Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Hollywood by Connor Coyne ~ LGBTQ+, Literary, Magical Realism

Connor Coyne

Genre: LGBTQ+, Literary, Magical Realism
Publisher: Lethe Press
Date of Publication: Feb. 3, 2024
ISBN: 9781590215944
Number of pages: 97
Word Count: About 24,000
Cover Artist: Inkspiral

Tagline: A new American myth for readers who enjoy a bit of madness in their weird fiction.

About the Book: 

Anxious Ophelia steps off the elevated train in the big city, hoping to start a new life with her summer hookup, far from her dissolving family and all of the traumas of industrial Rockville. 

Over the course of the next few hours Ophelia will lose her roommate, her money, and eventually, her sense of sanity when she sees a mile-long shark out on the lake, unwitnessed by anyone else, but obviously there, because if it wasn't how did she get so soaked? 

Ophelia cannot go back to who she was before sighting the beast, and the friends and opportunities she discovers all proceed from what and how she acts on that first, fierce, drunken night.

Read an Excerpt:

One August afternoon, in the midst of the hottest years ever recorded, with the nation crashing through wars, the stock market climbing like Icarus toward the sun, and the City funneling its poor people inland as it closed and demolished the last of the projects, Ophelia got off the Red Line elevated train at the Thorndale stop, squinted in the sunlight, and kicked her foot against the platform to free a stone from her sandal.

“Home at last?” she asked herself.

She certainly hoped so. There was so much here, and all of it everywhere: dozens of dark smears from murdered bubble-gum on each sidewalk square, hundreds of quartz-bright sidewalk squares lassoing each block, and thousands of glowing, sweltering blocks throughout the City with its millions of people.

To the west, between the tracks and Broadway, Ophelia made out a video store, a laundromat, and an internet café, all noisy with activity at four in the afternoon. To the east, between the tracks and the lake, she saw a canyon of tenement apartments—mostly brick, fronted with stoic windows, several stories high—going out for three blocks before the real high rises rose from the beach, blue and white and glass and concrete, almost unimaginably tall. Their heights arrowed sunlight back toward Ophelia, hitting her from all sides. And here, too, she saw people coming and going in the glow of late summer.

“Please,” she said. “Let this be my home.”

But who was going to answer her? Not the smartly dressed Black men talking in low voices, laughing softly, leaning out over the tracks to look for the next train. Not the old Polish woman in the headscarf murmuring her rosary to herself. Not the train attendant patrolling the platform. Or the sun, the steel high-rises, the brick tenements, the video store, or the laundromat.
Since nobody would answer Ophelia, she descended the stairs, passed through the station, and went out into the City.

* * * * *

Five minutes later, Ophelia stood in the lobby of her new apartment building, buzzing for the super to come down and give her the keys. The building stood near the corner of Kenmore and Ardmore, just one block from Sheridan Road and the lake. At eight stories high, it was the tallest of its neighbors, though still dwarfed by the towers just a block away. A white stucco lobby. Moll carpet. Plastic plants standing in shell-shaped alcoves cut into the wall. Nothing fancy, but with a breeze coursing down the hall from an open fire escape, Ophelia’s new home felt luxurious.

The super arrived and eyed her new tenant suspiciously. Ophelia wasn’t tall, but she was so skinny, especially about her face, that it created an illusion of height. When she looked in the mirror, her prominent cheekbones reminded her sometimes of a skull and sometimes of a praying mantis. Ophelia was white, pale even, with fine brown hair that wisped gently about her shoulders. She generally considered herself a fairly okay-looking person, whatever her other defects might be. Still, she knew wrinkles and exhaustion were about the corners of her eyes. Anyone could see this. Everyone noticed. She was only in her early 20s but seldom got carded for alcohol.

The super frowned but must have decided Ophelia was harmless because the woman hit the button in the wall, and the elevator dinged in reply. The super pulled open the accordion gate, and as they rose through the building, Ophelia watched each floor sinking out of view. She tried to ignore the stench of stale piss. They got off at the seventh door. The woman fumbled with the keys, swearing under her breath in some Slavic language, and opened the door to Ophelia’s apartment.

She’d seen Tasia’s pictures, but they didn’t do justice to the place. The hallway opened into a long white living room with a white carpet and a bay window looking out to the east. Slivers of blue water peeked in from between the lakeside towers. An arch to the left led into a slender kitchen, all Formica and old appliances, while another hall exited the back of the living room, passing the first bedroom and the bathroom and ending at a second bedroom with plenty of closets and built-in shelves along the way. Ophelia spotted a cockroach crawling across the stovetop and another in the back bedroom. Still, there was something so happy and fierce about the light and the skylike linearity of the lake that hope welled up in her chest anyway. This was fine. No, glorious! She’d deal with the roaches later. Maybe after Tasia arrived.

As Ophelia carried out her inspection, the super stood in the living room with her hands on her hips, waiting, but there wasn’t much else for Ophelia to do: everything had already been settled.

Several months ago, she had told Tasia that she was going to off herself before the end of summer if she didn’t get out of Rockville. “Let’s move to the City,” Tasia had said. “Get jobs. Get a cheap apartment. Hit the beach. Hit the good stuff.” The joke came up several times before the friends realized that they took the idea seriously. Even though Tasia’d gotten her Associates from the community college, she seemed stuck in dead-end cashier’s jobs and was dying of boredom. Rockville was killing her slowly.

And killing me quickly, Ophelia thought. She’d only been half kidding about surviving the summer. So, before she knew it, the two were creating profiles on, Googling neighborhoods, and emailing old friends from high school who had moved to the City. Tasia drove out one weekend, picked up some job applications, toured the apartment on Kenmore, and signed the lease. She’d gotten in on a special promo: no security deposit required. Ophelia had faxed her signature. They were in.
But if Tasia had set the whole thing up, she also needed another week to tie up the last loose ends at Spencer’s Gifts. “My manager got caught stealing inventory,” she’d said. “They want to promote me. I haven’t broken the news to them yet.” So, Tasia stayed behind while Ophelia went ahead with her sleeping bag and a backpack full of cleaning supplies. To get the new place ready. To make it homey.

Ophelia thought back to the 4th of July weekend when she’d lain in Tasia’s bed with Tasia on top of her and Rockville’s fireworks bursting out the windows. The taste of shandy on Tasia’s lips and her sturdy weight pressed down. How all the wretchedness and sorrow of all those years had collapsed that one drunken night. So ... were they friends now? Roommates? Lovers? Friends-with-benefits? With all the planning for their big move, this was one thing they hadn’t discussed. Ophelia wasn’t sure if it complicated things or simplified them.

“Okay?” asked the super.

“Thanks,” said Ophelia. “It’s wonderful.”


As if on cue, a dull thudding sound—four-to-the-floor with the bass bass bass—started thrumming down from the apartment overhead. The eighth-floor penthouse.

“Uhhhhh,” groaned the super. “They never stop.”

She let herself out, leaving Ophelia with the music.

* * * * *

It took Ophelia only a short time to unpack. She chose the second bedroom, near the back. It didn’t have a view of the lake, but it got more sun, and she could see the long sweep of high-rises following the shore and rising toward their downtown crescendo. Since she didn’t have a dresser or bed, Ophelia stacked her clothes in neat piles along the wall, unrolled her sleeping bag in the middle of the floor, and crushed a cockroach with her shoe before it could scurry for cover. Then, with the music still thudding overhead, she shouldered her backpack and left the building.

Ophelia found a supermarket just past the Thorndale stop on the other side of the tracks and spent the next half-hour in a reverie, pushing a shopping cart up and down each aisle and wondering what the next month held in store. I could apply to be a cashier here, she thought. I could apply to be a teller at that bank across the street. I wonder if I could apply to work for the El trains. I’ll need to make money somewhere! She didn’t worry a whole lot about what she did or didn’t need to buy. She had a crisp hundred in her wallet—a parting gift from her grandpa and some keychain pepper spray—but this was just the first of many shopping trips. Right now, she just needed to make it through the next week. She bought some Bisquick, some eggs, and milk. Instant coffee. Bananas and apples. Bread and peanut butter. A dollar box of cookies. A six-pack of cheap beer. Paper plates and plastic forks. A tall can of Raid. A small pillow. It ate up half of her money, but it was enough. She was halfway home before realizing she had nothing to cook the pancakes in or boil water for coffee. I can go back tomorrow, she thought. The peanut butter and beer will keep me going for tonight.

When Ophelia made it back, the sun was lower in the sky, and shadows covered the streets below. The thudding upstairs continued. She set her keys and phone on the counter, massaged her sore arms, and noticed that she’d missed a call from Tasia.

“Tasia?” she said when her friend answered.

Tasia gasped. “I didn’t think you’d call back so quick!” she said.

“Why wouldn’t I call back quick? I was carrying groceries. What’s up?”

“I’m bursting! I’m bursting! I can’t lie! I can’t come to the City with you!”


“I was going to turn down the manager job, O, but that was before they made the offer. I didn’t know it came with such a huge raise. They’re gonna pay me twelve an hour. That’s, like, twice what I make now! No way I will get a job in the City that pays that much. And you know how expensive it is there ... have you seen the gas prices yet?! We didn’t think this through, O. I can’t move now. It would be crazy. I mean, it would be fucking stupid. I mean, I’m gonna get fucking health care!”

“Slow down, Taze. We have been planning this for months!”

“I know, I know, I’m so sorry, it was my mistake too. It was just a dream, you know? It was a silly dream. A summer thing.”

“But our names are on the lease!”

“No security deposit, remember? So, we’re out that first month, but I’ll make that up in like a month. Maybe two. Point is, I’ll make it up quick! You could get out. It was my fuckup. I signed the lease. We just walk away. Hey, I’m the manager here now. I can hire you. Think how fun that’ll be. We can work at the mall together. Lunch at the food court. You know you love them burritos!”

Ophelia’s heart was sinking. It was already in the basement laundry room, and maybe it wouldn’t settle until it reached the bottom of the lake.

“I don’t know, Taze,” she said. “I was ... I was really excited about this. For us. I ... went shopping.”

“Oh, shit. How much money do you spend on us, O? It’s okay, I can pay you back. Now I’m, like, rolling in money! Compared to what I have been. You’ll come back to Rockville, right?”

Ophelia looked helplessly out the window. A seagull sailed down the street, caught between cool breezes from the lake and the warmer currents wafting off the brick buildings.
“I don’t know, Taze. I don’t know anything right now. You shocked me. I mean, you surprised me.” She took another long pause. “I have to think about it.”

“I understand. I’m sooo sorry to just drop this. But I’d be crazy not to, you know?”

“I know. I get it.”

“Call me when you make up your mind. I’d love to hook you up.”

Would you love to hook up?! Ophelia cried out in her brain. What does this mean? What did that mean? What does anything mean?

“I will,” she said. “I’ll call you soon.”

“Hey, nothing else, we’re paid up through the end of September. Take a vacation in the City before you come back!”

* * * * *

It wasn’t anything, Ophelia thought. It couldn’t have been much. She was drunk, and I guess I was desperate.

Am desperate.

Ophelia went into the kitchen and took another look at the food she had bought. She probably had enough money left over for a pot and a pan, but she wasn’t sure that would leave enough for public transit, and if she wanted to get a job, she’d need some train fare. She decided that she could boil water for coffee in a pan, leaving her enough to take the train downtown for a week. That’s ridiculous, she thought. Who lives like this? If I go back home, I’ve got a sure thing at the mall. I can go back to Grandpa and Grandma’s. Maybe save up. Maybe try again in a year. Or two. Maybe Tasia and I get a thing going ... if she wasn’t just drunk. If she really meant it. A car on the street below started honking. The honking continued, and Ophelia realized the driver was waiting for someone to come out of another apartment. She was drunk. She didn’t mean it. There’s no way I can stay here, and there’s nothing for me to go back to there, either.

Between the thudding bass and the car honking, Ophelia was starting to get a headache.

She wanted to bang against the ceiling with a broom but didn’t have one. She opened a beer with the bathroom towel bar, using the trick her brother had taught her. She shotgunned the beer, then had a second and a third, and then she was halfway done, so she went to the bathroom for a pee and drank the rest of the beers on the toilet. By then, she was getting dizzy, but at least drunkenness was a temporary relief. The honking had finally stopped, but the bass thudded on.

Ophelia went into her bedroom and shut the door, thinking it might muffle the sound, but it didn’t. An elevated train of alcohol slammed into her skull. She giggled sadly and reeled. Ophelia knew she was just as drunk as she’d been when she’d tumbled into bed with Tasia, but she was all alone this time. The walls and windows swirled around her, the bile danced in her stomach, and her ears popped like fireworks.

“Shut up!” Ophelia said and fell asleep.

About the Author:

Connor Coyne (he/him) is a writer living and working in Flint, Michigan.

Connor has published several novels and a short story collection, and his work has been featured in, Belt Magazine, and elsewhere. He is the director of the Flint-based Gothic Funk Press and is facilitator for the Gloria Coles Flint Public Library‘s writing workshops.

Connor is a graduate of the University of Chicago and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the New School. Today, he lives with his wife and two daughters in Flint’s College Cultural Neighborhood (aka the East Village), less than a mile from the house where he grew up.

Love or Lies by Craig Hastings ~ @ch875299_craig @RABTBookTours #RABTBookTours #LoveorLies #CraigHastings #ChristianRomance


Love or Lies by Craig Hastings

Christian Romance

Date to be Published: 01-31-2024

Publisher: Pen It Publications


This touching Christian Romance follows Elizabeth’s journey to rediscover her connection with God and to unlock the true power of love

About the Book:

When El’s prestigious position in the company she helped to build is eliminated, she loses both her boyfriend and her place to live. Facing an uncertain future, she agrees to return home to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. But her trip down memory lane comes with a few surprises.

Her high school sweetheart turned pastor is officiating the funeral. Her antisocial aunt regularly hosted a rowdy church youth group. And mysteries hide not just in letters stashed away in a safe deposit box but also in the very pages of her aunt’s novels.

As the secrets and lies unravel, El must confront the ghosts of her past relationships, the distance between her and God, and the truth about real love. But will she give any type of love a chance?

In Love or Lies, El takes an emotional journey of self-discovery and faith to make sense of her past and look beyond the lies she’s been told. This touching Christian Romance explores what it means to rediscover a connection with God and to unlock the true power of love. 

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter One

With hands clenched so tight my fingers might break, I scowl at Josh as he holds up his hand, stopping me in mid-sentence … again. “El, stop. Don’t get all emotional about this. I’ve heard your opinion and have made my decision. It’s 2002, and the dot-com world is expanding quicker than anyone expected. We need to strike now or risk being passed by. Just because it’s not your idea doesn’t mean it’s not good for the company. You refuse to consider the full potential of this.” He sighs as he picks up a red folder with black trim from his desk. These are his ‘For his eyes only’ folders. “I need—” 

 There’s a knock at his open door, and Poppy, the young, perky intern, bounces into the office. All that’s missing is her cheerleader outfit, although her normal attire is far from suitable for any professional office. Why is she still here this late? 

 “Excuse me, J … uh, Mr. Baker, it’s the call you’ve been waiting for. Mr. Abernathy is on line one.” 

 Josh smiles at her. “Thank you, Poppy, and thanks for staying late. You’re free to leave and take care of that other task we discussed.” He drops the folder on his desk while picking up his phone. 

 Did his gaze linger as she pranced out? Her tight dress leaves little to the imagination. How can she even sit down in it? I shake my head and concentrate on Josh. The name of his caller is familiar from the many discussions we’ve had. “Is this about the IPO?” 

 “We’re done here. I’m not discussing this anymore.” He waves toward the door and pushes the phone button as he turns his back to me. “Jack, thanks for returning my call. How are you doing tonight?” Knowing he’s dismissed me outright, I storm out, with the clack of my Jimmy Choo high heels on the tile floor echoing along the hallway. I grab my bottle of Pellegrino off the desk and collapse into my desk chair, staring out at nothing. My cherished view of the San Francisco skyline doesn’t help calm me as I rehash this latest altercation with Josh. 

He’s my boss and has been my significant other for several years. I was here when he started this company, and we worked together over the years to make it the success it is. 

 Ever since he got this idea about an IPO, our work relationship has become rocky. The outside-of-work relationship is less ideal than I want, but what relationship is ever perfect? There’s never time for walks in the city, a night out on the town for dinner, or visiting a favorite nightspot. No more Sunday brunches, Saturday afternoon picnics, attending concerts in the park, or the other events I so enjoyed where we could relax and be a couple. 

 My office door opens, breaking my stupor, and Josh walks in. It’s later than normal, as tonight’s not the usual Friday evening for us. I’m Josh’s ride to the airport to catch the red-eye to DC. Is he here to apologize or just to get a ride? But something is off as he strides to the window without even making eye contact with me. He stares stone-faced out the window as he holds the same red and black folder out in my direction. These are for his private use. Why is he bringing it to me? 

 “What is it, Josh?” His hand seems to tremble while holding the folder out, but he still won’t glance in my direction. I take a sip of my Pellegrino while glancing at the old pendulum clock on my wall. I found it in a little secondhand shop right after I graduated. When I moved in with Josh, it didn’t fit the décor of his apartment, so I brought it here. The swinging pendulum and steady tick tick have always calmed me in the past, but they aren’t helping now. I stand and step toward him, forcing my fingers not to quiver as I take the folder. 

He’s still avoiding my gaze. “Is this about the IPO?” 

 He continues to peer out the window with only the sound of the clock reverberating through the room like it’s counting down to an inevitable tragedy. Josh’s heavy sigh interrupts this. “El, my team needs to support me and my ideas. It’s important for everyone to back the decisions I make with enthusiasm. We need to be a cohesive, solid group, putting the company’s needs first.” 

 That’s not the tone of voice I was expecting. He’s using one he reserves for delivering practiced speeches. I remove the sheets of paper from the folder. The subject line on the first page jumps out at me. 

 Termination of employment. 

 My knees go weak, and I struggle to keep my balance as I read the letter. This can’t be happening. When we first met, our visions were on parallel tracks—the same hopes, dreams, and ideas—but now we differ more than we agree. He’s always appreciated my input from a female viewpoint, knowing it’s based on solid business perspectives. But this … I finally find my voice. “You’re firing me? Are you serious?” 

 Still staring out the window, he shakes his head. “It’s not a firing. With the reorganization of the company, your position is no longer viable or sustainable. We can outsource the work for considerable savings. It’s nothing personal.” 

 “Nothing personal!” I slam the empty folder down on my desk. “Even with all your double-talk, it sounds like a firing to me, and how is it not personal?” No. I’m not losing it over this. I take a deep breath. “Is this because I don’t agree with the IPO?” 

 “Here you go again. You need to set your opinion aside and quit letting your emotions blind you to the logic of my decisions. You refuse to understand the big picture. This is the perfect time for an IPO. The expansion will put us in place with the big tech companies.” 

 I shake my head, glaring at him. “No, Josh. It’s not a mere opinion. I stand by my position. An IPO is too risky. You don’t have the financial backing you’ll need, and you could lose control of the company.” I hold out the letter, shaking it. “Is this why you’re firing me? You don’t like what I’m telling you because it doesn’t fit your grand vision?” 

 He moves from the window, now inspecting the items on my wall, still not facing me. “Again, it’s not a firing. You’ve done such a fantastic job setting up our financial foundation that everything is working great. Because of this, eliminating your position is one change we’re able to make.” 

 With one hand on my hip, I grimace while waving the letter in my other hand at him. “That’s absurd. You’re saying I no longer have a job because I was so good at my job? Even for you, that’s quite a stretch, Josh. If I’m so good, why won’t you listen to me? Let me make it clear. You don’t have the finances for an IPO.” I huff in disgust and toss the pages on my desk. 

 He moves to my credenza and picks up the framed picture of the two of us with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. He waves his other hand in my direction. “I’m giving you two weeks’ notice, but I’d like you to use this weekend to clear out your office. It will be less disruptive if you don’t return on Monday. You know, make a clean break. It’ll be best all the way around.” 

 I struggle to keep my dignity intact. He’d want nothing more than me throwing a fit. This would justify all his comments. I take several deep breaths as I frown at him with crossed arms. “Best for the company or for you?” 

 He sets the picture down and picks up the one of us at the bottom of Lombard Street. “For all. It will give you time to decide what you want for your future. You can make plans and research your options. You’ll get the two weeks’ pay and credit for any accrued vacation time as noted, plus the full severance package detailed in your contract. I’m not shorting you anything in this separation.” 

 Wait? What? He doesn’t mean more than the job? He can’t be. I take a step back with my head to one side and scrutinize him. “We’re still talking about the job, correct? How do I want to move forward regarding a job?” 

 He sets the picture down and gives a quick glance my way. “There’s also a letter of reference. You’re good at what you do, El. One of the best I know, but it’s no longer workable or conducive to this company.” 

 He’s still avoiding eye contact, a sure sign there’s something else going on. After all the meetings we’ve attended, I know him well. “You didn’t answer my question.” While staring daggers at him, I shift my stance. “Is this only concerning the job or something more?” 

 With another sigh, he steps away from the credenza and stops in front of my desk, straightening my nameplate. “Let’s be honest. Things outside of work aren’t going well for us either. It’s like we want different things. We’re no longer on the same track, and this decision will complicate things even more.” He glances at the Rolex I gave him on his last birthday. “This is the perfect time for us to make a clean break. The timing couldn’t be better. You can use the two weeks I’m in DC to pack and find your own place.” In disbelief, I slam my fists on the desk, bouncing my nameplate. With another deep breath to control my anger, I lean toward him. “You’re telling me this now? Right now? As we need to leave for the airport. You’re firing and dumping me?” 

 He takes a quick step back and shakes his head while holding his hands up. “I’m not dumping or firing you. It’s more us parting ways.” He gives another slight wave. “Plus, I’m taking my car to the airport, so you don’t need to bother.” Still, without ever making eye contact for long, he steps toward the door to leave. 

 “Josh, wait. That’s it? Thank you for your service, and it’s been fun, but time to move on. Are you kidding me?” 

 He stops and, with another heavy sigh, glances back my way. “Don’t get all emotional and make a big scene over this. This is nothing but a business decision. I’m sure you sensed it coming as much as I did. We’re not the same people we were when we met. I’ve grown, and so have my ideas and plans for this company. This is the time to expand. 

Two weeks should be enough time to pack your things and find another place. You can still use the car during this time and park it in the garage at the end.” 

 The end. Is this really happening? “You’re taking away my job, my car, and my home? All on a Friday night as you fly off for two weeks?” 

 His gaze lowers to the floor. “El, it’s not me. I’m not taking anything away. It’s for the corporation. The position is being cut, and the company leases the car. As for the other … I’m not sure you could call it a home, more like a place to live. Believe me, this is best for both of us. Once you get past your emotions, you’ll see that.” 

 His expression is as familiar as his tone of voice. He wants to appear reluctant and disappointed in the decision he’s forced to make, but in reality, he isn’t. How long has he been planning this? 

 “Best for the corporation, huh? Don’t try that on me. You’re getting ahead of yourself. There is no corporation or corporate board yet. I’m the one who helped set up this company. There’s only the company. Guess I should be glad you made the ultimate sacrifice and told me in person. Couldn’t bring yourself to do it in an email? ‘El, it’s over. Move out.’” My laser-focused eyes could cut him in half, but he never raises his gaze. “I appreciate the personal touch.” 

 “Like I said, I’m sorry it’s come to this. My decision to do an IPO makes sense, and I know you don’t agree. My team must be behind this one hundred percent, and you’ve made it clear you can’t support my decision. Division in the company is not helpful as we make the announcement. It’s a sign of weakness.” His phone beeps, and he checks it before putting it back in his coat pocket. “I’m sorry, I need to go. Leave the keys to the car and the apartment on the kitchen counter once you’ve finished moving.” He turns and opens the door to leave. 

 “Josh, wait. You’re walking out after telling me this like it’s nothing more than a minor disagreement?” 

 He stops in the doorway, finally glancing back at me. “No, I know it’s not a minor thing, but I’ve made my decision, and I don’t have time to discuss it further. By the time I return, I’m sure you’ll have thought it through and will agree. It’s for the best.” He gives me a slight smile. “You take care.” 

 The sound of the door closing underscores my feelings of anger and frustration. I’m in disbelief. Did this happen for real? My gaze finds the pages of the letter spread across my desk. It’s true. It happened. I should run after him and make him talk this through. But I can’t move. After seven years working with Josh to build this company and almost six years as a couple, the last three of which we lived together, I’m out. I’m thirty-two years old with no job, no car, no home, and I’m alone. Almost halfway through, and 2002 is not going how I thought it would. Where did things go off the rails?

About the Author:

Born in Muncie, IN, Craig is as typical middle-America as they come. He was young when his parents divorced and his grandmother came to live with him, his mother, and two sisters. Seeing his grandmother’s faith in God on a regular basis led him to accept and know everything is okay, God’s in charge.

Craig served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and followed this as a DoD contractor where he had multiple tours overseas and around the U.S. While there were events in his life that tested his faith in God, nothing compared to when his first son was born with major medical issues. As a twenty-one-year-old father with a young devastated wife, his faith had never been tested more. After enduring several surgeries, some considered experimental, his son passed away at six months and two weeks. But even in his brief life, he had a tremendous impact on Craig and others.

Since then, God has blessed Craig with two more sons and has been a constant guidance in his life. Craig’s time in the military and as a contractor afterward included over 20 years overseas, where he was part of local mission churches. On their last return to the states, God led him and his wife to Oklahoma, where he teaches Bible studies and serves in a local church.

The memory of what God did to help him through his parent’s divorce, his son’s illness and death, and many other events in his life, has led him to want to share what impact God had and has with him.

Nowhere are we promised a life without tragedies, setbacks, problems, or devastating events we have no control over, but God’s word does promise, ‘It’s okay, God’s in charge.’


Contact Links:



Twitter: @ch875299_craig




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Mr. Penny-Farthing by Eric Avedissian ~ @angryreporter @RABTBookTours #RABTBookTours #MrPennyFarthing #EricAvedissian #Horror #Supernatural


Martyr's Vow Series, Book 2

Mr. Penny-Farthing 

by Eric Avedissian 


Date Published: 12-15-2023

Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing


About the Book:

All Armand wants is to share his life with his girlfriend Vonnie. But money is tight, their relationship is fizzling, and not even a monster-hunting side gig is paying off.

When a mysterious drifter named Mr. Penny-Farthing blows into town on his antique high-wheeler, Armand thinks his troubles are over. Penny-Farthing offers Armand and Vonnie enough money to cover their expenses with one condition: they must find and return the soul of a serial killer who escaped Hell.

Completing Penny-Farthing’s contract won’t be easy when demons appear all over the city and bodies start piling up. Overwhelmed and pushed to the brink, Armand realizes his greatest fear isn’t demons or shadowy murderers: it’s losing Vonnie forever. Can Armand stop a killer and keep the woman he loves, or will Hell take everything from him?


Nail-biting and visceral, Mr. Penny-Farthing is a high-octane horror story about escaping your comfort zone while fighting for love.


About the Author:

Eric Avedissian is an adjunct professor and speculative fiction author. His work includes the novels Accursed Son, Midnight at Bat Hollow, and the role-playing game Ravaged Earth. His short stories appear in various anthologies, including Across the Universe, Great Wars, and Three Time Travelers Walk Into…. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and a ridiculous number of books. When not chained to his writing desk, he hikes the Pinelands and wastes too much time on social media. Visit him online at


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The Body by Holly Anne Mitchell ~ @RABTBookTours #RABTBookTours #TheBody #HollyAnneMitchell #Poetry


Poems and Stories

The Body by Holly Anne Mitchell

Poetry, Women

Date Published: Jan 31, 2024

Publisher: Bookbaby


About the Book:

How do you stitch yourself back together after trauma, loss, grief, heartbreak? By inviting what is broken to become what is breathtaking. THE BODY is a collection of poems and short stories written in lyrical prose during the hardest moments of the author's life. This collection explores themes of love, loss, grief, seduction, creativity, consciousness, female empowerment, post- traumatic expansion, and the collective human experience. Because when words are not enough, art is the container that holds what the body cannot. And as the heart breaks open, the soul can be set free.

About the Author:

Artist. Two-time TEDx talker. Singer-Songwriter. Entrepreneur. Novelist-Playwright. Ghostwriter. Mental Health Advocate. A no-holds barred journey of transformation and recovery from PTSD, Holly's story is a raw and honest testament to the power of creative resilience. Forged from the heartache of personal trauma, she's spun her pain into a wealth of creative prowess, shattering societal norms, and challenging the idea of 'spiritual bypassing.'

Holly's lyrical prose combines self-hypnosis with carefully crafted wordsmithing to ignite the senses and the soul through their musical cadence. Holly wrote, produced, and starred in her debut musical BLOOD SUPPLY: A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE LOVE STORY premiering in Los Angeles January 2023 to stellar reviews. She releases music under the artist name HOLLY HOLLOWS and resides in Los Angeles, CA.

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Instagram: @hollyanne_mitchell

Youtube: @hollyannemitchell

Tiktok @hollyanne.mitchell


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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Dare by Chelle Bliss is now live! ~ #MenofInkedHeatwave #Review @ChelleBliss1 @valentine_pr_


Dare by Chelle Bliss is now live! 

Austin Moore found his purpose in the military, but there was always something missing. He wanted what everyone in his family had...someone to call his own. But his life didn't make it easy to find a soul mate, someone to be his forever.

Sage Hill enlisted to follow in the footsteps of her father, but never wanted to be in his shadow. And when her friend ditches her at a dive bar, she catches the eye of a handsome stranger. But Sage doesn't have time for relationships, nor does she want the complication.

When Sage is stuck, Austin tries to be her saving grace and a challenge leads to a lip lock neither one of them can forget. She swore she'd never fall for a strong and bossy man like her father, but she soon learns there's more than meets the eye underneath that sexy exterior.

My Review:

Dare is book 14 in the Men of Inked: Heatwave series by Chelle Bliss. Dare is also the second book I’ve read in the series. As someone who doesn’t usually start a series in the middle, or skip around, I was pulled in by the description of the book and knew I had to read it despite how far in the series Dare falls. I was not disappointed nor was I lost. I might not know the backstory of the characters from previous books, but the author did an amazing job with a book that will be enjoyable for a long-time fan or a newly discovered one.

I enjoyed Sage and Austin’s story. Their childhoods are so different, yet they related to each other on other levels. Sage and Austin were magnets to one another. I was pulled into their story and captivated by their personalities, drama, romance, and complications. Their chemistry sizzles, the passion is raw, and emotions permeate the pages. I had a hard time putting the book down.

I was provided a copy of this book.

My Rating:

  Download today on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo!


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Meet Chelle:

Chelle Bliss is the Wall Street Journal & USA Today bestselling author of Men of Inked Series and Misadventures of a City Girl.

She's a full-time writer, time-waster extraordinaire, social media addict, coffee fiend, ex-high school history teacher, and currently lives near the beach even though she hates sand. Chelle loves spending time with her two cats, alpha boyfriend, and chatting with readers.


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