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The Truth Is More Sinister

Chris Kelsey
Chris Kelsey Author Interview

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal follows a suspended police chief who is pulled into an old unsolved case that turns into a murder investigation with ties to powerful people. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

In a somewhat oblique way, the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre inspired this one. I grew up in Oklahoma in the 1970s, a time when explicit racism in the south (and I consider Oklahoma part of the deep south) was a way of life. I was in my 40s before I ever heard of the Tulsa massacre. Can you imagine something like that being covered up for so long? The coverup in Ain’t Nothin’ Personal is similar. The only African-American family in town has their house burned down. They disappear and people think they just moved away. No one talks about if for years, until an old racist makes a death bed confession and everyone realizes the truth is more sinister.

Emmett Hardy is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

Emmett’s a mixture of crime fiction/film archetypes: the plain-spoken dispenser of frontier justice in the tradition of Will Kane in High Noon or the title character in Shane; the enigmatic, emotionally tortured detective in Phillip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels; the socially conscious righter of wrongs that you find on Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowell’s Beck mysteries. I should also mention Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn in Tony and Anne Hillerman’s books, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire, as well as all the classic hard drinkers in noir literature, from Sam Spade to Phillip Marlowe to the twisted misfits found in every Jim Thompson story. What they all have in common (with the exception of Thompson’s creations), is their drive to do what they think is the right thing, regardless of the consequences to themselves.

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

Do the right thing. Love each other, love yourself. Greed is not good. Power corrupts. Be kind; we’re all in this together.

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

My next one is the fourth Emmett Hardy mystery, Junker Blues. It’s in the hands of my beta readers as we speak. It fast-forwards from where Ain’t Nothin’ Personal ends in the late ‘60s to the day Richard Nixon resigns the presidency in 1974. The OPEC oil embargo has rejuvenated the oil industry. Emmett’s Burr, Oklahoma is now a boom town. With the boom come ingredients for the inevitable bust, however—not least, an illegal drug problem and attendant violence the small rural community is ill-equipped to deal with. It’s scheduled to be released in June 2022 by Black Rose Writing.

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After a kidnap-for-hire plot results in the death of a young boy, Burr police chief Emmett Hardy blames himself and has an alcohol-fueled breakdown. His life at a crossroads, Hardy checks into the hospital for treatment, only to discover upon his release that he’s been suspended from duty. When a dying prisoner contacts him about a long-forgotten unsolved case, Emmett-temporarily at loose ends-begins an informal investigation.

Soon he becomes a target of violence himself, as his investigation becomes a murder probe implicating the most powerful men in town. Hardy is forced to relive one of the most traumatic events of his childhood, and faces the possibility that members of his own family may have been involved in the crime.

Ultimately, with Emmett’s tenuous grasp on sobriety slipping and his moral foundation shifting beneath his feet, the answer to the question, “Who do I trust?” becomes a matter of life and death.

The Women’s Meeting

The Women’s Meeting by [J. E. London]

The Women’s Meeting by J.E. London combines crime thriller, mystery, and psychological fiction to portray the cutthroat world of insatiable men, the shocking and uncomfortable aspects of humanity, and the irrevocable effect of devious crimes on the victim. Dr. Angela Morrison, a psychologist in Washington D.C., facilitates the women’s meetings at the Church with four women who all have been victimized by sexual exploitation, intimidation, neglect, and silence they restrict within themselves. She recognizes aspects of her mother in each of these women and aims to help them find themselves and their truth; however, she finds herself searching for her own truth, with the grim truth coming out in ways incomprehensible to both her and the reader until the very end.

This is an ensemble story, and each character feels both unique but relatable. The characters relive their experiences through flashbacks, recalling some disturbing situations and scenes, but each one has an essence of truth that carries a larger message. While Earnestine, Candace, and Toni may represent hapless and forlorn victims, I personally connected with Anita and her domestic abuse, but they all inspire remorse in the reader.

The message in the book that I feel should be embraced is the practice of will and determination combined with the aid of a therapist to come out of the dark past without solely relying on prayers and divinity to get us through it. Among the devious and disturbing stories of men deceptively dressed in angelic clothing, I appreciate that the author also showcases the trustworthy and humane side of the male gender. There is not only a relief for the women in the story to be around men like Kyle and Dr. Atkins, but I also felt they brought much-needed goodness to the story, representing that evil lies in intent rather than in man.

The part of the book that is uncomfortably vivid and made me squirm is the abundance of explicit descriptions of lustful passion, rapes, and sexual interplay with women and young girls. It is hard to believe that such conduct occurs in this world, so easily overlooked, affecting the victims’ futures and souls, but it does and the truth reflected in these stories is what made me squirm, not the literature that conveyed the message so skillfully.

From beginning to end this novel is filled with drama and intrigue. The revelation of Angela’s grim and unsettling secret at the end of the story caught me by surprise. While the novel is dark and reveals the unfortunate hardships hidden behind the glamorous veil of hypocrisy, it also conveys a message to be grateful for the taken-for-granted comforts of life such as family, friends, and shelter.

The Women’s Meeting is an emotionally charged story that is ultimately uplifting and always entertaining. I would caution readers as there is mature content in the book, but if you can handle it then I believe you are going to enjoy the intriguing characters and profound themes explored within.

Pages: 412 | ASIN: B081DNQCJT

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Everything All At Once

Everything All At Once by [Ivy Cayden]

Everything All at Once is part of Ivy Cayden’s Chorduroys and Too Many Boys series. Here Cayden paints a fresh and interesting narrative portraying all the ups and downs of teenage life. It’s filled-to-the-brim with interesting characters and twisting plot developments. This riveting story follows our main character, Kila Lorens, and how she navigates her way through relationships and teenage life in general. Cayden paints a vivid and realistic picture of teenage life. The worries and trials and tribulations young people typically face are things often forgotten as we get older, like worrying about our first kiss, heartbreak, and losing friends. The book does a fantastic job of capturing the emotional turmoil of that time in our lives. Young people will undoubtedly find themselves relating to parts of this story, and adults will be treated to waves of embarrassing yet-somehow-comforting nostalgia.

Aspects of this book felt very personal and raw, cringy in a good way, but the nostalgia brought it back to being charming. I thoroughly enjoyed being thrown back into my younger years through this book. My favorite element of this book was the addition of an accompanying playlist; each song assigned to a part of the story. Alongside Cayden’s descriptive imagery and detail, the music added a fantastic depth to the events. I felt far more immersed and connected to the mood and the character’s conflicts while listening to the songs they were listening to in the story. All the songs were clearly selected carefully to fit the tone of the event, and they all fit perfectly. With Cayden’s great knowledge of music, hosting an indie music blog, I was not at all surprised to find so many fantastic hidden gems in this playlist. I truly adored this element of the book, alongside the story itself, because of how much more it added to it. This element really set it apart from other typical teen-fiction I’ve read in the past.

Everything All At Once is a charming and emotionally stirring novel. The immersive and relatable conflicts were so exciting and addictive that I found myself unable to put the book down! I would love to read more of Cayden’s work in the future.

Pages: 496 | ASIN: B07NZ115DG

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That SOB Deserved That!

Gary Hickman
Gary Hickman Author Interview

The Light Reapers follows an elite team on a mission to rescue a scientist while battling hordes of zombies. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I initially wrote the story during COVID and I was thinking about how the zombies were created. As I thought through different options, the media kept saying CORONA Virus and that stuck with me. For my first book, I wanted to write something that I was familiar with but also wanted to have fun with it. I have always loved zombies since I first saw Dawn of the Dead (the original). Zombies and the military seemed like a good combination. I mean, plenty of people had done it before successfully, so why not me? There are actually quite a few events in the book that were based on real life. The fighting, the tactics used, the interactions between some of the characters all had a significant influence on what I wrote. There are a few of the characters who are based on real people I served with. I obviously removed the enemies and put in the infected, changed the names and locations due to counterintelligence reasons, but most were still based on truth.

This seemed like a fun book to write. What scene in the story did you have the most fun writing?

Chapter 19, the scene with Randy. I didn’t like writing the situation so much, but the end result I had quite a bit of pleasure writing. Something in most books that aggrivates me is the vilan causes all this pain and suffering only to be shot dead to fall off a building. I wanted there to be some moments in the book where people said, “Yeah!”, that SOB deserved that!

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

Brotherhood of the soldiers. Acceptance of the others whowere not originally part of the team. Retribution on those who chose to do evil, even though the apocalypse was on them. Just shows some people’s true character. I wanted to show that even though there lies no obligation to people, they stucktogetherand made a life as best they could.

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

I am working on the sequel to The Light Reapers, this one is “The Light Reapers: Fight for a New Beginning”. The book is about 80% complete as far as writing. Then comes the editing. I could have done much better on the editing of the first book, so I am hiring a professional to edit the second book.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Light Reapers are a Special Operations Unit who had served numerous campaigns together. They were an expertly trained and elite group, but could they ever prepare for what was to happen next.
Under a shroud of darkness and maliciousness, a viral weapon was being produced by an alliance of terrorists bent on the destruction of their respective enemies. When double-crossed by an ISIS faction, the viral weapon is stolen and prematurely unleashed on the planet.
Now facing a worldwide epidemic, The Light Reapers are deployed to rescue a scientist who may be able to develop an antidote. If that wasn’t difficult enough, they also must track down the ISIS faction and eliminate them. All while battling hordes of the infected.

The Prisoner’s Cross

The Prisoner’s Cross is a riveting Christian fiction novel that explores spirituality in our every day lives. Author Peter B. Unger provides readers with a thought-provoking book that questions faith only to forge a path towards a renewed inspiration in that same faith.

Afflicted with rage due to the death of the only members of his family he ever loved and the deeply traumatic events that occurred in his childhood, the reasons of which may be incomprehensible to a mere mortal, our protagonist, Don Campbell, manifests his despair in destructive ways. The Prisoner’s Cross chronicles Don’s journey towards a renewed faith and trust in the invariable love and goodwill of Christ.

Author Peter B. Unger, a UCC pastor who holds a graduate degree in psychology of religion, has written a compelling tale that examines the universal question regarding the inexplicable sufferings of mankind and the corruption of one’s faith in God. I think Don represents the people of faith who seem stuck in a perpetual state of being confused and overexcited by differences in values and beliefs that exist within different sects of religion, to the point that they analyze faith to such an extent that they sacrifice its essence.

The book is able to break down and portray complex ideas into easy to understand situations that will appeal to younger audiences. The reader anticipates Jop’s experiences as a POW in World War 2 as much as Don does. In addition, Don’s reflections during his interview with Jop enrich the reader’s understanding of the subject. Don’s friendship with Tom and Cindy, Jop’s faith experience, and McCall’s assistance, all of which shapes Don’s spiritual life, provided me with a glimpse of different types of love God has for all of us.

The Prisoner’s Cross is a spiritually invigorating read that leaves the reader with a lot to ponder. Besides the traditional dogmatic faith, it exposes the faith dissipating under the weight of rational and scientific values. Professors’ unwillingness to entertain questions challenging their adamant views is also portrayed in Professor Wilson’s attitude. While the author unravels Don’s complex character, the book also shows how unhealthy relationship experiences manifest themselves later in life. I think this book is written for those who want to grow in their understanding of God’s grace and experience it in new and interesting ways.

Pages: 180 | ISBN: 1532696132

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Redemption 2

Redemption 2: Allison's Revenge (The Mike Parsons Trilogy) by [Malcolm Tanner]

Redemption 2: Allison’s Revenge by Malcolm Tanner is the first installment in the Mike Parsons Trilogy Book series, Redemption, where betrayal and lost trust pave the way for intense action. Detective Allison Branch is seeking revenge, and Mike Parsons is fully aware of her covert-like ways. Her intentions are specific, but he must stay one step ahead and devise a plan of his own to gain the advantage. It is a question of strategy and determining when she will strike next.

The author dives right into the storyline and maintains a consistent pace, picking up where Mike Parsons will inevitably face the wrath of Allison, who will stop at nothing to plot against him. He must calculate how to survive the chaos that lies ahead and decide if there is a worthwhile journey towards redemption. Character development is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this series, and how each of them is layered to reveal many details of deceit and motives beneath. No one is left unscathed, as narration does an excellent job of showing the humanity of some and the maniacal, power-hungry vengeance of others. The story’s pace will keep readers engaged, with exciting twists and shifts and characters to keep the plot exciting and intense.

This is a definite page-turner that keeps the reader guessing and eager to discover what is on the horizon. The characters are deep and complex, which only draws you in more as you read. Redemption 2: Allison’s Revenge is well-narrated, with a thrilling plot, exciting and complicated characters, and suspenseful development that keeps you glued to the book and ready for the next surprise.

This is a riveting crime thriller that is relentlessly moving forward and gives mystery fans plenty of twists and turns and details to keep them fully engaged with this fascinating story.

Pages: 399 | ASIN: B0867P9M2S

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Different Than I Imagined

Author Interview
Jonathan Durham Author Interview

Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends who discover the truth behind their favorite story is darker and more dangerous than they imagined. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’m always interested in telling stories that are based in reality but twist on genre conventions…stories that begin in a normal, recognizable world, but end up somewhere completely different. I wish there was some blinding moment of clarity that sparked this particular story, but there really wasn’t…I was just sitting around one day and wondered how I would feel if I went to The Hundred Acre wood and found that the animals from Winnie the Pooh were actually real…and then I wondered what would happen if they were actually completely different that I imagined them to be…and then I basically just began branching that idea off into darker and darker directions until I felt I had something interesting enough to develop. My process is utterly mechanical, so the answer to the inspiration question is always disappointingly unromantic lol.

Your characters are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Well, I wanted them to feel familiar but also fresh, but they also needed to be complex and scarred and duplicitous in a way…they needed to present themselves as one thing but be another completely different thing in reality for the story to function correctly. One of the things that helped me shape them though is that initially I wanted each of them to represent a different mental health issue that I sometimes struggle with—depression, anxiety, imposter syndrome, and OCD—and though that turned out ot be more of a seed than a rule to follow as they developed, you can still see the footprint of that idea in their makeup.

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

This book is in large part about the gray of the world—the double edges that most things have. In that respect, I wanted to explore the dangers as well as the wonderful parts of nostalgia, the ups and downs of family history, and accordingly, both the pros and the cons of having a family in the first place lol. Apart from that, I always find the dynamic between power and perversion interesting as well as the lasting impact of those that have passed on…and of course, it’s no secret that this book deals a lot with the scars of our upbringings and how they shape us throughout our lives.

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

Well, I’m still in the development process for a few different stories, so it’s a bit early on in the game to say… but it’s either going to be a dark thriller with the framing of historical fiction, or another contemporary dark fantasy set in the world of moviemaking…either way it should be ready to roll late next year, so keep an eye out!

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Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment. Everyone has wished to meet their favorite characters, if only for a day. But be careful in that wish, for even a history laid in ink can be repaid in flesh and blood, and reality is far deadlier than fiction . . . especially on Addington Isle.
Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends to the place that inspired their favorite book—a timeless tale about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival. But after a series of shocking discoveries, they find that much of what the world believes to be fiction is actually fact, and that the truth behind their beloved story is darker and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It’s Barley Day . . . and you’re invited to the hunt.
Winterset Hollow is as thrilling as it is terrifying and as smart as it is surprising. A uniquely original story filled with properly unexpected twists and turns, Winterset Hollow delivers complex, indelible characters and pulse- pounding action as it storms toward an unforgettable climax that will leave you reeling. How do you celebrate Barley Day? You run, friend. You run.

Magdelena’s Choice – Book Trailer

Fresh-baked muffins fragrant with ripe blueberries . . . cinnamon-scented turnovers that transform any meal into a feast. . . . In 1914 Ohio, the Amish Charm Bakery holds a special place within its close-knit, faith-filled community, where love finds a way through God’s grace . . .

As the daughter of a wealthy rancher, Magdelena Beachy may not truly need her job at the Amish Charm Bakery, but she enjoys tending to customers, be they neighbors or curious Englischers. Only one thing would make life sweeter, and that’s if Toby Schlabach would court her. It’s not just his dimples and smile that warm Magdelena’s heart—she admires his kindness and values. Yet she worries their chance may slip away . . .

With his daed ill and his mother and sister depending on him, Toby can’t yet offer Magdelena the future she deserves. But even as he nears his goal, he learns her father has arranged a match with another suitor. Magdelena risks shunning if she goes against her family. Choosing a path will take courage as well as faith—in God’s plan, and in this steadfast, tender love . . .

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