A Pat on the Back Tore my Heart Out

My soon-to-be 23-year-old son decided not to come home for the summer when he finished school. After all, it was his final year of university, and he wanted to be on his own. I totally understood, I had felt the same way many years ago. And when the pandemic hit, he already had a job interview and still planned on living in the city. I was, and still am, proud of his decision. Even our daughter, 4 ½ years older and still living at home, decided to move in with her boyfriend and his family. So, in the middle of March, not only did my husband and I find ourselves in the middle of this pandemic, we also became empty nesters. We see our daughter weekly as she doesn’t live too far away, but not so often with our son.

In early April, we made the hour-and-a-half drive to our son’s Ottawa home to drop off a car. We did not want him taking public transportation. We didn’t see him again until about two-weeks ago, when he and his “bubble” of three friends rented a cabin at a campground down the road from us. He and his friends visited every day over the 2 ½ days they were here. It was nice, but weird. We only visited outside, and maintained physical distancing.

This past Sunday, our son came home again for a couple of days to celebrate his birthday a week early as he was off from work, but this time he was on his own. He stayed in a trailer we borrowed and set up in our yard. He went in the house twice to use the bathroom (there’s a chemical toilet in the trailer). Both times I sanitized before and after and the windows were open. We sat outside and talked, we ate meals outside, he and my husband went fishing on our pontoon boat (my husband at the back driving and our son at the front lots of space in-between), we stayed away from each other.

Before he left tonight, I asked him if it was okay if I patted him on the back.  The last time we’d hugged was in February. I told him to hold his breath, and I would do the same. The second I touched him; my heart broke and tears sprang to my eyes.

The next time I see my daughter, I will do the same with her, knowing that when I do, my heart will tear again.

Author Interview with Helen Goltz

My guest this week is Author Helen Goltz. Helen is an accomplished writer having published 12 novels in varying genres.

Read our interview below to learn more about Helen and her writing.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

SJJ: Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

HG:The Secret Garden’ – I loved it. I couldn’t put it down and since then I’ve read so many wonderful books that have stayed with me like ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’.

SJJ: What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

HG: I love that it is a creative release and a chance to escape. I write every day as I find it a treat. I think everyone has a passion and it is healthy to make time for it whether you are a writer, artist, athlete or wanderer. The thing I like least about writing is the editing process, so laborious.

SJJ: I am with you 100% on your least favourite thing.

If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

HG:‘Pride and Prejudice’, as long as you were in the wealthy set. Wouldn’t that be fun to don a gown and see Mr Darcy in person?

SJJ: When you create characters are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

HG: I always create a storyboard using actors or people I know to represent each character. It helps me keep them in character and to envision them as real. I list all their details and relationships. I’ve been known to take name inspiration from headstones while jogging or visiting a cemetery!

SJJ: How do you come up with titles for your books?

HG: I usually have a title before I start writing and I find it hard to write without one. But there were several novels that I changed the title after finishing them. It just felt right.

SJJ: What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

HG: I’m working on a contemporary romance book under a pen name that I use. It is so much fun writing this genre, but I can’t help myself, I always have to put crime in there somewhere! I’m also working on a nomad road trip fiction book in the mystery genre. Both very different.

SJJ: Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

HG: I won a place for one of my books in a program called Adaptable, where they look at adapting a book for the screen or TV. I’ve also won a writing grant and short story awards.

A Little More Personal

SJJ: Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

HG: I won’t indulge in writers’ block. If I’m not feeling the flow, I write something else completely different, even a different scene that I had planned for the book, and I’ll drop it in the appropriate part of the book later when I get that far, if that makes sense? I’ve often got several books on the go so that helps.

SJJ: Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

HG: Haworth in the UK, the home of the Bronte family. It is a long way from Australia but I’ve gone there three times now and walked the moors to Top Withens. I love it.

SJJ: Can you tell us three interesting facts about you?

HG: I jog and do weights six days a week and have done so for decades; I’m a good cook, but I hate cooking and tend to just steam vegetables every night; I’m an introvert and one social outing a week is plenty for me!


Helen Goltz is a journalist and producer with a 30-year history of working for newspapers, magazines, in marketing, and producing television and radio programs for clients including News Ltd, the Seven Network and Macquarie Media. She is the author of 12 books, and seven non-fiction titles co-written with Chris Adams. Helen is published by Next Chapter, Atlas Productions and Clan Destine Press. Helen is postgraduate degree qualified with majors in Literature and Communications.

Helen’s Links:




Author Interview with Les Haswell

My interview guest this week is Author Les Haswell. I hope you enjoy learning about Les as an author and a little of his personal side. Next month, one of Les’ characters from his debut novel, The Prodigal Son, will join my on Beyond the Story Character Interviews.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

SJJ: Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

LH: That would be Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, which I read as a young schoolboy. For years after I wanted to be Alan Breck.

SJJ: When did you first realize you wanted to write?

LH: About 20 years ago I got this urge to write a novel.

SJJ: Who are your favourite authors?

LH: Quintin Jardine, Lee Child, David Baldacci & Simon Kernick are certainly up there

SJJ: What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

LH: Favourite – The sense of satisfaction when I see the finished article. Least favourite – I hate other people proof reading and pointing out all my mistakes

SJJ: Where do your ideas come from?

LH: I have a vivid imagination. I can’t remember the last time I punched anyone and have never killed anyone, honestly officer!!

SJJ: I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

LH: I enjoy painting and cookery, both in their own way creative

SJJ: If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

LH: The Prodigal Son. I love the west coast of Scotland and I would love to see Bruce MacLaine get his comeuppance!

SJJ: When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

LH: Completely fictional, almost!

SJJ: Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

LH: Not yet but give me time

SJJ: How do you come up with titles for your books?

LH: I try to reflect some aspect of the plot. The Prodigal Son – the main character goes back to the island of his childhood. Book 2 – The Good Samaritan – the main character does someone a favour, both have slightly biblical connotations.

SJJ: What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

LH: The Good Samaritan, Rob MacLaine Book 2 and a third, almost stand-alone story, Playa Ricos, based in the Almeria region of Spain.

SJJ: Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

LH: Not yet

A Little More Personal

SJJ: What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

LH: I would like to spend a few weeks driving from the north of Spain to the south, avoiding motorways where possible, bit of a “Thelma & Les”

SJJ: Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

LH: I once told a builder that I was fine with drilling a hole in a bathroom wall tile, started to drill and broke the rather large, very expensive tile as my wife watched me – oops.

SJJ: Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

LH: I had a car at one stage which would just die electrically for no apparent reason. It would sit there for about five minutes then come back to life. I suppose that was as much embarrassing as weird as it very often happened at traffic lights.

SJJ: Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

LH: Not at all superstitious, although I won’t walk under ladders out of respect for gravity

SJJ: What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

LH: Suckling pig brain in a restaurant in Madrid.

SJJ: Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

LH: Caribbean. Did a cruise there and loved the laid back, off the wall attitude of the places we visited

SJJ: Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

LH: On holiday, with my parents in Highland Perthshire, boating on Loch Fascally, pony trekking in the hills above Pitlochry and walking up to the Falls of Bruar.

SJJ: What makes you happy?

LH: Good company

SJJ: If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

LH: Working (part time), golfing (badly)

SJJ: Can you tell us three interesting facts about you?

LH: I was adopted as a baby, my birth mother being a single parent. – I am a past President of Winchester Rotary and helped to raise £40,000 to help build a new Hospice in Winchester – I love fast cars.

Author’s Bio

I was born in Glasgow, but spent the first three years of my life in London, before moving back to Ayrshire where I stayed for about thirty years before commencing a world tour of Scotland, living in a number different locations. Over the years I have accumulated four children, nine grandchildren and most recently a great-grandson.

I served an engineering apprenticeship in the aviation industry and at various stages of my working life, I owned a private hire/bridal car business and later, a fifty cover licensed restaurant. However, I spent most of my working life in business development roles, mostly in the Oil & Gas industry. I was lucky enough to travel regularly to very diverse countries including the Middle and Far East, Africa, North and Latin America. Eight years ago, I moved from Aberdeen to Kings Worthy with my wife Val.

I have always enjoyed creative activities. I enjoyed art at school and have been allowed to hang some of my more recent paintings around the house. For as long as I can remember, I have had a yearning to write a novel. Travelling around as I did when I was working full time, I spent hours in airport lounges and hotel rooms where the only television programs were in Portuguese or Arabic, so I started to write “The Prodigal Son.” The rest, as they say, is history!

Author’s Links



Beyond the Story – Broken Steel

Broken Steel by Stuart Field

After ten years in prison for his wife’s murder, Brian Armstrong is free.

When a freak accident with the prison transport gives him and two others an opportunity to escape, they seize it. With revenge in his heart, Brian disappears into the storm-filled city. After an ex-schoolteacher is found dead, Detective John Steel is brought in to investigate.

The circumstances are mysterious – just the way Steel likes it. His partner Samantha McCall is convinced the timing between the escape and the death of the teacher are more than coincidence. As they start to investigate, the case becomes more complex than they could have ever imagined. With time running out, can they find the killer and bring him to justice?


Hello, and welcome to Beyond the Story Character Interviews. Today I have two special guests from the novel Broken Steel by Stuart Field. Let’s get to know our guests, shall we?

SJJ: Can you please tell us your full names and where you live?

JS: Hi, My Name is John Steel, I’m originally from the UK, but due to my involvement with the NYPD, I live in an apartment in Manhatten.

SM: You mean a penthouse on Park Avenue and involvement? What friggin involvement. You spend most of you’re time disappearin into shadows and makin my life friggin a misery. Sorry. I’m Detective Samantha McCall, and I have a shoebox Near the Village New York City.

JS: A shoebox – it’s a loft, you live in a beautiful old building.

SM: You, like so much Mr Steel, how about we swap?

SJJ: Ahem, OK, so moving on to my next question. So, this question is for you John. How would you describe your personality?

JS: I would say I was…

SM: I can’t wait to hear this.

JS: I would say, uhm, very…

SM: Here Steel, let me help, you a mysterious motha, the man has more personalities, sometimes happy sometimes sad, always angry. Sometimes he just blanks out so much you think the guy is made from stone. That’s usually the time to leave him alone. But I would say friggin annoying.

JS: Well, I would have gone more down the road of I don’t like showing my feelings much, but I guess what you said would work… apart from the annoying. You love me, really.

SJJ: Am I wrong or do I sense a little tension here? Never mind. Next question has two parts and is for both of you. What do you do for a living? And what is your dream job?

SM: I’m a homicide detective at the 11th precinct in the best city in the world and my dream job? I’m already doin it. Although Captain would be cool, I could get rid of this jackass then. (she laughs)

JS: I’m attached to the NYPD from Scotland Yard, it was meant to be a one-time thing, but things had escalated since then.

SM: Escalated? Seriously, you’ve blown up a cargo ship and a cruise liner – and don’t forget my car.

JS: Anyway… dream job? To be honest, I’m not sure.

SM: How about… playboy billionaire, Lord of the Manor?

JS: JS says nothing. Just smiles weirdly and shrugs.

SJJ: You know, I was going to ask, John, how you managed to blow up Samantha’s car, but I think I’ll just stick to the script.

So, What are the biggest obstacles that are preventing your from achieving your goals? Samantha, you first.

SM: Wow, uhm…him really. (she points towards JS and winks). But seriously, I overcome most of my obstacles, so they aint much of a problem. If I set my mind to something, I do it.

JS: I think obstacles are there to better us, make us think harder, so we achieve our final goal. Adapt, overcome, conquer.

SM: Yeah, he mostly kills them or blows stuff up, he’s good at that – like my car, for instance.

JS: I’ll buy you a soddin new one, don’t worry about it.

SJJ: Maybe I should ask about the car. (Smiles) Ahem, okay, moving on. Tell us something about you that not everyone knows.

SM: I hate him… Oh, wait, sorry, everyone knows that.

??: Not true, she’s totally in love with his fine British ass (a woman’s voice can be heard from the breakroom)

SJJ: Who was that?

SM: Oh, that, nobody… A dead woman. (she blushes and makes hand gestures not suitable to describe in this interview)

JS: After my family was murdered several years ago, I went into solitude in Alaska, hoping to hide away from the world.

SM: (says nothing at first, just looks at him with sad eyes.) Uhm… wow. I didn’t… I mean…

JS: It’s okay. And you were about to say… apart from the hate thing?

SM: What… oh, yeah, McCall is my mother’s name, my father forced me to take it so I wouldn’t be in his shadow when I joined the force.

SJJ: I’m so sorry, John, I had no idea. So tragic. I think I can guess what your answer will be, John, to my next question.

Are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

JS: I’d say the mu… death of my family. It gave me…perspective, a purpose.

SM: Possibly the murder of my dad. He was killed on duty. It made me angry for a long time that the person responsible was never found. It…I don’t know like Steel said…gave me perspective, a purpose. I guess we hear the dead speak and we help them to find justice. Peace.

SJJ: Oh, Samantha. I am so sorry. Do either of you have any regrets?

JS: Yes, not being there for my family when they needed me. But some might say if I had been there sooner, I’d be dead too. But, in a way…I did die that day. A piece of me did anyway. What piece? Oh, …my soul. A friend said I had been reborn, didn’t feel like it, but hey, a second chance, I guess.

(An awkward silence)

SM: Yeah, thanks for that, Mr happy. Regrets, I would say…. working with this guy would be top of my list…yeah. Pretty much that.

??: Stop lyin girl, you want that British ass. (the strange woman from the breakroom again)

SJJ: Sorry, who is that?

SM: That was…Doctor Tina Franks, our Medical examiner… my EX-best friend.

SJJ: (Scribbling on her notepad to speak to the ME later.) Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

SM: My dad. He was great. He’d come home, and we’d sit on the porch and drink beer, talk about cop stuff.

SJJ: When you were in the academy or the force?

SM: Nah, I think I was about…ten, twelve. He used to teach me stuff. How to shoot, take someone down…. huh, come to think about it, I never got bullied at school. I guess right now, my Captain, Captain Alan Brant.

JS: I always looked up to my dad for a long time, but when he died an old friend took me in, showed me the way if you like. In the army – the British army, that is. I had an instructor, a sergeant. He took a shine to me, probably because I didn’t take any crap off anyone, found out later he’d had a chat with some friends of his and got me …shall we call it an interview.

SJJ: When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

SM: Probably, my graduation from the academy. My dad’s face was… wow. He was so proud of me. But also, when I made detective, I remember going to my father’s grave to tell him. I always do that, share a moment with him. We have a couple of beers on his birthday. Well, I do, I just pour his on the headstone.

JS: Probably seeing my dad’s face when I got married, and again when we told him… he was going to be a grandfather.

(An awkward silence followed by muffled sobbing.)

SJJ: Samantha, John, what’s your idea of the perfect day?

SM: When he isn’t around. But then… no, scrub that if he’s nowhere near, he could be getting up to all sorts of crap. Uhm, perfect day. The weekend at my mom’s in Boston. Yeah, that’s just great. We do barbecues or bake pies, or just sit and chat. It’s great.

JS: Catching one of the arseholes who work for the organisation who killed my family and making him tell me where his boss is.

SM: Uhm, don’t laugh… he’s actually serious. I don’t know, he probably misses fish and chips or something, or scones.

JS: You know, I do miss a decent chippy. But then there’s this sports bar near times square. Excellent bloody fish and chips.

SJJ: (coughs politely)

JS: Sorry.

SJJ: What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?

SM: Strength….

JS: Your tenacity, it’s one of the reasons I found you compelling as a partner. You just see something, and you won’t stop.

SM: …Uhm, wow, thanks Steel, that’s very sweet of you.

TF: I told you, girl, gets some of that.

SM: Can we… gag her or something?

SJJ:(Scribbles again most definitely speaking to ME. Bring wine.)

SM: Yeah, strengths… I guess Steel is right I am kind of bullhead like that. It’s probably my weakness as well. Sometimes you just need to let something go, even if you don’t want too.

JS: I do like my coffee and a good vodka martini with two shots of gin. That’s my weakness. Also, my colleagues, I prefer to work alone because you have nobody to look out for. Anyone who can be used against you. I think overly protective is one of mine. But everyone here hates me, so there is no problem there.

(John laughs and is smacked by Samantha on the shoulder.)

SJJ: OK, so let’s lighten things up here. What do you do for fun?

SM: Firing range, old movies, hanging out with my ex-friend Tina.

JS: Shooting range, assault course, tracking down bad guys….

SM: Oh, Steel, don’t forget Gala diners, pretty women. Jet-setting around the world. Pretty women.

JS: (oddly silent)

SJJ: Well this should be interesting. Since you both like shooting for fun, what do you do to relax?

SM: I watch old movies with a glass of red, laze about in my pyjamas.

JS: Same as the last question really, I don’t really relax much. I like to sit in cafes and watch the world go by or go for a run.

SM: You don’t say… I’m shocked. You relax. Man, you are wound tighter than a…. wound thing. The café thing and the jogging that is called surveillance, not relaxing.

JS: It relaxes me.

TF: I know what will relax him…. (sound of a door slamming quickly).

SJJ: I guess your friend won’t be bothering us anymore. Ah, so what are your plans for the future?

SM: Make Captain. That’s it so far.

JS: Capture the people responsible for my family’s murder and rip out their livers. Probably get that fish and chips from the sports bar later. But then their shepherd’s pie is also brilliant. Could get both, I guess?

SJJ: So, here’s a fun question. If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

JS: Wow. Hum, not sure.

TF: Henry Cavill, he’s also a fine piece of British… (door slams again)

SJJ: I guess we didn’t hear the last of her.

SM: Uhm… I don’t know. Hadn’t really thought about it. I kinda like Lyndsy Fonseca, she’s kinda badass.

SJJ: And my final question: are you happy with the way your story was told?

SM: Yeah, the third person works really well with this.

JS: What.. I’m sorry. Just had a call from the mayor, got to attend some damned benefit tonight.

SM: Seriously, no causing any problems tonight, no jumping off roofs or car chases, or burning buildings, nothing. Asshole… oops, sorry. Were we done? Will that get edited out?

SJJ: Well, I would like to thank both of you for being here today. This has been a rather, uhm, interesting interview. Thank you!


Stuart Field was born in Wellington. He joined the Royal Horse Artillery at the age of seventeen in 1988 and went on to serve in Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Gulf. Stuart retired from the army in 2010 and took a security job in Germany, where he still lives and works. Stuart decided to try his hand at writing.

Despite his time in the army, Stuart says that there are “absolutely no similarities” between his life and the life of his main character, John Steel.

The knowledge and experience gained through a long military career do go towards the credibility of the novels, though.

He has published several other John Steel books;

Steel and Shadows

Hidden Steel

Broken Steel

And due out in August is; Blood and Steel.

Stuart’s Links



Book Review – Magnolia Tree by June V. Bourgo

Magnolia Tree by June V. Bourgo

Magnolia Tree by June V. Bourgo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sidney Grey has returned to the farmhouse where she was raised by her grandparents. She has great plans for the old place which includes major renovations as she intends to create a yoga retreat. The house holds a lot of memories for Sidney, but there are also many secrets surrounding her childhood home.

I very much enjoyed this first book of the Crossing Trilogy by June V. Bourgo. One of my favourite parts were reading the excerpts of the journals discovered during the renovations. They belonged to Sidney’s mother who disappeared from Sidney’s life when she was a baby.

The story has many unexpected twists, and it held my attention. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

View all my reviews

New Release by Author Mari Collier

Author Mari Collier joins me this week to discuss her newest release, Thalia – The New Generation. This is the seventh novel in the Chronicles of the Maca.

SJJ: What genre does this book fall under?

MC: Science fiction

SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in or are you trying something new?

MC: All my novels are science fiction.

SJJ: Who is your target audience?

MC: Anyone that likes science fiction.

SJJ: When do you expect the release of your newest book?

MC: The Kindle edition is scheduled for May 15, 2020 and the paperback a few days later.

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

MC: As thievery and deceit befall the continent, a new generation of Maca leaders will rise. Daniel, the new Maca of Ishner on Thalia, struggles to right the wrongs imposed on his people for nearly two hundred years. Determined to uncover the depths of the Sisterhood’s treachery, Daniel and the other young Maca of Thalia face danger, as new threats lead to a battle to save their land and people. With tensions mounting in the struggle for wealth and power, can they fend off the attack, or fall to the Sisterhood’s acts of vengeance?

SJJ: Where does the story take place?

MC: It may not be clear in the above. They are on the planet Thalia.

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

MC: Daniel and Marissa felt their tales needed to be told.

SJJ: What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

MC: I read up on the advances on humanoid robots (applied that to the Thalian type robot) and the advances in AI. The latter can be quite frightening when you think of the impact on our society.

SJJ: Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

MC: Not once I was about halfway through. The fight scenes and warring scenes had played in my mind so many times that I had no problem.

SJJ: How did you come up with the title? Did you have any other working titles?

MC: Probably the old Star Trek series nudged me towards this one. It is the next generation.

SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?

MC: I have no idea. It is the cover artist/designer for Next Chapter, Pub.

SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it if you can.

MC: When Logan, Lad of Don, tries to save his love, Marissa, Maca of Medicine.

SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

MC: Family and loyalty seem to be themes in my books.

SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?

MC: About nine months to write. I probably spent three months doing the editing and rewriting.

SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?

MC: Daniel, Maca of Ishner is the favorite in this novel. Least favorite would have to be Ilarmina. She has all duped until she leads the army of the Sisters against Medicine.

SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main

character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?

MC: I have no idea who could play Daniel as he stands nearly six foot ten inches and has the massive muscular build of a Thalian. Meryl Streep would be perfect for Ilarmina.

SJJ: Is this book a stand alone or part of a series?

MC: This belongs to the Chronicles of the Maca: Earthbound, Gather The Children, Before We Leave, Return of the Maca, Thalia and Earth, and Fall and Rise of the Macas.

SJJ: Where can your new book be purchased when it’s released?

MC: The Kindle and any digital version at Amazon. When the paperback is released, it will be Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Mari Collier was born on a farm in Iowa on a mattress her parents had made. It was covered with an oil cloth. The farm where she grew up had no electricity or inside bathroom. She has lived in Arizona, Washington, and Southern California. She and her husband, Lanny, met in high school and were married for forty-five years.

She has served on the Board of Directors for the Twentynine Palms Historical Society, and still serves as a Docent. She has worked as a loan collector, bookkeeper, receptionist, and Advanced Super Agent for Nintendo of America.

Her short stories have appeared in print and electronically, plus there are four anthologies. Twisted Tales From The Desert, Twisted Tales From The Northwest, Twisted Tales From The Universe, and Twisted Tales From A Skewed Mind. Earthbound is the first of the Chronicles of the Maca series which is soon to be seven with the release of Thalia-The New Generation in May. Man, True Man is the first of the three Tonath Chronicles. She is working on another anthology and a novel temporarily called Thalia At War. All of the anthologies have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. The first five of the Maca Chronicles have been translated into Italian and Spanish. The first three into Portuguese. Earthbound, Before We Leave, and Twisted Tales From The Northwest are also Audible books. Gather The Children and Man, True Man are scheduled to be released in audio form before the end of March.

Mari’s Links

Website: http://www.maricollier.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Twisted-Tales-From-A-Skewed-Mind-124947397618599/

Twitter: @child7mari

Thalia – The New Generation https://www.amazon.com/Thalia-Generation-Chronicles-Maca-Book-ebook/dp/B084WQ9MYB

New Release by Author Cynthia A. Morgan

Author Cynthia A. Morgan joins me this week to discuss her newest release, Misericode.

SJJ: What genre(s) does this book fall under?

CAM: While Dark Fey was very much a Young Adult Fantasy, The Mercy Series is more of a Dark Dystopian Fantasy with elements of both Romance and Horror. It has taken a slightly

darker turn than Dark Fey, landing somewhere between a PG-13 and an R-rating. I veered away from the poetic writing style I used in Dark Fey, making this series more conversational in its tone with darker, moderately graphic content. It tells the story of a harsh new reality that exists on Earth with characters that are equally harsh.

SJJ: Who is your target audience?

CAM: Definitely an Adult audience.

SJJ: When was your newest book released?

CAM: Book One, Misericorde, is available now. Here is the official MyBook link: http://mybook.to/misericorde

Book Two, Clandestin, will actually follow very closely, as it is already completed, releasing by early June 2020!

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

CAM: It is the year 2446. The first three Horsemen of Revelation’s Apocalypse have ridden. The first Horsemen, Pestilence, War and Famine, have shifted world-wide cultures and governments from technologically advanced civilizations to dictatorships that are ruled with an iron-fist. Social structures have returned to what they were during the Middle Ages and commoners have very few rights. Liberty is a distant memory.

Before the final Horseman, Death, is released to ride, the Archangel of Mercy makes a bold plea. Tzadkiel cannot believe that mankind has forgotten what it means to be merciful. He asks to be allowed to search for even just one human who remembers. 100 years are granted, but at the end of that time the Archangel will be required to release the final Horseman. Releasing Death will conflict with everything the Archangel represents and be the hardest thing he has ever done, but he must agree. The Horseman must ride.

Tzadkiel takes human form and comes to earth. He finds that humanity is ruled by greed, hatred and fear. Compassion and kindness are considered a detriment, but he does not give up hope. After 96 years his long search leads him to New France where he encounters Levesque, a cynical military captain who hates the world he lives in. He blames God and any who serve Him for the calamities the world has suffered. When Levesque learns who Tzadkiel is, he takes revenge by imprisoning him and subjecting him to torture that would kill a human.

Tzadkiel, however, is not fully human. His life-force comes from the energy of the sun and can regenerate his body in hours. It is not entirely a blessing. After suffering Levesque’s torture for nearly a year, a young servant named Lourdes finds him. Through an act of selfless mercy, she reveals her true nature and Tzadkiel knows she is the one he seeks, but somehow, they must escape Levesque and the ruthless dictatorship he serves.

Time is running out. He has waited nearly 100 years, but the Horseman Death is growing impatient. He wants to ride. Tzadkiel has located the priceless treasure he sacrificed so much to find, but now he must find some way of protecting her from the calamity the Final Horseman has unleashed.

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

CAM: I began this tale with the intent of writing a multi-dimensional story. I hoped to share the story through the perspectives of several characters, rather than just one, and to provide the backstory not so much through expository prefaces or chapters, but as the plot progressed. I sought to challenge myself to create something dark that could still be tender and emotive, with which readers could connect on many levels.

SJJ: Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

CAM: The scenes that contain violence were particularly difficult. I strove to make The Mercy Series a rating equivalent to TV-MA. I wrote the scenes containing violence to be as disturbing as possible without actually going into graphic detail, but never having written those types of scenes before, it was difficult. Perhaps, if I found them disturbing, the readers will as well.

SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it if you can.

CAM: I truly enjoyed writing the scene where Tzadkiel first discovers that his feelings for Lourdes are romantic in nature. Being an Archangel, he has no experience with the physical responses of his body or the emotions she generates in him, and it was particularly stirring to write the scene when he first realizes why he’s feeling the way he is. In the scene, Lourdes asks him to sleep next to her. She’s afraid and longs for the safety of his presence. He agrees, but immediately discovers it is a far more complex matter than he expected. It’s a beautiful, sweetly romantic scene.

SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

CAM: The story speaks about the courage to be kind in the face of cruelty. To be compassionate without motive. To show thankfulness through kindness and appreciate blessings through generosity.

SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?

CAM: Tzadkiel and Lourdes are truly creations of my imagination. I would have a hard time selecting any actor to portray them, however, when I created Levesque (the cynical military captain who imprisons Tzadkiel) I immediately thought of Geoffrey Rush.


Cynthia A. Morgan is an award-winning author; free-lance columnist, and a member of the Poetry Society of America and Artists for Peace. Creator of the mythical realm of Jyndari and author of the epic fantasy Dark Fey Trilogy, Morgan’s powerful story relates how the power of hope, acceptance and forgiveness can change the world, when positive action is taken to create change. The only way to achieve peace is to become peace.

Morgan is also the author of the popular blog Booknvolume where over 18K followers can explore Morgan’s own brand of poetry, English Sonnets, musings about life, personal recipes, photography, book reviews and more.

Upcoming projects include a fictional drama in Regency Period England, a non-fiction exploration of the supernatural/paranormal and beliefs around the world, and a return to the realms of Dark Fey in a prequel/sequel.

Some of her other interests includes a deep love for animals and the environment. She is passionate about music and theatre, is frequently heard laughing and finds the mysteries of ancient times, spirituality, and the possibilities of life elsewhere in the cosmos intriguing. Morgan believes in the power of love, hope and forgiveness, all of which is reflected in her lyrically elegant writing style.

You can find Morgan through social media in the following places:

The Dark Fey Trilogy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074CFD9CG

Blog / website: www.booknvolume.com

All Things Dark Fey Website: https://allthingsdarkfey.wixsite.com/feyandmusings

Amazon Author Page: Author.to/CAMorganAuthor

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/MorganBC728

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/booknvolume

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/creativiapub/author-board-cynthia-a-morgan/

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14174277.Cynthia_A_Morgan

Publisher’s Author Page : https://www.creativia.org/cynthia-morgan-fantasy-author.html

Beyond the Story – The Stones of Earth and Air

After the Crown Prince of Ponderia starts behaving strangely, his best friend Pettic discovers that the prince has been replaced by a doppelganger, and the real prince kidnapped.

Unable to accept the loss of his friend, Prince Torren, nor the cruel impostor to become the new king, Pettic sets on a quest to rescue his friend. After he sees the fake prince meet a mysterious man, Pettic discovers that the prince has been imprisoned in another plane of existence.

With the help of Blundo, the court magician, Pettic finds out that the only way to enter this another world are four keys, each of them associated with a different element. As Pettic sets on his seemingly impossible quest, he discovers that the four lands that hold the keys are all vastly different… and more dangerous than he could have ever imagined.

Today’s guest on Beyond the Story is from V.M. Sang’s novel, The Stones of Earth and Air.

SJJ: Welcome to Character Interviews. Can you please tell our readers your full name and where you live?

Pettic: My name is Pettic and I live in Glitton, the capital city of Ponderia.

SJJ: Tell us, Pettic, how would you describe your personality?

Pettic: Loyal, friendly and caring.

SJJ: And what do you do for a living? What is your dream job?

Pettic: I am the friend and companion of Crown Prince Torren.

SJJ: Well, I suppose being the friend and companion of a prince for a living would also fall into a dream job for a lot of people. I mean how hard could that kind of “work” be?

Are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

Pettic: The day I bumped into the prince in the palace. I had no idea who he was. I shared a birthday with the prince, see? The King had told Torren that he could choose a boy from those who shared a birthday with him to be his companion. My parents heard the decree and took me to the palace to try for the position. Then when I bumped into the prince we talked and got along so well that he chose me.

If not for that incident, I’d be milking cows and grubbing up potatoes.

SJJ: Definitely fortunate for you, then. I think I would choose friend of a prince over milking cows and grubbing up potatoes, too.

When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

Pettic: Getting the winged people on the world of Ariel to treat those without wings as human beings and not animals. In fact, they were treated worse than animals.

SJJ: This truly is a great accomplishment to bring people together despite their differences. The Earth could use someone like you.

Pettic, what is your idea of the perfect day?

Pettic: Riding in the countryside with Torren, or sitting talking with his sister, Princess Lucenra.

SJJ: What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?

Pettic: My strength is my loyalty and determination. I was determined to rescue Torren, no matter what it took. Some of the things I had to do in the various worlds I visited scared me, but I had to do them. I could not leave the kingdom to be inherited by the wicked doppleganger put in his place.

My weakness is fear. I was scared a lot of the time. I had no idea what was in store for me on the various worlds I visited. Suppose the world of Fire (Ignis) had been just that–a world made of fire? I would have burned to a crisp. Similarly, if Aqua, the world of water, had been only water? I would have drowned. Yes, I was scared.

SJJ: It sounds to me like you are braver than you think.

What do you do for fun?

Pettic: Ride, hunt, play card games, spar with Torren and practice archery.

SJJ: What do you do to relax?

Pettic: Go for long walks with my dog, Cledo.

SJJ: I too love long walks.

What are your plans for the future, Pettic?

Pettic: I hope to marry and have children. As I am now an earl, and have my own castle, I want to improve the farm output and make the castle more home-like

SJJ: You certainly have moved up in the world. I hope you realize your plans.

Are you happy with the way your story was told?

Pettic: Yes. I think it made me seem a better and braver person than I am, but I’m not going to complain about that.

SJJ: Thank you, Pettic, for joining me today on Beyond the Story Character Interviews.


I was born and lived my early life in Cheshire in the north west of England. I have always loved books and reading and learned to read before I went to school.

During my teenage years I wrote some poetry, one of which was published in the magazine of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). Unfortunately, that is the only one that is still around.

I became a teacher and taught English and Science at my first school. My main subject was science, though, but I also taught Maths and what was then known as Computer Studies.

I did little writing until starting to teach in Croydon, Greater London. Here I started a Dungeons and Dragons club in the school where I was teaching. I then decided write her own scenario.

The idea of turning it into a novel formed in my head, but I did little about it until I took early retirement. Then I began to write The Wolves of Vimar Series.

Walking has always been one of my favourite pastimes, having gone on walking holidays in my teens. I met my husband walking with the University Hiking Club, and we still enjoy walking on the South Downs. We bought a kayak and have done quite a lot of kayaking in Brittany along the river Vilaine and the Oust.

Quieter things that I enjoy are a variety of crafts, such as card making, tatting, crochet, knitting etc. I also draw and paint.

I am married with two children, a girl and a boy. My daughter has three children and I loves to spend time with them. I now lives in East Sussex with my husband.

V. M. Sangs Links

Website: http://aspholessaria.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/carthinal


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/v.m.sang/

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/viv-sang-37427598/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VM_Sang

Email: vivienne.sang@gmail.com

The Stones of Earth and Air has just been released as an audio book. There are some copies to be given away. If you would like the code for your copy, please email me telling me if you are in the UK or the US. They are different codes!

New Release by Author Kate Messick

Author Kate Messick joins me today to discuss her new release Rolling for Love.

SJJ: What genre(s) does this book fall under?

KM: Urban Fantasy, Romance

SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in or are you trying something new?

KM: Normal genre.

SJJ: Who is your target audience?

KM: Adults, nerds, and everyone who loves role playing games.

SJJ: When was Rolling for Love released?

KM: April 5, 2020

SJJ: Can you tell us a little about your new book.

KM: Wicked smart and stubborn, Sandy Yuhi lives life in a cloud of fantasy worlds and denial. She struggles to commit to the future and hold a job. Thankfully, her childhood friend, Amorino, always has work waiting for her when she needs it. Unfortunately for her, he is also her ex boyfriend who has a new secret that changes everything.

A stickler for rules and painfully blunt, Sandy’s personality has gotten her in trouble with every Dungeon and Dragons game in the Front Range. Her last chance to participate in the hobby she loves to hate lies in the hands of Joe, the new Dungeon Master in town. However, when Joe’s supernatural setting makes her confront her fears, Sandy’s faith in her real world choices shatters. Can the tentative friendships she finds help her end her destructive cycle with Amorino? Will the party’s Bard, Strider, win her heart? Or will Joe’s commanding presence fill her passions?

Full of action, supernatural creatures, magic, romance, and lust. Sandy’s parallel adventures through the supernatural underground and modern day will make you think, love, and cheer!

SJJ: Where does the story take place?

KM: The story is in two parts. Both are set in Colorado, the real world story pulls most of its setting from Boulder. The parallel supernatural story is in a made-up universe that echoes Estes Park and the general Colorado Front Range area.

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

KM: It started as a projected based on the feedback of my beta readers from my first book and it quickly took on a life of its own. I am an emotional writer and many of my characters begin as personalities I find in my own life. They always become their own people as the story goes on, quickly deviating into what I need them to be to fit the plot. The very beginning of this book was a wonderful reminder of my best friend from high school.

SJJ: What kind of research did you have to do?

KM: Fortunately, I was born and raised in Boulder so I didn’t need to do too much location research. Most of my time was spent digging into the rules of Dungeons & Dragons. You can find character sheets for the campaign’s alter egos on my website http://www.JustAPotato.com.

SJJ: Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

KM: Sandy, our protagonist, was very hard for me to write. We all write pieces of ourselves into our books and I wanted Sandy to be the opposite of me, at the end of my first draft she was too cold and inconsistent to be a main character. On the same hand, her journey was so meaningful to me that I over wrote. I ended up cutting out 50,000 words of the first draft and reworking her personality so many times I confused my own brain. Thankfully my amazing beta readers helped me pull through!

SJJ: How did you come up with the title? Did you have any other working titles?

KM: The original title was Lust and Fury, but this title was actually very fitting of Sandy’s original personality. With my edits I wanted to soften everything, so it became Rolling for Love.

SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?

KM: The cover was designed by the team at Next Chapter and I did have input. I felt bad because I really didn’t like the first draft of the cover. I literally sent them an entire pages of edits!! To which they responded, “we will do our best”. In the end, their best was fab. Almost every edit I requested was included in the final draft!

SJJ: What is one of your favourite lines or quotes from the book?

KM: This is not really a book of one liners, there are lots of fun discussions and quips back and forth. If I had to pick one, this bit sums up a lot of the moral concepts of the book.“When people change, it’s ok to still love the good memories. It’s healthy. But take care of yourself today, for the past, present, and future are three very different things.”

SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it if you can.

KM: I really enjoy writing drama, there is a scene where Sandy is at work and she is indirectly confronted about her romantic interactions with the Amorino, our antagonist. The room fills with tension only she can feel as her world falls apart. I love bringing out the details. The mud on her work boots, the quality of her clothing, the sound of another woman’s heals on the unique plastic floor of the construction pod. All these little details lead us down the rabbit hole of her emotions.

SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

KM: I would say my book is ninety percent entertainment. However, we do spent a lot of time exploring the nature of what it means to want something. To get over our fears and truly reach for something even if it might hurt us in the end.

SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?

KM: I write very fast. Once I have an idea, I tend get on a roll and bang it out “quickly” for a book. I probably got the initial 170,000 words typed out in three months or so. However, I then sat on it for a year, too unhappy with it to show it to anyone, but loving it too much to change it. After that it spent six months, at least, going through my amazing beta readers, being cut down in length and having characters tweaked to make them more understandable and relatable as details in the story changed.

SJJ: During editing, did you have to delete a scene you liked but because it didn’t move the book forward, it had to be removed? Can you describe that scene?

KM: I have so many deleted scenes it hurts my soul a little. But, they slowed down the book a lot and I needed to get the point. I am releasing my favorite cut chapters on my website http://www.JustAPotato.com, edited to make them short stories.

SJJ: What a great idea!

Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?

KM: Joe, Joe Smartin is my favorite. I love Joe. I love Joe so much that he is getting his own book. I hate to say this, but I never truly connected with Sandy. Her story, what she goes through is perfect for her personality, but even though I wrote her…I did accomplish my goal however to get out of my comfort zone and write a protagonist that doesn’t hold the same values I do. Diversity is the spice of life.

SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?

KM: I don’t really know my actors very well. Sorry!

SJJ: Is this book a stand alone or part of a series?

KM: This book is a standalone, but a few things are left a little feeling incomplete. I loved Joe so much that he is now getting his own book. Wizards and Wives Tales is going through beta reading as we speak! It’s also intended to be a standalone with just the one character crossover and a few cameo appearances.

SJJ: Where can your new book be purchased when it’s released? Or if already released please provide links to where your new book can be purchased.

KM: My book is available for pre-order on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Rolling-Love-Urban-Fantasy-Romance-ebook/dp/B084HDTP5R


Kate Messick was born 1985. She is married with three cats, and two degrees in classical music. She enjoys lifting weights, reading, playing music, playing games, and traveling.

From a young age Kate’s dad read all sorts of fantasy books aloud to his daughters. She found her insatiable hunger for dragons and stories only grow with the years. Kate is living an exciting life. Never afraid to reach for the stars, she founded the Symphonic Anime Orchestra and traveled with her music all over the US. She has worked in many fields; teacher, road construction, spinal technician, data miner, security escort, and more. She has published several music arrangements and a book: Woot! Elementary Methods for Clarinet in addition to her fantasy novels.

Kate loves life and the people she meets in it. She finds that all games, board games, and most especially role playing (like Dungeon & Dragons), bring out amazing aspects of people’s personalities that she loves to explore in her writing.

Kate now lives in North Yorkshire, England, where she word engineers, travels, and loves.

Kate’s links:




The Dungeon Master’s Wife – http://mybook.to/thedmw (my first book)

New Release from Author James J. Cudney

Author James J. Cudney joins me today to discuss his newest release, Frozen Stiff Drink. A prolific author (and reader), James has 8 published works and over 1000 book reviews on his blog.

With so many books out there and so little time, I can say that I have enjoyed reading one of James’ books, and I certainly intend to read more.

SJJ: What genre does your newest release, Frozen Stiff Drink, fall under?

JJC: Mystery (somewhere between a cozy and an investigation)

SJJ: Is this a genre one you usually write in or are you trying something new?

JJC: I write in both the mystery and contemporary family drama genres. This is the 6th book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries.

SJJ: And Who is your target audience for this latest book in your series?

JJC: Readers who enjoy amateur sleuth novels. I’ve turned the sub-genre a bit upside down by creating a male protagonist who is a single father and by writing in the first-person perspective. Usually the cozy world is focused on women and written in third person.

SJJ: When was the release date of your latest novel?

JJC: It was released on March 18th, 2020.

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

JJC: A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

SJJ: I have to say this sounds intriguing.

Where does the story take place?

JJC: On a college campus in a fictional town in northcentral Pennsylvania.

SJJ: James, what inspired you to write this story?

JJC: I grew up watching daytime dramas, dreaming about college life, and reading Agatha Christie. I had to write a series that took this all into account. So… there are always cliffhangers, the plots are quite convoluted, and it’s focused on academia-related murders.

SJJ: Did you have to do any research for this story?

JJC: I had to do a little medical research to understand the effects of the weapon used to kill the victims. It was quite fun!

SJJ: I agree, it can be fun to research these sorts of things.
Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

JJC: Not at all. Once I had my outline, I ran with it… the only concern I had was managing 3 murders when there are normally only one or two.

SJJ: How did you come up with the title? Did you have any other working titles?

JJC: All my titles are plays on words, where Word 1 and 2 mean something and Word 2 and 3 mean something: Frozen Stiff and Stiff Drink. It’s perfect for the story.

SJJ: I like that idea!

Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?

JJC: When I send the summary and the book to the publisher, I provide suggestions on which building to use on the cover (always changes in the series depending on where the murder happens), what colors to consider, and which key objects to highlight. They create a draft, I provide input, then we close on it.

SJJ: What is one of your favourite lines or quotes from the book?

JJC: “It had been a day. If I could’ve returned it for a refund or shoplifted a new one from a discount rack, I’d have been better off.”

SJJ: Is there one scene you enjoyed writing? Please tell us a little about it if you can.

JJC: Writing the murder scenes is always fun because you get to pretend a lot. I envision the anger or passion coming from the killer. I think about how the victim would react, if they are aware they’re being killed. I decide who will find the victim and how it plays into determining the murderer’s identity. It’s a lot of imagination.

SJJ: I too enjoy writing death scenes. You really do have to use a lot of imagination.

Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

JJC: I think it’s purely entertainment, but ultimately, the lead character, Kellan Ayrwick, is a model citizen and thinks the way I wish others would think – kindness, tolerance, dedication, determination.

SJJ: How long did it take you to write and edit this story?

JJC: I wrote the first draft in 4 weeks. It took 4 weeks to edit in and review with a few beta readers. And it took 2 more weeks to finalize with an editor. Just under 3 months.

SJJ: Holy Cow! I need to take a lesson from you.

During editing, did you have to delete a scene you liked but because it didn’t move the book forward, it had to be removed?

JJC: Not in this one. Everything stayed, but I did have to add 3 more scenes. I had to add a few red herrings to throw some potential guilt in various places.

SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?

JJC: Favorite: Kellan, of course. He’s who I wish I could be if I had no limits. And Nana D… she gets all the best lines. She says what she wants, doesn’t care what others think, and almost always, she earns the most respect from anyone.

Least Favorite: I love them all… everyone plays a part.

SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?

JJC: Kellan is a 33-year-old athletic guy, so… it’d have to be someone sexy but smart… perhaps one of the Hemsworth brothers.

The villain… well… I can’t give that away, but the judge who dies is a recurring character. I think he’s best played by John Lithgow.

SJJ: Where can readers purchase your new book?



James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I’ve spent twenty years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. I can’t believe I’ve finished writing the sixth book in this series. Come join in the fun…

James’ Links

Websites & Blog
Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/
Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com
Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

Social Media Links
Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

List of Published Books
Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)Father Figure (April 2018)Braxton Campus MysteriesAcademic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)Frozen Stiff Drink – #6 (March 2020)

Author’s Other Books

Watching Glass Shatter (Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama)

The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family. Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia must figure out which boy Ben refers to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney searches for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. When Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her. Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life-altering, but she will not rest until her family is reunited after Ben’s untimely death. We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re all a mix of quirky personalities. Will Olivia be able to fix them, or will the whole family implode? What will she do when she discovers the son behind Ben’s secret? Check out this ensemble cast where each family member’s perspective is center stage, discovering along the way who might feel the biggest impact from all the secrets. Through various scenes and memories across a six-month period, you’ll get to know everyone, learning how and why they made certain decisions. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family where the flair for over-the-top drama pushes everyone to their limits.

Father Figure (Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama)

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly. Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies. Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent. Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen are revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense.


Academic Curveball: Death at the Sports Complex (#1)

When Kellan Ayrwick, a thirty-two-year-old single father, is forced to return home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds the dead body of a professor in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Then he finds a second body after discovering mysterious donations to the college’s athletic program, a nasty blog denouncing his father, and a criminal attempting to change student grades so the star baseball pitcher isn’t expelled. Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana weeding through the clues, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. Fate has other plans. Kellan is close to discovering the killer’s identity just as someone he loves is put in grave danger of becoming victim number three. And if that’s not enough to wreak havoc on his family, everything comes crashing to a halt when his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever. In this debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series, readers discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic, and nosy residents. Among the daily workings of Braxton College and the charming Ayrwick family, Kellan weighs his investigative talents against an opportunity to achieve a much sought-after dream. When this first book ends, the drama is set for the next adventure in Kellan’s future… and it’s one you won’t want to miss.

Broken Heart Attack: Death at the Theater (#2)

When an extra ticket becomes available to attend the dress rehearsal of Braxton’s King Lear production, Kellan tags along with Nana D and her buddies, sisters-in-law Eustacia and Gwendolyn Paddington, to show support for the rest of the Paddington family. When one of them appears to have a heart attack in the middle of the second act, Nana D raises her suspicions and asks Kellan to investigate who killed her friend. Amidst family members suddenly in debt and a secret rendezvous between an unlikely pair, Kellan learns the Paddingtons might not be as clean-cut as everyone thinks. But did one of them commit murder for an inheritance? Kellan is back in his second adventure since returning home to Pennsylvania. With his personal life in upheaval and his new boss, Myriam, making life difficult, will he be able to find a killer, or will he get caught up in his own version of stage fright?

Flower Power Trip: Death at the Masquerade Ball (#3)

Braxton College is throwing the Heroes & Villains Costume Extravaganza to raise money for renovations to the antiquated Memorial Library. While attending, Kellan stumbles upon a close family friend standing over a dead body that’s dressed as Dr. Evil. Did one of Maggie’s sisters kill an annoying guest at the Roarke and Daughters Inn or does the victim have a more intimate connection to someone else on campus? As Kellan helps the school’s president, Ursula, bury a scandalous secret from her past and unearth the identity of her stalker, he unexpectedly encounters a missing member of his own family who’s reappeared after a lengthy absence. When all the peculiar events around town trace back to the Stoddards, a new family who recently moved to Wharton County, the explosive discovery only offers more confusion. Between the special flower exhibit that’s made an unplanned stop on campus and strange postcards arriving each week from all around the world, Kellan can’t decide which mystery in his life should take priority. Unfortunately, the biggest one of all has yet to arrive at his doorstep. When it does, Kellan won’t know what hit him.

Mistaken Identity Crisis: Death on the Cable Car (#4)

A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case from shortly before Gabriel vanished one stormy night. When a missing ruby is discovered near an electrified dead body during the campus cable car redesign project, Kellan must investigate the real killer to protect his brother. Amidst sorority hazing practices and the victim’s connections to several prominent Wharton County citizens, a malicious motive becomes more obvious and trickier to prove. As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton? The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized, and if he wants to move forward, he must make a few ruthless sacrifices. Election Day is over, and the new mayor takes office. Nana D celebrates her 75th birthday with an adventure. A double wedding occurs at Crilly Lake on Independence Day. And Kellan receives a few more surprises as the summer heat settles in Wharton County.

Haunted House Ghost: Death at the Fall Festival (#5)

It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival. Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing. While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.