Sex in Young Adult Books

THE RISING-final coverI am currently writing my third and final novel for ‘The Painted Maidens Trilogy’. The first book ‘The Rising’ is available now on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, and iTunes. The second book ‘The Betrayed’ will be available this fall.

Without giving too much away, in the third book (tentatively named ‘The Taking’) the main character, Serena – who is 18 – makes the decision to share herself with her boyfriend. This is not within the confines of marriage because well, they are mermaids and they don’t get married.

I’ve done my fair share of research on sex in young adult books and am admittedly nervous to include it. I want to do it right. The best article I found so far is by ‘Writing Teen Novels‘. Advice in writing sex in young adult novels includes “how important it is to be honest, to be sober and to be in a committed respectful and loving relationship before you take the leap” and “girls should decide that they are in control of their bodies and of their decision-making”.

Another great article I found is by Amber Skye Forbes. Here the author says “Sexual experiences vary widely among teenagers, which is what is so great about YA literature. It encompasses experiences from a myriad of teenagers from all different walks of life” (like mermaids – LOL) and “sex between two teenagers doesn’t always have negative consequences”.

These are exactly the points that I want to portray in my book. My work up to the scene does include a lot of soul-searching for the main character as mermaid 2to why she is choosing to do this.

My next conundrum is how graphic should I get? I have to keep it PG-13 but I don’t want to completely gloss over the event.

One big benefit I have to this is my oldest son just turned 15 – and he reads this series. I can keep myself in check knowing he will be reading the book, but I can also include everything I want him to know about it wrapped into an entertaining fantasy story.

I would love to hear your advice on the subject – especially coming from avid readers, other YA authors, parents, and even teens. What lessons should I preach (without sounding too preachy, of course)? How graphic can I get? What were some of your favorite YA books that touched this subject?

Audiobook Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.

With five sets to giveaway, and six people that entered, I couldn’t just turn one person down!  Congratulations!  You are all winners. I will be contacting you via email…

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a great holiday season. As a way to welcome all of my great new followers, and to thank air audio cover amazonwater audio cover on amazonall of my long-time followers, I am giving away five copies of the first two audio books of the Akasha Series.  To enter to win ‘Water’ and ‘Air’, you must follow my blog by email (if you haven’t already – sign up over there on the right). Then comment below with the best thing that happened to you in 2013, and be sure to include a way to contact you in case you win.

I’ll start!  The best thing that happened to me in 2013 isn’t one specific event, but rather everything falling into place.  I am at a good place in life, with my family, my writing, and my job.  I work hard, but am starting to reap the rewards and for the first time in a long time, I feel like everything is balancing out.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember all the good points in your life over the past year. Because of that, I’ve decided to start my own ‘2014 Good Things’ jar, and have each of my kids do it, too:

 2014_jar

Get started and that way next year when I have this giveaway it will be easy for you to recall the best memories of 2014 – just open up your jar!

Now remember to comment below, sign up to follow via email if you don’t already, and leave a way for me to contact you. You can email me at terra.harmony11@gmail.com to send me your contact info if you like. The contest is open internationally and will close at midnight on Saturday, January 11th.

Good luck!

Akasha Uber-Fans

If you are out there…I have an awesome Christmas present for you!  Check it out:

   ornaments 1 v3ornaments 3 v3

 

Akasha ornaments – they are kinda cool, right? Please say yes because I made them myself. My plan was to post step-by-step instructions with pics that would rival any DIY craft blog, but things got a little messy.  You can probably get all you need to know from this:

ornaments 4 v3

And by the way, the wine in the back was totally involved.

So how can you get your hands on this set of ornaments?  Here’s how: send your answers to the below questions, and one fan who emails correct answers by Dec. 14th will be randomly selected.  I have to give my sincerest apologies – this contest is only open to those in the US. I just shipped a bunch of books overseas and those rates are killer.  So summing up; answer questions by Dec. 14th, US only. Send an email to: terra.harmony11@gmail.com.

Question 1 from ‘Water’: How did Shawn manage to overtake Kaitlyn and Susan, ending in Kaitlyn’s fateful trip to the Galapagos? (I’m specifically looking for the element used – you have a 1 in 4 chance!)

Question 2 from ‘Air’: What happens to Cato at the end of the book?

Question 3 from ‘Fire’: Where (what island) does Kaitlyn choose to hide from the rest of the gang?

Question 4 from ‘Earth’: The Akasha Series takes the reader all over the world, but near which city (or for bonus points, the exact location) does the final battle take place?

Hopefully the questions are fairly easy, it’s been a while since some of you have read the series!  Again, just email the answers to me at terra.harmony11@gmail.com, and hopefully I can get these beautiful ornaments to the winner by Christmas!

Good luck and happy holidays!

Killing Your Characters

character deathI am a ruthless author, and if you’ve read all four books in the Akasha Series, you’ll know what I mean. I won’t post any detailed spoilers here, but I can tell you that I have literally received hate mail for killing off certain characters.  I’ve received one star reviews because the reader had become so attached to these characters, and they just didn’t want to accept the ending I wrote.

To these readers, I really want to send a big thank you. Thank you for letting me know (in your own way) that you love my characters!  There is no bigger compliment to a writer. I, of course, apologize for throwing you into an emotional whirlwind, but I hope what you take from the series overall is an awesome story, and maybe you will have picked up some ‘eco’ tips along the way. J

I’m not the only author to tread these waters. Having recently finished ‘Allegiant’ by Veronica Roth, I have to wonder what kind of hate mail is in her inbox – and I can definitely sympathize with her. Veronica Roth explains her decision on her official blog here. Don’t read it unless you’ve already read the whole series!

My favorite quote from Roth during the explanation is “I wasn’t thinking about any readers when I wrote this book; I was thinking about the story, because trying to meet the expectations of so many readers would be paralyzing. There’s no way to please everyone, because that mythical book with the ending that every single person wants can’t exist—you want different things, each one of you. The only thing I can do, in light of that fact, is write an honest story as best I can.”

I agree with Roth – as authors we want honest but bold stories. If anything, The Akasha Series is bold, and I wanted an ending that was just as bold. For those of you that have read the series, please be sure to ask about the bonus short story collection. There is one story in there that takes place 20 years into the future, and it may give you some comfort.

Although I have just released ‘The Rising’ and am hard at work on the second book for that series, I have some exciting promotions planned for The Akasha Series in December!  Please stay tuned, and if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up to follow my blog by email!

 

The Painted Maidens Blog Tour

tour banner FINAL

TOUR TIME!!!

With the help of Patchwork Press, and a handful of amazing book review bloggers, we will kick off the Painted Maidens Blog Tour on October 21st. It will run all the way through November 9th with several reviews of the book, a character interview, an author interview, a dream cast reveal and a couple different guest posts by yours truly.

But the best news of the whole thing is that I will be giving away some awesome prizes; 5 lucky winners will receive a free e-copy of ‘The Rising’, one winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card, and the grand prize is a brand new Kindle Paperwhite!

kindle paperwhite

Enter Now via my Facebook Page

The contest runs from October 21st through November 8th and is open internationally. You can enter as much as one per day by tweeting about the giveaway. Click above to enter and good luck!

THE RISING-final coverThe Rising
Book One of the Painted Maidens Trilogy

Fifteen-year-old Serena is the youngest member of a dying race. The increasing acidity of the ocean is destroying her home, slowly eating away at the once thriving underwater landscape. But since the night of Serena’s birth, it is an outside force that most threatens their dwindling population. Werewolves, who once served as protectors for mermaids in the Kingdom of the Undine, now seek to eliminate all who dwell in the ocean—and Serena is about to find herself right in the middle of the deadly conflict.

Given the title of Werewolf Liaison, Serena is determined to make things right for her people. When she ventures to The Dry, she meets Liam, the werewolf with hazel eyes, and her whole world gets turned upside down.  As Serena discovers the real history between werewolves and mermaids, she is left wondering who her true enemies are.

Add to your Goodreads TBR list now!
Pre-order on iTunes, B&N, or Smashwords.

Akasha Series Book Trailer

Some exciting stuff happening over the next month, and no – I’m not talking about Congress finally passing a budget.  I’m talking about ‘The Rising’, baby!  If you missed the cover reveal and blurb, click here. ARCs are now available via NetGalley (if you request a copy of the book and are denied, just email me and let me know – I’ll make sure you get a copy). The blog tour starts on Oct. 21 and goes through Nov. 9th, where I’ll be giving away several e-copies of ‘The Rising’, plus a grand prize of a Kindle Paperwhite. If you haven’t already, sign up to receive my blog posts via email (over on the right), so you don’t miss out on this contest.

Finally – something fun for The Akasha Series fans – a new book trailer!  See below and let me know what you think!  It was put together by Kellie Sheridan of Patchwork Press (thanks, Kellie!) and the vocals are by Emily Gittelman, the narrator that did the entire Akasha Series on audiobook!

My Journey from Scrap Paper to Novel; Six Times Over

Several days ago, I clicked ‘save’ then closed the document on the first draft of my sixth novel. ‘The Rising; Book One of the Painted Maidens Trilogy’ is now with my awesome editing team, and an equally awesome bunch of beta readers.  I welcome the break as I wait for the feedback, but my fingers can’t stay idle for long – it is a curse and a blessing.  They itch to get back to the keyboard.

I’ve already started on the second book of the trilogy, but want to take some time to reflect on my writing journey, and how it came to be.  My first novel, ‘Water, Book One of the Akasha Series’, took nearly ten years to write.  It started in high school, when I would be stuck in class daydreaming. I daydreamed of a cute boy coming into the classroom to sweep me off my feet. I’d dream of an equally cute villain coming into the classroom to take us all hostage. I dreamed of fighting the snobby girl next to me. How would I react? What would I do?

I went through the same daydreams over and over in my head, changing minor details until the scene was perfect – then I’d go over it again. I couldn’t stop. Finally, in order to keep some level of sanity, I began writing them down. They were just scenes; not even complete short stories. It worked well in class, I looked like a very studious note-taker.

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I graduated high school and tried my hand at college. It was…boring. So, I joined the Marine Corps. Boot camp wasn’t so boring. And neither was the first two years in the corps.  But things settled down, and the daydreams started as once again, I sat behind a desk, this time at work but in cammies and boots. I can’t sit still for long.

I got married, had a child, and went back to school to earn my bachelor’s degree. I also resumed writing.

 

After five years, I left the corps for a career in the translation business.  The job was good, but I still continued to write.  Eventually, I took all these little ‘scenes’, saved in a folder from my high school years, and melded them into a story. I typed them up, working on my lunch break at work, in the early morning, or in the evenings.

IMG_3576In September of 2011, more than ten years after I started, my first novel was finished. My second novel, ‘Air’, only took two months. Since then, it has been a whirlwind of writing, editing, and marketing. I have six books and seven short stories to my name, and I still have so much to learn and do. The ideas are still flowing – I’m not sure I will ever be done writing.

One thing I’ve learned from writing on scrap paper, literally on the back of my biology notes, and eventually turning them into an actual published novel – even if it takes ten years, never give up!

Keep pushing for your dreams. If you never quite get there; the journey itself will be worth it.

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Water Cover Image_FinalAir Cover ImageFire V2earth cover hand biggerThe Kindred Curse Cover

‘Water’ Now Available as an Audiobook

Very exciting news!  ‘Water, Book One of the Akasha Series’ is now available as an audio book via Amazon, Audible, and iTunes!  The rest of the series is already in production.  You can purchase or listen to a sample of ‘Water’ right here.

audio water picture

I want to send a special thanks to my narrator, Emily Gittelman, who was patient enough with a newbie to get me through the process, then take on three more books!  I am so impressed, I decided I had to share her with you all! Below is Emily’s interview – and seriously, let me know what you think about the audio book!

gittelman.e.72.2Terra:  Thanks so much for doing the interview with me!  I know you are busy – speaking of, what keeps you busy these days?

Emily: Audiobooks keep me very busy. I started out doing it part time last year, but it’s become my full time job. I’m also an actress, so I sometimes have auditions to go to and projects I’m working on.

T: Which job(s) do you enjoy doing best and why?

E: I’m lucky that I love all my jobs. I can’t think of anything better than making a living doing what I love: acting and narrating audiobooks.

T: As if being a narrator/actress/author doesn’t keep you busy enough, what do you do in your spare time?

E: I’m an avid reader, which is what drew me to audiobooks in the first place. I like to be informed, so I read four newspapers every day. I love to travel, though I haven’t been able to recently. I spent most of 2010 traveling in Europe. I lived in London and Prague each for four months and went on weekend trips to other countries for a total of 23 countries in Europe. I kind of miss it, but traveling that much is exhausting. I also spend time with my wonderful boyfriend, who lives with me in Los Angeles. And I occasionally LARP on weekends (I’m a bit of a nerd).

T: You are finished with narrating ‘Water, Book One of the Akasha Series’ and are gearing up for the rest. Maybe you can tell us a little about why doing audio books, even for Indie authors, is a good idea?

E: Well, I love listening to audiobooks myself. There’s something about having a book read to you that just makes it come alive (with the right narrator). For me, narrating audiobooks is just acting with my voice. I love scenes that are really emotional or dramatic because it allows me to really get into the moment and express the emotions the characters are experiencing with my voice.

T: Any advice to give authors when they are ready to do an audio book – or even what to keep in mind as they are writing their novels?

E: Make sure you find a narrator who brings your imagination to life. This is especially important with a first person narrative, where the narrator’s voice is the character’s voice. Also, if you can, try to put together a budget for your project. Most of the more professional narrators won’t do a royalty share unless the book is selling really well. For the sake of quality, it’s worth raising the money to pay for a decent narrator.

T: Now the fun stuff – tea or coffee, Coke or Pepsi?

E: Er… None of the above. I don’t drink caffeine or soda… sorry!

T: You live in New York (right?)? What is life in the Big Apple like, especially for your line of work?  Give us all the glamour and the down and dirty!

E: I grew up in NY, but I moved out to Los Angeles about a year and a half ago. I very much enjoyed living in NY. It has a certain energy to it that you can’t find anywhere else. And I loved being able to walk almost everywhere. The thing I miss most about NY is public transportation. Traffic in LA is awful.

T: Favorite TV shows/movies/plays?

E: I’m not a big favorites person. I don’t usually have one thing that sticks out above all others. HOWEVER, I do have a favorite TV show: Six Feet Under. It was on HBO from 2001 to 2005 and in my opinion, it’s the best show that has ever been on television. It’s heartfelt and profound, full of substance, while still having moments that make you laugh, and some that make you cry. It asks really important questions that leave you thinking for days afterward.  I wish there were more shows like it! (HBO didn’t pay me for that. Promise. Though they’re welcome to if they see this.)

T: Do you have any funny stories about narrating? Or even in some of your other jobs?

E: … Not that I can think of? Sorry. That’s so boring.

T: Finally, tell us more about your books!

E: Well, this question has two answers depending on what you’re asking.

I’ve narrated dozens of audiobooks. Mostly teen or young adult fiction. I’ve done a lot of books with author Morgan Rice, including books three through eight of The Vampire Journals series, books one and two of The Survival Trilogy, and books one and two of The Vampire Legacy series (which will be released soon!). The other books I’ve done have been mostly fantasy or romance (or a combination). Lots of vampires.

While I was in college, I co-authored a few books with my dad, Steven H. Gittelman. Literally since the month I was born (August 1989), my dad has been volunteering at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, NY. Because of this, I volunteered there from the age of eight until I moved to Los Angeles at twenty-two. Our life-long association with the museum inspired us to write several books about the Vanderbilts. The first two books my dad wrote on his own and I’m credited as chief editor. Those books were Willie K. Vanderbilt II: A Biography and J.P. Morgan and the Transportation Kings: The Titanic and Other Disasters. The former is a biography of the Vanderbilt who owned the mansion at which we volunteered. The latter details a conspiracy between J.P. Morgan, the Vanderbilts, and other tycoons to dominate global shipping and transportation circa the turn of the twentieth century. After, that, we wrote two books together. The first was Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt: The Unlikely Hero of the Lusitania. Alfred was Willie K.’s cousin, and his story is one of lust, power, and tragedy. He was basically a playboy who, at the age of 22, inherited a huge amount of money. For sixteen years he behaved like any playboy would, resulting in the tragic suicides of at least three women. Then, he gets on the Lusitania and spends the last eighteen minutes of his life saving women and children. It’s such a great story, I’m currently working on a screenplay version that I’m hoping to get produced. The publisher keeps pushing back the release date, but right now it’s set for June 24th. The other book we wrote together was a historical novel inspired by Willie K. Vanderbilt II’s second circumnavigation of the globe in 1933. That one is being privately published by the museum, and will hopefully come out soon.

The works I’ve authored, edited, and narrated, can all be found by searching my name on amazon.

About Emily:

Emily Gittelman grew up in New York and received her BFA in drama from New York University in 2011. Shortly after graduation, she moved out to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting under the name Emily Lawrence. More information about her acting career can be found on her website at www.emilylawrence.com. In the last year, Emily has narrated dozens of audiobooks, which can be found on audible and amazon. In addition to this, she’s also a published writer and editor of mostly non-fictional works. She writes creatively in her own time, but hasn’t worked up the nerve to publish any of it yet. Maybe one day!

Beta Readers Apply Here

Just kidding, there is no application.  But I do need beta readers! I’m almost 1/3 of the way into the first book of my next series, and I’m looking for volunteers to read an advanced copy (e-book only). I’d love to have a group of readers to provide comments on grammar, spelling, format and accuracy of text, and another group to provide comments on actual content, dialogue, plot, etc.  My plan is to have it ready for you in August or September; but there will be a working deadline of about 3 weeks.  If you are interested, please send me an e-mail at terra.harmony11@gmail.com, and I’ll put you on the list.  When the manuscript is ready, I’ll send out e-mails double checking your availability.  Unfortunately, there won’t be any monetary compensation, but I’ll of course send you a final e-book in the format of your choice, and if you run a blog I can sponsor an e-book giveaway.

The series is a young adult eco-fantasy.  Here is the first chapter, just to give you a taste (posted before, but have since made a few changes):

Chapter 1

mermaidSerena turns the corner of the thin, rocky path. Her shoes slide along the pebbles, almost sending her head first into the trees. “Damn things!”

She looks behind her. There is time; the beast isn’t yet in her sight. She slows down enough to slip off the shoes. The beast takes the corner too fast as well. When Serena hears the skidding, she turns and throws one of her shoes. A miss. The beast scrambles to get his legs under him and lunges for her. She throws the other shoe, nailing him in the nose. Serena laughs out loud, then resumes her steady running pace.

“I thought werewolves were faster than this!” she yells over her shoulder.

She doesn’t know if he can understand speech in his animal form, but he is angry. His growls tell her so. Her legs brush past the sharp, thick shrubbery outlining the path. Shallow cuts crisscross over her otherwise smooth, white skin.

Next to come off is her shirt. She throws it behind her, only stopping to watch the beast tear madly at his own face, where the shirt lands. unclasps the button on her skirt, but has to throw it backwards over her head as she runs. The beast is on the move again. He dodges the clothing, finally learning what to expect.

Serena breaks through the tree line at her fastest pace yet, feet sinking into soft sand and slowing her down. The wolf is close; she can smell his foul breath. The thing snaps at her, almost reaching the tresses of her black, curly hair. Werewolf spit flings forward onto her shoulder. “Gross!”

The beast is faster on the sand. Serena does not expect that. The greedy thing doesn’t even wait until he has a sure kill. He swipes at her when the long reach of his paw is close enough. The gash causes Serena to falter, and she stumbles in the sand. Trying to avoid the yellow razor-like gnashing teeth, Serena rolls. The beast rolls with her, unwilling to let go of his prey. In the split second he is on top, Serena pushes up and out with her powerful legs. The werewolf yelps as he spins, head over tail, into the water.

Rough waves topple over the beast as he struggles to get on his feet. The ocean pushes and pulls, becoming stronger and stronger, as if it is working against the werewolf. Serena laughs again, delighted to see the mighty creature out of his element, and into hers. He drags himself out of the water, weighed down by his thick, matted fur and gasping for breath. Serena passes him, keeping a wary eye out. Welcoming waves reach out to her, drawing her into their frothy grip.

Once he is ankle deep, the werewolf shakes his fur, ridding himself of the salty sea water. He looks out into the ocean, and spots his prey bobbing up and down with the waves, well beyond his reach. He turns his head toward the full moon and howls.

It is an ear-piercing noise that makes Serena cringe. She flicks her freshly formed fins, spraying water onto the hound. His howl ends with a sharp yelp.

Serena turns, flinging her body up then down again, diving into the cold, dark water.

* * *

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!

Cover Reveal and a Surprise for My Followers

Two surprises, really.  One of which is a cover reveal:

Akasha Cover

This is the cover for the ‘boxed set’ of all four books in The Akasha Series, which will be available for $9.99 shortly after ‘Earth’ is released on April 22nd.  The boxed set will only be available as an e-book, but will include bonus content – short stories for each of the main characters.

Once again, a big shout-out to my cover designer, Keary Taylor for doing such a great job with this series!

Now for the second surprise.  From now until April 22nd, anyone who e-mails me at: terra.harmony11@gmail.com, will receive a free advanced e-copy of ‘Earth, Book 4 of the Akasha Series’ as a .pdf, .mobi, or .epub.  The hook – you must be a follower of my blog.  Sign up via e-mail over there on the right, then e-mail me.  If you don’t hear back within 24 hours, leave a comment here to remind me (your e-mail may end up in junk mail and I don’t want to miss anyone).
Why? Because I love you!  Seriously, I love you, man. Also, I am hoping to get a few reviews up before the release date.  If you do receive an e-copy, please, please, please leave a review on Goodreads, Smashwords, B&N, iTunes, or Amazon.  Or better yet, all of the above, if you can. Ok – I’m staring at my inbox now, just waiting for your emails!