THE AWARDS CONTEST IS HERE!

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:

https://epicfantasyfanatics.com/screamcatcher-christy-j-breedlove/?fbclid=IwAR1YbLzoK7rBsjWJEdbwCd-Ighd1FVHBZS_KBrTfdSgENDXv4zVQTaU57sw

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The Mysterious Teenage Hominid

 Writing For Teens:

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). 

Fan-Fiction Without Knowing It?

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

Average height
Stocky, a bit muscular.
Same length hair, different color
Nearly same age
Loyal
Courageous 
Athletic

Attraction:

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 well received. 

Am I going to compare my book to THG? Nope. The reviewers can do whatever they want. Besides, I like my premise BETTER. Bwahahahahahaha!

Portal v.s. Urban Fantasy–It’s War!

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!

Red-shifting. 

Screamcatcher Reviews

Screamcatcher: Web World by Christy J Breedlove

April 23, 2019

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Screamcatcher: Web World

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My Rating: 4/5 stars


About the book:

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. Have they gone to hell? They must search for the light, the center of the web, the opening where all good things are allowed to pass. Their survival depends upon it.

My Review:

In a never before plot, our main characters get stuck in a living nightmare through an ancient dreamcatcher. Jory has recurring nightmares about her parent’s death and no matter what she does or what her grandfather does to stop these bad dreams, nothing seems to be working.

The book is entangled with Indian lore so when Jory’s friend Choice wants to give this old family heirloom (a dreamcatcher) a chance, there’s no point in avoiding it. But things go south when Jory and her friends go to sleep in Jory’s house but wake up in a hellish world.

Plot:

I loved the plot. It was so unique and fast-paced. After every chapter, I was waiting for new twists and turns, just expecting to read what new amazing instance the author’s imagination could conjure up this time. I especially liked the second half of the book. It was definitely more action-packed than the first half.

Characters:

There is just some wrong vibe I got from Choice. Every time I would read about him, I’d find more and more reasons not to like him. But Jory turned out to be the most likeable character in the book despite everything. I liked the presence of her grandfather in the book as well.

Writing:

The writing was the most interesting part of the book and though I liked the world-building and the characters as well, the book would have been nothing without great writing. The dialogues were well-managed and the prose described the emotions of the characters perfectly. Plus, this book was quite easy to read and I could picture all the scenes as if they were playing out like a movie.

Climax:

Ah, the endings are often something that leads to disappointment. And even in this book, it was somehow the same case. I found the ending to be a little predictable and though there is nothing particularly wrong with that, I just really think there was scope for a major mind-blowing twist at the end.

About the author: Christy J. Breedlove, originally born in California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009. Her occupations have included newspaper editor/reporter, astronomer, federal police officer and part time surfer girl. She has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today she writes in her favorite genre, Young Adult. She was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, and just recently took the first place grand prize in a YA novel writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moon. She writes the popular blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing Christy’s Website|  BlogFacebook | Twitter

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Young Adult Series Blockbusters

I swear and, as God is my witness, I had a terrible prejudice against anyone who wrote a series, or planned to write one before their first book was even picked up. I laughed at anyone who wrote a complete series and had no agent to push it. Back in the day, series books weren’t as popular as they are now. Today, it’s almost a given that large independents and big publishers love to sell a series. Two-book, trilogies and large series packages are more popular than EVER. Multiple books are actually favored by publishers–it seems to be the advantageous way to hook  readers, build a fan base, and at the same time launch a debut author. If you’ve written a standalone today, chances are excellent that you will be asked to follow it up with a sequel or more books that belong to a series–your special universe. I was left in the dust, from my own account, all those years ago, up until fairly recently.


So, I want to formally APOLOGIZE for my narrow view and ridiculous exclamations.


I completed the first book, edited  it with my agent, and put it out on submission. Multiple offers for it came in rather quickly. A lot of offers. My agent thought we really had something and ask if I was up to writing sequels. I said that I would give it a shot and did. But I was nervous. Meanwhile my agent would hold off the buyers.

I can’t tell you what kind of hard work this project cost me. It was a mountain of writing, revising, editing and titling.I was hesitant every step of the way, wondering if all of this effort could possibly pay off. Then I realized, what did I really have to lose? I’d made them stand-alones, with only slight references to each other that could be removed very easily. So I just about guaranteed myself a possible sale–somewhere–even if it was small press. When the work was done, I was satisfied, and so was my agent.

The whole package sold to Melange Press, the young adult Fire & Ice division.

I can remember J.K. Rowling penning (starting) Chamber of Secrets before her first book was picked up. Now that’s MOXIE! Or call it blind faith. Not only that, it was her intention to write seven books! Look what happened to Twilight, Hunger Games, Wool, Divergent–they went on to success–becoming huge breakouts. 

Now that my YA trilogy is over, I mourn it. I miss my characters. Terribly so. I can’t believe that I did this, stepping up to the plate and accomplishing my most difficult writing project ever. They’re little books. They’re a family. And it just so happens that the first in the series, Screamcatcher: Web World, just went on sale two minutes ago as of this writing. The two remaining books are subtitled Dream Chasers and The Shimmering Eye. If you like teenage paranormal investigators, this just might be your cup of tea. Enjoy!

My Bio

Christy J. Breedlove, originally born in California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009. Her occupations have included newspaper editor/reporter, astronomer, federal police officer and part time surfer girl. She has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today she writes in her favorite genre, Young Adult. She was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, and just recently took the first place grand prize in a YA novel writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moon. She writes the popular blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing