Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Guest Blogger: KC Sprayberry


What can we expect from you in the future?

Ah, the future, always in motion, but I do have not one but two contemporary young adult books either completed or nearing completion.

The first is Take Chances, a story with school violence as the theme. There is a love angle, isn't there always a love angle for teenage girls? I don't think things have changed that much since I was in high school. Take Chances is the story of Julie Bond, a military brat who has moved with her mom to her parents' hometown, four years before the story begins. For the first time in her life, Julie has attended the same school from start to finish, if she manages to get through the last few days before graduation. However, there are problems. Oh boy, are there problems, like her BFF bailing on summer plans, to spend time with her mom, divorced from her dad, and having to sneak around to see her daughter. Or maybe Julie's "boyfriend," who is gay and she's helping protect him from the backlash if their conservative Southern town discovers the well-loved quarterback prefers guys to girls, who wants to announce his preferences at the senior class picnic the day before graduation. Or maybe a guy friend who lives with a verbally and physically abusive stepfather and can't take it anymore. Then there are two adults who are narcissistic and so into themselves, they believe anyone who doesn't adore them and what they do is out to get them, one of whom is Julie's mom.

The warning signs are there, but no one sees them until after the fact, when a small town is reeling from the loss of a beloved teacher, and two students. But that is only the beginning for Julie, who is grappling with anger and grief. She has to make decisions about her future, about how to stop the vilification of another friend, and what to do about the pirate hottie she's secretly loved since her sophomore year. She is also doing a lot of growing up, from military brat who only wants a single place to call home, to a woman willing to take on the world and change things.

Then there is my work-in-progress, Where U @, which is a novel dealing with texting and driving. This is a work so in progress, I have to get to the climax and end it, but it's going well. Trea Jones is from the wrong side of the tracks, and no one in Landry, Georgia likes her family. They blame her for the choices of her parents, and all she wants is for her daddy to come back, but as she starts her senior year of high school, and he does return, she changes her mind, wanting him gone. Why? Trea has finally come to the understanding her parents are only interested in themselves, in their own pleasures, and don't want her. She has a great guy, and is on track to be accepted to some of the top colleges in the country, if she can get a scholarship. Trea's also in the band, a band invited to play at Disney World, but she has no clue if she can afford the trip. All this happens around several teen girls giving her a hard time for where she lives, her clothes, her family, anything they can do to embarrass Trea, so there is a bit of overcoming bullying in this story.

    Why did you decide to write romance novels?

I've always loved a good romance novel, and most of my teen work has a romance involved. Teen romance is fun. There are no happily ever after forevers on their minds. Teens are looking to find out who they are, where they fit in the world, and a romance is a very big part of that. The special guy they want, whether or not he's part of her life at the moment, is a goal to reach for, a future she might have, or just a fun time. Unlike adult romances, my teens don't go any further than a kids – but it might be a "Roll your socks up tight and shoot them to the moon" kiss. I love being able to craft a book about teens not jumping into bed to prove they love each other, but focusing more on the reality of a strong, steady relationship built on more important factors.

   What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?

Both. LOL! There are moments when my family, those at home who are my husband of almost twenty years and our teenager, knows they absolutely can't interrupt me. Those moments are defined by muttering, some swearing, and long periods of staring at the ceiling, followed by even longer periods of pounding on the keyboard. Then there are moments when my men walk into my office and start talking without looking to see what I'm doing. They will say "Oops!" and back out once I stop typing and just stare at them.

   Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?

I would love to write in another genre, or sub-genre and I do now. I have work for teens in mystery format, or suspense. I also have several adult romantic suspense novels/novellas in the works. Then there is my historical and western work. These help me stretch my writing muscles, to improve them so I don't become stale.

   What do you think of critique groups in general?

This is a loaded question, but I truly believe critique groups can help a writer clean up important points in their work. This is a way for you to have other eyes on your story as it progresses, so you aren't sitting there at the end wondering why it doesn't work. I am the owner/manager of two online critique groups – Flying Wagons (strictly children's writing from picture books to young adult work) and The Path We Follow (middle grade through adult works). Both have the same proviso – no overt sex or cursing. During the time when I was in critique groups without running them, I often ran into writers who swore you had to use profanity, to the point where the profanity was more important than the story. That bothered me, especially when the writer would defend the use of profanity as being part of the world as we know it today. They claimed the "working class" or "poverty class" used profanity on a regular basis, and you couldn't tell a story of those people without swearing. I thought you could, and I resigned from those groups. The same thing goes with sex. Honestly, do we need to know every little move, every little action taken? Not to say there isn't sex in teen novels, but I believe all writers who consider using it in their work check out how it's done. There's no titillation. The characters, as a young writer participating in NaNoWriMo (the annual challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days) said, "We get what sex is. We know what we do. Don't bother describing it, that's a total turn off." Great advice for anyone to follow.

     Have you experienced writer's block---> If so, how did you work through it?

Of course, I've experienced writer's block. I don't know of a writer who hasn't. It's probably the most frustrating thing you can go through if you're on a roll with a story. How do I work through it? Read a book totally unrelated to my current work. Or chat with friends. Or just write things that will never, ever see the light of day. Eventually, the writer's block works itself out, usually with a very vivid dream of where to go next on my current project. The last time that happened, the dream was so vivid, so detailed, I climbed out of bed at one-thirty in the morning and spent several hours blocking the scene out. Despite being so tired my eyes needed toothpicks, I was able to continue with the novella until I finished it. This particular novella, Starlight, placed as one of the top three romantic suspense novellas in the Vanilla Heart Publishing Contest earlier this year, but unfortunately, it didn't win. Is it languishing in didn't make it Purgatory? Not hardly. I'm in the process of fleshing out some of the chapters, and revising so I can submit elsewhere.

     What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

Writing the story. For years, I had people tell me to forget this obsession, to stop writing down interesting things I saw. But the images wouldn't go away; the voices demanding they be heard had risen to a screaming pitch in my head. So, I had two choices – visit a doctor and spend the rest of my life drugged out and probably diagnosed with some mental illness, or write. I picked writing – it was a whole lot more fun than forcing myself to take pills – which I hate to do.

    Where do your ideas come from?

Lots of places. I do have a teenager, and like all teens, he loves talking. Little does he realize how much of what he tells me makes its way into a book or short story. Then there is the news, which is very helpful for coming up with ideas for young adult books. I also cast an evaluating eye on those around me, no matter where I am. You never know when an idea will blossom watching life evolve around you.

     How do we find out about you and your books?

You can find me on the web here:

Twitter: @kcsowriter
Note – JacketFlap is a social media group for children's writers. It's a great place to highlight your work.

   Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

Never quit submitting your work, but ensure it's as polished and publication ready as possible. Always read, and read outside your comfort zone. Discover new genres, review work, and brand your name so publishers can see what you're all about.

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