Here’s a Little Taste Of What’s Just Jumped out of the Dream Catcher World. There’s a Storm Brewing…It’s Going To Hurl You Off Your Feet And Twist You Into A knot. You Best Name Your Beneficiary. You’ll Be Toast.
When seventeen-year-old Jory Pike
cannot shake the hellish nightmares of her parent’s death, she turns to an old
family heirloom, a dream catcher. Even though she’s half blood Chippewa,
Jory thinks old Indian lore is so yesterday, but she’s willing to give it a try.
However, the dream catcher has had its fill of
nightmares from an ancient and violent past.
After a sleepover party and during one of Jory’s most horrific dream
episodes, the dream catcher explodes, sucking Jory and her three friends into
its own world of trapped nightmares—a place where there’s no color or
electricity, the houses are derelict, and the streets are filled with murderers
They are now trapped in the web world, where every nightmare and evil spirit has been kept in quarantine, and these spirit beasts will stop at nothing to halt Jory and her friend’s passage through the realm. Jory leads her friends through the web maze, following the clues of her ancestors. She’ll have to decipher the strange footprints, path markers, and a mysterious riddle. It all leads to the burning light that sears a hole through the middle of the earth. But is that the tunnel of light where people really go when they die? Or is it the Indian light of salvation—the circle of life—the hole in the web? She soon discovers that she is the key and that none of her friends can escape this upside-down world unless she summons the courage to make the first step.
Four sleepover teenagers get sucked into a nightmarish
world when an ancient dream catcher implodes and lands them in a realm of
demonic and monstrous entities. They must search for the light, the center of
the web, the opening where all good things are allowed to pass through. Their
survival depends upon it.
Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Chris H. Stevenson (pen name, Christy J. Breedlove). I’m 67 years-old, officially retired, but writing full time.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Los Angeles and raised on the beaches of California,
one of the original long-board surfers. I’ve lived in Arkansas, Las
Vegas, and I’m currently living in Sylvania, Alabama—down in a holler.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I was originally born in California and then moved to Sylvania,
Alabama in 2009. I currently live with my sister and her husband. My
occupations have included newspaper editor/reporter, amateur astronomer,
federal police officer, Housecleaner and professional doll house and
miniature builder. I’ve been writing off and on for 36 years, having
officially published books beginning in 1988. Today I write in my
favourite genre, Young Adult, but have published in multiple genres and
categories. I was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the
Future contest, and took the first place grand prize in a YA novel
writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moon. I write the
blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics),
hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the
highpoints and pitfalls of publishing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’ve just had a new YA fantasy release, Screamcatcher: Web World. It
is book one of a trilogy. I once wondered what would happen to a very
old dream catcher that was overloaded with dreams and nightmares. What
if the nightmares were too sick or horrible to contain? What if the web
strings could not hold anymore negative images? Would the dream catcher
melt, burst, vanish, implode? Something would have to give, if too much
evil was allowed to congregate in one spot. I found nothing on the
Internet that offered a solution to this problem, and asked myself why
hasn’t anybody used this? So I took it upon myself to answer such a
nagging question. Like too much death on a battlefield could inundate
the immediate area with lost and angry spirits, so could a dream catcher
hold no more of its fill of sheer terror without somehow morphing or
transforming. What would it be like to be caught up in another world
inside the webs of a dream catcher, and how the heck would you ever get
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I fondly remember picking up a copy of Twilight Zone magazine and
reading a short story. I was so gobsmacked, totally taken in by the plot
and characters, that I figured I could do that too. That was in 1986. I
went on a quest to publish my own short stories in the small press, and
one year later had success with selling about a dozen of them. That
really opened things up, but my first real trade published book was a
non-fiction guide about garage and yard sales. It did extremely well. My
first published novel was in 2007.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I can explain the events better: My early writing accomplishment were
multiple hits within a few years: In my first year of writing back in
1987, I wrote three Sf short stories that were accepted by major slick
magazines which qualified me for the Science Fiction Writers of America,
and at the same time achieved a Finalist award in the L. Ron Hubbard
Writers of the Future Contest. This recognition garnered me a top gun SF
agent at the time, Richard Curtis Associates. My first novel went to
John Badham (Director) and the Producers, the Cohen Brothers. Only an
option, but an extreme honor. The writer who beat me out of contention
for a feature movie, was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. My book was
A year after that I published two best-selling non-fiction books and
landed on radio, TV, in every library in the U.S. and in hundreds of
newspapers. For joy!
I have been trying to catch that lightning in a bottle ever since. My
YA dystopian novel, The Girl They Sold to the Moon won the grand prize
in a publisher’s YA novel writing contest, went to a small auction and
got tagged for a film option. I was convinced I was a writer then.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was engrossed in yard sales, indoor swap meets and auctions. It was
truly a mania back then. I had such success at it that my friend dared
me to write a book about it. I did, and that became Garage Sale Mania,
the first ever book on the subject.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Now, as far as my most recent book, I derived the title Screamcatcher
from the words dream catcher. It’s kind of a play on words, but it also
hints at the plot. It’s the Screamcatcher series, with the sub-titles:
Web World, Dream Chasers and The Shimmering Eye.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I admit that my writing style/voice was/is deliberate, and I emulated
who I considered stylists: Poul Anderson, Virgin Planet, Peter
Benchley, The Island and Jaws, Joseph Wambaugh, The Onion Field and
Black Marble, Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park, Alan Dean Foster,
Icerigger trilogy, and some Stephen King. Anne Rice impresses me with
just about anything she has written. I think it’s the humour and irony
that attracts me the most–and it’s all character related.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
If I have a book in a contemporary setting, I strive to make it as
accurate as possible. The world has to obey our general laws of physics
unless I have created something fantastical that requires alternate
world-building. I do have hints of personality traits in my characters
that are based on real people, but not all. I’ll mix it up, so I stay
away from stereotypes and clichés.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No travel necessary. I can usually research exotic locations down to
their exact, fine points. I try not to cheat, but if there is something
I’m unaware of or do not know, I’ll avoid the nitpicking details of it,
to stay on the safe side.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Caroline Andrus created the cover for Screamcatcher, and it’s a total
mind-blower. I’m not just saying that. She has a saber-tooth cat
clawing its way through a dream catcher, and the background is of the
badlands of South Dakota. I’ve been told that the blurb, cover and title
is an at-bat triple. Sales will eventually tell me if it is a homerun
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Aside from my theme that accentuates loyalty, survival and
determination, I do have a very subtle, almost hidden message in the
book. It’s gender related and really no one would ever suspect it,
because it has nothing to do with the main female character. All I’ll
say is, nice guys finish first and get the girl.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your
interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work
that really strikes you?
Neil Gaiman is new to me. I loved his Stardust, and
I plan on reading a lot more of his work. He writers with strong
visuals and senses, and I like that. Susanne Collins and her The Hunger
Games really impressed me. She has a prequel coming out in May of next
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Hands down, it’s my agent Sara Camilli. She has been through the
thick and thin with me, always pushing me to strive and attain my goals.
She is ultra-supportive of me, and quite concerned about my health and
emotional state. She’s never given up on me and refuses to let me give
up on myself.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Not in the sense that it supports me. It did support me for a very
brief time but it is so difficult to keep up that kind of momentum.
Becoming a writer is easy—staying one is hard.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Now that I’ve had a few constructive comments, yes. I would have my
major male character “alpha-up” just a bit. He’s a tad too nice or
desperate for the affection from his soon-to-be girlfriend. I would also
calm down a racy sex scene that the main characters witness. The MCs
don’t resort to overt sex or anything, but they do witness something I
should have toned down.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned some really neat things about Indian lore and culture. I
love that type of diversity in this book. My main female character is
half-blood Chippewa. She is at odds with her true cultural history with
that of a modern, progressive teenage girl.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Without question, my lead character, Jory, is an absolute dead-ringer
for Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. So she would have to be a
very young looking Jennifer Lawrence.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Watch your spending on ads–they can be grossly ineffective. Use
social media and generously interact with fellow writers and readers.
Don’t abuse FB and Twitter solely for the purpose of “Buy My Book.” Join
writing groups and learn from the pros. Ask politely for reviews–don’t
pressure, harass or intimidate. Be creative. Target your genre readers.
Offer incentives and freebies. Craft a newsletter and send it out
bi-monthly. Don’t take critiques as personal attacks–learn from honest
opinions. Don’t despair. Never give up. Revenge query.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Only to support your indie and small press trade authors. You’ll find
some gems there that will delight and shock you. Support your local
independent bookstores—they need the love—they spread enough of it for
you—pay it forward to them.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m re-reading Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s a novelization, but I like the style and wonderment.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was very early on in school when I read The Yearling. That was the
first “classic” that I read. My first science fiction novel was Virgin
Planet by Poul Anderson. He became my pen pal and mentor.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Bumping off a character in a book saddens me greatly, especially when
I’m invested in that person. Great irony makes me bust the gut. Joseph
Wambaugh and Peter Benchley are masters of it. Of course, the elder
Benchley was a humorist!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d like to meet Stephen Spielberg. I’m as much of a kid at heart as
he is and would love to discuss young adult characterization in book and
movie plots with him.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I watch any documentary having to do with Bigfoot, UFOs,
cryptozoology, palaeontology, astronomy, archaeology, airline flight,
history, hauntings, the planets and the universe.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
For TV it has to be non-fiction and associated with the core
sciences—Nova, The History Channel, Hanger 18, Finding Bigfoot, Ancient
Aliens, Animal Planet and other informative shows. Crypto-science is
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favorite food is Chinese all the way! My color is ox blood. My
favourite music is movie soundtracks from some of my most favourite SF
and fantasy movies. I do like hard rock and roll, but I’ll relax with
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would tell stories in sign language and the spoken word.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I would write out a short synopsis of my history, seal it in a jar
and bury it under a rock. Maybe somebody would find it and say, “This
confirms it—these primitives were nuts.”
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
He came, he saw, he tried to conquer.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I’ve accumulated thousands of rejection slips, both email and hard mail, dating back at least 28 years. We writers agonize over just about every word in these little snippets of rejection death, attempting to decipher some type of meaningful logic out of these one or two-line zingers.
Scenario: So the editor has read about three or four pages and stopped. She is in problem territory already. She sees snags and there are a few that stand out over the rest which indicate specific problems, and the rejection usually begins with, “I’m afraid I wasn’t pulled into the story,” or “I couldn’t identify with the protagonist,” “the front bogged down,” or “after a few pages, I wasn’t compelled to read any further.” “too dialogue heavy,” “static opener,” “excessive sentence fragments,” Something to that tone, anyway. What we have here is a failure to communicate up front with that all important “hook.” A hook doesn’t have to make logical sense. It’s better left less obvious.
The hook is that mystical teaser, that pulls the reader into the story, and it usually begins on page one, and really never lets up unless it finally reveals but leads into another. You can craft a hook by using dialogue, action, narrative or even description, but the one thing it does is present a unique problem that is not answered immediately, or is a set of circumstances that confounds the reader, asking more questions that it’s answering. I think a really great hook uses deceit or misdirection. It presents a “What the hell’s going on here” in the reader’s mind, or a “why or how could this be happening?”
Setting a good hook, I later learned, is a crafting trick–a tactic. There’s nothing artistic about it. Just like a magician uses sleight of hand, so too does the writer create an unfathomable scenario that begs explanation and further reading. Of course, it’s wise to take the reader up to the confusion threshold but not beyond it, where incidents and plot seem even more disjointed. There must be a method to your madness, allowing the reader to glimpse that sliver of light at the end of the tunnel. Which means, little answer and a bit more tease.
I can pontificate all day long about how stunning and fast-paced my second and third acts are, but when I read and interpret those pesky rejection slips, the ones that hint at boring, tepid, stilted, stuffy first-page or fist-chapter passages, I know then that I’ve failed in capturing my reader’s attention–he/she will be reluctant to invest further reading time if I cannot make the mystery worth his/her time to solve. I’ve opened the story door and invited the reader to ride along, but they are inclined to pass and let me drive off without them if I haven’t grabbed their curiosity.
Thick back-story is a killer, as is puffed up prologues, heavy, multiple character descriptions (laundry listing), too many characters, uninspired dialogue, weather reports and heavy handed scenery that tries too hard to be literary or cinematic.
I can have a dynamite query letter, but the editor or agent won’t get past page five if I haven’t pulled them into the story and forced them to wonder or agonize about something.
The hook scene doesn’t have to be complicated. (First Page–First Paragraph)–Imagine average Joe Blow pulls over in a picturesque grove of trees, gets out of his car and lights up a cigarette. He’s on his way home but has a few minutes to kill. He happens to notice a church a few hundred yards away and the church parking lot is filled to capacity. The back of the church looks to be occupied with a reception area, filled with chairs, tables, colorful streamers and a small stage. But no one is out there celebrating, meaning that the festivities must still be under way inside. He crushes out his cig butt and happens to look up, being prompted by the sound of a twig snapping in the boughs of a large tree.
He sees a woman in a full sequined wedding dress, balanced precariously on a limb high up in the tree. The woman has a terrified look on her face; she is breathing hard and sweating profusely.
You’ve just set the hook. You don’t have to have this guy figure out exactly what she’s doing up there, but we have a pretty good idea. Or do we? We won’t really know until the writer let’s these two exchange dialogue. But we’re not going to do that either. Joe Blow has decided, against his better judgment, to help this woman out. Just by her demeanor, he knows something is way off the normalcy scale. She’s a runaway. He can sort it out later once he gets her in his car and down the road away from the church.
He drives off and they’re safe for now. When it comes time for her to confess her problem, she’s evasive and remains quiet. He slows the car down and then gets a phone call from his wife, wondering if they’re still on for their marriage counseling session that night. He can’t talk right now and hangs up. He slows down, looking for his pack of cigarettes that he’s lost, and he can’t get his seat belt up because it’s wedged in the closed door. She whines from the back seat and slips into a barrage of hacking sneezes, spraying phlegm all over his new upholstery. He also can’t see out of the rear view mirror because she’s got her head buried in the carpet and her pleated wedding dress has sprang up and blocked his view.
Now we have conflict, while still nothing has been resolved. And that’s what you’re doing–leading the reader along, who thinks he/she is on the main storyline highway, but are actually ending up hitting potholes and speed bumps. I think you get what I’m trying to say. Don’t be predictable. Don’t underestimate your reader. Shock and surprise. Don’t explain the reason for this scene.
How important is the hook? It is the most important page or pages of your entire manuscript, and that includes the query and/or synopsis. You’ve got one chance, one pair of editor/agent eyes to entice, to compel, to convince the reader to keep turning pages. Any lull or stoppage in the text is the mark of death, and it means your bait is inadequate, it stinks of age or it’s missing entirely.
Does your book really start on chapter 2? Then dump chapter 1. Is Chapter 1 a slough? Then cut and burn out everything that isn’t thrusting the plot forward or arousing conflict and asking new questions. Yeah, but Chris, you should read some of these dud first pages in these bestsellers; hardly grabbers. Let those brand name authors craft their books the way they see fit; they’re not hurting for readership and the fans know their style pretty well. Study some of the debut author’s works from some new books and see if you can’t find those subtle hooks, little red herrings–those attention grabbers that are starting to unravel things.
Another mile down the road, our driver’s phone rings again—it’s his counselor confirming their appointment for that evening. He can’t answer because the girl in the back has rolled down the window and pitched out her bridal train and veil onto the street. He cusses her for that action and tells her to get down. She starts insulting him. He steps on the gas and comes to a screeching halt in front of the police station, where he forces her door open and yanks on her legs, only to tear her nylons off.
“Halp! He’s trying to rape me!”
“You get out of this car right now.”
“I won’t let you kill me, you masher!” she wails for all the city to hear.
You get the idea. This can go on and on and escalate into a full scale donnybrook–clothes being torn, saps and batons flying until our two are handcuffed and shackled and led through the entrance door to precinct 11. His new car starts to burn from a lighted cigarette which fell between the seats. He tries to get away but assaults the arresting officer. Just make sure if you lock him up make sure that his prison stay has SOMETHING to do with the plot. Now, if you can’t stand the notion of pulling your first chapter because it’s a slug, do a flashback scene. Exchange a really interesting future chapter with chapter 1, and then sew up the transition between that pulled chapter and the next one. If you move your slug chapter to the chapter 2 position, cut it down and make it move faster. How do you write a flashback scene? Google it.
Second chances lead to new beginnings… sometimes, they lead to murder.
Seventeen-year-old Rose Jackson is a self-righteous, nature-loving
truth seeker whose rocky relationship with her mother, Doris Murphy, is
tested after Rose is court ordered to a youth house.
With six months
left before she goes in front of a judge for potential release, her
patience is tested between an in-house bully, her neglectful mother, and
an inappropriate therapist.
Fed up, Rose runs away before her court
date and settles in a town she randomly chose on a map.
Misinterpretation ensues as she falls for a town local, goes head to
head with a biker gang, and the unthinkable happens.
Can Rose succeed in finding the freedom she craves or will her determination cost her everything?
Rose Jackson has got a big problem, being institutionalized
in a youth house, filled with chaos, nasty counselors and a depraved therapist.
She’s worse off than inmate, and her drug-addicted mother had everything to do
with her landing in the hellhole. Although she’s just under eighteen, Rose is
not going to wait a minute longer and manages a covert escape into the freedom
she desperately craves, otherwise she’ll lose her sanity.
She hikes miles and miles with sparse belongings and little
money to land in a strange little town that she’s picked on a map. She finds
out real quick she’s a Philly city girl trapped in a wayward town of drunks,
misfits and bikers. She meets up with a biker prospect, Tucker, who takes her
under his wing. It just so happens that
when Tucker gets his colors, he has to surrender a gift to the biker boys. He
won’t have–she won’t have it–and they hike and ride for their lives.
Meanwhile, her mother, who has sobered up and kicked drugs is desperate to find
her daughter who escaped the youth house without her knowledge.
Consequences is a thriller, a coming of age story and a slow
burn romance all rolled up into one. It’s a relentless chase and survival
story, with harrowing scenes and tragedy. Rose is steadfast and courageous,
fighting back at every turn. You just have to root for her, and find out how
she’s going to get out of her next jam.
This was wonderfully written, the author using all five
senses to describe and paint stunning visuals. The characters are diverse and well
drawn. This was a page-turner and had some abrupt detours and spins. The young
adult voice was captured very naturally. I would recommend this to teens who
love frantic adventure, and adults who appreciate grownup themes. I think Ms
Darlene A. McGarrity has got a future in the YA category. This tome begs a
Darlene was born and raised in Philadelphia but now resides in Bucks County, PA. Nature fuels her bones along with the love of a rescued black cat, wonderful husband, and strong coffee. She has been writing seriously since 2006, despite starting back in 1997. Some of her favorite authors include Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Ann Rule, Edgar Allan Poe, and Chuck Wendig.
She uses music to adjust any mood for writing, for driving, and for life.
Hello fellow scribes. I’m now eligible for the EPIC FANTASY FANATICS READERS CHOICE AWARDS. I would be solely indebted for your one-click nomination for Screamcatcher. My team thinks we can pull a spot in this prestigious event. Please tell your friends to do likewise. Your nominations will get me into the quarter finals. from there on, the semi-finals will be in sight. We have about two hundred entries and each entry must stockpile 100 nominations to advance. I couldn’t tell you what this mean to me. I have a hoard of supporters who are intent on helping me out. I can’t thank you enough for your time and consideration. There’s no need to sign in or reveal any of your personal info. You click and you are out. Blessed be. Here’s the link:
There was no question why I wrote YA fiction in the first place. When I got into it, it was a thrilling, lucrative and expressive category. Harry Potter was dominating the charts. The Hunger Games appeared, along with Divergent and Twilight. Writing young adult fiction then was like being on s speeding freight train which had no brakes and a throttle that only went forward.
There are no estimates of how many writers jumped on that band wagon.
I remember my first real YA book, The Girl They Sold to the Moon. That tiny tome sold six times and took the first place grand prize in a YA novel writing contest, which was sponsored by a small publisher. That wasn’t the reason I wrote it. I wrote it because I loved the characters, not the atmosphere, world or environment. Yet again, something clicked inside me. I had a handle on something. I could talk teen. Not spectacularly, but well enough to pull the wool.
Let me get something out of the way before I continue: I have a non de plume for my young adult stories–Christy J. Breedlove. There’s no mystery in changing a name for a genre. But I changed my gender. J.K. Rowling’s agent told her to give herself a neutral author name because “boys are less likely to read books written by girls.” Hence, the J.K. initials. I just took it a step further.
I believe women can be trusted by other women to write with more emotional impact and feeling. Women don’t really have any problems reading the several male authors out there who excel in writing romance. However, women are less likely to read a romance crafted by a guy because it can’t quite reach inside them like one of their own. I hoped and prayed that if spontaneous buyers of my young adult books believed they were crafted by a gal (at first), it might go easier for me. Even men believe that gals can lay down a young adult story with more connection and honesty. I know I do. So, no gender bias meant at all. Only respect. (And no, I don’t think I’m fooling anyone 🙂
Back on track: The teenage years are restless and oft times reckless years. They are an era in life that explores change, hopes, failures, experimentation, rebellion and growth. Especially growth. Most fundamental truisms are picked up during these formative years–rules or guidelines for life. What appeals to me so much about this time of life is that it can be so unstable. It’s a time when tragic mistakes are made–emotional upheaval is magnified. To me, this gives me a sense of freedom in exploring some deep-felt topics. Unlike an adult that might be more prone to decorum and subtly, a teen might very well blunder into a situation, causing higher consequences and repercussions.
The exploration of the teen mind can offer a ton of latitude in subject matter–life, death, love, hatred, bullying, lawlessness, substance abuse, incest, pregnancy and even murder. The young, let’s face it, are resilient, forceful and courageous with their own convictions. They can take a hell of a lot of punishment, rebound and get their life’s compass back on direction in record time. Sometimes they fail, but the harder they fail, the harder they strive to crush the demons.
My guilty pleasure in writing for, or about teens, is my utter fascination with their nonconformity. Looking back upon my own kid-hood, I can glimpse my errors and snippets of absolute stupidity. This stupidity allows me cartloads of humor and irony in my writing. There is nothing quite like a couple of teens going at it verbally or physically, and in many cases, only to drive a point home. There’s nothing quite like a teen hitting you smack between the eyes with blunt-force honesty. They regularly deal with each other in absolute truth. No words minced. Compared to adults, teens act; there’s no lolly gagging. We do have the quiet, shy and retiring types, but those are exceptions, to what I think is the overall demeanor.
In an action/adventure tale, or a post-apocalyptic story, I can bring teens to the edge of death several times and have them ultimately survive. Physiologically, younger adults are more fit than adults. Have you ever seen a walking antibiotic? They can suffer and endure much more abuse than an older person. I have been known to take advantage of this fact time and time again. Youth–strength–indestructibility.
I think teen fiction offers higher stakes, loftier emotions and grander outcomes. Nowhere is YA fiction better told than in the hands of the teenagers themselves. The young set has a finger directly on the pulse of their own lifestyles. They don’t have to guess or research what they would do in any given circumstances–they know exactly the ways in which they would handle it, along with their own cultural oddities that so confuse the adults. Teens have a language all their own. You need a decoder ring to understand it. Look at their text messages–you need a cypher to crack them! Trust me, teens are not of this Earth!
As a person in my sixties, I cannot understand why I feel I was chosen to write young adult tales. Those years were some of the fondest times of my life. I don’t look back upon them with disdain. Albeit, there were many cringe-worth times. There were stage plays and scenes of stark terror. But I remember them with an awestruck gusto, a bewildering time of adventure and exploration. My over-the-top emotional writing style seems to fit right into the plots and characters. I’m always learning, because there are so many writers out there, both young and old, who are masters at expressing the teen world.
I’m only along for the ride.
I have a lot of reviews that are about to come in for this latest book. The trickle has started. So far everything seems beyond expectations. Yet, all of these reviewers seem to be teen or twenty-something women. I can just about guarantee that if I’ve got something wrong in the text, it’s apt to be flagged. And I welcome that. It just means that I get to learn more secrets.
Christy/Chris–red-shifting outta here.
(BTW, blue shift means to come toward you. Red-shift means leaving or going away from you).
I’ve known for a long time what
fan-fic is and what it’s not. I know what channeling is too. And we know
what plagiarism is all about. Fan-fiction is an honored tradition of
carrying on a single book, series or saga with well-known and loved
characters in a similar setting to the original. 50 Shades of Grey
actually started out as Twilight fan-fiction, and then developed a life
of its own. Channeling happens when you’ve written something very
similar to a book or story that has already been published. Channeling
can happen unconsciously, an innocent retelling of a story that is dear
to the author, with many of its aspects reappearing in the second
version. Some say there is deliberate type of channeling, kind of a
preemptive mini-theft of material. But that’s splitting hairs.
Plagiarism is just outright theft of material.
But what if you have written a story
that bears a remarkable resemblance to something already out there? When
I say remarkable, I mean surreal or uncanny. A likeness that can make
you uncomfortable. Because how in the Chuck Dickens could you ever
explain yourself? My Planet Janitor was compared to Firefly, and I had
no problem taking that it stride. I knew nothing about Firefly and it’s
characters until I later investigated.
Now it seems I have another, more
intricate doppelganger. On three different occasions over the past years
my characters in Screamcatcher, Jory Pike and Choice Daniels have been
called all but dead ringers for Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. For
the sake of chronology, my book was written in later days of October in
2011, It was just recently published on 4-23-2019. It took so long to
see print because my agent suggested I make a trilogy out of it. It
bombed out at the Big 5, but was offered contracts by 10 small presses
within a 12 month period. We took Melange Books because they were so
lenient and adaptable to our contract conditions.
The first Hunger Games book was published in 2008, then another in 2009 and the last one in 2010
The third time I was told about my
book’s similarities to the characters in The Hunger Games was early
2018. I didn’t know who Suzanne Collins was, but I had heard of the
enormous success of her trilogy. I’d only heard she was a TV exec or
something, and that her series was pulling second rank just under Harry
Potter, or had been doing so for a long time. I decided to investigate.
Curiosity drove me to it, even though I was so dang busy with my own
books and editing at that time.
I read the books first, then watched the movie series on a free channel.
It smacked me right between the eyes.
The last thing I wanted was to be compared to The Hunger Games. I had an
oh joy! moment. Then I had a feeling of utter dread. Not only was
Katniss unbelievably close, but I’d written Peeta, and his association
wtth Katness, too.
Jory’s similarities to Katniss.
Both are young teenagers, separated by a few years.
Both have Olive skin.(Jory is of Native America lineage)
Both have straight black hair (sometimes braided)
Both are graceful and surefooted.
Both are attractive
Both are expert archers, with lightning fast reflexes
Both are unassuming and avoid the spotlight.
Both are independent, solitary but reluctant leaders.
Both have top-notch survival skills, knowledge of plants and animals
Both are avid hunters
Jory has a long bow, whereas Katniss has a high-tech composite compound bow.
Both have great intuitive senses.
Jory does have brown eyes, opposed to grey eyes and she is tall and lanky unlike the smaller Katniss
Choice and Peeta
Stocky, a bit muscular.
Same length hair, different color
Nearly same age
Choice’s attraction to Jory is intense
but very subdued. He has a hard time not showing his attraction to her,
and when he does he is rather embarrassed, sometimes internally
infuriated.Jory is indifferent to him, not really in-like or in love.
She’s not above using him to achieve gains. Her eventual commitment and
love for him is a very slow romantic burn that culminates in their bond
at the end of series story-line
My web world strings are called
sectors, whereas in THG the state or territory divisions are called
districts. Each sector has a deathly challenge–a true life or death
trial before they can continue to the next sector. Likewise in THG they
must advance to the next task or challenge.
I could go on and on, because it just
doesn’t stop. However, there are vast differences that keep these two
stories from clashing into each other. I’m floored by how well THG was
crafted, both in print and in video. It was truly one of the best books
and movies I have every seen. I could never measure up to such standards
as Suzanne’s craftsmanship. I can only say we were thinking about the
same FMC and saw a place for her in her own tome. Katnes HAS to be
fondly loved by Suzanne. I’m proud to have brought Jory to life.
Has this ever happened to you, dear
writer? Deja vu anyone? Could you swear that somebody else has ripped
off your plot or characters? Or have you ever felt despair and felt like
slashing your wrists because somebody beat you to the punch? Stephen
King had a “Oh, damn it to hell!” moment when he heard the Simpsons had
done a domed city story. Yet he raced on with his own story and it was
Am I going to compare my book to THG?
Nope. The reviewers can do whatever they want. Besides, I like my
premise BETTER. Bwahahahahahaha!
There really is no conflict between
these two sub-genres. There is a difference, even if we’re splitting
hairs. Charles De Lint first described urban fantasy with his story
Dreams Underfoot in the early 90s, making it a relatively new genre, in
retrospect to the times. In short, urban fantasy brings the fantastical
into the mundane world or into the contemporary setting. It’s another
dimension, another time and place, a different universe with it’s own
rules. The magical invades our world, not the other way around. That’s
the more precise definition. Examples might be well associated with the
book,The Mortal Instruments. Writers like Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim
Butcher, Neil Gaimen, Deborah Harkness and Anita Blake’s Vampire Hunter
are prime examples of this sub-genre of fantasy. I think the important
thing to remember is that in an urban fantasy setting, their world
invades ours. Something crosses over and materializes. Sometimes this
transformation happens with our knowledge, but many times it
materializes unbeknownst to us.
They say (who’s they anyway?) that
urban fantasy is a Mixxmaster, mashup of science fiction, horror, dark
fantasy, paranormal and magic realism where they all come together in a
melting pot. Fair enough. What a mongrel, wot?
Portal fantasy. It’s also been termed
“low” fantasy. But who in the heck uses those terms to describe their
work to publishers, editors or the reading public? You don’t see it do
you? My agent had no idea what I was talking about when referencing my
works as such. She agreed that it might be a unique way to describe a
fantasy sub-genre to a potential purchaser. My publisher blinked upon
hearing the term, but did admit that she’d heard before. She confessed
that it was doubtful that using the term might sway any reader
decisions, or for that matter, having Amazon recognize it as a mainstay
genre. Amazon is lazy–they fall back on urban.
So what’s a portal fantasy? It is our
intrusion into another world, be it deliberately or accidentally. We’ll
split hairs latter, but for now, think about Neil’s Stardust. Where is
the gateway or the portal? Why, it’s across the stone fence, isn’t it?
Things become fantastic, abnormal, magical on the other side. Our world
has not changed, it is still a contemporary setting. The magical land
did not come from Them over to our side–we explored or blundered into
it–we trespassed, so to speak
Some classic examples of true portal
fantasies: Harry Potter: now what is platform 9 3/4 if it is not a
portal, opening or gateway into another land and realm? There are even
portals within portals in Harry Potter. Some will disagree with me on
that. Alice in Wonderland: don’t we have a mirror or rabbit hole?
There’s your gateway. The Bridge to Terabithia: step across that bridge
and you’re in a world of make believe. Hook: Isn’t it the second start
on the right that opens up into a sf-ish type planet/land? The Lion, the
Witch and the Wardrobe: step through a closet and we’re in Narnia. I
can actually remember a Twilight Zone episode where a character marks
off a section of wall to define a mysterious entrance into another world
(De Lint, you might have been a little late in discovering
it).Coraline: doesn’t Coraline step through a secret door to enter
another dimensional frontier?
How can Harry Potter split hairs on
these two? Well, Harry travels back and forth from his world to
Hogwarts, doesn’t he? He’s not a muggle, nor was he ever a muggle. He’s a
wizard in training. So when he comes back into his contemporary
setting, he brings with him some special talents that are defined as
magic. Therefore, to some degree, he impacts his real world, changing it
every so slightly as his years in school progress. The Matrix could be
consider a double whammy–we go in and pull things back with us. Stephen
King’s The Mist, is an example of our military opening up a forbidden
gate (portal), and then suffering the consequences when the beast of
that other world come barging in on our modern day setting.
Weird Science: We opened a dimension,
and she steps through. Opposite affect here–we opened up the portal,
but something came through it.
Tron: We trespassed. Portal.
Screamcatcher: The kids sleep under a
decrepit, malicious dream catcher, and it implodes, pulling them into
IT’s world. It appears at first that their real world has turned into
something strange and dangerous. However, it’s not really their
world–it’s a separate entity upon itself. The rules of the world are
governed by the Web and what it contains within it.
Kind of fun exploring these things. No
harm done. No segregation. But I’m going to describe my trilogy as
portal fantasies. Just you wait for the last book in the series called
The Shimmering Eye. It was based on the true life scientific
investigations of the Skinwalker Ranch, as reported by George Knapp,
investigative reporter out of Las Vegas. I’ll need a new genre for it!