Tag Archives: young adult readers

Meet Author W. H. Matlack

W. H. Matlack, who has had several novels and short stories published, is the latest author to appear on my blog this summer. He writes in a variety of genres, including a recent venture into writing a series for  young children (see the end of this post for more information). He has another book released at the beginning of this month.

 What is the title of your latest book?

Latest book title: Grin of the Krocodil.  A new synthetic opiate has been discovered that offers a high that is hundreds of times more intense than Heroin. It’s also many times more dangerous than any other drug as it eats away flesh right to the bone.

Now a chemistry PhD candidate has worked out a formula that makes the drug safe and just as effective. As the word of this modification gets out both the US government and a powerful drug cartel become highly interested in obtaining the formula beginning a deadly tug of war.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 Most challenging is plot-line development. Character development is the most rewarding. I can spend all day happily developing characters. It clearly releases endorphins when I’m working on characters. Then turning to what these characters should do, or what should befall them, the endorphins evaporate and the grind of plot development kicks in.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

My top tip for all writers is to read like a writer. Go ahead and enjoy reading your favourite author, but the whole time be aware of how he or she phrases things, handles action sequences, builds characters and manages grammar.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m a third of the way into my sixth novel. It’s a bit too early to tell what it’s about, but it involves a pawn shop and a mystery gun.

 What do you like to read?

Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Carl Barks, Dashiell Hammett

Where can readers find you?

 On Facebook at: W.H. Matlack – Author

Amazon: http://goo.gl/jloZ8w

Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/ufLCJe

Email: matlackpr@att.net

Grandma Explains the Rain (1)



Are all book reviews equal?

I’ve been reading quite a lot about book reviews in various Facebook groups recently. One theme has been that even bad reviews can help sell your book. (I believe that JK Rowling has more one star reviews than any other writer, and they certainly don’t seem to have held her sales back).

To date I’ve only had a single one star review – for an anthology in which I had a short story (Mary’s Christmas in Festive Treats): festive-treats

Mary’s Christmas by Margaret Egrot relates the highly boring Christmas of an OAP in a nameless British town. Nothing of note happens. It is related in excruciating detail.

This review came straight after a much more upbeat one for the whole anthology, in which my story was again singled out:

Some of the stories are moving and heart-warming. The story of Mary’s lone Christmas, standing above the rest in the bunch, I feared another outcome, which is testament to the cleverness of how the author made the story unfurl, the resolution made me joyously happy! Margaret Egrot has written a truly beautiful story.

Just goes to show you can’t please everybody.

Despite (because?) attracting the full range of star ratings, Festive Treats has almost never been out of the Amazon best seller list – though the fact that it is free as an e-book might help!

One of my favourite ‘critical’ reviews was for my first YA novel, And Alex Still Has And Alex -coverAcne. The young reviewer hadn’t much liked the book, because she didn’t like books about topics covered by the celebrated author, Jacqueline Wilson. As many readers do though (including me) I was quite chuffed:

The book certainly shows the author’s understanding of the idiosyncratic problems which certain young people today (often described in the novels of Jacqueline Wilson) have to deal with.

Whether one star reviews boost sales or not, it is still re-assuring for an author to get a good first review after a book is published. So you can imagine I was delighted to get the following five star review last week for Cast Off, my recently released collection of short stories based on female characters in Shakespeare’s plays:

One word for this short story anthology? Original. Certainly an odd descriptor for a Cast Offcollection of tales based on the characters in another’s works, but Mrs. Egrot weaves intriguing story lines utilizing some of Shakespeare lesser known supporting characters, and spin-offs from his heroines. My favorite two? “Time Out of Mind” affected me on an emotional level, and “Ban! Ban! Cacaliban” left me wanting more. Each story stands alone on its own merit. If you’ve never even heard of the bard, and you were born in a cave and raised by wolves, you will find a tale here to fall in love with. Thoroughly enjoyed.

On balance, whatever they say about the merits of one star reviews, vis-a-vis five star ones, I know which I prefer for a first review!

All the stories mentioned are available from my Amazon author pages:

All but Festive Treats are also available from Solstice Publishing.


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Realistic Dialogue

Realistic dialogue is a make or break for most novels and all plays. If it sounds phony to the readers, they won’t believe in the characters uttering it. And yet ….

Listen to yourself. Most people don’t talk in proper sentences – they start and stop, jump P1000134between past and present tenses, and between singular and plural. They repeat themselves, or miss whole bits out. And interruptions rarely come exactly as we plan. Usually we make ourselves understood, but that maybe because our listener has a lot of other non-verbal and contextual clues to go on. And I haven’t even mentioned the ‘umms’ and ‘ers’ that pepper our conversations.

When writing, we may want to show a character as hesitant or inarticulate, but a reader will quickly get bored if we copy speech patterns too literally. Likewise with swear words. A character may use colourful language, but if every other word is a swear word, a reader switches off. Better to use a few choice phrases and descriptions and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination.

I learnt this the hard way when writing my YA novel, Girl Friends. Having worked for many years with teenagers and their parents with similar backgrounds to the girls in the book I was used to ‘f**k’ being the most frequent word in any sentence, and ‘c**t’ being a distant, but still all too frequent, second. When I started writing the conversations between the girls, or between Courtney and her mother, I wrote pretty much the phrases I had overheard. Then a (very successful) writer friend told me I would be lucky to get it published if I left all the swearing in. She added, for good measure, that she also found it all a bit boring after the first couple of pages.

So I cut out most of the swearing (over 200 ‘f**ks’ as a start!), and soon found a publisher (Solstice). Since then, several people who have read the book have commented on how realistic the dialogue is, and how well I must know what I was writing about and the young people involved. I’m pleased they approve, but the dialogue isn’t realistic really. Convincing may be a better word.


Girl Friends - cover






Happy Everybody Reads YA Sunday

Welcome to the last ‘Happy Everybody Reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare for 2016.

Recently I went on a screenwriting course where I was told that screenwriters often start with the last scene of the film, and then work on a suitable story-line to lead up to it. A number of best selling story writers do the same. The idea is to make the end so compelling, film goers will be desperate for a follow-up film. I was not, as they said in Dumb and Dumber, aware of that before. It isn’t the way I have written any story to date but I may give it a try in 2017 – who would knowingly give up the possibility of being begged to write a sequel?

To get into the spirit of things I will leave you with the last sentence of my two recent YA novels. See if you can guess which novel each came out of.

  1. So I’d better stop writing now – got to go and pack.

      2.  Now they would have to walk most of the way in the dark; but tomorrow was going to be OK.

Blurb re the two novels:

And Alex -cover

A. And Alex Still Has Acne: Life for fourteen year old Alex is OK most of the time. He enjoys school, has a best friend Sam, and a pretty and only mildly irritating younger sister, Nicky. But then Sam starts acting strangely, and so does Nicky – and both insist on sharing secrets with him and making him promise not to tell anyone. Then Nicky goes missing and only Alex feels he knows where to find her. But is Sam anywhere around to help?

Link: http://www.bookgoodies.com/a/B00RU1Y0G


Girl Friends - cover


B. Girl Friends: Nothing is working out for Courtney, and even Grace, her beautiful best friend has no time for her now she has a boyfriend who has promised to get her a modelling contract. Courtney senses something is wrong – what is Grace getting herself into? And can Courtney and her new found friends rescue Grace before it is too late?

Link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01EX9DPMS


For more information on work I have published look on my PUBLISHED WORK page or try Amazon books: 



(Answer: 1B, 2A)

Meet Author A. A. Schenna



Today I have the novelist and short story writer, A. A. Schenna, on my blog.

He writes for teens and adults in several genres, including action, adventure, and romance.

Many of his stories have been published by Solstice Publishing.





What is the title of your latest book? aa-schenna-fear-the-darkness-001

Fear the Darkness, a mystery short story about secrets and betrayal.


Young Adult readers might be interested in spending a few hours reading the Trapped in Timelessness series as well.





What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

Writing a story makes you feel free because there are no limits and, in my view, that is incredible.  Inviting readers coming into your world is challenging, but also exciting. When people say that they liked what they read, you run into amazing feelings.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

It takes a lot of time to come closer to your dream so be patient and don’t give up!

What are you working on at the moment?

 A romance novel and a short story about true love are coming very soon.

 What do you like to read?

 Everything and I mean it!

Where can readers find you? 

Readers will find me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you so much for your time!

Website: www.aaschenna.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/AA-Schenna/701740166542505?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ASchenna








Happy Everybody Reads YA Sunday.

Welcome to another ‘Happy Everybody Reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare.

Today I’m sharing an excerpt from s short story called Sleeping Beauty. I will be re-reading it myself over the next few weeks as I am going to have a go at turning it into a screenplay. I’ve just been to a workshop on writing film scripts, and think this has some of the basic elements for a first attempt. We’ll see how it works out in the New Year.

sleeping beautyExcerpt:

“Get out, get out! You little bitch!” my stepmother had screamed. Sukie wasn’t technically my stepmother, not having properly married my Dad. She’d just drifted into our lives a year or so after Mum died, stayed over one night, and never moved out. I thought Dad was a bit scared of her, to be honest. Sukie was beautiful, with long blond hair (dyed, of course) and if she laughed when she and Dad had visitors it was like wind chimes tinkling in a gentle breeze. Everybody thought she was charming, and beautiful, and Dad was so lucky to have met her, him being a widower with a small kid (me) in tow. What a help she must be to him, now he was no longer lonely, and had a mother figure again for his little girl. I think Dad thought that too, at least at first.


Dawn has been in a coma for a year and is visited in hospital every day by her devoted father, occasionally by the ghost of her dead mother, and once by her vicious stepmother. Unable to move a muscle she monitors their coming and going and relives the events that lead to her accident. She yearns to wake up and live like a teenager again, but nothing so far has been able to rouse her from her deep, deep sleep. Then, on her fourteenth birthday she is visited by a mysterious delivery boy with a strange package.

Links: MyBook.to/TheSleepingBeauty

Sleeping Beauty is available as a single story download from the above link. It also appears in the anthology, First Love, published by Solstice.



Happy Everybody Reads YA

Welcome to another ‘Happy Everybody Reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare. Last week my publisher, Solstice, organised a promotion on Amazon Books for my contemporary YA novel – Girl Friends. To my delight it reached the #1 slot in the UK and #4 in America in the ‘friendship’ category – and not far behind in ‘dating and sex’!

(Amazon.co.uk) #1 in Kindle StoreBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Friendship

(Amazon.com) #4 in Kindle StoreKindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Friendship

Here is another excerpt from Girl Friends, this time from near the beginning of the story:

Girl Friends - coverThe front door slams, making the whole house shake. The pair of them are back and it is not good news. Good news would be if we only heard the slight click as the latch goes down. Then they would be coming straight up to bed, giggling and mumbling and we could all relax and get a bit of sleep. A slam means a row, which is scary.

Like lightening, my twin sisters, Josie and Mel, jump out of their own bed and into mine. I groan, and pretend to be put out but, to be honest, their small warm bodies against mine are comforting. “Don’t you dare pee in my bed,” I hiss at Josie, and she shakes her head without saying a word. Both have their thumbs in their mouths and are tense and shivery. I hug them both to try and comfort them, but I feel my own body becoming tense and shivery too.  We wait. We know any minute now the row will erupt again.


Nothing is working out for Courtney, and even Grace, her beautiful best friend has no time for her now she has a boyfriend who has promised to get her a modelling contract. Courtney senses something is wrong – what is Grace getting herself into? And can Courtney and her new found friends rescue Grace before it is too late?

Link: MyBook.to/GirlFriends

For more of my stories, try one of my amazon author pages – some stories are free!