Beyond the Books

Author Interviews: David H. Reiss, Author of Fid’s Crusade

While growing up, David H. Reiss was that weird kid with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He was the table-top role-playing game geek, the comic-book nerd, the story-teller and dreamer.

Fortunately, he hasn’t changed much.

David is a software engineer by trade and a long-time sci-fi and fantasy devotee by passion, and he lives in Silicon Valley with his partner of twenty-six years. Until recently, he also shared his life with a disturbingly spoiled cat named Freya.

(Farewell, little huntress. You were loved. You are missed.)

David’s first book, Fid’s Crusade, has just recently been published; this was his first novel-length project, but it certainly won’t be his last—he’s having far too much fun!

Website Link:

Twitter Link:

Facebook Link:


Consumed by grief, rage, and self-loathing, a brilliant inventor rebuilt himself to take on a new identity: the powered-armor-wearing supervillain, Doctor Fid. For twenty violent years, Fid has continued his quest to punish heroes who he considers to be unworthy of their accolades, and the Doctor has left a long trail of blood and misery in his wake. After a personal tragedy, however, Doctor Fid investigates a crime and uncovers a conspiracy so terrible that even he is taken aback.

Haunted by painful memories and profound guilt, the veteran supervillain must risk everything to save the world that he once sought to terrorize. Every battle takes its toll…but the stakes are too high for retreat to be an option.

In the end, it may take a villain to save the entire Earth from those entrusted with the Earth’s protection.


Fid’s Crusade by David H. Reiss is one of the most refreshing and lively takes on the superhero genre I’ve seen in years. His title character’s crusade is colorful, compelling, and takes wonderfully unexpected turns, and the novel delivers an impressive emotional punch (to go along with the super-powered ones). It stands easily alongside other character-driven superhero novels like Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible, Carrie Vaughn’s After the Golden Age, and Paul Tobin’s Prepare to Die!.” – Hugo award-winning author Tim Pratt



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

I’ve been writing for most of my life, but Fid’s Crusade was my first published novel; I’ve since published two more books in the series.

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 originally intended to go the mainstream traditional publishing route and had begun the process of seeking representation from a literary agent, but I eventually decided to self-publish instead.

There were several reasons for that choice. For one thing, I’d come to realize that my novel was within a sub-genre that didn’t seem to be getting much attention from the Big Five publishers. For another…I wanted to have printed copies of the novel in time for my Grandmother’s 100th birthday.

I’ve never regretted my decision.

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

Self-publishing is very quick; it only took a few days once I decided that I had all my files in order.

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

It felt simply extraordinary. Getting my first box of paperbacks delivered in the mail was a dream come true.

If I recall correctly, my housemates and I celebrated by going out for a stupidly expensive steak dinner.

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

I don’t regret my decision to self-publish, but I often lament the fact that I didn’t have a clear marketing strategy in mind before I started. I flailed about and didn’t really learn my way around advertising for quite a while.

One thing that I *did* do early on was to enter my novel in contests that accepted self-published works. Fid’s Crusade ended up being the winner in the “Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror” category of the 2018 Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize and was finalist under consideration for the annual grand prize.

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

I’m always learning, both in improving my craft as a writer and in slowly learning how to market my works effectively as a self-published author. Getting feedback from my readers has helped me recognize my strengths and to identify aspects of my writing style that I need to work on.

I learned a lot from writing Fid’s Crusade and am proud that I’ve been able to take those lessons and move forward with new projects.

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

It seems remarkably naïve in retrospect, but I have to admit that I didn’t have the slightest clue as to the amount of effort that would be needed in order to market and advertise my novel effectively.  I’d had this image in my head that I would simply release my book into the wild and readers would stampede forward to read it.

That isn’t quite the way that it worked out. But I’m learning.

One thing that has amazed me is the remarkable communities of self-published authors that are dedicated towards helping each other succeed. I’ve found facebook groups that teach marketing strategies, resources to find beta readers, etc. It’s simply wonderful how many tremendously successful authors have turned around and tried to share the secrets of their success with their peers.

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

I love getting feedback from my readers. There is nothing quite like the knowledge that I was able to entertain a stranger, that I was able to touch their emotions and inspire them to dream with nothing more than words on a page.

Having fans is the most rewarding thing about being a published author.

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

Read a lot. Write a lot. And learn to cherish critics who are willing to tear your writing apart; you’ll learn more from one person who hates your work (and is willing to tell you why) than you will from a thousand people who love it.


Interview: Geoff Armstrong, Author of Moments That Made America

Geoff Armstrong began his teaching career in 1965 after receiving a teaching diploma from McGill University’s Macdonald College. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Montreal’s Concordia University in 1967 where his major field of study was history. Armstrong credits writers such as Bruce Catton, and Thomas B. Costain, as well as the encouragement of his father who had little formal education, but a deep love of reading and of history, as the inspiration for his own life-long interest.

Throughout a 25-year teaching career he taught history at several grade levels and learned quickly that to reach the hearts of his students, history had to be made immediately and deeply relevant and accessible: that some event that took place centuries before those students were born had a direct and profound influence on every aspect their lives. He also learned that talking down or writing down to his students was a recipe for defeat. It is this awareness, shaped by a quarter century of teaching and countless questions by thousands of intelligent young people that has informed and shaped his writing.

His latest book is Moments That Made America: From the Ice Age to the Alamo.

You can visit his website at

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

This is the second time I’ve published a book. The first time was back in 2005 and it was self-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?

My first publishing venture was vanity or self-published. I chose the self-publishing route because I needed to get the book out of my system

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

It took about three months, but part of that time was taken up with indexing.

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

My first reaction to finding a “real” publisher rather than using the self-publishing route was elation. That feeling was followed quickly with the hope that my book would be enjoyed by readers. In didn’t really celebrate. I was a little overwhelmed/

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

I looked up ways that I could use the Internet to assist the publisher with promotion.

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

I have recognized and accepted the fact that I have a much bigger responsibility both to my publisher and to my readers to do my best writing.

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

First is the enormous changes that I have witnessed over the years. Second has been the amazing competition that publishers and authors face. Today, anyone with a $15 a year domain name and a cheap website can sell their book even if it’s a really awful book.

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

It’s a bit early to judge the full extent of what the rewards can be, but I have already seen the beginnings of what I would describe as the recognition that I have accomplished something that people only dream about. One thing, however, that I already know is that any possible financial reward is at the bottom of any list I might ever have contemplated.

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

Never give up. It took me 75 years.

About the Book:

From its geological birth during the breakup of the Pangaea supercontinent millions of years ago, through the nation-shaping key events that led to its political independence from the British superpower, and other crucial, sometimes miraculous events that worked to create the nation, Moments That Made America: From the Ice Age to the Alamo explores those defining moments, both tragic and inspirational that profoundly shaped the nation and its people – crucial turning points that worked inexorably to mold and make America. These pivotal “tipping” events formed America’s geographical, sociological, political and historical landscape. Part 1 culminates with the discovery of gold in California and the role it played in fulfilling America’s dream of Manifest Destiny.




Character Interview: Darrell Henshaw from Randy Overbeck’s mystery/ghost novel ‘Blood on the Chesapeake’

character interviews logo We’re thrilled to have here today Darrell Henshaw from Randy Overbeck’s new ghost story/mystery, Blood on the Chesapeake.  Darrell is a 25-year-old high school teacher and coach originally from the Midwest, but currently living in Oxford, Maryland.

It is a pleasure to have Darrell with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Darrell.  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?

Overall, the answer is yes. Dr. Overbeck seemed to capture me fairly well, though Dr. Overbeck could have gone with a little less about my OCD. I mean everyone has quirks, right? But that doesn’t mean, you have to expose them. Also, my life is more than ghost hunting, though I get it, that was what the story was about. I’m pleased Overbeck did a solid job of portraying my work with students, which is important to me. After all, I’m dedicating my life to serving them. Oh, and I really liked his description of my girl, Erin Caveny. He hit it out of the park with her.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently? Pretty much, I would answer yes. You notice, in the book, he didn’t describe me as one thing. I mean, after all, I’m a high school teacher and coach, though still a bit of a nerd. I’m also a ghost whisperer (I think I read one reviewer described me that way and I like the sound of it), even though that only gets me in trouble. I’m looking to mend a broken heart and fall in love with Erin. And, oh yeah, injustice really bothers me. I think Overbeck was able to capture these several facets of my life—okay, along with my OCD issues.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Readers might think it was my ghost hunting ability. I mean, how many people can see ghosts, much less have them communicate with you? But I think my best trait is that I care about the kids I serve, as a teacher and coach and beyond. As the story unfolded and I discovered what had happened to that poor student, Hank, my heart went out to him—even if he was already dead. Of course, I was out of my depth, but I felt compelled to do something to bring about justice for him and see that the people who had murdered him were punished.

Worse trait?

Without a doubt, my OCD. It’s always there but seems to flares up when I get nervous or overwhelmed. Sometimes—though I don’t admit this to many people—it can be so extreme that I’m paralyzed, sure that anything I do will lead to catastrophe. Early on, it got in the way of my dating Erin and, if I’m not careful, it can even leak into my work as a teacher and coach. I work on it all the time, and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made so far.

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!)?

I don’t really like this question because it’s always hard to decide who could play me. I mean, will he get my OCD right and not go over the top with it? Can he convey my love of teaching and concern for the students correctly? With all that said, I think perhaps Logan Lehman or Nicolas Hoult could do me justice. Maybe, I can get Darrell to have the director hire me as a consultant.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Most certainly, though I didn’t expect to. Before I came to Oxford for the new job, I had been dumped at the altar, kinda. (You’ll have to read the book for the details.) Anyway, I’d sworn off women, but then I met Erin and this stunning redhead with emerald eyes knocked my socks off. Not only is she beautiful, but she’s smart as a whip and brave. It’s a good thing too, because I needed her by my side as I worked my way through the mystery. I don’t think I would have made it without her. Scratch that, I definitely would not have made it without her.

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

That’s easy. When I was friggin’ dumped overboard in rough seas in the middle of Chesapeake Bay and thought for sure I was going to drown, I definitely thought it was all over. Then…well, the readers will just have to see for themselves.

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?

Of course, that would have to be one of the antagonists, or in plain speak, the villains. Probably I’d least like to switch places with Williams. He represents most of what I can’t stand—privileged, moneyed (well, I could tolerate the money) and arrogant individual who believes he is superior to others around him. A person who believes his money and position even allows him to use those around him. I’d be incredibly uncomfortable inside his skin.

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

I couldn’t have written it better myself. The bad guys get what they deserve and I get the girl. Oh, wait, that’s a spoiler, isn’t it? Can you delete that?

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

I already know Dr. Overbeck is planning more adventures for me—he’s talked with me about them—so here goes. Give me a chance to enjoy teaching and coaching the kids I like to work with. Don’t overdo the OCD; I’m not some kind of geek. And if you have to include another ghost, could you make it a beautiful girl, instead of a huge, scary guy? I’m just saying.

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

I’ve learned from Dr. Overbeck that he plans to include me in at least two more novels in the series he’s calling The Haunted Shores Series. (At least, I get to travel to these great resorts on the water.) For this next one, Overbeck has me headed to Cape May, New Jersey—which happens to be the most haunted town on the Eastern seaboard. Yikes. Then, there’s some talk about a trip for Erin and me to the Caribbean. I like the sound of that. After then that, well after that, he says it depends on what the readers want.



Dr. Randy Overbeck is a veteran educator who has served children for more than three decades as a teacher and school leader. Over that time, he has worked many of the roles depicted in his writing, with responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent. An accomplished writer, he has been published in trade journals, professional texts and newspapers. His first novel, Leave No Child Behind, won the 2011 Silver Award for Thriller of the Year from His new novel, Blood on the Chesapeake, is the first in the new Haunted Shores Mysteries series. Dr. Overbeck is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and an active member of the literary community. You can follow him on Twitter @OverbeckRandy, friend him on Facebook at Author Randy Overbeck or check out his webpage,



After being dumped by his fiancé, Darrell Henshaw, a young teacher and coach, strikes out for new pastures and lands a job on the Chesapeake Bay. He can’t believe his good fortune as Wilshire, a quiet, scenic and charming resort town on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay offers him his dream job—teaching high school history and coaching football and basketball—and, as it turns out, a second chance at love. Except no one told him that a student was murdered at the school and that the kid’s ghost haunts the hallways.

You see, Darrell sees ghosts, though he’s not happy about it. His first encounter with the spirit world did not go well and he has the OCD scars to prove it. But, after he’s hounded by the terrifying ghost, he decides to look into the murder, aided by his new love, Erin Caveny. Together, they follow a trail that leads back to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, after two locals who try to help are murdered and Erin’s life is threatened, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew. Find out more at:


Character Interview: Petra Simmons from Victoria Landis’ thriller, JORDAN

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Petra Simmons from Victoria Landis’ new thriller, JORDAN.  Petra is a twenty-nine-year-old chocolate shop owner living in West Boca Raton, Florida.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Petra.  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?

I was, though some of the early readers did remark that I was a bit too protective of my little brother, Andy. Come to think of it, Jordan told me the same thing. I’m not sure I agree with any of them.

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

At times, I came off as being too jaded. I really do care about people, and I want them all to be healed, but I keep asking the questionwhy was it my life that had to get interrupted like that? Jordan said someday I’d have that answer, but it’s still bugging me.

I can compartmentalize. When hard things happen, I can push them to the back of my brain and concentrate on what needs to be done. I’m a survivor.

Worse trait?

I’m impatient, and I lose my temper with people I need to help me. It makes my life harder.

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!)?

Hmmm . . . Alicia Vikander would be perfect. But she’d have to do an American accent.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I do. My boyfriend, Ben Nathan. He’s a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy. Looks pretty hot in the uniform, too. I could see Liam Hemsworth playing him.

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

Oh. Wow. Pretty early on. Which was why I was so hesitant to join Jordan in her ‘mission.’ Mission. I guess that’s what we should call it. I don’t know. But she convinced me. Convinced all of us.

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?

Not want to be? Easy. Jordan. I mean, all of us want to have special abilitieswe think. But I saw up close what that means. You’ll never have a normal life. And I really, really, liked my normal life.

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

Huh. Well, it ended with a hopeful situation, but Landis sure did make us pay a price for it.

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

Not sure she’d listenand she’s already told me I’m in Book 2but I’d tell her to allow us to go to the bathroom. (Laughs)

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

There are three books planned for this series, and yes, I’m supposed to be in all of them!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Victoria Landis is a professional writer, editor, and artist. A 16-year member, and former board member, of Mystery Writers of America, she Co-Chaired the SleuthFest Writers Conference from 2015-2018.

She’s taught at SleuthFest, the Authors Academy at Murder on the Beach, and the Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southeastern.



When Petra Simmons and her brother, Andy, help a seemingly homeless young woman, it immediately changes their lives forever. Within days, it’s clear the woman, Jordan Crissman, possesses an amazing ability—perhaps the most miraculous ability of all.

They realize in the current world of viral social media, they must be careful.  How best to employ the miracle without causing havoc? They plot a strategy.

Despite their plans, word gets out too fast, and the world comes running—invading and overwhelming South Florida—along with serious danger.

Find out more on Amazon


In the Spotlight: Josephine Baker’s Last Dance by Sherry Jones

From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.

Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine’s early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.

Purchase Josephine Baker’s Last Dance in paperback,  ebook,  and  audiobook  formats on  Simon and Schuster’s website (available on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble,  BooksAMillion,  Indiebound,  Kobo,  and  other sites). Learn more about Sherry’s books  at

Book Excerpt:

Just before she entered the stage door, a drop of rain hit her on the head. No, that was not a bad omen, only a reminder to do her best, to shine like the star she was, or would be. Wilsie came running up—Mr. Sissle was there, but Mr. Blake had yet to arrive. “You’ll knock ’em dead, Tumpy. Just do your dancing and forget the rest.” Josephine didn’t need to be told that. She was ready.

She flexed and stretched her arms as she walked with Wilsie across the stage, past the musicians gathering, trumpets and saxophones and drums and a clarinet, down into the auditorium, where a slender man spoke to a white-haired man at his side. He turned his head very slightly and looked her up and down from the corners of his shrewd, hard eyes. His mouth pursed.

“How old are you?” he’d said before Wilsie had even introduced them. The stage door opened, and a very dark-skinned man with a bald head hurried in, talking about “the damned rain,” scampering down the steps, striding up the aisle, shaking water from his clothes.

“Eubie Blake,” he said, smiling, holding out his hand to her.

“This is Tumpy, Mr. Blake, the one I told you about,” Wilsie said. “She’s here to audition for Clara’s spot in the chorus.”

The man with Mr. Sissle—the stage manager—motioned to her and she followed him up the stage steps. Did she know the songs? Could she dance to “I’m Just Wild about Harry”? Josephine wanted to jump for joy. She pretended to watch as Wilsie showed her the steps, which she already knew as if she’d made them up herself. Josephine stripped down to her dingy leotard, tossed her clothes on a chair, then ran and leaped to the center of the stage. This was it. She bent over to grasp her ankles, stretching her legs, then stood and pulled her arms over her head.

“Ready?” Mr. Sissle barked. The music started, and she began the dance, so simple she could have done it in her sleep. Practicing in the Standard, she’d gotten bored with it and had made up her own steps, throwing in a little Black Bottom, wiggling her ass and kicking her legs twice as high as they wanted to go, taken by the music, played by it, the instruments’ instrument, flapping her hands, step and kick and spin and spin and squat and jump and down in a split, up and jump and kick and spin—oops, the steps, she didn’t need no damn steps, she had better ones—and kick and jump and wiggle and spin. She looked out into the auditorium—a big mistake: Mr. Blake’s mouth was open and Mr. Sissle’s eyes had narrowed to slits. Don’t be nervous, just dance. Only the music remained now, her feet and the stage.

When she’d finished, panting, and pulled on her dress and shoes, Wilsie came running over, her eyes shining. “You made their heads spin, you better believe it,” she whispered, but when they went down into the aisle Josephine heard Mr. Sissle muttering.

“Too young, too dark, too ugly,” he said. The world stopped turning, then, the sun frozen in its arc, every clock still, every breath caught in every throat. Mr. Blake turned to her, smiling as if everything were normal, and congratulated her on “a remarkable dance.”

“I can see that you are well qualified for our chorus, Tumpy,” he said, and on his lips, the name sounded like a little child’s.

“You have real talent, and spark, besides. How did you learn to do that at such a young age? You are—how old?”

“Fifteen,” she said.

Mr. Sissle snorted, and cut Wilsie a look. “Wasting my time,” he said. Mr. Blake looked at her as if she’d just wandered in from the orphanage.

“I’m very sorry, there’s been a mix-up,” he said. “You must be sixteen to dance professionally in New York State.”

“I’ll be sixteen in June,” Josephine said. Her voice sounded plaintive and faraway.

“We need someone now.” Mr. Sissle folded his arms as if she were underage on purpose. Mr. Blake led her toward the stage door, an apologetic Wilsie saying she hadn’t known. Mr. Sissle followed, talking to Mr. Blake about adding some steps to “I’m Just Wild about Harry,” saying they should put in some kicks, that he’d been thinking about it for a while. Uh-huh.

“Come and see us in New York after your birthday, doll,” Mr. Blake said. “You never know when we might have an opening.” He opened the door and let the rain pour in before shutting it again. He looked at Josephine’s thin, optimistic dress. Where was her umbrella? She hung her head. He stepped over to retrieve a black umbrella propped against the wall and handed it to her. She took it without even knowing, her thoughts colliding like too many birds in a cage. She would have to stay in Philadelphia, she had failed—too young, too dark, too ugly—she should have lied about her age, what had gotten into her? Showing off, that was what.

And now Mr. Sissle disliked her, and she would never get into their show; it didn’t matter how many times she went back. As she stepped out into the rain with that big umbrella in her hands unopened and felt the rain pour down her face; she was glad, for now they would think it was water instead of tears, but when she looked back, Wilsie was crying, too, in the open doorway.

Seeing the men watching from a window, she stopped. They wouldn’t forget her; she’d make them remember. She walked slowly, her silk dress dripping, while Mr. Sissle gesticulated with excitement as he stole her ideas—authentic Negro dancing were the last words she’d heard—and Mr. Blake looking as if he wanted to run out there, scoop her up, and carry her back inside.

( Continued… )

© 2018 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Sherry Jones. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

About the Author

Author and journalist Sherry Jones is best known for her international bestseller The Jewel of Medina. She is also the author of The Sword of MedinaFour SistersAll QueensThe Sharp Hook of Love, and the novella White Heart.  Sherry lives in Spokane, WA, where, like Josephine Baker, she enjoys dancing, singing, eating, advocating for equality, and drinking champagne.

Her latest novel is Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.



First Chapter Reveal: THE DESIRE CARD by Lee Matthew Goldberg


Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Publisher: Fahrenheit Press
Pages: TBA
Genre: Crime/Suspense


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



Chapter 1

HARRISON SAT OUTSIDE THE OFFICE OF THE MANAGING DIRECTOR AWAITING HIS FATE. The end of the month meant slash and burn time, but he had successfully avoided the axe for twelve months now. Something told him this wasn’t going to be lucky number thirteen. After almost twenty years of dedication, he swore he wouldn’t beg, wouldn’t give that fucker Thom Bartlett any satisfaction in letting him go. Thom, with his faux British accent even though he lived in the U.S. since he was two, his nose up the CEO’s ass at every chance, his chastising of Harrison’s “extracurricular activities,” even though Thom was just as guilty of similar vices. Harrison stared at this fucker’s door, as if by monitoring he could will it to stay closed and ensure that he’d forever remain a part of Sanford & Co.’s Mergers and Acquisitions team.

A sharp pain in his abdomen caused him to pitch forward. His stomach churned as a flood of bile crept up his throat. Thom’s door now appeared so out of focus that for a second Harrison forgot where he was.

“Bad lunch?” his buddy Whit whispered, from a nearby seat.

Thom’s ancient secretary glanced up at them from her fury of typing and went back to punishing the keys.

Harrison clutched his stomach and let out a stifled belch. The air now smelled like he’d been dining on garbage. His chronic halitosis had only been getting worse. He could barely recall the last time he’d kissed Helene like when they were young with an appetite to devour. At most he received a peck while she held her breath. It’s not like her body hadn’t also changed, and yet he still found her a knockout: whip-smart and sophisticated, alluring whenever she was in deep thought and chewed on the earpiece of her reading glasses. Only once had he participated in a particular “extracurricular activity” outside of their marriage. It was something he instantly regretted—but she had been treating him like a pariah in the bedroom for almost a year, and he found himself in the arms of another. So now he let her give those little digs about his hygiene, one of the small pleasures she seemed to have during the scant few hours a day when he was home.

Whit seemed to inch his chair away from Harrison’s death burp and occupied himself with the new Breitling hanging from his wrist. Here the two were about to be sliced up and gutted and Whit had spent last weekend dropping $10K on a watch. Sure Harrison indulged in more luxuries than most and hated his old Tag enough to go splurging, but unlike Whit, he had two kids in uptown private schools to worry about.

“Drinks at Mobeley’s later tonight?” Whit asked, placing his hand on Harrison’s shoulder. “Whatever the outcome of this summons might be?”

Harrison nodded with tired eyes.

“You’re a VP here, Harry. Higher up on the rung than me. You’ve got a better chance of surviving.”

Whit’s hand still massaged Harrison’s shoulder, but his encouragement was not convincing. He had probably expected a similar consoling reply, except the room was spinning too much for Harrison to care.

“You’re not looking well,” Whit said. Thom’s secretary seemed to glance up from her typing again to nod in agreement. The two of them caught each other’s eye, as if they were conspiring against him. Well, we couldn’t all look like Whit. Just a few years younger but still with a full head of thick black hair only slightly graying at the temples, something that made him appear even more distinguished. Pecs and abs that he never shut up about. A terror on the racquetball courts who slaughtered Harrison every time. The son of a well-known surgeon at N.Y.U Medical with a hot Japanese wife barely out of her twenties whose goal in life was to be at his beck and call. Whit had been made an Associate two years earlier than Harrison and was able to maintain a rapport with the higher ups that Harrison could never manage: calling the CEO Dougie to his face instead of Mr. Sanford and still having a job the next day.

The secretary picked up the phone on her desk while still typing away.

“Certainly, Mr. Bartlett,” she chirped into the receiver, and then turned her disapproving gaze to Harrison. “Mr. Bartlett will see you now, Mr. Stockton.”

Harrison gathered up his briefcase and overcoat. He had to hold onto the seat as he stood, his feet pivoting and almost sending him to the ground.

“Gotta watch those martini lunches,” Whit said, slapping Harrison on the back and pushing him toward his doom.

Harrison put one foot in front of the other slowly, avoiding Thom’s inevitable decision for as long as possible.

Even if he wound up getting let go today, an outsider looking in might assume that his life was still going well: two decades of marriage, healthy kids, and a fantastic New York apartment; but he felt like he’d just been going through the motions for too long. A major chunk had been missing, a spark of excitement, adventure, and meaning. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was, just that he desperately longed for it to exist.

As he put his hand on the doorknob and turned, he tried to think of what would make him happy, something he wanted more than anything that would cause him to shoot out of bed every morning with a smile.

He squeezed his eyes shut, willing this desired vision to appear, but all he saw was darkness.

Who in their right mind didn’t covet Thom Bartlett’s office? High floor with downtown skyline views, fluffy clouds outside of the windows, a wet bar that Harrison eyed. Some good Scotch had already been opened. Harrison had forced himself to keep sober during a gobbled lunch of an Italian sub without his trusty flask to chase it down. Now his hands trembled at the thought of that Scotch burning his throat.

“Can I offer you something?” Thom asked, indicating the bar with a grand sweep of his arm, as if to say, yes, I have a bar in my office, which you, dear sir, never had here and regrettably never will.

“I might as well,” Harrison coughed, scooting over and pouring two shots worth into a glass. He sat across from Thom and put the comforting drink to his lips.

Thom fiddled with a stack of papers in a folder on his desk. He looked up at Harrison through the thick frames he kept low on his sloping nose, almost touching his top lip.

“So Sanford & Co. has become swollen lately. We’re too big for our own good right now and need to restructure–”

“Just spit it out,” Harrison said, knocking back half the glass of Scotch.

“I’m sorry, Harrison. We’re going to have to let you go, effective today.”

Thom delivered this news while fixing his Windsor knot, which Harrison figured had taken him numerous tries that morning to perfect. Harrison wanted to grab him by that knot and choke his tiny little bird head until it popped off.

“I’ve given practically twenty years to this firm,” he said, running his hands through his thinning hair. “I sleep here, I eat here. I barely exist at home anymore.”

“It’s the same for all of us, mate.”

“I’m not your fucking mate,” Harrison said, finishing the rest of the Scotch and starting to sway.

“Old boy, I am not the villain here. Every firm on the Street has been feeling this strain since the economy collapsed. Now we are offering you a solid severance package, which I think is more than generous. I’ll also save you the spectacle of having security escort you out.”

“What was Sanford’s reason?” Harrison asked quietly, not wanting to hear the answer but knowing that he’d be unable to leave without one.

Thom had already started pushing the folder across the desk, shutting Harrison up, getting this over with. His face looked exhausted from delivering executions.

“We’ve heard from some clients,” he said, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Heard what…?”

“Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately, huh, Harry?” he asked, his voice rising to the level of an uncomfortable squeal. “Your skin, mate…sorry, but you’re looking rather yellow, and your eyes, well there’s this permanent creaminess to them… I’m just using the client’s words–”

“Which client?”

“Which one hasn’t mentioned this is more like it.”

Harrison went to respond but now Thom was on a roll.

“As a VP, this is a face-to-face business. I go for manicures, mate, you think I like it–it’s a requirement. Maybe if you cut back on the drink….”

“I’ve advised some huge mergers here over the years.” Harrison pointed at Thom with his empty glass. “I didn’t realize this was only a pretty boys game.”

“You’ve let some messy pitchbooks slide through recently, as well.”

“Shouldn’t the analysts be blamed for creating them?”

“Don’t think they haven’t been dealt with, too.”

“So maybe I’ve gotten lax with a couple of pitchbooks for smaller clients, but never any of the big ones.”

“When…was the last time you’ve been to a doctor, Harry?”

“Doctors,” Harrison said, brushing them all away with a flick of his wrist. He had always believed that no matter what, doctors tried to find something wrong with you so you’d give them more business. And yeah, his skin had developed a yellowish hue as of late and sometimes his gut felt like it was rotting. Varicose veins had multiplied along his thighs and there were moments when he’d lose balance and have to go and dry heave in an empty stall once no one else was around, but he was a professional drinker just like his dad had been, and that son-of-a-bitch had put back a liter of gin and a pack of smokes a day up until the ripe old age of eighty-eight. Hell, who needed to live longer than that anyway? Life could be brutal, and if some booze, some smokes and some pills provided a relief from the banality of it all, then screw any doctor who’d tell him otherwise.

Thom tapped on the folder to indicate that it was time to wrap this up.

“I have to make sure that you understand what’s in the package,” he said, pushing it closer to Harrison until it practically fell off the desk.

Harrison opened it up and flipped through: six months pay, benefits as well, blah, blah, blah. He closed it shut and went to throw it in his briefcase.

“Tut tut,” Thom said, wagging his finger. “There’s something you missed that Mr. Sanford wanted to make sure you saw.”

Harrison re-opened the folder and spied a card clipped to the first page.


“What the hell is a Desire Card?”

Thom reached over and un-clipped the card.

“You have been a valued employee here. Mr. Sanford wanted to make sure you understood that we’re not parting on bad terms. This is what’s best for everyone.”

Thom handed him the card. Harrison turned it over and over with his stubby fingers.

“It’s like…a phone or something too?”

“Of sorts, just to keep their network as secure and exclusive as possible. We didn’t include this in everyone’s package, so you know. This is an organization that Mr. Sanford has a long history with, very hush-hush obviously, very elite. If you want something…anything…they have the power to make it happen.”

“Can they get me my job back?”

“Cute, Harrison, don’t ever lose that charm.”

Thom reached over to take the empty glass away.

“So tonight, Harry, instead of drowning your sorrows in a bottle, give the Card a try and have them ring you up a girl I guarantee you’ll enjoy. Or whatever else you wish. We promise we’ll give a glowing report to any future job prospects so consider this the start of a paid vacation.”

Thom stuck out his hand to shake, the nails manicured, no rogue cuticles to speak of; but the hand was delicate and unassuming, not someone with the power to hold Harrison’s life in his palm, just a meager messenger. Harrison slipped the Desire Card in his pocket and shook Thom’s hand, squeezing hard as Thom grimaced.

“And see a doctor,” Thom replied, giddy now that this ordeal was over.

“Watch out, you’ll be gutted next,” Harrison said, rising and feeling his legs give out. He collapsed back into the chair as Thom let out a spurt of a laugh.

“You all right there, mate?”

“Piss on England.”

Harrison gave standing up another try. He gripped Thom’s desk for support. Thom looked worried that Harrison might take the whole desk down with him, but Harrison was doing his best to maintain even though it felt like he was viewing Thom through the wrong end of a telescope.

“You can go ahead and send Mr. Carmichael in,” Thom said, fixing his Windsor knot again that had become slightly askew. “Best to Helene and the children.”

Harrison slung his coat over his arm and gripped his briefcase as he headed for the door. After a few steps, his vision became cloudier and he could feel the creamy tears falling from his eyes. They stung his cheeks as he grappled with the doorknob and lurched into the hallway.

In the front office, Whit was leaning over the secretary’s desk; the two engaged in hushed words that stopped once Harrison emerged. Harrison ran his finger from one side of his neck to the other. Whit gave him a solemn nod back, but Harrison couldn’t hold it in any longer and puked up the barely digested Scotch.

“Oh my!” he heard the secretary say.

He stared at his sickness bubbling on the floor, a mix of half-chewed capicola and salami in an amber soup with specks of dark red blood throughout, the clots of blood so dark they looked like tar. He wiped his mouth and trudged past all the onlookers toward the elevators outside, glad that a part of him would remain embedded in Sanford & Co.’s carpet.

As the elevator arrived and he stepped inside, he wished for the undoing of everyone involved in his termination, knowing that only their collective downfall could get him to shoot out of bed with a smile.


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.



Character Interview: Dr. Jane Beekman from Dwaine Rieves’ literary novel ‘Shirtless Men Drink Free’

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have here today Jane Beekman from Dwaine Rieves’ new literary fiction work titled, Shirtless Men Drink Free.  Jane is a 49-year-old pathologist and business entrepreneur living in Atlanta, Georgia.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Jane.  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?

It hurts to admit it, but yes—I think the novel’s portrayal of my role (including my failures) in this tough election year is accurate.  I like to think I’m a good doctor, but I do confess to weaknesses when it comes to what some people might call superstition.  But, tell me, who doesn’t have few superstitions—let’s call them

inexplicable beliefs—hiding away deep within him or herself?  I was rattled—my mother had just died, my husband was obsessed with clearing the name of his father—and here I was in the middle of a campaign trying to help my brother-in-law become the next governor.  And, Yes.  I’ll always believe it.  One morning, I saw the soul of my mother. 

Do I believe in ghosts or messages coming to us from some vaporous world?  No.  But the book is correct—I saw my mother’s soul. Only briefly, there—above her dying body.  I’ll never doubt it.  I felt her soul arise in the air, felt it hesitate, felt it come to me alone.  She knew I would believe in the sight, and so she kept fighting until her soul just couldn’t take any more.  My mother was a fighter right up until the end—even after the end.  Get it?  In the air, her soul was fighting, agitated, trying to tell me something.  You can call it crazy, but I know what I felt, what I believe.  I just wish I had known what the others were feeling.  Especially Jackson.  He is, thank goodness, the main character.  I so wanted him to succeed.  Selfish, I guess.  Now, I guess we can all see why.

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

Oh, I have sometimes wondered what it would have been like to be the main player in this story.  But that Jackson!  Such a talker, such a personality, such a hard campaigner.  And that body!  Teaches you all about the sacrifices a politician must make.  But Georgia is a tough old place, full of tough people.  It takes Jackson’s kind to win.  Despite all, I think my mother would have been proud of him.  Maybe she actually is!  There I go again—the soul thing.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m a worker.  When Jackson’s team asked me to help in his campaign, I only pretended to balk.  I was eager to work the crowds, to put my people-skills to work for the greater good.  God knows, you learn to work people in the business world.  Besides, I’m a pathologist—put me before a voter and I’ll show you where his weak parts are.  After all, medicine is an art, much like politics.  Jackson would agree with that—I’m sure of it.  Shitless Men Drink Free—it’s far more than a bar slogan.  I learned the hard way.  In politics, who doesn’t?

Worse trait?

I was selfish.  I wanted too much to please my mother—her soul—to help it find some peace in Jackson’s victory.  My husband Price was like that also, a fixer.  Only Price wanted to fix the legacy of his father.  Price calls it our Hamlet complex—Remember?  The ghost of the dead father-king telling Hamlet to “Remember me.”  Remembering too much can make you selfish, make the memory itself a king.  But that soul—I saw it.  I felt it.  I did.

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!)?

Oh, Sweetie.  I’ve got Meryl Streep written all over me.  But that’s a cliché, isn’t it?  My selfishness again!  Oh, I’d be pleased with any woman who can put up with all the Georgia election shenanigans.  The harder role would be Jackson’s.  He has to be a doer and a looker—and with the smarts to make a great governor.  Folks in Georgia are not that easy to please. 

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Of course, I do—I’m married to him!  But, as you know, there are a great many kinds of love, like that love you have for your parents.   Sometimes, I think that’s the strongest kind, the most moving.  Love for a parent—you just can’t break free of it.  Ask Jackson.  Remember Hamlet.  Sometimes—at least when it comes to strong-opinion people—I think Georgia’s not all that different from Denmark.

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

I don’t want to give away too much, but when that jaundiced guy showed up at the house, I knew things were going to get a whole lot more complicated.  That’s when I began to pay the penalty for my selfishness.  But I still believe it was worth it.  Her soul—I saw it.  I did. 

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?

Of course, I would like to be Lily—Jackson’s campaign manager.  Lily is smart—probably the wealthiest black woman in Atlanta.  Lily always believed me, believed in me.  Lily, in a way, was a substitute for my mother, the embodiment of my mother. “Poor people,” she kept saying.  “We are such poor people.”  And she was right.  It was her soul speaking.  There I go again.

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

Sweetie, the soul has no ending.  This I learned from my mother.  Or maybe it was Atlanta teaching me this lesson, maybe the campaign.  Maybe it was all that time we spent in Baltimore.  Shirtless Men Drink Free is a lesson I’ll always remember.  Even though I’m a woman; in my soul, I’m a shirtless man drinking free.  Let’s just say things turned out the best for Georgia.  And, considering Jackson, even the nation. 

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

I’d tell him to not worry so much about us folks in Atlanta.  He sure as hell can’t change us.  I’d tell him to rip off his shirt, to drink free when he starts thinking about that next campaign.  Isn’t that the dream for us all?  To be out there, free.  No.  It’s not about winning.  It’s about the soul we have to set free.

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

You’ll be seeing a lot more of my world in a poetry book that hopefully is arriving soon.   We’re not settled on the title yet, but it will have a lot to do with sex, greed and fried pies.   I’m from the South, see. 


Dwaine Rieves was born and raised in Monroe County, Mississippi.  During a career as a research pharmaceutical scientist and critical care physician, he began writing poetry and creative prose.  His poetry has won the Tupelo Press Prize for Poetry and the River Styx International Poetry Prize.  His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review and other publications.  He can be reached at 


In Shirtless Men Drink Free, Doctor Jane Beekman has seen her dying mother’s soul, a vision above the bed—a soul struggling with a decision, some undone task, something in this world too noble to leave.  The question that lingers—why?—prompts a shift in the doctor’s priorities.  In this election year, Jane must do what her mother, an aspiring social activist, would have done. Soon, Jane is embroiled in the world of Georgia politics, working to make sure her dynamic younger brother-in-law Jackson Beekman is selected the next governor, regardless of what the soul of the candidate’s dead father or that of his living brother—Jane’s husband—might want done. 

Indeed, it is a mother’s persistence and a father’s legacy that will ultimately turn one Beekman brother against the other, launching a struggle with moral consequences that may extend far beyond Georgia. Set amidst 2004’s polarizing election fears—immigrants and job take-overs, terrorists in waiting, homosexuals and outsider agendas—Shirtless Men Drink Free makes vivid the human soul’s struggle in a world bedeviled by desire and the fears that leave us all asking—Why? 

Engaging, beautifully written and resplendent with realism, Shirtless Men Drink Free is a standout debut destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.  A meticulously crafted tale that showcases an outstanding new voice in Southern fiction, Shirtless Men Drink Free has garnered high advance praise:

“This is brilliant and rare work, as attentive to an absorbing plot as it is to a poetic, chiseled cadence.”—Paul Lisicky, award-winning author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship 

“These characters are all too real. Rieves, as Faulkner, McMurtry and Larry Brown, writes people and story that will worm, burrow into you.  Change you even.” Adam Van Winkle, Founder and Editor, Cowboy Jamboree

“Vividly sensuous, this novel is full of textures, sounds and smells.  Rieves tells a terrific story with the sensitivity of a poet.” —Margaret Meyers, author of Swimming in the Congo

Published by Tupelo Press joint venture partner Leapfolio, Shirtless Men Drink Free will be published in trade paper (ISBN: 978-1-946507-04-4, 326 pages, $16.95) and eBook editions.  The novel will be available where fine books are sold, with an arrival on January 22, 2019.

SHIRTLESS MEN DRINK FREE is also available for pre-order on Amazon or at Tupelo Press:


%d bloggers like this: