An Interview with Marilea C. Rabassa, Author of the Memoir ‘Stepping Stones’

The Dark Phantom Review

Marilea C. Rabasa is a retired high school teacher who moved west from Virginia eleven years ago. Before that, she traveled around the world with her former husband in the Foreign Service. She has been published in a variety of publications. Writing as Maggie C. Romero, Rabasa won the International Book Award, was named a finalist in both the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the USA Best Book Awards, and earned an honorable mention in The Great Southwest Book Festival, for her 2014 release, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.  She lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a number of years and now resides in Camano Island, Washington. Visit her online at:

Author HeadshotQ: Congratulations on the release of your book, Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation. What was your inspiration for it?

A: My desire to heal from substance use disorder and…

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The Story behind ‘The Rising Place’ by David Armstrong

The Story Behind the Book

TheRisingPlace_w14312_ibI got the idea for The Rising Place after reading a daily devotional in The Upper Room magazine one morning about a retired school teacher who had just died, leaving no children. After the service, one of the teacher’s former students, from fifty years back, approached his teacher’s niece and told her what a great teacher her aunt had been and how she had positively influenced his life and the lives of several of his friends. The niece was amazed, and a bit ashamed, since she never took the time to get to know her aunt, who she merely regarded as an eccentric old maid.

So, I decided to develop this story into a novel and centered it around, what I thought, was an interesting premise: What if you found a box of love letters written by an old spinster during World War II who had just died—would you read…

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Excerpt Reveal: ‘Riley,’ by Paul Martin Midden

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Riley FRONT COVER hi-resGenre:   Contemporary adult fiction

Author: Paul Martin Midden


Publisher: Wittmann Blair Publishing

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About the Book:

Riley, a young writer, finally divorces her husband and begins a novel about a fictional couple in conflict. Supported by her best friend, Jennifer, she begins her life of freedom. In a complicated turn of events, she meets and beds Edward, a shy young man who falls for her instantly. She does not want to continue the relationship, however, and her refusal lays the groundwork for a series of dangerous events. Her conflicts and those of her characters play out in this psychologically intriguing story.

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About the Author:

Paul Martin Midden is the author of five previous novels, each of which explores different writing styles. He practiced clinical psychology for over thirty years. Paul’s interests include historic restoration, travel, fitness, and wine tasting. He and…

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Excerpt reveal: Maximilian’s Treasure, by James D. Bell

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Genre: Romance/Adventure 
Author: James D. Bell
Find out more on Amazon       
About the Book:
Rumors of a legendary treasure fuel a battle over possession of a Choctaw family farm.  Two young lawyers, John Brooks and Jackson Bradley, agree to help the family keep their farm.  Early legal success prompts the drive-by murder of the patriarch of the family.  The grandson chases the suspects whose bodies are found on the farm, scalped.  At the same time clues to a vast treasure are found on the farm.  Jackson, pursued by fortune seekers, adventurers, an exotic beauty and a homicidal maniac, follows the clues from a Caribbean reef to the Chiapas jungle.  John stays behind to defend the grandson and continue the fight for the farm.  His efforts are complicated by arson, murder, race riots, and the realization that he lost his one…

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‘Fortunate Son – The Story of Baby Boy Francis,’ by Brooks Eason

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Fortunate Son front cover (3)GenreMemoir 

AuthorBrooks Eason


Publisher: WordCrafts Press, Nashville, TN

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On the eve of the birth of his first grandchild, Mississippi lawyer Brooks Eason learned the truth about a mystery he’d lived with for nearly fifty years: the story of his birth and his birth mother’s identity.  Perhaps even more surprising was how the story was finally revealed:  It turned out that Eason was a potential heir to an enormous fortune from his birth mother’s family.  His original identity finally saw the light of day only as result of litigation in four courts in two states, initiated in an effort to identify and find the heir.  Eason, who was raised in Tupelo by loving parents, found out on the day his granddaughter was born that he began his life…

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A Conversation with Trial Lawyer/Political Thriller Author Michael Bowen

The Dark Phantom Review

After his graduation from Harvard Law School, Michael Bowen worked as a trial lawyer for thirty-nine years before retiring in 2015.  He focused on franchise and distribution disputes, but found time to assist in representing the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team in complex litigation over a proposal to put a maximum security prison across the street from County Stadium, and to represent numerous pro bono clients, including one who had been sentenced to death.  His career in fiction began with the 1987 publication of Can’t Miss, a “gently feminist” (St. Louis Post Dispatch) novel about the first woman to play major league baseball.  It continued through publication of one political satire and nineteen mysteries, culminating in 2019 with False Flag in Autumn, a follow-up to 2016’s Damage Control (“ . . . consistently delightful . . . . Bowen’s ebullient antidote to election season blues . . . …

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“On Writing, When Murder Mystery Magic Happens,” by Susan McCormick, Author of ‘The Fog Ladies’  

Though I try to plot and plan, my favorite part of writing is when characters I have created do unexpected things and get themselves into trouble. THE FOG LADIES is a cozy murder mystery set in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco where old ladies start to die. One of my characters, Enid Carmichael, discovers Starbucks lattes at the ripe old age of eighty. She loves the bitterness, the froth. I wrote that. Then she craved more, and the next thing I knew, she was stealing Starbucks coupons from her neighbor’s newspaper to feed her addiction. She did that. Not me.

Sometimes characters create themselves. Chantrelle, ne’er do well teen parent, and Baby Owen wrote their own scenes, and provided a potential murderer in Big Owen, the daddy. Once this threesome was introduced, my story evolved and deepened, yet they were nowhere in my mind when I set out to write.

Twists happen when my fingers hit keyboard keys, and then I have to go back and figure out how to incorporate these unexpected plot turns. One of the Fog Ladies put herself on life support, then expected me, the author, to somehow revive her. These times, when a different part of my brain is at work, are my favorite parts of writing.

After the surprises and joys of first draft writing comes the difficult revision stage. My first draft of THE FOG LADIES did not have enough suspects, so I had to go back and turn lovely, innocent characters into potential murderers. Plot holes, timing issues, inserting red herrings here and there after the fact, this unavoidable stage of writing is definitely difficult.  Revising, rewriting, re-imagining—there is nothing easy or glamorous about this painful part.

But, my feisty Fog Ladies persevered, most of them coming through alive and ready for another cozy caper. Hopefully, that one will write itself as well, until one of the ladies writes me into a box and the revision begins.



The Fog Ladies is a cozy murder mystery set in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco where old ladies start to die. Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin slips on bubbles in the bath and drowns. The Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in a cool San Francisco evening.

Young, overworked, overtired, overstressed medical intern Sarah James has no time for sleuthing. Her elderly neighbors, the Fog Ladies, have nothing but time. Sarah assumes the deaths are the natural consequence of growing old. The Fog Ladies assume murder.

Sarah resists the Fog Ladies’ perseverations. But when one of them falls down the stairs and tells Sarah she was pushed, even Sarah believes evil lurks in their building. Can they find the killer before they fall victim themselves?

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About the Author

Susan McCormick writes cozy murder mysteries. She is also the author of Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease. She is a doctor who lives in Seattle. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in Washington, DC and San Francisco, where she lived in an elegant apartment building much like the one in the book. She served nine years in the military before settling in the Pacific Northwest. She is married and has two boys, plus a giant Newfoundland dog.


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Mystery Authors Rosemary & Larry Mild Share Their Favorite Books

Larry’s Favorites:

  1. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Follett whisked me back to the twelfth century to teach me what life was all about in those times: how the church owned and rented the lands, how knights were financed to go to war, how wool was processed, how monasteries were managed, and how the flying buttresses came to be the standard for the great cathedrals of medieval England. The interactive story is told by the characters. It’s fodder for the curious and fun to read such an engaging story about the people who lived there in those times.
  1. The Eight by Katherine Neville. Starting with the Moorish invention in the time of Charlemagne, Neville weaves the history of chess and the roles it played into a modern adventure-suspense and quest story. You are taken to the times and places so seamlessly: France, Italy, Turkey, and North Africa—the Atlas mountains, and all the time stops in between. It was one of the most memorable rides through history I’ve ever experienced. I commend her on her research.
  1. Shogun by James Clavell. What an adventure—a British ocean-navigator stranded in seventeenth-century Japan, land of strange laws, customs, rituals, and ideas. A militant people, who viewed the stranger from the West as unclean and uncultured, gradually learn that he has value and something can be learned from him to the point where they can’t release him to go home. The book reveals so much about a top-down feudal/Samurai system that I had a hard time putting it down.
  1. Uhuru by Robert Ruark. How about a trip into Kenya where humbled African families are subjugated by a harsh, white-supremacist society? Now travel deeper into the jungle, where a secret Mau Mau reactionary group imposes a tortuous ritual to ensure fealty to the group. Follow the young man, who is torn between his oath to the Mau Mau uprising and his entree into freedom, love, and a place in black society. The book helped me to begin to understand the cruel plight and unfair trials facing these people. Uhuru, meaning freedom in Swahili, remains unforgettable, right along with Ruark’s Poor No More.
  1. The Source by James Michener. I enjoyed the way Michener peeled back the layers of the earth like the much-clichéd onion and created a fictional story for each layer. A character, a relic, a plot for each layer made me feel that I was in Israel for the archaeological dig at this tell—being surprised along with the fictional discoverers. I especially appreciated the story of the deformed man who engineered the tunnel between the besieged fortress and the wadi source of drinking water. I got a sense of what it might have been like had I been there.

Rosemary’s Favorites: 

  1. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. In 1962 a French secret army organization sets out to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle—in revenge for him granting Algerian independence. The most unlikely assassin is chosen: an obscure, blond Englishman. Breathlessly, we follow this sophisticated killer, dubbed “the jackal,“ on the way to his mission. Forsyth’s command of detail—strategies, murders committed along the way—took me inside the killer’s head and kept me up half of many nights. But it was worth it!
  1. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. A successful but naïve young architect meets a friendly fellow named Bruno during a long train ride and reveals more of his unhappy marriage than he means to. But friendship is hardly Bruno’s intent. He proposes a sinister exchange of actions, trapping the architect in a psychological web fraught with deceit and violence. This astonishing novel is so compelling that I keep re-reading it and getting myself sucked in over and over again.
  1. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. I love reading about monumental arrogance taken down, This novel portrays the rise and fall of Wall Street’s top bond trader, who considers himself a “Master of the Universe.” In truth, he lives in luxury at the mercy of his wife, who “hemorrhages money.” Wolfe opened my eyes to the real New York City of the 1980s: a hungry prosecutor in the Bronx; ruthless politicos and judges; gold-digging mistresses, and justified outrage in Harlem.
  1. Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. In class-conscious seventeenth-century Holland, Jan Vermeer’s wife hires a young penniless maid, who quickly becomes a source of fascination for the painter. That fascination turns into an obsession. The novel was meticulously researched. I felt like I was walking the streets of Delft, then spying on the painter in his studio. Best of all, it delves into Vermeer’s bewitching, mercurial personality and the havoc he wreaks on his family as he paints the now-world-famous “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”
  1. A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton. This exquisitely written book is set on a serene farm in Wisconsin. Alice’s biggest problem that morning is her five-year-old’s temper tantrum. But catastrophe strikes; the impossible happens. The story is told first by Alice, and then by her husband. What I loved about it are the insights and observations, told in language remarkably simple, but pin-point fresh—couched in a gripping plot with hold-your-breath suspense.


mild5ROSEMARY AND LARRY MILD, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery, suspense, and fantasy fiction. Their popular Hawaii novels, Cry Ohana and its sequel Honolulu Heat, vibrate with island color, local customs, and exquisite scenery. Also by the Milds: The Paco and Molly Murder Mysteries: Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. And the Dan and Rivka Sherman Mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes A Mistress, and Death Steals A Holy Book. Plus: Unto the Third Generation, A Novella of the Future, and three collections of wickedly entertaining mystery stories—Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i.Cover ARt

ROSEMARY, a graduate of Smith College and former assistant editor of Harper’s, also delves into her own nonfiction life. She  published two memoirs: Love! Laugh! Panic! Life With My Mother and the acclaimed Miriam’s World—and Mine, for the beloved daughter they lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. On her lighter side, Rosemary also writes award-winning humorous essays, such as failing the test to get on Jeopardy; and working for a giant free-spending corporation on a sudden budget: “No new pencil unless you turn in the old stub.”

LARRY, who was only called Lawrence when he’d done something wrong, graduated from American University in Information Systems Management. In 2019 he published his autobiography, No Place To Be But Here: My Life and Times, which traces his thirty-eight-year professional engineering career from its beginning as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, to a field engineer riding Navy ships, to a digital systems/instrument designer for major Government contractors in the signal analysis field, to where he rose to the most senior level of principal engineer when he retired in 1993.

Making use of his past creativity and problem-solving abilities, Larry naturally drifted into the realm of mystery writing, where he also claims to be more devious than his partner in crime and best love, Rosemary. So he conjures up their plots and writes the first drafts, leaving Rosemary to breathe life into their characters and sizzle into their scenes. A perfect marriage of their talents.

THE MILDS are active members of Sisters in Crime where Larry is a Mister in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Hawaii Fiction Writers. In 2013 they waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish quality time with their daughters and grandchildren. When Honolulu hosted Left Coast Crime in 2017, Rosemary and Larry were the program co-chairs for “Honolulu Havoc.”

Over a dozen worldwide trips to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Great Britain, France, Italy, Israel, Egypt, and more have wormed their way into their amazing stories. In their limited spare time, they are active members of the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee, where Larry is the statistician and recordkeeper for their film ratings.

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Interview with Patrick Stull, author of Encounters

American artist Patrick Stull has spent the last eighteen years mostly creating imagery about the lives of women. He searches for what lies beneath the surface of his subjects, empowering each one he encounters. He has recently ventured into the realm of surrealism, creating powerful imagery that reflects on our humanity while dealing with the meaning and power of art.

His latest book is the fine art photography book, Encounters.

Visit his website at

Book Description:

With photography at its base, Stull offers a nuanced explication of his encounters to allow the viewer an opportunity to form a relationship with his art. While looking within ourselves, exploring our own feelings, he hopes that he will inspire greater humaneness in response to his art.

ENCOUNTERS is the second in a series of six large-format books in which artist, photographer and author, Patrick Stull explores a wide range of experiences. Using light and the physical body, the written word and his artistry he creates imagery that examines aspects of the lives of women.

Compiled over the last 18 years, the images in ENCOUNTERS, Stull says, are meant to “inspire and challenge the observer while always empowering the subject.”

Stull brings a powerful sense of the surreal and the spiritual to his work as he plots a course along the many paths of the human experience. His imagery runs from the ghostly and ephemeral to the flowing and fiery.

As much as he concentrates on the human form, Stull never forgets to focus on the humanity of his subjects. His choice of the coffee-table style book format draws the viewer into an experience both intimate and universal.

Stull’s first book in his series, titled EVOLVE, was published in 2006. A third book, titled HIDDEN DIMENSIONS, is completed and awaiting publication. Future titles in the series include DHARMA, BEING DIFFERENT, and YOGA, A HEALING MOMENT.

Stull hopes that his readers come away from the book with “a love for art and a respect for the female who gives us life and challenges us to be better human beings.

Women seem to play an important role in your photography. What is it about women that makes your photography portraying them so unique?

Patrick: Women allow me into their lives in the most intimate, artistic ways. Then I use light, the camera and other elements to present their bodies and talents, while sharing their stories.

I haphazardly fell into photographing women, working with them and explicating their lives and bodies with the camera. Photographers dedicate their lives to many different areas of interest. I have spent almost two decades working with women, in all stages of life and in many circumstances. Women are the most amazing and fascinating subjects. They inspire me to continue my work. If they trust you, they allow you to enter their worlds of fashion, their moments of creating new life, their pain of being raped, the challenges of being a female dancer or performer and the misogyny to which they are subjected.

Of all your photography, what would you say is your very favorite?

Patrick: This is a challenging question. It’s like asking me to choose between my children.

My portrait work is the most exciting thing for me to create. A portrait is more intimate than photographing any other part of the body. Portraits allow me the privilege to peer into a woman’s soul. She exposes herself in a way that’s most intense. The face, the eyes, skin and hair tell all. If I had to choose the one image that has penetrated my artistic being, it would be the family portrait of three females, together. The image is a side perspective of mother, daughter and granddaughter.

The power of the image is that of presenting the passage of time, allowing one to connect to the process of life. The viewer journeys from youth to the aging matriarch. Everyone that views the image has different reactions. Some see it as confrontational, others love its power as I do. No matter what, the image penetrates my being and has a disruptive humanistic message that connects me to women, my nature and my ultimate purpose, that of discovery.

And what a stunning cover. Why did you choose this particular photo?

Patrick: The cover of a book is one of the most difficult things to decide upon. I think I had at least ten of them during the process. I wanted something that was mysterious like a woman’s personality.

Have you always had an eye for beauty through the lens of a camera?

Patrick: I think I was born with an interest in visual composition. My relationship to the camera began in my late teens. As long as I can remember, I was fascinated and intrigued by its magic and power. Needless to say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That said, my focus is to present something captivating and it is up to the audience to determine “beauty”.

What message are you trying to convey with your photography that you hope people will ‘get’?

Patrick: I would like the viewers to reflect on their humanity, the power of art and a woman’s uniqueness. Photography stops time, unveils our natures and most of all offers a voyeuristic relationship to the world. Encounters, as with any art, is about the viewer. It is what they bring to the viewing experience as their eye’s transverse the images. The reality and power of the images, hinge on how emotionally they impact the viewer’s psyche. My wish is that the viewer acquires a deeper appreciation and respect for their own humanity, their bodies and this amazing creature we call female.

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?

I created Encounters to share my love of photography, the written word and the female form. The book is a labor of love – a letter to all from which I hope to inspire motivation toward a greater sense of our humanity – in thought and in our daily actions toward one and other. With the greatest respect, please enjoy.



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Review: From Idea to Reality: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Meaningful Business Growth, by Jean Paulynice

From-idea-to-reality-FRONT-CoverTitle: From Idea to Reality: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Meaningful Business Growth

Author: Jean Paul Paulynice, MBA


Publisher’s contact info: INFO@PAULYNICECONSULTING.COM


Genre: Self-help/Inspirational

Publication Date: June 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-1-0   (Hardback)    $19.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-2-7   (Paperback)  $14.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-7-2   (eBook)         $7.99

Find out more on Amazon.

Jean Paulynice draws from personal experience, revealing the secrets he shares with clients and provides you with essential information as if he were your own personal coach guiding you along the way.

By using this workbook, which has ample space for notes, you’ll be able to brainstorm, self reflect, and develop a plan/strategy, as well as become aware of not only your strengths but also your weaknesses and obstacles. In addition, you’ll be able to join a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Written in an engaging, conversational style, “From Idea to Reality” will help push you forward and gather momentum, improving your chances of discovering and fulfilling your true potential and increasing your chance of success. No matter your type of entrepreneurship, this book will be helpful if you’re starting out or would like to take your business to the next level.


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