Today’s Featured Authors – Diana Rubino and Piper Huguley

Today I welcome authors Diana Rubino and Piper Huguley. Their book, Oney: My Escape from Slavery, came out in January.


The hour finally came—while they ate dinner.

Nothing heavied my heart—not remorse, not guilt, not sadness upon fleeing my master and mistress. Raw thirst for freedom overcame all that. I walked straight past the Washingtons and out that door. When I shut it, I left them—and my forced bondage— behind me.

I tore through the muddy streets in pouring rain. Gasping for breath, soaked to the skin, my heart slamming in terror, I glanced behind me, again and again. No one pursued me—yet. I dreaded and expected pounding footsteps, a clap on my shoulder. But, I asked myself, who would chase me through the driving rain? No, it is not possible, I affirmed—they didn’t even know I’d left the kitchen.

At the Jones house I slowed and caught my breath. When Absalom opened the door, I staggered inside, laughing, sobbing, gulping for dear life.

I spent the night pacing the attic room, hands clasped. “I beg of you, dear God, walk beside me on this journey. See me through this safe. Don’t let them capture me. I only want to be your servant, no one else’s.”

As daybreak nudged away the darkness, I fell to my knees, weary with fatigue. “Thank you, dear God, for ending my final night of bondage.”

The story behind the story

Oney’s Story…

Teenaged Oney Judge was Martha Washington’s ‘favorite servant.’ Oney and Martha both longed for freedom, but in very different ways. Martha hated being confined to the president’s house, forced to entertain politicians and foreign diplomats. Oney hated being someone else’s property, forced to do labor and wait on her owners day and night.

After President Washington served one term as president, he wrote his farewell speech. He and Martha started packing for their retirement at Mount Vernon, but it was not meant to be. He was elected again—unanimously. He did not want to serve another term, but gave in under pressure.

Martha had no say in it whatsoever. But as she hosted her tea parties and levees, she became close friends with several forward-thinking women, such as Abigail Adams and Judith Murray, feminists of the time. Their radical ideas rubbed off on Martha—education and job training for women to be self-supporting instead of depending on husbands. By the end of George’s term, she experienced a steep character arc. She even changed her attitude toward slavery. When Oney escaped at age 20, at the end of George’s final term, Martha was very resentful: “She was more like a child to me than a servant.” The Washingtons knew that she’d escaped to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and made several attempts to recapture her. But in a sudden act of lenience, Martha gave up on Oney and let her remain free. During her husband’s presidency, Martha complained, “I am more like a state prisoner”, so perhaps she put herself in Oney’s place and realized she deserved liberty, too.

As our first First Lady, Martha Washington evolved from a  grandmotherly wife and homebody to an outspoken champion of women’s rights. She provided freedom for her slaves at her death.

While living in Portsmouth, Oney married a sailor, Jack Staines, and had three children. She outlived her husband and children, and lived her remaining free life in Greenland, New Hampshire. Somewhat of a local celebrity, she lived in poverty, but the locals supported her and she took in sewing to supplement her meager income. She declared in an 1847 interview, “I am free now and choose to remain so.”

Book Blurb

It is 1793 – a decade after General George Washington led America to victory in its fight for independence from Britain.

With freedom secured, the general has been persuaded to accept a second term as president of the new nation. But in his heart he wants to go back to being a farmer. And being a farmer means he has slaves. Leading a nation is a demanding and often lonely business and Lady Washington is unable to persuade her husband to give up his public ‘duty’.

At least she has help. Oney Judge is her ‘personal servant’ – and soon-to-be confidante. Oney is a ‘quadroon’ – three parts white and one part black. So, unlike the white people who so recently gained their independence from the Mother Country, Oney is not free. She is Lady Washington’s inherited property, though the word ‘slave’ is never spoken. Oney works in “the big house” at Mount Vernon, sewing dresses and serving tea. Lady Washington treats her as well as her own grandchildren. But though she is often mistaken as a Washington relative by visitors, Oney remains in bondage.

In the spring of 1796, Lady Washington tells Oney that she will make her granddaughter Eliza a nice wedding gift. Oney soon discovers this does not mean sewing a negligee or a quilt for a gift. No, it means that she will be the gift.

This is the day that Oney decides to escape – to put her forced bondage behind her and make her bid for freedom. On May 21, 1796, Oney walks straight past the Washingtons and out the front door. Although they make several attempts to capture her, she lives the rest of her life in freedom.

Diana Rubino’s Oney: My Escape From Slavery is a painstakingly re-imagined account of a true and painful story told generations on. At its heart is the paradox of liberty – for an individual, for a race, for a nation. In a modern world where cultures and histories collide, it is a timely reminder of perspectives on ‘slavery’ and ‘freedom’ that we may have become blind to. It is a big, strong, uplifting book with a soul.

About the Authors

Diana writes about folks who shook things up. Her passion for history and travel has taken her to every locale of her stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. Her urban fantasy romance FAKIN’ IT won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. When not writing, she runs CostPro, Inc., an engineering business, with her husband Chris. In her spare time, Diana bicycles, golfs, plays her piano and devours books of any genre. She spends as much time as possible just livin’ the dream on her beloved Cape Cod. You can find out more about her on her website.

Piper Huguley is a two-time Golden Heart ®finalist and is the author of the “Home to Milford College” series. The series follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. Book #1 in the series, The Preacher’s Promise was named a top ten Historical Romance in Publisher’s Weekly by the esteemed historical romance author, Beverly Jenkins and received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Contest of Self-Published e-books in 2015.

Her new series “Born to Win Men” starts with A Champion’s Heart as Book #1. A Champion’s Heart was named by Sarah MacLean of The Washington Post as a best romance novel selection for December 2016.

She blogs about the history behind her novels on her website. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

You can purchase Oney: My Escape from Slavery on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – Taiwo I. Ajao

Author Taiwo I. Ajao is on a virtual book  for Adunni Dares to Dream.


Whenever Adunni brought up the idea of school, somehow Mama found a way to end it. Despite the fact that she was illiterate, Mama was sharp, hardworking and very resourceful with money. Mama had married young, as was common in the culture, and she started to bear children as a teenager. It was unfortunate, however, that she experienced the loss of many of those children during childbirth. Only Adunni and her sister had survived, and Adunni wondered often about what she could have done to save those who hadn’t made it. Adunni was tearful as she remembered how her mother had nearly died last year during childbirth. Was every girl expected to get married and have children, even if it killed her? Adunni didn’t want to be like other girls: she wanted to be great! Adunni believed that to be great, she must be smart and be able to read, and learn great things.

Book Blurb

Adunni Dares to Dream is the true tale of a poor African girl who just wanted to go to school. Although she was a part of a very hardworking family, Adunni just could not have the finer things in life, like school, books, & literacy. In her culture, girls were just expected to look pretty, get married and have children. But Adunni wished for something more.

As Adunni dares to dream , she inspires many others to dream too, including a handsome young man who couldn’t stop dreaming about her! So Adunni has choices to make. Does she give in to her society’s expectations? Does she chose the status quo? What are Adunni’s dreams and where do her dreams take her?

About the Author/Illustrator

The Dr. Ajaos are a husband-wife, doctor-nurse team who have a joint passion for health literacy, preventative healthcare, and education for at-risk groups in the Global setting. Mrs. Taiwo I Ajao, the Author, is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health, while Dr. ‘Wale Ajao, the Illustrator, is an internationally-trained medical doctor with a Master’s of Arts in Communications & Producing for Film and Video. Together, The DrAjaos intend to address health literacy via it’s most fundamental forms: using the arts of writing, entertainment, and communication to educate children and their parents. Adunni Dares to Dream is the beginning of a beautiful merger of not just a celebration of educational achievement, but also of Faith, Hope, Love and Miracles.

You can find out more on their website.

Or check out Adunni Dares to Dream on Amazon


Today’s Featured Author – Chinadu Enechi

Today, author Chinadu Enechi stops by my blog. His debut novel, Ifechidere, came out in November.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a social person, very determined and ambitious.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Nsukka and I grew up in Onitsha. They’re both in Nigeria. Anywhere I have family, including my brothers and sister, is home to me.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My late mother Mrs Josephine Nebechi Enechi was my inspiration.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After I wrote my first novel titled “Wise ones never Loose”, my father then gave it to a friend who was then an English Lecturer in their school to edit but then said man disappeared with the book because of that, my mum swore to promote my writing career and she was there till she died.

How much of yourself, your personality or experience, is in your books.

A couple of the characters in my books have my personality. What I write mostly contains my experiences of experiences of those around me. In fact, the story of “Ifechidere” is mainly based on my mother’s life.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes, I actually have two projects I am currently working on.

One is about a young man who married an older woman and how he was antagonized for it, by his father, his family and even her family. A man marrying an older woman is frowned upon in Nigeria and this story offers view points of why it is so, and how some people navigate that problem.

The second story is about a young man whose love turned sour, after his poor parents visited his girlfriend’s family. The girlfriend was pregnant …

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
The best is that I can let people know my thoughts and feelings on some things, as well as inform them about some current events or facts.

The worst is the criticism from people who get upset that I am writing a particular thing, because of their bias.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

My family, friends and my dream of being a successful writer whose work is enjoyed by fans.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My plot ideas are a combination of my experiences, experiences of people around me, stories heard and sometimes figment of my imagination.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Sometimes, I do; sometimes, I don’t.

Book Blurb

ifechidere-coverThe loss of both her parents, even before she is old enough to speak, appears to pre-determine Ifechidere’s life. She is made to toil from dusk to dawn.

Yet, Ifechidere is no modern-day Cinderella, as she finds that faith in the will to survive, which is stronger than any absentee fairy godmother, will propel her to find herself. And it’ll lead her to the thing that was always meant to be

About the Author

Chinedu Enechi is a Philosophy graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and an MA student of Political and Social Philosophy at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. His hobbies include cooking, reading, watching movies and hanging out with friends.

You can purchase Ifechidere on Amazon US, Amazon UK (and all other Amazon affiliates – simply search by author name or book), Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, ITunes, Kobo and Okadabooks.

Today’s Featured Author – Carmel McMurdo Audsley

Please welcome author Carmel McMurdo Audsley to my blog. Her latest historical novel, The Undertaker, came out in October 2015.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have worked as a Journalist, Author, Editor and Theatre Reviewer in Brisbane, Australia for over 30 years and retired from full-time work at a newspaper a few years ago.  I say ‘retired’ but I have never stopped working.  I created a magazine and then started researching my first novel which was published in 2012.  My fourth novel The Undertaker has just been released.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

All of my books have a strong female lead character – I couldn’t write them any other way.  They are quite like me in that they don’t take no for an answer and are always trying to find solutions to problems.  In The Undertaker the main character Kate would love to study medicine but in Edinburgh Scotland in 1858 women are not admitted to the prestigious School of Medicine.  She is just 23 years old, and inherits her father’s undertaking business, and while most girls her age are only interested in finding a suitable husband, Kate is more interested in studying anatomy with a young male doctor she has befriended.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

My next novel will be set in Scotland and Australia.  A rather well-to-do young woman (another strong female) inadvertently gets transported to Australia in the 1800s.  She tries to help the many women from poor backgrounds who have turned to prostitution to survive.  She falls in love with an Aboriginal man and has a child.  I can’t say too much more, but she eventually returns to Scotland.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like?

I write every day.  Each book takes months of research, writing and editing and so after nine months gestation a new book is born.  After the book has been published I get very involved in the marketing as well, so really each books takes about a year to get into the marketplace.  I begin each day by checking and answering my emails.  I always reply to emails received from readers.  It’s a great joy to be in touch with someone who has taken the time to buy and read my book and then write to me.  After breakfast and a bit of tidying up, I drink a lot of tea and get on with researching or writing my book.  Because I write historical fiction, it is important that the details are correct, so I spend a lot of time checking and cross-checking facts.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Most of the writing advice I received was when I was at university studying to be a Journalist, and also from Editors at newspapers and magazines.  The advice was always ‘keep it tight’ and those three little words really say it all.  You can apply that advice to any type of writing.  In the interests of keeping your reader engaged, don’t waffle, don’t give too much description and don’t go off on too many tangents – keep it tight.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I always write an outline for each book so that I have a roadmap for where I’m going.  That doesn’t mean that I won’t take a few twists and turns to get to the destination.  You have to be prepared to allow the characters and story guide you.  I view writing a book a bit like an extended holiday.  You have an approximate idea of when you will reach your journey and how you will get there, but if you find something interesting along the way, give yourself time to explore it.  Sometimes a character will do or say something that leads to a new idea and so long as it flows with the rest of the story, I go with the flow.

Please tell us about your current release.

My latest book is The Undertaker.  It is set in Edinburgh in 1858 and tells the story of a young woman, Kate Grainger, who inherits her father’s undertaking business.  Not only is it not expected that she will continue with the business, but Kate suspects that the first client on her watch has been murdered and she sets out to find the killer.  Even though a lot of the story is set in an undertaker’s office, there is also some humour and she takes off on lots of adventures as she digs into the background of her suspected killer.

What inspired you to write this book and how did you come up with the title?

All of my books are set in Scotland and I love researching period stories.  There were some very intelligent, educated and creative women living in that period of course, but history is dominated by the achievements of men.  I wanted to create a strong character who was rather unpredictable in her approach to life.  I also wanted to introduce the theme of someone who could communicate with those in the after-life and Kate has that ability.  The name – The Undertaker – has several meanings.  Obviously, she is an undertaker by profession, she undertakes to solve murder mysteries and she is able to take people under by using hypnosis.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I researched how people lived in 1858 in Edinburgh and incorporated actual events such as an encounter Kate has with a little dog, known locally (and now across the world) as Greyfriar’s Bobby.  When the little dog’s master died, he stayed by his graveside for many years.  The canon would fire at Edinburgh Castle at one o’clock each day and the little dog would trot off for his only meal at a local coffee house that he used to frequent with his master.  I also discovered that there is an area in Edinburgh known at The Vaults – underground caverns that were originally built for merchants to store their goods, but which became home to an assortment of unsavoury characters so of course Kate goes down into The Vaults.  I also had to research poisons and how they killed people.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I would be Kate from The Undertaker, for sure.  She is so self-confident and fearless.  I would also be Mary from Ours, Yours and Mines.  Mary is actually my great-great-grandmother.  She gave birth to eight children and buried seven of them, mostly from tuberculosis.  She was a very strong woman and I don’t know how she found the strength to carry on.  I would also be Marion from Faeries, Farms and Folk.  She lived in the 1700s in Scotland and was publicly mocked by the church because she became pregnant before marriage.  She also befriended an old woman who was treated as a witch, so she wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in.

Book Blurb

The UndertakerIn 1858 in Edinburgh Scotland, a 23-year-old woman named Kate Grainger inherits her father’s undertaking business.  It is a time when not much is expected of women, other than to be wives and mothers, and Kate wants to be neither.  She wants to be a doctor but women are not allowed to enter the prestigious Edinburgh School of Medicine.  She has a male friend, James, who is a doctor – he is smitten with her and wants to marry her, but she has made it clear that she has no such intentions.  She spends a lot of time with him looking through his medical books to learn all that she can.  She has drive and ambition – and a special gift.  Kate can communicate with people who have passed over.  She had, what her father thought, was an imaginary friend when she was a child, but her companion was the spirit of a little girl who had died in the Great Fire of Edinburgh.  When Kate discovers that her first client at Grainger Undertakers has been murdered, she sets out on a journey that takes her deep into Edinburgh’s underground and into the spirit world to catch a serial killer.

About the Author

Carmel AudsleyThis is author Carmel McMurdo Audsley’s first foray into the world of crime fiction writing.  Her three previous novels, all set in Scotland and based upon her family history, received glowing reviews from readers around the world.  The Undertaker continues the theme of strong women who forge on against the odds to do what they feel is right.  The author has researched life in Edinburgh Scotland in 1858 to take readers on a journey with the protagonist Kate as she walks the cobbled streets of the city, prepares the dead for their final journey and meets with people from all walks of life.  As with her three previous novels – Ours, Yours and Mines; Far Across the Sea and Faeries, Farms and Folk – the writer takes readers through a door into the past.

You can find out more about Carmel on her website.

You can purchase The Undertaker on Amazon or check out additional reviews here.

Today’s Featured Author – Inge H. Borg

Today I welcome Author Inge H. Borg to my blog where she is going to reveal the cover to her upcoming release, The Nile Conspiracy.

Cover Reveal

The Nile Conspiracy

(Book 5 – Legends of the Winged Scarab)

by Inge H. Borg 

Nile-BLUE -No Sub=1739x2509


Imagine the mighty Nile running dry due to human interference. Impossible? Only too soon, this very threat may become a devastating reality.

Riveting adventure and international intrigue find Naunet and Jonathan Wilkins back in Egypt where the completion of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam portends a catastrophe of biblical proportions.

Amidst their struggle to save an ancient site, the archaeologists are caught up in a dangerous conspiracy. Their explorations become a death trap when the desperate Egyptians decide to turn a huge secret underground labyrinth into an emergency reservoir.

Will the combined recklessness of two governments explode into the annihilation of its people?

In The Nile Conspiracy, several characters, good and evil, from the preceding books of the series are once again pitted against each other, the elements, and time.

Borg captures the struggles of an economically depressed Egypt by skillfully combining the challenges of her post-apocalyptic world with the awe-inspiring legends of an ancient culture.

One can only hope that the terrifying events in this novel remain a figment of Borg’s imagination.

Books 1 – 4 of the Legends of the Winged Scarab

New 4-Book Masthead-Small

About the Author

Inge H. Borg, AuthorBorn and raised in Austria, Inge H. Borg left home at eighteen to study languages in London, Paris and Moscow. A job transfer from Vienna to Chicago led to becoming a US citizen in San Diego.

She now lives in a quiet lake community in Arkansas with her two rescued Maine Coon cats, devoting most of her time to writing.

So far, her “Legends of the Winged Scarab” series has four volumes with the fifth, “The Nile Conspiracy” to be published in December. In this series, she combines the myths of Ancient Egypt with modern action, adventure and suspense during the Arab Spring.

Other books include Shadow Love, an intriguing novella about love, loss, and dreams and two short parodies on that thing called love.

And then there is Pasha, From Animal Shelter to A Sheltered Life, an account of shelter animals and their rescues (more of a love letter to her cat, really).

As a staunch supporter of her Indie-writer colleagues, Borg frequently highlights their books on her two blogs: and (for writers and their pets)

You can find Inge’s books on Amazon.  And you can read an excerpt of The Nile Conspiracy here.




Today’s Featured Author: Michael Brown

Today, I am honored to have author Michael Brown on my blog. Below is an excerpt from his novel, William & Lucy: A Tale of Suspicion and Love.



A light breeze blew a curl free from under Lucy’s hat; it landed on her nose.  She brushed the errant tendril away, but when it rebelliously returned, she impatiently tucked it up under the brim, and pulled the hat down with more vigor than was necessary. Why was she so upset?  Perhaps it was the Squire’s lewd behavior that rankled her, forcing her to come to grips with her dangerous, untenable living situation. Then, there was the stranger; ever since their chaotic meeting, her emotions had run amok, as if they belonged to someone else entirely.  Or, she reasoned, perhaps her unsettled state was caused by the aftermath of her seizure and the loss of her most dear possession—dear in both senses of the word; she wouldn’t be able to afford to replace her father’s paintbrush with a new one of similar quality.

“I hope I’m not interrupting,” said a deep voice behind her.

She jumped and turned.  The stranger!  Where had he come from? 

“Sorry.  I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Lucy’s hands fluttered up to touch the small plasters affixed to her temples.  She must look so ridiculous!  She felt her cheeks flush.  Why was she blushing like an adolescent?  Aware she had been staring at him, she lowered her eyes.  “Sir, I didn’t hear you approach.”

“Forgive me,” he said. “My big feet usually announce my arrival.  My sister says I walk like a Clydesdale.”

Lucy hadn’t noticed the soft, melodious tone of his voice before.  “I … I was so involved in painting, I didn’t hear you.”

“I understand.  I’m the same way when I’m writing.”

“Oh, your journal!” she said, suddenly recalling his loss.  “It must have been ruined.  I am so sorry.”

“Fortunately my sister had made a copy of my work, although I didn’t know it at the time.  Please accept an apology for my rude behavior.”  He leaned an ornately carved walking stick against his thigh, and reached a long and graceful hand into his satchel.  “Somehow, this found its way into my bag.”  He withdrew her paintbrush!

Lucy’s heart skipped a beat.  Losing all sense of propriety she rushed to him and took her father’s gift carefully from his hands.  “Oh, thank you.  Thank you!”

She felt his eyes upon her.  Lifting her gaze to his, she was startled to feel a thrill once again shoot through her.  She could neither resist nor explain the phenomenon.  Who is this man?  She wanted to know more, but her tongue wouldn’t move.  Her gaze fell to the brush in her hands.

She heard herself saying, “Sir, this paintbrush means much to me.”  Her deep blue irises darted up as she suddenly remembered another of the previous day’s mishaps.  “Your trousers!  I am so sorry.  They were ruined, I’m sure.”

“It matters not.  I didn’t care for them anyway.”

“Oh, but the unkind way we laughed at your misfortune.”  She smiled at the memory.

“It’s nothing, really,” he said with a shrug.  “I laugh, myself, whenever I think about it.  I must have been quite a sight.”

His eyes focused on her.  Yes, they were amber and so warm … so sensitive!

Lucy was suddenly aware he was speaking, “ … sometimes, I believe, accidents are not always what they appear to be.”

She caught her breath.  He was suggesting that their meeting was somehow an act of fate.  She noticed that he was smiling at her, a little too broadly, but charmingly, she had to admit.

“My name is William Wordsworth.  I live not far from here, at Alfoxden House.  If you don’t mind my asking … .”

It took her a moment to realize he had paused so that she might offer her introduction.  “I am governess to Squire Hawkins’ children,” she said with a nod to the manor house on the hill.  “I am Lucy Sims.”


Lucy’s pulse jumped.  Was he referring to her … or to her name?

“Emily, it’s the trespasser!” Henry shouted.  He and his sister, having left the glen, were climbing the hill.

Lucy noticed William turn toward the children disparagingly.  He swung his satchel over his shoulder and lifted the walking stick.  “I’d best be off before I’m trampled again.  Are you here often, Miss Sims?”

Momentarily taken aback by William’s obviously forward question, she wondered:  How she could answer without seeming too anxious?   While struggling to find a decorous reply, she realized he was a moment away from walking out of her life.  She overcame her reticence.  “I might be here a small part of every day.”

“Are you ever free of feral companions?”

She found herself nodding.  “Only when the family’s at church.”

“Then I shall see you Sunday morning.  Good day, Miss Lucy Sims.”

Before she could respond, he had already turned, and was walking briskly down the opposite side of the hill.  She watched after him with a feeling of dismay.  How could she meet with a perfect stranger?  She had never done anything like this before in her life.  Well, perhaps it wasn’t so scandalous; after all they had met once before, even if it had been under rather unconventional and trying circumstances.  A smile slowly appeared.  What if fate did have something to do with their meeting?  She recalled his name: William Wordsworth … a solid sounding name … very respectable.  But she didn’t know who he was, or what he didShe mulled this over.  Would she really see him on Sunday? 

Book Description

William&Lucy_Cover FinalIt’s 1798. England is at war with France as 28 year old William Wordsworth meets 17 year old Lucy Sims. They fall into a love burdened by social prejudice, crushing debt and dangerous rumors that threaten to send Wordsworth to the gallows for being a French spy. Meanwhile, Lucy’s employer plans to seduce her and make her his mistress. William and Lucy’s relationship hangs in the balance, until fate steps in and … their love becomes part of literary history. One of the most romantic poems in the history of English literature ‘She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways’ was written by William Wordsworth. The subject of his poem was a young woman named Lucy—she is one of literary history’s most enduring mysteries. Who was Lucy? Where did she come from? Did she ever exist? No one knows. This is their story.

About the Author

michaelbrownAn acclaimed film editor, Michael Brown has won three Emmy Awards, an ACE Eddie Award and a Lifetime Career Achievement Award for feature and TV work. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America. As a TV writer, his credits include “CPO Sharkey” (NBC), “Brothers and Sisters” (NBC), “A.E.S. Hudson Street” (ABC), “Three for the Road” (CBS) and “Piper’s Pets” (NBC pilot). He lives in Chatsworth, California with his wife, Holly. William & Lucy is his first novel.

You can purchase William & Lucy on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and other e-book retailers.

Today’s Featured Author: Jerry Soffer

Today I am excited to feature author Jerry Soffer on my blog.

An excerpt of his novel, the shadow of Xeno’s eye, is included below but first let’s find out a little more about Jerry.  

Author Interview:

1.  Please tell us about your current release.

the shadow of Xeno’s eye tells the Trojan war saga as a parable of the U.S invasion of Iraq. It’s consistent with every detail of The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, related Greek myths, Greek tragedies, and the geography of Greece and Troy, but it reveals the many parallels between the two wars, though they were 3,200 years apart.

Xeno, the narrator, was conscripted into the Greek coalition force off a merchant vessel as it brought supplies to Troy. He became a merchant seaman to escape his grim life in a fishing village in Ithaca, a past that leads him to see the dark underbelly of things around him. We first meet him inside the Trojan horse. During the sack of Troy and its aftermath, he learns that the war was fought to make Troy a Greek base on the Dardanelles so Greece could control access to the Black Sea. “Helen of Troy” had nothing to do with the cause of the war, but was used as a fraudulent excuse; she was an ancient arsenal of non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Both wars were really fought over natural resources (we really wanted Iraq’s oil) and both used false justifications to sway emotions and conceal their true purposes.. In the end, Greece, like the USA, can’t sustain its presence, and warring local elements overrun the territory. Xeno embeds with a tribe of local fishermen, becoming the last Greek soldier. In both wars, a western superpower invades asia with “shock and awe,” but both war efforts bog down into a decade of inconclusive slaughter. Our iconic myths and images aren’t what they seem: they never were.

2.  What inspired you to write this book?

Several years before we invaded Iraq, I saw a PBS documentary on the Trojan War, which examined history and various archeological sites to see if there was evidence that the Trojan War was really fought as the myths describe. The evidence was inconclusive. I looked at a globe and became more skeptical. When the Iraq war broke out, I re-read an obscure section of the Iliad that summed up the forces of both armies. Both armies were coalitions of different countries (city-states) and, hidden in the poetic language, was a startling fact: Even though the supposed purpose of the war was to rescue Helen, queen of Sparta, Agamemnon, the King of Corinth, bankrolled a major part of the coalition, and sacrificed the life of his daughter just to get a win that would bring the Greek fleet over to Troy. In other words, the Iliad contains a hidden clue that its own story is a lie. I started to write a short story, but Xeno is a young adult male who didn’t always do what I wanted him to do. He and the story got away from me, and I ended up writing a long historical novel.

3.  How did you come up with the title?

I couldn’t think of a title that I or anyone else liked. After the manuscript was done, my wife and I were at a restaurant with friends, and I was telling them about the book and my difficulties with the title. They started suggesting titles, none of which I liked, but the conversation stimulated my thoughts, and I came up with “the shadow of Xeno’s eye” while we waited for dessert.

4.  What kind of research did you do for this book?

I ended up doing exhaustive research as the short story spiraled into a novel. I re-read the Iliad and the first part of the Aeneid, reviewed the Odyssey, researched all the satellite myths (Iphigenia, Clytemnestra, the Laocoon Priests, etc.) read pertinent Greek tragedies (these’s a scene from Euripides’ Trojan Women, as seen through Xeno’s eyes) and studied the geography of ancient Greece and the Dardanelles (the area in what is now western Turkey where Troy once stood), including prevailing weather, wind, and tidal patterns around Troy.

5.  Which of your characters is your favorite? 

Xeno, my protagonist and narrator, is my favorite character, and the one most like me. That stands to reason, because I tell the story through his eyes and with his voice. The horrible things that happened to him when he was growing up didn’t happen to me, and I was never a soldier, but my odd-ball personality and innate wariness come out in him. The term “xeno” is a prefix referring to an outside object, something that doesn’t belong or fit in. That’s him. That’s me.

I tried to make other characters like Iraq War figures. Agamemnon was portrayed as a jerk in the Iliad, and I made him like Pres. Bush 43. He even says ”Mission accomplished” and “They’ll welcome us as liberators.” He’s a neocon. Odysseus is the greatest con artist, schemer, and manipulator of all time, Bernie Maddoff and Carl Rove rolled into one.

The excerpt is the book’s opening, with Xeno and the other volunteers at the breaking point, after almost twenty four hours in the horse.


No! No! This is not music- flies buzzing, vomit, the slaughter of goats, they speak wretch and sing pig squeal, stink turned to sound, and our own people lie to us about what they don’t know and do, leading us blind up here into our own filth.

Sit and wait.

Sit and wait.

The Old Man nods to himself like he knows what’s out there. He don’t know shit, he thinks we’ll panic, panic after all this- well, yeah, it’s close, and it’ll be on him if we do, he’s the reason we’re here. Him.  Who else could tell us this shit and not sound crazy? So he has that sly smile and I don’t know if anyone believes him any more but we’re scared so he might fool us or make us fool ourselves and he knows he’s working us both ways, maybe that’s why he’s smiling. I’m wondering if our own stink will seep through and betray us, but he won’t worry himself about that, he already turned away his face like he’s too good for it, so we sit and wait, sit and wait.

Back when we loaded in, yesterday, last night, I forgot already, he talked like we were kids: empty your bowels, sit down, be still. The rags they put on us to muffle noise made us look like swaddled babies and he tried to be serious but couldn’t help laughing. Mitri can fart at will and he put his thumb in his mouth and cut a ripe one while he shook his feet in the air; he sounded like those pigs outside. The Old Man slapped Mitri’s helmet but the rags softened it and Mitri didn’t even know he’d been hit. He put his helmet back, thinking his own blast moved it, waving the air away from his face. It made us all laugh, even Old Graybeard, but now I wonder if the Old Man hadn’t set it all up to relax us before we locked in. Sometimes he thought of everything; sometimes. He’d kept food from us all that day, but by now we were too scared to shit. Good thing, that; it smelled enough in here.

He played us again, we just didn’t see it then. He lay back droopy-eyed against the planks, sighed, drew his knife slow like he had nothing to do, and blinked as he looked at it like he’s fighting off sleep, making himself stay awake as he checked the blade for dings. He wiped it clean and sheathed it, real slow so there’s no scraping sound, like they’d hear anything out there. His eyes drooped but he caught himself and motioned us to check our own knives. We did, and  damn if I didn’t start to feel tired. I couldn’t have been alone. Who’d blame us after all this? He had this fatherly look on his face, still laid back,  and he motioned for us to do the same, slow and lazy, and we did. I still watched him, I don’t know why. His eyes looked like he was thinking about something but they got loose and looked straight ahead, real loose, and then they closed. Then they opened, not with a start but like it didn’t matter. He looked around at us, started to fade again, and shrugged like there was no point keeping himself awake, and I’m thinking he may be right, and I couldn’t have been alone in that either. What could we do? Sit and wait; lay back and relax. A stillness settled in, the squall outside faded, and rest weighed on my eyes. I couldn’t tell when stillness changed to dreams:

The fire dims; Gramps slumps against the wall like his bones fell and pulled the rest of him along. Soup-faced, jaw dangling one way, tongue another, only his eyes show life. He’s talking to my father but one of those eyes strays over and looks at me. I’m too scared to squirm away. His hand tremor stops and he raises one into a crook-fingered boat hook, trying to rasp out words. The wheeze takes form:

“His own girl … He … He murdered his own … girl … for a wind.”

Anger and the wine, sap his strength and he folds himself back to the wall, teeth jutting out here and there like javelins in the sand. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead. He scares me either way.

Author Bio

I’m coming up on 66 years of age, and have been retired for a little more than three years. I was a criminal defense attorney for thirty five years, and loved it for most of that time, but it’s very stressful, and not really for old folks; towards the end, I was ready to go. I have a law degree from Rutgers Law School, and a Masters degree from the Rutgers Graduate School of Criminal Justice. I live with my wife (who’s also an attorney, but still working) in Maplewood, New Jersey. We’ve been married for thirty one years, and have grown twin daughters who are twenty seven. One is a senior project manager working in Manhattan, the other just graduated law school, and will work for a major law firm that’s also in Manhattan.

This is my first novel. After years in court arguing motions, appeals, and especially addressing juries, I realized I was a storyteller, a narrator of events and possibilities. I sketched various ideas for short stories, and liked this one the best, because it was timely and topical. However, the story, and Xeno as a character, got away from me, and “shadow” turned into a novel. I spend too much time trying to promote this book, and would like to spend more time writing my next book, which also uses a well known myth as a vehicle for telling several stories at once.

the shadow of Xeno’s eye can be purchased either at Smashwords or Amazon.