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

Top 5 Most Challenged LGBT Themed Books

Banned Book Week (September 24-October 1 2011) has just concluded, and as an English professor, the concept of banning books baffles my mind. Literature is meant to be an exploration, a journey into worlds, experiences, and ideas we might never experience in our lives. Reading is meant to broaden our horizons, to teach us lessons about love and to inspire growth as a person and as a species.

How can growth be accomplished when groups or organizations exist that constantly attempt to weed out the ideas they don’t want shared with the world?

No one person or group should be allowed that much power, for reading is knowledge and knowledge is power. By attempting to ban books, those groups are endeavoring to keep individuals ignorant, to keep growth stunted to another’s concept of morality. Those people are like a gardner attempting to prune a bonsai tree, to keep it small and weak by clipping this idea or whittling that thought from the collective garden of society.

Libraries are for everyone and should represent the multitudes. When a book is banned, a subset of our societal make up is also lopped off.

Banning books, for any reason, just should not be allowed. If those who ban books had their way, many classics we enjoy, such as The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (challenged because of language and sexual references), The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (challenged for being “anti-white” and containing vulgarity and sex), or The Color Purple by Alice Walker (challenged for  depictions of race relations, African history, vulgarity, and explicit sexual encounters) would never have found a place among the shelves or in our hearts.

If you look closely as to why books are challenged/banned, it’s because they deal with real life situations–sex, vulgarity, race relations, and minority topics–that make the supposed moral “majority” uncomfortable, that threaten their strangle hold onto power. Consider this: why do you think slave owners didn’t want their slaves to read or be educated? It wasn’t because it was too expensive or not worthwhile. It’s because education is power. It’s because once a group learns of the persecutions being heaped upon them, then they demand and clamor for change. So those who attempt to ban books today, under the guise of protecting their children, are really using the ploy to foster ignorance and keep the down trodden down.

This is why I believe many LGBT-themed books are challenged today. It’s not merely because of the “sex” or “vulgarity.” It’s because LGBT-themed books challenge the status quo. They show gay and/or lesbian characters as real people dealing with difficult situations of coming out, questioning their identity, or overcoming obstacles that are universal in nature. These conflicts make homosexuals more human and more like everyone else and not the other many people would like to see us as.

To prove my point, let’s take a look at some of the most challenged LGBT themed books.

And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three

#1 And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole and published by Simon and Schuster.

This children’s book is challenged because it is pro-homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group. Here is what the story is actually about. It’s about two real life penguins from Central Park Zoo in NYC, who nested together and tried to hatch a rock. Zookeepers decided to give the partnered male penguins an egg from a male/female pairing of penguins who had one too many. Had the zoo not done so, one of the eggs would have been sacrificed and would have died. Instead, by giving the extra egg to the two male penguins, the chick hatched and was nurtured and raised by their loving fathers.

This book is hardly anti-family since it is all about family. In fact, the book’s message seems more pro-life to me, and I thought that was one societal issue most conservative Christians supported. Are they saying it’s better for chicks (or children) to die or be cast off than to be raised by homosexual parents? Now, that story seems more anti-family and unsuited for a child’s age group to me!

Daddy's Roommate

Daddy's Roommate

Heather Has Two Mommies

Heather Has Two Mommies

#2 Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite and #3 Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman. Both books published by Alyson Books

These children’s books are challenged because they involve characters engaged in same-sex relationships. These two books depict how two different children are raised by same-gender parents. The lives these families lead are ordinary. They do household chores, they argue, and they spend time as a family–all very typical and mundane aspects of every single family. The only difference is the same-gendered parents. The moral of these stories is to show everyone that a family is a family, no matter what the family dynamics. The only universal tie is the love that brings the family together.

I can’t help but feel as if that is precisely the reason these two books are challenged. Remember my comment earlier about the slave owners keeping their slaves ignorant. Well, the same idea applies here. The conservative Christians don’t want people to realize that homosexuals are not only capable parents but that there is no distinction whatsever between homosexual and heterosexual parents beyond the gender of the adults.

King & King

King & King

#4 King and King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland and published by Tricyle Press (previously published in the Netherlands)

This young children’s book was also challenged because of its homosexual content. What’s intriguing about this book’s challenge, however, is that the couple who sought to ban it did it to keep children from having to worry about “homosexuality, race, or religion.” Their attempted ban though increased the circulation of the book in their library and in their township. All of this over a twist on the classic fairy tale. The Queen wants her son to marry, so she can retire. The Prince doesn’t like the princesses brought to him until he meets one of the princesses’ brothers. The two fall in love and marry, and the Queen gets to retire while the two Kings take care of the country and the retired Queen.

The homosexual content that is apparently objectionable–since there are no graphic sex scenes or vulgarity–is the love shown between two boys. The boys do nothing wrong in the story. They obey their families, and they get married. They even take care of the grouchy mom, who gets to sit poolside and sun. No one is abandoned, and the responsibilities of the kingdom are met. Unless taking care of family, falling in love, and fulfilling responsibilities are objectionable, I just don’t see how this story differs all that much from “Cinderella” or “Sleeping Beauty.”

Baby Be Bop

Baby Be Bop

#5 Baby Be Bop by Francesca Lia Block and published by HarperCollins

This young adult book is challenged for explicit language and promoting the homosexual agenda. It’s about a young boy’s struggle with his sexual identity, a common theme of today. The protagonist falls in love (which is unrequited), is beaten to near death by bullies, but learns that true love comes to us all.

Obviously, this is a book children, who suffer from extensive bullying in the school system, shouldn’t read! Why should children who might be different not learn that it gets better, that love is waiting in the wings, and that family will (and should) always be there when we need them?

When a rational person, who doesn’t carry the repressive yoke of hate or fear around their necks, looks at these books, he/she can see these books are about love, family, and acceptance–all integral values to a society. These ideas shouldn’t be banned anymore than the Bible or the Koran. All books teach valuable lessons, and it is an individual’s right to choose for him/herself what book to read.

No one should do that for us!

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.