Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday and Giveaway: You’re Only Young Once

Flashback Friday

Cheers, everyone, and welcome back to another edition of Flashback Friday. This week we’re focusing on young love, first love, all the angst and wonder to be found in Young Adult/New Adult fiction.

The hardest part about choosing our Flashback Friday recommendations is when we get genre-specific because, let’s face it, every single one of us has more than one favorite book in the genres we frequent. In fact, Sammy and Sadonna have selected the same book this week–and again, I’ve read it and couldn’t agree more! In fact, I could have quite literally chosen any one of about a dozen titles this week, so be sure to watch for this category to show up again at a later date. Because young love, it ain’t kid’s play. ;-)

Congratulations to last week’s Flashback Friday winner, Silke, who selected Dani Alexander’s Shattered Glass. An excellent choice it is, too!

And, as always, click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win one of this week’s e-titles.

Good luck!

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TNA_Signature_JulesI’m so happy to be able to shine a spotlight on this book once again for this week’s Flashback Friday. I read and reviewed Gives Light back in January, and loved it so damn much, I just had to choose it for my contribution to our first ‘Fave YA’ books theme. And, in fact, it’s part of a series! So, if you’re like me, and like to get wrapped up in a world for more than one novel, you’re in luck.

Gives Light is the beginning of Skylar St. Clair’s story, and takes us through how he ended up living with his Granny on the Nettlebush Indian Reservation, as well as how he came to be mute, and how he met and fell in love with Rafael Gives Light.

In my review I described the book as “an important piece of literature that is at once a beautiful coming-of-age love story, and also an extremely thoughtful book dealing with several pressing Native American issues,” and I still think that’s a good, albeit a bit simplistic, summation. I was sucked into the story immediately; I couldn’t put it down, in large part due to the author’s fabulous storytelling ability, but mostly because of Sky. Stealing another snippet from my review…my thoughts on Sky:

“In Skylar, Rose Christo has created one of the most positive, loveable, funny, down-to-earth characters I have ever read. Sky’s attitude, wit, and zest for life are unparalleled, especially for someone who has had to overcome so much adversity, perhaps worst of all being the fact that he is mute. He runs at everything head-on, and won’t be brought down. I love him. Plain and simple.”

I know I’m supposed to be convincing you guys to go out and read this book…but, scrolling back through my highlights has made me want to read it again! I love reading YA, but I think even if YA isn’t your first choice, or you aren’t sure if you would like it, you should still add Rose Christo’s Gives Light to your reading list. This book has so much heart, and it’s so smart, and funny, and interesting. I can’t imagine anyone not being glad they gave it a try. If nothing else, I promise you that Skylar St. Clair is a character you won’t soon forget.

Gives light“Skylar is my name, tragically.” Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about. When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona. Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son. And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.

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TNA_Signature_SammyBy far and above the best YA series I have read is John Goode’s Foster High Series. So often I feel YA gets a poor rap—I think sometimes readers feel that because a novel is young adult it may not have the same emotional impact an adult read offers.

Maybe With a Chance of Certainty is a coming of age novel like no other. Its story revolves around Kyle, a battered, oft physically abused seventeen-year-old, who lives with a drunken mother and a fear that someday someone will truly see him, will discover he is gay and will force him out into the light of day that he so adroitly avoids. Enter Brad, baseball hero, god of high school fame, the abused and broken seventeen-year-old who steadfastly hides in the closet until he sees Kyle, really sees him and knows…knows that this is what he has been missing…that this boy is one he likes, maybe, with a chance of certainty.

This book is never glib or self-important but it is humorous and self-aware. This book is never trite or condescending but it does dare to look at the smallest of fears and bring them into the light and it does meet us right at the emotional level where we live, and it says we have the right to live there, to feel as we do.

I want to encourage you to explore the YA genre—so many times I have experienced my own teen years played out on the pages of these wonderfully crafted stories. So, please, take a leap, if you have not already done so and scoop up one of these terrific authors today.

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TNA_Signature_SadonnaThis is a great series and tells the love story of Kyle and Brad over a number of books.  The first few books cover the main characters finishing their senior year of high school.  There is both an M/M series and a YA version of the first three books, so you can take your pick.

Kyle Stilleno and Brad Greymark are high school students in Foster, TX.  Kyle is keeping his head down trying to get out of town without being noticed.  But it turns out that Brad has noticed him.  He’s the star baseball player and he needs help in History so he gets Kyle to tutor him.  But history is not the only thing they study. :)  This series, much like my last Flashblack Friday, really is a beautiful story of the building of a relationship between these two very different guys.  There are lots of rough moments and very typically teenaged angst-filled drama, but so worth the time to savor these books.

Kyle is probably my favorite YA character that I’ve read so far in M/M.  He’s smarter than most of the adults in this series. :)  He’s raised himself, for the most part – his mother is a bit lost in the parenting department.  The opening lines of Maybe with a Chance of Certainty are some of my favorite lines I’ve read ever in any book.  These words I think speak to so many kids on so many levels.

Brad, in many ways, is Kyle’s opposite. He’s high school royalty, comes from a family with some money (although, as we see, that doesn’t guarantee anything except a roof and three squares a day).  His family is dysfunctional as well, but in a different way.  He’s just as lost in some ways at Kyle, but somehow he knows that if he doesn’t go for this, he will regret it for the rest of his life.  Sometimes he acts without thinking things all the way through, and Kyle is his anchor and his touchstone.

There are wonderful secondary characters, realistic and funny dialogue, tragedy that will make your heart ache and truths that will make you want to punch somebody in the throat.  Just brilliantly written and I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves very well-written and emotional stories.

Maybe with a Chance of CertaintyKyle has worked hard at being the invisible student, toiling through high school in the middle of Nowhere, Texas. Brad is the baseball star at Foster High. Both boys are damaged in ways that the rest of the world can’t see. When they bond over a night of history tutoring, Kyle thinks that maybe his life has taken a turn for the not so lonely.

He finds out quickly that the promise of fairy-tale love is a lie when you’re gay and falling for one of the most popular boys in school, and if being different is a sin in high school, then being gay is the biggest sin of all. Now Kyle and Brad need to come to an understanding amidst the scrutiny of their peers or their fledgling relationship will crash and burn before it ever gets off the ground.

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TNA_Signature_CHRISUnintended is one of those rare books that does flashbacks really well. Those flashbacks are what power the story around two of the sweetest boys who unintentionally become friends and then fall in love. This story starts out in the present and goes back to ten years prior. The story shows the start of their relationship ten years in the past, and their lives now as they’re moving into their first house.

While this isn’t a very long story, coming in a just 100 pages, there is a lot of relationship and emotions packed into that space. Both Taylor and Alex are ordinary young men going through the motions of life and end up meeting each other in very normal circumstances. Their relationship, though, is a bit extraordinary because both boys realize almost immediately that they have met someone very special to them. Even though at first they can’t define just how special this person will be in their lives.

I really loved how M.J. O’Shea shows the little things that matter between Taylor and Alex because so many times that’s glossed over in romances. That doesn’t mean they have an easy journey, because they do make some mistakes along the way, including one major one that hurts both of them. It’s how they come out in the end that matters the most, though.

I can’t really tell you how much I enjoyed this book and want others to read it and meet these two awesome characters. Alex will melt your heart, and Taylor will make you want to hug him to death by the end of the story.

**Note:** This titles is available only via Amazon

UnintendedTaylor thought he had everything together. He just got into the college of his choice and all he had to do was coast through the rest of the year, enjoy his friends, and wait for freedom. He hasn’t really participated in the gossip about the mysterious and beautiful new boy who just showed up in school, but he had to admit the guy was intriguing.

Alex was completely lonely. His family moved so often that he’d never had a chance to really fit in anywhere. The new guy in town, gorgeous and rich, he was the object of envy, the subject of stares. But he dreamed of having one real friend in a sea of shallow acquaintances. Somebody who actually knew him, not just what he looked like.

They met by accident, when Taylor stumbled into Alex’s room at a party. It only took them one night to decide they were meant to be best friends, and not much longer after that to realize that they were in love.

Taylor, who’d never been with a boy, was afraid of what would happen when he finally admitted to the world that he was in love with Alex. Alex, who wasn’t willing to be a secret much longer, was afraid that his family would pack up and move again before he had the chance to convince Taylor that their love was worth any pain it might cause when it was brought out in public.

In a sweet and sometimes painful story of true love, Unintended answers the question:

“Would you change who you were to be with the one person you were meant to love?”

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TNA_Signature_JenniferThere are so many amazing YA titles out there right now, especially in the last few years. Beyond that, however, it does get a little difficult. When I first started reading LGBT fiction, there was a dearth of books for teens with gay themes. The books that were out there were good, but they just weren’t enough.

The Twilight Gods by Hayden Thorne hits so much of what is right with the YA genre. It’s historical, it’s touching, and it’s beautifully written. I’ve reviewed it for The Novel Approach before because it’s a rerelease, but the book actually came out in 2009. Honestly, I’m disappointed I hadn’t read it when it first came out, because this book is just phenomenal.

Norris is a sympathetic character. The youngest of four, his family struggles financially. Between his older brother trying to save enough to propose to the girl he loves and his older sisters squabbling every chance they get, and trying to outdo each other on the marriage market, Norris is often forgotten. In fact, he’s so forgotten that he doesn’t even go to school; instead, the family has one of their tenants tutoring Norris with old books that are falling apart. And Norris just wants an education. He wants to learn science so he can properly tinker with things and make them work.

When Norris begins to start seeing shadow people, everything in the book starts to slowly fall into place. New characters emerge and Norris begins his journey that is simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking.

Just writing this review for Flashback Friday makes me want to go back and reread this book! I have no doubt you’ll love it as much as I do!

thetwilightgodsLondon during the Great Exhibition of 1851 is a new world of technological advances, eye-popping inventions, and glimpses of exotic treasures from the East. For fifteen-year-old Norris Woodhead, it’s a time of spectral figures mingling with London’s daily crowds and an old rectory in a far corner of the English countryside — a great house literally caught in time, where answers to curious little mysteries await him.

Confined by his family’s financial woes, Norris suffers a lonely and unsatisfying time till the day he (and only he) notices “shadow-people” in the streets. Then a strange widow appears, rents a vacant room in the house, and takes him under her wing. She becomes his guardian, slowly revealing those shadows’ secrets, Norris’ connection with them, and the life-altering choices he has to face in the end.

The Twilight Gods is a retelling of the Native American folktale, “The Girl Who Married a Ghost.” Set in Victorian England, it’s an alternative perspective on a gay teen’s coming-out process, with Norris’ journey of self-discovery couched in magical and supernatural terms and imagery.

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TNA_Signature_LisaI’m going to start out with a little backstory about this week’s choice.

On August 28, 2012, my mom passed away. For the three weeks she was in the hospital and, ultimately, in hospice care, I was driving three hours round-trip, four to five days a week, to sit at her hospital bedside. To top it off, I’d just lost my sister to cancer five months earlier, I missed my childrens’ first day of school, I missed a lot of time with my own family while taking care of a developmentally disabled brother and a father with dementia—who didn’t understand, and needed frequent reminders, that his wife of 62 years was dying. Suffice to say, the only thing that kept me sane at the time was escaping into books during those long and mind numbing hours sitting and listening to monitors beeping, while wondering when my mom was going to take her final breath.

Now, for the honesty part: I don’t remember much of what I read during this time, but I very much do remember one gorgeous and lyrical Young Adult novel—it resonated so deeply in its beauty and simple truths that during a time when most of what I recall is that the stress was almost too much to bear, I remember this book. The book is Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

On August 14th, I wrote a simple review of this book. I’m going to steal a snippet from that review because, at a time in my life when not much made sense, this book spoke to me. Aristotle and Dante made sense of a universe that’s full of mystery and wonder of so many things yet to discover.

Reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe taught me that there’s such a thing as too much, and that it’s possible for a book to be written sparely and still be full and abundantly powerful.

Ari Mendoza narrates this story, the story of a fifteen year old loner who meets Dante Quintana in the summer of 1987 and is suddenly not so lonely anymore, though he still feels very much alone with his anger and frustration. This is the story of a boy on the verge of evolution and the slow and sometimes painful discovery that being ashamed of how he feels doesn’t make those feelings inevitably shameful.

• I learned that feeling small and insignificant and inadequate doesn’t make it true.
• I learned it’s possible to run away from something and not even realize you’re running or understand exactly what it is you’re running from.
• I learned that feeling sorry for yourself is the quickest path to loneliness.
• I learned silence can be just as powerful and destructive as anger.
• I learned it’s possible to wear the scars of battle without ever going to war.
• I learned that the most crippling scars of war are the ones that live inside of you.
• I learned there’s a difference between feeling real and feeling valid.
• I learned that a face can be the light in an otherwise dark world.
• I learned that it’s possible to love someone more than you think you’re capable of ever bearing.
• I learned that we all are in a constant state of discovering who we are, no matter our age.
• I learned it’s possible to look for something but not know exactly what it is you’re looking for.
• I learned that love is an instinct and is sometimes directed not by what we say but what we do.
• I learned that hiding from yourself is easier than hiding from the people who see you for who you truly are.
• I learned it’s possible to be so near to someone that it’s impossible to see all they mean to you.
• I learned it’s possible to be ashamed and have no idea why.
• I learned that all the mysteries of the universe can be found in a kiss and can be solved just by holding someone’s hand.

I can’t say for sure whether or not this book would be as impactful if I reread it today as it was at that time in my life, but I can say that at the time, it was a book that moved me deeply.

And the cover…the cover is everything.

Aristotle and DanteAristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common.

But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*No residency restrictions apply
*E-book will be delivered in winner’s choice of format (.epub, .mobi, .pdf – dependent upon availability)

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5 Stars, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Goode, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: When I Grow Up by John Goode

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Title: When I Grow Up (Tales from Foster High: Book Eight)

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 284 Pages

At a Glance: John Goode makes it laughably easy to say, “I highly recommend this novel to you.”

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: After graduation, Kyle Stilleno and Brad Graymark move to California to pursue their dreams. But high school sweethearts are called that for a reason, and their love rarely stands up to the test of time. As money, school, sex, and jealousy test their relationship to the breaking point, Kyle and Brad fight to hold on to the love that brought them together.

But when a frantic phone call sends them back to Texas, they discover love and understanding might not be enough this time.

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Review: Holy expletive, Batman, what just happened? Okay, I had to, sorry, but to start a review for this one any other way would just feel wrong! Let me try again. First, if you are a Tales from Foster High series fan, get ready, because, in the immortal words of Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!” Oh dear. All right, before any credibility I have as a reviewer dissolves into some other applicable quote, let me begin to discuss with you When I Grow Up by author John Goode.

I am afraid I must begin by stating that if you have not read this series, this novel will lose quite a bit of its impact without the background story those previous seven novels will provide. I should also mention here that I highly recommend you read Robert Halliwell’s book A Way Back to Then prior to diving into this one so that you are up to speed on what has happened to the character of Robbie, and have met his new boyfriend Sebastian. Finally, if you are looking for a lengthy synopsis on Mr. Goode’s latest gem, you will not find it here, for to give you that would mean giving away too much of a story that you must read and savor.

So, what can I tell you about When I Grow Up? I can relate that the novel picks up with Kyle and Brad as they arrive in California and begin life after high school in a tiny apartment above a family run Chinese restaurant. Kyle is convinced of three things: One, that he will do anything to be successful in his pursuit of a degree from Berkeley. Two, that he is so far out of his league in almost every aspect of his new life that he is doomed to fail. And three, Brad will most assuredly be dumping him for someone else before the week is out. In other words, welcome to Kyle and his ongoing insecurities.

Brad, on the other hand, remains clueless as to why his love for Kyle and his ever impossibly positive outlook about his and Kyle’s future will never be near enough to weather the storm that is about to hit the pair of them. Growing up is one mother of a disturbance for most, but for these boys it will be the near undoing of everything they hope for and love. You will watch as their lives spiral out of control, and just want to leap into the story and shake them both in the hopes they wake up before they destroy each other.

John Goode has this uncanny ability to create stories that have that gloriously scary yet exhilarating feel of being on a runaway roller coaster. You love the ride but pray you survive the end of it. This latest Foster High installment nearly did me in. Every character you love, and some you hate, is in this story. They converge in a town that is still able to destroy a person with its inability to move forward, to see all the dark and nasty secrets that are covered in that sweet home town persona it gives off. Each character has their part to play in supporting Kyle during one of the toughest chapters in his life, and all of them will do whatever it takes to protect one of their own. The problem is that Kyle is nearly beaten by none other than himself. He has used up every get out of jail free card he has with Brad, and there really may be no way to salvage what he has come so very close to destroying on the path to growing up.

So, I offer this advice to you. Read every single word and chapter of this novel; trust me, it is vital you do so. Revel in how this author creates such an imperfect world, peopled with very flawed characters, and reveals through their interactions with each other how much those who society marginalizes can love and support one another. Delight in the idea being offered that while life can be so very hard, it can also contain such impossibly perfect moments that it gives a person the strength to carry on despite the odds being stacked against them. Finally, enjoy every single second that you can visit with these amazing characters once again.

When I Grow Up is told in multiple parts, narrated from the perspective of several characters, and is such a gripping story that you will not be able to put this one aside before hitting the very last page. This author, his writing, his stunning ability to weave a story just gets better each time, never fails to leave me shaking my head at the truth and compassion his novels impart. John Goode makes it laughably easy to say, “I highly recommend this novel to you.”

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You can pre-order When I Grow Up here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, John Goode, Short Story

Review: Save Yourself by John Goode

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SaveYourselfTitle: Save Yourself (A Tales From Foster High Story)

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 35 Pages

At a Glance: Along with emotionally charged storylines that often have more than their fair share of pathos and grit, a John Goode title is nearly always guaranteed to make you think.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Matt Wallace returns to Foster to be with his high school crush, Tyler. They’re finally together, but Tyler’s past is still a mystery to Matt. When the truth comes out, Matt is forced to decide if he can handle learning about what Tyler did, or if he’d be better off to cut ties and run.

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Review: Save Yourself is a sweet snippet for those who follow author John Goode’s Foster High Series. Veering away from the main characters of Kyle and Brad, Mr. Goode focuses this short story on two minor characters in that series, who have been further developed in a former novel, Taking Chances. One of them, Matt Wallace, played a rather significant role in the boys’ life over the course of the series.

A small town is a family in many ways. Some of those ways are life affirming, as when a community rallies around to protect one of its own, but some can be quite negative, especially when it includes grudges long held and secrets that carry such guilt that they threaten to destroy private lives. Matt Wallace carries such a burden and before long, his long-time crush turned new boyfriend will have to see the weight Matt carries and the very real fear that it will destroy their relationship before it ever has a chance to grow.

I have remarked time and again about the strength this author has when it comes to characterization and making his creations leap off the page with such clarity and realism that one could swear they have met those who people his novels in real life. Along with emotionally charged storylines that often have more than their fair share of pathos and grit, a John Goode title is nearly always guaranteed to make you think. His created world is one that pushes you to see just how messed up the real world is, but he also allows for it to be peopled with amazing characters. In allowing for both, this author gives us compelling stories that simply take our breath away and that always extend the hope that we, as a people, can be better than we truly may be.

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You can download Save Yourself for FREE here:

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5 Stars, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, John Goode, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Last Dance With Mary Jane by John Goode

Title: Last Dance With Mary Jane

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 60 Pages

At a Glance: Last Dance With Mary Jane is nothing short of a love letter, trimmed in despair and steeped in pain, but an outpouring of love nonetheless.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: 2nd Edition

Peter was devastated when he lost his love, Shayne, in a car crash. Though he knows nothing will bring Shayne back, Peter takes solace in listening to Shayne’s voice mail, just to hear his voice one last time. He’s not prepared when one night, Shayne answers the phone.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

First Edition published by Silver Publishing, 2012.

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Review: We really rarely get second chances. It would be nice to think that we could, especially when that second chance could come after something so final as death. But, what if it somehow did work out, and life ended up giving us another chance to right something we got so very wrong? Wouldn’t that be worth all the suffering we had to endure, grappling without loss?

Peter has lost his husband. No, he and Shayne were never married but still, after so many years together and all they had been through, surely they could be considered married. But now Shayne is gone, and Peter must live with an emptiness so wide and deep it threatens to drown him every single day. In order to cling to some small piece of Shayne, Peter goes through the torture of calling his cell every day just to hear his dead husband’s voice. Imagine Peter’s shock when Shayne answers the phone.

I would love to tell you that this story has a wildly wonderful happy ever after. But I must refer you to the title and those very stark words “Last Dance”. They are key to this amazing piece of work by author John Goode. This is nothing short of a love letter, trimmed in despair and steeped in pain, but an outpouring of love nonetheless. Narrated by the survivor, Last Dance With Mary Jane is suffused with just a bit of mysticism and layered in a thin coating of the supernatural. What if we were given one more chance to make it right with the person we loved so fiercely? That is the thrust of this remarkably raw and tender story. When you peel away all the reasons for living without the one you love, you are left with nothing to live for unless it is to rectify something you should have done while you still had the chance. Peter is given that opportunity—the one none of us would normally ever have, and when he snatches it up, the story John Goode put to paper becomes an exquisite moment of storytelling you will not want to miss.

Last Dance With Mary Jane is one man’s second chance—his do over, if you will—and it is beautifully written, compelling and tender beyond compare.

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You can buy Last Dance With Mary Jane here:

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5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, John Goode, Reviewed by Sammy, Young Adult

Review: Going the Distance by John Goode

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Title: Going the Distance

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Looking like the perfect all-American boy—tall, handsome, and athletic—makes it easy for Danny Monroe to blend in with the in-crowd of a new high school. It’s a trick he picked up moving with his father from one Marine base to the next. When you aren’t going to be around long, it’s better to give people what they want. And what they want are his quick hands and fast feet on the basketball court. Continue reading

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Harmony Ink Press, John Goode

Interview and Giveaway: Going the Distance by John Goode

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TNA: Hi, John, welcome back. It’s great to have you here with us today. Let’s start with a quick introduction, if you will, to tell readers a bit about yourself.

John: I was born a poor, blac…wait that isn’t me. Hold on. (Checks ID) Oh, I am the writer today. Got it. I am John Goode and I write annoying YA books for a living. Kind of. Well, not a living per se, but not a death either. I write stuff and hope people read it. Kinda. Well, most of the time I do, and then there are times I wish no one would read that cause wow, I really am not fond of what I wrote. Continue reading

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Charlie Cochrane, Gregory Jonathan Scott, Jane Davitt, John Goode, Renae Kaye, Rhys Ford, RJ Scott, Susan Mac Nicol, Talia Carmichael

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

TNA BadgeCheers, everyone, and many thanks for stopping by to see what we have coming up this week at The Novel Approach. 

As we head into this holiday week here in the states, I want to take a moment to say thank you so much for your support of what we do here each day. Without the encouragement of readers, authors, and publishers, we wouldn’t be here.

I also want to extend a special word of gratitude to my team of reviewers: Tina, Jackie, Lynn, Lana, Kim, Sammy, Jules, Kathie, Chris, Rena, and Taz. They are the foundation upon which I’ve been able to build TNA into what it is today, and I’m humbled and honored to work with each and every one of them, so thank you!

And now, here’s what’s on tap in the week ahead.

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MondayCharlie Cochrane kicks off the week today on the Best Corpse for the Job blog tour.

Susan Mac Nicol’s Love You Senseless review blog tour also hits TNA today, with a giveaway

TuesdayGregory Jonathan Scott’s Take to the Sky blog tour stops in with a steamy little excerpt and a giveaway

Talia Carmichael is also here with a guest post on the Best Laid Intentions blog tour

WednesdayRhys Ford is with us today with “State of the Rhys” and a cover reveal of the upcoming DSP Publications release Black Dog Blues

Jane Davitt also makes us a stop on the Lucky Strike blog tour

ThursdayIt’s Thanksgiving Day here in the US, so we’ll give thanks to John Goode for stopping by on his Going the Distance blog tour, with a giveaway

FridayRJ Scott joins us today on her Texas Fall blog tour, with a giveaway

Saturday Renae Kaye is our closing guest this week on her Safe in His Arms blog tour and giveaway

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And that does it for this time. Until next week, happy reading!

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Harmony Ink Press, J.G. Morgan, John Goode

John Goode And J.G. Morgan Stop By On “The Unseen Tempest” Blog Tour, With A Giveaway


TNA: Hello, John and J.G., welcome to The Novel Approach, and thanks for being here with us today. Why don’t we start by having you each tell us a little bit about yourselves, things we don’t know about you: hobbies, interests, shoe size? You know, important stuff.

John: Um, I role play Champions, which is like D&D but superheroes and have been for over twenty years now, I like sci fi, fantasy, anything nerdy and I am there and 10 ½. Wait, what kind of interview is this?

J.G.: I love to drive. Alone. I’ve been cross country (well at least as far as southern Arizona from Western New York) at least 15 times. I take pictures – lots of pictures (I love the digital age). And I read a lot everything from fantasy to geology and paleontology. Oh! Shoe size: 9 ½ (I almost left that out!!! )
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5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, J.G. Morgan, John Goode, Reviewed by Lisa

“The Unseen Tempest” – In Which Our Heroes Run Afoul Of A Sinister Plot


“And thence from Athens turn away our eyes
To seek new friends and stranger companies.” ― William Shakespeare


Title: The Unseen Tempest (Lords of Arcadia: Act Three)

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Kane used to be a normal boy with normal worries. Now he fights alongside his boyfriend, Hawk, and an unlikely group of allies as they attempt to reclaim Hawk’s throne and save the Nine Realms. With time running out, Hawk decides to raise an army against the evil shapeshifter, Puck, and his army of The Dark. The adventurers split up in search of a force that will join their cause and help restore order to the Nine Realms.
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A.J. Corza, Abigail Roux, Angel Martinez, Brad Vance, Cover Reveal, Daisy Harris, David Pratt, GayRomLit, GotYouCovrd, J.G. Morgan, J.P. Barnaby, John Goode, K.C. Wells, Liam Livings, Sneak Peek

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week


Hi, everyone, I hope you’ve all had a great week. In case you missed it, we’ve added another member to the TNA review team, and couldn’t be happier to have Jordan joining our group.

We’ve got another fun-filled week in store for you, more GRL countdown celebrating, more blog tours to host, and more goodies to giveaway, so have a look at what’s coming up in the week ahead.

MondayK.C. Wells kicks off the week on her Dance With Domination Blog Tour and giveaway

TuesdayDaisy Harris is our guest today, and she’s going to do a little Countdown to GRL celebrating with a cheerful look at pantsing, and she’ll also be offering some giveaway goodies

Wednesday – We’ll kick the day off with JP Barnaby and the cover reveal for her upcoming book A Heart for Robbie

Liam Livings also stops in today on his Best Friends Perfect Blog Tour

Abigail Roux offers a deleted scene for her latest Sidewinder novel Cross & Crown

And finally, AJ Corza has today covered with another cover review

ThursdayAngel Martinez is our guest today on the Finn: Endangered Fae Blog Tour

FridayBrad Vance is our guest on the Apollo’s Curse Blog Tour

SaturdayDavid Pratt is our guest on the Looking After Joey Blog Tour

SundayJohn Goode and J.G. Morgan are here to round out the week with an interview about the upcoming third novel in the Arcadia series, The Unseen Tempest

And that rounds out the week ahead. Until next week, happy reading!

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Dreamspinner Press, John Goode, Reviewed by Kim

Kim Recommends You Give A Listen To John Goode’s “Tales From Foster High”


“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Laozi


Title: Tales From Foster High Audiobook

Author: John Goode

Narrator: Michael Stillman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Length: 7 Hours and 17 Minutes

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Kyle Stilleno is the invisible student, toiling through high school in the middle of Nowhere, Texas. Brad Greymark is the baseball star of Foster High. When they bond over their mutual damage during a night of history tutoring, Kyle thinks maybe his life has changed for good. But the promise of fairy-tale love is a lie when you’re gay and falling for the most popular boy in school. A coming of age story in the same vein of John Hughes, Tales from Foster High shows an unflinching vision of the ups and downs of teenage love and what it is like to grow up gay.
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Harmony Ink Press, John Goode, Reviewed by Sammy

151 Days: A Stunning Final Chapter In The Life Of Foster High – Reviewed by Sammy


“If you live your life scared of what other people think, then you will always be miserable.” –John Goode



Title: 151 Days (Tales From Foster High: Book Three)

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count:

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: With just 151 days left until the school year ends, Kyle Stilleno is running out of time to fulfill the promise he made and change Foster, Texas, for the better. But Kyle and his boyfriend, Brad Graymark, have more than just intolerance to deal with. Life, college, love, and sex have a way of distracting them, and they’re realizing Foster is a bigger place than they thought. When someone from their past returns at the worst possible moment, graduation becomes the least of their worries.
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Dreamspinner Press, John Goode

You Don’t Have To Wait 151 Days For Kyle Stilleno and Brad Graymark – John Goode Has Brought Them With Him Today


This tape was sent to The Novel Approach from an address in Foster, Texas. This is a transcript of what is on it.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hi, my name is John Goode and I am a writer.

Now, you say, “Hi, John,” and we talk about writing addiction and how it has affected our lives and…

Wait, this isn’t Writer’s Anonymous? Wow, awkward.

Ok, so this must be the guest post I agreed to do for The Novel Approach in conjunction with 151 Days coming out. Oh well, that makes much more sense. Of course, being a writer I have absolutely no idea on what to write, but that never stopped me before. There has to be something I can write that will be mildly interesting, and I do mean mild.

Ah, I got it, I can ask the boys some questions! When in doubt, force your characters to do the work for you.

John: Hi guys, welcome to the blog.

Kyle: Say what, now?

Brad: Who is this guy?

John: I’m John, the writer. I’m the guy who came up with Foster High.

Brad: You made the high school? What are you, like the mayor or something?

Kyle: You couldn’t have made Foster High, it was made in the 50s, and you’re old but not that old.

John: Getting called old by teenagers never stops being fun. Ok, look guys, I am a guy interviewing you about your life in Foster High, and you’re just going to have to trust me that it’s ok.

Kyle: And why would we do that?

John: I’m a friend of Gayle.

Brad: Oh, then you’re cool.

Kyle: Ask away.

John: Kids. Ok, let’s start with you Kyle, tell me a little about yourself.

Kyle: I’m 18 and I’m gay.

John:

Kyle: That about covers it, seriously.

John: There has to be more.

Kyle: Nope, I’m pretty boring.

John: Ok, let’s try it this way. Brad, tell me about Kyle.

Brad: Jeez, where do I start? Well, he is super smart, like Lex Luthor smart, but he has hair. He thinks he’s invisible to other people and that they don’t notice him, but in fact, a lot of people know him and like him a lot.

Kyle: No they don’t.

Brad: Hush, I’m talking about you. Let’s see, he wants to go to college in California, to the same place that Sam Winchester did…

Kyle: Stanford.

Brad: Right, that place. He likes comic books, video games, and he’s a sex addict.

Kyle: BRAD!

Brad: We just started having sex, and he is, like, crazy for it, no joke.

Kyle: I hate you.

John: Ok, and what do you think Kyle’s best trait is?

Brad: Oh hand’s down, his inability to let an injustice go unheard. Kyle doesn’t care if you’re a saint or a complete asshat, everyone deserves a fair shake to him, and if they don’t get it he is the first person to raise hell.

John: Fair enough. And Kyle, describe Brad for me.

Kyle: Mouthy.

::Brad laughs::

John: Come on, he was only answering a question. Your turn.

Kyle: Fine, Brad is a Disney prince in need of a quest, a rebel without a cause, a hero in need of some faith. He has more going for him than anyone else I know, and he wastes it all on caring about what other people think about him, and sometimes it is frustrating as hell, and sometimes it’s what makes him perfect in my eyes.

Brad:

Kyle: Still think this is a fun game?

Brad: That is like the nicest thing I have ever heard someone say about me.

Kyle: That says more about your old friends than me.

John: Ok, I asked for some questions online from your fans…

Kyle: We have fans?

Brad: I knew sooner or later I’d have some.

::Kyle gives him a withering stare until Brad collapses in laughter::

John: Ok, Will from Facebook asked, “What is your proudest moment of each other?”

Kyle: That’s easy, the moment when Brad stood up and threw his chance to play baseball away for bullying to stop. I had never seen anything so selfless before, because I know how much baseball means to him.

Brad: You never told me that before.

Kyle: You never asked me.

Brad: Well shut my mouth, I guess I didn’t.

John: And Brad?

Brad: There are a lot of times, but the proudest? When we went to state and our families were all having dinner, and Kyle got in my dad’s face. My mom had done that before, but it was mostly because they were in a fight. Kyle did it because he was tired of my dad ragging on me, and he was even a little scared. It was very gangster of him.

John: That’s from the new book.

Kyle: Book?

John: Never mind. Trisha, also from Facebook, asked two questions. One, “What do you guys see in your future together?”

Brad: A ton of sex.

Kyle (nodding): Yeah, his answer.

John: Guys…

Kyle: I just want to get through college, and I want us to be together.

Brad: I want him to get through college too, and being together is nice. Maybe marry him someday.

Kyle: You said what?

Brad: What was her next question?

Kyle: You do not get to change the subject after…

John: Her second question was, “What is your favorite part of the other person?” Can be anything, she said.

Brad: If I say something sexual he’s going to get mad, so I will say his eyes. When he gets mad there is this line that forms between them, and his eyes get like ice…that is the moment I know he is going to go all Pikachu on someone and kill them. I love seeing him get all Xena up.

Kyle: I’m a Pikachu?

Brad (nodding): It’s the blond hair and big eyes. Can’t deny that.

Kyle: I hate everyone.

John: And your favorite part of Brad?

Kyle: If I say nothing, he is going to get all pouty, so I will say his faith in us. He has never once blinked from us being together, even when I did lose it. It’s humbling to know there is someone out there that has that much belief in you.

Brad: You never told me that either.

Kyle: That’s ‘cause you are always too busy making Pokemon jokes.

Brad: Fair enough.

John: Sammy from Facebook…

Kyle: Sammy? Our Sammy?

John: Close enough. She asked Kyle, “Do you think you two will last?”

Kyle:

Brad: Yeah, I’d love to hear this answer too.

Kyle (sighing): Do I think so? No. I think Brad can find a dozen guys better looking than me or more like him or whatever. I think I am boring as hell and that he will just wander off first chance he gets. That is what I think. I know that he would never do that, I know when I look into his eyes there is something there that is so comforting, but terrifying at the same time. I don’t know what that is, but I know I want to know more of it.

John: And Brad?

Brad: Yes.

Kyle:

John: Just yes?

Brad (nodding): Just yes, we will last. Period.

John: She also asked if you guys would ever move back to Foster.

Kyle: No.

Brad: Yes, when Kyle is mayor.

Kyle:

John: Ok then, Lynn asked, “Brad, when you picture your life in ten years, what does it look like?”

Brad: Can I say with jetpacks? Or a lightsaber? Cause that would be wicked cool.

Kyle: This is why I don’t ask him anything.

Brad: Ok, ok. I see myself with Kyle, serving as his media consultant as he readies himself for his senate race. He will be the brains and the power, and I will be the smile and the shine. Together, he will rule the world.

Kyle: Don’t you mean we will?

Brad (looking at Kyle): Baby, this is your world, we are just living in it.

::Kyle blushes::

John: Lisa said, “Guys, Edgar Allan Poe once said, ‘Never to have suffered would never to have been blessed.’ What’s your greatest blessing so far?”

Brad: Um…can you repeat the question?

Kyle: Poe said that. He also said, “Stupidity is a talent for misconception,” which to me says that all of our suffering is caused by people believing the wrong things. Things like some people are lesser than others, that your God is the only God there is, or that things that are different are wrong. I think we are blessed by the fact we have never once thought that way. I was raised with the belief that all people are the same, no matter what they are. I just wish other people understood what that meant.

Brad: I only have one blessing and it’s him. So I think Poe said it best for me by saying “We loved with a love that was more than love.”

::Kyle looks at him stunned::

Brad holds up his phone: What? I can use the internet too.

John: Ok, Debbie asked, “You guys grew up in small town Foster but do you think that things are that much different in other places? How do you think things may have played out in a city like New York? Or Boston? Or a rural community, like a farm in Ohio? In other words – how much of the struggles you went through were due to Foster, and how much are just plain universal?”

Kyle: I think it would have been easier to fade away in a place like Boston or New York, so I would have just drifted through high school and never have met Brad.

Brad: I would have noticed the ninja like hot guy and stalked him relentlessly until he went out with me. Also, if we grew up in Boston I’d have to be a Sox fan, which would have been cool but no way. I could do the Yankees, so that would have been bad.

John: Ok, Chris asked, “What is your guys’ favorite character from Game of Thrones and why?”

Kyle: I’ve never seen the show ‘cause we don’t get HBO, but when I read the books I really felt that Tyrion was like me. Underestimated, always thought of as weaker, but the one that surprised everyone. I always wanted to be like that, the one that no one was ready for.

Brad: You do know you are, right? I mean not the midget thing but everything else, right?

Kyle:

Brad: I haven’t read the books, but I saw it over at a friend’s house, and I thought the horse guy was completely badass. I bet he would be a beast to fight.

Kyle: When did you watch Game of Thrones?

Brad: What? I have a life too, you know.

Kyle: When in the world would you ever sit down…you watched it during a D and D game, didn’t you?

Brad: Be cool, Kyle.

Kyle: Ok, one, his name is Drogo, and two, you do know in the book he dies of an infection, right?

Brad: He had mad skills. He’s a pimp.

John: Ok, let’s move on. Dawn said. “Brad, I cheered for you when you grabbed that bat out of your car and went after that ex-Marine “reverend” who was roughing up Kyle. Well done. Did you see red? Or were you thinking it through?”

Brad: Man, these people know a lot about us. Well thanks, no one touches Kyle while I am around, and I was only thinking one thing at that moment. That if I ever needed to hit a home run, it was as I was swinging at that jackass.

Kyle: That was very cool of you.

Brad: Yeah I know.

Kyle sighs: And this is why I don’t give compliments to him.

John: Mario asks Kyle, “When was the first time Kyle laid eyes on Brad?”

Kyle: Um, around. Next question.

Brad: Oh no, I want to hear an answer to this.

Kyle: It was a small town, we saw each other a lot, what’s the big deal?

Brad: So, you do remember. Ok, come on, spill it Stilleno.

Kyle sighs: Fine it was the summer of freshman year, and I had gone to the community center to get out of the heat and use the pool, and you were there with some friends. Happy?

Brad: Oh no, I know it is more than that, come on.

Kyle: Fine, I saw you get out of the pool, and I had a Fast Times at Ridgemont High moment, except you weren’t Phoebe Cates, and I wasn’t masturbating in a bathroom. Are we done?

Brad: I don’t even remember that day.

Kyle: I do. It was the first time I saw those ridges that guys have by their hips, and I had to wrap myself up with a towel for a while because I thought you looked like a model or something.

::Brad smiles::

Kyle: See? This does nothing but make his ego a million times worse.

Brad: You were in the library wearing a green hoodie concentrating on a book, and your bangs kept falling in your face, and you would blow at them to move them out of the way, and they’d just fall down again. And I wished I could walk over and move them out of the way ‘cause you were way too cute to cover up.

Kyle:

Brad: I didn’t know who you were, but I remember thinking that you were adorable beyond words. Now we’re done.

John: Ok. And Mario also wanted to know if Brad always knew he was gay?

Brad: No, I always knew I was attracted to guys, but I never connected that to being gay. I really thought it was just being horny. I never thought of myself as gay, as in wanting to spend my life with a guy, until I met him.

John: Anything to say to that Kyle?

Kyle: No, I am kinda speechless right now.

John: Moving along, Bev asked Brad if you missed your life as a jock?

Brad: What do you mean “miss”? I still run and lift all the time, and just ‘cause I am not playing baseball professionally doesn’t mean I am not playing. I bet you I find a gay league out there to play with.

John: And Kyle, she asked if you were ever going to find any life on Earth as intelligent as you are?

Kyle: Um, I don’t really think I am all that smart. Everyone has a something they excel at. I am just a guy who is doing the best he can.

Brad: That is what his alien species told him to say if one of us asks him about it. It’s all a front.

John: And the last question, Andrew asked what ever happened to Kyle’s dad?

Kyle: I’d rather not talk about that.

John: Not even a little hint.

Brad: Hey, buddy, back off, he said he doesn’t want to talk about it.

John: Ok, question dropped.

Kyle: We have a question.

Brad: Yeah, roundabout is fair play.

Kyle to Brad: Turnabout.

Brad (looks behind him): What?

Kyle sighs: We have a few questions for you.

John: Shoot.

Kyle: Why write Tales From Foster High?

John: Well, there is an easy answer and a hard one. The easy one is I think it is hard out there for a lot of gay teens growing up, and I wanted Tales to be not only a story they could identify with but a resource they can call on. Every lawsuit that is mentioned, every biblical passage that is debated, all of them are true. I wanted kids to take what they read and to use the knowledge to defend themselves against hatred and bigotry.

Brad: And the hard answer?

John: Growing up I was not a happy kid. I had a hard time with my sexuality and how it was going to affect my place in the world. I kept a lot of things to myself, and I read a lot and never really found myself in any books. I found the scrappy hero who fell in love with the fair maiden, and I found the super cool chick who had two completely different boys chasing her, but I never found myself. There wasn’t a gay character that was just a person and not a stereotype. So I decided to stop whining about the lack of stories I wanted to read and make a couple. These books are not just a gift to the kids out there who need them, they are a gift to sixteen year old me, who would have died to open a book and find someone who looks like them in there.

Kyle: How much of the book is made up, and how much is based on your life?

John: Well, everything that happens in the books happened to someone out there. Every single thing, each action, from Brad getting beat up in the locker room to Riley getting hit by a car, all of these things happened to someone out there. I have had people complain they think that the characters in the books that represent the adults and the school are unbelievable because they don’t do much to help you guys out, but that is honestly how it happened to someone. If you read these books and think it is not that bad for kids today, or that I made it up, then you are sorely in need of an education on the world today. It may not be like that for you, but it is like that out there for most.

Brad: And how much is your life?

John: Well…I wasn’t teased and bashed for being gay when I was in high school. In fact, my friends all assumed I was bi and didn’t care. I remember when I took my best friend aside to tell him I was gay, and he just looked at me and said, “I thought you wanted to tell me something important.” So most of the books come from what I have seen happen to other people I love, and not be able to do anything about it.

Kyle: So, now that this series is done, are we done?

Brad: Yeah man, what happens to us?

John: Well, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to go on with the series, thinking I had said all I wanted to. And I had, in some part, but something happened along the way that rarely happens to me. I got attached to you idiots. So though the books will not be Tales From Foster High, they will be about you two and your journey into college and beyond. I don’t know how many books it will be or how long, but yeah, you guys are coming back.

Brad: Sweet. Told ya he liked us.

Kyle: I guess we’ll see what happens next.

John: We sure will. Anything you guys want to say before we wrap this up?

Brad: Cowboys rule!

Kyle (sighing): The world is a mean place. I think evolution has done something to us that makes us unconsciously adversarial to other people. It is easy to just think about yourself and how you feel, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Life can be so much more if you just realize it is easier when everyone tries to care. If everybody in the world just gave a little bit then everything would change. So I say this to you, I dare you to try more. I challenge you to make the world a better place by just being a better person. Hold the door open more, smile a little longer, and try to think about how the person across from you feels just a couple of more times. Life is not a race, and it is not a game, and we all end up with the same prize at the end, so why not make this whole thing more enjoyable for everyone involved instead of trying to get just what you want?

I bet you’ll find at the end of the day you feel better about life.

Brad: You see this? And he wonders why I am in love with him. Boggles my mind.

John: Thank you, boys, this was fun. We should never do it again.

Kyle: I so agree.

Brad: So there’s no food? I was promised food.

John: Come on, burgers on me.

[[tape ends]]

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A.J. Corza, Brita Addams, Chris T. Kat, Eleanor Bruce, GotYouCovrd, HL Holston, J.P. Barnaby, John Goode, Jordan L. Hawk, Kerry Adrienne, Marie Sexton, Silvia Violet, Sneak Peek, Sue Brown

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week!



Hi, everyone, we’ve got another busy and fun-filled week coming up at The Novel Approach. The lineup is stellar, the guest posts pretty phenomenal, and the giveaways are not to be missed.

Here’s what we’ve got in store for you in the week ahead!

MondaySue Brown is our guest today as we continue the RainbowCon Countdown Celebration, and she’s bringing along a giveaway

TuesdayChris T. Kat stops in on The Wolf and His Diva Blog Tour, and there’ll be a giveaway

Brita Addams is also with us to share an article about Confusing Pairs of Words

WednesdayKerry Adrienne drops by on her Artist’s Touch Blog Tour and she’s bringing a giveaway

John Goode’s 151 Days comes out on March 20, 2014, and we’ve got him and the Foster High boys, Kyle Stilleno and Brad Graymark, here with an exclusive interview

A.J. Corza’s also back today with another installment of Got You Covered

ThursdayJP Barnaby kicks off her Spencer Blog Tour right here at The Novel Approach. We’ll have an exclusive interview with Aaron and Spencer, and Zach and David from Rowan Speedwell’s Finding Zach, and there’s also a giveaway

FridayHL Holston and Eleanor Bruce will be here for the second visit of the week in the RainbowCon Celebration Countdown, and there’ll be a giveaway

Silvia Violet joins us on her Pressure Points Blog Tour, and she’ll be bring a giveaway

Saturday – Today, we’ll have the honor of debuting the cover art for Jordan L. Hawk’s Necropolis, Book Four in the Whyborne & Griffin Series

SundayMarie Sexton closes out our week on her Normal Enough Blog Tour, and she’s offering a giveaway

And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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Guest Contributor, John Goode

John Goode Gets To The Heart Of The Matter In This Final Installment Of His Writing Series


Ok, so here on our last installment I want to go over the part that is the most important part of any story to me personally: the theme. What, at the end of the day, is your message, and how well did your story get that message across? I know you’re thinking, message? What message do I need? I am telling a story, isn’t that message enough?

No.

You see, an amusing or interesting story has as much value as the message it is trying to convey to the reader. The better the message, the longer the impact; the weaker the message, the faster it is forgotten for the next set of words placed in front of that person. As storytellers, we want our stories to keep talking to the reader well after they put the book down and to do that, you need a message, a theme that encompasses everything you just wrote.

To further this point, you need to look at your message and ask yourself, does this scene or character do anything to further that message along, or is it there just to fill up space and to be amusing? There are a lot of things that can happen in a book that make no sense to the overall message and when all is said and done, those moments are the ones the readers are going to look at and go, “Hmmm, what was the point of that?”

In my book Taking Chances, the theme is accepting yourself for who you really are. Not trying to be the person you think you want to be, be the person you need to be. In that measure, Tyler thinks he has to be this uber-straight acting jock type guy who can never let people in on his sexuality or emotions because that doesn’t fit his mindset. Matt thinks he needs to be this stereotypical homosexual, as if there is such a thing, and when he finds he’d rather stay home and watch Disney movies than go to a club, he thinks he is failing himself. Those two characters are pretty straight forward in the message, but there was one person that needed to be in the book to me.

Patrica, the transsexual hairdresser.

She gives what I think is the most important line in the whole book, which is, “And it’s okay. Most people assume I’m dressed as a woman, you know, like I’m in drag. I am not a female impersonator and this is not drag. This is who I am. There is a difference. We are all somebody inside, and most of the time we are too chickenshit to stare that person in the face. I stared into the abyss and when it stared back, it was wearing Revlon photo-ready concealer and cherry blossom lipstick.”

She is not there to give comedy relief, and she was not there to just throw in a gender confused character, which she isn’t. Patrica, not Pat, tells Tyler the moral of the story which is really for the reader, but if you don’t tell them, I won’t. We all have someone inside of us dying to get out, but we don’t let them because of society’s expectations, manners, embarrassment; whatever the reason, we lock them inside and long for the time we can be alone and ourselves.

It’s why we don’t burst out into song in the middle of a work day when you hear a song you like, you don’t tell the woman who you work with that she in an intrusive bitch and should back off, and it is the reason you put up with so much shit from your friends— because it is just impolite to speak the blunt truth most of the time. The book is about people trapped inside themselves and are making themselves miserable. There is no prejudice that does this, no oppressive society making them, it is their own hang-ups, and it is a huge problem at times in the gay community. Because of this, many gay men who read the book loved the message because they had gone through it, while some straight readers found the book tedious because it was stupid people doing stupid things, and they couldn’t figure out why they kept doing them.

Which brings us to the second part of your theme: Who are you talking to?

You cannot please all of the people all of the time. We all know the saying, and it resonates because it is true. And you cannot write a book for every single person in the world because it would just be a jumble of random things that ended up pleasing no one. You have to know who you are trying to talk to and hope the message is so strong that it captures other people as well. When I wrote Foster High, I wrote it for gay teens going through the hell that is high school right now. I didn’t write it for the parents or for straight kids; in my mind, I was trying to talk to sixteen-year-old me and saying everything I needed to hear back then.

It turns out, though, what sixteen-year-old me needed to hear was what a lot of other people still need to hear today. It struck a chord with straight kids, their parents, a lot of people I could never imagine reading a story about two gay teens in North Texas. I like to think it is because high school sucked, sucks, and is still sucking for a lot of people. The picking that happens on gay kids happens to a lot of people for whom the message of the book—which is, do not allow someone else make you miserable—hits home with a lot more than just sixteen year old me.

But I didn’t write it that way.

You can’t allow your desire to get as many readers as possible dilute what you think is your pure message. As a writer, I can only give you one piece of advice that I think is foolproof and can only help your career.

Write unpopular truths.

Do not think just because a subject has always been handled a certain way before that means it is the only way it can be handled. Speak your truth fearlessly, and I assure you people will respond. Your voice, your message, it needs to be as loud and as strong as humanly possible to make a difference. If you think something might offend or upset someone but you know it needs to be said, say it. Say it loud and say it often. There is only one you in the world, and you have to believe first that what you are trying to say will make a difference before anyone else will.

So there it is, my final writing tip to you. Find the message of your book and make sure that each scene, each character is part of a larger machine that exists to move it forward. Don’t be afraid to upset people and never, ever let someone else make you feel that you are anything less than what you are. Do not give them that ability, not a reader, a reviewer, and never yourself.

Remember, the only way your story will have any value to anyone else is if it has value to you first. That is the god’s honest truth, and it can never steer you wrong.

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Dreamspinner Press, John Goode

John Goode cuts directly to the heart of the matter in Dear God!


“God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.” – William Shakespeare



Title: Dear God

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 20

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: A Lost Chapter from End of the Innocence

Confronted by prejudice and looking for a way to fight those using religion against his friend, Kyle Stilleno goes to a local church in search of understanding. His inquiry leads him to surprising conclusions and forces him to reexamine his own beliefs. In this lost chapter from End of the Innocence, the enemy may not be where Kyle expects to find it.

**SPOILER WARNING: Contains spoilers from End of the Innocence**
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Ashlyn Forge, Charlie Cochrane, Deanna Wadsworth, Heidi Cullinan, Huston Piner, John Goode, Jon De'Lisle, Lane Hayes, Sneak Peek

Now, Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week


Hi, everyone, and thanks for stopping in to see what we have in store for you in the week ahead. We’ve got more guest articles, more exclusive interviews, more excerpts and giveaways galore, not to mention another week of reviews ahead, so we hope you’ll come around and take part in all the fun!

Here’s what’s coming up:

MondayLane Hayes will be here on her Better Than Chance Blog Tour, and she’s offering a giveaway.

TuesdayCharlie Cochrane is our guest today on her Awfully Glad Blog Tour, and she’ll have a giveaway.

WednesdayAshlyn Forge drops in on her From Johann to Tannenbaum Blog Tour with an excerpt from the book.

ThursdayHeidi Cullinan has re-released her novel Special Delivery, and she’s stopping by TNA with an exclusive interview and a giveaway of the book.

FridayHuston Piner will be here to discuss his Young Adult novel My Life as a Myth, as well as his upcoming projects, and will be giving away an e-copy of “Myth” to one lucky reader.

John Goode will also be joining us with the next installment in his writing series.

SaturdayJohn De’Lisle, author of the The Dantone Project, is here with an exclusive interview and a giveaway of the book.

SundayDeanna Wadsworth is on tour to promote her novella A Cupid’s Wager, part of Dreamspinner’s Valentine’s anthology, and she’ll have a giveaway too.

And that’s it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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Guest Contributor, John Goode, Uncategorized

This Post Has Been Made Before (And Was Probably Better The First Time Around) by John Goode


I have come bearing bad news if you are a writer or want to be one. I know this will come as a shock to most people, but I am afraid there is just no getting around it. So, here I go.

There are no more… new? Untold? stories in the world.

There! I said it. We can all start praying to Neil Gaiman and offering tributes up to The Bard but I am afraid all the stories in the world have been told, and we are just fresh out of new ones. The cupboard is bare, the balance is zero. And both cupboard and balance are most definitively ex-stories
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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, A.J. Damian, CJane Elliott, Ethan Stone, Guest Contributor, J.P. Barnaby, John Goode, Julie Lynn Hayes, Kingett Reads, Leighton Rose, Nikka Michaels

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week


Happy Sunday, Everyone, I hope it was a great week for all of you. And if not, well, it’s almost over, so there’s that.

Speaking of great weeks, we’ve got another one of those coming up at The Novel Approach—more reviews, more guests, and more giveaways are on tap, so read on to see what’s coming up, and then stay tuned for more chances to win some great prizes!


MondayEthan Stone is with us today. He’s answered a few questions for us and is also offering a giveaway of his book Damaged to one lucky reader.

TuesdayCJane Elliott is our guest as she tours to promote her coming-of-age novel Serpentine Walls.

Wednesday – Author A.J. Damien is here today to introduce herself and tell us a little bit about the erotic fiction she writes.

ThursdayJulie Lynn Hayes is here with a guest article and giveaway of her newest release, When Will I See You Again.

FridayJP Barnaby drops in on her In the Absence of Monsters Blog Tour to talk about love, and she’s also offering a giveaway.

John Goode is also back today with his bi-weekly article in his popular Writing Series.

SaturdayLeighton Rose joins us today on the Back to You Blog Tour, and she’s also offering an e-copy of the book to a lucky winner

SundayNikka Michaels drops in on the Waking Up Wolf Blog Tour, with a guest article and a giveaway.

And Robert Kingett will be back with another installment of Kingett Reads

And that’s it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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Guest Contributor, John Goode

Hello? Whose Line Is It Anyways? – John Goode Knows


Okay. So write me a novel.

No, don’t look at me like that. Go think of completely new characters, complete with back stories, an entire setting, and a fully developed plotline. Stat. I still don’t know what Stat is, but I like saying it. Write me a novel! Stat!

No?

Not sure where to start? Yeah, welcome to the club. So if we can’t just jump into a full-blown novel, let’s look at some baby steps that might head us in the right direction. Baby steps, yup, that’s it!
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Guest Contributor, John Goode

Let’s Have A Little Talk With John Goode


You said what now?

So an acquaintance of mine said on Twitter that he was working on a screenplay and posted a picture of his laptop with it open. Being the nosy inquisitive person I am, I enlarged the picture to read what he had written. Now, I know nothing about the story or the scene in particular, but it was set in an art gallery and the janitor sees a man looking at a painting and asks him if he was liking it.
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Blaine D. Arden, Charley Descoteaux, Eric Arvin, Hayden Thorne, John Goode, Kate Lowell, Sneak Peek, Susan Mac Nicol, Thianna D, Tom Mendicino

And Now, Here’s Our Sneak Peek At The Coming Week!



Boy, have we got a week full of great stuff ahead, even with us taking the day off on Wednesday to spend with our loved ones. We’ve got guests and giveaways galore on tap; plus, as we head into the New Year, we’ve got our lists of Top Reads of 2013 compiled and ready to roll out on December 31st, so be on the lookout for that because there may be prizes involved. :-D

Now, here’s what we’ve got coming up in the week ahead!





Monday – We’ve got a big day today, as we play host not only to Eric Arvin and TJ Klune’s Ghoul’s Gym Blog Tour (with a whole slew of great giveaways), but we also will have author Thianna D with us on her Took My Breath Away Blog Tour and a huge Rafflecopter giveaway.

TuesdayKate Lowell comes calling on her Christmas Goes Analog Blog Tour, and she’s offering a free E-copy of the book to one lucky reader.

WednesdayMerry Christmas! We’re taking today off to spend with family and friends.

ThursdayBlaine D. Arden will be popping in on The Forester II Blog Tour with Storm Moon Press.

FridayHayden Thorne comes back for a visit today with Masks: Rise of the Heroes and a giveaway

John Goode is also popping in for a visit with Part 5 of his writing series: “You Said What Now?”

SaturdayCharley Descoteaux makes a Toy Run and stops in to chat about her Dreamspinner Advent story and the characters who make this Christmas tale so heartwarming.

SundaySusan Mac Nicol is here today on her Worth Keeping Blog Tour, so be sure to stay tuned to find out what she has in store for you.





And that wraps things up for now. Until next time, Merry Christmas and happy reading!

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Guest Contributor, John Goode

John Goode Asks The Question “Where Are We Now?” Good Thing He Also Knows The Answer.


Where are we now?

113013_0101_AndNowHeres1.pngOkay, so we’ve gone over turning an idea into a story. We have looked at how important words can be to describe a scene. Let’s hit on a point some writers don’t think about a lot: the setting. Where and when we are can color a story as much as the characters inside it. Capturing a moment in time is hard, but success in doing this can make an okay premise into something amazing.

So, when we are looking at the setting, the first and most important question we should ask is why? Why does this story need to be in Texas? Or in the 60’s? Or in late nineteenth century London? What exactly about that period and place is important to you or the story? Trust me when I tell you “just because I felt like writing a story in Pacific Northwest” is not a great answer.

Places have soul and meaning. And, and this isn’t immediately obvious but is very important, they have a preexisting backstory with some readers. If you are going to write about the gay scene in Seattle, then do yourself a favor and know something about both the gay scene and the city. If you start to make things up, people will notice. Little things can kill a story. Just one piece of erroneous information can send a reader into doubt so he or she will begin to disbelieve the rest of your story.

Don’t believe me?

What if we had a story set in New York in the seventies. We are talking about the summer of the Son of Sam, a record heat wave, and a massive blackout, along with life from day to day. All these things are imprinted in the collective conscious of the public and surge to the forefront when you start to mention that place and time. Some people might think of early Saturday Night Live, some might remember the looting and riots that took place. Some might remember disco and Studio 54. Whatever the detail may be, most people will have some kind of snapshot of this time.

Let’s say I am writing about a gay man (Jim) who has met another guy (Joe) he likes at a club. He wants to meet him again so he asks him for his number?

In the seventies, what was the proper response?

If Joe was being coy, didn’t want to just give his number out, or wanted to make Jim work for it, what would he have said to him to give him a hint about where his number was? The response no longer has any meaning in this day and age, but back then, Joe would have told Jim he was in The Book.

The Book here is the White Pages of the phone book. Phone book? People back then relied almost completely on The Book (or, in the case of New York City, The Books) when looking for a number. Then Joe could have also told Jim to call information for the number. However, back then using Information involved using switchboard operators who had, at least sometimes, the skill to pull a number out of the air. Information operated more as art than science and more times than not, you found yourself going back to the phone book as your primary source.

Today Joe would have said he was on Facebook or Instagram or might even have given Jim a Tumblr site to look at. Currently, we wouldn’t bother with something as random as an email. Emails were the norm during the late 90s and early 2000s, and most of them would have been an AOL address.

Things like knowing what The Book was may seem almost silly; but in reference to your story, if you are trying to sell a time period, you need to know the details. And the closer to the present you’re writing, the more you’ll have to know and use correctly.

I have friends who are from England, and they have more than once asked me to look over something they wrote to make sure there was no ‘Brit-speak’ in it. In other words, if the story is set on a ranch in Texas, when people are talking, do they sound like they are from Texas? Are they using the right words? Not everyone in Texas has an accent. In fact, most if not all the people I have met in the past decade I have lived here do not have one. They don’t wear cowboy hats, they don’t wear Wranglers and only some own guns. When you are describing the gay scene in Dallas and you have people talking like they are some ignorant hick, I assure you people will notice and they will tune out.

But more important than the little things is the why.

Why am I setting this story in the seventies? Do I want to examine the open era of sex and drugs and compare that time with today? Do I want to show the innocence of the time? Do I want to make a statement about AIDS? If none of those things is true and I just think it’s cool to have a story in the 70s, I might have to ask myself if I just want it there because I know the story by itself is not strong enough to stand without some window dressing.

It’s disheartening to read an entire novel and, at the end, wonder, “Why couldn’t this story have been set in the current day? Treat the era like a character itself, one that has a purpose, a story and its own motivation.

To go back to my imaginary 70s story, if I was to write a story in that time and place, it would be about longing, about a passion that is threatening to overwhelm the main character. Maybe he has been in the closet for his entire life and now in New York, with such a gay scene, he just lets it all out. The story, like the summer of 1977, would build with the heat and the killings and the anger until finally, when everything hit critical mass during the blackout, not only Jim and Joe but the city itself experiences a moment of complete and total disassociation.

Maybe Jim confronts people who used the night and the lack of power as a reason to bash him. Maybe the gay people at the bar he goes to had enough and went outside to fight back. Whatever the climax is, it happens when the power is out. In those hours, where the basic social rules have broken down, force is met with force. In that primal darkness, modern man lashes out exactly as his ancestors did thousands of years ago. The paper thin veneer of culture cracks and the old, hard wired responses emerge.

You see how the city and the events help the story along, not just frame it? The city is the main character: what Jim feels the city feels. His tension tightens and grows as the heat builds and the air becomes more stifling until everything explodes. And, in those hours of darkness, no one knows what happens. You have this whole waking up and realizing what has happened after, the regret, the shame, the sadness, the emotional arc of the character that makes him realize what he was missing or lacking in the whole story.

Why are your characters cowboys? Because they don’t accept conventional life? They don’t want to sit in a cubicle and work forty hours a week. Do they want to live under the sky and work hard and make something of the land? By saying they are a cowboy, are you saying what kind of man they are?

Or are you just saying cowboys are hot?

Trust me, go for both. It makes a better story all around.

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Backlist Book Bump, Cate Ashwood, Charlie Cochet, Erica Pike, Ethan Stone, John Goode, Liam Livings, Lori Toland, Mary Calmes, Sara York, Sneak Peek

And Now, Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week


Happy Sunday, and welcome to another look at what we’ve got on tap for you in the coming week. We’ll have more reviews, including stories in the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar anthology Heartwarming, as well as some other Christmas themed stories. We’ve also got interviews, guest articles, a Backlist Book Bump, and plenty of giveaways in store.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up:

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MondayLiam Livings is our guest today on his Christmas Serendipity Blog Tour and he’ll also have a giveaway of the book

TuesdayMary Calmes will be here with Quade and Roman from Old Loyalty, New Love. They’re doing an interview and offering a giveaway of the book

WednesdayCharlie Cochet kicks off The Heart of Frost Blog Tour right here and, and she’ll also be offering a giveaway at the end of the tour

ThursdaySara York and Ethan Stone will be here on their Transparency Blog Tour and will be offering a giveaway to one lucky reader

FridayCate Ashwood stops by on her Wholehearted (Hope Cove, Book 2) Blog Tour, and she’ll be offering a giveaway

John Goode – Will be here today with “Where Are We Now?” – Part 4 in his guest writing series

SaturdayLori Toland stops in on her Home for the Holidays Blog Tour with an Interview and giveaway

SundayErica Pike is doing a little Backlist Book Bump of A Life Without You and is offering a giveaway of the book

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And that does it for the upcoming week. Until next Sunday, happy reading!

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