Monthly Archives: March 2015

Scary Mary Review

Hello all! I found a YA paranormal novel that was enjoyable to read! Yes, the planets have aligned, hell has frozen over, Pluto is a planet again, and all that. This little novel is Scary Mary the first of the Scary Mary Series by S.A. Hunter. I must say, my nonexistent faith in YA novels has felt the slightest warmth of kindling.

Amazon: 4.3 (599 ratings)

Barnes and Noble:  4.1 (1208 ratings)

Goodreads: 3.6 (2690 ratings)

Synopsis:

“Mary has always been different. She’d like to be normal, but being able to hear ghosts means she’ll never be like everyone else. She starts her junior year of high school hoping to be left alone, but Cyrus Asher is new and doesn’t know or seem to care that she’s an outcast. They start hanging out and all is well until she goes over to his house. Cy’s house is haunted, and not by Caspar, the friendly ghost.

But it’s not the ghost that ruins the evening. That honor belongs to Vicky “The Hickey” Nelson with her borrowed Ouija board and stuck-up friends. They make Mary so angry that she uses the ghost to freak out everybody, Cy included. He orders her out, and Mary thinks she’s lost whatever chance she had with him. But there’s still the ghost to deal with. He’s mean, nasty, and possibly homicidal. She has to get rid of him or Cy and his family could be hurt. Or worse.”

Soundbite from the web:

Good: “What’s the best book ever? Scary Mary! It is a perfect book for all ages, especially preteens and teens. I enjoyed this book very much. At the time I was reading it, I was also reading two other books. I stopped reading the other two books because of how good Scary Mary is. It is the perfect book for any age!!!!!” (5-star rater on Amazon)

Bad: “Read it in one day–would not recommend. IT maybe a good read for a teenager, but there is not enough “medium” interaction with ghost and predictable.” (1-star rater on Goodreads)

Ugly: “Scary Mary is a spooky Young Adult ghost story that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end and shivers running up and down my spine. It freaked me out quite a bit at times … but not enough to stop me reading!” (3-star rater on Goodreads)

I say:

Mary is a high schooler, a loner, and a ghost whisperer. She fails academically, but I suppose one couldn’t blame a girl who is in constant interaction with the dead. She gets her gift from her grandmother, but Mary is extra special. When she is around, the ghosts come to….em….life and can physically interact with the world around them. In addition, a certain new boy at school is interested in her.

Mary begins to like the boy back, but an innocent ouija board party goes very wrong and Mary is blamed for the terrible things happened. Here, I thought the book was going to be the same, lame YA story. Boy meets girl, boy and girl break up, boy and girl get back together. While this does not happen in this novel, I’m certain it happens later. Instead, Mary must destroy the ghost possessing her crush’s house before the ghost murders everyone that lives there, all while avoiding her crush!

This was certainly an interesting book and I recommend it for a bit of light reading. It isn’t long, it’s not a hard read, and it’s great while you search for more book series to capture your imagination. 4 stars.

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How to Write a YA Novel – The Family

Previously, we’ve been able to flesh out our main character, but now she needs a family! Let’s start with the sibling:

Our MC’s sibling is younger than, or the twin of, our MC. Where our MC is boy shy, the sibling is boy crazy (or girl crazy if the twin happens to be male). Where our MC fails at life, the sibling succeeds! The sibling is popular in school, intelligent, and doesn’t drool at the sight of “that guy” or “that gal”. Such success garners the love and favoritism of the parents.

Now for the parents. Yes, two of them….for now… muahahahaha! The father may express love and favoritism toward our MC, but if he does, the mother must not! The parents must always be at odds with one another. This leads to death or divorce.

The parent that favors the MC MUST DIE (see below for the alternate where the parents divorce instead). This becomes a weighty personal tragedy for our MC. The mother takes her family and moves from the city to start a new life away from the sad memories, thinking that what her kids need is quality family time that will never happen and some fresh air away from supportive friends and neighbors. Our MC must cope with the loss of her father and attempt to catch the eye of her mother, and try to make new friends. This leads her to work hard in school, fight with her sibling, and make friends with a crowd of 100+ year-old teen-girl-hungry vampires.

If the aforementioned parent does not die, then he (yes, the father) will move to the most remote location and the MC will move with him out of pity. This sets up our setting of isolation and a new town. IF you choose to keep both parents alive, make sure the mother lives somewhere nice and dates a really great man. This will make your readers wonder why your MC left the comforts and luxuries and beachfront properties for the woods, outhouses, and >shudder< used-truck breeding grounds of the new high school. This wonder will fuel interest in your story and give all of your readers an instant connection to the MC. No teenager should have a happy home in your stories ever.

Your MC will constantly long for the luxury she left, but remind herself that a new life in a new place is better. And what better way to start that new life than by working hard in school and making friends with 100+ year-old teen-girl-hungry vampires?

In either case, the parent with whom the MC lives will not care for the first half of the book about how the MC spends her extracurricular time. But as the author, you must, and I stress MUST, have the parent at some moment confront our teenage boy-shy MC if she is a virgin.

To this, the MC must, again stressing MUST, declare her virginity to her parent and follow up by saying that the entire conversation just made her feel dirty and she needs to take a shower. THIS. MUST. HAPPEN.

Immediately following this, the parent them ceases to have interest in the MC’s love life and within paragraphs the MC must meet up with one of her love interests and make out passionately with him.

How to Write a YA Novel- Our Main Character

Ok, this is my first post since the beginning of midterms. In light of not having a spring break at my university, I’ve finally set aside this moment to teach everyone how to write the perfect Young Adult novel.

 

 

You may be wondering “How do I classify my YA novel?” There are YA novels, YA Romance novels, YA paranormal novels, and YA Paranormal Romance novels. So many choices! Don’t worry, they are one and the same. To say YA Paranormal Romance is similar to setting your novel in the “redundantly redundant genre of redundancies”. This first rule of writing YA books is essential to remember as we craft our novel together.

With our book successfully indexable on Amazon, it’s time to start with the meat of our story. Or in this case, the imitation meat. That’s right, we need a Main Character!! Our MC is, of course, female. She must be between 16 and 18 years old. This age is essential because at this age our MC can make important decisions in life.

“I’m sixteen years old! I’m not a child anymore.” – Ariel (Disney’s The Little Mermaid)

She must be old enough to be independent, yet totally dependent on her parents….excuse me, parent. Yes, our MC comes from a broken family. The father is usually the one who is dead or somewhere else and our MC and younger sibling (yes, it is essential to have a younger sibling) live with their mother. This family trauma has happened recently, just before chapter 1 begins. In fact, this is why the MC’s family has just moved to a new town. Avoid cities. Move your MC to the mountains. If you have to put your MC in the city, isolate her neighborhood immediately (few friends, no real neighborly connections, limited access to public transportation).

Our MC is socially awkward, but not too awkward. She may or may not make friends, she has a crush on “that guy” and she is exceptionally stupid.

 

Wait. What? That’s right! She is allowed to be intelligent. She is allowed to have a 4.0 GPA, but when “that guy” enters her life, her IQ should plummet faster than the drool can fall out of her mouth. If you are mathematically inclined, this means that if her IQ is roughly 150, “that guy” should make it hit a flat 0 within five sentences. Any slower and critics will tell you  that you are a wholly incompetent writer. (Bonus points if your MC literally drools as she stares at “that guy”)

 

Share with the world who your favorite YA main characters are and how their life was fleshed out on paper!

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