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GETTING REAL . . . A LITTLE ANYWAY by Terry Trueman (and giveaway)

Earlier this month, I wrote about Terry Trueman’s Printz Honor Award winning title, Stuck in Neutral.  Tomorrow, Trueman releases a sequel entitled Life Happens Next.  Today, he writes about his sequel and is offering YOU a chance to win a signed copy.  We are giving away 5 signed copies, find out how to enter at the end of this guest post.
It’s especially nice to be a guest blogger for Teen Librarian’s Tool Box. I’d like the thank Karen and the other librarians for giving me this chance to reach out to Teen and Youth services librarians. My subject for this blog is ‘back to reality’. And by this I mean that as an author of what is usually termed ‘realistic’ fiction or, more disparagingly, ‘problem novels’ I’ve been more than a little surprised by the depth and breadth of movement away from realistic fiction towards dystopian, fantasy, vampire/virgin/wizard/werewolf etc books and series that have taken over the world of works being marketed for teens and young adults. I know that this is not a complete takeover and that realistic fiction still holds some part of the publishing world but I have to admit that the conversations I’ve seen on the YALSA book discussion site, which I rejoined recently after several years’ absence, seem overwhelmingly geared away from the kind of books I write.
Life Happens Next by Terry Trueman
Releases August 21st from HarperTeen

There could be a bit of sour grapes in this observation of course. When my first novel STUCK IN NEUTRAL was published in June of 2000, I believe either the second or third Harry Potter, THE GOBLET OF FIRE was also published that year. I’m not sure that J.K. Rowling would have been willing to trade her royalty check for my Printz Honor Award, I’m not sure I’d have been willing to make that trade back then either. Over the dozen years since then, however, I believe that J.K. did reasonably well, helped by her great talent as a writer and by her stories about a boy living under the stairs in the real world. After Rowling came the vampire stuff, TWILIGHT etc. my understanding is that these stories, at least at the start were about virginal teenage love where everything was sexual except sex itself. And next came HUNGER GAMES. Somewhere along the way, stories about teens living in the real world, today, striving to deal with issues of identity, meaning, and their realistic world of problems and issues got nudged (or sometimes slammed) onto the back burner of the stove in the basement (good one huh?).
There is nothing wrong with fantasy, nothing wrong with adventure, nothing wrong with any character driven story told with the ringing sounds of compassion and emotional truth and maybe even a bit of thematic significance towards helping people think about their own lives, values and dreams.

I mention this topic simply because tomorrow, August 21, 2012 my first novel in over four years will be released nationwide in hardbound. LIFE HAPPENS NEXT is a sequel to STUCK IN NEUTRAL. The story, as the title suggests, tells about what happens next in the life of Shawn McDaniel the protagonist in both books. At the end of STUCK IN NEUTRAL the reader has no idea whether Shawn will survive the next five minutes, much less long enough see his 15th birthday . . well, he does both. LIFE HAPPENS NEXT is realistic fiction. It’s a problem novel. It has no vampires, wizards, werewolves, teenaged girls running around in a really horrible future having arrows shot at them—it just tells the story of a kid who everyone thinks is a vegetable but who in fact is a bright, great spirit who loves and longs to be loved in return. I so hope you enjoy it and feel that it merits hand-selling to your teen readers. On behalf of all my author friends who write stories set in what can be considered ‘reality’ thanks.

Please visit www.terrytrueman.com any time to find out where I am, and what I’m doing. You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Linked-in.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I can't WAIT to read this because, honestly, I thought Shawn didn't make it. So looking forward to this novel!!

  2. Can't wait to read it! Are we going to be left hanging again at the end of this one?

  3. Can't wait to read the book too. Hope I win a copy.

  4. Can't wait to read this! I'm sure it will be just as captivating as “Stuck in Neutral”!

  5. I did not know about Stuck in Neutral, but have added it to my TBR list! I enjoyed your article, and like so many readers, am ready for a good, realistic break from paranormal and end of the world fiction.

  6. I have not read 'Stuck In Neutral,' but it is now officially on my TBR list, as well as 'What Happens Next.' Thanks for the spotlight and helping me to find something new to me!

  7. I just read Stuck in Neutral yesterday and read the first few chapters of Life Happens Next! I really love it!

  8. Thanks so much for your post telling about your new book. I've had several teens come in and ask for something that isn't fantasy. Some are switching to non-fic to find more “real” stories, which is great, but they need to have relatable fiction as well. Thanks for offering us an alternative!

  9. Terry Trueman says:

    Thanks so much Heidi . . . I couldn't have killed off Shawn. It woulda broken my heart. I'm so happy to bring him back to you! 🙂

  10. Terry Trueman says:

    Okay Steve, since you asked, I'll give you a hint . . .I like happy endings as much as the next guy, but hey, you never know :):)

  11. Terry Trueman says:

    I hope you win one too Sarah, but it's available for kindle now also . . .just sayin . . . 🙂

  12. Terry Trueman says:

    I hope you like it as well, Nina. I do but then I'm a bit biased. :):)

  13. Terry Trueman says:

    Glad to hear this Kristie, I hope you like the book and I'd love to hear from you one way or the other. http://www.terrytrueman.com

  14. Terry Trueman says:

    Thank YOU Twisty J. I hope you enjoy both books!

  15. Terry Trueman says:

    Thanks so much Karen. It's always so cool and fun to hear from a 'new' reader and I'm glad you're liking both books. I'
    d love to hear from you. http://www.terrytrueman.com

  16. Terry Trueman says:

    Hi Deirdre, this news, about kids being ready for realistic fiction is music to my ears (I know, I know, cliche . . .but sometimes a cliche says it perfectly. LOL Thanks for your support. http://www.terrytrueman.com

  17. Thank you SO MUCH for writing a sequel — I can't even tell you how many kids have asked me if I knew what happened after the end of the story!

  18. Excited to read more of this great story – I have booktalked both SIT and CC and so many kids ask 'what happened next?' I – along with many teen readers – will be happy to find out!

  19. I have read Stuck in Neutral when it first came out. I may have to reread before starting the new book. Thanks

  20. I am so excited to read this!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Even if I don't win it, I plan to purchase it for our YA collection anyway!

  22. Thank you for this opportunity! Please know that I have some friends who will be celebrating birthdays this week and this would make for an amazing gift to them — they love YA literature and love YA Authors! Think of it this way, you would be able to pass it along more than once, and most likely the book would be shared further with others who not only enjoyed SIN (that's Stuck in Neutral) and this one Life Happens Next.

  23. Stuck in Neutral is a favorite at my library, so I'm excited for the sequel!

  24. Terry Christner says:

    Although it's been a while since I read STUCK IN NEUTRAL (about ten years ago), I still remember it and don't plan on rereading that before reading LIFE HAPPENS NEXT. (I actually liked the ambiguity of STUCK IN NEUTRAL's ending.)

  25. My students love your books. Stuck in Neutral is such a powerful book that my students and I can't wait to read the sequel. We would love a copy of Life Happens Next for our library. Thank you.

  26. I am super excited about this read! Thanks so much for hosting the contest! 🙂

  27. Best of luck with LIFE HAPPENS NEXT! I'm so excited to read it and would love an extra copy for my library! STUCK IN NEUTRAL is one of my go to book for kids who think they hate to read.
    They usually ask for CRUISE CONTROL or any other books by “that dude who wrote STUCK IN NEUTRAL.”


  28. oops! Tried to comment! It didn't publish, but I didn't get a message about it needing approval. Spam folder?


  29. My students love your books! Would love to have a signed copy to add to my collection!

  30. I am reading Cruise Control a new crop of students…they love it! Every day, they ask me to read more, more! The highlight of my year is when I read the first page of Stuck in Neutral after we finish Cruise Control….they are all in shock! Would love to have a signed copy of Life Happens Next for my classroom.

  31. I just started Stuck in Neutral and am loving it! I can't wait to read Life Happens Next!

  32. Looking forward to this sequel; you finally let me off the tenterhooks with it!

  33. Terry Trueman says:

    Well, librarina, now you can tell them!!! Thanks for yer comment.

  34. Terry Trueman says:


  35. Terry Trueman says:

    Thanks danielka, I think it's held up pretty well, even if in it there are no cell phone LOL Hope you like the sequel as well.

  36. I have not read Stuck in Neutral but it is a part of our Teen Zone collection, and I would love to add an autographed copy of Life Happens Next. Thanks for the opportunity.

  37. Hi Terry,

    I liked Stuck in Neutral and wondered where the story was headed at the end. Good to know we'll have a chance to find out!

  38. I too can't wait to read what happens next…I LOVED Stuck in Neutral!

  39. Thanks Terry! I'd love to win a copy for my library!

  40. Stuck in Neutral is on our 9th grade reading list, so I would love to have the sequel for the library!

  41. I would love a copy. Thank you, Sandy

  42. I am looking forward to the sequel!

  43. Anonymous says:

    I loved Stuck in Neutral and can't wait to read the sequel!



  44. I love Stuck in Neutral. Always use it as a read aloud with my group of nonreaders. Am looking forward to Life Happens Next!

  45. Anonymous says:

    I would love a signed copy copy to give to my teenage nephew. I'm trying to make a reader out of him. Thanks. Shannon

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