Wednesday, August 25, 2021




On a winter day in 1898, spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, and suffocating her with a pillow. The crowd will not know for a year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world executed in the electric chair. None of her lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency. Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? We have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place. Speaking from the grave she tells her own story. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Book Details:

Title: The Murderess Must Die

Author: Marlie Parker Wasserman

Genre: historical crime fiction

Publisher: Level Best Books, Historia Imprint (July 6, 2021)

Print length: 248 pages



A few of your favorite things: the desk where I write each day. The desk belonged to my father, so I can still envision him sitting there, paying bills, sorting through papers. My family has lugged that desk from one home to another, five or six times. Now I carefully arrange my laptop on the surface, my research material, my pens, my coffee.  I’m not sure I could write anywhere else.
Things you need to throw out: all the items in my pantry and refrigerator that have turned green as I’ve been writing at my wonderful desk.

Things you need in order to write: in addition to the desk I just mentioned, I need time to think, to let the characters talk to me, to weigh the logic of different plot ideas. The characters talk the most at night, and when I shower. If I try to quiet them so I can focus on what to make for breakfast or whether the weather will allow for a hike, then I’m in trouble.
Things that hamper your writing: one of my biggest problems with writing will sound familiar to others—breaks in the process. If I write every day, I can recall where I’ve been with the story and where I am going, but if I take a vacation or a break to do another project, and then I return to my novel, I have lost the momentum. It takes me days just to refresh my memory. I have to recover the strands of the plot and all the hundreds of details I had in my head the week before. I do write down some of the strands, of course, but even more remain in my head.

Things you love about writing: writing is like a giant jigsaw puzzle or boardgame. So many options lie in front of the writer, who must decide what path to follow. I believe writing keeps the pathways in my brain open and active. I think of writing as brain exercise.
Things you hate about writing: when I wake up in the morning, reread what I wrote the day before, and feel like I’ve wasted my time. But I take another sip of coffee and try again.

Easiest thing about being a writer: well, nothing about writing is easy, but I do get pleasure from coming up with an idea that connects one scene to another, or that connects one character’s motivation to her actions.  In historical fiction, I get pleasure in my research when I come across a nugget of information that helps explain events. For example, in writing The Murderess Must Die, after a year of research I came across an article that mentioned that the victim’s girlfriend’s fiancé was on the coroner’s jury. That led me to a subplot that helps to explain motivations for many of my characters. 

Hardest thing about being a writer: plot. Plot. And plot. We all start with an idea, and maybe an ending or twist, but to sustain action and tension for, let’s say, 250 pages, remains a task. And once you do have the general form of a plot, you need to ensure that it is logical, and that you have created continuity.  Too often, as I revise, I realize I’ve confused dates. Sally unwraps her birthday gift but her party is not until the next scene.

Things you love about where you live: I have never been attached to any one place. I’ve lived in Illinois, Virginia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and now North Carolina. Each place feels special. In North Carolina, I admire the mix of long-time residents with new residents from other regions of the country, I enjoy the smells of the foliage, and I enjoy southern barbeque and biscuits. But I am a firm believer that every area has its charms if you keep an open mind and look hard enough.
Things that make you want to move: I don’t like to focus on moving, but I do like to focus on seeing new places. From North Carolina, we can get to the beaches, to the mountains, and to a few large cities easily. I value travel for all the cliched reasons—new sights, new people, new tastes. But for my friends who cannot travel for one reason or another, I always add that I don’t believe in the idea that to be fully alive you must have traveled to Paris—or London or Jerusalem or the Grand Canyon—before you die. You can transport yourself to other places through novels and films just as easily as by travel.

Words that describe you: I am alternately introverted or extroverted, depending on the circumstances and the day. I would like to think of myself as sensitive to other people’s needs and feelings. On the negative side, I can focus so much that I forget those around me and I am stubborn about foods I don’t like and activities I don’t like. My children would probably call me judgmental, but my friends would not, so make of that what you will.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: frizzy-haired and beady-eyed.

Something you’re really good at: I am moderately gifted at sketching, and I love to draw. Writing has taken time away from my art projects.

Something you’re really bad at: sports and Marlie do not get along. I can’t hit a tennis ball, a golf ball, or a volleyball.  I am bored by baseball and do not understand football or soccer.  On social occasions, when the topic turns to team sports, I zone out.  Right after sports comes the guitar.  Despite four years of lessons, I cannot play Old McDonald.

Things you’d walk a mile for: I would walk a mile for ice cream, with no hesitation. When I travel to a new city or country, the first thing I do is Google “best ice cream in x.”  Here in North Carolina, we have found our go-to ice cream shop in the town of Cary.  I don’t understand why the entire world is not lined up there.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: I am afraid of all bugs, mice, dogs, cats, etc.  If I see even a small ant I want to run, screaming. My discomfort with dogs and cats poses problems for my social life and means I’ll never write a cozy mystery.

Things you always put in your books: I have learned to always add smells into my writing. Often, this means cigar smoke. Sometimes body odor. At first, I was so busy trying to get the plot down that I forgot about the senses. Now I do my best to remember.

Things you never put in your books: I tire of too much foul language. Not that I think it’s sinful—just boring. I do have an occasional swear word, but the less you have the more weight it carries.

Favorite places you’ve been: here’s a shout out for my city of birth—Chicago. I know stories about crime tend to deter tourists, but that’s a shame. Take an architectural boat ride on the Chicago River. Yes, your boat will be filled with tourists, but sometimes crowds are present for a reason. Visitors know a good thing when they see it. A second favorite place, less well-known, is Black Canyon of the Gunnison. This is a relatively new national park in Colorado. Candy for the eyes.

Places you never want to go to again: OK, I know this is controversial, but I think Seattle is overrated. Once you’ve walked the waterfront and eaten at Pike’s Market, what’s left? Sorry, Seattle lovers.

Favorite books:
historical crime fiction. You can see I am biased toward the genre in which I write.  With historical crime fiction you get mystery and an educational setting.  
Books you would ban: no one will agree with me, but I would ban sci fi.  I believe the real world is strange enough without making up new oddities.  I try to overcome this bias from time to time, but it’s a heavy lift for me.

Favorite things to do: writing and drawing. They are alike, each requiring choices, creativity, and working the brain.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: any sports. I am sooo bad at both team sports and individual sports. Can’t even manage croquet.

Things that make you happy: my answer is immediate—my grandson. He lights up my life. I don’t care if that’s a cliché.
Things that drive you crazy: here’s a trivial annoyance that everyone will understand. I go crazy when I want to leave voicemail but must first listen to “I’m out fishin’ and havin’ a good time,” followed by more chit chat. Just let me leave the message.  I go equally crazy when Sue uses email to invite ten people to her party and then all ten push reply all, filling up my inbox.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: as you can guess, I can’t swim.  But the college I attended required students to swim the length of a pool before graduating. If I had realized that when I applied and was accepted, I would have chosen another college.  Anyway, wonder of wonders, I swam the length. It was one of the greatest and most surprising feats of my life.

Something you chickened out from doing: my pre-teen daughter and I planned to go to the mall to get our ears pierced, together. She went first and nearly passed out from the experience. When I helped her to a bench in the mall to recuperate, I realized I could not go second. We simply went home. For months I didn’t live down my cowardice. Eventually I went to the mall alone and did the deed.



Martha Garretson, that’s the name I was born with, but the district attorney called me Martha Place in the murder charge. I was foolish enough to marry Mr. William Place. And before that I was dumb enough to marry another man, Wesley Savacool. So, my name is Martha Garretson Savacool Place. Friends call me Mattie. No, I guess that’s not right. I don’t have many friends, but my family, the ones I have left, they call me Mattie. I’ll tell you more before we go on. The charge was not just murder. That D.A. charged me with murder in the first degree, and he threw in assault, and a third crime, a ridiculous one, attempted suicide. In the end he decided to aim at just murder in the first. That was enough for him.

I had no plans to tell you my story. I wasn’t one of those story tellers. That changed in February 1898, soon after my alleged crimes, when I met Miss Emilie Meury. The guards called her the prison angel. She’s a missionary from the Brooklyn Auxiliary Mission Society. Spends her days at the jail where the police locked me up for five months before Sing Sing. I never thought I’d talk to a missionary lady. I didn’t take kindly to religion. But Miss Meury, she turned into a good friend and a good listener. She never snickered at me. Just nodded or asked a question or two, not like those doctors I talked to later. They asked a hundred questions. No, Miss Meury just let me go wherever I wanted, with my recollections. Because of Miss Meury, now I know how to tell my story. I talked to her for thirteen months, until the day the state of New York set to electrocute me.

We talked about the farm, that damn farm. Don’t fret, I knew enough not to say damn to Emilie Meury. She never saw a farm. She didn’t know much about New Jersey, and nothing about my village, East Millstone. I told her how Pa ruined the farm. Sixty acres, only thirty in crop, one ramshackle house with two rooms down and two rooms up. And a smokehouse, a springhouse, a root cellar, a chicken coop, and a corn crib, all run down, falling down. The barn was the best of the lot, but it leaned over to the west.

They tell me I had three baby brothers who died before I was born, two on the same day. Ma and Pa hardly talked about that, but the neighbors remembered, and they talked. For years that left just my brother Garret, well, that left Garret for a while anyway, and my sister Ellen. Then I was born, then Matilda—family called her Tillie—then Peter, then Eliza, then Garret died in the

war, then Eliza died. By the time I moved to Brooklyn, only my brother Peter and my sister Ellen were alive. Peter is the only one the police talk to these days.

The farmers nearby and some of our kin reckoned that my Ma and Pa, Isaac and Penelope Garretson were their names, they bore the blame for my three little brothers dying in just two years. Isaac and Penelope were so mean, that’s what they deserved. I don’t reckon their meanness caused the little ones to die. I was a middle child with five before me and three after, and I saw meanness all around, every day. I never blamed anything on meanness. Not even what happened to me.

On the farm there was always work to be done, a lot of it by me. Maybe Ma and Pa spread out the work even, but I never thought so. By the time I was nine, that was in 1858, I knew what I had to do. In the spring I hiked up my skirt to plow. In the fall I sharpened the knives for butchering. In the winter I chopped firewood after Pa or Garret, he was the oldest, sawed the heaviest logs. Every morning I milked and hauled water from the well. On Thursdays I churned. On Mondays I scrubbed. Pa, and Ma too, they were busy with work, but they always had time to yell when I messed up. I was two years younger than Ellen, she’s my sister, still alive, I think. I was taller and stronger. Ellen had a bent for sewing and darning, so lots of time she sat in the parlor with handiwork. I didn’t think the parlor looked shabby. Now that I’ve seen fancy houses, I remember the scratched and frayed chairs in the farmhouse and the rough plank floor, no carpets. While Ellen sewed in the parlor, I plowed the fields, sweating behind the horses. I sewed too, but everyone knew Ellen was better. I took care with all my chores. Had to sew a straight seam. Had to plow a straight line. If I messed up, Pa’s wrath came down on me, or sometimes Ma’s. Fists or worse.

When I told that story for the first time to Miss Emilie Meury, she lowered her head, looked at the Bible she always held. And when I told it to others, they looked away too.

On the farm Ma needed me and Ellen to watch over our sisters, Tillie and Eliza, and over our brother Peter. They were born after me. Just another chore, that’s what Ellen thought about watching the young ones. For me, I liked watching them, and not just because I needed a rest from farm work. I loved Peter. He was four years younger. He’s not that sharp but he’s a good-natured, kind. I loved the girls too. Tillie, the level-headed and sweet one, and Eliza, the restless one, maybe wild even. The four of us played house. I was the ma and Peter, he stretched his

back and neck to be pa. I laughed at him, in a kindly way. He and me, we ordered Tillie and Eliza around. We played school and I pranced around as schoolmarm.

But Ma and Pa judged, they judged every move. They left the younger ones alone and paid no heed to Ellen. She looked so sour. We called her sourpuss. Garret and me, we made enough mistakes to keep Ma and Pa busy all year. I remember what I said once to Ma, when she saw the messy kitchen and started in on me.

“Why don’t you whup Ellen? She didn’t wash up either.”

“Don’t need to give a reason.”

“Why don’t you whup Garret. He made the mess.”

“You heard me. Don’t need to give a reason.”

Then she threw a dish. Hit my head. I had a bump, and more to clean.

With Pa the hurt lasted longer. Here’s what I remember. “Over there.” That’s what he said, pointing. He saw the uneven lines my plow made. When I told this story to Miss Meury, I pointed, with a mean finger, to give her the idea.

I spent that night locked in the smelly chicken coop.

When I tell about the coop, I usually tell about the cemetery next, because that’s a different kind of hurt. Every December, from the time I was little to the time I left the farm, us Garretsons took the wagon or the sleigh for our yearly visit to the cemetery, first to visit Stephen, Cornelius, and Abraham. They died long before. They were ghosts to me. I remembered the gloom of the cemetery, and the silence. The whole family stood around those graves, but I never heard a cry. Even Ma stayed quiet. I told the story, just like this, to Miss Meury. But I told it again, later, to those men who came to the prison to check my sanity.

Penelope Wykoff Garretson

I was born a Wyckoff, Penelope Wyckoff, and I felt that in my bones, even when the other farm folks called me Ma Garretson. As a Wyckoff, one of the prettiest of the Wyckoffs I’m not shy to say, I lived better than lots of the villagers in central New Jersey, certainly better than the Garretsons. I had five years of schooling and new dresses for the dances each year. I can’t remember what I saw in Isaac Garretson when we married on February 5, 1841. We slept together that night. I birthed Stephen nine months later. Then comes the sing-song litany. When I was still nursing Stephen, Garret was born. And while I was still nursing Garret, the twins were born. Then the twins died and I had only Stephen and Garret. Then Stephen died and I had no one but Garret until Ellen was born. Then Martha. Some call her Mattie. Then Peter. Then Matilda. Some call her Tillie. Then Eliza. Then Garret died. Then Eliza died. Were there more births than deaths or deaths than births?

During the worst of the birthing and the burying, Isaac got real bad. He always had a temper, I knew that, but it got worse. Maybe because the farm was failing, or almost failing. The banks in New Brunswick—that was the nearby town—wouldn’t lend him money. Those bankers knew him, knew he was a risk. Then the gambling started. Horse racing. It’s a miracle he didn’t lose the farm at the track. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my sisters, about the gambling, and I certainly didn’t tell them that the bed didn’t help any. No time for shagging. Isaac pulled me to him at the end of a day. The bed was always cold because he never cut enough firewood. I rolled away most days, not all. Knew it couldn’t be all. So tired. There were no strapping boys to 

help with the farm, no girls either for a while.

As Garret grew tall and Ellen and Mattie grew some, I sent the children to the schoolhouse. It wasn’t much of a school, just a one-room unpainted cottage shared with the post office, with that awful Mr. Washburn in charge. It was what we had. Isaac thought school was no use and kept Garret and the girls back as much as he could, especially in the spring. He needed them for the farm and the truth was I could use them for housework and milking and such too. Garret didn’t mind skipping school. He was fine with farm work, but Ellen and Mattie fussed and attended more days than Garret did. I worried that Garret struggled to read and write, while the girls managed pretty well. Ellen and Mattie read when there was a need and Mattie was good with her numbers. At age nine she was already helping Isaac with his messy ledgers.

I was no fool—I knew what went on in that school. The few times I went to pull out Garret midday for plowing, that teacher, that Mr. Washburn, looked uneasy when I entered the room. He stood straight as a ramrod, looking at me, grimacing. His fingernails were clean and his collar was starched. I reckon he saw that my fingernails were filthy and my muslin dress was soiled. Washburn didn’t remember that my children, the Garretson children, were Wyckoffs just as much as they were Garretsons. He saw their threadbare clothes and treated them like dirt. Had Garret chop wood and the girls haul water, while those stuck-up Neilson girls, always with those silly smiles on their faces, sat around in their pretty dresses, snickering at the others. First, I didn’t think the snickering bothered anyone except me. Then I saw Ellen and Mattie fussing with their clothes before school, pulling the fabric around their frayed elbows to the inside, and I knew they felt bad.

I wanted to raise my children, at least my daughters, like Wyckoffs. With Isaac thinking he was in charge, that wasn’t going to happen. At least the girls knew the difference, knew there was something better than this miserable farm. But me, Ma Garretson they called me, I was stuck.


Excerpt from The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman.  Copyright 2021 by Marlie Wasserman. Reproduced with permission from Marlie Wasserman. All rights reserved.



Marlie Parker Wasserman writes historical crime fiction, after a long career in academic publishing. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband Mark, a historian. Marlie is at work on two other novels, one set in Panama in 1906 and one centered around the Windsor Hotel fire in Manhattan in 1899.

Connect with Marlie:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 

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Friday, August 20, 2021



Eccentric Fran wants a second chance. Thanks to her intimacy with Jane Austen, and the poet Shelley, she finds one.

Jane Austen is such a presence in Fran's life that she seems to share her cottage and garden, becoming an imaginary friend.

Fran’s conversations with Jane Austen guide and chide her – but Fran is ready for change after years of teaching, reading and gardening. An encounter with a long-standing English friend, and an American writer, leads to new possibilities. Adrift, the three women bond through a love of books and a quest for the idealist poet Shelley at two pivotal moments of his life: in Wales and Venice. His otherworldly longing and yearning for utopian communities lead the women to interrogate their own past as well as motherhood, feminism, the resurgence of childhood memory in old age, the tensions and attractions between generations. Despite the appeal of solitude, the women open themselves social to ways of living—outside partnership and family. Jane Austen, as always, has plenty of comments to offer.

The novel is a (light) meditation on age, mortality, friendship, hope, and the excitement of change.

Book Details

Title: Jane Austen and Shelley in the Garden: An Illustrated Novel

Author: Janet Todd

Genre: literary fiction

Publisher: Fentum Press
 (September 7, 2021
Print length: 336 pages


A few of your favorite things: warm croissants, cut flowers, china fruit.
Things you need to throw out: high heel shoes, red handbags.

Things you need in order to write: pen and envelope,  laptop.
Things that hamper your writing: not a lot. Can withstand need to clean house, garden.

Things you love about where you live: big trees, big sky, crumbling walls.
Things that make you want to move: the weather.

Things you never want to run out of: marmite—and books.
Things you wish you’d never bought: an exercise bike.

Favorite foods: dumplings, Dutch apple pie, fresh figs .
Things that make you want to throw up:   kippers for breakfast.
Favorite music: Purcell’s Fairest Isle—made me want to live in England. Memo to self: never trust a song.
Music that make your ears bleed: loud stuff coming from next car in a traffic jam.
Favorite smell: wallflower (it is an actual flower!).

Something that makes you hold your nose: sulphur, reminds me of dried egg.
Something you’re really good at: working.

Something you’re really bad at: stopping work.

Something you wish you could do: meditate.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: darn a sock. No call for it now—thank God.
Something you like to do: walk down a grassy lane alone—without an umbrella.

Something you wish you’d never done: don’t let me start . . .

Last best thing you ate: lamb hotpot, rhubarb crumble. Yum.

Last thing you regret eating: the Easter chocolates bought as presents but never given because of lockdown.
Things you’d walk a mile for: champagne and smoked oysters in a friend’s garden.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: meetings with  spreadsheets and ‘brainstorming.’
Things you always put in your books: food, rivers and woodland, poetry.

Things you never put in your books: I’m from the Jane Austen school of amorous encounter, so not a lot of explicit sex. But there again, do write funny sex—and even nasty sex . . .
Things to say to an author: compliments.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: Darling, how daring of you to . . .

Favorite places you’ve been: Aberdovey, Trincomalee, Pine Barrens (NJ), Venice.

Places you never want to go to again: Delhi, someone pinched my passport and I was stuck with no money—or identity.

Things that make you happy: good health.

Things that drive you crazy: being asked for feedback after buying some sticky tape or a bag of bulbs; getting duckweed out of pond, tax returns.


Janet Todd is a novelist, biographer and internationally renowned Jane Austen scholar. She is a former president of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. Now a full-time writer and literary critic, she has published several books: Jane Austen's Sanditon, Don’t You Know There’s a War On?, Radiation Diaries, Aphra Behn: A Secret Life, and A Man of Genius. She is an Emerita Professor at the University of Aberdeen and an Honorary Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge. Born in Wales, she grew up in Britain, Bermuda and Ceylon/Sri Lanka and has worked at universities in Ghana, Puerto Rico, India, the US (Douglass College, Rutgers, Florida) Scotland (Glasgow, Aberdeen) and England (Cambridge, UEA). She lives in Cambridge, England and Venice, Italy.

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Sunday, August 15, 2021




The Argonauts (Nelson) meets See A Grown Man Cry/Now Watch Him Die (Rollins) in this raw & rattling Memoir-meets-Chapbook spanning more than 10 years of writing! Rummagings of journals, shoebox scraps, forgotten notes, and letters to loved ones come together to tell one writer's coming-of-age and his quest for unconditional self-love by dissecting his darkness. Each one-year chapter explores love, regret, identity, existence, ambition, depression, and the insanity of it all, neatly coming to a close with Constantine Dhonau's fireside banter of contextual backstory for each chapter.

Book Details

Title: Collateral Inentions

Author: Constantine Dhonau

Genre: memoir, poetry

Published: June 1, 2021

Print length: 220 pages


A few of your favorite things: bathrobe, slippers.

Things you need to throw out: bathrobe, slippers.

Things you need in order to write: space.

Things that hamper your writing: self-criticism.

Things you love about writing: clearing my head.

Things you hate about writing: overthinking it after the fact.

Easiest thing about being a writer: sharing an experience.

Hardest thing about being a writer: a blank page.

Things you love about where you live: enormous mountains.

Things that make you want to move: small town dating pool.

Things you never want to run out of: gratitude, hope, choice.

Things you wish you’d never bought: meme stocks.

Words that describe you: sharp, gritty, quiet, loud, observant, pointed, driven.

Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: stoic, lax, lazy, critical.

Favorite foods: mangoes, pistachio & dark chocolate chip ice cream, Rueben sandwiches.

Things that make you want to throw up: cheese, anchovies & whipped cream.

Favorite music or song: punk, EDM, rap.

Music that make your ears bleed: jam bands.

Favorite smell: exhaust from the dryer.

Something that makes you hold your nose: freshly-emptied alley dumpsters.

Something you’re really good at: keeping quiet.

Something you’re really bad at: keeping quiet.

Something you wish you could do: teleport.

Something you wish you’d never learned to do: procrastinate.

Something you like to do: walk.

Something you wish you’d never done: made up somebody else’s mind for them.

Last best thing you ate: fruit smoothie.

Last thing you regret eating: too much ice cream.

Things you’d walk a mile for: the hell of it.

Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: rescuey, motherly tones.

Things you always put in your books: notes in the margins.
Things you never put in your books: proper bookmarks.

Things to say to an author: “I like (specific detail/part) in your book.”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “that’s deep.”

Favorite places you’ve been: Spain, Redwood Forest, Alaska.

Places you never want to go to again: L.A.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: jumped out of a plane solo.

Something you chickened out from doing: asking her out.


Constantine was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and raised by his mother and his aunt, with the help of several formative programs: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venture Crew, and Sea Scouts. He spent 3 years as the front man for a Tampa ska/punk band: H1N1. After overcoming blind rebellion against "the system," he attended St. Petersburg College for his Associate of Arts, followed by New College of Florida for his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He made his initial escape to Colorado in 2015—degrees in-hand—in search of his independence, dedicating a year of service to City Year Denver of AmeriCorps. There, he discovered a new passion and direction in life: wilderness therapy. He pursued his first and only dream and vision in life with ferocity to become a field guide with Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, completing nearly 550 days in the field. He enjoys writing, tea, cooking, brooding, dancing, yoga, astronomy, reprehensibly long walks, movies, being outdoors, etc. & suchforth.

Connect with Constantine:

Blog   |  Goodreads  


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Tuesday, August 10, 2021




Have you ever felt like one of the least of these?

What do you know of the woman at the well? What led her to the well that day - the exact day Jesus would be there? What of the lepers, the blind man, the woman who dried Jesus' feet with her hair? What of the Centurion who said at the cross, "Surely this was the Son of God”?

Stories of Jesus. You have heard them since you were young. But what about the parts that you’ve never heard?

The stories that need to be told? The stories you need to hear?

Book Details 

Title: I Walked With Jesus: New Testament Stories of Faith and Healing From the Least of These

Author: Kathryn Elizabeth Jones

Genre: historical fiction

Series: book 1

Publisher: Idea Creations Press (August 30, 2021)

Print length: 177 pages


Things you need in order to write: a desk, a Sharpie, a computer, a filing rack, space.

Things that hamper your writing: a messy desk, too many papers that need filing, noise.

Things you love about where you live: the people, recently remodeled areas of my home, easy access to the store, movie theatres, restaurants.

Things that make you want to move: junky yards, low upkeep, crime.

Things you never want to run out of: tape, staples, books, toilet paper.

Things you wish you’d never bought: last minute impulse buys, stuff for the kitchen I never use like gadgets that do only one thing, except for the apple corer which I love.

Words that describe you: adventurous, dependable, likeable, happy.

Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: unforgiving, the opposite of spontaneous.

Favorite foods: dark chocolate, shrimp.

Things that make you want to throw up: liver, sushi.

Favorite smell: lavender.

Something that makes you hold your nose: ivory soap. It reminds me of being pregnant. Don’t ask. It just does.

Something you’re really good at: decorating.

Something you’re really bad at: sports, any sports.

Something you wish you could do: fly fish.

Something you wish you’d never learned to do: weed.

Something you like to do: travel.

Something you wish you’d never done: gotten into debt.

Things you’d walk a mile for: another look at Bryce Canyon, see the sun rise or set on a mountain or on the ocean.

Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: anger, politics.

Things you always put in your books: happiness.

Things you never put in your books: horror.

Favorite things to do: walks, reading, writing.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: cleaning out the fridge or oven.

Things that make you happy: silence, the mountains, the ocean.

Things that drive you crazy: noise, arguments, disagreements.

Proudest moment: bachelor’s degree at 45.

Most embarrassing moment: bachelor’s degree at 45; I was crying buckets!

Biggest lie you’ve ever told: I am 29 years old and holding.

A lie you wish you’d told: I am 29 years old and never age.

Best thing you’ve ever done: have children.

Biggest mistake: forgetting to listen to them.


Kathryn is a lover of words and a bearer of mood swings. When she is feeling the need to inspire, she writes a Christian fiction book. If a mystery is waiting to be uncovered, she finds it. If something otherworldly is finding its way through her fingertips, she travels to it.

Kathryn has been a reader since she was a young child. Although she took classes in writing as a teen, it wasn't something she really thought would become her career until she was married. And even then, it took a few more years for something worthy enough to publish to manifest itself.

Kathryn's first book was published in 2002. Since then, many other books have found their way out of her head depending on the sort of day she is having. Kathryn is a journalist, a teacher, a mentor, an editor, a publisher, and a marketer.

Her greatest joy, other than writing her next book, is meeting with readers and authors who enjoy the craft of writing as much as she does.

Connect with Kathryn:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads  |  Book trailer 

Buy the book:


Friday, August 6, 2021



Tara Atwater holds the right combination of numbers to the record-breaking Ohio state lottery. But what to do about the boyfriend, stabbed to death, on the kitchen floor? It was, after all, his ticket. A diversionary fire might be the answer. Left in her grandparents’ care as her reckless mother worked the carnival circuit, Tara learned about sleight-of-hand flame, purposely created to distract from something far bigger, at age nine. As decades flicker past, from the 1970s until the beginning of a global pandemic, the diversionary fire is a strange art that will touch her and those she loves. From the most marginal of means to unimagined wealth and status, Tara learns that good luck and bad luck, no matter how dense the inferno, can look a lot alike.

Book Details

Title: Diversionary Fires

Author: Rodney Ross

Genre: literary fiction

Published: June 25, 2021

Print length: 354 pages


A few of your favorite things: gardening, cats (and kittens), theatergoing, London and teeth whitening gear. 

Things you need to throw out: a shameful hoarder’s supply of plastic bags from various stores . . . dried-up tubes of SuperGlue . . . brass polish I will never use . . . socks that no amount of bleach will ever render white again . . . Pier 1 scented candles bought on clearance that, alas, have no scent . . . and my bathroom scale, because it taunts me with lies.

Things you need in order to write: I don’t necessarily require quiet, but I DO require a certain vibe: tranquility and time free of pressing chores/errands. Awaiting my “muse” is a little too precious, but I am must be in the proper frame-of-mind. Otherwise, it’s not writing, it’s typing.

Things that hamper your writing: in all honesty, when I am in the midst of writing—and especially when re-writing and editing—I try not to read the fiction of others. It tends to seep into, and affect, my own output . . . not necessarily their style or language, but more a questioning of my character’ motivations, sub-plot resolutions, dialogue. I find great inspiration in many authors, but the somewhat-neurotic need to compare myself to others is counter-productive.

Things you love about writing: all of its possibilities.

Things you hate about writing: what the publishing industry has become.

Easiest thing about being a writer: I find a blank page (or screen) exhilarating. You can do whatever the hell you want.                                                                                                                    
Hardest thing about being a writer: knowing when it is FINALLY time to release my newborn into the cruel world, where it will be alternately wholly embraced and cruelly pinched.

Things you love about where you live: the desert mountains, especially at dawn and dusk . . . the anticipation of “winter” season after the grueling hot summers. . . the demographic diversity of residents.

Things that make you want to move: the grim faces of disapproving people who are older but no wiser . . . jarring snobbism . . . and white entitlement.

Things you never want to run out of: Bath & Body works plug-in refills . . . cat litter . . . panko bread crumbs . . . Trader Joe’s jarred chunky tomato and pepper pasta sauce . . . TP (after the COVID-19 chaos) . . . and baking soda.

Things you wish you’d never bought:  a Swiffer . . . an expensive dining room table runner that my cats inevitably cast to the floor . . . a blood-pressure contraption (because it’s addictive) . . . and that stupidly-large quantity of pricey white bath towels.

Words that describe you: the Ultimate Taurean . . . loyal to those loyal to me . . . tenacious . . . relentless . . . reliable . . . combustible . . . unpretentious.

Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: temperamental . . . cynical . . . distant.

Favorite foods: sushi, properly-cooked pasta, Chicken Parmesan, a fresh shrimp cocktail and vodka (and, yes, I consider it a food). 

Things that make you want to throw up: canned beets, Brussel sprouts, yams/sweet potatoes, and overcooked peas.

Favorite music: I will always succumb to the Pet Shop Boys and most dance/club music from the 80’s.

Music that make your ears bleed: Country/Western (except for Dolly).

Favorite beverage: a cold (and I mean ice chips) Grey Goose martini, up and dirty, with blue-cheese stuffed olives, in a stemmed glass.

Something that gives you a pickle face: anyone at my table who orders veal.

Favorite smell: Gardenia or tuberose.                                                                                    
Something that makes you hold your nose: rotting seaweed on a poorly-kept beach.

Something you’re really good at: pop-culture trivia, especially TV shows, films, and celebrities.

Something you’re really bad at: understanding any professional sport.

Something you wish you could do: fly.

Something you wish you’d never learned to do: politely tolerate bores.

Something you like to do: nap excessively.

Something you wish you’d never done: hurt someone intentionally. As soon as I saw the pain in their face, I was filled with self-disgust, and it has stayed with me for decades.

Last best thing you ate: sauteed calamari. 

Last thing you regret eating: too many Girl Scout Thin Mints after midnight.

Things you’d walk a mile for: my family; to help an injured or wanting animal; and a child in danger.                                                                                                                                                

Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: people who not-so-casually talk about their income, what they drive, where they vacation, and who they know.

Things you always put in your books: a housepet of some sort.                                              
Things you never put in your books: a happy ending just for the sake of it.

Things to say to an author: “I wept throughout.” “I think about   ___ INSERT BOOK TITLE HERE____ all the time” “I laughed out loud and startled people around me.” “I bought a copy for a friend.”                                                                                                                                            
Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “I’m a bit of a writer, too. I kept a diary.  I’ve lived a fascinating life. Would you help me tell my story?”

Favorite places you’ve been: London, Paris, New York City . . . always.

Places you never want to go to again: Providence, Rhode Island; Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Favorite things to do: long drives to nowhere in particular (as long as someone else is at the wheel); a deep-dive into esoteric YouTube videos; and watching my cats tussle and chase one another.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: attending church.

Things that make you happy: meeting people who are unapologetically themselves; a beautiful garden maintained not by a company but the homeowner; cold A/C on an insufferably-hot day; and anything that is a baby (children, kittens, puppies, rabbits, you name it).

Things that drive you crazy: needy gasbags who practically wear a “Notice Me!” sandwich board.

Proudest moment: my marriage.

Most embarrassing moment: forgetting the anniversary of said marriage the very NEXT year.

Best thing you’ve ever done: my marriage.

Biggest mistake: not also adopting the twin brother of my cat Jerry. It is an eternal regret I left him alone at the shelter. (He was, thankfully, adopted the next day.)

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: parasailing (I am terrified of heights).

Something you chickened out from doing: singing Karaoke.

The last thing you did for the first time: drove across the country (the move from South Florida to Southern California with three unhappy cats).

Something you’ll never do again: get into the ocean.


Author Rodney Ross lives, writes, and sweats in Southern California.

The Cool Part Of His Pillow, now in its 2nd edition from JMS Books (first published by Dreamspinner Press), was the 1st Place Winner in the LGBT Fiction category from both the Indie Excellence Awards and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards; Silver Medalist in the 2013 Global EBook Awards; and Honorable Mention in the 2012 Rainbow Book Awards.

Other works include Signing Off in the short story collection Impact, from Other World Ink; Otis, a short fiction from JMS Books about a Christmas Eve where lessons are taught and learned; Bended Knee, from JMS Books, a short, bittersweet contemplation of same-sex marriage; and a non-fiction contribution to the The Other Man: Twenty-One Top Writers Speak Candidly About Sex, Love, Infidelity, Heartbreak and Moving On, also from JMS Books. A trio of essays from this book are being adapted into a play for 2016 by Chicago playwright Bernard Rice. Rodney's work is one of the three.

Past achievements include an optioned screenplay and play, both currently unproduced. Other screenplays earned Honorable Mentions or runners-up citations in the Monterey County Film Commission, FADE-IN and the LGBT One-In-Ten Screenwriting Competitions. Ross was also cited as 'Most Creative' in the Key West Mystery Fest Writing Competition.

Connect with Rodney:
Website  |  Blog Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Book trailer 

Buy the book:


Tuesday, August 3, 2021



Writing for a cheesy Boston tabloid, Jeff Beekle fabricates a whimsical tale about a mob-built CIA prison for ghosts.

Which turns out to be true.

Now both the mob and the CIA have Jeff in their sights.

Even worse, Jeff discovers that his great-grandmother is an inmate and that she and the other spectral residents are being groomed as CIA spies. (And why not? They’re invisible, draw no salary, and won’t hop into bed with enemy agents.)

To his horror, Jeff learns that ancestors held too long in earthly captivity will vanish as if never born, taking with them all their descendants, including him.

Can Jeff outwit the mob and the CIA, free his ghostly ancestors, destroy the prison and save himself?

Book Details:

Title: The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller

Author: David Gardner

Genre: thriller, humor
, paranormal
Publisher: Encircle Publications, LLC (February 10, 2012)

Print length: 322 pages



A few of your favorite things: my recumbent bike, my electronic keyboard, my telescope.
Things you need to throw out: nothing of mine, but lots of my wife’s stuff, but I don’t think that she’d agree.

Things you need in order to write: three free hours.
Things that hamper your writing: phone calls, errands, interruptions in general.

Things you love about writing: the writing itself.
Things you hate about writing: marketing.

Easiest thing about being a writer: final passes through the manuscript.

Hardest thing about being a writer: first drafts.

Things you love about where you live: culture and diversity.
Things that make you want to move: New England winters.

Things you never want to run out of: whipped cream in a can.
Things you wish you’d never bought: quite as much whipped cream in a can.

Favorite foods: lobster, fresh fruit, blueberry shortcake with too much whipped cream.
Things that make you want to throw up: Brussel sprouts.

Favorite song: Satie’s “Gymnopédie #1.”
Music that make your ears bleed: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (And now I have it in my head and can’t get rid of it.)

Favorite smell: spring grass.

Something that makes you hold your nose: boiled Brussel sprouts.

Something you’re really good at: getting people to laugh.

Something you’re really bad at: meeting new people.

Something you like to do: travel.

Something you wish you’d never done: work nine-to-five in an office.

Last best thing you ate: blueberry shortcake.
Last thing you regret eating: a bad burrito.

Things you’d walk a mile for: a good croissant.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: someone who won’t stop talking about themselves.

Things you always put in your books: an emotionally scarred protagonist.

Things you never put in your books: graphic violence, rape, bigotry.

Things to say to an author: I loved your book and have told all my friends.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: I’ve got this really great idea for a novel—let’s write it together.

Favorite places you’ve been: Paris.

Places you never want to go to again: Basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Favorite genre: whimsical books with a plot.

Books you would ban: novels that take themself too seriously.

Favorite things to do: biking, writing, hiking with my kids, traveling with my wife.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: sitting down and paying bills.

Things that make you happy: long walks in the woods with my wife.

Things that drive you crazy: Boston traffic.

Proudest moment: becoming a father.
Most embarrassing moment: I’m too embarrassed to tell you.

Best thing you’ve ever done: raised two children.

Biggest mistake: waiting too long to start writing fiction.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: serving as a paratrooper in Army Special Forces.

Something you chickened out from doing: introducing myself to a favorite author at a writing conference.

The last thing you did for the first time: publish a novel.

Something you’ll never do again: attempt to build my own website.


Chapter 1

SCORPIO Oct. 23 – Nov. 21
Your ancestors are the raw material of your being, but who you become is your responsibility alone. Learn to turn your troubles into opportunities. Today is a good day to defrag your hard drive.

He hovers in the doorway at the far end of the newsroom, his feet not touching the floor. When he spots me, he glides forward, trailing diaphanous versions of himself that become smaller and smaller until they disappear. He wears leather chaps, an oversized black cowboy hat and high-heeled boots that almost bring him up to five feet. He has leathery skin and a drooping gray mustache.

It’s my great-great-grandfather Hiram Beekle, back for another ghostly visit.

He first showed up when I was six years old, right after I shot and killed my stepfather.

I’m the only one who can see him, hear him, talk to him.

As a kid, I would wet my pants and run away whenever Hiram showed up. Now he’s just a pain in the ass.

I turn back to my keyboard, hoping he’ll go away. I’m not in the mood for advice, taunts, prods, complaints, boasts.

He showed up last week to tell me to quit my job and find something better. Same thing the week before and the week before that. Probably why he’s back today.

I have to admit he’s right, but I’m sure as hell not going to tell him that.

Just four months ago I was a hot-shot investigative reporter for the Boston Globe. Now I write for a tacky supermarket tabloid, the Boston Tattler. Its newsroom is an open bay on the second floor of a ratty building that once served as a cheese warehouse that on humid days still smells of camembert. Out front are the marketing and distribution people, along with the office of the publisher, my Uncle Sid. Only he would hire a disgraced journalist like me.

I churn out fanciful tales about creatures from outer space, Elvis sightings and remedies for double chins. Some readers believe my stuff and some don’t. Those in between ride the wave of the fun and nonsensical and don’t care whether the stuff they’re reading is true or not.

Our larger rivals concentrate on noisy Hollywood breakups and soap-opera stars with gambling addictions. The worst of our competitors traffic in fake political conspiracies. But Uncle Sid stays with alien visitors, kitten pictures and herbal cures for chin wattles. He likes to point out that kittens and spacemen don’t sue. He’s been sued too often.

I type:

Although local sportswriters puzzle over the inconsistencies of Red Sox hurlers, the shocking truth is that—

“That’s crap, Jeff.”

Hiram has drifted around behind me to peer over my shoulder.

“Try ‘terrifying’,” he adds. “‘Shocking’ is overused.”

Hiram pretends he’d been a cowpoke, but in fact made a living writing pulp westerns.

I look around to see if anyone is watching, then turn back to Hiram and whisper, “Is that why you’re here, to dispense advice on adjectives?”

“That and to let you know I sense danger.”

“You’re always sensing danger. Just last week, you told me than an earthquake was…”

I stop whispering when Sherwood shuffles over, coffee cup in hand. He’s a doughy, middle-aged man who reads the dictionary for pleasure. “Another tale about space critters, Jeff?”

“A follow-up to last week’s. It’s Uncle Sid’s idea. He loved the national exposure.”

Sherwood nods. “You knocked that one out of the ballpark.”

Sherwood loves sports metaphors but hates sports.

One of my stories from the week before somehow got into the hands of a particularly dim U.S. Congressman who scrambled onto the floor of the House of Representatives to fume against the government agency for hiring a mob-controlled construction company to build a prison for creatures from the planet Ook-239c.

I kick off my sneakers, tilt back my chair and put my bare feet up on my desk. “What’re you working on today?”

“I’ve got a TV chef who’s gone on a hunger strike, identical twin sisters in Chattanooga who’ve been secretly exchanging husbands for fourteen years, and an eight-year-old boy in Brisbane who can predict the future by licking truck tires—the usual stuff.” Sherwood takes a gulp of coffee, shrugs, sighs. “Do you ever wonder what you’re doing with your life?”

“Sometimes. But who doesn’t?”

Again Sherwood sighs. I’ve never known anyone to sigh so often. His wife ran off with a termite inspector a few years back, and soon afterward he lost his professorship and his house. Sherwood was put on the earth as an example of what I don’t want to become.

“You should look for another job,” I say.

Sherwood shrugs, then ambles back to his desk. He doesn’t want another job because it would make him feel better.

But I want a better job so badly that I dream I’ve found one, then wake up to reality.

Hiram floats around front and shakes his head. “The little guy’s right—you should get a better job. And for that, you need to get that darn Pulitzer back.”

I delete ‘shocking’ and type ‘terrifying.’ “Think I’m not trying?”

“Try harder. Young people these days—”

“…don’t know the meaning of hard work,” I contribute. “Yeah, I know. Now go away.”

“No, you go away. You’re in deep trouble, young man. Two black-hearted sidewinders have ridden into town to—”

“That’s the ridiculous opening line from Rise From Ashes. A dreadful novel.”

“Dreadful? Do you know how many copies I sold?” Hiram says.

“The protagonist was an idiot who shot his own big toe off.”

“That had a solid plot purpose. And at least he shot himself, not a member of his own family.”

Whenever I piss Hiram off, he brings up the shooting.

“Screw you!” I whisper and turn back to my keyboard.

Green Monsters on the Green Monster!
Late last night, a sharp-eyed Boston Red Sox guard spotted a pack of green, three-eyed space monsters in Fenway Park. Authorities believe them to be the aliens who escaped from the secret government prison first brought to the public’s attention in last week’s Boston Tattler. The guard reported seeing the creatures scrambling up the wall that Red Sox fans have lovingly dubbed ‘The Green Monster.’
Green monsters attracted to a green wall? A coincidence? Unlikely. In fact, experts on the subject of aliens from outer…

“This little piggy—”

“Hey!” I jerk my foot back.

Melody has sneaked up on me. She likes to do that.

She wiggles my little toe again. “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy—well, you know the rest of the narrative.” She lets go of my toe.

“Actually, that felt good. Don’t stop.”

“That’s as much wiggling as you get, Jeff. You’re married.”

I pull my feet off my desk and rest them on the floor. “Separated.”

“That’s still married.”

Melody is my editor. She’s thirty-seven—three years older than I am. Her face is narrow and pretty, her hair red and wavy. She likes hoop earrings and has long feet.

She shuffles through the printout in her hands. “You sent me eight stories this week but promised me nine.”

“I’m still working on the last one. Did you know that a space creature has replaced the Red Sox mascot and has put a hex on the top of the batting order?”

“They’re already hexed,” Melody says. She eyes me for a long moment, then screws up her mouth. “I’m concerned.”

Here it comes again. “About my articles? About my bare toes? Or my collection of metal toys?” I reach across my desk, pick up the Spirit of St. Louis and fly it back and forth overhead.

Melody puts her hands on her hips and rolls her eyes. “Yes, all those things, Jeffrey, but in this instance, what I meant was I hate to see you wasting your talent writing this garbage. You’re the best writer I’ve ever edited. You deserved that Pulitzer.”

“Which they took back twenty-seven days later.”

“Most journalists would kill to have one for even twenty-seven days.”

Melody said that with a smile. She says most everything with a smile. It’s a pretty smile, but sometimes forced, as if she were trying to make herself happier than she feels. She’s the opposite of Sherwood, who wallows in gloom and wants to pull everyone down with him.

I say, “You always see the best in every situation.”


“It drives me batshit.”

Melody raps her knuckles on my desk. “I need the copy by two o’clock.” She raps her knuckles on the top of my head. “At the latest.”

I watch her go. I shouldn’t tease her the way I do. Melody’s not the hard-ass editor she pretends to be. She’s in fact a softy, smart and thoughtful. Also curvy.

Hiram says, “That young lady has a fine carriage.”

“I hadn’t noticed,” I say and pick up my typing where I left off:

Space lizards have the ability to slow down fast balls, strip the spin from curves and send knuckleballs off in…

Hiram says, “‘slow down fast balls’ is flabby and clumsy because ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ interfere with each other.”

“Un huh.” I keep on typing.

“Clementine’s coming to visit.”


“She’s worried about Ebenezer.”

I look up from my keyboard. “What is it this time?”

“He’s missing.”

“Grandpa Ebenezer is always missing,” I say.

“Clementine thinks he’s in trouble.”

I delete ‘slow down fast balls’ and type ‘retard fast balls. “How can Ebenezer be in trouble? He’s dead.”

“I don’t like that word—and now you’re the one in trouble.”

I look up to see Uncle Sid coming toward me. Two burly guys walk with him, one on each side, clutching his arms.

My uncle looks scared. I hate to see that. I love the guy.

“Jeff,” he says with a quiver, “these two gentlemen want a word with you.”

I’ve watched enough local news to recognize the Ramsey twins—Hank and Freddie. Not gentlemen. Mobsters.

I get to my feet, pull Sid free from the pair’s grasp and wrap my arm around his shoulders. They’re trembling. “What in hell do you two want?

Hank steps closer and blows his cigar breath in my face. He has big ears and black hair combed straight back. At six feet three, he stands eye-to-eye with me, but he’s half again as wide. He says, “Did you write that idiotic story?”

“Which idiotic story? I write lots of idiotic stories.”

Freddie says, “Asshole!” and steps forward.

Hank reaches out to hold him back. “Easy.”

Although the two were born identical, no one has trouble telling them apart because Freddie had the front half of his nose lobbed off in a knife fight. This gives him a piggy look.

Hank says, “You know what I’m talking about, wiseass. Who told you about that government prison for space monsters?”

“Who? No one. I made it up.”

“You made it up?”

“I make up everything I write.”

Hank tilts his head back and half closes his eyes. “You made the story up?”

“Isn’t that what I just said?”

Hank pokes me in the chest. “Then how come it’s true?”


Excerpt from The Journalist by David Gardener.  Copyright 2021 by David Gardener. Reproduced with permission from David Gardener. All rights reserved.



David Gardner grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, served in Army Special Forces and earned a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught college and worked as a reporter and in the computer industry.

He coauthored three programming books for Prentice Hall, wrote dozens of travel articles as well as too many mind-numbing computer manuals before happily turning to fiction: The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller and The Last Speaker of Skalwegian (both with Encircle Publications).

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy, also a writer. He hikes, bikes, messes with astrophotography and plays the keyboard with no discernible talent whatsoever.

Due out September 8, 2021: The Last Speaker of Skalwegian, Encircle Publications.

Connect with David:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Book trailer

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Target

Sunday, August 1, 2021





Second place, no matter how talented, is never celebrated, even though there is only one other individual or team that’s better. In fact, if every single person in the world were to be ranked against one another, there still could only be one number one. So, here’s the question: Is winning really all that it is cracked up to be? Absolutely, it is. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be writing this book. The win God has in store for you though is quite different.

Book Details

Title: The 10 Win Commandments
Author: Derrick Gray

Genre: Christian self-help

Publisher: Tymm Publishing
, (June 15, 2021)
Print length: 147 pages


A few of your favorite things: creating, entrepreneurship, golf.
Things you need to throw out: procrastination.

Things you need in order to write: clean atmosphere, alignment with God.
Things that hamper your writing: noisy environments, outside life frustrations.

Things you love about writing: the ability to create a world with a pen.
Things you hate about writing: when the script of that world constantly needs to be rewritten.

Easiest thing about being a writer: ideas.

Hardest thing about being a writer: execution.

Things you love about where you live: it’s drama free for the most part (used to live in Baltimore).
Things that make you want to move: I could use less cold weather in my life.

Things you never want to run out of: faith.
Things you wish you’d never bought: there’s a long list of failed business ideas.

Words that describe you: gentleman, kind, giver.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: sometimes unorganized.

Favorite foods: yard bird.
Things that make you want to throw up: ham.

Favorite music or song: gospel, CCM, old school hip-hop, contemporary jazz.
Music that makes your ears bleed: death metal, mumble rap.

Favorite smell: lemongrass.

Something that makes you hold your nose: old garbage.

Something you’re really good at: creating ideas.

Something you’re really bad at: administrative/paperwork.

Something you wish you could do: help young brothers realize their power.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: lie.

Something you like to do: make movies full time.

Something you wish you’d never done: waited so long to believe in myself.

Things you’d walk a mile for: good health.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: negative energy.

Things to say to an author: love your writing, big fan.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: reading your book puts me to sleep at night.

Favorite places you’ve been: San Juan.

Places you never want to go to again: rowdy clubs.

Favorite things to do: exercise, golf, be creative.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: paperwork.

Things that make you happy: a peaceful home.

Things that drive you crazy: people who don’t keep their word.

Proudest moment: marrying my wife, birth of my children.

Most embarrassing moment: flipped over on a bike in front of a childhood crush when I was a kid.

Best thing you’ve ever done: accepted Christ.
Biggest mistake: not living my best in front of others.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: public speaking.

Something you chickened out from doing: public speaking.


In the realm of bestselling books like A Purpose Driven Life, The Motivation Manifesto, Author Derrick Gray has written this debut masterwork that touches the soul with relatable guidance and motivating prose. The author guides us through worldly experiences as a quintessential mentor of life. Students, administrators, CEOs, business visionaries, and others will find his advice for success nothing less than masterful.

This book profoundly dives into guidance that enables you to go through life at the level in which God intended. The execution of these words of wisdom lays out how victory is achievable for anyone. It’s all about self-appraisal, self-reflection, God’s direction, and personal growth. Everyone has a designed path and achievement is within anyone’s grasp. All it takes is the correct compass and no book maps it out better than Derrick Gray’s 10 Win Commandments.

Connect with Derrick:
Website  |  Facebook

Buy the book: