literary fiction

Interview with Robert Eggleton

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing Robert Eggleton, author of Rarity from the Hollow, which was our featured Book of the Day last week. Please be sure to stick around after the interview, as there will be an excerpt from the novel. If you would like to visit the Book of the Day feature and read a different (but very insightful!) excerpt from Rarity from the Hollow, please click HERE.

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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.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.

Interview with Robert Eggleton

Robert: Hi, Tricia! Thanks for inviting me to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow. 

Tricia: Thank you so much for stopping by! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Robert: I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist with over forty years working in the field of children’s advocacy. I grew up as the oldest child of an impoverished family in West Virginia, became active in human rights movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s as a teen, and went to college as an alternative to being drafted and sent either to prison or to the Vietnam War. I remained active in the anti-war movement during college, graduating with a Master’s Degree in 1977.

My father was a disabled Vet suffering from shell shock and anger outbursts that he self-medicated with alcohol. My mother was a downtrodden survivor of domestic violence who kept our family together any way that was necessary. My family would fit within an Appalachian subculture that emphasized hard work and fundamental Christianity. I was the third member of my extended family to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from college. My grandparents farmed, were poor but highly respected within their communities – always with a helping hand out to anybody less fortunate. Love abounded and still does despite profound generational differences in social and political values.

T: When did you begin writing?

Robert: Perhaps to disassociate from a harsh reality filled with alcoholism, domestic violence, and not enough food on the table, I began writing short stories as a child. At the time, paper bags were used by grocery stores. I would tear them open and flatten them out to use for writing stories that I would share with anybody – store clerks, peers, gas station attendants…. During the tumultuous times of the civil rights movement, I switched to writing poetry, and was especially inspired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as well as early rock music, such as by Pink Floyd. During college, a few of my poems were published in alternative zines and one was accepted by the 1971 West Virginia Student Anthology. I also wrote dozens of handouts for antiwar protests. During college, between working to pay for tuition and books and studying, I started a few short stories and drafted poetry, but never seemed to find time to finish anything.

After college, I concentrated on writing nonfiction. It was a very exciting time for children’s rights. It was the beginning of an era during which children were no longer regarded as chattel. Instead of being locked up with no due process as I had been as a little boy, courts were recognizing that parents could not just dump their kids into jails and big institutions for punishment, or because the parents just didn’t want them any more. I wrote socials service and treatment models, policy, staff training materials, drafted legislation consistent with social services thinking, published research on the correlates of child abuse and delinquency…. Dozens of my investigative reports about systemic deficiencies and how children were treated in jails and institutions were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I worked until the end of 1997. Many of these reports are now archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

In 2002, I accepted a job as a therapist at our local mental health center. It was the first job that I’d performed since college that did not involve a great deal of producing written materials. Something started churning inside of me, subsequently identified as a personal need to write. I returned to writing fiction and poetry in 2006. Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel.

T: Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Robert: Rarity from the Hollow is literary fiction with a social science fiction backdrop, filled with tragedy, comedy, and satire. The final edition was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016, after circulating as an Advance Review Copy (ARC) for an extended period of time. This novel was the first, if not the only, science fiction adventure to predict the rise of Donald Trump into political power. While there is no political advocacy in the story favoring one side or any other, the story covers many issues being faced today – the refugee crisis, illegal immigration, sexual harassment…. In a nutshell, an empowered victim of child maltreatment, a most unlikely savior of the universe, heads a team of zany characters on a wild adventure. The early tragedy in the story feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire.  It is not for the prudish, faint-of-heart, or easily offended.

T: How did you get the idea for the book?

Robert: I’ve mentioned going to work for our local mental health center and how my psychological need to write started churning deep inside me. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions for children with mental health concerns, most having experienced maltreatment, some of them having experienced sexual abuse. One day, sitting around the table used for written therapeutic exercises, a skinny little girl with long stringy hair began to disclose. Instead of just speaking about the horrors of her abuse, she also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future – finding a loving family who would protect her. My protagonist was born that day – an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe: Lacy Dawn.

T: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

Robert: I have a love – hate relationship with each character in Rarity from the Hollow. They all have character flaws and wonderful attributes, including the abusive father and Lacy Dawn. Personally, I most like Brownie, the family mutt who plays a very important role in saving the universe. He was the only character on Lacy Dawn’s team to have empathy for what was then presumed to be a vile invading enemy. His empathy skills opened the door for conflict resolution. He was a positive role model for all. Plus, while every character prompted a laugh every now and then, Brownie was outrageous when his internal dialogue was shared with readers.

T: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Robert: Writing itself comes easy for me. The hard part is the self-promotion that follows. The most difficult aspect of writing the story was cutting out great scenes that didn’t advance the plot. I wanted to make them somehow fit since some of these scenes were powerful. It took a while, but I cut, cut, and cut some more.  Again, however, nothing to do with writing is nearly as hard as the hard work that follows after a manuscript has gone past final editing.

T: What is your primary goal as an author?

Robert: This project has a larger mission than a personal goal as an author – contributing to the prevention of child maltreatment. Half of author proceeds are donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/

My goal as the author of Rarity from the Hollow was to write about tragedy but within a story that was fun to read. The ARC of my novel was awarded two Gold Medals by major book review organizations, was named one of the best releases of 2015 by a Bulgaria book critic, and received twenty-six five star reviews and forty-three four star reviews by independent book review bloggers. The review that caused me to feel like I had approached my goal as an author:

“…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them. In fact, the rustic humor and often graphic language employed by Lacy Dawn and her compatriots only serve to highlight their desperate lives, and their essential toughness and resilience…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” http://www.awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/

I don’t want to sound like I’m fixin’ to die, but, especially as I’ve aged late into the world of books, another goal became heartfelt. I wanted to write something that would outlive me. Yes, that sounds grandiose. Yet, it’s probably the deep down goal of every writer. On 1-6-17, the first review of the final edition was published, five stars. The closing lines will be on my tombstone (just kidding!): “…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/5-stars-for-rarity-from-the-hollowby-robert-eggleton/

T: What projects are you currently working on?

Robert: I’m very much looking forward to taking down the shingle that reads, “Marketing.” Self-promotion with no budget to do so has kept me very busy. Thanks to the kindness of book bloggers like you, Tricia, I have persisted to give Rarity from the Hollow the best shot possible in this highly competitive marketplace.

I have short stories in the works, and will be pressed to make the next deadline for a magazine that I have a strong interest in submitting. The next Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy, an almost forgotten town and the headquarters for an invasion of Earth by addiction to drugs – another satire. This novel has been almost ready for editing for quite some time but self-promotion of Rarity from the Hollow has gotten in the way.

T: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Robert: I don’t feel competent to give advice to aspiring authors, but I will share a little common sense based on my observations of this marketplace. Don’t expect to be discovered overnight like you were Elvis singing on the front stoop of an apartment located in a low-income neighborhood. Before you publish, make sure that your work as been professionally edited, or as close to it as your finances will allow – not by a friend or anybody with whom you have a personal relationship. If published, to the extent possible, prevent generic one line reviews from being posted on Amazon – they always look like they were written by your friends and detract from other reviews that appear more legitimate. Commit to the long haul by keeping in mind that the majority of those entering the world of books stay there briefly and then drop out never to be heard of again. And, last, never buy a book review and don’t invest more than you can afford in anything. I’ve heard of aspiring authors placing themselves and their families at financial risk by becoming overcommitted to a book that they had written. Hard work pays off, but working smart has better outcomes.

roberteggleton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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 from 1982 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. http://www.childhswv.org/ 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.

Connect with Robert Eggleton at the following links:

Purchase links for Rarity from the Hollow:

 

Please enjoy this selection from Rarity from the Hollow, selected by the author:

Excerpt from Chapter 13, “Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé”

Scene Prologue: At this point in the story, Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, is twelve years old. An android named DotCom (his name is a recurring pun throughout the novel) installed a port in her upper spine and has directly downloaded data into her brain for the last several years. His ship is hidden in a cave in the Woods behind the family’s house in the hollow. DotCom was sent to Earth to train and recruit Lacy Dawn to save the universe from an imminent threat, but was recalled due to slow performance. In this scene, DotCom has returned to Earth and Jenny, the mother, meets him for the first time.

*****

         …..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn’s name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.

I hear her voice. Why won’t she answer me? 

“Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.

Nobody responded. The trees weren’t supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.

I will always love you guys. 

Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.

Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 

Jenny looked to the left of the path.

There ain’t no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 

She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn’t exit and into a blue light that did.

“All right, you mother f**ker!”

“Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you’re supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story).”

DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.

“Grrrrr,” emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn’s dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.

“Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”

“You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.

Stay between them.

“Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I’m old enough — like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend — what you call it — my fiancé.”

“You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.

“MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”

Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.

He ain’t got no private parts, not even a little bump.   

“DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”

Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.

“Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”

I will need much more training if I’m ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.

“Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”

Jenny’s left eye twitched.

DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…

…(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There’re a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain’t complained since the shots started — not even with an upset stomach.”

“He’s a doctor?” Jenny asked.

“What’s your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that’s different — even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”

“Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.

“So?”

Mommy’s right. Maybe I need a different argument.

            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.

“What’s that?” Jenny asked.

She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.

“But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.

“Mommy, I’m so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn’t talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain’t had no chance to talk. All I know is that he’s home and I’m sooooo happy.”

“Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more….

It’s unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that’s a good sign. Maybe she’s right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They’ve been together for a while and I ain’t seen a mark on her. That’s unusual too. He ain’t got no private parts and that’s another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. Id better play it smart. I don’t want to lose my baby.

“What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.

“I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”

“My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition — the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said.

They both glared at him.

“Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.

“Okay, Mommy.”

“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.

“I love you too,” DotCom said.

Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile — at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.

Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”

*

Rarity from the Hollow is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/dp/B017REIA44

 

 

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Categories: author interview, authors to watch, book excerpt, book feature, books, interview, literary fiction, science fiction | Tags: , , ,

Book of the Day: Rarity from the Hollow

Today’s Book of the Day is RARITY FROM THE HOLLOW by Robert Eggleton. In addition to the book feature and excerpt, we will also have an opportunity to find out more about the author and his writing next week when he’ll be back for an interview! I would also like to note that author proceeds from this book support the prevention of child maltreatment: http://www.childhswv.org/

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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.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.” —Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest

“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.” — Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

. “…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” — Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)

“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” –Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)

“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author

“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” — The Baryon Review

“…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” — Marcha’s Two-Cents Worth

5star-flat-web

Excerpt from RARITY FROM THE HOLLOW:

(Chapter 32: “The First Sexual Harassment Complaint on Shptiludrp”)

Scene Prologue: Rarity from the Hollow includes political allegory, parody, and satire. Long before Donald Trump was on the political radar, it predicted his rise to political power. In the story, Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, is a most unlikely savior of the universe. At this point, readers have learned that the universe faces an imminent threat. An android named DotCom (a recurring pun in the story) was sent to Earth to recruit and train Lacy to fulfill her destiny. She changed the android’s name to “Bucky” to cover-up its true nature, assembled and prepared a team to diagnose and address the threat, and took her team to planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall and the center of economic governance for the universe. The following scene is the team’s first meeting with the Manager of the Mall and takes place in the only high rise office building on the planet, now easily identifiable as Trump Tower.

…Lacy Dawn scanned across a desk larger than her bedroom and lowered her gaze until just above the desk top. In an oversized swivel chair behind the desk sat a humanoid…. Mr. Prump stood up…. He extended a small hand with six fingers, each of which had at least two overly large golden rings.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Lacy Dawn,” he ignored the others….

“He looks almost just like that short guy on those taxi cab reruns,” Dwayne whispered. “What’s that actor’s name?” (Dwayne, Lacy’s father, is an Iraq War damaged Vet who suffered from PTSD, night terrors and anger outbursts until cured by the android since he had refused treatment by the VA hospital. Dwayne, an expert used car salesman, plays an important role on the team and worked very hard to save the universe in an effort to achieve Lacy’s forgiveness past abusive behaviors.)

“Shhhh,” Lacy Dawn glared.

“I have a complaint to make,” Lacy said to Mr. Prump.

“Oh?” Mr. Prump sat down, opened a drawer, and shoved a form across his desk in her direction. “Please call me Mr. Prump.”

Hospitality has been extended to her entourage.

The form ran out of momentum half-way across the desk. Lacy Dawn extended and retracted because it stopped well short of her reach.

That’s too far regardless of obligatory respect.

“I was not aware of any dissatisfaction of any type, sir,” Bucky reverted to his role as DotCom in the presence of his long-term authority figure. Lacy Dawn gave him The Look and trumped.

“Your elevator operator just told me that I have a nice ass,” she said.

Dwayne started for the office exit to get the offender. Lacy Dawn pushed him toward one of the chairs in front of the desk. Tom grabbed Dwayne’s arm. (Tom is Lacy’s neighbor. He is a wealthy “back to the land” marijuana dealer who relocated to The Hollow when he concluded that city life aggravated his Bipolar Disorder.) Then, Tom and Lacy Dawn had to restrain Bucky’s attempt to go after the offender.

Lacy and Jenny stood alone in front of the desk while the males sat. Jenny moved to her daughter’s side. (Jenny is Lacy’s formerly downtrodden mother whose self-esteem had been enhanced after the android had replaced her rotting teeth with new ones.) Brownie growled. So did Bucky. (Brownie is the family mutt and the only member of the team with enough empathy skills to communicate with, at this point in the story, vile invaders of the universe.)….

Mr. Prump shoved another form in her direction with the same result. The complaint forms were the only papers on the desk….

“Tree says that to me all the time,” the receptionist said from the doorway. “Would anybody like something to drink or a snack?”

Nobody responded except Mr. Prump. He extended a cup that had been on his desk, but the gesture was ignored.

“That’s different, you…” Tom started but Lacy Dawn’s look cut him short.

“The females of those people got no figures at all — straight up and down,” the receptionist said. “I wouldn’t take it personally, Lacy. All males from that planet become infatuated with any curve on any body that they think is female. He’s a nice person once you get to know him.”

“Regardless, it was inappropriate for him to tell me that I have a nice ass.”

“Yeah,” her team said in unison. DotCom was the loudest except for Brownie’s bark followed by another growl.

“I ought to kick his ass for talking trash to my little girl,” Dwayne said.

I’m such a juvenile.

Lacy glared at him again.

“Sorry,” Dwayne hung his head.

“Further,” Lacy Dawn continued. “I’m not about to do business with any planet that permits the sexual harassment of its visitors or employees to go undisciplined.”

Jenny sat down.

“Yeah,” the receptionist said.

Mr. Prump sank deeper into his seat….

“I’m never going to sit on your lap again unless I want to,” the receptionist said. “And, as for anything else, you can just forget it from now on unless you take care of this. Take care of the whole problem on the whole planet — equal respect for all people — within their financial means, of course.”

“Take a memo to Division Managers with a copy to All Staff.”

Lacy Dawn stood alone before the desk. He dictated the memo and she listened.

It’s pretty good. There’s procedure for making sexual harassment complaints, investigation, due process, and penalty.

“That’s all for now. I’ll contact you tomorrow to begin negotiation of terms,” she said.

Mr. Prump asked her what time but she didn’t answer. Lacy Dawn had concluded her first meeting with the most powerful being in the universe and had beaten him in negotiations.

Purchase links:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/robert-eggleton/rarity-from-the-hollow/paperback/product-22910478.html

http://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/dp/B017REIA44

http://www.doghornpublishing.com/wordpress/books/rarity-from-the-hollow 

Public Author Contacts:

http://www.lacydawnadventures.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32993259-rarity-from-the-hollow

https://www.facebook.com/Lacy-Dawn-Adventures-573354432693864/

https://twitter.com/roberteggleton1

https://plus.google.com/b/108662084126982201049/108662084126982201049/posts

https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-eggleton-909b154b?trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

 

Categories: authors to watch, book excerpt, book feature, book of the day, comedy, excerpt, literary fiction, science fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: Monsoon Season

Monsoon Season
Author: Katie O’Rourke
Publisher: Canvas

Riley refuses to call herself a battered woman – she doesn’t fit the profile.

When her boyfriend Ben hits her, she doesn’t know what to call it. She does know to pack her things and run to the one place that feels safe – home.

Riley discovers she’s pregnant and her emotions become tangled. She can’t shake the fact that she’s still in love with Ben…

A horrific accident then turns Riley’s world even more upside down, forcing her to accept help from those around her. Before she can begin to heal, she must learn the difference between being independent and being alone.

A gripping emotional drama, perfect for fans of Anne Tyler and Anita Shreve.



My Review: Riley doesn’t seem like the type of girl who would fall into an abusive relationship. She’s from a “good” family, is educated, highly intelligent, and confident. She doesn’t seem the type who would go back to her abuser, or who would miss him once she was separated from him. But this is what Riley does. Because it can happen to anyone, even to those you would least expect. As the author delves into Riley’s past and her family life, we uncover elements of dysfunction that might lead to future unhealthy relationships, but isn’t that true for almost all of us? We all have issues and baggage. Why is it some of us end up in abusive relationships while others do not? Abusers and their victims don’t always fit a certain mold, and this is one of the most thought-provoking themes in this novel.

We meet and get to know Ben–the abusive boyfriend. We find out about his past and what might have led to his outbursts of anger. And, we learn enough about him that while we might not condone his behavior, we can have compassion for him as a human being. We also meet Riley’s parents, her best friends, and her brother. We meet Ben’s mother and discover her hidden pain.

I’m so appreciative of the way O’Rourke tackled the issue of domestic abuse. I’ve read works of fiction that have tried to explore this issue, but most rely on stereotypes. The meek victim cowering in the corner, believing she deserves the abuse because she grew up watching it happen to her own mother. The cruel abuser taking delight in tormenting his victim. Sure, victims and abusers like these exist, but it’s important to show the reality of domestic abuse. Not all victims are the same. Not all abusers are the same. There are various shades of domestic abuse. It’s not all black and white.

This book is not all about abuse. It’s about relationships between families, friends, and significant others. It’s about secrets, hard decisions, and dealing with depression and trauma. It’s an emotional read without being over-the-top. The dramatic scenes are realistic and believable. And even the author deals with some pretty heavy issues, there’s hope for the future as we watch Riley evolve and grow.

There’s so much about this novel that was spectacular. It’s a book that stays with you, and changes you just a little bit. This is another one of those books I wish I would have read as part of a book club. I’d definitely recommend this to just about any reader over age 18.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Where you can go to learn more about the book and the author:
Amazon ~ Facebook ~ Author’s Blog

Categories: authors to watch, book review, literary fiction, women's fiction | Tags: ,

An Interview with Gerry McCullough

Today I’m thrilled to introduce Gerry McCullough, author of several best-selling books including Belfast Girls. Having recently read and reviewed (and loved!) Belfast Girls, I couldn’t wait to chat with Gerry about it. Please pull up a seat, grab a cup of coffee (or tea), and enjoy!

Welcome, Gerry. It’s a huge honor to have you here. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

May I just begin by thanking you for inviting me to come on your marvelous blog, Tricia? It’s so nice to be here!

And now about me. I was born and brought up in Belfast, and since marrying, rather young, I live within a dozen miles of the city, which I still love. I have four children, two boys and two girls, all grown and flown. The empty nest is a sad thing to have, but there is an upside, in that my husband Raymond and I now have a lot of freedom.

When did you begin writing?

When I was a child, all my family, mother, father and three sisters, loved to read, so it was natural that I grew up loving to read as well. Out of this came a desire to write, and to produce the sort of book I enjoyed. I began when I was around eight or nine, copying my favourite writers. Then I grew out of that and began to develop a style of my own.

I just finished reading Belfast Girls, and I’m sure you can tell from my review that I absolutely loved it. Please tell my readers a little bit about the story and how you came up with the idea for the book?

I’m so glad you enjoyed the book, Tricia. Belfast Girls first began as a book set during the recent Northern Irish Troubles. I wanted to write about three girls from different religious backgrounds who were good friends in spite of that. But I didn’t want to preach – I wanted my story to be fun, and exciting, for the reader. No one wanted to publish a book about the Troubles at that time, although things have changed since and the subject has become more attractive, it seems. I put the book away, then a few years later I brought it out and completely rewrote it as a post conflict book, about the new Belfast of wealth, fashion, drugs and gang warfare. And this time, a publisher liked it!

Are any of the characters in Belfast Girls based on people you’ve known?

I suppose every writer bases his or her characters on themselves, or on people they know. In Belfast Girls, all three of the girls have a little of me in them. Sheila, like me, thought of herself as ugly, as a child – then she grew up and found that others thought differently. Phil has a lot of me in her too, and Mary’s spiritual experience mirrors my own. The men are less like me and more like people I’ve known, although John has some of my own hang ups, which he later grows out of.

Was there a character (or characters) who was more difficult to write than the others?

Do you know, I don’t think there was, Tricia. I always find characters easy to write about. I feel as if I know them, and their lives and experiences seem to flow as I think about them. Plots are another matter! I have to think hard to get my plots right.

I was struck by the enduring friendship between the girls in the story. Despite the tremendous growth they each undergo, there’s still something special that binds them together, even when it’s been months since they’ve been together. What is it that keeps them coming back to each other, and how would their lives be different if they hadn’t kept up their friendship?

I think there’s something special about people we’ve known since our childhood. It isn’t always easy to keep up such relationships. Sheila, Phil and Mary manage to do it, perhaps because they have lived together through such hard times. They all benefit from the friendship. Mary is able to help Phil when Phil goes to prison. Mind you, if it hadn’t been for Sheila, Phil wouldn’t have been in that particular situation! Mary also helps to bring Sheila and John together. And Sheila, in turn, is a great help to Mary earlier in the book. Real friends always help each other.

Is there a particular moral or lesson you’d like readers to take with them after reading Belfast Girls?

Perhaps I’d like them to realize how false the media view is, that all Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland hate each other. And also, how important friendship is. But as I said above, I’m not in the business of preaching or teaching. I just want people to read my books and enjoy them.

If you had to pick a favorite out of all your books, which one would you pick? Why?

This is such a hard question. I love Belfast Girls because it has so much of me in it. But my second book, Danger Danger, is one I particularly like, because I personally think it’s better written, with a tighter plot, which I had to work hard to achieve; and the girls, who are identical twins, had to be very similar and yet individual. That wasn’t easy, but I think I managed it. Their characters, and stories, have a lot of depth and the girls grow up during the course of the book. Then there’s Angel Murphy, my ‘strong-minded Belfast Girl.’ I’ve written two books about Angel, Angel in Flight and Angel in Belfast, and I intend to write more. I really like these books because Angel, although she’d gone through so much, coming out of an abusive marriage, is not a victim or a wimp and doesn’t need to be rescued – she does any rescuing that’s necessary!

What projects are you currently working on?

Currently I’m writing a book set back before and after the First World War, and the Irish Troubles of those days. This started off as a short story; then, on the advice of an interested publisher, I extended it to 25,000 words and got an editor to work on it for me. I’m now extending it further, to novel length. The working title is Johnny McClintock’s War, and its focus is on Johnny’s internal struggle to maintain his faith in the middle of external conflict of different sorts. I hope it’s going to be an important book, but who can say until it’s finished? Others may think differently!

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Who am I to advise others? But for what it’s worth, here goes!

Write what you want to write and what you enjoy writing.

Don’t try to copy your favourite writers, if you can help it.

Try to write every day, even if it’s only a bit.

Don’t give up. All the well known writers have had many rejections – P. G. Wodehouse said he could have papered his room in rejection letters.

Maybe you won’t have to worry about rejection letters – nowadays, if you want to, and if you’re sure you’ve edited your book enough, it’s easy to publish online, both as a Print On Demand paperback and in eBook format. So writers are no longer dependent on traditional publishers.

But, lastly, you need to realize that things have changed in another way – nowadays, writers have to do most of their own publicity, whether they have a publisher or not. That’s hard, but it’s essential.

And all the very best with your efforts!

You can find Gerry’s books here:

http://smarturl.it/BelfastGirls
http://smarturl.it/DangerDanger
http://smarturl.it/AngelinFlight
http://smarturl.it/AngelinBelfast
http://smarturl.it/Seanachie1
http://smarturl.it/LadyMolly

To learn more about Gerry McCullough, please visit the following links:

http://gerrymccullough.blogspot.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/Gerry1098
http://www.gerrymccullough.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/gerry.mccullough
https://www.facebook.com/gerrymcculloughirish
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gerry-McCullough/e/B005F0MZU8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
http://www.amazon.com/Gerry-McCullough/e/B005F0MZU8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Categories: author interview, authors to watch, literary fiction | Tags: ,

Book Review: Pure Trash

Pure Trash

Bette Stevens
Genre: Literary Fiction
Available in paperback and Kindle.

The year is 1955. If you grew up in the 1950s and the 1960s, you may be among those who recall those good old “Happy Days” of television fame. Even younger generations enjoy watching TV reruns to get a peek into what life was like back then. In this short story, Shawn and Willie Daniels are off on a Saturday adventure in search of trash to turn into treasure. It is going to be a great day. Shawn is sure of it. No school and no bullies to remind him that he’s not one of the crowd.

“This short story is filled with images and flavor only better provided by an ice cream cone…PURE TRASH gives the reader pause for thought, and I recommend it to the adult reader and the YA reader alike.” Kathryn Elizabeth Jones, author of fiction & non-fiction

PURE TRASH is a short story about bullies, both in the traditional and non-traditional sense. It may redefine your concept of bullying. Torment, persecution, intimidation…These are a few descriptors of what those who are considered “different” in some way may suffer. For Shawn and Willie, their “difference” is based upon the social status of the dysfunctional family, the alcoholism and the abject poverty in which they grew up. The boys are bullied by both children and adults who look down upon them. Yet, through it all, Shawn and Willie Daniels manage to make the most of life.


Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: Pure Trash is unlike any story I’ve read. At first, it reads like a memoir from Reminisce Magazine, but as the story unfolds, I connected with the characters at a deep level. The author explores prejudice, class division, alcoholism, poverty, injustice, and bullying. It’s a story all audiences over the age of ten can enjoy. While reading this story, the reader will experience the joy of a carefree Saturday and the blistering pain of feeling not quite good enough.

The heartbreaking innocence of the main character, Shawn, and his younger brother, Willie, will touch your heart as you realize these children are not quite as innocent as they seem. They’re no strangers to intolerance, and the cruelty of others isn’t lost on them. They’re old enough to feel society’s derision, but still young enough to harbor hopes that things can change. They’re young enough to take pleasure in the simple things in life–pocket change, a sackful of candy, the freedom of reaching great heights on a swing.

Hypocrisy is another theme in this story. When Shawn seeks help from the seemingly kind, gentle pillar of the church community, the reader is exposed to the ugliness that hides behind what society considers “quality.” When help is given grudgingly, it isn’t charity at all, especially when that help is accompanied by a cruel declaration that the boys are nothing but trash.

Pure Trash is a worthwhile, meaningful, beautifully written story I’d recommend to readers of all ages.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

If you’d like to learn more about Bette Stevens and Pure Trash, please check out my interview with the author HERE.

Categories: book review, literary fiction, short story | Tags: ,

Interview with Kimberly Gould

Tricia: Today, I’m very happy to welcome Kimberly Gould, author of Thickness of Blood and the Cargon series.

Hi, Kimberly. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your journey as a writer?

Kimberly: I started writing in High School and University but put it aside after graduation. I was really burnt out then. Around 2009, I started writing again. Fanfiction was my arena at the time and I put in a lot of words and a lot of practice in two years. In that time I also wrote the first draft of Cargon: Honour and Privilege, my first original novel. Since then I have written a second installment, Duty and Sacrifice, as well as an adult literary fiction titled Thickness of Blood. While looking for a publisher for Cargon, I thought it best to diversify, in case Young Adult wasn’t the genre for me. That’s when I wrote Thickness of Blood. Since then, however, I focused most on writing for Young Adults.

Tricia: Can you tell us about your Cargon series?

Kimberly: Cargon is set in a future where technology failed after a cataclysm that wiped out most of the population. My characters are living in a second dark age after all the knowledge is locked away in technology that can no longer be powered. It is in this setting, where society has divided itself into castes, that I tell the story of three brilliant young people and tell of their discoveries regarding their ancestors, the Fall, and how to reclaim knowledge that was lost. It is Science Fiction with a fantasy feel.

Tricia: Please tell us about Thickness of Blood.

Kimberly: Thickness of Blood follows three victims of the same man. The main point of view is George. His daughter was abused and eventually raped by James. He is on the hunt for justice and revenge. Lila is an adolescent who falls prey to James in the same way George’s daughter Daphne did. Although she doesn’t resist him, she is abused by him and when it is discovered that she is pregnant her family disown her. George, taking responsibility for not stopping James sooner, takes Lila into his family. The third point of view, and counterpoint to George and Lila, is Patty. She was James’ friend for years until he began physically abusing her. His treatment of her leads her down a road to drugs and prostitution that she has a difficult time escaping from.

Tricia: How did you get the idea for your books?

Kimberly: Cargon came to me in a dream. Eve was playing against two boys at a game she would die if she lost. The story evolved a lot from that simple start to create the novels and world. Thickness of Blood began as an entry in a fanfiction contest. I didn’t enter my story of the first encounter between James and Lila because it was too bleak on its own. The contest deadline was September, but by the end of that month I had a skeleton outline to take into NaNoWriMo, when I wrote the bulk of Thickness of Blood.

Tricia: Of all your books, which one is your favorite? Why?

Kimberly: I think my upcoming release is my favourite. Like Thickness of Blood, it was sparked from a picture prompt. Trying to tie two disparate pictures together, I wrote a flash piece about a girl who was surviving the zombie apocalypse, is killed, and gets dropped back into her own past days before the outbreak. It became a cross between Walking Dead and Ground Hog Day as Cassandra keeps getting dropped back in her own past each time she dies. It was so much fun to write and I think it’s one of my best pieces to date.

Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?

Kimberly: Well, since my zombie time loop hasn’t released yet, I’m working on edits and galley pages for that. I’m also in the middle of the third and final Cargon book. Well, final in Eve’s story. I have an idea for a prequel that may or may not be written in future. I also have a High School ghost story, Ruthless, that I’m hoping to submit soon.

Tricia: What inspires you as a writer?

Kimberly: The amazing things I see and read. There are so many wonderful stories out there that I can’t help but want to write my own. My characters are the constant driver for me. A novel begins when the character takes hold of my brain and refused to let go until I’ve written him/her.

About the Author: 

Kimberly Gould hates being call Kimmy, but her mom called her Kimmydonn and that was okay. She lives in Edmonton with her husband and daughter. She works part time as an environmental consultant, a job which has leant itself very well to her writing pursuits. She is the author of the Cargon series as well as Thickness of Blood.

Please visit Kimberly at the following links:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/kimmydonn and http://facebook.com/cargonbooks/
Twitter: @kimmydonn.
Trailer for Thickness of Blood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvVE7Cas2UQ
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Gould/e/B0081LX2DW/

Excerpt from Cargon: Honour and Privilege

She had nearly forgotten her thoughts from earlier, and it was hardly surprising. She recalled enough of them to jot them down while she ate. She contemplated getting dragged back into horrid incidents, her confrontations with Louis, the wives and husbands lost, the Cargon dream. It seemed the swells in her stream of thought brought her back to these terrible moments, all of them revolving around the Game. She needed to learn more.

“Excuse me,” she asked a Librarian. “Are there any books on Cargon?”

The Librarian’s eyes went wide; she hesitated then spoke, “Follow me.” The book was in a shelf amidst the histories. The Rise and Fall of the Mighty was the title. She would never have known it had any connection to Cargon without the Librarian’s assistance.

“Thank you.” The Librarian nodded and left her.

The book was not a strategy guide, such things were forbidden. This tome listed some of the most disastrous fates of elite who wagered and lost; the High Ones who fell, Seconds who were lost and replaced. It included titles and lands that were exchanged, spouses and children. She still shivered thinking of such vital things being wagered on any game. There was no history of Cargon played by any but the elite. She hadn’t expected one.

She turned to her notebook, all her theories, her designs, and her ideas. They would never amount to anything. She was the only rock in the sea. She could become wet, but she could not make the sea rocky. She had to do something. There had to be some way she could turn her single rock into a mass of pebbles. Some way for her ideas to be spread throughout the elite. Not one occurrence, herself in their classroom, but many tiny pieces. She heard the post noon bell, and hurried to prepare for her evening service.

After dinner, she lingered, watching the High One tend the board. She was surprised when, for the second time, the High One addressed her.

“You return,” she spoke to Eve. Eve did not answer. “Your studies progress well; I have been apprised.” Eve felt her face flush. Bestowing the honour of instruction on her was great, but to continue to have an interest in her was more than Eve could imagine. “You have a question? Ask.” The High One commanded.

Eve longed to ask, “What service can I give when stuck between two worlds? Why do I attend when my attentions are never to be noticed?” Instead she asked her original question, the one that had plagued her since the first night she watched the High One labour at the boards. “Is there no other who could perform this duty? One who understood the importance and took the proper care?”

“There is. I could ask you to do it.” Eve gasped, that was certainly too great an honour. The High One chuckled. “It has been done. But the High One who forgets to respect Cargon is destined to soon fall.” Eve knew this to be the case, having just read of a number of instances. “This is not the least of my responsibilities, but it is certainly the most … manual. I find I enjoy it.” Her lips curled in a small smile. Eve found herself smiling as well and quickly dropped her eyes again. “Well, child, I have finished for another night. Continue to make the most of what you have been given.”

Was that an answer to her unspoken question? Was Eve to take the next step in order to move from one world to the other? Eve dropped her knees and held herself low until the High One had left the hall. Then she turned to the boards, her face now hard.

Make the most of what she had been given. She wanted to take her first step on a road to a new life, a new place. But she had been ordered to never touch the pieces. Her mind warred with her instincts. Her mind was stronger.

Eve took a marble piece in her hand and held it tightly. She could feel every edge, every plane. The corners seemed to bite into her skin. It had very little weight; it was very small, and yet it felt exceedingly heavy, as though she held the world in her hand instead of a tiny piece. Eve placed it on the board in a new position. The movement, she could instinctively tell, was monumental. It wasn’t simply the start of a game; it was the start of everything. She had put the world into motion. She turned her back on the three tiered board, walking back to her dorm.


Categories: authors to watch, interview, literary fiction

Interview with I.J. Miller

Tricia: Today’s guest is author, I.J. Miller. He’s here to talk to us about his new novel, WUTHERING NIGHTS.

Thanks for joining us, I.J. How did you start writing erotica?

I.J.: I’ve published four books before the current one, WUTHERING NIGHTS. All of them have graphic sexual material, but I never considered them erotica, aside from a few stories in my collection, SEX AND LOVE. The sex was used to tell the story and reveal character and was not always erotic. I fell into the label because the publishing world became so genre oriented and erotica was the closest one to fit me. However, there is no getting around the fact that WUTHERING NIGHTS is an erotic romance. I came to write the novel because a publisher liked a proposal and sample chapter I did for a Dickens mashup and commissioned me to retell Wuthering Heights.

Tricia: What’s your favorite published work of yours and why?

I.J.: Right now it’s WUTHERING NIGHTS. The book possessed me during the writing process and it was a real challenge to adopt language and certain types of imagery that I don’t normally use. My short story collection, SEX AND LOVE, is also close to my heart because the stories are so personal.

Tricia: What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?

I.J.: I was initially influenced by some old school writing: Xaviera Hollander, Erica Jong, Anais Nin. I like Jeremy Edwards, Sharazade. I recently read Susana Mayer’s SenSexual Anthology and enjoyed the stories there because they’re a direct reflection of the passionate “open mic” readers who attend her once a month Erotic Literary Salon.

Tricia: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I.J.: My books usually come from a personal observation about life.

My novel SEESAW: from how people seem more attractive when they are in the power position.

My novel WHIPPED: from how some affluent housewives who seem to have it all can be unhappy in the bubble they created.

My collection SEX AND LOVE: from how quite often sex is the one thing even very controlled people find difficult managing.

WUTHERING NIGHTS: the incomparable Emily Bronte.

Tricia: Who is your favorite character from one of your stories and why?

I.J.: Heathcliff from WUTHERING NIGHTS. He seems to have been created before all of the unwritten rules pertaining to heroes in literature were formed: completely bare and raw, equally as passionate about love as he is brutal. No filters, no censorship, all real tortured soul.

Tricia: Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?

I.J.: My nearest and dearest do know what I do, but some of them don’t read my work. My basically personality just doesn’t seem to fit the pre-conceived notions people have of writers who write about sex. My wife, however, reads everything, and is my number supporter and critic.

Tricia: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?

I.J.: Bernard Malamud: “Using personal experience in your fiction, without invention, is like uncooked spaghetti.”

Tricia: If you get writer’s block, how do you get around it?

I.J.: Read a lot, write emails, write anything…even a shopping list.

Tricia: If you could bring one of your characters to life, which one would it be and why?

I.J.: I’d have to go with Heathcliff. Some of my main male characters can be a bit alter-egoish. He definitely is nothing like me, except we can both be very passionate, but I am in a quiet intense way, while he is all raw emotion. I’d love to hear him talk about anything with the great zest he has for life. I’d also think he would enjoy hanging with me and learning how to chill.

Tricia: Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?

I.J.: Philip Roth. It’s so amazing how prolific he was from his early years to later in life. He is a master observer of human nature, a beautiful manager of language, all with touches that every person can relate to.

Tricia: What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?

I.J.: Literary erotica. It has the aura of sexy and well-written to it.

Tricia: What are you working on at the moment?

I.J.: I’m working on a New Adult erotic romance for the 18-25 crowd called CELINE’S SOLUTION, about a college girl who gets her final, senior year education from her young English professor who is both a master of passion and a troubled secretive soul. Before she can know for sure whether she has found true love or needs to move on, she needs to unravel all of his mysteries.

Tricia: What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed?

I.J.: Believe it or not, as stated in the contract I signed for WUTHERING NIGHTS, I had six weeks to deliver a first draft, then another three to produce a final accepted manuscript. This included the research as well. I immersed myself into the book, ten hours a day, seven days a week…and met the deadline.

Tricia: What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why?

I.J.: My biggest achievement is that I’m still doing it. I started out with mainstream success in the mid-80s, but struggled to sell my work for the next ten to fifteen years. But I never gave up, never stopped writing. A great testament to follow your dream. I’m enjoying my current success but never for an instant take it for granted.

BIO FOR I.J. MILLER

I.J. Miller is the author of five, distinct, literary, erotic works of fiction: SEESAW was translated into two languages, with over 130,000 copies in print; WHIPPED appeared in both English and German; SEX AND LOVE, a collection of short stories, made its debut in the summer of 2011; CLIMBING THE STAIRS, a novella, was released just a year later. His latest novel, WUTHERING NIGHTS, is an erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic, Wuthering Heights, and is published by the Grand Central Publishing imprint of Hatchette Books. It is available now as an e-book and as a trade paperback both online and in bookstores. The audio book is due out July 16. Miller has a Master of Fine Arts from the American Film Institute and has taught creative writing and screenwriting at the university level.

Website: http://www.ijmiller.com.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Heathcliffian

Categories: interview, literary fiction

Book Review: Six Weeks

Six Weeks
by Jessica L Degarmo
Published Oct 2011 by Taylor Street Publishing
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

SIX WEEKS FOR LIFE OR DEATH ……

In ‘Six Weeks’, Jessica L. Degarmo departs from the style of her very successful Romance novels – ‘Hooking Up’, ‘The Storm Within’, ‘Decisions’ and ‘How To Meet A Guy In The Supermarket’ – to examine every teenage girl’s nightmare: that she is pregnant and not certain she’s ready for a child.

It is a life and death decision – not her life, but her decision – and despite the opinions of those around her, she is on her own.

In a world of gray, one thing is black and white. Six weeks is her deadline to decide.

Maybe you have been there, in which case you will understand.


Note: Six Weeks is a book I purchased for my own reading pleasure, though I have asked the author if I could feature her on this site in an interview. This book is very hard to review because I’m trying to keep my own political and religious views separate from my opinions about the actual story. But, in our current political climate, it’s impossible not to have an opinion about the issues addressed in this book. It’s difficult to review this book without allowing personal views to intervene, but I will try. Jessica Degarmo certainly does her best to explore these issues without inserting her opinions into the story–and she succeeds quite nicely.
My Review: It was hard to put this book down. Degarmo gets right to the heart of the matter on the very first page by introducing the main character, Imogene (Immy), and her predicament. Immy is young, unmarried, and pregnant. She has six weeks to make a decision that will affect not only her and the embryo growing inside her, but everyone else in her life as well. 
Good literature is about stepping outside our own lives and experiencing someone else’s. And, that’s what this book does. This book is a journey into Immy’s life. Her pregnancy and what to do about it is her most pressing problem, but it isn’t the only one. The pregnancy brings to light everything else that’s going on in her life. No longer is she able to approach life with her usual acceptance and apathy; the blinders are off and she now views her life and her living situation for what it really is. Immy’s emotions and reactions aren’t always pleasant. She doesn’t always make the best decisions and I don’t always like what she has to say. Sometimes, Immy is downright frustrating. But, she is real and her reactions are reflective of a real-life, troubled nineteen-year-old. Her emotions are clouded by pregnancy hormones, a horrible upbringing, an abusive mother, and the fact that she has more responsibilities than an average college-age person. Degarmo does a wonderful job helping the reader see things through Immy’s eyes and feeling her emotions. We agonize over her decision. We feel her confusion. We cry (at least I did) when she must make a series of difficult decisions that have nothing to do with the pregnancy–and everything to do with it. 
Overall, this novel is literary fiction at it’s best. There’s no sugar-coating, no cotton-candy moments, and nothing magical happens to make everything fall into place. The characters are real. The situations they face are identical to what real people are experiencing in real life. This is a cold, sobering wave of reality. If you’re looking for romance and happy endings, you won’t find it here. But, if you’re looking for a thought-provoking, well-written novel, then Six Weeks is the book for you. I’d recommend it as a book for teens to read before they find themselves in Immy’s situation. I guarantee that if you read this book, you’ll never look at the issue of teenage pregnancy or abortion in quite the same. And, though this book doesn’t change my opinion on any issues, it certainly reinforces my own views as I head to the election booth in November.
Six Weeks is available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle
Categories: book review, literary fiction

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