Today I have a blog tour for y’all. It’s for a great looking anthology of nonfiction stories, all about teen experiences of multiple authors. As a teen myself, I’ve been interested in the idea and I’ve read similar ones that made me really fascinated by this one.
Aside from the thoughtful concept, another cool thing about this one is that a portion of the proceeds go to Kids Help Phone, chosen by an author from the collection.
As of a few days ago, The Becoming Fierce: Teen Stories IRL blog tour has officially started! From September 9 until September 23 you’ll be able to check out early reviews of the creative non-fiction anthology, plus Q&As with the authors and guest posts.
Sept 9 — Nayu’s Reading Corner (review)
Sept 10 — Feisty Little Women (review)
Sept 11 — Words Like Silver (Q&A)
Sept 12 — Teen Librarian (Review)
Sept 15 — The Diary of a Bookworm (Review)
Sept 16 — Canlit for Little Canadians (Review)
Sept 17 — Canlit for Little Canadians (Q&A)
Sept 18 — Kat Ross Books (Guest Post)
Sept 19 — With Her Nose Stuck in a Book (Review)
Sept 20 — With Her Nose Stuck in a Book ( Guest Post)
Sept 23 — Glamorous Book Lounge (Q&A)
Life is fierce. But so are you.
Sometimes it totally sucks being a teen. Trying to fit in, dealing with bullies, a changing body, and the feeling that no one really gets it. It’s hard on the head and often seems like no one else understands.
That’s what Becoming Fierce is all about. Those not-so-fun times that come with being a teen but also how others have gone through similar things and made it to the other side. New and established Canadian authors share experiences from their teen years that have stuck with them. Some of the stories are dark and heartbreaking while others are lighthearted and grin-worthy. Regardless, they all have something in common: while things may seem like an epic fail now, they do get better.
Susin Nielsen, author of the award-winning young adult novel The reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, contributes the foreword.
Today I’m hosting a few of the authors for a fabulous Q&A about their writing styles and what impact they’d like to have on readers. Without further ado, the authors of the Becoming Fierce anthology:
What’s your usual writing routine? What about your usual process (outlining, pants-ing, etc,.)?
What’s the one character, concept, or reaction that you want your readers to come away with from your story?
Any time I don’t have a deadline or something that pays, I hit the coffee shop with a notepad. I keep a list of story ideas in case I’m not inspired by anything new. I do a rough outline, usually a beginning, middle and end scene, then fill it out.
I want them to tingle with recognition of something. Great stories are specific yet universal — a reader should see herself in there somewhere and be moved by what the characters experience.
Lee D. Thompson
If I’m working on a story I try to find an hour or two in the morning, shortly after waking but not before coffee. I never write for more than a couple of hours, feeling that if it’s flowing fast, it’s likely junk. It’s pretty simple: I want readers to like the narrator, to root for him, and to be brought back to those years. I write in fits and starts. I may not write for weeks or months and then it pours out of me. I’ve tried setting a timer, writing during a certain block of time every day, and giving myself a daily word limit. In the end, however, it always comes down to a deadline or an urge.
I hope readers appreciate the utility and beauty of their bodies more after reading my story, and feel like celebrating their features rather than criticizing them.
When I’m working on a book, I have a 1000 words a day rule, though I often exceed it. Sometimes though, it’s a struggle just to sit down in front of the computer and get something down. The important thing is to show up. I have learned not to stress too much over the first draft. Get it down from beginning to end and then go back and fix it in revision, is my (longwinded) motto. I do outline to some degree, meaning that I know how the story will unfold and where I want my characters to end up. I know the beginning and the end but I like to leave a little wiggle room in the middle for surprises to happen. I always do in-depth character studies and settings to help me get my head into the story.
I guess I would like my readers to understand that sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you love somebody, you just can’t save them if they’re bent on self-destruction, and I want the readers to know that loving a person like that is still worth it.
I usually get my writing ideas when I’m out for walks. I’m lucky because they come pretty fully formed so I just type them on my phone as I go, or I use daydreaming to my advantage to take it a bit further before I settle in at the computer when I get back. I find it takes the pressure off staring at the blank screen hoping something will come to me.
I’m still not sure what I’m taking away from the story and I wrote it! I guess I’d like readers to pay attention to the people and simple moments that happen around them every day. What I wrote about will stick with me forever. I think readers are already experiencing what will become lifelong memories and I hope they can appreciate them amidst the madness of growing up.
I don’t have much in the way of routine. I try to write whenever I get the chance, regardless of time, place, circumstance, etc. I don’t always succeed, of course. On a good writing day I’lI get most of it done in the morning. Lately I’ve been moving around a lot. Start at the desk, move to the dining room table, go to the coffee shop for an hour, etc. The frequent breaks required to switch locations are good for the mind and body. Plus you can get a lot of writing done when you’re walking.
I use index cards. I tend to write scenes out of sequence, often without even knowing the sequence. So index cards help me keep track, and can be shuffled around when you change your mind about the order. Also, I do a lot of writing as I edit. When I print out a first draft and go at it with a pen, that’s when I get on a roll.
My short is about my love of music and how it turned out to be a difficult relationship. The music and I weren’t always honest with each other, you might say. If you love and believe in something—music, books, movies, gaming, a political or social cause, whatever—you have to challenge it and question it. Make it earn its place in your life. I hope that doesn’t sound pompous.
I don’t work from an outline. My first draft flies from my brain and onto the screen until I reach a point when I have major choices to make. It’s like a small voice — a sort of back seat driver — that gets louder and louder when I appear to have made a wrong turn. Or, a better analogy, it’s like that female voice on my GPS that says, “Make a U-turn when possible. Make a U-turn when possible. Make a U-turn when possible.” I hear that nagging, irritating voice a few times and I’ll usually at least pause for a while and write down some questions, such as “Where are you going with this?” Or “What is this story about?” or “What is this character’s function?” or “Where does it all end?” I don’t have a certain page number when I stop and ponder such questions. But it’s an instinct that tells me, if I go any further, I will have gone too far without knowing where I’m really going. And that’s when, if I don’t listen to the voice, I can make some serious errors, keep travelling down a dark, meandering road that might go on forever and, eventually, I’ll just run out of gas, or my characters will just lose their way. Asking the questions is more important than how I answer them — and I always do this in handwriting, usually on a yellow legal pad of paper. Obeying the GPS inside my head is important. But, once in a while, it’s nicer to travel with the GPS turned off.
The reason I don’t outline, though — and I have tried — is that I find it stunts my creativity. I don’t like already knowing what’s going to happen. I write in order to discover, and an outline removes the ability to discover, for me. I would get bored, working from an outline. Sure, there’s still creativity involved, but it feels like paint by numbers, then, to me – like, you’ve got it all figured out, but you just have to fill it in. Some authors can work that way, but I’m not one of them. I like not knowing where I’m headed. I think you can see that attitude in the “character” in “The Long Last Year,” too — he doesn’t know where he’s going, and he’s trusting that that’s the best way to get somewhere interesting.
It might sound strange, or self-absorbed, or whatever, but I don’t write to elicit a reaction. I’m just trying to figure it out for myself — so I wrote “The Long Last Year” with the hope that I could figure out that period, and that moment, in my life and make sense of it now that I’m older and have arrived at wherever I was headed to on that night, in that year. So, I guess you could say the story, and the method of telling it, and the reasons for writing it speak for themselves: what a reader likely will get from it is that it’s okay not to know where you’re going — eventually, if you stick with it, you’ll get somewhere. And then you’ll go somewhere else. And then somewhere else. And so on. It’s okay not to have a plan, and to just be yourself, despite the pressure to always have to have a plan and be what other people want you to be. You don’t have to be anything. You don’t even have to be yourself. How can you, when you’re a teenager, when you’re still becoming what you’re going to be? Sure, be true to yourself, whatever that is. But allow yourself room to grow and, for heaven’s sake, be patient with yourself — oh, and don’t do anything so stupid that you can’t take it back. Sometimes that happens — so, let’s hope your mistakes are not ones you’ll regret. But, you know what? It’s okay to do things you might regret, too. You’ve still got to keep on going — and the kicker is that you will. And it’ll be fine. Or wonderful. Your choice.