Thursday, January 24, 2013

Writing update

It's been awhile since I've posted anything new. For three weeks in December to January the family was visiting various family members in the Northeast. These last few weeks I've spent getting ready for another busy semester at the university.

However, another reason I have so little time is that I've completed my first YA/teen novel, Awesome Justice, and am working on another, related one, Whisper to a Scream. Jenny Quinlan, who designed the gorgeous covers for my historical fiction novels, is working on a cover for Awesome Justice. I can't wait to see it - she is so talented!

Here is a blurb on Awesome Justice:

Straight-A student, Austin Justice is only four weeks away from graduating from high school. But after being outed as gay, he’s harassed by his classmates. When he's suspended from school for fighting back, Austin has had enough.  He goes to live with his sister, a college student working at a summer theater program. Pulled into the world of dark theaters, dingy costume shops, and free-thinking actors, Austin realizes that his whole life has been a dull performance. For the first time, he lives life unscripted, allowing himself to follow his heart and learning that love can overcome fear even in the most difficult circumstances.

This novel is a totally new direction for me. I've always wanted to write a novel set in the south, but I didn't want to write about race or slavery or the Civil War. The idea for Awesome Justice came to me after watching the documentary, This is What Love in Action Looks Like, about gay teen Zach Stark, who was forced into a gay conversion program by his parents. If you haven't seen this documentary, you should.

Shortly after I watched the video, two students, in separate occasions, talked to me about being gay in the south and how difficult it can be. I also had a conversation with an older student who'd been very active in her Bible-based church until her son came out to her. She refused to reject her son, so her church pushed her to the margins. She finally quit that church and joined one that would accept her son. The saddest part of her story, however, was how the son felt so threatened in Mississippi that he left to go live in New York. Now his mother hardly sees him because of the distance and the expense.

Another element I brought into Awesome Justice and Whisper to a Scream is the issue of sexual trafficking. This is a huge problem around the world, but U.S. customers and pimps play a significant role in this criminal activity. LGBT kids are especially at risk for being trafficked because so many of them are kicked out of home for being gay or run away from a home that is hostile to their sexual orientation.

Finally, I had such a great time this past summer being in the Oxford Shakespeare Festival and working at the costume shop, that I wanted to incorporate that experience into a novel.

I can't wait to share Awesome Justice and Whisper to a Scream with readers. Look for these titles in the coming year on Amazon Kindle.

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