Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teen Talk Tuesday: Trends

Last week was the debut of Teen Talk Tuesday, and I just wanted to share how much the participating students enjoyed it. They were so excited to see your questions and seemed eager to impart their knowledge of all things teen.

The kids were able to answer most of the questions posted on the blog last week, but we saved two questions for this week:
1. Popular clothing brands
     The kids listed the following labels and stores as being trendy: Nike Jordan shoes, Polo, American Eagle, Hollister, Toms shoes, and Abercrombie. For less expensive labels, they named Rue 21 and Forever 21. (One young lady said she didn't care which store her clothes came from, and left her mother to choose her styles for her.)

2. E-books vs Print books
     Students with e-readers at our school unanimously preferred reading print books over e-books. However, they emphasized that they loved Kindles for the other features.

Writers, what would you like to ask the teens this week? Please post your burning question as a comment, and I'll pass it along to my students who are sure to know the answer!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Breaking Stereotypes and the Use of Physical Traits

Our doorbell rang one day last week, and my husband found a brawny, 6'4" one-eyed ex-convict on our doorstep. You can imagine our initial thoughts when the man (I'll call him Joe) offered to do work around our house. Joe's heartfelt request for work impressed my hubs, however, who sympathized. Parolees have to pay for their ankle bracelets or go back to jail, and Joe also needed cash to support his ex-wife and kids. With that in mind, we decided to take a risk on hiring Joe, because like he told us, who else in our small town would hire "a 300 lb black ex-con wearing an eyepatch and an ankle bracelet?!!!" Within minutes of hiring him to paint our house (for a fraction of what a pro would charge), he rounded up an unemployed woman picking up pecans and 2 more random guys off the street to help him for a cut of his pay. Just like that,  Joe became a boss (and a hero) to several good folks who also needed a break. Under his supervision, the motley crew did such a fantastic job on our house that several of our neighbors hired Joe. They love his work so far.

If I had written Joe as a character before I got to know him, I probably would've cast him as an antagonist. All too often, we create stock characters based on physical traits and stereotypes. Cliches are boring! The lesson I learned from my new friend is that characters are far more interesting when they break the mold, and even ex-cons can sometimes be angels.

Thanks to those who posted questions on my first TEEN TALK TUESDAY. My students were excited to answer your questions and were very delighted to help writers. We hope you'll join us next week for more Q & A with the teens!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Announcing...Teen Talk Tuesday

Managing a library media center and sponsoring a teen book club, I'm smack-dab in the middle of drama every day: boyfriend/girlfriend fights, breakups, mean girls, rebels, and--oh God, the issues. But I wouldn't want to work anywhere else. It's the work environment I love best. I order books the kids want, and my students recommend books I'd like to read, too. It's a wonderful, symbiotic situation. 

Writers' blogs are symbiotic, as well. We share tips and expect that others will pass it forward. With this thought in mind, I've decided to stop hoarding my trove of teen culture experts to myself. I'm declaring every Tuesday from here forth to be Teen Talk Tuesday. I'll choose a question to pose to my students and then I'll post their anonymous response on the blog. Possible topics could include: clothes, social norms, slang, how they would respond to a given situation, dating advice, friendship, etc. 

****WARNING: This could get ugly!!*******

If you've got a question, fire away.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wild at Heart Contest

Recently, I attended a retreat with five other writers from my local RWA chapter at a place called Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. The experience was wonderful, as retreats usually are, but this one was different. Each morning we were treated to the soul-stirring sounds of beautiful cats in the nearby sanctuary. When we talked with one of the leaders of the refuge, she shared the most heartbreaking stories an animal-lover would ever hear. How these lovely animals were "adopted" as pets by owners who eventually couldn't abide or handle their special needs in an average home...how they were abused...or how they were left to die. The refuge provides a wonderful place for these cats to go when no one else can help. They give them food, shelter, medical care, and their hearts.

My chapter, Diamond State Romance Writers, is offering an opportunity for writers to help these cats. Please read more below to see how you can help. ---Sandi

Wild at Heart
Editor: Delilah Devlin
Publisher: Diamond State Romance Authors
Deadline: April 1, 2012

Wild at Heart is open to all authors.

Editor Delilah Devlin is looking for stories for a special project to benefit the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

Recently, six Diamond State Romance Author chapter members spent a weekend falling in love with the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and its exotic inhabitants. The refuge is home to large cats and a variety of exotic animals that would otherwise have to be put down because they aren’t suitable for placement in zoos or to be returned to the wild. The need for financial support was apparent. Our chapter decided to pool its resources and find a way to help.

What we propose is to produce a volume of short stories, all centred around animals in need of refuge. All proceeds from the sales of the book will go directly to the Turpentine Creek Refuge. We will edit the submissions, seek professional cover art and formatting, and assist the refuge by uploading the anthology to online bookstores like Amazon’s Kindle store and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store. Additionally, we will help upload the book to CreateSpace so that printed volumes can be available for sale in brick-and-mortar bookstores throughout Arkansas and inside the refuge’s shop.

This is a national call for submissions of short stories to be donated for the cause. Only the best stories will be accepted. All genres of fiction (contemporary and paranormal, sweet adult romance and Young Adult) will be considered. Please keep in mind that stories must be PG-rated as the book will be two-sided—one side geared toward adult readers and the other toward teenaged readers.

Examples of the kinds of stories we seek:

A maimed Iraqi war veteran learns to accept his disability by working with equally damaged animals
A teenaged girl helps a were-cougar hide his true nature while both hunt for an escaped cat
A teenaged couple encounters a tiger escaped from its private owner’s cage and work together to find help to capture and care for it
A pushy animal psychic must gain the trust of the refuge’s veterinarian to help a depressed bear
A troubled teenager discovers a tiger living in a national forest, then seeks a way to prevent locals staging a hunt from killing it
How to submit: Prepare your 1,500 to 4,000 words story in a double-spaced, Arial, 12 point, black font Word document with pages numbered (.doc, NOT.docx) OR rich text format. Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch and double space (regular double spacing, do not add extra lines between paragraphs or do any other irregular spacing). US grammar (double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) is required.

In your document at the top left of the page, include your legal name (and pseudonym if applicable), mailing address, and 50 word or less bio in the third person to dsrawildatheart@gmail.com. If you are using a pseudonym, please provide your real name and pseudonym and make it clear which one you’d like to be credited as. Authors may submit up to 2 stories.

About the editor: Ms. Devlin has published over one hundred stories in multiple genres and lengths. Her published print titles include Into the Darkness, Seduced by Darkness, Darkness Captured, Down in Texas, Texas Men and Ravished by a Viking. Her short stories are featured in Zane’s Purple Panties, and Cleis Press’s Lesbian Cowboys, Girl Crush, Fairy Tale Lust, Lesbian Lust, Passion, Carnal Machines, and Dream Lovers. She is published by Avon, Kensington, Harlequin, Atria/Strebor, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, and Berkley. In Fall 2011, she debuted her first anthology with Cleis Press, Girls Who Bite.

Direct any questions you have regarding your story or the submission process to Delilah at dsrawildatheart@gmail.com.