Title: A Whispered Darkness
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Vanessa Barger
The old house creaks and whistles, and smells, well, like it’s been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age.
Just as things start to pick up in Claire’s love life, her mother becomes possessed. In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move.
They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and she’s their key to getting it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it’s all over?
Q: You're a high school teacher and write young adult fiction. What do you think is the key to getting teens interested in reading and/or writing?
A: Hello Susan! Thanks for allowing me to take over your blog for today!
Getting teens interested in reading and writing is a challenge for anyone, teacher or parent. As a teacher, you can’t see what they do outside of your classroom, so you can only hope that what you’re doing sticks. To some, that means throwing lots of things at the students and hoping that one of them resonates. It’s the nature of seeing 100+ kids in a day.
For me, I try my best to talk up books that I think will appeal to that student. If it’s someone I know is interested in robots, then maybe it’s a sci-fi book. A girl who loves the latest installment of Saw? A horror novel or two. I think the key is to talk it up, but not pressure them into reading (or writing – though I’ll get to that in a minute). They’re teenagers. Remember those days? Chances are good that if you push the issue, even if it looked interesting to them five minutes ago, they’ll decide not to even pick it up because you were too intense about it. Give them the option. Hook them a little and then let them decide on their own.
Sometimes it works. Sometimes novelty helps as well. Last year, my writers’ club students picked out two books each and we covered them in brown paper and they wrote keywords about the book on the paper. We then put them out as “book blind dates” in the library. For a few days, nothing moved. But I was encouraged when I noticed that slowly, over a couple of weeks, about half the books were checked out. It’s not much, but it’s a start.
If you can get authors in to talk to students, that’s another great way to get them interested. It’s a real person who is (hopefully) passionate about their subject and willing to engage in a discussion about it. Maybe it won’t get the student to read that book, but at least you’ve introduced them to it. In our world of instant gratification and the internet, sometimes making them stop and look up from their phones is one of the keys to getting their attention.
For my writers club, I work on things a little differently. These are students who usually already read a lot, and who want to write. I push them a little harder, because they are already halfway there. I still try to talk up things I think the individual students would like, but I’m also more inclined to push them outside their comfort zones a little. I give them prompts and assignments, and this year we’re working on some really exciting opportunities for these students involving author mentors. For them the challenge is staying motivated, and I work hard at providing fun ways to keep it exciting, from NANOWRIMO to an end of the year “reading party.”
My last thing would be that community and parent involvement is key. As a teacher, you can only do so much. Without community and parent support, we can’t win. I worked for nearly a year to put together a book festival sponsored by our club, with authors coming from all over the state to run workshops, do talks, and promote books. I even had some out of state authors coming. In the end, while the community donated money to the cause, we had to cancel the event because not a single soul from our county or any of the surrounding cities – not one – signed up to attend. Not only were my students and I terribly disappointed, but the community as a whole missed out. Why? Because people lose sight of the doors that reading opens. You can be anyone, anywhere, and anything in a book.
I think that’s what I wish most. That everyone would realize what we lose when people stop reading. Words are important, and books can help a teenager to realize they aren’t alone, or the only one dealing with an issue. They are comfort and an escape and a learning tool. So if you know a teen, talk up a book you think they’d like. And don’t stop trying.
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ABOUT VANESSA BARGER:
Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Virginia Writer's Club. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Giveaway Information: Winner will be drawn September 26, 2014
• Four (4) winners will receive a digital copy of A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger (INT)
• One (1) winner will receive a digital copy of A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger AND a $10 Amazon Gift Card or B&N Gift Card – Winner’s Choice (INT)
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