A MelanieM Release Day Review: Beneath These Fields ( World of Love) by Ward Maia

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Sometimes true worth is well hidden.

Ellis Campos is a successful divorce lawyer with little to no time for a personal life. His predictable routine is disrupted when he inherits a coffee farm from an estranged aunt. There’s no room in his life for all the complications that come with managing a farm in another state. But his plans to quickly sell it and go back to the big city fall apart when he’s manipulated into spending a week on the estate.

Adding to the unexpected surprises, he meets Rudá, a native Brazilian who works on the farm, and while teaching him about his aunt’s home and family, also tempts Ellis like no one ever has.

He doesn’t expect his life to change in such a short time, but as he finds value and comfort in the farm’s routine, Ellis quickly realizes that, like the land itself, Rudá has secrets that could send him running back to Rio.

Beneath These Fields by Ward Maia is another story from the World of Love line at Dreamspinner Press.   This time the location is Brazil , specifically a coffee farm far away from the comforts of Rio.  That the author himself is from Brazil and loves his country from the city to the rolling hills of farmland gives Beneath These Fields a warmth and depth lacking in other stories.  Familiarity will do that as will fondness when you write what you know.

When he writes of the heat, the character sweating so badly that the clothes are sticking to his back, or the little used air conditioning of an older truck spraying dust and insect wings over Ellis, it feels authentic …and funny.  Or of a man smelling like the very coffee he raises.  That too feels real, believable, and incredibly sexy.

For me there was so much I really connected with and enjoyed.  The coffee farm, its employees and inhabitants itself,right down to the dog Duke.  The  daily natural feel of the place, including the harvest of the beans and the way Ellis was learning to love the place his aunt built as he learned about her from her books and the people around her.  It was charming, fluid, and easy.  Maia made us see this place as though it was real, he gave it charm, a solidity, and heart.

Less satisfactory was some of the mystery surrounding his aunt, her lost connection to one side of the family which to my mind was never really explained.  It was made a big element and then sort of left there.  Also the ending felt rushed after all the marvelous story that came before.  It was nice. mind you, but, left you with too many questions.

Overall, I enjoyed this story.  It had a wonderful framework, some outstanding elements and characters, and I found myself many times wanting to know more about Ruda’ tribe or the region. I wanted to go exploring because this story pulled me there and made me love the people and place.  That includes the couple.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  Not my idea of Ellis in dress or age, or background.  Doesn’t really work for me.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Book Details:

ebook, 144 pages
Expected publication: January 25th 2019
Original Title Beneath These Fields
ISBN 139781640809758
Edition Language English

Ward Maia on Writing, Research, and his new release Beneath These Fields (author interview)

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Beneath These Fields ( World of Love) by Ward Maia
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Ward Maia here today on tour for his latest novel Beneath These Fields.  Welcome, Ward.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Ward Maia

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I try to pour as much of my experiences into my characters, but not a lot of myself.

  • 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 don’t understand the question, sorry.

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

Yes, I like to read a lot of History and Mythology books, so research definitely plays an important role. But I enjoy doing both. Research is always fun and finding out about different cultures is always interesting. But making up new worlds, creating different sets of rules and tossing your characters into that mix also makes for interesting stories.

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

Not really, I grew up reading the classics and science fiction, but I prefer to write contemporary and fantasy novels.

  • 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?

Yes, that has happened. Coming to terms with being transgender was very difficult for me, so some of the stories I was writing I didn’t really know how to process or how to properly finish because it was difficult to unpack all the emotions tied to the characters and the story I was trying to tell.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I think HFNs are valid, but I’d much rather read a book with a HEA. It might sound a little cliché, but I think real life is difficult enough, so I like my fiction to make me happy. Also, I’m a helpless romantic, so it’s HEA for me all the way.

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

I read a lot of classical books as a teenager and now, as an adult, I read a lot more romance, especially contemporary.

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

Growing up, Herman Melville. Moby Dick is hands down one of my favorite books of all time. Also The Lord of The Rings Trilogy; the first time I saw a map of Middle Earth, was the first time I realized creating an entire different world with an entirely different set of rules for your characters was possible.

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

At one point in my life, I was the proud owner of over three hundred books, so printed books will always have a special place in my heart. Having said that, I love ebooks because they completely changed how I accessed books and even the books I had access to. There’s not a lot of printed transgender representation where I’m from and ebooks are easier to access than physical ones.

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

I like covers to reflect some essential aspect of the story, whether it’s explicit or not. In my case, the farm played a very important part in Ellis’s journey so I chose a cover I felt reflected the dichotomy between Ellis-the-city-boy and Ellis-who-inherited-a-coffee-farm.

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

I don’t like to play favorites, but there are always characters that stay with me for longer than others. Ellis was one of those characters. I thoroughly enjoyed writing about him and his journey of self-discovery.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I want to write epic stories with unapologetically-queer trans masc main characters because I feel it’s an important representation that’s lacking in fiction. Especially in Brazil.

  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

I think the concept of flaw varies greatly depending on which character you ask. What one might perceive as a flaw, another sees only as a personality trait. Having said that, I don’t think there’s such a thing as making a character too “real”. I enjoy reading about all-powerful characters with world-changing destinies just as much as the next person, but I also enjoy seeing just your average trans guy, doing average things and navigating the ins and outs of a romantic relationship like everyone else.

 

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

The traits I find most interesting in people are the ones they sometimes don’t even realize they have. For instance, how someone reacts to shocking news, if their eyes go wide, or they bite their nails, bounce their knees or even laugh. I do actually write them into my characters, because I feel it makes them more “believable’, so to speak, seeing as they can be traced to a real trait of a real person.

 

  • Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

Yes! The first serious story I sat down to write was a contemporary romance with a best friends-to-lovers trope I started writing when I was seventeen. Recently, almost a decade later, I’ve picked the story back up and decided to develop it. It ended up turning into a duology and I have just finished writing the first Book. But who knows if it will ever see the light of day?

 

  • Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

Yes, I have. Writing helps me deal with my anxiety – it’s kind of like therapy. So whenever I have a serious issue to work through, I usually try to write it out. Maybe I’ll write a scene similar to what I’m going thorough, to try and see how I’d feel or react in a given situation.

 

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

I once imagined a scene where the main characters are breaking up and one of them is sneaking out of the house when his partner wakes up and ends up running behind his car, shouting for him to come back and not leave. It hasn’t made it into any of my stories yet, but who knows? Maybe I’ll write a second chance romance and include that scene.

 

  • Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I’m a very boring guy, meaning I don’t drink anything remotely alcoholic. So no, I’ve never written a drunk chapter, but anything is possible. I tend not to pull back my punches when it comes to my characters, so writing drunk could end up being an interesting experience.

 

  • If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

I love writing in my back yard, or just by the seaside. But maybe one day I’ll have a private writing room, overlooking snowy mountains and quite possibly the sea or a lake.

 

  • 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 write because my words demand to be given life and space to breathe. But also, because most people have severe misconceptions about transgender folks and how being transgender varies from person to person. And if I can clarify some of that while maybe entertaining a couple of people, why not?

And of course, I write because it’s something I love doing.

 

  • What’s next for you as a writer?

Like I said, I want to write about everyday trans masc individuals accomplishing both extraordinary and everyday feats. I don’t want to change the world, I just want to share my words with it.

Blurb:

Sometimes true worth is well hidden.

Ellis Campos is a successful divorce lawyer with little to no time for a personal life. His predictable routine is disrupted when he inherits a coffee farm from an estranged aunt. There’s no room in his life for all the complications that come with managing a farm in another state. But his plans to quickly sell it and go back to the big city fall apart when he’s manipulated into spending a week on the estate.

Adding to the unexpected surprises, he meets Rudá, a native Brazilian who works on the farm, and while teaching him about his aunt’s home and family, also tempts Ellis like no one ever has.

He doesn’t expect his life to change in such a short time, but as he finds value and comfort in the farm’s routine, Ellis quickly realizes that, like the land itself, Rudá has secrets that could send him running back to Rio.

About the Author :

Ward Maia was born and raised in Brazil and has seen almost every corner of that great and beautiful country. With a M. in Geology and Metamorphic Petrology, spending time in underground labs was more commonplace than interacting with real humans, which lead to the creation of entire fictional universes. The heroes that populate those universes are usually flawed and find love in unexpected places.

Having travelled throughout the country, from North to South, Ward now calls the Northwest of Brazil home. Alongside a grumpy sixteen-year old poodle (that insists on always having the last word) and hundreds of paperback novels, Ward lives five minutes from the beach and enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee and feeling the ocean breeze while writing about unexpected places and people.

Social media links

Twitter: @_WardMaia

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ward.maia.583

Buy links

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Advent Calendar Review: Summer Santa by Ward Maia

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Sam struggles with the climate, the job, and the language when he arrives in Brazil after accepting a job transfer.  With the Christmas holidays coming, Sam is looking forward to being alone in his small, boring apartment and that’s about it.  He wishes for more when his sexy coworker James helps him with a computer problem, but Sam’s too backward to ask him out.

A key phrase in the blurb is “significant low self-esteem” as that is the driving force of this story.  His family surprises him with a holiday he won’t soon forget and he bumps into James on the beach and that leads to a night before Christmas Eve that fulfills his dreams.  But Sam is not the driving force behind any of these good things, and his insecurity and inability to articulate what he wants form the crux of the story. 

It’s evident the author is new as the writing style and repetitive words and phrases are quite elementary—he “found himself” once too often for me.  The trope of the cute guy who’s insecure about his looks, his ability to find someone to love him, etc. is overdone and, unfortunately, not one I like at all. 

A key element in the blurb is that Sam is a magazine journalist, and yet that’s not mentioned in the beginning pages of the story and when it finally is stated, it’s only in passing.  Another issue is the language barrier he apparently can’t get past, and yet that, too, is only mentioned in the beginning and seems to disappear. We never learn whether James is also an American or if he’s Brazilian, and if a native, does he speak English fluently? Because Sam sure doesn’t speak anything other than English.  Sam’s family members were a bit OTT as well, especially his aunt and his sister.

Though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped, others may not be as bothered by the insecure and lonely MC theme as I am and so may enjoy the story.

The cover by Adrian Nicholas is one of this year’s holiday designs featuring two characters in a portal with the lower edges a standard red with large white snowflakes. The characters represent the two MCs, though Sam is much better-looking than one would think from reading the story, and James looks much more like a player than a nice-guy coworker. 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Book Details:

ebook, 46 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644050576
Edition Language  English