What Cara’s Been Doing

To continue this week of updates on what we Riskies have been up to…

CARA PROJECT #1: A light-hearted Regency romance that’s a bit of a Cinderella story. My heroine Ruth (yes, she’s a poor parson’s daughter!) is clever and witty and quite underappreciated. She’s also stuck in the middle of the most lonesome part of Norfolk (full of pretty flint churches, like the Norfolk church pictured here). As she’s a proper young lady, she can’t escape except through marriage:

She could not travel without a husband, and she was not likely to find a husband while living in a nowhere part of England known only as “take the smaller road north from Little Ellingham, pass the village of Ipsham, and stop before you reach a large herd of sheep.”

There were few men in this corner of the world, and most of them owned more canes than teeth. And even if eligible gentlemen ever appeared–if they were lost, for instance–she knew they still wouldn’t want to marry her.

She had sense enough to know that men wanted more than just sense in a wife. They wanted a pretty face and a docile spirit, sparkling conversation and at least some semblance of a bosom.

This project is currently being considered by an editor at a publisher that will remain nameless, lest I jinx myself. (Knock wood, fingers crossed, et cetera.)

CARA PROJECT #2: Another Regency, this novel borders on farce, and is set in Bath, beautiful Bath. (My heroine will of course visit the Upper Rooms, pictured here — the photo’s from the movie of “Persuasion.”) My youthful heroine, Essie, has far more enthusiasm than prudence:

“I shall be so good, you will not even know me! I promise not to gossip, or get into scrapes, or complain about anything. That is, I shall certainly try,” she amended, recalling that she was also not to make promises she could not keep.

If the aforementioned publisher buys Project 1, then they will hopefully want Project 2 as well — which will be a lot of fun to write. (It’s only just begun, as the song says…)

CARA PROJECT #3: I have a young adult novel — partly a romance — that I am currently shopping about. This is about the adventures of a high school student who starts dating a college guy — and not just your average college guy, but an engineering student at a nearby technical college.

You could hardly call me cute. Stick-figure skinny is more like it. You ever heard of those things called breasts? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately, my knowledge is entirely theoretical. It’s not like I’ve ever actually owned a pair.

( You may notice that this heroine has a similar problem to Ruth in Project #1! Ah, the concerns that span the ages…)

CARA PROJECT #4: I have begun a new young adult novel, this one with a paranormal twist. I can’t say any more — my muse has sworn me to secrecy…

Well, that’s (most of) what I’m up to, barring a few science fiction short stories, and a play I want to write. (What was that? Did someone say I’m writing in too many genres? No, surely not.) πŸ™‚

Well, here’s a question for those of you who’ve actually read this far (or just skipped to the end): what young adult novels (if any) did you love when you were a teen? (Or which do you love now, if you are a teen, or if you’re still reading YA, as I am?)

Cara Kingwww.caraking.com
MY LADY GAMESTER — Booksellers’ Best Finalist for Best Regency of 2005!

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14 Responses to What Cara’s Been Doing

  1. First off, good luck on your projects, Cara.

    And second, I recently read (as did my book club) Stephenie (sic)Meyer’s Twilight, which was a YA vampire story. And it was AMAZING.

  2. Lois says:

    Hope to see those books, they sound very cool! πŸ™‚ Me, I was reading science books when I was younger. Which I still do, just now with Romances added in. πŸ™‚

    PS – I feel like the one person who never read Harry Potter, though I wonder how young they really are anymore. LOL πŸ™‚


  3. No. Lois, I haven’t read Harry Potter either.

    I love your creativity and versatility. Best of luck!


  4. Santa says:

    Well, you know I’ll be there for Projects 1& 2, they sound yummy! I’ll bring the other two to my niece’s attention.

    I’ll keep as many fingers and toes that I can crossed, knock on wood and ward off the evil eye for you! I can’t wait for more!!!

    A play you say…..

  5. Todd says:

    I can’t say that I read a lot of young adult novels when I was a young adult…which of course was terribly, terribly recently. Practically seems like yesterday! Ahem. Like Lois, I read a lot of science books (especially collections of essays by Isaac Asimov), and a lot of sci fi and fantasy.

    One that I read more recently that I really enjoyed was Philip Pullman’s “The Ruby in the Smoke.” Victorian England, stolen treasures, opium dens. What’s not to like? Though maybe this technically counts as children’s rather than young adult. So hard to figure that out…the heroine is sixteen, I think.


  6. I don’t read a lot of YA, either, but I did recently read “A Great and Terrible Beauty” (author’s name escapes me, as they often do…) It was great, a sort of Gothic-paranormal set in a Victorian girls’ boarding school.

    All your projects sound fab, Cara!

  7. Suisan says:

    Cara, everything here sounds luscious.

    My daughter just finished Great and Terrible Beauty, and the sequel, Rebel Angels. She came into the room jumping at every step.

    Mom. You. Have. To. Read These!

    YA has some very cool stuff these days.

  8. Cara King says:

    A friend of mine couldn’t log in to Blogspot, so she emailed me her comment. Here it is!


    All four projects sound intriguing! I look forward to reading them one day soon.

    Sadly, I can’t remember exactly what I read at what stage of my life, since I continue to read genre fiction of every age. The YA and juvenile novels particularly lodged in my memory include Diana Wynne Jones’ “Fire and Hemlock”, Robin McKinley’s “Deerskin”, Nancy Bond’s “A String in the Harp”, the aftorementioned “His Dark Materials” trilogy, and both “Good NIght, Mr. Tom” and “Back Home” by Michelle Magorian.

    I don’t know if Jo Walton’s recent “Tooth and Claw” is considered YA, but it’s a wonderful Victorian pastiche set amongst dragons.


  9. Cara King says:

    Oh wow, lots of great books for me to check out! πŸ™‚

    Megan, I’ll definitely look up the Meyer book. (I admit I’d never heard of it! There are SO many books out there…)

    Lois — speaking of not having read Harry Potter…I’m in a science fiction/fantasy book reading group whose stated purpose is to read all those “OMG I can’t believe you haven’t read THAT” books… πŸ™‚ (Though the difficulty is, we’ve all not read different books…if that makes sense…)

    Santa — my play (if I ever write it) would actually be set during the English Regency…hmm… πŸ™‚

    Got to go — will comment on the other comments in a bit!


  10. Cara King says:

    Amanda & Suisan, I’ll have to check out that book! Sounds great.

    Todd, those Pullman books are definitely on my TBR list. (Of course, they have been for a while…so many books, so little time.)

    Jean — when I first read Diana Wynne Jones’s “Fire and Hemlock” I think I was in college… Anyway, for the first half, I thought it was going to be the best, most meaningful book of my life. Or something like that. By the end, I thought it was really good, but not my favorite of hers. (My favorites would probably be Charmed Life, Drowned Ammet, and Howl’s Moving Castle. With strong honorable mentions for Witch Week, Cart and Cwidder, Power of Three, Deep Secret…and probably others that I’m forgetting.)

    I found McKinley’s “Deerskin” to be moving and powerful and very very dark. Not my fave of hers (which would be “The Blue Sword” by a mile.)

    I’ve never read the Nancy Bond — now it’s on my list! I read the Michelle Magorians, and though I liked them, they’re not top of my list. (I think the frequent POV shifts threw me off…)

    Okay, lots of new books for my TBR list — this has been fun!


  11. Cara King says:

    On Wednesday’s post, Santa asked:

    Quick, slightly off topic question:

    YA fiction – what’s the age group that’s geared towards? My daughter is nine but reads two grade levels above. So, how do I find reading to hold her interest without it being too “interesting”.

    Santa, there are sort of two different YA ages right now: the younger books are aimed at something like ages 11 – 14, or 12 – 15, or thereabouts. (I’m estimating). More recently, there have also been a bunch of YA books aimed at older readers, maybe ages 15 – 22 (these would include the Gossip Girls books and all the other recent racy books you may have heard of.)

    I do see your problem — you probably wouldn’t want to give even a lot of the younger teen books to your nine year old. Even if they didn’t have subject matter you thought inappropriate, they’d likely not interest her so much.

    However, there are an awful lot of good books aimed at older elementary schoolers. Here are my recommendations…you may know some of these books, and your daughter may have read some of these books, but hopefully here are some new ideas! Anyway, I recommend:


    C. S. Lewis — the Narnia books, starting with THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (ignore anyone or any series numbering that says to start with a different book; that’s just silliness.) (Of course, you probably already know about the Narnia books. But worth mentioning.)

    Edward Eager — HALF MAGIC, followed by MAGIC BY THE LAKE, KNIGHT’S CASTLE, and then THE TIME GARDEN. (He wrote three other books, not as good IMHO, but definitely readable.)

    Mary Norton — the Borrowers books, starting with THE BORROWERS.

    Diana Wynne Jones — a few of her books are written for adults or teens, but most are for kids, but thoroughly enjoyable by teens and adults. I highly recommend CHARMED LIFE, and if your daughter likes that, the other Chrestomanci books.

    Joan Aiken — THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE, followed by BLACK HEARTS IN BATTERSEA and NIGHTBIRDS ON NANTUCKET. These aren’t clearly fantasy, but they actually take place in an alternate England in which the Hanoverians never came to power. πŸ™‚

    Alexander Key — his books are mostly about kids with psychic powers. Try THE FORGOTTEN DOOR or ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN or THE MAGIC MEADOW.

    Eleanor Cameron — the Mushroom Planet books, starting with THE WONDERFUL FLIGHT TO THE MUSHROOM PLANET.

    L. Frank Baum — if she hasn’t read the Oz books, you might try her on them. I particularly recommend OZMA OF OZ.

    Lloyd Alexander — The Prydain books, starting with THE BOOK OF THREE. (He was never my favorite author, but I know a lot of people who adored these books when they were kids. I thought they were readable.)

    Edward Ormondroyd — TIME AT THE TOP. Great fun book about girl who travels back to the late 19th century.


    Noel Streatfeild — her books are mostly about English kids training for ballet or theatre careers (in England) and they’re fabulous. If your daughter hasn’t read BALLET SHOES, the first and best Streatfeild, I highly recommend it.

    Maud Hart Lovelace — the Betsy-Tacy books. The first starts when Betsy’s five, so if you think that would lose your daughter’s interest, you could start with one of the slightly older books, such as BETSY AND TACY GO OVER THE BIG HILL or BETSY AND TACY GO DOWNTOWN.

    Clifford B. Hicks — the Alvin Fernald books (he’s a boy inventor who gets into all sorts of fun.)

    Fitzgerald — the Great Brain books, starting with THE GREAT BRAIN. (These, and the Alvin Fernald books, have male protagonists. Don’t know if your daughter would mind.)

    Laura Ingalls Wilder — the Little House books, if she hasn’t read them; you might want to start with ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK if you think your daughter wouldn’t want to read the younger books.

    Natalie Savage Carlson — THE HAPPY ORPHELINE and its sequels; set in a French orphanage.

    Anyway, those are my recommendations, Santa! Hopefully there are things in the list that your daughter hasn’t read yet, but will like!

    Good luck!


  12. heavens, Cara, do you find time to eat and sleep?
    I rather liked the Wizard of Earthsea books (still do) by Ursula LeGuin.

  13. Cara King says:

    Oh, yes, I loved the Earthsea books too! At least, the first three. And some of the more recent things. (TEHANU I will try to forget.) πŸ™‚

    I’ve only read one of LeGuin’s non-Earthsea adult books, but it was very interesting. I’ve been meaning to go read more of hers — but, sigh, so many books. so…oh yeah, you all know the rest. πŸ™‚

    BTW, to actually answer my original question (what YA did you read as a teen), I didn’t read much YA fiction when I was a teen, except for Paula Danziger. But the genre is much wider now, I think, and there are lots of authors I like…such as Meg Cabot and Joan Bauer. And Ellen Emerson White is definitely near the top of my list of all-time faves. And I love certain Caroline B. Cooney books. And some Chris Crutcher.

    (This list of YA authors, BTW, mostly doesn’t include fantasy authors…in my mind, I don’t strongly segregate fantasy written for children, young adults, and adults… Fantasy authors I love at least some books by, who sometimes write for young adults, include Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley, Garth Nix, Philip Pullman, and Vivian Vande Velde.)

    Okay, more than anyone here wanted to know! But once I start talking books, it’s hard to stop. πŸ™‚


  14. Elena Greene says:

    Cara, I think you will have to develop a split personality (like Diane/Diane) to handle this range of ideas. Write on! πŸ™‚

    Elena, who is slowly catching up with Harry Potter

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