Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Journey to the American Suburbs of the 1950s and 60s--Meet Frank Burr and Read About MCKINLEY MEMORIES, A MEMOIR OF GROWING UP IN THE AMERICAN SUBURBS

My good friend Frank Burr has just published MCKINLEY MEMORIES, A MEMOIR OF GROWING UP IN THE AMERICAN SUBURBS, reflections of his early life in the Philadelphia suburbs of the 1950s and 60s. Meet Frank and take a look at MCKINLEY MEMORIES, now on sale at Amazon.

About Frank

Frank Alan Burr was born in 1945 – the son of middle-class depression-era parents.  It was instilled in him during childhood to set a goal of finding secure lifetime employment when he became an adult.  Upon graduation from Peirce Junior College with an Associate Degree in Business Automation Management, he began a 30-year career with a large telecommunications corporation in Philadelphia, PA.  He was employed in the quickly-emerging information technology sector.

In 1966 he was drafted into the Army, and later in the year, as a military policeman, was deployed to Vietnam with an MP platoon attached to the 199th Infantry Brigade.  Upon separation from the service he returned to his previous place of employment.  He then earned his Bachelor Degree in Business Administration at night from La Salle College in Philadelphia.

Despite his position in the corporate world, he felt his true calling was that of a poet and writer.  He was encouraged to get into the literary field by an English professor at Peirce, but instead vied for the information technology career path because of the financial security it would provide.  The implication of this decision would trouble him throughout his corporate career.

In order to cope with the increasing stressful nature of his job, he began writing poetry in his spare time.  This provided a much-needed cathartic outlet.  With ten years to go before he could take early retirement benefits, he began planning his way out.  Upon retirement in 1996 he began an antithetic part-time career as a school crossing guard.  This allowed him to devote more time to writing poetry and personal essays.  After having a couple of essays published in a local Audubon Society newsletter, he started writing a weekly opinion/commentary column for The Trend, a weekly publication distributed throughout southeastern Montgomery County in Pennsylvania.  When his four-year stint as a columnist ended, he put his energy into publishing his first book, Common Thoughts ~ Poems and Essays which is a compilation of works in both genres, written over the last two decades.

After several years of off-and-on effort, Frank completed and published MCKINLEY MEMORIES. 


Coming of age in any time period is challenging, but growing up during the decades between World War II and the start of the Vietnam War was unique.  McKinley, a small middle class community in the older suburbs of Philadelphia, PA holds a special place in the author’s heart.  Like many towns of its ilk of that period, it was a mostly self-contained environment where one walked to school or strolled a block or two to the nearest grocery, drug and hardware stores.  A simpler time when there were party lines instead of smart phones, children would amuse themselves all day, when not in school, exploring the area parks and woods, and making their own adventures.  However, in this memoir, Frank “Buddy” Burr, also author of Common Thoughts - Essays and Poems, explores the ups and downs of childhood and adolescence in his engaging style.

Purchase MCKINLEY MEMORIES in paperback from Amazon

Frank's previous book, COMMON THOUGHTS: POEMS AND ESSAYS is also available on Amazon.

Connect With Frank



Thursday, June 21, 2018

Italian Vampires on a Mediterranean Cruise--and all the garlic you can eat!

Yes, my vamps love garlic, they don't sleep in coffins, they go out in daylight, and they're not from Transylvania! They're in the Silvius family, descended from ancient Romans, the heroes of
A BLOODY GOOD CRUISE, my Italian vampire romance.

My husband and I are hooked on cruising, and the Med ones have been the most memorable. Sicily and the Greek Islands are heaven on earth. I had to use this part of the world as a setting--and vampires just seemed to fit in there. After all, vamps don't have to be from Dracula's turf.

A BLOODY GOOD CRUISE is a fun-filled blend of the vampire world and luxury cruises, starring romance author Mona Rossi and Fausto Silvius, a full-blooded vampire. The popularity of cruises and vampires make it a unique blend, but a very fun and romantic setting.

Coffeetime Romance says in its review, “A Bloody Good Cruise is a high seas adventure with twists and turns around every corner. The lively cast spins non-stop excitement with thrills and enough snags to keep the pages turning.”

Palermo, Sicily


 I wanted to combine Italian vampires, comedy and cruising in one package, so I hopped on my imaginary ship The Romanza to get my characters in all kinds of trouble. I envisioned the hero, Fausto, as actor Vincent Irizarry (Dr. Hayward on All My Children). That made my job so much easier. He is THE perfect vampire. Italian vampires and hunters (the Vampire Ball Busters) leave the field wide open for comic relief, and I had plenty of chances in this story. Since I'm hooked on cruising and I'm Italian, I didn't need to do that much research.

I met an Italian woman named Fausta in 1983 and always loved that name--I always planned to use that name in one of my books someday. I finally got the chance with the hero Fausto, close enough!

My very first cruise was on the Eastern Mediterranean, beginning in Rome and ending in Istanbul. The ports of call included Rhodes, Cyprus, Santorini, and Egypt. Because I love Italy and cruising, I wanted to combine those passions with a humorous story about vampires and how they face prejudice in the human world.


Mona glanced at her watch again. Five minutes to five. She itched to spill all to Tessie, but they’d be pulling out at five, and Fausto should be here any minute. No doubt he’d be in one of his tacky disguises. He knew he’d have enemies aboard, and to throw them off the scent, he’d plod around like a typical American tourist on his first cruise, schlocky enough to blend right in, the exact opposite of what his nemeses expected. So she kept her eyes peeled for a gaudy Hawaiian print shirt, a droopy straw hat, baggy Bermuda shorts, and flip flops.

That would be the real test for Tessie—could she consider marriage with a vampire without freaking? Her finding out would pack a double whammy—her best-selling authors wrote vampire romances, and they were on this cruise, giving workshops on the sexy, mysterious, sexy, transient, sexy lascivious creatures. Mona smiled, her toes curling in anticipation of Fausto’s kisses, his licks, his caresses—and the ship-rocking orgasms they shared.

Just as Mona’s juices started to simmer, Tessie’s eyes darted over to the side. “Don’t look now, but if this guy tries to pick either of us up, we’ll say we’re together. And if he doesn’t believe that, we’ll start smooching.”

Oh, no, Mona thought. Not even here two hours, and some loser is trying to...

Clunky footsteps approached, a large familiar hand touched her shoulder, and she spun around to face a Mets baseball-capped, blue Ray Banned, scruffy-bearded sanitation worker.

 “Yo, sista.” He lowered the shades and peeked at her with his midnight blue eyes.

“Fausto! Bello mio!” She slid her arms around his waist, and they fell into an old- fashioned Italian rocking hug, nearly knocking each other over. “You made it!  It’s so good to see you!” She held him at arm’s length and zipped her eyes up and down.  “You look so—” She gestured with her hands. “—so Flatbush! Nobody would ever guess you’re the lifesaving hunk they’ll all flock to when Mussolini’s Revenge breaks out.”

“Yoo gotta prob’m wit’ dat?” His Brooklynese was flawless, too, but why not? He’d lived there for eighty-six years. But he only used the lingo when joking around or when some Joizey bum cut him off in traffic. He stroked the stubbly whiskers and rammed his other hand into his tatty jeans pocket, but it emerged from a hole. “This is the first time I skipped a shave since I was ten.” He now spoke in his regular voice, the plain unaccented American of TV reporters. “I thought of skipping the deodorant but didn’t want anybody to think I’m French. And it’s too cold for the touristy garb. I thought I’d go low-end Gotham instead.”

“You’re low end, all right. Make it more real. Cut into the line at the Chocoholics Buffet, and flip everybody the boid.” She saw Tessie staring bug-eyed, not knowing what to make of this dude looking like he’d just shoved his way off the D train from Flushing Avenue. “Teresa Lionetti, you know Fausto Silvius. Fausto, of course you remember Teresa.” Before the third syllable was out of her mouth, Tessie broke in, “Please! Call me Tessie. Teresa sounds too much like a saint or a mother, neither of which I am or may never be.”

He pulled off a ratty racing glove, and they shook hands.

“Nice to see you again, Tessie. That’s the name of my favorite aunt. Zia Tessie makes the best pasta sauce south of Milano and said she’ll take the recipe to the grave with her, but she didn’t say whose. She’ll never take it to hers, we know that.”

Mona added sotto voce, “He’s, uh B incognito for now, and I’ll tell you why later.” She’d explain the whole story, but only after a few Chiantis, with Fausto offstage. First Mona had to tell her that Fausto and Quintus were related and shared a rare gene of Ancient Rome. Contrary to best-selling lore, true vampirism was genetic. So she’d get bad news: Fausto and Quintus are vampires. And good news: they’re not fanged, cape-swirling ghouls.

Fausto gave Mona a wink. “You’ve got some audience on board, ladies. Every man’s floating fantasy. Toi Brennan from The Cutting Edge is even hotter in person.” He glanced over the rail to the deck below and the crowded dancers, now wiggling to Mambo Italiano. “Did every romance writer in the business sign up?”

“Registration is hopping!” Tessie jumped from one over-the-knee boot to the other, flicking her scarf around her neck. “This was such a good idea of Mona’s! We’re gonna party like it’s nineteen-ninety-nine. Again. Schmaltz it up for the television cameras. And maybe even talk about the writing business.” She rubbed her palms together. “So, Mona tells me you’re a budding medical thriller writer.”

He gave his ever-modest one-shoulder shrug. “I wrote two partials when I was on leave.” He didn’t elaborate, but Tessie nodded her understanding. “They’re on a thumb drive back home.” He jerked his thumb in the direction of the ocean. “If you can take a peek at them, I’d be most obligato.”

“Oh, I’m sure they’re real heart-stoppers. Doctors write some of the best fiction.” She pulled out her cig case once again and snapped it open. “Must be their ability to play God that gives them great imaginations.” She fished in her bag for a lighter. In a flash, he whipped one out of his pocket and lit up for her.

“Grazie.” Tessie took a long drag, and the wind whipped away the smoke when she blew it out. “Now I’m outta here, you two, so you can catch up. I need to help work registration anyway. Later, Mona.” She turned to him. “Fausto, it was fun seeing youBwhoever you’re supposed to be.” She flitted away before Mona could protest she wasn’t intruding on anything.

Universal Purchase Link

Monday, June 18, 2018

It is a great honor to present the revamped Award winning book, The Unholy, by Author Paul DeBlassie III!

The Unholy

Friday, June 15, 2018

Meet Brian Porter, Award-Winning Author of the Mersey Mysteries and More

I've been good friends with Brian for many years, and we even collaborated on a biographical romance thriller, SHARING HAMILTON.

Check out Brian's latest release, A Very Mersey Murder‚ and read about A Mersey Maiden, which just won the "Best Book We've Read All Year" award.

About A Very Mersey Murder

1966. England wins the soccer World Cup at Wembley. The same night, the body of a young barmaid is discovered close to an abandoned lighthouse near Liverpool. Two more murders follow, and all remain unsolved.

2005. Detective Inspector Andy Ross and his team are called in when a disturbingly similar series of murders begins in the same location. If their estimates are correct, Ross has one week to solve the case before the third Lighthouse Murder takes place.

D.I. Ross and Sergeant Izzie Drake return in a tense race against time, as they seek to identify and apprehend a vicious killer who seems to leave no clues and no evidence. The price of failure is death.

This is a standalone novel and can be enjoyed even if you haven't read other books in the series.

Universal link to A Very Mersey Murder

To see the full Mersey Mystery series please click here.


A Mersey Maiden has won the 2018, "Best Book We've Read All Year" award.

Just announced, Brian L Porter's A Mersey Maiden, book three in his Mersey Mystery series is the winner of this year's award. Chosen from a shortlist of twenty and voted by both public vote and the organiser's own reviews of each book.

The organisers review:

Brian L Porter's A Mersey Maiden starts small as a charismatic American student dies in his sleep in Liverpool, England – but it doesn't stay small for long: soon our main character, Detective Andy Ross and his team are investigating a murder that involves the CIA, a vanished German U-Boat, Nazi gold, and wartime technology that could change the whole world.

Brian Porter is a master of his genre; take your eyes off the plot for a moment (if you can!) and you'll marvel at the mechanhanics of his storytelling, the depth of detail, the easy characterisation.

A Mersey Maiden is part of Porter's Mersey Mysteries series, and his affection for his main characters is apparent. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, we came to love them too.

What the organisers said:

Hi Brian,
Congratulations on A Mersey Maiden winning. It's a really wonderful book with a depth that constantly blew me away. I almost felt schizophrenic while reading it - as if one part of me was marvelling at the level of detail in the book, while a completely separate me was simply enjoying a cracking story.

A Mersey Maiden is available in both Kindle and paperback editions and is also free on Kindle Unlimited. Universal Purchase Link

An Interview with Brian

You, the Author 

Tell us more about yourself! Readers love to know about the authors, and this would give you the chance to make them feel close to you!

I’m Brian L Porter, also known as Harry Porter, and I’ve just celebrated my 65th birthday. I’m from a very old Liverpool, UK, family but now live in South Yorkshire. After attending the local grammar school, where I excelled in English Language, I spent a year working for a wire rope manufacturer before reaching the age when I could fulfil my great ambition to join the Royal Air Force. I loved my time in the service, and after leaving the RAF I worked for many years in retail management, including time spent as an Area Manager and eventually as the Retail Administration Supervisor for a very large, well-known British retailer. Along the way, I was married twice and my second wife gave birth to my son Alan, and a second son, Christopher who sadly lived a too-short life and who is buried in a beautiful country cemetery in the North of Scotland. Alan is now 33 and four years ago he made me a very proud grandfather. His mother and I divorced after thirteen years of marriage and a few years later I met a beautiful lady, called Juliet who became my third wife and who I now share my life with. Juliet is also the chief critic of my work as it takes shape and I trust her ideas and suggestions when she critiques my works in progress. Away from writing, we share a love of dogs, and in particular we have been, for many years, involved in dog rescue and we currently share our home with our ‘rescue family’ of eleven dogs, including the beautiful Sasha and Sheba, two Staffordshire bull terriers, and the subjects of two of my bestselling books. Sasha  the story of her life and ongoing fight against canine epilepsy has become an international bestseller and she has become something of an icon for epileptic dogs around the world and Sheba: From Hell to Happiness, which tells of Sheba’s rescue and rehabilitation after beginning her life as a bait dog for a gang of dog fighters.

I’m best known for my thrillers and mysteries, most recently my Mersey Mystery series, set in and around Liverpool and featuring the fictional Merseyside Police Specialist Murder Investigation Team. So far there are five books in the series, A Mersey Killing, All Saints, A Mersey Maiden, A Mersey Mariner, and the recently released A Very Mersey Murder.

If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Why?

I’d either relax with a good book, or, depending on my mood, I might choose to watch a DVD from my extensive collection of movies and crime drama series such as Without a Trace, Criminal Minds, Death in Paradise, NCIS etc.

What kind of books do you love to read? Why?

I love to read crime fiction, mainly because it’s what I write myself and I love to immerse myself in other authors’ works. I also love to read a certain type of historical fiction, for example, the Windrush series of books by the highly talented Scottish author, Malcolm Archibald, based on the exploits of Jack Windrush a young officer in the British Army in the latter half of the 19th century. Totally engrossing and action-packed reading.

What type of music do you enjoy relaxing to?

I mostly love listening to the music of the 1960s Merseybeat era, The Beatles, Cilla Black, The Searchers, as well as The Seekers and all the bog names of that era. My tastes are quite eclectic, as I also love listening to the popular classics such as Strauss, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

What is your stress buster?

A nice, peaceful dog walk with my very special epileptic dog, Sasha and her best friend, former bait dog Sheba, the two Staffordshire Bull Terriers who have been the subjects of two of my bestselling books, followed by a nice, long hot soak in a relaxing bath, always accompanied by Sasha, who ‘insists’ on joining me in the bathroom where she will lie on the bath mat, ‘guarding’ me and making sure I come to no harm.

What is your favorite food? What food do you seek when you're sad, sort of a comfort food?

Favorite food is curry, which I make myself following a recipe taught to me by my late mother, who was Anglo-Indian and who learned the recipe herself from the cook er father used to employ in their home in India.

Describe yourself in one word.


If a fairy grants you one wish and one wish only, what would it be? Why?

To enjoy excellent health for the rest of my life, because good health is better than all the money in the world. With my current disabilities health is all-important to me,

What’s your biggest regret in life?

Losing my second son, Christopher to a congenital illness, within hours of his birth.

What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Left home at the age of 17 to join the RAF (Royal Air Force), having to travel the length of the country on three different trains to arrive at my training camp.

What makes you happy/sad/disappointed/frustrated/hopeful/angry? (Pick one)

What makes me angry is any form of animal cruelty, particularly towards dogs, man’s best friend on this planet.

What are your wildest dreams/fantasies/kinks/quirks?

Kinks and quirks must remain private I’m afraid…lol, but my wildest dream would be to go back in time and serve in the RAF during the days of the Battle of Britain and to witness the incredible bravery of the young men who flew and fought in the Spitfires and Hurricanes against the might of Hitler’s Luftwaffe.

Your Writing

When did you write your first book? How long did it take you to write it?

My first novel, A Study in Red, The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper was published in 2008, having taken about two years to write following extensive research, (I’d actually studied the Ripper case for around thirty five years at that time.)

How did you feel when you receive your first contract? What did you do? Any celebratory dinner, dance, event, etc to commemorate the occasion?

After receiving a number of early rejections, it was a great moment when I received my first publishing contract. For a while it was hard to believe I was about to become a published author. I think, if I remember correctly my wife and I celebrated by enjoying our own perfect evening, a Chinese Takeaway meal and a movie after my two step-daughters had been put to bed.

Any writing peeves, things you wish you could improve on, things you do with exceptional talent?

I think my inherent talent lies in creating characters for my books, in particular the evil characters that inhabit most of my stories. My dear wife Juliet often remarks that she sometimes thinks she should be afraid to go to sleep beside me at night just in case one of my darker characters takes over my mind in the night and turns his murderous intentions on her. I’m sure she’s only joking!??

Where and when do you write? Tell us about your favorite work place and time. Any special reason?

I’m pretty much a case of ‘have laptop, will travel.’ As long as I have peace and quiet I can write on the kitchen table, on my lap while sitting on the sofa, or anywhere in the house in fact.

How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story? How do you go on from there? Maybe you can give us an example with one of your books.

Since I began writing my Mersey Mystery, the general setting is known from the outset, as the stories are based in and around Liverpool. However, some of the books include an international flavor, and those parts of the storyline usually come to me in the night, lying in bed, when I usually receive most of my inspiration. Once I have the bare bones of an idea it’s relatively simple for me to add the rest of the storyline the following day. The central characters for the Mersey Mysteries are of course already in place, and with each book I try to develop their personalities a little more, as readers fell they can now identify with them, much like characters in a soap opera or TV crime series. In the first of the Mersey Mysteries, which was set partly in the 1960s and later in the early 2000s, /I based most of the characters for the 1960s scenes on member of my own family in Liverpool as I remembered them at that point in time. Even some of the up to date characters in the book are based on family members. I hoped by doing this, to be able to make the characters more believable and ‘real’ which seems to have worked as the book snow have quite a following, with many readers contacting me to tell me which characters they like the most. All I had to do then, was fit them into the plot that I’d already prepared for them. The same holds true for the rest of the books which begin with an idea, then it’s fleshed out like the storyboard for a movie and gradually takes shape one I begin the actual writing.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Believe in yourself, and in your writing. You may never write a New York Times bestseller, but aspiring to do so will only serve to spur you on to work towards constant improvement. So, treat rejections slips as an occupational hazard, don’t be afraid of accepting constructive criticism, especially from your editor if you’re lucky to get that far as to need one, and remember that, at the end of the day, you have to write not just what YOU want to write, but what your potential readers WANT to read.

Among those that you’ve written, which is your favorite book and why?

A Mersey Maiden, book three in my Mersey Mystery series, has to be my favorite. This book allowed me to indulge not only my passion for creating an entertaining mystery, with red herring galore scattered through it, but also to employ my love for history, in particular the history of World War Two. I was able to successfully weld together the modern-day murder of a university student with the disappearance of a British warship and a top secret Nazi U-Boat during the war, leaving my readers to wonder how the murder of a young man could be connected to the events that took place all those years ago. I loved recreating the wartime scenes, in particular the tension and fear that went with serving on a submarine under attack by depth charges in those terrible times. I’m so grateful that those scenes have attracted a lot of praise from readers who have been quite moved by the humanity I was able to infuse into the crews of the German U-Boat and the British corvette.

Where do you get your ideas? Do you jot them down in a notebook, in case you forgot?

Believe it or not, most of my ideas for my books tend to come to me either in dreams, or while I’m standing in front of the shaving mirror in the morning. I will suddenly receive a flash of inspiration with the entire story laid out in my mind. As I have a habit of linking a lot of my books to events from the past that usually leads to a some very interesting and entertaining research before actually going ahead with writing the book.

Which book that you’ve read (not one of yours) is the closest to your heart? Why?

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will always hold that special place for me. It was this collection of some of the author’s finest short stories that brought about my love of Holmes the character, and Doyle the author. Stories such as The Blue Carbuncle, A Scandal in Bohemia, and The Speckled Band are just so typical of the author’s skill in making even the unbelievable, believable, and helped to give me my love of all things to do with mystery writing. Even now, I will often pick up tis volume and read one or two of the stories from it in order to give myself a quick ‘shot of inspiration.’

Which of your heroes/heroines is most similar to you? Why?

Inspector Andy Ross, from my Mersey Mystery series  is very much based  on my own  personality and I’ve written many traits about myself into the character so  he wins hands down!

Have you ever wanted to write your book in one direction but your characters are moving it in another direction? What did you do in such a situation?

Yes, this almost always seems to happen once I get ‘into’ the writing of a new novel. When it does I allow the characters to drive the story along as after all, it is their story isn’t it?

Has your muse always known what genre you would write and be published in?

Yes, as I’ve had a life-long love of thriller and mystery novels, I don’t think it could have gone in any other direction.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Actually, it’s the research that really fires my imagination as I look for and find ways to make my perceived story believable and more dramatic by adding truthful background and facts to my fiction.

What is your least favorite part of writing?

Editing and proof reading. Although It’s a vital part of the writing process, I think most authors, once they’ve completed their manuscript, can’t wait to to see their work in print and find the editing and proofing process a s a necessary ‘evil’ on the road towards final publication. It helps to have an editor with whom you can get along well, discuss suggested changes and deletions and agree amicably on the final shape of the manuscript before it goes to the publisher.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of editing.  How about you?

I’m extremely fortunate in this respect. My Liverpool-based researcher/proofreader, Debbie Poole is a great friend, and when I bein writing, each chapter is sent to Debbie as soon as it’s written and she reads and proofreads it, and suggests potential edits before returning it to me for correction for I begin the next chapter, so by the time the book is finished, it should require minimal editing and proofreading by the publisher.

How much research was involved in writing your book?  How did you go about it?

For my latest book, the newly released A Very Mersey Murder, I needed to do quite a lot of research on the subject of gender reassignment, more commonly referred to as sex-change. One of the characters is a gender reassigned female who possesses vital information and I needed to know just what was involved, both psychologically and physical, in attaining a complete change from male to female.

What’s the strangest thing you have ever done in the name of research?

While writing Purple Death, I needed to find a poison that not only killed quickly but which had a virtually zero survival rate. I had at that time, connections to a couple of British Police Forces, but even though they knew me, they weren’t prepared to reveal the information I required. My friendly forensic contacts were equally unable or unwilling to provide me with such information, so, in frustration, I placed an appeal on the internet. Eventually, I received a reply from a chemist in Hong Kong, who was absolutely delighted to provide me with the information I required. He wanted nothing in return and was simply pleased to think he had been a part of writing a thriller novel.

What inspired your latest release?

A Very Mersey Murder was inspired by me reading a collection of cold case stories, and one particular case caught my attention, about a series of killings that actually took place almost a hundred years ago and which remains unsolved to this day. I adapted the location, the time frame and the outcome and it became my latest Mersey Mystery.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I began writing seriously about twenty years ago, following a mental breakdown. During my illness my senior psychiatric nurse suggested writing as a form of therapy. I began by writing poetry and then, after seeing about 200 of my poems published in various magazines and  anthologies, I saw an advert in my local library for a short story contest. I wrote my first short story and entered the competition. I didn’t win, but I’d caught the writing bug and continued writing short stories for a couple of years, most of which were published, again in magazines and anthologies. My son constantly encouraged me to write a book about Jack the Ripper as he knew I’d been interested in the Ripper case for many years, and eventually I decided to try my hand at a full length novel. My first novel was A Study in Red, The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper which was so well received that I wrote two more books on the subject and my fictional ripper trilogy still sells well to this day. I was very lucky to find a publisher in the USA who wanted the book, but before it could be published the publisher went out of business. Fortunately the lady who was editing the book had such belief in it that she promised me should would find a new publisher for it, and she was as good as her word, otherwise all that followed may never have happened.

With the success of the trilogy, I found myself writing a new novel, Pestilence, set in 1950s England, which involved an outbreak of pneumonic plague in a small, rural community, that centred round a sinister plot that had its beginnings in the dark days of World War Two. After that, books just kind of flowed from my pen, (well, my laptop really), and publishers were happy to go on publishing my work.

To date, I have achieved fifteen Amazon Bestsellers which include every one of the Mersey Mysteries and of course, Sasha and Sheba’s life stories and my surprise involvement in the historical romance novel, Sharing Hamilton, co-written with US author, Diana Rubino. More on that one later.
What began as a form of therapy, had progressed to become a hobby and then a full-time occupation.

How much time do you spend promoting your books?

A heck of a lot. Speaking of promotion can I take this opportunity to ask your readers to vote for one of my books in the TCK Readers Choice Awards, 2018? A Mersey Maiden, book 3 of my Mersey Mystery Series, has been nominated in the Best Mystery category. To vote, (only takes a minute or so), readers should go to the voting page and then scroll to the Mystery section and follow the simple voting instructions. Voting is open until December and I really would appreciate any support your readers can give to my nomination.

Please tell us your experiences with social media.  What are your favorite and least favorite parts of it?

I use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, all as means of promoting my books. Over the years, I’ve made a lot of good friends through Facebook, but do find Twitter a little restrictive with its limit on the number of characters per post.

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?

Yes, I have. As a young man I served in the RAF (Royal Air Force), and later, I forged a career in retail management, going from store manager to area manager and eventually the head of administration for a large, well known company in the UK.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I think I was born to write. Even though I began writing seriously later in life, as a child I loved to write stories and poems and had my first work published in the local education authority’s annual round-up of work from the area’s schools when they published my poem ‘The Lion’ when I was ten years old.

You’re having a party.  What character from any of your books do you hope attends?  Why?  What character do you hope doesn’t attend?  Why?

I would love to meet Dr. Severus Black, the dashing, handsome, charming but deadly serial killer I created for the book Sharing Hamilton. He’s refined, debonair and great company, though of course he hides the dark side of his personality until the hours of darkness while the city sleeps. I think he’d be the perfect dinner guest and would keep everyone entertained with his humor and his wit.

As for who I wouldn’t want to be there it would have there it would be Jack the Ripper, from my Ripper trilogy. Who after all would want to bump into Jack at a party?

What do you read?  Do you read different genres when you’re writing versus not writing?

I love to read thrillers, mysteries and adventure stories. In the last two years I have fallen in love with the works of Scottish author, Malcolm Archibald. In particular, his Windrush series of books has had me gripped and eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. I’ve just finished reading the latest instalment in the series and found it even more thrilling than the ones that preceded it. Based on the adventures of the fictitious 19th Century British soldier, Jack Windrush and his men from the notorious 113th Infantry Regiment, the series is beautifully and meticulously researched, historically accurate, and follows Jack through such wars as the Burmese War, the Crimea and the siege of Sebastopol and the infamous Indian Rebellion, the focus of the two most recent books. Its real -rip-roaring, page turning action all the way and you just can’t help caring for the characters created by the author, a sure fire pointer to great reading.
I also love the works of Clive Cussler, Alistair McLean, James Patterson,  Agatha Christie and of course, my hero, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Do you have a favourite book from childhood?

As a boy, I loved reading the ‘Biggles’ Books by W. E. Johns, the perfect adventure books for young boys at the time I was growing up. Biggles was truly the ultimate hero for a young boy growing up in the years following the Second World War. Set during the First and Second World Wars with titles like Biggles Learns to Fly, Biggles Flies East, Biggles Goes To War and so on, I was amazed to see recently on Amazon that the books are as popular today as they were in the days of my youth, nearly 60 years ago.

If you could be dropped into any book as a character, who would you be and why?

I’d love to be Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, a true classic tale from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, my literary hero and inspiration. This book is one of my all-time favorites and the chance to become Holmes, the great detective would be simply awesome!

What are you reading now?

El Dorado, Search for the Lost City, by Australian author Ben Hammott, a great, sweeping story of adventure and danger, set across time and continents.

Favourite way to relax?

Either by watching one of my extensive collection of DVDs, or curled up in bed with a good book, but also by a peaceful walk with one or more of our family of rescuedogs, always including my very special epileptic dog, Sasha.

3 must have items if you were stranded on a tropical island?

The complete Sherlock Holmes short stories, Sasha the dog, (sort of my Dog Friday), and enough food and water to keep us going until a rescue ship arrives.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Obviously, a big thank you to you for taking the time to allow me to talk to your readers through this interview. Also to say what a pleasure it was to collaborate with you on the writing of SHARING HAMILTON. I never, ever thought I’d see my name on the cover of a historical romance book. Just shows how an author’s career can contain many twists and turns over the years.

I addition, I’d love to say a BIG thank you to my ever-growing readership around the world, in particular my constantly growing following in Australia, where my books, especially Sasha and The Mersey Mystery Series have been doing well in the last twelve months. Thanks also to my proofreader/researcher, Debbie Poole in Liverpool for all her hard work in helping me to create the books. I appreciate all she does.

Finally, here’s some further information and a link to my latest release, A Very Mersey Murder. I hope some of your readers might be tempted to give it a try.

A Very Mersey Murder

1966. England wins the soccer World Cup at Wembley. The same night, the body of a young barmaid is discovered close to an abandoned lighthouse near Liverpool. Two more murders follow, and all remain unsolved.

2005. Detective Inspector Andy Ross and his team are called in when a disturbingly similar series of murders begins in the same location. If their estimates are correct, Ross has one week to solve the case before the third Lighthouse Murder takes place.

Ross and Sergeant Izzie Drake return in a tense race against time, as they seek to identify and apprehend a vicious killer who seems to leave no clues and no evidence. The price of failure is death.

This is a standalone novel and can be enjoyed even if you haven't read other books in the series.

This is the universal Amazon link, from anywhere in the world

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Scene 3 of My 1894 New York Romance FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET

For Third Scene Thursday, here’s Scene Three of my 1894 New York romance FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET, Book One of the New York Saga.

It's 1894 on New York's Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. Vita goes from sweatshop laborer to respected bank clerk to reformer, helping elect a mayor to beat the Tammany machine. While Tom works undercover to help Ted Roosevelt purge police corruption, Vita's father arranges a marriage between her and a man she despises. As Vita and Tom work together against time and prejudice to clear her brother and father of a murder they didn't commit, they know their love can survive poverty, hatred, and corruption. Vita is based on my great grandmother, who left grade school to become a self-made businesswoman and politician, wife and mother.

Scene Three:

Vita hunched over her piecework, imprisoned in the numbing toil. A hairy hand clamped down on her shoulder. She looked up at Mr. Strozzoni, or “Wrench Neck” because of the way he strained his neck—a nervous tic or something. Sweat stained his celluloid collar. “Hey. A copper come lookin’ for you,” he rasped in his cigar-gruffened voice. “He wait for you outside.”
“What copper?”
He yanked her up by the elbow and dragged her to the door like he couldn’t get rid of her fast enough. Twenty rows of eyeballs followed her out of the workroom. She stumbled, dizzy with fright. Oh, no, Butchie got run in again? Her brother couldn’t stay out of trouble.
Wrench Neck shoved her out into the stairwell. “Don’ you come back here no more. You’re a thief. We don’ wan’ no thiefs here.”
Thief? She’d never stolen a spool of thread. Then it hit her—the blouses she’d dropped in the street. Someone must’ve turned them in—but who knew she’d dropped them?
It didn’t matter now. She was out of a job. Still in shock, she couldn’t think straight.
Her shoes clanged down the metal stairs. She went outside and squinted in the sun.
An imposing figure startled her. Those green eyes, it couldn’t be…the cop from this morning.
He stood before her, arms folded across his chest.
She turned, ready to bolt. But a silent command told her to stay put.
“You dropped some blouses on the street this morning.” His voice was gentler than this morning. So he’d found the blouses! “They have the factory label,” he went on. “I described you to the boss man. He told me he’d never seen you. But I could tell he was lying.” His arms unfolded. His posture relaxed. “I had to wait for you. Why are you out before everybody else?”
She stepped back. Her bottom smacked into the brick wall. “Why do you think? He just fired me. But I didn’t take your wallet. A street arab took it.”
He nodded. “I believe you. I’m not accusing you of anything.”
“Then why are you waiting for me?” She tilted her head, really curious now.
“I just wanted to find you.” He took a step forward. “Look, let me help you get another job. I feel responsible—”
She gaped up at him. The sun formed a halo of light about him. His jawline curved nicely, not too square. “No, you done enough already.” She turned away but needed one last glimpse of those green eyes. As she turned, she tripped over her own feet.
He grabbed her arm to steady her. “I’m just clumsy,” she stammered.
“It’s quite all right,” he said.
No one ever said quite, not around here. A smile frolicked on his lips, as if he knew she’d been staring. Crescent laugh lines cut into his cheeks.
“I really want to help you.” His voice softened with apology.
Shaking her head, she started to leave, but he walked beside her. She sneaked sideways glances at him. The planes of his face weren’t weatherbeaten like the railroad yard laborers. Black hair crowned his head in glossy waves. It reminded her of long-ago nights in Italy, the sky bejeweled with stars. A trimmed mustache rimmed his upper lip. Muscles bulged beneath his blue jacket. His graveness seemed to mask some deeper emotion. She sensed sadness in those eyes that held a spark of streetwise spirit.
Neighbors halted in their tracks and stared with narrowed eyes. Vita Caputo in trouble with the law now? She pictured them saying, Eh, the whole tribe’s a bunch of rowdies…over their purple wine tonight, Mott Street buzzing with gossip louder than the organ grinders. Head held high, she matched them cocked brow for cocked brow. But inside she went on praying—I need another job, I need another job!
“Will you tell me your name? Please?” He drew her from her thoughts. A shiver of alarm coursed through her. Should I tell him my real name or give him a fake one?
“It would be an offense to withhold your identity from a policeman.” He ended that with a smile that sent strange tingles through her belly.
“Miss Caputo. Now goodbye.” She didn’t want him calling her Vita.
His lashes blinked like bats’ wings. “Your father wouldn’t be Lorenzo Caputo, would he?”
“What if he is?” she shot back.
“Then your brothers are Bruno and Vincente.”
He knew them, all right, but not as friends, since they were just Larry, Butchie, and Vinny around here. But cops weren’t on her family’s list of friends, either. To them, cops rated lower than parish priests.
“Does that have anything to do with me?” She steadied her voice.
“No, but they’ve been booked for minor offenses before, and assaulting a policeman twice—my cousin Mike McGlory.” The stern tone returned as he swung his nightstick.
“I know what they did, and I ain’t proud of it,” she admitted. “But here I am, obeying the law, and I get kicked outta my job.”
Her family’s offenses ranged from starting a brawl at a cousin’s wedding to robbing geraniums to assaulting a cop. To them, the first two were none of the law’s business. The fight at the wedding was over whose wine was better. The flower-robbing, in Vinny’s eyes, was legit—“God put them here, so why should I pay for ’em?” was his reasoning. Simple Italian logic.
She looked up at the cop, almost hoping she’d trip again so he’d catch her. But he was still the leatherhead who put her out on the streets.
“I’m Tom McGlory, and I want to help you find another job. Where are you headed, Miss Caputo?” His question sounded innocent enough, but his butting in riled her. She took a deep breath to calm down.
She set her eyes straight ahead at the horse and cart parked by the grocer’s. “It’s none a your business where I’m headed,” she snapped. She didn’t trust cops. Maybe he wanted to use her for something. Cops bamboozled immigrants into doing their dirty work. She wasn’t falling for none of his lowdown schemes.
“Since your visit cost me my job, the only place I can go is looking for another one so I can eat tonight.” Why not sling some guilt his way? Maybe, if he was half human, he’d appreciate what she’d just gone through.
“I’m sorry for the trouble all this has caused you.” Again, his tone gentled. “I can talk to your boss. He should take you back. I’ll head back there right this minute and explain that you stopped a robbery and that’s how you dropped the blouses.”
“Don’t do me no favors, Officer.” She held up her hand. “You don’t owe me nothin’.” She glanced around for a clock so she could figure how much money she’d lost already. She wasn’t about to ask him for the time of day. She had to find another job before she lost a whole day’s pay. Forget a kitchen curtain—that got shoved onto the luxury list. They might have to give up eggs and eat stale bread for a while.
“Then may I escort you somewhere?” he pushed on, his voice casual, yet his eyes sparkled.
She knew hers didn’t, so she avoided his stare.
He gave her agita in her stomach. But he seemed so kind. She’d seen strongarms in action, and he wasn’t one of them. Still, she didn’t need his help. “No, I need to get myself into another wage-paying job. Nobody’s paying me to make chit-chat with a cop.” They halted at the corner as a streetcar rumbled past. “But I have one question first.”
“What is it?” His eyes lit up.
“Why would you wanna help me? I ain’t even Irish.”
She didn’t wait for an answer, cause she didn’t care. She just wanted him to think about it. She turned and walked away, hoping to lose him.
She wished she had a pocket full of rocks, to feast on a sausage sandwich and enjoy this rare stint of freedom. But forget it. Leisure—and big lunches—were luxuries she’d have to wait many more years to afford. Now she had to skip lunch until she found a job.
Walking toward the nearest factory, self-scolding comments fell from her lips: “You’re a fool, letting thoughts of this cop amuse you!” This fantasy was no different from her daydreams at the sewing machine to fight the deadening boredom. But at that rattling machine, she made her lofty plans. In her quest to get ahead, she attended neighborhood meetings for tenement reform with her cousin Baldo, the “mayor” of Mott Street. All the streets down here had unofficial mayors, businessmen on the lookout for the neighborhoods. Baldo, a barber, got along great with everybody. He and Vita badgered the ward heeler, the district boss, and sometimes even a sympathetic reporter for decent living conditions. But she had to do more.
She saw how bosses treated her family, how cops and judges took payoffs from politicians and let criminals off, and how slumlords made their tenants live six families to a flat. But hers was one of the blessed families on Mott Street. They had plumbing.
She dashed down Orchard Street, past the crowded tenements where the poorest souls lived. She had to end the dreaming and get back to the heat, the stench, the real world out there. Hunger for food replaced her hunger for reform.
She pushed Officer McGlory out of her thoughts. The face-off with the cop was over. But his presence still sent tingles down her spine.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

My Next Biographical Novel Release--FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE

I'm very happy to announce my upcoming release of FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE, about Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia.

Salem, Massachusetts witnessed horrific and shameful events in 1692 that haunted the town for three centuries. Accused as witches, nineteen innocent people were hanged and one was pressed to death. Judge John Hathorne and Reverend Nicholas Noyes handed down the sentences. One victim, Sarah Good, cursed Noyes from the hanging tree: “If you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink!” She then set her eyes on Judge Hathorne. “I curse you and your acknowledged heirs for all time on this wicked earth!” Hathorne was not only Sarah Good’s merciless judge; he also fathered her son Peter and refused to acknowledge him.

In 1717, Nicholas Noyes choked on his own blood and died. Every generation after the judge continued to lose Hathorne land and money, prompting the rumor of a family curse. By the time his great great grandson Nathaniel was born, they faced poverty.

Ashamed of his ancestor, Nathaniel added the ‘w’ to his last name. His novels and stories explore his beliefs and fears of sin and evil, and he based many of his characters on overbearing Puritan rulers such as Judge Hathorne.

When Nathaniel first met Sophia Peabody, they experienced instantaneous mutual attraction. Sparks flew. He rose upon my eyes and soul a king among men by divine right, she wrote in her journal.

But to Sophia’s frustration, Nathaniel insisted they keep their romance secret for three years. He had his reasons, none of which made sense to Sophia. But knowing that he believed Sarah Good’s curse inflicted so much tragedy on his family over the centuries, she made it her mission to save him. Sarah was an ancestor of Sophia’s, making her and Nathaniel distant cousins—but she kept that to herself for the time being.

As a spiritualist and medium, Sophia was able to contact and communicate with spirits. She knew if she could reach Sarah and persuade her to forgive Judge Hathorne, Nathaniel would be free of his lifelong burden.

Nathaniel finally agreed to announce their engagement, and married Sophia on July 9, 1842. They moved into their first home, The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts.

The Old Manse, the Hawthornes' first home as newlyweds

As success eluded Nathaniel, they lived on the verge of poverty. After being dismissed from his day job at the Salem Custom House, he wrote The Scarlet Letter, which finally gained him the recognition he deserved. In the book, he asks for the curse to be lifted.

But the curse still haunted him. On a visit to his  cousin Susannah Ingersoll at The House of the Seven Gables, Sophia spotted a judge’s gavel. Out of curiosity Sophia picked it up and a shock ran through her as if electrified. Susannah told her Judge Hathorne had used it during the trials.

The House of the Seven  Gables

Sophia urged Nathaniel to write a novel about the house, knowing it would be cathartic for him. While they lived in Lenox, Nathaniel finished writing The House of the Seven Gables. The Gothic novel explored all his fears and trepidations about the curse.

But he did not believe the curse could be lifted.

Sophia invited renowned spiritualist John Spear to The Gables. She explained that she needed to complete one final step to convince Nathaniel the curse was lifted.

John Spear urged Nathaniel to forgive Judge Hathorne. Nathaniel bowed his head and whispered his forgiveness.

Sophia Peabody's Family Home in Salem, Next to the Ancient Burial Ground, Final Resting Place of Judge Hathorne


I read several of his books and stories, to get a better background on him for my book. He wrote from the heart, about his true beliefs, and his loathing of how the witch victims were treated. He did consider it disgraceful, and it certainly was. He added the 'w' to his last name to distance himself from the judge. That tormented him and his family all his life. It must have been cathartic to him to have his writing as his outlet.
I live near Salem and have been to all the Hawthorne landmarks there, and in Concord. The House of the Seven Gables has been my favorite house in the world since I'm a kid. I've always felt a strong spiritual connection to Salem, and always wanted to write one of my books set there, and include the witch trials.


Feb’y 3, 1850 – another date I’ll never forget

Nathaniel entered the parlor as I sat by the fire darning Una’s socks. I looked up at him as he stood before me, eyes twinkling, shoulders squared, posture erect, and a smile upon his lips. Without a word, he rejoiced in some jubilant event, and I knew our worst days were behind us.

I stood and cupped his face in my palms. “You look so happy.”

“My Dove…” His voice broke with emotion as he grasped my wrists in his ink-stained hands and delivered the words I’d waited so long to hear: “I finished the book.”

My eyes filled with tears as a wave of relief washed over me. I dropped the darning and embraced him. We rocked to and fro, laughing, crying, sharing our mutual release of so much pent-up tension, grief, and frustration. “Oh, darling, I knew you could do it. I’m so proud of you.”

We caught our breath and sat side by side, thigh to thigh. “Will you read me the final chapters?” I asked.

“Are you sure?” Without awaiting a reply, he went to retrieve the manuscript. I tucked my feet under me and grabbed the coverlet, wrapping it round my shoulders. This is fiction, I reminded myself and determined to stay detached enough that it would not dampen my spirits, for I still floated on a cloud of happiness from his joyous news.

He returned, tossed another log on the fire, sat across from me, and cleared his throat.

Sparks showered the hearth as he began to read. His voice trembled, wavered, and shook as he took deep breaths between phrases. He reached the end, “And, after many, many years, a new grave was delved, near an old and sunken one, in that burial-ground beside which King’s Chapel has since been built. It was near that old and sunken grave, yet with a space between, as if the dust of the two sleepers had no right to mingle. Yet one tombstone served for both…it bore a device, a herald’s wording of which might serve for a motto and brief description of our now concluded legend; so somber is it, and relieved only by one ever-glowing point of light gloomier than the shadow. ‘On a field, sable, the letter A, gules’.”

He looked up at me, clutching the pages to his chest, holding his breath.

But I could not speak. I heaved a sob and tears spilled down my cheeks. I thought an ocean was trying to pour out of my heart and eyes.

He dabbed at my tears with his fingertips. “A positively hell-fired story, is it not?” His lips formed a tight line as he blinked away his own tears.

A headache began its invasion behind my eyes. As I staggered to my feet, pressing my hand to my forehead, he caught me. “I’ll put you to bed.” He swept me off the floor and carried me up the stairs, my slippers dangling from my feet. He rubbed my head in wide circles, as if he knew exactly where the pain was most blinding. He was my opium, my hyoscyamus, my mesmerist.

But when I woke the next morn, sun streaming into the room, snuggled in the warmth of my cocoon, I told myself it’s a novel, nothing ever happened this way. Pain free, I lay abed, allowing myself a few extra moments of luxury, and my mind wandered to our future. Would this book provide security, free us from debts, skimping, and the humiliation of endless borrowing?

So elated for him, I didn’t even mind when I overheard him tell James Fields, “It broke her heart and sent her to bed with a grievous headache, which I look upon as a triumphant success.”

James replied, “I exploded and went off like a sky-rocket after reading it.”

I knew in my heart The Scarlet Letter would make the world explode, go off like a sky-rocket—and break every heart along the way.

I was fortunate to get a private tour of the House of the Seven Gables when I was writing the book; two of the guides, Ryan Conary and David Moffat,  showed me around, and it was fabulous.
Click here to see their book about the house.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Meet Gifted Historical Author and My Friend Al Lohn--Check Out THE BEGGAR BOY

My friend Al writes heart-wrenching historical novels, and THE BEGGAR BOY is now in its second edition. Meet Al and Baapun, the beggar boy:

About Al

Al was born in 1934 on the outskirts of Cologne, Germany and educated in the art of apparel manufacturing. He worked until 1956 in his father's business. In 1956, he immigrated to the USA with his parents and younger brother. Drafted thirteen months later, he served in the US Army for two years stationed in Germany where he met his wife. After a fifty-year career in the apparel industry, he retired as corporate vice-president from the Spiegel group and turned to writing to fill his ample leisure time.

His extensive travel, during his 50-year career, took him around the world to five continents. The travels gained him a deep understanding of the world̢۪s cultures as well as their trials and tribulations. This, combined with his experience growing up in a war-torn country during World War II, and his military service, gave him enough stories and imagination to spin the yarn for his novels.

Al has eight published novels to his credit. The seventh is a sequel to his sixth  book. He just completed the manuscript for his eighth novel.

He resides in New Jersey with his wife of fifty-eight years where they enjoy their children and three grandchildren.


Dilip Lahiri, A.K.A. Baapun, is a young beggar boy from Dhaka whose life changes when a wealthy Sikh rescues him from an angry vendor, after stealing a piece of bread. Raised on beggar’s row, survival at all cost is his mantra. His journey from Beggar’s Row to stardom is paved with questionable dealings; smuggling, lusting for loose women, and an addiction to opiates. When Baapun falls in love with a beautiful young Chinese girl she tries desperately to pull him back from the abyss. A trip back to Dhaka’s Beggar’s Row, lands him in a coma. Two nuns from Mother Teresa’s order, nurse him back to health. Meanwhile, a newly appointed Interpol inspector, who is investigating one of Hong Kong’s organized crime bosses, gives Baapun an ultimatum; testify against the mob or go to jail. His friends and girlfriend, convince him to testify against the mob, which puts not only his life, but his new girlfriend’s life, in danger.

Check out Al's Other Books on Amazon

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