A MelanieM Review: Lucky (Twirled World Ink #4) by J.M. Dabney


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


Welcome to Twirled World Ink where the crazies run the asylum.

When someone was asked to describe crazy, if they knew Lee “Lucky” Trenton they’d point at him. Accident prone and without a filter of any kind to tell him to shut up before he says something inappropriate he’s no one’s idea of a perfect partner. Growing up with parents who subscribed to a philosophy of Radical Honesty Lucky and his siblings were doomed from the womb. Lucky found a home away from home at Twirled World Ink, but he didn’t just find a place to belong. He’d found Priest.

Matthew “Priest” Beall ran away from his judgmental family the second he’d earned the money. He’d come in search of Gib Phelps a legend in the tattoo industry. If you wanted to learn the craft, then Gib was the man to beg an apprenticeship with, and he’d begged. Priest might have left the violence of his past behind, but when he closed his eyes it came back to torture him. The only place he felt safe was when his best friend Lucky let him sleep in his arms. He wanted more, but he didn’t think he deserved it.

Priest left his family behind without regret only to find a new one with the crew of Twirled World and the super weird Trenton family. Could he grab onto his new life or would the memories of the past ruin the happiness he’d gained?

Among tortured souls, Priest is up there among the top of J.M. Dabney’s abused characters.  A gentle, sweet bear of a man, he’s been one of the walking wounded for three books now and with Lucky’s story we get his.  In every series, every novel, Lucky and Priest almost devolve into one word because to get one is to get the other.  It’s been that way from the moment Priest stepped into Twirled World Ink and felt safety within the friendship and arms of Lucky.

Lucky and his family are so far outside any box of definitions that I can’t begin to imagine how J.M. Dabney cobbled them together.  They blow my mind in a totally great way.  From mother and dad to Lucky’s siblings, dress, house and the Radical Honesty (absolute openness about sex) that the family practices, this is a family that makes an indelible impression.  On the readers and on Priest.

What happened to Priest is not addressed in details outright, thankfully, but it’s impact on him emotionally, mentally, the nightmares, inability to sleep etc., is dealt with in a sensitive and responsible manner.  There is no instant miracle recovery, but therapy and respect for Priest’s boundaries which I thought authentic and made me love this story more.

It had to be included in any move forward in a relationship between Lucky and Priest and it was.

Lucky too has a few obstacles to overcome in his pursuit of Priest, and he needs advice and support from his family, and “crew” of friends all around him who care just as much for Priest.  That’s the thing about these books, it is a tapestry of characters that you’ve come to love.  They come together for each other in everyone’s novels, none of them feeling like a secondary cast member, but full fledged believable person.  Violent yes, a bit on the psychotic side at times, damaged, wonderful men.  And now their kids and partners.

I loved seeing Lucky and Priest get their HEA.  It was a wonderful, heartwarming story.  It ends the first series and with Twitch and Crave dancing around here sort of launches us into the Brawlers series that follows it.    I highly recommend this story, this series, and all the wonderful series that follow it.  Check them all out below.

Cover art by Reese Dante can do no wrong.  That’s Lucky to a T.  Perfect!

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 152 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
Edition Language English
setting Powers, Georgia(United States) 

A VVivacous Review: The Boy Who Fell to Earth by A. Zukowski


Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

One Day. A body dumped in your front yard. A breathing body. A living one.

As Jay and his mother try to figure out what to do with the obviously injured boy dumped in their yard, a connection is forming, a connection that is going to change the course of their lives because it takes less than one day to change your life forever.

Sasha has no idea why Jay can’t leave him alone but getting to feel loved was something he never thought would happen for him. Now the question is can Sasha turn his life around and be who Jay wants him to be? And does he even dare to be who he wants to be?

I felt numb after reading this one. This was a difficult one to read but despite the pain, I somehow still couldn’t let go of the book and read it almost continuously till the end.

This book is one that improves as it gets further along. Initially, when I started the book, the characterisation of Jay felt a bit unnatural, he seemed, acted and behaved innocently in situations of which he shouldn’t have been innocent of, but I feel like this is a bit of a deliberate misguide. For you see when the story starts off Jay is only fifteen but he thinks of himself as almost sixteen so I kind of thought of him as a sixteen-year-old in my head. God knows why but sixteen seems way bigger than fifteen, bigger than the one year difference would imply. In hindsight, Jay’s behaviour makes sense but initially, I really couldn’t believe the fact that he was as innocent as he claimed to be.

One of the biggest problems I had with this book which was thankfully only confined to the beginning of the book was Jay’s statements of Sasha not being a victim, like, oh he was no victim. I felt like the way the sentence is framed makes it appear like being a victim is a bad thing and that just had me very wary because it seemed to come really close to victim blaming. Either because Jay is really immature in the beginning and he does grow up towards the end, these statements don’t find any place later in the book.

Sasha is a much easier character to love. He is troubled. He is homeless, addicted and soliciting to fund his addiction but for reasons unknown I got him. I got who he was and why he was the way he was and even when he went back, I could never find a fault in his character. He just spoke to me. While Jay, on the other hand, took some getting used to, he starts off as really immature and naïve but I liked his character’s journey and it was nice to see him grow and really flourish. One of the best things about Jay would have to be the fact that he never gave up on Sasha no matter what he did and I felt like something like that is probably the strongest thing to help you heal even though you eventually have to realise that you need to fight this fight for nobody but you.

The way this story is written makes for a very compelling read. I read this book in stretches stopping only for work because I found myself invested in Sasha from the very beginning. I really can’t understand the almost instantaneous connection that Jay forms with Sasha which is the catalyst for all the events in this story but somehow it still makes sense in context with the story. I was really invested in these two characters by the end of the story because reading that epilogue imparted a sense of peace to me.

I feel like this is a very worthwhile read even if it gets too painful at times, it leaves you with a sense of peace.

Cover Art by A. Zukowski. I love the cover for this book. Firstly the picture is amazing and I love the font choices for the cover. Secondly, it really works in the context of the book, the cover really compliments the story inside.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Published April 2017 by Smashwords (first published March 31st 2017)
Original TitleThe Boy Who Fell to Earth
Edition Language English
settingLondon, England (United Kingdom)


An Alisa Review: The Undefendable (The Vampire Court Chronicles, #1) by Suede Delray


Rating:  3 stars out of 5


Welcome to Vampire Court, where nothing is as it seems, where justice is swift and severe for the guilty, and the rules are not to be broken.


Meet Winter, a gorgeous, human-despising vampire accused of mass murder. Winter hides a secret that could clear him of the charge, a secret he fights to conceal. If known, it would be worse than the murder charge he faces.


Meet Dustin Belmont, fresh out of law school. He is also struggling, trying to jump-start his career, unable to turn down this job offer, no matter how weird these people seem.


Dustin is trying to wrap his head around who or what his new client is. Forced to spend a week at The Source, the bizarre vampire mansion preparing his case, Dustin will have loads of time to get to know his disagreeable, uncooperative client. But can Dustin even defend the gorgeous Winter when what he has done appears to be clearly undefendable?


This story wasn’t quite what I was thinking it would be but it was very interesting and took a while to really get going.  Winter isn’t quite as he seems and not what he has always known.  His family history has been kept from him his entire life and now it is coming for him.  Friends and Dustin are going a long way to help and support him as he tries to stop his brother.


Winter doesn’t understand the changes going on in him body and isn’t sure who to trust.  He ends up having to trust Dustin to try and save him but ends up trusting him with more.  Winter has been very lonely, with the vampire’s rule that they can’t have lasting relationships with humans he has not had any consistent companion for a long time.  I could feel Dustin’s confusion with this new world he is thrust into and his complete disbelief in the beginning, it takes him having to actually see it all happening for him to open up his mind to the world around him.  I am interested to see how this series continues and what will happen with these characters.


The cover art by Martine Jardin is nice and gives good visuals of the characters.


Sales Links: Amazon | B&N


Book Details:

ebook, 156 pages

Published: October 13, 2017 by Extasy Books

Edition Language: English

Series: The Vampire Court Chronicles #1

STRW Author And Series Highlight: J.M. Dabney and her Linked Series


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Author J.M. Dabney

(Twirled World Ink, Brawlers, Executioners, and Trenton Security)

My first introduction to J.M. Dabney was through the story Ghost (Executioners #1) by J.M. Dabney.  It revolved around a young brutalized woman, Harper Sage and Gideon Jane,  an enormous mountain of man transplanted to the small town of Powers, Georgia.  The author was totally unfamiliar to me, but the elements of the blurb called out to me.  The location of a small town in Georgia for personal reasons, and then the haunting character of Harper Sage, an abused transgender woman who in many ways stood in for the local transgender women recently killed in this area.  This was a story that I just couldn’t turn away from.  And from the moment, I entered the J.M. Dabney universe that the location Powers, Georgia is the focal point for, I was both a captured and  committed fan.

Harper Sage was my introduction to J.M. Dabney’s ability to create incredible authentic people who bleed off the page.  The author got under this character’s skin, crawled through her psyche, and let us know what had brought her to this broken emotional state, and how much resiliency she had left in her to allow her to recover to learn to love herself and Gideon.  Dabney brings alive not only Harper’s intensity and yes, delicacy while remaining true to her choices as a transgender woman, but then  she went into the mind and heart of Gideon Jane, a musician in the band Executioners and organic farmer.  At points in this story, the reader feels as emotionally wrecked as the characters, drawn up into their lives and the small town dynamics.

There is violence in a Dabney story.  These people have been subjected to unbelievable abuse, and her characters are often violent, brutal, and borderline psychotic in return.  Their past, their upbringing has made them so, and the author doesn’t shy away from that fact.  Pain, anguish, brutality, it’s all there but it’s also offset by a deep love found by the characters who get their HEA.

So by the end of Ghost, I knew I had found something extraordinary.  J.M Dabney had created not just an incredible love story, but characters so memorable that I can see them and hear them so clearly even now.  Harper and Gideon were also surrounded by characters that resonated with me with the same impact that they had, one of which Joker was the next story in the series.  Joker is another man abused, hardened and brutalized by life.  And my second story by the author.  Into it I dove and found another astonishing tale of heartbreaking abuse, torture, and finally, if not recovery, then the ability to let someone in enough to find love.

From two novels, I then found out that Executioners was the third in a group of connected series.  Be still my heart.  I had a journey to go on!  Back to the beginning series and the original men, couples, and location that started it all, and the series that links the two.  That would be Twirled World Ink (#1), Brawlers (#2), and Executioners (#3).  What an incredible narrative journey it’s been…to see all the characters that have filled the stories, seen their growth, as well as the town’s evolution, and know there’s still more to come. .

I wanted to share my discovery of J.M. Dabney with our readers as well let them in on where this linked series are going.  Welcome, J.M., thanks for agreeing to answer Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words author interview questions.  Your characters and series have me captivated by their gritty tales and small town location,  I know I need to know more.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with J.M. Dabney

Characters.  All or most of the men in your series, from the first Twirled World Ink right up to Joker (so heartbreaking) in Executioners are men who have been abused, violent, hardened by their life experiences, and have expressed little hope in finding love until it happens to them.  Usually someone with a past equally painful.  Why these men?  What started you on writing them?    And was there a special inspiration behind Berzerker, the first? Or any of them actually?


To be honest, I like the idea of someone who’s harder to love, those antiheroes/heroines, getting that happily ever after. Finding love in real life or literary form shouldn’t be a color by numbers type thing. It’s like in Japan they have a process of repairing pottery with gold called Kintsugi. I mean, for me I think even the broken can be beautiful. It’s not perfect, but still beautiful. Berzerker came around when I was seriously considering that writing wasn’t for me. The characters I loved weren’t physically or emotionally perfect, so, this big, gruff and hairy guy formed in my head. I said to myself that I was going to write the book. It probably wouldn’t get published, but I wanted to write Zerk’s story. As I was writing Zerk, Trouble popped up, and he was what people would consider the epitome of the romance hero. Tall, blond, and buff, but inside he was broken and I dissected what I thought would be that tragic hero of sorts. To me, they were these amazing men, broken and hardened, sometimes violent, but they needed their other halves. I found the more I typed the more I fell in love with these characters that you wouldn’t typically see in romance. But I’m also a huge believer in body positivity and what better way to show that everyone deserves love then writing these men and women into romance?



Location:  Powers, Georgia:  Why small town Georgia particularly?  My father is small town Georgia boy  as is that entire side of the family who is spread across the state (Americus, Perry, etc.).  I understand the draw but is there a reason you chose it?


Small towns have a colorful history, an eccentricity to them and I’m from Virginia so I typically pick Southern states to base my stories in. As I was writing, I needed a town name and Powers, Georgia it was. I don’t like using real places because I love the challenge of building the world or town from the ground up. I wish the answer was more interesting, but Southern towns and people are where I feel at home. The ones I know best, I guess.


The series starts with the Twirled World Ink Tattoo shop.   I think people are fascinated by tattoos. I know I am as well as the artists, the tattooers themselves.  I have tattoos and i know the, at least for me, slow process in deciding what I wanted and who I wanted to do it.  But why start here?  Did you already have the characters in mind as well as the shop?  


Tattoo Artists are smart, creative, and unique. In my teens, there was this shop that I went to and one of the guys that worked there we could debate anything and I learned a lot about the history of tattoos in that shop in Edgewater, MD. I have several tattoos including a full sleeve. I always loved the process. It’s almost meditative for me sitting in that chair. So, my guys have bits and pieces of every tattoo artist or biker I’ve met in my almost forty years. I love bars and tattoo shops, so I put not just my passion for body positivity into my stories but these places I felt most at home.


Series.  Each series has four books, one for each man.  Has it evolved that way or was that the original plan?


I’ve been asked this before, I absolutely love series, short or long, doesn’t matter to me, but four seemed like a nice solid number. A close-knit group with potential for more, but I’m also an impatient reader. So, some of my decision was to keep the series short with as little wait time as possible because as I said I’m an impatient reader.


The Future:  Reading backwards has been sort of a literary excavation, its been wonderful to get to the beginning of it all.  But I still wish to look forward as will all our readers.  I know there are at least 2 more books in the Executioners series.  Can you tell us about them and the characters involved?  When can we hope to see them?


The Executioners have two more books, King who you see a little of in the course of the series. Unconsciously, I believe I kept him a bit more sequestered for the fact I wanted a bit more mystery with him. Readers see him as a player, but I also highlight his love for his son. It the dichotomy of what allow the readers to see and what is actually happening behind the scenes. Hinting at what is to come, but hopefully surprising them when they finally to read the book. The final Executioners book is Sin & Saint, it’s a menage romance, their man comes in the package of the mature and reserved new Sheriff of Powers, GA. Camden Pelter is strong and dependable, mired down in the challenge of taking over and I gave him the crazy and completely loveable twins. They are exactly what he needs. As for release dates, King should be out later this month and Sin & Saint should be ready for release in December.


Will there be more connected series?  Another after Executioners?


Yes, there will be another connected series, Trenton Security deals with Linus’s Crew. They’re a bit more hardened, some would say I made their pasts darker, but we’re dealing with men such as Livingston who is severely scarred. Some who grew up and aged out of the foster care system. There’s more action in the Trenton Series and I hope everyone loves them as much as the rest of the guys from Twirled, Brawlers, and Executioners. If people have read the Executioners I start bringing the Trenton guys out of the dark and showing the personalities that my readers will meet in the future.


Is there something you would like our readers to know about these men and all these series?  


I would just like the readers who take a chance on my books will see a love that transcends physical or emotional perfection. These are just real people. Guys you could meet in your local bar/pub or even just bumping into one of them on the street. They may be scary, you may want to cross the street, but to me these men are the type you’ll want in your corner when life gets hard. I think they are what shows that true love doesn’t have to adhere to a certain package. As I said earlier, even the broken can be beautiful.


What’s next for J.M. Dabney?


Wow, that’s a hard question, I’m generally a writer of LGBTQ+ Fiction and Romance, but I write across all genres with all pairings including M/F. If anyone ever got their hands on my Work in Progress list they’d think I’m crazier than the characters I create. With the more books that come out they’ll see that I’m all over the place and I hope in the future that I gain more readers who just want to read a great story about a character that might not be your cup of tea, but you love them nonetheless.

J.M. Dabney

Author of LGBTQI Fiction and Romance


About the Author

By day, she’s an introverted cook hiding out in her kitchen in the middle of nowhere Ohio, by night and any free time she may have, she is a writer of mainly LGBTQ Fiction and Erotica. Although. she’s equal opportunity when it comes to telling a story, she’ll even write a bit of straight erotic romance when the mood strikes.

She has been writing for years in old notebooks. At the age of eight, she wrote the worst poem in the history of poetry, but it sparked her love for writing. She reads too much and loves to get lost in other worlds and her favorite stories have to include laughter and having the reader doing at least one double take. Thirty-something, forever restless she uses her stories to ground herself, and find her place of peace.

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter: jmdabney_author






Here’s the series to date.  I can’t recommend these men and their stories highly enough.  If you love hurt/comfort, broken men, and extraordinary tales, then discover the world of J.M Dabney and the town of Powers, Georgia.  There’s still so much more to come.

  • Executioners – third series

Ari of Ari McKay on Fortune’s Slings and Cupid’s Arrows (Lawyers in Love #2) (guest post and exclusive excerpt)


Fortune’s Slings and Cupid’s Arrows (Lawyers in Love #2) by Ari McKay
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art by Bree Archer

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ari of Ari McKay here today talking about their latest release Fortune’s Slings and Cupid’s Arrows.  Welcome, Ari.



Hello everybody! Ari here, of Ari McKay. I’m very grateful to the folks at Scattered Thoughts for having me on the blog today, and to you for reading it!

I’m here to talk about our latest released from Dreamspinner Press, Fortune’s Slings and Cupid’s Arrows. This is a re-release of an older story, and one that we have substantially rewritten from the original. So if you read the first edition of the story, you might be surprised at how much has changed!

The story concerns Dane Coulter, a lawyer who is intelligent, handsome, charismatic… and also under the thumb of his overbearing father, who owns the law firm where Dane works. Dane’s father is one of those nightmare parents that I hope no one reading this has had to deal with. My mother was such a parent, and believe me, it’s not easy to break away when you’ve been raised your entire life to feel that you are subject to the whims of a parent. Dane has been repressed to the point that he denies his own sexuality, and feels that he has little choice when his father pushes him toward marriage in order to provide an heir for the Coulter dynasty.

The one bright point in Dane’s life is his friendship with Cal Monroe. Cal is out, proud, head of a rival law firm and an avowed enemy of Randolph Coulter. Cal is also in love with Dane, though Dane doesn’t know it. Cal has kept his feelings to himself, not wanting to add to Dane’s problems by making Dane feel he’s being pressured into a relationship in order to retain Cal’s friendship and support.

Things come to a head, however, when Cal reads Dane’s engagement announcement in the New York Times. Cal reveals his feelings to Dane, and now Dane finds himself caught between two strong men. The decision Dane reaches about his future and what he does about it… well, that’s what we want to give you a chance to find out!

And now, here is an exclusive excerpt from the story. We hope you enjoy it!

Exclusive Excerpt

Cal spoke briefly to his secretary, then made his way to the elevator lobby. When the car arrived, he was surprised to see Dane inside. He entered quickly, wondering if fate was somehow smiling on his plan. It was one thing for him to confront Randolph, but even better for Dane to be able to see it.

They were alone in the car, and Cal made a sudden decision. He reached past Dane and flipped the toggle that set the car from “run” to “stop”. The elevator abruptly ceased its downward motion.

He regarded Dane for a moment, noting the lines of strain on Dane’s face. Of course Dane often looked stressed, which was another bit of Randolph’s doing. Offering Dane a smile, he stepped closer. “Hey. How are you doing?”

Dane’s answering smile was sweet and shy as he glanced sidelong at Cal. “I’m okay. How about you?” he asked, a hint of worry creeping into his voice.

It was all Cal could do not to drop his briefcase and pull Dane into his arms. Now that he’d told Dane how he felt, he didn’t want to maintain the careful distance he’d kept for the last two years. He wanted to hold Dane and soothe the line from between his eyes, to kiss him and tell him everything was going to be all right. But he told himself that now wasn’t the time; Dane didn’t need another man making demands on him that he wasn’t ready for and might not welcome.

“I’m fine. Preparing for battle,” he said, his smile turning hard. “I’m actually on my way to take on your father. Since you’re here, too, I wanted to warn you, so that you can step back and maintain plausible deniability.”

Dane’s eyes widened in alarm, and he touched Cal’s arm lightly. “Are you sure you want to go through with this? I don’t want you or your career to suffer because of me.”

Cal reached up to cover Dane’s hand with his own, giving his fingers a gentle squeeze. “I absolutely want to go through with it. I’ve not changed my mind, Dane. I love you, and I’m going to fight for you. I’m going to show you that your father can be beaten.”

Dane lowered his gaze and gnawed on his bottom lip. “I hope you’re right,” he said softly. “I’m not sure I could live with myself if something happened to you. It would be my fault.”

“No, it wouldn’t.” Cal moved his hand, running his fingers over Dane’s cheek in a brief, gentle caress. “I’m making this decision, right? You aren’t forcing me, you didn’t even ask me to do anything. By rights, you could even be angry at me for butting into your life. I really hope you aren’t, but either way, nothing that happens is your fault. I meant what I said, Dane. The only thing your rat bastard of a father can do to hurt me is to hurt you.”

Dane looked up at Cal, and although he didn’t seem entirely convinced, he nodded. “I’m not angry. I’m worried. But I know better than to argue when you’re wearing your war plaid,” he said, smoothing his fingertips along the length of Cal’s tie.

“Girdin’ meself for battle, laddie,” Cal replied in an exaggerated brogue. He chuckled. “Don’t worry. I’ve been taking on men worse than your father for years. Speaking of which…” He reached out, and flipped the elevator back to “run”. “He’s on his way back to the office now, and I don’t want to miss him. I just didn’t want you caught in a crossfire between he and I.”

“Should I pretend to ignore you or try not to let Father spot me in the area?” Dane asked.

Cal considered for a moment. “Just ignore me. I’m not your friend anymore, right? I’ll act frosty to you and you can return the favor. All the better to let him see we’re at odds, rather than just having your word for it.”

“He’d definitely want proof,” Dane said, a hint of bitterness in his voice. “He wouldn’t take my word for it.”

“Yeah,” Cal smiled mirthlessly, then glanced up at the floor indicator, which slid from 4 to 3 to 2. “Showtime. I’m hoping I timed this right. He’ll probably have his normal retinue, so there should be plenty of witnesses.”

With a last smile at Dane, Cal turned to the door, then assumed a hard expression, as though he were angry. As the elevator doors slid open he strode out quickly, moving brusquely past people who were waiting enter the car. He didn’t look back to see what Dane was doing, because to his immense satisfaction he spotted Randolph Coulter standing in the lobby, holding court with a small cluster of young men from his firm who seemed to be hanging on his every word. His timing had been just about perfect.



Successful attorneys Dane Coulter and Cal Monroe are rivals in the courtroom and friends behind the scenes. But can they be more?


Cal’s always carried a torch for Dane, but Dane is so deep in the closet, he can’t even admit that he might be gay. His father, a raging homophobe who rules the family with an iron fist, forces Dane into an engagement—to a woman. Dane goes along with it to keep the peace and protect his mother, but for Cal, it’s the last straw.


He can’t let Dane make a mistake that could ruin the rest of his life, and he only knows one surefire way to make Dane admit what’s in his heart. But confessing his feelings to his friend could backfire, driving a wedge between them. And even then, the choice must be Dane’s—to live the life his father wants, or to give up everything he has for a chance at happiness in Cal’s arms.

About the Authors

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.


Website: http://arimckay.wordpress.com

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ari-Mckay/266185570179748

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ari.mckay.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AriMcKay1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6153630.Ari_McKay

Come on, Muse! Give Me a Break By Nancy Stewart (author of Beulah Land) (guest post and excerpt)


Beulah Land by Nancy Stewart

Duet Books, an imprint of Interlude Press
Release Date: November 16, 2017

Cover Artist: CB Messer

Purchase Links:  Duet | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Nancy Steward on her Beulah Land tour. Welcome, Nancy!



Come on, Muse! Give Me a Break 

By Nancy Stewart, author of Beulah Land

What is it about muses? I know they take their work seriously, and yet conjuring up mine can be quite a chore at times.

I almost always search for her at the computer. She’s usually there, but not today. Sometimes she hides in my Favorites List. But not today. How about the Homepage? Nope. One more try my lists of guest posts. Occasionally, she will transform herself into a bright new post from an old one. Today, no such luck.

Not one to give up, I go to the gym. Strangely enough, she hangs out there quite a bit. And usually her gym ideas are good ones, full of life and vigor. She particularly likes the elliptical.  Actually, so do I. But after 25 minutes of trying to coax her to visit, I give up and move to other machines where I’ve never seen her ply her magic. One lives in hope.

On the way home, I stop by the bookstore and congratulate myself on a stroke of genius. She can’t not be there. It’s a muse kind of place, after all. She’s not there. Not even in the Young Adult books section. She’s always in the Young Adult books section. “Getting great ideas,” I usually tell her, but she sometimes rejects that notion.

Ah, well. I give up. I’ve learned there’s no future in sleuthing after a muse that does not want to be detected. So, home I go.

I consider the computer a lost cause, so I opt for a glass of iced tea and a comfy chair. And then, like a tiny bee buzzing in my brain, my muse appears. She speaks of Violette Sinclair, the brave and determined, and single-minded heroine of my new Young Adult novel, Beulah Land. She worries over Junior McKenna, Vi’s best friend, who puts himself in harm’s way to keep her alive in her own home town. My muse whispers the book’s ending to me, then smiles and says she loves it.

My muse is such a tease. But when she gets down to business, there’s no stopping her! Today, I’m only happy she visited, threw out a couple of notions then left me to ruminate. 

What is it about muses? I still haven’t figured out that answer. But though they are fey and capricious creatures, this author is grateful to have one.

If you haven’t met yours, don’t worry!  Give her the time and opportunity to make an appearance. Carry that little notebook. You know. The one that everyone says to take with you?  It’s crucial for dealing for a mischievous muse emergence. Read lots of books, particularly the genre you’re most interested in writing. It’s amazing how she can virtually pop off the page to infuse you with a brilliant idea.

Above all, while you wait for her, keep writing. I’ve found that most muses appear when one writes and writes and doesn’t give up. Taskmasters they may be, these little creatures know their stuff. You’ll be delighted when yours finds you.

Beulah Land Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Vi Sinclair’s roots run deep in the Missouri Ozarks, where, in some areas, it can still be plenty dangerous to be a girl who likes girls. Her greatest wish is to become a veterinarian like her boss, Claire Campbell. Fitting in at school wouldn’t be so bad, either. Only one obstacle stands in the way: She may not live long enough to see her wishes ful lled.

With help from her only friend, Junior, Vi unravels a mystery that puts her in con ict with a vicious tormentor, a dog ght syndicate, and her own mother. Vi’s experience galvanizes her strength and veracity as she overcomes the paradox of mountain life, in which, even today, customs and mores seem timeless, and where a person can wake up dead simply because of being who she is.


“I don’t buy it,” my sister says, after not interrupting for a change. “There’s no way some random guy would be after us. I mean, for what reason? I don’t even know this Dale whatever his name is. You sure, Violette?”

“After listening to his rant? Yes, and that means you gotta be extra careful. I don’t want to scare you crazy. Don’t go places alone. You hear?”

Her gaze shifts away from my eyes, and she gives a tiny nod, but I’m not convinced she believes me or I believe her. “I have a suspicion there are secrets, Jessie, dark ones. And you and me? We’re being dragged in because of Mama.”

She picks up a plastic cat that Seth won for her at the county fair, examines it like it’s a priceless treasure and gently sets it back on the table. “So what can we do?”

“First, we gotta work out the real reason Dale’s after us.”

Jessie puts a smirky smile on me. “He’s after you because you’re not like us. Lots of folks around here’s downright vicious about it.”

I’m gonna ignore her nasty attitude. “Don’t think it’s that simple anymore, Jess. I got a pretty big notion what’s going on circles right back to Mama.”

My sister sighs, gathers her hair in a hunk, and moves it to her other shoulder. “If what you’re saying is true, Vi, we gotta go to the police.”

“Won’t do any good. I hear Sheriff Fletcher’s real close to the Woodbines. Best friends and all. If that’s true, nothing’s going to touch Dale.”

“Then we need to talk to Uncle Gray. With him being the clan head of us Sinclairs, it’s his sworn duty to protect us.”

“Not Uncle Gray. No. Not yet.” “Vi—”

“NO! I can take care of this on my own.”
“Why are you so stubborn if we’re in this much danger, Violette? People in these parts get

dead for a whole lot less than being gay. But since you are and everybody knows it, you got a real head start. You want that?”

“No, I don’t. But Uncle Gray, he’s got no respect or liking for me. Don’t you understand that, Jessie?”

“Yeah, and dead’s dead a long time. And you’re saying my life’s in danger now, so that’s something you should understand.” She flounces her hair back on both shoulders; a punctuation mark for being through with this conversation.

“I’m going out to get some air, Jess.”
She doesn’t answer, even when I slam the front porch door.
A lightning bolt zigzags between Bald Knob and Scoggins Ridge, as I settle on the top porch

step. Thunder growls like those Greek gods we studied battling over some old-timey feud, and a few fat raindrops splat on my head, chilling the tops of my legs.

Jess and Junior are pretty much right about me taking too many risks. I almost wish for once Mama would caution me on that. I long hard for her to love me for who I am. Mama, she always lays heavy on my heart.


A professor of education specializing in Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Nancy Stewart is also the award-winning author of several bestselling books for young readers. The original manuscript for Beulah Land received the 2015 State of Florida Rising Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives with her husband and an adopted Bichon/Shih Tzu pup, Louie, in Tampa, Florida.

Beulah Land will be published by Duet Books on November 16, 2017. Connect with author Nancy Stewart at nancystewartbooks.com and on Twitter at @stewartnancy.