In Our Author Spotlight: Brandon Witt, Author of ‘Under a Sky of Ash’ (author interview)

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Under a Sky of Ash

Under a Sky of Ash by Brandon Witt
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist Anne Cain

Sales Links Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Brandon Witt here today to share some insight about his writing, his characters and his latest release, Under a Sky of Ash.  Welcome, Brandon.  Just a few questions….

Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?

Typically from either my own life or the people in my life.  After 16 years of teaching/counseling, the inspirations are limitless. It’s amazing that one moment of my own life or someone else’s can trigger and open up an entire world for a novel. In Under a Sky of Ash, the teaching and my students’ lives were the biggest inspiration. 

Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?

I’m a big planner.  We’re talking notebooks, outlines, character sheets, pictures, family trees, on and on and on.  The reason is twofold, for me.  One, it’s just how my brain works.  I need to be able to see the entire picture to have an idea where I’m going.  I’m very one-track minded, with everything.  I’m not a good multi-tasker. So, planning helps.  Although, my plans typically change as I write the story, but at least it helps to know where I’m going.  Two, I feel like it really helps me know my characters inside and out before I start the story.  Granted, they change and grow over the course of the book, but I have no idea how I’d ever start writing a story about characters I didn’t know.  I’ve heard other authors talk about how they never plan and how they get to know their characters as they write.  I would be completely lost.  But I admire them for being able to do so!

Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

I know this is the wrong answer, but fantasy is my biggest thing (or at least urban paranormal).  However, I’ve always tended to write real life, even though I read more fantasy.  Maybe it’s just using writing as therapy?  Not sure.  Though I do have a fantasy series out and a couple shorts coming in the next couple of months.  As far as romance?  For about six years in Jr. High and high school, I read every Christian Romance novel I could get my hands on.  Yes, you read that right!  (For any of you who had the same sickness, my favorites were anything by Bodie Thoene and The Winslow Series.)

If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?

Oh! That’s a dangerous question. I almost don’t want to answer that one!  However, that answer is easy.  Brooke Morrison, from The Shattered Door.  It was my first novel and over ten years ago now.  He really documents where I was in that moment in my journey out of learn-to-be-straight therapy and my Christian beliefs.  I read that book now and I’m in such a different place than where he is (where I was), it’s honestly hard for me to get through it.  However, that is one of the wonderful things about writing.  It captures the author where they are at that moment.  I’m sure I’ll feel the same about some of the characters now when I look back in ten more years. Ultimately, I wouldn’t change him.  There are many people that LOVE Brooke.  I think I see so much of myself in him that it’s hard to show him the same amount of grace as I do my other characters.

Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

Dear lord yes!  And I’m not sure what this says about me, but, for me, it’s almost always my supporting characters and/or my women.

In The Shattered Door, it’s Maudra.  I’ve even named my Mini Cooper after her.  She’s perfect and I want her in my real life.

In the Men of Myth Series, it’s Sonia. She is so gorgeous and strong and damaged and vicious.  I’m totally captivated by her.

In Under a Sky of Ash, it’s ManDonna. The drag queen.  Writing her was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a character.  I swear she was in the room with me in every scene she was in.  I couldn’t believe the things she said as my fingers typed the words.

If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?

Easy.  Cliché though it may be.  Harry Potter, by JK Rowling.  Those books are and always will be my all-time favorite.

Woke Up in a Strange Place, by Eric Arvin

The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, by JR Ward

Beneath the Stain, by Amy Lane

From the Corner of His Eye, by Dean Koontz

Lonely Heart series, by Heidi Cullinan

Dogwood Days, by Poppy Dennison

How early in your life did you begin writing?

Sophomore year in high school.  All thanks to Ms. Becca Hungerford.  She was the teacher that started it all.  School and reading  (and even more so, math and science) were never easy for me.  I had to work hours and hours each night, often over tears, and then still go in for tutoring.  Ms. Hungerford taught us creative writing.  It was the first time I didn’t agonize over homework.  And she was always so complimentary and kind.  She fostered growth through gentleness and encouragement.  I owe her everything!

Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

As I stated above, reading was hard.  I wasn’t able to really read until fifth grade.  Before then, I only read Garfield and Archies. Then mom forced, FORCED, me to read Mr. Popper’s Penguins and The Secret Garden the summer between 4th and 5th grade.  It clicked and I devoured every book I could find.  I loved Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, Secrets of a Unicorn Queen, anything by Gene Stratton-Porter and Laura Ingalls Wilder, on and on and on.

What question would you ask yourself here?

Is living the life of a full-time writer as wonderful as you dreamed?

Yes!  A billion times yes!  The ONLY draw back is the constant terror of if I will be actually able to support myself with writing and not have it all slip through my fingers.  Other than that, it really is better than I dreamed.  To write every single day?  Unreal.  To life a life that I’ve dreamed of for nearly two decades?  I’m so very, very blessed and I pray that it will last. To hear from and talk to readers who connect with my books and find out they were touched by them or simply entertained?  Absolutely floors me.  I am completely filled with gratitude and hope.

If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?

Custom-Fit Love

Tag-line:  Romance readers beware, this romance has almost everything you hate in your romance novels, however, the two main characters couldn’t be happier.

Thank you, Brandon, this was wonderful.  Please come back and visit us again.

Now read on to discover more about…

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Under a Sky of Ash by Brandon Witt

 

More than a decade after leaving Colorado to attend college and escape his past, Isaiah Greene moves back and builds a life in Denver as a special education teacher. When he meets Ben Woods, the mentor of one of his students, the attraction is immediate. The revelations that they’ve both suffered traumatic childhoods form a bond between them.

Raised by an abusive grandmother, Ben is a recovering addict who has made a family with his construction worker boss, Hershel, and Hershel’s husband, Daniel—drag queen ManDonna. Adding Isaiah to his life gives Ben a glimpse of a future he’d never dreamed possible for himself.

Both Isaiah and Ben are survivors, but when guilt drives a wedge between them, the past threatens to end their relationship.

Ben and Isaiah embark on journeys of self-discovery. Though their path will be difficult at times, humor and love find a way to bring light to the darkness.

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About the Author

 

Brandon Witt’s outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about….

 

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YouTube:  HYPERLINK “https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO5cFqYKyNyDCxExAonFPRAhttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO5cFqYKyNyDCxExAonFPRA

A Release Day Review: MelanieM Review of Dirty Heart by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★

Dirty HeartFinal book in the Dirty Series arc.

Former LAPD detective Cole McGinnis’s life nearly ended the day his police partner and best friend Ben Pirelli emptied his service weapon into Cole and his then-lover, Rick. Since Ben turned his gun on himself, Cole thought he’d never find out why Ben tried to destroy him.

Years later, Cole has stitched himself back together. Now a private investigator and in love with Jae-Min Kim, a Korean-American photographer he met on a previous case, Cole’s life is back on track—until he discovers Jeff Rollins, a disgraced cop and his first partner, has resurfaced and appears to be working on the wrong side of the law.

As much as Cole’s fought to put the past behind him, he’s soon tangled up in a web of lies, violence, and death. Jeff Rollins is not only trying to kill Cole’s loved ones, he is also scraping open old wounds and long-forgotten memories of the two men Cole loved and lost. Cole is sure Rollins knows why Ben ruined all their lives, but he isn’t looking for answers. Now Cole is caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a cold-blooded killer with the key to not only his past but his future.

What a magnificent story!  Even with all the intricacies, cultural layering and mysteries that have flowed through all the stories of the Cole McGinnis series, really none can prepare you for this book.  Its just that powerful and emotionally wrenching.

The big mystery and heartache at the center of this series has been why  Cole McGinnis’s  cop partner on the force and close friend/brother shot Cole and killed his lover.  It was an act of betrayal that Cole never quite recovered from, even with his strong and passionate love for Jae-Min Kim.  Like that saying that all roads eventually lead home, Rhys Ford has been leading Cole and the readers back to the beginning where Cole will find out the answers to the violent action that shattered his life.  This is that book.

Little by little, more things from Cole’s past find him again.  Some are indescribably wonderful and moving, some heartbreaking, and raw.  You never know from page to page which element Rhys Ford is going to serve up, what you can be certain is that it will piece your heart, make you weep with either joy or pain with the believable anguish that Cole is going through, along with his family and loved ones.  There are some devastating events here, sometimes one after another.  After a while I thought I had become inured.

I was so wrong.

Its because Rhys Ford writes so beautifully that her characters resonate so with the reader, as does the pain and emotional turmoil they are going through.  Here emotions, thoughts, even rage that Cole had imagined he had buried rise up, overwhelming him, and the reader in the process.  At parts, the story is so moving, I had to stop reading, because I couldn’t see the Kindle any more through the tears.  I don’t think anything  can prepare you for parts of this book.

The  relationships here are deepened, even more realistic than ever as certain elements are revealed about peoples lives, the comedy that is a hallmark of this author ‘s writing and this series is ever present, a necessary levity when the angst threatens to swamp us and the lives involved.  Clowns and llamas are a perfect pairing and I can only imagine how Rhys Ford saw that.

Rhys Ford is not one to give up the mystery easily.  Its been years in the making so its a heart-racing, white knuckle, fast paced scary race at towards the end. What a shocker!  I did not see that coming, even after all those books, so well done, Rhys Ford.  That was  really a great twist. Then you went on and delivered further. How worthwhile an ending.  Its superb.  Ford really pulls it all together.  First a shocker, then a summation, and then a epilogue that will leaving you giddy with joy.

Dirty Heart (Cole McGinnis #6) by Rhys Ford is one spectacular book. Never has her characters been more nuanced, more moving and real.  The story includes stunning narrative explosions, a conclusion to a convoluted mystery spun over 6 stories and characters that will never leave me.  This jumps to into Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Word’s Top Ten Rec list.  Its February so for you readers still new to the series, you have plenty of time to read through the series before the book comes out in March.  Pay no attention to anyone trying to spoil this book for you.  No no NO!  Its too good a tale for that.  Make sure you pick it up fresh!  But pick it up you must!  Highly Recommended as is the series.

Cover artist Reese Notley does a wonderful job with the cover and branding the series.

Sales Links coming in March

Book Details:

Expected publication: March 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
Original TitleDIrty Heart
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesCole McGinnis #6

Cole McGinnis Series:

A Stella Review: Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton

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Rating:  5 out of 5 stars     ★★★★★

Trailer TrashIt’s 1986, and what should have been the greatest summer of Nate Bradford’s life goes sour when his parents suddenly divorce. Now, instead of spending his senior year in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he’s living with his father in Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and Nate thinks that might be a generous estimate). There’s no swimming pool, no tennis team, no mall—not even any MTV. The entire school’s smaller than his graduating class back home, and in a town where the top teen pastimes are sex and drugs, Nate just doesn’t fit in.

Then Nate meets Cody Lawrence. Cody’s dirt-poor, from a broken family, and definitely lives on the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s dad says Cody’s bad news. The other kids say he’s trash. But Nate knows Cody’s a good kid who’s been dealt a lousy hand. In fact, he’s beginning to think his feelings for Cody go beyond friendship.

Admitting he might be gay is hard enough, but between small-town prejudices and the growing AIDS epidemic dominating the headlines, a town like Warren, Wyoming, is no place for two young men to fall in love.

I have a weakness for Marie Sexton, she is the one who wrote one of my all time favorite characters in the mm genre (Cole from the Coda series). She’s awesome at communicating emotions and a master at writing and plotting activities. She’s left me speechless more than once.

This time around too I have no words to say how much her new release, Trailer Trash, sucked me into its world, leaving me breathless and sleepless. The characters she created were all (unsurprisingly) someone I could soon relate with and love ’till the end and more. Someone I could easily become best friends with.

The story took place in the 1986 in the middle of nowhere.

It’s August, Cody and Nate meet outside a gas station where Nate tries to buy a pack of cigarettes although not eighteen yet and then gives one to Cody. It’s the start of a new relationship. An ostensibly impossible and not recommended friendship between two young men so different from each other but with a beautiful future to share.

Nate’s parents just divorced, he would have preferred to stay in Austin with his mum but he had to follow his dad to a new town. He is planning to stay here only one year, graduate and then leave. School starts in three weeks and he’s looking for someone to hang with. He is frustrated, there is nothing to do in this town, apart from Cody.

Cody grew up in the wrong side of the town. He lives in a trailer with his mum who works as a waitress, they struggle with money a lot. He has nothing in common with the new boy and he already knows he’s going to lose Nate as soon as school starts and Nate will meet the cool guys. What he doesn’t know is that Nate doesn’t like these cool kids, they are surely similar to him than Cody but  there is too much sex, alcohol and drugs and Nate doesn’t fit in all of this.

Nate and Cody are socially the opposite. But they fit amazingly together and the strength of unknown and unexpected feelings will bring them together again after a tragedy wrecked Cody’s life.

I connected with these great MCs from the start, I felt all their emotions in my soul. It wasn’t a surprise, because I already knew the author’s qualities, but I shared a deep care and respect for some of the secondary characters too, especially with their parents and the lovely Logan. He is the only one who had never avoided Cody, on the contrary he offers him to work for his family as a dishwasher. Logan is the first to support Cody whether he is gay or not. He is the best friend anyone would want.

The story hurt a little in some moments, seeing Cody so lonely, Nate’s struggle with his newly discovered sexuality to the point of forcing himself to like girls, the name calling from the other kids, and so much more, tragedy not excluded. All of these gave me a perfect ending. I couldn’t ask for something more. Of course being greedy, I’d love to have a sequel, something set in the present, thirty years later.

I think it’s clear I loved Trailer Trash, it’s emotional, deep and well written, it felt very realistic to me and I want to highly recommend it to everyone.

The cover art by Jay Aheer is marvelous and I’m appreciating this artist style more with every cover I see.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon  those links to follow

Book Details:

ebook, 340 pages
Expected publication: March 21st 2016 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626493952 (ISBN13: 9781626493957)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Murders Afoot with the Return of the Lindenshaw Mysteries in ‘Jury of One’ by Charlie Cochrane

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Jury of One (Lindenshaw Mysteries) by Charlie Cochrane
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iptide Publishing
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it Here

Jury of One is the second in the Lindenshaw Mysteries series. It features a gay Detective Inspector, Robin, whose investigations never seem to run in a straightforward fashion, and his teacher partner Adam who finds Robin’s cases appear determined to involve him. And there’s Adam’s dog, Campbell, who’s desperate to stick his big, black wet nose into everybody’s business.

About  Jury of One

Inspector Robin Bright is enjoying a quiet Saturday with his lover, Adam Matthews, when murder strikes in nearby Abbotston, and he’s called in to investigate. He hopes for a quick resolution, but as the case builds, he’s drawn into a tangled web of crimes, new and old, that threatens to ensnare him and destroy his fledgling relationship.

Adam is enjoying his final term teaching at Lindenshaw School, and is also delighted to be settling down with Robin at last. Only Robin doesn’t seem so thrilled. Then an old crush of Adam’s shows up in the murder investigation, and suddenly Adam is yet again fighting to stay out of one of Robin’s cases, to say nothing of trying to keep their relationship from falling apart.

Between murder, stabbings, robberies, and a suspect with a charming smile, the case threatens to ruin everything both Robin and Adam hold dear. What does it take to realise where your heart really lies, and can a big, black dog hold the key?magnifiying glass with fingerprint

About Charlie Cochrane

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:

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Giveaway

Leave a comment for a chance to win a download of  Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #1) in audio! Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 26, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Lindenshaw Mysteries

Adam Matthews’s life changed when Inspector Robin Bright walked into his classroom to investigate a murder.

Now it seems like all the television series are right: the leafy villages of England do indeed conceal a hotbed of crime, murder, and intrigue. Lindenshaw is proving the point.

Detective work might be Robin’s job, but Adam somehow keeps getting involved—even though being a teacher is hardly the best training for solving crimes. Then again, Campbell, Adam’s irrepressible Newfoundland dog, seems to have a nose for figuring things out, so how hard can it be?

The Best Corpse for the Job (Lindenshaw Mysteries, #1) Charlie Cochrane*

Jury of One (Lindenshaw Mysteries, #2)Charlie Cochrane*

*A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Recommended Story.