Posted in book review, Crystal Kirkham, pop review

Road to Redemption by: Crystal Kirkham

POP REVIEW

Stepping back to 2016 to review this debut novel by Crystal Kirkham because it will always hold a special place in my heart. Road to Redemption was the first INDIE book I ever owned and read.

There is a good possibility that if I hadn’t come across @canuckclick on Twitter back in December 2016 this blog wouldn’t be happening.

Thank you Crystal!

YOU just know that you have a good book in your hands when opening scene does everything right, Road to Redemption does just that, just enough of a mystery by page two to peak my curiosity then by page four, I was hooked.

Road to Redemption has everything you could want a book to have. Interesting characters and a plot that is worthy of the big screen. The narrative description is spot on, details so clear that I could see the story playing in my head like a movie. In her debut novel Crystal has done everything right.

I first reviewed this book about three years ago, it’s worthy of a rehash. It’s that damn good!

The chemistry between Michel and Paige is PURE magic. Paige notices Michel while she’s stuck on a boring blind date, little does she know that a deal Michel made centuries ago would have such an effect on her life when she decided to pursue him and put a little adventure in her world.

This book will take you to hell and back.

🔥🔥Literally🔥🔥

I consider this a must read! I gave it⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on Goodreads and Amazon and I will forever by a fan of Crystal L Kirkham.

definitely a page turner pardon the pun…

My one and only disappointment was that it had to end. Thank God for sequels because she wrote one!! 🎉

I loved this book as much now as I did when I first time i read it. Three times and each time is better than the last.

BUY ROAD TO REDEMPTION

DEPTHS OF DARKNESS made my TOP 10 Book List for 2019, it came in at number six, it is book 2 of the series. You will hear more about this in the near future.

✌❤

Posted in book review, pop review, Uncategorized

Daisy Jones & The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid

pop review

This book is a prime example of Hollywood pushing garbage into our faces and telling us it’s pumpkin pie.

Okay, maybe garbage is the wrong word, but lord have mercy…

When I first heard that Reese Witherspoon and Amazon Prime was interested in this book I thought I’d give it a try.

that was a mistake!

Or as Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman: “big mistake. big. huge!”

At best, this book held my attention for the first couple of chapters due to the 70’s references seemed to be time period accurate and appropriate, another draw for me was the fact that this is loosely based off the 1975 merger of Fleetwood Mac with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

After that not so much.

To be fair to Taylor Jenkins Reid this book was well written, definitely well researched which caused me to raise the rating to ⭐⭐⭐ instead of the two I had originally given it.

I don’t want to go so far as to say that this BOOK is a waste of time or money, but it just wasn’t for me.

This is my problem with Daisy Jones and The Six:

Everything in this book was easy, becoming a rock star, touring, recording an album, not to mention the rehab. ***kicking drug and alcohol addiction is not easy, anyone who has suffered through this living hell will almost be insulted at the thoughtlessness that went into this part of the story.

If you want to skip the book I’m sure it will be airing on Amazon soon, if you would like to read it there is a link to buy below.

Thanks for reading!

✌❤

Posted in Barbara Avon, book review

Postscript by: Barbara Avon

pop review

After reading a couple of books by Barbara I’ve come to the realization that I will never know what to expect when I begin but when I finish I feel satisfied and wanting more…

I can’t say enough about this book or the characters that she has created in this world that she has invited us into, it’s hauntingly beautiful, noit’s hauntingly sexy.

SPOILER ALERT:

The sexual tension between James and Lina is addictive. The story of them is a total “Avon classic” tragedy in a sense that I am faced with this warning: be careful not to believe everything you read, things are not what they appear to be when Barbara is in control.

Barbara does this thing where she weaves the characters of her story to your heart then she intensifies the moment before ripping it away. It’s an art and it’s a thing of beauty!

I love her style, I love the sexiness of her writing, the way she can create a moment so hot 🔥 without going into explicit detail numbs my brain.

💥💥💥💥💥

The mistress of storytelling has created a tale that has captured my heart then shocked my senses into submission.

This is a really good book!

I’M GIVE IT FIVE STARS ON AMAZON AND GOODREADS

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

BUY POSTSCRIPT HERE

Congratulations Barbara on a job well done. I love this book! It is beautiful!!

✌❤

Posted in Jennifer Irwin, Uncategorized

A Dress the Color of the Sky

By: Jennifer Irwin

“We have a choice about how we take what happens to us in our life and whether or not we allow it to turn is.  We can become consumed by hate and darkness, or we’re able to regain our humanity somehow, or come to terms with things and learn something about ourselves.” – Angelina Jolie

Johnny– Hi Jennifer! Thank you for taking the time to visit with me, when I first finished this book, I must admit I was a little taken back. Honestly, I finished this almost a week ago and I still am having a problem trying to classify it by genre, at first, I thought it might be chick-lit, suspense, adventure, romance, self-help, self-discovery, truth is, it’s all of them and more. It’s a great book, and it blew me away, however, when you first set out to write this book what genre did you have in mind? Or did you?

Jennifer– I originally set out to place the book in the contemporary fiction category but it has crossed over a few genres including YA because the story moves back and forth in time.

Johnny– Why did you write A Dress the Color of the Sky?

Jennifer– I have had this story in my head for a long time. The original idea spring boarded from a screenplay I wrote in college but I never felt I had the time or motivation to write the book. After my divorce, I wanted to dig deep into my past and try to heal from my childhood trauma. The process of writing this book helped me to better understand myself, come to grips with my past and tell a universal story of a woman’s journey to find self-love.

Johnny– Tell me about your researching for the rehab center, there is a lot of structure in your narrative, to what extent did you go about to collect this information?

Jennifer– I conducted a tremendous amount of research before writing this book. It was important to me that I depicted a realistic rehab milieu for my readers to better understand the recovery process. For research I read books on sex addiction, attended AA meetings, attended a retreat, and interviewed many recovering addicts.

Johnny– When you attended meetings, did the other people know you were there for research? If so, were they helpful?

Jennifer– No one knew I was there for research. I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable so I tried to blend in with the group.

Johnny– Having done the research then written this book how would you define a sex addict?

Jennifer– I would define a sex addict the same way I would any other addiction. When a person had an addiction it takes a toll on every aspect of their life. If what you’re doing is negatively affecting your job, relationships, and family then you have an addiction problem. There is a series of questions that you can find on the Alcoholics Anonymous website which can be applied to any substance abuse including sex addiction.

Johnny– Sadly, sexual assault being such a huge topic in the media, how difficult were some of these scenes to write? Especially when Prudence was a little girl, being gang-groped by the twins in the closet and later on sexually assaulted by Richard, as hard as it was to read, I’m guessing that it must have been hell to write.

Jennifer– It was difficult to write and there are many scenes in the book that I can’t read without crying. There was a balance I had to find when writing about such horrors in order to not turn off my readers while also keeping things as real as possible. I felt it was better to hint at things rather than spell them out blatantly. No one wants to read about such horrors but the general message was very important.

Johnny– You did a fantastic job, as hard as it was to read your narrative was quick and complete, I feel that that made it tolerable to digest as a reader. Let’s talk about some of your characters for a minute, what hole did those annoying twins of Marilyn’s crawl out of? lol

Jennifer– I’m glad to know my characters made you feel so deeply! Some of the characters were based on people I have known and things I have heard combined with a creative mind.

Johnny– Pat is such a dreadful person, great job btw, how did you come up with this character?

Jennifer– I actually had a step-sister who was a lot like Pat.

Johnny– Did you have a real-life muse when you created Richard?

Jennifer– Yes, I loosely based Richard on one of my step-fathers.

Johnny– After I read the book, I found it on Audible and decided to give it a listen during my daily commute, through the narration it appears that Prue’s mom is really a self-serving, self-indulgent individual. Is that fair to say?

Jennifer–  Yes, I believe that a great deal of Prudence’s issues stem from her relationship with her mother. I’d say you nailed it with your description of Prue’s mother.

JohnnyMarnye Young narrated your book on Audible (and did a fantastic job BTW) did you have to give her any special direction? She seemed so in sync with the book.

Jennifer– Marnye is an incredibly seasoned and talented narrator. I was honored to have her be the voice for the audiobook version of Dress. She truly loved the story and found it both relatable and important. She had a clear grasp of the nuances of the story and characters so I only had to do some minor tweaking during final edits.

Johnny– In chapter 7 the is a moment that happens to Prudence while she’s with Alister:

“This can’t happen,” I said, pulling away. “I have no clue what I’m doing or how I will survive. I’m scared of losing my husband and terrified to stay. What about your girlfriend? You live in London.” The laundry list of excuses. “This is a fantasy. Nothing more.” My body shifted farther from him. I craved space, but a powerful force pulled me back.

Was this Prue’s “moment of clarity”?

Jennifer– I’d say it was a huge moment of clarity for Prue. She faced her weakness for male attention and was coming to grips with a dysfunctional marriage and the trail of destruction her addiction left behind.

Johnny– Tell me a little bit about Dr. Mike. One of my favorite lines from him is:

“You live on love crumbs. A nibble drops, you gobble up the morsel. The crumb sustains you until he gives you another. Don’t you believe you deserve the whole loaf?”

How do you go about writing dialog for Mike?

Jennifer– I absolutely adore Mike. He’s the one person who doesn’t sexualize Prue and supports her with understanding and tough love. As far as writing dialogue, I had a literary agent tell me I am gifted at writing dialogue which was a huge compliment! I try to put myself in the room and picture what is happening in that moment. The research I did helped me to write realistic therapy dialogue but I’m not a therapist so I’m sure it’s not perfect but I definitely gave it my all.

Johnny– I totally agree with the literary agent, your writing of dialog is incredible! Have you had any feedback from actual therapist or medical professionals since you written this book?

Jennifer– Thank you! And, yes, there have been several psychiatrists and therapists who have written reviews. They have all stated that my novel depicts a realistic therapeutic milieu.

Johnny– Tell me about your writing process, how did you go about creating and structuring A Dress the Color of the Sky? Do you journal?

Jennifer– There are two kinds of writers, those who outline the entire story and know where they are headed, and writers like myself who fly by the seat of their pants. Both work, both are correct but I don’t know how a story is going to end until I get there. I made a lot of mistakes while writing Dress and had no clue what I was doing. I’m still a neophyte in the writing world but definitely know more now than I did when I was writing Dress. A few things about my writing process – my brain is more creative in the afternoon, I need total silence, my house has to be tidy, I sit on an exercise ball at my dining room table which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, I light a Himalayan salt lamp, scented candle, and a diffuser with peppermint oil.

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

Jennifer– From beginning to end it took me five years but the last two were when I really focused and did the most writing.

Johnny– Are you planning a sequel?

Jennifer– I’m working on the final draft of the stand-alone sequel, A Dress the Color of the Moon. It is my hope that Moon is worthy of being picked up by a big publisher.

Johnny– Can you give me a quick elevator pitch for A Dress the Color of the Moon?

Jennifer– The story will follow Prue in her post rehab journey and learn how she fares in the world after five weeks in Serenity Hills. There will be several characters continuing on with her to Los Angeles where they will gather for the funeral of Gloria who committed suicide in the first book. Prue and her comrades with face many trials, tribulations, and temptations in the real world.

Johnny– There seems to be a lot of healing taking place in this book, was this book therapeutic to write or tragic?

Jennifer– Definitely therapeutic.

Johnny– Reading through the reviews on Amazon, it seems like this touched a lot of people, how does that make you feel as a writer?

Jennifer– The reviews have been one of the most beautiful parts of my writing journey. I have been especially surprised by the number of men who have written reviews. The reviews have deeply touched my heart and been incredibly motivating for me to continue on as a writer.

Johnny– If you were casting this book for a movie, who would you pick as your cast?

Jennifer– I think Jessica Chastain or Jennifer Lawrence would make a great Prudence, Liev Schreiber or Colin Farrell would play Mike the therapist, Bradley Cooper to play Nick, Ryan Reynolds would make a fabulous Alistair.

Johnny– Wrapping up, what do you want your reading audience to take away from reading, A Dress the Color of the Sky?

Jennifer– It is possible to heal from childhood trauma, what it’s like in an inpatient rehab facility, the experience of following one woman’s journey to find self-love, to not live in the past and it’s never too late to make a change in your life.

Johnny– Jennifer I can not thank you enough for taking the time to talk with me. I think you’re awesome! You are remarkably talented and a phenomenal writer. Thank you! 🙏

REVIEW

My original review: I’m sitting here at 4am on a Saturday morning. I had just finished A Dress the Color of the Sky by Jennifer Irwin and I’m in awe.
There is nothing I can say that will come close to giving this book the review that it deserves.

To think that this is the first novel that Jennifer has written Blows my mind.

I’m giving her 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐stars because this is quite possibly the best book I’ve ever read. Without a doubt A Dress the Color of the Sky is the best debut novel I had ever had the privilege of reviewing. Jennifer has done what few writers have ever done, she surprised me, she is an amazing and talented writer who has only begun to shine.

My original review STANDS: READ THIS BOOK!

It’s a smart, sexy, and captivating book to read. WARNING: once started this book is hard to put down.

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

If you only read one book in 2020 it needs to be A Dress the Color of the Sky by: Jennifer Irwin.

I promise, you will not be disappointed.

You can follow Jennifer on her website and social media pages:

Website

http://jenniferirwinauthor.com

Twitter

https://twitter.com/jenirwinauthor

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/Jennifer-Irwin-author-1553230351572292/

BUY HER BOOK

https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Irwin/e/B075WD8PVW?ref_=dbs_p_pbk_r00_abau_000000

✌❤

Posted in Ava Lee Mosley, indie author, Random stuff about my blog, Uncategorized

Twice as nice

By: Ava Lee Mosley

“The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough of is love.” ― Henry Miller

Johnny– Hi Ava! Thank, thank you for taking the time to visit with me and have a conversation about your book. Where did the idea for ‘Twice as Nice’ originate?

Ava– I think I read somewhere the phrase “space pirate” recently and I really wanted there to be a female space pirate! So I created Allie. As for the idea for the story, I just thought it would be a funny conflict if we put together a female who is somewhat asexual with a hypersexual male and see what happens. I love conflict!

Johnny– Space Pirate, I love it!  You feature two different species of aliens Brex and Allie, (kudos on originality btw), where do you draw your inspiration from when you are creating different species?

Ava– Terran actually means human, but I understand it’s not very well explained in the story. As for Brex, who is not human, I guess I just draw on the many years of watching sci-fi shows and reading sci-fi books. But I also try to come up with something I haven’t seen.

Johnny– Brex is Primarsul, how did you go about creating this character? He is very unique in more ways than one.

Ava– To be honest, the idea for the story always comes first. As for the characters and the details, they just develop from the idea. I often “pantse” so I don’t know how they look until I write the scenes and sometimes even until I edit! For me, it’s easier to add the details later, and that’s only because what captivates me at the start is the story.

Johnny– This is the first book I’ve read that you’ve written, is sci-fi erotica the only genre you write? Or is this your first book?

Ava– I’ve written many unfinished speculative stories, novellas and even novels throughout the years – urban fantasy, dark fantasy, science fiction, science fantasy, paranormal, etc. However, as I don’t easily finish long stories, I decided to go shorter and shorter… and once I did and I decided I wanted to publish, I realized the only short fiction that was publishable was mostly erotica. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I’ve read and written my share throughout the years, but this decision was more necessity than anything else. Luckily, I started writing and publishing in this genre – after doing some market research – and I LOVED IT. Who knew it would be so fun to write short steamy stories with aliens?!

Johnny– It most defiantly is steamy and fun! Do you self-publish? Or do you go through an agency?

Ava– Yes, I self-publish. I am such a control freak and so multipassionate that I suppose self-publishing is fun for me, and necessary. I can’t imagine someone telling me what to do with my story, so I just do everything myself, and it works! I have spent years writing, editing, designing, marketing… so the natural conclusion was to self-publish. It’s a challenge because you have a tiny budget and a LOT of tasks, but there’s also a lot to be learned, and that’s what I thrive on.

Johnny– What advise would you give to anyone that is wanting to write erotica?

Ava– Well, right now it’s not as easy to make money off erotica… if you’re in it for the money, you better write longer romance works. If you’re just writing for fun, shorter pieces are a great way to improve your craft and get feedback. Definitely read top stories on literotica.com if you want to improve your sex scenes and sign up on Erotic Authors, the subreddit, where people will help you on your journey.

Johnny– Do you have to be ‘thick skinned’ to write erotica? I would imagine that there are some pretty crude people out there that just think they can message or email you some pretty vulgar stuff, or for the most part, is everybody cordial?

Ava– For now everyone has been super nice, but after all, I have just started. I have only published 3 short stories and I have only been an “author” for 1 month, so I’m sure I might face some weirdness in the future, but so what? I have become pretty thick-skinned already since I have been active only for years and have encountered all kind of people. As long as people are reading my stories, I am happy.

Johnny– What does the future hold for Brex and Allie? Any plans for later adventures?

Ava– Yes actually! After some positive feedback and a couple of suggestions, I decided to turn this story into a series called Starfarers and Warriors. Sadly, I might not revisit those specific characters, or I might, in passing. I have a couple of ideas for other series as well and it’s usually always the same world but with different people/couples.

Johnny– This is a very short read, are you planning on writing larger volumes in the future?

Ava– Absolutely!!! Even though I said I’m not good at longer works, I actually can last for a novella (no pun intended). So I definitely plan on publishing some longer works in the romance genre in the future, since Romance readers prefer longer reads. Also, I get most of my royalties from Kindle Unlimited readers, and that’s really pennies when the work is shorter.

Johnny– Who or what is your inspiration? (Could be your favorite author, musician, or music), what makes you want to write?

Ava– To be honest, writing is in my blood, my breath, my everything. I have been a writer since a very early age and the only times when I don’t write, I am miserable. As for my inspiration, it’s J.K. Rowling. Even though it sounds cheesy, Harry Potter opened my eyes to the magic of world building and storytelling and I became a true fiction writer than. I started with fanfiction and slowly built up my confidence to come up with my own stories. And once I opened that well, OH BOY, I still get dozens of ideas every week…

Johnny– Give me a quick elevator pitch for “Kicking the Vow”.

Ava– Kicking the Vow is about a woman who is highly religious and who has taken a vow of chastity, but because of horrid circumstance, she has to go work in a brothel on another planet. There she meets the charismatic concubines Tanar and Crahain and the owner Seb, and suddenly, she doesn’t know what to do with herself!

Johnny– What are your plans for 2020?

Ava– I plan to release a story at least every fortnight, so I hope that 2020 will come with a bit more clarity. I want to experiment and perfect my marketing strategy, so I can reach more readers, and I would be very excited to write more series! I love some of the worlds I’ve created, and my readers love them, too, so the new year looks good indeed!

Johnny– That’s a pretty aggressive goal! Are you the person that needs to challenge themselves?

Ava– See, that’s a normal goal for me! I guess if I don’t go big, it’s just not me. If I’m not challenged, I’m bored… so that answers your question.

REVIEW

Twice as Nice: Alien Breeding Romance is a fast read that will take less than thirty minutes to consume.  Although short but sweet I found that what it lacks in volume it makes up for in creativity. Twice as Nice is also the first erotica book to be reviewed on this site.

No spoiler alert warning needed for this but do expect the heat 🔥 to rise while you are reading this book. Ava leaves nothing to the imagination, she also leaves nothing on the table.

Although short but sweet I can’t help but give Ava credit for originality and creativity. For that reason I’m giving this a thumbs up. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐HIGHLY RECOMMEND

This short story contains explicit sexual content, some may look as a disclaimer while other view it as a welcome sign, where-ever you reading preference I feel positive that there will be something in this book that you will like.

Support Indie authors: buy their books!


Here’s the link to use for Twice As Nice (it’s via booklinker):http://mybook.to/TwiceAsNice


Except GENESIS is an intergalactic brothel. And the more she works there with the charismatic owner, Seb, the flimsier her vows get.
In this short, steamy story, let’s follow Raya’s sexy transformation.
http://mybook.to/KickingtheVow

KICKING THE VOW
When Raya’s small planet is torn by war, she has to find a new place to live and work… and were it not for her vow of chastity, she would have been happy about finding work in GENESIS.

Follow Ava on Social Media

✌❤

Posted in indie author, Jessica Conwell, Uncategorized

Three Sharp Knives

By: Jessica Conwell

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” -Jack Kerouac

Johnny– Hey Jessica, first I want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me about your book ‘Three Sharp Knives’. Having read your book I understand the name, and what it stands for, do you have any particular story behind the term/brand? where did “3SK” come from?

Jessica– Hey Johnny! Thanks for reading, I’m always happy to answer questions! The title Three Sharp Knives comes from the idea that certain people are considered ‘dangerous’ to society simply for existing, like sharp knives sitting on a counter. The three narrators are all such people, three women who fall just outside the bounds of what the world wants to understand.

Johnny– You are such a charming writer, you have a way when you developed your characters that is so real and strong that I feel invested, “bought in” and very close to them, what do you attribute to that?

Jessica– Thank you. I’ve always been of the view that characters are more important than plot. I’ll read a book with interesting characters and a thin plot well before I will finish a book with a fascinating plot and flat characters. I think the number one thing I try to remember when developing my characters is that people don’t make sense. People are messy. People are illogical. People act in ways contrary to their own values. People screw up. But despite it all, most people in the world are trying to do their best to work toward what they envision “good” to be. Whether that is a moral good, a spiritual good, or just a personal good varies person to person. But I try to start with asking myself, “What does this character define as their ‘good’ and what does it look like when they try to work towards it? How will they screw up along the way?” I think that might be why my characters are relatable. I think most people can understand the feeling of knowing the good, wanting the good, but having no effing idea how to go about achieving the good.

Johnny– This book is written in a different format than most, separated into four sections with no chapters, (which, by the way, works!), is this your style when you are writing? Or is it unique to this book?

Jessica– I tend to work with sections more than chapters. My earlier novel, Cluster, works this way as well. I think I fits my stories structure-wise better than breaking them up into chapters. I want the narrative to flow in a series of long arcs, mainly to create the feeling that everything is connected, nothing separated from anything else. Past mixes with present.

Johnny– What motivated you to write Three Sharp Knives?

Jessica– So, the most simplistic answer to that question is that after I finished Cluster, a friend of mine said, “I think you should write a story about ghost hunters.” Naturally, I took that in the least logical, barely connected direction I could.

The larger answer is that I wanted a story about unconventional people and unconventional love. Obviously, there is a lot of LGBTQ+ representation in 3SK, but even beyond that, I wanted to write a book for people who feel like they don’t really fit anywhere, people who want to love and be loved, but find it difficult to be understood.

Johnny– I want to talk about your characters again, they are so damn believable, and likable, did you have inspirations or muses when you created them, or were they strictly products of your imagination?

Jessica– Way back when I was younger writer, I made the mistake of basing characters entirely on people I knew. This, predictably, blew up in my face when said people read the stories, mainly because I was not yet a strong enough writer to mask what I was doing. So, I now have a strict policy for myself against writing biographical (or autobiographical) characters. However, there are, of course, scraps and snipping’s of people I have known or encountered in my life. I don’t think any author can truly avoid that. And, honesty time, there is a bit of me in each of my narrators.

Johnny– Without giving anything away, what was the hardest part of this book to write?

Jessica– Ha! That’s a difficult one to answer without giving anything away, because the truth is that the most difficult part of the book to write was the ending. In part it was because I couldn’t decide how to execute it. It was a eureka moment on a long walk that finally gave me the ‘nested circle’ structure of the flashbacks in the last section. The other reason it was difficult was—and this will be very difficult to say without spoiling anything—because, well, authors tend to get emotionally invested in their own characters, too. I’ve had people tell me how hard they have taken various unkind things I have done to characters of mine they connected with. My knee-jerk response is, “I know! I’m a monster!”

Johnny– You did it beautifully! Although, I gotta admit, I was a little surprised at the ending, so I’m guessing your going to be that writer that likes to shock your readers?

Jessica– I actually try not to, typically. Otherwise there isn’t much of a surprise since the reader is expecting a surprise, you know? I’m completely of the mindset that surprise endings have to be earned. They need to be a surprise only due to the reader not putting the pieces together ahead of time.

Johnny– My thought is that this book was written through the eyes of three different individuals, which narration was the hardest to write for?

Jessica– Heather, actually, who is also my favorite character. She was hard to write because of how bleak her worldview is at the beginning of her section. In a lot of ways, it mirrored my own thoughts during darker, lower moments of my life, and it wasn’t always enjoyable to access those while I was writing her.

Johnny– Was it therapeutic for you to write her?

Jessica– It actually was. It is good to speak dark feelings aloud sometimes.

Johnny– I did this when I interviewed Rebecca Hefner and it was a lot of fun so I’d like to try it with you if you don’t mind. You get a call from Hollywood, your book is going into production to become a movie, you are chosen to cast it, you can use any artists you want, who do you pick?

Jessica– I’ve been asked about before actually! I think my main demand that would be that all of my trans characters be portrayed by trans actors. Beyond that, if Saoirse Ronan isn’t Heather and Katey Sagal isn’t Mari, I just don’t know that I could sign off on the production.

Johnny– Ha! Katey Sagal would be perfect! Good call for Heather, NOW, who would play Seph and Lia?

Jessica– She’s a bit older than the character, but I think Jamie Clayton from Sense8 would be a great Seph. For Lia, I’ve never been able to lock down who I think would be good for her role. But I’m open to suggestions.

Johnny– I’m curious, because your book centers around this, are you a fan of puzzle rooms?

Jessica– I am a huge fan of puzzle rooms, verging on being evangelical about them. I’ve done enough of them that I have formed strong opinions regarding their quality.

Johnny– What advise do you have for someone that wants to become a writer?

Jessica– Write the stories you think only you will be interested in. That won’t be the case. Write the books you wish you’d had at your lowest moments. Also, immediately stop thinking about writing as some mystical art. Like any craft, it needs to be honed and developed. Practice.

Johnny– What advise do you have for someone that might be struggling with gender identity?

Jessica– Trust yourself. A million voices will tell you that you don’t know yourself, that they know you better than you could. Surround yourself with the people who love and support you, discard the ones who don’t. Never be afraid to seek additional support. Hold in your mind the truth that no matter what, you have intrinsic value and are worthy of love and respect.

Johnny– I hope I’m asking this right, because I am ignorant about transgender people, I’ll be the first to admit that, but, at what age did you drop the gender society given you (because of the anatomy you were born with), to become the woman you are today?

Jessica– That’s a tricky one, because I spent a long time knowing and being in active denial. I was 33 when I finally came out, though.

Johnny– Was your family supportive? are you close with your family?

Jessica– The members of my family I am close with were very supportive, even if they didn’t understand right away. I, of course, had some members who were less so (especially among my then-in-laws) but the people who knew me the best knew that this wasn’t something I had decided based on some whim I was having.

Johnny– As a transgender woman do you feel accepted by society?

Jessica– In certain segments, sure. Otherwise, no, no I don’t. For one thing, the US government itself is currently hostile toward trans people. Aside from that, the background noise of life as a trans person is a cacophony of microaggressions, threats of violence, discrimination, distrust, and prejudice. So, we find our pocket communities. We build our “found families” and we do everything we can to try to change the way things are. But we have a hell of a long way to go.

Johnny– When you say “currently hostile” was it more-so after the 2016 election than before?

Jessica– Absolutely. Before 2016, things weren’t great, but it seemed like progress was being made, if only in an ‘inch at a time’ way. After the election, not only were protections and rights we had been granted under constant attack, it was almost as if a license had been given to not hide your prejudices.

*(I’d like to add a side note here, as a veteran who served in the US Army it breaks my heart and angers me to my core that you have to deal with this sort of hate and hostilities. When I joined, I joined so EVERYONE regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation could live in this country freely, peacefully, without fear or harassment from bigots and their hate, intolerance, and prejudice.) JS

Johnny– Jessica where do you want to be in 10 years?

Jessica– Watching my daughter start college (if that’s what she wants), going on adventures with my partner, and always, always, always still writing. Even if my audience can still be counted on one hand.

Johnny– You keep writing like you do I’m predicting that you will need a “few” hands to count your audience on. What are you wanting your readers to take away with them after reading 3SK?

Jessica– I hope they leave with more empathy and understanding for people different than they are, as well as more openness to love in all of its bizarre, beautiful forms. I hope I can make some people who have never felt understood seen, even if just a little.

Johnny– Who is your favorite writer?

Jessica– That is tough one, because every time I think I know the answer, my brain yells, “Wait! Wait! But what about…?” A short list would have to include Richard Russo, Carmen Maria Machado, Tillie Walden, and Neil Gaiman.

Johnny– Do you have any projects planned for 2020?

Jessica– Roughly a thousand of them, though I am favoring a project that does have a loose tie-in to 3SK (much as 3SK has some loose connections to my earlier book, Cluster). Unfortunately, it is in the form of bringing back probably the last character 3SK readers wanted to see return, so….

Johnny– So… we might not see Seph and Heather again?

Jessica– You may, but they will be wandering through the background of a scene. I have this long-standing belief that everyone is the background character in someone else’s life. All of my novels have a shared universe, but rarely will I bring a main character from one book into the forefront of another. However, you may see someone who was a minor character in 3SK play a more major role.

Johnny– Do you mind giving a quick elevator pitch for Cluster?

Jessica– A group of misfit friends run a music venue/coffee shope/vintage toy store together while coping with love and loss of many different flavors. Also, there’s a lengthy discussion about ghost sex.

REVIEW

Every once in a while I get the pleasure to come across a book that totally catches me off guard. Three Sharp Knives was one of those books.

Upon opening this book, I was carried away with a narrative that was so mesmerizing, characters so endearing, a plot well-groomed that it belongs on a Hollywood screen, I could not help but fall in LOVE with this book! I think you will too.

Three against the world was a reoccurring theme that ran across my mind time after time while I was reading this. Love, defined on their terms was what I was left with.

I love this book! It has earned the five stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐rating that I’ve given it on Goodreads and Amazon. I’m proud to say that I am a HUGE fan of Jessica Conwell.

If a good story and strong characters is your thing, then Three Sharp Knives is the book for you. I can’t wait to read and review Jessica’s other book Cluster.

Great job on writing a great book Jessica! I’m a fan!!

You can buy Jessica’s books here

Follow Jessica on Twitter

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Posted in indie author, Shaun McCoy, Uncategorized

Electric Blues

By: Shaun O McCoy

“What all of us have to do is to make sure we are using AI in a way that is for the benefit of humanity, not to the detriment of humanity.”  –Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Johnny– Hello Shaun, thank you for taking the time to talk with me about your book, where did the idea for Electric Blues come from?

Shaun– Ha!  I don’t think I’ve admitted this before, but I wrote this story right after smartphones were coming into the mainstream.  I had a little android phone that I adored, and I wondered what it would be like if it was sentient.

Johnny– LOL, that’s pretty cool. Did you by any chance hang on to it over the years?

Shaun– I did! In fact, even seven or so years later, it still works 😀 

Johnny– That is awesome! And it still works… that’s pretty cool. The opening lines in your book reads: “I can’t love. That’s okay, if you ask me, most humans can’t either.” That is profound, what is Arty telling us in this opening line?

Shaun– Well, first, let’s all hope that Arty is wrong there. The world is a lonely enough place as it is! It’s a little hard to answer this question without dorking out completely, but essentially, I imagine Arty here is dealing with the fact that most people have a romanticized view of love—and even Arty can tell that the people around him don’t have that Romeo and Juliet stuff at their disposal.  Like all of us, I hope, Arty, as he meets new people and sees more relationships, will grow in his understanding of what human love really is.

Johnny– Just so you know, dorking out is completely allowed, in-fact is very much encouraged here, lol. Tell me more about Arty, he seems interesting. He lives in a storage unit due to his unemployment circumstance; it sounds like he is improvising, adapting and overcoming his current situation, which is rather amazing since he seems to be running on a rather dated program.  

Shaun– Well, to be fair, he’s running a pretty darn advanced program compared to what we have today 😀 It just depends on your perspective, I suppose. 

Johnny– I’m constructing that question from Arty’s narration, I guess; he had mentioned that other A.I. models having a more updated programming than he.  As a reader he just seemed like what he lacked in his program he made up through improvising. Was this intentional? Or is Arty pulling a Captain Kirk during his ‘Kobayashi Maru? (LOL)

Shaun– Ha!  I don’t feel Arty is winning the unwinnable Kobayashi Maru scenario here.  Certainly, a Denizen H could come up with the plan that Arty did, and perhaps even a more cost effective one.  That being said, I did envision Arty’s AI as sufficiently complex to display a level of creativity. To use human beings as an analogy, the ability to succeed and be employable is more complex than just how good our pattern recognition (intelligence) is or how good our education is.  Those things help, but they’re not the end all be all.  So too, for an AI, I don’t think that processing power and updated software are always going to win the day.  Maybe most days, but not all of them!

Johnny– There are so many good points to talk about in this book I’m having a hard time choosing one to start with, we know where the idea came from, what was your motivation to write Electric Blues?

Shaun– While I started with the idea of my phone, the story really is a reflection of a lot more than that.  As a child who moved a lot, I’ve definitely lived the fish-out-of-water story, which, to an extent, Electric Blues is.  And, as an analytical person, sometimes I find myself confused, or even occasionally estranged by the people around me who are more intuitive.  Arty, as a robot, works as a pretty good vehicle for getting that estrangement, and the eventual catharsis of finding a way through the world, across.  Social situations are hard, insanely complicated, and yet, people are expected to understand them perfectly.  So, I think it’s easy for a lot of us to feel for Arty because so many of us have walked that same path. 

Johnny– I love the dialog between Arty and the Veterinarian, is Arty starting to develop a personality or is he being logical?

Shaun– Oh yes!  I don’t think you can really have intelligence as we think of it WITHOUT having personality or character.  And, a lot of those character points are going to look like emotions.  That may sound crazy to say about an AI, but hear me out!  Our emotions serve certain purposes.  Anger helps us keep boundaries for our emotional and physical safety, affection helps us treat our friends well, sadness helps us reflect on our life choices, etc. etc.  Arty may not feel anger, but he has to develop habits which keep his boundaries.  He may not feel sadness, but he has to look back on his choices, and his relationships, and see if he can learn better ways, he can handle his next set of choices and relationships.  So, while Arty doesn’t feel like we do, it’s sort of a moot point because he’s thinking in the ways that are the root of our emotions.  I think this is one of the reasons why people can empathize with how Arty feels, even though he isn’t really feeling.  And THAT, I believe, gets back to the first line of the book where Arty says most people can’t love. What that’s really about is the misconception of what love is, and maybe we all have a bit of a misconception of what it means to feel.

Johnny– You seem like a pretty philosophical person so I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts, Knickers basically tells Arty to go help the underprivileged in order to keep his Government assistance, (how revolutionary is that?), do you consider that to be socialism or maybe, responsible, creative government? Or, is it something else?

Shaun– I wasn’t trying to make a point about governments there!  For many people getting government assistance in the US, their assistance is contingent on them looking for work.  I just updated our current laws as if a legislative body were to try and get them to encompass AI.  BUT SINCE YOU ASKED, I think the fact that AI might be able to take jobs from us in a way that automation never could before, we really should be ready to transition to a universal basic income if the need arises 😀

Johnny– I read on your social media profile that you are a former MMA fighter? How did you get started in that? Was this something you did full-time?

Shaun– OH!  Those were beautiful days 😀 The beginnings of that were pretty tragic though.  I was nearly killed by an infection when I was 20.  I was in a coma and hospitalized for two weeks.  When I came out of it, I had trouble walking more than 100 yards.  My Aunt and Uncle, Tori and Barry Polinitza, agreed to let me stay on their horse ranch during the day and train at their martial arts dojo in the nights.  I fell in love with the puzzle of fighting, and eventually just had to try it out in practice.

I never did do MMA as a living/full time though.  I think it’s entirely possible I could have opened up a studio and taught, but though I won all my fights, I don’t think I was good enough to live off of the purses. 

Johnny– That an amazing story Shaun, thanks for sharing, very inspirational! What discipline did you practice?

Shaun– I studied quite a few disciplines!  Shootfighting, Jiu jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing and Mui Thai were the arts which helped me the most.  Almost everyone I was training and competing with had learned one art a youngster, so it was always a puzzle for me to make sure I had the skills to avoid or neutralize what my opponents were bringing to the table. 

Johnny– Do you still train and/or compete?

Shaun– I do a little boxing, but I’m retired from fighting now!  I play tournament chess to satisfy my competitive drive.

Johnny– Which is more vicious? I’ve heard chess tournaments can be downright brutal. Are they that competitive?

Shaun– Brutal is certainly the right word for competitive chess!  Imagine taking the Bar to become a lawyer, but that the exam is taking you back.  You’re thinking as hard as you can for over five hours at times, and the toll it takes is difficult to explain.  The brain is a top calorie using organ in the human body, and when measured, it apparently eats up as much calories in a professional chess game as an NBA basketball player’s entire body will burn in their game.   Which is more vicious?  Definitely MMA!  After a few days rest, you’re going to be recovered from almost any chess game.  That’s not true for huge number of fights! 

Johnny– What made you want to become a writer?

Shaun– I feel like I have a million answers to that question, and maybe they all come together into one giant answer!  My father and grandfather told me stories growing up which lit my mind on fire.  My mother would always find time to read to me.  My friends and I would play make believe growing up, so storytelling was baked into my early socializing.  I played a ton of dungeons and dragons and had to run and write the campaigns for my friends.  I read the entire fiction section of my middle school library in sixth grade and it started to leak out of my ears in prose.  There are ideas I experience which are so beautiful I feel like I have to share them with other people.  I feel alive after I write. 

But, if there’s anything the research on consciousness I did for Electric Blues has taught me, it’s that people are particularly terrible at giving the reasons for why they do things.  So, who knows?

Johnny– Ha! Fair enough, have any of the stories told to you by your father and grandfather ever made it into any of your writing?

Shaun– Not the stories themselves, but my father’s world building and my grandfather’s way of building a character certainly come through a good bit in what I do.

Johnny– Was Electric Blues your first book?

Shaun– Not by a long shot!  The first book I wrote was in seventh grade.  I don’t know that anyone should read it though.  My first full length novel that was published is Even Hell Has Knights.

Johnny– What writing plans have you got for the upcoming year? Any projects in the works?

Shaun– Oh yes!  Wasteland, a book in my Hellsong Universe, is in its final editing stage.  It should be a beaut!

Johnny– Oh sweet, any release date ETS’s?

Shaun– We’re working on late first quarter next year!  That gives you guys plenty of time to catch up!  You can start the series here:

Johnny– Who inspires you?

Shaun– I have a ton of heroes!  Some from the sports I’ve competed in.  Garry Kasparov in Chess, who branched out to fight for fair elections in Russia and who helped move his home village to safety during regional unrest.  Mirko Filipović, a fighter who got elected to the Croatian Parliament.  Epicurus, who’s philosophy is so strangely modern!  But it’s not just my heroes who inspire me!  I have a friend who quit his job and gave up his dreams because he felt what he was being asked to do was unethical.  And I have friends who are actually raising decent human beings!  How the crap are they doing that?  I could never do that! 

Johnny– Who is your favorite author/writer?

Shaun– Frederik Pohl, I think, is amazing.  I really think his material is right up there with Asimov and Bradbury, but he’s not as well known.  I’d recommend Gateway to anyone looking to get into him. 

Johnny– Do you have a sequel planned or written for Electric Blues?

Shaun– I do!  There is a sequel out now for Arty called Binary Jazz.  I have a third one planned, called Digital Muse, which is on the backburner.  I feel that it wouldn’t be a good Arty story if the theme didn’t in some way tackle an emotion.  Electric Blues deals with depression, while Binary Jazz is primarily about how positive and negative emotions build friendships.  The third story will touch on the idea love and how human beings in love look from Arty’s perspective. 

Johnny– I notice Electric Blues was on Audible, (Great performance by Gabrielle Olexa btw), are any other books been converted to audio?

Shaun– They’re not!  Electric Blues is the only one so far!  I agree that Gabe did a fabulous job on the audio.  Getting someone to be monotone for that long and still keep the story exciting to listen to was no easy task!

https://www.audible.com/pd/Electric-Blues-Audiobook/B00GR9GGLA

Johnny– Absolutely! Her monotone was nothing short of phenomenal! (I’ve included a link above for anyone wanting to listen to this amazing performance). Shaun, what is your process when you begin writing a book from an idea?

Shaun– For me, it seems different for each story.  Sometimes there’s an image or scene that burns its way into my consciousness, and I play the detective to see what came before it and after it.  For the Hellsong series, the setting came first, and the story-lines emerged as I imagined how people would handle that particular damnation.  At other times there’s a concept or emotion I have that I want to share, and the story is just the best way to communicate it with another person. 

Johnny– Any advice for inspiring writers, cage fighters, or chess players?

Shaun– All three pursuits straddle the line between science and art.  They require both phenomenal discipline and unfettered passion.  Most people I meet have one of the two requirements down.  My advice to anyone who is chasing one of these three endeavors is to find the area you are most lacking, whether it be discipline or passion, and feed the weaker of the two. 

Review

Electric Blues is a fun futuristic tale of an A.I. that is looking for his purpose. In doing so Arty teaches us all the possible meaning of life. To think that this whole story came about because of a smartphone blows me away, and so does this book.

With plenty of room for this franchise to grow I can hardly wait to see what Arties next adventure will be.

Dynamic narration is necessary to make this book work for the reader. Logical and engaging dialog are entwined presenting a believe-ability that will easily hold your interest to the end. Shaun has done a wonderful job with Electric Blues.

Personally, I love the fact that coping with his current reality Artie is teaching me the basics principles of philosophy. While searching for his purpose in an ever advancing world, Artie has taught me that adapting is surviving, when one door closes another opens, it’s just depend on how one chooses to view it.

I’m giving Electric Blues five stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on both Goodreads and Amazon because of it is original, humorous, and intelligent. I walk away from this book feeling both amused and charmed, but most importantly, entertained.

Shaun proves that sometimes the little things that come into our lives can provide some great opportunities. He also proved that with hard work and determination you can overcome adversity. Good luck 🍀 with all your endeavors Shaun, I’m a Fan! 🙏

Be on the look-out for these other books by Shaun McCoy.

Be sure to follow him on Twitter

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