San Francisco Secrets First Chapter Reveal

San Francisco SecretsTitle: San Francisco Secrets
Author: Greg Messel
Format: Paperback, ebook
Length: 405 pages
Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing

Noted novelist and newspaper editor Edgar Watson Howe once said. “A man who can keep a secret may be wise but he is not half as wise as a man with no secrets to keep”

As the spring of 1958 arrives in San Francisco, it seems that baseball player turned private eye, Sam Slater and his fiancée, TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan, are surrounded by people who have secrets.

A prominent doctor, John O’Dell is being blackmailed by someone who has discovered a dark secret from his past. When the private investigator trying to catch the blackmailer is murdered, Dr. O’Dell hires Sam Slater to try to pick up the pieces. Someone is playing for keeps and will do anything to protect their own secrets.

Meanwhile, Amelia begins her new job as an international stewardess which takes her on adventures to New York City, London, Paris and Rome. In hot pursuit is a womanizing older pilot who has his sights set on Amelia.

Their lives get even more complicated when a mysterious woman from Sam’s past returns.

Sam and Amelia’s relationship will be tested as they work together to solve the mystery on the foggy streets of San Francisco.


March 6, 1958

On a quiet sunny Thursday afternoon, a quaint, little Spanish-style bank on Macarthur Boulevard in Oakland was robbed.

Two career criminals, Lloyd Wells and Doug McAllister, who were down on their luck, were elated as they pulled off a big score and made their getaway towards San Francisco.

The small neighborhood bank, made of white stucco with a red tile roof, had minimal security provided by an ancient bank guard who seemed to be dozing when the robbers stormed in. In the middle of the afternoon, there were just a few old people putting some money in their passbook savings accounts or cashing their Social Security checks.

Wells and McAllister needed this score badly. They planned to grab their loot and head for the Reno area where McAllister had a small rundown house. The score at the bank would set them up for future exploits in Reno.

Wells was anxious to get out of the Bay Area where he had already had several run-ins with the law. The bank robbery went flawlessly. It was over in just a few minutes with the tellers quickly emptying their cash drawers into McAllister’s bag before the thieves fled.

After making a clean getaway from the bank in Oakland, the pair caught the on-ramp to the Bay Bridge and headed for San Francisco. They kept checking their rearview mirror but there was no one in pursuit, even though they expected a lot of heat after the robbery.

McAllister and Wells wanted to get as far away as possible until things cooled down a bit after the heist. Wells had a plan to stash most of the loot from the robbery and then come back later to retrieve it before they permanently relocated to Reno.

McAllister tried to do a quick count of their haul while Wells drove the car cautiously over the bridge into San Francisco. It all happened so quickly inside the bank, but to his astonishment, it looked like they might have gotten away with as much as $70,000.

Wells drove out to Ocean Beach near the Cliff House on the western edge of the city, where he had parked his light-blue and white 1953 Chevy. He pulled the stolen aqua-colored 1954 Ford into the parking lot by the beach.

The men emptied everything out of the Ford. Wells popped the trunk on his Chevy and retrieved a burlap bag. The men put their black masks, hats, gloves, and two bricks into the bag.

They inspected the interior of the stolen car one last time and then locked it. McAllister looked around and then threw the keys to the Ford as far as he could out onto the sand of Ocean Beach. Wells transferred the bag full of money into the Chevy. The two men got into the car and drove away slowly.

They drove north past the Cliff House on the roadway that snaked along the seaside heading toward the Presidio grounds.

“Pull over here,” McAllister said.

Wells complied. McAllister retrieved the burlap bag and walked to the edge of a cliff near China Beach that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. He gave the bag a few swings and then threw it as far as he could off the cliff. McAllister watched the bag create a large splash as it landed in the ocean below.

When McAllister returned to the car, Wells said, “Time to go visit uncle.”

The men then headed to a house on O’Farrell Street in the heart of San Francisco. Wells’ uncle, Andrew Griffiths, was 85 years old and lived in an old Victorian townhouse that appeared frozen in time.

Wells had always been very fond of his uncle, who had raised him after his troubled parents abandoned him. Andrew Griffiths thought of Lloyd Wells as the son he never had, but he knew in his heart that attempts to keep his nephew on the straight-and-narrow were largely in vain. Griffiths had stopped asking Lloyd about his activities. He had come to the sad conclusion that it was best if he didn’t want to know a lot of details about his nephew’s life.

Wells knew that his uncle’s health was beginning to fail and he was spending more and more time in bed. His uncle’s only child was a daughter, Yvonne, who lived in Vacaville near Sacramento.

As the men parked in front of Uncle Andrew’s house, Wells gave final instructions to his partner.

“When we get in there, I’ll go into the back of the house and keep my uncle busy. There are two high-backed overstuffed antique chairs with green upholstery by the front window,” Wells explained. “Take the bank money and stuff it in the bottom of the two chairs. Just take your pocketknife and carefully pry off the covering on the bottom of the chairs. Put the cash inside and reattach the cloth on the bottom of the chairs. Got it?”

“Got it,” McAllister replied.

“Just make sure the covering on the bottom of the chair is securely fastened so the wad of cash stays put. Put the cash in these paper bags and secure it to the frame of the chair.


“Yeah, no sweat,” McAllister said.

“It’s important that no one suspects that there is anything stashed in the bottom of the chairs. Those chairs haven’t been moved for a hundred years, so it’s the perfect place to hide our money until we come back to San Francisco and get it. I just want to make sure no one gets wise about what’s in those chairs.”

“Okay. You’re sure you can keep your uncle occupied and he won’t hear me tinkering with the chairs?”

“You could run a herd of cattle down my uncle’s hallway and he wouldn’t hear it. Just be quick about it and I’ll talk with him. I need to make sure he’s taken care of and I’ll explain that I’ll be out of town for a few weeks.”

“Sounds good. I’ll keep enough cash to get us through while we’re waiting for things to calm down,” McAllister replied.

“Right,” Wells responded. “Let’s get to work.”


First Chapter Reveal: The Spellcaster’s Grimoire by Mark All

The Spellcaster's Grimoire banner———————–

The Spellcaster's GrimoireBestselling witchcraft author Trish Sinclair has a shameful secret: she’s a lousy spellcaster, and the spells in her books belong to others. So when a dying warlock entrusts her with an ancient and powerful grimoire, she runs for her life from his murderer, psychotic witch Kate Cavanaugh. Kate pursues Trish relentlessly to obtain the grimoire, which holds spells to command the fearsome power of a magic crystal hidden in town—and Kate is determined to have that power.

When the town coven refuses to help Trish protect the grimoire, she is forced to turn to cynical warlock Aidan McCarthy, who has a secret agenda of his own, and Rain Devereaux, a novice witch whose spellcasting abilities are even worse than Trish’s.  As Kate unleashes the elemental might of tornados and ice storms on the trio, they desperately struggle to defeat her.

But Kate is too powerful, and she manages to steal the grimoire and unearth the crystal. Trish knows Kate will use the stone’s power to exact her deadly revenge on Aidan and the town coven unless Trish can manifest her latent magical abilities to save them.



Chapter One

Summer thunder shook the house as Trish Sinclair finished the incantation, punctuating it with a startled exclamation that extinguished the black candle on the coffee table.

Eerie timing, but surely coincidental. After yet another day of writer’s block, Trish had invoked a simple inspiration spell, but those didn’t generally bring down the wrath of nature.

Sighing, she closed her mother’s book of shadows, marking her place with the advance check for the third volume of The Spellcaster’s Grimoire, her bestselling series on recreational witchcraft. At the rate she was going, there would be no third installment.

Trish had used all the harmless, sparkly spells from her mother’s grimoire for the first volume. Benton Moorcroft, leader of the local coven, had supplied enough for the second. But all that remained were incantations more dangerous or complicated than she felt comfortable giving to the public.

Thunder crashed again, the flash of lightning brilliantly outlining the closed window blinds. Not the result she’d hoped for from the inspiration spell. Clearly the universe would provide her no epiphany tonight, nothing more exciting than a storm.

She ambled into the kitchen, opened the pantry, and scowled at the cans and boxes.

Carbs would be good consolation. Instant hash browns, instant mashed potatoes—ah, mac and cheese. She grabbed the box, ripped it open, and started water boiling for the noodles.

This writing business was getting to be too much like work. She’d have to bug Benton again for new material. As old as he was, and with so much experience, he’d probably forgotten enough trivial spells to fill an encyclopedia. He’d just have to dredge up a few more for her. Otherwise, she would be revealed to the world, or at least her agent and editor, as the two-trick pony she probably was.

On the other hand, Benton might not be so helpful now. He was a bit peeved with her for spicing up Volume Two with the creepy legend from her mother’s book of shadows.

The windows rattled with the rumble of thunder once more, closer now, as Trish blew her bangs from her eyes, tossed her hair over her shoulder, and drained the noodles.

She contemplated the entire stick of margarine the directions called for, shrugged, and dropped it into the pot. She added the orange powder from the foil packet, stirred, and abracadabra, behold comfort food.

Maynard, Georgia had been built two hundred years ago around an excavated, boulder-sized crystal that channeled the hidden energy of the universe and served as the source of the town’s magic. Soon after the community’s founding, the coven leader appropriated the group’s ancient book of spells and used it to harness the stone’s flow of power all for himself. The coven historian, the Keeper of the Grimoire, used a summoning spell to gather the other witches and warlocks—who burned their leader alive. Trish didn’t see what the problem with publishing it was. The story sounded apocryphal, yet added to the truthiness of The Spellcaster’s Grimoire. And got copies into the Regional Books sections of the local bookstores.

She did feel guilty she hadn’t told Benton she was going to include the legend of the grimoire and the crystal. She had put clues together from things Benton had said and inferred that the grimoire had not been incinerated in the warlock’s funeral pyre, but still existed. Not only that, she was pretty sure Benton was the Keeper of the Grimoire. She’d told herself he’d be flattered by her broad hints that even today the coven leader protected the grimoire.

Still, the fact that she hadn’t told him about it before turning the manuscript in was a pretty good indicator she’d unconsciously known she shouldn’t publish it. But if the legend wasn’t true, why had he gotten so upset? Even if it was true, why had he gotten so upset?

Whatever, she was starving. Emotionally, anyway.

As she spooned a giant orange noodle-glob onto her plate, something heavy slammed hard into the sliding glass doors to the back yard.

“Holy freakin’ crap!”

She jumped and dropped the dish to the floor. The plate shattered, sending shards of stoneware and clumps of mac and cheese in all directions, but her gaze was on the door.

A body slumped against the glass, a haggard face plastered to it in a smear of blood.

Her pulse and breath racing, Trish started again in recognition of the crumpled form.


Stepping around her ruined dinner, she ran to the door and opened it carefully with one hand, catching his weight with the other as he collapsed into the kitchen.

“Benton! What—” She gasped as he fell against her, and she saw the intricately fashioned hilt of a dagger protruding from his back.

“Ohmygod, ohmygod . . .” Trish felt dissociated from reality, from her own body. A moment ago she’d been making comfort food, now the world had shifted on its axis, and she had a bloody medical emergency on her hands. Panic raced through her. She didn’t even know CPR.

Dizzy with an adrenaline rush, she lowered Benton to the floor, kneeling and cradling his upper body in her arms, barely aware of the tears stinging her eyes.

She had to get her shit together. Now. Get that knife out. As she stared at it, a dull shimmer emanated from it. Magic. She cautiously touched the hilt, then wrapped her fingers around it and pulled.

Benton screamed, and she cried out herself, releasing her hold on the dagger, leaving it in him.

Now what, now what? Her pulse pounded in her temples like a tympani, scattering her confused thoughts. She couldn’t handle this herself, she had to get help. “Hang on, I’m calling 911!”

Benton turned his face up to her. “No . . . Trish . . .”

“Shhh!” She rose and started for the phone, but he grasped the hem of her jeans.

“They . . . they can’t help me,” Benton wheezed, his eyelids half-lowered, his head dipping. “Listen. You’ve got to protect the book.”

She kneeled beside him again. “I’ve got to call for an ambulance!”

“Trish!” Benton grabbed her blouse and pulled her face close to his.

“I’ve brought terrible trouble to you, girl.” He coughed, and blood bubbled on his

lips. “I’m going to give you a two-part spell in case she finds you. Then you get out of here, get Aidan, and get the book. If she gets her hands on it . . .”

He was delirious. Shaking with frustration, Trish tried to pry his fingers loose from her blouse. “I’ve got to call 911! I’m getting help, or you’re going to die.”

He shook his head. “I’m already dead, you can’t save me. But here’s what you can do. What you must do.”

Trish blinked tears from her eyes, her emotions chaotic and her breathing so fast she was lightheaded. She had to get him to cooperate. “Okay, say what you’ve got to, then

I’m calling.”

“Hush, listen! You exposed our secrets, silly girl, and you’re going to make it right!”

His words cut her to the core—silly girl—she knew the truth when she heard it.

Benton’s head sagged again. “Sorry . . . Blade of Truth . . . The witch . . . she wants the grimoire.” Bright blood further stained his teeth as he spoke. “You revealed . . . that the book still exists. You’ve got to protect it, keep it from her.”

“So it is true?”

Taking a deep breath, Benton continued. “Go to Aidan McCarthy . . .”

“The town drunk?” She said, confused. McCarthy lived in a double-wide on a large wooded lot at the edge of town. He was rumored to have a Masters degree in philosophy, but he did pickup manual labor for a subsistence living. When he wasn’t working, he was at a bar or getting stoned in his trailer. He had a reputation among the local witches as a loner, a renegade, allegedly more powerful than anyone else in Maynard. Ironically, they feared he was going to have eight too many beers some night and start mouthing off about magic and witches, but McCarthy was the only magical resident of the town who’d flatly refused to talk to Trish, let alone contribute a spell to her collections.

“Tell him . . .” Benton’s breath rattled as he paused. “Tell him you’re the guardian now. He’s got to help you. Aidan was once my pupil. He can get you past my spells.”

“Okay, okay,” she said. Whatever it took to get him to let go of her. “I’ll call him.

Right now I’m calling the EMTs.”

Benton shook his head, spraying droplets of blood on the linoleum. “Wait.” He blinked, his eyes losing focus for a moment, then fastening on her again. “I’ve got to give you the spell to get away from her. She’s not far behind me.”

He was losing it. “The witch? The person who did this to you?”

He shushed her. “Listen and remember. Escape spell. You can handle it, you’re good

at illusions. Well, passable.” He clutched her hair, drew her face close to his, and said a nullification spell that would prevent the spell he recited next from taking effect. Then he murmured a simple incantation in her ear and repeated it. “Have you got that?”

She nodded, tried to move away, but he yanked her hair again and said, “The second part, to animate the constructs . . .”

After he’d done another nullifier and given her the rest of the spell, his fingers loosened, and she pulled them from her hair. “Okay. But now I’m calling 911.”

“No time. You have to leave.”

Trish got to her feet, shaking, wobbly on her heels.

Thunder exploded just outside, the sound of angry gods.

At the front of the house, a deafening banging began, the door and windows rattling in their frames as if battered by a hurricane force wind.

Benton looked up from the floor, eyes fluttering. “She’s here.”

Author Interview: Elyse Douglas & WANTING RITA

Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia University. She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist. She and her husband, Douglas Pennington, have completed three novels: The Astrologer’s Daughter, Wanting Rita and a Christmas novel to be released later this year.

Douglas grew up in a family where music and astrology were second and third languages. He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years. With his wife, Elyse, he has helped to pen The Astrologer’s Daughter and Wanting Rita.

When asked how they write a novel together, Doug often answers, “Well… If Elyse is dismissive and quietly pacing, then I know something’s not working. If I’m defensive, dramatic and defiant, then I know Elyse will soon be scowling and quietly pacing. We remind ourselves of Rita and Alan James in our novel, Wanting Rita. How the books get finished, I don’t know.”

Elyse Douglas live in New York City.To learn more about Elyse Douglas, go to their website:

To get your e-copy of Wanting Rita by Elyse Douglas at Amazon:

Visit Elyse Douglas on Twitter:

Like Elyse Douglas on Facebook:

Welcome to Between the Covers, Elyse and Douglas. Why was writing Wanting Rita so important to you?


We like to say that WANTING RITA descended from the ether: plot, emotion, characters and setting.  The idea came in one night – actually, early one morning.  The story was like an anxious friend, who kept saying “stop messin’ around here, and finish this thing.  Here it is, take it down.”

What was the experience like writing Wanting Rita?


The book seemed to be waiting for us every morning; we worked on the first draft 6 days a week, 6 hours a day.  We worked on subsequent drafts for several years.  We are extremely proud of the final product.

How did you come up with the title?


The title was a natural outcome of Alan’s passionate and persistent love for Rita.  After we decided on the title, we realized that one of the paintings which hangs in our living room would be the perfect visual complement for the title.  It is an oil painting by Elyse’s mother, Monique Parmentier.  It depicts a scene in the last part of Section One, when Alan James is watching Rita, painfully aware that he has lost her and she is going to marry someone else.  Since we self-published, we were able to choose the title and cover design.

Can you tell us more about your main character, Dr. Alan Lincoln?

Alan James Lincoln is a highly intelligent snob, who falls for Rita in their senior year in high school.  She excites him and baffles him.  Her beauty awakens a young passion that engulfs him. Through his persistent and loyal love for her, he grows both as a boy and a man.


What are his strengths and what are his weaknesses?

Alan is thoughtful and smart.  He contemplates the big issues in life.  His weakness is that he is haughty, insecure and, at times, indecisive.  Because of his insecurity, he fails to tell Rita a secret which threatens to destroy their relationship when they re-unite 15 years later for a passionate summer.

What about Rita? Can you tell us more about her?
Rita Fitzgerald is a beautiful, impulsive and intelligent young woman who shoots to small-town stardom after winning a local beauty contest.  Her family is poor and her father has a dark past.  Rita carries emotional scars from that past.  She falls in love with Alan, a smart rich kid, but believes that nothing will ever come of it.  So, she marries someone else.  That marriage ends tragically 15 years later, and that’s when she and Alan reconnect.

Are there any other supporting characters we need to know about?


Frank Fitzgerald, the antagonist, is Rita’s father.  He’s a very dark character:  bitter, abusive, controlling and manipulative.  Alan’s wife, Nicole, also plays a supporting role.  There is a very funny and poignant section of the book, when Alan is at a party held to celebrate Nicole becoming a partner at the law firm where she works.  He slowly realizes that his wife is sleeping with her boss.

Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?


It’s a flashback.  Alan and Rita are seniors in high school.  Alan has come up with a way to ask Rita to go out with him, but he is afraid of rejection and ridicule.


What about page 65?


Another flashback.  Alan and Rita are on their first “night-time” date, at a secluded spot overlooking a lake.  They are dancing to music from the car radio and suddenly Rita does something that angers and disappoints Alan.

Now that Wanting Rita has been published, what’s your next project? 


We are currently completing two novels with Christmas themes, which we plan to publish in the fall.  They are called The Christmas Diary and Christmas Ever After.

Thanks, Elyse and Douglas, for this wonderful interview. Do you have
anything you’d like to tell our readers that haven’t been discussed?


We would love to hear our readers’ responses to Wanting Rita.  Comments can be left on our website, or through reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Author Interview: Kevin Burk & ANGER MASTERY

Kevin B. Burk has been helping people around the world to improve their lives and relationships since 1996 through his astrological counseling and relationship coaching practice. His humor, wisdom and compassion are always present, in his books (ten so far, including Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart, The Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life, and his newest book, Anger Mastery: Get Angry, Get Happy), his classes and workshops, and his interactions with his clients and students. Kevin’s focus is always on the practical, exploring how we can actually use astrology and spiritual practice on a daily basis to transform our lives.

In the astrology world, he is best known for making Classical Astrology accessible to everyone, taking complex and abstract concepts and showing how they can be used to create concrete, specific and practical interpretations. Kevin’s website, The Real Astrology with Kevin B. Burk is one of the premiere astrology resources on the Internet. His book, Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart is a textbook used at Kepler University in their Undergraduate Astrology Degree program, and has been translated into Russian, and is currently being translated into Bulgarian. Kevin’s articles have appeared in The Mountain Astrologer, the Australian publication,Well Being Astrology, and in Llewellyn’s Moon Sign books.

In the non-astrology world, Kevin is best known for his unique approach to understanding and improving all human relationships through The Relationship Handbook andThe Relationship Workshops.

Kevin has released a series of DVDs of his Law of Attraction workshops: the self-contained Prosperity & The Law of Attraction, and Astrology & The Law of Attraction, a series of 7 DVDs recorded live in Houston, TX at a weekend workshop for the Gulf Coast Chapter of NCGR.

Kevin has developed a revolutionary program for spiritual growth called Archetypal Astrology: The Hero’s Journey. This intensive program guides participants through the process of meeting and moving into Right Relationship with each of the seven Astrological Archetypes (you may know them as the seven personal planets).

Kevin is currently synthesizing astrology and spirituality into his next series of books: Astrology & The Law of Attraction, Prosperity & The Law of Attraction andRelationships & The Law of Attraction.

You can visit Kevin’s website at

To get your paperback copy of  ANGER MASTERY by Kevin Burk:

To purchase a copy of ANGER MASTERY at Barnes & Noble:

Buy the book directly from the author at

Like Kevin Burk on Facebook:

Welcome to Between the Covers, Kevin.  In my experience, the world just seems like an angry place.  Do you find that to be true?

 Kevin: Without a doubt. In fact, that’s what prompted me to write Anger Mastery: Get Angry, Get Happy.

I can’t speak for the rest of the world (because I don’t have any experience of it), but Americans are angry. The amount of anger in this country today is unprecedented. The most visible way that it was manifesting at the time I was writing Anger Mastery, was through the Tea Party. Whatever your opinions of the Tea Party’s agenda, or of the Americans who have chosen to participate in this movement, what fuels the Tea Party is anger. It doesn’t matter what the members of the Tea Party think they’re angry about. All that matters is that because the Tea Party operates entirely from the consciousness of Anger, they will never improve any of the conditions they’re fighting to change; in fact, they will only succeed in making them worse.

A more recent expression of the level of anger in this country is the “Occupy” movement. Because this movement doesn’t have a set agenda, it hasn’t yet been co-opted; however, it’s no longer news, either.

I look at the political landscape, and see an unprecedented lack of civility, fueled by anger.

As much despair (and anger) as I felt about the conditions in America, I also had to face up to a difficult truth: None of this was any of my business. I have no interest in politics or government, and I’m not an elected official, so there’s absolutely nothing I can do, personally, to change the tone of the political landscape.

Still, I was inspired to take some kind of action. I just had to find a way to act that came from integrity, and stayed within the limits of “My Business.”

I can’t do anything to get other people to change their behavior; however, I can at least make it possible for others to move out of Victim Consciousness if they choose to do so. One of my particular talents is taking extremely complex, difficult concepts and making them accessible to a much greater audience. So, I wrote Anger Mastery: Get Angry, Get Happy.

Why are people in denial when it comes to admitting they have an anger problem?

Kevin: I’m not sure I’d call it denial; it’s more a question of ignorance. Our entire culture has a problem with anger: it’s considered to be unacceptable. From this perspective, people that have problems with anger are the ones who act out from anger, and are unable to control their rage. The general assumption is that if you don’t get angry, you don’t have a problem with anger.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Anger isn’t inherently bad, or inherently destructive. Anger is a powerful source of energy, like fire. And like fire, unchecked, uncontrolled, and unharnessed anger is dangerous and destructive. However, when you learn how to master your anger, you are able to use that energy in ways that are powerful, transformative and constructive. Mastering your Anger is the key to becoming truly happy.

The people who believe they don’t have a problem with anger because they never get angry need this process (and this book) most of all. What they’ve done is turned down the volume, so they don’t notice their anger, and then they invite other people to steal their energy, because they can’t use it. The problem is that you can’t just turn down the volume on the bad feelings. If you can’t feel your anger, you also can’t feel happy. And the more you suppress these feelings, and let other people steal your energy, the less happy you will become. And the worst part is that over time, you’ll forget that life could be any different than it is. Even the possibility of happiness won’t be a part of your reality anymore.

Why is reality subjective?

 Kevin: No matter what you experience, it always feels real to you. When you’re dreaming, the dream is completely real. When you wake up, that feels completely real. You can’t compare two experiences and say that one feels more real than the other. Reality is subjective, because your experience of reality is defined by what you’re experiencing at any given moment.

In fact, there are two types of reality. There’s the “little r” reality, which includes everything that exists in your world. And then there’s the “Big R” Reality, which includes everything that exists, period. Your “little r” reality is a very, very, very small part of the “Big R” Reality.

The “Big R” Reality includes things like war and famine. I know that these things exist in the world; however, they don’t exist in my world. They’re not a part of my “little r” reality.

Happiness also exists in the “Big R” Reality. If happiness isn’t currently a part of your “little r” reality, then all you need to do is to change your “little r” reality, so you’re experiencing the part of the “Big R” Reality that includes happiness.

The Anger Mastery Process shows you how to do this.

How is your approach to anger unique?

Kevin: First, this approach has absolutely nothing to do with anger management. As popular as “anger management” is, it doesn’t do very much. When you manage your anger, you still experience it in painful, negative ways. The purpose of anger management is to teach you how to keep your anger to yourself, so it doesn’t bother other people. Anger management doesn’t help you to take back your power, it doesn’t help you to move out of Victim Consciousness. But most importantly, managing your anger won’t help you to get happy.

And besides—anyone who’s ever worked in an office knows first-hand that “management” is a colossal waste of time and energy.

When you master your anger, however, you take back your power. You’re no longer at the mercy of your anger. In fact, when you master your anger, you make anger your bitch. The surface results are the same as with anger management—others see you as nicer, less aggressive, and less prone to inappropriate expressions of frustration and rage. That’s all on the outside. On the inside, you’re no longer miserable. You feel empowered, you feel energized, and you feel infinitely happier than you did before.

Second, I address the true nature of Anger. Anger isn’t just an emotion; Anger is also a specific, calibrated level of consciousness. I introduce readers to the work of Dr. David R. Hawkins, the foremost researcher into human consciousness. This distinction is critical, and among other things, allows you to fully understand the difference between being angry (living in the “little r” reality of Anger) and feeling angry (experiencing the energy of anger, but not being limited by the consciousness of Anger).

And third, my approach incorporates a liberal dose of humor. Seriously. Anger Mastery: Get Angry, Get Happy is laugh-out-loud funny.

After writing the book did you come away with an even better understanding of people’s anger issues?

Kevin: Aha! A trick question! After writing the book, I came away with an even deeper understanding that other people’s anger issues are none of my business.

That’s the fine line that I had to walk through this entire process. I absolutely know how powerful the Anger Mastery Process is, both from personal experience, and from observing the transformations in my clients and students who have embraced these techniques. But the most fundamental and important component of the Anger Mastery Process is integrity, which requires that I stay completely within the boundaries of “My Business.”

It’s a rather delicate balance. It means that I can write a book about anger, and make available simple, practical techniques that will absolutely help anyone to move out of Victim Consciousness and become Happy; however, it also means that it’s none of my business if anyone follows my advice or not.

What this experience has done is deepen my compassion for other people. I can recognize how much pain they’re in, because that was my “little r” reality ten years ago. Compassion is not pity, however (pity comes from Victim Consciousness). It’s not my business to get you to change your life. But if you would like my support in that process, I’m both willing and able to give it.

Can you provide us with an excerpt?

Kevin: Sure. This is from Chapter 5: The Lure of Victim Consciousness

Now that you know how to get out of Victim Consciousness, let’s explore why you would want to go there in the first place.

The appeal of Victim Consciousness is all in the marketing. First of all, they never call it Victim Consciousness; they call it First Kingdom, which tested much better in the focus groups. It sounds exclusive and lavish, and it’s first, so it must be the best.

It’s no wonder that the sales pitch for Victim Consciousness is so compelling: Desire lives in the heart of First Kingdom. The ads and billboards and commercials all promise such wonderful experiences, and in such big, easy-to-read print. You find yourself wanting these experiences so badly that you don’t bother to read the fine print. But beware: the big print giveth, but the fine print taketh away. Consider this chapter to be a magnifying glass. It’s time for you to read the fine print.

The Sales Pitch: No Pressure, No Responsibility, and No Blame

Are you carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? Is your life filled with obligations and duties that you’d rather avoid? Does it seem like no matter how often you eat all of your vegetables, you never get dessert?

Well, take a vacation from all of the pressure and responsibility of your life and spend some time in First Kingdom! Leave your cares and obligations at the door. When you come to First Kingdom, your life is no longer your problem. You don’t have to worry about deadlines or promises, or obligations. In First Kingdom, you get to focus on you.

You know what else you don’t have to worry about in First Kingdom? Consequences! If things start to fall apart (and rest assured, they will), it won’t be your fault. How could it be your fault? It wasn’t your responsibility! Sure, there will be a lot of finger-pointing and trying to place the blame, but none of the blame will ever stick to you. Because nothing is your fault, you can’t be punished or held accountable.

Isn’t it time to let someone else do the work and be responsible? Aren’t you entitled to a break? Come back to First Kingdom! We’re waiting for you!

The Fine Print

When you give up responsibility, you must also give up your power.

The reason that nothing is ever your fault is that no matter the situation, you are the victim: impotent, marginalized, abused and weak. No one expects you to succeed at anything.

When you give up your power, responsibility, and accountability, you forfeit your ability to express yourself creatively.

When you give up the risk, you also give up the reward. Being immune to blame means you are ineligible to receive credit, validation, or appreciation.

Thanks for stopping by!  What’s next for you?

Kevin: I’m working on a video and planning a social media campaign to make people aware of the Anger Mastery Book Study Facilitation Guide. This is a free resource (available at that allows anyone to facilitate a six-week class/book study on Anger Mastery. I think this is the sort of thing that many spiritual communities and churches would find extremely valuable. Plus, it’s a great way to sell more books.

Author Interview: Gus Pelagatti & THE WICKED WIVES

Gus Pelagatti is a practicing trial lawyer with over 47 years of experience trying civil and criminal cases including homicide.  He’s a member of the Million Dollar Advocate Forum, limited to attorneys who have been recognized as achieving a standard of excellence as a trial expert.  He has spent years researching the true story of the 1938 insurance scam murders, interviewing judges, lawyers, police and neighbors involved in the trials.

Gus was born and raised within blocks of the main conspirator’s tailor shop and the homes of many of the wives convicted of murdering their husbands.

His latest book is The Wicked Wives.

You can visit Gus’ website at

To get your paperback copy of  THE WICKED WIVES by Gus Pelagatti:

To purchase an e-copy of THE WICKED WIVES for your Kindle for $2.99:

To purchase an e-copy of THE WICKED WIVES for your Nook for $3.99:

Follow Gus Pelagatti on Twitter:

Like Gus Pelagatti on Facebook:

Welcome to Between the Covers, Gus. Why was writing The Wicked Wives so important to you?

In the year I was born, Philadelphia was rocked by the poison murder scandals of 1938. 17 women were arrested for murdering their husbands for insurance. A like number of male co-conspirators were also nabbed.

The males would seduce a lonely wife, persuade her to insure her spouse, and then teach her to poison the husband without arousing the suspicions of the doctors and police.

The main male conspirator had a tailor shop two blocks from our family row house in South Philadelphia.  The shop was the scene of the seductions.

As I grew older, I would eavesdrop on adult conversation concerning many of these wives.  My mother knew quite a few of the characters and filled me in as to the facts as I grew older. I vowed I would write about these wives and their lovers one day.

What was the experience like writing The Wicked Wives?  Was it a true labor of love?

Yes.  As I wrote I continued to research ascertaining new facts for the novel That was exciting

Your book is based on Philadelphia’s infamous 1938 murder scandal.  How much of the book is fact and how much is fiction?

The major part of The Wicked Wives is based on truth.

How many years of research did it take to get all the information for your book?

When I became a lawyer in 1964, I interviewed judges, lawyers, police and neighbors who were all involved in the 1938 scandals. I researched the book between 1964-2008.

Can you tell us about the characters in the book?

Cast of Characters in “The Wicked Wives”

The Wives

Lillian Stoner: The beautiful, blonde, snobbish society wife abandons her bankrupt husband Reggie to exchange sex for money with Bill Evans, her rich political uncle. She depends upon her lover Giorgio to feed her opium habit, and she conspires with him to murder her husband for insurance money.

Eva Russo: The risqué redheaded nymph loves sex with men, the night life and gambling. In fact her unpaid gambling debts lead to punishment by the mafia. She buries two husbands for insurance money. But the one thing she desperately desires she can’t have…Giorgio.

Joanna Napoli: The bosomy gift shop owner is madly in love with Giorgio and is willing to do the unthinkable to marry him … join Giorgio in a conspiracy to murder her drunken husband.

Rose Grady: Another of Giorgio’s playmates who conspires with him to bury three husbands and leaves the fourth to die at home before fleeing the city to avoid arrest. Her past earns her the name “Kiss of Death Widow.” She always wears mourning black and a veil.

Sadie Lamb: She owns a boarding house with her husband and rents rooms to three male borders. Sadie loves to play musical beds with her borders for a fee. Eventually all three borders and her husband have to be treated on the same day by a physician for a venereal disease. Giorgio persuades the borders to join a conspiracy to murder Sadie’s husband for insurance money.

The Bad Guys

Giorgio DiSipio: He is a mastermind conspirator — a stunning lothario and local tailor who preys on lonely, disenchanted and unfaithful wives by convincing them to kill their spouses for insurance money. He is known to sexually service at least four women on the couch in the rear of his tailor shop in one day.

Boris “Rabbi” Feldman:
 A colorful flimflam man and Giorgio’s number one co-conspirator. He introduces many lonely wives to Giorgio and helps to seduce them. He knows where most of Giorgio’s skeletons are buried.

Bruno Bianchi a/k/a “Giant”: The Giant is a tall man with gray hair and a mustache who sits in the passenger seat of a Buick driven by a mysterious lady in black dressed as though in mourning. She wears a thick black veil over her face to hide her identity. Giant systematically assassinates the poison conspiracy witnesses while the lady in black drives the get-away car.

Deputy Mayor Bill Evans:
 He is the corrupt head of the Philadelphia Republican Party who is hell bent on protecting his niece Lillian Stoner from murder charges. He hates first Assistant Tom Rossi who won’t help him to protect his niece Lillian from murder charges.

The Good Guys and Gals

Tom Rossi: He is the First Assistant D.A. assigned the job of arresting and prosecuting all conspirators including wives in the poison murders. He also wants to be elected D.A. but incurs the wrath of Deputy Mayor Evans when Rossi refuses to protect Evans’ niece Lily from murder charges. Evans sets political machinery in motion to have Rossi disbarred as a lawyer.

Hope Daniels: She and Tom Rossi are in love and want to marry. But Hope is part Negro, which Evans uses to incite bigoted Philadelphia voters against Rossi’s quest to be elected D.A. Evans has Hope fired from her city job as a nurse for lying about her ethnic heritage on her job application. This action creates a dangerous crisis in her relationship with Tom.

Mike Fine, Chief of County DetectivesMike is a lean and mean fifty-five year old Jewish detective who had to grow up tolerating anti-Semitism. He is willing to protect the life of his best friend Tom Rossi at all times.

Lynn Sullivan: She is Tom Rossi’s stenographer who is hopelessly in love with her boss although he does not realize the depth of her affections for him. But she never gives up trying to win the man she adores.

District Attorney Pat Connors: Pat is about to retire and lends advice to his heir apparent Tom Rossi.

Bertha Brooks: Bertha is another colorful character who is Lillian’s neighbor and an eyewitness to critical facts involving murder.

Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?

Eva, one of the wives was a gambler. In February, 1937, She bet $1500.00  with a mafia bookie (the cost of most row houses) on Seabiscuit to win the Santa Anita Handicap. Seabiscuit lost by a nose.  Eva knew she couldn’t pay the bookie and knew that he would punish her by giving her a severe physical beating.  The anxiety caused her to vomit into her kitchen sink.

What about page 65?

Joanna attempted to shoot her drunken husband as he lay snoring in bed.  She placed the barrel of a .32 to his head and covered her eyes with her left hand. When she pulled the trigger the gun misfired.  However, the gun went off on the second attempt.  Joanna felt a burning, excruciating pain. She looked down and saw blood gushing from her fleshy thigh. “Oh my God,” she screamed. “I shot myself.”

Now that The Wicked Wives is published, what’s next for you?

The sequel to “The Wicked Wives… “Benito’s gold”



Author Interview: William ‘Bertie’ Bertram MacFarland & Back Channel: The Kennedy Years

William Bertram MacFarland – Bertie Mac -never sought – or even imagined – a role as a Special Assistant to President John F. Kennedy. Even less did he imagine continuing in the role of Special Assistant to the President in eight subsequent administrations. His degrees from Duke University were in Mathematics and Physics (Quantum Mechanics) but fate and the U.S. government extinguished any hope of a career in those fields.

Eager for adventure and travel, immediately after graduation from university he entered the intelligence arm of the government, did extensive military training, became a U.S. Army Ranger, trained in Special Operations, hand to hand combat techniques, did rigorous advanced parachute training, and went through intensive training in Russian language and culture at the language school in Monterrey, California. Subsequently assigned as a “diplomatic courier” to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, he was callously betrayed by his own government – the government of the United States of America – and turned over to the Soviet Union where he was brutally tortured in Lubyanka Prison at KGB Headquarters in Moscow. He was rescued near the point of death in a clandestine operation carried out by two high ranking Soviet Generals and was entrusted by them with information which became vital to the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis. His unique value to both sides was his profound distrust of both governments.

He slowly came to be a friend and confidant of President Kennedy in his (unsought) role as Special Assistant to the President and he tried in vain (and disgust) to resign his position when President Kennedy was assassinated but President Johnson would not accept it. The knowledge and “back channel” contacts that he had accumulated – and continued to accumulate as his career progressed – made him uniquely valuable to a long succession of U.S. Presidents. His 50 year access to the highest levels of nine Administrations and the highly classified materials that they generated make him uniquely qualified to relate these riveting and spellbinding memoirs. His reputation as being totally incorruptible is not necessarily a good thing in the halls of power and the only thing that has saved him from assassination by officials in his own government is a vast collection of documents accumulated over the entirety of his career which resides in a safe deposit box in a western European country – the key to which is held by a well known law firm in that country. Should he die under suspicious circumstances, those documents will be released to the public – at a horrific cost to hundreds of individuals and indeed, to the nation as a whole.

He describes himself as “a patriot, a soldier, a spy, and an assassin.” The description does not do him full justice. He was involved in intergovernmental intrigues at the highest levels and as a superbly trained and conditioned special operative he was an amalgam of James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Ryan. He is surely one of the American “cousins” described by John Le Carré. Bertie never sought glory or recognition for his contributions. He did what he did purely from love of country. He is a true American hero – who will forever remain anonymous and in the shadows.

His story can be found in his latest book, Back Channel: The Kennedy Years.

You can visit his impressive website at

Thank you for this interview, Bertie.  Can you tell us briefly what your latest book, BACK CHANNEL, is all about?

I began working for, and became Special Assistant to, President Kennedy in 1962, shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis.  I served as the back channel communications link between the United States Government and the Soviet Union during that crisis.  My office was in the West Wing of the White House.  It’s a fascinating look at what happens ‘behind the curtains’ in the White House.  I also became personal friends with President and Mrs. Kennedy and was their guest on several occasions in Hyannis Port.  The reader gets to see that side of the Kennedys as well.

Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

I wanted people to be interested in seeing how government works – it’s truly fascinating when you get to see what goes on ‘behind the curtains.’  I also want people to realize that responsible citizenship is not a spectator sport.  You have to get involved personally if you want to make a difference.  I wanted to make events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis come alive as the nail-biting, nerve-wracking events that they really were.  Finally, I think people may find my covert activities for the government, involving both spying and assassination, at least interesting – and perhaps enlightening.  How much do you really know about what your government is doing?  Are you sure?

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

It is my first published book.  I had a very good introduction to a well-known publishing firm from a lawyer friend who represents several authors whose works have been published by the firm.  The publisher felt BACK CHANNEL was too controversial and wouldn’t touch it.  After a couple of similar reactions from other publishers, I decided to self-publish.

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

I can’t tell you where I live and I cannot do in-person interviews.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

The BACK CHANNEL series is probably going to consist of five, perhaps six, books.  I was Special Assistant to nine Presidents so there is a great deal more left to write and as I’m not getting any younger, I am writing pretty much non-stop.  Fortunately, I have a few friends who are privy to my background and when I need a break, I spend time with them.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I am retired.

Do you have any words of inspiration from other writers who would like to be wearing your shoes?

We all learn from each other’s lives.  Tell the world about yours.

What’s next for you?

I’m working hard on Book 2 which will at least cover most of the Johnson presidential years, and perhaps all.  It will cover my establishment of an international spy network and lots of other things.  Incidentally, do you know how the Vietnam War really started?  Even if you don’t and moreover, simply don’t care (shame on you), there were a lot of other things which were happening contemporaneously that surely – you will find very interesting.

Thank you for this interview, Bertie.  Do you have any final words?

Ignorance of things past is a dangerous condition.  As Lewis Lapham has pointed out, “Cicero made the point fifty years before the birth of Christ: “Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.””

Blog Tour: Interview with Jill Muehrcke + Win $25 Amazon GC!

Waking Up Happy

~ ~ ~GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~

Pump Up Your Book & Jill Muehrcke are teaming up to bring you a great giveaway.  One lucky person who comments the most on her blog stops will receive a $25 gift certificate.  Comment and win!

Jill MuehrckeJuliana (Jill) Muehrcke is the award-winning author of many books and articles. Founder and editor of the international magazine Nonprofit World (, she has studied at the University of Colorado and the University of Michigan and has a BA degree, specializing in English and psychology, from the University of Washington. Jill is listed in Who’s Who ( In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and eating ethnic food. For many years, in several cities, including Seattle, Honolulu, and Madison, she has written restaurant reviews.

Her latest book is Waking Up Happy: A Handbook of Change with Memoirs of Recovery and Hope.

You can visit her website at

Listen to Jill on the Joy Cardin Show at


Waking Up HappyWAKING UP HAPPY: A HANDBOOK OF CHANGE WITH MEMOIRS OF RECOVERY AND HOPE: Powerful, absorbing, and beautifully written, this first-of-its-kind book of transformation and healing includes memoirs of people who have recovered from addictions, harmful habits, and intolerable situations, along with exercises readers can do to make the same transformations in their own lives.

Half of the proceeds of this book will be donated to the Recovery Foundation helping people build new lives – so every time someone buys a book, they will be helping someone TRANSFORM THEIR LIFE!

Thanks for stopping off at Between the Covers, Jill. Can you give us the background story for why you wrote your book Waking Up Happy: A Handbook of Change with Memoirs of Recovery and Hope?

Jill: When I quit drinking in 1984, I discovered that quitting was only the first step in the journey to building a new life. I began collecting tools for change and realized that those same tools would be helpful to anyone who wanted to change their life. Waking Up Happy is the book I wish had been available then – a book of memoirs of people who have recovered from addictions and intolerable situations, along with exercises and to-do lists to help readers transform their own lives.

There are 30 storytellers in WAKING UP HAPPY, including me, my daughter, and my granddaughter. Each time one of these storytellers learns a lesson in their life, I have added exercises you can do to create those same changes in your own life. Each chapter ends with “Things to Do Today” and the book ends with “365 Steps on Your Journey” – an exercise for every day of the year – so that you will have something concrete to do each day to continue your journey of self-discovery and transformation.

How do you feel this book will change people’s lives?

Jill: People who have read the book tell me that the memoirs inspire them to change and the exercises give them the tools to do so. That’s what’s needed for any change – first, the motivation and belief that change is possible and, then, a set of concrete guidelines to pave the way. Then it’s just a matter of doing one small thing every day. In time, those tiny changes will add up to profound change.

Is this your only book?

Jill: I have written dozens of books in the educational field, including the best-selling book Map Use. But I’ve never before written or published anything as personal as Waking Up Happy.

What do you do for a living?

Jill: My “day job” is as the editor of Nonprofit World (, which provides management and leadership advice to those who work in the nonprofit sector. I founded Nonprofit World in 1983 and have been its editor ever since. In addition, I have my own company, JP Publications, and do freelance writing and editing.

Where do you go to find sanctuary?

Jill: My bed!

Are you married? Single? Children?

Jill: I have been married to a wonderful man for 43 years. I have a daughter, Andrea, and two grandkids, Shyloh and Zeke.

What genre have you not written yet but would love to?

Jill: I have actually written six mysteries that are unpublished. Someday I would like to try my hand at that genre again.

If you had one piece of writing advice to give to aspiring authors, what would that be?

Take time to read and write for yourself. It’s the most important thing you can do as a writer, editor, and person. Read the great writers. Pay attention to how they use words and how they get their points across. Keep a journal. Allow your writing to be a living, daily part of who you are. Hold on to the knowledge that you’re in the right place, doing the right thing. Doing what you love.

Thank you again for this interview, Jill. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Jill: Yes, I’m donating half the proceeds from Waking Up Happy to the Recovery Foundation (, which provides counseling for people who can’t afford to pay for it on their own. So when you buy a copy of Waking Up Happy, you are helping someone transform their life!