August 19, 2009

Guest Post and Contest from Harlequin TEEN

My mom has read Harlequins for years - mostly the Intrigues - but it took the ladies over at TGTBTU to get me to really give Harlequins a chance. Now, during the publisher's 60th anniversary, Harlequin is launching a new line . . . a YA line. So far I've only read the first release, MY SOUL TO TAKE by Rachel Vincent. You can read my review here. I have high hopes for this line, especially after reading about what's coming up.

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Teen themes and Harlequin TEEN
by Natashya Wilson, senior editor, HQ TEEN


Welcome to the latest stop on the Harlequin TEEN blog tour, and many thanks to In Bed with Books for hosting us today!

One thing I tell agents and authors when I attempt to explain what we’re looking for in Harlequin TEEN is a story that is “more than” a good, solid story—a tale that offers something extra, something universal that the reader will continue to think about after finishing the book. A strong theme is one thing that can make that happen. Coming of age, friendship, loyalty, peer pressure, challenging authority, puberty, first love, popularity…these are some popular themes often found in YA stories, and many of them are at work in Harlequin TEEN books.

Coming of age is one such theme, whether a story focuses on a literal age and rite of passage a character goes through to be considered adult or, less specifically, shows a character learn important lessons and attain a new sense of self by the end of the story. One thing that is marvelous about a series of connected titles is the opportunity to see a character come of age over time.

Book Cover

When Rachel Vincent’s My Soul to Take (August 2009) opens, Kaylee Cavanaugh doesn’t yet know why she can sense when someone is about to die—or why she can’t stop herself from screaming nearly hysterically when that happens. Watching Kaylee learn that she’s a banshee and learn to handle the responsibilities that entails over the course of three books is part of what resonates throughout the Soul Screamers series and makes it stand out in the crowd.


Book Cover

Other Harlequin TEEN titles that bring out this theme are Elphame’s Choice (October 2009) by P. C. Cast, in which the heroine journeys far from home to find her true calling and true love, and The Iron King (February 2010) by Julie Kagawa, the first of three books throughout which the heroine learns about her faery heritage and surprising destiny.

Friendship is another timeless theme with powerful resonance. Friends are there for the best and worst times of our lives. They can lift us up…or bring us down. What does it mean to be a true friend, why do we get along with some people so well and with others not at all? And where is the line between friendship and love?

Book Cover

One of the things I found so intriguing about Gena Showalter’s , Intertwined (September 2009) is that the two main characters, Aden and Mary Ann, do not wind up as each other’s love interest. Instead, once they meet, they feel an undeniable rightness of being together…as friends. Exploring that friendship and the connection they have is one theme that resonates throughout the Intertwined Novels.

First love—as they say, you never forget it. As of right now, all Harlequin TEEN titles contain a romance or romantic element. But so do many good stories. So what made this theme stand out in the titles we have acquired? Well, in Tagged (March 2010) by Mara Purnhagen, the author developed the heroine’s romance alongside the mystery that drives the plot as well as the heroine’s run-ins with the popular crowd, another favorite theme. The way the author made use of these themes helped the story stand out.

In The Oracle of Dating (May 2010) by Allison van Diepen, the heroine faces the consequences of anonymously giving her own friends dating advice—and having it go awry—while trying to get a handle on her own runaway romance. The parallels and contradictions in the simultaneous situations helped to make this story more than just another fun romance.

Challenging authority is part of growing up. And no one does it better than Trella, the heroine of Maria V. Snyder’s Inside Out (April 2010). Though she means only to carry on her own personal rebellion quietly, sneaking into forbidden places and keeping to herself, Trella’s actions eventually spark a revolution and create an unforgettable read.

What are some of your favorite themes in YA books? What makes a story stand out in your crowd? We’d love to hear! Comment here for a chance to win a copy of My Soul to Take or Intertwined, or a fun Harlequin TEEN T-shirt. And we hope to see you next week on our tour, with a more personal post about me at Kay Cassidy’s blog on 8/26 followed by a trip to The Page Flipper on 8/28!



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Harlequin TEEN is offering two of each MY SOUL TO TAKE and INTERTWINED, as well as one each of the shirts, which means there will be six winners. Pretty good odds, no? This contest will remain open until for two weeks, until September 2 - the day after INTERTWINED comes out.

69 comments:

  1. The difference between a great YA book and a not great YA book for me, is all about the writing. I have to feel the passion behind the pen. If it feels like the author was just writing for the sake of writing then I'm uninterested. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm big on character development. If for some reason, I don't like the main characters, I can't enjoy the story.

    What's the point if I don't care if the characters dies or not?

    The writing or plot could be great but if the characters aren't then it's a miss for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. For me, characters can be shallow as long as the plot really moves, but if there are really well-developed characters with a boring plot, I won't read it.

    tashiluvsu@live.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. While plot is important if I don't like the characters I can't enjoy the book. I generally prefer for characterization to be shown through their actions rather than being told about their personalities. Also smart and quirky characters are the best.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What is my favorite theme in YA books? Paranormal. I love reading about things that are completely out of the ordinary and make me wonder "what if". And depending on the book, some well-constructed romance never hurt anyone at all.

    shutupjessicasreading(at)gmail(dot)com
    Jessica

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm quite a big fan of the Romance theme and the Coming of Age or Learning about Yourself theme, they're always great reads, especially if they deal with a serious issue too and/or are thought provoking, or a bit of fantasy is thrown into the mix. Gotta love the current YA fantasies that are about!

    Great post, and great giveaway!

    Email: joannestapley[at]googlemail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  7. My absolute favorite theme in YA books, and one that I feel is necessary for good YA, is hope. The teenage years are hard, and it's nice to see teens dealing with cancer or being captured by dragons or whatever and making it out alive.

    Also, the cover for Intertwined gets me hot and heavy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like YA books to have a moral to the story but it has to be subtle.
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like books that are unexpected than what you expect, in a good way. Those stands out a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think what makes a great YA book is the descriptiveness of the characters and the scene. If I can't really see the story than its not a good story to me. I have to connect with the characters.

    rconnell94@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I like fun, humorous romances or (on the opposite end of the spectrum) paranormal/fantasy themes. But all YA draws me, as long as its well-written and honest. Thanks for holding the contest!

    celialarsen(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  12. i like supernatural
    romances they explore different worlds and have more complex characters. all your books sound really good.

    jad17@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  13. The writing, good realistic characters and a paranormal theme all make a great book to me. I am glad this new line is coming out and I cant wait to get the chance to read My Soul to Take.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love that in Intertwined they are more friends than romantic interests. I haven't read the book so that's great to hear! A book that sticks out to me is just the realistic nature of things even if it's a fantasy or something.

    -Lauren

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nice Blog. Your Writing Skills are too good and your Views are Awesome. You also Have To Join Teen Blog ! And should have to Written for this Blog. Lots of Teenager from all around world share their views here..

    Orangy - The Sweet Sour Tangy Taste of Life

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think Harlequin Teen is a great idea and I can't wait to read these books! I will read almost anything if it has a good plot and keeps me interested. It's great to have a books that is too hard to put down. (Just one more page...) I really enjoy when an author has a sense of humor too. That's not easy to do and I appreciate a writer who can make me laugh. Thanks for your offer!

    5wrights1[at]verizon[dot]net

    ReplyDelete
  17. I like paranormal themes. It always intrigues me when the characters are "extra-ordinary".
    And of course, a good plot will be required to keep me interested.

    I'm having a giveaway on my blog right now! Please enter here:

    http://aik-friendsnfamily.blogspot.com/2009/08/whoo-hoo-my-first-blog-giveaway.html

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm not one who cares real much what the theme is than how the storys written and the spin the author puts on it.

    Characters really make stories stand out - they can either amke or break a book

    thebookcellar@wi.rr.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. I've just recently started to read YA titles with the Paranormal being my favorite! I enjoyed Rachel Caine's Morganville vampire series! tWarner419@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. Amazing characters and good pacing make a book stand out.
    tinaigne[at]yahoo[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  23. What is my favorite theme in YA books? Paranormal/Urban Fantasy.I really like the Morganville Vampire series.
    elaing8(at)netscape(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  24. My favorite kinds of books are the well written ones. i don't really care if it's about vampires or ghosts or werewolves or secret agents or normal people or wizards. as long as it's well written, well organized, and has just enough romance, it deserves to be read :D

    haleymathiot (at) yahoo (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  25. Romance, coming of age stories and burgeoning self-confidence are all themes I like in YA books. I think Harlequin (with 60 years behind them), has really hit a new niche market--all of these titles sound good to me! Hope the stories back it up.

    Please count me in! Would love to win one!

    JHolden955 (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love science fiction and fantasy that is written in a way that makes you think. There may be magic or time travel, but the story is really about modern times and trying to answer modern questions. I also like to see metaphysical themes and coming-of-age stories.

    paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm a plot person, so I love to see a great, well paced plot. Of course, this doesn't mean that you sacrifice character development. The two must be organic and complement each other without seeming contrived. Does that make sense?

    lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  28. One of my favorite themes in ya is is love. I want to read about love whether it be love for family and friends or romantic type of love. It draws me in.
    cindysku07@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow, all Harlequin Teen Books sounds amazing!
    A Ya book most have good, flowing writing (not just YA books, all books! ;)). I can't stand bad writing. Then there must be great characters, and some love! ;)

    sara
    sosarora_11(AT)hotmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ooooh my niece would love this....

    please enter me into the contest.

    runningmatey at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  32. I enjoy paranormal and/or romance themes. The characters are what makes a book stand out in my opinion. If I do not enjoy the characters or connect with them in some way then the book becomes tedious to read
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  33. I love reading YA titles. I always look for ones in a series, with strong characters and not too much teen angst. I read one (which I will leave nameless), that was too much like beverly hills high, everyone kept saying OMG-who really does that? I expect teen themes and feelings, but it must be well written and current.

    zenfoxflowerATyahooDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  34. One of the very first things that makes me pick up a YA book the cover pic. If it has a really nice picture, it catches my attention and then I will read the back of the book for the summary. It also has to have characters that I like and identify with.

    jen4777[at]hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. For a story to stand out for me, it has to a certain flow. One that just sweeps you up and doesn't let go. As for favorite themes, I generally enjoy romance and coming of age books. I also enjoy some fantasy and science fiction themes.

    neverendingshelf@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  36. I love a good story that grabs me. The protagonist has to be someone I care about. I very much enjoyed Intertwined I really cared about what happened to the "souls". Also My Soul to Take, was a exceptional read. No only did RV do a great job of character development but also expansion of the lure of the banshee.

    I love love love the tees's. Awesome contest.

    ReplyDelete
  37. A good YA book is one where I care about the characters. I start to see them as real people that I want to see succeed - then I'll enjoy the book so much more. That can over-come even a dull plot. If I never really come to care about the characters, then I never really care about the book.

    Thanks for this giveaway!

    foltzsfantasticbooks AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'd have to say the characters, if I can identify with them and they seem real enough - than I can fall in love with the book! Of course, I'm a a huge fan of the YA - and I read the prequel to My Soul to Take and a lot of other YA novels!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I love sci-fi/dystopian literature like the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. Books that aren't afraid to question or challenge government and society or where we will be years from now. I think Maria V. Snyder's book Inside Out is going to be great. Rebellion books rock!

    I also love well written books that aren't afraid to talk about the more difficult issues that some authors tend to shy away from. For example, Sarah Dessen and Ellen Hopkins books are like that.

    ~Briana
    thebookpixie[at]yahoo[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  40. I don't know if I can pin it down to one thing but predictability-or lack of it-is big with me...when you know every thing that's going to happen before it does, that takes a lot away from the story. But when characters are fantastic and well developed, some predictability is more tolerable because you love them more :D

    -Lucile
    bok.splotATgmailDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  41. I love a story with a character that I can relate to and that has good character development. The way the author writes the story also make it stand out to me. A story has to flow together smoothly and have good descriptions so I can feel like I'm in the story.

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