Hello my faithful readers! I’m very excited to present the cover for the second book in my women’s fiction series with The Wild Rose Press due out fall of 2018.
Harley Kenyon has guarded a secret for eighteen years. Telling would only hurt her son, and Harley would do anything to protect Knox. Colton Savage—the wild, impetuous rock star—is back in town to clean up a few of his messes. She could never resist his charms. His promises prove empty, and more than once, he’s left her for his seductive music career. But when the high school orchestra needs Colton’s skills, he promises to stick around. He’s not the man he was before and vows to spend his life proving it. Does she dare to believe him? Being with Colton means telling her secret.
Will Harley finally reveal what she knows and risk losing her second chance at happiness, or will she keep her secret and send away the only man she ever loved?
The first book in the series – The Second Chance House – arrives in March. Stay tuned for the exact date, book launch party invitations, and a sneak peek at Grace and Blaise.
Recently I was having a conversation about school with Noodge 1. He’s a junior in high school. This is the year that counts. Harder classes. The grades colleges focus on.Blah, blah, blah. But I’m concerned. Always have been. Kids today don’t know how to write well.
I teach creative writing classes to students of all ages. I was also an adjunct professor a few years back. I’ve published three novels. I know a little bit about writing. As a mother and a teacher, I’m shocked at how little time schools spend on grammar and sentence structure. Not to mention, idea development and cohesive thinking. I know you’re going to say it’s the aptitude test and the schools don’t have time. I don’t care. They need to.
While Noodge and I were talking he mentioned his friend who was writing a paper for history class. An AP history class. That stands for Advanced Placement. Those AP classes can mean possible college credit. Noodge’s friend needed to draw a conclusion in his writing. That’s fine. No worries so far. Until the young man stumbled for the correct word.
What did he write, you ask? He said, “We were screwed.” Yes, ladies and gents. Screwed. The young man could not, did not know how, to come up with a synonym for screwed in a paper that should be college level. Don’t be mistaken, this was not dialogue. Screwed was the only word he knew. And obviously he doesn’t know what a thesaurus is.
Who let this child down? Was it pure laziness? Perhaps. Or is it something more? Are we so busy worrying about The Tests that we side step what’s important? How are these kids going to get their point across in the real world?
Or is the problem that schools squash the love of reading and reading is the best way to build vocabulary. Our high school has implemented a new philosophy in their English department. Allow the students to choose books they want to read. Revolutionary! And about time, I’d say. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a need to read the classics. Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors and if it wasn’t for high school I don’t know when I would’ve found him, but if my only exposure to reading had been Canterbury Tales I’d be washing cars for a living instead of writing. I’ll tell you that. Chaucer is not on my list of top ten favorites. No offense to Mr. Chaucer.
I wonder what the history teacher said to Noodge’s friend. Did the teacher pull this boy aside and explain there are better ways to say, “We’re screwed.” Or did the teacher just take points off. Or maybe the teacher laughed and gave him extra credit. It’s all in the perspective, I suppose.
If I had been the teacher, I would’ve pulled the young man aside and asked him to come up with something better. I would’ve challenged him to use that big brain of his. No short cuts, no easy way outs.
Our kids need to know how to write well developed, thoughtful sentences. They need to know a paragraph holds one idea at a time. It isn’t necessary to repeat themselves in every paragraph to make a point and please don’t start each new idea with “Then.” Stay away from the verb “to be.” And for the love of all things holy, you cannot create a theme in a piece of writing by copying another author’s style.
It isn’t easy to teach writing or anything for that matter. I do blame The Tests for short changing our kids and I blame those that push those tests for selfishly motivated reasons. Let’s go back to the old way of doing things. Everything old isn’t bad and everything new isn’t great.
Because if the younger generation can’t write a lousy paper for history class, then you bet we’re screwed.
Here’s the best advice I can give you: write a novel from your heart. Don’t worry about what’s popular or trending. If your book doesn’t move you, it won’t move anyone else either.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, you must feel your book deep in your soul. The message of your story has to be a message you feel passionate about otherwise it’s just another vampire story.
Here’s another piece of advice: learn your craft. Just because you want to write a book doesn’t mean you know how. I wanted to be a writer since I was seven. I wrote my first novel when I was twelve titled Just the Six of Us. I still have it. I’ve been a veracious reader my entire life. When I sat down in my thirties to write my first real book I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. It showed on the page. I’ve written six books and I’m working on number seven. Now, I know what I’m doing.
But knowing what I’m doing doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes. I do. A lot. That’s why I have critique partners and an editor. You can’t edit your own book. You can make it better by yourself, but you want it to be great? You need experienced eyes on it. Don’t give it to Aunt Carol because she runs the library’s Thursday night knitting book club. Beta readers are for when that book is almost polished. I’ve used them too.
I’m reading a book now for pleasure. (Yes, I still do that in addition to all the other stuff I read for work.) I won’t mention the title or the author, but I will tell you it’s categorized as a thriller.
Right up front we know one of the 4 POV characters has a secret. (Let me digress for a second and say I don’t love the fact the book has 4 POV characters. Who am I suppose to get attached to?) The author mentions repeatedly this character, a girl – age seventeen, has a secret, but the author doesn’t tell us what it is.
She wants us to wonder and keep turning the pages. Honestly, the fact that she keeps mentioning this big secret, but won’t give us a hint (though it’s in photo form now so we know someone else is going to get their hands on it) just annoys me. Say it once. Character Number One has a secret. Then be on with it. Author doesn’t have to keep hinting. It’s like kids on a play ground, “I have a secret and I’m not telling you.” At which point I want to shut the book.
Yes, you have to create suspense if the secret is somehow connected to the arc of the story. But I like books that hit the ground running and don’t slow down. This book also gets bogged down in the beginning with a lot of setting. It’s a very nice setting and one I might even want to visit some day, but I’d rather learn about the secret or what led up to this horrible thing hanging over Character Number One’s head. Because once she’s faced with the fact her secret is out she’s going to be forced to make a decision. One hopefully, she doesn’t like. Now we have conflict! And the race is on.
Since I can’t turn off my editor brain while I read, I often say out loud, “Get on with it.” Give me something new. And I don’t think having multiple POV characters is the answer to something new. I see what the Author is trying to do. Each character has a secret and I guess we’re supposed to keep turning the pages until someone’s secret blows up.
Honestly, I don’t care enough. I want action. I want characters shoved into making choices between two evils. I want to see how they respond under pressure.
Everyone should be a reader because reading is magic. For those who tell me they aren’t readers, they just haven’t found the right book or genre or author or magazine or whatever. It’s out there. I promise. Don’t give up.
I like to promote just about anything that has to do with reading. MyCentralJersey.com is sponsoring a Super Summer Reader Program. Anyone can participate and you get a chance to win two free tickets to a Somerset Patriots game on August 10. Plus, the best part, in my opinion, is you get the chance to meet over a dozen local authors. (I bet you can guess who one of them will be!)
Summer is a great time to catch up on all that pleasure reading. Click on the MyCentralJersey link and find out how you can be a part of the Super Summer Reading Program. Hope to see you there!!
Summer is my favorite season. It’s the time of year where we can give ourselves permission to slow down. The hot days dictate we sit by the lake, or pool, or ocean and wait for a cool breeze with a tall glass of iced tea in our hands. Summer is the time to let worries fly away with the lightning bugs. It’s town fairs and cotton candy. It’s Italian ice and fireworks.
Summer is also the time for reading! I love taking my kids to the bookstore and piling promising books full of adventure into our arms. It’s a great opportunity for them to discover the types of stories they like to read instead of books they are required to read. When a child finds an author or a genre they like you will make a reader out of them.
But how do we make readers out of our kids? The first thing we must do is be readers ourselves. It doesn’t matter what you read. Books, magazines, the newspaper or any and all of these things on your tablet. Show them what you’re reading. Talk to them about it too.
Help them choose books. What kinds of interests do they have outside of reading? A child who likes puzzles or figuring things out might like mysteries. If you can’t recommend an author or book in the genre ask the librarian or the person at the bookstore for help. Or, grab the book with the cover you like. Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but the publishing world understands that that is exactly what happens so book covers are designed to grab your attention. But then, flip it over and read the back. If you like the premise, open the book and read the first several pages. If the author hooks you right away, you’ll most likely enjoy the rest of the book. And when you find an author you like, read all their stuff.
If your child likes non-fiction, encourage that. Or if they want to read comic books, that’s good too. Reading is reading and when you find something you love you’ll go back to it again and again.
Challenge them. Create a contest to see if they can read more books than you by the end of the summer. The prize can be whatever you choose, but if you’re kids are competitive or really want something, this would be a great motivator. Libraries usually hold similar events during the summer, but teens may not want to participate in something so public. If it’s going on at home, they won’t have to admit it to anyone else. wink wink.
The school year is wrapping up and I can’t wait to see what books the Noodges will read.
I was at a book signing recently, where I had the opportunity to talk with lots of parents. Many were concerned about their child’s lukewarm feelings toward reading. Well, I have a theory on why many kids don’t like to read. They are forced to read books they don’t like and they start thinking, if all books are this boring, stupid, dull, who cares, I’m never reading another thing again. And yes, there is the whole competition with video games, apps, social media, and movies, but believe me when I tell you, find a book a kid likes to read and you’ll make a reader out of them. Because reading is magic.
When the Noodges were in elementary school I watched the school librarian discourage a few kids from reading and that was only the times I saw. How many other times did she do that? She’d say at a book fair, “don’t waste your parents money by purchasing books you can’t read.” Really??? Are you kidding me? If a child has any interest in a book, cultivate that interest. And don’t give me the, “they’ll be frustrated if they can’t read it,” that’s what parents are for. And yes, some kids don’t have parents who care enough to read with them, but that’s a discussion for another post.
Noodge 1 was an early reader and if I can brag for a second, an advanced reader which made finding books that were appropriate for him in elementary school difficult. I didn’t want him to lose his love of reading because he didn’t have choices. That same elementary school librarian apparently didn’t feel the way I did. When he was in the third grade, he had grabbed Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien off the shelf. The librarian said, “You can’t check that out,” and laughed at him. He said, “why is it here if I can’t take it out?” (Yup, that’s the Italian in him.) He put the book back. He came home from school and told me. I’m sure you can guess how this played out. I told her he could take out whatever he wanted from the library and she could keep her mouth shut. I was a little nicer than that. I think.
But then we have teachers who inspire the love of reading in their students and I applaud them. Recently, I was at Anthony Wayne Middle School where I presented a creative writing workshop to eighth graders. Their teacher chose my book and had them read it ahead of my appearance so we could discuss it while I was there. One student told her she thought the book was stupid because of the cover, but Mrs. R. wouldn’t be dismayed . She encouraged the student to keep at it and guess what? She was my biggest fan that day! You know what I’m most grateful for? That young lady learned that amazing stories await inside the covers of books if you just give them a try. She felt the magic of reading for herself. So imagine if she loved the cover, but a teacher said, “You? Read that?” Insert villainous laugh here.
I assure you, if you find an author or a genre your child likes you’ll make a reader out of them. Encourage them to stretch and try books that might be a little challenging. If they don’t know a word, the can look them up. And they can use an app for that.