21Mar/19

Imminent Dawn by R. R. Campbell

Imminent Dawn (Empathy Book 1) is a complex and involved debut sci-fi novel, first in a series, with a large cast of characters and several different POV’s. There’s no doubt it is well-written and evenly-paced, with great world-building and realistic dialogue.

For me, the number of POV’s were a bit of a stumbling block. I’ve read a lot of books, the the ones I’ve enjoyed most have been the ones with a single or double POV. Once it gets to more than that, with equally important characters, It has to work harder to keep my attention. 

I found this with Imminent Dawn, which at times seemed over-complicated for what it was. Essentially, one woman is used as pawn by a powerful corporation, whilst an investigative journalist and a company employee, each with their own agendas, try to outdo each other in order to achieve their ambitions.

It took a while to unpick all of this, and because of that, I found it difficult to engage with the characters. For me to want to read about a character, I need to care about them or hate them. It was a shame that I didn’t find a particular character to root for in this book, as I was too busy trying to figure out what exactly was going on.

I believe this is down to personal taste though, rather than a fault of the author. Others will find much to enjoy in the characterisations of the enigmatic and ruthless tech magnate, and will relate to Chandra and her predicament. They will enjoy unpicking the complexities of the plot, and will rejoice in subtleties that I may well have missed. In short, I think this novel has far more to it than I was able to glean from it, but I only have a finite amount of time to figure things out before I have to move on. It’s a shame, but as a book reviewer, it’s life.

Finally, this is a solid sci-fi novel, confidently written, with plenty for avid sci-fi readers to enjoy. I really hope they take it on board and run with it.  

BLURB

Four people. One study. The internet-access brain implant to bind or destroy them all.

Art-school dropout Chandra would do anything to apologize for her role in her wife’s coma—including enroll in the first round of human trials for an internet-access brain implant.

At first, the secretive research compound is paradise, the perfect place to distract Chandra from her grief. But as she soon learns, the facility is more prison than resort, with its doctors, support staff, and her fellow patients all bent on hatching plots of their own, no matter how invested they might seem in helping her communicate with her wife.

Making matters worse, a dark wave of uncertainty crashes down on the compound, forcing Chandra to become an unlikely but pivotal player in conspiracies stretching from the highest levels of the North American Union government to the lowest dredges of its shadowy hacking collectives.

To save herself and her wife, Chandra and her newfound friends from the study will have to overcome the scheming of a ruthless tech magnate, the naïveté of an advancement-hungry administrative assistant, and the relentless pursuits of an investigative journalist, all of whom are determined to outpace the others in their own quests to resurrect lost love, cover their tracks, and uncover the truth.

A twistedly delightful clockwork of intrigue and suspense, EMPATHY: Imminent Dawn is an electrifying sci-fi debut from author r. r. campbell. 

15Mar/19

Fessenden & Feeley

March 15, 2019

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Jamie Fessenden and Freddie Feeley, Jr back as the guests on Episode 207 – More Fun With the Creepy Scenes!

Authors Jamie Fessenden and Freddie Feeley, Jr team up to share with us their forthcoming horror novel, Borderlands, and what it was like to team up.

NOTE: Jamie accidentally said “bodega” in this episode. He caught it after the fact and knew he meant “botánica” – offering his apologies to anyone he confused.

Follow Jamie and support his work:

Follow Freddie and support his work:

Bio:

Jamie Fessenden is an author of gay fiction in many genres. Most involve romance, because he believes everyone deserves to find love, but after that anything goes: contemporary, science fiction, historical, paranormal, mystery, or whatever else strikes his fantasy.
     Jamie set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple short pieces in his high school’s literary magazine and had another story place in the top 100 in a national contest, but it wasn’t until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie wrote several screenplays and directed a few of them as micro-budget independent films. He then began writing novels and published his first novella in 2010.
     After nine years together, Jamie and Erich have married and purchased a house together in the wilds of Raymond, New Hampshire, where there are no street lights, turkeys and deer wander through their yard, and coyotes serenade them on a nightly basis.
     Jamie recently left his “day job” as a tech support analyst to be a full-time writer.

F.E.Feeley Jr is married to his wonderful husband, John. He’s a father to their German Shephard, Kaiser. Freddie is an avid reader of Mysteries, Horror, and Suspense, and biographies. He’s also a gamer. His favorites include Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Star Trek Online, Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed, Fallout, and Civilization Five. He LOVES to cook and dives into trying new recipes (hint hint). He’s an avid music junkie from POPular music to Opera, to Showtunes, Gospel, Rock, Rap, and Hip Hop. Finally, he’s a Poet – a lot of which is offered on his site for free.
     As if that weren’t enough, he’s the author of six published works – four full length novels and two short stories featured in anthologies.

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

Or right here:

08Mar/19

M.D. Neu

March 8, 2019


It gives us great pleasure to welcome M. D. Neu back as the guest on Episode 206 – What Would Grace and Frankie Do?

Join us for a very different format – we are talking MARKETING with author MD Neu. Which begs the question: #WWGaFD?

Follow Marvin and support his work:

Books mentioned in this episode:

Bio:

M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of twenty plus years.

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

Or right here:


February 8, 2019


It gives us great pleasure to welcome M. D. Neu back as the guest on Episode 202 – Stop Feeding the Beast!

MD (Marvin) Neu returns to talk about his latest release, A New World – Contact. We also discuss aliens, religion, global politics, and refugees – a very timely and entertaining discussion! #WWFD (Wanna find out what that hashtag means? Listen to the blooper at the end of the show!)

Follow Marvin and support his work:

Books mentioned in this episode:

Bio:

M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of twenty plus years.

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

Or right here:


April 20, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to welcome M.D. Neu as the guest on Episode 160 – Cross Gender, Cross Culture, Cross Economics!!

This week M.D. Neu joins us to chat about his works, with a deep look into the immortal vampires from his novel The Calling, as well as how our books are discovered, and the reality that LGBTQA is cross culture, cross gender, cross economics!!

Follow Marvin and support his work:

Bio:

M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of eighteen plus years.

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

Or right here:

06Mar/19

The Dragon Princess by Hans M Hirschi

This is something different to the usual books I review on WROTE. Recent guest, Hans M Hirschi, has written a children’s fable, a magical tale for bedtime reading with young children.

I felt it was important to review it here, because people aren’t just just genders and sexualities, they’re also parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and people like me looking for diverse and inclusive fiction to share with our children or those of friends.

How I wish I had something like this to read to mine when they were small. This is a delightful tale, with hints of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, beautifully illustrated by Felicity Swann, and just long enough for a good bedtime story. Basically, it questions the concepts of evil, and love meaning a prince has to have a princess in order to find their Happy Ever After. And I’m pleased to see this is Book 1 of the Valerius and Evander story, which means there is more to come for these two engaging characters.

The writing isn’t patronising and not too simple, striking just the right balance. And there is no heavy-handed preaching either. It’s just a lovely story which is pitched just right for the audience it was intended for, no doubt prompting discussion from curious youngsters, but also normalising the whole concept of same sex relationships, which is just as it should be.

BLURB

Love is love
and dragons are evil
or are they really?

The Dragon Princess is a story about love
and how it holds the power to transform
even the coldest of hearts.

A classic bedtime story for children of all ages
written by bestselling author Hans M Hirschi
and beautifully illustrated by Felicity Swan.

 

01Mar/19

LJ Evans

March 1, 2019


It gives us great pleasure to welcome LJ Evans as the guest on Episode 205 – Live Life Resiliently!

LJ Evans joins us to talk about her My Life As An Album series, how music inspires her, and she explains the evolution of the romance genre!

Follow LJ and support her work:

Books mentioned in this episode:

Bio:

Award winning author, LJ Evans, lives in the California Central Valley with her husband, daughter, and the three terrors called cats. She’s been writing, almost as a compulsion, since she was a little girl and will often pull the car over to write when a song lyric strikes her. While she currently spends her days teaching 1st grade in a local public school, she spends her free time reading and writing, as well as binge watching original shows like The Crown, Victoria, and Stranger Things.

If you ask her the one thing she won’t do, it’s pretty much anything that involves dirt—sports, gardening, or otherwise. But she loves to write about all of those things, and her first published heroine was pretty much involved with dirt on a daily basis. Which is exactly what LJ loves about fiction novels—the characters can be everything you’re not and still make their way into your heart.

Her debut series, the MY LIFE AS AN ALBUM series, has won multiple awards including The Independent Author Network’s Young Adult Book of the year and Audiobook Obsessions’s 2nd Place Most Recommended Romance Audiobook.

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

Or right here:

22Feb/19

The State of the Queerverse

February 22, 2019

Join Baz and Vance on Episode 204 – The State of the Queerverse

In a week with no guest, co-hosts Vance and Baz discuss the state of queerdom across media.

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

Or right here:


September 23, 2016

Join Baz and Vance  on episode 076: The Crossroads of Queer Storytelling!

This week your hosts Baz and Vance step away from books and examine how the spectrum of diverse characters is handled in comics, on television, in movies, and in music.

 

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

Or right here:

15Feb/19

K’Anne Meinel

February 15, 2019

 

It gives us great pleasure to welcome K’Anne Meinel as the guest on Episode 203 – If You Don’t Know Me, where the heck have you been? K’Anne Meinel joins us to talk about her works, and the Queer awards competition she runs. Give a listen to a great conversation!

Follow K’Anne and support her work:

Books mentioned in this episode:

  • Ships by Shadoe Publishing

Bio: K’Anne Meinel, pronounced Kay-Anne My-Null (in Europe) and My-Nell (in America), is an American author born and raised in Wisconsin.  While she has lived in central and southern California, she always returns home to roost. K’Anne professes to write books that she would like to read.  Through her novels, novellas, and short stories, she has grown into a writer who is willing to expand her horizons.  She fearlessly steps out of her comfort zone in order to allow the reader, through her words, to savor the experiences of her life.

K’Anne is the mistress of sarcasm and double entendre, with a wicked tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that many find addictive; she has a special way with words.  Her descriptions paint visions in your mind and her words fuel your imagination.  Named the lesbian Danielle Steel of her time, she has been featured in the Huffington Post for her detailed and gripping storylines.  In 2018 she was named a USA Today Best-Selling author!  Befriend or ‘like’ her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter to keep up-to-date on her latest books, stories, and career.  You are sure to find something you will enjoy.  K’Anne also welcomes your email comments, suggestions, or advice – but don’t hold your breath waiting for her to put it into practice.

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

Or right here:  

10Feb/19

Contact (A New World, Book One) by M. D. Neu

There were a lot of expectations I had heaped on this book, mainly because my favourite sci-fi of all time (even trumping Close Encounters) is Contact, with Jodie Foster. And I KNOW that is really unfair, but once lodged, it couldn’t be shifted, so I turned my gimlet gaze on this book thinking “this has better be good.”

Well, reader, I was not disappointed. It was a bold move to start with the alien POV, but it turns out they aren’t all that different from us, with similar thoughts and emotions, and cute pets to cuddle when they are feeling down. But don’t let that put you off. Their rituals, expectations, way of talking and manners are very alien, as are their names and clothing. The author has taken a lot of trouble to build their world from the tiniest details (drinking tuma, and the name for the pet as a youngster) to the major issues. There IS a glossary at the back, and usually I wish the author had drawn attention to it earlier, but actually, I didn’t need it. The writing makes it clear enough, without long drawn-out explanations, but the Glossary is a good reference.

Then we have the humans, Todd and his husband Jerry, and their uber-camp friend, Dan. I found Dan a bit irritating at first but I really warmed to him when disaster strikes. Todd has a heads-up that alien craft are approaching the planet but he can’t tell anyone. Even his husband, Jerry, doesn’t believe him. The author captures how they deal with having to keep quiet, as well as their everyday existence as a gay couple, brilliantly.

So with the characters established, the author sets about telling the story from the human and the alien point of view. Humans are dealing with their own problems: rising bigotry and world unrest, environmental issues, overpopulation. And the Nentraee, who are homeless due to the destruction of their world and running out of resources, need somewhere to settle their remaining population. Naturally, the humans have something to say about that when the Nentraee make tentative contact with

To the Nentraee, humans are an odd race who don’t appreciate the beauty of the world they live in. And to the humans, the Nentraee are patronising, preachy and want to wipe them all out. There is mutual distrust as both sides slowly learn about each other, but after a terrible event, Todd is the one who ends up being the link between the two races, a role he feels unprepared for.

This was a very human story as well as an alien one. Todd and Jerry have to deal with homophobia on a daily basis. It even gets in the way of negotiations with the Nentraee, something the aliens find incomprehensible. The aliens also have complex and close family units and social delicacies. I hope we find out more about how they became such an itinerant race and what happened to their original planet.

There are also self-serving politicians, an indictment of American society at the moment and a study of how we would look to extraterrestrial visitors. It isn’t any surprise they view us with some suspicion.

So a great start to the New World Series, with solid character development, appealing characters on both the human and Nentraee sides, and the potential for things to get really messy in the future. I’m looking forward to the next one!

BLURB

A little blue world, the third planet from the sun. It’s home to 7 billion people with all manner of faiths, beliefs and customs, divided by bigotry and misunderstanding, who will soon be told they are not alone in the universe. Anyone watching from the outside would pass by this fractured and tumultuous world, unless they had no other choice. Todd Landon is one of these people, living and working in a section of the world called the United States of America. His life is similar to those around him: home, family, work, friends and a husband. 

On the cusp of the greatest announcement humankind has ever witnessed, Todd’s personal world is thrown into turmoil when his estranged brother shows up on his front porch with news of ships heading for Earth’s orbit. The ships are holding the Nentraee, a humanoid race who have come to Earth in need of help after fleeing the destruction of their homeworld. How will one man bridge the gap for both the Humans and Nentraee, amongst mistrust, terrorist attacks and personal loss? Will this be the start of a new age of man or will bigotry and miscommunication bring this small world to its knees and final end? 

01Feb/19

R. R. Campbell

February 1, 2019


It gives us great pleasure to welcome R. R. Campbell back as the guest on Episode 201 – Quote-Unquote-Fun!

R.R. Campbell joins us to discuss his latest release: EMPATHY: Imminent Dawn, the life of sequels, and the ethics of invasive technology.

Follow Ryan and support his work:

Books mentioned in this episode:

Bio:

R. R. Campbell is an author, editor, and the founder of the Writescast Network, a podcast collective for writers, by writers. His work has been featured in Five:2:One Magazine’s #thesideshow, Erotic Review, and with National Journal Writing Month. He is the author of titles including Accounting for It All and EMPATHY: Imminent Dawn (both through NineStar Press). Ryan lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife, Lacey, and their cats, Hashtag and Rhaegar.

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


November 16, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to welcome R. R. Campbell as the guest on Episode 190 – Why Not Both?

R.R. Campbell joins us to discuss his latest release: Accounting For It All and his upcoming release EMPATHY: Imminent Dawn. We also discuss perceptions of sex work and sex workers, sex positivity and more.

Follow Ryan and support his work:

Books mentioned in this episode:

Bio:

R. R. Campbell is an author, editor, and the founder of the Writescast Network, a podcast collective for writers, by writers. His work has been featured in Five:2:One Magazine’s #thesideshow, Erotic Review, and with National Journal Writing Month. He is the author of titles including Accounting for It All (NineStar Press) and EMPATHY: Imminent Dawn (NineStar Press, January 2019). Ryan lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife, Lacey, and their cats, Hashtag and Rhaegar.

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

Or right here:

28Jan/19

Power Surge by Sara Codair

Sara Codair was one of our lovely guests recently on WROTE. To find out more about them and find links to their work, check out Episode 194: Yeah That Happens!

Power Surge is Part 1 of the Evanstar Chronicles. Erin has a lot on their plate. Having recently come off meds for ADHD, they they think the visions they are experiencing are due to mental health problems. From being stalked by a sinister demon, to seeing fairies and pixies flitting in front of them, it isn’t surprising they think they are slowly going insane. Added to that, they are dealing with unfamiliar feelings for Jose, a childhood friend who has now become more than just a good friend, and at night they are haunted by nightmares. Also, there is the issue of being non-binary in a college full of jocks and prom queens, most of whom dismiss Erin as an ugly nobody, and family issues as well, as their previously close-knit family seems to be falling apart.

So it’s a lot to take in. Understandably, there’s a lot of description as at first, as we need to see inside Erin’s head to understand what they are going through. The balance of dialogue and prose is a little uneven, giving the story a slightly confusing start and this did mean my attention strayed a little, trying to grasp all these different conundrums and elements of Erin’s character. Having said that, the writing was incredibly good, and I really felt Erin’s dilemma as a young person trying to deal with the real world as well as what they assume is incipient madness.

The scene where they find out they are not alone, and Jose is right there with them, also seeing visions, is the best in the book in my opinion. I really felt their relief and joy. Until then, they had been keeping Jose at arm’s length, not wanting to inflict their problems onto him. They had been dealing with the bitchy girls in their social group, and feelings of isolation, so that scene was a wonderful moment.

There were also some gorgeous warm scenes with Erin’s family, and some really terrifying ones when the demons reveal themselves. Power Surge is a melting pot of young people’s issues, dealing with mental health, bullying, gender identity, family crises, superheroes who cannot fly and saving the world from imminent disaster.

Okay, so I didn’t connect with the book as much as I wanted to, mainly due to trying to process all these aspects whilst my brain was fried from dealing with Christmas, but that isn’t the author’s fault. This is a solid story of good v. evil, told by a narrator with vary real issues in a strange, creepy and sometimes beautiful world.

Finally, two things. First, the way they deal with mental health, not demonising it, but acknowledging it can really ruin a persons’ life, is brilliant and unafraid to say “look, this is just how it is sometimes, and it sucks.”

And second, the pronouns weren’t even an issue. Erin is non-binary, and the them/their pronouns sounded as natural as she/her or he/him do in 99.9 percent of fiction, This is an #ownvoices author who deserves recognition from readers of all genders.

BLURB

Erin has just realized that for the entirety of their life, their family has lied to them. Their Sight has been masked for years, so Erin thought the Pixies and Mermaids were hallucinations. Not only are the supernatural creatures they see daily real, but their grandmother is an Elf, meaning Erin isn’t fully human. On top of that, the dreams Erin thought were nightmares are actually prophecies.

While dealing with the anger they have over all of the lies, they are getting used to their new boyfriend, their boyfriend’s bullying ex, and the fact that they come from a family of Demon Hunters. As Erin struggles through everything weighing on them, they uncover a Demon plot to take over the world.

Erin just wants some time to work through it all on their own terms, but that’s going to have to wait until after they help save the world.