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The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day is one of those books that made me want to buy a whole bunch of copies to distribute to my friends. If you’re looking for a perfect gift for that reader in your life, check out The Black Hour.

The crime novel opens with sociology professor Amelia Emmet attempting to resume her academic career while still recovering from a violent attack from a student—a student who shot and killed himself after shooting her. With the identity of the shooter known, the central mystery of the novel is not “whodunnit?” but “whydunnit?”

As Emmet re-acclimates to her university life, she finds her colleagues suspicious and awkward with her victim status. It does not help matters that her memory of the attack is clouded, confused, and completely lacking in details that will help provide an explanation or even a coherent narrative. For a professor who studies violence, her inability to understand and process the attack is as frustrating as the physical limitations she faces in the wake of her injuries. Graduate student Nathaniel Barber, Emmet’s teaching assistant is equally curious about the motive behind the attack. Academic research quickly gives way to investigative legwork as the pair try to learn more about the shooter and his possible motive for wanting to kill Emmet.

The skillfully constructed plot and characters are complex enough to keep the reader engaged and intrigued without feeling overwhelmed and confused. Rader-Day’s prose is crisp and concise, never losing sight of the central storyline. Her ability to alternate point-of-view is masterful as is her ability to subtly reveal the subtext of her characters’ behavior in a realistically constructed academic setting; it is hard to believe this is her first novel. Violence and depression loom large in the narrative, but the characters are written with such clarity and purpose that the darkness never fully envelops them (or, thankfully, the reader). It’s one of those books you can’t put down and are sad to see come to an end.  Reading the novel is a thrilling ride that comes to an end satisfactorily, though all too quickly.

For more information about Lori Rader-Day, check out her website.

Hello, blog readers! I hope you’re having a lovely week. Now that it’s Wednesday, it’s time to feature yet another poem that you may not have heard of yet. As always, this week’s featured poem comes to us from Poetry Daily, which is a great site for finding new poetry. This week we’re featuring a poem entitled Pluralities by Ralph Adamo.

According to his bio page on the Louisiana Poetry Project site, Ralph Adamo has written six poetry collections, including The Tiger Who Spoke FrenchHanoi Rose (New Orleans Poetry Journal, 1989), and Waterblind (Portals Press, 2002). He began teaching English at Xavier University in Fall 2007, and has edited Xavier Review since Spring 2011. He has won an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts, and from the Faulkner Society.

Pluralities by Ralph Adamo

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For some writers, being engaged in the craft of writing is a constant process. For some people, breaks or vacations from writing are not even considered. That’s all well and good and, if you are one of those writers, then more power to you. But for us mere mortals, sometimes a hiatus is necessary. Sometimes the idea train just stops right in the middle of the track and the only way to eventually keep going is to step off and get some fresh air in the land of Not Writing. Now, that metaphor may be a bit awful, but please bear with me.

For those of us who sometimes need to take a break from the world of writing and from the fictional worlds that we have created, I have some good news. Even if you leave, you can always come back. I know that seems like a simple thing to state, but the fear of not being able to return to writing is quite real. I know I’ve had a few years when National Novel Writing Month ends, I take one week off to clear my head, and then feel like I’m unable to dip back into the story that I had been so engrossed in for thirty days straight. I’ve even felt this after writing for several hours and getting on a roll. There is an anxiety that creeps up to tell you that, even if you have other things to do, you’d better keep on writing because you may not get this inspiration back.

This is a legitimate fear, and there’s no need to be ashamed if you’ve felt it before. And your fears will probably prove to be well-founded. When you step away from a story or project for any length of time, you do get taken out of the mindset that was helping you remain inspired. When you come back, your writing will feel stilted and your brain will seem to be uncooperative. But there is hope!

In a post written for Buzzfeed this past August, author Lev Grossman discussed his experience writing his first novel. The post is eloquent and interesting, but I want to talk about one quote from it in particular. In the article, Grossman said, “The creative life is forgiving: You can betray it all you want, again and again, and no matter how many times you do, it will always take you back.”

I think the reason this quote is true lies in what the creative life means. Largely, it means living in your own head and being accountable only to yourself and your own creative ambitions. You are the only one you need to apologize to if you leave the creative life. If you have the capability to forgive yourself for leaving, then the creative life will forgive you as well.

So, on the cusp of the holiday season, if you feel that you need to step back from your writing projects to get some space and some fresh air — either real or metaphorical — proceed without fear! Read good books, watch good television, and savor the world around you. This means that when you do return to the creative life, your head will be filled with new, fresh ideas to apply to your projects. And those projects will be sitting there still, just waiting for you to come around again.

– Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Editor’s Notes #154

Posted: December 7, 2014 in Editor's Notes

Hello, blog readers! It’s time once again to look back at the posts we’ve been featuring here on the blog. But first, I want to remind you all that Issue #8 of the Jet Fuel Review, the Fall 2014 issue, is now available! As always, the Review has published some truly exceptional work in the fields of non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and art. If you’re on-the-go, you can download an eBook version of this latest issue to read anywhere at all. We hope that you check out this latest issue and that you enjoy reading it. Thanks to everyone who contributed their work and to all the editors who helped put the issue together.

Starting with last week’s posts, we published a Writing Advice post that talked about the metaphorical problem of being “lost in the woods” of your story. All writers go through this, the trick is knowing how to hack your way back out of the woods. This past week, we published some Writing Advice about including commonplace items and occurrences in your story to jumpstart your imagination when you’re feeling blocked. We also featured a poem by Eliot Khalil Wilson entitled Origin Blues: An Elegy.

Although the end of the fall semester is approaching, some of our editors have still been posting here. Sabrina Parr reviewed Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson in her latest Book Corner post. This sounds like a fun holiday read! Grant Mazan wrote a post about Jim Morrison’s affinity for Jack Daniel’s. Mike Egan, one of our film bloggers, wrote about the offbeat success starring Michael Keaton, Birdman. And Miguel Gonazalez, our other wonderful film blogger, wrote about the new Star Wars trailer that has the internet buzzing.

Finally, we finished up the semester with our final two “Meet the Editors” posts. First we profiled Symone McCoy, our Communications and Media Editor and Assistant Marketing and Development Editor. And this past week we profiled Kelly Lyons, the Assistant Blog Editor who has been working to bring you all this wonderful content for the past couple of months. Many thanks to Kelly for her hard work and her acquisition of our awesome new bloggers!

As some of you might already know, things tend to die down here at the blog during the holiday season. Our editors are on their winter break starting next week, so they won’t be around to write new posts until the new semester begins in January. We will still have some posts here and there, but expect things to be quieter than normal in the next couple of weeks. Thank you for your understanding and we hope that you come back when things are in full swing once again at the Jet Fuel Review.

– Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Kelly Lyons

Kelly Lyons

Hello readers, and welcome to this year’s last installment of Meet the Editors! Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Lyons. Kelly is a senior at Lewis University. She is pursuing a major in English with a concentration in Creative and Professional writing as well as a minor in History. Because sitting in bed all day watching Netflix isn’t a paid profession, Kelly plans to find a job editing or publishing books once she graduates. Besides working on the Jet Fuel Review, Kelly is also an online editor of The Lewis Flyer and a tutor in the Lewis University Writing Center. When Kelly isn’t at school, she enjoys spending her time reading fantasy novels, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, playing with makeup, and petting as many dogs as she can. We hope you enjoy learning a little bit about Kelly!

Who are you and what is your role in the Jet Fuel Review?

I’m Kelly Lyons, and I’m the Assistant Blog Editor and Assistant Non-Fiction Editor at Jet Fuel Review.

What book might we find on your nightstand right now?

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With the new Star Wars teaser trailer out, fans are overwhelmed with excitement. After 10 years, a new series of six movies are on their way. J.J. Abrams gave the fans a look at the new stormtroopers, new characters, and the Millennium Falcon. There has been nothing but positive feedback with the exception of a few trolls. The original trilogy is widely accepted as a masterpiece, but the prequel films are known to be a mistake. Where does this new trilogy land?

The original Star Wars trilogy was a team project with George Lucas in the lead. At the time he had to impress a studio and cooperate with his team. This teamwork lead to one of the film world’s milestones. The accomplishment also brought George Lucas an incredible amount of power. When he decided it was time to expand the universe, everyone was on board. Who didn’t want more?

Watching the special features on the Blu-ray version of the films tells a clear story. This new project was not a collaboration. George Lucas did not have to answer to studio demands and his team had complete faith in him. He had complete creative control while everyone else was just a yes man. He was the one who created the original trilogy and this new crew did not want to do anything that went against his vision. After all, he was already successful. This is what led to a disappointing trilogy. It was a bunch of undisputed choices that where not carefully ironed out. Everyone put complete trust in George Lucas to do it again.

Looking back to the year 1998, no one thought the new movie would be bad. In fact the trailer got everyone excited to see the new Star Wars. The trailer became one of the most downloaded files at the time. People would pay for a movie ticket to see the new trailer and then leave without seeing the following movie. The anticipation was huge. Ultimately the hype was for nothing. The movie did not live up to expectations. Now this new teaser is getting the same treatment. Everyone is watching it and everyone is super hyped up to see more.
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Hello, blog readers, and welcome to another Pick-a-Poem post. In case you don’t know, the weekly Pick-a-Poem post is when we choose a poem to feature here on the blog. Generally we find these poems thanks to Poetry Daily, a great site that features a new poem every day. So if you want to see more new poetry, be sure to check out the site! Today we feature Origin Blues: An Elegy by Eliot Khalil Wilson.

According to his bio page on Poetry Daily, Eliot Khalil Wilson has written one collection of poetry, which is entitled The Saint of Letting Small Fish Go. His work has also appeared in various publications, including Ploughshares, The New England Review, and The Southern Review. He has also received several awards, such as a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Pushcart prize.

Origin Blues: An Elegy by Eliot Khalil Wilson

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