Thursday, February 7, 2019

Book Spotlight: Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter by A.L. Bryant


BLESSED: THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER by A.L. Bryant, Supernatural/Christian/Thriller/Horror, 279 pp., $5.99 (Kindle)

Title: BLESSED: THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER
Author: A.L. Bryant
Publisher: HSW Publications LLC
Pages: 279
Genre: Supernatural Christian Thriller/Horror

On New Year’s Eve 2021 the staff at St. Ann’s Hospital witness a medical miracle when a semi-conscious woman walks into the emergency room. The Jane Doe has been stabbed multiple times and as the staff struggle to keep the woman alive in the end all they can do is stand back and watch as their mysterious patient revives herself.

Glory wakes up in St. Ann’s Hospital gravely injured from an attack she cannot remember. However, her memory loss is no ordinary amnesia and she is no ordinary patient. Much to the shock of the hospital staff Glory heals at three times the rate of an average person. Soon the administration hears of her unique case and waste no time convincing the recovering Glory to be a part of an experiment to discover the origins of her power.

Once outside the comforting walls of the hospital it becomes apparent that healing is just a small portion of Glory’s capabilities. Abilities that to Glory’s distress are becoming increasingly unstable. Deciding that the hospital’s experiments are in vain, Glory embarks on her own Journey to discover the source of her power, unaware that she is a major pawn in a war between two secret organizations.
The two syndicates continue to clash in their fight for control and their battles result in several casualties. The crimes of their warfare surface and draw the attention of Dennis Wilson, a NYPD Detective known for solving his cases in the first forty-eight hours. Dennis follows the trail of bodies out of curiosity. But when his curiosity causes the deaths of his loved ones Detective Dennis becomes obsessed with the case.

In his overzealous attempts to find the murderer Dennis becomes the syndicates’ next target. Now the Detective must run for his life and the only person capable of saving him is the very person he suspects.

Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter is a hybrid of government espionage and supernatural Thriller. This novel is intended for audiences 18+ that seek an edgier outlook on Christian fiction. Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter is the first installment of the Blessed trilogy.

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With a slight hesitation, Glory examined the entrance. Using the corner of her jacket she tested the knob, not overly surprised when the door opened easily. Behind her, she could still hear the muffled sounds of the girl’s sobs. Glory stepped one foot through the door and paused. She turned sideways and looked back out into the yard. With one foot inside the house and one still on the porch, she stared at the girl, whose eyes were as wide as her own. The side of her body that remained outside of the house felt light; she could feel the breeze whip her clothing. She raised her hand and, as expected, it lifted easily. Glory looked down at her other arm, the one in the corridor of the house. Sweat drizzled down her brow as she struggled to lift it.
            Making sure to keep her voice light, Glory nodded in the direction of the gate. “Go home, I’ll get Mitch and he’ll call you afterwards.” She waited until the girl nodded reluctantly and disappeared.
Feeling a strong urge to leave, Glory turned as quickly as she could and closed the door behind her. Instant darkness. She pulled out the cell phone Dr. Stephens had helped her purchase shortly after she left the hospital, and turned its flashlight on. She had not paid the bill in a long time, so she had no service, but Glory still kept it charged. The corridor was short, maybe two or three large steps long. A staircase, which dominated the space in the narrow corridor, stood against the left wall. Glory shined the light up the steps trying to determine where they led, but the light’s range was too short.
Examining the staircase carefully to make sure it could hold her weight, Glory began ascending. The house had its own gravity; every step felt like moving through quicksand. By the time she made it to the top, she was winded. She leaned against the wall, shining her light around the area while she rested. She stood in another corridor, much larger than the first one. A solid wall lined one side; several doors, some of them mere centimeters apart, lined the other. She pushed herself away from the wall and walked to the first door, covered her hand with her jacket, turned the knob, and pushed the door. It gave way only slightly before it refused to open any farther. She tried pulling the door, but it could only be opened inward. She pushed one more time, shining a light through the narrow opening to see if she could locate the blockage—silently hoping it wasn’t the boy—but nothing met the light. Frustrated, she moved on to the next door, only to encounter the same problem.
By the sixth one, Glory started to wonder if any of them were meant to open. With each door, she put more strength and effort into her shoulders and arms, desperately trying to force her way through. By the twelfth, she was exhausted. She took a deep breath and shoved her shoulder against it. The door swung open, Glory stumbled two feet, and fell through the hole behind it. She fell through one story of the house into an open room and into the much bigger hole in that room’s floor. She fell through another story and into another room with another hole. She hit hard rock and slid until she landed on her back. Her head hit the floor and her eyes instantly clouded from the impact.
Glory’s breath and sight came back simultaneously. Slowly, she sat up with a grunt as she brought her right hand to her ribs. Not only had her pack survived the fall, but she had managed to hold on to her phone. Standing up, still favoring her left side, Glory began dusting herself off. Her hands shook and she took a deep breath to dispel the effects of the adrenaline still rushing through her body. Turning on the light so she could look around, Glory shifted her feet. Taking a small step forward, she tripped on something, but managed sustain her balance with a small hop to dislodge whatever had caught her foot.
Glory turned the light downward to look at the ground and saw a piece of cloth clinging to her boot. Ruffles—the cloth was filthy, covered in dust and grime, but the ruffles still maintained their shape. Forgetting herself, Glory reached out and ran her fingertips over the cloth, smoothing the dirt away so she could see the color. Her fingertips grew warm and her eyes widened as she realized what she had done. Too late, she snatched her hand away.
“This is so exciting!” A young woman in a blue ball gown tightened her grip on her friend’s arm, her gloved fingers long and delicate. Looking a little less interested, her friend, a tall, thin brunette, pried the girl’s hands from her arm, but her friend only returned them with slightly less bruising force.
“Yes, well, if my father knew I was here, it would be the end of me.”
“That’s what these are for, silly.” The young woman flipped her blonde hair behind her shoulders and tapped her masquerade mask with her folded fan.
“I shouldn’t have let you talk me into this. I have a bad feeling.”
“You are thinking far too much. Now tell me how beautiful I look and then let’s go get some refreshments.”
The brunette stood back and pretended to consider her friend. “You look positively stunning as always, Annabelle. Your dress is lovely; I could never pull off so many ruffles.”
Annabelle waved the last statement away. “Nonsense, Sarah, I’m sure you would look just as lovely in ruffles. I don’t know why you insist on wearing such drab garments.” She looked her friend up and down, a frown on her face as she examined the dark green dress that covered Sarah, from its unfashionably high neckline down to the slightly pointed toes of her boots.
Sarah grimaced. “My father does not agree with today’s fashions. He thinks exposing shoulders, wrists, and cleavage is unseemly.” Trying to distract her friend from her dress, she made a show of looking around. “This is an extremely odd house, isn’t it? Why would he build a staircase directly at the entrance?”
“For that matter, why build a staircase that only goes to the top floor when there are four flights in between?”
“We’ve been here less than an hour and I’m already confused. So many corridors and staircases.”
“And how many rooms are there, anyway? There are doors everywhere you look.” The girls spoke frantically now, their intertwined arms squeezing together as they became more excited.
Annabelle turned to her friend. “Let’s explore the house more.”
Sarah looked over her shoulder. “I don’t know. We haven’t even greeted the host yet. It would be bad manners.”
Annabelle shrugged. “It was bad manners for him not to show himself so he could be greeted.”
Keeping an eye on the group they had been standing with, Annabelle pulled Sarah toward the door, only to stop mid-stride as their path was cut off by a large figure in an expensive dinner jacket and a full porcelain mask.
“Good evening, ladies.”
Annabelle released Sarah’s arm and took a step closer, resting her hand coquettishly on her bosom. “Good evening.” She let the greeting hang in the air. When the man merely nodded, Annabelle tried again.
“I do not recognize you, and since I know everyone in this town except the owner of this fine home, you must be…”
“The owner? That is correct.”
Barely masking her annoyance, Annabelle turned to her companion. “This is…”
The man held up his hand, effectively cutting off the introduction.
“If I wished to know the identity of my guests, then I would not have made this a masquerade ball.”
Flustered by her mistake, Annabelle released a breathy chuckle. “My apologies, I don’t know what I was thinking. We must keep the mystery up.”
The man turned his head to the side as he considered the two ladies. “Do you like mysteries?”
Eager to impress, Annabelle stepped forward. “Yes, I do!”
The man turned to look at Sarah, who hovered in the background, not at all certain she wanted to join in the conversation.
“And what about horrors?”
Taken aback, Annabelle frowned. “I beg your pardon?”
“Do you like to be frightened?”
Not sure where this was leading, Annabelle glanced at her friend. “I suppose being frightened every once in a while can be thrilling.”
The man nodded slowly as if contemplating her answer. “Do you believe in the supernatural?”
Annabelle laughed. “Do you mean ghosts and goblins? I think it’s nonsense.” She waved a delicate hand. “Stories to scare children.”
“And what of demons?”
Annabelle paused, the smile wiped from her face. “The church tells us that they exist, so I believe in them.”
The man leaned back on his heels and shoved his hands into his pockets. “So do I. I have always been curious, and judging by the turnout of this gathering, I’m not the only curious one.”
While he surveyed his guests, Sarah inched forward and grabbed her friend’s arm.
“Come, Annabelle.” Annabelle ignored her, staring at the man as if mesmerized. Sarah pulled sharply on her arm. “You said you wanted to explore the house.” This time Annabelle looked at her and nodded, allowing Sarah to lead her around the man and toward the door.
“Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be possessed?” Both girls turned to look back at the man as he spoke. “All the power of the demons and none of the rigid rules of the angels.”
Sarah trembled. “At the expense of our souls and sanity? No, thank you. You can keep your so-called demonic power.” She pulled Annabelle forward and escorted her through the door. Before she could close it behind them, she looked up to see the man looking directly into her eyes for the first time.
“There is only one way to leave this house, and it isn’t the way by which you entered. I doubt you could find the exit even if you stayed here a hundred years.” He turned and headed toward his other guests. “I wish you the best of luck.”
Sarah closed the door. “What an unpleasant man.”
Annabelle shrugged, walking along the corridor, sliding her hand along the wall. “I think he’s fascinating.”
“I think we should leave, Annabelle.”
Annabelle swung around. “I’m not leaving until I’ve explored this house.” When Sarah didn’t make a move to follow, Annabelle turned her mouth down, opened her eyes wide, and lifted her pupils, creating the perfect pout. “Just this one corridor and then I promise we will leave post haste.”
Sarah studied her friend and then nodded. “Just this one corridor and then we’re leaving.”
Annabelle smiled and skipped toward her friend, linking their arms once more.
Trying to take her mind off the eerie darkness of the corridor, Sarah changed the subject. “I wonder what he meant when he said that judging from the turnout, there were a lot of people curious about demons.”
“Oh!” Annabelle swatted the question away. “He was just referring to his invitations.”
Sarah looked over her shoulder. Had she heard something? “What about his invitations?”
“In his invitation, he appealed to those of us who were interested in a thrilling evening. Something about satisfying curiosity about demons in—and these are his words—the demons’ playground.”
“What?” Sarah stopped walking. She stared in Annabelle’s direction, but could barely see her in the dim lighting.
Misinterpreting, Annabelle shrugged. “I know… Who would name their house that?”
Sarah grabbed Annabelle’s shoulders. “Who cares about the name—why did you come? Why are we here?”
Annabelle tried to pry Sarah’s bruising grip from her shoulders. “Calm yourself, Sarah. It’s like taking a ghost tour, there is no need to be—”
Sarah covered Annabelle’s mouth with her hand. “What is that?” The question was rhetorical; the noise was piercing and distinct.
“W-why is everyone screaming?” Annabelle, who had taken Sarah’s hand from her mouth, stared back toward the ballroom. Sarah grabbed her friend and made a move back toward the sound—but more importantly toward the path she hoped would lead to the exit. The girls had only gotten a few feet when the corridor erupted in chaos.
Terrified men and women spilled from the room, tripping over each other in their panic and trampling the people in their way. They didn’t run back the way they came. Instead, they ran toward the two girls, their bodies pressing forward trying to propel themselves farther away from the ballroom. Everything happened so fast that it took Sarah a couple of seconds to react. In that short period of time, the mass of people was almost upon them. Sarah swung around and pushed the startled Annabelle farther into the corridor.
“Get into one of the rooms!” Annabelle grabbed the closest doorknob. She leaned her weight against it. Sarah came to help.
“It won’t open!” Annabelle cried.
“It’s locked?”
“Not locked—just won’t open!”
“Try the next one. Hurry!” Giving up on that door, Sarah followed Annabelle to the next one. She looked over her shoulder to find the crowd less than ten feet from them. Directly behind her friend, she cried out in relief as Annabelle opened the door. But her world came crashing down as she watched her friend disappear in that same second.
Glory sat up sharply. A full minute passed before she stopped gasping and coughing. She had made some progress in controlling the duration of her illusions. Standing, she dusted herself off and picked up her cellphone. From what she could tell, she was underground in a place that resembled a dungeon carved from the rock that the mansion had been built on. It was large and dark. There was no place for light to shine through, so even during the daytime, the room would still be pitch black.











A.L. Bryant was born and raised in St. Petersburg FL. She became interested in writing at an early age; an interest that depending on the circumstance brought punishment (detention for passing out the latest installment of her novella during class) and praise (being chosen for a youth writers conference at the Poynter Institute.)  A.L. Bryant gets her inspiration from both her mother and her Great Grandmother. Her mother recently published an inspirational children’s book under a pseudonym and her great grandmother is South Carolina’s first published African-American female author and playwright.

Until recently writing had simply been a pastime for A.L. Bryant who although she attended several writing courses, graduated with a B.A. in International Business. It was shortly after her second job as a Financial Office Manager at a Goodwill correctional facility that she realized she loved writing more than anything else. It would still be some years before she would convert the short story she wrote in college into a novel.

Besides writing, A.L. Bryant loves traveling the world. God has blessed her with the opportunity to visit a total of seven countries. She has studied abroad in Seoul and has traveled throughout Kenya; two locations she researched for her Blessed series. Her dream is to visit every country in the world.
Her latest book is the supernatural Christian thriller horror novel, Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/ALBryantHSW
Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100029069148653

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Interview with Douglas Baign, author of From Straigh-laced to Cross-dressed


Inside the Book:

 
Title: From Straight-laced to Cross-dressed
Author: Douglas Baign
Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com
Genre: Biographies/Memoirs
Format: Ecopy /Paperback

From Straight-laced to Cross-dressed tells the story of a disturbed adult in therapy seeking to understand and prevent his desire to commit suicide. Douglas starts by knowing that it has something to do with sex but soon discovers that he can't talk about his sexuality without first discussing his religious beliefs and drift away from strict Christian Fundamentalism.The overlapping issues dredge up a confused morass of anger and love, abuse and sex.

  PURCHASE HERE

Could you please tell us a little about your book?
My book weaves therapy sessions from the present with stories from my past as I gradually unravel the root causes as to why I once wanted to commit suicide, layer upon layer upon layer. I tell the story from the patient's point of view, starting from being inside the therapist's office wondering what the heck is going on. (I was so messed up that I didn't even know why I wanted to die.)

The journal the book is based on was a form of personal therapy. I wrote the book to speak both for myself and for others like me. Things that are obvious when you're mentally healthy are so muddled when you're not, but that's difficult to understand until you can get a glimpse inside a troubled mind. The book may also be useful for liberals or non-Christians who want to see inside the Fundamentalist mind.

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?
The inspiration probably started 45 years ago when I broke up with Leanne, my first girlfriend. She'd encouraged me to become a writer even back then but I didn't see how I could make a career out of it. Still, I was keeping a journal at the time.

Between the breakup and several other factors (too long to mention here) I became an emotional wreck and eventually suffered my first meltdown when I was about 21. I didn't even really understand what I was going through.

But I had my journal and Leane's love letters - about 100 8" x 11 1/2" pages of material or so. Something told me: “There's a clue in here. I don't know what the clue is, but if I keep this material I can go back over it again and learn more about what's wrong.”

It took me about 10 years to rebuild my life after my mental breakdown and I finally got married and finished college when I was 30. I then had a normal career, but eventually the same factors started to catch up to me right around the turn of the century and I became suicidal.

So I got onto meds, sought out a counselor, then dragged out my old journal and started looking for clues. After that, I started to write down observations and thoughts piecemeal. 10 years after that, I began to seriously sort out the material and to write the book.

What cause are you the most passionate about and why?
I get wound up about two things: deception and black-and-white thinking. You get both inside Christian Fundamentalism and that just absolutely drives me crazy. It’s not necessary.

I hate deception for the obvious reasons. But hating black-and-white thinking is more difficult to explain until you've experienced it first-hand. Limiting God to just black-and-white is like trying to watch “Sound of Music” in black-and-white - without any music. Bleh. Sometimes I get so angry at this that I just have to walk away.

I've seen black-and-white thinking firsthand from the belly of the fundamentalist beast and I've seen what it can do to people. It's not just my story, there are so many people who have been deceived by the same factors. I wrote this book partly to address the lies.

Do you have any rituals you follow when you finish a piece of work?
Not really. It feels good to finish and relax for a day or so, but then you're bummed because you're done.

Who has influenced you through your writing career?
My boss at work. I wrote lots of technical documentation and my boss helped me learn to write clearly and concisely. She also encouraged my outside interest in writing this book and in writing poetry. I worked for her for about 20 years, so she was a major influence.

I also admire Ray Bradbury's books. There's such color and passion to them, a vividness that I want to recreate. “The Martian Chronicles” and “Dandelion Wine” just sit on my bookshelf waiting to be reread. And reread again.

What are your long-term goals?
Wow. Live forever.

Well, OK. I mean that I'm 61 and it feels like there are too many things I want to accomplish to complete them all in one lifetime.

Mostly, I want to finish writing the books I have in my head. That's another memoir or two, a collection of children's stories, and at least two research books in religious history (a study of early Gnosticism and a history of Christian Fundamentalism from the Civil War to now). I've got notes on all these.


I'll also want to publish the book of poetry I've written and my two new “books” of the Bible (not really, but that's the premise). After that, I can write some more music, learn photography, and maybe learn to paint. Then maybe I’ll go skydiving.


MEET THE AUTHOR
Coming from a long line of teachers, Douglas Baign has a Masters degree in Education but spent his career testing and documenting low-level software. He likes looking at anything basic then challenging assumptions. Doug also has a BS in Cognitive Psychology and a deep and abiding interest in History and Physics.

Douglas' super-power is breaking things, especially computer code, but he prefers to create books, poetry and music. He also enjoys travel and photography.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Chat with Dwaine Rieves, Author of 'Shirtless Men Drink Free'




Dwaine Rieves was born and raised in Monroe County, Mississippi.  During a career as a research pharmaceutical scientist and critical care physician, he began writing poetry and creative prose.  His poetry has won the Tupelo Press Prize for Poetry and the River Styx International Poetry Prize.  His writing has appeared in The Washington PostThe Baltimore SunVirginia Quarterly ReviewThe Georgia Review and other publications.  He can be reached at www.dwainerieves.com

Find out more about SHIRTLESS MEN DRINK FREE.

INTERVIEW:

What got you into writing?

I began jotting down nonmedical thoughts when I was working as a critical care physician, ruminations that I often scratched out on the back of my “to-do” list.  Typically, these musings only appeared when I was fixed in an in-between time—such as awaiting completion of a patient’s CT or MRI scan, moments when I couldn’t actually attend the bedside.  Odd, but I guess the musings were some form of attending myself.  After a while, I thought these musings looked a little like poems, so I started sending them off to literary magazines.  Some were published; a great many rejected and ultimately a collection won the 2005 Tupelo Press Prize for Poetry.  I then put aside the poetry to develop SHIRTLESS MEN DRINK FREE, a novel that I labored over as if it were a poem, albeit one that took about twelve years to write.

What do you like best about being an author?

I enjoy the great freedom afforded by a blank piece of paper begging to be filled with a poem.  Of course, that the nature of the poem can take any form is part of the freedom.  In my mind, SHIRTLESS MEN DRINK FREE is a form of a long, narrative poem.  A gangly, poetic creature that evolved once I let it free.

When do you hate it?

Well, I deeply deeply dislike “marketing.”  Makes writing seem a commodity, a thing exchangeable with the dollar.  I’ll never believe that.  Just as I’ll probably never become comfortable with marketing my work.  After all, who would advertise their babies for a profit?  Availability is the key difference, my work working for its new father or mother.  What does that mean?  It means the work should be available to those who might be interested in discovering it, in sharing a drink that tastes better once we’re both shirtless.  As in poor.  As in needy.  As in too thirsty to give nakedness a second thought.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

Unless my medical world intercedes, I start out my writing day typically with picking up on a writing project from the day before, or—if I’m really on a roll—sketching out a new poem.  What joy it is to just let the spirit flow!

Do you think authors have big egos?

Goodness, I have little doubt that some authors have huge egos.  I’m sure I have an ego, if “ego” is defined as responsibility for the written words.  And it’s odd, I guess, to have that ego challenged and to enjoy the challenge.  I love to hear what others read or misread in my work—what’s wrong with it, what’s just not working, what shouldn’t be changed.  Only apathy hurts.

How do you handle negative reviews?

I shudder with criticism and the very act of shuddering makes me feel alive, vital, damaged and gloriously vulnerable to getting better.  Pain is a reader saying nothing.  I treasure the idea of someone pointing out what’s not working on the page, and even more so, why.

How do you handle positive reviews?

The positive comment is kind and useful and also easily forgotten.  My created pieces are creatures—they are thankful for kind strangers.  A kind comment helps the great many broken knees keep walking.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

Candidly, I’d much rather discover someone else is an author than identify myself as an author.  I like the word “writer” much better; “author” sounds like someone who’s dead—or should be.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

I force my creative writing only when I’m in a particularly masochistic mood.  Creativity—my creativity—just can’t work well under pressure or deadlines.  The reflex says “no”; the soul says “sorry.”   Though I do acknowledge some power in a self-imposed ultimatum—the frustration alone can lead to self-discovery once the pain quits screaming.

Any writing quirks?

I have an obsessive tendency when it comes to words and metaphors.  I tend to ruminate on the inexplicable, which should make writing essays fun—but that is not the case.  Essays too often teeter toward journalism, and as the critic Cyril Connolly noted, journalistic work tends to favor a single read. I prefer work that calls me back to the page—more than one read.  I prefer the voice prompting rumination.  My writing rumination typically demands a stage where something has to happen.  As in my Shirtless novel, someone has to become the next governor of Georgia.  People demand it.  They obsess over it.  For this reason, our politicians (in the novel and real life) pay the price for the communal thirst. Ah—now we’re coming to the guy that hangs shirtless before all Georgia.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

I’m fortunate in having friends and lovers interested in my obsessions, including the writing projects that keep me from creating less presentable trouble.  Writing takes time, just as life does to those determined to write another way through it.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate? 

Love-hate?  Hmmm…perhaps that ties into why it took twelve years to write SHIRTLESS MEN DRINK FREE.  There are characters there that wanted me to hate them, but eventually they just gave up, drank up and made themselves available as challenges for new lovers. 

What’s on the horizon for you?  

I’ve just finished a new poetry collection titled (tentatively) SEX, GREED AND FRIED PIES.  I’ve been told the title is off-putting, i.e., needs to be more poetic.  The poems deal with where I come from, which is a Mississippi trying mighty hard to be comfortable with grease, peaches, dirt and redemption.  But then, what state—in one way or another—isn’t?  Perhaps my Mississippi poems just don’t need as much foreign butter.

Leave us with some words of wisdom about the writing process or about being a writer.

The hardest word is “the.”  As in the book, the paper, the message.  “The” is an article, a word that signifies (i.e., its definitive purpose) but in itself means nothing (for example, when “the” needs a headshot, the camera captures nothing). “The” holds no pretense, no weight and ultimately no substance. “The” is essential though.  “The” helps just by being there, by propping up the word that comes next, which testifies to the humility it takes to become the author, the creator, the near-god who knows his next word, like his world, can be better.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In Shirtless Men Drink Free, Doctor Jane Beekman has seen her dying mother’s soul, a vision above the bed—a soul struggling with a decision, some undone task, something in this world too noble to leave.  The question that lingers—why?—prompts a shift in the doctor’s priorities.  In this election year, Jane must do what her mother, an aspiring social activist, would have done. Soon, Jane is embroiled in the world of Georgia politics, working to make sure her dynamic younger brother-in-law Jackson Beekman is selected the next governor, regardless of what the soul of the candidate’s dead father or that of his living brother—Jane’s husband—might want done. 

Indeed, it is a mother’s persistence and a father’s legacy that will ultimately turn one Beekman brother against the other, launching a struggle with moral consequences that may extend far beyond Georgia. Set amidst 2004’s polarizing election fears—immigrants and job take-overs, terrorists in waiting, homosexuals and outsider agendas—Shirtless Men Drink Free makes vivid the human soul’s struggle in a world bedeviled by desire and the fears that leave us all asking—Why?

Engaging, beautifully written and resplendent with realism, Shirtless Men Drink Free is a standout debut destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.  A meticulously crafted tale that showcases an outstanding new voice in Southern fiction, Shirtless Men Drink Free has garnered high advance praise:

“This is brilliant and rare work, as attentive to an absorbing plot as it is to a poetic, chiseled cadence."—Paul Lisicky, award-winning author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship

“These characters are all too real. Rieves, as Faulkner, McMurtry and Larry Brown, writes people and story that will worm, burrow into you.  Change you even.” Adam Van Winkle, Founder and Editor, Cowboy Jamboree

“Vividly sensuous, this novel is full of textures, sounds and smells.  Rieves tells a terrific story with the sensitivity of a poet.” —Margaret Meyers, author of Swimming in the Congo

Published by Tupelo Press joint venture partner Leapfolio, Shirtless Men Drink Free will be published in trade paper (ISBN: 978-1-946507-04-4, 326 pages, $16.95) and eBook editions.  The novel will be available where fine books are sold, with an arrival on January 22, 2019.