A Stella Release Day Review: Vodka & Handcuffs (Mary’s Boys #2) by Brandon Witt

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RATING 3,5 out of 5 stars

Vahin Arora, Hamburger Mary’s sexy bartender, plays the flirtatious role so well even his closest friends—his chosen family at Mary’s—don’t realize Vahin hasn’t had a hookup in months. Then Tall, Dark, and Handsome steps through the door, and Vahin’s libido races back to life.

Being a black cop on the Denver police force is no easy job—Marlon Barton can’t imagine adding being gay to the equation. And while Marlon loves his work as an officer, his life has taken a turn for the hellish because of his new partner, the nephew of a senator.

Fleeing his partner’s company one night, Marlon stumbles into Mary’s for the first time… and wakes up with a hangover in the bartender’s bed. The one-night stand heats up into a budding romance, but not without stress as Marlon’s partner’s actions threaten Vahin’s livelihood and Marlon’s future on the force. Can Vahin and Marlon face the challenges and hold on to the love, friendship, and family they’ve found?

I was so happy to have Vodka & Handcuffs in my hands, the previous book in the Mary’s Boy series, Nachos & Hash conquered me and I was so curious to see what I will get next. I’m sorry to say this new release was just an okay read and nothing more to me. And I am so used to have so much more from Brandon Witt books, that I’m disappointed.

It feels to me that everything I know about Vahin and Marlon I got it from the blurb, the story actually told me nothing else. And that’s the problem. It should have been more focused on the MCs together, how much they wanted each other, but I actually saw no connection between them, I wanted to know more about their past and the present they are living. Instead the story is focused on some nasty things that are happening with Marlon police partner, and even if this gave the story reality, it was at the expense of the main couple’s romance which was almost non-existent. And even the ending was just meh

As I said Vodka & Handcuffs was an okay reading, the book is well written like everything Brandon writes, there are some secondary characters I was so hoping to meet again, I saw Cody and was happy to know he was doing great. I saw ManDonna being fabulous as always. That’s why I gave the story 3,5 stars. Now, if I could have Zachary story right this second, I would be so happy.

The cover art by AngstyG follows the style of the cover of the previous book, it’s well done and fitting the story, I can easily picture Marlon and Vahin in the models on it, I like it.

Sales Links

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 112 pages

Expected publication: April 26th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1635334330 (ISBN13: 9781635334333)

Edition Language English

Series Mary’s Boy #2

A Julia Release Day Review: New Lease by B. G. Thomas

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wade Porter spent his whole life in the shadow of a lover who doled out snippets of love and time as he saw fit—and who insisted that love stay deep in the closet. But now that man is gone, and Wade finds the oceanside cottage where they spent so many weekends together in the Florida Keys cold and empty. He has come one last time, not even sure he wants to keep living.

To his surprise, the house next door is occupied by another bereaved and lonely man. Kent Walker is an artist of romantic gay paintings who is open to the future—and determinedly interested in Wade. Kent wants to show Wade the beauty in being an openly gay man and the possibilities for a real relationship.

Maybe Kent can help Wade let go of the past and discover a better way to live—and love.

After finishing New Lease by B. G. Thomas, the first thought that came to mind was “short and sweet” – but after taking some time to reflect on what I had just read, I realized that there is so much more to it. The writing is fluid and to the point with no piece of information feeling superfluous or unnecessary. The location was well-chosen and I liked how the author used the environment to incite thoughts and memories within Wade, from whose point of view the story is told. After having lost the only lover he has ever known, he is struggling to find a way back into a regulated life. The author did a good job at leading us through his head and you really get a sense of how the character feels almost stranded (emphasized by his surroundings) because of his inability to let go of the past. I was also quite surprised to hear that Wade is already fifty-one years old. His shyness and inexperience, especially when it comes to relationships, led me to expect a much younger man.

Wade forms an apt contrast to the natural and dynamic Kent, whom I took an immediate liking to. It is especially encouraging to read how comfortable and self-confident he feels with his homosexuality – something that Wade is only slowly allowing himself to do. I admired Kent for his positive outlook on life and how he deals with his own sadness. I only wished you could have learned a bit more about his past life and relationships. Through Wade’s flashbacks and explanations, you also learn quite a bit about Gene, Wade’s former lover, whom I found to be a rather intriguing character as well. It almost makes me wish the author would write a sort of prequel to this story, in which the reader gets to experience Wade’s and Gene’s relationship first-hand.

Despite its length, the story addresses a variety of complex, personal issues: losing a loved one, facing an uncertain future and coming to terms with one’s own wishes and desires. It made me think and genuinely sympathize with the characters and their situation. After all is said and done, this story left a pleasantly hopeful taste in my mouth and I quite enjoyed reading it.

The cover art by Bree Archer may seem simple at first but fits the story quite well and takes on a different layer of meaning once you’ve read it.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 46 pages

Published April 12, 2017

by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13 978-1-63533-428-9

Edition Language: English

An Ali Review: My Name Was Karl by Daniel Mitton

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
It was a forgotten place. A place with a dark history. Thousands of men had passed through its doors during the first three quarters of the twentieth century. Most had served their time and moved on. But not all had been so fortunate. 

As the years ticked by and the seasons changed, the old prison moldered away, but one thing stayed constant. 
In the deepest part of the night, on the darkest nights of the year—particularly in spring, if you were sensitive enough to hear them—sounds could be heard coming from the deepest bowels of the lowest level basement. All was not right. Something was waiting, alone in the darkness. 

Waiting for someone to finally hear its sorrow. 

When Petty Officer Ben Pierce decided to explore the long abandoned Naval Prison next to his decrepit barracks, the last thing he expected to find was a mystery.

Something is in the Prison. Or is it someone? Where is the weeping coming from? When Ben follows the sounds to an ice cold, but empty, cell, he isn’t sticking around to find out any more details. 
But now he can’t get it out of his mind.
This was a creative gothic tale that weaves parts of the past with parts of the present.  The story begins by being told from Karl’s point of view.  He’s a young, German, ship radio operator who is taken captive by the United States at the end of World War II.  He is sent to a military prison where he is ‘interrogated’ until he dies.  (and yes, this part was very sad).
The story then comes to the present time where we hear the rest of the story from Ben’s point of view.  Ben is a Navy soldier who is stationed next to the old prison.  At night he can hear the cries of a man and he goes to investigate.  He realizes the prison is haunted by Karl’s ghost and soon the two men end up being friends and then more.
Yes, you have to suspend some reality for this book premise to work.  Humans and ghosts falling in love isn’t exactly a day to day event but in the form of a fictional romance I found I really enjoyed it.  It was creative and different and rest assured there is a happily ever after for these two.  I thought the writing was solid and I enjoyed this enough that I will read this author’s work again sometime.  
 
If you’re looking for a unique story with a paranormal twist then I definitely recommend this story.
 
Cover Art:  I liked the cover a lot.  I thought it was very eye catching and it fits the plot line well.
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 91 pages
Published March 10th 2017
ASINB06XJSL396

An Alisa Release Day Review: Seashores of Old Mexico by BA Tortuga

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

After a bar fight gone horribly wrong, Clint is on the run, tired, hungry, and desperate to get out of Texas and across the border as fast as he can. But more than anything, he needs a place to relax and feel safe—at least for a little while. Searching for work, he stumbles into a cantina on the beach and runs into its owner. Jack might be a little older and a little worldlier, but the two men have enough in common to form a fast friendship that soon spills over into the bedroom.

 

But Clint isn’t the only who’s done things he isn’t proud of, things he’d rather keep hidden. Both of them have to be ready to drop everything and run if the past gets too close, and that’s no foundation for a relationship—especially since the truth always comes out eventually.

 

This was a nice story.  When we meet Clint he is pretty down on his luck and really needs someone to support him.  Jack steps right up to take that job even is Clint is still wary of what could happen if someone find him.  These characters both build friendships with each other before they explore if they can be more and it gives them a pretty firm base to start from.

 

I really felt for Clint when I read how scared he was of his past coming to get him and how eager he was to do almost anything for some food and a little comfortable sleep.  Jack is worldlier but really is as alone as Clint in his personal life and grabs onto their relationship with both hands.  These two complement each other well and while they slowly tip toe around each other at first open up quickly once they know that is an option.

 

Cover art by Alexandria Corza is a wonderful picture of the background of this story.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 55 pages

Published: 2nd edition, April 10, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 9781635336566

Edition Language: English

Review Tour and Giveaway – My Name Was Karl by Daniel Mitton

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK


Length: 91 pages


Blurb

It was a forgotten place. A place with a dark history. Thousands of men had passed through its doors during the first three quarters of the twentieth century. Most had served their time and moved on. But not all had been so fortunate.
As the years ticked by and the seasons changed, the old prison moldered away, but one thing stayed constant. 

In the deepest part of the night, on the darkest nights of the year—particularly in spring, if you were sensitive enough to hear them—sounds could be heard coming from the deepest bowels of the lowest level basement. All was not right. Something was waiting, alone in the darkness. 

Waiting for someone to finally hear its sorrow. 

When Petty Officer Ben Pierce decided to explore the long abandoned Naval Prison next to his decrepit barracks, the last thing he expected to find was a mystery.

Something is in the Prison. Or is it some one? Where is the weeping coming from? When Ben follows the sounds to an ice cold, but empty, cell, he isn’t sticking around to find out any more details. 

But now he can’t get it out of his mind. 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words’ Review here.

 

 
Author Bio

Daniel Mitton is not a statistic. When the doctors broke the news to him that he would be dead by the end of 2013 from brain cancer, he scoffed at them. He has proven them incorrect, and continues to prove them more incorrect every day.

He is now pursuing his lifelong dream of telling other people his stories in writing. His overactive imagination used to get him in trouble. It will be interesting to see what happens this time.

My Name Was Karl is his first self-published work, but he already has two other books in a queue somewhere at a publisher.

Daniel was born and raised in northern New Hampshire, but now lives in sunny Southwest Florida with his husband of nearly twenty-eight years. He totally doesn’t get why some people complain it is too hot in Florida!

Giveaway

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A Stella Review: Angel by JL Merrow

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

How do you know if you’re one of the damned?

As a child, Don wanted to become a priest. Now a grown man mostly at ease with being gay, he’s left the Catholic Church and has chosen instead to help people through his work as a parole officer.

His strong faith is shaken when his latest assignment turns out to be Michael, a young man Don hasn’t seen since he took Michael to church as a child — and saw his parish priest cast Michael out of the church as a demon.

Meeting him as an adult re-ignites the obsession Don had with the boy he couldn’t save. But can Michael be saved at all? Or is the strangely compelling demon with a taste for risky sex as damned as he believes himself to be?

JL Merrow is an amazing writer, I’m a huge fan of her works. It seems I already missed this short when it was first released, I couldn’t miss it this second time.

The blurb tells you everything you need to know about the story, I read it and liked it. Angel is a super short story, well written, quick and engaging. Being so short there wasn’t really space for a lot of development in the romance part, to be honest pretty inexistent. But the author was great at showing me how deep Dan was into Michael, from the moment they met again twenty years later, Michael is everything Dan can think and dream of. From that moment Dan will go after him and try to save him.

I have to say I wish Angel was a little longer and I would have preferred to have Michael POV too. I was interested in the MCs and yes, I wanted more about them, about what happened all the years they were apart, and I wanted more of them together. For these reasons I was going to give this short just three stars, then the ending part blew me away. The last pages were really beautiful and emotional, the feel of acceptance, the feel of love mixed with fear, all of these filled my heart.

The cover art by Witten Ink Designs is well done, simple, clean and fitting.

Sales Links:   JMS Books LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 34 pages

Published March 11th 2017 by JMS Books LLC (first published February 24th 2010)

ASIN B06X3TDMW5

Edition Language English

In Our Spotlight: Julia Talbot on Just a Cowboy (author interview)

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Just a Cowboy (Riding Cowboy Flats #2) by Julia Talbot
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Available for Purchase at

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Julia Talbot here today talking about writing, and her latest story, Just a Cowboy.  Welcome, Julia!

✒︎

Hey y’all!

I’m Julia Talbot, and I’m here to talk about my upcoming release Just a Cowboy and answer some interview questions!

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

Hmm. A lot, I think. I don’t always write what I know, but I do always pay a little homage to people I know or places I’ve been.

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

I love research. Love it. That’s why I love historicals. Now, for Just a Cowboy I just had to check that places in Las Cruces were still open, because that’s where I grew up.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I prefer HEA, though I get accused of HFN more than I would imagine. I’m a longtime romance reader, and I want my payoff. I want that happy ending to make me believe there’s still good in the world. Especially right now.

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

As a kid it was Kathleen Woodewiss and Karen Robards. Now I would say I’m jonesing on Samantha Kane and Joey Hill.

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

I had to answer this one. If you’re working with a publisher, you don’t get a lot of choice. You tell them what your guys or gals look like, and what you’d love to see, and they do what they can to strike a balance between what you want and what their brand is. For my self pubbed stories, I have an artist I trust, and she works hard to give me what I want.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

My next release is the third book in the Riding Cowboy Flats series, Riding the Circuit. It’s out in June, and it’s brand new, not a reprint! Dreamspinner is putting it out, and also collecting all three stories into a print volume! Eeee!

Please note that Jackass Flats and Just a Cowboy are reprints. Riding the Circuit, the third book in the series due out in June, will be all new!

Blurb: 2nd Edition

Riding Cowboy Flats: Book Two

Can an old-fashioned cowboy and a young man on the run from his dark past find a future together?

Herschel is a simple rancher who believes everybody deserves a second chance, which is why he tends to hire underdogs—like Dalton, a young cowboy who needs all the support and TLC Herschel can offer.

Dalton doesn’t think anyone can forgive him for what he did, but Herschel seems willing to try. In fact, he might be the best thing that has ever happened to Dalton. He might even be the one to help Dalton trust in the future again. Just when he’s about to tell Herschel everything, all hell breaks loose. Herschel must help Dalton break free from everything that’s haunting him, or they’ll both end up alone.

First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2010.

About Julia Talbot

Stories that leave a mark. Julia Talbot loves romance across all the genders and genres, and loves to write about people working to see past the skin they’re in to love what lies beneath. Julia Talbot lives in the great mountain and high desert Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner and Changeling Press among many others. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. She also writes BDSM and erotic romance as Minerva Howe. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at http://www.juliatalbot.com “The mountains are calling, and I must go”

Author links:

www.juliatalbot.com

https://twitter.com/juliatalbot

https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

A VVivacious Review: Fierce by Rob Rosen

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Rating: 2.5 Stars out of 5
 
Lucas has superpowers or as he likes to call it, he is super. He was raised by wolves, is as hairy as one and is in love with his best friend Craig.  But as luck would have it Craig reciprocates Lucas’ love and also knows his super secret.
 
In the summer before senior year Craig and Lucas start a relationship and become a superhero duo that saves the world, but as they are superheroing the differences between Craig and Lucas become starkly apparent. Will things work out between these two or will this difference of opinions turn them into mortal enemies?
 
I am utterly confused as to whether I liked this book, loved it or barely tolerated it. As I read this book there were parts that I barely tolerated, some that I liked and some that I loved.
 
Let’s start with the things about this book I barely tolerated and the first among those things would be Craig. Early on in the book I mistakenly made the assumption that Craig and Lucas were end game and this made the fact that I didn’t like Craig all that more disquieting. I think quite a few people reading this book would make that assumption, I know I did, but I feel like this book should be read as an adventure that follows Lucas’ life story. Craig falls more in the evil genius than superhero category in this book and his backstory does make him the perfect foil for Lucas’ Fierce (Lucas’ superhero name). 
 
I personally didn’t find the beginning of this book interesting to the extent that if I wasn’t reviewing this book I would have probably quit reading it at this point but having said that I do realize that if I hadn’t continued reading I would have missed the best part of this book.
 
The best part of this book was the dilemma of being a superhero. Almost in all superhero stories the people closest to the superhero are benefitted even if they are in the wrong because well that’s how the story goes and the same thing happens in this one to an extent. But what I liked about this book was that it took that example and made Fierce/Lucas face the truth that even when you do the right thing it will turn out be the wrong thing for someone good, someone who doesn’t deserve the punishment for the justice you have meted out. I think the best part of this book was bringing into focus that superhero stories make the world black and white when the world is rarely so. I loved this book for that and I loved the confused, struggling with himself and his superhero identity version of Lucas.
 
I liked Lucas’ character quite a bit and I understood and fully sympathized with his fervour to find out about his birth parents. But from here on the plot feels a little repetitive, it seemed like all these people did was go to Granite peak and back and up again and back and so on and so forth. Also the resolution of the plot isn’t as cut and dry as I would have liked. I didn’t understand the idea behind the whole revenge plan that happens post Fierce’s rescue and after that the story is all muddled up.
 
For me none of the side characters, except Craig, stood out much. I liked Todd and Lucas and their relationship though I think it is time that someone tells Lucas that he does a very bad job of hiding his superpowers.
 
This book has its moments but you will have to take the good with the bad.
 
Cover Art by Rob Rosen. I liked the cover but why Lucas is wearing glasses on the cover is beyond me a tribute to Superman perhaps?
Sales Links:
Book Details:
ebook, 225 pages
Published March 25th 2017 by JMS Books LLC admin@jms-books.com
ISBN139781634863599
Edition LanguageEnglish

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

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

Available for Purchase at

Harmony Ink Press

📚

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

📚

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

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • What’s next for you as an author?

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

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

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

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

All You Need Is Love…blurb

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

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

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

Russell J. Sanders…bio

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

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

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

Media Contacts for Russell J. Sanders:

Author of…

   Thirteen Therapists (Featherweight Press)

   Special Effect (Harmony Ink Press)

   The Book of Ethan (Harmony Ink Press)

   Colors (Harmony Ink Press)

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

An Alisa Review: My Best Man by Linn Edwards

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

After a painful outing experience that was a defining moment for Ian, he left school early, earned his GED, and eventually moved on. But he never really lives in the open, as an out-and-proud gay man.

 

The morning after his sister’s wedding, Ian wakes up next to the best man at his sister’s wedding — Andrew. Though his new in-laws are “slightly homophobic,” Andrew is able and more than willing to keep Ian company … and more.

 

What surprises Ian even more is that Andrew is interested in more than just a one-night stand. Much more. Can a wedding night romance end up in a wedding of its own?

 

This was an adorable story.  Ian always puts others before his happiness and has spent years caring for others as a nurse practitioner.  Neither Ian nor Andrew have ever found someone that would be worth more than one night, but hope this could be their chance.

 

This story is told from both character’s points of view, so we can see the struggles they go through and how they are processing everything.  Andrew doesn’t want to push his sexuality on his best friend and his friend’s father, but doesn’t want to give up this chance at something more.  Ian struggles with the views and attitude he has received from his in-laws, but will do anything to help someone and make his sister happy.  These characters feel and instant connection, but are willing to put in the work to see if they can work in the long run.

 

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is nice and follows the story theme.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 80 pages

Published: March 4, 2017 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634863353

Edition Language: English