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Guest blogger Laurie Lucking

Writing Tip — Guest Blogger, Laurie Lucking

Laurie Lucking HeadshotI am so happy to have all five authors from Christmas fiction off the beaten path guest blogging this month.

First up, Laurie Lucking returns for another visit. Welcome back!

What inspired you to write “Return to Callidora”, a YA fantasy?

Several years ago, I heard about a publisher looking for Christian holiday romances. For some reason (probably due to my love of fairy tales!), I immediately pictured a lonely princess in a snow-covered tower, awaiting her Christmas delivery from a servant trekking through the cold. I enjoyed imagining why she might’ve been kept in that tower, what her relationship with the servant would be like, and how her life would change when a knight finally came to rescue her. That publishing opportunity never came to fruition, but by then I had fallen in love with this story and characters. I was so thrilled when it found the perfect home in Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path!

 You wrote the story from two points of view. Why?

I did! I delved into the points of view of both Eveline, the princess in the tower, and Ryker, her servant friend. Originally, I planned to only write from Eveline’s perspective, but Ryker’s role is so critical and they spend so much of the story apart that adding his point of view allowed a lot more of the action to happen on-screen. I was a little intimidated since it was my first time writing from a male viewpoint, but I ended up loving it! Ryker has some of my favorite lines in the whole story.

You’ve written a novel. What are the challenges when writing a short story as compared to a novel?

I’d say the biggest difference between writing a novel versus a short story is the level of complexity. For a short story, the plot has to be something that can be resolved in a handful of scenes or chapters, and there’s no time for side plots. It also really helps to keep the number of characters to a minimum. As an example, my novel, Common, introduces at least twenty-five characters (that’s how many I could list off the top of my head!), while “Return to Callidora” only has seven, if you count the dragon 🙂 It all comes down to that word count—you have to cut out anything that isn’t essential to the primary plot in a short story, which can be tough! But it’s also really satisfying to complete a story in a matter of days or weeks instead of months or years.

I would definitely count the dragon as a character! Next question: What excited you the most about this story?

 The relationship between Eveline and Ryker! I’ll be the first to admit I’m a hopeless romantic 🙂 I had so much fun with the dynamic of this gangly but clever servant boy whose affection for the beautiful princess is apparent to everyone except Eveline as she dreams of her knight in shining armor. I hope readers have as much fun rooting for these two as I did!

 Since we’re in a holiday mood, what’s your favorite Christmas tradition? 

I love loading our family into the car, putting on some Christmas music, and driving around to look at all the beautiful lights! It’s a nice chance to step away from all the presents and preparations and just be together, enjoying the magic of the holiday. I’m also quite a fan of Christmas cookies 🙂

Thank you so much for hosting me!!

*****

“Return to Callidora” from Christmas fiction off the beaten path

Princess Eveline waits for a knight to rescue her from her secluded tower. In the meantime, yearly Christmas deliveries from her friend Ryker provide brief reprieves from her solitude. When Sir Batair slays the dragon, Eveline is charmed by the handsome knight but feels unexpectedly conflicted as he leads her away from the safety of her tower.

Ryker has been secretly in love with Eveline for years, but he knows a gawky servant and musician is a far cry from the noble knight of her dreams. Fearing Sir Batair may be less than honorable, Ryker follows to ensure the princess’s safety. But instead of Eveline’s home in Callidora, their journey draws them ever closer to the very danger the royal family sought to avoid.

*****

An avid reader practically since birth, Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. When she gets a break from playing board games and finding lost toys, she writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of fairy tale romance. Her debut novel, Common, won the Christian Editor Connection’s Excellence in Editing Award, placed third in the Christian Women Reader’s Club Literary Lighthouse Awards, and is a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards. She has short stories published in Mythical Doorways, Encircled, and the upcoming Christmas Fiction off the Beaten Path. Laurie is the Secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of Lands Uncharted, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. Find out more by visiting www.laurielucking.com.

Or on these sites: her blog, Amazon, Reader’s Group, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

 

Writing Tip — Guest Blogger, Laurie Lucking

My guest today is YA fantasy author Laurie Lucking. Instead of an interview, Laurie has written a post on authenticity. It has so many great points! Take it away, Laurie!

Authenticity in Writing for Teens

Laurie Lucking HeadshotOne of the cautions I hear most about writing for a teen audience is you have to be authentic—if you’re not genuine, they’ll spot it from a mile away. The thought makes me nervous! I’m not a teen, nor do I currently have any young adults in my family or close circle of friends. So will my teenage characters come off as inauthentic stereotypes? Will I distance myself from readers by sounding like a preachy adult?

But here’s the thing—I was a teen, back in the day. In fact, it was such a formative time in my life that I wanted to write books like the ones that shaped me in middle school and high school. As I write my teen characters, I can still tap into those memories and emotions. Even more importantly, I bring myself back to the simple but essential reminder that each teen is an individual. And I’ve found the key to avoiding stereotypes and preachiness is to focus on writing individual characters. Complex, relatable characters that read like real people. In the case of young adult fiction, these characters happen to be teenagers when the story takes place. But they’re so much more than just “teens.”

Do you see the difference? Writing how you imagine all teens think, act, and speak leads to characters who feel like stereotypes. Yes, many teenagers like certain music, watch certain television shows, or use particular slang. But not all. Some quote Shakespeare, some rap along with Jay-Z, others play classical music on their oboes or read every issue of Seventeenmagazine. A select few might do all four! So write your characters as interesting, three-dimensional, sometimes surprising individuals, not generic teens as you expect them to act based on news stories or the grumblings of older generations.

In a similar vein, refrain from using your story to illustrate how you think teens should act. As with characters who feel like stereotypes, an obvious agenda will distance readers from you and your narrative. Even inspiring characters must be written as individuals, or readers may find them preachy and impossible to relate to. Some young adults live very virtuous lives, and there’s nothing wrong with using that as a starting point for a character as long as he or she also has some faults, quirks, and temptations, with dialogue and thoughts that are realistic instead of reading like mini sermons. Or, if a character starts out in a bad situation and matures and grows during the course of the story, make those struggles tangible and multifaceted, not a straightforward climb from wrong to right. As many of us know, learning important life lessons is never easy whether you’re a child, teen, or adult!

All this isn’t to say we can lose sight of the fact that our principal characters are teenagers. They shouldn’t think and act just like adults, nor have the relative innocence of grade schoolers. The young adult phase of life is unique in its endless possibilities, intense emotions, strong but complex bonds with peers, and the excitement and angst of being so close and yet so far from being a true adult. My favorite part of writing for teens is embracing the trials and joys of that extraordinary phase of life between childhood and adulthood, and I hope that comes through in the characters and stories I write.

Now I want to hear from you! What do you find the most enjoyable or challenging about writing for teens? Do you have any tips to share? Thanks for having me today!

*******

Common-coverOnly one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.

Harbored by an unusual group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.

Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?

Common purchase links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07958ZV6X

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/common-laurie-lucking/1127863203

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/common/id1338176577

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/common-1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36755967-common

*******

An avid reader practically since birth, Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. When she gets a break from playing board games and finding lost toys, she writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of fairy tale romance. Her debut novel, Common, won the Christian Editor Connection’s Excellence in Editing Award, placed third in the Christian Women Reader’s Club Literary Lighthouse Awards, and is a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards. She has short stories published in Mythical Doorways, Encircled, and the upcoming Christmas Fiction off the Beaten Path. Laurie is the Secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of Lands Uncharted, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. Find out more by visiting www.laurielucking.com.

Or on these sites: her blog, Amazon, Reader’s Group, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

 

 

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