Show Me the Romance

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Archive for the tag “YA”

Friday Frivolity: My next YA contemporary will be about band

Events are conspiring to make me miss band.

  1. My friend Karen found her cassette tape from our 1996 festival performance (my freshman year) and posted a picture of it on Facebook.
  2. I just spent my lunch hour scouring the web for an orchestral rendition of composer Basil Poledouris’s masterpiece: the score for the original Conan the Barbarian movie.
  3. The reason I did that was because I’d been listening to the music in my car and decided I had to ask my poor sister (Director of Artistic Planning for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra) to get her symphony to play this music. At least she didn’t laugh at me.
  4. Finally, that lead to me wandering around the CSO website looking at the bios for all their musicians, wishing I was one of them.

Band was Extracurricular Activity Numero Uno for me in middle school and high school, so I spent who knows how many hours rehearsing and playing in our marching band, concert band, and jazz ensemble. I spent so much time with it that by the time I got to college, I was burnt out and ready to let my trumpet muscles go to seed.

I’ve tried to go back to the trumpet many times over the years, but the problem is I remember how I sounded at my “peak” (I had a good, mellow sound, but not a good range, and that’s a killer for trumpet players).

Now, I sound like a dying cow for the ten minutes I can manage to play before my lips cry uncle. I think I’ll just have to relive my glory days (ha! hahahaha) by writing a novel about band. Just not right now.

But I ask you…how can any former band or orchestra member watch this clip and NOT wish they were the ones forcing this groundswell of sound into existence?

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Book Review: Wrapped

Wrapped
 By Jennifer Bradbury

Since I’m thinking about making my next project a YA Regency Romance (or YARR) (Mateys!) (Sorry, couldn’t resist), I’ve been trying to read every example of that genre I can get my hands on. The first one I read–The Season by Sarah MacLean–was so frustrating and condescending it made me wonder if the genre was fundamentally flawed, the casualty of tailoring a Regency Romance to fit YA expectations. Next, I whipped through a couple of chick-litty Regency YA novels by Meg Cabot that read well and didn’t reek of pandering to a younger reader (unlike The Season), but the tone wasn’t quite what I had in mind for my own novel.

Then I found Wrapped — a YA mystery regency romance with Egyptian themes. It’s pretty good, and suddenly I don’t think the YARR is so flawed after all. (YARR!)

The Premise

London, 1815. When Agnes Wilkins discovers a strange jackelheaded figurine in the wrappings of a mummy featured at a high society party, her first instinct is to hide the figurine as her own little secret. But then a series of robberies and murders begin to plague everyone who had contact with the mummy, and Agnes decides she isn’t about to wait around and let the so-called “curse” rifle through her wardrobe. She’s going to crack the secret herself . . . with the help of an attractive young Egyptologist who has a few secrets of his own.

The Pain

In addition to some historical inaccuracies and a suspiciously magical performance from an inanimate object (when the book’s world is a non-magical one), the book suffers from a slow start (I’m already seeing a YARR trend here  . . . starting the book with the heroine complaining about being fit for a gown) and doesn’t really get rolling until the first murder happens. But isn’t that par for the course in mysteries? Also, I knew who the villain was from the beginning, and I’m Ms. Oblivious. Whoops. Good thing this blog isn’t called “Show Me The Mystery”.

The Payoff

The hero isn’t a Duke! Or a Marquis, or an Earl, or even a Sir. Shocking, I know. As a museum assistant, aspiring Egyptologist Caedmon is decidedly below Agnes’s rank socially, but even if he’s a bit rough, he’s also capable and clever–and unlike most Regency Romance heroes, he hasn’t been under half the skirts in London. The romance isn’t all that strong, so I couldn’t bump this up to a four arrow. Still, Agnes and Caedmon are cute together, and combined with an ending I enjoyed (even if it was a *mite* improbable), I think I can safely say this one is a three-arrow grinner.
Rating:

3 out of 5 arrows

Friday Frivolity: Last Times at Childhood High

I have a bittersweet topic for today’s Friday Frivolity, so beware.

To write YA books, I have to do a lot of reflecting on my teenage years. That involves trying to remember all the feelings and experiences of growing into adulthood. Many of the memories are fun (I didn’t have an angsty adolescence) but a few make me kind of wistful.

This could have been my sister Tanya and I.

Have you ever thought about how many “last times” of our growing-up years have been lost to the ether? Most of us don’t keep doing the same things we did at 4, at 7, at 11 …  so, logically speaking, there had to have been a last time for lots of things—but they’re gone, never remarked because at every age, we sort of assume that life will continue to be the way we know it today.

For instance, I can’t remember:

  • The last time I played Dodge-the-Tree—i.e. sledded down the backyard of the house where I grew up. My parents moved the summer I was 26, so there’s definitely no going back.
  • The last time my two younger sisters and I packed little wooden Barbie trunks and pretended they were Conestoga wagons rolling over the great prairie (our green living room carpet).
  • Heck, the last time I played with my sisters. It must have been upsetting for them when the playmate they had all their lives suddenly didn’t feel like joining in their creative adventures any longer. I remember being 14 or 15 (I played a lot longer than most girls my age) and how my limbs just didn’t have the energy anymore. At least they made up for it by casting me as the mean old landlady in their new game, which could best be described as “Dickensian Orphans.”

Growing up is tough, and letting go is all part of the process. I guess my point is that even in adulthood you never know when will be the last time you do something you love. Instead of letting that be a depressing thought, turn it into an inspiring one.

Make new memories. Enjoy every second. They’re all worth it.

Wednesday Writing: Written Word Time Machine

Tee-hee . . . I have a new nickname for Tom, the nice, serial-dating heartbreaker in Broadway High. This nickname is low-brow and simple—so 7th grade and exactly what I needed, since my heroine coins the phrase after Tom dumped her best friend back when they’re all seventh graders. When it occurred to me, I felt like I was back on the green vinyl seats of the school bus, snickering with my best friend Becky. Ready for it?

Tom-Ass.

Heh-heh. (Shut up, Beavis.)

This is one of the things I loved about writing a YA book, especially one set in my own personal version of the real world. I had to claw back through my memories, force my 30-year-old brain into the thinking patterns and concerns a 17-year-old (or in this nickname’s case, a 13-year-old) would have. It was like stretching an old muscle, an adventure that often turned up things I had completely forgotten.

Even if you don’t try write much, or you aren’t aiming to write a novel or publish, try to write down a childhood or teenage memory in detail. Maybe it’s a funny story, or a difficult time, or just something that has always stuck with you. Whatever you choose, the act of writing it down somehow makes that memory come alive in a new way. Maybe you’ll realize you learned something from that experience. Or maybe it’ll just make you laugh (and make for a good facebook post). But either way, it won’t be a waste of time.

Heh-heh.

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