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20,000 Leagues (& Books) Under the Street

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Having now curated and posted photos for Beaufort and Spencer Hill social media accounts, coming up with artsy pictures and a quick caption for books is harder than it looks, so Bookstagram culture is pretty impressive. That’s why when I came across “Books on the Subway” during my first week of working as an intern here, I was immediately intrigued. There are tons of blogs and social media accounts dedicated to people reading, but my personal favorites are the pictures of people reading on the subway. From bringing fake book covers on the subway to get a rise out of the public (one cover read something silly like “How to Hold a Fart In”) to, quite honestly the best, “Hot Dudes Reading” an Instagram dedicated to good-looking men reading on-the-go, there are enough books and steamy pictures to satisfy everyone.

However, a free platform to share the books you are reading is not something you come across on a daily basis, especially through a quirky Instagram. That’s what’s so great about “Books on the Subway.” Started in 2012 by Hollie Fraser in London, originating as “Books on the Underground” and expanding to five other cities around the world, “Books on the Subway” is kind of like a public library. A public library on the metro. A public library on the metro to discover new reads and get so caught up reading you miss your stop.

Hollie and Rosy Kehdi, the originator of the New York City branch, put fun stickers explaining the idea behind the organization on some of their favorite books and leave them on subways all over the city for someone to pick up. It is like a library, a secret santa, and a wonderful surprise all wrapped into one beautiful book that is yours to cherish and read, and then return to a subway station to leave for another unsuspecting victim of good luck. Five to 20 books are left a day on the subways of this crazy metropolis and a photo of the books and their locations are Instagrammed daily.

The Books on the Subway Instagram post from January 16, at the Cortlandt Street station.

As someone who is a self-proclaimed sociologist (which is just my fancy way of saying I am an avid people-watcher) checking out what other people are reading on the subway has turned into a game practically, finding the best books to eventually read. Most of the time I am not-so-subtly trying to peer over a shoulder or twist my head to the perfect angle just to read the title of the book a passenger is enjoying. That is why when people post about books it is so much easier to check out the titles they are reading.

While “Books on the Subway” may just seem like a fun thing to check out if you find a book lying around the dingy floors of a subway station, for me it is a book lover’s dream come true, next to kindle apps and fanfiction. I take the subway at least four times a week and on these long rides on the D train, if I’m not listening to a new podcast, I’m reading. I’m usually reading books for school, which can be fun sometimes, depending on if I understand what is being theorized, but subway rides give me the opportunity to read books that I wouldn’t have time for otherwise. I read for fun, something that I haven’t been able to indulge in for a while now.

Since living here for school, New York City has become something like my own personal library whether reading in coffee shops, the NYPL Rose Room, or on the subway, which has now just gotten a little more interesting. Hopefully, my tbr list will actually be read this semester. Hopefully, I will spot a free subway book some time soon.

This is me on my commute to Beaufort! Or at least this is the book I’m reading right now.

– Amanda, Intern

This is a shared blog post for Spencer Hill Press and Beaufort Books

Making Faces Sneak Peek

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Fern Taylor from Making Faces by Amy Harmon, asks the question in every human heart with her poem,”If God Made All Our Faces .”

In the book, each character has to come to terms at some point with who they are, what they look like, and how that affects their lives.

From a boy with a degenerative muscle disease to a boy who returns from war physically changed, Making Faces will have you looking at beauty in a whole new way.


If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?
Does he make the legs that cannot walk and eyes that cannot see?
Does he curl the hair upon my head ’til it rebels in wild defiance?
Does he close the ears of the deaf man to make him more reliant?

Is the way I look coincidence or just a twist of fate?
If he made me this way, is it okay, to blame him for the things I hate?
For the flaws that seem to worsen every time I see a mirror,
For the ugliness in me, for the loathing and the fear.

Does he sculpt us for his pleasure, for a reason I can’t see?
If God made all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?

– Amy Harmon, Making Faces


Amy Harmon is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of ten novels. Her books are now being published in 12 countries around the globe.

She knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story.

Order Making Faces today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

The Infinite Pile

Friday, January 20th, 2017

I have just started to work here as an intern at Beaufort and this is my first publishing job ever. Being in this environment has made me take stock of books and how they have shaped my life. Ever since I could remember books have been stacked sky high in my household. Growing up I would always see all of these old books around my house. Some books were placed on rickety shelves that were dipping due to the sheer weight of Hemingway and Fitzgerald and others were stacked in strategic places around the house, piles that went all the way up to my chest. At first, the idea of reading these books was daunting. I saw them as unreadable and too complex. But, as I got older and reading became a passion, I tried to read as many books as I could. I became fascinated with these authors on my bookshelves. I learned about new authors and bought more and more books. I collected more books than I could read. But I couldn’t stop sometimes. When I patrolled the aisles of my local book stores I kept finding new books that I wanted to read. It didn’t help that some of my favorite authors would release new books some years.

Reading all of the books I have spread around my house became a task at some points, like homework. It was hard to read my books during college due to the schoolwork I had. So, every break I had, Christmas break, summer break, spring break, Easter break, Presidents weekend, Columbus Day, etc., I tried to read as many books as I could. I became disappointed when I didn’t hit a certain amount of pages some days or didn’t read as many books as I would’ve liked to. I learned that I was sucking the fun out of reading when I looked at it like this. Over this Christmas break I set out to finish a good chunk of books. I made a list of all the books and was ready to check them off. A revolving door of family members came through my house during the break. I also traveled to see others and began working at my internship. All of this hurt my prospects of checking off the books on my list. When I got to my next book on the list, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, I realized that I might not finish by the time the semester starts. I have come to grips with this. Reading shouldn’t be a chore. I should be able to pick up a book and allow it to envelope me. I am going to come back to The Corrections throughout my semester and finish it at my own pace. I am going to pick up other books during this time and start them. I feel like I need to learn to pick up books whenever I have a chance and read any amount, whether it is five pages or a hundred pages. I also feel like I need to put down books that I am not interested in and don’t like. I shouldn’t feel obligated to finish a book; it is just a waste of time. Besides, I may come back to a ditched book and find that past me was an idiot for not liking it. I hope that this new approach will allow me to tackle more books on my reading list and most importantly allow myself to enjoy reading even more.

-Matt, intern at Beaufort Books

This is a shared blog post for Spencer Hill Press and Beaufort Books.

Lesson Learned

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Lesson learned: No winner is predetermined.

“Nobody wins the warm-ups!” one of my gymnastics coaches used to tell (or rather, scold) us when the competition wasn’t going so well. For him, that translated to “you look like a bunch of fools now that the judges are watching.”

Except I’ve found that phrase to mean something else entirely. It’s easy to count yourself out before you’ve begun, to look around the room and think, Wow, everyone here is better than me. Why am I bothering? It’s so easy to let the vestiges of your confidence shrivel.

But you can never truly predict the results.

April, 2008: After sixteen hours in a van, my teammates and I rolled into Greensboro, North Carolina for Nationals. Our presence intimidated exactly no one. Heck, we couldn’t even tie-dye our team shirts correctly; instead of our school’s bold red, they turned out a cheerful peach. Rather than dreams of glory, the team was driven by a common love of gymnastics.

As luck would have it, we’d drawn the same subdivision as Penn State. Earlier in the season, they’d come to our turf and destroyed us, and they sure looked ready to repeat that show as they warmed up at Nationals with superior difficulty and excellent execution. Not only that, but they were up first on floor exercise and we’d follow them.

We knew we had no shot at any kind of a team award, unless there was a special category for “excellence in taking group handstand photos.” However, I had my own secret goal: to qualify to finals. In order to do so, you needed to place in the top three on an event in your subdivision. Floor was my best shot, and I wanted to be in that top three. Badly.

I watched each Penn State routine closely. If someone fell or stumbled, the door might open for me. Instead, the girls hit and hit. And the judges were unimpressed. The scores flashed on the scoreboard. 8.75. 8.80.

The jitters I already had quickly turned to crushing self-doubt. I can’t beat them. Not only was my tumbling weaker, but so were my body parts; I was tumbling on a reconstructed ACL and meniscus, the foot I’d broken last year, and a rib I’d cracked two months before that I hoped was healed (it no longer hurt when I breathed, so that was good, right?). I had no chance against these girls. I was less than, period.

I can’t. I can’t.

I waited for the head judge to signal for me to begin.

I didn’t have the difficult tumbling. That was a fact. I had generally strong execution – that is, giving away no deductions by having straight legs and pointed toes. That would help. I also had one other possible advantage. After difficulty and execution, judges evaluate artistry: the relationship of the choreography to the music, the emotional connection, the extra something that turns heads and makes the routine memorable. I’d always been a performer, and my hope rested in captivating the judges.

As a senior in college, this could well be my final competitive routine. As soon as I saluted and lowered myself into my opening pose, the jitters solidified into steel. No matter what happened – no matter what score the judges threw me –  I was going to put on a hell of a show.

I pantomimed swinging a sword to my Pirates of the Caribbean music, earning whooping cheers from my teammates. I smiled at the judges as I frolicked past them, kicking my legs over my head into an aerial. I landed my final pass, the one that I’d blown out my knee on three years earlier, and threw my head back triumphantly.

By the time I jogged off of the floor, I was exhausted, but smiling. For better or worse, I’d done all I could, and there was something beautifully satisfying in emptying the tank.

Then my score went up: 9.20.

It held through the rest of the subdivision. It wound up being good enough for third place and qualifying to finals.

Good enough, period.


Diana Gallagher’s debut YA novel Lessons in Falling will be published by Spencer Hill Press in early 2017. It is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

Demystifying Publishing (and Finding Sparkly Party Dresses)

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

I think a lot of people are under the impression that a career in the publishing industry means reading literature for hours on end, meeting charming and clever writers, and discovering the next great American novel. Unfortunately, publishing isn’t all sipping fancy lattes and perusing brilliant submissions. Like any job, there are highs and lows. (Lows: spreadsheets. Highs: reading submissions). As an intern with Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press, I am given projects in many areas of the publishing world, so I’m here to give you some insider info on the ups and downs of an internship in this industry.

As an intern in publishing, you will have to power through some duller projects projects wherein Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets will become some of your most familiar friends. At Beaufort and Spencer Hill, I have sifted through binders and spreadsheets to catalogue payments, packed countless boxes, and scanned and re-filed endless contracts. These projects don’t often require a whole lot of creative thought and can be a bit dull, but over the months that I have interned I have been able to see their impact on our office and our authors.

My favorite intern tasks are taking photos for our social media accounts, maintaining the website, and (of course) reviewing submissions. With these projects, I get to flex my creative muscle and see myself making a more direct contribution to our companies: a well-composed photo on instagram, a neater and more effective website, and submissions getting nudged along to our editors.

Although the bulk of my work is less-than-romantic, every project I am given connects to creativity. If I am cataloging payments, that means that people are getting paid to do their dream jobs. If I am packing boxes, that means that our sales teams are able to get books into book stores and into the hands of readers. If I am filing contracts, then we are going to be able to liaise more easily and be more effective in our distribution of all kinds of books.

Aside from interning at Beaufort and Spencer Hill two days a week, I work part-time at a resale clothing store. An intern’s gotta eat, right? At my retail job, there are certainly boring projects: hanging clothes, printing tags for new merchandise sent from corporate, and (ugh) organizing the dreaded purse wall. But, my responsibilities also include buying in clothing from customers looking to sell to us and creating a lot of the store’s visual displays.

As I’ve been gaining confidence in both my position here at Beaufort and Spencer Hill and at my retail job, I’ve been seeing parallels between my creative duties at both workplaces. Buying clothing feels like reviewing submissions. Because I am only an intern here and I am still in training as a buyer at my retail job, my input on submissions and clothing buys is valued, but is only preliminary.  It doesn’t take long for me to figure out how I feel about a submission – sometimes within the first few pages it is clear whether or not I would give a manuscript a thumbs up or down. Things as simple as grammar, spelling, and sentence flow can take a manuscript pretty far. For clothing, grammar is to good condition as sentence flow is to trendiness; it doesn’t take long when looking at a garment to determine if it will sell. Broken zipper? No thank you. Underarm wear? I’m gonna have to pass this one back to you. But oh, a sparkly party dress perfect for New Years Eve? I’d be happy to take that one off of your hands. When reviewing manuscripts, I look for the sparkly party dress of submissions: something compelling that draws me in that is in good enough condition to suggest passing along.

Publishing may not be as romantic a world as is commonly thought, but without doing the work of organizing W-9 forms or scanning contracts, there would be no foundation from which we would be able to build to publishing those eye-catching sparkly party dresses.

—Mallory, intern

*This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

Too Many Books and I Still Need More

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Who doesn’t love books? If you don’t, you’re probably lost. Raise your hand if you have more books than you have time to read or space for. I don’t think I could raise mine any higher.

Where do you get your books? Are you a regular at your local library? Do you love walking around bookstores and running your fingers along the books on the shelf until they stop on something interesting? Do you have an online book shopping addiction? I do. Anytime I hear about a story that sounds captivating, I have to check it out, and for me, that means obsessively clicking “Add to Cart.”

I shop on several different websites. Firstly, Amazon is obviously one of the easiest places to shop for books. If you have Amazon Prime, you get free shipping! If you don’t, just spend at least $25 in books and your shipping cost will be slashed. It’s not a very hard thing to do, believe you me.

Another place I like is BookOutlet. This is actually one of the first places I check for books. Most everything listed is used, but in great condition, and the prices are extremely low! You might even spend more in shipping than on the actual book! Occasionally they’ll list books that are scratched or dented, which is not my favorite option if the book is mostly a cover buy (they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but who really listens?), but it’s a great option if you simply want to read the story. One of my favorite things they offer is SIGNED books! You have to be on your toes, because the good stuff is gone quickly. I have their Twitter updates sent to my phone because they’ll tell you when exciting stuff comes in.

Have you ever heard of a book subscription service? Many of them look different. Book of the Month club sends 1-5 books a month (duh!) and you can chose which ones to get. This is one of the only that I know of where you can choose the book. Most other book subscription boxes send you a surprise book or two, often new releases, sometimes giving you an option to pick the genre. Many will send book merchandise too, creating a specific theme every month. One of my favorites is Owlcrate. In past boxes, I’ve gotten exciting new releases, signed book plates from the author (like a sticker you can put in your book), jewelry, pencil pouches, hats, candles, and even a bath bomb. You never know what you’re going to get and that’s part of the fun! There are other companies that send signed books, such as Fairyloot.

I also get books for free occasionally! Spencer Hill Press has sent me books because I work with them, but I’ve also gotten ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) from authors to review on my blog. This is a little tricky because I don’t want to encourage people to start book blogging solely to get free books. There should be an excitement to contributing to the book community by helping people know whether or not to buy a book. However, it’s definitely a perk, as well as building relationships with authors!

Now that you have all these options to get books, what do you do with them? Like I said, I have more books than I have room for. I tend to stack them around my room as they wait for their turn to be read or have their picture taken for bookstagram. It’s a little chaotic because I never quite remember where I put the book I need. I also identify with Rory Gilmore from the Gilmore Girl’s TV show as I almost NEVER leave my house without a book. Let’s hope I can read faster than I buy them, but who am I kidding? Good luck defeating your TBR list!

— Rebecca

The Trouble With Falling

Friday, October 28th, 2016

As you wait for the judges, feet sweating on the blue mats, you mentally rehearse your routine. You prepare a perky smile for when the judges signal for you to begin. No matter how confident you are, there’s still that whisper in the back of your mind: Don’t fall.

After all, the deduction for falling in gymnastics is formidable: .5. Theoretically, if the rest of your routine is perfect, your maximum score is now a 9.5. If you’re an elite gymnast like Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez, the deduction is a full point. Ouch! (Now McKayla Maroney’s “not impressed” face makes perfect sense.)

Gymnasts aim for perfection, but as the Olympic commentators repeatedly reminded us, the balance beam is only four inches wide. So really, falling at some point is inevitable. Being afraid to fall isn’t unreasonable; sometimes, the aftermath is downright dangerous. Like Savannah, the main character in Lessons in Falling, I landed a tumbling pass and instantly tore my ACL, MCL, and meniscus. Now, as a coach and judge, I see the way a gymnast falls and grabs her arm or clutches her knee, and I can immediately tell she dislocated an elbow or tore a ligament.

Other times, falling is more of an insult to one’s pride than physically painful. It keeps you off of the awards stand when the rest of the meet was going so well. It occurs on a skill you could do in your sleep. Or, worst of all, it happens on the first element of your routine. Now you need to complete your routine knowing you’re already .5 in the hole.

Often, falling leaves you with a choice: you can either give up and go through the motions until you dismount. Or you can attack the next skills with a new fervor, refusing to let that bring you down.

Here’s the thing: I remember the falls the most.

I remember when I lost a skill on beam and got it back in time for Level 8 States. I’ll never forget the time I knocked over my coach during warm-ups as he tried to spot me on bars (sorry, man!). In middle school, I ran too far for my tumbling pass and ended up landing on the wooden gym floor. In college, I crashed on a jump series in my floor routine and dramatically waved my arms around, pretending I’d meant to do it all along.

The best stories, the ones gymnasts bond over and laugh about for years, are not the gold medals but the failures. Perhaps you were so surprised you caught your new release move that you let go of the bar and landed on your butt (been there, fell on that). Maybe, like my high school teammate, you crashed into the vault while your new boyfriend and the rest of the football team looked on.

You lived through it, though. You climbed back on the beam or jumped to the high bar. You continued dancing on floor like nothing had happened. You saw it through to the finish, and at the end of the day, that’s what counts.

And the leotards. You never forget those, either. But that’s a story for another time.


Diana Gallagher’s debut YA novel Lessons in Falling will be published by Spencer Hill Press in early 2017. It is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

NaNoWriMo: The Calm Before the Storm

Friday, October 21st, 2016

NaNoWriMo_2016_WebBanner_ParticipantYou may be looking at my title thinking, “what is this word, is that even English?” In answer, yes and no.  NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month (see what they did there?) and is a non-profit organization that promotes creativity and the arts.  Their main event takes place during the month of November, although they have other, smaller, events like Camp NaNoWriMo in the summer, and more.  During November, their event, which the organization is named after, is more of a challenge.  A fun, yet maddening challenge, that pushes writers to create a 50,000 words draft of their novel.

Ever heard someone say “one day, I’m going to write a novel?”  This challenge is a direct response to that age old statement, which let’s admit, people rarely following through with.  The founders of NaNo felt that this was a travesty and that these writers were denying their true potential.  They want writers to know that they can do it! They have the power and the ability, if they only sit down and actually do it.  Let me repeat that for the people in the back SIT DOWN AND ACTUALLY DO IT.  Just write. Write anything.  Let it flow from within you.

All joking aside, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is really important.  It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, that’s for proofreading and editing down the road.  The key is to have something to edit.

Alright, I think I’ve made my point, you get it, write, write, write.  On to the scary logistics; 50,000 words.  Did you gasp? Raise your eyebrows? Make an incredulous expression?  Well I understand, it’s a lot.  A. Lot.  But that’s the fun of it! If it was easy, it wouldn’t be a challenge right? It has been done successfully by tens of thousands every year.  There are tons of tips and tricks to getting that winning word count.

The daily goal, which is really just 50k divided evenly over 30 days, is 1667 words.  The real challenge is keeping this up through Thanksgiving.  With travel, spending time with loved ones, and of course gorging yourself on turkey and other delicious holiday specials, it really cuts into your writing time.

I, a senior college student and intern at Beaufort Books, have competed 4 times and won twice.  Unfortunately, one year I got sick around the holidays and was down for the count which is yet another threat looming over your keyboard.  Winning and losing doesn’t matter, and the people over at NaNo are very clear that the goal is to end up with a workable manuscript, even a half finished one is better than none at all.  Fifty thousand words, they want you to know, is an arbitrary number, and they have compared it to the average word counts of popular novels.

Adults, students, authors, and more all around the global compete in this challenge to support writing and novelization as a whole.  Through the NaNo website you are able to choose the region where you live so that you can get updates about events in your area, and even see the progress that people around you are making.  NaNo doesn’t have to a solo adventure.  Each region has liaisons, people who organize events like meet-ups and write-ins, where groups of NaNo-ers pile into a Panera or library, and write in comfortable companionship.  The website also has forums where there are all sorts of topics up for discussion, from tips and strategies, to coffee and tea, and wacky plot twists and dares, tons of fun things to keep you and your novel going.

For more information check them out on their website, where if you are so inclined, you can join me and many others as we write ‘til we drop next month!

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-Madeline, intern Beaufort Books

This post is shared between Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press and can be found on their various blogs.

Why Do I Write?

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Why do I write? People ask me that as though I actually have a choice. I don’t. Not writing isn’t even an option because writing is something I love to do. It’s a part of me. I often joke that I have voices in my head, bit it isn’t really a joke. It’s true. Every single day characters scream at me to tell their stories, some louder than others, and often times those are the ones I write first.

But, okay, really, why do I write? I mean I have so much going on already, right? I work full time as a family Nurse Practitioner, I have three children, a husband, a home … I’m a busy girl. Writing keeps me sane. It’s how I relax at the end of a crazy busy day. Some people go fishing, others read a book (which I sometimes do), I write. I purge the voices from my head, releasing all the emotion and stress from the day into my stories.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when my life becomes overwhelming and I have to choose between getting a few hours of sleep or writing, and I choose sleep. Because let’s face it, I have to function. But more often than not, I choose to write because it’s who I am.

I am a …

Mother
Wife
Daughter
Sister
Friend
Nurse practitioner
Housekeeper
Chef
Chauffer
Tutor
Coach

The list is endless … but my favorite parts of the list are the last two things …

I am a writer
I am an author

And it’s my writing that keeps everything else in balance.


KL Grayson is a USA Today bestselling author. She is coauthor with BT Urruela of A Lover’s Lament.

Archetypes in Middle Grade and Teen Literature

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Recently, I had the pleasure of spending two days hanging out with seventh graders. The English department at Cheyenne Mountain Junior High (Go Thunderbirds!) had contacted me and asked if I would be interested in talking about literary archetypes in teen literature with their students as part of their unit on literary elements and characteristics (the Colorado Academic Standards/Common Core State Standards for Reading: Standards 2.1, 2.3, and 3.1, if you want to know).

Are you kidding? A chance to hang out with the age group for whom I write? To talk about reading and writing and favorite books? To chat with future authors during break about the struggles and joys of writing? An opportunity to use my Lord of the Rings lunch box that comes with its own matching Thermos?

Yeah. I couldn’t say yes in fast enough.

First of all: What is an archetype? To paraphrase several Jungian experts: An archetype is a constantly recurring or repeating symbol or motif that represents universal patterns of human nature. It is NOT a stereotype (which takes a general type of person and oversimplifies their qualities into predictable or clichéd types).

The psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung, used the concept of archetype in his theory of the human psyche. He believed that universal, mythic characters—archetypes—reside within the collective unconscious of people.

Male Archetypes:

Warrior

  • Brave, honorable, self-controlled, with moral and physical courage
  • Takes responsibility for actions, magnanimous to defeated rivals
  • One of the strongest symbols used in the opposition of evil
  • Example: Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

Pilgrim

  • Searcher, wanderer, full of hope, faith, need to improve life, wanderlust, a soaring spirit
  • Must give up comforts of familiarity to find that which he seeks
  • Adolescence is a metaphor for a pilgrimage
  • Example: Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

Wildman

  • Lustiness, unpredictability, independence
  • Oneness with nature
  • Can evoke host of negative images
  • Example: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Lover

  • Caring, giving, deeply empathic, sensitive to pain and joy
  • Primal energy and passion, and appetite for all human hungers such as for food, well-being, reproduction, creativity, and meaning
  • Example: Larry and the Meaning of Life by Janet Tashjian

Patriarch

  • Responsibility, firm correction, moral principles, care, nobility, self-sacrifice
  • But also a sense of fun
  • Most “father-like”
  • Example: London Calling by Edward Bloor

Healer

  • Mystical, spiritual
  • Bringer of wholeness to people and societies
  • Cures the physical, emotional, spiritual illnesses of the tribe/society
  • Example: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Magician

  • Intuition and cleverness
  • Use of right brain
  • Connected to their subconscious
  • Example: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

King

  • Greatness, trustworthy, wise
  • Inspires excellence in others
  • Composed in the face of danger
  • Able to make difficult decisions
  • Example: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Prophet

  • Spiritual figure who battles falsehoods
  • Truthbringer, even if a painful truth
  • Full of spiritual virility
  • Example: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Trickster

  • Impish side of the masculine spirit
  • Often satirical, funny, irreverent
  • “Snarky”
  • Example: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Female Archetypes:

Maiden-Mother-Crone (the essence of the feminine changes through time)

  • Innocence and purity (Maiden)
  • Nurturing maternity (Mother)
  • Wisdom and collected knowledge (Crone or Wise Elder)
  • Example: Searching for Silverheels by Jeannie Mobley

The Innocent

  • The naive, wide-eyed traditionalist
  • Eternally optimistic, faith based, saint-like
  • Yearns to do the right thing
  • The nice girl-next-door
  • Example: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Waif/Orphan

  • A “regular girl,” often working class, desires to belong and be loved
  • Typically down to earth with solid morals and empathy
  • Striving to fit in/find her place in the world
  • Example: One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Spunky kid/Jester

  • An optimist at heart, finding levity and laughter in heavy situations
  • Cheerful, loyal and likable
  • Her life’s strategy is to find playfulness in all things
  • Gets into scrapes, but gets herself back out
  • Example: All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Seductress

  • Uses feminine knowledge and feminine sexuality/sensuality as a tool to achieve a goal
  • Can be viewed as either a positive or a negative
  • Example: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Librarian

  • Seekers of truth and knowledge, self-reflective
  • The “quiet reader girl”
  • Often academics, philosophers, or teachers
  • Values the intellectual world over the physical world
  • Example: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Rebel

  • Often thought of as the “bad girl” or trouble-maker
  • She is also the one that brings change to a society, for good or for bad
  • Willing to take risks and stand apart from society
  • Thinks outside of the box
  • Example: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Nurturer/Creator

  • Desiring to save, protect and feed
  • Puts everyone else’s needs before their own
  • Believe in compassion and generosity, while also making themselves the martyr
  • Altruistic, protective and supportive
  • Example: The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Now, please keep in mind that there is no hard and fast rule about the number or types of male and female archetypes. Some archetypes, too, can be both male and female: magician, pilgrim, warrior, and ruler. And, certainly, many characters will be a blend of several types. But, no matter how they are use, these universal motifs can be a powerful tool for writers.


Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter.  A native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy writing for children, teens, and adults. Darby has recently been chosen as one of nine Mentors for the SCBWI-Rocky Mountain Chapter’s 2016/2017 Michelle Begley Mentor Program. She will be working one-on-one with an aspiring MG or YA writer for 6 months starting in January. Darby is represented by Amanda Rutter at Red Sofa Literary.

 Website | Blog

Purchase Darby’s newest book in the Finn Finnegan series, Finn’s Choice.

Reclaimed by Sarah Guillory

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

“October had tremendous possibility. The summer’s oppressive heat was a distant memory, and the golden leaves promised a world full of beautiful adventures. They made me believe in miracles.” Reclaimed, Sarah Guillory


Fall is my favorite time of year, and October, my favorite month. Living in south Louisiana, October is the first month we can take a deep breath and shrug off the oppressive humidity. It means football season and bonfires and boots, and if we’re really lucky, we’ll get a little gumbo weather.

It’s also my birthday month, and I haven’t yet lost the excitement of being another year older. I garner those years like a well-earned treasure because they’ve brought me adventures and experience and hopefully, a little wisdom.

October was also the release month of Reclaimed, my debut, the physical embodiment of the dream I’d had since I was a child. I’d wanted to be an author for as long as I could remember, but at a very young age had convinced myself that I wasn’t talented enough. Reclaimed’s release proved that, while I might not be talented enough, I am indeed stubborn enough. My debut came about through nothing less than old-fashioned hard work.

It makes me so happy to see how many people have responded to Reclaimed’s opening lines. I spent much time writing, rewriting, and revising those lines, and there’s nothing better than seeing my words paired with my favorite month, a sort of “Welcome to Fall” sign just for me.

I hope your October is tremendous. There truly is so much possibility in the world–if we want something enough, if we commit ourselves to believing in ourselves long enough to put in the hard work. October embodies all of that for me. That in change, like the shift that brings crisp mornings and vibrant foliage, there is beauty. That no matter your age, there are plenty of adventures still to be had. That over time, we can gain wisdom. And that, no matter what, I will always believe in miracles.

— Sarah Guillory


Reclaimed Book Trailer created by Skye Norwood

Reclaimed’s Solitude Point Trailer created by Skye Norwood

New Here

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

I’m new here. “Here” as in Beaufort Books/Spencer Hill Press/Midpoint Trade Books, but also “here” as in New York City. Aside from a term abroad in London, I have never lived in a big city—I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, attended college in Upstate New York, and now have landed myself in one of the biggest cities in the world, with only Google Maps and my phone’s battery life standing between myself and the tangled maze of subway lines and subterranean architecture that is my commute.

As you can probably understand, I found the subway system to be very overwhelming. The sounds, the smells, the rush hour crowding, and the awkward eye contact with and uncomfortably close proximity to large businessmen did nothing to calm my small-town nerves. On one of my worst days, I lost my balance on the 5 train and fell into the laps of a very surprised and less-than-pleased older couple. In my short time commuting I have also: taken the A train in the wrong direction for several stops, apologized to a garbage bag for stepping on it, and sat in mystery subway juice. Delicious.

Despite my rocky start, I have slowly been settling in to the public transportation life. My advice to fellow newcomers: arm yourself with a pair of headphones and carry at least one good book with you at all times. I’ve been able to find oases in subway seats, reading poetry and listening to my favorite songs. I’ve also found the courage to journal in public, though I usually reserve that for when I don’t feel like I have a car full of people looking over my shoulder.

Although I do want to untangle my mental map of the city and leave my nerves behind, I hope that I retain my small-town sense of wonder as I make the transition from baby Brooklynite to savvy city slicker. One of my friends told me that I’m “cute, but so not a New Yorker” because I got genuinely excited when a group of street performers started dancing in our train car. That’s okay by me—being cute seems like it’s more fun, anyway.

—Mallory

*This blog post is being shared on both Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

Bookstagram

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Lately I’ve been dipping my toe into the world of bookstagram. What’s bookstagram you may ask? Basically, it’s a community of book lovers on Instagram.

One day, I stumbled across some bookstagram accounts and my summer was forever changed. Okay, that’s a little dramatic. First I decided to start reviewing books on my blog. As I looked around at other reviewers to learn the structures people usually use, I discovered that many book reviewers had Instagrams that were specifically about books. After exploring even more, I followed a bunch of these accounts and decided to make one of my own – and it’s been so much fun!

As I said, bookstagram is a community. People don’t just post pictures hoping to get a certain amount of followers or likes, though these are always a plus. It’s more about the content of their pictures and the pictures of those they follow. Users comment on each other’s pictures, get excited about books, recommend them, fangirl/fanboy about them, and host giveaways. We’re a bunch of book nerds.

Most bookstagrammers put a ton of effort into their pictures. Many have an overall theme that makes their entire feed look coordinated. In bookstagram pictures, you can often find props used that are related to the book(s) shown, flowers, and fandom things like candles, Funko dolls, word art quotes, buttons, etc. There is planning involved in almost every picture. Plus, you have to get the lighting right in order to display the book(s) in all its glory!

One thing I’ve taken away from this experience so far is a deeper love for books and a greater To-Be-Read (TBR) pile. Being in a community with people who get excited about books has been so rewarding and has cultivated a deeper love for books.

Thank you, bookstagram!

Here are some of the pretty feeds I follow:

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@pagewithaview
@thepaige_turner
@lostinlit_becca

You can also follow mine at @junereadsbooks. As I’ve mentioned, I’m still new at it, so bare with me.

Thank you for reading about my latest hobby!

– Rebecca, alumni intern

By Any Other Name

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

What’s in a character’s name? Well, a heck of a lot, really. The perfect name expands your imaginary universe and helps establish the character’s personality. It can be obvious or subtle. For many writers, including myself, characters do not become “alive” until they bear the perfect handle. That holds true for readers, too.

Here are some things to think about when choosing names for your characters:

Respect Your Genre

This is especially important in fantasy and sci-fi and historical fiction. Culturally-inspired names add another layer to your world building and helps ground your work in a real place and time, even if your book is fantastical in nature. And just as period costumes, manners, and vocabulary set the tone for your historical novel, so, too, can the proper name.

If your novel is inspired by legends from other cultures, this is fairly easy to do. Since my middle grade series, The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, is based on the Irish legend of The Boyhood Deeds of Finn McCool, I took the Gaelic spelling of Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhail) and Anglicized it to Finn MacCullen. A tried-and-true practice within the fantasy genre, but it is still an effective technique, especially for younger readers who are coming across this stuff for the first time.

Another tip: Use the name to reveal about the character’s essence. In my YA series, Griffin Rising, the hero is a teen guardian angel named Griffin. I gave him that name for two reasons: One, it means “Strong in Faith.” Two, it begins with a hard consonant (more on the actual sounds of names later). The challenge for you as the writer is to find a clever way to weave background tidbits about the name(s) into the story. Some readers will skip over this kind of geekery. Others will eat it up. Sprinkle it in judiciously.

Graphic provided courtesy of Donnell Ann Bell, editor at Pike's Peak Writers

Graphic provided courtesy of Donnell Ann Bell, editor at Pike’s Peak Writers Blog

J.K. Rowling, in her Harry Potter series, did a wonderful job taking roots words (many which had a Latin or Greek origin – just screams English boarding school, does it not?) and creating spot on names. For example: Serverus (severe), Albus (white), Draco (dragon). She also used alliteration (Rowena Ravenclaw, Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff, etc.) but beware—too much of a clever thing is too clever by half.

Age Appropriate

Is the name appropriate for the age of your character? Check the baby names lists for the year your character was born, not the time period they are living through in your story. For the most part, a woman born in the 1950s would have a different name than a teen girl born in the early 2000s.

A New Twist

That said, you might want to make your character stand out by giving them an unusual name (perhaps an old family name). In Stone’s Heart, Stonewall Wheeler is a modern-day farrier living in western Colorado. His son is Beau. Good, solid cowboy-ish monikers, and a tip of the hat to Civil War aficionados, to boot.

Music to the Ears

Say your characters’ names aloud. How do they “feel” when you say them aloud? A hard consonant (B, D, G, T, etc.) can project strength or power. Softer vowels (A, M, N, O, etc.) might indicate a gentler personality. Sibilant sounds (S, Z, sometimes P or Th) can go either way. One of my characters from The Stag Lord is Shay Doyle. She is a shield maiden, as well as her clan’s healer. So, I chose the softer-sounding ‘ay’ in Shay and paired it with the hard consonant of ‘d’ in Doyle to show both her sides: healer and warrior. Soft and hard.

Ready for something subtle? Take Game of Thrones’ Ned Stark. The name starts off with a softer sound of ‘n’ (a family man, Ol’ Ned was), then it ends in a hard, clipped consonant. The ‘k’ sounds like the snap of a dire wolf’s jaws. Yeah, yeah. I’m stretching it, but you get my point.

Mind Your ABCs

Make sure none of your characters have similar names: Ken/Ben. Mac/Max. Casey/Kaci/Cassie/Kelsey. Olive/Olivia. Jim/Jem. Readers will get frustrated having to pause to figure out who’s who, especially at the beginning of the story.

One way to avoid this is to make sure your main characters’ names start with a different first letter. A lot of readers only skim the first few letters of a name. You want your readers turning pages, not slowing to remember if Mike was the romantic lead or was it Mitch?

I admit that the geek in me takes great joy in researching and selecting just the right name for my characters. It helps me understand who they are, why they are the way they are, and what they want out of life. I hope these thoughts help you, too, in your writing adventure.

Now, if folks would just stop calling me Darcy instead of Darby…

 

About the Author:

Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter.  A native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy writing for children, teens, and adults. She is represented by Amanda Rutter at Red Sofa Literary.

www.darbykarchut.com

www.darbykarchut.blogspot.com

Purchase Darby’s newest book in the Finn Finnegan series, Finn’s Choice

This blog post originally appeared on July 20, 2016 in the Pikes Peak Writers Blog 

Manuscripts

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Reading an unpublished work is kind of like going backstage after a show. Backstage lacks the polish of the finished product. You can see the mechanics of the magic, and yet somehow it doesn’t take any of the magic away. The ropes and pulleys, the props and cast-off costumes betray the hours of hard work that the show concealed so well.

Manuscripts have the same essence as what lies behind the stage door. They are not perfect, but with a little work they have the potential to be just as beautiful and heart-wrenchingly good as any Broadway production.

About a week into my internship, I was asked to read some of the manuscripts in our submissions portal. I was thrilled. This, I thought, is what publishing is all about. My excitement died down a little bit as I began sifting through the entries and didn’t immediately discover the next Harry Potter. Nonetheless, I was reading unpublished material, and it fulfilled every dream I’d had of interning at a publishing company in New York City.

I’ve been honored to be able to work with a few manuscripts over the course of the summer. As an intern, I’m not making big changes or drastically shaping the future of the American novel à la Maxwell Perkins—don’t worry. Most of the time I’m just an extra pair of eyes to look over the edits and make sure they were made correctly. But even in such a small capacity, I’m still incredibly excited every time I’m asked to help with one of the books. For one thing, I love reading more than anything, so it could never be boring. For another, even though I’m providing only the smallest help I still feel important. I’m saving the world one Oxford comma at a time. Most of all, it is a privilege to see an artistic process take shape as the manuscript becomes a book. I imagine a stage manager or a producer feels the same way, watching their play go from script to stage. For publishers, it all begins with a manuscript.

–Caroline, Intern

*This is a joint post between Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill

A Summer in NYC

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Once, on my walk home through the crowded sidewalk of Fifth Ave, a woman eagerly approached me, clearly hoping to sell me her product. The first thing she said to me upon her approach was, “Are you a New Yorker or a tourist?”

I opened my mouth to respond to her simple question but found myself lacking an adequate reply. I wasn’t a New Yorker by any means. I had only lived in the city for less than two months and my time here was quickly dwindling. But at the same time, I couldn’t call myself a tourist. I lived and worked in this city, no matter how temporary. So what did that make me?

Noticing my hesitant demeanor, she laughed and made her next guess, “Summer intern?”

I nodded my head and she sadly stated that her discount was for New Yorkers only and while I looked the part, interns were not technically New Yorkers. That was fine, I wasn’t interested in what she was selling anyhow, but it got me thinking about my place in this bustling city.

 

New York isn’t my home, but I’m also not just visiting. I’m floating somewhere in between the two, getting to experience the exhilarating lifestyle of NYC on a much deeper level than any tourist could manage, but still below the level of a real New Yorker. I’m in a category all my own.

I spend my days working with books (my favorite things) and my evenings trying to soak up every bit of culture and life this city has to offer before the summer ends. Being an intern this summer has allowed me to travel across the country and immerse myself in a new lifestyle. It’s a unique and incredible way to experience this concrete jungle where dreams are made, and I’ve found that no matter what adventure I’m on that day, I always find another person sharing in my exceptional summer journey.

The longer I’m in New York and the more interns and summer residents I meet, the more I realize that no, we aren’t New Yorkers, and no, we aren’t tourists, but we have our own special place in this eclectic city. We see the city in a light that no New Yorker or tourist does during our time here, and that has made this summer truly incredible.

Well that, and the fact that the shakes here are the best things I’ve ever eaten.

(The internship is pretty cool too).

*This is a joint post between Spencer Hill Press and Beaufort Books

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It Runs In the Family

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Do you remember how you got interested in reading books? I do. My brother got me hooked.

I have distinct memories of going to the library with my siblings and following my brother around to see what he would pick up. It had to have a good cover, of course. He’s an artist and it motivated his choices, even as a child. The books usually had some fantastical or otherworldly element. Those were the best stories – the ones that sent you exploring a new world. If he took a book home that he really enjoyed, he would hand it to me when he was done. Books like The Anybodies by N. E. Bodie, I Left My Sneakers on Dimension X by Bruce Coville, The Door in the Lake by Nancy Butts, or The Boxes by William Sleator. Because of his habit of handing books to me, (also because of my dad, who had me watch Star Trek: Enterprise and The X-Files) my childhood was filled of stories about aliens and magical realism. I wish everyone had this type of childhood. My imagination flourished in this atmosphere.

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My interests have definitely expanded way beyond the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, but there’s still a heartbeat for exploring things unlike our world through stories. My brother still recommends things to me: books, movies, tattoo artists. His opinions and interests still play a large role in my life. We nerd out about pretty book covers and beautifully crafted words. When I took English classes in college, I would text him about the books I was reading. As I continue to take steps forward in the writing industry, I feel like I have my brother to thank for cultivating the love I have for literature and for giving me an endless To-Be-Read pile.

My whole family loves to read (thanks Mom and Dad!), but it’s my brother in particular who helped me form a passion for books from a young age.

– Rebecca, Intern

*This is a joint post between Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill

A New Romantic

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Prior to my internship this summer, I had never read a romance novel. Jane Austen (bless) was about as close as I had ever gotten to romance, but her novels come with a heavy dose of satire that augments their generally felicitous endings. Like any good English major, I worship Jane Austen, but I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that the joy I take from her stories is not entirely due to her witty, sometimes scathing commentary on social norms. Much as I hate to admit it, I love a happy wedding at the end as much as anyone.

That said, romance novels were not something I had ever been interested in. I couldn’t get past the whole cover situation—some shirtless and oiled man inevitably holding a windblown woman who is usually fainting—let alone whatever was on the inside. I looked with scorn on romances as something definitely fluffy and vaguely nauseating. However, since Spencer Hill specializes in them, I decided to pick one up. Strictly for research, of course. I went with Breaking Up With Barrett, by Katy Regnery, the first in a series of novels about a family of wealthy, good-looking young men. This particular one involves a fake engagement that *spoiler* turns into something a little more real.

I was too embarrassed to read it on the subway, given the cover, so I waited until I got back to my apartment. I opened the first page… and then I finished it. I don’t know quite how it happened, but suddenly it was very late, and I had read the entire thing. Admittedly, the story required a certain amount of suspension of disbelief from the reader. Several plot points were certainly contrived. Barrett has been in love with you since the day you were born? Yeah, right. (But then I remembered Mr. Knightley and Emma). And then there was the disappointing revelation that the female lead would be fetishized for her virginal status, because as we all know, no story is perfect if the woman has been sullied prior to the triumphal sex scene in which pleasure and inexperience are truly impossibly combined. My feminist self was also objectively horrified at Barrett’s manipulations to obtain the main character (among other things).

And yet, and yet… I had finished it. Which meant I enjoyed it. I could have put the book down at any moment, and I didn’t. Because as it turns out, I was happy to suspend my disbelief for a few hours. Something about the predictability of the plot, and the sense of fulfillment at the end, was deeply comforting, even satisfying. I realized that romance novels are a form of escapism. I knew the novel didn’t remotely represent how the real world works, and I knew furthermore that it’s a good thing the world doesn’t work that way. But it was a relief to escape for a little while to a world that ignores the statistical improbabilities of true love and unrestrainedly indulges in the perfection of a happy ending. Maybe I will read another one someday. After all, there are ten more English Brothers books, and there is something so irresistible about the idea of a young man of large fortune.

– Caroline, Intern

Liza Wiemer Leads “Hello?” Walking Tour

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Participants converged on Washington Island to walk in the footsteps of characters from debut YA author Liza Wiemer’s Hello?, published by Spencer Hill Press. The event was coordinated and sponsored by Write On Door County, a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire people to write and share their stories. Thanks to the staff of Washington Island school and community of Washington Island for their assistance.

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Forty students and ten educators from Wisconsin’s Door County schools and Milwaukee County’s Nicolet High School converged on Washington Island to walk in the footsteps of characters from debut YA author Liza Wiemer’s Hello?. Participants took a ferry to the island where they were greeted by local students and teachers holding signs, cheering, and waving hello.

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During the course of the day, students went to many sites in the novel and enjoyed activities described in the book, including a stop at the Red Cup, a nature walk to Lake Michigan and Little Lake, a lunch break at Boyer’s Bluff where students roasted hot dogs and marshmallows around a bonfire and listened to local musician Chris Nelson play guitar, and a trip to School House Beach and Jackson Harbor.

Photos courtesy of Jim Wiemer & Steve Waldron

Engaging with Magnetic Shift

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I got the chance to sit down and read Magnetic Shift, a Spencer Hill Press YA book by Lucy D. Briand about teenagers and NASCAR. I, personally, am not a fan of cars driving around in circles as fast as they can as a sport, but it was interesting to get an inside look at all the things that go into a race, as well as getting a storyline about some teenagers involved in the business. Teenagers working with a racing team? Is that heard of? Dean Grant specializes in finding talent in 18-year-olds and bringing them onto his team. Cue Colton Taylor, teenage heartthrob and super fast driver.

But that’s not who this story is about–just the love interest. The book is written from the point of view of Lexi Adams, a 17-year-old who works in her abusive stepfather’s junkyard and has supernatural abilities to move metal with her mind. Her stepfather sends her to work for Dean Grant in exchange for advertisement. She has no say and no desire to be in a position to reveal her gift to anyone.

I think the most interesting character development in this book is in Lexi’s struggle to figure out how to handle what she calls her curse. She only discovered her abilities Freshman year of high school and has no idea how to stop things from flying around when she feels different emotions. How is she supposed to be a normal teenager with a normal life and a normal crush on a hot guy who seems to like her back? The most impressive thing is that she fought to gain control no matter what. Even if that meant giving up things she really wanted in order to protect others–an act I didn’t support solely because I was so connected and thought she was being irrational.

This book sucked me in and I almost yelled at Lexi a couple times–like how can you not see that you lose control when you’re sad and angry, not when you’re happy? Are you actually not seeing what’s happening around you? And why is it so hard for you to believe that someone likes you? Come on, girl. Get your act together. Though I had many near outbursts as I engaged with the characters, I genuinely cheered them on and willed them the succeed. As if it would actually change the story. For not being all that interested in NASCAR, I sure couldn’t put this book down.

–Rebecca, Intern