All posts by susankayequinn

Kids’ Books for Readers of All Ages

The vast majority of my readers are adults… even though I write middle grade and young adult stories. Why are readers well over the age when books are assigned in school drawn to these stories? Fast pacing. Great, colorful characters. Action without horrific bloodshed. Romance without too much in the sexytimes department. These stories are filled with what I call “good, old-fashioned storytelling.” It’s no surprise to me that adults love them!

If you like faeries and magick and all things YA Fantasy…

Right now, you can pick up a raft of clean fun in the Crossing Worlds YA Fantasy StoryBundle – it has my MG story Faery Swap (a Prince and the Pauper meets Warrior Faeries tale) along with nine other novels: 

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(bundle ends Friday 4/17!)

Pay what you like and get an awesome StoryBundle of 10 ebooks!

If you like robots and creativity and all things YA Science Fiction…

One knock against YA and younger stories is that they don’t tackle serious topics. They’re “fluff” reading. This is usually said by people who don’t actually read YA or MG. My latest YA novel tackles a future world where most of humanity has ascended into a god-like human/robot hybrids with vastly superior intelligence, leaving behind a few legacy humans who are preserved for their genetic diversity. Here’s what reviewers are saying about it:

“Science fiction with philosophical depth.”

“Palpable intelligent fiction at its best, for any age reader.”

“The Legacy Human has it all: memorable characters with agency, great villains, impossible odds, and tremendous world-building… I’d even go so far as to compare it favorably to DUNE, my favorite sci-fi novel of all time.”

Not exactly “fluff.” 🙂 This is actually what I love about YA – it can dive deep into complex world-building without being dragged down by a lot of grown-up angst. Everything is fresh and new (and terrifying and dangerous) for our young protagonists. I think the enduring popularity of YA is because it has a sense of wonder that properly belongs to an age where every 30 seconds some new technology pops up to change our lives.

I hope you’ll dip into the YA pool and give some of these stories a try!

Susan Kaye Quinn, Speculative Fiction Author

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.

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My latest…

TheLegacyHuman(Singularity#1)FINAL750pix

“Hunger Games meets I-Robot”

Amazon

What would you give to live forever? Or save your mother’s life?”

Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender—a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid—after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.

When immortality is the prize, winning the Game is all that matters.

The Legacy Human is the first in Susan Kaye Quinn’s new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.

New Release: The Columbus Initiative by Teen Author Adam Quinn #MiddleGrade

Order of the Sky (Book 3)
by Adam Quinn (aka Dark Omen)
Even as the fledgling Galactic Resistance prepares for an all-out revolution, a dark government secret comes to light that has the potential to shape the future of the galaxy.

Kindle, Nook on Adam’s website

All Adam’s books on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble
available in ebook and print
Adam Quinn is the son of Emblazoner Susan Kaye Quinn.
My son, Adam Quinn, is fifteen years old and has written three novels, a novella, and is currently working on his next novella. He seriously puts his mother to shame in the Early Potential Unlocked category. 

Click here to check out Adam’s author website, where he talks about the Columbus Initiative being his longest novel (100k), the strategy board game Resistance Rising he made to go with the book, and finally an analysis (complete with charts) of the wordcount and statistics, including charts like this:

Using longer wordlength than Romeo and Juliet…
Be still, my geeky heart.

He also has analyses of the number of female characters in each book of his trilogy, the relative “inquisitiveness” of various characters (Xasked/Xsaid), and the causes of death of his characters vs. in real-life in the US.

I just… wow.

Also check out this interview with Adam from his previous release of his novella Project Exibluar, and this post on publishing your kid’s work from when he released his novel Undercover War.

To say I’m proud of him is a serious understatement. In each novel, I can see Adam’s growth as a young person and as a writer – is there any greater gift for a mother? But these are books that more than his mother can appreciate – his brothers Mighty Mite and Worm Burner are by far his biggest fans, gobbling up Book 3 during our Canadian vacation and debating the finer worldbuilding points with him, turning into beta readers in their own right.

And the books are flat-out entertaining. Here’s a snippet to give you an idea of what I mean…

     “Done.” Aidan stood and disconnected his OWC from the computers. “We now have operational control over most of the base’s systems, including the starship entrance, and I have the profiles of all active Dark Cult cells in the galaxy on my OWC. Let’s get out of this place.”

     “How?” Steve asked.

     “The same way we got in,” Aidan said.

     “Crawling through derelict construction spaces?” Taylor asked.

     “No,” Aidan said. “With style.

And this…

     The battleship GGS Buttercup and its fleet disengaged their flip drives, returning to the third dimension from the seventh, where superluminal travel was possible. Their reentry into the third dimension presented GG Commander Mantradome with a picturesque view of Sambourloin—a soft green and blue orb in the star-speckled void. She cupped her hands around it and imagined what it would look like in splotchy shades of black and gray, perhaps with some seams of brilliant red if Sambourloin was a Tectonic planet—she made a mental note to look up if it was.

     Most times the GG offered her a special assignment that took her away from her day job of hunting down and killing pirates, she vehemently refused, but this time was different. They had offered her a chance to paint an entire planet of pirate-loving scum with her favorite colors! There were rumors on Galactica that she had gotten the job because the GG’s other top admirals had moral qualms about the operation, but she didn’t put too much stock in that—back in the day, people had “moral qualms” about strip-mining Jorkuun, but that worked out great for the economy! Besides, the GG had been mostly peaceful for thousands of years, so as the head of the Anti-Piracy Division, she had more combat experience than most in the military.

     “Uh, Commander?” an officer said. “Would you like us to set up the bombardment stations? Or…just stay here?”

     “Yes!” Mantradome said. “Clearly! You should have started setting them up as soon as we flipped in, you idiots!”

     “But, Commander, you airlock everyone who does things that you don’t explicitly tell them to,” the officer said.

     Mantradome motioned to the two troopers at the back of the bridge. “Airlock him!”

     “Wait, no!” the officer said.

     The troopers seized him and dragged him away.

Adam writes hilarious middle grade fiction that any young (or old) fan of Star Wars would enjoy, with strong female characters that make his mom proud. If you have kids, I encourage them to check out his books and see what a young writer is capable of, if they put in the time to finish a work, revise, and polish it. 

  
An elite government force crosses the galaxy in pursuit of an evil underground cult and discovers the Galactic Government they serve is filled with treachery.

After escaping the destruction of a mysterious prison-like facility without a memory to his name, ExibluarX must contend with the malevolent legacy of his unknown past and decide whether to pursue it or to forge his own course.

Ten Ways To Get Kids To Write

by Susan Kaye Quinn

Getting my kids to write was slightly less painful than delivering them into the world, but a lot more frustrating. Because it goes on for years and years and years …

When I tell people that my son Dark Omen wrote his first novel at 12, and now at 15 is working on finishing the trilogy, they give me this knowing look, like, Well, of course! What did you expect? You’re a writer!

If they only knew.

None of my boys (ages 11, 13, 15) enjoyed writing when they were younger (in the case of 13 year old Worm Burner, we’re still stuck in the nooooooo stage of the writing experience). But I’m a patient mom (er, sometimes), and in the spirit of my Twelve Tips for Reluctant Readers post, I’ve pulled together Ten Ways to Get Kids to Write:

When the boys were little, we had a mini-easel that was chalk on one side and marker on the other. It spread chalk dust like crazy and we were always having to clean it, but having writing materials easily available (Way #1) meant we could stop and draw letters or cats (lots of cats) at any time. Later, when they were in school, there was lots of writing time during the year, but during breaks and summer, I stapled together pages of writing paper with a construction paper “cover.” This “book” was theirs to decorate, but they had to write a sentence (or paragraph or page, depending on the age) in it every morning, setting a regular time for writing (Way #2). Sometimes I gave writing themes (Way #3), like Christmas lights or going to the pool, but mostly I let them write whatever they wanted (Way #4), even if it was only “I hate writing.” (They thought this was the height of funny.)

When they were older and could write longer passages, I enlisted the help of writing workbooks (Way #5) – get the good ones, they’re worth it – with worksheets on grammar as well as narrative writing. To mix it up a little, I also gave them assignments (Way #6): write a letter (from a list of our relatives), write a poem, write a song, write a recipe. Here it helped to have a variety of writing supplies (Way #7), from index cards to fancy stationary. The most inspiring writing materials were consistently any notebook or writing material of an odd shape or texture or origin (Way #8), whether tiny spiral bound notebooks or giant sized, cardboard-latched binders. My boys even spent one hilarious night writing secret notes on the backs of fortune cookie slips.

As long as they were writing, I was happy.

Note: most of the time I was not happy because they were not writing. I tried to give them a journal (Way #9) – not a diary – but that was met with scorn. My final Way is not really a technique, but an attitude: cultivate patience and don’t give up (Way #10). Kids all develop at their own rates and it may take time (a lot of time, years worth of time) before they reach the milestones you want. But just like reading, writing is an essential skill that will wither if not actively encouraged.

Now, Dark Omen (15) and I often steal away for lunches to discuss story arcs or how many characters he’s going to kill in his latest book. He’s already planning how we can use our vacation to critique each other’s novels (since he’s also one of my best beta readers). Meanwhile, Mighty Mite (11) has an illustrated squirrel story going that has more action and peril than you might expect, and I hope to see more chapters from him soon, maybe during our driving vacation this summer. Worm Burner (13) is perfecting his sullen teenager act, and steadfastly refusing to write anything that doesn’t involve C++ or Java. Perhaps I’ll convince him to write a users manual… or maybe some amusing comments for his code.

One thing I’ve realized along the way away is that while writing is an essential skill, creativity can take many forms. If they’re playing music, drawing, engaging in performing arts like acting or singing or dancing… all of these feed the creative engine in their brains. I’ve also realized that patience is the key to almost everything – the steady presence of stories and writing in their lives has an impact, even if they’re not novelists like Mom. And if they are, that’s just a bonus on top.

Keep at it, keep encouraging, and you’ll be surprised what your kids will come up with.

May the Odds be Always in Your Favor.*

*Getting kids to write isn’t quite as brutal as the Hunger Games, but somehow the analogy seems apt.

What Ways have worked for you?

~~*~~

Susan Kaye Quinn 300 pix

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. She writes speculative fiction for all ages, but her boys’ favorite is her middle grade fantasy, Faery Swap. She always has more books in the works. You can find out what she’s up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or by stopping by her blog (www.susankayequinn.com).

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Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn.
Especially when they possess your body.
Fourteen-year-old Finn is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut.

 

Warrior Faeries and Math Magick

Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn.
Especially when they possess your body.
Fourteen-year-old Finn is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut.
 
The best teachers are ones who aren’t simply good at what they do, but who are in love with their work. The teacher who swoons over stories. Or the one who geeks out about science and brings in stuff that explodes and oozes. Or the teacher who dresses up like Plato for the unit on Ancient Greece. These are the ones who transmit their enthusiasm by osmosis – they can’t help entrancing their students because they love their subject so much.
 
Love is contagious.
 
This is how I feel about math and science. Before I was a speculative fiction writer, I got a bunch of degrees in engineering and science. I worked for NASA, studied global warming, and was generally a Very Big Geek. I didn’t just love the gadgets… the math and science principles that created them seemed magical to me. Not because they were impossible to understand, but because they were wondrous.
 
As an author, I believe books are lessons in life. I want to use them to transmit that love, that wonder, of science, math, and technology to the young minds who will grow up to use them.
 
Prince Zaneyr sends his faery mentor back to the Otherworld.
 
In Faery Swap, my middle grade fantasy, warrior faeries leave their Otherworld and come to Earth seeking the latest mathematickal knowledge the humans have gained. They take this knowledge back to their realm, where it enhances their faery powers of dimensional magick. Mathematickal knowledge is the mostly highly prized, as it gives the faeries the ability to manipulate the very fabric of spacetime.
 
In my story, knowledge is literally power.
 

One of my favorite lines in the book comes from a sassy girl warrior faery, Liranna, who has a dim view of humans and their math abilities:

 

“For the swap, faeries only seek out the humans who have access to the highest mathematickal knowledge. The average human is impossibly stupid at mathematicks. It’s a wonder that you advance your knowledge at all. And yet, in some miracle known only to the elements, a few unusual humans make great strides in knowledge between each swap.” She slid him a haughty look. “Perhaps they are part faery.”

 
Stories are an ancient and sneaky way to drill deep into the minds of readers (or listeners or viewers) and deliver important knowledge and wisdom. But they must also be entertaining! Which is why Faery Swap has runaway faery princes, an evil faery king, a boy who needs to find his way home, and lots of magickal duels, political intrigue, and the fate of two worlds – both human and faery – hanging in the balance. Math and science are key elements in both threatening and saving the two worlds, showing that the ethical use of knowledge is as important as the knowledge itself.
 
I hope that kids will see they each have an inner warrior faery, one who is capable of seeking knowledge and performing great deeds with it!
Warrior faery prince Zaneyr at Stonehenge.
 
Faery Swap is just a children’s story, but I am in love with the ideas captured inside. I hope that love, in the form of small traces of dimensional magick, will rub off on every child who reads it.
 

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction, along with several other speculative fiction titles for adults. Faery Swap is her first published children’s story, even though she started out writing middle grade before anything else. She always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can find out what she’s up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or by stopping by her blog (www.susankayequinn.com).