Happy book birthday to The Trouble with Werewolves! For a short story, it certainly took me a long time to get this one out into the world. I think a lot of the reasoning was because I wasn’t completely done with the series and wanted to hold off. I’m still not done (the 3rd book is nearing completion but has a ways to go yet) but I figured if I published then it would push me to get it done.
I really enjoyed writing this story, I think because Ellie’s a tough chick but with a definitely vulnerable side to her. She’s had an interesting upbringing but still wanted to be “normal”. Like most teens, she is trying to find herself, love, and a great pair of jeans to highlight her ass…ets.
I hope you enjoy her antics as much as I enjoyed writing about them!
Ellie Weston may look like a blonde Barbie wanna-be, but call by her full name of Elvira and you’ll find she can take you down with nothing more than a paperclip and a hair tie. Having been raised by an ancient vampire, a faerie and a demon hardly makes her a normal teen. She’s trained in self-defense, with a bit of magic thrown in, but those talents are going to waste as she picks up dry cleaning, walks three-headed dogs and collects grave dust by the light of the full moon.
Her job as an errand girl to the undead–and other paranormal creatures–has kept her busy and relatively safe, until she receives a job to hunt down a rogue werewolf who is brutally butchering norms in her father’s territory. As she tries to track down the bloodthirsty beast, she finds the clues aren’t quite adding up. Will her wiles be enough to keep her safe and solve the mystery, or will she become the next victim of these ghastly crimes?
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Nook: pending (check back!)
When a book is banned and not allowed in schools or even the library, it can make the avid reader even more eager to hunt down a copy for themselves to see what all the hype is about. In this day and age, it’s very easy for many to get their hands on those books, whether it’s e-books that can be borrowed or purchased online or physical copies that can be picked up at the local book store. Personally, there was only one book my mother forbid me to read, Flowers in the Attic. I found a copy for 10 cents at a yard sale (sans the cover…) which I picked up and read without my folks ever knowing. At the time, I didn’t see what the big deal was. Sure there was some adult themes: incest, murder, etc.but I understood it was just fiction and not a real story. As an adult I can see why my mother found it so awful. How could a mother, fictional or not, do such an awful thing to her kids?
Adults can see topics in a different light than someone who is younger. While they might see Harry Potter as promoting witchcraft, a teen reader sees a coming of age, fantastical story that just happens to include some cool magic stuff. While they might wish they could be like Harry, I doubt they’re running out looking for their own owls and books on how to become a wizard.
I do think it’s important to know what your kids are reading and if the themes are currently too mature for them, but to broadly ban books is only going to push the avid reader to find some way to get their hands on it. In the day and age of internet, video games and phones that do just about anything, be happy your child/teen is still picking up books and wants to throw themselves into worlds they have to imagine on their own.
What are your thoughts on banned books?
Everyone can write, if they triy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be good, something that others will enjoy reading. There are plenty of ways to improve, from daily writing and using prompts to listening to constructive criticism and being willing to edit.
I firmly stand behind the idea that one needs to read in order to write well and I’m not just talking “How To” books, although those are helpful too. I can’t tell you how many pieces of writing I’ve seen in crit groups that don’t have proper dialog, thought or flashback formatting, that have stilted dialog with outdated or too old for the character vocabulary, that don’t know how to keep the plot flowing or how to build the tension to the climax.
Reading books in the genre in which you write can be helpful to teach you how to handle formatting and how to better build a world or well rounded characters. Not only will reading help your writing, but it will show you what’s trending in your genre at the moment and the kinds of topics publishers are picking up (although that’s not to say you need to follow the trend because by the time you publish, the trend could have changed.)
I’d have to say I’m not sure I’d trust someone who claimed to be a writer and then told me they don’t read. To me that would signify that the person was more a hobbyist who writes for fun but isn’t really looking to improve upon themselves to hone their craft. There’s nothing wrong with that if they’re just writing for enjoyment, but if they’re looking to publish, gently point them in the direction of your local library and tell them to get readin’!
Do you think reading is an important aspect to writing? Why or why not?
There’s lots of talk about feeding body and soul, about being healthy and putting the right stuff in to get good stuff out, but what about feeding the brain? There have been studies to say that keeping an active mind helps one to keep sharp as they age. There are even websites like Lumosity that use games to help keep the brain working.
In 2013, Huffington Post had an article stating that a survey was presented to 1,000 adults and the results show that 28% of the population had not read a book in the past year. Another 25% only read between 1 and 5 books in the previous year. Only 8% stated they had read over 50 books in the past year.
Now I understand people are busy and not a whole lot of us have the time for 50 books in a year (ahh I miss my years of reading between 150-200 books a year…). I get TV watching is relaxing and easier for most. I’m no stranger to couch potato ways and I’m quite familiar with binge watching shows on Netflix (although I pride myself in not getting one of those “You’ve been watching for X amt of hours, are you okay?” messages…). While you can certainly learn things from television, especially if you’re watching an educational kind of show (Shark Week, anyone?) reading will work a different part of the brain.
Have you ever been excited to see one of your favorite books is being turned into a movie, but then are disappointed with the outcome? That main character looks nothing like you imagined. That town? You expected it to look more desolate and rundown. Why? Because when you read the book your brain took the author’s words and worked up an image in your mind about what those characters looked like and how that town was depicted. Your image may not exactly mirror the one the author had in mind, but that’s okay. The perk of reading is that you get to visit and visualize new worlds and people in your own way. You are using your imagination, something that many seem to forget they have once they enter the Tween years. To be imaginative is not a downfall. It’s not childish or immature. It’s creative, artistic, and good for the mind, body and soul.
Reading not only feeds your brain but gives you things to discuss and debate with other likeminded folks. It can help you turn a non-reader onto something amazing. It can inspire you to create art, fan fiction and all sorts of other projects based on the world you step into when you flip through those pages.
Newspaper and magazine articles and non-fiction books certainly feed your brain as well, but fiction allows for the imagination to spark and grow ideas and images to accompany an author’s story. If you’re going to be health conscious, be sure to feed all aspects of the body, including the all important brain!
How many books do your feed your brain with in a year?
For those that don’t know, my degree is not in English, but Comparative Literature and Languages. I read a good deal of world literature and found similarities and differences in style, characters, etc. (see my senior essay on how Russian lit influenced modern Japanese lit here!). I was recently discussing my degree with someone and it got me thinking that I don’t read a whole lot of works by non-American authors these days (unless I don’t realize they’re not American. Maybe I’m naively assuming they’re all American!).
I tried to do some Googling of best selling non-American YA authors but not a whole lot comes up. I found this list which has the very obvious JK Rowling and Cornelia Funk but I don’t recognize a lot of the other authors and some of the titles are very dated and strike me as odd to be considered YA (Crime and Punishment?!).
I know a lot of American titles make it across the Pond and onto Europe but I’m curious if they make it over to the Middle East and Asian countries as well. Do we get their work translated here as well? I think an influx of stories dealing with teens in different cultures could really be beneficial to young readers, especially in helping to banish racism and coming to learn that different doesn’t mean bad. I know there is a push in American YA lit for characters of color and minorities but I’d love to see the stories actually coming from different cultures where the authors have first hand accounts of the lifestyles, rituals and taboos there.
With a little more Google-fu, I found some other lists and articles that I will definitely be checking out!
Different but worthwhile foreign YA fiction translated to English
The Power of Foreign Young Adult Literature
Do you have a favorite non-American YA author? What are some of your favorite foreign stories?