2018 SC Writing Workshop Takeaways

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a writing workshop in South Carolina.  I learned so much about writing, publishing, agent pitching, and even self-publishing.  As stated in my last blog post, I don’t know very much about being an author outside of typing words into a manuscript, and I feel like I’ve come away from this experience with a far better understanding of what it takes to make it as a writer, and put several fears to rest which seem to be saturating the web.  I’m going to discuss my six key takeaways for my first ever Writer’s Workshop.

  1. The real importance of Platform.  I’ve been hearing about platform for several years now, how it’s crucial to your success as a writer and if you don’t have one, then you need to spend time building one.  Honestly, this sounds daunting.  I already struggle to find time to write my book, and now I have to build a “platform”?  And this platform generally consists of building twitter followers, instagram followers, facebook friends, blogging regularly (the struggle!) ugh.  I hate facebook as it is, and now I have to have twitter and instagram too and devote hours of my life to this????  No thank you.
    • Well, what I learned from this conference is that platform is more crucial to non-fiction writers and self-publishers, which makes sense because who wants to buy your life-story unless they’re already interested in you and have heard about you?  And as a self-publisher, your only advertising is yourself, so yes, build that platform!  But, but if you’re a fiction writer seeking a traditional publisher, platform is highly unnecessary.  So long as your book is relevant to the current market, your book will sell.  So for my own peace of mind I need to make a decision that if I want to self-publish again I need to build this platform, or else do my best to find a traditional publisher.
  2. Value of another set of eyes.  During the conference, a panel of four agents listened to the reading of the first page of several manuscripts submitted by the attendees, including one submitted by myself.  During the reading, if two agents raised their hand the reading stopped and the agents explained what issues they had with the reading.  This was sooooo informative, especially when they read mine.  I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong with it before, but after they discussed it, it clicked and I was able to make it much better.  This critique panel is not unlike what a critique group in your area will provide you, namely, a new set of  eyes.  So if you haven’t taken my advice from my previous blog post, please do and join a critique group.
  3. Showing vs. telling, and what that really means.  I’ve heard this before, but no one really did a great job of explaining it to me.  Obviously, you can’t “show” everything, but it’s important to scour your manuscript and rewrite what you can and make it a more familiar and relatable experience for your readers, so they feel like they’re actually at the scene watching it unfold instead of sitting around the campfire listening to story being told, there is a big difference.  A big part of accomplishing this is simply eliminating info dumps.
    • Info dumps are lines of information and details jotted down about a time, place, or person that are not actually occurring at the moment of the scene.  So, for example, explaining the backstory of a child breaking her leg five years ago during the scene where she’s eating cake on her 8th birthday.  No doubt relevant to the story somehow, but not overly interesting to the reader and not pertinent at the moment when she’s cramming her mouth with cake and tasting all the sweet flavors of chocolate and vanilla swirls.  Usually details like this can be effectively woven into dialogue somewhere else in the story, for example at a checkup visit at the doctor’s office or something.  Point is, infodumping loses the reader’s interest and takes them out of the current scene instead of draws them into it.  Agents consider infodumping lazy because it’s a non-creative way to explain things.
    • That being said, during your first draft and brainstorming session, infodumping can be key to getting your thoughts down before they disappear forever, so in those birth stages, info dump away!  Just make sure you go back and rework it for your final manuscript.
  4. Character voice is key.  What is your character thinking?  But it’s more complicated than simply adding a line in italics, (although do that) it’s about breaking the fourth wall on paper.  Not an easy feat, and it’s even harder to describe.  An example of this could be:
    • ‘Chills raced along Farwen’s spine as the door groaned to a close behind her, shutting out the developing chaos outside. Had she really made it here in one piece?’
      • The “Had she really made it here in one piece?” is the breaking the fourth wall part, it’s getting the reader inside of her mind while at the same time staying out of it.
    • It could also be written as an inner thought in italics:
      • ‘Chills raced along Farwen’s spine as the door groaned to a close behind her, shutting out the chaos developing outside.  How did I make it here in one piece?’ 
    • I personally like the first example better, but both establish strong character voice and need to be woven into your work somehow.  I’m still learning myself how to effectively work this into my writing and develop my scenes to captivate the reader.  It’s hard, but this workshop really helped me to understand it more and at least provide me some guidelines to go off of as I’m evaluating what I have and experimenting to make it better.
  5. Networking platform building and exposure to new opportunities and tools for writers.  This conference not only had writers from all over America, but it had legitimate agents instructing the workshops, and it also had special guest speaker Hollis Gillespie, comedian, published author, and owner of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy.  Hollis Gillespie has been on the Tonight Show, multiple radio shows, and is devoted to helping authors improve their manuscripts.  She also hosts writer retreats and special workshops through her academy.  Check it out at www.shockingreallife.com.
  6. Other random writing tips I learned:
    1. dialogue on the first page of your manuscript sparks interest
    2. don’t introduce too many names in the first chapter
    3. excessive use of adjectives is bad, bulky, and loses reader interest
    4. know how to write for your intended audience.  Not only is appropriate content a factor, but writing style is big too
    5. RUE:  Resist the Urge to Explain – aka infodump/repetition/excessive detail
      • trust the reader – if they’re reading your book, it means they read, which means they have some powers of deduction and can

I found the workshop to be super super helpful and engaging, and I will be keeping my eyes peeled for more opportunities in the future.  Hope you found this post helpful to your writing experience.  If so, please subscribe and/or follow me on twitter @mjpankey1 (I finally got one, blah).

 

Critique Groups and Their Value

I recently went on a business trip and meet up with some of my colleagues from around America, one of them is a published author.  Not a very big author, but an author nonetheless.  I realized that there are many things that I just have no clue about when it comes to writing, largely because I have been rather lazy when it comes to my own writing.  After highschool, writing has taken a backseat to just about everything; college mostly, work, dating, marriage, and now raising my very own little man, and even more school.  Throughout all of these life changes however, my imaginary world has been on my mind, always on the to-do list behind washing the dishes, always rubbing elbows with the little gray cells, scrambling for some priority that just rarely comes.

After some considerable thought, I have taken my self-published book off of the market because I realize that it just was not ready for publication yet.  It is now in the midst of its of 5th revision, although this time it is focused more on editing than for total overhaul.  Back to the initial topic…

During the business trip and my encounter with this author I learned about critique groups, something that unbeknownst to me, is fundamental to every author.  Basically, a critique group is a group of authors, aspiring authors, or beta readers who get together to read each other’s work and provide feedback about writing style, grammar, word usage, flow, and other important aspects that every author should be concerned about.  This concept of a critique group is an astonishing idea that somehow never crossed my mind before, largely because I was just too busy with life to learn about even the most basic tools available for authors.  There was just one problem though, a critique group did not exist in my area.

So I created one.

The Augusta Writer’s Critique Group was founded via Meetup on August 21st, 2018 and now has 50 members.  Tomorrow is our third meetup and I’m excited to say that I have learned so much from speaking with other authors and aspiring authors in my area.  Favoring ancient poets and fantasy writers, I have not allowed myself to wander into different genres very often, and I find that this significantly limits my own potential for writing and places me even more in the box that a new writer is already challenged enough to try to climb out of.

The purpose of this blog is two things:

  1. If you are serious about writing, and wish to eventually complete a book (never mind publish one, self-published or otherwise, just complete it), it is extremely important that you prioritize writing in your life.  Carve out a special time once per week, twice per week, every day if possible, to devote to writing, or just to thinking about writing.  If this is not done, kiss your dreams of being an author goodbye because despite what you’ve heard, the book does NOT write itself.
  2. Learn about what tools are available to help authors succeed in your area.  It can be something as simple as carving out an hour and a half once per month to meet with other authors in your area for a critique, or it could be attending a writing workshop.  Because I established the AWCG, the 2018 Writing Workshop of South Carolina reached out to me to spread the word about a writing workshop taking place in November that I had no idea about.

So if you are an aspiring author, an established author, a self-published author, or just someone who is thinking about putting your imagination onto a shareable medium, then prioritize thing 1 and thing 2.  It doesn’t have to take precedence over raising a baby or turning in your homework, it just has to make it onto your calendar.

Thank you for reading.  Please subscribe!

 

Vixen, by Sarah Catherine Muth – Review

I stumbled across this self-published book quite by accident. I was at a coffee shop called TeaLoha and on the bulletin board next to the restrooms there was a business card advertising this book. That caught my attention, and giving the author props for this advertising helping me stomach the $24 including shipping costs to purchase it from Amazon. That being said, this book is a whopping 454 pages, so it will keep you busy for awhile.

The author’s description on Amazon is as follows:

In a post-war world, Sierra Maurell and her three fox attribute brothers must use their cunning to endure the cold racism of the pure-DNA human race. When a new desegregation law forces Sierra to spend her last year of high school at a formerly human-only institution, racial antagonism compels her to lead her fellow half-breeds towards equality. But one human refuses to treat half-breeds as less than human, and their meeting creates a new line of fate which might change Sierra’s world forever.

Okay, so immediately this book is not my typical genre that I would gravitate to in a bookstore. The description and cover of the book screams “Furry” and highschool romance, and anything to do with a highschool romance between two people of different “species” if you will, suggests a strong Twilight influence, a notion that is quite sad and false in many cases. Highschool romance was not invented by Stephanie Meyer, but she certainly did ruin it for many, including myself, and it makes me wary to read anything which might have similar themes. The Furry culture has never interested me either, but I’ve been open to new genre’s before and have been pleasantly surprised (The Eggless Club), so I decided to be completely open-minded about this book and give it a shot.

The premise of the book surrounds a world where pure-humans and half-breeds dwell together in a very politically fragile system. Pure-humans are of course just humans, and half-breeds are humans with DNA mixed with animal DNA. Humans think half-breeds are beneath them and they are very often mistreated, have lousy jobs if any, and are not afforded the same quality benefits or schooling. In some decades past, there was a war between humans and half-breeds, and half-breeds obviously lost, or a cease-fire was met, or something, it was not fully explained. It was recent enough however that the main character, a half-breed fox girl named Sierra, remembers her father fighting in the war. Considering that she is only 17/18-ish, this is pretty recent. The author literally spends no more than 3 sentences explaining why there are half-breeds, which I found somewhat disappointing. The whole book I was wondering why this had occurred, and finally I was afforded a vague explanation with no real details or insight that left me unsatisfied and wondering if it was a hurried input because she realized that she needed something in there to quell the curiosity. Perhaps she will go into more detail about the origins of half-breeds if she writes a second book.

There were a lot of themes I really appreciated in this book. Though it was half-humans and pure humans, rather than whites and blacks and hispanics etc, the strained relationship between the two races translated extremely well into real world racial problems every country currently faces in some form or fashion. I thought Sarah did an excellent job portraying the hatred and emotions between both groups, as well as the dialogue throughout. Outside the school scene, Sierra’s brothers, Harold, Wade, and Eisen all have jobs and there is a constant wariness that they must be very careful not to give their employers incentive to be fired, since they know because of their race that they are under more scrutiny than pure humans, and jobs which will even hire them are extremely difficult to come by.

The first half of the book deals with these issues pretty well, and I did find it interesting to read. The second half of the book though is significantly different. Sierra meets her love interest, Duncan, in the first half and by the second half they are together as we expected. Her love interest has a special secret that he reveals to her and of course it’s something world shaking. From here is where the Twilight saga begins. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who may choose to read this book so I won’t tell what the secret is, but I will say that it really diminished the significance of the racial themes in the book for me. I don’t know what the original intent of Sarah Muth was for this book, but reading the first half I was genuinely enthralled by how insightful the racial struggles were, and once she reveals Sierra’s love interest’s big secret, the opportunity vanishes somehow to continue that racial struggle from a romantic level.

I was raised in the southern United States. Racism is rampant everywhere there and it’s truly disgusting. Whites dating blacks is still frowned upon and I’ve heard the most ridiculous nonsense come out of “respectible” people’s mouths about how it is wrong, evil, and sacriledge to mix races and other absolute trash and lies surrounding the purity and innocence of humans falling in love with other humans. Once Duncan’s secret is revealed the opportunity to expound on this common and still controversial aspect of racism which still runs rampant in today’s day and age vanishes, even though she tries to keep it alive, and I was truly disappointed. But I digress. The secret does introduce opportunities for other interesting plot twists, even if it squashes this one.

From this point on though, it is literally a sappy highschool love story. Of course, there is a love triangle introduced which thankfully does not go on forever as it did in Twilight. The other love interest is a half-breed, and she entertains the idea because of this reason as well as because her friends are pressuring her to give him a shot. I did appreciate how Sarah described Sierra’s emotions and feelings about it. Having been in a similar situation before, I appreciated how accurate Sierra’s feelings were and it made this triangle thing interesting, as I’m sure anyone who has ever been in a similar situation can as well.

The book ends setting up quite well for a second book. I won’t spoil anything here but there is definitely enough content to keep readers interested for a second book.

There are a few inconsistencies I noted in the book. One was the comment she added in about half-breeds being unable to pass their animal attributes onto their children. The exact comment when referring to a mixed breed couple, a bear boy and a poodle girl, was “At least our animal DNA doesn’t really blend into our reproduction processes…that would be an odd mix”. I found this extremely contradictory, since half-breeds are born half-breeds and this does in fact suggest that their attributes pass on to their kids. So if bear boy and poodle girl have a kid, it will be human? or….????? This is definitely confusing and I feel as though this may have been an earlier idea that somehow escaped revision. Most of the families in the book exhibit a particular type of animal DNA, she and her brothers are all part fox, and her best friend’s family are all part cat. But there is a family with mixed animal DNA that does not fit this mold, one sister exhibits parrot DNA, the other some type of reptile, and the brother mentioned very briefly I believe has wolf DNA. So this is also somewhat confusing. Sarah Muth does not go into detail why this family exhibits different DNA among its members, nor why others are all the same type of animal, and none of this is explained at all by the comment that animal DNA doesn’t really blend into the reproductive processes. But hopefully this will be ironed out in book 2.

One thing I found absolutely annoying was every single piece of technology was SMARTinsertdevicehere. SMARTcall for cell phone, SMARTvision for TV, SMARTnote for computer. I think there were other examples but I forgot them. Literally every single thing was a SMARTsomething or other and this was incredibly annoying. One thing was interesting about this though, every SMARTwhatever was government issued which leads me to think that either Sarah Muth is low-key lashing out against this day and age’s explosion of smart devices and trying to attune readers to the fact that our own very real devices are probably being monitored, OR, she is advocating the use of these devices because it seems that everything in our real world labelled “smart” is somehow associated with energy efficiency. Either way, the real intent is unclear, but whichever it was, she was definitely seeming to advocate for one of these opinions, and if you own anything that is a SMARTblank, you’ll want to bust it with a hammer when you’re done with this book.

Another obvious contradiction in the book was the fact that half-breeds do not wear cologne or other artificial scents, and it is one of the ways that half-breeds can always tell the difference between humans and half-breeds whose animal DNA is not as prominent as others. This idea is used frequently throughout the book in several key plot twists. But then somewhere towards the end her best friend who is a cat girl was wearing rose scented perfume. Probably just an oversight, but it made me squint a little.

All in all I enjoyed the book. It is written in first person, which is also not my favorite, but it worked out pretty well. The themes in the book are very well done I think, and though it did exube a little Twilight-ness towards the later half it was still a good read. The editing was also very well done, except for the slight oversights I have already mentioned. But there were no spelling errors that I noticed and maybe only once or twice did I come across a double word oopsie, and it did not take away from the book’s story at all. Honestly though, nearly every book I have read from University published textbooks to George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series has had numerous spelling or grammatical errors in it. For this being a self-published book, I thought Sarah Muth did an absolute fantastic job with the editing aspect.

I do recommend this book. I think the Furry culture will find this to be an absolute favorite because it definitely delves into the world of mixed DNA people and it is visually interesting trying to wrap your brain around what these characters look like. And honestly, anyone who doesn’t live underneath a rock can appreciate the very well done racial struggles of the half-breed race in this book. I will read book 2 when it comes out, as the ending of this one did leave my mouth open, and I hope you will also give this book a read.

This book is available on Amazon for $15.99 and $3.00 for Kindle can be purchased through the link below! Please share or comment if you wish!

Vixen: A Fox and Hound Novel

 

 

The Phantom of April, by Heath Frye – Review

The Phantom of April is a 235 page novel written by Heath Frye.  The author’s description reads:

As an Evangelical Christian, Jacob Lumin has it all: a wife, a young daughter, and a promising career as an officer in the Army and part-time youth minister. When adversity strikes and a series of unforeseen tragedies befall him, Jacob begins a personal journey to find answers in a confusing world. From Evangelical Christianity, Wicca, and atheism, Jacob’s journey will take him on a path to truth. Rich in symbolism between the Bible, mythology, and 19th century German philosophy, the result is a discussion that transcends all religions. From Clarion Review: “Jacob is led on a journey of self-discovery and down a path to a truth that transcends any one philosophy. Coupled with his education—he holds two master’s degrees and numerous industrial certifications—the author’s knowledge of foreign cultures is evident in this novel that seeks to illuminate the tension between good and evil. The story is compelling, thought-provoking and meaningful, and would appeal to fans of philosophy and world religion and to readers who like books such as Jonathan Livingston Seagull or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

Right off of the bat, this is a book that typically would not excite my interest.  I am not a very avid Christian book reader.  But because of my new found devotion to self-publishers, I’m beginning to find that reading books outside of my norm is actually very rewarding and eye-opening.  To sum this book up in one sentence, The Phantom of April is a riveting story of a realistic tragedy.  On to my long review.

The book starts out with a short prologue.  We’re following a girl into a book store, her heart is heavy and it is very obvious that she’s just had her heart broken.  Having had my heart broken a time or two before myself, I can really identify with the thoughts of this girl and Heath Frye does a good job of drawing the reader in with this realistic intro.  The rest of the prologue however, is very confusing, and I’m still scratching my head a little about what exactly happened in the rest of it.  There’s a confusing conversation that she has with an old man there that does not make a lot of sense to me, but it’s not enough to dissuade me from continuing on, and actually encourages me to do so.

Chapter one begins with a man named Jacob Lumin.  I am going to sum up his character as best as I can without spoiling anything.  This guy is socially awkward and totally clueless, his philosophy is to do the right thing and happiness will come to him as a result.  Of course, happiness is not that easy as we all know.  He starts out believing wholeheartedly in God and practices his faith very enthusiastically.  Everything he goes through, good and bad, he sees God’s hand at work in his life, and it only serves to strengthen his faith in God, even when he is taken advantage of.  He is in the Army, and he has many friends who do not believe the same as he does, and there are so many conversations in this book between him and non-Christians that are absolutely fantastic.  I found the theology discussions superb.  There are many hard questions and topics regarding the nature of God that every Christian should be able to discuss freely and confidently, but like Jacob Lumin, any devout Christian will find those answers are very complex and difficult to provide an answer to, but no less worthwhile to explore.

As described in the author’s description, tragedy strikes Jacob.  I’m not going to spoil anything because when I read it I was absolutely shocked and I don’t want to take that experience away from anyone.  It’s very rare when I read a book and I don’t have at least a slight inkling of what’s about to happen.  But this is one of those that blew me away.  It really shocked me, and that’s great.  I loved that about this book.  This tragedy leads Jacob Lumin to question everything that he’s ever believed up to this point.  Let me tell you, this is where the discussions about God get really good.  Sadly, this is also where many Christians would stop reading this book, because there are no good explanations for what Jacob is going through, and many Christians might see this as an attack on their faith, rather than something that merits legitimate consideration.  I know that these questions will stump even the most theologically savvy individual, but truthfully, it is absolutely fantastic and worth continuing to read, even if you don’t necessarily agree with everything being said or every conclusion that Jacob Lumin arrives at, it’s definitely worth reading and appreciating the sheer depth and the gravity of the emotions that literally fly off of the page.  Heath Frye nails it.

From this point on, the book kind of goes off in a whole different direction.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but I do feel like I’m reading a different story now, which considering what the character has been though, isn’t surprising.  But it focuses less on theological discussion, and more on the character now.  It’s a few years in the future, Jacob is dealing with his horrible past the way that many people do, by becoming angry at everything, including God, or rather, especially God in Jacob’s case.  Now he is looking for a reason for it all, and this takes him on an exploration into Wicca.  This isn’t a spoiler because the author mentions this in the description.  The author doesn’t go into too much detail about Wicca though, not like he did Christianity in the first half of the book, but there are a lot of coincidences which happen and which fuel Jacob’s journey into the world of Wicca forward.  He meets someone in this later half of the book and the relationship between the two of them is not dissimilar to a relationship I once had myself, and maybe this is what made it difficult for me to read.  Jacob’s behavior in this part of the book made me want to throw it out the window the way Pat Solatano throws Hemingway out the window in the Silver Linings Playbook.  This too though, despite my frustration toward this character, is very realistic and very well done.  Heath Frye, even though I now hate Jacob Lumin just a little bit, nails it again.  The behaviors and the thoughts on the page are very realistic and once again, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  It’s one of those situations where we have an expectation of what the ending has to be, but because of what we’ve read so far, we have no idea if that’s how it’s going to turn out, and at this point, I wasn’t sure I wanted Jacob Lumin to have a happy ending, and I’m not going to tell you if he does or not, because that’s part of why this book is great.

The book ends with an epilogue.  Now we’re back in the book store with the young girl and the old man again, and once again I am confused with their conversation.  The meaning of the book is explained in a very hurried way, and I can’t help feeling that the way I feel after reading this is not the way that I’m supposed to feel.  This epilogue seems very rushed, and I can’t help but wish that there were at least a couple more chapters to explain it in more depth.  I felt like I read an entire book with so many layers all the way through, and the last bit was a small crumb which left me wanting more.

Overall, even though I was slightly underwhelmed by the prologue and the epilogue, I was glued to this book the entire way through.  Everything this character feels is identifiable at some level with everyone, and the conversations the character has with people along the way are riveting and have a very real world application in my mind.  The evolution of Jacob Lumin I believe is a very realistic representation and could literally be anyone’s life.  At every stage I could relate to him, with his emotions, with his thoughts, and with his circumstances, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little.  This is not a fairytale, this is a book about life, and for that reason there is a surprise on almost every page that will keep you hanging on ’til the end.

I really did enjoy this book despite my mixed emotions concerning the character at different parts of the story, and the rushed ending.  The editing was also well done, I don’t recall seeing any misspellings or errors.  I will definitely be keeping my eye out for future works by this author.

I recommend this book to those with an open mind and to those who enjoy reading books full of surprises.  This book is available on Amazon through the link below.

The Phantom of April – Heath Frye

The Eggless Club, by Eugene Saint – Review

The Eggless Club is a 230 page book written by Eugene Saint.  The author description reads:

THE EGGLESS CLUB — The Greatest Adventure of All Time. Ever! They just don’t come any greater. Except for that one thing… If you’ve ever woken up surrounded by strange beasts, gotten beat over a marble, lit your leg on fire, endured a “steamy” beach scene, suffered wounds of unknown reptilian origin, mastered the Slimy Worm technique of ground navigation, and been latched onto by the ghost of Old Lady Johnson – all in one day – then there’s probably little need for you to read this book. To anyone else – follow me. I’ll show you what I mean. Things get pretty interesting after that, but… it’s probably best to start at the beginning…. THE EGGLESS CLUB is a tale of perilous quest — complete with stories fetched along the way. The heartwarming, belly laughing, recounting of the real life adventures of a real kid in a simpler time. A kid about your age… back then.

A friend of mine gave me this book to read almost 3 years ago and I must admit I did not feel compelled to read it until I had this bright idea to start this website.  So, I grabbed this book off of my bookshelf, blew the dust off and began to read it.

The lazy review of this book is:  If you enjoy the Little Rascals, you will love this book.

Here is the in depth review of this book:

This book is about a boy and his friends (The Eggless Club) and their many adventures growing up in the northern region of the United States, back during a time before TV and video games were a child’s only past time, during a time when children actually had to physically interact and speak with their friends, instead of stare at them through pictures on social media and converse via text messages.  The entertainment, the creativity, and just the craziness of each story literally had me laughing out loud as I read through this book.  I am genuinely envious of the fun I read about.  Part of me really wishes that there were some place on this earth just like this, so that my own future kids could grow up there and have a childhood with all the adventure and craziness that these kids had, were forced to have because technology and society had not yet turned into what it is today.  And the other part of me is thankfully glad that it’s a thing of the past only because nearly all of the things these kids did for fun was extremely dangerous.  As a parent, I would probably have a heart attack if my kids did half of what the Eggless Club did.  But I really wish I had grown up with this much fun anyway.

The way the book is written is reminiscent of the way stories are told around a campfire.  Eugene Saint literally tells you the story of his childhood as though he were speaking to you face to face about it, and yet he does it in such a way that I really felt as though I were one of the gang, like I was there experiencing the excitement with them.  The details were so well incorporated that I got the whole picture.  I could see what was happening, and I really appreciated that, and I did feel like I was there having fun with those kids.

Because this describes the childhood of a kid during a time that is so long gone from anything anyone could grow up experiencing today, I really did not know what was going to happen next and it kept me turning pages.  What trouble or crazy thing were they going to try next?  The editing is very well done, there was a word or two that was misspelled, but with the content of the story being so good I really did not care.  It did not take away any of my pleasure from this book.  The book flows well from start to finish.  Eugene Saint paints the picture of the setting in the first few chapters very well, every character has his place.  The many side stories he adds in are riddled with humor and always add a new depth to the current adventure.  It’s like an oreo cookie.  There’s a layer on top and a layer on the bottom, and then creme in the middle with every adventure, and no matter which way you eat it, it’s never disappointing.  Each story and side quest culminates into one big adventure which ties so well together at the end of the book.  This book was absolutely delightful and I highly, highly, highly recommend that you give it a read.  This book is listed on Amazon.com here:

The Eggless Club – Eugene Saint

Coming Soon! The Eggless Club Review

Hey Everyone!  It’s been several days since I posted a review.  I’m currently reading The Eggless Club by Eugene Saint.  So far, this book is great!  I am thoroughly enjoying this work, it’s full of humor, innocence, and intrigue.  I’m sharing my reading time with writing the Isle of Elandia Book 2 and papers for my Master’s degree.  Stay tuned for a full review of this work, it’s coming soon!

Review of The Troubles of Magnet Boy and Other Gloomy Tales

This is a 140 page book of short poems written by Tom Burleigh and illustrated by Kay Dawson. The listing description reads:

A darkly humored selection of charmingly illustrated story poems.

Tom Burleigh and Kay Dawson rain down misery on their oddball characters, and in doing so have created a book that beautifully blends together melancholy and fun; weirdness and wonder; life and death.

 

While I agree with this description, it really does not say enough about how great this book is.  Though it’s 140 pages, I read it in one sit down.  The oddball characters, even though the literal nature of them is quite unlikely, the underlying themes to each of them are very real world and they are something that I believe everyone can relate to in some way, and so as you read through each brief episode you become very connected with these characters. It’s dark, funny, and very well done.  The placement of the episodes throughout is perfect.  The rhyming is fantastic, and I do not recall a moment when I had to reread a sentence because it didn’t flow right with the rest of the poem, which is very rare in my experience with poetry.  It is very easy to understand, unlike a lot of poetry which is almost too abstract to fully grasp, yet it says has so much more meaning behind it than the actual words on the page.

These poems are written to read like a children’s story, but they are definitely not for children in my opinion.  The underlying nature of the stories are a bit too deep and dark for children to understand, but to me this just adds to the brilliance of the work.  Think Dr. Seuss for grownups.  I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys creative stories with deep meaning and exceptional flow.

This book is available on amazon.com for purchase on Kindle only.  I am slightly disappointed that I can not purchase a hard copy of this book to add to my library, but it is worth the read despite.  This listing can be purchased here:

The Troubles of Magnet Boy and Other Gloomy Tales

Check it out, you will definitely not be disappointed.  Thank you for reading!

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