Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Young Adult books Come and Go

Okay, you know the problem I have with young adult books?
Neither do I, except there are so many and I no longer have a young adult around reading such books.  That means I have to go into the library and get my own.
I mean, I don't pretend I'm checking them out for my kids.  YA books have great stories.
Right, that's today and this is all about books past and so I have to go back to when my daughter got me into reading young adult fantasy.  (Okay, we're pretending here that I stopped reading it on my own)(At least she introduced me to some new things)(Alright, alright, I have no excuses)
It didn't last long, don't worry. 
I mean… it didn't last long for her, she was soon into John Grisham, leaving me to fend for myself.
Which books were they, you ask?
Yes, teen twin witches.
A really great young adult series.
A really, really, really great series, great storytelling, great characters.
And do you want to know what the problem with the series was?
Disney made it into a movie.
They  trashed the whole series. 
Made me physically sick.
Every time I look at the books (yes, they are on my shelves) I get a flashback sick feeling.
At least I got the rant out of the way in the beginning of the blog this time.

T'Witches. Bk 1 - The Power of Two. 2001 by H.B.Gilmour & Randi Reisfeld, published by Scholastic
Think Parent Trap for witches but with a hundred more things going on… kind of without the parents. (and without Disney)
A young teenage soccer player from a nice eastcoast school hears voices and has visions, Camryn Barnes, with mojo.  Great parents, great house, great friends, everything is nice in her life.  Although sometimes she thinks she's going crazy.
Then there's Alexandra Nicole Fielding living in a rusting trailer on poverty's edge, with her mom, and dreaming about getting a real life out in the world.  She works in a cowboy theme park… things tend to fly when she's upset.
Of course you see where this is going.
Girl meets girl and things go sideways.
They're only fourteen years old so there are no hunky werewolves coming onto the scene or vampires for that matter.  This is all about witches and their secret society.  They live in the human world and separate.
Later in the series there may be a hunky witch boy or two so don't worry, if you get into it…
This isn't only about sisters finding they've been separated just after birth (although obviously that's a huge part of it).  It's about power and politics and trust and betrayal, love and faith, the kind of things that teens are learning about in real life.  It's about family and friends and looking for answers and making mistakes… then learning how to deal with them.
It's a ten book series… I think only ten books… sorry, uncertainty rules here.  But it's a cohesive story with a delightful set of characters.
Smuggled away from their home after they were born they were separated to keep them safe from an evil uncle.  Talismans of power, gifts of their father, stayed with them and later take an active part of their lives.  Left alone for the sake of security the twins are watched over by good witches and hunted for by the bad.
Cam and Alex need to uncover the secrets of their past and do so… in that gradual way that makes for a certain level of suspense.
If I remember correctly the authors did a good job of creating those you don't want to open that door type of moments.  Or don't trust him, Cam, don't listen, Alex.
There was plenty of depth to the story and I was kept interested.
I just reread the entire series about three years ago so my recommendation stands.
I still have this problem about giving things away in the stories I'm talking about… I want you to read them and find the little hidden things.
Of course that means…
Never mind.

Anyway to close out this blog today I wanted to say I just published the Smashwords edition of book three of my - The Merged Worlds series - Pepper's Magic.
I don't know if I ever said I published the first two with smashwords, but, I did.

I hope you'll check them out.  They may not have twins but they do have witches, vampires, werewolves, ghosts and more…

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Problem With Reading

Okay, as far as past books go I haven't quite left the stories of the Diadem by Jo Clayton.
I read Star Hunters and The Nowhere Hunt and it shows a swerve in the path of the stories, when Aleytys, the star of the series, joins an organization that's kind of a detective agency, repo team and protection service.  She does it because one of their agents helped her out and she thinks it sounds like a good use of her skills and it pays well.  She's still on a quest to find her mother and her people but it's no rush. 
A lot of interesting twists and turns go on amidst the straight plot of her mission.
What Ms. Clayton does especially well is create an alien culture in which Aleytys must work.  In The Nowhere Hunt, almost half or more of the story is told by the natives of the planet where Aleytys must go.  An entire culture is created as the background of the story, except it's not really the background but a major player in the story.
The same is true for Star Hunters, of course.  It's a mission where Aleytys was requested by those of the planet to help.  That part of the story turns out to be something twisted and interesting.  But the majority of the story is about the natives and what they go through.  At one point it seems to be the coming of age of one of the characters.  It's also a nice story of female empowerment, women's rights in a very repressive society.
I don't know that Ms. Clayton deliberately wrote allegories of the world she lived in and the changes that were necessary but most writers who use reality as a basis for character development wind up doing it.  Like poems, a good story reveals a lot about the character of the author rather than only about the character of the characters.
Previously I suggested that Ms. Clayton may have had some hippy in her, maybe she did, maybe not but the creation of a strong female character like Aleytys gave her ample room to display the dysfunction of society.  She points out stereotypes and the dangers of assuming people are automatically like us just because we manage to communicate.  Several situations display the difficulties that women have in breaking from traditional standards. 
It isn't just that she points them out and creates changes she shows the power and hope that such change could inspire.  Unfortunately, like the hippy movement, only those already predisposed to change will actually change.  When dealing with the peer pressure of an entire society (including politics, economics, prejudices, isolationism and the continual degradation of the supporting infrastructure) most wind up a part of the situation or living in a commune or a hermitage. 
While very few people read this I'm still making a point, the point on one hand is that while few read this, even fewer will think it credible or of any value.  The idea that Ms. Clayton may have introduced changes to the world culture through her science fiction is no less credible than any other author touching those of the world.  Those who read her books were moved or entertained.  She did make an impact and it showed her heart.  I recommend looking up her website, put together as a memorial to her.  It will show how many people she touched.
Fear No Art.
We all hear of that saying but how many people care what it means or why it's necessary.
Artists of all media reflect the world around them, showing what we love, hate or hope for.  Many artists merely reflect the works of artists they seek to emulate.  The reason we should not Fear Art is that it also points to freedom… or I should say FREEDOM.
Every artist is pointing at beauty, love or another of the great motivating ideals that rule all cultures.  We know that even in the most repressed culture there is a seed germinating and seeking sunlight, the seed is hope.  Everyone everywhere seeks a breath of fresh air or a drink of pure water… it is human nature.
So why am I going off on a rant? 
Eh, don't bother asking.
If you need to ask, you don't know enough.  Since you don't know enough, think about the ignition temperature of paper.  Or why soylent green is not a color.  I'm writing this on the Fourth of July.  A day of celebration for something long past.
I write a lot, especially when the muse grabs me.  The thing I have often wondered about my stories, as they go past a hundred thousand words, is why those in the story are somehow trying to save the world?  I've created a line of good seers fighting a line of wicked for control of the future.  I've created a kidnapped and imprisoned woman who guides an ancient House into a saving role in their future.  Another is a tale wherein a woman is the pet of two immortal aliens who need a plan to change the future of mankind, to save the world and all free humans.
The same type of thing evolves in the books I have epublished and will soon put out as Smashwords editions.
So, dropping the rant, I go back to Jo Clayton and the next book Ghosthunt.
Unfortunately I can't read someone else's book and write my own so I go back and forth, a lot.