All posts by alicrosswrites

Scary Stories for Summer Reading!

I’ve enjoyed some great reads the past couple months I wanted to recommend to you. Maybe you’ll discover a new read!

Children of the After: Awakening

A post-apocalyptic thriller starring a teenage boy, pre-teen girl, and their little brother.
See it on Amazon

Woven

Surprise! It’s a ghost story adventure!
See it on Amazon

stepsister

This time there’s a haunting–and it’s not a friendly ghost. Based in the Muslim faith.
See it on Amazon

I just realized there’s been a slightly darker theme to my reading lately. Huh. Well, maybe you enjoy stories that take you to the edge of fear, too!

Have you read these books? What great books have you read lately?

________________________________________________________________________

Alex 1 (2)Alex Banks likes to say she holds a black belt in awesome since the only kind of kicking-butt she does is on paper. She lives in Utah with her kickin’ husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, one samurai dog and four zen turtles.

Alex writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction (suitable for readers over fourteen) under the name Ali Cross.
Blog/Website | Facebook Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

How to Write Action Scenes that Pack a Punch

I love to write action scenes in all my books. Martial arts, spaceship battles, monsters–you name it, if it goes SMASH and CRASH, I love it and I want to write about it.

I’ve developed a little acronym to help me remember how to get the most out of my action scenes. Here’s a simple recap of the “POW” philosophy to help you write your own awesome action.

pow

P=PACK A PUNCH

Remember that everything is connected. Think “The hip bone’s connected to the back bone …” Get out of your chair and pay attention to your body as you throw a punch. If you try it without any preparation, you won’t be very successful. But if you stand with your feet apart, bend your knees a little, focus on drawing strength all the way up from your toes, and PUNCH, you’ll find you can feel it in every part of you–and that your hit will do a lot more damage. Be aware of all those connections when you write about fighting.

O=ORDER IN ACTION

Know the purpose of your scene. Is it simply something the character has to get through to get to the other side? Or is its purpose to show the reader something important about the character?

A plot-driven action scene is usually fast-paced and action-based.

A character-driven action scene is character-based and may have a lot more internal thought and character narration, which slows the action a bit.

W=WRITE IT WISELY

Remember, “There’s nothing passive about action scenes”.

Choose powerful, active verbs, and always look for ways to strengthen sentences by eliminating passive voice where possible.

I’m certain that if you practice some POW when you write your action, it’ll totally pack a punch and your readers will FEEL it. Happy writing!

________________________________________________________________________

Alex 1 (2)Alex Banks likes to say she holds a black belt in awesome since the only kind of kicking-butt she does is on paper. She lives in Utah with her kickin’ husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, one samurai dog and four zen turtles.

Alex writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction (suitable for readers over fourteen) under the name Ali Cross.
Blog/Website | Facebook Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

 

What to Do When Your Tween Is in a Hurry to Grow Up

No, really. What do you do when your tween wants to read/watch/play things that are way too “old” for them? Because this is something I’m constantly struggling with my 14 1/2 year-old boys.

“All” of their friends are watching Walking Dead. “All” of them are reading and watching The Game of Thrones. And I see what videos and memes friends are posting to my boys’ Facebook timelines, and, well, they’re definitely pushing the envelope in my opinion.

My answer is always “no” when Charlie asks for these things, but I also want to encourage him to read when he asks for a BOOK. (Yay! Books!) So far the best solution was for him to read the The Enemy series by Charlie Higson.

higson-banner

We don’t allow our boys to ingest media that’s got language, sex or is generally profane. But, they are also their own people and are surrounded by friends who don’t necessarily live by the same rules. I think my guys are generally respectful of our family’s standards, but the truth is–they are their own people. We can control the media in our own home, but we can’t control what sort of things they partake of when they’re out in the world.

The Enemy series was a good consolation for Charlie. He also enjoyed The Hunger Games series, and Divergent (but not the rest of the series).

It’s hard seeing your kids go from “little” to “big” where you can’t directly control what they read or watch!

So what’s your solution? What do you do to help your children bridge that scary chasm between child and adult?

________________________________________________________________________

Alex 1 (2)Alex Banks likes to say she holds a black belt in awesome since the only kind of kicking-butt she does is on paper. She lives in Utah with her kickin’ husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, one samurai dog and four zen turtles.

Alex writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction (suitable for readers over fourteen) under the name Ali Cross.
Blog/Website | Facebook Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

 

Unlocking the Reader Within You

I’ve got twin boys, Charlie and Xander. Obviously, since I’m a writer, I love to read. I’ve always loved to read. So when my kids were little, I thought, “Of course they’ll love to read, too!” I thought a kid’s interest in reading was a direct result of their parent reading to them. Um, no. At least, not with Charlie.

Xander’s interest in reading naturally evolved into a personal activity. He was choosing his own books and reading on his own from a pretty young age. Charlie, though . . . *sigh*. Not so much.

I struggled to interest Charlie in reading for years. YEARS. I bought books, I borrowed books, I tried to offer incentives, I tried making it “homework”. Nothing worked!

Reading is so important. Personally, I wondered how can a person survive in life without the escape/wonderment/joy that books can bring. As an adult, I also understood that reading plays a part in virtually everything in life. Being a good reader is not just for enjoyment, it’s essential to life success.

But … Ah! How could I get this guy to read, already!?

When Charlie was twelve, a new library opened in our town, so we went to the grand opening. I told the boys they could check out whatever book they wanted. Xan was reading big middle grade books like Harry Potter and Fablehaven, but Charlie gravitated to the Young Adult section. I was nervous about that. I wasn’t sure he was ready to handle a lot of the older themes present in so many Young Adult books.

But I decided to keep my mom-mouth shut and promised myself to stay out of his way so he could find a book he was interested in and (please-oh-please) actually READ IT.

He chose a zombie book.

zombie
The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison Geillor

I quickly did some research and was relieved to discover that Garrison Keillor, using a pen name, was the author of this work and I knew something about him. I don’t know if it would have mattered what I discovered, though–Charlie had chosen a book that he wanted to read. I was determined to keep myself out of it!

Now Charlie is a consistent reader. His SRI scores have increased tremendously, but maybe even more important to me as a mom/reader/writer is that Charlie has found joy in stories.

So if you’re a mom desperate to get your kid into reading, or a kid wondering if you’ll ever be able to join the reading masses, hang in there. Take yourself to the library and spend some time in whatever section appeals to you–NOT the section your friends/mother/enemy says you should be in. There’re no rules as to what makes for good reading material–just read.

And … enjoy!

________________________________________________________________________

Alex 1 (2)Alex Banks likes to say she holds a black belt in awesome since the only kind of kicking-butt she does is on paper. She lives in Utah with her kickin’ husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, one samurai dog and four zen turtles.

Alex writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction (suitable for readers over fourteen) under the name Ali Cross.

Blog/Website | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

The SuperStar School Visit

I recently attended a writer’s conference where I took a class by Middle Grade authors Chad Morris (Cragbridge Hall Series) and Tyler Whitesides (Janitors Series) on “rocking the school visit”. It was so fun! The guys taught the class by modelling for us what they do at their school visits. I thought I’d share some highlights from what I learned.

Have a theme that ties in to your books. 

For instance, Chad’s books are about inventors, so he starts his class out by asking what the kids think is the greatest invention ever (answer: THEM! People, humans, you and me.)

He uses the theme of the human body being a great invention as the core around which he builds the parts of his presentation.

Use variety.

Switch things up so it never gets boring. Use a TON of slides, sing a little opera, do a little dance . . . anything and everything that would entertain while enhancing your theme.

Celebrate a couple kids.

This is the main idea that struck me. I knew that it would be fun/good to have a kid come up to the front, but Chad said that it was important that you make the kid(s) feel good about themselves. They should be getting high fives from their buddies when they return to their seats. They should be looked at as cool and lucky for having the chance to participate.

So make sure you have fun with the kids you call up front, but don’t belittle them or embarrass them. And give them a signed poster or something as a prize.

Above all, be sincere.

I was thinking that I don’t think I have enough to bring to a school visit just yet. Oh, I could fake it, but what would be the point in that? Kids can spot a poser a mile away, I think. But if you’ve got a natural theme, a fun and real way to add variety to your presentation, then go for it! Take these tips and rock that school visit!

Oh, and p.s. Don’t forget to issue an invitation, a “call to action”, for the kids to find your books in the library, or to come to a signing or buy a book.

Parents want kids to be excited to read and if you’ve sparked that interest in their child to read YOUR book (because of your awesome visit) ~ a sale is assured! And more importantly, a fan.

JBePubAlex Banks doesn’t live on Planet Earth. Alex lives on the Prime Colony Ship orbiting Jupiter or on a pirate ship off the Nova Scotia coast, or on a world called Insulunda where the land masses shift and move like clouds in the sky. Wherever there are dreams to be charted like stars, or fun to be had just down the street . . . that’s where you’ll find Alex Banks.
(Alex Banks is a pen name for YA/NA author, Ali Cross)
Jump Boys Site | Blog Facebook Twitter Email