Blog Archives

Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year

Colton, a 14-year-old boy, lives with his dads. Being an only child, he is adored and doesn’t need to be corrected very often. Colton is dealing with the difficulties of adolescence, which can be challenging. The year seems to be jam-packed with events, from him and his best friends becoming involved in a shoplifting case, losing his cousin, and him developing a crush while on vacation. Colton yearns to see his surrogate mother, and his fathers are unsure of what Colton’s sexual orientation will be. He will experience a mental shift as a result of the pandemic and his encounter with the Saxton family. In any case, his parents are committed to guiding him toward becoming a good person.

Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year is a emotionally-resonant account of a young black boy who experiences racism and discrimination. Having two gay fathers does not improve the situation in a society that once forbade homosexuality. This impassioned book provides thoughtful insight into what it’s like to encounter prejudice based on race. Colton is a wonderful character. He’s smart, curious, compassionate, and adventurous. His parents’ unique love story and complementary personalities make for a compelling read all on their own. Colton is determined to avoid disappointing his parents, despite the ups and downs of adolescence. The author has done a fantastic job of accurately conveying the emotions of the characters which makes them feel authentic and relatable. There were many fascinating characters whose presence elevated the story and I think readers will be drawn in by the young character’s youthful mischief.

Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year is a compelling mix of teen drama, romance, friendship, and love. The well-crafted plot moved along smoothly, and the characters felt familiar yet unique. This stirring coming-of-age story is short and easy to read, making it accessible to a wide audience. Young adults will find this LGBTQ romance novel relevant and entertaining. I recommend Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year to teenagers and adults who enjoy reading young adult fiction that has heart and something to say.

Pages: 239 | ASIN: B0BRVFQLWM

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Most Famous Short Film of All Time

Literature such as this is needed in today’s world. This is a unique and thoughtful book that conveys several messages that are important in contemporary society. A cross between literary fiction and philosophy, this is a wholly unique experience that will leave readers pondering well after they put the book down.

The first thing I’ll say about Most Famous Short Film of All Time is that it is an extraordinary piece like no other book that I have read. The story jumps around over a few years with a variety of circumstances unfolding over the timespans. The format of the book will ensure readers are engaged throughout as it has an unusual structure. While the book is a bit scattered I think that once readers have immersed themselves in the book they will start to see a pattern emerge and they will appreciate the story, which is about a person going through a profound transformational journey.

This was an enlightening book with thoughtful observations on life and insight into being transgender. Author Tucker Lieberman has done a marvelous job of bringing the transgender experience to light. As the story unfolds through this “metafiction” tale, it gives even the most closed-minded of readers an inside look at what goes on in the lives of people who make a choice in life that they feel inwardly drawn to make. While at the same time giving the reader a peek into the minds of people that actually drives one to make said choice.

Most Famous Short Story Ever can seem long from the number of pages, but this may be a result of the formatting so don’t let that turn you away. This is a good book that will open your eyes and mind to a subject that many are still uninformed about.

Pages: 922 | ASIN: B0B6Q9F19V

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An Alien Version of David Bowie

George Ander Author Interview

To Those We Found follows an alien that is sent to a world similar to Earth to investigate and report back, what he finds is corruption, greed, and a disregard for each other. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The main inspiration for the book came to me during a trip to the desert country of Morocco. I was intrigued by the language and culture of the local tribes. The Berber aka. Amazigh people. The sound and the strange geometrical symbols of their language really made me feel as if I was on a completely different world. I’ve even used their language for some of the character names and significant places/things in the book.

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the character’s personalities grow organically as you were writing?

Before I even wrote a single word, I first took one year to research everything that I could need to craft the world of the book. Apart from astrophysics, orbital mechanics, engineering, and biology the topics ranged from economics to psychology, philosophy and religion. I wasn’t aiming to create a believable world, to me, it had to be real. But simultaneously characters came into my mind that could populate the world. Some were inspired by people I know from everyday life, but there also other, larger than life people that influenced my characters. Stars like Freddie Mercury and David Bowie were one of the most dominant figures to draw from. While writing the main character Taman Yedder I even imagined an alien version of David Bowie. But personality wise, there’s a lot of me in it of course.

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

One of the main themes that were driving my story was the concept of truth. In our world, there seems to be an infinite number of truths, depending on what line of evidence or philosophy you follow or the political stance you take. I think that aspect played a large part in the way I designed the world characters and plot of the story.

The second theme is the idea or perception of foreign-/alienness. That’s why for example I chose my main character to be gay. Because the experience is alien to me, and I wanted to explore it, understand it. Also, the world as a whole was designed to feel real, relatable, but also strange and alien at the same time. In a way, it’s a queer mirage of our own world, populated with beings that are shockingly like us in some ways and in others not.

Just imagine staring into a telescope and discovering beings that seem to be an alien version of you.

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

Writing this book has been incredibly exhausting, mentally, physically and financially. I had a strict writing regime. I’ve forced myself to write every single day and on weekends, even if I absolutely did not want to. I literally had two full-time jobs during that writing period.

I was also aware, with English not being my first language, that I couldn’t possibly finish the project on my own. So I’ve hired professional editors who worked in the publishing industry, to make sure is up to standard.

Originally I’ve planned this book to be its own thing. But as time went by, I felt that I definitely want to continue the story as there were so many ideas that I couldn’t possibly put into one book. When that is going to happen however, I can not say at the moment. As it’s nearly impossible to sell enough books this day to be profitable. It’s always a losing game for most indie authors.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

If aliens would send a message, what would they say?
Let this book take you to a world beyond the cosmological horizon, and find the answer.

In a far-off galaxy, the purple-skinned alien, Taman Yedder, left his home colony for the motherworld Yemma.
As one among billions, he was chosen to represent his home system and compete against six other chosen ones, in a grand contest called, the Anermis-report.
A welcome message that’s intended to be sent to another species that they have discovered.
After meeting his sponsor, he embarks on a high-speed journey to locations of historical and cultural significance. This way he must capture the essence of his species. Yet on his way, angry mobs of protesters, seemingly try to stop his progress. They are terrorists, he is told.
But are they truly as evil as the government says? And will Taman survive to finish the contest?

Authors Do Make Stuff Up

Brooke Skipstone Author Interview

The Queering follows a seventy-year-old woman who shares her life story about being a lesbian through her writing and the prejudice she endures for it. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story? 

I’m a pantser, so when I start to write a book, I’m not entirely sure where the story will lead. And not entirely sure where the germ of a story originates. My last book (The Moonstone Girls) portrayed a beautiful, loving relationship between a brother and sister. In The Queering, I wanted to explore the opposite. In this case, Taylor’s brother, rather than being gay, struggles with his own loathing for gays. In other words, struggles with his own homosexual inclinations. Taylor and her best friend graduate with theatre degrees and hope to continue to live together, not as lovers, but as friends. However, her brother’s murder of a drag queen and insistence on accompanying the girls as they drive across the West forces Taylor and Brooke to worry that they will lose each other before they can express their true feelings. The idea of a post-college trip in a VW van with two girls and a man would seem full of fun and laughter. So twisting this trope into a harrowing, intensely dangerous event was key to the book. 

Additionally, the book’s first line came to me in a flash: NO ONE in the world is actually named Brooke Skipstone. What fun? Adding my own name to the mix intensified the intrigue. What if a young woman lost her girlfriend and because of the times felt she couldn’t pursue another lesbian relationship? How many women have married and had children because they were afraid to face their true identity? Taylor did the same but found herself lonely and purposeless late in life until she decided to write lesbian romances. At least her secret life could be significant even as her real life with a cheating, possessive husband devolved into lonely indifference. But when her brother is released from prison, seeking revenge, Taylor must make a choice whether to fight back and expose herself or hide until she is killed.

Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your character’s life?

Yes, there are, but I am wary of questions like these. Too often readers jump to conclusions, especially family members who try to find themselves in my characters. Authors do make stuff up. They do not write secret codes about their personal lives.

That being said, I did major in theatre and played harpsichord while my girlfriend played Viola in 12th Night. Many individuals in the theatre department (as well as music and dance) were gay and were often thought of as other by the straight group. There wasn’t blatant discrimination, but there wasn’t total acceptance either. And outside these departments, members of the LGBTQ+ community had to be very cautious.

I did travel through the West after college (though alone) and currently struggle with my family’s acceptance of my books, so I am thoroughly familiar with Taylor’s conflicts.

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

The overwhelming dominance of the patriarchy in our lives, even today. Living as your true self, no matter the cost. Love is possible even late in life. Alaska girls kick ass, literally. Trauma early in life affects everything afterward, but sometimes we find a way to cope. Young lesbians rock when they’re free to be themselves. And like my epigraph says: Those who hate queers are a threat to everyone.

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

I honestly do not know. I am waiting for an idea to hit me so hard I can not live without writing about it. I imagine I will have something ready by late summer.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Instagram

Editor’s Pick Booklife Reviews: A fast-paced yet thoughtful romance of coming out and finding love in later life in Alaska
5 Star Clarion Reviews: A riveting novel . . . about love, courage, and solidarity
Trapped between a homicidal brother and a homophobic podcaster eager to reveal her lesbian romance novels, a seventy-year-old grandmother seeks help in Clear, Alaska.

Suffocating in a loveless marriage and lonely existence, Taylor MacKenzie lives only through her writing, using the pen name Brooke Skipstone, her best friend in college and lover before her death in 1974.

Afraid of being murdered before anyone in her family or community knows her life story, Taylor writes an autobiography about her time with Brooke and shares it with those closest to her, hoping for understanding and acceptance.

Accused of promoting the queering and debasement of America by a local podcaster, Taylor embroils the conservative community in controversy but fights back with the help of a new, surprising friend.

Can she endure the attacks from haters and gaslighters? Can she champion the queering she represents?

And will she survive?

The Queering

A 70-year-old woman with long, thick hair, more brown than gray, named Taylor Baird MacKenzie writes award-winning romances from a town in Alaska. Although she had great talent, Taylor hides behind the name of another character because her books deal with issues related to lesbian liberation and her city, Clear, is made up of intolerant and prejudiced residents. During Taylor’s process of revealing herself to the world, through The Queering, we get to know her story and several characters that are capable of stirring all kinds of emotions in the reader.

Brooke Skipstone very wisely casts doubt on the veracity of the story in question. The author blends reality with fiction. One of the best examples of this is that she uses her own name as the alias of Taylor Baird. Another point is the poetic way in which Skipstone inserts another book during the narrative. It’s like reading two in one. This is a thought-provoking story that deals with some tough but necessary topics. However, it can be triggering to people who have suffered homophobic attacks. The book is intense and during some episodes I felt a great sadness for the inability to do something about it. But this is the world we live in, and Brooke Skipstone does a fantastic job of reflecting that reality in the story.

The Queering is a unique story that carries a powerful message. If LGBTQ+ literature truly has the power to generate acceptance and liberation, then readers need to ensure that it is increasingly widespread. Everyone can and should have the right to be who they naturally are. This is a must read for anyone who is willing to open their eyes and live in someone else’s shoes for a while. I would like to end this review by borrowing a few words used by Brooke Skipstone on one of the pages to make a genuine wish: that we can live our lives feeling embraced by love, buoyed by daily laughter, and fully engaged with life.

Pages: 344 | ASIN: B0BJJ4LNPD

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History Was On My Side

Janet Mason Author Interview

Loving Artemis follows the lives of women who were trying to figure out who they were at a time when being LGBTQ+ was not accepted. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

When I wrote Loving Artemis, it was more than seven years ago. I didn’t know it at the time but now when I look back, I see that I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the background that I fled from. My novel, Loving Artemis, an endearing tale of revolution, love and marriage (published in 2022 by Thorned Heart Press) was the culmination of that process.

What character did you enjoy writing for? Was there one that was more challenging to write for?

Loving Artemis is fiction, but the story is based on my own experience and that of other girls who were actual people. As I told a friend, I probably gave the girls better endings than they actually had. Because the characters were based on actual people, I don’t remember it being difficult to write any of the characters. The thing that was the most difficult was getting all the history straight, so to speak. Like most writers, I tend to be more right-brained. So I really had to make sure that all the dates and facts of history were accurate. I did live through that history. Like my main character Grace (who I identified most with even though the writing was fiction, and her character was a composite), I married my partner after we were together for more than two decades.

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

In a broad sense, I explored the idea of being yourself as a young person amid a sea of conformity and how to survive. In the process, I explored the theme of growing up as young lesbians in the era where it was still “the love that dare not speak its name,” meaning that being yourself was forbidden. Not everyone got out alive.

A historian friend commented to me that I documented an important piece of history leading up to marriage equality. That history is still with us. I was amazed in 2015 when same-sex marriage was ruled by the Supreme Court of the United States to be legal nationwide.

And I was amazed today when I learned that “The Respect For Marriage Act” (protecting the right to same-sex and interracial marriage nationwide in the U.S.) was passed by the House and is expected to be signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden.

One of the themes that I didn’t think about until after the final edit of the book was empowerment. I had such a hard time growing up (like one of my main characters, Grace, I fled from my working-class conventional background) that I actually dreaded going back and editing the book. When I was through the editing process, I actually felt like I had been more empowered than I thought. Actually, I felt a little victorious. Like Grace, I had escaped into my life and history was on my side.

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

The novel I just finished writing and am still revising is a little different. It features a talking, pregnant whale telling her story—that of the beauty and importance of the sea which is her home and her process of working through her knowledge of history (especially, the history of humans hunting whales) and learning to trust some humans whose help she needs.

I tend to have a novel published every two years. Before Loving Artemis was published in 2022, my novel The Unicorn, The Mystery was published in 2020 by Adelaide Books. So I’m hoping my new novel will be published by 2024.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Artemis found the love of her life when she met Linda, but their passionate relationship fizzles when Artemis lands herself on the other side of the law. Pulling the pieces of her life together, Artemis rekindles her relationship with Linda, and together they raise a daughter.

Meanwhile, Grace, running from her past, starts a life with Thalia. At a pride parade, Grace spots someone who reminds her of Artemis, who she was briefly involved with in her youth. Old feelings are rekindled. A lifetime of rejection, abandonment, and fleeing rears its head. Now she must come to terms with her past, put her relationship with Artemis to rest–or risk losing everything.

Artemis and Grace embark on a journey of revolution, love, and marriage and discover that love finds us when we least expect it.

Get On With The Business Of Living

Daphne Birkmyer Author Interview

Maiden Voyage follows the twins as their guardian tries to keep them safe among Marcela’s gender affirming surgery and Amadeus’s future in Alaska’s fishing industry. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

Maiden Voyage, the third book in the COMFREY, WYOMING series, finds the twins standing on the cusp of adulthood. At last Marcela Crow has the body she has been seeking since early childhood. Amadeus has always been his sister’s protector and advocate, but after her surgery he feels the loss of the little boy he learned to walk with and talk with—the little boy who once looked so very much like him. Unsure of the role he now plays in Marcela’s life, disillusioned with college and struggling with the illness that claimed his mother, Amadeus leaves Wyoming and family and strikes out on his own.

For Marcela’s story, I relied heavily on a family friend, assigned female at birth, who advocated for his authentic self from a very young age. Like Marcela, he had the support of a loving family, but it couldn’t protect him from painful bullying in school. He is now a successful young man living in another part of the country, where he can maintain his privacy and get on with the business of living. His experience in school was why I deemed it crucial for Heidi, the twins’ guardian, to move the family to Comfrey, where no one would know the children were born identical, and where Marcela would be accepted as a girl.

I had rich sources of experience to call upon for Amadeus’s journey north and his immersion in Alaska’s fishing industry. A woman who travels the Alaskan Canadian highway annually with her dog shared pictures, diaries and anecdotes of her trips with me. Another person, who has worked on fishing boats in Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea for years, spent many hours sharing his experiences and answering my questions. I was so grateful I named my fishing captain after him.

I am also indebted to a college friend, who witnessed and described the gruesome accident that ended the life of one of my characters at sea. For much of his career, my friend worked as a marine scientist monitoring fishing vessels in Alaskan and Arctic waters. He often worked with Inuit observers and remains a passionate advocate for Indigenous fishing rights.

Marcela and Amadeus are intriguing and well-defined characters. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

As babies, the twins’ physical appearance, personalities and precocity were derived from a very special little boy, who joined our family for a time. He is still at the edge of my consciousness when I write about the twins, but his influence has waned as the twins have matured and taken on lives of their own.

Despite being born physically identical, Amadeus and Marcela are essentially yin and yang, opposite but interconnected forces bound by a fierce loyalty. Where Marcela is academic, grounded and artistic, Amadeus is impulsive, competitive and intimately connected to the natural world.

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

People who can communicate with the dead have always intrigued me. Three very different characters in my series maintain strong ties with departed loved ones. Heidi, the twins’ guardian, continues to commune with her deceased child. Beppe, an Italian winemaker and one of the twins’ honorary uncles, hears his grandfather’s voice as he walks his vineyards at dusk. Amadeus is aware of his mother, Nara, in the wind and the sea.     

Despite my dive into metaphysics, however, a scientific current thrums in the background of my books, the legacy of my years of teaching science. In Maiden Voyage, that current includes the genetics of Sphynx cats, the mating rituals of elk and the effect of climate change on the distribution of fish in Arctic waters. 

Another theme in Maiden Voyage is the importance of representation—LBGTQ representation, and racial representation. I am blessed to be part of a racially and gender diverse family. I hope my complex and relatable characters capture readers who may be unfamiliar with the LBGTQ community. Heidi’s cousin, Karl, and his Italian husband, Beppe, have provided her with emotional support for years. They are the strong, loyal men she turned to when she lost her baby to genetic disease in Birds of a Feather, the first book of the series. In Maiden Voyage, Karl comes to San Francisco to support Heidi after Marcela’s surgery. Beppe is the person Amadeus seeks for comfort after he suffers trauma at sea.

My trans character was introduced in the series as a young child, to make her less threatening to those who believe they have never met a transgender person. I wanted readers to bond with Marcela. I wanted them to not merely tolerate her, but to truly appreciate her, her wit, her talent and her integrity.     

To peel back a layer of white privilege, I included a young black man in Maiden Voyage to illustrate the danger and stress of driving while black. My sons are black, my nephews are black, and on my most recent trip to Wyoming for research, I drove with a black friend. The hyper-scrutiny is real, and the hyper-vigilance a person feels under that scrutiny is exhausting. My black character drives from San Francisco to Wyoming alone, always on edge, always with a feeling of dread that he’ll disappear into what he perceives as a wasteland, and never be heard of again.

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

Black Sheep, Black Sheep, Book Four of the COMFREY, WYOMING series, will be released in 2023. People from Pennsylvania, California and the Philippines join the citizens of Comfrey, and at long last, that endangered and highly venomous Midget Faded Rattlesnake alluded to in the first three books, has a significant part to play.   

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Maiden Voyage, Book Three of Daphne Birkmyer’s COMFREY, WYOMING series, finds twins, Amadeus and Marcela, on very different paths to self-discovery. As their guardian, Heidi Crow, attempts to weave a safety net as original and complex as the twins themselves, she prays it will hold through Marcela’s gender affirming surgery and Amadeus’s uncertain future in Alaska’s lucrative and dangerous fishing industry.

A richly diverse cast, including a Shakespeare-quoting street basketball player and a Chinese purveyor of pu-erh tea, joins characters already beloved by readers of the series in this transcendent tale of nontraditional family and steadfast friends. 

Making Sense Of The Insanity Of Moralities

Cristoph A. T. Author Interview

Re-birth tells the compelling story of Anessa’s reincarnation in the intriguing fantasy world of Anfang. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve been a fan of Mythology of almost every variety. As a child I was always intrigued by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and being pulled through to a new world.

Anessa is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Anessa is a logical view of what might happen to a western person should they be taken at the point of their death and placed on a new planet through divine intervention. She’s lost, confused, and must navigate a new world alone, forging new bonds, making sense of the insanity of moralities that are different from what knew she on Earth.

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

Our world is on the precipice of some vital changes to personal rights. Anfang represents an exploration of an ideal, and in future volumes I may tinker with how easily it can crumble.

The exception to this question is nobles using marriages to form bonds between families as chess pieces, but that is a component of medieval societies, not of a theme I wanted to explore.

When and where will your book be available?

Re-Birth will be available November 24, 2022, on Amazon in eBook, Paperback (black and white) and Hardback (full color). The eBook is on sale for $4.99 until 1/1/2023. The sale pricing for the paperback and hardback are beyond my control as I’ve already found out.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BHVG5ZB6 – eBook
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1959098004 – Hardback
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1959098101 – Paperback

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

A Girl. A Goddess. A world of wonder.
For Anessa, death was just the beginning…

Originally from Earth, she finds herself transported to Anfang with one question:
“How did I die?”

Reborn into a family of wealth, privilege and magic, the expectations placed on her clash with her Earthen sensibilities.

As Anessa grows into her newfound place and power, she struggles with the notions of political marriages, inane rituals, and the awareness that her biggest threat may come from within.

Who do you trust when your first life was stolen by your best friend, and your latest sin is living?

Join Anessa on her debut journey in My Own Mythology — Re-Birth; get yours now!
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