Monday, August 31, 2015

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Dr. Gabrielle Francis, co-author of 'The Rockstar Remedy'

Dr. Gabrielle Francis has been practicing natural medicine for more than thirty years.
She is a Naturopathic Doctor, Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, and Licensed Massage therapist. Dr. Francis currently practices in New York City as The Herban Alchemist.  She also operates Backstage Alternative, which is her natural medicine road show that provides chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, nutrition and herbal remedies to performing artists on tour. 

Dr. Francis received her formal medical training at National College of Chiropractic and at Bastyr University. She has extensive training in Alternative Cancer Therapies, Environmental Medicine, Functional Medicine, Mind-Body medicine, and Bio-Identical Hormone therapies. Following her formal medical education, Dr. Francis travelled extensively to various parts of the world studying medicine with indigenous healers in countries such as China, India, Thailand, Bali, Brazil, Morocco, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, Belize, Mexico, Egypt, and Mali. 
Stacy Baker Masand is a health, fitness and lifestyle editor whose work has appeared in magazines such as In StyleMarie ClaireSelfShapeFitnessDuJour and Women's Health. She's co-author of New York Times bestseller Your Best Body Now. Stacy is currently developing projects for both small and big screen.
Their latest book is the health/wellness/rocknroll book, The Rocstar Remedy.
For More Information
About the Book:

Title: The Rockstar Remedy
Author: Dr. Gabrielle Francis with Stacy Baker Masand
Publisher: HarperCollins Wave
Pages: 330
Genre: Health and Wellness/Rock n Roll
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook

Known as the “Rock n’ Roll Doctor” to some of the most famous bands in the world, Dr. Gabrielle Francis shares her unique holistic prescription to achieving health and balance—even when you don’t live like a saint!

As a Holistic Doctor to the music industry’s elite, Dr. Francis has helped rock stars repair, recover, and refuel from the demanding schedules and occasional overindulgences that come along with the rock star lifestyle. Being overscheduled, sleep-deprived, overeating, drinking and managing physical and mental stressors aren’t lifestyle habits unique to the music industry; they are the same challenges faced by all of us, every day. 

In The Rockstar Remedy, Dr. Francis shares her unique strategies designed to be incorporated into your hectic lifestyle. Her programs are customized to meet you where you are at, whether an experienced health enthusiast or a beginner. Completing the 21 day detox will give you a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm for life, while looking and feeling your personal best. She explains how health is not a destination, but exists on a spectrum, and the simple act of making better choices every day—even if they’re not the best choices—helps us achieve balance in both mind and body. With tips for improving energy levels, easy food guidelines and a simple no-starvation detox, Dr. Francis offers a simple, effective plan for staying healthy and happy amid the chaos of our daily lives. Her popular “Harm Reduction Techniques” and “90/10 Rule” make it easy to celebrate life with occasional indulgences while maintaining good health. This is not a temporary fix; this program brings long-lasting, life-changing results. 

Now you can reach for the stars too!

For More Information

Thanks for joining us at the book club, Dr. Francis!  Can I call you Dr. G?

Dr. G:  Thank you for inviting me!  I am thrilled.  And yes, please call me Dr. G.  That’s my DJ name.  Hee hee!

I am so enthralled with your book, The Rockstar Remedy!  How did you get known as the Rock ‘n Roll doctor?

Dr. G:  Well, I am honored that you are reading it and that you like it.  I have been told that it is the first time that people have read a health book that is a page turner! 
 I started working in the music business when I was 19.  At that time, I was working backstage as the massage therapist for all the different bands that came to town.  I worked my way through Chiropractic school, Naturopathic Medical school, and Acupuncture school as a massage therapist and then as a holistic doctor.  Each profession built on the previous one.  I stayed in the music business and the bands would always call me when they were in town.   Once I graduated from Medical school, I started to go out on full tours with the bands.  That is when I became the Rock n Roll doctor.  I would tour for several months with a group offering massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine to the artists and the entire entourage.  Then I would get picked up by another group and tour with them for several months and it just went from there. 
I guess the famous people liked the idea that I was a one stop shop and they could get all the modalities in one person.   I was also very popular with musicians because I did not judge the extreme indulgences that come with being a touring Rockstar.  I just worked around it and designed some “harm reduction strategies” to make the naughty things a little nicer.  These little tricks are shared in The Rockstar Remedy.

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

Dr. G:  My first practice of incorporating all of my healing modalities together was on tour with Rockstars.  I then moved on to a traditional practice in San Francisco and now New York.  I began to realize that most of patients were actually living like Rockstars.  They had extreme lifestyles, overly booked schedules, little time to eat healthy, travelling for work, and self medicating for the stressors with food, alcohol, and other addictive pleasures.   Yet, they wanted to feel better and be healthy.  Traditional health approaches are very judgemental and unreallistic and most people aren’t able to follow them for more than a month or two. 
I had the idea that I wanted to take the message of health to people in a very fun and non-judgmental way.  I wanted to address the realities of lifestyles and socializing and show people that just like Rockstars on tour, they could improve the quality of their health in the context of their life the way it was. 
I also wanted to take the message of health to an audience that would typically not be interested in health because they found it boring or simply unattainable.  In other words, I wanted to get more people to join the church, not just preach to the choir.  And since Rockstars are archetypal heros and heroines to so many people, I thought that they would be great ambassadors for this health revolution! 

What kind of rock ‘n roll stars have you had the pleasure to meet?

Dr. G:  I have worked with Starving Artists that were on their first tour to huge household name artists on tours that grossed mega millions.  I have worked with artists in Rock, Punk, Heavy Metal, Jam Bands, Country, Alternative, Grunge and the list goes on.  Some artists are easy going and others are extreme Divas and everything in between.  If I could drop names, then I would be able to retire early.  But that won’t happen.  So I leave the names out of the stories and up to the imagination of the readers!

What kind of a lifestyle do they normally lead for those who aren’t familiar? 

Dr. G:  Rockstars lead lives that operate on a pendulum.  There is the tour life and then there is the off tour life.  The tour life is not that different than that of a business traveler or a working mom for that matter.   They go all day, move all the time, perform, party, try to sleep, and then get up to do it all over again. 
Most of the artists that I have toured with are trying to lead healthier lives as they have already done the sex and drugs things.  So now the tours are with organic foods, the nanny’s have replaced the groupies, the wives and kids are there for part of the tour.  They may even be doing yoga, meditating, or on another spiritual path.  For the most part, the Rockstars I have worked with are from all genres of Rock and they are truly conscious, spiritual, and creative ambassadors.

Can you dig inside your book and give us an excerpt?

Dr. G:
The Rude Awakening

I remember sitting in Naturopathic school with other students and hearing them talk about how their future practices would be.  They would say things such as:  If my patients eat at Mc Donald’s I won’t work with them.   I can only work with people who are open to raw food and vegetarianism.  Coffee is the root of all things evil and my patients will not drink it.
It led me to wonder how these people were going to pay off their student loan bills.  Who would be their patients?  It hadn’t crossed my mind that my first practice would be touring with Rock Bands and I would have this dilemma too.

When I graduated from 17 years of medical school, I was so burned out from working full time and going to school that I was not even sure I wanted to be a doctor anymore.   This seemed like a good time to take a few months sabbatical and do the travelling I had always wanted to do.  I was having an identity crisis and felt a break from medicine would cure it.

So I sold my possessions, closed my chiropractic practice, and drove my books and clothes back to Cleveland to keep in storage for who knows how long.   I headed to Europe with a backpack and no hotel reservation.    For the next 8 months, I backpacked through Europe seeing sights, making pilgrimages along the way, sipping coffee in cafes, and taking in the culture.   I missed medicine and realized that I truly did want to be a doctor.  

Several months into it, one of the bands I had worked with previously, got wind I was in Europe.   How would I like to get paid to travel?  They wanted someone to go on tour and do some natural medicine for them.   What a day it was to take a taxi from the youth hostel in Paris where I was sharing a room with 6 people to the very swanky Paris hotel where I would meet the group.  The taxi driver questioned my appearance and destination.   I arrived at the fancy hotel looking like one of the Beverly Hill Billy’s. wiping the dust off myself.  The band gave me money to buy some hipper clothes.  They could not bear to see the hiking boots and backpack.   The next few months it was 5 star hotels, tour buses and planes instead of trains, and lots of great parties.

I had my massage tables sent to Europe along with a natural medicine pharmacy of herbs and vitamins and acupuncture needles.   I was so excited to be able to incorporate all of the modalities for healing together for the first time since I graduated.  This would be my first practice.
 I was in for a Rude Awakening!

My visions of the ultimate natural medicine practice were quickly dissolved.  After Paris the band headed to Amsterdam.  Need I say more? I quickly realized that this band was just as committed to revelry and debauchery as they were to their health.   The preventive medicine I knew turned into harm reduction for hangovers and Sexually Transmitted Disease.  What to do?  This is not the kind of natural medicine practice I had wanted.  Eventually I relaxed into it.  I put my judgments aside and learned to use my medicines any chance I could.   As a doctor, I needed to learn this.   I learned to meet people where they are and make small changes where I could.   I learned it is possible to be healthy and have a lot of fun too!

You can’t always get what you want…
But you get what you need.”

-The Rolling Stones

What has been the responses from people who have read your book?

Dr. G:  My patients, family, and friends tell me that the book is great and very easy to read.  They love the layout of information and say that they pick it up as a reference and read small sections at a time for soundbytes of information.  I have heard quite a few times that it was the first health book they read that was a page turner!   I think that my stories and the artist quotes and stories make this the most engaging health book on the planet!

What’s next for you, Dr. G?

Dr. G: Well, I have been doing massive amounts of press for this book.  But the second book is in the ethers waiting to be downloaded. 
I am a world traveler.  When I travel, I find the healers and the healing systems in the country that I am in and I try to learn the holistic medicine traditions of the region.  So my next book will be my travel medicine stories.  Lets say Eat, Pray, Love meets Anthony Bourdain with an alternative medicine theme!

Evolved by Aubrey Coletti

Title: Evolved
Author: Aubrey Coletti
Publisher: Escape Artist Press
Genre: YA/Scifi/Thriller
The boarders of J. Alter High have fought their school, sabotaged their school, and attempted to destroy their school. Yet the powerful Academy and its enigmatic Headmistress have remained always one step ahead of them. Now they must decide whether or not to work with the school, to unlock the abilities that brought them there — a decision that could tear them all apart. But choose they must, before they are out of moves, out of options . . . and out of time.

For More Information

  • Evolved is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Circle Dance by Lynn & Valerie Constantine

Title: Circle Dance
Author: Lynne Constantine & Valerie Constantine
Publisher: Bookbaby
Pages: 261
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Audible/Nook

Young, smart and beautiful with everything figured out – or so they thought. Born into a prosperous Greek American family, sisters Nicole and Theodora have achieved the perfect balance between the old world rich in Greek tradition and the freedom of life in America.

Nicole’s world spins out of control when she falls for a married senator who shares her heritage and her dreams. The decisions she makes will affect the happiness of those closest to her and will define the woman she is to become.

As Theodora struggles to succeed at her marriage, she seeks the wisdom and council of her beloved Greek grandmother who has been happily married for over half a century. Ultimately she must come to terms with the reality of her own life and take responsibility for the role she has played in deceiving herself.

As the dramatic plot unfolds, the two young women must confront deceit and betrayal and their own shortcomings—while they struggle to preserve the values they cherish.

Set in Baltimore, Annapolis and the tiny island of Ikaria, Greece, Circle Dance provides a view into the lives of a dynamic family that has successfully achieved the American dream without abandoning the customs and traditions handed down through their Greek heritage.

For More Information

Book Excerpt:

A black casket, shiny and ornate, sat upon the altar, and pallbearers in dark suits quietly led the mourners to their seats as the church continued to fill.  The chanter’s hypnotic singing droned on.  It was a muggy one hundred and five degrees, but inside the dark sanctuary, cut off and remote from the outside world, it was cool and still.  The air in the Annunciation Cathedral was heavily mingled with the sweet scent of carnations and the burning sting of incense.  Rays of sunlight, muted by tall stained glass windows, cast uneven shadows on the walls of the church.  From the huge pipe organ flowed the somber strains of a Byzantine lament.
            "Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.”  In automatic response, Sophia Zaharis, seated in the front pew, crossed herself.  He was too young, she thought sadly, her eyes never leaving the coffin.  An accident, they said—unexpected, tragic.  She reflected on another funeral, which had taken place more than sixty years ago on the small island of Ikaria in Greece where she grew up.  She could still see the smiling face of her father as he held her little brother’s hand and waved to them from the fishing boat.  She unconsciously reached into the small pocket on the inside of her purse and fingered the frayed and worn photograph.  Her father had been just thirty-six years old; her brother, with dark curls spilling over his collar and smiling eyes, a mere seven.  And then the accident.  She shuddered, flooded with feelings of grief and pain that were undiminished with time.  It was a blow from which her mother never recovered and Sophia understood that she, too, was affected by the double loss in ways more profound than she knew.  She had married Andreas and left Greece a few short years later to come to America.  Perhaps that was the hardest thing of all—to leave her mother an ocean away, alone and mourning.  There is something wrong in the order of nature when a parent buries a child, even if that child is an adult, she thought, lifting her eyes to the casket once again. 
            Andreas, as if reading her mind, put his arm around her shoulder, holding her close to his side, and she felt a warm suffusion of gratitude move through her body.  She was thankful for this kind, strong man who had never let her down, whose love she trusted implicitly.  They had begun a new life in America and the years had been good to them, long years filled with memorable times and children of their own.  Today, however, they were paying their last respects to a man whose life was cut short.  He would miss so much.  She thought about all the family milestones and celebrations still to come.  If it were up to her, no sorrow would ever touch her children, but no matter how hard she tried to protect them, in the end, all she could do was be there to comfort them, just as her mother had been there for her.
            The Greek Orthodox priest appeared from behind the lattice-carved wooden screen dressed in his vestments, and, carrying a large gold-encrusted Bible, turned to face the congregation. She still couldn't believe he was dead.  So much had happened in one short year.  She closed her eyes and thought back to that perfect last summer in Ikaria.

Grey Daze by Michael Allan Scott

Title: Grey Daze (A Lance Underphal Mystery)
Author: Michael Allan Scott
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 306
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural/Paranormal
Format: Paperback/Kindle

GREY DAZE descends.  A fresh murder spins out of control, twisting into new realms of paranormal mystery.

Not for the faint of heart, the third in the Lance Underphal Mystery series, is an interplay of corrupt characters immersed in today’s world. Paranormal twists and fast action in movie-like scenes set the story’s mystery/thriller elements apart from the typical whodunit/serial-killer thriller.

Guided by his dead wife, a reluctant psychic finds himself on a wild ride through a criminal underworld, slamming face first into corrupt police, gunrunning bikers, and a drug addicted killer–not to mention confrontations with the dead.

Layers of plots within plots twist this new thriller into a startling climax.

For More Information

Please Note: this book “R” rated and is intended for adult readers.

Book Excerpt:

Nerves jangling like downed power lines on a storm-soaked street, she turns off the cracked pavement into the rain-slick drive. As she chews her bottom lip, the new Ford Edge glides under the ancient leafless elm at the curb, its gnarled trunk overgrown with ivy fluttering in a gusty wind. Her mind races, fearful of all the things that could go wrong, trying to anticipate every move, grasping at the big score and how it will all be worth it.
            Tires roll up the narrow drive, gently thumping on fractured concrete. They’ve never gone this far before. And that asshole Denny crapped out at the last minute, forcing her to take care of business. As she parks on the side of the dumpy little house, a sneer twists her full lips. She’s not sure why this time would be any different, he always makes her do the dirty work—always there to grab the lion’s share of the score. Him and Moon. Worthless assholes.
            The wipers stop as she shuts off the ignition. She stares through the drizzle streaking the windshield, screwing up her courage, telling herself there’s no way she’ll get caught, the plan is perfect. They’ve been working at it for months, getting everything set up. Now it’s time. Only one thing left to do and they’ll be home free. If only she could get her hands to stop shaking.
            Elbowing the door, she squirms thick hips out of the seat, the new-car smell fading as she climbs out into the cold. She scurries across the drive and up the crumbling concrete steps, thumbing the remote to lock the Edge with a flash and a chirp. Twisting the key, she opens the weather-beaten back door, stepping in out of the swirling rain and into Hell for the last time.
            Dark and close, it hits her like a blast of sewer gas, though she should be used to it by now. Dim in the grey light, the foul reek of decay and excrement is stifling, crinkling her nose. She fumbles with her keys, finally managing to twist the backdoor key off her key ring as she heads for the kitchen sink. Grabbing a dishrag, she wipes down the key. Careful to hold it with the dishrag, she drops it into the disposer. She digs a pair of latex gloves out of her purse, working them on over sweaty fingers, then hits the switch. The disposer jumps, coughing and clattering as she adds water, mangling the key. She knows, one way or another, she’ll never be back.
            She cringes as all the disgusting things she’s had to do twist up in her head. Dirty little thoughts that won’t leave her alone, like the vicious sting from one of her grandfather’s beatings. She’d show that old asshole, if only he could see her now. Stupid little man. But first she has to get through this.
            She turns off the disposer and stumps into the dingy little living room as roaches scuttle for cover. Crossing to the old sofa, she sits gingerly as the ancient vinyl crackles beneath her broad rump. She contemplates the next few minutes, fanning the flames, feeding the beast. The puto has it coming. Fixing his meals, cleaning up his messes, listening to his constant babbling, going on about how smart he is and how she needs to listen, insinuating she’s stupid. Treating her like his slave. The things she did—unspeakable. Her stomach clenches as flickerings fire her mind. Bathing his vile flesh by hand, hairy and wrinkled—disgusting. The horrid stench of excrement on desiccated haunches. The pasty feel of his flaccid penis, even through the gloves . . . watching him writhe as he came, oozing sticky yellowed sperm. She shudders as shivers run down her spine. She’ll show him how stupid she is. She smiles wickedly as her eyes narrow. He still has no idea. Never saw it coming. And now, it’s too late. Muy estupido.     
             Fury firing her blood, she pushes off the couch and tromps out of the room, the ancient crusted carpet crunching under her biker boots. Clumping through the short hall and into the back bedroom, she slows, walking quietly as if she’d wake him. What am I doin’? She shakes her head. He’s not waking up any time soon, she made sure of that—he fainted dead away when she tripled his heart meds. It’s been nearly twenty-four hours. Blood levels should be back to near normal, well within limits for any toxicology reports.
            Her broad nose crinkles with disgust, her lips curling into a snarl at the mere sight of him. She’s always hated old men. And with good reason—look at him. Lying there under that ratty old bedspread, too cheap to buy a decent blanket. All that money rat-holed away, rotting like his ancient carcass. His limbs like sticks, tacked onto a distended belly. His eyes pinched shut at the bottoms of deep hollows. His sunken mouth a ragged hole, white spittle crusting thin cracked lips. His head a shrunken skull, wrapped in papery skin stretched tight, dotted with patches of wispy white hair. If it wasn’t for his phlegmy breaths, he could already pass for a corpse.
            She crosses quickly to the bed, gritting her teeth, holding her breath. Jerking the stained pillow out from under his head, she flips it up into both hands, leans over and presses down hard, mashing it on his face. A slight tremor runs through his withered limbs. Cadaverous claws scrabble at her hands, her wrists, her arms. She gasps, horrified, turning her head, pressing down harder. A muffled wail seeps out from behind the pillow—inhuman. She moans as tears leak from her squinted eyes. She can’t take anymore. And just when she starts to lift, he goes limp, his heaving chest stills. She feels what little life he had left rush past her—a final huff of foul breath and he’s dead.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pump Up Your Book Chats with Daniel R. Mathews, author of The Demons of Plainville

Thanks for joining us at the book club Daniel.  Can we begin by having you tell us how you got into writing?

I had started something of a writing career around age twelve when I began writing my own little newspaper and selling it to my classmates and teachers. That little endeavor ended a bit traumatically, so it would be awhile before I did anything outside required academic essay writing.  In my adult life, I had begun writing some roleplay adventures and scripts for friends, who began encouraging me to turn those scripts into actual novels. It would be some years before I began taking those calls seriously. Ultimately though, it was the encouragement of my Grandfather who fervently believed that I was “meant to be” a writer. Not long after his passing, I decided to honor that belief and began working on several projects. The first of these projects is my memoir, The Demons of Plainville.

Where is your book set and why did you choose that location?

Since The Demons of Plainville covers my childhood between the ages of ten and twenty, the setting occurs across several locations. Though, most of the events described occur in Dorchester and Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, in some sense I grouped all these locations under the banner of Plainville. You can think of it as much of a state of mind, as a specific geographic location. There is always a war in Plainville, but those battles are occurring in your mind. And wherever you are, you’re still trapped in Plainville until you find a way to escape.

I’d like to know more about your story.  Can you give us a little more in depth reason for writing The Demons of Plainville?

I think nearly every author feels compelled to tell some story that is locked in his or her mind. I’ve heard that characters created in the mind of an author call out for their release, for their stories to be told. However, in The Demons of Plainville, in some strange sense I was that character, trapped within my own head. For all my life, I’ve questioned my own identity and purpose.  I seemed a strange character, trapped inside the head of an author, longing for freedom and for his story to be told. At some point, I released myself and finally summoned the courage to tell the story.

Beyond that though, I wanted to let others who are suffering similar situations that life can and does get better and that adolescents have the right to fight for themselves and find happiness. You don’t have to suffer in silence, and you don’t have to be alone. You have the right to be who you are, and to live life in safety and happiness. However, this is not a struggle you can win on your own. Only the power of friendship and mentorship can make the difference to a troubled child or an adult struggling to find their place after years of abuse and hardship.

They say all non-fiction books have pivotal points in the book where the reader just can’t put the book down.  What’s one pivotal point in The Demons of Plainville?

That’s a tough question since the events that I perceived to make the biggest difference in my life may differ from that a neutral reader approaching the material for the first time. That being said, I think the first major pivotal point is when my father comes into my life, presumably to save me from my mother.  However, the reader soon discovers a more nefarious motive behind my father’s appearance, leading to a great deal of tension.  How is the situation going to unfold and how am I going to escape yet another emotional betrayal? I hope these questions will compel the reader to continue forward.

What’s next on the agenda for you, Daniel?

My debut LGBT young-adult Lovecraftian horror novel The Unseen Kingdom is currently in post-production and should be available for purchase in early September. The Unseen Kingdom pits a close-knit group of New England teen boys against a widening dimensional portal that begins in their dreams but becomes terrifyingly real. The boys are forced to fight for their sanity, their lives and the fate of their town as Halloween night approaches.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans?

I would like first and foremost give you a heartfelt thanks for giving me a chance to entertain and inspire you. An author has no purpose to exist without an audience willing to hear the tale, so thanks for being there for me. And I sincerely hope that if you take anything away from The Demons of Plainville, or anything else that I publish in the future, that you will give your support, your friendship and to your love to troubled and endangered kids. Let them know that there is a future for them, and then help them find it. 

About The Book

Title: The Demons of Plainville: A Survivor's Story of Storms and Reconstruction
Author: Daniel R. Mathews
Publisher: Lost Legacy Press
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Format: Paperback - 292 pages / eBook  / PDF
ISBN: 978-0990710745
Genre: Autobiography / Memoir / LGBT / Non Fiction

Buy The Book:


Barnes & Noble:


Book Description:

Some true stories read like fiction, but for those who have to personally live through the experiences, the nightmare is vividly real. Daniel R. Mathews digs into the darkness of his past with his haunting memoir, The Demons of Plainville.

As a child, Daniel struggles to find his footing in an upside-down world. His mother is mentally ill and addicted to drugs; she performs black masses to summon demons, is physically abusive, and plays brutal mind games that make him doubt his sanity and despair of ever making sense of life or himself. Even his father beats Daniel after “rescuing” him from his mother. Thanks to a few unexpected friends, Daniel survives his devastating youth and emerges stronger for it.

But Daniel’s battles aren’t over. Finally free of his abusive parents, he now must face himself and wrestle with his sexual identity in a community that sees nothing wrong with homophobia.

Candid and compelling, this is a triumphant tale of a young man who walked through the darkness, bravely faced his demons, and against all odds carried the faint light of hope with him every step of the way.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1: Telling The Truth

Accusations. This is how it always begins. S Screaming follows when my answers prove inadequate. Then come the threats, and finally the misery of surrender.

I was about eight at the time, living in a small red brick apartment building
in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Our apartment was on the basement floor, so
there was not a good view outside, only a few small quarter windows allowing
in some daylight. The building stood on a grassy hill that overlooked Myles
Standish State Forest. Some days I would just curl up on the sun-warmed
grass, staring down into the forest below me and imagining that I was a bird
darting between the trees.

My anger grew as we went through the same cycle day after day. I stood
in our tiny living room facing the yellow sofa with my mother giving me that
disdainful stare that made me feel ashamed. I’d look towards the light tan
carpet, afraid to make eye contact with her. The details of the accusation did
not matter, as I seldom had any idea what she was talking about. Whether
there was a quarter missing from her bureau or the bathroom light being left
on at night, there was no end to the possibilities of accusations. Each day the
school bus dropped me off at the bottom of the hill, I paused at the bus-stop
to gather whatever courage I could muster. I knew that a new accusation

would be awaiting me, starting the cycle anew.

“Stand up straight when I’m talking to you!” She barks at me. “And stop looking
down at your feet. Where is it, what did you do with it?” she screams, finger
pointed towards me.

“I don’t know,” I say defensively, shrugging my shoulders.

“You little fucking liar,” she says, standing up from the couch and slapping my
face. “Now get in your room!”

I would rush into my small room in our apartment, slamming the white door
shut before ripping clumps of my own short blond hair out. I hid the hair
under my giant stuffed bear, which stood up to my waist in height. The bear
was a gift from my maternal grandparents, ever standing ready to accept my
love. I clung to the bear; its soft white and gray fur brought me comfort during
times of sadness or anger.

My mother grew suspicious of the growing bald spot on the top of my
head and one afternoon decided to tear the room apart. Eventually, she found
the tangled lump of blond hair hidden under the bear and challenged me for
answers, answers I did not have. I could not explain the anger inside me, at
least not an explanation I dared speak in front of her. I had begun craving
independence and the seeds of rebellion sprouted forth. She pushed me at
every opportunity, accused and cursed me for anything ranging from theft to
family misfortune. I just did not understand.

My only outlet was to punish myself through self-inflicted pain, just to
release the frustration. My mother took an attitude of open hostility against
me, one that persisted throughout my childhood.

“I’m going to send you to a mental institution!” she screamed at me, her long
dirty blond hair swinging between her shoulder blades as she frantically shook
her head. She wiped the sweat from her flushed brow then paused for a moment
and looked down at me with great disgust waving the fist full of my hair
she found at me. I clung to my stuffed bear, looking up at her.

“If you do not learn to behave, I’m going to send you to a reform school
for boys.” She had hesitated for just a moment longer before her voice shifted
into a menacing tone. “They just love cute little white boys at the reform
school. They will take care of you real good.” Turning her back on me, she
stormed out of the room, leaving me weeping into my bear’s fur while I continued
to hug it with all my strength.

I’d heard of reform school before I was in second grade. However, I was
left pondering the nature of how they would take care of me. Strange feelings
overtook me. At first, heat surged through my body, then excitement.
My heart began to beat faster, and for the first time that day I smiled. The
words take care of you echoed in my mind over and over. Other boys at this reform
school were going to take care of me. My mind reinterpreted her hidden
threat; other boys were going to be touching me. I did not understand what
this might mean, but I wanted desperately to find out. These strange longings
would grow and expand in time. The seed long within me had sprouted. Yet,
it did not grow for a while.

We eventually moved from the basement apartment to my grandparents’
house in the same town. The small ranch style house was nestled in small
groves of pine and oak trees. There were numerous cranberry bogs in the
area and a large waterfront district a few miles east of the house. Small single
engine airplanes frequently flew overhead, taking off and landing at the local
airport just to the north.

The yard was ideal for play, with a large back yard that sloped down into
a small grove of pines and blueberry bushes. The neighbors behind the house
owned a pair of horses that I visited every day. The house had three small
bedrooms. My room was adjacent to the living room, just wide enough to fit
my bed and a small dresser. When in the house I spent most of my time looking
out the large living room bay window watching the cars and trucks drive
by. Otherwise, I sat on the back deck with my grandmother. We would try
to identify the particular birds visiting the feeder using a small field guide to
birds. I went down the stairs and tossed a ball around with my grandfather on
the lawn or helped him weed his small garden.

Because of the influence and presence of my grandparents (my mother’s
parents), my problems decreased. More often than not, my mother would
go off with her cousin Alice, leaving me behind. Alice’s arrival frequently
corresponded with noticeable changes in my mother’s behavior. Alice was
stern yet generally pleasant towards me. However, when they left together,
they would return in a giggly or light-hearted mood, which would come
crashing down a few hours later. I found the sudden mood shifts to be the
most troubling occurrence because it added uncertainty and fear to my already
besieged mind. One afternoon, though, while my grandparents were
out for the day, my mother and her cousin called me into the small bedroom
my mother was staying in at the end of the house.

Mother closes the curtains and shades, leaving just a shaft of sunlight entering the
room. She held a large red case, almost like a toolbox of some sort. She opened
the case and took out some items, including candles, a bell, incense, goblet,
matches, and a book. The book was entitled The Satanic Bible. She placed the
black and red candles around in a pattern that she refers to as a pentagram
with a circle around it. She ordered me into the imaginary circle and told me
to remain silent and not leave the center of the circle for any reason,” or else.”

She and Alice joined me in the circle while they lit a burner and then some
incense. The snaking trail of smoke climbed towards the ceiling. The ritual
was both exciting and frightening. She picked up the book and looked over at
me, smiling. She told me that she would pray to Satan and summon demons,
but the demons were not allowed to enter the circle. As long as I remained
calm, I would be protected.

She began the mass by ringing the bells; she used the book to speak words
I’d never heard before. The ringing echoed faintly in the room, combining
with the sweet smell of the incense. I felt almost dizzy, overcome by a giddy
feeling of excitement.

She proceeded to cut herself with a silver knife with an ornate looking
pearl handle, just enough to draw a steady trickle of blood from her finger, allowing
it to flow into a tarnished bronze colored chalice. Alice took the knife
and sliced her own finger, allowing drops of blood to fall into the chalice. My
mother held the chalice upwards as an offering and mumbled a few words.
After placing it back on the ground, she took a long slender writing instrument
and dipped it into the blood. The blood served as the ink, allowing her
to write on a small blank piece of white paper. I couldn’t see the writing, but
she told me it was an offering for our luck and fortune. She ripped the paper
into small pieces and set it ablaze. The mass finished with a final ringing of
the bells, driving away the demons.

I couldn’t see these creatures, but the air was laden with smoke and darkness.
I was sure the demons were there.

That afternoon was my first introduction to the “Lucifer,” originally the chosen
angel. The year was 1976 but on this otherwise bright summer afternoon,
it might have been 1692. Witchcraft was alive and well in the suburbs of

Mother and Alice repeated this scene several times during the summer,
always when my grandparents were out of the house. Since these rituals were
never performed in their presence, I always wondered what the ramifications
would be if they found out. As strange as it sounds, these were the few times I
felt emotionally close and accepted by my mother, so I was grateful for them.

As October approached, we were on the road once again. My mother,
Alice and I settled down one town over into a small cottage in the woods
of Carver. The cottage was just a ten minutes’ drive from my grandparents’
home, nestled amid lush green pines and small evergreen trees. Alice worked
for the state in Boston and money my mother received from welfare covered
the cottage’s rent. The commute from Carver to Boston was long, so Alice left
early in the morning before I got the bus and did not return home until the
sun had set. My mother spent a great deal of time sleeping during these times,
taking various prescriptions that generally left her tired and moody.

Loving the outdoors and the woods, I approved of our new home’s location.
Surrounded by miles of forest and a large lake that reflected the sunlight
in shimmering ripples of yellow, it was almost a boy’s dream come true. The
dream didn’t last long though.

I started the third grade at age nine that autumn. School became an issue
for me almost immediately. The first day I climbed into the bus, the driver
assumed I was a girl, as did the kids on the bus.

“Who are you?” the bus driver inquired, searching his list.

Before I could answer, he said, “Oh, there must be a mistake. Your name
is Danielle, right?”

I looked at him in surprise, “No, it’s Daniel!” I snapped back. The kids
in the front seat immediately giggled and pointed at me. I looked down and
began blushing.

The bus driver cleared his throat. “Well, Danielle is French for Daniel. So
climb on in, let’s go.”

This led to the unavoidable teasing and taunting one would naturally
expect from such a mistake. I could barely contain the tears of shame though
I did a reasonable job of keeping some composure for the trip to school. My
natural femininity provided a constant source of irritation throughout the
first semester, though eventually the kids forgot about it. Perhaps subconsciously,
I began to isolate myself.

Yet school was only a passing nuisance because my mother’s attitude towards
me changed quickly. She resented my growing desire for privacy and
independence. Away from the influence of my grandparents, my mother’s disposition
soured. The cycle of accusations and threats began to accelerate, taking
on a more menacing tone.

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    About The Author

An avid reader of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, Daniel R. Mathews is a novelist and nonfiction writer whose books feature LGBT youth braving danger with honor and dignity, including his personal memoir, The Demons of Plainville, and debut horror novel, The Unseen Kingdom. For the past two decades, Mathews has worked as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified ground instructor, meteorologist, and a member of the web development and Internet technical support community. He currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.   

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I, Mary by Mike Hartner

Title: I, Mary
Author: Mike Hartner
Publisher: Eternity 4 Popsickle Publishing
Pages: 266
Genre: Historical Romance

Mary Crofter's first trip on the water was just after her first birthday, when her parents came from her birthplace in Kilwa to Portsmouth. She's been on several trips from Portsmouth to London and other places since. She loves the water and the water seems to love her. Can she survive on the water? Will people ever take seriously a GIRL as a sailor? Will she ever come off the water? If she does, will the lure of the ocean draw her back?

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Book Excerpt:

I looked upon the gray waters that surrounded me.  To the west it was dark and cloudy, the wind blustering.  But as I braced myself against the gale hitting full force against my peacoat, I smiled.
It was fitting that I was here, and nothing could ever convince me otherwise.  I’d been birthed on land but it wasn’t long afterward that I was on the water—and acquiring my sea legs.  From the time I could walk, I learned to balance myself on the uneven deck. And later to climb the gnarly spars and ultimately the sayles.  My parents taught me my numbers and to read and write as well.  Numbers, well, was my best subject, and I was good at that.  But my time at sea was what I loved the most.  In truth, the only fun I remember in my childhood was when they took me on our merchant ship from our home in Portsmouth to London or to Bristol.  It wasn’t the location that I liked or the end of the journey; no, for me it was the sayling, standing on the deck, listening to the wind, watching the ocean and the clouds and . . . late at night . . . the stars.  I wanted to be on the sea forever, and I knew this from my very first time aboard ship.
I remember very well every one of those trips, because during each voyage I would close my eyes and concentrate, and it was as if I were talking to the water.  And through a combination of waves and the ship’s motion, it felt as if the sea was in turn communicating with me. 
I recall all of the journeys with my father and his good friend, Captain Jose.  The saylors on those ships were always good to me, and I came to respect all of them.  They taught me sayling while they went about their own jobs.  Even as a little kid I was taught how to tie knots.  And when I was eleven they instructed me on how to throw knives and swing a cutlass.  Soon afterward I was taught how to prime, load, and shoot a musket.  But I turned up my nose at the musket, even the smaller flintlock pistols.  To me, there was no honor in this sort of fight.  No great talent was needed to shoot somebody.  Any idiot could pull a trigger.  In my mind, it required real skill to defeat a man, or woman for that matter, with a cutlass.   And, yes, I will take up swords against a woman.  Because, you see, I am one also.
 Captain Jose had been a friend of the family since before I was born.  He’d sayled with my father, James, and my mother, Rosalind.  I heard the stories of the trip from Kilwa, where I was born, and then to Portsmouth, where we now live.  I don’t know how they originally met because I haven’t been told that yet, but Captain Jose is so close to the family that I’ve always called him Uncle Jose or Uncle for short.
 Currently, I am not quite twelve years old, thin as a rail, a little over eleven hands high, and maybe weighing four stone soaking wet.  My hair is long enough to wear tied behind so it looks like the tail on a pony, but many men wear their hair the same way, so no one would know I was a girl just by looking at me.
I was in the office of Crofter Shipping Yards one day when Uncle Jose called me to him said, “Come over here and sit down.”  He was always so nice to me that I never hesitated at any request of his, so I took a seat next to him.  He gave me a funny look, kind of sly but not really since he smiled right away.  “I’ve already talked to your parents, and both James and Rosalind agree with me.”
I looked at him and fidgeted, not having a clue what he was going to say next.
“You’ve sayled with your father and me all your life.  We brought you to Portsmouth on a carrack many years ago.  You’ve been on the caravel we sayled to Le Havre and on a special boat too, a cog—the one with just one sayle—when we sayled to London.”
I nodded at him, but I was confused.  Had I done something wrong?
“Mary, there is a caravel that will be leaving these shipping yards in a little over a week.  It's headed to the north of Scotland.  Seldom do pirates sayle these waters, so other than weather it will be relatively safe and . . .” My eyes widened.  Was I getting the right message?  Was he really doing this?  Was he really going to make my dream come true?  “If you should be interested, I can schedule you to take your sayling tests in the next few days so you can be on that caravel and start out as part of the crew on this trip.  This way, you can see if sayling is really what you want to do.”
I threw myself at Uncle Jose. “Yes, yes.  Please, yes.”
He laughed.  “Then let’s go get you some sayling clothes and set you up to crew on your very first ship.  Then I’ll introduce you to the captain.”  I jumped up from my chair but Uncle Jose pointed to me so I’d  retake my seat.  His face turned solemn, almost to a frown.  “There’s something we need to discuss, and this won’t be easy to talk about.  I brought this up this with your parents, and they told me to go ahead and tell you.”
Uncle Jose’s change of attitude was so great that I was startled.  “I don’t understand.”
“I’ve already spoken to the captain, since I assumed you’d say yes.  And he assured me that his main crew will respect you as a girl and also as a Crofter.  But there are always new men brought on board.  And even though the regular crew is honorable as far as this captain knows, they are still men of the sea.  Mary, do you understand what I’m saying to you?”
 “Your crew was always wonderful to me.”  As soon as I said this I started to think back to all the times the men had helped me.
“You were a young girl who was the daughter of the owner of the ship, and I was the captain who knew each man well.  If anyone had stepped out of line, he would have been run through or thrown overboard.  This will be different, and you must understand that you are older now, almost a woman if you aren’t already.  I don’t know how else to put it, but to say you will have to be on your guard at all times.  The captain will have a couple of his most trusted men watching over you, but even a caravel is a big enough boat that . . . well, no person can be looked after day and night.”
I hadn’t given what Uncle Jose was talking about a single thought, but I wasn’t scared.  “I’m not saying I can take down a saylor, but I know how to defend myself, and Mother has taught me how to hurt a man where it hurts the most.”
Uncle Jose let out a muffled laugh that might’ve been a groan.  “Always know who’s around you, and be aware that you’re going to constantly have to prove yourself.”
“Because I’m a girl?” I snapped, mad that I’d done so at Uncle Jose.
“Yes,” he came back just as fast, but then he smiled and showed his big teeth.  “Just be aware that nothing I have said was with the intent of trying to talk you off the boat.  I just don’t want you—”
“Uncle Jose, I’ve heard the men talk on the boats since I was first able to walk the decks.  Sometimes I’d hear things that I know I wasn’t supposed to, and as I got older many saylors didn’t even think I was not one of them, so I’m not unaware that men are going to be men at times.  I can handle myself, I promise.”
“Let us hope you don’t have to.”  He stared hard at me.  “At least with the crew.”