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Friday, January 28, 2022

Author: J. Lawrence Matthews

Narrator: Thomas Judd

Length: 19 hours 13 minutes

Publisher: East Dean Press

Released: Oct. 1, 2021

Genre: Mystery

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“What do you get when you cross Abraham Lincoln with Sherlock Holmes? The alchemy of creative genius. Matthews brings us to the intersection of history and fiction in this beautifully written epic full of unfathomable twists and turns. It’s elementary: this book is sensational.” (Jim Campbell, syndicated radio host and author of Madoff Talks: Uncovering the Untold Story Behind the Most Notorious Ponzi Scheme in History) “President Lincoln is assassinated in his private box at Ford’s!” When those harrowing words ring out during a children’s entertainment in Washington on the evening of April 14, 1865, a quick-thinking young chemist from England named Johnnie Holmes grabs the 12-year-old son of the dying president, races the boy to safety, and soon finds himself enlisted in the most infamous manhunt in history. One Must Tell the Bees is the untold story of Sherlock Holmes’ journey from the streets of London to the White House of Abraham Lincoln and, in company with a freed slave named after the dead president, their breathtaking pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth. It is the very first case of the man who would become known to the world as Sherlock Holmes, and as listeners will discover, it will haunt him until his very last. At a time when Western history is being reexamined and retold, old heroes cast aside and statues torn down, and even the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, “the Great Emancipator”, is questioned, One Must Tell the Bees is a timely reminder that our history deserves to be understood before it is entirely undone.

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 J. Lawrence Matthews has contributed fiction to the New York Times and NPR and is the author of three non-fiction books as Jeff Matthews. “One Must Tell the Bees” is his first novel. Written at a time when American history is being scrutinized and recast in the light of 21st Century mores, this fast-paced account of Sherlock Holmes’s visit to America during the final year of the Civil War illuminates the profound impact of Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation on slavery, the war and America itself. Matthews is now researching the sequel, which takes place a bit further afield—in Florence, Mecca and Tibet—but readers may contact him at jlawrencematthews@gmail.com. Those interested in the history behind “One Must Tell the Bees” will find it at jlawrencematthews.com.

Q&A with Author J. Lawrence Matthews
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • My PR firm has an affiliate that does audiobooks. They turned out to be very good. I sent them several excerpts in order to audition potential narrators. They sent me a half-dozen audio files from various actors, both American and British. Eventually I settled on Thomas Judd (See Question 4) who had some excellent questions for me after reading the manuscript but before he started recording. When the recording was done, I listened to it (all 19 hours!), took notes and sent back a list of perhaps two dozen errors or corrections, which were then fixed. (NB: I discovered that certain literary devices don’t work in audiobooks; for example, I ended up removing from the audiobook the brief quotations from various books that had introduced each of the five parts of ONE MUST TELL THE BEES, because they were confusing in audiobook form–it wasn’t clear they were different from my own text.) Meanwhile, I worked with the firm on the introductory music, because I wanted a specific sound. They found a musician to record a violin playing “A Balm in Gilead” for reasons that will be clear later in this Q&A. Altogether it was a relatively pain-free process, and, as an unexpected bonus, I discovered by listening to the book that there were several points in the story that needed an additional line or two, which I only heard when listening to the recording. I fixed those not only for the audiobook but also in the printed versions–and now I understand why the great historian David McCullough listens to his wife read his books aloud before they go to the publisher!
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • My production team sent me a half-dozen digital audition recordings of short excerpts from ONE MUST TELL THE BEES. I listened to each and requested follow-ups with a couple of the narrators, but It was quickly clear this was going to be difficult. There are two main ‘voices’ narrating the book—Dr. Watson’s and Sherlock Holmes’s, both British—but the book also contains half a dozen important American voices, including Abraham Lincoln’s, as well as those of several important female characters, not to mention freed slaves who play a crucial role in the American story. It was imperative the narrator could switch from upper-class British to back-country American; from male to female; from Black to White. Most narrators were good at either British or American voices, but not both. Then came Thomas Judd. His Sherlock and Watson were terrific, pitch-perfect and very easy on the ears, and his American and female voices were also very very good. I picked him and never regretted the decision.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
    • We’re an ocean apart physically, so to this day I have never met Thomas Judd, but I sent him the manuscript and was shocked and pleasantly surprised when, before recording, he came back to me with questions about several Shakespeare quotes in ONE MUST TELL THE BEES (Lincoln was very fond of Shakespeare and liked to read aloud to friends). I had mistakenly misquoted from Macbeth, but had purposely slightly misquoted Hamlet—and Thomas caught both instances and wanted to make sure he knew what I meant. That astonished me.
  • Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • Yes, but not many. There are several Americanized words in the book that it was important to get right; also, Abraham Lincoln is not easy for a narrator. One thinks of Lincoln as a somber, deep-voiced speaker–but in fact he was a country lawyer and by all accounts spoke in a high-pitched voice that was geared for swaying juries and being heard in outdoor settings before microphones were available. And it was important for the listener to be able to distinguish Holmes, Watson and Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock’s brother), even though all three are male, British voices. But Thomas brought great skill to the proceedings and needed very little prompting!
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Abraham Lincoln was the key real life inspiration behind the book, of course, because one of the dominant lessons of ONE MUST TELL THE BEES is the importance of Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. Also, many (if not most) of the fictional incidents in the book derive in some manner from things that happened to me during my life. For example, the scene involving a freed slave preaching alongside the Potomac River in 1865 was based on my experience seeing the Reverend Jesse Jackson preach decades ago when I was fresh out of college.
  • Are you an audiobook listener?
    • An avid listener, but very particular about the narrator, because the voice makes such a huge difference to the story.
  • What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • Three things: 1) I love listening while driving, biking or walking, because those are large blocks of time when I can become absorbed in a different world while still navigating the ‘real world.’ 2) Great narrators can bring to life great characters—especially Dickens, but also, of course, Sherlock Holmes—in a way that I can’t just by reading the words. 3) Some literature demands to be listened to because it was created to be spoken on a stage, not read on the page. This applies to Shakespeare, especially.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • Great question. Yes. There is a scene late in the book after Sherlock Holmes has revealed to Dr. Watson the previously untold story of his time in America as a very young chemist during the Civil War and has described, among other things, the physical and emotional wounds of slavery he witnessed there. Then Holmes grows quiet and reflective, and begins playing on his violin the tune to “There is A Balm in Gilead,” an old spiritual he learned in America. When the audio narrator (as Sherlock Holmes) begins singing to the music “There is a balm in Gilead/to heal the sin-sick soul,” it just floored me. I got chills hearing it.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • First, it takes just as much time to listen to a book as it does to read it—so how is that “cheating”? Second, as an author I’m trying to convey the voices in my head onto paper so a reader can ‘hear’ those voices, too, which is what happens with “real reading.” But if a great actor can translate those words from paper to audio, I’m thrilled—and so should the listener be! Third, that theory would mean that reading Shakespeare is “cheating” because his plays were intended to be heard on a stage, not read in a book! All in all, nonsense. A great footballer can score with his feet or his head—why not absorb great literature with your ears as well as your eyes?
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • Find a way to write something every day, whatever you do—airline pilot, CEO, waiter, nurse—and do it, even if it’s only 10 minutes. Don’t hold off for moments of inspiration or blocks of time on weekends or when you’re on holiday. You will find two things happen: 1) the words accumulate, 2) your brain begins to solve problems during your working day because your story is always in the back of your mind—and solving problems is 80% of writing. (You not only solve problems while you’re awake. I’ll come halfway out of sleep with the lines in my head, text them to myself and go back to sleep.) Write every day, no matter what.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I have a short, fun, Christmas book coming out next fall in which Sherlock Holmes gets pranked. Meanwhile, I’m researching the follow-up to ONE MUST TELL THE BEES, which tells the story of how an older Sherlock Holmes meets the Dalai Lama. It takes place during the 1890s when Britain and Russia were locked in a diplomatic chess match over Tibet and it is great fun to research, although the reality of what China has done to Tibet since 1959 is one of the great political and human tragedies of our times, and deserves to be better exposed. I’m going to do my part.
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The Liars Beneath
Heather Van Fleet
Publication date: January 27th 2022
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult

A romantically dark YA thriller set in the backdrop of Iowa’s suspenseful farmlands.

After a tragic accident ends her best friend’s life, 17-year-old Becca Thompson succumbs to grief the only way she knows how: by wallowing in it. She’s a fragment of the person she once was—far too broken to enjoy the summer before her senior year. But when Ben McCain, her best friend’s older brother, returns home, Becca must face her new reality head on.

She isn’t interested in Ben’s games, especially since he abandoned his sister during the months leading up to her death. But when he begs for her help in uncovering the truth about what really happened the night of his sister’s death, Becca finds herself agreeing, hoping to clear up rumors swirling in the wake of her best friend’s accident.

An unhinged ex-boyfriend, secret bucket lists, and garage parties in the place Becca calls home soon lead her to the answers she’s so desperate to unveil. But nobody is being honest, not even Ben. And the closer Becca gets to the truth—and to Ben—the more danger seems to surround her.

Clearing her best friend’s name was all she wanted to do, but Becca is quickly realizing that the truth she craves might be uglier than the lies her best friend kept.

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EXCERPT:

It was almost midnight when I heard the knock against my window. Three soft and consecutive thuds, all of which match the beat of my heart. Why he chose that way to get my attention instead of texting, is a mystery. The kind of mystery I was way too amped up to question.

I wasn’t excited in the sense that I like him and want to spend time with him or anything. At least that’s what I told my racing heart when I first saw his smile from the other side of the glass. He’d been crouched on his belly on the roof of our porch like a stealthy spy, and the sight was something I’d never forget.

I’d thrown a hoodie on over the Tee I’m dressed in, pairing it with some denim cutoffs. Then I tossed my hair up into a messy bun and slid on some cherry Chapstick—but only because my lips were chapped. That’s it. No other reason whatsoever.

Once my Docs were on, I slid out my window and met him head on, the two of us jumping the five feet off the low hanging roof. I’d giggled uncontrollably when he landed on his butt instead of his feet, and he’d nearly pulled me down with him when he tried grabbing my laces. That would be the last time I’d ever not tie my boots.

“Guess what?” he whispered when we started to walk away from the house. “I researched your family tree today and found out that you, Becca, are the biggest sap.” He ended that statement with a tap to my nose. My freaking nose, for God’s sake.

He’d booped me.

My response—one which had been paired with a hard thump to his equally as hard abdomen: “You’re so dumb, you planted a dogwood tree and expected a litter of puppies.”

We both laughed at how stupid we sounded, yet at the same time it felt good to just be goofy. Or dare I say, normal. Though that word—normal—was a bit of a stretch when it came to the two of us anymore.

After that, Ben took my hand like it was the most natural thing in the world and proceeded to lead me to where we are now: the middle of the cornfield.

I trail my fingers over the silky corn stalks, marveling at their height and the way the midnight moon reflects off the green color. Nothing about this spot eases my frazzled nerves, of course. It doesn’t give me peace of mind like it once had when I’d come out here with Rose either. It’s kind of like the alcove in that sense—a spot tainted by a bad memory, despite the many good memories trying to override it.

Ben moves closer, our shoulders brushing.

“What are you thinking about?” he asks.

“Stuff.” That no longer matters. A time and a place and a memory that’s long past.

“Rose said you guys used to hang out here a lot.”

I shrugged one shoulder, unwilling to indulge in what happened the last time she and I had been out here. It’s not a huge thing, smoking weed and all, but for some reason, I don’t want Ben to know that it’d been my bucket list item, not Rose’s. It shows my age—how I’d been so young and inexperienced.

Not that I care what he thinks.

“It’s nice,” he continues. “Quiet too. I can see why you liked it.”

“We did some of our best thinking out here.” Thinking that was more along the lines of Rose smoking joints, while I stood by to keep watch.

“Hmm.” He nods, kicks the toe of his foot into the dirt. “I’m gonna go to that party on Saturday,” he tells me out of the blue.

I frown. “You think that’s smart after beating up Adam like you did?”

“Yup.”

“Why?”

“Because Adam’s gonna be there.” He looks away, but I don’t miss the flex of his jaw—not even in the dark. “I don’t trust the guy.”

I turn him around by the shoulders, forcing him to stand in front of me. “What’s there not to trust, exactly?”

“Lots of things.”

“Like what?”

“I’ve got facts that need exploring.” His lips purse.

“Yeah.” I roll my eyes. “Because you’re suddenly a detective now. I forgot.”

Adam wouldn’t hurt a puppy, let alone be behind Rose’s death. He used to talk big, but his love for my best friend was endless. Without a doubt, I know that’s who her secret boyfriend was. I just don’t get why they never went public.

“I’m more of a private eye, actually.” He covers one eye and curls the corner of his upper lip, making an argh noise.

“That’s a pirate, not a private eye, dork.”

“Either way, they’re both sneaky, right?”

I sigh, wondering if he’s always been this weird. Cocky, a smartass, and a huge instigator—that’s Ben. Not funny.


Author Bio:

Heather Van Fleet is a stay-at-home-mom turned book boyfriend connoisseur. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, a mom to three girls, and in her spare time you can find her with her head buried in her Kindle, guzzling down copious amounts of coffee.

Heather graduated from Black Hawk College in 2003 and currently writes Adult contemporary romance. She is published through Sourcebooks Casablanca with her Reckless Hearts series and Bookouture with her Red Dragon series.

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Spirits of Savannah Book #1

Paranormal/Romantic Suspense

Date Published: 01-28-2022



Sophie seems to have it all, a thriving career at the MET, a handsome soon-to-be fiancé, and an eccentric father who is the toast of the academic world. Yet, fate has other plans for her. After the death of her father, she starts to see visions of a beautiful woman who claims that Sophie needs to return home and take care of some unfinished business.

But where is home? And what business? Unexpectedly, she receives a strange invitation from a mysterious organization in Savannah, Georgia. Determined to find out more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s death and her sudden ability to see the dead, she accepts.

Welcome to Savannah, Georgia, a city so beautiful that it was spared from the wrath of Union General William T. Sherman. In this city filled with the spirits of the dead, arching live oaks draped in picturesque Spanish moss, luxurious looming mansions, and men who have impeccable manners and voices as smooth as butter Sophie is an outsider. Yet, she begins to discover that maybe the answers that she has been searching for are closer than she expected… Step into the haunting yet beautiful world of Sophie and Savannah where the dead walk among the living and every nook and cranny has a mystery that demands to be solved.


About the Author

Kira Saito is the author of the Arelia LaRue Series and The Girl on Prytania Street. She loves writing twisty books with soul, suspense, and magic.


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Children's Picture Book

Date Published: 02-01-2022


The Sherlock Rabbit, Snowball, is on the. case. He grabbed his Sherlock hat and cape and plans to search for the missing rabbit fur. How dare someone clip his fellow rabbits!



About the Author

Constance Meccarello-Gerson was born in Poughkeepsie N.Y. She is a graduate of Florida Southern College with a BA in Acting. She also attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. HB Studio, Actors Studio, in NYC. She is a member of SAG, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Si Omega. Her MFA in Acting is from Brooklyn College. She has appeared on TV, film, and on stage in NYC. For 20 years she taught as a mentor and teacher of English and Theatre Arts for the New York City Department of Education and for the University at Santa Cruz. She also taught for ten years as a Speech Coordinator at Touro College. She was an executive at Bloomingdales. Her writing as appeared in Musings, also in the Best American Poets series. Currently she lives in NYC with her husband Alain, a parrot named Benji, and lots of fish. She has three books in the Hassle High Mystery series. This is her first Sherlock Rabbit children’s book.

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Blood and Fire
Alpha and Omega
Book One
Kim Mullican

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher:  Syn Publishing
Date of Publication: 01/17/2022
ISBN: 978-1-942632-39-9
ASIN:  B09NN4GLTZ
Number of pages: 160
Word Count: 62k
Cover Artist: Get Covers

Book Description: 

I am Maia Delacroix and I hunt people and relics. My life does not lack excitement or danger. I have it in spades.

Then the Mageri surprised me with an orphan...yes, an orphan. I can’t even keep a house plant alive, let alone a kid. It turns out that I’m her only living relative, and even though we’ve never met, I’m her only hope. Great. Can I feed her after midnight? What does she eat? I have no idea what I’m doing.

They tell me this little witchling will need care for a few years until she comes of age. The bizarre fire leaking out of Elaina’s hands is a pretty good indicator that she is no witch.

Then the coven comes—they want her back. Necromancers show up, turning my vampire friends into enemies. If that isn’t bad enough, I have a demon problem now too. 

Join me, and see if we can make it out alive!


Excerpt:

She leaned into me and sobbed.

I didn’t know her but damn if I didn’t suddenly feel responsible for her. How in the hell had that happened? Because I lost my mother too? Because this poor kid had big blue eyes and pleaded for me to help her? Damned if I knew.

She wiped her face on her shirt. “We should probably get some groceries.”

And we did. While she did buy some junk food, I was a little surprised at how much healthy stuff she put in the cart. She even claimed she knew what to do with it.

When she grabbed a box of Earl Grey tea, I laughed. “You liar!”

She looked slightly embarrassed. “My mom drinks it,” she looked down at the box, “she drank it.”

I snatched it out of her hand and threw it in the cart. “If nothing else, we’ll brew it just to sniff.”

She blinked back tears before grabbing a bag of coffee. “Sounds good.”

The bill at checkout nearly gave me hives. Did teenagers eat this much every week? The paperwork the attorney left did show a nice monthly allowance for necessities, but if the grocery bill was this much each week, I’m not sure how much would be left.

I tried to hide the shock from Elaina. My poker face must not be as good as I thought, however.

“Don’t worry, we had to get a lot of staple items this week. We won’t need this much each time.”

Smiling, I started piling bags in my truck. “You noticed my mini-stroke?”

She laughed. “I’ve never seen a mage turn white like that. It was like a vampire had sucked you dry.”

After returning home, she helped me put all the groceries away then volunteered to start making dinner. I poured a glass of wine and leaned against the counter, watching her. Something was niggling at the back of my head.

“I wanted to ask you about that awesome fireball you made earlier.”

I noticed the pause in her movements before she went back to work. That spoke volumes.

“Cool, huh,” she said, keeping her back to me.

“What kind of magic is that?” I asked. “I’ve never seen a witch make a fireball.” I studied her movements while she worked. Her hands started to shake a little. The topic made her nervous. Interesting.

Her shoulders rose and fell as she took a deep breath. “As it turns out, I’m not a witch. I turned twelve and mom put me through all of the usual tests. Nothing.” She shook spices on the meat in the pan.

“Wow, that must have sucked.” I was trying to stay on her level to keep her comfortable.

“Not really. She didn’t make a big deal out of it. I helped her with her projects, learned about ingredients, spells, and relics. Last year, I felt something.”

She turned and looked at me. “I don’t know how to explain it. It was like a switch flipped and I could feel something here,” she said pointing just below her sternum.

“Warm and kind of moving?” I asked.

She nodded. “Exactly, except sometimes it feels icy too.”

Warm and cold? Was this kid defective?

“Anyway, I told my mom. We were close and she was just, awesome. I always knew I could tell her anything. She said it was excellent. So, we went into the woods and tried several things.

Nothing I tried worked. Then she said to do what felt naturally. That’s when I cupped my hands and made a tiny light ball. It was the size of a marble.”

This made no sense. It didn’t sound like any magic I knew.

About the Author:

Kim Mullican is a cross-genre author with over 20 novels under her belt. She enjoys the farm life in Northwest Indiana with her husband. Between chasing chickens and herding cats, she and her husband enjoy gardening and old episodes of Top Chef.

Website: https://kimmullican.com/

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Children's Fiction

Date Published: July 29, 2021


Will Zoey become lunch?What happens when a Zebra meets a Lion? Does the Zebra run? Does the Lion win? Find out what the future holds when this unusual pair meet for the very first time.This book will help your child realize we are better together... Our differences make us stronger!



About the Author

Jennifer lives every day with all things that sparkle. She is a girl Mom of two angels, Zoey and Lexi, and has been married to her hot firefighter husband, Daniel, since 2007. The Team Daly four-pack resides in the Dallas, Texas area with their hairy, 90 lb. German shepherd, Duke, who thinks he is a lap dog. Jennifer is a master level Certified Life Coach with an MBA, and founder of Cheering On Moms where she utilizes her background to encourage Moms to pursue their dreams. Jennifer knows she must walk the talk, so she stretches herself through pageantry and is the current 2021 Mrs. Diamond Universe, 2021 Mrs. Collin County, and held the title of 2018 Mrs. North Texas. Cheering from middle school through the professional level, Jennifer knows God has called her to keep cheering and specifically encouraging those in their faith! You can find her at CheeringOnMoms.com and @Cheer.Daly everywhere else.

Hailey Nelson is an artist and illustrator. She is the owner of Wild North Illustrated, LLC, an illustration and fine art company. Her illustrations and designs are inspired by nature and focused on providing beautiful artwork to authors, readers, and art lovers around the world. Hailey is a married mother of three boys living in western Wisconsin, where she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family. You can find Hailey at wildnorthillustrated.com. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.


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