This is the part of the summer where I gasp at how fast the season is going. The good news: we still have all of August ahead of us. Is anyone interested in participating in a writing challenge with me? I have never been able to commit to NaNoWriMo for a variety of reasons, but August feels like the perfect month for an experiment. With the #AugWritingChallenge, you write 500 words a day, each day, for the whole month. There are more details here, and this is for writers of all ages.
Teens, you can participate in an August blog chain if you sign up by August 4th. Sponsored by John Hansen and Teens Can Write, Too, this month's topic is "What characters are you most like?" Sign up here.
I'm looking forward to getting lots of writing done in August. Do you have any creative plans for the rest of the summer?
Today I'm thrilled to feature a guest post from my long time critique partner, C. Lee McKenzie. Her latest YA novel, Double Negative, launches today!
Five Challenges I Had While Writing Double Negative By C. Lee McKenzie
Every book has its challenges, and each one I’ve written presents new ones. Here are five things that I wrestled with during the writing of Double Negative.
1. I struggled deciding how I’d handle Hutch’s language at the beginning of the book. I wanted him to use poor grammar, but I wanted to endear him to readers who I figured would find too much “warped” English annoying.
2. The second struggle was closely related to the first. I needed a way to gradually show Hutch’s language evolving, but I didn’t want to make his slow change disruptive to the story.
3. I dislike anything to do with the drug culture, especially when young people are involved. So I didn’t want to present a lot of drug scenes in my YA book, but I needed a few to put Hutch into bad situations so I could get him out of them. Choosing what kinds of scenes to use was a huge challenge for me.
4. Fat Nyla was a challenge, too. I loved her and I wanted the reader to empathize with her, but I didn’t want her size to be the only way for them to connect with her. Also, I didn’t want her arc to be a Cinderella transformation. She was interesting, but one of the harder characters to “get” right.
5. I have several adults in this story, and the challenge here was to keep the focus on my teen protagonist and let him find his own way, but with these adults as key players throughout.
One thing about being challenged is I learned a lot from writing this book, so I’m grateful it didn’t come easily to the page.
DOUBLE NEGATIVE Summary: Hutchison Mc Queen is a sixteen-year-old smart kid who screws up regularly. He’s a member of Larkston High’s loser clique, the boy who’s on his way to nowher--unless juvenile hall counts as a destination. He squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When that doesn’t work, he goes to Fat Nyla, the one some mean girls are out to get and a person who’s in on his secret--he can barely read. And then Maggie happens. For twenty-five years she’s saved boys from their own bad choices. But she may not have time to save Hutch. Alzheimer’s disease is steadily stealing her keen mind.
C. Lee McKenzie is a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she lives with her family and miscellaneous pets. She writes most of the time, gardens and hikes and does yoga a lot, and then travels whenever she can.
She takes on modern issues that today's teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Her short story, Premeditated Cat, appears in the anthology, The First Time, and her Into the Sea of Dew is part of a collection, Two and Twenty Dark Tales. In 2012, her first middle grade novel, Alligators Overhead, came out.
To learn more about Lee, visit her website, her blog, and the Double Negative Facebook Page.
YCteen Magazine is currently running a teen essay contest based on the following prompt:
If you could change someone's life, who would it be and what would you change? Why? It could be someone you know personally, a stranger you've observed, or yourself.
Writers must be between the ages of 14 and 19. The nonfiction essays (they must be true!) are due October 3, 2014, and can't be more than 800 words. First prize is $150. See the YCteen Contest website for complete rules and guidelines.
On today's blog, author Bobbi Miller will be revealing five things she learned while researching her upcoming historical middle grade novel, The Girls of Gettysburg, available August 1st from Holiday House.
Historical Fiction and The Girls of Gettysburg
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