Shelia M. Goss is the best-selling author of the young adult novel series: The Lip Gloss Chronicles: The Ultimate Test, Splitsville and Paper Thin and author of five women's fiction novels. Besides writing fiction, she is a freelance writer. She's the recipient of three Shades of Romance Magazine Readers Choice Multi-Cultural Awards and honored as a Literary Diva: The Top 100 Most Admired African American Women in Literature. Learn more about Shelia at the official Lip Gloss Chronicles website and at Shelia's official website.
DJ Johnson has been spreading nasty rumors that threaten to ruin Jasmine’s reputation. Jasmine’s home life is in turmoil too. Her parents are in the midst of a divorce, and she’s taking it hard. As if all that weren’t bad enough, Jasmine soon finds herself involved in drama that makes the situations with DJ and her parents seem like child’s play.
Why write teen fiction?
I've actually wanted to write a teen fiction book since being a teenager and reading Nancy Drew. My friends’ teens love books like Gossip Girl, The Clique, Private, etc., so I decided that I would write a series where the main characters were minorities but grew up in middle to upper class households. The stories are reality based and although entertaining, each book in The Lip Gloss Chronicles series deals with issues that some teens face.
How much research do you do to get into the mindset, the culture of teenagers?
I sit and observe a lot. I talk with and listen to my pre-teen and teenage cousins and friends.
What are some of the themes you tackle most often in your works?
The Lip Gloss Chronicles series tackle current issues affecting teens. Each book in the series is told from one of the main character's point of view.
Britney's story is The Ultimate Test - The Lip Gloss Chronicles Vol. 1. This book deals with the importance of friendship and also deals with the issue of an only child having to share their parents with a newborn after years of being the only child.
Splitsville - The Lip Gloss Chronicles Vol. 2 is Jasmine's story. Jasmine must deal with her parents divorcing and one of the friends learn about the dangers of giving out personal information to strangers on the internet.
Paper Thin - The Lip Gloss Chronicles Vol. 3 tackles an important issue of teens and their weight. Sierra is the lead character in this book. I decided to tackle this issue because many teenage girls are struggling trying to look like unrealistic images they see in various forms of the media.
I notice there are a lot of YA book series in the market; do you think this is a trend with longevity?
I don't think it's a trend. There's always been a lot of YA book series, but only recently a lot of AA YA book series. I think that as long as we write YA series, there will be an audience (both with teens and adults).
What do you think it takes to have a strong YA book series?
There have to be realistic characters and storylines.
What are three sources VITAL to writers interested in writing YA fiction?
1. The internet--great tool to use to learn about the YA market.
2. Research--read other YA books, talk with teens, and recruit a few teen readers for your unpublished work for feedback.
3. Network with other YA authors and professionals.
Any closing comments you'd like to make regarding teens and writing?
I am real excited about the Lip Gloss Chronicles series. I would love to see the series expanded from the current three books and follow the three friends until high school graduation. Besides the Lip Gloss Chronicles, I am busy working on another YA series.
Writing YA books gives me the opportunity to talk to teens about the importance of reading and writing and how it relates to their everyday life now and in the future.
“Jasmine McNeil, you are our new Miss Teen USA?” R & B singer Usher announced to me and the world.
Teary-eyed, dressed in a violet floor length evening gown, I accepted the tiara and huge bouquet of roses and walked down the runway waving at the audience and the cameras. I wasn’t at a loss for words. “I would like to thank my mom and dad for believing in me. If it wasn’t for there genes I wouldn’t be as beautiful as I am. I would like to thank my best friends back in Dallas, Britney Franklin and Sierra Sanchez. Oh and one other thing, I wanted to thank all the haters—look at me now.” Someone was beating some drums trying to ruin my moment. I looked around but couldn’t see who because of the blinding light.
“Jasmine Charlotte, get your butt ready for school,” my mom’s voice rang from over my bed, waking me up from my dream.
I attempted to pull the covers back over my head, but she wasn’t having it. Once I realized she wasn’t going away, I slowly rose up out of the bed. My mom didn’t let her five foot stature stop her from laying down the law in our house. My sister and I would call her Lil’ Kim behind her back when she made us mad. Her full name was Kimberly Ann McNeil and she wore the name like a badge of honor. She was proud to be the wife of the ex-NFL superstar Dion McNeil. With folded arms, she stood and watched as I got my stuff together. “Mom, I’m not a little kid. I can get dressed by myself.”
She tapped her foot a few times before responding, “If you stayed off that computer, you could get up. I’m really thinking about having it taken out.”
“Mom, please,” I begged. “I promise I won’t stay up late anymore.” I avoided eye contact and made a beeline for my closet, ignoring my mom’s rants.
“I’ll think about it. Hurry up, because Brenda has to register for her classes today and she’s dropping you off at school first.”
“Mom, I thought you were dropping me off.”
“Jasmine I don’t have time for your attitude. Just get ready and don’t make your sister late.”
I heard the door slam. I looked out my closet door and my mom was nowhere in sight. Lately it didn’t take much to set her on a verbal rampage. She and my dad fought the entire two weeks we were out on winter break. For the first time, in a long time, I actually looked forward to going to school.
An hour later, I found myself rushing because Brenda wanted to annoy me by honking her horn instead of telling me she was ready to leave. She was my older sister and in college but sometimes she could act so immature. With my backpack in one hand and my favorite lip gloss, Grape Delight, in another, I rushed by my mom at the end of the stairway as she gave me the evil eye.
“What took you so long?” Brenda asked. She pulled off before I could get my seatbelt on.
“You better not let mom or dad see you pulling off like that.”
“Please. Mom and dad got too many other problems so I know they’re not concerned about my driving.”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t know if I should tell you with that type of attitude.” She honked her horn at the car in front of us.
“Bren, come on. If you know something, tell me.”
“Mom and dad are thinking about getting a divorce.”
“A di…” I couldn’t say the word.
“Yes, a divorce. I know you’ve heard them. Everybody on the block probably did…as loud as they are.” By now, we were stuck at the light on the corner of Legacy Drive and Plano Boulevard.
“They can’t get a di…” Brenda’s news shocked me. I couldn’t even say the “d” word. My parents argued, but didn’t everybody’s? I didn’t realize it had gotten so bad they were talking about splitting up for good. Why was this happening to me? Why? Why? Why?