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Loss of Fatherhood

Gregory Mayo
Gregory Mayo Author Interview

Almost Daddy follows one man’s emotional journey through life as he deals with the pain of almost being a daddy and living with the choices he made. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?

The book is indeed a novel. But the beginning is informed by my own loss of fatherhood to abortion when I was in high school. Years later I went through a recovery process much like someone might seek grief counseling after the death of a child or miscarriage.

Through that healing process and sharing my testimony at dozens of places I realized that there are many people hurting in silence. So I came up with the idea for “Almost Daddy”. I wanted to use story to show some of the fallout that may come after an abortion. But I also wanted to show that healing was possible.

Ben is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas you wanted to explore with his character?

Great question. Ben had to be likeable. He had to be someone we root for…someone we want to succeed. But he also had to be flawed. After the abortion, confusion and pain set in. His path changed. So there had to be this struggle. At the same time he was making bad decisions and bad choices his heart and who he was at his core needed to show too.

I guess the main thing was to illustrate we all have good and bad in us and that events in our lives can impact our behavior…especially when in response to pain or shame.

What were some of the themes that were important for you to include in your book?

The absolute most important theme is redemption. I wanted people to close the last page and know that healing and redemption are possible…no matter what. I know abortion is a touchy subject so it was incredibly important to stay out of the political end of it. So it had to be about healing and hope and redemption. And I truly hope that is something we can all agree on.

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

I’m working on two at the moment. One is a Recovery Guide that will act as a companion to “Almost Daddy.” That should be out by the end of Spring this year (2021). While working through that, which is way different than writing a novel, I am outlining Abby’s story. “Almost Daddy” explored Ben’s journey after the abortion but that’s only half the story. Abby went through some very different things and I feel like her story is important to tell as well.

Where it leads I don’t know yet. Just as with Ben, I outlined an entire book and about six chapters in Ben started telling me what was next. By the time I crossed the midway point in the first draft I was just writing what he was telling me. I’m sure Abby will do the same.

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Why? The question persisted but was unanswered. Many times it went unasked, yet it was always there. Ben had plans. He had dreams. Yet in a moment, and a moment beyond his control, fatherhood was lost…and Ben was adrift. A ship without a rudder being pushed by an unknown wind….he was almost daddy.
This is an invitation to walk this path with Ben. The journey from original pain to healing is a winding, twisting road that no one should walk alone. Perhaps healing can be found and relationship restored with God.
Because alone, healing rarely comes.

Almost Daddy: The Forgotten Story

The prospect of Ben turning out highly successful in life looks like one any gambler would be foolish to bet against. Smart and resourceful, the high school senior in his final year also has high hopes for his future until he hits a major snag. He gets his girlfriend, who is two years his high school junior, pregnant. On her mother’s advice, they opt for an abortion. Both lovers’ young hearts cave under the pressure of their action, and they ultimately part ways. Ben is now a man secretly running from the intimidating shadows of guilt and shame. His frantic attempts to fill the gaping hole in his heart lead him down a dreary path of darkness, loneliness, and recklessness. No one understands why this once-promising young man is on a downward spiral, not even he does. But it all began after he almost became a daddy.

Almost Daddy by Gregory Mayo is a fictitious story centered on the trauma of losing a child to abortion. It’s a sensitive topic that has caused divisions in many quarters. Interestingly, Mayo doesn’t approach the issue from either standpoint we often see, the two extremes of right and wrong. He’s more concerned with pointing out the effect of the act on the people involved. To do this, he weaves a deeply touching tale.

The book takes us on a journey through the complexities of emotions and how unresolved issues can shape our lives. The prospect of dealing with the pain that comes from major negative experiences tends to chase us into the arms of escapism. We try to numb the pain or distract ourselves, but it’s buried deep somewhere, choking us ever so gently, till we begin to gasp for breath.

Mayo writes in simple, clear language but tells an intriguing story still. His work is yet another proof that great writing is not just about the words you use but how you use them. I was so caught up in the story that I felt I was reading a true story, maybe because the story felt authentic.

By making his characters come alive, Mayo ensures that you are emotionally invested in the story. I was steeply immersed in Ben’s life and followed his journey keenly. At a point, I wished I could have barged into his world and forced him to make the decision that would have changed his life. That’s was how badly I wanted to see him turn a positive corner!

I really liked the thought-provoking quotes at the start of every chapter. They are concise statements packed with profound insights relevant to the story. My favorite has to be the one from John Lennon, “one thing you can’t hide is when you’re crippled inside.”

If there was an award for “an impressively tactful novel on a controversial issue,” I would nominate this book. Almost Daddy is an heart-felt and emotional novel. If you enjoy fresh, fact-based opinions conveyed through immersive stories, you’ll love this book.

Pages: 251 | ASIN: B08LDFDGXY

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This Mess You’ve Made

This Mess You've Made by [D.J. Hawkins]

In This Mess You’ve Made, author D.J. Hawkins gives the reader a story which explores themes such as depression, grief and suicide. Chapter by chapter we follow the different points of view of two high school teenagers, Savannah and Aryn. Through them we see their struggles and how they’ve almost given up on life but, after meeting each other, they’ll realize that there still might be more out there for them. Hanging onto hope, Savannah and Aryn’s relationship fuel a flame inside of each that could change everything. Their love might be exactly what’s necessary to save themselves. Darkness meets light, hatred finds love, D.J. Hawkins shares with us the possibilities of healing and recovery despite the brokenness of one’s soul.

From the very beginning Hawkin’s writing is incredibly descriptive and full of emotion. The reader is able to paint a mental picture of how the main characters see themselves and their lives. The reader gets a very clear glimpse of how broken they are, how they feel and how they view the world. Allowing the reader to be immerse in each of their stories and experience a path that goes from helplessness and loneliness to hope and love.

The importance in our existence of friendship and family is shown, given that their impact can make the difference between life and death. It was nice reading about the varying relationships: both Savannah and Aryn have supporting friends that truly care about them and try their best to cheer them on and push them through life despite their misery. When these two meet, they understand perfectly how each other feel. Their darkness is what will unite them in the first place, bringing with it the light that they very much need.

The story can be heartbreaking at times, but hope keeps the reader wanting to see where everything is going to lead to in the end. I only wish that we had been able to see a bit more of the characters’ personalities, in particular of Savannah’s, but I guess that everything that she had to go through didn’t allow for her to show or develop much of herself. On another side, it was great to follow Savannah and Aryn’s relationship growth, which made me want to read more about them together, because the story was so much more deep and passionate when they’re on the page.

This Mess You’ve Made is a riveting coming of age romance novel that examines mental illness, recovery, and the importance of healthy relationships in an engaging and thought-provoking way.

Pages: 228 | ASIN: B08KTLVKPN

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Follow My Lead

Follow My Lead by [Hannah Blowers]

Follow My Lead by Hannah Blowers is a romance novel featuring a steamy love triangle in the small coastal town of Waterville, Massachusetts. Elisa Roberts is a professional ballet dancer returning to her hometown from New York after sustaining a life changing injury that impedes her from continuing her dancing career. Her otherwise peaceful and nostalgic return gets complicated when she runs into her childhood crush, Christian, who has only ever seen her as his cousin’s best friend; something Elisa is desperate to change. When she runs into sexy gym owner Derrick, who just so happens to be secretly in love with her best friend, they form a fake relationship to inspire jealousy in their respective crushes. What she doesn’t expect is to actually catch feelings for the arrogant yet sweet Derrick who pushes her to the limit and equals her level of humor and intellect. Both of them share a special connection that they’ll soon have to admit. Sometimes what we really want is closer than we think.

I think that Follow My Lead is a charming book. This is something that I think many people will call a comfort read. The plot is simple and easy to follow as it consists of only the love triangle between Elisa, Christian, and Derrick. Elisa is a great character, funny and witty when need be but relatable in most aspects. She is just like any other girl looking for love. Though the story is filled with fun descriptions and humorous banter between the characters, the plot itself is a bit reminiscent of other new adult romance novels, or the heartfelt loves stories found on the Hallmark channel.

Overall, Follow My Lead is light and fun to read, despite the predictability of the story. The characters are well developed and distinguishable in their personalities. While I would have appreciated one or two good twists, the light humor and fluid storyline makes this book perfect for a beach read. This is a book that will easily be enjoyed by fans of contemporary romance stories, and is perfect if your looking for a book that will leave you smiling.

Pages: 265 | ASIN: B08M7KBH34

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Everyone Had Tragedy

Zachary Ryan Author Interview
Zachary Ryan Author Interview

Cutthroat Cheerleader follows a bully who dies and is given the chance to look back at how her life affected the people around her. How long did you have the idea for this novel and what made you decide to start writing?

I had the idea kind of come forward while I was writing High School Queens. I have really loved this campy caddy novels, but I really wanted to add murder to it. With covid happening, I’ve had a bunch of time to write. I just really didn’t want to write a depressing novel while our world is a huge dumpster fire right now.

What were some ideas that informed Madison’s revelations throughout the story?

I think her seeing everyone’s life behind closed doors. What I always add to my novels is the theme, don’t judge a book by its cover. I feel like we all have our own struggles, and we don’t really know what someone’s going through unless we look behind all the closed doors. She realized everyone had tragedy, and I hurt a lot of people along the way. She made Mark be two different guys, and she made Chad be the stereotypical jock. These two were unhappy because they were playing the same game book as Madison to survive high school.

What scene from the book was the most challenging for you to write?

I think for me it was the plot twist when you realized one of the characters wasn’t crazy, and it had to be when the murderer was revealed. I think both I wanted to live up to the hype that I created in the novel.

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

I’m working on a book called Playlist. I have wanted to write this novel for honestly over ten years. It’s a love story between two characters and my love for my music. It should be out in the summer. I’m just having too much fun with Cutthroat that I’m not ready to publish just yet another novel.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

In the sleepy town of Townsend, Washington, there was an act so gruesome that no one would ever be the same. What heinous crime do I speak of? Skylar Torres thinking she could pull off a crop top with that pudgy body of hers. Oh, did you think I was going to say my murder. Well, I thought it was more sensational than anything else, but the real scandal was who killed me and why.

You should already know my name since it was on everyone’s lips once they found me with my throat ripped out. People thought they should have only feared me, but the Liberty Lion’s cheer squad knew one thing, hunt or be hunted.

No one’s hands were truly clean from all the dirt and blood on them. Be safe, watch your back and always remember, Happy Hunting.

Love
Madison Taylor

Explore All Literature

Eleanor Tremayne Author Interview
Eleanor Tremayne Author Interview

High Tea with Ophelia is a contemporary fiction novel that explores romance and relationships through an interaction with literary characters. What inspired you to write a novel on this subject?

What inspired me to write High Tea with Ophelia is my dedication, and love of literature. As a retired high school, and college English teacher I know how important literature is to expanding our points of view on all issues in life. If I can continue to spark interest with my readers to explore all literature, I feel that I have contributed to making our world a better place to live.

I enjoyed the blending of novels within this story, especially your own works. Will readers see more of this integration in your future books?

Including my novel, Destiny Revisited, was at first a risky consideration. I was implying that my work is worthy of study, as much as the other novels, and play that I chose. Some may regard this as being arrogant., However, I hope that I was able to establish that contemporary writers are also a work in progress. What I mean by this, is that many indie writers someday may share the same bookshelves with great literature and even be taught in the classroom. I hope that my novels will be among those selected.

I felt like this novel did a good job of exploring a variety of social issues. Was this intentional or incidental to telling the story you wanted to tell?

High Tea with Ophelia was a delightful novel to write. I recently moved to St. Augustine, Florida in 2019 , the oldest city in the United States. Being able to research this amazing town, and using many actual sites in the novel, I hope will encourage people to enjoy this city while reading the novel. Although sequels are not my favorite writing project, I did write Destiny Revealed when many of my readers wanted to learn more about Gabriella Girard. My next novel, Journey of the Agape, wii include more references to St. Augustine, and definitely literary characters, but with a different slant. I hope to have that novel completed by next summer.

Author Links: Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Website

How often have you ever wanted to meet one of your favorite literary characters in person? Dr. Sabriel Shelley, a Literature Professor who relocates, from New Orleans to St. Augustine, Florida when her husband dies unexpectedly not only meets one of her favorite characters, she meets five.Ophelia, who steps out of the Hamlet play, explains to Sabriel one afternoon at tea , that this reunion of literary characters is similar to the Jelekyl Ball in the musical, Cats, by Andrew Lloyd Webber. What happens next is a series of exciting experiences that enlightens Sabriel and the community she lives in.High Tea with Ophelia, is a blend of fantasy and literary appreciation. Eleanor Tremayne, award winning author of four novels, goes beyond the restrictions of clinical analysis, allowing her reader to meet these well known characters in a new light.Mrs. Tremayne also takes advantage of the ancient St. Augustine setting, inviting her readers to explore all this city has to offer, from the famous Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, to The Fountain of Youth, to Otttis Castle. It is an adventure like no other, and one that you will want to share with others.

Sharing Heartbreaks and Success

Denise Ann Stock
Denise Ann Stock Author Interview

Random Summer Storms follows the Conners family to Florida where they weather the storm of life together. What were some sources that informed this books development?

I looked up the history of the city of Jacksonville before I started to write this story. I also talked with different people and asked them to share some of the pivotal moments in their lives that made them strong or broke them down. Listening to people and sharing heartbreaks and successes inspired this book.

The relationship between Dee and Ian is an interesting one. What were some obstacles you felt were important to their development?

It is important to me that people relate to my characters, that they believe the character as real. I wanted them to seem perfect but not at the same time.

This was an interesting book that felt more like a memoir. Was there anything from your own life that you used in the novel?

My husband and I have kids and we did move from California to Florida. My style of writing is to narrate as if I am the character. People often ask me if I am Dee. We have had family drama over the years as most families do. Fortunately not at this level. I dedicated the book to my nephew who died of a drug overdose. I incorporated a fictional family to bring awareness to this crisis in America.

This is book three in your series. What can readers expect in book four?

Action and Adventure. I think the Connors need to Travel…

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Life can sometimes be a collection of random storms that we must weather, like ships at sea. Families maneuver these storms throughout their lives.
Ian and Dee Conner share the storms their family members experience in this third book of a series. The Conners are a close-knit family of five who live in a beach community, enjoying surfing, biking, and doing what most families do. Together they weather some tumultuous storms.
The couple tried to run from a big storm they created in California, moving to the east coast of Florida to start over and raise their family. They shut away the skeletons of their past, never telling anyone their secrets.
Other skeletons appear on both sides of Ian and Dee’s family trees, but often these skeletons (storms) are what bring families together.
Eventually, Ian and Dee realize that nothing can stop a raging storm: They must face the past to have a future. Their family and children must chart their own course in life. It may not always be what they hoped, but one day the storm will end, and the waters will calm. That is, until the next Random Summer Storms.

Live In The Moment

Ryan Standley
Ryan Standley Author Interview

To the Top of Greenfield Street is a compelling coming of age story about a teen starting a new life in a small town in the 90’s. What was the inspiration for the setup to this fascinating story?

My story was unexpectedly inspired by a coming of age pop song, “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran. The lyrics resonated with me and I began writing about similarly misbehaved teens from my hometown, but I struggled to find a clear beginning/ending setup. Then lightning literally struck, a block away from my house, and a beautiful, gigantic church burned to the ground, the tragedy that’s described in the first paragraphs, as Eric’s home. While I watched the church burning I knew their insurance would never cover a rebuild and the parishioners would be uprooted like Eric.

Eric is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Thanks! I knew Eric had to be innocent, and somewhat naive, so his traits could change over a short time and carve out his journey. In early drafts, Eric came off as arrogant. He needed the self-loathing, and the insecurity of being overweight, which were also traits that could be shed quickly at his age. Plus, from an actor’s vocab, I wanted Eric to “live in the moment” and let the conflicts be real-time discoveries

What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

Classic themes like appreciating what you have, and hard work pays off were deeply anchored in the plot. I had fun exploring the circumstantial morality, loyalty, and whimsical hope of teenagers. I wanted to show how rumors spread and fade while the history of a town remains solid. Above all, honesty and trust were huge, so the events and dialog had to ring true.

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

Right now I’m working on another coming of age novel tentatively titled “Better Out West,” about a college dropout who finds love and inspiration, gets dragged back into the dark world of substance abuse, and has to claw himself free again. Sounds pretty rugged but there’s a lot of hope there too. Should be available next fall.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

After tragedy strikes, Eric Daniels, age 15, must start over in a small town, where rumors fly and trouble follows. Though shy at heart, Eric meets neighborhood kids, builds his reputation, and excels at his first job. Then as soon as he lands his first kiss, he is betrayed and attacked by a jealous friend. Like most teens, Eric wants happiness, love and independence. He finds everything he ever wanted on Greenfield Street, but how long can it last?

TO THE TOP OF GREENFIELD STREET is an honest unveiling of the teenage spirit, a sensational coming-of-age tryst, and an uplifting example of starting over. Standley writes with an irresistible blend of action, humor, disgust and nostalgia. Set in the sleepy town of Freeport, IL, in 1993, the novel speaks to the teenagers in the midst of their heartaches, and to the adults who will never forget theirs.
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