Sentimental Sunday: Finding Zach by Rowan Speedwell

Five years ago this month I reviewed a book titled: Finding Zach, written by Rowan Speedwell. And given that we’re doing a Sentimental Sunday special I thought I’d share one of my all-time favorite books with you, just in case you missed it back then.

Finding Zach is one I’ve read at least five times since the print copy arrived and each time I pick up something more, learn something else, see what I didn’t. This story does nothing but get stronger with each read.

I tend to read very fast and yes, I do comprehend everything I read and I remember what it was about. I may forget titles and character names at times but with this particular one, I haven’t forgotten anything. Not a single thing. I read it fast and then read it slow, then I did it again and I never tire of flipping through each page as if it were the first time I’ve seen them. The book is in excellent condition, not a crease to be found, not a single page bent or marred up. It is like new and will remain that way.

Even after all the years that have passed, and all of the emotional heartache I’ve been through, and then some, this story has remained within my heart, and in my head since I first read it. Honestly, I have never felt so strongly about a book as I do this one. I mean I love other books and many authors. John Saul continues to be one of them high on my list of auto-buy authors. He’s taking a sabbatical at the moment, and I understand that all too well. I love a good John Patterson as well. His two part series, Cross My Heart: Hope to Die. WOW.

Rowan doesn’t have many titles out and that’s A-OK with me because she gave me her best when she wrote Finding Zach. I don’t know how she’ll ever be able to top that story. Really. I’m sorry Rowan but as you know I absolutely love David and Zach and will probably always will.

To those of you unfamiliar with Rowan Speedwell and her talent please look her up. You’ll be happy to know she wrote a second short story that guest stars my two favorite MM characters. Zach and David called: Hopes and Fears which features someone from Finding Zach and how this person learns to move on and find his own true person. I was thrilled to see that title come out due to my favorite characters. I can remember thinking that Rowan must have written that story just for me, well of course she did! LOL! I made such a fuss over her at one of the conventions she’ll never forget it. I think. I adore that lady and her very talented mind.

Once again, Rowan, thank you! I think I need to read it again, it’s about that time.

Here’s my review of Finding Zach

https://top2bottomreviews.wordpress.com/?s=finding+zach

Here’s my review of Hopes and Fears

https://top2bottomreviews.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/hopes-and-fears-by-rowan-speedwell/

Both stories still rate on the 5+ Kisses!

Click Here to check out Rowan’s Titles from Dreamspinner Press!!

Click HERE to check out the Dreamspinner Press website

Sentimental Sunday post by Michele

Love, Like Water by Rowan Speedwell


Title: Love, Like Water
Author: Rowan Speedwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 284
Characters: Joshua Chastain and Eli Kelly
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Western,
Kisses: 4.5


Blurb:

Three years undercover with one of the worst gangs in the country left FBI agent Joshua Chastain shattered. Battling nightmares and addiction, he leaves the concrete jungle for New Mexico horse country, hoping to start over on his uncle’s ranch.

Foreman Eli Kelly spends his life rehabilitating abused animals, and Joshua is just another lost soul. But as Joshua slowly begins to put his life back together, Eli realizes that Joshua is a lot more than his newest project.

Joshua’s plan seems to work—maybe a fresh start was just what he needed. Then, just when he has finally found a sense of peace, crime and hatred nearly destroy all his hard work, forcing him to reevaluate what he wants out his relationship with Eli and his own life.

Review:

Love, Like Water is another well written story by author Rowan Speedwell. Fans of this author are sure to love this new story, and if you have not yet tried anything by Ms. Speedwell then this is a great story to start with. Both the story line and characters grab your attention from the beginning, and leave you wanting more.

Joshua is a young FBI agent who has spent so much time undercover that he has lost himself alone the way. After going through rehab for the heroin addiction he picked up while doing his job, his mother arranges for him to spend some time with his uncle on the family ranch. I really felt for Joshua and could not believe the things he had to go through while undercover. It is no wonder the young man continues to suffer the way he does, but being sent to his uncle turns out to be the best thing for him. Eli is the ranch foreman, and he works hard at his job. The last thing he has time for is babysitting the boss’ nephew. He also keeps his personal life a secret but has not had time to take care of any itch he may have. There turns out to be an instant connection between the two men yet neither is comfortable coming out which brings about a lot of misunderstandings. Even once the fact that both men are gay comes out does not change the rocky nature of their relationship.

By allowing Joshua to suffer through the course of Love, Like Water, the author has given the readers a realistic story that will hold their interest until the last page. The many ups and downs that Joshua and Eli faces makes you wonder just how the author plans to give them a HEA. Be prepared to have a tissue handy as there are a few scenes that will have you close to tears. I love the way the author wraps up the story, closing the loose ends in a way that will satisfy even the pickiest of readers.

The story is also peppered with a wide variety of secondary characters who helped move the story along. There is almost a secondary story going on between Tucker and Sarafina. And let’s not forget Jesse, his announcement at the end left me just as surprised as his family.

Even though this story has some strongly angst filled moments Love, Like Water is a book that should not be missed.

Reviewed By: Lydia

Flowers for Him by Marie Sexton and Rowan Speedwell


Title: Flowers for Him
Author: Marie Sexton, Rowan Speedwell
Publisher: Total-E Bound
Pages: 58
Characters: Chandler Harrison, Neil Sweeney
POV: Alternating 1st Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 4.75


Blurb:

He wanted to learn about beauty. He never expected to learn about love.

Billionaire Chandler Harrison’s third marriage is now history, and he’s left with his ex-wife’s parting barb, ‘You have no appreciation of beauty.’ Determined to prove her wrong, Chandler hires artist Neil Sweeney to add a mural to his office wall. He doesn’t even care what the picture is, as long as it’s beautiful.

Neil Sweeney is an ex-tagger, a free spirit, and a bit of a hippie. He’s never met anybody as uptight as Chandler, but when it comes to warming up Chandler’s cold, stark office, Neil has plans involving more than art.

Chandler begins to find himself strangely moved by the mural developing on his office wall. He’s especially moved by the artist himself. Chandler has denied his homosexual urges for most of his life, but it isn’t long before Neil begins introducing Chandler to all kinds of new things. As Neil’s masterpiece comes to life, so does Chandler’s appreciation for art, colour, and the best kind of beauty of all—love.

Review:

Flowers for Him a gem of a short story! I loved the strong connection between Chandler and Neil and enjoyed their story. If you’re in the mood for a sexy and sweet romance, this is definitely a great choice for you!

Professionally speaking, Chandler is a very successful man. He works hard and is respected by his peers. At first glance, you would think Chandler has it all, but unfortunately for him, his personal life is in disarray. His third wife is divorcing him, telling Chandler that he’s boring and wouldn’t appreciate beauty or the smaller things in life even if it hit him on the head. Troubled by this, Chandler is determined to bring some beauty into his world. He hires starving artist, Neil, to paint a colorful mural in his office. What Chandler doesn’t expect is his sudden attraction to the ‘hippy’ looking painter. Soon, Neil introduces Chandler to a different perspective in life and his black and white world turns into a colorful one.

I loved this story! It was so easy to like both Chandler and Neil. Chandler has gone through life working hard and because of it; he’s never really appreciated living. When he meets Neil, he’s confused by his feelings and attraction to him, but for once in his life, he decides to take a chance on love.

How could anyone not love these two men? Even though they are polar opposites, they truly make sense together. I enjoyed watching them learn from one another as well as work to fit each other into each other’s lives. The story itself is a fast-paced and sexy read…so quick; I hated to see it come to an end. Just when I became attached to his couple, the story ended. I hope these two authors revisit this couple in the future, because I would love to see how they really work to make their relationship thrive.

Flowers for Him is told in an alternating first person point of view, and because of it, we are really able to see what makes these characters tick. Both authors did a great job at getting to the heart and soul of their characters, and I for one love every moment I spent reading this book. If you are in the mood for a short, but well-told romantic tale, Flowers for Him is definitely the book for you! Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Kindred Hearts by Rowan Speedwell

Title: Kindred Hearts
Author: Rowan Speedwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 350
POV: 3rd
Kisses: 5






Blurb:

Charming rascal Tristan Northwood seems to have it all: an ancient name, a noble inheritance, a lovely wife, and a son he adores. Women love him, men admire him, and it seems there is nothing he can’t do, whether it’s seducing a society wife or winning a carriage race. Little does Society suspect that the name means nothing to him, the fortune is in his father’s controlling hands, and he has no interest in his wife except a very distant friendship. Society bores him, and he takes dares because he only feels alive when he’s dancing on the edge… until his wife’s brother comes home from the wars.

Decorated war hero Major Charles Mountjoy jerks Tris out of his despair by inspiring feelings of passion Tris had never suspected himself capable of. Almost as terrifying as those feelings for Charles are the signs Charles might return his affection—or, even worse, that Charles sees the man Tristan has been trying so valiantly to hide from the world.

Review:

Rowan has delivered another amazing story to her readers everywhere. This time she tackles a romance between two men who lived back when that little Napoleon dude ran rampart and the Battle of Waterloo happened. The two men, Tristan and Charles, were what I like to call soul-bonded. Back in the era this story takes place falling in love with and having sex with the same sex is a crime punishable by death, yet these two men find a way to make it work, find a way to find happiness, even thru a marriage, a war, and other such things such as addictions, physical impairments, and possible exposure.

We meet one of the main characters when he’s but eight years old, Tristan Northwood, at the time of his mothers and sisters death, he is left alone in the world along with his father, and sadly the two just can’t seem to see eye to eye. His father had no idea what being a father entailed, he trusted that his lovely wife would be around to raise the kids, however, fate plays a bad hand with this family. Tristan is put in the finest schools, given any and everything he could have wanted, but he wasn’t ever happy. He can’t, no matter what he does make his father happy or proud of him, so he doesn’t try. Instead he does what he wants when the urge strikes him.
He’s a ladies man in every true sense of the word, he’s a drinker, an adventurer, a dare devil and he’s anything but happy.

Upon his father’s demands, he gets married to Lady Charlotte, a woman who I greatly admire. She spends no time on frivolities, there’s no false pretense with her, she is a in your face, plain as day, truth on the platter woman and I found that I really liked her. Generally the ladies of that era, when written in stories, drove me nuts almost causing me to have several DNF titles lying about. I’m not a big historical fiction fan; I burnt out on it years ago, so to read her character I was totally in awe. She set a new standard for me and I hope to see more of these types of heroines.

She and Tristan marry, they have a child and that’s just that. She expects nothing in return but to be treated good. Sex isn’t a big thing with her, love seems to elude her, she is who she is and I adore her. She’s not shy by any means and will say it how it is. Giving into hysterics? Not this strong woman.

She births Tristan’s son, Jamie who is named his father’s heir. The whole purpose of his marriage to her was to produce an heir for his father because Tristan had proven to be a failure in his dad’s eyes. A marriage of convenience. And one that was slowly killing Tristan, that is until he met Charlotte’s brother Charles.

These two men together are an amazing team. Charles brings Tristan from a state of total despair and shows him worth, shows him he’s so much more than a drunken aristocrat, and Tristan shows Charles it is possible to find love, true happiness and trust. Now, I can see that you’re like: but wait, he’s married, has children.

Read this enticing story to find out how all that blends in. Rowan gives a show of her intense research on the historical side of this novel. The detail is awesome, the story line powerful, the characters awe-inspiring. And again, though I am no longer into reading historical romance novels, I’m glad I didn’t allow that to stop me from digging into this story. It was well worth every word read.

Reviewed By: Michele

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>Hopes and Fears by Rowan Speedwell

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Hopes and Fears
Author: Rowan Speedwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (This is part of their Advent Calendar: Naughty or Nice)
Pages: 64
Characters: Brian’s and Jerry
POV: 1st
Scene Setting: Chicago (in the winter! Brr)
Book Cover Rating: 5
5+ KISSES
Buy Here

Blurb:

Brian McCarthy is a cynic who hates Christmas, doesn’t keep in touch with his family, and likes quick hookups and faster goodbyes. The only real relationship he’s ever been in was with the subject of his best-selling book, “Caged,” a young man held hostage for five years. Unfortunately, it was entirely one-sided, since Zach was already involved with someone else.

So the last thing Brian expects when he goes in for treatment for an injured knee is to develop feelings for his physical therapist. But Jerry seems intent on either avoiding Brian or demanding more than he is willing to give, and Brian doesn’t know if he has the courage to face his past to forge a future

Review:

For many of you who read my review of Rowan’s “Finding Zach” you know how I felt about that story. It hit my heart deep and it remains one of my favorite books of the year, so when I saw that Rowan was writing a short for Brian, I was like that lady in that Target commercial. You know the one. She’s standing with her face and hands plastered on the front door waiting for it to open for Black Friday. Yes, that was me on the computer screen. I could NOT wait and I am not at all disappointed. I adore each of the characters I met in the prior story and I adore these now.

Brian McCarthy, you’ll remember if you have read Finding Zach, is the reporter who got Zach to tell him his full story of the time the young boy was kidnapped and tortured for five long painful years. Brian is also the man who wrote a book about Zach and his story and he became very famous for it as well. Once the hype died down a bit, Brian took on a teaching job in Chicago and ended up in physical therapy and this is where he meets a young therapist whose name is, Jerry.

The story begins with Brian telling us he hates Christmas, he hates everything about it and he’s not afraid to say it. He’s sorta like Scrooge, with a kick. Brian is snarky so that makes it a tad bit funny. When he meets Jerry, who is also gay, he feels an immediate attraction to the man but denies himself the pleasure of dating the man because he only does hookups and the Jerry doesn’t do hookups. This is just bad news all the way around for these two men.

They become friends and hang out a bit, but neither can deny the intense feelings they have for one another yet they can’t seem to take that step that would bring their relationship to the next level. Brian is fighting his fears of loving someone and losing them, he figures if he doesn’t love someone who is available to love, he can’t be hurt, and Jerry wants that forever type of thing. However one can’t fight what is meant to be and eventually they find themselves moving into the next phase of their relationship, the both of them learning more of each other and of themselves.

This is a true heart endearing story that I really wish went beyond the 64 pages it was. Rowan has done it again and I’m thrilled that she gave us— *hint* two characters from Finding Zach. We even get to find out what is going on with Zach and David! Thank you, Rowan for this wonderful story and for giving me my fix of Zach and David. This is a true Christmas gift.

Reviewer: Michele

>Rowan Speedwell

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Rowan Speedwell

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Rowan. We are very excited and can’t wait to learn more about you. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

This is the first book I’ve had published, but I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. My mother used to tell me to “go draw me a story” before I was literate. I’m passionate about books; I read constantly. But although I’ve done some freelance stuff for trade journals, I’ve never had the gumption to finish anything substantial—until now. I think it was a matter of finding my niche.

I have a masters in humanities/history from the University of Chicago (my concentration was 15th Century Spanish Exploration), but I ended up out of academics for due to the necessity of actually wanting to eat and have a roof over my head. Plus I’m very nervous and agoraphobic and hate being the center of attention, so teaching wasn’t an option for me. Practically anything else is: I’ve done customer service, database management, medical billing, driven a forklift, designed electrification systems for steel mills, and even (thankfully briefly) done the “you want fries with that?” stint. I started doing freelance work for a couple of trade journals (on the other end of the food service spectrum) and got a pretty good grounding in writing tight and writing fast. Right now I wrangle a contacts database and a law library for the Chicago office of a large Midwest law firm.

What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?

Finding Zach is the first book, although I’ve written (and not published) short stories before. I’m amazed at how fast the process went; I started writing May 20th of last year and the book came out May 7th of this year. I submitted it at the end of January and had a contract three weeks later; then we absolutely zipped through the editing process.

How many books have you written thus far?

Just the one, although I’m closed to being finished with the first draft of another.

When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?

Finding Zach is my first m/m romance, although I have written snippets of both gay and straight… let’s call it erotica. Just scenes for practice. (I also have one or two straight romances close to being finished, but not there yet for one reason or another.)


I read a number of books in this genre and was fascinated by the better ones; how the authors could craft believable male characters and still have them fulfill the common themes of the “romance” novel. Like a lot of the authors in this genre, I was always more interested in the hero than in the heroine, and it sort of appealed to me to write a romance with just the hero(es) involved. The more I read, the more I realized the level of potential. And for some reason it clicked; I’d always had problems finishing stories before, but not anymore!

Do you write full time?

I WISH! No, I have that full-time job (see: eating and roof, above) and am very involved in a medieval reenactment group to boot, so my weekdays AND weekends are pretty busy. I squeeze in the writing when I can, and of course THINK about the stories all the time.

Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?

I always wanted to be a writer but my parents said “Writing is a good avocation, but find something that will pay the bills.” So I wrote on the side for enjoyment. I would occasionally start something and think I could get it published, but never really pursued it. I’m sort of easily distractible…. Oh, look! A chicken!!

I think, though, that writing really does choose you. It’s like any other obsession; you don’t really so much LIKE to write as you NEED to write. I have to spend at least a part of every day doing something creative, and writing is the drug of choice for me. It’s the thing I do best, I think, although in many ways it’s also the most difficult.

On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?

Being extraordinarily lazy and chalking it up to “thinking.” And really actually thinking. Plotting out what I’m going to write next and probably rereading stuff I’ve already written. Then sitting down and writing something, even if it’s garbage and I end up throwing it all away a day later. Though truth be told, I don’t usually throw stuff away. I pick at it until I get it right.


I write mostly at work, on my lunch hour, so it’s work until I clock out for lunch, then fire up the flash drive and plug away until it’s time to clock back in. Being already at the computer focuses me, and knowing that I only have an hour to work makes me hunker down and do it.

When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?

I sort of have a vague idea of what I want to do, but I don’t outline or anything like that. I usually won’t have an ending worked out until about a quarter of the way into the book, long before I’ve figured out what the actual plot is, and then I’ll do a rough draft of that and spend the rest of the time working towards that end. I’m flexible, though. Through most of Finding Zach, I had a subplot about a tattoo that was going to work into the ending—and it got thrown out well before I finished the book. The ending was completely different from what I had originally planned.


I tend to write scenes and then work them together, so I’ll plot out a scene in detail before writing it, then write it straight through. And I don’t necessarily write in order. I’ll write widely-separated scenes and then go back and write stuff in the crevices.

What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?

It depends on the book, but there’s always a certain amount of research that has to take place even before I start. I may have the characters and a vague idea of the story, but I need to have a sense of place and time to start with. I did tons of research into Costa Rica and Venezuela before I started Zach, even though very little of the action takes place there. Then the Colorado Springs area when the action moved there. Most of the research for Zach was place.


In my current work, it’s people; who was and wasn’t in London, Vienna and Brussels during Napoleon’s Hundred Days; what regiments and officers were on the ground during the battles of Quatre Bras, Ligny, and Waterloo, and so on. I picked the 14th Light Dragoons for one of the two main characters, mainly because they were a.) a cavalry regiment which fought in most of the major battles in the Peninsula; b.) they were in America at the time of Waterloo, so my main character could neither have rejoined his regiment nor obtained his colonel’s approval to sell his commission; and c.) they wore blue uniforms instead of the usual red. I don’t know why that was an issue; I just wanted Charlie to wear blue. “B.” was important to me because Charlie is an ADC to Wellington and so needed to be at his side during Waterloo, not fighting with his own regiment, and if he had managed to sell out prior to Waterloo, he wouldn’t have been there at all. I was delighted to find that there actually was an officer of the 14th who was a staff officer during Waterloo: a lieutenant-colonel, not a major, as Charles is.

I think I have an advantage as far as research goes; that graduate degree in humanities/history, which was very research-intensive. I don’t LIKE research, but I know how to do it!

How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters?

I think a writer automatically puts something of themselves into their characters. Giving them something of yourself creates a connection between you and them and makes it easier to relate to them as you write. And sometimes you can use them to exorcise your own demons, like Zach’s PTSD, or Tristan’s depression (in my new work). There’s a lot of me in Zach, and a lot in David, although ultimately their personalities are their own. As for other people: well, I do borrow names, sometimes, as sort of a shout-out to my friends, but I can’t think of any instances where I consciously borrowed any personality quirks or anything. In the end, however, your relationships with others informs your work; if I didn’t have a wonderful family, I don’t know that I would have been able to believably show the strong bonds between Zach and David and theirs.

How do you approach development of your characters? Where do you draw the line?

They spring fully formed, like Athena from the brow of Zeus. Seriously. A name, a physical attribute, a face seen in a passing glance: any of these could trigger a character in my head. I have so many characters floating around I could write nonstop until the Trump of Doom and still not get them all out. As for drawing the line, I’m assuming you mean what would I not let any of my characters do? Well, I don’t think I can ever write anyone purposely harming an animal, even if they are a bad guy. I get physically ill when I read anything where an animal gets hurt. I don’t care if it’s imaginary, it’s real enough to me. That’s part of why I won’t read or watch movies about animals; they usually die at the end and I just can’t deal with it. (I’m very squishy inside.) Animals do get hurt in my upcoming book, and it’s hard to write, but it’s not deliberate (unless you think of war as deliberate, which it is, but not in this sense). As for anything else, well, bad guys do bad things, and there’s pretty much not anything I can think of that hasn’t been done by someone, somewhere. Frightening though that thought is.

How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read?

Well, Finding Zach took five months to get to that point. My current project is seven months old and still not there yet. I guess I’d say as long as it takes.

If you weren’t sitting there right this very moment answering our book of questions, what else would you be doing?

Trying to write two guys having hot sex. Seriously. I’m right in the middle of the scene and had to take a break.

Do you write straight through, or do you revise as you go along?

Oh, I’m a terrible self-editor. I write a scene, go back and rewrite it, write another scene, go back and rewrite the first scene so that it works better with the second scene, then rewrite the second scene, then… It’s a miracle I ever get anywhere.


Finding Zach actually started out as an experiment on the NaNoWriMo model: write a minimum number of words a day, every day, for a limited period, with the goal of having a completed manuscript when done. Don’t edit, just write. Of course, being me, I had to edit constantly, and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) limits it to one month (November), so I was a little easier on myself. I gave myself four months with the promise of 15,000 words per month. It ended up being a little over 5 months, but I made the word quota and then some. And despite the constant editing, it still came out okay in a reasonable time. We’ll see how the new ones go…

Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?

I suppose if I did this full time, I might be more likely to have a problem with this, but having only roughly an hour a day to write focuses me. I will switch between stories, sometimes, if I’m finding it tough going on one or the other, or I’ll get up and walk away, or let it percolate for a while. I just don’t like to let it go for more than a day or two, so I’ll go back and work on a different scene. Since I don’t write straight through, I’m not locked into finishing a chapter or a scene before moving on to the next. And sometimes working on another part of the story will illustrate what the problem is with the part I’m stuck on, and I’ll know what to do about it. In Zach, I had to go back and cut out about two thousand words of a part that just wasn’t working and was bogging down the process. Once that was cut out, the book got back on track.

When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel, or experience?

I would hope they would get so subsumed by the story that they forget that they’re reading. To me, that’s the sign of a good book. And I would hope that they would finish the book with a satisfied sigh. I had a reader tell me that she had almost missed their subway stop (TWICE!) because she was so absorbed in my book, and that made me feel an amazing sense of accomplishment.

Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence?

I usually have a working title that’s something simple, like “Zach.” But the actual title went through a couple of permutations before it ended up as it did. The working title of my current piece is “Skylark,” but I doubt if it will stay that way. The actual title will come to me towards the end of the book, after it’s really started to take final form.

How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?

Cleverness. I have a quirky sense of humor and I love puns, wordplay, sarcasm, complicated humor like The Onion and dry, silly stuff like LOLCats. I’m not big on the dumb, slapsticky stuff that passes for humor these days; I’m not a fan of Jim Carrey (except in Earth Girls are Easy) or Will Ferrell. Jon Stewart—him I love. Groucho Marx is my hero.

What is the most frequently asked Rowan question?

Where did that name come from? It’s a pen name, yes, and a take-off of my real name, but it’s complicated.

What are you working on now?

I just finished a short story set in a speakeasy at the end of Prohibition; “Skylark” is of course set just before Waterloo, and is nearly finished with the draft stage, and I’ve started a contemporary about a rock star who falls in love with a recluse.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work?

“Write every day—write something, even if you end up throwing it out later. Just write.” Paraphrasing, of course, but I think it was Mercedes Lackey who said that (not directly to me, as we’ve never met, but in some other context). I write every weekday, anyway, at least a little.

When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?

I am so not good at this. It’s all too new, and I’m too old and know nothing about social media and all that. But I have set up a blog (http://www.rowanspeedwell.wordpress.com) and a Facebook page and a page on Goodreads and a page on GLBT Bookshelf, and a LiveJournal account (okay, okay, I pretty much just have that so I can comment on other people’s LJ blogs). And then of course I do interviews like this one.

Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?

I read. A LOT. And look for stuff that will make me laugh and cry and get excited and FEEL. And I do stuff that isn’t writing but is still creative, like calligraphy and illumination, and needlework, and costuming, and going to SCA events. And the most important thing is to surround myself with people who are also creative and funny and giving. I never used to believe that people were that important to me. I was a bit of a loner for a long time, but finally discovered it’s all about the peeps. I LOVE my friends. They are the best. Surround yourself with good people and you become good people. I’ve been very lucky in that respect, and I hope it’s rubbed off on me!

What pros and cons surround the e-publishing industry, and how do you envision the future of e-publishing?

Well, piracy is a big issue; Finding Zach was pirated the same day it came out. But I don’t think that’s going to ever go away; as fast as you come up with controls, people will find a way around them. I think as long as there are enough people who are law-abiding, writers will still be able to profit from their work, just like musicians, and filmmakers and anyone else whose creative work is subject to piracy. That being said, we still need to fight it hard, and to make sure people understand that it IS wrong, and that right-thinking people don’t pirate.

The other thing that drives me nuts (and in some ways relates to piracy) is the variety of formats out there. I know that the issue in the publishers’ minds is that you don’t want people to be able to borrow or move the text or whatever; you want to keep it proprietary. That’s baloney. It only encourages piracy. Make it easier to download ebooks in any format, and people will pay for it. Apple found that out with the iTunes store. If it’s easy and cheap to get content, people are willing to pay for it.

E-publishing is here to stay, and it’s growing. Just this week Amazon announced that it sold more ebooks than it did hardcovers in a specific period. But there’s a place at the table for all formats. Just because e-publishing is here doesn’t mean that physical books are going away.

I love books; my house is filled with thousands of them. But I also love the convenience of ebooks; not only can I carry a library with me (I have over 600 books on my Kindle) but they don’t take up any space at all. (How can a single woman have a four-bedroom house and no room? Books.) AND I love being able to hear about a book and be reading it five minutes later. Suits my impulsive side!

What kind of books do you like to read?

Everything, although since I’ve discovered m/m romance, my taste for m/f romance is fading. Those now are limited to really specific authors, my favorites. I love science fiction, fantasy, biographies, history, mysteries, memoirs, anything with WORDS in them. I’m a verbivore.

What is your favorite TV show?

Doctor Who. All-time. I’ve been a fan since the Fourth Doctor (late 70’s) but I’ve seen a lot of the earlier ones as well. The new version is so faithful to the spirit of the old it makes me weep with joy.

What is your favorite fast food restaurant? Just thought we’d throw that in for fun…

I always said that when I die, I want to be cremated and have my ashes scattered over the nearest McDonald’s. I don’t know what they put in the Big Mac, but I am totally addicted.

Without getting up, can you tell us what’s under your bed? (yep, another sneaky question.)

Dust bunnies and a cat. A real cat, not a dust cat.

If you weren’t a writer what would you be?

A bored law librarian and data steward. Oh, wait…

When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?

Well, I’ve only got one so far, and I like it a lot. So I can’t really answer that! Um… there aren’t enough of them yet?

Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?

Calligraphy and illumination, which is basically reproducing and reinterpreting the artwork and text in medieval manuscripts. I mostly use it for making awards which are given out by royalty in my medieval group, the Society for Creative Anachronism. They’re a good creative outlet for my non-writing side. I also do embroidery, costuming, crochet, a little knitting, and am learning to spin my own yarn. I occasionally make jewelry (I’m an earring addict). I really only enjoy creative projects; even if I’m watching DVDs (and I do love movies), it’s usually with some project in my hands.

Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?

Well, nothing specific yet. I have hopes, but it all boils down to what the publishers want. We’ll have to watch and see, won’t we?

New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?

Write. Write. Write. Then have people you trust read it and tell you what they think. The “trust” part is really important. Learn to do research (and Wikipedia, while helpful, is NOT always a reliable source). Love your characters. They will make or break you.

Can you please tell us where we can find you and your books on the Internet?

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/. http://www.allromanceebooks.com/. Amazon.


You can also visit my blog (http://www.rowanspeedwell.wordpress.com/)

>Finding Zach by Rowan Speedwell

>

Finding Zach

by Rowan Speedwell
Dreamspinner Press
Length: 259 Pages
Characters: Zach, David
POV: Third
Setting: Colorado
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, MM Romance, and Drama
Book Cover Rating: 3
5+ Kisses

Buy Here

Blurb:

For five years, Zach Tyler, son of one of the world’s richest software moguls, was held hostage, tortured, and abused. When he is rescued at last from the Venezuelan jungle, he is physically and psychologically shattered, but he slowly begins to rebuild the life he should have had before an innocent kiss sent him into hell.

His childhood best friend David has lived those years with overwhelming guilt and grief. Every relationship David has tried has fallen apart because of his feelings for a boy he thought dead. When Zach is rescued, David is overjoyed—and then crushed when Zach shuts him out.

Two years later, David returns home, and he and Zach must come to terms with the rift between them, what they feel for each other, and what their future could hold. But Zach has secrets, and one of them might well destroy their fragile love.

My God. I don’t even know that I can do this book justice by reviewing it. I’m probably the one reviewer here without the talents my co-reviewers have and I now wish one of them had this honor to give the story the praising it deserves. Though I know inside of my heart that they may not feel the same way I do so I must be the one to do this. As I sit here hoping that my words will be enough, or just good enough to give you a peek so you’ll read it as well, I have tears in my eyes thinking about this amazing outstanding over the top story.


When I decide to read a story to review and I come up on the ending, I like to sit back and think about it first. I sometimes take a few days to let the story settle, and sometimes I just can’t find my headspace to review the story due to my own personal issues. Whatever the reason behind that lag, as a reviewer reading the story is step one. Step two is rewinding it in your head and putting the events in proper order, step three is actually getting your thoughts down and step four is being sure you brought everything you found important to the forefront. Reading a story, be it non-fiction or fiction, that includes angst, emotional highs and lows, heartbreak, or any number of other human thoughts and or feelings, is tough.


Not everything in life is nice and tidy, and many of us have hard times we don’t think we’ll get through, and sometimes we fail to think of this: Tomorrow is another day. So, instead of picking up a strong emotional story with angst, pain, and happiness and love, we forgo the angst and pain ones. We have enough of that in real life. Wow, what’s being missed?


Every now and again you come across a story that really embeds itself in your heart and it’s a story that will remain with you, always. It’s a story that you can’t talk enough about, one that you share with everyone you come in touch with, a story that you’ll keep on your shelf and never part with, not even to loan it out. It’s one that isn’t even good enough for the computer or e-reader; it’s one that MUST be in print so you can keep it always. I began reading this story and by the time I hit the end of chapter one, I found myself on Dreamspinners website ordering the print copy. (Shh, please don’t tell my husband, he’ll never get it.) I order print copies for a couple reasons anymore. 1-if it’s one that I must hold in my hands and place on my shelf as a permanent keeper. 2- if it is part of a series and I have the others in print I find I can’t not have it. Finding Zach fell into reason 1. I can’t wait until it arrives! Always and Forever.


Rowan Speedwell, you just don’t know how deep this story touched me. I found myself with tears in my eyes, shaking my head in upset and disbelief, gasping, and smiling. I am able to read just about anything without openly crying but you made it happen. I found myself giving thanks to God that I never had to experience the pains this fictional family did on any level. I found myself at the end of this truly amazing story both crying and smiling and saying out loud, “Good for you, Zach! Good for you!” You told a tale that for all we know in our safe homes did indeed happen. People are indeed kidnapped every single day, they go missing for days, weeks, months, years, and sometimes they never come back. YOU showed us, Rowan, what indeed could be happening and you did it with prose intact and brutal honesty. Thank you for keeping it real, as hard as it may have been for you. Thank you for bringing us Zach and David.

Review:

Finding Zach. WOW. When Zach was fifteen years old he came up missing from an airport in Costa Rico. Fifteen years old and he was kidnapped by this nasty pig of a person whose name is Esteban. This Esteban doesn’t even deserve to be given the title of a person. He’s the lowest of the low. I look back at my boys, and remember them being fifteen and what they were like and the things they said and did, and I think of Zach in this story and tears well up.

The story starts with the rescue of our star, Zach, who weighed all of 86 pounds. He was hiding in a dog cage, and he growled at the hands who would save him. Why was he hiding and growling?

The author doesn’t give us all the details of Zach’s horrifying treatment that he endured for five long years all at one time. She embedded that through the chapters with a fine steady and patient hand. We learn bit by bit what was done to this teenager all the way through to the end of his story. She also did something so out there amazing with how Zach told his part of the story. Rowan used the 1st person with Zach at the start and the end; however, she kept to the 3rd person throughout the rest. Amazing idea!

Zach was like any other boy his age at fifteen, he played soccer, had loads of friends, did great in school, and had a crush on someone he was very close to, an older boy, his name David, and at that time David was eighteen. David’s mom is the housekeeper for Zach’s family. See, Zach’s family is VERY wealthy. Their property is referred to as a compound for the love of Pete. But Zach was in no way a spoiled brat that I saw. He did sometimes seem to drive the younger David a bit crazy with following him around all over but we don’t know this until David and Zach talk about it years later. David called Zach a dweeb when they were kids, and continues that into their adulthood. It’s actually very refreshing.

“Because nobody’s safe. Nobody has the right to feel safe, because it can all be taken away from you. David makes me feel safe and that makes me feel not safe.” Zach shot out of his chair and started pacing. “I know, it’s stupid. But I don’t want to feel that way. I can’t let myself feel that way. If I let myself, what will happen when I’m not safe anymore? I won’t be ready. I won’t be prepared.”

Zach is in his twenties when he is rescued, and he faces years of physical therapy, mental therapy, cosmetic surgery, and then some. He says through out the story, especially to David, who he calls, Taff, that Esteban broke him in Venezuela, that he gave up long ago, and bless David, he keeps giving Zach a reason to keep going and reaching for those stars to get better.

“I feel like I’m stumbling around in the dark,” Zach said wearily. “I don’t know where to go or what to do. I gave up in Venezuela, Taff. Nothing was ever going to change except whatever bullshit Esteban was going to pull that day. But it was familiar…”

Zach has a load of trials and tribulations to walk through, but he never has to go it alone, and Rowan takes us through all of it. She’ll make you cry, smile, shout, cringe, and celebrate. Zach has to learn it’s okay to feel afraid; it’s okay to stumble around because that is “normal.” We all do it.

I have nothing but the highest praise to give to Finding Zach. I will re-read it when the print arrives and many times more. And if you’re wondering why I don’t get into the detailed reviews I always try to do for you, it’s because I don’t want to spoil any of it for you. I want you to read it. If angst and emotional attachment is something you can’t do in a book, please don’t read this one. It will make you cry, BUT, if you can just set that aside, if you can allow yourself to connect with your emotions for a character or characters in a book and cry and smile and laugh with them, please read this book. You won’t be sorry.

There’s a lesson to be learned here.

Never Give Up.

Reviewer: Michele