Bird Face Wendy

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

A Story of First Love, Buried Treasure, and Waiting

Rightfully Ours Front  Author Carolyn Astfalk is enjoying the release of her first Young Adult (YA) novel, which I am looking forward to reading. I wonder if she notices the parallels between elements of the book’s story and her journey as an author, which she recently shared with me.

Until now, Carolyn’s published titles were adult inspirational romance, Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces. I’m always curious about authors who try writing a different genre, so I asked her to explain how that happened. Here’s what she said:

“Although Rightfully Ours is my third published book, it is the first novel I wrote, before my two new adult/adult inspirational romances. Most of the first draft of Rightfully Ours was written during National Novel Writing Month in 2010, which I began without a clue as to what I was doing and only a newspaper clipping for inspiration. Because the story involves a treasure hunt, both literally and figuratively, I think young protagonists were a perfect fit. Teens generally have a natural optimism and enthusiasm that open their hearts to discovering truth, beauty, and the possibility of treasure unimpeded by the cynicism and practicality that many of us adults have adopted.”

These are some of the similarities I notice between Carolyn’s journey and the description of this book:

This YA novel about first love was her first manuscript! Dare I say YA might be her first true love among genres?

Like the treasures in the story, this treasure of a book had to be discovered in the right way at the right time.

Finding a treasure requires patience. Waiting. Nothing about treasures is supposed to be easy, is it?

Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep. 

Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side-by-side to uncover what could be lost treasure. 

Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake? 

The teen characters in Rightfully Ours learn to wait as they strive for premarital chastity. The author: “…it will touch the hearts of young people trying to discover the truth and beauty of human sexuality … this book’s journey has come to fruition just as my oldest child is on the verge of entering high school.”

Some might call it coincidence that this novel achieved publication so many years after being written. Others might call it fate or the simple result of the author’s determination to see this YA book in print.

But Carolyn says, “God’s timing is perfect.” I must agree.

Enjoy this trailer for Rightfully Ours. Learn more about Carolyn Astfalk and her books by visiting her website.

Let’s welcome Carolyn to the exciting world of writing for teens!

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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.”

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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!

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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…”

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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?

 

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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!

 

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Recreation for Re-creation

Credit: sw_lynne-warren, Snapwire

 

If you are dedicated to your career, you’re probably stuck in your office, in the store you manage, or in front of a computer more than 40 hours a week. A problem always seems to exist that requires your immediate attention.

But this time the answer eludes you.

It happens a lot to writers, too. Sometimes our focus can be so I intense that we don’t see the big picture, and we lose the creativity needed to find a solution.

As sports-columnist character Ray Barone said in the sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond:

“Sometimes you have to stop thinking about it so you can really think ABOUT it.” 

Ray was trying to pull a fast one on his wife, who popped in at the newspaper where he worked, but he spoke the truth in his own deceitful way.

We sometimes need to step back and view our work from a distance, perhaps as an outsider. Place some space and time between our problem or project and ourselves. Think of something else.

I can’t fill my time with nonsense, you might say. I don’t have time for a break. When this job is done, then I’ll relax. 

But recreation leads to re-creation, or creating anew. When we return to our problem or project, we might see it in a new way. And often, we are excited to get back to work.

The filler is sometimes the fanner of the creative flame. The break is sometimes the boost to our brains.

So eat a relaxing meal in a restaurant instead of fast food.

Volunteer for a few hours for the enjoyment of it.

Take a walk or go camping, and listen to nature.

Visit with family or friends.

The answer you seek might be out there somewhere.

 

 

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Battle between Darkness and Light: author Katy Huth Jones

Note from Bird Face Wendy: I’ve read two of this author’s books (including the one featured below) and recommend them for teens and adults. Now for Katy …

 

Since I was a young girl, I’ve been aware of the great battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. In the 1960s, Communism embodied the darkness in my mind, because that’s what my parents talked about. They had met while working at the CIA and saw current events filtered through what they’d learned, things that the average citizen did not know. Other turmoil of the sixties added to my realization that all was not right in the world.

 

Later I came to realize that the physical battles were but a reflection of the great spiritual battle taking place all around us. I discovered books about real people standing valiantly against the forces of darkness, even when they often lost their lives doing so. The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place were two stories that made a profound impact on me at a young age, and I wanted to emulate the heroism demonstrated by Anne Frank and the ten Boom sisters.

 

One historical person came to embody this great spiritual battle in a personal way for me. The story of Saint Wenceslas (Good King Wenceslas, as you may know him) touched me so much I had to know everything that was knowable about his life of faith. Even as a very young man, his fervor for light and truth shone in the midst of a dark and evil time (the early 10th century, the Dark Ages). Wenceslas stands as a beacon of hope not only to the people of his time, but to those of us living today. I wrote his story as Treachery and Truth: A Story of Sinners, Servants, and Saints.

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My two YA fantasy series have similar themes of finding hope and light in the midst of darkness, though one is more overtly Christian than the other.

In all my books, I show through my characters how young people can demonstrate courage and faith while struggling to make sense of the turmoil of our current times, just as I did in the sixties.

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Katy Huth Jones in costume similar to a 10th century woman’s in Bohemia

Katy Huth Jones grew up in a family where creative juices overflowed and made puddles to splash in. When not writing or sewing or drawing or taking photos, Katy plays piccolo and flute in The Symphony of the Hills. She lives with her husband Keith in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Their two sons, whom she homeschooled, have flown the nest and live creative lives of their own. Best of all, she is a cancer survivor.

Visit Katy’s blog at http://www.katyhuthjones.blogspot.com or contact her on twitter @KatyHuthJones

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A Christmas Sampling of Good Books

Over the past several months, I’ve probably read the largest variety of books for children and young adults ever for me. It was hard to narrow down a selection of only a few to include in this post. Out of fairness, I chose works from authors I’ve never before featured on this blog. And they happen to include books for audiences ranging from young children to college-age. I hope you enjoy learning about them and consider them for Christmas gifts this year!

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FINDING PATIENCE (Adventures of Faith, Hope, and Charity)

The author, Virginia Lieto, describes her illustrated book: For children, waiting for anything seems endless! Faith Livingstone, age eight, would agree, having just moved to a new town and about to enter a new school. Faith wants so badly to make new friends and feel like she belongs in her new surroundings. It all can’t happen fast enough for Faith! Journey with Faith as she struggles to make new friends and learns an important lesson in the value of the virtue of patience.

The author’s website: http://virginialieto.com

My reaction to this book: This story is so sweet, I almost cried! It can help children understand that their needs won’t (and shouldn’t) always be met immediately. Some things they want and need are worth waiting (and praying) for. The ending is perfect and took me by surprise, which is not easy to do. I recommend this book as a gift any time of year, and if you purchase it well before Christmas, it may help a child practice patience before receiving other gifts.

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PALACE OF THE TWELVE PILLARS (Book one of the series by the same name)

The author, Christina Weigand, describes this novel:

The Peace Summit was in shambles, the prince kidnapped.

When the rival king realizes he kidnapped the wrong prince, hostilities escalate. Loyalties to each other and country are tested for the twin princes of Crato, Joachim and Brandan.

Joachim, captive of King Waldrom, faces deception and betrayal as he struggles to find his way home. Brandan, at home with a father focused on rescuing Joachim, wrestles with his own demons as he searches for his place in the world and the favor of his father.

Torn from the safety and peace of their childhood, they are thrust into a world where bonds of family, brotherhood and roles as heirs to Crato are tested. Through war, spiritual journeys, death and marriage, will they choose the path of good or evil? Who can be trusted, as the world they know slips into a whirlpool of chaos?

The author’s website: www.weigandchris.com

My reaction to this book: I like a number of things about this novel to make me recommend it. And bear in mind that I seldom read fantasy. 🙂

This author uses character and place names that I can pronounce in my head and remember. Many times I’ve tossed aside a fantasy novel because the names were too odd, complex, or similar to one another.

I enjoyed the plot. It holds just enough action and romance for my tastes.

I appreciate that the language and writing style are simple and straight-forward, and the novel is shorter than some in length. I’m always on the lookout for books that teen boys might be interested in reading and would stick with, and this is one I think they’d like. And so would girls who enjoy reading about princes.

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A SHEPHERD’S SONG: A Christmas Romance

The author, Janice Lane Palko, says this about her story:

Tom Shepherd is anything but a hero. A senior physics major at Three Rivers University in Pittsburgh, he just wants to make some easy cash. On the last Sunday in November, he arrives to sell the Christmas season’s hottest toy, So Big Sammy, for three times its retail price to a buyer, but a snafu lands him in the middle of a bone marrow drive benefitting four-year-old Christo Davidson, who has leukemia. When everyone there—including the media covering the event–assumes that Tom has come to give the toy to the sick boy, Tom has no choice but to give it away.

Lauded by the media as a hero and bestowed with the nickname The Good Shepherd, Tom finds himself an overnight celebrity. As a toy scalper and liar, he knows he’s unworthy of the honor. When Gloria Davidson, a fellow student and Christo’s relative, seeks out Tom to thank him for being so kind to her little cousin, Tom, bewitched by her beauty, embellishes his character and lies to further impress Gloria, portraying himself as a big-hearted philanthropist. Tom asks Gloria out, beginning a relationship that will lead him to examine everything he believes or doesn’t believe. On Christmas Eve, Tom finds himself facing choices that will affect not only himself but also Gloria and Christo. Tom must choose between sacrifice and honor, love and loneliness, life and death.

The author’s website: http://www.janicelanepalko.com

My reaction to this book: Although this is a Christmas story, it could simply be a great story that takes place any time of year. The Christmas setting and Christian/Catholic elements make it more special if you are a Christian or enjoy Christmas-theme fiction. I love that Ms. Palko tells this tale from a male point of view only. I get right into the main character’s head and stay there. She makes college student Tom Shepherd believable, and she has him grow from a character the reader might at first dislike, but then pity, and finally find endearing. This novel is more than a Christmas romance, and I recommend it for older teens/young adults and new adults in particular.

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Release Day! First Scene Preview: 6 Dates to Disaster

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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

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Teens! Here’s an Art Contest for You

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Teen artists ages 11 to 18! Enter this contest to win a copy of my new novel, 6 Dates to Disaster (Bird Face series book three). Visit my website www.cynthiattoney.com, subscribe to my newsletter there, and email me (see Contact, under About Me tab on the website) a sketch of your fave character(s) in a scene from one of my first two books.

In the email, tell me which book and which chapter you got your idea from. Contest ends at midnight CST, January 1, 2017. Winner will be notified by 1/31/17 at the email address you use to subscribe to my newsletter. Winner must provide a valid U.S. or Canadian mailing address in a return email.

I can’t wait to see what you draw!

Cynthia

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Cover Reveal! Book three of the Bird Face series

Coordinates well with the previous two, don’t you think? If the image appears pixilated, it also does to me. I’ve requested a higher-resolution image from my publisher. All part of the process of getting a new book ready for publication! The anticipated release date is December 6.

6-dates-to-disaster-fc  10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC tiny  8-notes-to-a-nobody-fc-tiny

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Give Fiction Readers What They Want: Someone to Care About

 

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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

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