Random Book Review Roundup- #4

It’s been a while. Ok, it’s been a few months but we’re back and at it with our Random Book Review Roundup! This time, we’re running with a theme. Ok, I admit, I didn’t realize it until I read them but there was a theme in there amongst this offering’s three titles. In this round, family plays a central role in some fashion within all three of our reads. One, family is the people we choose in our life to adventure with. Another, family is the reason for bloodshed and revenge and finally, family is the root of all evil and that which breaks and destroys.

Listed below are the reviews for all three books with links included. All reviews are posted on Amazon and Goodreads if possible. In the case of not yet released titles, the review will be posted when book is available to keep everything flowing smoothly. If you like the reviews, check out the books. You may find something you like. Keep reading, keep writing, and enjoy!

The Pain Eater by Kyle Muntz

The Pain Eater by Kyle Muntz may seem a typical run-of-the-mill horror novel, but readers will find that it goes much deeper as the story develops. At its start, Muntz cleverly places his chess pieces on the board in the form of a family dealing with a recent death while delivering snippets of prose to his readers alerting them of a coming storm and the fear lurking just off-screen. As the veil is lifted with his created family on what is shown to the public and what is kept secret, readers will find that the shifting parameters of a broken unit come with bigger problems, messier issues, and lives forever thrown askew as a result.

Delicately dancing around supernatural elements and depictions of gore, Muntz introduces his key players before subsequently tearing down their built-up walls with growing moments of drama that stem not only from current situations in their lives but also from a past that still haunts them in many ways on vastly different levels. Interactions amongst the characters within The Pain Eater are as important as the oddity of that which Muntz adds into the mix. Dark mingles with light, inner conflict holds hands with emotional freedom, and life silently nods to death forming a mosaic displaying the human condition under the guise of creeping horror.

One-part supernatural and one-part slow-burning family drama, Muntz masterfully intertwines the two allowing his readers to explore the struggles within us all, the private moments in our own heads, and the screaming realities we’re all subjected to throughout life. Also blending elements of sci-fi into his brilliant offering, Muntz has achieved a deeply rewarding read soaked in darkness and misery that builds tension as well as a growing distrust and confusion along the way from his main characters.

Fans of horror will find the superbly teased storytelling direction of Muntz’s work deceiving as it doesn’t follow the typical flow of standard blood-gushing novels. Something tells me from the finely crafted past, present, and train heading towards a cliff feeling within the pages that he wanted it that way from the start. Brooding, powerful, and equally sinister in its delivery, The Pain Eater cuts deep as a shadowy fest of brutal feelings and even darker escapism.  

Preorder Here: https://www.amazon.com/Pain-Eater-Kyle-Muntz/dp/1955904065

Scorned: A Legend of the Carolyngian Age (Legends of the Carolyngian Age Book 4) by Joseph S. Samaniego

In Scorned, Samaniego’s fourth book of his Legends of the Carolyngian Age series, family meets fantasy in a generation hopping read that delivers. With historical references aplenty and enough bloodshed to delight the warriors in us all, Samaniego draws readers into his new offering with heart, hate, and a slew of characters that resonate with us all.

Following Rowena, a child born of both noble lineage and dwarven blood, Samaniego masterfully showcases the family construct and the political barriers preventing her from obtaining her rightful place in the kingdom through his main character’s eyes. Frowned upon for being a bastard child, Samaniego wastes no time putting Rowena through the paces as she is forced to make decisions that not only reshape her future but his entire created world.

Alongside expertly detailed locations, Samaniego focuses on the life and livelihood of his main character and all she experiences while providing brilliant depictions of action, heartbreak, and the fury of a woman scorned across the span of many years. The expertly crafted political framework based on historical nobility is easily digestible while details of war, magic, fantasy species, and weapons added to the mix ensure readers are moved along in the story without being bogged down in the specifics.

At its heart, Scorned reads exactly as it sounds and never waivers in favor of tired mechanics or cliched references. Samaniego stays on track to deliver an epic fantasy that spans lifetimes, something he has professionally proven to give time and time again with his other books. Although the fourth in his series, Scorned can be read independently but readers may find greater enjoyment in catching themselves up to speed with previous installments to experience the richly rewarding depth Samaniego has created. With beautiful maps that aid in his informational weaving of class systems, the shifting tides of nobility, and the struggle one woman endures just to be proven worthy by those that despise her very existence, Scorned is a strong female lead focused thoroughly enjoyable story that is deserving of a read.     

Grab it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09XKVT9P5

Perception Check (The Mages of Velmyra Saga Book 1) by Astrid Knight

Unforgettable geektastic adventure.

Astrid Knight’s first book from The Mages of Velmyra Saga, Perception Check, lets readers know from the first few pages that they are in for an adventure for the ages. Fun, fast, heart-warming, and clever in all the right places, Knight’s fantasy read delivers the goods for lovers of the genre and surprises at every turn with magical realism and role-playing greatness.

At its start, readers are introduced to Violet Spence, a young woman struggling for a normal life after experiencing a supernatural past that still haunts, and one that can be seen as a mystery waiting to be solved, a dilemma on a troubled mind. With the help of friends and companions, all of which are expertly detailed and individually different, Violet may get her wish as she is thrust into a journey that will change the very lives of all involved and one that will tilt reality on its ear in the process.

While the epic quest, or journey, isn’t a new idea in fantasy settings, Knight knocks that trope out of the park with Perception Check after masterfully reshaping the idea with a grand display of finely crafted characters, locations, and floods of the fantastical that will leave many a geek forever smiling. Leaving no stone unturned, Knight explores and touches upon nearly every single part of what works in the fantasy fandom ensuring her readers are not only drawn into her world but love every single second of its delivery.

Nods to team mechanics, chosen weaponry, comic relief, and odd species both deceptively evil and remarkably humorous are speckled throughout that ultimately build a wonderfully decorated foundation that is both enjoyable and blissfully reminiscent of days of card games and cartoons, and nights of table-top dungeon runs and video game controller blisters. Knight gives her readers the good versus evil treatment on a grand scale with this fun and feisty action/adventure jaunt while offering each of us a wink that she knows what we expect, like, and secretly crave from our childhood memories.

Expertly written, Knight showcases her ability to develop characters and push them to their limits in a way that makes her readers feel connected, feel like each of us is represented, and equally part of a wide and colorfully diverse species all with flaws, all with hopes, and all with dreams of a better tomorrow. Though only the first of a series, Perception Check sets the bar high for future installments from Knight. After reading this highly rewarding tale that leaves readers wanting more, something tells me many of us won’t need a roll of the dice to decide to revisit Knight’s world knowing that dazzlement and additional feats of fantasy await. Not to be missed, hits every mark, a great read!   

Jump in here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VYB9ZJ5

Random Book Review Roundup- #3

Welcome back to another random book review roundup! Now that the holiday season is nothing more than a distant sight on our rearview mirrors, it’s time to get back to reading and reviewing some awesome indie and self-pubbed works. My apologies for missing December as things get pretty hectic during those times and my available reading time was nearly non-existent as a result.

This month I’ve listed three great reads all deserving of five stars in their own right. If you’re interested in the works of these talented authors, give them a look and see if anything whets your appetite. In most cases, reviews are posted here, Amazon, and Goodreads. Links are almost always supplied below each submission to author pages or the reviewed work specifically. Read for the love of it and keep writing if that’s your thing, you never know who is reading your work!

Side note- I’m trying to post monthly but may not always be able to what with my own pursuits, but I will try. I wanted to get these reviews up for January before I beta read a book from another awesome author, and its one I’m excited about jumping into! Without further ado, here are the reviews…

In the Time of Standing Stones: A Legend of the Carolyngian Age (Legends of the Carolyngian Age Book 1) by Joseph S Samaniego

Epic and sweeping fantasy adventure.

In the time of Standing Stones, Samaniego’s first book within his Legends of the Carolyngian Age, fantasy adventure takes center stage in this epic offering. With in-depth character customization and expert-level details, Samaniego wastes no time letting his readers know that they are about to embark on an expansive journey of the ages into a vibrantly detailed world with an ensemble cast of heroes and villains that radiates high fantasy and the timeless feel of stories and movies of the past.

While the mode of good versus evil is evident within Samaniego’s work, he takes his readers well beyond the trope with a rich history that includes swords and sorcery, crafted faraway places, myths, legends, and top-rate threats among warriors and kings. As it stands, Book 1 of Legends of the Carolyngian Age, is deeply and finely crafted. It offers a rewarding read-through with enough twists and turns to keep it well-paced and enjoyable throughout from the start of this journey into Samaniego’s world. It is definitely worth the read for fans of Clash of the Titans, Lord of the Rings, Beowulf, and many more.

The love of history, the attention paid to the realms of fantasy, and the finely crafted understanding of mythology are equally evident in Samaniego’s work. Readers enjoying one or all of those areas of interest will be hard-pressed to find another series that expertly weaves all three within its pages.  

Link:  https://www.amazon.com/Joseph-S-Samaniego/e/B078Z3SNQT/

KLS-9 (The Eden Evolution Series Book 1) by Leigh Grissom

Non-stop thrill ride.

From the start of Grissom’s first book of The Eden Evolution Series titled, KLS-9, readers will instantly know that they are in for a treat, even if it comes blood-soaked and angry. Hitting a fast pace right out of the gate, Grissom delivers a twisted pounding tale of shadows and conspiracy, dirty decisions, and the changing dynamic of escaping the past while maneuvering through the future all the while catching readers up to the sizzling backstory already in progress in small digestible snippets. Never letting up, readers are taken on a deadly journey within a world of revenge, psychic powers, greed, the gray area between right and wrong, and good versus evil.

Cleverly crafted characters set the stage in a future-like dystopian world of superpowers, corporate wants, military needs, and the human experience of feasting on the scraps left over. Self-worth and cash value streamline as technology mingles with bounty hunting flair and survival dabbles between nightmares and reality as Grissom’s main character, Kerry Sheridan, struggles to maintain, escape, and understand a past that quickly comes back to haunt her. Joined by a memorable supporting cast, Grissom expertly displays her descriptive talents regarding the locals and locales within Horizon, the fictional city of lost souls, seedy nightlife, and second chances making it feel real and drawing readers into its depths instantly as the dirty travels hand and hand with the clean representing every facet of nearly any society.

With unrelenting action and brief moments of emotional realness, Grissom portrays a strong female lead with moments of brutal truths and honest feelings while showcasing the driving force of a woman pushed too far, stretched too thin, and holding a grudge. Combining science fiction, action, and suspense into Grissom’s first part of her series, KLS-9 is sure to entertain readers craving a devilish mix of all three with its subtle nods to Battle Angel, Blade Runner, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Does not disappoint!

Link : https://www.amazon.com/Leigh-Grissom/e/B075PL5TST/

The Beauty of Decay by Lisa De Castro

Hauntingly beautiful and deceptively complex.

Deeply moving, Castro’s poetry covers the entire human experience more in 24 pages than most books of greater length. At the first read-through, many readers may be taken aback by The Beauty of Decay’s lack of additional pages, additional offerings. It is shortly thereafter that the magic and wonder of skillful exposition by Castro begins its unpacking within our fragile minds as it blossoms into recognition, understanding, and touching interconnected sentiments that resonate within each of us.

The Beauty of Decay does what it is intended to do under Castro’s masterful guidance and that is, enlighten while comparing and contrasting, relate while differing, and finally, caress the soul. Showcasing aspects of death and birth, Castro weaves a poetry offering that appears simple at first glance but tugs at the very fabric of our existence the longer it is left to steep within us. Placing items, views, thoughts, and processes into life as coexisting cycles, as ends, as beginnings in every aspect of the cosmos, The Beauty of Decay is that in every way and will stay in the mind and heart of all who venture among its timely and powerfully depicted pages.    

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Lisa-De-Castro/e/B078KQ4KJC/

Happy Reading,

-KJF

Random Book Review Roundup- #2

It’s the November roundup of recent book reviews! Although I read all the time it seems, I wanted to get this fresh-baked set of reviews out and about before the holiday season descends upon us all with its madness and merriment. All reviews are also included on Amazon and Goodreads while being listed here as well so take a chance, read a new favorite or simply gloat with pride, you deserve it!

I’ve also included the star rating even though it’s not entirely necessary. I find it an antiquated tradition and only opinion but hey, where would we be without a star system determining our satisfaction, or lack thereof, a person’s writing worth? To me, everyone should be sitting at 5 stars just for doing the damn thing, but I digress. I won’t post links as you’re all internet sleuths and can find your way without the hand holding. Without further ado, read on, keep writing, keep creating, keep being you and enjoy!!

Stories for a Storm Filled Night (The Storm Series-The Short Stories) by Alan Scott–4 stars

Scott’s detail to character development takes center stage in this collection of short stories related to his series, The Storm Series. Not having read those previous offerings, Scott details exactly where and when his offered short stories take place within his fantasy world weaving a tapestry of continuity on an expert level. Leaving no stone unturned, readers are treated to closer inspections, darker findings, and greater introspection of his created world and the characters that live there.

Although reading Scott’s Storm Series would increase reader satisfaction and overall understanding of the timeline of events detailed within his collection of short stories, it is not a requirement. Each story offers up enough information and, based on Scott’s assistance with how each story fits into the grand scheme of things, readers will no doubt enjoy the ride of uncovering and learning more about his creations.

Masterfully weaving short stories that display how life, events, and situations can shape us, Scott beautifully shows the aftermath as well perfectly placing these “one-shots” into their respective timeline. A fantastic addition for anyone who has read the Storm Series or plans on it, or for anyone who enjoys in-depth characterization in a short story format that blends flawlessly with larger works and within this offering as well, you cannot go wrong. Good read all around!    

Chainsaw by John Bender –4 stars.

Gives good mullet.

In Chainsaw, Bender delivers a rollercoaster ride of redneck humor and blood-soaked visuals that dives deep into backwoods hilarity while going full-tilt duh in all the right spots. More fun than pass the cousin at a hillbilly reunion, Bender pulls out all the stops and pushes the envelope on toilet jokes, dirt road mentalities, and gory splashes of ineptitude.

At its heart, Chainsaw can be seen as two good ‘ole boys trying to better their positions in life while the powers that be continue to push them down. In a clash between the have and the have nots, greed meets stupidity, and Bender makes it all explode firework-style with displays of vulgarity in all the right spots in this fast-paced comedy horror short read.

Although readers may feel the grisly and crude are over the top, most will find themselves laughing as well as holding back their lunch watching this created train wreck play out within the pages. The characterization, while not as deep as the well that tried to eat Baby Jessica in the late 80s, was well placed and thorough enough that readers can visualize, if not smell what Bender is giving us. There was some head-hopping and odd switches to narration in a couple of spots which can lead to confusion, but readers enjoying Bender’s cruise through the backroads and woods will no doubt easily breeze right past the stumbles.

True to the feel of the first few pages, Chainsaw never deviates from its deliverance of speedy trailer park trash calamity and the trench ass greasiness of bad decisions, bloodshed, and mans’ never-ending quest for money and anything with boobs. It works, even with some flaws. Although a hard three on the star rating, the shock value and moments that had me laugh aloud while reading it tipped it into a 4-star rating due to the pacing and overall enjoyment which, in the end, is what it’s all about. Bender’s work brings with it so many elements that work well together that readers will be more forgiving of any downsides they may find. Funny, gross, crude, horrifying, and rude, it’s a quick jaunt into debauchery on many levels and well worth the price of admission.

It’s Joe Dirt meets the Dukes of Hazard sipping moonshine on a back porch with Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and the Squidbillies while Smokey and the Bandit plays on a dirty old television in a run-down cabin in the same neighborhood as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is an amalgamation of many things and Bender offers as many referenced nods as imaginable during the run of his offering while remaining original and fresh. Much like Aunt Ella-Mae’s potato salad after it sat out for 4 hours in the sun at a family picnic, Chainsaw delivers and stays with you long after the last flush. Good stuff if you’re into it!

Boredom & Bedlam: A Supernatural Comedy Short Story Pairing by Joel Spriggs— 4 stars.

Having not read Over a God’s Dead Body, Spriggs’s first book in his Wrong Gods series, I wasn’t sure what to expect in this short story involving characters Jake and Esmy but in the end, it was well worth the read. Comedy takes center stage as magic and mayhem run amok after boredom decides to stir the pot resulting in hilarity during this short read.

Consisting of two separate quick tales, Spriggs expertly crafts a fun romp in two completely different scenarios involving his characters that give readers a taste of magical life outside his main series while highlighting how power can sometimes cause more problems than solve. An enjoyable zippy read that is sure to entice those new to Spriggs’s series as well as delight readers of the first book with a one-shot offering that explores his characters in a new light and continues the fun he has brilliantly created.   

Unseen by Rebecca R. Pierce— 5 Stars

A deceptively short read that brings creepy depth.

Pierce does more with the seventeen pages of Unseen than most could ever imagine in this short read horror offering. Weaving the past and present in a smoky haze of confusion, Pierce creates a world of shadowy mystery that takes readers on a slow walk into terror while leaving subtle hints at her true intentions until readers have arrived at their final destination. Masterfully bringing growing tension, Pierce delivers her horror short free of extensive amounts of gore choosing to offer readers a more classic approach with just enough blood to get the job done which blends beautifully with her created vibe. Monsters come in all shapes and sizes and, while Pierce certainly showcases this thought, it’s the cleverly detailed scenes, overall mood, and sadistically hidden truths that are revealed that give Unseen its final punch that will haunt many a reader for days.

If you’ve managed to read this far, congratulation and much love. Also, I like cookies and have a sweet gummy fetish if you’re wondering what I like for the holidays. *winkwink* Lastly, thank you to the awesomely talented authors I read from this month and I look forward to not only future work from you all but from the entire writing community.

–KJF

Random Book Review Roundup- #1

I like to read. I do, when I’m not writing. Many times, especially in the past, I would read a work by another indie author or self-published writer and leave a huge dissertation in review form on Goodreads and Amazon as well on here on my blog. I loved doing it, I enjoyed detailing how I felt, the read, the depth, the work, and the creativity of fellow writers for all to see. It also took quite a bit of time away from my own goals and pursuits. Now, things have changed.

While I do love leaving long reviews, it ends up being less than required, or even feasible when it comes to overall algorithms or whether or not it equates to a sale. Authors love to see a review, two sentences are perfect, sometimes more, sometimes less. I’m like a slot machine when it comes to words. For a quarter, you may get more, you may get less. Overall, I want you to know I’ve read your work. I want others to know I liked it or didn’t without the long-drawn-out literary critiques. You get to see it, it will still make you feel a certain way, but this route ends up being less time-intrusive for me and still comes to the same conclusion. You rock, you created something awesome, and now others will know too. Give yourself pats, give yourself the hugs. You’ve earned it.

In the future, I will try to do a “roundup” of a few of the books I’ve read over the past couple of weeks and place their reviews in the blog post as well as leaving them on Amazon and Goodreads. You get the stars, I get to clean out my TBR pile without outlining and producing a ten-page review. More people get read, more writers get recognition. You may find your book next to another genre in the roundup, it’s simply the placement of how I read them or however they loaded up when I put them in the blog after reading. No worries. You may have questions. I have answers and respond well to savory, sweet, and salty in equal measure. *wink wink*

Listed below are the reviews as seen on Amazon and Goodreads. If you find yourself interested give these authors a chance and pick up their works, you won’t be disappointed and you may ever find a new favorite. No pressure. Much love and keep writing, keep reading!!

The Valley by Mike Salt—

A stress-relieving trip to a cabin with friends to enjoy the fresh air among the great outdoors quickly spirals into a supernatural hellscape under the devilish mastery of Salt’s writing proving that sometimes getting away from it all can kill in the most sinister ways. Bringing memorable characters to life and pushing them into deadly situations among a shifting landscape of terror is par for the course in The Valley.

As the chills ramp up so does the danger as Salt’s characters are hurtled into a ghostly mind-bending mystery that slinks from the shadows and brings with it unrelenting fear. Questions arrive with answers as death eagerly awaits around every twisting corner and turn. Although not focusing entirely on one character’s experience, Salt manages multiple viewpoints and experiences with skill choosing to push his readers into the heart, soul, and panicked decisions of those we can affectionately call, his victims. In spots, the quick cutaways to other characters could have felt bumpy, but Salt easily manages to quickly corral any possible confusion.

Forests and valleys can be dangerous places even for experienced hikers and nature lovers, under Salt’s direction it becomes even more so in this enjoyable fast-paced supernatural horror read.

Rain on a Tin Roof: A Romance Novel by Sandra A. Sigfusson—

Sigfusson delicately dances through Rain on a Tin Roof with skillful flourishes that promise new readers something enjoyable while providing enough standards within to please regular fans of the genre. With the characters of Virginia and Luke, Sigfusson demonstrates her ability to provide well-developed characters that are easily relatable, realistic, and in-tune with their emotions and fallible natures.

Hinting at fate and instant attraction, Sigfusson’s control of her world and that of her character’s heartfelt choices and tough decisions will no doubt have readers enjoying and connecting with her characters throughout. Every moment a chance, a sliding door to our future and one that we are led through and into with gentle touches and a guiding hand.

With enough romance to book a spot on the Hallmark channel and enough steam to fill an evening on HBO without going full smut, Sigfusson creates a realistic world where wants, desires, and the pull of temptation meet life’s daily grind. Something for every reader, be it new to the genre or a regular, Rain on a Tin Roof is a winner and hits every note.

Patrick F. Johnson’s Cheap Book: Aliens Versus Vampires Now With Mermaids by Patrick F. Johnson—

Even if the title clearly details what readers can expect within, Johnson delivers even more with this sci-fi, horror, fantasy mash-up novella. Packing humor, horror, thrills, spills, and even a little pew-pew into this shorter work, Johnson takes readers on a deftly created fast-paced ride through a tightly focused plot with fun and innovative characters that are relatable in some aspects and completely off the wall in others. Great read, instantly memorable, and desperately screaming for a sequel, Johnson’s “Cheap Book” is a steal!

The Flash Fiction Fridays Project: 2020 Anthology by Emily Larkins—

Well written, this anthology is a heartwarming experience that centers on inner and outer conflicts and the emotions that orbit our everyday lives. Each offering within Larkins’s collection is a stand-alone experience that brings with it memorable characters and situations that move the spirit and speak volumes of the human condition, the struggles, the love, and the inevitable passing of time. Enjoyable, heartfelt, truthful.

—KJF

Coming around again.

It’s been a minute. It’s been nearly 2 years of head-scratching and uncertainty about where, what, and how the hell I was doing. I’m sitting here still shaking my head about how I started this writing journey way back in 2017 with the first book of The Keeper Chronicles. Through the years I grew, learned how to write better, handle the self-publishing requirements, navigate cover design, and managed some minor advertising. It’s been a ride, it’s been a learning experience.

I was all gung-ho in 2020 having penned three novellas on my new superhero series, The AOA or The Agents of Ardenwood. I had finished three rough drafts in 2019 after completing Frayed Endings closing the book on The Keeper Chronicles. I was excited going in this direction as it not only focused on superheroes but centered on Becca Byers, the plucky protagonist with a feisty side. A new experience, a different take on superheroes for me.

I was thrilled to introduce her alongside so many others within Ardenwood, the fictional town where it all shakes down. It had my heart, my interest, my desire to steamroll her story. The fire was lit, the potential was there, and I was ready to burn. I got all three novellas ready to roll and started the process of rapid-fire publishing. The game plan, one new novella in the series per month. I knew I could handle it, I was already three months ahead. The next one, Episode 3 didn’t need to hit until April 2020 so I got cocky taking an abundance of pride in my accomplishments. I got busy, I got it partially done. Then, just like the world outside my window, Covid slammed on the brakes and rocked my universe to the core.

Everything changed, life altered. Working from home was difficult, finding writing time when you’re in the same room with your husband doing the same thing was hell on both of us. As the days lingered on and a pandemic systematically reconfigured our entire lifestyles, writing fell to the wayside for me. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t daydream, I couldn’t dialogue to myself to work on scenes. It was everything I had worked for, gone. We were healthy, we stayed safe but it came with a cost as writing is never easy especially when you can’t get around to it.

During that year and a half, I spent a great deal of time going over The Keeper Chronicles. I edited, I fixed even more, I deliberately cut with a wide swath what didn’t work, what didn’t add or increase the value of the work. It was something I could do that didn’t require quiet, something I could pick at until I was happy with it. I knew better, I did better. I slimmed all five books down, made them easier to digest, and managed to squeeze them into one collection, one paperback edition to add to the ebook offerings. It came out like a college textbook, size, and girth-wise, but I was proud, and still not entirely back on track.

2021 rolled around, the shaky new world we wandered into came with hints of vaccines, opportunities. Safely, we ventured back into cohabitation, if only by dipping pinky toes into society when and where we could without going overboard. The hubs went back to work and, after days of depression for him being gone having had a hip pal every minute of the day for nearly 2 years, I sat down and promised myself to start writing again. I told myself to do something, anything and I did.

The words, much like a splinter buried deep in tender skin, were a pain to pull free. Honestly, if I managed 10 words a day, it was a miracle. Speaking of miracles, it got better, more words flowed, the drive trickled back, energy started to light the dusty cobwebbed-covered lights inside. I learned to dance around the slow days, embrace the busier ones, and put more words down than I even thought possible. Soon, I marveled at having finished The AOA, Episode 3. I sent it out into the world, the longest incubation period of any work I have ever done and a heftier birth than previous ones within the series. Still, I was proud, a father that found a way and another book that had found feet and wandered into retail.

I think about the struggle and laugh, I smile about it, I keep it sitting idly in the back of my head. We all struggle as writers, some more than ever, some for many different reasons, but struggle we do. Finding mojo takes time, sometimes the muse refuses to come out of hiding. Sometimes she’s a whisper of a sentence, sometimes a broken dam and a subsequent flood. She’s a fickle pickle, always has been, always will be but if you give some love, take baby steps, she’ll come around again. She’s like an old carousel slowly turning in an abandoned park, the faintest sound of music in the background under flickering lights. Everyone gets a ride eventually if they find their way there, sometimes you just have to wait, buy a ticket, enjoy the show. Clap for the others, carry on for yourself.

I’m happy with the ways turned out, I would never want to do it over again. Now, as I sit and smile after having released Episode 4 of the AOA into the wilds of book retail hell and having successfully plotted somewhat and outlined both Episodes 5 and 6 to efficiently end Season 1, I’m proud of myself, proud of my achievements. I’m glad I’ve been allowed this opportunity as we’ve all seen and learned that nothing is promised, not a single day is given, and that every day should find us learning, growing, loving, laughing, and, on those odd days when our muse decides to play along, writing. Much love.

Below, the covers of both Ep. 3 and 4 as done by Thebookkhaleesi.com. I wanted a simple cover and multiple colors. She’s amazing and I could not be happier. Check her out if you’re in the market for a cover and then check out my work at https://www.amazon.com/Kester-James-Finley/e/B073YG5YCQ