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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Writing Exercises

This summer, one of the classes I took was Intro to Creative Writing. Now, I've been writing for years, but my school is one of the traditional schools who's writing program focuses on literary fiction and my interest is mainly in genre, so this is a fun challenge for me and I think I learned some new things (including an appreciation of writing literary short stories). One my first days of class we talked about Faulkner and his writing style, then my professor gave us an assignment. He wanted us to describe where we (or a completely fictional character) were from in a grammatically correct, 150 word sentence. If that sounds challenging, then let me tell you, it is. But it forces your mind to think in a different way and you to write in an out-of-the-box style. Here is the one I did. Try it yourself and see where your mind takes you.

I was born in a small town in south Georgia- no place you would have ever heard of- where the cows out numbered the people three to one, everybody knew everyone else's business, and it was a big deal when a Dairy Queen was built in the center of the downtown square (where old man Richardson's feed store was before he followed his wife, dead these past fifteen years, to the great pasture in the sky); we were never a town for fast food chains or none of those corporate stores- I never heard of Wal-Mart until I moved up here to Atlanta and the closest mall and movie theater was twenty miles away (every fourth Saturday Mama would take me and lil Jo Ann to see a movie and buy a dress)- the tallest building in town was four story city hall, so you can imagine my amazement seeing all these skyscrappers here...maybe that's why I decided to get my education here,you know, experience something new, expand my horizons.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review: The Elephant of Surprise

Title: The Elephant of Surprise
Author: Brent Hartinger
Series: The Russel Middlebrook Series (Book #4)
Publisher: Buddha Kitty Books
Pages: 166 (ebook)
Source: Netgalley
Where to Buy: Barnes and Noble <> Amazon

People aren't always what they seem to be. Sometimes we even surprise ourselves.

So discovers seventeen-year-old Russel Middlebrook in The Elephant of Surprise, a stand-alone sequel to Brent Hartinger's landmark 2003 gay young adult novel Geography Club (which has now been adapted as a feature film co-starring Scott Bakula and Nikki Blonsky).

In this latest book, Russel and his friends Min and Gunnar are laughing about something they call the Elephant of Surprise -- the tendency for life to never turn out as expected. Sure enough, Russel soon happens upon a hot but mysterious homeless activist named Wade, even as he's drawn back to an old flame named Kevin. Meanwhile, Min is learning surprising things about her girlfriend Leah, and Gunnar just wants to be left alone to pursue his latest technology obsession.

But the elephant is definitely on the move in all three of their lives. Just who is Wade and what are he and his friends planning? What is Leah hiding? And why is Gunnar taking naked pictures of Kevin in the shower?

The Elephant of Surprise includes Hartinger's trademark combination of humor and romance, angst and optimism. Before the story is over, Russel and his friends will learn that the Elephant of Surprise really does appear when you least expect him—and that when he stomps on you, it really, really hurts.

What I Think:
I got this book from Netgalley, because it sounded interesting and, though it is the fourth book in a series, it promised to be able to be read as a standalone. I have never read any of the other books in the series, so I came to Russel with a pair of fresh eyes late in the game.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of YA books starring a kid under the GLBT umbrella. That was the first thing that made me happy about this book. Finally something for the minority. BUt I was also scared out of my mind on how it would be handled. I was relieved with the humanness of Russell. He was a normal teenage boy. There were no excessive stereotypes or places where the author tried too hard to seem inclusive.

Hartinger was able to strike a great balance between calling out the hypocrisies between  gay and straight culture without bashing either. The assholes weren't assholes because they were gay/straight, no they were assholes because their character was an asshole. Most YA books, GLBT or not, have a hard time not falling into tropes, but this one easily side steps traps everywhere.

Russell and his friends all have the voices of real teenagers. They did stupid things and said stupid things, but they were also quite intelligent. I appreciate that Hartinger did not shy away from cursing. Many teenagers curse and it is absurd that so many YA books refuse to acknowledge the fact. This just seemed to make the characters more believable to me.

Another part that made them seem believable to me was they were aware of only what matters to them. Most people, not just teenagers, unconsciously think of themselves as the center of the universe. These characters do, and seem to know it.

Overall, I really enjoyed the  realness of the book, even though that same realness made some of the characters a little annoying. I wish I could have seen more of some characters and less of others. I totally recommend this book to everyone.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cover Re-reveal for TEN DAYS

I have the honor of being one of the blogs to showcase Olivia Mayfield's new cover reveal for her novel TEN DAYS. Now I have seen both covers and I can tell you the first made me intrigued with the book, but the new cover is making this a must read for me. Now without further adieu, I present to you the new cover for TEN DAYS:

Genre: NA sci-fi romance
Author: Olivia Mayfield

Book blurb:

TEN DAYS is a New Adult/YA crossover romance novel, based on the sci-fi short story “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster.

Nineteen-year-old Cally isn’t like the others. In her society, the Machine caters to every whim, ensuring people don’t have to leave their pods. But Cally and her best friend Marshal find themselves drawn to how things used to be, when people lived on the surface of the earth and relied upon manpower, not technology. When physical contact wasn’t uncivilized, and love was normal, acceptable, embraced. Cally tries to swallow down her increasing dissatisfaction with the “rules,” as well as her rapidly developing feelings for Marshal, a task getting harder each day.

Then, things start going downhill, fast. Food is spoiled. Air grows musty. The population panics about the dysfunction–is it sabotage? Anarchy? But Cally and Marshal discover the truth: The Machine, the answer to all their problems for longer than anyone can remember, is breaking down. Now, these two have to risk it all to save themselves and the people they care about…before their entire world destroys itself.

You can find TEN DAYS at:

And find out more about Olivia Mayfield at:
Twitter: @OliviaMayfield

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hypocrisy in My Writings

Now if you read my blog, you know I love romance. I read it, I write it. It is hard for me to write anything without inserting some romance in there. Even if the romance is minor I love having it in my writing.

Yet I am frequently outspoken on the need for NA novels to be less romance driven. I love romance, but I am afraid of the stigma that is attaching itself to the NA category. Many people are starting to see NA as just contemporary romance, so I just want to see other genres being portrayed more.

I do want to challenge myself by writing something that has no romance in it. One of the things I am working on (a mystery) was romance free at conception, but now it has a small romance subplot. I am still trying to decide if I should drop the romance totally from it. I am currently writing a short story with no romance in it, so that makes me feel a little better.

I'm not saying that everyone should stop writing romance, it is a wonderful genre and you should write what you want to write. I just worry for the future of a category I have come to love. I understand that every category goes through phases where one genre dominates it, and romance is currently the "in" genre for NA. I look forward to the day I can more easily find more genres in NA.