BLURB:One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.
Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.
Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.
Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.
With a foreword by C. Kennedy
Dreamspinner Ι Goodreads
“YOU LOOK like something the cat dragged in.”
“Thanks.” I dropped my tray down on the SJL Table and sat in the chair beside Scott. I also did my best not to look across the cafeteria at the Superjock Table, but I could still feel them staring.
“What happened?” So maybe, at the moment, I was slightly stunned and was having trouble believing Scott actually gave a shit, but I didn’t voice that thought. He tilted his head and studied me. I knew he was sizing up my facial injuries. “You got beat up.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“I know ‘beat up’ when I see it—personal experience, you know?”
“It was just a minor misunderstanding, that’s all.”
“With those guys’ fists?” Scott nodded in the direction of the five jocks who all happened to be staring at me menacingly from their spot in the center of the cafeteria.
“Maybe.” I bit down into my meatball sub.
This sandwich is not bad at all. I’ll be sure to compliment its spicy Italian tastiness to the kitchen cooks.
“Did they mess you up at basketball tryouts?”
“On account of the fact that you’ve been sitting with me at lunch every day?”
“Not on account of anything but their ignorance. I’m hoping that they’ll learn to see the error of their ways.”
“F-fat ch-chance!” David called to me from where he sat several seats away. “Those g-guys will never l-learn… p-person-nal ex-ex-perience for m-me too.”
“Well, I changed.”
Scott glanced up from his yogurt and raisins. He again studied me critically. “Have you, really?”
“I’d like to think so.”
Before Scott looked back down at his bowl, I thought he might have smiled.
As an author of both Young Adult and adult romantic gay fiction I have often examined this question: What is the true difference between YA and adult literature? How does it apply to my books?
To illustrate my point, please note that my adult book, Beggars and Choosers, has been a monthly discussion group topic on the YA Group LGBT Books, as has my YA novel, Not Broken, Just Bent. So, clearly, both my adult and YA writing style meets the criteria for being YA romantic fiction. In addition, Out of Hiding was originally intended as a YA novel, but the editors hinted that the characters seemed too mature for YA, so I decided to rework it to make it Adult novel. Interestingly, some readers suggested that the voice of the speaker, Philippe seemed very young for an adult.
One reviewer, Dani, on Goodreads, said about Out of Hiding,
It read very, very young and overly innocent, very YA/NA. The MCs are 20 and 21; Sophie is 17. There was sex, yes, but very, very muted.
And T.M. Smith reviewed Out of Hiding, as well, on Goodreads, saying, “My only complaint was the intimacy between the two ML. It was as if a tug of war was going between a Mature YA rating and a New Adult rating. I just wanted Kerick to choose one side or the other. There were scenes where less racy, more passionate was appropriate. But there were also times I wanted Dario to rock his socks off, and it didn’t quite make it there.” So, clearly, my readers, too, sense the “tug of war” between the YA and Adult natures of my writing.
So, instead of taking offense to these honest reviews, I decided I would learn from them. I did some research. I examined blogs and Goodreads’ discussions, as well as looked at the standard Wikipedia definitions. Wikipedia states:
A young adult, according to Erik Erikson’s stages of human development, is generally a person in the age range of 20 to 40, whereas an adolescent is a person aging from 13 to 19, although definitions and opinions vary. The young adult stage in human development precedes middle adulthood.
And of Young Adult Fiction, Wikipedia says:
Young-adult fiction or young adult literature (often abbreviated as YA), also juvenile fiction, is fiction written, published, or marketed to adolescents and young adults, although recent studies show that 55% of young-adult fiction is purchased by readers over 18 years of age. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Authors and readers of young adult (YA) novels often define the genre as literature as traditionally written for ages ranging from sixteen years up to the age of twenty-five, while Teen Fiction is written for the ages of ten and to fifteen. The terms young-adult novel, juvenile novel, young-adult book, etc. refer to the works in the YA category.
It seems that all of my books, so far, have generally fit into the Young Adult Fiction genre as described here.
In the blog “How to Write a Book”, Terrell from Columbia, MO, made some statements in his entry that hit home to me.
In YA it is a teenage voice that tells the story, and the attitude of that voice (whether in first or limited third person narration) is a teenage attitude: excessively concerned with subjective matters that an adult voice would not be concerned with or would have more objectivity on.
Teenage voices speak more as teenagers think they do, and not as adults think they do. Teenage characters tend to be concerned with what others think of them, whether they fit in, how can they prove themselves, how they are judged by others or by themselves, role models, how to cope with social pressure, parental pressure, romantic desires, and other serious problems. Unlike adults, teens don’t have decades of experience with such problems to draw upon. Hence, uncertainty and snap judgements are key issues at that age. – See more at: http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/difference-betweenya-adult-fiction.html#sthash.yFSrY278.zjYX25h5.dpuf
I completely agree with Terrell. It is voice that makes a YA book truly work for the YA audience. However, since I write romance, the question of sexuality often enters my mind as a challenging area. How much sex is too much sex for YA- and when does a novel turn the bend, sexually-speaking, into an adult novel? Again, I will refer to what Terrell says:
Finally, sexuality is different in YA not just because many adults don’t want their teens reading graphic descriptions, but also because YA readers want to read about people who are approaching sexuality with the same feelings and lack of experience they have. (In my opinion, reading YA novels is a safe way for some teens to explore and reflect on their feelings about sexuality and romance and prepare themselves for adult life, but not everyone agrees.)
– See more at: http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/difference-betweenya-adult-fiction.html#sthash.yFSrY278.zjYX25h5.dpuf
I believe that in YA sexual content should be quite reflective; not so much describing the titillation as the expectations, the sense of uncertainty—all of the emotion that rush in when a young adult person is experiencing a significant event such as sexual intimacy.
Another blogger outlines what, in her opinion, are specific characteristics of YA literature. In her blog, “Let the Words Flow”, Susan Dennard states:
So…I think the biggest differences between YA and adult boil down to:
. the voice
. the length (though that is changing these days)
. how the MC views him/herself in the world and reacts to his/her surroundings
. the depth of the POV
Dennard outlines her perspective on each of the above, saying that the voice must feel authentic to a teenager; inauthentic voice being the primary reason publishers reject YA submissions. I heartily agree that authentic voice is critical. The word count issue, I realize, comes into play here, as there are certain word counts considered more appropriate for YA fiction, however, I tend to tell the story and the word count is the number of words that I need to tell it properly. But in regard to word count, most of my novels are of appropriate length for a shorter adult or a mid-sized YA romance. The third point Dennard outlines is, in my opinion, critical—how the main character sees himself in the world. Largely, this is what a YA book is about—finding one’s place in the world. And finally, I personally need to live in the main character’s head in order for a YA novel to work for me. So, in general, I agree with all of Susan Dennard’s points.
However, I believe all of my books, YA and adult, share most of these characteristics. SO this leads me back to the question what is the true difference between YA and adult literature? And how does this apply to categorizing my romance novels?
In a Goodreads discussion about Young Adult vs. adult literature, of August 2013, Caity commented:
I personally have found that labels like Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, etc. are exactly that. They’re just labels, similar to labels that people face every day (especially growing up), like nerd, jock, prep, etc.
Labels are limiting, possibly stereotyping. I agree with Caity on that conclusion. She goes on to state:
In a similar sense, Young Adult is also a label. Sure, the writing may not be as poetic as Charles Dickins and the themes may not be as complex and deep-running as Crime and Punishment, but putting the words Young Adult on the cover doesn’t mean that it can’t hit home with a 50 year old Wall Street businessman. A less complex writing style doesn’t mean that the writing has been ‘dumbed down’ so that it is not suitable for adults, either. It means that the writing style is that which is readable and understandable by a younger audience as well as an older audience. I’ve found myself, as a 22-year-old college graduate, reading more YA fiction than anything else lately, because of the stories that are told and the way it lets me escape to another time in my life – and not all of my memories of my younger years are good ones.
Should we apply “labels” to categorize fictional works, and if we do, should it be more in the form of measures to safeguard those under eighteen from topics that they are not emotionally ready to fully deal with?
There are no clear or easy answers to the questions that prompted me to write tis post. So, I will state my truth as an author, and hope that it resonates with my current readers and draws in new readers who share my belief.
Having expressed my focus as a writer, I will urge you as an adult or a young adult reader to check out my new release, The Red Sheet. It is listed as Young Adult at Harmony Ink Press and it, indeed, deals with the struggles of two male characters who are high school juniors. The voice is that of a rather witty and self-deprecating seventeen-year-old boy, who has experienced a life-changing “miracle” that has forced him to contemplate every aspect of who he is. The Red Sheet deals with the topics of bullying, fitting into your surroundings, as well as making tough choices that lead to true change. It deals with the concept of forgiveness as mandatory to both the person who has done wrong as well as the person who has been wronged. These concepts are not just pertinent to young adult readers, but to all readers.
About the Author: Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them.
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