Isla and her brother are two young foxes living just outside the lands of the furless — humans. The life of a fox is filled with dangers, but Isla has begun to learn mysterious skills meant to help her survive.
Then the unthinkable happens. Returning to her den, Isla finds it set ablaze and surrounded by strange foxes, and her family is nowhere in sight. Forced to flee, she escapes into the cold, gray world of the furless.
Now Isla must navigate this bewildering and deadly terrain, all while being hunted by a ruthless enemy. In order to survive, she will need to master the ancient arts of her kind — magical gifts of cunning known only to foxes. She must unravel the secrets of foxcraft.
The Foxcraft Trilogy is a middle-grade animal fantasy inspired by the renowned cunning of foxes. It’s perfect for fans of the Warriors series, the Wings of Fire series, the Redwall saga, or Wolves of the Beyond series, as well as anyone who just loves animal stories in general.
This series has been one of my favorites since I first read The Taken in fifth grade. Whenever this time of year comes around, I always revisit the gorgeously immersive world Iserles weaves with this trilogy. As a lover of animal fantasy, it didn’t take much to make me fall in love with this concept and this series.
The characters were wonderful. Isla is young and impetuous, but it’s such an adventure to see her grow throughout the course of this book. Her memories with Pirie are so sweet and I love sibling relationships, especially brother-sister relationships, so naturally I adored that part of the book. But by far the best character is Siffrin. Siffrin captured my heart from page one (okay, not actually. it took some time, but he grows on you). He may be cocky and arrogant, but he won’t be as much by the time we reach the end of the book. 😉
The plot was engaging and not too complicated, though there were plenty of obstacles to keep us reading. (Note: It does end in a cliffhanger, and Isla does not find Pirie at the end of the book.) The ending drove me fairly insane trying to wait for the next book.
The worldbuilding was absolutely enchanting. Iserles describes her world with vivid imagery, in a beautifully real but dreamy way. I love how she incorporates belief systems into the different types of canines (dogs loyal to man, coyotes worship the sun and moon, wolves revere their ancestors, and foxes… are atheist. apparently).
Content warnings: some violence, since these are animals with canine instincts. However, it’s middle-grade, so there’s not much left to say there. Other than that, the only concern you might have is the fantasy magic aspect. The entire concept is treated as a natural enhancement of a fox’s cunning, though, so it’s more friendly than, say, Wings of Fire or Harry Potter.
All in all, five stars. Recommended for ages 9 and up.
My apologies for the late post; time and schedule got really slippery today! Hope you find this review helpful and maybe take a look at the book, especially if you’re into middle grade. Even young adult readers would enjoy this.
Every single person you pass on the street will view the world differently. One person will think that Mother Nature is the heart and soul of it all, another man may think the world is corrupt and hopeless. It all depends on their personality, upbringing, and essentially, world view.
So when it comes to reading or writing, a large portion of your personality affects what the characters do or say, the overall plot, and the tone you’re giving.
Today I hope to take a small part of your time and explain my thought process here.
First of all, let’s use an example.
Timothy is a young man who grew up with loving parents, lots of friends, and a bright future. He’s mentally healthy and part of a successful business. Timothy is engaged to the women of his dreams and hopes to get married next year. He’s living his best life.
Then there’s Morian. Morian grew up with a single parent who was working to hard to pay attention to her daughter. She’s used to be neglected and was kicked out of the house at 16. Morian is now renting a small studio apartment with two other people. She’s living her worst nightmare.
Now these examples may seem like excuses for me to create new characters (that may be partly true) but they’re mostly part of the experiment.
Because Timothy has had such a good life, he’s prone to be a optimist and generally happy person. But Morian on the other hand hasn’t had it so well off and is depressed and thinks life sucks.
Think about it. If you are depressed, what kind of book would you most likely hate? Romance? A self-help living-my-best-life book? Or would you hate the books where all the characters are sad and there’s no light?
I may be going out on a limb here, but I’ll assume a majority of depressed people don’t want to read a book that reminds them of everything they don’t have.
And Timothy. Well, Timothy will read anything that keeps him happy, upbeat, and in a good mood. So the opposite of what Morian would chose. A good action novel, maybe a steamy contemporary, or a good old classic.
Writing wise, I can imagine a depressed person to write depressing poetry, pouring their thoughts onto the lined page. And a well-off person like Timothy might write a book with the promise of hope and a better future as the end goal.
And by now I’ve probably bored you all with my confusing thoughts, so here’s the point.
We as Christians have a different worldview than others. We see the world as a sinful place dripping with evil. But we also see the light of Jesus and the hope He offers. So I would imagine that that would have an effect on what we read and write.
I won’t feel good morally reading a sexy romantic book that you find all over supermarkets. I will cringe if there was swear words every three sentences. And I would stop reading if immoral things were happening on each or even a few pages.
I like to think Christians would act the same as me, but I honestly don’t know.
The same goes for writing. As a writer and Christian, I like to keep my writing clean, with no make-out sessions or other immoral things. As Christians it’s our duty to spread the word of God, and writing is one way to do it.
So if you read a book that was trashy, dirty, and all around awful and found out the author was a Christian, I don’t believe you’d be touched by the message it gave, if it actually provided one. All I’m trying to say is, as a Christian our upbringing should influence how we read and write. Hopefully through our actions we can influence others.
I’m not sure if you could follow that, but I hope so. Have an awesome day and don’t forget to remember the soldiers who fought for your freedom.
Hello dear readers! I am currently in the depths of NaNoWriMo, and have hit a bit of a wall, so today I’m sharing a few techniques that I use to help get past writers block!
#1 – Create a New Character
Planners are currently plotting my demise, but trust me on this one. I used this technique already this NaNoWriMo and it gave me a ton of ideas! The trick is this: don’t let it distract you. Many people, myself included, can spend days creating character profiles and Pinterest boards for characters. Even picking out a name can seem like a daunting task.
Remember this: it’s only a side character. Unless you decide to create a whole new main character, which an option, but I might put that one off for a bit if you are currently doing NaNo.
If they’re a side character, then they don’t need their whole life planned out, only the parts that directly affect the story. And you can discover that by simply writing.
Say that you have an idea that you want to include a pirate character in your novel. If spending time looking up names will distract you, simply call him “Captain” for now and add his name in later. Unless he isn’t the captain, then use a different stand in. Now, if he is a pirate you are going to have to figure out how to get your character’s into his territory. If your story already takes place on the high seas, then perhaps all you need is a storm to toss their ship in the right direction. If your story takes place on land, then write about a reason your characters need to travel out into the unknown, how they find a boat, and the like. Boom – word count.
Try to be a little spontaneous with it, even if you are a hardcore planner, because sometimes the best ideas come when you aren’t expecting them.
#2 – Dialogue Prompts
I don’t know if you often use prompts, but sometimes they are just what you need to get your story moving again. Once you have an idea of your main characters, you can usually have an idea in you head as to which ones say which pieces of the dialogue.
But, you may be thinking, that dialogue prompts are too conventional, and that there’s only a couple of ways to incorporate any one prompt into a story. But what if I told you something that opens up a world of new conflict creating possibility? They can lie.
Let’s start with an example:
“I’m new here, but I’m pretty sure that’s not an expression of gratitude.” He said.
“Actually, it is.”
Now, if you used this prompt, especially if it already fit into your story, the most it would get you was a bit of surprise from your main character (assuming the main character is the one who said the first line, and for this example let’s pretend that’s the case) and then the story would continue on. However, if you make it lie, there are several more possibilities. Perhaps the second person speaking is the main character’s royal advisor. Maybe the main character is an inexperienced prince. Maybe the advisor actually wants to take the throne from the naive prince and so he is trying to sabotage him. That sounds like a whole lot of conflict to me.
Or maybe the main character is a young man that fell into a world that he doesn’t understand, and maybe the second person speaking is his guide. Perhaps this guide is a young woman, and there is a hate-to-love romance building. Maybe this is her way of getting the young man kicked out of the world he is in. Again, more conflict.
Now, not all prompts will work like this, and maybe just using a dialogue prompt without adding the lying portion works better for you. That’s great, do whatever gets your gears turning on your story.
#3 – Go Back to the Beginning
This doesn’t mean to go back and rewrite the first part of your story, although you can do that if you want to. This means go back to when you first had the idea for your story. What made you so excited to write it in the first place?
Often we can get caught up in the word counts and the side quests and the subplots that we can lose sight of what made us want to write the story in the first place.
If you took notes when you first had the idea, go back and read them. If you didn’t take notes, think back to the moment you had the idea. What made it special to you? Is there something you wanted to write when you thought of the story that hasn’t yet made it in to your manuscript? Write it! Even if it takes moving some of the plot around, write what you want to write. It makes the whole process so much more enjoyable.
Thanks for reading! I hope that these tips and tricks can help you get through Writers Block and write the story that you want the world to see.
Are you guys doing NaNoWriMo? Tell me how its going! If you aren’t, is there another writing project that you have been putting off because of Writers Block? I encourage you to pick it up again!
Greetings! Somehow it’s already November, and before we know it winter will be here. That means it’s time to cram in some last fall reads before Christmas takes over everything. (Thanksgiving gets overlooked a lot, don’t ya think?) Some of these are series and others are stand alones.
1. Lockwood & Co.
If you follow my personal blog, you would know how much I adore this series. It’s about a group of teenagers who work together to fight against the ghostly epidemic that has plagued their alternate-England, one ghost at a time (or sometimes more of they use their handy magnesium flares or Greek Fire).
This series always gives me cozy fall vibes. There’s lots of tea, sweaters, and chilling adventures with the amazing Lucy, Lockwood, and George. And let’s not forget Stroud’s atmospheric writing style. *Sighs contentedly* Rereading these books makes me feel like going to visit close friends.
Today is actually Guy Fawkes day! Which makes it the perfect time to read Nadine Brandes’s magical retelling of the gunpowder plot, told from the perspective of Thomas, the son of Guy Fawkes.
This story is absolutely enchanting and is such a cozy read. I read it last winter and I can’t wait to reread it soon. Once again, this takes place in an alternate-England… Can you tell I love England? XD
I’m pretty sure this takes place in fall, but I’m not sure? It reminded me of fall… maybe because of the whole pumpkin aspect of the plot.
Heartless is a retelling by Marissa Meyer. The story follows the Queen of Hearts and shows how she became who she is. This story was amazing and sad and precious all at once. Also: Cath, aka the future Queen of Hearts, is an aspiring baker. How cool is that?
4. In 27 Days
If you’re a contemporary fan, this one is for you! I have no words to describe this book. It’s sad, but also happy and hopeful and sweet and thrilling and wholesome. XD I devoured this book twice in the same month. Once you start reading, I can guarantee it’ll be impossible to put it down. This book is powerful and deep and more people need to read it!!
Oh yeah, this also takes place in the fall. It includes a cozy coffee shop, delicious hot cocoa, and a crazy and vibrant thanksgiving dinner with a huge extended family. 😃
I hope you decide to give something on this list a try! All of these books have a special place in my heart, and maybe they’ll end up becoming some of your favorites, too. ❤️ Have a lovely day and enjoy the rest of this fall!
One of my favorite parts about reading is that moment when I realize how everything ties in together. You know when the protagonist is plodding happily through the story, minding his own business, when something seemingly unimportant happens to him that you couldn’t care less about. Then, later on near the climax, the author unveils the truth with a dramatic flourish, and ta-da!
You go, “How did I not see that coming? That made no sense and now it makes so much sense! This author is a mad genius!”
Even if you’re not a big fan of mystery or other plot-twisty genres, you still want to give the readers something unexpected. You want to show the readers that you knew what you were doing, and you can do it well. You want to bring the fresh and the unexpected to a world full of same old, same old. You want to write that story.
You want to write a story that makes sense.
You want to write a story that doesn’t compel you to keep track of a million unconnected tracks.
You want to write a story in which everything that happens matters. Because in any good book, not only do the individual events happen all for a reason, but these reasons flow together into a story… behind your story.
And here are some good ways to make that happen.
your key to success: foreshadowing
Every writer knows what foreshadowing is. And every good writer should know how to implement that into his or her story.
The dictionary defines foreshadowing as to show or indicate beforehand; prefigure. Basically, foreshadowing is like dropping extremely subtle hints along the path that leads to the twist to which the author alludes. If done right, your reader will have no idea that you were foreshadowing until the big reveal hits them, and then they’ll realize it with a bang.
This post is not about foreshadowing. In deliberately foreshadowing, you’re usually looking for the hints that will prepare your readers for an unexpected outcome without giving it all away. This post is about taking what you have and adding little tweaks to the tiniest details of your story, making them all point toward the big reveal– in short, also deliberate foreshadowing, but by weaving together all the loose ends instead of adding more thread.
the useless… made useful
Our protagonist, Sam, is in trouble. He’s trying to flee from the dungeons of the mad King Bob after being falsely accused of treason. The main plot of the story is Sam’s fleeing for his life, but along the way he runs into a turkey farmer named Enoch.
A secondary plotline forms. Enoch is angry that a team of rogue scientists have stolen all his turkeys for some kind of genetic experiment. But the experiment has backfired, and the turkeys escaped, and now there are hordes of mutant robot-turkeys tearing through the flying island kingdom of Stoblegnome, which is not at all a very pleasant situation.
After Enoch saves his life, Sam swears upon his honor as a Stoblegnomian to pay him back. In doing so, he agrees to help Enoch root out the scientists’ secret headquarters and figuring out a way to destroy their lab of evil science.
Right now, it appears that this subplot has nothing whatsoever to do with the main storyline– and if it continues as such, the book will be split in half, and the readers will be wondering why the whole thing matters at all. You can have them wondering that at some point, but not for long, or they’ll lose interest, and you don’t want that; do you?
Well, there you bring out the handy-dandy plot twist. Boom! As it turns out, King Bob has sent a whole team of special operatives to hunt down the creator of the mutant robot-turkeys. But the evil scientists twist the evidence so that it all points to Enoch, who raised the turkeys. At this point, Sam is still indebted to Enoch (for a Stoblegnomian’s word is as good as his honor), so now he must clear his new friend’s name, catch the real baddies, and at the same time avoid being caught by King Bob’s men. Now King Bob and Sam have a shared goal: to bring down the organization who started this mutant robot-turkey business, but neither of them are in a good place to accomplish their goal.
give everything a reason to exist.
For example, if you’re going through a point in the story where something should happen because of the story you’re writing– we’ll call them genre beats, the points in every story of a particular genre that readers will expect from the genre– and you lay it down just because it should be there, then… that’s not a very good reason for it to exist. The best way to think of it is as a fairytale retelling. Each retelling, being based on a particular fairytale, is expected to include elements from the original story to make it an actual retelling– the poisoned apple from “Snow White,” the ball or festival in “Cinderella,” a curse for a birthday gift from “Sleeping Beauty.” If you write a “Rapunzel” retelling and lock her up just because that’s how all Rapunzel retellings go, you’ll have to think of a better way to implement that into the overall story. You still have to make it yours.
So why not add the predictable parts of your story into a plot twist that comes on later in the story? Maybe Rapunzel was locked up because she could spin strands of her hair into gold, and King Midas is searching for the legendary girl who can make him the richest man in the world. Who knows? 😛
sometimes you have to wait
Sometimes you’re writing a story that will take more than one book. Or sometimes your book is just really long.
It might be a while until you reveal your dazzling plot twist, and what if readers lose interest before then? What do you do with that random thing that popped out of nowhere?
Give it another use.
Use an ironic line of dialogue to characterize the person who said it. Or use an item in the plot to characterize the protagonist. In Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace,” the final plot twist is that the diamonds which Madame Loisel and her husband have been working so hard to pay for are false. The scene in which Madame Loisel is picking out jewelry for the party serves a double purpose– not only is it a main point in the story’s conflict, but it also brings characterization into it. At the time, Mme. Loisel was shallow and worldly, which can be reflected by the fact that of all the beautiful jewelry Mme. Forestier had on hand, the false diamond necklace was the one she chose.
In the same way, you can make your hints serve a double purpose as well. In that way, the readers will be very nicely prepared for the twist in store for them.
That was a long post, but I hope you found it useful. For those of us doing NaNoWriMo– well, it’s tomorrow! Try not to panic too much. 😉
I like to think autumn is the perfect time to reread books. Everything is so cozy and there’s nothing better than curling up with your favorite book.
Gilt Hollow is especially known for how fall-ish it is. I mean, the whole book takes place during the fall time. Thus, I deemed it the perfect book to review.
Willow Lamott’s best friend is a murderer, and no one in the small town of Gilt Hollow will let her forget it. For four long years, she’s tried to fade into the background—but none of that matters when Ashton Keller comes striding into school, fresh out of juvie and fueled by revenge. The moment their eyes meet, Willow no longer feels invisible. Drawn to the vulnerability behind Ashton’s mask of rage, she sinks deeper into his sinister world and begins to question whether he’s a villain, a savior, or both.
Ashton thought he wanted vengeance, until Willow reminded him what he’d been missing. Now he longs to clear his name and become the person she sees in him. But the closer they get to uncovering the truth, the darker the secrets become, and Ashton fears his return to Gilt Hollow will destroy everyone he loves, especially the girl he left behind.
What first caught my attention was that it was YA mystery romance written by one of my favorite authors, Lorie Langdon. I love every single book she’s put out so far, so that was definitely a win.
I absolutely love Ashton. He’s your perfect definition of a bad boy, not just because he went to jail, but probably his overall appearance. Ashton rides a motorcycle, wears a leather jacket, and likes rock music.
I also really liked how you can see Ashton changing. At the beginning he was fierce and “I hate everyone around me,” but slowly throughout the book he become very protective and caring of the people he loved.
Willow is probably one of the most relatable characters I’ve read. She’s that girl who believes the truth, even when everyone around her doesn’t. Most importantly, she doesn’t like going out and holes up in her room reading and organizing. When Willow is stressed she won’t leave the house all weekend and will be organizing the bookshelf or something instead.
Willow also is very nervous around people and has several panic attacks throughout the novel due to her anxiety. Overall, I do love Willow and Ashton.
There are quite a few of side characters, some of which got confusing. I couldn’t remember who was murdered/dead, who was alive, who had a twin, and who was just there.
Also, Kagawa. Enough said there.
The plot as a whole was good. I liked all the plot twists, the drama, the conflict, and everything else. Not to mention the cute romance scenes with Ashton and Willow.
The only issue I had was the near the ending when the mystery is getting figured out. If you don’t read it carefully and absorb everything being said, it’s quite easy to be turned up in knots.
I wasn’t sure who the murder exactly was and why he did it, but after reading the part over again I have it figured out.
Last thing, tread carefully else you want your heart broken.
That’s all I have for you today. If you’re interested in buying or reading the book, check your local bookstore, library, or online.
Hello dear readers, and welcome to my first individual blog post! *tosses confetti* Today, as you have probably gathered from the title, I am sharing my thoughts on 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons.
The official back-of-the-book blurb is:
I’m going to start out by saying that I don’t usually read Contemporary YA Romance. Often it’s overly dramatic, and the only important characters are the two main characters, and they’re only thoughts are about how much they love each other and… bleh. Give me a fantasy story any day.
100 Days of Sunlight was different.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Although it’s a YA romance, there was more to the plot than just two teenagers falling for each other. There was a BEAUTIFUL message and it was able to incorporate Christianity without feeling preachy. Major props for that.
And then there’s the characters! I personally really related to Tessa Dickinson, the perfectionist that didn’t want to accept help from anyone because it felt like failing or quitting. As it said in the blurb, Tessa lost her sight in a car crash, which turned her world upside down and left her scared of all the things she could no longer do. Over the course of the story, we get to see her learn how to let go of that fear and really enjoy experiencing life. She learns that there is more to life than seeing, and that letting go and accepting help doesn’t make you weak. Inspirational, am I right?
And then there’s Weston Ludovico. Weston wasn’t the perfect-and-stoic-young-man-with-a-chiseled-jaw-and-piercing-eyes-who-always-knows-exactly-what-to-say character that is becoming more and more popular in fiction today (for whatever reason). He messed up. There were times when his stubbornness and insecurity got in the way of what he really wanted, and I love that. Don’t get me wrong he was still adorable and charming, but the presence of his flaws just made him a better character. Character flaws are what make characters human.
Another amazing thing is, they weren’t the only characters! Tessa lived with her grandparents and had an amazing relationship with them. Weston lived with his parents and three hyper little brothers, one of which was one of my favorite characters. Weston had school friends, Tessa had blogging friends. There was a world around Tessa and Weston that they spent time focusing on, instead of spending the entire book either with each other or daydreaming about each other. Tessa’s life didn’t revolve around Weston, Weston’s life didn’t revolve around Tessa. That made the book not only more realistic, but much more enjoyable for me to read.
I could go on and on about the pros of this book, from the STUNNING cover to the beautiful representation of disabilities, but let’s take a quick look at the cons. It’s a much less extensive list, but it’s also worth mentioning. One con for me was the amount of language used in the book, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under the age of 13. It’s not an insane amount of language, but it has a big enough presence to mention. The other con is more of a personal preference. I thought that both main characters were a little quick to transfer from “crush” to “in love”. I get it, its a cute YA romance, it was just a bit too fast for me. I mean, it is two 16 year olds that have only known each other for a couple months. Maybe I’m just too used to reading series where it takes several books for the main characters to even realize they like each other.
All in all, I loved 100 Days of Sunlight. I finished it with a smile on my face and the immediate desire to read it again. Major props to Abbie Emmons for such an amazing and heart warming debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what else she publishes. Also, if you’re looking for writing advice, Abbie has an amazing blog and YouTube channel that have saved my WIP several times. If you have already read 100 Days of Sunlight, but you haven’t checked out the Spotify playlist- check it out here. I’ve been listening to it for days, its amazing!
Don’t forget that if you’re a blogger you can still sign up for the TotLS December blog tour here. And we would love to see some more people participate in the short story contest! We have also set up an Instagram page for TotLS, you can check that out here.
Finally, I’m new to the blogging community, so if you have any questions for me let me know in the comments!
NaNoWriMo–or National Novel Writing Month–is quickly approaching. For those who aren’t familiar with it, NaNoWriMo is an annual event where writers across the globe try to write a novel during the month of November. It is difficult, but with the support of your writing pals, it is a possible feat.
However, many NaNoWriMo participants spend the month of October (known as Preptober in the writing community) brainstorming, researching, and outlining their novels. This can be very important, but for some of us it’s easy to get bored or discouraged with all this pre-writing work. When it comes time to actually start the novel, you may be burnt-out and unmotivated. The original excitement you had when you thought about your novel may have faded.
I have a few fun ideas that will hopefully get you excited about your story again.
1. Create a Playlist
Create a playlist of music that reminds you of your novel. What songs do you imagine playing during certain scenes of your novel? What would be each character’s theme song? Find songs that match the feel of your novel and listen to them when you’re feeling uninspired. Even if you can’t write and listen to music at the same time, you can listen to it in the car, while you’re going on a walk… hopefully it will get you thinking about your novel. Just listening to the music could spark some great ideas! I know this method really gets me in the mood to write my novel.
If you can’t find any songs that match your book, there are tons of great instrumental sound tracks in all kinds of genres that might fit the mood of your novel.
2. Make Collages
I also love this one! Try making collages for your story–whether they are for specific characters, scenes, locations, or the book as a whole. Making these can even help you develop these aspects of your novel even more.
You can do whatever you want with your collage, but one great way to use it is as a phone/computer background. This way, it can constantly remind you of your story and hopefully inspire you to write.
Here is an example of a character collage. I made this for Amara Clark, the main character of my novel Hide and Seek.
3. Create a Book Cover
Even if you don’t plan to publish your novel, book covers are fun to make and help you envision your novel as an actual book. Making fun covers for my book got me really excited to write it, even though I didn’t end up using those covers.
If you aren’t confident in your graphic design skills and are looking for something simple and straightforward, I would recommend using Canva. You can choose a book cover template, add your own title and name, and change the image (if you want).
4. Talk to your Friends about your Novel
This is especially helpful if your friends are also writers! Talk to your friends about your story and get excited about it together. Your friends can also be your brainstorming buddies and end up giving you some great ideas you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise! (Thanks, Merie!) Their encouragement and support will be very important in your writing process… especially during NaNoWriMo. They can motivate you to keep going even when you feel like your novel is a disaster.
5. Let Yourself Take Breaks
If you push yourself too hard and CONSTANTLY force yourself to work on your novel, you’ll probably be very exhausted and uninspired. Let yourself take breaks. Read books you’re excited about or reread your favorites. Try new things. These things can let you rest for a little and give you the inspiration to continue creating your novel.
That is all for today! I hope these methods will get you excited about your novel. For all of you who are participating NaNoWriMo… I wish you success!
Taylor Bennett is the author of the young adult Tradewinds series, a Christian contemporary series set in one of the most fascinating places in the world: Hawaii. So far her debut novel Porch Swing Girl and its sequel, Sand Castle Dreams, have been published with Mountain Brook Ink, and Mele Kalikimaka, a Christmas novella, is coming out this November.
I got to ask Taylor a few interview questions for this blog, so without further ado…
How did God inspire you to write YA Christian contemporary?
Taylor: As a reader, I’ve always been drawn to contemporary or “realistic” genres. That was fine as long as I was young. Most middle-grade books don’t have a lot of questionable content! (Or at least they didn’t a decade ago…) However, as I got older and dove into mainstream YA fiction, I could rarely find a book to read that didn’t have a lot of “junk” in it. So, taking a cue from one of my favorite quotes by author Beverly Cleary, I decided to write the books that I wanted to see on my shelf! I didn’t set out to write Christian YA contemporary, but through the writing process I found that faith and creativity are inseparable. As I wrote the book that would become my debut novel, Porch Swing Girl, I discovered the Lord had a message that He wanted me to share with the whole world! Now I am always on the lookout for ways to infuse my writing with His truth.
Looking around at the books mainstream YA has set out for us, it’s not hard to agree with that. Great answer, and a lot of young writers can learn from that nowadays! Which author or authors inspired you to write Porch Swing Girl?
Taylor: Ooh, there were several (including Jeanne Birdsall and Ann M. Martin, who wrote two of my favorite series of all time!) but one really stands out: Heather Vogel Frederick. She wrote the Mother-Daughter-Book-Club series (ANOTHER favorite-series-of-all-time) and her writing style has influenced me greatly.
The funny thing is, I accidentally “stole” something from her series to use in my Tradewinds series!! In one of her books, Heather introduces a pizza-delivery place called Pirate Pete’s Pizza. And…well, I guess it’s a chain, because good ‘ol Pirate Pete (or at least his pizza!) shows up in my storyworld!! I realized the copycat mistake AFTER the book’s publication and emailed Heather about it. Thankfully she told me that my characters could eat there whenever they wanted! 😉
Jeanne Birdsall’s books are amazing, and I grew up with Ann M. Martin’s stories! I’ve never read Heather Vogel Frederick, but I should so I can see the Pirate Pete thing. xD What do you think is the trademark element most unique to your works (something with which readers can identify you throughout the world of fiction)?
Taylor: Hmmm…maybe the fact that my characters are always eating, LOL! I’m a huge foodie, so I always like to throw in references to my favorite foods—and recipes in the back of the book!
In all seriousness though, I think readers can identify my work by the way I strive to create a sense of place. Whether a scene takes place in a dusty closet at night or a crowded beach in the middle of the afternoon, I want readers to feel fully immersed in the setting. My goal is to describe things so that people reading my books will feel as though they’re watching a movie in their heads!
I could learn a lesson from that… *cough* And everyone loves food descriptions in books– no kidding, Taylor’s foodie account on Instagram has the most scrumptious photos, and I love checking out cultural cuisine from anywhere… aaaand I’m getting distracted. So my last question is: One piece of advice in regards to writing good, wholesome fiction in a world overpopulated by dark stories?
Taylor: Find the light.
Find the good.
Open your eyes to the world around you and see everything for what it is—beautifully set in place by the One true Creator. Live out your own story—one filled with joy and wonder, and learn to find peace even in the middle of life’s darkest storms. Embrace the life you live, and see it for what God intended it to be: a masterpiece.
Beautiful answer! I love how it matches our hopes on this blog perfectly. This not only applies to life, but it’s an important truth in the art of storytelling, and art is all about sharing the truth in the most creative of ways. Thank you so much for answering these questions, Taylor!
That’s all for today, book-lovers! See you next time around 🙂
There’s no such thing as a perfect novel, there will always be flaws. Try as you might, but you will never write the perfect novel. But you can write a book that becomes everyone’s favorite. A book that spams all book blogs, booktube channels, and bookstagram. You can write a book that changes lives and inspires others.
That all sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? But first, let’s back up a few steps and see how to become a bestselling author.
First, you need a have an idea of what you want to write. Will it be a fluffy romance with sunsets, or is a gritty adventure where your characters are fighting the government? Doesn’t matter, as long as you have an idea to work off of.
I always say, write the book you’d want to read. If you want to read a book about a gypsy with a passion for ballet, go write a story about it. That’s best way to stay interested in your current writing project.
Figure out the setting of the story and where everything will happen. You may be creating a completely new world, or just settling for plain ole earth. Make sure your story has a beginning, middle, climax, and ending. Add some conflict and drama, and you have a complete plot.
Next, get yourself some characters. Maybe they’ll find you or you’ll find them. The two most valuable people a story can have is the antagonist and the protagonist.
The protagonist is your good guy and who the story’s main focus will be on. Your entire story will be centered around the protagonist trying to reach their goal and something/s getting in the way. If you want to write a hard-hitting book, pit the character’s own fear against them.
The antagonist is your bad guy. He’s going to be one of things getting between the protagonist and their goal. Just please don’t make this guy a cold-hearted killer without a motive.
I cannot stress this enough. Give him a reason to be evil. There are countless reasons to be evil. He could be getting revenge after the death of a loved one, it could be his legacy, or he could just be power hungry after a childhood of neglect. The possibilities are endless!
If you write relatable characters, that will check a box in the secret to writing a good book.
The next big step to writing your perfect novel: finishing the first draft. That is far by the hardest thing a writer can do. The first draft is where you have fun and write what comes to your mind. There is no second guessing in draft 1, only looking forward.
“But,” you may be saying, “then the book will be terrible if I don’t go back and edit.” And you’re true. The book will be awful if you never go back and edit things.
So go back and check grammar, spelling, and any inconsistencies you may have. Make sure the novel flows well. Fill the plot holes with noveling goodness and enjoy the process of untangling the endless string of subplots.
The last thing you need is a chill playlist to listen to, friends who spend all night texting you, and a place where you can put your work out for the world to see.
Whether you’re thinking of traditionally publishing, self-publishing, or just putting your novel up on a website, it’s up to you. But I can almost guarantee there are people out there waiting for someone to write a book about gypsies and ballet.
So go and write that best-seller and fulfil your dreams.
I want to thank everyone that showed up for the launch and those who signed up for the blog tour. Sign-ups are still open, so if you’re interested make sure to check it out.
Also, happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians! I hope you enjoy the turkey.