Captain’s Sortie

Mike will give a digital copy of Captain’s Cross to one randomly drawn winner.

Title: Captain’s Sortie

Deland Sea And Land Adventure Novel Book 2

ISBN: 978-1-62420-300-8

Author: Mike Fuller

Genre: Historical, Action, Adventure

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 2

Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


Captain Ben Deland sails north from the Caribbean to join the English and provincial forces moving to stop the French from control of the frontier. But Ben becomes the only hope for the rescue of loved ones snatched by Indian and French raiders.


The American colonial frontier is at war and stained in the blood of farmer and soldier alike. French generals have filled the land with armies of white uniformed troops and their north woods Indian allies. No one is safe from the perils of this conflict that seems to have no end. Captain Ben Deland sails north from the warm Caribbean with more than one mission to accomplish. The war is not going well for the British and Americans in the late winter of 1758 and Ben once again must lead his loyal crew ashore and into the dangerous forests and mountains to face the French and Indians.

But the British have undertaken a great task to stop the French from overwhelming the Hudson and splitting the colonies in two. Captain Deland is drawn to their aid and then has to launch a desperate rescue into the dangerous wilderness filled with enemies to find the victims of the war raging all around them.

Sea and shore action and adventure told through the stories of the men and women who face overwhelming obstacles and evil characters. Real history mixed with rich descriptive portrayals of nature and man set in the violence and uncertainty of war on the colonial frontier. Another thrilling novel from the author of Captain’s Cross.


Thomas had done the same thing when he was younger. He lay next to Paul just behind a moss-covered log. He could see Paul’s hand quiver just a little as the boy cocked the hammer of his short rifle. Thomas had been surprised and a bit overwhelmed when Ben presented an almost identical rifle to him years ago. Thomas had since outgrown it and now had his own full sized long rifle. So, it was his turn to pass along to Paul the knowledge of the mountains as Ben had done to him before.

“Just where the shoulder rounds over the front leg,” Thomas whispered. The shot would drop a little over the distance and put the ball in the vital spot of the doe whitetail on the opposite bank across the stream. “Take a breath and let part of it out. Just touch the trigger, don’t pull it…”

The little rifle roared and through the smoke Thomas could see the doe crumple to the ground. Paul tried to see where the deer had gone and rose up on his knee to look over the smoke. As he started to move over the log, Thomas reached out and put a firm hand on Paul’s shirt.

“What did you forget?” Thomas had heard the same thing from Ben in the past.

Paul looked at Thomas for a moment and then frowned. “Yes, Sir, to reload.” Paul stood and began the process of powder and ball, finishing with priming the pan of the flintlock. It took longer than Thomas would like, but the lad was still learning.

The meat from the doe would fill out the load on their pack horses and send them back to the smoke camp. Paul was out with Thomas on this trip. Paul had been sent out with several members of the crew, each adding their own woods wisdom to his education. The summer was full and they had to be careful where they stepped as they moved through the thick forest. There were other hunters in the warm woods now and some of them had very poisonous fangs.

Ben was less than a mile north of them and leading the mare and his pack horse down a ridge following an Indian trail too narrow and overgrown to ride atop the mare. Horses were sometimes more of a burden in the thick woods and Ben decided he would leave the mare behind next trip and only walk with the pack horse.

The warm southerly wind carried the sound of the gunshot to him and he stopped for a moment trying to place the direction of the sound. He listened for any follow on shots, but none came. The meat they brought in was feeding boat builders and soldiers south of them at the head of the Mohawk. They would have to move soon. The army was loading the boats on wagons and going to the west. Another part of the war was off to the northeast. The French and the British fought over the lakes and forts there without much progress for several years. The farmers on the frontier suffered the most though. Raids from the north continued with bloody results. The French relied upon their Indian allies and did little to hold back their murder and torture. Thomas had lost his family to it.

Ben kept moving. He likely would cross with the shooters when they got closer to the smoke camp. The summer heat meant that they had to turn around their hunts quickly lest the meat spoil. It was good they were moving west again to new hunting territory. They would have to venture farther every day that they took game around the camp.

Just the smallest bit of red color in the distance ahead brought Ben to his knee and the long rifle up and aimed at the spot. He dropped the leather rein to the mare and slipped sideways into the thicker brush aside the narrow trail. It would hurt his soul if the mare took a ball meant for him, but that may have to be. With skill refined to the highest level over twenty years in the woods, he moved toward the swatch of color angling out away from the horses.

The red swatch was joined by another of a less bright hue and another of gray feather. The top dressings of northern woods Indians. He counted three, but knew more could be just behind these three. It would come to confrontation soon. They had not seen the mare and pack horse yet, but in only a few more steps…


~ * ~


Draco had the scent. The wolf dog appeared just as Paul was tying off the meat on the pack horse and circled the small piece of forest the two men and four horses occupied. Thomas stopped his digging at the front foot of the gelding and let the hoof drop back to the ground to watch the dog.

“Something’s wrong,” was all that Thomas said before he mounted and slipped the buckskin cover from his short rifle. He tapped the gelding’s sides with his moccasins and the horse was gone into the trees in only a moment behind the dog. Paul was confused, but regained his thoughts and gathered the leads of the pack horses and once on his own horse, set off after Thomas.

Thomas hadn’t gone far to the north when he pulled the gelding to a standstill. Draco was walking with his nose to the ground and the gray and black hair standing almost straight up on his back. Dismounting and loosely tying the horse to a sapling, Thomas followed on foot. Each step was thought out. It slowed him, but he knew silence was putting favor to his cause. He still carried the short rifle. He lost little in range and nothing in caliber with the smaller weapon. In the thick woods, he was satisfied his first rifle served him well. A turned leaf, an oak dropped this spring after the winter, showed the wetness from its underside where a careless foot pulled it over revealing passage. Thomas examined the forest floor and was able now to see the slightest trace of a game trail. Another leaf and a thin branch pulled forward then caught in the crook of another betrayed more of the man or men that had moved through. Not many White men would leave so little of a path behind. These were woodsmen, White or no.

Thomas scarcely breathed and within a few more steps saw Draco down on his belly and pointing his nose straight ahead. Only the soft swish the small breeze made as it passed through the upper leaves added to the stillness. Not a bird sound. Something or someone, more likely, was just beyond the pines blocking the way. Thomas tried to will his eyes to see through them, but it would not be.

It happened together. Paul crashed ahead through the trees from behind leading the horses atop his own and Draco lunged just as an Indian showed himself through the pine boughs and fired his musket past Thomas’s head toward Paul. The Indian died only a second later and Thomas hesitated deciding if he was to reload the rifle or go after Draco with his pistol and sword.

The sound of the dog roaring, as only Draco could do, within the pines and Paul hitting the ground with a cry of pain gave Thomas no choice. He spun and covered the distance to Paul and as he got close enough to see the boy awash in blood, he heard a gunshot then another from the pines. Thomas grabbed Paul’s collar and drug him back behind the horses scooping up Paul’s short rifle as he passed. A thick beech sheltered him as he put his body between Paul and the pines and began to reload his own rifle.

“Where?” he whispered to Paul. He heard no answer and did not dare take his eyes from the place the Indian had emerged. Thomas nudged Paul’s shoulder and said again, “Where?”

“In the pine trees, Thomas. The Indians are…” Paul coughed and went silent. Thomas meant to learn of Paul’s wound, but the boy went past that to the threat before them.

Thomas had his rifle reloaded and judged the distance to the long rifle in the scabbard on the gelding behind them. With both short rifles, his pistol and his long rifle, he could answer well for them. But then he had Paul to deal with. He took time to look down at the boy curled up beneath him in the lee of the beech. There was a lot of blood on the boy’s summer shirt. Most of it was near his waist and on the right side.

“I know where they are. Are you still with me, Paul?” Thomas again whispered.

“It hurts, Tom. So bad. My side hurts.”

The Abeneki was only about Thomas’ age and had a war club in his hand as he burst from the trees toward them. Thomas was looking down at Paul and could not see the look of pure and concentrated rage in the Indian’s eyes. The sound of the Indian’s buckskins against the pine boughs is what drug Thomas back into the fight, but it was too late to bring the short rifle to bear. Thomas was knocked backward and was underneath the warrior before he could even begin to defend himself.

The Indian swung the club down and caught the flinching Thomas with a glancing blow to the side of his head. Thomas felt the strike, but it didn’t hurt. He was too full of fight himself by then and the Indian was launched up and over Thomas, the club falling away. The warrior was well trained and rolled to his feet with a rather substantial trader’s knife in his hand. Thomas reached for the pistol in his belt, but it was gone and he didn’t bother searching for it, instead coming to his feet with the short sword in his hand.

More snarling dog sounds came from behind, but Thomas was otherwise occupied at the moment. The Abeneki did not know that Thomas’ family had been butchered by Abeneki raiders when Thomas was only thirteen. It may have not made a difference, but it did to Thomas. With a fierceness that overwhelmed the Indian, Thomas charged and swung the sword at the very last moment. The Indian died as his body hit the ground, the sword finding the heart of the attacker and ending the fight.

Thomas dove back to Paul and scooped up his rifle, ready for the next threat. But only a bloody faced Draco appeared followed a moment later by Ben and three Mohawk warriors.

Two Trees


Julie will give a digital copy of Two Trees to one randomly drawn commenter.

Title: Two Trees

ISBN: Ebook 978-1-62420-326-8

Print     978-1546754114

Author: Julie Beekman

Genre: Memoir/Trauma/Adoption/Therapy

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: Mention of sexual abuse

Buy at: AmazonBarnes and Noble


Children who experience trauma always need an advocate.


Julie is adopted by the Beekmans in the late 1960’s and at first, brought up in the idyllic town of Grand Haven, Michigan. When her father dies, her mother, Marge decides to sell everything, leave town and provide Julie and her brothers with some “cultural awareness” which includes enrolling Julie in an all black school in the south. Over the years, Marge becomes more abusive and ultimately Julie seeks help. She begins to confide in a young Art Therapist who helps uncover a barrage of secrets. While the book covers some dark times and tragedy, there is a strong sense of humor running through it that will keep the reader reading to see just how Julie manages to pull through it all, not only in one piece, but as an adult well able to survive in this world.


I don’t remember the baby showers family and neighbors threw for Marge after the Beekmans adopted me, or that I refused to eat anything other than lima beans. I was nine months old when Warren and Marge brought me home. I listened to stories about how it all came to be. “We kept having boys and, after three, I just wanted a girl, so bad.” These were the moments when I loved listening to Marge, when she was just being my mom. She was endearing and it reminded me she meant to love me. “I just told the caseworker we wanted a girl with blue or green eyes. I mean, no one in our family has light eyes!” she explained dramatically. The speech was always the same; Marge telling me it took four years for the adoption agency to approve them, that I cost three-hundred and fifty dollars.

“When we went to visit with you for the first time, you were wearing a little pink dress. You held out your arms to Warren and said, Da Da.” She raised her arms out and made a face that looked helpless. “We knew then, we just had to have you.” She seemed to always refer to him as Warren and not my dad.

“Did Randy, Scot and Dan want a sister?” I asked like it was the first time I heard the story.

“Oh, of course.” Marge lit a cigarette, took a short drag, and then held it near her coffee mug. I hated when she just held her cigarettes and didn’t smoke them or take the time to tap the ashes into the ashtray, because I couldn’t focus on her. I could only stare at the long cylinder of ash, wondering when and where it would fall. “We came home after meeting you and told the boys all about you. We were especially concerned when it came to Danny because he was only five and used to being the youngest.” Marge took a sip of black coffee without the slag of her smoke even moving slightly, although I could see the slight orange glow move fast toward her fingers. “I don’t want to be the youngest, Mama! I want a sister, is what he told me.” Marge pushed her cheeks out to imitate her idea of what Dan looked like when he was a kid and she laughed. “He was so damn cute! All you kids…” She smiled, stamped out her cigarette and looked far away like it had been some other lifetime and now she was let down. It felt the same to me because I didn’t remember any of it.

My first memory is my third birthday and that Grandma Beekman made me a cake in the shape of a lamb. The white sugared icing was thick and billowy, like wool. The lamb’s eyes stared back at me with chocolate glare. It was also the first year of many that Grandma made me a baby purse. She washed out old dish detergent bottles, cut out the bottom half and punched holes along the edges. Then she crocheted the holes so that she could build a purse with drawstrings from the plastic base. She showed me how to pull the drawstrings and yarn over the plastic sides, to reveal a crib with a tiny doll baby inside. The crib had a pillow and knitted blanket, too. She demonstrated over and over. It seemed she rather liked talking about her own creations and it drove Marge over the edge sometimes. Thankfully, Marge allowed Grandma to stay on my birthday and the cake didn’t end up on the floor.

Grandma didn’t come over too often. My dad would go to her house every week and sometimes take us kids. I especially liked to go, because Grandma gave us sugary treats and we rarely got sweets. Once, I spent the whole day with Grandma and we made church window cookies. We melted butter and chocolate, stirred in mini colored marshmallows, rolled everything out into a log coated with coconut, and refrigerated it in wax paper. Once the cookies were chilled, we sliced the log to find all the colors like on a stained-glass window. Grandma cut a lot of slices for me to take home.


When Marge picked me up and we headed for the car, she threw the bag of cookies into a snowbank. “How many times do I have to tell you and that woman, no sugar. You’re fat enough!”

I huddled against the passenger door on the way home.

Wherever I wandered, there was Blackie. Blackie was adopted about a week after I was. She was the runt from a litter of short-haired mutts. She was a sweet little dog that, right from the start, tried jumping into my crib. She ate everything I didn’t want and protected me as best she could. At night, she slept under my covers and growled when anyone entered my room.



Julie Beekman is an avid runner, hiker and skier and lives in Boulder, Colorado with her dog, Francesca.






Don’t Hold the Hand I let Go.

I don’t have five babies. I have kids. When I look at my kids I don’t see babies I see young adults, teens, and pre-teen. I knew one day they would grow up and move out to carve out their own life. I also knew it was my and my husband’s job to prepare them to make that leap into adulthood. #3 and I are similar we can be a group and we also do well alone. We relish our independence, and crave space to make our own decisions. That said, we journeyed to 3’s college orientation and while we enjoy being around each other neither one of us wanted to be at the orientation. It consisted of a lot of hand holding for parents and students and neither one of us wanted our hands held, and opting out was not an option. Everything 3 needed to do all together took about an hour but it was stretched into a daylong event. I quickly realized I didn’t fit in with the mothers who proudly raised their hands to admit they still do their college kids laundry. In my house you get introduced to the washer and dryer at 9. I didn’t read through 3’s packet, I didn’t fill out 3’s forms. It was all on 3. I answered the occasional question and nothing more.
When the parents and kids were separated I had to endure more parental hand holding with power point presentations on my feelings, how to talk to my kid when 3 calls home, what not to say, how to let go, how to mentally prepare for the let go, having the talk, expectations about how many times to call in a week and visit. Now while there may be some parents who need this. I don’t so needles to say I was irritated I had to sit through it. 3 and I have been together for 18 years we know how to talk to each other and argue. Not gonna lie we don’t always see eye to eye. But to disagree is natural when children are developing into adults. The talking points offered amounted to things I would say to a barista while I waiting for my order or someone I just met pleasant and generic conversation. Nothing like what I would say to someone who I carried for 9 months, cradled on my chest when only moments old, someone I raised. As far as letting go I went into motherhood knowing I was going to have to let go. I never once wanted my kids to stay babies forever. Never. So, for me there is not big letting go moment because I knew I wasn’t holding on forever. I believe mothers who say they want their kids to be babies forever are selfish. As for the talk 3 and I have been there done that. Personally, I feel if you haven’t had it with your 18 year-old. What the hell are you waiting for? As I looked around I saw parents taking notes. I thought WTF? Note taking? Someone really had to tell you this and your concerned you might forget it?
3 had to endure being spoken to like a child about money, again some children need this 3 didn’t. 3 didn’t need the feelings lecture. 3 needed to register for classes. I wouldn’t be so upset set but for the fact that there was no express program for those of us who don’t need this experience. If 3 and I have let go of each others’ hands why is someone forcing us to hold their hand when we don’t need to. It was clear as the day went on that 3 and I were in the minority as if pertained to this experience. One of the worse parts is when 3 finally got to see an advisor and he handed 3 a schedule, which they picked based off her personality and had nothing to do with her major. Now, because of the way 3 was raised   3 didn’t accept those classes and chose classes that worked with the major. 3 is starting college with 27 college credits. 3’s major and profession in life and life goals were chosen by 3. I wouldn’t pick for 3 why would someone else who doesn’t know 3, and isn’t paying for 3’s education feel they could pick for 3. While 3 was enduring that I was being told about in my “meeting” and my blood started to boil. Someone making a decision for my child when I wanted 3 to make on their own. 3 can’t grow if someone is jumping in to handhold. Besides putting someone in a class based on a questionnaire makes no sense to me to at all. But again I was in the minority as I sat in the room with the other parents. We were desperate to leave, but trapped and forced to endure an experience neither one of us wanted. Based off of dread that neither one of us had. 3 and I are excited for the future. To us it’s not the end but the next chapter in our relationship. But 3 can’t grow it everyone doesn’t let go.

My Last Sunset

My Last Sunset

Title: My Last Sunset

Author: Christian Chiakulas

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-62420-322-0

POD ISBN: 978-1546836339

Genre: Mystery/Crime

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 3

Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble


Although it is not described in detail, this book deals with sexual abuse.


An antisocial teen sets out to solve the mystery of why Jessica Carpenter killed herself in the halls of their high school.


My Last Sunset is a hardboiled detective story set in a contemporary American high school. Damon Riley is an angry, antisocial teenager with a penchant for solving mysteries. His life is shaken up when Jessica Carpenter, a girl in the grade below his, shoots herself in the halls of the school, leaving behind a note that names him as the culprit for driving her to suicide. Taking the bait, Damon embarks on a quest to find out what really happened to Jessica, leading him through a web of conspiracy, betrayal, and brutality. Along the way he learns more than he ever dreamed possible about the girl he could never have saved.


Michael might be having the same idea as me, because he says, “Hey, you hear about that freshman who killed herself?”

“She was a sophomore,” I say, staring ahead at the blackboard.

“Oh,” Michael says. He’s a senior, so it makes sense he wouldn’t know. “That’s right, I knew that.” Liar. “You heard she did it here?”

“Yeah, in the bathroom downstairs,” I say. This class is on the fourth floor. Jessica killed herself on the second. The music was so loud from the dance that nobody heard the gunshot, and she didn’t get found until a janitor came in the next day. She’d been absent from school Thursday and Friday last week, and I heard her mom had reported her missing to the police. Then, for whatever reason, she came back to school to end her life.

What the hell, Jessica.

It’s not that I can’t believe it. Jessica was a nice girl, I think, and seemed happy a lot of the time, but seeming happy and being happy aren’t the same thing; you don’t have to be smart to know or even articulate that. Like I said, I didn’t know her that well, but I knew her a little; enough to see that, like the rest of us, she had shit going on she didn’t talk about. What I didn’t see was that she was the kind of person who couldn’t deal with it, like we all do.

Or that it was the kind of shit that can’t be dealt with.

“Heard she left a note,” Michael says, and now I’m aware that he’s looking at me even though his face hasn’t moved. His eyes moved.

I didn’t hear anything about a note. Whatever was going on with her, she definitely wanted to be found, wanted somebody to know.

Or maybe everybody.

Half a dozen more people stream in over the next two or three minutes; this class is pretty small to begin with and there are four absent. The eight o’clock bell rings just as Goldman appears in the doorway. Behind him is Panzer, one of the school’s security guards (not his real name, but it should be).

I raise an eyebrow as Goldman enters the classroom and the talking dies down. Then he looks right at me and says, “Damon, could you please go with Mr. Cousins to the dean’s office?”

A low “Oooooh…” goes through the small class, and I stand up, wondering what the hell I did. Usually when I’m in trouble, I know exactly why. As I cross the room to where Panzer is standing, arms folded across his chest, I notice the two girls who’d been in the room early shooting me nasty looks, like I personally wronged them. I don’t even know their names.

Panzer steps aside to let me exit the room first then closes the door after us. I throw my messenger bag over my shoulder and look at him.

“What’s this about,” I say, a little worried.

“Just walk.”

The halls are deserted, and I stare at the floor as we walk to the main nexus where the stairwells are, passing over the blurry reflections of the fluorescent lights in the freshly-waxed floor. The dean’s office is on the second floor, right down the hall from the girl’s bathroom. I stare at the door as we pass it.

The dean’s office is small, considering there are three deans that share it along with a secretary and the school’s sole counselor. The hub is a yellow-painted room with the secretary’s desk, several file cabinets, a large wooden conference table, doors to the private offices of the deans and counselor, and plastic bins hanging on the walls filled with handouts and leaflets about substance abuse, sexual abuse, good ol’ fashioned domestic abuse, birth control, STDs, juvie, and there at the end—


The three deans are all sitting at the conference table along with the counselor, Mrs. Mullen, and the school’s police liaison, Officer Pasture. A pit drops into my stomach. Whatever I did, it must’ve been bad.

“Damon, please sit,” Dean Goodfellow says. He’s a pudgy man with long blonde hair and a face like a bulldog; if you’re picturing him comically, stop, because everyone in this school is terrified of him, including yours truly. The other two, Dean Haskins and Dean Washington, are serious men, but none attack their jobs with the rage-filled passion of Dean Goodfellow. He runs this school like it’s the streets of Baltimore in The Wire, keeping detailed, ever-growing files on every student with the misfortune to cross his path and trading favors to some of them for information. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve gotten out of more than one detention this way. Wouldn’t you know it, he’s in charge of students with surnames P-Z.

But they’re all three here, which means this is really serious. I pull up the blue plastic seat across from him, willing myself not to break eye contact, and Panzer disappears outside. The secretary isn’t here either. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. What’s going on?

“Damon,” Goodfellow says, shifting in his seat and locking his fingers together on the table in front of him. Everybody else at the table is staring at their laps; they know the drill. When Goodfellow is working…

interrogating, more like

…you let him be.


Christian Chiakulas is a writer, musician, political activist, and single father from Chicago. His writing has appeared in the Huffington Post and he writes the “Radical Christian Millennial” blog for

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Twitter handle: @ChrisChiakulas

Fill the Prescription Hold the Moral Objection

I was reading an article on the Huffington Post under the women’s section today. The article was titled Pharmacist allegedly refused to fill teen’s IUD related prescription. I have been and will always be very vocal about a woman’s right to chose and a woman’s right to control her fertility. But what got me about this story is that the pharmacist assumed things about this young lady and then decided that his or her personal belief should out weight the young lady’s rights and her doctor’s prescription. In summary she was getting three prescriptions filled two there was no objection to the third is commonly used as a prep for a IUD, which the young lady wasn’t getting she was using the doctor prescribed medicine for something else. In short her mother questioned why it was filled and found out that the pharmacist wasn’t filling it based on his or her moral beliefs. The mother has since gotten the ACLU in New Mexico involved. Whatever reasons the young lady needs the prescription that was between her and her doctor. The pharmacist should not get a voice at the table.

This article irritated me for several reasons first why do people feel they have the right to impose their moral beliefs on others. If you don’t agree with a drug then don’t take it but there is a level of self-righteous arrogance at play here when the pharmacist refuses to do their job based upon their personal beliefs. He or she knew when they became a pharmacist that their job was to fill a variety of prescriptions written by doctors. If this particular pharmacist or any pharmacist isn’t willing to filled a prescribed medicine then maybe they are in the wrong field and they should pick another occupation. Because frankly I have a moral objection and personal beliefs about judgmental people who feel they have a right to inflict their morals on others instead of minding their business. I have a moral objection to people who want to make their morals the law of the land by which everyone should submit. I have personal beliefs about people who want their morals respected but don’t want to respect the morals or choices of others. I have personal beliefs about people who think their way of life is the only way to live and go out of their way to make it difficult for others to live their lives. But the difference is I’m not demanding people like the pharmacist change what I’m asking is that they mind their business, fill the prescription, and let the reasons for the prescription be between the patient and the doctor who wrote the prescription. Because unless you are alerting the doctor and or the patient to a possible conflict with the medications. The why and what for is not the pharmacist concern.

Second reason why this story irritated me is because I have an eighteen-year-old daughter and if she were to want or need a prescription that is birth control related it’s going to really pissed me off if her prescription is denied because a sanctimonious, arrogant, and just down right ignorant pharmacist decided to stick his or her nose in my daughter’s reproductive business. The pharmacist has no right to question or judge her. My husband and I have made it very clear to our daughter what her rights are and that we would support her in taking all of the steps necessary to stand up for her rights.

I’m tried of people making the rights of a woman’s fertility and reproduction their business and doing it under the guise of morality. When it has nothing to do with morality but everything to do with certain sects of society feeling they have a right to dictate what a woman does with her body because the voice in their head they call god tells them they have the right to. Well I don’t want my body or the bodies of my daughters and sons governed by the voices in someone else’s head. And that goes not just for reproductive rights but rights and laws in general. I’m very much a logic, reason, and science person.

The third reason the story  bothered me was because this isn’t the first time a pharmacist has done this. There have been stories of pharmacists refusing to fill the morning after pill as well as birth control pills, but I never hear of pharmacist refusing to fill Viagra or drugs like Viagra on the bases of moral objection or person beliefs. I don’t hear stories about men being questioned, judged, and or shamed by a pharmacist for needing pills to achieve an erection. You don’t hear of a man’s sexual activities being judged because of his Viagra prescription. I haven’t heard of legislation being passed to stop insurance from covering those pills. I don’t hear evangelicals decrying their moral objection to those pills. Men aren’t called derogatory names and vilified for needing Viagra. If one only has a moral objection to prescriptions that pertain to a woman’s reproductive system is it really a moral objection or is it just plain old misogyny disguised as morality.

Here is a book from an author associated with my publishing house Rouge Phoenix Press.

A Place of Learning

Catherine will giveaway a digital copy of A Place of Learning

Title: A Place of Learning

A Teacher’s Story

ISBN: 978-1-62420-320-6

Author: Catherine DePino


Genre: Fictitious Memoir

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 1


Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble


This tell-all book about teaching relates triumphant stories of kids achieving against all odds and staff members who refuse to give up on their students.


Imagine what it would be like if you could see everything that goes on during one teacher’s day. A Place of Learning: A Teacher’s Story, a fictionalized account based on my experiences in three city high schools, spans three decades. Those who have read the book tell me the anecdotes are outrageous, poignant, funny, and sad all at the same time. Best of all, the book comes off as wild and quirky. Events similar to those in my story continue to play out every day in urban classrooms across the nation. The players are different, but the events remain the same: violence, teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, and rampant academic failure due to lack of school funding, pervasive poverty, and dysfunctional families.


There’s a picture on my wall, faded now, of my students marching down the aisle of our city’s largest university’s auditorium where our local high schools stage their graduations. Parents, grandparents, and children wave lollipop colored balloons in the bleachers. Sophomores and juniors jump up and shout out names of seniors as they enter the massive hall in their blue and gold robes. “Sheree, Willie, Jonette…”

The graduates march slowly down the aisle, right foot first, then the left foot meeting the right, then the left again, like a quaint wedding march. Mendelssohn isn’t playing. Instead, it’s the Sounds of Blackness singing “Optimistic.”

Dr. Leeds strides up to the podium. He doesn’t shout out his usual, “Looking good, feeling good, and smelling good.” Instead, he tells the graduates how he knows many of them are the first in their families to earn a high school diploma and that the act of their coming to school each day in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, such as teen parenthood, poverty, violence, and drug addiction, is an act of profound courage on their part.

“So, stand up now and applaud yourselves.” He is openly crying and gesturing with open arms to the audience. “Applaud each other.”

The crowd waves banners and balloons in a flurry of crayon colors. Restless babies squirm in their mothers’ arms and cry out for it to be over. Weary grandparents fan themselves. Dr. Leeds calls the graduates up one by one. He tries to say something personal to each one as he hands them their diplomas.

“Anna, you come back and see me when you finish community college. Maybe we’ll have a job for you here.”

“Demetrius, if I ever need a lawyer, I’ll be sure and look you up.” He smiles and whispers. “First, you need to go get a new haircut, and get rid of those ugly plaid shirts.”

Demetrius smiles widely. He is proud to be valedictorian.

Next Dr. Leeds moves toward Samuel, who beat up Mr. Parks, the security guard. He speaks in a low voice so the audience can barely hear. “Personally, I don’t believe you deserve to graduate, but I’m sending you off anyway. Got no choice. Others need to take your place, but if I see you anywhere near this building, I’ll take care of you myself. You hear?”

Dr. Leeds ambles back to his seat, his red velvet-stole draped over his black doctoral robes. Miss Janel, the choir director, approaches the dais. Mothers rub their babies’ backs to keep them from crying. Sisters and brothers stop waving their balloons. Relatives stop calling out names of their graduates. Their voices trail off. “Terrelle, Rosita, Malik…”

Miss Janel’s lone alto voice resonates through the hall. “When you walk through the storm, hold your head up high. And don’t be afraid of the dark…”

Everyone stands. We join hands and sing along with her. Dr. Leeds gives the signal, and the graduates begin to stride slowly down the center aisle.

No pomp and circumstance. No hoots and hollers, merely the hushed bustle of shoes brushing the glossy hardwood floors and voices in synchrony singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”.

Purple and gold robes blur into sun and sky as the class of ’93 marches out onto the city sidewalk and into the world.


Catherine DePino, Ed.D, has published 15 books about bullying, grammar/writing, spirituality, and women’s issues. Her background includes a BS in English and Spanish education, a master’s in English education, and a doctorate in Curriculum Theory and Development and Educational Administration from Temple University. The author worked for many years as a teacher, department head, and disciplinarian in the Philadelphia School District. After this, she worked at Temple as an adjunct assistant professor and student teaching supervisor. Catherine has also written articles for national magazines, including The Christian Science Monitor and The Writer. Her self-help book, Fire Up Your Life in Retirement: 101 Ways for Women to Reinvent Themselves, recently appeared on the market. Cool Things to Do If a Bully’s Bugging You, debuted in 2016. Visit her website and contact her at

Before the Dawn

Here is a book from fellow author Courtney Rene. Courtney will also being giving away a digital copy of Before the Dawn. Thanks and Enjoy.

Before the Dawn

Title: Before the Dawn

         A Howl in the Night Book 3

Author: Courtney Rene

ISBN: 978-1-62420-325-1


Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 2

Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Website URL:

Blog URL:

Facebook page:

Twitter handle: @ctnyrene


Darkness continues to haunt Abby since her escape from the Hunterz. Questions continue to circle. Who are they, really? Why do they hate the wolves so much?


Seventeen year old Abby can’t shake the darkness that continues to haunt her since her escape from the Hunterz. She can’t let it go. Questions continue to circle. Questions no one will answer. Who are they, really? Why do they hate the wolves so much? The answers could be found in a young boy named, Sam. He may be from the Hunterz, but he smells of wolf. Derek wants to believe her, and tries to help, but Abby still hasn’t learned how to accept help from others. Her relationships with her mother and father continue to deteriorate, but Derek is a puzzle. Some days he’s exactly what she wants and others he is all that she despises. Being a shifter isn’t as simple as she thought it would be. The wolf part is easy. It’s the human side that needs a little 

Continue reading “Before the Dawn”

When I got the call no Black Mother Wants

I was pissed. My husband called me yesterday while he was waiting for #5 of 5 to finish her dance lessons. He proceeded to tell me # 1 of 5 had called and explained that an individual who is an officer of the law had been harassing him. Our son had been pulled over by the same person within a short period of time on the same day. (I will not called him a man because men don’t act the way this individual conducted himself) The first stop was to say our son didn’t stop at a stop sign. When our son explained he had and was able to explain the reason was he was confident he had stop. This individual backed off. The second time was while he was finishing up business with his new landlord; he and his girlfriend who is white are getting their first place together. This individual stopped him again under the guise of making sure he wasn’t doing anything wrong. If you’re wondering why I’m not using the tittle officer or police officer. It’s simple a police officer has a sworn duty to protect and serve everyone in the community not harass and falsely accuse those they deem unworthy of respect or protection.
As my husband told me everything my blood immediately started to boil. My husband who is white proceeded to say I knew this would happen one day. And there was nothing we could do to stop it. I just didn’t know when or where. I expected this call. Those words made me go from pissed to full blow pissed off curse words and all. No parent should have that dread in his or her head. No parent should live with the notion at one day an individual with a badge and less melanin than his or her child is going to harasses, mistreat, disrespect, or falsely accuse his or her child simply because that badge has created a twisted hero complex that allows them to believe only stereotypes about other ethnic groups. But the call my husband got is a call that he will get again from each one of our kids at some point. My kids aren’t perfect, hell neither am I. But they are good hard-working, intelligent, creative, and caring children who have talents and gifts to share. While #1 of 5 is a football player, over 6’ 3’’, and has the typical offensive lineman built what he’s not it a threat, he’s not a thug, he’s not someone who needs to be feared or checked. He’s a college student, a son, a brother, a boyfriend, a friend, a good person.
This brings me to my next point, which is if it all about we stop and frisk and racially profile to keep people safe. Then why aren’t white men being stopped and frisked and racially profiled. I mean Ted Bundy-white, Timothy McVeigh-white, Jeffery Dahmer-white, Dylan Roof-white, James Holmes-white, Robert Lewis-white, Jeremy Joseph-white the list goes on and on. And if you noticed I didn’t even list the white Catholic priests molesting boys and girls for decades nor the white men like Brock Turner who have raped and received light sentences as punishment for their vicious crimes. Nor have I addressed white-collar criminals like the ones involved in Enron who devastated people financially. But no registry for white men you know just until we can sort the good ones from the bad ones. Like the current administration wanted to do with Muslims. No pundit on Fox News talking about the inherent danger of white men. Like they love to do when they talk about young black men. No send the bad ones back to Europe movement. Like the current administration has been doing with undocumented immigrants of Hispanic decent. No stop and frisk with white men being the face of stop and frisk. No group of white male teens being searched without cause because they are white and walking in a group.
My husband is retired military and every time someone comes up and says thank-you for your service I wonder if they really mean it or if it’s like saying bless you after a sneeze it’s just considered the polite thing to do. It’s difficult for me to accept the thank-you offered by society as genuine when society stereotypes, marginalizes and criminalizes our children. When our children are “checked” for simply possessing a higher skin pigment. Maybe society instead of saying thank-you for your service society should show thanks by treating his children the same way they treat him.

How Prom has changed

How Prom has changed

I have a friend who posted an article on Facebook that I want to talk about for a moment. In Ohio there was a middle school teacher who made a comment on snap chat about parents having money for horses at prom but not school supplies or passing grades. There were parents who were offended and the teacher is currently on paid leave. While I don’t know the economic status of the teen’s family who hired the horse and carriage nor do I know the intent of the teacher’s comments. What I do think is that we as parents and as a society are missing the opportunity to look inward and ask ourselves some very important questions. Why has prom become such and over-the-top event that can set teens and parents back a few thousand dollars? Have we as parents turned prom into an event where parents competing with other parents to show off who can spend the most on their child? Why have we hyped teens up to believe that this one night is a make or break, life changing moment? And I say parents because at the end of the day there is an adult who signs off on all of this.
I did a Google search online for extravagant prom 2017 and there were plenty of photos of teens posing in front of every high-end car you can think of, posing in front of planes, on private planes, etc. Every thing wrecked of lavishness but how much of that lavishness is just an illusion created for one night that will be forgotten long before that teen hits their 30’s let alone their 40’s. As I have mentioned before my husband and I have five kids. #1 didn’t want to go to prom #2 and #3 one boy and one girl went to their junior prom and attended their senior prom last month. #4 is on track to graduate early and won’t go, (I don’t think it’s his thing anyway) and #5 is too young to tell. 2 and 3 went they had a good time. Number 2 drove and 3 rode with her date in the car he drove to school. We didn’t rent a Rolls –Royce, Bentley, or any other high end luxury car. We didn’t rent a helicopter, nor plane. # 3 borrowed a dress because she said she had enough gowns that she will never wear again in her closet # 2 rented a tuxedo. The night was still theirs and the memories were still created. And you noticed I didn’t even touch talking about prom proposals, which is a whole other conversation.
How can we as parents allow our children to get so wrapped up in one night when in the grand scheme of their lives this one night probably won’t even register when they start to live their adult lives and figure out who they are? Are their colligate aspirations held to the same standard? Do you forfeit the right to complain about the rising cost of college when you’re willing to drop hundreds or even thousands on one night? Have we as parents and society created a generation that is focused on the illusion of reality and not reality itself? What happens after the cars are returned to the rightful owners? The plane ride is over? And the dress is no longer in fashion or fits? And the pictures end up in the attic, or basement, or discarded?

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