Monday, August 16, 2010

Our Guest ~ Carolyn Frank

Carolyn Twede Frank grew up in Payson, Utah. Ever since elementary school she loved to write. In junior high and high school she was on the newspaper staff. Her senior year she even had her own column: Carolyn’s Corner.

While attending USU as a freshman, her journalism teacher—in an effort to “prepare her for the real world of writing”—tore down her work to the point that Carolyn gave up, dropped her minor of journalism, and concentrated on her other love—biology. She graduated with a BS in Horticulture and an MS in Botany and went on to start her own business manufacturing puppets, (go figure), totally forgetting that she once had a passion for writing.

Four years ago, after marrying, raising five kids, and growing her business to a point it was viable to sell, she rediscovered her love of writing. She has since sold her manufacturing business, retaining a small division of it that she can operate out of her home, affording her more time to write. Carolyn now lives in Kaysville, Utah. She writes YA/Middle grade historical and science fiction and hopes to be published soon.

You can visit Carolyn's blog, here.
Carolyn with her new grandson.

(She’s a writer who likes to evoke emotion)

~ ♥ ~

Isaiah warned people of the last days, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20). Why would he give this a warning if he did not know that such would be the case? On an almost daily basis I see where this is, indeed, the way of our world.

The other day I chatted with a neighbor who had recently moved to Kaysville from California. Somehow we got on the topic of the American history class her thirteen year old son attended in California. Her son, Eric, brought home a copy of the Declaration of Independence to study. My neighbor noticed how the word God and Creator had been replaced in the document with an ellipsis. She went on to mention a painting that caught her attention hanging in the hall of Kaysville Jr. High when she went to register Eric for school. It was the Arnold Freiberg painting of George Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge (one of my favorite paintings). “You would never find such a painting in any of the schools in California,” she said. “They would consider that mixing church with state.”

We’re talking about history here, not trying to convert some teenage boy to Mormonism or Catholicism, as part of the curriculum. These things happened. They are part of our country’s history. The signers of the Declaration of Independence believed in God. Their belief and faith is what moved them to seek independence. And yes, George Washington prayed to God for help as he undertook the impossible—leading a rag-tag army of farmers against the greatest military power known to that date. To deny that these events happened as they did, or to alter a historical document because it offends someone, is no different that denying the Holocaust ever happened. History is history, whether we like it or not.

I dare say that the educator that censored the Declaration of Independence for those California students was probably in favor of same sex marriage or something equally as pernicious; a perfect example of those who would call evil good and good evil.

I’ve seen this paradigm in the world of YA writers. Last year I attended the SCBWI national conference in L.A. for my first time. Up to that point I had been naive, assuming if a book was written for children it would automatically be rated G or PG. Wrong! The buzz seemed to be that YA fiction needed to be realistic, and the real world of the adolescent was filled with sex, violence and filthy language. By being open and realistic with every intimate detail on such matters, we as writers were supposedly helping kids deal with life—it was a good thing. During that conference I wondered if I even had a chance at being a successful YA author if I didn’t have an absolutely horrible high school experience and I didn’t lace my manuscript with filthy language and sex.

Fortunately, an agent from the Andrea Brown Agency reassured me that, even though sex was selling, there is still a market for good, clean YA. She, for one, did not care for the smut. I didn’t end up hooking up with that agent, but I did come away from the conference with an increased desire to write and publish well-written, entertaining, uplifting literature for kids.

I know that’s what the Lord wants me to do, and I know He has helped me thus far with my writing. If any of you YA/middle grade writers have felt a similar passion, urge, calling—whatever you want to name it—to write uplifting literature, I think it is your duty to follow it. We need to make sure that there are just as many wholesome books out there for kids to read as there is unwholesome ones. And if the world wants to make fun of our books, saying they are not what kids need or want, but their smut is, we’ll just remember Isaiah 5:20, keep writing, and give kids a choice.

~ ♥ ~

Thanks, Carolyn, for being our guest today!

Next week, we are excited to have Michael Knudsen as our featured blogger.

If you would like to be our guest, email Connie for information.


ali said...

I love this post. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this Carolyn. It is tricky, sometimes, to imagine competing in the national YA market while staying true to our values. I'm with you though--if we write it, they will read it! I think more teens/adults want clean literature than some might wish us to think.

Thanks so much for being our guest today!

Gail said...

Thank you for this amazing post. I have really been struggling with this. I want to stay close to my values but I also want to write something that is entertaining and good. Thank you again. For showing us that there is a market out there of the good stuff.

Tamara said...

I love the painting, too. Great post.

Angie said...

Great post, Carolyn. We need more uplifting books! I know that's what I want my kids reading, and I think that's what they want to read. Well, mostly they want to read epic fantasies. :) I've always had it as my goal to write fiction that is entertaining and uplifting.

RaShelle said...

Hi Carolyn. What a great post!! I don't even think teenagers like to read the "real life" stuff - at least not all of them. When I read, I read for entertainment and I think kids do too. As far as sex, I put a scene from my adult novel on my blog, it's an almost kiss. One of my readers commented perfectly. She said, it's, "the passion without the porn." I think kids like that even more than adults. Writing clean YA is still the way to go, I think.

Jolene said...

Timely post. I just a great book that I would NEVER, EVER let a teenager read, when my daughter gets there of course. I'm always surprised.

Debbie Davis said...

This is such a great post, I am glad that you had that experience to share with us. So often I pick up a book to read that is ya or middle and am shocked by the language and sex scenes that are in there that doesn't need to be. I surprises me, and I think at times books need to be rated like music. I love knowing that there is a market out there for clean good books still. Thanks for reassuring and sharing this great article! It was inspiring and well... awesome! =0)

Rebecca said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you! Thank you!

I'm constantly on the lookout for good books to stow away for my kids. I have a ten-year-old boy who likes reading YA books, and it's scary that I need to preview everything he reads.

We can certainly fight back against the tide of filth with wholesomeness! Good books don't need to be "realistic" in a smutty way.

kbrebes said...

Reading your post brought this quote to mind by Spencer W. Kimball: "Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world...will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree the the women of the Church are distinct and different--in happy ways--from the women of the world...Thus it will be that female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days." That's from "The Role of Righteous Women," Ensign, Nov, 1979. You are like this!

franklycreative said...

Thanks everyone for your awesome comments. You've all made my day. Love ya all.