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Writing YA Fiction – Saying Something True About Love

I’m a writer because I am a reader. I love books. I love the escape, the entertainment, the new worlds, and the messages. Most of all, I love reading truth. No matter the genre, I recognize truth when it speaks to me. I cringe with an antagonist when I see in him or her a reflection of my worst self. I rejoice in the triumphs and cry for the failures of characters.

As a writer, I feel that I am responsible for every word I print on the page and send out into the world. While my stories are organic, and not driven by message, I still feel responsible for the statements my books make. I think about the ethics of my profession, and of my offering to the world a lot—and I haven’t even been published yet.

But more about that later.

Today I am babysitting for my friend’s three youngest kids while she gets LASIK surgery. In my home right now, I have my thirteen-month-old, my three-year-old, her eight-month-old, two-year-old, and four-year-old. Three in diapers and two in full-blown choking hazard phase.

They’ve been here since 7:20 AM, and I should be exhausted by now. It’s twelve o’clock, after all.

But I’m doing great. I feel refreshed and calm and happy. Only a small part of that is because my friend’s baby is a bundle of joy, and hasn’t cried yet.

The biggest part is due to my husband, Cody. He didn’t need to leave this morning until about eleven. When he got home from exercising, he helped me feed the kids breakfast, and then offered to watch all five kids for me so I could go to water aerobics for an hour and a half. He was persuasive, and I took him up on his offer. When I came home, he had put both babies down for their morning naps, and cleaned the whole kitchen.

This is true love. This is what makes me weak in the knees.

I kissed him, told him he was a rock star, and as I headed down the hall to make my bed, I thought how it’s sad that I can’t write this into my YA romance novels. And then I remembered what I said to Cody last night as I read him a scene with Evan, my current teen romantic hero.

I write Cody into all of my romantic leading men because it’s the only way I can understand real romance. I write men who are selfless, calming, validating, and who serve the women they care about. I write men who bring peace to the chaos of my main characters’ worlds. And yes, they are also handsome, exciting, and desirable.

Though it was unintentional to begin with, writing about love that heals and blesses instead of violence or domination or straight sex appeal has become one of my goals a writer.

When a teenage girl reads my books, I want her to see a glimpse of what she can really have. I want her to understand the power of kindness, and the value of peace.

Besides, it’s what stirs my heart. It’s what fills me up.

Discussing a scene that I finished a week ago, my husband told me that teenage girls would be DYING over the romance between Tessa and Evan.

“But it’s not remotely sexy,” I said.

“Depends on your definition of sexy,” Cody said.

“But there’s nothing salacious.”

“You’re right,” he said, “It’s one hundred percent pure. But the girls will die all the same.”

He should know. He’s a romantic hero himself.

And I love that a piece of Cody goes into Evan and Sheldon and all the teenage leading men in my books. It will happen naturally as I try to capture love page by page, and I remain determined to say something true.


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