Latest News


Andrew's erotic novelette, 'Eton Mess', is now available!



Sunday, 26 March 2017

‘Hippie Mafia’, by Jessica Evans

I’d like to welcome author Jessica Evans to talk about her first novel, ‘Hippie Mafia’, published by Rogue Phoenix Press.  During this book tour, Jessica will give a way a digital book to one lucky commenter.

Hippie Mafia is a story of urban redemption, examining how greed and loyalty influence decisions in a sub-culture that is generally accepted as being peaceful and without strife.

BLURB

Hippie Mafia is a multi-voice narrative that examines gender roles within the constructs of urban identity. The antagonist of the work, Mason, is the antithesis of the female archetype, both in her decision making skills and in the progression of her character through her stand-alone agency. The female protagonist, Amy, is one who responds to the situations she finds herself in as one might expect of a standard female character. It is the hope of the work that these two conflicting female identities will help the reader to begin to understand and examine ways in which female characters do not need a male counterpoint to advance their own stores.

Hippie Mafia

REVIEW:

Hippie Mafia

The Granola Gang Book One

By Jessica Evans

4.5 stars (out of 5)

Review by Nancy Dafoe

 

Refuting the claim that Hippie Mafia is strictly a Southern California cultural phenomenon, propelled by drug users and dealers, Jessica Evans takes readers deep into a group within the counterculture of Cincinnati, Ohio in her new novel Hippie Mafia: The Granola Gang. As benign and healthy as the subtitle sounds, Evans’ gang is anything but hearty or harmless to each other. Betrayal ultimately strains and unravels the bonds found in what was once a tight-knit “family” of drug users chasing Phish on the circuit.

Propelled by the rawness, as well as naturalness of dialogue, the narrative moves with agility and acceleration until the denouement:

“‘Hello,’ I offer. She looks around the room like she's seeing it for the first time, too.

‘Like these kinds of accommodations,’ she snickers.

‘Excuse me?

‘You know, a room like this,’ she says, waving her hand, ‘with four blank walls and nothing to do or anyone to see.’

‘I've been in worse places.’”

This is a subculture the author appears to know intimately, with knowledge of “moving weight,” yet Evans’ narrative is empathetic. At the center of this group of friends, who grow, cook, sell, and use, are the slightly unusual best friends Mason Williams and Dugan Reeves, and brother and sister Amy and Ghost Barnes. Mason is a lesbian with a tough outer shell and a soft inner core. Dugan is half in love with Mason, as well as in love with Amy. Their lives of casual and serious sex, love affairs, fighting, stealing, drug use and selling, parallel their individual and collective search for redemption on the less-than-prosperous streets of Middle America in Cincinnati.

We come to know Amy, Angela, Beata, Mason, Ghost, Dugan, Nola, Ian, Julian, and Theseus intimately, these characters who took communion in drugs on tours. Their sacrament, however, comes with an end date. Almost from the opening pages, we know it will be Mason who betrays the family, but Evans’ story examines people, not caricatures, the how and why, as much as taking us inside the limits of loyalty and love within this counterculture.

Brother and sister Amy and Ghost may be the heart of the Granola Gang, and Ghost quite possibly dispenses the wisest words, even from his tentative stance: “‘All I'm saying is you're too narrow. Your focus is too pinpointed. It's always Dugan. Dugan can't just be your whole world. Let this be it, man. Get your ass out of there while you can still remember who you are.’”

Mason and Dugan spur the action, but it is Theseus and Julian who symbolically orient this novel that is as much about love and fumbling attempts at redemption as drugs, violence, and betrayal.

EXCERPT

Amy shakes her head and looks at Ghost. He wonders just what his sister is thinking, and why he can't see the same kind of rage he's feeling in her.

"So, what? We need to go get you packed?" Ghost's mind is thinking ahead to the logistics of getting Amy out of the apartment in Norwood. He knows Julian has an extra room at his spot in Mount Auburn he would gladly offer up to Amy.

"Your girls know? Beata? Who did you tell?"

"I couldn't," Amy starts, shaking her head, "I couldn't call anyone. The only one who knows is you. Beata would've come last night."

"So would I if you would have called me right after it happened. You shouldn't have waited. I would have been right there."

"But I know you. Your temper. Really, I was worried about what you would do."

"You mean you were worried I'd force you to make the right choice is more like it."

"Something like that," Amy says into her palms. "Like I don't think he set out to do it. I'm sure he was stressed, and whatever he was on didn't help. Probably, I should have just left when he started yelling like that."

"So what, now you're justifying his behavior? You sure this is the first time?" Ghost squints his eyes at Amy, trying to read into her.

She nods her head but doesn't say anything, confirming Ghost's suspicions.

"Right, well. We still need to get you out. Since no one knows, I'll just tell Julian your spot has ants or something. I don't know, I'll figure it out. We need to get back over there and get you a bag of whatever you need. I'll handle getting the rest of your stuff out later."

His mind in overdrive, Ghost sees him helping his sister move out of the apartment. He's never disliked Dugan, but he's never been a big fan either. There's something to be said about a dude who has a chick for a best friend. Something about that has never sat well with Ghost, and looking at his sister's face, he wonders if he's known something like this would happen all along.

"Ghost, I can't do that."

"Why are you arguing this with me, homie? I don't get it."

"It was an accident, man. I can't just get up and leave over something Dugan didn't mean to do."

"Yes, you can. You should. You will." Ghost lets the words sit between he and his sister before going on. "When we were little, there were a million times I wanted to be able to do something to save you. To save us. To get us out of that bullshit we had to deal with. I couldn't then. Had no money, no heat, and no options. Now I can. You need to listen to me, Amy. Listen hard. You say this was the first time, we both know that's probably not true. But this was probably the worst so far. You think he's just going to stop? That all of a sudden a chump ass dude like Dugan is going to realize he shouldn't go around hitting females? You have to see it's just going to keep getting worse. I mean, you have to. Until the next time you call me, it's not going to be about a black eye, but a broken arm, or getting shoved down the stairs, or a slug in the chest. I get that you want to be solo and indie and all that. Cool, I dig. You can't do this on your own, and you can't go back to him."

"I don't know what to do." Amy reaches for her cheek. "I hear you, brother. I really do. Promise this was the first time, but I can see how you might think otherwise. Thing is, I know you're right. I can't just leave. I can't abandon him like that. I know he didn't mean it. I called you because I was scared. Looking in the mirror and seeing this is not the way to start a morning. Shit freaked me out, and I didn't know what to do. Just running away isn't going to solve this problem either."

Ghost shakes his head. "Amy, you realize how you sound right now?" he asks. "I mean really. I've watched you over the last few years let yourself get so wrapped up in this dude, you've lost all your drive. Remember when you were a person outside of Dugan? There was this whole other life you always talked about, the one where you're getting out of the city, doing something with yourself. Now what? Dude's clocking you in the jaw and you're growing boomers in your spot? How is that any different from the shit we saw growing up? Thank god you're not pregnant at least."

Ghost's voice has been steadily rising. A few of the early morning coffee sippers are cutting sideways glances at their table. Ghost realizes they're being observed and tries to dial it back in a bit.

"All I'm saying is you're too narrow. Your focus is too pinpointed. It's always Dugan. Dugan can't just be your whole world. Let this be it, man. Get your ass out of there while you can still remember who you are."

Amy stares at her brother, unflinching. Her eyes move in a pattern from the table to the sugar canister to Ghost's eyes and back, a constant revolving circle, as if she's running on a wheel. She sits like that for a while, and Ghost doesn't say anything, hoping his words are sinking in and will have some effect. He's already cleared his schedule for the day so for the first time in a while, he has nowhere else to be, nothing more important to do than to sit and vibe with his sister, to protect her the ways that she protected him for so many years. He finishes his coffee and stands up.

"I'm getting another one. You need an answer by the time I get back."

Amy looks at the line, four people deep, and then down at the ground. She doesn't say anything to Ghost, but nods her head. Her mouth forms into a flat line and she starts chewing her cheek.

"You're going to chew a hole in your cheek, kid," Ghost says lightly, putting his hand on her shoulder. It's a throwback to something their mother used to say before she went off the deep end and landed herself in prison. Amy smiles wanly and pats Ghost's hand.

"Sounds like something Mom used to say," she replies.

"I'll get you another cup," Ghost says as he walks off.

AUTHOR BIO

Jessica Evans photo

Jessica Evans is a Cincinnati native. Her work examines the ways in which personal experiences shape perspectives. She has earned an MFA from Spalding University. Currently, she lives at the base of the Wichita Mountain Range, where she’s falling in love with wide open spaces.

Website: http:// www.jessicarevans.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jevans624

Thursday, 16 March 2017

‘Side Slip’, by Mike Fuller

I’d like to welcome author Mike Fuller and his latest novel, Side Slip (book three in the Sam Deland series), published by Rogue Phoenix Press.  During this book tour, Mike will give away a digital copy of one of his books to a lucky commenter.

Cops, mobsters and murder all mixed up and no one knows where it will end. But smart, tough and lucky swirl together to push the action through the chilling story of both good guys and bad.

Side SlipTitle: Side Slip

Sam Deland Crime Novel Book Three

ISBN: 978-1-62420-334-3

Author: Mike Fuller

Genre: suspense

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 3

Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

REVIEW:

SIDE SLIP -- A Sam Deland crime novel. Book III

Mike Fuller

Rating--5

Reviewed by G. Lloyd Helm

Side Slip is not an easy read, but well worth it. There is nothing predictable about this book, but it does have a sort of familiarity. It has everything a crime novel reader could want. There are decent plot lines, but it is character driven all the way, which is why it is sometimes hard to read. Fuller has made the characters so real that the reader sympathizes with them, even the bad guys. And he gives you a wide range of characters to choose from, Pennsylvania State Troopers, Male and Female, Florida Sheriffs, Male and Female, Farmers that used to be Navy SEALS, Dope seller/ murderers, crooked cop/burglars, and dogs.

Side Slip is worth the read.

BLURB

Stuck in paradise and he isn’t very happy about it. Even the beautiful lady detective that gunned down the man trying to kill them both can’t get him to stay. Corporal Sam Deland wants out. Back to work leading his squad of state troopers and home where he can take up the life he had to put on hold. But Sam isn’t the only one wanting him to return. The woman he left behind is waiting for him and so is the Russian Mob. Sam’s past is catching up with him, and he doesn’t see it coming, yet. Detective Christie O’Shea, the pretty Florida cop that nursed Sam back to health won’t have the time to miss him when he’s gone. Murder is what she’s paid to solve, and she has to go after a killer that has sent shock waves deep into the police community around her. A triple play of heart stopping and heart warming suspense, action and life as Sam, his troopers and Christie all find they are in the middle of murders and mobsters. A story that twists and turns through the investigations and the lives of characters you will grow to know, to cheer and to fear. Sharp dialogue, real characters and enough drama, humor and mystery to keep the reader up late not ready to put it down yet. Another thrilling Sam Deland crime novel from the author of Sink Rate and Rope Break.

EXCERPT

The search for a hidden key did not go well. All the usual spots came up empty. Dickie went down the steps to the garage but still no luck and then back up to where Ray stood next to the front door and sighed, "Well, ain't no key. Let's get it over with."

The pry bar didn't get it done. Ray had to whack the deadbolt a couple of hard hits with the sledge before the door flew inward. Dickie started in and stopped short. He smelled cinnamon. Ray almost ran into his back. Probably one a them plug in thingys.

Dickie held up his hand and then swiveled his head back and forth, trying to adjust to the slightly brighter light inside. Dickie heard nothing except the clicking of a wall clock somewhere. He shrugged and crossed to the kitchen door at the other side of the living room. Ray split to the right and did a quick walk through of the downstairs.

They met at the foot of the stairs and Ray pointed to a metal cabinet next to the cold fireplace, "I'll start on that, give me the bar, eh?" It wasn't a real gun safe, just a thin metal locker meant to keep kids away from the guns.

Dickie handed the pry bar to Ray and started up the stairs, shining the flashlight as he moved out of the light cast by the lamp. The cash and handguns were usually in the bedrooms. There seemed to be three upstairs and a bathroom. Dickie had to piss by now and stopped to go. He started and almost pissed on his hand when he realized there was a candle in a glass jar burning on the tub rim. That appeared to be the source of the cinnamon odor and was certainly the source of big trouble.

Ray was pounding loudly on the metal cabinet downstairs, and Dickie almost shit his pants as the figure of a small woman in a bathrobe passed by in the hall just outside of the bathroom. Dickie didn't even zip up his jeans and stuck his head out of the bathroom and looked down the hall. The small woman was there leaning out to try to get a look at what was making all the noise downstairs. Dickie's blood turned to ice when she turned toward him, and he saw the black automatic in her left hand.

She hadn't seen him yet. She just stood there but then turned to go back toward the bedroom. He knew there was probably a phone there, and he couldn't let her get to it. He tried to melt into the small space between the sink and the door, and as she moved past, he stepped in behind her and grabbed at the gun.

He missed. All that police training didn't help. She yelped and turned the pistol toward him. It was not quite full dark in the hall and Dickie could see it happening and knew what was coming. Without hesitating, he swung the heavy flashlight and struck her across her left cheek. The blow emitted a sickening crunch as bone gave way to the heavy metal light. She staggered but did not go down. The gun was waving in the short space of air between them and Dickie expected it to spit flame and his death at any moment. He stepped into her and brought the flashlight down with all his strength on top of her head.

She followed the motion of the blow and crumpled onto the hallway floor. Dickie was breathing in gasps by now, but he could still hear Ray pounding metal on metal. He tried to hit the button on the flashlight to see if the woman was still conscious but his finger slipped across. The wetness puzzled him for a moment but he got the light to come on and as he played the beam down on the figure at his feet, he was surprised to see blood dripping off the end and falling through the shaft of light onto the pink bathrobe of the very dead woman beneath him.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Mike Fuller

After writing professional documents for many years, Mike has finally devoted time to his true passion, writing fiction where the story and characters come alive in the reader’s mind. While his days were filled with authoring hundreds of detailed crime reports, arrest affidavits, search warrants and grand jury presentments, he took some of his own time and devoured books by the dozens. Reading not only was a rewarding diversion, it provided him with the added education he needed to function at a high level in his profession.

This has led to the creation of Mike’s crime/suspense/detective novels Sink Rate, Rope Break and Side Slip, the first three in the Sam Deland Crime Novel series. All are expected to be published in 2015 and 2016 by Rogue Phoenix Press

Mike writes with the real life experience that many years of law enforcement shaped and influenced. The stories may be fiction but are based on how things happen in the real world. His books are honest and captivating novels written with a unique voice that will both chill and charm.

Mike is a veteran police detective. He did it all from rookie patrolman to Senior Special Agent. His life has been enriched by a wonderful marriage, parenting, work, flying, sailing and good books. Mike is a lifelong outdoorsman, an experienced tactical firearms instructor, champion sailplane pilot and the captain of his own sailboat. All of these skills have made his novels vivid, exciting and real. Now retired after a career with three law enforcement agencies, Mike enjoys winters writing in Naples, Florida and summers sailing, writing and researching the next novel at his rural Pennsylvania home.

Web/Blog: http://mikefullerauthor.com

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mikefullerauthor

On Twitter: @mikefullerwrite

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

‘Weekend Treat’ Released

After a speedy turnaround following acceptance, ‘Weekend Treat’ is now released. 

A big thank you to all at Cobblestone Press for making it happen, especially Courtney, my editor, who was as great to work with as she was with ‘Bank Manager’.

I’ve already visited Carole Ann Moleti’s blog to talk about the story’s background.

WeekendTreat Big

Here’s the blurb:

Rachel McKenzie has to give up another Saturday morning to her job. Lucky for her, two handsome plumbers have to work through the weekend too. Egged on by a dare from her colleagues, Rachel dresses sexy and flirts with the men while they work in her office. The plumbers are eager to return her attention, but can Rachel handle taking things to the next level? 

And an excerpt:

Rachel brushed a layer of dust from the counter in the department’s tea point. “God, this place is a mess.” She poured milk into her tea and then into the mug Kerry-Jane held out.

“Ta.” Kerry-Jane had been Rachel’s student for nearly three years. People around the university sometimes joked that they could be sisters. They both had black hair, but Rachel thought Kerry-Jane looked so much younger.

“It’s dirtier than an archaeological site,” Rachel commented. “At least I had the sense to wear my tatty fieldwork stuff to the office.” She winced in response to the clatter of yet another radiator being ripped from a wall.

“That’s my and Amy’s waterworks being adjusted,” Kerry-Jane confirmed as she flicked her ponytail over a shoulder.

The department had been under construction all week. Rachel wondered when the boys would start in her office. She knew the windows would have to be shut while they were around, and she dreaded the summer heat. That breeze through the windows was the only reason she had survived the season this far.

Kerry-Jane fished the teabag from her mug with a spoon. “Having those two replumbing the place is a fine compensation for having my PhD research interrupted. Christ, they’re Swedish and Italian.”

“Does that make a difference?” Rachel asked, feigning disinterest.

Kerry-Jane gave a long, slow sigh. “It makes them exotic. A cool Scandinavian and a hot Latin make a sexy combination. And they’re both hunks.”

“Are they really hunks?” Rachel dropped her teabag into the bin. “I hadn’t noticed.”

Kerry-Jane laughed. “I bet you did.”

“Well, maybe I had noticed their bulging biceps, thick thighs and tight bums, just this much.” Rachel placed her thumb and forefinger a fraction of an inch apart. “But as they’re nearer your age than mine—”

“Christ,” Kerry-Jane interrupted. “You’re only, what...thirty?”

Rachel rolled her eyes. “Thirty-one.”

“And you’ve still got it.” Kerry-Jane’s voice fell to a whisper. “All the blokes in the department have the hots for you.”

Rachel raised an eyebrow. “I thought that was just banter.”

Kerry-Jane shook her head with a mischievous smile. “And the plumbers are miffed at their boss making them do your office on a weekend when you won’t be here to flirt. Apparently you’re the most beautiful doctor they’ve ever seen.”

Rachel raised her other eyebrow.

“You’ve got no idea how gorgeous you are, have you?” Kerry-Jane bit her lip. “That’s what the blokes say.”

Rachel sipped tea to hide her warming cheeks. “Well, you’re gorgeous, and everyone reckons we could be sisters, so I suppose I’ve got cause for hope. And the hunks will have to work around me after all because I’ve got a paper to finish.”

Kerry-Jane laughed. “You’ll be lucky if they let you get anything done!”

Rachel rolled her eyes, trying not to let her pleasure show. “But don’t you and Amy want them? What kind of friend would I be if I got in the way?”

“Of course we do, but we’ve got other halves, so we can only flirt.” Kerry-Jane shook her head in mock sadness but then brightened. “Instead of your fieldwork grunge, why not try something daring tomorrow? Feel sexy. Don’t wear a bra.”

Rachel’s cheeks warmed more. “I couldn’t do that.”

“Why not?”

She sipped her tea as the thought sent butterflies into her stomach. “Well, I...”

Kerry-Jane winked. “Amy took hers off at lunchtime.”

Rachel was shocked. “Did she?”

Kerry-Jane nodded.

“I’ll think about it.” Well, fantasize about it. Rachel tried to push those naughty thoughts away. She walked with her student along the corridor and leaned casually against Amy and Kerry-Jane’s office doorframe to glance at the plumbers. She dragged her gaze to Amy.

The blonde looked up from her laptop to smile.

Rachel saw the nipples pushing against Amy’s flimsy T-shirt. Rachel couldn’t imagine being that brave.

She sipped her tea again as her gaze drifted back to the men leaning over the radiator. Their shirts were riding up to reveal muscular backs, and the cut-off jeans did little to hide their tight rumps and their taut leg muscles.

Kerry-Jane leaned toward Rachel to whisper, “Let’s make a bet. If the boys don’t make a pass tomorrow, your two favorite PhD students will take you out for a meal. If they do, you pay.”

“I think I might take you up on that, KayJay,” Rachel said, secretly hoping she would have to pay for the food.

Kerry-Jane grinned. “Cool.”

They shook hands.

One of the plumbers looked around. His sparkling blue eyes regarded Rachel’s figure before pulling back to her face. “We’ll do your office tomorrow,” he said with a Scandinavian accent.

His smile made Rachel shiver. She took the opportunity to gaze back into his eyes. “I need to work tomorrow. Will my presence inconvenience you?”

His Latin partner stood. “It would be a pleasure to work around you.”

Rachel’s stomach fluttered. A little flirt tomorrow can’t hurt.

The Latin’s bicep flexed as he picked up the end of a radiator.

Rachel glanced at Amy, whose mouth hung open as she watched.

The Latin’s grin showed off his dimples. “We’ll see you tomorrow, then, Doctor McKenzie.”

Kerry-Jane winked at Rachel.

“Yeah. See you tomorrow.” Rachel retreated to her office. She couldn’t resist looking at her radiator and imagining the two men distracting her.

She wondered if she’s have the nerve to go without a bra.

Feel sexy. Kerry-Jane’s advice floated through Rachel’s mind as she glanced at the photograph near her computer.

Ebony, her cat, stared back.

“Tomorrow might be fun, Ebbs...”