Valley of the Bees

The Kirkus Review of Valley of the Bees is in!

Great news! The Kirkus Review for Valley of the Bees is in, and it is pretty good!

Read the full review!

Here are a few high points of the review:

Webster has written a richly detailed work whose world feels legitimate and lived-in, letting readers gradually, seamlessly experience it, rather than overwhelming them with exposition. Meanwhile, Valley is an empathetic, compassionate protagonist who feels three-dimensional from start to finish. Her caring for the bees establishes an instant connection with the reader. The complications of her friendship with another teenager, Reyna, who has fallen in love with her, as well as the intricate bonds that tie her to her family make for an engrossing drama. Furthermore, her relationship with her grandmother, as well as the unfolding of a number of buried family secrets that cause her to question a great deal of what she thought she knew, provides a brilliant through line.

Continue reading “The Kirkus Review of Valley of the Bees is in!”

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Novel Writing

Narrowing my focus: Choosing a niche and a time frame for my story

Novels in a Polish bookstore
How do you decide which shelf your book will finally end up on at your local book store? | Novels in a Polish bookstore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I began writing my current novel almost one full year ago, I have often struggled with determining which genre my story falls into. My thesis adviser pushed me (a lot!) in the direction of Young Adult (YA,) but it just never felt right to me. Although my protagonist is seventeen years old at the outset of the novel, the story will unfold over the course of several years and will include a failed marriage and other “adult” themes that rule out the possibility of selling this novel to a YA audience.

Another element I am struggling with is my time line. Exactly how many years should my protagonist be married to her jerk husband before she escapes? I need her to stick it out for at least a few years. But then, how do I write her through those years and get to the next big event without boring my reader?

This morning, I was reading a blog post by David Fernandez of DLFWriting titled, Becoming a Storyteller: New Adult, or, Wizards and Vampires and Sex! Oh My! that gave me one of those Aha! moments where everything suddenly becomes so clear. In this post, Fernandez discusses the growth of New Adult (NA) fiction, which is aimed at the previously ignored age group of 18 – 25 year olds. Continue reading “Narrowing my focus: Choosing a niche and a time frame for my story”

Domestic Violence, Truth

Life is Truth

The Witch of Blackbird Pond
The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a recent Wednesday Writing Prompt, I asked you to consider what themes and motifs seem to appear regularly in your everyday life. One theme that regularly appears in my life is the concept of “truth.” This has occasionally crossed my mind over the past three years, but finally hit home last week when I discovered that yet another research paper had turned into a discussion of the identification and exploration of universal truths.

I’d been writing a narratological analysis of Elizabeth George Speare’s historical YA novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond and found that many of the academic resources I was reviewing on historical fiction seem to touch on those aspects of human nature that are largely unchanged from one generation to the next. While this was, by no means, the thesis of any of the research papers I read, it was the one common thread that seemed to weave through all of the pieces. Continue reading “Life is Truth”