Guest Blog for the amazing Brandon Shire

Allen was privileged and excited to offer a guest blog for the website of the talented and amazing writer Brandon Shire. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet here is the link


Tennessee and SB2566, a State of Hate

SB2566 is a gateway bill that if passed will lead to the arbitrary discrimination of anyone deemed in opposition of a person’s self-defined “sincerely held religious beliefs.”   How is a “sincerely held religious belief” proved? What defines a “sincerely held religious belief”?

The argument that practicing discrimination is a constitutionally protected free exercise of religion itself redefines what the practice of religion is. The Establishment Clause in the United States Constitution bars government sanction or preference of a religion, yet the legislation of the state of Tennessee has chosen to impose a religion and a religious belief upon its citizens regardless of what a citizen might believe. Churches are already allowed to practice discrimination within their churches by barring gay citizens from their sanctuaries. There is a vast difference in a business with state and local business licenses and a church. No individual Tennessean has been barred from entering their place of worship or prevented from praying in their churches or their homes or even in their businesses. To say that religious freedom is threatened if religious people are not allowed to persecute citizens who may be gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered sets a precedence that will lead to violence against a community sanctioned by elected state officials.

So I ask: where will you draw the line?

Gay couples? Interracial couples? Unmarried moms? Muslims? Adulterers? Anyone who doesn’t believe the same as you?

Stop this bill!


Allen Renfro talks about his brand new novel Bridge Water


Bridge Water was inspired by a street sign I pass every day. As I waited for the traffic light to change to green I would think about the name of the street and what I could do with that name. From those basic thoughts came the novel Bridge Water. Inspiration I believe can come from something most of us ignore, like the name of a street. It can come from anything. It's probably the reason none of us can clearly explain where ideas come from. I just hope they keep coming.


What is a stereotype really? It's a classification that someone has created. I think that in the most generic sense of the word all of us are a stereotype of some persuasion. Even being popular could be considered a stereotype. It can't be denied that many people want to be "popular" as defined by society whether that is by being a pro athlete, a celebrity, or simply beautiful, beautiful being defined by pop culture.

I don't think I purposely set out to break or redefine a stereotype, even though I know that I have done so. I write as if stereotypes, as we believe to them to be, don't exist. A character can be a "stereotype" and be the most fascinating character I've ever written.


I'm head over heels in love with all the characters of Bridge Water. I think these are the most genuine characters I've ever written. They are annoying; they are funny; they are eccentric; they are passionate; they are human.

Favorite Character…

I think the character Laylay brings a fresh, humorous perspective to Bridge Water but it's the interaction between characters that make me love them or hate them. Derek is someone I think everyone will empathize with.


I've always been drawn to murder mysteries and quirky characters and I'm a sap for love stories too. I wanted to show how even detectives investigating a murder still have a life, that life goes on whether they like it or not. In many ways I wanted to show how they treat solving a brutal murder as simply their job no matter how passionate they are about it.

In the closet...

Coming out is an ongoing process and can be something that happens on a daily basis. Simply by living your life as a GLBT person you could be coming out every day to someone new. The character of Derek is no different. Just because his fellow cops may not know he's gay doesn't mean that his family and friends don't know. It's that line he's walking and the outcome I think makes for a riveting story.

The future…

Several more books are in the works including the third in The Morrelini Chronicles. And yes some of the characters of Bridge Water will be reappearing in future novels though Bridge Water is not a series. It is a stand-alone novel with an ending that I love. I'm so excited about Bridge Water and looking forward to many more novels in the future!


Ross A McCoubrey, One Boy's Shadow, the nearly perfect novel

Very few books in my lifetime have had me racing home from school, work or hurrying up with chores to return to the world the author created. SE Hinton's The Outsiders and Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat are two novels that immediately come to mind. Now I can add another novel to that list, Ross A. McCoubrey's One Boy's Shadow.  The author has written what may be close to the perfect novel.

Whenever I had to put the novel aside because the real world got in the way I found myself thinking about the main character Caleb constantly and I was anxious to know what was going to happen to him. Ross weaves a compelling story of mystery, of the supernatural and of young love in such an engrossing way that I did not want the story to end. I feel like I know Caleb, his dreams, his anxieties, his desires. I guess you could say I fell in love with him as I expect every reader has.

The story kicks off with Caleb and his older brother Blake, both in their teens, dealing with the potential drama of moving from the city to the country because of their father's new job. Immediately we see that both brothers have a maturity beyond their years and support their parents' decision. Blake, the ever supportive older brother, senses something special, something different about his younger brother Caleb and encourages Caleb to be open about anything on his mind. In the first few chapters we see a strong family working together to build a better future for them all, and all are willing to sacrifice something for the greater good. It's this bond we see over and over again throughout the novel and only strengthens the personalities of the characters. The family finds a wonderful, too good to be true home in the small country town of Stapeton, and they begin to settle in to their new lives. The brothers prepare for the trauma of going to a new school and making friends and fitting in when almost out of the blue Caleb meets Shane…

Shane tells Caleb a story about their community and a missing boy from the 1940s. Caleb listens with great interest, more because of his attraction to Shane, but in the end it's just a myth, spooky stories to tell late at night... Or is it?

As the story unfolds I was on the edge of my seat anxious to find out what happened to the missing boy. It's the perfect novel to curl up with on cold, dark rainy nights but make no mistake, beyond the brilliant mystery and the vivid, strong characters this is a story about love and acceptance.

There are so many things I want to say about this novel, so many things that excited me but I don't want to give anything away. I want everyone to have the experience that I had. I don't think I can describe this book fairly. It is beautiful, it is scary, it is thrilling, it is mysterious, it is tragic, it is powerful. Scenes are written with such lush detail that you feel you are there among the characters. And when the truth is revealed I was both stunned and amazed.

From scary walks in the woods and whispered names drifting out of the wind to school dances and falling in love, it is a novel of literature that I will return to frequently for inspiration. One Boy's Shadow touched me in a way no other novel has and I will be forever grateful for the reward of reading this literary treasure.


Bad Reviews, it isn't the end of the world

To all my author friends who may be feeling down about a bad review I'd like to offer some advice. Go to and search some of the hottest books around classic or new, 50 Shades of Grey, The Davinci Code, Interview with The Vampire, and read some of the scathing reviews. Believe me there are plenty. It helps me remember that some people simply won't like your work, whether it be subject matter or writing style and there are some (perhaps people you even know) who just want to criticize you and have the opportunity through a negative review. Chin up fellow writers, even the biggest selling authors in the world get stung every once in a while if not every day!

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