Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Guest Blogger R. D. Murray, Author of My Dead Blue Caterpillar, Shares "From Bullied to Author: There is Hope For You!

After reading My Dead Blue Caterpillar (Read my view), many readers will wonder and want to know more about the writer, so I asked him to share here at Book Readers Heaven...

From Bullied to Author: 
There is hope for you

By R. D. Murray

I have to start off by saying that this is a very hard topic and piece to write, but when I was in the 3rd grade I was bullied so badly and so often that at age eight I wanted to kill myself. My name is Rasheed Murray and I was born and raised in New York City, specifically the neighborhood referred to as Harlem. The fast and mean streets of New York City did nothing to harm me directly.  

My problems were never with the impoverished neighborhood I grew up in because my hellish nightmare had always occurred in my elementary school. This was not because a staff member harmed me physically or sexually, not because the school didn’t have heat or air conditioning, but because of bullies who tortured me for a three-year period. I was shy, quiet and awkward. I guess I was an easy target if you want to say that. I was thrown in the boy’s bathroom by these 3 particular kids who would punch and kick me as hard as they could. 

I could barely walk as everyday they would abuse me over, and over again. The other kids in school would just laugh at me and no one actually helped. There were a few young ladies who tried to defend me but they were outnumbered. In fact, many of the other children who watched and knew about my abuse would slowly join in on the abuse themselves, as if it was a game that required audience participation. 

As the bullies abused me questions would pop into my head.“Why are they doing this to me? What did I do to deserve this? Why isn’t anyone helping me?” My thoughts were all over the place at times “help, Mommmmmmmy, I love people…. Kids….. animals, Why.”

(This video has been disabled but it is worth watching on UTube.)

I remember having the entire class chase me out of school one day. I ran, and cried, up until the point where I almost got hit by a dark blue sports car going well over the speed limit. I didn’t care, I had to cross that street before “they got me.” I just remember that car speeding towards me, and stopping inches in front of me. The moans and sighs of relief from the people in the streets, let me know that they were as relieved that I was that I didn’t get hit. If that car actually hit me, things would have been pretty bad for me because I was running so fast that I didn’t even see my mother who was coming to pick me up. An act she got used to doing not only because I was young, but also because my safety was her number one priority. 

One day I got so sick of being treated this way I made the decision to end my life. I wanted to jump off a roof rather than go to school. But, instead I decided to be an obedient child and go back to school, and wouldn’t you know it, the bullying only got worse. I was teased, and laughed at daily, and the kids even threw food at me during my lunch period. The principle didn’t do much, the teachers were helpless, and the only person who was my advocate was my mother. My mother would come to my school and fight for me with the school administrators, and once she was so enraged due to the lack of leadership and support, she even tried to fight one of the bullies. Sadly, and despite her actions, the bullying continued up until I got to middle school, and away from many of those bullies. 

Till this day, I do not know why I didn’t kill my self but thanks to God, I am beyond overjoyed to still be alive, and here on this earth. God saved me and I found writing. It was an outlet to take me away from the pain I was going through in this world. For those three long years the bullying didn’t stop, but the writing I began as a child took me away from this world and brought me to another place, a place were bullies got what they deserved.

During those hellish years, I started to create different characters, and a different world just to escape. Thanks to writing I survived the bullying and I believe deeply that writing really saved my life. Now at the age of 42 with the large support from my wife, my children, and my mother, I just released my first novel. My Dead Blue Caterpillar which is currently on Amazon Kindle and peaked at number 73 on their Top 100 for Free Downloads in the category of suspense. 

So please know if you are ever bullied, know that you can survive your circumstance and become anyone you want.  You are worth everything. You can rise like me and become the special person that you are destined to be. Nothing last forever, not even pain as promising as it appears to be. Continue to fight the good fight, advocate for yourself, and always believe in the promise of tomorrow, the fact that it does get better, and ultimately, in yourself and the future you that you are meant to become. 

Rasheed Murray

My name is Rasheed Murray. I am 42 years old and I’m from New Jersey. I been writing for over ten years. This is my first release.

I am always happy to have role models appear in my life, who have gone through terrible times and yet found the strength to get through it, and share that it does get better... It's important that children who are getting bullied have someone to support them...parents, teachers, or relatives and friends. Especially those who are willing to stand tall and speak back to bullies! As with Rasheed, I was bullied, but it was verbal and I have told this before... I really think God's spirit tells us what to say, when we listen... I don't remember my age, probably in grade school, but my uncle and our family was at my grandmother's home... My uncle called me "Fatty" and went on to say something. I didn't answer. My mother said, "Glenda, Dale's talking to you..." I responded, "That's not my name." And walked away... I have no idea what occurred thereafter, but I was feeling pretty good, for saying what I said! Of course, that didn't stop other kids also acting out, but you get the idea...

Some kids can be so cruel! What's interesting to me, is that Rasheed chose to write in his novel about the little voices we all have in our heads... You know, the ones who tell us what to do, good and bad... Perhaps it is just those individuals who have grown up with some form of bullying, I don't know... but those voices have haunted me all my life... I can just hear the bad voice, telling me, "Go slap that man's face, for not being nice..." Thankfully, the good voice mostly wins

Thank you Rasheed for sharing here at Book Readers Heaven... We welcome further contributions when you want to come back!   Glenda

Monday, December 10, 2018

Guest Blogger, Writer and Author Guy Graybill, Pens about "America's Most Prevalent Writing Flaw"

Guy Graybill

America’s Most Prevalent Writing Flaw

It’s the most common sign of sloppy writing; the unaddressed writing flaw that permeates American journalism.  It may be found in books, magazines and newspapers.  Yet, although easily taught and understood, it remains generally unaddressed.  It is the mutant modifier; the writing mistake that is intentionally inserted into the title of this modest literary piece.  Let me say again:  Listen!

TIME magazine used the mutant modifier several times in its August 18, 2014 issue, when it sloppily stated: “Megan Fox teams up with….”  and, again in that same issue one read:  “SPEEDING UP SECURITY.”  Please re-read those two news magazine phrases and note that, in each phrase, one word is utterly superfluous.  One word in each example only adds clutter to a clear and simple phrase.  Why didn’t we read, simply, “Megan Fox teams with…” and “SPEEDING SECURITY”?

Once a reader begins to recognize these intrusive modifiers, he or she begins to stumble over each offending modifier.  They absolutely don’t belong.  Further,
the student of writing can learn to avoid their use by simply reading enough examples of the flaw and indulging in a few practice exercises.

Kindly read the following quotes and note how easily you can identify the intruders.

“Amazon also rents out space on huge computer servers….”
 The Daily Item (newspaper), 4/22/11, p. A4

“Zuroff narrowed down the list of possible suspects….”
          David Rising (AP), The Daily Item, 10/2/14

“Count them up!”
          2015 mailing from the American Automobile Association

“Out where?”  “Down where?”  “Up where?”  You should have been asking those questions.  If you were asking those queries, you are about ready to eliminate the mutant modifiers from your own writing, unless you haven’t been using them.  Some writers likely rarely use them; naturally writing uncluttered sentences intentionally or by nature.

Try these additional examples:

Cover blurb.  DISCOVER magazine, 12/84

“Words to Watch Out For”
Article title,  George F. Will, Newsweek, 11/25/85

“We will do everything possible to help clear up the matter promptly.”
Correspondence, Donald Cameron, RCA Music Service, undated

“Light Up Your Holiday”
Songbook title, The Express (newspaper), Lock Haven, PA, 12/21/2000

“I was a graduate English student… and I had packed up quite a few boxes….”
Robert E. Curtis, READER’S DIGEST, 4/99

“I went straight to Washington and dropped off a job application….”
Jack Anderson, PEACE, WAR, AND POLITICS, p. 59

“Woolley opened up the usual trenches in the mound of Ur….”

“They would soon be fed, and then they would be tied up for the night.”
Louis L’Amour, THE WARRIOR’S PATH, p. 416

“whittled down the cost by cutting out all but the essential items.”

Yes, the Oxford lexicographers might have omitted two mutant modifiers and left us with a briefer and crisper dictionary entry.

“The Helenes had opened up a trade route….”
Will Durant, THE LIFE OF GREECE, 1939, p. 234

“Did this 16th century psychic map out the future of this century?”
Michael A. Snyder (undocumented source)

“Instead, the dinosaurs may have dug nests, and spaced themselves out
carefully to avoid crushing the next generation.  The next day the desert
skies opened up and dumped a surprise rain on Auca Mahuevo.  Three of
Coria’s technicians rushed out to the egg quarry….”
Thomas Hayden, NEWSWEEK, 7/12/99, p. 45

“We all know how that’s worked out.”
The Week, 5/26/06, p.14

“He also wanted to capture Leningrad and join up with the Finns….”
William Shirer, The Rise and fall of the Third Reich,
           New York, 1960, p. 857

“Halder copied it out word for word….” (ibid., p. 857)

“To back up his photographs….”
Elizabeth Winthrop, Smithsonian, 9/06, p. 20

“In an effort to bolster up the confession….”
Ralph Roeder, The Man of the Renaissance,
TIME Reading Program, Special Edition, 1966, p.121

“How do you soften up militants….”
Lisa Beyer, Time, 8/7/06, p.27

Honestly, I don’t look for these examples.  They simply trip me as I’m reading, breaking my line of thought and causing minor frustration pains.  Their frequency is surprising.  The ones offered here are just a representative sample of those which I’ve noticed and/or collected in the past few decades.  From all kinds of sources, I’ve read about soil being packed down, something being used up, plans being mapped out, an industry being built up, a paper being written out, verses being copied out, allegations being checked out, trees being cut down and piled up, funds being freed up and a problem continuing on!

Of course, information might be written up or down or out, with up being the most overworked of the mutant modifiers.  It is thoughtlessly added to almost any imaginable verb.

Have you any notion as to how long critics have been identifying the mutant modifiers? 

Some years ago, one of my sons gave me a copy of an old book on proper speech and writing.  It was entitled, Five Hundred Mistakes Corrected.  It was published in 1882 in New York.  The publisher was James Miller.  It was identified as being the thirty-second edition!  It is also related that the book was “Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855….”  Unfortunately, the volume cites specific mistakes rather than offering general rules; but about one dozen of the five-hundred corrections listed offered advice on the misuse of modifiers.  Two examples follow:

Number 463 – Some persons talk of “continuing on:” in what other
                                   direction would it be possible to continue?
Number 216 – “Iron sinks down in water.”  Leave out down.   

If this awkward usage of modifiers was condemned more than one and one-half centuries ago, why is it ignored today, when the practice is so prevalent?  One might suggest four reasons: 
Careful writers likely avoid the practice with little thought and with only a rare slip of the pen or the word processor. 
There is the tendency to become less formal in our writing.     
It is obviously difficult to excise, from our writing, intrusions which are
rather prevalent in our speech.
The problem seems to be overlooked in our teaching of writing.

Not only is the problem overlooked; but some of the extraneous modifiers might even appear on the pages of the very publications which are devoted to the writing craft!  Here are several annoying sentence fragments culled from the last place where one should expect to find them.

“I started out, some time back….”
            John M. Wilson, Writer’s Digest, 8/85, p. 68

“The days of just adding nudity or raunchy language to spice up original cable programming…”
John M. Wilson, Writer’s Digest, 1-85, p.67

“If this is acceptable to you, please make up a rough outline…”
John Wood, Senior Editor, Modern Maturity, private correspondence,

“When the technical problems are cleared up, your story will merit…”
Reading Report form, used by Manuscripts, a literary service in Dayton, Washington.

“Cleared up,” indeed!  Writing may be casual; but it should never be sloppy.  Superfluous modifiers suggest sloppiness.  They suggest an aversion to concentrating while proofreading.  That’s why it’s always surprising to stumble on needless modifiers while reading pieces that deal with the craft of writing.  We even encounter mutant modifiers in such a highly-regarded book as The Elements of Style (Strunk and White, 1959) .  Even here we encounter such anomalies as
“Do not dress words up by adding…” (p 62) and “When you use metaphor, do not mix it up.” (p. 67). 

One can’t imagine the fictional spy, James Bond, being offered a mixed drink and requesting that it be “Shaken up; not stirred up.”  We can stop saddling robust verbs with worthless modifiers if we make the simplest effort.  If we remove the mutant modifiers from our own writing, teachers will begin to emphasize the change, writers will embrace the change and editors will begin to demand it.  Allow me to close this bit of writing advice with one facetious remark:  Soon, we’ll be able to say, as one of the world’s great writers once wrote, “All’s well that ends up well.”

                 § § §

So, writers, are you guilty of using this most prevalent writing flaw? I remember an old saying "that is something about which I would not put up..." Yikes! One thing that struck me, though. The phrase for James Bond has become so common in use that it is immediately recognizable as a problem. I'm not so sure this can be said for many of the examples...

Guy mentions that often we can automatically ask "where?" which I tended to do with some of the examples.  "Do not dress words up by adding..." For me, this is indeed an adverb when we say, routinely, "I'll be dressing up for the dance." Meaning that something special will be worn.  Can a modifier, "up" not come to stand in for the actual modifier of dressing formal or dressing in a gown, or dressing in a tux... When can a word "up" come to mean a substitute for a word(s)? 

To your query, "Whats up" (often pronounced as wassup) means -- How are things with you? or What are you doing? 
Its an informal way of asking the well being of someone you meet.
But I agree that the language is becoming too sloppy. The word "Whassup?" has comes into wide use and it gets actually funny, because so many will say it differently, but want to be hip in using it... Whatsup...Wassup...Sup? Some I have yet to even figure out what letters are being used... Given Guy's article...that whole mess should be eliminated anyway! Right?

Thanks so much, Guy, for getting us thinking...At my age, I admit,

I'm Still Learning!       G

Monday, December 3, 2018

Astronomy for Kids: How to Explore Outer Space... by Bruce Betts, PhD

Mars is in the News!  And if your children have noticed and been talking about it, I highly recommend you check out the new book by Bruce Betts! Now is the time to take this latest event by NASA and encourage study that can help increase or improve their natural interest in outer space. 

This book is not to be mistaken for a young child's introduction. Rather it is created in a text format, meant for ages 7-13 (or Adults who have no background will find it useful) but with interesting star charts, inserts, drawings and explanations that helps lead kids through that world we call outer space... Because of the Mars landing happening so recently, Mars is the best possible section to be included to share what the book provides.

The format as we begin to study stars, planets, and more is simple to use. First a graphic, a picture of a planet, such as Mars, is shown. Thereafter a brief statement about the planet (or star) is provided. I enjoyed the little tidbit of information, That's so Cool!, which highlights something interesting and to be remembered as something not necessarily known. For Mars, for instance, did you know that the largest mountain in the Solar System is on Mars? The volcano, Olympus Mons, is more than twice as high as Mount Everest, and expands as big as the state of Arizona! 

I had to laugh when I saw that, included, was a "selfie" of the Curiosity rover on the surface, standing next to a sand dune (2016)...

Betts starts his book immediately with instruction, even on the cover, he shares you may want to use binoculars, a telescope...or most important, just your eyes! In the Introduction, he proceeds to share what the book contains, and closes with "Now I enjoy sharing the wonder and excitement of the weird and cool things in out space..." If you enter his name into a search engine, you will find many different sites on which he appears, and he also teaches an online college course, so no matter at what level you begin and how long you wish to continue studying the stars...this author can provide support! Cool, right?!

As readers begin, Betts shares about 30 sites that can be seen by the eye, and suggests that we start with the Northern Sky, specifically, The Big Dipper!

Beginning with the location of the Big Dipper, we proceed through the various stars and learn specifics, but also the relationship to those also identified in the book. 

For instance, beginning with the well know Big Dipper, the book will show how a point there can lead to Cassiopeia, a constellation that also rotates around the North Star. Telling us about the mythological story was fun to learn about. It seems  Cassiopeia was a queen who was made into a constellation by the sea god Poseidon for claiming she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs. If you stop to think about this tidbit of information, you will realize just how many thousands of years that humans have wondered and looked to the stars to learn and enjoy the great unknown...

The book is organized by "skys" so that location and seasons becomes a basis upon which to begin the individual study to be made. There is also an extensive, easy-to-use index by which the book can help a student when they wish to complete an assignment, for instance, on the Moon, which we have also explored... The little cool tidbit I learned was that the same side of the moon always faces Earth. But did you also know that the Moon is the only other planet where Earthlings have walked. LOL... I just thought I'd mention that since our movies take us to other planets that don't even exist...isn't it fun to know what our reality actually is and dream of some day when we just might reach another planet?!  

The book itself is well made and can withstand much use inside and outside as the reader explores the way they wish... I think I would go with a telescope for myself. The writing is excellent and the book easily used and the material can be found immediately. It is a definite recommended addition to your home library in my opinion... Do check it out!


Dr. Bruce Betts is a planetary scientist who loves teaching people about planets, space, and the night sky in fun and entertaining ways. He has lots of college degrees, lots of big dogs, and two sons. Read on to learn more about his background and where to find him on social media and the Internet. 

Bruce Betts is a planetary scientist, science communicator and educator, and manager. He is the Chief Scientist and LightSail Program Manager for the world's largest space interest group, The Planetary Society. He has a B.S. (Physics and Math) and an M.S. (Applied Physics, emphasis Astronomy) from Stanford and a Ph.D. (Planetary Science, minor in Geology) from Caltech. His research there and at the Planetary Science Institute focused on infrared studies of planetary surfaces. He managed planetary instrument development programs at NASA Headquarters. 

At The Planetary Society, he heads the Science and Technology and the Education and Outreach programs. He has managed several flight hardware projects, and led additional science and outreach projects. He is the Program Manager for the Society's largest project: the LightSail solar sail spacecraft. He regularly writes for the member magazine The Planetary Report and his blog on His popular twitter feed @RandomSpaceFact and Facebook page (Dr. Bruce Betts) provides easy night sky astronomy and random space facts. His Random Space Fact video series ( provides space facts mixed with humor and graphics. He also hosts the "What's Up?" feature on the weekly Planetary Radio ( show (100+ stations, XM/Sirius, podcast). He has been a guest expert on History Channel's The Universe, is a frequent contributor to Professional Pilot magazine, and has appeared frequently in TV, print, web media, and public lectures. Dr. Betts is an Adjunct Professor with California State University Dominguez Hills and his Introduction to Astronomy and Planetary Science class, featuring lots of pretty space pictures, is available free online ( He is an Alumnus Senior Scientist with Planetary Science Institute. His website is

Sunday, December 2, 2018

For Love's Sake - Staci Stallings Once Again Sharing His Love! A Personal Favorite for 2018!

To all those who realize that injustice to one Is an injustice to all… easy it is to get caught up in your station in life and to begin to forget 
that the suffering of others should be the suffering of us all...

Love can change the world In big ways and small.
 This book is for All those who believe
 In the power of love enough
 To work for a better world 
Than the one they were born into.

I can always depend on Staci Stallings to remind me of God's Love through her novels. Since my days in grade school, I have always been troubled by the stories of slavery. They were so contradictory to those stories that I learned in Sunday School...about God's love, his creation of each of us in His image, and giving His son to die for all of us who responded to His Call. God never said that He loved only white people, or those of any other race...He said all of us. You know, when you hear and accept these stories when you are a child accepting Christ as your Savior, you believed and continued to believe that Truth...

“This is ridiculous,” Bryna Elliott said as the carriage bounced roughly beneath her. “I should be home, taking care of Sissy and Nathaniel, not out here showing off for the Bromleys. They already know they’re better than us. What am I trying to prove?” 
“I don’t know why you insist on being so difficult about such things,” her brother, Frank said, sliding his hands over his gloves. “Parties are really not the ostentatious trials you make them out to be.” 
“For you maybe.” Bryna shook her head and looked out at the darkness highlighted with flashes of lightning and spattered with the icy raindrops of early January. It was almost certain they would turn to snow by morning. “Really, Bryn. Sometimes I wonder if you think you are the servant rather than the other way around.” 
“She’s my friend.” 
“She is not your friend. She’s your slave. There’s a difference.” 
Bryna’s soul hardened around the word. Sissy had never been her slave. The word wove terrible things into Bryna’s soul. Sissy was her friend. More to the point Sissy was her own person with her own thoughts and her own dreams. Of course, Frank would never understand that, or accept it. The carriage slowed and then turned, bringing Bryna’s attention back to the present. “Why are we stopping?”
“I told you, Daniel Brody is now occupying the old Hathington place. I told him we would come and get him for the evening.” Frank checked her with a hard look. “Please don’t embarrass me.” 
Embarrass me. The words sank right into her heart and held there. It really didn’t matter how much she ever did or why. To Frank, she would always be the family’s greatest embarrassment. Huddled in his long black coat and black hat Daniel Brody who she had no real memory of or interest in one way or the other rocked the whole carriage as he pulled into the cab. 
Bryna rolled her eyes and shook her head as she angled her gaze back outside. The storm had nothing on the tumultuous seething fury in her spirit. Sissy and Nathaniel needed her. The last place she should be was out here, getting cold and soaked for no reason other than society said it was the proper thing to do. Daniel Brody would much rather have stayed home and sorted the books in the extensive library he had recently inherited. His uncle’s estate was a labyrinth of old rooms filled with dust and who knew what else. The place hadn’t been touched in years, not since his uncle had died and his mother had taken over as the last of the Hathington family. The estate had been his grandparents’ before that though he hardly remembered them at all. The sad truth was the Hathington family line was riddled with more heartache than a Shakespearean tragedy. In fact, that was just one of the reasons his heart had used to justify this particular move. He could take the heartache of back East no more. 
“You know,” the young lady in the silver dress said to Frank, and Daniel heard the spite, “I don’t want to stay all night.” She checked Daniel with a look meant to keep him quiet, and he gladly complied. “I don’t know why we’re out in the first place. It is a cold, wet, miserable night. Not to mention that church is in the morning, and…” 
“Am I to understand that we are to be serenaded with a long litany of the horrors of the night and parties in general the whole way to the Bromley’s, Bryna?” her brother asked. Then he looked over at his seat companion. “Daniel, I beg your forgiveness for thinking it wise to bring my sister along. It will do nothing for your digestion, I assure you.” 
Daniel pulled his gaze up from under his hat and smiled at her. She was, in truth, very lovely, save for the scowl etched on her face. “The truth sometimes is less favorable than we would like,” he said, bowing only slightly to her. For a moment, Frank seemed to puzzle over the statement, and then he dismissed it entirely. “So, Daniel, are you serious about building this library of yours in our fair town? It seems a huge waste of your albeit extensive resources.” 
“It is not a waste,” Daniel said, bristling. “It is a dream.” 
His gaze went to hers, challenging her to join her brother in his assessment of the plan. “And it is one I intend to see through to fruition.” 
Frank shook his head. “I’m just saying with the backing you have, you could do anything. I don’t understand why…” 
“Don’t waste too much time and energy trying to figure it out,” Daniel said with something of a smile. “Half the time I don’t even understand it myself.” 
“Well, if you ever decide to give up this foolishness, we would be glad to have you join us at Schuler’s. I’m quite certain there would be a place for a man of your vast knowledge and learning there.” 
On her side of the carriage Bryna, laughed softly and shook her head. Daniel’s attention went over to her and held. He wanted to ask who she was laughing at. However, before he got the words into his head, the carriage stopped in the expansive driveway of a brightly lit large mansion. The driveway itself was lined side-to-side with carriages and horses and three inches deep in mud. “Now, Bryna, since we’re here,” Frank said, ducking to her though Daniel could plainly hear him, “could you please at least try to act as if you know how to behave in polite society? I know how very difficult that is for you, but it would be nice to be able to enjoy an entire evening without hearing you complain about every little thing.” 
The carriage stopped completely before she could reply, and had it not meant leaving Mr. Brody to also fend for himself, Bryna would’ve waited for Frank to get out and then left without him. However, by the rapid tip-tapping on the roof and the flashes of lightning everywhere else, it was clear the skies had opened up for real. The icy rain was hardly coming in drops anymore. It was more like solid sheets one after the other after the other.
When Frank opened the door, the sleet pelted even the inside of the carriage with chilly bursts of ice-water, blown in by fierce gusts of cold wind. Each gust shook the carriage at its very foundation. 
Bryna shivered and fought not to shriek for the terror of the shaking. Knowing she was going to be a soaking wet, muddy mess by the time she got across the driveway to the door, she gathered up her skirts. So much for her hair that she hadn’t even really bothered to fix. 
Frank never so much as stopped when he got out. Instead, he proceeded post haste through the ice pellets, dodging the other carriages and slogging his way to the illumination of the front door. 
Heaving a breath because she was once again on her own as she always was with Frank around, Bryna started for the carriage door. 
“Wait,” Mr. Brody said, holding up his hand to stop her from where he still sat. She turned, half in rage and half in surrender. Before she could even ask, he angled carefully around her and disembarked. For a second she considered just staying in the carriage. It wasn’t like anyone would miss her. However, Mr. Brody was now on the ground, the ice-rain splattering across his wide-brimmed hat. 
With a sigh, Bryna pulled her wrap closer to her with one hand and her skirt with the other, preparing to brave the cold that was now flooding into the carriage. Head down, she started out; however, on the first step, her gaze caught on Mr. Brody standing there, his hand held out to her. “May I?” Perplexed by both the gesture and the soft expectation in his dark eyes, she hesitated, not knowing what he meant much less how to answer. Then, in that moment, he stepped closer, and without another word, he swept her off the step and right up into his arms. She gasped both at the action and because he felt absolutely rock-solid beneath her. He settled her only once. “Good?” he asked, his eyes mere inches from hers. Her breath locked tight in her chest. “Yes.” He wrapped her closer to him, ducked and headed through the downpour. Bryna saw no real reason to protest or to get any more wet than she already was, so she huddled into the protectiveness of his body, the feeling of which nudged to get into her consciousness, but she beat that back. She hardly knew the man...

But History shows that many did not accept or understand God's all-encompassing love. One of the most horrendous  things that occurred against God's desire to love all His children, was slavery. While most were abused out in the fields, many children were placed in the care of Black nannies and others who served as indoor slaves. In the natural way that children do, white children, born to the White Master slaveowners, came to love those inside servants just as much as they loved anybody else...

Bryna Elliott was such a child. She had never thought of those who worked in their house as slaves. She loved them and wanted to help take care of them just as they had done for many years for her and her family. But now, only Bryna and her brother was left and times were hard.

Frank Elliott had chosen not to keep the plantation going and as he became involved in the business world, he had routinely started selling the slaves that had come to him through his inheritance. One of them had been the brother and son of the family who were now the only ones left...Bryna considered them her family; Frank argued that they were slaves, paid for and owned...

The personalities of the men who were now in Bryna's life was easily and quickly identified, within the first meeting of Daniel Brody, a friend of her brother, Frank. Readers will discern that Frank apparently learned from his father--that people were possessions to provide service. Even his sister was treated this way. Even though Bryna said little, knowing that Frank could be worse and fearful that he could choose to sell another member of what she considered to be her family.

At that same time, readers will watch and grow fond of Daniel Brody for his chivalrous actions, not only because he was attracted to Bryna, but because he was a good man. Still, it was fun with Bryna not trusting men in general, and not knowing Brody at all, as she refused to favorably respond to his kindness and, yet, when she needed help, she was willing to get him involved in order to save the people she loved. Because of the storyline relationships, I'm not going to share any more, other than to say that the drama is high, the clarity of how slaves were treated is horrendous, and the lack of love that many choose not to show is extraordinarily believable, yet both heartwarming and terrible to consider, depending upon what is happening. I loved all of it and, because of my own interest in how many are unloved and treated badly ...commend Stallings for this book as one of her best, in my opinion...

Highly recommended!


USA Today Best Selling Author, Staci Stallings is a stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side. She has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci's stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That's what keeps Staci writing and you reading. So, sit back, grab your Kindle and something to drink, and settle in for some of the BEST stories in all of Christian Romance...

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Run For Your Life By Judith Lucci in Love Under Fire Box Set!

“Hey, John,” Secret Service Agent Rob Henry said softly as he peered at his monitor. “I’ve got some turbulence over on the southern end of the estate, looks like it’s near the riverbed. Can you come over here and check the topo map with me?” 
Special-Agent-in-Charge, SAC John Cole, a distinguished man with silver hair in his early fifties, moved quickly from his desk to Rob’s and looked at the map on Rob’s monitor. “Yeah, I see it. It looks weird. Could it be a vibration?” 
Rob tugged at his ear, a sure sign he was in heavy thought.” It could be, but I’ve never seen vibration appear like that on the monitor. The pattern seems, well, inconclusive.” He reached for his coffee.  
John shrugged his shoulders. “It’s been quiet around here for months and we both know there’s chatter about a planned attack on the Congressman’s estate.” He paused and gazed at the map on the monitor. “Blow it up. Put the image up on the wall.” 
Rob flipped a switch on his main console and immediately a topo map of Wyndley Farm illuminated the entire wall of the Secret Service compound located on Congressman Adam Patrick Lee’s rural Virginia estate. Both men, retired military Special Forces and seasoned Secret Service agents, studied the image on the wall.  
John Cole scanned the image carefully. He’d been head of the Secret Service detail at Wyndley Farm for several years, ever since Congress had appropriated funds to safeguard the nation’s greatest statesman who’d become synonymous with American’s fight against radical Islam. Prior to his assignment at Wyndley, SAC Cole had guarded the President, whoever that was at the time, for fifteen years. He’d personally overseen the Presidential security team. Many of the changes in security at the White House, especially since 9/11, had been planned and executed under his direction. If there was ever a warrior who knew security and security breaches, it was John Cole.  
But, in its own way, Wyndley Farm was more difficult to protect than the White House. He had a tough assignment. The estate was open and wooded and there were multiple ingress and egress sites where a single terrorist or an entire group of hostiles could slip in and out without detection. And, Congressman Adam Patrick Lee had some enemies. Adam Patrick Lee, better known as “the people’s politician,” was a son of Virginia. He was a descendant of the famous Lee family that included Light Horse Harry Lee and General Robert E. Lee who headed the Army of the South against Northern aggression during the Civil War. His estate in Northwestern Hanover County was over twelve hundred acres situated on the North Anna River. 
Wyndley Farm was located less than an hour from Richmond and two hours from Washington, DC. The Secret Service monitored a state of the art perimeter security system with internal and external video and audio surveillance. The residence had electronic keypad locks, sensors, and infrared technology. The interior of the house had a safe room. A six-foot hurricane fence topped with razor wire surrounded the property. The fence also had motion and vibration sensors.  Nevertheless, the vast estate was difficult to protect. The estate included hundreds of acres of forest, several residences, a horse-breeding facility, and multiple barns and outbuildings. Wyndley was a famous horse-breeding farm and multiple customers visited each day. Security was tight, but even in the best of worlds, John Cole knew the farm could easily come under attack. 
Tension was high in Secret Service headquarters. Several attacks on the farm had occurred in recent years, but had been diffused due to a lot of luck and the swift, expert action of the Secret Service. Just a few winters ago, the Secret Service had lost one of their very own. Seth Farmer had been killed by a terrorist seeking revenge against Adam Patrick Lee for an off-the-cuff comment he’d made to a reporter in New Orleans after the terrorist attack.

Run for Your Life

By Judith Lucci

I would image in getting a boxed set put together, it's a lot of work. Run for Your Life is an excellent book but it is not a medical thriller, and  Alexandra Destephano is not a character in the book, so followers of that series should be aware that this is, more, a political thriller that is well worth a recommendation in that genre...

I was reminded of John McCain who had a stellar reputation as I read about Congressman Adam Patrick Lee, who had been serving America well, in fighting  against fanatic Islam.  He also had a large estate that was the home of his family...  It also was a horse breeding farm with hundreds of acres. The Secret Service had been assigned to guard Wyndley Farm, since there had been a number of attempts by terrorists to seek revenge...or a trophy by their fellow countrymen...

The latter was what drove Syrian extremist Salmud Hafiz-- he wanted to garner praise and more importance and his drive allowed him to consider any type of action to do so, including murder. The author's decision to include American-born terrorists as characters, in my opinion, added a significant dimension to the story as it brings home exactly whether a religious conversion of these American's has actually occurred, or whether they were merely disgruntled and chose to make a break, thinking they would have a better life... Billy Jack Walters quickly realized his mistake...Hafiz was ordering them while he sat and watched and was expecting the digging under ground that Bill and his friend were doing, to go faster... When Billy complained and left, Hafiz made his first mistake by following him and leaving him in a provocative manner for officials to find... his head in a public restroom--dead!

The murder added to the fact that Secret Service equipment had already picked up vibration that had put them on higher alert... quickly changed what was happening to prepare... 

The personal element of the characters was key to the  quality of the book. Family and close friends were in danger and one of those was a newly adopted baby who was brought back to America after a battle...Now revenge was to be had and the baby was in danger plus those that had been in that combat were targeted for death. The storyline is complex, with edge-of-the seat tension as readers watch to know that, once again, good wins out over evil...

There was some concern that I had that the security team was too loose in the followup, implying they were not efficient, in order to provide a more dramatic tale. That is, I felt that the security agents were not given their due so that the main characters became the heroes. This was opinion based upon early detecting of vibration, without adequate followup... This led to a bit of credibility for me about the overall storyline. Nevertheless, the concept was consistent, well drawn out, and the final method for attack, as brought in by the author, made sense, was well written and provided a climatic ending that was quite satisfactory... Do check it out!


Dr. Judith Lucci is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon best-selling author. She's won awards for the Alexandra Destephano Medical Thriller and the Michaela McPherson "Two Sleuth's and a Dog" Crime fiction series. In 2017, Viral Intent (Book 3) Alexandra Destephano Series) was awarded a Gold Medal by Readers' Favorites for 'Best Political Thriller' as was her crime thriller 'The Case of Dr. Dude (Michaela McPherson #1) for a Gold Medal for 'Best Amateur Sleuth for 2017. She has contributed to four anthologies and collections and is the creator of Author 911: The Authors Guide to Writing and Medical Information. She is a registered nurse and college professor and holds graduate degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Virginia. Judith always like to connect with her readers and is available at

Monday, November 26, 2018

Latest by Aaron Paul Lazar, The Asylum, Appears Now in Love Under Fire!

No matter when I hear the word Asylum, I immediately think of an old song that was sung in the movie, Snake Pit..."Going Home"... The song evoked such sympathy for those crowded in the older asylums, with only one thought. They wanted to go home...

St. Michael's had been an asylum for many years. Now it had been greatly upgraded, but still had the same purpose--to house those that were mentally disturbed... Or was it?

As her mother slid the tray out of the oven, Carmen thought about giving up her apartment. She knew she should have saved more money, but her blasted car 
had needed one repair after another for the past two years, and she’d barely made ends meet. “I know you’re right. But I feel like a failure. I need another job. Fast.”
“You’ll find something.”
“What? With my limited experience? All I’ve ever done my whole life is work in
that sardine factory. I check fish for freshness, proper packaging, and weight. How desirable are those skills, mom?”
“Come to dinner tonight, baby. Let’s talk about it. Rocco said they’re hiring at
Saint Michael’s. They pay pretty good, even though it’s not the nicest place in the world to work.”
“St. Michael’s?” Carmen made a face. “You mean working with all the, um, crazy people?”
“Rocco says we should say ‘mentally ill,’ or some term like that. He says we
can’t call them crazy. It’s not proper.” She started to loosen the cookies with a
“Is it dangerous work?”
Her mother grimaced. “No more so than working with a snake like Dixie, I
guess. But Rocco would be there. He’d have your back.”
“True.” Carmen drained the tea in her cup. “You really like him, don’t you,
Rosita snorted a laugh. “Well…yes. I do.”
“You gonna get married?”
“Oh my goodness, I don’t know.” She batted a hand in the air. “Now, try one of
these cookies. They’re Miss Lolly’s favorites.”

...Rosita nodded. “We missed you too, honey.” She glanced at the man who sat beside her, his head bent low over his plate. “Now, you want to tell Rocco what happened?”
“Okay.” Carmen took a deep breath and turned to him. “Rocco?”
He straightened and gave her an interested smile. “What’s up, little Angel?”
She warmed to his nickname for her. Rocco had always been the gentlest man
she’d ever met, and he always made her feel comfortable and safe, unlike any of her own boyfriends. “I need a job.”
“What’s that?” His eyebrows shot up. “Something happen at Rocky Shores?”
His voice was low and soft, with a touch of a slight Southern drawl.
Rocco had come north many years ago when he married his beloved Maybelle,
whose family lived in Maine. She died eight years earlier when visiting her sister in Kansas. The tornado had swept the car into the sky, dropping it into a field miles away. They’d both died instantly.
Carmen went on to tell the story of Dixie and the planted drugs. She’d already
shared the news with her brother and sisters, so they listened again while she
explained what had happened.
His eyes narrowed. “You want me to go have a talk with those high-and-mighty
Munros?” He cracked his knuckles. “I’ll teach them not to mess with you.”
Carmen laughed. “I’d love it.” She took a sip of her milk. “But for now, I just
need a job. Mom says you’re hiring up at Saint Michael’s?”
“Well, yeah. We are. But I’m not sure you really wanna work there, Angel.”
Her mother gave her an encouraging look. “Go on, honey.”
“You’d be there, right?” Carmen said. “And Mom says they pay pretty well.”
He sat back and exchanged a glance with Rosita. “You sure about this, Rosie?”
Rosita buttered a piece of French bread. “Carmen’s a big girl, Rocco. She can
handle anything those mean nurses can dish out.”
“Please, Rocco? Will you put in a good word for me?”
He shrugged and gave her a half smile. “Okay. If that’s what you want. But be
warned, most of them folks up there aren’t real nice. And I don’t mean the patients; they’re a hoot. It’s the staff.” He stabbed a meatball and took a bite. “Maybe you do this only while looking for a good job. Then it’ll be temporary.”
Carmen nodded and reached for his hand. “Thank you.”
Rosita kissed Rocco’s cheek. “He’ll take good care of you, honey. Nobody
messes with my Rocco.”

The Asylum

By Aaron Paul Lazar

This is not the usual drama presented by Aaron Lazar. Sure, love comes into the picture fairly early, however, the thrust of the book relates to the inner workings of an asylum for the mentally impaired. St. Michael's had been an asylum for many years; however, with new ownership, it had been upgraded, especially the inside facilities, so that it catered to a clientele who was rich and expected comfort for their family members.

Carmen Garcia had been set up to be fired from her long-time job, because of jealousy--she had started to date the boss' son and his old girlfriend wanted her new competition...gone...

She had given up her apartment and moved home into the attic because of the numerous family members. She was happy to see everybody, but she needed a job...and, with the help of her mother's male friend, Rocco, who already worked at St. Michael's, she was interviewed and hired as an orderly assistant. But as time went by she learned that in emergency situations, especially. everybody was called upon to help in any way necessary...

The receptionist had been kind and given her a few play down her looks. They didn't want to have pretty girls working there... and it helped so she was hired immediately. The orderly assistant turned out to be handling and stocking supplies for the facility, mopping and taking care of accidents of the patients...But after being around fish for years, Carmen didn't mind.

Routine set in and she had a chance to get to know some of the patients. Lollie, her mother's boss, had been placed at St. Michael's recently, and Lollie was thrilled to have somebody that was close to her friend and helper Rosita... In fact, Rosie came in routinely with baked goodies for Lollie, but made enough to share and the patients loved her...

Only one thing raised some concern--when she had been introduced to the director of the facility, he had made a point of talking about discretion, security...and that his word was final... Of course, Carmen expected and did just that...until... later...

She was also introduced to Dr. Michael Worthy, who was the nephew of the director...and was surprised that he was much friendlier than anybody else she had met... Of course, Dr. Michael was handsome and easy to be attracted to...and he felt the same way... although that mutual attraction became a problem quickly!

Carmen was often asked to help patients to their room. It was then that she talked with that individual and began to wonder. They were effective communicators, knew what was going on around them... As one man and woman came to trust her, she was told similar stories...the families placed them in the home to get rid of them, and control their estate in their absence. And often that included the patients being drugged excessively... When Carmen was in one of the rooms when the director visited, she asked about the patient and almost got fired, being screamed at for questioning the director's orders...

Something was wrong...but who and what was responsible. Carmen began to investigate and keep track of questionable things...But could she, alone, do anything to help the patients? I think we have always heard stories about how patients might be treated in homes for the mentally disabled. Lazar has made this sad, but important, issue, into a fascinating suspenseful mystery that not only is interesting, but important for all of us who may have relatives in all types of facilities for the elderly... 

As always, Lazar as a wonderful storyteller keeps readers interested, with the activities of the characters and before the end there is dangerous action as the climax of the book takes begins! It's different from his other books, but one that provides the heartwarming story we have come to expect,  that underlies the mystery. Highly recommended.


Note: This story is now only available through the Love Under Fire Box Set... A major deal for only 99 cents for a limited time! Enjoy! Watch for more individual book reviews as I read them!