First, I must apologize to readers for the sporadic nature of this blog this past couple months. Life intervened, plain and simple. I'll do my best to correct the issue.
I'd like to introduce a fellow YA Enthusiast and YA Author CK Green. She's pretty new to the scene, and knows how life can intervene when you're trying to keep a writer's life on track.
ME: Let's get to the good stuff! May is loaded with all kinds of interesting holidays (Cinco de Mayo (5th), Mother’s Day (9th), Armed Forces Day (15th), Memorial Day (24th)). May 5th marks a unique voluntarily celebrated holiday recognizing the Mexican efforts against the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1962 under General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. This battle is legendary because since that time, not one country in the Americas has been invaded by another continent. Do you and/or your friends celebrate this holiday? Why or why not? If so, how do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
CK: Fiesta! Cinco de Mayo! Actually, I have to admit we really don’t celebrate this holiday these days. I suppose when my husband and I were younger we’d go out with friends. I’m originally from California so there were things going on for Cinco de Mayo—parades and festivals, etc…But now that I’m in NC…not so much.
ME: Mother’s Day has become as commercialized as other holidays, but, as far as I can tell, no one seems to mind. Some mothers prefer flowers, some a nice meal, while others prefer gifts like time alone. If you are a mother or wish you were one, what would be your ultimate gift on Mother’s Day? Do (would) you prefer your gifts bought or handmade?
CK: I tell my kids what mothers really want on Mother’s Day is to be remembered. I hope as they get older that they will remember that. For now they make me homemade cards and gifts and I love that. My husband will usually buy me something I really want. This year it was one of those small video cameras (which I love). And what do I use it for? Mostly recording my kids. So, it’s a great Mother’s Day gift. ;)
ME: With the situation in the Middle East, more and more people feel the need to demonstrate their support for the troops. Are you among them? Why or why not? If so, what do you, or have you done to show your support? (If you’re not, that’s okay!) Will you be doing anything special on Armed Forces Day?
CK: We are definitely supporters of the troops. My husband was in the army during the first Middle East action back in the ‘90’s. It’s important no matter what your politics are to support those guys. They need to know they are appreciated for putting their lives on the line. We do send packages and write letters to those serving overseas.
ME: Many people make a point to care for the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day, or have parties and picnics to celebrate them. What about you? What, if any, Memorial Day traditions do you have?
CK: Well, we really don’t have any family graves to take care of since we moved to the East Coast five years ago. I do talk with my children about the meaning behind the holiday and our family members come over and we have a bar-b-que. Babies, crying, hamburgers. Great fun all around.
ME: There are several games on Facebook (and maybe other social networking sites) that advertise about turning your image into a cartoon avatar, and these next questions find their roots there, but character has been substituted for avatar. If you wrote yourself as a character, who would you be if someone other than yourself? Would you have the same name, physical attributes, anatomy or would everything change? What would your name be and what would your character-self look like? Would you be the heroine or the hero? Why?
CK: Oh, wow, let me see. Not that I don’t like myself or anything…but…it’s fun to create and imagine, isn’t it? I’d love to make myself taller, thinner and have lovely brunette hair. My name, hmm, I like using initials. It makes me seem much more mysterious. Definitely Heroine. Well, it’s quite depressing to think you aren’t the heroine of your own story, now wouldn’t it?
ME: What about your personality and traits? What would you change and what would you keep? What new traits would you give your character-self and why those traits?
CK: I love my sense of humor. I’d have to keep that just to stay sane. Maybe I’d be more outgoing—not annoyingly so—but I tend to be more reserved among new acquaintances.
ME: When would you exist? Would you go back in time, stay in the present, or jump into the future? What time period would you pick and why?
CK: This is a great question. I love historical time periods. Hey, that’s why I have the history degree, right? Time travel is a fun idea. It’s better than jumping to a new period and being stuck. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I like indoor plumbing and the idea that everyone washes daily. I’m such a Jane Austen fan and love all things British that I’d probably love to visit 19th century England.
ME: What type of story would it be (other than historical, contemporary or futuristic)?
CK: An adventure/romantic suspense. Oh, and it would be funny. I got to have the humor.
ME: Would you have companions (family, friends, pets, children) or would you be the loner-type? What companions would you have and what would they be like? What, if any, special qualities would your pet have if your character-self had one?
CK: I like being alone as much as the next guy. Must be due to growing up the oldest of five kids. In this story, I’d need at least an animal side kick. Maybe a horse. We could work well together. And this horse would have a strong personality of his own.
ME: What about a love interest(s)? What type of relationship(s) would it (they) be? Would it (they) be anything similar to what you have now (or want to have), or would you be radical and change things up? What would he/she (they) look/be like? What would it be about him/her (they) that attracts you? Would he/she (they) have any traits you don’t like or would you make him/her (they) completely perfect? What traits and why?
CK: Definitely! The love interest and I would be going after the same thing. This would bring in the comedy and the physical attraction which would drive us both crazy. I’d be more of a rogue/thief character and he’d be the uptight noble. He’d be tall and handsome of course but with some kind a flaw. Hmm, like he wears an eye patch. It was from a tragic duel over a lady. When he lost his eye, she lost interest in him so now he trusts no women.
ME: We’ve had our fun now, so let’s put the focus on your writing. What is your main genre (erotica, erotic romance, romantic suspense, etc.)? What was the draw for you?
CK: As C. K. Green I write Young Adult with a romantic twist. I write with humor and like to say it’s something akin to Meg Cabot (I wish). I write sweet romance under the name Cindy K. Green in several subgenres (romantic suspense, Inspirational, historical, western, fantasy). I read so many different genres so it just made sense to write in them. I taught middle school for several years and love YA Lit.
ME: Besides your main genre we just discussed, what elements do you prefer to use in a story and why those elements over others? Any elements you would never use? Why or why not?
CK: I suppose my favorite element is humor but I already mentioned that. I did just mention that, didn’t I? Yeah, I did. I may incorporate other elements in my different stories but humor is always there in differing degrees.
ME: In your opinion, what author or story had the most influence on your writing? What about their writing or that story did you find so influential and why?
CK: It may seem cliché these days to mention Jane Austen, but I grew up loving her books and she’s been influencing my writing since I was twelve and started writing my own stories. She taught me about writing characters. She created characters to love, to laugh at and even to hate. Lots of good stuff in her books. L.M. Montgomery who wrote the Anne of Green Gables series (and many other books and stories) is another great influence on my writing. She taught me to use my imagination and create beautiful writing.
ME: While authors and stories can definitely influence us, inspiration can be everywhere for a writer, but sometimes specific people, places and events can inspire certain characters, personality traits or things that happen in our stories. In your current story that we’re promoting here today, Struck by Conscience, did any one particular person, place or event inspire you? If so who/what was it (were they), how did it/they inspire you and how is this inspiration reflected in your story?
CK: There really was no particular story, event or person which inspired this story. I was actually cleaning my kitchen (I know how mundane) and an idea popped into my head. There are so many stories and movies about the average girl and the evil popular girl who treats her with distain. So, I decided to write one about a popular girl who didn’t want to be popular anymore. Oh and she has a fairy with her too.
ME: Without giving away anything pertinent to the story, tell us about the hero and heroine (s) of your story. What do they look like? How do they meet (or “did” if this is not the first book with these same characters)? What are their personalities – Are they comical cut-ups, are they serious or are they a mix of the two? Please give us a little bit of dialogue from the story that can illustrate this. (Not much, but just a few lines and from a different section than the main excerpt – Thanks!)
CK: Charisma is the blonde, blue-eyed cheerleader type (though she gave up the cheer leading for student council). She’s smart, a great leader and she really cares about people (most of the time) and her school. Heath is dark skinned (Greek by ethnicity) and dark in personality. Think of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. They grew up next door to each other and were good friends until junior high. Then Charisma gets in the popular crowd while Heath was still playing with Star Wars figures. But sometime between 7th and 12th grade he morphed into some kind of Greek god.
“Heath, stop being like this.” I was a bit breathless as I caught up to him.
A small smile swam across his mouth. A cute smile. Despite that, I was still perturbed with him and couldn’t let the fact of his cuteness sidetrack me.
“Just let me tell you thanks…again.”
His smile dropped and the glare took its place.
“That’s two times in a row you’ve helped me out. I’m going to have to call you my personal superhero pretty soon.” Now I tried to smile.
Heath angled his face closer to mine and the nearness zapped my smile far, far away. “I’m no superhero. I care about you, and I don’t like seeing you around that guy.”
“Well, good because we broke up.” I nudged my closed fists onto my hips
“You did?” His eyebrows furrowed close together.
“That’s what we were arguing about. He didn’t want to let it go.”
“Can’t blame him there.”
“What?” Did he say what I thought he said? No, it couldn’t be.
ME: The main characters are usually great, but sometimes, secondary and tertiary characters are known to steal the scenes. Who are the secondary/tertiary characters in your story and what do they look like? What’s unique about them? What is their relationship to the hero/heroine? Have any of these gone on to become scene-stealers? If so, who and how did they do it? (Again, please give us a small bit of dialogue to illustrate this – thanks!)
CK: The main secondary character of the story is Dahlia. She is a faery guardian. You see all children have faery guardians assigned to them. It’s just that Charisma has been able to interact with hers all these years while most other children stop believing around the time they lose their belief in Santa.
Dahlia is hilarious. She has a way of telling Charisma what to do but in the end she has a knack of usually being right. She represents the parental unit in all teens’ lives. Kids in a sense have their parents’ words and ideas rambling around in their heads. In Charisma’s case, she has a faery whispering into her head 24/7.
“Risa, what are you up to now?”
“I have to speak to him, Dahlia.”
“And what are you going to say.”
“Well, at least you have a plan.”
A plan? No, I didn’t have a plan but for some reason I knew I was on the right course. Dahlia would have told me otherwise. I suppose she was like my conscience. If she lectured or guided me in another direction, I knew I was going the wrong way. This time she only joked with me. Therefore, she must not disapprove. She did always like Heath and it had saddened her when the two of us parted ways in seventh grade.
The other secondaries are Charisma’s friends, Deena and Avril, who will each get their own story eventually.
“Okay enough talk about your near death experience,” proclaimed my friend, Deena Walker, at lunch the next day. “Although, how romantic was Heath to jump in and save you.” She let out a dramatic sigh.
“Not romantic,” I corrected her. Combining Heath and romantic in the same sentence seemed—I don’t know—weird…wrong.
“Whatever, Chrissy. It seemed awfully romantic to me.” A second later Deena was back to business. “So, Charisma, it’s your turn. If you could pick anyone to go out on a date—not restricted to Stanbridge boys—who would it be?”
How did Deena’s mind always return to boys and the imaginary dates we would never have? Did she not realize the dangerous ramifications of the previous day? I almost died! But on another note, how pathetic was it that no one came to mind in regards to her question. I mean NO ONE!
ME: Let's keep it going and go straight to the blurb and excerpt...
BLURB: I, Charisma Mansfield, do solemnly swear that... I never asked to be popular. I never asked to be voted Prom Queen. I definitely never asked to have an invisible pixie perched on my shoulder whispering her opinions into my ear 24/7. But of all the things I never asked for, this is the worst one yet—when brooding but gorgeous Heath Ruvelas (my next door neighbor and the guy I used to be best friends with before jr. high) rescued me from drowning in the school pool. My already bizarre life would never be the same.
EXCERPT: They say before you die your entire life flashes before your eyes. In my experience with this particular phenomenon, I wish I’d seen something more worthwhile in the teleplay of my earthly days. But no—my life had declined into an empty existence filled with visits to the mall, dances, and high school basketball games in the greater area of upstate New York. And what did all that popularity add up to now? Nothing. I was still going to die.
Wait! I didn’t want to die. Help! I splashed through the water while my lungs clogged with chlorine. Someone help me!
I knew even before walking through the pool gates of Stanbridge Academy on this warm, May afternoon that I’d regret it. I’d like to say it was the still, small voice in all of us, but for me it’s different. Okay, who am I to judge. Maybe everyone has a little pixie or sprite sitting on their shoulder whispering to them day in and day out like I do. Maybe not. But I hadn’t heeded Dahlia’s warning and as punishment now I was going to die.
Brett Dorsey, my boyfriend, had been the one to bring me here. He needed something from the gym and so we’d cut through the pool area. Then I slipped on the slick pavement and ended up in the water. But I couldn’t swim! Brett knew that. Why wasn’t he coming in for me?
I paddled through the water as best I could. My head sunk underneath, and I struggled to reach the surface. A scream escaped me as I broke through. My water soaked eyes latched onto Brett’s form, kneeling near the edge. He would save me. Yes, it would be okay. And then, everything went dark.
I gasped for breath and coughed, all the while trying to sit up. Water leaked out of my mouth. In all honesty, water leaked out of me everywhere. I think I started to cry, but it was hard to tell because I was absolutely saturated.
“It’s okay, Laney. You’re going to be fine.” Someone whispered the words near to my face and then gently pulled me closer to their body.
My eyes flashed open. Had it been Brett? Had he saved me? Wait—he called me Laney. No one called me Laney except…Heath. Finally I focused on his face, his curly brown hair dripping at a constant pace onto the pavement beside me. Heath Ruvelas had saved me. Heath, who I hadn’t had a decent conversation with since the 7th grade. Heath, who I’d lived next door to since we were six. Heath, who’d gotten awfully gorgeous in the last year.