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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.

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