Saturday, May 28, 2016

Good Times!

In case you didn't know (and I bet you didn't), I'm a huge fan of the sixties pop group the Monkees. Although this has nothing to do with books, I'm sharing how super excited I am that their new album dropped yesterday and is currently number one on Amazon.

If these guys aren't on your radar, then you don't know what a huge deal this is. In the twenty-nine years that I've loved these guys, it's never been cool to be a Monkees fan. They're the one band that's always taken the heat for using studio musicians (in addition to the band itself) when the reality is that most bands since the beginning of rock & roll have used studio musicians. But for them it's a thing someone pointed out fifty years ago and nobody ever got over it.

So this new appreciation of their music is a huge deal for fans like me. The album is really good. Some great musicians contributed and, yes, studio musicians. It's a throwback to their sixties sound and I absolutely love every minute of it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Elphie and Dad go on an Epic Adventure by Hagit R. Oron and Dad go on an Epic Adventure is a cute an colorful addition to our bedtime story routine. My daughter and I shared some knowing glances at the exchanged between Elphie and Dad. At first Elphie didn't want to go to the store. Then Dad promised it would be an epic adventure. Elphie grabbed a cape and a sword and made that adventure with a little imagination.

The illustrations were great. My daughter loved that the princess that Elphie rescued wasn't drawn as an actual princess, making her use her imagination just like Elphie did. I loved that the book also showed the parent's side--Dad worrying that Elphie's adventure might entail a little bit of danger. I also loved that Elphie's gender wasn't mentioned. The book is great for father and son or father and daughter.

We both enjoyed it and will be reading it together again.

Friday, May 20, 2016

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

First let me say, “Oh my goodness.” I wanted to read this book because it got good reviews immediately out of the gate. I wanted to read this book because I wanted some insight into a life of which I had very little understanding, but a general acceptance. I expected that it would be good, but I had no idea that it would affect me the way it did. If I Was Your Girl simultaneously broke my heart and brought me joy.

I didn’t need time to get into this book, it sucked me in right away. The writing was casual and brilliantly executed. It opened with a very strong scene about Amanda’s fear of her past being discovered. It showed her relief to finally be who she was, but also her discovery that her new identity came with its own set of issues.

At times I was so sad for Amanda that I had to put the book down for a day. Otherwise I might have finished it in a weekend. At one point Russo carefully displayed Amanda’s experience as a little boy who didn’t understand why his parents and teachers viewed what he was feeling as wrong. I cried. I wondered if I was doing anything to discourage my kids from loving who they are. Like I said, it broke my heart.

I feel very strongly that books are the key to understanding another person’s journey. If you’re not trans, don’t be afraid to pick up If I Was Your Girl because you think it will offend you. There’s nothing graphic in this book. It’s not propaganda to get you to jump over to the other side (I’m pretty sure that’s not even a possible thing). It’s just a story about a girl trying to be comfortable in her own skin. And it’s a love story about acceptance. It’s a story anyone can relate to.


P.S. Meredith Russo used creative license to tell Amanda’s story, as she explains in the afterword. I encourage you to not skip the Note from the Author at the end. It’s very important.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Author Andrew Joyce

My name is Andrew Joyce, and I write books for a living. Rebecca has been kind enough to allow me a little space on his blog to promote my new book, RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure, so I thought I’d tell you how it came about. It all started way back in 2011. first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months; then sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults in the Old West. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon (twice) and won the Editor’s Choice Award for best Western of 2013. The rest, as they say, is history.

But not quite.

My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 142,000. However, he was insistent about a sequel, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a minor character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.

So I started to think about what ever happened to her. After a bit of time—and 100,000 words—we find out what did happen to Molly. It is an adventure tale where Huck Finn weaves through the periphery of a story driven by a feisty female lead. Molly Lee was my second book, which achieved #2 status on Amazon.

Now I was finished with Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer for good. Now I could go back to my first novel and resume the editing process.

But not quite.

It was then that Huck and Molly ganged up on me and demanded that I resolve their lives once and for all. It seems that I had left them hanging, so to speak. Hence, RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure. Here is the blurb from the back cover of the book:

It is 1896 in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The largest gold strike in the annals of human history has just been made; however, word of the discovery will not reach the outside world for another year.
By happenstance, a fifty-nine-year-old Huck Finn and his lady friend, Molly Lee, are on hand, but they are not interested in gold. They have come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure.
Someone should have warned them, “Be careful what you wish for.”
When disaster strikes, they volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They race against time, nature, and man. With the temperature hovering around seventy degrees below zero, they must fight every day if they are to live to see the next.
On the frozen trail, they are put upon by murderers, hungry wolves, and hostile Indians, but those adversaries have nothing over the weather. At seventy below, your spit freezes a foot from your face. Your cheeks burn—your skin turns purple and black as it dies from the cold. You are in constant danger of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.
It is into this world that Huck and Molly race.
They cannot stop. They cannot turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance—including theirs.
The three books are stand-alones and are not part of a series. They can be read in any order. RESOLUTION is available as an eBook and in print. Both versions are available on Amazon and at all the other book retailers.

There you have it. Now, if you nice people will just go out and buy RESOLUTION, perhaps Huck and Molly will leave me alone long enough so that I can get some editing done on my first novel.
Thank you for having me over, Rebecca. It’s been a real pleasure.

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, RESOLUTION. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, YELLOW HAIR.