Four years ago, I was a brand-new writer with a partially finished manuscript and a desire to be published. Long story short, I became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), joined the critiques loop, and prayed for critique partners. God answered in two big ways. One is that I was asked to join a speculative fiction group with two familiar names: William Ramirez and Kristen Stieffel. It’s through the critique loops that I ultimately became an NAF contributor.
Today’s post focuses on “the other big way”. I was invited to join a group of fellow young adult writers. We eventually became The Scriblerians. I’m excited that one of my fellow Scriblerians, founding member, Cynthia T. Toney, has published two new young adult novels. The first is 8 Notes to a Nobody and it’s sequel, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. The first book was originally published under the title Birdface, and that’s the series name.
These books focus on Wendy Robichard, a delightfully hilarious Cajun girl who deals with serious topics. In 8 notes Wendy encounters bullying, divorce, alcoholism, eating disorders, and even suicide. While the subject matter is gritty, they’re touched in a gentle matter with a big dose of humor so they’re fine for young teens and older.
In 10 Steps, Wendy is learning to cope with a new blended family, her first crush (who may be interested in her – insert teen girl squeal), a dear friend with Alzheimer’s disease and her cute grandson, who happens to be deaf. Did I mention the juicy family scandal that sends Wendy on a wild road trip?
I’m a fan of character-driven stories, so it’s no surprise that I love these two books. The best part is that they may only be words on a page, but they’re three-dimensional. I love how each person evolves in the second installment. Friendships change organically. Wendy welcomes her new brother and sister with neither hostility nor “Brady Bunch” optimism but a realistic mixture of emotions. An older friend ages before her eyes. And family secrets come to light.
Hardcore spec fans may not find the Birdface series to be their glass of sweet tea but those of us who are fans of young adult fiction will fall in love with Wendy and her friends. Although, the principal of Wendy’s junior high was rumored to have a tail, so they’re not entirely devoid of spec elements.