Saturday, April 20, 2013

Story Saturdays: An Excerpt and a Bit on Writing YA

My boys, Timothy Cooper and Jackson Phillips, sit at #1 and #2 this morning at Amazon, and that is amazing. (4-17-2013) I am grateful to the readers who've pushed them there, and to the writers and authors who've helped me promote.

That said, I have two things I want to address about writing stories for young adults (teens), and I suppose, ironically, these comments are for the adults. Perhaps I am the only forty-something who remembers what it's like to be seventeen. I like to think I'm not; in some measure, I know I'm not. But it never ceases to amaze me the comments I get about stories that should lift you up. So I'm going to lay all this out there, my heart on my sleeve, as it were.

1. Are your stories edited?

Yes. Yes. And Yes. Nothing ever leaves my computer without going before one or two people who check it for content, grammar, and spelling. These people are writers themselves, they understand my style of writing, and where I'm trying to go with whatever story goes before them. So rest assured that whatever you read has passed by the eyes of people who would speak up if I was out of line at all.

This leads me to point of view (POV). There are many different POV choices. All are correct, but some are presently more out of style than others. I will either use first person, third person, or a mix of first and third. In writing YA, I prefer to use both 1st and 3rd in the same story. This is not that unusual, nor it is unacceptable. First person is more candid, which I believe speaks better to teens, but an entire story written in first person can become tedious. I like to show both the girl and boy's points of view, so I will often include third person to differentiate between them. I am a girl (duh) so writing the girl in first person comes a bit easier for me.

2. What are you trying to accomplish writing YA?

I am writing FEEL-GOOD ROMANCE.

I am a Christian, so my beliefs come out in my writing, as do those of any other author.Yet in any of my fiction stories, I'm not trying to convert anyone. Instead, I am providing readers with clean romance that when they've completed the book has made them happy. And with my YA, I want the stories to be something the parents and teens can read while in the same room without either one being embarrassed about the content.

Frankly, the current trend toward strange paranormal love stories is frightening to me. I write to provide stories without dark subjects and references to demonic beings as being acceptable. To me, they are not what a teen needs to be reading. Instead, I want teens who read my stories to find themselves in the tale. To think that it is possible for a boy and a girl who've passed each other at school or church to wake up one day and realize they're in love. For girls to know there are guys out there like Timothy Cooper. For boys to see it's okay to be gentle and kind and considerate. It's okay to abstain. And yet for both sides to know that being a teen is the best part of life ever and dealing with raging hormones and strong attractions can lead to amazing things.

That, for me, is the appeal of YA, and why I write it to begin with.



TODAY'S EXCERPT comes from a YA slated to come out next year. THE WORST DAY BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE. 

Accidents happen to Daphne Merrill a lot. So falling face-down at the feet of Carter Pruitt while on vacation miles away from home Is simply another in a long list of her misfortunes.

Yet what started out as the worst day ever is looking up with each minute that passes. Is it possible he actually likes her for who she is? Or is he yet another person laughing behind her back?

Could these seven days possibly be the best week of her life?

EXCERPT: 

All it took was a major face plant to make Carter Pruitt look my way. I’m talking a head-rattling, chin-jarring, sand-in-my-teeth plow into the sun-warmed concrete. I’d like to say I planned it, that I knew what would happen, but that’d be taking credit for something the heavens above must’ve ordained.
Of course, he laughed, and it’s sobering to have the guy you like laugh at you. But it’s so much worse to peel yourself off the ground and find your best pants ripped at the knee, your skin shredded, and blood running down your leg. Then top that off with the buttons of your shirt popped off right across your breasts and your bra hanging out like, “Hello, see me?”
Yeah, he saw. He wasn’t blind. And I was so embarrassed.
This was actually the second time I’d embarrassed myself in front of Carter. The other time was in English. The teacher asked what our most humiliating moment ever was, and I wasn’t about to tell mine because what am I, stupid? Carter Pruitt’s sitting right there. But then she called on me, made me stand up at my seat, and he’s looking at me and I’m wanting to make something up instead of telling the truth.
It was one of those please-God-have-a-hole-open-up-and-swallow-me moments.
But it wasn’t in me to lie. I’d eaten too many bars of soap at my mother’s hands to do that. So I gulped down the bullfrog leaping around in my gullet and launched into the tale. Come the end of it, he was laughing, the class was laughing, I was laughing, but mine was more out of pain.
Pain almost as bad as face-planting at his feet.
Weird thing was, we weren’t in school. We weren’t even in the same town, for that matter. And it’s not like my family schmoozed with his family and planned some vacation together. Honest Abe I was simply carrying my things from the car to our rental apartment, my thoughts on sporting my new bikini down at the Gulf and not so much on the height of the curb. Next thing I know, I’m eating concrete and there he is.
“Daphne Merrill, what are you doing here?” Carter asked.
Now, him speaking had two effects on me. First, it was nice to know he knew my name. Second, oh, no, he knew my name. Only person I’d ever heard of with my first name was that chick on TV, and she had a cool English accent that counter-balanced having such a dumb name.
I clutched the edges of my shirt together. “Apparently, falling at your feet.”
He started laughing again and wiped the corners of his eyes. “You kill me.”
But the only one dying here was me. After all, I’d just done an earth dive in front of Carter Pruitt.
Then my mom walks up and makes the whole thing worse. “Daphne? What did you do to your pants?”
Why are parents like that? Not, “Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself? Let me check your knee,” but worry over my pants, as if they needed to be revived or something.
“I fell,” I said.
“You fell?” She said it like she had doubts.
I wanted to say, Gees, Mom, look at me. But I didn’t.
Then she notices Carter standing there. “Oh, you’ve made a friend.”
Sigh. Little kids make friends. Teenagers do not make friends. And girls especially do not make friends with boys by busting their kiester.
“This is Carter. We go to school together,” I said.
She lowered her shades, peering out over the top. “Well, that’s perfect. You two can spend time together.”
No sooner had she said that than my dad walked up. Now, Dad, was on an average day a complete embarrassment to me. But give him the week off, take him to the beach, and he becomes the epitome of parental horror. He had on these khaki shorts, the puffy kind with front pleats that made him look even fatter, a red floral Hawaiian shirt with dolphins swimming between the blossoms, and mandals.
Dear Lord, I hate mandals.
As if that’s not bad enough, he’s lugging the suitcase – 1972, yellow, hard plastic you could drive a car over and it’d not burst – and beneath his elbow, my mom’s car pillow. He stopped short at sight of Carter and negotiating his hold on the two objects, stuck out his hand. “Hello, son.”
Carter was trying his best not to laugh, and I can’t say as I’d’ve blame him if he had because there we were Geek Family #6. Mom in her sundress and little white sandals. Dad looking like a clown. And me – skinned knee, missing buttons, and all. But fortunately for my pride, he didn’t. Instead, he offered to help tote stuff, and Dad, being himself, took him up on it.
“Why, that’s kind of you.”
And I thought the already awful start to things wasn’t going to get worse, so I led Carter to the car where he reached into the trunk, and of all the things he chose to take out, he picked my clothes bag.
Why? Why? Why … did I use that bag?
Frayed straps, jiggy zipper, hole in the bottom. Hole in the bottom. Oh, yeah, did I mention there was a hole in the bottom? A hole that became a hatchway to release a week’s worth of undies all over Carter’s shoes.
If my face wasn’t several shades of red, it sure seemed like it. My ears burned. My cheeks flamed. I threw myself down on my knees, forgetting one was cut and remembering it instantly, and scrabbled at my underthings. I thought I’d pick them up real fast, and we’d both act like nothing happened.
Only one pair got caught on his toe, and my mortification was complete. This was officially the worst day of my life.

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Suzanne D. Williams  
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

1 comment:

Carla J. Hanna said...

You go girl! I am writing inspirational YA NA as well but find that the Christian market is too rigid and unrealistically chaste.

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