Beyond the Books

Character Interview: Josie Kendal from Michael Bowen’s political thriller ‘False Flag in Autumn’

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have you her today, Josie, from Michael Bowen’s new political thriller, False Flag in Autumn.  Josie is a twenty-eight year old political communications specialist living in Washington, D.C.

It’s a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Josie.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight without your readers?

I think Bowen pretty much nailed me.  I’m not a saint.  When I die the topic of canonization will not come up.  But I’ve only done one thing that I’m truly ashamed of, and he let me show my remorse for that.  I didn’t realize that I used naughty words as freely as I apparently do, but I have to admit, when I saw them there on the page they sounded like me.  It’s kind of a lazy habit that I fell into almost casually when I started working in Washington.  Bowen seems to think False Flag in Autumn is a redemption story, but to tell you the truth I’m not sure I need redemption all that much.  A lot of politics is like a spikes-high slide into second base:  it ain’t pretty – but that’s the way the game is played.  You can play the game that way, or you can sit on the sideline polishing your halo.  I want to be in the game.

False Flag in Autumn.jpgDo you feel the author did a good job of colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Well, I do like cocktails (especially when my husband, Rafe, makes them), and even though I’ve been (mostly) smoke-free for three years now, sometimes it’s a struggle to hang onto the “mostly.”  I like having to think fast and I like getting it right when I do.  And I do desperately love Rafe, and cherish both our intellectual sympatico and our sexual intimacy.  Bowen is right about all that stuff.  Bowen seems a little judgmental about me at times – I’m sure I picked up a subtly disapproving tone when he had me refer to “casual hook-ups that I got over when I was 20”.  I guess that’s because deep down he’s as crazy about me as Rafe is – and who could blame him for that?

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Self-awareness.  I’m spunky but I’m not particularly brave, and I know it.  My mind is fast but it’s not deep, and I know that, too.  I’m pretty smart, but I’m not wise, at least not yet.  All I have to do to excite male sexual desire is breathe, and I’ve been known to use that gift teasingly. 

Worst trait?

I sometimes fall into the trap of kidding myself.  I spend all day spinning politicians and reporters, and sometimes when I look back on something that didn’t go well, I realize that I was spinning myself without realizing it (until it was too late).

If you could choose someone in the movie or television industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Nicole Kidman.  With a glossy black wig and a little Creole make-up, she could play me perfectly, and even flashback to my student days at Tulane and my early internships in Washington if she had to. 

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Absolutely:  my husband, Rafe.  Charm, good looks, brains, guts – he’s more than twenty years older than I am, but he’s the whole package.  Rafe’s first wife died while she was pregnant with what would have been their first child, and I think that tragedy really deepened him.  When I first started working full-time in D.C., I treated the available males as a buffet.  Then, when I met Rafe, I realized that I’d been playing triple-A ball.  Rafe was my introduction to the major leagues.

At what point in the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When a White House aide showed me two personnel files with CI (“Congressional Influence”) stamped on them, and then winked at me.  I knew he wanted to use me as an unwitting pawn in a scheme that had “special prosecutor” written all over it, and I had no idea what the scheme was.  I knew right then I should just walk away – but I’m hard-wired not to walk away from heavy duty political action.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Hank Sinclair, the White House aide.  He’s so breathtakingly handsome that he’s always had his way with women, and that has led him into some very bad habits.  Much, much worse, he’s book-smart but not gut-smart.  That’s a bad combination almost anywhere, but in Washington it can be fatal – literally fatal.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Bittersweet.  I found out something important about myself that maybe I’d rather have not known.  I guess it’s good to know, but there are times when I miss the illusion.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

Maybe treat my occasional introspection the way you treat sex between me and Rafe:  just a hint here and there, and leave the rest to the readers’ imaginations.  Readers are smart.  They won’t have any trouble connecting the dots.

Thank you for this interview, Josie.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Let’s see what happens between now and November, 2020.  Depending on how things turn out, Bowen may be working with characters who sip sherry with the village vicar by then.



Michael Bowen is a retired trial lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School who has published nineteen mysteries, ranging from Washington crime stories to plucky couple puzzle mysteries (and sometimes  both at the same time).

About your book and purchase link:   False Flag in Autumn is available as both an ebook and in hard cover from amazon.  Fine bookstores can also order it through Ingram – and who knows, maybe some of them already have.

Character Interview: Enid Carmichael from Susan McCormick’s new cozy murder mystery, The Fog Ladies

We are thrilled to have here today Enid Carmichael from Susan McCormick’s new cozy murder mystery The Fog Ladies. Mrs. Carmichael is an 80-year-old busy body with good hearing living in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco where old ladies start to die.

It’s a pleasure to have Mrs. Carmichael with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so much for this interview, Mrs. Carmichael. Now that the book has been written do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Hmph. Well. I was certainly well portrayed in the chapters I wrote myself, the chapters in my own words. But I was sorely disappointed to read what some of my so-called friends had to say. I’m more than a little miffed, for instance, to learn that Harriet Flynn thinks I’m a lush. I’m not a lush. I have sherry with my tea. But that’s common place. She just has an attitude about alcohol. That’s what her problem is.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you have liked to have been portrayed differently?

There is far too much emphasis on my apartment’s perch over the street. My window does let me see what goes on, but that’s not a bad thing. Someone has to watch the comings and goings of the building, especially with what’s been happening. We don’t want to all end up dead.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Well, I believe it is accurately mentioned in the book that I have good hearing. My hearing is sharp, much sharper than people give me credit for, because I am eighty. There are benefits to getting old. I overhear a lot of things people don’t intend.

Worse trait?

Hmph. You probably want me to say that knowing everyone’s business is my worst trait. Well maybe it is. But who’s alive and who’s dead? Hmm? Hmm?

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be?

Julia Child. But I outlived her didn’t I? Darn. We look alike. We are both tall and my hair used to be brown. Before it was red. Plus, I love her spark. And I believe she liked sherry, or at least she had it on hand for cooking.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Me. No. I’m eighty. But I suppose that didn’t stop Alma Gordon. Who saw that coming? Not me. See, I don’t know everything. I’m not a snoop.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

You mean the part where I was on life support?

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Well, that’s easy. Muriel Bridge. She’s dead. Head cracked open. Fell off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. But I don’t believe that for an instant. She was pushed.

How do you feel about the end of the book without giving too much away?

I am very pleased that I am here to give you this interview. But, so as not to give too much away, I will add that I might be speaking to you from beyond the grave. I believe in ghosts, you know.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?

Left less emphasis on my height. What’s all this “big woman” stuff?

Thank you for this interview, Enid Carmichael. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Hmph. Of course, I’m a Fog Lady, aren’t I?



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

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

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

Author Photo

About the Author

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


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Character Interview: Peggy Nahoe from Rosemary and Larry Mild’s ‘Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i’

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have here today Peggy Nahoe from Rosemary and Larry Mild’s mystery short story collection: Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i. Peggy Nahoe (pronounced Na-ho-ay) is a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl living in Honolulu. It is a pleasure to have Peggy with us today at Beyond the Books! Thank you so for this interview, Peggy.

Now that the book has been published, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Cover ARtPEGGY: The Milds live in Honolulu, they’re like locals. They nailed me pretty well and what I’m up to most of the time. The many stories I’m in start when I’m only nine, and they usually take place on Sundays when my daddy, Kamuela—that’s Sam in Hawaiian—has visitation rights. Sigh! He and my mom, Kianah, are split and I get bounced back and forth like some old volleyball. They fought all the time on account of him getting distraught after being medically pensioned from the Honolulu Police Department. You see, he’s got a bullet in his spine and needs Cane and Able, his two canes, to walk. Daddy drives a cab now and was very lonely until I suggested that he get a pet. He chose a golden retriever named Goldie, and I’m glad he did. Goldie’s smart and rides in the shotgun seat of his cab while they drive all around the island of Oahu picking up fares. I shudder to think how many bad guys and gals they’ve encountered. I only hope they know how to handle them.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?

PEGGY: Oh sure. They let me speak the king’s English with only a skosh Hawaiian or pidgin tossed in like a jalapeno for flavor. Not like some of the other characters. My daddy’s taught me to be proud of my Hawaiian heritage. I turned out to be a really sensitive and caring person. Mom says I argue with her too much. Rosemary and Larry made me tall for my age, athletic, with sun-dark island looks, and long dark hair that just won’t behave. It seems like I’m always washing or brushing it. I just wish my authors wouldn’t put me in harm’s way so much.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

PEGGY: That’s a tough one. I think maybe it’s somewhere between cleverness and loyalty. I’ve gotten myself out of some pretty tight jams—like the time the kidnappers held me captive in the barn. As for loyalty, I could never choose between Mom or Daddy when they’re fighting. I suppose there’s a lot of kindness in me too—like I’m always feeling sorry for the bad guys and gals after they’re caught. I have to ask Daddy what’s going to happen to them.

Worse trait?

PEGGY: Anger that I sometimes can’t suppress. Those strange pictures that turn up in my camera, a birthday gift from my daddy. I even hid in my room when he came over to apologize. I wouldn’t speak to him. Also, my friends sometimes say I’m too bossy.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

PEGGY: If I left it to the Milds they’d say Margaret O’Brien, but I don’t even know who that is. But I saw an old rerun of Hawaii Five-O with Londyn Silzer, a kid actress, the other night and she looks a little bit like me. She even talks like me.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

PEGGY: No. Unfortunately, I’m kinda young for that stuff. I might have had a crush on the red-headed haole boy in geography class, but don’t you go telling Mom now. Honest, my big love is for my dog, Goldie.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

PEGGY: I never let myself cry, but I start to wonder whether I’ll ever have my family together again. I know they still love each, but they haven’t found out yet. Ohana—that means family in Hawaiian, and ohana is the most important thing in my life.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

PEGGY: I wouldn’t want to be Carly Adams. She didn’t want to hurt anyone, but she stole a whole lot of money and now she’s going to jail.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

PEGGY: I’m itching to tell you the endings to all my stories, but the Milds won’t let me—especially when the bank robbers kidnapped me. Rosemary threatened to take away my loco moco if I do. That’s two sunny-side-up eggs on top of a huge hamburger amid a whole plateful of sticky white rice, all immersed in dark brown gravy. Yum!

What words of wisdom would you give your authors if they decided to write another book with you in it?

PEGGY: They don’t need any words of wisdom—they’re a real cool couple, and if and when they publish a sequel, I want to be all grown up in my thirties, and married with a baby, and be the boss of my own detective business just like Daddy. Then again, I could be a lawyer just like Mom. I can’t decide.

Thank you for this interview, Peggy.

PEGGY: And mahalo (thank you) to you too for having me.


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

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

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

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

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

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



Author: Gina Heumann
Publisher: MadLand Press
Pages: 246
Genre: Memoir

WHACK… At three in the morning Gina was sound asleep, yet somehow she was smacked in the head. She looked over at her husband, thinking perhaps he accidentally rolled over and flopped his arm on top of her, but he was sleeping soundly and facing the opposite direction. She turned to the other side and glaring back at her was her eight-year-old child.

“Did you just hit me?”

“Yes, and I’d do it again.”


“Because you took away my video games.”

“That was EIGHT HOURS AGO. And you’re still mad about it?”

“I wish I could kill you.”

This is the true story of the hell one family lived through parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder, a severe diagnosis related to children who experienced early-childhood trauma.

This inspirational story covers over a decade of daily struggles until they finally found resolution and made it to the other side. The family remained intact, and this once challenging son is now achieving things never thought possible.



First Chapter:

The Beginning

“I think I want to be a mom,” I declared one day.

This came as quite a shock to my husband, Aaron.

Marriage itself wasn’t part of my original plan. After going through my parents’ contentious divorce and living with one of my mom’s abusive boyfriends, my view on “happily ever after” was a bit tainted. I wasn’t going to do that. I had dreams of being one of those Sex in the City girls—with a successful career, girlfriends, travel, and a closet full of designer shoes. Marriage and kids seemed so mundane and expected. So it was quite a surprise to me when I met Aaron and realized that the plan had changed.

It happened on our first date.

In college, I went out with one of my best friend’s brothers. I knew the entire family except him, as my future in-law’s home was a hangout spot for us in graduate school. My father-in-law was a professor and had a computer at home, which he generously allowed us to use. This was the early ’90s, so laptops hadn’t been invented and writing a paper for college meant waiting in line for the computer lab to type up the final copy and print. Visits to the Heumann house often meant dinner with the family and sometimes even a load of laundry. Aaron wasn’t living there, so I knew his mom, dad, brother, and sister before I knew him. I loved them all and was starting to see that “successful and single” wasn’t the only way to go. They were a pretty amazing family.

On our first date, we weren’t quite sure if it was a date or not. He thought I was going out with him as a favor to his sister, because he needed a date to a fraternity party that would feature a somewhat big-name band, and he already had two tickets. I thought he thought I was doing his sister a favor and just needed a date. I had met him several weeks prior and thought he was awfully cute, so I was secretly hoping it was a date. Turns out, we both really liked each other the last two times we had met, but each thought the other was dating someone. That first date was magical. I had found my soulmate.

After the party, the hot tub, and a two-block walk in subzero temperatures back to his apartment, he asked me to spend the night to avoid driving me home on black ice. He was gentlemanly, offering me some sweatpants and his bed while he slept on the couch. I took the sweatpants but shared the bed … but I knew in the back of my mind that whatever happened on that date would most likely get back to his sister. So it was a reasonably innocent night together. The next morning, we ordered pizza and watched a football game, and when he dropped me off, I had a somewhat panicked thought that I couldn’t shake:

“Crap, there goes my plan.”

I knew I would marry him and the Sex in the City dream would die. Or change. Or morph into something different.

So the new plan was now marriage to the coolest guy ever, a successful career, couple friends, travel, no kids, and a closet full of designer shoes.

About the Author

Gina Heumann is a true Renaissance woman: wife, mother, architect, designer, instructor, author, speaker, and sales rep for an award-winning Napa Valley winery. She and her husband, Aaron, adopted Landrey in 2001 from Guatemala and then went back for Maddox three years later. Gina’s love of learning and dedication as a mother inspired her research of different treatments and therapies that eventually led to this inspirational success story about conquering Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Her latest book is Love Never Quits: Surviving & Thriving After Infertility, Adoption, and Reactive Attachment Disorder.


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Interview with Lee Matthew Goldberg, Author of The Desire Card

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR (St. Martin’s Press), which was acquired by Macmillan Entertainment with the film in development. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The first two books in a thriller series, THE DESIRE CARD and PREY NO MORE, are forthcoming from Fahrenheit Press in winter 2019. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series ( He lives in New York City. Follow him at and @LeeMatthewG.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Lee Matthew Goldberg.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Multi-published. I’ve had three books published.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

It was a small press called New Pulp Press.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

About a year and a half, pretty standard.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It was amazing. I definitely had a few drinks! It’s always been my dream.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Set up a book launch and a small tour.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I’m a better writer, I’m faster and I’m more understanding of the business.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

It can be glacial and take too long for a book to come out. It’s part of the reason why I’m working on starting my own press.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

When you get fan mail and they love your book.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Be dedicated, edit a lot, trust in your writing, someday it will happen!

About the Book:

Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That’s the promise the Desire Card gives to its elite clients. But if the Card doesn’t feel like they’ve been justly compensated, the “price” will be more menacing than the clients could ever imagine.

Harrison Stockton learns this lesson all too well. Harrison has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street along with a fondness for alcohol and pills, and a family he adores, yet has no time for. All of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his executive job and discovers he has liver cirrhosis with mere months left to live.

After finding himself far down on the donor list, Harrison takes matters into his own hands. This decision sparks a gritty and gripping quest that takes him to the slums of Mumbai in search of a black market organ and forces him under the Desire Card’s thumb. When his moral descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and put a stop to the Card.

THE DESIRE CARD is a taut international thriller that explores what a man will do to survive when money isn’t always enough to get everything he desires. It’s the first book in a series followed by PREY NO MORE that focuses on other people indebted to this sinister organization, where the actual price is the cost of one’s soul.


“Careful what you wish for, especially from a nefarious shadow organization, in this gripping start to Lee Matthew Goldberg’s fast-paced, highly compelling, buzz worthy new series. If you love characters morally compromised, richly drawn, and constantly surprising, you’ll love THE DESIRE CARD. I burned through the first book and can’t wait to get my hands on PREY NO MORE to see where this endlessly exciting story takes me next! Loved it!” – Daniel Palmer, critically acclaimed suspense author






DARK SPIRAL DOWN: Michael Houtz on Writing, Publishing, & Promotion

After a career in medicine, Mike Houtz succumbed to the call to hang up his stethoscope and pursue his other passion as a writer of fast-paced thrillers. A rabid fan of authors such as Clancy, Mark Greaney, Vince Flynn, and Brad Thor, Mike loves series writing with strong characters, fast pacing and international locations, all of which explode into action in his debut novel, a 2017 Zebulon Award winner. When not at the keyboard, he can be found on the firing range, traveling for research across the globe, or trying out the latest dry-fly pattern on a Gold Medal trout stream.

He lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

His latest book is the thriller/international/action novel, Dark Spiral Down.




About the Book:

COLE HAUFNER is a reluctant superstar in the professional mixed martial arts world. After his latest fight, his wife and child perish in a car crash. His grief deepens when his brother, BUTCH, a Delta Force operator, is absent from the funeral and reported missing by two furtive strangers who show up unannounced at the burial. Despairing, and acting on a tip, Cole travels to his childhood home in southeast China, looking for his brother.

Butch and his teammate, HAMMER, are the sole American survivors of a gun battle between their unit and North Korean commandos, both sides fighting over possession of a stolen suitcase containing a miniaturized fusion device that could either provide unlimited clean energy or be converted to an undetectable bomb seven times more powerful than a nuclear explosion. Leading the North Koreans is the sociopath, Commander PARK. Pressed into helping the Koreans is a disgraced former CIA operative, BARRETT JENNINGS.

Cole meets with the uncle who raised him, MASTER LI, and is warned to stop his search for Butch. Barrett discovers Cole’s identity (with the help of a genius computer hacker, LILLY), which opens a twenty-year-old wound when Barrett was blamed for the disappearance of Cole’s father, along with the man’s invention. Barrett enlists the 14K organized crime syndicate to help capture Cole. Hammer, separated from Butch during the fight for the device, thwarts the gang’s attempt to kidnap Cole, and the two then set off to find Butch and the device. All parties converge on the city library where Butch, now disguised as a monk, is attempting to communicate with the Pentagon. Barrett and Park capture Butch, while the 14K gang nabs Cole.

Danger mounts as Chinese authorities begin investigating foul play within their borders. Cole fights his way free of the gang and reunites with Hammer.  Both men find Barrett’s apartment and discover Lilly (the man’s stepdaughter), who divulges Barrett’s identity and plan. Cole clashes with Hammer, who is willing to sacrifice Butch in order to recover the fusion device. Lilly offers her help in exchange for her and Barrett’s rescue from Park’s grip. Meanwhile, Barrett discovers the true nature of the case the North Koreans are pursuing and, sensing he and Lilly are to be assassinated by Park once he has the device, frees Butch. Butch, trusting Barrett was sent to rescue him, leads the turncoat to the site where he hid the device. Barrett, hoping to make a quick fortune selling it, shoots Butch before escaping with the case.

Cole, along with Hammer and Lilly, arrives at the location of Butch and finds him gravely wounded. Butch fingers Barrett for shooting him and for stealing the case. Cole wants only to save his brother but Butch makes him promise to kill Barrett and recover their dad’s invention. The revelation that the device is his father’s scientific discovery propels Cole forward to fulfill his brother’s mission. Cole is forced to abandon Butch at a hospital. Cole pursues Barrett to a remote dock where the ex-CIA man is planning to escape China by boat. With the Chinese military now actively looking for Cole, Cole confronts Barrett and Park sparking a gunfight. Barrett kills Park. As Barrett turns the gun on Cole, Hammer kills Barrett. Cole, Hammer and Lilly escape via the boat, and the fusion device is safely returned.

Readers Love Michael Houtz!

“If you’re in the market for a fast paced, action filled, page-turning thriller, Mike Houtz delivers a must-read novel. I highly recommend this emotional rollercoaster of a book for every die-hard thriller reader…Get it ASAP!”

~Lima Charlie Review


“…this work proves that author Houtz is undoubtedly a rising star in the publishing world.”

~Andrea Brunais, Author


“Mike Houtz takes us on fast-pace adventure in Dark Spiral Down, a thrilling ride along the border between China and North Korea, where Cole Haufner is in pursuit of his Delta Force brother and a device that has the potential to change the world forever or destroy it.”

~Dan Grant, Author


Dark Spiral Down is a phenomenal debut novel by Mike Houtz. This book has everything readers of the genre love: a great plot, memorable characters, and a powerful voice. It’s a must-read!”

~Ammar Habib, Bestselling & Award-Winning Author, Editor-in-Chief of Thriller Magazine



Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Michael Houtz.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Great to be here! This is my first full-length book. I’d had a few smallish

Shorth stories in tiny, obscure fanzines published many moons ago. This is my first, hopefully of many, professional releases.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I’m with The Wild Rose Press, a small/medium New York traditional publisher.

Originally, I’d written the book as a self-publish title because I was working on a medical thriller intended for a Big 5 agency. Along the way, I’d won an award for my current book and received an offer for it to go the more traditional route. Definitely unexpected but a good way to go. I felt comfortable with them because of the excellent communication along the entire process.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I signed a contract in Febr of 2018 and am hitting the market with full release in May 2019. I’d always assumed it would take at least 12 months or more on my first title, and I wasn’t surprised.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I was thrilled! I felt one step closer to joining the ranks of people I’d read my entire adult life. I have a really long way to go but that first step was such a joy. The validation that people saw my work as worth investing in, and reading, made all that early writing worth the struggle. I think it was a (couple) of beers and a Hibachi dinner with the family.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I’d had a number of media campaigns going into the leadup of the release. Signed book giveaways, interviews, book reviews, the list seemed endless. My first big outing was a speaking engagement with the first writers group I’d ever attended back when I first starting looking into pursuing writing as more than just a little hobby. I traveled back to Las Vegas to meet with the wonderful people at the Las Vegas Writers Group. It was so odd being the center of the discussion and not in the audience listening to someone I wanted to become.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Certainly, I have a bit more confidence in what I’m doing. Before publication, there’s always a part of you wondering if you can do this sort of thing. Conversely, I have this newfound sensation I need to improve upon myself because I have this obligation to my publisher and new audience. I can’t rest on what I’ve done. There is always a push in the medical field for continuous improvement, and I feel that same obligation in writing. I guess I learned something valuable along the way.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I don’t know if I’m surprised, but the glacial pace of the industry is something I hadn’t seen when practicing medicine. I may have made dozens, if not hundreds, of decision, some as fast as a few seconds, that could make the difference in another human’s life. Let’s just say that’s no longer the case in my life. I am amazed at the support within the writing industry. By and large, everyone I’ve worked with or come into contact with are genuinely nice people—another refreshing change.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

The support from people who’ve read my book is mind blowing. Total strangers excited about the story line and their willingness to give shout-outs to others has been a tremendous reward. The interaction with someone who is now a fan of my work always fills my heart with gratitude. I want to keep providing those folks with that same enjoyment. It’s very motivating.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

It’s the same message I heard before and am now passing on—the only difference between a published author and those that haven’t is that the published author never quit. Be prepared to commit to the process and not just give lip service. Understand it can take years, and you WILL make it. Never quit!



Encounters Virtual Book Publicity Tour & $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

ENCOUNTERS by Patrick Stull

Author: Patrick Stull
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 250
Genre: Fine Art Photography Book



With photography at its base, Stull offers a nuanced explication of his encounters to allow the viewer an opportunity to form a relationship with his art. While looking within ourselves, exploring our own feelings, he hopes that he will inspire greater humaneness in response to his art.ENCOUNTERS is the second in a series of six large-format books in which artist, photographer and author, Patrick Stull explores a wide range of experiences. Using light and the physical body, the written word and his artistry he creates imagery that examines aspects of the lives of women.

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

Stull brings a powerful sense of the surreal and the spiritual to his work as he plots a course along the many paths of the human experience.

His imagery runs from the ghostly and ephemeral to the flowing and

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

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

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



is a collection of imagery created and compiled over the last 15 years to
inspire and challenge the observer while always empowering the subject. The
imagery is coupled with text, odes and perspectives about the human experience
and existence itself. The imagery is mostly an explication, an intimate view of
the lives of women and our relationship to them – on an individual and cultural
level. However, there are images of men included in this work. A portion of the
portfolio presents something more than a photographic image. Here the imagery
is developed into contemplative art pieces of the surreal genre, where the
viewer is transported into the depths of their own psyche challenging them to
see something new.





About the Author

American artist Patrick Stull has spent the last eighteen years mostly creating imagery about the lives of women. He searches for what lies beneath the surface of his subjects, empowering each one he encounters. He has recently ventured into the realm of surrealism, creating powerful imagery that reflects on our humanity
while dealing with the meaning and power of art.
Stull say’s, “My work has allowed me to venture past the camera into the realm of a humanist, an artistic life, delving into the intellectual, a more cerebral life experience, creating what I call ‘connectivism.'”
His ongoing work is based in large-scale digital photography accompanied by sculpture/body casts, composition art, painting, poetry/prose and drawings.
His art is then integrated, collectively, into exhibitions to provide the viewer a once in a lifetime experience. The presentation of the work is delivered to the viewer in a unique and emotionally powerful way.
Stull, 71, a self-taught artist, works in many artistic disciplines. Educated at San Diego State University
with degrees in psychology, economics and philosophy during the 1960’s, amidst the backdrop of the counter-culture revolution and the Viet Nam War, where his social consciousness and political views were shaped. Stull emerged from a Catholic Irish/German family, one of five children where work, discipline and religion took precedence over emotional expressions of the self – a differentkind of loving environment. Being a husband of thirty-plus years and father to two has taught him the power of kindness, love and commitment.

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


Visit his website at


50 Amazon Gift card

Patrick Stull is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Amazon Gift Card.
  • This giveaway ends midnight August 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on September 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!



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