Friday Finds: Contemporary, Paranormal, LGBT, Dark Themes…A Little of Everything! (October 12, 2012)

FRIDAY FINDS is hosted by Should Be Reading and showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

Some weeks I add several books to my list. I’ll be limiting my Friday Finds posts to 5 books each week. Those that don’t make this week’s list will be on next week’s. So many books, so little time!

The Brothers Bishop by Bart Yates

Goodreads | Amazon

Why I Added It: This was recommended to me by my awesome critique partner because of its similar themes to my WIP, Brotherly Love.  The reviews for this book are spectacular, which makes it very intimidating to me.  I want to read it, but I fear I will be so blown away I’ll want to trash my WIP.


Tommy and Nathan Bishop are as different as two brothers can be. Carefree and careless, Tommy is the golden boy who takes men into his bed with a seductive smile and turns them out just as quickly. No one can resist him – and no one can control him, either. That salient point certainly isn’t lost on his brother. Nathan is all about control. At thirty-one, he is as dark and complicated as Tommy is light and easy, and he is bitter beyond his years. While Tommy left for the excitement of New York City, Nathan has stayed behind, teaching high school English in their provincial hometown, surrounded by the reminders of their ruined family history and the legacy of anger that runs through him like a scar.

Now, Tommy has come home to the family cottage by the sea for the summer, bringing his unstable, sexual powder keg of an entourage – and the distant echoes of his family’s tumultuous past – with him. Tommy and his lover Philip are teetering on the brink of disaster, while their married friends, Camille and Kyle, perfect their steps in a dance of denial, each partner pulling Nathan deeper into the fray. And when one of Nathan’s troubled students, Simon, begins visiting the house, the slow fuse is lit on a highly combustible mix.

During a heady two-week party filled with drunken revelations, bitter jealousies, caustic jabs, and tender reconciliations, Tommy and Nathan will confront the legacy of their twisted family history – the angry, abusive father and the tragic death of their mother – and finally, to the one secret that has shaped their entire lives. It is a summer that will challenge everything Nathan remembers and unravel Tommy’s carefully constructed facade, drawing them both unwittingly into a drama with echoes of the past…one with unforeseen and very dangerous consequences.


Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally

Goodreads | Amazon

Why I Added It: I’ve read Catching Jordan and I have Stealing Parker on my shelf waiting. I love the idea of companion books: seeing minor  or new characters from the same universe have their own story.


Companion to Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker.

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt…with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…


Ever by Jessa Russo

Goodreads | Amazon

Why I Added It: I seem to be on a “girl in love with a dead guy” kick lately, but I like “in love with my best friend” stories also, and this sounds like it might have a love triangle as well.


BOOK ONE in The EVER Trilogy

Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.

Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love.

Some girls lose their minds.

Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.


The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar

Goodreads | Amazon

Why I Added It: Now here’s a different sort of paranormal romance — genies! That alone made me want to read it. Something fresh and new.


He can grant her wishes, but only she can save his life.

Margo McKenna has a plan of attack for everything, from landing the lead in her high school musical to dealing with her increasingly absent parents. But when she finds herself in possession of a genie’s ring and the opportunity to make three wishes, she doesn’t know what to do. Especially since Oliver–not blue-skinned, not bottle-dwelling, but a genie nonetheless–can see more than what she’s willing to show him. With one peek into her mind, he can see the wishes that even Margo herself doesn’t know she wants.

But Oliver comes with more than just mind-reading abilities, a flair for magic, and the prettiest eyes Margo’s ever seen. Someone from his past is hunting him–someone bent on killing him, along with all the other genies in the world, for the sake of honor. And as Margo soon discovers, it will take more than three wishes to save him.

A whole lot more.

Sand & Water by Shae Connor

Goodreads | Amazon

Why I Added It: Straight-to-gay (or maybe he’s bi?) romances intrigue me, plus this reminds me of a fan fiction story I never finished writing, just in a different setting.


Widower John McConnell gets along fine raising his daughter on Georgia’s Tybee Island, though he wouldn’t exactly say he’s happy. Haunted by the memory of his dead wife, John hasn’t considered dating again until he meets Bryan Simmons in the park. It isn’t long before John realizes that what he feels for Bryan could be something real, but how will he know he’s ready to move on?

As John soon discovers, Bryan carries some heavy emotional baggage of his own. With John’s help, Bryan starts to put his demons to rest, and together they lay the foundation for a relationship. It looks like they might finally leave their tragedies behind them-until John takes a misstep that could turn a magical night together into their last.



Road Trip Wednesday: Season Changes

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered.

This Week’s Topic

October!! It is SO fall! How does your writing (place, time, inspiration, etc) change with the seasons?

My Answer

Although I’ve been writing since 2009, it’s only been since May of this year that I’ve been writing seriously and consistently with the intent to publish.  The major change in my writing due to seasons was simply that over the summer, my son was home from school. It meant more time traveling to activities during the day, more time playing referee between him and his sister, more time spent away from home on vacations… In short, less time to write.

Over the summer I took Candace Haven’s Comprehensive Writing class, hoping it would help me get Brotherly Love finished.  I did a lot of thinking about my story. Perhaps too much. I’m still lost in deciding which way the ending should go, and that’s freezing me up from revising any part of it as well.  *sigh*

Now that I think about it, the fall has changed my writing thought process, because NaNoWriMo is coming up. October will be about planning for NaNo…if I can get the Brotherly Love boys out of my head!

Starting a New Project is Hard!

I cannot move on from a fictional character.

Characters have a way of grabbing hold of us, don’t they?

In May, I finished the first draft of my WIP, Brotherly Love, after taking a FastDraft workshop with Candace Havens. And “first draft” is definitely the appropriate term for it:  There’s extraneous scenes, missing scenes, some less-than-stellar writing, and at least three attempts at an ending.

In short, it needs a lot of work. But since then, I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels. I haven’t done much revising yet, mostly just brainstorming. This path or that path? Why does this character have zero flaws? Should that character be a doctor or a minister?

Ahhhh, the questions are never-ending.

NaNo is Coming …

I’m super excited about doing NaNo this year.

Actually, no.

I’m super excited about the idea of doing NaNo this year.

I’m not really sure what I’ll write for NaNo. But I’ve got all of October to figure that out, right?

Before NaNo Comes FastDraft

Yup, I was just insane enough to sign up for another FastDraft workshop right before NaNo.  It starts tomorrow and last week was supposed to be dedicated to preparing for that.

I struggled all week to figure what what I’ll write over the next two weeks.  I struggled to develop new characters and relationships and conflicts.

Why has this been so hard? Usually developing characters is what I’m good at and they come fairly easily to me. But not this time.

The Voices Characters in My Head

A big part of the problem is that I can’t get the two main characters of Brotherly Love out of my head.   I’m always thinking about how I can tweak the plot to raise the stakes, put them into conflict, and tell the story I want to tell.

My book is almost finished, but I'm just not ready to say goodbye to these characters. Maybe if I just read the last chapter really slow...

We’ve all felt this way at one point, right?

They’re my friends. I love them. To start another project feels like abandoning them.

Does that sound crazy? Other writers can probably understand these feelings,  but writers are pretty weird to begin with, huh?

Judging by the number of memes about fictional characters and the way we hold on to them makes me think that readers get it, too.

Either that, or they’re just as crazy as us writers. 😀

Not Abandonment, Just a Break

I have to keep telling myself that I’m not abandoning my boys.  I’m not giving up on them. But I do worry that by the end of November, I’ll be so focused on the new manuscripts that Brotherly Love will fall to the wayside.

I even worry I’ll  forget about my boys.

Then I remember a story I started writing back in 2009 but never finished. I still think about that story. Not every day anymore, but often enough. I even still dream about those characters sometimes. The only reason I haven’t gone back to work on that story is that it’s fan fiction and my focus right now is on writing stories that I can publish.

So no, I won’t forget about my Brotherly Love boys in just a couple months. And yet I worry so much about it, I’m having trouble moving on even though I know I need to take a break.

I just have to keep telling myself that it’s okay.  Everything will be alright.  





Diversity and Segregation on Bookshelves

acceptance, diversity, segregation

Acceptance ……………………. Diversity ………………….. Segregation.
Photos by photogrammy1, on flickr

My husband and I had a conversation about diversity and racism the other day. Our son (8 years old) is one of just a few white kids in his circle of friends, but he doesn’t even notice.

He doesn’t care whether his friends are black, white, indian, or anything else. They’re just … *gasp*… people. I love that our school and community has helped to teach him this, but it’s also lulled me into believing this is true everywhere. I mean, it’s 2012, aren’t we past racism and segregation by now?

Apparently not. Author Coe Booth writes about her experience in her article Separate, Not Equal at CBC Diversity:

I really thought the photo of a teenage boy looking out onto his neighborhood would attract the attention of the audience I had in mind when I was writing the book — teenagers, especially boys, who don’t usually find a book that speaks to them. And I’ve since heard from lots of teens who tell me that it was the cover that initially drew them to the book.

The thing I never imagined was that the cover (and the covers of my subsequent books) might create an automatic ghettoization of my work.

Read more of the article here.

I had no idea that there were separate genres called “Street Lit” and “Urban Fiction”. Why do we even need them? Why wouldn’t these books just be shelved with general Young Adult or Adult fiction?  Here’s the Goodreads description of Tyrell:

Tyrell is a young, African American teen who can’t get a break. He’s living (for now) with his spaced-out mother and little brother in a homeless shelter. His father’s in jail. His girlfriend supports him, but he doesn’t feel good enough for her – and seems to be always on the verge of doing the wrong thing around her. There’s another girl at the homeless shelter who is also after him, although the desires there are complicated. Tyrell feels he needs to score some money to make things better. Will he end up following in his father’s footsteps?

Do the words “African American” really need to automatically put this book in a genre other than Young Adult?  It sounds like this book is about a teenager who is dealing with some family, personal, and romantic struggles while coming to age. Isn’t that what the Young Adult genre is all about?

Race and Sexuality — Not So Different

Usually when I’m thinking about issues like diversity, acceptance, and equality it’s in the context of sexuality because that’s a common component of most of the stories I want to tell.  I hadn’t considered before now that my books, when published, could be shelved under LGBT or Gay/Lesbian fiction.

I really, really hope that doesn’t become the case. The stories I want to tell aren’t because my characters are gay or deal with issues that only someone who is gay would be interested in.  They’re stories about teenagers on their paths to becoming adults who just happen to be gay.  Just like a character just happens to have brown hair. Or is tall. Or short.  My character being gay is part of the story, but it’s not the story.

But most importantly, by separating books into these specialized genres, we’re sending the message that they wouldn’t appeal to the “average” young adult reader. That only “certain readers” would be interested. Well, of course only “certain readers” would be interested — no one person likes all books — but whether the reader is gay or black is not that deciding factor.

Shelving books with characters who are not white or not straight under general young adult fiction would be one small but important step towards normalizing what society considers “different.”

I’m proud of my son for knowing that people are people, regardless of race. As he grows older and sexuality becomes something he’s more aware of, I have confidence it will matter just as much to him, which is to say: not at all because people are people.


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