Sep 26 2019

Book Review #TackleTBR Magic at Midnight by Ronel Janse van Vuuren @miladyronel

I have finished reading Magic at Midnight by Ronel Janse van Vuuren @miladyronel ! 🎉

It has been a difficult month. I applied for a special event this month. Had my application idea and information last month so I’d be ready as soon as it was open. Somehow, it opened on the site but I didn’t see it. I managed to find it and apply before it closed. But then I didn’t hear anything. And, when I did finally hear back, I didn’t get to reply in time. So I’ve deleted everything I had ready in the high hopes of acceptance.

Not that I really needed one more thing to do this month, right? I’m behind. So behind that I ended up rereading the first half of this book and finally getting to finish it. I mean, it isn’t even that long. And it’s SO GOOD! Just haven’t been able to be left in peace with an ereader in almost a month. Ugh. Anyway.

Magic at Midnight by Ronel Janse van Vuuren
5 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner
Publication Date: May 12, 2019
#WeNeedDiverseBooks #SpecFic

I LOVE this book. Remember Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch? The bisexual gal who runs a stable of pegasi and has to do a covert mission as a princess to prevent war — yeah, that’s freaking awesome and worthy of jumping on a couch. Oh, and the magic castle that actually is a character because (spoiler reasons), give me more of that! This is exactly my kind of book. I’m not saying there aren’t similar books in the fantasy genre, I’m saying that this a worthy addition. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, flying horses with personality, the idea that a princess is more than just a title, and anyone looking for an LGBTQ+ twist on fairy tale type fantasy.

The book was free in July on Amazon, which is how I got my copy. There’s some romance, a happily-ever-after, controversy, action, plot twists, and it’s entertaining. I read the whole book because I really wanted to know how it would turn out for Amy. I mean, one minute she doesn’t even know what an indoor bathroom is, and the next she has to convince people she’s a princess. Man, I love this girl so much. I want to hang out with her and her pegasi for a month. Just toss me into the pages.

“Every couple of months, a group of human monsters would descend on her herd…” I love the phrasing of this line.

And then there’s this passage, where the LGBTQ+ part really makes the fantasy line blur to reality. It really holds a mirror up to real society. :
“Our society forces arranged marriages on people who might never be compatible. And not because they aren’t attracted to each other; but because they might never be attracted to someone from the opposite sex.”

I never encountered the expression “shout rent the silence” before, but I loved how it was used. I did not find errors in the book. (*As a reminder, Ronel is from South Africa. Therefore, words like “skilfully” aren’t spelled wrong.) I even love the formatting, the drop caps inside the chapters that are used as scene separators.

The cover is great and it matches the book climax perfectly. I’ve read books and stories by this author before and fully intend to read more soon. She’s becoming one of my favorites. (Yes, we do follow each other’s blogs and social media, and do some of the same online challenges. But we’ve never met.) This book isn’t listed as part of a series, but it certainly left me wanting a second! I can’t say I’m “team Rachel,” because she has a HEA already. Does that make me “team Francois”? I don’t know. Maybe there should be a second book with poly relationships. Perhaps another character as an option?

It passes the Bechdel test in that it has women who talk to each other about something besides a man. They talk about magic, war, conspiracies, how to handle a winged horse, etc.

Some of my answers to the book club questions:
1- The title, I believe, refers to two scenes that happen at midnight in the castle. (Maybe three, I’m not sure of the time in Chapter 8.)
4- From my own life, I remember time in the stables. And not fitting into “proper society” functions. So yeah, I could relate to Amy on several levels.
5- Idil. Because (climax spoiler).
6- Finding out about the twins who were seperated.
7- That it’s all about control.
8- It would be funnier but, somehow, less powerful of a statement. Perhaps because the world isn’t switched and thus needs books to point out ways in which it is broken.
9- I think it has gotten somewhat better in some places. But, overall, yeah, it’s pretty accurate.
10- That’s funny (not ha-ha funny, but intriguing). One more tool of oppression. Not surprising, really.
11- That is hilarious. I can see why though, because experience comes from time, so it would and does take twice as many (or more) people to accomplish what one experienced person can in the same time at the same job. Probably need to say that louder for the people in the front who like to get rid of well-paid experienced people in favor of spending more to train two or three times as many noobs. I’m just saying.
12- Pretty much spot on, as far as I’ve ever encountered. I think a great deal needs to be done. Mostly by people who benefit from oppression, segregation, and prejudice.
21- I don’t know, that’s why I want a second book!
22- There are enough plots that it isn’t too predictable. “No, I am your father” uttered by Darth Vader would be a fair comparison. There’s also a bit of the Princess and the Pea.
27- Love!!!
40- I think she made the right call.

Sep 17 2019

Gone Fishin’

Fishing image from Unsplash ~ Julie Rotter

I’ve been absent for too long. Sure, I’ve checked in online here and there, but I’ve mostly been away the last few weeks.

See, I got older last month. (In as much as I believe in that, anyway.) And Snookums decided to steal me away on a fishing trip. We had fun, but didn’t catch much. And then it was labor day weekend (pretty sure that’s a US thing which isn’t going to translate, so just assume it’s some holiday where more-than-the-usual-amount-of-people have off from work for a few days). And we decided to go on another fishing trip. Oh! And then there was family-drama. Because life isn’t complete unless there’s drama, right? Sure.

I fell behind on my goals. And fell out of step with caring about falling behind. And now I’m trying to play catch-up.

Aug 26 2019

Exquisite Readathon #boutofbooks 26 Wrap-up and #BookReviews #ODFS


Bout of Books
Bout of Books 26

I was “birthday kidnapped,” and as such, I fell behind on update posts. Here’s a wrap-up!

Exciting Readathon #Reading #insixwords Day 1 Recap #boutofbooks 26

#WEPFF #WEP #Poetry and #BoutofBooks 26 Day 2 Recap with Adaptations and Favorite #books

Challenges:

Wednesday 8/21
Recreate Your Favorite Book Cover

Thursday 8/22
If This, Then That

Friday 8/23
I Want This Book

Saturday 8/24
Leave a Review

Sunday 8/25
Stretch Goal





Instagram:
#bob26igphoto #boutofbooks



Total number of finished books: 3
Titles of finished books:
The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin (ARC)
Love Poems by Pablo Neruda
ONE DISH – FOUR SEASONS by Jordan Zucker #ODFS (ARC)




My GOALS during Bout of Books 26:

  1. Finish reading 3 books
  2. Take part in the challenges
  3. Write 3 book reviews
  4. Enjoy my birthday
  5. Find a book where the MC returns to hometown



Book Reviews:

ODFS 5 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

ONE DISH – FOUR SEASONS by Jordan Zucker #ODFS (ARC)

#DebutAuthor Author I Haven’t Previously Read

There’s music included in this cookbook. That alone makes it especially interesting. I love that Jordon mentions things like time estimates. “I don’t know how fast you chop.” There’s a great bit of humor nestled into these pages. “You’re looking for a solid dough that holds together but isn’t too sticky. You may need to adjust the amount of water due to factors like weather, altitude, moon cycle, etc. (maybe not moon cycle, but it’s easy to blame that for things since we’re all in touch with our inner werewolf).”

The tarts all seem mouth-watering to me. And I’m excited to try those pesto sauces! Grilled Pineapple & Banana Salad sounds tasty, creative, and different. There’s a rule in the book against store-bought salad dressings, but I didn’t see instructions on making ranch, Russian, or hot bacon dressing. (There were other salad dressings, but not those, which are favorites among my group.) I had to do a search to find out what pepitas are (pumpkin seeds without the shell). And I learned that wild leeks, or spring onions, are also called ramps.

Sea-bass, cod, salmon, halibut, shrimp, and tuna meatballs were all fish under main dishes. Other main dish meats included chicken, steak, lamb, duck, and uni (sea urchin roe). There are also a few meatless options. I like that there are quinoa recipes offered. Plus, there are drinks and desserts. It’s a good mix of recipes for the slightly-experienced home cook.

The book is very entertaining, and the author comes off as an authority. It has a lot of visual appeal. The book comes alive from the combination of food, wine, music, humor, quotes, and great pictures. I received a free ARC in exchange for my honest review. I do not know the author, but will be interviewing for a blog post later.


The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin (ARC)

4 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

#SpecFic #DebutAuthor #WeNeedDiverseBooks Author I Haven’t Previously Read

This was a good dystopian book. I like that it reveals the cause of the dystopian change in the world. The relationship between the orphaned brother and sister was realistic and well-written. It’s a tragedy in that a main character dies (though that’s not the end of the person’s story, not by far). The book is somewhat realistic fiction, as it’s easy to imagine this happening to our world. There’s a thin layer of romance. There was a good amount of plot twists, and the story felt original.

In this story, the “afterlife” has been discovered. Religion is outlawed because it caused too many wars (as a result of evidence proving what is “accurate”). “Why didn’t they just stop when they saw they’d destroyed everything?” That’s a deep, philosophical question. What’s especially interesting about this book is the author’s creation of the underworld. The description of the underworld was haunting at times. The religious aspects may be controversial for some people.

“The emblem looked like a piece of fruit someone had taken a bite out of.” That’s a great way to show a future with a Mac product that people don’t recognize anymore, showing it’s our same world but in a broken future. It reminds me of how Divergent and Red Queen revealed the same truth. Books like this are in my favorite genre.

Thinking of the stars as guns was an unusual spin. “He pictured a million tiny guns all hanging in the heavens, pointed at the earth, ready to rain down fire at any moment.”

My favorite character was Irem, a mute goddess. “It’s as if Dohv cut the cord between her mind and her lips.” Representation for those who can’t speak is so important. There’s also a similarity between her and the legend of Cassandra, the princesses of Troy. Can everyone be redeemed if they truly make the choice to change? That seems to be the main theme. The book wraps up the story, while also leaving an easy opening for a sequel. I received a free ARC in exchange for my honest review. I do not know the author, but will be interviewing for a blog post later.


Love Poems by Pablo Neruda
5 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

#WeNeedDiverseBooks #BeatTheBacklist Classic book

This was a very erotic and sensual book of poetry, focused on male feelings for a female. The poems were considered controversial when published originally because of the overtly sexual nature. “If You Forget Me” was my favorite poem in the book, especially the line, “as long as you live it will be in your arms.” This is a fun book to share with someone your passionate about.

Aug 20 2019

#WEPFF #WEP #Poetry and #BoutofBooks 26 Day 2 Recap with Adaptations and Favorite #books

wepff aug 2019

HEARSE WHEELBARROW poem by @JLenniDorner

wep wepff feedback preference chart
FCA 26 words

(For anyone who doesn’t “get” poetry– those aren’t piles of snow. Many dead people covered by white blankets.)

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Bout of Books
Bout of Books 26

Today’s challenge:
Tuesday 8/20
Adaptation Aspirations

What book would you like to see adapted for another medium? What would be your preferred format? Movie? TV Show? Broadway musical? Something else? If you want to elaborate even further, who would you cast to play the characters? Who would you want to write the script/screenplay? Write the music? Direct? Are there adaptations that exist that you think could be better? Tell us all about your aspirations for the perfect adaptation!

Obviously, my first instinct is to pick Fractions of Existence. Why wouldn’t I pick my own book? Well, because you might want to hear about something else.

Strangely, Incredibly Good (Strangely, Incredibly Good Series Book 1) by Heather Grace Stewart

Cat: Rebel Wilson or B.K. Cannon
Gene: Jason Momoa
Bad Ass Gram: Ann Morgan Guilbert died, so I can’t pick her. Cloris Leachman
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Soundtrack by The Foo Fighters and the Goo Goo Dolls
Screenplay by: Jeremy Leven



Instagram:
#bob26igphoto #boutofbooks Favorites



Day of the challenge: Day 2
What I read today:
The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin



My GOALS during Bout of Books 26:

  1. Finish reading 3 books
  2. Take part in the challenges
  3. Write 3 book reviews
  4. Enjoy my birthday
  5. Find a book where the MC returns to hometown

Aug 20 2019

Exciting Readathon #Reading #insixwords Day 1 Recap #boutofbooks 26


Bout of Books
Bout of Books 26

Today’s challenge:
Monday 8/19
Introduce Yourself #insixwords



Instagram:
#boutofbooks

View this post on Instagram

#boutofbooks Currently Reading #bookstagram

A post shared by J Lenni Dorner (@jlennidorner) on



Day of the challenge: Day 1
What I read today:
The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin




My GOALS during Bout of Books 26:

  1. Finish reading 3 books
  2. Take part in the challenges
  3. Write 3 book reviews
  4. Enjoy my birthday
  5. Find a book where the MC returns to hometown


A3 I accidently wrote as A4!

Aug 18 2019

Sunday Stealing Summer, Snow, Socks, Shoes, and Scares

Sunday Stealing welcome mat image for blog hop
Sunday Stealing
Questions to get to know each other.

1) What do you enjoy about summer?

Outdoor cooking.

2) Do you like snow? Why?

Yeah. It reduces the future insect population, prevents droughts, and makes tracking in the woods easier.

3) What do you think about dogs?

They’re a diverse species.

4) Have you ever gotten lost?

Thankfully, yes.

5) What are your favorite type of socks?

Can’t say I have any.

6) What is your favorite style of shoes?

Moccasins

7) What would you name your boat if you had one?

First, who says I’ve never made one? Second, what’s with this urge to name everything? This is my keyboard, Sam. And my space key, Tyler. I need to pick up more toilet paper, because Becca, Dollie, Fred, and Bastila have been all used up. Seriously, where do you draw the line?

8) What common misconception do you hate to hear repeated as fact?

That Native Americans were all “Yay, sick foreigners who can’t even feed themselves! Let us give them our land so we can all move to our vacation homes! Tra-la-la-la.”

9) What was the last shop you went into and what did you buy?

A gas station convenience store. A drink.

10) What’s your favourite thing to do to pass the time?

Read.

Bout of Books

11) What is a way to die that scares you the most?

In a cage.

12) Travel or home body?

I loved to travel for a long time. But for the last few years, not so much.

13) Have you ever gone to a Bingo hall?

Yes.

14) What is the longest plane trip you have taken?

Many, many, many hours.


15) Do you text more or call more? Why?

Text. I’m a mute.


Quote from Host Bev Sykes of sundaystealing.blogspot.com and the blog “Funny the World”.
Welcome to Sunday Stealing.
This feature originated and published on WTIT: The Blog. Here we will steal all types of questions from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent questions. (Past hosts include: Our first – Judd Corizan, Mr. L, Kwizgiver and Bud) Cheers to all of us thieves!
This week’s questions were originally from: Swap Bot asked people to post questions they would like to answer.

Aug 07 2019

Book Reviews on Book Hooks, and Tigers, and They Could Have Named Her Anything ~ Oh My! #bookreview

During a recent conversation with a Twitter friend, I took a screenshot of my Kindle app, the library page showing the most recent downloads. Does it seem like I have an abnormally high number of books with women on the cover? 10 out of 16, or 63%, have women on the cover. It’s really just an observation. 13 of them have a shade of blue on the cover. Bout of Books is coming this month, so maybe my brain is getting ready for the readathon challenges. You know, find books with women on the cover. Find books with something blue. Etc. I tossed an idea out for the Bout of Books challenges. We’ll see if it gets used!

kindle image

A Tiger Like Me by Michael Engler (Author), Joëlle Tourlonias (Illustrator)
4 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

Publication Date: September 1, 2019
Author I Haven’t Previously Read

The tiger (a child in a costume) doesn’t like to take baths, brush hair or teeth, and gets into a bit of mischief. There’s good imagination in the story. I love the use of orange and blue in the illustrations. It was a good book because children like to pretend they are something else, such as an animal. It’s fast-paced, easy to read, and entertaining. This was an August Amazon First Reads book, which is how I discovered it.


Mastering Book Hooks for Authors: How to Capture Reader Attention and Book Sales in 30 Words or Less by Rob Eagar
4 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

Publication Date: December 22, 2017
#BeatTheBacklist
Writing Craft book

What if I told you… this is my review of this book! It was a quick, enjoyable enough read. I got a free copy on Amazon. It’s useful in its genre for authors looking to write a hook to entice readers. I read several writing craft books a year, which is perhaps I found this information to not be very new or different. I read the whole book to see if I could learn something new. I would consider reading another book by this author.

My attempt at a book hook after reading this. Thoughts?

In Fractions of Existence, Xavier, a being with omnipotent powers over an element, seeks a missing member of his kind, without whom he cannot prevent the apocalypse. Gwendolyn doesn’t know what she really is, but she journeys across the country in her clunker car without no guarantee of what’s on the other end.


They Could Have Named Her Anything: A Novel by Stephanie Jimenez
5 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

Publication Date: August 1, 2019
#WeNeedDiverseBooks, #DebutAuthor, Author I Haven’t Previously Read

My favorite character was Ricky, Maria’s brother. He steps up when it matters most, risking everything to do so. I was engaged by the unusual description of sex as a mundane activity, exhilarating but dreadful. Maria’s ease of putting her hair in a french braid in Chapter 5 seemed impressive (not that I’ve ever tried it, but I hear that french braids are difficult to do, especially on oneself). There’s a bit of Spanish in the book, which might be difficult for some readers.

I especially love the way the author handles the descriptions. For example, “a small sliver of skin came away from her mouth between her thumb and pointer finger,” is so much more inventive and appealing than just saying chapped lips. Great imagery. Maria’s thoughts and feelings about talking to Dr. Beth, especially in regard to how impossible it is to feel like there’s an adult on one’s side, was a rare and refreshing insight often left out of YA novels. And in Chapter 14 and 21, the title of the book is used in the story, which is something I love to encounter. I had never heard of slap-boxing before, so I ended up learning what that is because it’s mentioned in this novel.

Maria is asked to be more adult, putting her dreams on hold and prioritize her family first. She is often ungrateful of what she has, and that’s part of what makes her character arc so realistic. She was hard for me to like for most of the book, but that meant she had room to grow and change by the end of the story. I hate both of Maria’s love interests. (This is not a romance novel. But it’s a great example of just how wrong things can go with a love interest.) For example, Charlie is aware that he’s exhibiting pedophile tendencies and having an affair, but does it anyway. Maria contradicts how she feels about sex workers, as she both mocks and collects cards of prostitutes in Las Vegas, and then tries to essentially become one by offering to exchange sexual activity for tuition money. As she evolves and grows, she explores what consent really means and realizes why that was a bad idea.

A line I really enjoyed was, “saw the wisdom in the fragmented whole, how two things were sometimes better off when they were kept at a distance.” The theme, I believe, is the lesson that the grass always seems greener on the other side. There are other rags-to-riches Cinderella stories, but that’s not what this is. For one thing, Maria isn’t sickly sweet with birds and mice helping her get dressed, nor is she an orphan, and Charlie is certainly not a charming prince (though he is rich). It’s her soul that ends up richer at the end.

The author and I do not know each other, however, I did interview her for the Operation Awesome blog. That has no bearing or influence on my review. This book was a free Amazon First Reads. I don’t read many YA books that aren’t speculative fiction, but this one was really worth it. This diverse book is realistic fiction, controversial, meaningful, with a strong author’s voice.

Check out my interview with the author:
https://operationawesome6.blogspot.com/2019/08/stephanie-jimenezs-debut-author.html

Aug 07 2019

Writing Takes Author by Surprise #IWSG

August 7 question – Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you’d forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

A few twists I hadn’t planned haven’t planned over the years have taken me by surprise, or at least messed with whatever bit of plotting I did in advance.

But what stuck out in my mind when I read this question was my WEP Flash Fiction A Change of Heart in Bright Eyes Lifetime. One, that so many readers thought Osiris was a female. (I picked the name of an Egyptian god figuring, well, what more manly than the name of a freakin god? Seriously, someone has GOT to explain names to me one day. I really have no idea how people look at them and guess gender or ethnicity or age. Where did you learn this? Is there a book? Some online class? Who is the keeper of naming knowledge for non-Lenape people?)

Two, what really struck me is how many people, in comments or private messages, said they wanted more of the story. It’s based on something that actually happened to a friend of mine. My friend really did get dumped, while he was in the hospital, for a sex doll. And it really did get him out of his shell and inspired him to try new things, which has resulted in him meeting some more adventurous guys.

Honestly, I was just stuck for an idea for a flash fiction story. (There’s another one coming up this month.) I didn’t think the main character would be so popular. Then again, I usually write speculative fiction. My main characters aren’t normally regular people. That’s probably why I was surprised that so many people liked it. It isn’t my usual genre.

Ever write something outside your usual genre that was liked?

Did you take part in today’s IWSG prompt? Let me know. I’ll come say hi back.

Jul 29 2019

July is a blind date with summer #quote Goals Update

Got Goals Bloghop
https://gotgoalsbloghop.blogspot.com
#GotGoalsBlogHop

“July is a blind date with summer.” Sundial of the Seasons ~ by Hal Borland

I BUSTED OUT OF TWITTER FOLLOW JAIL!!!
That’s right. I finally got proactive and did enough unfollowing of inactive accounts that I busted myself out of Twitter follow jail. I can follow people again! Woo.

Two things had a negative impact on my goals this month:

1- I noticed that Anah, of my story ANAH ON TENTERHOOKS, doesn’t have a personal goal she could achieve on her own. For example, in the (non-fiction but is similar to Anah’s situation) DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, Anne’s obstacle is that she had to hide from the Nazis and then hope the Allied Forces would save her. That wasn’t something she could personally achieve on her own. My story is fiction, and my main character needs some sort of goal she can fight toward. Preferably something that her obstacle, not being abducted by the HSMTF, is hindered by would be good. I’ve kicked around the idea of giving her a hobby and her wanting to go to a convention for that hobby (as part of her goal), but the HSMTF might be there so it’s dangerous. Right now, she’d be able to take on one agent, maybe three or four. But the entire task force? She isn’t there yet. So I need her to have a goal that’s possible (even if she can’t reach it, at least plausible).

2- I’ve been fighting for a cause. It isn’t very different from what Anah’s dealing with in the story. A particular skill set from my unusual past is, hopefully, useful to learn for some of my fellow Native Americans. And that’s all I can really say about that. Except it takes up random chunks of my soul and triggers memories I’d rather keep locked away.


SPREADSHEET CHECK-IN

My brilliant A to Z cohost, J R Vincente, made a spreadsheet to track progress for the year.
I’m counting blogging as “social media.”
key 2019 Productivity JLenniDorner image

JulySpreadsheet



MAIN LIFE GOALS:

  • Publish two decent-selling book series (speculative fiction)
  • Survive at least another 35 years

BUCKET LIST:

  1. Publish a book and sell 2,000 copies of it in one week or 8,000 copies of it in one month.
  2. Watch a meteor shower while in the Cranberry Lake area of New York or Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. (USA)
  3. Visit Mount Sinai.
  4. Skydive
  5. Learn how to play checkers.
  6. Take a hot-air balloon ride over Maine.
  7. Have dinner at Armando al Pantheon in Rome.

Goal image (NOT an actual screenshot.)


Current Writing Goals

  • Self-publish + Blog the reference book on Writing Book Reviews #BookishResolutions Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
  • Self-publish Anah’s story (ANAH ON TENTERHOOKS) #BookishResolutions , including writing 60k more words, by August 2020.
  • Write 15k more words of high fantasy short story, and publish it, by Feb 2021 to give the characters more story-space/ page-time.
  • Write 20k more words of WIGS tribal short story, and publish it, by April 2021 to prove to myself it’s worthwhile.
  • Write 40k more words of the next Existence book, and publish it, by Sept 2022 to share this version of a story that was passed on to me, and hopefully make some money and have a career as a writer as a result.
  • Write 90k more words of Alison Fantasy book, and publish it, by Sept 2023 to sell books so my RPG time was valuable.

Other important goals:

Enter 2 writing contests this year to get my brand out there.
Complete my reading challenges half way for the year for fun and to be a better writer.
Comment on 20 blogs a month to stay connected with my blogging community.
Tweet 5 diverse books a month to support book diversity.
Tweet 2 debut books a month to support debut authors.
Fix 13 blog posts a month from Photobucket broken links to make my blog aesthetically pleasing to my eye.
Unfollow 900 Tweeps by Aug to get out of Twitter follow jail. Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal

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2019 Resolution:

#NewYearsResolution

  • This year I resolve to publish two books and write at least 25% of the year.




Seven Focus Topics

Posting about these topics monthly will keep my author brand strong:

  1. Lenni Lenape (Native American) — 0 posts
  2. storytelling –0 posts
  3. writing –1 post
  4. legends — 0 posts
  5. characters — 0 posts
  6. urban fantasy/ speculative fiction — 0 posts
  7. read –1 posts




2019 Goals:

  • 12 Blog All About It posts
  • Keep rocking the Debut Author Spotlight at Operation Awesome
  • 91 days of writing is my big #BookishResolutions (others are hashtagged)
    • Update on May 1 Posted!Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
    • September 1
  • Take part in NaNoWriMo
    • July Camp #BookishResolutions
    • November 50k words #BookishResolutions
  • Publish two books #BookishResolutions
    1. One: Writing Book Reviews As An Author: Inspiration To Make It Easier Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
    2. Two:
  • Be part of 3 blog hops/fests
    1. One: #AtoZChallenge First A to Z Book Tour Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
    2. Two: #AtoZChallenge TENTH anniversary of the April blogging challenge Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
    3. Three:
  • Enter 7 writing contests #BookishResolutions
    1. One: WriteClub 2019 ~ Congratulations to Wendy Cross.aka Sicaria
    2. Two: WEP April
    3. Three: WEP June
    4. Four: SPFBO5 Progress= Qwillery – Qwill has mine.
    5. Five:
    6. Six:
    7. Seven:
  • Add 200 books to the spreadsheet organizing my TBR by page length
    • 419 as of Jan 1
    • 430 as of Feb 23
    • 432 as of Mar 29
    • 441 as of April 30
    • 448 as of May 31
    • 461 as of June 28
    • 473 as of July 28
  • Complete Reading challenges:

blog all about it challenge 2019 try something new square 2019 book reading challenge all about the trope 2019 book reading challengeCreativity Reading Challenge 2019 Back to the Classics 2019 reading challenge2019 Diversity Reading Challenge #BeatTheBacklist2019 Ravenclaw The Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club #IWSG Of Wonderland Book Club #OWBookClub #BeatTheBacklist #amreading #books 2019 #BookishResolutions

2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
J. has
read 0 books toward
their goal of
50 books.
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EVERY MONTH:




Goals just for August:

  • Read and review 6 books
  • Post results of the #AtoZChallenge after survey
  • Do Bout of Books (reading, reviewing, challenges)
  • WEP
  • Work more on Anah’s story
  • Have a good birthday

wepff aug 2019 Bout of Books
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, Twitter chats, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 26 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team


Review of Goals just for July:

  • Read and review 4 books Pretty sure I’ll have this done before July ends.
  • Post results of the #AtoZChallenge after survey FAIL image because @JLenniDorner FAILED this goal
  • Pass or Pages Query Contest at Operation Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
  • July NaNo camp Pretty sure I’ll have this done before July ends. Only need 3 more hours!



line break


Have goals? Need encouragement? This blog hop is for you!
gotgoalsbloghop.blogspot.com

Jul 28 2019

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing welcome mat image for blog hop
Sunday Stealing
Questions to get to know each other.

1. What is the nearest book to you? Your Kindle does not count.

“Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)” by Lisa Cron. I started working on/ reading it in October. I have a vague outline of a potato with some odd goals at work. He wouldn’t be a potato, but I wasn’t allowed to create a character yet. And thus I picture a potato. A russet, if you want to know. And thus I gave up on the story because I couldn’t stay interested in potato man. I’ll go back to it eventually, probably. I want to finish the book, after all. I might need to restart. We’ll see.
potato

2. When was the last time you took a “me” vacation

Last week.

3. How many telephone numbers do you have?

Yes, by all means, we should ask the mute guy about phone numbers. One, so I can send texts.

4. If you could fix one thing in the public school system, what is the one thing you would do immediately?

School taxes come from property tax. Fine. But that amount only goes to the school district the property being taxed is in. I’d put ALL school tax money into a nationwide pool and then split it evenly per child enrolled in public school. If a parent opts to also pay to send a child to a private school, fine. But the tax money from their property is still going into the big pool. Actually, first I’d want to investigate to make sure the poorest districts make out well from this deal. Oh, and those big fancy office buildings are getting billed too. However, the tax will be on the property (land, homes, offices). Charging two adults in one apartment when only one of them has a job isn’t how it’s going to be done. The goal is for all children to go to a “good” school. For ALL schools to be “good” schools. The better educated a society is, the more valuable they’ll be as a people. Oh, and all of these “good” schools are also going to offer free lunch. A “good” lunch that a human would eat, not meat rejected by dog food companies. Get a tax credit by volunteering in the organic farm every “good” school is going to have so we know the children have access to real food.
https://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/across-the-us-school-funding-systems-vary-widely

5. Are you a big tipper?

I usually do the 17 to 20% thing. Unless there’s some reason to give more. Some above and beyond service or whatever.

6. Do you watch reality shows?

Mostly only cooking ones. Depends. There was one I watched because Joan Rivers was on it, and now I regret my part in ratings because of who profited from that show. (There’s absolutely no reason to utter the name.)

7. Who is your favorite sports team player?

*blank stare*
*Don’t just name a hot one. Don’t just name a hot one. Don’t…*
I… uhh…

blank sports manequin

8. If you could travel in a spaceship to any planet, which planet would you like to visit and why?

I’ll go to Mars to get NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover because it’s as cute as Matt Damon. (Someone, please, get that joke!)

9. When was the last time you sat in a church?

Earlier this month. My Snookums wanted to go to a protest. I support the cause, but know the odds of us “going missing” are insanely high. We compromised and went to a church in an area I use to live. I’m not, strictly speaking, part of that community. But I’m always welcome there. And they did a prayer for the cause and we all lit candles. And no one was hauled away never to be seen again. Compromise.

10. Are there any aspects of blogging that annoy you?

“We’ve updated this thing! Maybe all your stuff will be fine if you click the update. Maybe all your stuff will break and you’ll need to spend 8 hours trying to fix it. Or maybe it’ll just lock out your blog for 48 hours while you try to reach someone to uninstall the broken update. Click to roll the dice!!!”

11. When someone follows you on their blog or subscribes to your Facebook page, do you automatically follow and subscribe back?

Follows me on their blog? I don’t even know what that means. Subscribes to my Facebook page? Isn’t it just “like” now? I’m going to say no because I don’t have the required information for reciprocation. Drop me a note or something.

Facebook.com/WhatAreThey
Facebook Page image


Quote from Host Bev Sykes of sundaystealing.blogspot.com and the blog “Funny the World”.
Welcome to Sunday Stealing.
This feature originated and published on WTIT: The Blog. Here we will steal all types of questions from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent questions. (Past hosts include: Our first – Judd Corizan, Mr. L, Kwizgiver and Bud) Cheers to all of us thieves!
This week’s questions were originally from: Durward Discussion.

Jul 27 2019

A Review of and Thoughts on “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”

I’m jaded.

(J’s gonna go on a rant. It might upset some of you. There’s probably an X icon you could click to leave at any time.)

I had read “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” by Judy Blume before, as a sixth or seventh grader, because I had female friends who read it. I didn’t like it then. And reading it now reminded me of why I didn’t like it back then. (Mostly because it made me feel like I could never really be friends with my friends. They’d eventually all change and it’d be impossible for males and females to remain friends. Sadly, for about 15 years, I was mostly right. Hopefully, that’s changed in society since.)

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/claudiakoerner/children-border-detention-conditions-immigrants-hungry

I also had a tough time reading this now while being faced with current issues in my country. “There are children your age being ripped away from their families, denied basic rights to sanitation, safety, and education… and your biggest problem is puberty not coming fast enough?” That’s emotion shaming, and it isn’t fair. But a lot of the book bothered me because of it. Like, how well do you suppose it’s going for the young girls in cages at the border who are bleeding for the first time? Probably not so well. They aren’t even allowed soap and a toothbrush, you think pads are being passed around? Not to mention guards that might well be pedophiles. Seriously, who knows what’s even happening down there? Nothing good. That’s what we know for certain. Nothing good is happening to the children who, by the way, do NOT make decisions about where to live.

Just like Margaret didn’t want to move to New Jersey. But guess what? They moved to New Jersey.

I kept imagining

this fictional family moving to New Jersey and the state being in an alternative universe. “You don’t have a religion, and you’re part Jewish? Get in the cage.” Margaret complaining because she wasn’t consulted about moving, and now she’s locked up over it. And then Margaret not having socks because they aren’t provided. And not going to school because they don’t educate children who they hope will die of “natural causes” or something so they aren’t held accountable for murder. And Margaret praying she DOESN’T get her period because the girls who get it end up being molested. Her new friends trying to hide their chests. One of those friends sending the others up the river to save her own neck. Margaret’s grandparents on the border states pleading for their granddaughter to be freed. New Jersey claiming they don’t even have Margaret. New York being war-torn and run by gangsters who killed seven of the eight-point-six-million people in NYC. Another four million residents of the state being enslaved, and five million more dying of starvation. Some reports saying New Jersey doesn’t even do this, that it’s all fake. And a huge chunk of people caring far more about possible space aliens in a place called Nevada than about actual human children in New Jersey. The whole book being more like Anne Frank’s diary, with Margaret begging God not to let her suffer and die in a cage.

Area 51 or ICE camps

But the copyright is in 1970. And it isn’t about any of that. Maybe President Nixon didn’t cage two-thousand children, so Margaret didn’t have to fear someone would come for her in the night and rip her from her family. Maybe she didn’t have an uncle who had to comfort her night after night when she screamed in her sleep. “How would I prove I’m a forth-generation US citizen?”

How would Margaret prove that she’s an American? Assuming that she is. How does anyone prove it once they’ve been stripped down? And who, exactly, would listen and care even if there were some proof? An eleven-year-old girl yelling her social security number until she’s hoarse isn’t going to have a better chance. Probably just get her identity stolen.

(If you think they don’t have any American citizens in those cages, read this: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/immigration/2019/07/24/no-shower-23-days-us-citizen-held-deportation-shares-like-immigrant “Francisco Erwin Galicia, a Dallas-born U.S. citizen, spent 23 days in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection” – That’s just ONE of the stories. And yes, that guy had three forms of proof of citizenship on him when he was taken.)

None of this is about the actual book. But it took me several days to read this simple book because those are the thoughts I kept having. It’s wrong to say “your feelings about your problems aren’t valid because there are people with much bigger problems,” but it’s honestly what I kept thinking. Mostly because the main character didn’t have any goals I could care about. Which isn’t to say that other people couldn’t care about those goals. But I had no reason to cheer for this character.

I’m also not the target audience. So my opinion on this subject is far less valuable.

(Is it less valuable than $775 a night? https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/putting-migrant-children-in-tent-cities-costs-775-per-person-per-night-report The current federal minimum wage sits at $7.25. 40 hours a week * 7.25 = $290 a WEEK. Or $775 for 24 hours = $32.29 an hour. Make 345% MORE by taking in one human than working at a job. And the people earning the wages are the ones paying that rate, via taxes. What, exactly, is it being spent on?)

Here is another thought I had while reading:

Why are the males and females separated to learn about puberty? Why is it treated as a secret, as something shameful to keep hidden? Margaret wants to be normal. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as “normal” but it’s obvious that the system and society are stacked against her feeling normal. What if students were just told: “Here’s some stuff that changes in human bodies. Some of it will probably happen to you in the next ten years, so don’t freak out. And don’t shame others if it does or doesn’t happen to them, because there’s nothing wrong with it. It all sounds weird, maybe off-putting, but it is what it is. So just chill. You’re all people and this is part of the human experience.”

AND THEN

there’s the part that really bothered me.

“Moslem definition is – formerly common but now old-fashioned, increasingly rare, and sometimes offensive variant of Muslim.” –https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Moslem

“A Muslim in Arabic means”one who gives himself to God,” and is by definition, someone who adheres to Islam. By contrast, a Moslem in Arabic means”one who is evil and unjust”” – https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/524

“If someone uses the words “Moslem” and “Koran” instead of “Muslim” and “Quran,” statistically it is quite likely that the writer is hostile to Islam.” – https://www.mohammedamin.com/Community_issues/Koran-or-Quran.html

“Muslim has been the more common spelling since the 1940s” – https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Moslem

Chapter 24 used the offensive spelling.

Maybe that wouldn’t bother you if you’ve never been incorrectly identified or had people intentionally change what they call your people. It’s something a lot of groups have experienced. I guess this is another one of those Huckleberry Finn debates of should
“unintentional” racism be removed from children’s literature so as to not expose them further to what we now know is wrong? https://www.cbsnews.com/news/huckleberry-finn-and-the-n-word-debate/

But, if you read the book now, and didn’t pause to question that, have we made progress as a society? Are we doing all we can to promote peace and equality?

anti-racism

Another quote

“I don’t think a person can decide to be a certain religion just like that. It’s like having to choose your own name. You think about it a long time and then you keep changing your mind.”

I haven’t changed my mind about my name being J. I didn’t actually have a long time to think about it though. Even knowing people prefer the superfluous “ay” at the end, I stand by my decision.

Poor

Did anyone else read this and think maybe her parents are going broke, but trying to act like they aren’t?
“During dessert my mother explained to my grandparents that she had just ordered all new living room furniture and she was sorry they wouldn’t be able to see it. I knew she hadn’t ordered anything yet, but I didn’t tell.”
Nancy checked more than once to be sure Margaret was wearing her velvet, her best clothing, to the party.
They only have one car, even though that makes things difficult.
For Christmas, Margaret’s mother gives pictures she paints, instead of buying gifts.
Margaret says she knows for a fact they aren’t poor, and her reason is because of people who are far more impoverished. But is she a reliable source?


So why did I (re)read this book? Because it’s the current choice for the IWSG. My goal is to read three of their picks this year. Here are the discussion questions:


1. Throughout the book, Judy Blume shares Margaret’s prayers to God. Have you ever used prayers in either external (spoken) dialogue or internal (inner) dialogue? (Doesn’t even need to be directed toward God. Any sort of prayer counts.)

Yes. Chapter 12 of FRACTIONS OF EXISTENCE has Wend kneeling down to say her evening prayers. Religion is a big deal to her, a big part of the definition of her character.


2. Judy Blume tended to keep her dialogue short but relevant, no more no less, do you keep your dialogue short and to the immediate story point?

I’d say it depends on the character I’m writing. Some people are more verbose than others.


3. Judy Blume writes in the first person, and I noticed she used small portions of narrative between dialogue to convey thought and feelings of the main character as they talked.

QUESTION: Do you combine narrative and dialogue?

Yes. That feels realistic to me.


4. A. Have you ever written dialogue for children or young adults? Did you struggle with it or find it surprisingly easy?

I’ve been working on a YA story, ANAH ON TENTERHOOKS. The trouble is that language is not only fluid, but is influenced by a wide variety of factors. My main character doesn’t sound very much like a teenager. However, her brain is more developed than a normal teenager, and she’s been exposed to far more life experiences and thoughts than most teens.

There is one pre-school character in FRACTIONS OF EXISTENCE. I hoped the dialog would show his developmental learning difference. One person told me a “normal” child at that age wouldn’t speak that way. So, on one hand, that means I accurately portrayed the character. On the other hand, wow, an attempt to insult me was actually really mean to children who do struggle with this issue so yeah, bullies don’t age out and it isn’t a phase. The dialog wasn’t the only clue about the child, but subtle context is lost on some people.


B. If you’ve had children in your writings, what/who inspired them, their actions, and their dialogue?

I know a lot of children thanks to my day job. Many of the ones I meet there don’t have the privilege of growing to adulthood. So, yeah, they aren’t “typical,” but you know, they deserve representation too. And if basing the way I write children comes from those actual humans and is criticized for not sounding like “normal,” okay. My childhood wasn’t normal, typical, or average. Maybe all young people don’t have to be cookie-cutter characters who hit milestones based on a chart.


5. At the time it was written, this story was a contemporary, and now it reads more like a period piece (no pun intended). Is this story still effective? How could this story be re-imagined or updated to better appeal to the youth of today?

The first part asks if this story is still realistic or if it is set in that point in time. Do I think young people still struggle with puberty, religion, relationships, popularity, and family issues? Yes. There’s a sprinkling of racism and sexism and other such prejudices that have perhaps evolved. More male teachers, for example. The class didn’t have active shooter drills, so that would be needed for an update. Social media would have made Nancy far meaner. There aren’t students worrying if the world will still be habitable if they reach adulthood.

The religions Margaret tried out didn’t have negative connotations explored in the story. (“If you pick this one, you’re a Klan member. That one, you automatically get to be better with money but the Nazis will try to kill you. Here’s one that worships space aliens. Or this other one that makes you a terrorist by default. Hey, what about this one, which is widely practiced by a country that’s using money and debt to take over the world. Or this other one that is both a philosophy and a religion so people will say it doesn’t count.”) There are roughly 4,200 recognized religions in the world, which means Margaret gave up way too soon. The consequences of picking one are much larger than going to the Y or the JCC. Certain colleges consider which religion box is checked when deciding on admission. And if she plans to go into politics, it’s going to be a huge issue because of donor money. (There hasn’t been a Jewish president yet.)

Plus, she thinks about boys. A lot. There’s another best-seller that had a female teen main character.
“The impact of Edward’s departure hits Bella so hard Meyer illustrates her depressive void by omitting four chapters from the book (October, November, December, and January ) in order to emphasise this fact.” – https://intertheory.org/eddo-lodge.htm “The Anti-Feminist Character of Bella Swan, or Why the Twilight Saga is Regressive”
And yet, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”, is considered a very feminist book.
https://www.makers.com/blog/judy-blume-real-life-inspiration-for-are-you-there-god-its-me-margaret
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bjp77m/judy-blume-feminism-generation-young-girls
The girls gossip, backstab, ostrosize another girl, and care more about boys than future careers.
But I can only support feminism, not say what does or doesn’t qualify, because I don’t have the anatomy required to form an accurate opinion.
“Do you think I’ll get Philip Leroy for a partner? It’s not so much that I like him as a person God, but as a boy he’s very handsome.” — That doesn’t seem like feminism to me. That’s the objectification of a person. It’s a funny spin on the negative behavior and thoughts of too many straight men. Just picture a guy saying he doesn’t like Beyoncé as person, but she’s sexy as a woman. Is that guy a feminist? Is he supporting feminism? I’m just putting it out there because, if the book were redone, I think this would come up.

If the story were reimagined, I’d like to see one of her friends be a gay boy. One who grows tired of Nancy’s crap by the end and takes over the group, adding Laura Danker to the fold because body-shaming isn’t cool. My blog post here also mentions turning this story into one where Margaret is one of the children in the ICE cages. There’s a dystopian-but-real twist.

A lot of stories are reworks of older ones. Jane Austin and Shakespeare, for example, have hundreds of books that are a kind of fanfiction, but have been published and exist on their own. Reimaginings happen all the time.


Review

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

4 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

#WeNeedDiverseBooks #BeatTheBacklist
Originally published: 1970

It is a well-written book. The target audience is young ladies (which I am not). The book is interesting within its genre because it was rare for girls to be able to discuss puberty when this book was published. Exploring religions was also a rare topic, which this book addresses. So, if I were to recommend it, it would be to young ladies or young people struggling with religious identity.

I got a copy of this book because it was the IWSG bookclub book for July 2019. It isn’t my typical or preferred genre to read.

The book is diverse because Margaret is part Jewish, and faith is a big part of the story. It’s realistic fiction, with some light romantic aspects. It could be a tear-jerker for some readers, as the parents fight and the grandparents fight with the parents and there’s drama there. It was controversial at the time, but now probably less so. It is spiritual in that the main character explores a handful of religions. (“Moslem” is used instead of Muslim, which is either offensive or ignorant, depending on how educated you’d expect an eleven-year-old girl from NYC to be in 1970.)

The way Margaret’s age was revealed, by her not needing deodorant, was clever. I would, and have, read something else from this author.

I learned that some names are sensational, but I have no idea why or how to determine which names are or aren’t. The title is a big part of the book, as the character more “chats” with God, and sometimes makes ultimatums, than prays. That might bother some readers. There’s also body-shaming of the character Laura, for developing first.

The theme, or life lesson, is about wanting to seem normal and having a desire to fit in. It did remind me of some people I once knew.

Margaret’s biggest goals are for her body to hit puberty (which she can’t actually do anything about, but that doesn’t stop her from trying), and picking a religion (which she doesn’t do).

Jul 10 2019

Even Negative Feedback Can Be a Positive for a Writer

I entered the 2019 WriteClub contest. I didn’t make it this time. But, for the first time this year, feedback was offered.

Goodie goodie, a chance to learn!

Here are my takeaways.

No writer can ever please every reader. That just isn’t possible.

My story was a YA for adults who read YA, because it’s also a semi-historical fiction. Are the 1990’s historical? You know what’s great about Speculative Fiction? That they can be.

In the space of 496 words, I didn’t write “Hey, it’s the 90’s!” Instead, I alluded to it with references people roughly age 35 to 50 would get as being this setting. (I don’t know the ages of the judges. I’m guessing most weren’t in my target.)

Here are snippets from the feedback. And my thoughts. :

visual of setting

(An ominous setting) wasn’t a good hook. / I LOVED this (opening)!

To be fair, I wasn’t vague in the single sentence. If a reader knew the flora I mentioned, it’s creepy. (See above image.) “Sharp” and “pointy” were the fall-back adjectives I used. Also, the area that all of those could grow is very small. The trouble is that I forgot how few people would be able to paint a picture in their head with names of certain flora. One person loved it, one person hated it.

Where is (the love interest character) other than the MC’s imagination?

There’s absolutely no way anyone would realize this right now, but he was in the scene disguised as an inanimate object. Had I got in, it would have been revealed in a later round.

Left too many unanswered questions.

Previous years of WriteClub are often won by stories that are split up, using the same character and storyline each round. So yes, I very intentionally left unanswered questions to secure the votes of people who are on the fence but would vote with the hope of getting answers. It didn’t work this time. That’s the gamble. No regrets.

What have they done to (deserve a certain punishment if caught)? (x3)

If I had made it in, this question would have been answered in round two. The purpose of the line was to leave the reader wondering about it. And that purpose was accomplished at least three times.

Who is the other “they” person here? He’s only mentioned once.

Yup, another case of something that would be obvious in the next round. No regrets.

Why was a favorite song mentioned? No one knows this band. I don’t like this band.

It’s number 70 of the US top music sales of the 1990s decade, where it went platinum SEVEN times. It was number 1 in Australia in 1997 for a year, where it went platinum TWELVE times. In Canada, it went Diamond.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that a few people know the band and the song.
The song is mentioned for four reasons.

  1. There’s a paragraph based on the lyrics. People in the fandom would have been giddy. No regrets including it.
  2. It locks the story into a certain year without my saying what year it is.
  3. Some people can tell a lot about a person by what their favorite music is. This was a song that wasn’t a hit when it came out, but it just refused to go away, and got more and more popular as time went on. That’s the opposite of how music normally works. For it to be his favorite shows a commitment to a song that not everyone knew immediately, but that most grew to love.
  4. The band is named for a line in a book. (Notice how no one objected to the book reference. It’s an international best-seller from a series with movies, tv, and a Broadway play.) I rewrote a paragraph from the book and included it in the story. I also referenced the book’s main character’s nickname. It’s funny if you know the books.

I didn’t actually include it because it’s my favorite song. It isn’t. I like it, but it’s not my favorite. Thanks for guessing.

spiderman image humor

I know how Happy felt in this Spiderman Far From Home scene.

Loved the (paragraph that is a rewrite of song lyrics). (x3)

Song lyrics were the inspiration for this paragraph. If that song was stuck in your head at this point, it would be glaringly obvious what I had done. Full-on geeking out would have happened. Oh, and three of nine judges loved this paragraph. No regrets.

Why does the MC (only go to school) 38 weeks of the year?

Because that’s how many weeks a year the school is in session and students would live there. That’s a normal amount for where the school is located.

Werewolves & romance.

The main character isn’t actually a werewolf. There are only two clues about this in the story. To be fair, seeing him shift into a wolf would give this impression. But, had the story gone on, it would have been clear he’s more. And that takes the romance to a different place. Also, the main character is a teenage guy who has never been kissed.

Good contrast between the two mentioned settings. (Forest and school)

So grateful for the judges who caught that. It was the goal of the scene to show how this character is torn between the world he belongs in and the world he has to fit into. Which also mirrors his love conflict.

I didn’t understand this paragraph. A CD player and mention of spring break and blackberries?

Really just trying to hammer home that the story is in the late 1990s. The window for someone carrying a portable CD player is really small. And the mention of spring break and blackberries? In conjunction with the other clues, a reader could figure out the WEEK this story is set. Breadcrumbs!


So, to every reference book out there suggesting that readers can figure out settings based on context clues, I present you with proof that no, not really. Not unless they’re deeply invested in trying to do so.
Also, the CD player was from the dad with a note saying sorry SON. The entire point of which was so the reader would know the dad called the main character his son, inferring a male. It was a way to work the gender of the main character in the story. This mattered because I’ve learned people will not assume it’s a gay teen boy unless given a reason to make that guess.

Lots of well-revealed emotions.

Thanks!

I love this ending! This ending feels weak.

Did I mention you can’t please everyone? Two judges loved the ending. One hated it.

Not enough happens.

Fair enough. It wasn’t action heavy. I focused on making readers want to vote in the hopes of getting answers in the next round. Again, no regrets.

Made my top 30 favorites, even though I don’t like this genre.

I see this as a compliment.



I’m grateful for the feedback. Even the negatives felt like positives to me. It wasn’t liked by people who didn’t know about something that was wildly popular at the time the story is set. That sounds about right to me. Mostly, I’m glad that it wasn’t rejected for being a story with a gay main character. (I had entered it elsewhere a year before, and that was the reason it lost that time.)

I took a gamble based on previous wins. It didn’t pay off this time. Still, no regrets. I feel I learned from the feedback and am grateful for it.

Jul 08 2019

Sunday Stealing Questions

Sunday Stealing welcome mat image for blog hop
Sunday Stealing
Questions to get to know each other.

  1. Are you satisfied with the way your life is right now?
  2. Yes, for the most part, yes.

  3. Do you drink enough water?
  4. Most days, sure.

  5. When was the last time you ate at Burger King?
  6. I don’t know. There was pie.

  7. Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?
  8. Mountains, usually.

  9. How do you usually feel when you wake up on a morning?
  10. In love.

  11. Would you rather take someone on a date, or be taken on a date?
  12. I don’t know what this means.

  13. When was the last time you wore high heeled shoes?
  14. There was a charity drag show thing about a decade ago.

  15. Vodka or wine?
  16. With what? Suitable pairings are a thing my Snookums goes on about.

  17. How often do you cry?
  18. I don’t count. Monthly, bi monthly, I don’t know. I work with sick children and some of them have an impact and it breaks the heart when they die.

  19. Ever had a crush on a teacher?
  20. Yeah, kind of. But I knew it was mostly admiration.

  21. Can you wire a plug?
  22. I’d have to look up instructions.

  23. Do you wear socks to bed?
  24. No

  25. What is currently bugging you?
  26. A thought I had:

  27. Can you change a car tire?
  28. Yeah.

  29. Have you met more than ten celebrities?
  30. Yeah.

  31. Do you sleep naked?
  32. Sometimes.

  33. What was the best music gig you’ve ever attended?
  34. I’ve been to a few. But there was one in a repurposed ice house that was pretty special.

  35. Have you ever had sexual feelings for anyone you follow on line?
  36. Long ago.

  37. Who is someone who has changed your life positively.
  38. My Snookums.

  39. Favourite city?
  40. Boston is pretty great.

  41. Can you drive?
  42. Yeah.

  43. Cigarettes or alcohol?
  44. Alchohol.

  45. Favourite and least favourite accents?
  46. No opinion.

  47. Did you play Red Rover when you were a child?
  48. No.

  49. Do you like 1980s fashion?
  50. Some of it.


Quote from Host Bev Sykes of sundaystealing.blogspot.com and the blog “Funny the World”.
Welcome to Sunday Stealing.
This feature originated and published on WTIT: The Blog. Here we will steal all types of questions from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent questions. (Past hosts include: Our first – Judd Corizan, Mr. L, Kwizgiver and Bud) Cheers to all of us thieves!
This week’s questions were originally from: Questions, Memes, Asks, Etc

Jun 30 2019

Blog All About It – Risk

Blog all about it image

Is it a risk not to use this month’s prompt for a post before June is over? Is it a risk to blog about children in cages? Is it a risk to be a child who follows the adult in charge and then is punished because of it? Is it a risk to the soul to turn a profit as one of the people of the companies that earn money from children in cages? Is it a risk to deny due process to someone who may or may not be a citizen? Is it a risk to break the fire code because you’ve run out of space for the collected humans? Is it a risk to use words that make some humans sound less than human? Is it a risk to anger those who take such actions and who could easily come for you?

Anyone can be made to disappear if someone is willing to risk erasing them.

Jun 29 2019

Goals Check in for June Day 179 of 365

Nearly halfway through the year. Time to check in on my goal progress.

Got Goals Bloghop
https://gotgoalsbloghop.blogspot.com
#GotGoalsBlogHop

My emotions were heavily taxed this month. But it was a good month overall. I am behind in blog commenting, Sunday Stealing posts, and Photobucket image fixing. Also, I need to devote less of my time to social media and more to writing next month.


SPREADSHEET CHECK-IN

My brilliant A to Z cohost, J R Vincente, made a spreadsheet to track progress for the year.
I’m counting blogging as “social media.”
key 2019 Productivity JLenniDorner image

June image



MAIN LIFE GOALS:

  • Publish two decent-selling book series (speculative fiction)
  • Survive at least another 35 years

BUCKET LIST:

  1. Publish a book and sell 2,000 copies of it in one week or 8,000 copies of it in one month.
  2. Watch a meteor shower while in the Cranberry Lake area of New York or Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. (USA)
  3. Visit Mount Sinai.
  4. Skydive
  5. Learn how to play checkers.
  6. Take a hot-air balloon ride over Maine.
  7. Have dinner at Armando al Pantheon in Rome.

Goal image (NOT an actual screenshot.)


Current Writing Goals

  • Self-publish + Blog the reference book on Writing Book Reviews #BookishResolutions Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
  • Self-publish Anah’s story (ANAH ON TENTERHOOKS) #BookishResolutions , including writing 60k more words, by August 2020.
  • Write 15k more words of high fantasy short story, and publish it, by Feb 2021 to give the characters more story-space/ page-time.
  • Write 20k more words of WIGS tribal short story, and publish it, by April 2021 to prove to myself it’s worthwhile.
  • Write 40k more words of the next Existence book, and publish it, by Sept 2022 to share this version of a story that was passed on to me, and hopefully make some money and have a career as a writer as a result.
  • Write 90k more words of Alison Fantasy book, and publish it, by Sept 2023 to sell books so my RPG time was valuable.

Other important goals:

Enter 2 writing contests this year to get my brand out there.
Complete my reading challenges half way for the year for fun and to be a better writer.
Comment on 20 blogs a month to stay connected with my blogging community.
Tweet 5 diverse books a month to support book diversity.
Tweet 2 debut books a month to support debut authors.
Fix 13 blog posts a month from Photobucket broken links to make my blog aesthetically pleasing to my eye.
Unfollow 900 Tweeps by Aug to get out of Twitter follow jail. (Down to following 7880.) 459 to go.

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2019 Resolution:

#NewYearsResolution

  • This year I resolve to publish two books and write at least 25% of the year.




Seven Focus Topics

Posting about these topics monthly will keep my author brand strong:

  1. Lenni Lenape (Native American) — 0 posts
  2. storytelling –1 posts
  3. writing –1 post
  4. legends — 0 posts
  5. characters — 0 posts
  6. urban fantasy/ speculative fiction — 2 posts
  7. read –2 posts




2019 Goals:

  • 12 Blog All About It posts
  • Keep rocking the Debut Author Spotlight at Operation Awesome
  • 91 days of writing is my big #BookishResolutions (others are hashtagged)
    • Update on May 1 Posted!Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
    • September 1
  • Take part in NaNoWriMo
    • July Camp #BookishResolutions
    • November 50k words #BookishResolutions
  • Publish two books #BookishResolutions
    1. One: Writing Book Reviews As An Author: Inspiration To Make It Easier Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
    2. Two:
  • Be part of 3 blog hops/fests
    1. One: #AtoZChallenge First A to Z Book Tour Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
    2. Two: #AtoZChallenge TENTH anniversary of the April blogging challenge Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
    3. Three:
  • Enter 7 writing contests #BookishResolutions
    1. One: WriteClub 2019 ~ Congratulations to Wendy Cross.aka Sicaria
    2. Two: WEP April
    3. Three: WEP June
    4. Four: SPFBO5 Progress= Qwillery
    5. Five:
    6. Six:
    7. Seven:
  • Add 200 books to the spreadsheet organizing my TBR by page length
    • 419 as of Jan 1
    • 430 as of Feb 23
    • 432 as of Mar 29
    • 441 as of April 30
    • 448 as of May 31
    • 461 as of June 28
  • Complete Reading challenges:

blog all about it challenge 2019 try something new square 2019 book reading challenge all about the trope 2019 book reading challengeCreativity Reading Challenge 2019 Back to the Classics 2019 reading challenge2019 Diversity Reading Challenge #BeatTheBacklist2019 Ravenclaw The Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club #IWSG Of Wonderland Book Club #OWBookClub #BeatTheBacklist #amreading #books 2019 #BookishResolutions

2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
J. has
read 0 books toward
their goal of
50 books.
hide


EVERY MONTH:




Goals just for July:

  • Read and review 4 books
  • Post results of the #AtoZChallenge after survey
  • Pass or Pages Query Contest at Operation Awesome – Horror Genre!
  • July NaNo camp


Review of Goals just for June:

  • Read and review 4 bookshalf credit because @JLenniDorner accomplished part of this goal
  • WEP Caged Bird Mischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
  • Post results of the #AtoZChallenge after survey FAIL image because @JLenniDorner FAILED this goal
  • Help with the Pass or Pages Query Contest at Operation AwesomeMischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
  • Get ready for July NaNo campMischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
  • New Adult Scavenger HuntMischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal
  • Vote at WRiTECLUBMischief Managed because @JLenniDorner accomplished this goal



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Have goals? Need encouragement? This blog hop is for you!
gotgoalsbloghop.blogspot.com

Jun 26 2019

#NewASH New Adult Scavenger Hunt July 2019 #Win #Books

NewAsh banner

Welcome to New Adult Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was inspired as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors and a chance to win some awesome prizes! During this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, but you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 96 hours!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt page.

 

***THE SCAVENGER HUNT***

 

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my lucky book number. Collect the lucky book numbers of all the authors, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by June 30th, at noon Eastern Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

 

LET THE HUNT BEGIN!

Please welcome: L. R. W. Lee

https://www.facebook.com/lrwlee/
https://twitter.com/LRWLee
lrwlee.com
https://lrwlee.com/about/

 

“In this gods-versus-mortals fairytale retelling, only sand maiden Alissandra can save the human realm from her father.

Dreamweaver Alissandra’s father, the god of dreams, plans to exploit her human dream charge in a quest to conquer Wake realm. If he gets his way, humans would exist only to do his bidding.

But if Alissandra tries to stop him, she’ll be forced to flee Dream realm…a move that would make her mortal and might even kill her.

Fans of Sarah J. Maas, Elise Kova, and Amanda Bouchet will love this emotionally driven, addictive paranormal romance series by award-winning author L. R. W. Lee.”

Rock-A-Bye Baby: New Adult Epic Fantasy Paranormal Romance with Young Adult Appeal (The Sand Maiden Book 1)

 

[EXCLUSIVE CONTENT]
Deleted Scene — Get it here:

https://dl.bookfunnel.com/78uckpzaz3


To enter the scavenger hunt, you need to know my lucky book number.
It is a highly composite number, which means that it has more factors than any smaller positive integer.
Here’s a hint from Fractions of Existence:

“What do I do now, Jez? Drive to her house with flowers and some lame teddy bear, and beg for her to forgive me? Do I wait until tomorrow and send twelve dozen red roses? Or am I supposed to just go home?”

“A gross of roses. Nice!”

Did you know twelve dozen is a gross? Did you know that my lucky number for this hunt is 12? Well, you do now!

Add up all the lucky numbers of the authors and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

The Summer NewASH goes live on Wednesday, June 26th at 12 p.m. U.S. EST and comes down Sunday, June 30th at 12 p.m. U.S. EST.

EXTRA GIVEAWAY

Name a character! Leave a comment on this blog post with your choice for the name of a character. One winner will have that name used in an upcoming publication of mine.

Picture it!

Hey, have you read this book? I named a character in it.

Impress your friends. Feel immortal. Honor a loved one.


Leaving a blog comment with the name you’d use for the character is the only mandatory requirement. There are a few bonus options to increase your odds of being picked.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***CONTINUE THE HUNT***

 

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author. Roll on over to the fabulous M Dalto at https://authormdalto.wordpress.com/blog/!

GOOD LUCK!!

Jun 18 2019

Book Comparisons in Best Sellers in New Adult & College Fantasy

I was checking out the Amazon Best Sellers in New Adult & College Fantasy.

Goal image (NOT an actual screenshot.)

One of my big goals is to get Fractions of Existence on the top ten of this list one day.

By comparison, the top ten books when I looked:

  • Six were about an academy.
  • (There is an academy in the Existence series, but not until book three.)

  • All had characters with magic.
  • (One book has a character with abilities similar to those of the Existence series.)

  • One has a bounty hunter.
  • (Only the antagonists could be considered similar to bounty hunters in the Existence books.)

  • Series book one, the next is up for pre-order: 3
  • (Ohh… one day!)

  • A book in an already published series: 6

Benjamin Ashwood by AC Cobble
This seems like the nearest book to Fractions of Existence. Time to compare!

A simple life until exciting strangers show up — that’s what happens to Wend.
Leaves on an adventure without understanding what’s happening — Wend does that.
More dangerous than ever imagined — that’s an accurate description of Wend’s journey by the end of the book.
Encountering assassins on the journey to myths and legends — Wend’s journey in a nutshell.

More than one character’s life is in danger as the series unfolds — Yup.
“Against the backdrop of warring political, economic, and military factions, Ben and his friends battle a threat to all of mankind.” — Against the backdrop of warring political, economic, and military factions, Xavier and his kind battle a threat to all of mankind.
“Ben’s knowledge and skill grows, but he must decide if he will live under the control of the unscrupulous leaders who rule the land, flee from them, or break them.” — This is very near to what Wend will learn in book two, but going into detail is a spoiler!

Jun 17 2019

The Infinite Pieces of Us #BookReview #Bechdel #WeNeedDiverseBooks #BeatTheBacklist

The Infinite Pieces of Us by Rebekah Crane
4 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

Amazon Kindle genres:
#14 in Teen & Young Adult Coming of Age Fiction eBooks
#13 in Teen & Young Adult Romantic Comedy eBooks
#9 in Teen & Young Adult Romantic Comedy

GOODREADS GENRES:
Young Adult
Contemporary
Fiction
Romance

Publication Date: November 1, 2018
#WeNeedDiverseBooks #BeatTheBacklist
Author I Haven’t Previously Read

Quote: “I’m not sure why I ask this guy anything. He keeps canaries in a cage. Everyone knows why the caged bird sings.”
It’s interesting that I should read a book with that passage this month when the #WEP challenge theme is Caged Bird.

This was an enjoyable book to read, though also heartbreaking. I wouldn’t call it a romance book, though there are love-story subplots. It’s more of a contemporary YA with social and religious issues. There’s a good amount of diversity (lesbian, gay, poverty, pregnant teen, psychic, Christian group, and a mentioned character who might be Muslim or Jewish judging by the surname Kahn). It’s interesting how Esther’s emotions and mental dealings are revealed layer by layer. There’s a mystery mixed in. The relationship between the sisters is more vital to the plot than any “romance.” The focus is on the bonds of friendship and healing from emotional trauma.

I’d recommend it to those who enjoy a YA book about ordinary teenagers. Also to anyone researching a debate on teen pregnancy or adoption, and the small town gossip that goes with those choices. Or, if you like math jokes, this book has those! I don’t read much in the contemporary YA genre, but this was a Kindle first-reads. I read it cover to cover because the mystery of what would happen next kept me hooked.

This realistic fiction is somewhat controversial. The story is complex. The author’s voice is a strong one.

I learned about the name of a real place. “Originally named Hot Springs, the city changed its name to “Truth or Consequences”, the title of a popular NBC Radio program.” (Wikipedia, and mentioned in the book.)

“Life is simply better on coffee.” I love that quote and the role coffee plays in the book.

“I’ll feel around for her, touching my belly, and all I’ll find is loose flesh.” This is sort of raw, emotional punch this book delivers.

Esther’s list of fears in Chapter 24 is fantastic. There’s a bit of pop-culture mixed in that not everyone will get.

“And the strangest thing happens in the middle of my happiness — I worry it will all go away.” Wow. That’s such a powerful line to me.

quote

A possible trigger for some people, there’s a portion that questions Christianity and the Bible.

I deeply loved the part about men creating borders, not nature. How the lines are arbitrary, they don’t actually exist outside of the minds of people.

The cover is a setting in the book, something only someone who has read the book could appreciate. The title is a reference to her love of math. It’s a well-edited book.

The universal life lesson seems to be not to underestimate someone, or make assumptions without facts. Everyone has a secret. I could relate to Jesus, so he’s my favorite character in the book. Hannah reminded me of someone I knew long ago, but to say why would be a huge spoiler, so I’ll just say my one-time-friend had the same kind of plot-twist with someone that Hannah did.

Obstacles in the book seem easier for the other characters. So it seems that the real obstacle is the need to cope with something that has been shoved under the rug instead of faced.

It holds up a mirror up to the society of small towns that gossip about teenagers, and to those who pretend life-altering events didn’t happen instead of seeking therapy to help deal with reality. The book also presents the reality of inadequate sexual education and how shaming safe-sex also has consequences. (Interestingly, even if the consequence breaks the heart and mind, it still doesn’t always become a deterrent.)

There are multiple scenes where females characters have conversations that are not about males. There are also scenes where mixed genders don’t hook up with each other, but rather form friendships. #Bechdel

Jun 14 2019

Hogwarts House Sorting Time

I found this Hogwarts House Sorting game on Twitter. https://twitter.com/whosnhi/status/1138862721087094785

Hogwarts House Sorting Time

I’m a Ravenclaw. (Already knew that.)

Here are copies of the blanks, if you want to play along.

Hogwarts House Sorting Time Hogwarts House Sorting Time
Hogwarts House Sorting Time Hogwarts House Sorting Time

Jun 13 2019

Anah’s Plausibility Cage #WEPFF #FlashFiction #WEP #IWSG

I had a tough time deciding what story to share this time. Ultimately, I went with a scene from ANAH ON TENTERHOOKS, the YA speculative fiction I’m working on turning into a novel. I’ve used this character for a WEP entry before.

WEPFF image
WEP Writing Contest link

Scene set up–

Anah and her parents are telepaths. The US Government has declared telepathic powers to be illegal. There’s an agency, the HSMTF, rounding up people. But the government only knows about the lower level telepaths. The levels, referred to by telepath’s as Eve and a number, go up to Eve Nine. There’s a rumor that it could go as high as Eve Ten. Anah’s father is an Eve Four. Her mother is an Eve Six. Anah is an Eve Nine. A telepath is born at whatever Eve number, and that is and will always be the amount of potential the person could unlock.

Anah has an English teacher who is an Eve Two. He’s the only person in her life she’s not related to who is also a telepath. She had one brief fantasy about him while writing a short story in her journal. Her parents worry because that’s an inappropriate age difference, as she’s 15. So her dad arranged for Anah to spend three days with Tyler, an Eve Five cousin, at Lewis University. Her dad believes that Anah just needs to be around more mature boys closer to her age, to see a possible future is only a few years away.

(Lewis University is just outside of Chicago, IL. The Sigma Delta Fratority is, as the name suggests, not gender exclusive. In this story, it is quite popular to this day, and is where Tyler resides.)

Italic words are telepathic communications.

WEPFF Anahs Cage image

Anah’s Plausibility Cage

Tyler throws his baseball toward the ceiling. We watch as gravity returns it. Laying on beanbag chairs, watching gravity work, is this what college is like?

“Do you think Hermione ever believed in the tooth fairy?” Tyler asks as he throws the ball again.

“It wouldn’t be logical, so probably not,” Mark says. His room, across the hall, is covered with Harry Potter paraphernalia. I expect the bronze eagle doorknocker would give me a riddle if I tapped it.

“Yeah, but we don’t start as logical beings, do we? We’re all born in a cage with plausibility for bars.”

I lean closer to Tyler. “You smell like cigarettes and bourbon.”

He stops throwing his ball. “No, I don’t. It’s just how my bodywash smells on me. It smells like wood and citrus on other people. I’m just weird.”

So you don’t smoke or drink? Or you do, but you don’t want Mark to know?

I don’t. And I’m tired of being accused of it. But I hate the smell of other soaps. Ivory makes me sneeze.

“I bet she did believe. I bet she put her teeth under her pillow like any other kid. And her dentist parents came to get them, but got all caught up staring at them. Because, you know, dentists. And she woke up and caught them lying about the tooth fairy. Bam. Plausibility bars shattered. She got out of that cage.” Tyler throws his ball again.

“And then went to a school with magic? How many letters do you think she destroyed?” I ask.

“Faculty delivers letters to muggle-borns. A professor would have shown up and explained everything. Offered proof.” Mark explains as he shakes his can of soda as if more will appear.

“Is that why she read the book on the history of the school? Because she was looking for more proof it was real?” I sit up.

“Probably. Then again, she also really liked to read.” Mark rolls off his beanbag chair, waves, and is gone.

There. You’ve met a guy closer to your own age. You’ve had a philosophical conversation. A future path has been presented.

I stare at Tyler’s ball. Instead of falling back into his hands, it twists around and knocks him on the head.

“Oww.” What was that for?

Mark isn’t like us. True, his thoughts were quite an upgrade from the guys at my school. But he still isn’t like us.

Well excuuuussseeee me. Didn’t know you were exclusively dating in the Eve gene pool. How’s that working out for you?

Tyler rolls on his side so he can stare me down.

Not exactly getting hit with flashes of happy memories over here. Not feeling any waves of butterflies, either. Come on. Share one.

I flip him the finger as I wall off my mind.

“So that’s why my aunt and uncle are worried. It isn’t just that you showed interest in a guy who is too old for you. It’s that you’ve never shown interest in someone appropriately aged for you.”

“Leave me alone. Don’t you have homework or something?” I roll toward the wall and broadcast the It’s a Small World song at top volume from my head.

A pillow muffles my face. It gets dark and hot so fast. The hold is too strong for my hands to break. If I don’t panic, I’ll be able to breathe longer. Right? But it’s so dark. And he’s so strong.

What if it isn’t Tyler with the pillow? What if he left because the song was too loud? I stop playing it.

Tyler?

What if it’s an HSMTF agent? Am I about to be taken?

TYLER! HELP!

The pillow moves. He gets off of me.

“You okay? I just wanted you to stop drowning me out. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“I wasn’t scared.” I run my shaking fingers through my hair and wipe the tears from my face. “Your pillow stinks. I thought I was getting cancer from the secondhand cigarette smoke.”

He shoots a death glare at me. Tyler’s mind curses at me for picking at his insecurity. But I feel him filter it. “Funny.”

I lean my head on my knee. “That’s why I haven’t dated. What you just did.”

“The pillow thing?” He tosses it out his door. It lands in Mark’s room. A Dobby toy thanks him for a sock. I laugh.

“No. Where you said funny but, in your head, you were cursing me out. People say polite things, but they don’t mean them. And those unsaid thoughts, especially of the guys in my school, I can’t stand them.”

Tyler slides beside me. “My first girlfriend cheated on me. Well, not really. Just, one day, she started thinking about another guy. I broke up with her before she had a chance to be a cheater.”

“So she might not have cheated? Given enough time?”

He wraps his arm around me. “That’s how it is for us. We don’t know the future. But we have more information than others. I could have waited. She never did get with the guy. But, to me, it was like she had. For you, those thoughts you hear, they might never happen.”

I lean against him. His bodywash is truly awful. I’ll miss the smell when dad picks me up tomorrow.

“The reason I didn’t curse you out verbally, in case you missed it, is because I know you were feeling defensive. I provoked you. You defended. I attacked. You hid. We both know you could take me.”

I giggle. “Me? Take you? Tyler, look at me. I’m the size of one of your legs, and that’s being generous.”

He taps my head. “No. You’re an Eve Nine. You’re the best of us. Break your plausibility cage bars. The wings of your mind will let you soar. No one can defeat you, Anah.”

977 words FCA, please! (This is a scene from a book I plan to indie publish, so I welcome all thoughts, notes, proofreading, everything!)

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