Book Review: Just A Dumb Surfer Dude

Quick summary: Cooper’s life is fine but uneventful. He’s smart, his classes are easy, he has people who care about him, but he mostly feels like he’s waiting for his life to start. Then a new kid comes to school and everything changes.

(I tried not to spoil things but there are probably mild spoilers and hints about what happens in my review.)

What I thought: Just a Dumb Surfer Dude: A Gay Coming-of-Age Tale is a quick, fun read that would work well for reading during the summer or at the beach but can be read anytime. The “surfer dude” is less important than one might think by the title, but those who like humor, sweet romances, and romantic comedies will enjoy this story.

I really liked the narrator’s voice and liked that there were multiple love interests, that’s not always something you see in LGBTQ teen fiction. It started out a little slow for me, but I got more interested as I kept going.

Depending on how perceptive you are, there may be a fun twist or two. I am usually much better at picking out this kind of thing, but I didn’t see it coming, so I really liked the surprising direction the story went in.

The Romance: Cooper is presented as an intelligent guy, but he has no experience with relationships or dating, so there’s a coming-of-age aspect where he explores getting close to guys romantically. It’s all new and intense and scary. While this story is on the shorter side, it still tells a complete story about finding love. It’s not heavy on the angst but has a few ups and downs and isn’t completely predictable.

If you’ve been reading a lot of stories about boy meets boy and then one or both boys freak out about liking another boy, this book offers variety. Cooper already knows he’s gay, so the story explores finding that special person more fully and what makes someone “the one” without any sexuality crises.

There’s also a sequel.

Plotty Details: Cooper’s life at his all-boys school is okay, but there isn’t much going on. He has one best friend he’s close with and his relationship with his father is important to him. Both he and his father don’t enjoy being single. He’s one of the only gay kids he knows and hasn’t had any romance yet and is sort of getting impatient waiting for it. While there’s no love interest in his life, his best friend is also gay. They aren’t out to everyone, but Cooper’s dad knows.

Cooper finally gets some excitement in his life when a new student comes to school. He’s even paired up with the hot guy in one of his classes. The problem? This new boy seems to like him even though his best friend really wants to go out with the new guy.

Best Part: Cooper has great relationships with his father and his best friend Alex. If you like your romances to have a little more depth, there is also plenty of father-son moments. Cooper and his dad don’t relate to each other perfectly but love each other and that comes through. The father is an English teacher and there’s a lot of little quips I enjoyed about different books. The dialogue was at its most witty when Cooper was with Alex or his father. Cooper’s a big smart alec who loves tormenting the people he loves.

New Fall Story

Here’s a snippet of what I’ve been working on today. Boy meets boys in a coffee shop.

The scent of coffee hung heavy in the air, naturally, but mixed with other scents of the season. I watched the staff work as I waited in line. I detected crisp notes of apple, hints of warm cinnamon, and the enticing aroma of other fall spices.

Others behind the counter were rushing around frenzied, but now that I noticed one of the baristas in particular, I saw that he was different. It took more than an afternoon rush to rattle him. He smiled at each person who came up to the counter and I was struck by how genuine it seemed. There’s no way he could be so friendly. Not while teenager after teenager poured in here after school for a caffeine fix, rattling out orders and huffing impatiently. Yet he was easy going, the calm in the center of the storm.

Lately, my life held a whole lot of storm and not much calm, so someone like that held a certain amount of appeal at the moment. Even if otherwise he might not be type. I wondered if his brown hair would feel as soft as it looked and what it felt like to have a posture that relaxed posture.

He was a free spirit maybe, or an artist. There were faint marks of color on his arm that he hadn’t quite washed off and eclectic wristbands on one arm. One of bands was a rainbow, which might be why Quinn assumed he played for my team. And the once over he gave me when we finally made it up the counter made me agree with her hypothesis.

~

 

One Little Lie

I’m hard at work on One Little Lie, the sequel to One Little Word. My writing process isn’t very glamorous, it’s just a lot of flailing internally, telling myself to write faster, and curling into a ball and crying because I really hate editing.

I’ll be sending out early copies to beta readers who want to provide feedback, and you can sign up for that here. I’m sending out the beta copies in August even if that means emailing them at 11:59 pm on Aug. 31. I  also hope to post a preview soon on Amazon.

For now, I’ll just post the beginning of One Little Lie.

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“Hey, gay boy!” The taunt came as I walked briskly through the school doors. What a way to start the day. Small town bullies had so few targets when almost everyone in our farming community was the same, so the out gay kid known as me was a perfect choice.

Rural Lake Forest (which had neither lake nor forest) was a small city that unfortunately for me felt like a small town. But I didn’t have time to cater to this moron heckling me today. “Hi there, repressed jock,” I replied breezily while attempting to stroll past him.

“Where are you rushing off to, princess?” the bully asked with a sneer, stepping in front of me.

I smiled thinly. “You should really be careful about what you say. You never know who might overhear.” And there’s no way I was pretending to date this guy. You might wonder if that was even an option. You’d be surprised. But that was a story another day.

He scoffed. “I don’t need life lessons from a fairy.”

Being negative so early in the morning would surely earn him bad karma, but it wasn’t my job to stick around and teach him to be a better person. Was that uncharitable? Did my unwillingness to be kind even to those who were mean to me ensure that I would have bad karma too?

Screw it, it was too early for karma.

I resumed walking and the guy jumped out of my way so that he wouldn’t have to get up close and personal with the queer kid. Also because I had two coffees in my hand and he didn’t want to wear them. As I passed him, he said, “We weren’t done yet.” The jerk actually sounded a little sad; he was probably happy to catch me alone.

Now that I hung around with the captain of the baseball team, Luke Chambers, there was less bullying. Reduced bullying and fewer hostile stares meant more me time, which was great since me is my favorite person in the world. Though Luke was quickly gaining ground.

“Sorry,” I apologized quickly, pausing for a moment against my better judgement. My boyfriend Luke was turning me into a softie as I almost felt bad for ruining this asshole’s fun. Remaining cynical and jaded by the world when dating such a dreamboat was a challenge. Oh god, did I use dreamboat in my inner monologue? I’ve been corrupted.

The bully snorted. “Whatever, fag.” Yep, no reason to feel bad.

“That’s the spirit,” I said and tried to go on my merry way.

“You aren’t even going to play along?” he asked with a frown. “You used to.”

True but that was a defense mechanism as I used my words to fluster bullies and then run away. I didn’t have an overwhelming amount of strength. I worked on our family farm, sure, but my diet consisted mainly of sarcasm and root beer and I spent my free time in my favorite science teacher’s classroom.

I told the jock, “I have more important things to do now.”

“Like being queer?” he smirked and held up a hand for someone to high five him for his verbal genius before realizing his friends weren’t around.

“Is everything okay here?” The words were said by a sharp voice. After the quick click of heels, the owner of said voice, the aptly named Mrs. Sharp, was standing next to us and viewing us with keen eyes. She came by too late to hear anything, that was how it usually went, but she made an educated guess that we weren’t best buds.

The stature of this teacher in her early 30’s wasn’t intimidating, but her no-nonsense attitude, cold stare, and hair always pulled tightly into a severe bun made her the instructor that students never dared challenge.

The wannabe bully made a quick getaway and I wanted to follow, but Mrs. Sharp stopped me with her soul sucking gaze and I stood frozen while contemplating the best way to lie to this teacher who could snap me in half with just the powers of her mind.

What a way to start the day.

Sale!

For today’s random aside, which was inspired by the picture I chose, did anyone watch the short-lived show Downward Dog? My guess is probably not because it was short-lived for a reason, but it was a show about a dog whose thoughts we heard. I think he was supposed to be like Zen and stuff, but he came off as kinda depressed, which is another reason it didn’t last very long. Still, it was really cute.

On to more relevant matters, there is still a sale going on for many F.N. Manning novels. (BTW, my name is F.N. Manning now. As in effin’ awesome or something. Just go with it.) One Little WordBeach Bum, and Then There’s You are still on sale today and tomorrow!

For another random aside, the new season of Orange Is The New Black dropped recently and I decided I had to watch all the seasons first, so that’s what I’ve been bingeing. As soon as I used the word relevant, I thought of this moment where Taystee says “hella revelant” and as soon as I do that I get confused for a moment about which way is the right way to say that word.

BTW, I’m really enjoying s6 of OITNB. It’s high quality drama but it’s also terrible because I love all of them and just want them to be happy.

What Love Means release!

After much excitement and anticipation, What Love Means is officially available! Yes, a lot of the anticipation and excitement was from me. It still counts. Thank you to everyone who downloaded the sample. I hope you enjoy the book! It’s more than 300 pages and is on Kindle Unlimited too.

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Max is a walking bad boy cliché; Cal shouldn’t want anything to do with him. Cal is everything Max hates about rich people, but he comes in the prettiest package.

Can you spell sexual tension? They can. Can you spell love? Okay, that’s a pretty easy word to spell. Cal and Max can spell it, but they don’t what it means. They’re about to find out.

Available here

 

 

 

 

This is also the last day to enter my contest for 10 queer YA books, so enter while you still can!

Here’s a snippet from the book:

The purr of the motorcycle sent vibrations up my thighs. The wind whistled in my ears as I shot around a corner. I leaned into the motion and tightened my grip on the handlebars. A jolt of adrenaline zinged down my spine as I relied on skill and luck to carry me through. I felt invincible as I raced down back alleys and reveled in the soaring sensation that came from rushing down the road.

I parked my motorcycle at the latest worn-down, abandoned warehouse that had turned into a party spot for vagrants like me. While I hadn’t had anything to drink yet, the ride made me feel buzzed and on top of the world. I guess that’s what people meant by a natural high. Huh. I normally go for the unnatural highs when offered, but being on a bike almost beat anything drugs or alcohol could do.

Almost. It depended on whether a guy was pressed up behind me on the bike or not.

The lot held bikes and beat up cars along with some kids I recognized from school, but the Lexus’s, Audis, and BMWs made me sigh. Even in the dim light they sparkled. Some rich kids from a prep school must have wrangled an invite to see what the kids from the ‘other side of the tracks’ got up to. My friends loved scoring with the yuppies who did things with them no self-respecting girls could do with their boyfriends while the girls loved hooking up with someone their parents would disapprove of.

Too much hassle for me. Besides, I gave up girls years ago.  I didn’t know the preppy kids at this party and didn’t care about them. Until I saw him.


 

 

We’re Number One!

Thank you to everyone who got a FREE copy of L-O-V-E on Amazon! It ranked as the top free book in YA LGBT fiction. I’m thrilled so many people are checking out my book about stubborn boys and spelling bees. I hope you enjoy the excerpt. Those who haven’t gotten a copy yet for free still can here.

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My contest giving away 10 gay romances for young adult readers is also still going on. Enter for your chance to win!

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And once again, thank you for selecting and reading my work! It means a lot to me (and my dog) while I try to support us as an author.