Message From The Author

Author's Message

Dear RT Reader,

Here’s the thing that pushed me into this new direction in my work. I began meeting young working women wherever I shopped who had read my young adult novels in middle and high school. Many shared wonderful stories about how my books had affected their lives for the better. Some swore that they had even chosen medical careers because of reading my novels. Pretty heady and humbling stuff!

I began to wonder, Could I appeal to these readers again if I wrote stories with characters 18 to 25? These girls could be out of high school and facing new life issues that included college, jobs, and serious romantic relationships. My editor gave me the green light, which was all I needed to build a two-book saga that begins with The Year of Luminous Love and continues into its sequel,The Year of Chasing Dreams.

I’ve always written realistic fiction, so I stayed with what I knew. I created a small rural town in middle Tennessee, and focused the plot on friendships, family, medical drama, and falling in love. In Luminous Love the central premise revolved around a girl fighting to save her family’s land from bankruptcy, and her two best friends, one struggling with cancer and another with a controlling and possessive boyfriend. Ciana uses her college fund to take all of them to Italy for one magical summer.

I loved writing these books, of creating backstories filled with family whose long-ago choices rumble through time to impact the present lives of these characters. I structured time charts, wrote biographies, reviewed historical events, made copious notes, wrote pages of copy that wouldn’t be in the books, but that I needed in order for the characters to come alive for me. I also promised my editor two short stories to be e-published that would support the books, but not repeat content within the books. What fun!

Most of my YA’s have a 40,000 or 50,000 word count. The Year of Luminous Love came in at well over 100,000 words. My editor printed it out and called to say, “I’ve got 550 manuscript pages here. Cut!”

So began the laborious job of winnowing the book down to a trim 90,000 words. When I wrote The Year of Chasing Dreams, I wrote a whole lot leaner — old dogs can be taught new tricks. It came in at 85,000 words. Whew! Both books are better for the editing. And each story is full of plot elements and conflicts that are faced in the everyday world of real life. I even wove stories from my personal family history into the books.

I now know that this category, New Adult, is heating up. And readers are responding. Turns out they like older characters facing “first time” problems. My goal is to continue to write such books filled with heart touching drama edged with reality and scintillating romance for grown up young adults.


- Lurlene McDaniel

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