Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ok Danny Boy by: Felicia Johnson w/ Interview & Giveaway

Title: Ok Danny Boy: Chaos Vol. 1
Author: Felicia Johnson
Series: Ok Danny Boy Trilogy (Book 1) 
Genre:  Young Adult to New Adult...Coming of Age
Publisher: S.P.E. Media, Productions and Publishing
Release June 18, 2017
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
The spin-off of “HER” is called “OK Danny Boy". This three part book series follows the story of an artistic and mysterious young man who Kristen meets during her stay in Bent Creek Hospital. Daniel proved to be a supportive peer, whom Kristen saw as a positive influence throughout her recovery. However, Daniel had not always been a role model. Daniel is diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder, OCD and Juvenile Diabetes. His story follows his journey throughout his healing and learning to cope with life’s transitions, coming of age, living with mental illness as well as a physical illness and the suicide of a close friend. Fans of “HER” will get to see what it was like on the other side of the Adolescent Ward.

Part one: "CHAOS" follows Daniel's life before he goes into Bent Creek Hospital during his mental breakdown.
Part two: "MONSTER" follows Daniel's story while he is in Bent Creek Hospital through his treatment.

Part three: "LOVE" follows Daniel after his treatment in Bent Creek Hospital into his recovery process.

I didn't realize how long it took to get home from the doctor's office when I took the train and the bus. A trip that should only take about 15 minutes driving in the car with my mom, took about 2 hours on public transit.

          Whenever I rode public transit, I survived those rides by pretending like I was at an art exhibit. I was merely an observing student, there to study.

          People were like artistic creations. Our transportation was the gallery and the energy that we possessed and released were our canvases. We received what was put out into the world. There were many different mediums of art in the gallery. Some people looked like you could assume where they were coming from or where they were going. That would determine the price and value of each art piece.

          Take for example, the people who seemed to stand on the “right wing” of the train. There was a dapper man who stood close by the train doors. He never sat down because he didn’t want to wrinkle his dark gray, dry cleaned and neatly pressed suit. He stood by the exit door and stared into the window, rather than out of the window because he was looking at his own reflection.

          Occasionally, he picked a booger from his nose and flung it away as if it was a foreign object. Then he ran his fingers through his slicked back hard gelled hair and shifted his tie. Satisfied with himself, he smiled and turned away from his reflection in the train window. He was definitely on his way to the office to make another dollar.

          “You've got to put in the time to make an extra dime,” Tom once said to me when he tried to encourage me to get an after school job.

          At the next stop on the train, entered the thirty-something-year-old looking woman. She was dressed in her posh, pink and blue yoga pants and a light gray pull over sweater. She pushed her baby stroller onto the train with a diaper bag on one shoulder and a yoga mat in its own bag, strapped over her other shoulder.

          Surely, she would have sat down if there was enough room or if a kind gentleman would have given up his seat for her. Rather, it seemed that she preferred to stand up in order to get in a pre-stretch before yoga class. She held onto her baby stroller with her left hand, gripping the handle in such a way that you couldn't miss the Tiffany diamond ring on her wedding finger.

          Using the baby stroller for balance, she bent over and stretched her legs. This caused the man in the dark gray suit to sneak a peak at her yoga toned, motherly plumped ass. And of course, like a tease, as soon as the train stopped, she gathered herself and rushed off the train with her baby in the stroller, her yoga mat, the diaper bag and everything else her husband was paying for.

          She didn't want to miss her yoga class. She has to stay healthy and looking fit so that hubby would find her attractive enough to want to make babies numbers 2.5 with her.

          “You've got to work hard to have a happy All-American family and home,” Tom tried to drill into my head after I had vocally resented getting a job.

          “Living the dream,” is what he called it.

          However, on the other side of the train were different types of pieces of work. They were the ones that the man in the business suit and the yoga mom tried to keep their distances.

          The art on the other side of the train is the kind of art that you can't simply buy like the ones on the right side. I found those people to be priceless. Why? Because on the opposite end were beggars, panhandlers, shopping cart women and the homeless. They are the people who live their lives day by day. They work for their survival in a way that others could not buy for them or from them.

          A panhandler dressed in torn brown pants and a mildew smelling navy blue sweater walked by me with his dirty hands stretched out. He asked for some spare change so that he could get something to eat. I reached into my pocket and found 75 cents. I gave it to him. The lady, who sat next to me, reached into her purse and pulled out a sandwich that was wrapped in plastic and gave it to him.

          “Thank you. God bless you,” he said to us with a nod and thankful smile.

          Then the panhandler approached the man in the dark gray suit just as he was turning away from the yoga mom who had just left the train. The train doors closed and the man in the gray suit turned around to see the panhandler standing next to him.

          Mr. Panhandler reached out his hand to Mr. Dark Gray Suit and asked him for his spare change. Mr. Dark Gray Suit quickly turned his head away from Mr. Panhandler. He sniffed up another booger and shook his head without giving Mr. Panhandler another moment of his precious time.

          Graciously, Mr. Panhandler said to Mr. Dark Gray Suit, “Thank you anyway and may God bless you.” Then he lifted his chin and kept on moving, making his way down the aisle to continue his job, panhandling to survive another day.

          This was a perfect example of priceless art and junk art. Mr. Panhandler was priceless art. He worked for his life. He didn't flinch, cry nor bat an eyelash if someone didn't pay him for his begging time. However, if Mr. Dark Gray suit didn't get his pay on time at the office, or even if his check was a dollar or two short, surely he would have a word or two with the payroll department. He may even complain to his co-workers about the unfair treatment he was receiving from the company that he worked for.

          Then there was Yoga Mom. She reminded me of the most junkiest art of them all. Do you think she would give her husband offspring if that Tiffany diamond didn't shine as brightly as her newly sculpted, expensive yoga butt?

          Mr. Dark Gray Suit and Yoga Mom were buyable, imitation art pieces that you could get anywhere. They had their lives, safety nets, nest eggs (whatever the hell that is), and they knew that they would live to see another day as long as they had a home and something to eat. Those things are guaranteed to them because of who they are while standing on the right side of the train. There were plenty like them and they always stayed in print because they lived long, rich and entitled, privileged lives.    

          Mr. Panhandler was a limited edition. He lived day by day. If he couldn't afford to eat nor find good shelter, it would mean life or death for him. There wouldn't be another art piece that was like him. Maybe there would be others like him when he's gone, but it wouldn't be him.

          That was the difference between junk art and priceless art. It was the same difference between those of us who are people and those of us who are human. To be human, it requires you to have a certain level of humanity that comes from within and it's unselfish. Later on in life, I learned that it also requires a good level of mindfulness. I will tell you about that when we get there.

          I only had the level of mindfulness to accept that all of us had different backgrounds, stories and talents. We were all different colors, races, genders, sexes, shapes and sizes. No matter where we came from or where we were going, we all met and meshed aboard the same buses and trains. We were all displayed in the same life gallery.

          I tried to remember some of the faces of the people and humans that I crossed paths with so that I could draw them later, when I returned home. I didn't like drawing while I was on the train because people were too nosy. Usually there was not enough room for privacy.

          A man who called himself “The Ice Cream Man” came aboard the train at Five Points Train Station as we headed north. He didn't have any ice cream to share with any of us on the train. However, he said that he had a special treat for all of us and he instructed us to “hold up and listen”.

          The Ice Cream Man began to rap a song in the style of a capella. He rapped to us bystanders an original song that he claimed to have written. The song was called “Big Booty in the Flesh”. I liked it. It had an upbeat, fun flow to it. The lyrics were encouraging. He rapped about how to appreciate the rear side of a feminine, shapely woman and the song instructed us listeners on how the woman's ass should be treated in an intimate, lovemaking situation.  I could relate to that song!

          When he finished with his song, “The Ice Cream Man” passed out flyers to announce when his debut album was “going to drop” and when and where his next show was going taking place. The album release and his next show were not going to be free nor on public transit. I grabbed a flyer from him. And I remembered his face to draw later when I got home.

          Along my walk home from the train, I asked to bum a cigarette from a nice lady who was smoking and waiting for a taxi just outside of the train station. She said that her name was Julie. Julie was a hairdresser and she said that she was running late for work. She had a client at 6pm and was afraid that she wouldn't get there on time if she took the bus. Therefore, she opted for a taxi that seemed to be taking just as long as the bus would have taken to get her to work on time.

          She said that she liked my curly hair.

          “Your hair is crazy!” She commented. “You ever let anyone braid it back for you so that you don't have it all over the place like this?”

          I shook my head and smirked.

          Then Julie asked if she could touch my hair. I let her touch it as soon as she asked. I had to insure that she'd give me a cigarette. Nonetheless, I had to wait for the cigarette until she finished running her hands through my hair, petting me, and getting her hands into the thick of my curls to make sure that her fingers could go all of the way through it without a tangle. It was awkward, but I let her have her way because I desperately wanted a cigarette.

          She asked me weird questions like, “Are you mixed?” and “Are you Hispanic?”

          I laughed when people asked me dumb questions about my background. I seemed to be like a puzzle to them. I remember my art teacher once called me, “racially ambiguous” in front of the whole class. It made me laugh.

          The kind woman stopped rubbing my hair and reached into her purse. She pulled out her business card, a lighter and a carton of cigarettes. She handed me her business card first and said, “Call me if you want to get your hair braided or twisted. I think it would look nice in twists.”

          Julie gave me her lighter and a cigarette from her carton of American Spirits. Yuck! I thought to myself. Ah well, beggars can't be choosy. I took the cigarette and lighter. Then I thanked her.

          “So, what are you?” She asked as I lit the cigarette with her lighter.

          I handed the lighter back to Julie and chuckled. I took a long drag of the cigarette and held in the smoke as I turned away from her and began walking in the direction towards my house.

          “I'm human. Thank you! God bless you,” I said as a cloud of smoke released from my mouth.

          I heard her let out a great belly laugh as I walked away.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Smoldering Flame by: Andrew Grey w/ Creative Post & Giveaway

Title: Smoldering Flame   
Author: Andrew Grey
Series: Rekindled Flame Series Book 3  
Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance, Firefighter
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: Feb 13 2018
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
Sometimes the strongest flames take the longest to ignite.
Firefighter Dean’s life revolves around his very ill son, Sammy. Caring for Sammy and working to make ends meet leave Dean time for little else, and romance isn’t something he can even consider—no matter how much he longs for someone special to join their family. Because money is tight, Dean couldn’t be more grateful to the photographer who does Sammy’s session free of charge.

After growing up in the foster care system, Marco knows how to rely on himself, and his hard work is about to pay off—he’s poised on the cusp of fame and success he could only have imagined as a lonely child. When Dean brings Sammy into Marco’s studio, Marco can see they’re struggling, and both the boy and his father stir Marco’s heart. The slow burn between the two men isn’t something either expected, but neither wants to lose the possibility of a loving future. With Dean’s dangerous and possibly life-threatening career and Marco’s demanding one, can romance and forever find a place to fit?

Marco was about to explain that he had no appointments and that the stunning man should call to make one, but the words died on his lips as he turned to the little boy. He was probably five years old, drawn-looking, bald-headed, and had a tube to his nose. Marco followed it to a small tank in a wheeled cart on the sidewalk. He motioned them in, stepping back to stay out the way as the little boy pulled the tank cart inside, with the father following behind, looking more and more worried by the second.
This was one sick little boy. His eyes didn’t hold any of the joy or spark children had, and his skin was as pale as any Marco had ever seen. He was thin and small, and he shuffled his feet like he barely had the energy to walk.
“I’m Dean Harlow, and this is Sammy. He was at Hershey Med last week, and in the pediatric ward, they have pictures of children they’ve helped. One of them is a little girl hugging a huge stuffed Dalmatian. It’s all he’s talked about for days. I saw your studio mark, found your website, and I know you don’t take walk-ins, but Sammy would love to see the Dalmatian and maybe play with it for a few seconds.” Dean put his arm around Sammy’s shoulders, gently gathering him closer.
He didn’t fidget the way most kids did. Instead, Sammy leaned on his father like he was resting. It tugged at Marco’s heart.
“As you’ve guessed, I’m Marco. Why don’t the two of you sit down right there, and I’ll get set up. Give me just a few minutes, okay?” Marco waited until they took seats before going into the back. He turned on the lights and took out the large stuffed animal. He’d gotten it years ago when FAO Schwartz went out of business. He put the Dalmatian in the studio area, then set up the camera and lighting before returning to the lobby.
Sammy sat on his dad’s lap, resting against his chest, his eyes closed, probably asleep.