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.

 

17Aug/18

Chris Bedell

August 17, 2018

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Chris Bedell as the guest on Episode 177 – I Know How to Tease A Little Bit!!

Chris Bedell joins us to discuss his upcoming release In the Name of Magic – a Y/A dystopian fantasy set in an earth-like 1920s – as well as discussing the craft of writing for a Young Adult audience.

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Bio:

Chris Bedell’s previous publishing credits include Thought Catalog, Entropy Magazine, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine to name several examples. His debut YA Fantasy novel In the Name of Magic is forthcoming from NineStar Press and is the first book in a trilogy. Furthermore, Chris sold a second series to NineStar Press. A YA Sci-Fi Thriller series that can be described as Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not meets Arrow, and involves cryogenics and superheroes.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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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.

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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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03Aug/18

Giovanna Reaves

August 3, 2018

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Giovanna (Gia) Reaves as the guest on Episode 175 – Everybody Has A Little Fear of Something!!

Giovanna Reaves joins us to discuss facing her fear and starting her journey as a writer, her most recent novel Ryland’s Inferno, the worlds she builds in her books, and attending GRL for the second time!

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Bio:

Giovanna (Gia) Reaves is the alter ego for a dreamer. A dreamer who spends her days and nights creating worlds from her imagination. Being an avid reader allowed Gia’s imagination to take hold. With the encouragement of her loved ones, Gia has given into the voices in her head, putting their words and worlds to paper. Gia is also a mother, wife and veteran. Gia is also a serious chocoholic and loves to read MM Romance just as much as she loves writing them. The sweeter the better, especially, on a snowy or rainy day is how she like to fill her days when she is not writing.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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27Jul/18

Karelia Stetz-Waters

July 27, 2018

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Karelia Stetz-Waters as the guest on Episode 174 – Rest Your Heart for a Little While!!

Karelia Stetz-Waters joins us to discuss her novel Worth the Wait (Out in Portland), how her activist past fueled her passion to write, and why the LGBTQ crowd needs slightly different Happily Ever Afters!

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Bio:

Karelia Stetz-Waters is a contemporary lesbian writer. She is passionate about providing happy endings and a vision of redemptive love for readers of all orientations. Her novels include For Good, Something True, The Admirer, The Purveyor, and Lambda Literary Award and Golden Crown Literary Society finalist Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before. Karelia teaches English and writing at Linn-Benton Community College, where her students include everyone from drag queens, to farm boys, to Sudanese refugees. They all tell stories of passion and perseverance and inspire her to write characters that are real and diverse.

Karelia has a BA in comparative literature from Smith College and an MA in English literature from the University of Oregon. She also teaches writing for the Gold Crown Literary Society Writing Academy, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote and strengthen lesbian fiction.

She is married to her beloved wife of 19 years and lives with her a friendly cat and a breed of dog never-before-seen: the King Pug Spuglette (a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a pug).

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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20Jul/18

Brenda Murphy

July 20, 2018

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Brenda Murphy as the guest on Episode 173 – Write the Effer!!

Brenda Murphy joins us to discuss her novel Both Ends of the Whip, working as a creative person with ADHD/ADD, and to give some methods for attaining focus and getting the work done!

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Bio:

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those children are her monkeys. When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot. She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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17Jul/18

Magic or Die (Inner Demons 1) by J P Jackson

J. P. Jackson has recently been on our show to tell us about Magic or Die. To find links and support his work, check out Episode 169: Put Strange Things In Your Mouth

Nice bit of world building from J.P. Jackson, author of Daimonion, and a great addition to the horror/fantasy genres. This is his second novel and it shows, with a surer hand and confidence in the writing. It’s unfair to compare the two books because they are so different. Daimonion was a good, gory read, but with Magic Or Die, the self-assured plotting, scene-building and dialogue make for a book that is more accessible to people unused to the demon genre.

In a nutshell, we have James who has his own demons, namely guilt, grief and alcohol. The blurb describes him as an alcoholic, but I wouldn’t have gone that far. Yes, he uses drink to numb his pain, but he seems to function perfectly well once he has his five students on-side and they are fighting for survival. He only has a few months to get them under control and able to use their powers in a way convenient to a sinister organisation (CMRD – read blurb). If he fails, it’s curtains for all of them. I won’t say more because this is a review, not a synopsis, but you get the idea.

I love the way the author has made everything very clear. From the start, I knew what the modus was, and the problems James has to overcome in order to achieve it. I understood the difference between Arcanes and Elementals because all that information is right there, and so often in these genres it just isn’t. He manages this without patronising the newbie or alienating readers experienced in the genre. In short, it’s a bloody good, enjoyable read.

The students all had their own demons (surely an allegory for real life.) I was waiting for the poison pill, the one to screw things up for everyone else. There is a candidate, but I won’t spoil it. The real boo-hiss villain is Miriam, a cross between Cruella de Ville and that evil witch from The Emperor’s New Groove. Maybe she is a little too much of a caricature, but it’s a small point in a book of interesting characters and curious dilemmas, all set within the confines of a strange, maze-like building without any obvious means of escape. The students are a lively bunch, honey-toned Isaiah and his lascivious, blue-eyed demon, enraged Chris, unable to fully control his inner fire wolf, the anime-like Ning and ethereal Camila and Annabelle. All have spectacular skills which, if not harnessed, are a threat to civilisation. The atmosphere is eery, with beautiful descriptions as each display their power. The sexual tension between James and Isaiah is subtle rather than full-on. It was a fun, spooky, tense mix, with a good building of atmosphere and an exciting finale. A solid start to a promising series.

BLURB

James Martin is a teacher, a powerful Psychic, and an alcoholic. He used to work for the Center for Magical Research and Development, a facility that houses people who can’t control their supernatural abilities, but left after one of his students was killed, turning to vodka to soothe his emotional pain. The problem is he still has one year left on his contract.

When James is forced to return to the CMRD, he finds himself confronting the demons of his past and attempting to protect his new class from a possible death sentence, because if they don’t pass their final exams, they’ll be euthanized.

James also discovers that his class isn’t bringing in enough sponsors, the agencies and world governments who supply grants and ultimately purchase graduates of the CMRD, and that means no profit for the facility. James and his students face impossible odds—measure up to the facility’s unreachable standards or escape.

 

13Jul/18

Asta Idonea

July 13, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Asta Idonea (Nicki J. Markus) as the guest on Episode 172 – It All Started Because of Shakespeare!!

Asta Idonea (who also writes as Nicki J. Markus) joins us to discuss how she became an author, her two upcoming releases: Beastly Businessmen and Guitar Gods, and Super for You, Bad for Me. We also discuss fairy tales, myth, and their archetypes plus writing superhero novels with a twist. Asta then contributes to our growing list of RFQs and what’s next for her!

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Bio:

Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!

As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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04Jul/18

We The People

July 4, 2018


Vance put out the call because we wanted YOUR voices for Episode 171 – We The People!!

Vance took the streets of the world, both digital and real, to ask “What does American mean to you?”

The answers are powerful.

We at the WROTE Podcast wish you a happy and safe Independence Day.

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