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TourBanner_Fear Justice

Fear Justice

by C.C. Bolick


GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy



Seventeen-year-old Rena Mason counts the days until she can leave for college. Every night her father drinks himself to sleep, leaving her to care for her younger brother. When her father is kidnapped by terrorists, her dreams of freedom become a nightmare.

Stunned that her father has a history with these terrorists, Rena knows she must run or be their next victim. She learns the tough guy at school has a reason to look after her – he’s working for a government agency with the same goal as the terrorists: find a woman who disappeared eighteen years ago. Time is running out since only this woman’s special gift can save the world from a looming nuclear attack.

Rena can’t trust anyone, especially not the stone-cold agent she’s falling for. Can they save the world before Rena’s feelings trap her in an agent’s fight for justice?

Fear Justice contains elements of fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal, with a clean romance. It’s the first book in an exciting new series called The Fear Chronicles.

Cover _Fear Justice



He smiled and held out a hand. “I’m Tony and no, I’ve never thought of myself as a nice guy.”

Staring at his outstretched hand, I hesitated. “Rena.”

Tony moved his hand closer and his eyes took on a look of intensity, as if daring me to shake his hand.

What’s with the gloves?” I asked.

Skin allergies. What’s with the hesitation?”

Hesitation?” With defiance, I reached forward. “I’m not afraid of you.”

What are you afraid of?”

As his hand gripped mine, my breathing sped and I fought to control my voice. Our skin wasn’t even touching. Hiding my feelings with Robbie had been easy, but this was… weird. “Why are you worried about who I date? You don’t even know me.”

I know your name is Rena Mason. We’ve got physics together.”

A twinge of guilt caught me off-guard. “I haven’t noticed you before.”

My dad taught me to blend in with my surroundings, like camouflage.”

He was a hunter?”

Not exactly, but he did teach me how to shoot before he left.”

Left?” The instant his words were out, I felt a connection to him. It was a sadness that welled from deep inside, the knowledge that we were alike in a terrible way.


AUTHOR Bio and Links

C.C. Bolick grew up in south Alabama, where she’s happy to still reside. She’s an engineer by day and a writer by night—too bad she could never do one without the other.

Camping, fishing… she loves the outdoors and the warm Alabama weather. For years she thought up stories to write and finally started putting them on paper back in 2006. If you hear her talking with no one to answer, don’t think she’s crazy. Since talking through her stories works best, a library is her worst place to write… even though it’s her favorite!

C.C. loves to mix sci-fi and paranormal—throw in a little romance and adventure and you’ve got her kind of story. She’s written nine books including the Leftover Girl series, The Agency series, and The Fear Chronicles.

The Book is on sale for $0.99 during the tour.

Buy Link:

Author Links:



One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.



Can you describe your dream home?

I have my dream home – my husband and I built it with the help of family and friends. It’s only about 1600 sq. ft. (I hate to clean), but the kitchen, dining room, and living room are all open at the center. We sacrificed some area for the dining room to make a huge living room for the kids to enjoy.

If we were to come to your house for a meal, what would you give us to eat?

We have cookouts fairly often – my husband loves to grill. I’ll cook almost anything including venison, but it all comes with a southern flair.

Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.

Someone wrote to tell me she loved all of my books – not just the first series but she’d read all eight and bought print copies. And she wanted me to continue the stories. Readers are busy, but it really means so much to an author for someone to take a few moments and drop a line of encouragement.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

I’ve always wanted to visit Australia.

Who designed the book cover for the book you are touring?

Fiona Jayde Media. She does an amazing job and has made twelve covers for me thus far.

Book Tour – Animals Have Feelings, Too!

Animals Have Feelings Too banner

Title: Animals Have Feelings, Too!: Exploring Emotions From A to Z
Author: Karen Lee Stevens
Publisher: All for Animals
Pages: 32
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Filled with humor and whimsical illustrations, this enchanting and educational A to Z guide takes young readers on a journey through the alphabet with a lovable Labrador retriever named Sandy, who shows kids that animals and people share many of the same feelings. From A is for Affectionate to Z is for Zonked, Animals Have Feelings, Too! helps children to understand and express their feelings and to treat animals with kindness and respect.

For More Information

  • Animals Have Feelings, Too!: Exploring Emotions From A to Z is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:

Hi Kids,

My name is Sandy and I’m a yellow Labrador retriever. Most of the time, I’m a happy-go-lucky pup, but once in awhile, I feel lonely or grumpy, too. Just like you, I experience lots of different emotions (that’s a BIG word for feelings).

When I’m happy, I wag my tail and let out a soft ruff-ruff-ruff as if to say Let’s play! When I’m annoyed or frightened, I may grumble and growl, meaning Back off, buddy! Stay away!

My feline friend, Willow, likes to remind me that I’m not perfect, but I love her anyhow. And that’s why I’ve asked her to help me introduce you to my very favorite feeling words. I hope you’ll share them with your human family and, of course, your furry and feathered friends!



Animals Have Feelings Too

About the Author

Karen Lee Stevens

Karen Lee Stevens is the founder and president of All for Animals, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a compassionate world for animals and children through humane education and literacy programs that nurture the human-animal bond.

Karen is also an author and a Certified Humane Educator who, for the past 14 years, has given presentations to thousands of elementary school children and has helped them learn how to treat animals with love and respect.

In February, 2013, Karen launched ARF! (Animals + Reading = Fun!), a unique literacy program that gives children from all walks of life an opportunity to improve their reading skills and inspire them to become life-long readers by reading aloud to specially trained therapy dogs.

Her latest children’s picture book is Animals Have Feelings, Too!: Exploring Emotions From A to Z.

For More Information


Karen Lee Stevens - CA Milson

Byline: Karen is the Founder & President of All for Animals, a nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara, California. She is also the author of two books, including Animals Have Feelings, Too!, a children’s picture book that takes young readers on a journey through the alphabet with Sandy, a lovable Labrador retriever, who shows kids that animals and people share many of the same feelings. Learn more about Karen, her books and her organization at

Tell us about you…

My resume would tell you that I’m the founder and president of All for Animals, a nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara, California. It would also tell you that I’m a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the author of two books including Animals Have Feelings, Too!, a children’s picture book.

What my resume wouldn’t tell you is that I am someone who is equally comfortable speaking to an audience of 1,000 people as not speaking for days on end at a silent retreat. I’m energized by the music of Pit Bull and soothed by the sounds of Enigma. I’m someone who will usually remember your dog’s name before I remember your name and I have a long-standing tradition of watching the same five romcoms during the holidays (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Serendipity, The Holiday, and Return to Me).

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

Well, my cat, Miss Bella, makes it easy to wake up each morning as she uses one of her paws to pull the covers off my head and then proceeds to kiss my ear until I start giggling… better than any alarm clock! As far as inspiration… the knowledge that I get to run own nonprofit organization and make a difference in the lives of animals and children… that’s what inspires me every single day.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?

And the winner is… Oprah! I actually had the pleasure of meeting Oprah at her 60th birthday party in Santa Barbara and she was the most gracious (and, might I say, well-dressed) hostess! She came from such humble beginnings and she has made such a beautiful life for herself and for others, especially children. Plus, she has several dogs and any day spent in the company of a canine companion (or three) is a good day!

What’s the story behind your latest book?

How much time do you have?! I’ll attempt to give you the Cliff Notes version: The idea for a children’s book came from my desire to come up with something fun to do for my 50th birthday. I mulled over several ideas including throwing a party, taking a cruise and indulging in spa day (in that order).

While all these ideas sounded enticing, what actually happened was that I was struck by one of those AHA! moments, where a voice in my head said, “You need to write a children’s book. And, by the way, it should be called Animals Have Feelings, Too!” (Seriously, this really happened!) I’d never had such a surreal experience and, thankfully, I listened to my inner voice, because seven months later, my children’s book was “born.”

(Speaking of giving birth… I have a fun video I shot the day I received the proofs to my book… Check out the link below.)

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Since I was a youngster hanging out in a tree house my dad built in our avocado tree, I’ve enjoyed writing short stories. It wasn’t until my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Frye, read one of my stories aloud in class and told all the kids that I would grow up to be a writer, that I began thinking of myself as a writer.

Tell us about your main character:

Sandy is a “real” 10-year-old Labrador retriever, who belongs to my next door neighbors. Most people are more than a little surprised to learn that Sandy isn’t my own dog because they see us together so often. I always joke that Sandy is my “timeshare doggie,” which always elicits a lot of smiles. We have visited every elementary school and children’s organization in our community at least once and Sandy is always a HUGE hit with the children!

What are you working on next?

I’m working on expanding All for Animals, the nonprofit organization I founded 14 years ago. We have an extraordinary read-to-a-dog program called ARF! (Animals + Reading = Fun!), which inspires children to become better readers.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?

Hmmm…  Does lifting my left arm over my head count as a special talent? I mention this because I spent the last 18 months suffering from a condition called Adhesive Capsulitis, which is a fancy name for “frozen shoulder.” With the help of a brilliant physical therapist and a newfound mindful meditation practice, I have been able to eliminate about 95% of the pain and regain my strength and range of motion.

Who are your favorite authors?

I’ve always been a fan of popular authors like John Grisham and Elizabeth Gilbert. Most recently, I’ve been reading several “channeled” metaphysical books such as the Seth Material by Jane Roberts and the Abraham books by Jerry and Esther Hicks.

What do you like to do with your free time?

Lucky for me that my work feels like play so you can most often find me writing, giving presentations at schools and libraries and getting together with my volunteers (both two- and four-legged!) for tea or lunch dates. In my truly “free time,” I enjoy reading (no surprise there!), catching up on reruns of Sex and the City (the main character is a writer, after all!), puttering in my garden or just chilling with my cat.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.

I’m in the research phase on a book about mindful meditation for children.

Where can people find you on the web?

Thank you for asking! You can find me on the web at

Any final thoughts?

Yes, it’s a phrase by that wise children’s book character, Dr. Seuss, and one I always use to end my presentations. It goes like this:  “The more that you read, the more things you’ll know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”




Book Tour – That Which Maddens and Torments

That Which Maddens and Torments banner

Title: That Which Maddens and Torments
Author: Christopher Keating
Publisher: Christopher Keating
Pages: 274
Genre: Suspense/Thriller


With the encouragement of her uncle, a retired professor of geophysics, Josephine Black, a recent college graduate, begins reporting on the issue of climate change for a major New York City newspaper. She quickly discovers that she has a passion for the subject and a talent for investigative journalism.

It’s not long before Jo’s hard-hitting articles are being noticed. However, leaders within the powerful fossil fuel industry don’t like what they are reading. They believe that the information in Jo’s articles could threaten their profits eventually, and they are also concerned that Jo will uncover a scientific report written by a friend of her uncle’s that proves the truth about global warming. The industry’s leaders are ruthless and are willing to stop at nothing to silence Jo and protect their profits.

Soon, Jo finds herself caught up in a very dangerous high stakes “cat and mouse game” related to the climate change debate. A game that combines politics and policy brokering at the highest levels of government with criminality. However, Jo is determined to outwit her ruthless enemies no matter what it takes.

Full of twists and turns, That Which Maddens and Torments is an entertaining, page-turning read. However, it also provides readers with insights into the debate surrounding the issue of global warming and helps to explain the motivation behind many of the global warming skeptics or deniers we read about or see on TV.

For More Information

  • That Which Maddens and Torments is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:


They hadn’t hurt him. In fact, they had treated him quite well. That didn’t really change things, though. They were waiting for him in the apartment when he arrived and forced him to sit at the table. One of them sat with him while the other searched the apartment.

“Are you comfortable, Dr. Chriswald? Can I get you something to drink? Maybe something to eat?”

The old man shook his head.

“Why are you still in my apartment? I answered all of your questions. I don’t know anything about this report you keep asking me about.”

“Please, professor. Don’t lie to me. We know that you had the report. Just give it to us or tell us where we can find it and we’ll leave. No one is going to hurt you, but I must know where to find that report. You’re an old man and it wouldn’t take me long to force it out of you, but I don’t want to do that. Tell me what I want to know and we’ll be on our way.”

He was an intimidating figure. He wasn’t large or muscular, but there was a look about him that made you think this was someone to avoid, someone that would make you cross the street so you didn’t have to walk by him.

He was sitting at the table with professor when his accomplice came in.

“I can’t find anything. It’s not here.”

The professor’s questioner looked at him and said, “We’re going to have to do this the hard way. You are not going to like this. But, don’t worry; you’ll give in quickly enough.”

He was surprised at how fast the old professor could move and was caught off guard. Before he could do anything Chriswald jumped up from his chair was racing across the room – not towards the locked door, but to the window behind him. Without uttering a sound he went head first through the window.

The second man started to run after him before the first man stopped him.

“No! Someone might see you. Its five stories to the sidewalk. He’s done.”

“Oh, man! This place is going to be crawling with people. We need to get out of here.”

Seth Kern agreed. He could already hear the screams outside.

“Did you leave any evidence?”

“No. I was careful.”

Kern calmly nodded his head, “Good. Did he have some kind of list of contacts? He knew he would be forced to talk and he was willing to die instead. That means he had some secret he didn’t want to tell us. My guess is he did something with the report. He might have sent it to someone he knows for safe keeping.”

“Yeah, I saw an address book. I’ll get it.”

They took the address book and quickly let themselves out, leaving the building before anyone had a chance to see them. The clamor out front helped cover their escape. People were looking to see what the fuss was all about and weren’t in the hallway.

Once clear of the building Conrad Holiday asked, “Did you mean it? Were you going to just let him go?”

“Sure. I wasn’t paid to kill him, just to recover the report, and a dead body always results in an investigation. Besides, what was he going to do? Tell people about the report? Even if he did talk, people would have ignored him. It would have been just another crazy conspiracy theory with no proof or evidence. No, he wasn’t a threat to us.”

He wasn’t concerned about the dead professor. They had been careful breaking in and had made sure to not leave any evidence of their presence as they searched the apartment. He had no idea what kind of explanation the police would come up with, but he was sure it wouldn’t involve the two of them.

He was more concerned with what to tell his client. The professor was dead and the only lead they had was an address book. But, he had been in bad situations before and he would explain it somehow. Besides, he knew his client wanted that report too badly. He would let some things slide, as long as Kern was making progress.

“I wonder. If he had the report, why didn’t he take it to the press?”

Holiday shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe he was trying some blackmail?”

Kern shook his head. “I haven’t heard anything like that. Besides, the people involved would have just paid and moved on. It would be pocket change to them. No, I have a feeling there is more to this than we know about.”

With a sigh he pulled out the address book and began looking through it.

“Hopefully, one of these people knows something,” he thought.


About the Author

Chris Keating had his first story published when he was just seven years old and in second grade. He has been writing both fiction and nonfiction ever since.

He wrote his first book, Dialogues on 2012: Why the World Will Not End, while he was a professor of physics at the U.S Naval Academy. He was inspired to write it because of continually being questioned on all walks of life about the myth the world was going to end on December 21, 2012 according to the Mayan calendar.

After the world didn’t end, Chris decided to tackle the controversial topic of climate change by writing Undeniable! Dialogues on Global Warming, which was published in 2014. He also began the online Global Warming Skeptic Challenge, offering $10,000 to the first person who could prove the fallacy of global warming. His challenge quickly went viral and Chris spent his entire summer that year responding to submissions. He later published a compilation of the submissions and his responses, which can be purchased at or downloaded as a free PDF at Chris also writes the blog, Dialogues on Global Warming, which is devoted to climate change issues.

Chris most recent book is the thriller, That Which Maddens and Torments. It pits an ambitious, hard-hitting young newspaper journalist writing about global warming against villainous denier lobbyists in Washington, D.C., who are working for the fossil fuel industry. At the behest of their clients, the lobbyists will stop at nothing to protect the industry’s profits and to ensure that a scientific study proving the truth of global warming does not become public. Chris hopes that by tackling the issue of global warming via a work of fiction, he will engage a broader cross section of people in the issue.

After successful careers as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Navy and the Navy Reserve and then as a professor of physics, Chris now lives in the Texas Hill Country, where he continues to focus on climate change research and to write.

For More Information

  • Visit Christopher Keating’s website.
  • Connect with Christopher on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Find out more about Christopher at Goodreads.
  • Visit Christopher’s blog.



Tell our readers about you

I am a professor of physics and retired from the Navy and Navy Reserve. Nowadays, I devote myself to writing and doing research on climate change.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

I live a wonderful life. It doesn’t take much to inspire me each day. I really do look forward to each day. I’m having a blast.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?

I would love to spend some time with Benjamin Franklin. He as a great scientist and was an eye-witness to some of the greatest events in the history of our country. It would be so much fun to hear what he had to say.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

The book is inspired by real world events and people. It is a fictional story, but the science and politics is real.

Tell us your writing process

I am all over the place when I write. I will write a scene when it comes to me, even when it is out of sequence. Then, I work to tie them all together. I wrote the final, epic scene of That Which Maddens and Torments first and then worked towards that conclusion.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was about seven. A friend of mine in second grade was putting together a book of World War II stories and asked me to write one. I enjoyed it and have been writing, off and on, ever since.

Tell us about your main character:

Josephine Black is starting out on a career as a newspaper journalist and is encouraged to specialize in climate change. Her reporting uncovers things powerful people would prefer to remain hidden and she gets in trouble as a result.

What are you working on next?

Purple Legion. It is the story of unforeseen consequences and how we treat each other. On one hand it will be quirky, but also with a serious side.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?

I’ve tried moving things with my mind like a Jedi, but no luck. I guess I’m just a regular guy.

Who are your favorite authors?

Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein were great inspirations for me. Today, I love Ken Follett and I laugh out loud while reading anything by Bill Bryson. I have a very wide taste in books.

What do you like to do with your free time?

I work on my house and spend time with my friends when I’m not reading, writing and doing research.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.

After Purple Legion I will be writing a humorous book about life in the Texas Hill Country. It should be a lot of fun.


Any final thoughts?

I just want to say ‘thank you’ for the opportunity to talk about my book.


My Father's Daughter banner
: My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily
Author: Gilda Morina Syverson
Publisher: Divine Phoenix and Pegasus Books
Pages: 277
Genre: Memoir/Travel/Family Relationships


In this multigenerational memoir, My Father’s Daughter, From Rome toSicily, our author travels with her Italian-born father, Italian-American mother, and very-American husband to the villages of her ancestors. This trilogy tale leads the reader through ancient sites of Rome, landscapes of a picturesque countryside, seaside villages of Sicily, olive trees in the valley of Mount Etna, while contrasting an emotional journey between a father and daughter.

Former North Carolina Poet Laureate, Joseph Bathanti, says, “My Father’s Daughter: From Rome to Sicily” is a travel book in every sense. Syverson – a savvy, funny, elegant tour guide – expertly escorts us through the gorgeous time-locked terrain of Italy, but also along the often precarious byways of the heart. This book risks everything: its humanity, its courage, its sheer unbridled candor, the moving sweep of its poetic language and its refusal to turn away from the breathtaking mystery of love and ancestry.

For More Information

  • My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Watch the book trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:

Sunday, October 15

Bright lights on the digital alarm blink 5:00 a.m. Five o’clock? What in the world am I doing awake? And what is this inner voice nagging me about room reservations in Rome? Something doesn’t feel right. Today? Sunday. Tomorrow is Monday. We’re leaving—Mom, Dad, Stu and me—for our trip to Italy and Sicily.

Why this message now and not when the itinerary arrived two months ago? Wait. I did wonder why the address for the hotel was different from what Carol, our travel agent, gave me on the phone. Why didn’t I pay attention to those feelings when the reservations first arrived?

I’ve been to Italy half a dozen times. Anything’s possible there. The building could be on a side alley, the address on the main road. Carol referred to the place as Hotel Columbus, and in her next breath called it Hotel Cristoforo Colombo.

It didn’t seem unusual to hear her use English and then Italian. After all, we both have Italian backgrounds. That’s why I used Carol to make the flight arrangements. I even chuckled when she rolled those rich flowing vowels off her tongue. Maybe I shouldn’t be so friendly and focus strictly on business.

One night on the Internet, I looked up the Hotel Columbus. Just like Carol had said, the address was Via della Conciliazione, Numero 34. The ad even touted that they were only blocks from the Vatican. I assumed the street address on the itinerary was simply an error. How many Christopher Columbus Hotels could there be, anyway? It wasn’t a chain— that much I knew.

At different times in my life, I’ve learned to let go and let others do things for me. But it didn’t come easy. Being the second oldest of eight children, I’ve often felt overly responsible.

I can’t be in charge of absolutely everything. At least that’s what I’ve tried to tell myself after having moved away from my large Italian-American family. Besides, our agent is not just any fly-by-night. She’s been in the business for over thirty years specializing in trips to Italy.

Now, here I am the morning before we’re supposed to leave, and I can’t stop churning. If I don’t get back to sleep, I’ll wake my husband. There’s no sense in both Stu and me being sleep deprived. I slip out of bed, climb the stairs to my art studio and quietly close the door. I hate following up after Carol, but I’m calling that hotel in Rome.

Buon giorno,” I say in my best Italian. “Parla Inglese?”

I’ve learned that if anyone there admits to speaking English, his or her verbal skills are much more fluent than my broken Italian. Luigi, the person on the other end of the phone, takes my last name and my parents‟ name, then asks for our reservation numbers.

“No problema,” Luigi says in his rich accent; we are booked.

To be absolutely sure, I say, “Now this is the Hotel Columbus two blocks from the Vatican, correct?”

“No, not correct,” Luigi replies. “We are about fifteen kilometers from the Vatican.”

Fifteen kilometers doesn’t register. I envision fifteen yards, fifteen feet, fifteen anything but kilometers.

Si,” I repeat, “fifteen kilometers is right down the street from the Vatican, correct?”

“No, not correct,” he says again. “Kilometers, kilometers,” he repeats, pronouncing each syllable—key lom e tours.

And then it hits me.

KILOMETERS?” I bellow, “But my travel agent said that you were in walking distance of the Vatican.”

“We are not,” he says. “You will have to take a bus or a tassi.”

Frantic, I hang up furious with myself for not having listened to my intuition after the itinerary arrived months ago. I ignored that internal voice trying to tell me something was awry and assumed my imagination had gotten the best of me, as I’ve been told most of my life it did.

I click on the Internet and find the phone number for the other Hotel Columbus and call. A woman named Stefania also replies yes to my question about speaking English.

“I’m sorry, Madam,” she says, “We do not have your name.”

She doesn’t have the reservation number that I read off either. Obviously, the confirmation system at one hotel is different from another. But I am grasping here. It’s pretty apparent that our reservations are with the first place I called.

I’m going to Rome with my mother and father, seventy- three and seventy-six, respectively. Although they’re not old, they’re not young and used to traveling either. And we’re not even staying close to the Vatican.

My father attends Mass every day, sometimes twice. Mom is not compulsive about daily Mass, but she is excited about being within walking distance from what we’ve always been taught is the seat of Catholicism.

Thanks to Stu, my Episcopalian husband, we’re scheduled to see Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s piazza the morning after we arrive in Italy. Stu’s nephew’s wife’s father, a colonel in the U.S. Army, had once been stationed at the American Embassy in Rome, and he was able to arrange a papal audience for us. Well, the four of us and about 8,000 other people.

The plan is to walk to the piazza from our hotel. Since the year 2000 is the Catholic Church’s Jubilee Celebration, we do not want to fight the traffic with the thousands of pilgrims who will be flooding Vatican City from all areas of the capital. Even though the main impetus for the trip is to visit my parents’ ancestral towns in Sicily, how can we go to Italy with my folks and not visit Rome?

Now on the other end of the phone, Stefania, the woman from the hotel near the Vatican, is trying to calm my rattled nerves.

“Madam, stay in the hotel that you have a reservation for and then try to find another place after you arrive. Rooms are scarce here,” she continues. “You are lucky to have one at all.”

Lucky is not how I’m feeling. I explain to Stefania how my parents are older, that it’s my mother’s first trip abroad, and we are willing take any available rooms. After several apologies and her sympathy, Stefania says they are totally booked. Exasperated, I go back to bed and crawl beneath the covers. So much for trying not to rouse my husband.

“Stu,” I whisper, “Those hotel reservations in Rome… they’re not at all near the Vatican.”

His eyes pop open.

Now we’re both awake for the day. I wait until almost 8:30 before I call our travel agent at home. Carol and I spend most of Sunday on and off the phone. Even though she looks on numerous Internet sites for another place near the Vatican, none of her attempts meet with success.


About the Author

Gilda Morina Syverson 

Gilda Morina Syverson, artist, poet, writer and teacher, was born and raised in a large, Italian-American family in Syracuse, New York. Her heritage is the impetus for her memoir My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily. Gilda’s story was a Novello Literary Award Finalist previously entitled Finding Bottom: an Italian-American woman’s journey to the old country.

Gilda’s award winning poems and prose have appeared in literary journals, magazines and anthologies in the United States and Canada.  She is also the author of the full-length poetry book, Facing the Dragon, and the chapbook, In This Dream Everything Remains Inside. Her commentaries have been aired on WFAE, Charlotte, N.C.’s public radio station.

Gilda moved to Charlotte, NC after having received an MFA in Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education from Buffalo State College. Gilda has taught in the Creative Arts for over 35 years including memoir classes and workshops for Queens University of Charlotte, The Warehouse Performing Arts Center in Cornelius, N.C. and at various other locations. Her fine art has been exhibited regionally, nationally and internationally. Her angel drawings and prints are in a number of collections throughout the United States, Canada and Italy.

Gilda lives outside of Charlotte, N.C. with her husband Stu.

For More Information



What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

Being alive inspires me to get out of bed each day, along with my passion for creativity. I have been in the creative arts all of my adult life and before. I wake up with a passion to work hard, create hard, be present for my husband, family- which includes my parents and siblings, close friends, students who have been a huge part of my life, along with colleague/friends – both artists and writers.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?

Since you did not ask whether the person is living or dead, today I would choose Hildegard of Bingen. (Tomorrow it could be Catherine of Siena, Elizabeth Gilbert or even Caroline Myss). Since I have always been interested in the mystics, I choose Hildegard because of her interests in art, writing, poetry, natural and medicinal herbs, role as an abbess, along with her courage and tenacity to stand up to a male-dominated system that did not, at that time in history, appreciate or even understand the value of the intuitive female.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

My story is a multigenerational memoir about traveling with my Italian-born father, Italian-American mother and very-American husband to the villages of my ancestors. My trilogy tale leads the reader through ancient sites of Rome, landscapes of a picturesque countryside, seaside villages of Sicily, olive tress in the valley of Mount Etna, while contrasting an emotional journey between my father and myself.

Tell us your writing process

Most often I begin my process by writing in my journal when I first wake up and again before I go to sleep. After breakfast, I take my journal entries, bring them to the computer and type them into a word document where I keep writing, until the story is written and ready for editing and revising. When I was in the heat of my memoir, I would often get up early and go right to the computer where I would work on a new chapter or edit one that needed revision. The days that I teach, I have to wait until evening when I can work on my writing. Once I’m into the writing, I have a hard time stopping. I get totally engrossed in the process and can easily lose track of time and stay up into wee hours of the morning.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I came into the creative arts as a Fine Artist–drawing, painting and mixed media. It was 1985 that I found writing or writing found me, and I fell totally at home in the process.

Tell us about your main character:

Since my book My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily is a memoir, I think of the story as having four main characters. Because I write from my perspective, I will talk about me as one of the main characters. I am obsessive about getting to my father’s village in Sicily with him, and excited to be able to visit my mother’s family’s village only a few hours away. My obsession does not stop with getting to those villages but continues throughout the whole story with worry over whether we have the right rooms in Rome, arrive at the papal audience on time or get to the train with time to spare. I pay attention to the details of every need my parents might have either before they have them or even if they never have them. The bottom line is that my character is a bit obsessive and out to uncover a heritage that possibly helped create such a personality.

What are you working on next?

I have a story I’ve written about my initial discovery and experiences in Healing Touch, an energy modality like Reiki, that I got involved in soon after 9-11 took place.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?

Besides being a writer, I have been an artist all of my adult life and before. I also discovered that I have the ability to do energy work (Healing Touch), where I am able to sense and feel energy around people.

Who are your favorite authors?

This has always been a tough question because there have been so many over the years. I will give a few of who I am “presently” obsessed with, which means it could change next month. These are but a few authors whose books are sitting on one of the surfaces next to where I read:  Elizabeth Gilbert, Adriana Trigiani and most recently I’ve become enamored with Elena Ferrante.

What do you like to do with your free time?

I like to walk, bike, read, hang out with my husband, Stu, and I/we love to travel.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.

One of my books is about Healing Touch. I also have stories about the angels that I have drawn for the last two or more decades. I know there are at least two more books from the poems I have written and continue to write. There are a few other possibilities that I think about.


Any final thoughts?

My memoir My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily, has been an experience that has helped me to discover my passion for story. I am not talking only about my stories, although that’s where it begins. I’m also talking about the accounts of the people I teach in classes and workshops and meet at writing events. It is important for us and for humanity to get our stories written. I believe if we don’t capture our tales, the truth of our life will be lost.

Book Tour – Vows To The Fallen by Larry Laswell

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About The Book

Vows To The Fallen

Title: Vows to the Fallen
Author: Larry Laswell
Publisher: Marshell Publishing
Publication Date: August 14, 2015
Format: Paperback – 277 pages / eBook  / PDF
ISBN: 978-0986385322
Genre: Historical Fiction / Military / Sea Story

Buy The Book:
Publication Date: August 14, 2015
Pre-Order The Book: July 1, 2015

Book Description

Vows to the Fallen
An Officer’s Journey Through Guilt and Grief
Another techno-thriller from the author of The Marathon Watch

August 9, 1942, 01:42 hours
USS Green on patrol off Red Beach, Guadalcanal
Bridge Officer: Lieutenant Patrick O’Toole

Lieutenant O’Toole’s goal is simple: someday he wants to become an admiral. But in a few moments, his life will change . . . forever. Yesterday, the marines stormed the beaches of Guadalcanal. Today, the Japanese Navy will strike back. The sudden and horrific carnage scars O’Toole for life and throws him into the abyss of survivor’s guilt and posttraumatic stress.

The Pacific War does not wait for O’Toole to heal. Duty calls, each new assignment brings more responsibility, and the roll call of the fallen grows. At the Battle of Mujatto Gulf, O’Toole faces a superior battle-hardened Japanese fleet and discovers the strength within him to climb from the abyss and find his true life’s mission. To the fallen, he vows never to abandon that mission no matter how high the cost.

Book Excerpt

Chapter 1
August 8, 1942, 2346 Hours
USS Green; 45 nautical miles northwest of Red Beach, Guadalcanal

Lieutenant Patrick O’Toole considered himself a career naval officer, and someday he hoped to be promoted to admiral. At Annapolis, his teachers had taught him the horrors of war, but he had never experienced combat. That was about to change and it would change him forever.

The steel ladder rattled as he clambered to the wheelhouse deck to assume the midwatch. On the wheelhouse deck, the port fifty-caliber gunner slouched with his back to the sea and chatted with the lookout on the flying bridge one level above. The helmsman faced the starboard bridge wing and had but one hand on the wheel. Dim red lights above the chart table and the polished brass compass binnacle added little illumination to the wheelhouse, and the men, gray smudges in the dark, seemed unconcerned. O’Toole’s concern bordered on anger, but he remained silent.

Find out what’s going on then fix it.

A man on the flying bridge lit a cigarette. This was way out of bounds. “Snuff your butt. The enemy can see that for miles,” O’Toole said, hoping his voice had a bark to it.

O’Toole had seen this before. Captain Levitte ran a relaxed ship, but this wasn’t peacetime. They were at war in enemy waters. O’Toole read the message dispatches, the captain’s night orders, and the chart. None of it good news, especially the report of a Japanese battlegroup headed south.

He located Lieutenant Karl, the officer of the deck on the port bridge wing. Karl’s life jacket vest was open, revealing a sweat-soaked khaki shirt, and sweat beaded on his brow.

Karl slouched on the bridge railing as O’Toole approached “What’s your status?” O’Toole asked.

Karl rubbed his day-old stubble. “At Condition III. Fire in all four boilers. Superheat lit, and the plant is cross-connected. Starboard steering motor, port steering engine” Karl droned as he went through the standard litany of the watch change. “On course zero-seven-zero at ten knots. Straight line patrol between points Able and Baker on the chart as per the captain. You have about ten minutes before you turn around and head back to point Baker. Received a report of Japanese ships headed south five hours ago. Told the captain, and he said Intel couldn’t tell the difference between a cruiser and a sampan. Besides, nothing will happen before dawn. Aircraft overhead, told the captain, he says they’re from our carriers. That, and the captain said to cut the crew some slack; they’re tired. I just ordered the cooks to make a fresh batch of coffee; you’re gonna need it. That’s about it.”

“Why aren’t we zigzagging?”

“Captain’s orders. Straight line patrol between points Able and Baker is what he wanted.”

“With an enemy force headed south we should be at Condition II at least.”

“I don’t know about that, but the captain wants to give the crew some rest.”

“Do we have star shells loaded or at the ready?”


“Which gun mounts are manned?”

“Mounts 51 and 55.”

“Only two?”

“Yes, and before you ask, one-third of the anti-aircraft batteries are manned, and I told those gun crews they could sleep at their stations.”

“Are the crews in Mounts 51 and 55 asleep?”


Out of professional courtesy, O’Toole didn’t challenge Karl, even though he would have been justified in refusing to relieve Karl of the watch until Karl corrected the battle readiness of the ship.

O’Toole saluted Lieutenant Karl and said, “I relieve you, sir.”

Karl nodded. “This is Mister Karl, Mister O’Toole has the deck and the conn,” Karl said to the bridge crew.

“This is Mister O’Toole, I have the deck and the conn,” O’Toole replied.

Karl handed O’Toole his life jacket, helmet, and gun belt and walked to the small chart table in the forward port section of the wheelhouse to complete his log entries. O’Toole brushed back his flaming red hair and put on the helmet, life jacket, and gun making sure all straps were cinched tight.

“Boats, over here,” O’Toole said to the boatswain mate of the watch as he headed to the starboard bridge wing. It was a lazy night: clear sky, high overhead clouds, calm sea, a slight breeze, and the ship plodding forward at ten knots. A night like this could dull the senses of the best of men. He couldn’t let that happen.

“Boats, square your watch away. We are in enemy waters, and there are reports of a column of Jap cruisers headed our way. I want everyone on their toes.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“Messenger, over here,” O’Toole said, beckoning the watch messenger.

“Go below and wake up the chiefs and tell them there are enemy ships in the area. I want them to make sure their watches are alert and ready. Tell the gunnery chief I want him on the bridge.”

“Yes, sir,” the messenger said and headed for the ladder.

A few minutes later, the gunnery chief appeared barefooted and in a white T-shirt. “Yes, sir, you wanted to see me?”

“Jap ships are headed our way. Check your gun crews; I want them alert with their eyes to the sea. Bring six star shells to the ready with one round in the mount. If we come under fire, I want Mount 51 to fire three star shells in a 180-degree spread without orders from the bridge.”

“What’s up, sir?”

“Not sure, chief, except we are in dangerous waters and the crew is asleep.”

“Will do, sir. Should I stay with the gun crews?”

“Wouldn’t be a bad idea, chief. Do what you think is best, but be aware things might get worse at dawn.”

“Yes, sir.” The chief trotted to the ladder and disappeared.

Lieutenant Karl finished his log entries and left the bridge. O’Toole stood next to the quartermaster at the chart table in the forward port section of the wheelhouse. He retrieved the sighting report. Five Japanese cruisers and four destroyers headed south at thirty knots. O’Toole plotted the ten-hour-old sighting location on the chart and walked the dividers across the chart to estimate the current location of Japanese forces. They would have passed the Green an hour ago and would now be on top of the northern defense line around Red Beach.

The receding drone of an aircraft off the port bow caught his ear. They were too far from the Japanese airbase at Rabaul for them to have planes this far south at night. It didn’t make sense: he didn’t think the carrier aircraft could operate at night, but spotter planes from a cruiser could.

Nothing had happened. Maybe the Japanese column had slowed or diverted. Naval doctrine taught officers to avoid night attacks since it complicated the battle, and everyone knew you couldn’t shoot at an enemy hiding in the darkness. Still, everything added up to a night counterattack against the Guadalcanal invasion force.

“Get the captain up here on the double. I’ll be on the flying bridge,” O’Toole said the watch messenger.

He felt better on the flying bridge where he had an unobstructed view of the sea and sky. He swept the horizon with his binoculars: nothing but a black night.

The crew was exhausted from the invasion of Guadalcanal the prior morning. The shirtless bodies of a hundred sleeping men escaping the oppressive heat and humidity of their berthing spaces lay on the dark main deck. Not regular navy, O’Toole thought, but he couldn’t object because the crew needed the sleep.

“What’s up, Pat?” Captain Levitte asked as soon as his head popped above the flying bridge deck level.

“I think we have trouble, Captain. The Japanese column sighted in the intelligence report should be on top of the northern defense line right about now. We should be at general quarters or at least Condition II and be zigzagging. There could be subs in the area.”

Levitte rubbed the back of his neck, then put his hands in his pockets, and walked in a tight circle with his eyes on the deck. “Look, the Japs aren’t that smart, and you should know not even the Japs are dumb enough to attack at night. Nothing will happen until the sun comes up. In the meantime, cut the crew some slack; they’re tired and need their sleep.”

“I’m sorry, Captain, but that doesn’t make sense. The sighting said the Japs were at thirty knots. They wouldn’t do that and then slow down to wait for the sun to come up.”

“No matter what happens we’ll kick their ass,” Levitte began. “We kicked their ass in the Coral Sea and Midway. Now we’re kicking their ass off Guadalcanal. The marines ran the Jap garrison into the jungle before lunch. They can’t stand up to us no matter what, so there’s no reason to get worked up about it.”

“To be safe, let me take the ship to Condition II and zigzag. It won’t hurt anything.”

“No, lieutenant. My night orders said to cut the crew some slack, and there is no need to waste fuel zigzagging. You read my night orders, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Follow them, and let me get some sleep.”

The shirtless lookout stiffened. “Sir, light flashes, port beam.”

Both men turned. Staccato bursts of light above the southern horizon illuminated the sky.

Another voice called out, “Flares off the port beam.”

The night erupted. White-golden flashes close to port blinded O’Toole. Captain Levitte’s chest exploded into a mist of blood. Shells exploded against the mast, and men dove to the deck.

On his stomach, O’Toole fought his life jacket as he rolled to the starboard edge of the deck. Crawling under the railing, he let himself over the side. He was about to let himself drop the last three feet when a jolt catapulted him to the deck below. His head hit the deck, and despite his cinched helmet, the blow stunned him to the precipice of unconsciousness. O’Toole fought to bring himself back to the present as he wobbled to a crouched position.

Concussions from explosions aft the wheelhouse punched at his chest and abdomen. He had to go through the wheelhouse to the port side to see the enemy ship. In the wheelhouse, only the quartermaster was up, crouching in the corner by the chart table. Sparks and flashes of incoming fire covered the aft bulkhead and enveloped the wheelhouse in smoke, shrapnel, and debris. Broken, screaming bodies littered the deck.

He fought his way through the wheelhouse across shattered glass that slid like ice across the blood-drenched deck. The Green’s guns hadn’t returned fire.

He turned to find the phone talker. A flash memory of the phone talker’s body falling next to the captain made him stop. The phone talker was dead along with most of the bridge crew. He was alone; he had no bridge crew, and there was no one left to command. To anyone who could hear, he yelled, “Tell the gun crews to return fire.”

On the port bridge wing, he peered over the railing. A thousand yards away, two searchlights blinded him, and a torrent of tracer fire arched toward the Green. Muzzle flashes from the enemy ship’s heavy guns ripped at the darkness, and spasmodic explosions on the Green followed each flash.

On his stomach looking aft, he tried to understand the hell erupting around him. Black smoke spewed from golden fires, and smoke boiled across the fantail near the depth charge racks. Antiaircraft rounds raked the Green’s main deck, tearing men apart; the lucky ones leapt overboard.

In the forward boiler room, the port bulkhead ruptured three feet below the waterline in a flash of light, wrenching the keel. Shrapnel pierced the two Babcock & Wilcox boilers, which exploded upward, shredding the main deck overhead. A half-second later, a second explosion severed the keel, and a third tore the shattered hull of the Green in two.

Sheets of water vaulted into the air, and the explosions pushed the Green hard to starboard and lifted it upward in a death spasm.

Torpedoes. The word lingered in O’Toole’s mind until he understood, then it vanished. He pulled himself to his feet. Ruptured boilers roared beneath clouds of steam.

The Green hinged aft the deckhouse. The stern rose and began its slide beneath the surface. When the cool seawater reached the aft boilers they blew a ten-foot mound of white water to the surface. The mound collapsed into a steam haze low above the water. As the first wisps of steam dissipated, they dragged O’Toole from his stupor.

The gunfire stopped. The searchlights were gone. Screams, moans, and the sound of rushing water welled up to fill the silence. He strained his eyes for an enemy invisible in the night. They had vanished. The battle was over.

There was no time for thinking or words; the conclusions flashed through his mind fully formed.

When the armed depth charges on the sinking fantail detonated, anyone in the water would suffer intestinal hemorrhaging and a slow, excruciating death.

To the men below he yelled, “Stay with the ship! Don’t go in the water; depth charges! Get everyone in the water back aboard!”

O’Toole took inventory. The forward part of the ship, though sinking, seemed stable. The wheelhouse was a confusing mass of shadows cut against golden fires, and the smell of blood and noxious nitrate gasses filled his head.

He entered the wheelhouse and stumbled. His knee landed on something soft. He looked down at the chest of a headless body. O’Toole’s stomach wrenched.

A figure appeared. “Sir, we took three torpedoes. No water pressure to fight the fires, no power, and we are flooding forward.”

One by one the sinking depth charges designed to sink submarines began to detonate, sending tremors from each concussive blow through the ship. When the explosions stopped, O’Toole took a deep breath, and the acid-laced air burned his lungs. “Get below. Pass the word to abandon ship.”

O’Toole turned his attention to the main deck, and released the one remaining life raft stored just below the bridge railing. Not waiting for orders, shirtless survivors leapt overboard. It seemed to take hours, but soon the decks were empty and the survivors were off the ship. With nothing left to do, he wondered if radio managed to send a message. He doubted it. He turned to the quartermaster and said, “Let’s go.”

The quartermaster collected the ship’s logs and joined O’Toole.

As he prepared to jump the last ten feet into the ocean, the quartermaster yelled, “Stop! Your helmet, sir.”

O’Toole had forgotten he was wearing it. Going overboard with a cinched helmet would break your neck. He tore it off, and they jumped together.

There was no past and no future, only the immediate need to survive. O’Toole swam from the sinking bow section, demanding his muscles move faster before her sinking hulk sucked him under. His muscles grew tired from the frenzied effort until a voice yelled, “She’s going down.”

He stopped and turned to what remained of the Green. Out of breath, he bobbed in the one-foot swells and coughed to clear the salt water from his lungs. The Green’s prow swung skyward while the hulk of the remaining bow section backed into the depths. The sea extinguished the fires as she slid under.

She died a silent death. After the tip of the bow disappeared, his eyes lost focus and he stared at the empty sea for several seconds, unable to grasp the meaning of this moment.

He linked up with a small group of survivors, and they linked up with other groups. They located two floater nets, lashed them together, and placed the injured in them. They found several of the watertight powder canisters used to protect the five-inch brass powder casings while in the magazines. The crew used empty canisters to stow stable dry food and water with the floater nets. He ordered several men to attract scattered survivors by yelling into the night.

At first, groups of four would swim toward them. Now an occasional lone survivor would show up. O’Toole gathered the surviving officers and chief petty officers. The group of seven rolled with the lazy sea, clutching the floater net to stay together. Three wore life jackets; the other four relied on the floater net.

“Someone said there is another group with a floater net south of us.” Pointing to Ensigns Carter and Fitch, O’Toole said, “Swim to the south floater net, if there is one, take a count, and tell them to swim their way to us and lash-in. While you’re at it, round up volunteers to scavenge for debris we can use. The men should also collect all the powder canisters and bring them here.”

Turning to Chief Brandon, he said, “Make sure the injured are wearing life jackets, and get those with serious wounds in the floater nets.” Brandon swam off.

To Ensigns Parker and Adbury, he said, “You two make the rounds and get a head count of the healthy, injured, and critically wounded. After you report back, take charge of the injured. Collect the morphine ampules from the crew.” O’Toole reached into his trouser pocket and handed over two morphine ampules. “Bring the wounded together, especially those with bleeding wounds. Get them in the floater nets and get the bleeding stopped; the sharks will show up soon enough.”

To Chief Zies, O’Toole said, “Chief, make the rounds, talk to everyone, and make sure their heads are on straight. Find anyone who might lose it and buddy them up with someone. We don’t want panic or men going nuts.”

Chief Zies swam off, and O’Toole reached underwater to remove his shoes. He tied the laces together and draped them over his neck.

Chief Zies made his rounds and returned to O’Toole’s position.

“You get a head count yet?” O’Toole asked.

“My count is fifty-seven, including you.”

“Just fifty-seven?”

“Lieutenant, the aft two-thirds of the ship sank like a rock. From the time the Japs attacked to the time the stern sank wasn’t more than a minute. I’m surprised we have this many left.”

O’Toole’s chest went hollow, and his mind went blank. Visions of shattered bodies and blood-soaked decks, the sound of dying men flashed through his mind. His gut radiated the hollowness of failure.

The dark corners of his mind whispered, “You’ll never be the same.”

“Three-fourths of the crew is missing,” O’Toole said.

“There has to be more out there,” Zies said.

“Yeah, there has to more out there,” O’Toole said.

As the deck officer, he was responsible for the safety of the ship and crew.

He had scanned the horizon, and he had jacked up the lookouts and the bridge crew. It hadn’t been enough. Either way it was his responsibility. It takes three minutes to get a torpedo firing solution, and one zigzag might have destroyed their firing solution and saved the ship. He hadn’t seen his options; the wall had blocked him again. His grandfather’s words stabbed at him.

You’re not adequate.

It was the story of his life; he always fell short of adequacy. There was always one more thing he might have done, but he could never see it until it was too late. The wall was always there to stop him and hide the solution. His wall had damned him to failure again. The wall was always there blocking his way a single step short of success.

Ensign Parker swam over to him. “Got the head count. Fifty-seven men. Twenty-one wounded. Six critical. That includes the south floater net we got lashed-in.”

“We’ll wait till dawn to find the others,” Zies said. “What the heck happened, sir?”

“Wish I knew,” O’Toole began. “A column of Jap ships were headed to Guadalcanal to counterattack. I suspect they left a destroyer behind to ambush us once the fight off Guadalcanal started.”

“That means they spotted us, but how did that happen without us seeing them?” Zies asked.

“That part is easy. We weren’t looking, but I still can’t figure out how we missed them once we did start looking. I should have zigzagged despite the captain’s orders.”

Zies looked at O’Toole for a long minute. “You’re not blaming yourself for this, are you?”

O’Toole didn’t answer.

“Are you?”

The question tore at O’Toole, but he had to look forward, and swore the wall would not stop him. “For now, we’re not losing any more men, Chief. Keep the men together. They’ll start looking for survivors tomorrow; they’ll find us.” O’Toole said.

Voices shouted. Zies turned. A searchlight from an approaching ship probed the surrounding sea. When it reached the far end of the floater nets, gunfire erupted. Spikes of water shot up around the Green’s survivors.

Both O’Toole and Zies screamed, “Everyone down!”

O’Toole shed his life jacket, took a deep breath, and dove. He figured five feet would be enough. He pivoted his feet beneath him and tried to maintain his depth. When the burning in his lungs became unbearable, he kicked hard to reach the surface. When his head cleared the water, he sucked in a chest of air, preparing to dive again, but the gunfire stopped.

The searchlight now centered itself on his small group, and a Japanese heavy cruiser loomed over them. With his hand, he blocked the searchlight so he could see the bridge. He studied the bridge and a man with a patch over his left eye. By his position on the bridge wing, his carriage, and the separation between him and the other officers, O’Toole guessed he was the captain.

They locked eyes. Neither man flinched. After several seconds, the Japanese captain walked away. The cruiser picked up speed and disappeared into the night.

Zies asked O’Toole, “What was going on between you and the guy with the eye patch?”

“I wanted the bastard to know we weren’t defeated,” O’Toole began. “The Japs won this battle not with equipment but with smarter officers and sharper training. How they pulled it off was brilliant: at night, torpedoes first, guns second, no star shells. They mauled us with their guns, but knew that wouldn’t sink us. Once the Jap ship saw the torpedoes hit, there was no need to continue a gun battle and endanger their ship; they knew they had sunk us, so they vanished into the night.”

O’Toole shook his head; he would have to figure out what happened later; he put it out of his mind.

“Okay, Chief, have the men with life jackets chain up. Make sure they lash in each chain to a floater net. As you make the rounds, make sure everyone is secure for the night. By God, we’re not losing any more men.”

“Aye, sir.” Zies swam away, yelling, “Everyone chain up and lash in!”

Men formed spiral chains. One man would loop his arm through the hole below the high collar of the next man’s life jacket, burying the arm to the shoulder. The chains provided security, extra buoyancy, and a way to sleep without drifting away.

About The Author


Larry Laswell

Larry Laswell served in the US Navy for eight years. In navy parlance, he was a mustang, someone who rose from the enlisted ranks to receive an officer’s commission. While enlisted, he was assigned to the USS John Marshall SSBN-611 (Gold Crew). After earning his commission, he served as main engines officer aboard the USS Intrepid CV-11. His last assignment was as a submarine warfare officer aboard the USS William M. Wood DD-715 while she was home ported in Elefsis, Greece.

In addition to writing, Larry, a retired CEO fills his spare time with woodworking and furniture design. He continues to work on The Marathon Watch series, an upcoming science fiction series titled The Ethosians, and an anthology of over eighty humorous sea stories titled A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale.

You can visit Larry Laswell’s website at
Connect with Larry Laswell:
Author Blog:

Poetry Contest

Win a dinner for two, a night on the town, or whatever you want to do with $250!

Enter Larry Laswell’s Vows to the Fallen Poetry Contest!

Pre-release sales of Vows to the Fallen will begin on July 1, 2015 for release on August 14th. One of the characters in the book has a habit of reciting excerpts from classic poems. If you are the first to correctly name all of the poems you win! $150 for second place and $100 for third place.

Here are the rules:

1. Order Vows to the Fallen in Amazon’s Kindle store.
2. At midnight (EST) download Vows to the Fallen and read it to find the poetry excerpts.
3. Leave a review on Amazon (How you rate the book has no bearing on your eligibility to win.)
4. Go to and click on “Contest.” In the form tell Larry under what name you left the review, and then list the poems by name and author. (Watch your spelling – it must be exact!)
5. The first correct entrant who left a review wins a dinner for two, a night on the town, or whatever they want to do with $250!
6. If Larry cannot identify the entrant’s review they will be disqualified (don’t use an anonymous name!)
7. If Larry receives more than one entry at the same time stamp, Larry will hold a drawing to determine the winners.
8. Any organization, or individual who received an advance review copy, their employees or family are ineligible.
9. Larry is the contest judge, and his judgment is final.
10. Larry is not responsible for delivery delays in the Amazon Kindle system.
11. Larry will post the winners on his website at 8AM EST on September 1, 2015.

Pre-order Vows to the Fallen today!


Larry, thanks for being here today. Tell us a little about yourself.
My working life is an eclectic collection of jobs. I’ve been an assembly line worker, a forklift operator, a theatrical technical director, a computer programmer, and a business executive. In between all that I enlisted in the navy, and eight years later I left the navy as an officer.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Huh? What’s the difference between inspiration and obsession? Inspiration seems a bit highfalutin’ to me. I’m just a normal person with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

There is always something I’m obsessed about, but what that is depends on what is going on. I design furniture and do woodworking. Once I get a design project started, it owns me until it is done. I am self-employed as a consultant for some really great clients. If something is going on with them, I can’t wait to get up and help them solve their problems.

None of that is to say I don’t get obsessed with my books. I write for a while every day no matter what. Sometimes I have to force myself to “get into” a book, but once I get there, I can’t put it away—I have to write it.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Tough question because there are so many great choices, but I think it would be Nelson Mandela. He was a game-changer and someone who left his mark on history. His impact was the product of his intellect, worldview, and philosophy. If I could spend a day with him, I would ask him to talk to me about anything that came to his mind. I would sit quietly and absorb every word.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Vows to the Fallen is a prequel to my previous novel The Marathon Watch. In The Marathon Watch, I introduced a crusty, irascible, navy captain named Patrick “Terror” O’Toole. O’Toole symbolized the best of naval tradition: duty, honor, and country. O’Toole’s feared college professor character was a tough taskmaster devoted to making his charges think.

My readers made O’Toole their favorite, and I felt compelled to write a book about how O’Toole became the leader he is. Vows to the Fallen is O’Toole’s story. As readers will find out, his character and life’s mission were forged in the horrific South Pacific battles of World War II.

Tell us your writing process.
At the macro level, I will mentally play with a book idea for a year or more. I call this the composting period. During that period I may write notes or characters and dramatic scenes to get a feel for the book. When I am ready to start writing, I create an outline grid for each character and subplot. From there I will create a scene-by-scene outline that can run ten thousand to fifteen thousand words. This process may take two to three months, but I’m not working on it full time.

When I’m happy with the outline, the writing process begins. My writing process is either chaos bordering on order, or order on the verge of chaos. There are many do-overs because of the organic growth of the story. For example, I am working right now on my next novel and have drafted the first two chapters. I have redrafted them multiple times trying to find the tone, or style of writing, appropriate for the story. I will keep at this until the style sings to me.

Next I will write the middle chapter and the last chapter. With those done, I pick up my outline and start serious writing. This is where everything gets chaotic. The story grows and morphs organically. This requires revisiting the outline and everything else I’ve written. Sometimes, I feel that I have to write two hundred thousand words to achieve the final ninety-thousand-word manuscript.

I have a love-hate relationship with writing. I write novels about people; my books are not just action and suspense. Writing about complex characters is difficult, and I hate the grinding work it takes to do it right. But I love writing because the word crafting required to develop nuance, emotion, and foreboding is so fascinating. When I’m done, I feel that I have accomplished something worthwhile, and one reader review is all the payment I need.

What tips can you give other authors who are looking to get the word out about their book?
Buy a rabbit’s foot. There are thousands of great novels with four- and five-star reviews waiting to be found. As of yet, no one has found the magic formula that can guarantee a well-written novel will take off. I have personally spoken with several successful authors, and they all say it begins with luck. If there is a trick to it, it’s being persistent and having a social platform ready to go when the fates bless you with good luck. It will happen sooner or later.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
When people ask me how I got into writing, I suggest that they should be asking how writing got into me. I think I inherited the itch from my mother, who was also a writer. The Star Trek maxim should have been “A life-form has to do what a life-form is.” That’s the way it is with me—I have to write because that’s who I am. I’m happiest when I’m writing.

Unfortunately, career aspirations kept getting in my way, and I never took the time to write. In about 1990 I wrote my first short story. It was so bad that the garbageman threw it back when I put it in the trash. I started studying the writing craft and writing for my own enjoyment. About three years ago my friends really got in my face and told me to publish. The rest is history.

Tell us about your main character.
In Vows to the Fallen, O’Toole, the crusty navy captain from The Marathon Watch, starts out as a mere lieutenant. O’Toole is an unorthodox, independent thinker and tactical savant. His childhood at the feet of an impossible-to-please grandfather broke down his self-confidence. His self-doubt compounds the emotional trauma he feels when he has to make life-or-death decisions for his men. He has to find a way to deal with his emotions positively.

What are you working on next?
The third book in the Marathon series is in the composting stage, and I expect it will go to outline in the next few months. I am currently working on my next series, The Oracle, a science fiction thriller series. This series will be fun with cliff-hangers and plot twists mixed with a bit of mysticism.

As with all of my books, there will be a serious message in The Oracle series along with significant character growth. I can’t bring myself to write a purely plot-driven book. I want to ask my readers questions that they can ignore or ponder as they choose.

Now that I’ve said that, there is an exception. I have published a collection of satirical essays on navy life titled A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale in installments of eight to ten essays. That collection is just for fun, seriously.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
Duh! I don’t know. Let me text my wife.

She says, and I quote, “You have a deep, complex, analytical mind like a steel trap that doesn’t snap shut until you have the big picture. Because of that, you’re a great problem solver and designer and totally incapable of writing a simple book. Other than that, you are a klutz and a hazard to household navigation.”

Who are your favorite authors?
I have been heavily influenced by John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Tom Clancy, and Douglas Adams. I have also enjoyed James Michener, Orson Scott Card, and Ayn Rand.

Currently, I am going through a phase of grazing through the current crop of independent authors, such as Michael Grumley, Joshua Dalzelle, Matthew Mather, Veronica Roth, Jennifer Wells, and A. G. Riddle. I take some risks in reading new authors, but for the most part I am pleased far more often than I am disappointed.

My wife and I belong to Kindle Unlimited and between us, we finish over ten books a month, so I spend a great deal of time reading.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Free time? What’s that?

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I expect to publish the first installment in The Oracle series early next year and follow that with the third book in the Marathon series. Just to spice things up, I publish a volume of A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale about every six months. Ultimately, I want to get my writing better organized so I am releasing three new novels a year.

Any final thoughts?
I would like to give one of your readers a night on the town or whatever he or she would like to do with $250–$300. I am running a contest associated with the launch of Vows to the Fallen on August 14. In Vows to the Fallen, one character has a habit of spouting off classic poetry at all the wrong times. The first reader to identify all of the poetry quotes wins. It’s a tough contest, and if no one gets them all correct, I will award the prize to the earliest and best response. Contest details are in all of my current Kindle books and on my web site, and Vows to the Fallen is available for prerelease purchase at a discounted price.

Also, between now and August 14, all of my books will be available free on Kindle from time to time, so keep watching, download, learn about the contest, and enjoy.

Interview With Mort Herman

Hi folks. Today I am interviewing Mort Herman. Mort was a guest on my blog a few days ago, with his book release, Future’s Edge.

Mort, Tell our readers about you.….
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, I earned a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering and have worked in high-tech industry for 35 years. Throughout my tenure in Corporate America, I gained valuable insight into the business of technology and its revenue-generating capabilities.

Currently, I live on the Jersey shore. When I’m not writing, I am an avid sailor, a wood sculptor and a charter member of the Arts Society of Keyport. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I designed and project managed the implementation of three, concrete free formed sculptures that replace destroyed public art in the town of Keyport, NJ. Currently, mosaic artists are applying glass to these sculptures, depicting points of interest around Keyport and the Raritan bay.

Mort Herman

What inspires you to get out of bed each day? 
Life is full of possibilities. I never know what each day will bring.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?  
James A. Michener. I am blown away at the detailed research he does for his books. When it comes to historical fiction, he is the master and has been a big influence in my writings.

What’s the story behind your latest book? 
Future’s Edge, the seed is a story about the future of our planet. It addresses many of the problems we face today from overpopulation, future energy sources, worldwide governments, technological addiction, greed, survival and human complacency.


Tell us your writing process.  
I am lucky to have a compelling storyline for my trilogy. It provides the boundaries for my writing, as I never have to worry about what to do next or how the story will end because I have it all in my head before I start to write. When I write, I have what I call an imaginative mode where I set down the sequences of the story, create characters and map out the flow. I give myself a lot of freedom. In another mode, I develop the characters, incorporate unexpected twists and create conflict. And of course there is the polishing phase where I smooth over the bumps, leading to a credible first read by my beta readers and then the editors. Many times, I choose which type of writing I want to do depending on many things. I could get a spark of inspiration or good idea and off I go, finding a way to integrate it into the book.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Its funny because if someone told me when I was 25 years old that I would publish a Science Fiction Novel, I would have laughed. Then, all of a sudden (May 2012), an idea came to me and in 3 weeks, I had my compelling story. From that singular burst of creativity and inspiration, I have embarked on a mission to finish the trilogy. Book one (Future’s Edge, the seed) was published in September 2014 and I am nearly done with a good first draft of the second book (Future’s Edge, the discovery).

Tell us about your main character
Sam Greenhut, is a technical genus, coming from a long line of famous Greenhut scientists. In 2230, he is responsible for the Global Network, an entity that delivers unlimited energy and information to an insatiable, needy planet. With a backdrop of complete societal dependency on the Global Network, Sam clings to his humanity, preferring to interact with his fellow humans on a face-to-face basis, holding dearly to the principle of self-reliance. When Sam discovers dangers to the smooth operation of the Global Network, the corporate and governmental powers to be, ignore his warnings. Torn between his technical responsibility and his desire to escape his plight and family legacy, Sam is faced with decisions that will dictate the future of our planet.

What are you working on next? 
I am finishing the second book in the trilogy, called Future’s Edge, The Discovery.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
My imagination

Who are your favorite authors?  
James Michener, Isaac Asimov

What do you like to do with your free time?
Sailing, volunteer work.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books. 
The Trilogy

Where can people find you on the web?

My website is

Any final thoughts? 
To me, writing is a very satisfying, learning endeavor. My story has naturally led me to research a variety of truly diversified topics. From ancient cultures (Inuit and native American), to botany, geology, future technology trends, Arctic exploration and seafaring vessels of the 18th and 19th centuries, each area, like a puzzle piece, has found its way into the novel. The story is the magnet that attracts these ideas, making for a richer final product. I have learned a lot, delving into areas I never thought I would go.

Tales Of A Tenacious Tenor – Robert P. Mitchell

Tales Of A Tenacious Tenor
by Robert P. Mitchell


Blurb: Why aren’t you singing at the Met? 
…a question frequently asked of the author after a performance. Bob liked to say to people, “I could never come up with a snappy come-back, so I sat down and wrote the whole story…” from when the great movie tenor, Mario Lanza, in the movie Student Prince (1954), inspired him to sing, to his last performance in 1991 as Don José in Carmen. Bob sang more than forty leading roles for more than thirty years with fifteen opera companies in New York City not many people know about. 
His story reads like a nail-biting novel, and it’s all true.

Tales Of A Tenacious Tenor

Available on Googleplay,, Kindle and all good ebook retailers

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