Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Hi, Diamond Mine Readers. Julie Cosgrove here. 

I have something to confess...I love reading Christian Y.A. (young adult) fiction. Do you?  Maybe I am in my second childhood...but I hope not. I really don't want to go through adolescence again. Ugh. 

An author, who writes for the same publishing house as the one who will publish my next three books, writes great Y.A. Her books not only make great reading, but they would make wonderful Christmas gifts for any tweens or teens you know. (Yes, 'tis the season soon to think about what to get who.)

 Please welcome Cynthia Toney.

 Cynthia, since you write for tweens and teens (and old folks like me) briefly tell us a funny or touching story about your teenage years…

Writing petrified me! I dreaded the assignment of a paper that was more than a page long. I was okay with a short composition, especially if I could use humor, but a term paper sent me into a tailspin. I couldn’t gather, organize, and write information in my own words in a way that connected and flowed. My friends, who didn’t become writers of any type, spent much less time laboring over their term papers than I did.  But I somehow made good grades in spite of myself. I wish I had one of those papers to look at and laugh over today.

Maybe you just wanted to write fiction even back then! Term papers are daunting things, and not very exciting to read. I remember pulling my hair out while formatting all the endnotes and footnotes and references. Shudder. It's enough to stifle any creativity.

Tell our readers what encouraged you to be a writer then, and specifically writing books for teens? 

I love writing for tweens and teens, particularly those who speak without thinking, make poor decisions, and have love to give but don't always know where to direct it. Young people I've encountered over the years inspired me to write novels that show them how wonderful, powerful, and valuable they are. Today's tweens and teens can identify with the emotions, needs, desires, and challenges of characters in my historical as well as contemporary novels.

Being told we are wonderful, powerful and valuable is a message we all need to hear, especially middle school and high schoolers. What nugget of inspiration do you want your readers to grasp?

Small steps can accomplish big things, very good things, for oneself and for others.

Great saying. Anyone want to needlepoint that in a sampler? As I confessed, I love to read YA. Do you find many adults read and like your books, too?

From what I can tell, just as many adults read my novels as young people do. Often, adults will read one of my books first to screen it for a child or grandchild and then tell me how much they themselves enjoyed it.

See, I am not the only one, am I Diamond Mine folk? So now that we all know we can enjoy this genre no matter our age, Cynthia, tell us about this series by giving us a short blurb on each of the books in it. Also, does the reader have to read them in order or do they stand alone?

Occasionally readers tell me that they have read one of the books without considering—or sometimes without knowing—that another book preceded it, but that they fully understood and enjoyed the story anyway.

I usually suggest that an 11 or 12-year-old start with the first book of the series, but a 12 to 14-year-old could easily begin with book two, and it could stand alone, although readers usually want to know what happens next to the cast of characters. However, if someone wants to read the newest release (fourth and final book of the series), I suggest reading book three to fully enjoy book four. It is not necessary, because I weave in enough background to support the reader’s understanding, but I simply recommend that. 

Here are the books in order:

8 Notes to a Nobody (Bird Face book one)
 Anonymous sticky-notes, a scheming bully, and a ruined summer send fourteen-year-old Wendy down a trail of secrets and self-discovery.  
10 Steps to Girlfriend Status (Bird Face book two)
 When Wendy questions her neighbor about one 1960s photograph, she opens the door to triple trouble—a Cajun family secret, feelings for two very different boys, and a fight to keep a grandmother’s love. 

6 Dates to Disaster (Bird Face book three)
 Wendy’s goal is to fly to Alaska. Her family is broke. Will an opportunity to make money be the answer to her prayers—or the road to disaster?

3 Things to Forget (Bird Face book four) 
In Alaska, Wendy thinks she’s left behind the problems resulting from her mistakes in Louisiana. But strange surroundings bring strangers into her life, and those strangers have a secret that threatens her friendship with Sam. Will Wendy be able to forget what she hopes to, or will new challenges teach her the importance of remembering the past?

Why did you set this current book, 3 Things to Forget,  in Alaska?

I wanted my character, Wendy, to travel as far away as possible within the U.S. from her home state of Louisiana, and for it to be a very different environment from what she was used to. Of all the places I’d visited, Alaska was my favorite, and it was just right for the setting of this story. 

One of my bucket list places to visit! I know many of our readers who have visited or want to visit this amazing state will want to get this book. Give us a tidbit of 3 Things to Forget.

 There’s something to be said for escaping 4500 miles to the third least-populated state in America, where no one (well, almost no one) knows me. Otherwise, leaving behind my disgrace from the biggest academic scandal ever to hit my school—resulting in the breakup with my boyfriend on the night he said he loved me—might’ve been impossible.
Surrounded by strangers on the second of two connecting flights to Anchorage, for a total of fourteen hours on a Friday, I summoned teeth-grinding determination to forget the past. What better time for an intense study, a.k.a. cramming, of American Sign Language? Before the plane would land in Alaska, I might become proficient enough in ASL to communicate with Sam and his deaf friends without making a fool of myself.  For the month of June, I’d live with Sam and his family in Anchorage. I’d work with him and other teens, possibly deaf, as a volunteer at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. And I’d do whatever it took to fit in.

Now that we are all hooked and want to read more, where can readers find you and your books? 

Cynthia has agreed to give away an ebook of the reader's choice from the series, but only commentors are eligible to enter the giveaway. So be sure to leave your thoughts for her along with your email address so we can find you. The drawing will be on Tuesday, November 13th.


Beth Steury said...

Cynthia's books are great. ☺

DiAne Gates said...

As another YA author, I'm always eager to read, because I think, in that genre. Guess I'm just refusing to grow up and at my age that's not always attractive. Cynthia, I so relate to you about coming down with frazzleitis over having to write any kind of paper for a grade...just give me the "F" and get it over.

Hope I win the book, and if I do let's begin with Book One, then I'll treat myself to an early Christmas gift with the others. :)

Cynthia T. Toney said...

Thank you, Beth.

Cynthia T. Toney said...

DiAne, I'm so happy to find a kindred spirit regarding school papers! :-D

Terry Palmer said...

Finally figured out how and where to comment. As an ol' papa, my grandkids are tweens, whew. I have to buy tissue by the case, ha ha. I can see how your writing is perfect for this age group and good for you. These kids have so many distractions which might be far less of a choice. Keep up the good work and thanks to the Diamond Mine pages, so well put together and presented. Author Terry Palmer while wearing a happy face...

Marie Sontag said...

It’s great to hear of another YA Christian author. Sounds like you have a finger on their pulse! I prefer reading middle grade and YA books over adult books. I write historical MG and YA fiction and am part of Julie’s ACFW Group here in the DFW area.

Marie Sontag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marie Sontag said...

My email is

Cynthia T. Toney said...

Terry Palmer, thanks for your comment! It made me smile.

Cynthia T. Toney said...

Nice to meet you, Marie! I also read MG, and I find most of the MG novels for these young people to have such fresh, surprising plots and characters. I have a coming-of-age historical, The Other Side of Freedom. I'm going to look you up!