Friday, May 20, 2016

Weekly Roundup: May 20, 2016

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! We once again featured author commentary on our blog this week. Ronald Wendling (Unsuitable Treasure) reflected on fathers and family in a post discussing his response to Jennifer Baszile's memior The Black Girl Next Door. Then Robert Weibezahl (The Wicked and the Dead) talked about the naming of chapters in his books.

Making plans for the upcoming holiday weekend? Why not spend it with a good book? Kick off summer with one or two of OTP's own award-winning titles. Our bookstore has many compelling stand-alone mysteries and mystery series, thrillers, romances, police procedurals, westerns, memoirs, and children's bookseven some paranormal storiesmany of which have been acknowledged as prizewinners or finalists for regional and national book awards. And we've got three new releases on offer this week if you're looking to be among the first to read and review a fresh title.

Whatever your tastes, you'll find a book to love in our catalog. 

Thank you for stopping by for the roundup this week. Here as always, for your reading pleasure, we have the week's news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs, and more from our authors to share with you.

"There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write."
~Terry Pratchett

A reminder from Jeana: All OTP books are on Manic Readers!
Need help choosing a great book to read?
Check out our sample chapters on
Manic Readers!
Just click on a title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters are updated frequently, and new releases are featured. The lastest titles added include
O.I.S: Officer Involved Shooting 
Murder: A Way to Lose Weight 
A Portrait to Die For 



We're excited to announce our latest releases: A Frenzied Bid for Murder by Ellie Oberth, The Silent Journey by Michael J. Bellito, and Storm Crashers by Richard Wickliff.

In A Frenzied Bid for Murder, Venice Sinclair decides to join her friend, Tanya at an auction at Lock & Go Mini-storage. Buying the contents of abandoned lockers provides inventory for Tanya’s two antique shops in Las Vegas: the higher end, Tanya’s Treasures and the more miscellaneous Junque in the Trunk. When the auctioneer whips open the rollup door on the first unit, Venice and the other bidders catch their breath. This storage room has been set up as a shrine! Tanya wins the bid. While they inventory their haul, Venice discovers a diary in the “shrine” unit. Of course she must read it, and soon Venice is convinced the diary reveals that its author was murdered. Venice’s friends are indulgent but skeptical as Venice starts to research the matter of the death. By the time they take her seriously, so does the murderer…and he is not pleased.

Praise for the novel: "As Venice reads the contents of Brenda’s diary, curiosity leads to obsession to find out more about the young woman and her death. A compelling mystery with an unusual theme and compelling plot threads." --Marilyn Meredith, author of the Rocky Bluff P.D. series 

About the author: A Chicago resident, Ellie Oberth’s love of mysteries began at an early  age with an introduction to the works of Agatha Christie. She’s a life-long member of Sisters-In-Crime National and has served on the Board of Directors of the Chicagoland Chapter—as Secretary in 2009 and as Treasurer from 2010-2011. These days, when she’s not busy writing, she’s travelling. Ellie pops up in the most unusual places. She’s been known to scour the beach at midnight with a flashlight, looking for a place to bury the body, or tramping through the deserted woods with the same goal in mind or . . .

You can read mor about Ellie at her blog.

The Silent Journey is a memoir of one man's journey through stroke and its aftermath. Michael J. Bellito had a stroke on August 17, 2012. It paralyzed his entire right side and left him unable to talk. He was only 62 years old, ready to start his 41st year of teaching. It changed his life forever. He could either give up trying or make every day a new day.

Praise for the book: "Mike is a master at blending humor with narrative storytelling, and in no book has he done that more beautifully than in this one -- where he brings readers with him through his journey through a stroke and back. His venture into the pure nonfiction genre is a beautiful reminder of the strength of the human spirit, the will to survive and the power of friends and family to lift you up in your darkest moments. It could have been a bleak story; instead, through humor where you can almost picture him chuckling, he tells it like it was and makes you smile, too." --Erin Brooks, editor

“A Silent Journey” is written with sincere emotion from an awe inspiring viewpoint. The deep-rooted level of details provided throughout are incredibly descriptive and meaningful. This is an amazing accomplishment from a humble man." --Emil Misichko, longtime friend and neighbor of the author 

About the author: Michael J. Bellito taught speech and English, including creative writing classes, at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois, for thirty-two years. He also taught at Harper College, a local community college. His first novel was Ten Again, a story about a young boy and his adventures with his boyhood friends. His second novel was First Time Around, a coming-of-age story about a young boy falling in love for the first time.

Micheal is also the author of Abner's Story, published by Oak Tree Press. He now lives in Wheeling with his wife, Joani.

In Storm Crashers, nature's most deadly force just got more terrifying. Alexandra, a single mother, hides in her home during a category-four hurricane. She's suddenly terrorized by dark figures who enter. They are the Storm Crashers: high-tech thieves who prey on their victims during storm evacuations. They must race the clock and are fearless -- until they come across the mysterious young mother who fights back.

Dan Holms, a disparaged investigator, and a rookie female detective are disciplined for believing Alexandra's story about "mystery soldiers." The Crashers want to silence the woman who has seen them, and a new Cat-5 is on the way. Holms and the officer unravel their origin with action and twists that could inevitably impact our national security. A story inspired by real crimes, and so unique and action-packed, it was optioned by 20th Century Fox.

You can view a book trailer for the novel here.

About the author: Richard Wickloff is the author of three novels. Rich enjoys speaking about creative and unique crimes and has done so twice at the FBI’s InfraGard Counterterrorism conferences, to the U.S, Coast Guard, and on panels at seminars in Las Vegas dedicated to accuracy in crime writing. Rich’s writing borrows from the unique (scandalous, criminal, or satirical) environments of South Florida, where he resides with his family.

From the other side of his brain, Rich's art and photography have been seen in print, in Forbes Travel magazine and exhibited in Ft. Lauderdale's Broward Art Guild. He has performed stand-up comedy which explains his odd mix of suspense and laughs.

He and his family are regular visitors to any coast with sufficient hammocks and blenders. Find out more at


Amy Bennett was a guest on Red River Radio’s No Limits with Barbara Hodges on Tuesday, May 17. She’ll talked about her Black Horse Campground mystery series, which includes her latest and recently published book, At the Crossroad.

She also talks about how the local setting where she lives and her KOA camping hobby have influenced her stories and fired her imagination for writing stories. She talks about how her writing career began and how it has progressed.

You can listen to the full interview here.

In At the Crossroad, trouble often comes in threes. It's no different at the Black Horse Campground. On his first day as detective with the Bonney Police Department,     J.D. Wilder finds three cold case files on his desk—three women who disappeared over a fifteen year period. It seems no one has ever taken the cases seriously... or even properly investigated them.

Then J.D. receives news that he's about to receive a visitor; a woman from his past who is in trouble and needs his help. Again. The timing couldn't be worse, since he's finally about to ask Corrie on a date, but then Corrie also has a visitor from her past show up . . . and Sheriff Rick Sutton has his hands full dodging his ex-wife, Meghan, who insists on digging up a painful past.

When three bodies are discovered that prove the missing women were murdered, J.D.'s investigation reveals that all of their visitors have some connection to the victims. But which one of them killed three women . . . and is prepared to kill again?


Larry and Lorna Collins were also featured on Red River Radio’s No Limits with Barbara Hodges on Tuesday, May 17. They talk about their individual and collaborative writing projects as well as their writing habits and how they've become intrigued with local history and found inspiration for their writing projects there.

You can hear the full interview here.

Lorna is the author of Ghost Writer. When unemployed computer programmer Nan Burton inherits a California beach cottage from her great-great-aunt, she’s delighted. But she’s in for a huge surprise: The house is haunted by the ghost of famous romance writer Max Murdoch (pen name Maxine DuBois) who insists Nan complete his last novel, threatening to keep her from sleeping until she agrees. The ensuing clash pits youth against the long-dead but still egotistical author with humorous and moving results. 



Richard Marranca and his recent book of short stories, The New Romantics: Ten Stories of Mystery, Passions, Travel and Vampires, was featured in a May 12 story in the Union News Daily. Reporter Jennifer Robino writes, "In his search for truth, Marranca explores both the past and present for the answers he seeks. He includes ideas from ancient and modern times in his work. He mentions historical figures in his stories, too.

'In the two vampire stories, there are references to Leonardo Da Vinci and Michel de Montaigne, one of the early kings of Thailand,” Marranca said. ‘Without nature and especially wild places, we’re lost souls.'”

You can read the full article here.

Richard also had a poem titled "Taxi Nirvana," published in the Paterson Literary Review (2016-2017 issue).

“Reading Richard's stories always touch something deep inside me, a longing for the mystical in the ordinary, for a deeper meaning in our everyday lives. If you're ready to embrace the unknown, these stories will take you on a fantastic ride!" -- Xenia Melzer, author of the Gods of War series published by Dreamspinner Press.


Mary Montague Sikes's watercolor painting, Journey of the Dragonfly, is part of the Virginia Watercolor Society’s 37th annual juried show that opens on Friday, May 20, at Gloucester Art on Main in Gloucester, Virgina.

Mary's most recent novel is Evening of the Dragonfly.

In the novel, threatening telephone calls and strange cars with dark-tinted windows plague artist/teacher Farrah Ferand. Recovering from the tragic loss of her mother, Farrah is trying to adapt to the life of a small-town art teacher when she encounters Dirk Lawrence, a mysterious stranger. Her attraction to him is immediate and electric until Farrah discovers Dirk is part of the Lawrence and Pendesky investment firm that led to her mother's downfall a few years earlier.

Farrah's not too perfect dating relationship with Tom Douglas, the town favorite football coach, worsens. An unexpected encounter leads to dates with Dirk and his help with the construction of a dream art studio in her rented house. But trouble looms with Tom who believes he and Farrah are engaged, and the entire town appears to be drawn in. Haunting dreams and lost memories overwhelm Farrah as she creates paintings for a one-person art show. Will shadows of the past ruin all hope for Farrah and Dirk?



Author and artist Beryl Reichenberg will again participate in this year's Festival in the Park, the centerpiece of Paso Artfest on May 28 in Paso Robles, California from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. She will host a booth where kids (and adults) can make a pop-out face card.

The event Beryl will provide the paper and supplies, and visitors provide the imagination and creativity. These cards require one cut and some folding. Beryl’s children’s books will also be for sale.

Her booth will be in the festival children’s area in downtown City Park on Spring Street. Artfest is for people of all ages and features art booths, food, music, kid’s activities, and much more. It is the highlight of Paso’s art community and a free event for all.

Beryl is also being featured at the Gallery at the Network in San Luis Obispo in a fiber show during the month of May. Anyone interested in seeing some of Beryl’s book art form should visit the gallery at 778 Higuera Street, Suite B, during business hours.
Beryl is the author many titles for children, including six from OTP: Butterfly Girls, Ants on a Log, Camouflage, Clowning Around, When Caterpillars Dream, and The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake.


C. Ed Traylor will be speaking and signing copies of his award-winning novel, The Crossing, on Tuesday, May 24, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Barnes and Noble, 3111 South Veterans Pkwy, in Springfield, Illinois.

The novel focuses on Racheed Ul-Bashar, a Pakistani whose grandfather and sister are killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan. Driven by revenge against the United States, the obsessive Racheed develops a minutely detailed plot, a synchronized attack that will hit three American cities on the anniversary of September 11. He obtains contact information of Juan Rodrequs, a violent, ruthless drug cartel leader in Juarez, Mexico, who agrees – for a price ― to move terrorists across the border and supply all materials needed for the attacks.

All goes well until Diego Garcia, a trusted ally and confidant of the cartel leader, is stopped for a speeding violation in Illinois.  There, 400 kilograms of cocaine are discovered, concealed in his vehicle, and he is facing significant prison time.  To save himself, Garcia, becomes an informant for agents of the FBI Anti-Terrorism Task Force.

Unbeknownst to the other terrorists, the informant, or the FBI Task Force, Racheed and his partner change plans at the last minute and enter the U.S. at a different location. This unexpected move forces the FBI Task Force to scramble. Will they be able to eliminate the threat to some of America’s largest cities and most cherished attractions?


Marilyn Meredith will be participating in a book signing at Zaca Mesa Winery in Los Olivos from on Sunday, May 29, from 1 to 4 p.m. She will be joined by nine other authors from the Central Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime. The winery has set up a web page to announce the event.

Marilyn is the author of the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series and recently released the 12th book in the series, A Crushing Death. A pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for violent attacks on women, and Officer Milligan’s teenage daughter has a problem.

"I've followed F.M. Meredith's Rocky Bluff PD series for a while now, and as one does in a good series, I've become rather fond of the characters who populate this small police department. They're now a literary ‘family’ I like catching up with regularly, and I haven't been disappointed. Besides the ‘family comfort’ feeling I derive from F. M.'s books, she always tells a good story.--M. M. Gornell


Thonie Hevron's Intent to Hold, book two in the Nick and Meredith Mysteries, has been chosen as a featured novel for the 2016 Copperfield’s/Redwood Writers Fiction Book Club. On the club's upcoming Book Club Night on May 31st from 6 to 7 p.m, Thonie will be reading, answering questions, and signing books at the Montgomery Village Copperfield’s, 775 Village Court, Santa Rosa, California. 

Thonie co-chairs  the Spotlight Fiction Book Club, a collaboration between Copperfield's Montgomery Village bookstore and Redwood Writers, a branch of the California Writers Club. The Spotlight Fiction Book Club meets from 6 to 7 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month at the store in Santa Rosa. Each meeting features a book by one of the club's members.

The spotlight is on the author, but according to the club's website, "The books aren’t the only enticing feature. How about a chat with the authors? You can ask, 'How did you start writing?' or 'What made you pick this time in history for your novel?' or just, 'What about that ending, eh?'"

Intent to Hold, Sonoma County Sheriffs Detectives Nick Reyes and Meredith Ryan travel to Mexico to rescue his kidnapped brother-in-law. 

Along the way, they battle corrupt cops, natural disasters, and even family to save his wife's brother. A fast-paced read that will have you on the edge of your seat.


John Taylor will be participating in the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California, which is scheduled for the weekend of June 4 and 5. John reports that "Last year there were 160 booths and the festival drew over 50,000 attendees. This year there will be 200 booths." There will be two authors per booth.

John's latest novel is O.I.S: Officer Involved Shooting. August, 2014. Oakland, California. A white police officer shoots and kills an unarmed black man. Protesters march and their rallying cries echo through the streets:  “Black lives matter! Hands up, don’t shoot! I can’t breathe!” Outside agitators swarm into the city to incite unrest. Police mobilize to prevent mob violence and looting. Rioting erupts. Oakland teeters on the verge of anarchy.

Buried under an avalanche of scathing criticism is OPD Officer Shane Barrow’s account of that fatal encounter.  A routine traffic stop escalates into a fierce life and death struggle between the driver and Shane for control of his holstered pistol, compelling Shane to shoot his attacker in a desperate fight for survival. But the Black Lives Matter movement scorns his version of the controversy and brands him as just another racist, trigger-happy cop guilty of murdering a defenseless black man.

This unjust persecution and relentless negative media coverage traumatizes Shane, cripples him with self-doubt, and sets the stage for a stunning conclusion with tragic consequences.

Virgil Alexander participated in the Arizona History Convention in Yuma, Arizona, on April 14 to 17. There, he presented a paper on John B. “Jack” Newman. Virgil sums up the trip and provides some helpful tips about these kinds of presentations in an April 26 post on his blog.

Virgil and his wife lived in Yuma in the past, so their trip there was both professional and personal. You can read the full trip report here.


Marilyn Meredith blogged this week on her Marilyn's Musings blog about making time to write. She says, "A similar question was on one of the other blogs I appear on, except it was why do WE write.

"I'm only going to speak for myself, but I must admit there are times that I wonder.

"I received a quarterly report and royalties from one of my publishers--and it was just about enough for a nice dinner out for husband and me. Not much of a reward for all the time I put in writing.

"On the good side, several of the books in that particular series were purchased--both paperback and e-books. That means people are interested in the series."

You can read the full post here.

Marilyn is the author of the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.


John Lindermuth welcomed Carol Crigger to his Lindy's Lair blog this week in a post that talks about how music can influence the writer.

She writes, "It’s funny how a tune can get in your mind. Earworms, right? Only for this purpose, it’s not quite the same thing. You don’t need to know all the lyrics of the song. All you need hear is one certain phrase and it’ll catch you up and form a whole story in a matter of seconds. Or a whole book. Isn’t that amazing? From just a few simple words and a tune?"

You can read the full post here. 

John is the author of Fallen from Grace and Sooner Than Gold.


Jackie Taylor Zortman updated her Jackie's Mountain Memos blog this week with a post about National Police Week and how it ties in with her writing.

She writes, "Back in July 2009, retired high-profile police officer/judge/national instructor, Ed Nowicki, asked for manuscripts for an anthology he was doing called American Blue. I was honored to have been one of 50 (out of 170) entries that made the cut and the book was published by Varro Press ( in 2011 where it’s still available. All authors agreed we would not be paid and 100% of the royalties would be donated to the National Law Enforcement Museum. Below is not an actual excerpt, but a rewritten and brief part of what my chapter said."

You can read the full post here.

Jackie is the author of We Are Different Now and Footprints in the Frost. 


That wraps up the Roundup for this week! We hope you enjoyed our news.
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Richard Paolinelli said...

Another busy week for my OTP bretheran and sisteran (is that even a word?) Well done everyone.

Billie Johnson said...

Yowsah! Thee is a lot of hustle going on!! Gotta love it!!

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Jackie Taylor Zortman said...

The OTP hive is still buzzing with so many busy bees. Great job again this week!

Frederick Savage said...

Very interesting new release and author information. Thanks!

Dac said...

Nice roundup, as usual. Thanks!

Eileen Obser said...

Great to read all the latest news from the OTP tribe. Always a pleasure!

Lorna Collins - said...

We really enjoyed sharing Barbara Hodges's interview with Amy Bennett! We had a great time.

William said...

Very well done blog with many interesting books.

Jeff Zwagerman said...

Always amazing how so many can find so much to do. Thanks.

Nancy LiPetri said...

So much to be read! We are getting spoiled with such action-packed roundups.

Carolyn Niethammer said...

What a breadth of genres and topics! And some intriguing covers as well.

Amy Bennett said...

I'm so glad I was able to join Barbara and Larry and Lorna on the radio show this past week! It was my birthday, too, so I loved being able to promote my book on that day. And I was thrilled that, in spite of the craziness of my "real world job" this month, I was able to take some time and enjoy the "real job"!

Holli Castillo said...

So many new OTP books, so little time--and so much going on with the authors. Definitely new stuff to add to my ever-growing TBR list (meaning my Kindle) and so many new (to me) writers to discover.

John M. Wills said...

As usual, there's something for everyone at Oak Tree Press.

Serita Stevens said...

All these books seem yummy. Anyone got a way to clone themselves and make more time!!

David Freedland said...

I like the photos - it's great to associate the author's face with the titles and book covers. Many new books and interesting plots. Nice work on the format.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Great Round-Up as always, Nancy! The Virginia Watercolor weekend was fun and inspiring. Thanks for putting so much activity together!

Janet Greger said...

Everyone's been busy as usual.

Billie Johnson said...


Anonymous said...


Tara Willis said...

It's quite an inspiration, I find anyway, to see other authors books and especially book titles. Often the way I create the perfect title for my own books is to combine different things from many different titles already on shelves. So cool to get inspiration like this. :) A book is never truly a one person job :)

Channing Whitaker said...

Is Amy's radio interview online anywhere?