Posted in Barbara Avon, CC Luckey, Crystal Kirkham, Dreena Collins, Evelyn Charters, Gabrielle Olexa, indie author, Jennifer Irwin, Jessica Conwell, LM Gose, Random stuff about my blog, Rebecca Hefner, Uncategorized

My 2019 Top 10 Picks

By: Johnny Swanson

“Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.”
― Jack Kerouac

HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE!

I’m not for sure how many books I read during 2019, I know it was a few. Around the end of August I had decided to start this blog honoring and featuring Indie Authors, it was then I started logging and reviewing through Goodreads and Amazon, Goodreads has me down for reading 52 between the months of August thru December.

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/13688308-johnny-swanson

Although my site reviews Indie Authors and supports Indie Books there were a couple on books on my reading list that did not fall into the Indie category, in the end only Indies made the list. This list does not reflect that the book was written or published in 2019, it just happens to be when I read them.

After reading so many good book this year it can almost be overwhelming try to only pick 10 as the top picks. There are so many others that deserve an Honorable Mention. However, in the end there could only be 10 and these 10 have made a lasting impression on me unlike any of the others.

Honorable MentionElectric Blues by: Shaun O McCoy, Although it didn’t make it into the top 10 it defiantly deserves to be mentioned. This is a futuristic tale about a depressed out of work A.I. named Arty that is sure to put a smile on your face. Gabrielle Olexa had recommended this book, said that it was a cute book, and she’s right. It’s well written and Shaun is a fascinating individual that I had the privilege to interview. Defiantly worth a look.

TOP 10

10Bird Wing by: Dreena Collins, This is a book of Flash Fiction and I love it. It was way back when I first read Black Coffee Blues by: Henry Rollins, that I realized how much I enjoy reading flash fiction. This book brought it all back to me. Thank you Dreena!

9- Ascend by: Leia Gose, Fun and Magical are two words that best describe Ascend. Leia has done a ridiculously good job creating this world that I want to live in, written for YA this book is fun enough for everyone. Good news is that she’s writing a sequel!

8- The Desert in the Glass by C.C. Luckey, This book is surprisingly good. If not mistaken it is a debut novel and CC brings it. I’m really excited that I had the opportunity to interview her in 2019 and can’t wait to see what she publishes next. If you haven’t read it you should, it’s a lot of fun!

7- Jenny of Lebanon by: Gabrielle Olexa I know Gabrielle takes a lot of heat because this book is identified as literary fiction. Looking at the reviews for Jenny of Lebanon readers either hate it or love it, if you are looking for something to rival Twilight or Harry Potter, this book will be a waste of your time, however, if you love words and wordplay I highly recommend this book.

6- Depths of Darkness (Saints and Sinners Book 2) by: Crystal L. Kirkham, this is book 2 of the Saints and Sinners series and I found it to be just as good if not better than the first. I consider Crystal to be a writer on the move, she is as talented as she is creative and her new book Feathers and Fae will be reviewed on my blog in early 2020.

5- Three Sharp Knives by: Jessica Conwell, This was a pleasant surprise to me, Three Sharp Knives introduced me to my first transgender main character as well as the struggles within their community. I love the book as well as Jessica and her writing style. The interview I published with her on 12/8/19 is my favorite of the year, hoping to have her back after reading her other novel, Cluster. My advise, Read this BOOK!

4- The Van Helsing Paradox by: Evelyn Chartres, This is such a fun book, the flow is incredible and very engrossing. There will be more about Evelyn during 2020 on my site because I think her writing is phenomenal, I will be reviewing her work in the near future.

3- A Dress the Color of the Sky by: Jennifer Irwin WOW! is about all I can say about A Dress the Color of the Sky. Jennifer also will be my first interview / review featured in 2020. Really impressed with this book!

2- Postscript by: Barbara Avon, I love Barbara! Her writing JUST does it for me. Every time I finish one of her books it has become my new favorite. I picked Postscript because the evolution of her writing style has STOLEN MY HEART with this tale, it’s also filled with hidden gems that kept me on my toes. ❤

1- The End of Hatred by: Rebecca Hefner, this book has earned my number one spot because it was the book that stole my soul to romance, it’s not just this book either, it’s the whole series. I love it and can’t wait until she writes another. Rebecca is going to be a writer that we will hear of for a long, long time.

✌❤

Posted in CC Luckey, indie author, Random stuff about my blog, Uncategorized

THE DESERT IN THE GLASS

By: C.C. Luckey

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free. -Jim Morrison

Johnny– Hi C.C. thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Straight out of the gate I want to ask, where did the idea for The Desert in the Glass come from?

CC- I love adventure stories. Reading a book set in a detailed fictional world feels like the best kind of vacation. I wanted to write a book that felt real, but integrated some believable fantasy elements featuring characters the reader could relate to. The Desert in the Glass is written for people who love to explore.

Johnny– I don’t think I’m giving to much away by asking this, but basically this book is made up of three different stories that come together to complete this novel. All three are good enough to be stand-alone works, how hard of a decision was it to use these three in one book? were they originally independent stories or stand-alone works?

CC- Part 1, Terata, was originally a novella. As soon as I finished, I knew there was more to be told. I love road movies and I wanted my book to have legs, which led to the second part, The Red Road to Vegas. Part 3, The Birdhouse Keeper, was the most personally difficult to write, yet my readers say it’s their favorite. I see each part as following not a story-line but rather the unique life of a person, and all three of those people are critical pillars of the book’s structure.

Johnny– Where on earth did you come up with the “event” that takes place in Part 2, The Red Road to Vegas? That was very creative!

CC- We’re very, very small in the universe. Infinitesimal. Sometimes I’m surprised these kinds of terrifying incidents don’t happen a lot more often. Best not to think about that too hard, perhaps.

Johnny– How hard was it to develop the characters for this book? You get really detailed about them as individuals, I really like that.

CC- My writing process generally involves a brief initial description of a scenario and world before even thinking about characters. Once I have that idea in my head—which could be stated in as little as a single sentence—I ask myself, who is the actor? This person could be old or young, male or female. Eventually, someone in my head raises their hand. Then I put myself in their shoes, and get moving.

Johnny– Which was the hardest character to create?

CC- The main character of Part 3 worried me a little because she is a mother, and I am not. That’s an experience you can’t really understand unless you have it yourself—no pretending. I had trouble with her until I fell in love with her daughter, and realized that was something we had in common. After that, I knew her well enough to write her.

Johnny– You did very well, I personally believed her to be genuine. Which of the three stories proved to be the most difficult to write?

CC- A couple sections of Part 3 made me cry. Is it arrogance to cry at your own writing? The story digs deep into neurological issues, which I based on my personal experiences as a caregiver for a brain damaged family member. 

Johnny– I don’t think it’s arrogance, it does say a lot about your passion, though. Let’s talk about the title for a moment, where did the name, ‘The Desert in the Glass’ come from?

CC- I knew from the start that I wanted time to be a constant theme of the book. There are many references to the counting of time in the book, from age differences between characters, whole sections set in different years throughout history, and the generally urgent pace. The other running theme of the book is the desert, which almost serves as a character itself. So, the book is an hourglass filled with desert sand, measuring the passage of time.

Johnny– How long did it take you to write this novel?

CC- I wrote Part 1 during a time when I was a caregiver for a family member. It was hard to hold down a regular job or any other commitments, so I turned to writing to keep me sane and give me an escape. The other two parts were written and edited over a period of just four months.

Johnny– Let’s talk about your writing process and habits, are you big on journaling? Do you start out writing by hand or digital all the way?

CC- I don’t do any personal journaling, but I always have pens and paper close at hand in case I have a lightning-flash idea that I need to record it right away. When I’m writing a story, I use a tablet and keyboard because my brain works faster than I can write by hand. I’m most comfortable typing because I’ve been using computers for writing since 1985. My father was an engineer so when I was a kid we always had the latest technology.

Johnny– Do you edit your work yourself?

CC- Yes, I do my own editing. I am protective of my work, yet I am a very strict taskmaster for myself. I read and re-read my work dozens of times, interspersed with breaks away from the manuscript and reading other authors’ books to clear my mind. If something doesn’t work in my story—if it doesn’t feel exactly right—I cut it and throw it away. And I’m crazy for grammar and spelling. I absolutely love editing, it’s my favorite part of writing. Sure, first drafts are fun and interesting and you never really know what’s going to happen. But when you edit, you really get to hone your craft, to take that raw material and make it glow. I feel little pride during my initial writing, but editing fills me with euphoria as I watch my story come to life.

Johnny– Does this love for editing help or hinder your ability or creativity while writing?

CC- It probably hinders it. It can be difficult to resist stopping and going back to double check the flow of the story, the quality of my sentences, and my grammar. Sometimes the frequent stops make for a better first draft, but it can also kick me out of my creative head-space. Drinking coffee helps, actually. It makes the story in my head play out in fast-forward, and if I stop typing, I won’t keep up and it will get away from me.

Johnny– If you were given the chance to go back and change any part of this book, regardless of how big or small, is there any part that you would change or alter?

CC- No. I’m not saying my work is perfect, of course. But every single step I take is forward, not back. And something that looks like a mistake to me may be an enlightenment to someone else, so I’ll let my work lay as it falls.

Johnny– Is there a bottom-line lesson to be learned from “The Desert in the Glass”?

CC- While my background is in philosophy, I try not to include overt morals in my adventure stories. But I do admit to a certain agenda; I love to feature characters in roles which may be surprising. A majority of my characters are female, but my writing is not romantic or “chick lit.” Not all of my characters are neurotypical, but my stories aren’t really about that. It’s okay for characters to be incidentally female, or unusual, or genius or broken in some way without the story being about that. And if the story ends up being about a normal typical guy, that’s okay, too. I write about regular people in irregular situations, and to me that means diversity without apology.

Johnny– I think you did an awesome job! Any chance you will be revisiting any characters or parts of this book in the future?

CC- No, The Desert in the Glass is a very self-contained story. But you’ll have to read to the end to find out why.

Johnny– What or who inspires you?

CC- I am in awe of the writers who have come before me, not because of what they’ve written but because of the circumstances under which they created their work. Writers are an odd bunch; they are compelled to create, perhaps even against their own will, like they have whole universes bouncing around in their heads that will burst out through their ears if not released through their fingertips. This process isn’t always fun or lucrative, but an impassioned writer doesn’t have any choice but to write—and, sometimes, drink to excess. I feel a kinship with the struggling writers who have come before me, and I hope to have the perseverance they did in sharing my stories with the world.

Johnny– Any particular writers you consider to be your favorite?

CC- Stephen King had a big effect on me when I was a teenager, not because of his horror themes but because of how he wrote his characters with such empathy even when he had little in common with them. I am also a big Richard Adams fan. But my favorite book of all time is actually by a very obscure author, Walter Wangerin Jr. He wrote a story in two books, The Book of the Dun Cow and The Book of Sorrows, which I highly recommend to pretty much everyone in the world. I’ve been known to buy copies of them at used book stores and randomly give them to friends.

Johnny– What can we expect next from C.C. Luckey?

CC- So many more adventures! I am just starting a massive multi-book series that will take readers on an epic journey to another world. I can’t wait to visit, myself. I’ll be the first one there, but I’ll be clearing the path and sending directions as soon as it’s ready to come visit.

Johnny– I cannot wait to see where your journey will take us C.C. I know one thing, it’s going to be great. Other than writing, what do you like to do for fun?

CC- I enjoy making miniature dioramas, like faux specimen jars and creepy scenes in tiny rooms where a crime has just taken place. I’m also very into video games, especially massive open-world RPGs.

Johnny– Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me! It has been a pleasure. Before we wrap this up is there any final thoughts or parting wisdom you’d like to share?

CC- It can take a long time to realize what you really want from life. The important thing is to keep trying until you find it, and don’t let anyone else tell you who you should be. For some people it’s creating a certain type of art, for others it’s having kids, and some people simply yearn for a return to nature. It can take decades to figure out where you fit in the world, and there’s no shame in learning late who you are. Just don’t give up until you figure it out.

Johnny– You are an awesome writer C.C. it has been an honor to visit with you.

CCThank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and my book!

REVIEW

I knew there was something special about CC Luckey when I read her book. Then in her opening line during our conversation she said “I love adventure stories.” Well, well, well, so, do I.

There is nothing that I didn’t like about this book. It’s an evocative adventure that beacons my soul to the dusty deserts of Nevada. I could almost feel the heat on my skin and the sun on my face as I read…

Divided into three sections each more beautiful and troubling than the next, I found it hard to pick a favorite. In the end it didn’t matter though, what happened was “The Desert in the Glass” tied together as neatly as a professionally tied bow around a beautifully wrapped box. A work of art.

If there was one thing that stood out about this book it would be this, the expressive narrative in which C.C. introduces her characters that she had created to star in this impressive tale. Vivid portrayal, well established cast and a plot that is as solid as a rock I found this book to be nothing more than remarkable.

I’m giving The Desert in the Glass five stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on both Amazon and Goodreads. It’s an adventure, not just that, it’s creative, it’s fun and I found it to be addictive. I love it and highly recommend it.

Below you will find links to contact and follow CC Luckey on social media as well as links to buy her books. If you are a fan of adventure, macabre and the unexplained you will not be disappointed.

Buy her E-Books here

Visit C.C. on her website

www.ccluckey.com

follow c.c. luckey on social media

https://www.facebook.com/ccluckey/

paperback is only available directly from me right now because Amazon is refusing to stock it until after the holidays. I can be reached via my web site or twitter for paperback order C.C. Luckey

http://www.ccluckey.com/

https://www.amazon.com/C-C-Luckey/e/B082MT2KSM/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

✌❤