In Our Contemporary Spotlight: Don Travis on The Bisti Business (guest excerpt)

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The Bisti Business (A BJ Vinson Mystery #2) by Don Travis
D
SP Publications
Release Date: March 21, 2017

Available for Purchase at

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Also available for purchase in paperback at DSP Publications

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Don Travis today.  He’s brought an excerpt from his latest BJ Vinson mystery, The Bisti Business. Welcome, Don.

Excerpt from The Bisti Business

BJ Vinson Hosts Lt. Eugene Enriquez for Brunch at Eulelia’s in Historic La Posada Hotel

BJ’s not above asking his old partner at the Albuquerque Police Department for help when he needs it.

BJ knows his new client is trouble right off the bat. In Don Travis’s The Bisti Business, the confidential investigator accepts the assignment to locate the missing gay son of a homophobic multi-millionaire Napa Valley Wine mogul because as a gay detective, he has sympathy for the college kid and his traveling companion. So he sets off to find two young men traveling New Mexico in a bright orange Porsche Boxter. The first thing he does is turn to his old partner at APD for some help. How? By feeding him brunch, that’s how. The following scene comes toward the end of Chapter 2 of the book:

Gene Enriquez, my old partner at APD, had recently made lieutenant, and he sometimes chaffed at the rein the promotion put on his fieldwork. When I called he indulged in some bellyaching about being swamped but agreed to meet for a cup of coffee at Eulalia’s in the La Posada on Second and Copper, a short walk for each of us.

The central core of my building opened onto an atrium soaring through all five levels. As the elevator doors parted on the ground floor, my eyes automatically swept the waxed tiles. A year ago, a man had died on those hard clay squares when he went over the railing after attacking me on the landing outside of my office on the third floor. Sometimes I still saw smears of blood on the floor, but it was an illusion. The blue-black terra-cotta was scrubbed spotless and polished to a high shine.

I exited the building and headed east on Copper, pausing to say hello to the Sidewalk Society, nine life-sized bronzes by the Santa Fe based sculptor, Glenna Goodacre, that were grouped on the corner sidewalk outside the Hyatt Regency. After greeting the cast figures almost daily for the past few years, I had reached a few conclusions about them. The young woman with a briefcase was said to be an up-and-coming CEO, but I’m convinced she was a 1950s lawyer. The construction worker and his foreman, who sported a battered, old-style broad-brimmed hat, represented the thirties or forties. It had taken me some time to tumble to the fact the statues reflected different time periods in Albuquerque’s more recent history.

Gene yelled for me to wait for him as he strode briskly across Civic Plaza. “You always talk to statues?” He was a little breathless after running to beat the light change at the intersection. A stocky Hispanic with regular, pleasant features that seem vaguely Polynesian, Gene always appeared slightly frazzled; a consequence of dealing with the Albuquerque Police Department, a wife, and five kids on a daily basis.

I accepted both his hand and his ribbing. “Every time. Get some of my best answers from them.”

“I keep expecting one of the rookies to arrest the kid.” He motioned to the bronze of a teenager with a skateboard.

We entered the La Posada by the north entrance and stepped into another world. The interior was done in Spanish Territorial with aged wood copings, corbels highlighted in scarlet and turquoise, and heavily carved lintels. Nichos, small shelves in the white plastered walls, held carved wooden santos and ornate Mexican tinwork. This hotel had once been part of the Hilton chain—Conrad’s first in New Mexico, as a matter of fact—but had been recently sold, yet again, and was scheduled for a makeover in the near future.

Gene and I selected a heavy oak table stained ebony by the passage of time, and claimed a pair of sturdy straight-backed chairs padded in green and gold. We spent a few minutes bringing one another up to date on our lives.

After making a brunch of the restaurant’s éclairs and a wedge of superb lemon meringue pie dribbled with chocolate, Gene was through chitchatting. “Okay, so what do you want?”

“What makes you think I want something? Can’t I call a pal without having an ulterior motive?”

“No.”

I pretended to think for a moment. “Okay then, I’ve got a client looking for his missing son and the kid’s traveling companion.” In less than two minutes, I’d briefed him on the situation.

“So they’re like that, huh?” He wiggled his hand back and forth, a gesture that was supposed to convey something. Gene knew me too well to be sensitive about my sexual orientation.

“You mean are they gay? Yeah, I’d say so.”

“And you want to get in their hotel room.”

“Seems a logical place to start since one of their fathers hired me to represent the family.”

“These two, they’re emancipated, right? Adults.”

“Both are twenty-one, according to Alfano.”

“Hmm. Alfano gonna file a missing person’s report?”

“He will if you think it’ll help.”

“Naw. We’ve got enough to do without looking for a couple of kids who’ve run off to play hanky-panky. But if they strayed across the border into Arizona, they might be cooling their heels in some county sheriff’s jail as we speak. They take that shit seriously over there.”

“Possible, but not likely. They could be in real trouble, Gene. Alfano keeps a tight rein on his boy, and the fact he’s looking for him is troubling.”

“Maybe the colt got out of the family pasture and is feeling his oats. But okay, have the old man file a report, and I’ll see if I can get us inside the hotel room. Unofficially.”

I picked up the tab to see what kind of damage Gene had done to my pocketbook. Anthony P. Alfano’s pocketbook, actually.

Gene caught me peeking at the check. “Come on, you can afford it.”

“Maybe so, but it’s not my expense, it’s my client’s, and I don’t know how picky he is.”

Gene Enriquez is a good detective and a smooth talker, at least smooth enough to get us access to the room occupied by—or held in the names of—Orlando Alfano and Dana Norville. There was little to see. The pair had taken their traveling bags with them, leaving behind nothing personal except for two bundles of clothing destined for the laundry, the only sign they intended to return. One set of duds was expensive Abercrombie & Fitch, the other bundle was GAP. It wasn’t hard to figure which clothes belonged to what dude.

The breast pocket of one shirt held a carefully folded Chamber of Commerce brochure extolling the virtues of El Moro’s Inscription Rock and the Ice Caves near Grants. A rumpled pair of trousers—the expensive ones—gave up a not-so-neatly folded tourist road map of the state.

The bell captain remembered the two men asking his advice about the Enchanted Circle in the Taos area. They had specifically asked about white water rafting along the Taos Box.

The clerk in the gift shop remembered the pair because, she blushingly admitted, they were both so handsome. Shortly after checking in, they had picked up several pamphlets from her, expressing interest in the Turquoise Trail, a fifty-mile National Scenic Byway up Route 14 to Santa Fe studded with quaint, historic villages. Orlando and Dana had been especially curious about Valles Caldera, the thirteen-mile wide crater of an extinct volcano south of Los Alamos, the Atomic City. Unfortunately, they also asked about Lincoln County and Carlsbad Caverns to the south and east, as well as Mesa Verde and the Bisti Badlands in the northwest corner of the state.

As we drove back downtown, Gene agreed to put out a bulletin on Orlando Alfano’s Porsche, an orange 2008 model Boxter S, California vanity plate LANDO 06. The kid probably got his undergraduate degree that year.

“A buggy like that’s bound to have a navigational system with a GPS satellite signal,” Gene said.

“A 750 Plus Magellan. The old man has his attorney contacting the company to get the present coordinates. They’re touchy about giving out such information, and Alfano is bound to have more clout than I do. The way I read this guy, he’ll have everyone from the governor on up calling the company if he can’t buy the data from them.”

“You do attract a certain type of client, don’t you?”

*****

About The Bisti Business

Although repulsed by his client, an overbearing, homophobic California wine mogul, confidential investigator B. J. Vinson agrees to search for Anthony Alfano’s missing son, Lando, and his traveling companion—strictly for the benefit of the young men. As BJ chases an orange Porsche Boxster all over New Mexico, he soon becomes aware he is not the only one looking for the distinctive car. Every time BJ finds a clue, someone has been there before him. He arrives in Taos just in time to see the car plunge into the 650-foot-deep Rio Grande Gorge. Has he failed in his mission?

Lando’s brother, Aggie, arrives to help with BJ’s investigation, but BJ isn’t sure he trusts Aggie’s motives. He seems to hold power in his father’s business and has a personal stake in his brother’s fate that goes beyond familial bonds. Together they follow the clues scattered across the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area and learn the bloodshed didn’t end with the car crash. As they get closer to solving the mystery, BJ must decide whether finding Lando will rescue the young man or place him directly in the path of those who want to harm him.

About the Author

According to custom, I’m supposed to tell you something about me. That won’t take long. Born an Okie, I took a roundabout journey to my adopted home in New Mexico… which shows up in all her glory in all my stories. Texas Christian University gave me my education, the US Army contributed foreign travel (Germany) to my experience, Colorado gave me my first permanent job before transferring me to Albuquerque. When earning a living monopolized my time, I turned to painting to satisfy a creative urge. Did okay at it, but that craft didn’t scratch the itch I was feeling. Penning short stories seemed to do that. After selling around sixty of them under a pseudonym, I turned to writing novels. Zozobra is the first to see the light of publication, and Bisti is the second. A third BJ Vinson novel, The City of Rocks, is scheduled for release on July 18, 2017. The first draft of a fourth in the series, The Lovely Pines, now rests on my OneDrive.

I do a weekly blog about my writing and recounting some of my personal peccadillos on dontravis.com. I am a member of SouthWest Writers and give back to the community by teaching a free writing class at Albuquerque’s North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center.

Here are some links to me and my writing:

Blog: dontravis.com

Email: dontravis21gmail.com

Facebook: dontravis

Twitter: @dontravis3

Many thanks to Stella and Melanie at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for permitting this guest post. And a tip of the hat to DSP Publications for bringing out the book.

Release Day Blitz She Belongs to Them Both by Sedonia Guillone (excerpt and giveaway)

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Synopsis – She Belongs to Them Both by Sedonia Guillone

Two werewolves are her chosen mates for life!

 

Since he was bitten three years ago on the plains of Tibet, Jie Sing has fought back the ravening beast inside him. His attempts are unsuccessful until the stars lead him to the woman destined to be his mate, half a world away in Boston’s Chinatown. Fighting a deadly rival to keep her, Jie finds that in Megan’s arms, their passion keeps the beast at bay. Then Jie receives an urgent call summoning him back to China. Jie’s ex-wife in Beijing has accused Jie of attacking her in the street and had him arrested. But that’s impossible, seeing as he’s in America with Meg! Who is this “twin”—and why does Meg need to make love to both of them?

 

Publisher’s note: This book was previously published at Ellora’s Cave Publishing under the title, Kiss of the Werewolves.

 

Buy Links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XJRDYYG

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XJRDYYG

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B06XJRDYYG

Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B06XJRDYYG

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sedonia_Guillone_She_Belongs_To_Them_Both?id=KzpqDgAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/she-belongs-to-them-both

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/she-belongs-to-them-both-sedonia-guillone/1126007901?ean=2940157564865

Excerpt

Only then did she become aware again of their surroundings. The motors hummed and vibrated through the small space, reminding her they were in the plane lavatory. She couldn’t help smiling to herself. Before Jie, something this wonderful, this erotic would never have happened to her.

 

Finally, when they were rested, they maneuvered in the tiny space, worked around each other to do up their clothing. Once dressed, Jie took her in his arms again and nuzzled her hair. “Now,” he said softly, “we should both try to get some sleep.” His hand slipped into her hair, cradling her head. “As soon as we get to the hotel and settle in, I have to contact Su Lin.”

 

Meg sighed. “I know.” She wished she could just enjoy the languorous aftermath of their lovemaking without the specter of meeting Jie’s ex-wife hovering. She was tempted to ask Jie to just let it go, not to bother defending himself. But she knew how guilty he felt and how important it was that he was cleared of Su Lin’s accusation.

 

She let her thoughts wander to the stranger whom Su Lin thought was Jie. A strange tingle shimmered down her spine. Who was this man who looked so much like Jie that Su Lin thought he was her ex-husband? As a woman, she felt she would know Jie anywhere, even if he’d changed physically and she hadn’t seen him in a long time. She had taken Jie into her body and heart. He was imprinted on her very soul, as no doubt, he was on Su Lin’s. That thought made jealousy simmer deep in her gut, relieved only by Jie’s tender adoration.

 

Jealousy aside, the truth remained. There was something strange going on—though it couldn’t possibly be more bizarre than the fact that the man she loved changed from a man into a wolf-like beast at every full moon. They would obviously have to see this mysterious stranger and Jie would need to identify him while they were in Beijing in order to prove to Su Lin and to the authorities that he had been in the United States at the time of the stranger’s arrest.

 

“What are you thinking, Meg?” Jie’s gentle tenor cut through her musings.

 

She looked at him. Guilt snaked through her for all her private thoughts. She searched her heart for the words she really wanted to say. Now was no time to express fear and jealousy. “I was thinking how much I want everything to work out.”

 

He rested his hands on her shoulders and nodded. “Me too,” he murmured.

 

Jie left the lavatory first and she followed him after washing her face and smoothing and repinning her mussed hair. Then she went out and took her seat next to Jie, trying to get some rest with her hand laced in his.

 

Giveaway

Prize: $10 Amazon Gift Card
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About the Author

Award-winning, multi-published author of erotic romance, SEDONIA GUILLONE spends her days writing deliciously naughty romances—when she’s not cuddling with the man she loves or watching kung fu and samurai films and eating chocolate.

 

Sedonia welcomes comments from readers.

 

Sedonia Guillone can be found at:

Website: www.sedoniaguillone.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sedonia.guillone

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SedoniaGuillone

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sedoniag

In the Contemporary Spotlight: Embrace the Fire (Through Hell & Back #3) by Felice Stevens

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Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2nJFEj1

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2ndvTba



Cover Design: Reece Dante 


Photography: Varion Krylov of Strangeland Photography


Length: 90,000 words


Through Hell & Back Series


A Walk Through Fire (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
After The Fire (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb

Brandon Gilbert has spent years in hiding, but he’s finally accomplished his dream of working as a public school teacher. When offered the chance to help bullied children, there was no way he could say no. Not to mention that meeting Dr. Tash Weber, the psychiatrist who helps them, a sad yet sexy older man, ignited a spark inside Brandon he’d never had before.

Though five years have passed since the death of his lover, Dr. Sebastian “Tash” Weber has no interest in relationships or love. But young, enigmatic Brandon awakens his heart and his desire. Despite Tash’s best efforts to push him away, Brandon unlocks the passion for life Tash thought he’d lost forever.

Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan for either Brandon or Tash, but neither family disapproval nor self-doubts can stop them from embracing the fire that burns between them. And when Brandon returns home to fight for a future he never imagined possible, he and Tash discover that the one thing worth fighting for has been with them all along.

NB This is a re-release and has been extensively re-edited and revised with almost 10k words of additional content added.

About Felice
 

I have always been a romantic at heart. I believe that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending around the corner, My characters have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love, but getting there is oh so fun and oh so sexy.


I live in New York City with my husband and two children. My day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass (or two of red wine). I practice law but daydream of a time when I can sit by a beach somewhere and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there are bound to be a few bumps along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.

 

Newsletter
Website
Facebook
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Pinterest

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A MelanieM Recent Release Review: The Case of the Guilty Ghost (End Street Detective Agency #6) by R.J. Scott and Amber Kell

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Bob is lost in grief, Sam is fighting for his life, and there is no middle ground. Can their love survive?

Bob is grieving over his brother’s sacrifice. Guilt-ridden and devastated, he buries himself in vampire mourning and pulls away from Sam.

Magic tears Sam from the vampire castle and he has to face new adversaries alone, when all he wants is Bob at his side.

Ettore is in the Aset Ka waiting room, next in line for the ceremony for his soul to be torn from his body. Aset Ka has other plans, and Ettore finds himself reunited with a lost love and fighting alongside his brother.

A forgotten past binds Theodore ‘Teddy’ McCurray Constantine III to Ettore, and with the curse tied to Ettore broken by his death, Teddy’s past returns to him with a vengeance.

A royal family in denial, a battle between gods, and long forgotten love leaves no time for Sam and Bob to take a breath. Is it too late to save the supernatural world?

The last book in a series always has an enormous job to do.  It can’t simply tell its story, no it has to wrap all up the loose ends and dangling plot threads from multiple couples and books that came before it.  How it does all that and tell its story will leave the reader either feeling really good about the series and couple/couples or feeling that they’ve missed something and that it all fell rather flat. Or even, quelle horror, a waste of their time! What a burden placed on that last novel!

I’m so happy to report that The Case of the Guilty Ghost wraps things up quite nicely for everyone at the  End Street Detective Agency and even gave us a look at the future that left me all aglow as they say.  Nothing so wonderful as bringing a series full circle as the authors did here.  I’ll say right at the beginning that it doesn’t get the full 5 stars because someone coming into the story without reading all the previous books would be quite lost.  You need to have read all the others to have a firm foundation and fix on the characters and situations already established at page 1, starting with the  grieving Bob.  Yes, I still love a vampire called Bob.

I also thought this was the weakest link here.  There’s no real reason for Bob to separate himself from his family during this time of mourning.  Everyone seems to be telling Bob to buckup and bring at least Sam there to help him through this.  But of course, Sam’s presence is needed elsewhere and Bob won’t soon be mourning.  So begins an action packed supernatural adventure that brings so many characters together one last time.  We learn who and what Sam truly is, a mystery that ran throughout the series.  How that bracelet Sam wears comes into play and a outstanding fight to end all fights at the end.   And our Terry, the resident ghost of End Street Detective Agency? Well, he figures into this in a huge way as well. Oh and did I mention there’s sex too? That too, lots of that.

If a plot is tied up too neatly, well, ok.  I thought that banishment was quick and pretty handy.  But the rest of the story was so good and answered so many of my questions, that I’m willing to overlook something so expedient as that.  Plus it worked within the narrative, so I’m happy even if I wanted something a little more complicated.  Sam, Bob and daughter Mal have their HEA as do our other favorite characters.  That’s what I wanted here and what I got with a lot of suspense and acton along the way.

Then Amber Kell and RJ Scott threw in the marvelous Epilogue and brought things full circle.  That was just delightful and left me smiling even more.  I could walk away from the End Street Detective Agency happy and content.

Cover design by Meredith Russell is perfect for the characters and storyline.

Sales Links

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2mYNrYY

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2nDMEK6

Book Details:

ebook, 164 pages
Published March 15th 2017 by Love Lane Books Limited
ISBN139781785640759
SeriesEnd Street Detective Agency #6

Review Tour & Giveaway – The Case Of The Guilty Ghost (End Street Book #6) by Amber Kell by RJ Scott

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Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2mYNrYY

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2nDMEK6



Length: 111 pages


Cover: Meredith Russell

Series


End Street Vol 1 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
End Street Vol 2 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Case of the Purple Pearl – Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


Bob is lost in grief, Sam is fighting for his life, and there is no middle ground. Can their love survive?

Bob is grieving over his brother’s sacrifice. Guilt-ridden and devastated, he buries himself in vampire mourning and pulls away from Sam.

Magic tears Sam from the vampire castle and he has to face new adversaries alone, when all he wants is Bob at his side.

Ettore is in the Aset Ka waiting room, next in line for the ceremony for his soul to be torn from his body. Aset Ka has other plans, and Ettore finds himself reunited with a lost love and fighting alongside his brother.

A forgotten past binds Theodore ‘Teddy’ McCurray Constantine III to Ettore, and with the curse tied to Ettore broken by his death, Teddy’s past returns to him with a vengeance.

A royal family in denial, a battle between gods, and long forgotten love leaves no time for Sam and Bob to take a breath. Is it too late to save the supernatural world?

Author Bios
 

Amber Kell has made a career out of daydreaming. It has been a lifelong habit she practices diligently as shown by her complete lack of focus on anything not related to her fantasy world building.

When she told her husband what she wanted to do with her life, he told her to go have fun.
During those seconds she isn’t writing, she remembers she has children who humor her with games of ‘what if’ and let her drag them to foreign lands to gather inspiration. Her youngest confided in her that he wants to write because he longs for a website and an author name—two things apparently necessary to be a proper writer.

Despite her husband’s insistence she doesn’t drink enough to be a true literary genius, she continues to spin stories of people falling happily in love and staying that way.

She is thwarted during the day by a traffic jam of cats on the stairway and a puppy who insists on walks, but she bravely perseveres.

Website: http://www.amberkell.com
E-mail: amberkellwrites@gmail.com

 

 

Author Bio

 

RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

 

mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk
www.rjscott.co.uk/
www.facebook.com/author.rjscott?ref=ts&fref=ts
www.goodreads.com/author/show/3432558.R_J_Scott
twitter.com/Rjscott_author
www.librarything.com/author/scottrj

 

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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

📚

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.

📚

✒︎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)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: An Invitation by Jay Northcote

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Rating- 3.25 stars out of 5

Originally part of an anthology, this little story is packed with sexual tension that finally gets a bit of a release at the end. Unfortunately, it’s so short that it’s difficult to rate it much higher than enjoyable.

Jake is a two-week temp employee at a firm owned by a Scot named Cal Mackenzie. Cal is hot, but his brogue is hotter, and Jake can’t wait to get in his pants—or vice versa.

Cal refuses to be tempted however—no matter how much Jake makes his desires and availability known. Cal draws the line—no sex with employees. Good thing Jake is only going to be there two weeks. On the last night, disappointed that he’d never get a chance to be with Cal, Jake is surprised when Cal gives his employees the funds to go enjoy themselves, and Cal finally taps in to all Jake has to offer.

As I said, the story was too short to go too far, but given the number of words, Jay Northcote did a great job with character descriptions and with building sexual tension. I wouldn’t mind seeing these guys in the future, especially if the little spanking Cal administers in this story is developed into so much more. And maybe a kilt? A man in a kilt with a Scottish accent? Who could want more?

If you’re looking for a tidbit that will whet your whistle for more, this little appetizer should do the job.

Cover by Jay Northcote is a simple partial torso shot of a man in a suit, quite appropriate to the story.

Sales Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK| myBook | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 35 pages
Published March 6th 2017 by Jaybird Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersJake Wilson, Callum Mackenzie settingLondon, England (United Kingdom)

An Alisa Review: The Cookie Said Red by J.D. Walker

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Cisco Boyd believes in fortune cookies and horoscopes. Despite his lack of success in finding a steady boyfriend — or at least, a date who doesn’t think Denny’s is the epitome of haute cuisine — Cisco never doubts that eventually, the stars will lead him to the man of his dreams.

 

One day after a meal, Cisco reads the little piece of paper inside his cookie which says “red is the color of your heart’s desire.” So, when Cisco’s date turns up wearing a red shirt, he’s ecstatic. But then, things turn ugly in his apartment, and Cisco has to call the front desk for assistance from his bathroom, where he’s locked himself in.

 

Benjy McCrae, head of security, comes to his rescue and Cisco is very grateful. And then he notices Benjy’s red tie. Cisco’s “heart’s desire” has been under his nose all along. The stars are finally in his favor.

 

This was a cute story, but not much to it.  Cisco thinks he should always give love a chance, but doesn’t seem to end up with the right guys.  He continues to trust in his horoscopes and such that he will find the right man.

 

In this story we see Cisco’s glass half full view point of the world.  I love that he is always so positive, but he never seems to notice the bad until it’s too late. Benjy and Cisco bond over their shared love of horoscopes and destinies when Benjy rescues Cisco.  I liked this story, but the characters seemed kind of flat to me and I had trouble connecting with them.

 

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is great and catches your eye.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 37 pages

Published: February 25, 2017 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634860871

Edition Language: English

A Story Full of the Rainbow of Emotions~No Regrets by Nicky James (blog tour, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: No Regrets
Author: Nicky James
Publisher: Encompass Ink
Word Length: 91k
Genre: Contemporary MM Romance 18+
Release: March 15, 2017




“This. Book. Broke my heart. Healed my soul. Made me cry. Laugh. Made me Hug my daughter and kiss my husband. No regrets.” – Alpha Book Club

“My heart hurts, my eyes are red and puffy and I am in the biggest slump I have been in for awhile. This book destroyed me, it’s a story that will forever have a place in my heart, I have No Regrets <3” – Saucy Reviews on Kinky Korner

“No Regrets is a heart wrenchingly, ugly cry worthy ( and oh boy I cried) wonderful love story.I loved the characters. I loved the words. I could feel the characters emotions in every single one.” – Goodreads Review

Life makes no promises, and sometimes, you draw the short straw.

Landon Johnston’s life came to a grinding halt seven months ago, when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

With the encouragement of his grandmother, Landon works his way out of his slump and tries to live life while he still can.

Deciding he doesn’t want to drag anyone else down his morbid path, Landon gives up all friendships and denies himself love. It’s better this way, because all he has to offer is eventual heartache and sadness.

While traveling the world, Landon meets Abel Matheson, a free-spirited, unedited, and nerve-grating man who was supposed to only be a one-night-stand.

Despite Landon’s insistence that he can’t form a relationship with his current diagnoses, Abel is persistent and will not be ignored.

Fighting against all his ingrained urges to run, Landon finds himself drawn down the road he swore he’d never take.

Intimacy grows and bonds form…

Only… Abel doesn’t know Landon is sick.

How can anyone love a man with no future?

Telling him might cause him to run, but staying silent means living a lie. A lie which will only reveal itself in time.

The silence returned as we continued with our drinks. Abel was the one to break first when he slid his empty cup aside and leaned in, talking in a hushed voice. “So, Landon from Canada, computer nerd and Spiderman wannabe. I’m gonna cut the shit and be blunt.”

“You mean, more blunt?”

“Yeah, more blunt, so brace yourself. You’re incredibly hot and I wanna find a room somewhere and fuck you senseless.”

“Oh. Umm…”

Who the hell says shit like that?

“There is a pub a block down. Let me buy you a couple of drinks and help you relax, because you’re all stiff and uptight. Then, what do you say we find somewhere private after that?”

I had to search for my words because they’d fallen into a gaping chasm of disbelief. “You’re awfully presumptuous.”

“I can be. But, you haven’t told me to fuck off yet, so I’m guessing you’ve been considering it too.”

Yeah, I’d been considering it since he stood in line for drinks twenty minutes ago. Is that how these things worked? Hey, wanna fuck? Sure, let’s go.

Swallowing the dry lump from my throat, I pinned him with a glare, doing my best to show confidence even though I trembled on the inside. “Maybe I am. Only, I don’t drink.”

More like I couldn’t drink, at least not with the massive array of medications I took. It was something I had to give up long ago. What I wouldn’t have given for a beer to calm me down. He was right, I was wound tighter than a spring.

“A twenty-six-year-old, non-drinker. You just get more and more interesting. I’ll have to find other ways to get you to relax then. I can be creative. Are you here with anyone?”

“No. I umm… I came alone.”

“Do you have a room nearby?”

“What about your friends? Won’t they be looking for you?”

He chuckled. “Nah, they’ll be drinking themselves stupid half the night and won’t even know I’m not there.”

“Oh… umm…”

“A room?”

My gaze dropped to the table once again. My blood pressure rose with each slam of my heart against my ribcage. Why the hell was I so nervous? It wasn’t like I was some virgin or anything. I took a deep breath and tried to rein in the suffocating emotion before it got out of hand.

Shifting my gaze to my notebook, I saw my list in my head again and heard my grandmother’s words.

If I died tomorrow, I’d have no regrets. Can you say the same thing? 

I was sure this wasn’t what she meant. Sorry, grandma.

Time to tick off another one.

“Fuck it. Yes, I have a room a block down the road.” With another shaky breath, I pushed my half-empty mug aside and grabbed my notebook. “What happens in China stays in China, right?” Standing, I glanced back at him.

His grin was facetious as he sucked the corner of his bottom lip into his teeth. “It’s not Vegas, but I think it applies.”
Nicky James lives in the small town of Petrolia, Ontario, Canada. She is mother to a wonderful teenage boy and wife to a truly supportive and understanding husband who, thankfully, doesn’t think her crazy.
Nicky has always had two profound dreams in life; to fall back hundreds of years in time and live in a simpler world and to write novels. Since only one of those dreams was a possibility, she decided to make the other come alive on paper.
Nicky writes MM romance books in a variety of styles including contemporary, medieval, fantasy, and historical.

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An Ali Review: A Matter of Duty (Hong Kong Nights #1) by J.C. Long

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Noah Potter has come to Hong Kong to find his missing sister, Lianne, who disappeared after leaving him a voice mail pleading for his help. Unfortunately the Hong Kong police are unwilling to help him, so Noah has to find her himself.

Noah’s search for his sister brings him across Wei Tseng, leader of the Dragons, a group of dedicated men and women willing to do whatever it takes to keep their district safe from the violence and triads that plague the rest of the city’s underworld. Wei is a man of violence but also one of incredible compassion, and his history is one that resonates with Noah, igniting a passion neither man expects.

Together they search for Lianne, a search that will lead right into a conflict with the Dragons’ greatest rivals in the city.
I really enjoyed this fast paced and entertaining story.  I was hooked right from the prologue and the pace of the story didn’t slow down until the end.  I couldn’t read fast enough to see what was going to happen next.  I liked Noah right off the bat and I really felt for him as he struggles to find his sister in a country he’s never been too before.  And, Wei…..what a perfect anti-hero he was.
The mystery part of the story was really good but I especially loved the romance aspect of it.  The chemistry between the two men is immediate and it jumps off the pages at the reader.  I felt like the author did an excellent job of balancing the mystery and the action scenes with the romance and the relationship development. 
There are a host of side characters and they all added to the plot.  There is a subtle set up of the next book and the couple that will star in it.  The world building was also well done and it set the atmosphere of Hong Kong in a way that let me picture I was there.
This was a new author for me and I’m always really excited when I find a new author and/or a new series to read.  I’m going to have to go back and read his back catalogue.
I had no complaints about this book and really can’t fan girl it enough.  It was really well done and it is a definite recommend from me.
Cover:  I like the cover a lot.  It is eye catching and fits the plot perfectly.
Sales Links
 
Book Details:
ebook, 269 pages
Published March 6th 2017 by NineStar Press
Original Title A Matter of Duty
ISBN13 9781945952692
Edition Language English
URL Series Hong Kong Nights #1