Q&A with John Calicchia, author of ‘Mirror World’

John CalicchiaI’m John Calicchia and I write stories of fantasy, action and adventure. In the fall of 2015 my book Mirror World was released! It’s a story of two powerful young sisters and their epic battle against evil. But, this book has something in it most do not: hidden secrets. It’s a teen and young adult fiction book with a self-help book hidden inside. You see… after publishing in psychology books and journals for decades I felt my writing was not helping the young people I love to work with. So, I took famous psychology studies and put it in the characters and plot in Mirror World. As you become part of the story you can learn about psychology or you can just enjoy the story! You can also get a free copy of the users guide to help you understand the psychology behind the book by joining my website www.johncalicchia.com

John Calicchia Ph.D. is a professor of psychology who also works with children and young adults as a licensed psychologist. He lives near Boston with his lovely wife and two amazing daughters. You can usually find him in the pool swimming with his two big dogs.

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About the Book:

What would you do if you saw the future apocalypse of the world in a mirror? Would you try to save the world and those you love, or die trying?

Mirror WorldWelcome to my life, this is the vision of the future I’ve been cursed to see.    – Cailyssa Larkin

When Cailyssa Larkin looks in a mirror she has an ominous feeling that someone is watching her. Stranger still, she has visions that foretell the future. While visiting her Uncle Spencer, Cailyssa gazes into a mirror and sees a dark future that only she can change. With the future of her own world hanging in the balance, Cailyssa bravely enters the portal to the Mirror World. Here, the Dark Lord controls all the mirrors and bends reflections so all creatures see evil within themselves. With her sister Terry, her mysterious best friend Daemon, and a host of weird and wonderful creatures, Cailyssa embarks on an epic quest to overcome the evil forces trying to destroy her world. She can only defeat the Dark Lord by finding her true self and discovering the family secret that has led her to Mirror World.

This book, written by a psychology professor, integrates famous psychological studies in the story. Readers will enjoy learning important life lessons through the psychological concepts illustrated in the book.

For More Information

  • Mirror World is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

What made you decide to become a published author?

The inspiration for this book came from the things that I love in life. I have always loved reading and writing young adult fiction and fantasy, I am also passionate about my work as a psychologist with young people, and since I have two daughters that I love dearly, I have always been disappointed with the lack of strong female heroines in literature and movies. Although this has changed a bit recently, not long ago it was difficult to find a female lead character especially in strong action roles.  So I wrote a YA book with strong female characters, and elements of psychology are embedded within!

Would you consider your book to be a one of a kind?  How so?

I will let you be the judge but I think so. Mirror World is almost like a self-help book hidden within a fiction book! This book, written by a psychology professor, integrates famous psychological studies in the story. Readers will enjoy learning important life lessons through the psychological concepts illustrated in the book.

What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?

Publishing is secondary to having a great manuscript. Publishing will come if the work is good! I think the most important thing is you have to write what you know and love!  I know and love psychology and young adult fiction –  so writing comes easy to me. Using voice dictation is a wonderful way to spin your first draft.  It’s also very helpful if you have been an avid reader and are very familiar with the literature within your genre.  For example, if you are interested in teen and young adult books you should read the earliest works of Tolkien and also the newest stuff like Divergent or the Hunger Games and the hundreds of great books in-between. You’ll be so familiar with the themes, writing styles, metaphors, and plots –  writing a similar work should go well for you.  I also believe everyone has a book inside them that is just dying to come out, so follow your dreams and write what you love and you will love what you write!  Others will love it too. Definitely don’t forget the beta readers and excellent editorial help.

What inspires you?

I didn’t feel that my published academic books and journal articles were helping the young people I love to work with. So, I decided to write a teen and young adult fiction book that had famous concepts in psychology embedded in the characters and the plot.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

As an author and a psychologists I must say I agree with the idea that all first novels are autobiographical. Read the book and let me know if you think I have two daughters and two dogs?

What’s next for you?

The Users Guide for Mirror World is almost finished.  It has the secrets to where the psychology  studies are hidden in the book,  you can get more information at my website www.johncalicchia.com. There will be two more books in the Mirror world series. The next book Angelus starts literally in Hell with a dark angel being tortured for failing to destroy Cailyssa Larkin. Cailyssa has returned from Mirror World and is trying to finish her senior year in high school, when she discovers the war of the Angels she became involved in has followed her home. The Angels in this book are not what you think of in pictures or the Bible.  Angels have been living among us and walking the earth for thousands of years – you probably even know a couple – hopefully they’re not the evil ones. Here’s a biblical quote that starts off the book:

“His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And Lucifer stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.” After the mirror World Series I have plans for a psychological thriller PSYOPS which is a dystopian world in which the government and the military control dreams through neuroscience and psychology.

I better get writing!!!!!

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Q&A with Cozy Mystery Authors Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen

Jean-Pierre Noel BalenJean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, wine lover and music lover respectively, came up with the idea for the Winemaker Detective series while sharing a meal, with a bottle of Château Gaudou 1996, a red wine from Cahors with smooth tannins and a balanced nose. The series has 24 titles to date and is a hit TV series in France. So far 10 have been translated. Jean-Pierre Alaux currently lives in southwestern France and Noël in Paris. They both are full-time writers and participate in the TV adaptation of their series.

Translator Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado. She has translated several titles in this series.

And Anne Trager has a passion for crime fiction that equals her love of France. After years working in translation, publishing and communications, she founded the mystery and thriller publishing house Le French Book, dedicated to picking top mysteries and thrillers from France and translating them into English.

Their latest book is the cozy mystery, The Winemaker Detective: An Omnibus.

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About the Book:

An immersion in French countryside, gourmet attitude, and light-hearted mystery.

The Winemaker DetectiveTwo amateur sleuths gumshoe around French wine country, where money, deceit, jealousy, inheritance and greed are all the ingredients needed for crime. Master winemaker Benjamin Cooker and his sidekick Virgile Lanssien solve mysteries in vineyards with a dose of Epicurean enjoyment of fine food and beverage. Each story is a homage to wine and winemakers, as well as a mystery.

In Treachery in Bordeaux, barrels at the prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion wine estate in Bordeaux have been contaminated. Is it negligence or sabotage?

In Grand Cru Heist, Benjamin Cooker’s world gets turned upside down one night in Paris. He retreats to the region around Tours to recover. He and his assistant Virgile turn PI to solve two murders and very particular heist.

In Nightmare in Burgundy, a dream wine tasting trip to Burgundy that turns into a troubling nightmare when Cooker and his assistant stumble upon a mystery revolving around messages from another era.

This made-for-TV series is “difficult to forget and oddly addictive” (ForeWord Reviews).

For More Information

  • The Winemaker Detective: An Omnibus is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q&A with Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, creators of the Winemaker Detective

How did you start writing a crime fiction series?

We wanted to explore a specific theme—wine and winemaking—from a variety of different perspectives. In the Winemaker Detective series, it is clear that each wine region deserves a different approach. By having recurring characters that see and observe the different regions and wine estates, we create consistency and a link between the different whodunit stories.

Your characters are very attaching. How do they evolve?

No matter what you do as a writer, characters eventually take over and do what they want. They evolve with the series because they reflect life. Everybody changes because life makes you change, even when you keep your initial values and character traits. So like anybody, our characters mature, become wiser in some areas, more experienced, or let themselves go, or cannot overcome their pain or refuse to face life head on. Since we began writing the series, our central character, the winemaker detective Benjamin Cooker, has grown, become more complex and taken on a life of his own, thanks in part to the French television series in which actor Pierre Arditi embodies him remarkably.

How much reality do you include in your books?

Generally speaking, we do our best to respect the reality of our settings. We go to the various wine regions, take pictures, get a feel for the place, and use local and historical documents. Many of the wines estates, restaurants and even hotels are all real. Sometimes the plot requires that we invent places where crimes have occurred, so that we don’t ruin the reputations of real places. For the plot, the key is finding a rather subtle balance between what is real, what seems real, and what is invented and improbable. But, you must also be wary of reality, as it is often much tougher, crueler and more sordid than anything you could imagine. Curiously, you sometimes need to lighten up reality for it to remain credible in a story.

How do you check your facts?

We do a lot of reading, using specialized books, and online research. We call on experts (winemakers, toxicologists, police officers, ballistics specialists, historians). Experience helps, making it easier and quicker to do the research. We also know many winemakers and winegrowers, with whom we check details. Both of us are careful about verifying our sources.

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Book Excerpt: Misled by Annie Miles

MisledTitle: Misled
Author: Annie Miles
Pages: 446
Genre: Women’s Fiction

When Diana, a lonely housewife, falls for Daniel–her daughter Annie’s teenage crush—she will stop at nothing to ensure he stays in her life. In Machiavellian style, Diana betrays her daughter, secretively designing, controlling, and planning Annie’s future. It isn’t until years later, when Annie discovers letters exchanged by her mother and Daniel, that she learns the truth and sees the manipulation and lies that led her to a doomed marriage.

Twenty years later, when Diana is diagnosed with dementia and Annie is forced to be her mother’s caretaker, she must come to terms with her mother’s betrayal, her husband’s deceit, and her own desire for love and happiness, all the while managing to maintain her sanity and sense of humor. Based on a true story, this book will shock, entertain, and astound you.

For More Information

  • Mislead is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:

With her finger pointed straight at me, hate in her eyes, and through gritted teeth, my mother said, “You have betrayed me, and I will never forgive you for this.”

The wounded child in me, let’s call her Patsy, silently said, And you are an expert in the field of betrayal, aren’t you, Mother? You want to talk about betrayal? Let’s talk about 1979. Let’s talk about my entire life…

But Annie, the adult me, said out loud, “I’m sorry. I wish you could see I’m doing this for you and not to you.”

Many years before, my mother had given me power of attorney, and today I was invoking it because her mental and physical health had deteriorated to a point where she could no longer live alone. Anybody and everybody who knew her could see it was the right thing to do. But dementia had taken every drop of rational thinking from my mother’s brain, and she was vehemently opposed to leaving her house, and not shy about giving us a piece of her mind, if you’ll pardon the expression.

I’d tried to broach the subject of her moving for weeks, but she immediately shut me down each time. I tried to talk to her about getting home health care, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She was falling daily, and in fact just a week before had fallen and hurt her leg so badly she’d been bedridden for days. This was after she threw up in her kitchen, then fell, and laid in her vomit for hours before she had enough strength to crawl down the long hall to her bed. And she didn’t see anything wrong with that.

But it was her inability to see she’d been conned out of four thousand dollars that finally bought her a one-way ticket to assisted living. She had hired a man to do some yard work for her, and he had quickly assessed her situation: wealthy older woman, living alone, without all of her mental faculties. Ripe for the picking. He showed up daily, knocked on her door, told her she owed him seven hundred seventy dollars, and she wrote him a check, no questions asked.

She not only wouldn’t believe the man was conning her, she was furious with me when I called the Crimes Against The Elderly Unit. It wasn’t until the detective showed her the man’s mug shot that she finally conceded maybe the yard man hadn’t been completely honest with her. But she still failed to see the gravity of the situation.

“So I lost some money. Big deal. I don’t see what everybody’s so upset about.”

So there I was, with two employees from the assisted living facility, standing in my mother’s bedroom for over an hour, trying to convince her she needed help. Appealing to her vanity, it wasn’t until they managed to get her a hair appointment at SeniorHome, that she finally conceded to go there for a few days. Don’t pack lightly, Mom…

But even with all of the turmoil of the day, the one word that kept running through my mind was betrayal. How dare she accuse me of that after what she did to me. How dare she.


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Interview with Mary Lawlor, author of ‘Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War’

Mary LawlorMary Lawlor grew up in an Army family during the Cold War.  Her father was a decorated fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific during World War II, flew missions in Korea, and did two combat tours in Vietnam. His family followed him from base to base and country to country during his years of service. Every two or three years, Mary, her three sisters, and her mother packed up their household and moved. By the time she graduated from high school, she had attended fourteen different schools. These displacements, plus her father?s frequent absences and brief, dramatic returns, were part of the fabric of her childhood, as were the rituals of base life and the adventures of life abroad.

As Mary came of age, tensions between the patriotic, Catholic culture of her upbringing and the values of the sixties counterculture set family life on fire.  While attending the American College in Paris, she became involved in the famous student uprisings of May 1968.  Facing her father, then posted in Vietnam, across a deep political divide, she fought as he had taught her to for a way of life completely different from his and her mother’s.

Years of turbulence followed.  After working in Germany, Spain and Japan, Mary went on to graduate school at NYU, earned a Ph.D. and became a professor of literature and American Studies at Muhlenberg College.  She has published three books, Recalling the Wild (Rutgers UP, 2000), Public Native America (Rutgers UP, 2006), and most recently Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War (Rowman and Littlefield, September 2013).

She and her husband spend part of each year on a small farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

Her latest book is the memoir, Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War.

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About the Book:

FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER: GROWING UP IN THE SIXTIES AND THE COLD WAR tells the story of the author as a young woman coming of age in an Irish Catholic, military family during the Cold War.  Her father, an aviator in the Marines and later the Army, was transferred more than a dozen times to posts from Miami to California and Germany as the government’s Cold War Fighter Pilot's Daughterpolicies demanded.  For the pilot’s wife and daughters, each move meant a complete upheaval of ordinary life.  The car was sold, bank accounts closed, and of course one school after another was left behind.  Friends and later boyfriends lined up in memory as a series of temporary attachments.  The book describes the dramas of this traveling household during the middle years of the Cold War.  In the process, FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER shows how the larger turmoil of American foreign policy and the effects of Cold War politics permeated the domestic universe. The climactic moment of the story takes place in the spring of 1968, when the author’s father was stationed in Vietnam and she was attending college in Paris.  Having left the family’s quarters in Heidelberg, Germany the previous fall, she was still an ingénue; but her strict upbringing had not gone deep enough to keep her anchored to her parents’ world.  When the May riots broke out in the Latin quarter, she attached myself to the student leftists and American draft resisters who were throwing cobblestones at the French police. Getting word of her activities via a Red Cross telegram delivered on the airfield in Da Nang, Vietnam, her father came to Paris to find her. The book narrates their dramatically contentious meeting and return to the American military community of Heidelberg.  The book concludes many years later, as the Cold War came to a close.  After decades of tension that made communication all but impossible, the author and her father reunited.  As the chill subsided in the world at large, so it did in the relationship between the pilot and his daughter. When he died a few years later, the hard edge between them, like the Cold War stand-off, had become a distant memory.

For More Information

  • Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Would you consider your latest book to be a one of a kind? How so?

Fighter Pilot’s Daughter is one of very few books that give an account of ordinary, everyday life during the Cold War. Perhaps even fewer tell that story from the point of view of a military kid. It’s surprising to me how many readers—whether they grew up in the service or not—have contacted me to say they were thrilled to find a narrative that captured what the years of the Cold War felt like—all the fear we were brought up with and the strange things we were trained to do to protect ourselves in case of a nuclear bomb (duck under your school desk and cover your head; find the nearest bomb shelter). There are plenty of histories and film documentaries of the time, and much fiction is set in the Cold War. But there really aren’t many books that relate what it was like to actually live through those times.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

I write on a stationary bicycle situated in a large, sunny room on the second floor of my house in Pennsylvania. My husband arranged a ledge on the handle bars of the bike, so I can set my laptop there. I peddle and write at the same time. The peddling goes very slowly, but I feel that my brain’s moving a little bit more as my legs move. As an added benefit my metabolism is charging more than it would if I were sitting still at a desk. This, at least, is what I tell myself is happening! I also listen to music through ear buds while I’m writing, which stimulates my energy and imagination.

In Spain, I often take my computer up to the top of the mountain where my house is located. I bring a cushion along and settle myself beside an old ruined house or at the foot of a big cork oak. I can write for hours up there. The views are wonderful and inspiring.

What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?

You shouldn’t approach a publisher directly (unless it’s an academic book), because publishers generally expect writers to come to them through an agent. When approaching an agent in the hopes that they will take you on as a client, you shouldn’t be vague, overly modest, or overly grandiose about your project (i.e. brag about it too much). Be as clear, honest, and concise as possible so the potential agent can get a sense of what the work is really like and who you are as a write.

What inspires you?

Lots of things inspire me. Listening to people talk—not always for the content or logic of what they’re saying but for the phrasing, word choices, pronunciations, and idiosyncrasies of usage—is always very interesting, and I get ideas for dialogue from it.

I also get great inspiration from looking at landscapes near my home in Spain. The mountains and valleys are very dramatic, and the sea coast, with Gibraltar jutting up in the distance, is always fascinating. The light changes in striking ways from season to season and hour to hour. The pathways through the countryside are intricate, complex. All these landscapes capture my imagination powerfully, and I’ve reproduced them in the works of fiction I’ve been writing recently.

What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?

I learned how much people of my generation remember the Cold War in deeply personal ways. I’ve heard from so many people who tell me they recognize the scenes and situations I describe in Fighter Pilot’s Daughter viscerally. It’s interesting too to see how they respond to these descriptions with gratitude! It’s brought home to me the fact that there really haven’t been many non-fiction books written of a personal nature about life during those years.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

I love to hike in the mountains of Andalucia. Our house there is a small place but it’s situated at the base of a high mountain called La Loberia. I often put on my hiking boots and climb to the top. From there you can see the whole circumference of the landscape, from Gibraltar to the west and north to the mountains of Grazalema and east to Sierra Bermeja. Cork oaks, olives and almond trees grow up there, and you can find wild herbs as well-oregano, rosemary and thyme.

I also like to ride horses very much, but I’m not terribly good at it. There are several stables near my Spanish home where I’ve ridden, and once years ago some friends took me riding bareback in the mountains nearby.

A third passion is swimming. It’s my favorite and best sport. Chapter 11 of Fighter Pilot’s Daughter describes my time with my older sisters on a synchronized swimming team in California. I only did that for a couple of years, but the training and practice made me a strong swimmer. For many years I swam almost every day. Writing has taken up too much time for me to do that in recent years, but I still head for the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean whenever I can in summers and for whatever heated pool is in reach during the colder seasons.

What’s next for you?

I’ve been writing fiction since Fighter Pilot’s Daughter came out. I’ve finished a novel, The Stars Over Andalucia, set in the village in Spain where I live for half the year. At the moment I’m considering having it translated and published in Spanish, but there are still many issues to consider before taking this step. I’m also about half way (I hope!) through a first draft of a new novel titled The Time Keeper’s Room. It’s set in Spain and Morocco and focuses on the experiences of a young woman who’s exploring her family’s and her country’s past. She has visionary contacts with figures from the medieval period when Spain was shifting from Islamic to Christian domination. It’s a rather exotic story, and I’m having a great time writing it.



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Journey Beyond the Trauma Book Blast!

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We’re happy to be hosting Dr. J. Denee and her JOURNEY BEYOND THE TRAUMA Book Blast today!

Journey Beyond the Trauma

Title: Journey Beyond the Trauma: Simple Practices of Resilence for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Author: Dr. J. Denee
Pages: 99
Genre: Self-Help

Journey Beyond the Trauma: Simple Practices of Resilience for Survivors of Sexual Abuse goes right to the heart of the issues related to abuse. It shares the impacts of abuse and offers simple, yet, practical strategies and information to help survivors reclaim and restore their lives. Dr. J. Denee’ guides readers through a 30-day journey to jumpstart their innate resilience. Journey Beyond the Trauma helps survivors to:

• Take responsibility for your healing and your life

• Transform into your authentic self

• Identify and manage triggers

• Turn emotional pain into progression

• Develop self-acceptance and reclaim self-worth

• Embrace resilience as a way of life

For More Information

  • Journey Beyond the Trauma is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About the Author

Dr. J. Denee

Juanita D. Ashby-Bey, PhD, known as Dr. J. Denee’, is a sexual abuse speaker, author, and resilience expert who specializes in helping women survivors of sexual abuse to rebuild their lives. A survivor of sexual abuse herself, Dr. J. Denee’ has been dedicated to the prevention, intervention, and recovery of sexual abuse issues and other traumas for the past 10 years. She received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a Master’s Degree from JohnsHopkinsUniversity.

After coming to an understanding of the extent to which the sexual abuse and trauma she suffered as a child had profoundly affected his life, Dr. J. Denee’ traveled her own personal road of recovery and resilience, and made a firm decision to help build awareness about sexual abuse and to empower and support other sexual abuse survivors and the professionals who engage with survivors along the path to recovery.

As an educator, Dr. J. Denee’ spent many years researching and applying intervention strategies to help people transform themselves and discovery new possibilities. Leveraging her 15 years of experience as an educator at the collegiate and K-12 school levels in the capacities of administration, accreditation, evaluator, professor and teacher, Dr. J. Denee’s approach includes practical and research-based intervention strategies that are designed to produce results that guide women to more loving relationships with themselves and others. She helps women to tackle feelings of powerlessness by finding their voice, build emotional muscle to manage anger and rage, rebuild and establish healthy relationships rather than sabotaging them, and to learn how to effectively establish, respect, and protect personal boundaries for themselves.

Dr. J. Denee’ is an acclaimed speaker who is available to conducts seminars, workshops, keynote addresses, and panel discussions. She empowers her audience to tap into their internal ability to persevere, recreate themselves, express their individuality, and welcome and manage life’s simple and complex challenges successfully. With an interactive and inspirational delivery, Dr. J. Denee’ provides her audience with an effective toolkit of strategies that help women survivors of sexual abuse transform their lives and create authentic happiness, joy, and progress.

“Beyond the Trauma… Living Triumphantly” is the ultimate goal that Dr. J. Denee’ desires for all survivors. Dr. J. Denee’s upcoming, inaugural book, Beyond The Trauma – Simple Practices of Resilience for Survivors of Sexual Abuse is available for pre-sales and will be released in September 2015.

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Interview with K.D. Hays, author of ‘Roped In’

K.D. HaysKate Dolan began her writing career as a legal editor and then newspaper columnist before she decided she was finally ready to tackle fiction. As the author of more than a dozen novels and novellas, she writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary mysteries and children’s books under the name K.D. Hays. When not writing, she enjoys volunteering as a living history interpreter and riding roller coasters with her daughter.

Her latest book is the cozy mystery, Roped In.

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About the Book:

Life has settled into a more stable pattern for fledgling investigator Karen Maxwell of DS Investigations, but that stability is precarious. At work, she has an uneasy truce with Rodney, the “office maximizer” hired by her brother to do some of the Roped Inadministrative work she used to do. Her brother has not assigned her any real cases and she thinks it’s because he doesn’t trust her after she was fired from her last major assignment.

But she soon gets her chance. The firm’s insurance agent calls in a favor and asks them to investigate whether a valuable parrot was killed as a result of snowfall damage to a house. Karen is pretty sure Dave will assign this to her, since the investigation will involve no money or prestige. But it may help earn back his confidence.

Then Gina Callaghan hires DS Investigations to find out who sabotaged her daughter Hayley’s rope at a jump rope competition. Hayley competes in power jumping events, and she failed to make the top four in the regional tournament. If Karen can prove that one of those top four jumpers behaved unethically, then Hayley, (who was fifth) will have a spot at the national competition, and a chance to go to the World tournament. Dave assigns Karen the lead role in this case, so now she has a chance to prove to her brother that she can conclude an investigation before the client is ready to pull the plug.

Karen bribes her son to take a jump rope class on the day when the jumpers she needs to watch have their practices. Initially, Hayley Callaghan does not want the matter investigated so Karen has to be a subtle as possible. Meanwhile, in the parrot case, Karen’s investigation seems to indicate that the parrot’s owners are telling the truth and not trying to defraud the insurance company. But the picture they offer as proof somehow arouses Karen’s suspicion.

At jump rope practice, she finds a lot of masked hostility and a host of possible suspects, but no one who saw anything. Then Hayley’s sister steps forward and admits that she saw someone rummaging through her sister’s rope bag. Circumstances point to two possible suspects, in addition to the sister herself. But Karen can find no proof of wrongdoing and thinks the break was most likely an accident. Then Hayley changes her position and urges Karen to follow through with her initial suspicions. She immediately wonders why.

But she doesn’t have time to wonder. Her brother insists that she stop working on the insurance case and her client insists that she write up suspicions against one of the other jumpers so they can file a complaint with the national sanctioning commission. Working against the clock, Karen finds proof that the picture is fake, proving that the insurance clients were trying to defraud the agency. But time runs out on the jump rope investigation—once again the dissatisfied client fires Karen before she solves the case. This time, she knows an innocent girl is going to face blame and could be banned from the sport she loves. So she digs on until she uncovers the truth —and possible destroys a family in the process.

For More Information

  • Roped In is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

What made you decide to become a published author?

I couldn’t find a job as a professional roller coaster rider, so I picked the next best thing.

In all honesty, I don’t know. I think I crave change and writing is the fastest way to immerse myself completely in another place, time or personality.

Would you consider your latest book, Roped In to be one of a kind?


How so?

For starters, it’s about competitive jump rope, a sport most people have never heard of. I’m collecting footage now to create a book trailer because the skills these athletes exhibit is truly amazing. Another thing that makes Roped In unique is that it’s a cozy mystery where the only dead body is 18 inches tall and covered in feathers. My mysteries don’t involve murder. I figure that it’s pretty unrealistic to have my heroine, who’s a suburban soccer mom, intensely involved in a modern forensic crime scene. There are other mysterious circumstances in life that be explored without making everyone in town a murder suspect.

What’s one fun fact about your book that people should know?

My daughter is the cover model. She did the artwork, too. This is my tenth book and it’s my first venture into self-publishing, so I had full control over the cover and that was very satisfying.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

Funny you should ask, because this book has more of my life experiences than all of my previous nine books combined. At the time I wrote the outline, I was looking for a plot that would satisfy my editor, because I needed to change the plot she’d originally approved. I wanted something that would be easy to research. My daughter had just started jumping rope with a local team, so I interviewed some of the parents of jumpers who had lots of experience and had competed and local, national and even international tournaments. Then after I wrote the first three chapters of Roped In, the publisher cancelled the series and I went back to writing historical books. Fast forward several years and my daughter was competing in the same events that were in that outline. And I was coaching practices and judging competitions. We were living the story, in a sense. So I had to go back and finish it! The only trouble was that I felt I had to be very careful to make sure that none of the characters were too close to any of the actual jumpers or their parents.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

History. I love learning about what happened in different places in the past, so my favorite thing to do is visit historical sites and museums. I’m one of those tedious people who reads all the displays – in fact, I frequently take notes and write blog posts about what I’ve learned, even if I don’t think I’ll ever use it in a book. I also like to participate in living history events, where we try to dress and do things the way someone from a past time period would have done it. Except we do cheat and use conveniences like matches and toilet paper. My experience of the past doesn’t need to be 100% accurate.

What’s next for you?

I’ve gone back to another project I set aside years ago. This was an urban fantasy I started writing for my daughter when she ran out of Harry Potter books to read. I think she was in third grade when I started and she’s a senior in high school now. I want to finish it before she leaves for college, because she can help me with it. She’s much more imaginative than I am. I might try to think outside the box, but she doesn’t even see the box. We co-wrote an earlier book together (Toto’s Tale) and that story is so much stronger because of her input.

Thanks for having me here today. I love to connect with people on Facebook or through my website – hope to see you in cyberspace somewhere down the line.


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First Chapter Reveal: Sabotage by Bryan Koepke

SabotageTitle: Sabotage
Author: Bryan Koepke
Publisher: Writers Cabin Press, Ltd.
Pages: 316
Genre: Thriller

Reece Culver and his friend Haisley Averton travel to Scotland with only one thing on their minds – fishing. After witnessing an automobile accident involving a freelance journalist they quickly realize that something far greater than a crash caused his SUV to sink into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.

With increasing curiosity, Reece inserts himself into the complicated life of Marie Rhodes who is in the middle of her own crises as she watches her 20-year marriage crumble.

Realizing that they’ll never make it out fishing, Haisley uses his skills in computer forensics to find out who hacked into Karl Rhodes’ office computer at Draecon International and made it appear that he’d remotely accessed the dead journalists laptop. As Haisley combs through logs on the chief of strategy’s computer he stumbles upon an even bigger plot involving a secret drone factory somewhere in the United Kingdom, what looks like funds being embezzled out of Draecon International, and a plot that threatens the national security of the U.K.

Reece spends increasingly greater amounts of time with Marie Rhodes trying to learn what she knows and soon finds that he can’t resist the temptation of falling in love with the woman of his dreams. But as things heat up he questions her true motives.

When Karl Rhodes’ executive secretary is found dead Reece agrees to protect Marie’s soon to be ex-husband Karl. In a tricky game of cat and mouse Reece travels the globe as he tries to keep Marie, her husband, and Karl’s mistress out of harms way, and unknowingly puts himself directly into the crosshairs of a hired assassin.

For More Information

  • Sabotage is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Chapter 1

Saturday June 8, 2013

Julian had been told the target would be traveling south along the coastal road. With a practiced hand he pivoted the stock of the Russian-made sniper rifle on its black steel swivel mount atop the bipod legs and aimed toward the highway below. The SUV would be passing right through his sight . . . there. A chilly breeze blew through the tent, rippling the damp cotton shirt that lay molded to his back. He wasn’t nervous, but he did tend to sweat as the killing hour approached. He regarded the unpleasant sensation as just part of the job. It wasn’t like anyone would ever find out.

Peering through the custom-made rifle scope, he adjusted the magnification between his thumb and index finger, zooming in on the worn white strands of the highway’s center line several hundred yards below. As he rotated the knob back out, he spotted the farthest flag he’d placed in the branches of a nearby tree. The strip of white plastic barely fluttered, telling him the wind was calm.

His square unshaven chin pressed firmly against the cold black stock of the Dragunov SVD, and he pushed upward, seating the steel magazine that housed multiple 7N1 steel-core sniper rounds. With its 151-grain projectile and velocity of 830 meters per second, it was perfect for this type of work.

A rifle was the best—precise, anonymous, and decisive. He ran the shot through his mind one more time. Envision what you want to have happen. He’d read about that in an e-zine, and he adopted it as part of his preparations, even though it was supposed to be part of his ten-year life plan. He didn’t need any plan. In ten years he’d be rich and retired on a private island in the Caribbean.

The tracking device he’d stuck under the rear bumper would tell him when the SUV was near. It would approach on its way south toward the city of Talbert. He’d picked the perfect spot. The narrow Scottish road curved left around a large hill, and the vast expanse of the North Atlantic Ocean spread beyond the guardrail.

Confirm the license plate BV-061-EK, lead the target, and pan upward to the windshield. He’d draw a bead on the man’s head, squeeze the trigger, and watch as the windshield filled with a fine red mist. He’d envisioned the heavy vehicle veering sideways and crashing through the flimsy rusted guardrail before plunging into the depths of the sea. The driver would be dead before he realized how freezing cold that water was.

As the assassin waited patiently enduring the wet chill that reminded him of his home on Bainbridge Island, he monitored the moving red dot on his cell phone. A young woman with a yellow scarf drove past in her blue Volvo sedan. His stomach growled, and he remembered the bacon he’d had at the inn. The slabs were thick and cooked only in patches. Typical British cuisine.

The dot was rapidly approaching, and he shifted his attention to a silver Nissan Pathfinder rapidly making its way up the road. It carried two occupants. Damn it, he thought as a maroon BMW X5 came around the corner. The Pathfinder would pass in front just as the BMW entered his field of fire.

He could feel a drop of sweat rolling down the knobs of his spine. He zeroed in the rifle scope on the BMW windshield. The cross hairs remained steady as the SUV slowed to make the curve. He saw the Pathfinder pass through in a blur. He had a split second of clearance as he squeezed the trigger. The windshield misted red and flashed beyond his line of sight.

About the Author

Bryan KoepkeBryan Koepke lives in the United States with his wife, and dog. He grew up in the midwest, settled in Arizona, and then twenty years ago made his way north to Colorado. He’s a private pilot, Electrical Engineering Technician, and since 2009 has been employed as a Financial Analyst. Bryan has always had an interest in writing. He wrote his first stories at the age of 7. He started writing thrillers in 2010, and published his first book in 2014.

He holds an FAA Airframe & Powerplant Mechanic’s license, Pilot’s license, and has a BS in Finance. He’s also taken multiple graduate level engineering classes. His many hobbies include hiking, fishing, skiing, and travel. He’s an avid reader and enjoys watching television shows like 24, Homeland, Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, and Ray Donovan.

His latest book is the thriller, Sabotage.

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Commander Henry Gallant Book Blast

Commander Henry Gallant banner

We’re happy to be hosting H. Peter Alesso’s COMMANDER HENRY GALLANT book blast today!

Commander Henry Gallant

Author: H. Peter Alesso
Publisher: Video Software Lab
Pages: 350
Genre: Science Fiction

Henry Gallant thought Alaina loved him, but now she’s found someone else. A tidal wave of loss and grief has left him miserable, despondent, and lethargic.

Despite his emotional travails, he is ordered on a dangerous mission to an invading aliens’ home world in the Gliese-581 star system. There he uses a neural interface to penetrate their communication network and steal a high ranking alien’s identity. Through this artifice, he learns about their history and society, and discovers a way to hinder and possibly defeat them.

A side-effect of linking into this network—which was created to service autistic savants—is that Gallant’s mind is stimulated and enhanced to the point that he begins to experience superintelligence abilities.

Upon returning from his mission, there is concern that Gallant might pose an even more serious threat than the aliens. While he struggles to fend off those who doubt his loyalty, he fights to win back Alaina.

This is the fourth book of The Henry Gallant Saga and can be read as a standalone story.

For More Information

  • Commander Henry Gallant is available at Amazon.
  • Watch the trailer at YouTube.

Book Excerpt:

Alaina told him to leave.

Gallant thought they were in love, but now she’s found someone else.

He’s racked his brain—sifting through the wreckage of their relationship—trying to piece together what went wrong.

A tidal wave of loss and grief has swept over him, leaving him undecided about what to do next, or how to move forward—which is ironic because he’s always prided himself on his ability to reach difficult decisions during a crisis. Is this a crisis? Maybe it’s worse because his brain is numb and won’t process facts or ideas—it just kept replaying the breakup over and over again.



The Warrior was Henry Gallant’s first command. It was the culmination of everything he’d worked for since entering the academy. Her rocket-shaped hull was over a hundred meters long, equipped with stealth technology, an antimatter sub-light engine, and a dark matter FTL drive.

The ship was on course for Elysium, a warm-water planet with oceans coving ninety per cent of its surface and dotted with numerous islands supporting abundant life including birds, mammals, reptiles, and a multitude of plant life. Home to a displaced United Planets’ colony, it was the second of five planets orbiting Tau Ceti, a mustard-yellow dwarf star about 11.5 light-years from Earth.

Sitting in the command chair, Gallant noticed that the bridge was unusually quiet despite the background hum of machinery and the chatter of the bridge crew. There were no alarms, or sirens, or exclamations of concern, all of which was a good thing, but in his heighten state of anticipation he was left with an eerie sense of emptiness.

He could barely contain his excitement at the prospect of seeing Alaina for the first time in nearly a year. His mind was alive with memories—many of which included Alaina’s alluring figure—quickening his pulse. There was nothing auspicious or dramatic about the images—it was just their sheer untimeliness and incongruity that was troubling.

Standing up abruptly, he shook my head to cast off my distracting torpor.

All eyes on the bridge turned toward him.

Chagrinned, he drew a breath and sat back down.

Watch the Trailer!


About the Author

H. Peter Alesso

As a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations, and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of seven books.

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Interview with ‘Rath’s Deception’ Piers Platt

Piers PlattPiers Platt is the New York Times bestselling author of “Combat and Other Shenanigans,” a memoir of his year-long deployment to Iraq as a tank and scout platoon leader. Piers grew up in Boston, but spent most of his childhood in various boarding schools, including getting trained as a classical singer at a choir school for boys. He joined the Army in 2002, and spent four years on active duty.

When he’s not writing or spending time with his lovely wife and daughter, Piers works as a strategy consultant in New York city.

His latest book is the sci fi/thriller, Rath’s Deception.

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About the Book:

Rath's Deception

Title: Rath’s Deception
Author: Piers Platt
Publisher: Piers Platt
Pages: 350
Genre: Sci Fi/Thriller

On the cut-throat streets of Tarkis, orphaned teens like Rath end up jailed … or dead. So when the shadowy Janus Group offers Rath a chance to earn riches beyond his wildest dreams, he seizes it. But the Janus Group is as ruthless as the elite assassins it controls. Rath will have to survive their grueling, off-world training, and fulfill all fifty kills in his contract before a single cent comes his way. And ending so many lives comes with a price Rath can’t anticipate. It’ll certainly cost him what’s left of his innocence. It may well cost him his life.

For More Information

  • Rath’s Deception is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

What made you decide to become a published author?

I’m not sure it was a choice! I’ve always loved reading and writing, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an author. It just feels good to tell stories, and I love knowing that I’ve entertained people with them.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

The Long Island Rail Road’s 7:00am to Penn Station ;-) I’m not a full time writer yet, and I have a 90 min commute each morning (and evening), so that’s my writing time. I put on my headphones, and start writing…and before I know it, I’m at work.

What inspires you?

The goal of being a full-time writer. I think that’s more realistic today than it has been at any point in history – the internet has made it so much easier to find and connect with your readers, and earn a decent living from your work.

Why do you love to write science fiction?

It’s one of my favorite genres to read…and as an author, I love the endless possibilities that come with using sci fi as your canvas. I’ve always been fascinated with technology, too – so I like trying to imagine where technology will take us next, and what the impact will be on society.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

No – some of my military experiences definitely influenced scenes where Rath is trained and then has to attempt his missions, but there’s nothing from my life that is directly on the page. There are a few easter eggs sprinkled throughout the series, though – genre fans will spot them!

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

Scuba diving! I’ve logged several hundred dives on some of the world’s best reefs and wrecks. I’d love to get my divemaster certification, though, and my wife and I can’t wait until our daughter is old enough to get her own certification – will make vacations that much more fun!

What’s next for you?

Books 2 and 3! I wanted to have the whole trilogy complete before I released Book 1. So I’m putting the finishing touches on them now, and each will be released one month after Rath’s Deception.






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The Unseen Kingdom Book Spotlight

About The Book
Title: The Unseen Kingdom
Author: Daniel R. Mathews
Publisher: Lost Legacy Press
Publication Date: September 19, 2015
Format: Paperback – 562 pages / eBook  / PDF
ISBN: 978-0990710721
Genre: YA / LGBT / Horror / Science Fiction
Book Description:
A group of friends must band together to defeat an ancient evil in Daniel R. Mathews’s terrifying debut, The Unseen Kingdom.
In a small New England town, thirteen-year-old Tommy Wilson’s biggest worry is coming out to his close-knit group of friends. All of that changes, however, when the boys discover a dream portal to R’lyeh—home to the Titan god Cthulhu himself.
Inhabited by monstrous creatures and eerie children who have appointed Tommy and his friends their new “apostles,” R’lyeh becomes a horrifying yet darkly fascinating world that proves to be increasingly real.
Meanwhile, the town’s population is suddenly overrun with a mysterious epidemic that threatens everyone. As the boys struggle to cope with what is happening, Tommy comes closer than ever to discovering the dark secret that lurks within R’lyeh itself—but will the price prove to be too costly? And, can the boys unlock the link between the secrets of R’lyeh and the devastation of their town’s population before it’s too late?
A truly unique work of fiction, The Unseen Kingdom is an LGBT coming-of-age novel skillfully infused with edge-of-your-seat horror, resulting in a wildly entertaining novel that will leave you guessing until the very last page.
Book Excerpt: 

CH A P T E R 1The dust covered yellow school bus rumbled down the cracked asphalt road,
shaking the children inside. Tommy’s body was inclined back against his
seat, his feet planted at the top of the green vinyl covered seat in front of
him. He alternated between glancing at his best friend Brian and peering
out the window at the blur of the fading autumn colors along the road.
Kevin was sitting rather imperiously at the back of the bus, grimacing down
at his cell phone that he removed from his pocket every couple of minutes.

Unable to resist commenting, Carlos leaned across the aisle. “Alright,
what’s the deal, Kevin? You got a hot date or something?”

Kevin’s face flushed slightly. “Uh…yeah! Jealous much?”

Despite his retort, his hands were shaking. Sunlight streaming through
the windows revealed a rather puffy ring of black and blue flesh underneath
his right eye. Tommy spotted the clumsy attempt to hide the bruise with
makeup. For an instant, the two boys’ eyes met but Kevin cast his eyes
downward, looking ashamed. He looked at his phone again, and Tommy
knew why.

A smirk curled across Carlos’ lips as he quipped, “Yeah, right. Your left
hand isn’t a date!” A chorus of chuckles emanated from the kids sitting in
front of the group of boys.

Kevin turned to face him and punched the boy in the shoulder with a
dull thwack. Before he could say anything, Kevin leaned back in his seat
and said, “Just FYI, it’s my right hand.” The children in earshot giggled at
Kevin’s assertion.

After rubbing his shoulder, Carlos looked back at Kevin. “Seriously,
dude, what’s up?” Tommy looked over at him and discreetly touched his
own face, to draw Carlos’ attention to Kevin’s bruise. After Carlos had realized
what he meant, the group became quiet.

Kevin put his phone away, leaned back against the window facing his
friends and forced a smile. “The only problem I have is your ugly face.”
Carlos flipped Kevin off, and poked Jacob who was giggling at his expense.

Tommy glanced at Brian and smiled. When he returned the smile,
Tommy looked down, his face brightening. Carlos and Jacob nudged one
another and pointed at the pair. Carlos was dozing in the sunlight, while
Jacob leaned against him listening to music on his headphones, watching
Tommy and Brian with bemused interest.

Kevin shook his head and grinned knowingly back at Jacob. Tommy
caught the boys’ conspiratorial glances and turned his head to the side. He
felt he was the punch line of an inside joke sometimes, but wasn’t quite sure
why. His curiosity was interrupted by his cell phone vibrating in his pocket.
He dug the phone out and read the text message from his mother.

“Yeah! It’s here!” Tommy exclaimed as he pumped his fist in the air

His voice rousted Carlos from his slumber. “What’s here? Another My
Little Pony?” he asked.

“Your birthday was last month, dork. No, my Halloween costume,”
Tommy responded matter-of-factly.

Kevin spun his hand around in a circle. “Uh, and…”

“It’s a surprise!” Tommy said with a mischievous grin, staring into
Brian’s grey eyes.

Carlos huffed with annoyance. “Dude, if you wear the same costume as
me again this year I’m going to kick your ass.”

“You’re still going as the red Master Chief, right?” Tommy asked with
sudden concern.
Carlos nodded affirmatively. “You’re going as a Templar, right,

Brian responded affirmatively, “I got some chain mail, and Mom
bought me a historically accurate tabard and helmet to go with it! Now if I
could use Dad’s old sword, the outfit would be perfect.”

“Even with the sword, I’m still going to own you,” Carlos said confidently.
He looked over at Kevin. “You decide on an outfit yet?”

Kevin shrugged, breaking eye contact with the others. “I don’t know if
my father’s going to let me go.”

“He’s gotta! There’s going to be ten thousand dollars in prizes. This is
going to be the best Halloween ever!” Tommy said exuberantly.

“And, you know, nobody does Halloween better than us!” Brian proclaimed

“Alright…alright. I’ll come up with something, I’m sure,” Kevin assured
his friends.

“What about you, Jacob?” Kevin asked.

Jacob smiled. “It’s a secret.”

“I’ll take care of this,” Carlos said, poking him mercilessly in the side,
causing him to squeal. The bus driver cleared his throat loudly, glaring at
the boys through the rear view mirror.

“Quit it!” Jacob protested, his face turning red enough to mask his pale
freckles. “I’m going as a vampire,” he surrendered begrudgingly.

“God, another sparkly vampire!” Carlos teased.

“No way, dork! A real vampire!” he retorted. Tommy and Brian laughed
and applauded.

Tommy leaned back and peered out the window again. The bus sputtered
to a stop, letting a few children out. He sang under his breath, “Eight
more days to Halloween, Halloween. Eight more days to Halloween, Silver
Shamrock.” Brian’s reflection in the window beamed at him while Carlos
and Kevin simultaneously rolled their eyes.

As the bus rounded a bend adjacent to the swamp that surrounded
much of the town, Tommy caught a glimpse of a boy wearing filthy blue
denim overalls and a wool beret. However, the boy disappeared behind the
veil of swirling white smoke left by the bus’s exhaust. There was something
inherently disquieting about the boy.

The bus ride grew progressively quieter as the bus approached the end
of its daily journey. His eyes widened when he saw the same boy from earlier
emerging from behind a row of wild hawthorn bushes. This time he
made direct eye contact with the mysterious boy. A wicked smile danced
across the child’s otherwise emotionless face, causing Tommy’s body to
shudder involuntarily. There was something terrible in the child’s visage,
forcing him to look away from those hollow, soulless eyes that invaded his
consciousness. Tommy looked up to see the bus driver staring intently at him through the rear view mirror. The rest of the group had fallen into
their own little worlds, lulled into virtual slumber by the constant droning
of the engine and swaying of the bus. He sank down in his seat, trying to
avoid the bus driver’s penetrating stare. He glanced over at Brian, who was
playing with his phone.

Tommy felt some relief when the final stop was reached and it was time
to offload. Carlos, Jacob and Brian were already halfway down the aisle
before the bus reached a stop, leaving Kevin and Tommy as the last passengers
to disembark. As Tommy descended the stairs, the bus driver reached
out and grabbed his hand. “You’ve seen them, haven’t you?” he asked.

A startled Tommy gave the bus driver a bewildered stare as he struggled
to withdraw his hand from the man’s tight grasp. “Seen who? What are
you talking about?” he asked, growing fearful of the man’s narrowing eyes.

“The children of the Great Unseen have revealed themselves to you,
and now it’s your turn to hear HIS call,” the man whispered in a raspy
voice. He tried to back away as the man’s eyes darkened, much like the boy
he had seen earlier.

“You’re hurting me!” an increasingly flustered Tommy stammered, trying
to pull away from the man’s grip.

Like a passing summer storm, the man’s face brightened, and he released
Tommy’s wrist. “Well, what are you waiting for, boy? It’s Friday night. You
got the whole weekend ahead of you. Now git!” He smiled warmly at the astounded
boy. Tommy stepped off the bus, confronted by Kevin and Brian.

“What the hell happened?” Kevin demanded.

Tommy could do little but shrug his slender shoulders. “I don’t know.
He was mad about something; it didn’t make any sense. Whatever it was,
he got over it quickly.”

Kevin watched with concern as the bus disappeared down the road, before
turning his attention to the dilapidated two-story greyish white house
in front of him. “Well, I can’t stall any longer,” he said with a sigh.

“What are you doing guys doing tonight?” Tommy asked.

Kevin shifted his weight. “I think I better stay in and work on

Brian said, “I promised Mom I’d clean up around the house tonight,
but I’ll have the rest of the weekend free after my homework is done.”
Tommy looked a little dejected, but at least this afforded him some time to
check out his Halloween costume.

“We’ll see you tomorrow morning, right?” Tommy asked Kevin

Kevin forced a smile and gave him a playful push. “Yeah, Bro, I’ll see
you guys tomorrow. We’ll go into town or something.” Tommy and Brian
said their good-byes and the boys parted company for the day.

Tommy’s house was a little larger than Kevin’s, painted a similar
weather-beaten white although clearly more care and maintenance has been
put into his house than Kevin’s. He bounded through the front door, his
eyes scanning the entranceway and hallway for any signs of his package. He
poked his head into the kitchen, spying the nondescript brown box sitting
on the table between his mother and father.

He made a beeline for the package before his mom intercepted him.
“Not even an acknowledgment of us being in the room?” she mockingly
admonished him, wiping the curly locks of blonde hair from his face.

“Stop, Mom! Hi, Dad!” he blurted out as he reached for the box.

“So, remind me why you needed to spend six months of your allowance
for this?” his father asked while Tommy tore open the package

“It’s a surprise for…” Tommy cut himself short. “I mean, I’m just
looking forward to Halloween.” The boy delved into the contents of the
package, procuring large sheets of fine brown fur wrapped in translucent

“Is there something you’d like to talk to us about?” his father asked
softly, casting a glance at his wife.

“You know, you can talk to us about anything,” Tommy’s mom said

Tommy pulled out the lower jaw of the werewolf costume, running his
fingers along the jagged teeth as he looked up at his parents with confusion.
“What are you talking about?”

“Well, we thought maybe you’d like to talk about someone,” Tommy’s
father said.

Tommy thought for a moment, unsure where his parents were going
with this line of questioning, though admittedly he felt embarrassed as a
sloppy grin crossed his face imagining Brian’s reaction when he sees the
costume. Before he could assemble the pieces in his mind, he blurted out
Kevin’s name.

“Kevin? What about him?” his mother asked, casting a confused gaze
over at her husband on this unexpected subject.

“I think his dad beat him up last night. He was wearing makeup to
cover up a black eye, but he didn’t have it yesterday,” Tommy said, looking out the kitchen window toward Kevin’s house. “I’m worried about him,”
he added.

“That’s a serious accusation, Tommy. Has Kevin given you any indication
of this?” his father asked, looking troubled.

Tommy shook his head. “No, but he acts afraid to go home. Every day
on the bus you can see him start shaking the closer we get.”

“That’s a worrying sign, Tommy, but we need to know the whole story.
Kevin is lucky to have you as a friend. I think the best thing you can do
right now is be there for him, and let him know that when he’s ready to talk,
you’ll listen,” his father instructed.

“Is there anything else, anything Kevin’s said that would make you feel
there’s trouble with his father?” his mother interjected.

Tommy thought for a moment. “Kevin’s mentioned his dad drinks a
lot. I think that’s when he gets in trouble.”

His mother rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Isn’t it always?” she
whispered to no one in particular. “Your father is right, Tommy. Let know
Kevin that you’re there for him. There is a counselor at your school trained
for this kind of thing, so Kevin has options if he’s in trouble.”

“Couldn’t you talk to his dad, make him stop?” he asked his father.

Tommy’s father leaned back in his chair and sighed. “It’s not that easy,
kiddo. Nobody likes to be told how to raise their child, and I’m afraid if we
stick our noses into his business, he might take it out on Kevin. It would be
best if the school became involved in this.”

Disappointed, Tommy knew this was a problem that couldn’t easily be
solved. He pulled out the remaining mass of soft brown fur and the upper jaw of his werewolf costume. “Some assembly required,” he moaned, pulling
out a plastic bag full of plastic claws.

“I hope you’re not expecting me to do all the work,” Tommy’s mother

“Uh, no, of course not, Mom!” he replied, his bright, blue pleading eyes
belying his underlying intent.

“Well, if you like I can take the measurements and help you get started
this weekend,” his mom offered diplomatically.

His face brightened. “Thanks, Mom, that’d be awesome!”

“Alright, go get started on your homework. Dinner will be ready in
about an hour,” she concluded, sending the Tommy and his costume out
of the kitchen.

His father shook his head and laughed. “I have a feeling this is going to
be an unforgettable Halloween.”

Tommy bounded into his room, and spread all the individual components
of the werewolf costume across his bed. The macabre mass of soft
fur, jaws and claws melded naturally with the horror movie posters hanging
on the far wall, above the shelves filled with rows of horror movie
DVDs and a couple dozen similarly themed novels. He plopped himself
down in his wooden desk chair and rummaged through his backpack for
his homework assignments.

Buy The Book:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Unseen-Kingdom-Daniel-R-Mathews/dp/0990710726/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442868026&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Unseen+Kingdom+Daniel+Mathews

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-unseen-kingdom-daniel-r-mathews/1122709418?ean=9780990710721

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26795882-the-unseen-kingdom

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/17505392-the-unseen-kingdom-by-daniel-r-mathews
About The Author
An avid reader of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, Daniel R. Mathews is a novelist and nonfiction writer whose books feature LGBT youth braving danger with honor and dignity, including his personal memoir, The Demons of Plainville, and debut horror novel, The Unseen Kingdom.
For the past two decades, Mathews has worked as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified ground instructor, meteorologist, and a member of the web development and Internet technical support community. He currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Connect with Daniel R. Mathews:
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