Thursday, February 22, 2018

Abuse of Discretion - A Mystery That Matters - By Pamela Samuels Young


The police!
My mouth is as dry as sand. “I don’t have a naked picture of anybody on my phone, Mrs. Keller. I swear, I don’t. Why’d you call the police on me?”
“I had no choice.”
My right knee won’t stop bouncing up and down. “Who said I had a naked picture?”
“I can’t disclose that information.”
There’s a knock on the door. When two police officers step into the room, I almost pee on myself. They introduce themselves to the principal but ignore me.
One of the cops is short and Asian with biceps that look like two boulders. He turns around and mean mugs me. “Is this the student?”
Principal Keller nods and hands him a piece of paper. He reads it, then turns back to me.
“I’m Officer Chin and this is Officer Fenton,” the Asian cop says, referring to a tall white man with slicked-back hair who’s staring down at me too. “We need to talk to you.”
Officer Chin opens the side door leading into the principal’s private conference room and tells me to go inside. I’m so nervous it feels like I’m walking on toothpicks.
The white cop sits in the chair next to me and turns sideways. He’s sitting so close to me that his knee keeps brushing against my thigh. I want to ask him to move back, but I don’t. Officer Chin sits on the other side of the long table, glaring at me like I shot somebody.
“So, Graylin, do you know why you’re here?” Officer Chin asks.
“Nope,” I mumble. Then I hear my grandmother’s voice. She’s old school and is always telling me to be respectful to adults. “I mean, no, sir.”
I don’t like looking at the Asian cop. If they try a good-cop, bad-cop act on me, he’s probably going to play the bad cop.
“First, I need to tell you that you’re in some major trouble,” the mean one says.
I’ve already decided that’s what I’m going to call Officer Chin—Mean Cop—because that’s what he is.
I don’t say anything since he hasn’t asked me a question.
“How old are you?”
“Your principal got a report that you have a naked picture of one of your classmates on your phone.”
“But I don’t.” Not anymore.
“Do you know Kennedy Carlyle?”
“Is she your girlfriend?”
I screw up my face. “No.” Kennedy is way too stuck-up to be anybody’s girlfriend.
“Well, how do you know her?”
“She’s in my English and algebra classes.”
I don’t want to talk to them because I know they aren’t on my side. I watch a lot of TV crime shows with my granny. The cops always act like they want to help you, but they’d rather shoot a black kid than help him. That’s why we need Black Lives Matter. They just need to read me my rights and—Oh snap! I suddenly remember what my dad told me to do if the police ever stopped me.
I sit up straight and try to look brave. “My dad told me not to talk to the police without his permission.”
Mean Cop rolls his eyes. “Is that right? Does your daddy know you have a naked picture of one of your classmates on your phone?”
But I don’t. I want to smile, but I know that will get me in even more trouble.
Mean Cop grips the edge of the table and leans forward. “If I were you, I’d want to defend myself. So, if you want us to hear your side of the story, you better start talking.”
I don’t know what to do. I want to defend myself, but my dad gave me strict instructions. If a cop stops you, don’t say a damn word.
Officer Fenton bumps my thigh with his knee again which makes me flinch. “Look, Graylin, we need you to be honest with us. If you do, we can cut you some slack.”
Even though I wish he wouldn’t sit so close to me, at least he talks nice to me. Still, I keep quiet.
“According to the report we received,” Mean Cop continues, “you’ve been going all over the school showing people a naked picture of your classmate.”
Before I can stop myself, I blurt out, “No, I didn’t! Somebody’s lying on me!”
Of course, I’d planned to show the picture to my best friend Crayvon, but you can’t go to jail for something you were only thinking about doing.
“If you have the picture on your phone,” Officer Fenton says, “just be truthful about it and we’ll see what we can do to keep you out of trouble.”
They must think I’m stupid. I do what my dad told me to do and keep my mouth shut.
Mean Cop pounds the table with his fist, making me jump two inches out of my chair. “Where’s your phone?”
I still don’t answer. Everybody has the right to remain silent, even kids.
“I said where’s your phone?” Mean Cop repeats.
I hide my hands underneath the table, so he can’t see them shaking.
Officer Fenton pats me on the shoulder. “C’mon, Graylin, you seem like a good kid. I bet you make good grades, don’t you?”
I nod and start to tell them I got honors certificates in math and science last year, but I figure they still won’t let me go. “My dad”—I start to stutter—“my dad told me not to talk to the police without his permission.”
“Why don’t you help us out here?” Officer Fenton says. “We really need to see your phone. We’ll take a quick look and if there’s no picture, we’ll send you back to class.”
A squeaky voice comes out of my mouth. “It’s…it’s in my backpack.”
As soon as the words are out, I want to kick myself. Now I’ve just lied to the police. Again.
“And where’s your backpack?”
“In my locker.”
“Why don’t we go with you to your locker, so you can get it?” Officer Fenton says.
“My dad told me not to talk to the police without his permission,” I say for the third time.
Officer Fenton frowns. “This is a very serious matter, son.”
Mean Cop thumps his fingers on the table. “Why don’t you just—”

The voice of Young Thug singing RiRi fills the room. Ah-ah-ah work. Do the work baby do the work. Tonight baby do the work baby do the work.
When I hear my ringtone, my stomach lurches up into my throat. I’m about to throw up the oatmeal I had for breakfast.
Mean Cop scrunches up his face like a WWF wrestler. “Did your daddy also teach you to lie to the police? Give me the damn phone!”
I shakily pull it from my pocket and set it on the table.
Officer Fenton picks it up, taps the screen, then looks over at me. “What’s the password?”
I stare down at the table.
“I said what’s the password?” Now he’s turning mean too.
“LeBron forty-three.”
“For your sake, young man, I hope you’re telling us the truth.”
I keep my eyes on the table. A bead of sweat falls from my forehead into my eye, but I don’t wipe it away.
“Why’re you sweating?” Mean Cop says. “You afraid we’re going to find that naked picture?”
After a couple of minutes, Officer Fenton looks at Mean Cop and shakes his head. “Nothing in his photos or texts. I only see a few recent emails. Nothing there either.” He sets it back on the table.
Mean Cop grunts. “Let me look.” He stretches one of his short arms across the table and grabs my phone.
He taps the screen a few times, then starts smiling. “Well, well, well, what do we have here? Looks like you forgot to check his deleted pictures, partner.”
Mean Cop holds up my phone and shows me the picture I thought was gone forever. A warm trickle of pee runs down my left leg.
“You’re quite the little liar, aren’t you?” Mean Cop yells at me. “Where’re the rest of the pictures?”
“There aren’t any more,” I stutter. “That was the only one I had.”
“Did you take it?”
“You lied about your phone being in your locker, you lied about having this picture, and you’re still lying now!”
“My…my dad”—I can’t get my words out—“my dad told me not to talk to the police without his permission.”
“When your daddy told you that, he didn’t realize you’d be in this kind of trouble. If you didn’t take this picture, how’d it get on your phone?”
“Somebody sent it to me.”
“I don’t know.”
My throat hurts and it feels like somebody’s pressing down on my chest. If the table wasn’t in the way, I’d hug my knees to my chest.
Mean Cop pulls out his handcuffs and dangles them from his finger. “Stop lying and tell us the truth,” he barks. “If you don’t, you’re going to jail.”


Sometimes a Crime Isn't Always Criminal

Abuse of Discretion:
The Dre Thomas Series

Pamela Samuels Young

It was the character Graylin who tore at my emotions as I watched him being taken to the principal's office, based upon an anonymous call. Getting sent to the office was bad enough, but being brought there led Graylin to immediately wonder if something had happened to his mother...

Trying hard to think what it could be, he finally realized that it might be about a picture that had been sent to him also anonymously. It was a naked picture of a girl that was in some of his classes. He had saved it, but realized now that he shouldn't even have done that and deleted it while he waited.

But it wasn't the principal who would be talking to him; it was the police. At least they had called his dad, although he wasn't looking forward to having his dad learn the possible issue...

What was horrifying to me, and to many readers, is that Graylin had stated over and over to the police that he was not supposed to talk to the police without his father present. That was the beginning--the beginning of abuse--of Graylin, a 14-year-old boy who was smart, a good student, and a relatively well-behaved child... But the police kept pressing... questioning...

"You couldn't plead it down...?
"I tried...Prosecutors have a lot of
discretion as to who gets charged.
Some of them read the statues literally
and will go after anyone in possession
of a naked picture of a kid, even if it's
a thirteen-year-old child."
I pray to God Graylin hasn't taken a
naked picture of some girl. "So will
you take the case?"
"Yes, of course. It'll take me about
forty minutes to get down to Eastlake."
"Thanks. It sounds like Graylin might
be in some serious trouble.
"If he has a naked picture of an under-
age girl on his phone, there's no might
about it." Jenny says. "These days
a smartphone in the hands of a kid can
have more devastating consequences
than giving them a loaded gun. And
 the average parent doesn't have a
I remember how much I enjoyed
the Judging Amy show, which covered our juvenile criminal justice system. But now, Young had taken me into a "shocking look inside" that justice system in today's world. It is not an easy story to read, but a very important one!

Fortunately, Graylin's family and friends made sure that an experienced youth lawyer was hired. And, for me, the legal interaction with Graylin was the primary focus, even though this book is the third in the Dre Thomas Series and there is another plot line moving concurrently... where you'll be meeting "The Shepherd" who is sitting in a low risk federal correctional facility while planning murder on the outside! And Dre is a target...

Dre is involved with Angela, a lawyer, but she knows that Graylin needs someone totally familiar with the youth system. And we meet Jenny Ungerman, who accepts the case, but then is upset when Angela can't seem to keep herself from intruding and wanting to help... The interaction between them goes from tense exasperation into a partnership that really worked well... The author might want to think of pairing those two in a new series, in my opinion.

Poor Graylin, he was getting advice from all sides, but one thing had stuck with him. If you are tried as an adult, you have a jury which would probably give him a break...Maybe, maybe not. But Graylin did everything he could to ensure that's what happened...readers will have to decide whether this turned out to be the best for Graylin...

Do your children spend hours on their phone? Are you monitoring in any way? Given the level of sexual material displayed everywhere these days, you can bet that your child is involved not only with texting friends, but...sexting with some of them... More important than your knowing whether they are is this--are you aware that it is against the law??? In this story, a young boy gets sent a naked picture of a girl he knows. Instead of immediately closing out the picture, he saves it to his phone...He is now facing charges of holding and possible dissemination of child pornography...

I already knew this from other books I've read, but this story which could also be listed under urban fiction, perfectly illustrates how a kid can be caught in a nightmare that started out to this important book to see how a good kid can be caught, condemned and swiftly in court!

Children really do not understand the consequences of actions "that everybody is doing..." I highly recommend you read this and help them understand!


Attorney, author and anti-trafficking advocate Pamela Samuels Young has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. While growing up in Compton, California, Pamela set giant-sized goals and used her talent, tenacity and positive outlook to accomplish them. She consequently achieved success in both the corporate arena and literary world simultaneously.
For fifteen years, Pamela served as Managing Counsel for Toyota in Southern California, specializing in labor and employment law. While still practicing law, Pamela began moonlighting as a mystery writer because of her desire to see women and people of color depicted in the legal thrillers she read. That required her to rise at 4 a.m. to write before work, after work and any other spare time she could find. Dubbed by one reviewer as “John Grisham with a sister’s twist,” Pamela is now a full-time author with eight award-winning mystery novels.
Her thriller Anybody’s Daughter (2013), a gripping tale of a teen unwittingly drawn into the world of child sex trafficking via a Facebook scam, won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction and was a Top Ten pick by In the Margins, the best books for at-risk teens. Her latest mystery, Abuse of Discretion (2017), tackles a troubling teen sexting case that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile justice system. Pamela’s other novels include Every Reasonable Doubt (2006), In Firm Pursuit (2007), Murder on the Down Low (2008), Buying Time (2009), Attorney-Client Privilege(2012), and Lawful Deception (2015). She has also penned an erotic romantic suspense novella, Unlawful Desires (2017), as well as multiple short stories.
Pamela is a proud natural hair enthusiast and the author of Kinky Coily: A Natural Hair Resource Guide, a book dedicated to empowering women to discover the true beauty of their kinky coils.
Before her legal career at Toyota, Pamela served as Employment Law Counsel for Raytheon Company and spent several years as an associate with the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, in Los Angeles. A former journalist, Pamela began her broadcasting career at WXYZ-TV in Detroit and later worked as a news writer and associate producer at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.
A graduate of UC Berkeley’s School of Law, Pamela has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime-L.A., an organization dedicated to the advancement of women mystery writers.
A frequent speaker on the topics of self-empowerment, sex trafficking and online safety, fiction writing, and pursuing your passion, Pamela lives in the Los Angeles area. To read an excerpt of her books or to schedule her for a speaking engagement or book club meeting via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, speakerphone or in person, visit her website at

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Personal Favorite for 2018: Lady Blues by Aaron Paul Lazar!

Genesee River
I strolled along Main Street with Siegfried, my best friend and brother-in-law, unable to shake the song repeating in my head. I’d played it for my Opera 101 class yesterday at school, and since then, kept hearing Marcelo Alvarez singing “Che gelida manina,” from La Boheme...

If interested, all the music from this book, is provided in next post!

Because Camille and I had seen him perform in this role last fall in New York City, it made me long for Lincoln Center, or at least a really good hot pastrami sandwich from a decent deli.
Why I thought of food at that particular moment was a mystery, because we’d just finished a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, home fries, and bacon at Clara’s Diner. I shrugged and let the warm spring air caress my face and bare arms. The sun felt good after the lingering cold of March. I reveled in the feeling of freedom, happy to have no appointments or chores looming in the near future, and looking forward to a leisurely stop in the village bookstore. A warm breeze teased across the Genesee Valley, filling me with a curious sense of exhilaration. Just past the bagel shop, from the top of the ridge where our historic village of Conaroga, New York perched, I stopped for a minute to enjoy the view. Rolling hills swelled in the distance, coated green with winter wheat. I wanted to stay put and soak it all in, but Siegfried was rapidly disappearing into the crowded street. With his blond ponytail swaying behind him, his long legs ate up the ground. I hurried after him. “Hey, buddy. What’s going on?” I wasn’t sure why our trip to the bookstore warranted such an effort.
He frowned, walking faster. “Ja.”
What kind of an answer was that? Had he even heard me? “Sig? You okay?”
I loped for a few paces and caught up with him. Rushing along the sidewalk in front of Victorian homes with deep porches and brightly-colored gables, we finally reached the commercial part of the village, jogging side by side past quaint shop windows offering flowers, travel dreams, gourmet pizza, and works of art. A bus belched smoke and rumbled past us, its gears grinding. The advertisement on its broad side read, “Got Milk?” Beneath the text, a smiling actress wore a milk mustache. I glanced down at my black tee shirt. The slogan, “Got Opera?” had produced a few confused grins from customers at
the diner, where Siegfried and I enjoyed our breakfast. “Hey, what’s the hurry, big fella?”
Siegfried didn’t answer. I wasn’t sure why he seemed so distracted, but I responded when he motioned for me to quicken my pace because over the years, I’d learned to trust his sixth sense and recognized something in his expression that spelled danger. We crossed the street, almost at a run now. Siegfried frowned at something on the other side of the road. I followed his line of sight and realized he wasn’t headed for the bookstore, but for Thom Kim’s tailor shop.
Siegfried had been doing a lot of business there lately. A man of his height required the help of a tailor from time to time, but he’d found dozens of excuses for alterations in the past few months. A loose button here, a burst seam there. He’d been visiting the shop almost twice a week, and I wondered why. “Why are we hurrying?” I asked again.
He burst into a sprint, shouting now. “Look!” He lunged ahead of me, his sea blue eyes trained on the top floor of the building. I smelled it before I saw it, then looked up. Smoke...
A scream erupted farther down the hall. Lily. “Get her!”
I shouted over my shoulder, stumbling toward Thom.
Siegfried quickly ducked into the smoke, following the direction of her cries...

Lady Blues:

By Aaron Paul Lazar

From the front cover to the end of the book, I loved everything about Lady Blues! When I read Aaron's latest book, Murder on the Brewster Flats, earlier this month, I was pleasantly surprised that one of the main characters had been married--and I didn't know it! Well, that set me on the search where I found a Gus LeGarde Mystery which I had not read! Wow, am I'm so glad I caught my omission. Because Lady Blues became a personal favorite for me...

Gus LeGarde is a professional musician and teaches at a local college, so his books are always filled with music, which as you all know, I really enjoy exploring (please see next post for all music pieces included). But it was the two main mysteries that I was enthralled with--Gus had befriended a man in a local residence for older people:  What had happened to the woman his new friend kept asking for... and What had happened to the patients as a result of new medicine...

On the other hand, an unusual mystery came with a young woman who whom Gus and his family gave shelter when the tailor shop in which she worked with her brother caught on fire! The question was--why was Lily's back full of both old and new marks of abuse? A not-surprising answer to this but sad..

Whenever he could make it, Gus played for Sunday morning services for residents at a senior citizen's home. One man was known as "the piano man" since he could not tell him his name. But, amazingly, with Gus's bringing music to the home that day, Gus was able to bring out the older man and begin a conversation. Gus knew that he would come back to visit. As time went by, Gus was given a name and then in a somewhat mixed-up question asked--Do you know her? Although all personal memories had been taken, he was able to remember the lady he loved...

But as Gus continued to visit, he noticed that the man was becoming more verbal, more communicative--and learned from his nurse that many of the patients were improving and regaining their memories! Until they again lost them...

How I wish that the main issue of the medication being given to patients could have been true. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a new medication allowed patients who had lost their memories, to be able to regain them?! It was in this part of the book that the danger and suspense grew as the families and staff began to question just what was happening to the patients. 

Lazar weaves magic into his books...readers feel refreshed and vibrant as they leave from their visit to the LeGarde home, where the food is plentiful, mostly homegrown, and friends are welcomed for Sunday dinner when Gus takes over as chef... And it was so gratifying for those who have come to care about Siegfried to watch as he falls in love and looks toward a future of his own with a loved one...after so very long!

And Lady Blues? This mystery had a wonderful closing! I can't wait to have you read it and love it as I did! Go on...check it out right now!


Aaron Paul Lazar is obsessed with writing. He's completed twenty-seven books to date, and has earned twenty literary book awards. He writes mysteries, suspense, love stories, and more. You'll usually find him writing his heart out in the early hours of the day - preferably in the dark, quiet hours when no one else is awake in his bustling household. Visit his website at to sign up for a free book and to learn about future deals.

Aaron Paul Lazar wasn't always a mystery writer. It wasn't until eight members of his family and friends died within five years that the urge to write became overwhelming. "When my father died, I lost it. I needed an outlet, and writing provided the kind of solace I couldn't find elsewhere."

Lazar created the Gus LeGarde mystery series, with the founding novel, DOUBLE FORTÉ, a chilling winter mystery set in the Genesee Valley of upstate New York. Like Lazar's father, protagonist Gus LeGarde is a classical music professor. Gus, a grandfather, gardener, chef, and nature lover, plays Chopin etudes to feed his soul and thinks of himself as a "Renaissance man caught in the 21st century." There are twelve books to date in this series.

The creation of the series lent Lazar the comfort he sought, yet in the process, a new passion was unleashed. Obsessed with his parallel universe, he now lives, breathes, and dreams about his characters, and has written eleven LeGarde mysteries in addition to four other series.

One day while rototilling his gardens, Lazar unearthed a green cat's eye marble, which prompted the paranormal mystery series featuring Sam Moore, retired country doctor and passionate gardener. The green marble, a powerful talisman, connects all three of the books in the series, whisking Sam back in time to uncover his brother's dreadful fate fifty years earlier. (THE DISAPPEARANCE OF BILLY MOORE, TERROR COMES KNOCKING, and FOR KEEPS)

Lazar's books feature breathless chase scenes, nasty villains, and taut suspense, but are also intensely human stories, replete with kids, dogs, horses, food, romance, and humor. The author calls them, "country mysteries," although reviewers have dubbed them "literary mysteries."

"It seems as though every image ever impressed upon my brain finds its way into my work. Whether it's the light dancing through stained-glass windows in a Parisian chapel, curly slate-green lichen covering a boulder at the edge of a pond in Maine, or hoarfrost dangling from a cherry tree branch in mid-winter, these images burrow into my memory cells. In time they bubble back, persistently itching, until they are poured out on the page."

In 2009, Kodak laid him off after 28 years of service, and during the year he had off (before he landed in his job with KB America) he had time to explore and reconnect with his environment. Little did he know that several trips to the Adirondack Mountains would reawaken his passion for that part of the country. A new romantic mystery series was started entitled Tall Pines Mysteries: FOR THE BIRDS, ESSENTIALLY YOURS, SANCTUARY, and BETRAYAL.

In between all the novels, Lazar published three short writing guides based on his many years of writing advice blogs, entitled WRITE LIKE THE WIND, volumes 1-3. These are available in eBook and audio book formats.

In his twenty-first book, Lazar has jumped genre. THE SEACREST: a love story, now winner of many literary awards, is poised to capture hearts across the globe. Book 1 in the Paines Creek Beach novels (set on Cape Cod), this also launched a series, and is followed by THE SEACROFT and THE SEADOG.

When the news was filled with stories about the girls captured for ten years by that monster in Cleveland (you know who he was...), Lazar was compelled to write a book to honor the women involved. Thus was born the Bittersweet Hollow romantic suspense series, featuring award-winning DEVIL'S LAKE, DEVIL'S CREEK, and DEVIL'S SPRING.

The author lives on a ridge overlooking the Genesee Valley in upstate New York with his wife, daughter Allison, two little grandsons, two dogs, and four cats. With a total of six grandkids now, he finds grandfathering to be one of the most precious and important times of life, and spends as much time as possible with Julian, Gordon, Isabella, Christopher, Luke, and Joey.

Lazar has been featured in many magazines and newspapers and has given dozens of radio interviews over the years. You can keep up with him here:

Contact him at

Summary of series:

LEGARDE MYSTERIES (country mysteries set in the Finger Lakes)

GREEN MARBLE MYSTERIES (mysteries with time travel and a ghost)

TALL PINES MYSTERIES (sensual women’s mysteries set in the Adirondacks)

PAINES CREEK BEACH SERIES (love stories by the sea)

BITTERSWEET HOLLOW SERIES (romantic suspense involving kidnapping)




PAINES CREEK BEACH, love stories

BITTERSWEET HOLLOW, romantic suspense



Devil’s Lake
• 2015 Finalist Readers’ Favorites Awards
• 2015 Semi-finalist in Kindle Book Review Awards

The Seacrest
• 2015 Semi-finalist in Kindle Book Review Awards
• 2014 Best Beach Book Festival WINNER, Romance category
• 2013 ForeWord Book Awards, Romance, FINALIST

The Seadog
• 2016 Best Indie Book Awards, Romance, WINNER

Double Forté
• 2012 ForeWord BOTYA, Mystery, FINALIST

Tremolo: cry of the loon –
• 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Grand Prize Short List
• 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Honorable Mention, Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction
• 2011 Global eBook Award Finalist in Historical Fiction Contemporary
• 2011 Preditors & Editors Readers Choice Award – 2nd place Mystery
• 2008 Yolanda Renée's Top Ten Books
• 2008 MYSHELF Top Ten Reads

For the Birds
• 2011 ForeWord Book Awards, FINALIST in Mystery
• 2012 Carolyn Howard-Johnson's Top 10 Reads

Essentially Yours
• 2013 EPIC Book Awards, FINALIST in Suspense
• 2013 Eric Hoffer Da Vinci Eye Award Finalist

The Disappearance of Billy Moore (formerly titled Healey’s Cave)
• 2012 EPIC Book Awards WINNER Best Paranormal
• 2011 Eric Hoffer Book Award, WINNER Best Book in Commercial Fiction
• 2011 Finalist for Allbooks Review Editor's Choice
• 2011 Winner of Carolyn Howard Johnson's 9th Annual Noble (not Nobel!) Prize for Literature
• 2011 Finalists for Global EBook Awards

Terror Comes Knocking
• 2013 Global Ebook Awards, Paranormal – Bronze

For Keeps
• 2013 Semi Finalist in Kindle Book Review Book Awards, Mystery Category

Spirit Me Away
• 2014 AuthorsdB book cover contest, Silver medal.

Under the Ice
• 2015 AuthorsdB “Bronze” Cover Award

The Music From - Lady Blues:Forget Me Not (and Intro excerpt) by Aaron Lazar

I strolled along Main Street with Siegfried, my best friend and brother-in-law, unable to shake the song repeating in my head. I’d played it for my Opera 101 class yesterday at school, and since then, kept hearing Marcelo Alvarez singing “Che gelida manina,” from La Boheme.

He spoke rapidly; apparently afraid I might back out if he didn’t agree. “Oh, yes. Of course. ‘Rock of Ages.’ ‘Morning Has Broken.’ ‘Amazing Grace.’ The old standbys.

I listened to Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” on the way home. I’d been immersed in jazz for the past month, savoring the minor tunes and enticing beats in preparation for my new book. The exotic rhythms of “Caravan” brought to mind a camel caravan weaving over the dunes in the hot desert. Beads clacking, saddles swaying, and gritty sand in the eyes. The intoxicating imagery provided an interesting backdrop to my musings about the music man’s past.

She pushed her long hair aside and flipped the sheet music to show me the cover. “I found this on the bench over there. It’s called ‘Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.’ Do you know it?” “Do I know it?” I laughed. “It’s one of my favorites. Ella made this one famous.” I’d been playing Ella Fitzgerald’s CD for the past few weeks, preparing for my new book. “Ella?” she asked.

I stood and grabbed the CD I needed for the one o’clock class on American Composers. Today we would examine current day musicians, including a local genius I’d come to admire, Paul Oney Stuart. After attending an opera he composed, “The Sisters of Manzanar,” I’d been hooked.

I stopped and looked at her, puzzled. The urgency of the request seemed odd, especially since he’d been in homes since 1944. I wondered if he’d studied jazz, and immediately thought of the famous interlude in Dizzy Gillepsie’s “A Night in Tunisia.”

Eddie, Justin, and Reggie slouched and rolled their eyes every time I extolled the glory of Paul Stuart’s opera, Kill Bear Comes Home. The projected image on the wall, courtesy of a data show, revealed Stuart’s CD cover art, a gorgeous drawing of a young woman wearing thefeathery wings of a bird, and a hat with a prominent black beak. We listened to the last track of the CD, the Finale, entitled “Let him roam again.” The music, with its strong Native American elements, soothed and excited simultaneously. This was the third Stuart opera we’d studied in the American Composers class. If all went well, Mr. Stuart would appear next week to talk about his work. I wanted the class to be well prepared, and had worked them hard.

My brain drove me crazy. I told myself to stop worrying, realizing I’d probably find him in one of the common areas. I backtracked and headed for the sunroom. Several people leaned in the doorway, and the sound of singing burst through the air. Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me. Anyone else but me, anyone else but me. Voices rang out, not necessarily in tune, and someone plunked at the piano with great vigor. I squeezed past the three nursing assistants who leaned into the doorway and found a crowd gathered around the old spinet piano.

“Gus!” Kip called. “Come sit with me.” I slid onto the piano bench beside him. “Hey, Kip.” He started to play a left-handed boogie beat. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s jam.” Momentarily taken aback, I hesitated. Jamming wasn’t exactly my forté, although I’d dabbled in blues a few years back.

Don’t know why There’s no sun up in the sky Stormy weather. I slid over to allow him full range of the keyboard. I waited, while Debbie passed out little paper cups with big pink pills in them. Memorphyl.

Ella Fitzgerald, The Intimate Ella. The first track, Black Coffee, poured from the speakers. I sank into the seat. The music soothed me, healing my frayed nerves. I couldn’t help but think of Bella, and suddenly remembered the CDs I’d bought.

Do you enjoy music as an integral part of a novel?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Adolph Caso Presents The Sermon

The Sermon

By Adolph Caso

Under the control of Spina bifida,
His voice strong, multi directional,
And, aimed at every individual in his church,
Biju, (as he was named)
Was born with the deteriorating disease
That plagues everyone,
Including, Biju.

From visits to doctors and hospitals,
He received no reprieve;
He also sought the intervention of God--
Multiple times,
All in vain.
At wit’s end,
With God not responding,
He lashed out in despair:
God protected others and not him!

Why was God not listening, while being open to others?
He complained.
“I need help, and you are denying it to me!”
He yelled in despair.
His joints full of pain,
He admitted that
He came close to denying God’s divinity
Let alone his existence.
“Why should you doom me as such--
To walk as I walk,
When others walk with no pain,
And no waddling?”

Having reached the conclusion
Of giving up on God
And of divesting himself of his religion,
He made a second attempt.

“Could it be:
“I am asking the wrong question?”
He asked himself.

“Should I beseech God for favors,
“As I do in each prayer?
“Is God the conduit to good or bad health?
“Is God the vehicle in denying or fulfilling personal dreams?
“Is God the replacement for doctors without cures?”
“Is God’s role to re-route Nature’s laws--
“Including Destiny?”
“No!,” he concluded.
“No, no, no!”
His heart relieved,
He stopped to reflect:
“Do I ask Caesar to give me
Things which he does not possess,
Or able to grant…?"

After a few reflective seconds,
He admitted to the possibility that
He was asking the wrong questions.
With that realization,
He donned his priestly cloth--
As a better shepherd,
And marched with full confidence,
Strait away to the church—

Enlightened as never before,
His pains notwithstanding,
First he genuflected.
The large consecrated host firmly in hands,
He raised his arms high above his shoulders
In the direction of Heaven,
Where he held it for many seconds
Defying  both
His veritable Spina bifida
Gravity itself.

I always wait until I am working on
Adolfo's poetry to add to it...
Most songs seem to come to me
But the last one I had never heard before...
Adolfo, I believe your words brought it...
God Bless you and your powerful words!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Guest Blogger, Berit Brogaard, Writes About "What Drives Romantic Attraction" From Latest Book, On Romantic Love

“Brit” is a Professor of Philosophy with joint appointments in the Departments of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Miami as well as the Network for Sensory Research at the University of Toronto. Her educational background includes a medical degree in neuroscience and a doctorate in philosophy. Her areas of research include perception, synesthesia, blindsight, consciousness, neuro-psychiatry and emotions.
Brit has written over 75 peer-reviewed articles, some three hundred popular articles on neuroscience and health issues and two books: Transient Truths (Oxford) and On Romantic Love (Oxford). She is currently finishing a third book with Oxford entitled Seeing and Saying as well as working on another book for popular press.
Her work has been featured in various public media, including Nightline, ABC News, the Huffington Post, Fox News, MSNBC, Daily Mail, Modesto Bee, and Mumbai Mirror. She is also an editor of the international peer-reviewed philosophy journal Erkenntnis and was the first female President of the Central States Philosophical Association. Brit has fear-color/texture/shape/motion synesthesia. She has recently co-authored a book with Kristian Marlow, The Superhuman Mind, based in part on research at the lab.

On Romantic Love  
By Berit Brogaard

Romantic love presents some of life's most challenging questions. Can we choose who to love? Is romantic love rational? Can we love more than one person at a time? And can we make ourselves fall out of love? Berit Brogaard here attempts to get to the bottom of love's many contradictions. This short book, informed by both historical and cutting-edge philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience, combines a new theory of romantic love with entertaining anecdotes from real life and accessible explanations of the neuroscience underlying our wildest passions. Against the grain, Brogaard argues that love is an emotion; that it can be, at turns, both rational and irrational; and that it can be manifested in degrees. We can love one person more than another and we can love a person a little or a lot or not at all. And love isn't even always something we consciously feel. However, love -- like other emotions, both conscious and not -- is subject to rational control, and falling in or out of it can be a deliberate choice. This engaging and innovative look at a universal topic, featuring original line drawings by illustrator Gareth Southwell, lluminates the processes behind heartbreak, obsession, jealousy, attachment, and more.  

What Drives Romantic Attraction?

Here's a dream scenario: No more awkward first dates. If you are single and hoping not to be, you can fill out a detailed questionnaire and submit the information to a database containing similar information from other relationship seekers. A computational algorithm then determines how well you match with others in terms of your personality  and what you are looking for in a potential partner. Once you have been matched with another person, all you need to do is arrange a date and go from there.
If this scenario sounds familiar, that's no coincidence: Many online dating sites provide at least some primitive version of the above scenario. People seeking relationships supply first-person insight into their personality and what they are seeking in a partner. They are then matched on the basis of this self-reported data.
As anecdotal evidence suggests, this approach can be successful. People do, occasionally, find love using online dating services.
However, the success of such services is unlikely to be a result of algorithms calculating who will be a good match for each other based on self-reports. In a recent study, published in Psychological Science in August 2017, scientists tested this sort of approach to dating and found that self-reports of personality from potential partners do not predict attraction.
The team, led by psychologist Samantha Joel of the University of Utah, asked volunteers to fill out questionnaires about their own personality traits and the traits they would like in a potential partner. The researchers then arranged four-minute, face-to-face speed dates and collected subsequent feedback about how attracted people were to their predicted matches during these brief encounters.
The researchers found that people were no more likely to be attracted to predetermined matches than they were to non-matches. 
The study methodology had well-known limitations: It only allowed for testing of initial attraction, not an attraction that may emerge from repeated encounters. Further, it followed the existing online dating strategy of relying on self-reports to determine personality and the traits one would like to see manifested in a potential partner. The first limitation is not necessarily a methodological flaw, as long as we draw a sharp line between initial attraction and longer-term attraction/romantic love. The second, however, is problematic. We are often very bad judges of our own personality and the traits we want others to possess. This limitation could have been avoided to some extent by using more sophisticated measures of personality and partner preference; for instance, by relying on third-person perspectives from family members, co-workers, and friends.
If this common dating approach fails, however, it raises the question of whether there might be other ways to predict who may be successful romantic partners. Information about personality by itself is unlikely to help predict good long-term matches. But a combination of feature-matching and behavioral modification—that is, teaching people how to remain attractive to as well as attracted to their partners—may hold some promise. 
Independent studies have found that long-term attraction and romantic love are more likely to occur when the attributes that generate attraction in general, together with certain social factors and circumstances that spark passion, are particularly strong.
Here are 11 features that together provide a decent indicator of who you will click with over the long term (Aron, et al. 1989):
1. Similarity. The similarity of people’s belief sets and, to a lesser extent, the similarity of their personality traits and ways of thinking.
2. Propinquity. Familiarity with the other, which can be caused by spending time together, living near the other, thinking about the other, or anticipating interaction with the other.
3. Desirable Characteristics. Outer physical appearance that is found desirable and, to a lesser extent, desirable personality traits.
4. Reciprocal Liking. When the other person is attracted to you or likes you, that can increase your own liking.
5. Social Influences. The potential union satisfying general social norms, and acceptance of the potential union within one’s social network, can contribute to people falling in love. Or, if a union does not satisfy general social norms or is not accepted by one’s social network, this can result in people falling out of love.
6. Filling Needs. If a person can fulfill needs for companionship, love, sex, or mating, there is a greater chance that the other person will fall in love with him or her.
7. Arousal/Unusualness. Being in an unusual or arousing environment can spark passion, even if the environment is perceived as dangerous or spooky (Dutton & Aron, 1974).
8. Specific Cues. A particular feature of the other may spark a particularly strong attraction; for instance, parts of their body or facial features.
9. Readiness. The more you want to be in a relationship, the lower your self-esteem and the more likely you are to fall in love.
10. Isolation. Spending time alone with another person can contribute to a development of passion.
11. Mystery. Some degree of mystery surrounding the other person, as well as uncertainty about what the other person thinks or feels, or when he or she may initiate contact, can also contribute to passion.
As the list makes clear, many of the factors that determine whether people should connect romantically are circumstantial or a result of how people behave in courtships and relationships. While it may be possible for modern technology to determine partner matches by relying not just on personality, but also on people's particular circumstances, no such algorithm can provide us with the skills necessary to maintain a relationship that is both healthy and exciting. These types of relationship skills may need to be acquired through long-term practice and training.

Aron A, Dutton DG, Aron, EN, Iverson, A. (1989) “Experiences of Falling in Love”, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships August 6, 3: 243-257. 
Dutton, D.G., & Aron, A.P. (1974). “Some Evidence for Heightened Sexual Attraction Under Conditions of High Anxiety”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30 (4), 510-517. 
Joel S, Eastwick, P, Finkel, E. "Is Romantic Desire Predictable? Machine Learning Applied to Initial Romantic Attraction," Psychological Science. Published online August 30, 2017.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

EXCLUSIVE! P-Review of ICE! Best-Selling Author Lauren Carr Takes High Dive into Cold Case Mysteries!

Did Alison’s mom give you a ride?” 
“Yeah,” Katelyn murmured. She glanced in his direction. Concluding that there had been a development in an ongoing drama, the center of which being a thirteen-year-old boy named Zack Daniels, Chris opted to say nothing. 
She watched his back while he poured a glass of milk to go with his brownie. Katelyn had inherited his fair coloring— from his steel gray eyes to his light auburn hair. Chris had been in his mid-twenties when his hair gradually turned silver at the temples. By the age of forty-five, his hair was an equal mixture of silver and brown curls. While he drank his glass of milk, Chris saw Katelyn’s eyes darting from the tablet to the cupboard behind him and across the room. She couldn’t look him in the eye. 
“What’s wrong?” 
“Nothing.” She bit into her brownie and squinted at the screen on her tablet. 
“What happened at school today?” 
“Nothing happened.” 
Chris let out a deep sigh. “How’s Zack?” Katelyn swallowed and set down the tablet. 
“What happened with Tara?” 
“She’s a bitch,” Katelyn said. “That’s what happened.” 
Chris tried not to roll his eyes over yet another drama between Katelyn and her arch rival, Tara. The war had been ongoing since October. Both eighth graders were pursuing the same boy. Bouncing between the two of them like a tennis ball, Zack enjoyed the attention of two girls fighting over him way too much. The boy wasn’t worthy of either of them.
“What’d Tara do this time?” Chris asked with a heavy sigh before taking another sip of his milk. 
“She told everyone that you’re a perv.” This got Chris’s full attention. “She said you raped a teenage girl when you were in college and got her pregnant. Then you killed her and that’s why you ran away to join the FBI.” 
“What the—” 
“It was some girl named Sandy.” Chris felt as if his soul had been ripped out of his body to take him back to another time and place—to when the nightmare had begun. 
Sensing that something was up, Sadie and Mocha stopped surveilling a family of squirrels invading the bird feeders to turn their attention to the scene brewing in the kitchen. Their eyes were wide like orbs. Thor was more interested in the carrot that Emma had given her before racing to the study to email her friends. 
“It’s not true. Right, Dad?” 
“What’s Tara’s last name?” Chris asked in a soft voice. “Sinclair,” Katelyn said. “Her mom is some big wig on the county commission. Her dad is—” 
“Victor Sinclair,” Chris said. “He’s the county prosecutor.
I know. I know them all very well.” 
“You didn’t do what they say you did, did you, Dad?” Katelyn stared up at him. 
“No!” Chris slammed the glass down so hard onto the counter that the milk inside splashed over the rim. “How can you even ask me that? You know me. You’ve seen me with your friends. What makes you think I’d take advantage of a young girl like that?” 
Katelyn’s eyes were wide with fear. 
“Do you really think that I’m that warped?” Chris demanded an answer. She sobbed. 
The sight of her tears broke Chris’s heart. “I’m sorry.” He went around the counter to take her into his arms. Refusing to let him touch her, she raced up the back staircase to her bedroom. She had the last word in the conversation with the slam of her door. 
Grief, frustration, and anger from the last twenty months built up inside him. If he didn’t do something, he would explode. Desperate for some way to release the pressure, he turned around in circles.
With a deep roar, Chris grabbed his glass of milk and hurled it at the wall. The glass shattered. Milk splattered all over the floor much to Sadie’s and Mocha’s delight.


A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery 

Book 1

By Lauren Carr

Starting a book that is the first in a series is an exciting opportunity for me, especially with author Lauren Carr. First, she introduces all of her characters first thing and gives a short description. We know, as her fans, there will always be animals, and a solid family environment setting. I've read most of all of her series, but this one is totally new! Meet Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who has come back to live with his mother on their home place after the sudden death of his father...

The wife and mother of his three children was killed in a terrorist attack. Chris' mother is unique as a woman and mother, as well as grandmother, and has the guts and stamina of someone with whom most readers will immediately bond and enjoy getting to know.

Chris is somewhat unsettled as the book begins, especially when his daughter comes home from school with the gossip that he had once raped a teenager and killed her! Instantly I was sympathetic to this new series lead. Gossip and lies are so destructive, but when a murder of a former friend which has haunted Chris for years suddenly comes alive again, it overwhelmed him. Even knowing that the FBI had cleared him years ago or he would never have been accepted as an agent, he became enraged when he realized that those in his home town still consideres him guilty of rape and murder.

Chris had felt sorry for Sandy Lipton. She apparently didn't date much so when she asked him to take her to senior prom, he hesitantly agreed. After the dance, he quickly delivered her back to her door... The sad part of this story is that Sandy had built up a fantasy of Chris as more than a friend and everybody knew it...

Soon it was discovered that she had become pregnant, actually, raped, while Chris had proceeded on to Quantico to begin training. Until his father notified him that he had been slapped with a paternity suit. But Sandy and the baby of her being raped had soon disappeared...

Worrying about her son being able to get back into community life, his mother suggested that Chris join a local book club, mostly made up of retired law enforcement investigators, who enjoyed reading murder mystery and thrillers. Elliott, who had a personal interest in Chris' mother, soon invited Chris to join...

But neither Chris, nor his mother, actually knew what this group was doing! From the moment I met these characters, I found myself considering that I was now a part of... The... Geezer... Squad... I was hooked!

Then I fell in love when I met Sterling! Chris had been devastated by the loss of his father...and also Winston, his canine companion...over a short time period. The daily interaction with a dog had been an important part of his life... And so the family helped to fill that loss by bringing Sterling into the family. The only thing they were told about Sterling was that he could be goofy... 

What?! Chris immediately wanted to know... Sterling is also a retired law officer but somewhere along the line I figure he either learned a lot of human characteristics from his former handler who was shot, as was Sterling. His handler had died... Or....Sterling could understand humans... I'm still not sure which... But his scenes are hilarious and will have you laughing in surprise, especially when some are done behind Chris' back
without his even knowing what Sterling is up to. Here's a silly hint about one heart-warming scene where Sterling decides to help a couple who were discussing their great need for money! Sterling just may be heading for my top-dog winner in Carr's books for me! Simply... unbelievable!

The number of criminal acts in this book is high, but they are spread across cold cases and deaths that are occurring in the present. Chris' own cold case becomes a priority for the Geezer Squad when Chris shared his own story. The group had already been working on an assumed serial killer case which they'd been investigating and to which the numbers attributed to this individual was increasing. What they didn't expect was that the same MO for those cold cases would be turning up on recent murders!

Multiple cases, multiple villains, and a mighty geezer squad to help gather information for the police and the FBI! Carr continues to up the stakes when you read her books. With this book and the number of bodies involved, I didn't even try to determine whodunit! This first in series has set the framework for a wide diversity of future novels. I'm already anxious to move on to the next and this one is not even out!

Preorder Your Copy Today!

Lauren Carr's New Release & a New Series!
​Coming February 26, 2018

Carr's ability to successfully integrate amazing characters into a solid family and community environment of loving individuals is truly amazing. The unique touches for each character, including the animals, reveals a loving, caring writer that works to ensure her readers are pleased with the world in which they have entered, and when finished, wanting more! 

At this point, I'm predicting the cold case mysteries will become my favorite of her books--Can you believe it, given the praise I've shared for all of her previous books!?! I'm a fan that continues to be joyfully surprised at each book and anxious to grab the next...There are only a few authors demanding this kind of attention from me. Lauren Carr is a must-read author. Start with this book if you, by chance, have not yet read this fantastic, best-selling mystery writer. And here's a personal recommendation from me, her books are continually reasonably priced and within reach of most readers of all ages... I appreciate that!

'Nuf said... Now's the time to pre-order!


An Amazon All-Star Author, Lauren Carr writes mysteries that have made Amazon's best-selling ranks internationally. 
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!
Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement investigators to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor. 
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.