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Picture Book Review: Five Funny Tummy Men, by Jean Reed

The Dark Phantom Review

Why does your tummy ache? Why does it make noises? What happens in your stomach after you eat? Why should you eat slowly?

In this educational picture book, the author answers these questions and more, describing the “five tummy men” that inhabit our stomachs and their specific jobs:

Mr. Boss, the one in charge

Mr. Swallow, catcher of food

Mr. Grinder, most happy when you chew well

Mr. Piler, sorter of nutrients into piles for different parts of your body

Mr. Deliveryman, carrier of piles to your body

FIVE FUNNY TUMMY MEN encourages dialogue between children and adults, making it a good resource for class or homeschooling discussions. Children are told to eat healthy and chew well and not snack a lot between meals, and in a simple, clear and friendly manner this cute little book explains exactly why. Recommend for readers 4-8. A multicultural edition of the book is…

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‘Somebody Else’s Troubles,’ by J.A. English

Somebody Else’s Troubles by J.A. English 

Published by Zimbell House

An inventive, intriguing, and extraordinarily thought-provoking tale, Somebody Else’s Troubles centers on a titillating question: who among us hasn’t dreamed of walking to the corner store and simply disappearing?

About Somebody Else’s Troubles:  Ohio businessman Travers Landeman has plenty of troubles. Between a marriage that is loveless at best, a hateful, greedy, self-consumed wife, and a family business changing in unexpected and unwelcome ways, Travers copes in the best way he knows how: by making a conscious effort not to think.  But when his teenage nephew, Matthew Calkins, reaches out to him for help, Travers turns away. When his inaction causes unspeakable guilt, Travers fakes his death on the Caribbean Island of Mabuhay, an act that sets into motion a most unusual series of events—events that will bond together a most unusual cadre of people.

Years pass and it appears that Travers, now settled in to a new life with a new family and a new name, has gotten away with it.  Or has he?

The Atlantis Fidelity Insurance Company hires Albert Sydney McNab to bring Travers back to Ohio. But McNab, a bumbling, sore-footed, ne’er-do-well with a litany of failed careers—waiter, bus driver, door-to-door salesman—is surprisingly somehow hot on Travers’ trail.

Chicago bookseller Joe Rogers leads a group of amateur archaeologists to Mabuhay. Dealt a fistful of trouble when he acquired Chicago’s oldest bookstore, The Yellow Harp, Joe Rogers has a penchant for vodka, an abject ineptitude for following orders, and an abundance of useless knowledge. But at a dig site in Mabuhay, Rogers discovers an ancient treasure—a jeweled mask. Will Joe, who has his own axe to grind with Atlantis Fidelity Insurance, step off the sidelines and get back in the game?

Esmerelda McNab, United Nations Ambassador of the UN’s newest member nation, the Commonwealth of Mabuhay, has her own set of troubles—protestors who denounce her part in the sale of the mask that Joe Rogers discovered as “cultural genocide.”

Do love, peace, and redemption even exist on Mabuhay?  Or are somebody else’s troubles just that?

A brilliantly-rendered tale, Somebody Else’s Troubles takes readers on an unforgettable journey spanning from the streets of Chicago’s gritty Austin neighborhood to the remote island paradise of Mabuhay.  Resplendent with richly-drawn characters that spring to life in the novel’s pages, Somebody Else’s Troubles is peppered with wit and subtle humor. Novelist J.A. English delivers a clever, captivating, smart, seamless story replete with fascinating historical detail and literary allusion.   A beautifully written literary novel about escape and inertia, action and inaction, faith and doubt, and finding home—and hope—in the unlikeliest of places, Somebody Else’s Troubles is destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.

About the author:

A proud native of Paterson, New Jersey, J.A. English came of age in Mexico City, Mexico. He received his B. A. cum laude from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and an M. A. from Rice University in Houston, Texas. English is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. He has lived for a half century in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s west side, where he still maintains a residence, but now spends much of his time in Sosua, Dominican Republic. English is a widely-published writer whose works have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Reader and Co-Existence, the literary journal which featured the works of Henry Miller.  Visit J.A. English online at:  https://sites.google.com/view/somebodyelsestroubles/home

Find out more on Amazon

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An Excerpt from ‘Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation,’ by Marilea C. Rabasa

Author HeadshotMarilea C. Rabasa is a retired high school teacher who moved west from Virginia eleven years ago. Before that, she traveled around the world with her former husband in the Foreign Service. She has been published in a variety of publications. Writing as Maggie C. Romero, Rabasa won the International Book Award, was named a finalist in both the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the USA Best Book Awards, and earned an honorable mention in The Great Southwest Book Festival, for her 2014 release, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.  She lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a number of years and now resides in Camano Island, Washington. Visit her online at:  www.recoveryofthespirit.com

Stepping Stones - Cover Art-1

About the Book

Addiction is a stealth predator. Unrecognized, it will grow and flourish. Unchecked, it destroys.

Marilea grew up in post-WWII Massachusetts in a family that lived comfortably and offered her every advantage. But there were closely guarded family secrets. Alcoholism reached back through several generations, and it was not openly discussed. Shame and stigma perpetuated the silence. Marilea became part of this ongoing tragedy.

Her story opens with the death of her mother. Though not an alcoholic, it is her inability to cope with the dysfunction in her life that sets her daughter up for a multitude of problems.

We follow Marilea from an unhappy childhood, to her life overseas in the diplomatic service, to now, living on an island in Puget Sound. What happens in the intervening years is a compelling tale of travel, motherhood, addiction, and heartbreaking loss. The constant thread throughout this story is the many faces and forms of addiction, stalking her like an obsessed lover, and with similar rewards. What, if anything, will free her of the masks she has worn all her life?

Read Marilea’s inspiring recovery story and learn how she wrestles with the demons that have plagued her.

Find out more HERE.

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EXCERPT

The Woods

            Whether it was thirty degrees with two feet of snow on the ground or ninety degrees and humid, I learned to fashion a life for myself outdoors, usually in the woods.

Areas hollowed out by the wind became the rooms in my make-believe home fashioned on tree stumps and big granite boulders. Draping an old, tattered sheet over a low horizontal branch, I cut squares in it to make windows. Bits and pieces in the garage that had been left for the dump found new purpose in my imaginary home. Rusty tin cans, smashed under my feet, became ashtrays. An oversized bottle was turned into a lamp. A couple of old crates were repurposed as chairs. A broken old radio left near the brook added a nice touch to the kitchen table, itself a small scrap of plywood. Playing out my fantasies was a favorite pastime.

            Inside the house, there was no escape. My family had moved into a converted schoolhouse in Massachusetts when I was six months old. There were four bedrooms upstairs, and since I was just a baby, my parents gave me the littlest one, the size of a large walk-in closet. As I grew, I felt terrible resentment toward my sister, Lucy, not only because she had been awarded the room with a window facing the lake and was a graceful dancing student but also because she was so much closer than I to our father. Still, I tried tagging along with her, though I felt she didn’t want me around.

One day I snuck into her room while Daddy was working in the basement and Mom was napping across the hall. I could do anything! I started by smashing one of her ballerina statues on the floor.

I looked at all her ballet costumes and pretty pink tutus. My sister was such a star, but I wanted attention too. I gazed at the perfumes and talcum powder on her dressing table. Just for a little while, I can be a princess too.

She had a growing collection of Joyce shoes, all carefully lined up in her closet. I just wanted to wear them in her room for a few minutes. I hoped that by putting on her shoes her magic would rub off on me. Maybe my parents would love me as much as they loved her.

I shuffled around, but the shoes were swimming on me as I struggled to keep them on my feet. So I gave up and put them back in her closet. Lucy would be home soon, and my princess time was running out. As I heard her approaching the stairs, I returned to my place in the corners of the house. Lucy went right into her closet.

I hadn’t been careful to put the shoes back where they’d been neatly placed.

Why had I been so careless?

Exploding out of her room, Lucy confronted not me but our mother, who was awake by then, about my latest theft. Tears streaming down her face, she implored:

          “Mother, Mary has been in my closet. She took my favorite shoes again. And she
smashed my favorite ballerina on the floor. You always let her get away with this. Please do something this time!”

          “Lucy, you’re the older of the two of you. You do something.”

          What could my sister do? There was no justice to be found in our house.

Hiding in my little room with the door closed, I listened to my mother and sister. Eventually I left and went outside to my home in the woods. There I performed a mock trial:

Using one of my father’s hammers, I banged my pretend gavel on a large granite boulder.

“You know why you were bad, Mary,” bellowed the judge. “You went into Lucy’s room

without permission. You wore her shoes. And you broke her statue. What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I just wanted to feel special. I thought if I put on her shoes, I’d feel special

like she is. And I’m sorry I broke the ballet statue, but I’m so angry. Daddy loves her more than me!”

“That’s not an excuse, Mary. There is no excuse for what you did.”

“But I just wanted to get her attention!” I cried, breaking out in sobs.

The judge thundered back at me, unmoved, “You are guilty of jealousy and theft.” Guilty, guilty, guilty . . .

Unable to convince the judge of my innocence, I went back inside the house, ran to my room, and slammed the door.

But I wasn’t punished.

Guilty, guilty, guilty . . . those words buried themselves in a pocket next to my heart. And there they remained, like a ship’s anchor, weighing me down for the rest of my life.

Mother busied herself making dinner, and my sister remained in her room. Invisible walls, unaddressed resentments, perpetual isolation.

I learned from a very early age a terrible lesson: I could get away with things. If I were sneaky enough, or had enough enablers around me, my behaviors might yield no consequences. With no one slapping my wrist, the naughtiness continued. And my frustration and anger continued to chip away at my self-confidence and cloak itself in chronic depression.

I wasn’t always a brat, though. Mother wrote in a diary entry dated 2/26/56:

“L and M quarreled, and I smacked them both. L stayed in her room and sulked. After a while M went into the kitchen, got out a plate of cookies, and poured a glass of milk. She carried up the cookies and on the way said to me, ‘I’m going to take these cookies up to Lucy and make her feel better.’”

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The Rising Place, by David Armstrong

 

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: David Armstrong

Website: therisingplace.com 

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
About the Book:
 
The Rising Place is based on an interesting premise: What if you found a hidden box of letters from World War II that belonged to a reclusive old maid who had just died—would you read them? And what if you did and discovered an enthralling story about unrequited love, betrayal, and murder that happened in a small, southern town over seventy years ago?
When a young lawyer moves down south to Hamilton, Mississippi to begin his practice, one of his first assignments is to draft a will for Emily Hodge. “Miss Emily” is a 75-year-old spinster, shunned by Hamilton society, but the lawyer is intrigued by her and can’t understand why this charming lady lives such a solitary and seemingly forgotten life.
After Emily dies, the lawyer goes to Emily’s hospital room to retrieve her few possessions and bequeath them as she directed, and he discovers a sewing box full of old letters, hidden in the back of one of her nightstand drawers. He takes the letters back to his office and reads them, and he soon learns why Emily Hodge died alone, though definitely not forgotten by those whose lives she touched.
About the Author:
 
David Armstrong was born and raised in Natchez, Mississippi. He is an attorney, former mayor, and former candidate for the U.S. Congress. Currently, he serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the city of Columbus, Mississippi. David received both an undergraduate and a master’s degree in political science from Mississippi State University, before going on to receive a law degree from the University of Mississippi.

The Rising Place Place, David’s second novel, was made into a feature film by Flatland Pictures before it was published by The Wild Rose Press. His third novel, The Third Gift, will be released by The Wild Rose Press this summer. He has also written four screenplays.

David is the father of two grown sons, William and Canon, and lives in one of the oldest and most haunted antebellum homes in Columbus with a snarky old cat named Butch.
Find out more: therisingplace.com 
 
Read an excerpt! 
 
When Emily Hodge died, I assumed I would be one of the few people at her funeral. She had lived such a solitary life. She didn’t really seem like a loner, but that was before I learned about the murders and Miss Emily’s past.
She had no family that I was ever aware of. Once, though, when I went to see her in the retirement center before she moved to the hospital, she said something about a “Mr. Wilder” who had visited her years earlier when she used to live in her little yellow house. But I wasn’t sure who this Wilder fellow was or where he was from, and I doubted he was still alive. That was a long time ago, like Miss Emily had said.
And that yellow frame house of hers on Monmouth Avenue has gone through several tenants since Miss Emily moved out and went to the Methodist Retirement Center. Most of the asbestos shingles on the front bottom of the house were covered now with kudzu vine and badly cracked, and Miss Emily would have hated they were so noticeable, so I never told her. I realized several years ago that there were some things it was best Miss Emily never know about.
I never understood why Miss Emily didn’t marry and have her own children. She certainly was attractive enough, in her younger days. She showed me an old picture of herself one Sunday afternoon at the General Hospital when I went by her room to visit. She was a “striking woman,” as she herself commented. But it was more than just a striking woman I saw in that faded, seventy-year-old photograph. She was beautiful. Standing on the running board of an old Ford in a long, pink dress with a cream-colored, flapper hat on her head, she reminded me of someone from that old Bonnie and Clyde movie. It was hard to believe the pretty young woman in that photo was her. I probably stared at it too long, and it seemed to make her uneasy that I thought she was so beautiful.
“You were a lovely girl,” I awkwardly told her. When I handed the picture back to Miss Emily, she replaced it in a brown sewing box and slid it into the bottom drawer of the nightstand next to her bed. After she closed the drawer, I somehow knew Miss Emily would never show anyone that photograph of herself, again.
On the day of her funeral, it started raining about eight o’clock that morning. It was to be only a short, graveside service—just like she wanted—with no open casket, and she specifically requested that no flowers be sent. It was the only request of hers I didn’t honor. I couldn’t bear the thought of that precious lady, who had lived and died all alone, being buried without flowers. It just wasn’t right, so I ordered the finest arrangement of yellow roses I could find. I thought the color was appropriate, considering how much she loved her yellow house on Monmouth Avenue, and she always liked roses. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned that sometimes people want things but just don’t know how to ask for them. I do believe Miss Emily would have liked those yellow roses.
It was a simple, Methodist prayer service that lasted only twenty minutes. No one cried during the service. I don’t think Miss Emily would have wanted that. It’s hard to cry for someone you don’t really know. But the old black people there seemed to know her as they passed by her casket after the last prayer. And when Reverend Elton read the quote from Saint Theresa (Miss Emily’s favorite saint), “Let nothing disturb you; let nothing frighten you. Everything passes except God. God alone is sufficient,” all the black people shouted a loud, “Amen!”
But the most intriguing thing of all was that gray-haired stranger who kept staring at the small headstone next to Miss Emily’s grave that read, “Baby Boy, 1942,” and who then stayed after everyone else had left. As we were leaving, I noticed from my car that the old man was crying. He picked a single yellow rose from the arrangement on top of Miss Emily’s bronze casket and then gently placed it on the small grave, in front of the headstone. When my wife and I drove away, I looked back before we left the cemetery. The gentleman was limping away in the rain with his cane.
Before she died, Miss Emily had already disposed of most of her possessions, but there were two beautiful paintings and an antique rose vase still in her hospital room that she had left to a friend. She had given away all her clothes to a couple of nurses who promised they would take them to the Salvation Army for her, but I doubted that would ever happen. I remember commenting to Miss Emily years ago, when I was still a young lawyer, that a friend had once promised to retain our firm and then sought legal services elsewhere. Emily said, “Don’t put too much stock in other people, David—they’ll just disappoint you.”
As I was about to turn off the light and leave her empty room, I remembered the sewing box of letters in the bottom drawer of the nightstand next to her bed. I also remembered that wonderful old photograph of her leaning against a car on the beach, which she had shown me several years ago. I didn’t know why at the time, but I wanted that picture. I would keep it as a remembrance of this dear lady I had come to love.
I didn’t open the letter box until after I had returned to my office. I don’t know if Miss Emily would have liked my reading her letters, but I think I finally understand her now and why she died alone, though definitely not forgotten. I know I’ll never forget her. How could I?

 

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Excerpt Reveal: ‘Riley,’ by Paul Martin Midden

Riley FRONT COVER hi-resGenre:   Contemporary adult fiction

Author: Paul Martin Midden

Websitehttp://www.paulmidden.com

Publisher: Wittmann Blair Publishing

Find out morehttp://www.paulmidden.com/riley.html

About the Book:

Riley, a young writer, finally divorces her husband and begins a novel about a fictional couple in conflict. Supported by her best friend, Jennifer, she begins her life of freedom. In a complicated turn of events, she meets and beds Edward, a shy young man who falls for her instantly. She does not want to continue the relationship, however, and her refusal lays the groundwork for a series of dangerous events. Her conflicts and those of her characters play out in this psychologically intriguing story.

Head shot - color

About the Author:

Paul Martin Midden is the author of five previous novels, each of which explores different writing styles. He practiced clinical psychology for over thirty years. Paul’s interests include historic restoration, travel, fitness, and wine tasting. He and his wife Patricia renovated an 1895 Romanesque home in 1995 and continue to enjoy urban living.

Excerpt:

Riley Cotswald sat at her desk staring at the blank screen in front of her. What do I write? she wondered. That’s a stupid question, came an immediate reply from somewhere in her head. Questioning myself about writing never helped anything. The only thing that matters is putting words on paper. I learned this with my first book.

She turned her head away from the screen and peered through the window of her small DC apartment. The sky was a Washingtonian blue, she observed, and if she looked down just a bit she could see the cherry blossoms beginning to burst. Just like me, she hoped.

But she did not feel herself bursting; all she felt was stuck at her desk, like a child in detention.

Knowing that distraction and procrastination were the two big things that worked against her getting anywhere with her writing, she forced herself to turn back to her computer screen. She had been able to do this earlier in her life, and she always associated writing with a special kind of experience, a mystical or even a spiritual one, whatever that meant. It was something she couldn’t put into words; the irony of that was not lost on her nonreligious self.

I can do this, she told herself; and she forced herself to place her hands over the keys. The only way to start is to start, she thought. And so she believed.

She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and commanded her fingers to move.

They weren’t listening.

Riley leaned back in her chair. This is harder than I remembered.

She lectured herself: It doesn’t matter that you have no idea what to write about. Remember when you started? When you wrote that first book? The one that sold? The one that allowed you to write full time? It wasn’t that long ago; just a year ago you were on a book tour, touting you image as an up-and-coming young author. And you promised yourself and your publisher that you would produce another. That is why you are here. To produce another saleable book.

She sighed. Back the, ages ago, writing just seemed to flow and took on a life of its own. All Riley had to do was channel it and type. This was, of course, the narrative she told herself. The fact is she cannot really remember how she did it. Not exactly.

But this mystical narrative seemed to her to be largely true, although in a corner of her mind she thought perhaps the whole experience was romanticized a bit by time. She believed that’s how it should happen. Magically. The stories are inside me and all I need to do is make my fingers move across the keyboard. The narrative will take care of itself.

But maybe not. Maybe there is some other way. An outline? A summary? No. Writing is an art. Being creative is just that: an act of creation, one that required, even demanded, discipline, but one which at base was artistic, creative. So create! Write!

She tried to stop thinking and closed her eyes once more. She knew what she was doing. All these thoughts were just distractions. And the more self-critical the thoughts, the more distracted she became and the further away she came from the act of creation.

Riley sprang out of her chair to move, to breathe, to stop the pattern of useless thinking that was preventing her from doing the writing she most wanted to do. She walked around her small apartment. If Cameron were there she would engage him somehow; she would whine to him. She wouldn’t call it whining, but that’s what it would be. It was always whining. It was saying out loud what went through her head, albeit in a more articulate voice. She would berate herself, and he would reassure her, no matter how dismal she judged her life to be at that moment or how crippled she felt putting words to paper. Or how little he actually understood what she was saying.

On reflection, that seemed like one of the best reasons to be with someone: having someone to complain to. And have that person reassure you, even if you knew that the soothing words were insincere, as in Cameron’s case. He tried to be sympathetic, but that trait did not seem to exist on his genome; the fact was dismal on the listening end. . . She shook her head. She didn’t need to go there.

Riley sat back down and repositioned her fingers over the keyboard. She took yet another deep breath. In the back of her mind, she could hear a familiar voice: Scream all you want, young lady. If this is what you want, this is what you must do. It’s as simple as that.

She straightened her shoulders.  Okay, this is what I want, so this is what I must do. She replaced her fingers over her keyboard and started typing.

Adam Wilkerson did not want to do what he knew he needed to do.

She sat back and checked in with herself. This is more like it.

He had been thinking about it for weeks, maybe even months. Definitely months. A year? Could be a year. He tried to avoid it; in fact, he tried everything he could think of to shield himself and his wife from what he needed rather than wanted to tell her. He wondered about how she would take it. He didn’t think she would take it well.

Adam was sitting at home, waiting for his wife to return. It was Saturday; she had gone shopping. Where or for what he had no idea. It was hard to imagine that she really needed anything. He thought she was just killing time until . . . until what? Until night fell and she could go to sleep and forget her own unhappiness for a few hours. That is, if she slept. That nocturnal pleasure has been coming hard for Mrs. Wilkerson recently. Adam knew this all too well; his wife wasn’t the only one lying awake in silence at night. What he didn’t know was what to do about it.

Touchy ground, Riley mused. She felt herself pale a bit, and she noticed her hands were sweaty.   Anxiety, she knew. And maybe excitement. Perhaps both. She did not take her eyes off the screen.

Adam wondered, even at this late date, if there were some way to avoid this, to somehow give his marriage yet another lease on life. Then he could avoid the discussion he promised himself he would have. But his mind was blank. He had tried everything. He tried being assertive and firm and then warm and kind; he tried to be inviting and disclosing and a little removed and distant. Nothing, absolutely nothing helped impede the belief that had been growing in his mind that he was just out of gas. By which he meant that the marriage was out of gas. No more fuel in the tank. Running on empty. The relationship platitudes were coming fast enough to fill a silly daytime advice show. 

Riley leaned back in her chair without taking her eyes off the screen. This was a habit of focus: looking at the screen was still writing, even if her hands were not tapping on the keys. She knew the anxiety was there and she knew why. She didn’t want to give her nervousness any space; nor did she want to draw comparisons to her current life. She was sure that would make it harder for her to write.

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Excerpt reveal: Maximilian’s Treasure, by James D. Bell

maxstreasure-forprint
Genre: Romance/Adventure 
Author: James D. Bell
Find out more on Amazon       
About the Book:
Rumors of a legendary treasure fuel a battle over possession of a Choctaw family farm.  Two young lawyers, John Brooks and Jackson Bradley, agree to help the family keep their farm.  Early legal success prompts the drive-by murder of the patriarch of the family.  The grandson chases the suspects whose bodies are found on the farm, scalped.  At the same time clues to a vast treasure are found on the farm.  Jackson, pursued by fortune seekers, adventurers, an exotic beauty and a homicidal maniac, follows the clues from a Caribbean reef to the Chiapas jungle.  John stays behind to defend the grandson and continue the fight for the farm.  His efforts are complicated by arson, murder, race riots, and the realization that he lost his one true love.  Though there is great distance between them, their adventures are intertwined as they rush toward a triple climax that could shake the world.  Join the adventure and discover your Maximilian’s Treasure.
JamesD.Bell-Photo
About the Author:
James D. Bell is an award-winning author and retired Judge who received the highest bar association approval ratings ever given to a Mississippi Circuit or County Judge. He is listed in Preeminent Lawyers, Outstanding Lawyers of America and Top 100 Attorneys of North America.  He is the author of two novels, Vampire Defense and Maximilian’s Treasure.  His short story, The Adventures of Sherlock Hound, was published in Mardi Allen’s collection, Dog Stories for the Soul, alongside stories from Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Willie Morris and others.  The son of a Choctaw mother and a Mississippi businessman, Judge Bell is devoted to his wife, Joanne.  They live near Jackson, Mississippi and have four children.  Judge Bell returned to law practice but is frequently called back to the bench by the Mississippi Supreme Court for short term assignments.
 
Find out more: 

 

EXCERPT

“Why did this have to happen?” cried Erma as she sat on the couch, her head in her hands.  Karen sat next to her with her hand on Erma’s shoulders, trying to comfort her.  The deputies were interviewing witnesses one at a time.  Most family members waited on the porch for their turn to be questioned.  Jackson, Peter and Karen sat with Frank and Erma in the den.

“It’s the treasure,” said Frank in disgust.

“How do you know it’s the treasure?” asked Jackson.

Peter sat on the edge of his chair and listened.

“He’s right.  It seems that everything bad that happens to this family has something to do with that old treasure.  I hate that treasure,” said Erma.  “It has brought nothing but sadness and tragedy to us.  It doesn’t even exist.  It never existed.”

“Yes, it does.  But I would give it up in a minute if I could undo all that’s happened,” said Frank.

“It doesn’t even have to exist to kill us.  People believe in it, and we get killed.  Nothing good has ever come from that old rumor.  I hate that treasure,” repeated Erma.

“I don’t blame you, after what I saw today,” said Karen.  “What else has happened?”

“The list is too long.  So many things have happened over the years.  There was the cave in at Hummingbird Well, where Frank found that coin.”  Tears filled Erma’s eyes. She excused herself and retreated to the bedroom.

Frank shook his head.

“I found the coin in Hummingbird Well, over near Pinishook Creek.  It was an old fashioned well.  We lowered a bucket on a rope.  One day, when I pulled the bucket up, I found the coin.  The one I showed Mr. Brooks.  I always believed the gold was in Hummingbird Well.  To me, it confirmed the rumors about the treasure.   We searched around the well and the creek, and then we started digging up the well.  The sides fell in.  Erma’s two boys were trapped.  We could hear them calling for us because the water was rising.  They drowned before we could get to them.”

“Oh, no!” said Karen as she rose and tapped on the bedroom door.  Karen cracked open the door, looked back at Jackson, Peter and Frank, and stepped into the bedroom, closing the door behind her.

Peter, Jackson and Frank sat in silence for a few minutes.

“Did you find any gold in the well?” asked Peter.

“No.  We never found the gold.  I believe it’s still there.”

As Frank said that, Erma returned to the room, wiping her eyes, followed by Karen.  “I’m sorry.  I’m alright.  I dealt with this a long time ago.  It’s just that the murder of Uncle German brought up old wounds.”  Karen put her arm around Erma, who gave Karen a hug and said, “Thank you.  Frank still believes that gold is in that old well.  He can have the gold, for what good it’ll do him.”

“Maybe Frank James lost one coin or dropped just one coin down the well,” guessed Jackson.

“No.  We were told that Sankky’s last words were something like, ‘You will draw the gold from the hummingbird.’ They say it was hard to understand her exact words when she died, but she said something like that.  We knew that she named the old well, Hummingbird Well, so I knew we would find the gold there,” said Frank.

“That’s why Frank was drawing water from the well,” said Erma.  “He always thought he would get lucky one day and draw gold up from the well.  One day he finally did.  We thought that was a great day.  But, then tragedy struck.  That gold is cursed,” said Erma, almost spitting out the word cursed.
A thought struck Karen, and she sucked in a little air. Her eyes darted around the room and came to rest on the hummingbird painting.  “She said ‘draw’ and ‘hummingbird.’  Erma, may I look behind Sankky’s painting?”

Erma starred at Karen for a moment, then she turned and looked at Frank, eyes wide open.

Frank said, “Well, I’ll be.”

“Yes, darlin’, you can look,” said Erma.

Everyone’s eyes were glued on Karen as she walked to the hummingbird painting.  She lifted the frame from the wall and laid it face down on the checker table.

“Can someone help me get the back off of this frame?”

Frank used a pocketknife to pry off the back of the picture.  Everyone leaned in to get a better look.

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On the Spotlight: ‘False Flag in Autumn,’ by Michael Bowen

Title: False Flag
Genre: Political Thriller
Author: Michael Bowen
Websitewww.michaelbowenmysteries.com              
Publisher: Farragut Square Publications
Find out more on Amazon
About the Book:  
 
Josie Kendall is an ambitious political apparatchik whose memoirs will not be titled Nancy Drew Goes to Washington.  Josie has no objection to the truth—but she doesn’t let it push her around.  When a rogue White House aide tries to use her as an unwitting pawn in a plot for a spectacular October surprise before the 2018 mid-term elections, Josie calls on her D.C.-insider husband, her edgy uncle, and colorful denizens of the Louisiana demi-monde to help her out-hustle the hustlers.  But then Josie finds herself facing an even more daunting question:  is there a false-flag attack planned in order to influence the 2020 presidential election?  Josie will be forced to decide whether to venture out of the Beltway cocoon—where the weapons are leaks, winks, nudges, and spin—into a darker world where the weapons are actual weapons.  Josie will end up on the side of the angels even if, Josie begin Josie, the angels play a little dirty.
About the Author
 
Michael Bowen recently retired from a 39-year career as a trial lawyer. The author of nineteen published novels, as well as scholarly and political commentary, Bowen is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he served on the Harvard Law Review. Bowen and his wife Sara, a noted lecturer on Jane Austen and Harvard Law graduate, live in Fox Point, Wisconsin.
Connect with the author on the web:

 

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‘Fortunate Son – The Story of Baby Boy Francis,’ by Brooks Eason

Fortunate Son front cover (3)GenreMemoir 

AuthorBrooks Eason

Website: www.brookseason.com             

Publisher: WordCrafts Press, Nashville, TN

Find out more: https://www.wordcrafts.net/books/fortunate-son/

ABOUT THE BOOK 

On the eve of the birth of his first grandchild, Mississippi lawyer Brooks Eason learned the truth about a mystery he’d lived with for nearly fifty years: the story of his birth and his birth mother’s identity.  Perhaps even more surprising was how the story was finally revealed:  It turned out that Eason was a potential heir to an enormous fortune from his birth mother’s family.  His original identity finally saw the light of day only as result of litigation in four courts in two states, initiated in an effort to identify and find the heir.  Eason, who was raised in Tupelo by loving parents, found out on the day his granddaughter was born that he began his life as Scott Francis, which remained his legal name for the first year of his life.  Fortunate Son – The Story of Baby Boy Francis is the story of how he learned the story. 

And what a story it is.

A truth-is-stranger-than-fiction memoir that unfolds in the Deep South, Fortunate Son is a deeply personal and deeply moving story about families, secrets, and choices.  Resplendent with intrigue, drama, and mystery—all the hallmarks of a blockbuster novel—Fortunate Son is a true story, unembellished, unpretentious, and at times almost unbelievable.  Eason, a gifted storyteller with an incredible story to tell, delivers a gripping, satisfying, meaningful memoir.  Told with candor, wit, and honesty, Fortunate Son is a thoughtful and thought-provoking first person narrative that will have readers turning pages. 

Though Eason was ultimately not the beneficiary of the fortune, he is quick to point out that he received a different kind of wealth:  knowing the truth and finally being able to dive headfirst into the story of his origin, uncovering fascinating blood relatives and stories along the way. 

Much more than a memoir about birth and adoption, Fortunate Son is a long love letter from the author to the parents who raised him, a heartfelt thank you to the birth mother who gave him the whole world when she gave him away, and a moving tribute to his beloved daughter who faced circumstances similar to those his birth mother faced and bravely chose to keep her baby.  A tale of two stories that unfolded in different times, Fortunate Son is an extraordinary story extraordinarily well-told. 

Brooks Eason - photo
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooks Eason loves stories, reading and writing them, hearing and telling them. He also loves music, dogs, and campfires as well as his family and friends. His latest book is Fortunate Son – the Story of Baby Boy Francis, an amazing memoir about his adoption, discovery of the identity of his birth mother, and much more.
Eason has practiced law in Jackson for more than 35 years but has resolved to trade in writing briefs for writing books.  He lives with his wife Carrie and their two elderly rescue dogs, Buster and Maddie, and an adopted stray cat named Count Rostov for the central character in A Gentleman in Moscow, the novel by Amor Towles.  In their spare time, the Easons host house concerts, grow tomatoes, and dance in the kitchen.  Eason, who has three children and four grandchildren, is also the author of Travels with Bobby – Hiking in the Mountains of the American West about hiking trips with his best friendVisit Brooks online at www.brookseason.com.  WordCrafts Press is an independent publishing company headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit WordCrafts online at www.wordcrafts.net.
EXCERPT
CHAPTER 1
It was a Tuesday morning in June 2004. The day had started like any other. I walked the dogs, ate breakfast while reading the paper, then drove downtown to work. I was in my office on the 14th floor of the Trustmark Bank Building when my phone rang. It was my father, Paul Eason. He rarely called me at work but had just listened to an intriguing voicemail. He was calling to tell me about it.
Daddy was 82 and lived by himself in Tupelo, Mississippi, in the home where I grew up. It was the only home he and my mother Margaret ever owned. She had died five years earlier in the bedroom they shared for more than forty years. I lived three hours south of Tupelo in Jackson, where I had practiced law for two decades. 
The message was from a woman in New Orleans, also a lawyer. She said her firm was conducting a nationwide, court-ordered search for Paul Eason, age 46. I go by my middle name, but my first name is Paul and I was about to turn 47. I told Daddy I would return the call. 
Why a court in New Orleans would order someone to search the entire country for me was a mystery. A theory occurred to me, but after all these years it didn’t seem possible. Because I didn’t know the reason for the call, I decided not to identify myself as the Paul Eason the lawyer was trying to find. I would just say I was Brooks Eason and was returning the call she had placed to my father. But when she came to the phone, she already knew who I was.
“I can’t believe we found you.” 
“What is this about?”
“An inheritance.”
“Tell me more.”
*        *        *
That was the day I began to learn the story that had been a mystery to me all my life, the story of my birth and second family. In the days that followed, I found out that my name was Scott Francis – or rather that it had been – for the first year of my life. I was nearly fifty years old, but until then I didn’t know I had started life with a different name, much less what it was. My name, as well as the rest of the story, had been a secret. This is the story of how I learned the secret. But this story is about more than that. It is also about the wonderful life my parents gave me, about my exceptional daughter and granddaughter, who was born just days after Daddy received the voicemail. and about how times and attitudes changed from when I was born until she was born.
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Excerpt reveal: ‘The Fog Ladies,’ by Susan McCormick

TheFogLadies_w13428_cover

The Fog Ladies is a cozy murder mystery set in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco where old ladies start to die. Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin slips on bubbles in the bath and drowns. The Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in a cool San Francisco evening.

Young, overworked, overtired, overstressed medical intern Sarah James has no time for sleuthing. Her elderly neighbors, the Fog Ladies, have nothing but time. Sarah assumes the deaths are the natural consequence of growing old. The Fog Ladies assume murder.

Sarah resists the Fog Ladies’ perseverations. But when one of them falls down the stairs and tells Sarah she was pushed, even Sarah believes evil lurks in their building. Can they find the killer before they fall victim themselves?

Author Photo

About the Author

Susan McCormick writes cozy murder mysteries. She is also the author of Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease. She is a doctor who lives in Seattle. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in Washington, DC and San Francisco, where she lived in an elegant apartment building much like the one in the book. She served nine years in the military before settling in the Pacific Northwest. She is married and has two boys, plus a giant Newfoundland dog.

Website:

https://susanmccormickbooks.com

Goodreads / Bookbub

Find out more about THE FOG LADIES:

Amazon / B&N

Social media:

https://www.facebook.com/susanmccormickauthor/

https://twitter.com/smccormickbooks

https://www.instagram.com/susanmccormickbooks/

The Fog Ladies

Prologue

Mrs. Bridge did not like bugs. Perched high up on the stool, she peered distastefully into the kitchen light. Living in an apartment building in San Francisco, she usually had no problem with bugs. But the light collected the creatures, motionless black blobs above her head.

If Tommy were anything like old Mr. Lemon, the handyman he replaced, there would be no bugs. Mr. Lemon had come by every few weeks to see if she needed something fixed. He did it with all the tenants, right from the time she moved in forty years ago when she was twenty-five. Old Mr. Lemon wasn’t above cleaning out bugs. Old Mr. Lemon wasn’t above anything. Not like Tommy.

When she’d first suggested to Tommy that he should clean out the bugs, he actually laughed. What impudence! The few times he had come, he’d shown up a week later, long after she’d done the task herself. What did she pay her rent for?

The whole building had gone downhill since Mr. Lemon died. It was a beautiful building in Pacific Heights, built in 1925, elegant and solid, with a slate floor in the lobby and etched glass windows. Mr. Lemon had washed those windows every week, just like he polished the brass and oiled the mahogany hall table. Tommy thought his job entailed keeping the elevator running and changing the light bulbs in the back staircase. He didn’t understand about a fine building. And he certainly showed no interest in helping with her bugs.

So Mrs. Bridge climbed up there herself. It wasn’t easy. The ceilings were high. She used a stool she found in the garage by the dumpster. It was meant to be a barstool, but its height was perfect for reaching the light fixture. She wore yellow rubber gloves and used wads of paper towels. Even though they were expensive. The whole process left her winded and she only did it every few months.

Stepping from her kitchen chair onto the barstool was the trickiest part. She had done it many times before and could balance pretty well once she touched the ceiling.

She always felt nervous at this point, hand over head, feet tight together on the small stool. Today, though, she felt an inexplicable dread.

If anything happened, she would blame Tommy. She found it ridiculous and humiliating that a sixty-five-year-old woman should have to clean bugs out of a light.

She had seen Tommy that very day up on a sturdy new ladder probably purchased with her rent proceeds. Why couldn’t he do this for her? Or at least offer her the ladder. No respect for his elders, that’s why.

“Insolent youth.” Mrs. Bridge said. “Damn that Tommy.”

The stool jerked from under her. Mrs. Bridge felt herself fall. It seemed like slow motion, like she was falling from the roof deck and not from a stool in the kitchen. Falling, falling, long enough for her to see the figure standing nearby. Long enough for her to see his detached expression.

She landed hard. She heard the crack. She knew she was going to die. She studied the bugs in the light far over her head. The figure started to turn away.

She managed to speak and was surprised at how strong her voice sounded. “Sarah,” she blurted. He whirled around.

Mrs. Bridge was satisfied to see the shock on his face as she stared up and said, “Sarah saw you.”

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‘Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i,’ by Rosemary & Larry Mild

Cover ARtAbout the Book:

In Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i, homicide detective Sam Nahoe takes a bullet in his spine in the line of duty. Disabled, his career with the Honolulu Police Department shattered—what now? Jobless, lonely, and unwillingly divorced, Sam becomes a Checker Cab driver. Seeking a partner, he adopts a rescue golden retriever—with a dollop of Doberman, and trains her to perform neat tricks like growling at a fare who doesn’t tip. He and Goldie cruise Oahu for fares, encountering thieves, kidnappers, vengeful wives, and even killers, compelling Sam to get his private investigator license. His Sunday visitations with his daughter, Peggy, can turn a magical park day into a hair-raising crime scene, but his shrewd little kid becomes a miniature sleuth in her own right. Sam’s Hawaiian heritage provides him with spunk and street smarts. With the bullet still in his spine, he hobbles around on two canes he’s dubbed Cane and Able as he orders Goldie to chase down the bad guys. His favorite snitch, card-sharp Sophie, asks him: “You still walkin’ with them giant chopsticks?” The book includes thirteen individual detective mysteries with pictures.
mild5
About the Authors:

ROSEMARY AND LARRY MILD, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery, suspense, and fantasy fiction. Their popular Hawaii novels, Cry Ohana and its sequel Honolulu Heat, vibrate with island color, local customs, and exquisite scenery. Also by the Milds: The Paco and Molly Murder Mysteries: Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. And the Dan and Rivka Sherman Mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes A Mistress, and Death Steals A Holy Book. Plus: Unto the Third Generation, A Novella of the Future, and three collections of wickedly entertaining mystery stories—Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i.

ROSEMARY, a graduate of Smith College and former assistant editor of Harper’s, also delves into her own nonfiction life. She  published two memoirs: Love! Laugh! Panic! Life With My Mother and the acclaimed Miriam’s World—and Mine, for the beloved daughter they lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. On her lighter side, Rosemary also writes award-winning humorous essays, such as failing the test to get on Jeopardy; and working for a giant free-spending corporation on a sudden budget: “No new pencil unless you turn in the old stub.”

LARRY, who was only called Lawrence when he’d done something wrong, graduated from American University in Information Systems Management. In 2019 he published his autobiography, No Place To Be But Here: My Life and Times, which traces his thirty-eight-year professional engineering career from its beginning as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, to a field engineer riding Navy ships, to a digital systems/instrument designer for major Government contractors in the signal analysis field, to where he rose to the most senior level of principal engineer when he retired in 1993.

Making use of his past creativity and problem-solving abilities, Larry naturally drifted into the realm of mystery writing, where he also claims to be more devious than his partner in crime and best love, Rosemary. So he conjures up their plots and writes the first drafts, leaving Rosemary to breathe life into their characters and sizzle into their scenes. A perfect marriage of their talents.

THE MILDS are active members of Sisters in Crime where Larry is a Mister in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Hawaii Fiction Writers. In 2013 they waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish quality time with their daughters and grandchildren. When Honolulu hosted Left Coast Crime in 2017, Rosemary and Larry were the program co-chairs for “Honolulu Havoc.”

Over a dozen worldwide trips to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Great Britain, France, Italy, Israel, Egypt, and more have wormed their way into their amazing stories. In their limited spare time, they are active members of the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee, where Larry is the statistician and recordkeeper for their film ratings.

Links to Site  and Social Media:

https://www.magicile.com

https://www.facebook.com/rosemary.mild.1

https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosemary-mild-930

///////////////////////////////

First Chapter: Episode One
Locked In: The Beginning

Today Sam Nahoe caught his third major case since making detective sergeant in the Homicide unit of the Honolulu Police Department. He now wore a gold badge instead of a silver one.
Sam and his partner, Corporal Mose Kauahi, hurried over to a mid-rise apartment house at 2330 Lanahi Place. The call came in at 9:30 a.m. The caller said she’d been trying to phone her neighbor for several days without a response. As a last resort, she went outside and peeked in his first-floor window. She saw him collapsed over his desk.
The detectives met the woman inside the apartment lobby. Sam’s keen eyes assessed her. Waist-length kinky blonde hair, dark at the roots. Fortyish trying to look thirty, and less businesslike than he expected in a lacy pink tank top and short shorts.
She flashed Sam a heavily lipsticked smile. “I’m Doris Haliburton. You can call me Doris.”
Jeez, the broad is actually flirting with me, thought Sam without missing a step.
They followed her down the hall to apartment 1A. Sam tried the door and found it locked. “It’s another one of those steel security doors with anti-pick locks,” he announced. “We’ll have to find another way in. Is there a resident manager here?”
Doris shrugged. “Only part-time. But I s’pose you could try the windows out back.” Without waiting for consent, she started down the hall. Sam couldn’t help but notice the smooth legs, looking decades younger than her sun-creased face. At the rear of the building she held the door open for both men, an exit to a fenced-in backyard. “It’s those two double windows—there and there—the ones on the left.”  Her voice quavered. “He’s in the living room.”
Sam frowned. “Those windows are pretty high. You look to be about five-two. How could you see in?”
“I used my kitchen stool,” Doris answered smugly.
Mose stepped closer. “It would be helpful if we could use it too,” he said. “That is, if you wouldn’t mind, ma’am.”
She flinched at the word “ma’am.” Sam knew why. It made women feel old.
“Yeah, sure, I’ll get it. I’m in apartment 1C. Back in two shakes.”
Mose had no intention of letting Doris out of his sight. He followed her inside, and the two returned with him carrying the stepstool. He placed it below the first set of double windows. The short, stocky detective climbed up only to find that he couldn’t see much past the window sill. He yielded to Sam. Nearly a head taller at six-four, Sam climbed up until he had a clear view into what was obviously the living room. It was furnished with two leather couches, a glass-topped coffee table, and an elaborate entertainment center on the left wall. A rather affluent bachelor pad, he guessed. But in the far right corner against the wall, sure enough, a man’s body lay slumped over a large modern desk.
Sam examined both double windows leading to the living room for signs of forced entry, but found none. He tried to at least jiggle each section, but each one was immovable, locked in place, with self-locking dowels to the right and left. He climbed down and moved the stepstool to the second set of double windows, hoping for better luck. Climbing back up, he peered into a bedroom and tested that set of windows with the same result. He decided entry there would cause less damage than in the more elegant living room.
“We’ll have to get a locksmith for the front door,” said Mose.
“Can’t wait for that. The man may need medical attention,” replied Sam. He removed a pair of sunglasses from his forest-green sport shirt and handed them down to Mose while he mulled over the best way to enter. The Venetian blinds were raised to their full height, so he wouldn’t have to deal with them. Removing his Glock 9mm from its holster, he turned his head away, and ducked to his left as he drove the weapon, handle first, against the lower glass panel, cracking it sharply away from him so that the shards fell inside the room and dropped to the floor. He swept the barrel of his gun back and forth to remove the remaining shards from the frame. Reaching through the cleared opening, he released the pair of locks from their side stops, and slid the tall window all the way up.
“Hey, Mose, would you get me the floor mats from the front of the cruiser?”
When his partner returned with the mats, Sam dropped them over the concentration of glass shards inside the window.
He cautiously planted his size-thirteen shoes on the top step of the stool, then wiggled his backside onto the window ledge. Lifting one leg at a time over the sill, he slid inside. He landed for a split-second on his feet, but his muscular bulk gave way, sending him flopping on his knees. He heard, and felt, the crunching of the shards beneath the floor mats as he landed. Hoisting himself to his feet, he surveyed his surroundings. He had landed next to a queen-size bed with a quilted headboard and plaid comforter. He saw nothing out of order in the room; only an uncluttered bureau and nightstand.
The moment Sam entered the living room, the stench of decay hit him. He whipped out a handkerchief from his back pocket and covered his nose and mouth.
The motionless body slumped over the desk was a male of medium build, narrow-shouldered, wearing a muted-print aloha shirt. He appeared to have been working on his laptop. His head of thinning sand-colored hair lay face-down on the keyboard. The monitor reflected the impact with a string of unintelligible letters and numbers. On the desk he saw documents and spreadsheets in neat piles; nothing else but a tape dispenser and vinyl cup holding ballpoint pens. The printer on the left corner of the desk contained no printouts. Sam leaned over, and with his free hand placed two fingers on the victim’s carotid artery, feeling for signs of life. There was no pulse. But he knew there wouldn’t be. In the middle of the man’s back he found two bullet holes, close together, with accompanying patches of dried blood, obscuring the shirt’s flowered pattern. He hastily backed up when he realized he had almost stepped in blood that had dried on the plush beige carpet. They had themselves a crime scene.

 

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