Friday, June 13, 2014

Blog Tour: Caught in the Crossfire by @JuliannRich1 #GuestPost #giveaway

Young Adult GLBTQ
Date Published: 6/16/2014

Two boys at bible camp. One forbidden love.
That’s the dilemma Jonathan Cooper faces when he goes away to Spirit Lake Bible Camp, situated along Minnesota’s rugged north shore, for a summer of fun. He is expecting mosquito bites, bonfires with S’Mores, and photography classes with Simon, his favorite counselor who always helps him see life in perfect focus.
What he isn’t expecting is Ian McGuire, a new camper who openly argues against phrases like pray the gay away. Ian is certain of many things, including what could happen between them if only Jonathan could surrender to his feelings.
Jonathan, however, tosses in a storm of indecision between his belief in God and his inability to stay away from Ian. When a real storm hits and Ian is lost in it, Jonathan is forced to make a public decision that changes his life.

Guest Post

Mission Impossible: To Capture the YA Voice

Cue theme music:
Intro deep resonating male voice.

Your mission as a writer, should you choose to accept it, is to capture the elusive but authentic teen voice and hold it over two hundred pages of a young adult novel. As always, should you or any of your prose be clichéd or condescending, your ideal reader will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This blog post will self-destruct in five seconds.

It certainly does seem like a mission impossible when we set out to write a book for teen readers when our own teenage years are decades in our past. I understand. Believe me, I understand. When I accepted this mission in 2011, I was equally daunted. After all, I was 46 and receiving mailings from AARP on a regular basis. Yeah, I wish that statement was not true, but…

So how did I do it?

By going undercover.

That’s right. I schlepped through the YA sections of local bookstores and libraries and gathered Intel from the preceding agents AKA authors, who had successfully completed previous missions: John Green and Pete Hautman. Jay Asher and Rainbow Rowell. Laurie Halse Anderson and Steve Brezenoff. Plus a plethora of others! They were my code breakers and my covert operatives.

They taught me:
·       Book structure: Go in late. Get out early.
·       Pacing: Those beautiful five pages of exposition that set up the world of my novel? Yeah, they need to go.
·       Sentence structure: Forget my grammar lessons and write as I speak. Note: it does not need to be complete sentences, even in the narrative.
·       Word choice: Two words are better than three. One is better than two. One word that surprises my reader is best of all.

And so many, many other things. These authors rescued me from the slippery slope of old fogeyness by teaching me through example that there is no such thing as “a teen voice.” Rather, there are hundreds of thousands of “teen voices,” each one as unique as the fully fleshed out person whose yearning fuels the forward momentum of the story. I read and read and read quality YA books and eventually I felt their influence on the pages of my own book. And so I read more and wrote more, inspired by Mikey, the quirky kid who only wore suits to school and owed the local drug dealer $500; Melinda, the girl who lost her voice after being raped; Hazel Grace and Augustus, the two kids who met at a cancer-survivors support group and dared to fall in love. What I learned from those people (for surely they exist as people and are not mere characters!) and the authors who birthed them is that there is no age requirement for suffering or bravery or loss or heroism.

This made me approach every aspect of my book differently. I sought the best word, not the most pleasing word (and if that word had four letters and began with “f,” so be it). I stopped worrying about whether my story about a boy who falls in love with another boy at a Christian Bible camp would be too controversial, and I actively sought to know my main character, Jonathan Cooper. He generously lent me a share of his courage and his strength as I attempted to write his story in his voice, and in the end, I was delighted to discover it was a Mission Possible.

Minnesota writer Juliann Rich spent her childhood in search of the perfect climbing tree. The taller the better! Perched on a branch ten to thirty feet off the ground and surrounded by leaves, caterpillars, birds and squirrels was a good place for a young girl to find herself. Seeking truth in nature and finding a unique point of view remain crucial elements in her life as well as her writing.
Juliann is a PFLAG mom who can be found walking Pride parades with her son. She is also the daughter of evangelical Christian parents. As such she has been caught in the crossfire of the most heated topic to challenge our society and our churches today. She is committed to writing stories that shed light on the conflicts that arise when sexual orientation, spirituality, family dynamics and peer relationships collide.
Juliann recently won the Emerging Writer Award at The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans.
Juliann lives with her husband and their two chronically disobedient dachshunds in the beautiful Minnesota River Valley.


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