Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Losing Normal by Francis Moss + #Giveaway + Excerpt

Losing Normal by Francis Moss
Published by Encelia Press on the 5th November 2018.

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Everyone we love, everything we know, is going away - and only an autistic boy can stop it. Alex knows exactly how many steps it takes to get from his home to Mason Middle School. This is normal. Alex knows the answers in AP math before his teacher does, which is also normal. Alex knows that something bad is coming out of the big screen in his special needs class. It's pushing images into his head, hurting him, making him forget. Alex pushes back, the screen explodes, and nothing is normal any more. Giant screen televisions appear all over the city. The programming is addictive. People have to watch, but Alex cannot. Sophie, the sentient machine behind all this, sees the millions and millions of eyeballs glued to her and calls it love. To Sophie, kids like Alex are defective. Defectives are to be fixed - or eliminated.


Chapter One: Alex 
It was four hundred sixty-two steps from the corner of Overland to the front entrance of Mason Middle School, then forty-four steps to the entrance. Across Woodbine Street, a five-meter by three-meter Calliope big screen television hung on a pole. It had been there for ten days, so I had made it normal, but I had to cross the street, which added seventy-six steps. Two women, two men and a little boy were watching. A dark-haired man with glasses, wearing shorts, suspenders, flip-flops and a T-shirt with the words ‘Will code for beer’ printed on it, was on the screen. 
“…Today, the CEO of Calliope, William Locke, announced a breakthrough in his company’s efforts to revolutionize our educational system.” 
When I closed my eyes, I saw a swarm of tiny glowing things flying out of the screen, like the fruit flies that always find the bananas in our kitchen, even if we keep the doors and windows closed. 
The dark-haired man stood on a stage, speaking to an audience, and a woman’s voice was saying: 
“In the past few months, under the visionary leadership of William Locke, Calliope has transformed the entertainment industry. The world’s most powerful super-computer, which we’ve named Sophie, can create major motion pictures in less than an hour, and an entire season of a television series in hours. A symphony in minutes. A popular song in milliseconds. Don’t like what you’re watching or hearing? Sophie will respond to create brand-new entertainment that’s just what YOU want! 
“Now, we are about to transform the way our children learn. With the introduction of the Calliope Education Initiative…”the introduction of the Calliope Education Initiative…” 
I walked toward Mason Middle School. 
As I opened the glass doors with yellow wood frames, the noise of kids walking, talking, and yelling in the brown vinyl floored entrance drowned out the voice from the screen. This was normal, but it makes me feel all squished up inside. 
As I stood in the entryway, I heard someone behind me. I turned around. It was Emilio. “Hey, Alex,” he said. “Hey.” Emilio reached into his red backpack and took out a box, waving it at me. “My mom got me Undead . I’ll bring it over if you wanna play after.” 
“Sure. You know I’m gonna own you again.” 
Emilio laughed. “Not this time. I’ve been practicing.” He has brown curly hair and brown eyes and brown skin, and he smiles a lot. Emilio is my friend. He lives two and one-half blocks away from me, which is one thousand, twenty-four steps. We’re both in Mr. Bates’ first period Special Needs class in the Resource Room. Emilio calls us the Weks, which means weird kids. 
The bell rang at 8:13 AM, and kids began running down the hall to their classes. I started walking to the main hall when Emilio touched my shoulder. I stopped. “Let’s wait,” he said. 
A minute and ten seconds later, the hallway emptied and grew quiet. Emilio went ahead and looked around the corner. He waved his hand, which means “come on.” 
We walked down the white hallway, staying close to the wall of lockers. We had almost gotten to the door of the Resource Room when Chuck Schwartz, who is my enemy, stepped out of the stairwell. Emilio moved behind me. Chuck Schwartz smiled, but I have seen that smile before. He has a gap between his front teeth. He wore a black T-shirt with no sleeves. 
“Hey, Ass-burger!” he said. He walked down the hall toward us, his black boots thumping on the floor. Chuck Schwartz rammed his shoulder into me and smashed me sideways into the lockers. “Watch where you’re going, Ass-burger.” This was normal. 
“I always watch where I’m going,” I said, which was stupid. Chuck Schwartz put his hand on my chest and shoved me against the lockers. Emilio backed away, but Chuck Schwartz reached out with his left arm and grabbed him by his shirt. “No, no. You’re next.” 
We stood there for seven seconds. Chuck Schwartz stared at me, and I looked down at the floor, which is what I usually do. Then I heard a deep voice: “What are you doing?” 
I looked up to see Mr. Crumley, an older man who volunteers in the library, behind Chuck Schwartz. He has a little white beard and always wears a green tweed jacket and a white shirt buttoned up to his neck. He put his hand on Chuck Schwartz’s shoulder, and Chuck Schwartz let go of us fast. 
“Just having a conversation, dude.” 
“Go. Now. Dude,” Mr. Crumley said. Chuck Schwartz headed down the hallway. He turned back and did that thing with his index and middle finger, pointing at his eyes, then at me and Emilio. 

Meet the Author 

Francis Moss has written and story-edited hundreds of hours of scripts on many of the top animated shows of the 90s and 00s. Beginning his television work in live-action with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he soon started writing cartoons ("a lot more jobs, and also more fun"), staff writing and freelancing on She-Ra, Princess of Power, Iron Man, Ducktales, and a four-year stint on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, writing and story-editing more episodes than you can swing a nuchaku at. One of his TMNT scripts, "The Fifth Turtle," was the top-rated script among all the 193 episodes in a fan poll on IGN.COM. A list of his television credits is at IMDB.COM.

Francis, in partnership with Ted Pedersen, also wrote three middle-grade non-fiction books: Internet For Kids, Make Your Own Web Page, and How To Find (Almost) Anything On The Internet. Internet For Kids was a big success, with three revised editions and twelve foreign language versions. He's the sole author of The Rosenberg Espionage Case.

After high school where he grew up in Los Angeles, Francis had one dismal semester at a junior college, and then enlisted in the Army. He became a military policeman and served in Poitiers, France, falling in love with the country, taking his discharge there and traveling around Europe (including running with the bulls in Pamplona) until his money ran out. He attended the University of California, Berkeley and became active in the civil rights and anti-war movements, still managing to earn a BA and an MA in English lit ("the major of choice for wannabe writers"). Francis is married to Phyllis, a former music teacher and active viola player. They have a son, a daughter and one grandson. They live in Joshua Tree, California.

Author links:

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

Win a $25 Amazon gift card.
Open Internationally until the 28th February.

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Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Francis Moss / Dystopian fiction / Books from America


  1. What an intriguing premise! I hadn't heard of this one before, so thanks for sharing.


    1. Looks like a fascinating idea for the novel :-)

  2. Thanks for being on the tour! :)

  3. That sounds different and interesting.

    1. Having an autistic lead character I think could make this quite an unusual novel

  4. I have read quite a few books with autistic main characters and as their minds work so differently from my own it always intrigues me to get into their perspective.

    1. I'm soon going to be reviewing a book about female autism - Camouflage by Sarah Bargiela - and, while I've never identified with male autistic fiction characters, much of the information in that factual book looked weirdly familiar :-/