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From the Comfort of their Favorite Armchair
  March 9, 2001

Today's Featured Author - Amanda Stone



Few TG stories have just the right measured balance of melodrama, description and characterization. Amanda Stone’s sole work "A New Beginning", a refreshing work in the genre, is one that does.

It’s description of the waning days of an amazing Michigan town’s summer as seen through the eyes of young Jamie brings all of your senses into the prose. You can smell the lingering rain, feel the heavy air, and hear the cicadas and sense that you are in the hands of a marvelous writer.

After this opening paragraph, which works perfectly at drawing the reader into the story, we get the well-woven back-story of our hero. Soon things grow complicated though.

A perplexing disease swiftly shatters the quiet, Americana monotony. Fear descends upon the townspeople as the infectees pile up. But young Jamie isn’t fearful of the contagion, in fact he welcomes it, because, as we discover, it promises to deliver him what he most desires.

The question of whether he’ll get infected turns out not to be as pertinent in the story as how he and his family will deal with his eventual infection. There are several tense moments because of the infection and, later, expected discovery waiting game, especially involving Jamie’s mother who is never actually named. A clever move that automatically makes his mother the allusion to anyone’s mother.

Once the story moves beyond the setup and complications, things begin to smooth over. Red herrings of potential conflict are filleted and we are left with a mellow tale of mother/daughter bonding. Occasional glitches of grammar are present, but easily overlooked since you’re already one with the tale, as are the reliance on descriptions of clothing and transvestitism that pale in comparison to the dynamics and particulars of the town.

Ultimately, this work is about fantasies fulfilled and the lifting of hidden secrets by the love of family. And while similar things have been written, especially ones including an understanding mother and a son who longs to be a girl, this one is the most endearing that I’ve ever read.

My only major quip is with the ending, which compresses all the events after the main action into a pair of paragraphs when they could be another story on their own, which is a little frustrating, but easily forgiven.

"A New Beginning" which is, as I’ve said before, Amanda Stone’s only story thus far, has it’s kinks, but also its delightful touches and attention to detail. Such artistry and emotion is often only seen in professionally published material.

Clearly, Amanda Stone is a new talent with the ability to weave scenery as lovely as a hanging tapestry. And that makes you wish you could escape into the threads of the fabric and into….’a new beginning’ of life. 


Heather Sinclair

"A New Beginning" brings to Crystal's Story Site the one and only submission from Amanda Stone. I cringe to myself slightly as I notice this, seeing how difficult it is to review an author's work from just one sample story. Luckily the size is just over a 100k.

Amanda gives us a sweet and sentimental story concerning a transgendered boy, his family, the local community, and a wasp. I make it sound very simple and it is as far as plotlines go, but Amanda seems to have a talent for description and she uses that talent well.

I actually read the first paragraph and thought to myself "Uh oh we've got a real novelist here instead of a storyteller." I consider novelists a type of person that will take ten pages to set up one little insignificant scene, but she proved me wrong and took off like a bat at the end of the page.

It seems a small town is being plagued by one or more wasps that have the ability to change the gender of any male they sting. All of you TV fans out there don't worry; this is not a magic story. There is a perfectly rational explanation for how this is accomplished; you just have to wait till the end to find out what it is. The rest of the story tells how Jamie deals with being stung and how he/she reveals his condition to his family.

I find that her lead character, Jamie, is very a sympathetic young boy who is very much loved by his mother. It makes me wonder if some of the interactions are brought out from Real Life.

I find Amanda's descriptions and content well thought out and her mechanics lacking only in very few instances. There are only a couple of "big" paragraphs, and the dialog is very natural, not at all fake or unbelievable, as we are used to seeing.

I think realism is becoming the catchword as of late. I'm sure we all would like to believe that whatever we read would be possible in some way, shape, or form. So, the closer to reality we write...well then, the more the story will be received. I'm sure there are a number of biologists, or geneticists out there that will say the plot is bunk, but I find it fascinating and pretty well thought out.

I noticed that this story was submitted in September of last year. I only hope that Ms. Stone will grace us with another so that we can sample her prose in better detail.






Editor - Heather Sinclair


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