Sunday, 29 July 2018

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell by Miski Harris - Pre-Release Post

110 pages
Release Date: August 8, 2018

Buy/Pre-order links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

This title will also be available through Kindle Unlimited

I’m delighted to welcome Miski Harris and her debut novel, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to my blog today and even happier she’s agreed to answer some questions for me. I hope you’ll enjoy this opportunity to get to know this author better and can’t thank her enough for taking the time and effort to satisfy my curiosity.


Welcome to The Way She Reads, Miski and congratulations on the release of your first book! I’m delighted you agreed to answer a few questions for me. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is eager to get to know you better. So, without further delay, let’s get started.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is your first novel. Has writing always been a dream of yours or is this something recent?

I started writing before I knew how to spell.  Laughing   Seriously though, when I was a child I used to write stories in marble composition books and up into my teen years had my own little library of sorts. One of them, the story of a girl who became a medical wizard and cured her ailing mother, made my mother cry when she read it. I used to dream that one day I would become a famous writer and hire a doctor who could cure my mom. I did become a nurse, but my mom was already gone.

When my mom died, someone took all my books and threw them in a barrel with the rest of our belongings, and they were destroyed.  I stopped collecting the notebook stories, but the dream stayed with me until I began to befriend, advise and beta for a few authors who encouraged me to give it a shot.

Could you tell us about your writing process? Are you a panster or a plotter? Do you set yourself writing goals or do you go with the flow?

The first time I heard those terms I had to look them up.  I would say I’m a combination of the two, so a planster (?). I start out with a planned sketch, but I let the characters fill in the details.  I’m not fast but when I am done the story says everything I want it to say.  I used this method all through college and it always worked well for me.

With Don’t Ask Don’t Tell I was inspired by events I watched unfold during my military career and after. Once I got started I learned what it means to have characters talk to you in your head.  Mine never shut up.  I’ve taken to carrying a small notebook in my pocket to jot things down.

I have developed a new element in my planning process – creation of a timeline.  Tricia Kristufek, my editor, and I had many, many discussions about the incongruity of my initial timeline.  So now, that element will forever be an essential part of my planning process.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

With Don’t Ask Don’t Tell I was inspired by events I watched unfold in the service and in the world as it related to servicemen in particular and the LGBTQ community in general.  I wanted to tell the stories of the hidden injuries no one ever brought up then back then. Without giving away too much, Clinton may have thought he was doing a good thing with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but he really made it worse. The homosexual men and women who served weren’t in the closet, they were shoved into a footlocker.  In the mental health community there is a saying. Secrets make you sick. For a serviceperson, these problems didn’t disappear even after discharge.

I am further inspired my aunt.  She was my best friend and my biggest supporter, and she was an out and proud lesbian when it was so much harder than it is today. She taught me to always be proud of who I am and what I do, not by telling but by showing me pride in action.  I like to think she is very proud of the woman I’ve become.

I    I don’t know a lot (if anything) about the military in general and the American armed forces specifically, but to me everything I read in your story felt authentic. Can you tell us where your knowledge comes from?

I was on active duty for eleven years.  My first taste of the military attitude toward homosexuality came during basic training, when a heterosexual girl in my flight confessed to being a lesbian so she could invalidate her enlistment and go home. Overnight they treated that girl like typhoid Mary.  I was interviewed for over an hour as to whether or not I (the Dorm Chief) witnessed any “kinky, mannish” mannerisms from her.  My Flight Chief didn’t believe her story, but she wouldn’t retract her claim. She was still there when we graduated and moved on.  I returned to the same base after technical training school and she was just then out processing.

To be clear, because I know this is a thing sometimes. I am heterosexual. I have, throughout my enlistment and life developed friendships and relationships with people whose stories, my own included, are represented in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Military service isn’t easy. Back then if you were different in any way it was tougher yet. I have a whole different level of respect for those men and women with whom I served as I shared and kept their secrets. I hope I have done them proud with EJ’s story.

Now that I’ve read your first book I can’t wait for what you may come up with next. So I’d love to hear what your writing plans for the future are.

As I was finishing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell a supporting character popped into my head demanding his story be told. So, my next book will be Collateral Damage and is the story of Jordan Washington, EJ’s friend. When we hit a target, we never consider the aftermath of the destruction. The damage is there just the same.

6   And finally, I wonder if your writing was inspired by (an) other author(s)? And, if yes, who may that be?

Oh yes. AJ Rose, Amy Wasp-Winberger, K.C Wells, Parker Williams and Edmond Manning. These people write the kind of stories that make you search the newspapers because you just know this is a true account of something that happened somewhere. I have such respect for the way these authors write that I have beta’d, advised and/or ARC read for them all. Each one has done something to set me on my current literary road and I really hope I ‘ve done them proud.

AJ Rose was the first to hear me dream-spin about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which I then called A Kiss from A Rose. Back then I was her military advisor on her apocalyptic story The Long Fall of Night.  Digging up all the things I knew and had experienced set a fire in me for my own story.  I told her about it and her advice was go for it.

Amy Wasp lived through every single word, rewrite by painful rewrite, from beginning to end. She got me to start the book by taking the NaNoWriMo challenge and freely gave me so many of the tools that I used to help me stay on track.

Before I release you again, here are a few quick-fire questions for you to answer so that we may get to know you a little better:

         Early bird or night owl? yes

  Sweet or Savoury? Both, ask my friends.

  Cats or Dogs? Dogs always. I am allergic to most cats, though I really want to meet Professor Waffles (Edmond Manning’s cat) and Punky (Parker Williams’ cat)

City or Countryside? Countryside girl at heart.

  Favourite season? Spring – It’s the time when the earth presses reset.

If you could anywhere in the world, where would you go? England, Australia, Greece and Venice are all on my bucket list.

Describe the perfect kiss in three words? Tender, passionate, consuming.

What is the most delightful word you can think of? Love – because it covers a multitude of ills.

  What is the first thing about someone you notice when you meet for the first time? Their eyes. Eyes reveal everything.

What is your favourite song?  In All My Wildest Dreams by Joe Sample.  I literally purchased the album just because of that song.

Thank you for those fascinating answers, Miski! Now, without further ado, let’s get on with the blurb and my review.


Staff Sargent Elijah Jackson, EJ to his friends, joined the Air Force hoping for refuge from the mess his life had become. For almost ten years he enjoyed new life, success, and love, in spite of the closet he was forced to hide in by the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy.  One day it all comes crashing down around him. Now he’s back home with serious decisions to make and a very short time to decide how to salvage his life while healing his heart.

Betrayed by his lover and partner, Dr. Dale Chenault left California and his fledgling practice behind. In Sayville, he’s found a home for his counseling service, and on the surface, seems to have his life in order. The truth is some of the decisions Dale made have become a stumbling block in his ability to rebuild the breach in his heart and by extension, his life. 

When Dale and EJ meet the chemistry between them is hot but the pain of past betrayals is strong, and trust seems impossible to build. Will they be able to move past what has been to create a future together?

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a story of love, trust, betrayal and second chances with an HEA.


Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a charming little story as well as a good, and at times disturbing look at how things used to be before DADT was withdrawn. It is also the tale of two men who have been burned by love in the past and slowly find their way towards trust again.

Poor EJ. While we are a good bit into the story before we find out what exactly happened to not only break his heart but also upset and derail all his plans for the future, it is clear from the start that he has been devastated. So much so that he can’t even bring himself to confide in his best friend or his always supportive parents. Dale’s heartbreak is less openly visible when we first meet him. It lies further in the past and at first he comes across as self-assured and confident.  But, his romantic history has left him cautious and wary of jumping in too soon.

It takes time, getting to know each other and discovering that their instant attraction doesn’t diminish over the weeks they spend together for the two men to see that they could be more than good friends. EJ opening up to Dale and explaining exactly what has happened to him is a pivotal point in their coming together, and a heartbreaking moment to read for the reader.

I liked that we had two not quite young men dealing with pain in a realistic and ultimately satisfying way. I found myself drawn to both men and rooting for them from the moment they first met. And to say their form of happily ever after left me with a huge smile on my face would be an understatement.

It was clear that the author knows her business when it comes to military/Air Force matters, and she managed to share her knowledge in such a way it was an integral part of the story rather than a lesson in all things military. I always enjoy learning new stuff while blissfully unaware I’m being taught anything.

Personally I wouldn’t have minded if the author had taken a bit more time/words with the aftermath of EJ and Dale starting their relationship. An awful lot happens there in what felt like only a few pages. But, that minor concern didn’t diminish my reading enjoyment or satisfaction when I finished the story at all.

I’m rather impressed with Misky Harris’s debut story and am eagerly awaiting what she may come up with next.

The Author

Miski Harris was born and raised in New York City with her younger brother and sister. She became and worked as a critical care nurse, served in the military, raised five amazing sons and traveled to other countries, sometimes, all at the same time. When Miski sets her mind to achieve something there is no force on earth that can stop her. 

Through all the organized chaos that has often defined her life her one constant has been her love of books. Reading has always been a mainstay in her life and she is rarely seen without her Nook on which she has reportedly downloaded over 2,000 books. A woman of boundless imagination, she has always desired to give life to the characters who maintained residence in her imagination. With that in mind, she has finally put pen in hand to fulfill a lifelong desire to write books of her own.

Ask anyone who knows Miski to use one word to describe her and they would say fierce. A prior military commander once defined her as a “tender warrior”. Friends, patients, and associates have always found a strong advocate in this woman who is not afraid to speak her mind.

Miski believes three things: challenge is just another word to define worlds to conquer and lines to cross; love and faith are the most powerful forces in the universe, and the only thing that hinders success is to fail to try. With that in mind, she invites you to join her in a world where love is second to nothing and life is the greatest adventure of all.

Miski can be found here: Facebook | Twitter

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