Search

YA Author Rendezvous

Creativity Unleashed: Books for the young and the young at heart

Tag

amreading

Characters: Gay by nature or choice?

Characters: Gay by nature or choice? by Author Paul Mosier

The following is my response to an email from a woman who kindly beta-read the novel I have recently completed– the middle grade “Summer and July.” Her feedback was thoughtful, intelligent and complimentary. To my surprise she said she enjoyed it in spite of her being ethically opposed to the nature of the love presented in the story, and her worry that my story would contribute to the “normalization” of such love. Below is my response to her. I omit my opening remarks.

  •                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

Notes on your notes: The “men in gray suits” is actually one of the several colorful terms in surfer lingo for sharks. Another good one is “landlord,” which is their term for great white sharks. Those don’t appear on the beaches of Santa Monica, or they would have been a good inclusion. But since that didn’t come through to you as a reader, perhaps I need to expand on that exchange. “Noah” is another term for sharks, from the Aussie cockney rhyming scheme of “Noah’s Ark” rhyming with “shark.” Similarly Aussie surfers call Americans “seppos” because “Septic tank” rhymes with “yank.” It’s kinda bizarre.

I, too, was happy with Summer’s method of giving herself permission to feel something other than happy, enthusiastic and optimistic– putting on Juillet’s clothing and makeup. I didn’t plan it– I don’t plan anything in writing, really. I don’t think I am capable of doing something as artful or lovely as that, but as a servant of the muse, I think I do a pretty good job of staying out of her way. I don’t feel like I’m the creator of a story so much as I am the first person to experience it.

I feel the same way about characters. I don’t expect that I’ll change your mind about seeing same-sex love as being somehow wrong, but I’ll make my argument anyway. I have never designed a character, and if I did I think they’d be wooden or cliched. I feel like they are introduced to me by the universe, and I disagree with writers who think that I as an author need to know my characters completely. In fact I feel like I only know them as much as they are willing to reveal themselves to me. An interviewer once asked if I ever found myself disappointed when I finished writing a novel and realized that my characters weren’t real, and my reply was “I don’t think I agree that they aren’t real.”

But I didn’t set out to write a same-sex love story. I think that every story is a love story– the only question is what kinds of love. Summer and July was born from the sense of place of a seaside town with an ice cream shop and boogie boarding, then the characters walked into the scene. But I don’t feel like I determined their sexual orientation any more than I designed the bluebird metaphor. Which I did not design. I’m just witness to it. My understanding of Juillet and Summer, watching them act, is that they are not necessarily drawn exclusively to their own gender. It seems like their affection is specific to the individual case– for Juillet, Summer, and for Summer, Juillet. They’re probably both surprised that their first kiss was with another girl. They’re both young and figuring themselves out.

I don’t choose the sexual orientation of my characters, but if I did, I wouldn’t apologize for representing same sex loves as being as legitimate and potentially beautiful as heterosexual loves. And I would suggest that maybe instead of worrying about texts that “normalize” same sex loves, perhaps you should worry about texts that vilify or demonize love between two men or two women, which has always existed. It’s hard for me to even imagine what motivation lies behind such persecution other than some antique need for maximum regeneration of the species to swell the ranks of armies and churches. It is interesting that you use Plato to support your argument about our need to use care in what we teach our young, when Plato said that the only true type of love was that which existed between two men. Of course I disagree with Plato in this respect, as I think that the love between a man and a woman can be pretty profound, too.

I’m sure that– while gay people have appeared in previous novels of mine– Summer and July will open me to a new level of potential criticism and rejection for elements other than my ability to tell a story. I didn’t wish for this, and it doesn’t represent any kind of bravery on my part– that distinction is reserved for those who wrote about the love between members of the same sex in decades past. I’ve got a left-handed female character named Lefty in my work-in-progress, but likewise people in centuries past have fought the stigma of people who find themselves preferring using their left hands, so there is no heroism for me there, either.

Happily, though thinking ill of same sex love still exists in the world I live in, having a contract with a Big Five publisher I have learned that, generally, in the world of children’s books, publishers have moved beyond the argument. Though opposition to same sex love still exists, my editorial group does not wish to dignify such opposition with space on the page. Nobody in a middle grade book written by me and published by my publisher is going to look askance at two girls or two boys falling for each other.

For me It was easy to make the “normal” heterosexual choice. Girls and women have always been attractive and fascinating to me. Though I didn’t set out to write a story featuring a same-sex love, the idea that maybe some kid will fail to kill him or herself because I didn’t resist presenting a story in which affection and romantic love between two members of the same sex is pretty much the most adorable love story ever– I’ve got to say I like the idea of being on that side of the equation, and of history. And all I have to do is let the characters be who they are. Take them as they are, and love them as they came to me. I hope you’ll consider this position.


Want more from Paul? You can check out his books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Paul on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew with the express permission of Paul Mosier.

Save

Advertisements

Ten Things That Help Me Write

By Bethany Wicker

Just like any other author, I have my needs while writing. It’s easy to just sit down and start writing, but these ten things help my thoughts flow and the stories progress.

The first item is my Computer. This is for the most obvious reason that all of my stories are on my computer. My biggest fear is dropping it before I’ve backed up my work, so I try to leave it in one place as often as possible. This actually happened to me once before and is the reason it took so long for me to write Dark Fire after Dark Lightning was published. I’d lost my initial copy and felt so upset that I couldn’t write on it until about a year later.

The second thing is Coffee. I don’t always have to drink it while writing as long as I’ve had my morning cup. Coffee is something I love, but sometimes if I indulge in more than one cup it keeps me up at night. For that reason, I try to limit myself (doesn’t always happen).

The third item is my Phone. I’m a compulsive email-checker and am always checking my email. I have this irrational fear that I’m going to miss out on something because I didn’t check my email in time.

The fourth thing is a Notebook. This is simply to write down ideas that I’m not ready to work on or to keep notes of things that I sometimes forget. The color of eyes or hair of minor characters for example.

The fifth item is a Pen. This is needed to jot things in my notebook. 😛 I like the way pen ink looks on paper better than pencils so it’s rare that I use pencil over pen. Extremely rare.

The sixth thing is a Movie I’ve already seen playing in the background. I do this instead of playing music like other authors. It’s my personal preference that helps me concentrate. Lately, I’ve been stuck on the new Beauty and the Beast.

The seventh item is Snacks (Yum!). Who doesn’t need that little boost of energy while doing something? No particular type of snack either because it depends on what I’m in the mood for.

The eighth thing is Water. It’s very important to drink lots of water and stay hydrated throughout the day. I avoid soft drinks and try to stick to water as much as possible. It just makes me feel better, healthier and helps my brain keep going.

The ninth item is my Planner. That way I can keep track of tasks like deadlines or promotions and can add things as they’re needed.

The tenth and final thing is Henley napping ❤ (my daughter). It is so hard to write while she’s awake since she needs so much attention, especially now that she’s teething. So, as much as I love her, I get the best writing time in while she’s sleeping.

There you have it. The ten things that help me write the most words in one sitting.


Don’t forget to check out our other posts HERE

See Bethany Wicker at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.

Posted by Michelle Lynn.

Save

An Interview In Pictures with Bethany Wicker

By: Michelle Lynn

Today’s interview is with the talented young adult author Bethany Wicker. She writes paranormal stories – werewolves are her jam and her next book has MERMAIDS! I’m a little excited for that one.

A picture is worth a thousand words. So, here’s the drill. I asked Bethany ten questions and she answered in only pictures. It’s a lot of fun so let’s get started.

What image best represents you?

author Bethany Wicker, paranormal romance, werewolves, time travel, writing, interview

Show me a picture that could have been taken inside the world of one of your books.

author Bethany Wicker, paranormal romance, werewolves, time travel, writing, interview

Your favorite writing spot.

Author Bethany Wicker

Writing companion.

Author Bethany Wicker

Favorite book.

Author Bethany Wicker

Your Bookshelf.

author Bethany Wicker, paranormal romance, werewolves, time travel, writing, interview

Something you love outside writing or reading.

Author Bethany Wicker

Favorite place.

author Bethany Wicker, paranormal romance, werewolves, time travel, writing, interview

Something that makes you smile.

author Bethany Wicker, paranormal romance, werewolves, time travel, writing, interview

Something that inspires you.

author Bethany Wicker, paranormal romance, werewolves, time travel, writing, interview

From Bethany:

I am a small town wife, mother, and author who loves to read and am in the process of stocking up for my own mini library.

Ways to discover your next favorite author:

Amazon author page link: https://www.amazon.com/Bethany-Wicker/e/B0164MBKQ0
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/BethanyWickerAuthor/
Author website link: www.bethanywicker.com


See Bethany at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.

Check out more from the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.

Save

How I Got an Agent

writing, authors, agent signing

By Christopher Mannino

I have been writing for a long time. Heck, I’ve wanted to be a writer since middle school. I’ve been writing ever since.

The very first book I wrote took ten years. It’s a mess. You’ve never heard of it. It’s shelved on a floppy disk (remember those?) among other places but was never revisited.

Then, during my time in Oxford, I was inspired to write School of Deaths. It took me a year to write, and then I began trying for agents. In publishing, if you want your book published with the big publishers, distributed widely, and making money, you need an agent. The “Big Five” publishers (all subdivisions of just five companies) only take manuscripts from agents, and even then it’s not always a guarantee of publication, much less success. Yet agents are the first gatekeepers in the business.

Getting an agent involves writing a query letter. This is a single page long- a blurb about your book, a paragraph about similar books in the marketplace, and a paragraph about you. It’s an email you send out and know you’ll probably never hear back from. Some agents ask for just this, some for your first five pages. Most agents receive hundreds of email queries a DAY. Of those they receive, they might request pages from 5%, and of those pages, maybe request a full manuscript from an even smaller number. And it’s not just based on the quality of your writing. It’s based on a lot of subjective factors, like the agent’s preferences, if they think they can sell it, does it conflict with other clients they have, and so on. In short, getting an agent is very, very difficult. It feels a bit like falling through mid-air and trying to catch (and hold onto) a single raindrop.

authors, writing, agent signing

After a year of querying, and 130 rejections, I gave up trying to find an agent for School of Deaths. Instead I began querying small presses. 30 queries of publishers later, MuseItUp said yes.

Small press is a form of traditional publishing in between the big guys and self publishing. In a way, it’s sort of like the minor league baseball league. Minor leaguers are pros, and paid to play ball, and some are amazing, but you’ve never heard of them. They’re all hoping to make it into the majors, but to do so they need that scout. With writing, you need an agent.

After Scythe Wielder’s Secret I wrote a sci fi thriller and re-entered the querying phase. Months passed. Nada. I’ve since decided to rework the project.

Then, I had an idea for a book. A series. The ideas kept coming and coming. A world that’d been in night for a thousand years, and now faced a sunrise. A man with a powerful form of magic, and a terrible price. An exciting new fantasy series called Everdawn Rising. I wrote the book, and right away knew something was different. It was without a doubt the best thing I’d written. I decided, yet again, to plunge back into querying. Querying is a SLOW process, I’ll add. Some agents have an AVERAGE response time of 115 days. That’s just to hear back, even if it’s a no. And if they request pages or your full manuscript, you have to wait months upon months.

authors, writing, agent signing

I began querying Everdawn in January. I queried and queried. I became active in the Manuscript Academy, which gave me a lot of opportunities to work with pros. I had skype sessions with agents and not only pitched my book, but got help rewriting my query. I was in a workshop to help revamp my first page and ended up a part of a writing community that’s still wonderfully supportive today. And I worked with editors from St Martins and Tor (two imprints of the “Big 5” publishers) to rewrite the beginning completely. On the advice of an agent, I began “re-querying” – contacting agents who said no months ago or who never responded. I was hopeful, but still not sure. I was ready to enter PitchWars when everything took off.

authors, writing, agent signing

First I got an offer from an agent. I then had to let my outstanding (hadn’t heard from them yet) requeries know. Within hours, I had six more full requests. I eventually got a second offer and it came down to an insane day of phone conversations, nerves, and difficult decisions. After talking to the two agents, however, I knew the original offer was the agent I wanted to stick with.

I am elated to announce that I am now represented by Will Reeve at the Virginia Kidd Literary Agency. Kidd is a smaller agency, but one with an impressive track record in SFF, launching the careers of greats like Isaac Asimov and Ursula LeGuin. This is only one stage in a longer journey. The next step is for Will to work with me editing the book, then he’ll take the manuscript to the publishers and try to sell it to them. Even then, it’s a while before it releases. However, this is a huge step for me and my career as an author.

authors, writing, agent signing


Don’t forget to check out our other posts HERE.

Find Christopher Mannino at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.

Posted by Michelle Lynn.

Save

Save

Writing an Outline for Your Book

Writing an Outline for Your Book by Author Shari L. Tapscott

Outlining—you either love it or hate it. I happen to love it, and I’m going to share my approach with you today.

When I was in school, outlining felt suffocating. It was like death to creativity. Nothing irked me more than a free writing assignment that required an outline—and I usually wrote one after the fact (not exactly what my teachers had in mind, I’m sure). Years later, when I was attempting my first NaNoWriMo, I decided I needed some sort of strategy to get my word count in. I wrote the major points of my book in three paragraphs and called it good. And it was pretty good. I knew the main events and the ending, and it helped a bunch. But at the end of November, my manuscript was still a mess. I knew I could do better.

Fast-forward a couple more years, and now I proudly call myself an obsessive outliner. I use a mishmash of techniques that I’ve tweaked to fit my style. Before I begin to explain how I do it, I want to say that I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to outline—you need to do whatever feels good to you. And if that means pantsing it (writing by the seat of your pants), then do it! This is just what works for me. I hope it’ll help you as well.

Sum up your idea

First, I start by summing up my story into one paragraph. What’s it about? Who are the characters? How does it end?

Divide the idea into four parts

After that, I divide my idea into four parts and write a summary paragraph for each section, making sure to end the first three sections in conflict. I like to have something inconvenient happen to my character at the quarter mark and halfway through the book. The climax hits about three-quarters of the way through, and then the last quarter is for overcoming the problem and wrapping up the story.

Expand the sections into chapters

There are several ways you can go from this point. You have your story’s skeleton—you can start writing, if you want. Some writers will go on to expand these paragraphs into a page or two. Others may take it a step further and begin chapter outlines. That’s what I like to do.

I decide how many words is ideal for my novel. Then I decide how many chapters I want. For an 80,000 word novel, I’ll usually shoot for thirty. I like to write in short chapters, and that puts me at just under 2,700 words in each.  You can have shorter chapters; you can longer ones. It’s completely up to you, and they’re bound to change as you’re writing.

Since I know I need my conflict at 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 of the way through the story, those are the first chapters I fill in. For example, for my 80,000 word novel, I will have the 1/4 conflict at 20,000 words, which will fall in Chapter 7.

After I have my conflict in place, I begin to fill in each chapter. These little summaries don’t have to be long. I write a paragraph for each. Often, I will find I don’t have quite enough story points to fill them all in, and I brainstorm for ideas until I have a story that flows from beginning to end.

Now, as I’m writing my book, things often change. I’ll just go back and tweak my outline as needed. Sometimes one of my chapters will end up as two chapters. Other times two chapters may merge into one. Nothing is set in stone. The outline just keeps me moving toward the conflict.

After that, I begin to write! That’s really all there is to it. During my planning stages, I also like to fill out character and setting questionnaires. They really help if you’re stuck in the development stage; you’re bound to get new ideas when you’re working on them.

Whether you choose to outline or not, I hope this was useful for you! Also, if you have your own technique, be sure to add it in the comments. I love to hear how other people tackle the pre-writing stage.


Want more from Shari? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Shari on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew with the express permission of Shari L. Tapscott.

Save

Conflict in Writing

Conflict in Writing by Author Beth Rodgers

Conflict sells. Whether you are reading a book, watching TV, or viewing a movie, if everything is happy-go-lucky all the time, there isn’t much reason to keep reading or watching as you probably aren’t wondering what will happen next. People thrive off of twists and turns. They want mystery, suspense, and indecision. They desire friction, as it escalates plotlines, enhances character development, and reinforces the age-old quest for sheer entertainment. We live in an “entertainment culture,” if I do say so myself. People seek entertainment because it stimulates their senses. It excites their emotions, and it offers something in place of predictability.

Despite the wish for a happy ending – and believe me, I ooh and aah with the best of them for one of those – trials, tribulations, and all those annoying adversaries must come out of the woodwork to make that happy ending all the more magical. If you’re a writer, spice up your stories with it. Make a young girl the object of ridicule and rejection, only to make her all the more deserving of being crowned homecoming queen. Capture the angst of a restaurant owner who can’t seem to drum up any business until a famous celebrity eats there one day and publicizes the homemade apple pie as the best he’s ever tasted. Every story you’ve read, movie you’ve seen, or TV show you’ve watched, if it is any good, has some sort of conflict in it. Even if you don’t notice it at first glance, look again – it is there. Someone may have a problem with someone else. It may be a squabble at the cash register about the price of cereal. A fight may break out as a result. There are so many options. Use them as a guide to crafting your own.

Writers seek involvement with the subject matter they are reading. So too should readers. It is important that readers know how to pinpoint what the conflict is, when it started, where it escalated, and how it ended. This will make the reading journey all that much more enjoyable and profound so that when you move on to other works, you can appreciate them all the more for the conflict that interests and fuels your reading desire.

Freshman Fourteen by Beth RodgersMy novel, ‘Freshman Fourteen,’ incorporates a lot of conflict early on especially, as I felt it quite necessary to make main character Margot’s journey through freshman year as difficult as possible at the start. In my mind, that would make her that much more worthy of going through the journey to get past all of the troubles she had. They serve to make her a stronger, more purposeful character.

Anything can be construed as conflict. Even writer’s block (or reader’s block, when you don’t know what to pick as your next read) is a conflict. Use the examples above to resolve this and master your own writing and reading techniques.


Want more from Beth? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Beth on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew with the express permission of Beth Rodgers.

Save

Marked by Fate

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00062]

Defined by Their Choices

A collection of 25 Fantasy and Science Fiction YA coming of age novels from New York Times, USA Today, International, Amazon bestselling and Award-Winning authors!!

This action-packed boxset is filled with teen warriors who encounter queens, witches, wizards, werewolves, shifters, angels, and gods. Follow genetically engineered soldiers, cyborgs, and robots discover magical hidden fantasy worlds, encounter mind-blowing dystopian lands, space stations, and galaxies they could never have dreamed existed while traveling through time into uncharted territories. Marked by Fate to complete these deadly and dangerous quests filled with nonstop action and adventure!

iBook Preorder Link Date: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1229491448

Giveaway iBooks Link: http://woobox.com/32f5tp

Marked by Fate - 3D JPG


Two members of the Young Adult Author Rendezvous have contributed to this set.

Kristin D. Van Risseghem
At the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.
Her website is HERE.

Amalie Jahn
At the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.
Her website is HERE.

Save

22 Books for $0.99

GIF File Full Cover (Twitter Google+ Websites)

Want to stock your e-reader full of fantasy books? Fire and Fantasy includes 22 full length novels, some from bestselling and award winning authors.

How great is that? 

Not only can you get all of these books for $0.99 during the July and August pre-order, but you can be sent TEN other awesome books to tide you over until it’s released.

Seriously?

Yes! AND there’s a giveaway with absolutely NO requirements to enter.

Click on the image below to find out how to purchase and get all of your free goodies.

BookFunnel Illustrations with instructions


Young Adult Author Rendezvous member, Michelle Lynn, is a part of this box set.

You can find her at the YA Author Rendezvous HERE.

See her online HERE.

Find her on Facebook HERE.

Save

An Interview in Pictures with Lauren Mayhew

An Interview in Pictures with Lauren Mayhew

By Michelle Lynn

You can learn a lot about a person through the things they see, the things they find important. Sometimes it is a bigger insight into their life than their words. 

So let’s look inside the mind, inside the life, of an author. I’ve asked them to answer each question with a single picture. No caption. Just an image. 

  1. A picture that you think represents who you are.

    lauren 1

    2. A real-life picture that could have been taken in the world of one of your books.

    lauren 2

  2. Do you have a writing companion (pet or child)?

    lauren 3

    4. Your favorite book of all time.

    lauren 4

  1. Your bookshelf.

    lauren 5

  2. A picture that represents something you love to do (outside of writing or reading).

    lauren 6

  1. Favorite place (Beach, mountains, city, etc.)

    lauren 7

  1. Something that makes you smile.

    lauren 8

  2. Something that inspires you.

    lauren 9

 

From Lauren: I’m a twenty-four year old dreamer from England, with a passion for the written word – I hope you enjoy the worlds that I have created for your enjoyment.


Lauren is a talented Young Adult author and can be found in many places:

Amazon
Facebook
Website

YA Author Rendezvous

Save

May-July New Releases

So many great new books from our group this summer!!

 

transcendent5/29 – Transcendent (The Descendant Series Book 3)
by L.J. Amodeo

In the anticipated final book of the Descendant Series, tyranny, betrayal and chaos erupt across the realms.

To trust those you believe would never deceive you would be a grave mistake.

In the belly of the beast, Dante will stop at nothing to wield dominant power of all the realms, while the Trinity summons the Circle of Seven to unleash an attack on the beastly Abigarian and Hellion armies. Will Elizabeth allow the forces of the Dark Realm and coven witches to inflict their wrath, or will she find a way to bring to light the Prophecy of the Three, ending Dante’s pursuit of becoming the supreme lord?

Elizabeth, the transcendent child and the legion of angels must fight against the lies, destruction, and chaos of the Dark Realm in an attempt to stop Dante once and for all..

Purchase Transcendent HERE

————————————————————————————————————————–

tenuous

5/30 – Tenuous (The Astralis Series Book 2)
by K.J. McPike

After the tumultuous months following her sixteenth birthday, Lali Yavari just wants life to go back to the way it was before—before her mother left, before she discovered she could astral project, and most of all, before she met Kai. But the boy she would prefer to avoid pops up in her life again, and this time it’s a matter of life and death. When the unthinkable happens, Lali is determined to use her brothers’ time traveling abilities to make things right. Unfortunately, no one warned her that trying to change the past could result in getting stuck there…

Return to the captivating, unpredictable world of the Astralis series in this breathtaking follow-up to the award-winning XODUS.

Purchase Tenuous HERE

————————————————————————————————————————–

 

torn by blood

5/31 – Torn By Blood (The Iron Series Book 4)
by J.N. Colon

She’s not safe from the darkness. She’s not safe from him.

Kory is now a full time student at Amarose Academy and a whole new set of dangers surround her. Her parents’ secrets are beginning to unravel, revealing a web of lies so thick and twisted she’s not sure who the real enemy is. And to make matters worse, her broken heart is leaving her vulnerable to Kye’s darkness lurking around every corner. Taunting her. Tempting her.

As Kory struggles with her conflicting emotions and Rex tries to prove he’s worthy of her trust again, chaos erupts in the ferrum world, threatening their very existence. She must decide where her loyalties lie even if she doesn’t have all the answers.

Nothing is as it seems and when Kye’s ultimate goal is revealed, will Kory’s connection with Rex be enough to save her? Or will she let the darkness win, dooming not only Rex but the entire world?

Purchase Torn By Blood HERE

————————————————————————————————————————–

 

phantom light

6/12 – Phantom Light: A Phantoms Novella
by Jessica Hawke

“If you hold onto this world hard enough, you’ll get a grasp on it. But it will get a grasp on you, too, and you won’t be able to decide anymore that you’re ready to go.”

When Valerie Young wakes up from a horrific accident to a world gone gray and cold, she wants to believe anything but the truth of what happened. But as she struggles to accept the dreaded d-word, time is slipping away for her to move on to the afterlife. When she realizes her younger sister has been irreparably altered by the accident, Valerie must choose between a chance at peace and the cold reality of existence as a restless spirit.

 

Purchase Phantom Light HERE

 

————————————————————————————————————————–

 

summertime

6/30 – The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: Summertime
by Ellen Buikema

The Chameleons’ vacation is off to a bumpy start. Frankie, the family fish, causes trouble on the plane. Papa gets lost driving in the mountains trying to find Mystery Lake, where Frankie is sure mermaids lurk.
When the family returns home Charlie’s old friend, Tamika, visits him and meets his new friends. At a summer soccer game, Boris sees Tamika and is smitten.

These multicultural stories are intended for second and third grade students as well as advanced first graders to read independently. Children ages three through nine will enjoy the antics of the characters in the Charlie books. To the author’s surprise, these books are being enjoyed by a wider audience than expected.

Reading the series helps children develop empathy and cultivate insight into their lives. The stories cover situations children typically encounter like getting lost, moving, starting a new school, making friends, family vacations, working in a team, and dealing with bullies using a positive method.

The animals possess human characteristics. Charlie Chameleon takes Frankie the fish wherever he goes. If the fish in Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat represents the Superego, Frankie, one of the feistier characters in the series, is all Id. Frankie wants everything, and he wants it right now.

Each chapter ends with one or more activities for children and parents or teachers to do together, related to the actions in the stories.

 

Purchase Summertime HERE

 

————————————————————————————————————————–

 

beyond the sanctified

7/14 – Beyond the Sanctified (The Sevens Prophecy Book 3)
by Amalie Jahn

The Sevens Prophecy
(With Regard to the End of Days)

“There will come a day when seven psychic children of the light and seven psychic children of the dark will be born. From the moment of their birth, strong powers will be in place to bring the seven light together and the seven dark together to form two separate but equally powerful groups. The first seven to gather all in one place will seal the fate of the world – dark for hell, light for heaven. At that point the seven deadly sins will take over the world or cease to exist.”

Although Mia and Thomas have successfully unified six of the seven light psychics foretold of in the ancient Sevens Prophecy, it’s not enough to seal the fate of the world for the light. Now the only way to conquer evil is to prevent the dark psychics from gathering. But tracking them down is proving more difficult than they first anticipated and time is running out, especially now that the dark psychics are coming after them.

As both sides of the prophecy gather, which group will ultimately decide the fate of the world?

Pre-order Beyond the Sanctified HERE

 

————————————————————————————————————————–

 

revolt

7/18 – Revolt: Book Four of the Resistance Series
by Tracy Lawson

To Deny Freedom is to Deny the Human Spirit.

Fugitive Resistance fighter Tommy Bailey has come out of hiding to help rescue Careen Catecher from the clutches of the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, where she’s been held and interrogated for information about the rebel group. The OCSD is poised to launch the Cerberean Link, a security device that will put all minors under constant surveillance under the guise of protecting them.

Fearful that OCSD director Madalyn Davies’s bid for control won’t stop there, the Resistance puts its own plan in motion to sabotage the Link and oust Madalyn from the directorship. Just when everything seems leveraged in the Resistance’s favor, treachery, lies, and long-held secrets threaten to derail it all.

Will even a life together on the run be impossible for Tommy and Careen? Or will the Resistance’s efforts convince the public to put their fears aside and demand freedom?

Pre-order Revolt HERE

————————————————————————————————————————–

 

the conclave

7/21 – The Conclave (The Converters Trilogy Book 3)
by Tenille Berezay

Having escaped the dangers of The Keep, Desiree is determined to free Blake. But when a government-enhanced converter goes rogue, the ensuing battle for power, control, and lives makes Blake’s rescue a secondary mission. As Desiree struggles to overcome past demons and new, stifling expectations, she faces converters more powerful, dangerous, and desperate than ever. To protect those she loves, redeem the convergence, overtake The Keep, and honor the Conclave, Desiree will have to redefine her future.

THE CONCLAVE is the intense, action-packed final book in the Converters trilogy; the conclusion of Desiree’s journey.

 

Pre-order The Conclave HERE

 

Author Spotlight – Amalie Jahn

An Interview with author Amalie Jahn

By Michelle Lynn

amalie

Amalie Jahn is a brilliant young adult author. She writes multiple series including some of the best time-travel books I have read. Her stories deserve some recognition and I am happy to introduce her to the readers of the Young Adult Author Rendezvous.

 

  1. What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

The Clay Lion Series includes three YA time travel books which are each stand-alones in their own right – The Clay Lion, Tin Men, and A Straw Man. Each book follows a different main character on a trip back in time to save someone they love. In The Clay Lion, Brooke travels back in time in an attempt to save her brother Branson’s life. In Tin Men, Charlie searches for his birth parents. And in A Straw Man, Melody tries to save her boyfriend, Nate, from the throws of addiction. I’ve also written an NA trilogy called the Sevens Prophecy Series about a group of psychic strangers who are destined to save the world.

  1. Who’s your favorite character from your books?

When you spend hundreds of hours with your characters day in and day out, crafting their personalities and sharing in their triumphs as well as their defeats, they become part of your family. So, choosing the one you love best is a bit like picking your favorite child. Diplomatically, I enjoy them all for different reasons, but if you’re making me choose just one, I supposed Brooke would be my favorite. There’s a lot of me inside of her, from her dogged perseverance to her desire to control the uncontrollable. Sharing her journey was a way for me to sort out some of my own issues, and I’ll always be grateful to her for that.

  1. Time travel – probably one of the coolest, but also most difficult ideas to write about. What were some of the challenges you faced in dealing with it?

The idea for the story about time travel came to me in a dream. I woke up and jotted clay liondown a few notes so I wouldn’t forget them. When I revisited my ideas at the start of the manuscript I began to realize that a lot of what was plausible in my subconscious imagination would not work realistically in the world I wanted to create for my characters. I struggled a lot with the fundamentals of how time travel was going to work in my world, and those struggles manifest themselves in many middle-of-the-night rewriting sessions, when I would wake up in a cold sweat realizing entire chapters would have to change because theoretically the timelines just wouldn’t sync. For example, in an early draft Brooke’s parents remembered Branson’s initial death after her first trip back in time, but of course that would be quite impossible because by going back in time, Brooke started along a new timeline in which she was the only one with any memory of that first death. There was also the issue of Brooke traveling inside her own conscious to avoid the possibility of running into her past or future self during her trips. I made rules for myself and then immediately break them. It nearly drove me mad. And although I’d like to say writing about time travel got easier as I made my way through the series, the struggle continued with the second and third books. I did the best I could with the challenges time travel presented, but at the end of the day I just had to trust that readers would read past the small plot holes and focus more on the storyline. I’m happy to report this seems to be the case.

  1. I’m a huuuuge fan of your books and one of the things that always amazes me is that even though time travel plays a big role, they don’t seem like science fiction books. The storylines seem more about relationships than the details of actually traveling back in time. Was this on purpose?

Absolutely. I’m not really a big sci-fi girl. I enjoy a good Star Trek episode as much as the next person, but what has always been the most important thing to me as a reader is my connection with the characters. I have to be invested. I have to feel what they’re feeling in a way that immerses me in their world. I wanted The Clay Lion to be Brooke’s story, her journey out of a dark place and into the light. Time travel was simply the means to propel her forward on that path of discovery. With that being said, as readers move through the series, the characters begin to delve more deeply into the more specific ramifications of time travel. Melody’s experience in A Straw Man is a deeply disturbing with regard to the significant damage it can cause.

  1. The Clay Lion is probably one of the most heart-wrenching books I’ve read. It’s a love story, but I found it also to be about family and learning some hard life lessons. How do you balance a desire to write about romance with a story filled with grief and so much pain?

Isn’t that the balance of life – taking the good with the bad and making room for them both? I knew what was eventually going to pull Brooke out of her depression in the midst of her grief was love, in all its forms. She starts out so broken, but when she allows the love back in, the healing process begins. I believe this is true in life, that love helps us overcome, and I wanted the simplicity of a blossoming romance to help Brooke find her way. As an author, I couldn’t keep taking from her without eventually giving something in return.

  1. What authors have inspired you to write?

Oh jeez, so many. From my childhood: Judy Blume, V.C. Andrews, Jerry Spinelli. The first book that taught me about the emotional power of the written word was Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. I read a ton of Dean Koontz in my twenties and still revere him for his prolific body of work. The author that made me want to become a writer, however, was Christina Schwarz. I distinctly remember reading Drowning Ruth and thinking “I want to write like this someday.” I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

  1. What age were you when you started writing?

I remember writing fiction as early as second grade. I wrote short stories in little steno notebooks I kept hidden under my bed. My spelling was atrocious (still is!), but I learned at a very young age how writing could be used as an escape and a way to sort out problems one story at a time. It’s always been a form of catharsis for me.

  1. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Yes and no. Sometimes when I sit down to the computer I’m not sure how a particular scene is going to play out or (more rarely) what comes next. At those times, I either let my characters take over or work on something else for a day or two until the perfect solution presents itself. Most times, if I’m stuck, I force myself to write through it, knowing I can always come back and revise if necessary.

  1. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

among tsYes to both. I always have some sort of rough idea of where the story is headed, but it’s never very detailed. I liken it to knowing that I want to drive across the United States from New York to California, and I know I want to see Cincinnati and Las Vegas along the way, I just don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there. The characters make those more specific decisions for me. Which roads to take. Which detours to make. I love it when they surprise me along the way with ideas of places to stop I hadn’t even imagined.

  1. Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

Wait. They aren’t?

  1. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

Oh, yes. When it came to publishing I basically did everything wrong because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. If I had to go back again I would be more patient. I would have spent more time learning about the industry before diving in head first. With that being said, my publishing journey has been an amazing learning experience as well as one of the greatest joys of my life, missteps and all.

  1. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Absolutely. The final book in the Sevens Prophecy Series is due out this summer, and I’m patiently waiting for a release date for a YA contemporary I’ve written about a farm girl from Iowa named Tess Goodwin who moves to North Carolina when her father reenlists in the Army after September 11th. It’s a friendship story (and a love story) about Tess finding acceptance in the last place she’s expecting.

  1. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

tinWell, I believe you can’t actually call yourself and author until someone tells you your book is “garbage.” Thankfully I’ve only encountered a few comments as painful as that. I know most publishers encourage their authors not to read reviews, but can’t help myself. The truth is, as much as the good ones brighten my days, the critical ones often shed light on areas I need to focus on improving. I think the trick is not falling under the delusion that just because your body of work is successful as a whole that you don’t need to continue growing in your craft. Learn how to tighten the plot, be more descriptive, or improve the flow of dialogue. I know that I can always do better and that my readers deserve the best work I can produce. And as for the best compliment I’ve gotten? Nothing makes me happier that when I hear I’ve made a reader cry. Knowing someone has connected with my characters at such a deeply emotional level makes reading the handful of “garbage” comments worth it.

  1. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up.

Keep pushing yourself to try new techniques.

Write the story inside you, not the story you think will sell a million copies.

Read a lot. Then read some more.

Find a good editor.

Believe in yourself.

  1. Do you have any strange writing habits?

It has to be quiet when I write. No music. No television. No kids playing in an adjoining room. I have a desk set up on my treadmill, and I walk while I write so I’m not sitting on my butt all day. I go pretty slow, though, because I’ve found if I walk too fast my brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and my writing gets pretty mushy. About 3.5 mph is my max before I’m spouting nothing but gibberish.

What others are saying about Amalie Jahn:

“There’s a very profound message hidden in these pages. You get glimpses of it throughout but you don’t truly understand it until the very end of the story.”

“It will tear your heart out of your chest and piece it back together again, stronger than it was before. You will experience every emotion from A to Z and back again, and you will have grown as a person for having read it.”


You can find Amalie Jahn on Facebook HERE!

Check out Amalie Jahn’s website to learn more HERE!

See Amalie Jahn’s page at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE!

Check out more of our blog posts HERE!

Save

Keeping Reading in the Joy Column

Love Reading - Young Adult Author RendezvousWritten by Cynthia Port.

Academic year 2016-2017 is officially ON!  Bring on the new friends! Sign up for  afterschool clubs! Meet some inspiring teachers! Start documenting every single page you read and every single minute you spend reading!  Wait . . . whut?

Sadly, often yes.

And I get why, I really do—not all kids are avid readers, and teachers need to insure that a minimum is happening for everybody.  For lots of kids, though, setting a “minimum” amount can make it feel like a maximum, as in, “Reading any more than the 20 pages my teacher assigned for tonight just makes me a sucker.”

Even worse, assigned reading can shift the whole experience of reading from the “joy” column in a young person’s life to the “chore” column. We definitely don’t want that.

Luckily, there are lots of way to keep reading in the joy column all year, and all life, long.  Here are a handful of ideas:

1. Make an after school or weekend library visit a regular thing, tempting your child or teen with more fun choices than she or he can handle.  You might take turns picking out books to read aloud to each other, or invent a library game.  A fun one that helps kids broaden their reading interests is “Reading Roulette,” where you walk down an aisle of books with your eyes closed, pull out 3-5 books sight unseen and select at least one of them to read.

2. Create a family reading time. This can be a family ‘read aloud’ or a family ‘read together,’ where everybody gets cozy on the couch with their own book in their hands. Either option can be 15 minutes a night, or a longer, once a week gathering—whatever works with your family’s schedule.

3. Read books for fun yourself, and do it at a time when your child or teen sees you reading.  It’s tempting to read only after the kids are tucked in, or only when they’re at school or sports, but as with most everything else in a child’s life, if they see YOU enjoying reading, they will forever associate reading with something fun and pleasurable.

4. Movies that have been made from books can also be a great incentive.  Right now my daughter wants to watch the Lord of the Rings movies.  We’ll make each one a special movie night just as soon as we finish each book.

5. You know I’ve gotta say it—check out the great books for children and teens at YAAR!  We’ve got so many amazing titles, and there’s always some on sale. Plus, every YAAR author LOVES to hear from readers.  Nothing sets reading more firmly in the joy column than the chance to make friends with the author of a book that inspires, delights, makes you weep, or gives you the shivers.

What ideas do YOU have for keeping reading in the joy column?

Bumped and The Handmaid’s Tale: A Comparison

Bumped by Megan McCafferty - Young Adult Author RendezvousWritten by Tracy Lawson.

“The United States of America once ranked above all industrialized nations in the realm of teen pregnancy. We were the undisputed queens of precocious procreation! We were number one before, and we can be number one again!” –President’s State of the Union Address, Bumped

What’s to be done when a country faces an infertility crisis? Women of childbearing age become the most precious commodity, the most sought-after natural resource. Will they be celebrated and pampered—or subjugated—to spur the creation of the children essential to the society’s survival?

That’s the question in both Bumped by Megan McCafferty and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The societies depicted in these novels both formulate plans to replenish their populations through surrogate mothers, and their governments launch propaganda campaigns that sanction and even glorify using women as breeders.

Though teen sex is glorified in pop culture and slang in the young adult novel Bumped, the actual details of bumping are kept appropriately veiled, while in the dystopian horror story The Handmaid’s Tale the rituals of mating with a surrogate are relayed in stark detail.

Religion and its influence on people’s attitudes toward procreation is central to both stories. In Bumped, the Goodside religious community seeks its own solution to the country’s infertility issues, and in The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic government blames the lack of healthy children on a permissive, promiscuous society, and aims to correct the problem by properly subjugating women.

In Bumped, 75% of the teenagers in Melody Mayflower’s high school class are infected with HPSV, the Human Progressive Sterility Virus, and will go irreversibly sterile sometime between their eighteenth and twentieth birthdays. These stats are the norm nationwide, and the teens in Bumped are bombarded with songs whose lyrics glorify pregnancy. Trendy stores at the mall that sell provocative clothing and “fun bumps,” strap-on bellies that show the girls how sexy they’ll look when pregnant. Even school clubs like the Pro/Am Pregg Alliance put the focus on procreation.

Teens are pushed to have as many children as possible before they reach the age at which they’ll become infertile. They use the drug Tocin, which lessens inhibitions and causes memory loss, to help set the mood and make it less embarrassing to bump with partners they barely know. Later, they’re told, after they become sterile, they can attend college, get married, and adopt children of their own, and build their lives with someone they love. But for now, bumping with lots of partners is a way to keep the human race going until the full effects of the virus are known.

“A free society cannot force girls to have children, but a free market can richly reward those who do.” Ashley and Tyler Mayflower, PhDs, Princeton University

Melody’s parents, both economics professors, adopted her when she was a baby, and they’ve spent her entire life developing her brand and molding her into the perfect Surrogette—beautiful, accomplished, and intelligent. When she was fourteen, Melody’s virginity was brokered to the highest-bidding couple, which was a radical idea at the time, but now pregging for profit is something to which teen girls aspire. Melody received a six-figure signing bonus, and, In exchange for giving birth to a healthy child, she can count on a new car, liposuction, and college tuition. She’s been paired with Jondoe, the most genetically flawless bumping partner available, and they’re scheduled to do the deed as soon as possible. Melody’s been preparing for this her whole life. So why is she having reservations?

It turns out there’s more than one obstacle blocking the successful execution of her parents’ plans.

The first hitch shows up on Melody’s doorstep, in the form of her long-lost identical twin, Harmony. The girls were separated at birth, and Harmony, the frail, sickly twin, was adopted into a religious sect called Goodside. Now, Harmony’s run away from her community to save her sister from a life of sin. And she’s got a few ideas about saving herself, too.

Though Harmony has been reared to believe that life for a woman is JOY: Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last, she’s not comfortable with all the tenets of her faith-based community, and is especially distressed by the scripture in 1 Corinthians, which dictates that the wife’s body belongs to her husband. Early marriage and procreation are of paramount importance in the theocratic communal society of Goodside. Girls are raised to be mothers, nothing more. Harmony’s not sure how she feels about arranged marriage, and she flees rather than commit to a lifetime with someone she doesn’t love. When Jondoe mistakes Harmony for Melody, she’s more confused than ever.

Melody’s BFF, Zen adds to the problems. He’s sweet and charming and would be the perfect boyfriend, except he’s not “upmarket” enough to be Sperm for a Surrogette like Melody. Though he’s desperately in love with Mel, is Zen destined to be just an “Everythingbut” for a professional pregger like her?

Neither situation is healthy for these young girls. Melody feels responsibility as the president of her school’s Pro/Am Pregg Alliance to set an example of pregging for profit that influences other girls, for better or for worse, never mind that she’s the oldest virgin in the club. The girls in Otherside may believe it’s easy to stay emotionally detached while having sex, giving birth and then turning their children over for adoption, but Melody learns that’s not always the case.

Harmony rebels against her austere and restrictive upbringing, while Melody rebels against her parents’ plan for her. But at least in Bumped, the girls retain some autonomy. The decision to bump or not to bump is still theirs, despite peer pressure and a growing demand for children to adopt. Many teens will enter the baby market, but they won’t have to pregg at the point of a gun.

Not so for the unfortunate Handmaids.The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Attwood - Young Adult Author Rendezvous

“Our big mistake was teaching them [women] to read. We won’t do that again.”

The Handmaid system of repopulating the Republic of Gilead (formerly the United States) came about after a decline in healthy births in the late 20th century, which was attributed to many factors, including the rampant use of birth control, abortions, AIDS, syphilis, nuclear accidents, and the uncontrolled use of herbicides and insecticides.
At first, surrogates were hired, but when the number of healthy births continued to decline, the government declared all second marriages and non-marital liaisons adulterous, arrested the women in those relationships, and confiscated and adopted out their children to upper class families. The women were given the option of becoming surrogates. But it was never really an option.

Childless or infertile older women were recruited as Aunts to help run the Handmaid indoctrination programs, and wives who were unable to have children of their own took part in and supported the system that made sex slaves out of other women. After all, a little power is better than no power at all.

“There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.”

Commanders, men highly placed in the regime, chose Handmaids for their households from among the indoctrinated women who had demonstrated reproductive fitness.

“Not every Commander has a Handmaid; some of their Wives have children. From each, says the slogan, according to her ability; to each according to his needs. We recited that, three times, after dessert. It was from the Bible, or so they said. St. Paul again, in Acts.” Take away free access to information and enslave.

The mating ritual was an absolute horror which forced Commander, Wife, and Handmaid to take part in a regimented copulation designed to reduce the Handmaid to nothing more than a vessel held by the Wife to receive her husband’s seed. To say that it warped the sex act for all concerned would be a gross understatement.

Many Commanders of the regime came in contact with a sterility-causing virus developed by scientists, Pre-Gilead, which were intended to be used on the Soviets. But it was against the law to insinuate that a Commander could be sterile, so Commanders, Wives, and Handmaids went through the horror of the mating ritual, month after month, until the Handmaid either conceived, went insane, or was traded in by the family for a better specimen. Younger men of lower classes were shut out of marriage entirely. But Handmaids often risked their lives to use these men as studs when their Commanders failed to impregnate them. The risk was great, but the reward for producing a healthy child was even greater: it guaranteed that a Handmaid would never be sent to any undesirable location, never be made to shovel up the polluted waste in the Colonies or be a prostitute at Jezebel’s gentleman’s club.

Handmaids were identified by their red full-length robes and veils, and were tattooed on their ankles, a “passport in reverse…supposed to guarantee that they will never be able to fade, finally, into another landscape. I am too important, too scarce, for that. I am a national resource.”

The narrator in The Handmaid’s Tale never gives her real name. Handmaids were stripped of identities other than “Ofglen” or “Ofwarren” which associated them with their Commanders. If they changed households, they changed names. Handmaids were discouraged from forming relationships of any kind with the families they served.

“We lived as usual. Everyone does, most of the time. Whatever is going on is as usual. Even this is as usual, now.”

Both novels demonstrate how far things can spin out of control when people are forced into unnatural behaviors and brainwashed to believe that it’s just business as usual.

A Review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Written by Lauren Mayhew

***I’ve tried my hardest not to put any spoilers in this, but if you don’t want to know anything about this play, it’s probably best not to read my review!***

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling - Young Adult Author RendezvousHarry Potter and the Cursed Child – J.K. Rowling – 4 Stars

Blurb: It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

I was so excited to read this, and though I tried to hang on in the hope that I’d see it on stage first, I couldn’t. Tickets are almost impossible to get, and when it comes to Harry Potter, I have no willpower.

The fact that I managed to read this in the space of a few hours is a testament to how good it is. I couldn’t put it down – I just had to know how it would end.

I’m not going to spoil anything, so this may be a bit of a cryptic review.

However much I loved this play, I couldn’t give it 5 stars. It had nothing to do with the format, I quite enjoy reading plays. You get to skip a lot of unnecessary description, and the story moves along a lot quicker.

It was the actions of certain characters that docked a star. I won’t name names, don’t worry. One character in particular, one of my favourites, seemed very dumbed down and a bit of a loser. This was not what I was expecting from them and I was disappointed that my favourite character had changed so much.

A few other events take place with two other characters that were so unbelievable to me. I refuse to believe that one of the most good-hearted characters would ever turn bad. I can’t think of a way to describe the other characters’ actions without giving anything away.

I loved the appearance of the original Harry Potter characters, even though a few of them seemed a little different than before. I especially loved Draco’s appearance in this. He’s still the same old Draco, but there’s definitely some good in him too.

Overall I loved it, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who can’t make it to see it performed on stage. Hopefully I can get tickets one day!

Now I live in hope that J.K. Rowling will write something about the Maurauders. I’d love to know what they got up to at Hogwarts!!

Save

1984 and Little Brother: A Comparison

1984 by george orwell young adult author rendezvousWritten by Tracy Lawson

This was a difficult post to write. It’s been on the to-do list for months while I ruminated. And hedged. And procrastinated.

1984 is one of the big boys in the dystopian genre. I assume that most of you have read it, or are at least familiar with its theme.

1984 by George Orwell (1949) and Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2008) are inextricably linked by their subject matter. Both serve as warnings. Both have the power to mesmerize and horrify the reader. Both should make us think. But today, I’m asking you to read Little Brother and think long and hard about what it has to say.

1984 is a classic cry against totalitarian government. It’s easy to assume that Orwell was railing against the post-World War II spread of communism, but he was also warning countries like England and the United States against believing that they could save freedom and democracy by continuing an arms race to find a stable “deterrent.” Orwell asserts that freedom cannot continue to exist in a world preparing for nuclear war.

In a world punctuated by war, oppression, deprivation, loneliness, paranoia, and despair, Winston reaches out for truth and love. And pays a terrible cost.

Little Brother relays an updated message: freedom cannot exist in a world that has given in to little brother by cory doctrow young adult author rendezvousthe fear of terrorism. Marcus Yallow (online handle W1n5t0n) is a hacker and a gamer who loves to outsmart surveillance technology. While skipping school one afternoon, he finds himself near the epicenter of a terrorist attack on San Francisco’s rapid transit system. Within minutes of the attack, Marcus and his three friends are taken prisoner by “military looking guys in coveralls.”

“Hey,” I said to the soldiers. “Hey, listen! We’re just high school students. I wanted to flag you down because my friend was bleeding. Someone stabbed him.” I had no idea how much of this was making it through the muffling bag. I kept talking. “Listen—this is some kind of misunderstanding. We’ve got to get my friend to a hospital—“

Someone went upside my head again. It felt like they used a baton or something—it was harder than anyone had ever hit me in the head before. My eyes swam and watered and I literally couldn’t breathe through the pain. A moment later, I caught my breath, but I didn’t say anything. I’d learned my lesson.

Who were these clowns? They weren’t wearing insignia. Maybe they were the terrorists! I’d never really believed in terrorists before—I mean I knew that in the abstract there were terrorists somewhere in the world, but they didn’t really represent any risk to me. There were millions of ways that the world could kill me—starting with getting run down by a drunk burning his way down Valencia—that were infinitely more likely and immediate than terrorists. Terrorists kill a lot fewer people than bathroom falls and accidental electrocutions. Worrying about them always struck me as about as useful as worrying about getting hit by lightning.

Marcus soon learns he’s been detained by the Department of Homeland Security as a person of interest in the terrorist attack.

“You think I’m a terrorist? I’m seventeen years old!”

Just the right age—Al Qaeda loves recruiting impressionable, idealistic kids. We googled you, you know. You’ve posted a lot of very ugly stuff on the public Internet.”

”I’d like to speak to an attorney.”

Severe haircut lady looked at me like I was a bug. “You’re under the mistaken impression that you’ve been picked up by the police for a crime. You need to get past that. You are being detained as a potential enemy combatant by the government of the United States. If I were you, I’d be thinking very hard about how to convince us that you are not an enemy combatant.”

Despite the threats made by his captors, Marcus refuses to unlock and uncrypt his cell phone, or give any information to them. He feels that he is a citizen who loves freedom, which makes him the patriot and his captors the traitors. He is detained for five days, and released when he agrees to sign papers that declared he had been held for voluntary questioning. He is then released and told to say nothing of what has happened to him to anyone, even his parents. He is told that he will be under constant surveillance.

When he returns to school the following week, he finds things have changed since the terrorist attack. The school board has installed closed circuit televisions in every classroom for the students’ protection.

Why did we have cameras in our classrooms now? Terrorists. Of course. Because by blowing up a bridge, terrorists had indicated that schools were next. Somehow that was the conclusion the Board had reached anyway.

I stuck my hand up.

”Yes, Marcus?”

“Ms. Galvez, about this note?”

“Yes, Marcus.”

“Isn’t the point of terrorism to make us afraid? That’s why it’s called terrorism, right?”

”I suppose so.” The class was staring at me. I wasn’t the best student in school, but I did like a good in-class debate. They were waiting to hear what I’d say next.

“So aren’t we doing what the terrorists want from us? Don’t they win if we act all afraid and put cameras in the classrooms and all of that?”

There was some nervous tittering. One of the others put his hand up. It was Charles. Ms. Galvez called on him.

“Putting cameras in makes us safe, which makes us less afraid.”

”Safe from what?” I asked, without waiting to be called on.

“Terrorism,” Charles said. The others were nodding their heads.

“How do they do that? If a suicide bomber rushed in here and blew us all up—“

“Ms. Galvez, Marcus is violating school policy. We’re not supposed to make jokes about terrorist attacks—“

“Who’s making jokes?”

“Thank you, both of you,” Ms. Galvez said. She looked really unhappy.

Marcus is watched and followed in the days to come. When he finally tells his parents what really happened to him, they are horrified at his ordeal, contact an investigative reporter, and from that moment on, Marcus is in danger. He organizes an event that will bring the overreaching arm of the DHS into the public eye, and things go horribly wrong, causing Marcus’ worst fears to be realized.

Both 1984 and Little Brother serve as warnings. In the Afterword to Little Brother, Andrew Huang asks whether the terrorists have already won:

“Have we given in to fear, such that artists, hobbyists, hackers, iconoclasts or perhaps a group of kids playing Harajuku Fun Madness could be so trivially implicated as terrorists?” He goes on to say that “technology is no cure for paranoia. Coercing millions of people to strip off their outer garments and walk barefoot through metal detectors everyday is no solution, either. It only serves to remind the population that they have a reason to be afraid, while in practice providing only a flimsy barrier to a determined adversary.”

We are fond of slogans like “Freedom isn’t Free.” We must remember that we win freedom by having the courage to live every day as free people—no matter how big the threats on the horizon.

Please don’t give in to fear and paranoia. Don’t forget to be brave. Don’t believe that the things the government does to take away our freedoms are merely a small price to pay for our safety.

http://cg68doc.newsvine.com/_news/2013/08/06/19885640-exclusive-us-directs-agents-to-cover-up-program-used-to-investigate-americans

Tracy’s original post can be read here.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: