Saturday, September 1, 2012

Phoenix Rising by Lisa C. Morgan Blog Tour Guest Post

Maggie has lived the last ten years with a woman who isn't her mother and carrying the label "Daughter of John Henning", a man sentenced to live out his days at Sunnyview Psychiatric Hospital after his conviction of fire bombing a church...

and killing the 8 people inside.

What Maggie learns will change her life.
She is the last of a race of creatures known as "The Phoenix", a race of supernatural beings with the ability to wield and control fire.

And she will need that power now...

Revenants- walking, living, skeletal creatures who have waged a war against an unseen, parallel world known simply as The Realm- need Maggie's blood to bring them to a full power...a power that will give them an unbeatable edge and offer the deciding weapon in this war.

Maggie is not alone as she learns not only what she really is, but what it is her destiny to become...

Guest Post:

YA, an introduction 
YA…”young adult”. It’s a giant market of readers, consisting of as many subgenres as adult fiction. YA literature has been around for as long as words have been in existence. We all begin with books that helped to push our imaginations further, and many of the popular YA titles available now are finding hugely successful crossover appeal with adult readers.
There are some out there that flat out refuse to pick up and read any work labeled as young adult. I find that just… sad. The stories they’re missing… Another HUGE misconception among some- that writing in the YA category is easy, maybe even a ‘cop out”. Wow… are they misinformed.
But let us begin with the stories they’re missing. Books like The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Claire. Yes, angels. Yes, the main characters are in their late teens/early twenties. They face problems within their world, battling demons and such, but more over, these characters are also learning how to live their lives. They are asked to make choices based on the information they have at the time, sometimes with earth shattering consequences. They find love, they experience loss. These are all things adults can read in the books they choose, too.
The fact that the age of the characters is a factor in determining whether or not you read the book? I’ll say it- you’re missing out. These aren’t easy reading books, either.
The notion that because the books are targeting a young adult audience doesn’t always translate to meaning “little words, simple topics.” Some of the topics in YA books are as difficult to face as in any adult oriented novel. Take the popular books The Hunger Games… kids chosen to fight to the death. These books aren’t an attempt to glamorize killing or to take advantage of some fantasy about children murdering each other. These books explore real human emotions; they face tragedies and are forced to make difficult decisions that impact more than just themselves.
As a parent, I appreciate these books. Day to day, my children live in a society that puts hard choices on them and they must learn to navigate them. No, as of yet, none of my kids have been asked to kill a bunch of their fellow students or find sponsors (but my youngest does have a bow…just in case) but this theme can be used in their day to day life. Issues with friends, consequences to their actions, etc. And like it or not, kids won’t always go to their parents to talk about it. Many YA books have characters that face these choices and it gives kids the opportunity to think about how they would react if faced with a similar situation.
I write mainly YA. It isn’t easy like many think. YA comes with certain constraints that adult fiction doesn’t. For example, an adult oriented novel may have cuss words out the kazoo; YA, in general, tries to refrain from too much of that. It would be easy to drop an “F-bomb” in certain situations, but YA focuses more about the character development and problem resolution. My personal guideline in writing YA- would I let my children read what I wrote? I’ve been known to delete entire chapters because I wouldn’t be comfortable with it.
 Emotions play a large part in young adult writing too, no matter the subgenre. To assume that YA readers are not at an emotional level to understand some of the concepts is a misconception. I find emotional connections in YA books to be somewhat deeper. Perhaps it’s because the characters typically are not involved in a physical relationship, for the most part.
That’s another difficult part to writing YA- sex. We’ve probably all read books where those physical scenes include words like “throbbing” whatever. YA? Not so much. When a scene like that is written for the young adult market, they usually focus more on the emotions rather than the physical act. This can be a tricky thing to write. I believe we all, to one degree or another, have issues facing emotions. Teens and young adults, many just beginning in this area, especially so. Finding a balance between description of the physical and the emotional pieces is like walking a tight rope made of dental floss.
I'll admit, it upsets me to read posts and blogs where folks state they will never read a YA book for whatever reason. I often wonder if they skipped classics like Where the Wild Things Are or Alice in Wonderland- both books written to target the YA audience, both, arguably, classics.
The Young Adult market is one of, if not THE, fastest growing markets. Books geared for this age group are consistently found on best seller lists around the planet. To write a blank check that says “will not read” is unfortunate. These are not stories written in an afternoon, but for the most part, well crafted, deeply engaging reads that draw at emotions we all have. If books are the mini vacation many think they are, then Young Adult novels are our chance to turn back the hands of time and experience some of our most crucial and exciting life experiences. They give us a chance to see inside the thoughts of today’s youth, to really grasp what our children are going through, what they dream that they choose not to share with us “old fogies.”
Most of all, like any good book out there, they give us the opportunity to escape, even for a little while, into the life of someone else- to walk in their shoes, to live, love, and breathe with them. And isn’t that what a reading experience is supposed to be about?
I challenge you, set aside what you think you know about YA and dig deeper. You may find you like it.

Author Bio:
Lisa C. Morgan lives in rural Upstate NY with her husband, three children, a degu, a precocious Siberian Husky, and a half Pom/Half Chi spoiled baby named Salacious B. Dustbunny.
 A lover of books and words, it has always been her desire to tell stories that the people near her could listen and read, escaping the world around them by way of the page.
 Always having a new story idea popping into her head, (sometimes at the least appropriate of times,) Lisa can always be found with a notebook and writing utensil somewhere within reach, just as her 8th grade teacher made her promise to do.Lisa has two short stories previously published in anthologies. A Romantic short titled Nothing’s Terminal (A Home for the Holidays; December, 2011) and  a zombie themed short titled Antidote (The Thorn of Death; March 2012). Her debut novel- Phoenix Rising is the first in a new YA series Maggie Henning & The Realm and will be released July 2012. Upcoming will be the continuation in the series- Phoenix Burning, Phoenix Shadow, and Phoenix Ashes.
            When she isn't writing or taxing kids, Lisa enjoys reading, football, softball, cooking, singing & dancing, tattoos, and spending time with family and friends.

Phoenix Rising (Maggie Henning & The Realm: book 1)
“…And I believe you do not have the control over your fire yet to destroy us all.”  He was calling my bluff. Worse, he was right.

Phoenix Rising is a first person story revolving around sixteen year old Maggie Henning. Maggie lives with her mother and has spent the previous ten years of her life wearing a label- daughter of the murderer John Henning. Her father resides at Sunnybrook Psychiatric Hospital, having been convicted of killing eight people inside of a local church, burning them alive. Or so Maggie has always been told. Maggie’s world begins to change after finding a letter addressed to her from the psychiatric hospital that offers an ominous warning. She ignores the letter, waving it off as some random nut sending her mail.
Having to endure visits with her father, per her mother’s request, has left Maggie feeling isolated and alone, with exception to her one friend, Stephanie; daughter of her father’s deceased law partner. In an effort to cheer Maggie up, Stephanie and she take in a little “retail therapy” at the local mall.
Maggie finds herself drawn into a music store she doesn’t normally go in to, drawn by a melody played by a mysterious raven haired guy that apparently alarms Maggie’s friend.
Following an argument, Maggie is abandoned at the shopping center to walk home, only to spot the mystery man again, riding a motorcycle, who offers her a ride home. Maggie isn’t normally that reckless, but she decides to throw caution to the wing and take him up on the offer.
The stage is set after a visit to her see her father, normally in a fairly catatonic state, comes aware, giving Maggie the same warning as the letter she received. Creatures, called “revenants” want Maggie’s blood. Just when Maggie had felt optimistic about her father, the hopes were dashed. But, she had seen strange things; bones, pointed teeth, rotting flesh…
The drive home reveals that Maggie’s mother is NOT what she seemed to be and after she’s attacked, the mystery guy, named Michel, arrives and rescues Maggie from one of these creatures.
Maggie is taken to “The Trust”, a manor house that offers protection to beings from “The Realm”- another world that lives right below the surface of the Mortal one. Maggie begins to learn of this strange world and the creatures that inhabit it, including a young witch with much to live up to named Autumn, a light hearted fairy named Seatha, and two Vampire Princes of The Realm, one of which is Michel. Michel is kind and level headed. Luc, his brother, is a smart ass and calls things as he sees them. The two brothers tend to be opposites of each other in most things, with exceptions to their kingdom and now, Maggie.
Maggie meets Liam at The Trust, learning that the crazy board game eating man from the asylum is really her grandfather. Liam explains The Realm, offering guidance, and more importantly, informs Maggie of what she really is- the last of a race of beings called “Phoenixes”, creatures who have the ability to call fire and use it as they wish.
The revenants, led by a creature named Ossa, will stop at nothing to get Maggie; needing her blood to bring them to full power.
Maggie must not only come to believe in all that she has heard, including that she’s one of these mythical creatures from stories, but also learn how to wield her power to face the creatures that would destroy both worlds Maggie has come to know of. All of this, even as she begins to feel more than mere friendship with one of the Princes…

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