Dustin Reviews: ‘Simon’s Choice’ by Charlotte Castle

'Simon's Choice' by Charlotte Castle“But Daddy, who will live with me in heaven?”

Doctor Simon Bailey has everything a man could ever want.

Then his beautiful daughter is diagnosed with Leukemia.

He can almost accept her impending death.

He can almost accept the fact that he will have to live without her

But he cannot stand the thought of his little girl having to face death alone.

He answers her innocent question in a moment of desperation, testing his marriage, his professional judgment and his sanity to the limit.

As cracks form in Simon’s previously perfect family, we wonder, as do his loved ones … will he really make the ultimate sacrifice?

Combining poignant moments of both humour and pain, ‘Simon’s Choice’ is a penetrating account of parenthood at the sharp-end.

Simon’s Choice, what can I say? The story was a roller coaster of emotions with characters (for the most part) were engaging and believable. Simon openly tells his story as he deals with a terminally ill daughter and how that plays into his changing life. Charlotte Castle has written a moving and touching story that anyone who has had to deal with the loss of a loved one can relate.

About the author

No available information

Simon’s Choice is available at: Amazon


Kindle Length: 302 pages
Publication Date:
July 13th 2010 by Taylor Street Publishing (first published July 10th 2010)
Language: English

4 out of 5 stars

Per the USA Federal Trade Commission disclosure policy (http://ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm) governing endorsements and testimonials: the above mentioned book was purchased by this blogger for the sole purpose of ‘reading enjoyment’. This blogger was not paid and/or did not receive money, favor(s) or gift(s) by the book author, publisher, agent, or anyone promoting or receiving a profit from the above mentioned book. This review was done so voluntarily to share views of the book with other readers and potential readers. 


Dustin Reviews: ‘Sam: A Novel Of Horror and Suspense’ by Iain Rob Wright

'Sam: A Novel Of Horror and Suspense' by Iain Rob WrightWANT TO HEAR A SECRET?

When washed-up priest, Angela Murs, and skittish ghost hunter, Tim Golding, are summoned to a vast country manor to help a sick little boy, they have no idea what to expect. It’s clear that young Sammie is a very disturbed child, but there’s surely no way he could have been behind the recent spate of accidents, or the death of his father. The child is dirty, malnourished, and perhaps the victim of a negligent mother, but as Angela and Tim’s investigations take them deeper into the mystery, they realise that there is much more going on than they ever could have expected. When the blood begins to flow, there will be no escape, and little Sammie will finally be forced to show his true nature.

Sam: A Novel Of Horror and Suspense was an interesting read. Characters were well developed and distinctive. The story moved along quite nicely. Frequently I heard faint background music in my head as if I were watching a horror movie. Any moment, I expected to hear Tubular Bells, the ominous music from the movie ‘The Exorcist’. If I say any more I’ll give away the story and you won’t be left cursing at yourself because you didn’t see the ending coming. FYI: Don’t read this book in the dark…. or alone.

Iain Rob Wright

About the author

Iain Rob Wright was born in 1984 and lives in Redditch, a small town in the West Midlands, UK, with his cocker spaniels, Daisy and Oscar, his fat old cat, Jess, his many tropical fish, and the love of his life, Sally. Writing is the passion that fills his life during the small periods of time when he isn’t cleaning up after his pets.

Horror is his beloved genre and his next gruesome novel, Animal Kingdom, will be released later this year. His inspirations range from Brian Keene, Stephen King, and Richard Laymon, to J A Konrath and Terry Pratchett.

Read his regular blog at: http://iainrobwright.blogspot.com

Visit his official website is: http://iainrobwright.com

Sam: A Novel Of Horror and Suspense is available at: Amazon


Kindle Length: 294 pages
Publication Date: September 16th 2012 by SalGad Publishing Group
Language: English

4+ out of 5 stars

Happy National Authors’ Day

National Authors’ Day
November 1, 2012

This observance was adopted by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1929 and in 1949 was given a place on the list of special days, weeks and months prepared by the US Department of Commerce. The resolution states in part: “By celebrating an Authors’ Day as a nation, we would not only show patriotism, loyalty, and appreciation of the men and women who have made American literature possible, but would also encourage and inspire others to give of themselves in making a better America.” It was also resolved “that we commemorate an Authors’ Day to be observed on November First each year.”


What I’ve learned from self-publishing

It’s been one year since I self-published my first novella. Boy was that an adventure and a half. Just months earlier I had written my first short story (Storm of Passion). The overwhelming positive feedback and encouragement I received from readers prompted me to write an expanded version of the original short story. Mind you, I had no prior writing experience or training, yet, I boldly went where I had never gone before.

The first draft of the manuscript was sent off to a small group of Beta readers who volunteered to give their feedback on my story, grammar, punctuation, etc. Their comments came back and I could barely make out the actual manuscript from their too numerous to count comments. I sifted through their notes and I made revisions to the manuscript. After reading my revised work, I created cover art for the book cover and then formatted the manuscript for submission to Amazon and Smashwords.

Already, I had learned some valuable lessons and more would follow:

  1. Importance of patience

    Take the time to do it right to my fullest ability. Don’t rush.

    My novel Auf Wiedersehen~Journey to Goodbye is the perfect example. It’s been three years in the making and it’s still morphing and improving as each day passes. This is the fourteenth re-write, the core story has not changed, but the manner of how the story unfolds has changed dramatically. Patience I tell myself – Rome was not built in a day.

  2. Importance of relying on the kindness of others

    I could save myself time and frustration if I do it alone, but the final outcome is more rewarding if I recruit outside help. Beta readers for example, they were wonderful. But they had not been in total agreement with their generous comments and suggestions during the Storm of Passion Beta read. I took from the experience the comments I was in agreement and revised the manuscript of my first novella.

  3. Importance of editing & proofreading

    Ok, here’s where I learned the valuable lesson about the importance of proper editing and proofreading. After the novella (Storm of Passion) was published, the reviewers comments were focused on the lack of and need of editing and proofreading. I will be the first to admit that I have no idea how to structure a proper sentence, my punctuation skills suck and I can’t spell worth a ding dong. But through my many flaws and inadequacies, I was still able to get the gist of my story across to most readers.

    An author friend told me that there are three kinds of writers:

    1. The technical writer: an individual that has the training and proficient skills to write professionally, but they aren’t as creative as a storyteller.

    2. The storyteller: an individual that can mesmerize his/her audience with endless stories, but can’t write a proper sentence if his/her life depended on it.

    3. The technical writer AND storyteller: an individual who possesses BOTH talents (like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling), but this kind of extraordinary talent only comes along once in a blue moon.

    So, I’ve accepted the fact that I can weave a yarn (in fact quite a few) but lack the technical training and ability. There are lots of folks in this world that are more than willing to assist, if only I ask.

  1. Importance of formatting

    Formatting a manuscript for self-publishing can be a chore and a headache. I read all the manuals and help hints and guidelines before I began my various forms of formatting for self-publishing. I applied all of the knowledge I had absorbed and began the online manuscript submission process. Overall, they came out ok, there were a few minor glitches I was unable to rectify.

    Recently the importance of proper formatting slapped me in the face (big time) as I read a self-published book on my Kindle. The text was all over the place, and not on just that page but the entire book. It was difficult to follow the story and especially the witty dialogue. I limped through the rest of the book, just because I was drawn into a wonderful story. Had the book been better formatted, the read would have been much more enjoyable. After all, isn’t that what a reader wants, an enjoyable read?

  2. Importance of believing in myself

    I’d have to say that the most important lesson I’ve learned is to believe in myself and to follow my dream. From the start, I realized that I had to block out the little voice inside me, the one that said I couldn’t do it. Because I ended up doing it! I had self-published my first book.

    I had considered the suggestions and comments from Beta readers and took what I deemed the better of the advice and applied it to my writing. I never compromised my story, but willingly listened to the advice along the way. Ultimately, that advice vastly improved my story.

    After the Beta read of my second novella Masked Identities, one of the Beta readers advised me to trash the whole manuscript as it was nothing but sheer crap. Sure, the comment stung, but I wasn’t about to let one person’s opinion squash my story. After all, for each story read, each individual reader will take away a different opinion. This particular comment had only been one person’s opinion. I forged ahead and self-published the manuscript. As of this writing, Masked Identities has two 5-star reviews posted on Amazon and additional 5-star reviews on other review sites.

  3. Importance of setting a goal

    Right from the start, I was determined to write and publish my stories, because I had tales to share. I wasn’t writing for fame or money, I wrote to tell my stories. Sure, my books haven’t graced the best-seller lists, nor have I received huge, whoppin’ commission checks, but that wasn’t my goal. I enjoy weaving my tales and hope that one or two readers will be whisked away from reality for a few minutes and settle into the fictional world I create in the form of a written story.

    Pulpit To Porn, my current WIP is just that kind of novella.

  4. What have I learned?

    More than I could have ever imagined. I’ve traveled to places and periods in history where it would have been otherwise impossible. I’ve become intimately acquainted with colorful characters living within my imagination. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve cheered. I’ve told my yarn.

    That’s the reward of self-publishing …

Dustin is Interviewed by Barb on Creative Barbwire

Holy Cow! I’ve been interviewed by Barb from Creative Barbwire. Here is the original interview posted on Sunday, May 27, 2012 on Creative Barbwire:

Sunday Interview

Because I don’t have any free excerpt I’d like to share (OK, maybe next week I’ll post one, if you ask nicely! ;-) ), and because I know I have two more coming up in July, I’ll use Sundays to post authors’ interviews – whenever I read something that makes me curious enough to contact the author, that is. I won his novella Masked Identities at the Hop against Homophobia and because I liked… ehm… the excerpt after the novella, I sent him my usual writerly questions and he kindly played the game… so, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dustin Adrian Rhodes! (must give his blog address, I love the header! ;-) )

B. Where do you live and write from?

D. I live and write from fabulous Austin, Texas – the music capital of the world. I’ve called Austin my home since 1984.

B. When did you start writing?

D. Spring of 2010 I challenged myself to attempt something I’d not done before: write a novel. I penned the first draft of Auf Wiedersehen and I continued to write. Seems there were more than just one story floating inside my head.

B. Cool! It’s never to late to start! As long as you don’t quit, of course! ;-) What genre(s) do you write?

D. I started in M/M Romance but I’m moving into GAY LIT. I’m one of those bizarre writers who has a story to TELL and not consumed with the idea of writing just to SELL a story. I’ll be a starving writer for the rest of my life. LOL.

B. Where do you find your inspiration?

D. All of my stories begin as a dream. I watch the story unfold on the back of my eyelids as I sleep. As soon as I’ve written down the scene or scenes I’d dreamt the previous night, the projectionist will move onto the next scene(s). If I don’t record everything in proper detail, I’ll continue to dream the same scene(s) repeatedly each night until I’ve documented the entire dream in detail.

B. Allow me 30seconds of envy. In spite of writing genre fiction, I could never make believable the stories I wrote from dreams. I had to stopo doing that, LOL! So, kudos for managing this! Do you put yourself in your stories?

D. Yes, I’ve put myself in my first novel (Auf Widersehen~Journey to Goodbye), it’s closely based on my last relationship. My second novel (Outed By Anger) is based on my own coming out in a small Oklahoma high school. Both manuscripts are WIP’s.

B. Do you have a specific writing routine?

I write when I get the time and it also depends on my dang dreams.

B. I follow inspiration, so I guess at least in that we’re similar, LOL! Outliner or improviser?

D. I write the first & last chapters, then I “wing” the chapters in between.

B. Interesting method! Fast or slow writer?

D. I write first drafts fast, but I also do numerous re-writes which is where I take my time. Auf Wiedersehen is currently in it’s lucky 13th re-write.

B. Ouch. Please don’t get stuck in rewriting hell. Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)

D. I self-published my latest novella (Masked Identities) in Dec of last year http://MaskedIdentities.dustinadrianrhodes.com

It’s a contemporary hetro story wrapped around a gay Victorian story (1890 London). A college girl has recently broken up with her since high school. To clear her head, she visits her grandparents and discovers a book she had not read in her grandfather’s library. The Victorian story sparks some similarities to her relationship with her now ex-boyfriend. She realizes she has made a terrible mistake with her ex and decides to try to make an attempt to salvage the relationship.

I had two endings and couldn’t decide which I liked best, so I kept both endings. The reader can decide which ending suits ‘em best.

B. Unfortunately, I couldn’t care less for them, so I can’t help you choose. :-) Hope you’ll write more about Sebastian and Ambrose instead! ;-) Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

D. Storm of Passion (my first novella) and Masked Identities were self-published. I’d like to see if I can’t get my current WIP novel traditionally published. Why? I’m relatively new to the writing game and I’d like to experience everything I possibly can. My WIP novel may be the last (or near the end) of legacy publishing as we know it, digital and self publishing is slowly draining the lifeblood out of legacy publishing and traditionally printed books. Hopefully that day will never come, but I’m not waiting around to see if it does… I’m gonna see if I can’t get published in the old fashioned way.

B. Well, good luck! Remember to let me know, as that teaser chapter really hooked me! [added note: the teaser chapter can be read online at: http://JourneyToGoodbye.dustinadrianrhodes.com] Any other projects in the pipeline?

D. Well, I mentioned both of my current WIP novels, and I’ve begun writing my next novella (Pulpit to Porn). Marc, a young minister must decide which is more important to him, his family or his religious convictions. He’s always been close to his family and he’s just become an uncle for the first time. His special needs nephew is being raised by his elderly parents and his single-mom sister. The nephew requires expensive medical attention which the family is unable to afford. Marc must decide if he will help his family financially and possibly jeopardize his career as a clergy. Faith and family become a serious internal struggle for the young minister.

B. What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

D. In addition to the WIP’s, I’ve outlined 6 additional novels. Although each storyline is a stand-alone, many of the characters reappear with a few years passing between each story. If read in order, the novels could be considered a “series”, but that’s not my intention. I’ve developed a deep connection with these characters and they’ve got some interesting story lines between them.


B. Whoot! Well, happy writing then!

Have a great Sunday everyone!

* * *

Please visit Barb’s blog: Creative Barbwire. Tell her that Dustin sent ya!

*** This blog post is a repost originally posted on
Creative Barbwire
 on Sunday, May 27, 2012 ***
Thank you Barb for allowing me to share our interview with my blogsters

Author William Neale Passes

 On Tuesday March 13, 2012 the Gay Literature world lost one of it’s contemporary authors: William Neale (born: William Fullerton). His seven romance novels were published by MLR Press. Although I had not had the pleasure to have met William in person, I felt as if I knew him from reading several of his works. It’s surprising how we as readers connect with an author through their writing, even though we may never meet face to face. We have shared intimate thoughts and emotions through their writing and feel a personal connection with the author.

According to information gleaned from various online discussion boards, William’s partner Marty Walters, granted permission to MLR Press to edit and publish William’s recently completed (unpublished) novel.

FULLINGTON W I L L I A M FULLINGTON, 55, of Cleveland, passed away suddenly on Tuesday, March 13. Bill is survived by Marty Walters, his devoted partner of many years. He is the loving son of Nell Easley Fullington and the late William J. Fullington. He is also survived by brothers, Mark (Debbie) and Tim; many nieces and nephews; and a circle of loving friends. Bill was President of Fullington Services and former Vice President of Marketing Services at the Richard E. Jacobs Group. A memorial to celebrate Bill’s life will take place at the Ballroom at Park Lane Villa, 10510 Park Lane in University Circle on Saturday, March 24, 2012, from 3-6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Cleveland Animal Protective League or the charity of their choice

Published in The Plain Dealer from March 17 to March 24, 2012 )

Somewhere Only We Know

Grayson Wagner is a classical pianist who was unemployed, hungry, and on the brink of being homeless until he’s hired by a big-hearted former country music star as her new piano player. Gray loves his job but his new life is threatened when a near fatal accident delivers him into the brawny arms of Jacob Kent, a reclusive park ranger. Their physical attraction quickly turns into much more. But can their love survive Jacob’s secret? Or, a shocking revelation that threatens to tear down the very house that love built?

Always Faithful

When Cade and Mark said their vows it was for always and forever. But that was before Mark entered the Marine Corps and before Cade enrolled in college. Four years later, with Mark’s impending discharge and Cade’s graduation, they’re seemingly ready to finally have a long-awaited life together. Their hot and passionate attraction to each other remains as strong as ever. But their long separation has changed both men. And even the strongest of marriages can be threatened by temptation, suspicion, and broken promises. Can their love survive? Or, will they discover that “always” does not always mean faithful?

Christmasing With You

Andrew Bastion lost his partner to a violent and senseless criminal act. Devastated and all alone, he questioned how he would ever get through his first Christmas season without the husband he so loved. But when Drew’s best friend convinces him to “find people who need help and help them,” he finally begins to focus on something other than his own grief. And to his great surprise, he meets the one man with the ability to help heal his broken heart. Christmasing With You is a shamelessly heartwarming, upbeat holiday story that will require tissues, smiles, a box of good chocolates, and the willingness to believe that Christmas miracles really happen.

Son Of A Ditch

Book Two in the HOME Series.

Colby Dawson returns to his southern hometown after serving his country in the U.S. Air Force. Emotionally scarred by a broken relationship, the last thing he wants is another man in his life. But he doesn’t count on falling in love with childhood best friend, Kyle McCoy, now a local deputy sheriff. Their relationship seems almost too charmed until a corrupt governor attempts to locate a state prison next door to Colby’s family home. His prominent father and brothers organize an illegal protest effort that will force Colby to choose between loyalty to his family — or to the partner and lover who may have to arrest them. Not only is Colby and Kyle’s relationship in jeopardy, one of them will fight for his very life while the other must confront his guilt.

A New Normal

Former Marine Corps Major Jake Vincenzo had a plan. He was convinced that his son Mark and his long-time best friend Cade were in love but just didn’t know it. Forced for years to hide his own gayness because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Jake had kept a secret getaway – a remote mountain cabin where he now intended to play matchmaker for the two nineteen year-olds. What he didn’t count on was falling in love with Cade. How will the three navigate the minefields of potential hurt, jealousy and even betrayal? How will father and son maintain their close relationship without viewing each other as rivals? And how will Cade manage not only accepting being gay but also being in love with the two most important men in his life? For the three, it means redefining everything each had thought was normal. Two will live happily ever after. One will go on with a broken heart. And all must recognize that life will never be the same again – that it now means finding a new normal.


Lucas Reed is a big city advertising executive who must return to his small southern hometown after the death of his estranged father. There, he unexpectedly encounters Rogan James, the boy – now man – who had cruelly taunted him throughout high school with insults and accusations that Lucas was gay. Rogan had been the school’s star football player and the dream date of every girl. But deep inside his handsome stud jock persona, he held a closely guarded secret: his own strong attraction to Lucas. Now reacquainted 12 years later, the two finally acknowledge a powerful physical attraction that quickly evolves into an even stronger emotional connection. But their plans come crashing down when they are outed in the local newspaper by an unscrupulous reporter. And Rogan, as the town’s popular deputy chief of police, stands to lose his job, his reputation, his friends, and even his family’s acceptance. But all this becomes secondary when they discover that another man’s deranged obsession for Rogan is a serious threat. Together, they face a crisis that could mean the end of not only their newly found love, but their very lives.

Got Your Back

Dave Durand was used to meeting men at the local clubs and bars. But all he had to show in his search for love was a steady string of shallow losers and superficial players. Time for an intervention. Enter Grady, his acerbic and protective terrier whose self-appointed “job” is saving Dave from himself. This whimsical and heart-warming short story celebrates the love between a dog and his man. And, the dog’s humorous telepathic efforts to finally land Dave the one “keeper” he deserves.

Running – Running – Running Away

During his high school years, he was like most teens who grew up in small towns, he wanted to move away and pursue a dream far from the confines of a small community. He had a burning desire to get as far away from that town and as soon as he could –  he couldn’t get out fast enough. He wanted to shake the haunting memories and the life that he thought he should have had, but hadn’t had. He wanted out so badly he hadn’t considered where he was running too, just as long as he wasn’t in the shadow of that town.

When the time came, he was gone!

He didn’t look back as he passed the city limits – he didn’t even think twice. He was free at last. But as the months and years passed, he still couldn’t separate himself from his past. He traveled further and further away, yet, he couldn’t get far enough away. He kept running, running away from a past that he didn’t want to claim as his own.

For ten years he ran and was still no further from the past than when he started. Finally giving up, he realized that no matter where he traveled, the past would always be there, stalking and haunting him.

Less than one year ago, I began to write a novel OUTED BY ANGER. Angrily I wrote about a young boy coming out in a small rural Oklahoma town during the 70’s. Hate, bullying, prejudice were the key words in a politically charged theme attacking the establishment. Just this past week, I re-read the first six chapters of the incomplete rough draft. In my reading I was stunned that I was perpetuating the very theme that I was taking a stand against: HATE.

I stepped back and re-examined the very story that has been in my head since I was in high school, now the beginning of a manuscript – a manuscript that turned my stomach. This is not the way I had intended to tell this story.

I began at the very beginning of the manuscript and started editing the story. Instead of a narration from the hindsight perspective of an angry man, I turned the voice into that of a confused and naive teen boy. Through the eyes of a teen boy, the story unfolds. My hateful and angry prose were replaced with compassion and sympathy for a boy on a journey through his internal confusion and insecurities. A story of navigation along a rough road of discovery into small town politics and religious prejudice. A tale of a boy with only one objective – to escape the town as soon as he could.

That boy was me.

As I write this story which parallels my own high school experiences, I’m coming face-to-face with my past, the very past I’ve spent my entire life running from. Yet I’m sensing that in writing this tale, it might possibly explain what has eluded me for so very long. What exactly was I running from? Or was I running toward a destination which I had failed to define? A story which began as a coming-of-age story about a young teen boy, may very well become a journey of revelation for the man who is writing it.