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Songs from Richmond Avenue

Songs from Richmond Avenue

Songs from Richmond Avenue by Michael Reed is a dark novel about characters that could be found in any town. The main character is a journalist that seems to know all the questionable characters that hang out on Richmond Avenue in Houston. He meets a beautiful woman named Michelle that he becomes infatuated with from the start. Michelle could change things for the journalist, but not before he gets caught up in some seriously crazy shenanigans that include kidnapping, booze and roommates. Among everything else, you get to know some barflies who have very interesting stories and a love for alcohol and bets.

This story isn’t long, but packs quite a bit into such a small package. I can imagine this story set in any small local dive bar. There would be those regulars that have extremely colorful stories that are darkly humorous. The writing is unique and paints a descriptive image of all the characters in the book. Each one has personality and detail that many authors gloss over. His descriptions made it easy to visualize and even smell each and every one.

There will be a number of readers who will identify with the different characters and most likely sympathize with them as well. I felt as though I was getting a glimpse into someone’s real life experiences, not the work of fiction. The journalist doesn’t even have a name, yet throughout the story I didn’t even notice. I made it pretty far in before thinking, “Hey, what the heck is this guys name?”

“Songs from Richmond Avenue” could almost be called a drunks love story, as the journalist finds himself wishing for a future with Michelle. He may not exactly be a romantic character, it’s love just the same. Throw in some depressing thoughts while mixing in some humorous parts and that sums up this story.

It took me some time to really get into the story. Michael Reed has a unique way of developing his characters that takes a bit of adjusting to. Once I got farther into the story and got use to the craziness, I was in for the long haul and wasn’t bothered in the slightest. This is definitely not a light and airy read, but I think that is part of the appeal. I had to read slower than I usually would have with any other book which made me connect with the locations and situations. I honestly don’t want to tell you too much, so that you can have the same experience as I did. The antics that take place are so off the wall I wouldn’t want to ruin the fun for the next reader!

While it did pick up later, it was a bit hard to get into at first. Many readers I know would put down a book they weren’t drawn into from the beginning. While I know that a slow beginning doesn’t mean anything, that doesn’t make you not feel a bit frustrated. I would suggest anyone who enjoys dark humor and crazy drunken stories to give this book a shot.

Pages: 185 | ASIN: B01N039ZM7

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Black Sky

Black Sky will take you on a  personal journey of addiction through the eyes of a physician, Dr Y. What is addiction? Addiction can come in all shapes and forms and does not discriminate against race, color, age or social status. Addiction has a grasp on our society and Black Sky shows how discovering spirituality and understanding of addiction can awaken someone from the brink of destruction. Follow Dr Y as he unravels the web of addiction and shares his story of life as an addict, his recovery and how you too can overcome the battles of addiction.

Black Sky, written by Dr Y, is a book inspired by addiction and discovering the human soul. From the first few pages, you feel a connection to the author and feel inspired to push through your adversities, regardless of whether you have experienced addiction yourself or not.

Addiction is portrayed in the book as being “asleep” and in order to awaken and begin a life of sobriety, one must overcome their circumstances and begin to feel the void and emptiness that addiction has created. Addiction can also come in various forms such as wealth, drugs, alcohol and sex or even just a compulsive behavior that is rewarding, despite the negative consequences. Regardless of your addiction, each individual must go through a similar process to recovery.

There are religious tones throughout the book, however Dr Y. explicitly states that this book is not centered around one particular religion, and instead is based on the spirituality illness that addicts suffer. One particular quote summed up this sentiment perfectly “It has been said that religion is for those who are afraid of hell while spirituality is for those who have been through hell”.

As I was reading the book, there were multiple times where I felt like I had experienced a “light bulb” moment with understanding people who are battling addiction. It enlightens the reader on the mentality and challenges that addiction creates, but also focuses on the possibility of recovery. There are sections of this book that I believe will be quoted in years to come as Dr Y beautifully explains life and the importance of living. Black Sky shows how complex addiction can be and how hard it is to break free from the chains it has on our family, friends and relationships.

Dr Y allows the reader to explore his personal life and the roads that led to addiction to various substances. Interestingly, there are events which occur due to his addiction earlier on in his life which lead to certain career paths and choices. But addiction is always knocking on the door and it takes a series of events and mistakes that lead to Dr Y’s realization and sobriety.

I would recommend this to anyone suffering from addiction, or for anyone wanting to understand addiction and the hold it has on the human soul. I found the book to be extremely uplifting and truly believe that anyone suffering from addiction would find great solace and understanding from Dr Y’s words.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B06Y3MVXSX

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The Shudder of Realization

Tantra Bensko Author Interview

Tantra Bensko Author Interview

Glossolalia is a thrilling ride through the mind of a woman who is seemingly normal but her life slowly unfolds to reveal something bizarre. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?

I have a keen interest in mind control of individuals, and the way controlling each individual can effectively affect a large number of people. All my life I’ve studied in depth the methods that agencies such as the CIA has historically used, and they often have manipulated people’s interest in the occult. And that seems like a topic rich with dramatic fictional possibilities, especially for Psychological Suspense, in which gaslighting is such a common element.

I know I love that electric shudder I get when realize something is not what I thought it was, when I’m just starting to put the pieces together and it’s first making sense, grim as the truth may be. I wanted to give readers that entertainment as well.

Nancy, is like many women at first, but she suffers from narcolepsy and has an addiction to pills that she is trying to kick. How her character unfolds and develops is fascinating. What was your plan as you wrote Nancy’s character?

The only way she can explain her fugues at first is to believe she has narcolepsy, but when she discovers what she does during her periods of amnesia, she realizes her problem is something entirely different from that illness. Similarly, she thinks she’s addicted to the pills to keep hallucinations and delusions at bay, but once she manages to stop taking them, she realizes her visions have been actual memories.

My plan with her was to create an anti-hero who finds a way to redeem herself while staying true to the dubious skills she’s been taught all her life. And she gives readers a way to inhabit the sympathetic victim as well as to perhaps develop compassion for people who are compelled to commit violent acts. In a way, she stands for all of us, because everyone has fallen prey to disinformation at some point, and thus has been an unwilling promulgator of it. And all of us have some chance at heroically redeeming ourselves for that, though of course, I don’t promote violence in any way.

There are a lot of fantastic twists in this novel along with a variety of surprises that kept me turning pages. Did you plan the novel before you wrote or did the story develop organically?

I planned it out to make sure all the plot points, pinch points, act breaks and all were in proper order. However, as I wrote it, I got new ideas for twists that were great fun to conceive of. For example, Brandon the YouTube conspiracy journalist with gigantism wasn’t in the completed first draft. Just as much as I enjoy the shudder of realization, I love the feeling of coming up with new plot twists. It feels delightful.

Glossolalia is book one in the Agents of the Nevermind series. Where does book two, Remember to Recycle, take readers?

People who like Glossolalia will probably like Remember to Recycle because it falls within the same genre categories including Conspiracy Thriller and Political Thriller, and while book one focuses on how coups are created, book two focuses on how proxy wars are created. In both cases, the emphasis is on how intelligence agents deceive the public into going along with the terrible treatment of other countries for profit motive, while pretending it’s for humanitarian aid.

Glossolalia referenced our society’s history, particularly related to intelligence agencies, as a foundation for the series, as well as a pattern of coups that’s been recurring for a very long time; Remember to Recycle specifically addresses what’s happening right now. It goes into all the types of trafficking that go along with war, which is the secondary meaning of the title.

However, the first meaning of the title is more obvious, because a major character is Dave, a homeless man who survives by going through people’s recycling bins and selling the stuff, like all the other guys on the street. But he comes up with a brilliant plan. As in Glossolalia, there’s a darkly humorous aspect to it, and he provides a lot of that. He was really fun for me to write, especially as it’s first person present tense, while he describes his life moment by moment to the “character” he affectionately calls Mr. Interrogator. He’s got a hell of a personality. He likes to wear a wide variety of costumes that he keeps under the bridge, and fancies himself an actor of sorts. He idolizes the Rescuers, who are based on the White Helmets.

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Glossolalia: Psychological Suspense (The Agents of the Nevermind Book 1)

No one but her uncle would hire Nancy, considering her habit of snapping out of amnesiac fugues, wondering where she got her bruises and the scent of men’s cologne. When she sees a crime of poison in progress at the company, she chases the truck carrying away the chemical legally deemed too toxic to use or to dump. Her pursuit leads to a convoluted world of political intrigue, esoteric rituals and an arcane Elizabethan spy code, and assassinations she never imagined – though her imagination is what holds that world together.

This conspiracy novel introduces a young woman with an ambiguous past involving herself in a killer organization with one layer after another of her psyche. DARK, even possibly DISTURBING ROMANCE, is key to finding elusive authenticity.

The old cartoonish formula of good CIA VS bad guys no longer is fresh and relevant. Though through a fictionalized agency, the books in this series, like Barry Eisler’s spy thrillers, explore the shady side of the CIA secret psy-ops, covert experiments, illusions, coups, media theater, psychological warfare, and illicit methods of funding. The Agents of the Nevermind series dares to explore the edgiest controversies and the convoluted lives intelligence agents must endure as they create bizarre delusions for the world in order to hide the truth about their nation’s financial foundation.

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Uniquely American

Kwen Griffeth Author Interview

Kwen Griffeth Author Interview

The Law of Moses is a captivating western novel that paints a vivid picture of life in the American west. What were your sources of inspiration as your created this world that Sam lives in?

I’ve always enjoyed Westerns. I grew up reading Louis L’Amour, Clair Huffaker, and even today, I enjoy Craig Johnson and Tony Hillerman. The western is uniquely American and even modern heroes are compared to the tales of Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and such. All too often, in my opinion, the western hero is portrayed as shallow. I asked what if a soldier from the 1800’s became sick with an illness not identified or understood until the late 1900’s? I’m talking about PTSD. I grew up in the west, I’ve studied the west and I spent two decades in the military around men who suffered from PTSD. I was compelled to write the story. I knew I got it right, when I received an email from an 82-year-old veteran of the Korean War and he told me Sam inspired him.

Sam has a tumultuous past and lives a dangerous life while being a very deep character. How did you set about creating his character?

As I mentioned, I was blessed to work for several years in a rehabilitation center for troubled veterans. Many of them had alcohol problems, as the most common remedy veterans find is intoxication. Underneath, the illness attacks the spirit, the humanity of the soldier, and all too often, the alcohol is a secondary problem. Serious? Yes, but secondary. Sam is a blending of several men I worked with. I purposely made Sam a non-drinker (essentially) as I wanted the reader to focus on the real issues suffered by veterans, anger, guilt, loss, failure and loss of faith. It was important to me that Sam, after years of suffering, not meet a beautiful woman and suddenly be cured. In the story, the first “person” Sam connects with is a stray dog. Kind of like Sam, himself.

I felt that the backdrop, time frame and use of guns was very well used. Did you do any research to maintain accuracy?

Anyone who writes historical/fiction is obligated to the reader to do full and complete research. Every gun, the cattle trails, and the battles are accurate. Sam grew up in Elmira New York. In actuality, Elmira was not only a rally point for Union troops going south, there was a POW camp in the later stages of the war. The death rate of the prisoners matched those of Andersonville in Georgia. The Confederate soldiers housed there referred to the camp as “Hellmira.”

Even the weather conditions for the Battle at Antietam was researched as best as records kept for that time frame. The retelling of that battle is accurate with the one exception of the Forty-duce from New York.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will that book be available?

I currently have “Dead Men Walking,” book two of the Nate and Clare series (The Tenth Nail), with my editor. She tells me the book should be ready late May or early June. We are shooting for June 1st. I am working on my first fantasy/crime drama/romance and it is a story of werewolves. As always, I strive to make my characters as “human” as possible. “The Shadow on the Moon,” working title is planned to be ready this fall.

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The Law of Moses (Sam and Laura's Story)Samuel Cardiff had a plan. He had recently graduated from the Teachers College and now he was returning home. The first goal completed, his next step was to find a position and then he could get married.

Samuel was a quiet man, some would say a pacifist. He believed in God, family and education. He was not concerned with the happenings outside his home town.

Outside events, however, were about to drag him from his beloved Elmira. It was the spring of 1861 and Confederate forces had recently attacked Fort Sumter.

Against every moral belief, he enlisted in the Union Army and with his first step toward the south, he changed his life forever.

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High-Functioning Alcoholism: Live It Sober

High-Functioning Alcoholism: Live It Sober4 Stars

High Functioning Alcoholism: Live it Sober by Gray Nomad is a non-fiction book on how to recognize high-functioning alcoholism in yourself or someone else. There is also a short fiction piece with the purpose of illustrating how widespread high-functioning alcoholism is within people. The piece shows anyone, of any status, can be a high-functioning alcoholic. The book also contains some tips on managing high-functioning alcoholism. Nomad stresses the importance of seeking professional help if you suspect an alcohol issue and the importance of education. Furthermore, the book provides concrete examples of high-profile people who had issues with high-functioning alcoholism.

This book is an informational introspective work. The short story produced by Nomad unquestionably opens your eyes on who could have a high-functioning alcoholism issue. The book is short, about 40 pages, and it’s all focused on education and awareness regarding the safety and hazards of consuming alcohol. What I enjoyed most about this work is that it gives examples of how to safely enjoy alcohol.

One of the more important aspects I got out of the book was the author’s mention of talking with children and teaching them about alcoholism at a young age. Teaching is a type of intervention, which is an essential part of preventing future issues. Conversations about sensitive and taboo topics like this one are crucial, which is why a book like this is great. Nomad uses their knowledge of the health science field and their personal experience to bring you in.

There are a few grammatical issues that could use some polishing. However, it does not take away from the overall message or enjoyment of the book. The book is well written and informative which left me wanting more after 40 short pages. It’s informative and interesting. However, I think more information and a more in-depth look at the case study could increase awareness on the topic. I believe it would give more potency if there were more details, especially with high profile cases and the case study.

Overall, this book was enjoyable. It is a quick, compelling read. The purpose is to “wake up” someone to the dangers of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and it does just that. There is good, solid advice on not only how to recognize the dangers of alcohol consumption but also tips on managing high-functioning alcohol issues, the importance of educating others and talking about this subject, and the importance of talking to professionals.

After reading this book I had to reflect on my own life to see if I was a high functioning alcoholic! I did have a glass of wine last night. Oh no! (You’ll be happy to know that I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not. Thanks Gray Nomad!)

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to know more about alcoholism. As a person who is concerned with people’s health, this is a good read. It gives you a glance into the world of alcohol abuse and how it is more pervasive than one might think. Nomad makes a significant contribution to health services and humanity.

Pages: 39 | ASIN: B01N95RT4E

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Without Forethought of the Moral Costs

Stephen Arend Author Interview

Stephen Arend Author Interview

Soul Searcher takes place in a world where magic is as common as breathing, but a soul transfer goes terribly wrong. This is an intriguing setup to an epic fantasy novel. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?

I wrote a good portion of Soul Searcher while I was working as an Adult Felony Probation Officer. Working in such a position gives a person the opportunity to experience many different views of why we are here, in this life. One such outlook was the need to obtain immediate gratification without forethought of the moral costs or consequences: addiction. Another outlook was the sometimes jaded, superior opinion many in the field get when working in that environment. Mordeth was addicted to the power of his position and the euphoria of the magical weave, and he felt he was justified in what he was doing. This addiction made him impatient, and his superiority caused him to other the criminals, to make them less than he. Mordeth’s straying from the moral code of society led to his downfall and to wasted years. He forgot he was supposed to serve instead of being served.

Rork is an intriguing character that knows little about his past. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?

First and foremost, Rork felt he needed no one. That is false. No matter how strong or independent, we all need someone. Everyone has unique traits and skills, but no one person is perfect. We all have weaknesses, and Rork sure had his. In discovering friendship, Rork improved his place in the world and brightened his existence. Also, Rork lacked faith in a power higher. He needed to learn to believe and have faith; his ax, Retorter, could not hack its way through everything. In the end, that was his redemption.

How did you balance magic and its use throughout the story to keep it believable?

I wanted magic to be addictive, to siphon life with each usage. It may cost seconds, minutes, hours, days or years of life with the depth of the draw. A Mage-Lord could instantly light a torch with a wave of his hand and only lose seconds of his life–about the same amount of time it would have taken to physically light it– or she could wield destructive power and lose years of life. A mage would have to balance his or her current need with the cost and danger, because accepting the weave is addicting and dangerous.

What is the next book that you’re working on and when can your fans expect it out?

I am working on Shadow Court. Rork’s redemption is complete, but his atonement is ongoing. Rork has to face all he did as Mordeth, and that man’s sins are far reaching. Shadow Court will be out January 2017.

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Soul Searcher: The Reckoning Part OneSoul Searcher: The Reckoning details the journey of one man, Rork, as he strives to find his past and answers to the strange memories and images which have plagued him for the past ten years. In making this journey, he will discover who he really is…and was. Along the way, Rork gathers to his side an enigmatic forester with ties to a long-forgotten race, that young man’s secret protector, and a boisterous islander with pride as large as the open canyon country. In the end, Rork finds himself torn between what he must do for himself and what he can do for others around him, for he learns of friendship and caring, and that it hard for a man with only half a soul. The past cannot be changed, and for some, the reality of that may prove too much to accept.

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The Mind and Heart of a People-Watcher

Dave Matthes Author Interview

Dave Matthes Author Interview

Return to the Madlands follows Arlo in the final chapter of the Mire Man Trilogy and brings to a close Arlo Smith’s wild and messy journey. What was your inspiration for the wild journey you take readers on in this novel?

Trilogies, by definition, usually sum everything that has transpired throughout the course of the story, if not most everything up in the final entry, and while that was of course my drive for finishing the story, it wasn’t necessarily the inspiration behind it. I once considered not writing it at all, and simply leaving the ending to Book II the way it was, sort of like a… “…and he got away” type of ending. Maybe it was out of greed on my own part that I wrote a Book III, because I wanted more of the character, I wanted him to engage more in the world around him at a different time of his life. I wanted Arlo Smith to finally be presented with the fact that death is in his, quite possibly near, future, and what that would mean for him in terms of deciding which one of these new, completely unprecedented paths he would take. I wanted Arlo to be presented with a final choice concerning Constance, and work in also the idea that there are no actual “final choices” in life, or at least there doesn’t have to be. And I think that reflects in a few of the supporting characters throughout the book.

Arlo often meets many interesting people on his travels. Were there any characters that you especially enjoyed writing for?

Arlo’s father, most definitely, considering the parallels of their individual existences and their already established roughness in what they think/thought of each other. I toyed with the idea of writing more for Arlo’s father in a separate novel, or short story, and even considering throwing in a twist at the end of “Madlands” that tied Arlo’s father to a character in a past novel of mine. There’s so much time that has passed since Arlo’s father left him until now, so much history and mystery that anything could have happened. I like to think though that sometimes it’s best to leave the mystery as it is; the idea of ascertaining the truth is not always as romantic as wallowing in the unknown.

Arlo meets his estranged father and forms a tentative relationship. Why was this event important to Arlo’s development?

Arlo’s chaos stems from his youth, and by extension if unintentional or not, his father had a hand in that. At this point in time, Arlo and his father, one has always assumed the worst had happened to the other, and in some ways, assumed they had been dead. So when they finally reunite, neither one of them wants to part with those assumptions because those beliefs have become such an essential part to their existences, that any interruption in said life has the potential to cause an insanity-driven rift. Neither Arlo or his father, in the beginning, wants anything to do with the realization that they are both still alive in the world. But as the story progresses, through intended subtlety and background “what-if’s”, Arlo’s father and Arlo himself in their own way begin to wonder if their reunion is fate, and even if it isn’t, why would that stop them from taking a chance at rewriting their futures?

How do you feel now that the Mire Man Trilogy is done? Did you accomplish everything you set out to?

I think I’ve said what I set out to say. The story’s been told and I don’t have any intentions of returning to Arlo’s world. That doesn’t mean any of the other supporting characters may or may not get a spot somewhere down the line, though it’s mostly unlikely. For me, “The Mire Man Trilogy” is a brief glimpse into the mind and heart of a people-watcher; someone who enjoys the company of people only as much as he can tolerate them. It’s a story within a story within a story within a story, and it could be that, more or less, to anyone who reads it. And even though it was me who wrote the story, I’ll never look at a glass of whiskey or listen to a piece by Miles Davis the same way again. People have said to me that they could never expect Arlo to have a happy ending, and maybe they’re right. I like to think of the ending of the trilogy as a reminder that it’s not important whether or not you leave the world on a happy note, but rather you instill in the people around you, and the people you’ve crossed paths with, some measure of self-inquiry, instead of simply letting the world and everything that it could be, slip through their fingers. Finding life’s answers isn’t as important as never giving up the search for them.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be available for readers?

Currently, I’m working on another volume of poetry and short stories alongside a novel. My fourth volume of poetry/short stories is titled “Slaughterhouse After-Party” and the novel is tentatively titled “He Showed Me All the Neon Tombstones and Together We Embraced the Abyss”, which is written in episodic form, in that each chapter deals with a different story in the life of the main character, who writes obituaries from the point of view of the deceased. Every chapter has to deal with a different client/family. The main character also has horrible anxiety and depression, for which he takes medication for. That medication has had a strange side-effect in that it more than occasionally causes him to hallucinate a version of himself, calling himself Chauncey, speaking in an English accent, with skin painted over its entirety, a deep, royal blue. Chauncey basically exists with the intention of mocking or critiquing every move the main character makes. So there’s some psychological bafoonery at play, along with the melancholy, always-present scent of death. Neither of these two books will be available for a while…maybe not for another year or two, depending on the stability of my own particular sanity.

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Return to the Madlands (The Mire Man Trilogy, #3)A decade or so following the events of “Paradise City”, Arlo Smith finds that he is still somehow clinging to life. Fueled by the revelation that Constance may also still be alive and waiting for him somewhere out in the world, Arlo Smith, now feeling older than ever, decides to make one last stand against himself. Obliging to the last wishes of a recently-deceased love one, and perhaps succumbing to his own obsessions, Arlo embarks on an open road quest one last time in hopes of finding what he’s been searching for since that fateful day near the end of his high school years. What he discovers is an unexpected , and obligatory companionship with his estranged father, self-exiled in a lonely Nevada town, and more revelations that could either cement his perception of his very existence, or tear it down completely, rendering him beyond saving. Feeling the promise of death in one direction and the lure of Constance in another, Arlo is forced to decide to stay or leave… to obey the itching bones of his lusts, or to do what is right… and finally put to rest what may have started him on his path to damnation all those years ago.Buy Now From Amazon.com

Shackled Scribes

The Shackled Scribes4 StarsShackled Scribes is a fantasy piece that takes place in a world powered by runes and those that carve them for the worm rulers in power. The story opens with Cyesko, an interesting character. He strives to be a respected rune scribe, partly due to his addiction to Ichor, a golden liquid that he receives as payment for his runes. He is a bird-like creature who has spent most of his life being a weak rune scribe, but that all changes when he runs into Tialina, a female bird creature who is naturally gifted in rune scribing. When he takes part of a rune she created, it sends him on a new path of stronger rune creation. However, those new runes bring new problems.

Soon, he begins to wonder who this woman was and how she became so powerful, as well as some truths that change how he sees the world around him. Meanwhile, Tialina has discovered the consequences of using rune power so often, and begins to look for a solution that might change the world.

The strength of this story lies in its world. It is unique in almost every respect, and the characters respond and react as one would expect under those circumstances. It is also a world that is well-defined. There were not many times when this reader ever felt lost or confused by the introduction of a new mechanic or function in the world. The details are revealed in such a fashion that makes the reader desire more, and gives enough of those details in a timely pace that also keeps the reader satisfied.

The plot is entertaining and straightforward. There is not a lot hiding in the details of the story, and some readers might find the actual conflicts to be a bit generic, despite the rich and unique setting. Regardless, the story moves quickly and the reader will be anxious to find out how these characters progress through the troubles where they find themselves.

Overall, the story is well worth the read. Some of the ideas are very far-fetched, but that creativity makes the reading interesting. If you can deal with ideas that aren’t much like any of the traditional magic we find in contemporary fantasy, then this will be a book for you. It is a unique setting with interesting characters. I hope that there will be more adventures in this realm.

Pages: 195 | ASIN: B01KDG6OKA

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Return to the Madlands

Return to the Madlands (The Mire Man Trilogy, #3)3 StarsArlo is on a journey across the country to find Constance, a long lost love. Throughout his trip, the reader is treated to his interactions with random individuals, many of whom this reader wishes he could know more about. However, the brief glimpses are more than entertaining. The owner of a motel and the story behind his sword on display, the female police officer who pulled Arlo over for swerving while driving, and Lenny, the former man of faith who shoots a gas station iguana, they all help Arlo along on his journey. Aside from the cast of supporting characters, Arlo is also dealing with his health. With the years of whiskey catching up to him, it made this reader wonder if he would survive long enough to find Constance.

This story is more like a collection of stories, rather than a novel with a driving plot line. While Arlo is technically on a journey that has a defined ending, the real value of the text comes from the small stories that Arlo collects from the people he meets along the way. Many of them share experiences that give the reader plenty to think about, but too many of them are too ready and willing to give “advice”. Most readers will anticipate this pattern of meeting, backstory, lesson. Because of this pattern, many of the lessons lose their weight due to the seemingly formulaic inclusion. If these lessons had been blended into the story with a bit more tact, then they would have a stronger impact.

Regardless, there is still some beauty in watching Arlo learn from these characters. Many of them are from walks of life that do not get much respect in our society. Hookers, drug addicts, hitchhikers. All of these people are human, and they have experiences that Arlo asks about. When he asks, and if the character responds, then the reader is treated to some of the most well-thought lessons in our society

Overall, the novel is entertaining. Arlo is a main character that everyone loves to hate, with his poor decision making skills and general negative views of the world around him. His interactions with the side characters tell a different story, though, and we get to see him grow as a person because of them. Perhaps it is a wisdom that has come with the aging of his character, but Arlo’s transformation from the previous entries, and even from the beginning of this entry, is something to behold.

Pages: 302 | ISBN: 1530041619

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First-Hand Experience With The World of Drug Addiction

Michael A. McLellan Author Interview

Michael A. McLellan Author Interview

American Flowers is a fantastic story that follows Chris who’s a drug addicted young man trying to find his way in life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write about drug addiction in this way?

I made a lot of poor decisions when I was a teen and gained first-hand experience with the world of drug addiction. Most particularly the meth subculture. I witnessed young people completely unravel their lives in weeks. A lot of times it begins with no more than a weekend of partying. Meth addiction is insidious in that way. I came out the other side. Many never do. All these years later I feel compelled to share some of my experience with others. I don’t think there’s many of us here in the U.S. who hasn’t been affected by drug addiction in some way; either first-hand or through a loved one or coworker.

After Chris meets Allie, a young lady who has her own set of problems, and gets her addicted to the needle, things go south quickly. How did you set about creating their relationship and what did you want it to be like in the end?

Their relationship was toxic from the start. Chris was already deep into his addiction and Allie was vulnerable, regardless of her self-confident exterior. As far as setting it up and where I wanted it to lead, I couldn’t tell you. I’ve written three novels and several short stories and I’ve never written an outline. I just let the story sort of go where it wants to go.

I felt that there was some inspiration from Stephen King in this intriguing story. What authors have been an inspiration for you in this story and in your writing?

I’ve always been amazed by Stephen King’s talent for writing truly three-dimensional characters and his ability to tell engaging stories in plain language. I believe these two things are the main reasons he’s so successful. Beverly Cleary is responsible for my earliest interest in reading, and John Steinbeck and Harper Lee inspired to write about social issues.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will the book be published?

My third novel is completed but as of today I still haven’t decided on a title. The story is set in the 19th century and it deals with racial tensions and injustices in the years immediately following the civil war. The events are seen through the eyes of a freed slave, a wealthy heiress, a disgraced army lieutenant, and a Native American. I feel it’s timely. I hope to have it on the market (complete with title) in the next six weeks or so.

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American Flowers by [McLellan, Michael A.]People thought nineteen-year-old Chris Shafer had everything going for him. Lives, however, are rarely as they appear from the outside, and not all scars are visible. Seventeen-year-old Allie Laughton’s life is turned upside down when her trust in another is horribly betrayed. Finding herself in a strange town, a chance meeting with Chris Shafer changes her life—and his—forever. American Flowers follows the lives of Chris and Allie as circumstance and poor choices transform them from promising, young adults to something else entirely. Caught in the undertow of drugs, crime, and death, their lives spin out of control. Ultimately pursued, they are forced to reconcile the people they believed they were, with the people they’ve become.

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