A New World-Contact has Arrived

Happy 2019. I hope you are all having a wonderful new year. Can you believe we are already almost to the end of January? Wow!

This week A New World-Contact has arrived, and it’s already gotten some amazing reviews. Check them out here on Goodreads and here on Amazon. It’s incredible and I couldn’t be more thrilled. As I mentioned last week, I have a lot of virtual and personal engagements planned for the next several months. You can click here for all the details I shared last week.

I wanted to share what is coming up next. Well, A New World-Conviction will be released on March 11, 2019 so you won’t have to wait long for the next book. Find our more about it here. Also, coming out on June 24, 2019 I have my urban fantasy T.A.D.-The Angel of Death. Learn more about TAD here. It will be a busy few months, but I’m excited and it is my hope you will enjoy what I have in store.

I haven’t forgotten about The Calling-Book Two, which has the working title of The Called. I’m getting the first draft finished and as promised this will be the last book of the series, but you never know what other stories will come out of this universe.

Also, regarding my A New World series book three Conspiracy is finished and working through Beta reads right now.

Those are all the current updates I have right now. Next week I’m honored to bring to my Scribble Page author Barbara Russell (find out more about Barbara here), she will talk to us about her current and upcoming books which I can assure you are great reads.

If you have questions please share them in the comments section below. If you want to help me out, please share my website with your friends and family especially if you know anyone who loves Paranormal writing or Sci Fi books remember to recommend me. The other way you can help me out is to leave a review of my books. Reviews really make a difference. Check out Amazon reviews here.

Until next time have a great week.

Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves a Review

Hello Scribblers, I hope you’re all having a great week. Today I’m thrilled to let you know I’ve finished reading Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves.  If you recall a few weeks ago I mentioned I had picked up the book. If you missed that set of scribbles (it was an update) check it out here .Okay, now we’re all caught up it’s time for my review.

It was good.  

There ya go.  Have a great week…

No…

Okay, I’m sure you want more than that.  As I mentioned this was a great book and a wonderful story. I wasn’t sure what to expect when read the story. Well, that’s not true, I had an idea from the blurb and from chatting with the author, but still I didn’t know what kind of writing or story telling I would get. I ended up pleased. The story focuses on the Gallows brothers (Retz and Jarrod) who have not seen each other for at least ten years. Their paths are different until one day their two very different circumstances force them together. All kinds of hell breaks loose from that point forward and we get to learn more about the brothers. Their lives. Their Families. And who or what is pulling the strings. It’s clever and a lot of fun to read.

Graves introduces characters that are fresh and new. Her take on familiar beasts is exciting and new. Unicorns will forever change after you read this story. Regarding her characters what I enjoyed about them were how well developed they were. Graves introduces a Trans character in the story and in the scope of the story it’s no big deal (which I love) this part of the character just is and no one seems to care, which is how it should be. Even the villains in, Bones and Bourbon, were more than mustache twirling generic archetypes (which you all know I love and adore), but for this story it was refreshing.

I would call this a dark fantasy, not horror, but there are some gruesome parts in the book. These scenes are nothing that will cause nightmares, but they offer enough to make you cringe. This is also a story that anyone (by anyone I mean tweens to sassy seniors) can read and enjoy. There is nothing in this story that will set off any reader or enjoyer of Dark Fantasy. 

There was one thing about the story I wish Graves had done a better job with. At one point, the characters are in San Francisco and given how colorful a city San Francisco is I would have liked more time spent on describing the city and showing that unique flare. Graves, and by extension the characters, refer to the Tenderloin and Golden Gate Park but otherwise this location could have been Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, San Diego, or any other city on the waterfront. So that was a little disappointing especially with how grounded the rest of the story was, especially in the settings.

In all fairness, I wish I could give this story a 4.5 but I cannot. So, I’m going to round up and give it 5 stars. This this was a brilliant story by an amazing author.

You need to check out this book!


About the Book:

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Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It's probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.

Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he's got a new job--except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

This day's going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they'll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they'll make it out alive...or sober.

Buy the book here.


About the Author:

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Dorian is the author of the urban fantasy novel Bones and Bourbon, first book in the “Deadly Drinks” series. Are you looking for a novel with body-hopping necromancers, gay relationships and transgender protagonists, otherworldly realms, families of supernatural beings, and the occasional carnivorous unicorn? You’ve found the right book!

Dorian Graves has also written a number of short stories, including “A Taste of Empty” and “The Ragabash Foxtrot,” the two parts of Dorian’s senior thesis, which earned Dorian a BA in English (Creative Writing emphasis) from Mills College in 2014. When not writing and calculating the perfect humor/horror ration in any given story, Dorian can be found exploring the Pacific Northwest, devising increasingly ridiculous World of Darkness campaigns, and listening to more Blue Oyster Cult than is probably sane.

Find her here:
Click here for her website.
Click here for Twitter.
Click here for Facebook.
Click here for Goodreads.

My Review and Thoughts on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Love Simon

Hey Scribblers, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted anything.  Sorry about that.  I got hit by the flu that is going around and between dragging my butt to work and trying to get better I didn’t have the time or the energy.

And of course I pick Tax week (well if you’re in the US) to return. Maybe, I should have stayed away a few more days? Ah well.

Just a quick announcement before we dive in.  This week I will be a guest on WROTE Podcast (check them out here), we are going to talk about marketing a LGBTQ book when it’s not romance or erotica, reminding people that gay is cross-cultural, gender, and economics, and I’ll share some of my own journey as a writer.  It comes out this Friday. I will keep you posted.  

Now let’s jump into this week’s topic. One of the things I did manage to do while I was under the weather was read the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.  I also went to see the movie Love Simon before it leaves theaters.  It was nice to read the book first then see the movie and see what was changed.  

Below is my review of the book and after that I’ll talk about the movie.

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. The book is an LGBTQ Young Adults story.  It’s about Simon a ‘straight’ teen who is struggling with coming out and facing his gayness.  Simon is surrounded by an amazing family, school, and friends.  His struggle is more internal than external.  The book starts with Simon being blackmailed by another student, Martin, who read and took photos of Simon’s email exchange with another gay student only known as Blue.  The story focuses on how Simon deals with the blackmail while trying to navigate his own emotions and his developing online relationship with Blue.

This was a well written story.  It flowed nicely and was a quick read. However, in my opinion, there were many ignored opportunities in the story and I found it missing the mark in many places (his relationship with his family, his standing in school, his relationship with his friends, and even his relationship with his teachers). When the book ended I was left with neither a positive feel for the book nor a negative feel for the book. Maybe, I’m jaded. I don’t know, but what I do know is, this book reflected nothing of what life is like. There was an opportunity here for the writer to dive in deeper to the issues of coming out, what it means to Simon and Blue and what it means to their families, but we got none of that (in a way that is nice, but still not realistic). Perhaps, this lack of realism is what people want when it comes to the LGBTQ community and its youth. I’m not sure. Still, considering how much everyone loves this book I’m probably in the minority with my thoughts.

Basically, this story reads to me like an old ABC After School Special.  Where everything is perfect and by the end the world is changed but life is still great for the characters and everyone could have a nice hug afterwards.

I wanted to fall in love with the characters and I wanted to feel for them, but they all lived in this ideal world were even the drama that was created fell flat for me. I had to ask myself what kind of life did the author live? Did she even know any gay teens, gay men, or gay women? Not even the Blackmailer was very nasty. Did she really live in this wonderful world where everyone reacted the way they should and no one was trying to be mean or hurtful? 

Because I want to live there too.

Regarding the main character Simon. Ugh, here we go again. Simon is this perfect jock type (even though he’s not a jock) who doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer through the underbelly of High School. His friends all adore him as does his family. I loved seeing a well adjusted gay teen character, but he like the rest of this world that Becky Albertalli created was unbelievable. Honestly, I swear, I didn’t want an emo character filled with self-loathing who was being tortured, but it would have been nice to see him based in a little more reality. Ah well.

Overall, I couldn’t believe in the characters or the story.  It was just too impeccable for me and nothing about it struck home.  All this said. I didn’t hate the book I gave it:

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Now, let’s talk about the movie Love Simon.  The writers of the movie took this lack luster book and amped up the drama and tension.  Simon was still this perfect character with the perfect family but when it came to his suffering and drama (even the Blackmail) the reactions seemed so much more real to me.  The characters were kind of what I pictured them to be and the seemly perfect world they all lived in was somehow I little more believable. I enjoyed the character interactions and I even enjoyed how the characters reacted to all the events that unfolded in the story.  The movie, to my surprise, felt more real and honest than the book.  I even enjoyed the ending of the movie more than the book and that really surprised me.

In this rare case, the movie was far better than the book.

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With all this said.  I want to add, that my husband both loved the book and the movie. He didn’t understand why I was just meh on the book.  So, even in my own home I’m on the outside. I will say this for both the book and the movie I’m happy to see that both did so well and became popular, making a big splash in the main stream media. That says a lot. It is something that we should all celebrate.

I would love to hear what you all think of the book and the movie.  Leave your comments below and tell me how far off I am. I don’t mind, I’ve been on the outside a lot when it comes to movies and books.

Until next week have a great week.

Five Money Saving Tips for the New Year and a Writing Update

Since it’s the New Year I thought we could all use some money saving tips. So here are ten of my favorites:

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1. Cook instead of eating out.  Considering how expensive it is to eat out, try cooking at home more.  It’s cheaper and you are eating more healthful especially since you know what you are cooking and what you are putting into it.

2. If you have direct deposit with your job have them take a hundred dollars from your paycheck and have it sent to a Credit Union or your savings account.  If you don’t have direct deposit have your bank do an automatic withdrawal from your checking account and putting it in your savings account on the same day you are paid. And if you want to be really old school put twenty dollars a week in an envelope and keep it put away.  Regardless of how you do it the money is gone so you won’t miss it and you’ll be surprised at how quickly it adds up.

3. If you like movies go on cheap nights.  Most theaters note only offer matinee pricing but usually once a week, typically a Monday or Tuesday the tickets will be about half the cost of what they would be on a Friday or Saturday. 

4. Along with cooking at home, double your recipe so you have leftovers to take for lunch.  If you can save the $10 for lunch each day that is about $200 a month you are saving. Even if you don’t like, or have leftovers, make a sandwich and take a piece of your favorite fruit, it’s a lot cheaper than eating out everyday.

5. This is a big one.  Make your coffee at home before you go to work and take it in a travel mug.  You can still go out of your Starbucks once in a while but at $5 (on average) for one Starbuck’s coffee the cost adds up.  It’ll surprise you how much you can save even if you just cut out one or two Starbucks a week.

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Bonus. Buy what you can in bulk; laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, meat, cheese, cereal, milk, coffee, etc. These are things you’re going to use and when you buy them in small amounts can cost you a lot, but in bulk it will save you money.

These are all tips that Eric and I use (with the exception of the coffee we don’t drink coffee) and we’ve saved a lot of money.  It won’t make you rich, but it will sure help keep the money in the wallet. If you have any tips, share them below.

Writing Update:

What a busy start of the year I’ve had.  As you all know I had my book launch for The Calling this month and had an amazing write up in the San Jose Mercury News (click here for the article).  I also, had my first ever Blog Tour thank you to IndiGo Marketing.  If you want to check out each days stop, click on the day below:

Day One: The Blogger Girls
Day Two: Love Byters Reviews
Day Three: Queer Sci Fi
Day Four: Divine Magazine
Day Five: The Novel Approach

I also took some much-needed time off.  Eric and I went down to Disneyland for a week.  We hung out with some family and some amazing friends. It was a great break. Here are a couple fun pictures from our trip if you want to suffer through and check them out.

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While I was on vacation, I got to finish The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky Book 1) by J. Scott Coatsworth.  Its a wonderful story and such a joy to read.  If you want to check out my review of the novel click here.  This is a must read if you love Science Fiction.  It has something for everyone. Buy it here.

For a quick writing update I wanted to share that, at this moment my publisher is evaluating A New World – Contact and I’m hoping to have more information on that soon.  I’m also working on book two of my New World Series and I’m over a three-quarters of the way through.

Which means, I’ll be working on the sequel to The Calling in the coming months. I have the second book outlined and I’m working on the finer points of the plot, but that doesn’t mean everything is set in stone.  So if there something special you would like to see in book two of The Calling now’s your chance to weigh in.  You can make your suggestions below in the comments section.  Please try to avoid spoilers. Let’s have a little fun with this.

Until next week have a great week.

Review of, Disease by Hans M. Hirschi and a Book Announcement

This week I want to share my review of, Disease by Hans M. Hirschi.

Disease by Hans M. Hirschi is as beautifully written, as it is heartbreaking.  This is not a lite fun read that you pick up on vacation to relax.  This is a story to make you think and feel.

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Disease is about one man Hunter MacIntyre who has recently been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.  He decides to keep a journal of his disease as a means to hang on to his memories. But the story isn’t only about Hunter it’s about Ethan and Amy (Hunter’s husband and daughter) Ethan, Hunter’s partner, also tells the other side of the story addressing sections of the journal that Hunter has written.  At first this is more about context to explain how he found the journal. However, as you move through the story and Hunter’s disjointed thoughts and memories Ethan’s interjections becomes more about telling the reader what is really going on as Hunter get’s worse.

As I mention this is heartbreaking story, but so powerful and wonderfully written that anyone who has a loved one who is suffering with Alzheimer should read it. The author paints a real picture of how this awful disease not only affects the individual with the disease but their entire family.

I love that Hans, took this painful topic and showed it to us through the eyes of a LGBT family, especially since this story takes place prior to Marriage Equality becomes legal in the United States.  This is important part to the story, as the couple has to consider all the legal ramifications that could affect their family. It’s painful to think about, and read, just how terrifying this reality has been for many people.

If you’re looking for a break from fantasy, romance, Science Fiction, or whatever definitely check out this story. Be warned you’re going to need a lot of Kleenex and you may want to take a few breaks to hug your kids and call your parents.

Get your copy of, Disease here.


About Hans:

Hans is an author who writes about things that are important to him: family, parenting, children, the environment, the world. Contemporary, fresh fiction with unconventional, hopeful or happy endings.  He’s married to his husband Alex and together they have a beautiful four-year-old son, Sascha. He considers himself a citizen of the world, having lived on two continents and traveled extensively. When he’s not writing, he likes to do public speaking or training (where he has his professional background).

You can find more about Hans here


This week I would also like to share the news that my new short story, A Dragon for Christmas will be released on Dec 18th. It’s already getting some great reviews so check it out.

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On Amazon find it here
On NineStar Press find it here
See some of the early reviews on Goodreads here


I'm hoping at some point to have Hans here for an interview.  So keep your eyes open.  Otherwise, have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be kind to one another. 

Book Review and Interview with Author Ambrose Hall

Happy Wednesday everyone. This week I’m excited to do another author interview and book review.  This week I’m welcoming fellow author Ambrose Hall.  I’ve known Ambrose a few years back now and I’ve finally got him to come over for a quick chat.  So, let’s jump right in and not waste any time. 

Ambrose welcome.  I’m happy you could swing by and do this interview. Please give us a quick introduction to yourself.

I’m a writer based in the UK. I mostly write speculative fiction with queer characters.

That was quick.

Too, quick?

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Nah, it’s all good.  We have a lot to cover so let’s move into the good stuff.  Gods and Insects is the second book in your City of Ash Series.  It’s definitely a dark series but it’s also got a wit about it that I’m loving.  There are even hints of romance to it.  What made you pick this kind of series to write?

I’ve always loved vampires, but I’d never planned to write them, then a friend in one of my writing groups proposed a vampire writing challenge for Hallowe’en. I started with a short story, but it caught my imagination and I ended up with a short novella, told from five different points of view. I think vampires can be a great way to explore all sorts of facets of human nature. I started with the question: if you had eternity, what would get you through? The title of the first book, Love is the Cure, is somewhat ironic, as some of the characters end up on very dark paths believing that love is the thing that will get them through.

But you’re not a cynic about love. So, how did that work?

I wanted to explore all sorts of relationships, not all of them healthy. It’s a gothic story, so I wanted to show the heights and depths of emotion. And I’m a bit of a goth, so I can’t help falling to the dark side.

So, the idea of a dark vampire story fits you like a glove?

Ha, pretty much.

Asher, the main protagonist, has changed quite a bit from the first book in the series to this one.  Honestly, he wasn’t so likable in the first book. So, what can you tell us about his character growth between, Love is the Cure, and, Gods and Insects?

He’d led a very ordinary, sheltered existence in a comfortable middle class suburb and been good at sport. The only thing that had ever conflicted him was his sexuality and he’d kept that in the closet and pretended to himself it was just a phase. When he was faced with vampiric life, particularly the violence of his creator, Kerrick, it really traumatized him and he was completely overwhelmed.

He was a bit of a mess in the first book. Understandably so, given what happen to him.

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Yes, so by Gods and Insects, he’s trying to find his own way, but he’s lost and lonely and still following mortal patterns of behavior. When two more experienced vampires come along and offer him a home and protection, it seems like a good deal. The hardest thing for Asher is, even though he’s quite naive, he has a strong sense of right and wrong. In Gods and Insects, I wanted to explore what it would look like for someone like Asher to fall from grace. I also wanted to explore identity and how that’s shaped by our experiences, including the more traumatic ones.

Well he certainly was a new man by book two and I really liked how he grew between books.  I think it served him and the story well.

Thank you.

Now, I can see at least one more book in the series with how you ended this book (and thank you for giving it a proper ending and not having it end on a cliffhanger).  How many books are planned for this series?

It’s going to be a trilogy. The third book will be from Nico’s point of view. He’s a character who appears halfway through Gods and Insects. He’s trans and I wanted to tell a story with a trans main character, as I am. He’s also quite different from most of the other characters as he’s very much of the modern world, he’s much more in touch with his emotions than any of the others, and he has quite a different outlook. Unlike Kerrick and Asher, he’s also not a fighter.

Nico, was very different from all the other characters and I really like the contrast.  Honestly, he surprised, in a good way. It was this breath of fresh air and kind of highlighted everything that is ‘wrong’ with the other characters.  If that makes sense.  He’s also one of my favorite characters in this story.

He was, also, one of the favorite characters from the second book, from feedback I received, so he seemed like a good choice. The third book will follow his story, with the vampiric war continuing in the background and his growing relationship with Asher. All the books have looked at power dynamics, in and out of relationships, and the nature of power is going to be a big theme in this final story.

Without giving much away, I enjoyed the ending of this book.  You could have gone very dark, but you didn’t.  You kind of ended the book as I thought you would a middle ground was reached.  Was that your intention?  Not to have an overly dark ‘end of the world’ feel to the ending.

Gods and Insects is a tragedy for Asher, but in the sense that he embraces more of his vampiric nature. But he’s only at the start of that path. But there are still others in Asher’s life, particularly Kerrick and Nico, who have their own way of doing things. Nico is still very young and very human and he connected to the good in Asher. Kerrick is more violent, because he was raised in a violent time and had a traumatic start to life, but he’s also very caring and protective of Asher, as his child. Inevitably, there will be some conflict between those different paths. 

You and I both love vampire stories and we have a totally different take on vamps.  What made you pick the darker more sinister type of vampire?

I’m a bit of an irredeemable goth, really. I’ve always liked things dark. I grew up in a crumbling old Victorian mill town in the north of England, which may be partly to blame for my aesthetic tendencies. I wanted my vampires to be monsters – not mindless monsters, because that’s not the type of monsters vampires are, but still monstrous in some sense. I find the idea of human monsters fascinating. I suppose growing up as an outsider makes me more aware of the hypocrisy of mainstream society and the way that power is exploited. Violence and abuse of power are often not far from the surface, even in modern times. My own trauma tends to leak into my work. I often write quite dark, brutal dynamics between my characters and I like to push them to the edge. But I also want to honor the gothic tradition of exploring all the taboo things that lurk under the surface, so my vampires are dark but also sexually charged. I think the intersection between sex and horror is a challenging one and keeps readers on their toes. 

I know you have other stories in the works, however, I want to know about your City of Ash Series. When can we expect to see the next book?  Also, what else do you have in the works?  What can we look forward to seeing in the future?

My working title for the third book is Kill Your Kings. Hopefully that gives you a flavor of what it will be about. All the characters from the first two books will have some continuation of their story, though it will all be from Nico’s point of view, who is a seer from a very unusual bloodline. I’m writing it at the moment, so I hope to have it finished in the first half of next year.

And other works?

I’ve also been working on a 1920s horror story in the Lovecraftian tradition, which needs a final edit before I try to find a home for it.

I’ve recently been experimenting with sharing shorter fiction on Medium, so you can read some of my flash fiction on there. Click here.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community how important is it for you to represent our community in your work?  And as an author what is your responsibility to show all communities not just the LGBTQ+ community?

I tend to have LGBTQ+ characters in all my longer work. Like you, I want to write genre stories with LGBTQ+ character. Not just coming out stories, or romance, but also horror and science fiction and fantasy. I think being able to see ourselves in the stories around us is a really healing, self-affirming experience. For me, growing up in the 80s, there were a few indie films with gay characters, but in speculative fiction and film it was more often the bad guys who looked more like me. Being bi is often associated with evil and deviance in popular media, and obviously all villains are British. (Maybe that’s where I got my taste for black clothing from.) From quite a young age, I picked up the idea that I couldn’t be the hero in a story. Whilst I’m now always going to be cheering for the supervillains, I hope that younger generations get to grow up with a different message.

Nicely said. 

Thank you. Also, I’ve been working on my first romance, with a trans man as the main character. Trans representation is really important for me, and there’s not a huge variety of stories out there right now. I want to show that trans people don’t have to fit gender stereotypes, any more than anyone else, and have a little fun with a sex positive story. I’m playing around with Robin Hood folklore, which I loved as a child. Probably the last time I identified with a hero. I’m also experimenting with happiness and healthy relationships. Strange territory for me. The main character has a disability, so I guess I am conscious of wanting to include people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Although I’m also conscious that I’m not always the best qualified person to tell a particular story.

Well, I think your stories are amazing and I’m thrilled that I’ve gotten a sneak peek at both your 1920s story and your Robin Hood story.  I can’t wait to read them once they are finished.  Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I’ve had fun answering your questions.


About Ambrose Hall

Ambrose Hall is a speculative and literary fiction writer who currently lives in the South East of England. Ambrose originally comes from Bradford, in West Yorkshire, where he was infected with gothic decay and went mad on a moor. You can find his blog here  You can buy, Love is the Cure and Gods and Insects here


Review, Gods and Insects:

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Ambrose Hall, has written the second book in his, City of Ash Series. It’s a dark gritty vampire story, but these vamps aren’t your typical vampires they are dark and monstrous, but not mindless killing machines.  They have desires and dreams.  The second story follows Asher a newly turned vampire who is coming to grips with his new reality.  When we meat Asher in the first book, to describe him as a mess would be an understatement, but in book 2, Gods and Insects, he’s come into his own. Well, somewhat.  This story is about his growth and him finding his way.  I think it’s something that everyone can relate to.  Where do we fit in and we make a place for ourselves?

Even with the proper ending to Book 2, I’m looking forward to the next book so we can see how everything that has been set up in both books will play out.

Gods and Insects, is a dark novel with a bit of a goth feel to it.  It’s a great read and the characters are wonderful. Great care has been taken to give each character their own voice.  It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth checking out.

October Book Reviews

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting caught up on my book reading list and I have two great stories to share with you this week.

First, I read a short story by author J.B. Reynolds, What Friends are for, it’s a wonderful short story.  Check it out here.

It’s the fourth book in his, Crossing the Divide Short Story Series, but you don’t need to know the series to enjoy the book.  The story is about two moms who don’t know each other very well. They come from different walks of life and have different backgrounds providing for a great contrast. They spend an afternoon together and learn a great deal about each other. It’s excellent.  I provided a full review here.

Second, I read, Gods and Insects, by author Ambrose Hall. Check it out here.

This is the second book in his, City of Ash Series.  It follows Asher as he comes to terms with his new life as a vampire.  It’s a dark story, but still an excellent read and I highly suggest picking it up.  However, you’ll want to read book 1, Love is the Cure, so that you are familiar with the characters. Both books are excellent.

I don’t have a review posted of, Gods and Insects, because I’m hoping to convince Ambrose to stop by. I want to do an interview with him and talk about the book and this series.

Have a great week and let me know if you have any books I should read. I can’t promise I’ll read it right away, but I’ll add them to the reading list. 

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Book Review and Interview with Author F.E. Feeley, Jr.

This is something new.  I’m doing a two for one combo today.  I will be discussing ‘When Heaven Strikes’ with the author of the story F.E. Feeley, Jr. 

Please give us a quick introduction to yourself?

My name is F.E. Feeley Jr I’m the author of the Memoirs of the Human Wraiths Series, as well as the author of several short stories, Indigent, The Scarecrow, Between Us, My Final Blog featured in Gothika 5, and poet. 

‘When Heaven Strikes’ is your newest book. It’s not your typical romance piece (even one of the character’s mention how not all relationships are like a romance novel, which I loved by the way.). What made you pick this kind of romance to write about?

I like to write about things that scare me. I usually write about ghosts and spooky things. Yet, when confronted with the idea of writing a contemporary romance, I realized just how scary love really is. I mean, think about it, we go through our entire life with this narrative of who we are in our heads. Then we meet someone and for the first time in our lives, or the fifth time depending on how you handle the situation, we see ourselves through the lens of someone else. Then we realize how imperfect we really are.

That’s scary on a whole other level and learning to navigate all of it and strip away the things about you—that’s intimidating.

Ted, the main protagonist, has a lot of issues, but that didn’t get in the way of the story (you didn’t make him whiny and tragic) and he still ended up being likable.  Is he based on anyone in the real world?

I was inspired by an artist friend of mine for the work he does. Having zero knowledge of how an artist, or at least someone who draws and paints, actually goes about their craft I winged it. The rest I drew from my own experiences. They say write what you know. Well, I know Ted. I’ve been him. I know Anderson and Josiah and I know Jeff. I’ve been him, too. 

Going back to your artist friend, does he know he was, at least a little, the model for Ted?

Yes, I told him. I haven’t heard back however. I hope he likes it.

I’m sure he will.

Now, I thought the ending of the story was amazing.  You could have gone very dark, but you chose not to (which I’m happy about), was this always the plan from the start? 

Actually no. I was going to go extremely dark to represent the generational gap between Jeff and Gary and Ted and Anderson as figureheads of literature regarding gay men. Yet, when it came time to do it, I just couldn’t. One reviewer complained about Jeff and Gary’s Happy Ever After because of who he was as a person and what he’d done. First of all, I don’t believe in Happy Ever Afters. It’s a false thing we sell people in hopes of profiting off their desire for it.

I wanted this story to reflect life. Jeff and his wife were a twisted pair. The kids suffered because of it. They all did. Jeff, despite the way the story ended, has a long hard road ahead of him.

You aren’t kidding about Jeff and his wife, they are a mess.

But real.

Agreed, with regards to Jeff I was a little surprised with his ending. Do you have any intentions of doing a follow up novel with these characters to maybe explore what happens next?

I may if a story develops. It would mostly depend on the success of this book and if the readers want more.

The underlying tones of this story are abuse and religion, as I read this it felt very personal to me. Is this the case? Do you mind sharing a little about your motivation for writing about such a topic?

Yeah, it’s personal. People have stories. I don’t care who you are, you’ve got something inside of you that holds you hostage on occasion. It was Viola Davis who said, “There is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. The graveyard.” She went on to say, “…exhume those bodies, exhume those stories, the stories of people who loved and lost, who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition…,”.

I have this desire to connect to people through my art mostly out of a deep need to be understood. You know, through all the literature and the lore of ghosts etc. there is one thing that is almost cliché about it all. Unfinished business. Something or someone that causes that spirit to linger. While I am in no way suicidal, there are things that I’ve known that I fear – would prevent me from moving on if I didn’t find a way to work it out.

Religion is supposed to be, and often is, a force for good in people’s lives. Unfortunately, like everything else, it can be manipulated and twisted into a terrible evil – the effects of which are incredibly long lasting. All this current talk about ‘evil Islam’ and ‘radicalization’ from the talking heads and the current administration in the White House – ought to take a closer look in their own neighborhoods. They ought to not worry about the brown skinned folks and take a good long hard look at the conversations we’re having today about race in this country. Find out its origins and find out WHY almost 150 years later – we’re still having this same stupid conversation about rights and equality. Here I’ll give you a clue, Bob Jones Sr. vs The United States. 

You paid a lot of attention to your secondary characters such as Anderson (although he felt more like a second main character to me) Eleanor, Josiah and James. Was that the goal from the start? To have strong well-rounded characters or is that just how it worked out?

I wanted people to experience Ted from multiple points of view. Ted was Anderson’s great love. Eleanor saw him as a gifted artist. To Jeff, Ted and his ‘lifestyle’ was a threat to the tenuous grasp he had on his own reality. Ted was a savior to Josiah. That initial knock on the door was the stone cast into the pond and the ripples that go outward displacing things for better and for worse.

What I loved about this book is that these character felt real to me. Even the setting helped to ground them. They were not the typical ‘perfect’ characters found in gay romance novels was that your goal to make a more ‘every person’ type of character?

There’s an old Rolling Stone song that goes, “You can’t always get what you want, you get what you need.”  I think a lot of the screwed up things that happen in life is when we actually get what we want and find out it isn’t even in the same zip code of what we need. Those things often clash and when they do – it can be a honey. Ted wanted to be left alone. Jeff wanted his life as it was. Yet, their need to experience a connection drove them. Josiah needed his father. He needed to figure out how to deal with the fallout. I think we find ways to simply deal with those parts of us that we’re not necessarily proud of. That is what drove me to write the characters the way I did. People are people and people can be a mess of contradictions.

Now that you’ve released ‘When Heaven Strikes’, what’s next?

That’s the million-dollar question. I have no clue. I have a Steampunk Phantom of the Opera story in limbo, I thought about a Christmas Novella, another ghost story. Who knows. Whichever one jumps up and shouts at me the loudest will be the one that gets my attention.

Personal I think a Steampunk Phantom of the Opera would be amazing. Just saying…no seriously do this.

As I understand it this book was self-published, how was the experience after being traditionally published, any advice or wisdom you can pass on?

This experience was a rough one. Without divulging too much background it was slotted to be published traditionally but at the last moment they decided that I should change some stuff to make it more palatable to the ‘romance reader’. Entire scenes. I said no. So, we withdrew from the agreement and I sought out editors and everyone else. 

My advice to those who want to self-publish who’ve traditionally gone the other way. Buckle up and show up. It’s work. It’s harder than you can imagine. Yet, I think there’s virtue in it. You’ll respect the process more. You’ll respect the work that goes into it, more. And perhaps that’ll keep you from posting your work for 99-cents. 

I’m guessing you’re not a fan of not underselling your work.  What do you think about how authors are willing to sell their work so cheaply and others who give it away? Do you think some of it fits in the realm of marketing and PR?

There is no window to another man’s conscience (or woman’s). I do think it’s a bad practice, however, and I think it hurts just about everyone inside of the writing world.

Think about it, 99-cents for months possibly years’ worth of work. The money put in to create the novel if you’re traditionally published. The inability of smaller presses to compete. The worst part is that then it stops being something that is done once in a while to boost a sale prior to a new release, it becomes expected. People complain over the cost of an eBook at $6.99. That’s a Starbucks coffee, something you’ll enjoy for an hour. A book last’s forever. I don’t see this as a consumer hurting the industry – I see it as other authors hurting their own. Sure - you’ll be an amazon best seller. Yay, you. However, you’ve killed some poor soul out there working just as hard as you are who maybe can’t afford to compete with that. 

Add in Kindle Unlimited (KU) where someone is paid $0.0046 cents per page read IF the book is read in its entirety? Come on. That’s a complete rip off. 

I saw people sharing a blog someone wrote about why she decided to leave KU. It was something a lot of people read and shared and are considering. However, I peeked in at other authors who shared it around and read some of the comments and found some surprising stuff.

First of all, I think a lot of people were shocked.  The Netflix binge mentality is diluted a little bit because of proximity of writers to their readers via social media. It’s hard to look forward to a favorite author’s new release when she/he has to give up and go back to their 9-5. I saw a lot of comments in that frame of mind.

Then I saw comments like, “Yeah, I know KU rips off authors but I wouldn’t be able to feed my reading binge if I didn’t have it.” 

There’s virtue in having to wait for something.

While it’s great authors have this advantage now to publish their own work – I think there needs to be an agreement reached between the writers and the readers saying, “We recognize this work as art and we value art so we’re not going to let you fall victim to the whole ‘starving artist’ cliché.”

As a gay man how important it is to see the full LGBTQ+ community represented in all forms of fiction and media? And as an author what is your responsibility to show this diverse community?

I think it’s important for people to tell their stories regardless of who they are. I think, however, that if a publishing company is in the business of producing a minority group’s stories they damn well better let those people speak their truth.  

Right now there is a monopoly on LGBTQ fiction in the m/m romance genre – and these stories are all being viewed through the lens of romance readers and that’s unfortunate. 

One of the motivations of writing this book the way I did was to show people a reality of modern gay life. There was no antagonistic split, no fallout argument, I met my husband on December first, we went out on a date three days later, and have been together for seven years this December. We broke up for six hours one day. That’s it. 

Together, we have weathered our life with dignity and with determination. 

When I see statements like, “that’s not how people really act” when it comes to these reviews – I can’t help by shake my head. 

That may not be how people in romance novels work- but romance novels aren’t supposed to be reality. I think too often those lines blur and people get confused. 

In your bio you mention you love to cook, what types of foods do you cook?

Yeah, I love to cook. I will cook just about anything. From stuff, I remember my parents making, to things I invented myself, to recipes from friends. I just discovered the joy of Rachel Ray as a matter of fact and so has my waistline.

I love cooking. It’s nourishing, it’s social, it’s sometimes sexy, but cooking and eating and talking over dinner always brings me back to earth. It’s really kind of funny. When someone asks me why I am such a stickler of race and racism – I tell them because I’m hungry. 

If I don’t like you – I won’t eat your food. I won’t break bread with you.

That’s why I think food can help resolve a lot of old anger and disputes.

I want to eat with you. I want to spend time with you. I can experience you through what you make. It’s intimate.

What is your favorite type of food?

Chinese will make me love you.

That being said, I’ll eat just about anything.

You mention you write poetry and I’ve read some on your blog. What is it about poetry (writing it) that you enjoy so much?

I think poetry is beautiful. It’s not something I’ve always enjoyed. As a matter of fact, it seems to be a dying art. I mean, sure, you have angst filled poetry written by teenagers and young adults, rhyming schemes you find on twitter, but real poetry. Real honest to goodness brilliance out there such as The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Gorgeous. I am nowhere near that level of brilliance but writing it is an exercise to one-day writing something worth publishing. 

Do you have any final messages for readers?

Yes. In these times – art is incredibly important. Art reflects life. Support the arts whatever the medium. It saves us all.

For more about author F.E. Feely, Jr. check him out on his website here.


My review for When Heaven Strikes:

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Hearing about this novel from a friend of mine and after reading the blurb I knew I wanted to read When Heaven Strikes.  It did not disappoint.  What we got was a romance novel that didn’t have perfect characters.  These men felt like people I know and have seen around.  F.E. Feeley Jr. does an amazing job creating the perfect setting for these characters to inhabit.

The main character Ted, an artist, has some real life issues that affects how he sees the world without making him whinny or unlikable.  Anderson, a surgeon, despite appearing to have it all is alone and lives in an isolated world he’s created. So when they meet and come together you can see how they actually complement each other.

Given this is a romance the author could have taken the easy road and had them characters have some epic fight or misunderstand and then come back together by the end of the story, but Feeley decided to go in a different direction and to his credit it works amazing.

This is an amazing book with some heavy underlying tones which Feeley doesn’t mince words on.  Definitely worth the read. To bye 'When Heaven Strikes' click here.