Uncaged Book Reviews

Page 1

ISSUE 64 | March/April 2022




n o te fr o m the e d it o r

M

arch/April Here in Wisconsin, winter keeps trying to make a comeback, and all it’s doing is bringing a season of mud for us. I hope to bring back the Life in Motion column next issue, as the weather gets better and work continues outside again with the horses and dogs. We have some great authors this month, from suspense to romance, from fantasy to historical, we have a bit of everything. We also have a fun short story from James Musgrave that you shouldn’t miss. We will be continuing with the “Buy 2, Get 1” promotion we’ve been running, with some changes for 2022. The promotion will only be for Full Page Ads, so if you buy 2, you will get one free. No other advertising will be eligible. With the issues selling out advertising more frequently, this gives more opportunities for all in advertising in the magazine. It really does help from a marketing standpoint, to have an advertisment run three months in a row - to repeat in the readers mind. You don’t just see a commercial on TV one time and remember it, right? So we will continue to try and provide the best bang for your buck and get the most eyes we can on your work. If you’d like to be a Feature Author, you can also fill out a form on the Reviews/Feature Info Page to request a Feature in 2021. Put in your top 3 choices and this is normally first come/first serve, but I do move around months to keep a good selection of genres in each issue. Soon I will also put up forms for Catch Up Features - these are

4| uncagedbooks.com

for past feature authors that have a new book releasing, and we can do a shorter feature, and also a Short Story Submission form. Any author submitting an approved short story receives a full page ad in the same issue. The new form for Short Story Submissions has been added, and a Catch Up form will come next. Enjoy the March/April 2022 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews. Stay safe and healthy.

X cyrene


contents feature authors Barbara Monajem 14 historical regency romance 28 40 64 76

Elizabeth Rose anicient historical romance

Issue 64 | March/April 2022

fangfreakintastic 132 Nathan Timmel crime thriller

guest columns With Your Muse 58 Writing W.L. Hawkin 98

Banned Books: A History of Censorship

Nadine Millard

128

Burn the Curry

C.A. Masterson

authors and their pets Feature Authors introduce you to 72 Uncaged’s their devoted writing buddies, and the devotion

historical romance

young adult fantasy

Jade Marshall

crime thriller

86

Jen Nash

102

Robert Buschel

114

V.P Morris

120

Freddy Cruz

motivational

Thriller

suspense

Amy Shannon D.A. Andrews

goes both ways.

short story 50 Valley of the Dogs James Musgrave

showcase 36 Robin Hosking 46 Tres Augustine Parker 84 Judy Warrenton 110 Joyce McLean 4 7 140 146 150

Note from the Editor Contributors|Partnerships Uncaged Reviews FangFreakinTastic Reviews Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews

Uncaged on Instagram

suspense

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

5



Contributors | Partnerships

Follow Uncaged on Facebook

Paranormal lover’s rejoice. Uncaged review contributors.

A little bit of everything. Uncaged review contributors.

If you’d like your banner here, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

7


upcomingconventions Uncaged will watch for any cancelations or modifications for the 2022 season. Please watch their websites for information as the dates get closer.

Lori Foster’s Reader & Author Get Together (RAGT) June 9–11, 2022; Cincinnati, OH http://readerauthorgettogether.com/

Book Bonanza July 8–9, 2022; Grapevine, TX https://bookbonanzaevent.com/

Lust in the Lowcountry Romancecon June 10–11, 2022; Charleston, SC http://www.litlowcountry.com/ Literary Love Savannah July 20–24, 2022; Savannah, GA https://www.facebook.com/literarylovesavannah/

Wild Deadwood Reads June 18, 2022; Deadwood, SD http://wilddeadwoodreads.com/

Sexy and Sassy Signing: Sinful Fairy Tales July 28–31, 2022; Norfolk, VA

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sass20-sinful-fairy-tales-weekendaffair-tickets-67925736707

8| uncagedbooks.com |






feature authors

Barbara Monajem

Elizabeth Rose

historical romance

Nadine Millard


BARBARA M ON A J E M

U

SA Today bestselling author Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. After publishing a middle-grade fantasy, she settled on historical mysteries and romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Often there’s bit of fantasy mixed in, because she wants to avoid reality as much as possible.

14 | UncagedBooks.com

Barbara used to have two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding and to succeed at knitting socks. She managed the first (don’t ask) but doubts


she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

Stay Connected

barbaramonajem.com Uncaged welcomes Barbara Monajem Welcome to Uncaged! You’re here to tell us about Love and the Shameless Lady, a book in your Scandalous Kisses series. Can you tell us more about this book, and what you may have coming in the near future? Love and the Shameless Lady is one of my favorite books for two reasons: first, because the heroine, Daisy Warren, is way out of her normal environment. She’s a disgraced lady who lives in a tumbledown inn. She bakes in the kitchen, serves ale to the sailors and smugglers, and plays the piano and sings rude songs for them. The second reason is because Daisy is also a writer. In her spare time, she writes romantic adventure stories with intrepid heroines who make their own happy endings. It’s often said to write what you know. I don’t quite agree with this (I’ve never lived in Regency England, nor have I served ale to smugglers, nor do I sing worth beans, etc.), but it is fun to write about writing, one aspect of life that I do know quite well. My upcoming book, The Infidelity Curse, will come out in late spring or early summer. The hero comes from a long line of Earls who were cursed with unfaithful wives. He tries his best not to fall in love with a lady touched by scandalous accusations. Of course, he doesn’t succeed—luckily, because the lady is just what

he needs. What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? The most difficult scenes are always the ones where I don’t quite know what should happen next. Sometimes I ponder for days. Other times I just start writing and see what happens, then go back and revise until I know what’s going on. The easiest scene is the first one in a new book. I adore new beginnings, and the first scene is always clear in my mind when I start. Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? I rarely have a favorite anything—there are too many lovely characters, books, foods, people, etc., in the world. However, I guess I would say Daisy Warren (mentioned above) is one of my favorites, as is Bridget O’Shaughnessy Black, who falls in love with Daisy’s brother Colin in The Rake’s Irish Lady. Also, I’m very fond of Noelle de Vallon, the daring Frenchwoman in The Smuggler’s Escape, because she’s the first historical heroine I wrote. Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about? Yes – Gloriana Warren, Daisy and Colin’s cousin. She is first introduced in Love and the Shameless Lady, where she’s quite obnoxious. It was a lot of work redeeming her in her own story, The Redemption of the Shrew. How do you come up with the title to your books? With difficulty! I come up with a bunch of terrible titles and then plead for help fixing them. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? I was a mail-order bride! Well, not in the traditional sense, but my husband did propose by mail. :) Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

15




| FEATURE AUTHOR | Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages?

books? Are you reading anything now?

A combination, I guess, because usually I start with a character in a particular situation that leads to a plot. I’m not fond of plotting ahead of time. I usually start writing and see what happens, which is inefficient but fun.

Ebooks are so convenient, especially in bed! I still read some physical books, though, because they’re easier to flip back and forth in. I’m not into audio because I really don’t like having earbuds in my ears. However, sometimes I’ll ‘read’ a long book via audio while driving. Right now, I’m reading a mystery by Cara Black.

What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working?

What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?

Reading. Reading. Reading, and some kinds of cooking. I like making soups, and I used to love baking, but now that I eat mostly low carb, baking is sort of depressing. :)

Thank you, thank you! Your kind words about my books are so inspiring. I’m available on Facebook, Bookbub, Goodreads, and Twitter, and of course via the contact tab on my website.

If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? No, no, no!! I enjoy all the seasons. How many hours a day do you write? This varies widely. Sometimes not at all, sometimes several hours. On average, how long does it take to write a full novel? Seven to nine months, but sometimes I start a story and then move on to something else, returning to the original story months or years later (such as The Smuggler’s Escape, which was published many years after I wrote it). I’m not very consistent, and because of this, I usually have two or three projects going at once so that I’m always making some sort of progress. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical 18 | UncagedBooks.com

Enjoy an excerpt from Love and the Shameless Lady Love and the Shamless Lady Barbara Monajem Historical Regency Disgraced lady Daisy Warren serves ale in a tumbledown inn, sings crude songs for the smugglers, and writes romantic novels in her spare time. Shunned by society, she’s resigned to her lowly life—until someone tries to kill her. Gentleman spy Sir Julian Kerr noses out seditionists and traitors. When he visits the inn to investigate two suspicious Frenchmen, he meets the lovely but hostile Daisy. He doesn’t intend to get involved with her, but he has no choice. He may save her life – but will Daisy’s bitter past allow her to risk love again?


| BARBARA MONAJEM | Excerpt Daisy Warren set her pen down with a heartfelt sigh. The Lady’s Ruin was her best novel yet. The plot and characters were so outrageous she felt sure they resembled nothing and no one in real life. Except perhaps Daisy herself, but she didn’t want to think about that just now. The novel was over and done with, and so was the smuggler who’d inspired it—dead, and richly he deserved it. Unfortunately, neither of these facts changed a thing about the life of a ruined lady. She bundled the pages, wrapped and sealed them, and addressed them to her publisher. In the morning, she would have it sent on the mail coach to London. She set it aside, went down to the taproom of the ramshackle inn where she lived, and indulged in a celebratory brandy. Tonight she would play the out-of-tune pianoforte and sing for the drunken patrons of the Diving Duck, while her mother turned in her grave. Tomorrow she would begin the sequel—The Lady’s Revenge. ~~~ Six months later… “He’s a good-looking man,” Sally said, wiping three tankards and preparing to fill them. “And one of your sort, too.” Daisy Warren glanced up from kneading the dough for the cottage loaves. “Not anymore.” She was a ruined woman, and therefore her ‘sort’—in other words, the gently bred—would have nothing to do with her. That didn’t stop her from taking a good long look at the newcomer, plainly visible through the doorway from the kitchen to the coffee room of the Diving Duck. Slouched in a chair, he was entirely at ease, his station in the world assured. A man would practically have to commit murder before being ostracized, whilst a woman had merely to—

She stopped that thought before it had a chance to grow into full-blown fury. Anger did no good at all. It changed nothing, except to make her feel ill. Sally rolled her eyes. “The gentry can’t all be prigs.” With practiced ease, she operated the tap with one hand and held the three tankards in the other. “Most of them are,” Daisy said, punching the dough hard. His fairish hair was a little too long, curling over his cravat. His other clothing was fashionable without being ostentatious, his only jewelry a ruby ring on his left hand. She thought his eyes were blue, but she couldn’t tell from this distance. God only knew why she found him so interesting. Perhaps because he brought a little culture, a little education, a little worldliness into this godforsaken inn. Mostly, Daisy was content with her life at the Diving Duck. The smugglers who frequented the place knew by now to treat her with friendly respect, and whenever she wanted to play a proper pianoforte or go for a bruising ride, her brother Colin’s estate wasn’t far away. She would never marry, never have children, but all in all— Drat, the newcomer had noticed her watching him. She glared and returned to kneading the dough. “Maybe this one ain’t so bad. I wonder why he’s here.” Sally headed for the coffee room. “I don’t care.” Daisy was tempted to close the door so she couldn’t see him and therefore he couldn’t see her, but no, she wouldn’t let any man’s appraisal discomfit her. She no longer minded the bold stares of some of the smugglers. They meant nothing by it. Daisy covered the dough with a cloth and set it aside to rise. The only true advantage to being ruined—and to leaving her brother’s home to live at a disreputable inn—was that she was learning how Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

19


| FEATURE AUTHOR | to cook and bake. A Warren doing menial labor! Her mother’s shroud must be twisted into knots by now. Sally returned with several empty tankards. “He’s on a riding tour, visiting Roman ruins.” “Is that so,” Daisy said flatly. A scholar, was he? Thanks to her late father, she had a soft spot for those studying the ancient world, but she knew better than to let nostalgia affect her. He might seem appealing, he might even be knowledgeable, but when it came right down to it, he was just another man. Sally never stopped moving. Already she was wiping the tankards preparatory to filling them again. A group of locals, most of whom were involved in smuggling to some degree, had come in for their customary darts and ale. “Finished with the dough, have you? Then if you don’t mind, Miss Daisy, I think those rock buns are about done.” It had taken Sally months to get used to Daisy in her kitchen, and only recently she’d begun to ask for help rather than waiting for Daisy to volunteer. She would never have done so if Daisy hadn’t proposed writing a cookery book, and said she needed to learn how to do things herself, not just watch how they were done. Daisy opened the oven and shoveled the little cakes out. They were likely to cool as hard as their names indicated, but tasty all the same. “They don’t look bad,” Sally said, “but what we really need is that recipe from Mr. Warren’s cook.” At least they weren’t burned, which they would have been if Sally hadn’t prompted her. Yet another reason why Daisy shouldn’t dwell on handsome men. The real reason, though—the most important one—was that if she let her thoughts wander in that direction, she might consider dallying with one of them again. No, she wasn’t that much of a fool. Once was enough. “Haven’t really tried, have you?” Daisy started. “Tried . . .?” She certainly had tried, and . . . Oh, Sally was still talking about rock buns. “Yes, I did my best to pry the recipe from my brother’s cook, but she says she’s never written it 20 | UncagedBooks.com

down. She won’t want me in her kitchen watching her make them.” “Tell her she has no choice,” Sally said. “If I was gentry-born, it would be do as I say, or else.” “I daresay, but she’s not my cook, and she’s been with the family for eons, so I couldn’t sack her even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. We’ll find a recipe elsewhere, or we’ll adjust yours until we get them just right.” Nothing like a nice, safe conversation about food to take one’s mind off a man. How could she be interested in men after what she’d gone through? It made no sense at all, and yet she kept on noticing them—their teasing grins, their powerful arms and thighs . . . She must be mad, but she couldn’t help it. “He’s not staying at the inn,” Sally said, “so you needn’t worry he’ll try tiptoeing to your bedchamber at midnight.” “I’m not worried about that,” Daisy scoffed. “The way he’s eyeing you, maybe you should be,” Sally said. ~~~ “Look, but don’t touch.” Sir Julian Kerr raised a hand of welcome to his host, who’d just walked into the Diving Duck. “Mr. Bennett! I hoped you would find time for a tankard of ale. Writing poetry is all very well, but one must have one’s recreation, too.” “No doubt, Sir Julian, but don’t turn my warning aside.” Mr. Bennett, the retired smuggler in his fifties who was Julian’s contact on his current mission, settled himself in a chair. “Just because she’s in the kitchen doesn’t mean she’s available.” Julian hadn’t the slightest intention of doing more than looking, but he couldn’t resist teasing a little. “Which, the redhead or the dark one?” “Neither.” Bennett called for a heavy-wet. “The redhead is the landlord’s sister, and the dark-haired girl, at whom you continue to stare with your mouth a-cock, keeps a knife and a loaded gun in her chamber. Not only that, if she should happen to screech, the entire household will rise up to defend her.” “Arousing my curiosity is not the best way to discourage me,” Julian said. Bennett went on as if Julian hadn’t spoken. “If you


| BARBARA MONAJEM | should happen to escape her fierce protectors, I would advise you to quit the country in a hurry. The last man who did so happened to die anyway, but at least he had a chance at survival.” “I’ll bear that in mind,” Julian said, his curiosity growing. The pretty redhead arrived with a tankard and a saucy grin. Julian wondered what the dark-haired girl’s smile was like. This mission, like most of them, was likely to prove tedious at best and distressing at worst, so why not ponder something more pleasant? The door to the inn banged open, and a little girl ran in. “Mum! Mum!” Tears ran down her face. “Belch can’t walk no more.” “What now?’ the redhead said. “I swear, that dog is ten pecks of trouble and no use at all.” The dark-haired woman came out of the kitchen. “What’s wrong with him, Jenny-love?” “He can’t walk!” The child led her out the door, while the redhead returned to the kitchen. Julian reached the window just in time to see the woman squatting in the dusty yard beside a spotted mutt. He recognized it as the three-legged dog he’d seen basking in the inn yard earlier. A friendly little creature; all that remained of one of his forelegs was a stump. The woman said something to the little girl, who raced back through on the way to the kitchen. “Mum, I need the tweezers and a strip of rag. And some brandy!” Brandy? Curiosity, spiced with a touch of libido, took firm hold, and Julian strolled outdoors to assuage it. The object of his interest now sat on the paving stones in the slanting light of the early evening sun. She caressed the creature with one hand whilst attempting to examine one of its hind feet. Every time she touched the pad, the dog flinched and evaded her grasp. “Blasted mutt.” “Allow me.” Julian sat on the dusty ground near the mutt’s head. The woman’s eyes met his, cool and unfriendly. “He may bite.” Julian smiled his unconcern. She didn’t return the smile, simply lifting a shoulder in a graceful, indifferent shrug. He let the dog get accustomed to his presence before attempting to touch it, then took over stroking it whilst holding it still with the other hand.

The woman took firm hold of its leg and examined its paw more minutely, murmuring to it all the while. The little girl came out again, carrying the tweezers and an earthenware mug. “Are we going to make him drunk, like when they dug the shot out of Ned’s bum?” The woman laughed. What a pity she was still inspecting the injured paw, or Julian might have had a glimpse of her smile. “It would certainly mask the pain, but no, Jenny, I fear he has pushed a thorn or splinter deep into his paw by walking on it. I’ll use it to clean the wound.” Granted, the brandy here was smuggled and therefore relatively cheap, but it wasn’t that cheap. An odd sort of barmaid, to appropriate the landlord’s brandy to clean a dog’s paw. Except, Julian realized, that she didn’t sound like a barmaid. She spoke like a lady; both her accent and her confident manner spoke of privilege. “Hold him firmly now.” She nipped quickly in with the tweezers and pulled out a long, vicious splinter of glass. “Where the devil did he pick that up?” she muttered. The accent of a lady and the vocabulary of a barmaid. Fascinating. She squeezed a little blood out and poured a drop or two of brandy on the wound. The dog yelped. “Hush. It’s good for you.” She poured once more, then took the strip of rag and bound the foot. “He’ll tear that off as soon as can be,” she told little Jenny. “Ask one of the grooms to carry him to the kitchen. Then stay with him and make him leave his foot alone for a half hour or so.” “I’ll carry him,” Julian said, promptly suiting action to words. “Lead the way, Jenny.” “Thank you, sir,” the little girl said. As they made their way toward the inn door, Julian glanced back. The woman was watching him . . . with interest, he thought, but then her eyes narrowed to cool slits. She picked up the cup and tweezers, and Julian went into the inn. After depositing the dog in a corner of the kitchen, he returned to the coffee room. The dark-haired woman hadn’t followed them into the kitchen, but Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

21


| FEATURE AUTHOR | she was no longer outdoors. He dusted his breeches and sat next to Mr. Bennett again. “Who is she?” he asked. “Can’t help being nosy, can you?” the older man said sourly. “In fact, I’ll wager it’s required for the job.” “Call it curiosity. I’ve had to develop it.” Julian had learned to let disdain roll off his shoulders. Everyone resented spies, including himself, but it paid well. “When I encounter something unusual, I’m obliged to learn more.” Mr. Bennett huffed. “Trust me, she’s nothing to do with your job.” He raised his voice. “Sally!” The redhead reappeared and curtsied. “Thank you kindly, sir, for helping out with that godforsaken mutt. I don’t suppose Daisy thanked you.” She grinned, and Julian caught amusement in her eyes. “She’s that unfriendly, sir.” “It was my pleasure,” Julian said neutrally. “Do I smell baking?” Mr. Bennett asked. “Your delightful rock buns, perhaps?” “Oh, you!” Sally said. “They’ve just come out of the oven, Mr. Bennett, but till we get a proper recipe, they’ll be hard as ever. Not fit for a cookery book, that’s for certain.” “Ask Miss Daisy to bring us some, will you?” Sally grimaced doubtfully but sashayed back to the kitchen. Miss Daisy? Another indication that the dark one was a lady. “Cookery book?” “Aye, Miss Daisy and Sally are collaborating to write one.” The dark-haired girl glided gracefully into the coffee room with a plate of rock buns and a scowl. She set them on the table and glowered at Mr. Bennett. “They’re fresh from the oven and haven’t hardened yet, so you’d best eat them quickly, al22 | UncagedBooks.com

though they don’t go at all well with ale.” Interestingly enough, her accent was now much more like that of the locals. “What do you suggest, Miss Daisy? Tea? By the way, allow me to introduce Sir Julian Kerr, a friend and fellow scholar. Sir Julian, Miss Warren.” Julian stood hurriedly and bowed. Daisy didn’t bother to curtsey. After another quick glare at Bennett, she put her nose in the air. “Delighted, I’m sure. Tea or coffee, suit yourself, just let Sally know.” Brusque to the point of rudeness, she stalked—still gracefully—back to the kitchen and slammed the door between the two rooms. What a pity. Despite her bad manners, she was still good to look at. “Who is she?” Julian asked again, reseating himself. “She seems to be a lady by birth, but if so, what’s she doing in an inn frequented by smugglers?” Mr. Bennett sighed. “Her name is Desdemona Warren, Daisy for short. She’s the sister of Colin Warren, who lives not far from here.” “I don’t believe I’m acquainted with her brother, but the name sounds familiar. Still, none of this explains why his sister—unmarried sister—resides in a disreputable inn.” He took a sip of ale and another bite of the rock bun. Miss Warren was correct. The flavors didn’t go well together. “Because when only eighteen years old, she dallied with a smuggler, and is now persona non grata with people of her sort.” Julian choked. “She what?” When his fit of coughing finally subsided, he said, “Her brother turned her into the street, I suppose.” “No such thing,” Bennett said. “Warren would prefer to keep her safe at home, but she chose to leave because the local gentry will have nothing to do with her. Here we’re not so fussy. Warren gives her an allowance and lets her go her own road.”


| BARBARA MONAJEM | Julian tried to imagine permitting a sister of his such freedom, and couldn’t. “No decent brother could allow his sister to live in such a place.” He recalled something Bennett had said earlier. “If she needs a gun and a knife by her at all times . . .” “She doesn’t, but I believe she was fearful at first that every Tom, Dick, and Harry would think her fair game. Now it’s a safeguard, and if it makes her more comfortable, so be it.” The kitchen door banged open. Sally came through with a tray of tankards. Behind her in the kitchen, Miss Desdemona Warren swept the floor with brisk, vigorous strokes. Unbelievable. “Besides that, they’re all afraid of her brother, who is a crack shot and an excellent fencer, and most of them wouldn’t want such a termagant in any case.” Julian watched Daisy sweeping until she shut the door again. He still wondered what she looked like when she smiled. The last thing Julian intended was to pursue the intriguing Miss Warren. In the first place, ruined or not, she was a lady, and he was an honorable man with no intention of marrying. In the second place, he was here to become familiar to the locals, so that if a certain French émigré and his servant reappeared, they would have no reason to consider him out of place. “Daisy! Daisy!” One of the locals pounded the table with his empty tankard. Another joined in. “Aye, play for us, Daisy!” Julian raised his brows at Bennett, who returned the slightest shrug. Daisy opened the kitchen door and scowled at them, arms akimbo. “I’m busy, ye louts. Do you or don’t you want bread to eat?” “Aw, leave the baking to Sally,” said the one who’d called her first. “Play for us, love.” Daisy rolled her eyes. “I’m writing a recipe. I can’t

play just now.” She rejected their pleas with a swing of the hips that would have done justice to any tavern wench. Julian wondered if perhaps he’d drunk too much ale. “Daisy! Daisy!” Soon they were all banging the tables with tankards and fists. Appalled, Julian felt himself darkening with rage. He caught the amused gaze of Mr. Bennett, who shook his head. “Leave them be.” Devil take him, he was as bad as the rest. Julian half stood, fists clenched. He would knock a few heads together, throw a few punches . . . A pair of firm hands pushed him into his chair again. Behind him, his fingers gripping Julian’s shoulders, Mr. Bennett called out, “Come, Miss Daisy, kindly grace us with your presence.” “Go,” Sally said from behind the kitchen door. “I’ll take care of the bread.” Daisy muttered something unintelligible. “I’ll take it out when it’s done. I’ll write down how long it took.” “But—” Daisy began. “Coward,” Sally said in a stage whisper. Julian shoved Mr. Bennett off and leapt to his feet. “You’ll regret this, Sally.” Daisy stormed into the room. ~~~ Pure humiliation. Daisy glowered at the drunken revelers. One would think she’d be accustomed by now, but no. She was used to playing for the smugglers. She even enjoyed it. Liked acting coy and mockthreatening Sally for teasing her. But to play and sing bawdy songs while Sir Julian Kerr watched . . . the mortification was enough to make her ill. Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

23


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Which was absurd, as she didn’t give a hedgehog’s arse what the man thought of her. She’d been nowhere near as mortified in front of the Frenchman who often came to stay for a few days. Perhaps this was because Sir Julian knew she was a lady, whilst the Frenchman didn’t. Curse Mr. Bennett for introducing her properly. Sir Julian rose to his feet upon her entrance, a fearsome scowl on his handsome face. Oh, God, he probably thought she’d been insulted. Well, she didn’t need defending. She would show him just how low she had become. She sashayed over to the frightful old pianoforte. She had become quite accomplished at swaying her hips like a tavern wench. Whoops and cheers greeted her. She ran her fingers up and down the keys and played the opening bars of “Watkin’s Ale,” which was the least bawdy song they might enjoy. It even had a moral. She led them through all eight verses, glancing after three or four at Sir Julian. He was slouched in his chair, eyeing her with . . . what? Disbelief? Disgust? She’d give him something to truly disgust him. She didn’t always take requests, but tonight, why not? Most of the men were smugglers, many of them sailors, so their taste in songs was horrid. With a flourish, she played the final chords of “Watkin’s Ale.” “What next, boys? Tonight it’s your turn to choose.” They roared with approval and shouted their requests. ~~~ Julian watched Daisy’s face for some sign of mortification. None. She was extremely competent on the keyboard, hardly glancing at it as she moved from one key to another, one vulgar song to the next. The instrument was out of tune, but that didn’t seem to matter. She smirked and winked at the men, jested at their requests, glowered at Mr. Bennett, and avoided Julian’s eyes 24 | UncagedBooks.com

entirely. Did that mean she was embarrassed by his presence? Perhaps. Or perhaps because he was so strongly attracted to her, he was seeking redeeming qualities where there were none. In any event, it was his mission to fit in, so he clapped and cheered with the rest, even joining in when he knew the lyrics. At last, when they were all uproariously drunk on songs and ale, she played “Hush-a-Bye Baby.” They all laughed. Evidently a lullaby meant she was done. She ignored the few desultory pleas for more, curtsied lavishly, and was gone. ~~~ Daisy grabbed her notebook, pen, and ink from the kitchen, snatched a slice of newly baked bread, and went upstairs without a word to Sally or anyone else. There. She’d degraded herself once again. It felt horrid, but it was a relief all the same. Since she could never prove herself to be good and worthy, she made a point of showing her worst possible side. She’d done a bang-up job of it tonight. Sir Julian’s gaze had burned into her the entire time. Was he likely to make an attempt to enter her bedchamber? She didn’t think so. He’d seemed appalled, but then again, men were strange creatures. She locked her door, then verified that her gun was loaded and set it beside her on the desk. One benefit of being bad: it gave her good ideas for her naughty heroines. Sir Julian was perfect inspiration for the next hero. She would reproduce the very scene below—the bawdy songs, the brooding blue eyes . . . except that the hero would treat the heroine with admiration and respect. Together, they would defeat the villain, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Daisy dipped her pen in the ink and began to write.



26 | UncagedBooks.com



ELIZABETH ROSE

E

28 | UncagedBooks.com

lizabeth Rose is the bestselling, award-winning author of nearly 100 books! She writes medieval, paranormal, small town contemporary and western romance. Elizabeth has been writing romance for over twenty-five years, her first book being published in 2000. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago and can be found in her ‘writing hammock’ in her secret garden during the summer months, creating her latest novel.


Stay Connected

elizabethrosenovels.com Uncaged welcomes Elizabeth Rose Welcome to Uncaged! You will be releasing, Highland Soul in March. Can you tell us more about this book and this new series for Dragonblade Publishing? Thank you for having me, it is an honor to be here. To answer your question, Highland Soul is book 1 of my new Scottish romance series called Highland Outcasts. From heroes to outcasts in the blink of an eye, these four men need to find redemption in order to be welcomed back into the clan. What did they do to be considered outcasts? All they did was to break a few tavern rules at the Horn and Hoof, owned by old Callum MacKeefe – the crazy grandfather of their chieftain. What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? Since the four books of the Highland Outcasts include other characters of my MacKeefe clan from some of my other series, the most difficult part is to tie it all in and make it work. I’m not one for keeping good records of things like age of characters, hair and eye color, siblings or children, or even names of castles, etc. Therefore, I have to go back and look up all the answers in my past books and that tends to be very time-consuming. The easiest part to write for me, is dialogue. I LOVE dialogue and use it heavily. Actually, I guess you could say I can hear the voices of my characters in my head, and just kind of take dictation and write down what they are saying to each other. Easy! Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write

about? One of my favorite characters from when I first created the MacKeefe clan is that rugged warrior Highlander, Storm MacKeefe. His story can be found in Lady Renegade – Book 2 of my Legacy of the Blade Series. He eventually is chieftain, and shows up in many more of my following series as well. As for the character that is hard to write . . . I’d have to say it is the one that won’t do what I want him or her to do, and who goes off in a direction all their own. Yes, I let my characters get away with it, and I can’t control them no matter how hard I try. A lot of times they surprise me with what they come up with regarding their backgrounds and plot advancement, or in what they say or do. There will be times when I get to the end of a chapter and wonder what the heck is going to happen next, because I honestly have NO idea. How do you come up with the title to your books? For me, the title of my book is always decided before I even start writing, and is also the last words of the book. Highland Soul came about because I wanted to tie in the fact that my heroine was the daughter of a cordwainer – shoemaker. (Sole – soul, get it? Plus, my hero has lots of soul.) Highland Flame – Book 2 of my Highland Outcasts Series incorporates the fact that the heroine is the widow of a chandler – candlemaker. (The flame is for the candle and also the attraction between the hero and heroine.) The rest of the series that will release this year consists of two more books. Highland Sky – where my hero needs to help the heroine and her clan repair thatched roofs, since he caught the roof of the tavern on fire. And the last book is Highland Silver. In this story, a silver chalice plays a big part of the plot. The hero has lost the chieftain’s chalice, and the heroine ends up having it. She’s reluctant to give it up and wears it connected to a chain around her waist. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

29


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Interesting question. I suppose my answer, not book related really, would be that I am someone who believes you can do anything once you put your mind to it. I’ve walked over hot coals barefooted three times, and have broken wooden boards with my bare hand during my martial arts days. I also climbed the peaks of Huayna Picchu, a mountain of the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, in Peru. We all have the ability to do what we want in life, but first, we have to believe it, not to mention believe in ourselves. The power of the mind is a great and valuable thing. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? For me, I tend write big plots, but also like to include scarred or complicated characters. It is hard to say which comes first since it is all entwined. For example, in Highland Soul, I knew I wanted to write about life in a medieval town and also share my extensive research of the construction and types of medieval shoes. Therefore, my character of the cordwainer’s daughter was created and the plot drew on that. In Highland Flame – Book 2 of the series, my heroine is the product of abuse. In selfdefense, she accidentally kills her no-good husband. (I told you, I like complicated characters.) So, of course, the plot derives from that event, and the fact the hero’s punishment includes escorting her to a priory, while her secret is kept from him. What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? In the summer, one of my favorite things to do is to relax in my hammock in my secret garden. Actually, it has turned into my writing hammock, and where my books are written during the warm weather. Otherwise, I am very much into genealogy and discovering my family roots. I spend a lot of my free time not only researching my family tree, but also restoring old photos of my ancestors. I LOVE old photos of people from the late 1800s, early 1900s. To me, each one is a story in itself, and the writer in me wants to know what that story is. 30 | UncagedBooks.com


| ELIZABETH ROSE | If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? Summer, summer, and more summer. Although I am also partial to autumn because of all the beautiful colors, my favorite season is summer. I love when things comes to life, and the feel of the sun warming me with a gentle, fresh breeze in my hair. I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and I’ll tell you winters are long here. It only makes me dream of summer even more. How many hours a day do you write? On average, how long does it take to write a full novel? This is kind of a tricky question to answer. When I am actively writing a book, I might write for seven or eight hours a day. I am a morning person and rarely write a word after 4 p.m. I can write a full-length book in anywhere from two weeks to a month. I know it sounds unbelievable and crazy, but it’s true. However, it only happens when I don’t have distractions. With distractions, it can take three times as long. No distractions means, I turn off the phone and internet and lock myself in a room. You are not going to find me cleaning house or even cooking during the time that book is being written. It is easier for me to keep my head in the story until it is completely done. My motto is ‘just do it and get it done’. I am not someone who can write a few pages a day. It’s all or nothing with me. And believe me, there is a lot of time when I am not writing at all! Of course, I have been writing romance for 26 years now, and have almost 100 books published. I have some experience under my belt, and have found my stride in writing. Everyone is different, but this is what works for me. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? As I get older it has become too hard to see the small print in paperbacks. E-books are ok, but my favorite is audiobooks. I can multitask that way and get more done. However, I only like audiobooks narrated by men. I tend not to read at all when I am Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

31


| FEATURE AUTHOR | in the process of writing a book or a series. (No time, since I am spending so much time creating a story instead.) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? If you are not familiar with my books, I tend to like to write strong females, alpha heroes (who are forced to channel their gentle side as well), and I can’t help adding humor to my stories too. I love when my characters can make my readers smile, cry, and most of all, laugh. Even though I write medieval and there are battles, I tend to focus on the personal lives of my characters and not the politics as much. I also like to sprinkle in medieval research that will make a book more interesting and enable my readers to experience what life in those times was like. (Without all the gross realistic things, of course. No one wants to read about that!)

Enjoy an excerpt from Highland Soul Highland Soul Elizabeth Rose Ancient Historical Romance Can a Highlander and a cordwainer’s daughter surrender to love, heart and soul? Welcome to book one in the adventurous new series Highland Outcasts from bestselling author Elizabeth Rose! From admired warriors to outcasts in a blink of an eye, these rugged Highlanders are out to find redemption.

32 | UncagedBooks.com

Gluttony, lust, pride, and greed, might sound like deadly sins. However, they are nothing compared to the wrath of Old Callum MacKeefe if you break his rules while drinking in his tavern! The Accused: Highlander, Gavin MacKeefe. He’s been called gluttonous because of his never-ending love of food and drink. The Crime: Gavin foolishly breaks some of Old Callum MacKeefe’s tavern rules and ends up as an outcast of the clan. His biggest offense is breaking rule number one: Never waste Old Callum’s precious, homemade Mountain Magic whisky. His second mistake was breaking rule number nine: Never step on, or soil Callum’s Cordovan leather boots. The Punishment: Gavin is sent to town to help the cordwainer’s daughter since her father was attacked and left for dead. He also needs to help construct and bring back a pair of Cordovan leather boots for Callum. If not, he’ll never be welcomed back into the clan. The cordwainer’s daughter takes him under her wing, but he discovers she needs his help with her family matters even more than he needs her. The Cordwainer’s Daughter: Davita is the cordwainer’s daughter, trying to save their shoe business in her father’s absence. She’s asked for help from the castle. To her dismay, they’ve sent her the Highlander, Gavin MacKeefe. She’s seen this man more than once drinking too much in the town’s tavern. In a desperate deal with the MacKeefes, she promises to keep him away from whisky and to help him construct a pair of Cordovan leather boots. It should be a simple task, but when he turns out to be her savior, she has a hard time letting him go. Two people from different walks of life find that they need each other more than they think. But can a Highlander and a cordwainer’s daughter find happiness together? One of them will have to give up


| ELIZABETH ROSE | everything they love if they are to make this work. Love acts in strange ways. Sometimes, it steals one’s heart and soul. Excerpt “Open the bluidy cell door and let us out,” shouted Gavin, his deep voice echoing off the cold, stone walls of the dungeon of Hermitage Castle. His long fingers wrapped around the rusty iron bars and he shook the locked door with angry fists. If his teeth hadn’t been clenched, he was sure they would have rattled in his head from the jolting movement. “It’s no use, Gavin, give it up,” complained his good friend, Cam, sitting on the dirty floor with his back propped up against the wall. The dungeon was attached to catacombs that snaked around underground, with tunnels leading deep and far, and even all the way to the other side of the border. It was a nasty place, and feared by all. Cam pulled his blond hair back into a queue, tying it with a leather band. Next, he pulled off one boot and rubbed his foot. Spotting a rat sneaking through the bars, he quickly hurled his boot at it. Missing the rat, the boot ended up hitting North instead. “Och, what was that for, ye fool?” North rubbed his knee. “I’m no’ the one makin’ all the ruckus. Ye should have thrown it at Gavin instead.” “Arrrrg!” bellowed Gavin, kicking at the locked door of the cell, and then cursing. “We’ve got to make noise if we’re ever goin’ to get out of here. We’ve been locked up for three days now. This is insane.” “Ye heard Ian tell us that they are waitin’ for Storm to return.” Nash stood in the shadows. He used an object to clean under his nails. “By the way, I agree with Cam, Gavin. Ye’re makin’ so much noise ye’re goin’ to wake the dead.” He cleaned off the object against his green and purple plaid – the colors that depicted they were from the MacKeefe Clan. “We’ve got to get out of here.” Gavin paced back and forth like a caged lion. “It’s just no’ right that we’ve been imprisoned in our own castle when we really didna do anythin’ wrong. We are heroes, no’ outcasts!” “I agree,” remarked Cam from the floor. “However, we’re in here, and that crazy old man is out there, de-

cidin’ our fates.” Clan MacKeefe was from the Highlands. They had a camp in the Grampian Mountains near Oban. However, they also had holdings in the Lowlands, near the border. Years ago, they managed to secure Hermitage Castle, taking it back from the English. That’s where they were now. “There’s nothin’ we can do about it until Storm returns,” continued Cam with a yawn, crossing his arms over his chest. “Ye ken we’ll rot here until Callum cools off.” “Aye,” agreed North, rubbing a weary hand through his long brown hair. He and Nash looked very similar, but were not identical twins. They both had long brown hair, but Nash was a little shorter, and his face was more rounded than North’s. Nash’s eyes were also hazel, while North’s were silver. Their mannerisms were quite different as well. “I now regret drinkin’ so much of Old Callum’s Mountain Magic. If I had kent he was goin’ to shove his silly rules in our faces, I never would have done it.” “Me, too,” agreed Nash. “But Callum has never done anythin’ like this before,” he pointed out. He continued to clean his nails. “I think he’s been upset about somethin’ lately,” said North. “He does seem more ornery than usual.” Cam nodded in agreement. “I think our chieftain, Ian, is ailin’,” said Gavin. “He looked ill and in pain to me.” “That would make sense,” said Nash with a nod. “Callum is worried about his son.” Gavin stopped in his tracks and looked over at Nash, surveying what he was doing. “What’s that?” he asked. “I said that would make sense.” “Nay! I mean . . . what’s that in yer hand, Nash?” Gavin couldn’t believe his eyes. He hurried over to him and gripped Nash’s wrist, holding it up for the others to see. “I dinna believe it.” A dirk reflected in the dim glow from the light of the torch burning outside the cell. Gavin’s jaw ticked in aggravation and he tried not to explode. “Ye have a bluidy dirk,” he said through his teeth. “Ye’ve had Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

33


| FEATURE AUTHOR | it all along.” “Aye,” Nash answered. “It’s the one I always hide in my boot. Ye ken that.” “He has a dirk?” asked North from the front of the cell. “Aye, he has a dirk,” Gavin repeated, his fingers gripping tighter around his friend’s wrist now. “Yet, he didna think to mention it to us three days ago.” “What?” This news actually got Cam off his arse. He jumped up and headed over to them. North watched from over by the door. “Brathair, we could have used yer blade to pick the lock and get the hell out of here by now. I canna believe they missed yer blade when they removed all of our weapons before throwin’ us in here.” “Leave me alone. All of ye.” Nash pushed Gavin, and pulled his hand back, still clenching the small blade. “It doesna matter. We’re outcasts now with nowhere to go. If we had used it, we’d be on the run for the rest of our lives.” Nash bent over to replace the dirk in his boot. But before he could stand back up, Gavin tackled him and brought him to the ground, punching Nash in the face. “Blethers, Gavin, ye’re goin’ to hurt my brathair.” North dove atop the pile, struggling with both of them. A sea of green and purple plaid got tangled around their legs as they rolled over and over in a heated struggle, fighting for the blade. “Stop it,” said Cam, but of course they didn’t listen. So, Cam put his fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly to get their attention. “What is it?” growled Gavin, looking over his shoulder, but continuing to fight. His long, black hair fell over his eyes. With a shake of his head, he flipped it back over his shoulder. “Fightin’ isna goin’ to get us out of here,” stated Cam, not even getting excited. Sometimes, Cam was a little too calm and Gavin didn’t think it was normal for a Highlander to act this way. “I hate to say it, but Nash is right. That dirk is of no use to us in our situation.” “Then mayhap I’ll use it to slit the fool’s throat instead,” shouted Gavin, his anger out of control 34 | UncagedBooks.com

now. Never would any of them intentionally hurt each other, but three days in the bowels of the castle with very little to eat or drink was making Gavin insane. His stomach growled, and his mouth was so dry that he could barely swallow. God, he needed whisky. “Get up, all of ye,” a low voice split the air. They all turned their attention to the cell door, not even having heard anyone approach since they were so busy fighting each other. “Storm!” cried Gavin, jumping to his feet. “We’re more than happy to see ye.” “Finally. Get us out of here,” added North. “Callum is playin’ silly games and yer da is goin’ along with it,” explained Cam. Their other chieftain and laird, Storm MacKeefe, stood outside the cell with one of his guards. He, at one time, had long, bright blond hair, but through the years it had slowly started to show signs of gray. “Unlock it,” he commanded with a nod, and the guard did as ordered. “Guid. Ye’re lettin’ us out.” Gavin was the first one to the door. “No’ so fast.” Storm held up his palm and stepped into the cell, stopping in the doorway to keep any of them from exiting. “I ken ye four dinna feel ye deserve to be here and, honestly, I have to agree.” “Then what’s the problem?” asked Cam anxiously. “Let us go.” “I canna do that,” said Storm, pressing his lips together and shaking his head. He genuinely looked sorry. “Why no’?” asked Nash. “Ye’re our laird as well as Ian. Besides, ye’re our friend.” “I am, but I am also outvoted two to one by my da and grandda.” “Callum isna our chieftain. He has naught to say in the matter.” Gavin was adamant about this. “Actually, he does,” said Storm with a shrug of his shoulders. “Ye see, he is the decidin’ vote whenever my da and I disagree on somethin’.” “This is crazy.” Nash slapped the wall. “This has never happened to any of our other clansmembers. Why us? Why now?” “Leave us,” Storm said to the guard with a nod of his head. Once the guard left, Storm moved further into the cell to talk to them quietly so as not to be over-


| ELIZABETH ROSE | heard. “I didna want anyone in the clan to hear this, but my da hasna been feelin’ well lately.” “He’s no’?” asked North. “I thought so. How bad is it?” asked Gavin. Storm shook his head. “It’s no’ guid, I’m afraid to say. He’s seen several healers, and even the old gypsy, Zara, but none of them can seem to help him. He grows weaker every day, and some days it seems he forgets he is the leader of this clan. All he wants to do is sleep and rest. My mathair has been worryin’ so much that I’m afraid her health might be sufferin’ next.” “Och, we had no idea,” said Nash. The moods of the men in the cell suddenly became sullen. “I’ve made him a promise to keep things in order in case of his death,” Storm explained. “Death?” gasped Nash. “Is Ian really dyin’?” “We dinna ken,” Storm answered. “Ye see, no one can figure out exactly what is wrong with him. Anyway, I didna want to worry him further, so I agreed to do anythin’ I can to ease his mind and lift his spirits. My poor mathair tries to hide it from me, but she cries all the time.” “So keepin’ Old Callum happy is the way to ensure some peace for Ian and Clarista both,” said Gavin, seeing where Storm was going with this. “I’m sorry, boys. Just bear with it. I am doin’ everythin’ I can to help ye. I’ve had a talk with both my da and grandda. If ye each complete a mission of Callum’s choice, ye’ll be happily welcomed back into the clan.” “Damn it, Storm,” spat Gavin, hitting the bars of the cell, making them rattle. “This isna fair and ye ken it.” “They’re just makin’ an example out of us, and I dinna like it,” Cam agreed with Gavin. “Please, just do it and dinna cause trouble,” said Storm. “It will be over soon. It will also be the best thing for ye, as well as for the rest of the clan,” explained Storm. “We dinna want to do anythin’ to upset my da further.” “Ye mean Callum,” scoffed North, looking the other way. “What is it we have to do?” asked Nash curiously. “If Callum is decidin’ our fates, there is no doubt it will be somethin’ stupid,” spat Cam. “Now, that’s no’ fair either,” said Storm with a scolding look.

“Sorry,” grumbled Cam. “I just want out of here.” “We all do,” said Gavin. “Storm, can ye at least assure us that whatever Callum decides as our punishments, it willna be too . . . too humiliatin’?” “Aye,” agreed Nash. “After all, everyone just started to see us as heroes.” “Well, we wouldna want to ruin that reputation now, would we?” asked Storm with a chuckle. Storm MacKeefe was a legend throughout the land, and he was used to being a hero. Gavin wasn’t sure he understood how they felt. “I’ll do my best,” said Storm. “Now, let’s go up to the great hall where I will start the trial.” “Trial?” Gavin’s head snapped up. “Ye canna be serious. We’re bein’ tried for spittin’ and drinkin’ too much whisky?” “Aye. We didna commit any real crimes,” added Nash. “We didna even kill any of the MacGregors.” “Dinna worry, I’ll take care of everythin’,” Storm assured them. “My da just wants all to go smoothly, so that is what we’ll do. Between ye and me, I think he just wants to instill fear into the rest of the clan. Then, once he’s gone – if he dies, no one will even think to cause trouble.” “Do ye really think Ian is goin’ to die?” asked Nash once again. “I hope no’,” Storm answered. “Does anyone else think it’s odd that Ian is the one dyin’ when Callum should have been dead long ago?” Cam scratched at the stubble on his cheek and looked the other direction. “Ye ken the old man is goin’ to live forever.” North added his thoughts to the conversation. “Dinna forget, that is my grandda ye boys are talkin’ about,” Storm said, stopping their idle chatter. “He’s right. Let’s go.” Gavin pushed past Storm and led the way out of the cell. “I just want this done and over with so I can get somethin’ to eat and drink.”

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

35


showcase Robin Hosking

Loving Life Loving Life

Robin Hosking Poetry

held your head high and confidently started walking on your way, with a smile on your face and a twinkle in your eyes. I stood there quietly watching with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face, for although you could not see me you heard my plea for you grace Loved

From poet-author Robin Hosking comes a heartfelt anthology of poems of inspiration and enlightenment in “Loving Life”. Through these verses, she reminds readers that everyone is born to love. People are never without love as love is a part of each one. She believes that if people love, they live; if people stop loving or turn away from the love offered to them, they die. Through the light of love, everyone will realize that love is something they don’t choose, because it’s already a part of them. Even when all they seem to see is doom and gloom, there love is.

You welcomed me into this world, you held me in your arms and promised to love me always We welcomed each other into our lives, we held hands and made a vow of everlasting love I was there to welcome him into this world, I touched his hand and promised to always show him love. I was there when you left this world, I held your hand of unconditional love as you said goodbye You were there to greet me as I returned home, you welcomed me with your lovely smile and open loving arms, to receive me and guide me once again to our loving Heavenly Home. What I Will Miss

About A Plea From A Prince I felt your pain, I’ve felt your tears I heard your cries, I held you close, I stood by your side. I whispered to you, all will be well, I am here with you now. So, hold your head high, wipe your tears and continue on once more. You stood tall, sighed took a deep breath. Then you sniffled, wiped your tears, 36 | UncagedBooks.com

To see your face, our walks down to the lake just to complain Your laugh, your smile, and our little game Your sweet way of calling me auntie Our dancing, and your style Never having to say goodbye I know you loved me, but I think I loved you more than you knew


Robin Hosking is a spiritually intuitive Canadian born poet, on a mission of love. She has previously published two other books: “Seeing Life: Poems of Empowerment and Self-Confidence” and “Living Live Poems and Reflections”. www.robinhosking.com Issue 63 | March/April 2022 |

37




NADINE MILLARD

N

adine Millard is an international best-selling author hailing from Dublin, Ireland. Having studied and then worked in law for a number of years, Nadine began to live her dream of writing when she had the third of her three children. She released her debut novel in 2014 and has been writing ever since. When she’s not writing she can be found reading anything she can get her hands on, ferrying her | UncagedBooks.com three 40 children to school and clubs, spoiling her cat,


her dog, and snatching time with her long-suffering husband!

Stay Connected

nadinemillard.com Uncaged Welcomes Nadine Millard Welcome to Uncaged! You will be releasing, A Springtime Scandal with Dragonblade Publishing. Can you tell us more about the book? Is this part of an ongoing series? Thanks for having me! Yes, I’m so excited to release this book. It’s Book One in A Lord For All Seasons based around four sisters who each find love in spring, summer, autumn, and winter respectively. I absolutely loved writing this one and I think readers are going to love it, too! What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? The banter between my characters all comes easiest to me. I sort of just let them run with it – sometimes I surprise myself with where the dialogue takes me! I’d say the hardest scene in A Springtime Scandal was the first spicy one. In historical you have to be careful to keep things relatively realistic, so I need to think carefully about setting the tone and how the characters would react and interact afterwards. Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about? I honestly think The Templeworth sisters from this new series are my favourite. I absolutely love their relationship with each other, and they have such distinct

personalities that bounce well off each other. I have five sisters of my own so I definitely drew on some experience when writing their relationship – and their bickering! How do you come up with the title to your books? I have no idea lol! Usually, I’ll start a book by imagining one scene – one scenario that pops into my head and a whole story or series will come from that. It’s aways idea first then title to match. For A Springtime Scandal, I knew I wanted to do a series about siblings, then the seasons felt like a really fun way to give them all their spotlight. So the titles came from there. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? Okay, this was a LONG time ago but I used to be a belly dancer! I did gigs, shows and everything. Sadly, I absolutely do not have it anymore but it was definitely fun while it lasted! Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? It depends on what I’m writing. So in Highway Revenge, I knew I wanted to flip the script so to speak, and have a female highway robber so the plot came first. But it developed into a series so the second and third books were definitely more character centric. In my Royals of Aldonia series, the focus was very much character first. In that I knew I was writing about sibling royals and their plots came secondary to that. What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? Reading is my first love, definitely. I can’t sleep at night without reading at least a few chapters and I’m not at all fussy about the genre! But I have three kids, a dog, and a cat so between school runs, writIssue 64 | March/April 2022 |

41


| FEATURE AUTHOR | ing, and all of their (many) activities, free time is scarce on the ground! If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? Winter! Not only am I totally Christmas obsessed but my birthday is winter and I have a deep, abiding love for gingerbread! I also prefer cold weather to hot and I LOVE snow. Also, Christmas movies are my greatest love. How many hours a day do you write? On average, how long does it take to write a full novel? I usually get five hours at least done. And I write quite a lot at the weekends. It definitely depends

42 | UncagedBooks.com

on the novel, I think. Or even just how easily I connect with what I’m writing. Sometimes the words just flow from me otherwise I really need to dig deep for it! Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I don’t listen to a lot of audiobooks really. I absolutely love ebooks for how accessible they are and how I can have so many of them on my kindle. But nothing beats the smell of a book so I would say my heart belongs to paperbacks! I’m currently reading The Nightingale for my book club which I’m really enjoying. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?


| NADINE MILLARD | I would like to say first and foremost – thank you! When I was a little girl sitting under my covers with a torch so I could read past my bedtime, I never dreamed I would be a woman who wrote her own books. And none of that would be possible without my wonderful readers. I truly appreciate each and every one of you.

Enjoy an excerpt from A Springtime Scandal A Springtime Scandal Nadine Millard Historical Romance Releases March 15 Elodie Templeworth has always been the good sister. The well-behaved sister. The sister on whose shoulders the fate of their family rested. With three incorrigible younger siblings, Elodie has always made sure she was perfect, above reproach with not a hint of scandal attached to her name. And she was doing a wonderful job of it, too. Until him. Christian Harrison, Viscount of Brentford could think of little worse than being stuck in some small, country hamlet with nobody and nothing to entertain him. The beautiful Elodie Templeworth had caught his eye. But after a short time in her company he realized that even beauty couldn’t make up for boring, pious purity. An unfortunate misunderstanding leads to a potential scandal for Elodie and Christian leading Christian to discover that all is not so innocent and demure with the fiery Miss Templeworth. And he’s more than a little intrigued by the passion lurking

beneath her rigid composure. Not enough to help her out of a sticky situation though. He’s ready to wash his hands of Elodie, her family, and the madcap town they all live in. But Elodie has different ideas. With little options left available to her, she decides the viscount is going to help her escape her village, and the consequences of their actions, with or without his knowledge. Their forced proximity isn’t what either of them wanted, but as time goes on, and attraction grows, perhaps it’s not so bad after all. Excerpt “Sh-should we eat?” she asked trying and failing to sound nonchalant. “Should we eat?” Had he yelled, Elodie would have felt rather miffed. But his voice was low and deathly quiet, and infinitely more intimidating because of it. “Aren’t you hungry?” He stared at her, a scowl darkening his usually bright blue eyes. “Miss Templeworth, have you completely taken leave of your senses?” “No, I just –“ “You just endangered yourself. That’s what you just did. Do you have any idea what might have befallen you if –“ “If what?” she asked when he drew to a sudden stop. “If I were less than gentlemanly, Miss Templeworth.” Elodie could only imagine that she looked as sceptical as she felt for his frown deepened further still. “You do not agree that I have acted the gentleman?” he asked and seemed genuinely astounded. Perhaps a little hurt. “Well, it’s just that you aren’t making this very easy or pleasant frankly. And –“ Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

43


| FEATURE AUTHOR | “Easy?” he spluttered. “Pleasant? What would you have me do, Elodie? Fall to my knees and thank the gods that I have a runaway madwoman for company?” “That’s not very gentlemanlike,” she chided and then wondered if someone’s head might actually explode in anger, for the viscount looked as though that were a real possibility right now. She listened, grudgingly impressed that he seemed to know so many curses in so many languages. At least, she assumed he was cursing based on the English ones that she understood and most certainly did not approve of. Swearing in the company of a lady was definitely not gentlemanly though it seemed prudent not to mention that at the moment. After an age, he calmed. Throwing his head back and whispering what sounded like a another prayer for patience, he finally levelled her once more with his ice-cold stare. “You have no idea the depths of ungentlemanly behaviour to which men can sink, Miss Templeworth. If you did, you never would have taken such a foolish risk.” Elodie felt a shiver of fear at his words. She wasn’t quite so naïve as he seemed to think, but she was aware that she’d lived a rather sheltered life, too. Nevertheless, no matter what he thought of her sense and intelligence, she wouldn’t have gotten into just anyone’s carriage. She trusted the viscount. Ironically, given that she’d only ever had the wits kissed out of her by one man, and it was he. But still. Some instinct told her that underneath the charm and rakishness, he was at least dependable. Perhaps not as honourable as she would have liked, considering he’d run away and left her to deal with the fall-out of their unfortunate courtyard interlude. But then it was only fair to acknowledge that nothing had happened between them – not then, anyway. And it was someone with a loose tongue and perhaps even malicious intent who’d gotten them into this sticky situation in the first place. Her rambling thoughts came crashing to a halt when the viscount suddenly prowled towards her, stopping only when he loomed.

44 | UncagedBooks.com

She should probably be intimidated. But truth be told, he smelled so deliciously masculine that feeling scared was the last thing on her mind. If this kept up, she’d replace Hope as the family’s shameless flirt. And that simply wouldn’t do. She was still hoping that she could salvage her reputation and family name after all of this. Lying low in London until the Season started in earnest was a sure-fire way to ensure that the gossip around her and Lord Brentford die down, that poor Philip would have the dignity of people not knowing that she’d run rather than accept a proposal, and keep her safe from uncles and cousins and anyone else who might paw at her. All in all, she convinced herself – albeit a little feebly – this truly was the best course of action. But she still needed this brute’s cooperation. Steeling herself to argue with whatever he was about to toss at her, Elodie lifted her eyes to clash with his own icy blue. But as she gazed into the cobalt depths of his glare, she couldn’t quite seem to remember how to form an argument, or even a coherent thought. What was this – this thing that crackled between them every time she looked his way? What was it that made her feel hot all over, even as her skin broke out in gooseflesh? Why could she suddenly only remember the feel of his impossibly strong arms wrapped around her? The feel of his demanding kiss? The wicked pleasure of his seeking tongue? In some, small part of her mind she noted that as they stared at each other, his expression changed from angry to hungry, a sudden blue flame igniting in the depths of his eyes. Without conscious thought, Elodie felt her body sway toward the heat of his. And for a moment, she thought he would once again take her in his arms and kiss her. The desire for him to do so took her by surprise. This man, in only a few days, had made her question everything she’d ever known or thought about men. About life.


| NADINE MILLARD | Always so pious, always so sure that intimacies were a cross for a woman to valiantly bear, she now found herself quite desperately wanting them. Closing her eyes, she prepared for what was sure to be a spectacular kiss. She tilted her chin, anticipation making her whole body tingle, and waited…and waited… Nothing. Frowning, she opened first one eye and then the other to see that he’d taken several steps away from her. “Your food will be cold,” he said stiffly, not a hint of the earlier heat present in his eyes or his tone. “Come. Eat. We’ll discuss this rationally when you’re better rested.”

Don’t miss these titles:

RELEASES SEPT. 27 PREORDER NOW

Issue 63 | March/April 2022 |

45


showcase

Tres Augustine Parker The Power of Poetry’s The Power of Poetry’s

Tres Augustine Parker Poetry Inspired by love and tragedy, this poetry collection is a heartfelt rendition of how a man found strength, hope, and love with the woman who became his light and inspiration. Though he didn’t get more time with her as she’s gone too soon, she continues to be his guide and gift, immortalizing forever with her. “I’ve embraced all of my tragedies on my journey to harmony. I’m at peace internally. My mind finally manifest what my eyes can’t visibly see. I shall love you for all eternity. You shall never fade away. You are forever immortalized in my memories. “

Excerpt No Rush I’d rather be with you And no one else. Through sickness and in health. You take my mind off of all the stress. you motivate me to be the best. I just wanna be there for you. I don’t wanna move too fast. I’m quick to make rash decisions like Dine N Dash. 46 | UncagedBooks.com

I don’t want to blow your head up because you might end up being fed up. Now we’re both on edge, and about to clash. Let’s take it slow and steady. You can let me know when you’re ready. Now you’re moving at a more comfortable pace. There’s no need to rush or be in a hurry, To scurry and find yourself a soulmate. Let Love find you. your heart will navigate.

Have you ever seen life through both lenses? Sometimes what captivates the eyes is not as appealing as too what’s in your heart. It’s your destiny to experience the most marvelous things with such a limited amount of time. I am Darkness. I am light. Sprout wing and fly, But first love yourself. Growth is a natural high. “The only thing scarier than death is not fulfilling gods promise for your life”




shortstory Valley of the Dogs by James Musgrave


| SHORT STORY |

Valley of the Dogs By James Musgrave Lady Gaga’s dog, Gustav, speaks out after Hollywood dognapping. To get you into the atmosphere of what my life is like, I’ll take you to a scene earlier in the day it all went down. As dogs know best, shit does roll downhill. And we dogs are at the bottom of that hill. It was an Ash Wednesday morning, and me and my cohorts, Koji and “Miss” Asia (she’s the alpha female around these here parts), were getting our ashes from Cowboy. He’s a born-again, New Age Catholic, so we have to suffer for it. He even has this giant red cross painted on a rocket ship fuselage hanging up in his room! Asia, of course, is his pride and joy. Because gays must have a thing about female dogs or something. Can you tell I have a bone to pick with fancy ass bitches? Both of them—human and canine. Asia sleeps with Lady HaHa, or GaGa, or Raja (never can get human names straight) at night, while Koji and me get stuck with the Cowboy. I call him Cowboy because he wears that dumb Howdy Doody hat, and his outfits are color-coordinated by John Wayne Gacy’s Pogo the Clown alter ego. Get my drift, buck-o? Our humans are certified whack-jobs. Funny thing. More of us dogs are learning the talking gig every day. Who wouldn’t learn to talk, with all of your podcasts blasting out all over the place? CNN at the airports, media everywhere; in your toilets, in the shower stalls, up your asses, if you could get enjoyment out of it. Dogs and cats will be running things down toward the end of times. You wait. Miss Asia and Koji are mute as stones. As deaf to my world of angst as a dog biscuit or a Cowboy’s hat. Or, one of GaGa’s steak dresses. Anyway, how long’s it been since you’ve been in the wild, dude? The real wild, not back-packing or celebrity hiking. Our species has always had one foot in the wild, even when you dress us up like you do. I’m the only one in this family who can speak and think in educated language, in real, philosophical words. 50 | UncagedBooks.com

Back to Miss Asia. The star of this freak show, our wealthy owner LaLa, gives Asia, the prima donna, her own Instagram page. And she holds Asia in her arms on the cover of Elle or Bazaar. Her small, black, and shinedup body gets greased for the cameras. They even dilate her adorable pupils with drops of Belladonna. She was the first French Bulldog bought by YaHa, and Asia told us she used to get baked with our owner back when she got lit up on ganja like a Christmas goose, while she wrote those first hit songs. “Bad Romance” and “Alejandro,” which she wrote the first year she bought me. After that re-make movie about the drunken Cowboy singer, Miss RaRa said she wouldn’t get high any more. Good. She already lets Asia sleep on her Fendi Peek-aBoo bag, wearing a pearl necklace. Me and Koji, on the other hand, are lucky if we get ten minutes of rack time on the Cowboy’s treadmill, or he lets us watch Earthquake Calhoun wrestle on the oldie’s computer station. We also got our balls whacked-off. Cowboy got that duty. I’ll say this for him, he can cry at the drop of a hat. Never see many humanoids do that, especially male ones. But he does. Cried over us getting our balls whacked off, just because our masters can’t respect free sex in nature. Don’t get me started about Asia. Okay, so you get too much time on your hands when you’re owned or employed by a multi-grammy-winning artist, full of money, who has about as much common sense as a soggy dog biscuit. And you’re stuck in lockdown with them during a pandemic. You listen, as she explains to you, waiting to go inside the studio in Hollyweird, to record her albums, and she talks about how “dogs are smarter than people,” and then I begin to think that she’s coming to her senses. Naw! Because she turns around and buys Ass-kiss a new diamond collar and yoga pants, and we two boys get bupkis. What a life. These two humanoids. They’re either crying about how everything sucks, or jumping around and dancing like maniacs. I’ve never seen these humanoids do anything really dog-daring, like sprint after a kid on a bicycle, or chase down a neighbor’s cat. Did I already tell you about the Cowboy’s room, especially on the day it all happened? As I said, it was Ash Wednesday, and Cowboy was telling us about how we all—humans and dogs—have to die and that it was all right because we’re immediately turned into stardust. Shot right back up there into space, I guess. Now that’s


| JAMES MUSGRAVE | not how dogs think about heavy shit like that. We believe our Poet Laureate, Allen Ginsberg, and his masterpiece, and our theme song, “Howl.” Now here is some real philosophy: “What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! --and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?” Not during this lockdown. No way, Jose. Nobody’s shopping like that, Allen. We’re stuck with GaGa and Cowboy and Thai food home delivery. I hate Thai. Are you laughing yet? In that totally humanoid way you have, with only two ways of finding humor? One way is any expulsion of air from any of your orifices, which immediately sends you into a laughing frenzy. If we do it, in front of you, it’s even funnier! If you take a video of us, and we fart, it goes viral in fifty seconds, upon “Valley of the Dogs,” and you send it as a video file to Neil Patrick Harris. The second way humanoids find humor are from the inventions of your super-creative brains, like LaLa’s music videos. When she shoots guns out of her boobs, or wears steaks on her body. Actually, we rather enjoy that one. Here’s a suggestion from our dog poet laureate, Ginsberg: You don’t have to waste your creative powers on music videos or dog fart sounds. No, you just chillout, listen to your favorite music, and snuggle with your favorite mammal. Us. That’s what I was thinking about on Ash Wednesday, as Cowboy was getting his New Age rocks off with his philosophically meager insights about humanoid and dog life, existing in peaceful coexistence and shooting to the stars when we die. Thank Dog, when he finally finished marking a cross on our foreheads with his organic curry powder, and we got our dumb-ass organic doggie health food treats. Here’s another fact about dogs you may not have learned. We have the world’s worst case of ADHD. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. You know? Point, sniff, run, fetch and repeat? So, these obsessions we have cause us to constantly be aware of things. Mindfulness? We invented it. We are so distracted by living in the now that we’re like the dog version of your Beatniks. We’re like that dude in Poe’s story, Berenice, that Cowboy read to us one time. We get focused on one thing, like your stupid grins when you watch us doing anything, and we stare back at you, waiting for food, but it never comes, and you still keep smiling at us. And it becomes an obses-

sion with us, until we finally want to pull all your stupid, smiling white teeth out. Slowly. With pliers. One by one. But we can’t. Because we’ve got paws. One of your brilliant merchandisers even named a brand of our food after our “paws” disability. What if we named your food “Brains,” which is your disability? Cowboy’s room? Did I describe it yet? Lots of pink. Pink throw pillows. Pink throw rugs. Posters of pink ballet dancer humanoids. But then there’s a puke green chair shaped like a humanoid’s colon. And posters of the Hollywood Gay Pride Parade. It’s like living in Dante’s Seventh Circle of fashion Hell. But it is home, of sorts. But not like GaGa’s room. Her room is a boudoir of celebration to gayness and nature. When you’re in there, man, you don’t know whether to take a leak on a hibiscus, eat a baby palm, or dance to YMCA. And then, that Ash Wednesday, after we got our ashes and treats, it was that time when every canine and humanoid in the world joins together in bliss. Cowboy was so stoked about the experience the first time that he named the Instagram page he put up for us “Valley of the Dogs.” Cowboy’s kind of artistry. Let me explain. Valley of the Dolls was a pulpy, popular book and romance movie about rich women like YoYo and gays like Cowboy, who stay plastered all the time on psychoactive humanoid pep pills, blow your mind pills, slow your mind pills, or shut down your mind pills (both temporary and final shut downs). Cowboy and YaYa, Asia told us, used to get high together A LOT. That was their favorite book. That was their mantra. After they both got clean together, just before she bought me and Koji, they decided it would be “cute” to put up this Internet page and name it after their favorite novel about drugs in Hollyweird. Dogs never need that stuff. Know why? I told you. Our ADHD. We’re either out like a light dreaming about trees, running, and getting our testicles back for a few fantasies, or we’re wide awake like a snake in the bottom of Death Valley, except we’re dogs, so our paws get hot easy. Cowboy once took a picture of me. The only one he ever took that was arty. I am laying on the cracked ground, in Death Valley, because Cowboy thought it was cool that the Manson Family once lived there, and I looked in his photo like a desert dog dying in the sun like a humanoid. Like a dog version of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. On my back, my hind legs crossed in a crooked way, my tongue lolling out of the side of my smashed-in face. Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

51


| SHORT STORY | You know why we learn tricks from you? We think it’s funny as hell. You want us to be so far into your heart we can both see Paradise, but because we can learn to speak (bark), or roll-over, you’re supposed to be the master? Ha! We know when we do those stupid tricks of yours that we get closer to you. Hell. You love us. You spend more money on us than any animal in the world. Get a clue, North American humanoid. I watch National Geographic. They eat dogs in China, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and the region of Nagaland in India. I saw the graph on Cowboy’s computer. Yin and Yang. It’s dog eat dog or man eat dog. We enjoy the good life, partner, I know, but if you get that dog-eating glow in your eyes one day. Let’s just say two can play at that game. Read any Cujo lately? Koji’s got his Cujo act down pat right now. Watch-out! Woof! I know, you’re all thinking we’re nothing but three little Frenchies, from a powder-puff humanoid country, France. No French fries. Freedom fries! So, we’re supposed to be powder-puff dogs, and we can all live together in this family like wimpy fruitcakes. Look carefully. Really. Don’t we look like they took a frying pan to our mugs and poured greasepaint all over us? We aren’t over thirty pounds, soaking wet. But we’ve got you trained. Here’s the part of my story that gets scary. Trigger alert! I need to get into my Stephen King Zone. That’s the part of the subconscious that’s been trolled by the Shadow, until it puts the entire world into a horrible, existential bubble. Novel virus, anyone? The competition between the humanoids and the rest of us mammals. Humanoids want everything so fast, and so much of it, that our living quarters are getting beaten down. When the water and air are no good, the future is not so bright. That’s what it was like that night. That Ash Wednesday morning was a portent of the horror to come. Our reward was that Cowboy was taking all three of us for a walk. That’s as if a humanoid who’s into kinky sex gets to have three of any kind of other humanoid he or she wants. We French say menage et trois. Three neutered dogs get to go out. Happy Days are here again. Get those masks off my face! Get that cute sweater off my back! I’m rolling in the grass, peeing on trees, barking to heaven, and sniffing any asshole I can find in my vicinity. Do you ever get that kind of satisfac52 | UncagedBooks.com

tion, humanoids? Why do you take so many pictures of us? Dress us up in clothes that my wolf and coyote brethren do stand-up dog comedy about. Did you see Gustav and Koji wearing those darling candy cane sweaters with the words “My tongue, your face,” or “Your dog doesn’t know sit,” etched at the top? Aren’t they adorable! Such great examples of the superior canine species. Can you give us credit for having a brain? All right. We’re out the door with Cowboy. He has his blue shorts on with the pink belt, and his blue shirt and green pea soup tie, with the Peewee Herman rainbow jacket. I think he was yammering to us all about how we’re going to fly with LaLa out to Italy for the movie she has to shoot. Telling us how lucky we were to be living with people who love them so much, kissy-kissy, and who do so much for them. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Same humanoid exaggeration. Slow down your pace a little bit, gay blade, we gotta go pee here! Cowboy always wants to run, so he can show all the other gay blades in the neighborhood how fit and tight-butted he is. Sheesh! You can’t even sniff them! Butts. All we wanted to do that night was study the starlight and take in the scenery. That night I was forced to speak. Out loud. For the first time. These things happen, right? It’s very humanoid. He finally stopped and pointed up to the stars. He got into his stardust preaching again, and we were supposed to be mesmerized, I suppose, but I felt like it was time to tell him what was lacking in the humanoid world. So, I told him, right then and there, on the sidewalk next to the public thoroughfare: “Cowboy, you and the humanoids have to do something about your greed. You take too much, and you forget where it all came from. You forget the animals and the humanoids in your so-called deprived countries. We dogs, and most of us animals, do only those actions that give back to our natural world more than we take out of it. Not a big deal, actually. Take a leak, the tree thanks you. Wag our tails, you guys go crazy. If you’d pay attention to what we do once in a while, maybe you could learn something. I blame this pandemic for this breakthrough. When we get forced to have a time out and live closer to you, to be more intimate, so to speak, we need to really talk to each other. We dogs live in a constant crisis because of you. Not just a climate crisis. A crisis of values.” The white rolling thing came out of the fog, its eyes shining directly ahead. We were passing in front of our house, and we knew she was watching us from the sec-


ond floor, pushing back the lace curtains and smiling out at us the way she always did, and Cowboy was singing “Over the Rainbow,” or some other fruity song because I guess I had really freaked him out with my speech. He was probably thinking about all the money he was going to get by putting me out on tour with GaGa. At least I could upstage Asia for once. I can’t sing yet, but I can do the howl bit when she sings “Bad Romance.” I was thinking about all of this when two of them opened the back door to the white car, and they had black masks on their faces. They both, of course, went after the larger males, that’s me and Koji, and left the bitch, Miss Asia. Males are worth more on the black market. You know about those times when there’s a noise that can scare the turds out of both dogs and humanoids? Although, truth be told, we trick you into learning how to take us hunting with you, because we know what a wagging tail does to your brains. Listen. It’s just scuttlebutt I heard from my colleagues visiting from the hunting places in our country. Needless to say, our Cowboy was no hunter. He was a Midnight Cowboy. He was a hunter for love, maybe, but nobody had to worry about getting Ninja’d or American Snipered by him. So, he does what he does every time a spider is on the wall, or Asia throws up, or LaLa gets angry with him. Or she wins another Grammy. Or I talk to him for the first time. He screams. He began slapping back at those two assailants. He went total dog on them. We protect our own, and that’s what Cowboy was doing. When they grabbed me by the collar and hauled me away, Cowboy let out the first piercing scream. I mean, the scream he reserves for when Neil Patrick Harris visits LaLa backstage. Then, when they got hold of Koji, Cowboy went berserk. He spat, screamed, scratched, slapped, and pulled at the one guy’s arms. Then, as I watched from the back seat, the one being assaulted by Cowboy pulled what looked like a dark dog biscuit out of his pocket. I thought maybe he was trying to teach Cowboy how to sit-up or roll-over. No. I heard the second most horrible sound you can ever hear. Unless humans can train us to avoid it, this sound will keep us hunkering down in the weeds. Fourth of July? Forget about it. It takes you, my humanoid friend, to pull us up and to get us to trail your prey, or to fetch your bird or bigger animal after you make this sound with your metal dog biscuit. You want to be the master? This is what makes you think you are. But when I saw Cowboy lying in his own pool of blood, shot four times, it was time to remember what Cowboy said about the stars and how we’re made of the same dust.

| JAMES MUSGRAVE | And, then, as the shooter got into the white rolling thing, carrying me, I could see he was crying, too. He took his mask down, and he was just a young humanoid, shivering with fright, like I do whenever Cowboy yells at me. I knew this was the time to speak again. These boys will have to lie some more, cheat some more, steal some more, until they get put inside one of those concrete tombs Cowboy shows us on his computer. He told us, “We house more humans in prison than any country on Earth,” and his eyes squirted that liquid humanoids have ready to spray, just the way we can piss on a tree, or against a table leg, just the way we can whine for our walks, or cry for our food, or just the way we can wait for you to come home. You take us into your warm arms, nuzzle us with your faces, and smother our bodies with your kisses. Do you think we don’t want to talk when you do that? That’s love, man. That’s real love. And Cowboy taught us all about all the wars, and the bombs, and the shootings on the screen. We watched all of it with him. Not until that Wednesday night did it make any sense to me. I was too filled with my own world to really understand him. He said they were real out here in the world. He told us we were better, and we believed him. We whined, and we ate his food, and we listened to him, because he was speaking from his heart, not his brain. We can understand when that happens. It happens to us, also, and that’s when you say we smile. When we can understand, we get to reach another level. That’s where I was on that Ash Wednesday night. Another level of understanding. That’s the moment my Stephen King Zone changed into my awareness zone. I had become humanly aware. You were no longer humanoids to me. You were very human and very dog. Even this other human, the one who had just kidnapped me. So, I spoke to him: “You left a dying man back there. And we’re three dogs who will never see him again. He taught us to believe in the stars and feel the light of life. I never really saw that light before now. We are made of the same stuff, and you need to see it also.” I was finished with my first sentence when they both turned toward me, sitting next to my life’s pal, Koji, and they both began to bawl. Like frightened babies. The one with the gun talked to the other one. “Did you hear that? You wanted to do that meth? You suck, man!” Mr. Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

53


| SHORT STORY | Yin, up there in the driver’s seat. Mr. Yang, back here with us. They whined so long and hard that when they finally made it out of our neighborhood, they turned right onto Hollywood Boulevard and took us to another house nearby. It was an old female human’s house, because she came running out, as fast as an old human can run. One by one, each of her human children took us up into his arms, and carried us out to the old lady. Their eyes looked the same way Cowboy’s eyes looked after he was shot. I saw Cowboy’s face, even in the dark, because I was standing at his feet. We dogs get used to looking up at you all the time. We see a lot, and we feel a lot. Believe me. These two young human men had heard me, and more importantly, they had heard their own hearts. They raced away with their white rolling thing, into the rest of that night, and we both looked up at the remaining human. The old female and mother. We thought the only natural and obvious event had taken place. She was teaching her young ones to fetch. We now knew about how they killed, but we still didn’t understand how they lived. When she picked us up, we didn’t know what to do next. She walked us the six blocks back to GaGa’s house. She even let us pee. She didn’t know about the reward then. She didn’t know about how Cowboy had survived the shooting, four shots passing through his body, not a single one hitting a vital organ. The cops, and the news reporters, and the tears of GaGa as she took all three of us into her arms. I didn’t have the heart to tell her. I could never speak again. When Cowboy got out of the hospital, he never heard me speak again. He told himself it was just part of that magical Ash Wednesday night. He was in shock. He was a trauma victim. Dogs don’t talk. Miracles might happen, but dogs don’t talk. Until we do. When you need it.

The End

© Copyright 2021 James Musgrave All rights reserved. Published with permission.

54 | UncagedBooks.com

Since I won the First Place Blue Ribbon for my historical mystery, FOREVERMORE about the fictional murder of Edgar Allan Poe, I have been writing fiercely and with purpose. Both of my mystery series were curated and accepted by the American Library Association’s Independent Author Program, and this novel was also recently given that honor. We need to read more quality historical fiction, and this is an excellent way to provide it in our public libraries in digital format. My most recent volume of short stories, VALLEY OF THE DOGS, DARK STORIES, written during the COVID-19 year, won the Silver Medal in the Readers Favorite Contest for Best Adult Fiction Anthology, 2021. Please contact the author at: jamesmusgrave2122@att.net Sign-up for the Author’s Newsletter at: emrepublishing.com



authormiguelanewman.com


Writing with your Muse Guest column by W.L. Hawkin


| GUEST COLUMN |

Writing with Your Muse by W.L. Hawkin

People often ask about my writing process. “Are you a plotter or a pantser?” is usually the question. First off, you can’t sort writers into two categories. We ride a spectrum with a plethora of changing processes. I don’t know who first coined those terms but I find the word “pantser” annoying, even downright irritating. Writing by the “seat of your pants” intimates you have no connection to your work; you’re just madly tossing words onto the page in some haphazard fashion, and then praying everything will work out. I’ve taken to calling myself an “intuitive” writer. I don’t outline but I do have an intuitive knowledge of where I’m going, depending on the genre, and I trust my muses will get me from first page to last with a minimum of agony. I work with a variety of muses: spirit guides (some might call them angels); characters who’ve been rubbed as real as The Velveteen Rabbit; ancestors; other creative souls who dwell in the Collective Unconscious (years ago I felt the presence of Emily Dickinson); a Divine Source Within; and even creatives alive today. Peter Gabriel was one of my muses when I wrote To Kill a King, and inspired the voice of a prehistoric Druid bard. A few years ago, I taught a series of classes called “From Spirit to Page: Writing with your Muse.” People came haunted by ideas. They really wanted to write but couldn’t break through the barriers that kept them from getting those words on the page. The biggest barrier is THOUGHT. The cure? Stop thinking. When I’m tuned into the creative force, I’m not thinking. How do I know? 58 | UncagedBooks.com

Characters think, speak, and act in unexpected ways that surprise me. In To Sleep with Stones, I wrote through the deaths of two characters choked up and crying. I had no idea they were going to die. This raw emotional exchange translates into an emotional experience for the reader. That’s a deep connection. Thought is analytical, sometimes critical, often judgmental. It can block the creative process. Writers who stare at blank screens and cry “writer’s block” are not connected. How do you know when you’re connected? Characters come alive. Time stops. But how do you stop thinking? Meditate. Use whatever method works for you. I’ve written my last five books using this technique. Sometimes, I use music. Sometimes, I lay on the floor in corpse position and listen to shamanic drumming. I took a shamanic journey with my hero in To Render a Raven using this method, and then wrote it all down. The journey, which you can read in the novel, is just as it happened. Sometimes, I just sip in the quiet and listen to my breath. My latest romantic suspense novel, Lure, took a turn when the protagonist discovered a skeletal hand poking up from the dirt in her shed. I asked, “Whose body is this? What happened?” A missing Indigenous girl appeared and told me her story. I didn’t invent her. She came to me wanting her story told. “But I don’t believe this is possible. I believe in science,” you say.


Well, meditation is a scientific phenomenon. It’s all about brainwaves. We’re often stuck in Beta and Alpha brain, where “monkey mind” dominates. This is fine if you’re doing your taxes or evaluating the strength of a marketing plan, but if you want to create and connect with your muse, you must take a deep dive into Theta brain. Theta is the place of creativity, vision, and inspiration.

| W.L. HAWKIN |

When we sleep and dream we’re in Delta brain. This is the perfect time to create. If I ask “what happens next” before I go to sleep, I often awaken with scenes playing cinematically. The first scene in Lure happened that way. My job as an author is to write what I see and hear. My muses do the rest. You can do this too. To connect with your muse, you must get out of your own way. Trust. Open to the spirits within and without, and never ever call yourself a pantser.

©Copyright 2022 W.L. Hawkin for Uncaged Book Reviews www.uncagedbooks.com

bluehavenpress.com

W. L. Hawkin writes adventurous cross-genre fiction charged with “myth, magic, and mayhem”. Wendy is a book reviewer and publisher with a background in Indigenous Studies and Humanities. Born in Toronto, Canada, she completed a BA in Indigenous Studies at Trent University. After moving to B.C., she taught high school for several years. Wendy also spent a year as a relief lighthouse keeper, enjoying the rugged isolation of the coast, and blogged her adventures at http://lifeonthebclights.blogspot.com Her experiences color “To Render a Raven.” An introvert, Wendy does most of her musing while walking her yellow lab through the forested trails of B.C. “I continue to explore my ancestry, often in my writing. I love nature, history, archaeology, myths and magic, and feel I was born in the wrong century. If I could, I’d travel back in time to experience cultures long since changed or vanished.”

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

59





feature authors

fantasy | crime thriller | motivational

C.A. Masterson

Jade Marshall

Jen Nash


A

ward-winning author C.A. Masterson loves stories of any genre. Multi-published in contemporary to historical, fantasy/ dark fantasy to paranormal/speculative, she sometimes mashes genres. Visit her at http:// paintingfirewithwords.blogspot.com or look for her romance stories as Cate Masters at http:// catemasters.blogspot.com and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web. 64 | UncagedBooks.com

C.A. M A S T E R S ON


Stay Co n n e c te d

tions, some pulled from real life. For instance, wives in Papua New Guinea are often beaten or maimed by disapproving husbands, so Mina’s mother is a healer who treats such women. How do you come up with the title to your books?

paintingfirewithwords.blogspot.com

Welcome to C.A. Masterson Welcome to Uncaged! Your latest book, Empire of Air and Shadow released recently. Can you tell more about the book and the series? Thanks so much for having me at Uncaged! Empire of Air and Shadow, released in the summer of 2021, is the first in a YA speculative duology. Set in an alternate world, the story follows two girls struggling to survive. I just typed “The End” for book two, titled An Oath of Blood and Secrets. After revisions, I’ll send that book off to an editor. I hope to release it in May. What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? This story especially had been in my head for several years, so the characters kept developing and acting out scenes until finally I had to start writing. I generally have no trouble with first drafts. Revisions can be fairly painful. Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about? That’s like trying to choose a favorite child! I am finding the characters of Empire of Air and Shadow challenging but their journey is so gratifying. I like to round out every character with positive and negative traits to make them relatable, and the two main characters of this story have to deal with extremely difficult situa-

With great difficulty. Honestly, titles are often the last thing I write because they have to hint at the genre and encapsulate the story. Only one story started with the title, which simply popped into my head one morning: Death Is A Bitch. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? I’m very private, but nothing too shocking. I’ve loved to write since I turned double digits. I wrote romance as Cate Masters for several years. I do tend to get grumpy if I can’t fit in writing time. Stories demand to be let out of my head. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? For me, every story is different. I’ve written detailed outlines that require constant revision as characters hijack the story. Scenes often play out in my head like movies, so I write them down and sometimes must patch them together. Usually I start with a basic idea of the story’s beginning and where the characters will end up. What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? Outdoor gardening to make our yard attractive to wildlife (though I’ve yet to see a screech owl in the nesting box). I’m always composing pictures in my head, and have a ton of photographs. Lots of difIssue 64 | March/April 2022 |

65


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

ferent crafts, from beading to painting to embroidery, some of which I sell in my Etsy shop, Pansy Dreaming. We also love to travel, and hope to be able to do so again soon. On our last trip, we visited the stunningly beautiful island of Vieques and I would love to return there someday. If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? I love living in central Pennsylvania, and look forward to each change of seasons. If I had to pick only one, then autumn, when the flowers are so lush and nature’s colors so vivid. Plus, Halloween is huge in our house, with decorations up all month, and since the pandemic, we’ve held a Halloween Hunt in the yard for the grandkids that has grown to epic proportions. How many hours a day do you write? On average, how long does it take to write a full novel? 66 | UncagedBooks.com

I don’t write every day, but tend to binge-write. I’d say at least a year to finish a full-length novel because I revise several times. I began the current two-book story I’m writing about five years ago. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? After the initial ebook phase, I’ve cycled back to physical books, though audiobooks are great for the car or while working on crafts. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Just that I appreciate you! Authors need encouragement to keep writing. I’d love your feedback, reviews, or comments.


Enjoy an excerpt from Empire of Air and Shadow Empire of Air and Shadow C.A. Masterson YA Fantasy Atop the Kabellak Mountain, in The Blessed Heights, Tayari Thorne trains to become a Favored One, a title of distinction bearing no freedom. A man would choose her, keep her, provide for her—until he tired of her. Home was one privilege she would not know. Below in The Dregs, in the shadow of the mountain, Amina Emezi readies for the day when she can escape her parents’ home, and escape the Dregs, dependent on no one else. Home would be the place of her choosing. Neither realizes the fragility of her existence. Neither could guess how their lives would intersect, and change course unalterably on the same day. Excerpt When Tayari Thorne stepped out of her family home for the final time, Kabellak Mountain trembled beneath her feet. The thunder in the mountain echoed the thunder in her heart. She couldn’t tell if she was causing the mountain to shudder, or its rumblings were shaking her to the bone. She only knew her world was shattering. Her body’s every sinew braced for the crack she was certain would follow. The goddess who ruled Kabellak would split the ground beneath her feet and swallow her hard, swallow her whole, swallow her endlessly. She made her footsteps as light as she could to pass without notice of the goddess, but the guards’ heavy march gave them all away. Since the announcement days earlier, Da could barely look Tayari in the eye. Grief stiffened his face. He made excuses to move as far from Mama as he could inside their small cavern.

| C.A. MASTERSON | Mama spoke of The Preparatory Quarters in breathless awe, hand to her chest as she beamed at Tayari. Such good fortune, she said, that a spot had unexpectedly opened up just as Tayari had passed twelve summers. Such an honor, she said, for Tayari to be chosen. At Da’s glance, Mama went back to her sewing with a defiant little smile. When Tayari argued she’d rather they had chosen someone else, Da repeated that it was an honor. Who, she asked, would teach her what she needed to know? Tell her stories of the Time Before? Tuck her blanket around her? This morning the Guide appeared at their domed entry, and Tayari saw something else in Da’s face. Fear. As if he, too, had thought of Tayari’s leaving as a distant possibility, but payment had come due on their promise. A hard truth. The woman in a silken dress of grey fog made no greeting, didn’t introduce herself, but Da recognized her. “You’re the Guide.” He spoke as if he hadn’t quite believed she’d appear. “It’s time.” That’s all the woman had said, her face a mask of steely indifference though her gaze swept over Tayari, but lingered on her long, unruly hair. One glimpse of the two guards who flanked her, both identical in expressionless demeanor, and Da’s fear became contagious to Tayari. She trembled as the pair looked past her as if she were invisible. She threw herself into her father’s arms, whimpers blocking his murmured urges to be happy. He held her away from him and nodded, but locked behind his grim smile was a well of sorrow so deep, if he loosed his tears, she would drown. The Guide repeated with greater urgency, “It’s time.” Mama fluttered around the room like a trapped bird. She rushed to Tayari and pressed a small pillow into her hands. “A remembrance.” The woman snatched away the pillow and tossed it to the ground. The Preparatory Quarters, the woman said in a voice that could turn water to ice, would give Tayari all she needed. Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

67


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Never had she wanted a pillow more than when her mother cradled it against her belly, the soft place Tayari wanted to bury her head. Da nudged Tayari toward the woman. Remember our stories, he said. She should always be brave and strong. Their love would go with her. Tears magnified his eyes. From the stove, Mama clasped her hands as if in prayer. “Make us proud.” Then they led her out. Once in the tunnel, the Guide lifted her skirts, muttered that no decent person would live in such disgusting conditions, with animals. Animals that fed those in the royal compound, Tayari wanted to argue, but when she glanced back, her mother waved her forward. The Guide swept ahead, arms waving to scatter the chickens. The guards advanced toward Tayari, and forced her in the same direction. A nudge sent her ahead. A harder nudge sent her into a stumble. A yank pulled her up. It was then that the mountain first rumbled. Tayari’s legs became stone. No rocks dislodged from the wall, but Kabellak would surely crumble apart. The guards, oblivious, pushed her along. At the mouth of the corridor, the Guide whirled on her. “Keep up, girl.” The snapped command loosened Tayari’s legs a little. Before today, she looked forward to an entertaining walk with her parents into the large cavern. The people of Ward Three gathered for market, to chat and on special occasions, to dance and sing. Hewn into the walls of stone hung balconies of homes larger and more beautiful than Tayari’s small cave. There was nothing entertaining about today. Kid goats scurried behind their mother, and the Guide kicked at those in her path. Tayari turned to comfort them, but another shove made her scramble for her footing. “Defiance will bring you nothing but pain.” The guard pointed. Tayari walked. Fear kept her movements timid and stiff. A swarm of questions buzzed in her 68 | UncagedBooks.com

head, none answerable. Already, the swish of grey fabric was a fog in her vision. The tap of The Guide’s footsteps was the rhythm that carried her along. In this manner, they passed through Ward Three. Mothers withdrew to the shadows on their balconies. Tayari’s stomach tightened at seeing their shielded faces, and how they clutched their young daughters close. The way Mama had spoken of the Preparatory Quarters, Tayari had expected cheerful waves along the way to Initiation. This was all wrong. She didn’t belong with these strangers. The image of Da’s sad face was more powerful than that of her mother shooing her forward. Tayari whirled to run back to her family, and slammed into the stiff uniform of a guard. The other stood beside him, two unyielding towers who blocked her path. Both carried weapons. The Guide waited only long enough to say, “This way.” Tayari had no choice but to follow, though her heart pulled her toward Da. He was probably sitting in their story chair, alone but not waiting for her. She was not meant to return.

Don’t miss these titles:





ROBERT BUSCHEL & Mrs. Katz

FREDDY CRUZ & Sparrow

We have a cat, Mrs. Katz. She was rescued out of a dumpster. She’s 16 years old and has a bad attitude.

BARBARA MONAJEM & Rosie & Earl C.A. MASTERSON & Lily & Binx

I have attached two pet pics. Most of our cats arrived at our house as stray kittens. The little black one is Rosie. She is now full grown, is very affectionate and has lovely soft fur. However, she has a loud, annoying meow! The grey one is Earl. We rescued him from the nearby park, where he had been abandoned. He grew up to be a big cat with a sweet little meow.

72 | UncagedBooks.com

I love this! Lily is our sweet rescue pup, a mix of terrier and Australian cattle dog who has been a joy for the past 12 years. She loves, loves, loves our grandkids, and any babies who visit. Our cat has had many names, though I like to call him Chairman Maiow but the grandkids call him Binx after the cat in Hocus Pocus. Our daughter brought him home in 2003, so he’s an old man of 18 now. The two animals get along well, even when Lily steals the cat food!


A U T H O RS A N D T H E I R P E TS Pets and companions come in many shapes and sizes. From furry to feathered to hairy and scaley - there is a place for all of them. Authors have a special relationship with their pets - whether they remind them to get up and take a break or they inspire their writing. Meet the critters that share their love and devotion to Uncaged Feature Authors.

JADE MARSHALL & Lesnar We have three cats in our household right now. Both of my daughters have a cat, and then we have a family cat. Sabbia was two years old when my oldest daughter adopted her. Sabbia is an anxious girl who loves to climb and follow everyone into the bathroom for pets. Poor baby takes antianxiety meds every day, but she’s doing pretty well these days. A year ago, Mabel was found in a field with a badly broken tail and a severe respiratory infection. Her tail had to be amputated, but she recovered and was taken in by my youngest daughter. Mabel is super fluffy and soft and enjoys knocking everything she can off tables. Mabel also gets bored a lot and frequently gets after the other two cats for entertainment. Oscar is a tuxedo cat. He’s thirteen years old now, and does a lot of sleeping these days, although he goes outside whenever he can. He’s a calm, sweet boy. Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

73


ELIZABETH ROSE & Banshee I am not a grandmother yet since neither of my boys is married, but I do have the cutest granddog that I like to brag about. Her name (not of my choosing) is Banshee. It’s probably a perfect name for her since she has issues with barking at other dogs. She is a rescue dog, and I should have known from the moment I heard her barking at the turkeys on the other side of the fence at the pound that this was going to be a problem. That said, she is not violent at all, but very loveable. She is part blue heeler and cattle dog and likes to round everyone up when she decides it’s time to play with her. Her favorite toy ever is a rubber ball. She can jump about five feet in the air and flip a full side-ways circle like an acrobat just to catch it. She loves lounging in the sun in my secret garden when I’m writing, and of course chasing squirrels and chipmunks around the yard.

NADINE MILLARD & Dash & Dumbledore This is Dash, our rescue dog. When we lost our beautiful Samoyed we had a doggy shaped hole in our lives so when we met Dash, a Pitbull/ Labrador cross we absolutely fell in love with him. He. Is. Crazy. Like, crazy. He is SO strong and he no idea. He’s the goofiest, silliest, but most loving dog and he is utterly adored by us all! And this is Dumbledore. Dumbledore came into our lives when his mama who was a stray had kittens in my friend’s back garden. As soon as I saw Dumby I knew we needed to have him. He loves cuddles on HIS terms and he definitely rules the roost. With us and Dash!

JEN NASH & Zinnia

Okay, I admit I spoil her, but after all, she deserves it.

adorable little baby. 74 | UncagedBooks.com

This is the lovely Zinnia – I adore this little Nubian dairy goat. She’s the apple of my eye and is only two months old but has the run of the house, until I get something more secure for her outside. I love Coyotes but I’m rooting for this



B

orn and raised in South Africa, I now live in the Northern Cape in a small mining community by the name of Kathu. At 35 years old I have been with my husband for 15 years, although we have only been married for 8. Together we have a beautiful 15-year-old daughter. For years I wanted to follow my passion for writing but always doubted myself. After finding my publisher and releasing my first novel I was able to build up my confidence and move forward with my fledgling career. 76 | UncagedBooks.com

ja d e marshall


on more in the future?

Stay Co n n e c te d

jademarshallauthor.com

Uncaged welcomes Jade Marshall Welcome to Uncaged! Your latest release, The Dog, is part of a MC Series. Can you tell us more about the series and this book? Thank you for having me. The Gypsy Bastards MC is a series of stand-alone, but interconnected novels. The series revolves around several club members and how the navigate life, love, and living the outlaw lifestyle. The Dog is the story of Bodhi and Kaiya. Bodhi is a single father to three adopted sons. He is a war vet with a strong moral compass. Even though he may be part of an outlaw club, he still has a firm sense of wrong and right. Bodhi saved Kaiya many years ago from a bad situation and has since then formed a strong bond with her. Kaiya is a broken and damaged soul. She has survived situations that would kill most people and has slowly started to put the pieces of her life back together. It is a long and arduous journey with many opportunities to fall apart right in front of her eyes. The Dog is a story of hardship, faith, trust, love, and fear. Both Kaiya and Bodhi must learn to trust and love again. The Dog contains many dark themes that are not suited to younger readers and may trigger sensitive readers. You also have a wolf shifter series out called The Katu Wolves. Is this a complete series or are you planning

Currently I have two novels available in this series and I am editing the third. The Wrong mate will be the third installment in the Katu Wolves series. It will follow Max and Raine along their journey to find love and happiness. At the moment I don’t have any other novels planned for this series, but anything could happen in the future. What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? For me, the easiest scenes to write are usually the conflict scenes and the physically affectionate scenes. These types of scenes tend to flow from me and require little to no planning. The hardest scenes to write are usually closer toward the end of the novel. I often struggle to find the right way to end my novels that leave me feeling content. Sometimes I rewrite the endings up to five times before I am even near satisfied and there is still a chance I might change it during editing. Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about? My favorite character to write would have to be Strom (The Pope GBMC#2). Her character was already fully developed in my heart and mind when I started writing the Pope which also made her the easiest character to write. She is sassy and strongwilled but has a soft side to those that she considers family. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind or go after what she really wants in life. The hardest character I have ever written has been Kaiya. She has had so much trauma that I was terrified of playing it down. I want to be able to show that its okay to be a little broken, because most of us are, but also that you don’t have to be alone for the rest of your life because of your scars. Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

77


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

78 | UncagedBooks.com


| JADE MARSHALL | Kaiya carries many scars, not just on her person but in her heart and mind as well, and paying justice to that was a very emotion write for me. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? People always think I am joking when I say this out loud, but English isn’t my first language. I was born in South Africa to an Afrikaans mother and an English father. My parents raised me to speak Afrikaans at home but sent me to an English school. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? I don’t plan. At all. To some this might sound crazy, but I can’t do it. Every time that I have tried in the past the story has never been near what I planned when I started. I tend to sit down with my laptop and just start writing. Sometimes it’s just a scene or two and I will save them and use them later when they suit the story, I am busy with. Other times it will be twenty thousand words into a novel, and everything will just be flowing. I will say that I do write down my characters descriptions and such as I think them. It saves time later when I can’t remember what color someone’s eyes were. What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? There isn’t really much time for that but when I do have free time I love to read or cook. I also spend hours playing Xbox with my husband or daughter. When there is enough time for a road trip, maybe a long weekend, we will drive through the province and meet some new people. If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

79


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

My husband calls me a between season person. I favor spring and autumn. I would much rather wear jeans and a t-shirt than three layers of clothing. And I don’t like my legs, so shorts aren’t really my favorite either. Plus, those seasons have all the prettiest colors!

books? Are you reading anything now?

How many hours a day do you write? On average, how long does it take to write a full novel?

What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?

This is a difficult question because I don’t write every day. Two weeks might go by without me writing a single word. But if I do have the time and the inspiration I could write between three and five thousand words. For a short story, about fifteen thousand words, it usually takes two to three good writing sessions before I am completely satisfied. My longer works, about forty thousand words, could take anywhere from ten to fifteen sessions.

Thank you. Without my fans and readers none of this would have been possible. I am grateful for every reader, reviewer, and blogger.

Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical 80 | UncagedBooks.com

I prefer physical books and have quite a selection but tend to read more eBooks than anything else. At the moment I am busy reading Blood and Bone by Paula Dombrowiak

My social media presence isn’t what I would like but I try to keep everything updated on a regular basis. All my social media links can be found here https://linktr. ee/jmarshall.author


| JADE MARSHALL |

Enjoy an excerpt from The Dog The Dog Jade Marshall Crime Thriller The Gypsy Bastards MC is a family, and they continue to expand...

seen.

Bodhi “Mad Dog” Black falls for Kaiya Walsh the moment he sees her. Bruised, beaten, and broken, she’s still the most beautiful woman he’s ever

Kaiya comes from a violent past, and getting over it may not be possible. Moving forward is hard, and no matter how much her mind, body, and soul have healed, she simply doesn’t feel worthy. When she starts to spread her wings, Mad Dog takes a chance and tries to get close to her, but he doesn’t think she’s ready for everything he wants. And he wants it all. Navigating Kaiya’s harrowing past is one thing, but more obstacles pop up as well. Will they survive to get a happily ever after when the dust settles? Excerpt My entire first week, I didn’t see any of the guys. I missed Sparrow because he only works mornings. But the other guys, I have no idea how I was able to avoid them. But that all just changed a moment ago, when the entire club walked in. Thank God for small miracles, because they aren’t seated in my section. Continuing with my duties, I purposefully avoid the area they are seated and act like I didn’t see them enter. It’s hard to keep my gaze off them, but I’m able to do

it. “D**n, those are some fine-a** men.” Charlie sighs dreamily when I approach the bar. “Yup,” I reply distractedly. “And that Mad Dogs is staring a hole right through you.” She gestures with her head. “S**t,” I mutter, still not looking their way. “I’m assuming as your new BFF there are some details you haven’t shared with me yet.” I lift my gaze swiftly, only to find Charlie smiling down at me. “Don’t worry. We will get to that part someday soon, but now, you might want to brace yourself.” She grabs my order ticket and heads down the bar to fill my order. I know Bohdi is behind me before he speaks. His presence is something I can physically feel wash over me. His smell hits me next. His natural musk, some cologne that he wears, and the underlying smell of engine oil. A smell they all carry no matter what. “Kaiya,” he growls in my ear before standing beside me. “You’re looking beautiful as always.” My gaze travels up the length of his body. Black boots, thick, jean-covered thighs, and a plain black t-shirt. His chin is covered in scruff, his eyes bright as he watches me with a smirk on his face. “Bohdi,” I breathe. His presence has my stomach fluttering, my pulse spiking, and arousal coursing through me. I haven’t felt any form of arousal toward a man since I can remember. But Bohdi makes me feel all kinds of things I never thought were possible. “I didn’t know you started here,” he says. “Almost two weeks. I thought it might be a good Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

81


| FEATURE AUTHOR | idea. Help me start feeling more normal.” Bohdi raises his hand to cup my cheek, staring into my eyes. His lips are a hairsbreadth away from mine when he speaks. “Normal is for people who conform. You will never be a typical woman because you will always be extraordinary.” His words rake over my skin and cause me to shiver. “Damn, girl.” Charlie interrupts the moment. “If you don’t kiss him after that, I will.” My gaze cuts to her as I glare. Bohdi chuckles before heading back to the guys at their table. Charlie raises her hands in the air, showing she meant no harm before continuing to get drinks for the other waitresses. Jealousy isn’t an emotion that I’m used to. Fear. Anger. So many other emotions, but never jealousy. The thought of Bohdi touching anyone else has rage swimming through my veins and my vision going hazy. Breathing deep, I take my drink order and make sure all my tables are happy before taking a fiveminute break. Standing outside Dusk, I wish I smoked. I don’t have a reason to be standing here in the alley, but I just needed to breathe. I hear the door behind me open as I continue to breathe in and out. Hands land on my hips and pull me into a hard, muscled chest. We stand there as I relax into his hold, neither speaking a word. After a while, the door opens again, and this time, I do look back. In the doorway is Preacher, staring at us with a stony gaze. “Break’s over,” he barks before heading back. Bohdi doesn’t even acknowledge that we were interrupted, but does turn me in his arms. His hands flex on my hips where they are still keeping a hold of me, and I don’t know how I don’t beg him to keep holding me. 82 | UncagedBooks.com

“I want to see you. I don’t care if it’s after work or tomorrow morning, but I can’t keep on going like you aren’t an important part of my life. We don’t have to go to my house, and nothing has to happen, but I want to see you.” He doesn’t wait for a reply, and he knows I won’t say no.

Don’t miss these titles:



showcase Judy Warrenton

View Through the Speculum View Through the Speculum - A Nurse’s Thirty-Seven Year OBGYN Career Author shares the story of how she evolved in the 1960s from being a homemaker into becoming a licensed practical nurse who worked for five years in labor and delivery and another thirty-two in a busy ob-gyn practice. There are some sad stories and some hilarious stories. It offers a window into the humanity of both doctors and nurses, and their contribution to a better life for mothers and babies. Witness another side of the ob-gyn practice, through the eyes of someone who helps the doctors, supports fellow nurses, and calms the parents from all colors and walks of life.

Excerpt Occasionally a pregnant patient would be admitted to Postpartum due to premature labor, and medications were given to try to prevent delivery for as long as possible to increase fetal birth weight. A big problem with premature birth weight is Hyaline Membrane Disease where a baby is so premature that the lungs are incapable of fully inflating and become stuck together causing death. The most well-know of these was the last baby born to President and Mrs. Kennedy who was born prematurely and died shortly afterward. These patients are on strict bedrest that require the use of bedpans, as standing puts downward pressure on the cervix. Depending on how many weeks they are 84 | UncagedBooks.com

from normal delivery date, they could be in the hospital for quite a while. One slow night in L&D, Rikki was called out to Postpartum. A patient had been brought in who had had a seizure. Convulsions among the pregnant are almost always caused by un-treated pre-eclampsia, commonly called “Toxemia”. This is a syndrome that can start around thirty-four weeks gestation or later. (A normal pregnancy is counted as forty weeks from first day of last menstrual cycle to due date). Usually the patient experiences warning signs; head-aches, weight gain, swelling in the hands, feet and face, high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Sometimes the patient is unaware of the problem and a lot just complain of feeling “not sick, but not well”, but are unable to explain exactly what feels wrong. Rikki’s patient had bitten her tongue so badly it filled up her mouth. Her blood pressure was sky high. She had severe eclampsia. Her chart said her religion did not condone medical treatment, you were supposed to just use prayer. That meant no prenatal care, which would have caught the onset of the problem, and she would have been treated and never have advanced to this level. Upon admittance, she had been given anti-seizure meds and was knocked out cold. In cases like this, when a patient had no outside attending doc, the resident became her primary caregiver. Rikki got a tongue depressor which had one end wrapped in a gauze square with tape over it. She pulled up a chair and spent the rest of the night holding the tongue depressor at the ready to stick in the patient’s mouth should she start to seize again. As she kept her eyes glued on the patient, she wondered what kind of true faith would have prompted her family to call for medical help after the crisis and yet never do anything in the way of preventative care. These were not poor people without resources. They were just imprisoned by their beliefs. To say she was angry at this circumstance was putting it mildly. The general public thinks medical personnel are trained to set aside their feelings and just tackle the problems at hand. This does happen because if it did not, the normal emotions of anxiety and even sometimes horror would not allow the staff to function. However, no doctor or nurse ever, ever wants a patient to die while on their watch. Now because of her religious beliefs she not only affected the people who loved her but also those whose


job it was to care for her. Why didn’t she follow through and stay home when things became critical if she has no belief in medical intervention? Rikki tended to view religion as black and white; either you believe and obey, or you do not. Another night, there was a patient in labor whose religion prohibited blood transfusions. She had small children at home, and this pregnancy had a low-lying placenta which had started to separate before delivery and caused a lot of bleeding. She was white as a sheet and had been given IVs and oxygen. The usual practice in this situation would be immediate multiple blood transfusions until her blood count was reasonable, and then do an emergency C-section to save the baby and remove the placenta. The patient would not consent to a transfusion. Her blood count was too low to risk surgery without transfusions. Her husband was begging her to get the blood, and her religious advisor was telling her to stick to her religious beliefs. Surprisingly, a full night later when Rikki came to work, this patient was still in the labor area. Things were getting really dire now. Apparently a lot of phone calls had been made, and finally a judge decreed that transfusions could be given without the patient’s consent to save the baby. Once delivered, she could not be compelled to receive any more. She was pumped full of blood and taken to delivery for the C-Section. The baby did not survive, mostly due to very low blood oxygen when in utero, but the mother did. Rikki wondered if the mother suffered permanent brain damage with such a low oxygen level in her blood for so long. If so, then her children would have a damaged mother to grow up with.

throughthespeculumbook.com

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

85


B

y the time Jen Nash was 18, she’d already moved ten times, landing in different cities in Canada before moving to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, and the United States. All this globe-trotting gave Jen a sense of urgency when it came to making friends and connections. Over the past twenty years, Jen has had the privilege of co-founding a digital agency that went from 1.1M in revenue to over 15M in three years. Building a multi-million-dollar real estate portfolio and working as a writer 86 | UncagedBooks.com

JEN NASH


and strategist for some of the biggest Fortune 50 companies in the world. In 2017 she became the CEO of a cryptocurrency start-up before transitioning into coaching full-time. In 2022, leveraging her understanding of how powerfully important small connections can be, Jen wrote the book: The Big Power of Tiny Connections—How Small Interactions Spark Awesome Outcomes. Today she calls herself a Connector in Chief and Executive Coach. She is currently focused on supporting high-net-worth female clients embrace their abundance for maximum impact and running powerful corporate trainings for companies focused on improving presentation skills, human connection, culture, and employee retention rates.

Stay Co n n e c te d

way? Talk to them? Interact in some small way to see what awesomeness you can spark? I hope so. Because my book is packed with really fun stories as well as data that supports my belief that we’re wired for connection and it’s the most powerful thing we can do for our health and wellbeing. Are you planning on other books in the future? Absolutely. There are several ideas I’ve been thinking about but I’m not ready to share them just yet, so by all means stay tuned. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? After I finished a total re-write of the book and while I was working with my developmental editor —I went through a horrible breakup. My relationship with my fiancé exploded and I had to shelve the book for about 8 months while I moved and got my head on straight. I knew publishing the book was very important to me and my healing, so to some degree getting the book through all the rounds of copy editing and proofreading was part of my healing process. What was the motivation behind this book?

jennash.com Uncaged welcomes Jen Nash Welcome to Uncaged! In your book, The Big Power of Tiny Connections, you talk about how even the smallest connections can have a big impact on your life. What do you hope for readers to take away from reading this book? I want to remind you, or anyone reading my book, that everyone we meet has the power to change our lives and in turn, we have the power to change theirs. I’m talking about the guy standing in line next to you, grabbing a coffee at your local coffee house, or the women sitting next to you at the theatre Knowing that, would you want to connect with them in some

You want the truth? Ha! I love this question. I would say that initially the motivation was to make my mom proud. She’d bugged me my whole life to write a book and I thought maybe after she passed away in 2015, that I would lose the drive to do it. But I didn’t. So during covid, working with Authors Who Lead, a writing initiative fun by some amazing and empathetic humans, I really honed in on my unique personality traits. I focused on what made me—me? My passion for connecting with the world around me really stood out as my superpower. As the book took shape, my motivations evolved from being less selfish and more altruistic. Pretty soon I realized that I truly wanted to help others get more out of their lives by inspiring them to see their interactions with the world in a new light, and to inspire them to take more risks when it came to Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

87


| FEATURE AUTHOR | connecting with anyone and everyone around. If my mom were still alive she’d be super proud of this accomplishment and I look forward to toasting with her on the other side, sometime in the future. What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? As an executive coach, who is personally very driven to support her clients—you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I love to spend time with people. I wish it was optional for me, but on a weekly basis I make time to connect with old friends as well as new friends for the sake of my sanity and well-being. While it’s challenging to make new friends out in the wild…it’s not impossible. Plus as you can guess from my book, I’m one of those people that really tries to follow up

88 | UncagedBooks.com

with anyone who have great energy. Beyond making new friends anywhere I go, I love to travel. If I’m not hearing a foreign language it just doesn’t feel like time away, or an adventure. I’m currently in love with the town of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. My gorgeous friends the Gleasons just got married there in the most stunning, intentional ceremony. I was deeply touched by so many aspects of the union and the city, that I ended up moving to Mexico for several months. If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? Fall. I love fall! I love the warm summer breezes that surprise you and make you think maybe winter’s notcoming any time soon, but I also love the crisp air. Plus


I love wearing jackets, jeans and boots. Fall makes dressing easy. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? Omg I’m so scattered at the moment that I’m listening to three things: Elton John’s autobiography, Money Master by Tony Robbins and I’m re-reading Positive Intelligence by Shahrazad Charmaine. Can you tell I’m into self-help? And while I read physical books I prefer audio books these days. I recorded my own audio book and I’m pretty excited to share that with the world this month! (March 2022) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’m so touched and deeply moved whenever anyone shares how my book— The Big Power of Tiny Connections — impacted them. Their posts on review sites or on social media really move me. It’s the greatest gift to be a part of their journey reading my book. I would love to offer a huge thank you to anyone who takes the time to read it and of course to anyone who also shares it with their friends and family. As an executive coach, beyond supporting individuals I support companies by running masterful connection and powerful storytelling trainings as well as a more connected culture in hopes of “stopping the quit!” I talk about this in depth at www.jennash.com and you get a better sense of my offerings. People can also follow me on Instagram @ moneysintigator or @realjennash, I’m still figuring out how to change accounts on that platform. Not easy! Lastly I’m @JenNash on twitter if anyone is feeling wildly connective.

| JEN NASH |

Enjoy an excerpt from The Big Power of Tiny Connections The Big Power of Tiny Connections Jen Nash Motivational “This book explains how even the smallest connections have the power to change your life forever. It’s not only a must-read — it’s a fun read.”—Allison Graham, Keynote Speaker & Author of Take Back Your Weekends Using hilarious true-life stories alongside snippets of insightful research, Jen Nash underscores how powerfully connection supports our happiness, health, and well-being, while also sharing practical ways you can find and make connections on a daily basis—almost anywhere. Whether you want to go to more parties, get a better job, make more money, or get laid more—reading this book can give you practical strategies for doing it all. A happier, more successful, and more fulfilling life is within your reach and The Big Power of Tiny Connections will show you the way. Excerpt CHAPTER TWO: “I Don’t Need More Friends” and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves Most humans are not always up for talking to new people. We tell ourselves that “we don’t need more friends or connections” in order to avoid having potentially awkward encounters with that little-known human species, humanis-strangis. However, as discussed in the last chapter, positive Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

89


| FEATURE AUTHOR | psychology makes a strong case that social relationships are the single most important predictor of people’s well-being, and that people—with their powerful need to belong to social groups—cannot feel their best or be at their healthiest without having awesome, connective, and meaningful social relationships1. When people have more conversations, they report increased feelings of happiness. Happy people tend to engage others more, so the cycle continues! It’s not just when you’re talking to friends or family, either—it turns out that chatting up a stranger is also good for your health2. What’s Really Holding Us Back? Behavior change doesn’t happen because a study says it should. We need to get to the root of our discomfort and tackle our fears one by one. Our concerns run much deeper than “I don’t need more friends.” Most of us have totally logical concerns when it comes to mingling with the unknown. The top fears most of us experience when even contemplating talking to humanis-strangis revolve around our fear that: • we won’t know how to start a conversation • we won’t enjoy talking to the stranger • we won’t like the stranger • we’ll run out of things to say • they won’t like us, and they’ll run out of things to say We humans worry a lot that the other person won’t like us, instead of worrying whether we will like them. I hope the following intel24 will allay some of your fears: --FEAR #1: I Stress About All Aspects of Talking to Strangers If you’re worried about talking to strangers, it’s time to take a deep breath and push through it. 90 | UncagedBooks.com

That’s easier said than done, but maybe it would help to know that most conversations with strangers go way better than either person expects. You’ll feel more engaged than you expected, like them more than you expected, and neither of you will likely be bored or run out of things to say! People who don’t stress about talking to strangers have less anxiety, less shyness, and tend to feel better about themselves in regard to their friends. So, I think we should all get on that train. TAKE AWAY: BE CURIOUS & COMPLIMENTARY You want to ignore the knot you get in your chest when talking to strangers—but it’s hard. The most hopeful way forward may be to accept that practice is required to overcome your discomfort. This is one of those instances in life, where you need to shut your eyes and jump in—with a curious and complimentary mindset. Get curious about their life, their stories, their past and present. Do so in an encouraging manner, and you’ll both enjoy the chat. --FEAR #2: I Can’t Chitchat to Save My Life! BELIEVE you’re a great conversationalist and you’ll become more likely to enjoy talking to strangers, and you’ll BELIEVE the stranger will like you more. Arm yourself with the fundamental principles of good conversation (asking open ended questions, listening attentively, and using good prompts like “What happened next?” or “Tell me more.”) Have a basic knowledge of what’s going on in the world so you’ll have current topics to touch on when the conversation lulls. With these skills and a positive attitude, you will feel more confident and capable in all types of situations. TAKE AWAY: DON’T SECOND GUESS YOURSELF Stay positive. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, repeat


| JEN NASH | over and over, “I’m a great conversationalist. People love talking to me.” This type of positive reinforcement will drown out all the negativity that can run rampant in your mind when you get anxious. Don’t give those little buggers the run of your brain. Take charge and keep it positive. Remember you’ve got hard data on your side. --FEAR #3: Conversations with Strangers Suck Nervous and think you need tips for better conversations? Nonsense! TAKE AWAY: TALKING TO STRANGERS CAN BE FUN Once we dive in and get out of our own way—we kick ass. The fastest way forward? Staying positive and hopeful. I could give you all the tips in the world on how to start a conversation with a stranger, and how to keep engaging them in an enjoyable chat, and it won’t make a difference to the outcome. Don’t worry—I’ll still give you the low down on easy conversations, just so you feel armed and ready to go—but according to several studies,25 you’ll end up having as good a chat with or without conversation tips. That’s like knowing you’re going to walk away from the roulette table a winner, regardless of whether you bet on red or black. I say, bet early and bet often! (…) LET ME TELL YOU A STORY: Mitch was a young guy growing up in Sydney in the early nineties. While he loved his hometown, it felt very small to him in many ways and the cultural scene often felt repressed. He’d fantasized about moving to New York City where he knew he could more fully express himself as a well-rounded creative. While in his early twenties, he worked in PR and was fascinated by the mix of art, politics, and sexuality that he was reading about in magazines like PAPER and

The Village Voice. Very much into the night-life scene, he eventually found himself dancing at Sydney’s biggest party of the year—Mardi Gras. Thousands of handsome gents had poured into the city from around the world to dance for days. Next thing Mitch knew he was chatting to a New Yorker, to whom he wistfully confided, “I would love to live in New York City!” Moments later, Mitch had an open invitation to come crash in NYC. What did he do? He finished college in three months, saved up money, and moved to New York where he still lives twenty-five years later. He told a random stranger what he wanted, and in that moment the stars aligned, and his dreams came true. One way to get in a SUPER YES mindset is to hang with others who enjoy connecting with new folks. Do you have a friend in sales who has no issues schmoozing a room getting to know everyone? Is one of your relatives the town matchmaker and hears everyone’s business? People who like people have an energy that you can emulate. Jump in on the action. Watch them. Take mental notes. How do they get in and out of conversations gracefully? How do they make the person they’re talking to feel heard, seen, and appreciated? Do as they do, with all the YES you can rally. A Look at What Holds Us Back Here is a list of other ways we justify avoiding new interactions. Scan down this list and see which ones resonate with you, then skip ahead, and read how to approach your particular hesitation. Next time you’re debating whether to go to something, you’ll not only recognize the voice in your head that’s holding you back, but you’ll respond to it appropriately. Classic List of Excuses: 1. Going out is a waste of time. No one wants to.meet me, talk to me, or help me. Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

91


| FEATURE AUTHOR | 2. I already know all the real players in my industry/ company. 3. Everyone wants to meet me, and I want to meet no one. 4. I don’t have time, I’m just too busy. 5. I’m tired, lazy, or I’d rather just stay home. 6. I can’t be bothered to put myself out there. 7. I’m scared they won’t like me. 8. I don’t like shallow chitchat; it feels like I’m wasting my time.

time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself—or even excelled—I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jig would be up.” She has often shared with the media that, despite having gotten into Harvard’s honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, she didn’t feel like she deserved to be there. In an interview about Lean In, Sandberg shared, “There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.”

The best way to defuse excuses and fears is to address them head on. Decide which ones resonate with you, and take a look at how you can adjust your behavior accordingly.

While you might think that fame and success would reassure someone with huge talent and followers, sometimes self-doubt can still creep in. David Bowie is quoted as saying, “I had enormous self-image problems and very low self-esteem, which I hid behind obsessive writing and performing … I really felt so utterly inadequate. I thought the work was the only thing of value.”

1. Going out is a waste of time. No one wants to meet me, talk to me, or help me. This is probably the most common excuse I’ve heard. Can you relate to the idea that no one wants to meet you? That no one will find you interesting? That no one will want to help you achieve whatever goals you might have? Well, with that kind of attitude, I dare say you’re probably right. No one likes a sorry sap. Instead, buck up baby, wipe your tears, put on a bold, happy face, and get out there! You believing in you is the only thing that matters. You wanting to help yourself and others is the only thing that’s going to move your needle. And you trusting that you’re interesting and of value is the main contributing factor to actually being that. Don’t believe me? Research shows that nearly 70 percent of people are plagued with feelings of self-doubt, often called imposter syndrome.26 Imposter syndrome is a pattern where someone doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments so they suffer from a constant internalized fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.’ Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Meta Platforms Inc. (formerly known as Facebook) and the founder of LeanIn.org, has admitted that she often felt like an imposter. She wrote in her book Lean In: “Every 92 | UncagedBooks.com

In her documentary, Five Foot Two, Lady Gaga says, “I still sometimes feel like a loser kid in high school, and I just have to pick myself up and tell myself that I’m a superstar every morning so that I can get through this day and be for my fans what they need for me to be.” While movie screen stunner Penelope Cruz shared, “I feel every time I’m making a movie, I feel like [it’s] my first movie. Every time I have the same fear that I’m gonna be fired. And I’m not joking. Every movie, the first week, I always feel that they could fire me!” Many people talk about ‘faking it, until you make it’ to overcome imposter syndrome. I’m a massive fan of this approach. Don’t listen to that voice in your head. You’ve got a lot to offer, go out and offer it! You never know where your initiative will lead. But if you can’t pep talk your way into a better state of mind, do the following: Stop talking and take action. Rather than try to convince yourself you can do better, give it a shot. Even if you initially fail, action is motivating and encourages you to try again— which of course increases your odds of success and gets your thoughts headed in the right direction. As humans, we like to over-


| FIL REID | think things. By jumping in and doing the thing you are nervous about you’re taking a stand and making tangible efforts.

only at the gym, or only at church. Look at your life holistically and see where you have an opportunity to dive deeper.

Focus on your past successes. Take stock of what you’ve done well. Make a list of your achievements and when you hit a mental roadblock, review your past wins. Reminding ourselves that, “We’ve got this” goes a long way to keeping us moving forward.

If you love music, you could start attending music festivals and mingling with other like-minded music lovers. Maybe you aspire to be an artist? Perhaps a weekend art class supplemented with museum tours could be the way forward to meet other people who share your passion and who will add dimensionality to your life. It’s possible that making artistic friends improves your life at work in unexpected ways. Perhaps you’re in a better mood, so you’re kinder. Maybe you’ll be more likely to support different creative avenues at work. You simply never know how the different people you’ll meet will contribute, improve, or even expand your current world.

Celebrate each win, big and small. If you’re stuck in a pit of self-doubt, you can become consumed by it. It’s easy to blow insecurities out of proportion. Try to notice when you have negative thoughts and realize they are just that—thoughts. Focus on the small wins, and the momentum built by those tiny changes can add up quickly. Make notes about what’s working and where you’re feeling good. Identify what you’re doing to support the good and do more of that. This will help you keep tabs on your wins. What we focus on will grow, and pretty soon you’ll have more wins. So, if you realize on days you meditate, you have less anxiety and more patience for the people around you … meditate more often. If on days you have that third cup of coffee you’re more irritable and less open minded … skip that last coffee. 2. I already know all the real players in my industry/ company. I find that when people are this brazen, and confident, it’s probably true. You probably do know all the players, and you’re pretty bored with how things are currently. Maybe it’s time to branch out. For instance, if you work in manufacturing, you could start to meet new people in the world of shipping and distribution, or in other facets that positively affect your work in manufacturing. Being powerful and well connected has a certain appeal, but living in your head, and resting on your laurels will eventually get boring. Life shouldn’t be stagnant! That means it is likely high time you start to meet new people in different areas of life that interest you. You can’t rely on meeting people only at work, or

3. Everyone wants to meet me, and I want to meet no one. When you’ve made it, however you define that, people will want to talk to you. They will line up after you’ve given a talk to shake your hand, ask you questions and connect with you. They will want to work with you and for you. They will also want you to help them achieve their dreams. Is it any wonder that you might not want to socialize? You feel as if the world is tugging on your sleeve, needing you to do them favors while you’re wondering: What’s in it for me? I’ll tell you what’s in it for you. New friends. New adventures. New opportunities. New awareness. When you self-select out of engaging with others, you’re missing the opportunity to expose yourself to new perspectives and the personal growth that goes along with that. That’s not to say that it’s easy to weed out the clingers from the genuine souls, but by keeping an open mind, you’re staying in the game.

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

93




authorjayciemandrell.com


Banned Books: A History of Censorship Guest column by Amy Shannon


| GUEST COLUMN |

Banned Books: A History of Censorship by Amy Shannon

For centuries (literally centuries) some books have been burned, banned or challenged. In the United States, and other countries as well, there have been lists (that keep growing) of banned books. Many times, a banned or burned book is because of the topic, or even that it has a certain “word” in it. Books aren’t just banned from schools, but from public libraries, and even prison libraries. In some cases, I can see why certain books shouldn’t be allowed in schools, especially elementary schools, if it’s adult content. The first amendment of the United States Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” However, there are exceptions, for safety, such as not yelling fire in a crowded movie theater. Also, “Certain forms of speech, such as obscenity and defamation, are restricted in communications media by the government or by the industry on its own.” There can be a slippery slope in what is deemed “obscene” or when someone causes “defamation” of another. This is not a new subject, book banning, book burning, book challenging, censorship. Some books because of their content shouldn’t be in an elementary school, but maybe allowed to be in middle schools and high schools. Teenagers and adults should have the freedom to read whatever they want. Authors write, and a book ban, takes away something from them, whether it revenue or even the emotions that went into writing it, and now no one can read it. Every book is worth reading, and the great ones are worth finishing. For centuries, books have been banned, burned and whatever, even called “works of the devil.” Why 98 | UncagedBooks.com

now? Why not now. Authors have been struggling with book bans, and sometimes, when something is banned, especially books, it makes those sales go up even more. Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews is a book review blog (actually it’s now more like a dedicated website to books, where any author, of most any genre can request a review.) There is now a compiled list of “Banned Books” and the list will be added. https://writeramyshannon.wixsite.com/bookshelfreviews/banned-books There is also a new bookshelf on Amy’s Library called “Banned Book Reviews.” Under the list, there is a form, where anyone can suggest a banned book to read, whether it’s your own, or one that you’ve read, or just found out about. There is also a donation button so Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews can raise money to buy more banned books. Once the book is reviewed and the review posted, paperbacks of the banned books that were bought will be auctioned or sold in order to buy more books. https://writeramyshannon.wixsite.com/bookshelfreviews/amys-tbr Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews website and The Official Blog of Amy Shannon, will be posting about banned books, and the history of burning, banning and challenging books. Not all banned books are on the list, but more research is still being done. Doing the research and finding out all this information, there were notes as to why the book was banned or challenged, such as appropriateness for children, but some books are written for children, so they can deal with certain situations or feel belonging because their family or they, themselves, may be “different.” Historical Book Burnings China (213 BC) The first recorded book burning, and it was ordered by the Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Nazi Book Burning: In 1933, Nazi student groups burned books publicly because they were “un-German.” This one date, the book


burnings were done in 34 universities. These books were written by Jewish and Liberal writers. It was to symbolize power and censorship of the Nazis. (Holocaust Encyclopedia). Iran Book Burning: In Iran, 1946, when the Iranians defeated the Kurdish government, and they burned all the books that were written in the Kurdish language, and also banned any teachings of Kurdish. The United States of America. And yes, book burning has also happened in the United States. Binghamton, NY 1948. US, 1956 (Wilhelm Reich’s books). United States, 1973 a school board in North Dakota burned 32 copies SlaughterhouseFive by Kurt Vonnegut and 60 copies of Deliverance by James Dickey. Pennsylvania, 2001, Harry Potter Books were burned. Germany, 2006 Copies of The Diary of Anne Frank were burned, and a riot was incited, causing racial hatred.

Tele Viv, Israel 2008 Orthodox Jewish students burned copies of the New Testament. Burning is supposed to be more “symbolic” than simply banning books or challenging them. Banning Books. The American Library Association has its own website, and there are different lists of the books that were banned in different years. And on some of those lists, the same books were listed. This is still happening. Children’s

| AMY SHANNON | books are being banned in schools. Parents should decide what book their child can read or can’t read, or the parent reading to them. In a lot of the research, one of most banned “topics” were about LGBTQ community. Children’s books about same sex parents raising children. Others were about finding their own identity, whether it was gender-based or not, or sexual orientation, or just trying to figure things out. Some books were about teenage suicide, not to promote it, but to share the reality of it, and help someone see that they are not alone. The Smithsonian Magazine, did an article, about book banning and burning, and they quoted “author Barbara Tuchman said in her 1980 address at the Library of Congress, ‘Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible.’” Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews and The Official Blog of Amy Shannon wants to know if a book that is banned and it’s not on the list, so it can be added. Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews is also accepting donations of books and via PayPal, so that banned books can be purchased. To also support the cause, of reading books that are banned, Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews designed some graphics for the Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews swag products and are for sale on Café Press. Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews and The Official Blog of Amy Shannon supports all authors, and their work. Adults should have the right to read what they want to read, and not have someone tell them otherwise.

©Copyright 2022 Amy Shannon for Uncaged Book Reviews www.uncagedbooks.com

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

99



feature authors

Robert Buschel

V.P. Morris

thriller | suspense

Freddy Cruz


R

obert Buschel has a storied career as a trial lawyer. His cases compel him to dive deep into politics, medicine, and computer science. Although Robert writes to live, not to re-live, he filters and refines the stories of the world around him for a never-ending supply of fresh tales for his readers to enjoy. 102 | UncagedBooks.com

R o bert B uschel


Stay Co n n e c te d

sions of vulnerability and fallibility were emotionally hard to write. The easier and fun parts to write were the schemes prior to the Ponzi scheme. It was fun to create and build the schemes that served as the foundation for the ultimate Ponzi scheme Gregory and his team started and had to maintain.

robertbuschel.com Uncaged welcomes Robert Buschel Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest book, God’s Ponzi is a financial thriller which releases on March 3rd. Can you tell readers more about this book? Gregory Portent takes you, the reader, on a wild scheme to defraud. And you’re going to love it. Gregory is not your typical Ponzi schemer. He created this Ponzi scheme in order to get revenge against evil lawyers and other nasty white collar criminals for destroying his best friend. All is under control with the help of artificial intelligence, until --- an unexpected black swan event in the market. Think Silicon Valley meets the Wolf of Wall Street. What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? There’s a scene toward the end, where the leader of the scheme, Gregory Portent, is at the precipice of facing prison or his own murder, if he doesn’t come up with millions of dollars to fill the impending collapse if he doesn’t fill the financial hole in the Ponzi scheme. Gregory makes a series of calls on his computer to all his friends on his team, while he’s waiting for the outcome of his last “throw of the dice,” to save himself. The talks paid homage to each of them. Gregory confesses his flaws and no matter what the outcome of the scheme, he was a better person for knowing them. It’s a very cathartic. We should all participate in this act as needed, but at least once in our lives. But his confes-

Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about? One character is named Jeffrey Gogolas, nicknamed, “Googol.” He is a law and technology professor at M.I.T. He is a quiet hero. He will be there when you need him because he promised he would be there. Writers are actors in some sense, in that we have to tap into the darkness when a character takes us to that place. There are dark corners in God’s Ponzi. How do you come up with the title to your books? Titles are fun. I enjoy naming chapters too. My formula for coming up with a title? I ask: What is this novel about; what will intrigue? What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? I live in Florida, the most “Ponzi” place on the planet. When lawyers that I’ve worked with participated in one of the largest Ponzi schemes in the country, I was disappointed, but I also knew there was a novel buried in this tragedy. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? The plot. There’s a story that must be written. Then the characters are born to tell the story in the most fascinating ways. What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

103


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

104 | UncagedBooks.com


| ROBERT BUSCHEL | I’m a private pilot (instrument rated). When I get a chance to fly (mostly single engine land) planes, I enjoy doing it. It focuses me on only flying and it relaxes me at the same time.

Enjoy an excerpt from God’s Ponzi God’s Ponzi Robert Buschel Financial Thriller Releases March 3

If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? Winter in Florida. It’s like Spring everywhere else. How many hours a day do you write? On average, how long does it take to write a full novel? I write as required. Some days, it’s 500 words; others 1500 words. This is my second novel. The first one took twenty years to get discovered. God’s Ponzi, only five. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? Reading is reading in any form. I’m studying great narrative writers like Anne Patchett and Alex Michaeledes because their technique is about unwrapping the story – the techniques are entrancing. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? God’s Ponzi is a fun adventure. You’ll grow up with the main character and you’ll learn how each traumatic event in his life made him become the schemer that he becomes. But the act that might save him is pure random.

Gregory Portent demands revenge. Revenge is best served cold and when the prey begs to be the target. With his skills and charisma he lures them in easy—using an investment bank to launch a Ponzi scheme. Gregory Portent has one advantage—artificial intelligence. At a critical point, he loses his way. A ‘black swan’ event follows and the Ponzi scheme borders on the brink of collapse. It’s not about revenge anymore; it’s about survival. Greedy lawyers, the FBI, and international syndicates pursue him. Greg must go on the run. Everyone he cares about is now in danger. He must win. The strange thing? You’ll be rooting for him the whole time. Will he win big and get his vengeance? Robert Buschel proves beyond a reasonable doubt, he is a rising storyteller. Pick up God’s Ponzi and unlock the secret behind the world’s most diabolical Ponzi scheme. Excerpt PROLOGUE Suppose your friend’s girlfriend is a stripper. Would you go to the gentleman’s club and pay her for a lap dance? Is that wrong? It’s your good friend’s friend. On the other hand, stripping is her job. And if it’s something she’s willing to do for a stranger, why’s it wrong if she does it for you? What if she’s really good and you pay her extra? You know, tip her well. Money isn’t the issue? Fine. What if you Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

105


| FEATURE AUTHOR | then see her at her work all the time and it becomes a regular thing? What if because you’re friends with her friend, she considers you a friend, and now she feels there’s nothing wrong with a little extra in the V.I.P. room because you won’t talk, and she’s comfortable with you? You’re now her friend, and it’s your birthday - and you’ve already seen her naked nearly a hundred times and wondered what it would be like to touch her. Any of this wrong? Before today, I would have been able to make the right decision, the ethical decision, even before my private naughty orgasm released a rush of regret to my anterior cingulate cortex. People who have the luxury of doing the right thing for the right reasons would disapprove of what I’ve been doing for the past several years -committing crimes. But I’ve been committing these crimes for the right reasons. When I’m done, the world will be in a better place, and I’ll have my satisfaction - my revenge. Revenge for me, turned into a blood oath. But the problems erupted quickly because revenge made me myopic. Yesterday, I was content to act like a criminal. Before then, I wouldn’t have had a problem answering those ethics questions. No, it’s not complicated either. It’s simple. It was simple for me and it’s simple for the world. People just like to make the answers complicated in order to justify their bad behavior. Before, I wouldn’t have even gone into the club. I never would have allowed myself to be tempted to make the wrong move. Because even though my friend ‘s girl would take her clothes off and grind up against other sleazy, horny toads if he or she had the money, the point is - that’s my friend’s girl, and I wouldn’t disrespect my friend. Others may know what she looks like naked, what she feels like, and what it’s like to pay to look at her. Hell, these strippers’ boyfriends or managers, have to pay the girl’s rent so they can see them naked. The world of other seedy men could know these things - but I shouldn ‘t. I needed to know everything else. I needed to 106 | UncagedBooks.com

know who was willing to violate that friendship. Who was ethical and who was a lying, unscrupulous piece of shit. Others have called me a sophisticated and treacherous Machiavellian. Pick the blue pill or the red pilJ.2 But it’s simple. I already know what you’re going to say, “You picked the blue pill.” Because when the shit goes down, the FBI, SEC, IRS, or some politically-motivated state prosecutor who wants to become a judge, throws around some accusations, “queen for a day” immunity letters, or just plain want to snap the handcuffs on the rare members of the privileged investment class, for some sexy headlines and a perp walk3 - you want to be able to portray yourself as living in the believable reality of blissful ignorance. You didn’t know a thing. You would never do something like that. You’re moral. World, hear me! Alright, you made four-hundred-percent on your money in ninetydays, but - really, I didn ‘ t know something criminal was going on. So what’s my problem? Well, I’m part of a criminal enterprise - a Ponzi scheme; and I hold a leadership position in that enterprise. The enterprise has gone international. It’s big and ongoing - worth billions. I wanted to work faster while remaining methodical. I had to run the scheme my way. Of course I wanted your help. I wanted to trap certain treacherous investors and keep the innocent ones out, for sure. But some people can’t help themselves - they ‘re drawn to the bright ultraviolet light in the center surrounded by the electrified grill. Meant to kill mosquitoes, sometimes a friendly lizard will just ride the lightning until its well-done body drops to ground. Here we are in a simple Ford E350 Econoline van in front of my ocean-front condo.4 I adjusted the laptop on the passenger seat in order to remove the glare off the screen, and there’s a postcard in the center console with physicist Garrett Lisi ‘s EB physics model in full color on it. I turned it over and my wife, Taylor wrote, “May God’s particle be with you.”s I ‘ll admit it, even under the stress of being chased by international syndicates and the FBI, I smiled and continued to drive. With the aid of cutting-edge artificial intelligence - my best friend, I might be able


| ROBERT BUSCHEL | to survive. Next step, go off-line and finish God ‘s Ponzi. •

Riding in this van down the highways of America, I realize I haven ‘t had a good night ‘s sleep in years. In my mind ‘s eye, I see the body of our enemy dangling from a rope or rotting in prison. Thinking about every chess move that can be played and how we could counterattack. If we took a flash- photo of the situation, it looks like I stole a shit ton of money in my own investment bank while running a Ponzi scheme. To rework a remark attributed to bank robber, Willie Sutton: Why start a bank? It’s where the money is. Banks are magical - not many people understand banks. But some people love money the more the better. Banks have the power to lend and the power to repossess money and assets. A bank can lend ninety-percent of its capital as long as there is a ten-percent reserve. What if people want their money back at the same time? It’s called a “run on the bank.” The bank goes under, it implodes. It implodes just like a Ponzi scheme that runs out of fresh investor funds. There is no getting around the criminal, civil, and bankruptcy litigation that will ensue if I ‘m caught in the crosshairs. A plea or trial is not a viable option since my goal is not to spend the rest of my life in prison. Or, some less ethical people could just have me killed. Everyone understands this. What’s the point of all this calculus? To remind you I can’t get caught. Sure, suicide has crossed my mind. But, I’m perfectly healthy and I believe in the sanctity of life. Dying would be surrender - a loss, as in not a win. As careful as I was to prevent innocents from getting caught up in my scheme, getting caught now would hurt many of them. The purpose of the scheme was not motivated by money or greed; but for revenge, through means of proving one major point lawyers aren’t heroes.

Boiled down to its essence, I’m still playing because I can still win. I can still get out of this alive. I need forty-two million dollars by the end of the week Once I make the money, ironically I won’t need it. I just need to prove that I have fortytwo million. Or, “always had it.” I can’t manufacture bank records that show the bank is well capitalized either because the bank is past due on a payout to existing investors. And unless you know someone that’s willing to let me have forty-two million dollars with no interest, to keep a bank afloat that can go under the next day, I really need to produce a fresh forty-two million. I’m going through the options. One must consider all options carefully; obtain the most information possible before choosing. Pick the best response based upon what others are likely to do. The key is to get perfect information. Once I have the information, I analyze the likely outcomes and select based on the best of the best possible outcomes. In a nutshell, this is what’s called, “game theory.” It’s hard to explain to idiots and hostile lawyers that game theory is serious. In game theory, everyone is a participant, but only the shrewdest are players. It doesn ‘t mean that I think we’re “playing a game,” that is to say I ‘m taking the situation lightly. God forbid you tell a lawyer on a mission for money that he’s an irrational game player based upon known information and witness the reaction. In essence, we always should study strategic decision making. The key to this game is understanding the desired outcome. The game itself seems like I have the typical objective - money; but money is not my objective. Between the object and my goal, is the squeeze. Even though game theory is a study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation, we cannot assume our adversaries are rational game players. My strategy is to appear as the irrational game player. But I’m an evil game player. They are greedy, so they assume I’m greedy. If they commit to that assumption, they can still lose miserably. We deIssue 64 | March/April 2022 |

107


| FEATURE AUTHOR | veloped the one major secret weapon, cuttingedge artificial intelligence- the AI; that is, true AI- a self-learning machine. AI that can gather data and analyze the meaning of the data better than any software service produced to date. It’s a step ahead- whole-life management. Not just managing my life, it suggests how I should live my life in order to achieve my goals set. So, I tasked it to help me run the world ‘s largest Ponzi scheme. The AI analyzed the data and offered me a way to make the scheme to go supersonic. I was warned, I admit it. Financial groups, feeder funds, cartels, you name it, wanted their data to remain undetected and their money properly invested. We exploited it. The team provided the proof that this could be done. Then the numbers spun out of control. The Ponzi scheme, like most that invest in the markets, caught the proverbial black swan - that bad hand of cards. If I can’t fix this black swan, bad hand, or bolt of lightning in the next few days, I could end up dead and I’ll be leaving behind the lives left in shambles of the people I care about. •

If you’re in a position of authority and can’t tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy, then you’re incompetent. If you can tell the difference and you don’t care, then you’re evil. These lawyers are evil. I’m talking about the lawyers and their facilitators. A well-funded Ponzi6 scheme brings out all the fee-eaters. When a Ponzi scheme ends, the beginning of that end takes place in bankruptcy court. There’s the debtor, the Ponzi schemer’s corporate entity running the scheme; and, the creditors, the entities that are owed money from the debtor - the Ponzi scheme itself. The debtor wants to collect money from others so it can begin to pay the creditors some portion of what it owes - the reason the debtor is in bankruptcy. Why is the debtor in bankruptcy? Because economic downturns freak out investors. When investors freak out, they want their princi108 | UncagedBooks.com

pal investment back. In a Ponzi scheme this means they want to pull out their money - yesterday, so as not to incur financial loss. They want their investment back and are now eagerly waiting to rejoin reality with normal monthly return on their investment. The problem for the Ponzi schemer, and soon-to-be debtor, is that he’s been paying the extraordinary interest rate each month to investors and now not only do the investors want their principal back, the schemer can’t find new investors to pay the old ones. As the adage goes: When the tide goes out you discover who’s been swimming naked. Depending on how fast this process occurs, dictates how fast the Ponzi scheme collapses. Who and which entities are a debtor, net-winner, net-loser, victim, secured or unsecured creditor, and how much these various entities will get back when the clawback occurs in bankruptcy court, requires lawyers. Lawyers, special lawyers - bankruptcy lawyers. Who and what makes them special? They do. They’re like mountain people from the Appalachia. They’re related to each other, marry each other, are friends with each other, and they screw each other - and over. The Court and its members create special rules in order for the special lawyer to appear in bankruptcy court. Not just any member of the federal bar of that particular state and district can be a member of the bankruptcy bar, and appear (represent someone or some entity) and electronically file court documents. They’re a close-knit group, until they’re eating from the same wildebeest. Then it can get nasty. Interesting to watch if you’re not the wildebeest and have a detached and clinical acceptance that this is the way of the bankruptcy Serengeti - hyenas eat wildebeests. The Ponzi scheme always ends in bankruptcy courtthe last phase. It ‘s where Ponzi schemes go to die. Then lots of money flows into the hands of the feeeaters. Think of the money as the meat of the wildebeest and the fee-eaters eat away at that meat. The portion of meat is dependent upon the size of the wildebeest. The size is determined by how much money can be collected and from how many.


| ROBERT BUSCHEL | Some collection efforts are easier because a trustee might only have to stick-up a few banks and collect millions at once. Then the lawyers think the game is over. But, the lawyers assumed the game was only played in court. My favorite words in jurisprudence: “We’re adjourned.” That’s when my work begins. Before I even started my Ponzi scheme, I found out that Ponzi schemers were using my closest friend, Joseph’s early versions of his open source software for their criminal schemes. He had no part of any criminal activity. Regardless, I could only lock onto the question: What were you thinking, Joseph? Why can’t you answer me? I could have access to the entire database of Joseph’s brain, and I still wouldn’t understand. He opened the source code of early versions of his software service that helped manage their schemes. He had too much faith in man. He thought the best of mankind and individual men. It was his religion; religion in that he stopped using logic, until it was too late. Trust was his form of religion. These thoughts kept swirling in my head. No music on the radio; driving meditation, there was nothing but silence but for the sound of tires biting the highway beneath. My biggest fear? Dying before I obtain my vengeance. The desert was cold at night, especially in the beginning of February. On I-10 West all day, desert forever. Snakes were crossing in the middle of the road. As I drove across the interstate, the skyline and horizon became electric. It can be seen from space. As I approached civilization, affirming my plan, ceasing to analyze whether the plan was correct; there was no turning back, No point in turning myself in, my prison sentence would be effectively the same. I’m not committing suicide. Murder was not the answer, yet. I needed to double millions in two days. Where do I go? Where can this happen? The noise becomes distracting. The lights make me teeter on the edge of fits. There is only one way to make it happen. Game theory’s best strategy, my best answer- Vegas baby, Vegas. Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

109


showcase

Joyce McLean Kenneth McKenzie Diary 1869-1870 Kenneth McKenzie Diary 1869-1870 Joyce McLean

“I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way…” What a powerful song by the late Whitney Houston. But sometimes, the young ones will make their own decisions that would define their characters despite the teachings and guidance of their parents, relatives, schools, church—the whole village. Was This Fate? tells of the story of a young man who thought he had life all figured out. That was until he let alcohol and anger lead him into making the worst decision of his life! Being humbled by the justice system, he strived to become a better version of himself. In the end, he was given a second chance. Not everybody gets one. As life is like a tire, he found himself at the bottom one moment. But since a tire rolls, he did find himself at the top and made something out of himself despite the misfortunes that happened to him.

Talking to the Author Q: What’s the hardest thing about being an author? The transcription of my great-great grandfather’s journal was not an easy task. It was 110 | UncagedBooks.com

written in pencil, sometimes faded, and with a style of writing of yesteryear, particularly capital letters, that was difficult to decipher. Moreover, the vocabulary, place names and people’s names of that era were not always familiar or easy to comprehend. Q: What is the best thing about being an author? It is gratifying to bring material to readers that they would not otherwise have encountered. Q: What book changed your life? I have been an avid reader all my life, but no particular book comes to mind. Q: What inspired you to write this book? I was motivated to record my great-great grandfather’s journal so that all family members could appreciate his contribution to history, and to preserve the details of that time in history for histo-ry buffs. Q: How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work? This is a day-to-day account by my ancestor of his travelling to and establishing a farm in West-ern Canada and his daily experiences in the 1870s. Q: Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally? Some writers will have a natural flow to their


writing, which will require only minor changes and editing; others will spend considerable time recrafting their initial draft and perfecting their work. Q: What is the take home lesson you wish your readers will learn after reading this book? I hope that readers will have an appreciation not only of the hardships of travel and life at that time in history, but also an admiration for the self-sufficiency of individuals of that era. Q: What books are currently in your to be read pile? Tell the Bees that I am Gone – Diana Gabaldon State of Terror – Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny The Madness of Crowds – Louise Penny Peril – Bob Woodward & Robert Costa Q: Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? I hope that this book will inspire readers to learn more about the historical events mentioned in The Diary. Available at:

Joyce McLean is the great-great granddaughter of Kenneth McKenzie, one of the earlier settlers to Manitoba, Canada, during the formative years of the province and indeed Canada as a country. She grew up on the farm that was passed down from generation to generation within the McKenzie family. In transcribing the journal of Kenneth McKenzie, she wanted to make this firsthand description of life at the dawning of the country accessible to current family members and those to come, as well as any others fascinated with history. Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

111




V

.P. Morris is an award-winning thriller and horror writer and podcast host. Her interest in criminal psychology inspired both of her novels Dead Ringer and ShadowCast. When she isn’t writing or reading, she is cooking healthy meals, watching scary movies, and spending time with her husband and son. 114 | UncagedBooks.com

V. P. MORRIS


Stay Connected

vpmorris.com

I’ve really enjoyed writing Taylor’s character. This was the first full length manuscript I wrote after college and I became very attached and invested in her. When I would take a break while writing the book, I would even miss her like she was a real person I know. Her partner-in-crime, Ivan has an abusive father. I didn’t enjoy writing him being disrespectful and neglectful of his own teenage son. How do you come up with the title to your books?

Uncaged welcomes V.P. Morris Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest book, Dead Ringer will release April 7. Can you tell readers more about this book?

Some come to me in a flash and others I have to think about for weeks or months before I get the right title. Dead Ringer came to me in an instant. I saw the title with my main character’s appearance and personality, and I knew I had to put it paper.

Thanks for having me! Dead Ringer is a dark thriller following Taylor Callahan, a young woman with a troubled past and criminal record. When she accidentally causes the death of a teen girl who looks just like her, Taylor takes over her life to give herself a fresh start. But soon she comes face to face with the deadly secrets the girl’s family is hiding and she must try to outwit them in order to survive.

I picked the title because it is a bit ominous with the word “dead” in it. Plus, it plays on the old folktales about bad things befalling you when you meet your doppelganger which certainly happens to the girls in this novel when they meet the person who looks just like them.

What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? There is a flashback scene where Taylor remembers her mother throwing her out of the house at the age of sixteen. It was hard for me to write about someone being so cruel to their own child, but it serves as a catalyst for many things that happen over the course of Taylor’s life. The easiest scene to write was the beginning when Taylor takes over Jamie’s identity. Taylor has survived on the streets by committing low level crimes. It was fun to have her use her street smarts to pull off a much bigger con. Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about?

What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? Even though I write a lot of dark subject matter and am a horror movie fan, when I’m actively writing a dark thriller, I can’t watch or read anything in that genre. During the writing and editing of Dead Ringer, I read fantasy novels meant for teenagers and watched nothing but sitcoms and RomComs to balance out the intensity of the novel I was writing. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? I usually get the idea for the characters first with a hint of the plot. When I start outlining, I focus on the plot to make sure the twists and turns are going to happen at the right moment. What are some things you like to do to relax when Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

115


| FEATURE AUTHOR | you aren’t writing or working? I’m working on getting better at cooking. I like to put on an interesting podcast and try a recipe for dinner a few times a week. I’m also a bit of a cinephile and I like to watch classic films and keep up with new releases. If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? I would have it be spring all year around because it always feels like new things are possible when the weather turns warm but not too hot and the flowers start blooming. I like to write in the spring and summer because it’s when I have the most energy. I like autumn a lot mainly due to my love of Halloween but the cooler weather makes me less productive so that’s why I would pick spring. How many hours a day do you write? On average, how long does it take to write a full novel? I usually write two hours a day but five days a week but occasionally I’ll have sessions where I write for four or five hours and get a lot done. I follow Stephen King’s advice about a first draft never taking more than a season of the year to finish. I strive to get the first draft done in under four months. I take a break and then revise for another or two after that before giving it to beta readers. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? When I’m busy, I prefer audiobooks so I can listen while doing chores or cooking dinner. But when my schedule is more open, I prefer to read physical books. I’m currently reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis as an audiobook. It’s been on my TBR list forever and I’m finally getting around to it. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? 116 | UncagedBooks.com

I’m super grateful for my readers and to anyone who purchases Dead Ringer and my earlier novel, ShadowCast. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram as @ TeaWriteRepeat and @ vpmorriswriter on Facebook

Enjoy an excerpt from Dead Ringer Dead Ringer V.P. Morris Thriller Releases April 7 Small-time criminal, Taylor Callahan, dreams of starting her life over. When she inadvertently causes the death of a teenage girl who looks just like her, she does the only thing she can do: she takes over the dead girl’s life. Now, twenty-one-year-old Taylor must navigate the ins and outs of living with the MacKenzies, the safe and loving suburban family of the dead teen girl. By using her street-smarts, fast-thinking, and the help of her best friend and partner in crime, Ivan, she works to keep her true identity a secret while fighting the demons of her past. Just as Taylor thinks she has made a new life for herself with the MacKenzies, she learns that this wholesome family hides a twisted and deadly secret. Excerpt I gathered the strength to turn around and stand up. In front of me, I saw each of the girls lying flat across the ground. Their blood soaking through their clothes into the wooden planks of the pier. My heart pounded as I knew it would have been me lying dead on the ground if Zeke had seen me first instead of Jamie. But somewhere between my horror and fear, I could see this tragic event as an opportunity for me.


| V.P. MORRIS | Ivan came running up from the parking lot, his eye swollen from Zeke’s fist. “Taylor, I’m sorry.” His voice was shaking. “He had a gun and told me he was going to kill us both if I didn’t say where you were and that he just wanted to talk to you. I’m so sorry,” he said as he pulled me into a hug. I hugged him back even though I was pissed at him for cracking so easily. I pulled myself away from his hold. “What do we do about the girls?” he asked, wiping a tear away from his good eye. He looked at the bodies then knelt down by Jamie. The bullet blasted through her eye socket, causing the right side of her face and back of her head to explode with blood and gore. “Holy shit, Taylor, I feel sick.” Ivan knelt on the floor and started dry-heaving. He took a breath and calmed himself down before asking, “Why did he even bother to kill them when he was after you?”

“You’re right but—” I flipped through her wallet and found her school photo ID. The colorful logo of a purple and yellow bear mascot was on the side. Here’s my chance, I thought. I can go back to high school and start over. When opportunity knocks, I might as well answer the door. I stood up and threw my jacket and shirt to the ground. “Hey, what the Hell are you doing?” Ivan shouted. “Switching places.”

Don’t miss this title:

“This girl, Jamie. She looks exactly like me. That’s why he killed her, he thought I was her.” Just to be sure, I felt for her pulse. Nothing. The same with the other two girls. Ivan crossed his arms across his chest. “Looked exactly like you? I don’t believe it.” I reached into the pocket of her hoodie and pulled out an iPhone with a bright orange case coated with stickon jewels and a pink leather wallet with a plastic display area for an ID. I handed him her driver’s license. “Damn, you’re right. She could be your twin.” But the sight of three dead bodies started to overwhelm Ivan. He began breathing heavily and shaking. “What do we do? Should we call the police? They shouldn’t just be left here. Who knows the next time someone will be out here?” Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

117




F

reddy Cruz is a Houston area media personality, last heard on the Marconi Award winning 104.1 KRBE. He is also an author, philanthropist, lover of new music and old books, and the host of the Book This with Freddy Cruz podcast. Fueled by coffee, laughter, a shared delight in his community, and love for his family, Freddy often marvels at his luck in being able to spend his days filling the buckets of all the things he values most in life. 120 | UncagedBooks.com

F R E DD Y CRUZ


Stay Connected

thefreddycruz.com Uncaged welcomes Freddy Cruz Welcome to Uncaged! Your latest release is called They Canceled the DJ, can you tell readers more about this book? What are you working on now that you can tell us about? They Canceled the DJ is inspired by actual events and follows the story of a radio personality’s not-so-stellar moments. An incident with a listener goes viral, then he ends up scoring a date with said listener, THEN… they hit it off. But just when things start to go right, she ditches him on-stage at a concert for a world famous pop star. And his quest for revenge ensues. As for current projects, I’m polishing up my 2022 release. A psychological thriller of sorts. It centers around two unsavory individuals, one of whom is a failed radio personality turned podcaster having an affair with the other’s mom. That’s all I can say for now. You are also a radio host and host a podcast, can you tell us more about that? I left pop radio after more than twenty years. Needed a change. My new podcast is called Freddy’s Huge ASK Podcast. Twice a week, I’ll speak with some of the coolest people in the world. Former Delta Force veteran turned author Brad Taylor, Pulitzer Prize winner and author Stephen Hunter, CEOs, entrepreneurs, life coaches, and more. Think of this as TED meets AV Club meets Masterclass meets Book Club.

is the easiest? The final chapter went through several iterations before getting the proverbial chef’s kiss. The concert scene in chapter 20 was the easiest and required very little editing. Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about? I really enjoyed creating AC’s character because he’s so REAL. Perfectly imperfect. He’s not necessarily good or bad. He’s just a regular guy who, like all of us, is capable of making terrible decisions. The character I had the most trouble with was Bobbi. But she eventually came to life. How do you come up with the title to your books? I knew When America Fell Silent would always be the title for the first novel. The second novel required some help. I took a poll and it came down to They Canceled the DJ and She Left Me for a Jerk with a Ukulele. The latter would have worked just as well, but the former won and the rest is history. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? I write longhand. Which means I can write almost anywhere. In fact, I cranked out ten pages with nothing but a flashlight during the infamous Winter Storm of 2021. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? I don’t make a conscious effort to focus on one more than the other. They’re equally important. Which means there are issues to fix in both areas when editing a manuscript.

What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

121


122 | UncagedBooks.com


What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? Bonding with my family, walking my dog Sparrow, reading, and on special occasions, a trip to the art museum. Something about being able to just stand in a room with some of the greatest creative minds of alltime seems like the ultimate flex. If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? Spring. Not too hot, not too cold. Juuuuuuuuust right. It’s easier to put in the miles on the jogging trail when it’s not a thousand degrees. How many hours a day do you write? On average, how long does it take to write a full novel? I can crank out a manuscript in about six months. Sometimes I skip because there are too many things going on, sometimes I skip because imposter syndrome kicks in. But when the wheels are turning, they turn FAST. On a good day, I can write four, sometimes five pages (longhand). On a bad day, two. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? Nothing beats having a physical book in hand. Plus, I like the fact that my family has accumulated a nicesized collection. But I also love a good audiobook. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist narrated by Jeremy Irons and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea narrated by Donald Sutherland are AMAZING. ***I don’t know what I’ll be currently reading at the time this publishes Current favorites include: Targeted by Stephen Hunter (fiction) and Move: How the New Science of Body Movement Can Set Your Mind Free (nonfiction)

| FREDDY CRUZ | What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? At the end of the day, time is all we have. You are bombarded with thousands of messages and so many options for entertainment. We’re literally the most entertained generation in the history of the world! So for you to choose my book and spend time with my imaginary friends, enemies, and frenemies is a commitment worthy of a billion thankyous. Hit up my website (www.thefreddycruz.com), subscribe to Freddy’s Huge ASK Podcast wherever you get your podcasts, and follow me on Instagram and Twitter. I’d love to connect, so sliiiiiide into those DMs!

Enjoy an excerpt from They Canceled the DJ They Canceled the DJ Freddy Cruz Suspense When a hotheaded DJ is caught in a viral web of vengeance, it’s unlikely he’ll find the wisdom to quiet his inner critic. Radio jock Aubrey Cortes cares way too much about what others think. After he humiliates himself in front of a listener-turned-love interest, he’s horrified when the explosive episode goes viral. But, after the disaster turns into a first date, he celebrates with a barrage of search-and-destroy tweets aimed at torpedoing his online critics. Thrilled when his newfound viral fame lands him a nationally syndicated show, he uses his connecIssue 64 | March/April 2022 |

123


| FEATURE AUTHOR | tions to arrange a backstage pass to meet his new squeeze’s legendary musical idol.

hundred dollars for a limited edition, three-dimensional photo book.

Cue mayhem.

Bobbi opens the door and ushers me into her townhome. She has everything. She waves a hand in the direction of framed magazine covers and articles featuring her home—in more languages than I can count. Fan art, created by her, lines an entire wall. Large pieces, small pieces. Art on canvas. Sketches in black and white. When guys show up to a love interest’s home for the first time, they show up with a gift. Flowers, something. Anything. What I have seen in Bobbi’s home makes me glad I have opted for something less tangible. It may cement my place in her heart.

Aubrey’s heart is cruelly betrayed on centerstage, and blows up big time. Again. And now he wants payback. Can Aubrey eat humble pie and take a Zen lesson or three, or will he go down in a fiery fit of revenge? Excerpt Since the turn of the century, fans have taken the meaning of “fanatic” to a whole new level. Gone are the days of a simple band shirt and tour poster. Those are for beginners. Artists who only go gold. And coffee mugs, tumblers, and smartphone cases? Those are for no-name SoundCloud artists who scored a two-hundred-dollar check in exchange for permission to use a clip of their song in a commercial for some dude’s used car lot, starring the Used Car Lot Dude’s daughter with that annoying kid lisp. Real fans showcase their diehard support with canvas paintings using blood and sculptures using the ashes of a dead loved one. And nobody rocks the merch game stronger than River Bronswell, the highest-selling artist of all time. Shirts, hoodies, jackets? He’s got the best designs. But those are for fake fans, the ones who can only name his radio hits. Any real River Bronswell fan has all the apparel, plus his complete line of talking dolls that sing and speak twenty different languages, including Aborigine. They have also bought his virtual reality games, augmented reality games, and vinyl dipped in twenty-four-karat gold, even though they have no idea what a record player is. They drink Riverbrand vodka, tequila, and River Tickler whisky gets his fans drunk enough at shows to pay two 124 | UncagedBooks.com

Giant text covers an entire side of the hallway that leads to her apartment. It reads, “Mr. Bronswell makes my heart swell.” The “Bronswell” and “heart” are red, the other words are black. The letters resemble what a serial killer would use in a note to a future victim. “This is...interesting,” I say with my mouth gaped open, pondering the fact that the authorities would consider her a person of interest if River ever turned up missing. For a split second, I consider rescinding my surprise. What she won’t know won’t hurt her. Or in this case, River. Across the hall hangs a stained-glass image of River as a saint. Next to it, a Renaissance-inspired painting depicting River as a Roman emperor. I clear my throat and raise my chin, embracing the role of museum curator. “And here we have, the Marcus Aurelius of Pop Music, benevolent ruler of hearts across the Rivertopian Empire,” I say with a horrible accent. “Not much, but it makes me happy,” says Bobbi, fluffing the River pillows and throw blankets on her couch. “Some might say I have an obsession.”




Burn the Curry Guest column by D.A. Andrews


| GUEST COLUMN |

Burn the Curry by D.A. Andrews

My mother was the kind of woman who needed control. Turned summer break into home-school days led by a syllabus of her own making, gave a schedule for what we had to sit in our rooms and learn, set limits to the time we got to enjoy a television show, picked when and where we went out, kept us sheltered from the outside world. Therapy taught me that generational trauma existed; how someone was formed based on the way they received love, or the lack thereof. Christianity and conservative Jamaica had a huge role in the passing down of these lessons. Unhealed trauma had a way of passing along in genetics and pushing your children off when they expressed affection. Fathers walking out and marrying another woman, raising her children, instead., had a way of presenting itself in month long arguments and enrolling your children in all girls’ schools. Education was the most important thing. There was time for nothing more. Their God, their religion, taught me that I was unclean, made to have my skin bur I the pits of hell if I so much as loved someone with the same thing that was between my legs. I often looked for love in people that rejected me. Rejected those that offered a sense of security and found homes in those that did not appreciate what I had to offer. My relationships became transactional in a sense, often resulting in me giving my entire being for a half of a fraction of what I was receiving. The capitalistic society of my romantic partnerships led me to fall in love with a man who consumed me. It started out as any other love story would: quickly, intensely, filled with butterflies, sweaty palms, days spent between sheets, and frogs settling into throats. What began as a summer fling, quickly became something more. They say hindsight is often 20/20 and looking back at this (and most of) my relationships, I should have known how it would have ended. His eyes always found something that was more. 128 | UncagedBooks.com

His reassurances fell on deaf ears, the beginning stages of OCD, and a lifelong pattern of trauma and the crushing fear of abandonment. I should have anticipated the day he would have gotten her pregnant. The few months after I last saw him, after I flew crosscountry to a barren state of dying love and false promises, I decided to reparent myself. Took lessons from my therapist, media, self-help books, and close confidantes. I learned how to truly be alone, stumbled back into lessons after stumbling out of various placeholder’s beds. The road to recovery is not a straight line and often looked like a series of mistakes followed by moments of clarity. The process involved me learning to cook, fend for myself for the first time in the midst of a global pandemic. Alexander taught me a staple of my heritage. Stitched me back together with a simple recipe just months before he died. The task was simple; cut the meat into chunks, season with whatever your heart desired, let it sit overnight, grease the pan, burn the curry. The term is a peculiar one, possibly unique to Jamaicans. Essentially, one burns the curry to release the flavour. Sets fire to something so critical in hopes of creating something new, something substantial. I have heard the term countless times, never truly understanding what it meant until that video call. The curry must disintegrate in order to become something more. I learned how to make curry chicken that day. And though I have messed up countless times after that, forgotten the proportions, made it too watery, for the first time I cooked my own meal. Provided for myself in more ways than any other person had before. Such a simple task had started a revolution in me. Sometimes giving up control could look like falling, failing, crying on shower floors, wiping your tears and picking yourself back up, and making very water curry chicken. I learned how to feel my feelings and embrace the tempest of this thing called life. It is when we succumb to the pain, that it has a chance to transform into something new. I still have a long way to go Still have loads to learn about choosing myself time and time again, setting and


maintaining boundaries, healing all that has come before me. However, I am no longer that girl who becomes devastated over someone who does not see her worth. I am no longer making myself small, dimming my light to let the light of others shine more brightly. I have risen out of the ashes like a phoenix; emerged as a woman who still loves wholeheartedly, despite what others have put her through, still coming home to myself in the midst of talking stages and failed situationships. I am no longer the girl who begged someone to stay. Begged them to choose me. Love me. Make me their home. So, if you must do anything, do this: Forgive yourself for being the person you had to be in this time. For accepting less than what you gave out. For acting in ways that traced their way back to the lands where your ancestors took their first breath. Understand that it takes time to grow and heal and accept what you truly deserve. Set fire to those old neural pathways and belief systems. Have a funeral for the person you no longer wish to be. And burn the curry.

©Copyright 2022 D.A. Andrews for Uncaged Book Reviews www.uncagedbooks.com

D. A. Andrews was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. Throughout the years, she has developed wide interests in various aspects of life, such as coffee, weddings, books, and psychology. She is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus with a BSc. in Marine Biology and Psychology (Honours) and is currently pursuing her MBA. She considers herself a nomad at heart and has changed cities and apartments quite as often as she changes her clothes. She is currently resting her head in Brunswick, Georgia, with her black cat (and familiar), Luna. Issue 63 | March/April 2022 |

129



fang-FREAKIN-tastic reviews

feature author

Nathan Timmel


N

athan Timmel was born and raised in Wisconsin. In his 20s, he discovered stand-up comedy and is a professional joke slinger to this day. He’s been writing since he could hold a crayon in his right mitt, and has three works of nonfiction under his belt. nathan currently lives in Iowa with his wife, two kiddos, and their cat, Turtle, who only comes out at night. We Are 100 is his first work of fiction. 132 | UncagedBooks.com

NATHAN TIMMEL


Stay Connected

You’re a comedian and a non-fiction writer, but “We Are 100” is a novel and its serious tone and topicality mean it isn’t a laugh riot. What can you tell me about the origin of the book — the first spark that led to the story and to your desire to write a thriller?

That helped me immensely; it made me focus on creating a narrative that flowed intuitively, and logically, and didn’t just jump from “cool moment” to “cool moment.” I’m interested in your efforts to inspire the reader’s empathy for the villains of the piece — both the pawns and the ultimate “big bad.” What can you tell me about your approach to characterization, particularly when it comes to the bad guys? Ah, here’s the big “secret”: The whole book really stems from the idea of empathy for the “bad guys.” I wrote from that point of view, because—not really a spoiler alert—the main bad guy is based on me.

Since stand-up comedy is my full-time job, I wanted to get some of my “non funny” ideas out there. I’d had a few thoughts bouncing around my head for a while, and I couldn’t figure out how to turn them into jokes. I can’t exactly remember what made me say, “Hey, dummy, write a book,” but that’s kind of what happened. I realized I could find another outlet for the “non joke” thoughts, and those became “We Are 100.”

More often than not, when someone is writing a book, they tend to make themselves the protagonist, or hero. People want to save the day. If that were the case here, I’d have created a member of law enforcement as my fantasy doppelganger. “Meet John Squarejaw, a tall, muscular, handsome FBI agent with broad shoulders, Einstein’s IQ, and the athletic abilities of Usain Bolt.”

Are there books/movies/shows that you would site as direct influences on either the story or the structure (or both) of “We Are 100?” Whose work do you admire in this crime thriller space?

But nope, not me. Many of the thoughts the “bad guys” have are thoughts I’ve had. The thoughts I mentioned earlier that I couldn’t make funny. How would I react if I were placed in any one of their circumstances? What would it take to really push me to the edge? When I had that answer, I had the motivation for Josh, the main black hat. From there, the rest sort of took care of itself. I’d be reading a book — Jon Krakauer’s “Missoula,” for example — and that would give me an idea for a “villain’s” motivation.

Given the no-funny nature of the book, this might sound odd, but my biggest influence was a special by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The guys behind South Park. I watched a video of them giving a writer’s workshop to college students, and it really stuck with me. I really liked their description of structure because at one point they said that the worst form of writing is, “and then.” “And then this happens, and then this happens, and then …” Then they explained that the best writing is, “because.” “Because this happened, this happens, which causes this to happen …”

Again, no spoiler here, the “bad guys” are your average, ordinary citizens, pushed into extreme circumstances. You’re meant to relate to them, because their story could be any of ours. Thus, the book tinkers with your moral compass. You know that what’s happening is technically illegal . . . but is it morally wrong? You have bad guys doing bad things to worse people. I have to admit, it’s been really neat to see readers Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

133


not only sympathizing with the “bad guys,” but actually rooting for them. I wasn’t sure how making sympathetic antagonists would turn out, but it seems to be working well. Why did you decide to self-publish the novel? Did you shop it around first or was it always your intention to self-publish? My wife, Lydia, insisted we get an agent and have this published by one of the bigs. I warned her that such a journey wouldn’t be easy, but she said she was up for it. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of the indifference people in the “artistic” world face was a rude awakening for her. Over 90 percent of inquiries receive no response, 9.5 percent offer a generic form letter, and 0.5 percent actually write back. The two responses we got were: “No one reads fiction anymore. People only read 134 | UncagedBooks.com

partisan politics books. Echo chamber stuff.” “This is really good. Have you tried reading some traditional thrillers, and making it more like that?” (This person seemed to want more traditional “good” and “bad” guys.) Thus, we were left to DIY, which has its pros and cons … After seeing what we were up against in trying to get a major publisher behind us, Lydia came to understand that self-publishing was a viable option. As long as we presented a quality product, what does it matter if it lacks a corporation’s seal of approval? Q: Anything we missed? Maybe, but if you did, I wasn’t fast enough to catch it. :)


Enjoy an excerpt from: We Are 100 We Are 100 Nathan Timmel Crime Thriller After losing his wife, Evan Francart is depressed. He has an axe to grind with the pharmaceutical company that jacked up the price of her medications, but feels powerless against a billion-dollar corporation. Then he meets Cassandra. She shows Evan a way to both end his life and become a hero. With her guidance, Evan interrupts a company board meeting and blows the building sky-high. As FBI agents Susan Chamberlain and Michael Godwin discover, Evan is the first of many. Ninetynine more like him wait anonymously in the wings, their targets just as personal as Evan’s: the prosecutor who lets rapists walk free, the inept surgeon who maims patients yet keeps operating, the phony evangelist preying on those seeking solace... and that’s just the beginning. Will the FBI unearth Cassandra’s identity before all 100 have carried out their plans? Excerpt “My name is Evan Francart,” Evan explained flatly. “And I want to make a statement.” As he finished his sentence, the fire alarm went off. Evan couldn’t help but smile wryly as he thought, Clever girl, that Janice. Fastest way to get people out of a building? Tell them it’s on fire. Evan glanced out the window. Fourteen stories down, he could see people beginning to trickle out the front doors. Michael interrupted his train of thought: “What kind

of statement? If this is about money—” Evan cut him off. “Everything is about money.” He paused. “But if you’re worried I’m here to take yours, that’s not the case.” The flow of employees from the building increased to a nice, steady stream. This was good. Evan knew he would be remembered as a terrorist, and probably a murderer, but they were going to have to give him credit for protecting innocent lives. Evan glanced at his watch. A few more minutes and the building should be clear. “You know,” he explained to his captives, “for a company that prides itself on shredding documents in order to keep secrets, you’re pretty sloppy about letting just anyone take those documents to the shredder.” There was no response, but Evan didn’t expect one. After letting everyone digest those words, he continued. “That means that no matter how well you protect your secrets from the public, the press, and even your underlings, someone will always know what you’re up to.” Evan stared hard at Michael. “Look,” Michael began, “I don’t know what you think we’re ‘up to,’ but this meeting...” Evan finished the sentence for him: “Is about acquiring a small company, taking command of their flagship drug, and raising the price so that you can receive bonuses while people who can no longer afford it, die.” Evan took one last look out the window. The number of employees exiting the building had slowed to almost nothing. He decided to give stragglers one more minute. “My wife was on Chlozopran.” If every member of the board had been nervous Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

135


a moment ago, everything that was happening to them finally sunk in. To put it in street parlance, shit just got real. “My wife was on Chlozopran, and after you bought the rights to it, you jacked up the price, and over the course of two years we had to drain our bank accounts and mortgage our house to keep her alive. I’m guessing you’ve figured out how it all ended by now.” “Look,” Michael Dexter began. His voice sounded almost sympathetic. Almost. “I’m sorry about your wife. Really. What we do here is to try and save lives. If we raise the price on a drug, it’s because of overhead. The money we make goes—” “Into R & D?” Evan interrupted. “Is that what you’re going with? You need more money to make better drugs? OK, if there’s so much research going on, then why did you get a $15 million bonus last year? Bonus. On top of your already obscene salary. Why did Mr. Moore get five million? The bonuses in this room add up to almost $50 million. Your salaries are over one hundred million. Company profits last year came in at $200 million. Why can’t that number be twenty million? It’s still profit, right? If you’re in the black, what’s the difference between $20 million and $200 million? What’s the difference between $2 million and $200 million if you’re profitable?” Evan paused again. “The only difference, as I see it, is the amount of your salary, and bonus. You want more, so you charge more.” Evan waited for a response. None came. “You charge more, and people die,” he concluded. Evan reached under a flap on his cart. A button awaited his touch. It had taken him three weeks to bring all the components to the building. Some parts stayed in his locker until he needed them; others were hidden in the nooks and crannies of the basement, places no soul ever wandered. After last night’s shift, he’d remained at work, 136 | UncagedBooks.com

diligently putting everything together in the custodial break room. No cameras in there; no one pays attention to the janitors. In the lobby? Sure, were cameras everywhere in the lobby. But the lepers, the untouchables who did the grunt work for the kings? No need to keep an eye on the disposable people who don’t exist in your world. Evan was surprised at how easy it was to assemble. A few wires, a trigger switch, and a firing mechanism. His benefactor had provided such clear instructions that even a child could have pieced it together. Evan stared directly at Michael Dexter. Under the flap, his finger tapped the button lightly. “And now you’re planning on doing it again. You want to acquire Metsger Pharm, just so you can own the rights to Diaphoneme. Once you own it, you’ll raise the price, and kill more people.” He looked around at the others. “And you’re voting to let it happen.” Evan thought of his wife one last time. He didn’t know whether or not there was an afterlife, or if he’d be seeing her in it, but he knew this was the end of his time on this particular mortal coil. “Well,” Evan sighed, nodding his head thoughtfully. “I hope all your second homes and tropical vacations were worth it.” Evan pushed the button he had been caressing. The explosion was so large it set off seismographs at Iowa State, the university thirty-plus miles away in Ames. Two days later, Karen Jordan, a kindly grandmother living a quarter mile from the Glenback Building in West Des Moines, would find Michael Dexter’s finger on her kitchen floor. It was a present from her golden retriever, Molly, who found it while out “doing her business.”




R E V I E W S

R E V I E W S 134

uNCAGED BOOKS uNCAGEDBOOKS.COM

140

FANG FREAKIN TASTIC fangfreakintasticreviews.com

144

AMY’S BOOKSHELF

writeramyshannon.wixsite.com/bookshelfreviewS


Uncaged Reviews The Waking of Ghosts Lilliana Rose YA/Urban Fantasy There is an evil awakening. At the Lost Souls academy, students aren’t your typical everyday alumni. Rejects from clans, packs, and covens walk these halls, but there’s something more sinister haunting the academy. A resident ghost has new student, Zarya, on the fight to banish it. Will her actions cause more enemies at her new school than friends?

Uncaged Review: This is a shorter read that introduces us to the members of the Lost Souls Academy. This is a school that has students that have been discarded from their people, because they are different. Zarya is a witch, but also a ghost hunter and fighter, so she was shunned by the Coven. She’s barely making it in the world until Avery, a powerful witch invites her to the academy that she started in a magical library. Here she will meet the other students, but also attracts the attention of a powerful ghosts that wants her dead. This didn’t really leave off on a bad cliffhanger at all, but the overall arc of the story does continue on. I like Zarya and the other students, and will more than likely continue on with the series to see how it all develops. Nice read. Reviewed by Cyrene

140 | UncagedBooks.com

Orange City Matthew Goldberg SciFi/Post-Apocalyptic Imagine a secret, hidden City that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the City forever. You can never leave.

Uncaged Review: This is a decent read, but it starts out pretty slowly for me. One thing that attaches me to a book, is back story. It doesn’t have to elaborate all the time, but I had really no idea how the world became as it is. I think a deeper dive into the back story of this world, and a bit more character development would have knocked this book out of the park. Once I got through the first part of the book, it was a bit hard to put down. In this book, a hidden city is for those that are considered outcasts. All controlled by a monstrous spider type man who controls everything, so they are not tossed from the city. A couple characters of note are “E” who is recuiting for the City, and Graham, who as an advertising exec, is tasked with testing a new soda called Pow!, a soda that can control emotions depending on its flavor. This is a very interesting concept, and with a bit more development, I would have rated it higher. Great concept and very original. Reviewed by Cyrene


Betrayed by Blood L.A. McGinnis Fantasy A spunky private investigator faces off against a corrupt government when she’s framed for murder and forced to run to New York City, where her own secrets might just get her killed. Yesterday I made a terrible mistake. I trusted the wrong people for the right reasons. Now my mentor’s dead and I’m a wanted felon, running to the one place I can’t go—New York City.

Uncaged Review: This is an author that I’ve enjoyed in the past, and this book is the first in a different series. A cosmic event called the Surge, ended up turning a third of the population with magical abilities, or Elementals and in order to keep tabs on them, they have to register with the government and if they don’t and get caught, they can be sentenced to Devilton, a magical lock up prison. Andy has been keeping her secrets for a long time, and hiding as a private investigator. Soon things will turn upside down and Andy will go on the run, and it gets more complicated as it goes. I like the premise of this, and the world that is building, but I hated how this hit a major cliffhanger at the end. A lot of things will begin to make sense in the last third of the book, and it has my interest enough to go on. There are some very questionable things going on, some things were answered, and some garnered more questions. But I’ll move on to book two to see how this ends up. Reviewed by Cyrene

Black Jack Gina Easton Horror/Occult Set against the brooding backdrop of one of London’s poorest slums, Black Jack explores the mystery of Jack the Ripper. No mere mortal, but a demon masquerading as a human, Jack the Ripper is intent on wreaking chaos and horror.

Uncaged Review: A new outlook on a spin-off of Jack the ripper, everyone knows right. Guy in a cloak with a knife stalked the streets of Whitechapel looking for ladies of the night, aka people who paid for sex. Well in this book the clever author has took us on an adventure. Meet loving couple Edward and Emma who find themselves on the wrong side of Jack the ripper. Not to spoil too much of the story, but there’s a few twists and turns, a few things you won’t see coming. A great fair effort as this is the author’s first book. Good Vs Evil - who will win. Could we possibly see even more adventures with the couple in the future? I don’t want to say goodbye to them just yet. Stay tuned for more with this author. Coming soon I hope. Reviewed by Jennifer

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

141


Uncaged Reviews Stake Out Lily Luchesi Paranormal Suspense Enter the Underworld of Chicago. Detective Danny Mancini is on a case, following a murder suspect. When he catches him, he finds out that the perp isn’t even human: he’s a two hundred-year-old rogue vampire. The Captain doesn’t believe him, and puts him on early retirement, despite his many years of service to the Chicago Police Department, which sends him into a downward spiral. Uncaged Review: I read the second book in the

series awhile back, and I came back to read this first one that I missed. I think this is a good start to a series and I always like to read books that center around Chicago, since I don’t live too far away from the city and have been there many, many times. The suspense was pretty decent, and there were a few great moments, but there were also a few things that didn’t quite hit the target for me. I didn’t really like Danny much for the first two thirds of the book. One, he’s been a detective, but he is constantly getting sick to his stomach. I think there would have been a better way to get the point across instead of having the characters throw up constantly. Even Angelica joined in. Secondly, the characters didn’t have the bonding time, and I never was attached to them as a couple even though they have known each other in other lives, it didn’t really work, it needed to be fleshed out more. All in all, this is a decent read, but the ending was not well executed and left it in a weird spot, just when I thought I might start liking Danny, it ended. I do plan on continuing the series to see where it goes.

142 | UncagedBooks.com

Keeper of the Grove Juli D. Revezzo Fantasy Romance

Stacy Macken has one goal in mind: saving her renowned history center from greedy creditors. Losing it would be a catastrophe—one she doesn’t know how she’ll avoid. Until Aaron Fielding arrives. To all human eyes, he is just like any man, but he reminds Stacy of one of the fae. He certainly enchants her like a fae lover would.

Uncaged Review: This was a very slow start for me, and I didn’t feel really engaged with the characters or even the story until a bit past the halfway point. It turns into a decent fantasy and suspense, but some of the dream sequences throws me off, since these are part of Stacy’s past lives. One of my gripes is almost every time that Aaron is around Stacy, we get the inner voices from both of them of how much they are attracted to each other, but won’t act on it. The romance is a bit repetitive and boring between the two, I never felt the urgency as a reader. The pros of the book is that the book does get moving well and this has a lot of different things going on at the same time. The mythology and the fae are a great touch and it was an enjoyable read. Reviewed by Cyrene


Baron of Blasphemy Tammy Andresen Historical Regency An arranged marriage gone wrong. What does an impoverished baron with a reputation for trouble do when he needs an infusion of coin? He marries. Quickly. The problem? His new wife isn’t entirely certain she likes anything about him. And it turns out, Abigail Carrington might be the only person in England with a will stronger than his own. If he can’t strong arm, cajole, or reason her into his bed to consummate their marriage, he’s only got one option left. Seduction…

Uncaged Review: This is book 11 in the series, and I believe I skipped one, but these books are easily read as standalones, although past couples pop up here and there, so it’s nice to read their stories also. This one I picked up and didn’t put it down until I finished it. A marriage hastily put together because of danger to the family, Abigail is matched with Chad, the Baron of Blackwater, who has his own set of problems. His father and brother left the Barony in dire condition and deep in debt, so marrying for a dowry is a must. But Chad gets more than he originally bargained for, and watching the two navigate the marriage is a worthy addition to this series. A couple revelations come toward the end of the book, and honestly, I wasn’t all that into the epilogue on this one, but it fit well enough and am always happy when authors include one. Reviewed by Cyrene

Nine Souls Shayne Silvers Urban Fantasy Nate Temple has an appointment in Hell. One he can’t reschedule… After recent events, Nate took some much-deserved time off for a little rest and relaxation. But when he finally returns home to attend what should have been a celebration of love, he finds insidious fear infecting the streets of St. Louis. Uncaged Review: I’m not sure how Mr. Silvers keeps upping his game on these books, but I think this is one of my favorites so far, the ninth book into the series. This time, there is someone passing along discontent within the wolves, dragons and vampires. And they all want Nate to stand back from it all. Along with all the problems he’s facing with a potential war coming between shifters, Nate needs to go to Hell to question his parents. But making it out of Hell is going to be a lot harder than getting in… This book has a great suspense surrounding it, and answers some questions that have been lingering for a few books now. Most of the supporting cast are here in top form, and Cassie from Kansas City (Feathers and Fire spin-off series) remains throughout the book. I’m even more hooked on the Nate Temple series than ever before. This series should be picked up for a show, as long as they do it justice. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

143


Uncaged Reviews Dark Kat Kinney Shifter Romance Hayden Crowe fronts an allgirls band down in Austin, Texas. Between tending bar so her sister can stay in school and dealing with the fallout after their addict father skipped town, she hasn’t exactly had time to join the social media freak out over the recent outing of vampires and werewolves. Her world comes crashing down the night she’s attacked in an alley after a gig and bitten by a feral werewolf.

Uncaged Review: This is decent start to a new se-

ries. Hayden, a front to a band, is bitten by a feral werewolf and is beginning to feel the pain of the wolf inside her, but has no idea where to go. The only person she thinks she can go to, is her ex, Ethan. Ethan ended their relationship because he was a born wolf, and he couldn’t tell his secrets to a human. In this book, the supernaturals have been outed to the public to a lot of hysteria, but when she shows up at Ethan’s, he will go against his father, the alpha, to help Hayden. There is some good suspense, and good romance and the story moves quickly. The author makes the transition from human to wolf in a very realistic way, with realistic emotions and pain. This is a complete story, but is part of a series that will feature other characters and has a story arc that will continue on. Reviewed by Cyrene

144 | UncagedBooks.com

The Colour of Wednesday Kate Rigby LGBTQ Fiction

The Colour Of Wednesday takes its name from the last sentence of Down The Tubes and continues Michael’s story two decades on from that novel. A family death propels him back into chaos and self-destruction. There are more relationship and family strains as his past comes back to haunt him and new revelations come to light.

Uncaged Review: It had been a long time since I had read the first book in this series. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pick up the characters again. Of course I was completely wrong, they came back to me like they had never been away but simply waiting in the shadows, eagerly awaiting to make a return. Michael who I would say is the lead character in this story always has a big place in my heart. Not having an easy upbringing, you can see why he made the choices he does. In a way I almost feel sorry for him. I would say this book is a follow up of sorts. What happens next. There’s a few triggers in this book for sexual abuse, and if that will be a bit dark, this isn’t the book for you. In all I’m happy with the way the book turned out. It made me have some sort of closure for the characters. I would highly recommend this. Or even the first book Down the Tubes. Overall this book had loads of brutal truth and honesty. Reviewed by Jennifer


Puppet Alexandra Sinclair Fantasy Romance Isabella Calloway discovered her town’s secret when she was at a young age. Years later, not even time could relinquish her desire for the absolute truth. When a man with a haunted smile and familiar golden eyes shows up, Ella finds herself with more questions than answers. He intrigues her in a way that nobody else has before; a dangerous sense of curiosity which she easily falls captive to.

Uncaged Review: Isabella Calloway knows her family are keeping secrets. She believes her small town is cursed. A curse that could destroy people’s lives and shape a different future for them. This book reminds me of a TV/film plot. I was so caught up by this book and I brought Isabella’s character in to my dreams. This is a fast paced storyline with a few heartthrobs. Really keen to see what happens next, Isabella is on a journey of self-discovery where she wants to place the jigsaw puzzle together. I’m very interested to see what happens next. In the follow up which I believe is to be a duology. Reviewed by Jennifer

Wild Knight Annabel Chase Urban Fantasy In a world of darkness where royal vampires are in charge, I spend my days working as a knight in the city formerly known as London. Instead of a lance and a horse, I rely on my trusty axe, Babe, and ride the occasional dragon. Every day new threats emerge that require a dash of magic and a dollop of attitude. Uncaged Review: This is the first book in a 4 book series and it’s a fast paced urban fantasy with a lot of suspense and action. In this world, 10 super volcanoes went off at the same time, shrouding the planet in 24 hr darkness. The vampires have taken over the world and employ magic users to keep fake daylight up to keep plants and animals alive, because losing the human race would end their food chain. There are a lot of different supernaturals living around, and we meet some of them in the first book. The book is set in the city of Brittania, which used to be London in the old world. A Knight, named London works for a group of Knights that take care of rogue supernaturals that are threatening humans. London is a smart, sassy, kick butt heroine and I was drawn to her almost immediately. When she’s hired by the royal vampire family to find their daughter and a missing power stone, she’ll have to work with Callan, the vampire prince. Sparks will fly. This is a clean, action packed start to the series, and a good suspense woven in. This book has a great pace, and it was over before I knew it. I’ve already downloaded book 2. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

145


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews We are 100 Nathan Timmel Vigilante Justice After losing his wife, Evan Francart is depressed. He has an axe to grind with the pharmaceutical company that jacked up the price of her medications but feels powerless against a billion-dollar corporation. Then he meets Cassandra. She shows Evan a way to both end his life and become a hero. With her guidance, Evan interrupts a company board meeting and blows the building sky-high. As FBI agents Susan Chamberlain and Michael Godwin discover, Evan is the first of many. Ninety-nine more like him wait anonymously in the wings, their targets just as personal as Evan’s: the prosecutor who lets rapists walk free, the inept surgeon who maims patients yet keeps operating, the phony evangelist preying on those seeking solace... and that’s just the beginning. Will the FBI unearth Cassandra’s identity before all 100 have carried out their plans?

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This really was a great read. It’s the type of book that as I was reading it, I was able to picture it as a movie even more than usual. Like as an ACTUAL movie, not just a book I’m reading and can see it in my head. The author did a great job of making things clear for the reader without dumbing things down. He created characters, both “good” and “bad” that I could identify and sympathize with. Not everyone can do that. The story itself is something many of us can relate to. We have all been wronged in one way or another by a power bigger than ourselves, and if not us personally, we all know someone who has been essentially screwed by the system. Josh is sick of it and decides to find a way to make the powers

146 | UncagedBooks.com

that be stop and see that there are consequences for their actions. That they can’t just crap all over people and get away with it anymore. A villain after my own heart, really. One of the many things I really enjoyed about this book, aside from the stellar story itself, was the level of humor involved. This is a fairly serious book in concept, but the sense of humor of the characters was something I could definitely appreciate. It doesn’t poke fun of the seriousness of the problems, but it adds a level of humanity to things. I will now forever refer to going to the bar as “working out” because of this story. It’s liver day! It’s hard for me to express how I truly feel about this book because I agree with the antagonist 100%. I may not totally agree with his methods, but when nothing else has worked, I can’t say I blame him. Though for legal reasons, I feel like I should say no. You shouldn’t do what is in this book. And I would never consider it, myself. This book is definitely one you want to check out if you enjoy stories that make sense on a human level and involve a bit of mystery and thrilling stuff. The action scenes were so visual for me. I really enjoyed every minute and missed quite a bit of sleep bc I couldn’t put it down. Great book.


Sweatpants and Spells Keira Blackwood Paranormal Romance I knew hot flashes were supposed to be hot, but I didn’t expect flames.

thing who is still seeing the world through 20 year old eyes. Just a different perspective I supposed. The side characters in this book were good too. I want to know their stories now too. This whole town is something else, and I want to know all of their stories. Especially Molly’s. She’s fun. I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes next.

One day I’m in anger management, normalizing the cordial hate between me and my husband. The next, we’re divorced and he has taken both our house and the business we built together. I’m forty years old and living above our empty restaurant, plotting my next move.

Fashionably Dead Robyn Peterman Humorous Paranormal

And then the world around starts lighting up—literally catching on fire. I’m starting to think my defining characteristic may not be my snark or my cupcake-baking prowess, but spontaneous combustion.

Vampyres don’t exist. They absolutely do not exist.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This was a better book than most of the others I’ve read lately. I didn’t hate the main character, so that was progress. There were a few places where I wished she would hurry up and get to the point, so it dragged a bit, but not so much I totally lost interest. I’m not sure how I feel about how quickly Remi and Jen just accepted what was going on around them. They were just like, “oh ok, cool. Magic and creatures are totally real? And I am one? Oh it’s fine, totally makes sense.” I feel like most people would have at least had a moment of hesitation, but they just jump in like it was expected. That bothered me. Especially once things really started rolling along and everything was touched by the supernatural. I liked that the main characters were more mature and older. That just seems more realistic and reasonable. They seem to make better decisions and their worldview is a bit more experienced as compared to a 20 some-

At least I didn’t think they did ‘til I tried to quit smoking and ended up Undead. Who in the hell did I screw over in a former life that my getting healthy equates with dead? Now I’m a Vampyre. Yes, we exist whether we want to or not. However, I have to admit, the perks aren’t bad. My girls no longer jiggle, my ass is higher than a kite and the latest Prada keeps finding its way to my wardrobe. On the downside, I’m stuck with an obscenely profane Guardian Angel who looks like Oprah and a Fairy Fighting Coach who’s teaching me to annihilate like the Terminator.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I can’t decide how I feel about this book (or series as I’m now on book 3). The main character drives me insane. But she’s funny. I really like the concepts in this book, and I’m on book 3 bc I’d like to see where the author is going with everything, but Astrid really irks my nerves.

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

147


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Realistically, I think most of the characters are really funny. But Astrid is another 20-something “heroine” who is still immature as a person while also is supposed to be kind of saving the world or the vampire race or something. I know she has a bad relationship with her mom, but that’s no reason to have such awful manners. Especially if her grandmother was as involved as it sounds like. I noticed some of the other reviews complaining about the “foul language,” but I didn’t really think it was as bad as they made it out. I agree with a lot of them about the repetitive unnecessary reminders that she’s a “Prada whore”. We get it. We also don’t care. Just keep your clothes on, I don’t care what the label says. The side characters are for me, one of the best parts of the book. They are what gave the story life. I couldn’t care less what Astrid does. I’ve become quite attached to several of them. I will say that the 2nd book is better in my opinion, which is why I’ve continued on to the 3rd book. I don’t know if I would recommend this book or not. If you don’t mind an extremely shallow main character, you make like it more than I did. I don’t hate the story, I just really dislike the main character.

Bite Me Linsey Hall Paranormal Suspense I’ve got one thing to say to the fated mate who wants to kill me: Bite Me. I can handle anyone who walks into my pub. Except him--the most powerful vampire who ever lived. The First.

148 | UncagedBooks.com

Dark, damaged, and hot as hell. He says I’m his one and only Vampire Bride, and that five years ago, I buried him alive. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I like Mac. I really do. I like her strength and her attitude. I kinda like Drakon, but I haven’t totally decided. I am intrigued by the ideas in this story, but it feels like the author is taking FOREVER to get there. And paranormal creatures may live a long time, but us mere mortals may not. Mac is the type of main character I like to read. She seems like she knows who she is and what she wants out of life. She doesn’t let anyone push her around and stands up for herself when necessary. She’s the type of person I’d like to be. But she also has a dark side. One I don’t actually have a problem with. I feel like I should dislike the violent side of her, but the truth is I respect it. Sometimes, fools just don’t listen or learn, and you need to take a more hands on approach. The action in this book is easy to follow and picture while also being exciting enough to keep things moving. I didn’t realize there were other books tied into this one, so at the time, I felt like I was missing little details that would have made the story better. Like the friendships and backstories. You can definitely read this without having read the other books, but I think you’d probably enjoy it more if you’d read the other books. I never felt confused or anything, but those little details would have enriched the storytelling a little bit. The chemistry between Drakon and Mac is good. I like the way they interact, even though there is some animosity on Drakon’s part that Mac has no memory of. They work well together and are pretty funny when working on the same side and not trying to kill each other. That whole Bride thing had me intrigued, so I will be checking out the next book in the series to see where the author is going with it.


Hell Gates & Hot Flashes Aurelia Skye, Kit Tunstall Paranormal Romance

day. She has a sense of humor and a personality. Idk if she took all the personality genes in the family, but it kinda seems that way.

Welcome to the place where things that go bump in the night deliver your milk in the mornings, community is important to human and creature alike, and all Hell occasionally breaks loose.

It took forever for the author to get to the point. I almost put it down several times bc it felt like it was taking all day to say one thing. I don’t know if this is this author’s first book but she has some growing to do. Her ideas are great, but the execution needs some work. There are also quite a few places where the wrong words are used, so I’m not sure what her editing situation is. If she’s editing her own books, I’d suggest hiring an experienced editor to help polish things up a bit, as well as for her to take her editor’s advice. I know that ultimately, it’s up to the author whether or not to take the editor’s suggestions, and too many times I’ve seen authors not take their editors advice to their detriment. I’d also recommend a beta reader to help with some of the other issues. I’d really like to see this author do well since I love her ideas. I did read several more books in the series before I wrote this review and while some issues are kind of resolved, there is still work to do, and I just couldn’t continue. I’d definitely be interested in a revised version of these stories. I don’t want to say this book is bad. It’s not. I gave it 3 stars for a reason. It just needs some work to be everything it could be.

When Jody Shaw is hired to be the new sheriff of Harrow Bay, a small coastal community, she’s excited to rise through the ranks and try something new. At forty-three, her career is everything that matters to her, besides her mother and grandmother, who move with her. It doesn’t take long for Jody to learn Harrow Bay is unusual.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I love the idea for this book. The whole supernatural town concept is something I can totally support. My problem is that I do NOT care for the main character. I don’t mind the other characters. Her grandmother is hilarious. The other people are great, but Jody just sucks. She seems surly and lacks personality. Just generally not someone who seems even the least bit interesting. There were a lot of inferences to her lack of interest in romantic relationships and that she’d always been like that but then at the first hot guy she encounters, she’s practically falling over herself to drool on his shoes. At one point I thought maybe they were hinting at her being a lesbian. Which is fine except that’s not what happened. She just suddenly started acting the total opposite of everything the author had described her as. Her grandmother is my favorite character in this book. She is the type of older lady I hope to be some-

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

149


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Behind the Veil E. J. Dawson Ghost Thriller

Betrayed A.D. Trosper Paranormal Romance

Can she keep the secrets of her past to rescue a girl tormented by a ghost?

I was never supposed to go to the Between. I was never supposed to fall in love with Caius. And yet, I’ve done both. Since stepping through that portal, I’ve done a lot of things I never thought I would.

In 1920s Los Angeles, Letitia Hawking reads the veil between life and death. A scrying bowl allows her to experience the final moments of the deceased. She brings closure to grief-stricken war widows and mourning families. For Letitia, it is a penance. She knows no such peace. Amy’s Review: Magnificent read!! What a powerful story in Behind the Veil by E.J. Dawson. Letitia is a very powerful character. There is something about this paranormal that rings true, especially between the line of life and death, the veil. It’s filled with tortured characters, haunted by not just the ghosts of the past, but of the ghosts themselves. I love how this story was written, bringing in the characters that need peace, but are restless. It’s a magnificent chilling and thrilling story, and how the past is affecting the present. Something is happening, and it’s not what you expect, and that’s where I leave this story. It’s a grandly dark yet sympathetic story, emotions running high, on both sides of the veil. The story brings in the believable, even if almost impossible. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). The story brings the reader on a superb journey. This is a magnificent story that kept this reader turning the pages. A definite attention grabber, so much I couldn’t put it down. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly, and the characterizations are engrossing. I just love, love, love this story. Very impressive story telling.

150 | UncagedBooks.com

Amy’s Review: Another great story What a great story in Betrayed by A.D. Trosper. I am a fan of this author! I love it when a Legacy author sends me more of their work! I read the first book in this series Raven Daughter and enjoyed it. This author brings the story to life. The characters had a lot of depth, and were very realistic. This author has a great imagination. This can go beyond Jo’s imagination, or even that Caius, who can be a real jerk. They are back, and there are different circumstances, but they must deal with the embracing of the powers now that they are in the portal, and everything is beginning to emerge, darkness and even a bit of light, but destiny has its own plan in mind. I do recommend reading the books from the beginning of the series (Unveiled). But I do that for all series, and in this case, it is especially important. Packed with mystic, magic and new worlds and it takes the reader on a superb adventure. If you love a good paranormal with a twist, this book should be next on your list. This story was very intriguing and unpredictable.


Dirty Little Secrets Elise Noble Romantic Suspense Welcome to Baldwin’s Shore, the small town where everybody has a secret… Brooke Bartlett is no exception. She’s been in love with her brother’s best friend for half her life, her dirty little secret. With Luca on the other side of the world, the temptation stayed out of reach, but now he’s back, and he’s not the only one. Brooke’s stalker is watching from the shadows, and he’s got his own ideas about her future… Amy’s Review: Wonderful story!! What a wonderful story in Dirty Little Secrets by Elise Noble. I am a big fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I read. This isn’t your typical romance, but there are hints that make the story more interesting than just girl has a secret crush on her brother’s best friend. Noble is an exceptional writer, and this story doesn’t disappoint. The characters are well developed, and at first, I was thinking that Brooke’s secret was her crush, but it became more than that. Yes, that was a secret, she tried to keep close to her heart, and then ... that’s where I leave you. It is always an honor to read this author’s books. This author is a great storyteller. This is a magnificent story that kept this reader turning the pages. A definite attention grabber, so much I couldn’t put it down. The author’s technique of raw, magnetic characters and great plotlines is a gift. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next.

Gender Queer: A Memoir Maia Kobabe Biography/Memoir In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity. Amy’s Review: Interesting memoir with excellent graphics within the graphic novel

What an interesting memoir in the form of a graphic novel, in Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe. I read this book because I saw that it was on a few lists as a banned book. When I sat down to read it, I read it in two sittings. I learned a lot that I didn’t know about someone who was born female, but didn’t really want to be male or female, just who Eir was. The “Eir” is not a typo, Maia Kobabe uses e/em/eir pronouns. The book has wonderful graphics, and a lot of note and thoughts of the author, and how e met others, some were like Eir and others identified themselves as either lesbian or gay, or bisexual. For a while, Eir identified as bi, and there were a variety of gender identifications that Maia thought maybe would work, but they did not. I understand the title being “Gender Queer” and I found that this was a book that anyone confused about identity should read, even those who are young and trying to figure things out. I enjoyed this read, and as I said, I learned a lot. I also liked that Maia read so many books, and the titles that stood out, were listed so others can read those books as well. I was proud at the ending, finally feeling good with body, soul and clothes, and wearing them with pride. There may have been a couple of graphics that showed nudity or sexual situations, but nothing that should deter people from reading this book, especially people trying to figure out things about the body people live in.

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

151


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews GrassBleed Mehreen Ahmeda Coming of Age Fiction GRASSBLEED is a collection of micro and flash fiction from the internationally acclaimed Award-winning Mehreen Ahmed. Beautifully written with such consistency and flair, the stories in this collection paint imageries of idyll and distress while enlivening human emotions with a burst of romantic charm. Amy’s Review: A wonderful collection of flash fiction What a grand collection of flash fiction in GrassBleed by Mehreen Ahmed. I am a big fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I want to read. This author brings her culture into each of the stories, and it is not easy to tell a complete story within a few short words. This author brings each of the stories to life. I read a lot of stories, and I love the different writing styles and storytelling abilities. This author has a powerful way with words, and indeed can show stories. I love it when a Legacy author sends me more of their work! This author has a great imagination. Each story had its own feel and emotions, and while I read each one, sometimes more than one, one of my favorites was “Thin Wall.” It’s toward the beginning of the book, and I kept going back to it. It resonated with me. “You sitting by here side, holding each other in the clear, dazzling light, propped up by stars of a night; ... Tonight, you’re a different person, sensitive, caring and romantic, play chess, laughing at silly, odd jokes ... Dear Father, did you not see it coming?” This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). Masterfully written! And another note, it ended with the perfect story.

152 | UncagedBooks.com

Shadow’s Light TL Travis Gay Rock Star You never know what hides behind sad eyes. For Javier Jimenez, aka Shadow, drummer for the award-winning metal band, Maiden Voyage, life off stage isn’t all glitters and rainbows. He plays the part of the Devil May Care drummer when he’s in the spotlight, but outside of it, the only person who knows the real Javier besides his family is his bodyguard, Tony. Amy’s Review: Very powerful, and magnificent conflicted emotional story!

What a raw and intense story in Shadow’s Light by TL Travis. I am a big fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I read. I love reading Travis’ work, and Shadow’s Light shows the story of the relationship between Lucas and Shadow. The reader gets to know both sides of their story, and from the beginning, the reader instantly can see a deep conflict (and that’s putting it lightly) between Shadow and Stoli, and then through Joey into the mix, and his previous involvement with Lucas, and it definitely wasn’t pretty. It is a very interesting story to follow along with, seeing the relationships, and being reminded of the past, and the heartbreak that still stings. More like “heart ripped out of chest” burning. I’ve read other books in the Maiden Voyage series, and I must say this is probably my favorite. Filled with secrets, haunting pasts, and conflicted and down-right hurtful relationships, this story is filled with greatness, and great writing. I do like what Lucas said, and it resonated with me, “If I could erase my past, I would do it in a heartbeat. Every. Last. Bit. Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a giant eraser.” It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next.


On Deadly Grounds Kaye Schmitz Suspense/Espionage On the eve of an international G7 Summit, event coordinator Mattie Maguire discovers that the venue, a century-old estate close to Asheville, NC, is more than simply a picturesque setting. It is also the center of political conspiracies involving a ruthless Russian spy ring that will stop at nothing to steal the massive fortune they believe to be hidden there. Amy’s Review: Secrets, lies and spies! Schmitz pens a magnetically thrilling story in On Deadly Grounds. I love it when a Legacy author sends me more of their work! The characters were dramatic and very realistic, well for secretive spies searching for a hidden treasure of sorts. This author brings the story to life. Mattie is a very strong character, even when all odds are against her and her family. A thrilling, and at some points, chilling story. This author has a great imagination and I’m glad it’s being shared with stories. This story is totally believable. The best kind. It is always an honor to read this author’s stories. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly, and the characterizations are engrossing. This author not only tells the story but shows it with words as well.

Ravine LeReux E. Denise Billups YA Fantasy Short Olivia and Edward Lereux live a quiet life with their chocolate Border collie, Axel in a picturesque cottage flanked by Maine’s blustery cliffs, far from town and people. Outwardly, their lives appear normal, but they’re not ordinary people. The Lereux family is cursed with something that has claimed their ancestors many Amy’s Review: PSuperbly Supernatural

What a superbly written story in Ravine LeReux by E. Denise Billups. I have become a big fan of this author! The characters were intense, secretive, and realistic. This author brings the story to life. Ravine was an unforgettable character, and her life was already changed when her parents disappeared, but now she has to figure out if the same fate touched her aunt and uncle. “Ravine breathes deep, removes a crumpled envelope from her purse ... The unease that plagued her as a child, raced through her mind again, just like it had when she realized her parents were gone forever. The tone of the letter made her stomach lurch...” Curses and family bring the edge to this story. It is not always easy to pack a lot of details into a short story, but Billups, definitely did a great job at writing it, and having it feel complete. It’s definitely un-put-downable! This author is a great storyteller. It brings Ravine on this journey to find out the truth of who she is, and why some others, see something that she doesn’t quite see, yet. The story brings the reader on a superb journey. Very impressive story telling.

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

153


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Righteous Assassin Kevin Chapman Thriller/Suspense

The Fountain of Youth Steve Shear Contemporary

A MOB BOSS IS EATEN ALIVE BY TIGERS AT THE BRONX ZOO. . . .A sweatshop owner is mutilated and left to bleed out . . . .A pharmaceutical baron is tortured and frozen to death . . . .A fashion designer is poisoned in her Upper East Side apartment.

“Two generations of dementia are enough!” Robert Glickman declares in his quest to die with dignity and the likelihood he will be next. To that end, he uses his grandson’s sixth grade quiz book, a locked away metal box, and a secret weapon that eventually comes back to haunt him.

Amy’s Review: Absolutely Twisty and Thrilling What a magnetically charged story in Righteous Assassin by Kevin Chapman. I haven’t read work from this author before, and I enjoyed this story. I really like Stoneman, and how he is the hero, but he and his partner Dickson, have a case to solve. A really big serial killer case. Stoneman is a character that stands out in my mind as I read this, being real, and focused on his work and the clues, wherever they take him. This author has a definite writing style all his own, and it works within this killer story, and indeed can show stories. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). It is a very well-written plot, and I enjoyed it. This title is a definite attention grabber, so much I couldn’t put it down. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly. The characters are so engrossing. This story was very intriguing and unpredictable.

Amy’s Review: A remarkably written story!

154 | UncagedBooks.com

What a powerful, emotional and remarkable story in The Fountain of Youth by Steve Shear. I am a big fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I read. I love it when a Legacy author sends me more of their work! A family stuck with generations of dementia, and how it not just allows the one with it to suffer without dignity, but the family around them, dealing with the slow loss of their family member. There is always that fear that it will happen to them as well. And the words that resonated with me, were of a child after the loss of his mother, ““I will choose the time. I will choose the time. Not God or any power outside my control!” And “Fountain of Youth” is a senior living facility. Now, here is a tale that brings raw emotions, reminded this reader who lost a grandmother to dementia, and watching her suffer with memories of an abusive childhood. I get this story and see why it is so important for others to read it. There is a sense of not giving up, but continuing on to life, and all its secrets. I find it interesting that Robert uses his son’s sixth grade quiz book, and it is important to him, but he keeps that his secret. And then, there are the other residents with Robert, and even rumors of one being a Nazi in hiding. I really enjoyed the read. The emotions and passion that was put into writing this, shows.


by a friend.

The Right Thing Terry Persun Technothriller

Murder at Mardi Gras Doug Lamplugh Crime Thriller

After the murder of his wife and unborn child, the only time freelance tech investigator Ten feels alive is when he cuts himself. For the last few years, he has taken freelance investigative jobs. Some of those jobs have been with the government group that betrayed him, but is now run

In this true crime-flavored novel, Detective William Boyett is called out on Mardi Gras evening in Mobile, Alabama to investigate the discovery of a young woman’s body wrapped in a carpet in a vacant lot a few blocks from the parade route.

Amy’s Review: Nothing is ever quite normal What an intriguing story in The Right Thing by Terry Persun. I just became big fan of this author! I haven’t read any work by this author before but found that he has quite the portfolio of books. The characters, especially Ten were raw and very intense, allowing the pain and past to be a daily haunting. Ten has a very painful past, but he decided to start working, mainly for himself. This story brings Ten right in the middle of a women’s prison, and things are definitely not as they appear. This author brings the story to life. The plot is full of twists and mystery, and even on the edge between moral and immoral, and that only leads to more questions and twists. It’s one of those embraceable stories. A definite attention grabber, so much I couldn’t put it down. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly, and the characterizations are engrossing. If you love a good intense, and twisted tale, this book should be next on your list.

Amy’s Review: Crime thriller that rings like true crime

What a great story in Murder at Mardi Gras by Doug Lamplugh. This is the first story that I’ve read of Lamplugh’s. This author brings the story to life. The characters had a lot of depth and were very realistic. What I like in the beginning of the book is how Lamplugh tells the audience the background of Mardi Gras and how it came to America, and then New Orleans. The set up of the story is very unique and interesting, as it starts with the trial. Usually that comes at the end, so how this story is put together, is intriguing. Detective Boyett couldn’t understand what made someone do something so horrible, even in all his years of working in law enforcement. The crime goes back to 2006. It was the largest Mardi Gras because everyone had something to celebrate, the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Now, the celebration was that for many, but for some, a way to hide. It’s almost like the killer blamed the devil. ““Yeah, it seems during Mardi Gras season I get the urge to participate in the celebration. And when I do, especially if I’m drinking and with a slut, a demon inside me appears and tells me to rid the earth of her. That she’s an unworthy sinner.” It’s definitely un-put-downable! The read seems impossible, but as with all killers, everyone is uniquely them, and uniquely full of depravity. An absolutely chilling thriller.

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

155


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews The Happy War Eve Gaal Romantic Suspense After a successful blind date, Linda and Eric want to change the world. With fiery passion for both each other and their common cause, they hatch a twisted plan. The first step: to assemble a loyal team of hotshots, each with a specific skill set Amy’s Review: Taking over the world for the

greater good!

What a unique story in The Happy War by Eve Gaal. I haven’t read work from this author before, and I enjoyed this story. The characters had a lot of depth, and were very real. I like the dynamic of Linda and Eric, and their plans to “take over the world.” It’s not just about taking over the world, but conquering all of the evil in the world, including hate, war and the powerful rulers. I read a lot of stories, and I love the different writing styles and story telling abilities. This author had a unique writing style, and indeed can show stories. It’s a very unique premise, and though Linda and Eric’s intentions are good, what can really be done, especially when they have to deal with their own separation, perceptions, and intention of saving mankind. This author has a great imagination. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). It’s definitely un-put-downable! Simply awe-inspiring.

156 | UncagedBooks.com

Only The Dead Jan Notzon Historical Fiction The 19th century saw the births, the very painful births, of both the Mexican and the Texas Republics. The origin of the two came at the price of a treasure of blood spilled, losses suffered and dreams crushed. In the case of the former, it also entailed deceit, subterfuge and a woeful amount of plain treachery. Amy’s Review: Magnificent read!!!

What a powerful and realistic story in Only The Dead (Know the End of War) by Jan Notzon. This is the second book of this author that I have read, and I have just become a fan. I want to read more from Notzon. The characters were historically correct, and very real, and full of depth. This is a time and place that many might not really know about, and this book, though it was a story, it taught me a lot. I love it when I can read something I am enjoying and also learn from it. It’s a two for one for me. Anyway, this story brings the reader back to the early 19th century, when Texas and Mexico both had republics, and seems to be fighting for a separation, as well as survival. Not just of their lives, but their own culture, and against a system that could make or break the expansion of the United States, such that it was. It was both a heart breaking, and emotionally charged story, with perspectives on all sides of the power, and the entrance of a brutal war. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). It is a very well-written plot, and I enjoyed it. It’s one of those embraceable stories. It’s definitely un-put-downable! I read the book as slow as I could, and then I went back to my notes, and the page I marked, spoke to me, so here is something that I feel shows one of the layers of the story. “Of course, we did it in our own self-interests, but in doing so, we’ve created wealth that has been invested and spawned other concerns that likewise have provided employment and hope to so many - even those who perennially excluded from such opportunities. And now, because of the accident of our birth, and simple envy, the country will destroy such promise ...” Masterfully written!


Bone Talking Will Mayo Poetry

Throwaways Elliott Light Crime Thriller

A mixture of prose and poetry on the subjects of life philosophy, memories new and old, fondness of dreams, making peace with death, and being friends with cats—one, in particular—ending with its title poem “Bone Talking.” Written by Will Mayo, Edited by James D. Casey IV, Published by Cajun Mutt Press.

The body of a young girl drifts over a reef where Jake Savage is photographing lionfish, beautiful brown-striped creatures with feathery pectoral fins that could almost make one forget their venomous spines. For an instant, Jake thinks she might be watching him, but she has no snorkel or mask.

Amy’s Review: The first thing I fell in love with ... was the table of contents!

Amy’s Review: Too powerful to describe! What a remarkably powerful, and unfortunately, not unfamiliar story type in Throwaways by Elliott Light . I’ve read another book of this author’s, and after reading this, where I hung on every word, I have become a huge fan of this author. This author brings the story to life. The characters had a lot of depth and were very real. The darkness of the real-world hits Jake right in the face, upon discovering the body of someone he will never forget. This story brings in the real world of child sex-trafficking, and even an eviler world. Jake instantly gets pulled in, especially because of his own past, right into the middle of the investigation, to figure out who she is, and who killed her. It’s a remarkably written story, and though it hints of reallife villainous pedophiles, it’s a story that is unique and emotional. It’s one of those embraceable stories. Though, I wanted to keep reading, there were times, when you just need to set it down, and then come back to it. It’s that powerful and shows a very sad and pathetic, evil world that is out there, and not just hiding in shadows anymore. Definitely an unpredictable story, my favorite kind! Wow! Masterfully written!

This collection of poetry and innovative thinking by Will Mayo is a magnificent work of words. Mayo is one of my favorite innovative thinkers, and the ideas that come out of his head and spread across the page, are just simply interesting, intriguing, and they sometimes cause pause for critical thinking. I slowly scrolled through table of contents, admiring the titles, and getting prepared for greatness. Yes, I know it sounds like I hold Will Mayo’s thinking up on a pedestal, but really it’s about not knowing what to expect, but also to expect the unexpected. A line of Mayo’s resonated with me, “I return to this matter of words and see new worlds born from my pen.” I read through every word of every title, and I looked forward to reading the Bone Talking, which was the thoughts within the title, and how that came about, even if he doesn’t say it, it makes its impression. One of my favorites, among many, was “Alone with Death” as I saw the words he wrote, and I realized, I felt the same. Mayo inspires me, and every word he writes, makes me ponder, and just say “wow.”

Issue 64 | March/April 2022 |

157


Do you have a short story that you’d like published in Uncaged? Uncaged is now accepting short stories - in return, Uncaged will provide ONE FULL PAGE to promote up to 3 books from the author, OR a free Sneak Peek promotion!

Guidelines: • Must be PG/PG-13 rated per Issuu’s Terms of Use • Must be approved • Free promotion will be scheduled for the same month as the short story • Submit the story or any questions to UncagedBooks@gmail.com

Submit your story today!