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Casualties and Survivors

Casualties & Survivors takes this stance: life cannot be seen as black and white, as every situation always has gray areas. One could argue that there will always be casualties and survivors, whether the loss of a friendship or an opportunity. However, there are times when people die, leaving behind the survivors, who must endure the loss.

In a series of short stories, Len Joy takes the reader on a journey of lost love, opportunities, and coping with the void of someone no longer around. While there is a backdrop of tragedy and melancholy to each tale, each story presents new opportunities for the survivors, though not always in the way they expect. You’ll encounter tales of an artist coping with the loss of his lifelong love, only to experience another side of this journey with a surprising twist. Another tale follows how a couple develops a relationship over a simple object, a trash can.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and each story’s unique plot and character dilemmas. While some of the stories were shorter than others, I mainly found them more gut-punching and vivid, as they quickly built momentum and anticipation of what was to come. Other stories were a bit longer, which allowed for more character and setting descriptions, leaving a strong visual impression of well-crafted scenes, such as a Christmas tree lot, the naked winter yoga, and an artist’s sparsely furnished apartment. Len Joy creates lasting moments that stay behind with the reader for a fantastic reading experience.

Len Joy’s writing style is clear and concise, which makes for easy, enjoyable reading. The recurring message in Joy’s stories is gut-wrenching, realistic, reassuring, and comforting. The author leaves the reader curious about each character’s future and what’s in store for them. While, at times, the author uses explicit language in some scenes, fans of short stories will enjoy the loosely threaded stories and how they interact with each other throughout the book. 

Pages: 178 | ASIN: B0B92QYYYV

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A Life Changed Forever

Len Joy Author Interview

Dry Heat follows a high school jock who is arrested for attempted murder while the real criminal goes missing, and he must make choices that will alter the course of his future. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Back in the 90s I had an engine rebuilding company in Phoenix. The son of one of my employees was arrested and charged with shooting at an off-duty police officer during a highway altercation. The actual shooter escaped and despite having no record, the boy was facing a trial where he could be sentenced to jail for ten years. His family had to make an instant decision to take a plea deal for three years. So instead of college he went to prison.

The agony for the boy and his parents of having to make that kind of instant decision was something that stuck with me. A stupid mistake and bad luck and a life is changed forever.

Joey has a really bad day that only gets worse as the story goes on. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Joey is a good person and he’s trying to do the right thing, but he’s facing pressures he’s never faced before and he keeps making bad decisions. I wanted the story to be a cautionary tale, but also a hopeful one. Joseph (the adult Joey) makes a new life for himself. He finds redemption and has not given up on love.

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

Loyalty. Family ties. Friendship. The enduring power of love.

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

I am about 2/3 through the first draft of a novel titled, “Freedom’s Just Another Word…” It takes place in 2018 and is the story of fictional Chicago Tribune columnist, Jake Doyle, who fell from grace years ago (had an affair and a child with his twenty-year- old intern) and is struggling to survive in the newspaper world of the 21st century. When the new billionaire owner of the Tribune recruits Jake to help him with his campaign to run for president, Jake must decide whether to go along or get out.

I am hoping it will be available by the end of 2023.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Indeed | Twitter | Instagram

The day All-American Joey Blade turns 18, he learns his ex-girlfriend is pregnant, is betrayed by his new girlfriend, and is arrested for the attempted murder of two police officers. Then things get bad.

The high school bonfire is supposed to be the kickoff to a great night: Joey has just won a football scholarship and he’s hoping for a sex breakthrough with his new girlfriend. Then his true love–but ex-girlfriend–Mallory tells his she’s pregnant. He’s reeling from that news when the bonfire explodes.

Joey, his new girlfriend and her drug dealer friend TJ, flee in her truck. When the police pursue, TJ shoots at the cop’s car. It crashes and in the ensuing chaos TJ slips away undetected. Joey, the only adult in the truck, is hauled off to jail.

Joey is charged with attempted murder and released on bail. TJ is nowhere to be found. When Joey discovers that Mallory’s father is pressuring her to terminate the pregnancy, Joey has to remain free to prevent that from happening. In desperation, he reaches out to notorious gang leader, Chico Torres, whom he met in jail, for help locating TJ.

When Joey is offered a deal–his freedom in exchange for his cooperation in nailing Chico–he faces a decision that will change the course of his life and Mallory’s.

Dry Heat

Things are not going so well for Joey Blade. On the night of his birthday, the girl he lost his virginity to, Mallory, tells him she’s pregnant. While at the high school bonfire, there is an explosion. Joey flees with his current girlfriend Wendy and her drug-dealing friend TJ. In their race to escape the explosion, they wind up in a police chase where TJ shoots at the police cars. The ensuing crash leads to Joey being arrested while Wendy goes free and TJ has disappeared. Once getting out of jail, Joey enlists the help of notorious gang leader Chico Torres to find TJ and – ultimately – redemption. 

Len Joy’s chaotic novel Dry Heat doesn’t hold back when it comes to colorful terms and edgy commentary. Joy accurately portrays the stereotypical teenager from the late nineties that you find in cult classic films of that period. There is a feeling of nostalgia that readers in their late 30’s and early 40’s will identify with. The early scenes of this action-packed novel offer a foreshadowing of the rest of the book. Excitement and drama fill the pages to come, and readers will have to hold on because it will be a wild ride.

This enthralling novel feels like a cautionary tale for teenagers. A story where every wrong decision imaginable is made. Readers may find it is all too real and relatable, encountering a situation that is too big for their age. At one point, author Len Joy describes Joey’s day as a disastrously mishandled situation, which is the perfect way to describe it. Reading this shocking at times novel will give readers the feeling of watching a car wreck in slow-motion. You are hooked; you know it will happen; you just have to read and see how it all plays out.

Joy took time and care to flesh out the characters and make readers develop an emotional attachment to them. They all have a bit of the classic high school stereotypes in them, something many readers will identify with. There’s Darville, the rich kid; Mallory, the tragically promiscuous girl; Wendy, the snotty prom queen; and of course, the hero Joey, the jock. Yet, throughout the story, they grow, change, and transcend what we have come to expect from their assigned stereotypes. We learn that they’re human, which every good novel should achieve.  

Dry Heat is a coming-of-age novel that will attract readers interested in crime thrillers and suspenseful action drama. With edgy dialogue and action, readers will be turning the page of this riveting novel to see if Joey can get himself out of the mess he is in.

Pages: 313 | ASIN : B097TT97SQ

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