Bird Face Wendy

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

A Special Summer Read at a Special Price!

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For girls 11 to 14—well, women of all ages!

Don’t miss it this time!

Cynthia

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What would you advise your teenage self?

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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/

 

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New Summer Reads for You or Your Teen

I’m excited to tell you about some new middle-grade and young adult releases for summer reading. There’s a variety here in realism, both contemporary and historical. And lots of real-life drama for both girls and boys.

LifeChangingLoveCover.jpg Life-changing Love by Theresa Linden releases tomorrow!  I recommend this novel about dating to the older female teen rather than a middle-schooler, but if you are a middle-school parent know that it addresses some serious issues.

Caitlyn Summer, soon to be fifteen, must practice old-fashioned courtship with high parental involvement, but she has a terrible crush on shy Roland West and she has competition from a girl with no restrictions. As Caitlyn struggles to remain faithful to God, her parents, and herself, her best friend gets pregnant and might get an abortion. When Caitlyn discovers her mother’s past mistakes, she begins to resent all the guidelines her parents expect her to follow. The characters in Life-Changing Love face the questions: Who am I? Where am I headed? How am I going to get there?

Theresa Linden is also the author of the dystopian Chasing Liberty trilogy. Find out more about her and her work at www.theresalinden.com

JustClaire Cover Available now, Just Claire by Jean Ann Williams, is  a story that takes place in the 1960s, so it is considered historical. Boy, am I old.

The setting is rural northern California, and I particularly enjoyed the main character’s descriptions of the people and things around her. I think you will, too.

ClaireLee’s life changes when she must take charge of her siblings after her mother becomes depressed from a difficult childbirth. Frightened by the way Mama sleeps too much and her crying spells during waking hours, ClaireLee just knows she’ll catch her illness like a cold or flu that hangs on through winter. ClaireLee finds comfort in the lies she tells herself and others in order to hide the truth about her erratic mother. Deciding she needs to re-invent herself, she sets out to impress a group of popular girls.

Jean Ann Williams comes from a large family, and Just Claire is her first novel! Visit the author at her blog to learn more.

 

7RiddlestoNowhere2 500x750 (1) If you love Chicago and its architecture or, like me, have always wanted to visit the windy city, pick up Seven Riddles to Nowhere. A seventh-grader and his friends go on a quest that takes them through Chicago’s historic Catholic churches and cathedrals. Maybe there’s one cathedral and the rest churches, but anyway the reader is taken on a learning adventure. It would be equally entertaining for girls and boys. I thoroughly enjoyed the advanced reader copy of this book I received from author A.J. Cattapan. Look for its release this coming August.

A.J. Cattapan is a bestselling author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. You can follow her writing and travel adventures at www.ajcattapan.com.

TheRoseandtheSword You poets will love this one! The author of The Rose and the Sword, Gina Marinello-Sweeney has a beautiful way with language, and her novels include poetry. ( Her name is rather poetic too, don’t you think?)

Rebecca Veritas is a new college graduate, eager to pursue her dreams as a clinical psychologist. After receiving a full scholarship for an internship recommended by her old professor and friend Dr. Everson, she leaves the quiet suburban town of Cedar Heights for the big city of Los Angeles. As she adjusts to her new surroundings, beginning to work with her assigned mentor and a wide variety of clients with all the enthusiasm of a fresh intern, she finds solace in a mysterious antique bookstore. Yet, as her thoughts still linger on someone from her past, she is unaware that the present has the potential to haunt her the most.

Although the main character is out of high school, this is romantic suspense that is suitable for high school teens, in my opionion.

Gina lives in southern California, where she is at work on the next volume in The Veritas Chronicles, as well as a short story collection. Visit www.ginamarinellosweeney.com for more information.

 

If you pick up one of these, let me know how you like it!

 

 

 

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Exciting Adventure Series for Young People and Adults

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Mark Adderley, author and baker (that’s right!), told his adventure stories first to his children. Now they are a series of novels labeled YA (young adult) but great stories for adults, too.

The main character, McCracken, has been described as “Indiana Jones with a rosary.” That sounds interesting!

McCracken—inventor, engineer, big-game hunter, and Catholic—along with his team, dive to the ocean floor or sail through the skies, ply through steaming jungles or wrestle with sharks and crocodiles. Steamships, trains, aeroplanes and airships abound in these fast-paced adventure stories.

Lost Lagoon - Front Cover

Addrley’s latest release (May 2016) is McCracken and the Lost Lagoon. McCracken has a new family and wants to give up the life of adventure. But adventure finds him when his old friend, Nicolas Jaubert, goes missing, and McCracken must complete Jaubert’s work by finding the Corkindrill, a secret weapon that could help Britain and France win World War I. This thrilling new adventure story brings McCracken face-to-face with assassins, crocodiles, and Amazon warriors, carries him through strange civilizations and steaming jungles, and finally pits him against a diabolical villain whose evil plan is world domination.

An excerpt, with permission from the author:

My face was just a few inches from the grimacing face of the dead bandit. Fire-ants, some of them an inch long, swarmed over his back. I could hear their jaws and legs clicking faintly, beneath the roaring of the river.

Calavera cackled with laughter. He grabbed my hair and pushed my face towards the ants. I strained against him, but he had the advantage of height and weight, and I knew I could not resist long.

Buenas noches, Señor McCracken,” said Calavera. “Be a nice meal.”

But then he gave a sharp cry and released me. I squirmed around to look. Blood trickled down the side of his face—something had hit him in the head. I wrenched myself from under him and leaped to my feet. He struggled upright, shaking his head. on the ground nearby lay a knife. I stole a glance upwards. José stood at the top of the ravine, his hand clutching his wound.

“More luck than accuracy, Señor McCracken!” he cried out.

Probably—and he had only distracted Calavera for a moment, not incapacitated him. But I drove my fist up into his stomach, where I had hit him before, and with a grunt he stepped backwards.

Right onto an ant-mound.

In his terror, he spun away from the swarm of little red devils and overbalanced. He fell over a slick rock and into the shallows beyond. I followed him, fists at the ready. For a few moments, we traded blows, neither of us moving backwards or forwards. I circled about in an effort to find a good opening, but found none; and now, my back was to the raging river. I could feel the cool spray over my back.

Calavera was impatient. With a howl of rage, he rushed at me. I dropped to one knee and, when he was close, shoved him upwards, my biceps screaming a protest, so that his momentum carried him, spiraling, over my head. With a terrible splat! and a bit of a crunch! he landed behind me. I spun round. He lay among the rocks at the very edge of the shallows, but from the waist down he was actually immersed in the river, which foamed white all about him. His fingers scrabbled at the slick rocks, and I knew he could not hold on much longer.

For a moment, while time seemed suspended, a debate raged in my soul. I wanted very much to let him be swept away to his death. I watched his fingers clutching, his eyes widening. I thought of the poor villagers he’d terrorized for ten years, of the profit he’d made from their poverty. What could be more fitting than to see him engulfed by the river?

But that wasn’t my job, I knew.

 

If you enjoyed the excerpt, look for Lost Lagoon as well as these earlier titles in the series:

Lost Valley - Front Cover  Lost City - Front Cover  Lost-Island---Front-Cover

Author Bio: Like the famous Cat, Mark Adderley was born in Cheshire, England. His early influences included C. S. Lewis and adventure books of various kinds, and his teacher once wrote on his report card, “He should go in for being an author,” advice that stuck with him. He studied for some years at the University of Wales, where he became interested in medieval literature, particularly the legend of King Arthur. But it was in graduate school that he met a clever and beautiful American woman, whom he moved to the United States to marry. He has been teaching and writing literature in America ever since and is now the director of the Via Nova Catholic Education Program in Yankton, South Dakota.

Visit Mark and learn more about his books at http://www.mccrackenbooks.com

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

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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.

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Earrings created by Hanna

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

 

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Creating My First Book Trailer

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When it comes to marketing my books, I’m not typically a procrastinator. But until a week ago, I did not have a single book trailer video for any of my three published books (including the one out of print).

I’d written some copy for one.

I’d thought about the tone I wanted.

I’d searched for images.

I’d talked to my husband about producing one together.

I even had a YouTube channel set up and waiting.

But still, no trailer.

What lit a fire under me to move forward was the offer of a fellow author to post our author group’s video trailers on Instagram.

Excited by that prospect, I inquired from other authors which program they used. (Is program the correct word? I’m not sure.) I also researched a bit online.

I soon learned that many used Animoto or Vimeo to produce their own videos. However, my husband and I have Macs, and iMovies was already available to us.

We selected a pre-fab theme from among many free themes with built-in music. We weren’t quite happy with our first try, because not enough time was built in for the text frames unless we used only a handful of words. And the built-in background and text color made it harder to read. My husband could find no way to change the colors.

After I cut back on the text somewhat and my husband figured out how to add a second or so to those frames without the music ending too soon, we were pleased.

Until you produce your own book trailer video, you can’t imagine the planning and coordination it involves. We learned a lot that we’ll apply to our next production–a trailer for book two.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s my trailer for 8 Notes to a Nobody. I hope you enjoy it.

Do you have an experience to share about producing a book trailer ?

 

 

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Calling All Poets! Teach Fiction Writers a Thing or Two

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

If you’ve followed this blog a while, you know I have great love and respect for poetry. To improve my fiction, I remind myself to tap into poetic description, and I encourage other prose writers to do the same.

In case you aren’t aware of it, April is National Poetry Month, and I’d like to honor all you poets out there.

Poets who write for their eyes only, to release their emotions and comfort themselves.

Poets who write to soothe or inspire readers like me.

Poets who address difficult subjects in a lovely way.

Poets who condense the world into a digestible, single-sitting format.

Poets who create verses and stanzas more memorable than prose.

Poets who write greeting cards.

Poets who write song lyrics.

Did I forget anyone?

If you are a poet, thank you.

If you are a classroom teacher, librarian, or bookstore owner, you can request (free) this year’s beautifully designed poster from the Academy of American Poets.

Let’s remind people we know–even those who claim to hate poetry–how it enriches our lives. Find your favorite poem and share it this month with someone you care about.

As a poet, what would you like to share with a prose writer? As a prose writer, what would you like to know about writing or appreciating poetry?

 

 

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30 Effective Twitter Hashtags for YA Authors

30 Effective Twitter Hashtags for YA Authors

Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

It’s hard to remember to use the most productive hashtags when I tweet about my books. I’ve found a few sources that list hashtags for authors in general but none specifically for those of teen or young adult novels. So I created my own list based on experience in tweeting about teen fiction over the past twelve months.

Most of these hashtags have gained attention for me and perhaps will work for you. Some are just now catching on. Genre hashtags cross over from adult to teen/YA in most cases, so I included a few. Capitalization is irrelevant.

#YA (ob-vi-ous-ly!)

#YAlit

#YAfiction

#YAloving

#YAbooknerd (or #booknerd)

#IReadYA

#teenlit

#teenfiction

#teenlife

#ChristianTeen (or other religion + teen)

#booksforgirls (or #booksforboys)

#CleanTeenRead

#adventure

#dystopian

#mystery

#scifi

#teenromance

#boyfriend

#bullying

#dating

#eatingdisorder

#firstlove

#friendship

#teensuicide

#socialissues

#parents (or #family or #stepfamily)

#schoolproblems

#highschool

#dance (or the other arts)

#sports (or a specific sport)

Those are my current favorites! What are your go-to hashtags when tweeting about your own writing?

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrate Your Success and Enter to Win an E-book

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Image courtesy of Morguefile.com free photos

In the early months of the new year, good things have happened to me as an author.

The second book of the Bird Face series, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, is a semi-finalist in a book contest and a finalist in another. A Florida book fair company has acquired copies of both books of the series to sell to schools. I have sorted out some of the problems with my third manuscript and gotten back to writing it.

And I’m celebrating!

Don’t you think the small steps accomplished on any entrepreneurial journey should be celebrated? If you do, I invite you to celebrate yours–with me.

To expand the positive atmosphere I’m breathing, I’m offering a chance for a commenter on this blog post to win an electronic copy of either 8 Notes to a Nobody or 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status.

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All you need to do to enter for a chance to win:

  1. Share in the comments about an accomplishment in your particular endeavor (writing or other) that you celebrated or want to celebrate, and how (in a wholesome way–remember that young teens also read this blog).
  2. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter at cynthiattoney.com.

The names of all approved commenters who subscribe to the newsletter will be placed in a hat, and a winning name will be drawn. The prize will be a mobi file of your choice of either of my books, to be read on a Kindle or other device where you have a Kindle app.

After the end of March, I’ll notify the winner at the email address used to subscribe to the newsletter.

So, how about your entrepreneurial successes–in writing (prose, poetry, fiction, nonfiction) or an  altogether different endeavor? Was your poem or short story accepted for publication? Did you open a new online business? Sell your first painting? I’d love to hear about it.

Let’s celebrate those successes together!

 

 

 

 

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Avoid Body Language Weasel Words–Enter for a Chance to Win a Free Edit

I enjoy the study of body language and never thought I’d suggest anyone avoid mentioning a character’s body language in fiction. But if that body language description is ordinary and overused, it’s a weasel word or phrase as harmful to the quality of the writing as any other.

If it can be misinterpreted, that’s even worse.

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

In the first draft of a manuscript, I often depend on the verb “smiled.” I’m in a hurry and don’t stop to think of a better description for such a common action. Critique buddies are quick to point out that failing, for which I’m grateful, and I correct the problem on the revise. Or I mean to. Reading over my releases, I still see more instances of “smiled” than I am comfortable with.

You may think, what’s wrong with “smiled”?

As far as body language goes, a smile can convey a lot of things in addition to happiness: deception, nervousness, physical discomfort, romantic or sexual interest, pleasure over someone else’s pain. The meaning of the smile changes when used in context with other body language–movement or position of the eyes or brows, positions of the hands or limbs, or whole body stance.

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

Besides, a reader may just-plain-get-tired of reading the same word or phrase over and over. I once edited a political thriller for a gentleman, now deceased. All of his characters—protagonist, antagonist, and minor characters alike—“smiled broadly” or “grinned broadly” no matter whether they were happy about something good or evil or perhaps experiencing a different emotion altogether. After the first few instances, all I could picture in my mind was someone with a big, stupid, toothy grin on his face each time I encountered either phrase. If I had been reading for pleasure, I may have discarded the book.

Merriam-Webster online defines a weasel word as “a word used in order to avoid being clear or direct.” In other words, the use of a word to deceive. For writers, add this definition: a lazy word used because we are unwilling or unable to create a better description. In a way, that’s deceiving—perhaps misleading or cheating—our readers.

Each writer owns a personal set of weasel words—those words used as a crutch to fall back on when we are tired or in a hurry or not at our creative best. In addition to “smiled,”  search your manuscript (or a published novel!) for body-action verbs such as “walked.” More than you would’ve guessed, right?

Choosing more precise body language description reveals much more about a character, his emotions or intentions, and a scene or setting’s mood. As a reader that’s important to me, particularly at the opening of a scene.

Is there a passage from your work in progress that contains a weasel word or phrase to convey body language? Which emotion or intention of the character would you like to express in a better defined and more creative way?

My gift to one reader of this blog post: Subscribe to my newsletter from my website cynthiattoney.com to enter for a chance to win a free body language weasel word hunt-destroy-replace edit of any single 3,000-word segment from your fiction manuscript. After the end of February, I will contact the winner using the email address you provide when subscribing.

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