Yearly Archives: 2018

08Jun/18

Social Media Central by Kevin Klehr

Kevin Klehr came to visit us on WROTE recently! To listen to his episode and find links to his work, check out Episode 163: A Good Femme Fatale!

Considering how relevant the role social media plays in our lives, I’m surprised I haven’t come across a book that deals with the phenomenon before now.

Social Media Central deals with one lonely man who doesn’t buy into the whole world-wide obsession and god-like status of media celebrities, but he gradually gets sucked into it after meeting Madeline Q, a fashion blogger, and her glamorous colleagues. The story is set fifty or so years in the future but frankly, we’re seeing elements of Klehr’s vision now. Klehr’s future world has no books, empty offices, most ordinary people shut in their own rooms to work, preferring to “mirror meal” (a chilling phrase if ever there was one) with friends instead of meeting them face to face. The exceptions were the glamorous ones, the media stars, the celebrities famous for being famous, who set the trends and tell people how to eat, what to wear etc. Again, not that different from now in many aspects.

Tayler is a lonely geek with a dim view of the whole on-line celebrity thing. I found it difficult to get to know him at first. There was a dispassionate tone to the dialogue which meant I didn’t feel I had full access to the Social Media world, but was looking at it through smeared triple-glazing. Having said that, Tayler was the easiest character to identify and sympathise with. I couldn’t get to the heart of who Madeline was, which was frustrating.

As the story progresses, the plot thickens when a girl’s body is found in a nightclub. No spoilers, but what follows is a lot of smoke and mirrors, some of which I didn’t get at all. Madeline isn’t who she seems, and her actions seem incomprehensible at first. The pace of the story was uneven in places, but I did find myself compelled to read to the end. Before that, I did struggle a bit, mainly because the characters (apart from Tayler) aren’t people I would choose to spend time with in real life.

I’ve since read some parts of the  book again, and have enjoyed it a lot more, although “enjoyed” might not be the right word. The world of Social Media Central is bleak, very well-crafted, and ultimately rather depressing, but with a whodunnit thrown in, and a dash of glamour, it does make for a compelling read, and I had definitely warmed towards the characters by the end.

One final note: A couple of reviews mentioned the “lack of LGBT content.” I disagree. The characters were diverse and fluid, without a lot of rainbow flag waving. It was subtly done, and a worthy addition to the mainstream as well as LGBT+ sci-fi genres.

BLURB

In an age where everyone lives their lives through a screen, no one has more celebrity status than fashion blogger, Madeline Q. In a chance meeting, Tayler, loner and geek, is introduced to her world of parties, fan worship, and seduction.

But as his own star rises, Madeline Q is arrested for murder. There’s just one problem—there is no corpse. Tayler soon learns that fiction blurs reality on Social Media Central.

01Jun/18

Gabriel Lyons

June 1, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Gabriel Lyons as the guest on Episode 166 – Drooling Just Thinking About It!!

This week Gabriel Lyons shares his novel Ice on Fire. He also talks about leaving his day job, fiction and queer identity, and how writing as therapy has helped face an attack in his past.

Be advised this episode does briefly mention rape.

Follow Gabriel and support his work:

Bio:

While daylighting as office manager for the family auto repair business, G.R. Lyons can often be found working on one of multiple manuscripts or desperately trying to keep up with the TBR pile.

Anarcho-capitalist, quietly ‘out’ trans guy, former belly dancer, coffee guzzler, highly-sensitive introvert, CrossFit enthusiast, and lover of m/m romantic fiction.

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

13May/18

Read by Strangers: Stories by Philip Dean Walker

We had the pleasure of interviewing Philip Dean Walker back in November 2016. To listen to his episode and get links to his work, check out Episode 084: Bars Are Where Our History Happened!

I was very much looking forward to this next collection of stories from Philip Dean Walker, after enjoying the superb At Danceteria and other Stories. Whilst that book concentrated on definitive moments in our history, and real people, this anthology has a mixed bag of stories and characters plucked from Walker’s imagination.

And what an imagination it is, from the woman who endangers her baby whilst engaging in an illicit affair to the man whose fantasies take a very dark turn. Despite the lurking horror, there is a playfulness to the writing, a chance for Walker to play with different styles from lilting to staccato, poetic to erotic. Perhaps because the stories were written over a few years, some being published elsewhere before now, the mix of styles could seem a little disjointed, although I enjoyed the unpredictability of it. In all cases though, the quality was outstanding.

Here we have a writer not afraid to experiment. A Cup of Fur was distinctly odd, and took it’s sweet time to get to the point. In various cases, there doesn’t seem to be a point per se. Each piece seems to be a cold, hard look at the human condition, and what some people are capable of.

I enjoyed the sense of experimentation, of testing himself with the viewpoints of people of various genders and sexuality. There is no doubt this is a literary collection, yet balancing the gravitas with a sense of mischievousness to stop the stories becoming dry and worthy. There is no consistency with the length of stories, so each one is a surprise.

Standouts for me were Unicorn, where lads trespassing in an abandoned house learn more about a family tragedy, A Goddess Lying Breathless In Carnage, beautiful and sinister, And Three-Sink Sink. I still don’t understand the title but the writing was pure, savage and totally compelling.

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Read by Strangers is a collection of sixteen stories exploring the complexities of the human experience. From weary men seeking a ride back from a club but find themselves trapped to a woman addicted to a virtual reality game who is neglecting her child to a man whose fantasies about of his neighbor’s wife have begun to take over his life, the characters in each of these stories are enveloped in their commitment to their own personal desires. 

04May/18

Charlotte Reagan

May 4, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Charlotte Reagan as the guest on Episode 162 – The Sacred Cow!!

This week Charlotte Reagan joins us to talk about her sweet novel Just Juliet and her slightly darker novel Loving Lakyn. We also talk about Young Adult (YA) versus New Adult (NA), what’s on our bookshelves, and Charlotte drops some awesome recommendations!!

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Bio:

Charlotte Reagan was born, raised, and currently resides in a small town in Texas with her cat. She’s been writing pretty much all her life, even when she was too young to know how to put her stories down on paper. Once she started she couldn’t seem to stop! She still has boxes of old notebooks filled with ideas and plots that she never finished. She writes young adult romances focusing primarily on the LGBT+ community. Charlotte crafts lighthearted stories that bring about hope, laughter, and maybe even a few tears. She can usually be found with her laptop or off traveling somewhere!

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

27Apr/18

Kaelan Rhywiol

April 27, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Kaelan Rhywiol as the guest on Episode 161 – The Vale Between Worlds!!

This week Kaelan Rhywiol joins us to discuss xyr upcoming novel, Bloodbound, which features own voices demisexuality, non-binary, mixed-race rep, touch aversion, gray aromanticism, kink, and bi/pansexuality. We discuss the need for all types of representation in literature as well as get some information Kaelan’s editor-mind would like to share with authors!!

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Bio:

Kaelan Rhywiol was born and raised in the Adirondack mountains of Upstate NY, US. Xie currently lives in Southern Ontario, Canada with xyr husband of 19 years, their two kids, three cats and a grumpy chinchilla. Xie is not currently represented by an agent, and while not actively searching for one, if the right one offered would consider it. Xie is published through Multifarious Press, a small, independent press devoted to diversity. Xie has a paranormal romance upcoming from NineStar Press in early summer 2018 featuring own voices demisexuality, non-binary, mixed-race rep, touch aversion, gray aromanticism, kink, and bi/pansexuality.

Xie is the author of YAHUI’S SUSPENSION, SERVING THE DRAKON, NERA’S NEED, ANNA’S CHOICE, A DANCER’S HOPE, A HARSHER KISS, MOTHMEN, ILAVANI vol 1-5. As well as the upcoming title BLOODBOUND from NineStar Press.

Xie works as a freelance editor for small, independent presses and private clients. Xie does inexpensive cover art for independent authors and is an authenticity reader for autism, rape survival, mixed-race rep, polyamory, kink, chronic pain, and mental illness (anxiety, depression).

Xie owns KaelanRhywiol.com and Multifariouspress.com

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

17Apr/18

Seven-Sided Spy by Hannah Carmack

 

We recently had the pleasure of Hannah Carmack’s company at WROTE. To listen to her episode, check out Episode 150: I Guess What Changed Was Me!

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, the story is told by seven different characters, who all have code names and mutations, giving you at least fourteen names to remember. If you liked the multi-character aspect of Game of Thrones, this book’s multiple points of view and complex, espionage plot is for you.

Most of the story takes place in the dense backwaters of North Carolina, which means that the Cold War element of the story is primarily told, rather than shown. I struggled to find a sense of history. Unless I had been informed that the book was set in this time period, I may well have not picked it up.

Having said that, the writing was intelligent and the dialogue sparky and crafted well. I sensed a real affection between the author and her characters, as well as a sense that she knew what was happening, even if I hadn’t pieced everything together yet.

Because of the back and forth styling, the switch between POV’s and the numerous changes of name, I struggled to engage with a character. I appreciate that others will love this challenge, and for a first novel, it is a wonderfully ambitious mix of spy novel and science fiction.

Finally, I do love the cover. It certainly captures the myriad of characters, some stronger than others, and the kaleidoscopic nature of the work.

__________________________________________

BLURB

In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.

But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.

13Apr/18

Lee James

April 13, 2018

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It gives us great pleasure to welcome Lee James back as the guest on Episode 159 – I Don’t Need to Draw You a Picture!!

This week Lee James returns to talk with us about his new novel Threads, and about searching for a mainstream publisher after life among the boutique publishers, including children as characters, and world building when your work isn’t romance driven!!

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Bio:

Lee James was born and reared on his family’s Indiana farm. At the age of twelve, he walked past an outdoor convention of the KKK – all members in full white-sheet drag. (Never mind he’d been told to stay the hell away from that park.) When one of the Klan members eyes met Lee’s, he began to understand bigotry, intolerance and hatred. He attended a Western university, where he majored in the humanities and political science, then studied law.

He’s worked for and in civil rights bills and laws for thirty-five years, in both the public and private sectors – his brush with the Klan left a lifelong impression. He moonlights as a writer of crime noir mystery-thrillers.

Lee enjoys classic rock, blues, jazz, and WW II swing. His hobbies include reading and rose gardening; activities done simultaneously thanks to an iPod and audiobooks. Unless provoked, he avoids discussing politics with anyone driven over the edge by ultraconservative network news.

Lee resides in a Minneapolis burb with his spouse of thirty-eight years, and two huge but mellow Maine Coon cats.

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


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December 24, 2015

It gives us great pleasure to announce Lee James as the guest on Episodes 035: Errors and Revisions, parts 1 and 2.
Join us as we talk with Lee about his journey crafting Crime Noir novels, how one bad review can change everything, Amazon and audio books, and working with editors and publishers.
You can find Lee’s novels here:

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

30Mar/18

Jeff McKown

March 23, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Jeff McKown as the guest on Episode 157 – The Opposite of What I Intended!!

This week Jeff McKown joins us to talk about writing his first novel, Solid Ground, the line between fiction and autobiography, and living the writing life!!

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Bio:

Jeff McKown writes fiction. In his work, he is especially fond of exploring tragic flaws, unfortunate circumstances, and the small moments that matter. In life, he obsesses over tennis, politics, and whiskey, not necessarily in that order. He endeavors to be a better Buddhist — which hasn’t always worked out that well. He lives near Monterey, CA with his partner Paul and their best friend, Kyle. Solid Ground is his first novel.

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

29Mar/18

Closer by F.E. Feeley Jr.

Listen to F.E. Feeley Jr’s latest interview on Episode 155: A Fun Return to the Dark Side!

This book had a lot to live up to. After the sublime When Heaven Strikes, I put a lot of (rather unfair) expectations on this book. The author’s writing skill and storytelling ability isn’t in doubt, but would I feel the same about Closer as I did about Heaven?

The truth is, they cannot be compared, because they are intrinsically different. Yes, there is a new relationship at the heart of the novel, when Hayden moves into his new lakeside house and meets the gorgeous, straight-seeming Tommy, but then the mystery begins. At first, I thought it would be a straight-up ghost story, but the horrors begin to build, and Maplewood, the eponymous small town on a lake, is the centre of some very disturbing activity.

The action and tension builds very nicely. Tommy seems devoid of the angst that straight people can have when faced with unfamiliar feelings for a member of their own sex. It makes a refreshing change and as a result, doesn’t get in the way of the main story. The good people and bad people are established quickly and don’t really change. In the best tradition of horror novels, you kind of know who is going to get offed, yet there definitely some I didn’t expect. I liked the way the characters were drawn, reminiscent of Dean Koontz. (It’s a compliment. I LIKE Dean Koontz’s work. It seems more accessible and human than some of Stephen King’s…) There is a touch of religion without pulpit posturing, some vivid imagery, and an exciting denouement, leading on to another book whilst nicely rounding off this one. The author likes to leave things tidy, and so he does, with very satisfactory results.

The two leads were very personable and believable. Hayden’s grief over losing his partner was raw and handled brilliantly. Tommy’s love for Hayden, being devoid of the gay-for-you angst I mentioned earlier, was very touching without being sugar-sweet. Yes, a leap of believability was needed at the end in regards to both Hayden and Tommy’s incipient powers (no spoilers,) but I was beguiled by the author’s storytelling. If the reader goes with it, they will be well-rewarded.

Finally, there is an alluring ‘To be continued…’ at the end, but this book can easily be read as a standalone. However, this couple are shaping up to be an interesting team, and I’m curious to know what else the author has in store for them!

BLURB

Maplewood, Vermont is a picturesque town filled with unique shops, unique homes, and a quaint familiarity all centered around a lake with an unusual history.

Legends, old as well as Urban, float around like the mist that hovers above the lake at break of dawn.

But they’re just stories, right?

Hayden Moore’s life was destroyed when his husband, Malcolm, was murdered. Giving up his job as an assistant district attorney in Boston, Hayden moved to the little burg of Maplewood to recover.

A new life.

A fresh start.

However, something underneath the water is stirring. Something rotten. A deadly secret wakes underneath the black waters of Lake Veronica so disturbing it haunts the nightmares of the local residents.

It’s coming closer…

23Mar/18

Debbie McGowan

March 23, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Debbie McGowan as the guest on Episode 156: Connoisseur Sounds Much More Classy Than Fanatic!!

This week Debbie McGowan joins us to talk about her experience as an author on the submission treadmill and how those experiences led to her founding Beaten Track Publishing to provide assisted independent publishing for authors!!

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Bio:

Debbie McGowan is an award-winning author of contemporary fiction that celebrates life, love and relationships in all their diversity. Since the publication in 2004 of her debut novel, Champagne – based on a stage show co-written and co-produced with her husband – she has published a further thirty-five works (twenty novels, fifteen short stories and novellas). She is the author of two ongoing series: Hiding Behind The Couch (a literary ‘soap opera’ centering on the lives of nine long-term friends) and Checking Him Out (LGBTQ romance). Debbie has been a finalist in both the Rainbow Awards and the Bisexual Book Awards, and in 2016, she won the Lambda Literary Award (Lammy) for her novel, When Skies Have Fallen: a British historical romance spanning twenty-three years, from the end of WWII to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. Through her independent publishing company, Debbie gives voice to other authors whose work would be deemed unprofitable by mainstream publishing houses.

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