My friends and I are readers. We enjoy books for the stories and the emotional draw, for the characters and their situations. We don't dig for editor's mistakes. We won't trash your book for missing punctuation or slightly misused grammar. We just want to enjoy the story. And we want all our friends to know just how awesome independent authors can be. This is the place where the little guy will always shine like a star!

Without further ado, please say hello to....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Johnny Miles


Book Title: Learning to Samba
Genre: LGBT Romance
Publisher: Loose Id
Links to purchase:
3. Amazon

Blurb: After traveling through Europe trying to recover from a loss, reclusive romance novelist Brian Oliver returns to his childhood home in order to find himself and re-establish a severed relationship with his sister. What he unexpectedly discovers, however, is that even an old dog like him can still learn new tricks. Especially if the one teaching is João da Silva, a 25-year-old Brazilian hot-ass with a major thing for Daddies.

Brian soon realizes that with forgiveness and acceptance comes great emotional freedom if he and João can rekindle the deep and burning lust for life he’d once had. Do love, sex, and passion have an expiration date, or can Brian Learn to Samba?


Review:
Reviewer: Allison

Out of all the books I’ve read lately, Learning to Samba was one of my favorites. At the beginning, we’re presented with Brian who wasn’t completely over losing his partner to cancer. He wasn’t tragic and mopey, but he clearly still missed him. He returns to his hometown and immediately we meet his sister, which feels like it might be an awkward reunion, but it really isn’t. Then João appears and trust me when I say the story turns swoon-worthy immediately.

The thing I loved about this book was it pulled me in so completely I felt like I was experiencing falling in love for the first time again. I was there with them, walking, laughing, having a beer and I experienced everything Brian felt as if they were my own feelings. I explored the city with them and had all the risqué fun. I lived in their world and I fell in love just like they did. Mr. Miles really captured the beauty of budding romance and he took me through an entire range of emotions throughout this book. It’s one I’ve found myself going back and re-reading, and I’ll probably do it again (which is a major wow for me. I don't even go back and read the big boys a second time.) 

I highly recommend Learning To Samba and I highly recommend adding Johnny Miles to your list of favorite authors. I can assure you, he won't disappoint you.


Interview:

  1. Tell us a little bit about how Learning To Samba came to life. What inspired the story?
That's actually a funny story. A Facebook friend puts up photos from time to time in an attempt to inspire writers. I think she calls them plot bunnies. I've never seen one that worked for me except for this one time. The guy in the picture was, supposedly, a Brazilian. As I remember, there were a lot of shadows, a hot naked guy with a seductive smile and curtains billowing behind him. The imagery, and all the nuances that came with it just wouldn't let go of me. Which I guess was the point. However, it was an extremely difficult story for me to write because it deals with the loss of a loved one. Imagining life without my partner of 16 years was devastating.

  1. Who is your favorite character and what makes them so memorable to you?
Oh, I like them all! Brian, of course, because he's the protagonist and, in a way, there's a lot of me in him. João, of course, because I love me a Brazilian man. But I also liked writing the sister and her kids.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you decide to write?
About myself? I'm just an ordinary guy with sometimes unusual taste. Done a lot of stuff, some of which I'm not too proud of but, hey, we all make mistakes and they make us who we are. As for what made me decide to write, that's something I've wanted since I was a kid. I just never got very serious about it until I got laid off from my annoying customer service job three and a half years ago. Oh, I'd written before. I'd even tried to get things published but the only things that saw the light of day were my porn stories. After a while you want to do something different. Something that means something to others, you know? I was ready to give it all up when I met Treva Harte. Between her and Bobbie Michaels, they encouraged me to write something in the m/m genre. And now, here it is close to four years after meeting them. Sadly Bobbie is no longer with us but it's been a fun ride with Treva's help and guidance.

  1. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Be malleable. Be willing to compromise. Don't expect every word you put down on paper is gospel, brilliant, or memorable. Read. A LOT. Edit yourself as if you hadn't written the story. Ask yourself, does this move the story forward? Does it illuminate a moment in the book, or a character and their traits, or even why they do the things they do?

Other than that I'd have to say, don't quit your day job...YET.

Writing is extremely difficult. The editing process is even harder still. We don't become overnight sensations with one book and, regardless of how much we want it, we can't live off our royalties right away.

Even more important is to write what you really feel in your heart. This isn't about the money. It's about needing to tell a story because not doing so is not acceptable.

  1. Where is the best place to follow your work?
Probably my blog or my website. I don't update either of them as frequently as I should but I'm going to start working on that.

  1. Any additional comments?
I've no additional comments but I'd like to say thank you, Allison. I'm honored that you've asked me on your blog and I'm so delighted that you enjoyed Learning To Samba! All of my stories are special to me for different reasons but Samba, that's got a really big place in my heart.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Duncan McGonall


Book Title: Bread of Fools
Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Smashwords
Links to purchase:
2. Amazon

Blurb: There are eleven keys that control the Incarnation cycle. A new Incarnation cycle will not happen without the Keys. Some of them are missing. The Keys establish Mana, and bring to order Flux, the force in all things, the blood and breath of the Universe and the Arcanon control them - or they did until Tolen refused his seat, and Bruce is caught in the middle.

Review:  
Reviewer: Jamie

I am a huge fan of YA novels, so I was very much looking forward to getting ahold of something new. Bread of Fools is unlike others in its genre with a fresh premise and characters who are conflicted, confused and real.
The confusion of the main character, Bruce, is portrayed well, as a reader you will be able to sympathize with him as he struggles through the story. The best thing about the characters is that many of them are not good or bad but like most of us, they are a bit of both. I found it just as easy to empathize with the “bad guys” as it was to feel for Bruce and Zoey.
This story takes place in different dimensions, which at first was a bit confusing, but as the story unfolds and you learn more about the world around the characters the flow becomes easier. The action scenes and the dialog was spirited, and the abundance of secrets will keep you guessing. All in all, I’m looking forward to reading what happens next this tale and seeing as how the book ended on a cliffhanger I can only hope that Duncan McGonall continue Bruce’s story.


Interview:

1.      Tell us a little bit about how (Title) came to life. What inspired the story?

Bread of Fools came to be pulling several threads of a tapestry left hanging and undone for quite some time. I’m not certain how wise it is to elaborate on the fine details, but the work came to be from an ardent desire to produce an honest piece of fiction--one that reflected the realities of a lifestyle of secrets and power and the quest for both.

2.      Who is your favorite character and what makes them so memorable to you?

I think perhaps my personal favorite is Maramore. He’s dark and mysterious, does whatever he does for his own reasons, and knows things no one else knows in the story. He is the sole possessor of the “big picture.” Yet his focus on the big picture ignores many times the details that comprise it. Among other things Maramore offers a shift in focus by contrast.

3.      Tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you decide to write.

That is a very interesting question that I suppose is of interest to many prospective readers and authors, alike. It seems I have always had the “knack.” I have had my share of life experience. But only in the past few years through a process of personal growth and evolution and with the love and nurture of my wife, have I been serious about publishing. When you write, it’s like your soul bleeds into the words, that effort to capture “this-ness” is so pressing. Before I found my Sharon, I was never willing to bleed like that for anyone. I knew going in, that any real gain to be had outside the joy of the process itself was going to be gained in the long term and would require a continual exposure by parts and degrees of pieces of my inner self. I’m just very lucky to have found the One in this life that I love more than life itself. 

4.      Any advice for aspiring authors?

Read good books. Read classic literature. Read work that inspires thoughts you may never stumble upon on your own. Write and if you think it sucks, write MOAR. Write till you’re really sick of yourself, then burn it or throw it in the river and start again if you don’t like it. Whatever the outcome, hold it loosely--whether it’s a masterpiece or a flop don’t hold onto it too tightly: move on.

5.      Where is the best place to follow your work?

At the moment the best place to stay on the cutting edge is Facebook, and after what I have seen of the power of word of mouth, it may always be the place to keep up with my work. The jury is still out. http://www.facebook.com/DuncanMcGonall


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Havan Fellows

Book Title: Emery's Ritches – Book two of Synchronous Seductions
Genre: M/M erotic romance
Publisher: Breathless Press
Links to purchase: 
2. Amazon
Blurb: Ritchie won't admit that he's heartbroken. Emery won't accept less than all of Ritchie's affection. How will meticulous Emery win snarky Ritchie for his own?

Ritchie Lymings is wallowing in self-pity after seeing the man he loves—his best friend—reunited with his arch enemy. He's drowning his sorrows in coffee and caramel when an irritating stranger barges into his life, determined to make him smile. Even if this interloper is too dense to understand his faux pas, Ritchie figures he may be good for a quickie to get his mind off of his immediate situation. A simple round of love 'em and leave 'em sounds promising.

Emery Hutchins recognizes Ritchie immediately when he stops for his morning coffee and breakfast. His friend Ryder had been telling him stories about "the infuriating twit" for years. Fate and coincidence were two things that normally gave Emery cause for pause, but he couldn't let this opportunity pass him by. Unable to relinquish control to fate though, he immediately devises a plan to make the deliciously snarky Ritchie his own, one hundred percent completely.

But for these two diverse personalities there is one major problem. How can Ritchie's attitude and Emery's meticulousness blend together, or is this an oil and water mess?


Review:
Reviewer: Allison

I’m no stranger to Havan’s work and I must say, thus far, I haven’t been disappointed one bit. One thing I’ve loved most about Havan’s stories is the confident, cocky lead man who always thinks he has everything figured out and as far as everyone else is concerned, he does. But not everything is as perfect as he thinks. Emery is no different in that case. I love his arrogance. I love his voice. And most of all, I love how he realizes maybe he doesn’t know everything. Ritch is also a very strong character. His range of emotions feels so real and I certainly can relate to them.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the tug-of-war of their relationship is perfectly articulated in a fine choice of words that also brings a sense of humor to a very intense situation. And the sex, oh my god! I can see people who skim over the sex scenes reading through these. Havan does one of the things I love. The normal monotony of pumping and heavy breathing is broken up by well-placed internal conflict that doesn’t distract from the scene.

So I guess it goes without saying, I LOVED the book. LOVED! LOVED! LOVED! It was a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon in bed. I can honestly say Emery and Ritch… and even Geoff (who was a small but well-written character) will stick with me, and that’s what I love in books. For fans of M/M, I DEFINITELY recommend "Emery's Ritches."

Interview:

  1. Tell us a little bit about how Emery's Ritches came to life. What inspired the story?
I am a member of the StoryOrgy (a writing group that posts free reads every Monday)...and my first ever blog story was Harlan's Ryde. When I was planning on writing the very last post for that story—all proud like that I actually finished it *face palm* this annoying twit Ritchie popped up in my blog post. He happened to be Harlan's best friend (surprised me—I didn't even know that) and he demanded to take center stage on what happened to not be the last blog post for that story. No matter how much he irked me, he was a loyal best friend who put his love for Harlan aside so Harlan could have his HEA...I knew I had to give Ritchie his own story and his own HEA...but darned if I wasn't going to make him work for it...enter Emery...*giggles evilly*

  1. Who is your favorite character and what makes them so memorable to you?
Oh wow...are they going to be reading this? Because you know—they give me a hard enough time in my head...I don't want to upset them *face palm* I would have to say Shan is the funnest...and he talks the loudest...and uses his Djinn powers against the others in my mind...wait a second—he's not that much fun for me come to think of it...

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you decide to write.
I've always wanted to entertain people...I used to put on impromptu 'concerts' around the pool when I was a child and make up stories when I was older about the weirdest things I would see. If I can take people out of their everyday lives even for just a few minutes and enjoy a world I put out there for them...wow—that is something special. *big grins*

  1. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Friends. A lot of friends...and if they happen to be excellent authors that you can bounce ideas off of, rant to when your characters are misbehaving, question when edits are tearing you up and just lean on when it all becomes too much at the moment—then count yourself extremely lucky. Hello...I'm extremely lucky...

  1. Where is the best place to follow your work?
You can find me on my blog Havan's Heavenly Haven...plus I hang on the Story Orgy blog or our Facebook page.

  1. Any additional comments?
Thank you so much for having me Allison *giggles* I love saying that...hehe Also, even though Emery's Ritches is book two in the series is can be read as a standalone book. *waves and blows kisses*

Friday, May 11, 2012

J.D. Yeiser

Book Title: Body in the Barrel
Genre: Mystery (Cosy mystery)
Publisher: XOXOPublishing
Links to purchase:
1. http://www.xoxopublishing.com
2. Amazon


Blurb: Harlan and Gloria Stone have played amateur sleuths for years. Using resources available at home, they try to beat the officials to a solution and they have, so far, always beat them. Now on one of their frequent RV excursions, they stumble across a new mystery, a body in a whiskey barrel, a barrel that sat in a warehouse for more than twenty years. Gloria, applying her well developed sleuthing skills, identifies the victim the same day she is discovered in the barrel. From that point, Gloria and Harlan continue to uncover information well ahead of the officials. They come to the attention of the authorities and to the sinister characters who are still around more than twenty years after the deed. Cooperating with the one group and avoiding the other group, they push the mystery to a complete resolution.


Review:
Reviewer: Libby

This book opens with a bang and keeps the pace up right through to the end. The descriptions are crisp and clear, the dialogue is perfect, and the knowledge behind the workings of different aspects in the novel make it a wonderful, pleasing read.

Having grown up near the area of the country the book is centered in and having traveled there countless times, I have to say Jim Yeiser does a wonderful job of describing the area. He also does a phenomenal job of describing the ins and outs of RVing as well as whiskey making without making either into a school lesson or overly intricate. Just enough information to catch the attention and inform the reader so everything falls into place and makes sense. All in all Jim just does a wonderful job telling this story. All of the characters are top notch, from the sinister, to the sad, to the inquisitive couple that starts the ball rolling on eventually convicting the murderer.

Anyone who loves murder, mystery, and sleuthing needs to pick up a copy of this book today. You will not be disappointed. The book is impossible to put down once it has been started. It left me absolutely desperate to read about the past adventures Harlan and Gloria had that were alluded to in the book.


Interview:

1.       Tell us a little bit about how Body in the Barrel came to life. What inspired the story?

The two main characters, Harlan and Gloria, are inspired by my brother and his wife; they are RVers. The idea of casting them in a story arose in email conversations with them and my two sisters. I can recall the email I wrote saying, “If I were writing it, it would sound something like this.” The first few paragraphs hooked me, and Body in the Barrel is the second story about them. Setting the story in Kentucky was a response to the advice to all authors – write what you know.

2.       Who is your favorite character and what makes them so memorable to you?

I am drawn to Cooper – Harley Wayne Dowdell. He's a quiet and seemingly uncomplicated man. He is perceptive, considerate and moral. I try to picture how his life would have turned out without the burden of knowing what he had done.

3.       Tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you decide to write.

High school drama and debate pulled me in completely. I completed my degree in theater and landed my first 'real' job in public relations. There and in subsequent marketing jobs, I wrote – reports, films, presentations, speeches, releases, feature articles. In college, I wrote a one act play that was staged there and later in at least two other theaters. I wrote a children's story which was illustrated and then published. When I started the Harlan and Gloria stories, I was no longer in the corporate world full time. I was able to clear major chunks of time and head space to devote to writing.

4.       Any advice for aspiring authors?

Writing is, for me, a solo activity. Editing, publishing and marketing are not. Even with a long career in marketing, I need all the help I can possibly get to market my work. So, my advice – get help, as much as you can find. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Susan Swann


Book Title: “Strings Attached” from the Dangerous Curves Anthology
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Short Story
Publisher: Ravenous Romance
Links to purchase:
1. Amazon

Blurb: Luscious cleavage, hips a lover can hold onto - these are only part of the wondrous qualities of the heroines in this varied and fiery anthology.

With stories from Courtney Sheets, Catherine Paulssen, Clarice Clique, Lucy Felthouse, Angel Propps, Maggie Morton, Anna Fondant, Susan Swann, and Rachel Kenley, there is something for everyone whether it is newly discovered passion, the deepening of an existing relationship, or some intense f/f action!

There is nothing hotter than a woman who knows the power of her own sexuality - and uses it for her pleasure and that of her partner!


Review:
Reviewer: Allison

Now, I’ve been following Susan in one fashion or another for a while now, and I’m more used to the paranormal, M/M stories she writes. And while the writing is still the same high-quality flourish of vibrant (or in some cases dark) descriptive words, this story wasn’t like anything I’ve read from her before. It’s literally a bodice-ripper with a Harlequin-esque feel to it.

The main thing I loved about it was Nora being a rather confident, though innocently shy, curvy girl. She had enough pride in her body to let a devastatingly handsome man do very sensual things to her in a very taboo place. And in the end, I was very pleased to see the hero not leave her high and dry (or wet, as the story turns out.)

The flow of the story was absolutely eloquent and I must say the author didn’t disappoint me one bit. I was immersed in her story even though this type of thing isn’t something I would’ve picked up on my own. I am however, very happy I did and I would definitely recommend it as a short, feel-good read for anyone looking for a quick escape.  

Interview:

  1. Tell us a little bit about how “Strings Attached” came to life. What inspired the story?
Serendipity, as much as anything. I happened across a call for manuscripts for a BBW (Big Beautiful Women) anthology at about the same time as I was playing with some ideas for erotica set in Minnesota. Sexy things DO happen even in the Frozen North… And the Klondike Kate competition is a real part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, and it’s a perfect fit for a BBW theme.

  1. Who is your favorite character and what makes them so memorable to you?
I’d have to say Ruaraidh Collins. You won’t be meeting him for a while yet, because his book, Firestorm, is the fourth in my Soulshares series, and I’ve only just this week found out that Ravenous Romance wants the first in the series, Hard as Stone. But yeah, Ruaraidh. He’s a changeling, brought from the Fae realm as an infant and raised by an IRA Volunteer and his wife. A devoutly Catholic bisexual Fae who also happens to be royalty in his own world. Oh, and more or less a fire elemental. What’s not to love?.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you decide to write.
I think I decided to write in kind of the same way I decided to breathe. My mother recently found what was probably the first short story I ever wrote, when I was six years old, all about a suitcase that didn’t want to have stuff packed in it, so it ran away from home, and then discovered that it couldn’t really be happy until it was doing what it was meant to do. Kind of the same reason I write. Right after college, I put my newly-minted creative writing degree to work and submitted a short story to an anthology being put together by a writer I worshipped. Unfortunately, I got back a rejection letter that was not only cruel, but also very personal, asking me why in the world someone who wrote like I did would even want to consider herself a writer. I figured it was a good question, so it was almost 30 years before I ventured back into the world of print publication, when I submitted “Strings Attached.” But now I do consider myself a writer. Something in me has fundamentally changed in this last year. And I love it!

  1. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Well, first, don’t listen to unnecessarily personal critiques, even if they ARE from authors you idolize. And second, write what you genuinely love. You might not have the highest output in the world, but your love for what you do will shine through every word you write.

  1. Where is the best place to follow your work?
I’d love to recommend my blog, except that I’m completely technologically inept and I think I’ve forgotten my password to update it. (Maybe I need to talk to my teenaged son about that…) But I do keep up my Author page on Facebook, and you can always find the latest there -- http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rory-Ni-Coileain/113709865406852?bookmark_t=page

  1. Any other comments?
Thank you for having me! – and now, if you’ll excuse me, a Lamia is tapping me on the shoulder and giving me a very impatient look…