Russell J. Sanders on Writing, Characters and his new novel ‘All You Need is Love’ (author interview/Harmony Ink Blog Tour)

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All You Need Is Love by Russell J. Sanders
H
armony Ink Press

Available for Purchase at

Harmony Ink Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Russell J. Sanders here today talking about writing, characters and his latest story, All You Need Is Love. Welcome, Russell.

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✒︎Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Russell J. Sanders✒︎

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think it’s impossible for an author to create a character that doesn’t have some aspects of him/herself. We are products of our own experiences, thus we use those experiences—whether physical or emotional—in our characters. But in my new novel All You Need Is Love, that “putting myself into the character” goes far beyond where I’ve gone before. The main character Dewey Snodgress is I, and I am he. I’m not saying that everything that happens to Dewey happened to me as a teenager. The plot of the book is totally fabricated. But Dewey has so much me in him that I consider the book autobiographical. Like Dewey, I was a soloist in my high school choir, I was an actor with my high school drama group, and I was so sheltered that I barely knew what was going on in the world outside my high school. Also like Dewey, I never met a black person. In my 1960s Texas world, we had no black kids in our high school. They lived across town, and we never had occasion to mix with them. My fantasy of how Dewey meets LuLu is inspired by how I met one of my dearest friends—many years later—a beautiful, wildly funny African-American woman. And adding to the similarity between me and Dewey, I graced Dewey with the same childhood nickname my dad christened me with.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I’ve done both. I have written novels like Special Effect and Colors where I’ve set the story in “today,” and not had to do much but create a story and characters from my own experiences and knowledge-base. Then there’s The Book of Ethan, set in the “now,” but is a book I had to meticulously research in order to create the world of a religious cult. Much of what I wrote is true, some is what I invented based on my research, in order to fuel the plot I wanted to tell. My first book Thirteen Therapists is set in modern-day Chicago, a city I love and have visited many times. But still I needed to do research to get the sense of place I needed. Then there are my historical novels, the current All You Need Is Love and the upcoming (in 2018) Titanic Summer. I did extensive research for both. I wouldn’t have thought I needed to research a story set in the era where I grew up in the town in which I grew up, but All You Need Is Love continuously sent me to experts to check facts or to fill me in on things my brain had lost. My brother, younger, handsomer, and smarter than I, was able to refresh my memories of our childhood neighborhood, while I got invaluable assistance from experts about the Vietnam War and the Texas one–act play contest of the time. For Titanic Summer, I spent hours reading about the famous ship that hit the iceberg so I could re-create that time and experience. Perhaps the novel I’ve researched the most is the one being released in 2019—You Can’t Tell by Looking. One of its main characters is a Muslim-American teen, and I read several books, learning about Islam, so I could get it all right.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

When I was a kid, I read everything. And I do mean everything. My mother, a voracious reader herself, raised me with this philosophy: “If he doesn’t understand it, it can’t hurt him; if he does understand it, it can only broaden his perspectives.” I remember my sixth grade teacher, at the beginning of the year, announced that she wanted us all reading books outside of the classroom, but she wanted to approve of each book. After I took her three or four books I was reading, she threw up her hands and said I didn’t need approval any more. It wasn’t that she felt she couldn’t control me, it was that she trusted that I could read whatever I wanted, and what I wanted to read were often bestsellers written for adults. So my love of reading certainly influenced my choice to become a writer.

As for choosing to write young adult novels, that came about more because of my teaching career. Actually, when I grew up, young adult novel was not a genre. Books with teen protagonists were just books, either young enough in perspective for children to read or old enough in perspective for adults to enjoy. But as a high school teacher, I learned to love young adult novels and love teenagers. I wanted to create books that reflected their experiences and spoke to them, and thus my career writing YA was born.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Never. I’ve put aside stories because I suddenly got stumped and couldn’t continue because I didn’t have a clue where the story was taking me. But those were stories that weren’t meant to be. The process many writers follow is to outline a plot and write from the outline. I think of a character, a setting, an incident, and then I start writing. My fingers take me all the way to the end. I’m continually amazed at what my characters do and where they go. I once wrote a murder plot that had a choice of six different murderers, and I didn’t know who did the dastardly deed until he confessed! I love that my characters take on their own lives and let me write those lives down for them. I get to live through them instead of my creating their lives.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I love romantic stories. Romance novels, as a genre, are not something I pick up very often. Amazingly, the genre seems to require two or three explicit sex scenes, and I get bored reading those, whether hetero or homo. You’d think I, as a gay man, would want to read about a hot encounter, but I think I, as a storyteller, want the story to keep advancing, and a sex scene just stops the action for me. And so, in my romantic young adult novels, my sex scenes are pretty tame, created to show character or plot development, rather than to add steam. And don’t get me wrong, I applaud the readers of Romance novels and I admire and honor the writers of that genre. As they say, different strokes for different folks.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Definitely, growing up it was my mother. The woman had a book at her easy chair, a book in the car, a book in her purse, a book by her bedside, and yes, a book in the bathroom, so she would never be without something to read. And she kept all those ongoing plots straight! So how could I not be influenced by that? (And yet, to my chagrin, my younger brother is not an avid reader, although I’m proud to say he’s read all the books I’ve written and is one of my greatest champions.)

As far as now, I suppose one of my greatest influences is the award-winning author Benjamin Alire Saenz. He truly is the finest writer alive today in my opinion. He is also a great human being, and it shows in his writing. I love all his books from my favorite, his first novel Carry Me Like Water, to his young adult novels like his Lambda award-winning book Ari and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. If I could be one tenth the success that Ben is and garner even 1% of the good reviews he gets, I would feel like an ultra-successful writer.

Aside from Ben, though, I continually sing the praises of my mentors: Kathi Appelt and Kelly Bennett. Both are amazing writers, teachers, and friends. Kathi encouraged me by example and by words long before I even began writing novels, and Kelly not only taught me and critiqued me, she has been steadfast in supporting my quest to be published and the continuance of this budding career I have. And she is one of my dearest friends.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

Love/Hate. I love that it is successful and that many younger readers are actually reading because they are comfortable tied to their electronic devices. And selfishly, I love that royalties from an ebook purchase are greater than those from a print book purchase. But personally, I hate ebooks. There is something cold about the format. I feel that I’m not reading a real book if I can’t turn pages, look back easily to see what I missed, turn to the back cover and read the blurb one more time. Reading a print book is a sensory experience that I don’t get from an ebook.

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I’m blessed to be published by Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink Press. They have the most incredibly talented artists. From a questionnaire I fill out (where I present some outlandish, unworkable ideas,) the Dreamspinner Press artist comes up with the perfect distillation of the essence of my book. And presents me with three or four choices! And then I’m further blessed that my husband is a graphic artist, for he can look at each choice, ask me questions, take my feedback, and help me either choose the best or know what to say if I deign to ask my artist to do further work. But lordy, lordy, lordy—no matter what I suggest, the artist comes back with the perfect cover. I was honored to have artist Anne Cain design the cover for The Book of Ethan. She evoked the two worlds of the cult-fleeing Ethan and the black rapper Kyan so beautifully. Aaron Anderson did Special Effect, with its shadowy figure trapped in the half-light of a dark theater; Colors and its stained glass that main character Neil is so tormented over; and All You Need Is Love’s iconic gun with the daisy in its barrel with the 1960s-inspired psychedelic paisley lettering. Aaron’s covers take my breath away.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

My favorite, I guess, is the one I’ve just finished. I finished Thirteen Therapists and loved it. Then I wrote Special Effect, and I was amazed I could create a murder mystery. Next came The Book of Ethan, and I was enthralled by the world I painted. Colors came after that, and I marveled at how I managed to tackle such an important, difficult subject. But oh—I wrote All You Need Is Love, and it is so much my life story that I can’t help but cherish it. The upcoming novels Titanic Summer and You Can’t Tell by Looking, when I see each in print, will probably capture my heart, respectively. What can I say? I love writing, and I love what I write. Does that sound too self-aggrandizing?

  • What’s next for you as an author?

What’s next? What’s next is to make sure All You Need Is Love finds its audience. Besides how much I love the story and want to share it with everyone, I think it is an important book because it sheds light on the era of the 1960s, a turbulent, life-changing time in America that most teens today know very little about. Even if they don’t learn enough from my book, I hope it spurs them to search for more about that time.

And then, of course, are my two novels already under contract. Spring of 2018 will see Titanic Summer, a novel that tells of a gay teen in the summer of 2015 in Houston, Texas, when the fight for the Houston Equal Rights Amendment was being fought. That fight was ultimately lost, but my hero wins his parallel fight with his gay identity, his problems with his father, and his feelings about a newfound friend. And along the way, I might add, he learns about a teen who perished on the Titanic.

A year later, I’ll have You Can’t Tell by Looking, a story of a love that develops between a Christian boy and a Muslim-American classmate, replete with all the things a relationship of that sort stirs up.

And finally, there’s a new story rumbling in my gut. I know very little about it, but sooner or later, it’s going to poke its head out and introduce itself. And then my fingers will fly across the keys to tell that story!

All You Need Is Love…blurb

It is 1969 when Dewey Snodgress, high school theater star, meets irrepressible hippie Jeep Brickthorn, who quickly inserts himself into Dewey’s life—and eventually, into his heart. Meanwhile, Dewey prepares to appear in a production across town, a play about protestors of the Vietnam War, where he befriends the wild and wonderful Lucretia “LuLu” Belton, who is also determined to follow her dreams and become an actress—whether her parents approve or not.

 The show has a profound effect, especially on Dewey’s father, who reconsiders his approval of the war after his son’s performance. But Dewey knows his dad won’t be so accepting if he reveals the love he’s developing for Jeep, so he fights to push his feelings away and keep the peace in his family.

 Still, Dewey can’t ignore the ripples moving through society—from the impending Woodstock Festival to the Stonewall Riots—and he begins to see that the road to happiness and acceptance for him and Jeep might lead them away from conservative Fort Worth, Texas—and Dewey’s dad.

Russell J. Sanders…bio

Russell J. Sanders is a life-long devotee of the theater. He’s a singer, actor, and director, winning awards for his acting roles and shows he has directed. As a teacher, he has taught theater arts to hundreds of students, plus he’s also taught literature and writing to hundreds of others.

Russell has also travelled the world, visiting Indonesia, Japan, India, Canada, the Caribbean, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice—and almost all the US states. His friends think he’s crazy, but wherever he goes, he seeks out Mexican restaurants. The Mexican food in Tokyo was great, he says; in Rome, not so good. Texans cut their teeth on barbecue and Mexican food. Russell’s love for enchiladas led him on a quest to try them wherever he can find them, and he has found them in some very out of the way places. And good or bad, he’s delighted to sample his favorite food.

Most importantly, Russell is an out and proud Gay man, living in Houston with his husband—a relationship that has lasted almost twenty years. He hopes that his novels inspire confidence and instill pride in his young Gay fans, and he also hopes others learn from his work.

Media Contacts for Russell J. Sanders:

Author of…

   Thirteen Therapists (Featherweight Press)

   Special Effect (Harmony Ink Press)

   The Book of Ethan (Harmony Ink Press)

   Colors (Harmony Ink Press)

   All You Need Is Love (Harmony Ink Press, coming March 2017)
   Titanic Summer (Harmony Ink Press, coming Spring 2018)

Wild, Unpredictable March and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Wild, Unpredictable March – Wild Tales of Love

 

Love provokes all sorts of emotions in us all and authors then write about them.  And of course, we love to read about them.  I’ve been talking about unpredictable couples, when one of the pairs turns out to be something totally unexpected ~ shifters, alien, what have you.  We paused that for St. Patrick’s Day and irishmen.  But  let’s pick it up again and expand the category.  What about those stories where one of the pair is unpredictable?  What is unpredictable to you?  Is it the best friend?  The frenemy? That first love that reappears after 20 years?  Or a true SciFy or Fantasy couple?  Again shifters, fae, magicians, and aliens etc come into play.

Do you all find that to be true?  Or is it when you fall in love with the friend that has always known you so well, been there for you, been your rock, a quiet love? What sorts of love do you find irresistible to read about in stories?  I wonder if the types of couples makes any difference when it comes to love.  I’m reviewing three books this week, one a contemporary love story by Amy Lane where the couple finds love at an older age and two with established fantasy and supernatural couples.  For all three love feels very much the same for all three pairs no matter the circumstances.

Wild, Unpredictable Love Giveaway!

Does love make us different?  Should it vary wildly from person to person, species to species?  Or is love so deeply essential and elemental that is transcends all boundaries?  What’s unpredictable to you? In couples and in romance. Let me know what you think and your favorite books that make your point!  The random reader chosen will receive a $10 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press.  Giveaway ends March 29th at midnight.

Lucky In Love – A St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway!  The Winner is Fehu.  Stella will be in contact with you about your certificate.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, March 19:

  • Wild, Unpredictable March – Wild Tales of Love
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, March 20:

  • DSP GUEST POST Cy Blanca on A Teacher and a Poet
  • Blog Tour A Boy Worth Knowing by Jennifer Cosgrove
  • Release Day Blitz From Top to Bottom by Kevin Klehr
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: The Virgin Manny (The Mannies #1) by Amy Lane and John Solo (Narrator)
  • A VVivacious Review: A Boy Worth Knowing by Jennifer Cosgrove
  • An Ali Review: An Arresting Ride (Survivors Find Love #2) by Lissa Kasey

Tuesday, March 21:

  • Cover Reveal – By The Numbers – RJ Scott
  • DSP GUEST POST Tara Lain on Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns
  • BLOG TOUR Between the Secrets by S. Ferguson
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Growing Pains by Cass Lennox (giveaway)
  • An Ali Review: A Matter of Duty by JC Long
  • An Alisa Review: My Best Man by  Linn Edwards

Wednesday, March 22:

  • No Regrets by Nicky James Tour
  • An Alisa Review: The Cookie Said Red by J.D. Walker
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  An Invitation by Jay Northcote
  • A Lila Release Day Review: Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns (Cowboys Don’t #2) by Tara Lain

Thursday, March 23:

  • Review Tour & Giveaway – The Case Of The Guilty Ghost (End Street Book #6)
  • HARMONY INK PRESS BLOG TOUR Russell J. Sanders on All You Need is Love
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into the Fall (Leaning Into #2) by Lane Hayes
  • A MelanieM Review: The Case Of The Guilty Ghost (End Street Book #6) by Amber Kell and RJ Scott

Friday, March 24:

  • Release Day Blitz She Belongs to Them Both by Sedonia Guillone
  • DSP PUBLICATIONS BLOG TOUR Don Travis on The Bisti Business
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Bonfires by Amy Lane
  • An Ali Review: Here For Us by AM Arthur

Saturday, March 25:

  • A MelanieM Review:  Twilight by Megan Derr

 

A Caryn YA Release Day Review: Driven by MB Mulhall

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I found this book a frustrating combination of a nice spin on the hurt/comfort trope, but with frequent sections that bothered me: long boring inner monologues by the main character, Oliver, and moments of incredible stupidity that literally made me want to DNF the book several times. I persevered because I was reading it for this review, and in the end I was glad I did, but it was close! Oliver is a homeless young man who is brought out of the vicious cycle of his self-recrimination and loathing by the kindness of several people in the community. His love interest, Simon, is actually a rather small part of the group that ultimately makes Oliver believe that he can be loveable, and I thought that was pretty refreshing.

The book starts with a flash forward to a moment when it seems that Oliver is dying. He is thinking of all the people he will miss, and the story truly commences at the time when he first meets the main secondary characters in the book. Two kind old ladies offer him a place in their home on a provisional basis, with the expectation that he help them out around the house. In addition to food and shelter, they offer him respect and kindness, which he has a hard time accepting as he has come to think of himself as the worst kind of criminal. There are hints about an accident, and incarceration, though the details are not revealed (and then only sketchily so) until later in the book. Simon is the boy next door who also befriends the skittish Oliver and encourages him to stay and give the old ladies, and himself, a chance. In the end, of course, Oliver learns to believe in himself and have faith in others, and has a promising future – and that’s not really a spoiler, just the expected resolution of a hurt/comfort romance.

The tragic events in Oliver’s past life were only somewhat vaguely explained, and I didn’t truly follow the path from accident to jail to homelessness. It was all fueled by Oliver’s self-hate, but those endless monologues just made me think he was whiny rather than feeling compassionate for his suffering. He also several times got into situations that he responded to with “too stupid to live” actions that just made no sense, when he was otherwise supposed to be a pretty smart guy. Those seemed like gratuitous drama and angst to me, and completely turned me off. I think different writing could have made me believe that Oliver’s self-hate was justified, but I just didn’t feel it. I didn’t get what his art had to do with anything, it really felt superfluous to his personality and to the story. I never understood what kind of hold Marcus had (the bad guy) had over him. The book was also fairly long for the plot and action that occurred, which I blame on those long monologues, and that made the pace of the book slow, and I found myself putting it down frequently to pursue something more exciting – like doing laundry.

I guess, in the end, the blurb was everything I wanted the story to be, but the execution was kind of a swing and a miss for me.

Cover art by Anna Sikorska was very appropriate for the story, and the empty section of highway was good for the initial somber tone of the story.

Sales Links

Harmony Ink Press

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1635332796 (ISBN13: 9781635332797)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Fickle, Fickle, March and Love and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Fickle, Fickle March & Love

Ah March!  So fickle, so surprising!  Here in Maryland, we had almost 80 degree weather two days ago.  Flowers were blooming as were trees including the famed cherry trees.  Pollen counts were up!  Thoughts of gardening danced in my head as emails from local garden markets flew into my mailbox announcing they were opening early this season!  Then yesterday here came the snow and the plunging temperatures, forcing all those happy plans right out of the mind, reminding me that yes, its way too early for all those wonderful outside type endeavors.  March is often a smack of reality.  A gentle breeze followed by gale force winds.  A lovely day of sunshine that’s tipped on its head by hail and a foot of snow.  You never know quite what a day in March will bring.

Sometimes love is like that too.

A simple date that turns into something more.  A summer fling that becomes that love you can never forget.  And in the case of some of our favorite stories, that man you met might just turn into something unexpected.  Maybe a wolf, panther, owl, lion, or even in a story that still has me laughing a sloth.  Maybe he’s an alien instead of a were! Angel or demon? Dragon or ancient eternal knight? Oh, how I love those stories.  And judging from the Best of Lists, so do all of you.  So here goes our giveaway for this week.

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~This Week’s Giveaway ~ He Turned Out To Be What? Contest

What stories are on your He Turned Out To Be What? List.  The books can be supernatural, science fiction, alternate universe,whatever.  Its just that one of the main couple has to be a surprise in one way to the other.  He can be warlock, alien or were ~ is there another category I’m missing?  Sexuality is out.  We are talking different being here, magical entity, demon, different were than the other.  That’s cool too.  I’m hoping  for some new stories that I haven’t read here.  Dolphins, Meerkats, all good.  Go for it!    Two random readers who submit lists will be chosen to receive a $10 gift certificate.   Giveaway ends Saturday, March 11th at midnight.Get Kraken! lol

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Winner Announcement

New Love, New Beginnings Love Story Giveaway winners are:

 DSP gift Card:  jenf27 and H.B.  Congratulations both of you

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Sunday, March 5:

  • Fickle, Fickle, March and Love (This Week’s Giveaway)
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is Looking For Reviewers

Monday, March 6:

  • DSP GUEST POST Lucie Archer on My Paradise is You
  • Audiobook Review Tour For NR Walker’s Red Dirt Heart #2
  • Release Day Blitz:  The Broken Butterfly by Caitlin Ricci
  • Retro Review Tour – Garrett Leigh – Misfits (Urban Soul #1) 
  • FreeDreamer Review: Misfits (Urban Soul #1) by Garrett Leigh
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Red Dirt Heart #1 by NR Walker and Joel Leslie (Narrator)
  • A Lila Audiobook Review:  Red Dirt Heart #2 by NR Walker and Joel Leslie (Narrator)
  • A VVivacious Release Day Review: Talking in Code by Ariel Tachna

Tuesday, March 7:

  • DSP GUEST POST Sean Michael on Just the Right Notes
  • A Caryn YA Release Day Review: Driven by MB Mulhall
  • A Lila Release Day Review: The Mystery of the Curiosities (Snow & Winter #2) by C.S. Poe
  • A Paul B Review: The Chain of Their Sins (Taking Shield #4) by Anna Butler
  • A Stella Review:  Momo, My Everything by Posy Roberts
  • An Alisa Review: Rough Edges by Cardeno C

Wednesday, March 8:

  • DSP GUEST POST Marek Moran on The Sparky
  • DSP GUEST POST CC Bridges on Love in the Time of Hurricanes
  • A Jeri Review: After the Fire by Felice Stevens
  • A Stella Review: Beneath the Stars  by Lynn Charles
  • A VVivacious Release Day Review:  Shaper by Christine Danse
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Darkness (Common Law book 3) by Kate Sherwood

Thursday, March 9:

  • GUEST POST Skylar M Cates on Secrets of You
  • Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway: Darkness (Common Law book 3) by Kate Sherwood
  • A Paul B Review: The Otto Digmore Difference (The Otto Digmore Series #1) by Brent Hartinger
  • A Vvivacious Review: Insight by Santino Hassell
  • An Alisa Review:  Fangs Like Me by Lyssa Dering

Friday, March 10:

  • COVER REVEAL: Separation by Louise Lyons
  • INTERLUDE PRESS TOUR Ghosts & Ashes by FT Lukens
  • Release Blitz for Bedside Manner by DJ Jamison
  • A VVivacious Review: You Had Me at Hero by Michael P. Thomas
  • An Ali Review: We Three Kings by AF Henley
  • An Alisa Review: Hunter by Dakota Storm
  • A Stella Review: Three Hearts by Grace R. Duncan

Saturday, March 11:

  • Blog Tour: Audiobook of DRAMA MUSCLE (Nicky and Noah mystery #2) by Joe Cosentino, performed by Chip Hurley
  • A MelanieM Review: Dragon Soldier by Mell Eight
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review:  DRAMA MUSCLE (Nicky and Noah mystery #2) by Joe Cosentino, performed by Chip Hurley

 

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Its Valentine’s Week and Love is In the Air! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Its Valentine’s Week and Love is In the Air!

Tuesday is Valentine’s Day and surely Love is in the Air!  All those hearts, balloons, and boxes of chocolates and other signs of romance all around are making me think of so many things, like the best love stories in movies and of course, in books (cue the soundtrack to Doctor Zhivago)!  We can all remember the traditional love stories, meaning het of course! I’m sure they are popping into mind even now.  Romeo and Juliet, Lancelot and Guinevere (Arthur got a raw deal I think), Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, Paris and Helena,Tristan and Isolde…most ended unhappily I know.  But ah,  how bright their love and passion burned!  We can even think of our happy love movies.  Love Actually is played constantly during the holiday season (love has so many faces).

But how about LGBTQIA love?  Is Brokeback Mountain the first movie that comes to mind?  How about Shelter or Big Eden or Latter Days?  They didn’t have big names attached to them but the romance and love left you smiling instead of feeling torn apart.  Perfect for Valentine’s Day watching!  What’s your recommendations for Valentine’s Day binge watching?

I can remember my very first novel, outside of fanfiction (K/S among others) that was not only M/M but had a happy ending.  That was The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  I still have my hardback copy.  It was a revelation.  The idea of m/m romance and love with the possibility of a future in some way. The Catch Trap was published in 1979 which was when I first read it so a future then is markably different then the way in which LGBTQIA romance (and marriage) is regarded today (bigotry not withstanding).  Some of my comfort reads are also my favorite love stories but not all. Some of my favorite couples also had pain, loss and suspense attached to their stories as well.  Here are some of those.

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Some of My Favorite Couples and Their Series in no particular order:

Ty and Zane of Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run series (some written with Madeleine Urban)

Lucky and Bo of Eden Winter’s Diversion series

Jory and Sam of Mary Calmes’ A Matter of Time series

Jin and Logan of Mary Calmes’ A Change of Heart series

Adrien and Jake from The Adrien English Mysteries by Josh Lanyon

Jonty and Orlando from Charlie Cochrane’s Cambridge Fellows Mysteries

Jim and Griffin as well as Evan and Matt from Tere Michaels’ Faith, Love & Devotion series

And this is without adding in those couples from my comfort list books!  There’s more as well.  Do you have your favorite couples?  Tell me which ones I missed!

Goodreads has its own Listopia: Best Gay/Lesbian Fiction With Happy Endings (140 books).  You might check out this list too.    But back to your favorite couples and your favorite love stories.  What love stories jump into your mind when I say  “Romance”!  That love with a capital L story where “one swims the oceans, fights all the fights, does everything they must to be with the one they love” story.  Give us your list and see if you come up with Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Valentine’s Day gift card!

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Valentine’s Day Love Story Challenge.

Yes its time for the Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Valentine’s Day Love Story Challenge.  Give us your list of either top couples and their story or top love stories with your email address. One random reader will be chosen to receive a $10 gift certificate by midnight next Sunday, February 18th.  This is a quick contest so get your lists in this week.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

And as a reminder, our Comfort Reads Giveaway also closes on the 17th.  So here is two chances to win a gift certificate.

📚Comfort Reads Giveaway from Last Week!

Send us your List of Comfort Reads!  Your Snuggle Up To, Comfort Blankey Books!  One random reader with a List will be chosen to receive a $10 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press.  Contest ends February 17 at midnight.  Please leave your name and email address where you can be reached if chosen.

Now for this week’s schedule.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Sunday, February 12:

  • Its Valentine’s Week and Love is In the Air!
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A MelanieM Review:  Flaunt by E. Davies

Monday, February 13:

  • DSP GUEST POST Ari McKay on Letters from Cupid
  • DSP GUEST POST Tara Lain on Fire Balls
  • Release Day Blitz The Start of Something New by Tamryn Eradani
  • A Caryn Review: Too Soon For Love by Kimberly Gardner
  • A Lila Release Day Review: Jerricho’s Freedom by Jake C. Wallace
  • A VVivacious Review: The Start of Something New by Tamryn Eradani
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Empty Net (Scoring Chances #4) by Avon Gale and Scott R. Smith (Narrator)

Tuesday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day):

  • DSP GUEST POST Evelise Archer on Jaeger
  • DSP GUEST POST Lila Leigh Hunter on Dating in Retrospect
  • Jared’s Family by VS Morgan Release Blitz and Giveaway
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Yes, Professor by Renae Kaye
  • A PaulB Review: The Atherton Pack 4 by Toni Griffin
  • A Stella Release Day Review:  Letters from Cupid by Ari McKay
  • An Alisa Releases Day Review: Warlock in Training by TJ Nichols

Wednesday, February 15:

  • DSP PUBLICATIONS GUEST POST TJ Nichols on Warlock in Training
  • Release Blitz Clare London – How The Other Half Lives
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The New Wolf (Building the Pack #1) by RJ Scott
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Blossom of the Samurai by Sedonia Guillone
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:  Poppy’s Secret by Andrew Grey
  • A Stella Release Day Review:  Dating in Retrospect by Lila Leigh Hunter

Thursday, February 16:

  • DSP GUEST POST Remmy Duchene and BLMorticia on Wounded Pride
  • Release Day Blitz Learning to Want by Tami Veldura
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Where There’s Smoke by Cari Z and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)
  • An Alisa Review: What the Cat Dragged In by Kate Steele
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Hanging The Stars (Half Moon Bay #2) by Rhys Ford and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Behr Facts (Foothills Pride #3) by Pat Henshaw and David Ross (Narrator)

Friday, February 17:

  • Suki Fleet – Foxes Tour and Giveaway
  • RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway: Half by Eli Lang
  • A Stella Review: Half by Eli Lang
  • A Paul B Release Day Review: Skythane by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • A Caryn Review: How The Other Half Lives by Clare London
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Foxes by Suki Fleet

Saturday, February 18:

  • A MelanieM Review:  Necessary Medicine by M.K. York
  • A MelanieM Review: Danced Close (Portland Heat, #6) by Annabeth Albert

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HARMONY INK PRESS GUEST POST: Jo Ramsey on Midnight Chat (author interview)

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Midnight Chat by Jo Ramsey
H
armony Ink Press
Release Date: February 7, 2017

Available for Purchase at

Harmony Ink Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jo Ramsey here today talking about writing and her latest release Midnight Chat. Welcome, Jo, thanks for sitting in our author interview chair this morning.

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  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

It depends on the character. Nearly every main character I write has some aspects of my personality, such as shyness or liking to read or write. Sometimes they have traits I wish I had.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

To me, a Mary Sue/Gary Stu is a case where an author creates a character who is a perfect human being everyone loves, who may or may not be a representation of who the author wishes they were. I don’t think that’s the same thing as using personal experiences and traits to create a character. My characters are as flawed as I am, and things don’t always go the way they hope they will.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Even when an author makes up their own world and culture, I think they need to do some research. They might only use bits and pieces of the research to make up their own thing, but it helps to have some basis in reality. I personally don’t enjoy researching at all, so I write things for which I need as little research as possible, but I always need to look up something or ask someone questions about something.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

To some extent, yes. When I was a preteen and teenager, I really enjoyed fantasy novels of the type that mostly takes place in the “real world,” where ordinary people end up having extraordinary experiences. Think things like Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time or Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising, which were two of my favorite books from about age 10 on. I write some things like that, but I also tend to write contemporary fiction where there isn’t any fantastic stuff going on, just people living their lives and solving (or not) their problems.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

My novel Work Boots and Tees, book five of my Deep Secrets and Hope series, was like that. Because of the things the main character, Jim Frankel, had done to others, and the traumas he’d experienced himself, it was an incredibly heart-ripping novel to write. I’m a sexual trauma survivor myself, and there were times when I was writing that book where I triggered myself so badly I had to step back from the computer for a few days. At one point my husband tried to convince me to stop writing the book altogether, but I’m way too stubborn to do that.

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I don’t exactly choose my covers. I fill out an information sheet for the cover art department, and they send me, usually, three mock-ups to choose from. Unless there’s something really wrong with all three of them, for example showing a character that bears no resemblance to the ones in my book (which has never happened with Harmony Ink Press), I have to choose one of the three.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I have more than one favorite. I’m partial to Nail Polish and Feathers because I think Evan Granger is a completely awesome character who doesn’t give a rat’s behind what people think, he’s determined to be himself. I’m also partial to Work Boots and Tees because Jim is a very broken character who nonetheless is trying to make a better life for himself, and he is modeled on several of the boys I worked with when I taught in Maine years ago.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

My latest novel, Midnight Chat, has just released from Harmony Ink Press. (https://www.harmonyinkpress.com/books/midnight-chat-by-jo-ramsey-448-b). I’m excited about it because it’s based on a song I wrote and recorded, which is available on Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes (the song is also called “Midnight Chat), and because I think Mira’s dilemma about how to help Rob is true to what some teens experience when they realize a friend needs more help than they can give. Toward the end of summer 2017, Harmony Ink will re-release my novel Dolphins in the Mud, originally published by a different company in 2012. That’s another novel in which the main character is far out of his element trying to help a friend, as well as keep his family running smoothly.

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About Midnight Chat

For the past two years, since meeting in ninth grade, Mira MacDonald and Rob Stevens have been inseparable best friends. Rob’s struggles with depression, and his reliance on Mira, sometimes make the friendship difficult for Mira, but she wants to support Rob. Especially since he’s the victim of severe bullying at school due to his sexuality. Even though Rob isn’t out, he is gay, and the suspicion is enough for some people to torment him.

Now Mira has her first girlfriend, Talia Acevedo, and Rob’s jealousy is becoming even more of a problem. Rob insists that Talia doesn’t like him and is trying to break up their friendship. Mira tries to stay neutral, but it isn’t easy when Rob’s obsession with her escalates—along with his anger as the harassment gets worse.

One night, during one of their typical midnight text sessions, Rob tells Mira he’s decided to take drastic action at school to stop the bullying once and for all. And if she tries to stop him or tells anyone else, she’ll be first on his target list.

About the Author

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Readers who are interested in knowing more about me are welcome to visit my website, http://www.joramsey.com. I’m also on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/JoRamseyAuthor/, Twitter @JoRamseyYA, and Tumblr, http://www.joramseyya.tumblr.com, and my offspring Phoenix and I have a YouTube channel, Real Life Rising, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeeZBAEzSDIdPf7RS7iNQAQ.

Sherrie Henry on Life, Writing, and her release ‘Flag on the Play’ (HARMONY INK PRESS GUEST POST: interview, excerpt )

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Flag on the Play by Sherrie Henry
H
armony Ink Press
Release Date: February 7, 2017

Cover artist: Alexandria Corza

Available for Purchase at Harmony Ink Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Sherrie Henry here today.  Welcome, Sherrie!

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Chugging right along! We’re at my third stop for my blog tour to promote my newest release “Flag on the Play.” Thank you Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me!

Check out my question/answer session:

  • How much of yourself goes into a character? 

I think all writers put a little bit of themselves into their characters. It’s like splitting your own personality, bits and pieces go into each character you develop. I think it’s inevitable; it’s been my experience that regardless of how far-fetched the plot, there is still a grounding in reality that reflects our own lives and experiences.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Sue and using your own experiences to create a character?

No. A Mary (or Gary) Sue in my opinion is a character who’s sole purpose is to save everyone, be the hero, and has no character flaws (or have flaws that are endearing). To me, that’s cheating the reader to create such a perfect character. No one learns anything, there’s no plot or character development in a Mary/Gary Sue. I’m not certain I could create such a character; I’m flawed, thus my characters, who are in some part a reflection of me, are flawed as well.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

In my most recent novel ‘Flag on the Play’, I interviewed a few gay men on their experiences as a gay teen (as, being female and not gay, I couldn’t draw much from my own childhood!). It gave me tremendous insight into their world and their struggles, which still occur across the country to this day.

I did enjoy doing the interviews and I like research in general. But I also write sci-fi/fantasy, so it’s nice to just let loose and change the laws of physics. LOL

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I consider myself an eclectic reader which has shaped my writing to an extent. I tend to write what I want, regardless of genre. Whatever fancies me at the time, that’s what comes out. For example, I’m finishing a sci-fi novel and also working on a cookbook. I’m not the type to be pinned to a specific genre!

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Once, when I had to kill off a major character, I needed some time away from the story as I ended up crying as I typed the death scene. Had to give myself a couple of days away to recover. It was painful, but it was necessary as it advanced the story.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

As life never gives HEAs, I do enjoy reading them in my stories as a change of pace from reality. As I don’t read a lot of books that are parts of series, I don’t typically come across HFNs.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Oh hell yes. I remember sneaking my mom’s Harlequin Romance and Danielle Steele novels as a young teen. I’m not sure to this day if she realized I read them!

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Choosing an English degree as an undergrad. I was exposed to so many different genres and authors during that time. I had always been an avid reader; I remember getting the Scholastic Reader booklets as a kid and ordering all the books I could afford on my allowance. I probably owned a few hundred paperbacks as a child.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I certainly like the ebook format; makes reading in bed a lot easier. My Kindle weighs a lot less than hardcover novels and large paperbacks and is much less bulky.

I’m not sure where the ebook is going; because a writer can publish anything and everything they want without going through a traditional publishing company, the ebook has gotten a bad rap. Those ebooks from self-pubbed authors still have a the stigma of bad writing, no editing, and crappy covers. Ebooks are evolving, but I’m not sure for the better. I’m not saying all self-pubbed books are crap, but it’s the perception of the reading audience, myself included. (I’m a trivia buff, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of bad trivia ebooks published.)

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I typically have an idea of what I want and convey that to the cover artist. A couple of times I’ve had no clue, so the cover artist gave me some drafts and I was able to envision what I wanted.

As an amateur landscape/wildlife photographer, a lot of times I can at least have a very base idea of what I want, at least in the background.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

As a piece of me is in all my work, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’d have to say my vampire story ‘Traditions.’ The main character is a snarky, sexy, slightly-overwhelmed male vampire surrounded by dysfunctional family and friends. It’s the first in a trilogy and has been submitted for publication. Hope to hear within a month or so!

  • What’s next for you as an author?

Finish my sci-fi novel (about 3-4 chapters to go) and my cookbook, then pick one of the dozen or so WIPs I have on my computer. I’d like to finish at least one more novel this year, if not two. I want to diversify myself; I’ve got two WIPs that are thrillers, which is a new genre for me to be writing.

Thank you, Sherrie, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your answers!  Now more about Sherrie and Flag on the Play.

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About the Author

Sherrie was born and raised in Southern Indiana, in a small farming community. A stop-over at Indiana University in Bloomington to earn bachelors and masters degrees was the next step before she struck out to the big city of Chicago. She has lived in the ‘burbs of the Windy City for the past 19 years, currently residing with her dog Rocky and teaching at the local community college. She is a third-degree black belt in hapkido and is considering a run for a fourth-degree before hanging up the ol’ black belt. Writing and photography are her hobbies, and hopes that she can add travel to her hobbies soon.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorSherrieHenry
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/sherriehenry
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AuthorSHenry
Blog: http://sherriehenry.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.sherriehenry.com

Sales link for ‘Flag on the Play’:

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About Flag on the Play

Sixteen-year-old football punter Liam Hartley has come to terms with being gay, but it isn’t something his religious and conservative community will ever accept. He’s isolated in his Midwest town until Cody Williams transfers to his school from Chicago. A proud bisexual young man, Cody shows Liam he isn’t alone—or abnormal—and they soon become more than friends.

Despite the intimate, secret world he shares with Cody, Liam is in pain. The hatred spewed by bigots has an effect on Liam, even if Cody carefully hides their relationship with a pretend girlfriend. Liam is jealous—he doesn’t want to have to share Cody, and he doesn’t want to have to live in shame. Cutting himself seems to be the only way to deal with everything he’s suffering, and things only get worse when Liam and Cody are outed in front of the school. And even if they can make it through the hardship, they know their relationship is destined to end when Cody’s family returns to the city.

Liam can’t go back to facing the hatred and religious judgment by himself. He won’t survive it. Somehow, Liam and Cody must secure a future for both of them, and that means finding a way to stay together.

 Excerpt from ‘Flag on the Play

Liam downed his lemonade. Even though it was fairly cool out, he was sweating profusely. After the tuck-pointing, he volunteered to help cut and haul some wood from the downed trees on the property. He and Cody were sitting in the backyard, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. Cody’s mom came outside with more to drink.

“You boys finish?” She set the pitcher on the step and sat down next to Liam.

“Yes, ma’am.” Liam refilled his glass.

Marissa laughed. “Please don’t call me ma’am. Makes me feel old.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“No worries. So, Cody said you had some questions you wanted to ask me?”

Liam looked out over the expansive yard. “If you don’t mind.”

“Nope.”

Cody nudged Liam. “Go ahead. She’s a good listener.”

Liam swallowed. “Me and Cody. That’s natural, right?”

Marissa furrowed her brow. “Of course it is.”

“I’ve been taught it’s a great sin and I’m going to hell.”

“Oh, hon, no. Look, I don’t want to sway you from your religion—”

“I’ve lost my religion. I can’t believe in it anymore. I need to know I’m going to be okay. You accept Cody, and me, and us and….” His voice trailed off.

“I’ve been where you are.”

Liam glanced over at her. “Really?”

“Yes. Born into a very Catholic family. But I realized at a very young age, what was coming at me at every Mass was pretty much bullshit. Pardon my language.”

Liam snorted. “I’ve heard worse.” He gave her a smile. “How did you get out of the church?”

“I had to bide my time until high school. I finally sat my parents down and told them I couldn’t believe in what the priest was saying. That any higher power couldn’t hate his or her creations, that he or she would create such inequality. And I was totally against the no birth control thing. That really rubbed me the wrong way. I’d done research at the library—this was back before everything was on the Internet you know—and found that human sexuality isn’t something to be repressed. Not that I condone sleeping around, sex and love need to go hand in hand, but it doesn’t need to be saved for marriage or be something to feel guilty about.”

“So you don’t believe I’m going to hell?”

Marissa gave a little laugh. “Hon, that’s why I love being Wiccan. We don’t believe in hell. Hell is a Christian concept.”

“There’s no heaven or hell?”

“Wiccans, other pagans, some of us believe in what’s called Summerland. A place we go when we die until we are reincarnated. Hell doesn’t exist.”

“But what about people like Hitler, or Stalin? Shouldn’t they be in hell?”

Marissa paused, taking in a long breath and letting it out. “To be honest, I struggle with topics like that. Leaning on my youth teachings, yes, hell would be a good place for such evil. But to reconciling such evil in my Wiccan beliefs—I came to the conclusion that people like that don’t go to Summerland, they just cease to exist, no reincarnation. That their evil energy is dissipated into the universe, forever dissolving out into the reaches of deep space.”

“Wow, that’s profound.”

“Nah, just the way I can deal.”

“So what about the Bible?”

Marissa patted his knee. “The Bible is a book, a good book, but it was written by men, and men are fallible. I don’t like how some people will pick and choose what they want to follow out of it. They should use it as a guidebook, not a rulebook. Use the teachings of doing good deeds, of not throwing the first stone. Of being kind to strangers and helping those in need. That’s what they should take away, not a strict or not-so-strict adherence to rules written in a time when slaves were the norm and women were property to be bartered for.”

“Never thought about it that way.”

“I never did either, until I took a ‘Bible as Literature’ class in college. The discrepancies stood out, the outright contradictions. It was then I solidified my beliefs.” She put her arm around Liam. “I’m not saying to dump all your beliefs, or even change them. I’m just giving you a different perspective. You have to decide what is right for you. Each religion, even mine, has its good points and shortcomings.”

Liam sucked down the rest of his lemonade. “I can’t see any shortcomings with yours.”

“There are. Like the question of evil from before, there’s no consensus. It’s just what I’ve decided to believe. And the threefold rule.”

“Cody told me about it. How can getting threefold of good coming back at you be bad?”

“Because it works the other way as well. If I put bad thoughts or bad deeds out there, bad stuff can come back to me threefold.”

“I don’t see how you can do anything bad.”

“Well, I get angry and anger begets anger. I get angry against people who do bad deeds, like a mother who kills her children. My inclination is to say she deserves the death penalty, but I’m sworn to do no harm.”

“But you wouldn’t be pulling the switch, so to say.”

“No, but I’m putting the bad energy out there by thinking and stating my opinion. It’s like I can feel the negative energy build when I think about situations like that. I have to meditate a lot when news stories such as those are aired, try to diffuse my thoughts. It can be hard work.”

“I would think someone who kills their children doesn’t deserve to live.”

“And you’re not alone, not by a long shot. But doesn’t even your faith say you should forgive the sinner?”

Liam cocked his head. “Yeah.”

“While Wicca doesn’t believe in sin per se, we do believe in forgiveness. To keep up the positive energy so it always outweighs the negative.”

“And how do I deal with messages from my pastor that what I feel is wrong? That I’m damned?”

“You need to forgive your pastor and hope one day he can see the error of his ways. That love is precious, in all its forms.” She turned and gave him a hug. “You aren’t damned. My Cody loves you and so do I.”

Kelly took that moment to come running out of the house and plopped down in Cody’s lap. She shoved a book in Liam’s face. “Story?”

Marissa laughed. “I think you’ve made quite an impression on Kelly as well.” She let Liam go and collected the empty glasses and pitcher. “Guess it’s story time. Once you’re done, you’d probably head home. It’s getting late.”

“Yes, ma-Marissa. And thank you.” He took the book from Kelly and started to read about a fairy princess and her faithful companion, a dragon named Sue.

What Are Your Comfort Reads and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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What Are Your Comfort Reads?

I know, I know.   Its February and I could have so much more to talk about.  Its Black History Month, Valentine’s Day and Love Stories and so much more. And I may get to those next week. But the truth of the matter is that I’m heart sore these days.  With all the news and politics and a President determined to see us and our rights thrown back to the fifties and nations at war, my heart and head feels like its being plundered, torn into pieces daily.

You do what you can, you speak up, sign petitions, march. But at night or whenever you need it, I know that I need to escape into my books and my comfort reads.

I’ve been falling back into some of my early stories from many authors, ones that have remained my “go to books” when I need that instant book blankey.  Don’t tell me you don’t have those.  A story that means an instant smuggle for you.  So you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.  Let’s see how they mesh if at all.  Some of mine include an entire series:

MelanieM’s Comfort Read’s (partial and constantly growing)

  • Amy Lane’s Keeping Promise Rock
  • Red Dirt Heart Series by N.R. Walker
  • Faith, Love & Devotion Series by Tere Michaels
  • Change of Heart series by Mary Calmes
  • Collision Course by K.A. Mitchell
  • The Shearing Gun by Renae Kaye
  • Frog by Mary Calmes
  • No Going Home (Home #1) by T.A. Chase
  • Home Series by T.A. Chase

I think B.A. Tortuga’s new series, The Release, may find its way onto this list.  Too soon yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised.

That’s for starters, ones that just popped up without giving it any thought.  I know there’s more to come.  So pull up yours.  I want to know the stories you reach for when you want to feel good, happy.  We certainly can do with so much more of that these days.

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📚Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Giveaway!📚

Send us your List of Comfort Reads!  Your Snuggle Up To, Comfort Blankey Books!  One random reader with a List will be chosen to receive a $10 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press.  Contest ends February 17 at midnight.  Please leave your name and email address where you can be reached if chosen.

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This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Sunday, February 5:

  • A Free Dreamer Review: Wasted Youth by H.B. Kurtzwilde
  • A MelanieM Review: Calling His Bluff (Club Raven #3) by B.A. Tortuga
  • What Are Your Comfort Reads?
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, February 6:

  • INTERLUDE PRESS TOUR Storm Season by Pene Henson
  • Cover Reveal for No Regrets by Nicky James (excerpt and giveaway)
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Working It by Christine d’Abo (giveaway)
  • A Paul B Release Day Review: Wolfmanny by Julia Talbot
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: What Remains by Garrett Leigh and Craig Beck (Narrator)
  • An Ali Review: Working It (Ringside Romance #1) by Christine d’Abo
  • An Alisa Review:  They Walk Among Us by T.A. Chase

Tuesday, February 7:

  • HARMONY INK PRESS GUEST POST: Sherrie Henry on Flag on the Play
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Embers by Kate Sherwood (giveaway)
  • DSP GUEST POST Ingela Bohm on The Seventh Flower
  • A Stella Review: Storm Season by Pene Henson
  • A VVivacious Review: The Puritan Pirate by Jules Radcliffe
  • An Ali Review:They Walk Among Us by T.A. Chase
  • A VVivacious Review: THE MUTT: AN ORDER SHORT STORY by Kasia Bacon

Wednesday, February 8:

  • DSP GUEST POST: Julia Talbot on Wolfmanny
  • HARMONY INK PRESS GUEST POST: Jo Ramsey on Midnight Chat
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Fire Balls by Tara Lain
  • A Jeri Review: Off Base by Annabeth Albert
  • A Stella Release Day Review: The Seventh Flower (World of Love) by Ingela Bohm
  • An Alisa Release Day Review:  Buyout by Dev Bentham

Thursday, February 9:

  • DSP GUEST POST: Jake C. Wallace on Jerricho’s Freedom
  • DSP GUEST POST:  Dirk Greyson on Darkness Rising
  • A Lila Review:  Tempted to Taste by Shawn Lane
  • A PaulB  Review: Descent of Kings: Books BUNDLE by Maria Albert
  • A Caryn Review: When Irish Eyes Are Smiling by Matthew Robbins
  • An Alisa Review: Fire Triangle by Iyana Jenna

Friday, February 10:

  • *FLAUNT by E Davies 2 week blog tour and giveaway
  • DSP GUEST POST Dev Bentham on Buyout – A Love Story
  • DSP GUEST POST Mason Thomas on The Shadow Mark
  • Release Day Blitz: Leaning Into Love by Lane Hayes
  • A Paul B Review: Sealed With Acceptance (Signed, Sealed, Delivered #5) by Caitlin Ricci and A.J. Marcus
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Jaeger (Order of the Black Knights #4) by Evelise Archer
  • An Ali Release Day Review:  Shifting Views (The Carlisles #4) by Meg Harding

Saturday, February 11:

  • A MelanieM Review: At Attention (Out of Uniform, #2) by Annabeth Albert
  • A MelanieM Review:  Necessary Medicine by M.K. York

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Best of 2016 Lists and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Best of 2016 Lists Continue

Yes, our Best of 2016 Lists roll on.  Our readers have been contributing some wonderful lists of their own and our own reviewers choices still pour in as well.  I have  both for you all today.

The lovely thing is that we don’t have to let go of some of our favorites.  If they are series that haven’t wrapped up, we have new stories to look forward to in 2017.  So many authors spring to mind that we are waiting on new stories in their series:  Jordan L. Hawk, Mary Calmes, Megan Derr, Mell Eight, Rhys Ford…to name a few.  Which authors are you waiting on new stories from?  And which series?  My personal list is endless to be honest.  I added to it with new authors this year including Amelia Faulkner and her Inheritance series.  Don’t know how I missed that and her.  But I did.  My list will be the last to arrive.  This week we hear from Stella, Free Dreamer, and some of our readers on their favorites from 2016.

From Stella

Stella’s BEST BOOKS 2016

Stella’s Best Covers 2016

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His Fairy Godfather by Cate Ashwood and Nico Jaye

The ‘True Love’ Solution by Julie Bozza

Must Like Spinach by Con Riley

Freckles By Amy Lane

When the Dust Settles by Mary Calmes

Murmuration by T.J. Klune

Daniel & Erik’s Super Fab Ultimate Wedding Checklist by K.E. Belledonne

Snakes Among Sweet Flowers by Jason Huffman-Black

 Free Dreamer’s Best Covers of 2016

 

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The Little Crow by Caitlin Ricci (Cover artist: Natasha Snow)

Stygian by Santino Hassel (Cover artist: Damonza)

Dreams by Erich James (Cover artist: Paul Richmond)

Love Can’t Conquer by Kim Fielding (Cover artist: Brooke Albrecht)

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FoxesSalt and IronSalt and Iron by Tam MacNeil (Cover artist: AngstyG)

ACID by Wulf Francu Godgluck (Cover artist: Wulf Francu Godgluck)

Foxes by Suki Fleet (Cover artist: AngstyG)

Free Dreamer’s Best Books of 2016:

Stalking Darkness”, “Traitor’s Moon” and “Shadows Return” by Lynn Flewelling

Lima Oscar Victor Echo and The Truth About Everything by Suki Fleet

Salt and Iron by Tam MacNeil

ACID by Wulf Francu Godgluck

Every Day” and “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan

The Hunger Man by Scott D. Pomfret

Love Can’t Conquer by Kim Fielding

O/s by Jane Davitt

Crush by Caitlin Ricci

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Stygian by Santino Hassel

Dark Space by Lisa Henry

The Lodestar of Ys by Amy Rae Durreson

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And from our Readers….

 

📚Purple Reader :

Thanks for your list, and this has inspired me to think about mine (at least the gay ones, and I like a lot of different subgenres, but not all were out this year).
– Purple Reader, TheWrote
Fav Gay Book Group read: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Fav SciFi: Interscission Project series by Arshad Ahsanuddin
Fav Steampunk: Blue on Black by Carole Cummings
Fav Fantasy: finished the Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling
Fav Paranormal: Widdershins by Jordan Hawk (and a mystery)
Fav M/M Romance: Lavender in Bloom by Lily Velez
Fav Gay Romance: My Bare Naked Heart by David Avery
Fav YA: Foxes by Suki Fleet
Fav Mystery: Third Man Out by Richard Stevenson (oldie but goodie)
Fav Western: The Search for Soaring Hawk by Terry O’Reilly
Fav Historical: Frontiers/Man & Beast by Michael Jensen
Fav History/NonFiction: Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality by Debbie Cenziper, Jim Obergefell
Fav paperback/hardcover: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (also a good YA)

📚 H.B:

Thank you for sharing your list Lila! They all sounds great =) Here’s my list:
Made in Marian series by Lucy Lennox
A Kind of Story series by Lane Hayes
How to Be a Normal Person by TJ Klune
Wolfsong by TJ Klune
At First Sight series by TJ Klune
Soaring Hearts by AL Boyd
Catch a Tiger by the Tail by Charlie Cochet
Smoke & Mirror by Charlie Cochet
The Weight of It All by NR Walker
Red River by Cardeno C.
Not a Game by Cardeno C.

~

Trust me, both of you, I’m taking notes of any books and authors I’ve missed!  There’s plenty of time still to get your list in and be entered in our giveaway.  Here’s all you need to be entered.

STRW 2016 Best of Giveaway

We will pick one random reader who leaves a comment with their year end Best of (along with their email addresses) to receive a $10 DSP gift card.   Contest ends January 29, at midnight.  Must be 18 years of age or older.

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This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Sunday, January 22:

  • Best of 2016 Lists Continue
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, January 23:

  • DSP GUEST POST Reece Pine on In Your Court
  • Amy Tasukada –Blood Stained Tea Tour
  • Club Raven Blog Tour for BA Tortuga, Julia Talbot, and Kiernan Kelly (3 books, one series)
  • BLOG TOUR People Fish by Medella Kingston
  • A MelanieM Review: Blood Stained Tea by Amy Tasukada
  • An Alisa Review: Twelve Gifts by Casper Graham
  • A Paul Release Day Review: Love in the Line of Fire by Michael Murphy

Tuesday, January 24:

  • DSP GUEST POST J. C. Long on Broadway Babe
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Speakeasy by Suzey Ingold
  • A Paul Review: The Last Dragonet by Shannon West and Susan Scott
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Gaining Trust (Kiss of Leather #5) by Morticia Knight
  • An Ali Review: Duncan Andrew’s mysteries (bundle) by Stephen Osborne
  • A MelanieM Review: The Case of the Wandering Wolves by Mell Eight

 

Wednesday, January 25:

  • RIPTIDE Tour: Whiteout by Elyse Springer (giveaway)
  • Review Tour – Anna Martin – The Impossible Boy
  • A Stella Release Day Review:  Nachos & Hash (Mary’s Boys, Novella One) by Brandon Witt
  • A Lila Review:  The Impossible Boy by Anna Martin
  • A Stella Review: Whiteout (Seasons of Love #1) by Elyse Springer
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Just like Cats and Dogs by BA Tortuga

Thursday, January 26:

  • Cover Reveal – Sue Brown’s Goodnight My Angel
  • Release Blitz – K.A. Merikan’s Hipster Brothel
  • Max Vos : blog tour for the re release of his novel P.O.W
  • DSP GUEST POST Caleb James on”Exile”
  • DSP GUEST POST BA Tortuga on Just Like Cats and Dogs
  • A Caryn Review:  Hipster Brothel by K.A. Merikan
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Lord or a Thousand Steps by Tara Lain

Friday, January 27:

  • DSP GUEST POST M.J. O’Shea on The Worst Best Man
  • DSP GUEST POST Michaela Grey on Broken Halo
  • A Caryn Pre Release Review: The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple by K.A. Merikan
  • An Alisa Review: Rockin’ the ‘Nog by Michelle King
  • A VVivacious Release Day Review: Trust Trade by Ki Brightly
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Close to You (Sunshine and Happiness #3) by Skylar M. Cates and Tristan James (Narrator)
  • A VVivacious Release Day Review: Spell Fall by Jacob Z. Flores

Saturday, January 28:

  • Victoria Sue with a New Release – The Alpha King + Giveaway
  • A MelanieM Review: The Case of the Wandering Wolves by Mell Eight

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A VVivacious Release Day Review: Thanks a Lot, John LeClair by Johanna Parkhurst

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Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
 
thanks-a-lot-john-leclairEmmitt LaPoint loves playing hockey. Hockey has been his refuge from the world ever since he was little. He is the golden boy of Colby, Vermont what with being the captain of the high school hockey team and having a near perfect GPA but he is also gay.
 
Emmitt finds it hard to reconcile his love for Dusty with his love for hockey because as he knows it there are no gay hockey players in the NHL. But when things between Dusty and him deteriorate, he has to take a stand for what he wants in his life irrespective of what his Dad or the world at large seems to want for him.
 
My only bone to pick with this book is that when it ended I wanted more! Lots more! I almost wish I could read about Emmitt forever.
 
This book was engaging and so very interesting. It was also incredibly well written. One of things I didn’t like about the first book was that it seemed to be composed entirely of facts with very little exposition. Also the lack of exposition made me feel that things in the first book were happening at break neck speed which could have been intentional on the author’s part but it put a dent in my reading experience. So I am delighted to acknowledge that those dents in the first book were completely hammered out in this book. It was just so beautifully written.
 
This story was written in first person and I have realized that first person narratives are especially lovely when you can relate to the narrator and that is what I loved about this book, the fact that it made me fall in love with Emmitt. I pretty much already loved Dusty, Casey and the Mortons but as the first book is mostly focused on Dusty’s life at home, I hadn’t really formed any opinion on Emmitt. So this book was an eye opener for me. One of the things I loved about Emmitt was that he realized that being impressive and courageous can actually be very tiring, even if it comes instinctually to you, when people start to expect it from you. But in this regard I loved what Coach Jackson had to say, I think I fell in love with him over his words.
 
“You think success is some trophy you put on your shelf? Some number you graduate high school with? Success isn’t something you hold up for other people to look at. It’s a life that’s filled with happiness. Hope. Meaning. Things like that. That’s what the goal is. You end up with any of those things, and it won’t matter how many trophies and numbers you have to show off.”
 
This book deals with so many themes but the most consistent theme that runs throughout this book is that of coming out. But don’t let that statement pigeon hole this book for you because it has so much else to teach. One thing I love about the young adult/new adult genre is that I always get to learn something and on that count this book is a treasure trove. And then there was hockey.  Ice Hockey is a sport I have fallen in love with only on the basis of what I have read of it in mm romance novels, I have no idea if I will enjoy its real life counterpart but I am not in any hurry to find out especially because I have really fallen in love with how it is portrayed in these books and especially this one. I love the whole new dimension that sports can add to a story and I loved how that aspect was used in this book.
 
This book is a must read. It is awfully amazing.
 
Cover Art by Anne Cain. I liked the cover but somehow I can’t agree with the choice of the font for the title what with all its sharp edges and the decision to have the title spread over so much of the cover.
Sales Links
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Book Details:
ebook, 204 pages
Expected publication: December 15th 2016 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1634774299 (ISBN13: 9781634774291)
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL