Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Buyer, Beware!

Famous quote from Sister Act: “Turns into a nuns’ bar, and I’m outta here.”

I hope my faithful followers, not all of whom are writers, also appreciate the entries that are writer-centric. (And, if you don’t, don’t worry. Future entries will, at times, be totally without  rhyme or reason—well, okay, maybe rhyme.)  The occasional focus on writers is the nature of the beast—the beast being I as a writer and the Local Liaison for Southern Breeze, a region of SCBWI. (For those in the dark, that’s the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You can see why it goes by initials.)

In the next two weeks, I’ll be blogging about authors because I’m doing my part to promote them and their role in the upcoming Southern Breeze conference (Oct. 19-20).

I don’t wanna hear someone whining: “Turns into a writers’ blog, and I’m outta here.”

Monday, August 6, 2012

A woman possessed

Books, books, books. I cannot get enough of them.

Last week was typical. Outwardly, I appeared normal. After having reviewed the requisite five books given me by childrenslit.com, I got the dishes washed, dinners cooked, clothes ironed, toilets scrubbed, miles walked, zumba danced, even TV watched (which, apparently, did not squash my creativity as I wrote a new picture book and revisited four others).

But inside I seethed with the angst of a teenage girl having been bitten by a vampire. That doesn’t happen to just anyone.

Throat by R. A. Nelson introduces Emma. Just when she thinks normalcy is right around the corner—seizure-free for six months and she’ll get her driver’s license—she comes throat-to-teeth with Wirtz, the very worst kind of vampire. Luckily for her, his “dinner” was interrupted by the very thing she feared—a grand mal. So what will happen to Emma, now that she has super powers? What will happen to her family if Wirtz has his way? Most importantly, what will happen to her love life? Throat is just the kind of story a teenage girl can sink her teeth into.

And when Throat no longer had me by the . . . well, throat, Teach Me, also by R. A. Nelson, held sway. A story of a teenage girl falling head-over-heels with her teacher—blech! but oh-so-imaginable!—things get really interesting when he dumps her. One bad idea turns into one even worse. How can Carolina, Nine—just a number to those who know her—escape from the nightmare of her own making? Riveting. Edgy. A story that could be any one of ours if we’d just taken that one forbidden step.

And then Little Texas lurks, hoping to fill the spiritual space within me. A teenage evangelist persuades me of his unusual powers in Days of Little Texas. And R. A. Nelson convinces me, yet again, of his ability to tell a powerful story. The sixteen-year-old known as Little Texas can’t help but wonder if he’s meant to remain a minister. Wishing for normalcy, in a “family” like his, he’s anything but. Haunted by a beautiful girl he has “healed,” can he take her at face value? Is she who she seems? Dealing with saints and sinners alike take its toll on our hero.

There is no doubt about it—Nelson’s books stand out. The number of awards they’ve earned prove it. Teach Me even made NPR’s top 100 best Young Adult books ever . . . and “ever” includes some pretty impressive titles. Reading is like breathing to me, so, of course, I’ll soon be reading his remaining book, Breathe My Name.

I may sound like a one-woman fan club, but there’s a reason beyond the mind-boggling appeal of his works. R.A. Nelson is local. His settings take place in or around Huntsville, AL. I’m familiar with names like Rombokas, places like Madison Square and the Marshall Space Flight Center. (Are vampires lurking at the Space Center as we speak?) Being able to identify with the setting can be just as important as living within the main character's skin.

Best of all is that Nelson, a member of SCBWI Southern Breeze, will be part of a panel at the upcoming schmooze I’ve arranged.

After spending some time fighting demons, vampires, and one’s own conscience, it’s time I come back to earth. Meals to deliver, bingo to call, schmoozes to advertise, reviews to write.

Oh, heck. Those things can wait. Breathe My Name is doing just that.