Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” to her fans, Diane is an author, blogger and speaker with the National Speaker Association. Her young adult series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting” ties all of Wolfe’s goal-setting and leadership seminar information together into one complete, enthusiastic package. Ten years associating with a motivation training system and her experience as a foster parent gave her the in-depth knowledge of relationships, personality traits and success principals. Wolfe travels the East Coast extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, averaging more than 100 appearances each year. She maintains a dozen websites and blogs, manages an online writer’s group, and contribute articles for several other sites. Her blog and web site can be found at: http://www.thecircleoffriends.net/ and http://www.spunkonastick.net/
The world has changed since the days of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Young adults now face issues such as drugs, alcohol, abuse, gang violence, sexuality, and crime, and far more often than those even thirty years ago experienced. Teens struggle to define moral boundaries and separate right from wrong. At such a critical point in their lives, this is when they need the most guidance, encouragement, and assurance that there is hope!
“Do the right thing” is not a theme that resonates in much of today’s YA fiction. In an attempt to sell more books or appear gritty and realistic, many authors abandon values and standards. The lines become blurred for young people as they receive conflicting information at a time when they are most susceptible to negative influences. If we wonder why crime rate, drug use and teen pregnancies are escalating, then we have only to look at the messages sent to our youth on a daily basis.
Since we cannot take on the whole world, let’s start with young adult reading material.
But wait! Today’s teens want realism. They don’t want their books sugarcoated or devoid of the harsh realities of life. They’ll certainly resent a preachy story! How do we as writers create tales that are both intriguing and morally sound?
To achieve this goal, we have to resist passing judgment on our characters. No one is perfect, and every human makes mistakes. The Circle of Friends contains many characters that stumble and fall. Often it is through our challenges and mistakes that we learn. As with any good story, the idea is to show rather than tell. Throughout the book, show the character struggling with his or her issues, fighting to resist what is wrong. At our core, most people are honest and want to do the right things in life, and young people will relate to this inner battle.
When a character’s judgment falters, do not be afraid to show consequences. In The Circle of Friends, Book III, James made a decision that resulted in Maria’s pregnancy. At the time, they were unmarried and still in college. It was certainly not a favorable situation! However, once James came to grips with reality, he realized he had an obligation to Maria. He was afraid, but he accepted his responsibility as a man and married the mother of his child. Their life together would not be easy, both financially and emotionally, but James wanted to correct his mistake and do the right thing.
Often instances of proper behavior can be shown in a character’s upbringing and key influences, whether positive or negative. James was no stranger to the concept of a hard day’s work. He often worked more than one job and was diligent to maintain his grades in school. His intense focus stemmed from two needs in his life, though. An abusive father had caused James much agony and distress. Rather than resort to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, James kept his mind occupied with work and school instead. He also desired to escape his negative home life and realized money and a college education was his only hope.
More than anything, young people want to know they are not alone in their confusion. They want to discover other individual who struggle with feelings of loneliness and rejection. For that very reason, teens should also be given a reason to hope. Solutions should be provided; answers that are legal, ethical, and moral and will set them on the path to a better life. If encouraged to do the right things, young adults can then build on that positive foundation. As evidenced by James’s life, the past does not equal the future.
Will young adults find drama and angst in these types of stories? Will they relate to the characters? Will they learn to do the right thing from the examples set? Of course, the answer to all these questions is yes. Just don’t reveal that fact or you’ll spoil the book for them!
The latest in her series, The Circle of Friends, Book III…James, was released on August 18, 2009
Description: The future appears bright for James Sheppard. Emerging from a troubled childhood, he is blessed with talent and a good work ethic. Excelling in his classes and at the campus newspaper, James’s goal of editor appears within his grasp. However, years of abuse and loneliness have dampened his spirit. By the time Maria enters his world, James is nearing the breaking point. Her innocent love slowly fills the void in his life, boosting his confidence and giving him hope.When a crisis abruptly forces him into adulthood, James is saddled with more responsibility than expected. Struggling to cope with the situation, the past returns to haunt him. Will James find peace before the mistakes of his father destroy him completely?
$19.95 USA, 6×9 Trade paperback, 296 pages, Fiction/YA
Here’s what some other web sites had to say about the book:
“I could not put this book down… This was a wonderful book that will make you fall in love with the characters, hurt when they hurt and rejoice when things go their way.”
- Debbie’s World of Books
“It is a study of the depth of the human heart and the choices we make in our lives… Wolfe deftly manages to draw you into the story and makes you care for these characters.”
- The Book Pedler
“Full of friendship, love and true life situations, Circle Of Friends Book III is a recommended read for YA of all ages.”
- Missy’s Book Nook