A.J. Corza, GotYouCovrd, Harmony Ink Press, J.P. Barnaby, Jamie Mayfield

A.J.’s Got You Covered – This Week’s Pick – “A Broken Kind of Life” by Jamie Mayfield – Cover Art by AngstyG

Don’t you just want to grab this kid, pull him into a hug first, and then shove him behind your back, staving off all his demons with a razor edged machete? You do? Well, then you have been enticed by just a cover. A dark, brooding, emoting-so-loudly-you-can-practically-hear-the-kid’s-thoughts-as-he-thinks-them, fantabulous cover.

A Broken Kind of Life, written by J.P. Barnaby (writing as Jamie Mayfield), art done by AngstyG (whose website, on a side note, I could write odes to ’cause it’s that damn cool), is a novel about a troubled youth battling with his own inner demons and his parents thoughts of having him institutionalized. This is the sort of book that I’m always wickedly conflicted about reading. I’m not an angst fan. I’m not a soppy gooey Mary Sue lover either but angst, well let’s just say, my significant other won’t let me watch Emergency Vets anymore cause I end up in tears by the end every time. Which is odd cause romantic movies? Nothing, nary a quivering lip in sight.

But I digress. The cover. I am so caught out by the look in his eyes, the grim faded colors of his world, and the shockingly bright red of the word broken that just seems to shout, PAIN WITHIN, that I want to read this.

Every week, the wonderful person that is Lisa Horan sends me a folder of book covers. Usually about 10 to 14 on average (so far), and I pick from within. I open the folder and take my first look, usually discounting all but 2 or 3 in the very first few minutes. Then I set it aside for a bit, go have dinner or whatever else, re-watch Sherlock for the umpteenth million time, work on some homework or art and come back to it later. Then I take a closer look. I look at the backgrounds, the colors, the fonts. I try to get a general feel for the book cover. Which one is speaking loudest? Why? That’s what I usually do; this week, not so much. This cover just leapt out at me, drawing my attention from the very first glance.

I can’t really pinpoint a favorite part as I’m enjoying it as a whole picture. I love that the artist used a particularly turbulent looking storm to represent the characters state of mind in a very literal sense. By positioning it in the area we usually equate to our brain being, and over the starkness of the words, it really drives home the loneliness and fear of the character. The splintering of the lightening equates itself to the splintering of the young man’s mind. The position of the character low on the page seems to give off fearfulness, a ducking of a shameful head, but the eyes are peering upwards, perhaps hopeful, perhaps not completely beaten down then.

The font is well fitted as well. A slightly more ragged looking font combined with a very rigid looking font reflects the imbalance of the story as well. The colors are compelling, especially the vivid red which makes the word “Broken” jump out at you. Fonts are tough to get right, believe it or not. I know that for myself, I scroll through a huge list of fonts trying to find the perfect one and sometimes you think you have it, and nope it’s just a teeny tiny bit off. If it doesn’t fit, it really detracts from the cover. If it fits, it enhances it. It’s like putting the final touch on a perfectly frosted cake that you’ve slaved over for hours. One slight misstep can wreak artistic havoc. Luckily for J.P. Barnaby she not only got an artist that knows their way around graphics and artistic vision, but one that is accomplished in choosing the correct fonts as well.

Hopefully I’ve been able to show the simple, grim, beauty of this cover, and have been able to convey my enjoyment of it, dark though it appears to be. It just goes to show that a cover can be beautiful even when it’s understated, such as this one. As well as a good lesson to remember if you’re prone to tossing all sorts of things at a cover and seeing what sticks. That said, however, it is equally vital that you choose interesting pictures if you are going with a more minimalistic approach because honestly, if the pictures are boring, the cover is boring, and people will tend to think that the story is boring as well.

On the subject of covers for this week, that’s all I’ve got.

Have a great day and may the good books be with you!

A.J. – Got You Covered

All thoughts and comments are the reviewers only and not the viewpoints of others. If I’ve made you angry, stepped on any toes, or otherwise ruffled any feathers, I do apologize. This is just for fun, and written in the hopes that it will help fledgling book authors and artists to grow and learn.

Harmony Ink Press, Jamie Mayfield

“A Broken Kind of Life” Is A Beautiful Kind Of Read

“We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That’s what connects us–that we’re all broken, all beautifully imperfect.” ― Emilio Estevez

For the past two years Aaron has been merely existing, floating through his life in a drugged haze. He can’t tolerate anyone’s touch. Not his mother, father or his brothers, the people who love him most, and assuredly, not a stranger’s. You see two years ago while walking home late from debate practice with his best friend Juliette, his whole world was shattered. Not only did his attackers take his best friend from him, but they took his entire existence from him at the same time. Aaron hasn’t felt safe or warm in over two years. He is going through the motions of life mainly just to appease his parents. See, he believes the attack that left him scarred inside and out truly killed him, whether he still draws breath or not.

One night he has a horrible flashback that puts a strain on his family, and that night he overhears his parents talking about putting him in an institution. Aaron knows this would be the worst thing that could happen to him so he decides to try harder to “fake the funk”. Even though he believes he has no future available to him, he decides to appease his mother by enrolling in college. Little did he know he just might find a reason to live again.

Spencer Thomas is a very intelligent young man, but he is one of the loneliest people I have ever seen. Most people his age believe that he is slow witted because of the way he speaks, no one seems to take the time to get to know him. Spencer’s mother was mugged and killed when she was six months pregnant with him. Being born prematurely caused Spencer to be born deaf. His father and his Aunt did the very best they could for Spencer. They learned ASL, taught him ASL, taught him to speak and gave him as much love as they possibly could. Eventually life started to get in the way. His Aunt moved from their hometown of Chicago to California for a job. I believe his father stayed strong as long as he could for Spencer. Eventually his strength gave out. I don’t know if it was because of losing his psychiatric practice or if it was the fact Spencer was finally old enough to take care of himself. Hell, it could have been a combination of both of those things, but whatever the reason his father started turning to alcohol.

The first day of college for Spencer is slightly scared. He finds out that he is going to have to do a project with a partner. Not having any luck in the past with other students, he is apprehensive about teaming up with a stranger. What he didn’t expect was that his partner is no more excited about this than he is. Since Spencer doesn’t like to speak aloud to people and Aaron just can’t handle actual face to face conversations their professor decides they would work perfectly together. After communicating through text messages, IM chats and emails the two young men form a bond. Aaron doesn’t treat Spencer differently because he is deaf, and Spencer seems to accept Aaron’s boundaries about touch. When Aaron takes a chance and goes to Spencer’s house to study, he has a panic attack and Spencer’s dad helps him through the panic attack.

Spencer’s dad is one of the best psychiatrists in his field, and he volunteers to help Aaron free of charge if he allows him to write a paper about the treatment. Instead of drugging Aaron out of his mind, Dr. Thomas teaches Aaron coping techniques. He has him start a personal journal that Aaron turns into a blog, and these treatments seem to be helping Aaron finally start to cope with his life. The other thing that helps Aaron start to heal is his relationship with Spencer. When the two of them finally admit they have feelings for each other, it seems Aaron’s confidence starts growing by leaps and bounds.

When Aaron’s parents find out about Dr. Thomas, they go off the deep end. His mother goes into full protector mode and tries to legally keep him away from Aaron. This action causes Aaron to stand up for himself, and it was wonderful to watch him start to come back to life.

I have to say that A Broken Kind of Life is not as easy book to read. To witness the aftermath of a brutal attack on a lovely sixteen-year- old boy is difficult, especially as a parent myself. To then watch this child barely exist, let alone live, is heartbreaking. When Aaron started to heal, it was like watching the sun come out after a brutal thunderstorm. The first time he touched Spencer was a gift; the first time he let Spencer touch him was a miracle. I think one of the biggest messages I got out of this book is that no matter how bad you have been treated, no matter how much you want to curl up and die, you can’t let that happen. The minute you give up, your abusers win. There is always hope, someone will always be able to see past the scars and be patient enough to wait for you.

I understand that Aaron’s story hasn’t been told in full yet, and I can’t wait to experience the rest of this story. I know he hasn’t completed his healing, but he is well on his way.

I highly recommend this book for adults as well as teens.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy A Broken Kind of Life here:

Harmony Ink Press, Jamie Mayfield, Videos

Jamie Mayfield, And A Reading From “A Broken Kind of Life”, And A Giveaway – What Could Be Better?

With a foreword by Cody Kennedy.

Aaron Downing is broken, barely clinging to the hope that one day, he will be normal again. His life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear, but he perseveres and starts college, determined to move on.

Then Aaron gets assigned to work with Spencer Thomas for his programming project. Aaron doesn’t want Spencer to think he’s a freak, but as he gets to know his new deaf friend, he figures out he doesn’t need to be “normal.” If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough to find his footing again.

Or so Aaron thinks until his parents begin talking about institutionalizing him to give his brothers a more stable life. He searches desperately to find a way to cope or even to fake normalcy. But his new shrink’s instability makes conquering his demons that much more difficult, and his attraction to Spencer threatens to send Aaron spinning out of control.

Adapted as a YA edition of the novel Aaron by J.P. Barnaby.

100% of the author’s royalties are being donated to help homeless LGBT kids find safe shelter.


Jamie is offering one lucky reader the chance to win an E-copy of A Broken Kind of Life! All you have to do is leave a comment right here on this post, and you’re automatically entered to win.

All comments must be received by 11:59pm Pacific time on Sunday, September 8, 2013. The drawing will be conducted on Monday, the 9th, and the winner notified via email for prize delivery.

Good luck!

Harmony Ink Press, Jamie Mayfield

A Little “Determination” Goes A Very Long Way

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” – Hippocrates

In this third and final story in the Waiting for Forever series by Jamie Mayfield, we rejoin the story directly after Brian, Mike, Alex and Leo rescued Jamie from Steven O’Dell. Jamie has been beaten severely and has a serious burn on his abdomen. With the help of his father, via webcam, and his friends, Brian gets Jamie doctored up and helps start his path to healing. Leo even gets in touch with a dealer to get some Oxy to help Jamie with the pain while he heals. Jamie is very worried about what Steven is going to do to his and Brian’s friends but he can’t regret the fact that he is with Brian again.

After about a week at the boardinghouse, Jamie and Brian leave to go to their apartment Brian rented for them. The two young men settle into a routine and seem to be starting a new life together, finally. Once the Oxy that Leo got for Jamie runs out, he starts going through withdraws and Brian and Leo do everything they can to help Jamie, but this is a struggle he is having a tough time winning. Finally, Jamie cannot do it anymore and he goes out to buy drugs. He is successful the first time and the second time. Unfortunately, Steven finds Jamie and Brian through the dealer Jamie bought from, and Brian ends up shot, and Jamie is forcibly taken back with Steven. Jamie stays because he believes Brian died that night and he feels he has nothing to live for. Eventually, Jamie just gives up, he wants to die, but he can’t let Steven do the things he has done to Jamie to anyone else. So, one box of rat poison and one baggie of cocaine later Jamie is ready to end not only his life but Steven’s as well. Luckily, Jamie survives the poison-laced drugs, but Steven doesn’t.

When Jamie wakes in the hospital, he learns that although he is alive, he is not totally unscathed. He will have some short term memory problems, and seizures for the rest of his life. Brian does the best he can for Jamie, but he also tells Jamie that he can only be his friend. Jamie is devastated that he has finally lost Brian. The only good thing to come from everything is Jamie and his father are reunited and working toward getting to know one another again.

This series of books touched me in ways not many other books or series have in a long time. After Jamie goes home with his father, survives detox, starts working the program at NA and gets into college, you can just see his confidence start to grow. I loved watching Jamie go through the maturation process that Brian went through in the second book. Even though it seems Brian left Jamie when Jamie needed him the most, I think it was exactly what Jamie needed. He needed to learn to take care of himself and learn that he has people who care besides Brian. Eventually Brian and Jamie do get back together; I mean really did you even for one second think the author would do that to us?!? But I think the journey Jamie needed to take had to be taken without Brian for a while. Once they come back to one another, they are so much stronger than before and it is just a beautiful thing to witness.

I believe in no uncertain terms that Jamie needed some Jamietime to get his life sorted. He and his father had some heart to heart talks and got so many things out in the open that their relationship is stronger and more honest than it had ever been before.

If you know any LGBT youths or friends of LGBT youths, I think these books are a great read for them. A lot of these kids are told from a very young age that they are sick, wrong and unloved. Not all of these kids are lucky enough to find a Leo or a Mike or an Alex to show them how special they are. If you learn nothing else from these books, I hope at least the message of acceptance gets through. We need to let these kids know every day that someone cares about them and that they are worthy, no matter their past, no matter what they did to survive and no matter where they come from. So, yeah I highly recommend giving these books a read. If you don’t want to read the YA versions there is also an adult version of the series. So in closing I will just say I hope you love Brian and Jamie as much as I do.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Determination (Waiting for Forever, Book 3) here:

Harmony Ink Press, Jamie Mayfield

You Would Do Well To Make This Your “Destiny”

“Where there is love there is life.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

From the very first sentence of this book we see the struggle Brian has with leaving everything he knows behind. He loves his mom and dad, he cares for Adam, but he is IN LOVE with Jamie. So for Brian, he can’t see any other option than going to San Diego to find his Jamie.

I think the one defining moment for Brian was when he realized he was 100 miles from Crayford. No one knows he is gay, no one would have a reason to hate him, belittle him or hurt him simply for being there. He realizes he is starting a new life. It was like his life was starting over and he could do or be anything he wants.

The first part of this book focuses on Brian’s trip across country on the bus. In my opinion Brian grew more in those days than he did in the first 18 years of his life. First, Brian has his moment of realization that he can recreate himself and start fresh in San Diego. Next, Brian saves a young girl that is being assaulted by two men in the restroom at the bus station. That situation makes Brian realize he can protect himself and others. It was great to watch the transformation start in him on that bus trip.

Once Brian arrives in San Diego, a bit of his newly earned self confidence slips when he realizes the idea of San Diego is nothing compared to the reality. There are more people on one city block than Brian has ever seen in one place in his entire life. But he won’t let that stop him from his goals. Find a place to live, get a job, and find Jamie.

After exhausting the want ads, he finds a listing for a room in a gay publication and this is where his life starts to turn around again. Brian meets Leo, and in this man he finds a home. Basically, it is a small room to rent in a boarding house above a bathhouse, but for Brian it is a life saver. In this unlikely place he meets Mike and Emilio. These two men become great friends. They help him look for Jamie, help him find a job and get him to start coming out of his shell.

Of course, when things start looking good a bomb HAS to drop right? Brian loses his job and that means if he can’t find work he will have to go back to Alabama. Faced with this Brian realizes he doesn’t want to leave San Diego, not only so he can find Jamie, but because he has made a life for himself and he just can’t go back. Right when the money is running out Brian is offered a safety net in the form of a job in the porn company Emilio and Mike work for. Faced with the decision of doing porn or going back to Alabama, Brian does what he feels he has to do to stay with his new family. Little did Brian know, that decision finally brings him to Jamie.

The reunion between these two is so emotional and loving it’s like they have never been apart. Except Jamie is being drugged and controlled by Steven O’Dell and has been for the last several months. Jamie tries to protect Brian by pushing him away, but Brian isn’t going to let it happen that easily. Brian and Jamie try to get every second they can together, and they start to get to know one another again and it seems they just keep falling deeper in love. An opportunity to spend an entire week together at a shoot in New Orleans seems like a gift from above. And it is, until Jamie has a freak out and loses it. He runs back to Steven and tries to get Brian out of his system. When confronted by Mike the worst possible thing happens, Steven catches him in a situation that could cost Jamie everything.

This book was such a growing experience for Brian and I cannot wait to see where the next book takes us. I want to see if Jamie can be rescued and if Brian can forgive Jamie for losing faith in him.

If you want some great YA summer reading, grab this series and run with it.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Destiny here:

Harmony Ink Press, Jamie Mayfield

This Review Might Make You Want To Stand Up And Cheer! – Choices by Jamie Mayfield

We here at The Novel Approach are welcoming a very special guest reviewer to the blog today, and we couldn’t be more excited to have her here with us! Please allow me to introduce you to Savannah.

Savannah just so happens to be the daughter of our very own Jackie, so you can see where she gets not only her passion for reading but her budding passion for reviewing as well.

Savannah is twelve-years-old and will be entering the 6th grade in the fall. She likes science and math, and listens mostly to classic and alternative rock, counting AC/DC, Metallica, Black Veil Brides, Imagine Dragons, and Nickleback as a few of her favorite groups.

Sweet Savannah is a member of the generation I like to call the “Difference Makers”, because Jackie and her husband, like so many of us out there, are raising their children to know that Love Is Love, simple as that, and they will be the ones who make a difference going forward.

And now, it is my great pleasure to present to you her review of Jamie Mayfield’s Choices


My thoughts on “Choices” by Jamie Mayfield

The book starts with Brian sitting in church listening to the pastor of Jamie’s church talking about the evils of homosexuality. Brian has started to think of Jamie, his best friend, as more than just his friend. If what the Pastor said was true, then he was going to hell, and he didn’t like that. So after that sermon he decided to not spend so much time with Jamie so maybe his feelings would go away. When Jamie figured out what Brian was doing, he kissed Brian. It turns out that they both felt the same way about each other.

Once they realized that they loved each other they also realized something else. Because they live in a small town with a lot of people that would agree with the pastor, they had to keep it hidden. Jamie gets a girlfriend, Emma. Brian hates this, and he hates seeing them together, but he knows this will keep him and Jamie safe. Brian even went on a couple dates himself. When Brian gets very upset about Emma, Jamie takes him on a date, their first real date. It starts out weird for them, but then it ends nice for them. So they keep up with Jamie dating Emma, and he and Brian spend time together every chance they get.

When Brian turns 17, he and Jamie make love in their tree house on his birthday. The only bad part is they don’t wake up on time Sunday morning, and Jamie’s mother catches them sleeping in each others’ arms, naked. After a talk with the pastor does not work to keep the boys apart she makes Brian stay away and the next thing Brian knows, Jamie is moving away to California. When the boys are saying goodbye Emma sees them and that starts the end of an easy life for Brian. No Jamie, bullying at school, and eventually he ends up nearly dead at the hands of Emma’s brother and his friends.

While recovering from his injuries someone reports Brian’s foster dad for molesting Brian. He is taken away from his foster parents when he needs them the most. After having to do a lot of things that were embarrassing for Brian, and days spent at a group home, he finally got to go home with his foster parents. After he got home his, foster parents told him they got him signed up for martial arts. He had kept up his school work with the help of Mr. Barnes, his art teacher and his friend. The best news for Brian was he was getting adopted. That way no one could take him away again and he would have real parents.

Brian gets a job teaching at the dojo where he studies. He is happy because he can earn money to follow Jamie to California. His parents aren’t happy he is going, but they also understand they can’t stop him. But when he went to work at the dojo he made a new friend, Adam. They did karate together and got to be good friends. Brian found out Adam was gay too and that made him happy to have a friend that could understand all about how Brian felt. Adam got a crush on Brian and Brian liked him, but only as a friend, most of the time. He thought Adam was cute, but Brian was in love with Jamie and always would be.

Brian was confused for a while after that. He hadn’t heard from Jamie since he left. He didn’t know what that meant. So, he applied to college and got in. When he graduated from high school he realized that he had won. He beat all the people that hated him, he beat all the people that didn’t want him to be there. On his 18th birthday, after spending a fun day with Adam, he got a letter that changed everything. He finally heard from Jamie. The letter told him to go on with his life without Jamie. Brian couldn’t do that, he loved him. He decided right then and there college was not going to happen. He was going to California to find his love!

The book ends here and I can’t wait till July for the next one.

Now my mom says I need to tell you what I think about the book. :-)

I love this book because it tells the truth about how mean people can be and how nice they can be. I have been taught to love everyone, even the people that don’t like me. My mom says you can’t hate someone just because they don’t have common sense. It is hard sometimes, but I try to remember that when I get mad. I got mad a lot reading this book. At the beginning of the book it made me mad when the pastor said that being gay is a bad thing and you will go to hell. Mostly because it made Brian feel bad about himself and because it just isn’t true. I got mad at Jamie’s mom for how she treated Brian and Jamie. I got mad at Brad, Emma’s brother, because he hurt Brian. I don’t understand hating someone just because they love someone. The parts of this book that I liked were the good people in Brian’s life. He got a real mom and dad, and that was cool. He had Kyle and Coach Williams. Brian also had Adam. I felt bad for Adam, but I also don’t. I was rooting for Brian and Jamie, so I am kinda glad about how that turned out. I think what was the coolest part of this book is I can understand where Brian is coming from. If I was in love with a boy like Brian was, I would want to be with him no matter what anyone said. It isn’t fair that people tried to keep them apart. I also thought it was good to see Brian get stronger. I think that will help him stay safe and he deserves that.

I think kids should read these books if they are gay or if they are not. For gay kids, they can learn there is always someone that loves them no matter what. For the kids who aren’t gay, well, maybe they could see how bad they hurt people with their words. Even in 5th grade I heard people say “fag” and “homo”. We aren’t allowed to use words like that in my house and now I understand why. Words can hurt as much as hands or fists. So we should be careful how we use them.

Reviewed by: Savannah

You can buy Choices here: