All posts by Doug

Growing up in Oklahoma, I began writing screenplays in 1998 and became a 2001 semi-finalist in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. My script Father Figure was one of 129 scripts left from 5,489 entries. I made the switch to writing young adult novels in 2008. My first novel Skid was honored as a young adult semi-finalist in the 2013 Best Kindle Book Awards. In 2014 My Girlfriend Bites was honored in the same category. I'm also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I respect cats, love the mountains, and one time walked the streets of Barcelona with a smile on my face.

Celebrating World Book Day

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Why do I love to read?

When I was young I was a history nerd. Reading about the past allowed me to experience it in a vivid way that captivated my young mind. The different people. The different cultures. The different ideas that shaped their world and ours. I loved how these mere history books could take me to past civilizations which could only be experienced through the pages of a book. It was my time traveling device in a way. Open a book. Turn the page. Explore a new ancient world. And when dinner was ready, I could close the book and come back to my own time.

Although doing all this with a DeLorean would have been much cooler, but I digress.

When I was an adult, reading young adult fiction allowed me to understand a perspective I still couldn’t get my head around, even at the age of 40. That baffling question? Women.

By reading about the young female heroines in those books, I began to understand a different viewpoint. One which gave me a new insight on concerns and worries that women had which I had no clue about until I read about them. I can also understand the anxieties and fears we both share and see the similarities between us. The similarities that make both men and woman human beings.

To me, reading is a meaningful leap forward towards empathy, something I never want to lose and I hope most human beings on this earth will try to strive for.

This is why I love to read.

The Kick Ass Girls of YA Blog Hop

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I’m proud to be a part of the Kick Ass Girls of YA Blog Hop today. Even though I’m a male young adult author, I see the incredible value of these novels for not only girls but for boys as well. I can speak from experience.

When I started reading and studying YA novels, I found myself understanding the opposite sex a little bit more and being able to understand how women and young girls see the world. It’s been an amazing education. But I’m not here to say that I now understand everything about women because that would be a total lie. However, I wish I had the knowledge I have now when I was a younger man because it would have helped me understand that girls were not this strange creatures with alien-type brains…but they were more like me than I could ever imagine.

My post for this wonderful event is a fictitious media article written about one of my kick-ass girls of YA Samantha Sutton, a girl race car driver with big dreams and the talent to make them happen. I hope you enjoy it.


 Excerpt from the magazine article A Girl and Her Race Car by Emma Hobbs, Berlin
fashion editor, Smashing Magazine.

The Berlin traffic snakes along the Strattenstrasse, past a small café named the Tiny Goose. The early afternoon sun casts a shadow across my wood table, courtesy of the large awning in front of the café itself. A gentle breeze plays with the leafs of the flowers that add color to my table as a place setting.

I’m here to meet Samantha Sutton, a young woman of only eighteen years who races cars in that macho-infused sport known as Formula One, a glamorous world of men and their expensive toys traveling the world to race cars in between the party-like atmosphere of the international jet-set. The sport draws royalty, the ultra-rich, and Hollywood celebrities like moths to bright light. But inside this testosterone-laced world Samantha Sutton is quite unique. No, it’s not the obvious fact that she’s the only girl racing in Formula One. It’s the surprising fact that she’s beating all the boys in Formula One. With six race wins on her record, all within her rookie year, Samantha Sutton proved that not only can woman compete equally in the sport. They can win.

Samantha arrives late to our appointment wearing a short white skirt and matching shirt which lists her racing team’s sponsors. Her short dark hair appears slightly damp, as if still drying from a quick trip to the shower.

“Jeez. I’m so sorry. My other thing ran late and I was rushing to get ready for this. Huge apologies, Emma, seriously.” Samantha glances over to her assistant, a girl who appears just as young as her. “Do you want anything?”

Samantha orders two coffees and a piece of cake in German, flavoring it with a slight Bavarian accent. We talk as we wait for their coffee. Samantha remarks about how busy her life has become since her first season in Formula One.

“Last season everyone ignored me until half-way through when I began winning races. Now it’s like, non-stop. It’s completely crazy with all the parties, fan events, sponsor events, racing the car, my love life —” The girl stops herself abruptly. What about her love life? It causes me to wonder if a teen girl who is forced to grow up so fast can find time for boys. Maybe not.

When Samantha gets her coffee, we begin the official interview.

“Why auto racing?” I ask. “What excites you about the sport, Samantha?

“It’s the rush of adrenaline I get from being on the circuit. Making the car dance around the turns and do what I want. It’s like standing on a mountain cliff and holding your foot over the drop, knowing that you could die if you took that last step. But for some reason, you know that you can hold it there on that edge and somehow not fall.”

“Is it safe to say you love taking risks?”

“Not on purpose,” she says. “Not if it means someone else might get hurt. But I can be impulsive sometimes and that’s where I get into trouble.”

“The pressure to win and be successful must be enormous,” I say. “How do you cope?”

“I eat tons of chocolate ice cream,” she grins. “Just kidding. Um—I try to push all the negative thoughts away and focus on what I can do in the race car. Everything else I don’t have control over and I have to keep telling myself that. But I’d be lying if I said there were days the pressure didn’t get to me.” Samantha hesitates and takes a sip of her coffee. Her thoughts lingering on the last portion of her answer.

“Does your family travel with you during the season?” I ask.

“Well, my sister Paige is here this season.” Samantha references her assistant. “But the rest of my family are still in Oklahoma. They have their own lives.”

I swirl what’s left of my cup of tea and drink, the strong, tangy flavor reminds of the girl sitting across the table. Even in this relaxed atmosphere there’s a burning determination in her eyes. A fire or this relentless energy percolating behind them.

“Samantha, when did you first know that this is what you wanted to do with your life?”

“My dad got me started racing karts when I was ten. He already loved racing and I think he was disappointed that he had three daughters. Not to say that my dad didn’t absolutely love us, because he always did. But growing up, none of us were particularity interested in racing.” Samantha’s face brightened, as if reliving that moment in her life again. “Then one day my dad was watching one of his favorite racing movies called, Grand Prix. That day I was so bored I jumped on the couch and watched it with him. Something about that movie attracted me to racing and from then on, I would spend more and more time with dad in his make-shift garage he had in the barn.”

Samantha hesitated again, her eyes danced a bit in her head, as if the memories of her father were flashing vividly through the girl’s head. “Dad built me a racing kart and encouraged me to try it. I was extremely shy back then and I didn’t have any confidence in myself at all. But when I drove that kart, I felt alive and free. And I picked up on racing fast. Dad taught me how to drive and eventually he entered me in races. And I started to win a lot of them. Seriously, the boys would hate it when I showed up at the track. They didn’t want to race against me. I loved it. I knew that I wanted to do this forever because I loved how racing made me feel. I didn’t feel like that shy girl no one would pay attention to. Behind the wheel of a race car, I was someone special. People couldn’t ignore me. Plus I could feel good about myself.” She glances up. “Am I rambling too much? I have a tendency to do that when I’m nervous.”

I asked Samantha a few more questions about her father. Samantha fidgeted in her chair and acted uncomfortable around the subject which I found odd since she talked about her father so fondly before. There was something about him she was hiding and I didn’t quite know what it was.

A young man walked off the street and into the Tiny Goose café. Samantha’s sister Paige greeted the boy warmly and sat with him at the table adjacent to us. He wore his blond hair long and had a handsomely meek way about him. The young man smiled at Samantha. The girl I was interviewing brightened like a fire doused with petrol. Her body language changed immediately. She gave the boy a wave and couldn’t take her eyes off of him. When I asked Samantha a question about dealing with her fans, she gave me a less than satisfactory answer. So I decided to confront the disturbance to our interview.

I held out my hand to the young man. “Emma Hobbs. Smashing Magazine. What is your name?”

The boy shakes my hand. “Manfred. Pleasure to meet you.”

A hunch entered my mind and I decided to follow it. “Please excuse my forwardness, but are you Samantha’s boyfriend by chance?”

Manny blushed like a rose and became unable to answer me with words. Samantha emulated her bashful friend. The girl flashed a smile reserved for close friends sharing an inside joke or thought. “Well? Are you my boyfriend?”

Manfred smiled. “I don’t know. Are you my girlfriend?”

The girl and the boy stared at each other. Obviously having a conversation in their own silent language that no one else was invited to join.

Paige, the third wheel in this relationship, rolled her eyes. “Oh my God. Stop being such dorks. This reporter isn’t stupid. Yes, of course they’re together. Can’t you see my sister panting like a dog when he’s around?”

Samantha leaned over and whacked her sister across the arm. No doubt a leftover response from when they were children. “I don’t pant like a dog.” Samantha sat up in her chair and went back into professional mode. “I’m sorry, Emma. Let’s get back to the interview. Manfred—let’s say that he’s an important part of my racing life.” She flicks her eyes toward the young man. “I wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for him.” I tried digging deeper into that statement. But Samantha refused to reveal anything more.

As I concluded our interview with a few questions about how she saw her future, Samantha relaxed as she sensed the end of our interview was soon at hand. She’s a pleasant young lady, but giving interviews to reporters wasn’t on her list of favorite activities to do on a warm Saturday afternoon in Berlin. I couldn’t blame her. I was eighteen once. Even though the race car driver facing me treated our interview like a professional, the girl underneath the helmet and racing suit still wanted to be with her boy. Still wanted a taste of being young and in love on the warm streets of Berlin. She still longed to be a normal teenager.

But the one question I didn’t get answered was…after all she’s been through, could the racing star Samantha Sutton ever be a normal girl again?


If you’re interested in reading about Samantha’s exciting life, the first novel in the racing romance series Skid is free on most ebook platforms or you can order the paperback if you prefer.

YA Author Libby Heily is hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway of three kick ass YA ebook titles of your choosing! But hurry, the giveaway expires on Thursday.

Once Upon a Time at Starbucks…

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So I have a story for you.

Yesterday I was doing some writing at Starbucks. Then my dad came by for coffee and we enjoyed it outside because it was a nice day. Afterwards, we went to McNellies for dinner. It was only after that I realized I had left my backpack outside at Starbucks.

Yeah…holy…you know what.

We went back and hoped it was somehow still there and tucked away in the corner. But it was of course gone and no one had turned the bag into Starbucks. My bag had my laptop and my backup drive in it. (I know I’m stupid)

Well, I was screwed. My outline and my first draft progress on the new Skid novel was gone. Lots of hard work now all of a sudden vanished. I went home and was convinced I would never see my stuff again.

Today I spent four hours rewriting my missing outline the best I could do from memory before taking a break and looking on Facebook. There, I had a new friend request. When I looked at the lady’s Facebook page, right there on the front was a post asking if anyone knows Doug Solter because she found some items he might want back.

Talk about being blown away!

I posted my number and she called. My luck continued as I found out my laptop was still there. (Cue hopeful-sounding movie soundtrack now) We then met at a public location to exchange the backpack. She was kind and didn’t take any money when I offered. She told me it was in a ditch by the side of the road. She had passed it three times before thinking that some student might have a computer in the bag so she picked it up. Lucky for me she did and my name was on the startup menu on the computer.

The weirdest thing was that nothing was missing! Laptop, power supply, backup drive…I even had my kindle and some nice headphones in there as well. Very strange.

So one huge thank you to Nina from Bixby, OK for being a kind and decent human being.

And all the SKID series fans can thank her for saving the book…literally.

Out of the Ashes

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Phoenix detail from Aberdeen Bestiary (PD-US)

Out of the ashes and into the fire. This blog has been as quiet as a slug dancing across a leaf for several months now so I think it’s time to shake off the cobwebs, kick the tires, and dust off this poor thing to see if it can still run. Stay tuned for a lot more posts about young adult books, television, movies, music, travel, and other (I hope) interesting things. This will be a more personal blog where I’ll post about subjects that interest me rather than a blog devoted to posts about the craft of writing because a writer is more than just that. The world shows us big, shiny beads that can distract writers from doing more important things, like writing more chapters in that work-in-progress that readers are impatiently waiting to read. So this blog will be devoted to all those big, shiny beads and why they distract me so.

Spies Like Me Book Release!

Hi Everyone!

I know this blog had been quiet for a long time. It’s hard to write posts when you’re focusing all your creative energy and free time writing more books. In future, I hope to post more about various things that I find interesting and I hope you will too. At least, I’m going to try and that’s all I can promise you.

In the meantime…I’m releasing a new book! This young adult novel starts a brand new spy series called The Gems. Book number 1 is called Spies Like Me and features four teen girls who kick butt and make the world a safer place. Bellow is a quick trailer to give you more of an idea about the book.

If you’d like to find out more, here’s the universal link with all the retailers.

And, to celebrate the release I’m running a giveaway where you can win a Grand Prize of a free Kindle Paperwhite. First Prize is a signed paperback copy of Spies Like Me. Second Prize is an eBook pack of all five of my books.

Important: This giveaway closes in 72 hours – so if you plan to buy the book anyway, doing so right now will give you five additional giveaway entries. But there is no purchase required for entry.

All the best,

Doug

 

Writing Conferences…why bother?

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Writing Conferences…why should a writer bother attending them?

Good question. But you know my answer already because if it was a no, why would I waste time to write this blog post? I would sleep. I like sleep.

Why should writers bother with writing conferences? Two reasons in no particular order…

First, no one understands what writers go through, except other writers. No matter how much your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, life partner, or small furry animal loves you…they’ll never understand what you’re going through. The moment you complain about how your key scene in act one needs more internal conflict or how you dread rewriting all your third-person narrative into first-person because you’re convinced it’s the right thing to do…your loved one will give you a blank stare.

Or they’ll say…

“You’re a great writer. You’ll think of something.”

You know they mean well, but that’s not helpful.

Writing conferences are awesome because it’s the one place where writers can talk about writing and everyone around you understands. Writing conferences are like that bar on the 80’s TV show Cheers, everyone there knows your name, figuratively. They know what you’ve been through because most of them have worn your writer’s shoes. They know how hard it is. They might have rewritten a book from third-person to first-person and they might have learned a short-cut you can use to take the sting out of your rewrite. They might know how to approach an agent. They might know how to write a query-letter. They might even know a cool new way to introduce internal conflict in a scene you’re struggling with.

Writers understand other writers. And since gathering shy writers together in a public setting is about as hard as herding squirrels…any opportunity to step into your writer’s bar, have a drink, and talk shop is something a writer should jump at.

I guarantee you’ll feel better and get a much-needed boost to your writing brain.

Second reason you should go to a writing conference…networking.

Yuck! Dirty word! No!!!!!!!

Chill out. Networking doesn’t mean being a salesman. It means…listening…to people. That’s all. Get to know everyone you meet. What do they write? Who do they like to read? Find the person under the stranger you’re meeting. Get them to talk and listen. Maybe they’re just another writer like you. Maybe they’re a New York lit agent presenting at the conference. It doesn’t matter who that person is…talk and listen to them.

Next, think about how you can help them, not how they can help you. Is that lit agent looking for a zombie-mermaid paranormal romance? You don’t write that, but this nice lady you met at a session yesterday does have a manuscript like that. Help introduce them.

Is that new writer expressing trouble with writing in first-person? Offer advice or a good book on the subject. Help them.

Why should you network? Because you’ll need help on your writing career. Lots of help. Doesn’t matter if you’re pursuing traditional publishing or indie publishing, the same rule applies. I can’t tell you how many times my friends came to my rescue when I needed their help. A free beta read? No problem. Offering me a free interview on their book blog during my launch without me asking them? No problem. A famous young adult author helps me set up a Q&A session with them and their agent to help my other writer friends? No problem.

It’s a great feeling when friends do that. It makes you want to help them even more.

And then they help you more.

You see where I’m going with this?

Give to others without expectations and the smart ones will reciprocate. That’s networking.

And where’s a great place to network and learn from lots of writers and people in publishing?

You know the answer.

If you would like to network with me and my friends…our chapter of SCBWI is having a children’s writing conference on Saturday, April 16 in Oklahoma City. You can get all the details clicking on the banner below. You don’t have to be a SCBWI member to go. You just have to love writing for kids/teens and you want to get serious about it.

Hope to see you there!

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Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

My heart can’t help but flutter at the sheer potential awesomeness of this movie. However…my heart must overcome my brain’s horrific memory of that midnight showing of The Phantom Menace. The night the child inside me died. Yes, it was only a movie. But growing up in 1977, Star Wars was everything. As an 8-year-old it shifted my perception. Made me dream. It created the creativity inside me. Or at least gave birth to what was already there.

I hope this movie can give back at least one hour of those six magical ones I spent in the summers of 1977, 1980, and 1983 as a kid munching on popcorn and dreaming of adventures in space. If this film can give just a little of that magic back, I’ll gladly overlook any of its imperfections.

But if Jar Jar Binks shows up I’m gonna lose my sh*t.