Love in the Most Desolate of Places

I’m so excited because today I’m over at The Novel Approach, one of my most favorite blogs, which just happens to be run by the super fabulous Lisa. TNA is also home to other fabulous peeps such as Tina Marie and Jackie and my super adorable hubby. How could I not love it over there?!?!

Now, why am I over at TNA, besides the fact that Lisa and I love to drink? Well, I was lucky enough to be included as part of Wilde City Press week over at TNA. I talk about my WC release Moral Authority, and I even have a video of me reading an excerpt. To see my post about “Love in the Most Desolate of Places,” and watch the video click here. Also, the always fabulous Jackie posted a review of Moral Authority. You can read the review by clicking here.

An Interview and Review at Top2Bottom Reviews

I stopped by Top2Bottom today, where I was interviewed by the lovely Michele! Click here for the interview. They also gave me a wonderful 5 kiss review, which you can read below or by  clicking here.

Review:

Title: 3
Author: Jacob Z. Flores
Publisher: Dreamspinner Pres
Pages: 340
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary
Kisses: 5

Jacob Z. Flores is a new aspiring author, his story 3 is one hell of a way to break into the writing world, as it is his first one and I damn sure hope it’s not his last. Page one starts and grabs you and when you reach page 340 you’re looking for a tad bit more, don’t you always when a book is that good? I do. This tidy story begins off with anything but tidy, as Jacob tells a story of three men, all connected together due to one man and circumstances. As the cover shows you, this is a ménage, so if you like ménage stories, you’ll love this one, if you don’t care for them, I encourage you to read it anyway simply because the story is so very complex. We’re literally working with three very different men, one with a secret, another with something else, and one more with that and then some. We are put in all their heads throughout each chapter, and each chapter is marked by years.

So, due to that, I encourage you to pay attention when you’re reading this, a flip of the page just to flip the page will get you lost and you’ll be going backwards trying to be found again. We are taken on a journey with three very different men, all of them I fell in love with for different reasons, all of them telling their story from the time they met to the present through the years and sharing with us the ups and downs as time passes. This goes on until the final connection is made, until they catch us up with the now and how they battle the ups and downs as not only three men in love, but with life in general and how it’s obstacles can and will change your future.

And one more thing…The sex in this book is hot, but it’s not the driving force of the story, the plot that is so well done is. Highly recommend.

Reviewed By: Michele

An Interview and Review of 3 on The Novel Approach

Today, I’m being interviewed on The Novel Approach. Click here for the interview. Also, if you haven’t won a free copy of 3 from the blog tour of the FB chat, you can leave a comment and be entered to win a free autographed copy of the book.

Also, The Novel Approach reviewed 3. The review can be found by reading below or clicking here.

“A talent for drama is not a talent for writing, but is an ability to articulate human relationships.” – Gore Vidal

3 is a book that surprised me.

Why? Well, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting it to be when I started reading it. What I expected was the story of three men working their way through the complexities of a ménage relationship, all the ups and downs, trials and errors, love and unavoidable insecurities. What I got instead is a story of infidelity woven into the story of two men whose relationship was on the brink of failing miserably. What I got was the story of a couple who weren’t looking to add a third to their partnership to help fill a void; rather, their story was that of a relationship that was already so fractured Justin Jimenez unintentionally found someone to fill a need that Spencer Harrison wasn’t satisfying. Justin found Lukas “Dutch” Keller, began an affair, regretted that affair in the midst of the realization that he still loved Spencer enough to fight for him, and left Dutch broken nearly beyond repair.

What 3 is, is the story of three credibly flawed men, men who’re sometimes tragically shortsighted and blind to their own needs and desires. They are three men who are each culpable in his own way for the failures of his relationships. This novel is a character study; it’s not an action packed tour de force, but, rather, is the exploration of the way in which the mystical and inexplicable force that is love will profoundly affect the events which gradually back these men into a relationship that isn’t a continuation of what was but is a beginning of something new, something unconventional, and something that grew from the whims of fate and coincidence but found roots in the absolute purpose of redemption and second chances.

It’s difficult to articulate how and why two people fall in love with each other—sadly, it seems much easier to explain why they fell apart. It’s even more difficult to articulate how and why three people can fall in love with one another, equally and unashamedly. 3 does so, beginning in the middle and then using flashbacks to catch the reader up, in a deeply dramatic study of the way it happened for Justin, Spencer, and Dutch. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty. It was intense. It was, at times, a study in endurance, but it worked in the end.

Review of THE LOCKER ROOM by Amy Lane

The Locker Room by Amy Lane was one of the first novels I began reading during my research on m/m and m/m/m fiction. Since I decided to write a book detailing a gay romance, which is quite the departure from my more political dystopian novel Moral Authority, I naturally turned to some popular books in the genre. The Locker Room was one such book that ranked high among the Goodreads groups I belong to, so I gave it a try. I’m glad I did.

I really enjoyed this book. It chronicles a journey of true love between two characters who capture each other’s hearts as well as the reader’s.

At the very beginning, we meet Xander Karcek at fourteen, hungry and pretty much homeless, playing basketball, the only thing in his life that comforts him. At least until he meets Christian Edwards, a lanky boy whose love for the game rivals his own. The two play a game of basketball and by the time it’s over, both boys have developed a strong friendship that swiftly becomes love.

Over the next few years, through high school, college, and their professional lives, Xander and Chris’ love only grows more powerful, becoming a full fledged adult relationship with childhood adoration at its very core. That childlike center to their romance adds an innocence and sweetness to the duo that helps pull the reader, and the characters, through the tough obstacles ahead.

The obstacles seem insurmountable–being gay and in love but trying to keep their private life out of the celebrity spotlight of professional basketball. Along the way, they make mistakes and navigate through some turbulent waters, but they do so–together–even when those obstacles would destroy couples with less commitment than these two demonstrate. Even when they face separation, they are always together in their hearts and souls, the place where true love resides.

With this book, Amy Lane has earned a fan.

My Interview for A Recent Review of Moral Authority

I was also lucky enough to be interviewed by Top 2 Bottom Reviews about my book. There’s also an excerpt from my book at the end of the interview. Click here to visit the site or read the interview below.

Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today, Jacob. We’d love if you’d start by sharing a bit about yourself and your background?

First off, let me thank you for taking the time to interview me. I truly appreciate it more than words can adequately express.

As for information about me, there really isn’t much too exciting about me personally, at least from my perspective. I’m pretty much your average man with a family. I have a partner of 9 years, and we have 3 children whose ages range from 17 to 11. Like any parents, our lives are filled with homework, dance recitals, soccer practices, and ferrying children to and fro.

I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from St. Mary’s University. In 1996 shortly after graduation, I moved to Victoria, Texas, when I received a job teaching college English full time at Victoria College.

When did you discover your passion for writing? Was there someone in particular who encouraged and inspired your love of storytelling?

I discovered my passion for writing at an early age. Growing up in the barrio of San Antonio, one quickly learns to occupy himself in order to escape the harsh realities of the neighborhood. Writing was one of those escapes. Instead of getting in trouble or having trouble find me, I sat in the dining room of my grandparents’ house and wrote my own comic books, plagiarizing heavily from DC Comics. Most of the characters I wrote about came from the pages of The Justice League of America or The New Teen Titans. Those early stories paved the way for my writing ability. They taught me a great deal about character development and creating interesting story arcs and subplots.

My mother always encouraged my writing or whatever I was interested in, really. She would listen to every story I wrote, no matter how awful the story might have been. Sometimes, I would read her my stories to help her fall asleep after a long day at work.

Your book, Moral Authority, takes a look into the not so distant future of an America in which homosexuality is a crime. Will you tell us a little more about it and share with us how you came up with the idea for the story?

Moral Authority takes place in the year 2050, where a fourth branch of American government called The Moral Authority has been established and in existence for thirty-five years. This part of the government acts as the moral compass for the nation and helps enact lifestyle legislation to keep Americans on a rightful moral track. Homosexuality is illegal, but so is smoking, drinking, and excessive caloric intake, to name a few. But the lifestyle legislation goes even deeper. Moral codes of conduct are established based on high moral standards of care, fairness, loyalty, respect, and purity. Any action that contradicts those precepts in personal relationships or in an individual’s daily life is cause for a stay in a moral prison—or worse!

The idea actually came to me about two years ago. I was at my desk, wondering what would have happened to this country had Obama lost the election and a lunatic like Sarah Palin came within a stone’s throw of the presidency. After that, ideas started to steamroll. I wrote The Moral Constitution of the United States, which basically helped outline the social-political environment for Moral Authority.

If there was any one message you’d hope readers will take away from the book, what would it be?

I want readers to understand just what can happen if ideas, such as morality, are universally defined for everyone. Morality isn’t something that can be prescribed; what’s moral to you might be immoral to me. But that doesn’t give me the right to impose my beliefs on you anymore than you have the right to impose yours on me. Granted, there are universal moral codes that all people adhere to—murder is inherently bad and sexual assault of another is just plain wrong, but when we get down to other concepts or beliefs that aren’t about one person inflicting pain on another, such as homosexuality, then those beliefs can’t be dictated by one person or one group of persons. When one group starts defining life for others, that’s when freedom is truly lost and that’s when a country begins to fall from grace.

Did you find, as you were writing, that you drew upon any of your own life experiences or based any of the characters on people you know?

I think most characters have some infusion of me or of people in my life, but I do my best to make them their own individuals. As such, my characters tend to be amalgamations of different parts of people I know. Sometimes, I take the best qualities of a few people and put them all in one character and then take all their bad qualities and put them in another. This way, my characters are still real but still individuals in their own right.

From conception to publication, how long did the process take?

I began writing Moral Authority in November of 2009 and finished it in February of 2010. I was quite surprised at how quickly I wrote it, but the novel seemed to write itself—almost as if some higher power possessed me until the story was finished. The revision process took awhile as I am a perfectionist and work full time. In fact, I was still revising until I finally published it in August of 2011.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received with respect to writing? Did it change the way you approach your craft?

The best piece of advice I ever received actually had to do with reading, not writing. Diane Gonzales-Bertrand, one of my college English professors and a published author herself, told me that reading for authors is crucial.

In college, I didn’t understand that advice. I do now. After I read a few novels, I find my creative juices rejuvenated. When I read I do so as an author. I look to see how particular authors made me love or hate a character or how I responded to this plot twist or that resolution. This helps me when I write because I gain a broader sense of the writing process beyond my own. I contemplate how others have created their fictional worlds and then apply that to my own writing. Each novel is a teaching tool, and I grow as an author every time I finish reading a new novel.

If you were to offer a word of advice to a new author, what would it be?

My advice would be to not give up. It’s far too easy to say, “Okay, I’m done. I can’t get anyone to publish my manuscript, so I must be an awful writer.” That’s just not the case. All writers have a voice, and if we are true authors, we will do whatever is necessary to share our visions and our creations with others. We will hone our craft by attending conferences, finding reading groups, starting blogs, or whatever else is required to get our words out there. So if your desire is to be published, keep trying. One day, someone will be interested in what you have to say, and when that day comes, all the frustration, tears, and long hours will be worth the joy of someone reading your book and liking it.

Do you have any new projects/works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?

I actually have two new projects in the works. Moral Authority is the first book in a series. I’ve completed more than 300 pages of the second book—tentatively titled Moral Panacea, which picks up two years after the conclusion of the first book.

I also have finished a m/m romance novel, which is currently in the editing process. I don’t want to give away too much about that book yet, but it’s currently titled 3.

Where can readers find you on the internet?

I have a blog at www.jacobzflores.com. The blog tends to be highly political as I discuss current news events. I also blog about gay culture, entertainment, and personal anecdotes. I try to blog at least twice a day, so my website is updated on a regular basis.

It’s been a pleasure having you with us, Jacob. Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions. We’d love if you’d consider sharing a favorite excerpt from Moral Authority with us.

Moral Authority by Jacob Flores

“Alright, you pansy ass butthole fuckers, it’s time to get going!”

The angry voice of the K3 officer screaming at them in the boat hold roused Mark from his tentative slumber. He couldn’t remember falling asleep, but he often drifted off when he escaped inside his own mind.

The K3 officer flipped on the lights in the boat hold for the first time since he shut them off four days ago. Mark tried to shield his eyes from the brightness, but the shackles and chains around his wrist prevented much freedom in arm movement. All he could manage was to squint and hope his eyesight recovered quickly.

“Hurry up and get on your God damn feet,” the K3 shouted while yanking one of the prisoners to his feet. Since no one had the chance to stand for four days, the prisoner crumpled to the ground, his legs numb from sitting in one position too long. The officer proceeded to kick the prisoner repeatedly. The man screamed for help as his body was mercilessly assaulted by the K3 who Mark now referred to as Officer Asshole.

“Stop it! You’re going to kill him,” shouted someone from up front. Immediately, Mark knew that to be a mistake.

“What the fuck did you just say?” Officer Asshole asked, while kicking the man on the floor one final time. Mark heard a snap on that final kick, no doubt a rib or two being broken.

Unfortunately, Mark’s eyes adjusted well enough now for him to see Officer Asshole pull out his side arm and fire it pointblank at the outspoken prisoner. The ringing peal of the shot blasted through the boat hold, and the noise frightened Mark. Most law officials now carried electrical weapons in order to subdue offenders without serious bodily harm. When discharged, those guns sizzled, not exploded like this one. Lead ammunition guns hadn’t been in use for decades. Apparently, at detainment camps, they were standard issue.

Mark averted his eyes as the man’s lifeless body fell to the floor, where Officer Asshole kicked it twice. Afterward, Officer Asshole looked around. “Does anyone else have something to say about me kicking the shit out of this butt fucker?”

No one responded. Even the man who sobbed for most of the boat trip remained silent.

Officer Asshole resumed kicking the man he lifted from his seat. The man no longer screamed but moaned in pain; his moans were interrupted by the wet sound of gurgling blood escaping his lips. Still, Officer Asshole attacked. The man’s anguished moans became too much for Mark to bear. He tried to block out the whimpers with his hands, but the chains restrained him.

Blow after blow filled the boat hold, and the interior walls of the boat amplified the beating until it sounded like a percussionist banging out a macabre beat in some nightmarish band.

Finally, the moans stopped. The man was most likely dead, but his death failed to deter Officer Asshole. He kicked the man, at least ten more times.

“That was fucking fun,” Officer Asshole said in delight. “Who’s next?”

The officer’s delight filled Mark with rage. More than anything else, even more than being free of this hellish place, Mark wanted Officer Asshole to die.

“That’s enough, Davies,” a voice from behind Officer Asshole commanded. “Bring them above deck. Now.”

“Yes, sir!” Officer Asshole returned his gaze to the prisoners. His smirk foretold even more hell to follow. “Alright, you fairies, let’s get those loose asses of yours up those stairs and off the boat for inspection.” Officer Asshole bent down and unlocked the chains of the two men he killed. Their torment was over while Mark’s, and the other hundred or so prisoners, had just begun. Officer Asshole then pushed another man toward the stairs leading up to the deck. The procession out began.

As they filed out, Mark looked around at his fellow prisoners all dressed in bright orange jumpsuits. Some were soiled by their own body excrement, which they sat in for the past four days. Even though Mark had to go, he fought the urge. He would be damned if he gave his jailors the opportunity to mock him for a simple human bodily function.

Most of the prisoners looked awful and defeated. Eyes wide in terror, they shuffled forward carefully since everyone’s ankles were also chained together. Dried snot caked some of their faces. Others showed no emotion, as if they detached themselves from this world, their bodies merely on autopilot.

Mark didn’t feel defeated or detached. He was terrified, but he was mostly furious. No human being deserved to be treated as they were being treated. Every fiber of his being knew this to be wrong.

How could anyone, much less the supposed moral majority of this country, think this was just or moral?

“Pay attention, man. Our line is moving,” the man behind him whispered while nudging Mark forward. The men in front of him shuffled forward. His lack of attention might have upset the line when his chain linking him to the man before him pulled taut. The man in front of him could have stumbled or fallen backwards, unbalanced, which likely would have resulted in a beating, or worse, for them both.

“Thanks,” Mark whispered back and shuffled forward.

As he made his way closer to the stairs leading up, the sunlight at the top shone brightly down on him; its warmth felt good on his skin. He closed his eyes briefly, freely giving himself to its embrace. The sun told him everything would be all right, that he would be watched and cared for. Mark found this soothing. He listened to the roll of the waves as they gently rocked the boat against the dock, and it lulled him into a tentative peace. Even the sea breeze that rushed down to him, carrying the smell of salt and sea life, filled him with renewed vigor.

Mark climbed the stairs toward the sun, exiting the darkness of the boat hold.

On deck, he looked around at Provincetown harbor. Boat slips surrounded the area, but there were no boats. At one time, Provincetown was home to many boats, both commercial and private. Now, the only boat was the one he currently stood on. No doubt all other water transportation was forbidden since Provincetown had been turned into a detainment camp. Forced by K3’s, citizens and businesses relocated off the cape.

The line of men in orange jumpsuits extended all the way down the pier, toward a New England styled building with white trim and a grey roof. No doubt the building was once a visitor’s center or some official site for Provincetown tourism. Now, it was where the processing of prisoners occurred. It even had K3 guards standing sentinel along the white ramps, their weapons drawn and their muscles tense, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to shoot someone.

He focused his attention instead on the cool sea breeze that continued to swirl around him, whispering to him that he wasn’t alone. Mark then stepped off the metal plank used for disembarkation and onto the wooden slats of the pier. As he walked forward, Mark imagined what Provincetown might have been like a generation or two ago.

Mark pictured the excitement his gay brothers in the past must have felt when exiting the ferries that used to shuttle them back and forth from Boston. When their feet touched these same wooden slats he now walked across in chains, they no doubt felt liberated from their daily selves. He imagined their excitement, as opposed to his dread, about their arrival. Instead of being detained like Mark, they had arrived at a destination where they were the most free, where they could be who they truly were and express that without hesitation or fear of reprisal.

He clearly saw them in the past, walking hand-in-hand as they hurried to join the rest of their kin at the local bars or shops. Each person they encountered was a potential new lover or friend. In the past, there were no limits here, no boundaries, like the rows of chain linked and barbed wire fences that extended for as far as the eye could see along the beach in both directions. Provincetown was whatever they wanted it to be. It could be filled with dancing and debauchery, shopping and sight seeing, or relaxing and lounging, or it could be all those things.

In fact, if he listened hard enough, he still heard the thumping bass beat of a long ago silenced speaker churning out the dance music to which the boys used to love to dance. The music drifted on the air currents, refusing to die and challenging the present to ever erase that part of this town’s past. The vibe was in the air. It was the essence of what Provincetown was and what it promised to be again. He felt it. This was no doubt what he sensed while climbing out of the boat hold. It was the spirit of Provincetown and the ghosts of his gay brothers from the past. They were here, they told him. They wouldn’t be chased away.

New Review of Moral Authority

My novel Moral Authority was reviewed on Top2Bottom Reviews, a gay fiction review site. Click here to visit the site.

Title: Moral Authority
Author: Jacob Z. Flores
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 318
Characters: Mark and Isaac
POV: Third
Sub-Genre: LGBT dystopian political thriller
Kisses: 4.5 (out of 5)

Blurb:

In the year 2050, America has changed. Profoundly. Homosexuality is a crime, cursing in public is a punishable offense, and lifestyle legislation keeps American citizens on a prescribed moral path. The country lives in a Moral Age, all thanks to The Moral Authority, the nation’s fourth branch of government, which has held dominion for the past thirty-five years. Yet the Moral Age comes at a price. Americans either live like mindless cattle or in fear. Told from three points of view, Mark, the brash young hero, who finds true love in the most desolate of places; Isaac, the renegade, who searches for redemption, and Samuel the dictatorial megalomaniac intent on maintaining his power, Moral Authority exposes what happens to a nation that continues to restrict, instead of broadening, civil rights.

Review:

The year is 2050 in the United States of America. Democracy is a distant memory, and the current government is a four-armed fascist system which is ruled by a supreme leader who is referred to as the Moral Chancellor. In reality, he is the country’s dictator and the ruler of the highest branch of government called the Moral Authority.

Protagonist Mark Bryan is a college student and journalist who takes exception to the Orwellian laws that have been imposed upon society by the Moral Authority. Not only does he struggle with the moral standards of conduct which are rigidly enforced by the Moral Police, but he also is opposed to the outright ban the government has placed upon homosexuality.

Mark is himself gay, albeit closeted. All gay people are closeted, though, for it is illegal to embrace any form of self-identity which is contrary to heterosexuality. The moral police are very diligent in tracking down offenders, and sting operations are frequently conducted to identify and imprison violators.

Mark meets a man to whom he’s attracted and cautiously begins to cultivate a relationship. Soon he finds himself in the midst of a sting, and is sentenced to imprisonment. This occurs around the time a crackdown has been implemented. The Moral Chancellor is impatient to root out all forms of deviant sexual behavior once-and-for-all, and has a passionate hatred for homosexuals especially.

Concurrent to Marks arrest and prison sentence, an uprising ensues within the country. Rebel forces which are led by the Human Rights Campaign begin to openly defy the government. Their efforts are well-coordinated and draw the attention of the media. It appears the nation is on the verge of civil war.

Meanwhile, Mark finds himself in a detainment camp which has been created specifically for homosexuals. Several of these camps have been established throughout the country in much the same manner as were Hitler’s extermination camps of Nazi Germany. The atrocities that Mark and the other prisoners face are unspeakable. Brutalized, tortured, starved, executed, sodomized, and repeatedly beaten—the prisoners are humiliated and degraded in every imaginable way.

In spite of the horrors Mark faces, he somehow manages to cling to the hope that freedom will prevail. He is an inspiration to his fellow prisoners, many of whom he watches suffer and die at the hands of camp’s sadistic overlords. Miraculously, Mark finds love in the midst of this Hell on Earth, and he manages to remain focused on his dream that America will one day return to its principles of liberty and the right to the pursuit of happiness for all its citizens.

Moral Authority is a heartbreaking story. It is a page-turner that is excruciating to read yet impossible to put down. The story itself is horrific, yet its message is profound. It is thought-provoking and terrifying in the sense that gives the reader pause—is it possible that we as a nation could fall victim to a system of imposed, legislated “morality” such as this?

The writing appears seasoned, and I was rather astonished that the work was written by a first-time, self-published author. The editing is fairly precise and highly professional. From a critical standpoint, large segments of the beginning chapters are told in passive voice. As the story progresses, the author begins to “show” much more than “tell”, however.

The plot was well-thought out; the historical and geographical references appeared to be well-researched. Most of the chronology seemed plausible to me, although I did have some questions as to exactly how we as a nation got from where we are today to a place that embraced fascism. Although I’m dying to read a sequel to this novel, I would also welcome a prequel. There was no explanation of what happened to the Democratic Party. Where were all the liberals when the country’s rights were being stripped? I find it hard to believe they would have stood idly by and allowed the nation to travel so quickly down this slippery slope.

In spite of the questions I have about the story’s premise, I found this to be a fascinating read. I was moved emotionally on more than one occasion, and I stayed up most of the night reading through to the end. I think this book is extremely powerful, and it is without hesitation that I recommend it highly.

I offer one caveat: The book may be disappointing to those who insist upon an HEA ending.

Reviewed By: Jeff

Lessons Learned from 9/11 and Jackson’s “The Lottery”

As the day concludes on this ten-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, I find myself at an unusual loss for words. The magnitude of the events on that day still baffle my mind, and the pain that continues to reverberate through the nation remains strong, rippling outward and touching us all. It makes me wonder if the nation will ever truly recover and if we won’t constantly keep one eye on the sky, waiting for the next terrorist attack.

Still to this day, we ask how such a thing could have happened. We contemplate what could have been done to prevent it. We hunted those down responsible, and we  have tried to make them pay. But will any of those things help the victims (we as the nation are those victims) still traumatized by the crime? For the criminal we truly seek isn’t a single person, or a group of revolutionaries, or a country. The true criminal is a tradition of hate and violence.

That is what we have to change.

When I think of the tradition of destruction this world and its nations have so far emblazoned on the skin of our planet, I am reminded of a short story called “The Lottery” written by Shirley Jackson and published in the late 1940′s. In this story, for those of you unfamiliar with its plot, an unassuming town in Somewhere, USA holds its annual lottery. Slips of paper from an old black box, which is battered and contains remnants of the original box used in the town’s first lottery, are drawn. The family that plucks the slip of paper with the black dot will produce the winner. When The Hutchinson family unfolds their paper and see the black dot, additional slips of paper are added to the box, one for each member of the family. Each family member must then draw from the box, and the one who drew the paper slip with the black dot is the winner. When the mother of the family, Tessie Hutchinson sees the black dot on her slip of paper, she begins screaming “It isn’t fair!” The town then converges on her and stones her to death.

Why did this happen? For the simple reason Jackson gave us in the story: “lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.” The town’s lottery is a sacrifice to the fertility gods, and the purpose of the lottery is to guarantee a bountiful harvest for the upcoming season. As then and still to this day, readers wonder why would Jackson write this story? What was her point?

For me, the point is quite simple. Jackson is comparing the barbaric tradition of stoning someone for the sake of a good harvest to traditions themselves that are hurtful and destructive. According to Jackson, such beliefs shouldn’t be allowed to exist. They should be changed. If not, then someday we will become the victim of hateful and destructive tradition. We march through life hurting others, through our actions and/or thoughts, and rarely give them a second thought. It’s time we all start thinking and start changing how we live and how we treat others in our family, in our neighborhoods to the cities and states and countries beyond our own personal spheres.

If we can do this as inhabitants of this planet, not just this country, then further hate and destruction like 9/11, the Nazi Concentration Camps, or the Spanish Inquisition, to name a few will never happen again.

We have all been given this same planet by God, or fate, or providence, or natural evolution (whichever you believe for it doesn’t really matter), and we need to treat each other with only love and nurturing if we intend to survive as a species.

Sometimes it takes a disaster like 9/11 to realize the true power of hate, which only begets more hate. While it may sound cliche and/or simplistic, the only thing that truly heals is love and hope for a better tomorrow.

9/11 Never Forget

9/11 Never Forget

 

Book Trailer for MORAL AUTHORITY

I’ve created a book trailer for my novel Moral Authority, thanks to the wonderful program that is called iMovie. What have I done without iMovie before this?!?! I’m beyond addicted. Likely, my addiction will be the subject of a future blog as friends and family members alike turn against me and run!

Anyway, here is the video. I hope you enjoy it!

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

A Review of Moral Authority

Review by Gerry Burnie (please click the link to see the full article on Gerry’s book review website)

“Moral Authority” [CreateSpace, August 2011] is author Jacob Z. Flores’ debut novel, and what a debut it is! Flores has conceived a dystopian plot every bit as prophetic and sinister as George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” except that in this case the unforgiving focus is on homosexuality as the ‘thoughtcrime’ and homosexuals as the prescribed enemies of ‘the common good’. Therefore, my hat goes off to him for having tackled (successfully in my opinion) a demanding literary challenge of this complexity so early in his career.

The story centres on Mark Bryon, a quite average graduate student who in ordinary circumstances wouldn’t attract any undue attention apart from being young and attractive. However these are not “ordinary” times when every move, both public and private, is subject to scrutiny by those who have voluntarily subjected themselves to a morally-incorrupt, corrupt state: i.e. “The Moral Authority.” Therefore, there is a very Orwellian tone throughout, including a ‘Big Brother’ in the person of Samuel Pleasant, ‘Newspeak,” and the subjugation of free thought.

There are also the usual twin pillars that form the basis of most fascist regimes, e.g. a simplistic reason for being, and a perceived enemy—both within and without. For example:

According to Randy Gonzales, over the past thirty-five years the United States managed to save itself from moral corruption because of the newest branch of our nation’s government. Since its inception by President Sarah Palin in 2014 and the constitutional amendment she and the Republican majority helped pass the following year, the moral downslide the country experienced then had not only been halted but come about at least 180 degrees. Gone were the days of media violence and pornography. All illegal drugs and associated crimes had been virtually eliminated. Murder, rape, gang violence, thefts, domestic crimes, prostitution, and even vandalism accounted for less than 10% of the overall crime rate in the entire nation. As a result, communities within the United States enjoyed a golden age. 14

And the perceive enemy:

Constitutional amendments and which all had their origins from within the Moral Authority, freed this country from such unhealthy lifestyle choices that caused many health and societal problems, such as homosexuality, obesity, smoking, alcoholism, and even profanity. To commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary, the Supreme High Chancellor of the Moral Authority, Samuel Pleasant, planned to address the nation the following week. Speculations already abounded that Supreme High Chancellor Pleasant intended to unveil further social legislation to better streamline this nation’s morality. This came about due to recent attacks against moral law instigated by a group of domestic terrorists calling themselves the Human Rights Campaign.  15 [Emphasis mine].

The story then builds on this theme, and as it progresses the plot gets darker and darker in very much the same fashion as totalitarian states rule by edict and the point of a gun. However, at no time does the author push any of this over the top so that credibility is strained. Even in the latter parts of the story when the Moral Authority’s “K3s” are at their cruelest (i.e KKK, the equivalent of the Nazi’s SS elite guard), the reader is never caused to doubt that it could happen.

Along the way, however, the author does make some cogent observations in the context of the narrative, i.e.

According to Mark’s research, the number of Americans cited with violations of the moral code of respect had risen in many major U.S. cities. The manpower and resources alone used to enforce such petty violations could be better redirected to rehabilitating offenders who committed more egregious crimes in the nation, 33

which is a point that applies beyond this fiction to real life. I might add, as well, that the hidden cost of every law—large or small—that is made and enforced is a diminution of our civil liberties. I think this is the message to be gained from this story.

On the other hand, I think I could be tempted to accept a law that restricted unruly children in restaurants, i.e.

The mother and father looked exhausted, and he could see why. Their two preschool aged boys were in the middle of a pretend sword fight with their chopsticks as stand in swords. Obviously, there were no moral officers here as the parents would certainly be in violation of the code of respect concerning the appropriate behavior of children in public. 35[Emphasis mine].

Altogether this is an engrossing story from beginning to end, a real page-turner and superbly written. I nominate Moral Authority byJacob Z. Flores as the most outstanding debut novel of the year. Five Stars.