Thursday, February 28, 2019

Book Feature: Sgt. Windflower Mysteries by Mike Martin


SGT. WINDFLOWER MYSTERY SERIES 
by Mike Martin, Mystery



The Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are a light mystery series set in Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. These cozy-like books follow the adventures of Sgt. Winston Windflower, a Cree from Northern Alberta as he finds a new life and new loves in the tiny village of Grand Bank. There are crimes and mysteries for the Canadian Mountie to investigate and solve but the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are more about family, friends, good food and good times.

The recurring cast of characters include the love of his life, Sheila Hillier who keeps him well-fed and grounded in reality. There’s also his fellow Mounties like Corporal Eddie Tizzard and a long list of bad actors, both local and just visiting, to cause havoc in their sleepy little town. Windflower brings his native background and traditions with him and finds ways to use them to help himself and his friends through difficult times. Rounding out his life are his collie, Lady, who often has adventures of her own and some new additions to his family that appear in the latest book, Darkest Before the Dawn.

The Walker on the Cape (Book 1)

A man's body is found on the Cape in a small fishing community on the East Coast. At first everyone thinks it's a heart attack or stroke. But then it is discovered that he was poisoned. Who would do this and why? Finding that out falls to Sergeant Winston Windflower of the RCMP along with his trusted side-kick Eddie Tizzard. Along the way they discover that there are many more secrets hidden in this small community and powerful people who want to keep it that way.

Windflower also discovers two more things; a love of living in a small community that is completely different from his up-bringing in a remote Indian reserve and maybe the love of his life. He gets a taste of East Coast food and hospitality as well as a sense of how crime and corruption can linger beneath the surface or hide in the thick blanket of fog that sometimes creeps in from the nearby Atlantic Ocean.


The Body on the T (Book 2)

The Body on the T is the second book in the Windflower mystery series and it follows up on the highly acclaimed premiere, The Walker on the Cape. The story begins when a body washes up on a beach near Grand Bank, Newfoundland. There is no identification on the body and few clues to identify who the person was or where they came from. The case becomes the responsibility of Sgt. Winston Windflower of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and his trusted side-kick, Corporal Eddie Tizzard.

But this is just the beginning. There is also a devastating accident on the highway and another suspicious death to deal with. Throw in a rogue police officer and an international drug ring operating in the waters off the coast and Windflower’s peaceful world is turned upside down. This time Windflower’s adventures take him to the scenic town of Burin where Captain Cook once patrolled the waters looking for French mercenaries. And to historic St. John’s where he faces down an armed suspect on a parking garage rooftop in the midst of a busy downtown evening.

Along the way Windflower also continues to enjoy the food and home-style hospitality of this part of the world. Cod tongues, pan seared scallops and even figgy duff become part of his diet, and his long list of favourite foods. Windflower may be a long way from his Cree home in Northern Alberta but he has found a new place to love in the fog and mist of Newfoundland.



Beneath the Surface (Book 3)


Sgt. Windflower is back and as usual he’s loving life on the east coast. He may be a long way from his home in Northern Alberta but he has been adopted by the locals as almost one of their own. He has a good life, good work with the RCMP, and a good woman that he has grown closer to in his years on the southeast coast of Newfoundland. But trouble is brewing just beneath the surface of this calm and charm-filled existence.

It begins with the discovery of a dead girl’s body in St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador. The girl is from Grand Bank where Windflower has been stationed for the last few years. Sgt. Windflower and his associate Corporal Eddie Tizzard are pulled further and further into the case. The situation also grows to include a whole array of criminal activities from human trafficking and even the Russian Mafia.

Along the way Windflower not only has to deal with this crime wave operating all around the region, but with some challenges in his own life. He has to go back to his Aboriginal roots to find the answers to some very deep and disturbing questions. But nothing seems to bother his appetite and joy for life, especially his appetite. He continues to sample traditional Newfoundland dishes like fish and brewis but he also expands to include pan-fried sea trout and baked salmon, along with a range of desserts from blueberry buckle to his all-time favourite, peanut butter cheesecake.

His faith in the police force, that has become his life, is also threatened by a series of events that he becomes aware of that are certainly immoral if not even illegal. He is forced to face not only his own personal demons but those in real life that are lurking all around us. Sometime they are right in front of our face, but at other times they are hiding deep beneath the surface, waiting to be resolved.

A Twist of Fortune (Book 4)

A Twist of Fortune is the fourth book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series and it continues the adventures of Sgt. Windflower as he tries to solve crime and experience the joy and the sadness of life in a small maritime community. Follow along as he feels the sometimes bitter taste of an east coast winter and the unique culinary delights of this part of the world.

A Long Ways From Home (Book 5)

A weekend visit to picturesque Newfoundland by a large crew of outlaw bikers leaves behind another mess for Sgt. Windflower to clean up. This time he’s facing violence, murder, mystery and intrigue. This adventure has Windflower questioning everything he thought he knew. There are troubles on the home front, cutbacks in the policing budget, old friends leaving and new ones not quite here yet. Windflower is seeking to find answers in territory that is both dangerous and unfamiliar.
This instalment in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series has our hero dashing all over the beautiful little island of Newfoundland. Along the way he never wavers in his pursuit of justice. But he stills tries to find a way to enjoy the natural beauty that lays all around him, and to bring out the best from everybody he meets.
A Long Ways from Home is about more than just homicides or the dirty dealings of outlaw bikers. It is also about helping people and communities face up to and overcome new and very difficult challenges. Windflower relies on his friends and allies, including some four-legged ones, to help him and them find the answers. He also discovers that we are never really alone, even when we are a long ways from home.

A Tangled Web (Book 6)

Sgt. Windflower is back on the case in Grand Bank. This time there’s a missing girl, trouble at the factory and signs of danger everywhere. But there’s always good food, good friends and good company to make life worthwhile. All the usual characters and a few new suspects are back to help Windflower unravel the web of deceit and deception that threatens the small community.
 

Darkest Before the Dawn (Book 7)

Darkest Before The Dawn is the latest adventure in the Sgt. Winston Windflower mystery series, the popular Maritime tales about a Mountie who finds himself with a new family and a new life in tiny Grand Bank, Newfoundland. Ghosts, mysterious deaths, and a new, perplexing character confront Windflower, Tizzard and the other police officers in Grand Bank as they unearth secrets that have been lying hidden in the sleepy hamlet for decades. A fast-moving mystery, Darkest Before The Dawn is also a story of love, loss and learning how to grow old gracefully; a tale of family, community and looking after each other, of not giving up hope, just before the dawn.

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Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.
The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home, which was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web was released in 2017 and the newest book in the series is Darkest Before the Dawn.

Website: www.sgtwindflowermysteries.com
Twitter: @mike54martin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore/





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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Book Feature: The Liebold Protocol by Michael & Kathleen McMenamin


THE LIEBOLD PROTOCOL by Michael & Kathleen McMenamin, Cozy Mystery, 383 pp., $5.99 (kindle)


Title: THE LIEBOLD PROTOCOL
Author: Michael & Kathleen McMenamin
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Pages: 389
Genre: Historical Thriller

Winston Churchill’s Scottish goddaughter, Mattie McGary, the adventure-seeking Hearst photojournalist, reluctantly returns to Nazi Germany in the summer of 1934 and once again finds herself in deadly peril in a gangster state where widespread kidnappings and ransoms are sanctioned by the new government.

Mattie turns down an early request by her boss Hearst to go to Germany to report on how Hitler will deal with the SA Brown Shirts of Ernst Rohm who want a true socialist ‘second revolution’ to follow Hitler’s stunning first revolution in 1933. Having been away from Germany for over a year, her reputation as “Hitler’s favorite foreign journalist” is fading and she wants to keep it that way.

Instead, at Churchill’s suggestion, she persuades Hearst to let her investigate one of the best-kept secrets of the Great War—that in 1915, facilitated by a sinister German-American working for Henry Ford, British and Imperial German officials essentially committed treason by agreeing Britain would sell raw rubber to Germany in exchange for it selling precision optical equipment to Britain.  Why? To keep the war going and the profits flowing.  After Mattie interviews Ford’s German-American go-between, however, agents of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch are sent by Churchill’s political opponents in the British government to rough her up and warn her she will be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act unless she backs off the story.

Left no choice, Mattie sets out for Germany to investigate the story from the German side and interview the German nobleman who negotiated the optics for rubber deal. There, Mattie lands right in the middle of what Hearst originally wanted her to investigate—Adolf Hitler believes one revolution is enough—and she learns that Hitler has ordered the SS to assassinate all the senior leadership of Ernst Rohm’s SA Brown Shirts as well as other political enemies on Saturday 30 June, an event soon known to History as ‘The Night of the Long Knives’.

Mattie must flee Germany to save her life. Not only does the German-American working for Henry Ford want her story on the optics for rubber treason killed, he wants her dead along with it. Worse, Mattie’s nemesis, the ‘Blond Beast’ of the SS, Reinhard Heydrich, is in charge of Hitler’s purge and he’s secretly put her name on his list…

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Mattie McGary


21 Club
21 West 52nd Street
New York City
Wednesday, 13 June 1934

MATTIE McGARY tipped the taxi driver and stepped from the Yellow Cab and walked under the portico of the 21 Club, the former 1930’s speakeasy that had become, after the end of prohibition, one of the most popular watering holes in New York. It was known to its regulars, of which Mattie was one, as Jack and Charlie’s or simply 21. She was a few minutes early, but she didn’t want to keep her boss, William Randolph Hearst, waiting. The new Hearst headquarters building was just up the street at West 57th and Eighth Avenue and he also might be early.
Mattie was a tall, attractive and some—including her husband—would say stunning redhead whose figure turned heads in any room she entered. Now, she entered the Bar Room at 21 and stood there, scanning the room until she saw Hearst at his favorite table, #4, in the far left-hand corner of the room. Her hair was cut in a short tousled style that she had somewhat patterned after the American aviatrix Amelia Earhart. She wore a royal blue matching silk jacket and form-fitting skirt flattering a figure that, judging from the number of male heads that turned as she waved at Hearst and walked the length of the dark mahogany-lined room, drew men’s attention wherever she went. As she was the only woman in the Bar Room, she had no doubt most men were checking out her ass. She had wedding and engagement rings on her left hand, but she knew what her assets were.
There were various model aircraft hanging from the Bar Room’s low, dark ceiling. These included a British Imperial Airways Flying Boat, a Pan American Clipper, Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, a Ford Tri-Motor, a giant Handley-Page HP-42 bi-plane airliner, and, of personal interest to her, a Pitcairn-Cierva PCA-2 autogiro and the new German Zeppelin, the Graf Bismarck, formerly the British Vickers-built airship the R-100.
The autogiro was a model of the Celtic Princess, her husband Bourke Cockran’s aircraft. A few years ago she and her then-fiancé had flown it cross-country in an unsuccessful attempt to break America Earhart’s record set earlier that year. The zeppelin was the model of an airship commanded by her good friend Kurt von Sturm with whom, to her regret, she had a brief affair several years ago when she and Cockran had been briefly estranged and she thought, erroneously, that he had dropped her and taken up with a new blonde client.
Hearst stood up to greet Mattie when she arrived at his table. They exchanged brief kisses on the cheek and then a waiter arrived to pull out the table so she could sit beside him on the banquette. 21 had a specific protocol that if two people were dining together at a banquette table, then they had to sit next to each other facing out to the room.
Hearst was a tall, shambling man, well over 6 feet with a comma of gray hair boyishly falling over his forehead. He had clear, blue eyes and didn’t look his 71 years of age. For such a large man, however, he had a surprisingly high voice.
“Thanks for joining me for lunch, Mattie, I appreciate it.”
Mattie had been surprised Hearst asked her to lunch at 21 when she called him yesterday to schedule an appointment to discuss her next assignment. Usually, on those occasions, they met at his castle-like estate on Long Island Sound when he was on the East coast. “Any time you want to treat me to lunch at Jack and Charlie’s, Chief, all you have to do is ask and I’ll be there with bells on. What’s the occasion?”
Hearst smiled. “I always take my Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalists to celebrate at 21.”
“Well, Chief, this is the second year in a row I’ve had some stories nominated for a Pulitzer, but that’s not the same as being a winner.”
In fact, Mattie had four stories from 1933 nominated for a Pulitzer, all of which she believed deserved to be winners. One involved the Transfer Agreement between the Jewish Palestine Authority and the German government in which the Nazis agreed to allow Jews emigrating to Palestine to avoid the currency rules which forbade any German emigrant from taking assets with him. In exchange for allowing emigrating Jews to take with them to Palestine the equivalent of $5,000 US, the Jewish Palestine Authority agreed to buy exports of agricultural equipment from Germany in an equivalent amount. Further, the Jewish Authority agreed to actively oppose the Jewish-led worldwide boycott of German exports that was threatening to cripple the German economy and bring down the new Nazi government.
A companion story concerned the Concordat negotiated between the Vatican and the Nazis whereby the German government agreed to allow the Catholic Church to operate freely in Germany with no interference. In exchange, the Church agreed to forbid its clergy—priests, monks and nuns—from engaging in ‘political activity’ of any kind with the Nazis being the sole arbiter of what constituted ‘political activity’.
The third story consisted of exclusive interviews with the new German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, and the new U.S. President, Franklin Roosevelt, right before assassination attempts on both where Mattie had been sitting beside them during the attempts. A fourth story concerned the rise of the fascist movement in America, focusing on the Silver Legion of America and Friends of New Germany.
Hearst raised his hand and a waiter came over with a silver bucket of ice on a pedestal, inside of which was a bottle of champagne. He placed two champagne flutes on the table and held the bottle up for Hearst’s inspection. He nodded his approval and the waiter undid the foil, popped the cork and filled Mattie’s flute halfway to the top. She smiled when she noticed the champagne was Pol Roger, the favorite of her godfather Winston Churchill.
Once Hearst’s flute was filled, he stood up, tapped his spoon against the flute until the buzz of noise from the many luncheon conversations in that section of the room had died down. Then he raised his flute and said in a loud voice that carried to the front of the Bar Room. “I propose a toast to the Hearst organization’s newest Pulitzer Prize winner.”
Mattie blushed as applause and not a few wolf whistles greeted Hearst’s toast.
“Really, Chief, I won?” Mattie asked as she reached over and hugged Hearst after he sat down. “Which story was it?” she asked, her voice full of excitement.
“Actually, it was all four stories and two prizes. You received the prize for ‘Correspondence’ for your stories from Germany on the Transfer Agreement and the Concordat. I think it was your interview with Hermann Göring that did the trick. No other story had that. You got the ‘Reporting’ prize for your stories on the Hitler and FDR assassination attempts after your exclusive interviews with them as well as your story on American fascists. The panelists were impressed by your courage under fire with Hitler and FDR as well as your running the gauntlet of the Silver Shirts and the Friends of New Germany in front of Severance Hall in Cleveland.”
Hearst reached down into a briefcase beside him and pulled up a galley proof of The New York American dated for tomorrow and handed it to her. There, on the front page and above the fold was a bold headline: ‘Two Pulitzers For Hearst Papers’ Mattie McGary’. Right below it was a two-year-old photo of Mattie standing in front of Cockran’s autogiro that she had just flown across the country, almost breaking Amelia Earhart’s record. Shot from below, it was her favorite. She was wearing a leather flying outfit from head to toe—a shearling–lined sheepskin flying jacket, trousers and boots—a camera in one hand, her leather flight helmet and goggles in the other, her tousled red hair blowing in the wind and a big grin on her face.
“That’s only the galley for The American,” Hearst said, “but the same story in the same place will run in all my papers tomorrow.”
Thanks, Chief,” Mattie said as she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “I really appreciate it.”
“It’s a shame,” Hearst said, “that the Transfer Agreement and the Concordat undercut the anti-Nazi boycott of German exports that otherwise might have crippled the German economy and brought down the new Nazi government.”
“True, it didn’t do that,” Mattie allowed, “but don’t overlook the silver lining of the boycott. It accomplished two big things. It’s all there in my interview with Göring. First, Hitler issued a directive to the SA and its brown-shirted Storm Troopers to cease any actions like boycotts against the mostly Jewish-owned department stores and their suppliers. He even authorized a loan to a Jewish Department store that was close to bankruptcy. Sure, Hitler only did it to keep thousands of Aryans off the unemployment rolls if any department stores had to close their doors because of brown-shirt bullying, but he still did it and those stores remained open and prospering.”
Mattie paused and took a sip of champagne. “The second thing Hitler and Göring did in response to the boycott last year was even bigger. They forbade all violence against the Jews that the SA had been committing without authorization of the government. The penalty for doing so was, at a minimum, confinement to a concentration camp or, at the other end, death.”
“Really, death?” Hearst asked. “I don’t recall you mentioning that in your article.”
“I didn’t go into any detail,” Mattie replied, “and only mentioned it in passing. You remember Bobby Sullivan?”
“Sure, I first met him at San Simeon in 1929 right before the reception of the Graf Zeppelin when it arrived in Los Angeles on the round-the-world voyage I sponsored. He was in your wedding party last year in Scotland. Wasn’t he ex-IRA or something?”
“More like the Irish Republican Brotherhood led by Michael Collins. He was a member of ‘The Apostles’, Collins’ hit squad in the Anglo-Irish War in 1920 to 1921. Anyway, Bobby’s sister was married to a Jewish physician in Berlin who the SA castrated and killed last year. Göring practically gave Bobby a license to kill in taking revenge on all those responsible. He showed me photographs of Bobby’s six victims, all of them naked below the waist and missing their manly parts. Each man had a sign pinned to his chest that said ‘This is what happens to all who disobey the Fuhrer and kill Jews without his consent.’ We obviously couldn’t use them in your papers, but Göring actually had them published on the front page of Der Angriff.”
“Congratulations, Miss McGary,” the waiter said as he returned to their table to take their lunch orders. Mattie thanked him and then ordered a dozen oysters and chicken hash while Hearst went for the Dover Sole and, to her surprise, another bottle of Pol Roger. Her boss rarely drank alcohol and, in fact, prohibited alcohol in the guest rooms at San Simeon, his elaborate Spanish mission-style estate in Central California.
“I must say Göring was right,” Mattie continued after the waiter had left, “when he said the SA loved their, uh, genitals more than they hated Jews because violence against Jews over the course of the next year practically disappeared, especially in large cities where most German Jews live. I think the boycott deserves the credit for forcing Hitler’s hand to issue those decrees.”
“Okay, Mattie, what’s next? What are you going to give me to enter in next year’s Pulitzers? I’d really like to see you follow up on that SA leader Ernst Rohm and the story our Berlin correspondent filed in March about a speech he gave in early February. He said that the SA was the true army of National Socialism and that the Reichswehr should be limited to being a training organization for the SA. I’d like to know what your friend Göring thinks about that, not to mention the German General Staff.”
Mattie frowned. It had been well over a year since last she had been in Germany. As a consequence, her reputation in Germany as ‘Hitler’s favorite foreign journalist’ was beginning to fade. The last thing she wanted to do was revive that by doing a story on the SA and the German Army, notwithstanding that she had many high-level contacts in Nazi Germany including Göring and the Nazi foreign press chief Ernst ‘Putzi’ Hanfstaengl as well as Hitler himself.
Göring is not my friend, Chief. He is a source and that only because my friend Kurt von Sturm is his principle adviser on airships. Speaking of airships, Bourke and I are flying to Europe this Saturday on the Graf Bismarck. We’re going to spend the summer at our new house in Ireland. Bourke is going to finish his book on political assassinations and I’m going to use it as a base of operations for what I hope you’ll approve as my next story. Patrick and his grandmother Mary Morrissey sail tomorrow for Ireland. He’s going to spend a month in Galway with her getting to know his first and second cousins before he comes up to join us in Donegal.”
“That sounds like a wonderful summer. What did you have in mind for your next story, my dear?”
“Fascist movements in Europe other than Germany and Italy. A companion piece, if you will, to my story on fascism in America. Democracy is in trouble, Chief. I’ve done the preliminary research and there are fascist movements all over Europe. If the world’s economy stays bad, many of them could come to power just like Hitler and Mussolini.”
Her oysters arrived and Mattie ate one, took a sip of champagne and continued.
She held up her hand, and ticked them off on her fingers. “There are strong fascist parties in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Poland.”
“Well,” Hearst began, “I suppose it would be a good follow-up to the American fascist story, but I really was hoping to have an in-depth piece on the growing tension between Rohm’s SA and the German General Staff who I imagine don’t take kindly to becoming just a training cadre for Nazi Storm Troopers. Our new Berlin correspondent, Prescott Talbot, is good, but he’s not as good as his predecessor Isaac Rosenbaum or, for that matter, you.”
Mattie began to reply, but she was interrupted by their entrées being served. After the waiter had left and she had sampled her chicken hash, she looked over at Hearst. “Yes, it’s a shame you had to reassign Zack, but you had no choice after those SA thugs fractured his skull and cut off his ear for a souvenir. London is a far safer place for a Jewish journalist. Look, I really don’t want to get involved in any story about Ernst Rohm.”
“Why is that?” Hearst asked.
“Because when I was working on the Transfer Agreement, Kurt von Sturm and I were kidnapped at the Reichsbank one night by SA Storm Troopers and brought to Rohm’s hotel suite where, in plain view, he was buggering one of his adjutants, a young, very naked blond Storm Trooper.”
Hearst’s eyes went wide. “Oh, my God!” Hearst exclaimed. “I had no idea.”
“Wait. It gets worse. It’s common knowledge that Rohm is homosexual, so I wasn’t surprised, but doing it right in front of us was a tad off-putting. What’s worse is that he threatened to do the same to me if Kurt and I didn’t tell him why we had been at the Reichsbank that evening.”
“That’s…I’m at a loss...What a horrible person.” Hearst said.
“Yep,” Mattie said and slurped another oyster. “Fortunately, Sturm bluffed our way out of Rohm’s clutches. He said that I was an undercover Gestapo agent who used my position as a journalist with the Hearst papers as a cover for my work for the Reich and that we had been on a top-secret mission inside the Reichsbank at the behest of Reichsminister Göring with the blessing of the Fuhrer.”
“Well, given that, I understand your reluctance to go anywhere near that man again, but can’t you do the story without interviewing him?” Hearst said.
“Here’s what I can do. “Mattie concluded, “Göring and Rohm are bitter enemies. I’ve known Göring since 1923 when he commandeered my motorcar as a machine gun platform in the Munich putsch. If I have Sturm convey my request to Göring to have him give an exclusive interview to Prescott Talbot on the subject of Ernst Rohm, I’m sure he’ll agree. I’ll have Kurt brief Talbot off the record on what he knows. Göring has wiretaps on all the top SA people, not just Rohm. Transcripts of the calls are made daily. They’re called the ‘Brown Pages’ because of the color of the paper on which they’re typed. Sturm is on the approved list so he may well know a lot about what Rohm and other SA thugs are up to.”
Hearst sighed. “Well, it’s not the same as you doing the interview, but it’s better than what Talbot could do on his own. I’m not enthusiastic about your European fascist story, but let me think about it some more and I’ll get back to you. Why do I have the idea you always get the better of me when we disagree on your next story?”
Mattie grinned. “A faulty memory on your part, Chief. Sooner or later, you always get your way.”














Michael McMenamin is the co-author with his son Patrick of the award winning 1930s era historical novels featuring Winston Churchill and his fictional Scottish goddaughter, the adventure-seeking Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary. The first five novels in the series—The DeValera Deception, The Parsifal Pursuit, The Gemini Agenda, The Berghof Betrayal and The Silver Mosaic—received a total of 15 literary awards. He is currently at work with his daughter Kathleen McMenamin on the sixth Winston and Mattie historical adventure, The Liebold Protocol.
Michael is the author of the critically acclaimed Becoming Winston Churchill, The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor [Hardcover, Greenwood 2007; Paperback, Enigma 2009] and the co-author of Milking the Public, Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby from LBJ to Jimmy Carter [Nelson Hall, 1980]. He is an editorial board member of Finest Hour, the quarterly journal of the International Churchill Society and a contributing editor for the libertarian magazine Reason. His work also has appeared in The Churchills in Ireland, 1660-1965, Corrections and Controversies [Irish Academic Press, 2012] as well as two Reason anthologies, Free Minds & Free Markets, Twenty Five Years of Reason [Pacific Research Institute, 1993] and Choice, the Best of Reason [BenBella Books, 2004]. A full-time writer, he was formerly a first amendment and media defense lawyer and a U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent.   


Kathleen, the other half of the father-daughter writing team, has been editing her father’s writing for longer than she cares to remember. She is the co-author with her sister Kelly of the critically acclaimed Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality [Sterling, 2017]. The two sisters are professional organizers, personality-type experts and the founders of PixiesDidIt, a home and life organization business. Kathleen is an honors graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and has an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. The novella Appointment in Prague is her second joint writing project with her father. Their first was “Bringing Home the First Amendment”, a review in the August 1984 Reason magazine of Nat Hentoff’s The Day They Came to Arrest the Book.  While a teen-ager, she and her father would often take runs together, creating plots for adventure stories as they ran.

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Book Spotlight: Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter by A.L. Bryant


BLESSED: THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER by A.L. Bryant, Supernatural/Christian/Thriller/Horror, 279 pp., $5.99 (Kindle)

Title: BLESSED: THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER
Author: A.L. Bryant
Publisher: HSW Publications LLC
Pages: 279
Genre: Supernatural Christian Thriller/Horror

On New Year’s Eve 2021 the staff at St. Ann’s Hospital witness a medical miracle when a semi-conscious woman walks into the emergency room. The Jane Doe has been stabbed multiple times and as the staff struggle to keep the woman alive in the end all they can do is stand back and watch as their mysterious patient revives herself.

Glory wakes up in St. Ann’s Hospital gravely injured from an attack she cannot remember. However, her memory loss is no ordinary amnesia and she is no ordinary patient. Much to the shock of the hospital staff Glory heals at three times the rate of an average person. Soon the administration hears of her unique case and waste no time convincing the recovering Glory to be a part of an experiment to discover the origins of her power.

Once outside the comforting walls of the hospital it becomes apparent that healing is just a small portion of Glory’s capabilities. Abilities that to Glory’s distress are becoming increasingly unstable. Deciding that the hospital’s experiments are in vain, Glory embarks on her own Journey to discover the source of her power, unaware that she is a major pawn in a war between two secret organizations.
The two syndicates continue to clash in their fight for control and their battles result in several casualties. The crimes of their warfare surface and draw the attention of Dennis Wilson, a NYPD Detective known for solving his cases in the first forty-eight hours. Dennis follows the trail of bodies out of curiosity. But when his curiosity causes the deaths of his loved ones Detective Dennis becomes obsessed with the case.

In his overzealous attempts to find the murderer Dennis becomes the syndicates’ next target. Now the Detective must run for his life and the only person capable of saving him is the very person he suspects.

Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter is a hybrid of government espionage and supernatural Thriller. This novel is intended for audiences 18+ that seek an edgier outlook on Christian fiction. Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter is the first installment of the Blessed trilogy.

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With a slight hesitation, Glory examined the entrance. Using the corner of her jacket she tested the knob, not overly surprised when the door opened easily. Behind her, she could still hear the muffled sounds of the girl’s sobs. Glory stepped one foot through the door and paused. She turned sideways and looked back out into the yard. With one foot inside the house and one still on the porch, she stared at the girl, whose eyes were as wide as her own. The side of her body that remained outside of the house felt light; she could feel the breeze whip her clothing. She raised her hand and, as expected, it lifted easily. Glory looked down at her other arm, the one in the corridor of the house. Sweat drizzled down her brow as she struggled to lift it.
            Making sure to keep her voice light, Glory nodded in the direction of the gate. “Go home, I’ll get Mitch and he’ll call you afterwards.” She waited until the girl nodded reluctantly and disappeared.
Feeling a strong urge to leave, Glory turned as quickly as she could and closed the door behind her. Instant darkness. She pulled out the cell phone Dr. Stephens had helped her purchase shortly after she left the hospital, and turned its flashlight on. She had not paid the bill in a long time, so she had no service, but Glory still kept it charged. The corridor was short, maybe two or three large steps long. A staircase, which dominated the space in the narrow corridor, stood against the left wall. Glory shined the light up the steps trying to determine where they led, but the light’s range was too short.
Examining the staircase carefully to make sure it could hold her weight, Glory began ascending. The house had its own gravity; every step felt like moving through quicksand. By the time she made it to the top, she was winded. She leaned against the wall, shining her light around the area while she rested. She stood in another corridor, much larger than the first one. A solid wall lined one side; several doors, some of them mere centimeters apart, lined the other. She pushed herself away from the wall and walked to the first door, covered her hand with her jacket, turned the knob, and pushed the door. It gave way only slightly before it refused to open any farther. She tried pulling the door, but it could only be opened inward. She pushed one more time, shining a light through the narrow opening to see if she could locate the blockage—silently hoping it wasn’t the boy—but nothing met the light. Frustrated, she moved on to the next door, only to encounter the same problem.
By the sixth one, Glory started to wonder if any of them were meant to open. With each door, she put more strength and effort into her shoulders and arms, desperately trying to force her way through. By the twelfth, she was exhausted. She took a deep breath and shoved her shoulder against it. The door swung open, Glory stumbled two feet, and fell through the hole behind it. She fell through one story of the house into an open room and into the much bigger hole in that room’s floor. She fell through another story and into another room with another hole. She hit hard rock and slid until she landed on her back. Her head hit the floor and her eyes instantly clouded from the impact.
Glory’s breath and sight came back simultaneously. Slowly, she sat up with a grunt as she brought her right hand to her ribs. Not only had her pack survived the fall, but she had managed to hold on to her phone. Standing up, still favoring her left side, Glory began dusting herself off. Her hands shook and she took a deep breath to dispel the effects of the adrenaline still rushing through her body. Turning on the light so she could look around, Glory shifted her feet. Taking a small step forward, she tripped on something, but managed sustain her balance with a small hop to dislodge whatever had caught her foot.
Glory turned the light downward to look at the ground and saw a piece of cloth clinging to her boot. Ruffles—the cloth was filthy, covered in dust and grime, but the ruffles still maintained their shape. Forgetting herself, Glory reached out and ran her fingertips over the cloth, smoothing the dirt away so she could see the color. Her fingertips grew warm and her eyes widened as she realized what she had done. Too late, she snatched her hand away.
“This is so exciting!” A young woman in a blue ball gown tightened her grip on her friend’s arm, her gloved fingers long and delicate. Looking a little less interested, her friend, a tall, thin brunette, pried the girl’s hands from her arm, but her friend only returned them with slightly less bruising force.
“Yes, well, if my father knew I was here, it would be the end of me.”
“That’s what these are for, silly.” The young woman flipped her blonde hair behind her shoulders and tapped her masquerade mask with her folded fan.
“I shouldn’t have let you talk me into this. I have a bad feeling.”
“You are thinking far too much. Now tell me how beautiful I look and then let’s go get some refreshments.”
The brunette stood back and pretended to consider her friend. “You look positively stunning as always, Annabelle. Your dress is lovely; I could never pull off so many ruffles.”
Annabelle waved the last statement away. “Nonsense, Sarah, I’m sure you would look just as lovely in ruffles. I don’t know why you insist on wearing such drab garments.” She looked her friend up and down, a frown on her face as she examined the dark green dress that covered Sarah, from its unfashionably high neckline down to the slightly pointed toes of her boots.
Sarah grimaced. “My father does not agree with today’s fashions. He thinks exposing shoulders, wrists, and cleavage is unseemly.” Trying to distract her friend from her dress, she made a show of looking around. “This is an extremely odd house, isn’t it? Why would he build a staircase directly at the entrance?”
“For that matter, why build a staircase that only goes to the top floor when there are four flights in between?”
“We’ve been here less than an hour and I’m already confused. So many corridors and staircases.”
“And how many rooms are there, anyway? There are doors everywhere you look.” The girls spoke frantically now, their intertwined arms squeezing together as they became more excited.
Annabelle turned to her friend. “Let’s explore the house more.”
Sarah looked over her shoulder. “I don’t know. We haven’t even greeted the host yet. It would be bad manners.”
Annabelle shrugged. “It was bad manners for him not to show himself so he could be greeted.”
Keeping an eye on the group they had been standing with, Annabelle pulled Sarah toward the door, only to stop mid-stride as their path was cut off by a large figure in an expensive dinner jacket and a full porcelain mask.
“Good evening, ladies.”
Annabelle released Sarah’s arm and took a step closer, resting her hand coquettishly on her bosom. “Good evening.” She let the greeting hang in the air. When the man merely nodded, Annabelle tried again.
“I do not recognize you, and since I know everyone in this town except the owner of this fine home, you must be…”
“The owner? That is correct.”
Barely masking her annoyance, Annabelle turned to her companion. “This is…”
The man held up his hand, effectively cutting off the introduction.
“If I wished to know the identity of my guests, then I would not have made this a masquerade ball.”
Flustered by her mistake, Annabelle released a breathy chuckle. “My apologies, I don’t know what I was thinking. We must keep the mystery up.”
The man turned his head to the side as he considered the two ladies. “Do you like mysteries?”
Eager to impress, Annabelle stepped forward. “Yes, I do!”
The man turned to look at Sarah, who hovered in the background, not at all certain she wanted to join in the conversation.
“And what about horrors?”
Taken aback, Annabelle frowned. “I beg your pardon?”
“Do you like to be frightened?”
Not sure where this was leading, Annabelle glanced at her friend. “I suppose being frightened every once in a while can be thrilling.”
The man nodded slowly as if contemplating her answer. “Do you believe in the supernatural?”
Annabelle laughed. “Do you mean ghosts and goblins? I think it’s nonsense.” She waved a delicate hand. “Stories to scare children.”
“And what of demons?”
Annabelle paused, the smile wiped from her face. “The church tells us that they exist, so I believe in them.”
The man leaned back on his heels and shoved his hands into his pockets. “So do I. I have always been curious, and judging by the turnout of this gathering, I’m not the only curious one.”
While he surveyed his guests, Sarah inched forward and grabbed her friend’s arm.
“Come, Annabelle.” Annabelle ignored her, staring at the man as if mesmerized. Sarah pulled sharply on her arm. “You said you wanted to explore the house.” This time Annabelle looked at her and nodded, allowing Sarah to lead her around the man and toward the door.
“Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be possessed?” Both girls turned to look back at the man as he spoke. “All the power of the demons and none of the rigid rules of the angels.”
Sarah trembled. “At the expense of our souls and sanity? No, thank you. You can keep your so-called demonic power.” She pulled Annabelle forward and escorted her through the door. Before she could close it behind them, she looked up to see the man looking directly into her eyes for the first time.
“There is only one way to leave this house, and it isn’t the way by which you entered. I doubt you could find the exit even if you stayed here a hundred years.” He turned and headed toward his other guests. “I wish you the best of luck.”
Sarah closed the door. “What an unpleasant man.”
Annabelle shrugged, walking along the corridor, sliding her hand along the wall. “I think he’s fascinating.”
“I think we should leave, Annabelle.”
Annabelle swung around. “I’m not leaving until I’ve explored this house.” When Sarah didn’t make a move to follow, Annabelle turned her mouth down, opened her eyes wide, and lifted her pupils, creating the perfect pout. “Just this one corridor and then I promise we will leave post haste.”
Sarah studied her friend and then nodded. “Just this one corridor and then we’re leaving.”
Annabelle smiled and skipped toward her friend, linking their arms once more.
Trying to take her mind off the eerie darkness of the corridor, Sarah changed the subject. “I wonder what he meant when he said that judging from the turnout, there were a lot of people curious about demons.”
“Oh!” Annabelle swatted the question away. “He was just referring to his invitations.”
Sarah looked over her shoulder. Had she heard something? “What about his invitations?”
“In his invitation, he appealed to those of us who were interested in a thrilling evening. Something about satisfying curiosity about demons in—and these are his words—the demons’ playground.”
“What?” Sarah stopped walking. She stared in Annabelle’s direction, but could barely see her in the dim lighting.
Misinterpreting, Annabelle shrugged. “I know… Who would name their house that?”
Sarah grabbed Annabelle’s shoulders. “Who cares about the name—why did you come? Why are we here?”
Annabelle tried to pry Sarah’s bruising grip from her shoulders. “Calm yourself, Sarah. It’s like taking a ghost tour, there is no need to be—”
Sarah covered Annabelle’s mouth with her hand. “What is that?” The question was rhetorical; the noise was piercing and distinct.
“W-why is everyone screaming?” Annabelle, who had taken Sarah’s hand from her mouth, stared back toward the ballroom. Sarah grabbed her friend and made a move back toward the sound—but more importantly toward the path she hoped would lead to the exit. The girls had only gotten a few feet when the corridor erupted in chaos.
Terrified men and women spilled from the room, tripping over each other in their panic and trampling the people in their way. They didn’t run back the way they came. Instead, they ran toward the two girls, their bodies pressing forward trying to propel themselves farther away from the ballroom. Everything happened so fast that it took Sarah a couple of seconds to react. In that short period of time, the mass of people was almost upon them. Sarah swung around and pushed the startled Annabelle farther into the corridor.
“Get into one of the rooms!” Annabelle grabbed the closest doorknob. She leaned her weight against it. Sarah came to help.
“It won’t open!” Annabelle cried.
“It’s locked?”
“Not locked—just won’t open!”
“Try the next one. Hurry!” Giving up on that door, Sarah followed Annabelle to the next one. She looked over her shoulder to find the crowd less than ten feet from them. Directly behind her friend, she cried out in relief as Annabelle opened the door. But her world came crashing down as she watched her friend disappear in that same second.
Glory sat up sharply. A full minute passed before she stopped gasping and coughing. She had made some progress in controlling the duration of her illusions. Standing, she dusted herself off and picked up her cellphone. From what she could tell, she was underground in a place that resembled a dungeon carved from the rock that the mansion had been built on. It was large and dark. There was no place for light to shine through, so even during the daytime, the room would still be pitch black.











A.L. Bryant was born and raised in St. Petersburg FL. She became interested in writing at an early age; an interest that depending on the circumstance brought punishment (detention for passing out the latest installment of her novella during class) and praise (being chosen for a youth writers conference at the Poynter Institute.)  A.L. Bryant gets her inspiration from both her mother and her Great Grandmother. Her mother recently published an inspirational children’s book under a pseudonym and her great grandmother is South Carolina’s first published African-American female author and playwright.

Until recently writing had simply been a pastime for A.L. Bryant who although she attended several writing courses, graduated with a B.A. in International Business. It was shortly after her second job as a Financial Office Manager at a Goodwill correctional facility that she realized she loved writing more than anything else. It would still be some years before she would convert the short story she wrote in college into a novel.

Besides writing, A.L. Bryant loves traveling the world. God has blessed her with the opportunity to visit a total of seven countries. She has studied abroad in Seoul and has traveled throughout Kenya; two locations she researched for her Blessed series. Her dream is to visit every country in the world.
Her latest book is the supernatural Christian thriller horror novel, Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/ALBryantHSW
Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100029069148653

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Interview with Douglas Baign, author of From Straigh-laced to Cross-dressed


Inside the Book:

 
Title: From Straight-laced to Cross-dressed
Author: Douglas Baign
Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com
Genre: Biographies/Memoirs
Format: Ecopy /Paperback

From Straight-laced to Cross-dressed tells the story of a disturbed adult in therapy seeking to understand and prevent his desire to commit suicide. Douglas starts by knowing that it has something to do with sex but soon discovers that he can't talk about his sexuality without first discussing his religious beliefs and drift away from strict Christian Fundamentalism.The overlapping issues dredge up a confused morass of anger and love, abuse and sex.

  PURCHASE HERE

Could you please tell us a little about your book?
My book weaves therapy sessions from the present with stories from my past as I gradually unravel the root causes as to why I once wanted to commit suicide, layer upon layer upon layer. I tell the story from the patient's point of view, starting from being inside the therapist's office wondering what the heck is going on. (I was so messed up that I didn't even know why I wanted to die.)

The journal the book is based on was a form of personal therapy. I wrote the book to speak both for myself and for others like me. Things that are obvious when you're mentally healthy are so muddled when you're not, but that's difficult to understand until you can get a glimpse inside a troubled mind. The book may also be useful for liberals or non-Christians who want to see inside the Fundamentalist mind.

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?
The inspiration probably started 45 years ago when I broke up with Leanne, my first girlfriend. She'd encouraged me to become a writer even back then but I didn't see how I could make a career out of it. Still, I was keeping a journal at the time.

Between the breakup and several other factors (too long to mention here) I became an emotional wreck and eventually suffered my first meltdown when I was about 21. I didn't even really understand what I was going through.

But I had my journal and Leane's love letters - about 100 8" x 11 1/2" pages of material or so. Something told me: “There's a clue in here. I don't know what the clue is, but if I keep this material I can go back over it again and learn more about what's wrong.”

It took me about 10 years to rebuild my life after my mental breakdown and I finally got married and finished college when I was 30. I then had a normal career, but eventually the same factors started to catch up to me right around the turn of the century and I became suicidal.

So I got onto meds, sought out a counselor, then dragged out my old journal and started looking for clues. After that, I started to write down observations and thoughts piecemeal. 10 years after that, I began to seriously sort out the material and to write the book.

What cause are you the most passionate about and why?
I get wound up about two things: deception and black-and-white thinking. You get both inside Christian Fundamentalism and that just absolutely drives me crazy. It’s not necessary.

I hate deception for the obvious reasons. But hating black-and-white thinking is more difficult to explain until you've experienced it first-hand. Limiting God to just black-and-white is like trying to watch “Sound of Music” in black-and-white - without any music. Bleh. Sometimes I get so angry at this that I just have to walk away.

I've seen black-and-white thinking firsthand from the belly of the fundamentalist beast and I've seen what it can do to people. It's not just my story, there are so many people who have been deceived by the same factors. I wrote this book partly to address the lies.

Do you have any rituals you follow when you finish a piece of work?
Not really. It feels good to finish and relax for a day or so, but then you're bummed because you're done.

Who has influenced you through your writing career?
My boss at work. I wrote lots of technical documentation and my boss helped me learn to write clearly and concisely. She also encouraged my outside interest in writing this book and in writing poetry. I worked for her for about 20 years, so she was a major influence.

I also admire Ray Bradbury's books. There's such color and passion to them, a vividness that I want to recreate. “The Martian Chronicles” and “Dandelion Wine” just sit on my bookshelf waiting to be reread. And reread again.

What are your long-term goals?
Wow. Live forever.

Well, OK. I mean that I'm 61 and it feels like there are too many things I want to accomplish to complete them all in one lifetime.

Mostly, I want to finish writing the books I have in my head. That's another memoir or two, a collection of children's stories, and at least two research books in religious history (a study of early Gnosticism and a history of Christian Fundamentalism from the Civil War to now). I've got notes on all these.


I'll also want to publish the book of poetry I've written and my two new “books” of the Bible (not really, but that's the premise). After that, I can write some more music, learn photography, and maybe learn to paint. Then maybe I’ll go skydiving.


MEET THE AUTHOR
Coming from a long line of teachers, Douglas Baign has a Masters degree in Education but spent his career testing and documenting low-level software. He likes looking at anything basic then challenging assumptions. Doug also has a BS in Cognitive Psychology and a deep and abiding interest in History and Physics.

Douglas' super-power is breaking things, especially computer code, but he prefers to create books, poetry and music. He also enjoys travel and photography.

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