#BookTour “Nunzio’s Way (Book 2 in the Weepers Series)” by Nick Chiarkas

Nunzio's Way by Nick Chiarkas Banner~~~~

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“In this city, you can have anything you want if you kill the right four people.” ~ Nunzio Sabino

In Weepers (Book 1), Angelo and his gang, with a bit of help from his beloved “uncle” Nunzio Sabino, defeated the notorious Satan’s Knights. Now, in this standalone sequel to Weepers, it’s 1960 and Nunzio is still the most powerful organized crime boss in New York City, protecting what’s his with political schemes and ‘business’ deals.

Against this backdrop of Mafia turf wars, local gang battles, and political power-plays in the mayoral election, the bodies begin stacking up. An unlikely assassin arrives fresh from Naples after killing a top member of the Camorra to avenge the murder of her family. She blends seamlessly into the neighborhood and with the focus on the threat from the Satan’s Knights, no one suspects that Angelo’s father and Nunzio are next on her hit list. Nunzio has lived his entire life by the mantra; Be a fox when there are traps and a lion when there are wolves. Will Nunzio be a lion in time?

Praise for Nick Chiarkas:

“Writers are always told, ‘Write what you know.’ Nick Chiarkas knows New York, organized crime, and how to write an engaging story. Nunzio’s Way is gritty and thoroughly gripping.”

John DeDakis, award-winning Novelist and former editor for CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller / Historical

Published by: HenschelHAUS Publishing

Publication Date: October 2022

Number of Pages: 261

ISBN: 978159595-908-6

Series: Weepers, #2

Book Links: Amazon | Kindle Unlimited | Goodreads


Read an excerpt:


For those who have read Weepers a while ago, and for those who have not read Weepers, here is a brief description of Nunzio Sabino, as told by Father Joe to Father Casimiro (Father Cas) in Weepers.


“In 1920… Caffè Fiora was the Baling Hook, a tough bar owned by an ex-longshoreman, Stanley Marco, and his wife Sylvia—who was every bit as tough as Stan. The place was decorated with nets, anchors, and baling hooks hanging all over the walls. It had a long bar and small tables.”

“Sounds charming,” Father Casimiro said sarcastically.

“In a strange way, it was. The booze was good. The food was tolerable. And the dancers were okay—that is, except for one. Fiora Ventosa was a delicate breeze in a cigar-filled room. And when she danced, the room dropped silent. She was sensational.”

“A stripper?”

“Not completely, more burlesque. The dancers would take off this or that but never stripped completely. Each night of the week featured a different dancer. Fiora danced on Tuesday nights. And Nunzio fell in love with her.”

“How old was he?”

“Thirteen. We were all kids about the same age. There were five of us—me, Nunzio, Pompeo—Anna’s father—

George, and Nick. We would sneak in every Tuesday night. Sylvia knew, but let it slide.”

“Did Fiora know how Nunzio—”

“Probably. She would sometimes sit with us after her show. Thinking back, she probably thought it was cute, and compared to the rest of the clientele, we were safe, adoring fans. We would sit there and Nunzio would be transfixed. She was seventeen and Nunzio figured a four-year difference wasn’t that much. So, after watching her dance every Tuesday for seven or eight months, on the third Tuesday in January 1920, Nunzio decided to tell Fiora he wanted to marry her. Seems silly now, but back then…what did we know? Anyway, Nunzio had to work late, so we waited for him and then we beat it over to the Hook.”

Father Casimiro loved these stories. They gave him a history, like he belonged to the neighborhood. “Did he tell her?”

“When we got to the Hook, Stan was shoving everyone out of the place, telling them to go home. Somebody, I don’t know who, said, ‘You kids better not go in there tonight.’ We pushed our way in against everybody leaving. There were several overturned tables and a couple of people standing around looking down.”

“Looking down?” Father Casimiro dodged several kids running along the sidewalk.

“Sylvia was sitting on the floor crying. Fiora was lying on the floor, covered by a large flannel shirt. Her head in Sylvia’s lap. Stan was arguing with a big guy they called the Bear. He was six- foot-six and must have weighed in at over three hundred pounds. He was a foreman on the docks and a neighborhood bully. The Bear stood there in a T-shirt and said to Stan, ‘Don’t you say nothing, you hear me? Nothing.’ Sylvia shouted up at the Bear, ‘You sonofabitch, you killed this little girl.’”

“What? She was dead? He killed her? Why?”

“The drunken Bear wanted to see more skin. He yanked her off the dance floor. She fought and he broke her neck.” Father Joe lit a cigarette and handed the pack to Father Casimiro.

Father Casimiro lit a cigarette and took a long drag. “Poor girl.” Cigarette smoke escaped with the words. He handed the pack back to Father Joe. “Nunzio must have been devastated. You all, just kids, must have been—”

“It was the only time I ever saw Nunzio cry. Ever. It was the most heart-rending, profound sadness I ever witnessed. Nunzio dropped to his knees and touched her face. Meanwhile, the Bear was standing over Sylvia with his two buddies, one on either side of him, and he said to Stan, ‘The girl’s trash; nobody’s gonna miss her. So, you and your wife keep your mouths shut.’ He reached down and grabbed his shirt off Fiora and started to put it on.

He continued, “That was when I noticed that Nunzio was missing. And then I heard the scream. It didn’t sound human. It was pain and fury. It was Nunzio, and he was in midair—he jumped from the top of the bar behind the Bear. In each hand, he gripped a baling hook—he had taken them off the wall. He looked like an eagle screaming in for the kill. The Bear’s arms were halfway in his shirt sleeves when the points of the heavy hooks pierced his deltoid muscles from behind. The hooks hit both shoulders and sunk behind his collarbone.”

“Dear God,” Father Casimiro shivered as he imagined the pain of a thick steel hook sinking into his shoulder muscle.

“The Bear roared and swung from side to side. Nunzio held on tight to the hooks, his legs flying from left to right, back and forth. The Bear’s arms were pinned halfway in his shirt. He kept trying to grab Nunzio’s legs. But with each movement, the hooks sank deeper.”

Father Casimiro was no longer aware of the people pushing past him, some smiling and nodding. The musty beer and sawdust of the Baling Hook filled his senses. He imagined the blood spurting from the hooks, and a thirteen-year-old boy hanging on—fortified by rage. Father Casimiro smoked and listened. “What about the Bear’s friends?”

“The two of them grabbed at Nunzio, and that’s when we—all four of us—jumped in. I was a pretty good boxer by then, and Pompeo was always a strong kid. Nick pulled a knife, and George grabbed another baling hook off the wall. The Bear’s buddies ran out of the place; they weren’t up for the fight. After that, the only ones in the Hook were Stan, Sylvia, the Bear, Fiora, and us. The Bear started spinning and coughing up blood. Nunzio just held on. We were trying to get them apart. But the Bear kept spinning, knocking over tables. And Nunzio was like a cape flying from the Bear’s shoulders.

“Then, finally, the Bear dropped to his knees, straight down, his arms dead, draped at his sides. As the Bear fell forward, Nunzio pulled on the hooks. The Bear growled and then whimpered as his face cracked the wooden floor. All the time, Nunzio held onto the hooks—pulling. He let go when the Bear rolled over on his back—hooks still buried in his shoulders. He looked straight up at Nunzio.”

“He was still alive?” Father Casimiro gasped.

“Only for a moment or two. Nunzio wasn’t finished, but Stan grabbed him and said, ‘He’s gone. You kids get out of here so we can clean up.’ Nunzio never fell in love again.”

“Did she have any family?” Father Casimiro asked, flicking his cigarette into the gutter. “I mean, Fiora.”

“Fiora was fifteen and pregnant with Natale when she arrived in New York from Genoa. The Cherry Street Settlement took her in and after Natale was born, they got her a room with Sylvia and Stan, who hired Fiora to tend bar and dance on Tuesday nights. Fiora Ventosa was born on the third Tuesday in March and seventeen years later died on the third Tuesday in January, and her only family was two- year-old Natale Ventosa. No one ever knew who the father was. Natale was raised by Sylvia and Stan.”

“What about the police and the Bear’s friends?”

“No police—Stan fixed that. But the Bear’s pals came after Nunzio. The five of us were inseparable. Nunzio was, is, a born leader. Battle after battle, victory after victory, we quickly gained a reputation. Eventually other guys wanted to join our gang. By sixteen, Nunzio was the most powerful gang leader in the city. When he was twenty, he bought the Baling Hook.”

“He bought it?”

“Stan had passed away a couple of years earlier, so Nunzio turned it into a pretty good restaurant—no dancing—and re-named it Caffè Fiora. He sent Sylvia money every month to cover Natale’s financial needs. He paid Sylvia more than she ever dreamed to run the restaurant. When Sylvia died in ’51, Nunzio gave the restaurant to Natale.”

“So, you became a priest to …”

“The battles we won were hard fought and people were killed. We all…I killed,” Father Joe confessed. “At nineteen, I decided to become a priest and devote my life to saving as many kids in these neighborhoods as I could in return for God’s forgiveness. We have an uneasy relationship—I’m certain God doesn’t always agree with my methods, and I have some questions for Him as well. But I’m sticking to the deal.”

“What about the other kids? Did they stay in the gang?”

“No. Pompeo is a foreman at the meat market, Nick became a cop, and George is a foreman on the docks. But on the third Tuesday of each month, the five of us go back there, just like when we were thirteen, but now it’s the Caffè Fiora—and we play poker in the back room and talk about how fast time passes.”

“Does Natale know?”

“Sylvia told her the whole story. Natale loves Nunzio like a father,” Father Joe said as he and Father Casimiro passed Columbus Park and made a left from Mulberry Street onto Worth Street. “This is the end of Little Italy.”

As they reached St. Joachim’s, Father Casimiro said, “I think I’ll walk over to the Settlement. You want to come with?”

“Come with?” Father Joe teased. “Sure, I can use the exercise.”

“Does Nunzio ever worry about some ambitious hooligan wanting to take over? Or is that just in the movies?”

“Hooligan?” Father Joe smiled. “Nunzio is the top lion. He is constantly watched by the ambitious and the aggrieved. He can’t show weakness. He can’t let a single insult—especially a public one—go unchecked. Continued leadership requires constant vigilance and no margin of error. None.”

“Sounds stressful.”

“It is. The only time Nunzio can relax—really be himself, joke around—is with us, the kids who grew up with him, on the third Tuesday of the month.”


“The right four people”

“Pal, in this city, you can have anything you want if you kill the right four people.”

“Nunzio, we don’t have to kill –”

“We? Me and you, De?” Nunzio leaned back, a gesture as intimidating as a knife to the throat when it came from Nunzio Sabino, the most powerful crime boss in the city.

Nunzio sat at his private table with his attorney, Declan Ardan, in the dusk-lit Caffè Fiora on Grand Street in Little Italy. On the walls, ropes, hooks, and paintings of Genoa’s seaport, honored the birthplace of the owner’s mother, Fiora, her dark eyes still vigilant from the portrait above Nunzio’s table. The Caffè was quiet on this rainy St. Patrick’s Day. Two of Nunzio’s men sat at a nearby table. The guy who had come with Declan sat hunched over coffee near the entrance.

“No, I mean, nobody has to get killed; talk to your guys at Tammany. They respect –”

“You still got that scar,” Nunzio said. It’s bad enough in court; there, I do what he says. But not at my table. Since we were kids, this mameluke was a bully. I can’t give him an inch. Not an inch. “What about my guys?”

De touched the scar above his left eye. “Doolin said the Italians run everything now. He said, ‘If anyone can pull strings…’”

“Before you start pinning medals on my ass,” Nunzio signaled to a waiter. “Arturo, bring me and ‘Deadshot’ here a couple of espressos and Natale’s little cakes.”

“All I’m saying is–”

“Marone, you’re still talkin’?”

“All I want – ”

“I know what you want. You wanna be mayor.” Nunzio lit a Camel and tossed the pack on the table while exhaling through his nose like a dragon. “Listen to me, Brian Doolin is a piantagrane, a troublemaker. For an upfront payment he sells you a dream. Then when it doesn’t come true it was always somebody else’s fault. Like you, that time when we were kids, and you told me Eddie Fialco sounded on my mother. It was bullshit, you just wanted me to beat him up. You’re a piantagrane, like Doolin. It works for you in court, but Doolin just likes to cause trouble. Look, you got a kid who wants to go to college for a grand, your kid’s in. But mayor, forse si forse no?”

“So, maybe a chance?”


De stroked his scar absentmindedly. “You gave me this when we were kids.”

“It makes you look like a tough guy.”

“I once asked Joe why you hit me with that rock.”

“It was a brick,” Nunzio said.

“Joe said it was to save my life. I still don’t get it.” “You don’t have to.”

“But Joe was there.”

“Joe was with Pompeo and me and a bunch of us.

What were we, ten years old? We were cutting through the empty lot to school, and you – ”

“Okay, so I was taking kid’s lunch money. They all gave it up except you. You were the smallest kid, and you just said ‘No’.”

“And what did you say to me?”

“That’s what I don’t get; I just said, ‘okay, maybe next time’ and you hit me hard with a brick. I swear I was knocked out for a couple of minutes.”

“You said ‘maybe next time.’”

“Yeah, that’s all.”

“But you never asked me again.”

“I thought you were crazy. I followed you home one day. I figured if I saw where you lived, I would get a better read on you. I trailed you into the cellar of 57 Canon Street. I saw a little bed in one corner and a pile of banana crates by the door – the only things in that dirt floor cavernous space. You were shoveling coal into the furnace, which explained why you always had soot on you. I was about to say something when a spider the size of my face jumped out at me from the crates, and I beat it the hell out of there.”

“You followed me?”

“How could you have lived in that cellar?”

“Instead of where?”

“I don’t know. Maybe in…I don’t know. Didn’t some family take you in?”

“Yeah, the Sas family. Good people.”

“Anyway, I never asked you for money again.”

“If you had, I would’ve killed you. So, the brick saved your life.”

Declan nodded. “Yeah. Got it.”

Three years later, a hulking longshoreman people called “The Bear” wouldn’t be so lucky. He was the first man Nunzio killed. At the ripe age of 13, his life and the lives of four of his friends, changed forever.

Nunzio drifted back to his childhood. He was six years old when his mother and he moved from Naples to the Lower East Side. Alone after his mother died, he learned to survive in one of the most notorious neighborhoods in the city. Where the narrow, trash-lined streets and alleys weaved together decaying brownstone tenements with common toilets, one per floor. He shoveled coal and guarded the produce stored there by the ships docked off South Street, to pay for living in the cellar.

After school, Nunzio mostly walked the streets. He recalled the putrid smell of decomposing cats and dogs covered with a trembling blanket of insects, rats, and things he didn’t recognize. Lying in the gutter against the sidewalk on Pike Street was a horse, with old and fresh whip wounds, shrouded in a cloak of flying and crawling insects. Plenty of other horrors and hardships confronted him throughout his life, but when he closed his eyes, Nunzio saw the horse.

“I know you’re not here to talk about old times. Whadaya need?”

“Nunzio, no one is better than you with –”

“Christ, without the bullshit.”

De lowered his voice, “Tammany Hall is on the outs

with the mayor, and they’re scrambling to find a candidate to run against him. So, if you would tell them that you would be grateful if they would pick me…”

“You tellin’ me what to tell them? Forget about it. Anyway, I like the deputy mayor; he postponed the Brooklyn Bridge deal as a favor to me back in ’57.

“Nunzio, did I do something to piss you off? Is that why your guys searched us when we came in today?”

Chinatown was pushing towards Canal Street; the Russians were gaining a footprint in Brighten Beach. And Pepe, Nunzio’s driver, bodyguard, and right hand since forever, told him there were rumbles of a hit on Nunzio. Someone or some group was always waiting and watching. He knew, like bosses everywhere, that everyone under him thought they could do a better job and thought the boss never did enough for them. This felt different. Pepe had heard it from one of his spies in Satan’s Knights. Pepe would get more information.

But all Nunzio said was, “I’m a little cautious these days. You know how it is.”

“I’m your lawyer; you call me when you need help. Right?”

“I pay you top dollar. You complainin’?”

“No, I’m saying we help each other. We knew growing up here, the only choice was to be a gangster or a victim. No offense.”

“You believe that crap?” Nunzio shook his head. “What?”

“You can be whatever you wanna be.”

“I try to be straight, but you know – ”

“Who you kiddin‘?”

“The point is, we have to trust each other.” De took a long breath and looked wistful as his eyes landed on the painting of Fiora. “I came here with you to see her dance. She was 16 back then, with a two-year-old kid.”

“Seventeen,” Nunzio said, “and the kid’s name is Natale.”

“And you were 13 and asked Fiora to marry you in this Caffè. Am I right?”

“I never got the chance.”


Excerpt from NUNZIO’S WAY by NICK CHIARKAS. Copyright 2022 by Nicholas L. Chiarkas. Reproduced with permission from Nicholas L. Chiarkas. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Nicholas L. Chiarkas

Nick Chiarkas grew up in the Al Smith housing projects in the Two Bridges neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

When he was in the fourth grade, his mother was told by the principal of PS-1 that, “Nick was unlikely to ever complete high school, so you must steer him toward a simple and secure vocation.” Instead, Nick became a writer, with a few stops along the way: a U.S. Army Paratrooper; a New York City Police Officer; the Deputy Chief Counsel for the President’s Commission on Organized Crime; and the Director of the Wisconsin State Public Defender Agency.

On the way to becoming an author, he picked up a Doctorate from Columbia University; a Law Degree from Temple University; and was a Pickett Fellow at Harvard. How many mothers are told their children are hopeless? How many kids with potential simply surrender to despair? That’s why Nick wrote Weepers and Nunzio’s Way— for them.

Catch Up With Our Author:
BookBub – @AuthorNickChiarkas
Twitter – @chiarkas
Facebook – @NicholasChiarkasAuthor


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#BookTour “The Glass Tree” by Michael J. Manz


Historical/Suspense ; Suspense/Thriller ; Adult Literary

Date Published: 09-01-2022

Publisher: Endicott Street Press


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Paris, 1954. Eli Cole, American attaché, wants only one thing: to avenge his wife’s murder. But the trail has gone cold. After two years, drinking to his beloved Liana’s memory is all he has left — until the secrets she took to the grave come back to shatter them all. A hidden photo, a Gestapo file, an unsent letter: these are some of the clues Eli must piece together if he is to understand Liana’s secret life, and her mysterious mission. But the clock is ticking. Powerful new enemies are out to give Eli a one-way ticket back to the United States — in a pinewood box.

With the help of Liana’s father and sister, an old war buddy come abroad, and a cunning teenage girl, Eli unravels the events that led to his wife’s death. But getting justice won’t be easy. The more Eli reveals of Liana’s secret past, the more his devotion to her is tested by her deceit. Can Eli allow himself to recognize the entirety of the woman he married? Will Liana’s last art piece, a spectacular glass tree, give Eli the assurance he needs to continue believing in the sanctity of love?

The Glass Tree is a fast-paced, unpredictable mystery, and it is also the story of one man’s attempt to untangle the complexities of betrayal, love and forgiveness.



I grabbed a pack of Lucky Strikes from my stash in the dresser and went back to Le Carre Rouge. Parisians always stick to the same café. I had one with Liana, where I never go. This place was more fitting. It was strictly bottom shelf. The regulars rolled their own cigarettes and there was always a table with a view of the traffic circle.

I knew what JP wanted. I remembered how I felt that first year. Living on hate, living for vengeance. When I wasn’t drunk, I was bothering the police, calling in favors with the French services. I had been with the Sûreté when they questioned suspects. I skulked around Communist meetings, trying to pass myself off as an American comrade. But I was always suspect, and nobody opened up to me more than the usual propaganda line. I followed the men the Sûreté took in for questioning. Some for weeks at a time. Nothing out of the ordinary. No hatchet men. They were family men, working men, functionaries of the party. Rallies, meetings, strikes, canvassing, campaigning. Nothing violent. No one told any stories over drinks. They were dedicated to their cause but did nothing to make me think they had killed one of the opposition and my wife.

There had been no doubt about what I would do when I figured out who had killed Liana. Unintended bystander or not, they would pay with their own life. I had my Colt 1911 wrapped in an oiled cloth in the closet.

The fire that burned inside me never went out, but after that first year of disappointment and false leads, after fellow attachés reported to me that they figured it for the work of Russian agents on orders from the Kremlin, my blood lust began to seep away, like rain on a bridge drying in the sun.

Liana became one of the many senseless deaths. She might have been in a car accident, she might have choked or fallen down the stairs. Undignified. Unlucky. Like so many GIs, she had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And now — had JP found a string to pull?

Even if he had it probably didn’t matter. I’d be shipped back to the States and debriefed any day now.

But maybe there was a way I could stay on, at least long enough to settle this.

I found JP at the same bar where he used to hang out when I was married to his daughter. He was sitting at a table playing la belote with friends or maybe enemies. I didn’t know. They looked like mechanics. The bar was in the Eleventh, not far from Pere Lachaise, a working-class neighborhood. No professors here. Or immigrants. Natives only. Some Algerians had been beaten on the street only a week ago. Where were all those loyal colonized subjects of France supposed to go?

When he saw me he got up and went to the bar. He ordered Suze. The barman poured two cloudy glasses of the yellow liquor. Besides being one of the cheapest drinks, it was disgusting. I sometimes ordered it despite the taste of bitter orange peels.

“What do you want?”

“To kill someone,” I said.

He looked into my eyes. His were red and puffy. “I don’t believe you,” he said, taking a drink. “But I’m going to need you. This time we finish it.”

I took a drink and waited for him to tell me what he had found out.

“Philippe — that is his name — is a professor at the Sorbonne and also a communist. And, it seems, so was Liana.”

I scoffed. “Don’t you think I’d know that?”

“No,” he replied bluntly. “I don’t. As an American there are things you couldn’t understand. The motives of a French woman are not the same as in your country. She couldn’t sacrifice who she was for promises.”

“She wasn’t like that.”

“But she was, wasn’t she? You’ll need to accept that. Accept she was not the perfect wife you thought she was. She was independent, she had a life she didn’t share with you. Maybe she would have…” He stopped.

This was more than he’d said to me all at once the whole time I’d been his son-in-law.

He went back to his table and recovered his cigarette from the ashtray.

“Osval had a 15-year-old daughter. The police report has nothing about her.”

“Police report?”

“I have a friend on the force. She’ll be seventeen now, an adult. Maybe she knows something.”

“And if she doesn’t?” I asked. “Do we break her arm?”

JP smiled. “We’ll see.”

“Let me do it. Just stay in the car with your tool kit.”

JP shrugged. “The downstairs neighbor in her building knows me anyways. I’ll pick you up at noon. I’ve watched her. She never leaves the apartment before two. She’s a dancer at Le Coq Gaulois, or maybe a putain.”

I nodded and finished my drink without coughing.

“She should be alone, the mother leaves with the husband, or whatever he is, around ten. They part ways at the corner. I think she works for the post.”

“And him?”

“I don’t know. Wears a cheap suit and hangs around Les Halles market.”

“Maybe it would be better to talk to the daughter at work.”

“Who knows who’ll be watching there. Better alone.”

I left the bar and walked toward the metro. It was the kind of day I might have strolled through the flea market at Porte de Clignancourt, or the bookstalls along the Seine on the Left Bank. Maybe afterwards a drink with Liana on St. Germain or over the bridge to the Ile Saint Louis for a café. Someone at the Embassy said they’d seen Picasso and Hemingway there. What it must have been like in Paris before the war.

When I got to the metro stairs I changed my mind and headed toward the Sorbonne. I hadn’t been there in a long time. It was a lively part of Paris. Busy with students, those born just before the war.

I walked into the building where Liana had her classroom. I hadn’t spent much time here. Occasionally I came in to meet her after class. It was always so bustling, so alive. Maybe it had too much, too much temptation. It occurred to me that I might find him here. The professor Liana found more exciting than me, who fit her academic mind better. Maybe she even loved him more. I pushed the thought away.

I found her old classroom and cracked the door. It was full of kids listening to a lecture. I went in and took a seat at the back.

It took me a few minutes to figure out the subject. Someone’s textbook read Abstract Expressionism. Liana was part of this. Part of the new wave of art. The museums were full of Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler now. Liana painted and sculpted in experimental ways; the work resembled nothing of the subject. This was the future. I had encouraged her to turn tradition on its head, even if I preferred the old stuff. Giant paintings of battles, dogs with pheasants in their teeth and stags hung for dressing. I didn’t understand the canvases of colorful blotches. It was lost on me. But Liana was passionate about it. The old stuff was overdone, belonged to the past, she’d say. Maybe that’s what I was.

If she hadn’t been killed, would we still be together? Or would she have left me?  How long would I have played the sap? Maybe she would have come back to me on her own. Maybe I would never have needed to know about Philippe.

I left the class. Her office was in another building, a half block away. I took the stairs to the fourth floor. They had given me the little name plaque with her things. There had also been a memorial for her at the school’s graduation that year. All the students had stood, there was a chorus who sang La Mer. The professors all shook my hand afterwards. Including, I supposed, Philippe. I didn’t remember. Maybe he’d had the decency not to. I doubted it, the fucking douche.

I knocked on the door. Her office was occupied by “Prof. Alois Courtemanche” now.

An older gentlemen answered in a tweed jacket. How stereotypical.

“I’m sorry to disrupt you.”

“Come in, come in,” he said. “You are Liana’s husband.”


“I remember seeing you now and then. I was so sorry,” he said shaking my hand.  “Someone with so much vitality, so much energy. And the way she understood art. What it could do, could mean.”

I just looked down, nodding.

“She is missed here,” he went on. “By everyone. It is an honor to have her office.”

“Thank you. I feel like I didn’t know this part of her very well.”

“Please, sit down.”

I sat and he pulled out a bottle of schnapps from his desk drawer and took down two teacups from the shelf behind him. After pouring in a dash, he handed me one.

“This place, to me, was just where I lost her every day,” I started. “I should have been… I wish I had been a bigger part of her art.”

Alois watched me over his teacup, a strange look on his face. His eyes were blue and a little watery.

“But I think you were. I think you were a big part of her art. The school has a permanent collection you know. Can I show you something? Do you have time?”

“Yes, of course.”

He finished his drink and smacked his lips. I set my cup on the desk and noticed a small bronze sculpture of a man sitting with a book. The sculpture had been there when this was Liana’s desk.

“That sculpture…”

“Done by a professor who died during the war. It kind of lives here. This was also his office.”

“What happened?”

“A dark chapter for France. The Gestapo came and took him one day. He was never seen again. I understand you were in the army?”

“The Tenth. The occupying force her father used to say.”

The man chuckled. “Yes, we French are very patriotic. And for some, even when it was Vichy.”

We took the stairs to a courtyard and crossed it to another gray stone building. In the basement he unlocked a room and flipped on the lights. It was a gallery of sorts. Objects under glass or freestanding and an array of paintings. I followed him to the far wall.

“Did Liana ever show this to you?”

“No,” I said, mesmerized.

On a white table stood a glass tree, maybe three or four feet tall, on a wooden base with a drawer. I was sure it was meant to be a Black Walnut. They were Liana’s favorite. Something to do with a place her parents had taken her as a child and the tree had become her solace.

There were two trunks at the base that twisted into one. The branches were hollow, with the tips of each branch open, like the end of a straw. The glass reflected different colors, muted but noticeable, hints of green, rust, light blue and beige. They felt familiar somehow.

Alois pulled out the drawer. Inside was a flat reel-to-reel recorder. He pressed a button and the tapes turned. Liana’s voice came out of the speakers. At first I thought she may have been reading a book. But the sentences didn’t make sense. It was a jumble of words.

“What is she reading?” I asked.

Alois just shook his head slightly.

I recognized the words somehow. The intonation of her voice. She wasn’t reading random words. They came from somewhere else, someplace meaningful to her.

He pushed the drawer in and the words became a hum, echoes, musical almost, escaping through the branches.

Alois said nothing but looked at the piece with me another minute. I was awestruck.

“I wanted you to see it,” he said, opening the drawer and turning off the tape.

I followed him out and he locked the door.

“Thank you,” I said. “I’m really at a loss for words.”

“Come back anytime,” he said, shaking my hand.

I had the feeling he didn’t want to talk anymore. Something had changed and he was uncomfortable now.

At the front steps he gave me another tight-lipped smile and walked away.

What didn’t he want to say? What, I wondered, was he doing during the war? Probably teaching here. Life went on in Paris despite shortages and hardships.

At the corner of the building, I turned and walked deeper into campus. I used to feel out of place here. It was such a different world. Everyone was young and hopelessly pessimistic.

Now I felt like everyone’s father. Not jealous anymore. They didn’t have Liana. None of us did. Instead, I could look at them for what they were. Hadn’t I brought the light back into the world for them? That’s what they told us anyways. Our sacrifice was for their generation. And here they were.

I sat down on a bench and watched the students. I smoked a cigarette and pictured Liana’s glass sculpture and the sound it made. What did it mean? Why had she never shown me?

I finished the cigarette but didn’t get up. To move from this spot was to rejoin the world outside. To get back to the black tunnel leading… where?



About the Author

Michael J. Manz lives in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley and is a rare bookseller by trade. Except for a few years spent in Chicago, he is a lifelong New Englander. The only place he’d rather be, at least some of the time, is Paris, where he has been known to wander the streets in search of old bookshops, great cafes and forgotten bars.

He is the past organizer of the Protagonists and Procrastinators writers’ group and has from childhood been scratching away at some kind of story or another.

Michael holds a BA in English from Keene State College.

The Glass Tree is his first novel.

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#BookTour “Sandra’s Syndrome” by Mark Merkley


Fiction / Romance / Historical / LGBTQ+

Date Published:  July 26, 2022

Publisher: Elite Online Publishing


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Secrets are cruel challenges.

Especially a secret God gave Sandra that not even He can accept and refuses to tolerate. Sandra is a Mormon girl, but this story is not about Mormons. It is about an explosive secret, racial bigotry, superstition, and bias toward uncommon people-a mixture with the power to transform humanity.

Humorous, thoughtful, sensual, and a gripping page-turner to the end, Sandra’s Syndrome gives readers a beloved heroine at a time when humankind needs one like never before. June 8, 1978, a historic date for an entire church that attempted to end racism. For Sandra, it was the first day of battle to end separation and segregation for all special children of God … and you won’t believe the miraculous conclusion.

A love story of true-life fiction.




It is easy to take over from those

who have not thought ahead.



“In the beginning . . .” The first millisecond of what is mistakenly referenced as the Big Bang, God’s voice, third-person omniscient, was heard. It is the voice that speaks to you now. It speaks throughout this story. God’s narration is its own personality in literature. A character in stories. To guide readers through worthwhile journeys. Is it male or female? You choose.

The voice informs readers. Occasionally, to make a point. The omniscient voice is possessed with emotions, just as you. The voice always intends to share broader considerations. Pertinent sources are footnoted. While reading, challenge the omniscient voice. Conclusions are your own, especially when discussed with other readers. Non-readers of the story are irrelevant; don’t waste your time. Self-inflicted ignorance cannot be praised. Readers expect meaningful endings for those deeply in love—so greatly in love they climb heights never thought achievable.

Please climb. Explore higher elevations. Discover meaningful insights. The love to be felt is a quality unknown to most.



About the Author

Mark Merkley is an author and retired university instructor. He has a MA and BA in Organizational and Interpersonal Communication from Brigham Young University. Mark was trained formally as a technical writer and has recently delved into the world of creative writing. He believes that humor within creative storytelling possesses greater emotional opportunity to provide readers personal understanding of characters and their experience with complex issues.

An avid reader, Mark first got his inspiration for Sandra’s Syndrome from a character in Kathy Reichs’ bestselling novel, Bones Never Lie. After spending several years cultivating the idea in his head, he decided to start writing it down two days after his retirement. It is controversial. However, religion and science must engage common ground to understand the misunderstood and accept the uncommon. That common ground is the battlefield
for the victory of social acceptance and inclusion.

When Mark is not behind a computer, he spends his time playing softball and basketball, and enjoys puzzles and decision-making problems. He is also known for hosting parties and game nights for his friends. They bond over their love for travel, new experiences, fine tastes, and adventure. Love and acceptance are consistent.

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#ReleaseBlitz “The Glass Tree” by Michael J. Manz


Historical/Suspense ; Suspense/Thriller ; Adult Literary

Date Published: 09-01-2022

Publisher: Endicott Street Press


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Paris, 1954. Eli Cole, American attaché, wants only one thing: to avenge his wife’s murder. But the trail has gone cold. After two years, drinking to his beloved Liana’s memory is all he has left — until the secrets she took to the grave come back to shatter them all. A hidden photo, a Gestapo file, an unsent letter: these are some of the clues Eli must piece together if he is to understand Liana’s secret life, and her mysterious mission. But the clock is ticking. Powerful new enemies are out to give Eli a one-way ticket back to the United States — in a pinewood box.

With the help of Liana’s father and sister, an old war buddy come abroad, and a cunning teenage girl, Eli unravels the events that led to his wife’s death. But getting justice won’t be easy. The more Eli reveals of Liana’s secret past, the more his devotion to her is tested by her deceit. Can Eli allow himself to recognize the entirety of the woman he married? Will Liana’s last art piece, a spectacular glass tree, give Eli the assurance he needs to continue believing in the sanctity of love?

The Glass Tree is a fast-paced, unpredictable mystery, and it is also the story of one man’s attempt to untangle the complexities of betrayal, love and forgiveness.


About the Author

Michael J. Manz lives in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley and is a rare bookseller by trade. Except for a few years spent in Chicago, he is a
lifelong New Englander. The only place he’d rather be, at least some of the time, is Paris, where he has been known to wander the streets in search of old bookshops, great cafes and forgotten bars.

He is the past organizer of the Protagonists and Procrastinators writers’ group and has from childhood been scratching away at some kind of story or another.

Michael holds a BA in English from Keene State College. The Glass Tree is his first novel.

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#BookTour “Tess (Prairie Roses Book 9)” by Annee Jones


Prairie Roses Book 9

Christian Historical Western Romance


Date Published: 05-04-2021

A betrayal… a secret baby… an unknown imposter…will Tess survive the wagon train journey to Sunset Hills, Oregon after her life is threatened? And if so, what will she do once she gets there?

1855. Tess Findlay can’t wait to be reunited with her beau who went out west three months ago to mine for gold, saying he’d send for her soon. Even though she hasn’t heard from him, she’s discovered she’s with child and decides to join a wagon train to travel to Oregon to surprise him with the news.

When a band of robbers holds up the caravan, Tess is shocked to recognize her beau as one of the outlaws. He warns her that someone on the wagon train isn’t who they seem but before he can reveal the person’s identity he is killed in a gunfight. Who can Tess trust? She is drawn to widowed physician Garrett Kincaid but fears for her life and that of her unborn child. Besides, what man would ever want a woman who is carrying another man’s baby?

Garrett Kincaid is looking forward to bringing his youngest nephew, Jacob, to join his sister and brother-in-law out west. His sister begged him to care for her young son until the rest of the family got settled in Sunset Hills. The time is right for them to make the journey. There is nothing left in Kansas now for Garrett, anyway, not since his wife died of typhoid. He’s always wanted to start his own medical clinic, and Sunset Hills seems like the perfect place.

However, after the wagon train is robbed, Garrett realizes he will have to do everything in his power to help the group arrive safely. When his nephew befriends a beautiful young woman, Garrett can’t help but wonder why she is traveling alone. Can he discover her secrets without scaring her away? And he is ready to love again?



About the Author

Annee Jones is a heartwarming romance and soon-to-be cozy mystery author who enjoys sharing her heart and imagination with others. She is passionate about writing stories that offer readers a place where dreams come true!

Professionally, Annee works as a disability counselor where she helps her clients navigate through complex medical and legal systems while rediscovering their wholeness in Spirit.

Annee also enjoys freelance writing for Publishers Weekly and multiple publishing companies.

Subscribe to Annee’s newsletter on her website: www.anneejones.com

Want to join Annee’s private Facebook reader group, Annee’s Angels? Request your spot now:


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#NewRelease “Faraj (Eleven Wings Book 5)” by Brittni Chenelle



What good are wings when the sky itself is ready to collapse?

We’ve lost one of our own, and the dissension between the valkyries has done far more damage than the monsters attacking our realm. With the darkness closing in, everybody seems to be looking for one poor soul to blame.

I have a decision to make: try to stop Valerie from pulling our realm into an eternal night or equip her with the skills to complete the treacherous task at hand. I have to believe it’s not too late to repair the damage caused by distrust, but if I’m wrong, the losses will be indelible . . . and spell the end.

Faraj is Episode 5 of Brittni Chenelle’s Serialized Eleven Wings Series—definitive proof that little books can host colossal stories. This is only 1 out of 6 episodes, meant to be binged. It is not novel-length. Expect cliffhangers!

If you love reading about scorching second chance romances, sexy valkyries, sexier demons, and unexpected twists that keep you up long after The End, then one-click today and fall into this magical new series that’s Fallen meets Born in Fire! This series contains, violenceadult language, and explicit adult scenes and is intended for mature audiences.

Diverse Fantasy, Second Chance Romance, Paranormal Romance, Multi-POV

Series Release Schedule

  • Episode One: Valerie: October 5th, 2021
  • Episode Two: Cielle: October 8th, 2021
  • Episode Three: Thorn: October 11th, 2021
  • Episode Four: Irina: October 14th, 2021
  • Episode Five: Faraj: October 17th, 2021
  • Episode Six: Jaemin: October 20th, 2021

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#BookBlitz “The Eagle & the Lynx (Destined, Book 3)” by Michele James

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Destined, Book 3

Historical Fantasy Romance

Date Published: February 16, 2021

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group


Alyssa asked Jerrik to marry her when she was eight-years-old. When he finally makes good on his promise to return when she’s old enough to wed, nothing could prepare her for what becoming his queen truly means.

Jerrik is haunted by a tortured past, and has done everything he can to avoid any ties to his parents’ mistakes. Life has other plans, and against his wishes, he agrees to assume the cursed throne that has taken the lives of his loved ones. Now a king, he must wed, and the only real choice is his best friend’s sister – the girl who has loved him since she was a child.

His bride has grown into a beautiful, tempting woman, and Jerrik succumbs willingly to her charms. But lies and betrayal surround them at every turn, and while she holds true, he makes the ultimate mistake, almost ruining an incandescent love.


Other Books in the Destined Series:

The Lion & The Swan

Destined, Book 1

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

Published: January 2020


A northern princess captured by pirates is sold into slavery and gifted as dowry to the cruel father of a prince betrothed to a woman he despises. So is the lot of Oona, the Swan, an exceptional singer and dancer, stolen from her father’s ship along with her sister, the Dove. Of all the horrors that awaits them, including training to be pleasure women for the brutal king, Oona never would have believed his son, Asad, the lion, Prince Black Mane of the Southern Great Valleys, would capture her heart. Any contact or familiarity between her and the prince with the glowing amber eyes, guarantees a flaying, if not death, and Oona, grief stricken over the prospect of never again seeing the prince for whom she has fallen, must get her sister home, or the delicate Dove will surely perish at the hands of the despicable king.






Boroughs Publishing Group


The Stallion & The Tigress

Destined, Book 2

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

Published: September 2020


Bastard son of a king, Aleksandr has scrimped and saved to attend the races at King Asad’s City by the Sea. Nothing will stop Aleksi from returning home with a string of fine horses, a sizable purse of gold, and an easy tempered wife who will bear his children. What he finds is a spitting tigress with unparalleled beauty, a will of iron, and a mare she assures him will beat his stallion. She’s also the king’s pampered, spoiled daughter and is off limits. But that doesn’t seem to matter when passion burns so hot propriety is ignored and all the rules are broken.






Boroughs Publishing Group



About the Author

Michele James lives in a southern California beach town with her understanding husband, two lazy house cats, and two crazy cattle dogs. She is the proud mother of two fully functional adults, and is Oma to the world’s most adorable grandson.

A mostly retired veterinarian technician, she enjoys reading everything from cereal boxes to serious tomes, watching movies without commercials, cooking, gardening, walks on the beach (especially in winter), and practicing yoga.

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#ReleaseBlitz “Love and War” by Shirrá Lynn

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BWWM Interracial Romance

Date Published: Feb 12, 2021

She’s a singer posing as a maid. He’s a surgeon forced to serve the Reich. For both of them, deception is the only way to survive the war.

Cocktail singer Victoire Duplanchier knows Nazi-occupied Paris is not safe for a black woman. But that’s exactly why she’s trying to get her family out. When she’s caught in a roundup, a man with ocean-blue eyes saves her from being sent to an unknown fate. But can she really trust him? He might seem kind and handsome, but he’s also a Nazi.

Surgeon, Emil von Konig, was duped into serving the Reich by his deceitful father. When he encounters Victoire, he knows he needs to keep her safe. He offers refuge at his estate in the Parisian countryside, but in order to stay undetected, she must pose as his maid.

Their new roles as maid and master find them in close confines. As their connection grows their passion is impossible to ignore.

While war rages on around them, Emil and Victoire believe they are safe. But danger is closer than ever. When the true nature of their relationship is discovered, everything will be at risk.

Is their love strong enough to conquer the forces that conspire against them?




I sit up alert in my chair wondering what could be wrong. Herr von Konig seldom summons me, but I am on my feet and in the dining room within seconds. As I enter my heart flutters when his ocean blue eyes take me into their gaze.

Yes, Herr von Konig,” I furrow my brows, “Is everything alright? Was your breakfast not warm…the coffee?” He smirks, but with soft eyes.

No Victoire, everything is–was perfect, as usual,” he says to me in a calming tone, trying to reduce the anxiety he can see written on my face. It works. My brow relaxes as I look at him trying to slow my breathing to a normal rate.

Tonight, I have yet another event to attend in the city,” I swallow trying not to show my disappointment.

I understand Monsieur,” I nod once.

I have two surgeries today and will probably not make it back at a decent time to prepare, I would like it if you would assist me and layout my formal dress for me, pressed, and metals shined. I know it is much to ask of you among the other duties you carry out, but I–”

Non, Monsieur,” I stop him, “It is my pleasure to serve you.” I don’t know why I say those words. They seemed to fly from my lips on wings, and I couldn’t catch them to bring them back and scold them for being so eager to leave me…but I see a light flicker behind his eyes, almost ablaze.

Shall I teach you pleasure?” he asks.


About the Author

Shirrá Lynn is a native of Washington, DC. A writer of Interracial Romance, she is also a hobbyist poet and floral designer. When she isn’t writing or snipping roses, she loves spending time with her family, especially her nieces and nephew. In college, during a critique session in a creative writing class, her professor described her writing style as ‘too colloquial’. Shirrá took this appraisal and used it as a catalyst to produce stories that are engaging, real and speak to the heart.

Love and War is her debut romance novel.

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#BookSale “Ashes From A Burning Corpse (An American True Crime Reporter in the 20th Century)” by Noel Hynd

On a hot rainy summer night in Nassau, the Bahamas, in 1943, someone murdered Sir Harry Oakes, one of the richest men in the world, as he slept. When police found him the next morning, there were four wounds to his skull. His corpse had been abused, covered ritualistically with feathers and set on fire. The murder was perverse, horrific and jaded by anyone’s standards.

A few evenings later in New York City, the phone rang in the home of Alan Hynd, identified in that era by the NY Times as America’s highest paid true crime reporter. The Oakes case would send the writer, with a quarter of a century of experience covering murders, to the Bahamas in wartime. He would try to bring truth to a case that was littered with a colorful cast of international characters and which, in its resolution, became unique in the annals of true crime.

Ashes From A Burning Corpse is the fictionalized story of that writer’s coverage of the case – and how it changed his life forever. It is also a literary and cultural journey into New York and the colonial Bahamas of the World War Two era, a story touching upon Hemingway, Sinatra and FDR, big-shot film and Broadway producers, crooked cops, gangsters and a murder trial so big that it knocked the world war off the front pages.

Welcome to what is also a literary journey into true crime, politics, book publishing and magazine work in the World War Two era, with allusions to writers from Edmond Pearson to Scott Fitzgerald. Ashes is part of a trilogy titled An American True Crime Reporter in the 20th Century, three cases which were the centerpieces of a veteran real-life crime reporter’s legacy. The trilogy will also include first person novels on the original Charles Ponzi swindling case, The Pied Piper of Boston and the Charles Lindbergh kidnapping case, The Crimes of The Century.

Noel Hynd is the author of more than a dozen novels, originally published by Doubleday, Dial, Bantam, Tor, Kensington, Zondervan/HarperCollins, and currently, his own imprint, Red Cat Tales LLC Publishing of Los Angeles, California.

He has sold more than 7 million books worldwide, including hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, Literary Guild and digital editions. His best known titles in the espionage genre are Flowers From Berlin and Truman’s Spy. In the supernatural genre, his best known titles are Ghosts and Cemetery of Angeles.

Ingenious…Suspense fiction that stands out!New York Times

Noel Hynd knows the ins and outs of Washington’s agencies both public and private. – Publishers Weekly

A few notches above the Ludlums and Clancys of the world. – Booklist

99c sale price ending SOON!



#PreOrder “The Colors Of Time: A Collection Of Poems” by Maya and Jello


The Colors Of Time is a timeless masterpiece of Poetry that takes you on an epic journey through Time to our modern-day crisis. The US Review Of Books says, Eye opening and revealing, each piece offers the reader food for thought….. A read that is briskly paced and perfect for taking a break from the rest of the day for a moment of reflection…These poems are written for every reader… Readers of any age or background will be able to see themselves in some poems…. this is a thoroughly modern, relevant and necessary collection of experiences and artistic opinions that will offer the mind plenty of space to roam, discover, and play. Read the full review at:

Even if you do not have a taste for history you would enjoy traveling along the corridors of Time as Maya shares her thoughts in verse as she is inspired by a particular event or Era. These poems are masterful and are written with all the intrigue and heart that we have come to expect from Maya. This is by no means a history book. But after you have read The Colors of Time by Maya And Jello, you would be hard-pressed to deny a new appreciation and sense of empathy for the struggles endured by mankind through the Ages.