Lou Hoffmann on Research, Writing, and her new novel Ciarrah’s Light (The Sun Child Chronicles #3) (author interview, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Ciarrah’s Light (The Sun Child Chronicles #3) by Lou Hoffmann
Harmony Ink Press
Cover art: Catt Ford

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Dreamspinner Press   | Amazon paperback: (Link not yet available—will update)  |  B&N paperback: (Link not yet available—will update)  | Books 2 Read Universal Link (ebooks):

https://www.books2read.com/Ciarrahs-Light-by-Lou-Hoffmann

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Lou Hoffman here today talking about the latest release from Harmony Ink Press. Welcome, Lou.

 

♦︎

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Lou Hoffmann ~

*How much of yourself goes into a character?

Every character is me. That’s a cliché, but I think there’s a fair-sized chunk of truth at its core. We can’t write what we can’t imagine, and our imaginings are made up of everything we’ve experienced, whether through life, reading, observation, even dreaming. Every writer does things differently, so I’m speaking only for myself. With that in mind, for main characters, if I tried to make them up piece by piece—filling out a character sheet, or the like—they’d feel less authentic to me, and so probably to the reader. There are some fantastical characters in The Sun Child Chronicles, but they came more or less whole cloth to the story, and it was in writing the story that the characters were more fully revealed.

The first time I imagined the wizard Thurlock, for instance, he was old, and cantankerous, and simultaneously awesomely powerful and a bit bumbling. In my mind, he looked and acted pretty much exactly then as he does now. Is Thurlock me? Well, I’m certainly no wizard and I’m not a thousand years old, but I do know what it’s like to be the one who has to figure things out, the one who has to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat and save the day. And, like Thurlock, I know what it’s like to succeed at that, I know what it’s like to fail, and I know what it’s like to have salvation come from an unexpected source. He’s not me, but he’s made out of parts of me, with a bunch of wonderment and imagination in the mix, and I know him in the same way I know myself—in one long journey of discovery.

One more word about characters being revealed through story, though. It’s not one-sided. The character also reveals the story. The more I know about the story, the more I see the character acting within it. The more I know about the character, the more they show me the story.

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

Short answers all in a row: 1) no, it doesn’t play a role in which genre I write, 2) yes I enjoy research, but also 3) yes I like making up worlds and cultures.

I can’t choose between research and making things up, and in my thinking the difference isn’t exactly crystal. Anytime a writer makes fiction, they are making up a world. It doesn’t matter how closely it resembles the mundane world we all live in. The minute you impose fictional characters and fictional events upon that world, it becomes fictional, and will have to be bent and shaped in places to accommodate the story and characters. So even with contemporary fiction, the writer is imagining a world that doesn’t exist.

Also, for me at least, it’s never proven true that fantasy requires less research than contemporary settings. In non-fantasy genres, if the setting you want is a contemporary or historical city, you research where things are and what they look like, what the weather is like, perhaps what people have lived there, major events or cultural facts, etc. To write a fantasy city, you might have to research what kinds of weather patterns might exist in a geography such as the one you’re writing, what kind of building material might be suited to the environment, what kinds of transportation might be available in a pre-mechanized society. Sure, you’re going to embellish that, but for readers to relate to the story it needs to be grounded in human experience, in what feels possible, even if it isn’t.

In creating the Sun Child Chronicles, I’ve had an interesting situation, in that the Earth in the story and the second world, Ethra, have a lot in common, because they came from the same root—a world in which the seeds of cultural and technological evolution had already begun to grow before it split into two worlds. The new worlds developed at different rates—time actually moves differently too, and unpredictably. In many ways, Ethra resembles a historical, pre-industrial earth. So a lot of research goes into creating the trappings—clothing, occupations, means of transportation, activities, food, facilities. homes, streets, arts—basically everything, just as if I was writing a historical. The result doesn’t match a historical earth, exactly, but it feels familiar in the same way history does.

Then an added layer of research has to do with making the magic itself credible within the story. One item on that agenda, for instance, had to do with the “twin blades” which are first introduced in Key of Behliseth, and gain importance throughout the story, as the title Ciarrah’s Light might indicate. The origin story about these sentient daggers is pure fancy.  The research came into play especially when I was determining what kind of stone might realistically be expected to produce the kind of “personality” each of these weapons have. I settled on obsidian for Ciarrah, the black blade—sharp, dark, strong, reflective. The other blade, Niamh, is amber, a smooth stone with a silky surface, soft, often preserving the stuff of life within it.

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

I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of it that way, but now that I do, I think the answer is an obvious yes. I read a lot as a child and teen—cleaned out the library at my middle school, for instance—so naturally my reading included all sorts of genres. My favorites were often fantastical—like Wind in the Willows, the Borrowers, and A Wrinkle in Time in elementary school. And at that age my “real world” was so small that often stories that were not fantasy felt fantastical anyway. When I was a teen, I read Lord of the Rings, Gormenghast, Earthsea, as well as a good deal of sci-fi. Most of that wasn’t from the school library—my older brother passed his books down to me. In retrospect, those early literary loves certainly must have had a hand in creating my love of writing fantasy.

What’s next for you as an author?

The Sun Child Chronicles has three more books coming in the series proper: Dragon’s Rise, which is written and contracted for Summer 2019, and Kaynenh’s Triad and Suth Chiell’s Conquest in progress. I’m excited about the idea of some shorter, standalone stories that delve into the back story of the Sun Child, perhaps starring Zhevi, a young soldier, or L’Aria, a very exceptional magical girl, or maybe the story of a younger Han Shieth—gay man, perfect uncle, and fantastic warrior that he is in the series books. I’m right now putting together a synopsis for a brand-new series featuring a young woman as the central character, but with a wide cast of characters. Temporarily, I’m calling the series The Ashvale. We’ll see if that sticks.

Thank you for having me on STARW!

Readers, I hope you’ll check out Ciarrah’s Light, and enter the giveaway more than once. Several ways to enter, including the “Why I love fantasy…” poll. Thanks for reading!

Blurb

Sequel to Wraith Queen’s Veil
The Sun Child Chronicles: Book Three

Luccan, future Suth Chiell of the Ethran Sunlands, also known as Lucky, has reached the end of a months-long adventure and gained much. Now he wants nothing more than to relax and recover at home. His mother’s apparition has other ideas, and dark dreams drag Lucky further and further into unconsciousness until he’s nearly dead. With help from Lucky’s sentient obsidian blade, Ciarrah, he makes it back to the light, only to find his country is in deep distress, and it’s getting deeper.

 

The wizard Thurlock, Lucky’s dragon-kin uncle Han, and other friends help him muddle through as he becomes the channel for prophecy. War erupts in the Sunlands, and in a battle against wraiths created by the advanced science of a dying world, Lucky plays a key role. Physical weapons can’t stop the enemy, but Ciarrah’s light can, and only Lucky can wield it. With the help of his winged horse, his boyfriend, and Thurlock, Lucky sets out to prevent his mother’s shade from wreaking any more havoc. But will stopping her end the horrors facing his world?

Excerpt

___________________________

Lucky 

The path from the valley floor up to the top of the ridge wasn’t at all horse-friendly, so he left Zef to graze at the bottom. He enjoyed the physical exertion of climbing. It pushed worries further toward the back of his mind, and by the time he got to the top he was feeling more lighthearted than he had at any time since leaving Morrow’s farm—which had been either weeks or months ago, depending on whose time you counted by.

Lucky walked along the ridge toward the northern end. The ridge was bare of tall trees there except for the single oak that gave it its name. Probably the upthrust granite that formed most of the upland on this end, coupled with constant crosswinds sluicing down from the hills on all sides, kept all but the strongest of trees to a low, aromatic scrub. Once there had been more tall, broad trees, though, or at least one more. A long-ago fallen log made a perfect bench for someone who wanted to enjoy those breezes, take in the panoramic view, and be alone with his thoughts.

Lucky settled onto the log and looked out over the Behlvale, which stretched miles across, and many more miles long in both directions. It seemed vast, and the solitude of it peaceful. But after a few minutes of gratefully breathing air he didn’t have to share with anyone, he admitted that honestly, he didn’t want to be alone. He wanted to be with Rio.

Rio, the youngest of Stable Master Morrow’s seven sons, was the only real boyfriend Lucky had ever had, and he hoped it would stay that way. He was young, and who could know what would happen? He could have lots of boyfriends before it was all over. But he loved Rio—loved for real—and Rio loved him back, and Lucky didn’t want to move on. If keeping what he and Rio had meant missing him and being lonely, he was willing to do it.

That didn’t mean he had to like it, though. He remembered running his hands through Rio’s thick black curls, caressing his cheek with its maturing black beard, kissing him. He thought about looking into Rio’s eyes, putting an I love you into real words, walking with him and holding hands. When he imagined these things, he thought he felt an echoing ping against his heart, and he decided to believe Rio was thinking of him too.

It wasn’t more than seconds before the sweet joy of that thought turned into blue loneliness, but minutes passed before he realized that the darkness creeping into the corner of his vision to the northwest wasn’t the product of his sorrowful reverie. Peering into the distance, he saw several men moving about in a place where a series of tall, narrow stones stood in no discernible pattern. One man wore white robes, and magic disturbed the air around him like a vaguely purple heat mirage. Where the man faced and gestured, pillars and curtains of shadow were taking shape, anchored in or suspended from the stones, billowing and blossoming like fountains from the ground.

And they looked hauntingly, alarmingly familiar.

“Uncle Han? Can you hear me? It’s important!

Series description:

Cursed and exiled to Earth by a witch, Lucky has only his name, a pocketful of strange items, and the destiny to become the Sun Child and lead his world through its darkest time. In an epic adventure full of dragons, shifters, talismans, magic, alien enemies, shifting time, and wars waged for survival, humanity’s only hope is one young man’s unquenchable strength, spirit, and heart.

About the Author

Lou Hoffmann, a mother and grandmother now, has carried on her love affair with books for more than half a century, and she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—partly because the list keeps growing. She reads factual things—books about physics and history and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. She loves all sorts of wonderful things: music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, flora and fauna, rivers and seas. Even good movies and popcorn! Those things help her breathe, and everyone she knows helps her write. (Special mention goes to (1) George the Lady Cat and (2) readers.) Proud to be a bisexual, biracial woman (of European and Native American descent), Lou considers every person a treasure not to be taken for granted. In her life, she’s seen the world’s willingness to embrace differences change, change back, and change again in dozens of ways, but she has great hope for the world the youth of today will create. She writes for readers who find themselves anywhere on the spectrums of age, sexuality, and gender, aiming to create characters that live not only in their stories, but always in your imagination and your heart.

Author Links:

Visit her on her blog: http://www.queerlyya.rainbow-gate.com

Like her page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouHoffmannBooks/

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lou_Hoffmann

Giveaway

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October’s Scary Joys and Frights! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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October’s Scary Joys and Frights!

This week’s topic came to me because one of my friends has been sending out pictures of her house that she’s getting ready for Halloween.  Now she and her family are renown for how their house shows.  It looks as though it was professionally knocked out and produced by someone in Hollywood.  Nope, just in the wonderfully warped brain by my friend and her family.  This year?  They are adding actors.  Most likely returned son and his soon to be husband lol.  People come from miles around to see her  place and trick or treat there.  And be scared the beejazus out of!    It takes months of  planning and they start over a month in advance to lay out the decorations and wiring.  It’s’ clearly a joy for all involved.  I’ll see if she posts a vid this year and bring it to you.

She’s not alone.

Halloween has become one of the most popular holidays in the U.S.  We decorate our houses, planning way in advance, and we plan, and coordinate our costumes too.  Parties galore happen all over the place, and streets like  Georgetown flow with Ironman and Scarlet Witch,  Thors and WonderWoman.  You name it, the costume is there, and probably some you can’t.  That’s great too.  People feel free to express themselves, free their imaginations…sometimes it’s much easier to be yourself under a wig and behind a mask  Took a turn there didn’t I?

The unexpected.  That’s always to be found at Halloween as well.  Never forget it’s origins.  More on that to come next Sunday.

Until then let’s enjoy people’s efforts to get into the spirit of Halloween this year.  Do you know someone who goes 100 percent when decorating for Halloween?  Are you one of those people?  I know I am!  And I need more pumpkins to carve…

Some of the readers recommendations for frightful reads?  Let’s see what they have in store for us!

From H.B.:

I don’t usually read horror or psychological thrillers. Those are things I rather watch. But I have read a few books that have ran chills down my spine:
The Rats by James Herbert
My Boyfriend’s Back by Elliot Cooper
Buried Desires 1-2 by Ofelia Gränd and Amy Spector
Silent Woods by Ofelia Gränd
The Deadly Sugar Collection by Ofelia Gränd
The Snowflake by Ofelia Gränd (will be in Buried Desire 3 releasing this week, which i received the ARC of)

I think a story that is written with an ominous tone and reference things like murder,death or torture as if it’s a everyday occurrence in people’s lives is chilling. If it becomes too gruesome it just becomes hard to read also.

From Purple Reader:

Boy, you really do like Oct; plenty of good ideas. As are the ones from H.B. Like H.B., I’ve not made my tbr-for-Oct list yet, but here are some more I’d rec from two authors you’ve mentioned:
If you like John Inman like I do, definitely rec Spirit, and:
– Sunset Lake
– The Boys on the Mountain
If you love Jordan L. Hawk like I do, also rec. Hainted, and:
– Restless Spirits (Spirits #1)
– Threshold (Whyborne & Griffin #2)

What makes a story go Boo for You?  And which ones have?

You have until the end of the month to get your recs into us.  I’m sure the authors and publishers will be releasing titles all month.  Let us know what new ones you find.  We will be doing the same.  Gift certs will be given out in our Horror or Boo For You Title Rec Giveaway!

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, October 14:

  • Release Blitz: Orc Haven by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus
  • Blog Tour Savor Me (Kitchen Gods #3) by Beth Bolden
  • October’s Scary Joys and Frights!
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, October 15:

  • Release Blitz Building Forever by Kelly Jensen
  • Release Blitz – – His To Save (The Candy Cane Club #2) by Ari McKay
  • Dreamspun Promo Cari Z. on Handle with Care
  • A VVivacious Review: Orc Haven by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus
  • A Lucy Review: Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) by Anyta Sunday
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Devil Take Me Anthology

Tuesday, October 16:

  • Release Day Blitz Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) by Anyta Sunday
  • Review Tour – Lone Wolf by Anna Martin
  • Promo BA Tortuga
  • A MelanieM Releases Day Review: Calculated Magic by SJD Peterson
  • A Lucy Release Day Review: Handle With Care by Cari Z
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Lincoln’s Park (Links In the Chain) by Parker Williams
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Lone Wolf by Anna Martin

Wednesday, October 17:

  • Tour for Soulbound by Archer Kay Leah
  • Release Blitz – Roads Series by Garrett Leigh
  • Release Blitz & Review Tour – Baylin Crow – Fling
  • TOUR Leopold Author: M.D. Grimm
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Yakuza (Guns and Roses #1) by Lilia Blanc
  • A Lila Review: Rebuilding Hope (Kindred #1) by Jessie G.

Thursday, October 18:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Building Forever by Kelly Jensen
  • Review Tour Boy Shattered by Eli Easton
  • BLOG TOUR Commitment Collection Box Set by Karen Botha
  • Promo TOUR for Parker Williams and  Lincoln’s Park (Links In the Chain)
  • A Lucy Prerelease Review: Harmonious Hearts 2018
  • A Stella Review: Savor Me by Beth Bolden
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Boy Shattered by Eli Easton

Friday, October 19:

  • Review Tour – Sam Burns’ Adder and Willow
  • Release Blitz – Sarah Hadley Brook’s Gateway To Love
  • Promo BL Morticia
  • Harmony Promo Lou Hoffmann
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Gateway to Love by Sarah Hadley Brook
  • A Free Dreamer  Review: Adder and Willow (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #6) by Sam Burns
  • A Caryn Review:  Fireworks and Stolen Kisses (Lijun #1) by Angel Martinez and Freddy MacKay

Saturday, October 20:

  • Release Blitz Tour – Blake Moreno – Heat For Sale (writing Leta Blake) Signal Boost
  • A BeeJay Review: Escaping Solitude (Escape Trilogy #2) by Sara Dobie Bauer

 

 

 

What Makes A Scary Story? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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What Makes A Scary Story?

Is it an outright gore fest?  Or is it the chill that builds?  The scream that shatters the night?  Or the quiet that settles softly, quickly before it becomes apparent all noises have ceased…except for the sounds of someone breathing?

If you are talking about a romance with a touch of the dread, is one member of the couple in  danger or both? Contemporary, paranormal, supernatural or does it even matter?  Does it have clowns?  *Shudders*

What’s your cuppa chilling horror?  Do you even have one?

Mine have always been the latter, no not clowns, never clowns.  A twist on the normal where suddenly things are just a little bit off, then come a skittering of beetles….enough to send shivers up your spine but not enough to make you put down the story.  That’s why I have always loved the lyrical, almost poetic works like Lily or Earthly Concerns by Xavier Axelson where the horror is quiet and unearthly. Or The Reunion by M.D. Neu which layer by layer slowly unfolded a remarkable truth.

Other reviewers here  have loved the scary tales that John Inman has occasionally written.  Others fall into the shifter romances which for me aren’t really horror or scary tbh.

What are your criteria for a story to fall into a horror or scare genre?  I was scanning through various writing blogs  and most agree that there are 8 elements for horror:

8 Elements Of A Horror Story
  • Gothic elements. Things put in a story meant to scare you.
  • Monster. Antagonist.
  • Protagonist. Someone who battles the monster.
  • Motivation. Why the monster is what it is.
  • Setting/atmosphere. Over all feeling you get.
  • Foreshadowing. Gives clue on what is going to happen.
  • Mood. The readers feeling as they are reading the story.
  • Suspense.

Amazing how that can apply to contemporary stories where the monsters are human beings who do the most atrocious things. Real monsters are everywhere unfortunately.  However, back to things that go bump in the night.

Most of us don’t think about this when reading our stories.  We think about the end product.  How did we feel reading the story?  Did we get the shivers?  Were we concerning for the couple/person involved?  Did the events/ending upset us?  Did the tale continue to linger with us long after the story was done?  I think we can agree that most great monsters and stories live on and on because their creators have done their job extremely well and their stories continue to resonate generation after generation.  Just look at Frankenstein and Dracula!

So getting back to our current stories or just plain stories.  Which ones have continued to resonate with you?  Or what new ones have found a home in your collection?

What makes a story go Boo for You?  And which ones have?

You have until the end of the month to get your recs into us.  I’m sure the authors and publishers will be releasing titles all month.  Let us know what new ones you find.  We will be doing the same.  Gift certs will be given out in our Horror or Boo For You Title Rec Giveaway!

 

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, October 7:

  • What Makes A Scary Story?
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • BLOG TOUR: Rebuilding Hope by Jessie G
  • Release Blitz: BURN (Witchbane #1.5) by Morgan Brice

Monday, October 8:

  • Book Blast – A Pride Anthem by Rob Browatzke
  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway:  TOO HOT! by Avery Giles
  • Blog Tour Date His Instant Family by Rheland Richmond
  • A Lucy Review: A Pride Anthem by Rob Browatzke
  • An Alisa Review: Square One (Under The Uniform #7) by JJ Harper
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Craft Brew (Trouble Brewing #2) by Layla Reyne
  • An Ashlez Review: Murderous Twins by Edward Kendrick

Tuesday, October 9:

  • BLOG TOUR Craft Brews by Layla Reyne
  • Hearts Untouched by Andrew Grey Book Tour
  • Release Blitz – Lone Wolf – Anna Martin
  • Release Blitz –  From The Ashes by C.M. Valencourt
  • An Alisa Review: Ginger and the Wolf by Kerry McBoyd
  • A Free Dreamer Review: SYN Consulting (Dragon War Chronicles #1) by A.G. Carothers
  • A Caryn Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

Wednesday, October 10:

  • Review Tour – Leta Blake – Any Given Lifetime
  • New Release Blitz: Out in the End Zone by Lane Hayes
  •  Promo David C. Dawson
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Heart Untouched (Hearts Entwined #3) by Andrew Grey
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Texas Charm (Aberrant Magic series#6) by Lyn Gala
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  Any Given Lifetime by Leta Blake

Thursday, October 11:

  • Release Blitz – Take It All – Steamy Encounters Collection by Quin Perin
  • Release Blitz – Sam Burns’ Adder and Willow
  •  Promo Andrew Grey
  • A Lila Release Day Review: Long Black Cadillac by BA Tortuga
  • A MelanieM Review: Grasmere Cottage Mystery Trilogy by Dahlia Donovan
  • A Lila Review: His Pagan Love by Wayne Mansfield
  • A Stella Review: Falling Into Love by Nell Iris & Kris T Bethke

Friday, October 12:

  • Release Blitz – Love’s Trials by Janice Jarrell
  • Dreamspun Promo SJD Peterson
  • Review Tour – Neve Wilder’s Center Of Gravity
  • A MelanieM Review: Love’s Trials (Revolutionary Heart #2) by Janice Jarrell
  • An Ali Review: Sadistic Sherlock (Ward Security #4) by Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott
  • A MelanieM Review: Center Of Gravity (Nook Island #1) by Neve Wilder

Saturday, October 13:

  • A Stella Release Day Review: Strays by A.J. Thomas
  • Blog Post Request – Center Of Gravity (Nook Island #1) by Neve Wilder

Russell J. Sanders on One World and his new release ‘You Can’t Tell by Looking’ (author guest blog)

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You Can’t Tell by Looking by Russell J. Sanders
Harmony Ink Press

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Sales Links:  Amazon | Harmony Ink Press

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Russell J. Sanders here today on tour for his latest story, You Can’t Tell by Looking.  Welcome, Russell.

♦︎

 

One World by

Russell J. Sanders

When I taught high school literature, one of my objectives was to explain what a tragic hero was. For those who may have slept through my lesson, a tragic hero is one who is basically good but through a character flaw is brought down. Think Macbeth, for Shakespeare’s play of the same name is the one where this lesson came. Anyway, my students were tasked with writing an essay about some well-known figure they thought was a tragic hero. This was back in the 90s, long before Saddam Hussein was deposed. But we knew he was a ruthless dictator. I had one young woman, a bright and sunny personality, who chose Hussein as her example. I questioned her choice, but she explained that to her people—she was an Iraqi immigrant—Saddam was a beloved leader until his quest for power got the best of him. I was not sure that was the case, but it was evident she understood the assignment and what a tragic hero was.

And why am I relating this tale now? Lemme ‘splain, as Ricky Ricardo said to Lucy. I prided myself on loving and accepting all my students no matter what their backgrounds were. My job and my desire was to make each and every one of them feel like they mattered, like they had worth. I was supporting my gay students long before being gay was anywhere near acceptable in our school, and in actuality, before I felt comfortable and safe in coming out to them.

I look back, firmly confident I was a good teacher, and yet something was missing. I’d spent a lifetime studying religions, but I’d confined myself to the Judeo/Christian traditions. I could tell you all about the various Protestant sects. I could explain a lot of Catholic practices. And I was quite versed in Judaism. But I knew nothing about Islam. That was as foreign to me as was Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, or any other ism that wasn’t mainstream America. I knew I taught Muslim students, and I was proud that I treated them no different than any others, but I am ashamed to admit that I knew so little of their customs, beliefs, and traditions.

Then the world changed. I found myself surrounded by adults I had thought were sane and rational spouting hatred for Muslims. Wanting to annihilate them before they “got us.” Wanting to exclude them from our country before they could take over. None of this fit my worldview, no matter how narrow it was in regards to Islam.

So I started reading. I started watching documentaries and movies about Muslims. I had to fill myself with as much knowledge about this “exotic” religion as I could. And I found it’s not so strange after all. It’s tenets echo those of every faith. It is, in fact, an Abrahamic religion. What’s that, you say? Abrahamic religions are rooted in Abraham in the Bible. Yep, the Jewish and Christian religions are Abrahamic religions.

Like with every time I fill myself with knowledge, I have a desire to write about it. I explored polygamist cults, and from that was born my novel The Book of Ethan. I became interested in the heinous act of child sexual abuse, and thus Colors was born. My love for Chicago and my desire to examine whether the rich are really different led to Thirteen Therapists. My own teen years and my fascination with the 1960s era birthed All You Need Is Love. A trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a visit to the Titanic Museum there was the basis of Titanic Summer. Special Effect grew out of the lifetime I’ve spent in the theater. It seems whatever I become obsessed with makes itself into my writing.

And so it was with all these things I learned about Islam. I wanted to know if a Muslim teen could be gay and his family be okay with it. I wanted to know if he himself could be okay with it. I wanted to know what would happen if someone in his family was not okay with it. And mostly, I wanted to know what would happen if an outsider, a Protestant boy, fell in love with this Muslim teen.

All that became You Can’t Tell by Looking. I don’t pretend to know everything about Islam. I’ll leave that to the scholars and the practitioners of Islam. There are some who might say it is presumptuous of me to even take on the topic. But my novels reflect the real world, and in this society, we encounter followers of every religion. We may not know we are interacting, but we are. And why is it that we may not know? Because you can’t tell by looking.

Yes, a woman who chooses to wear a hijab or a burka instantly labels herself as Muslim. Other than that, we don’t know if the guy at the checkout counter is Muslim, Catholic, or a Jehovah’s Witness. We make assumptions, and often those assumptions can be wrong. It is only when we get to know the persons we come into contact with that we know their backgrounds and belief systems.

That not knowing and those wrong assumptions are the barriers we live with. The barriers that keep us from being one world. The barriers that create the fear that is insidious. We’ve heard so many times, I’m not racist because my neighbor is African-American, and he is a lovely person. We hear people decry they are not homophobic because one of their friends is gay. Familiarity is a great leveler. But knowing one black man, one gay man doesn’t necessarily mean you are free from prejudice. As loving as I think I am, I, from time to time, feel my own long-repressed, deep-seated prejudice rearing its ugly head.

So many people, terrified of the bombings that have plagued the world, those strikes by crazed Islamic fundamentalists, want to put every Muslim into the same basket. But none of us neatly fits into a basket. We all have our quirks and peccadilloes that set us apart. And yet, the members of the human race are basically good. I truly believe that.

With You Can’t Tell by Looking, I set out to tell a tale where living near Muslims is right and normal, where a Muslim can be gay and unafraid, where we learn from our mistakes, and rejoice that we can embrace each other. That is what You Can’t Tell by Looking is all about. It is not about being Muslim or Protestant; it is about loving each other the way we are.

More about You Can’t Tell by Looking

Gabe Dillon’s life changes when he gazes across his new school’s commons and spies handsome Kerem Uzun, and he wants to know more. Kerem is senior class president. He is mostly very well liked. He comes from a family of doctors, is of Turkish heritage, and he is Muslim.

At first Gabe doesn’t understand the ritual he sees Kerem performing. But as the boys bond, Gabe is eager to learn about Islam. He’s falling in love with a boy who may or may not be gay, a boy whose religion may condemn Gabe’s open homosexuality. 

Complicating the budding relationship is Timur, Kerem’s cousin, who has grown up alongside Kerem as his brother. A family tragedy left Timur homeless, and Kerem’s parents took him in. But as Kerem grows into his own way of looking at life and how it fits into his devout practice of his faith, Timur is becoming more fundamental in his practice of Islam. And he isn’t the only one opposed to the friendship between Kerem and Gabe. Can they forge a lasting relationship amid so many challenges?

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Gabriel

“That is the most gorgeous creature I’ve ever laid eyes on!”

Did I say that out loud? Or did I just think it? Whatever. I’m standing here, at the end of the first day at my new school, gazing across the commons at a guy who is mesmerizing. His slender stature—straight and tall like a soldier and muscled like one as well—says he has the confidence of a lion. His jaw is square, his closely cropped black curls shine, and even this far from him, I see eyes as black as midnight that sparkle as he laughs with his friends. I can’t look away from him.

“So how was your first day?” I hear my cousin’s voice, and I want to respond, but I am entranced by this magnificent specimen across the way. “Gabe?” Shaun is almost shouting in my ear, but I continue to ignore him. “Earth to Gabriel, Earth to Gabriel.” Shaun’s call pounds into me, but it doesn’t break my concentration.

Not taking my eyes off the god I’ve just discovered, I say, “What, Shaun?” trying to keep the annoyance out of my voice.

“What’s up, Gabe? I’m trying to get an update on your first day here, and you’re blowing me off.”

Shaun is right, and to be fair, I shouldn’t be doing this. But my eyes don’t want to leave this vision. They’re glued to the guy.

“Oh, I see, you’ve discovered our resident towelhead.” His use of that disgusting slur rips me away from the object of my attention for a moment.

“Shaun, you know as well as I do name-calling is lower than low. I’m surprised at you.” My cousin and I have never been close, but we’ve been raised in the same family with the same values—or at least I thought so. I’m reasonably certain my aunt, my dad’s sister, would not like hearing her son say what he did.

“Look, Gabe, I’m only calling it like it is. That guy you have the hots for is a Muslim. Is that the term you’d rather I use? Either way, he’s just one jihad away from blowing this school sky-high.”

“Are you kidding me? You really believe that about all Muslims?

That they are all waiting for the chance to strap on a bomb and take out the world?”

“Gabriel, my man, this ain’t the little town you spent your life in until now. We don’t leave our front doors unlocked. We don’t ask just anyone into our lives. We’re cautious. And when someone like him, the one you’re drooling over right now”—he points to the object of my fascination—“is around, you need to be on your guard. No telling what’s going on in his mind.”

I truly want to go off on Shaun right now. He’s being blatantly bigoted, and it pisses me off, but Shaun has been so good to me this past summer. When my dad announced we were moving here and I wouldn’t be graduating from my school back home, leaving the friends I’ve always known, Shaun took it upon himself to make the transition easier for me. He spent the entire summer texting me and skyping with me, trying to get me ready for the day I’d just spent. I stayed with Gram and Pop while Mom and Dad moved here at the beginning of summer.

I’d spent the last three summers teaching little kids how to swim at the Y, and I wasn’t about to give that up. So my parents told me I could live with my grandparents while they got the new house set up and Dad started his new job. He was an insurance salesman in our hometown, but now he’s working at his company’s headquarters here in the city. A big promotion for him. So I didn’t raise much of a ruckus when I was told I’d be moving. And Shaun’s wrong about our “little town.” It has a hundred and fifty thousand residents, give or take a few, so it’s not a tiny place; granted, it’s not as big as this ginormous city.

Anyway, given my status as the new kid and my cousin’s eagerness to make me feel welcome, I had no right to deal with his attitude at the moment. That might come later, if he kept it up.

About the Author

Russell J. Sanders is a man on a quest. In his travels all over the world, he searches out Mexican restaurants. A lifelong Texan, raised on Tex-Mex, he wants to try the enchiladas and other delicacies that pass for Mexican food in the far reaches of the world. He has been pleasantly surprised in Tokyo and Indonesia and left wondering in Rome and a few
other places. Sometimes what the menu says and what you are served is not what is expected. But the joy is in the quest.

Russell’s also on a quest to spread a very important message: love is found in many forms in this world, and being gay or lesbian or bisexual or any other variation is normal, healthy, and wonderful. He wants his novels to bolster the confidence of gay teens and change the minds of or educate further all the others who may stumble upon his prose.

Russell’s writing joins his long career of acting, singing, and teaching, adding to his passions for cooking and reading. He has won awards for his acting and directing and has taught theater to hundreds of teens. He has also taught additional thousands of teenagers the art of writing and the love for literature. He is always in the middle of a good story, whether
reading it or writing it. And he can whip up a delicious meal in minutes.

He does all this with the support of his husband, a man he has loved for over twenty years and married a few years ago. They live happily in Houston, Texas.

Visit my website: www.russelljsanders.weebly.com

Follow me on Facebook at Russell J. Sanders, author: https://www.facebook.com/Russell-J-Sanders-author-514666448554674/

Follow me on Twitter: @russelljsanders

Visit my author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Russell-Sanders/e/B00AVXOY80/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

View my book trailers:  (all book trailers use free use public domain images and music)

You Can’t Tell by Looking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHRoe4bBWDU&feature=youtu.be 

Special Effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrVphGxgXqc&feature=youtu.be

The Book of Ethan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6IBm1CBINg

Colors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwkLr2TTpcI

All You Need Is Love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsQUwQUoUzs&feature=youtu.be

Titanic Summer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVqWvlOP-PQ

Falling Frightfully Into October! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Falling Frightfully Into October!

 

How I love this month! Or to be more specifically the month of October, only days away!  It’s a time of changing leaves, the arrival of fall, hopefully a crispness of air, and of course, that favorite  of holidays Halloween!  All Hallows Eve. More about the holiday later this month.  But it’s also time to think about all those lovely stories that carry a tinge of horror, a bite of fright, or a element of scare!

So all month I’ll be recommending series and stories to read.  I hope you will be chiming in too.  We need our Frightening Reads Recommendations!

So to get us started heres some that I’ve rec’d from the past:

From Missouri Dalton, author of the recent releases

The Hanged Man’s Ghost (The Night Wars, #1)
The Night Shift (The Night Wars #2)
The Hellfire Legacy

Guidebook Series

Vampirism And You! (Guidebook 01) ~ my review here
Necromancy and You (Guidebook 02) ~ my review here

Pretty Monsters coverPeek A Boo coverTriple Feature coverJosh of the Damned The Final Checkout

Author Andrea Speed:

Josh of the Damned Series – humor and the Supernatural -killer combo along with outstanding covers

Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #1 (Josh of the Damned #3) by Andrea Speed
Pretty Monsters (Josh of the Damned, #1)
Peek-a-Boo (Josh of the Damned, #2)
Night of the Dust Bunnies (Josh of the Damned, #3.5)
Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #2: The Final Checkout (Josh of the Damned #4)
Merry Christmas, Josh! (Josh of the Damned #4.5)
Josh of the Damned: The Complete Collection

The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin

And finally, two short tales of such lyrical elegance and narrative poetry I read them over and over in admiration.   These should be on everyone’s must read list!

End Street Detectives by RJ Scott and Amber Kell

Lily by Xavier Axelson

Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall

Now from some previous years recommendations:

In A Dark Wood civerKraken coverWinter Kills coverDown cover

 

 

 

 

 

In a Dark Wood by Josh Lanyon: If you want something scary-creepy to make you cower under the blankets and double-check the doors and windows. Look no further. Who knew Lanyon could rival King, in this I see the making of the Master of M/M horror. And this horror buff wants more of this style of writing from Lanyon please.

Winter: Haunted Heart by Josh Lanyon: For those who want more of haunted-creepy, Lanyon has you covered there as well. Check out this lovely ghostly mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed. The audio version’s narrator is excellent if you’re into audiobooks.

Kraken by M. Caspian: Ready for the creature feature now guys? Then check this one out. It takes creepy to a whole new level. You know the slimy, make-your-skin crawl kind. *shiver*

Down by Ally Blue: Features violence and death trapped seven fathoms below the deep. Creatures with glowing purple eyes and sharp teeth and a horror that could annihilate the human race-EEK! Tantalizing beginning and an ending that circled nicely back to it. The author’s writing style didn’t work well for me personally, but many others loved it and the story is most certainly eerie and quite unique.

As for favorite scary reads…
Slasherazzi by Daniel A. Kaine

Favorite shifters…
The Tameness of the Wolf series by Kendall McKenna

Hainted by Jordan L. Hawk

Spirit by John Inman

What are you reading this All Hallows Eve?  We will be adding to the list all month long and gift certificates will be given out!

 

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, September 30:

  • Falling Frightfully Into October!
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • New Release Blitz for Sadistic Sherlock (Ward Security #4) by Joceylynn Drake and Rinda Elliott
  • Cover Reveal – Burn (Witchbane #1.5) by Morgan Brice
  • A MelanieM Review: Building Forever by Kelly Jensen
  • A Stella Review The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (Butterfly Hunter #3) by Julie Bozza

Monday, October 1:

  • Cover Reveal Commitment Collection Box Set by Karen Botha
  • Dreamspun Promo Kim Fielding on The Spy’s Love Song (Stars from Peril)
  • Promo Tara lain on Love You So Special
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Surviving the Apocalypse by Tinnean
  • A Lucy Review From the Ashes by C.M. Valencourt
  • A MelanieM Review: A Taste Of Agapi by Chris Ethan
  • A Stella Review: Holiday Tales from Fairyland by Joe Cosentino

Tuesday, October 2:

  • BLOG TOUR THRALL by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish
  • Blog Tour With a Twist by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn
  • TOUR To Save His Prince by Hurri Cosmo
  •  BLITZ A Dance of Water and Air by Antonia Aquilante
  • A Jeri Review: Thrall by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish
  • A Lila Audiobook Review Cowboy in the Crosshairs (Turquoise, New Mexico) by BA Tortuga
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: The Spy’s Love Song (Stars from Peril) by Kim Fielding

Wednesday, October 3:

  • Release Blitz – Claw Marks & Card Games by Maz Maddox
  • Cover Reveal Tour – V.L. Locey – One-On-One (Cayuga Cougars #5)
  • Review Tour Garrett Leigh – Lucky
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady  Review: Of Sunlight and Stardust by Riley Hart & Christina Lee
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: The Librarian’s Ghost (The Supers #2) by Sean Michael
  • An Ali Review: Lucky by Garrett Leigh
  • A Stella Review: All He Ever Needed by Cate Ashwood

Thursday, October 4:

  • Release Day Blitz Of Sunlight and Stardust by Riley Hart & Christina Lee
  • Spotlight Blog Tour and Giveaway for Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall
  • Release Blitz –  – Center Of Gravity by Neve Wilder
  • Dreamspun Promo Sean Michael
  • An Alisa Review: Promises: The Next Generation (Bounty Hunters #5) by A.E. Via
  • An Ashley Review: The Academy by Quinn Anderson
  • A MelanieM Review : Distant Cousins by Eric Huffbind

Friday, October 5:

  • Consulting: Dragon War Chronicles Book One by AG Carothers Blog Tour
  • Harmony Promo Russell J. Sanders
  • Review Tour – Ryker (Owatonna U Hockey #1) by R.J. Scott & V.L. Locey
  • A Free Dreamer Review: BURN (Witchbane #1.5) by Morgan Brice
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Of Gallantry and Magic, by Alex Hintermann
  • A MelanieM Review: Ryker (Owatonna U Hockey #1) by R.J. Scott & V.L. Locey
  • An Ashley Review The Beach Brat by Louise Collins

Saturday, October 6:

  • Book Blast: The Selkie Prince and His Omega Guard
  • Release Blitz – Nell Iris – Us Again
  • Release Blitz *signal)Tour – Jay Northcote – Not Just Friends
  • A MelanieM Review: Claw Marks & Card Games (Stallion Ridge #2) by Maz Maddox
  • A Stella Review “no way out” by Eric Alan Westfall

 

 

Andi Van on Creating a Character and the new release ‘Magic Wept (The Mages’ Guild Trilogy #2) by Andi Van (guest post, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Magic Wept (The Mages’ Guild Trilogy #2)  by Andi Van
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon  |  Dreamspinner Press

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andi Van on tour for Magic Wept, the new release in The Mages’ Guild Trilogy. Welcome, Andi!

♦︎♦︎

 

 

 

Once upon a time (the early 1990s), before the dawn of the internet as we know it, there was a BBS (that’s “Bulletin Board System”, and we had to use actual phone lines to dial into them via modem) in which I ran a role-playing group set in a mages’ guild. My character’s name was Trivintaie, and she was a redheaded mage with a penchant for mischief.

 

Yes, she was THAT Triv. The same Triv that starts off the whole Mages’ Guild Trilogy.

 

When I decided to revive her and write the trilogy, I knew I couldn’t make her the main character. Her time had passed, and too many other people had taken part in creating her guild for it to really be mine. So I set the trilogy a thousand years in the future and gave her world a new hero.

 

What I didn’t expect was that I’d pack it with such a diverse set of characters, most of which reflecting some part of the rainbow. It was completely unintentional, but once I realized it was happening, I was thrilled. One of my goals was to give young adults—and adults not quite so young—characters that maybe they could identify with in a way they might not have been able to before.

 

So I’d like to introduce you all to some of the new characters in the second book of the trilogy, Magic Wept.

But before that, I wanted to let you all know that there is indeed a giveaway. I will be randomly generating three winners on September 30th, all of whom will receive a plush purple cat (because nothing says magic like a K’yerin plushie—Tasis’ familiar is just full of himself enough to agree with that sentiment) and an ebook copy of Magic Wept. You can enter the giveaway at

http://andivan.com/magic-wept-blog-tour/.

And now, on to the characters.

The character I’d like to introduce you to today is Emlynn. Emlynn is a very short giantess.

 

Yeah, I know, it sounds funny. But it’s true.

 

Giants, in the trilogy’s world, are roughly twenty feet tall when they’re adults. Em, who is fully grown, is seven feet tall. This is like having a fully grown person the height of the average toddler. Among the giants, she’s made fun of for her height, and is understandably touchy about it. I hadn’t intended it when I created her, but I’d like to think she serves as a reminder that physical differences shouldn’t matter, and people shouldn’t be judged on them. As the saying goes, it’s what’s inside that counts.

 

As far as what she represents as far as the rainbow is concerned… Well, things are more vague with the elves and giants. Gender absolutely does not matter to them, in terms of attraction, and Em is no different. And while I could absolutely call her bisexual here, I’m actually going to go with pansexual, which I tend to think of as including genders outside of what’s thought of as the standard binary. (Don’t worry, my bisexual friends, your turn is coming.)

 

I adore Emlynn. She’s got a huge heart, and once she’s around people who love her as she is, she absolutely shines.

 

(Fun fact: MamaVan—that would be my mother—LOVED the giants in the first book, and demanded more of them in the second. I’d already planned on that, but I had yet to name Em when she did, so I decided to name Em in her honor. The name Emlynn is actually a mashup of MamaVan’s name.)

 

Like with Jorget, I had a choice of pulling an excerpt for Em from the beginning of the story, or from the end, where she’s gained some confidence. For her, I opted to pull something more from the middle. She’s starting to come into her own, and it’s showing, but she’s also not completely sure of herself.

 

***

Excerpt

 

“I have my strength,” Emlynn said, ignoring Reikos’s comment about Daro. “And a few spells, though the ones I know are basic and likely not much help in a fight, not unless I can get close enough to blind someone with light.”

 

“I can cast fireballs,” Jorget said, sounding rather pleased with himself.

 

“From the ceiling,” Emlynn said under her breath, though she gave Jorget a bit of a grin when she did to let him know she was teasing. Apparently he got the message, because he stuck his tongue out at her.

 

“Yeah, let’s not try any levitation spells,” Kelwin said with a grimace. “And Jorget, please, for the love of the Maker, do not try to teach Tasis a fireball spell. He just put that guild back together. I’d rather it didn’t get burned down already.”

 

Jorget made a noise of protest, but Reikos cut through it by addressing Emlynn. “You said something about light?”

 

“Yes,” the giantess said with a nod. “It’s more convenient than having to carry a torch or a candle.”

 

“Are you okay being up front with me? Because we’re going to need that light.” Emlynn nodded again, and Reikos continued. “Good. I want Jorget and Kelwin in the middle.” He looked at Kelwin and gave him an apologetic smile. “I know you can fight if you need to, but I’d rather not give Tasis an excuse to tear me apart later.”

 

“It’s fine,” Kelwin said, having expected it. He was fairly useless if they came across a serious threat anyway, and this way he could keep an eye on Jorget. The guy was definitely talented, from what he could tell, but he had no idea how to focus. Some time on the isle with Triv and the others would take care of that, but that would have to come after their foray into the depths of the mountain.

 

There was a flutter of wings, and Bahz landed on Emlynn’s shoulder. The bird had to be heavy, and his talons had to be gripping the giantess painfully, but she merely turned her head with a look of vague surprise on her face. Did the girl ever show strong emotion? I know the way, Bahz said. It’s safest if I’m up front as well.

 

“Of course,” Reikos allowed. “Well, then. Let’s go exploring.”

 

“We’re all going to die,” Jorget muttered to Kelwin as they found their place in the middle of the small group.

 

Kelwin tried to swallow down his laugh with only moderate success. “So optimistic,” he said. “We’ll get out of it alive. If we don’t, Tasis will resurrect me just to kill me himself.”

 

“Necromancy is forbidden,” Emlynn reminded him from the front of the group, Bahz still riding on her shoulder, quite at home there.

About Magic Wept


Jorget has no surname, no blood kin, and no hope of using his magical ability while he remains at Archai Castle, where the mad king reigns. With magic still outlawed, every experiment he performs could cost him his life. So when his mentor, the royal priest Denekk, is ordered to send Jorget on a journey to find a magical weapon, the young man jumps at the chance to prove himself. What he doesn’t realize is that things are never as simple as they seem.

Kelwin Tiovolk has settled into life in the Mages’ Guild of the Dragon’s Claw with his beloved, guild leader Tasis Kadara. But when word arrives that the king is searching for something to destroy the guild, he knows he has to leave behind the comfort of his new home to save what Tasis worked so hard to rebuild.

With enemies around every corner, Jorget and Kelwin need to pull off a miracle in order to save the guild. Luckily, they’re more than ready to stand strong together and keep what’s precious to them safe.

 

About the Author

 

Andi Van is a foul-mouthed troublemaker who lives near San Diego with a baseball bat that’s forever being used for things other than baseball, and a fondness for rum and caffeine (though not necessarily together).

Andi is fluent in three languages (English, sarcasm, and profanity), and takes pride in a highly developed—if somewhat bizarre—sense of humor.

Social media info:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DefiantAndi
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/defiantandi

Hurricanes, Flooding, and Donations! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Hurricanes, Flooding, and Donations!

So I was going to talk more about books, donations, and how literary September was but once again the news and nature turned my attention away from my planned topic.  That would be Hurricane Florence currently battering the eastern coast of the United States, causing flooding at heights never seen before, mass destruction and death.  And more scheduled to come.
For many, we feel closely connected to what’s happening in the Carolinas.  Whether it’s through families, friends, even through favorite authors like Megan Derr, Shira Anthony, Sasha Derr (Less Than Three Press), and more who have been marking themselves safe if not waterlogged and stressed out at home or just through all the pictures that are grabbing at our hearts on the media casts, this storm once again brings home how quickly things can change for people.  From safe and secure to homeless and suffering in a night or a matter of days.  Because of wind and rain, or the power of water flooding into a neighborhood and your home.
Then the calls go out.  What can we do?
So once again, I’m pulling out the Charity Navigator, which help weeds out the scams and scammers to give you the best places to donate should you wish to help where help is so clearly needed:

Relief for Hurricane Florence

Highly-rated charities providing aid and support in the Carolinas

Relief for Hurricane Florence : Charity Navigator

Relief for Hurricane Florence Header Image
Hurricane Florence made landfall as a strong Category 1 storm in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Ahead of the storm, the North and South Carolina coasts were issued mandatory evacuation orders. And, meteorologists continue to warn of the potential for “life-threatening storm surge and rainfall” in the hours and days following the hurricane’s landfall.
The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia made state of emergency declarations for their states earlier this week. More than 1,000 National Guard troops have been deployed ahead of the storm to help with preparations and recovery after the storm hits. Residents that are not being evacuated are being told to prepare for record rainfall, dangerous flooding, and prolonged power outages.
Charity Navigator has compiled a list of highly-rated organizations planning to respond in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. These organizations will provide assistance to the communities affected by the storm. Donors can designate their donations to the cause on the organizations’ websites respectively, or use Charity Navigator’s Giving Basket to complete their donations. Please note, at this time it is not certain that all of these organizations will spend 100% of donations received on Hurricane Florence relief.*
You can find more information about inclusion on this list by visiting our ‘How Can My Charity Be Added To This List?‘ page.
We will return to our literary programming next week hopefully so don’t forget about our giveaway.  In the meantime Happy Reading and stay safe.
Literary  Event Title Giveaway
If you all were to suggest a Literary Event for the calendar, what would it be?  An International LGBT Romance Story Day?  Triad in Lust Day?    Quiltbag Aliens HEA Day?  Give me some titles for our own special September literary events.  Let’s call it our LGBTQIA Literary  Event Title Giveaway!  Have your title chosen and we will have Stella set you up with a $10 gift card from Dreamspinners.  Giveaway runs through September 22.
  Meanwhile, we have a great week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.
A new reviewer, Chaos Moondrawn starts in with her first review this week, I’m reviewing the 11th book in the Boystown series from Marshall Thornton,  Lila is reviewing the new C.S. Poe, Barb has the new Cordelia Knightsbridge, and so much more.  It’s going to be quite the week.  So don’t miss out on a day of it.

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, September 16:

  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Hurricanes, Flooding, and Donations!

Monday, September 16:

  • Harmony Promo Andi Van
  • Review Tour – His Heart Or Mine (The Individualists Series #1) by C S Joyce
  • BLITZ Hurri Cosmo – To Save His Prince
  • An Alisa Review: Homeless in Heaven by Deirdre O’Dare
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur
  • A MelanieM Review: His Heart Or Mine (The Individualists Series #1) by C S Joyce
  • A Stella Review:  Love at First Hate (A Porthkennack Novel ) by JL Merrow

Tuesday, September 17:

  • Release Blitz – Butterfly Hunter by Julie Bozza
  • Release Blitz – C.J. Baty – Starting Over
  • BLITZ Professor Adorkable by Edie Danford
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Savior (415 Ink #2) by Rhys Ford
  • A Lucy Review: The Academy by Quinn Anderson
  • A Stella Review: Butterfly Hunter by Julie Bozza
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Hiding in Plain Sight (Camp H.O.W.L. #3) by Bru Baker

Wednesday, September 18:

  • Book Blast – Unwrapping His Heart by Karrie George
  • Book Blitz – Sugar Fighter – Charity Parkerson
  • Release Blitz Garrett Leigh – Lucky
  • Release Blitz The Heights by Amy Aislin
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: The Nerd and the Prince (Small-Town Dreams #1) by B.G. Thomas
  • An Ashez Review: Unwrapping His Heart (Hearts on the Line #1) by Karrie George
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Set Ablaze by K.C. Burn and Darcy Stark (narrator)

Thursday, September 20:

  • Blog Tour for Infinite Blue by Natalina Resia
  • DSP Promo Crystel Greene
  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway for The Academy by Quinn Anderson
  • An Alisa Review: Professor Adorkable (Domesticated Inc #1) by Edie Danford
  • A MelanieM Review: Infinite Blue by Natalina Resia
  • A Lila Review  The Heights (Lakeshore #1) by Amy Aislin
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Shipped (Until You #1) by Karrie Roman

Friday, September 21:

  • Flash Me by KM Neuhold Blitz Blog Tour
  • Release Blitz – The Heart Dealer (The Individualists Series #2) by C S Joyce
  • Tour – Clancy Nacht – For Immediate Release
  • A Caryn Review : Diego (Endangered Fae #2) by Angel Martinez
  • An Alisa Review: Sugar Fighter (Sugar Daddies #1) by Charity Parkerson
  • A MelanieM Review: Flash Me (Heathens Ink #7) by K.M. Neuhold
  • A MelanieM Review: Drifting Sands (The Warfield Mysteries #1) by CJ Baty

Saturday, September 22:

  • TOUR Risking It All by Morningstar Ashley
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Italian Weddings and Funerals (Italian Stallions, #1) by A.J. Llewellyn

 

Books, Donations, and Little Libraries. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Books, Donations, and Little Libraries

I was walking by a bench last week and saw a paperback laying on it with no one around.  That’s a sight I can never resist so I walked over and picked it up.  Jane Austen’s Emma looked up at me all worn and obviously well read.  I opened the cover and there was a bookplate that read “Read me and Leave me for someone else to Enjoy.”  As tempted as I was to take it home, I left it where it was because I had read it , taking a leap of faith just much as the reader who left it there that someone who would need it would pick it up, read it, and then pass it on in another spot.  A book chain of love and letters hooking people together.

It did get me thinking of course…

Where do old books go?  Those beloved paperbacks, those dogeared, slightly yellowed copies of stories that sit on shelves and then you wonder what to do with?  Maybe you have several copies of the same book, having bought it a couple of times over, not remembering it was already in your collection (aye, the number of times that happened to me).  Maybe you were somewhere and just had to read it again…spur of the moment binge reading! Yep! That happens too.t didn’t stop there.

My neighborhood is sort of quirky. We have all sorts of people living here, ages, races, families, always have, its sort neat and packed away in a hollow where the houses don’t really turnover, Bernie Sanders signs never age, and everyone seems to know one another and argue over turtles in emails online.   So I wasn’t surprised to see a neighbor with a car whose cars are always sagging under the weight of books go slowly down our road, loaded to the roof once again.

Turns out she collects them for Free Libraries. Everywhere.  Should have known someone who helps me liberate shrubs headed for the landfill would do that.

Not familiar with Free Libraries?  LIttle Free Libraries?  Be still my heart!  They are cropping up everywhere!  In parks, front lawns, neighborhood circles, anywhere you can think to put a small box…that’s a place for a free library.  Load it up with books.  Take one, replace it with one.  There’s a site online with instructions on how to make boxes like the one above?  Kim Fielding even   wrote a wonderful story called, of course, The LIttle LIbrary!.

It’s a wonderful way to share those books that overpopulate your shelves and attic while sharing your enthusiasm.  And in a way you are becoming another link in the chain of people connected by  their love of books, worlds outside their own, and a need for something more.

Want to know more?  Check out

Little Free Library | Take a Book • Share a Book

We are going to talk more about donations, bookplates, next week.  Let me know your thoughts as well.
Also running….
If you all were to suggest a Literary Event for the calendar, what would it be?  An International LGBT Romance Story Day?  Triad in Lust Day?    Quiltbag Aliens HEA Day?  Give me some titles for our own special September literary events.  Let’s call it our LGBTQIA Literary  Event Title Giveaway!  Have your title chosen and we will have Stella set you up with a $10 gift card from Dreamspinners.  Giveaway runs through September 22.
  Meanwhile, we have a great week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.
A new reviewer, Chaos Moondrawn starts in with her first review this week, I’m reviewing the 11th book in the Boystown series from Marshall Thornton,  Lila is reviewing the new C.S. Poe, Barb has the new Cordelia Knightsbridge, and so much more.  It’s going to be quite the week.  So don’t miss out on a day of it.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, September 9:

  • The Enchanter’s Flame by Michele Notaro Blog Tour
  • A Stella Review: Courted by Sarah Hadley Brook
  • A Stella Review:  Patchwork Paradise by Indra Vaughn
  • Books, Donations, and Little Libraries
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, September 10:

  • Review Tour – RJ Scott – Second Chance Ranch
  • Blog Tour Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington
  •  BLITZ High Time by Keelan Ellis
  • A Lucy Review: Falling into Love (Family Found #1) by Kris T. Bethke and Nell Iris
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Second Chance Ranch (Montana #5) by R.J. Scott
  • A MelanieM Review: Dawn and Dusk (Day and Knight #3) by Dirk Greyson
  • A Stella Review: Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington

Tuesday, September 11:

  • Blog Tour A Ferry of Bones and Gold by Hailey Turner
  • DSP Promo Leigh Dillon on Raising the Bar
  • BLITZ Sentinel by Karrie Roman
  • A Vivacious Review: Breaking the Bonds (Cascade City Pack #2) by Rebecca James
  • A Lila Release Day Review: The Mystery of the Moving Image (Snow & Winter #3) by C.S. Poe
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: The Second Time Around by Rowan McAllister
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:   New York Nightwings Collection by V.L. Locey

Wednesday, September 12:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: One-Eyed Royals (Seven of Spades #4) by Cordelia Kingsbridge
  • Review Tour – Marina Vivancus – In This Iron Ground
  • Cover Reveal – Love’s Trials by Janice Jarrell
  • A MelanieM Review:  In This Iron Ground by Marina Vivancus
  • A Lucy Review: Promises by Ruby Moone
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Sentinel (Until You #2) by Karrie Roman
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: One-Eyed Royals (Seven of Spades #4) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Thursday, September 13:

  • Blog Tour – That Feeling When by S. M. James
  • DSP Promo Andrew Grey on All For You
  • Release Blitz – His Heart Or Mine (The Individualists Series #1)by C S Joyce
  • A Vivacious Review: The Captain’s Ghostly Gamble by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead
  • A MelanieM Review: Heart’s Desire (Boystown #11) by Marshall Thornton
  • A Stella Review: That Feeling When (#lovehim #1) by S.M. James

Friday, September 14:

  • Book Blast for We Have a Decision by Steph Marie
  • Release Blitz – Darcy – RJ Scott & Meredith Russell
  • Review Tour for Safe Place by Jay Northcote
  • An Ali Review:Shaker of Earth (SPECTR Series 2, #5by Jordan L. Hawk 
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: To Love Again by Andria Large
  • A Barb the Zany Old  Lady Review:  Safe Place (Rainbow Place #2) by Jay Northcote
  • An Alisa Review: The Long Way Around by Quinn Anderson

Saturday, September 15:

  • New Release Blitz Tour – Leta Blake’s Any Given Lifetime
  • The Hunt by J.M. Dabney & Davidson King Release Blitz
  • An Ali Review:  On Andross Station by J.C. Long
  • A MelanieM Review: Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen

 

 

 

 

 

 

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Quarterback’s Crush by John R. Petrie

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Dylan Porter needs a Hail Mary….

Because it’ll take a miracle for him to pass English and trig so he can stay on the football team, get a scholarship, and go away to college—where the distance from his friends and family will give him the confidence to finally tell them he’s gay. But flunking his classes will put a stop to all of his dreams.

Luckily there’s Tommy Peterson to help him. In Dylan’s eyes, Tommy’s perfect. Short, smart, and sexy, he checks every one of Dylan’s boxes, so it’s no surprise when Dylan falls head over heels. Too bad Tommy doesn’t seem to feel the same, and a pining Dylan accidentally outs himself to the team. Now Dylan has to deal with the fallout of his coming out to the team, his dad, and his coach while trying to score the ultimate touchdown—the love of Tommy Peterson.

It took me almost no time to fall totally under the spell of this endearing story and its amazing characters.  And it’s all due to the unique voice and personality of the main character, Dylan Porter.  You see, it’s his perspective that we see the story from and he’s an astonishing person!

As crafted by John R. Petrie in The Quarterback’s Crush, Dylan Porter is that amazingly elusive animal….a layered human being with the ability to surprise you over and over, not just the length of the story, but even several pages.  He’s not “peggable”.  What comes out of his mouth frustrates him,  makes him angry, or cry, but for the reader?  It makes you want to hug him, cheer him on,  support him, and in every respect do what’s necessary, because, damnit, this author has made us quickly believe in him.

The Quarterback’s Crush is a coming out tale from Harmony Ink Press but  its also so much more.  It deals with the stresses of senior life in high school (oh the joy and horror), the college entrance tests, prom, bullying, cliques, and more.  Normally those are topics we expect to get from a “nerds” pov,  and we do here.  But it’s also from a popular high school football player’s and his team.  They will surprise and delight you as well.  They certainly did me.

Tommy Peterson is the other side of the romantic equation (a sentence I think he would respond to).  He is as well put together as Dylan and a great match.  Did I wish to know more about Tommy’s story?  Yes, but honestly, this isn’t his story, It’s Dylan’s, and while I loved Tommy and wished for more, I wouldn’t to the detriment of Dylan’s voice.  So maybe a prequel with Tommy?

In fact, all the other characters here, Riley, Dylan’s best friend and the other  football players, Coach, father, have a certain stability and strength to them which only made this story more real and the relationships better defined.

The only thing that keeps this from a 5 star rating is that epilogue.  It was cute but I would rather have had more stories than something so full of teasers and questions.  Sort of a let down for me.  It could have ended without it and been a 5 star story in my opinion.

The Quarterback’s Crush is John R. Petrie‘s first published romance which amazes me.  It’s heartwarmingly wonderful, it’s characters endearing, and it’s storyline captivating.  I recommend it highly to all.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  I like the cover, although all the models seem more like college age than high school but the composition and characters are spot on.

Sales Links

Amazon (Kindle/Paper format) |  Dreamspinner Press  |  Harmony Ink Press  |  Barnes & Noble: 

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 167 pages
Expected publication: September 4th 2018 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN139781640803909
Edition LanguageEnglish

John R. Petrie on Writing and his new release The Quarterback’s Crush (author interview)

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The Quarterback’s Crush by John R. Petrie

Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

The Quarterback’s Crush is now available at

Amazon (Kindle/Paper format) |  Dreamspinner Press  |  Harmony Ink Press  |  Barnes & Noble: 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host John R. Petrie on tour for his new release The Quarterback’s Crush.  Welcome, John, into our author’s interview chair!

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with John R. Petrie ~

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I tend to write characters who aren’t like me, so much as who I’d like to be.

What I love about the character of Dylan in The Quarterback’s Crush out from Harmony Ink on September 4th, 2018, is that he’s sweet and kind, but he lets his mind and mouth run away with what he knows he shouldn’t really say. He seems like he’s got a lot of fears, but he’s actually kind of fearless in many ways and I admire that.

  • 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?

I think there’s a line between writing characters who are wish fulfillment and writing characters who are perfect and accomplished. The line to me is more about writing a character as opposed to writing a plot device.

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

I love doing research and thank goodness for Google and podcasts where I can learn about things, listen to interviews (especially important to hear how people talk, their syntax, and their vocabulary), and find out much more about smaller things that the characters are interested in that I know nothing about. I really needed to hear jocks talk so I can understand their cadence.

That being said, what I write about tends to be in the ‘real world’ so I haven’t had much of a chance to build my own world the way that science fiction and fantasy writers do. I admire them so much for creating an entire world or worlds to enjoy.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

For me personally? I’m single, so I’d love a HEA, but I’ll settle for a HFN. Call me. I like tall guys, but I’m not fussy.

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

Some of my favorite prose authors are Jane Austen, Michael Cunningham, Andre Aciman, and TJ Klune. They’re all so amazing.

I’m also really, really influenced by plays and screenwriters and how the dialogue on screen and stage is so pithy and effective. From that angle, I’m hugely influenced by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) and Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars).

From my geek side some of my favorite comic book writers are Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Jen Van Meter, and Kurt Busiek.

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

I have to quantify this answer first. Almost every job I’ve ever had has been around books. Libraries, book stores, and a publisher. The last time I moved, I had two boxes of clothes and twenty-two boxes of books. I love books. Love them!

That being said, a well written sentence is a well written sentence, whether it’s something that’s read on a computer screen, tablet, e-reader, or page. E-readers are wonderful for people with bad eyesight, people who don’t want to, or can’t, carry around big hardcovers.

Books will never go away, and they shouldn’t. E-readers, however, do give a lot of eyes to first time and beginning writers, which is always a wonderful thing.

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

The wonderful people at Harmony Ink Press paired me with the wonderful Adrian Nicholas, who took my ramblings about cover design and turned it into the cover. We went back and forth on a few things and Adrian couldn’t have been kinder!

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m working on a series of LGBT YA mysteries taking place in the Southern U.S. as well as an adult Gay romance in the world of a professional sport. (I don’t want to spoil anything on that one yet.) Plus I have a couple of cork boards filled with other ideas and characters. Now if only I could take a few months off of work… 

  • What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I love characters who are unapologetically who they are. I love reading characters who aren’t passive in their journey. While there are characters who start their journeys because of external forces, I try really hard to write characters who are active in their own progression.

  •  What’s  the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

 Hmmm, I wrote a very adult story for an online website and it had some pretty wild sex scenes from my dirty imagination. For The Quarterback’s Crush, nothing too wild comes to mind. I really wanted the romance between Dylan and Timothy to lead up to the first kiss.

  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

 I think of it as the people in my head getting really tired of me being the only one who hears them. Seriously, though, I try to write so I can have a creative outlet that I don’t get in my every day life. For me, reading and writing are my attempts to find the universality of human experiences. If the book is horror or comedy or romance, the experiences we have about going through our lives will always ring through, no matter the genre.

THE QUARTERBACK’S CRUSH by John R. Petrie

Dylan Porter needs a Hail Mary….

Because it’ll take a miracle for him to pass English and trig so he can stay on the football team, get a scholarship, and go away to college—where the distance from his friends and family will give him the confidence to finally tell them he’s gay. But flunking his classes will put a stop to all of his dreams.

Luckily there’s Tommy Peterson to help him. In Dylan’s eyes, Tommy’s perfect. Short, smart, and sexy, he checks every one of Dylan’s boxes, so it’s no surprise when Dylan falls head over heels. Too bad Tommy doesn’t seem to feel the same, and a pining Dylan accidentally outs himself to the team. Now Dylan has to deal with the fallout of his coming out to the team, his dad, and his coach while trying to score the ultimate touchdown—the love of Tommy Peterson.

 

About the Author

John R. Petrie grew up in Boston and now lives in the Bronx, NY. Almost his entire working career has been spent around books, from his first job in the town library to more than twenty years bookselling in one of the biggest bookstores in the US. He’s also worked for the Housing Works thrift stores in NYC, which provides services for the homeless and HIV communities, as well as a comic book publisher.

He’s had stories published in True Romance magazine, had a play he wrote produced at his college, acted, danced, and was nominated for an acting award playing Belize in Angels in America.

He stays up too late, eats too much junk food, and has been reading Wonder Woman comics for over forty years.

He is very, very happy to have his debut novel published by Harmony Ink Press. He hopes to continue writing stories which make people smile.

 He can be reached at johnrpetriewrites@gmail.com and looks forward to hearing from readers and writers.

My email is johnrpetriewrites@gmail.com

My twitter handle is @johnpetriewrite

(I don’t do Facebook because I’m too afraid I’ll have to contact people from High School again.)