Saturday, May 16, 2015

Book Review: SWAGGER by Carl Deuker

SwaggerSwagger by Carl Deuker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not usually one to read a sports-themed book, but this one had me turning pages and fighting my way through to the end, to the truth and the light and to the powerful story underneath. Even if you've lied a little, or even a lot, does speaking the truth matter more? Sure, there are tournaments to be won, and big, shiny trophies, but do they matter? Do college scholarships matter, even if you've worked hard to earn it? Does the truth matter more? When a friend needs you to speak the truth, and they can't speak up for themselves, would you do that? Would you risk it all for your friend? Would you do the right thing, even if if cost you everything you thought that mattered?

Deuker delivers in fast plays, well-crafted games, and at the center of his story, Jonas, the MC with the swagger to apply his skills on the court to his academics and future goals (college with a basketball scholarship), and to his relationships. SWAGGER follows Jonas from before he has any clear direction or goals, to a driven, committed young man coming into his own.

When Jonas's dad loses his job and has to relocate, Jonas is put to the test to start over and continue toward his goal of earning a full basketball scholarship to Monitor college by proving himself in his academics and in his skills on the court. It's one thing to play and make shots, and it's another thing entirely to lead players to function as a team, playing to their strengths and ensuring every player shines when called upon.

As the story unfolds, Jonas meets his new coach, Hartwell, who proves to be somewhat shady in the way he crosses moral lines with Jonas and his fellow players. Prior to being hired as coach, Hartwell meets the team and offers them tips on how to improve plays and shots at the local community court. Seemingly harmless at first, the reader slowly realizes how calculated Hartwell is, how nothing he does is an accident or coincidence, but each move is part of his bigger goal to gain the position of head coach and predator among his group of players.

Jonas and his best friend Levi play and sharpen one another all summer, and throughout their senior year, their friendship deepens. As the team works toward the state championships, Levi changes, keeping more to himself and withdrawing as a player. Jonas tries to reach out to Levi, but being a friend is what Levi ultimately needs, and this is proven when Levi reveals the secret that changes everything.

What a powerful read. Highly, highly recommended. And the games were pretty intense, too. Worth a read. Slam dunk.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Final Edits are Underway

I'm blessed to have a very thorough editor. I've got three levels of edits to work through, and I've got them all printed out so I can highlight and make edits on paper (this is important because it changes up what could easily be missed on the screen/keyboard), then transfer those to my electronic document. As I go through, I'm checking off each edit note to make sure I don't miss anything, and if I have something come up that I need to discuss with my editor, I make a note and check in with her.

While I've only just begun this process, it's going well so far, and I'm pleased with the results. I've got a few bigger bumps along the road coming up (cutting a whole chapter, half of another), and some character arcs needs some retooling as well, but I'm ready for the challenge. Once I'm through final edits (round one), my editor wants to do a quick once over just to be sure she didn't miss anything (did I mention how awesome my editor is?), and then it's off to the proofreader. My proofreader will go through for formatting and grammar to ensure a new set of eyes searches and destroys any remaining typos, grammar errors, or formatting glitches.

Then, we're go for submitting for layout and cover design. Meanwhile, I'll shift gears and get all the marketing aspects ready. I've got some really cool things planned, so stay tuned. Speaking of, have you seen my new dot com? Yes, I've got one of those:

Check it out. It's like a newborn baby for now, but soon I'll have tabbed sections and you'll be able to find out what's happening both here and there. I will be updating more frequently, I swear. I know I've been seriously absent here for awhile. My last two grad school classes were seriously kicking my butt, however,  I just finished and somehow managed to maintain my 4.0! Woot. I'm starting one more class for early summer, but I went ahead and dropped the other one (I've got space later on to take that class), so I had more time to get my book edited and ready to go.

What are your summer plans? My family and I are going to a local campground with a cabin that works for my son's walker. It has a nice pool, walking paths, and other things our boys love to do. We'll probably go to the beach as well at some point.

If all goes well, and according to schedule, we should have ebook and print copies of THE PACKING HOUSE ready for September/October. Once we're closer to the final date, I'll let you know. Somewhere between now and then, we'll have a cover reveal and updates on blog tour, giveaways, and other plans.

Thank you for sharing this news with friends and coming back despite my lack of updates. I appreciate each and every one of you, truly.