A Book Rec for the New Year

until-i-breakOne of my favorite things about being a writer is my writer friends. Because I often get the chance to read some very fine writing before it makes its way out there in the world. Such was the case when I read Kara Bietz’ first page in the book which would become UNTIL I BREAK.

Sometimes, the words are so true, the story so strong, you just know. I wasn’t surprised when Kara’s manuscript sold not once but twice! (Is there anything more nerve-wracking than when a publisher goes out of business? Fortunately, Kara had another publisher just waiting to get their hands on her book.)It’s an incredibly powerful debut on bullying (read my Goodreads review here) that should be required reading for high school students everywhere.

I was a little surprised to see my name on her acknowledgement page because honestly, there was nothing I added to these pages. Maybe I’m just a good listener? Anyway, Kara’s moved all the way to Texas now and has other good listeners, I’m sure. And I haven’t had the opportunity to read her current work-in-progress. But I can promise you this: the minute it makes its way out into the world, I will grab it up!

How about you? Have a writer friend that you’d like to recommend? It’s a new year and I’m itching to start that To Be Read pile! (Seriously. You should start with UNTIL I BREAK.)

Finding a Winner! Aries Rising Goes To …

Sandy! You’ll be hearing from me soon, Sandy, for address info.

And thanks so much to Bonnie Hearn Hill for stopping by in the midst of a nasty bug to answer questions and comments. If you missed her the first time, go back and take a peek.

And if you missed out on Aries Rising, check out Bonnie’s way cool website for more information. And keep a lookout for the rest of the Star-Crossed series. As for this Libra, I have some work to do. (I believe it was “just get ‘er done.” I’m translating the advice into Southern, y’all.)

Finding Five YA Answers with Bonnie Hearn Hill

Bonnie Hearn Hill is the author of the recently released Aries Rising, the first in the Young Adult Star-Crossed Series.

If you recognized the astrological sign, Aries, then you may have guessed that this YA romance/fantasy draws on Bonnie’s interest in astrology. Her novel revolves around Logan McRae, a teen who wants nothing more than to change her sucky life. When she finds a magical book called Fearless Astrology, Logan uses her newfound knowledge to get started. She’s found the answers to all her problems in the stars-but can Logan read the signs in time?

Bonnie spent 22 years as a newspaper editor, all the while working on her writing. She’s produced six thrillers, as well as several non-fiction books. Whew! Her friendship with Cosmo’s astrologer, Hazel-Dixon Cooper led to Bonnie’s development of the Star-Crossed series.

Since I’ve been sloshing around in the YA waters myself, I thought I’d ask Bonnie five questions that might help me and all the rest of us dipping our toes into that market.

1.   Since you started with thrillers, Bonnie, and moved to YA, did you find similarities? Or was it difficult/easy to make the switch?

It wasn’t all that different. I created a character I liked and wanted to travel with–a character with an external problem and a hole in her life–just as I did with my thrillers. The only difference is I have only one point-of-view character, which is strangely freeing but far from easy. Oh, and no dead bodies. Thriller-thinking is hard to break, though. At one point, I had the bad guy destroying the brakes on the teacher’s car, and the teacher’s car loses control…and…My critique group said, “Uh, we don’t think so.”

2.   When writing YA romance, what factors should a writer consider? (How far is too far?)

Can’t address that. This isn’t a traditional romance. The love interest is there, especially in the next two books, but the books are not about the love story. They are about Logan trying to use astrology to get what she wants, which of course, includes but is not limited to the guy.  

3.   Bonnie has already finished two more books in the series-Taurus Eyes and Gemini Night-so did you know from the outset that you would write a series or did it evolve after Aries Rising?

I knew, made that hoped. One reason I decided on astrology books was its potential for a series.  

4.  What route to publication did you take-the traditional, the renegade-or a mix of both?

You mean there’s a traditional approach to publication? Oh, no. Why didn’t anyone tell me? My approach was far from. I mentor many writers and tell them not to make all the mistakes I did. Most writers don’t read enough in their genre for fear of ruining their voice or something. The best thing you can do for your writing is read. Read your genre. Read current books. It won’t harm your voice. It will only enhance it. And it will keep you from trying to reinvent the wheel.  

5.   If you had just ONE thing you’d like writers to keep in mind when it comes to writing YA, what would it be.

 Three things. Character, character and character. A great character can save a mediocre plot, but the best plot in the world can’t save a mediocre character.  

That’s it, writers. Oh, wait, Bonnie! I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t ask what the stars held for Cathy C. Hall! So, what do you see? Will I ever finish that YA manuscript? Not that my life’s sucky like Logan’s, but I wouldn’t mind a change of pace, er, page!

Bonnie’s advice for this Libra writer? You’d better. Stop trying to make it perfect, and just get it down!

Thanks, Bonnie. You’re so right. And that’s good advice, no matter what your sign is!

Want a chance to read Aries Rising? Leave a comment here at Finders and Keepers this week. Friday morning, I’ll draw a winner. Don’t forget to leave some kind of contact info, in case you win. And your astrological sign doesn’t count!