Monday, November 29, 2021

A Moment in Time by Martin Dukes

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Martin Dukes will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

I was growing up in the sixties and seventies and the first book I can remember being totally bowled over by was The Hobbit. This book was my initiation into Tolkien’s amazing universe and it wasn’t long before I had first laid my hand on The Fellowship of the Ring, in the school library. This was by far the most adult book I’d read up until then and I felt very grown-up taking it to the desk and getting it checked out. When I got home and started reading it I found myself completely entranced by the world of Middle Earth, the wonderful depth and detail of it. There’s an large area of hills and open woodland close to where I lived then and my equally Tolkien obsessed friends would roam these woods pretending to be elves or otherwise acting out scenes from the books. I was always a big reader but Lord of the Rings was the first book that really captured my imagination. In addition, it made me want to create worlds of my own and give names to all its features and places. My school exercise books used to contain, in the back pages, little sketch drawings of islands with rivers, mountains and cities. Geography was amongst my favorite lessons because I learned to places such features in a geographically convincing manner.

What would you write in a letter to your teen self?

I would say ‘Hey, chill out! You’ve got a tricky few years ahead, but it’ll all work out in the end. Being hilariously bad at sport may seem embarrassing to you now, but it really doesn’t matter in the big picture. Be kind to your mom and dad. I know it seems like they just want to ruin your life and put a stop to your attempts to be like the cool kids, but actually they were once where you are now, and they have your best interests at heart. If they don’t want you to go to that party you’re desperate to go to, it’s because they know that kid’s parents, they know that neighbourhood and they’re anxious about you. They’re allowed to be. They love you. One day, when you’re a parent, you’ll get it too. So knuckle down to your work and appreciate the friends you do have, rather than trying to be like those who seem to have that easy popularity and that way with the girls. It’ll all come together in time. Oh, and that daydreaming thing you do, that your teachers are constantly beefing about. Don’t listen to them. That daydreaming thing is your essential preparation for what you’re going to do later in life. You’re going to be a writer.’

Favorite class in high school. Why?

I loved English and History but I guess my favorite class was Art. Drawing was something that always came easy to me and I think most people derive enjoyment from what they can do well. In addition, my childish attempts at drawing cartoons and painting pictures always won me the praise of proud parents and brought me delighted blushes as they showed my lurid masterpieces to friends and relatives. As I was growing up, I found my Art lessons to be amongst the most fulfilling. Imagine my distress when, at the age of fourteen, I found that my school’s subject option scheme obliged me to choose between Biology and Art. Naturally, my parents, who still nurtured hopes that I might grow up to be a scientist, insisted that I choose Biology over Art. Instead, I was obliged to study Woodwork as a practical subject, a subject I despised and for which I had precisely zero aptitude. My woodwork teacher, soon despaired of my ability with the saw and the chisel. Although my homework drawings of tools were of the most exemplary standard, my attempt to make a yacht resulted in hilarious failure and I was eventually allowed to sit in the woodstore with a book. I never gave up on my Art, though. My favorite teacher was the Art mistress and I used to go and spend time in her studio at lunchtimes and after school. I eventually went to study Art at college, having turned up to interview with no official qualifications at all but a folder full of work I had made in my own time. I’m glad I never gave up, because I ended up teaching Art and Graphic Design for thirty-eight years and apart from writing, (and my wife!) it’s been the love of my life.

You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?

I live on the edge of an area of urban sprawl, with some lovely open fields nearby, that are constantly mooted as sites for building new housing. They’re wonderful open spaces, that people use to walk their dogs and to take their children to learn a little about nature. If I had a million dollars to hand, I would buy those fields and establish a trust to keep them in public ownership for all time. I’d establish a mix of different habitats, ranging from woodland to heathland, have a big pool dug and make meadows for butterflies and dragonflies. I’d surround the place with a nice high fence to keep out people with motorbikes and four-wheel drive vehicles, who might want to churn it all up. In addition, I’d put up information displays at the entrances, so that people can learn about all the insects, birds and animal species that live there. I’d make it a place of quiet and rest for people to go when they want to get away from the city and find peace in nature.

summer vacation.

I’m not one for lying about on beaches, even with a book! Likewise, I don’t want to spend my holidays abseiling, kayaking or engaging in other energetic activities. I am not really a physical being at all and treat my body pretty much as a conveyance for my head. Instead, I would wish to visit Italy, dividing my time between historic cities, with lots of museums/galleries to explore, or quiet, off the beaten path villages and rural towns, where I can indulge my passion for history and archaeology. I have a particular interest in Classical History as well as Renaissance Art, which I used to teach at school. For many years I guided tours to Florence, Venice and Rome, and it is always a great pleasure to return to those familiar places. My ideal day would consist of exploring an Italian hill town, looking at churches and local galleries, followed by a gentle walk in the countryside and an evening with good company, good food, good wine and a good book. Perfection!

What superpower would you love to have? Why?

I’d love to be able to fly. I’m sure this must be a very common daydream and must have been as far back as the dawn of human existence. I can imagine the caveman looking up from his misdirected spear throw and envying the startled bird its swift flight into the air. In a way, given the rapid progress of science in recent centuries, it seems odd that our race was entirely earth-bound until the development of hot air balloons in the eighteenth century. But that, and later developments, relied on advances in technology. What I would like to be able to do, is launch myself into the air and soar and zoom simply through the power of my mind over the elements, using my body and my arms only to guide myself more aerodynamically through the skies. I’ve seen extraordinarily brave and daring people wearing flight-suits, jumping off mountain precipices and flying is such a way, although their trajectory is necessarily always downward. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman, surely had it right in singling out this ancient human desire, when making this one of his prime attributes.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

I always wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Not that I really feel completely grown up, even now, as a sixty-two year old! If we mean the attainment of mental and physical maturity, then I would admit to have achieved only one of those. In some ways, I still feel like a child in an adult’s body, and that’s something that I cherish. I would hate to lose the wide-eyed wonder of the child, when gazing out at the world, or the breadth of imagination that accompanies it. Picasso said ‘At the age of sixteen I could draw like Raphael; I spent the rest of my life trying to draw like a child.’ This open-minded way of engaging with the world is what I have tried to retain throughout my life. I always enjoyed the potential of words for painting mental pictures and the potential of words, as of music, in creating beautiful patterns of sound. In addition, as a particularly dreamy child, I always wanted to permanently fix in place the content of my imagination. Writing gives us the opportunity to do that, and to use words to paint pictures that each reader will see differently. Naturally, the desire that others should read your work, is part of this urge. I doubt there are many writers who are content to keep their work un-shared in a desk drawer. I want people to share and to enjoy what I have written.

do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

I like writing about teenagers. My whole professional career has involved working with this age group, and so I think I have a good instinctive insight into the teenage mind. For this reason, I believe that I can write convincing teenagers. In addition, I have vivid recollections of that period of my own life. It’s a most interesting part of a anyone’s life, this extraordinary transition from the world of the child to that of the adult, beset with perplexing physical changes and the attendant emotional challenges that hormone supercharge can bring. It’s a rich field for literary exploration, as legions of writers have discovered. In addition, I think there are places you can go in this genre that may be denied to those writing exclusively for adults. For teenagers, the childhood world of myths and fairy-tales remains close at hand. Re-clothing those worlds and reinterpreting them in more adult contexts gives tremendous scope for imaginative exploration.

Alex Trueman has just turned fifteen. He's a typical teenager, a bit spotty, a bit nerdy and he's not exactly popular at school, not being one of the 'cool' kids. His tendency to day-dream doesn't exactly help him to be cool. either! But being cool isn't as good as the talent Alex discovers he has - stopping time.

Yes that's right. Stopping time!

Well, for everyone except Alex, that is, who finds that whilst everyone else is caught in a moment in time, he is able to carry on as normal. Maybe not quite 'normal', after all, he's able to stop time, and whilst that's not exactly as good as a certain 'boy wizard', it's pretty close!

The only trouble is that reality for Alex isn't always what is seems, and being plunged into an alternative can be a bit tricky, not to mention the fact that he makes an enemy almost as soon as he arrives, which tends to cause a problem.

Will Alex Trueman, nerdy daydreamer, be able to return to reality or will he be stuck forever in his alternative? Is a moment in time enough for Alex to discover the superhero he needs is probably himself?

A Moment in Time is the debut novel of author Martin Dukes, and is the first in a series of Alex Trueman Chronicles, which take the reader, along with Alex, into a bedazzling world of time travel, alternative reality and flying sea creatures. His further adventures include the past, possibly the future and definitely a fight to save reality itself.

Read an Excerpt

“What on earth are you doing?” rang Alex’s mum’s voice from behind him, and then “Oh!” as she took in the scene of the accident. The two girls were led past Alex. He gaped. There was something so familiar about that girl, and as she passed their eyes met. There were tears in hers – anguish, shock – and then as she passed by a glimmer of recognition. Alex almost called out, but what was there to say? Then she was gone, her head turned away once more as the crowd swallowed her up. His mum was scolding him, grabbing at his arm, but Alex hardly heard. He remained frozen, watching until the two girls vanished inside the police station. Then he allowed himself to be drawn away back towards the High Street, letting his mum’s complaints wash over him.

“… out of your pocket money,” she was saying. “Great clumsy clot. And running off like that. What on earth did you think you were doing?”

A stranger appeared at Alex’s side, a young man with a struggling goatee beard and a kindly face. He wore an ill-fitting suit. Before Alex could react, the stranger had taken his hand and pressed something into it. Alex glanced down. It was a page torn from a jotter with a name and a telephone number scrawled upon it. Alex looked up.

“Come on,” called his mum impatiently from up ahead.

But the young man had gone. Alex glanced wildly up and down the street. He looked at the paper again. ‘Kelly’ was the name.

About the Author: I’ve always been a writer. It’s not a choice. It’s a compulsion, and I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. Lots of childish scribbles in notebooks, lots of rejection slips from publishers and agents testify to a craft long in the making. In addition, it has proved necessary to earn a living by other means whilst those vital skills mature. For thirty-eight years I taught Art and Graphic Design, thirty-seven of them in a wonderful independent girls’ school in Birmingham, UK. For much of the latter part of this career I was Head of Department, which gave me the opportunity to place my own stamp on Art education there, sharing with the pupils there my own love of Art and the History of Art. Over a decade I was able to lead annual visits to Florence, Venice and Rome (some of my favourite places on the planet) as destinations on my Renaissance Tour. These visits created memories that I shall cherish for the rest of my life.

I love history in general, reading history as much as I read fiction. I have a particular interest in the ancient world but I am also fascinated with medieval times and with European history in general. This interest informs my own writing to the extent that human relationships and motivations are a constant throughout the millennia, and there is scarcely a story that could be conceived of that has not already played itself out in some historical context. There is much to learn from observing and understanding such things, much that can be usefully applied to my own work.

Teaching tends to be a rather time-consuming activity. Since retiring, I have been able to devote much more of my time to writing, and being taken on by the brilliant Jane Murray of Provoco Publishing has meant that I am finally able to bring my work to the reading public’s attention. I like to think that my ideas are original and that they do not readily fall into existing tropes and categories.

I am not a particularly physical being. I was always terrible at sport and have rather poor physical coordination (as though my body were organised by a committee rather than a single guiding intelligence!). I tend to treat my body as a conveyance for my head, which is where I really dwell. My writing typically derives from dreams. There is a sweet spot between sleeping and waking which is where my ideas originate. I always develop my stories there. When I am writing it feels as though the content of my dreams becomes real through the agency of my fingers on the keyboard. I love the English language, the rich majesty of its vocabulary and its rhythmic possibilities. My arrival at this stage could hardly be describes as precocious. However, at the age of sixty-two, I feel that I have arrived at a place where I can create work of value that others may appreciate and enjoy.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Just a Girl in the Whirl by Annie Wood

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Annie Wood will be awarding a $40 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

It kind of just happened naturally. I wrote two other books, rom coms, Dandy Day and A Quantum Love Adventure and it turned out that a lot of my readers were teens and young adults. I’m also a screenwriter and playwright who often writes coming-of-age stories, which is exactly what young adult and new adult is in the book world. It just feels natural to me. I started writing book versions of my screenplays.

And even though, I am officially very much a full fledge adult, the way I think now, about myself and the world, hasn’t changed much from when I was a kid and a teenager.

I recently read in the book “The Power of Neurodiversity,” about the concept of neoteny, which is Latin for “holding youth.” It’s when you retain childlike quality into your later life. I have that. I definitely have that. So did my mom. Hey, maybe it runs in the family. I know that “childlike” can be taken in a negative way but I see it as a positive way of holding on to the newness, always asking questions, staying open and appreciating the wonder around you.

Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his/her locker – what will we see inside?

Lauren has stacks and stacks of journals full of her poetry and loose leaf papers that she scribbled her ideas on. She has a purple pencil case full of her favorite pens and pencils, each one carefully chosen for their smoothness and darkness. There’s three books of poetry by e.e. cummings and a copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and on the inside door is an enamel sticker of a vintage typewriter with the words, Just Write It Out! There’s a Dora the Explorer key chain that her baby sister gave her for good luck and a photo of the whole family having a picnic in their backyard back when they were all together and happy.

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Little Prince and Where the Sidewalk Ends. I love stories about a young person learning life’s lessons. But I like them told in a light hearted and interesting ways. And as far as Where the Sidewalk Ends - that’s told by funny poems and drawings by Shel Silverstein.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

An actor. Always. The story goes, when I was three years old I put my hands on the TV and announced, “I’m going to be on the TV!” Or maybe i said “in” the TV. I can’t remember. But I’ve just always known that being part of storytelling is where it was at for me. A writer is something I’ve always been. My dad is a playwright. I wrote my first short story when I was around 7 years old. It was about a Leprechaun and a pot of gold. And I still can’t spell leprechaun. Spell check can though. I’m still an actor as well as a writer and a visual artist. I just want to tell stories in all the ways that I can.

What reality show would you love to be on? Why?

I was the host of a dating show in the 90s (BZZZ!) so I think I’d like to host another dating show. I love love.

Favorite TV show from your childhood?

Soooooo many! I love TV! Okay, here’s what pops into mind, Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley, Fantasy Island, Schoolhouse Rock and Free to be You and Me. I realize most of your readers haven’t heard of these, that’s okay. They live on! I recommend if you’re going to YouTube any of them that it’s Free to be You and Me. I was a tiny toddler when it first aired but then watched when it reran. I feel like it helped shape who I am.

What four literary characters would you most like to have over for dinner?

Willy Wonka, Mary Poppins, Glinda the Good Witch and Winnie-the-Pooh

Love and Good Vibes,
Annie Wood

A 17 year old girl is overwhelmed with responsibilities trying to keep her messy family together. Everything spins out of control when her addict actor dad who bailed on the family three years ago leaving her with her lovable but bi-polar mom and her two little sisters, comes back into town and wants to reconnect.

Writing poems is her only escape. Just a girl in the is about family, forgiveness, and having enough courage to live your own life, your own way.

Read an Excerpt

“I never know what to say to her.” Matty complains.

“You don’t need to say anything. Just your presence is enough.”

I put Sara’s old baby monitor in Mom’s room so I can hear Matty enter. I imagine Mom is watching TV with it turned off again.

“This is my favorite part.” Mom says.

Matty doesn’t say anything. She’s probably just staring at her. Matty often just stares at her.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Mom says.

After a moment, Matty says, “Did you know that Americans watch two hundred and fifty billion hours of television a year?”

I can hear Mom applauding and then saying softly, “I love you so much, Matty.”

Matty says nothing in response. I could almost hear her heart break into a million little pieces, then I heard footsteps, and then the door closing. Matty comes zooming down the stairs. She pauses and looks out the front window. “Grandma Gayle is here.”

Grandma Gayle is Dad’s mom and when she knocks on the door, it means one thing and one thing only: it’s payday.

I open the door. She stands there, studying me. I know I look like a mess with my wild, unbrushed hair and olive oil stained t-shirt. I’m the polar opposite of this woman who stands before me. Gayle is tall, super thin, and doesn’t look like anybody’s grandma. Not at all. She speaks abruptly, using as few words as possible so she can get to the point quickly. I’m pretty sure she uses less words than the most mortals.

About the Author:
Annie Wood is an Israeli-American, Hollywood native, and a lifelong actress and writer. The web series she created, wrote and stars in, Karma’s a Bitch, was Best of the Web on Virgin America.

Wood was part of the NBC DIVERSITY SHOWCASE with her comedic scene, That’s How They Get You. She’s written 100s of scenes for actors that have been used by Emmy Award-winning TV director, Mary Lou Belli in her UCLA course and casting director, Jeremey Gordon in workshops all around town.

As an author, she has three books out: Dandy Day, Just a Theory: a quantum love adventure and her first YA novel, Just a Girl in the Whirl (Speaking Volumes Publishing)

Annie’s also an Internationally exhibited mixed-media artist, a produced playwright, and was the third female solo dating game show host in the history of television with the nationally syndicated show, BZZZ! that she also co-produced. (Which just re-ran in 2020 on BUZZRTV!)

Annie writes and creates art daily.

She also runs the Twitter account for the Women of the Writers Guild West Follow us here —> @WoWGAW
She is part of the Middle Eastern Committee at WGA and a Dramatist Guild Member and an Authors Guild Member

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Monday, November 22, 2021

Spell Sweeper by Lee Edward Födi

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lee Edward Födi will be awarding a Spell Sweeper prize pack: Hand-made miniature broom, hand-made magical creature egg, spell bottle, and bookmarks to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

There's nothing magical about wizard school
. . . at least, not for Cara Moone.

Most wizard kids spend their days practicing spells and wielding wands, but Cara? She’s on the fast track to becoming a MOP (a.k.a. Magical Occurrence Purger). You see, when a real wizard casts a spell, it leaves behind a residue called spell dust—which, if not disposed of properly, can cause absolute chaos in the nonmagical world. It’s a MOP’s job to clean up the mess.

And no one makes more of a mess than Harlee Wu. Believed to be the Chosen One, destined to save the magical world, Harlee makes magic look easy. Which makes her Cara’s sworn nemesis. Or she would be, if she even knew Cara existed.

Then one of Harlee’s spells leaves something downright dangerous behind it: a rift in the fabric of magic itself. And when more rifts start to appear around the school, all in places Harlee has recently used magic, Cara is pretty sure the so-called “Chosen One” isn’t going to save the world. She’s going to destroy it.

It will take more than magic to clean up a mess this big. Fortunately, messes are kind of Cara’s thing.

Read an Excerpt

How magic works
(and why we have to clean it up)

* * *

In books and movies, wizards stroll around, flicking their wands, turning people into toads or zapping recalcitrant dragons into submission. In reality, it’s not that simple.

Magic is messy.

It’s like when you squeeze toothpaste onto your toothbrush—there’s always a bit that ends up on your brush handle, the counter, or dripping down your chin. Magic works the same way.

The first thing you learn in wizard school is that there is a Field of Magical Matter. When wizards want to perform a spell (or, if you want to get all official about it, a Magical Occurrence), they have to access the Field. Basically, they have to squeeze a giant magical toothpaste tube. And, like I said, it’s messy, always leaving something behind. We usually refer to it as spell dust, but it’s essentially leftover enchanted residue. How much depends on the Magical Occurrence. A wizard utters a simple spell? You just circle your broom around her feet and go for lunch. Someone magically relocates, let’s say for the sake of argument, a giant statue of the school’s founder? You better strap on your full spell sweeper kit because it’s going to be a loooong day.

But you do need to strap on the kit, because spell dust is definitely not the sort of thing you want to leave sitting around for very long. It causes ALL sorts of problems.

About the Author:
Lee Edward Födi is an author, illustrator, and specialized arts educator—or, as he likes to think of himself, a daydreaming expert. He is the author of several books for children, including The Secret of Zoone and the Kendra Kandlestar series. He is a co-founder of the Creative Writing for Children Society (CWC), a not-for-profit program that helps kids write their own books. He has the joy of leading workshops for kids in Canada, the US, Korea, China, Thailand, and other places here and there. Lee lives in Vancouver, where he shares a creative life with his wife Marcie and son Hiro.


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Ethan's STEM Adventures by Louis J. Desforges

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Louis J. Desforges will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

Telling stories is an excellent way to inspire children. Stories provide children with a view into new and exciting world of characters, places, cultures, and traditions.

Storytelling enhances creativity, inspires curiosity, and broadens a child’s immigration – making them more open to new ideas and concepts while teaching them about life, themselves, and others.

Sadly, children along all dimensions of diversity rarely see themselves represented in the characters of the books that they read.

My purpose is to be intentional about creating more diverse, equitable and inclusive stories that will inspire and cement deep within a child’s framework the confidence to achieve their dreams, regardless of their prevailing circumstances. “I see me, therefore I can be”

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

I was really captivated by the Hardy Boys and later by Nancy Drew and their adventures. I’ve always been a very curious person; as a young person growing up, I was intrigued by the enigmatic, the mythical – so for most of my young adult life, I lived a life of adventure vicariously through the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.

What superpower would you love to have? Why?

Great question –This is something I still think about as an adult – I would love the ability to teleport; having the ability to teleport to amazing vacation spots at a whim – who wouldn’t want to skip the lines at the airport, spending hours traveling or commuting. I can have my morning café in Paris, leisurely lunch in Italy, and after work, have a drink at any local pub anywhere around the world and still be home in time for dinner!

Favorite TV show from your childhood?

That’s a really tough question – and it depends on the time frame – and whether the show was an animated series or not. I would say that my favorite of all time category is 21 Jump street with Johnny Depp; runner up would be the A-Team. For animated series, hands down it would be all time classic - Thunder Cats. I was literally heartbroken for years when it ended…literally…till tis day I can recall the deep sadness when I tuned in at the regular scheduled time and nothing – no warning, just gone.

What would you write in a letter to your teen self?

Without a doubt, I would write to my teen self to celebrate his difference – I would tell him that all the things that made him different would later become his superpower in adulthood.

Like the infinite-shade of colors, the richness of life is enhanced by our natural inclination, as creative beings, to hold distinct perspectives on just about any subject. Collectively, however, I believe we all appreciate the profound significance of all the things that influenced and molded us from an early age—the moments and events that are weaved intricately into our memories.

Who amongst us cannot recall a story, no matter what artistic form used to bring it to life: a book, a show, a play, a comic, a song, a movie, or even a real-life character (that family member, teacher, coach, or friend) who shaped the lens with which we view the world then, now, and always.

For this very reason, I believe children should see themselves represented in all areas of human endeavors, cementing deep within their framework the possibilities that await, regardless of prevailing circumstances.

My hope is to bridge the diversity gap in STEM by creating excitement around Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math through diverse representation.

"I see me, therefore I can be."

So it remains, like the infinite shades of color, the richness of life is enhanced by the stories and experiences that holds us. -Louis J. Desforges

Read an Excerpt

As far as the eye can see
I wonder what adventures wait for me!
Summer, spring, winter, and fall
I can’t help wonder about it all
Science is the way we see
What was, what is, and what can be
Earth Science, Life Science, Social Science…Whew!
Physical Science and formal Science too!
All the ways to tell the story of me and you
And everything in between
That can or can’t be seen
I can be a
Biologist…Meteorologist…Or Zoologist
I can be an Astronomer, Geographer, or Oceanographer…
Whichever I prefer!

About the AuthorHaving endless curiosity, Louis has always been enthralled by the inner workings of everything around him.

With a natural and insatiable drive to build, explore, and understand, one of his fondest childhood memories is harvesting toasters, microwaves, TVs, and other discarded electronics in his Brooklyn neighborhood so he could take apart and rebuild them, or scavenge parts to build his own remote-controlled cars or planes.

He is the first to admit that nothing ever worked as intended, or at all, for that matter, but that never really mattered to him. As long as he was dissecting, constructing, exploring and learning, his cup was always full.

Today, his tinkering looks very different. Louis spends countless hours building and rebuilding Lego sets with his four-year-old son.

With any free time left after work and family life (usually late at night), you can find Louis in his workshop (any available free space with a flat surface) writing, painting, sculpting or toiling over his photography; nonetheless, his deep love for STEM remains, and at its core feeds his endless curiosity and desire to understand the inner workings of everything.



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Monday, November 15, 2021

Summer Storms by Thomas Grant Bruso

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Thomas Grant Bruso will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Sixteen-year-old Earl Layman is going stir-crazy. Secluded with the flu inside the four walls of his home and only the escape of his video games to help him through, Earl is struggling to keep his sanity.

That is until he notices the boy next door, seventeen-year-old Rex Chambers, raking leaves in the adjacent yard.

Earl’s summer is about to change. Before another torrential rainstorm hits the small upstate New York town of Betham County, they meet during an awkward cell phone exchange. As they start to connect through occasional texts, Earl and Rex enter the throes of adolescent lust.

In the early stages of forging a lasting connection, their family situations threaten to destroy all they are working for.

Read an Excerpt

Now, on this morning in early May, Earl’s thoughts returned to his past. He stared at the photos wedged beneath the glossy plastic sheets of film in the photo album.

He took a breath as he turned through pages of smiling faces—his family members in various pictures. He smiled back, deep in thought, tears falling and blotting the top of the album.

A rattling of glass bottles jarred his concentration, pulling him out of his momentary trance. He set the photo album on his bed and went to the window, gazing out into another sweltering day. Though gray clouds buckled beneath a darkening May sky that promised another rainstorm, the air was thick like clam chowder.

He was at home, sick from school for the third day this week, if his fever didn’t break. Earl had been bedridden with nowhere to go. He checked his cell phone for messages—from anybody. He missed human contact from his class friends, especially his best friend, Andy Gelman.

Traffic hummed along on the main artery of Betham County, a street over, and Earl caught a glimpse of a woman walking her dog. A young bicyclist pedaled to class. And the boy next door, Rex Chambers, on whom Earl had a small crush, bagged recycling for weekly pickup. Rex looked up at him, waved, and smiled. “Mornin’.” He placed the recycling bin by the side of the street and ambled to the fence separating the yards.

Earl’s face flushed; his skin tingled. Maybe it was the flu, or he was just feeling embarrassed. Shy. Staring at the cute guy who rode his mother’s motorcycle to school every morning this year made Earl light-headed.

“Cat got your tongue?” Rex yelled up from the neighboring yard, pulling the motorcycle away from where it was leaning against the fence and reaching for the helmet hanging on the handlebars. “You need a ride to school?”


Rex tossed the black Darth Vader–like helmet back and forth in his hands like a basketball. His dark hair was slicked with a generous amount of gel, and his angelic eyes and chiseled face set the cogwheels in Earl’s rusty thoughts in motion. “I haven’t seen you around this week. Where’ve you been?” Rex asked.

Earl grinned back at the tall, handsome boy. Was Rex keeping track of how many days I’ve been out of school? “I’m sick.”

“Another day, then?”

Earl nodded, lifted a hand to wave. “See you around.”

“If you need anything, let me know.”

Earl bit down on his bottom lip. He couldn’t believe the boy next door had talked to him; he did not know Rex well. They didn’t talk every day, and when they passed each other in the hallway at Betham County High, Earl was too nervous to speak to him or engage him in conversation. He’d smile at the gorgeous guy, but it was a brief moment in his long day. A fleeting exchange of waves or grins, and both young men went their separate ways. The only class Earl and Rex shared was study hall. But by ninth period, Rex usually ditched the boring forty-five-minute class to take off on his motorcycle and ride around town.

“Feel better!” Rex yelled up to him. He put the helmet on, swung his leg over the cycle and started the engine. “I’m off! Another boring day at Betham County High.”

About the Author: Thomas Grant Bruso knew at an early age he wanted to be a writer. He has been a voracious reader of genre fiction since he was a kid.

His literary inspirations are Jim Grimsley, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Karin Fossum, Joyce Carol Oates, and John Connolly.

Bruso loves animals, book-reading, writing fiction, prefers Sudoku to crossword puzzles.

In another life, he was a freelance writer and wrote for magazines and newspapers. In college, he was a winner of the Hermon H. Doh Sonnet Competition. Now, he writes book reviews for his hometown newspaper, The Press-Republican.

He lives in upstate New York.

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