Blog Archives

I Changed People’s Ideas and Prejudices

Anne Ierardi Author Interview

Coming Alive is a vibrant and inspiring memoir that follows your journey through life and the obstacles you faced. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I began writing this book to tell stories of my life which I often did in the sermons I preached in churches which brought understanding and laughter to others. I wrote for the joy of expression and appreciation for life itself. It was important to share my voice as a gay woman pastor, counselor, and artist to empower others and to show how as part of my generation I changed people’s ideas and prejudices.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

It was hard to write about family: to freely tell “my” story without the shame and secrecy of the decades I lived through in a close-knit large extended Italian-American family. It was also the story of my older gay brother who was born in 1938 and moved to the West Coast to free himself but who never quite healed and died of AIDS.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this memoir?

  1. Be a seeker. Go outside your comfort zone and explore life fully. Astrology, psychotherapy, religious life, arts, and education were foundational for me.
  2. Do your part to be the change you wish to see in the world as Gandhi counseled. I was called to change others through my work as a pastoral counselor, artist, and LGBTQ advocate especially influencing congregations in my midst.
  3. Be a warrior for love in all its forms. Whatever hopes I aspired to as a young girl reading “Little Woman,” to be myself, to be an artist and writer, to love people, family, and others. They still inform me and are as relevant as ever in today’s world.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope my readers feel joy and humor in reading “Coming Alive.” I hope it brings new insights into embracing the possibilities in living with integrity while needing to embrace paradox.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

While standing on the seminary altar in Cambridge next to the first ordained Episcopal woman priest, Anne Ierardi was touched by the Spirit with an extraordinary call to ordination. In her inspiring and engaging memoir, Coming Alive, Ierardi writes of her efforts to honor her identity as a Catholic woman while integrating her call to the Protestant ministry. Along the way she invites us into her Italian family, studies art in Italy, and comes out in Boston. She falls in love with a doctor at an astrology party, and together they birth a healing ministry, bringing together people of diverse beliefs and backgrounds. Ierardi recounts her many callings to live as an artist, counselor, and minister while facing challenges in the early days of gay, feminist, and religious change. A story of courage, persistence, and authenticity, Coming Alive will speak to people of all ages and experiences, providing hope and possibilities for living and loving well.

The Next Level Of Craft

Josie Peterson Author Interview

Godsmack Part 1: The Mother Earth follows a gay businessman who becomes sick and moves to a rural farm to heal and start a new life. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

The inspiration for my story was the contemporary archetypal personal healing journey that’s both mental and physical. Many of us had to learn the hard way about proper rest, nutrition, nurturing companionship, and not letting our careers “sap” our life force.

With so many interesting characters in this novel, what was your approach to writing the interactions between characters?

Likable and psychologically deep characters are the most important aspect of storytelling from my viewpoint. If the reader is to engage emotionally and stay with your story to the last page of your novel, I feel they need to relate and understand and be intrigued by the characters in both word and deed. The next level of craft for me is to thoroughly know how they feel about each other while maintaining a realistic and human moment-by-moment behavior that’s not stilted or filled with cliche dialogue. I think my acting training and work in that field has a big impact on my emphasizing all the detailed work on the characters when I sit down to write.

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

I personally love to examine disparate and opposite themes. I find it challenging in a good way to put varied thematic elements into a story and find hidden connections. My overall goal was to have the reader come away with a deeper understanding of life and human beings. What I chose in Godsmack was to combine death (via the central symbol of heroin) and life (via the plot milestones for the protagonist, and the story’s denouement symbolized by spiritual wisdom achieved at the close of the novel.) Hence the title: God (spirit), smack (the street name for heroin), and The Mother Earth (the mechanism for healing).

Where does the story go in the next book and where do you see it going in the future?

My next book will be a prequel to the current novel which will provide a deep backstory for the criminal gang. 

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Yahn Marynugh, a gay businessman, suddenly becomes unable to cope with his life when he falls ill, lost his job, then finds he must run forever from drug lords one of his former clients got involved with. Upon a threat of his untimely death, he runs for cover to a rural farm where he begins healing his health while trying to jump start a new business. Despite good odds for Yahn, the drug lords don’t give up and force him to help them survive in a never- ending ruthless cycle of criminal competition inside the often-inhumane, international drug trade.

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

Buy Now From Amazon

Lessons on Seduction

Lessons on Seduction by Estelle Pettersen is a passionate, erotic romance novel that will fully satisfy the appetites of the fans of this genre. Julian Carpenter Richland is a university professor focused on studying and researching archaeology. He’s extremely committed to his job and area of study but lives a second-secret lifestyle filled with dangerous affairs and lustful encounters. On the other side of the spectrum is Sapphire Blake, a conservative woman and a people-pleaser yearning to feel much more than her religion allows. When these two personalities clash, a new world of romance and passion will be discovered. Still, past mistakes may taint and endanger what initially seemed to be an exciting, daring, and loving relationship.

The story is told from two perspectives: Julian’s and Sapphire’s. This choice allowed the author to present a complete picture of their romantic relationship and how their connection slowly developed and, with time, turned into so much more than they could expect or wish. As a result, the narration is immersive, and the reader can thoroughly blend into the story and understand the perspectives of each character. Julian and Sapphire’s relationship begins as a playful thing that unexpectedly evolves into something more; their chemistry overflows each page and lets the reader get excited to see where everything leads. There’s romance, love, passion, and lust. Still, there’s also an unexpected layer of destructive and unkind realms that gives the story a level of tension that takes its complexity to another level.

One quickly flies through this book; it’s simply one of those you want to finish in one sitting to fully capture its essence, allowing you to get the best experience possible. The storyline is well-developed, and it covers many areas of the relationship that is portrayed. There are also a few time jumps, a successful strategy that feels believable and lets the reader get a fuller timeline of said relationship. Julian is described from the beginning as an expert on seduction. As a professor, he makes it his challenge to instruct his newest interest, Sapphire, on everything one can learn about what can go behind closed doors between two people who find each other irresistible. Soon the romance develops, making their relationship more captivating.

Lessons on Seduction by Estelle Pettersen is an adventurous and unpredictable romance that will explore many avenues, and the opposing personalities of the characters, matched with their unusual attraction, will turn this into an exciting and passionate story that you’ll want to devour from beginning to end.

Pages: 198 | ASIN : B08BKRPF63

Buy Now From Amazon

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

Buy Now From Amazon

Gaia’s Web

Gaia’s Web by Stephen Proskauer is a fascinating read. This well-developed story is told from multiple points of view throughout. Readers are first introduced to Daryl Mcintyre, a brilliant scientist with a plan that just might change the world- if he, his wife, and his team can overcome their personal drama. We also meet Alan, a stockbroker who, as of late, finds himself unfulfilled; Arthur, a young boy involved in a sect of religious separatists; and Frelko, the adviser to a brutal dictator halfway across the world. Their stories, among others, are expertly woven together in a novel that is truly global in scale.

This book has a little bit of something for everyone- from romance to political intrigue, to hard science, and even elements of the spiritual. One central theme of global climate change is handled with a degree of optimism not often seen in fiction. The prose is rich with imagery, allowing readers to visualize scenes in intricate detail. The cast of characters is both diverse and vivid- almost seeming to leap off the page at certain points. The science also clearly had a lot of thought put behind it. I appreciated a few callbacks and references to other science fiction works- the author is obviously well-versed in the genre.

I admit I found the pacing a bit off-putting in this one. It’s nothing major and didn’t impact my investment in the story, but I did notice certain scenes seemed to drag on a bit by the end. I also felt that some of the plotlines seemed a little thin, but they all did tie together quite nicely in the end.

I’d highly recommend Gaia’s Web to sci-fi fans who may be looking for a more metaphysical twist on the genre. The hard science fiction is not overwhelming, and the romance fits into the story without taking over. This fantastic novel will appeal to readers across multiple genres and have them hooked on the series.

Pages: 316 | ASIN : B00ASO5LV6

Buy Now From Amazon

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?
%d bloggers like this: