What’s the YA Story Behind the Hand?

This photo presents so many possibilities. Who is the boy? Who is taking the picture? Where are they? What’s the YA story behind the hand? Please leave your inspiration in the comments. Here’s mine.

What’s up with Braden? He threw up his hand just like he did when Ollie tried to take his picture at lunch.

“It’s cool, Braden.” I lowered my phone. “We’re in my front yard, not school. My mom won’t give us lunch detention for posting pictures of each other.”

He held his arms away from his body, like he was ready to cover his face again. “I don’t like people taking my picture.”

“You can take pictures of me. That’s fair.” Now that I think of it, in the two weeks since I’d met Braden at school, I hadn’t seen him with a phone. “And I’ll show you exactly what I’m gonna post before I do it. If you don’t like it, I won’t post it.”

He looked to his feet. “I gotta go.” He hopped on his bike and pedaled like a bear was chasing him.

I stepped out on the sidewalk. I could just make out Braden stopping at his new house, dropping his bike in the front yard, and running inside.

For more YA writing prompts, click here.

Author Interview with C.S. Wachter

So happy to have an author interview with C.S. Wachter. Welcome back, C.S.!

Why do you choose to write speculative fiction for young adults rather than adults?

I write for both audiences. My epic fantasy series, The Seven Words, is “adult” only in that it has some dark scenes. In a classic struggle of light against darkness, where the antagonist is a demonic sorcerer, there will be evil. Even the Bible doesn’t whitewash mankind’s violent nature or demonic darkness. But, because of this, some have found it inappropriate for sensitive Christian readers, especially younger readers. 

So, since I enjoy reading YA books myself, I decided to make my second series, the duology Stone Sovereigns, a Young Adult series. It was fun to do something lighter in feel and appropriate for younger readers. This does raise the question, ‘who comprises the young adult market?’ I am a senior and yet have read many books marketed as YA. As a Christian that label gives me the confidence the book, most likely, won’t contain sex, language, or graphic violence (though I have run across some graphic violence). I also think, having raised children, I have a soft spot in my heart for those teenage/early twenties years. And yes, my main characters (so far) have been male, another result of having raised boys. 

Let me go back to the first part of the question though, why write speculative fiction as opposed to Romance or Contemporary Fiction. I find fantasy to be a great vehicle for developing realistic, relatable characters in a setting that feels distant and unthreatening, and yet exciting and strangely familiar at the same time. Real world issues can be worked out on a larger canvas through a character’s need to overcome unique difficulties. We, the readers, join in the story and become armchair adventurers and heroes. And speculative fiction is broad enough to incorporate other genres within its umbrella. For example, I tend to include a romance or two in my books. 

You’ve hit on many reasons I think fantasy is so popular with teens. And by the way, I absolutely love the cover of the first book in the Stone Sovereigns duology. Gorgeous!

What do you think are the keys to creating engaging main characters for young adult readers? 

Round the characters. Flat or stereotyped characters won’t fly. Even secondary characters need to be more than cardboard cutouts. The characters need to be relatable. They need to experience real feelings: boredom, anger, pain, loss, sadness, confusion, pride. They help drive the story forward and keep the plot moving. Though teens are good at wearing masks of confidence, inside, they question themselves. I don’t try to use slang because I would most likely mess up and use it incorrectly, a big problem. I keep try to keep the language simple and not dated.   

What is the greatest challenge when writing for young adults? What is your greatest joy?

The greatest challenge is to keep it real. Young adults are smart, and they want a well-defined plot(s) and relatable characters with enough action to keep them involved with the forward momentum of the story. My greatest joy is watching my characters grow as I write. The ability to carry a young person through trauma and growth and present it on the page. Then, to have readers share the journey. 

What are some of your favorite young adult speculative fiction stories? 

Of course, I’ve read and enjoyed the Harry Potter series but I’d like to mention a few Indie authors you might not know about. Recently I have enjoyed Devil Game by Kyle Adams. It is not marketed as YA but the main character is a teen and it checks the boxes for YA Christian fantasy for me. M.J. Lau’s The Virtual Realms series is good and J.S. Worth’s Sword & Spirit series is a fun read. 

What story are you working on now? 

I am, once again, working on an Epic Fantasy series. It will not be YA, per se, but I will keep it clean and hope it will appeal to younger (13 – 17 year old readers) as well as adult readers. It does feature a shoulder dragon named Willow as well as human characters, elves, giants, and Shadow Shifters. So this will be my most fantastical story yet! 

Thanks so much for doing an interview with me. Great to have you back! If you’d like to read C.S.’s previous interview, click here.


Raised by his secretive grandfather, Pop-pop Ian, high school junior Lander’s history had always been shrouded in mystery. His after-school hours were spent in the woods flicking fire on his fingers, tracking Ian, or standing still as a statue, invisible, observing the wildlife that never noticed him. Until the day Ian dies. His final words direct Lander to a buried box. Within it, Lander finds stones that glow when he picks them up and a letter telling him to seek out a man called Castor Elm. Alone and pursued by menacing strangers, Lander sets out on a journey to find not only safety and friendship, but the truth of why his grandfather called him special … the truth of his legacy. A legacy that will take him to the center of the earth.


C. S. Wachter lives in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with her husband Joe, one German Shepherd, and three cats. She and Joe have been married for more than forty years and have three sons, one grandson and one granddaughter. 

Ms. Wachter earned her degree in Performing Arts and English Education from Rowan University in 1975. She compares developing a character’s perspective to preparing for an acting role. As a life-long lover of books, she has read and enjoyed a variety of genres. However, after reading J. R. R. Tolkien in middle school her favorite has been, and remains to this day, Fantasy with a Christian perspective. 

You can follow C.S. at her website, blog, Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, MeWe, and Twitter

Published Works


The Seven Words Epic Fantasy series 

The Sorcerer’s Bane (Indies Today 2020 award winner in Religion)

The Light Arises

The Deceit of Darkness

The Light Unbound


“Demon’s Legacy: A Worlds of Ochen Short Story” (based on The Seven Words series) 

A Weight of Reckoning (sequel to The Seven Words series)


Stone Sovereigns YA Fantasy duology

Lander’s Legacy

Lander’s Choice 

Various Flash Fiction pieces for Havok and in their anthology Stories That Sing

What’s the Story Behind This Face?

This month’s theme is YA fiction. For my first prompt, I have this photo of a teen girl. What’s the story behind this face? She’s upset or angry about something. So upset that she’s stopped her scooter in the middle of a narrow bridge. Or maybe she’s upset because her scooter broke down in the middle of a narrow bridge.

You decide what’s the story behind this face. Here’s my inspiration:

I’m done. Not one more lesson or practice or event. I don’t care if my parents got me this stupid scooter so I can take myself to all my appointments. I can’t do one more thing.

Mrs. Halloran and another middle-aged lady stand at the bottom of the bridge, staring at me.

“Ginny?” calls Mrs. Halloran.

I stare back. So what if it’s rude? So what if I back up all the traffic on this bridge? A video of me will go viral–“Girl Has Nervous Breakdown on 3rd Street Pedestrian Bridge”–and at least that’ll be something different in my life from soccer practice and guitar lessons.

For more prompts for YA fiction, click here.

Where the Lilies Bloom by Bill and Vera Cleaver

This month I’m celebrating YA fiction with posts, prompts, and guest bloggers all dealing with the genre I write. I had a tough time picking a book to highlight, and then I remembered Where the Lilies Bloom by Bill and Vera Cleaver.

As a child, I was first introduced to the story through the 1974 movie that was made from the novel. I only saw the last quarter of it, but I was drawn to the story about four siblings trying to hold their family together in the North Carolina mountains after their widowed father dies. I know what attracted me was the setting and people looking and speaking like my relatives. Appalachian stories have always snagged my attention, especially when I was a kid because it often seemed to me that everyone lived in cities, and that environment was alien to me.

At my first library job, I found the novel and read it. The story is told from the POV of fourteen-year-old Mary Call. She takes over her family when her father dies because her eighteen-year-old sister Devola is “cloudy-headed”. Her biggest help comes from her brother Romey, who is twelve. They also have to look after their five-year-old sister.

A Heroine You Can Root For

One thing I love about the novel is the character of Mary Call. She is an inferno of determination. Following their father’s instructions, Mary Call and Romey bury him in an unmarked grave in the mountains and then try to keep up the pretense that he’s alive they won’t get separated. But Mary Call also comes across as a realistic fourteen-year-old, who doesn’t understand much of the adult world. The kids’ lives go from bad to worse before Mary Call realizes that she can’t keep the promises she made to her father, but she hangs on as long as she can, like the loyal daugher she is.

A Setting You Can Live In

Another great quality of the novel is the setting. I feel like I’m experiencing life in the Appalachian mountains. To make money, the kids resort to wildcrafting, the science and art of collecting wild plants for medicine, as their mother had done. So the setting is more than just a backdrop to signal the poverty the kids lives in.

If you get a chance to see the movie version of Where the Lilies Bloom, you won’t regret it. It’s an excellent adaptation of a book, sticking closely to the novel and capturing its tone. According to Wikipedia, it was filmed in North Carolina and local residents were used in small parts. I love it when a movie uses authentic locations. Several years ago, the History Channel made about the Hatfield and McCoy feud, which took place in West Virginia and Kentucky. They filmed it in Romania. Huh?

If you’d like to read about another one of my favorite YA novels, click here for my review of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

What are your favorite YA novels?

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