Monday, April 29, 2013

New Web Site!

Hello everyone! This will be my last post on this page. I wanted to direct you all to my brand new web site,! There you can find info, excerpts, reviews, and more, of all my books, as well as links to current giveaways, my newest books, and my newsletter. Thank you for coming to my blog, and I hope you'll join me at my new page. Thank you!

Brian Rowe Books

Friday, March 29, 2013

March Update!

In the middle of this month I started the first revision on my newest young adult novel, The Wedding Videographer! Since the very first book I wrote, Slate, three years ago, I always do the very first revision by hand. I print out all the pages, grab a pen, and just start massacring my baby. What do I mean when I say, massacre?

The Wedding Videographer is my longest first draft since my first book, at 98,500 words, and 100 pages into the revision I've already eliminated 5,000 words... wow! So what's the timeframe for my book? I plan to revise and revise and revise again, all the way to the end of the summer, when I start pitching the novel at conferences and querying agents. 

While I revise The Wedding Videographer, I'm also writing, one chapter a month, a top secret YA project that will be finished in December. It's fun to work on one project really hard for about three weeks, then take a week to focus on something else, just to mix it up a little bit. I'm also looking to write another novel this summer (my first MIDDLE GRADE book!), but we'll see how the revisions go.

Lots of projects coming up... I can't wait to share more news and details about them with you all as 2013 ticks on!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Update!

On Monday, January 10, I started writing a new Young Adult contemporary novel, with a few splashes of fantasy thrown in, titled THE WEDDING VIDEOGRAPHER and I hoped to have the first draft completed by the end of February. I'm happy to report I wrote the last word of the manuscript on Saturday, February 23!

This is my longest first draft since my debut novel Slate three years ago. The first draft of Slate was a whopping 108,000 words (eventually whittled down to 82,000), and all my first drafts since have averaged between 65,000 and 75,000. I knew Wedding Videographer was going to be longer about two weeks in, but I didn't expect it to be this long. The final word count for the first draft? 98,560 words! Whoa!

I'll share with you more info about my newest novel in the coming months, but for now just know that I have completed my tenth book, with (big) revisions to start in the coming days. I'm so excited about my newest project and can't wait to get to work on the second draft!

In other news, my YA novel Over the Rainbow, from last summer, just passed the first round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest, which is very exciting. The first poem I've written in TEN YEARS is currently on submission to poetry journals. Next week I start a new short story, tentatively titled Christmas in March.

And finally... who likes FREE? My YA horror novel The Vampire Underground, the first book in my Grisly High trilogy, is FREE on Amazon! Check it out. The sequels The Zombie Playground and The Monster Apocalypse are now available!!

Download a FREE copy of The Vampire Underground!

Monday, February 25, 2013

What I'm Reading (15)

Since last summer I've been trying to read one book every week. My life gets very busy, but I feel like if I'm going to be a working writer, I need to read just as much as I write. Every Monday I will post here what I'm currently reading, and I'll add the reviews once they become available as well.

This week's book...

When the William C. Morris finalists were announced last December, I snatched up a copy of Love and Other Perishable Items on Amazon. I liked the premise, and I love supporting debut authors. I'm about 60 pages into this one, and it's a lot of fun. Can't wait to see what the story goes!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: In Darkness

I've been following awards season for movies like the obsessive fan I am for two decades now, but I've never paid attention to the literary version of the Oscars, which were announced at the end of January at the midwinter session of ALA... that is, until this year. I watched the reveal of the winner and nominees of this year's Michael L. Printz award live, holding my breath with excitement, wondering if I'd see a familiar title or, better yet, be introduced to new titles I otherwise wouldn't have heard of.

That's what's so great about the Printz award: I find great books I might never have read. As much as I might have loved something great like The Fault in Our Stars to win the Printz award, that book's so damn popular it was never necessary. The Printz award highlights more obscure titles, ones that don't necessarily reach the top of bestseller lists. So of course I was immediately intrigued by this year's winner of the award, In Darkness, by Nick Lake. I'd never heard of it. I'd never heard of the author. I immediately put a hold on the title at the local library, and discovered I had just reserved the ONLY copy available in all of Reno's library system.

After reading the entertaining but pretty fluffy Beautiful Creatures, I was ready to settle down with a more serious, more life-affirming YA read, so the timing of In Darkness couldn't have been better. The writing in this book is pretty striking, and it deals with the kinds of horrors many of us can only imagine in our heads. There are two story lines interweaved throughout the narrative, one in contemporary 2010 Haiti, the other in 17th century France. The first story deals with 15-year-old Shorty, as he deals with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. The second deals with Toussaint L'Ouverture, a Haitian slave who led a revolution. My main issue with the book was that I was always more interested in getting back to Shorty, and his journey, than Toussaint. There's more immediacy to Shorty's struggle to survive, and more danger.

The book actually reminded me a lot of Ship Breaker, which Shaunta and I just read a few weeks ago for our Book of the Month, basically that in each a young boy is put through literal hell. (One moment that describes Shorty finding dead babies in trash cans was so disturbing I had to stop reading for a bit.) In Darkness is not an entertaining read by any means, not a book you kick back with for a half hour of pleasure reading, but it's an important novel, with a harrowing story, and fine, meticulous writing. I'm proud of the Printz award committee for picking a book like this, because now it's going to find more hands and more eyes. And in this case, that's a big plus.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What I'm Reading (14)

Since last summer I've been trying to read one book every week. My life gets very busy, but I feel like if I'm going to be a working writer, I need to read just as much as I write. Every Monday I will post here what I'm currently reading, and I'll add the reviews once they become available as well.

This week's book...

I'm trying to make an effort this year not just to read more YA fiction but to read really brand spanking new YA fiction. I came across Paper Valentine at the library and snatched it up immediately. Neat premise, cool cover, an author who, like me, enjoys a bit of the macabre in her work. Sign me up!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is the first epic gay young adult novel I've ever read. This is a sweeping, beautiful novel, written with great care and honesty and passion. It reads like a big, sweeping John Steinbeck novel—except instead of writing about an Oklahoma family traveling to California, he's writing about a teenage lesbian in rural Montana. At nearly 500 pages, with pages printed in smaller font than usual, no less, this is not a cute little love story you read one day and forget the next. This is the kind of book you get lost in, for long hours at a time. It's really quite something.

I've been eyeing the book for a while now. I tried to reserve it at the library for about three months straight, but it was checked out every single time. When the book (deservedly) was nominated for William C. Morris award, I decided to not be so cheap for once, and bought a copy on Amazon. The more high quality gay young adult reads I can find, the better. Why? Well, I love reading them, first of all. But I'm writing them, too. As a gay author, and as a young adult author, I have yet to write a novel that doesn't include some kind of gay character or subplot, and last summer I wrote my first YA novel with a gay protagonist. Cut to this year, when I'm working on not one but two more novels about gay protagonists. I feel like I'm finally finding my voice, and reading Danforth's book has further inspired me to be better, and try to put as much of myself in the main character as I can.

First, can I note how beautiful the cover is? It's simple but elegant, and is a picture that perfectly embodies the curious Cameron. You open to the first page, and you might find yourself a little daunted by the novel's length, but don't fret: just let Danforth's beautiful prose draw you in. The book is split into three parts. The first and shortest part, introduces us to Cameron when she's in middle school, and when she first starts exploring her sexuality with a friend named Irene. She's also trying to come to terms with her parents' sudden deaths. The second part of the novel — easily my favorite — concerns Cameron's escapades in high school, where she starts a secret relationship with a girl named Coley, who may or may not be gay. The third part, which really swings the whole novel in a different direction, brings Cameron to a de-gaying camp of sorts, when her religious Aunt Ruth discovers the truth about her. Cameron first is disgusted with the religious institution, but settles in when she makes a group of friends, all of whom want out for good.

The book has the occasional mixed media blended in with the prose, one of the most memorable being the pamphlet that goes with the God's Promise program. Here's its motto: "The opposite of the sin of homosexuality is not heterosexuality: it is holiness." Wow. I've heard that these programs still exist even today, but I think Danforth was smart in setting the novel in the early 1990's, when more across-the-board acceptance of gays and lesbian was still years away. The novel I wrote last summer concerns a teenage girl, in the 1990's, whose father discovers she's gay and tries to get her to a camp just like God's Promise. Reading Danforth's book was a strange experience for me in some ways because it was like seeing an alternate take on my own character's universe. Such a coincidence only enhanced the reading experience of this book for me, not hindered it.

I loved so much about The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I loved Cameron's love for movies, and how the gay films of the 80's and early 90's helped educate her in a way to how to properly be with another girl. (The section with Cameron watching The Hunger  is particularly great.) The films she talks about also did a great job setting the time period. I was between seven and nine years old when much of this book takes place, and Danforth captures the period just right (oh, how I miss those VHS tapes). I loved Danforth's descriptions, especially of Cameron's romantic entanglements. I'm a gay male and by the end of this book, I wanted to run out there and find a girl to kiss. Danforth writes kissing so sexy and real, it makes your heart beat faster. I liked the unpredictable twists and turns the story takes, leading Cameron into the lives of various girls (and men!) you might not expect. Also, I appreciated the honesty throughout. And the sometimes explicit prose. This is one of the most adult young adult novels I've ever read, with frank sexuality, profanity, the works. But I'd certainly recommend it to the more mature of young teenagers, especially those who are questioning and need a coming-of-age story like this one. I know during my troubled high school years, a book like The Miseducation of Cameron Post would have done wonders for me, even though it's about a girl, instead of a boy.

I found my interest dwindling a little bit in the last third, partly because I was so involved in the Cameron and Coley relationship that the section on God's Promise at times almost felt like the makings of a different novel. And Danforth at times goes a bit overboard with giant block paragraphs, which sometimes act as information overload to the reader. I think if the book had been edited down a little, even just by 40 or 50 pages, the novel would have really soared. But I found The Miseducation of Cameron Post to be a tremendous reading experience, easily one of the most stunning debut novels I've read in a long time, certainly since John Corey Whaley's Where Things Come Back, from last year. It's important to promote work of this high quality, of this difficult subject matter, of this intelligence and imagination. Emily Danforth is an author to watch, and I can't wait to see what she does next. If you're looking for a great coming-of-age novel, one of the best I've seen in years, check out The Miseducation of Cameron Post. You won't be disappointed!