Writing for Teens: How to Keep it Real

A short essay on writing for teens, and how I keep my fiction real.

I’ve written a lot of Young Adult fiction, sure, it’s not as much as some people have written, but it’s enough that I’ve learned what to look for when crafting a young adult novel. Now that I’m in my thirties, high school feels distant and trivial. Did I really get that upset when my best friend didn’t invite me to a party? Things that upset me then, wouldn’t upset me now. The trick is remember how I acted in my teen years, and not force my adult learning on my characters.

The above mentioned party happened sometime in my senior year of high school. When I found out about the party late that night, or possibly the next day, I was in tears. Did my best friend at the time (we aren’t friends anymore, unless Facebook counts), mean to hurt my feelings? Probably not. She probably just wanted a break from me, wanted to have fun with someone else, or thought it wasn’t my thing. I don’t believe she was vindictive (she seems like she’s a nice person overall). But I do believe that she didn’t have the words to express why I wasn’t invited, or why she lied instead of telling me the truth.

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Thinking back on my teen years, and about the teens in my life now, it is very common at that age to ‘read too much into things’. By the time adulthood rolls around, most people have stopped taking every look and every word dished out personally. We’ve begun to accept our differences, our path, and our identity. But this is something teenagers struggle with.

One of the ways I stay in touch with my teen self is by keeping my teenage diaries and occasionally, when I feel strong enough, by reading the terrible, painful entries: here’s an example.

“I finally talked to Red. I don’t know how it is. We’re talking tomorrow after school. That’ll be hard. It was hard enough on the phone. I think she was crying. I’m not sure. I almost felt like it. But I don’t cry. It’s too hard. I almost said, “I can’t stand Blue”, when she said she couldn’t stand Green, but I couldn’t. This is hard. I mean, we have a circle. We work together and I told her we shouldn’t. That was hard. I don’t know what to say. Tomorrow we have to talk and I have to tell her my happenings and feelings….”

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See, everything is hard when you’re a teen. So hard in fact that I reused that word five times in that one short paragraph. And this was just about having a simple conversation with the friend about why she didn’t invite me to a party! Nowadays, I’d just go up to my friend and be like, Yo, You didn’t invite me b-! And my friend would either apologize and offer a reason that may or may not make sense, or we’d just laugh about it and move on. It wouldn’t be as difficult for me now that I’m older.

What about you? Did simple things seem more difficult for you when you were a teenager?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Leia Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

Young Adult book review: Leia Princess of Alderaan, by Claudia Gray.

Not only am I a Star Wars fan, I’m a huge Princess Leia fan. I absolutely adore this book cover, and had to have the book. This book provides a good background to Princess Leia’s character, and was much like I expected.

This book also had a tie-in to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie, so I rushed to see it before going out to see the film. I liked that I possessed a bit more background regarding one of the on screen characters. But it wasn’t that interesting of news. Since I don’t want to ruin the book or movie for anyone, I won’t say anymore than that.

Of all the Star Wars reading I’ve been doing lately, I would definitely put Lost Stars at the top, followed by Leia, which wasn’t quite as full of detail but still a fun read.

Have you read it?

4/5 Stars

JEH

A Reader’s Christmas 2017 Wishlist

About a month ago, I headed to the book store to browse, determined not to buy anything (at least for myself), but instead took some pictures to send to my other for gift ideas. He said didn’t buy me any of them….

So I guess I might have to save some money to buy them for myself if required.

One of my favourites is this J.R.R. Tolkien collection. I love the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and my current copies are falling apart. Sometimes a reader doesn’t need a new book, but a beautiful new copy of a beloved old book. For instance, I would also love the Tenth Anniversary Edition of The Name of the Wind, one of my all time favourite books.

Of course, sometimes readers also need beautiful books they haven’t read. Like this collection on my list:

And sometimes a reader wants books that aren’t for reading at all. I love Star Wars, so naturally these notebooks are a great fit.

What’s on your list this year?

JEH

The Torc: Artifacts of Avalum Book 1 is Now Available

The Torc: Artifacts of Avalum Book 1 is now available on Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords, and should be up on iBooks and Nook soon! Use the links below to check it out. I’m excited to get this book out before Christmas, for a while, I was pretty sure it wouldn’t happen. It always feels great to share a new project, and also to clear the plate and start something new—even if it’s a sequel.

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Kobo

Smashwords

Torc Draft 3

Upcoming for November

Happy first day of snow! (At least here!) November had arrived, along with winter and National Novel Writing Month!

This month, I can’t wait to dig into writing The Circlet: Artifacts of Avalum Book 2. If you haven’t checked out the preview for Book 1, The Torc, you can find it here: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/WNGLSOVB1GOP

Coming up in the blog will be a few winter book reviews, my NaNoWriMo experience, and updates on the Avalum world. I can’t wait to share this with you so be sure to check in regularly! What does your month hold?

JEH