Release Day Blitz of A Way with You by Lane Hayes

Title:  A Way with You

Series: A Way With, Book 2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Amazon

Release Date: January 18, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30K

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Humor, Office Romance, New York City

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Reeve Nelson is determined to make it in Manhattan. He’s hardworking, dedicated and willing to put in the extra hours required to be successful at his new job at a prestigious real estate firm in the city. There’s no way he’s going back to small-town living and an ex-girlfriend who won’t let go. But his boss isn’t making it easy. 
Leo Rodriguez enjoys his reputation as a ruthless businessman. He’s a lone wolf who’s scraped his way from the gutter to rebuild his life and launch a distinguished career on his terms. When an opportunity to expand in the market comes up, Leo wants the eager new agent with a sense of wonder on the project. But nothing goes quite as planned. Reeve expected to be intimidated and overwhelmed by Leo, however, the explosive mutual attraction and fierce desire between them is a big surprise. Neither man is looking for love and yet, something special just might happen if they can find their way…together.


Yeah, this was my idea but I wasn’t prepared to be this close to Leo again. His mere presence overwhelmed me. He smelled so good. I wanted to bury my nose in the collar of his button-down shirt and just…breathe. I told myself Leo was a regular guy like every other guy here, but truthfully, he wasn’t the least bit ordinary. Even in executive chic, Leo turned more heads than the shirtless bartenders. And when he smiled at the young man next to me who offered him his stool, he added another admirer to his list.

I’d never been around anyone who changed the temperature in a room simply by entering it the way he did. It wasn’t his appearance either. His height and sharp sense of style might garner a second glance, but his true appeal was innate. It was in the way he spoke and moved. He didn’t mince words or waste time. He was concise and direct and acted with purpose. I got the impression Leo Rodriguez had a reason for everything he did, including wanting to meet with me.

Leo perched on the vacated stool and then hooked his thumb at me when I didn’t reply. “He’ll have a martini too.”

“No. I mean, yes. But with olives, please. No onions.” I thanked the bartender then swiveled to face Leo, accidentally bumping his knee.

I muttered a quick apology and cautioned myself to pull it together. Leo wasn’t my boss anymore, for fuck’s sake. I just wished he didn’t make me so anxious.

Commence the nervous chatter.

“Onions? No one orders onions,” I snorted. “And vodka-soaked onions are especially gross.”

Leo’s lip curled on one side like a pirate. “When was the last time you had a vodka-soaked onion?”

“Uh…well, never,” I admitted with a frown. “But it sounds gross.”

“Chocolate covered scorpions and braised frog legs are gross. Onions aren’t in the same zip code.”

I made a face and shivered. “Have you actually eaten those things?”

“Yeah, and actually, they’re not so bad. Chocolate hides the taste of anything, even insects, and frog legs taste like chicken. But you never know unless you try.”

“No thanks.”

Leo tsked playfully. “You have big opinions, a big mouth, and a hot temper, Nelson. No wonder I like you.” He nodded his thanks when the bartender delivered our cocktails then raised his glass in a mock toast. “To onions.”


“We sure as fuck ain’t drinkin’ to olives,” he quipped.

I chuckled at his comedic expression then sipped my martini while I wracked my brain for a non-confrontational topic of conversation to stall the inevitable one.

“What do you have against olives?” Weak. But it was better than nothing, and Leo seemed willing to play along.

“Nothing. It’s a texture thing. I don’t eat them if I can help it but I love olive oil. And tapenade is cool as long as those little suckers are chopped really fine. Otherwise, olives are a hard pass for me. Everyone has a food like that. What’s yours?”

“Kidney beans,” I replied quickly. “I like them in chili but not in salad. I have a great recipe for spicy chili that requires multiple glasses of water on standby. My grandmother made it when we were kids and”—I stopped to take a gulp of my drink before braving a look his way—“I’m sorry. You make me nervous.”

“Why, Reeve?” he purred, leaning into his elbow on the bar next to mine. “Is it because of last night?”

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Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

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Cover Reveal – White Night

Better late than never – a cover reveal of White Night!

In keeping with the theme of other YA novels at the moment, the cover of White Night by Ellie Marney is quite abstract. Think Our Chemical Hearts and The Build-Up Season. It’s good, because it doesn’t give too much away about the story. Now I just have to remember not to look at the synopsis. This looks like a great addition to the YA stable.

Spotlight with Simon J Morley

Please welcome Simon J Morley! His series, The Universe Wide Web, sounds like a worthy addition to sci-fi adventure fiction. Here’s a very quick Spotlight from him about his work.

I came up with the idea of The Universe Wide Web whilst idly playing with Google Maps. There I was, taking a virtual wander along Broadway in New York, from the comfort of my home in England, when the idea hit me…what if there was an internet for the whole universe? A way of connecting to other beings all over the universe. And what if this universe wide web let you not just see faraway places at the click of a button, but to travel there, instantaneously – an intergalactic internet.

A story started to form. The hero would have to be young, the young adopt technology so much better than adults; I decided it would be a thirteen-year-old schoolboy, like my own son. And the story, much like all the best children’s fiction – I was thinking of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – would give our hero access to a fantastical, magical world from the corner of his bedroom (isn’t that what games consoles and laptops do anyway). Sure, the Universe Wide Web isn’t magical, its technological – but, as with magic, with technology, anything can happen.

So where is the Universe Wide Web? Well, like the internet, it’s sort of everywhere, and who knows where. The internet is in the cloud isn’t it – sort of? The Universe Wide Web, on the other hand, is in the aether; up there somewhere in outer space. What a setting to grow my story in…an entire universe.

So, I have a setting, now for the characters. Once you’ve made the intergalactic step of logging on to the Universe Wide Web, who can you expect to meet out there? There’d be aliens, of course – so limitless character possibilities perhaps? But are intelligent online aliens really going to be that much different to us? Though, do you always know what type of person you’ve just encountered on the net? My guess is going on the Universe Wide Web would be much like going on to the internet here; you’d just meet ordinary, everyday beings – except, as we know, nobody is ordinary close-up. Beware!

The Universe Wide Web series has grown to become four fast paced adventure stories: 1. Getting Started, 2. Uploading, 3. Profile Settings, 4. Parental Guidance.

So, keep up with technology and log on to the Universe Wide Web; just one click and you can be with anyone, anywhere in the universe.

Spotlight with Andrew Joyce

Please welcome back Andrew Joyce! I have worked with Andrew before to promote his novel Yellow Hair and interview him. His newest novel, Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is sure to take the fancy of some readers! I know I love to read at bedtime.

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce. I have a new book out entitled Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups. It came about because my editor hounded me for two years to put all my short stories into one collection. Actually, it was supposed to be a two-volume set because there was so much material. I fended her off for as long as possible. I didn’t want to do the work of editing all the stories. There were a lot of them. But she finally wore me down. Instead of two volumes, I put all the stories into a single book because I wanted to get the whole thing over with. I had other books to write.

Bedtime Stories is made up of fiction and nonfiction stories and some of ’em are about my criminal youth. I must tell you, I never thought any of these stories would see the light of day. I wrote them for myself and then forgot about them. By the way, there are all sorts of genres within its pages, from westerns to detective stories to love stories and just about anything else that you can imagine.

There are a whole lotta stories in the book—700 pages worth. Enough to keep you reading for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, here’s one of the shorter stories from the book.


He stumbled upon the treasure quite by accident. He was exploring the vicinity when he happened upon it. His first thought was, This cannot be real. He cautiously approached it. Someone might be playing a trick on him. Maybe he was being observed. But no one sprung from a concealed location—no one yelled for him to halt his advance. It seemed safe to move forward. When he arrived at the treasure, he bent down to touch it, just to make sure it was real. After one touch, he fled to better-known and safer environs.

That night he could not sleep for thinking of what he had discovered. He thought and thought of ways he could explain it to members of his tribe. If he suddenly showed up with the treasure, anything he said would be suspect. One does not find treasure of this sort every day. No, he would have to think this through.

The next day he went back to where he had found the treasure, but dared not get too close. Instead, he peered at it from a distance. It was still there and untouched. But for how long would it stay undiscovered? A fire burned within him to possess it. If not for the taboo placed on matters of this sort by the Law Giver, he would claim the treasure as his own. But no, the Law Giver would never allow it.

As he tried to sleep on the second night after his discovery, he thought perhaps the Law Giver would understand. Perhaps he should approach her, and tell her of his find. No! If she forbade him from keeping the treasure, it would be lost forever. Conceivably, he could bring it to his village and hide it from the Law Giver. But … where could he hide it? The Law Giver was all-wise; she knew the secrets of his heart.

Quite unexpectedly, he overheard the Law Giver speaking of the place he had found the treasure. This is what he heard: “When they moved out, they told me they left a few things behind, and if we wanted anything, we were welcome to it. I’ve been too busy to go over there, but I think I’ll take a look this afternoon. Maybe there will be something Billy might like.”


Something I might like. Something I might like! Was she toying with him? Did she indeed know of the treasure? Later that afternoon, his mother called Billy to the front of the house. He was not allowed far from home because he was only five years old, so he appeared right away. His mother said, “Look what I found next door where the Simms used to live.” And there it was—the treasure!

His mother handed little Billy the bright red toy fire truck that had caused him to lose so much sleep. You see, Billy had been afraid his mother would think he had stolen it, even though it seemed to have been abandoned. And in his home, stealing was the one thing his mother, the Law Giver, would never tolerate.

Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”

Spotlight with Mita Balani

A Spotlight with Mita Balani


Mita Balani was born in a small town of India and has been living in the United States for several years. Growing up, she cherished writing stories and reciting poems. In engineering college, where most of her classmates published technical papers, she enjoyed taking part in storytelling contests, debates, and poetry competitions. Today she has a successful career in Information Technology, but she still loves writing stories and poems. This book is her first foray in writing a novel. This novel is inspired from parts of a true story. Life experiences of an Indian origin lesbian friend living in the United States inspired her to write this story.

You can connect with author on her website at
You can follow the author on social media:
Facebook: @MitaBalaniAuthor
Instagram: mitabalani
Twitter: @MitaBalani
Pintrest: mitabalani 


Breaking Norms is a story of two Indian girls living in Mumbai. It’s a tale of friendship, love and the struggle to be together as a same-sex couple. The book depicts their romantic love (non-erotic) and emotional journey from Mumbai to New Jersey through the social/cultural/family tussle and anguish. 


What if you fall in love and your family thinks you are crazy? Sonia too gets in a similar situation.

Sonia, a submissive and people-pleasing girl falls in love with the chirpy girl Esha. Their common passion for painting brings them closer. Sonia realizes that no one in her family will accept her relationship with Esha. But her heart and emotional state are beyond the control of her own mind. At first, they keep their relationship on the hush. Unfortunately, their secret comes out in an ugly way and havoc breaks loose. Will Sonia stand up for herself and withstand the pressure of not following the cultural norms? Are they destined to meet? Can Sonia and Esha live happily ever after?

Breaking Norms is a captivating and engrossing tale of love, agony and tolerance.

Book Video Teaser:

Find this novel on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Links given below for more details:

Amazon Australia Kindle

Amazon USA Kindle


A Few Quotes from Breaking Norms 

“The silence of the house gives the feeling of loneliness, broken hearts, and perhaps damaged relationships.”

“Abruptly, the promise of not leaving your husband until death hits me hard. I feel as if I am a demon who doesn’t want to play by the rules of marriage.”

“My own mind turns into my clever foe, leaving me miserable and unhappy, dropping me at the corner of a bifurcated road, for me to decide one path over the other to walk on.”

“A relationship with sadness is not new to me by now. But this time around, the depth of it is beyond anything I ever witnessed or even imagined.”

Spotlight with Katarina West

Spotlight with Katarina West

Today I have for you a Spotlight from Katarina West, author of Witchcraft Couture, and an author I have Interviewed and Spotlighted once before! She’s promoting her new novel, The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice. This is the first video I have ever hosted here, and I’m pretty excited! Tell me what you think!




Spotlight with Christopher David Rosales – Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper

A Spotlight with Christopher David Rosales

David Rosales is the author of ‘Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper’ and today you guys are lucky enough to get to see an excerpt from it!

Feeling excited about the novel already? Here are some links to get you started:
Official Website, Facebook, Twitter 


It was hard to say how Rudy Two’s son, the one called Tre, thought back then.

He stood in the square, against the town hall’s muraled wall, smoking from a joint pinched tight between his fingers. He was young, maybe eighteen, but more than that he was mean and we didn’t want to admit he might think like us—even if he did.

He had one foot kicked back flat against the painted wall, and grease smudged the toe of his shoe where it wore thin from all the gear-shifting in traffic. The motorbike wasn’t far. Wasn’t ever far. He’d left it in the shade in an alley so its red wouldn’t draw more attention. Still, it was getting late. The sun in the square was orange now. The birds were returning, one by one like fat drops of oil splashing at his feet. They hobbled near the broken fountain, where the old men fed them bread.

Another young man called Junior lumbered across the cobbles carrying a crushed envelope. Junior, big and baby-faced but no younger than Tre, almost leaned on the mural to catch his breath but dropped that hand with the other to both knees and went on panting. Tre went on leaning coolly, thinking cool thoughts and staring at the broken fountain in the center of the square. At least three different statues of three different mayors had stood there in his lifetime. He smirked at the crumbled concrete loafer, all that remained of one. These politicos, and their reverse Cinderella dreams. He imagined the same old loafer passed along from statue to statue, from mayor to mayor, from prince to prince. His sister, Nora, was back home, pining for her own kind of slipper offered by some wealthy politico or decorated militant. Tre coughed a laugh to himself. No one in his family knew how to live in this world without depending on others. No one knew how to survive. No one but him.

The painted figure in the mural that towered above the young men was sleek, rosy, and stiff, with a blank expression that could have been mistaken for… Tre theorized constipation, but it was probably meant to show purpose. He offered Junior the joint, but Junior waved it away, still catching his breath.

Tre smoked deep. “Too good, or what?”

“We’re self-employed.” Junior clutched his heaving side. “A business man’s got to set some standards.”

“Oh, and you think this is that kind of business?” Tre laughed. The best way to survive was to adopt new standards, moral and otherwise. At first, his new standards had been a tight heat in the muscles of the jaw and behind the eyelids. At first they were a new skin tight on his face like steam. At first. He checked his cheap plastic watch and held the other hand out for the letter. “Come on.”

“You come on.” Junior finally caught his breath, but didn’t relax. “And don’t lean against that mural, Mamón.” Junior handed the envelope over.

“Why not?” Tre angled his head back until the mural sprawled upside down from his forehead, pouring into the blue. “Who is this guy, anyway?”

“It’s the fucking mayor,” Junior said. “Don’t play dumb.”

“Huh.” Tre may have been reading the letter. He looked at it, at least. Then he used it to tap the mural over his shoulder. “I thought it was Ricky Ricardo.” Yes, his new standards eliminated the guilt, because it was impossible to feel guilty for taking a life he resented.

“Ricky who?”  But Junior squinted one eye up and down, nodding slow recognition at the mural now.

Tre crushed the papers into a ball and tossed them at his feet. He was already laughing at Junior. The joint, Tre plucked from his lips and rubbed out on the manhole sized bottom-button of the mayor’s coat. “The money?”

“Un uh.” Junior said. “After.”

Tre shrugged, held his hand out again. Junior let a handful of bronze bullets fall one by one into Tre’s greasy palm. Tre smiled then. Some things he could still feel the old way. Bullets cold as ice chips in his sweaty palm. A girl’s pussy, hot as a washcloth. He was easy to please.

“Do you ever…” Junior swallowed.

“Do I ever what?”

“Do you ever feel guilty?”

Without opening his mouth Tre licked the outsides of all of his teeth. He shook his head no.

Yeah. It was easier for us to pretend he didn’t think like us. Maybe that he didn’t think at all. Still.

A single bullet fell from Tre’s palm, turning round, and bounced once on the cobbles.

Junior groaned and bent to pick up the ringing bullet but, before he could reach, Tre toed the shiny thing like a snuffed cigarette.

“Not that one,” Tre said.

Junior smacked his lips. “That shit cost me five dollars. What you talking about, not that one?”

“You’ve got yours. I’ve got mine. Standards, homie,” Tre said, grinning. “Standards.”

Spotlight with Jose Patterson

Jose Patterson on the origins of her newest novel, My Aunt Manya

I live in the university city of Oxford which, by its very nature, always has a ‘floating’ population of visiting scholars. It was always the custom for my late husband and I to invite guests to share Friday night – the beginning of the Sabbath day – with us. During one never to be forgotten Friday night dinner when the conversation was buzzing, our American friend Susie told us about her grandmother, Sarah who was 11 years old in 1891 and lived near the Russian town of Bialystok. Her father had gone to New York to stay with his sister while he looked for work, leaving Sarah behind with her hated stepmother. Her young life changed forever when she heard from her Aunt the sad news of her father’s sudden death. Her Aunt sent her a boat ticket, some money and the offer of a home. Sarah fled the pogroms and set off alone on the long hazardous journey to Ellis Island. When she finally arrived she learned that her Aunt had died the week before. She was saved from the threat of deportation by her aunt’s two close friends.

These are the few treasured facts on which I based the story of My Aunt Manya which some reviewers – including Clare Morpurgo – have likened to the plight of modern immigrants. As I have mentioned it is indeed a fascinating story and I do hope you will enjoy reading it.

Release notes of My Aunt Manya

José Patterson’s latest children’s story details the journey of Sarah a ten-year old immigrant making her way to America (Based on a true story)

From acclaimed children’s author José Patterson comes a new story that will hit home.

Set in Russia at the end of the 19th century, My Aunt Manya is a period novel featuring heroine Sarah, who lives unhappily with her much-hated stepmother. Sarah’s father has gone to live in New York with his sister Manya while he looks for a job.  Sarah’s life changes overnight when Aunt Manya writes with news that her father has been killed in an accident. She sends her a boat ticket, some money and an offer of a home.

Sarah’s family and friends are poor, Yiddish-speaking Russian Jews. When Sarah’s friends get word that a group of Cossacks is planning a pogrom attack, they lose no time in helping her to set out alone on the longest journey of her young life. 

My Aunt Manya is a heart-warming story of Sarah’s journey to America on the ‘other side of the world.’ She becomes an immigrant with just one goal – to live with her Aunt Manya in a free country. Sarah faces difficulties and dangers of the unknown with great courage and determination which, together with the ‘hand of fate,’ combine to make this an unforgettable story.  Released during a time where immigration is a hotly-debated topic in the UK,  My Aunt Manya will show young readers what it is truly like to be an immigrant.  

José’s first novel, No Buts, Becky! was a runner up in the People’s Book Prize Award Competition and finalist in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards 2013.


Guest Post: Robert Eggleton on ‘Reality-Based Inspiration’

Guest Post with Robert Eggleton

Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.

Today, he is a retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. The Advance Review Copy of Rarity from the Hollow received considerable praise through Robert learning about the world of books as a novice. The final edition was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Robert worked for this agency in the early ‘80s and stands by its good works. He continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group psychotherapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Rarity from the Hollow

Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage — an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It’s up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.



The Past is the Past
Reality-Based Inspiration in Fiction

Originally rejected by elitist publishers, George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), semiautobiographical, is still regarded as one of fiction’s most inspiring works. The Cancer Ward by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1967) similarly inspired people concerning a disease that continues to devastate families worldwide. Separated by decades, what do these two books have in common? In addition to great writing styles, the technique used to inspire readers is similar. There are many other examples of books that inspire by: if you think that your life sucks, read this. It will make you feel better. This book helps you appreciate what is going right in your life because what’s going on in the lives of characters in the story is awful.

Several notches above listening to an inspirational speaker selling a get-rich scheme, such as was once popular in real estate, other books reach for human drive and ambitions to inspire. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1938) is the best selling self-help book of all time. A cornerstone was its wisdom on how to increase earning power – you can influence the behavior of others by how you behave toward them. A son of a poor farmer, Carnegie’s success (except in marriage) made fiction writers of millions of people in their relationships with others. As a former door-to-door Amway salesperson during college, attitudes and skills shared by Carnegie did prove effective in me paying for my books and tuition. I became a master of the compliment, heartfelt or not. Yes, we can become inspired to achieve material success.

Not counting the thousands of other great books which have inspired us to diet, eat more nutritionally…, one of my personal favorite inspirational books was The Art of Happiness (1998) by Dalai Lama. In contrast to books that inspired pursuit of materialism, this one encouraged us to reflect on our inner selves and to find out what happiness truly means. It questioned whether material success equates with true happiness. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time concentrating on self-reflection if I’m worried about paying the electricity bill. For those who have achieved financial security, and who have found that happiness is elusive despite wealth, books like this one have been successful even if many of the concepts promoted in them cannot be proven to be fact.

Of course, The Bible has inspired countless individuals worldwide. So have Shruti for believers of Hinduism, The Tripitaka for those holding faith in Buddhism, Tanakh – the Hebrew Bible, and several other religious texts. For me, while most familiar with Christianity, the inspirational technique employed is fear: to prevent one’s eternal damnation to everlasting Hell – comply with the scriptures.

Apparently, threats can be inspiring. Quite a few folks who post on Facebook seem to believe so. The principle religious text of Islam is the Qur’an. It would be impossible to count the number of hate posts in recent months that inspire people to vote for politicians and policies because if you don’t, in effect, Muslims will rape all white Christian women unless they marry them first during childhood – all supposedly found in this book.

Have I gotten off on a tangent? This article was supposed to be about inspiration in fiction. Before I consider addressing superheroes, John Wayne-type characters, and the G.I. Joes, please note that, depending on reader interpretation, there may be a fine line between fiction and nonfiction. I’ll stop there because I don’t want to offend any readers of this blog. And, because that was precisely my dilemma as I wrote my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow. How could I inspire sensitivity to the plight of maltreated children without taking readers outside of their comfort zones?

All things considered, I knew that I didn’t want to: (1) write something so tragic that it merely promoted readers to be grateful that their own childhoods had not been filled with horror; (2) sell the prevention of child maltreatment based on the positive economic impact that it would have on society or as a tax deductible contribution; (3) promise people that they will feel better about themselves if they contribute to the prevention of child maltreatment; (4) threaten people with damnation if they ignore needful kids; (5) or, warn people that maltreated children will grow up to victimize others, such as increased crime, if they don’t do something to help them now. All that has been tried before and child victimization rates are going up: new federal data shows nearly 3-percent rise in child abuse.

On the other hand, I also didn’t want to draw a veil over such a huge social problem as child maltreatment when writing Rarity from the Hollow. Some Young Adult novels that I’ve read, authors address childhood maltreatment without pulling a single one of my heart strings. Yes, there are wonderful books for children similar to Bobby and Mandee’s Good Touch / Bad Touch by Robert Kahn (2011), but as a retired children’s psychotherapist determined to write a novel that could potentially impact social policy, I knew that my book wouldn’t target children or even teens consumed with plot-driven escapist fiction.

I decided that Rarity from the Hollow would sensitize and inspire adult readers who were not prudish, faint-of-heart, or easily offended. I later realized, as the Advance Review Copy of my novel was being circulated, this designation carried an unintended message about my story to some potential readers and book reviewers – that it contained heavy sexual or violent content. Before the release of the final edition of my novel to Amazon on December 5, 2016, I wrote an article that was published on a book blog in an effort to clarify its content.

I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist. While participating with the editor on the final edition, as mentioned above, I sure had collected a bunch of elements that I didn’t want to portray in my debut novel. Most of the writing had been done after coming home drained from having worked at the local mental health center all day. Exhausted, at some point I made a very inspirational decision for me. Half of author proceeds are donated to the prevention of child maltreatment. I’m not sure if this aspect of the project has inspired others, but it did the trick for me.

Rarity from the Hollow uses soft science fiction as a backdrop, but has elements of other genres: fantasy, everyday horror, a ghost — so it’s a little paranormal, true-love type romance, mystery, and adventure. The content addresses social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, Capitalism, and touches on the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.”

Several book reviewers have commented that the story is unique. Here’s one: “…soon I found myself immersed in the bizarre world… weeping for the victim and standing up to the oppressor…solace and healing in the power of love, laughing at the often comical thoughts… marveling at ancient alien encounters… As a rape survivor… found myself relating easily to Lacy Dawn… style of writing which I would describe as beautifully honest. Rarity from the Hollow is different from anything I have ever read, and in today’s world of cookie-cutter cloned books, that’s pretty refreshing… whimsical and endearing world of Appalachian Science Fiction, taking you on a wild ride you won’t soon forget….”

I selected science fiction as the backdrop because it was the best fit by process of elimination. The way I see it, the systems in place to help maltreated children are woefully inadequate. I felt that the straight literary, biographical, exposé, memoir, or nonfiction genres wouldn’t work because the story would have been so depressing that only the most determined would have finished it.

I felt that Rarity form the Hollow had to be hopeful. I wanted it to inspire survivors of child maltreatment toward competitiveness within our existing economic structures, instead of folks using past victimization as an excuse for inactivity – living in the past. I didn’t think that anybody would bite on the theme of a knight on a white stallion galloping off a hillside to swoop victims into safety, like in the traditional romance genre.  That almost never actually happens in real life, so that genre was too unrealistic as the primary. There was already enough horror in the story, so that genre was out too. What could be more horrific than child abuse?

Readers who are used to the fantastical may feel less inspired about my bottom line to achieve a HEA ending for Rarity from the Hollow. While I don’t want to spoil anything for prospective readers, and I don’t think that this will, in the spaceship on their way home after saving the universe, Lacy Dawn’s father asks her, “Will you ever forgive me?” She answers, “No, but I will always love you.” Such is the optimal resolution of real-life child maltreatment cases. While it may never be forgotten or forgiven, the ability to put the past in the past and to move on with our lives regardless of the pain that we all have suffered from time to time, is the key to achieving true inspiration in fiction and in life.

Guest Post: Erik Therme on ‘Kindle Scout’

An Introduction to Kindle Scout!

I’m excited to hold a guest post today by Erik Therme! I’ve previously interviewed Erik for the release of his second novel, and reviewed his first novel, Morton. This newest novel is titled ROAM.

Erik wants to tell us about Kindle Scout as an option for non-traditional publishing. Take it away Erik!

One of the questions I’m most commonly asked is one of the most difficult to answer: “How should I publish my book? Should I pursue a traditional publishing deal, which might take months—if not years—to attain? Or should I self-publish, which leaves me in total creative control . . . but also in control of everything?” The easy answer, of course, is that both paths have their pros and cons, but what many people don’t realize is there’s a third option: Kindle Scout.

For those not familiar with Scout, it’s an Amazon program where readers “vote” on whether or not a book should be awarded a publishing contract. Authors promote their book for 30 days, and at the end of that time, the Scout team makes a determination. The process is surprisingly simple.

The first thing you need is a cover. Sure, you can whip one up yourself using free online tools, but let me offer a strong caveat: To be a fiscally successful writer, you have to treat your writing like a business, which means spending money. Think of your cover as an investment. It’s the first thing a reader is going to see. Yes, it can get pricey to have one designed from scratch, but pre-made covers are prevalent and affordable. Two of my books—Resthaven and Roam—were both existing covers from a pre-made site, and I’ve gotten numerous compliments on both. Spend some money on a cover. You won’t regret it.

Next: uploading your manuscript. The Scout site recommends your book be professionally copyedited before submission, but for those who can’t afford that expense, fear not—if the book is selected, it will be edited before publication. Some books receive light in-house editing, while others are outsourced to Kirkus. Regardless, having your book copyedited before you submit will only increase your chances of having it selected, so if you have the funds, it’s not a bad idea.

Last, but certainly not least, is your book description. I could easily write an entire post on crafting book blurbs, but for now, I’ll keep it simple. At minimum, you want to disclose the protagonist, the setting, and reveal the conflict. Show what’s at stake. Your goal is to hook the reader and entice them into wanting more. Some authors joke it’s more difficult to write the book description than the actual book, but don’t despair; practice makes perfect!

And with that, you’re ready to submit. Once everything is uploaded, it only takes a few days for your campaign to go live on the Kindle Scout site. If your campaign receives a lot of page visits and votes (or nominations, as they call them) your book goes into the “Hot & Trending” category. The longer it stays in this category, the better chance it has of being noticed. The final selection process is based on multiple factors, and no one—not even previous Scout winners—knows the exact criteria.

Writing a book in itself is a major accomplishment and one you should be proud of –regardless of whether or not you’re selected. All you can do is write the best book you can, believe in yourself, and try to make your own luck.