book.  And we can honor our friends by naming characters after them.

Do you have a lot of friends you hang out with or one or two close ones?

Mattie: I have a few close friends.

Cynthia: What makes a good friend for you?

Mattie: A person who loves to laugh always makes a great friend for me! It is so fun to joke around with my close friends. Especially when we get it on video, and we can laugh about it again later.

Cynthia: I wish my friends and I had been able to record ourselves!

What is the best thing about friendship with a boy? What is the worst?

Mattie: Hanging out with a guy is fun because we can play a sport or a video game which I wouldn’t normally do with my girly friends. However, the worst thing about having guy friends is that they are harder to relate to.

Cynthia: Yeah, having at least one guy friend is great for getting a male perspective on a situation, seeing the world through his eyes, but for some things you need your gal pals.

Because you have both male and female friends, I must ask you: which character in the series do you like the most?

Mattie: My favorite character is Sam. He would be a great friend to have because he knows just what to say or do when someone is upset. He is very caring.

Cynthia: Aww. Sam is one of my favorites too, even though he and Wendy have a couple of arguments, or at least misunderstandings.

Have you ever had a bad argument with the person who was your best friend, and what was it about?

Mattie: One time, I was aggravated with my best friend, and I made fun of her most hated flaw. She was super offended, and she wouldn’t talk to me for the whole day. Fortunately, she forgave me for saying something so inconsiderate, and we are still besties!

Cynthia: Wow, you two are good friends. I always feel bad if I make a comment to someone I like and she gets that hurt look on her face. Sometimes I’m kinda like Wendy was in the first book, lacking in social skills.

In your opinion, what is your best quality or social skill? Which quality or skill would you like to develop?

Mattie: My best quality is that I’m not afraid to be myself. I am comfortable in my own skin. I would like to develop the skill of small talk. When I am first meeting someone, it can be hard for me to make conversation since I hardly know them.

Cynthia: It’s great that you’re comfortable being yourself. Some teens don’t feel that way.

If you worry, what do you worry about the most? What kind of action do you take to solve the problem or get your mind off worrying about it?

Mattie: I usually worry about silly things like what I’m going to wear to an event or how I’m going to decorate my room. I will read, do some homework, or watch T.V. to clear my head.

Cynthia: Are you public, private, religious or home-school educated? What is the worst thing about school? What is the best thing?

Mattie: I go to a public school. About 50% of the stuff I learn in school will probably go to waste. I doubt I’ll remember the elements of the Periodic Table by the time I’m 30. I still like school because I get to see my friends all the time, and I eat yummy pizza for lunch everyday!

Cynthia: Thanks for visiting, Mattie. I hope this semester of the school year goes as well as the first!

If you enjoyed meeting Mattie as much as I did and would like to see her in action, she’d love for you to follow her Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC94_Sy-pS_Rct9ZNEMyOM4Q

 

 

 

5 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: