FLARE launches Spring 2018 edition

We are proud to announce the publication of the Spring 2018 Edition of FLARE: The Flagler Review, which features a rich collection of talented writers and artists.

Thank you to all of the staff for your dedicated work in making this edition a reality! Stay tuned for the Summer 2018 edition coming in a few months!

The Importance of Dangerous Women

By Isabelle Rodriguez

Recently I’ve had a real hankering for fiction books about women. As an English major I’m constantly bombarded with books about really boring dudes trying to “figure stuff out,” so I’ve been wanting a refreshment … or else I was going to lose my mind this summer.

Surprisingly, I found myself drawn to stories like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott, and The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins. I can tell you a majority of the books I read this summer centered around someone dying (or in the case of Gone Girl, faking their own murder) and the main character being involved in some way.

At one point I had to put the books down and tell myself to lighten up and read some peppy YA, but then I began to wonder why I liked these stories so much. Was I just being morbid? (Maybe) Was I just attracted to the dramatic flare of it all? (To a certain degree)

It wasn’t until I read Gone Girl that I realized why I had become obsessed. It’s inthe scene where the main character, Amy Dunne, goes on a spiel about “Cool Girls.” You know, the chicks dudes love, the kind of girls who like whatever their guy likes and has no discernible personality beyond that.

When I read that paragraph I literally had to put the book down and physically move myself away to chill for a second. Because honestly, while Amy Dunne isn’t the best character, she hit that nail on the head.

I completely understood what she was talking about. I can think back on my life and recount all the times men wanted me to be that “Cool Girl” who did what they wanted me to do. The clearest memory was in high school when some senior from my theatre class, stopped little ole junior me in the parking lot to tell me he loved me.

Loved.

Me. The girl he talked to a handful of times in class.

My response? “You have weird taste in girls.”

It was stupid, but it was meant to be funny. Any one of my friends could tell you that’s just me.

His response? “You’re supposed to say ‘I love you back’”

After I told him I wasn’t going to do that (because no one in their right sense would) he got upset and walked away from me. He then spent the rest of the school year belittling me.

Me.

The girl he loved.

At that time in high school, I didn’t understand why he was acting the way he was. Later on I found out he had a girlfriend when he told me that and I was even more confused. He had a girl. Why was he upset that I don’t like him?

Now I get it. I disappointed him because I dared to not be “cool girl.” I don’t want to be “cool girl.”

And that’s when I realized that neither did the female protagonists of the books I read. Of course they were exaggerated and twisted versions of this anti-“cool girl” (I did say I love drama), but these characters were allowed to have all these taboo traits for women: selfishness, greed, desire, a hunger for power. They weren’t who they were taught to be as women, but who they wanted to be. And for better or worse, I gotta’ give these dangerous women some props.

These character’s are willing to explore aspects of womanhood that female readers may be afraid to examine about themselves. Sure, in some of the stories the women are toxic people, but in some they learn to accept these aspects about themselves and embrace it. They have goals they will do anything to achieve, they are unapologetic about their feelings, and, importantly, they struggle and overcome the strict ideas of what a woman is.

These situations aren’t unfamiliar to myself, or women, in general. While I haven’t framed my husband for my murder like Amy Dunne, I have struggled with ideas and perceptions others have had of me. I like the clarity these dangerous women gave me.

Writer’s Block, Schmiter’s Block

By Natalie Agosto-Garcia

What is writer’s block? According to google, this atrocity is the condition in which one cannot think of what to write or how to continue with the process of writing. As a writer, I (and the many writers before me) have struggled with writer’s block. There have been many times where writing has been difficult for me simply because the idea of finding a topic to write about becomes extremely stressful. Some people believe writing aids in reducing anxiety and stress by expressing oneself and letting it all out by writing it on paper.

When struggling with writer’s block, something that should be quite calming becomes something I dread doing. This form of procrastination causes me to throw my inhibitions into the crisp morning air and search for the next best thing on Netflix (Ahem, The OA). Through many years of stress, stress, and more stress, I was convinced by my friend (and yoga fanatic) to try slowing my mind through meditation.

“Try calming your mind to focus on one thing, girl.” She laughed at me as we were sitting on her living room floor having a Hulu marathon when I was supposed to have been writing my paper. She watched me for the last two hours turning on/off my laptop, flipping through pages of books, and pacing the room.

“What?” I said.

“Calm the F down. Don’t you meditate? Or Sleep? Or yoga?  Like, calllllllllllm down.”

“Meditate? I think I’m too much of a stress ball to sit cross-legged on your floor and start chanting some ‘om’ nonsense.”

“Stop.”

“Don’t tell me what to do. If I don’t know what to write, I can’t write the assignment. If I can’t write the assignment, I get a zero. If I get zeros because I can’t write other assignments then I get a big fat huge zero. And that big fat huge zero will drop my GPA. If my GPA drops then I fail. I’m a failure and that failure will follow me for the rest of my life on transcripts! When I apply to jobs, they’ll see that GPA. When I have kids I’ll have to lie to them and tell them I was a great writer, full of ideas, and good grades because they can’t have a stupid mommy.”

“Stop your mind ya ticking time bomb!” She reached over for the remote and turned off the T.V. Her body shifted into criss-cross-applesauce. She stared at me until I followed suit. “Lord, have mercy. Okay, breath in slowly.” She said closing her eyes and taking a breath.

Again, I followed suit.

“OMMMMM”

“WHAT DID I JUST SAY ABOUT THAT OM STUFF” I was laughing hysterically wondering how in the world I was supposed to take any of this seriously.

“I’m joking, I’m joking! But seriously though, breath in  slowly for the count of five, then breath out slowly to the count of ten.”

After trying this for a few a minutes, I opened my eyes.

“I’m falling asleep, I can’t concentrate on just nothing without passing out”  

“Just bring your thoughts back to your mind, focus on one thing. When your mind wanders, catch yourself and focus on that one thing. Get it?”

“Ya okay.”

We did this for about 30 minutes. It did seem to work. I felt ideas moving around in my mind like the little souls swimming in the shiny silver tank from that one Scooby Doo movie. Now it was just about picking one and going with it, but the worst was over!

“Okay. Namaste. How do you feel?”

“I have some ideas now, it’s just about writing them now.”

“Want to sit at my desk and try again?”

“Namaste right here and write this tomorrow.”

Meditation did help me. Well, after practicing many, many, many times. It’s hard to get it right on the very first try. If you’re not ready to try it just yet, the best you can do to get rid of your writer’s block is to get away from your desk. Try taking a walk or a run. Do yoga, listen to music, or go to the beach. Do whatever it takes to get yourself out of your studying mindset. Well, don’t get too crazy.

Good luck, and happy writing my little stress balls!

In Defense of The Raunchy Romance

By Taylor Diamond

Hi, my name’s Taylor and I love reading the raunchiest of romance novels. Unlike others, I’m not afraid to get down and dirty with the best (or worst) of them. Though, it’s not for the reasons you might think. The romance genre just doesn’t get the love it deserves, so I’m here to stand up in defense of my beloved raunchy novels.

I love losing myself in a good story, and romance novels provide a protagonist that I can actually relate to. Typically, a well-formed protagonist(s) has an underlying reason from their past that provides obstacles to jump through before they are able to maintain a healthy relationship. All too often, romance novels are cast aside and labeled “trashy” or “raunchy” and even “women’s porn” (that’s my personal favorite); but I say bring on the unfitting labels and narrow minded stereotypes because our raunchy writers will prove them wrong time and again. One of my favorite past times is watching people get proved wrong.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking. That’s great and all, Taylor, but what does this have to do with telling us about the best novel’s out there? Well, my little honeybees, I feel that not everyone is on the same page with our genre. Even those who enjoy a good romance don’t necessarily know WHY they enjoy them. And that just won’t do. Of course, those steamy interludes and gorgeous men (and women) are a large part of the enjoyment of the novel, but it also has a lot to do with feeling a connection to the protagonist. Letting yourself find the similarities, so that you might imagine the protagonist is you. Personally, when I choose a novel it almost always is about an early twenties woman making her way through college and trying to find herself. Why, you ask? Because, I myself am a 22 year old woman finding myself in college.

Now connecting to the protagonist and stepping away from reality might be enough to convince our haters out there that the raunchy romance novel is full of literary genius. For those of you to whom the previous assertion applies, try reading some novels written by the author Tijan. In my opinion (and we all know I’m an expert, obviously) Tijan is one the leading writers of this genre. Her novels tend to be classy, sassy, and just a little bit smart-assy. They’re great for all romance novel readers from novice to experienced. You want an uplifting story? Check. You want crazy obstacles? Check. You want hot raunchy sex scenes? Triple check. Any way you look at it, Tijan’s got it covered.

For beginning romance, readers I’m going to suggest Tijan’s Anti- Stepbrother. This was the first novel that I read from her, and I’ve read every one since then. The plot is new and invigorating, the characters are very relatable, and the steamy scene’s… well I’ll leave that for you to decide. The climax (pun intended) had me pissed off, crying, and hooked until I finished (pun also intended) the novel and had my resolution. Give these raunchy romances a shot, and let me know what you think!

Unless you don’t like it. Then don’t. Haters!

Peace, Love, and Rauchiness honeybees!