Yearly Archives: 2018

02Nov/18

The Rotten Rancher by Frank W. Butterfield

Frank W. Butterfield was recently a returning guest on WROTE. This prodigious writer has a new novel out, but to find out more about him and get links to all his works, check out Episode 187: My Gay Perry Mason

I rather like this engaging series, with lovable millionaire PI Nick Williams and his hunky sidekick, Carter. Set in the 1950’s, they battle prejudice and bigotry whilst people from all walks of life try to kill them. And despite this, they seem to maintain a surprisingly upbeat approach to life. Of course, money helps, which means Nick really doesn’t give a screw, but he’s a lovely, generous fellow for all that.

The sixteenth book in the series, The Rotten Rancher, reeks of 1950’s America. I was expecting cowboy boots and lariats, but it isn’t quite like that. I can almost smell the gasoline and leather of Nick and Carter’s massive and impractical soft-top as they cruise down Highway 1 to spend some time on the coast, in Nick’s father’s ultra-modern (for the time) cliff top home. You just know it won’t end well.

For a book with a twisty plot, I would have appreciated a bit less tell and and a bit more show. There’s lots of dialogue and some of it kind of gets in the way, causing me to backtrack to remind myself what just happened. That’s really my only niggle.

I can’t fault any of the characters. They were all drawn really well. For a book with a lot of characters, they all seemed relevant and all had a part to play. There was a good sense of atmosphere, sometimes really suspenseful, other times cringeworthy (when one of the characters was spouting their hate, I really wanted to slap them.) The story could also have worked well as a ghost story, and there was a bit of that at the end, which I found slightly confusing when it didn’t seem to go anywhere.

In the end, the book is popcorn entertainment with bite, not shying away from the serious issues of the time (and of now, sadly.) Yes, the plot and dialogue could have been tightened up, which would have given the action a bit more impact, but it was a fun read. Listen to Duayne Eddy when reading it to really get into the mood!

BLURB

Friday, November 11, 1955

It’s Veteran’s Day, and a gorgeous one at that. Parades of flying flags and grizzled old soldiers marching to the tunes of John Philip Souza are definitely in the works.

Meanwhile, Nick and Carter are heading south on Highway 1 for a relaxing week down in Big Sur, just south of beautiful Carmel-By-The-Sea. They’ll be staying at the home of one Dr. Parnell Williams, Nick’s father. It’s a modern sort of thing, made of wood and glass, and perched right on the cliff’s edge with dramatic views of the ocean and the incoming banks of fog.

But when the power goes out late at night and the newly-installed generator kicks on, it’s not long before Carter is dragging a bewildered Nick to the front door because, it turns out, someone intentionally disconnected the vent and the house quickly fills up with deadly carbon monoxide.

As they search for their would-be murderer, Nick and Carter quickly discover all sorts of secrets, hidden away among the verdant valleys and stands of Monterey pines. Secrets that go back twenty years, or more, and stories of wild times that would deeply shock the gawking tourists from Topeka and Des Moines, if they only knew.

Will Nick and Carter uncover the killer before he, or she, strikes again?

To find out, jump into the nearest convertible and follow the narrow, twisting highway that takes you through the land of towering, ancient redwoods and mountains that crash into the bright, blue ocean below.

It’s gonna be a wild ride!

19Oct/18

Siegmund Fuchs

October 19, 2018

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Siegmund Fuchs as the guest on Episode 186 – Why Don’t I Try Creating the World!!

Siegmund Fuchs joins us to talk about his play, In The Closet, why writing a play is different, why everyone should try it, and the reality of getting your work from page to stage.

Follow Siegmund and support their work:

Coming to Baltimore!!!

  • Third Wall Productions is producing the show in January 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. Their website: https://thirdwall.org/

Help Bring In The Closet to New York:

Reviews of In The Closet:

Bio:

Siegmund Fuchs is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but now lives in Washington, D.C. His first play, Never Turned Out To Be Four Months, premiered at John Carroll University in 1998. His second play, A Night Out At The Movies, was work-shopped in 2002. He has been practicing law for the last fifteen years and currently works as a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice. His latest play, In The Closet, completed in 2015, is his first script in over ten years. In The Closet won the Carol Weinberg Award for Best Play at the 2016 Baltimore Playwright’s Festival and was awarded first place at the 2016 Historic Elitch Theater New Works Festival in Denver, Colorado. It also placed as a finalist or semi-finalist in four other national competitions. It has been workshopped twice and had its world co-premiere at Convergence-Continuum in Cleveland, Ohio in 2017, and the Rainbow Theatre Project in Washington, D.C. in 2018.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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05Oct/18

A. M. Burns

October 5, 2018

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Andy Burns back as the guest on Episode 184 – A Lot of Grand Adventures!!

Andy Burns joins us to discuss The Arena (the second novel in his The Adventures of Horc series). We also discuss writing with multiple co-authors and juggling multiple pen names!

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Books Mentioned in This Episode:

Bio:

A.M. Burns has been writing since high school. He has recently decided to turn his hobby into something more. Crafting brilliant stories with vibrant characters, he brings life to some very interesting and unique worlds. He currently lives in the mountains of central Colorado where he enjoys hiking, horseback riding and hawking. He shares his life with numerous critters and a loving partner.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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August 7, 2015

It gives us great pleasure to announce A. M. Burns as the guest on episode 013: What’s in a Name?!

Join us as we talk with Andy about researching animals, managing pen names, and his upcoming novel The Kachina Job.

You can find Andy’s novels here:

Follow Andy on the web:

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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Or right here:

18Sep/18

Irresistible by Andrew J Peters

Andrew J Peters has very recently been a guest on our little show! To check out his work and listen to his interview, check out Episode 180: A Very Spoofy Rom-Com

This was a difficult one to review fairly. I decided to go in and start reading without checking the blurb first, liking the element of surprise. The cover is gorgeous and I was expecting a fairly standard romance, if I’m honest.

I liked Brendan, although he clearly has issues with falling in insta-love and not learning his lesson when it all goes horribly wrong. He’s a modest guy, still reeling from the latest romantic disaster, when his head is turned by a gorgeous blond antique seller in New York. It must be love!

From there, the cynics will be gnashing their teeth. Insta-love, a Big Misunderstanding caused by the iffy-est of circumstances. And then it gets really weird. Suddenly I’m reading about lecherous drug dealers and a military coup.

I can’t actually say more about the plot without giving it away. It’s a real mixed bag, with dilemmas that kept me turning the page to find out what on earth was going to happen next. There were also some sweet moments (Faraj!) And some frankly ludicrous ones. (If I was escaping kidnap from gun-wielding terrorists, I wouldn’t stop to give my rescuer a blow job, however cute he was.)

Because I hadn’t read the blurb, I didn’t realise this was a comedy of errors, so there were a few “wait, is he serious?” moments, before I decided to sit back, enjoy the ride and not take it too seriously. The problem with labelling a book “comedy” is that people will expect funnies, and what’s funny for some won’t be for others. I found the balance between serious and comedic a little bit lumpy in places. If a laugh is unexpected, that’s one thing. But when the reader can see the set up a mile off, knowing they’re expected to find the situation funny at the end, it loses something for me. This book shows why comedy is so hard to write.

But comedy is subjective, and what I find funny (the darker the better) isn’t going to be the same as someone else’s. The long-running theme of Cal being “irresistible” was pretty funny, as was some of the dialogue between him and his ardent suitors. I winced a bit at the racial and cultural stereotypes, but having thought about it, I’m wondering if that really was the whole point. No one is safe. And yes, I did pick up on the irony of the line, “You can’t just buy people. At least, not in America.” (Trump, anyone?)

Also, the book mocks the stereotypical MM Romance expectation on so many levels: insta-love, Everyone Is Gay! The bitchy mother-in-law, rich man/poor man dynamic. I could list quite a few of them.

So while the book didn’t quite work for me, I applaud the boldness of it, the big fat one-fingered tribute to those who like their tropes in narrow straight lines with no diversions, and the courage to throw the reader headlong into unexpected WTF situations. If I did a star system, I would award an extra star for the FUCK YOU element, especially one delivered with such a sweet, mischievous grin.

BLURB

Brendan Thackeray-Prentiss is an Ivy League-educated trust-funder who Gotham Magazine named the most eligible gay bachelor in New York City. He lives for finding his soulmate, but after walking in on his boyfriend of three transcendent months soaping up in the shower with an older female publicist, he’s on a steady diet of scotch, benzodiazepines, and compulsive yoga. Men are completely off the menu.

Callisthenes Panagopoulos has a problem most guys dream of. With the body and face of a European soccer heartthrob, the vigorous blond hair of a Mormon missionary, and a smile that makes traffic cops stuff their ticket books back in their utility belts, he’s irresistible to everyone. But being a constant guy-magnet comes with its discontents, like an ex-boyfriend who tried to drive his Smart car through Cal’s front door. It makes him wonder if he’s been cursed when it comes to love.

When Brendan and Cal meet, the attraction is meteoric, and they go from date to mates at the speed of time-lapse photography. But to stay together, they’ll have to overcome Cal’s jealous BFF, Romanian mobsters, hermit widowers, and a dictatorship on the brink of revolution during a dream wedding in the Greek isles that becomes a madcap odyssey.

A gay romantic comedy of errors based on Chariton’s Callirhoe, the world’s oldest extant romance novel.

 

 

14Sep/18

Matthew Bright

September 14, 2018

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Matthew Bright back as the guest on Episode 181 – Can’t Do Victorian Without a Bit of Sadism!!

Matthew Bright returns to talk about his new release Gents: Steamy Tales from the Age of Steam, the fact that the Victorian era wasn’t as prim as you think, and using historical settings for your writing.

Follow Matthew and support his work:

Books Mentioned in This Episode:

Bio:

Matthew Bright is a writer, editor and designer who is uncomfortable writing in the third person, but soldiers on regardless. His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of venues, including Tor.com, Nightmare’s Queers Destroy Fiction, Glittership, Harlot Magazine, Clockwork Iris, Queen Mob’s Teahouse and others. He is the co-author of Between The Lines, an experimental novella, with Christopher Black. He is also the editor of several anthologies, including The Myriad Carnival, Threesome: Him, Him and Me, Clockwork Cairo: Steampunk Tales of Egypt and forthcoming titles Gents and A Scandal in Gomorrah. With the release of Threesome, Publishers Weekly declared him ‘unambiguously…an editor to watch’, which is a quote he’s inclined to have printed on business cards and hand out to complete strangers on the street. By day, he pays the bills as a book cover designer in Manchester, England.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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July 29, 2016

It gives us great pleasure to announce Matthew Bright as the guest on episode 068: Get Together and Put Things In Certain Places!

Join us as we discuss his artistic journey as a writer, editor, and cover-design monkey (totally his words). We go into his triple-threat career, why erotica is as much an artform as other literature, and how Publisher’s Weekly’s review of Threesome caught him off guard!

You can buy Matthew’s work here:

Connect with Matthew on your favorite social site:

Bio:

Matthew Bright is a writer, editor and designer who is uncomfortable writing in the third person, but soldiers on regardless. His short fiction has appeared in a number of venues, including Nightmare’s Queers Destroy Fiction, and he is the co-author of Between The Lines, an experimental novella, with Christopher Black. He is also the editor of several anthologies, including The Myriad Carnival, Threesome: Him, Him and Me and forthcoming titles Gents and Clockwork Cairo. With the release of Threesome, Publishers Weekly declared him ‘unambigiously…an editor to watch’, which is a quote he’s inclined to have printed on business cards and hand out to complete strangers on the street. By day, he pays the bills as a book cover designer in Manchester, England, where he lives with his partner and a dog who likes to eat valuable hardbacks.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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Or right here:

29Aug/18

A Mage’s Power by Casey Wolfe


Casey Wolfe was a recent guest on our show. To find out more about them, check out Episode 135: Weird Stupid Kid Stuff

This book is a nice work of magical realism, where ancient meets modern, and spells abound in a city seething with magicae, werewolves and humans leading an uneasy co-existence.

I enjoyed this right off the bat. Rowan and Shaw were likeable characters with relatable issues. Shaw is a cop of sorts, working for the sinister-sounding Inquisition which keeps the peace amongst the co-existing races, and Rowan is a master mage who runs his own enchantment shop, together with a feisty stray cat. Rowan’s best friend is Caleb, a werewolf who is consistently bothered by the Inquisition so there is conflict between him and Shaw, whom he doesn’t trust.

The best parts of this story for me are the magical spells, beautifully written and described. There is a real sense of other-worldliness here, and great world-building in general, with the ancient city streets filled with dynamic young people wielding modern devices such as laptops and mobile phones. I liked that sense of familiarity in an unfamiliar environment. In fact, this book has made me want to explore the magical realism genre further.

The author wrote the three leads well, giving them distinct personalities and vibrant dialogue. I instantly sensed the connection between Rowan and Shaw, and Caleb’s incipient jealousy and mistrust. There were some good dynamics between them, and the dialogue was believable and fun at times.

The veering off into the woods for some icky violence was a surprise, but I didn’t mind it at all. Until then the story had begun to pootle along somewhat, so it was good to have a change of pace. As is so often with fantasy books, the ultimate goals do not immediately become clear, and I sometimes have a problem with that. There’s so much emphasis on world-building and character development, the story’s motivation can take third billing at times. I felt a bit like that here, but because the writing was entertaining, the characters engaging and the sections where Rowan casts his spells so gorgeously described, I was entranced. For me, this was a fun and accessible fantasy/magical realism novel that was very enjoyable to read.

BLURB

Built on the bones of an ancient city, modern-day Everstrand is where master mage, Rowan, has set up his enchantment shop. When not hanging out with his werewolf best friend, Caleb, or studying, he dabbles in herbology and the controversial practice of blood magic. A prodigy who has already earned two masters, Rowan’s bound and determined to reach the distinction of grandmaster, a mage who obtains a masters in all five Schools of Magic.

Shaw works for the Inquisition, the organization charged with policing the magical races collectively known as magicae. Recently, it has come under scrutiny as magicae begin to disappear and reports of violence increase. With secrets of his own on the line, Shaw is willing to risk everything to find out just what is going on behind all the locked doors.

When Rowan and Shaw are entangled in each other’s worlds, it becomes evident that their hearts are as much at risk as their lives. They must find the truth and stop a conspiracy before it’s too late.

24Aug/18

Sergio Hildago-Campos

August 24, 2018

It gives us great pleasure to welcome
Sergio Hildago-Campos as the guest on Episode 178 – Never Too Late
(Special Bilingual Edition)
English from 00:00 playback
Spanish from 11:00 time mark

Mexican Graphic Artist, Sergio Hildago-Campos, joins us to discuss his burgeoning portfolio, his views on cultural art, and the economics of producing art in a country that has a rich heritage and a unique form of expression.

Follow Sergio and support his work:

 

Movie Portfolio of Sergio’s Artwork (Available for commissions!)

 

Bio:

Sergio Hidalgo-Campos was born in October of 1987 in the small city of Morelos, Mexico. He has two brothers and one sister older. He’s lived in that area all his life. You could say it’s a small place, but it has a lot of history!

His career as an artist began only recently, deciding to start in this amazing world three years ago, uploading  and showing his works on Instagram. He’s taken drawing courses, additionally teaching himself by watching videos and reading books. Thanks to social networks he has sold his works both locally and in other countries.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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23Aug/18

Drumbeat by A M Leibowitz

As the blurb suggests, there are some issues here that need delicate handling. Psychological abuse and eating disorders are not plot devices suitable for bandying around in the usual MM romance fare. As one with personal experience, it’s one thing guaranteed to p**s me off faster than a pube on a toilet seat, so I was just waiting, tensing myself for the moment when it all began to slide downhill.

Thank goodness then, for the author’s sensitive and balanced handling of the tough issues, without being all earnest, lurid (or worst, inaccurate) about it. This is a wonderful story of two men, each with complicated lives which don’t conform to what is generally construed as “normal,” who gradually find their way to each other despite several false starts and well-meaning but ultimately clueless friends.

There’s a lot of diverse representation here, with two polyamorous relationships, Jamie is deaf, Trevor is a big man so not your usual heartthrob in an MM romance (unless it’s specifically aimed at bears.) There are people of colour and ex-drag queens, yet it didn’t feel “topic of the month.” The focus was always on the dynamic between Jamie, Cian and the people around them, with all the awkwardness, bickering, love and support complicated families deal with every day. The book felt real, especially with regard to Jamie’s issues. The plot device with Jamie’s ex sounded the only iffy note as it was concluded, but that was easily forgiven because of how the eating disorder was dealt with. Sadly, I know a lot about eating disorders, and everything Jamie suffers from sounds authentic. Kudos to the author for handling it so well.

And it has to be said, the book is also entertaining, a great read with real tension and not an obvious way through for Cian and Jamie to resolve their issues and differences. The secondary characters were warm as well, yet not too perfect. Trevor, the one unwittingly playing havoc with Jamie’s emotions, is so well-drawn. We all know a Trevor, be he straight or gay or anywhere in-between. The delicacies of navigating a poly relationship are interesting as well, for people (like me) who cannot see how it works. I finished the book well-informed and with eyes opened just a little more, which is always a good thing.

BLURB

Jamie Cosgrove is doing his best to recover from a break-up after years with an abusive boyfriend. All his usual coping strategies have failed, and he’s fallen back on things that make him feel safe: drumming, food, and his friend Trevor. The trouble is, two of those are still secrets, even from those closest to him.

Cian Toomey has it all. He has loving relationships with his partners and a fulfilling, creative career. The one thing he’s missing is someone to go home to at night. When sudden changes occur at one of his jobs, he’s faced with a choice to find something new or move in with his partners in a different city.

Well-meaning but pushy friends seem to think Cian and Jamie are the answers to each other’s prayers. They couldn’t disagree more. A series of random events thrusts them into each other’s lives, and they find they have more in common than they thought. But when all of Jamie’s carefully constructed walls crumble at once, both of them will have to depend on the support of their friends and family to strengthen their fragile bond.

23Aug/18

Worth the Wait by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Karelia Stetz-Waters was a recent guest on WROTE! To find out more about her and get links to her work, check out Episode 174: Rest Your Heart For A Little While!

This book was a new experience for me; my very first lesbian romance. I dove in with no expectations, other than hope it would be a good read.

The upshot is this. Avery is a successful TV presenter with a long-running show, working with her on-screen-only romance interest, Alistair, who is asexual. They are friends, and both have a lot to lose if Avery come out as lesbian. She’s harbouring a fifteen-year secret longing for the girl she was very friendly with at high school, so of course she does the sensible thing and goes to a reunion in the hope of seeing her again.

Merritt has also been nursing a broken heart for fifteen years, trying valiantly to forget Avery, and failing. She has a hardware shop in Portland, where the story is based, and her life is fine thank you until Avery turns up and basically throws her for a loop.

Cue clandestine meetings and a lot of angst. I’m not telling you how it turns out. That would spoil it.

This chunky book is so close to being a perfect love story for me, and yet I did struggle in places. It could have been more tightly edited to stop the slight meandering of dialogue and navel-gazing. It took a lot of words to keep the story, which was actually quite straightforward, on the right track. I’m sure it could have been a third shorter, and been an easier read for it.

I think my main problem is I have very little time for reality TV shows (which are anything but) and manipulating TV audiences for ratings, so there were times when I was thinking, “for God’s sake, why is this so difficult for them?” I think making it clearer how much Avery stood to lose would have helped nearer the start. Her work colleagues, including Alistair, weren’t very sympathetic, and she came across as a bit of a flake, so I didn’t empathise with her problem for a while. I was just wondering why she was still working with these arseholes.

Once I cottoned on though, I could see her dilemma, if not totally identify with it. People in the public eye don’t just have their own reputation to think about, but the careers of all the people around them. One false move can spell disaster, especially when the whole programme is built around the chemistry and romance between Avery and Alistair, and people are expecting them to conform to hetero norms. Fall in love, fall out of love, bond over soft furnishings, get engaged, get married, have a baby….

I have to ask this. Would people in real life be more resentful of the fact they had been sold a lie, rather than the fact that Avery is gay and Alistair is asexual? It’s a sticky subject. I would rather people lived their truth and I suppose that’s why I had a problem with the premise in the beginning. I know others wouldn’t.

However, the chemistry between Avery and Merritt was unmistakable, the sex lush and gorgeous, not gratuitous at all. There were some wonderfully-drawn side characters, especially Lei-Ling and Iliana, and love surrounding the two main characters. Portland sounds like a place I’d like to visit, and I’d definitely read more by this author.

Will they, won’t they? Do they, don’t they? Don’t ask me. Read it yourself. Believe me it’s Worth the Wait (sorry, couldn’t resist it!)

BLURB

For fifteen years, Avery Crown tried to forget her best friend Merritt Lessing. The late nights studying, the whispered confidences, and the little touches that never turned into something more. Unfortunately, her efforts have not been as successful as her TV career as the queen of home renovation. So when she runs into Merritt at their high school reunion, Avery asks for one night with the woman she’s always wanted . . .

Merritt spent high school pining after Avery, but never made a move-their friendship meant too much. The one time it seemed things might change, Avery chose her budding career. So Merritt did the same, throwing herself into her remodeling business. Now Avery’s back, and while Merritt still hasn’t forgiven her for walking away the first time, they can’t keep their hands off each other. But when their professional paths cross, and it seems like Avery is choosing her career once again, Merritt will have to decide if she’s willing to let go of the past and give herself a second chance with her first love.

 

10Aug/18

Todd Allen Smith

August 10, 2018

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Todd Allen Smith as the guest on Episode 176 – A Deep Wound You Don’t Feel At First!!

Todd Allen Smith joins us to discuss his memoir Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings where he recounts being shot twice and the death of a close friend in a gay bashing. He also shares his expertise on the rising gun violence and the dangers of violence against the LGBTQ community in the US.

Follow Todd and support his work:

Books mentioned in this episode:

Organizations Worth Your Time:

Bio:

Todd’s credentials include 20 years of experience as a writer.

He earned a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Kansas and has worked professionally as a reporter and editor for both newspapers and websites.

Having shared his viewpoints of the Kirkwood Missouri City Council shooting with the New York Times, Newsweek, MSN and local media outlets in St. Louis, he’s still sought out by national media for his viewpoints when it comes to mass shootings and violence (e.g., Ferguson).

In “Murder, Romance, and Three Shootings,” he shares for the first time the complete story of his survival and recovery from the robbery attempt in which he was shot in the leg, the Kirkwood shooting, and the gay bashing death of his close friend.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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Or right here: