BY J KAHELE
Across The Pond by Michael McCormick is the story of a young American who fights for his country during the war in Vietnam, only to be rejected when he returns home. The author, based the book on his personal experience as an infantry squad leader who served in combat. In the foreword for the book, author Ron Kovic wrote, “This little book grips the reader from the very beginning and does not let go.”
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Michael McCormick is the author of Across The Pond. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps just out of high school at the age of 17. Soon after, he found himself in battle in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. He was nearly killed on several occasions, but managed to survive and return home at age 19. After the war, Michael earned his B.A. in psychology and his M.A. in clinical psychology. He lives in Oakland, California with his wife Gina. You can contact him at: email@example.com.
Across the Pond: An emotional story of a young soldier in the Vietnam War
“Across the Pond” by Michael McCormick is not just another book about the Vietnam War. The author puts us in the shoes of Shawn McBride, known as Mac, an enlisted man in the U.S. Marine Corps. We get a first-hand account of what it was like to actually be there.
Not enough has been written in book form about this particular war, as very few, if any, veterans are willing to tell their tale. Students of all ages could benefit greatly from this short readable story.
Heart-wrenching moments when a soldier cannot tell if a boy is just a child or Vietcong, are almost unbearable. And some of the violence and inhumanity are hard to take. But, this is a story that needs to be told and is well worth the read.
The book begins in the heat of war in Vietnam and takes us through the first chapters detailing what happens to Mac. A quick flashback to the family farm reminds the reader of how simple life can be. As dangerous as farm work is, it is a world away from the jungles and rice paddies of the front.
Mac was a driven young man and yearned to get out into the world. So much so that he signed up with the Marines just for a chance to “cross the pond,” known as the Pacific Ocean and do his part in Vietnam.
Anyone with a father, grandfather, brother, or other loved one who served in Vietnam would enjoy this book.
The background of the author adds much weight to this tale. Like the protagonist, he also served in Vietnam and hailed from rural Ohio. Michael McCormick also earned a Purple Heart and a Silver Star Medal at the ripe old age of nineteen upon returning home.
All this is packed into an easily readable 54 pages. The tale will make the reader experience a range of emotions, but likely reduce any feeling person to tears by the end.
McCormick literally takes us to hell and back in this book. Readers will live and breathe this war as a shared nightmare. The detailed storytelling puts a genuine human touch on the events that occurred, making this a very important read.
“I think war is a crime, if you don’t believe me, ask the infantry, ask the dead.”
“With this work, McCormick takes his place among the other important chroniclers of this period.”
“Sean McBride had survived his war in Vietnam. At the age of nineteen, he was about to be decorated with the Silver Star Medal, the third highest military award for gallantry in action.”
“His experience in war had shaped his thinking in unique ways. He knew he was different from other men.”
The author is giving away a paperback copy of ACROSS THE POND to one winner of the Rafflecopter.
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Ataxia is one of those weird conditions; even the effects cannot be fully explained, but it arrived with me slowly when I was around the age of 40. A very easy way of (partly) explaining it is: While walking, my feet will only rarely land on the exact spot my brain tell them to, therefore the brain will attempt to compensate – but how much? In which direction? For how much pressure? So the brain very often gets it wrong too. Walking would normally be in an automatic mode, but I have to concentrate… Also, one of the many side-effects is that much of my memory of my younger life has randomly disappeared and co-ordination is a thing of the past.
Now that’s done with, I’ll talk about my writing. Many years ago I read the classic ‘The Time Machine’ by H. G. Wells and sometime later the early James Hebert books, (‘The Rats’ and other gory stuff), I became hooked and thought, ‘I can do that.’ But I was busy and unfortunately it became ‘mañana thing,’ then the Ataxia arrived – forcing a stop to my work, (at the time I was a photographer) and suddenly my ‘tomorrow’ came! I tried other work before accepting early retirement. While typing from a seated position (!) it took a long time to write a book with a one fingered style of typing (the co-ordination required in typing loss was almost immediate), to explain: My left hand forefinger clicks all the digits – except one – my right hand forefinger hovers over the capitalization button, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, like a coiled spring!
The aim in my writing was to produce a new style, featuring an everyday item having a totally unrelated result of unpredictability. My book “A Disturbance in Time” spilled out of me at an exciting rate and gives a new slant on time travel – without it being the main subject of the book. The foremost character is Elizabeth and the story is telling how her fate twists and unravels in an entirely unexpected way. All three main characters have an inner strength, but their slight vulnerability turn them from book characters to real people, adding a lot of warmth to the unpredictable story.
In this disturbing, exhilarating debut novel, three apparently unconnected events and places are all mysteriously bound up across time and space… In 1668, in an isolated community in the wilds of Exmoor, a poor peasant family is terrorized by a crazed witchfinder. More than three-hundred years later, the crew of HMS Leopard welcome on board two distraught young girls, the survivors of a shipwreck off the coast of East Africa. And at the beginning of the new millennium three geeky lads build an experimental computer (during their summer school holiday), and end up with much more than they bargained for. Part fantasy, part thriller, this is a powerful novel that asks profound questions about the nature of destiny and responsibility, power and love.
How do you get along with your parents?
I’d like to say well, but the truth is they don’t really know who I am anymore, and I can’t risk telling them.
My mom treats me more or less like I might break at any moment. That’s understandable, since four years ago my parents thought I had a breakdown. I can’t tell them that what really happened was that I started to remember all of my past lives, and it took me awhile regain control over that flood of hundreds of years’ worth of memories. She thinks I’m more fragile than I am, that I might flip out again at any moment. Unfortunately, if I told her the truth, she’d be sure I’d already flipped out.
As for my dad, he can’t figure out why I’m different now. He noticed that my interests had changed after I came back from the hospital, but he wants things to go back to the way they were before. That isn’t going to happen, of course, but I can’t explain why. We’re just stuck in a perpetual state of uneasy denial, and there is no obvious way to get out of it.
With all of those problems with your parents, is there anyone you can rely on for support?
Stan is the only friend who didn’t more or less abandon me after the “breakdown.” Actually, he stayed at the hospital all the time, except when his mother ordered him home. Otherwise, nobody could have pried him out with a crowbar. He would support me if I needed it…well, except for the fact that I can’t tell him who I really am, either. Maybe someday. I’d like to; I just can’t figure out how to break that kind of news, and I have the instinctive feeling that telling anyone would seal my doom. Why I think that I couldn’t tell you, though.
Who do you most want to emulate?
I wish there were someone else in my situation that I could model myself on, but I’m not aware of anyone else in all of human history who has been in the same situation. Sure, every so often someone will claim to remember past lives, but not all of them, and not every detail. Frankly, as far as I can tell, most of the people who make that claim are just looking for attention, anyway. I doubt most of them really remember.
I suppose the only person who comes close in any of my lives is Merlin. He didn’t have past life personalities floating around in his head, but he did have to deal with being half-demon, which couldn’t have been easy. As I recall, the situation made him kind of a loner, a little bit like me now. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarity between us ends. Over the course of hundreds of lives, I’ve known many people with big problems—King David and Alexander the Great come immediately to mind—but again, they didn’t have to deal with the same situation I’m in, so I’m still stuck.
What do you want from life?
Right now, I’m ready to settle for staying alive until tomorrow. Knowing that someone is trying to kill me but not knowing who it is or how to stop that person—or thing—pretty much dominates my waking life and quite a few of my nightmares.
What do I want if I manage to survive? I don’t know anymore. The magic I have makes me very good with people and with music. I could become a rock star if I wanted to, I guess, but that feels kind of like a kids’ dream now. Of necessity I’ve had to utilize my past life skills to become good with weapons, but I don’t want to make a career out of being a mercenary. I’ve been told I have the potential to become a wizard greater than even Merlin, but to do that, I would have to give up the life I know, and I don’t want to do that. So where does that leave me in terms of future goals? Exactly nowhere.
If you were granted three wishes, what would you ask for?
Eva, Eva, and Eva. She was my girlfriend when I had my “breakdown,” but she drifted away while I was in the hospital. I think the whole experience was too intense for her to handle at that age, but by the time I got out and worked up the courage to talk to her, she was already with someone else and still is. Come to think of it, if I used two of those wishes, one to turn back time four years and the other to keep me from remembering my past lives, I wouldn’t need the third wish because Eva and I would still be together.
The way my life has been working, getting three wishes might actually be a possibility, but there would still be two problems. First, I don’t have any idea why my past life memories came back in the first place. Nothing would prevent the same thing from happening later on in life if I didn’t know how to prevent it. Second, I have no idea who is trying to kill me or why. It could be my secret enemy would have had no interest in me if I had stayed ordinary, or it could be that he or she would have come after me anyway, only as an ordinary guy I would have had no way to defend myself.
In a weird kind of way, maybe my past life memories will be what saves me in the end.
What three things would you take to a desert island?
I suppose if I said Eva, that would make me sound “stalkerish.” Since I can’t guarantee my enemy wouldn’t come after me on the island, I’d have to say White Hilt, my sword, and a couple of musical instruments. My magic is stronger with a little music to help it along.
How do you fall in love? At first sight? Over a long period?
I’ve really only fallen in love once, as you probably have guessed. Eva and I have known each other as long as I can remember. I’m sure exactly when friendship transitioned to love. I think it was in middle school, at least for me. I can’t speak for her.
What parts of loving come easy for you? Hard?
It’s been four years since Eva…well, “broke up,” doesn’t exactly capture the experience, since there was no neat, clean break-up. “Drifted apart” sounds too peaceful. “Ripped apart” might be more accurate. Anyway, loving someone from afar isn’t the same thing as having a relationship, so I can’t really comment—unless you want to talk about past life experiences, and then we would be here all day.
When you walk into a room, what do you notice first? Second?
Since I knew someone wanted to kill me, I make sure I know where all the exits are. Then I scan the room for any unusual things, supernatural or otherwise. Particularly with shape shifters in play, a guy can’t be too careful. Anyone could turn out to be an enemy.
When you walk into a room, what do you expect people to notice about you?
Unless we’re talking about Eva, hopefully as little as possible. Keeping in mind that I need to keep secret who I really am, I try to be as inconspicuous as possible. In fact, I often use a spell that causes people not to notice me. Gliding around town under everybody’s radar may be lonely, but it’s also safer than the alternatives.
Describe yourself to me.
Where do I even start? The physical part is easy. I’m pretty ordinary, actually. I’ve been told girls find me attractive, but given the way I feel about Eva, I haven’t encouraged any other interest, so it’s hard to tell how much there might have been. I’m brown haired, medium height, slender but pretty muscular. (I was always athletic, but the weapons training necessitated my buffing up a little).
A personality description is much harder. There is who I was four years ago: the happy, social, soccer playing, bad musician. Then there is who I am now: the brooding, isolated, secretly sword-swinging, concert quality musician. I guess I liked music either way, but almost everything else is different. Sometimes I think that earlier me is still alive in me somewhere. Other times I fear I am just a compromise among my past life personalities and that who I was supposed to be in this life is pretty much dead. I think I am that person, but I’ve long since lost track.
Did you turn out the way you expected? The way your parents predicted?
Isn’t that kind of obvious? I’m not who anyone expected me to be, myself included. I’m…out of place, sort of like an intruder in my own life. I’d like to say I’m a work in progress. Now, if I just knew what I was progressing toward, that would really be something.
What do you consider are your strengths?
As I’ve said, I’m a pretty awesome musician these days, thanks to the original Taliesin. I’m a better swordsman than he was. I sort of have to be if I want to survive. I’m easily the top of my class in magic…which is my subtle way of reminding you that no one else in my class can do magic. I’m best at manipulating people’s minds, though I only do that when I absolutely have to in order to keep my secret or to protect somebody. No, really! If I ever gave into the temptation to do what I really wanted, I might just enchant Eva into loving me again, and that would be bad…really bad.
What do you consider are your weaknesses?
I feel helpless most of the time. I don’t know who is trying to kill me or how to stop that person—if it even is a person. (There are several other possibilities, some of them pretty nasty.) I don’t really know what to do about most of my problems. I know there must be solutions, but if so, I can’t see them.
I guess part of the problem is that I can’t find a way of moving on, as you must have guessed from the Eva situation. In more than one way, I’m a prisoner of the past.
What is one physical attribute you are proud of? I don’t really know. I’d say ask Eva, but I bet she wouldn’t know what to say either at this point.
What one physical attribute would you change?
I’d like to be even stronger, mostly for survival reasons. I work out as often as I can. I could probably speed up the process with magic, but I’m a little afraid to do that since the original Taliesin left me no experience in that area to guide me. Magic can be powerful, but precisely because of that, it can be dangerous if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.
If you could be an animal, what would it be?
The funny thing about that question is that I actually could be an animal. Celtic spell casters can typically shape shift, and the original Taliesin was certainly no exception, though he didn’t use that ability frequently. Frankly, the whole idea scares me. I’d rather stay in human form. Fewer things can go wrong then.
Bill Hiatt has been teaching English at Beverly Hills High School since 1981. Although teaching has been and remains his first love, he has also been drawn to creative writing of various sorts. From high school on, he wrote short stories, a little poetry, and an earlier novel, finished in 1982. Then the demands of teaching kept Bill away from writing for many years, but the stories within him eventually could not be denied any longer, and Living with Your Past Selves, is his first published novel.
Bill’s ancestors came from a wide variety of European backgrounds, with Celtic groups (Irish, Scottish, Breton, and, as you might guess from this novel, Welsh) being the most well represented. His ancestors settled in America long ago, though, some of them as early as the colonial period. He is a third generation Californian who grew up and still lives in the state.
“The echoes of those scars can clearly be heard in Edge of the Known’s music. But one can also discern, quite distinctly, that other inexplicable thing that is within us all, the undying flame that transcends our wounds and sufferings…”
Brandon Chane had always seen life through the eyes of an outcast, a misfit, a young man at odds with the world and with himself. Now they’re calling him a wounded healer; a shamanic Pied Piper for the throngs of alienated youth; a thief of fire.
He wonders if he and his band can escape the claims that the world has suddenly laid upon them. But what about the cherished dream that he’s struggled so desperately to fulfill, the dream that finally seems to be coming to fruition?
Knowing that I’d be much more capable of getting in touch with my real feelings without a crowd around me, without the tug of their thoughts, expectations and invested conceptions of me, I returned to the grave site later that night. The rain had stopped by then, but there were no stars and the ground was soaked. Janie let me go on ahead at first, so I could be alone with the memory of my father.
Turns out it’s not so difficult for me to speak to a stone plaque, especially when I’m addressing a guy who’d scarcely given me space to finish my sentences during life. “It seems to me now that probably the thing you wanted most towards the end of your life was just forgiveness,” I said. “And I can really relate to that, now that my band’s on the cusp of actually ‘making it’ – whatever that really means. I can see how I’d long carried around this fantasy in my head, that if we were a success then I’d find forgiveness for myself too. If you can just get big enough, this world will forgive you for damn near anything.”
Seth Mullins has been writing since his teens, inspired initially by Stephen R. Donaldson’s eloquent fantasies and later by the jagged poetical reflections of the Beats and the Surrealists and the metaphysical works of Jane Roberts. He studied creative writing at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico and Lane Community College in Oregon. Seth has lived in Maine, Connecticut, New Mexico and Oregon, and currently resides in Vermont.
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Meet J.M. Benjamin; He is a successful, prolific & impacting author hailing from Plainfield, New Jersey. He is also the C.E.O. of A New Quality Publishing as well as an entrepreneur, community activist, mentor and motivational speaker. J.M. spends most of his time traveling worldwide, sharing his redemptive story with places such as schools, juvenile & adult facilities and religious organizations, in hopes of saving and changing lives of others, receiving numerous of accolades and recognition for his efforts.
After serving a substantial amount of time in prison, J.M. was released with a new plan, new direction and new product. His 2006 freshman novel, Down In The Dirty opened doors he never imagined and solidified him as an urban novelist. Since then, he has gone off to pen 10 more tales such as his Essence Best Selling novel series, Ride Or Die Chick, which was recently picked up by Carl Weber’s publishing company, My Manz And ‘Em, which has been adapted into a screenplay by Sundance Film Festival winner, director Alrick Brown, Heaven and Earth, One Way To Heaven and Memoirs Of An Accidental Hustler, to name a few. He is also the co-author of the non-fiction motivational books From Incarceration 2 Incorporation.
In addition, he has contributed to several anthologies with some of Urban Fiction’s top authors. J.M. is known for his impeccable work ethics and his generosity when it comes to guiding and assisting aspiring writers wanting to become published authors. J.M. joined team O.W.L. in 2013 where he intends to demonstrate the highest level of storytelling and book selling with the help of O.W.L. founders Ashley & JaQuavis. J.M. is a proud father and still resides in New Jersey. For more on J.M. Benjamin visit his website below.
I had the idea to write Alabama Skye about five years ago. The main premise of the story has always been the same, although many of the details changed between when I first started writing it and when it was completed. I was writing another novel, my first, when the story for Alabama Skye came to me. I had to put the book on hold for a bit, and many things happened in my personal life that shaped Alabama Skye and made it what it eventually became.
Every single one of the characters in Alabama Skye is special to me in one way or another. The most special, however, is Sarah Guthrie Gannon, the matriarch and heart of the story. She is based on my own grandmother, a wonderful, loving and amazing woman whom I always called Mimi. Like Sarah, Mimi had Alzheimer’s and eventually passed away in May of 2013. Alabama Skye was published just a little over a year later. The book is dedicated to her.
Mimi and Sarah are not really that much alike in character. Sarah is feisty, the belle of the ball, and in her younger years I imagine her to be larger than life. Mimi was not that way, although she was, perhaps, the largest thing in my young life. Mimi was also the reason Cheney, another main character, turned out to be the way she is. Mimi had a fascination with all things Scottish, and traveled to the UK sometime in the ‘80’s. After her return, she had a poster of Eilean Donan castle on Loch Duich framed. It hung in her home for many years, and now it hangs in my office next to a poster for Alabama Skye. I think that Mimi and Cheney would have been very good friends. Mimi probably would have picked up some Gaelic from the Scotswoman while the two of them sat and shared a drink in a pair of Cheney’s beautiful white mugs; Mimi’s cup full of hot black coffee and Cheney’s with fragrant tea. I loved learning about the Isle of Skye and getting to know Cheney as I wrote. She is a complex character and one I feel quite fond of.
Alabama Skye is not autobiographical as some readers believe. There is not much of me in any of the characters, and I don’t have a whole lot in common with any of them save the relationship I shared with Mimi. That is definitely reflected in the relationship between Greer and Sarah. I am also a mother and know how it feels to be committed to your children just as Meara and Greer are committed to theirs. While I love to cook, I am not a successful chef, nor do I drive a sporty little Beetle by the name of Penelope. However, Meara’s book shop, The Cheshire Cat, was based on a store I frequented a lot as a child, and The Alice and Wonderland theme was taken from some favorite childhood memories.
I grew enormously attached to this group of characters. Much to my delight, many of my readers did as well. I have been asked many times if there will be a sequel to Alabama Skye. I thought their stories had been told, but I have, since then, been hearing them whispering quite loudly in my ears. It didn’t take much persuasion to get me to head back to Kelby, Alabama and pick up where I’d left off. In this second book, which is yet untitled, readers will follow Noah as she continues to build her business and finds out that she isn’t exactly who she always thought herself to be. Readers will also travel across the Atlantic and unearth some more secrets that Cheney and Meara’s father, Finlay, left for them to find in a small town in the lowlands of Scotland.
I always welcome feedback and would love to hear from you.
“When tragedy befalls Cheney McGillvray, she decides to pack up and leave her beloved home on Scotland’s Isle of Skye. She travels to the beachfront town of Kelby on Alabama’s gulf coast and appears unannounced on her sister Meara’s doorstep with a plan not only for her own future but also for that of her niece.
Greer, fresh out of culinary school and two months pregnant, takes the advice of her headstrong grandmother Sarah, and agrees to a partnership with her aunt. Together they transform Sarah’s beautiful old home into a proper Scottish B & B right in the heart of America’s southland.
Both women realize the time to face their pasts has arrived in the weeks before they are to open Gannon’s Glen. Cheney finds it difficult to hide the darkness of her past when she begins suffering from debilitating nightmares that bring Greer to her bedside at night and a hurricane sweeps in more than stormy weather. News of the destruction of his childhood home brings Greer’s high school sweetheart and their unresolved relationship back into town. Although they are nearly strangers separated by a forty year age gap, Cheney and Greer lean on one another as they come to terms with their lives and realize the possibilities of their futures.
Sprinkled with humor and colorful descriptions of both the Gulf Coast and that of Scotland’s Inner Hebridean Islands, Alabama Skye is a story about the strength of four generations of women who discover that when things go wrong the ones who stand by you and the ones who carry you are the ones you call family.”
1. A little about yourself. What is unique about you?
In addition to being a writer, I’m a licensed private investigator who runs an investigations company, and, a Martial artist in training. My first career was in the entertainment industry, where, as a singer and bass player, I played night clubs for a living. It was then – not completely at ease on stage, but thoroughly enjoying the music – when I first decided I wanted to write.
2. What is your book about?
HIDDEN DOORS, SECRET ROOMS is a paranormal suspense about a woman who, through no fault of her own, becomes the object of a search and kill mission. Thrust from her comfortable lifestyle, Jillian Braedon finds herself living a nightmare of threats against her life, homelessness, and being at the complete mercy of a stranger, as she and her young daughter attempt to evade those who wish them dead.
3. What inspired your book?
I’ve always loved the paranormal. From the moment when I first read Dean Koontz’s novel, LIGHTNING, I wanted to be able to create a world within our own world, where the traditional rules of nature don’t quite apply.
4. What is the most rewarding part of being an author?
The rewarding part is also one of the most difficult parts: When the story is complete. When the rewrites have been written. When you can read that last page, knowing you gave it your all, and it’s ready to be reviewed by someone else. At that moment, I have such mixed emotions, because it’s also time to leave the characters behind. Having spent so much time getting to know them, it feels like losing a good friend.
5. What has been the most challenging part of being an author?
Writing is an art, it’s something you reach down deep and pull out of your own soul to share with others. Prior to publishing, I’d believed the most challenging aspect would be the critics. When you bare your soul to the world, you simply don’t know how favorably or unfavorably you’ll be received. To publish a book means to ask the world its opinion of your talent, style, voice. I’ve found that the opinions of my readers are not something to dread, rather a good thing to know, because, as a writer, you need to know and understand other perspectives.
What I’ve learned, instead, at least for me, is that promoting is the most challenging part. When a writer talks of his or her first book, it doesn’t hold the same sway as when an unbiased reader touts something he or she just read. So building an audience for that first book can be difficult – finding readers who will take a chance on an unknown.
6. What advice would you give a new author writing their first book?
IF writing is your passion, and IF you truly want this: Don’t give up. Write every single day.
7. Do you have any promotion tips for Indie Authors?
What I found that works best for me is Amazon’s KDP Select programs. They allow you do to a free promo for up to 5 days. It allows the readers the ability to ‘take a chance’ on a new writer.
8. If you could recommend One book for authors to read, what would it be?
Other than my own? Dean Koontz’s LIGHTNING. That story has stayed with me for years. In fact, I think it’s about time I read it again
9. Any final words?
I’d like to thank you for this opportunity. And, recommend HIDDEN DOORS, SECRET ROOMS to anyone who loves paranormal suspense.
10. Write about your passion and promote yourself in 200 words or less.
Books that are character-driven are my favorite. My goal is to create characters so genuine that, when you approach the last page of that final chapter, you feel as though you’re about to leave a part of yourself behind with them.
11. When you finished your novel, did you miss your characters?
When the book was complete, it was a very sad moment. It felt as though I’d lost some of my best friends.
12. While writing, if you need help with grammar, where do you turn?
I have a good friend who is wonderful with grammar. Also, there was one time when I could not remember enough of how to spell a particular word that I couldn’t even find it in the dictionary. It drove me nuts, because it was the “perfect” word and nothing else would do. So, I called my sister, who asked her husband, and he spelled it straightaway. After, I felt like an idiot, because it was a relatively easy word!
13. When you are writing, do you shut off all social networks?
During the actual writing time, I don’t go online and my phone is in silent mode. But it between writing sessions I love the social networks. I’ve made some wonderful friends there and couldn’t imagine my life without them.
14. Do you ask family and friends to read your work before publication?
Yes, but only once it is complete. I’ll ask a few family members and/or a friend, hoping to catch the typos before publication, and hoping for a few opinions from people whose opinions I trust.
15. Where can we go to find more of your work?
HIDDEN DOORS, SECRET ROOMS is my first novel. I do, however, have more that will be coming out in the near future. You can check with my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JAEubanks1