Monday, March 18, 2019

Today's Guest Author: A.L. Bryant, Author of Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter



BLESSED: THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER by A.L. Bryant, Supernatural/Christian/Thriller/Horror, 279 pp.


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.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon





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


As a book bloggin’ and book luvin’ Princess, I’m always curious to find out how authors got the ideas for their books.  Can you tell us what your book is about?

I wanted to play around with the notion of a spiritual being (or someone more in tune with spirituality) living in a natural world. A world that only acknowledges the natural. What struggles would someone like that face? How would they cope? COULD they cope when, according to the world they live in, their very existence is a lie?

Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book?

Glory is a Stoic character with a lot of layers beneath her deliberate nature. Her character starts out a bit dry. As the reader you get to see her slowly unravel as things happen to and around her that she doesn't fully understand.

Detective Wilson is a cynical NYPD cop that's very good at his job but, by his own admittance, that has more to do with his obsessive nature than anything else. He can be a little rough around the edges but he actually has a good heart.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?

To not be afraid of following your dream of being a professional writer. Don’t waste time wondering if you should do it.

What would you say is one of your interesting writing quirks?

Normally I would say my weirdest quirk is switching methods (keyboard to pen and paper and vice versa) to become inspired but my loved ones brought to my attention that my most interesting quirk is how much of my writing time is spent pacing.

Do you hear from your readers?  What do they say?

I would like to hear more from my readers.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

In college a colleague told me I need to work on telling vs. showing. It was the best advice I have received and I try hard to always keep that in the forefront when writing.

What has been your best accomplishment?

Getting my novel published.

Do you Google yourself?

Ironically not until I saw this question. It’s scary how much google knows.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

None that I want to publish.

Fun question – if you were princess or prince, what’s one thing you would do to make your kingdom a better place?

I want to say that every citizen gets their own personal griffin for transportation and companionship but I think we should start small . . . perhaps a livable wage?

Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?

It just brings me immense joy to know that people read and enjoy my novel.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

In the Spotlight: Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones


JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE by Sherry Jones, Biography/Historical, 304 pp., $11.00 (paperback) $11.99 (Kindle)

Title: JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE
Author: Sherry Jones
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 304
Genre: Biography/Historical

From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.

Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine’s early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.

Purchase Josephine Baker’s Last Dance in paperback,  ebook,  and  audiobook  formats on  Simon and Schuster’s website (available on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble,  BooksAMillion,  Indiebound,  Kobo,  and  other sites). Learn more about Sherry’s books  at  www.authorsherryjones.com





Just before she entered the stage door, a drop of rain hit her on the head. No, that was not a bad omen, only a reminder to do her best, to shine like the star she was, or would be. Wilsie came running up—Mr. Sissle was there, but Mr. Blake had yet to arrive. “You’ll knock ’em dead, Tumpy. Just do your dancing and forget the rest.” Josephine didn’t need to be told that. She was ready.
She flexed and stretched her arms as she walked with Wilsie across the stage, past the musicians gathering, trumpets and saxophones and drums and a clarinet, down into the auditorium, where a slender man spoke to a white-haired man at his side. He turned his head very slightly and looked her up and down from the corners of his shrewd, hard eyes. His mouth pursed.
“How old are you?” he’d said before Wilsie had even introduced them. The stage door opened, and a very dark-skinned man with a bald head hurried in, talking about “the damned rain,” scampering down the steps, striding up the aisle, shaking water from his clothes.
“Eubie Blake,” he said, smiling, holding out his hand to her.
“This is Tumpy, Mr. Blake, the one I told you about,” Wilsie said. “She’s here to audition for Clara’s spot in the chorus.”
The man with Mr. Sissle—the stage manager—motioned to her and she followed him up the stage steps. Did she know the songs? Could she dance to “I’m Just Wild about Harry”? Josephine wanted to jump for joy. She pretended to watch as Wilsie showed her the steps, which she already knew as if she’d made them up herself. Josephine stripped down to her dingy leotard, tossed her clothes on a chair, then ran and leaped to the center of the stage. This was it. She bent over to grasp her ankles, stretching her legs, then stood and pulled her arms over her head.
“Ready?” Mr. Sissle barked. The music started, and she began the dance, so simple she could have done it in her sleep. Practicing in the Standard, she’d gotten bored with it and had made up her own steps, throwing in a little Black Bottom, wiggling her ass and kicking her legs twice as high as they wanted to go, taken by the music, played by it, the instruments’ instrument, flapping her hands, step and kick and spin and spin and squat and jump and down in a split, up and jump and kick and spin—oops, the steps, she didn’t need no damn steps, she had better ones—and kick and jump and wiggle and spin. She looked out into the auditorium—a big mistake: Mr. Blake’s mouth was open and Mr. Sissle’s eyes had narrowed to slits. Don’t be nervous, just dance. Only the music remained now, her feet and the stage.
When she’d finished, panting, and pulled on her dress and shoes, Wilsie came running over, her eyes shining. “You made their heads spin, you better believe it,” she whispered, but when they went down into the aisle Josephine heard Mr. Sissle muttering.
“Too young, too dark, too ugly,” he said. The world stopped turning, then, the sun frozen in its arc, every clock still, every breath caught in every throat. Mr. Blake turned to her, smiling as if everything were normal, and congratulated her on “a remarkable dance.”
“I can see that you are well qualified for our chorus, Tumpy,” he said, and on his lips, the name sounded like a little child’s.
“You have real talent, and spark, besides. How did you learn to do that at such a young age? You are—how old?”
“Fifteen,” she said.
Mr. Sissle snorted, and cut Wilsie a look. “Wasting my time,” he said. Mr. Blake looked at her as if she’d just wandered in from the orphanage.
“I’m very sorry, there’s been a mix-up,” he said. “You must be sixteen to dance professionally in New York State.”
“I’ll be sixteen in June,” Josephine said. Her voice sounded plaintive and faraway.
“We need someone now.” Mr. Sissle folded his arms as if she were underage on purpose. Mr. Blake led her toward the stage door, an apologetic Wilsie saying she hadn’t known. Mr. Sissle followed, talking to Mr. Blake about adding some steps to “I’m Just Wild about Harry,” saying they should put in some kicks, that he’d been thinking about it for a while. Uh-huh.
“Come and see us in New York after your birthday, doll,” Mr. Blake said. “You never know when we might have an opening.” He opened the door and let the rain pour in before shutting it again. He looked at Josephine’s thin, optimistic dress. Where was her umbrella? She hung her head. He stepped over to retrieve a black umbrella propped against the wall and handed it to her. She took it without even knowing, her thoughts colliding like too many birds in a cage. She would have to stay in Philadelphia, she had failed—too young, too dark, too ugly—she should have lied about her age, what had gotten into her? Showing off, that was what.
And now Mr. Sissle disliked her, and she would never get into their show; it didn’t matter how many times she went back. As she stepped out into the rain with that big umbrella in her hands unopened and felt the rain pour down her face; she was glad, for now they would think it was water instead of tears, but when she looked back, Wilsie was crying, too, in the open doorway.
Seeing the men watching from a window, she stopped. They wouldn’t forget her; she’d make them remember. She walked slowly, her silk dress dripping, while Mr. Sissle gesticulated with excitement as he stole her ideas—authentic Negro dancing were the last words she’d heard—and Mr. Blake looking as if he wanted to run out there, scoop her up, and carry her back inside.
( Continued… )
© 2018 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Sherry Jones. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.








Author and journalist Sherry Jones is best known for her international bestseller The Jewel of Medina. She is also the author of The Sword of MedinaFour SistersAll QueensThe Sharp Hook of Love, and the novella White Heart.  Sherry lives in Spokane, WA, where, like Josephine Baker, she enjoys dancing, singing, eating, advocating for equality, and drinking champagne.

Her latest novel is Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

Website: http://authorsherryjones.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sherryjones
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sherryjones
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/sherry-jones
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sherryjonesfanpage
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/josephinebakerslastdance
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cybersecuritytechnologywriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1219600.Sherry_Jones





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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

{Author Interview} Karen Carew Oakes Author of Drewsilla the Shelter Puppy


Karen Carew Oakes, has been writing for many years and her articles have been included in the Lutheran Advent, as well as an article in several magazines. She is a mother and grandmother. She lives in Helotes, Texas with her two schnauzers Ella and Mackenzie. Her stories are based on true experiences her children encountered growing up.

Visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/karencarewoakes.  



About the Book:

Title: DREWSILLA THE SHELTER PUPPY
Author: Karen Carew Oakes
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Pages: 22
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

BOOK BLURB:
When Drewsilla and her siblings are tiny puppies, an accident steals their mother away. A kind stranger rescues them and takes them to a shelter, where the staff works around the clock to care for the pack of newborns. Soon, her brothers and sisters begin to thrive. Drewsilla has a beautiful black coat, intelligent eyes, and ears that stand straight up.

Drewsilla, though, is scared. She seems afraid of everyone and everything and hides in the back of her cage when families come to visit. As her friendly siblings each get adopted, lonely Drewsilla remains. The staff even worries that she might never find a home. Then, one day, something amazing happens.
The Johnsons come to the shelter to look at another dog and see Drewsilla, who miraculously finds the courage to stop hiding and say hello. All shelter dogs deserve the chance to find a loving family, and this is the true story of Drewsilla -- how she overcomes her fears, finds her family, and gets a second chance at a happy life.

ORDER YOUR COPY:



As a book bloggin’ and book luvin’ Princess, I’m always curious to find out about the characters in the book. Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book?

Drewsilla is the main character for the book. She is a beautiful black dog, that had a rough start in life.  She and her litter mates were abandoned and taken to the local shelter to be cared for. She loves to play with her balls. She often has one in her mouth as she pushes another around on the floor.

Can you give us an excerpt?


Days and weeks passed and Drewsilla remained at the shelter.  The staff was beginning to think she would never find a home. Not only was Drewsilla shy but her color also made to more difficult to find her a home.

Then one day the Johnsons came to the shelter. They had looked on the shelter website for available dogs they wanted to see. Drewsilla was not one of them. It just so happened
That they would have to pass directly in front of Drewsillas cage. As they passed something amazing happened.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?

Believe in yourself. It’s not easy but don’t give up.

What would you say is one of your interesting writing quirks?

I have to have the tv on when I’m writing. The background noise is soothing somehow.

Do you hear from your readers?  What do they say?

They want to meet Drewsilla. Drewsilla has come a long way but is still rather shy.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

The story wasn’t long enough

What has been your best accomplishment?

My children.

Do you Google yourself?

I have once or twice.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? I actually am working on the illustrations for my series. The Misadventures of Kelly and Radar.

Fun question – if you were princess or prince, what’s one thing you would do to make your kingdom a better place?

I would decree that Kindness be a part of everyday. Pay it forward.

Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?

Adopt from your local shelter. Give a furbaby a chance at a forever home.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

In the Spotlight: 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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