5 Questions with James D. Bell, Author of 'Maximilian's Treasure'

James D. Bell is an award-winning author and retired Judge who received the highest bar association approval ratings ever given to a Mississippi Circuit or County Judge. He is listed in Preeminent Lawyers, Outstanding Lawyers of America and Top 100 Attorneys of North America.  The son of a Choctaw mother and a Mississippi businessman, Judge Bell is devoted to his wife, Joanne.  They live in Brandon, Mississippi and have four children.  Judge Bell practices law in Jackson, Mississippi, but is frequently called back to the bench by the Mississippi Supreme Court for short term assignments.

Q: What’s inside the mind of a legal thriller author?
A:  I’m drawing a blank.  Let me call John Grisham and get back to you.
Ok, I’m ready now.  At the core is a burning desire to see justice prevail.  My characters come alive in my imagination.  I can hear their dialog, see their expressions and smell the gun smoke.  Mystery and motive intrigue me, but my thoughts quickly turn to action, adventure and romance.
Q: Tell us why readers should buy Maximilian’s Treasure.
A:  You will find a treasure (a message) that will enrich your life, and you will be thoroughly entertained with explosive, fast paced action, courtroom drama, romance and belly laughs.  
Q: What makes a good legal thriller author?
A:  Motivation, imagination and experience.  I lived real life drama hundreds of times in courtrooms; where fear and courage are mixed with lies and truth and seasoned with foolishness and wisdom, resulting in crushed spirits and overwhelming joy.  I fell in love with the quest for justice the moment I first stepped into a courtroom.  I had a passion to write about my experiences, but for decades I lacked the proper motivation.  Every book and every movie used to have a purpose, a “moral to the story.”  I feel that we have lost that purpose with some of today’s entertainment.  I am motivated to bring back the moral to the story.  That is why I write.  Maximilian’s Treasure is packed with hidden treasurers for the reader to discover.  I drew upon my actual experiences to bring life to Maximilian’s Treasure.  I participated in many of the conversations, I dove the reefs, crossed the river, travelled the roads, climbed the cliffs, hung by my fingernails over the precipice, entered the cave behind the waterfall, just as described in the book. Ultimately, I found my Maximilian’s Treasure.  If you persevere, you will too.
Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
Q: What has writing taught you?
A:  Don’t be intimidated by a blank page or blank computer screen.  Be intentional.  Set aside time to write and follow through.  Don’t quit.  Finish the story and start the next one.  Dream great dreams and do great deeds.

Author Interview: Scifi Military Thriller Author William M. Hayes

William M. Hayes lives with his beautiful family in a small suburb in New York. His passion for writing became apparent in his twenties, and he dreams of retiring to a secluded beach house where he can write all day.

website & social links

Website → www.williammhayes.com

Twitter → https://twitter.com/WMHayes_Author

Facebook → https://www.facebook.com/WilliamMHayesAuthor/

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 how you got the idea to write your book? 

I needed a sorta sci-fi/military book to fill my portfolio. Grabbed a beer, headed out back where there is a hangout spot with a fire pit, and by the time I got there, I had the beginning and end to the story. I just had to fill in the middle.

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

Rydel Scott, a brilliant military scientist, working on projects to save soldiers in the field, accidentally discovers a form of time travel. Overworked and overstressed because of a dying family member, Rydel believes he's been sent a message from God. The message—save Jesus Christ from being crucified. And Rydel goes back in time to do just that.

Colonel John Adams, the man in charge of overlooking the military lab where Rydel works, hunts Rydel Scott down in the past before Rydel can change anything. Colonel Adams believes, like many, that Rydel's time travel project is dangerous to the people of the present if used.

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

It's gonna be a bitch.

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

Writing in a room with limited light—it has to be dark (I may be part vampire).

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

I'm a new novelist on the scene. Nobody is banging down my door or blowing up my inbox.

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

It has primarily been constructive criticism—and I welcome it. It only makes for better writing.

What has been your best accomplishment?

My son.

Do you Google yourself?

I googled my second book to see if that review came in as promised on Amazon. I am still waiting. Other than that—never.

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


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

Less beheadings.

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

My stories are a fast read. I want to entertain and not take up too much of your time.

Rydel Scott, a brilliant scientist working at a secret military lab, accidentally discovers a form of time
travel while working on a project designed to save wounded soldiers in the field. Rydel’s sister, a woman of faith, tells Rydel on her deathbed that she has received a message from God. The message—save Jesus Christ from the cross.

And Rydel Scott travels back in time to do just that.

It is believed even the smallest change to the past can cause catastrophic repercussions for future generations. An elite military unit is sent back in time to hunt Rydel down before he can alter history and possibly kill millions in the process.

The unit and its commanding officers, Colonel John Adams and Unit Commander Ray Catlin, become divided. Catlin, a devout Catholic, claims he witnessed a miracle by Jesus upon arrival in Jerusalem and fervently believes in Rydel’s mission. Adams hasn’t believed in God since he was a boy and his only concern is the safety of the people in the present. They must now choose between the fate of Christ and the fate of present-day mankind.

They must decide if they will Save Him.

Order Your Copy below

Amazon → https://tinyurl.com/y3veph29

 Barnes & Noble → https://tinyurl.com/y4rw4sgm

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

Fortunate Son front cover (3)Genre
AuthorBrooks Eason
Publisher: WordCrafts Press, Nashville, TN
On the eve of the birth of his first grandchild, Mississippi lawyer Brooks Eason learned the truth about a mystery he’d lived with for nearly fifty years: the story of his birth and his birth mother’s identity.  Perhaps even more surprising was how the story was finally revealed:  It turned out that Eason was a potential heir to an enormous fortune from his birth mother’s family.  His original identity finally saw the light of day only as result of litigation in four courts in two states, initiated in an effort to identify and find the heir.  Eason, who was raised in Tupelo by loving parents, found out on the day his granddaughter was born that he began his life as Scott Francis, which remained his legal name for the first year of his life.  Fortunate Son – The Story of Baby Boy Francis is the story of how he learned the story. 
And what a story it is.
A truth-is-stranger-than-fiction memoir that unfolds in the Deep South, Fortunate Son is a deeply personal and deeply moving story about families, secrets, and choices.  Resplendent with intrigue, drama, and mystery—all the hallmarks of a blockbuster novel—Fortunate Son is a true story, unembellished, unpretentious, and at times almost unbelievable.  Eason, a gifted storyteller with an incredible story to tell, delivers a gripping, satisfying, meaningful memoir.  Told with candor, wit, and honesty, Fortunate Son is a thoughtful and thought-provoking first person narrative that will have readers turning pages. 
Though Eason was ultimately not the beneficiary of the fortune, he is quick to point out that he received a different kind of wealth:  knowing the truth and finally being able to dive headfirst into the story of his origin, uncovering fascinating blood relatives and stories along the way. 
Much more than a memoir about birth and adoption, Fortunate Son is a long love letter from the author to the parents who raised him, a heartfelt thank you to the birth mother who gave him the whole world when she gave him away, and a moving tribute to his beloved daughter who faced circumstances similar to those his birth mother faced and bravely chose to keep her baby.  A tale of two stories that unfolded in different times, Fortunate Son is an extraordinary story extraordinarily well-told. 
Brooks Eason - photo

Brooks Eason loves stories, reading and writing them, hearing and telling them. He also loves music, dogs, and campfires as well as his family and friends. His latest book is Fortunate Son – the Story of Baby Boy Francis, an amazing memoir about his adoption, discovery of the identity of his birth mother, and much more.

Eason has practiced law in Jackson for more than 35 years but has resolved to trade in writing briefs for writing books.  He lives with his wife Carrie and their two elderly rescue dogs, Buster and Maddie, and an adopted stray cat named Count Rostov for the central character in A Gentleman in Moscow, the novel by Amor Towles.  In their spare time, the Easons host house concerts, grow tomatoes, and dance in the kitchen.  Eason, who has three children and four grandchildren, is also the author of Travels with Bobby – Hiking in the Mountains of the American West about hiking trips with his best friendVisit Brooks online at www.brookseason.com.  WordCrafts Press is an independent publishing company headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit WordCrafts online at www.wordcrafts.net.


It was a Tuesday morning in June 2004. The day had started like any other. I walked the dogs, ate breakfast while reading the paper, then drove downtown to work. I was in my office on the 14th floor of the Trustmark Bank Building when my phone rang. It was my father, Paul Eason. He rarely called me at work but had just listened to an intriguing voicemail. He was calling to tell me about it.
Daddy was 82 and lived by himself in Tupelo, Mississippi, in the home where I grew up. It was the only home he and my mother Margaret ever owned. She had died five years earlier in the bedroom they shared for more than forty years. I lived three hours south of Tupelo in Jackson, where I had practiced law for two decades. 
The message was from a woman in New Orleans, also a lawyer. She said her firm was conducting a nationwide, court-ordered search for Paul Eason, age 46. I go by my middle name, but my first name is Paul and I was about to turn 47. I told Daddy I would return the call. 
Why a court in New Orleans would order someone to search the entire country for me was a mystery. A theory occurred to me, but after all these years it didn’t seem possible. Because I didn’t know the reason for the call, I decided not to identify myself as the Paul Eason the lawyer was trying to find. I would just say I was Brooks Eason and was returning the call she had placed to my father. But when she came to the phone, she already knew who I was.
“I can’t believe we found you.” 
“What is this about?”
“An inheritance.”
“Tell me more.”
*        *        *
That was the day I began to learn the story that had been a mystery to me all my life, the story of my birth and second family. In the days that followed, I found out that my name was Scott Francis – or rather that it had been – for the first year of my life. I was nearly fifty years old, but until then I didn’t know I had started life with a different name, much less what it was. My name, as well as the rest of the story, had been a secret. This is the story of how I learned the secret. But this story is about more than that. It is also about the wonderful life my parents gave me, about my exceptional daughter and granddaughter, who was born just days after Daddy received the voicemail. and about how times and attitudes changed from when I was born until she was born.

Author Interview: Nonfiction Author Jennifer Oneal Price

Jennifer Price is a special education attorney in the Pittsburgh metro area who has received awards for her legal skills and advocacy.  As a former prosecutor, Attorney Price is very familiar with the courts and believes in making sure every child has an opportunity to succeed both in school and in life.  Her boutique law firm provides services protecting and defending against abuses of the criminal justice system, as well as the educational systems.  With 10 years of experience, Attorney Price’s advocacy has resulted in successes, including getting criminal charges withdrawn, preventing children from getting expelled out of school and federal civil rights lawsuits. Aa a speaker, she has presented at seminars and workshops and has also made regular television appearances for her legal opinions.


Website →  www.jenniferpricelaw.com

Twitter →  twitter.com/jennoprice

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 how you got the idea to write your book?

My book, EmpowerEd: Using Real Case Examples to Look Deeper into IEP Management, is a resource guide for parents of special needs children. I am an attorney whose practice specializes in special education law, representing disabled children. As an attorney in private practice, I spend part of each day answering telephone calls and questions from parents, frustrated over what their child’s school is or is not doing for their child’s education. While I have a disability rights practice, with a niche in special education law, my journey into this area of law, and ultimately the book, began as a prosecutor in the juvenile division.

A typical day in the family courthouse consisted of hallways filled with parents and children, all waiting anxiously to have their cases heard. Family dynamics could play a significant role in why a juvenile was in the juvenile court system. Another factor that some people don’t realize can be whether a person has a disability. Disabilities can play a factor in the juvenile court process because if a child has a behavioral disability, like ADHD, or a neurological/developmental disability like autism, certain things throughout the day may trigger conduct from that child and the teacher may feel s/he can’t handle it.

Since many schools have juvenile probation officers and/or police officers within the school, it can become that much easier for a teacher to involve law enforcement in the situation, as opposed to trying to diffuse it, alone.

I left a District Attorney’s Office after seeing worst-case scenarios in juvenile court: when learning accommodations were not made, or plans were not implemented for children with disabilities. I realized that while these were similar stories told from different situations, the common thread in all of them was in the management or compliance of the child’s educational plan. After I decided to go into private practice to focus on representing children with disabilities, I quickly learned there was a lack of information by many parents and educational advocates. At the same time, there was a constant desire for information and specifically, legal updates. That is why I decided to write this book. It is meant to be a resource guide and a type of playbook for parents. Research was conducted a few years back that indicated approximately 40% of parents attend hearings unrepresented and approximately 15% of parents are represented by an educational advocate. Compare that to 100% of the school districts represented by an attorney, it came as no surprise that unrepresented parents won their cases 10% of the time. While the book itself is not to be used as official legal advice, I intentionally sought to summarize legal cases in more easily digestible verbiage for parents. The Thought Questions after the cases help to provide further analytical thinking for parents, as well as
help them understand how the school is thinking or preparing their case. Sometimes, the best offense is a good defense, and this book will serve to assist parents in learning their school’s defensive strategies. When I would speak at parent groups to provide legal updates, the parents were grateful for the information but still wanted to know how to use the information for their situation. This book was created to help with that.

Can you give us an excerpt?

I know the story. Your child is having issues in school and you suspect it’s not
because s/he is “being bad.” You request an evaluation to see if s/he qualifies for an
accommodation or special education services. The test takes awhile. Why does it take so
long to get an evaluation? Then, you learn your child qualifies for special education
services. What comes next? Then, you get your child’s Individualized Education
Program, a.k.a. IEP. Why isn’t the school following it? You try to have meetings with the
school, only to be met with obstinance. You walk in the meeting. You see a room full of
people on the “school’s side.” Who is there for you? You feel overwhelmed and alone. I
know the story because, as an attorney who represents children with disabilities, I’ve
heard it too many times.
The ultimate purpose of this book is to empower parents (and anyone else working as
an educational advocate) about how courts rule on education cases concerning children
who have disabilities - intellectual, behavioral, or physical. I include specific points of
reference so you can use this as a resource guide for your own situation. Statistically,
most parents in a due process hearing represent themselves in these types of legal
disputes. The one consistent comment I’ve heard is that by the time things become this
contentious with the school district, they feel overwhelmed and uninformed.
By law, public schools are required to provide a free appropriate public education
(FAPE). The issue is that there are extensive and complicated statutes governing children
with disabilities. There are individualized education programs (IEPs) and 504 Service
Agreements. Both are created for children with disabilities, but they are designed to
address different areas of need. This short book sorts out your options, offers court cases
as examples, and explains the steps you can take if you are not happy with the plans made
for your child’s education.
As an attorney now in private practice, I spend part of each day answering telephone
calls on questions from parents who are frustrated over what their school is or is not
doing for their children, and concerned about what should be their next steps.
I left a District Attorney’s Office after seeing worst-case scenarios in juvenile court:
when learning accommodations were not made, or plans were not implemented for
children with disabilities. I realized that while these were similar stories told from
different situations, the common thread in all of them was either IEP or 504 Service
Agreement management. After some research and talking to colleagues, I decided to go
into private practice to focus on representing children with disabilities. One major hurdle
I quickly learned was the lack of information many parents and advocates have, including
not knowing that their children even have legal rights when it comes to education. That is
why I decided to write this book. It is meant to be a guide and a starting point.
While this cannot serve as legal advice, my goal is to help parents feel a little more
empowered than before they read it. This guide is designed to get you past the basics by
using real court case examples to show the practical side of how courts have ruled on
familiar issues. In the end, the goal is to set your child up for educational success. This
book is broken up into four steps that build on each other. There is a glossary at the end to
help keep track of some of the terms parents may encounter in their journey, as well as
full case citations.
To you and your child’s success!
Step One
What Is Child Find?
Child Find is a term of art that places a legal requirement on schools to identify,
locate, and evaluate your child, but this process can also start with you, the parent.
(Throughout the rest of this book, I use “parent” but I’m referring to parents, guardians,
and educational advocates.)
As the parent, you know your child better than anyone else. If you see your infant son
or daughter struggling to hold an object, you know whether the response will be
frustration (throwing it down) or curiosity (picking it up each time it falls). You know this
because you’ve been paying attention. This parental observation remains true for noticing
developmental delays. I put Child Find as the first step for parents for a few reasons. You
will know whether a behavior is typical or atypical. You’re with your child from the
beginning, so you become a first line of defense. This places you in the best position to
be proactive and address any potential developmental delays as early as possible.
Early diagnosis has been attributed to improving a child’s long-term educational
success. Since your child may not see a teacher until three or four years of age, getting a
diagnosis beforehand could reduce the number of interventions or aids your child may
need during school-age years. A diagnosis before elementary school can be done by your
pediatrician. Schedule an appointment and raise any concerns immediately. Give detailed
information explaining exactly what you notice so the pediatrician can either run the
appropriate test(s) or direct you to the right specialist.
If your child has already started school—no matter the age—the school is required to
conduct a Child Find. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
includes regulations (34 C.F.R. Section 300.111(a)(1)(i)) that require schools to have
policies and procedures in place to ensure that all children “who are in need of special
education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated.”
Child Find applies to all children residing in any state, even if that child is homeless
or is a ward of the state. It also applies to children who are suspected of having a
disability or might need special education, even if the child is advancing from grade to
grade. The regulatory requirements affect schools because states receive federal funds to
assist with paying for education. Schools, therefore, receive federal funds, through their
respective state governments, to pay for special education expenses. These expenses
include paying teachers, teacher aides, and supplemental materials necessary for
instruction. As a result of receiving federal funding, the schools must comply with the
federal regulations.
Child Find is significant. Even if you don’t suspect a disability in your child, a
teacher is legally required to notice it. Once again, the earlier the diagnosis and knowing
whether there is a disability, the sooner you can help your child. It’s also important to
remember that your child may still have a disability even if advancing from one grade to
the next. Early diagnosis and an IEP can set your child up to maximize potential, not just
get by.
Case Example (Child Find)
Montuori v. District of Columbia School District
A.M. (minors’ names are disguised in court cases) was diagnosed with attention-
deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A.M. had been under a 504 Service Agreement
since elementary school. (This agreement details how a school will provide the necessary
supports and remove any barriers so a child can access the general curriculum with their
classmates). When A.M. entered middle school, another psychological reevaluation was
conducted, and another 504 Service Agreement was implemented. The school wanted to
offer a 504 Service Agreement, and conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) to
address A.M.’s escalating behavioral issues. However, the parents wanted an IEP, so they
filed a due process complaint (an IEP allows for additional specialized instruction outside
the regular curriculum). 1
The issue before the court was: Had the school district violated its Child Find
obligations by not also evaluating A.M. for an IEP? The court found for the parents, that
the school had failed to timely evaluate A.M. for an IEP, thus constituting a Child Find
violation. Why?
The answer is because Child Find is an “affirmative obligation,” meaning it was a
requirement of the school to identify A.M. as a child who may be in need of special
education services, and thus should have sent a Permission to Evaluate form to the
parents to have the school conduct an evaluation. 2 The school district believed it was
relieved of its Child Find obligations when the parents and school officials agreed at a
school meeting to proceed with a 504 Plan in lieu of initiating IDEA services. However,
the court noted that even if A.M.’s parents had been content with having only the 504
1 Full descriptions of 504 Service Agreements and IEPs, and relevant case examples, are
in Step Three.
2 Permission to Evaluate forms are explained in Step Two.
plan, the school should have sought permission from the parents to do the required testing
but failed to do so.
Thought Question:
Do you think your school has violated its Child Find obligations with your child? If so,
what evidence do you have? For young children, remember to distinguish between
behaviors consistent with other children the same age and behaviors consistent with the
disability. These are the factors a court will consider and the school district will use in its
Case Example (IDEA and “child with a disability”)
Durbrow v. Cobb County School District
C.D. was diagnosed with ADHD in third grade. Nevertheless, he advanced from
elementary school through to his junior year of high school, and excelled in advanced
academic programs and standardized tests. He was admitted into a select magnet school
with accelerated courses, where he received accommodations through a 504 plan. His
junior-year teachers dismissed the parents’ suggestion that C.D. also needed an IEP. Two
teachers even wrote him letters of recommendation to attend the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology. However, C.D.’s academic performance plummeted his senior year. He
amassed late and incomplete work throughout the year, which culminated in five failing
grades. The school continued to change his 504 plan with different accommodations, but
his grades continued to decline. His parents requested that the school begin the process to
evaluate their son for an IEP, and said that C.D. was IDEA-eligible based on his failure to
submit his assignments on time. The special education supervisor also believed C.D.’s
incomplete work was due to his ADHD, but C.D. himself and his senior-year teachers
attributed the failing grades to his procrastination. His parents filed a due process hearing
complaint alleging the school district failed in their Child Find obligations. The issue
before the court was: Did the IDEA compel the public school district to provide special
education to C.D., a student with ADHD, who displayed vast academic potential but
struggled to complete his work?
Under the IDEA, a child with a disability is defined as someone with “intellectual
disabilities…other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; and who, by
reason thereof, needs special education and related services.” One such health
impairment is ADHD that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Therefore,
to establish entitlement to a FAPE, a student with ADHD must show that the chronic
condition adversely affects academic performance, and thus special education is needed.
The court found the school district did not deprive C.D. of a FAPE because he did not
need special education and, therefore, did not qualify as a child with a disability.
Additionally, the school district did not breach its Child Find obligations because the
IDEA requires schools to identify, locate, and evaluate only children with disabilities.
The court concluded C.D. was not a child with a disability because he did not, on account
of ADHD, require special education; instead, he met or exceeded academic expectations.
He had been admitted to a selective magnet program based on his achievements in math
and science and had demonstrated college readiness by excelling on the PSAT. Until his
senior year, he passed all of his classes in an advanced academic program, including
Honors and Advanced Placement courses. Additionally, C.D.’s teachers testified that
special education was inappropriate for him, and none attributed his poor grades to low
ability. Although C.D. had difficulty with time management and organization, so too did
many of his classmates, particularly at the demanding magnet program.
Thought Questions:
Two key questions to consider if you notice failing grades:
1. When did your child’s grades start declining?
2. What other reasons could cause your child’s grades to decline other than the disability?
Answers to this second question will allow you to take a broader view of issues that you
may have overlooked or forgotten, and will also allow you to anticipate the school’s

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

I would start with the final publication date and work backwards from the final launch date, especially taking into account the timeframe for each contributor, such as the editor and cover designer. I would also start the marketing campaign for the book at least 3-6 months in advance of publication. I didn’t realize that many top-name book review companies want to receive it at least 4 months before its publication date.

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

Have none

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

Yes, my readers are very thankful that a book is available that uncovers the mystery behind how to use the legal cases for their child’s situation. Many books give legal updates on how the courts are ruling, but they don’t explain how the parents can use the information.

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

Your elevator pitch about your book is unclear. I struggle with encapsulating the essence of my book in a few words or 10 seconds. I need to work on that.

Do you Google yourself?

Yes! I have to know what other people may find out about me
because I always Google other people. The little known fact is, I’ve been married before,
so when I Google, I Google three names - my first name with my prior married name,
maiden name, and current married name!

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

I have one half-finished fiction book that will be a crime novel soon and I also will create a corresponding workbook to go along with this published book.

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

I would make sure it is fully inclusive of everyone both abled and disabled.

This book outlines the progressive steps taken to address the educational needs of an exceptional child. From the Child Find process to filing a Due Process complaint, courts have addressed many legal issues. This book goes through court cases on some key issues from 2018 with an included workbook-style composition section after the cases. Parents and educational advocates will be able to read the cases and use the Thought Questions and composition space to take notes to better analyze their own case and advocate for their child’s educational rights.


Amazon → https://amzn.to/2q0Ql2Q