Aidan Wayne on Writing, Research, and Rule of Thirds by Aidan Wayne (author interview)

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Rule of Thirds by Aidan Wayne
DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Jennifer Vance
Sales Links:

DSP PublicationsAmazon |  Barnes & Nobles | Kobo  | iBooks 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Aidan Wayne today on tour for their new release Rule of Thirds. Welcome, Aidan.

 ~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Aidan Wayne~

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

Research plays such a huge role, it’s ridiculous. I do enjoy it, but I tend to fall into what I call “the black hole of research.” And for something like Rule of Thirds, wherein my main character, Jason, has crippling PTSD that’s pretty important. But I also am in the middle of a story about a Broadway star. I figured I wouldn’t have to worry too much about research for that. Wrong! I ended up basically mapping out the entire theatre district of New York to make sure I knew where everything was (eateries, parks, urgent care) in reference to where my characters lived. Of course, I also had to find them apartments and make sure that the rents made sense to the location.

On that note though, I’ve had some really neat things come from my need to research topics. For a story where the main character owns an apple orchard, I called up orchards to ask questions about production, cost, etc. I ended up getting on the phone with a 95-year old apple farmer who had planted his trees with his father before WWII. One of the coolest experiences I’ve had as a writer.

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

That’s a tricky question. I was big into a lot of varied genres. I loved fantasy (Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierce), historical fiction (L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott), and nonfiction (basically every well-written thing I could get my hands on). But I think that a good link-up is that all of my very favorite books are character-driven. They have solid personalities and stand out as people. In his Discworld books, Terry Pratchett has a number of characters that re-appear as main characters or side characters as the book requires and they’re always interesting and thoroughly themselves. Even the nonfiction books had good narrators. I love that. And yes, I think the influence has carried over into how I write what I do. For me, characters come first. The plot? They might be saving the world but it’s just as likely that the entire story is simply one person teaching the other how to properly cultivate a tomato plant.

I like this tomato idea actually. Hm.

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’m not a fan of the term Mary Sue or Gary Stu. It first got started in fandom, where people (usually female writers) made self-inserts to interact with characters they like, often as love interests. It was a way for them to play and explore in a world that had already been created, but with a character they’d created themselves. Because so many writers made their characters “unique” (looks-wise, having special skills, etc), coupled with the fact that the character was a love interest, these characters (and thus, often, the authors themselves) ended up garnering a lot of ridicule.

But what’s wrong with writing wish-fulfillment? What’s wrong with creating a character based on your own experiences? Maybe with your own desires and fears? What’s wrong with putting those characters into whatever setting you choose and playing? Creating someone that will love them?

Nothing, in my opinion.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

YES. Yes, yes, so much yes. I’m one of those people that needs a happy or hopeful ending to be satisfied. If I’m going to read an entire story about these characters and watch them grow and change and learn and struggle–If I’ve dedicated my time to caring about them and rooting for them–The last thing I want is for the story to end with them miserable.

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

I’ve been very lucky in that every cover artist I’ve worked with has been willing to take my notes and suggestions. I start by answering some questions about what I want the cover to look like: colors, tone, possible scenery, etc. Then I get a mock-up or three and usually we go from there. Sometimes I’m really pleased with the first choice, or only have a slight adjustment I’d like made, such as changing a font. Sometimes it’s a little more difficult. For Rule of Thirds, I went to a stock photo site myself to find images I thought might work for what I wanted. My very patient cover artist, Jennifer Vance, put up with a lot from me.

 

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?

I started and stopped my novella Loud and Clear a bunch of times. It is literally a book about communication, and I kept getting stuck on what I wanted my characters to say, even if I knew how they’d say it. I’m glad I ended up with what I did, though. It was one of the first books I’ve ever had published so it’s definitely a little rough around the edges, but I think it really showcases what I believe in writing; communication, consent, and diversity.

 

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’ve never written while drunk, but I have written while Ridiculously Overtired. Those are usually times when I’ll come back to a story with sentences such as “the big was very large.” But once in a while I’ll come back to a scene and –wow, I’ll look at it a bit uncertain that it came from my own brain but very pleased that it did. You know, once I edit out all the typos.

 

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

I once wrote a story because, and I quote, “I am angry and upset.” It was about a trans man starting his own transition and learning more of himself, how he was able to interact with the world and other people, getting a found family, and, eventually, a boyfriend too.

 

I also once wrote a story because I thought of a title so good it needed a story to go with it. (A cupid and a succubus fall in love whoops. Making Love. I’m very proud of myself.)

 

Mostly I write because I like happiness, and figuring out the various ways I can get it to manifest. To make me, my readers, and my characters happy.

 

And shoving in as much wordplay into the titles as I can possibly get.

Blurb:

A traumatic past doesn’t have to mean not having a future.

When Jason Diovardi, military elite, is removed from active duty after failing too many psych evals, he has only one goal in mind: get back into the field. It’s all he knows and all he thinks he’s good for, which is why he grudgingly accepts two live-in AI Companions to help him begin to recover from his severe PTSD. Chase and Shade are a matched pair, and Jason hopes they’ll keep each other distracted enough to leave him alone so he can go through the motions and be cleared for fieldwork.

Jason doesn’t expect to actually get better, and the progress he makes with his patient and caring Companions sneaks up on him—and so do unexpected feelings between the three of them. Now Jason might even be able to admit to being happy. But has he healed enough to allow himself to accept what Chase and Shade are offering?

Hope. Love. A reason to live.

About the Author ~Aidan Wayne

Aidan Wayne has been a jeweler, paralegal, neurofeedback technician, and martial arts instructor; and that’s not even the whole list. They’ve been in constant motion since before they were born (pity Aidan’s mom)—and being born didn’t change anything. When not moving, Aidan is usually writing, so things tend to balance out. They primarily write character-driven stories with happy endings, because, dammit, queer people deserve happy endings too.

Aidan lives with altogether too many houseplants on the seventh floor of an apartment building. The building has an elevator, but Aidan refuses to acknowledge its existence.

Social media links:

Website: https://aidanwayne.com  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/justsayins

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aidanwaynewrites/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15164017.Aidan_Wayne

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100019083091269

S.A. Stovall on Writing,Influences, and her new release Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) (guest interview)

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Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) by S.A. Stovall
DSP Publication

Cover art: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:   DSP PublicationsAmazon  

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to  have S.A. Stovall here today answering questions about Vice Enforcer, the sequel to Vice City, both highly recommended novels here at our blog.  Welcome, S.A.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with  S.A. Stovall

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

Definitely. When I was younger, I read all sorts of sci-fi and fantasy. I couldn’t get enough of them. I love anti-hero characters (moral ambiguity fascinates me) and all of that has somehow filtered into my writing.

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

When I was younger, I loved Robert A. Heinlein. I hope I can write great works of science fiction like him one day. I loved his worlds, and his characters. Today I love Stephen King—not because I treasure all his books (I actually dislike quite a few) but because he has so many books that people typically like at least one. I want to be a writer who writers so prolifically that most people say, “Yeah, I’ve heard of her and like this one book…”

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

Well, VICE CITY was my first published novel, so it’ll always have a special place in my heart. However, I think my favorite stories are always my science fiction ones. I don’t know what it is, but I love futuristic space settings. They’re amazing.

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

 I find hard work, the desire for truth, and logic all interesting traits in an individual. Most of my characters have at least one of these (maybe all three). Typically side characters meant to cause the main character grief have none of them—those are the characters I love to hate.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?

 Oh, yes. I’m working on an epic fantasy novel right now. I love the book, but the middle got me stalled for a bit—sometimes with large casts of characters it’s hard to weave them all seamlessly together. I can’t wait to share it with the world now that I’ve crossed the hurdle, but it was in limbo for a long time.

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?

Yeah, I did use a book to help me with a break up. Basically, the entire story has hints and tidbits to all the best parts of the relationship. The novel was a romanticized version of what a perfect relationship could be if it all worked out. It really helped me understand what went wrong, and now I’ll always have this book to remind me.

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

  The wildest scene I’ve ever imaged was a girl cutting her own heart out to replace it with the still-beating heart of an ancient god.

And yes, it did make it into the story!

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 to tell good stories. I love to entertain. The second reason I write, is to highlight the awesomeness of humanity. I love heroes who overcome—or villains who realize life is so much better when celebrated. Sometimes, in science fiction, I write about interesting scientific concepts, but that comes after the good story and awesome heroes.

What’s next for you as a writer?

Tons. I have a WWI fantasy coming out, an MMA romance, and a science fiction story set on a corrupt space station. So many stories—I can’t wait until they’re all released! Trust me. I’ll have plenty for everyone in the future, and hopefully everyone enjoys!

Release of VICE ENFORCER (Vice City #2)

Blurb

Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.

Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.

Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.

The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.

But he’s not going down without a fight.

About the Author

S.A. Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family having a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate.

As a child, Stovall’s favorite novel was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was the moment Stovall realized that story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world, and she hopes you enjoy.

You can contact her at the following addresses.

Social Media

Twitter: @GameOverStation

Website: https://sastovallauthor.com/

Awards

Vice City Rainbow Award Winner

Reviews

“To say the characterization was good would be like saying I love reading. It’s a gross understatement… Overall, I loved every inch of it.”

– Divine Magazine

“The noir setting absolutely gripped me with stark details. As a lover of crime fiction, I highly recommend this book in what will hopefully be a very long and satisfying series.”

– The Novel Approach Reviews

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) by S.A. Stovall

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.
Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.But he’s not going down without a fight.If you love noir, if you’re in love with hard men with even harder outlooks with little hope for a future, let alone love.  You know the ones I mean,  they’ve survived somehow the worst that life has thrown out them, they expect to see more.  They’ve been made so incredibly tough by their pasts, that the walls they have erected, inside and out might as well be titanium.  Except for the cracks they allow for certain people and in certain circumstances.  Take that man, put him in stories that fit him beautifully because they are dark and gritty.  The criminals are rank,  the corruption is deep and often elusive .  But hope can come from the most surprising places.  So can love.

I fell in love with Pierce back in Vice City (Vice City, #1), a stunning introduction to the man and his lover,Miles Devonport.  Now in the equally intense, incredible sequel, Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) ,  S.A. Stovall picks up shortly after the first one leaves off.  Supposedly mob enforcer Nicholas Pierce has  “died” and PI in training Percy Adams (much to Pierce’s dismay at the name) is alive and well and living with Miles in a rundown house in suburbia, along with visits from Miles’  brother and sister.  And it’s going exactly as well as you might expect.

Especially Pierce’s attempts to garden and talk to seedlings while dealing with Mile’s sullen siblings who clearly think that “Percy” is pulling their brother under.

Then everything goes further to hell while on a dubious PI training run with the older investigator who is running the program.  Stovall thrusts the reader and her characters immediately into a powerful action packed, fast paced scene because Shelby, the lead PI hasn’t been exactly straight with his trainees. And because Pierce isn’t who he seems to be (a naive PI in training),  knows the setup for what it is and figures out what’s coming, well…Pierce is both ready to flee and shoot depending upon the situation.

By now the reader’s skin is tingling, the hair’s slightly raised because the writing is so damn good that our apprehension levels are off the charts along with Pierce’s.  It stays that way through revelations about human trafficking, the reemergence of the Vice family and the mob, the threats to the new identity Pierce and Miles have established for him as well as keeping him safely dead in the eyes of the Vice family.  This is an intense, gritty story.  If it has its humorous moments, and it does, they too, border on the dry, wry, and the dark.  Consider the perspective and it makes sense.

Even the romance falls under the same lines.  No hearts and flowers here.  No, its more like that radish that refuses to die in Pierce’s garden.  It lives no matter what.  They have each other’s back…no matter what.  The sex is rough, the need for each other is there although Pierce might not always acknowledge it.  And while Miles would like a change in the sexual dynamics, something that Pierce’s past won’t allow, its a topic that  comes up.

There is so much here.  Wyatt, Mile’s supervisor  who is definitely in the closet. Shelby, the PI with the past.  The Vice family. Mile’s and his family.  Oh, yes and the Timo family that lives next door.  Everything gets pulled together in one magnificent tapestry that twists and turns, stuns and pulls at your heart.  And when it ends, you want not only another story but to reread the books one and two all over again.

This is a wowzer of a series. Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) by S.A. Stovall is everything I could want in a sequel or even a standalone.  I highly recommend it and Vice City.  Both are must reads!

Cover art: Aaron Anderson.  What a great cover.  Perfect for this story and series.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 259 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by DSP Publications
Original TitleVice Enforcer
ASINB078JQJNF8
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesVice City #2

Chris E. Saros on Writing, Research, and her first novel Semblance by Chris E. Saros (excerpt and giveaway)

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Semblance by Chris E. Saros
DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Buy Links:

DSPPublications  |  Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Chris E. Saros here today on tour with her first novel Semblance. Welcome, Chris.

 

Hello! Chris E. here to say “hi!” and introduce myself. Semblance is my first published work and I am very proud of it, had a wonderful time writing it, and can’t wait to share it with all of you! Thank you to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for this wonderful opportunity.

How much of yourself goes into a character?
Basically, all of my characters are at least a little piece of me. How could they not be? They came from the
depths of my imagination. However, it is amazing how much a character can take on its own life. You can write a scene and the character will do something or say something that totally shocks you. That is the true test to prove the character has become their own person.

Character development is hard though, and maintaining individuality is a practiced art. I remember one of the first short stories I wrote, all the characters were just different versions of me. The main character was me but then the secondary character was the me that said all the things I wanted to say but the real me was too cautious or shy to say it. Then the supporting characters were all me in places I wanted to be. After I reread it, I decided there was not enough diversity to take the story further. Every character was essentially the same! It was a learning experience and one I needed to be able to grow into the author I am today.

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

Basically, I write what I want to read. I have a true love for men with guns (fictional guns – I’d probably faint in real life), a whole lot of confidence, derisive wit, and just a touch of vulnerability. I mean, doesn’t that just seem hot? However, I have zero knowledge about guns. They scare me in real life and I have never shot one. I did a bit of research into them and have a standing appointment with a friend to take me shooting so I can experience the kick and power first hand. I am pretty apprehensive about that research.

The problem with research, or I guess I should clarify, the problem with online research, is that it can, many times, take you down a rabbit hole. I will start researching what kind of drug they use to sedate a patient in a hospital, next thing you know I am signing up to become a wildlife rehabilitator and learning Hindi. Main thodi thodi Hindi samajti hoon. So, I can’t imagine what my writing schedule would be like if I had to rely on research to write, say a historical drama. I try to stick to what I know as much as possible and then research the small questions, this helps keep me on task.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I think everyone to an extent likes happy ever afters and happy for nows to a degree. We like to end with a positive feeling because so many of us read to escape because we don’t want to focus on the bad or end in the sad. However, one of the things I love about books that don’t have HFNs or HEAs is that it comes unexpectedly. We are so used to the happy ending, we go into the story and even though the possibility is there, we don’t expect the main character to die or the love to simply fall apart to some unfulfilling end. We expect the best to happen. Part of the anticipation is the speculation on how the story will work out in the end because there is no way you can see it having a happy ending the way it’s currently progressing. But, what a shockingly wonderful surprise when things end on a completely unexpected note.  And sometimes you need a good tragedy to help you truly appreciate the happy endings.

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

I have always been a fan of romance, only not usually for romance’s sake. I like romance, but I am much more interested in the surrounding story. I am more of an action girl myself but throw in a sweet love story to go with it and I am hooked.

As a teenager I was reading everything from RL Stein, Christopher Pike, Stephen King, VC Andrews, Norah Roberts, and David Morrell. It is quite the variety. As an adult I have very similar tastes maybe a little more expanded. As an adult I go through romance kicks more often than I used to. That goes for books and movies. Every once in a while, you just have to get a Nicholas-Sparks-style cry on (I can’t be the only one he reduces to blubbering tears…right?).

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

I was incredibly skeptical of the ebook format when it came out. My dad had bought me a Kindle for Christmas when it was the big new thing and I returned it. I couldn’t imagine reading something that didn’t smell like paper. I liked to touch the pages in my hands and hold the book, it just felt more personal. But then there were a couple of books that I wanted to read that were only in ebook format. I reluctantly downloaded the kindle and nook apps on my phone and started reading.

What a change. Suddenly paper books felt like 50-pound weights. They are clunky and awkward and don’t have the convenience of a library at my fingertips.

I still have a precious few books that I can’t imagine reading in ebook format because I have such fond memories of reading it for the first time. And, while I still have a large library of paper books but a lot of the time I opt for the easy route and do the ebook. I am also a big fan of the buy the paper book get the ebook free. I think that is a wonderful way to enjoy the reading experience in both formats. You can have the convenience if you want it, but you can also feel the book in your hands and enjoy the words on a complete organic level.

 

Blurb:

Drake isn’t looking for justice. He’s not interested in doing what’s right. He’s after one thing and one thing only: revenge. That means taking down the Boredega drug cartel—and the shadowy, seemingly invincible man who heads it—even if he goes down with them.

Drake plans to destroy the cartel from within, and he uses his nightclub, Semblance, as a front for money laundering and drug trafficking. He’s sacrificed almost everything to complete his mission, and just as he’s getting close, he’s derailed by flirtatious bartender Scotty, who offers Drake a glimpse of the happiness he’s missed by pursuing a personal vendetta. Scotty might be irresistible, but Drake has come too far to turn back now. He’ll have to find a way to keep Scotty safe, fend off persistent prostitute Natasha, feed tips to the authorities, and edge his way closer to the upper echelon of the cartel, where he can finally strike. He’ll need to do it all while keeping his intentions covert—and he’s not the only one at Semblance with secrets.

Excerpt:

He found him in the back room leaning over a shelf, reading the labels on a couple of bottles. Drake took a second to admire the scene, drinking in the long powerful legs and the nice tight ass showcased by the black pair of slacks that pulled snugly in all the right places. It took everything he had in him not to reach out and touch Scotty. The lure to do so was strong, but he squelched his temptation. There wasn’t time for such distractions.

Clearing his throat, he stepped into the room and leaned back against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest. Scotty quickly stood at the sound and picked one of the bottles he had been reading.

“Yes, my liege?” Drake asked. He couldn’t keep the amusement from his voice.

Scotty’s brow shot up into his hairline. “Are you really going to act like there isn’t a big problem hanging out behind the bar?”

“Big problem?” Drake said, playing dumb.

Scotty’s glum look didn’t lighten at all with Drake’s humor but instead darkened a degree. He took a step toward Drake and pointed the bottle at him like a large scolding finger. “That kid shouldn’t be behind the bar! He doesn’t have the first clue about what’s going on. He’s never mixed a drink before in his life, and he thinks he’s Jerry Thomas.”

“Who?”

“Jerry Thomas! Blue Blazer? He used to…. No, never mind. It doesn’t matter. The point is, the kid shouldn’t be behind the bar. He should be out waiting tables or something.”

“Aw, give the kid a shot. He’s only been at it a few days. I’m sure he’ll catch on. Besides, I don’t foresee him staying on the job for a long time.”

“Great! So he’s another one that I get the pleasure of training and as soon as they start to catch on, they up and leave? Really?”

Drake shrugged. They always did fine even with Tony’s boys cluttering up space. He made sure to schedule an extra hand while they were working to pick up any slack.

Scotty sighed at Drake’s shrug. “If you were just going to hire whatever crazy wackadoos that wanted a job, why did you take all the time and effort to interview me?”

“Wait,” Drake said, holding up a hand, “can we take a minute to appreciate the fact that you used the term ‘wackadoo’ in a sentence?”

“Drake!”

“Okay! I’m sorry. I am. But I told Frankie that I would give the kid a shot. Besides, he has been helpful on the busy nights at least busing. He’s only broken about six bottles and four glasses. And I took half his tips to pay for those. So, I’m sure he will start to get the picture.”

Scotty let out another drawn-out sigh and grabbed another bottle to go with the first.

“I took so long interviewing you for a couple of reasons, but mostly because I wanted someone who had excellent skills behind the bar and would be able to handle any crazy ‘wackadoos’ that may end up back there with them. I needed someone with both a great disposition and work ethic to handle whatever problems may transpire. You fit the bill. I have faith that you can handle any piece of work that comes trotting into this club.”

Scotty’s face slowly lost the tight lines creasing his forehead as Drake spoke, his glare lessening into more of a frown than a full-on glower.

“Fine, I’ll put up with him for a while longer.”

“Okay, good, because I wasn’t really giving you a choice,” Drake said, a teasing lilt to his voice. He started to head back out front to make sure everything was set for the day but turned when Scotty said his name. “Yes?”

Scotty was looking down, kicking at a piece of paper or some other speck on the floor. He looked like a small schoolboy playing innocent. After a moment of silence, Scotty lifted his head just enough to peer through his bangs with a face that belied any innocence Drake might have seen in him. The look was pure seduction.

“Don’t think that I don’t remember about our unfinished business.”

“Un-uh.” Drake had to clear his throat before continuing. Man, he had the most beautiful eyes. He could get lost in them. Scratch that—he was already lost in them.

What was going on? Oh, right. “Unfinished business?”

Walking close enough to put a hand on Drake’s chest, Scotty smiled. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. You said you had a lot on your plate, so I’m giving you time to work through it, but we’ll finish what we started.”

About the Author

Chris E. Saros lives in the beautiful Mitten State, surrounded by the exhilaration of the Great Lakes. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, reading, ministering to her cats’ needs, and watching TV. An avid traveler, she loves immersing herself in different cultures, discovering new foods, and meeting new people. Always game for a new adventure, she covets stimulating experiences such as working on locally filmed movies, coaching students in after-school activities, and spending time spoiling and sugaring-up her nieces and nephew to keep her status as “the fun aunt.” Though ideally an optimist, Chris E. is intrigued by the darkness life has to offer. Using writing as an outlet for her darker nature, she loves constructing characters and tossing them into dangerous situations, just to see what happens.

Social Media:

Giveaway

ebook giveaway for Semblance the author’s  first book. Leave a comment  about, “What was the wildest rabbit hole you followed while researching something specific on the web?”.  Make sure you leave your email address where you can be reached if chosen.

 

Andrea Speed Interviews Her Characters from Infected: Throwaways (Mean Streets #2), her latest release (guest blog and tour)

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Infected: Throwaways (Mean Streets #2) by Andrea Speed
DSP Publications
Cover Art: Anne Cain

Buy links:

DSP Publications

Amazon

 

If you Google “Proust character questions”, you’ll find a list of questions that the French author supposedly came up with to get to know your characters better. I’m going to use it as a game, and randomly ask Roan, Holden, or Chai one of the questions. To make it even more challenging for me, I’m using random numbers to pull up the questions. This could be great, or this could be a disaster. Let’s find out together!

 ~ Andrea Speed Interviews Roan, Holden and Chai ~

1. What is your greatest regret?

 Holden: It is too early in the day for that question.

Chai: Honestly? That I didn’t rip all of Paul’s clothes out of the closet and burn them in the parking lot when I had the chance. Not that I’m bitter.

Roan: Greatest? That I didn’t have more time with Paris.

Holden: Way to bring the room down, Roan.

Roan: You haven’t answered yet.

Holden: I try not to regret anything. It gives you wrinkles.

 2. What is your most marked characteristic?

 Holden: What the hell does that even mean?

Roan: I’ll name yours if you can’t.

Chai: Um, that’s actually a tough one. I think I’m pretty reserved.

Roan: You’re introspective. That’s not a bad thing.

Holden: I guess that makes me the big old extrovert.

Roan: No. You’re street name is Fox, right? You’re a clever son of a bitch. And the worst thing is you know it.

Holden: Look at mister smarty pants here. I guess that’s yours.

Roan: I actually thought mine was my stubbornness.

Holden: Dude, the answer is lion. It’s always lion.

3. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

 Holden: All of them.

Chai: Purity. Why? What good is it? How does it help you? It seems really pointless.

Roan: I agree with Chai. That one seems sexist and encouraging submissive conformity, which is all insidious. Same with obedience, which just makes my skin crawl.

Holden: How many five dollar words did you use just now?

Roan: Fifteen dollars and thirty five cents worth.

Holden: Thirty five cents?

Roan: There has to be tax.

 4. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

 Roan: I could say a whole bunch of things, but I think living in a big, futuristic library on another planet. With my husband, of course.

Holden: Oh God. Roan, how the hell could being a space librarian be your idea of happiness? I feel so bad for you.

Chai: I … um. I sort of feel bad admitting this, but I wouldn’t have lost my leg or gotten these scars, and I would probably live in a big mansion in a tropical paradise, with many different kinds of pool boys at my beck and call.

Roan: I like your scars.

Holden: So do I. Although I feel like my statement means more, because Roan is scarred up like a ratty old tom cat, and it’s ridiculously, infuriatingly hot.

Roan: You haven’t said what yours is.

Holden: Three words: no straight people.

 5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

 Roan: I wouldn’t be infected.

Holden: Dude.

Chai: Similar answer – I’d have my leg back.

Holden: And here I was just going to ask for a six-pack. Way to make me feel shallow, guys.

 6. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what do you think it would be?

 Holden: There’s two answers for that. Person would be a soap opera star. Male or female, but probably female.

Chai: You do like drama.

Holden: Do I ever. And if I came back as a thing, I think it would be a butt plug. A really good one.

Chai: That was too easy.

Holden: Don’t blame me. I didn’t come up with these questions.

Chai: Uh, person? I’d hope I’d be a Bollywood star. So I could dance and sing like a lunatic and get paid for it. I’m not even going to speculate about thing, ‘cause … that’s a slippery slope.

Roan: As Holden said, the answer is always lion.

Holden: So no different than now?

Roan: *stares intensely at Holden*

Holden: Okay, so, let’s wrap this up before I get eaten. In a bad way.

 **

Blurb

From the Infected Universe

Former prostitute and street kid turned private detective Holden Krause is asked to look into the murder of Burn, a black-market dealer, who turns up dead near the infamous homeless encampment known as the Jungle. It’s a place Holden is familiar with—and his memories of it aren’t entirely bad. The settlement has been taken over by sinister people but Holden isn’t afraid to take them on. A big part of his PI gig is cover for his more dangerous vigilante crusade: exacting justice for the people the system ignores, the throwaways—people just like the ones living in the Jungle.

It’s getting harder and harder for Holden’s partner, Chai Nayar, to look the other way while Holden searches out retribution beyond the confines of the law. When one of their associates is shot and Holden realizes—far too late—that he’s in over his head with this case, Chai is left to pick up the pieces and hopefully save their lives. He resorts to the only solution he can find and calls Roan, who is more lethal than ever. Will it be their saving grace, or a fatal mistake?

 

 

Excerpt

As far as Holden knew, Burn had no family, here or anywhere. He was a man without a country, a home, a basic understanding of dental hygiene. All that was generally known about him was that his appetite for drugs was bottomless, and if you needed something questionable fast—untraceable gun, pharmaceuticals, car of dubious provenance—he was the guy to see. He’d been around since Holden had started his life on the streets. Burn could be found at the dirtiest bar in town, swilling cut-rate hooch at a back booth, dealing drugs in the filthy men’s room. He was the man your parents warned you about, no matter who your parents were. He was a tragedy and a warning at the same time.

That was about all Holden really knew about him. He knew Burn’d done time, but he didn’t know what for. He knew he’d taken to meth recently, but only because of the chemical smell he gave off and the sad state of his teeth. Holden knew he went missing for days, sometimes weeks or even months, but he always popped back up, and nothing was ever said about it. Except for this time. This time, his disappearance was a prelude to his death.

Kevin told him where to find the morgue, and Holden didn’t have the heart to tell him that he already knew where it was. He was quite familiar with it. It wouldn’t be his first time visiting the place, and given the circles he ran in, not the last either. Holden was now glad he’d quoted Dahlia such a late time, as this probably wouldn’t be a quick jaunt.

The morgue was an unobtrusive building downtown, so desperately anonymous you knew it was trying to hide something. Some wag had spray-painted on a neighboring building Don’t Open, Dead Inside. They deserved points for general humor, but some had to be deducted for the obvious cultural reference.

Inside, it was air conditioned to death—no pun intended—sterile, and smelled mostly of toner and coffee, like any other office. The hallways were long and bland, purely industrial, clinging to normalcy as a counterbalance to its grim reality. A receptionist along the way pointed him in the right direction, and Holden knew he was in the right place when he saw Kevin Robinson.

Kevin was a chunky cop in his dress blues, with the same hangdog expression he always seemed to wear. Holden was reasonably certain he was born with that expression on his face. He also had the bone-deep weariness that suggested he was halfway done with the world and all its shittiness, which was a state Holden had reached roughly fifteen years ago. You didn’t become the gay Punisher because you thought people and the world were ever going to get better.

Kevin nodded upon seeing him and gave a high sign to a medical technician, who apparently unlocked a door for them before Holden followed Kevin into a room full of body drawers. Holden wondered briefly at the security for an area devoted to corpses, but what was that about people being shitty? Hell, they stole some of Roan’s and Paris’s blood samples from a lab, all to infect new people. For the millionth year in a row, humans proved themselves to be the absolute worst.

Kevin walked over to one of the lower drawers and pulled it open as white fluorescents buzzed overhead and threw stark, unflattering light on everything. “Do I even need to warn you about looking at a dead body?” Kevin wondered.

“I worked with Roan, so no,” Holden replied. There were quiet layers here, ones concerning his gay Punisher status and the fact that Kevin had heard those rumors but had no proof of anything. Holden knew if Kevin found that proof, he’d nail him to the wall with it. No matter that Roan was a mutual friend and that they were both gay men—although Kevin was still closeted. They were essentially cop and hustler, and they’d always be adversaries. They were just more polite than most.

“Speaking of which, heard from him lately?” Kevin was trying to act like it was a casual, spur-of-the-moment thing, but for a police officer, he was a terrible liar.

Luckily, Holden knew he was a great liar. He shrugged a single shoulder. “Got an email from him a couple days ago. Hard at work on his book.”

“That’s good,” Kevin replied. He didn’t sound all that mollified, and Holden didn’t blame him. But what was going on with Roan right now was not his news to tell. If Dylan wanted to share it, he would. Besides, he could see it causing Kevin nothing but pain. Sometimes the fear was better than the knowledge.

“Don’t they identify bodies by fingerprints nowadays?” Holden asked.

“Usually. But his fingerprints are all scarred up. Looks like he tried to obliterate them several times before. Can’t get a clean read.”

Kevin had pulled the drawer all the way out, and inside was a partially zipped body bag. The head and upper chest were exposed, and Holden looked down at a ghastly pale man with bloodless lips, messy, greasy black hair, and a clean gash in his torso right where the heart was. His eyes were closed, but he had the same angular cheekbones and pointed nose of the hood rat Holden knew in passing.

“Yeah, that’s Burn. Holy shit, someone killed him?”

Kevin nodded, zipping up the bag. There was a smell, but considering how Burn usually smelled, it wasn’t that bad. It was probably the cleanest Burn had been in some time. “His body was found just outside the Jungle last night. We don’t know if he was killed there or just dumped there. The residents aren’t exactly being cooperative.”

“What, homeless people being scared and suspicious of cops? Who’d have thunk it?”

Kevin closed the drawer and turned to him with a nasty look, which was semi warranted, but then his expression changed. It lightened as if he’d just realized something. “Do you know if he was living there?”

“In the Jungle?” Holden shrugged. “I have no idea. He could have a condo in Queen Anne. Everything I know about Burn could fill a bottle cap.”

“Do you know people in the Jungle?”

Holden realized what Kevin had just twigged to. “Is this where you ask me to ask around in the Jungle about Burn’s death?”

**

About the Author

Andrea Speed is a thought collective from beyond time and space, disguised as an ’88 Toyota hatchback hidden in an illegal dump somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. If you find her, she has to grant you three wishes, but they’ll all have terrible twists, like the sandwich you wished for will be made of Silly Putty, or the pot of gold you request will be full of gold paint. Really, it’s not worth bothering. Also there’s a family of possums living in the hatchback, and the mother can be kind of mean.

 Connect with the author at:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

An Ali Release Day Review: Infected: Throwaways (Mean Streets #2 Infected Universe) by Andrea Speed

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Former prostitute and street kid turned private detective Holden Krause is asked to look into the murder of Burn, a black-market dealer, who turns up dead near the infamous homeless encampment known as the Jungle. It’s a place Holden is familiar with—and his memories of it aren’t entirely bad. The settlement has been taken over by sinister people but Holden isn’t afraid to take them on. A big part of his PI gig is cover for his more dangerous vigilante crusade: exacting justice for the people the system ignores, the throwaways—people just like the ones living in the Jungle.

It’s getting harder and harder for Holden’s partner, Chai Nayar, to look the other way while Holden searches out retribution beyond the confines of the law. When one of their associates is shot and Holden realizes—far too late—that he’s in over his head with this case, Chai is left to pick up the pieces and hopefully save their lives. He resorts to the only solution he can find and calls Roan, who is more lethal than ever. Will it be their saving grace, or a fatal mistake?
 
This story starts with Holden cruising along much like he was at the end of the last book.  With Roan gone, he seems almost rudderless.  He misses Scott but won’t admit it and he doesn’t have any close friends except for Chai who is moving in to his own place.  When Kevin approaches him for help on a case he agrees.  He also ends up working a second case at the same time.  As Chai realizes what Holden actually does on cases he’s not sure this is the job for him.  
 
When things get really out of hand, Chai ends up calling Roan for help.  Roan and Dylan come back to Seattle and Roan helps Chai out.  As someone who loved the original Infected series it was both great and bittersweet to see Roan again.  His situation isn’t any better and that makes me sad but like most Roan fans, I can’t get enough of his story.
We see a decent amount of all of the side characters in this one.  Dee, Kevin, the hockey guys and even Dropkick are all a part of the story. Chai had a decent amount of page time this book and I was happy about that.  We got to know him better and I liked him a lot.  (I was also really happy with where his love life seems to going). 
 
Both mysteries were interesting and fast paced enough to be very entertaining.  As for Holden, well, I don’t know.  He makes some little steps in this book and he seemed a bit vulnerable in regards to his relationship with Scott. But overall he’s a mess and he makes me want to shake him. 
Overall I really enjoyed this.  I’m a huge fan of this series and get excited being back in Seattle with all of the gang.  This was a good installment and I can’t wait to see where the story leads for the next book.  This can not be read as a standalone.
Cover Art:  This cover was done by Anne Cain.  I liked it a lot.  It fits really well with the other covers in the series and it captures the vibe of the story well.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 280 pages
Expected publication: February 13th 2018 by DSP Publications
ISBN139781640801189
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Mean Streets #2, Infected #10

Heartbreak, Hearthounds, And A Tale of Two Winstons. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Heartbreak, Heartterriers, And A Tale of Two Winstons

My heart is breaking this Sunday.  On Friday, after what was supposed to be a routine visit to the vet, for annual shots and to check out a cough, I found out that my redoubtable terrier, Winston has an aggressive tumor in the spleen, a cancer that’s already metastasized to his lungs. Prognosis is most likely one week.  This from a boy who was after a skunk, and racing the fence with a deer only days ago.  I’m in complete shock and utterly devastated.  He’s my heart terrier, my boon companion.  I was sure I would have him for at least 10 more years as I had the Winston before.  But its not to be and by this time next Sunday, my Winston will be gone.

So, because I’m in pieces and I need to spend as much time as I can with him, I’m re-posting this morning A Tale of Two Winstons, the journey of how this magnificent Winston came into my life.  Oh, he will always be a part of my heart. He’ll be so missed.

WinstonII home

 

A Tale of Two Winstons

 

Somethings are just meant to be, no explanation, no rational reason, they just are.  Somewhere a song is sung, a ripple forms in the water, a door closes, a window opens, and a dog finds its way back to its forever home.

It’s been a week to the day that Winston died, and this household has been a very changed, quiet place.  The dogs have been upset and grieving as have I.  Then this morning we woke to the smell of gas.  Flinging open the windows, we called the gas hotline and quickly the emergency crew arrived to locate the source and shut down the gas line.  It was a small issue, one quickly resolved but it meant that we were all home for the day, an unlikely occurrence. We had food we intended to donate to the local animal shelter and now had the time to do it. I checked the computer for address and hours of operation for the Montgomery County Humane Society.

There on the website was a picture that riveted me.  Up for adoption, dog 151 who looked remarkably like Winston.  I tucked that picture into my head, gathered up the food and we left for the shelter.  I checked in and we waited for our name to be called to state our business.  Upon hearing my name, I approached the desk and they gave me a slip, asked what dog I wanted to see and directed me to the back towards the kennels.  I didn’t correct them.

Through the door, past kennels full of dogs needing homes.  I averted my eyes, my heart sore.  We approached a cage, I looked down and nearly fainted.  There he stood, tail waving, face open and smiling, his entire body shaking in happiness – Dog 151.  He looked just like Winston, almost identical.  The attendant hooked him up to a leash and we took him outside, all the while telling us he just came in yesterday.  He was neutered, 4 years old, and had been rehomed twice.  We looked at him, he looked at us, and I heard myself saying “we want him, we want to adopt him”.  There was never a moments hesitation.

She handed us a slip of paper.  How can something so flimsy carry such weight?  It meant that he was taken.  How I hated leaving him there in the kennels while the routine paperwork had to be filed.

There were pages to fill out, and pages of information about him to be received.  Instead of having to wait for an interview, somehow someone was available to interview us immediately instead of the usual waiting period.  We sat and waited for our name to be called,  looking over the paperwork.  I was focused on the staff,  when I heard my name called out.

“Melanie, his name is Winston.”

“What?”

“His name is Winston!!!!!”

Disbelieving, I looked at the paper she was holding up.  There, plain as day, next to the name for the dog being given up was the word Winston.  Dog 151 was Winston.   The tears that had been threatening from the moment I saw him spilled over.  The staff asked about the tears and the story of Winston poured out.  Even they thought the series of events unlikely.  The wonderful person who was our adoption counselor. Addie Soares who interviewed us had Winston brought in and he was as much a part of the interview process as we were. Sitting at our feet, body wagging a mile a minute, it was clear to all we were a family.  We talked some more and then she asked if we wanted to take him home today.  The answer was a resounding “yes”.

We had been warned he would likely bolt because of past issues so they gave us all new tags, harness and collar.  We keep a leash in the car just in case a dog needs to be rescued.  Out to the jeep we went.  Winston took one look at the car and leaped for the seat.  The ride home was a breeze as he sat safe and interested in my lap.  Then we were home.  Questions formed in my mind.  What would Willow and Kirby think?

I shouldn’t have worried. Willow kissed him, and Winston kissed her back.  Kirby came running up, happy to greet him.  Turns out Winston was just as overjoyed to see Kirby.  We employed the usual tactics to introduce new dogs to each other but really we needn’t have bothered.  Much sniffing ensued, much licking ensured, much peeing ensued, and they were fine.  So were we, again.

Now we are all ensconced on the bed, watching The Voice, and the dogs are sleeping peacefully next to us on the bed as well.  This is why king sized beds were invented.  Winston’s feet are moving in his sleep, his brows moving in tandem.  His slumber is full of dreams. Willow is curled up on her pillow and Kirby is doing his normal imitation of a teenage boy, unmoving and splayed out.  We are at peace, and we are whole once more.

There are certainly differences between them as it should be.  One is not the other.  One is not the replacement for the other, and their differences are to be celebrated.  This Winston has a long undocked tail, and a wide open personality.  This Winston lacks the arduous back history of my other Winston.  That Winston was wary of new circumstances, never taking treats or unfamiliar food.  This Winston took two treats immediately and then looked for more.  But there are also similarities.  The huge personality that says I will not give in, that persistent nature, hearty spirit and indomitable soul.

He is sleeping on his back now, at ease in posture and attitude.  Winston knows he is home.

They had asked us if we intended to keep the name Winston.  I looked at him, and thought of all the things that came together for us to become a family, and replied “yes, that is his name.”  He is Winston, a different Winston but Winston none the less.  Different but equal.

A song is sung, a wing beats on the wind, a direction is chosen, ripples form and a dog comes home just as another leaves.  Who is to say how these patterns are formed, and the paths chosen?   Somehow I know this was meant to be and Winston is smiling down upon us.  I will always love my Winston and miss him.  I will celebrate and welcome this Winston’s homecoming.

One is mourned and one is found.  A home is made whole as is a heart.  I swear I hear a song and a bark in the air…..

Here is Winston finally in his forever home.WinstonII asleep

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, January 14:

  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Cover Reveal for LOVE TIMES FIVE by Lily G Blunt

Monday, January 15:

  • Review Tour – Lost In Time – A.L. Lester
  • BLITZ Beneath the Surface by Rebecca Langham
  • BLITZ Life After Humanity by Gillian St. Kevern
  • A Caryn Review: Lost In Time by A.L. Lester
  • A Stella Review: Friends and Lovers by Tinnean
  • An Ali Review:  A Purple Winter by Mel Bossa

Tuesday, January 16:

  • Bleeding Like Me by Riley Parks Tour
  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Jeff Adams and Will Knauss VIDEO
  • DSP GUEST POST BA TORTUGA ON Fighting Addiction
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Fighting Addiction (Fighting Addiction) by B.A. Tortuga
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Beneath This Mask (Enhanced #3) by Victoria Sue
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Ghost of a Chance (Requiem Inc. #1) by Kris T. Bethke

Wednesday, January 17:

  • Cover Reveal for Selina Kray’s In Wild Lemon Groves
  • Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway for Tribute Act by Joanna Chambers
  • Blog tour for Resist and Triumph charity anthology
  • An Ali Review: Two Man Station (Emergency Services #1) by Lisa Henry
  • A MelanieM Review:  Tribute Act (Porthkennack #8) by Joanna Chambers
  • A Stella Review:The Fortune Hunter by Bonnie Dee

Thursday, January 18:

  • DSP Promo Amy Spector
  • Release Day Blitz A Way with You by Lane Hayes
  • Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway: Romantic Behavior by LA Witt and Cari Z
  • A Julia Review :Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills by Liv Olteano
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Spun! by JL Merrow and Mark Steadman (Narrator)
  • A Stella Pre Release Review: When the Devil Wants In by Cate Ashwood and J.H. Knight

Friday, January 19:

  • Book Blast – The Loss of Self – An Intimate Autobiography by Alek Martin
  • Release Blitz – The Station – Keira Andrews
  • Review Tour – Coach’s Challenge (Cayuga Cougars #3) – V.L. Locey
  • A MelanieM Review: Coach’s Challenge (Cayuga Cougars #3) by V.L. Locey
  • An Ali Review: An Amy Lane Christmas by Amy Lane (bundle)

Saturday, January 20:

  • A MelanieM Review: On Davis Row by N.R. Walker
 

So Long 2017! Hello 2018! It’s Our Final 2017 Best of Lists. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

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So Long 2017! Hello 2018! It’s Our Final 2017 Best of Lists.

Well, today as we usher out 2017 (and I can’t say I’m entirely sorry to see it go), I will say it’s been a wonderful year in terms of stories, at least for me, and as far as I can tell, for some of you too.  So buckle up, my buttercups, grab something to make lists with, whether it be old fashioned paper and pen or your smartphone or pad, and prepare yourself for some marvelous Best of Lists from readers, reviewers, and myself!

♦︎

There have been series that ended this year (and I’m including trilogies here) that were just outstanding, new discoveries made of authors both established and newly published, great stories that cut to the heart of why we read, and series that either started or continued that made us laugh, cry, blew our minds with the author’s creativity and wild imaginations!  Oh the joy of it all!

♦︎

Plus the happiness that we here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words have been able to share it all with you and have heard from you in return.  It’s been a very rich year indeed.

Best of

From Our Readers

Lennis:

My Bests:
Best Contemporary is tough. I liked How To Bang A Billionaire by Alexis Hall, Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell, and Rule Breaker by Lily Morton.
Best Fantasy for me would be The Heart of The Lost Star by Megan Derr, Lord Mouse by Mason Thomas, A Destiny of Dragons by T.J. Klune. I wasn’t sure if I should add Broken by Jex Lane to this, or have it be Best Paranormal? Let’s go with that.
Best Science Fiction would be Moro’s Price by M. Crane Hana and Dali by E.M. Hamill.
Best Cover. Natasha Snow has had an awesome year! Controlled Burn and Adrift are some favorites. The Foxling Soldati cover by L.C. Chase and One Last Try cover by Lou Harper are also eye catching.

suze294

My 5* reads from this year
The Executive Office series, Tal Bauer
Sins of the cities series, KJ Charles
Forever Haunt (Jimmy McSwain 5), Adam Carpenter
This Fire Inside, Jordan Nasser
What It Looks Like, Matthew J Metzger
Wolfsong, TJ Klune
Priddys Tale, Harper Fox
Bitter Legacy, Dal Maclean
Switched, NR Walker
The Definitive Albert J Sterne, Julie Bozza
Reaping Fate, AJ Rose

From Ana:

My Bests:
Best Mystery: Kill Game by Cordelia Kingsbridge and Risky Behavior by LA Witt & Cari Z
Best Audiobook: Femme by Marshall Thornton
Best Cover:Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan
Best Contemporary (this is hard to choose, so many good ones): Becoming Kerry by Lynn Kelling, The Impossible Boy by Anna Martin, Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaugh, Manic Pixie Dream Boy by KA Merikan and Disease by Hans M Hirshchi
Best Dark Theme: Backdoor Politics by CL Mustafic

Amy:

Favorite On-Going Series in 2017

Hexworld by Jordan L. Hawk
Aberrant Magic by Lyn Gala
Offbeat Crimes by Angel Martinez
Bad Behavior by L.A. Witt and Cari Z
Rainbow Cove by Annabeth Albert
Scoring Chances by Avon Gale

and more from Didi:

I’m adding two more lists of mine here, for PNR and May/December (or Age-Gap as one MC’s not into his December yet 😉 ).

Best Paranormal Romance:
– Spectred Isle by KJ Charles
– Hexslayer by Jordan L. Hawk
– Undertow by Jordan L. Hawk
– The Well by Marie Sexton
– Fraud Twice Felt by JT Hall

Best May/December Romance:
– Off the Ice by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn
– Spun! by JL Merrow
– Trust the Chaser by Annabelle Albert
– Risky Behavior by LA Witt & Cari Z (I cheated, it’s more age-gap than May/December, I think)
– Permanent Ink by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn

Best of Lists from STRW

 More from Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Reviewers:

 From Lila:

Looking back on my shelves, The Best of 2017 (according to me) are:

January – Chosen Pride by Mary Calmes
February – Red Dirt Heart by N.R. Walker
March – Borrowing Trouble by Kade Boehme
April – Tell Me the Truth by Lisa Oliver
May –  The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
June – The Palisade by Rosalind Abel
July – That Alien Feeling by Alessandra Hazard
August – The Heart of the Lost Star by Megan Deer
September – Strange Bedfellows by Cardeno C.
October – Locked in Silence by Sloane Kennedy
November – The Hideaway by Rosalind Abel
December – An Omega for Christmas by L.C. Davis
And some extra mentions:

·         Best Read for STRWBonfires by Amy Lane

MelanieM Best of 2017

Here are my lists, many and long as I warned everyone.  What a year and I still mourn the books I hesitatingly left off.  These are listed in absolutely no particular order excerpt that I was scrambling to look at my notes and books kept popping up here and there….

♥︎Best Contemporary Fiction with Romance

Ghost (Executioners #1) by J.M Dabney
Joker (Executioners #2) by J.M Dabney
Watermelon Kisses by Freddy Mackay
There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford
Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt, #2) by Heidi Cullinan
Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan
Switched by NR Walker
Late in the Day (The Vault #2) by Mary Calmes
Micah Johnson Goes West (Get Out #2)
by Sean Kennedy
House of Cards (Porthkennack #4) by Garrett Leigh
Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft
Fair Chance (All’s Fair #3) by Josh Lanyon
Hawaiian Orchid (The Hawaiians 2) by Meg Amor
Snowblind by Eli Easton
Who We Are by Nicola Haken
Fishy Riot by Lindsey Black
Rhino Ash by Lindsey Black

Bonfires by Amy Lane
Catch and Release (The Release, #3) by B.A. Tortuga

♥︎Best Contemporary Fiction (not a romance)

Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path #1) by Amy Tasukada

♥︎Best Science Fiction

The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky #1) by J. Scott Coatsworth
Sūnder (Darksoul #1) by Lexi Ander
The Jackal’s House (Lancaster’s Luck #2) by Anna Butler – steampunk

 ♥︎Best of Fantasy:

His Mossy Boy (Being(s) in Love#8) by R. Cooper
Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford
The Heart of the Lost Star by Megan Derr
Ravens (Inheritance #3) by Amelia Faulkner

♥︎Best Supernatural/Paranormal:

Bitten by Design (Regent’s Park Pack #2) by Annabelle Jacobs
Skim Blood and Savage Verse (Offbeat Crimes #3) by Angel Martinez (actually all the books in this series)

♥︎Best Series:

Aisling Trilogy by Carole Cummings (high fantasy)
The Hawaiians by Meg Amor (contemporary romance)
Offbeat Crimes by Angel Martinez (humor, fantasy, supernatural)
Nicky and Noah Mysteries by Joe Cosentino  (high camp, high humor, mystery)
Inheritance by Amelia Faulkner (fantasy, supernatural)
The Kingdom Series (Vol 1 & 2) by RJ Scott (fantasy)
Rainbow Cove by Annabeth Albert
#gaymers by Annabeth Albert
Being(s) in Love by R. Cooper
The Release series by BA Tortuga
The Sin Bin by Dahlia Donovan (contemporary)
The Yakuza Path series by Amy Tasukada (contemporary fiction) violent, bloody, brilliant, not romance)

 ♥︎Great Series Ending:

Sanctuary Series by RJ Scott
Texas Series by RJ Scott
Mahu by Neil S. Plakcy
All’s Fair by Josh Lanyon
Werecat series by Andrew J. Peters
Holiday with the Bellskis by Astrid Amara
End Street Detectives by RJ Scott (supernatural)

 

♥︎Holiday Series ~ special mention:Holidays with the Bellskis Series by Astrid Amara (final story just out)
Carol of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #1) by Astrid Amara
Miracle of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #2) by Astrid Amara
Wedding Bellskis (Holidays with the Bellskis, #3) by Astrid Amara

♥︎Best Covers:​

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Destiny of Dragons (Tales From Verania) by TJ Klune, Artist Paul Richmond
Red Fish, Dead Fish (Fish Out of Water#2) by Amy Lane, Artist: Reese Dante
Sunset at Pencarrow (World of Love)
by Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell, Artist: Reese Dante
An Island in the Stars by Susan Laine, Artist:  Anna Sikorska
Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan, Cover art by Natsukoworks, Cover design by Kanaxa Designs.
The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn, Artist Natasha Snow
Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane, Artist: Paul Richmond
Comes a Horseman (Echoes Rising #3) by Anne Barwell, Artist: Reese Dante
A New Way to Dance by Sean Michael, Artist: Anne Squires
The Glamour Thieves by Don Allmon, Artist: Simone
Conned
By Jana Denardo, Artist: Melody Pond
Sūnder (Darksoul #1) by Lexi Ander, Artist:Kirby Crow
The Blacksmith Prince by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus, Artist:  Lady Tiferet
Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft, Artist: G.D. Leigh

 

 

 

 

 

♥︎

Well those are my choices and I’m sure I’ve even left a quite of few out.  How did all of your lists come out?  Did you all find some new books to add to your TBR lists on everyone’s Best of Lists?  Winner Announcements to come next week as they would get lost and we need to have something to look forward to!

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!  See you all in 2018!  Happy Reading from Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to all of you!

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, December 31- Happy New Eve’s:

  • So Long 2017! Hello 2018! It’s Our Final 2017 Best of Lists.
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.
  • A Stella Advent Release Day Review: Eugene and the Box of Nails by Jaime Samms

Monday, January 1:

  • Book Blitz: Blackwelder 2164 by Christopher D. J
  • BLITZ The Calling by MD Neu
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Reckless Behavior by LA Witt and Cari Z
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Operation Green Card by GB Gordon
  • A Kai Audiobook Review: Nachos & Hash by Brandon Witt and Dominic Carlos (Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Review: Hurricane by BA Tortuga

Tuesday, January 2:

  • Cover Reveal for Shae Connor’s Teaching Ben
  • DSP Promo K.A. Mitchell
  • RIPTIDE TOUR On Solid Ground by Quinn Anderson
  • Tour: A Different Light by Morningstar Ashley
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Prelude to Love by Anne Barwell
  • A MelanieM Review: Bound by Thorns (Dragon Soul #3) by Sean Michael

Wednesday, January 3:

  • Blog Tour *Won’t Feel A Thing by C.F. White
  • Release Blitz – Bonnie Dee – The Fortune Hunter
  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Anne Barwell
  • A VVivacious Review: OBSESSION by Theophilia St. Claire​
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo
  • A MelanieM Review: Wait For Me by Kris Jacen

Thursday, January 4:

  • Release Blitz & Review Tour Request – Sam Burns – Blackbird In The Reeds
  • Sin and Saint by J.M. Dabney RDB, Tour
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Sin and Saint by J.M. Dabney
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Reckless Behavior by LA Witt and Cari Z
  • A Stella Review: The Best Gift by Shawn Lane
  • An Alisa Review Wolf’s Kiss by Siryn Sueng

Friday, January 5:

  • Dreamspinner Promo: Alix Bekins and Connie Bailey, authors of Song and Key
  • Release Blitz – Vows Box Set – Addison Albright
  • RELEASE BLITZ Felix and the Prince by Lucy Lennox
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Smitty’s Sheriff by Cardeno C
  • A Stella Pre Release Review: When the Devil Wants In by Cate Ashwood and JH Knight
  • An Alisa Prerelease Review: Forever With You By Londra Laine

Saturday, January 6:

  • A MelanieM Review: Ghoulish by Kat Bellamy

 

 

 

 

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Beloved Son (Aisling Trilogy#3) by Carole Cummings

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When a man’s identity is built on lies, can he find the true self buried beneath? For Wil and Dallin, newfound love might not be enough. To heal themselves and their world, they must learn to see things as they truly are and break free of what they have been tricked into believing.

Wil and Dallin stand at the center of an approaching convergence they’re not sure they’re strong enough to face. The power of the land and the Mother waits for Wil in the bowels of Lind, but it comes at a price: he must defeat the soul-eater and save the Father, Her Beloved, and manage to keep his soul in the process. He can’t do it alone. But where can he turn for aid when friends are not necessarily friends, trusted mentors are not necessarily to be trusted, and good intentions are sometimes the most dangerous kind?

Dallin and Wil must accept their roles as the Guardian and the Aisling and stand together against a ruthless god in a cataclysmic battle of dreams and wills, the fates of both of their souls and those of all mortals hanging in the balance. Trust, if they can finally embrace it, holds both the promise of salvation and the risk of damnation.

With the final story, Beloved Son by Carole Cummings, the Aisling Trilogy is complete and it’s one of my top series of 2017.  A truly masterful epic of fantasy storytelling, in this conclusion, Cummings expands her mythology of the  gods, brings in even more political intrigue, and continues the almost unimaginable religious zealotry that both furthers and threatens every step that Dallin and Wil take towards bringing an end to the soul eater.

And with all that, Cummings still threads in the relatable, and needed  relationship of two men trying to figure out if love and trust can work between them.

You can read and appreciate the Aisling Trilogy on so many levels.  If you are a lover of world building and mythology, this one is for you as the gods here and the worlds will capture your imagination and let it run wild.  So too all the various tribes of men and geographical areas  she has created for Dallin and Will to walk through.  She’s left nothing to chance.  Plus she’s populated them all with peoples and cultures you absolutely believe in.

However, it’s that final battle that will have you grabbing, white knuckled, at your Kindle or tablet, the outcome uncertain.  The power of her narrative and the emotions it pulls from you will threaten to knock you over.  It’s a deadly combat worthy of all that’s come before.

And yes, I loved the ending.

Taken by itself (no it’s not a standalone) along with the other two of its companion stories, Beloved Son and the Aisling Trilogy is among my  top series of 2017.  I highly recommend it to all fantasy lovers.

Cover art by Anne Cain.  I like the covers but that just doesn’t seem like Dallin to me.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 306 pagesExpected publication: December 19th 2017 by DSP Publications (first published December 14th 2011)
Original Title Beloved Son
ISBN139781635338041
Edition Language English
Series Aisling

Lyn Gala on the Many Expressions of Love and her story ‘Tap-Dancing the Minefields’ (author guest post)

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Tap-Dancing the Minefields by Lyn Gala
DSP Publications
Cover art by Anne Cain

Buy at DSP Publications |  Amazon 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words welcomes Lyn Gala here today on her tour for Tap-Dancing the Minefields. Welcome, Lyn.

 

I write romance, so clearly I’m obsessed with people falling in love or being in love or struggling to make love work.  But sometimes I miss seeing a wide range of love.  In Romeo and Juliet, everyone talks about the young couple, but what about Mercutio’s love for Romeo? 

In Frankenstein, I am obsessed with how much the creature struggles to find brotherly love with all these imperfect people.  For one shining moment, he has it, sitting in a hovel with a blind man who talks to him like an equal, and then the family returns and reveals the truth about the monster’s horrible appearance.  That breaks my heart.  And I maintain that Huck Finn’s redemption comes when he learns to love Jim.

So I want a romantic love interest, but I also want deep, abiding love in all its forms.  Tap-Dancing grew out of that desire. Back in New York, Tank lost too many people he loved.  He took those broken connections and used them as an excuse to run as far and as fast as he could—ending up in the northern wilds of Alaska running supplies to a remote Army base.  Once there, Tank finds himself in the center of an alien conspiracy, a military unit struggling to defend the planet and a group of people who share the sort of camaraderie Tank desperately needs.

Lev is shy with a core of steel and a big heart, and Tank is immediately attracted to him.  But this story is also about Aldrich who is the mentor and father figure Tank needed.  It’s about Brian Hoffer who tried to be the big brother Tank needed and John who actually filled that role. It’s about how these people all love each other, and yes, Lev and Tank are the centerpiece because they have the romantic love, what the Greeks called eros—sexual passion.  And they do have a lot of passion.

But I wrote this with a list of the Greek words for love sitting in front of me.

I love the fact that the Greeks identified a number of different ways that love can develop in the human heart, and I want to explore all of them.  Philia, deep friendship, motivates these people as much as their desire to protect the world.  When Aldrich is talking to John or Deborah, who are technically under him in the chain of command, the ludus, playful love, shows as they tease each other.

These soldiers have agape, a love for all people that drives them to protect others, even when their own lives are at risk. Deborah and her husband show pragma, a deep longstanding love. More than any of my other books, I think this one has a happily ever after in that Lev and Tank develop that pragma by the end.  They have patience for each other, and love that comes from a place of compromise and patience can survive anything.

But more than anything, this is about philautia—self love. Tank hates himself for not being perfect and being helpless to stop evil in the world. Much of this book is about his struggle to forgive himself for being imperfect—for losing friends to a fight he couldn’t hope to win.  He is damaged in ways that only another warrior could recognize, and much of the book is about his struggle to forgive himself and rediscover his philautia because until he can open his heart to himself, he can’t truly allow Lev into it.

I will admit that I am stupidly in love with these characters.  I love how broken and flawed they are and how they keep fighting no matter what.  The love running through these guys isn’t about hearts and flowers. This love is steel and fire.  And sometimes the fire does burn too brightly.

Blurb

Sometimes the fiercest battle a man faces is against himself.

In the hidden alleyways of New York City, George “Tank” Tankersley defeated what he believed were demons. But the victory cost too much. Tank joined the Army in the hope of outrunning the guilt haunting him—only to stumble into a vast and deadly conspiracy, the enemies he’d hoped to never encounter again, and the arms of the brilliant, eccentric scientist tasked with saving humanity.

In a world where the line between dark magic and alien science is thin, Dr. Lev Underwood must reverse engineer recovered alien technology to give humans a fighting chance against the extraterrestrial beings who consider Earth nothing more than a petri dish. His old friend, Colonel Clyde Aldrich, wants to protect Lev from entanglement with the scarred and emotionally volatile young soldier, but Lev cannot help the pull he feels toward Tank. Still, his first loyalty is to the secret government program, and love might have to take a back seat to protecting the world. But if he can find a way, Lev wants both.

Excerpt:

The connecting door opened, and Clyde looked up as John stood in the doorway, silently watching. He had no censure on his face, but he stood as a mute witness as Tank’s cries gradually faded. It took over an hour, but eventually the stiff muscles and hard tremors faded until Tankersley lay limp in Clyde’s arms, either asleep or too worn out to keep grieving. Clyde didn’t fool himself. This was the first step on a long journey. But at least Tankersley had the balls to start down it. Plenty of men could never face their own fears.

“You want to give me a hand?” Clyde asked softly. John moved into the room, a silent shadow as he walked over and knelt down to scoop Tankersley up. He was really out of it. His eyes didn’t even flicker as John lifted him and moved him to the bed.

Clyde sat on the floor feeling nearly as exhausted himself. Watching Tankersley fight through all the pain made his own wounds feel rawer than they had in a while. Losing people. It wasn’t easy. And the officers for whom it became easy weren’t worth spit.

John frowned at him, and Clyde made a production of standing with his stiff knees. Usually he was exaggerating when he talked about his old legs, but Tankersley had put his weight onto Clyde’s left leg, and he had a raging case of pins and needles. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Clyde rubbed his sore leg.

“You guys wouldn’t hurt so much if you weren’t so willing to give your love to so many people,” John commented.

“Yep,” Clyde agreed. They’d talked about it on the gladiator ship—the danger of loving others and the way it stole a man’s soul when those people died. Clyde figured that neither of them needed to talk about it, because both of them had seen their share of men struggling to carry the emotional burdens the world required of them. Really, Lev should have found someone with fewer scars.

Author Bio:

Lynsey “Lyn” Gala started writing in the back of her science notebook in third grade and hasn’t stopped since. Westerns starring men with shady pasts gave way to science fiction with questionable protagonists, which eventually became any story with a morally ambiguous character. Even the purest heroes have pain and loss and darkness in their hearts, and that’s where she likes to find her stories. Her characters seek to better themselves and find the happy (or happier) ending.

When she isn’t writing, Lyn Gala teaches history in a small town in New Mexico. Her favorite spot to write is a flat rock under a wide tree on the edge of the open desert where her dog can terrorize local wildlife. Writing in a wide range of genres, she often gravitates back to adventure and BDSM, stories about men in search of true love and a way to bring some criminal to justice… unless they happen to be the criminal. Find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lyn.gala