Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Authors To Watch: Ross Victory Author PANORAMA #authorstowatch

Ross Victory is an Award-Winning American author, singer/songwriter, travel geek and author of the father-son memoir, Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son (2019) and Panorama: The Missing Chapter (2020). Ross spent his early years collecting pens, notepads and interviewing himself in a tape recorder. With an acute awareness for his young age, Ross was eager to point out hypocrisies and character inconsistencies in children and adults through English assignments. If he weren’t keeping his English teachers on their toes for what he would say or write next, he was processing his world through songwriting and music.



After a friendship ignites and morphs into a curious tale of parallel souls with a Brazilian-American soldier serving in the U.S. military in South Korea, Panorama reflects on the author’s contemplations to return to a crumbling family life in Los Angeles or to endure his life in Seoul for an end-of-
contract cash payout.

With a thought-provoking storyline that covers eating live octopus, philosophical debates about the gender of God, a pregnancy, and bisexual erasure in men, Panorama delivers a page-turning cerebral adventure. Ending with prose that simultaneously bites and soothes, Panorama suggests readers stand tall in their unique intersections of relationships and sex. Reminding us that as daunting as the vicissitudes of life, and no matter the view from the cockpit of life, the human spirit cannot, and should not, be restrained. While truth may be the bitterest pill of them all, the effects of our truth can bring us closer to an unbroken life.

In this small book are two masterpieces, a riveting remembrance of several life-altering experiences and relationships the author began in Seoul, South Korea, and an essay, let’s call it part tirade, part profound reflection on our view of men, masculinity, sexuality, and romance. You cannot stop until finished because there is no midway, no stopping point as you become a part of his world. After nearly every sentence you scream with or at his observations either with critical reflections or ecstasy. Ross has his pulse on his generation and the most precarious issues confronting sexuality and romance.
–Dr. Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Ph.D. –Cornell University & Author of “Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity among Men”


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We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing autobiographical fiction?

I've always been drawn to storytelling from my earliest memories as a little black boy. The jump to professional narration was instigated by the loss of my dad in 2017. Adding fictional elements to real-life stories allows me to enhance themes and parts of the narrative that I want to pop out.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

As a writer, I try to stay in touch with how I feel. I don't write when I'm uninspired. When I am inspired, I set my timer for 3 or 4 hours and write with no breaks. I've also learned not to edit myself during the writing process. Sometimes I write when I'm waiting in line at Target or stuck in traffic. Panorama, was partially written in Tulum, Mexico, on a beach with a perfect sunrise and weather, so calming and peaceful locations can be quite inspiring. I also split my writing into stages: planning, writing, editing, and re-writing. When the story is complete, I will wait a few weeks to let it marinate and read it back to fill in holes or remove sections that don't make sense or may not be entertaining.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

After a friendship ignites and morphs into a curious tale of parallel souls with a Brazilian-American soldier serving in the U.S. military, Panorama reflects on the author’s contemplations to return to a crumbling family life in Los Angeles or to endure his life in Seoul for an end-of-contract cash payout, until things take an unexpected turn.

In Panorama, I broaden my stance on the importance of moments spotlighting isolation and exposing the perks and ailments of escapism. With precise prose and a thought-provoking storyline that covers eating live octopus, philosophical debates about the gender of God, pregnancy, and bisexual erasure—Panorama stands tall as a connected yet separate story. Panorama puts biphobia under a microscope by exposing double discrimination with consideration to cultural intersections of race and religion.

Using the death of my father and brother as the linchpin to personal development, I reframe pain and loss into resilience and personal achievement.

How did you get the idea for the book?

Panorama, was written from the perspective of a double minority. Panorama sits on the intersection of race and sexuality identity—which for me, is that of a bisexual black man in America. I highlight that fact because, in the United States, black voices are drowned out by the majority, and bisexual voices are drowned out by the majority (straight) and minority (gay) voices. Sometimes I have felt unseen and unheard, so it was vital for me to write an honest, entertaining story, but also to give my opinion on the state of affairs in the post “Love is Love” world.

What projects are you currently working on?

As a writer (books and music), projects are ongoing. I have several songs that I intend to release, and a host of short stories that I would like to release. Be sure to check out Panorama the song which will be available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube Sunday, June 21, too. As the world struggles to get a grip on COVID-19 and institutional racism that has plagued black people, my role is to be the best version of myself possible through art that soothes the spirit but also provokes conversation.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Authors To Watch: Rie Sheridan Rose Author THE MARVELOUS MECHANICAL MAN #authorstowatch

Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. A lot. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers Vols. 1 and 2, and Killing It Softly Vols. 1 and 2. She has authored twelve novels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs. These were mostly written in conjunction with Marc Gunn, and can be found on “Don’t Go Drinking with Hobbits” and “Pirates vs. Dragons” for the most part–with a few scattered exceptions.

Her favorite work to date is The Conn-Mann Chronicles Steampunk series with five books released so far: The Marvelous Mechanical Man, The Nearly Notorious Nun, The Incredibly Irritating Irishman, The Fiercely Formidable Fugitive, and The Elderly Earl’s Estate.

Rie lives in Texas with her wonderful husband and several spoiled cat-children.


Website:  and

The Marvelous Mechanical Man is the first book in a Steampunk series featuring the adventures of Josephine Mann, an independent woman in need of a way to pay her rent. She meets Professor Alistair Conn, in need of a lab assistant, and a partnership is created that proves exciting adventure for both of them.

Alistair’s prize invention is an automaton standing nine feet tall. There’s a bit of a problem though…he can’t quite figure out how to make it move. Jo just might be of help there. Then again, they might not get a chance to find out, as the marvelous mechanical man goes missing.

Jo and Alistair find themselves in the middle of a whirlwind of kidnapping, catnapping, and cross-country chases that involve airships, trains, and a prototype steam car. With a little help from their friends, Herbert Lattimer and Winifred Bond, plots are foiled, inventions are perfected, and a good time is had by all.


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We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction? 

The first thing I remember writing was a short story based on a dream I had. I think I premiered it as a spoken word piece at camp when I was eleven or so. I started writing my first novel about the same time, and eventually published a much revised version about twenty-five years later. So, basically, I’ve been writing as long as I remember.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

I am basically a pantser. I might know the basics of where I am going, but rarely the specifics. This makes the process more interesting for me, as I am often surprised by the way the story twists and turns. The main character of my short story “Grandmother Clause” literally made me cry with an unexpected act of selfless kindness... 

Most of my novels were originally drafted for National Novel Writing Month—including The Marvelous Mechanical Man—and I strive during those drafts to do about a chapter a day ending on a cliff-hanger of some sort to pick up for the next day’s word count. This method seems to work fairly well for me.

Can you tell us about your book tour release?

I edited this question a little because The Marvelous Mechanical Man is by no means my latest release, but it is the one I wanted to “pump up” with this tour. The Marvelous Mechanical Man is the first book in the Steampunk series, The Conn-Mann Chronicles. There are currently five books in the series, and a spin-off novel in revisions. The book tells the story of Josephine Mann, a young woman in 1870s New York City. She’s down to her last five dollars and looking for work when she runs into Professor Alistair Conn who is looking for a lab assistant. It’s a match made in chaos as Jo tries to organize the absent-minded professor’s lab and meddles in the creation of the marvelous automaton, Phaeton, that is Alistair’s crowning achievement. It’s non-stop action involving airships, trains, and a prototype steam-car among other inventions. Plus, it features my cat in a pivotal role. I am biased, I know, but I really love this series.

How did you get the idea for the book?

The basic idea to write Steampunk came from my writing partner who challenged me to do this for NaNoWriMo. Then I added the layer of writing a novel in First Person, which I had never done before. As I say, this book was originally written several years ago, and I am terrible about blogging, so I can’t find any specifics on why an automaton, but I did have the basics of Jo and Alistair’s characters and the series title The Conn-Mann Chronicles in mind from the beginning. Originally, as I recall, there was to be a bit of confidence man involved, but the characters would have nothing to do with such immoral endeavors.

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

I think it has to be Josephine Mann. She’s so delightfully opinionated and yet compassionate and practical. I honestly am never sure what she is going to say.

I have other characters I really love—Stefan in The Luckless Prince, Daisy in Skellyman, Dazzle in Mutiny on the Moonbeam—but none compares to Jo. I actually took a little doll of her with me to Dublin for WorldCon last year, and a larger model is a frequent con-goer (along with Alistair and the cat)

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

The most challenging aspect was doing the whole book in First Person and trying to stay true to that. Making sure Jo didn’t tell us anything she couldn’t know--like what was going on in someone else’s head. Third person is so good about allowing that, but First is technically only supposed to include what the narrator knows or observes. It’s been a lot of fun when Jo changes her mind due to new data.

What projects are you currently working on?

Currently, I am revising the spin-off story I mentioned above while my editor looks over one of my orphans I want to polish and re-release. I also have two novels--a fantasy romance, and a contemporary romance--that need revising. I have been writing a space opera on and off for about thirty years, and I hope to one day finish that. And I am working on a chapbook of poetry titled Life in a Time of Quarantine. Plus, waiting for Jo to be ready to sit down and write Book Six of The Conn-Mann Chronicles. So, not a lot. ;)

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?

There really is value to the phrase “Show, Don’t Tell.” It’s very hard to understand though. I highly recommend the book Understanding Show, Don't Tell: (And Really Getting It) (Skill Builders Series Book 1) by Janice Hardy. I love this book. It’s the first one that really explained this concept clearly. Even after twelve novels, this book was extremely useful to me. (So much so that, when a cat knocked it into a sink full of water, I got another copy.)

Don’t be afraid to try things. Challenge yourself to do something you’ve never tried before--write in a different point-of-view; write a genre you’ve never explored; research something new. This is one of the fun aspects of writing.

Last, but most important, never consider your first draft final. The first draft is building the skeleton of the story. Then you send it to trusted (and knowledgeable) beta-readers to find out where you need work. Revising is where you put the flesh on the bones and make it pretty. 

I am the first to admit that I used to hate editing and revisions. I thought it was a real chore. But once I realized how much fun it can be tweaking the rough edges and making everything polished and professional, that’s now my favorite part. And it can make all the difference. One more story to illustrate this.

I wrote a story for an anthology that I really wanted to be part of. I liked the story, but I didn’t know if it was any good or not. I sent it to one of my favorite beta-readers and she told me she liked it...but what if I took it out of Third Person and made it First instead? I tried it, and it made a WORLD of difference. The story grew exponentially in power and depth--and it was accepted. Your mileage may vary, but it just goes to show how important this advice can be for new and experienced authors alike. :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

New Historical Romance: The Rising Place, by David Armstrong

: Historical Romance

Author: David Armstrong


Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Purchase Link: The Rising Place by David Armstrong

About the Book:

The Rising Place is based on an interesting premise: What if you found a hidden box of letters from World War II that belonged to a reclusive old maid who had just died—would you read them? And what if you did and discovered an enthralling story about unrequited love, betrayal, and murder that happened in a small, southern town over seventy years ago?

When a young lawyer moves down south to Hamilton, Mississippi to begin his practice, one of his first assignments is to draft a will for Emily Hodge. “Miss Emily” is a 75-year-old spinster, shunned by Hamilton society, but the lawyer is intrigued by her and can’t understand why this charming lady lives such a solitary and seemingly forgotten life.

After Emily dies, the lawyer goes to Emily’s hospital room to retrieve her few possessions and bequeath them as she directed, and he discovers a sewing box full of old letters, hidden in the back of one of her nightstand drawers. He takes the letters back to his office and reads them, and he soon learns why Emily Hodge died alone, though definitely not forgotten by those whose lives she touched.

About the Author:

David Armstrong was born and raised in Natchez, Mississippi. He is an attorney, former mayor, and former candidate for the U.S. Congress. Currently, he serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the city of Columbus, Mississippi. David received both an undergraduate and a master’s degree in political science from Mississippi State University, before going on to receive a law degree from the University of Mississippi. 

The Rising Place Place, David’s second novel, was made into a feature film by Flatland Pictures before it was published by The Wild Rose Press. His third novel, The Third Gift, will be released by The Wild Rose Press this summer. He has also written four screenplays.

David is the father of two grown sons, William and Canon, and lives in one of the oldest and most haunted antebellum homes in Columbus with a snarky old cat named Butch.

Find out more: 

Read an excerpt! 

When Emily Hodge died, I assumed I would be one of the few people at her funeral. She had lived such a solitary life. She didn’t really seem like a loner, but that was before I learned about the murders and Miss Emily’s past.

She had no family that I was ever aware of. Once, though, when I went to see her in the retirement center before she moved to the hospital, she said something about a “Mr. Wilder” who had visited her years earlier when she used to live in her little yellow house. But I wasn’t sure who this Wilder fellow was or where he was from, and I doubted he was still alive. That was a long time ago, like Miss Emily had said.

And that yellow frame house of hers on Monmouth Avenue has gone through several tenants since Miss Emily moved out and went to the Methodist Retirement Center. Most of the asbestos shingles on the front bottom of the house were covered now with kudzu vine and badly cracked, and Miss Emily would have hated they were so noticeable, so I never told her. I realized several years ago that there were some things it was best Miss Emily never know about.

I never understood why Miss Emily didn’t marry and have her own children. She certainly was attractive enough, in her younger days. She showed me an old picture of herself one Sunday afternoon at the General Hospital when I went by her room to visit. She was a “striking woman,” as she herself commented. But it was more than just a striking woman I saw in that faded, seventy-year-old photograph. She was beautiful. Standing on the running board of an old Ford in a long, pink dress with a cream-colored, flapper hat on her head, she reminded me of someone from that old Bonnie and Clyde movie. It was hard to believe the pretty young woman in that photo was her. I probably stared at it too long, and it seemed to make her uneasy that I thought she was so beautiful.

“You were a lovely girl,” I awkwardly told her. When I handed the picture back to Miss Emily, she replaced it in a brown sewing box and slid it into the bottom drawer of the nightstand next to her bed. After she closed the drawer, I somehow knew Miss Emily would never show anyone that photograph of herself, again.

On the day of her funeral, it started raining about eight o’clock that morning. It was to be only a short, graveside service—just like she wanted—with no open casket, and she specifically requested that no flowers be sent. It was the only request of hers I didn’t honor. I couldn’t bear the thought of that precious lady, who had lived and died all alone, being buried without flowers. It just wasn’t right, so I ordered the finest arrangement of yellow roses I could find. I thought the color was appropriate, considering how much she loved her yellow house on Monmouth Avenue, and she always liked roses. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned that sometimes people want things but just don’t know how to ask for them. I do believe Miss Emily would have liked those yellow roses.

It was a simple, Methodist prayer service that lasted only twenty minutes. No one cried during the service. I don’t think Miss Emily would have wanted that. It’s hard to cry for someone you don’t really know. But the old black people there seemed to know her as they passed by her casket after the last prayer. And when Reverend Elton read the quote from Saint Theresa (Miss Emily’s favorite saint), “Let nothing disturb you; let nothing frighten you. Everything passes except God. God alone is sufficient,” all the black people shouted a loud, “Amen!”

But the most intriguing thing of all was that gray-haired stranger who kept staring at the small headstone next to Miss Emily’s grave that read, “Baby Boy, 1942,” and who then stayed after everyone else had left. As we were leaving, I noticed from my car that the old man was crying. He picked a single yellow rose from the arrangement on top of Miss Emily’s bronze casket and then gently placed it on the small grave, in front of the headstone. When my wife and I drove away, I looked back before we left the cemetery. The gentleman was limping away in the rain with his cane.  

Before she died, Miss Emily had already disposed of most of her possessions, but there were two beautiful paintings and an antique rose vase still in her hospital room that she had left to a friend. She had given away all her clothes to a couple of nurses who promised they would take them to the Salvation Army for her, but I doubted that would ever happen. I remember commenting to Miss Emily years ago, when I was still a young lawyer, that a friend had once promised to retain our firm and then sought legal services elsewhere. Emily said, “Don’t put too much stock in other people, David—they’ll just disappoint you.”

As I was about to turn off the light and leave her empty room, I remembered the sewing box of letters in the bottom drawer of the nightstand next to her bed. I also remembered that wonderful old photograph of her leaning against a car on the beach, which she had shown me several years ago. I didn’t know why at the time, but I wanted that picture. I would keep it as a remembrance of this dear lady I had come to love.

I didn’t open the letter box until after I had returned to my office. I don’t know if Miss Emily would have liked my reading her letters, but I think I finally understand her now and why she died alone, though definitely not forgotten. I know I’ll never forget her. How could I?