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Thursday 4 August 2016

☀ The Grass Sweeper God - Doug Howery

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for The Grass Sweeper God, an Historical Fiction novel by (, dhowerybook, 252 pages).

Don't miss our interview with author Doug Howery.

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below. Read the first two chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

The Grass Sweeper God is FREE on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owner's Lending Library.

Author Doug Howery will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.   Please do take part: comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).

Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops


Solitude, VA... Smiley Hanlon is placed in the "Mentally Retarded" Class... Because he is different...

Being different in America has never been easy; being born different and in the wrong body in Solitude, Virginia in the 1950’s, is brutal. Smiley Hanlon lives day to day trapped in a Coal Miners town, buffeted by the Appalachian’s and generations of hate and mistrust. Any hint of being different, or being a ‘Freak’ is enough to ostracize you, pigeon hole you and make you a target for bullying – or worse.

Backed by his best friend and protector, Lee Moore, Smiley made it through the days…until the night everything shattered. Chosen as the lead in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, it seemed to be the beginning to acceptance and maybe even happiness, but the world is cruel and mankind even crueler. The triumph of the play decayed into a Coal Miners version of “Carrie” culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that would change both Smiley and Lee, forever...

In the autumn of 1950, his father, Ted, viciously attacks precocious, effeminate 16-year-old Smiley Hanlon. Smiley, his friend, and Protector, Lee, keep the attack a secret. Because of their sexual identity, Lee and Smiley are banished from their family in Solitude, Virginia, and find refuge in New York...

Here they learn that prejudice is prejudice whether in the coal fields of Virginia or on the streets of NYC. Smiley suffers at the hands of his real mother who is a religious zealot. She tries to change who Smiley is because he is a boil on the body of Christ. Lee suffers at the hands of psychologists who practice Aversion Therapy-electric shock treatment to cure his homosexuality.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Both Smiley and Lee become forces of change as do countless others. In 1969, Smiley Hanlon and his friend, Lee emerge as leaders of a gay revolution, the historical Stonewall Riots. The riots are vicious but the real battle will be won or lost on another continent: Solitude, Virginia.

This is their story and the story of so many others who suffered under the psychology of the day that their sexual identity is a sickness...

The Grass Sweeper God is a force of nature that flows through all things...straightens out that which is bent...which is sick...

Teaser: Excerpt

Chapter Two

     Madam Luna: Celestial Fortune Teller, Spiritual Advisor, Psychic and Conjurer of Bad and Good Fortune. The circus had come to the fairgrounds and later, Solitude’s Main Street would swell. People would line Main Street and scurry about in a trance-like state, like they had been put under an ancient spell cast by a conjurer. Elephants, giraffes, zebras, and lions from Africa would parade down Main Street, and people would be entranced. Clowns, fire breathers, bearded ladies, conjoined twins, along with every other human oddity would demand an audience without the sense of judgment, but instead bewilderment. Madam Luna would work her magic, conjuring up spirits, and for every conjure bad bequeathed good. It was how the heavens aligned by balancing the space and time in which bad and good thrived. To conjure up the spirits, to conjure up forces beyond mortal expectation, was to play with the fire of the gods. And she was a fire breather. Those that requested a conjurer’s service always paid the price because people’s nature was to want bad to happen to others. There was always a price to pay for such a request. Madam Luna believed in the adage: We reap what we sow. This was part of the unspoken conjure.
      Everyone expected Madam Luna could conjure. The mystic environment the tent provided clinched the deal. The tent felt larger-than-life because the universe glowed and twinkled against the black top. The goddess-embossed, gold-colored turban sat high on Madam Luna’s head. It was adorned with a carved silver medallion depicting the Asian eight-armed temple goddess of farming. Her hair flowed from the turban like lava flowing to the floor of the sea. Bangs outlined her forehead. All this pageantry reflected in the crystal ball.
      It all made for pomp and circumstance that spoke of a parallel universe that Madam Luna could conjurer up. If one wanted bad conjured up, one would have to give up something good. That is to say, one would have to pay back a bad fortune request at the expense of good. And that payment was a steep price to pay because in a parallel universe bad and good rode together and did not intersect. Bad was bad, and families were destroyed because people are naturally bad-spirited. Not much good came out of bad and if it did, it was in another galaxy. Madam Luna warned those of the risk for playing with the fire of the gods, for the conjuring. If one still went through with it, which most did, well, Madam Luna expected payment in full, which had made her a very rich and revered conjurer. To play in Madam Luna’s realm was to play the lottery and most played the odds. The believers believed because the bad would keep coming if Madam Luna didn’t receive the payment due. This was all made possible by the Great Madam Luna of the Circus Del Sol: the largest stage on earth.
      Smiley and Lee hitched their horses outside the tent. Madam Luna directed them to sit at her fortune table. “Madam Luna, what is the Grass Sweeper God?” Smiley asked. Smiley looked for surprise, maybe even incredulousness. The woman sitting opposite Smiley did not flinch, did not pull an uncomfortable stare. Madam Luna would not crack so easily. Lee and Smiley stared at the universe glowing above their heads. It appeared to be the Milky Way moving across a dusty white, foggy and black universe backdrop. Planets rotated around the sun. The rings of Saturn morphed into rainbow colors while spinning in synch with the whole universe above their heads.
      “Do you, Smiley Hanlon, want to be a girl?”
      “Not in this universe.”
      Smiley had forgotten all about his question. Did she just ask me if I wanted to be a girl?
      “In Shakespeare’s time, men played the parts of women. But that was hundreds of years ago, a time when women weren’t allowed to act. You live here in the Bible Belt. Why do you want to play the part of Dorothy?”
      “Because it’s a start, ain’t it?”
      “Fair enough,” Madam Luna replied. “I have three cards here. One represents the present, one the past and one the future. Turn one over.”
      Smiley turned over the future card. “I shall begin. The future is not for you. Not for you to know. You will spend your life trying to change the future if you know the future. You cannot change who you are. This is your future now with the Circus Del Sol and the opera house. How does that sound to you?”
      “You actually want me? You think I can be a part of something?”
      You have a force, meaning God. Grass and sweeper represent Mother Earth. It can be destructive, but it can be enlightened by growth and change. Always remember; bad follows good. Good must manipulate bad. It is your future; you are the future. Now on to business. Mr. Drover, the owner and ring master was impressed with your reading today. Let’s be honest. He deals in the exotic and the different. He feels you’re both. But the play is always controversial in every small town we show in. The bearded lady gives comedic relief to the coarseness of the story line. You will change that effect. So we have to be careful. We don’t want too much controversy. Just enough curiosity, which translates to cash. We are a business and Solitude Coal is our cash cow along with you, Dorothy.”
      Smiley noticed the newspaper lying on Madam Luna’s fortune table with a cartoon caricature of a coal baron with a wheelbarrow full of cash. He was depositing the cash into the local Solitude bank. Smiley cleared his voice, “Not so fast, Ms., I mean Madam Luna. I know what being a cash cow means. You don’t get me for free. I help run a bar, a juke-joint where cash is king. I want a conjure. I want the future changed.”
      “You, young man, do not understand such a request. You will pay for the bad you bequeath. Nothing is free in this world. Don’t trade your soul. You do want something bad to happen to someone, do you not?”
      “You betcha. I want my aunt to be happy. In order for her to be happy, you’re right, something bad needs to happen. Bad, good, who gives a shit. Make it happen, make her husband, Ted, die or you don’t get me.”
      Madam Luna began. She stood over Smiley. She arched her head back, closed her eyes and laid her open palmed hand on Smiley’s forehead. “Through the powers invested in me, through the poison that surges through this young man’s veins, I bequest on the part of Dorothy, the eternal soul of Ted to hell.” She opened her eyes, “Save this young man’s soul.” She released one hand from Smiley’s forehead and threw the other hand forward. A pop sounded. Then smoke and fire shot up from the ground. In the swirl of smoke and fire Madam Luna screamed, “Get the back to hell, pissy demon that is the earthly form of Ted. Ye shall not come for this innocent life, but take that of Ted’s. The spell is complete, the curse conjured. It is conjoined to two lives, Ted and Dorothy, blood of blood.”

* * *

The Grass Sweeper God
Available NOW!

purchase from purchase from find on Goodreads

About the Author

DOUG HOWERY has been writing both fiction and essays since 1990. His essays and familial stories have appeared in The Blue Ridge Lambda Press.   In many of his stories, as in "The Grass Sweeper God," Mr. Howery's true lode, his font of inspiration is in the passion and suffering he has experienced.  Author, Doug Howery penned the novel with insight into his own struggle for sexual identity and personal tragedy.

His mother committed suicide in 1982, blaming her two sons' sexual identity in a letter and declaring herself a martyr for intolerance and social bigotry. She referred to her own sons as "Gutter Rats that Could Rot in Hell" and represents the hate and mistrust that have plagued society.

Suspense author, Maggie Grace, with the North Carolina Writers' Network writes about her cohort Mr. Howery:
"What I like is the riskiness, the cutting edge of the narrative voice we hear. The moments when he lapses into descriptions of the moon, of the horse, etc. are true poetry that offers some relief from the coarseness of the story, and he places them well. He has an ear for the rhythm of the story, a natural sense of when to end--hangs fire with a new way of looking at someone or something, turning the entire chapter on its ear. I like the way he makes it impossible for the reader to stop reading at the end of the chapter."

Mr. Howery lives in Virginia with his partner of 34 years where he is at work on his next novel.

Follow Doug Howery:

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Giveaway and Tour Stops

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway
Remember to comment to win!
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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Doug Howery said...

Good morning & thanks for hosting me. I look forward to the experience of Q & A. Many thanks.

James Robert said...

Thanks so much for the opportunity you have given us to win

Doug Howery said...

Good luck to all contestants especially if you win the paperback version of the book. The book cover was designed by Mario Sanchez Nevado of Spain. It represents Chapter Two; the last scene. The young man is half naked because of a brutal attack. The woman in the background (Permelia Corn) is a fire goddess. The whip-like cord between the young man & woman represents an umbilical cord.
Read Chapter Two & you will know what the book cover is all about.

BooksChatter said...

Hello Doug,

thank you for popping by and for the info.

I am just in the process of adding a few images - including some relating to the creation of your wonderful cover :-)

I was fascinated by the name Permelia Corn and was wondering if this is the grave that inspired that name


BooksChatter said...

BTW I don't recognise the name Sam Houston, other than the Texan politician/soldier. Is that who you were referring to?

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing the teaser, I enjoyed reading it.

MomJane said...

What an great sounding story.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed the excerpt.

Doug Howery said...

Thank you so much for adding the photos/visuals. Great job & very appreciated! I am awestruck!! What a great experience here @ Bookschatter.
I went to the grave web site & could not find what you were referring to as far as where the graveyard is. But, I can give you the name of the place where the graveyard actually is located. It is called, Goblintown Church in Elamsville, Virginia. Here is the actual graveyard web address with Permelia's actual tombstone pic shown along with her date of birth, death, etc:
Oh yeah, I got the name Sam Houston wrong. I meant to say Sam Elliot; oops.

Doug Howery said...

I put in the same web address that you had given me above, sorry. I can get to the graveyard by putting in Goblintown Primitive Baptist Church & then put in Permelia Corn. Pics and an abundance of info. comes up.

Doug Howery said...

Many thanks. I hope you get to read it someday.

Doug Howery said...

Thank you!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

BooksChatter said...

Hi Dough - yes, same grave and website. Funnily enough I even found a picture of that lady :-) I love that kind of thing!

I will sort out Sam Elliot shortly :-)

I hope you have a great tour and I will make sure to put your book on my TRL... which at the moment is very unloved due to time restrictions :-(

Have a great week end,


James Robert said...

Everyone have a terrific Sunday and thank you for this giveaway

James Robert said...

Thanks so much for all the work you put into bringing us such great giveaways. Have an awesome Sunday and Thank You!