Friday, July 26, 2013

Sucker Literary Magazine Volume 2! Plus The Hows and Whys of Writing for Teens from Candi Fite.

Sucker Literary Magazine, Volume 2 is available now!

When Alex’s bandmates invite a girl to sing lead, a battle of the sexes becomes a battle over something unexpected. . . A girl tells her friend about hooking up with longtime crush Fred, but his kisses are not what makes that night in his car memorable. . . A therapy session with Doug might just make Jason go insane again. . . Wallflower Aubrey hooks up with Gordon after the cast party, which would be fine if he weren’t the most forbidden fruit of them all…Savannah certainly doesn’t sound like a convict’s name, so maybe hanging out with her isn’t all that dangerous. Miki is committed to getting over Dex, yet she can’t get him off her answering machine—or her doorstep. In between puffs of cigarettes and attempts to smear lipstick on her face, Allie’s grandmother dishes out advice that maybe Allie should take. . . And finally, what’s a girl to do with Satan as both her boss and father? Nine short stories pose the questions we obsess over whether we’re growing up or all grown up: Who should I love? Am I doing the right thing? Is there ever an end to heartbreak? In its second volume, SUCKER continues to showcase the very best emerging talent in young adult literature and give (some of) the answers to Life’s Big Questions along the way.

Sucker will reopen the doors for Volume 3 submissions. One day ONLY, August 1, 2013. Find the guidelines HERE.

Sucker Free Day – July 20th and 21st

Get a free digital copy of Sucker Literary Volume 2 on Amazon.

The How & Why of Writing for Teens,

How and why do you write for teens? I've answered the question umpteen million times, mostly asked by non-writing folk, the Muggles in my writerly world.
The simplest way to write for teens is to channel your inner-teenager. You don't have to be a psychic. Grab a notebook and pick a quiet place. Maybe a park bench, a blanket spread on the grass or on the beach. Clear your mind, and conjure up your most vulnerable moments from your youth.

            Remember the day at school when you tripped running down the stairs, spilling your pile of books? Recall the flushed cheeks, the profuse sweating, and the racing heartbeat as you gathered your materials from the floor. What about the chuckles, snorts, and eye rolling? Oh yeah, the memories are flooding back, aren't they? Capture those moments, those feelings, and raw emotions. Now, without judging, jot down everything you feel, see, think, and hear. Continue to write until every single thought about the incident is on paper.

           Don't read it yet.

          Extract another memory. Maybe this time remember when you were dumped by your first real love. Gosh, do you recall the anguish? Those devastating moments when you knew you were just going to die. There, that's it. Write it down. Don't leave anything out. Remember, no judging.

Toss your adult self into timeout if you must.

Depending on the story or character you're working on, you may want to stick to a particular kind of memory, such as break-ups. Everything from your past is at your disposal. It belongs to you. Use it.

Now, go back and read, not judge, but read what you wrote. Highlight anything you may use for characterization. There may be things you can use for one character, and you can save the rest for another one in the future. It works best for me if I draft after these sessions, keeping my notebook close by so I may refer to it.

Another way you can find your authentic teen voice is to hang out with teens or around them. Teens may get creeped out when adults watch them, get too close, or listen in on their conversations. I blame it on the killer / stalker movies they watch. I'm an alleged creeper, according to my own teenaged daughters. You have to be sly. Consider yourself a secret agent, given a dangerous assignment, and proceed with caution.

Choose a local hangout. Order a pizza or coffee, break out your notebook (Look busy... remember dangerous assignment), take notes, pay attention to their body language, speech, and their interaction with others.

Write down everything, whether you think it's useful or not. Pay special attention to the quirky and unique, such as the way a boy blinks and taps his fingers as if he's in a rock band when a girl is talking to him. Is he trying to be cool or is he nervous? A girl clicks her tongue and tosses her right hand in the air when she's speaking. Does she have odd ticks or extreme animation? Keep watching. Does anyone have annoying habits? Adorable traits? Check out their clothing. Take it all in. Don't waste a single detail.

As for why I write for teens, it's a bit more personal and there are no exercises involved. I think the most obvious reason I write for teens is Young Adult is my preferred genre to read. They say write what you read. With each young adult book I read, my writing improves. My characters develop depth. My plots thicken. Beginnings begin to rock. My endings, well, I'm still mastering my endings. YA keeps me young, takes me to fabulous places, and for some strange reason, I identify with many young adult characters, which leads me into my next point.

Sometimes, I relate to teens better than adults. There are times when I feel like a teenager or when I act or speak like a teenager. Even at forty-something, I've been known to abuse the words "like" and "whatever". At times, I have a snarkish behavior my fellow adult friends don't have.

I figured I suffered from some weird Peter Pan theory, but then I began to use my immaturity to my advantage. Being able to relate to my characters is super important when writing for teens. When I wrote my short story On the Edge of Postal (Sucker Literary Vol. 1, Jan. 2012), I knew my main character Ashlynn like I know myself. I related to her in a thousand ways. She was a mash-up of all my sisters and I, and our dysfunctional childhood. I identified with her angst, her sarcasm, and her explosive behavior.

If a writer fails to relate to their character in at least some fashion, the character may fall flat, appear one-dimensional, and unauthentic. We owe it to our readers to make our characters relatable and someone they can invest their time in.

My hows and whys assist me when writing for teens. Whether or not they make sense to others is a moot point.. I don't write to impress. I write to connect, to reach out, shake one's core, and make my readers feel something. In the end, it's about the reader's experience, not mine.
Thanks, Candi for the insights.
Candy Fite writes everything from picture books to non-fiction, with a passion for creating stories for teens. Between second drafting her YA novel and shopping literary agents for her two picture books, she is working on a non-fiction book about rose rustling.  She is a member of SCBWI and the Brenham Writers Group in Texas. When not writing, she’s the busy mom of two teen girls, teaching her students yoga, and traveling and speaking for her rose group. This is her first YA publication. Candy Lynn Fite can be reached on Twitter @candylynnfite or on her blog at

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Neil Gaiman

So, last Sunday I went with my friend Megan to see Neil Gaiman at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. I knew he was coming, and I knew that he's said this is going to be his last ever book tour, but I didn't consider going on my own, because, well, it was an hour away, and I hate crowds.....  I wanted to go, but, I told myself, it would be too expensive and too far.  I can't even park in Ann Arbor, I'm that lame...

That wasn't the real reason, though. I'm a big fan fan of Neil Gaiman. I've read everything he's written, I love some of his stories like I love Ray Bradbury. Yep, it's a big deal to me. There's always a point in a Gaiman piece when I come to a phrase, or a paragraph, and I think, wow, that's so beautiful my chest hurts. And then I think, I'll never write something as good as that. I tell you this so you understand that I was afraid  that meeting him in person would be....  Disappointing?

And, you know what? It wasn't. Gaiman was lovely. He was two hours late, due to delays leaving from San Francisco, and waiting was hard. There were, turns out, 1700 people packed into the theater, and pretty much everybody was wearing black. Yeah, it was hot. I spent the time playing "What Sandman character is that person dressed as?" Death, Death, Death, Dream, Death, Death, Dream.... Coraline.... 

We filled out index cards with questions, and waited. He landed about 25 minutes after we were supposed to start.  In Detroit. They told us that we could only get the book signed, and he didn't have time for pictures or to personalize We waited. We ate tic tacs nervously. We commented to each to other that, when he got there, we would be sitting twelve feet from Neil Gaiman. Death got up to use the bathroom, and then another Death got up. We stood up to let them out. They returned, we stood, repeat. Repeat. Maybe she was Desire. Maybe he was too....  We decided our questions were stupid. We were relieved that he wouldn't be talking to us. More tic tacs  WE WERE SO EXCITED,

Then he was there. He was twelve feet away from us!
Can you believe it?

 He apologized, and said that he was going back to the original signing rules. He said that he had signed about 200 extra books, because he was afraid that people might have babysitters that needed to get home, and couldn't wait for the actual signing.He was very sweet. And funny and very charming.  He read a bit from the new book, Ocean at the End Of The Lane, and some from his forthcoming picture book, Fortunately, the Milk. He praised libraries, readers, and daydreaming, as well as his kids and wife. He was even kind about Harlan Ellison.  And he was incredibly entertaining.

Though he looked exhausted--and who wouldn't be? He made it a lovely evening. We were on the road home by about  eleven-thirty, but I read the next morning that the signing when on till 3am. Wow. Thank you, Neil Gaiman. You showed up, in Michigan, where nobody ever shows up, under terrible circumstances, and were kind and lovely. 

So, no. Not a disappointment.