A Book Recommendation, Complete with Horses

8Have you ever looked at a book cover and known exactly what’s in store? These books are primarily paperbacks in the science fiction, fantasy, and, most notoriously, romance genres. However, there are occasions when you sit down with your new (used) paperback book with its exceedingly cheesy cover, and you are pleasantly surprised by its contents. This happened to me when reading Lyn Flewelling’s Luck in the Shadows: Book One of the Nightrunner Series.

Although my neighbor, whom I trust more than anyone to give me quality fantasy book recommendations, had recommended Luck in the Shadows, I was skeptical upon finding the first four of the series at the local Edward McKay’s Used Books. They were definitely not the worst looking of the shelves upon shelves of sci-fi and fantasy books, but they were still almost laughable: their covers pictured scenes in back alleys, in battle (with some obvious magic happening in the background), and one even depicted a young man with flowing locks lounging in front of a backdrop of ships, a very serious expression on his handsome face.

Thus far, these books don’t sound like they would win any prizes, right? Well, your mom always told you not to judge a book by its cover, and in this case it is actually true.

A little context: I love to read, especially fantasy, and especially when I’m at school – a statement that makes me sound crazy. How many college students actually have time to read anything other than assigned readings?! Trust me, I know how much easier it is to watch Netflix before bed than it is to read a few pages of a book. However, I always need to have at least one (and sometimes four)  “for fun” book in the midst of all the “have to” reading, otherwise I might just go insane. Up until the end of last summer, I had Westeros and A Song of Ice and Fire to keep me company, but alas, all good things must come to an end (but George R.R. could get to the end of the series a little bit quicker, if you me. Or any other Game of Thrones fan). So there I was, book-less and hopeless as the new school year began. I made it through the first semester by re-reading some of my old favorites (Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet, for example), but as winter rolled around and I headed back home to New England, I knew I needed and engrossing new world to get lost in. So off I trekked to my neighbor’s house, where I received the first book of a new series and the recommendation of The Nightrunner Series.

It was not until the beginning of the next semester that I got around to purchasing the first four of the series (Luck in the Shadows, Stalking Darkness, Traitor’s Moon, and Shadows Return), and boy, was I in for a surprise. These books sucked me in almost immediately and made me feel as lost and confused as one of the main characters, Alec, who is wrongly imprisoned when the story begins. He doesn’t know who his enemies are and who he can trust as multiple cellmates are cycled through, the final one of which is his eventual partner in crime and love, Seregil, who breaks him out of prison. The world in which they live unfolds in a very comprehensive way, replete with warring countries, thievery, royal secrets, magic, and, an essential of any good fantasy novel, horses. The two protagonists meet and introduce us to a myriad of compelling characters, many of whom you want to adopt or be adopted by…. However, the best part of this series is not any of the afore mentioned things, but rather the subtle and wonderful Queerness of the main characters.

For a Queer girl who grew up in the liberal Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, reading about a world in which homosexual relationships (both physical and emotional) are very nearly as accepted as heterosexual relationships, Luck in the Shadows was a definite breath of fresh air. There are plenty of fantasy sagas that feature strong female leads that break the stereotype of “femininity” (Song of the Lioness Quartet’s Alanna of Trebond and Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger are two prominent examples), but there is rarely a fantastical world in which non-heteronormative relationships are common and accepted. Furthermore, there is nothing exploitative about Seregil and Alec’s relationship – there is no unnecessary and out of place sex scene in order to placate the appetite of the reader, and most importantly, their relationship develops in a beautifully cohesive way that has the audience rooting for them for quite some time before they get together (much like Luke and Lorelei from Gilmore Girls…).

The Nightrunner series is an excellent “bit of light reading”, as out friend Hermione Granger would say. It is also perfect for a beach or mountain vacation, so if you are looking for a good escape over the summer, keep Seregil and Alec – and all the horses – in mind. Even better, there are seven books, so you won’t post-series depression too quickly!

Podcasts and dictation apps: Reading and writing when you can’t read or write

I spend an inordinate amount of time traveling — more than 20 hours, most weeks — which is miserable: I’d much rather spend that time writing, or at least reading. Although there is no real substitute for actual reading and writing, podcasts and dictation apps have helped me to take back some of that lost time.

Big ole disclaimers: I do NOT recommend doing many of these things while driving. I am a professional distracted driver, and your results may vary. For Pete’s sake, be careful! Also, some of the podcasts use explicit language. Check it before you download it.

Also, although I reference Apple products, it is strictly because I’m Apple-biased. I’m sure that there are comparable apps for other smartphones and tablets, I just haven’t looked for them. Because they don’t run on Apple products. And I’m Apple-biased.

Most of the apps and podcasts in this post are free, or they were when I came into them. Some may have premium upgrades that can be purchased, but I have found the free versions suitable for my needs.

Writing on the go — dictation apps for iPhone and iPad

Ever had an idea that you could not wait to commit to paper, but you’re short paper and pencil when the muse strikes you this way?

  1. Notes and Voice Memos

Quick note-taking at its simplest. If you’ve got an iPhone, you’ve already got two key ways to capture the “can’t wait” idea. I use Notes when I’m able to type something, but I’m just as likely to leave myself a Voice Memo and transcribe it later. There’s something wonderfully freeing about not panicking for paper when you’re driving down the interstate. It’s exciting to hear a story spark that you recorded a month ago; every one of these I’ve acted on has felt just as fresh as the day I recorded it.

Voice Memos for iPad by KendiTech: https://appsto.re/us/JrRTv.i

  1. Dragon dictation

If you’ve seen the ads on TV for the full software version of this, you may be disappointed. But for what I use it for — capturing short bursts of dialog, or rough-drafting a paragraph or two — it works well. You can also use it to draft and send emails when you don’t have hands or time available.

Dragon Dictation by Nuance Communications: https://appsto.re/us/SbHwu.i

  1. iTalk

This swell recording app doesn’t have a lot of frills, but it records flawlessly. Think of it as the mature version of Voice Memos — it records longer and more clearly, and recorded files can be saved and sent in several different formats. If I could find a free app to convert the recorded sound directly into a text file, I’d have found the Grail for hands-free novelists.

Podcasts

These podcasts will inspire and instruct you, each one in a unique way.

  1. The New Yorker Fiction podcast

This is my new favorite, and if you like short stories, it should be yours, too. It comes out once a month. Each 40- to 60- minute podcast features a contemporary author reading a short story by another author from the New Yorker’s archives, followed by the reader talking about the story with the New Yorker’s fiction editor. I usually listen to the podcast 1-1/2 times, once to take it all in, and then, after listening to the reader and editor discuss the work, I go back and listen to just the story. I’ve encountered so many new writers this way, and I’ve been able to connect with works that I might have passed up otherwise. This podcast actually makes me want to be able to read more.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/new-yorker-fiction/id256945396?mt=2

  1. This American Life

If you’re not listening to NPR’s “This American Life,” then you’re missing out on some the finest nonfiction (plus some fiction) writing available. New each week, this podcast is usually the same as the radio broadcast, several stories centered around some shared theme, except that words bleeped out for the FCC make it onto the podcast. Stories range from “real” journalism — a two-part episode tracking several kids in Chicago public schools comes to mind — to poetic retellings of familiar legends, such as a recent deconstruction of Superman from his arch-nemesis’ point of view. As an anthology-type podcast, This American Life is pretty bold with its blurring of diverse styles and genre.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/this-american-life/id201671138?mt=2

  1. The Secrets Podcast for Writers

This podcast is no longer being produced, but it’s still a good listen. Michael Stackpole, a science-fiction and fantasy writer, talks about the craft of writing. He also talks about making a living as a writer, something he has done by writing adaptions of licensed characters and story lines (Star Wars and Battle Tech, in particular). If you’re wondering how to make money off of the stuff you write, Stackpole has a lot of good info, and I love the way that he talks about genre fiction as manufactured product: even if it follows a general formula,it shouldn’t be stale and uninteresting.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/secrets-podcast-for-writers/id73801811?mt=2

  1. Part-Time Authors’ Podcast

This podcast is also no longer in production, and honestly, never quite fulfilled its promise, but I’m including it anyway. The premise of the podcast seems to be that an established author of children’s books, Genny Haikka, is mentoring a new author, Aaron Robbins, into the world of print publishing. Guest authors were featured regularly. Topics ranged from ghostwriting to pen names to finding an agent, and there’s a lot of good information here. The thing I always loved about the show, however, was the back-and-forth between Genny and Aaron — it was hopeful, it was honest, and it was darn entertaining dialog.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/part-time-author-podcast/id657625510?mt=2

  1. Five Truths and a Lie

This podcast seems to be on hiatus, but there’s a decent back catalog of episodes available. The setup is that six different storytellers tell some “true” story, and after every story has been told, then the one untruthful story is revealed. I’ve included it on this list because this format allows the listener — that is, you, the writer who doesn’t have time to read — to learn a lot about good monologue and dialog, about the mechanics of telling a story that people will feel good spending time with, and even about how to create the details that make for a compelling albeit unreliable narrator. It also produced my all-time favorite oral short story, which is Joey Slamon’s contribution to the “What I Did Over the Summer” episode.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/five-truths-lie-featured-podcasts/id564095100?mt=2

  1. Snap Judgment

This podcast, hosted by Glynn Washington, is still in production, and comes out fresh and new each week. Billing itself as “storytelling with a beat,” the Snap is less concerned with fact or fiction than it is with the rhythms and poetry’s of the oral storytelling tradition, and carrying on that tradition in a contemporary way. More often than not, the stories are true, such as a cave-diver’s riveting account of a botched attempt to retrieve a fellow diver’s remains; sometimes, the stories have truthful elements that have been rearranged for heightened entertainment, such as short memoirs that have been remodeled into brief standup sets; sometimes, they are pure fiction, such as a recent monologue that treated Hansel and Gretel’s witch as the true victim in the story.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/snap-judgment/id283657561?mt=2

I went looking for these apps and podcasts because my on-the-road time grossly exceeds my time available for reading and writing, but I would still highly recommend the apps and podcasts in this post as a supplement to your current reading and writing regimen. Even if I had more non-driving time available to me, I would listen to these podcasts, and I would use my iPhone to take notes and voice memos. There are plenty more apps and podcasts out there to be discovered and listened to – go find them, and use your technology to enhance your reading and writing life!

Are you a Word Nerd? Ask Yourself These and Find Out!

Are You a Word Nerd?

Here’s a quick and easy test to determine if you have a passion for the reading and/or writing of the written—or spoken—word!

Be honest. We’re all friends (Quaker pun!) here.

Do any of these apply to you? If you admit “yes” in your mind, you know what that means—or at least you can probably guess.

  • Do you have a favorite word(s)?
  • And here’s the tricky part…
  • What do you like about the word(s)?
  • Is it how it/they sound read aloud? The way it/they look on a page? The meaning of the word(s)? Any combination of those things?

If you answered yes to the first question, you might be a Word Nerd.

Now, on to something a little more challenging.

  • Have you ever enjoyed listening to an audiobook?
  • Did you ever intentionally listen to an audiobook just because you liked it?
  • Are you a fan of spoken word poetry?
  • Have you heard of Button Poetry?
  • Have you ever enjoyed it when friends, family, or even strangers with nice reading voices read aloud to you or in your presence?

I’ll let you guess what those answers might indicate.

  • In the last thirty days, have you picked up and read a book because you wanted to?
  • In the last thirty days, have you been reading something because you had to, and just really—maybe even secretly—enjoyed it?

Reading is, according to our extensive research, an indicator of word nerdiness.

  • Have you ever been unreasonably angry by word misusage or grammar violations in spoken or written word(s)?
  • Have you wished bodily harm on someone based on their improper word usage/grammar? Has this happened to you in the last six months?
  • The last thirty days?
  • The last thirty hours?
  • Thirty minutes even?

If so, I definitely sympathize. In addition, these are strong indicators of a high level of word nerd tendencies.

  • Do you work alliteration into your everyday conversation?
  • Do you insert puns into your conversations—earning you the hatred and admiration of all around you?
  • Do you notice—and even appreciate—rhyming?

As you may have figured out by now, positive answers to these questions largely indicate at least some level of word nerd-ness within you. Currently, there is no known cure for this affliction. However, if you find that you are, in fact, a word nerd, it’s unlikely that you want to be cured. I recommend embracing your passion whether that’s through reading, writing, speaking, or listening.

Adaptations: Books, Movies and the Magic of it All

By: Amanda Libby

A movie adaptation; those words can either send joy into the hearts of readers, or sink them into a dark ocean of dread and despair.  A good adaptation makes moviegoers flock like birds to bread to their nearest book store paying hard-earned money to have the privilege of reading the book that their new favorite movie was based on.  A bad adaptation on the other hand, sends people running in the opposite direction, fleeing from anything remotely having to do with the movie, even though they might have enjoyed the original book if given the chance.  It is a sad, but true cycle of actions.

Whenever the topic of movie adaptations comes up (and it usually does when it comes to my friends) someone, usually the most intelligent of the group, almost always says that the book is better and the movie was terrible for various reasons that they proceed to list with clarity and sureness.  Being an avid reader who devours books instead of food at times, I usually agree, as movies have become notorious in making shoddy adaptations of some of my favorite books or series.

Two major trends in movie making and writing come to mind almost instantly as to why this is: the movie only skims the surface of what the book is really trying to say, and characters that were unique in the book were made devoid of the subtlety that was present in the literature.  I had the displeasure of seeing two movies that have these problems in abundance: The Giver and The Book Thief, which I now detest with the burning passion of a thousand suns.

6The Giver doesn’t even come close to what the original book was saying about the world and society.  It only scratched the surface of the deep themes of the dangers of love and the terrible loneliness that knowledge sometimes brings, especially to children.  The relationship between Jonas and Fiona was completely changed for the trend of teen romance, when in actuality the relationship was melancholy and full of longing that was never reciprocated.  

7The Book Thief was even worse, as it cut out all of the unique characteristics of the narrator until they had a monotone stock character that didn’t deserve to be titled Death.  The sparkling details and ominous backstory that made the human characters deep and memorable were gone.  I was disappointed beyond words when I viewed the credits for these two movies and had to dash to my library and furiously reread the books, to keep the trash from seeping into my memory.

Despite all this, I don’t blame the filmmakers or the writers.  They are taking a medium that can be as long and detailed and complex as it wants, and translating it into a medium that has to be a maximum length in order to attract a mainstream audience and follow certain conventions that cannot be broken.  They were bound by the written word and couldn’t stray too far from it or book lovers would chase them down in the streets and pelt them with their copies of the book.

Looking forward, I will probably still go see movie adaptations of books I enjoy, sometimes they surprise me with a good retelling that stays true to the core of the book without removing what made the book so magical.  The older Harry Potter movies are excellent examples with The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets both staying true to the source material and also luring new young readers into a world of mystery, magic and knowledge.

In closing, I will continue to read and encourage others to do the same.  Don’t let the movies speak solely for the books they represent, as the repeated phrase which goes: “the book was better” is usually correct.

The Journey of a GR Submission

by Katie Holland (Co-Managing Editor 2015)

Have You Ever Wondered?

Have you ever wondered what happens behind-the-scenes when you submit to the Greenleaf Review? Maybe you’ve even thought about joining the team of staff members in Guilford’s annual Spring semester practicum course and want to know what staff members do to make a magazine in a single semester. This article is geared towards answering questions and clearing up some of the mystery about the submission process.

1) A Submission is Born!

You’ve worked on your submission carefully until you had a product you were happy with. A deadline has been announced by the Greenleaf Review staff; you probably saw it on a flier around campus. You’ve decided that today’s the day you give your work (and yourself) the chance to be published. This is when you make your selections and submit your chosen work to us!

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The first step a submission takes in its life happens when you hit “Send” on an email to litmag@guilford.edu with your file attached. It’s helpful if you go ahead and give it a name and mention what medium (photography, fiction, poetry, painting, etc) it is, but we will ask for that information later if you forget.

2) Submission Incognito

Once your submission reaches our hands, the Managing Editor(s) will assign you a number and remove your name from the file, leaving you completely anonymous for the entirety of the submission review process. This means that when people are reading or viewing your work, they’ll see something like “Author 12” or “Artist 39” instead of your name. General staff members don’t know who the numbers belong to, only the Editors.

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The Poetry and Prose pieces are printed and the Art submissions are sorted digitally. At this point, they are ready to be seen by staff members.

3) Reviewing Cycle

The submissions are split into three groups: Poetry, Prose, and Art. Staff members attend meetings within these sections according to their interests and schedules and review submissions as a group. Each section has its own Editor who is in charge of keeping up with the paper copies for Prose and Poetry and maintaining the digital folder for Art submissions.

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We discuss pieces that interest us, find appropriate changes that would make them better or more appropriate for our magazine or page allowance, and sort the submissions based on “readiness”. This is not a measure of quality exclusively, it is a measure of how ready we are to publish a particular piece of writing or artwork in our magazine.

The reviewing continues until enough members of the practicum course have seen each piece and all have been given a fair chance at being viewed.

4) Selections

After carefully reviewing all of the submissions in each category, the group determines which ones have made the final cut.  The section editors then determine which ones are the highest rated overall in readiness.

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Every year varies thematically and we may fall in love a piece that just doesn’t work with the rest of our favorites, that’s why we encourage you to resubmit, and sometimes even ask to publish it electronically here on our blog. We want the world to see your work, but we also want all published pieces to be seen in the right context.

5) Notification and Edits

Check your Guliford email to see if your submission has been accepted into this year’s magazine. You should check your email regularly, especially since we usually request a few edits to be made to Poetry and Prose pieces. Sometimes these edits are suggested because of the length of the piece, word usage, mistakes, or because we think it would improve the piece in some way. They are recommendations and we need your approval or input in order to continue.

Once edits are approved, we move on to Layout and place your submission into the magazine before sending the files off to our printer. We’ll let you know when the magazines get here and you can see your work in print. Yay!

If the email is not one of congratulations, we hope it won’t keep you from working on the piece and resubmitting it the following year.

And There You Have It

Staff goes on to format the magazine’s interior files before sending it to the printer. By this point you already know if you’re in. There should be a release day party and we let you know about that so we can all celebrate another great year of The Greenleaf Review and hand out free magazines to everyone who wants them.

If you want to be on the staff of the next magazine, sign on for the Spring semester practicum course for college credit, and keep on submitting.

Survivors Guide to Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) As a Student

By: Faith Krech

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The AWP Conference and Bookfair is the largest literary conference in North America. Each year this four day explosion of authors, publishers, and independent presses is contained within a different city. This year the Conference was held in Minneapolis, and I was fortunate enough to attend with Robin Miura of Carolina Wren Press as an intern. The 2015 conference featured over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures. The book fair, the second facet of the Conference, hosted over 700 presses, journals, and literary organizations from around the world.

To say that stepping onto the book fair floor on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. sharp was an overwhelming experience is the understatement of the century. The constant roar of chatter and laughter echoed throughout the massive dome shaped building. Peering around, my eyes were thrust with adjusting to the myriad of tables representing different presses and literary journals from all around the country. These tables exhibiting different presses and literary journals stretched from the front entrance of the Center and covered the entire width and length of the Minneapolis Convention Center.

For three days, I advocated for Carolina Wren Press at the designated table, meeting authors of the presses publications, networking with fellow independent presses, and utilizing my salesmanship skills to sell publications and raise awareness about the press to anyone who passed by.

Arriving in Minneapolis for the conference as a college student, I had no idea what to expect, and I certainly did not know any strategies or tips to make my conference the most successful. To help the next AWPers on their first adventure, I have crafted a list that highlights and suggests the top ten essential items to bring to AWP 2016 which will be held in Los Angeles, California!

AWP 2016:  10 Things To Bring

  1. Pen/Pencil

These writing implements are crucial to have on hand at the conference whether you are attending a panel and want to write down notes or networking at the book fair and need to solidify the transaction by scribbling down contact and other pertinent information.

  1. Comfortable walking shoes

These are essential items to obtain because walking through the book fair and to and from panel discussions in two-inch heels will bring pain and misery to anyone who dares. Bring those comfortable sandals or sneakers. Your feet and ankles will thank you after spending a whole day trekking through the AWP jungle.

  1. Business casual attire

Although the styles of dress run the spectrum at AWP, if you are a college student looking to professionally network, the best advice I could give is to dress how you would like to represent yourself in a professional setting. Have a goal in mind to visualize your ideal appearance on the conference day.

  1. Backpack or large tote bag

One of the many perks of attending AWP is that many presses and journals are giving away free publications, pens, and candy to drum up awareness for their press or journal. Bringing a backpack or tote is an essential item to help carry around all those freebies!

  1. Reusable water bottle

Before going to AWP, it might be a good idea to practice some throat clearing exercises because there will be an immense amount of conversations to be had. Whether it is networking for an internship or fawning over your favorite literary magazine, a water bottle is key to hydration for all that yammering that is bound to happen!

  1. Notebook

Like the pencil or pen, a notebook or journal is essential to bring to AWP to record amazing insights shared in panels, advice from literary editors, and to remember presses to look up later in the tranquility of your hotel room after all the literary chaos has died down.

  1. Business cards and/or sticky notes with personal information inscribed

Bringing along business cards or other contact information to AWP is not only important to have accessible for job or internship networking purposes but is also important have handy. AWP is an amazing opportunity to meet potential employers but to also meet friends and literary colleagues who share your same interests. Don’t let these connections dissipate after the conference, follow up on them. You never know what might occur from them!

  1. Money

Even at AWP, money makes the conference go round. Most presses and literary magazines at the book fair will be selling their wares for the full four days of the conference. Most presses accept all major credit cards and cash. On the second to last day of the conference, most presses and publishers slash their prices by at least 30% in hopes that they can sell off most of their publications before having to lug them all back on the plane.

  1. Map of surrounding city where AWP is located

One of the joys of AWP is the location changes every year. This provides amazing traveling opportunities and chances to see new parts of the country. That being said, it is essential to obtain a map of the surrounding city so you can be aware of the best places to eat and stay during your AWP experience. In addition, there are always off-site readings that happen after the official conference day is finished. This is when the real AWP magic happens. Poets and writers come together in harmony at different city locations to share work and be in community together. You don’t want to miss these spectacular moments! Get a map!

  1. Your confidence

As a college student entering into the vast wilderness of AWP, it may be intimidating and overwhelming at first. It will take guts to walk into the book fair and see over 7,000 presses. It will take heart to bravely ask a question in a panel discussion. However frightening or immense AWP may seem to you now, I personally guarantee that with a little confidence you can have an amazing and successful experience as long as you put yourself out there to embrace all that the conference has to offer.

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It’s Here! We’re Welcoming the New Volume of The Greenleaf Review!

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The wait is over: 2015’s Greenleaf Review is already circling the campus. It features prose, poetry, and art alike! We’re very proud to be able to say this issue may be the best yet! It’s stuffed full of the work of some very talented Guilford students, and we’re excited to share their work with you.

This years Greenleaf Review features: Adrianna M. Allred, Teresa I. Bedzigui, AC Canup, Brittany Cominos, Niall Donegan, Julia Geaney-Moore, Nicole Gaines, Laura Hay, Elizabeth Houde, Jonahs Jones, Anna Kelley, Abe Kenmore, Faith Krech, Karlen Lambert, Kristy Lapenta, Justyn Melrose, Samantha Metzner, Kate Mitchell, Ilari Pass, Gabe Pollak, Emma Rountree, Subhadra Semetaite, James Trout, Eli Tuchler, Grace Van Fleet, and Eliana Weiner.