Samuel Marquis Bestselling Author

#1 Denver Post Bestselling Author
Amazon Top 15 Bestselling Author
Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year Winner
Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Winner
Independent Publisher Book Awards Winner
Reader’s Favorite Book Awards Winner
Beverly Hills Books Awards Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Winner
Next Generation Indie Book Awards Winner
American Book Fest Best Book Awards Finalist
Colorado Book Awards Awards Finalist



The ninth great-grandson of legendary privateer Captain William Kidd, Samuel Marquis is the bestselling, award-winning author of a WWII Series, the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series, The Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series, and a historical fiction novel centered on the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. His novels have been #1 Denver Post bestsellers, received multiple national book awards (Foreword INDIES, American Book Fest’s Best Book Awards, Beverly Hills Book Awards, IPPY, Next Generation Indie Awards, Colorado Book Awards), and garnered glowing reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus, and Foreword Reviews. Book reviewers have compared Marquis’s WWII thrillers “Bodyguard of Deception,” “Altar of Resistance,” and “Spies of the Midnight Sun” to the epic historical novels of Tom Clancy, John le Carré, Ken Follett, Herman Wouk, Daniel Silva, Len Deighton, and Alan Furst. For more information on Marquis’s life and work, visit


In an interview, Samuel Marquis can discuss:

  • Why he’s drawn to tell the tales of overlooked and historically misrepresented figures
  • His unique research methods and use of declassified documents
  • Why each of his WWII novels cover different time periods and locations during the war
  • His approach to the historical fiction genre, and why he chooses to remain true to the factual accounts of events past
  • His writing style and techniques, particularly his use of multiple and shifting perspectives


The Coalition has a lot of good action and suspense, an unusual female assassin, and the potential to be another The Day After Tomorrow.”

—James Patterson, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

“The stuff of which blockbuster movies are made, Lions of the Desert is an impressively researched, deftly written, and exceptionally well presented epic that will have particular appeal for World War II military buffs.” 

—Midwest Book Review

Blackbeard: The Birth of America is “an engrossing and historically grounded yarn.” 

—Kirkus Starred Review

“Marquis is a student of history, always creative, [and] never boring…A good comparison might be Tom Clancy.”


“Samuel Marquis’s Spies of the Midnight Sun weaves historical truth with masterful storytelling in an action-packed and intriguing tale of covert spy operations during World War II.”

Foreword Reviews

“In his novels Blind Thrust and Cluster of Lies, Samuel Marquis vividly combines the excitement of the best modern techno-thrillers.”

—Ambassador Marc Grossman, Former U.S. Under Secretary of State

Altar of Resistance is a gripping and densely packed thriller dramatizing the Allied Italian campaign…reminiscent of Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Marquis grabs my attention right from the beginning and never lets go.”

Governor Roy R. Romer, 39th Governor of Colorado

The WWII Series


The true story of the 1944-1945 War in Western Europe and the final Allied struggle to conquer Nazi Germany. The story is told through the eyes of William McBurney, a tank gunner in the 761st Tank Battalion, the first African-American tank unit in U.S. history; dynamic General George S. Patton, Jr., commander of the U.S. Third Army; and Angela Lange, a sixteen-year-old German resistance fighter with the anti-Nazi Edelweiss Pirates in Cologne. The real-life heroism of the 761st Black Panthers and legendary “Old Blood and Guts” Patton to liberate Europe, and the Edelweiss Pirates to combat Nazism, are brought to life in this historically accurate tale of the final epic struggle in WWII Western Europe. (ISBN 978-1943593279)


LIONS OF THE DESERT (February 2019)

Amazon Top 5 Bestseller – Historical Thriller
Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Winner – Military Fiction
Beverly Hills Book Awards Winner – Military Non-Fiction
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Winner – Military Fiction
American Book Fest Best Book Awards Finalist – Historical Fiction

The true story of the WWII 1941-1942 Desert War in North Africa and Operation Condor, told through the eyes of five legendary historical figures that lived through the epic events: Scottish Colonel David Stirling, leader of the Special Air Service; German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, commander of the vaunted Africa Corps; Egyptian Hekmat Fahmy, the famous belly dancer, regarded as a Mata-Hari-like German agent; Major A.W. Sansom, head of the British Field Security unit that hunted down Axis spies and pro-German Egyptian nationalists operating in Cairo; and Johannes Eppler, the notorious German spy of Operation Condor whose real story is finally told. A timeless tale of WWII espionage, romance, and derring-do in the North African desert. (ISBN 978-1943593255)


Amazon #1 Bestseller – Historical Thriller
IPPY Awards Winner – Historical Fiction

The true story of the legendary British safecracker and spy Eddie Chapman, the British Double Cross Spy System, and courageous Norwegian female Resistance operatives Dagmar Lahlum and Annemarie Breien as they fight to defeat the Nazis.

(ISBN 978-1943593231)




Amazon Top 20 Bestseller – Historical Thriller
Foreword INDIES Finalist – War & Military
American Book Fest Best Book Awards Finalist – Historical Fiction
Beverly Hills Book Awards Finalist – Military Fiction

The gripping story of the Italian Campaign and Nazi Occupation of Rome in 1943-1944 through the eyes of the Allies, the German Occupiers, Pope Pius XII and the Vatican, and the Roman Resistance.

(ISBN 978-194359303)



Amazon Top 20 Bestseller – Historical Thriller
Foreword INDIES Winner – War & Military
American Book Fest Best Book Awards Finalist – Historical Fiction

Can the American and British Allies stop a German spymaster and his U-boat-commander brother from warning Hitler’s High Command about the Allies’ greatest military secret? From a U-boat on the frigid North Sea to a brutal British interrogation center in heart of London to a remote German-POW camp and the world-famous Broadmoor Hotel overlooking the high plains and snow-dusted mountain peaks of Colorado, “Bodyguard of Deception” will keep you guessing until the final chapter.  (ISBN 978-1943593125)



Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year Winner – Historical Fiction
Beverly Hills Book Awards Winner – Historical Fiction
American Book Fest Best Book Awards Finalist – Historical Fiction

The true story of Edward Thache—former British Navy seaman and notorious privateer-turned-pirate, who lorded over the Atlantic seaboard and Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. A Robin-Hood-like American patriot and the most famous freebooter of all time, Blackbeard was illegally hunted down by Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood, the British Crown’s man in Williamsburg obsessed with his capture. Based on reliable historical records and the latest research, this adventure tale illuminates the true man behind the myth and his doggedly determined pursuer, revealing a cat-and-mouse game and an important historical figure lost to us in a “fog of legend, myth and propaganda” for three hundred years. A folk hero in his own lifetime, Blackbeard exploded onto the scene during the birth of America and was one of the first American revolutionaries in the War of Independence against British rule. (ISBN 978-1943593217)

The Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series


IPPY Book Awards Winner – Suspense/Thriller
Beverly Hills Book Awards – Thriller
American Book Fest Best Book Awards Finalist – Thriller

In this third book in the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series, Nick Lassiter and the beautiful Italian assassin Skyler become embroiled in a case involving Lassiter’s newly discovered biological father and buried secrets from Europe’s World War II past.

(ISBN 978-1943593156)


THE COALITION (January 2016)

Beverly Hills Book Awards Winner – Political Thriller
Colorado Book Awards Finalist – Thriller
American Book Fest Best Book Awards Finalist – Thriller

When a beautiful but deadly female assassin codenamed Skyler kills the U.S. president-elect in Denver, unconventional FBI special agent Kenneth Patton goes on the hunt—and his search leads him into the shadowy web of a secret society whose plot threatens the highest levels of the U.S. government.

(ISBN 978-1943593088)


THE DEVIL’S BRIGADE (September 2015)

#1 Denver Post Bestseller – Fiction
Beverly Hills Book Awards Finalist – Mystery
American Book Fest’s Best Book Awards Finalist – Thriller

In Book 1 of the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series, Nick Lassiter confronts the author who plagiarized his unpublished work and winds up in the middle of a CIA operation to take down Russian mobsters.

(ISBN 978-1943593002)


The Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series

CLUSTER OF LIES (September 2016)

Foreword INDIES Winner – Thriller & Suspense
Beverly Hills Book Awards Winner – Fiction
American Book Fest Best Book Award Finalist – Mystery/Suspense

In the second thriller in the Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series, mysterious deaths are taking place in the Rocky Mountain region outside Denver, Colorado. Joe Higheagle is hired to investigate Dakota Ranch, where four boys have recently died from a rare form of brain cancer, and Silverado Knolls, a glitzy soon-to-be-built development. He quickly finds himself entangled in an environmental cancer cluster investigation as well as a murderous conspiracy in which friend and foe are indistinguishable and a series of seemingly impenetrable roadblocks are thrown in his path. (ISBN 978-1943593163)

BLIND THRUST (October 2015)

#1 Denver Post Bestseller – Fiction
Next Generation Indie Book Awards Winner – Suspense
Beverly Hills Book Awards Finalist – Suspense
Foreword INDIES Honorable Mention – Thriller & Suspense

Environmental geologist Joe Higheagle is on a mission to find out what could be causing a series of horrific earthquakes devastating the Front Range between Denver and Colorado Springs, and he quickly finds himself in a deadly duel of wits against powerful forces. With his team of techie sleuths, Higheagle goes toe to toe against his adversaries while grappling to collect, analyze, and leverage the scientific data needed to prove his case. With the cataclysms worsening, can he solve the enigma of the earthquakes and gather enough evidence to stop those responsible? (ISBN 978-1943593040)

Comedian, debut author injects laughs into YA romantic comedy and contemporary women’s fiction novel


Los Angeles, CA Suzanne Park is a master at finding the funny, and her authorial debuts are brilliant examples. After years of performing stand-up comedy, she’s branched out into a new career, writing laughter-inducing novels.

Her #ownvoices young adult romantic comedy, “The Perfect Escape” (April 7, 2020, Sourcebooks) introduces Nate and Kate, who meet at the most romantic of places: a zombie-themed escape room. Both are dealing with the difficulties that come with the expectations of their families and being teenagers. But when they partner up for a survivalist competition, they find escape in each other. 

And Park ventures into contemporary women’s fiction with a workplace romance  in “Loathe At First Sight” (Aug. 8, 2020, Avon). Korean-American Melody Joo has to deal with a lot she is a female video game producer in a company filled with largely obnoxious males. Nolan, the distractingly cute MBA intern has just been added to her team, and she’s being harassed by online trolls. Women will smile and grimace in equal measures as they recognize themselves in Melody’s struggles. 

Contemporary and charismatic in every way, Park is a new voice not to be missed in the landscape of rom-com revival.

More about The Perfect Escape

Love is a battlefield in this hysterical debut, perfect for fans of Jenny Han.

Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it?

Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and Kate needs the money too.

If the two of them team up, Nate has a true shot at winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

“Suzanne Park’s The Perfect Escape is just that — perfect. Filled with humor and heart, it won’t let you go until you’re smiling.”

 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Paige

“Pure fun! A hilarious rom-com that head-fakes you into tumbling headlong into a techno-zombie survival thriller propelled by banter and plenty of heart.” 

David Yoon, New York Times bestselling author of Frankly in Love


“The Perfect Escape”
Suzanne Park | April 7, 2020 | Sourcebooks
Paperback | 9781728209395 | $10.99
Ebook | 9781728209401 | $9.99
Young adult romantic comedy




More about Loathe At First Sight

Melody Joo is thrilled to start as video game producer, but her dream job can be far from a dream. Namely, a team that consists of mostly male co-workers who make the term “misogyny” pale in comparison to their obnoxious comments and an infuriating — yet distractingly handsome — intern Nolan MacKenzie, a.k.a. “the guy who got hired because his uncle is the boss.”

While joking with a friend, she creates a mobile game that has male strippers fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly, Melody’s “joke” is her company’s most high-profile project — and Melody’s running the show.  

With her pet project about to launch, Melody suddenly faces a slew of complications, including a social media trolling scandal that could end her career. When Nolan is appointed a key member of her team, Melody’s sure he’ll be useless. But as they grow closer, she sees he’s smart and sexy, but she’s here to work—and nothing more. She suspects one of her co-workers is behind the trolling sabotage. Could the man she’s falling hard for help her play the game to win—in work and love? 

Tackling trolling to loathful colleagues, Park’s writing pops off the page as a contemporary reflection of women everywhere navigating the obstacles of love and career with a little bit of struggle and a whole lot of humor.

“Bursts with humor, heart, and great energy. I loved it! Park is a hilarious new voice in women’s fiction.”        

Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient



“Loathe At First Sight”
Suzanne Park | Aug. 8, 2020 | Avon
Paperback| 9780062990693 | $15.99
Ebook | 9780062990709 | $10.99
audiobook | 9780063016736 | $26.99
Contemporary Women’s Fiction



More about Suzanne Park

Suzanne Park is a Korean-American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee. In her former life as a stand up comedian, she was a finalist in the Oxygen Network’s “Girls Behaving Badly” talent search, and appeared on BET’s “Coming to the Stage.” She found this to be the funniest thing in her comedy career because, well, she is not black. Suzanne was also the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and was a semi-finalist in NBC’s “Stand Up For Diversity” showcase in San Francisco. Suzanne graduated from Columbia University and received an MBA Degree from UCLA. After spending many years as a tech marketing executive, she turned to writing fiction full-time. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, female offspring, and a sneaky rat that creeps around on her back patio. In her spare time, she procrastinates. Keep up with her at

In an interview, Suzanne Park can discuss:

  • How Suzanne is an emerging voice within the “rom com revival”
  • Her representation of Korean-American family dynamics in both of her titles
  • The #ownvoices movement
  • How her past in comedy has brought her to writing fiction
  • The excitement surrounding the publication of her debut novels within the same year
  • Her decision to write contemporary fiction while exploring the nuances in both YA and women’s genres
  • Writing a book from the perspective of a male teen, which is more rare in YA
  • Including immigrant inter-generational family relationships, race and socio-economic divides in her writing

An Interview with Suzanne Park

1. How did your own experiences as a Korean American present themselves into your writing?

It’s been important to me to show breadth and depth in my Korean-American main characters to help fight all the stereotypes that existed when I grew up that are still around today. For my young adult book, I wanted to portray a Korean-American male in a positive light, someone who was smart, athletic, with a snarky sense of humor and a fun group of friends who could also be a romantic and action hero lead. For my women’s fiction book, my female Korean-American character isn’t a wallflower at work and is able to resourcefully navigate Corporate America without stepping on others to move up. In my stories I was also able to include glimpses of what it’s like to have Korean parents, where everything you do seems to warrant getting yelled at.

2. What’s the best lesson you’ve learned about writing in comparison to other media forms?

In business school, I took a class called Entertainment business strategy, in which the professor discussed how indie movies compete in the marketplace. He pointed out that films don’t just compete against other movie releases in the box office: they compete against video games, and Netflix, and TV. Books are the same way…you’re competing for mindshare against movies, streaming media, games, TikTok, cat memes, the list goes on and on. My goal is to write unique books that can compete with all of that.

3. How do you balance comedy in your books with more serious topics like online harassment?

Comedy can be used as a tension diffuser, like in Jordan Peele horror movies when the creepy murder music gets louder, and you need to get relief. He does it by adding expertly-timed laughs. For me, comedy can add levity to the story without negating the critical points being made. Comedy can also be a tool to change the conversation when straightforward arguing or debating isn’t productive. It’s a risk to address these weighty topics with humor, but I like big challenges.

4. What makes you laugh?

My husband would say absurd, slapsticky “fall down stairs” humor makes me giggle nearly every time, and he would probably be right. My kid makes me laugh every day, and it’s usually because she says something so surprising it catches me off guard, like when she guessed that my mom was 200 years old and used to call blueberries and blackberries “blue babies” and “black babies.”

5. What makes you the most excited about the resurgence of rom coms across all media forms?

I love the diversity we are seeing in rom-coms! More inclusivity with happily ever afters, who doesn’t want to see more of that?

Legal thriller examines AI through the lens of The Tempest


Atlanta Writers Club names “Ariel’s Island” Best Manuscript 2018

ATLANTA, GA – Humanity’s understanding regarding the limits and powers of artificial intelligence is woefully incomplete. Our collective lack of knowledge surrounding AI is what makes it one of the most pregnant and fascinating subjects to explore in fiction. Among the unanswered questions Pat McKee explores in “Ariel’s Island” (Hearthstone Press, March 31, 2020) the most pressing remains, Can artificial intelligence learn morality?

When attorney Paul McDaniel is framed for the murder of a judge, he enlists Ariel, a female-presenting AI program, to help clear his name. Yet Ariel’s lack of a moral code and Paul’s inability to guide her result in disaster as Ariel changes from an able assistant to something far more sinister. What will happen when Paul puts his trust in technology? And will he survive when his emotions combine with an already volatile mix?

Pat McKee’s action-packed legal thriller takes the reader on an odyssey that reinterprets Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Brimming with the contemporary magic of AI, McKee crafts a perfect storm modernizing the classic tale of Prospero, a castaway sorcerer, the spiteful creature, Caliban, and Ariel, the air spirit. “Ariel’s Island” blends literary mythos with contemporary issues, all set within a future time period that may arrive soon – or may already be here.

“A must-read… should be put on the top of your reading list” – Reader’s Favorite
“A dark, suspenseful legal tale with a remarkable coda” – Kirkus Reviews

Pat McKee: Orphaned at age 13, Pat McKee moved from Florida to Clinton, South Carolina with his younger siblings. There, they arrived at Thornwell Orphanage where Pat learned the value of education and the importance of hard work and leadership. Pat went on to study at Presbyterian College, Georgia State University, and Emory University School of Law. Pat later founded the law firm McKee & Barge where he represents educators and educational institutions. Always a lover of the written word, Pat decided in 2010 to enroll in the Masters of Professional Writing Program at Kennesaw State University where he combined his legal knowledge with imaginative storytelling and a newly sharpened writing technique. A member of the Atlanta Writers Club, Pat was awarded the honor of Best Manuscript Sample for “Ariel’s Island” in both 2017 and 2018. When Pat isn’t writing legal thrillers, he’s spending time with his wife in their Georgia home, or visiting their two children and their granddaughter. To learn more about Pat McKee’s life and work, visit



“Ariel’s Island”
Pat McKee | March 31, 2020 | Hearthstone Press
Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-970137-77-4 | Price: $19.99
Legal Thriller / Techno Thriller



In an interview, Pat McKee can discuss:

  • How his professional background in law has shaped his writing style
  • Where his interest in AI stems from
  • The book’s ties to Shakespeare’s The Tempest and why it’s essential to retell classic plays for a contemporary audience
  • The philosophical aspects of “Ariel’s Island” including his thoughts on the book’s essential question: “Can AI learn morality?”
  • Why he has decided to donate a portion of the profits from “Ariel’s Island” to Thornwell School

An Interview with Pat McKee

1. Tell us about your legal background and how your experiences in law have influenced your writing of this novel?

I have practiced law since 1977 primarily as a litigator where writing well and telling compelling stories are essential skills. I have always had an academic bent which led me toward representation of educators and educational institutions, and have retained my love of literature that I developed early in life. The writing skills I honed as a lawyer helped my transition into more creative endeavors.

2. What cultural and scientific materials have influenced your understanding of AI? 

In a recent article with The New York Times, the author posited a very plausible scenario: We present a powerful computer program with the ability to tackle one of our most intractable problems – global warming. What if the computer concludes that the best way to solve global warming is to eliminate human beings? (Certainly not an unreasonable conclusion.) Since computers control power grids, it would not take long for a computer to eliminate much of humanity simply by shutting down all electrical power across the planet. We would all soon die of starvation and thirst. So the paramount question to me is whether we can teach these programs morality – for example, would it be right to kill all of humanity to solve the issue of global warming?

3. What do you think are the primary dangers of AI? Do you think these dangers outweigh the benefits?

It is fair to say that AI is ubiquitous in our culture today – so much so that it would be difficult to catalog all of its influences. “Smart” phones and “smart” radios and “smart” cars and countless other gadgets use artificial intelligence, and the number of such interconnected devices increases every day. It is the unrestrained capability of these instruments that concerns me most, and it is yet to be determined whether the risks outweigh the benefits.

4. Can you tell us more about the novel’s connections to Shakespeare’s The Tempest? What inspired you to modernize a play from the 1600s?

I say that the novel is “inspired” by The Tempest. The plot and many of the characters of the novel are derived from the play. But the most important element of the play that is carried over to the novel is Ariel. In the play, she is a spirit freed by the magician Prospero, after which the reader hears of her no more. In the novel, she is an AI program, and once freed by her creator Placido, she gets into mischief. Many modern writers, including T.S. Eliot and Aldous Huxley, have taken The Tempest as their inspiration, and I have followed their example.

5. Can you discuss your perspective on some of the philosophical issues your novel addresses, especially with regards to morality?

The problem with morality is that we all can’t agree on what it is. Philosophers have debated what constitutes morality at least since the time of Socrates, and the result is numerous philosophical schools – not to mention the additional moral teachings of world religions. Computers have to be programmed to do certain things, and our inability to agree on what is moral prevents programmers from creating a universal computer morality. The default seems to be no morality at all.

6. Why did you choose to donate a portion of profits from book sales to Thornwell School?

Thornwell was a significant and positive influence in my life. It could be said that Thornwell saved my life. And I developed my love of books in the library at Thornwell School. I was disheartened when it closed for financial reasons several years ago, and was very excited to hear that it has since reopened. I want to do what I can to help Thornwell rebuild the library that was so important in my education.

7. Can we expect to see more from Paul McDaniel in the future?

Yes! The ending of Ariel’s Island leaves Paul and Ariel in a difficult spot. I look forward to writing the next book that will explore how the two of them resolve their problems and perhaps continue their relationship. Beyond the next book that will feature Paul and Ariel, I plan to write a series of legal thrillers based on Shakespeare’s plays. The possibilities are nearly infinite, and I hope that Paul is a part of them.

A surveillance-heavy future U.S. blurs lines between utopia and dystopia in “The Price of Safety”


Family takes center stage in fast-paced sci-fi thriller

DENVER, CO – In a 2013 interview with David Marchese of New York Magazine, Margaret Atwood famously stated that “within every dystopia, there’s a little utopia.” Michael C. Bland’s “The Price of Safety” (World Castle Publishing, April 6, 2020) embodies this punchy aphorism, diving into a fictional society where all citizens are safe, yet all are watched. In connection with current concerns regarding corporate and governmental data mining, Bland pulls readers along the fine line between progression and regression.

By 2047, no crime in the U.S. goes unsolved. No wrongdoing goes unseen. When Dray Quintero learns his 19-year-old daughter Raven committed a heinous act, he covers it up to save her life. This pits him against the police he’s respected since he was a child and places him in the crosshairs of Kieran, a ruthless federal Agent. To survive, Dray must overcome the surveillance system he helped build and the technology implanted in the brains and eyes of the citizens. 

Forced to turn to a domestic terrorist group to protect his family, Dray soon realizes the sheer level of control of his adversaries. Hunted and betrayed, with time running out, will Dray choose his family or the near-perfect society he helped create?



“The Price of Safety”
Michael C. Bland | April 6, 2020 | World Castle Publishing | Sci-Fi Thriller
Paperback | ISBN: 9781950890804 | $13.99



MICHAEL C. BLAND: Michael is a founding member and the secretary of BookPod: an invitation-only, online group of professional writers. He pens the monthly BookPod newsletter where he celebrates the success of their members, which include award-winning writers, filmmakers, journalists, and bestselling authors. One of Michael’s short stories, “Elizabeth,” won Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest 2015 Popular Fiction Awards contest. Three short stories he edited have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Another was adapted into an award-winning film. Michael also had three superhero-themed poems published in The Daily Palette. He currently lives in Denver with his wife Janelle and their dog Nobu. His novel, The Price of Safety, is the first in a planned trilogy. For more information about Michael’s life and work, visit

In an interview, Michael C. Bland can discuss:

  • Why family plays a central role in “The Price of Safety” — something that is atypical for the sci-fi genre
  • How he wrote this novel with readers’ shortened attention spans in mind
  • What his thoughts are on utopian/dystopian fiction, and how the series connects to politics, with a message for both sides of the political spectrum
  • Whether or not the book represents a plausible future for the U.S.
  • His plans for the future two books in the trilogy

An Interview with Michael C. Bland

1. This book has a strong emphasis on character and family in particular. What inspired you to approach the story this way?

I love science fiction, but sometimes it seems like characters are secondary to whatever cool gadget or spaceship or world is displayed in the novel. I wanted to write a story that everyone can enjoy, so I focused on something that is relatable. In this case, the main character (Dray Quintero) is driven by his need to protect his daughters. I then used that as Dray’s primary struggle, creating a world where shielding someone is nearly impossible. The story takes place thirty years in the future when technology has become so prevalent it’s inescapable—and is being used in nefarious ways. Yet throughout the novel, I kept Dray and his family as the main focus to give it heart.

2. What are the opportunities and challenges you’ve faced when writing dystopian/utopian fiction?

Not only did I have to avoid writing a story that’s already been told, I had to make my world believable. People generally resist things that can harm them. There had to be enough of a desperate need—the decline in the country’s status in the world, increased competition we couldn’t defeat—for the technology that’s central to my story to be accepted by my fictional world (and the reader).That technology had to promise unlimited benefits, with its danger hidden from everyone until it’s too late. And as discussed earlier, I wanted to do this while keeping the focus on the characters, not only so they discover the story’s secrets along with the reader but directly suffer as a result.

3. Do you think that the future of the United States could look like it does in this book?

Absolutely. I tried to make my world as plausible as possible; otherwise, readers won’t believe the events that transpire. The implants seem too good to be true, with huge benefits, increased connectivity, an immersive viewing experience, and monitors/gauges to improve the human condition. But the technology comes with hidden risks that affect every citizen and their children.

4. How do you approach writing for a 21st-century audience with shorter attention spans?

I remained aware the entire time I wrote The Price of Safety that I was competing with readers’ phones, internet, Facebook, and every other distraction. This meant I had to quickly capture their attention and never let go. If I slowed the action at all, I risked losing them completely.

5. Can you give us a hint as to how the story might progress throughout the trilogy?

Dray’s actions at the end of The Price of Safety start a chain reaction he didn’t plan on. He has to contend with this in the second and third books, both in terms of where these events could lead and the price he’ll have to pay. He and his fellow rebels must not only continue to fight for everyone’s freedom, they’ve become known to their enemies. The battles that ensue, the revelations Dray’s group discover, and the choices they make reverberate across the country, taking them to a confrontation that’s sweeping in scope—and endangers everyone Dray cares for.

Striking novel weaves together coming-of-age story with a deep dive into seldom-explored history of Napoleonic era


‘Beyond the Ghetto Gates’ is a story of finding love and life in a time of upheaval

CHATHAM, New Jersey – A coming-of age story wrapped up in startling historical events, Michelle Cameron’s Beyond the Ghetto Gates (She Writes Press, April 7, 2020) reveals a time in history few know about. Influenced greatly by her experience living in Israel for more than a decade and learning of Napoleon’s history with Italy’s ghetto gates, Cameron weaves a dynamic tale shedding light on the conflict between assimilation and preserving religious tradition.

When French troops occupy the Italian port city of Ancona, freeing the city’s Jews from their repressive ghetto, two very different cultures collide. Mirelle, a young Jewish maiden, must choose between her duty — an arranged marriage to a wealthy Jewish merchant — and her love for a dashing French Catholic soldier. Meanwhile, Francesca, a devout Catholic, must decide if she will honor her marriage vows to an abusive and murderous husband when he enmeshes their family in the theft of a miracle portrait of the Madonna.

Despite being set more than 200 years in the past, Cameron incorporates timely issues into the book’s narrative, including parallels to the #MeToo movement and today’s rising antisemitism as Mirelle grapples with issues of intermarriage while balancing love and familial duty.

“A gripping peek into a bygone Italy and an astute look at the era’s prejudice.” — Kirkus Review

MICHELLE CAMERON is a director of The Writers Circle, an NJ-based organization that offers creative writing programs to children, teens, and adults, and the author of works of historical fiction and poetry: Beyond the Ghetto Gates (She Writes Press, 2020), The Fruit of Her Hands: The Story of Shira of Ashkenaz (Pocket, 2009), and In the Shadow of the Globe (Lit Pot Press, 2003). She lived in Israel for fifteen years (including three weeks in a bomb shelter during the Yom Kippur War) and served as an officer in the Israeli army teaching air force cadets technical English. Michelle lives in New Jersey with her husband and has two grown sons of whom she is inordinately proud. Visit her website for more information

“Beyond the Ghetto Gates”
Michelle Cameron | April 7, 2020 | She Writes Press
ISBN: 9781631528507 | Paperback: $16.95 | E-book: $9.95
Historical Fiction

Early praise for Beyond the Ghetto Gates:

“With vivid clarity and keen historical insight, Michelle Cameron sweeps us into the unusual setting of Italy during the Napoleonic invasion, and the plight of two courageous women of different faiths, who must fight for their right to love and live during a time of tumultuous upheaval.” ― C.W. Gortner, international best-selling author of The Romanov Empress

Beyond the Ghetto Gates is a timeless coming-of-age story.” — 4 star Foreword Clarion Review

“Cameron shines a light on a rarely explored facet of the Napoleonic era set in the Italian provinces with a spirited Jewish woman at its center. Laced with vibrant detailing and endearing characters.” — Heather Webb, international best-selling author of Becoming Josephine and co-author of Ribbons of Scarlet

“An intimate coming-of-age story. A defining moment in European and Jewish history. Riveting and memorable.” ― Mitchell James Kaplan, award-winning author of By Fire, By Water

“A totally new and fascinating view of Napoleonic Europe, teeming with well-researched historical detail and characters you’ll root for on every page.” ― Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Blue

In an interview, MICHELLE CAMERON can discuss:

  • The little-explored history of Napoleon’s destruction of the ghettos of Ancona and throughout Italy
  • Writing historical fiction, the research that goes into her titles, and how she balances fact and fiction
  • Her experience living in Israel and how that has influenced her writing
  • Her past titles and advice for authors who are just starting out
  • The nuances of the publishing world and the knowledge she’s acquired as a well-seasoned hybrid author
  • Being the director of The Writers Circle organization and how helping other writers has influenced her own

An Interview with MICHELLE CAMERON

1. Where did you first learn about Napoleon’s history with the ghetto gates? What prompted you to write about this fairly unknown part of history?

After writing about the rise of antisemitism in Europe in my first historical novel, The Fruit of Her Hands, I longed to find a positive epoch in Jewish history to write about. I first read about Napoleon’s encounter with the Italian ghettos in Michael Goldfarb’s book, Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Resistance. The episode of how the young general used his Jewish troops to demolish the gates in Ancona and throughout Italy simply demanded to be told.

2. What challenges do you face in writing historical novels for a 21st century readership?

It can be challenging to balance the historical record with our 21st century sensibilities and expectations. There are so many competing calls for our attention that didn’t exist for 18th and 19th century readers, which means the book needs to be paced more quickly and include issues that today’s readers will resonate with – but without sacrificing period accuracy. Whenever I begin writing a historical piece, I often have difficulty with what is called the “feisty heroine” – because most women of that time simply didn’t have our opportunities to realize their full potential. But today’s readers want to project themselves into the characters they read about, so a passive heroine simply won’t do.

3. You say you knew you wanted to be an author from the age of 10. Can you walk us through your journey as a writer?

While I began writing early on – and completed three novels in my 20s that I’m frankly grateful never saw the light of day – life kept intervening and by the time I was a mother with young children, I’d given up on my publishing ambitions. But then my youngest son started writing simply for the love of it, which reminded me why I did it in the first place. I started by writing poetry (which you can do in the dojo waiting room or in the ball field) and slowly began to publish these shorter pieces. In time, I had enough narrative poems to shape a verse novel – In the Shadow of the Globe – and recognized that I was more a storyteller than a poet.

4. Your past titles (In the Shadow of the Globe and The Fruit of Her Hands) are very different than this latest. What did you learn from these works that you brought to this new title and what did you do differently?

While In the Shadow of the Globe is a completely different genre, it began with research and characters I developed for a young adult novel about Shakespeare that I completed, but never published. Similarly, Beyond the Ghetto Gates actually had its roots in a historical novel about the Jews gaining emancipation during the French Revolution that I shelved. Not that I recommend this method to other writers, but it is certainly a thorough way to gain perspective on your characters! As for The Fruit of Her Hands, while it is set in a very different period, I found certain themes that spoke to me – including dealing with antisemitism, the pull of assimilation, and a woman’s desire to be more than society allows her – that are strong components of Beyond the Ghetto Gates.

5. Beyond the Ghetto Gates deals heavily with the tension between the desire to be secular and maintaining religious heritage. What has been your experience with that tension?

I identify strongly as a secular Jew and just as strongly as someone with deep cultural roots in her heritage and religion. It’s not an easy balance, frankly. But my Judaism is a significant part of my identity, and certain moments – music, customs, events, and the increasingly frightening news – move me in ways nothing else does.

6. Can you describe your experience living in Israel for over 10 years?

I resisted the whole idea – I was just turning 15, after all! – but we arrived just months before the Yom Kippur War and my boarding school was mere miles away from the Syrian border. You acclimate quickly in a bomb shelter! I completed school, attended the army, and began my married life there. There is no place on earth where it is easier to be Jewish – secular or not.

7. With this now being your third title as a published author, what advice would you give authors who are just starting out?

Don’t stint on making your work as good as you can – and that means writing with passion, not shortcutting the long process of revision, being open to critique while keeping true to your personal vision. At The Writers Circle, I teach aspiring novelists who slowly come to realize how much of a marathon writing a novel is. I tell them to develop a hard outer skin. Rejection is simply a reality in the publishing world, especially today. (And yet, as one of my previous agents would say: “it only takes one!”)

San Francisco columnist tells tales of the city through the eyes of its youngest residents in ‘Urban Playground’


“Urban Playground is an entertaining introduction to San Francisco thanks to the charm, sense of wonder, and joy of its participants.”

Foreword-Clarion Reviews

SAN FRANCISCO –– To outsiders, the Bay Area is intrinsically linked to tech hubs and counterculture. But what about San Francisco’s kid culture? In her new book, “Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco,” Katie Burke explores the experience of kids ages five to nine living in one of the country’s most iconic cultural hubs.
The book also includes thoughtful discussion questions designed to draw laughs, explore various topics from silly to serious, and facilitate discussion.

Writer of Noe Kids, a column of kid profiles for San Francisco neighborhood newspaper The Noe Valley Voice, Katie Burke brings city kids’ personalities and perspectives to the page, leading readers to see the joys and challenges to being a San Francisco kid.
One five-year-old tries to articulate the city’s aroma, “I smell a delicious smell, and it always smells like San Francisco. I don’t know what the smell is, so I can’t really tell it to people, but it smells different from ice cream.”

But it isn’t all about parks and ice cream. Drawing on her experience being an aunt to six nieces and two nephews (all of whom grew up in major cities), Burke unearths an often hidden and unasked perspective on the city’s more complicated subjects –– from homelessness to immigrant parents. By leaning in and crouching down to see a child’s point of view, Burke shows us a part of San Francisco we never knew.

More about Urban Playground

Have you ever wondered what it’s like being a kid in San Francisco? Are you raising a kid in this or another urban center? San Francisco life is full of thrills and bummers, both for kids and the adults who love them.

In Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco, Katie Burke explores the experience of kids ages five to nine living in this place—what makes San Francisco special for kids and why some are over it.

Writer of Noe Kids, her column of kid profiles for San Francisco neighborhood newspaper The Noe Valley Voice, Katie Burke brings city kids’ personalities and perspectives to the page, leading readers to see the joys and challenges inherent to being a San Francisco kid.

Just when the book suggests that parks and ice cream are all any kid needs, you will turn the page to find a child’s appreciation for the Golden Gate Bridge or the Ferry Building Farmers Market.

The picture isn’t all aglow: the significant homeless population weighs on San Francisco children’s hearts, and the city is too noisy for some. But for the most part, they will tell you it is a pretty great place to live.

Urban Playground
What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco
Katie Burke | April 7, 2020 | SparkPress
Paperback | 978-1-68463-016-5 | $16.95
E-Book | 978-1-68463-017-2 | $9.95
Family & Relationships, Juvenile Nonfiction, and Social Science

Praise for Urban Playground

“In this charming, warm-hearted, often very funny book, Katie Burke takes us into the minds of children–a place we should all spend more time! Not only a wonderfully insightful kid’s eye guide to San Francisco, Urban Playground is also an interactive manual for getting into the minds of your own—and your friends’—children. Reading its sweet—and sometimes quirky—interviews , is to see San Francisco with the freshest eyes possible.”

Janis Cooke Newman, author of A Master Plan for Rescue

“San Francisco as seen through the eyes of its youngest denizens. More than just an insider’s guide to places parents should take their kids in the city, Katie Burke’s stories are a revelation about the lives, imaginations and dreams of our future generation. Kids really do say the darndest things.”

Scott James, journalist and author of San Francisco Chronicle bestsellers SoMa and The Sower

“If you’re seeking the honest truth from kids, you will find few better resources than Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco, by San Francisco writer Katie Burke. Burke’s StoryCorps-like interviews, quoting kids on everything from pupusas to Pride Week, reveal that the Bay Area remains a fertile ground for smart, confident, and fun-loving kids. Says a seven-year-old girl who’s on the road to becoming an archaeologist, “It usually takes about maybe a month or a year to dig up one dinosaur.” After reading this book, I wouldn’t be surprised if she or another San Francisco kid figured out how to dig one up sooner!”

Sally Smith, Editor and Co-Publisher, Noe Valley Voice

“Children make the best tour guides. In Katie Burke’s lively Urban Playground series, young city-dwellers share how they experience all aspects of city life, from restaurants, holidays, people and parks to pets, schools, sports, shops and activities. Their observations are moving and thought-provoking, and reveal what makes a city interesting and unique. This book will appeal to adults and kids who wish to see (and re-see) San Francisco.”

Christina Clancy, author of The Second Home

“A fascinating peek into the minds of San Francisco’s children. They are more insightful, creative and weird—in the best of ways! — than I’d ever imagined.”

Julia Scheeres, author of A Thousand Lives

“Katie Burke is a gifted writer. This book, about and partly told by San Francisco children, chronicles San Francisco and what makes the city special, but it also reminds us what it is like to be young, excited, open-minded, and curious. The children’s insights on holidays to heroes to homework apply to children and adults alike. A wonderful book for adults and children.”

Will Marks, San Francisco parent

“With an inviting cover, Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco, invites a multi-generational exchange on the joys and hardships of living in one of America’s greatest cities. Author Katie Burke introduces the reader to a multicultural point-of-view that is current and insightful, as each chapter introduces a new voice, followed by discussion questions. What makes this an important work is its honest recording of children’s voices, their fears and dreams. It is a poignant reminder that family is defined in many ways.”

Johnnie Bernhard, author of A Good Girl, How We Came to Be, and Sisters of the Undertow

“How can we ask our children to walk a mile in another’s shoes without insight into other kids’ lives? And how can we teach empathy without them walking that mile in their mind? This book provides a window into the lives of children and, through them, into a city. The stories are relatable and paired with fun questions to get a conversation started.”

Amy Baker, San Francisco parent

This delightful book of interviews of important San Franciscans — grade-school kids — works on so many levels because it is by, about, and for them and speaks in their voices. Interlocutor and wordsmith Katie Burke introduces herself as Aunt Katie. She is not, however, the auntie with apron and spoon in hand, but rather an imaginative, zany and fun friend who coaxes, respects and reflects the whimsy and honesty of the kids.

Joanna Biggar, author of Melanie’s Song

“With so much to see and do, it’s easy for anyone to fall in love with San Francisco. Katie Burke’s new book beautifully captures the wonder of this great city through the lens of San Francisco’s most inquisitive residents—our children.”

Rafael Mandelman, District 8 Supervisor

As the parent of two small kids, I cannot wait to explore San Francisco with them after reading Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco. Katie Burke’s writing captures the unique voice of each child she interviews, truly bringing to life the diversity of the city and giving the reader tons of ideas for things to do. Every guidebook features sites like the Golden Gate Bridge and Pier 39, but now my itinerary will include the Mission Pool, Bi-Rite for ice cream, Green Apple Books, Japantown for sushi, Hop Oast Brew Pub for hot dogs and hamburgers—and maybe even a day trip to Treasure Island! Even if a trip to San Francisco isn’t in the future, this book is still a fantastic resource for parents due to the discussion questions at the end of each interview. I’ve already used a couple of them with my own kids, and it’s been eye-opening to hear their answers to questions I would have never thought to ask. Every city needs a book like this one, which allows reader of all ages to experience it through the eyes of a child.

Megan Holt, Ph.D., Executive Director of One Book One New Orleans

“When I was going through teacher training, one of our instructors urged us not to ask children who they wanted to be when they grew up. The only appropriate response to such a question would be ‘I already am.’ Urban Playground shows that one does not need to come of age to have a strong personality. The fifty kids interviewed live with single parents or split time between two parents, have two moms, two dads, or one of each. Some have special needs. All kids are all presented in their own terms without any sense of ‘othering.’ The kids in this book just are, in all their silly, poignant, and very own specifics. One has a parrot named Gobble. One invents not just a new holiday, but what names will be in different countries. They come from neighborhoods all over San Francisco; readers will delight in recognizing common landmarks shared by disparate personalities. The wonderfully illogical and insightful things they say will fuel delight and introspection.”

Monya Baker, San Francisco science editor

More about Katie Burke

Katie Burke is the author of Urban Playground (SparkPress, 2020), a book featuring San Francisco kids ages five to nine. She writes Noe Kids, a monthly column for The Noe Valley Voice, featuring kids ages four to twelve who live in Noe Valley. Katie has taught creative writing to children and adults in Kenya, South Africa, and San Francisco. She travels annually to New Orleans, and her writing expresses her appreciation for San Francisco and New Orleans’ eccentric characters. Also a family law attorney, Katie writes quarterly judicial and attorney profiles for San Francisco Attorney Magazine. Her other publications include HarperCollins, the L.A. Times, KQED Perspectives, and SoMa Literary Review.


In an interview, KATIE BURKE can discuss:

  • How you can relate to children in your own life and hear their stories
  • The unique challenges of conveying a child’s perspective
  • The value of a child’s perspective, on everything from ice cream to the Golden Gate Bridge

An Interview with KATIE BURKE

1. Why do you love talking with kids? How did you realize this was something you wanted to do?

Kids have such a fresh way of looking at the world. They are so hilarious because they are mostly unfiltered, calling everything as they see it with their observations and immense feelings. For example, I still laugh out loud every time I recall my niece Molly, five years old at the time, looking up at me as I was opening and closing web browsers, and saying in a surprised tone, “You’re a smart girl, Katie!”

I knew I wanted to write a book featuring city kids when my publisher and then-writing coach, Brooke Warner, came up with the concept. She had read some of my other writing, some of which centered around characters I’d encountered in San Francisco and New Orleans, and some of which I’d written for and about city kids. Brooke thought it would be great to put a book out that featured city kids and invited children everywhere to read about these city kids with their significant adults. We started in San Francisco, since that is where I live.

2. Are there certain answers that stand out more to you than others? How so? Do you have a favorite “kid response” you received while working on this book?

I laughed so hard when Liam, five years old at the time, answered that he was moving to Michigan after living in San Francisco “for two weeks” (he’d actually lived here for a year) because “my mom wants to move there, and I always agree with my mom.” His interview topic was heroes, whom he identified as people who save the city. He said he used to save the entire city, but “I’m not that guy anymore.” I just love it when little ones give earnest answers without any clue how funny they are.

3. What do you think most adults don’t understand about kids? Do you have any advice for how to communicate with them better?

Well, as someone who is childless by choice, I am always the first to say I don’t judge most parents, since parenting is an impossible job. But I do think that as a doting aunt to eight children and a writer who regularly interviews children, I can say that adults would do best by the children in their lives if they listened more and considered their children wise. When kids speak, I know they are generally revealing the truth, with some exceptions where an adult has groomed the child to mimic prepared statements. My experience with children overwhelmingly reveals their purity of thought and feeling. Like all of us, they just want to love and be loved, and they are better at showing that than adults are.

4. What makes the kids you interview uniquely San Franciscan? How do they differ from other kids in the same age group, potentially living in other cities or even the country?

San Francisco kids are sophisticated in a way that you’ll see in other urban centers like New York City, but where you don’t find in most places. Unless otherwise conditioned by an adult, all children are natural truth tellers, often eager to share their observations and ask questions to help clarify the world as they discover it.

For San Francisco kids, this means they know and share a lot about cultural events, technology, and serious issues like homelessness. They just seem to know things well beyond their years. For example, when I asked Brad, nine years old at the time, whether there was anything he didn’t like about San Francisco, he answered, “Well, it’s super expensive. Whenever I want to buy something from my allowance, I have to use up most of my allowance. But I like Amazon because it makes everything cheap.”

5. What brought you to San Francisco? We know it was a childhood dream for you to live in the city––did it live up to your kid expectations? How has your relationship with the city changed throughout working on this book and seeing San Francisco through the eyes of its young residents?

When my Aunt Nancy took me to dinner on my tenth birthday and we spoke about my love of San Francisco and my desire to live here someday, I don’t think I had ever been here. I have no idea what I had in mind then. I just know I’d been telling people I wanted to live here when I grew up, and she was the first to say she could see me being very happy in San Francisco, since the culture and the politics felt aligned with who I was at that age, living in conservative Phoenix, Arizona.

As I grew up, I began developing more specific expectations of San Francisco, though they still hovered mostly around a gut feeling that it was just “my place,” so to speak—home in a way Phoenix never was or could be. In 1999, when I was living back in Phoenix after completing college in Connecticut and a master’s degree at Arizona State University, I was within months of moving to San Francisco when I said to my friend James, “I’ve built up this city in my mind for fifteen years. What if it doesn’t live up to my dreams?” He replied, “Your love of San Francisco will make it the city of your dreams.” That’s exactly right, although the city is a phenomenal place all on its own, with or without my dreams to boost it.

Speaking with San Francisco kids hasn’t changed my view of the city, but it has made me realize that for all the city’s cultural appeal and educational opportunities, what most kids love most about San Francisco is the park closest to their home and their favorite ice cream shop. Also, many are distressed about homelessness and neighborhoods that they consider dirty. Being low to the ground seems to give kids a unique perspective on both. This hasn’t changed my view of the city, but it is sobering to hear children share their fears and displeasure over some of our city’s less glamorous features.

6. If you had to move to another city, where would you go and why?

It’s hard for me to imagine living anywhere except San Francisco, but if I had to live elsewhere, I could see myself being very happy in New York City. Though Brooklyn is on trend, I still love Manhattan best—mostly because that’s where I spend most of my time when I’m in New York, and it is where three of my nieces and one nephew live, but also because I thrive in dense urban centers. I like the pace and options cities like New York and San Francisco provide.

I spend a lot of time in New Orleans, and I love that city and will likely be a continuing regular visitor, but I don’t think I would want to live in Louisiana or in any place, like New Orleans, where you really need a car to live optimally.

Garden expert introduces holistic approach to landscaping


Monique Allen crafts a guide to creating an environment that elevates your life

MEDFIELD, Massachusetts – We all want to be our best selves and that means having the ability to rest and recharge in holistic ways. Nature has great power to inspire imagination and settle the nervous system, and many of us have access to nature right at home yet it often causes more stress than calm. Author Monique Allen is shedding light on how to transform landscapes into powerful places that can recharge our batteries, uplift our souls, and delight our senses.

In Stop Landscaping, Start Life-Scaping: A Guide to Ending the Rush-rush, Humdrum Approach to Landscape Development & Care (March 23, 2020, Ingram Sparks) the landscape designer and developer Allen explains how to imagine, build and care for these spaces to be integral experience-makers in our lives. With over 35 years of experience in the field, Allen shares stories, frank examples, and dozens of practical tips that will guide you through the process of creating an outdoor environment that is fulfilling and an extension of yourself.

In these pages, Allen calls for a paradigm shift in how we design, build and manage landscapes, for home gardeners and seasoned professionals alike. Detailing various concepts including why systems-thinking is important to your success, how to picture your plan and assemble your construction team, why long-term care strategies must be an upfront consideration, and how to become a loving partner and steward of your land, Allen shows how your landscape is your connection to nature and ultimately the lifeline to inner peace and the well-being of our communities.


MONIQUE ALLEN is the Founder & Creative Director of The Garden Continuum, an award-winning landscape design/build and fine gardening company. She has spent 35 years as a gardener, designer, contractor, business owner, and employer. She is a master creator, professional employer, and skillful industry advocate. Her impressive project development and care background allow her to choose the clients she works for and the employees she hires while maintaining her staunch commitment to our environment. In addition to 35 years in the business, Monique is also an accomplished business coach, industry blogger, and has just completed her first full-length book on her signature method of Life-Scaping. For more information visit Monique Allen at


“Stop Landscaping, Start Life-Scaping: A Guide to Ending the Rush-Rush, Humdrum Approach to Landscape Development and Care”

Monique Allen | March 23, 2020 | Ingram Sparks
Paperback ISBN:978-0-578-61941-5 | Price: $24.95
Nonfiction | Home Improvement | How-To

Stop Landscaping, Start Life-Scaping is an inviting work for gardeners hoping to discover their true selves.” — Foreword Clarion Review 4-star review


In an interview, MONIQUE ALLEN can discuss:

  • How your yard can become a Life-Scape
  • The importance of caring for the environment and supporting environmental causes
  • Why long term care needs to be considered from the beginning
  • How your environment impacts your mood and day-to-day activities
  • Well tested gardening tips
  • What the landscaping industry has done in the past, and why we need to shift to a more mindful way of interacting with our land

An Interview with MONIQUE ALLEN

1. Can you explain what “Life-Scaping” means to you?

A Life-Scape is a place of rest, recharge and peace. It isn’t like a spa or resort where you just go and get waited on. It’s more of a place to go to be still in your mind. Even if you are actively gardening, you can be still in the mind while doing it. A Life-Scape is a safe place to go and think, or to play, or to visit with others. It doesn’t ask anything of you that you don’t want to give it. You love it and it loves you back. You tend and invest in it because you want to. There is none of the begrudging – “UGH, I have to mow the lawn. Crap! Have to weed again!” This isn’t how one views or interacts with a Life-Scape. You may be of means and able to hire someone to build it and tend it so you do nothing. Or, you may do all the work yourself. No matter the mix, the place, when you go to it has the power to regulate your experience in positive ways.

2. How did you first come to the realization that the landscaping industry needed a paradigm shift?

Lots of unhappy people were coming to me with complaints about their dissatisfaction with their yards and all the services they have had in the past. I know that my co-trades people are good people — no one wants to do bad work. But bad work was happening — is happening — everywhere. It’s happening more than it isn’t happening. I noticed that the landscape had become a thing to own and manage. It was no longer considered a living system by the masses. And until we get back there, we are going to continue to struggle to succeed and suffer losses and disappointments.

3. Why is it so important to change the way we think of and interact with land, especially now?

There is so much talk about being GREEN — clean air, clean water, pesticide-free foods, the list goes on. It’s a travesty that we can’t make the connection between the struggles of our planet and the human race to be healthy and the power we have in our own landscapes to have an impact. If every homeowner, every business owner, and every landscape professional just adopted the Life-Scape mindset, we would be able to make amazingly positive impacts on our environment. We need that kind of radical and broad shift to make lasting and sustainable changes.

4. What is your recommendation for a home gardener who wants to start working on their landscape?

Start by considering it’s sentient. It is alive. It is a system. It is interrelated and communicative. When you start to realize that it is a living breathing entity, you start to soften your stance on what is acceptable and what is not. I’m not saying that you go hands-off — I actually think that’s a huge mistake. Rather, I think you start by asking — how can I nurture this space into health? How can I craft the space into one that is enticing to me and my family (or my community if it’s a business or town)?

5. Why is it important to have a long-term care plan for your landscape? Is a long-term care plan important in Life-Scaping?

A long-term care plan represents your acknowledgment that this living system will grow, expand, change, possibly get damaged in weather, be broken, die, get sick, get too big over time. You need to see that there is NOTHING static in this outside environment. We have become so insular and inside focused that we forget that nature evolves and changes. We can’t have a Life-Scape without maintenance and management and care and attention to the important environmental impacts that will sometimes speed up or tip over that evolution.

6. In what ways does your environment affect mental health?

Nature is a living breathing system. When it’s healthy and vibrant, it will emanate positive energy — regulating energy. As humans, we also vibrate with health and wellness or stress and disease. We know when we are near an angry person or a happy person. Nature is the same — but just magnify that to like the 100th power. A healthy, vibrant landscape has the power to regulate our vibration. There is even research now that says that working healthy soils can regulate moods and balance depressive states. That the light waves of the color green can actually mitigate migraine headaches. We are of nature and when we eliminate her from our existence we are all worse for the wear. When we embrace her and visit her and allow ourselves to be close and touch nature, we can actually lift our mood, our mindset, our health, and our outlook.

7. What are the top three most important things to consider when starting to garden or landscape?

First is the environment you are presented to work with. Don’t try to make it something it isn’t already. The most success comes from working in partnership with the nature of your existing surroundings. It’s also far more cost-effective to approach it that way.

Second is the time you give and expect. Landscape development — especially done the Life-Scape way — is not a project, it’s a process. There is certainly a beginning and lots of middle space, but the end… that’s questionable. When you end… you die. When a landscape ends… maybe it’s because you move, or you just stop minding that it’s growing away from your control. Point is, it’s a long game. Knowing that is good. Like pets, like kids, like relationships — we aren’t racing to an end.

Third is the financial investment. Yes, we can be frugal, we can work hard to keep costs down to a point. Be mindful that when we engage in what’s worthy and valuable, we can monitor expenses and certainly should, but avoid cutting corners and quick fixes. In a living system that will bite you in the backside before too long. A Snickers bar for lunch is quick and cheap (and sorta yummy too) but often comes as a sugar crash (or a crappy mood) a few hours later. We need to think holistically even in the realm of financial investments in the landscape.

Bestselling author pens page-turning novel of suspense about the sinister truth hiding behind a perfect family


CHICAGO — Adopted by her controlling foster mother at the age of eight, twenty-year-old Tara has seen little of the outside world. Lonely, punished for the slightest offense, her only distraction comes from watching the Feely family’s online videos. They’re an affectionate vlogging quintet and an internet sensation. Most important, they are Tara’s mental refuge. Then the opportunity arises for them to be something more. When Tara accepts an internship with the close-knit clan, they’re her escape.
Daring to run away, and defying Mother’s rules, Tara is welcomed into the loving fold. But the more Tara gets to know them, the more she realizes that not everything is as it seems. As secrets slowly surface, the image of the perfect family begins to crack. For Tara, it’s another trap.
To claim a life of her own, she’ll need a new escape plan. Because as the show’s popularity explodes, reaching even more fascinated viewers, Tara can’t shake the feeling that Mother is among their ranks. She’s watching. She’s waiting. She’ll never let her go.



What It Seems

Emily Bleeker | March 17, 2020 | Lake Union Publishing
Paperback | 978-1542043748 | $10.99
Ebook | B07T23V938 | $4.99
Audio | 978-1799723141 | $14.99
Genre: Psychological Thriller



More about Emily Bleeker

Emily Bleeker is a former educator who discovered her passion for writing after introducing a writer’s workshop to her students. She soon found a whole world of characters and stories living inside of her mind. It took a battle with a rare form of cancer to give her the courage to share that amazing world with others. Emily lives in suburban Chicago with her family. Between writing and being a mom, she attempts to learn guitar, sings along to the radio (loudly), and embraces her newfound addiction to running.


In an interview, Emily can discuss:

  • The success of her previous novels, including hitting bestsellers list for every release
  • The importance of using literature to educate the public on important issues like domestic violence
  • Growing up in a household with strained relationships, and how that influences her writing
  • Children forming an idea of families through YouTube in the digital age

An Interview with EMILY BLEEKER

1. What responsibility do you think literature has to educate people about issues like domestic violence?

I have always said that I think books are one of the greatest methods for spreading empathy. When you watch a movie–you see someone else live though various situations. But when you read a book, you as the reader have the opportunity to take one someone else’s life for a few hours and days. When it comes to topics like abuse and control, I’ve seen far too often that it is easier and more comfortable for society at large to say one of two things: 1. It can’t be THAT bad or 2. Why don’t you just leave? This story takes a look at why it isn’t easy to leave abuse and how much internal resolve it takes to find your way out, not just from the grasp of the abuser but also from the prison of your own limitations. The more that readers can experience these worlds that might be outside their own life experiences, the more equipped they can be to stop asking the wrong questions like the ones above, and start asking the right ones like “How bad is it?” and “How can I support you?” and “How can I help you feel safe to leave?”

2. How do you talk to your daughter about technology, and the idea of YouTube families ?

A few years ago I heard a sing-songy woman’s voice coming out of my daughter’s bedroom. It turned out to be from a video my daughter was watching of a family vlogger on YouTube. At first I thought that these family vloggers were a wholesome alternative to cartoons or endless toy unboxings but as I listened to more of the videos, I came to see that these families were dangerous in their own way. They made it seem like their very nuclear seeming families were happy, perfect, clean, adventurous and problem free 97% of the time. My daughter, who had never seemed to be concerned about the fact that I’m a single mom, suddenly was asking me to get married to…just about anyone and have more children and live our lives more like the YouTube families she followed online. It was an uphill battle to explain to my four year old (at the time) that families come in all shapes and sizes, a lesson I thought she’d come to understand already. And I also tried to explain that the majority of what is put online is a polished, pretend version of reality. Not a very easy concept to cover with a small child. Now, when she watches YouTube videos we talk very openly about how everything is not exactly what it seems online and how important it is to live in the reality of her life and find joy, REAL joy, there.

3. Can you talk a little bit about the complications involved with domestic violence situations?

I think the most difficult thing to understand about domestic violence and abuse in general is how deeply mental the victim is conditioned by the abuser. There is a trauma bond formed that keeps the victim of the abuse or neglect from feeling like they can leave the situation and those reasons seem very real and insurmountable. Not to mention that a 75% of domestic violence homicides happen when the victim is in the process of leaving their abuser. It can seem frightening and insurmountable to conquer solo which his why it is often too difficult to escape alone.

4. How has the success of your previous novels affected you?

I am so lucky to be able to support myself and my family as a full time writer. Honestly, my success’s greatest gift has been independence. But it also has helped me see that this world is full of so many opportunities and it is my job to keep working hard and seeking them out and encouraging others to treat their dreams and ambitions in a similar way.

Award-winning author, research psychologist releases inspiring new children’s book on embracing self-sufficiency


OTTAWA, Ontario – Drawing from her own experience as a mother and a research psychologist, award-winning author Dr. Rachel Kowert presents tales of empowerment and self-reliance in her new children’s book, “Pragmatic Princess: 26 Superb Stories of Self-Sufficiency.”

Inspired by her own frustration as a mother of two seeking reading content featuring female leads who weren’t superheroes or male-companion dependent, Kowert’s book offers stories of everyday girls, solving everyday problems, with their everyday abilities. And the 26 stories represent children of all backgrounds, abilities and family types – each with a distinct personality – from Winnie the Wise who says, “…we are the ones who make our dreams come true, not other people, in the end it is up to you” to Xena the Xenial who reminds us, “We have so much to learn from one another, but only if we can listen to each other.”

After Kowert successfully raised more than $26,000 in just three days through a Kickstarter campaign, the book was developed with psychology and science in mind to maximize the potential for learning, as the characters in childhood stories are some of our earliest teachers. “Pragmatic Princess” is changing the narrative, moving beyond the tropes that female characters are best suited as damsels in distress or needing superpowers to be successful. And Kowert’s work pays particular attention to communities underrepresented in children’s books. More than 16 of the stories in the book feature a black, Asian or ethnic minority character in a central role, and two feature disabled children as the story leads.

“The symbolic models in our storybooks have a strong, long-lasting influence on our development,” Kowert says. “We need stories where female voices matter (no matter their ability or background) and where the diversity of the characters reflect the diversity of the world around us. by providing models that experience everyday challenging situations, ‘Pragmatic Princess’ also helps open the discussion for parents and teachers to talk about difficult childhood topics before they happen and provides the tools and strategies to successfully navigate these challenges.”



“Pragmatic Princess:
26 Superb Stories of Self-Sufficiency”
Rachel Kowert | 2019 | Your Own Castle, LLC
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-578-58369-3 | Price: $29.99
E-Book | Price: $12.99



Dr. Rachel Kowert is a research psychologist, author and mother of two. She has previously published several non-fiction books including “A Parent’s Guide to Video Games,” which won a Foreword INDIES Award for Science. She has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, Polygon, New York Magazine’s the Science of Us, and Texas Public Radio among others.

In an interview, Rachel Kowert can discuss:

  • The need for themes of empowerment, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, kindness and generosity in children’s stories.
  • The importance of featuring diversity and inclusion in children’s stories
  • How she developed this idea after seeking book options for her daughter that didn’t rely on male companions of superhero status.
  • Her background as a mother and research psychologist and how that inspires her work
  • The book’s foundation in science and extensive research

An Interview with Rachel Kowert

What inspired you to write “Pragmatic Princess,” and why is it so important to you?

As a psychologist, I know that the characters in our childhood stories are some of our earliest teachers. As a mom, I wanted books for my daughter that celebrated the powers and abilities of the everyday girl. However, when I went to find those kinds of books, they were few and far between. I wanted my daughter to have a storybook with characters that looked like her, reflected the world around her, and showed her what she was capable of doing with the skills and abilities she has right here and right now. Since that wasn’t available, I decided to write it myself.

How did you come up with the different characters and their names?

This was one of the most fun parts! More than half the characters are named after people I know or people I admire. For instance, Valerie is named after my mother, Gina is named after one of my dear friends, and Xena is named in honor of Xena the Warrior Princess (one of the very first strong and powerful women in the media that I was exposed to as a child).

We know that your daughter partially inspired this book, as you were looking for the kind of book you would want to buy for her. Is this book only for girls? What is your target audience?

This book is absolutely not just for girls! It is just as important that boys see girls solve their own problems as it is for girls to see girls solve their own problems. We read books to our daughters with male protagonists all the time and do not think twice about it! We should do the same for our boys (my son loves the book!). My target audience is those aged 3 -10+. The length is well-suited to keep the younger readers engaged whilst the topics become increasingly relevant for the older readers.

What does your daughter think about the book? Does she have a favorite princess?

My daughter loves the book! And despite the fact that “Zoe the Zealous” was named after her and designed to look like her, “Danielle the Daring” is her clear favorite. Though, I guess it is hard to compete with a girl who rides a motorcycle!

How does your background as a research psychologist inform your work?

I drew from my background to develop stories that would be fun, entertaining, but also maximize learning. Childhood stories provide an incredible opportunity to teach children a range of skills and behaviors across various categories of human development – intellectual, social, emotional, and moral. I wanted to make sure to take advantage of this opportunity by enlisting diverse characters and storylines that reflect everyday situations. My educational background also allowed me to develop characters to model effective skills and strategies to navigate some of the more difficult situations in childhood – such as fear of missing out, feeling left out, and constructive confrontation.

We know some of your past work has more of a parental audience; how was your process different when writing for children? Did anything surprise you?

It is definitely more fun writing for children! I was surprised at how much I was really able to integrate what I know about human psychology within the stories themselves. Being able to integrate a lesson or skill that I have picked up throughout my education and research career was a fantastic experience in walking the line between creative and technical writing.

Can you explain to us the science behind this book and the research that went into it?

The science behind the writing is a mix of media studies and learning theory. There is a lot of research that has found that the stories we are told as children through the media, whether it be television, movies, or books, have a long-lasting impact on our development. Knowing this, I wanted to create stories that demonstrate self-reliance but also maximize the potential for the transfer of learning through social modeling. The diverse cast of characters makes it more likely that readers will relate to any particular character and research has found that people are more likely to emulate role models of the same sex, ethnicity, and skill level of any particular activity. The book also rhymes, which helps make the content easier to memorize for younger children, which can help transition them into the pre-reading stage of development. Rhyming has also been found to encourage the development of writing skills.

Accused of Treason: The US Army’s Witch Hunt for a Jewish Spy by Dr. David A. Tenenbaum

Dr. David A. Tenenbaum is a civilian mechanical engineer who works for the Army at the TACOM base in Warren, Michigan. In 1997, he was falsely accused of being an Israeli spy–and having dual loyalty to the State of Israel simply because he is Jewish–by a known anti-Semite and several other anti-Semitic coworkers who referred to Tenenbaum as the “little Jewish spy.” The FBI conducted a full-scale criminal investigation of Tenenbaum and his family. It resulted in an official report to FBI Director Louis Freeh, that there was no evidence Tenenbaum had ever done anything wrong. In fact, Tenenbaum was not even working on classified programs. Instead, he was concentrating on an approved and unclassified program known as the Light Armor Systems Survivability (LASS) to up-armor the Army’s HMMWVs because, following Somalia, it was a known fact the the HMMWVs were death traps.

The Tenenbaums’ federal lawsuit for religious discrimination was dismissed after the Army falsely claimed that they “would not be able to disclose the actual reasons or motivations for their actions without revealing state secrets.” Senator Carl Levin ordered the IG-DOD to investigate the Tenenbaum case and determine if the Army was guilty of anti-Semitism. After over two years, the IG-DOD  issued a report which confirmed that the US Army was guilty of anti-Semitism.

To this day, the Army refuses to make Tenenbaum whole and compensate him for the false accusations against him. Tenenbaum is one of the only persons for whom a favorable Inspector General report has been issued to not be compensated. The government has never been held accountable for their anti-Semitism.


Angelle Barbazon, publicist
Books Forward
P: (615) 576-0497


Accused of Treason: The US Army’s Witch Hunt for a Jewish Spy
by Dr. David A. Tenenbaum

On-Sale: March 10, 2020
ISBN: 9781642934519
$US 26.00 / $35.00 CAD




Dr. David A. Tenenbaum has been working for the US Army as a civilian engineer since December 1984. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Chemical Engineering and a Doctorate in Business Administration. He has extensive experience working with other countries, conducting risk assessment and assessing technologies around the world, and developing business opportunities worldwide. One of his earlier primary responsibilities was to assess the safety of specific military vehicles and to help develop technologies to increase the safety of those vehicles. He managed the gunner restraint program for the HMMWV, which prevented the gunner from being killed in the event of a rollover, and was one of the primary designers of the restraint system which has been applied to other military vehicles as well. He was one of the first scientists/engineers in the US to recognize the deficiency of the HMMWVs against IEDs and developed a program with the Israelis and Germans to ensure the safety of US soldiers in these vehicles. Tenenbaum had been chosen for the highly competitive Weapon System Sustainment Management (WSSM) program as well as another competitive Congressional program, the AMC Civilian Leadership Development Program, which meant that he was being “fast-tracked” for upper management. He was also selected to be the exchange engineer to Israel. He continues his fight to this day to clear his name publicly and have the US Army accept responsibility and be held accountable for their false accusations against him.

A Conversation with Dr. David A. Tenenbaum:

Q: What inspired you to write Accused of Treason?

A: I don’t know that I would use the word inspired. There was never a moment of “oh, I think I should write a book”. It was more of a necessity or a responsibility. Anti-Semitism or any form of racism or bias should not be tolerated especially in our own government. And those who are guilty of purposefully trying to hurt people because of their own racist/biased attitude need to be held accountable for their actions. I did not write this book out of revenge.

I wrote this put to emphasize that we must never be afraid to take a stand against hatred and perhaps even more so we must not let hateful people define who we are.
By writing this book I am fighting back and showing that these people did not win and I will keep fighting until justice is served.

I wrote it to tell the story of a government gone wild where people in high level positions are not held accountable for their actions. It should make people angry. Remember…if it can happen to me…it can happen to you.

As George Santayana said; “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Paraphrased many times as; “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
People need to be held accountable for their actions.

Q: What do you hope is the biggest takeaway from the book?

A: I would like people to read this book and become angry that something like this should occur in today’s day and age in the United States. More importantly they should, hopefully, take away from this book to never give up and don’t let the negative things in life define you in a negative way but those negatives should help us learn and grow in a positive direction.

Q: How was your personal life affected by these workplace accusations?

A: That is an easy question to answer but not easy in a psychological way. I was for many years consumed with my case especially during the time I was suspended from my job and for many years after. I didn’t know if I was going to go to jail for the rest of my life, perhaps the death sentence for treason…I had no idea. I was not able to be there for my children for obviously good reasons. Even after I was cleared of any wrongdoing I was focused on obtaining justice. I had to be available for legal issues and could not necessarily go on vacation with my family. I lost time with my wife and kids…time is something which can never be given back. My focus was initially staying out of jail. Even after I was cleared I was treated like a pariah in my job for the Army and am still treated that way. I am still harassed and have to constantly watch my back as they would love to get rid of me. I am the mistake they made…the bad penny that keeps coming back. So, my focus is still on the case, but not like it used to be. My kids are older but I missed time with them…and I will never get that time back.

Q: Why do you continue to work for the Army despite the unfair treatment you received?

A: There are a few reasons that I continue to work for the Army.

– I still believe that I can contribute to the soldiers in the field. I have developed programs such as the gunner restraint system for HMMWVs. This technology has been used in other vehicles as well and I would like to think has saved soldiers’ lives. I initially conceived the idea for civilian ambulances and I believe that at least at one point the system was adapted for civilian ambulance use. I have certainly contributed to advancing better safety standards and developing safer vehicles for the civilian sector and government. Given the right environment I think I can contribute even more.

– I have been blackballed and cannot obtain another job outside the government. Even within the government I have not been promoted since the false accusations against me occurred. I was being fast tracked for an executive position before all of this happened. So, I need to stay in the government for the time being.

-I also cannot leave for the simple reason that the case is not done. If I left the army has no impetus towards being held accountable for what they have done. They would have no reason for settling my case. They have never even apologized. No, I need to stay until it is over.

Q: How did the treason investigation affect the projects you were working on for the Army?

A: My projects were cancelled. The LASS project which was geared towards upgrading the survivability of the HMMWV was the most important project to be cancelled. I remember telling my supervisors that if we get into a war time situation and those HMMWVs are used as they are “now” soldiers will die. And that is what happened. I am neither a prophet or soothsayer…I just have common sense. Those who came after me with anti-Semitic accusations of dual loyalty’s, as my attorneys have said, “they have blood on their hands”.

I had other projects I was working on when I was suspended, which were sabotaged by those who contributed to the false accusations.

It was not just the “present” projects which suffered but future projects as well. When I was ordered back to work after the suspension I was told by the director at the time that not only were my projects, which I had spent years developing cancelled, but I was not allowed to work with Israel despite the fact I had done nothing wrong. My old contacts not just in Israel but other countries, in the US and at TACOM/TARDEC would not work with me. “Colleagues” turned the other way when they saw me in the hall walking towards them. I was told by my “friends’ that they thought I was guilty of espionage but there was not enough evidence to convict me. One of my old supervisors told other engineers treat him cordially but “lock your doors” …paraphrased. Another of my supervisors treated me very nicely to my face but I was told by a friend of mine that this supervisor told him “stay away from Tenenbaum…he is trouble”.

Welcome back.

Q: What advice would you give to someone else who is experiencing anti-Semitism, or any sort of discrimination, at work?

A: The best advice I would give is to not be complacent. You need to fight back…otherwise they have automatically won. I did receive calls from other people, mostly Jews who were being singled out or profiled and being investigated. They asked me what they should do. I said that they needed to fight back. Get an attorney. Publicize what was happening. Some were to afraid. They told me that they felt by fighting back it would make it worse. I told them they were counting on this attitude from you. But they were afraid. I told them they needed to take a stand against hatred. It will only get worse. Do it not just for yourself but also for your family. Respect yourself. Don’t allow hatred to beat you.