Category Archives: YA

Free Fiction Friday: The Summer Reading List

Keep the binge-reading going with the Summer Reading List.

Included in this giveaway is The Fine Art of Keeping Quiet, which now has a reading group guide. You can download the guide in PDF format here.

Happy reading!

 

 

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On Learning to Say Goodbye, in Winter

On January 10, 2018, my dear friend and writing partner, Darcy Vance, lost her battle with cancer.

This is my tribute to her.

We met only twice in person, once in May of 2000 and again, nine years later, for our book launch, but I first encountered Darcy in an online writing workshop sometime in 1998. We took a few classes together and ended up in the same “study group.” From there, we quickly became friends.

Darcy often told me I was the writer she wished she could be. The thing is, she was the writer—and the human being—I wished I could be.

When I shelved my novel The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading, Darcy wouldn’t let it go. She loved it too much, thought it too good to let me simply abandon it. So she jumped in—like she did with so many things in her life—started working on it, converting the prose from third person point of view to first.

This might sound easy, but ask any writer: it’s not. There’s tone and style and voice to consider. The way a third-person narrator might phrase things or relate an event is far different from the way a first-person narrator would.

Here’s the note she sent me when she first started working on the novel:

I would like (very much) to play with the first three chapters of your novel. If I’m pleased with what I come up with (a big IF) I would show it to you. After that, we’ll talk. No commitments on either side.

Here’s what I didn’t know: She’d already jumped in and started, so when I said yes, I had those three chapters in my inbox almost instantaneously.

After I got over the shock of reading my story in a completely different voice, I was entranced. Darcy had done something incredibly special. When I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at a line she had added, I knew we were going to sell this novel, and we were going to sell it because of her.

Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance’s debut THE GEEK GIRL’S GUIDE TO CHEERLEADING, the story of a self-confessed debating dork whose practical joke lands her a spot on the varsity cheerleading squad, where she realizes that if there’s one thing worse than blending into the lockers, it’s getting noticed!, to Jennifer Klonsky at Simon Pulse, by Mollie Glick at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

Magic happened when we worked together. It was no longer simply my story; it wasn’t Darcy’s; it was the main character’s story. We managed to transcend both our egos and insecurities (and writers have plenty of both) and create something special.

It’s true that magic comes with a price. We fought, we fumed, we’d give each other the virtual side eye. If it was a plot issue, I usually won. If it was humor related, Darcy did. (The funniest bits in both our novels? Those are pure Darcy.)

But even when we butted heads, neither one of us wanted to call it quits. Not when we had each other.

At the launch of The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading

Signing books at the launch

In May of 2009, I was lucky enough to see how incredible Darcy was in person, too. My kids and I arrived in Danville for the launch of The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading, but due to various circumstances, our luggage did not.

Without blinking an eye, Darcy got us to the closest Walmart before they closed and entertained my daughter while my son and I ran around the store gathering up the supplies we’d need for the weekend. By the time we met up at the cash registers, Darcy had already purchased a pair of sparkly glitter jeans for my daughter. Then she took us all out to dinner.

This is how she was in every aspect of her life. She knew what you needed whether it was a pair of glitter jeans, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or the missing plot point in your story.

That she was the same in person as in my email inbox doesn’t surprise me.

You can’t write and revise thousands of words together and exchange an untold number of emails without becoming part of that person’s life. While working on revisions in instant messenger, we often typed the same idea at the same time. One year for Christmas, we bought each other the exact same book. In 2015, we sent each other candles.

One night, I was booting down the computer when my daughter, about five at the time, said, “Goodnight, Darcy!”

I said, “You know Darcy doesn’t really live in my computer, right?”

My daughter didn’t answer.

Maybe Darcy didn’t live in my computer, but she certainly lives on through it. As far back as 1999, I started saving our exchanges. I have countless emails and replies from her, all written in her wonderful voice. I’ve been rereading her messages over these last few days, and I’m in awe of how blessed I am to have them. I know, in the future, whenever I need her advice, I’ll be able to find it there.

It’s been two years since I placed that Christmas candle on my nightstand. And while its wonderful scent has faded, I’ve never moved it from its spot. On the evening of January 10th, I inched it closer to me so I could see, if not smell, the candle while I reread her short story On Learning to Swim Again, in Autumn.

At around four in the morning, the cat became agitated in a way she never does. Something had woken us, but I couldn’t say what, exactly. I bolted upright. The cat was staring at the space above the headboard in that freaky way cats have. I held my breath and listened hard.

Then I caught the scent of the candle, the aroma stronger than it’s been for more than a year.

I know what logic says about this—grief, imagination, wishful thinking. I also know what Darcy would say.

I like to think she found a way to tell me goodbye.

My writing and my life have been so intertwined with hers that even when we weren’t working on a project together, I never considered a story truly done until Darcy read it. She helped me become a better writer, and more importantly, a better person.

Rereading her short story On Learning to Swim Again, in Autumn was a revelation. Somehow it was the same story and yet completely different from what I remember, very much like reading a brand-new story of hers. This is yet another gift she’s given me.

In a mere nine pages, she managed to convey so much about love and loss, and taking leaps of faith, making those scary jumps.

Near the end, there is this exchange between the two main characters:

Kathleen set down her glass and reached for her grandmother’s hand. She gave it a squeeze. “Oh, Nonni, what will I do without you?” she said.

“Jump,” the old woman answered, and she squeezed back.

I don’t know what I’m going to do without Darcy. But I do know this:

She would want me—and all of us—to jump.

 


 

More than anything, a writer loves to be read. Please take the time to read Darcy’s work.

I’ll be running a free Kindle promotion for Dating on the Dork Side between January 13th and 17th. Darcy loved our free promotional runs, was always amazed that by offering our book for free, we ended up making money. Our last run in May was so good, it caught Amazon’s eye, and they selected Dating on the Dork Side for their curated Prime Reading list over the summer.

The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading

Dating on the Dork Side

  • 1st Place: 2016 International Digital Awards, Young Adult Novel
  • Available on: Kindle  Print

Less Than Three

On Learning to Swim Again, in Autumn: A Short Story

  • A contest-winning short story
  • Available for 99 cents on Kindle or read for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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It’s a matchbook kind of day (buy a paperback, get the Kindle version free)

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Looking for something new to read along with getting your holiday shopping done? Well, here you go. Fifty paperbacks, in all genres, plus the free Kindle version for yourself. Shop early, shop often.

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Review: Women Heroes of World War II—the Pacific Theater: 15 Stories of Resistance, Rescue, Sabotage, and Survival

War can teach you so much about evil, and so much about good.
~ Zainab Salbi

Women Heroes of World War II—the Pacific Theater: 15 Stories of Resistance, Rescue, Sabotage, and Survival*

From the publisher:

Glamorous American singer Claire Phillips opened a nightclub in manila, using the earnings to secretly feed starving American POWs. She also began working as a spy, chatting up Japanese military men and passing their secrets along to local guerrilla resistance fighters. Australian Army nurse Vivian Bullwinkel, stationed in Singapore, then shipwrecked in the Dutch East Indies, became the sole survivor of a horrible massacre by Japanese soliders. She hid for days, tending to a seriously wounded British soldier while wounded herself. Humanitarian Elizabeth Choy lived the rest of her life hating war, though not her tormentors, after enduring six months of starvation and torture by the Japanese military police.

In these pages, readers will meet these and other courageous women and girls who risked their lives through their involvement in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Fifteen suspense-filled stories unfold across China, Japan, Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines, providing an inspiring reminder of womens’ and girls’ refusal to sit on the sidelines around the world and throughout history.

These women—whose stories span 1932 to 1945, the last year of the war—served in dangerous roles as spies, medics, journalists, resisters, and saboteurs. Seven of them were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, enduring brutal conditions. Author Kathryn J. Atwood provides appropriate context and framing for teens 14 and up to grapple with these harsh realities of war. Discussion questions and a guide for further study assist readers and educators in learning about this important and often neglected period of history.

womenheroeswwiipacThis is the third Women Heroes book by Kathryn Atwood and part of the Women of Action series from Chicago Review Press.

To say I liked this book the best isn’t accurate. I enjoyed the first two immensely. I read a lot of World War I and World War II nonfiction. I majored in Russian in college, and along with that came a lot of Russian literature and history. So I was already familiar with a lot of the women presented in the first two books.

Ah, but this one? I’m a bit chagrined to admit it. This was fairly new territory for me. I haven’t done nearly as much reading about the Pacific theater as I have the European one. That’s about to change.

As with the other books, this one starts off with a chapter about how the war with Japan begun and provides a short, but excellent, historical overview. The volume ends with a wrap up that explains how the war ended and the consequences that followed (the Cold War).

In between? Fifteen riveting stories about women in the Pacific theater, from Australian nurses to Navy flight nurses to war photographers and citizens fighting for their countries. Each chapter highlights a woman hero and invites us to understand her struggle. Each chapter ends with a bibliography for further reading.

All the stories in this book are incredible, but I was struck in particular by the courage of the Philippine resistance.

This book along with the two others in the series make excellent resources for not only students, but teachers, writers, or anyone who wants to know more about the world wars but doesn’t know where to start.

Heroism is endurance for one moment more.
~ George F. Kennan

* I received a review copy of this book from Chicago Review Press.

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Release Day: Simply the Best!

And now … it’s live! The big boxed set of IDA winners is available for purchase. Buy early! Buy often! Well, for a limited time anyway. This set won’t be around forever. Plus, the long Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner. You might need something to read. Just saying.

Boxed set cover

Six Award Winning Romance Novels

One Incredible Collection

This collection of multi-genre romances features winning novels from the International Digital Awards, including historical, suspense/thriller, short historical, contemporary, paranormal, and young adult. Simply the Best of all worlds!

Available at:

Amazon  Barnes and Noble  iTunes  Kobo

Only 99 cents!

Learn more about the collection here.

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Cover reveal: Simply the Best!

So … I’ve been keeping this quiet (ha, a pun) for a while now, but The Fine Art of Keeping Quiet is included in this fabulous boxed set of other winning novels from the International Digital Awards. Read on to learn more. Then click that pre-order button. 99 cents? How can you go wrong?

Boxed set cover

Six Award Winning Romance Novels

One Incredible Collection

This collection of multi-genre romances features winning novels from the International Digital Awards, including historical, suspense/thriller, short historical, contemporary, paranormal, and young adult. Simply the Best of all worlds!

Available at:

Amazon  Barnes and Noble  iTunes  Kobo

Only 99 cents!

 

Haunted by Death ~ Dale Mayer

Death haunts anthropologist Meg Pearce…

In her last summer before college, an innocent camping trip ended in a friend’s disappearance…and destroyed her life.

 

Angel’s Assassin ~ Laurel O’Donnell

When Damien enters Aurora’s life, tempting her with promises of dark passion and forbidden lust, he threatens to tear her peaceful world apart with shadowy secrets of his own.

 

Be Mine This Christmas Night ~ L. A. Sartor

At Christmas, finding love and a family seems even more possible…unless you’re keeping a secret.

 

A Hunter 4 Rescue ~ Cynthia Clement

Worlds Apart. Joined by Love

A unit of elite alien warriors, known as Hunters, crash lands on earth and their leader is torn between getting his men to safety or protecting the human woman he has bonded with.

 

The Fine Art of Keeping Quiet ~ Charity Tahmaseb

Sometimes staying silent is the biggest lie of all

No one expects the girl who has mastered the art of keeping quiet to join the speech team. But Jolia does. When a crush-worthy rival offers to coach her in secret, she can’t say no. But secrets have a price, and this one might cost Jolia everything.

 

The Mapmaker’s Wife ~ Kathy L Wheeler

In the midst of his worn-torn country, love posed the greater danger.

A flippant proposal and an attack on her person finds one young woman married to the mapmaker who only needs someone to take control of his ungovernable child. Feelings quickly shift into something less platonic and when the enemy gains vital secrets, her suspicions land her in jail.

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Weekly writing check-in: the one with Dating on the Dork Side

Yes, I think most everyone knows about the Dating on the Dork Side launch. It … launched. There was a flurry of activity there for a while. Now I think Darcy and I can both sit back and breathe a bit. Sort of.

I am getting Ghosts of Christmas Past ready to go. It would be nice to have that one out before Christmas. Ideally. We’ll see how it goes.

Also, I see that it’s snowing on WordPress. I love it when it snows on WordPress.

Writing Work:

  • Launch activities for Dating on the Dork Side
  • Coffee & Ghosts season two, episode one: revision and listening proof

Submissions:

  • None

Rejections:

  • None

Acceptances:

  • None

Publications:

front cover rgb jpgWell, yes, you probably already know about the release for Dating on the Dork Side. And you can still head over to Goodreads and enter the giveaway for an autographed copy.

But … Keeping Time now has a new home over at Luna Station Quarterly in issue #24. You can also pick up the issue in a variety of formats, including Kindle and print.

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