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Author Q&A + $25 GC #Giveaway | THE GRASS SWEEPER GOD by Doug Howery | @GoddessFish & @dhowery1 Present #HistoricalFiction

Goddess Fish Promotions has organized a virtual book tour for THE GRASS SWEEPER GOD by Doug Howery, a historical fiction available now. Ple...

Goddess Fish Promotions has organized a virtual book tour for THE GRASS SWEEPER GOD by Doug Howery, a historical fiction available now. Please enjoy my interview with the author and an excerpt from the book.

Be sure to follow the tour and comment. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. Click on the banner below to see additional stops on the tour.

The Grass Sweeper God
by Doug Howery


GENRE: Historical Fiction



Sixteen-year-old Smiley Hanlon is a young woman tethered to a young man's body.  In the 1950's Appalachia coal fields of Solitude, Virginia, Smiley is placed in the "Mentally Retarded Class" because he is effeminate and wears a blouse and saddle shoes to school. 

Smiley is backed by his best friend, Lee Moore who protects Smiley from a father and many townspeople who hate him.  Smiley has dreams of becoming an entertainer.  Raised by his aunt in a juke joint, as a child Smiley sings and dances on the Formica bar top into the wee hours.  Chosen as the female lead, Dorothy, in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, his dream is being realized.  The triumph of the play and his dream is sabotaged by his father and classmate bullies culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that changes both Smiley and Lee, forever.

Smiley and Lee flee to NYC.  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. 

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



Lettie sat on the twin bed with the gun and the letter in her lap.  She noticed Brac’s graduation picture sitting on the nightstand.  She turned it face down.  She placed the love letter from Brac’s lover on top of his graduation picture.  She placed Ted’s bankbook, her letter to Ted, her cat-eyeglasses and dentures beside Brac’s turned-down picture.  She lay down on the bed.  She stretched out and placed the gun at her side and stared at the ceiling.  She thought about her children.  She had never owned them, never owned herself, and now they could choose their own road in life.  But she could choose when to exit this world and how.  She had to get out of her head, out of her heart.  Tears like the mistakes she had made in life flowed down her face.  She put the gun under her ribs and pulled the trigger.



Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

The intended audience is mainstream America.  The book has been pigeonholed as LGBT; furthest from reality.  The story is about how we raise our children and accepting our children for who and what they are.

It is an important story because it is true expect for the parts that aren’t.  It is historical in nature; The Gay Stonewall Riots of 1969.  Two rural young men bring about social change.  It is topical to today’s headlines; Transgender & LGBT discrimination laws.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

My title for The Grass Sweeper God came from a book I read over 20 years ago.  It was a book about the native Indian culture.  I think part of the title was Grass Sweeper.  Indian culture worshiped mother nature and, I love pagan culture.  So, I made my title sound like the God of mother nature.  What is earthier than, “Grass Sweeper?”

Also, the title is fully explained by page 3 since I knew that people (readers) would want to know:

Book Title Excerpt Example: “The Grass Sweeper God is a force that flows through all things,” the Indian, Carr, had instructed.  “Have you ever stood in a meadow and watched as the wind whips the grass?  Listen closely and you can hear harps—angel’s wings unfold, or the drumbeat—that is the devil.”  The Indian seem to float over concrete angels in a graveyard as his last words trailed into the starry sky, “You are a force, a warrior.”  The angel’s wings unfolded upward and she spoke through a translucent light: “Jesus resurrected from the gutter.  You can see the stars from the gutter.  Your mother, like Jesus’ mother, stays behind and starts cleaning up the mess.”

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular artwork?

My cover art was designed by Mario Sanchez Nevado from Spain.  I went with that particular image/artwork because it represents an actual scene in my book.  I worked with Mario by sending him the scene.  I explained that I wanted the young man at the tombstone with an umbilical cord attached to a woman figure.  And the rest was history.  Oh yeah, the young man is an actual model that Mario used for the cover art.  His creations are breathtaking @   Check them out!  He is great to work with.  

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Permelia Corn, Alas Smiley Hanlon is my favorite character from the book.  Because he and then she was so taxing to create.  I had to create a young boy growing into a young man growing into a young woman…imagine?  To wrap my brain around that concept required much research and required me to walk a mile in transgender people’s shoes.  This character suffered even more so than today because the setting of the book is the 1950s through 1969.  When I actually wrote the full mental transformation from young man to young woman, I knew I had a fully fleshed out character:

See following Book Excerpt:

Permelia had spoken to him through the Grass Sweeper God that horrible night that seemed like a lifetime ago.  Looking back at Smiley in the mirror now was Permelia Corn.  He had carried her with him all the way to New York.  Smiley said to the face in the mirror, “Permelia Corn, not the faggot, Smiley, that Solitude had beat down.  I will never again refer, or even think of myself as a man, as Smiley.”  Permelia kissed the mirror, leaving red lip impressions smudged on the mirror.  She wrote her name: Permelia Corn in bright red lipstick above her lip impressions.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

My least favorite character is based upon my father, Ted, in the book.  I made him the antagonist because in real life, his fatherly characteristics were lacking.  But, I learned through fleshing out this character that he did the best he could with what he knew.  He didn’t have much love in his early life; he did not know how to love his wife or children.  It was cathartic for me.  I learned that I judged him too harshly through the years.  I learned that I am my father’s son.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

Good question, thank you.  I have often asked myself that.  I worked on this novel for 10 to 20 years before publishing it.  So, much was changed through paid professional editing (5 or more professional edits) etc.  I can’t think of anything I would change; not after all the aforementioned.  I was torn at one time or another to tone down the harshness of the storyline, but that would have taken away from the hard story that it is.  It is a hard story to read, not because it is poorly written, but as an Amazon reviewer wrote:  

By Heather G TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
“The Grass Sweeper God” is a hard book to read, harder still to imagine someone living it. Ripped from the heart of what can only be an echo of personal experience and pain, this account speaks of unsinkable souls, lost identities and struggling to be who you are meant to be.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Never give up.  Suffer the rejection until you just can’t stand it anymore.  And then you pick yourself up, dust off the negativity and publish it yourself.  It so easy to do just that these days.  Don’t be a hostage to traditional publishing.  Vanity publishing is not a “bad thing” these days.  If you write it and it is good, they will come!

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you for allowing me the time and opportunity to speak about my writing to you and your audience.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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.




Doug Howery will be awarding a $25.00 Amazon GC and an autographed copy of the book to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please note geographical restrictions apply. United States only for the physical prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Who are some of your favorite authors; what strikes you about their work?

  2. Really great post, I enjoyed reading the interview and excerpt. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Congrats on the tour and I enjoyed the interview.

  4. Enjoyed the interview.

  5. Sounds like a great read. Love the cover.

  6. I really enjoyed reading the entire post, thank you!

  7. Good Sunday Morning to you and thanking you once again for the opportunity you've given us to win.

  8. Hope you had an awesome weekend. Let's keep it positive as we start the week by saying it's gonna be a great one for all.. Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Thanks for the chance at winning, you're awesome! Enjoy your day and have fun!

  10. Good morning and thank you for brimging us this great giveaway

  11. It's Friday! We made it through another week and looking forward to the weekend. Have a great day and thanks for the giveaway

  12. Wishing everyone a great weekend with lots of fun. Thanks for the giveaway as well.

  13. Hey! Hope you have a good Monday and thank you for the chance at winning.

  14. Have a Happy Tuesday and thank you for the opportunity at winning!

  15. Happy Hump Day! Time is flying by but wanting to say thank you for the giveaway

  16. Good Morning! I am back to say thank you once again for the chance to win.

  17. It's that day so many of us look forward to...Friday! Have a good one and thank you for the chance at winning

  18. I will be working all weekend but wishing you all a terrific one. Thanks once again for the great giveaway

  19. Happy Monday and thank you once again for a terrific giveaway.

  20. Rainy morning here in Michigan. Hope your day is bright and sunny! Thanks again for a great giveaway

  21. Happy Wednesday! Thanks so much for the terrific giveaway and all the work put into bringing it to us. Not sure if you all are appreciated as you should be because from what I read, it is very time consuming and a lot of work put into doing this for us. Thank you so much!

  22. Have a great day and thank you for the great giveaway

  23. Happy Friday and stopping by to say thank you for giving us this opportunity to win

  24. Oh, my gosh. I have all of these thoughts spilling out, about this and that... About how greatly I admire Mr. Howery, for so many reasons. That the very first thing he said in response to the first interview question was a matter-of-fact "The intended audience is mainstream America" is, frankly, awesome to me. His advice for aspiring (and likely frustrated!) writers, too, is awesome.

    But it just occurred to me now: I think that I might know what book Mr. Howery was referring to, when asked where he got the inspiration for the title of this book. ...I think that it might be "The Grass Dancer" by Susan Power, published in 1995. I read it for a class in high school, and recall enjoying it quite a lot.



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