J Keller Ford: Five reasons why I live and breathe YA Fiction

Today I have a fellow Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens member, J Keller Ford, aka Jenny, guest posting. She is also a fellow J Taylor Publishing author. The similarities don’t end there, but I’ll let her tell you more about herself and why she’s a YA fiction fiend! Take it away, Jenny!

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I am 53-years old and I love writing and reading YA books.

When I was young, I was never allowed to be a “teen”.  I grew up in a military household.  You didn’t argue.  You didn’t talk back.  You did as you were told or there was hell to pay.  Don’t get me wrong.  That sort of lifestyle forced me to be a better person, to understand right from wrong.  To value my parents and their wisdom.  However, I lost a little bit of me in all that strictness because I wasn’t allowed to be ‘me’.

Young military brat gives thumbs up while wear...

Young military brat gives thumbs up while wearing pilots helmet at base special event (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When my dad died (I was almost 12 years old), my mom took over both mom and dad roles.  Needless to say, I had strict curfews, and because I was a girl, I was not allowed to do a lot of things most teens do because it might put me in a “compromising situation”.  In short, I was never allowed to be a teen ‘coming of age.”  I was never allowed to stumble, make mistakes or do things that weren’t considered ‘wise’.  Trust me when I say there were plenty of arguments between my mom and me, yelling matches over how she was stifling my youth, and at the age of 18, I high-tailed it out of my mom’s house and I never looked back.

The first novel I wrote was a contemporary fictional piece about a young woman who befriended Elvis Presley before he climbed the ladder of fame and fortune, secretly fell in love with him, and watched him rise to greatness before watching him fall to his untimely death, her secret locked deep inside.  While I loved the story, the book didn’t encapsulate me, my voice, and I truly believed the story fell flat in many ways. (Claire’s rude interruption:  I would totally love to read this!)

I remember avoiding writing YA, even though the genre screamed at me.  Instead, I wrote a bunch of literary short stories, tried my hand at a few adult novellas (writing erotica and/or porn brought out the worst in me, but that’s a whole other chapter in my life we won’t discuss), and then I gave up writing all together because life sometimes has a way of interfering like that.

When I returned to my writing, I followed my passion:  fantasy mixed with YA.  The two together resonate deep within me.  I embarked on a quite ambitious project, a trilogy that I am still working on despite my multiple attempts to let it go.  It calls to me.  It infiltrates my dreams; its characters and story are part of every breath I take.  So what is it about YA fiction that has its hold on me?  Here are 5 reasons why I live and breathe YA fiction:

  1. I wish I could redo my teen years.  I would live them fully, make lots of mistakes, love openly and deal with the consequences later.  By writing YA, I am allowed to relive my youth vicariously through my characters.
  2.  YA is so broad in scope as a genre.  My ‘thing’ this time around may be fantasy, but who’s to say I can’t write YA contemporary, dystopian, or a romance?  Maybe a touch of all three.  I love the freedom YA provides to me as a writer and a reader.
  3. The audience is vast and devoted.  Young children to adults read Young Adult fiction.  People of all ages ‘get’ what YA is all about.  They yearn for adventure, and they are incredibly devoted to their favorite authors.
  4. The characters are sympathetic.  They’re kids. They’re meant to make mistakes and we, as readers, can forgive them, root for them, stand beside them while they’re trying to figure themselves out. As a reader, we’re right there with them, immersed in their trials and tribulations.  As a writer, we can manipulate their ‘lives’.  We can give them whatever barriers we want them to overcome.  Sometimes, it’s a fear deep within the writer, and through their characters, they can triumph.  YA is cathartic for writers as well as readers.
  5. YA is escapism. While I like reading adult fiction, it doesn’t provide the ‘escape’ I crave when I reach for YA, which is most of the time.  In writing YA, my imagination soars.  I can go anywhere, do anything.  I can literally fly if I want.  Reading YA provides me an escape from being an adult.  I forget worrying about paying bills or finding a job, or dealing with family issues.  I can choose to stop being an adult for a brief moment in time and forget about responsibilities that age places upon us.

When J. Taylor Publishing opened their submission doors for short stories to include in their YA anthology, ONE MORE DAY, my tummy tingled, but there were no ideas jumping out at me as something I wanted to write about.  That is until THE DREAM.  With only a few weeks left to submit, I hammered out Dragon Flight, a contemporary sci-fi/fantasy.  I have to say it is one of my favorite YA pieces. I hope you enjoy it as much as I loved writing it.

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Would you like to win a copy of ONE MORE DAY?  Make sure you enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway! (click link to go to Rafflecopter site)

Claire, thank you for letting me take over your blog today.  I had fun.

(Claire’s note:  You are more than welcome! As a military brat myself, I totally related to how your military upbringing shaped your behaviors and views. If the physical outlets are stifled, the imagination is more than willing to fill in the void. We’re so lucky you’re able to share your imagination with us.)

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 About J Keller Ford:

JKellerFord-web-300px croppedMy bio:  As a young Army brat, Reader’s Choice award winner J. (Jenny) Keller Ford, traveled the world and wandered the halls of some of Germany’s most extraordinary castles hoping to find the dragons, knights and magic that haunted her imagination. Though she never found them, she continues to keep their legends alive.  Her story, The Amulet of Ormisez, is available as part of the MAKE BELIEVE anthology. Dragon Flight, is slated for publication in December 2013.  When not at her keyboard breathing new life into fantasy worlds, Jenny spends time collecting seashells, bowling, swimming, riding roller coasters and reading.  She works as a paralegal by day and lives on the west coast of Florida with her family, three dogs, and a pretentious orange cat who must have been a dragon in his previous life.

Network with Jenny here:

Website     Blog     Twitter     Facebook     Pinterest     Goodreads     Amazon

 

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L.S. Murphy is not afraid of The Reaper #giveaway

A hearty hello and welcome to fellow J. Taylor Publishing author, L.S. Murphy. I’m thrilled to be a stop on her blog tour to introduce her young adult work, Reaper.

YA books are appealing more and more to all age groups, and I am proof positive of that even though it’s been many decades since I was a teen. I read this one and really enjoyed it. I will confess, however, that before I began reading, I worried as I do with all books involving death, that L.S. would make us fall in love with her characters only to cruelly snatch one away at some point. I’ll try not to spoil it but will at least tell you it has a happy ending. :p

Let’s learn a bit more about the book, first:

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There’s no way sixteen year old Quincy Amarante will become the fifth grim reaper. None. Not over her shiny blue Mustang. Her Jimmy Choos. Or her dead body.

She’s supposed to enjoy her sophomore year, not learn about some freaky future Destiny says she has no choice but to fulfill.

It doesn’t take long for Quincy to realize the only way out of the game is to play along especially since Death can find her anyway, anywhere, anytime. And does.

Like when she’s reassuring her friends she wants nothing to do with former best friend Ben Moorland, who’s returned from god-knows-where, and fails. Miserably.

Instead of maintaining her coveted popularity status, Quincy’s goes down like the Titanic.

Maybe … just maybe … that’s okay.

It seems, perhaps, becoming a grim reaper isn’t just about the dead but more about a much needed shift in Quincy’s priorities—from who she thinks she wants to be to who she really is.

More? OK, here’s an excerpt, too;

A spitball stops in mid-air less than an inch from my nose.

It hangs there. I assume everyone else notices the wet wad of paper too, but when I turn to my bestie Jordan, her mouth is stuck open with her eyes half closed.

She was just laughing. Now she’s … frozen?

The sudden silence is louder than a room full of gossiping teenagers.

Mini-quakes creep up my spine like a centipede hurrying toward my hair.

I’m not entirely sure my heart is beating. I wave my shaking hand in front of Jordan, hoping this will break her free of whatever happened.

No reaction.

Why am I moving?

So many times, I wished Jordan would stop talking. Now is the one time I need her high-pitched voice to pierce my ears.

Quin, relax. It’s okay. No way this is real. I pinch my arm hard, but it doesn’t change anything.

A loud pop makes me spin around in my seat. A man stands in front of the chalkboard in a bluish-white robe staring at me through blizzard white eyes. He holds a staff in front of him that looks like melting glass.

“Hello, Quincy,” he says in a deep velvet voice. “How would you like to see your future?”

I stand and stumble toward the back of the room. “Who are you supposed to be? Gandalf?” I’m unable to keep the tremor out of my voice.

“One person dresses up like me in a movie, and that’s all I hear.” He leans back on Mr. Spragg’s desk. “I’m far more attractive than him and so much more fun.” He winks and lifts his robe, revealing a pair of yellow and red striped Bermuda shorts and orange flip-flops.

My eyes pop wider at the mismatched mess, but I keep my thoughts about his sense of fashion to myself. “Who are you?”

His sigh echoes off the walls. “I’m Destiny.”

“Who?”

Rolling his eyes, he raises the staff high to his left. Like a swordsman, he stabs and swooshes it down in an arch. The air ripples as a dark slit opens. A man in a deep brown pinstripe suit steps through. His cheap sneakers don’t match the formality of the tan fedora and horn-rimmed glasses.

A pony-sized white German shepherd saunters in behind him, and I take an automatic step back. The dog turns his head, black orbs where its eyes should be.
Pinstripe man glances my way before turning toward the person who calls himself Destiny. His features contort and a maroon tint creeps over his face.

“What the f—”

Destiny flips his finger and the new guy shuts up. After a moment, he does another finger move.

“We said when she was eighteen, Des.”

“I’m aware of that, Forsyth.”

“She’s not eighteen.”

“Really? I never would have guessed.” Sarcasm fills each word as Destiny raises his eyebrows like a flag on the Fourth of July.

Forsyth glares. “Then why am I here?”

“I let you pick the date, but I never agreed to honor it.” Destiny pats the dog on the head with sneer and wipes his hands on his robe. “Now is the time. Teach her.”

Still want more? Demanding crowd…

L.S. is offering a FREE eBook copy of Reaper AND signed bookmarks to a randomly selected commenter. Very nice! Offer ends January 13th. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below:

CLICK ME to go to the Rafflecopter giveaway entry

Thank you, L.S.!

About L.S. Murphy:

LS Murphy Author PhotoL.S. Murphy lives in the Greater St. Louis area where she watches Cardinals baseball, reads every book she can find, and weaves tales for teens and adults. When not doing all of the above, she tends to The Bean (aka her daughter), her husband and a menagerie of pets. “A Reason to Stay”, a contemporary romance novella, is available as of November 2, 2012. Reaper is her debut young adult novel and will be released on January 7th, 2013.

She is a co-rep for the Southern Illinois region of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild.

Links:

Blog: http://lsmurphy.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LSMurphy

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LSMurphyAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5046440.L_S_Murphy

Publisher: http://www.jtaylorpublishing.com/

For information about more blog tour stops, click the blog tour button below:

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