Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Henry L. Sullivan III, Author of The American Fathers

SullivanAmericanFathersSweptAwayFolks, it is with pleasure that I welcome Henry L. Sullivan to the blog today. I quite enjoyed the first episode (Swept Away) of his audio drama series, The American Fathers. We chat about obstacle courses, creating smart, lively characters, the importance of reviews, and so much more. Don’t forget to check out the audiobook GIVEAWAY at the end of the post!

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

Interacting with readers and audiobook listeners is my favorite part of self-promotion. I’ve had private message (PM) exchanges with readers through LibraryThing and Goodreads. Hearing what people thought about something I’ve written is the primary thing that keeps me going. I think, on some level, all writers hope that the public will enjoy their work. I personally love it when that happens.

My least favorite part of self-promotion is having to ask people who have downloaded review copies of my work for honest reviews. I’ve used LibraryThing’s early reviewer program, and have found that only one out of twenty or thirty people who download the book through that program actually post a review. I’ve done several giveaways. If this is what LibraryThing’s early reviewer program is in reality, it would be great if it were just called that. And to be honest, I feel so bad about bugging people for the review they promised, that I usually don’t do it. The problem there though is that in reality your book lives or dies by reviews. I’ve read several articles and heard successful writers say that less than one percent of people who read a book will post a review of that book, even if they enjoyed the book. Most of the reviews I’ve gotten so far have been either five or four star reviews, but I appreciated the one star review I received from one early reviewer, simply because it was her honest opinion. I was surprised to find after receiving that one star review that it didn’t necessarily stop readers from buying the book. I was told by one woman through a PM that she tried my book because it had BOTH five star reviews and a one star review, which made her believe that the reviews were from real people and not provided through a service or by fellow writers, friends and family only.

SullivanDinnerInvitationThe mix of near-future political intrigue and erotica in The American Fathers series is both smart and sexy. What brought these two elements together for you?

Smart and sexy! (lol)​ I am so glad you see it that way.

I​n writing Sheila and Jasira I​ made mistakes at first, but things started to come together as I got two things right – Sheila’s character, and the role Sheila and Jasira’s relationship plays in the overall premise of the serial.

First let me explain how the Sheila you heard in the recording​ came to be. When I first started writing Sheila, the point of view character for Episode 1, I emphasized her political ideology – concern for workers’ rights and well being, opposition to the dominance corporations have in our society, similar to what Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been talking about for the last couple of years. There were two problems with that Sheila: 1) she didn’t have much personality, and 2) readers could not see why Jasira was attracted to her.

It may be hard to see the transition here, but Sheila became a stronger character when I started working with Adrianne Cury, director and narrator of Episode 1 – the full cast audio book (or audio drama). It happened quite by accident. We were trying to figure out how to promote the project, but even though we had already ​cast Fawzia Mirza in the role of Jasira, we hadn’t cast anyone for Sheila, so we didn’t have dialogue recorded for that character. Adrianne offered to perform Sheila’s dialogue for the promotional recording. I should mention here that Adrianne spent her childhood in the south, but the character, Sheila, was originally from Ohio. Adrianne’s suggestion made me consider, for the first time, making Sheila a southerner. That background change totally transformed my perception of the character. Sheila went from being a kind, passive, lonely, and yet ​a ​passionate academic, to a feisty, opinionated, socially awkward, and not necessarily nice but well intentioned academic/advocate. ​Once a southerner, she literally jumped off the page, and became one of my favorite characters to write because her choices and behavior ​we​re so compelling and​ interesting.

Figuring out how to use each episode to lay out the overall premise of the serial was the other thing that happened around this time. Feedback I received in a developmental edit from Juliet Ulman was extremely helpful. Juliet thought Sheila’s relationship with Jasira in the original version of Episode 1 was a Rom Com (romantic comedy), while the serial’s overall premise was more akin to an action thriller or drama – ​in 2032, the United States of America officially becomes ruled by thirteen dynast​ies. Sheila and Jasira’s relationship in the original version of episode 1 didn’t have anything to do with the overall serial. ​I knew the premise, I just hadn’t written it into the story.

Both Juliet and Adrianne were pretty blunt with me. Juliet said I missed​ a great​ opportunity conve​ying the conceptual aspects of dynastic rule in 2032 America ​through the work and perspective of a labor economist – Dr. Sheila McKinley. Adrianne said Sheila and Jasira’s dialogue was too ditzy and silly for intelligent women – one, a successful economist, the other, a successful journalist.

They were both right. As I said earlier, making Sheila a southerner made her interesting and a lot more fun to write. I tried to make her obsession with and suspicion of the dynasties work by expressing it through ​her new,​ pushy, no-nonsense personality.

You may be wondering about Jasira. All I can say is that for some reason she has been a clear, easy character for me to write from the beginning. The combination of her ambiguous relationship with the dynasties, the fact that this matters a lot to Sheila, Sheila’s attraction to Jasira, Jasira’s unexplained and yet explicit interest in ​Sheila, are all juicy elements that come together like a great gumbo.

One important thing to know about my ​writing ​style is that I ​lay out my​ stories through the framework of ​romantic ​couples.

  • Skepticism about this new political arrangement – dynasties ruling America – is told through Sheila’s relationship with Jasira.
  • The personal toll this new arrangement has on the people in power is told through Devin Wayne’s relationship with Irene Daco (Devin is military intelligence. Irene is America’s first princess).
  • The story of dynasties rising to​ become America’s official rulers is told through Victor Daco and Natalia Daco meeting, ​getting, and building the most powerful dynastic House in America (The New Rule creates thirteen houses, and Victor and Natalia are Irene parents).
  • The story of how some r​ebe​ls are just disgruntled elites is told through the story of Todd Giannopoulos (a Point One Percent, or POP Watcher​ – the POP Watchers are hacktivists​) and Ever Harrington (heir to House Harrington).

As for the sex, I’ve been told Devin and Irene’s sex is generally steamier than Sheila and Jasira’s, but I guess that all depends on the personal preferences of the reader. Sex has had a big influence on my personal relationships, so I have a hard time writing these couples without sharing their sexual experiences with the reader. To me, that’s the heart of how fiction works – the author shares the personal experiences of a character with readers. Since sex ha​s been important in my life, sharing the sexual experiences of my characters with the reader just makes sense to me.

SullivanEscapeFromNewOrleansWhat has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

For over ten years I worked as a manager for different national retail and restaurant chains. I hated that job. I had to work thirty two hours straight once because every one of my employees quit instead of coming to work. This happened four shifts in a row. I was the new manager of that gas station, and each employee quit without notice.

Writing is an extremely satisfying experience. The world is a better place for me when I’m writing.

Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you?

The BBC adaptation of White Teeth by Zadie Smith is the truest book to TV adaptation I have ever seen. I don’t play video games, however.

Full-cast audio experience versus single-person narration: what made you choose one over the other?

I have a strong preference for the fullness in sound produced by full cast as compared to regular audiobooks. I’m impressed, sometimes, by an actor’s ability to perform multiple roles in a recording, but I never like the singular feel that method produces. I always know it’s the same person, even when they’re doing a great job distinguishing one character from another. I cannot remember ever liking a male actor’s portrayal of a female character. I’ve heard some that were terrible. But male to female or female to male, I always prefer hearing individual performances of each character.

American Gods, for instance, for me was a much more satisfying listen than The Fall of Hyperion, even though I enjoyed reading The Fall of Hyperion. Both novels were written very well, but for me the experience of listening to the recorded performance is better when different actors are cast for each one of the main characters.

SullivanTheAnalystWhat do you do when you are not writing?

​Housework. I’ve been doing the laundry in between writing responses to this interview. I can cook, but everyone in my household has different preferences, so I usually cook what I want to eat. I probably don’t clean to most people’s satisfaction, but I try not to make more mess than I can handle myself. ​

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

​I would either invite Bartimaeus (from the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud​), Seraphina (from the novel by Rachel Hartman), Celia Bowen (from the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern), or Brawne Lamia (Hyperion by Dan Simmons, which was also a great full cast audiobook by the way).

Drinking with any one of these characters would be extremely interesting. Seraphina is the only one out of the four who would complain the entire time (until drunk, of course), effectively serving as a burden, until her dragon uncle flew in to help.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I recently took two road trips – one from the Chicago area to Bimidji, Minnesota, the other to Lake Norman, North Carolina. During the first trip I formulated the background story for Devin Wayne, point of view character for Episode 3: Escape From New Orleans, Episode Five: Return of the Prince, and Episode 9: Voyage to Nowhere. Maybe because we took the second trip shortly after the Bimidji trip, I began writing Voyage To Nowhere. Here’s what I have for the episode summary so far:

Devin and Irene are running from teams of assassins working for House Watson. Devin has a plan. He knows they will be safe if only they can make it to Nowhere. For the first time in Devin’s life, he hopes he will have the opportunity to introduce a woman to his parents. He is sure about his feelings for Irene, but not about the nature of their relationship. What future can they possibly have? Her father, Victor, no longer wants to kill him. But Irene is still a princess whose kingdom is at war. Even if they make it home, he doubts she will want to stay Nowhere forever.

SullivanAmericanFathersSweptAwayBook Blurb for The American Fathers: Swept Away:

Fresh off a break up, Sheila McKinley, the easygoing college professor, meets Jasira Said, the up and coming journalist and political columnist.

Sheila has no idea her friend Rima is acquainted with Jasira, so their arranged meeting is easily disguised as a simple dinner party. Even after she agrees to show Jasira around town, she really doesn’t suspect her real intentions. But after an accident at a night club things move quickly, until everything is crystal clear.

Places to Stalk Henry L. Sullivan






Henry Sullivan is graciously offering ten copies of Swept Away (Episode 1 of The American Fathers series). Honest reviews, of course, would be welcome and appreciated. In order to enter the giveaway, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Do you have an account? 2) What are some of your favorite audio dramas? 3) Leave a way for me to contact you! Giveaway ends November 5, 2015, midnight.

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Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

Tofu kitty with a very good book.

Tofu kitty with a very good book.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Anne Flosnik

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2009)

Length: 27 hours 52 minutes

Series: Book 2 Kushiel’s Legacy

Author’s Page

Note: It is possible to read this book as a stand alone as relevant events from Book 1 are reflected upon in enough detail for a reader of Book 2 to grasp the point. However, I highly recommend reading Book 1 as it is just so damn good!

We return once again to the alternate history of Terre D’Ange (France) and the surrounding lands. Book 2 picks up several months after Book 1 ended. Melisande Sharhizai is still at large. However, very early in Book 2 our heroine Phedre receives a challenge of sorts from Melisande – her sangoire cloak is returned to her via a carrier from Caerdicca Unitas (Italy) and more specifically La Serenissima (Venice). Phedre truly believes that Terre D’Ange and the queen (Ysandre) are in danger so long as Melisande is free. The challenge sets in motion events that will change Phedre’s life forever.

Here we have another masterfully crafted book from Jacqueline Carey. Sometimes sequels aren’t near as good as the first in the series but this series holds it’s own weight as it progresses. I have read this book several times now and this is my second time listening to it. First, I love how the characters continue to grow and how the world continues to expand as Phedre’s travels take her further afield. Second, Melisande continues to make a most worthy opponent. Phedre definitely has her work cut out for her in this book!

Once again, we are told the story through Phedre’s eyes. She was raised in the Court of the Night Blooming flowers and being subservient and unseen (expect maybe as a pretty plaything) comes easily to her. She polished off her training in Anafiel Delaunay’s house where she learned history, politics, languages, and how to think in a rational manner. Both served her well in Book 1 and they do so again in Book 2. Yet this journey she comes to understand her powers a bit more – her will power to live, her ability to forgive, her strength to deny Melisande. That which yields, is not always weak (a quote from Kushiel’s Dart).

There were two interesting themes that twined throughout the novel: loyalty and grief. Again and again, we see Phedre and other characters having to figure out where their loyalties really lie – with queen and country? To the deities they serve? To family? I think Joscelin struggled the most with this one. Grief made an interesting thread throughout the book. What is a mortal’s grief compared to the grief of a goddess? How do you mourn the passing of something not of a physical nature, such as friendship or love? These were some big ideas to contemplate even as my mind was fully engaged in the day to day decisions of the characters.

This time through, I listened to the book as part of a read along. It was a great experience and let me see things about the book I had not seen before. For instance, I had not really noticed before that Phedre is, on occasion, a little bit of a snob. Now I see it in small things and I see how it ties to her upbringing and culture. This in turn let’s me see it in other Terre D’Ange characters. And this leads to a nuanced part of the plot of this book – how Terre D’Ange has been a bit xenophobic towards other cultures for too long and it has cost them in the larger arena of politics. This book (and the entire series) is awesome because you can reread it and take something new away each time.

As with Kushiel’s Dart, there is also plenty of sex and it is told in just as much detail as the rest of the story. You may blush a bit. The sex scenes serve to show certain aspects of the characters involved or to move the plot forward. I never feel that space is wasted on these scenes. Plus, some of them are rather educational in and of themselves. ;)

As with Book 1, I was completely swept up into Phedre’s world once again. Jacqueline Carey makes great use of languages to round out a culture. If you’re a bit of a linguistics geek, you will love this aspect of the series. It’s a rich world, a devilishly intriguing plot, and characters you will never forget. Reading it the 7th time was just as good as reading it the first time.

The Narration: Anne Flosnik is once again the voice of Phedre, and a great fit she is too! Phedre’s voice is how we experience the story and, hence, Phedre’s emotions come through the loudest. Flosnik did a great job imbuing the characters with emotions, but especially, Phedre. My heart broke and soared for her multiple times throughout the tale! The linguistics keep piling up in this series and Flosnik met the challenge magnificnetly.

What I Liked: The cover art; Phedre, of course; yeah! more travels!; pirates!; interesting exploration of grief; Joscelin and Phedre have to work on their relationship; Melisande is the evil that you love to hate; fantastic narration; the ending was satisfying but left the door open for Book 3.

What I Disliked: Nothing –  I adore this book.

What Others Think:


Megan Cashman

Fantasy Book Review

SF Site


Drama Queen by Joe Cosentino

CosentinoDramaQueenWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Michael Gilboe

Publisher: Lethe Press (2015)

Length: 6 hours 31 minutes

Series: Book 1 A Nicky and Noah Mystery

Author’s Page

Nicky Abbondanza is at the center of this murder mystery. Set on the Treemeadow college campus that focuses on the theater arts, there are plenty of characters that are literally trained in the arts of deceit, deflection, deception, and out right artful lies. It’s going to be tough to figure out who is racking up the bodies. And then there is Noah Oliver, an assistant professor who is up for tenure. every time Nicky sees Noah, his heart does a little flip.

As you can tell by the name of the series (A Nicky & Noah Mystery) these two eventually team up. First, we have to go through all the cutsy stuff of them figuring out that they like each other. That was pretty sweet. Once their romance is off and running, it moves really quickly. In fact, that is probably one of the things that I found a bit silly about the plot. I think they went from friend/colleagues to lovers to moving in together in less than a week. Such a fast romance wasn’t really necessary for the plot.

The murder mystery itself was fun. There are plenty of suspects and plenty of bodies. So of course we have to wonder if we have one killer or multiple killers. The suspects have good motivations too for wanting some or all of the victims dead. I was guessing until the end. The final culprit(s) was a total surprise and I felt it came out of left field a bit. It left me a little unsatisfied.

Humor and wit twine together in this twisty murder mystery. Some of the humor was punny and a little predictable. I did laugh a few times. There were plenty of jokes about people being in the closet and being rather frustrated, angry folks because of it. The first time or two, it fit the plot and was worth a chuckle. Then some of the jokes kept being repeated throughout the story. This was one of those books I had to be in the mood for so I listened to it in chunks. This book definitely lives up to it’s name with plenty of characters having dramas big and little.

Now for the sex scenes. They are steamy and hot, sometimes lengthy and sometimes brief. Sometimes we get plenty of detail (including measurements of people’s personal equipment), and sometimes it was some kissing and then the curtain closed so we don’t get to see what they did next. It worked with the story and gave a little break from the action (of the murder mystery).

I really, really liked that we have such a representation of the LGBTQ community. In some cases (especially for the minor characters) that was their defining character. But for the main characters, their sexual preferences was secondary to their person (job, likes, believes,etc.).

Overall, I enjoyed this flawed tale. It was fun and unlike any other murder mystery I have listened to. The uniqueness definitely grabbed me up front. While the dramatic humor weared on me here and there, I was hooked by the plot and really wanted to know who did the deed. While the ending left me feeling luke warm on the plot’s resolution, I still wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another Cosentino book to see what he comes up with next.

I received a copy of this book from the author at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Michael Gilboe did a very good job on this book. It had a pretty large cast for a fairly short novel. His male voices were distinct and varied enough to keep everyone straight. He managed the same for the ladies with the added bonus of having believable female voices. He also pulled off the exaggerated gay accent when needed.  

What I Liked: The cover art; the setting; a unique murder mystery; Noah and Nicky (sigh); the romance is cute; a higher body count than expected; the murder mystery had me guessing the entire time; great narration.

What I Disliked: Sometimes the repeated dramatic humor wore me down; Noah’s & Nicky’s relationship moved really, really quickly; the ending left me wanting a bit more.

What Others Think:

MM Good Book Reviews

Joyfully Jay

Bike Book Reviews

Gay. Guy. Reading and Friends

J. Barron Owens

The Novel Approach

Prism Book Alliance

On Top Down Under Book Reviews

3 Chicks After Dark

Reviews by Amos Lassen

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Giveaway & Interview: Peter Golden, Author of Wherever There Is Light

GoldenWhereverThereIsLightFolks, please give a warm welcome to Peter Golden. We chat about historical works, art, Paris, and much more. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the end of the post! Enjoy!

Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

The writer Anton Chekov observed that if a gun is hanging over the fireplace in the first act of a play, it must be fired in the next act. This is true of characters. Each one must have a role that fits in the story. No such thing as a throwaway character for the careful writer.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. I’d like to re-experience my discovery of Paris in literature. It was magical. It sill is, but not like that first time.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

Everything serves the story. Mundane events can help with pacing or reveal character, but if they don’t, then bye-bye.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

William Shakespeare, Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, and Ernest Hemingway. We won’t necessarily be discussing books. I’d want them to talk to me about writing, to teach me what they think is important.

GoldenComebackLoveConventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

That’s easy. My favorite is communicating with people. My least favorite is blowing my own horn. I try to be reserved, because I find it embarrassing.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I worked in a locked psychiatric ward right after college. It was heartbreaking. Writing can also be heartbreaking, but at least I’m the only one I see doing the suffering.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

Too many to list here, since I rely heavily on books and archives for my historical novels. I will say this: I’ll read any new book about Paris, World War II, the Cold War, the 1950s, and the Holocaust.

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

The six-volume set of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

Any painting by Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall. I’d keep it for six months and share it for months.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

I’d be a painter or photographer.

GoldenWhereverThereIsLightBook Blurb for Wherever There Is Light:

Julian Rose is only fifteen when he leaves his family and Germany for a new life in 1920s America. Lonely at first, he eventually finds his way—first by joining up with Longy Zwillman and becoming one of the preeminent bootleggers on the East Coast, and later by amassing a fortune in real estate.

Kendall Wakefield is a free-spirited college senior who longs to become a painter. Her mother, the daughter of a slave and founder of an African-American college in South Florida, is determined to find a suitable match for her only daughter.

African-American colleges rescued hundreds of German Jewish professors and their families from the Nazis, and one evening in 1938, Mrs. Wakefield hosts a dinner that reunites Julian with his mother and father, a famous philosopher. It also brings Julian and Kendall together for the first time. That encounter begins a thirty-year affair that will take the lovers from the beaches of Miami to the jazz clubs of Greenwich Village to postwar life in Paris, where they will mingle with Sartre, Picasso, and a host of other artists and intellectuals. Through his years serving in American intelligence and as an interrogator at the Nuremberg trials, what Julian wants most is to marry and find the joy that eluded his parents. Kendall craves her freedom, and after trading her oil paints for a Leica camera, becomes a celebrated photographer, and among the first American journalists to photograph the survivors of a liberated concentration camp. Yet despite distance, their competing desires, and the rapidly changing world, their longing for each other remains a constant in the ceaseless sweep of time.

Captivating and infused with historical detail, this is the epic tale of three generations, two different but intertwined families, and one unforgettable love story.

Author Bio:

Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, historian, and novelist who, during the course of his long and varied career, has interviewed Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush; Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, George Shultz, and Lawrence Eagleburger; Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Shamir; and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Golden’s Quiet Diplomat, published in 1992, was a biography of industrialist and political- insider Max M. Fisher. It made the Detroit Free Press bestseller list and was widely reviewed. Commentary magazine declared the biography a “meticulously researched and gracefully written book” that “gives us a concrete view of the emergence of American Jews into the mainstream of national politics since World War II.” In his review of the biography, historian and political analyst J.J. Goldberg wrote that Quiet Diplomat was “a disturbing, challenging book. It suggests, without answering, a wide range of questions about the relationship between the American Jewish community and its ‘leadership,’ and between the Diaspora community and the state of Israel. . . . In the end, [Golden] leaves readers free to draw their own conclusions.” One facet of diplomacy Golden uncovered was that during a 1965 visit Fisher made to President Dwight D. Eisenhower at his Gettysburg farm, the president told him that he regretted pushing Israel to pull out of the Sinai. This fact was essentially unknown to historians until Golden wrote about it, and the claim was backed up by President Richard Nixon, who told Golden: “Eisenhower. . . told me—and I am sure he told others—that he thought the action that was taken [at Suez] was a mistake.”

Golden returned to journalism and won, among other kudos, the New York State Bar Association’s Media Award. Some of Golden’s work has appeared in the Detroit Free Press Magazine, The Albany Times Union, New Jersey Monthly, Microsoft’s eDirections, Beyond Computing, The Forward, and Capital Magazine.

In 2000, Golden co-wrote the memoir, I Rest My Case, chronicling the life of J. Stanley Shaw, one of the preeminent bankruptcy attorneys in the United States.
Golden’s first foray into fiction were the five interactive novels for computers he wrote as part of a joint venture between Imagic and Bantam Books that became known as the “Living Literature Series.” His interactive computer novel, Another Bow, was a Sherlock Holmes mystery set aboard the S.S. Destiny and was a Waldenbooks bestseller.
In 2012, Golden’s traditional novel, Comeback Love, which explored the changes in America during the 1960s, was published by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Reviews were excellent—“Golden’s breakout debut fiction is a passionate story of love, loss and reconciliation. . . Grab a handful of tissues. . . then start speculating on actors best suited to bring Gordon and Glenna to the big screen.” (Kirkus) “Glenna and Gordon’s romance rises and falls with the familiar but engrossing tempo of reckless, youthful passion.” (Publishers Weekly) “Golden’s first novel resonates with the great experiences typical of a life—love, sorrow, loss, lessons, resolutions. . . . The sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic emotional dancing Gordon and Glenna engage in reads as honestly and accurately as any love story between two people who come together, come apart, then reconnect decades later.” (Booklist) “In this extraordinary debut, Golden unfolds the shimmering story of Gordon and Glenna, two joined-at-the-hip lovers, who meet and meld in the swinging sixties, only to be torn apart by the Vietnam War and Gordon’s draft lottery number. But Gordon never forgets Glenna, and years later, he tracks her down, fighting against the secrets of the past to struggle to rekindle their bond. A tumultuously wonderful novel about lost love, passion and regret.” (Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You.)

That same year, Golden’s history of the Cold War and its relationship to the Soviet Jewry movement, O Powerful Western Star! was published by Gefen Books. Of the history, Professor Henry L. Feingold, the dean of American Jewish historians, wrote: “The rescue of Soviet Jewry was an enormously complex happening. Now Peter Golden has woven the entire story in a broad-ranging tapestry of historical incidents and processes. A talented novelist has been let loose to make sense of this crucial exodus with the result that a dense history has been magically transformed. O Powerful Western Star! reads like a good novel.” Publishers Weekly deemed the book “an extensively researched history” and observed that “given its politically-charged subject matter, Golden is remarkably even-handed.”

On November 3, 2015, Atria Books will publish Golden’s Wherever There Is Light, a sweeping, panoramic, historical novel that covers three generations in the intertwined lives of two families—the Roses, who are Jewish, and the Wakefields, who are African American. The novel delves into the little known history of the rescue of German Jews from the Nazis by traditionally African-American colleges. Julian Rose, a former bootlegger, and his love interest, Kendall Ann Wakefield, whose family founded the college and becomes a world-renowned photographer, are the main protagonists of the story. The novel looks at the problems of interracial love affairs starting in 1938 and takes place in New Jersey, South Florida, Greenwich Village and Paris. It concludes in 1966 by tracing the fate of all the characters, both major and minor, as they struggle to come to grips with the fact they were all as haunted by the times they lived in as they were by their own private battles.

Places to Find Peter Golden






This giveaway is courtesy of Mr. Golden and JKS Communications. It is a blog tour wide giveaway. The prize is a VISA gift card equal to the number of entrants, up to $1000. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below!

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Interview: Kim McMahill, Author of A Dose of Danger

McMahillADoseOfDangerFolks, please give a warm welcome to Kim McMahill.We chat about Wyoming, snakes, how to win at an obstacle course, and plenty more! Enjoy!

How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

My stories are generally set in the present and several are even futuristic, so it’s impossible not to be influenced by modern pop culture in order to write realistic stories. In my latest novel, A Dose of Danger, a researcher believes she’s found a miracle weight loss supplement. In the U.S. the diet product industry is a 40 to 100 billion dollar a year industry, driven by the need of many to conform to social pressures to be thin or strive for a trendy look. We’re constantly deluged by what the perfect body image should be and the latest fad promising to deliver. But what if we were all thin and fit? Those invested in the diet product industry might not be too excited to see their profits disappear.

Modern cultural references definitely date books. Ten years from now that diet supplement might actually exist, so the plot no longer delves into a “what if” scenario. But hopefully the overall story is strong enough that it really doesn’t matter and the reader will see it as a touchstone, not an outdated story. Sometimes when I read an older book I get those nostalgic, “oh I remember that” feelings, and the memories evoked only make the story more enjoyable.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

During summer breaks throughout high school I cleaned motel rooms. There’s no comparison. Writing novels can take me on any grand adventure I can dream up and I get to share those stories with the world. The only thing I dreamed of when cleaning motel rooms was being done, and I seldom wanted to share any of those adventures with anyone.

McMahillMarkedInMexicoDo you have any phobias?

I can’t even look at snakes when I go to the zoo or I’ll likely have nightmares. We didn’t have a lot of snakes where I grew up in Wyoming, but we did have rattlesnakes. The up side was that my dad let my sister and I have all the cats we wanted since keeping the rodents (common snake prey) away from the house and barn also kept the snakes away.

When trekking through Khao Yai National Park in Thailand every time our guide stopped to show us a flower or mushroom, my heart nearly stopped. They have some seriously poisonous snakes in Thailand. Finally my husband asked the guide to quit pointing excitedly at the ground, because every time he did I was sure it was a cobra.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I absolutely loved The Lord of the Rings Trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novels. I re-watch my DVDs at least once a year, sometimes more. I wasn’t quite as excited about The Hobbit, and it was definitely a bad idea to mess with The Wizard of Oz.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

Kids that grow up in the country tend to be self-entertaining and often very creative, and I was no different. We only had about four channels of antenna television, so sitting around the house wasn’t an option. I had a pony, but no tricycle since those aren’t conducive to dirt roads, and dogs and cats for companions. When I got a little older I had a mini-bike. My sister and I would ride around the hills behind the house exploring all the gullies and rises all day. I loved to downhill ski, which I find ironic now since I’ve grown to dislike the cold. How did I stay out all day, seldom stopping for lunch, not wanting to miss a moment on the slopes?

I never thought about being a writer, but I should have known that’s where I’d end up. I had an active imagination as a kid, and I guess I still do. I love adventure and discovering new places. Now, whenever I can’t get out on the road, I can always read a book or write one and uncover something new and exciting.

McMahillShroudedInSecretsWhat do you do when you are not writing?

I enjoy gardening and spending time outdoors in the summers, reading and jigsaw puzzles in the winter, and traveling as much as I can whenever I can. I also enjoy tennis, playing and watching professional matches, and following my Wyoming Cowboys!

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

I don’t remember which specific story was first or my favorite, but I do remember a book of fairy tales that I absolutely loved. I read each story over and over until I wore the book out.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

That’s a tough one. Jack, in Marked In Mexico, is full of surprising skills which came in handy while eluding drug dealers in the Mexican jungle, and Logan in A Dose of Danger is not only smoking hot, but he will do whatever it takes to get the job done, against the odds and a host of professional assassins. But, Dirk Pitt has been part of my reading life for decades. He can get out of any situation, anywhere. I can’t tell you how many times he’s saved the world. Regardless of who participates in the obstacle course there would likely be libations. Dirk loves a fine tequila, Jack has also been known to dabble in the drink, and Logan will go with whatever the situation calls for.

McMahillADoseOfDangerBlurb for A Dose of Danger:

When researcher Grace Talbot and her team discover a possible solution for weight loss they are targeted by a group dedicated to controlling the multi-billion dollar a year diet-product industry. Her unsanctioned testing methods bring tragedy to the family ranch and the attention of the local sheriff’s deputy. With her colleagues either dead, missing, or on the run she soon realizes she must trust the deputy with her life, but can she trust him with her heart?

McMahillMarkedInMexicoBlurb for Marked in Mexico:

An idyllic Caribbean vacation turns deadly when hostages are taken at one of Mexico’s most popular Mayan ruins. The kidnappers believe the abduction will be a simple way to negotiate the release of a colleague from a Texas prison, but the stakes become much higher when they realize one of their hostages is the daughter of a powerful U.S. Senator and another, an ex-Army Ranger who has no intention of playing by the rules. After a daring escape the Senator’s daughter, Jessica, and the ex-Ranger, Jack, must endure a terrifying manhunt and a desperate fight for survival. While trying to stay alive in the unforgiving jungle they forge a bond that will last a lifetime and find love neither wanted, but were unable to avoid.

Places to Find Kim McMahill



Author Website

Author Blog


Fantasy Erotica by Derendrea

DerendreaFantasyEroticaWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Roberto Scarlato

Publisher: Derendrea Books (2015)

Length: 5 hours 29 minutes

Author’s Page

This book contains two short erotica stories: Valkyrie (urban fantasy) and Forgotten (science fiction)

Valkyrie: On a dark and snowy night, Jason comes across an injured woman, but she’s not exactly a woman. She’s got these large, bat-like wings. He’s really not too sure what she is or how she came to be injured but he’s an all-around nice guy. So he takes her in and nurses her back to health. The story then fast-forwards a number of years to when Val (which is short for her full name, Valkyrie) and Jason are living together in a major city in an apartment. The sexual tension between Jason and Val is very palpable and yet they have never completed an act to fulfill those needs. I felt this point of the story was unlikely as we have two full grown people living together for a number of years that are clearly attracted to each other and not attached to anyone else.

Setting that aside, the action really picks up in the second half of the story. Val doesn’t recall who she was before she was injured and left alone that snowy night. But all that is about to be revealed as she meets others of the night. Unfortunately for Jason, he becomes tainted and little more than a beast. Val desperately tries to save him. I didn’t know how this story would end. The author set it up perfectly to give a tragic ending or a fist-pumping save-the-day ending. The suspense at the end was nail biting. The tale is definitely Val’s. She’s the one the story focuses on and the other characters are just there to bounce stuff off of. Even Jason was sadly pretty one dimensional.

This book is more urban fantasy with erotica elements than erotica first and foremost. There’s plenty of sexual tension throughout the book but the sex doesn’t happen until the last quarter. There’s a minor sex scene and then a major love scene (and it is love between the two characters). The second scene was quite lovely and also smoking hot. I really enjoyed this book because we got hooked on the character Val long before we get to the sexy bits. I also enjoy the urban fantasy setting and the challenges for the characters such a setting brings.

Forgotten: In a scifi universe, Lifea is your basic house slave. She’s been a slave for some years and sees to menial chores aboard the spaceship. She wasn’t always a slave and she still has that spark that dreams and hopes for better days. Then, one day the slaver’s ship is attacked. She really doesn’t want to be captured or killed. She ends up in a storage room with this kind of mechanized space suit she found earlier. She was drawn to it then and now it seems this is her only option for hiding, and perhaps escape. Once inside the suit, it chats her up, much to her surprise. Tcai is a kind of ghost in the shell, a being that tied his essence to the suit many years ago. However, an organic being is needed to wear the suit and have it operate.

The two escape, but it’s not exactly to the ideal location. A deserted planet with lots of sand becomes their new foe to defeat. During that time, they learn more of each other. The last quarter of the book has flashbacks to Tcai’s previous existence as the two meet their latest struggle. I was completely taken in by this story and was concerned for the characters. I do believe this is the best story by Derendrea I have read so far. This story is definitely more scifi than erotica, though there are indeed steamy, very sensual, detailed love scenes. If you’re into scifi romance, then check this book out!

I received a copy of this book from the author at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Roberto Scarlato did a pretty good job with this book. He has a rich masculine voice for the male characters and decent feminine voices for the lady characters. He didn’t balk at the love scenes. I especially liked his voice for one of the valkyries in the first story and for Tcai in the second story.  

What I Liked: We get tied to the characters before we get to the sexy bits; the cover art; definitely enjoyed the SFF backgrounds for the two stories; the love scenes were about sensuality and connecting for the most part; really, really enjoyed Forgotten all around.

What I Disliked: In Valkyrie, I would have liked Jason to have a little more personality; I found it hard to believe Jason and Val had lived together for years and not acted on their obvious attraction for each other.

Giveaway & Interview: Marc Johnson, Author of The Passage of Hellsfire Series

JohnsonCatalystFolks, please welcome Marc Johnson, author of The Passage of Hellsfire series, to the blog today. We chat about young kid Marc, Leonardo’s Flying Maching, actress Laura Harris, and plenty more. Also, thanks to Marc, we have two GIVEAWAYS below – print books (for US shipping) and ebooks (for International)! Don’t miss those at the bottom of the post.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

I don’t believe that reality is that important in fiction. Every day and every second, people experience reality and its mundane trappings and extreme boredom. Fiction is a nice escape from it. That said, I do sprinkle in realty in my own work. Adds a sense of realism to it and keeps it grounded. It’s also something that people can relate to if they can’t relate to the magic, adventure, and life or death situations.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years and they’ve not been particularly difficult. I choose not to have to have difficult jobs, which for me would be mentally challenging jobs not physically challenging ones. That way, while I’m working I can think about my writing or any other thing I’m interested in that challenges me. If I wrote for my day job or actually had a challenging job, it’d probably make my writing suffer.

JohnsonWhatOnceWasOneWhich ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Can’t say that there is. There’s plenty of books I’ve not read yet that I wish I had. Slowly making my way through some of those. Just wish they were cheaper on my Kindle.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

If I could own something, it would be Leonardo DaVinci’s Flying Machine. I’ve always wanted to fly and it just looks cool. Plus, it would remind me of my favorite Voyager episode.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

When it comes to movies, I would say reboots in the 80s were fantastic. If we’re talking about words on a page, I would say today I don’t much care for them. It’s not because they don’t have interesting ideas, but more because everyone tries to make the retelling “dark” and “edgy,” not to mention violent and graphic.

That said, I did enjoy Wicked. But those stories that retell or reboot the classics without making them dark, edgy, gritty, or sexualizing them are rare. Not that I’m a prude, but doing that doesn’t add to the story and makes it lose focus of what the story was about.

JohnsonReawakeningIf everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Warning: An extreme case of pride.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

As a kid, I was a pain in the ass. I had quite the mouth on me and an extremely sharp mind. Those parts of me haven’t changed. I was also very hopeful for the world and for people. That part’s long gone.

In any case, I did envision myself being a writer, among other things. I have a lot of stories I want to get out and plan on everything from books to short stories to film to comics to television. I want to do it all!

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I once met Laura Harris as I was getting meat from my local butcher. She was my butcher, in fact, and I told her that she once looked like the actress from 24, Dead Like Me, and The Faculty. She told me she was! Never expected to meet an actor as I was buying meat. She was pretty low key and cool, and far more attractive in person.

Sadly, no one has ever gushed over my work to me. That’s all right. It would be extremely awkward if it ever did happened.

JohnsonCatalystCatalyst book blurb:

For centuries, the kingdom of Alexandria has protected Northern Shala from the monstrous creatures lurking in the Wastelands. Now, a dark force threatens that fragile peace.

Far from home, Alexandria’s princess is abducted. When a young villager named Hellsfire stumbles upon her and her captors, he rushes in to rescue her, alone and unarmed. His fear and fury unleash an uncontrollable magical force that grants him the power to save the princess—and change the world.

Hellsfire has never craved nor dreamed of power. But such magic as he now possesses has not been seen in Northern Shala for a thousand years, since the devastation of the War of the Wizards and the creation of the Wastelands.

Now Hellsfire must leave all he’s ever known, and make a dangerous journey to learn to master this wild, ferocious power—power he knows he is not ready to wield. More difficult still, he needs to master his emotions. If he can’t, the power will consume him, Alexandria will fall, and darkness will eclipse the land, destroying everyone he loves.

In the dead of cold, the spark shall burn…

JohnsonWhatOnceWasOneWhat Once Was One book blurb: 

Lead by the dark wizard, Premier, the kingdom of Alexandria was almost overrun by the foul creatures from the Wastelands. With the help of his friends and neighboring kingdoms, Hellsfire was able to defeat him, but only at the cost of his mentor.

Hellsfire is now a wizard, but he must finish what he started by hunting down Premier and retrieving the Book of Shazul. He must venture deep into the Wastelands, bypassing his way through thousands of creatures bent on killing him.

Beating in the heart of the Wastelands, is something far more dangerous than Premier or his beasts waiting for Hellsfire. It will force Hellsfire to make a devastating choice—a choice that will have repercussions not only for the Wastelands and Northern Shala, but for the entire land and the one he loves the most.

What once was one, will then be two, and never again be as whole…

JohnsonReawakeningReawakening book blurb:

To undo a mistake made a thousand years in the past, the wizard Hellsfire used his magic to bring down the Great Barrier that once divided the northern and southern lands. In doing so, he nearly brought war to his own homeland, and he afflicted the love of his life, Princess Krystal of Alexandria, with a potent and deadly curse.

Since then, Hellsfire has been working in Tyree with its Elemental Council, to rebuild its war-torn land and find a way to break Krystal’s curse. Now Krystal’s time is running out. As the princess fights for her life, Hellsfire learns that the wizard responsible for the curse—his old enemy Premier—is heading to the Burning Sands to steal the mysterious Jewel of Dakara.

If Hellsfire can capture Premier and learn the secret of the curse, he can save Krystal. But the Jewel of Dakara holds its own deadly secrets, and the hunt will take Hellsfire farther than he ever imagined, and cost him more than he bargained for.

The past is never gone nor buried…

Places to Find Marc Johnson






Folks, Marc has generously offered up two giveaways. 1) Open to US only consisting of both Catalyst and What Once Was One in print and Reawakening in ebook, as it’s only available as that for now. 2) Open internationally, winner will receive all 3 books in ebook format via email. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Are you USA or international? 2) What piece of art would you like to own? 3) Leave a way to contact you (email preferred). Contest ends October 27th, 2015, midnight.

Rafflecopter for USA Shipping Address (Print books)

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Rafflecopter for International (ebooks)

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